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The Fortunes of Garin written by Mary Johnston who was an American novelist and women's rights advocate from Virginia. This book was published in 1915. And now republish in ebook format. We believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy reading this book.
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The Fortunes of Garin
CHAPTER I. ROCHE-DE-FRÊNE
CHAPTER II. THE JONGLEUR AND THE HERD-GIRL
CHAPTER III. THE NIGHTINGALE
CHAPTER IV. THE ABBOT
CHAPTER V. RAIMBAUT THE SIX-FINGERED
CHAPTER VI. THE GARDEN
CHAPTER VII. THE UGLY PRINCESS
CHAPTER VIII. TOURNAMENT
CHAPTER IX. GARIN SEEKS HIS FORTUNE
CHAPTER X. GARIN TAKES THE CROSS
CHAPTER XI. THIBAUT CANTELEU
CHAPTER XII. MONTMAURE
CHAPTER XIII. THE VENETIAN
CHAPTER XIV. OUR LADY IN EGYPT
CHAPTER XV. SAINT MARTHA’S WELL
CHAPTER XVI. GARIN AND JAUFRE
CHAPTER XVII. OUR LADY OF ROCHE-DE-FRÊNE
CHAPTER XVIII. COUNT JAUFRE
CHAPTER XIX. THE SIEGE
CHAPTER XX. THE WHITE TOWER
CHAPTER XXI. THE ROCK-GATE
CHAPTER XXII. THE SAFFRON CROSS
CHAPTER XXIII. CAP-DU-LOUP
CHAPTER XXIV. THE ABBEY OF THE FOUNTAIN
CHAPTER XXV. RICHARD LION-HEART
CHAPTER XXVI. THE FAIR GOAL
CHAPTER XXVII. SPRING TIME
THE MEETING BY ST. MARTHA’S WELL
Without blazed autumn sunshine, strong as summer sunshine in northern lands. Within the cathedral dusk ruled, rich and mysterious. The sanctuary light burned, a star. The candles were yet smoking, the incense yet clung, thick and pungent. Vanishing through the sacristy door went the last flutter of acolyte or chorister. The throng that worshipped dwindled to a few lingering shapes. The rest disappeared by the huge portal, marvellously sculptured. It had been a great throng, for Bishop Ugo had preached. Now the cathedral was almost empty, and more rich, more mysterious because of that. The saints in their niches could be seen the better, and the gold dust from the windows came in unbroken shafts to the pavement. There they splintered and light lay in fragments. One of these patches made a strange glory for the head of Boniface of Beaucaire who was doing penance, stretched out on the pavement like a cross. Lost in the shadows of nave, aisles, and chapels were other penitents, on their knees, muttering prayers. Hugues from up the river lay on his face, half in light, half in shadow, before the shrine of Saint Martial. Hugues’s penance had been heavy, for he was a captain of Free Lances and had beset and robbed a travelling monk. But in Hugues’s cavern that night the monk turned preacher and wrought so mightily that he brought Hugues—who was a simple, emotional soul—to his knees, and the next day, when they parted, sent him here for penance. He lay bare to the waist, and his back was bloody from the scourging he had received before the church doors.
The church was a marvel. It had been building for long, long while, and it was not yet finished. It was begun by a grateful population, at the instigation of the then bishop, in the year 1035. All Christendom had set the year 1000 for the Second Coming and the Judgement Day, and as the time approached had waited in deep gloom and with a palsied will for those august arrivals. When the year passed, with miseries enough, but with no rolling back of the firmament like a scroll, it was concluded that what had been meant was the thousandth from the Crucifixion. 1033 was now set for the Final Event, and the neglect of each day, the torpor and terror of the mind, continued. But 1033 passed, marked by nothing more dreadful than famine and common wretchedness. Christendom woke from that particular trance, sighed with relief, and began to grow—to grow with vigour and rapidity, with luxuriance and flourishes.
In 1035, then, the cathedral had been begun, and to-morrow morning, here in the last quarter of the twelfth century, the stone masons would go clinking, clinking up yonder, atop of the first of the two towers. No man really knew when it would be finished. But for a century nave, aisles, choir, and chapels had been completed. Under the wonderful roof three generations of the people of Roche-de-Frêne had bowed themselves when the bell rang and the Host was elevated. The cathedral had the hallowing of time. It was an Inheritance as was the Faith that bred it. The atmosphere of this place was the atmosphere of emotion, and strong as were the pillars, they were no stronger than was the Habit which brought the feet this way and bowed the heads; and clinging and permeating as was the incense, it was no more so than the sentiment that stretched yonder Boniface of Beaucaire and here Hugues the Free Lance. Boniface of Beaucaire would cheat again and Hugues the Free Lance rob and slay, but here they were, no hypocrites, and cleaner in this moment than they had been.
There were two pillars, one twisted, one straight, that had been brought from Palestine by Gaucelm the Crusader, father of Gaucelm the Fortunate, the present Prince, and set on either side the shrine of Our Lady of Roche-de-Frêne. A shaft of light from the great window struck across the two, broke, and made the pavement sunny.
Just here knelt a youth, in a squire’s dress of green and brown. He had no penance to perform. He was kneeling because he was in a kneeling mood. The light showed a well-made, supple figure, with powerful shoulders. The head and throat were good, the face rather long, with strong features, the colouring blonde inclining to brown, the eyes grey with blue glints. They were directed now to the image of the Virgin, above him in her niche, the other side of the gold light. She stood, incredibly slender, and taller than human, rose-cheeked, dressed in azure samite sewn with gems, with a crown, and in her two hands a crimson heart pierced by an iron arrow. A lamp burned before her, and there were flowers around.
