Brother Martin bowed and went.
“A dangerous man,” muttered the Abbot, as the door closed on him; “too honest for our game, and too much an Englishman. That native spirit peeps beneath his cowl; a monk should have no country and no kin. Well, he will learn a trick or two in Spain, and I’ll make sure they keep him there a while. Now for my letters,” and he sat down at the rude table and began to write.
Half-an-hour later the door opened and Martin entered.
“What is it now?” asked the Abbot testily. “I said, ’Come back in an hour.’”
“Aye, you said that, but I have good news for you that I thought you might like to hear.”
“Out with it, then, man. It’s scarce now-a-days. Have they found those jewels? No, how could they? the place still flares,” and he glanced through the window-place. “What’s the news?”
“Better than jewels. Christopher Harflete is not dead. While I was praying over him he turned his head and muttered. I think he is only stunned. You are skilled in medicine; come, look at him.”
A minute later and the Abbot knelt over the senseless form of Christopher where it lay on the filthy floor of the neat-house. By the light of the lanterns with deft fingers he felt his wounded head, from which the shattered casque had been removed, and afterwards his heart and pulse.
“The skull is cut, but not broken,” he said. “My judgment is that though he may lie unsensed for days, if fed and tended this man will live, being so young and strong. But if left alone in this cold place he will be dead by morning, and perhaps he is better dead,” and he looked at Martin.
“That would be murder indeed,” answered the secretary. “Come, let us bear him to the fire and pour milk down his throat. We may save him yet. Lift you his feet and I will take his head.”
The Abbot did so, not very willingly, as it seemed to Martin, but rather as one who has no choice.
Half-an-hour later, when the hurts of Christopher had been dressed with ointment and bound up, and milk poured down his throat, which he swallowed although he was so senseless, the Abbot, looking at him, said to Martin—
“You gave orders for this Harflete’s burial, did you not?”
The monk nodded.
“Then have you told any that he needs no grave at present?”
“No one except yourself.”
The Abbot thought a while, rubbing his shaven chin.
“I think the funeral should go forward,” he said presently. “Look not so frightened; I do not purpose to inter him living. But there is a dead man lying in that shed, Andrew Woods, my servant, the Scotch soldier whom Harflete slew. He has no friends here to claim him, and these two were of much the same height and breadth. Shrouded in a blanket, none would know one body from the other, and it will be thought that Andrew was buried with the rest. Let him be promoted in his death, and fill a knight’s grave.”