“Lord Petyr’s,” his father said, “but it serves

time:2023-12-06 12:19:48source:Song and dance networkauthor:meat

Then Simon rode close up to Christopher, and took his rein and stayed him, and said to him, as one who prayeth: "Young man, willest thou my death?"

“Lord Petyr’s,” his father said, “but it serves

"That is as it may be," said Christopher; "willest thou mine?"

“Lord Petyr’s,” his father said, “but it serves

Simon held his peace awhile, and Christopher might not see what was in his face amidst the gathering dusk; but he twitched his rein out of the squire's hand, as if he would hasten onward; then the squire said: "Nay, I pray thee abide and hear a word of me."

“Lord Petyr’s,” his father said, “but it serves

"Speak then," said Christopher, "but hasten, for I hunger, and I would we were in the hall." And therewith he laughed.

Said Simon: "Thus it is: if I go back to my lord and bear no token of having done his errand to Jack of the Tofts, then am I in evil case; and if I come to the Tofts, I wot well that Jack is a man fierce of heart, and ready of hand: now, therefore, I pray thee give me thy word to be my warrant, so far as thou mayst be, with this woodman and his sons."

At that word Christopher brake out a-laughing loudly, till all the dusk wood rang with the merry sound of his fresh voice; at last he said: "Well, well, thou art but a craven to be a secret murderer: the Lord God would have had an easy bargain of Cain, had he been such as thou. Come on, and do thine errand to Jack of the Tofts, and I will hold thee harmless, so far as I may. Though, sooth to say, I guessed what thine errand was, after the horses waked thee and put a naked sword in thine hand last night. Marry! I had no inkling of it when we left the Castle yesterday morning, but deemed thy lord needed me to do him some service. Come on then! or rather go thou on before me a pace; there, where thou seest the glimmer betwixt the beech-trees yonder; if thou goest astray, I am anigh thee for a guide. And I say that we shall not go far without tidings."

Simon went on perforce, as he was bidden, and they rode thus a while slowly, Christopher now and then crying, as they went: "To the right, squire! To the left! Straight on now!" and so on. But suddenly they heard voices, and it was as if the wood had all burst out into fire, so bright a light shone out. Christopher shouted, and hastened on to pass Simon, going quite close to his right side thereby, and as he did so, he saw steel flashing in his hand, and turned sidling to guard him, but ere he could do aught Simon drave a broad dagger into his side, and then turned about and fled the way they had come, so far as he knew how.

Christopher fell from his horse at once as the stroke came home, but straightway therewith were there men with torches round about him, a dozen of them; men tall and wild-looking in the firelight; and one of them, a slim young man with long red hair falling all about his shoulders, knelt down by him, while the others held his horse and gat his feet out of the stirrups.

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