“Get you gone, you false rogue! Get out of this house, aye, and out of England. If I meet you again, by God’s Blood I swear that King’s favourite or no King’s favourite, I’ll throat you like a hog!”
To which Deleroy mocked in answer:
“Good! I’ll go, my gentle cousin, which it suits me well to do who have certain business of the King’s awaiting me in France. Aye, I’ll go and leave you to settle with this worthy trader who may hold that you have duped him. Do it as you will, except in one fashion, of which you know. Now a word with my cousin Blanche and another at the Palace and I ride for Dover. Farewell, Cousin Aleys. Farewell, worthy merchant for whose loss I should grieve, did I not know that soon you will recoup yourself out of gentle pockets. Mourn not over me over much, either of you, since doubtless ere so very long I shall return.”
Now my blood flamed up and I answered:
“I pray you do not hurry, my lord, lest you should find me waiting for you with a shield and a sword in place of a warrant and a pen.”
He heard and called out, “Fore God, this chapman thinks himself a knight!”
Then with a mocking laugh he went.
Sir Robert and I stood facing each other speechless with rage, both of us. At length he said in a hoarse voice:
“Your pardon, Master Hastings, for the affronts that this bastard lordling has put upon you, an honest man. I tell you that he is a loose-living knave, as you would agree if you knew all his story, a cockatrice that for my sins I have nurtured in my bosom. ’Tis he that has wasted all my substance; ’tis he that has made free of my name, so that I fear me you are defrauded. ’Tis he that uses my house as though it were his own, bringing into it vile women of the Court, and men that are viler still, however high their names and gaudy their attire,” and he choked with his wrath and stopped.
“Why do you suffer these things, sir?” I asked.
“Forsooth because I must,” he answered sullenly, “for he has me and mine by the throat. This Deleroy is very powerful, Master Hastings. At a word from him whispered in the King’s ear, I, or you, or any man might find ourselves in the Tower accused of treason, whence we should appear no more.”
Then, as though he wished to get away from the subject of Deleroy and his hold upon him, he went on:
“I fear me that your money, or much of it, is in danger for Deleroy’s bond is worthless, and since the land is already pledged without my knowledge, I have nowhere to turn for gold. I tell you that I am an honest man if one who has fallen into ill company, and this wickedness cuts me deep, for I know not how you will be repaid.”
Now a thought came to me, and as was my bold fashion in all business, I acted on it instantly.