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Beltane the smith

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Title:BeltaneTheSmith
Author:JefferyFarnol
ReleaseDate:November12,2003[EBook#10064][Datelastupdated:March
18,2004]
Language:English
***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKBELTANETHE
SMITH***

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BELTANETHESMITH
BY
JEFFERYFARNOL
AUTHOROF"THEBROADHIGHWAY,""THEAMATEUR
GENTLEMAN,"ETC.

WITHILLUSTRATIONSBYARTHURE.BECHER


TO
FREDERICKHUGHSONHAWLEY
TOWHOMBELTANEISNOSTRANGERIDEDICATETHISROMANCE

JefferyFarnol
London,August,1915.

CONTENTS
IHOWBELTANELIVEDWITHINTHEGREENWOOD
IIHOWBELTANEHADWORDWITHTHEDUKE,BLACKIVO
IIIHOWLOVECAMETOBELTANEINTHEGREENWOOD
IVOFTHELOVEANDTHEGRIEFOFHELENTHEPROUD
VWHICHTELLSOFTHESTORYOFAMBROSETHEHERMIT
VIHOWBELTANEFAREDFORTHOFTHEGREEN
VIIHOWBELTANETALKEDWITHONEHIGHTGILESBRABBLECOMBE,WHOWASA
NOTABLEANDLEARNEDARCHER
VIIIHOWBELTANEHELDDISCOURSEWITHABLACKFRIAR


IXWHEREINISSOMEACCOUNTOFTHEPHILOSOPHYOFFOLLYANDTHEWISDOMOF
AFOOL
XHOWBELTANEMADECOMRADEONEBLACKROGERTHATWASAHANGMAN
XIWHICHTELLSHOWTHREEMIGHTYMENSWAREFEALTYTOBELTANE:ANDHOW
GOODFRIARMARTINDIGGEDAGRAVEINTHEWILD
XIIWHICHTELLSHOWDUKEIVO'SGREATGALLOWSCEASEDTOBE
XIIIHOWTHEYBRAKEOPETHEDUNGEONOFBELSAYE
XIVHOWBELTANECAMENIGHTODEATH
XVHOWBELTANEHADWORDWITHPERTOLEPETHERED,ANDHOWTHEYLEFTHIM
INTHEFOREST
XVIOFTHERUEFULKNIGHTOFTHEBURNINGHEART
XVIIOFTHEAMBUSHMENTNEARTHORNABYMILL
XVIIIHOWBELTANEMETSIRGILLESOFBRANDONMERE
XIXCONCERNINGTHEEYESOFANUN
XXHOWBELTANEPLIGHTEDHISTROTHINTHEGREEN
XXIOFTHETALEOFGODRICTHEHUNTSMAN
XXIICONCERNINGTHEWILESOFWINFRIDATHEFAIR
XXIIIOFTHEHUMILITYOFHELENTHEPROUD


XXIVOFWHATBEFELLATBLAEN
XXVHOWBELTANEBECAMECAPTIVETOSIRPERTOLEPE
XXVIOFTHEHORRORSOFGARTHLAXTONKEEP,ANDHOWADEVILENTEREDINTO
BELTANE
XXVIIHOWBELTANETOOKTOTHEWILD-WOOD
XXVIIIOFTHEPLACEOFREFUGEWITHINTHEGREEN


XXIXHOWBELTANESLEWTOSTIGANDSPAKEWITHTHEWILDMEN
XXXHOWTHEYSMOTEGARTHLAXTON
XXXIHOWGILESMADEAMERRYSONG
XXXIIHOWBELTANEMETWITHAYOUTHFULKNIGHT
XXXIIIHOWBELTANEHADNEWSOFONETHATWASANOTABLEPARDONER
XXXIVHOWTHEYCAMETOBELSAYE
XXXVHOWGUIOFALLERDALECEASEDFROMEVIL
XXXVIHOWTHEFOLKOFBELSAYETOWNMADETHEMANENDOFTYRANNY
XXXVIIHOWTHEYLEFTBELSAYE
XXXVIIIOFBELTANE'SBLACKANDEVILMOOD,ANDHOWHEFELLINWITHTHE
WITCHOFHANGSTONEWASTE
XXXIXHOWBELTANEFOUGHTFORONEMELLENTTHATWASAWITCH
XLFURTHERCONCERNINGTHEMAIDMELLENT;ANDOFTHEHUEANDCRY
XLIHOWTHEYRODEINTOTHEWILDERNESS
XLIIHOWBELTANEDREAMEDINTHEWILD-WOOD
XLIIIHOWBELTANEKNEWGREATHUMILITY
XLIVHOWAMADNESSCAMEUPONBELTANEINTHEWILD-WOOD
XLVHOWBLACKROGERTAUGHTBELTANEGREATWISDOM
XLVIHOWBLACKROGERPRAYEDINTHEDAWN:ANDHOWHISPRAYERSWERE
ANSWERED
XLVIIHOWBELTANESWAREANOATH
XLVIIIHOWBELTANESETOUTFORHANGSTONEWASTE
XLIXHOWBELTANEFOUNDPEACEANDAGREATSORROW


LTELLETHHOWBELTANEWENTFORTHTOHISDUTY
LIHOWBLACKROGERWONTOFULLERMANHOOD
LIIHOWTHEYHADNEWSOFWALKYN
LIIIOFJOLETTE,THATWASAWITCH
LIVHOWBELTANEFOUGHTWITHADOUGHTYSTRANGER
LVHOWTHEYMARCHEDFORWINISFARNE
LVIWHATTHEYFOUNDATWINISFARNE
LVIITELLETHOFTHEONFALLATBRAND
LVIIIHOWBELTANEHADSPEECHWITHTHEABBESS
LIXTELLETHHOWSIRBENEDICTWENTA-FISHING
LXTELLETHHOWTHEYMARCHEDFROMTHEVALLEYOFBRAND
LXIHOWTHEFORESTFOUGHTFORTHEM
LXIIHOWTHEYCAMETOBELSAYEFORTHETHIRDTIME
LXIIITELLETHSOMEWHATOFTHEWOESOFGILESO'THEBOW
LXIVHOWGILESCURSEDBELSAYEOUROFHERFEAR
LXVTELLETHOFROSES
LXVICONCERNINGABLUECAMLETCLOAK
LXVIITELLETHWHATBEFELLINTHEREEVE'SGARDEN
LXVIIIFRIARMARTIN'SDYINGPROPHECY
LXIXHOWATLASTTHEYCAMETOPENTAVALONCITY
LXXWHICHSPEAKETHFORITSELF


LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS
ThusHelentheProud,theBeautiful,yieldedherlipstohis
Nowdidshelookonhim'neathdroopinglash,sweet-eyedandlanguorous
Beltanestooduparmedinshiningmailfromheadtofoot
SocameWinfrida,andfallingonherkneegavethegobletintoherlady'shand
ShestaredandstaredbeyondSirGui,tobeholdonecladasadustymiller
Hereyesswepthimwithlookcalmandmostdispassionate

BELTANETHESMITH

CHAPTERI
HOWBELTANELIVEDWITHINTHEGREENWOOD

Inagladeoftheforest,yetnotsofarbutthatonemighthearthechimeofbells
stealingacrossthevalleyfromthegreatminsterofMortainonastillevening,
dweltBeltanetheSmith.
Alonehelivedintheshadowofthegreattrees,happywhenthepipingofthe
birdswasinhisears,andjoyingtolistentotheplashandmurmurofthebrook
thatranmerrilybesidehishut;orpausing'twixtthestrokesofhisponderous
hammertocatchitsneverfailingmusic.
AmightymanwasBeltanetheSmith,despitehisyouthalreadygreatofstature
andcomelyoffeature.Muchknewheofwoodcraft,ofthegrowthofherband
treeandflower,ofbeastandbird,andhowtotelleachbyitscryorsongor
flight;heknewthewaysoffishinthestreams,andcouldtellthecourseofthe
starsintheheavens;versedwashelikewiseintheancientwisdomsand
philosophies,bothLatinandGreek,havinglearnedallthesethingsfromhim


whommencalledAmbrosetheHermit.Butofmenandcitiesheknewlittle,and
ofwomenandthewaysofwomen,lessthannothing,forofthesematters
Ambrosespakenot.
Thus,beinggrownfromyouthtomanhood,forthatamanmustneedslive,
Beltanebuildedhimahutbesidethebrook,andsetupananviltherebywhereon
hebeatoutbill-hooksandaxe-headsandsuchimplementsasthecharcoalburnersandtheythatlivedwithinthegreenhadneedof.
Oft-times,ofanevening,hewouldseekoutthehermitAmbrose,andtheywould
talktogetherofmanythings,butseldomofmenandcities,andneverofwomen
andthewaysofwomen.Once,therefore,wondering,Beltanehadsaid:
"Myfather,amongstallthesemattersyouspeakneverofwomenandtheways
ofwomen,thoughhistoryisfulloftheirdoings,andallpoetssingpraiseoftheir
wondrousbeauty,asthisHelenaofTroy,whommencalled'Desireofthe
World.'"
ButAmbrosesighedandshookhishead,saying:
"Artthouindeedaman,sosoon,myBeltane?"andsosatwatchinghimawhile.
Anonheroseandstridingtoandfrospakesuddenandpassionateonthiswise:
"Beltane,Itelltheethebeautyofwomenisanevilthing,aluretowreckthe
soulsofmen.Bywomancamesinintotheworld,byherbeautysheblindsthe
eyesofmentotruthandhonour,leadingthemintoallmannerofwantonness
wherebytheirverymanhoodisdestroyed.ThisHelenofTroy,ofwhomye
speak,wasnoughtbutavileadulteress,withaheartfalseandfoul,bywhosesin
manydiedandTroytownwasutterlydestroyed."
"Alas!"sighedBeltane,"thatonesofairshouldbeathingsoevil!"
Thereafterhewenthisway,verysadandthoughtful,andthatnight,lyingupon
hisbed,heheardthevoicesofthetreessighingandmurmuringonetoanother
likesoulsthatsorrowedforsin'ssake,andbrokendreamsandideals.
"Alas!thatonesofairshouldbeathingsoevil!"But,abovethewhispersofthe
trees,loudandinsistentrosethemerrychatterofthebrookspeakingtohimof
manythings;oflife,andthelustoflife;thepompandstirofcities;thesoundof
songandlaughter;ofwomenandthebeautyofwomen,andofthesweet,mad
wonderoflove.Ofallthesethingsthebrooksanginthedarkness,andBeltane


sighed,andsighing,fellasleep.
ThuslivedmyBeltaneinthewoodland,rangingtheforestwitheyequicktosee
thebeautyofearthandsky,andearopentothethousandvoicesaroundhim;or,
busiedathisanvil,hearkeningtothewondroustalesoftravelandstrange
adventuretoldbywanderingknightandman-at-armsthewhile,withskilful
hand,hemendedbrokenmailordentedcasque;andthereafter,uponthemossy
sward,wouldmaketrialoftheirstrengthandvalour,wherebyhebothtookand
gaverightlustyknocks;oragain,whenworkfailed,hewouldlieuponthegrass,
chinonfist,poringoversomeancientlegend,orsitwithbrushandcolours,
illuminatingonvellum,whereinrightcunningwashe.Nowitchancedthatashe
satthus,brushinhand,uponacertainfairafternoon,hesuddenlyespiedone
whostoodwatchinghimfromtheshadeofatree,nearby.Averytallmanhe
was,longandleanandgrimofaspect,withamouthwry-twistedbyreasonofan
ancientsword-cut,andyet,withal,hehadajovialeye.Butnow,seeinghimself
observed,heshookhisgrizzledheadandsighed.WhereatsaidBeltane,busied
withhisbrushagain:
"Goodsir,praywhat'samiss?"
"Theworld,youth,theworld—'tisallamiss.Yetmarkme!heresityouadabbingcolourwithalittlebrush!"
AnsweredBeltane:"AnsoyeseektodoyourdutyasregardfullyasInowdaub
thiscolour,messire,insomuchshalltheworldbebettered."
"Myduty,youth,"quoththestranger,raspingahandacrosshisgrizzledchin,
"myduty?Ha,'tiswellsaid,soneedsmustInowfightwiththee."
"Fightwithme!"saysBeltane,hiskeengazeuponthespeaker.
"Aye,verily!"noddedthestranger,and,forthwith,layingbyhislongcloak,he
showedtwoswordswhosebroadbladesglittered,redandevil,inthesunset.
"But,"saysBeltane,shakinghishead,"Ihavenoquarrelwiththee,goodfellow."
"Quarrel?"exclaimedthestranger,"noquarrel,quotha?Whatmatterfor
that?Surelyyouwouldnotforegoagoodboutforsosmallamatter?
Dothamaneatonlywhenfamishing,ordrinkbuttoquenchhisthirst?
Outuponthee,messiresmith!"


"Butsir,"saidBeltane,bendingtohisbrushagain,"anIshouldfightwiththee,
wherewouldbethereason?"
"Nowhere,youth,sincefightingiseveratoddswithreason;yetforsuch
unreasonablereasonsdoreasoningmenfight."
"Nonetheless,Iwillnotfightthee,"answeredBeltane,deftlytouchinginthe
wingofanarchangel,"solettherebeanendon't."
"Endforsooth,wehavenotyetbegun!Anyoumusthaveaquarrel,rightfully
willIprovokethee,sincefightwiththeeImust,itbeingsomyduty—"
"Howthyduty?"
"Iamsocommanded."
"Bywhom?"
"Byonewho,beingdead,yetliveth.Nay,asknonames,yetmarkmethis—the
world'samiss,boy.Pentavalongroansbeneathablackusurper'sheel,allthesins
ofhellareloose,murderandriot,lustandrapine.Marchyoueastwardbutaday
throughtheforestyonderandyoushallseethetreesbearstrangefruitinour
country.Theworld'samiss,messire,yetheresityouwastingyourdays,afoolish
brushstuckinthyfist.SoamIcome,norwillIgohenceuntilIhavetriedthy
mettle."
QuothBeltane,shakinghishead,intentuponhiswork:
"Youspeakmeriddles,sir."
"YetcanIspeaktheetothepointandsoitbethywish,asthus—nowmarkme,
boy!Thouartafool,adog,afatuousass,aslave,anincompoop,acowardly
boy,andassuch—markmeagain!—nowdoIspitatthee!"
HereuponBeltane,havingfinishedthearchangel'swing,laidbyhisbrushand,
withthoughtfulmien,arose,andbeinguponhisfeet,turnedhim,swiftand
sudden,andcaughtthestrangerinafierceandcunningwrestlinggrip,and
forthwiththrewhimuponhisback.Whereatthisstrangeman,sittingcrossleggeduponthesward,smiledhiswryandtwistedsmileandlookedupon
Beltanewithbright,approvingeye.


"Aprettyspirit!"henodded."'Tisasweetandgentleyouthallgoodbeefand
bone;alittlegreenasyet,perchance,but'tisnomatter.Amightyarm,anoble
thigh,andshoulders—bodyo'me!But'tisinthebreed.Youngsir,bythesesame
signsandportentsmysoulisupliftedandhopesingethanewsongwithinme!"
Sosaying,thestrangersprangnimblytohisfeetandcatchinguponeofthe
swordstookitbythebladeandgaveitsmassyhilttoBeltane'shand.Saidhe:
"Lookwelluponthisblade,youngsir;induchy,kingdomorcountyyoushall
notfinditsmatch,northelikeoftheterriblehandthatboreit.Timewaswhen
thisgoodsteel—markhowitglittersyet!—struckdeepforlibertyandjustice
andallfairthings,beforewhosemightoppressionquailedandhungitshead,and
inwhoseshadowpeaceandmercyrested.'Twaslongago,butthisgoodsteelis
brightandundimmedasever.Ha!markit,boy—thoseeyeso'thineshallne'er
beholditsequal!"
SoBeltanetookholduponthegreatsword,feltthespringandbalanceofthe
bladeandvieweditupfromglitteringpointtoplainandsimplecross-guard.And
thus,gravendeepwithinthebroadsteelhereadthisword:
RESURGAM.

"Ha!"criedthestranger,"seeyouthelegend,goodyouth?Speakmenowwhatit
dothsignify."
AndBeltaneanswered:
"'Ishallarise!'"
"'Arise'goodboy,aye,verily,markmethat.'Tisafairthought,lookyou,andthe
mottoofagreatandnoblehouse,and,bytheRood,Ithink,likewisea
prophecy!"Thusspeakingthestrangerstooped,andtakinguptheothersword
facedBeltanetherewith,sayinginsoftandwheedlingtones:"Comenow,letus
fighttogetherthouandI,anddenymenot,lest,—markmethiswell,youth,—
lestIspitattheeagain."
Thenheraisedhissword,andsmoteBeltanewiththeflatofit,andtheblow
stung,whereforeBeltaneinstinctivelyswunghisweaponandthrilledwith
suddenunknownjoyattheclashofsteelonsteel;andsotheyengaged.
Andthere,withintheleafysolitude,Beltaneandthestrangerfoughttogether.


Thelongbladeswhirledandflashedandranguponthestillness;andever,as
theyfought,thestrangersmiledhiswrysmile,mockingandgibingathim,
whereatBeltane'smouthgrewthegrimmerandhisblowstheheavier,yet
whereverhestruck,therealreadywasthestranger'sbladetomeethim,whereat
thestrangerlaughedfierceandloud,tauntinghimonthiswise:
"Hownow,thoudauberofcolours,betaketheetothylittlebrush,belikeitshall
servetheebetter!Ayeme,betaketheetothylittlebrush,'twerebetterfittedto
theethananoblesword,thoudaubingboy!"
NowdidmyBeltanewaxwrothindeedandsmoteamainuntilhisbreathgrew
shortandthick,buteversteelrangonsteel,andeverthestrangerlaughedand
gibeduntilBeltane'sstrokesgrewslower:—then,withasuddenfierceshout,did
thestrangerbesetmyBeltanewithstrokessoswiftandstrong,nowtorightof
him,nowtoleft,thattheveryairseemedfullofflaming,whirlingsteel,and,in
thatmoment,asBeltanegaveback,thestrangersmotethriceinasmany
momentswiththeflatofhisblade,onceuponthecrown,onceuponthe
shoulder,andonceuponthethigh.Fierceeyedandscantofbreath,Beltane
redoubledhisblows,strivingtobeathismockertotheearth,whereathebut
laughedagain,saying:
"Looktothylonglegs,dullard!"andforthwithsmoteBeltaneupontheleg.
"Nowthinearm,slothfulboy—thyleftarm!"andhesmoteBeltaneuponthe
arm."Nowthysconce,boy,thymazzard,thysleepy,goldenhead!"and
straightwayhesmotehimonthehead,and,thereafter,withsudden,cunning
stroke,beatthegreatswordfromBeltane'sgrip,andso,laughingyet,pausedand
stoodleaninguponhisownlongweapon.
ButBeltanestoodwithbenthead,hurtinhispride,angryandbeyondallthought
amazed;yet,beinghumbledmostofallhekepthisgazebentearthwardsand
spakenoword.
NowhereuponthestrangergrewsolemnlikewiseandlookedatBeltanewith
kindly,approvingeyes.
"Nay,indeed,"quothhe,"benotabashed,goodyouth;takeitnotamissthatI
haveworstedthee.'Tistrue,hadIbeensomindedImighthavecuttheeinto
gobbetsnolargerthanthylittlebrush,butthen,bodyo'me!Ihavelivedby
strokeofswordfrommyyouthupandhavefoughtindiverswarsandcountries,


sotakeitnottoheart,goodyouth!"Withthewordhenoddedand,stooping,took
upthesword,and,thereafter,casthiscloakabouthim,whereatBeltaneliftedhis
headandspake:
"Artgoing,sir?Wiltnottrymeonceagain?MethinksImightdoalittlebetter
thistime,ansoGodwills."
"Aye,sothoushalt,sweetyouth,"criedthestranger,clappinghimuponthe
shoulder,"yetnotnow,forImustbegone,yetshallIreturn."
"ThenIprayyouleavewithmetheswordtillyoubecomeagain."
"Thesword—ha!doththysoulcleaveuntoitsosoon,mygood,sweetboy?
Leavethesword,quotha?Aye,truly—someday.Butforthenonce—no,no,thy
handisnotfittedtobearityet,norworthysuchablade,butsomeday,belike—
whoknows?Faretheewell,sweetyouth,Icomeagainto-morrow."
Andsothetall,grimstrangerturnedhimabout,smilinghiswrysmile,and
strodeawaythroughthegreen.ThenBeltanewentback,mindedtofinishhis
painting,butthecolourshadlosttheircharmforhim,moreover,thelightwas
failing.Whereforeheputbrushesandcoloursaside,and,stripping,plungedinto
thecool,sweetwatersofacertainquietpool,andso,muchheartenedand
refreshedthereby,wentbetimestobed.Butnowhethoughtnomoreofwomen
andthewaysofwomen,butratherofthisstrangerman,ofhiswrysmileandof
hiswondroussword-play;andbethinkinghimofthegreatsword,heyearned
afterit,asonlyyouthmayyearn,andso,sighing,fellasleep.Andinhisdreams
allnightwastherushingthunderofmanyfiercefeetandtheroaringdinofbitter
fightandconflict.
*****
UptoanelbowsprangBeltanetofindthesunnewrisen,fillinghishumble
chamberwithitsgoldenglory,and,inthisradiance,upontheopenthreshold,the
tall,grimfigureofthestranger.
"Messire,"quothBeltane,rubbingsleepyeyes,"youwakebetimes,meseemeth."
"Aye,sluggardboy;thereisworktodobetwixtus.""Howso,sir?"
"Mytimeinthegreenwoodgrowethshort;withintheweekImustaway,for


therearewarsandrumoursofwarsupontheborders."
QuothBeltane,wondering:
"Warandconflicthavebeenwithinmydreamsallnight!"
"Dreams,boy!Itelltheethetimegrowethripeforaction—and,markmethis!
wherein,perchance,thoutooshaltshare,yetmuchhaveItoteachtheefirst,so
rise,slug-a-bed,rise!"
NowwhenBeltanewasrisenandcladhefoldedhisarmsacrosshisbroadchest
andstareduponthestrangerwithgrave,deep-searchingeyes.
"Whoartthou?"hequestioned,"andwhatwouldyouhereagain?"
"Astothyfirstquestion,sirsmith,'tisnomatterforthat,butasforthysecond,
to-dayamIcometoteachtheetheuseandmanageofhorseandlance,itbeing
somyduty."
"Andwhereforethyduty?"
"ForthatIamsocommanded."
"Bywhom?"
"Byonewhoyetliveth,beingdead."
NowBeltanefrownedatthis,andshookhishead,saying:
"Moreriddles,messire?YetnowwillIspeaktheeplain,asthus:Iamasmith,
andhavenolusttostrifeorknightlydeeds,norwillIe'erattemptthem,forstrife
begettethbitterstrifeandwarisanevilthing.'Theythattrusttotheswordshall
perishbythesword,''tissowritten,andis,meseemeth,afaithfulsaying.This
sorryworldhathknownovermuchofwarandhate,ofstrifeandbloodshed,so
shallthesemyhandsgoinnocentofmore."
ThenindeeddidthestrangerstarewithjawsagapeforwonderatmyBeltane's
saying,and,sostaring,turnedhimtothedoorandbackagain,andfainwould
speak,yetcouldnotforawhile.Then:


