Now beyond the gate of the city was a well and beside the well they laid Beltane and bathed him with the sweet cool water, until at length the mist vanished from his sight and thus he beheld the White Abbess who lay upon a pile of cloaks hard by. And beholding the deadly pallor of lip and cheek, the awful stains that spotted her white robe and the fading light in those sad-sweet eyes, Beltane cried aloud—a great and bitter cry, and fell before her on his knees.
“Mother!” he groaned, “O my mother!”
“Dear my Beltane,” she whispered faintly, striving to kiss his hand, “death is none so—painful, so grieve not thine heart for me, sweet son. And how may a mother—die better than for her own—beloved son? Beltane, if God—O if God in His infinite mercy—shall think me worthy —to be—one of His holy angels, then will I be ever near thee when thy way proveth dark—to comfort thee—to aid thee. O dear my son—I sought thee so long—so long—’tis a little hard to leave thee—so soon. But—God’s will—fare thee well, I die—aye—this is death, methinks. Beltane, tell thy father that I—O—dear my—my Beltane—”
So died the gracious lady Abbess that had been the proud Yolande, Duchess of Pentavalon, wept and bemoaned by full many who had known her tender care; and, in due season, she was laid to rest within the fair Minster of Belsaye. And thereafter, Beltane took to his bed and abode there many days because of his wounds and by reason of his so great sorrow and heart-break.
But, that night, through the dark hours was strange stir and hum beyond the walls of Belsaye, and, when the dawn broke, many a stout heart quailed and many a cheek blanched to see a great camp whose fortified lines encompassed the city on all sides, where lay Ivo the Black Duke to besiege them.
TELLETH SOMEWHAT OF THE WOES OF GILES O’ THE BOW
Six days and nights my Beltane kept his bed, seeing and speaking to no man; and it is like he would have died but for the fostering care of the good Friar Martin who came and went softly about him, who watched and tended and prayed over him long and silently but who, perceiving his heart-sickness, spake him not at all. Day in and day out Beltane lay there, heedless of all but his great sorrow, sleeping little and eating less, his face hid in his pillow or turned to the wall, and in all this time he uttered no word nor shed a single tear.
His wounds healed apace but his soul had taken a deeper hurt, and day and night he sorrowed fiercely for his noble mother, wherefore he lay thus, heeding nought but his great grief. But upon the seventh night, he dreamed she stood beside his couch, tall and fair and gracious, and looked down on him, the mother-love alight within her sweet, sad eyes. Now within her hand she bare his sword and showed him the legend graven upon the bright steel: