“And then,” her father obediently continued, “the two doughty knights smote lustily with their swords. And each smote the other on the helmet and clove him to the middle. It was a fair battle and sightly.”
But Mary’s interest was unabated. “And then,” she urged, “what did they do then?”
“Not much, I think. Even a knight of the Table Round stops fighting for a while when that happens to him.”
“Didn’t they do anything ’tall?” the audience insisted. “You aren’t leaving it out, are you? Didn’t they bleed nor nothing?”
“Oh, yes, they bled.”
“Then tell me that part.”
“Well, they bled. They never stinteth bleeding for three days and three nights until they were pale as the very earth for bleeding. And they made a great dole.”
“And then, when they couldn’t bleed any more nor make any more dole, what did they do?”
“That’s the end of the story,” said the narrator definitely.
“Then tell me another,” she pleaded, “and don’t let them die so soon.”
“There wouldn’t be time for another long one,” he pointed out as he encouraged his horse into an ambling trot. “We are nearly there now.”
“After supper will you tell me one?”
“Yes,” he promised.
“One about Lancelot and Elaine?”
“Yes,” he repeated. “Anything you choose.”
“I choose Lancelot,” she declared.
“A great many ladies did,” commented her father as the horse sedately stopped before the office of the Arcady Herald-Journal, of which he was day and night editor, sporting editor, proprietor, society editor, chief of the advertising department, and occasionally type-setter and printer and printer’s devil.
Mary held the horse, which stood in need of no such restraint, while this composite of newspaper secured his mail, and then they jogged off through the spring sunshine, side by side, in the ramshackle old buggy on a leisurely canvass of outlying districts in search of news or advertisements, or suggestions for the forthcoming issue.
In the wide-set, round, opened eyes of his small daughter, Herbert Buckley was the most wonderful person in the world. No stories were so enthralling as his. No songs so tuneful, no invention so fertile, no temper so sweet, no companionship so precious. And her nine happy years of life had shown her no better way of spending summer days or winter evenings than in journeying, led by his hand and guided by his voice, through the pleasant ways of Camelot and the shining times of chivalry.