The youth knelt with a fixed gaze, asking for inspiration.... The Virgin of Roche-de-Frêne seemed to move, to dilate, to breathe, to smile! The young man sank his head, stretched forth his arms. “O Our Lady, smile on me! O Our Lady, give me to-day a sign!”
The cathedral grew a place of mystery, of high, transcendent passion. The lamp appeared to brighten, the heart in the two hands to glow.
“Is it a sign that I am to serve Her in Holy Church?” thought Garin de Castel-Noir, “or, may-hap, that I am to serve Her with lance and shield? Is it a sign, or am I mistaken? If it were a sign, would I ask if I were mistaken?” He sighed. “O High God, give me a sign!”
He had to decide no less a thing than his career. Until a little while ago he had thought that matter settled. He was esquire to a poor lord, a fierce and a stupid lord, and he had no hope but to remain esquire for years perhaps to come. But, come soon or come late, one day his lord would make him knight. That done, and his saint favouring, he might somehow achieve honour. Three months ago his lot had seemed as fixed as that of a fir tree growing below his lord Raimbaut’s black keep. Then into the matter had stepped the Abbot of Saint Pamphilius, that was kinsman of Garin and of his brother, Foulque the Cripple, who bided at Castel-Noir.
With simplicity, the squire explained it to Our Lady of Roche-de-Frêne: “He is our near kinsman, and he knows how poor are Foulque and I, and he knows, too, Lord Raimbaut, and the little we may expect. And now he says that if I will give up hope of chivalry and take the tonsure, he will be my good patron. And if I work well with head and pen and prove myself able, he will charge himself that I advance and win great promotion. If I serve him well, so will he serve me well. O Our Lady,” ended Garin, “he is a great man as you know, and close friend to Bishop Ugo. Moreover, he and Foulque have made application to my lord Raimbaut and won him to consent. And Foulque urges me toward Holy Church. But O Blessed Lady,” cried Garin, and stretched forth his arms, “do I wish to go? I know not—I know not!”
The Virgin of Roche-de-Frêne, crowned and dazzling, stood in blue samite with her heart and arrow, but said no word and gave no sign.... Raimbaut and his knighthood—the Abbot and Holy Church—and Foulque with his song, “Choose the Abbot! Work hard and be supple and further the ends of Holy Church, twining your own ends with that golden cord. No telling to what height you may rise! Great wealth and power fall to them who serve her to her profit and liking. You crave learning. On which road, I put it to you, will you gather most of that?” So Foulque. And Bishop Ugo had preached, this morn, of the glory and power of Holy Church and of the crowns laid up for them who served her.
The squire sighed deeply. He must make decision. The Abbot would not always keep that look of invitation. He had other young and needy kinsmen. Worldly considerations enough flitted through Garin’s head, but they found something there beside themselves. “In deep truth, which is mine? To endure until I may ride as knight and find or make some door in a high, thick wall? To take the tonsure—to study, work and plan—to become, maybe, canon, and after long time, larger things?... Which is mine? This—or that—or either? O Blessed Lady, I would choose from within!”
The tall, jewelled Queen of Heaven looked serenely down upon him. She had ceased to breathe. The sign seemed not to be coming. He had before him a long ride, and he must go, with or without the token. He kept his position yet another minute, then, with a deep sigh, relinquished the quest. Rising, he stepped backward from the presence of the Virgin of Roche-de-Frêne, out of the line of the Saracen pillars. As he went, the climbing shaft of amber light caught his eye and forthwith Jacob’s ladder came into his head, and he began to send slim angels up and down it. He had a potent fancy.
Leaving the church, he passed Boniface of Beaucaire and Hugues the Free Lance. His step made a ringing on the pavement beside their prone heads. He felt for them no contempt. They were making, more or less, an honourable amende. Everybody in their lives had done or would do penance, and after life came purgatory. He passed them as he might pass any other quite usual phenomenon, and so quitted the cathedral.
Outside was Roche-de-Frêne, grey, close-built, massed upon the long hill-top, sending spurs of houses down the hillsides between olive and cypress, almond and plane and pine—Roche-de-Frêne, so well-walled, Roche-de-Frêne beat upon, laved, drowned by the southern sun.
Crown of its wide-browed craggy hill rose another hill; crown of this, a grey dream in the fiery day, sprang the castle of its prince, of that Gaucelm the Fortunate whose father had brought the pillars. The cathedral had its lesser rise of earth and faced the castle, and beside the cathedral was the bishop’s palace, and between the church and the castle, up and down and over the hillsides, spread the town. The sky was as blue as the robe of the Virgin of Roche-de-Frêne. The southern horizon showed a gleam of the Mediterranean, and north and west had purple mountains. In the narrow streets between the high houses, and in every little opening and chance square the people of Roche-de-Frêne, men, women and children, talked, laughed, and gestured. It was a feast day, holiday, merry in the sun. Wine was being drunk, jongleurs were telling tales and playing the mountebank.