"Besottedboy!"hecried."Ocravenyouth!Obabe!Osuckling!Wasitforthis
thouwertbegot?Hastthounobowels,noblood,nomanhood?Forsooth,and
mustIspitontheeindeed?"
"Andsoitbethywill,messire,"saidBeltane,steady-eyed.
Butastheystoodthus,Beltanewitharmsyetcrossed,hislipsup-curvingatthe
other'sfierceamaze,thestrangergrim-facedandfrowning,cameashadow
athwartthelevelgloryofthesun,and,turning,Beltanebeheldthehermit
Ambrose,tallandsparebeneathhistatteredgown,bareheadedandbareoffoot,
whoseeyeswerebrightandquick,despitethesnowofhairandbeard,andin
whosegentlefaceandhumblemienwasyetahighandnoblelookatoddswith
hislowlyguiseandtatteredvesture;atsightofwhomthegrim-facedstranger,of
asudden,bowedhisgrizzledheadandsankuponhisknee.
"Lord!"hesaid,andkissedthehermit'slong,coarserobe.Whereonthehermit
bentandtouchedhimwithagentlehand.
"Benedicite,myson!"saidhe."Goyou,andleaveustogetherawhile."
Forthwiththestrangerrosefromhiskneeandwentoutintothegloryofthe
morning.ThenthehermitcametoBeltaneandsethistwohandsuponhis
mightyshouldersandspaketohimverygently,onthiswise:
"Thouknowest,myBeltane,howallthydaysIhavetaughttheetoloveallfair,
andsweet,andnoblethings,fortheyareofGod.'Twereafairthought,now,to
liveoutthylifehere,withinthesecalm,leafysolitudes—butbetterdeathbythe
swordforsomehigh,unselfishpurpose,thantoliveoutalifeofease,safeand
cloisteredallthydays.Toliveforthineownends—'tishuman;todieforsome
greatcause,forliberty,orforanother'sgood—that,myson,wereGod-like.And
therewasaManofSorrowsWhosewordwasthis,thatHecame'nottobring
peaceonthisearth,butasword.'Forgoodcannotoutfaceevilbutstrifemust
needsfollow.Beholdnowhereanothersword,myBeltane;keepithenceforthso
longasthoukeephonour."Sosaying,AmbrosetheHermittookfrombeneath
hishabitthatforwhichBeltanehadyearned,thatsamegreatbladewhereon
whosesteelwasgraventhelegend:
RESURGAM.


SoAmbroseputtheswordinBeltane'shand,saying:
"Beterrible,myson,thatevilmayfleebeforethee,learntobestrongthatthou
may'stbemerciful."Thenthehermitstretchedforthhishandsandblessedmy
Beltane,andturnedabout,andsowasgone.
ButBeltanestoodawhiletoswingthegreatbladelightlytoandfroandtostare
uponitwithshiningeyes.Then,havinghiditwithinhisbed,hewentforthinto
theglade.Andherehepresentlybeheldagreatgreyhorsetetheredtoatreehard
by,amettledsteedthattosseditsnobleheadandsnuffedthefragrantairof
morning,pawingattheearthwithimpatienthoof.Now,ashestoodgazing,came
thestrangerandtouchedhimonthearm.
"Messire,"saidhe,"tryanthoucanstbackthesteedyonder."
Beltanesmiled,forhehadlovedhorsesallhisdays,andloosingthehorse,ledit
outintotheopenandwouldhavemounted,butthespiritedbeast,knowinghim
not,rearedandplungedandstrovetobreakthegripuponthebridle,butthegrip
wasstrongandcompelling;thenBeltanesoothedhimwithgentlevoiceand
hand,and,ofasudden,vaultedlightlyintothesaddle,andbeingthere,feltthe
greatbeastrearunderhim,and,laughingjoyously,struckhimwithopenpalm
andsetoffatathunderousgallop.Away,awaytheyspedupthesunnyglade,
pastoakandbeechandelm,throughlightandshadow,untilbeforethemshowed
atreeofvastgirthandmightyspreadofbranches.NowwouldBeltanehave
reinedaside,butthegreathorse,earsflatandeyesrolling,heldblindlyon.Then
Beltanefrownedandleaningforward,seizedthebridleclosebesidethebit,and
grippingitso,putforthhisstrength.Slowly,slowlythegreat,fierceheadwas
drawnlowandlower,thefoam-fleckedjawsgapedwide,butBeltane'sgripgrew
everthefierceruntil,snorting,panting,wild-eyed,thegreatgreyhorsefaltered
inhisstride,checkedhispace,slipped,stumbled,andsostoodquiveringinthe
shadeofthetree.ThereafterBeltaneturnedhimand,gallopingback,drewrein
wherethestrangersat,cross-legged,watchinghimwithhiswrysmile.
"Aye,"henodded,"weshallmakeoftheeahorsemanyet.Butastolancenow,
andarmour—"
QuothBeltane,smiling:
"Goodsir,Iamasmith,andinmytimehavemendedmanyasuitofmail,aye,
andmadethemtoo,though'twasbuttotrymyhand.Asforalance,Ihaveoft


tiltedattheringastrideaforestpony,andbetimes,haverunacoursewith
wanderingmen-at-arms."
"Sayyouso,boy?"saidthestranger,andrising,tookfrombehindatreealong
andheavylanceandthrustitintoBeltane'sgrip;then,drawinghissword,heset
ituprightinthesward,anduponthehiltheputhiscap,saying:
"Ridebackuptheglade,andtryanthoucanstpickupmycaponthypoint,ata
gallop."SoBeltanerodeupthegladeandwheelingatadistance,camegalloping
downwithlevelledlance,andthunderedbywiththecapflutteringfromhis
lancepoint.
"ArtlessofadullardthanIthoughtthee,"saidthestranger,takingbackhiscap,
"though,markmeboy,'tisanothermattertorideagainstamanfullyarmedand
equipped,lancetolanceandshieldtoshield,thantochargeaharmless,ancient
leatherncap.Still,artlessofadullardthanIthoughtthee.Butthereisthesword,
now—withtheswordthouartindeedbutasorryfool!GofetchtheswordandI
wille'enbelabortheeagain."
SoBeltane,lightingdownfromthehorsethatrearedandplungednomore,went
andfetchedthegreatsword;andwhentheyhadlaidtheirjerkinsby(forthesun
washot)theyfacedeachother,foottofootandeyetoeye.Thenonceagainthe
longbladeswhirledandflewandrangtogether,andonceagainthestranger
laughedandgibedandstruckmyBeltanehowandwherehewould,norgave
himstayorrespitetillBeltane'smightyarmgrewawearyandhisshoulderached
andburned;then,whenhereckednotofit,thestranger,withthesamecunning
stroke,beattheswordfromBeltane'shand,andlaughedaloudandwaggedhis
head,saying:
"Artfaint,boy,andscanto'breathalready?Methinkswene'ershallmakeofthee
alustysworder!"ButbeholdingBeltane'sflushingcheekanddroopingeye,
reachedoutandclappedhimontheshoulder.
"Goto!"criedhe,"artyoungandallunlearnedasyet—heednotmygibesand
quirks,'tiseversomycustomwhensteelisringing,andmarkme,Idothinkita
goodcustom,asapttoputamanoffhiswardandflurryhiminhisstroke.Never
despair,youth,forItellthee,northandsouth,andeastandwestmynameis
known,norshallyoufindinanyduchy,kingdomorcounty,aswordersuchasI.
For,markmenow!yourknightandman-at-arms,trustingtohisarmour,doth


