“As Helen, good friar, as Helen the Beautiful, Duchess of Mortain!”
“Ah!” sighed the friar, and forthwith popped the leek into the pot. “I prithee, noble son, reach me the salt-box yonder!”
CONCERNING A BLUE CAMLET CLOAK
Next morning, ere the sun was up, came Beltane into the minster and hiding within the deeper gloom of the choir, sat there hushing his breath to listen, trembling in eager anticipation. Slowly amid the dimness above came a glimmer from the great window, a pale beam that grew with dawn until up rose the sun and the window glowed in many-hued splendour.
And in a while to Beltane’s straining senses came the faint creak of a door, a soft rustle, the swift light tread of feet, and starting forth of his lurking place he stepped forward with yearning arms outstretched—then paused of a sudden beholding her who stood at gaze, one slender foot advanced and white hands full of roses and lilies, one as fair, as sweet and pure as the fragrant blooms she bore. Small was she and slender, and of a radiant loveliness, red of lip and grey-eyed: now beholding Beltane thus suddenly, she shrank and uttered a soft cry.
“Nay,” quoth he, “fear me not, sweet maid, methought thee other than thou art—I grieve that I did fright thee—forgive me, I pray,” so saying, he sighed and bowing full humbly, turned, but even so paused again: “Thou art methinks the Reeve’s fair daughter—thou art the lady Genevra?” he questioned.
“Aye, my lord.”
“Then, an thou dost love, gentle maid, heaven send thee happier in thy love than I.” At the which Genevra’s gentle eyes grew softer yet and her sweet mouth full pitiful and tender.
“Art thou so unhappy, lord Beltane?”
“Aye, truly!” he sighed, and drooped mournful head.
“Ah, messire, then fain would I aid thee an I might!” said she, soft-voiced.
“Then where, I pray you, is she that came here yesterday?”
“Nay, lord, how may I tell thee this? There be many women in Belsaye town.”
“For me,” quoth Beltane, “in all the world there is but one and to this one, alas! thou canst not aid me, yet for thy kind intent I thank thee, and so farewell, sweet maid.” Thus saying, he took three steps away from her, then turning, came back in two. “Stay,” quoth he, slipping hand in wallet, “know you this shoe?”
Now beholding this, Genevra’s red lips quivered roguishly, and she bowed her little, shapely head:
“Indeed, my lord, ’tis mine!” said she.
“Then pray you, who was she did wear it yesterday—?”
“Aye, messire, ’twas yesterday I—missed it, wilt not give it me therefore? One shoe can avail thee nothing and—and ’tis too small for thee to wear methinks—”
“Did she—she that lost this yesterday, send thee to-day in her stead?”
“Wilt not give a poor maid her shoe again, messire?”