In the kitchen Lance sat and watched her, and made love to her with his big eyes, with his voice that made of the most commonplace remark a caress. But that night, when Mary Hope was asleep and Belle was dozing beside the stricken woman, Lance saddled Jamie and led Coaley home.
"About eight days ago, I rode into the imperial city beyond this forest. A grand tournament and tilting was held there, and I spared neither lance nor steed. As I stood still a moment to rest myself, in a pause of the noble game, and had just given my helmet in charge to a squire, my eye fell upon a most beautiful woman, who stood, richly adorned, in one of the galleries, looking on.
He did not believe in the harsh man's theory of their outlawry; yet he felt a reluctance toward meeting again their silent measurement of himself, their intangible aloofness. The harsh-voiced man had dragged it all to the surface, roughly sketching for the delectation of his friends the very things which Lance had been deliberately covering from his own eyes. He had done more.
"A captive to my sword and to my lance, noble Captain," replied the Clerk of Copmanhurst; "to my bow and to my halberd, I should rather say; and yet I have redeemed him by my divinity from a worse captivity.
A shade too severe, perhaps; yet sympathy for her was tinged with exultation that Lance had held his own. Mrs Ranyard was right. Here was a man set firmly on his feet.... Miss Arden's voice drew his wandering attention back to herself. "We may as well finish this. Or are you also engaged?" Her light stress on the word held a significance he did not miss.
But of this threat Brannan denied all knowledge whatsoever. Davies, feeling sure that the young soldier was concealing something, decided to ask no more questions inviting more lies, but to wait and report the affair to the captain after breakfast. This time the sergeants did not overlook the lance corporal in the distribution of coffee and rations.
Seeing that the despot's horse was rearing its head so as to protect its master's body, he turned his own horse a little to one side, and, seizing his lance firmly with both hands, drove it through his body and cast him from his horse.
When they came to the chapel, the two knights who escorted him took leave of the candidate, each saluting him with a kiss upon the cheek. No one remained with him but his squires of honor, the priest, and the chandler. In the mean time the novitiate's armor, sword, lance, and helmet had been laid in readiness before the altar.
"It was night before last when it rained so hard," resumed Lance. "He was there going over Latin exercises or something, with the Doctor. Mrs. Sharp asked him to stay all night, when it came on so hard to rain, and the old Prof thanked her and said he would. "Mr. Sharp went into his office to do something or other and left Old Dimple in the library for a while. The family lost track of him then.
But Meriones, the brave charioteer of Idomeneus, came in about the cast of a lance behind Menelaus; for his horses were the slowest, and he was himself but a sluggish driver. Last of all came Eumelus, the son of Admetus, dragging his broken chariot.