“It does indeed rejoice my heart to have you beside me, fair nephew,” said Eustace, “and yet I know not how to favour such an escape as this, even for such a cause.”
“I never broke out of bounds before,” said Arthur, “and never will, though Lord Harry and Lord Thomas Holland have more than once asked me to join them.”
“Then,” said the Knight, “since it is, as you say, too late to rouse the palace, I will take you back in my hand to-morrow morn, see the master of the Damoiseaux, and pray him to excuse you for coming to see me ere my departure.”
“Yes, that will be all well,” said Arthur; “I could, to be sure, find the corner where Lord Harry has loosened the stones, and get in by the pages’ window, ere old Master Michael is awake in the morn; but I think such doings are more like those of a fox than of a brave boy, and though I should be well punished, I will walk in at the door, and hold up my head boldly.”
“Shall you be punished then?” said Gaston. “Is your old master of the Damoiseaux very severe?”
“He has not been so hitherto with me,” said Arthur: “he scolds me for little, save what you too are displeased with, Master d’Aubricour, because I cannot bring my mouth to speak your language in your own fashion. It is Lord Harry that chiefly falls under his displeasure. But punished now I shall assuredly be, unless Uncle Eustace can work wonders.”
“I will see what may be done, Arthur,” said Eustace. “And now, have you supped?”
The evening passed off very happily to the little page, who, quite reassured by his uncle’s consolations, only thought of the delight of being with one who seemed to supply to him the place at once of an elder brother and of a father.
Early the next morning, Eustace walked with him to the palace. Just before he reached it, he made this inquiry, “Arthur, do you often see the Lady Agnes de Clarenham?”
“Oh, yes, I am with her almost every afternoon. She hears me read, she helps me with my French words, and teaches me courtly manners. I am her own page and servant—but, here we are. This is the door that leads to the room of Master Michael de Sancy, the master of the Damoiseaux.”
The next few days were spent in taking precautions against the danger intimated by the mysterious message. Gaston gathered together a few of the ancient Lances of Lynwood, who were glad to enlist under the blue crosslet, and these, with some men-at-arms, who had recently come to Bordeaux to seek employment, formed a body with whom Eustace trusted to be able to keep the disaffected in check. Through vineyards and over gently swelling hills did their course lead them, till, on the evening of the second day’s journey, the view to the south was shut in by more lofty and bolder peaks, rising gradually towards the Pyrenees, and on the summit of a rock overhanging a small rapid stream appeared the tall and massive towers of a Castle, surmounted by the broad red cross of St. George, and which their guide pronounced to be the Chateau Norbelle.