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the lad's approaching journey and the life he was to lead at Paris.
At length they came in sight of Moreleigh. The castle lay upon a plateau that sloped away precipitously behind it and upon either hand. The frowning gateway that broke the monotony of the embattled wall was flanked at either side by short, projecting towers, their narrow openings giving upon the entrance and commanding the iron-studded portcullis itself, as well as all that part of the plateau by which access to the castle was possible.
Sir Guy and Arnoul walked leisurely down the slope to the plateau, and passed unchallenged beneath the portcullis. There were a few of the retainers and a page standing together in the courtyard, of whom Sir Guy asked if their Lord were in the castle. One surly fellow answered that he was not yet come from his ride; that he would return anon. • “No matter,” said Sir Guy. “ Time does not press so but that I can await him.” And he moved a little to one side. The men continued talking.
"I tell you”-it was the surly man who spoke" that it was my Lord's favorite hawk."
“Nothing of the kind,” broke in another. “He cared no more for one than for another. 'Twas the page William that angered him.”
“An't please you,” the boy answered for himself, “I did not anger him at all; he was already in a rage when I bore him his horn of mead, and he dashed it to the ground.”
“Well, 'tis all one,” grumbled another. “When you have served Sir Sigar Vipont as long as I have, you'll learn to take him as you find him. He is angered because—because he is angered, that is all; and there's no more to be said about it. Talking will not mend it; and knowing the reason of his anger will not make him one whit the less angry."
“ That, at least, is true," the surly one commented. “I pity the man or maid who crosses him.”
Sir Guy turned again and made a step towards the group. “If Sir Sigar be yet some time away, perchance the Lady Sibilla is in the castle with her women ? "
“The Lady Sibilla will be now in the antechamber of the great hall, waiting my Lord, her father. It is her custom to meet him there when he returns from his ride. Would you speak with her ? Hither, page! Acquaint thy Lady that Sir Guy, the priest, would speak with her. Follow the page, Sir Priest!”
The two brothers waited at the foot of the steps leading to the hall, until the page returned and bade them go forward. They passed up the low and broad flight of stone steps and found themselves in the antechamber where she stood, a hand resting upon one of the sculptured lions that guarded the entry. Arnoul noticed the device of the Viponts between the stone paws-a device repeated in a hundred places throughout the apartment. The chamber was dark, with its hanging tapestries on the walls and its carvings overhead. It was lit only by two narrow lancet windows above the entry. Behind the maid was the door that led to the great hall itself, covered now by heavy curtains of rich, thick brocaded work.
The Lady Sibilla made Sir Guy and Arnoul welcome, coming forward to meet them. She was dressed in a gown and kirtle of some loose flowing material of a pale grass-green, held in at the waist with a girdle and clasps. The expression of her brown eyes was thoughtful and serious—too thoughtful and too serious, perhaps, for a maid of her years. But a smile lurked ever in their liquid depths and played about the corners of her lips. She was pale, too, with an unusual pallor, intensified by the clustering masses of dark flowing hair that escaped from beneath the golden fillet with which it was bound and rippled down over her shoulders.
Sir Guy bent over 'her hand respectfully and named his younger brother to her. The lad saluted her with an inclination half awkward, half stately, with a sort of innate grace and courtliness. He felt abashed and unaccustomed in her presence. But she put him at his ease at once with a kindly word and frank, open smile.
“I remember," she said, “I remember you long, long ago, when you were but a little lad, and I a tiny maid. Besides, I saw you at the feast at the Abbey; and knew you then, too."
The lad colored. Had Sibilla seen him as he gazed after her at Buckfast? He hoped not, at any rate.
He hoped not, at any rate. But she continued, speaking with Sir Guy:
“My father will return before long. I know, or at least I can guess, what you want with him to arrange, is it not, the Masses for my poor mother's soul ?”
Sir Guy nodded his assent. “Yes”; he said, “ that has brought us to Moreleigh.”
As for Arnoul, he could not tear his eyes from the maiden's face.
The Lady Sibilla spoke again: “I await my father here. It is his custom to ride every day, and he always expects to find me here on his return. Since he cannot now be long, I pray you tarry in the guest-room till he come.”
They saluted her again and descended the steps. The page, waiting for them in the courtyard, conducted them to the guest-chamber, which gave upon the hall. And there they seated themselves waiting for Sir Sigar's return.
The Lady Sibilla stood alone, she also waiting to greet her father.
A clatter of hoofs in the courtyard. The running to and fro of many feet. A volley of curses and a cry. The girl knew the voice. It was the younger of the pages—a delicate, fair-haired lad—who had tasted his master's riding lash. The whip whistled again through the air, and again the shrill cry
She could hear the horse snorting and plunging on the stones. Her own breath came and went quickly. Should she go to her father in the courtyard ? Should she stay and await his coming ? She made up her mind quickly, as she heard a third shriek following on the whistling descent of the lash; and hiding the misery of her heart by a brave, if piteous, smile, she turned to go.