usehisswordbuttothrustandsmite.But—andmarkmeagain,boy!aman
cannotgoeverinhisarmour,noryetbesurewhenfoesarenigh,and,atall
times,'tiswelltomakethyweaponbothswordandshield;'tisagoodlyart,
indeedIthinkaprettyone.Comenow,takeupthyswordandIwillteachthee
allmystrokesandshowtheehow'tisdone."
Thusthen,thisstrangerdwelttheweekwithBeltaneinthegreenwood,teaching
him,daybyday,tricksofswordandmuchmartiallorebeside.And,daybyday,
afriendshipwaxedandgrewbetwixtthemsothatupontheseventhmorning,as
theybroketheirfasttogether,Beltane'sheartwasheavyandhislookdowncast;
whereatthestrangerspakehimthus:
"Whencethydole,goodyouth?"
"Forthatto-dayneedsmustIpartwiththee."
"Andthyfriendsarefew,belike?"
"None,messire,"answeredBeltane,sighing.
"Ayeme!Andyet'tiswellenough,for—markme,youth!—friendsbeofttimesa
mixedblessing.Asforme,'tistrueIamthyfriendandsoshalleverbe,solong
asyoushallbearyongoodlyblade."
"Andwherefore?"questionedBeltane.
"Moreoverthouartmyscholar,andlike,perchance,toprovethyself,someday,
anotablesworderandasweetanddoughtyfighter,belike."
"Yethastneverspokenmethyname,messire."
"Why,hastquestionedmebutonce,andthenthouwertsomethingofa
blockheaddreamer,methought.Butnow,messireBeltane,sincethouwould'st
know—BenedictofBourneamIcalled."
NowhereuponBeltaneroseandstooduponhisfeet,staringwide-eyedatthis
grim-facedstrangerwho,withmilk-bowlatlip,pausedtosmilehiswrysmile.
"Aha!"saidhe,"hastheardsuchanameerenow,evenhereinthegreenwood?"
"Sir,"answeredBeltane,"betimesIhavetalkedwithsoldiersandmen-at-arms,


sodoIknowtheeforthatsamegreatknightwho,ofallthenoblesof
Pentavalon,dothyetwithstandthegreatDukeIvo—"
"Callyouthatblackusurper'great,'youth?Bodyo'me!Iknewagreater,once,
methinks!"
"Aye,"noddedBeltane,"therewashimmencalled'BeltanetheStrong.'"
"Ha!"quothSirBenedict,settingdownhismilk-bowl,"whatknowyouofDuke
Beltane?"
"Noughtbutthathewasagreatandlustyfighterwhoyetlovedpeaceandmercy,
buttruthandjusticemostofall."
"Andto-day,"sighedSirBenedict,"to-daywehaveBlackIvo!Ayeme!thesebe
sorrydaysforPentavalon.'TissaidhewoostheyoungDuchessyonder.Hast
everseenHelenofMortain,sirsmith?"
"Nay,butI'veheardtellthatsheiswondrousfair."
"Hum!"quothSirBenedict,"Ilovenotyourred-hairedspit-fires.Methinks,an
Ivowinher,she'llleadhimhowshewill,orbebrokeintheadventure—a
malisonuponhim,beithowitmay!"
So,havingpresentlymadeanendofeating,SirBenedictaroseandforthwith
donnedquiltedgambeson,andthereafterhishauberkofbrightmailandplain
surcoat,andbucklinghisswordabouthim,strodeintothegladewherestoodthe
greatgreyhorse.Now,beingmounted,SirBenedictstayedawhiletolookdown
atBeltane,whilesBeltanelookedupathim.
"MessireBeltane,"saidhe,pointingtohisscarredcheek,"youlookuponmy
scar,Ithink?"
QuothBeltane,flushinghot:
"Nay,sir;intruth,notI."
"Whylooknow,sweetyouth,'tisascarthatlikesmewell,though'twasinno
battleItookit,yetnonetheless,Iwouldnotbewithoutit.BythisImaybe
knownamongathousand.'Benedicto'theMark,'somecallme,and'tis,


methinks,asfairanameasany.Butlooknow,andmarkmethiswell,Beltane,
—shouldanycometotheewithinthegreen,bydayornight,andsaytothee,
'Benedicto'theMarkbidstheeariseandfollow,'—thenfollow,messire,andso,
peradventure,thoushaltariseindeed.Dostmarkmewell,youth?"
"Aye,SirBenedict."
"Heigho!"sighedSirBenedict,"thou'rtafairsizedbabetobearwithinacloak,
andthouhastbeenbaptizedinblooderenow—andtherebemoreriddlesfor
thee,boy,andso,untilwemeet,faretheewell,messireBeltane!"
Sosaying,SirBenedictofBournesmiledhistwistedsmileand,wheelinghis
horse,rodeawaydowntheglade,hismailglisteningintheearlylightandhis
lancepointwinkingandtwinklingamidthegreen.

