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The Path of the King By John Buchan Characters: 31100

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07

Part 1

The little hut among the oak trees was dim in the October twilight on the evening of St. Callixtus' Day. It had been used by swineherds, for the earthen floor was puddled by the feet of generations of hogs, and in the corner lay piles of rotting acorns. Outside the mist had filled the forest, and the ways were muffled with fallen leaves, so that the four men who approached the place came as stealthily as shades.

They reconnoitred a moment at the entrance, for it was a country of war.

"Quarters for the night," said one, and put his shoulder to the door of oak-toppings hinged on strips of cowhide.

But he had not taken a step inside before he hastily withdrew.

"There is something there," he cried-"something that breathes. A light, Gil."

One of the four lit a lantern from his flint and poked it within. It revealed the foul floor and the rotting acorns, and in the far corner, on a bed of withered boughs, something dark which might be a man. They stood still and listened. There was the sound of painful breathing, and then the gasp with which a sick man wakens. A figure disengaged itself from the shadows. Seeing it was but one man, the four pushed inside, and the last pulled the door to behind him.

"What have we here?" the leader cried. A man had dragged himself to his feet, a short, square fellow who held himself erect with a grip on a side-post. His eyes were vacant, dazzled by the light and also by pain. He seemed to have had hard usage that day, for his shaggy locks were matted with blood from a sword-cut above his forehead, one arm hung limp, and his tunic was torn and gashed. He had no weapons but a knife which he held blade upwards in the hollow of his big hand.

The four who confronted him were as ill-looking a quartet as Duke William's motley host could show. One, the leader, was an unfrocked priest of Rouen; one was a hedge-robber from the western marches who had followed Alan of Brittany; a third had the olive cheeks and the long nose of the south; and the fourth was a heavy German from beyond the Rhine. They were the kites that batten on the offal of war, and the great battle on the seashore having been won by better men, were creeping into the conquered land for the firstfruits of its plunder.

"An English porker," cried the leader. "We will have the tusks off him." Indeed, in the wild light the wounded man, with his flat face and forked beard, had the look of a boar cornered by hounds.

"'Ware his teeth," said the one they called Gil. "He has a knife in his trotter."

The evil faces of the four were growing merry. They were worthless soldiers, but adepts in murder. Loot was their first thought, but after that furtive slaying. There seemed nothing to rob here, but there was weak flesh to make sport of.

Gil warily crept on one side, where he held his spear ready. The ex-priest, who had picked up somewhere a round English buckler, gave the orders. "I will run in on him, and take his stroke, so you be ready to close. There is nothing to be feared from the swine. See, he is blooded and faints."

The lantern had been set on the ground by the door and revealed only the lower limbs of the four. Their heads were murky in shadow. Their speech was foreign to the wounded man, but he saw their purpose. He was clearly foredone with pain, but his vacant eyes kindled to slow anger, and he shook back his hair so that the bleeding broke out again on his forehead. He was as silent as an old tusker at bay.

The ex-priest gave the word and the four closed in on him. He defeated their plan by hurling himself on the leader's shield, so that his weight bore him backwards and he could not use his weapon. The spears on the flanks failed for the same reason, and the two men posted there had well-nigh been the death of each other. The fourth, the one from the south, whose business it had been to support the priest, tripped and fell sprawling beside the lantern.

The Englishman had one arm round the priest's neck and was squeezing the breath out of him. But the blood of the four was kindling, and they had vengeance instead of sport to seek. Mouthing curses, the three of them went to the rescue of the leader, and a weaponless and sore-wounded man cannot strive with such odds. They overpowered him, bending his arms viciously back and kicking his broken head. Their oaths filled the hut with an ugly clamour, but no sound came from their victim.

Suddenly a gust of air set the lantern flickering, and a new-comer stood in the doorway. He picked up the light and looked down on the struggle. He was a tall, very lean man, smooth faced, and black haired, helmetless and shieldless, but wearing the plated hauberk of the soldier. There was no scabbard on his left side, but his right hand held a long bright sword.

