Beltane the Smith eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 506 pages of information about Beltane the Smith.

Hereafter went they a while in silence, until of a sudden Roger halted and clapped hand to thigh.

“Master, we go the wrong way, methinks.”

“Not so, we be close upon the forest road, Roger.”

“But thou dost know her faithful, master, pure and holy in mind and body—­at sure of this at last!”

“Aye,” sighed Beltane, “at last!”

“Why then, lord, let us incontinent seek her out.”

“She is in for Mortain, Roger, moreover—­”

“Nay, master, forsooth she is—­hum! aye, she’s in Mortain, mayhap, but ’tis none so far to Mortain for such legs as thine and mine.  And belike we may—­chance upon her by the way, or—­or she with us, or both!”

“Even so, needs must I to my duty.”

“Thy duty!—­aye, master—­thy duty is to woo her, wed her, take her to thy arms and—­”

“I tell thee, Roger, ne’er will I speak word of love to her until I have proved myself in some sense fit and worthy.  First will I free Pentavalon as I did swear—­”

“Nay, master, wed first thy Duchess, so shall she aid thee in thy vows, and thereafter—­”

“Enough!” cried Beltane, “think ye ’tis so easy to thus gainsay the love that burns me?  But shame were it that I, beggared in fortune, my friends few, should wed her in my dire need, dragging thereby peaceful Mortain to mine aid and the bloody arbitrament of battle.  Moreover, hast forgot the oath I sware—­that nought henceforth should let or stay me?”

“Master,” sighed Roger, “there be times, methinks, thou dost swear over-many oaths.  Art man and woman full of youth and love, wherefore not marry?  Wherefore heed a vow here or there?  Needs must I wrestle with the good Saint Cuthbert in the matter.”

But here Beltane fell again to meditation and Roger likewise.  So came they presently to the forest-road, and turning north towards Winisfarne they strode on, side by side, in silence profound and deep.  And of a sudden upon this silence, rose a voice high-pitched and quavering: 

“O ye that have eyes, have pity—­show mercy on one that is maimed and helpless, and creepeth ever in the dark.”

CHAPTER LI

HOW BLACK ROGER WON TO FULLER MANHOOD

Forthwith Beltane paused, and presently beheld one that sat by the wayside—­a man who crouched ’neath a dusty cloak and kept his white head down-bent and who now reached out a hand to grope and grope for the staff that lay near; wherefore Beltane took hold upon this hand and raised the white-haired traveller, and thereafter put the cudgel in his grasp.

“Messire,” said the blind man, “though I have no eyes I do know thee young, for thy clasp is strong and quick with life, yet wondrous gentle.  God bless thee, youthful sir, for ’tis well to meet with gentleness within a world so cruel.  Tell me, I pray, doth this road lead unto Belsaye town?”

“Verily,” answered Beltane, “but ’tis a long day’s march thither.”

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