CHAPTERII
HOWBELTANEHADWORDWITHTHEDUKE,BLACKIVO

Nowitfelloutuponaday,thatasBeltanestrodetheforestways,theremethim
afinecavalcade,gaywiththestirofbroideredpetticoatanderminedmantle;
and,pausingbeneathatree,hestoodtohearkentothesoft,sweetvoicesofthe
ladiesandtogazeenrapturedupontheirvariedbeauty.Foremostofallrodea
manrichlyhabited,amanofgreatstrengthandbreadthofshoulder,andofa
bearinghighandarrogant.Hisface,framedinlongblackhairthatcurledtomeet
hisshoulder,wasofadarkandswarthyhue,fiercelookingandmasterfulby
reasonofprominentchinandhigh-archednose,andofhisthin-lipped,relentless
mouth.Blackwerehiseyesandbold;nowstaringbrightandwide,now
glittering'twixtheavy,narrowedlids;yetwhenhesmiledtheyglittered
brightest,andhislipsshowedmoistlyred.Besidehimrodealadyofawondrous
darkbeauty,sleepyeyedandlanguid;yetherglancewasquicktomeetthe
Duke'sboldlook,and,'neathhermantle,herfingersmet,onceinawhile,and
clungwithhis,whattimehisredlipswouldsmile;but,forthemostpart,his
browwasgloomyandhefingeredhischinasoneinthought.
Ashepacedalonguponhisrichlycaparisonedsteed,pinchingathislong,blue-


shavenchinwithsupplefingers,hisheavybrowsdrawnlow,ofasuddenhis
narrowedlidswidenedandhiseyesgleamedbrightandblackastheybeheldmy
Beltanestandingintheshadeofthetree.
"Aha!"saidhe,drawingrein,"whatinsolent,long-leggedrogueartthou,tostand
gapingatthybetters?"
AndBeltaneanswered:
"Norogue,messire,butanhonestman,IprayGod,whomfolkcall
BeltanetheSmith."
Thestaringeyesgrewsuddenlynarrow,thescarletmouthcurledinaslowsmile,
andthetallmanspake,yetwithhisgazebenteveruponBeltane:
"Fairlords,"hesaid,"andyou,mostsweetandgentleladies,oursporthathbeen
butpoor,hitherto—methinksIcanshowyouabetter,'tisagameweplayfulloft
inmycountry.WouldthatourgraciousladyofMortainwerehere,norhad
balkedusofherwilfulcompany.Ho!Gefroi!"hecalled,"comeyouandbreak
methebackofthis'honest'rogue."Andstraightwaycameonefromtherear,
whererodetheservantsandmen-at-arms,agreat,bronzedfellow,beardedtothe
eyesofhim,loosinghissword-beltashecame;who,havingtossedasidecap
andpourpoint,strodetowardBeltane,hiseyesquickandbright,histeethagleam
throughthehairofhisbeard.
"Come,thouforestrogue,"saidhe,"mylordDukelovethnottowaitformanor
maid,so—haveatthee!"
GreathelookedandtallasBeltane'sself,ahairymanofmightygirthwith
musclesthatswelledonarmandbreastandrippleduponhisback.Thus,ashe
stoodandlaughed,grimlyconfidentanddetermined,notafewweretheywho
sighedforBeltaneforhisyouth'ssake,andbecauseofhisgoldencurlsand
gentleeyes,forthisGefroiwasaccountedaverystrongman,andamatchless
wrestlerwithal.
"'Tisafairmatch,howthinkyou,SirJocelyn?"saidtheDuke,andturnedhimto
onewhorodeathiselbow;ayouthful,slenderfigurewithlongcurledhairand
sleepyeyes,"afairmatch,SirJocelyn?"
"Inverysooth,sweetmylord,gramercyandbyyourgraciousleave—notso,"


sighedSirJocelyn."ThisGefroio'thineisararebreakerofnecksandhatho'erthrownallthewrestlersinthethreeduchies;amanishe,setinhisstrengthand
experienced,butthisforester,tallthoughhebe,isbutabeardlessyouth."
TheDukesmiledhisslowsmile,hiscurvingnostrilsquiveredandwerestill,and
heglancedtowardSirJocelynthroughveilinglids.Quothhe:
"Art,rather,foragameofball,messire,orasonguponalute?"Sosayinghe
turnedandsignedtoGefroiwithhisfinger;asforSirJocelyn,heonlycurleda
lockofhislonghair,andhummedbeneathhisbreath.
NowBeltane,mislikingthematter,wouldfainhavegoneuponhisway,but
wheresoeverheturned,thereGefroiwasalso,barringhispath,wherefore
Beltane'seyekindledandheraisedhisstaffthreateningly.
"Fellow,"quothhe,"standfrommyway,lestImischiefthee."
ButGefroionlylaughedandlookedtohislord,who,beckoninganarcher,bid
himlayanarrowtohisstring.
"Shootmethecowardlyroguesosoonasheturnhisback,"saidhe,whereat
Gefroilaughedagain,wagginghishead.
"Come,forestknave,"quothhe,"Iknowatricktosnapthynecksosweetlyshalt
neverknow,Iwarrantthee.Come,'twilltakebutamoment,andmylordbegins
tolackofpatience."
SoBeltanelaidbyhisstaff,andtighteninghisgirdle,facedthehairyGefroi;and
therebefellthat,thewhich,thoughyoushallfindnomentionofitinany
chronicle,camemuchtobetalkedofthereafter;sothataballadewaswritofit
thewhichbeginneththus:
'Beltanewrestledinthegreen
Withamightyman,
Agoodlierboutwasneverseen
Sincetheworldbegan,'
WhileBeltanewastighteninghisgirdle,swiftandsuddenGefroiclosed,pinning
hisarmsinacunninghold,andthriceheswungmyBeltanefromhisfeetsothat
manyclappedtheirhandsthewhilethesquiresandmen-at-armsshoutedlustily.


