“Many thanks, noble Sir Reginald; under such care as yours he cannot fail to prosper; I am secure of his welfare in your hands. One word more, Sir Reginald, I pray you. You are all-powerful with Prince Edward. My poor boy’s advancement is in your hand. One word in his favour to the Prince—a hint of the following I could send his pennon—”
“Sir Philip,” said Reginald, “you overrate my influence, and underrate the Prince’s judgment, if you imagine aught save personal merit would weigh with him. Your son shall have every opportunity of deserving his notice, but whether it be favourable or not must depend on himself. If you desire more, you must not seek it of me.”
Sir Philip protested that this was all he wished, and after reiterating his thanks, took his leave, promising that Leonard should be at Lynwood Keep on the next Monday, the day fixed for Sir Reginald’s departure.
The morning of departure arrived. The men-at-arms were drawn up in the court like so many statues of steel; Leonard Ashton sat on horseback, his eyes fixed on the door; Gaston d’Aubricour, wrapped in his gay mantle, stood caressing his Arab steed Brigliador, and telling him they should soon exchange the chilly fogs of England for the bright sun of Gascony; Ralph Penrose held his master’s horse, and a black powerful charger was prepared for Eustace, but still the brothers tarried.
“My Eleanor, this should not be!” said Reginald as his wife clung to him weeping. “Keep a good heart. ’Tis not for long. Take heed of your dealings with cousin Fulk. She knows not what I say. Father Cyril, keep guard over her and my boy, in case I should meet with any mishap.”
“I will, assuredly, my son,” said the Chaplain, “but it is little that a poor Priest like me can do. I would that grant to the Clarenhams were repealed.”
“That were soon done,” said Reginald, “but it is no time for a loyal vassal to complain of grievances when his liege lord has summoned him to the field. That were to make the King’s need be his law. No! no! Watch over her, good father, she is weak and tender. Look up, sweet heart, give me one cheerful wish to speed me on my journey. No? She has swooned. Eleanor! my wife—”
“Begone, begone, my son,” said Father Cyril, “it will be the better for her.”
“It may be,” said Reginald, “yet to leave her thus— Here, nurse, support her, tend her well. Give her my tenderest greetings. Arthur, be duteous to her; talk to her of our return; farewell, my boy, and blessings on you. Eustace, mount.”
Sir Reginald, sighing heavily, swung himself into the saddle; Eustace waited a moment longer. “Good Father, this was to have been in poor Eleanor’s charge. It is the token, you know for whom.”
“It shall reach her, my son.”
“You will send me a letter whenever you can?”