Garin sought his inn and his horse. He was in Roche-de-Frêne upon Raimbaut’s business, but that over, he had leave to ride to Castel-Noir and spend three days with his brother. The merry-making in the town tempted, but the way was long and he must go. A chain of five girls crossed his path, brown, laughing, making dancing steps, their robes kilted high, red and yellow flowers in their hair. “What a beautiful young man!” said their eyes. “Stay—stay!” Garin wanted to stay—but he was not without judgement and he went. At the inn he had a spare dinner, the only kind for which he could pay. A bit of meat, a piece of bread, a bunch of grapes, a cup of wine—then his horse at the door.
Half a dozen men-at-arms from the castle passed this way. They stopped. “That’s a good steed!”
Garin mounted. “None better,” he said briefly.
The grizzled chief of the six laid an approving touch upon the silken flank. “Where did you get him?”
Garin took the reins. “At home.”
“Good page, where is that?”
“I am not page, I am esquire,” said Garin.
“Good esquire, where is that?”
“‘That’ is Castel-Noir.”
“A little black tower in a big black wood? I know the place,” said the grizzled one. “Your lord is Raimbaut of the Six Fingers.”
“Whose lord is the Count of Montmaure, whose lord is our Prince Gaucelm, whose lord is the King at Paris, whose lord is the Pope in Rome, whose lord is God on His Throne.—Do you wish to sell your horse?”
“I do not.”
“I have taken a fancy to him,” said the man-at-arms. “But there! the land is at peace. Go your ways—go your ways! Are you for the jousting in the castle lists?”
“No. I would see it, but I have not time.”
“You would see a pretty sight,” quoth the man-at-arms. “There is Prince Gaucelm’s second princess, to wit Madame Alazais that is the most beautiful woman in the world, and sitting beside her the prince’s daughter, our princess Audiart, that is not so beautiful.”
“They say,” spoke Garin, “that she is not beautiful at all.”
“That same ‘They say’ is a shifty knave.—Better go, and I will go with you,” said the man-at-arms, “for truly I have not been lately to the lists.”
But Garin adhered to it that he could not. He made Paladin to curvet, bound and caracole, then with a backward laugh and wave of his hand went his way—but caused his way to lead him past the castle of Roche-de-Frêne.
So riding by, he looked up wistfully to barbican and walls and towers. The place was vast, a great example of what a castle might be. Enough folk for a town housed within it. At one point tree tops, peering over the walls, spoke of an included garden. Above the donjon just stirred in the autumn air the great blue banner of Gaucelm the Fortunate. The mighty gates were open, the drawbridge down, the water in the moat smiled as if it had neither memory nor premonition of dead men in its arms. People were crossing, gay of dress. The sunny noon, the holiday time, softened all the hugeness, kept one from seeing what a frown Roche-de-Frêne might wear. Garin heard trumpets. The esquire of Raimbaut the Six-fingered, the brother of Foulque the Cripple, the youth from the small black tower in the black wood, gazed and listened with parted lips. Raimbaut held from Montmaure, but for Raimbaut’s fief and other fiefs adjacent, Montmaure who held mainly from the House of Aquitaine, owed Roche-de-Frêne fealty. Being feudal lord of his lord, Gaucelm the Fortunate was lord of Foulque the Cripple and Garin the Squire. The latter wondered if ever he would enter there where the trumpets were blowing.
The great pile passed, the town itself passed, he found himself upon a downward sweeping road and so, by zig-zags, left the hill of Roche-de-Frêne and coming to the plain rode west by north between shorn fields and vineyards. The way was fair but lonely, for the country folk were gone to the town for this day of the patron saint and were not yet returning. Before him lay woods—for much of the country was wooded then—and craggy hills, and in the distance purple mountains. He had some leagues to ride. Now and again he might see, to this hand or to that, a castle upon a height, below it a huddled brown hamlet. Late in the afternoon there would lie to his right the Convent of Our Lady in Egypt. But his road was not one of the great travelled ways. It traversed a sparsely populated region, and it was going, presently, to be lonely enough.
Garin rode with sunken head, trying to settle matters before he should see Foulque. If Raimbaut had been a liberal, noble, joyous lord! But he was none such. It was little that page or esquire could learn in his gloomy castle, and little chance might have knight of his. A gloomy castle, and a lord of little worth, and a lady old and shrewish.... Every man must have a lord—or so was Garin’s world arranged. But if only every man could choose one to his liking—
The road bent. Rounding a craggy corner, Paladin and he well-nigh trod upon a sleeping man, propped at the road edge against a grey boulder. Paladin curvetted aside, Garin swore by his favourite saint, the man awoke and stretched his arms. He was young,—five or six years older, perhaps, than Garin. His dress, when it came to hue and cut, showed extravagant and gay, but the stuffs of which it was composed were far from costly. Here showed a rent, rather neatly darned, and here a soil rubbed away as thoroughly as might be. He was dark and thin, with long, narrow eyes that gave him an Eastern look. Beside him, slung from his neck by a ribbon, lay a lute, and he smiled with professional brilliancy.
“Jongleur,” said Garin, “some miles from this spot there is a feast day in a fair town. This is the strangest thing that ever I saw, that a jongleur should be here and not there!”
“Esquire,” said the other, “I have certain information that the prince holds to-day a great tourney, and that every knight and baron in forty miles around has gone to the joust. I know not an odder thing than that all the knights should be riding in one direction and all the esquires in another!”
“Two odd things in one day is good measure,” said Garin. “That is a fine lute you have.”
The thin dark person drew the musical instrument in front of him and began to play, and then to sing in a fair-to-middling voice.
