The Secret Rose eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 79 pages of information about The Secret Rose.

After gazing a while towards the sun, he let the reins fall upon the neck of his horse, and, stretching out both arms towards the west, he said, ’O Divine Rose of Intellectual Flame, let the gates of thy peace be opened to me at last!’ And suddenly a loud squealing began in the woods some hundreds of yards further up the mountain side.  He stopped his horse to listen, and heard behind him a sound of feet and of voices.  ’They are beating them to make them go into the narrow path by the gorge,’ said someone, and in another moment a dozen peasants armed with short spears had come up with the knight, and stood a little apart from him, their blue caps in their hands.  Where do you go with the spears?’ he asked; and one who seemed the leader answered:  ’A troop of wood-thieves came down from the hills a while ago and carried off the pigs belonging to an old man who lives by Glen Car Lough, and we turned out to go after them.  Now that we know they are four times more than we are, we follow to find the way they have taken; and will presently tell our story to De Courcey, and if he will not help us, to Fitzgerald; for De Courcey and Fitzgerald have lately made a peace, and we do not know to whom we belong.’

‘But by that time,’ said the knight, ‘the pigs will have been eaten.’

’A dozen men cannot do more, and it was not reasonable that the whole valley should turn out and risk their lives for two, or for two dozen pigs.’

‘Can you tell me,’ said the knight, ’if the old man to whom the pigs belong is pious and true of heart?’

’He is as true as another and more pious than any, for he says a prayer to a saint every morning before his breakfast.’

‘Then it were well to fight in his cause,’ said the knight, ’and if you will fight against the wood-thieves I will take the main brunt of the battle, and you know well that a man in armour is worth many like these wood-thieves, clad in wool and leather.’

And the leader turned to his fellows and asked if they would take the chance; but they seemed anxious to get back to their cabins.

‘Are the wood-thieves treacherous and impious?’

‘They are treacherous in all their dealings,’ said a peasant, ’and no man has known them to pray.’

‘Then,’ said the knight, ’I will give five crowns for the head of every wood-thief killed by us in the fighting’; and he bid the leader show the way, and they all went on together.  After a time they came to where a beaten track wound into the woods, and, taking this, they doubled back upon their previous course, and began to ascend the wooded slope of the mountains.  In a little while the path grew very straight and steep, and the knight was forced to dismount and leave his horse tied to a tree-stem.  They knew they were on the right track:  for they could see the marks of pointed shoes in the soft clay and mingled with them the cloven footprints of the pigs.  Presently the path became

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The Secret Rose from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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