Beltane the Smith eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 669 pages of information about Beltane the Smith.
felt his heart burst in sunder, and he groaned, and rising to stumbling feet came to his horse and mounted and rode away ’neath grim portcullis and over echoing drawbridge, yet, whithersoever he looked, he saw only his brother’s dead face, pale and bloody.  And fain he would have prayed but could not, and so he came into the forest.  All day long he rode beneath the trees careless of his going, conscious only that Benedict of Bourne rode behind with his bloody war-cloak wrapped about him.  But on rode the Duke with hanging head and listless hands for before his haggard eyes was ever the pale, dead face of Johan his brother.  Now, as the moon rose, they came to a brook that whispered soft-voiced amid the shadows and here his war-horse stayed to drink.  Then came Sir Benedict of Bourne beside him, ‘Lord Duke,’ said he, ‘what hast thou in thy mind to do?’ ‘I know not,’ said the Duke, ’though methinks ‘twere sweet to die.’  ’Then what of the babe, lord Duke?’ and, speaking, Sir Benedict drew aside his cloak and showed the babe asleep beneath.  But, looking upon its innocence, the Duke cried out and hid his face, for the babe’s golden curls were dabbled with the blood from Sir Benedict’s wound and looked even as had the face of the dead Johan.  Yet, in a while, the Duke reached out and took the child and setting it against his breast, turned his horse.  Said Sir Benedict:  ‘Whither do we ride, lord Duke?’ Then spake the Duke on this wise:  ’Sir Benedict, Duke Beltane is no more, the stroke that slew my brother Johan killed Duke Beltane also.  But as for you, get you to Pentavalon and say the Duke is dead, in proof whereof take you this my ring and so, farewell.’  Then, my Beltane, God guiding me, I brought thee to these solitudes, for I am he that was the Duke Beltane, and thou art my son indeed.”



Thus spake the hermit Ambrose and, having made an end, sat thereafter with his head bowed upon his hands, while Beltane stood wide-eyed yet seeing not, and with lips apart yet dumb by reason of the wonder of it; therefore, in a while, the hermit spake again: 

“Thus did we live together, thou and I, dear son, and I loved thee well, my Beltane:  with each succeeding day I loved thee better, for as thine understanding grew, so grew my love for thee.  Therefore, so soon as thou wert of an age, set in thy strength and able to thine own support, I tore myself from thy sweet fellowship and lived alone lest, having thee, I might come nigh to happiness.”

Then Beltane sank upon his knees and caught the hermit’s wasted hands and kissed them oft, saying: 

“Much hast thou suffered, O my father, but now am I come to thee again and, knowing all things, here will I bide and leave thee nevermore.”  Now in the hermit’s pale cheek came a faint and sudden glow, and in his eyes a light not of the sun.

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