For a second he lifted the light high, while he took in the scene. His eyes were dark and dancing, like the ripples on a peat stream. "So-ho!" he said softly. "Murder! And by our own vermin!"

He appeared to brood for a second, and then he acted. For he set the light very carefully in the crook of a joist so that it illumined the whole hut. Then he reached out a hand, plucked the ex-priest from his quarry, and, swinging him in both arms, tossed him through the door into the darkness. It would seem that he fell hard, for there was a groan and then silence.

"One less," he said softly.

The three had turned to face him, warned by Gil's exclamation, and found themselves looking at the ominous bar of light which was his sword. Cornered like rats, they took small comfort from the odds. They were ready to surrender, still readier to run, and they stood on their defence with no fight in their faces, whining in their several patois. All but the man from the south. He was creeping round in the darkness by the walls, and had in his hands a knife. No mailed hauberk protected the interloper's back and there was a space there for steel to quiver between his shoulder blades.

The newcomer did not see, but the eyes of the wounded man seemed to have been cleared by the scuffle. He was now free, and from the floor he snatched the round shield which the ex-priest had carried, and hurled it straight at the creeping miscreant. It was a heavy oaken thing with rim and boss of iron, and it caught him fairly above the ear, so that he dropped like a poled ox. The stranger turned his head to see what was happening. "A lucky shot, friend," he cried. "I thank you." And he addressed himself to the two pitiful bandits who remained.

But their eyes were looking beyond him to the door, and their jaws had dropped in terror. For from outside came the sound of horses' hooves and bridles, and two riders had dismounted and were peering into the hut. The first was a very mountain of a man, whose conical helmet surmounted a vast pale face, on which blond moustaches hung like the teeth of a walrus. The said helmet was grievously battered, and the nose-piece was awry as if from some fierce blow, but there was no scar on the skin. His long hauberk was wrought in scales of steel and silver, and the fillets which bound his great legs were of fine red leather. Behind him came a grizzled squire, bearing a kite-shaped shield painted with the cognisance of a dove.

"What have we here?" said the knight in a reedy voice like a boy's. His pale eyes contemplated the figures-the wounded man, now faint again with pain and half-fallen on the litter of branches; his deliverer, tall and grim, but with laughing face; the two murderers cringing in their fear; in a corner the huddled body of the man from the south half hidden by the shield. "Speak, fellow," and he addressed the soldier. "What work has been toward? Have you not had your bellyfull of battles that you must scrabble like rats in this hovel? What are you called, and whence come you?"

The soldier lifted his brow, looked his questioner full in the face, and, as if liking what he found there, bowed his head in respect. The huge man had the air of one to be obeyed.

"I am of the Duke's army," he said, "and was sent on to reconnoitre the forest roads I stumbled on this hut and found four men about to slay a wounded English. One lies outside where I flung him, another is there with a cracked skull, and you have before you the remnant."

The knight seemed to consider. "And why should a soldier of the Duke's be so careful of English lives?" he asked.

"I would help my lord Duke to conquer this land," was the answer. "We have broken their army and the way is straight before us. We shall have to fight other armies, but we cannot be fighting all our days, and we do not conquer England till England accepts us. I have heard enough of that stubborn people to know that the way to win them is not by murder. A fair fight, and then honest dealing and mercy, say I."

The knight laughed. "A Solomon in judgment," he cried. "But who are you that bear a sword and wear gold on your finger?"

The old squire broke in. "My lord Count, I know the man. He is a hunter of the Lord Odo's, and has a name for valour. He wrought mightily this morning on the hill. They call him Jehan the Hunter, and sometimes Jehan the Outborn, for no man knows his comings. There is a rumour that he is of high blood, and truly in battle he bears himself like a prince. The monks loved him not, but the Lord Odo favoured him."