“In the spring all hidden close,Lives many a bud will be a rose.In the spring ’tis crescent morn,But then, ah then, the man is born!In the spring ’tis yea or nay;Then cometh Love makes gold of clay!Love is the rose and truest gold,Love is the day and soldan bold,Love—”
The jongleur yawned and ceased to sing. “Why,” he asked the air, “why should I sing Guy of Perpignan’s doggerel and give it immortality when Guy of Perpignan, turning on his heel, hath turned me off?”
He drew the ribbon over his head, laid the lute on the grass, and leaning back, closed his eyes. Garin gazed at the lute for a moment then, dismounting, picked it up and tried his hand. He sang a hunting stave, in a better voice by far than was the jongleur’s. None had ever told him that he had a nightingale in his throat.
The jongleur opened his eyes. “Good squire, I could teach you to sing not so badly! But sing of love—sing of love! Hunting is, poetically speaking, out of court favour.”
“I sing of that which I know of,” said Garin.
The other sat up. “Have I found the phœnix? Nay, nay, I trow not! Love is the theme, and I have not found a man—no, not in cloister—who could not rhyme and carol and expound it! Love is extremely in fashion.—Have you a lord?”
“Has not that lord a lady?”
“Then love thy lady, and sing of it.”
“I know,” said Garin, “that love is the fashion.”
“The height of it,” answered the other. “It has been so now for fifty years and there seems no declining. It rages.”
Garin left his horse to crop the sweet grass and came and sat upon the boulder above the jongleur. “Tell me,” he said, “how it came to be so. I have a brother, older than me, who scoffs and saith that women did not use to be of such account.”
The jongleur took up his lute again. “The troubadour whom, until the other day, I served, discusses that. He is proud and ungrateful, but yet for your edification, I will repeat what he says:—
“As earthly man walks earthly ways,At times he findeth, God the praise!Far leagues apart, thousand no less,Fresh life, fresh light, that will him bless.It cometh not save he do beckon.He groweth to it as I reckon.And when it comes the past seems grey,And only now the golden day.Then in its turn the golden dayFadeth before new gold alway.And yet he holds the ancient gain,And carryeth it with him o’er the plain.And so we fare and so we grow,Wise men would not have it other so.”
“That is a good rede,” said Garin.
“It continueth thus,” answered the jongleur.
“In time of old came Reason, King,—Ill fares the bow that lacks that string!When time was full, to give great light,Came Jesu’s word and churches’ might.Then Knighthood rose and Courtesy,And all we mean by Chivalry.These had not come, I rede you well,Save that before them rang a bell,‘Turn you, and look at Eve beside,Who with you roameth the world wide,And look no more as hart on hind.’Now Love is seen by those were blind.Full day it is of high Love’s power.Her sceptre stands; it is her hour.And well I wis her lovely faceTo Time his reign will lend a grace!—But think ye not is made the ring!Morn will come a further thing.”
The jongleur ceased to finger his lute; Garin sat silent on the boulder. The light, sifting through the trees, chequered his olive-green, close-fitting dress and his brown mantle. He sat, clasping his knee, his eyes with the blue glints at once bright and dreamy.
“I have read,” he said, “that it is a great thing to be a great lover.”
“So all the troubadours say,” quoth the jongleur.
He put the ribbon of the lute around his neck, stretched himself and rose. “Miles still to the town! The day is getting on, and I will bid you adieu.”
Garin, too, looked at the sun, whistled to Paladin and left the boulder.
“My name is Elias,” said the jongleur, “and I was born at Montaudon. If you make acquaintance with a rich baron who would like to hear a new tale or song each night for a thousand running, bear me in mind. I play harp, viol and lute, and so well and timedly that when they hear me, mourners leave their weeping and fall to dancing. Moreover, I know how to walk upon my hands and to vault and tumble, and I have a trick with eggs and another with platters in the air that no man or woman hath ever seen into. I have also a great store of riddles. In addition, if need be, I can back a horse and thrust with a spear.”
“I know no such lord,” said Garin sadly. “I would I were he myself.”
“Then perhaps you may meet with some famous troubadour. I will serve none,” said Elias, “who is not in some measure famous. I prefer that he be knight as well as poet. Be so kind as to round it in such an one’s ear that you know a famed jongleur. Say to him that if God has not given him voice wherewith to sing or to relate his chansons, tensos, and sirventes, I, who sing like rossignol and who learned narration in Tripoli and Alexandria, will do him at least some justice. But if he sings like rossignol himself or, God-like, speaks his own compositions, then say that I am the best accompanist—harp, lute, or viol—between Spain and Italy. Say that, even though he be armed so cap-à-pie, there will arise occasions when he is not in voice, or is weary or out of spirits. Then how well to have such as I beside him! Then tell him that I have the completest memory, that I learn most quickly and neither forget nor misplace, and that never do I take a liberty with my master’s verse. When you have come that far, make a pause; then, while he ponders, resume. Say that, doubtless, at that moment, a hundred jongleurs, scattered up and down the land, are chance learning and wrongly giving forth his mightiest, sweetest poems. Were it not well—ask him—himself to teach them to one with memory and delivery beyond reproach, who in turn might teach others? So, from mouth to mouth, all would go as it should, and he be published correctly. Let that sink in. Then tell him that I am helpful in lesser ways,—silent when silence is wanted, always discreet, a good bearer of letters and messages, quick at extrications, subtle as an Italian. Say that I am a good servant and honour him who feeds me and never mistake where the salt stands. Say that I am skilful beyond most, and earnest ever for the advancement and honour of my master. Lastly, say that I am agreeable, but not too agreeable, in the eyes of women.”
