Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

17 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

A Romance of the Pagan Britons.


A Romance of the Pagan Britons. BY J. E. PATTERSON, CHAPTER IV. A Stolen Suppsr—and Some Trouble. Darkness was fast closing in when Gwalchmai Jrew the frail craft from the water, and secured it bottom upwards between its two stakes. His iaster, silent and thoughtful, had moved away it the direction of the city. Now he, too, 'sauntered off that way, his bead thrown back in a happy-go-lucky fashion, and lips puckered up into a whistle On his passage through the Royal kitchen—his Tommon first goal on all such occasions—he peeped into the armonry. Gwyar, by the flame of a lamp that gaveTnora smoke than lif;$ht, was industriously polishing- the face of a shield. He -tid not see Gwalchmai, v.-ho withdrew his head, aleniiy chuckling at what he was about, and Seat on. Near the end of the corridor leading from the yrms-room to the kitchen he met Echel. Of 7, surety thou'rt back betimes," was her remark, /^though expecting him during an hour past. An I be back over soon for my supper, then, /)y my faith in death, am I too soon," replied he, giving his usual twinkle. ''For that doth argue jl for my patience and tby customary haste in ,teing kind. But an I be not too soon for that, ihen hath my toes touched the heels of a timely coming." What art thou hungry ?" I hungry ? Hast nothing better to do with ihy time and words than ask Of a truth but an thy hands did work as do lli y teeth, thou'dst be the most willing o' workers I' Jll all Gwalia. An thou should'st love to the lepth o' thine eating, to win thy affection were a jtnze indeed Then quickly get thou my supper, and may- j.ap thou'llt thereby make a step towards the <,inning. Thou'rt a rogue, Gwalch-" The news is stale but I trust the victuals ¡we it no kinship." Indeed, thou dost worsen every day But Tome." She turned, he followed, and they leached the stone-floored room in which /he cooking was done. Pine torches were stuck in iron sockets driven into the rude bare walls. Servitors of both sexes hurried here and there. {'he last meal of the day was in course of pre- paration. There was a sound of flesh before a fierce fire,and so savoury a smell entered Gwalch- :mai's nostrils that he almost imagined a juicy morsel in his mouth. However, Echel's signalled anxiety overcame his desire to riak the conse- quences of a raid, and he hurried after her across a corner of the apartment and into another corridor. To an adjacent deep alcove, that had a con- Jinuous bench-like seat, Echel led him in the Jacrk, then whispered, Bide thou here a while, pd betray thee not to any passer, else might /hou get me into trouble, or have to tell a lie to Spare me." Let that give thee no care, for rather would Æ tell enough to fill the lake of Aren than let thy jfindnesa become a whip to thee, said he in like ;ones. Get thee gone, and I will be as one dead Jill thy return, yet by thy absence will I mark :hy wish to please." She went. The time dragged slowly to, and as hungrily awaited Gwalchmai. He heard the pat, pat of naked feet, circum- ,pectly treading towards him. She was return- ing, he thought. Eagerly he crept to the .entrance of the recess, and peered around the .corner. All was dark. He listened. The foot- balls were drawing nearer. He waited, smiled, ind began to wonder what she was bringing him, iaking her slow approach as the ground for his ipeculations. Had he not been so keen on her probable load his quick wits might have detected the uncommon weight of the footsteps. She had secured him something to drink, he thought, and was taking care not to spill ic—good soul that iha was! Mead, or rare broth cleverly stolen "rom the Royal supper, was it ? His lips moved Against each other, and tongue instinctively parsed them. Why had she not brought a light ? The person parsed within his own length. Should he speak ? he silently gasped. Had she nuSJ adged the distance, and was going farther in ignorance ? Yea. No. He remembered her in- junction, and fell back to the rear of the place. The disappointment was so great that he came Hear thinking his appetite gone. Why was Echel held the drinking horn to his mozth. she so long ? Surely she could have been back ere BOW had she wished. The whole thing was a Jack-o- the-Hedge, and he the dupe. He would wait no longer, bat away to his own quarters and certain, if humble, fare. Echel was having a sorry jest out of him, and on the morrow she I would pay him double. Yet reluctantly did he approach theconidor there glanced in the direc- tion they had come, and saw his kitchen-friend advancing—in one hand a lamp, and under the other arm a covered bowl. Greedily he watched her slow movements. When a. few paces off she raised her head, saw his, and blew out the light. I Get thee back," he heard her whisper, the while her warm breath struck his face. He obeyed, and in a simila,r tons answered, h Odds, an it be as good as it hat taken thee time to fetch it, then 'tis the primest supper thou'st ever got me." Hold thy tongue—wilt ? Anyone did make thee King I'll swear thou'dsi grumble that the crown was not to thy liking." But thou dost forget," he began, as they reached the back of the alcove, sho stopping him with— Wilt hold thy tongue, and take this bowl ? An I could have come soouer I would. Mind thy