The knight looked steadily for the space of a moment at the tall soldier, and his light eyes seemed to read deep. "Are you that man," he asked at last, and got the reply: "I am Jehan the Hunter."

"Bid my fellows attend to yon scum," he told his squire. "The camp marshal will have fruit for his gallows. The sweepings of all Europe have drifted with us to England, and it is our business to make bonfire of them before they breed a plague.... See to the wounded man, likewise. He may be one of the stout house-carles who fought with Harold at Stamford, and to meet us raced like a gale through the length of England. By the Mount of the Archangel, I would fain win such mettle to our cause."

Presently the hut was empty save for the two soldiers, who faced each other while the lantern flickered to its end on the rafters.

"The good Odo is dead," said the knight. "An arrow in the left eye has bereft our Duke of a noble ally and increased the blessedness of the City of Paradise. You are masterless now. Will you ride with me on my service, you Jehan the Hunter? It would appear that we are alike in our ways of thinking. They call me the Dove from the shield I bear, and a dove I seek to be in the winning of England. The hawk's task is over when the battle is won, and he who has but the sword for weapon is no hawk, but carrion-crow. We have to set our Duke on the throne, but that is but the first step. There are more battles before us, and when they are ended begins the slow task of the conquest of English hearts. How say you, Jehan? Will you ride north with me on this errand, and out of the lands which are granted me to govern have a corner on which to practise your creed?"

So it befell that Jehan the Hunter, sometimes called Jehan the Outborn, joined the company of Ivo of Dives, and followed him when Duke William swept northward laughing his gross jolly laughter and swearing terribly by the splendour of God.

Part 2

Two years later in the same month of the year Jehan rode east out of Ivo's new castle of Belvoir to visit the manor of which, by the grace of God and the King and the favour of the Count of Dives, he was now the lord. By the Dove's side he had been north to Durham and west to the Welsh marches, rather on falcon's than on dove's errands, for Ivo held that the crooning of peace notes came best after hard blows. But at his worst he was hawk and not crow, and malice did not follow his steps. The men he beat had a rude respect for one who was just and patient in victory, and whose laughter did not spare himself. Like master like man; and Jehan was presently so sealed of Ivo's brotherhood that in the tales of the time the two names were rarely separate. The jealous, swift to deprecate good fortune, spared the Outborn, for it was observed that he stood aside while others scrambled for gain. Also, though no man knew his birth, he bore himself with the pride of a king.

When Ivo's raw stone towers faded in the blue distance, the road led from shaggy uplands into a forested plain, with knolls at intervals which gave the traveller a prospect of sullen levels up to the fringe of the fens and the line of the sea. Six men-at-arms jolted at his back on little country-red horses, for Jehan did his tasks with few helpers; and they rode well in the rear, for he loved to be alone. The weather was all October gleams and glooms, now the sunshine of April, now the purple depths of a thunderstorm. There was no rain in the air, but an infinity of mist, which moved in fantastic shapes, rolling close about the cavalcade, so that the very road edge was obscured, now dissolving into clear light, now opening up corridors at the end of which some landmark appeared at an immeasurable distance. In that fantastic afternoon the solid earth seemed to be dissolving, and Jehan's thoughts as he journeyed ranged like the mists.

He told himself that he had discovered his country. He, the Outborn, had come home; the landless had found his settlement. He loved every acre of this strange England-its changing skies, the soft pastures in the valleys, the copses that clung like moss to the hills, the wide moorland that lay quiet as a grave from mountain to mountain. But this day something new had been joined to his affection. The air that met him from the east had that in it which stirred some antique memory. There was brine in it from the unruly eastern sea, and the sourness of marsh water, and the sweetness of marsh herbage. As the forest thinned into scrub again it came stronger and fresher, and he found himself sniffing it like a hungry man at the approach of food. "If my manor of Highstead is like this," he told himself, "I think I will lay my bones there."