“That is necessary?” asked Garin.
“Absolutely,” answered the jongleur. “Your lover is as jealous as God. There must not be two Gods in one miracle play.”
“Does every troubadour,” asked Garin, “love greatly?”
“He thinks he does,” said Elias. “Do not forget, if you meet a truly famed one, Elias of Montaudon. You may also say that I have been in the company of many poets, and that I know the secret soul of Guy of Perpignan.”
Both left the boulder and stepped into the road. Garin laid his hand on Paladin’s neck.
“My lord is Raimbaut the Six-fingered,” he said. “His wife, my lady, is half-aged and evil to look upon, and she rails at every one save Raimbaut, whom she fears.”
“That is ill-luck,” said the jongleur. “There is, perhaps, some neighbouring lady—”
“No. Not one.”
“To be very courtly,” said the jongleur, “one must be in love with Love. You need not at all see a woman as she is. It suffices if she is young and not deformed, and of noble station.”
“She must always be noble?”
“It doth not yet descend to shepherdesses,” said the jongleur. “For them the antique way suffices.”
Garin mounted his horse and sat still in saddle, his eyes upon a fair green branch that the sun was transfiguring, making it very lively and intense in hue.
“Great love,” he said. “By the soul of my father, I think it is a great thing! But if there is none set in your eyes to love—”
“Can you not,” said the jongleur, “like Lord Rudel, love one unseen?”
Garin sat regarding the green branch. “I do not know.... We love the unseen when we love Honour.” He sat for a moment in silence, then drew a sigh and spoke as though to himself. “It is with me as if all things were between coming and going, and a half-light, and a fulness that presses and yet knows not its path where it will go. I know not what I shall do, nor how I shall carry life. Now I feel afire and now I am sad—” He broke off and looked beyond the green branch; then, before the other could speak, shook Paladin’s reins and moved down the leafy way. He glanced over his shoulder at the jongleur. “I will remember you.”
“Aye, remember!” returned the jongleur. He faced toward the town, put one leg before the other, and, going, swept his fingers across the strings of his lute. He, too, looked over his shoulder and called across the widening distance. “Choose Love!” he called.
Garin, turning the corner of the jutty hill, lost sight of him. The tinkle of the lute came a moment longer, then it, too, vanished. The wind in the leaves sighed and sighed. “O Our Lady,” prayed Garin, “give thy guidance to the best man within me!”
It was now full afternoon, the road growing narrower and worse, until at last it was a mere track. It ran through a forest large and old, and it grew quite lonely. The squire passed no one at all, saw only the great wood and its inmates that were four-footed or feathered. He was sympathetic to such life, and ordinarily gave it attention and found in an inward and disinterested pleasure attention’s reward. But to-day his mind was divided and troubled, and he rode unseeingly.
“The Abbot and Holy Church,” said part of his mind. “Raimbaut and some day knighthood,” said another part. “There is earthly power,” said the first part, “for those who serve Holy Church—serve Her to Her profit and liking. Earthly power—and in Heaven, prelates still!” Spoke the second part; “Ripe grapes of power fall, too, to the warrior’s hand. Only be tall enough, strong enough to pluck them from the stoutest fortress wall! Knights have become barons, barons counts, counts kings!—And is not a good knight welcome in Heaven? I trow that he is, and that the angels vie with one another to do him honour!”
It seemed to Garin, though it seemed dimly enough, that other voices were trying to make themselves heard. But the first two were the loud ones, the distinct ones. They were the fully formed, the sinewy, the inherited concepts.
He rode on. He was now near the end of the forest. It began to break into grassy glades. In a little time it had so thinned that looking between the tree trunks one saw open country. Paladin raised his head, pricked his ears.
“What is it?” asked Garin. “Those yonder are only sheep upon the hillside.”
The next moment he heard a woman scream, “Help! Help!”
He pricked Paladin forward and together they burst into a little open space, rounded by a thicket and shadowed by oaks. To one of these a horse was tied. Its dismounted rider, a young man, richly dressed, had by the arms and had forced to her knees, a peasant girl, herd, as it seemed, of a few sheep who might be seen upon the hillside beyond the thicket.
She cried again, “A moi! A moi!” She fought like a young tigress, twisting her body this way and that, striving to wrench her arms free, and that failing, bending her face and biting. The man was big-boned and strong, with red-gold locks, inclining to auburn, and face and eyes just now red and gleaming. He was young,—a very few years older than Garin,—but his heel showed a knight’s spur. He bent the girl backward, struck her a blow that fairly stunned her outcry.
Garin burst into the ring. “Thou caitiff! Turn and fight!”
As he spoke he leaped to the ground and drew his dagger—a long and good one it chanced to be.
The attacker turned upon him a face of surprise and fury. “Meddler! Meddler! Begone from here!” Snatching from his belt a small, silver-mounted horn, he blew it shrilly, for he had followers with him whom he had sent ahead when he came upon the herd-girl and would stop for ill passion’s sake. But they had gone too considerable a way, or the wind blew against the horn, or a hill came between. Whatever it was, he summoned in vain.
“O thou coward!” cried Garin. “Turn and fight!”
The knight stamped upon the ground. “Fight with a page or a squire at best! My men shall scourge that green coat from your back! Begone with your life—”
“Now,” answered Garin, “if you were heir of France, yet are you to me churl and recreant!”
