“Sir Benedict,” said he hoarse-voiced, “thou good and noble knight—O Benedict, dear my friend, kneel not to me. For thy so great love, thy faith and loyalty, fain would I thank thee—yet words be so poor, and I—O, Benedict—”
“Lord,” said Benedict, “our camp lieth scarce three miles westward, come, I pray thee—”
“Nay, first come ye, friend, and look upon a dead witch that was indeed a noble woman.”
So Beltane brought Sir Benedict where lay the dead Jolette, smiling yet as though into the eyes of God. Now beholding her, Sir Benedict beckoned Roger and bid him stimmon certain of his company, forthwith; and when Roger hasted back with divers awestruck fellows at his heels, they stood staring, amazed to behold these two great knights humbly kneeling side by side to pray for the soul of her who, all her days, had been scorned of men as the witch Jolette.
HOW THEY MARCHED FOR WINISFARNE
At peep of day the trumpets blew, and Beltane, starting up from slumber, found the great camp all astir about him; the smoke of a hundred watch-fires rose up into the stilly air of morning and made a fragrant mist amid the trees beneath which armour glinted as guard relieved guard and the new-waked companies mustered under arms. And ever as the sun rose the bustle waxed and grew, with a coming and going about the fires where the morning meal was preparing; here a mighty furbishing of arms and armour, yonder a prodigious hissing and so-hoing where chargers and pack-horses were picketed, line upon line—goodly beasts that stamped and snorted and whinnied joyously—and everywhere was noise and cheer of talk and laughter; yet everywhere was method and a strict orderliness in all things, wherefore Beltane’s very heart sang within him.
Now as he stood thus, viewing all things keen-eyed and watchful, he was presently aware of Sir Benedict and Black Roger who walked together within a distant alley; and as they passed them to and fro Black Roger talked amain, what time Sir Benedict seemed to hearken right solemn and attentive, oft pausing to question him quick and eager, and oft to clap hand to Roger’s brawny back; and sometimes laughed he blithe and joyous and sometimes hearkened with grizzled head a-droop, until a turn in the glade hid them from sight.
Little by little, above the resinous fragrance of the fires rose other scents more delectable to the nostrils of a hungry man, thus, waking from his meditations Beltane turned him wistfully towards where, above the nearest fire, a goodly cooking pot seethed and bubbled invitingly. But even now a hand slipped within his arm and holding him thus, Sir Benedict viewed him joyful-eyed and smiled on him his wry and twisted smile.
“Beltane,” said he, wagging his head, “O Beltane, thou wilt mind how upon a time as I drank a bowl of milk with thee amid the green in Mortain, I did warn thee that she had red hair and was like to prove a spit-fire, therefore!”