At a turn of the road where two grassy tracks forked, he passed a graven stone now chipped and moss-grown, set on noble eminence among reddening thorns. It was an altar to the old gods of the land, there had been another such in the forest of his childhood. The priest had told him it was the shrine of the Lord Apollo and forbade him on the pain of a mighty cursing to do reverence to it. Nevertheless he had been wont to doff his cap when he passed it, for he respected a god that lived in the woods instead of a clammy church. Now the sight of the ancient thing seemed an omen. It linked up the past and the present. He waved a greeting to it. "Hail, old friend," he said. "Bid your master be with me, whoever he be, for I go to find a home."

One of his fellows rode up to his side. "We are within a mile of Highstead," he told him. "Better go warily, for the King's law runs limpingly in the fanlands. I counsel that a picket be sent forward to report if the way be clear. Every churl that we passed on the road will have sent news of our coming."

"So much the better," said Jehan. "Man, I come not as a thief in the night. This is a daylight business. If I am to live my days here I must make a fair conquest."

The man fell back sullenly, and there were anxious faces in the retinue jogging twenty yards behind. But no care sat on Jehan's brow. He plucked sprays of autumn berries and tossed and caught

them, he sang gently to himself and spoke his thoughts to his horse. Harm could not come to him when air and scene woke in his heart such strange familiarity.

A last turn of the road showed Highstead before him, two furlongs distant. The thatched roof of the hall rose out of a cluster of shingled huts on a mound defended by moat and palisade. No smoke came from the dwelling, and no man was visible, but not for nothing was Jehan named the Hunter. He was aware that every tuft of reed and scrog of wood concealed a spear or a bowman. So he set his head stiff and laughed, and hummed a bar of a song which the ferry-men used to sing on Seine side. "A man does not fight to win his home," he told his horse, "but only to defend it when he has won it. If God so wills I shall be welcomed with open gates: otherwise there will be burying ere nightfall."

In this fashion he rode steadfastly toward the silent burg. Now he was within a stone's throw of it, and no spear had been launched; now he was before the massive oaken gate. Suddenly it swung open and a man came out. He was a short, square fellow who limped, and, half hidden by his long hair, a great scar showed white on his forehead.

"In whose name?" he asked in the English tongue.

"In the name of our lord the King and the Earl Ivo."

"That is no passport," said the man.

"In my own name, then,-in the name of Jehan the Hunter."

The man took two steps forward and laid a hand on the off stirrup. Jehan leaped to the ground and kissed him on both cheeks.

"We have met before, friend," he said, and he took between his palms the joined hands of his new liege.

"Two years back on the night of Hastings," said the man. "But for that meeting, my lord, you had tasted twenty arrows betwixt Highstead and the forest."

Part 3

"I go to visit my neighbours," said Jehan next morning.

Arn the Steward stared at his master with a puzzled face. "You will get a dusty welcome," he said. "There is but the Lady Hilda at Galland, and her brother Aelward is still at odds with your Duke."

Nevertheless Jehan rode out in a clear dawn of St. Luke's summer, leaving a wondering man behind him, and he rode alone, having sent back his men-at-arms to Ivo. "He has the bold heart," said Arn to himself. "If there be many French like him there will assuredly be a new England."

At Galland, which is low down in the fen country, he found a sullen girl. She met him at the bridge of the Galland fen and her grey eyes flashed fire. She was a tall maid, very fair to look upon, and the blue tunic which she wore over her russet gown was cunningly embroidered. Embroidered too with gold was the hood which confined her plaited yellow hair.

"You find a defenceless house and a woman to conquer," she railed.

"Long may it need no other warder," said Jehan, dismounting and looking at her across the water.

"The fortune of war has given me a home, mistress. I would dwell in amity with my neighbours."

"Amity!" she cried in scorn. "You will get none from me. My brother Aelward will do the parleying."

"So be it," he said. "Be assured I will never cross this water into Galland till you bid me."