Whereupon the other took his hands from the herd-girl, drew his short sword, and sprang upon him.
Raimbaut the Six-fingered had faults many and heavy, but those about him lacked not for instruction in the art of attack and defence. Garin was skilful to make the difference not so pronounced between that long dagger of his and the other’s sword, and he was as strong as his opponent, and his eyes nothing like so clouded with despite and fury. The knight had far the wider experience, was counted bold and successful. But to-day he was at a disadvantage; he knew cold rages in which he fought or tilted well; but this was a hot rage, and his arm shook and he struck wide. Still the summoned men did not come, and still the two struggled for mastery. As for the herd-girl—she had risen to her knees and then to her feet, and now was standing beneath a young oak, her eyes upon the combat. At first she had made a move to leave the place, and then had shaken her head and stayed.
Garin gained, his antagonist fighting now in a blind fury. Presently the squire gave a stroke so effective that the blood spouted and the knight, reeling, let fall his weapon. He himself followed, sinking first upon his knee and then upon his face.
“Now have I slain you?” demanded Garin, and thrusting the sword aside with his foot, kneeled to see.
Whereupon the other turned swiftly and struck upward with his dagger. The squire, jerking aside, went free of the intended hurt.
“Now! by the soul of my father!” swore Garin, “this is a noble knight and must be nobly dealt with!” And so he took the other’s wrists, forced away the dagger, and wrestling with him, bound his hands with his belt, then dragged him to the nearest tree, and, cutting the bridle from his horse, ran the leather beneath his arms and tied him to the trunk. This done, he took from him the horn, and stooping, glanced at his wound. “It will not kill you. Live and learn knightliness!”
The other, bound to the tree, twisted and strove, trying to free himself. His face was no longer flushed but pale from loss of blood and huge anger. His eyes burned like coals and he gnashed his teeth. He had a hawk nose, a sensuous mouth, and across his cheek a long and curiously shaped scar, traced there by a poignard. Garin, gazing upon him, saw that he promised to be a mighty man.
The bound one spoke, his voice shaking with passion. “Who are you and what is your name? Who is your lord? My father and I will come, level your house with earth, flay you alive and nail you head downward to a tree—”
“If you can, fair sir,” said Garin. Stepping back, he saw upon the earth the herd-girl’s distaff where she had dropped it when the knight came against her. The squire picked it up, came back to the captive’s side and thrust it between his tied hands.“Now,” he said, “let your men find you with no sword, but with a distaff!”
But the herd-girl moved at that from beneath the oak. Garin found her at his side, a slim, dark girl, with torn dress and long, black, loosened hair. “You are all alike!” she cried. “You would shame him with my distaff! But I tell you that it is my distaff that you shame!” With that she came to the bound man, caught the distaff from between his hands, and with it burst through the thicket and went again among her sheep.
There, presently, Garin found her, lying beneath a green bank, her head buried in her arms.
“You were right,” said Garin, standing with Paladin beside her, “to take your distaff away. I am sorry that I did that.—Now what will you do? He had those with him who will come to seek him.”
The girl stood up. “I have been a fool,” she said, succinctly. “But there! We learn by folly.” She looked about her. “Where will I go? Well, that is the question.”
“Where do you live?”
The herd-girl seemed to regard the horizon from west to east and from east to west. Then she said, “In a hut, two miles yonder. But his men went that way.”
“Then you cannot go there now.”
Garin pondered. “It is less than two leagues,” he said, “to the Convent of Our Lady in Egypt. I could take you there. The good nuns will give you shelter and send you safe to-morrow to your people.”
The herd-girl seemed to consider it, then she nodded her head. She said something, but her voice was half lost in the black torrent of her loosened hair. The sun’s rays were slant—it was growing late.
Garin mounted and drew her up behind him. At a little distance the road forked.
“They went that way,” she said, pointing.
“Then it’s as well,” said Garin, “that we go this. Now we had best ride fast for a time.”
They rode fast for a good long way; then, as no hoof-sound or cry came from behind, the squire checked Paladin, and they went slowly enough to talk.
“I have hopes,” said Garin, “that he swooned, and when they found him could tell them naught. Do you know his name?”
“No. I was asleep in the sun.”
“What is your name?”
“The nuns will care for you.”
“I will ask them to let me stay and keep their sheep.”
They rode on through a fair, smiling country. Garin fell silent and the herd-girl was not talkative. He could not but ride wondering about that knight back there, and who he might be and how powerful. He saw that it was possible that he had provided a hornet’s nest for the ears of Castel-Noir and Foulque. He drew a sigh, half-frighted and half-proud of a proved prowess.
The girl behind him moved slightly. “I had forgot to say it,” she murmured. “I will say it now. Fair sir, I am humbly grateful—”
Garin had a great idiosyncrasy. He disliked to be thanked. “I liked that fighting,” he said. “It was no sacrifice. That is,” he thought, “it will not be if he never find out my name.”
Paladin carried them a way farther. Said Garin, remembering chivalry, “It is man’s part to protect the weaker being, that is woman.”
“It puzzles so!” said the herd-girl. “I am not very weak. Is it man’s part, too, to lay hands upon a woman against her will? If man did not that, then man need not do, at such cost, the other. What credit to put water on the house you yourself set afire?”
