“I will not shame you,” the Queen proudly said; and then, with a change of voice: “O my Osmund! My Osmund, you have a folly that is divine, and I lack it.”
He caught her by each wrist, and stood crushing both her hands to his lips, with fierce staring. “Wife of my King! wife of my King!” he babbled; and then put her from him, crying, “I have not failed you! Praise God, I have not failed you!”
From her window she saw him ride away, a rich flush of glitter and color. In new armor with a smart emblazoned surcoat the lean pedant sat conspicuously erect; and as he went he sang defiantly, taunting the weakness of his flesh.
Sang Osmund Heleigh:
“Love sows, but lovers reap; and
ye will see
The loved eyes lighten, feel the loved lips cling
Never again when in the grave ye be
Incurious of your happiness in spring,
And get no grace of Love, there, whither he
That bartered life for love no love may bring.”
So he rode away and thus out of our history. But in the evening Gui Camoys came into Bristol under a flag of truce, and behind him heaved a litter wherein lay Osmund Heleigh’s body.
“For this man was frank and courteous,” Camoys said to the Queen, “and in the matter of the reparation he owed me acted very handsomely. It is fitting that he should have honorable interment.”
“That he shall not lack,” the Queen said, and gently unclasped from Osmund’s wrinkled neck the thin gold chain, now locketless. “There was a portrait here,” she said; “the portrait of a woman whom he loved in his youth, Messire Camoys. And all his life it lay above his heart.”
Camoys answered stiffly: “I imagine this same locket to have been the object which Messire Heleigh flung into the river, shortly before we began our combat. I do not rob the dead, madame.”
“Well,” the Queen said, “he always did queer things, and so, I shall always wonder what sort of lady he picked out to love, but it is none of my affair.”
Afterward she set to work on requisitions in the King’s name. But Osmund Heleigh she had interred at Ambresbury, commanding it to be written on his tomb that he died in the Queen’s cause.
How the same cause prospered (Nicolas concludes), how presently Dame Alianora reigned again in England and with what wisdom, and how in the end this great Queen died a nun at Ambresbury and all England wept therefor—this you may learn elsewhere. I have chosen to record six days of a long and eventful life; and (as Messire Heleigh might have done) I say modestly with him of old, Majores majora sonent. Nevertheless, I assert that many a forest was once a pocketful of acorns.
THE STORY OF THE TENSON
“Plagues a Dieu ja la nueitz non
Ni’l mieus amicx lone de mi nos partis,
Ni la gayta jorn ni alba ne vis.
Oy Dieus! oy Dieus! de l’alba tan tost we!”