He turned and rode home, and for a month was busied with the work of his farms. When he came again it was on a dark day in November, and every runnel of the fens was swollen. He got the same answer from the girl, and with it a warning "Aelward and his men wait for you in the oakshaw," she told him. "I sent word to them when the thralls brought news of you." And her pretty face was hard and angry.

Jehan laughed. "Now, by your leave, mistress, I will wait here the hour or two till nightfall. I am Englishman enough to know that your folk do not strike in the dark."

He returned to Highstead unscathed, and a week later came a message from Aelward. "Meet me," it ran, "to-morrow by the Danes' barrow at noon, and we will know whether Englishman or Frenchman is to bear rule in this land."

Jehan donned his hauberk and girt himself with his long sword. "There will be hot work to-day in that forest," he told Arn, who was busied with the trussing of his mail.

"God prosper you, master," said the steward. "Frenchman or no, you are such a man as I love. Beware of Aelward and his downward stroke, for he has the strength of ten."

At noon by the Danes' barrow Jehan met a young tow-headed giant, who spoke with the back of his throat and made surly-response to the other's greeting. It was a blue winter's day, with rime still white on the grass, and the forest was very still. The Saxon had the shorter sword and a round buckler; Jehan fought only with his blade.

At the first bout they strove with steel, and were ill-matched at that, for the heavy strength of the fenman was futile against the lithe speed of the hunter. Jehan ringed him in circles of light, and the famous downward stroke was expended on vacant air. He played with him till he breathed heavily like a cow, and then by a sleight of hand sent his sword spinning among the oak mast. The young giant stood sulkily before him, unarmed, deeply shamed, waiting on his death, but with no fear in his eyes.

Jehan tossed his own blade to the ground, and stripped off his hauberk. "We have fought with weapons," he said, "now we will fight in the ancient way."

There followed a very different contest. Aelward lost his shamefastness and his slow blood fired as flesh met flesh and sinew strained against sinew. His great arms crushed the Frenchman till the ribs cracked, but always the other slipped through and evaded the fatal hug. And as the struggle continued Aelward's heart warmed to his enemy. When their swords crossed he had hated him like death; now he seemed to be striving with a kinsman.

Suddenly, when victory looked very near, he found the earth moving from beneath him, and a mountain descended on his skull. When he blinked himself into consciousness again, Jehan was laving his head from a pool in an oak-root.

"I will teach you that throw some day, friend," he was saying. "Had I not known the trick of it, you had mauled me sadly. I had liefer grapple with a bear."

Aelward moistened his lips. "You have beat me fairly, armed and weaponless," he said, and his voice had no anger in it.

"Talk not of beating between neighbours," was the answer. "We have played together and I have had the luck of it. It will be your turn to break my head to-morrow."

"Head matters little," grumbled Aelward. "Mine has stood harder dints. But you have broken my leg, and that means a month of housekeeping."

Jehan made splints of ash for the leg, and set him upon his horse, and in this wise they came to the bridge of Galland fen. On the far side of the water stood the Lady Hilda. He halted and waited on her bidding. She gazed speechless at the horse whereon sat her brother with a clouted scalp.

"What ails you, Frenchman?" said Aelward. "It is but a half-grown girl of my father's begetting."

"I have vowed not to pass that bridge till yonder lady bids me."

"Then for the pity of Christ bid him, sister. He and I are warm with play and yearn for a flagon."

In this manner did Jehan first enter the house of Galland, whence in the next cowslip-time he carried a bride to Highstead.

The months passed smoothly in the house on the knoll above the fat fen pastures. Jehan forsook his woodcraft for the work of byre and furrow and sheepfold, and the yield of his lands grew under his wardenship. He brought heavy French cattle to improve the little native breed, and made a garden of fruit trees where once had been only bent and sedge. The thralls wrought cheerfully for him, for he was a kindly master, and the freemen of the manor had no complaint against one who did impartial justice and respected their slow and ancient ways. As for skill in hunting, there was no fellow to the lord of Highstead between Trent and Thames.

