Beltane the Smith eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 506 pages of information about Beltane the Smith.
his head.  So stood Beltane, unhelmed, staring dazedly from heaving earth to reeling heaven; yet, of a sudden, shook aloft the fragment of his splintered lance and laughed fierce and loud, to behold, ’twixt reeling earth and sky, a great roan stallion that foamed upon his bit ’neath sharp-drawn rein, as, swaying sideways from the lofty saddle, Sir Gilles of Brandonmere crashed to earth, transfixed through shield and hauberk, through breast and back, upon the shaft of a broken lance.  High over him leapt Beltane, to catch the roan’s loose bridle, to swing himself up, and so, with stirrups flying and amid a sudden clamour of roaring voices, to thunder down the lists where Roger’s heavy sword flashed, as smiting right and left, he stooped and swung the maid Mellent before him.

“Ride, Roger—­ride!  Spur—­spur!” shouted Beltane above the gathering din, and shouting, drew his sword, for now before them, steel glittered and cries rang upon the air: 

“’Tis Beltane the outlaw!  Seize him—­slay him!  ’Tis the outlaw!”

But knee and knee, with loose rein and goading spur rode they, and nought could avail and none were quick enough to stay that headlong gallop; side by side they thundered over the ling, and knee and knee they leapt the barrier, bursting through bewildered soldiery, scattering frighted country-folk, and so away, over gorse and heather and with arrows, drawn at a venture, whistling by them.  Betimes they reached the shelter of the woods, and turning, Beltane beheld a confusion of armed men, a-horse and a-foot, what time borne upon the air came a sound hoarse and menacing, a sound dreadful to hear—­the sound of the hue and cry.

CHAPTER XL

FURTHER CONCERNING THE MAID MELLENT; AND OF THE HUE AND CRY

Fast they galloped ’neath the trees, stooping ever and anon to avoid some low-swung branch; through grassy rides and sunny glades, until all sound of pursuit was died away.  So, turning aside into the denser green, Beltane stayed, and sprang down to tighten the great roan’s saddle-girths, strained in the encounter.  Now as he was busied thus, came the maid Mellent, very pale ’neath her long black hair, and spake him low-voiced and humble: 

“My lord Beltane, thou, at peril of thy body, hath saved to-day a sorrowful maid from the fiery torment.  So to prove my gratitude and sorrow for past ill—­now will I tell thee that in saving me, thou hast saved one that for ambition’s sake, once did thee grievous wrong.”

“Thou!” saith Beltane, staring in amaze, “ne’er hast thou seen me until this day!”

“Verily, messire—­O messire, thou hast indeed seen me ere this and—­to my bitter sorrow—­for I who speak am the lady Winfrida—­”

“Nay—­nay—­” stammered Beltane, “here is thing impossible—­thy night-black hair—­”

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Project Gutenberg
Beltane the Smith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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