But hurried steps neared her. The clank of spurs rattled on the stone stair. The hangings were parted violently-torn asunder. Her father stood before her. But he did not stop to embrace her. He passed her by as though he did not see her, and stamped up, cursing the whole length of the great echoing chamber, to the head of the oaken table that measured it.
And there he Aung himself down at the furthest end, still muttering and swearing, in the carved seat at the head of the table. His dog slunk in and lay beside his master. And the man frowned and glared, beating with his clenched fist and with his riding whip upon the board before him. The great swollen veins stood out upon his brow, and the thin lips were drawn back over his gums, so that his teeth glistened like the teeth of some wild animal. The pages trembled in the courtyard below. The old seneschal and the handful of retainers kept themselves prudently out of sight; for they knew that Sir Sigar Vipont, Lord of Moreleigh, had given himself up, body and soul into the grip of an ungovernable fury.
Poor Sibilla stood trembling and fearful at the farther end of the hall. She had never seen her father like this, now al.
most inarticulate with rage, his curses coming so thick and fast from his lips that they sounded like the snarlings and yelpings of some wild beast. She sent up a prayer to her dead mother and to her patron saints, as, summing up her courage, she drew near to the furious knight and laid her little hand upon his sleeve.
He shook her off roughly with an oath. His visage was demoniacal. The unhappy maiden wrung her hands and sobbed. The dog's bristles rose as he growled and came sniffing, first at the weeping girl, then at his furious master ; but a brutal cut of the whip sent him howling away; and he slunk back whimpering into a corner.
Again the girl came forward, pale and resolute. Her voice had no trace of tears or sobs in it, as she addressed him:
“Why do you beat the hound, Father ?" she asked. “He has done no wrong. And why did you strike poor Oswald ? What had he done to anger you ?”
The knight's face grew purple, and the muscles of his throat and jaw worked convulsively as her reproachful voice fell upon
He was beside himself with anger as he started up, throwing the great oaken chair with a crash to the ground in his violence and brandishing the heavy riding whip in his uplifted hand.
“By God! and by the wounds of God!” he shouted. “I will brook no interfering meddling in my house, not even from you, Sibilla! Is it not enough to be served by carrion vultures, that my own daughter must turn against me and ask me for reasons for doing as I please ?”
He broke into a string of brutal curses and raised the whip, the thonged end in his hand, above his head to strike her. It was a dangerous weapon for an infuriated man to use. She knew he did not mean it-how could he mean it, her own fa. ther, so loving and so kind ?—but she shrank before him trembling, lifting her arm above to guard her head and cowering towards the arras.
The dog sprang forward, growling, its bristles erect, its eyes showing red, towards his mistress. Vipont struck at it again and again, rolling out a torrent of blasphemous cursing and abuse. But the beast kept out of reach, showing its fangs and growling the more; and the girl, shrinking and cowering, the tears dried in her eyes by very fear and shame, passed the long length of the hall, crouching by the arras, praying to God that none should see her father thus possessed. But his mad rage held; and he followed her the whole length of the empty room, upbraiding and cursing.
The seneschal and the pages, with two or three of the bowmen, crept silently to the antechamber. They knew-far better even than his own daughter-what Vipont was capable of doing in these mad outbursts of ungovernable, unreasoning wrath. Still they never dreamed that any harm could come to the maid at her father's hands. Most like 'twas only the dog that angered him, they thought, and he would be shouting for them to bear the carcass forth-for Vipont was ever ready with the steel when in his rage. The clamor filled the courtyard and the whole castle.
Arnoul pulled at his brother's cassock. “Come," he said, “hasten, there is murder done!”
He dashed up the short stairway and, tearing the heavy curtains apart, burst breathless into the hall. The men entered behind him and stood about the door, Guy's pale face strangely outlined against the dark paneling of the lofty chamber.
None too soon!
Vipont—a furious light, as of madness, in his eyes, his face twisted and distorted-stood over his daughter, the heavy whip lifted in his outstretched hand. The girl uttered low cries and moans, turning her white face, drawn with grief and fear and shame, away from the sight of her maniacal father. The sun's rays struck upon her dress through the diamond panes of a narrow lancet window and stained it red as blood. The hound snarled and growled, turning fierce eyes and bared fangs towards its master. The men at the doorway caught their breath in a quick, sibilant hiss and started forward to protect the girl. The outstretched arm seemed poised through an eternity- an arm of stone, of steel, of nerves and sinews petrified. With an oath, the tense muscles relaxing, he flung himself upon her.
But Arnoul was quicker. He leaped at the man like a wildcat and caught the descending hand, shouting the while to the others for help. Vipont writhed and struggled, turning his rage now upon the boy, cursing and fumbling for the dagger at his side. But the lad's wrists were strong as steel and he kept his grip, though he was shaken about and worried like a rat.
With almost superhuman strength, Vipont listed him from