The Lady of Blossholme eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 281 pages of information about The Lady of Blossholme.

CHAPTER II

THE MURDER BY THE MERE

For a while Sir John and his retainer rode in silence.  Then he laughed loudly.

“Jeffrey,” he called, “that was a near touch.  Sir Priest was minded to stick his Spanish pick-tooth between our ribs, and shrive us afterwards, as we lay dying, to salve his conscience.”

“Yes, master; only, being reasonable, he remembered that English swords have a longer reach, and that his bullies are in the Ford ale-house seeing the Old Year out, and so put it off.  Master, I have always told you that old October of yours is too strong to drink at noon.  It should be saved till bed-time.”

“What do you mean, man?”

“I mean that ale spoke yonder, not wisdom.  You have showed your hand and played the fool.”

“Who are you to teach me?” asked Sir John angrily.  “I meant that he should hear the truth for once, the slimy traitor.”

“Perhaps, perhaps; but these be bad days for Truth and those who court her.  Was it needful to tell him that to-morrow you journey to London upon a certain errand?”

“Why not?  I’ll be there before him.”

“Will you ever be there, master?  The road runs past the Abbey, and that priest has good ruffians in his pay who can hold their tongues.”

“Do you mean that he will waylay me?  I say he dare not.  Still, to please you, we will take the longer path through the forest.”

“A rough one, master; but who goes with you on this business?  Most of us are away with the wains, and others make holiday.  There are but three serving-men at the hall, and you cannot leave the Lady Cicely without a guard, or take her with you through this cold.  Remember there’s wealth yonder which some may need more even than your lands,” he added meaningly.  “Wait a while, then, till your people return or you can call up your tenants, and go to London as one of your quality should, with twenty good men at your back.”

“And so give our friend the Abbot time to get Cromwell’s ear, and through him that of the King.  No, no; I ride to-morrow at the dawn with you, or, if you are afraid, without you, as I have done before and taken no harm.”

“None shall say that Jeffrey Stokes is afraid of man or priest or devil,” answered the old soldier, colouring.  “Your road has been good enough for me this thirty years, and it is good enough now.  If I warned you it was not for my own sake, who care little what comes, but for yours and that of your house.”

“I know it,” said Sir John more kindly.  “Take not my words ill, my temper is up to-day.  Thank the saints! here is the hall at last.  Why! whose horse has passed the gates before us?”

Jeffrey glanced at the tracks which the moonlight showed very clearly in the new-fallen snow.

“Sir Christopher Harflete’s grey mare,” he said.  “I know the shoeing and the round shape of the hoof.  Doubtless he is visiting Mistress Cicely.”

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The Lady of Blossholme from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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