doing. There's a horn of mead inside. Much I feared there would be no return for me to- night. That Gwyar was lumbering about the kitchen, and the chief cook got hold o' rae, and —Prithee, give me biick "the cover and I will put it in my girdle, lest it be left here and mouth a taje we want not telling." The aj-mam&n reseated himself, lodged the bowl carefully between his knees, handed her the cloth, and whispered Why did'st put out the lamp ? An we had but a light I conld sup in comfort." By the sacred badge o' the Archdruid, but thou'rt never at peace with thy givings she declared in a suppressed tone. Wouldst have me lead others here by that foe which thou hast not more need than truth must have the day for its telling ? Eat, man, and cease thy causeless complainings. '• Well, there, just stay thy tongue a space, wilt?" ho rejoined, as she sat by him. "Ye women are all the same. Here, hold this," and ho placed the horn in her hand. Hold it, the while I find me something for my teeth, but mistake not thy mouth for mine, in the dark, and thereby make mine the loser. A woman's talk doth ever mind me of a. big bone with little meat on it. Ye do so tease tiia ears o' the hungry for rich feasts that need no cook, and—what's this ? A pasty ?" Instantly he took a huge bite, and she replied, "Ay, and there's a piece-" 'Tis three moons go no by since thou didst give me such a dainty," he mumbled. O' young wild boar pie, and half a calf's foot. I know thy fondness for Bones o' my father he exclaimed, forget- ting their whereabouts but thou'rt worthy a I fcetter lover than the surty Gwyar-" Hush An anyone be near thou'lt betray I lW, and get me moved tu other duties, for that I iced thee by stealing. As this was a matter to be avoided at all cost, Gwalchmai munched a while in silence, then his natural inclination averted itself in, Why aost thon let that Dioody boar make love to thee: Give me a drink. She placed the horn in his groping hand, and he drank, then steadily de- creased pie and mead. Thou kuowest that though some may cast sheep's eyes at thee, they will not come a bleating while be hangs about thee." But I do not want Mm." Then why do.C-—thon let—ftfaa rail af—ter .Vte." I am not hh Kjaf-lcr to tic him rrp. And thou kuowest that just as puppies bark at the moon, all men do not gather wisdom with their years." Bight, and p:v*5ing wise for I wish ihon'iiat brought more mead. This i3 'most gone. Hu»h 'Tin nothing, I think. Did .At thou hoar a step?" ¡ No. Where 'hey tongoe is tkcxa'* Here, say lop, sad take this howl again." The article was i!) her lap, his teeth went into the calf's foot. 1 to the bast of his ability with lull mouth, he said, Well, hast thou had snongk 0' that unr.iy hog i' the armoury ?" DosÙhink I steal thee suppers for love 0' JxuDg a thief ?" There was a. Ealh cl 11gb, and Gwyar, tower- ,r-; ing with rage, stood bcioro than. His suspicion:; j having been aroused, and jealousy excited by eecretly seeing Echel leav? the lritdiea witii her load, he, carrying a muSled light, had crept up, and iistened until passing had ovorcoms hh better sense. • With a botmd the two leapt to their feet—she looking dismayed, he almost choking by trying to bolt a large mouthful of the food. Thou wanton sluttered Gwyar to Echel. Thou liest was her retort. Thou art, else why art thou here like this Thou art a. foul liar Her eyes blazed, and, with a movement, almost rapid as thought, she burled the wooden bowl at his head. It struck the side of his face, and went rattling into the corridor. In an instant his lamp was on the seat, and he had sprung at her. But Gwalchmai, seeing Gwyar's intention, the while striving to clear his gullet of the food, stepped between them. The armonry-keeper collided with him, and they fell together. For some minutes it was doubtful which would have the honour of framing terms of peace. Although much the heavier man, and stronger at a sudden out-put, Gwyar had not the staying power of his opponent whose lungs were in fairer condition, and his muscles as good generally, Thus they rolled, clutched, and struck when convenient now this side of the alcove, then on the other now Gwalchmai at the bottom, and now on the top. Meantime Echel watched, made several sudden leaps to avoid being in- cluded in the struggle, and trembled lest weapons should be used and blood spilt, which would cause her further and worse trouble. Presently Gwyar once more gained the top. He then had Gwalchmai pinned by the wall under the narrow seat, and was striving to Ull- sheath his dagger. Echel saw the movement. Like a wild cat she made one spring into the passage and secured the bowl. Back she flew to the two men, raised the utensil high above her head, and brought it down with all her strength squarely on Gwyar's skull. The action broke the bowl in two pieces, and the victim rolled over stunned. 'Quick," whispered she. "Quick; help me gather up these things and be gone. Leave him to come to and cool down the which he already doss. See, he moves. Come." Gwalchmai was on his feet, and he rapidly secured her lamp, the horn, and the piece of calf's foot—it not the last, for he thought he would enjoy finishing it in more peaceable quarters. She picked up the broken bowl, blew out Gwyar's light, and they Red to their separate parts of the building.



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,As Filled Up.