“Now by Our Lady,” said Garin, “you are a strange herd-girl!” He twisted in the saddle so that he might look at her. She sat still,—young, slim and forlorn to the eye, dark as a berry, her feet bare and her dress so torn that her limbs showed. Her long, black loosened hair almost hid her face, which seemed thin, with irregular features. She had her distaff still, the forlorn serf’s daughter, herself a serf.
“If we plume ourselves it is a mistake, and foolishness,” said Garin. “But yet though one man act villainously, another may act well.”
“Just,” said the herd-girl. “And I thank the one who has acted well—but not all men. I thank a man, but not mankind.”
“How old are you?”
“I am eighteen.”
“Where got you your thoughts?”
“There is time and need for thinking,” said the herd-girl, “when you keep sheep.”
With that she sighed and fell silent. They were going now by a swift stream; when, presently, they came to the ford and crossed, they were upon convent lands. Our Lady in Egypt was a Cistercian convent, ample and rich, and her grey-clad nuns came from noble houses. There were humbly born lay sisters. The abbess was the sister of a prince. The place had wealth, and being of the order of Saint Bernard, then in its first strength, was like a hive for work. From the ford on, the road was mended, the fields fat, the hedges trim. The convent had its serfs, and the huts of these people were not miserable, nor did the people themselves look hunger-stricken and woe-begone. The hillsides smiled with vineyards, the sky arched all with an Egyptian blue, the westering sun, tempering his fierceness, looked benignly on. Presently, in a vale beside the stream, they saw the great place, set four-square, a tiny hamlet clinging like an infant to its skirts. Behind, covering a pleasant slope, were olive groves with tall cypresses mounting like spires. Grey sisters worked among the grey trees. A bell rang slowly, with a silver tone.
“I will take you to the gate,” said Garin. “Then you can knock and the sister will let you in.”
“Aye, that will she. And you, fair squire, where will you go? Where is your home?”
Now Garin was thinking, “If that knight is a powerful man it is well that I gave him no inkling of where to find me!” Assuredly he had no thought nor fear that the herd-girl might betray. And yet he did not say, “I was born at Castel-Noir,” or “I live now in the castle of Raimbaut the Six-fingered.” He said, “I dwell by the sea, a long way from here.”
“Dusk is at hand,” said the herd-girl. “There, among those houses, is one set apart for benighted travellers.”
“How do you know that? Have you been here before?”
“Aye, once.—If you have far to ride, or the way is not clear before you, you had best rest to-night in the traveller’s house.”
But Garin shook his head. “I will go on.”
With that they came, just before the sun went down, to the wall of the convent, and the door beneath a round arch where the needy applied for shelter or relief. The squire checked Paladin. He made a motion to dismount, but the girl put a brown hand upon his knee.
“Stay,” she said, “where you are! I will ring the bell and speak to the portress.” So saying, she slipped to the earth like brown running water; then turned and spoke to the rescuer. “Fair squire,” she said, “take again my thanks. If ever I can pay good turn with good turn, be sure that I will do it!” She moved within the arch, put her hand to the bell and set it jangling, then again turned her head. “Will you remove from so close before the door? You will frighten the sister. And the sun is down and you had best be going. Farewell!”
Involuntarily Garin backed Paladin further from the round arch. The horse was eager for his stable, wheeled in that direction, and chafed at the yet restraining hand. Garin looked as in a dream at the herd-girl. Even now he could not see her face for that streaming hair. A grating in the convent door opened and the sister who was portress looked forth. The herd-girl spoke, but he could not hear what was the word she said. A key grated, the convent door swung open. “Lord God!” cried the grey sister. He heard that, and had a glimpse of her standing with lifted hands. The herd-girl crossed the threshold. Paladin, insisting upon the road, took for a moment the squire’s full attention. When he looked back the convent wall was blank; door and grating alike were closed.
Foulque the Cripple listened with a perturbed brow. “You should have left him alone! A wretched herd-girl!”
“If I am to be knight,” said Garin hotly, “I will not read knighthood so.”
“Psha!” said Foulque. “They put resistance on! It is a mask when they seem unwilling. And if it were real, what then?—Saint Pol, what then?—And you saw naught to tell you who he was?”
Foulque fretted. “If I had been there, I should have found some colour or sign! But you go as dreamily as if you were bewitched! You see naught that’s to the point.”
“He had a blue robe and a surcoat of crimson, and shoes of brown cordovan,” said Garin. “His sword had a rich hilt, and his gloves were embroidered. I noted them where he had thrust them in the bosom of his robe when I knelt to look at his wound. He was red-gold of hair and hawk nosed, full-lipped, and with a scar on his cheek. I think that he is older than I, but not much older.”
“Well, well!” said Foulque, “he may have been some wanderer from a distance, with no recourse but his own hand. Moreover, for fame’s sake, he will not be quick to talk about a younger man, and one of less degree. If he found out neither your name nor house,—perhaps we’ll hear no more of it.... Well, what have you to say? I have news for you! The abbot hath been to Roche-de-Frêne, and on his way home is pleased to sleep one night at Castel-Noir. A man of his brought notice this morning. This is Tuesday—Friday he will be here.” Foulque rose and limped across the hall in some excitement. “Poor and bare, God knows! is Castel-Noir, but we will do what we can! My bed here he shall have, and we will put up the hangings from Genoa, and strew the floor with fair herbs. There’s wine enough, and Pierre shall begin his baking to-morrow morn! Friday.—He will have, his man said, twenty in his train. The sub-prior—five or six brothers—the rest stout serfs with staves.—Friday!—Every man of ours must be set to fishing!”
