As he pauses, all eyes are fixed upon her towards whom his gaze is directed. There is no difficulty in detecting the object of his regards, for her attire is simpler than that of all the glittering dames around her, and of a sadder hue. Her confusion also betrays her. She would not be seen by him she came to see. She would muffle up her features, but it is too late; and she is not only fully exposed to his view, but to that of a hundred other curious eyes. Though many a high-born damsel marvels at the young knight’s insensibility to her own superior attractions, none can deny that the unknown maiden is exquisitely beautiful, and demands are eagerly made as to who she may be. No one can answer—and no clue is given by her companion, for the elderly dame by whom she is attended, and who resembles a duenna, is likewise unknown to all.
As soon as Sir Jocelyn recovers his surprise, he requests a favour from the lady of his love, and she cannot refuse him—for immediately all the dames in front of the gallery move aside, to let her advance.
With her pale cheeks crimsoned with blushes, and her dark eyes flashing with mingled emotions of shame and pleasure, Aveline steps forward—and having no other favour to bestow upon her knight, she gives him her kerchief, which he presses to his lips, and then with a graceful salutation moves forward on his course. This is no time for explanation—and he must be content with his happiness, without inquiring how it has been procured for him.
The incident, however, has been generally noticed, and causes a good deal of speculation and talk amongst the female portion of the assemblage. There is one individual, however, of the opposite sex, who witnesses it with sentiments different from those by which most other observers are affected. This is Sir Giles Mompesson. He, it appears, has not been unaware of Aveline’s presence at the jousts, though he did not anticipate its revelation in this manner to Sir Jocelyn; and a bitter smile crosses his lips, as he watches the brief interview between the pair. He cares not what transports they indulge in now—nor what hopes they form for the future. He promises himself that he will effectually mar their bliss!
The Felon Knight.
A few more bounds of his steed brought Sir Jocelyn to the royal gallery, where he dismounted, and leaving his steed in charge of an esquire, ascended the stairs in company with the marshals of the field, and presently found himself in the presence of the King. James received him very graciously. On the right of the monarch stood the Conde de Gondomar, who smiled on his protege as he approached, and glanced at a silver coffer full of diamonds, pearls, emeralds, amethysts, and other precious stones, borne by an attendant in the gorgeous livery of the Marquis of Buckingham.
“We greet ye as victor, Sir Jocelyn,” said James, as the young knight made a profound obeisance to him; “and it rejoices us to say ye hae demeaned yourself honourably and fairly in the field. How say ye, Sirs?” he added to the marshals and others. “Shall not the prize of the day be adjudged to Sir Jocelyn?”