“But lost from no fault of your own,” Caretto put in.
“The losing was not indeed from any fault of my own, and had the pirate thrown it into the sea I should have held myself free from disgrace; but as it was still in existence, and I knew its possessor, I was bound in honour to recover it. At the time Suleiman Ali’s messenger arrived the corsair was away, and there was no saying when his ship would return; therefore, I decided at once not to accept the offer of freedom. Had it not been for that, I own that I should have done so, for I knew that I could repay Suleiman from the revenues of my commandery, which would have accumulated in my absence; but if I had had to wait ten years longer to regain the gage, I felt that I was in honour bound to do so. It was, in fact, some six months before the corsair put into that port again. The moment he did so I carried out the plans I had long before determined upon. I obtained a disguise from Ben Ibyn, and by a ruse succeeded in inducing the pirate to meet me outside the town, believing that I was an Arab chief who wished to dispose of some valuable slave girls he had brought in. I had with me one of my old galley slaves, who had been taken into Ben Ibyn’s employment; and when the pirate came up with two of his crew, and furiously attacked me as soon as I threw off my disguise, it would have gone hard with me had he not stood by me, and killed one of them who was about to attack me in the rear. I slew the other and Hassan, and the gage is in its place again.”
CHAPTER XXI THE FORT OF ST. NICHOLAS
Well, you have proved indeed,” Caretto said, when Gervaise finished his story, “that you are worthy of the bestowal of a gage by a fair damsel. I do not think that many knights, however true they might be to the donor, would have suffered months of slavery in order to regain a token, lost by no fault or carelessness of their own; and no lady could have blamed or held them in any way dishonoured by the loss.”
“I had a message by the Viscount De Monteuil from Lady Claudia the other day, saying that she trusted I had kept her gage. I can assure you that the six months of slavery were cheaply purchased by the pleasure I felt that I still possessed it; and I was glad, too, to learn that I had not been forgotten by her.”