Thither came by presently a bluff priest of the town church that was like to give me a fall.
“What, Augustine!” he shouted, so that all on the jetty heard. “Whither art thou journeying?”
“And that thou wilt come near I will tell thee,” I replied, not knowing for the world his name.
“Whither art thou bound?” said he.
“To Coutances,” said I. “My lord archbishop, you remember.”
“My lord archbishop,” said he, “thou shouldst know is far from Coutances at this season—for his health.”
Here I was troubled, for I had told many that my lord had sent for me on a certain business.
“Ah, yes,” said I in haste, “before he went my lord left letters for me that I alone can fetch. But I must go aboard.”
“Stay,” said he, “a moment! What didst thou in that matter of Sir Hubert? There is a like case of conscience here in St Pierre.”
I hurriedly told him that it was not proper for me to disclose so nice a case of conscience, even to my dear friend himself. Whereat he looked strangely at me, I thought, and soon went on his way, wishing me shortly a good voyage to Normandy.
By three o’clock we sailed away. And glad I was to see this second time the highland of the isle grow dim and faint as we sped away with the wind behind us.
How I arrived at St. Malo, and, proceeding to the Abbey of St. Michael de Tombelaine, found friends to set me on my road.
With a straight course that naught delayed we ran to St. Malo, that ancient town hard by the holy Mount of St Michael, the mother-house of our Vale Abbey, where I had good hope that I should quickly thence be sped upon my way.
So when we had come to port, bidding the captain farewell, I chartered a good horse to reach the holy place where, as men say, the blessed Michael came down to bid St. Aubert build him a brave house on that lonely rock.
It was the hour of vespers when I attained the hostel of the mount, but I had been aware the last few miles of the sound of a trot behind me, whose pace was marvellous like mine own. If I stayed a moment, the rider behind likewise stayed; if I went at a gallop, he galloped also. It gave me some concern to be followed by a caitiff, watching for my purse, as I had only a sheath-knife with which to defend myself.
However, seeing the abbey lights gleam kindly through its narrow windows, I urged my beast on, though in sooth she was weary; and as I clattered at last into the yard, saw, as I waited for a space by the gateway, my follower walk his steed quietly by, peering the while as he passed.
Now, I strove as soon as was convenient to gain audience of my lord abbot. And this was not easy at that time for a simple secular priest, such as I appeared, for there was ever strife and common contempt ’twixt monk and parish priest, even as it is to-day.