“Yet in the end, Sir Benedict, because thy love was a great and noble love, thou didst triumph over base self. So do I honour thee and pray that I, in like case, may act as nobly.”
“And now—she lieth dead! So for me is life ended also, methinks!”
“She is a saint in heaven, Benedict, living forever. As to thee, on whose skill and valiance the safety of this fair city doth hang—so hath God need of thee here, methinks. So now for thy sake and for her sake needs must I love thee ever and always, thou noble knight. She, being dead, yet liveth and shall go betwixt us henceforth, drawing us together in closer bonds of love and amity—is it not so, dear my friend?” And speaking, Beltane reached out his hands across his mother’s narrow grave, and straightway came Sir Benedict’s hands, swift and eager, to meet and clasp them.
For a while knelt they thus, hand clasping hand above that long, white stone whence stole to them the mingled fragrance of the flowers, like a silent benediction. And presently, together they arose and went their way; but now, seeing how Sir Benedict limped by reason of his wounds, Beltane set an arm about him. So came they together out of the shadows into the glory of the morning.
Now as they came forth of the minster, the tocsin rang loud in sudden alarm.
HOW GILES CURSED BELSAYE OUT OF HER FEAR
Within the market-place all was dire confusion; men hasted hither and thither, buckling on armour as they went, women wept and children wailed, while ever the bell clashed out its fierce summons.
Presently, through the populace cometh Sir Brian of Hartismere, equipped in his armour and leaning on the mailed arm of his brother Eric of the wry neck, but perceiving Sir Benedict and Beltane, they turned and came up forthwith.
“Eric—Brian, what meaneth the tumult?” questioned Sir Benedict, his eye kindling, “are we attacked—so soon?”
“Not so,” answered Sir Brian, “at the least—not by Ivo’s men.”
“’Tis worse than that,” sighed Eric, shaking his head, “yonder cometh a churchman, borne on the shoulders of his monks, and with choristers and acolytes attendant.”
“Ha!” said Sir Benedict, frowning and rubbing his chin, “I had dreaded this! The citizens do shake and shiver already, I’ll warrant me! There is nought like a cowl with bell, book and candle to sap the courage of your citizen soldier. Let us to the walls!”
In a corner hard by the main gate they beheld Giles, holding forth to Roger and Walkyn and Ulf, but perceiving Sir Benedict he ceased abruptly, and advancing, saluted the noble company each in turn, but addressed himself to Sir Benedict.