Not that I mean to assert that either of these ladies was in love with me—far otherwise indeed. For this it would argue the conceit of a jack-a-dandy to imagine, much more to write such a thing. But, nevertheless, certain is it that this night they were both of small appetite.
HELENE HATES ME
However, when the provision came to the outer port, we three sat down about it, and then, by my troth, there was little to marvel at in the tardiness of our eating. For the rabbits seemed to come alive and positively leaped down our throats, the partridges almost flew at us out of the pot, the pigeons fairly rejoiced to be eaten. The broth and the gravy ebbed lower and lower in the pan and left all dry. But as soon as we had picked the bones roughly, for there was no time for fine work lest the others should get all the best, we threw the bones out to the hungry crew that watched us sitting round the stalls, their very jowls pendulous with envy.
So after a while we came to the end, and then I went to the entrance of the chamber where were bestowed the Little Playmate and the Lady Ysolinde. For I began to be anxious how Helene would be able to comport herself in the company of one so dainty and full of devices and convenances as the lady of the Weiss Thor.
But, by my faith, I need not have troubled about our little lass. For if there were any embarrassed, that one was certainly not Helene. And if any of us lacked reposefulness of manners, that one was certainly a staring jackanapes, who did not know which foot to stand upon, nor yet how to sit down on the oaken settle when a seat was offered him, nor, last of all, when nor how to take his departure when he had once sat down. And as to the identity of that jackass, there needs no further particularity.
Nevertheless, I talked pleasantly enough with both of them, and I might have been an acquaintance of the day for all the notice that the Little Playmate took of me, oven when the Lady Ysolinde told her, evidently not for the first time, of my standing sentry by the door and blowing upon the match at my girdle.
From without we heard presently the clapping of hands and loud deray of merrymaking, so I went to find out what it might be that was causing such an uproar.
There I found Jorian and Boris giving a kind of exhibition of their skill in military exercises. It might be, also, that they desired to teach a lesson for the benefit of the wild robber border folk and the yet more ruffianly kempers who foregathered in this strange inn of Erdberg on the borders of the Mark.
I summoned the maids that they might look on. For I wot the scene was a curious and pleasing one, and I could see that the eyes of the Lady Ysolinde glittered. But our little maid, being used to all these things from her youth, cared nothing for it, though the thing was indeed marvellous in itself.