OnlySirJocelyncurledthelockofhairuponhisfingerandwassilent.
TohimquothmylordDuke,smiling:
"Messire,anyoubeinamindtowagernow,Iwilllayyouthismyroanstallion
'gainstthatsuitoftriplemailyouwonatDunismerejoust,thatGefroibreaksthy
forester'sbackwithintwofalls—howsayyou?"
"Sweetmylord,itlikethmebeyondtelling,thyroanisapeerlessbeast!"sighed
SirJocelyn,andsofelloncemoretohumminghissongbeneathhisbreath.
NowBeltanehadwrestledoftwithstrangersinthegreenwoodandhadlearned
manycunninganddesperateholds;moreover,hehadlearnedtobidehistime;
thus,thoughGefroi'sironmusclesyetpinnedhisarms,hewaited,calm-eyedbut
witheverynervea-quiver,forthatmomentwhenGefroi'sviciousgripshould
slacken.
Toandfrothewrestlersswayed,kneetokneeandbreasttobreast,fierceand
silentandgrim.Ashathbeensaid,thisGefroiwasaverycunningfellow,and
onceandtwice,heputforthallhisstrengthseekingtouseacertaincrueltrick
wherebymanyagoodlymanhaddiederenow;butonce,andtwice,thehold
wasfoiled,yetfeeblyandasthoughbychance,andGefroiwondered;athird
timeheessayedittherefore,but,inthatmoment,suddenandfierceandstrong,
Beltanetwistedinhisloosenedgrasp,foundatlastthedeadlyholdhesought,
andGefroiwonderednomore,forabouthimwasapainfulgripthatgrewever
tighterandmorerelentless.NowGefroi'sbreathgrewshortandlaboured,the
musclesstoodoutonhiswrithingbodyinknottedcords,buteverthatcruelgrip
grewmoredeadly,crushinghisspiritandrobbinghimofhiswontedstrength.
Andthoseaboutthemwatchedthatmightystruggle,hushedforwonderofit;
evenSirJocelynhadforgothislockofhair,andhummednomore.
For,desperatelythoughhefoughtandstruggled,theysawGefroi'sgreatbody
wasbendingslowlybackward;hiseyesstaredup,wildandbloodshot,intothe
fierce,setfaceabovehim;swayingnow,hesawthewideringoffaces,the
quiverofleavesandthebluebeyond,alla-swimthroughthemistofBeltane's
yellowhair,andthen,writhinginhisanguish,heturnedandburiedhisteethin
Beltane'snakedarm,andwithacunningtwist,brokefromthatdeadlygripand
staggeredfree.
Straightwaytheairwasfullofshoutsandcries,somepraising,some


condemning,whileGefroistoodwithhangingarmsandpanted.ButBeltane
lookinguponhishurt,laughed,shortandfierce,andasGefroicameuponhim,
stoopedandcaughthimbelowtheloins.ThenBeltanethestrong,themighty,put
forthhisstrengthand,whirlingGefroialoft,hurledhimbackwardsoverhis
shoulder.SoGefroithewrestlerfell,andlaywithhairyarmswide-tossedasone
thatisdead,andforaspacenomanspakeforthewonderofit.
"ByalltheSaints,but'twasamightythrow!"sighedSirJocelyn,"thoughalack!
sweetmylord,'twouldalmostseemmyforesterhathsomethingspoiledthy
wrestler!"
"Andistheroanstallionthine"frownedtheDuke,"andtononewouldIlosehim
withafairergrace,for'twasagoodboutasIforetold:yet,bytheheadofSt.
Martin!meseemethyoncarrionmighthavedonemebetter!"Sosaying,mylord
Dukegavehishorsethespurand,ashepassedtheprostrateformofGefroi,
leanedhimdownandsmotethewrestlerthricewiththewhipheheldandsorode
on,biddinghisfollowerslethimlie.
ButSirJocelynpausedtolookdownatBeltane,whowassettinghisdressin
order.
"Sirforester,thouhastamightyarm,"quothhe,"andthyfacelikethmewell.
Here'sforthee,"andtossingapursetoBeltane'sfeet,herodeuponhisway.
Sothegaycavalcadepassed'neaththeleafyarches,withthejingleofbridleand
stirrupandthesoundofjestandlaughter,andwaspresentlylostamidthegreen;
onlyGefroithewrestlerlaythereuponhisbackandgroaned.ThencameBeltane
andkneltandtookhisheavyheaduponhisknee,whereatGefroiopenedhis
eyesandgroanedagain.
"Goodfellow,"saidBeltane,"Ihadnotmeanttothrowtheesoheavily—"
"Nay,forester,wouldithadbeenalittleharder,foraruinedmanam
Ithisday."
"Howso—haveyounotlife?"
"Iwould'tweredeath.AndIbityou—inthearm,Imindme?"
"Aye,'twasinthearm."


"ForthatamIheartilysorry,forester.Butwhenamanseethfameandfortune
slippingfromhim—aye,andhishonour,Ihadnighforgotthat—fameand
fortuneandhonour,sosmallathingasabitemaybeforgiven?"
"Iforgivethee—fullandfreely."
"Spokelikeanhonestforester,"saidGefroi,andgroanedagain."Thefavourofa
lordisaslipperything—muchlikeaneel—quicktowriggleaway.Anhour
agonemylordDukeheldmeinmuchesteem,whilenow?Andhestruckme!On
theface,here!"SlowlyGefroigothimuponhisfeet,andhavingdonnedcapand
pourpoint,shookhisheadandsighed;quothhe:
"Alack!'tisaruinedmanamIthisday!WouldIhadbrokenthyneck,orthou,
mine—andso,Goddentoye,forester!"ThenGefroithewrestlerturnedand
ploddedonhisway,walkingslowandwithdroopingheadasonewhoknoweth
notwhitherhegoes,orcareth.Now,ashewatched,Beltanebethoughthimof
thepurseandtakingitup,ranafterGefroiandthrustitintohishand.
"'Twillhelptheetofindanewservice,mayhap."SosayingmyBeltaneturned
uponhisheelandstrodeaway,whileGefroistoodstaringwide-eyedlongafter
Beltanewasvanishedamidthetrees.
SothusitwasthatBeltanelookedhisfirstuponDukeIvoofPentavalon,and
thusdidheoverthrowGefroithefamouswrestler.Andbecauseofthis,many
werethey,knightsandnoblesandesquires,whosoughtoutBeltane'slonelyhut
besidethebrook,withoffersofservice,ortotryafallwithhim.Butattheir
offersBeltanelaughedandshookhishead,andallwhocametowrestlehethrew
upontheirbacks.AndthusmyBeltanedweltwithinthegreenwood,waxing
mightierdaybyday.

CHAPTERIII
HOWLOVECAMETOBELTANEINTHEGREENWOOD

UponadayBeltanestoodathisforgefashioninganaxe-head.And,having
tempereditthereafterinthebrook,helaiditby,andstraighteninghisback,
strodeforthintothegladeallignorantoftheeyesthatwatchedhimcuriously


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