"I have heard," whispered Wildrake who felt more and more strongly the contagion of superstition "that these words were blasphemously used by Harrison when he shot my poor friend Dick." "What happened next?" said Everard. "See that thou speakest the truth." "As gospel unexpounded by a steeple-man," said the Independent; "yet truly it is but little I have to say.
"You say true, sir," said Wildrake; "it is, sir, a cartel, introducing to a single combat, for the pacific object of restoring a perfect good understanding betwixt the survivors in case that fortunately that word can be used in the plural after the event of the meeting." "In short, we only fight, I suppose," replied the King, "that we may come to a perfectly good and amicable understanding?"
But take notice, that, should thy tongue betray my counsel, save in so far as carrying it to thy master, by all the blood which has been shed in these wild times, thou shalt die a thousand deaths in one!" "Do not fear me, sir," said Wildrake, whose natural boldness and carelessness of character was for the present time borne down and quelled, like that of falcon's in the presence of the eagle.
"Very like very like less than the pistol-shot would not waken me; even me, who with but an ordinary grace-cup, sleep as lightly as a maiden on the first of May, when she watches for the earliest beam to go to gather dew. But what are you about to do next?" "Nothing," answered Everard. "Nothing?" said Wildrake, in surprise.
"Say'st thou me?" said the General; "I profess thou art a bold companion, that can bandy words so wantonly; thou ring'st somewhat too loud to be good metal, methinks. And, once again, what are thy tidings with me?" "This packet," said Wildrake, "commended to your hands by Colonel Markham Everard."
The significant words remind one of the woodcock's feather with which Wildrake warned the disguised monarch that no time was to be lost in fleeing from Woodstock. But if the hint was curt, it was no less wise. There was no doubt that it was full time for the sage to be exchanging his farewells, when such a point had been reached.
The Colonel hastened to appease this new alarm of the watchful jealousy of his consequence, which, joined with a natural heat of temper which he could not always subdue, were the good man's only faults. They had regained their former friendly footing, when Roger Wildrake returned from the hut of Joceline, and whispered his master that his embassy had been successful.
"Jest not, Wildrake it is all over with me," said Everard. "The devil it is," exclaimed Wildrake, "and you take it thus quietly! Zounds! let us back together I'll plead your cause for you I know how to tickle up an old knight and a pretty maiden Let me alone for putting you rectus in curia, you canting rogue.
I have done something too. My name is Roger Wildrake of Squattlesea-mere, Lincoln; not that you are ever like to have heard it before, but I was captain in Lunsford's light-horse, and afterwards with Goring. I was a child-eater, sir a babe-bolter." "I have heard of your regiment's exploits, sir; and perhaps you may find I have seen some of them, if we should spend ten minutes together.
I tell you we were enclosed with the cockneys' pikes both front and rear, and we should have come off but ill had not Lunford's light-horse, the babe-eaters, as they called them, charged up to the pike's point, and brought us off." "I am glad you thought on that, Sir Henry," said Wildrake; "and do you remember what the officer of Lunsford's said?" "I think I do," said Sir Henry, smiling.