She certainly enjoyed, upon her first removal from Bannerworth Hall, greater serenity of mind than she had done there; but, as we have already remarked of her, the more her mind was withdrawn, by change of scene, from the horrible considerations which the attack of the vampyre had forced upon her, the more she reverted to the fate of Charles Holland, which was still shrouded in so much gloom.
She would sit and converse with her mother upon that subject until she worked up her feelings to a most uncomfortable pitch of excitement, and then Mrs. Bannerworth would get her younger brother to join them, who would occasionally read to her some compositions of his own, or of some favourite writer whom he thought would amuse her.
It was on the very evening when Sir Francis Varney had made up his mind to release Charles Holland, that young Bannerworth read to his sister and his mother the following little chivalric incident, which he told them he had himself collated from authentic sources:—
“The knight with the green shield,” exclaimed one of a party of men-at-arms, who were drinking together at an ancient hostel, not far from Shrewsbury—“the knight with the green shield is as good a knight as ever buckled on a sword, or wore spurs.”—“Then how comes it he is not one of the victors in the day’s tournament?” exclaimed another.—“By the bones of Alfred!” said a third, “a man must be judged of by his deserts, and not by the partiality of his friends. That’s my opinion, friends.”—“And mine, too,” said another.
“That is all very true, and my opinion would go with yours, too; but not in this instance. Though you may accuse me of partiality, yet I am not so; for I have seen some of the victors of to-day by no means forward in the press of battle-men who, I will not say feared danger, but who liked it not so well but they avoided it as much as possible.”
“Ay, marry, and so have I. The reason is, ’tis much easier to face a blunted lance, than one with a spear-head; and a man may practise the one and thrive in it, but not the other; for the best lance in the tournament is not always the best arm in the battle.”
“And that is the reason of my saying the knight with the green shield was a good knight. I have seen him in the midst of the melee, when men and horses have been hurled to the ground by the shock; there he has behaved himself like a brave knight, and has more than once been noticed for it.”
“But how canne he to be so easily overthrown to-day? That speaks something.”—“His horse is an old one.”
“So much the better,” said another; “he’s used to his work, and as cunning as an old man.”—“But he has been wounded more than once, and is weakened very much: besides, I saw him lose his footing, else he had overthrown his opponent.
“He did not seem distressed about his accident, at all events, but sat contented in the tent.”—“He knows well that those who know him will never attribute his misadventure either to want of courage or conduct; moreover, he seems to be one of those who care but little for the opinion of men who care nothing for him.”