“Yet doth Sir Benedict withstand them all, my father!”
“Yet must he keep ever within Bourne, Beltane. All Pentavalon, save Bourne, lieth ’neath Ivo’s iron foot, ruled by his fierce nobles, and they be strong and many, ’gainst whom Sir Benedict is helpless in the field. ’Tis but five years agone since Ivo gave up fair Belsaye town to ravishment and pillage, and thereafter, builded him a mighty gallows over against it and hanged many men thereon.”
Now hereupon, of a sudden, Beltane clenched his hands and fell upon his knees.
“Father,” said he, “Pentavalon indeed doth cry, so must I now arise and go unto her. Give me thy blessing that I may go.”
Then the hermit laid his hands upon Beltane’s golden head and blessed him, and whispered awhile in passionate prayer. Thereafter Beltane arose and, together, they came out into the sunshine.
“South and by west must you march, dear son, and God, methinks, shall go beside thee, for thy feet shall tread a path where Death shall lie in wait for thee. Let thine eyes be watchful therefore, and thine ears quick to hear. Hearken you to all men, yet speak you few words and soft. But, when you act, let your deeds shout unto heaven, that all Pentavalon may know a man is come to lead them who fears only God. And so, my Beltane, fare-thee-well! Come, kiss me, boy; our next kiss, perchance—shall be in heaven.”
And thus they kissed, and looked within each other’s eyes; then Beltane turned him, swift and sudden, and strode upon his way. But, in a little, looking back, he saw his father, kneeling before the cross, with long, gaunt arms upraised to heaven.
How Beltane talked with one hight Giles Brabblecombe, who was A notable and learned archer
The morning was yet young when my Beltane fared forth into the world, a joyous, golden morning trilling with the glad song of birds and rich with a thousand dewy scents; a fair, sweet, joyous world it was indeed, whose glories, stealing in at eye and ear, filled him with their gladness. On strode my Beltane by rippling brook and sleepy pool, with step swift and light and eyes wide and shining, threading an unerring course as only a forester might; now crossing some broad and sunny glade where dawn yet lingered in rosy mist, anon plunging into the green twilight of dell and dingle, through tangled brush and scented bracken gemmed yet with dewy fire, by marsh and swamp and lichened rock, until he came out upon the forest road, that great road laid by the iron men of Rome, but now little better than a grassy track, yet here and there, with mossy stone set up to the glory of proud emperor and hardy centurion long since dust and ashes; a rutted track, indeed, but leading ever on, ’neath mighty trees, over hill and dale towards the blue mystery beyond.