“And yet, tall brother, and yet ’tis belike but some gentle troubadour that singeth songs to their delectation, and ’tis meet to hark to songs sweet-sung—at moonrise, lord!”
“And wherefore at moonrise?”
“’Tis at this sweet hour your minstrel singeth best. Aye me, and to-night there is a moon!” Hereupon Beltane must needs turn to scowl upon the moon just topping the distant woods. Now as they sat thus, cometh Roger with bread and meat for his lord’s acceptance; but Beltane, setting it aside, stared on Roger with baleful eye.
“Roger,” said he, “wherefore hast avoided me this day?”
“Avoided thee, master—I?”
“And what did you this morning in the Reeve’s garden?”
“Master, in this big world are two beings that I do truly love, and thou art one and the other Sir Fidelis thy right sweet and noble lady— so is it my joy to serve her when I may, thus daily do I go aid her with the sick.”
“And what of him that singeth; saw you this troubadour within the garden?”
“Troubadour?” quoth Roger, staring.
“Why verily,” nodded Giles, “my lord meaneth the tall and goodly fellow in the cloak of blue camlet, Roger.”
“Ne’er have I seen one in blue cloak!” said Roger, “and this do I swear!”
“None the less,” said Beltane, rising, “I will seek him there myself.”
“At moonrise, lord?” questioned Giles.
“Aye,” said Beltane grimly; “at moonrise!” and scowling he turned away.
“Aha!” quoth Giles, nudging Roger with roguish elbow, “it worketh, Roger, it worketh!”
“Aye, Giles, it worketh so well that an my master get his hands on this singing fellow—then woe betide this singing fellow, say I.”
TELLETH WHAT BEFELL IN THE REEVE’S GARDEN
The moon was already filling the night with her soft splendour when Beltane, coming to a certain wall, swung himself up, and, being there, paused to breathe the sweet perfume of the flowers whose languorous fragrance wrought in him a yearning deep and passionate, and ever as love-longing grew, bitterness and anger were forgot. Very still was it within this sheltered garden, where, fraught by the moon’s soft magic, all things did seem to find them added beauties.
But, even as he paused thus, he heard a step approaching, a man’s tread, quick and light yet assured, and he beheld one shrouded in a long cloak of blue, a tall figure that hasted through the garden and vanished behind the tall yew hedge.
Down sprang Beltane fierce-eyed, trampling the tender flowers under cruel feet, and as he in turn passed behind the hedge the moon glittered evilly on his dagger blade. Quick and soft of foot went he until, beholding a faint light amid the leaves, he paused, then hasted on and thus came to an arbour bowered in eglantine.
She sat at a table where burned a rushlight that glowed among the splendour of her hair, for her head was bowed above the letter she was writing.