As if they had mutually arranged it “from all eternity,” as the clerks say, Jorian and Boris took, without hesitation, each a door on the opposite wall, and, setting their shoulders to them, they pushed them open, and went within sword in hand, leaving me alone to protect the ladies and to provide for the safety of the horses.
Presently out from the doors by which our conductors had entered there came tumbling a crowd of men and women, some carrying straw bolsters and wisps of hay, others bearing cooking utensils, and all in various dishabille. Then ensued a great buzzing and stirring, much angry growling on the part of the disturbed men, and shrill calling of women for their errant children.
Our little Helene looked sufficiently pitiful and disturbed as these preparations were being made. But the Lady Ysolinde scarcely noticed them, taking apparently all the riot and delay as so much testimony to the important quality of such great ones of the earth as could afford to travel under the escort of two valiant men-at-arms.
Presently came Jorian and Boris out at a third door, having met somewhere in the back parts of the warren.
They came up to the Lady Ysolinde and bowed humbly.
“Will your ladyship deign to choose her chamber? They are all empty. Thereafter we shall see that proper furniture, such as the place affords, is provided for your Highness.”
I could not but wonder at so much dignity expended upon the daughter of Master Gerard, the lawyer of Thorn. But Ysolinde took their reverence as a matter of course. She did not even speak, but only lifted her right hand with a little casual flirt of the fingers, which said, “Lead on!”
Then Jorian marshalled us within, Boris standing at the door to let us pass, and bringing his sword-blade with a little click of salute to the perpendicular as each of us passed. But I chanced to meet his eye as I went within, whereat the rogue deliberately winked, and I could plainly see his shoulders heave. I knew that he was still chewing the cud of his stale and ancient jest: “The Prince hath a Princess, and she—”
I could have disembowelled the villain. But, after all, he was certainly doing us some service, though in a most provocative and high-handed manner.
I STAND SENTRY
There are (say some) but two things worth the trouble of making in the world—war and love. So once upon a time I believed. But since—being laid up during the unkindly monotony of our Baltic spring by an ancient wound—I fell to the writing of this history, I would add to these two worthy adventures—the making of books. Which, till I tried my hand at the task myself, I would in no wise have allowed. But now, when the days are easterly of wind and the lashing water beats on the leaded lozenges of our window lattice, I am fain to stretch myself, take up a new pen, and be at it again all day.