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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

Herbert grasped his ear in no gentle pinch


alms! kind lord," he croaked, his face red with bloody patches; and as he spoke he lay on the ground, and foamed as if grievously ill.

"Away with you!" growled Sebastian, angrily; "you have smeared blood on your face, and there is a bit of soap in your cheeks."

So they left, and heard his shrill curse, when he saw Richard tossed forth never a _denier_.

"No good omens," muttered Herbert, in his beard.

"Ride faster," commanded Richard, touching spur to Rollo.

So they hastened, while above them the canopy of leaves grew denser, and more clouds piled across the dimming sun. Then as they swung round a turn, they came upon a man with a great load of fagots on his back,--a tall, coarse-faced fellow, with a shock head and unkempt beard, hatless, dressed in a dirt-dyed blouse held by a leathern belt, woollen trousers, and high, rude boots.

Herbert rode up to him, as he stood staring with dazed, lack-lustre eyes at the company.

"Ho, sirrah; and are we on the Baron of St. Julien's land?" No answer; then again, "Are we on the Baron of St. Julien's land?" Still no answer, while the scoundrel gazed about like a cornered cat, looking for chance to escape. Herbert grasped his ear in no gentle pinch.

"I work miracles,"

bellowed he. "I make the dumb speak!" Then as he twisted the ear, the man howled out:--

"Yes, this is his land."

"And why not all this before?" roared Herbert.

"I love my lord," growled the fellow; "how do I know but that you seek his ill? Sorrow enough he has, without need of more."

"Ha!" exclaimed Richard, "what is this? Speak out, my man. I am his friend and yours!"

But before he could get answer, the pound, pound, of several horsemen was heard ahead. And they saw in the road four riders, two accoutred men-at-arms, two others, by their dress and steeds evidently gentlemen of the lesser sort. One of these, a tall young man of about Richard's age, spurred ahead; and as he drew near, he dropped his lance-head in salute.

"Noble lord," said he, "do I speak with Richard Longsword of Cefalu, grandson of the Baron of St. Julien?"

"I am he, fair sir," replied Richard, with like salute.

"I am rejoiced to see your safety. Your messengers have arrived. We expected your coming. Know that I am Bertrand, squire of the Baron, your grandfather; and this is his good vassal the castellan, Sir Oliver de Carnac; in our Lord's name we greet you well and all your company."

So Richard thanked them for their courtesy, and then questioned:--

"And is my lord the Baron well?"

But at his words a great cloud lowered on the face of the squire, and he turned to De Carnac; and that stern-faced knight began to look very blank, though saying nothing. Then Bertrand began hesitatingly:--

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