When every man was sent to the stream, the company of fishermen covered no great length of bank. Moreover all could not settle to fishing, for some must forth to forage for the approaching horse, and to find venison, fowls, and other matters for the Saturday morn. For poor was the small black tower in the black wood! Foulque could furnish to his lord a young brother for esquire, and, if a levy were made, ten men, by no means prize men, with ten horses, by no means horses for a king’s stable. Paladin was the only horse of that nature. A poor, small fief was Castel-Noir—black keep and tower on a crag, set in a dark wood, with a few fields beyond, and all under shadow of the mountains to the north. South of it, only, ran the bright stream where fish were to be caught.
Thursday sunrise, Garin took a fishing-rod and went down the crag by the road cut, long since, in the rock, and through the wood to this stream. In a great leather pouch slung over his shoulder he had, with other matters, bread and meat. He meant to make a day of it, bringing home in the evening good fish for Pierre’s larder. When he reached the stream, he found there old Jean and his two grandsons and they had a great basket, its bottom already flashing silver and iris.
“Good-morning, Jean and Pol and Arnaut,” said Garin.
“Good-morning, master! The Blessed Maries have sent good fishing! They snap as soon as you touch the water.”
Farther down the stream he found Sicart. “How great a man, master, is the abbot? Very great he must be if he eats all the fish we are taking! It is a miracle!”
Garin moved down the stream seeking for a place that should seize his fancy. The eagerness with which he had risen and sallied forth disappeared. They would have enough for the Abbot and his train—more than enough. At times he cared for fishing, but not, he found, to-day. Why then fish, if there was no need? He still carried the rod, but he continued to walk, making no motion to stop and put it into use. There was a foot-path by the stream, and it and the gliding water led him on. He wanted to think, or, more truly, to dream. Back in the black castle all was topsy-turvy, and Foulque concerned only with family fortunes.
Now Garin walked, and now he leaned against some tree and gazed at the flowing water; but on the whole he moved forward with such steadiness that before the sun was much above the tree-tops the foot-path ceased, having brought him to a great round stone and an overhanging pine, and the end, on this side, of the fief of Castel-Noir. Beyond came a strip of stony and unprofitable land, a debated possession, claimed by two barons and of no especial use to any man. Garin threw himself down upon the boundary stone and, chin in hand, regarded the sliding stream.
It was this stone, perhaps, that brought into mind Tuesday’s boulder and the jongleur. Rather than the jongleur came the figure of the jongleur’s lute. Garin’s fingers moved as though they felt beneath them the strings. A verse was running, running through his head. Only after a slow, lilting, inward saying of it over twice or thrice did it come to him, like the opening of a flower, that it was his own, not another’s. He had made it, lying there. He rose from the stone and walked forward, still going with the gliding stream. As he walked, the second verse came to him. He said over the two, said over his first poem and said it over again, tasting it, savouring it, hearing it now with music. He was in a dream of dawn....
There was no longer a path, but he went on over the stony soil, beneath old gnarled and stunted trees. The sun rode high and made the water a flood of diamonds. Garin walked with a light and rapid step. When a tree came in his way he swerved and rounded it and went on, but he was hardly conscious that it had been there. The fishing-rod was yet in his hand, but he did not think of the rod, nor of fishing, nor of Castel-Noir, nor Foulque, nor the abbot, nor of the decision which the abbot’s visit would force. He hardly knew of what he was thinking. It was diffused,—the world was diffused,—drifting and swinging, and in the mist he touched a new power.
A hawk shot downwards, plunged beak in water, rose with the taken fish and soared into the eye of day. Garin started, shook himself, and looked about him. He had come farther than he meant. He half-turned, then stood irresolute, then again faced downstream. The day was not old, and a distaste seized him for going back and listening to Foulque on what the abbot might or might not do. He wandered on.
An hour later he came upon another boundary mark. This was a cross cut in stone, with a rude carving upon the block that formed the base. Garin sat down to rest, and sitting so, fell to scraping with his knife the encrusting lichen from this carving. There was a palm tree and a pyramid, which stamped Egypt in mind. Here was Saint Joseph, and here was the ass bearing the Mother and Child. Above was Latin, to the effect that you were upon the lands of the Convent of Our Lady in Egypt. Garin knew that, and that two miles down the stream the nuns would be now at the noon office. He wondered if, yesterday or to-day, they had sent Jael the herd back to her own. But, on the surface, at least, of consciousness there floated no long thought of that matter. His mood was one of half-melancholy, half-exaltation, all threaded with the warm wonder of making verses.
The nature of the land changed here. For stone and dwarfed growth there began a richer soil and nobler trees. The latter made, all along the water’s edge, a narrow grove, with here and there a fairy opening and lawn of fine grass. Garin, having scraped away the lichen, looked at the sun, which was now past the meridian, and thought that he would retrace his steps.
Before him, out of a covert a little way down the stream, a nightingale sang suddenly. Garin listened, and it might be his mood of to-day that made him think that never before had he heard any bird sing so sweetly. It carolled on, rich and deep, and the young man went toward it. The ribbon of wood was dark and sweet; the bird sang like a soul imprisoned. When it silenced itself Garin still stood looking up into its tree. Presently it flew from that bower and, crossing one of the elfin lawns, lost itself in the farther trees. Garin went on to this grove and it sang for him again. When it ceased he did not go back to the boundary stone. This country pleased him and he thought, “I will go on and see how Our Lady in Egypt looks from this side.”
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