Inside the homestead the Lady Hilda moved happily, a wife smiling and well content. She had won more than a husband; it seemed she had made a convert; for daily Jehan grew into the country-side as if he had been born in it. Something in the soft woodland air and the sharper tang of the fens and the sea awoke response from his innermost soul. An aching affection was born in him for every acre of his little heritage. His son, dark like his father, who made his first diffident pilgrimages in the sunny close where the pigeons cooed, was not more thirled to English soil.

They were quiet years in that remote place, for Aelward over at Galland had made his peace with the King. But when the little Jehan was four years old the tides of war lapped again to the forest edges. One Hugo of Auchy, who had had a usurer to his father and had risen in an iron age by a merciless greed, came a-foraying from the north to see how he might add to his fortunes. Men called him the Crane, for he was tall and lean and parchment-skinned, and to his banner resorted all malcontents and broken men. He sought to conduct a second Conquest, making war on the English who still held their lands, but sparing the French manors. The King's justice was slow-footed, and the King was far away, so the threatened men, banded together to hold their own by their own might.

Aelward brought the news from Galland that the Crane had entered their borders. The good Ivo was overseas, busy on the Brittany marches, and there was no ruler in Fenland.

"You he will spare," Aelward told his sister's husband. "He does not war with you new-comers. But us of the old stock he claims as his prey. How say you, Frenchman? Will you reason with him? Hereaways we are peaceful folk, and would fain get on with our harvest."

"I will reason with him," said Jehan, "and by the only logic that such carrion understands. I am by your side, brother. There is but the one cause for all us countrymen."

But that afternoon as he walked abroad in his cornlands he saw a portent. A heron rose out of the shallows, and a harrier-hawk swooped to the pounce, but the long bird flopped securely into the western sky, and the hawk dropped at his feet, dead but with no mark of a wound.

"Here be marvels," said Jehan, and with that there came on him the foreknowledge of fate, which in the brave heart wakes awe, but no fear. He stood silent for a time and gazed over his homelands. The bere was shaking white and gold in the light evening wind; in the new orchard he had planted the apples were reddening; from the edge of the forest land rose wreaths of smoke where the thralls were busy with wood-clearing. There was little sound in the air, but from the steading came the happy laughter of a child. Jehan stood very still, and his wistful eyes drank the peace of it.

"Non nobis, Domine," he said, for a priest had once had the training of him. "But I leave that which shall not die."

He summoned his wife and told her of the coming of the Crane. From a finger of his left hand he took the thick ring of gold which Ivo had marked years before in the Wealden hut.

"I have a notion that I am going a long journey," he told her. "If I do not return, the Lord Ivo will confirm the little lad in these lands of ours. But to you and for his sake I make my own bequest. Wear this ring for him till he is a man, and then bid him wear it as his father's guerdon. I had it from my father, who had it from his, and my grandfather told me the tale of it. In his grandsire's day it was a mighty armlet, but in the famine years it was melted and part sold, and only this remains. Some one of us far back was a king, and this is the badge of a king's house. There comes a day, little one, when the fruit of our bodies shall possess a throne. See that the lad be royal in thought and deed, as he is royal in blood."

Next morning he kissed his wife and fondled his little son, and with his men rode northward, his eyes wistful but his mouth smiling.

What followed was for generations a tale among humble folk in England, who knew nothing of the deeds of the King's armies. By cottage fires they wove stories about it and made simple songs, the echo of which may still be traced by curious scholars. There is something of it in the great saga of Robin Hood, and long after the fens were drained women hushed their babies with snatches about the Crane and the Falcon, and fairy tales of a certain John of the Shaws, who became one with Jack the Giant-killer and all the nursery heroes.

Jehan and his band met Aelward at the appointed rendezvous, and soon were joined by a dozen knots of lusty yeomen, who fought not only for themselves but for the law of England and the peace of the new king. Of the little force Jehan was appointed leader, and once again became the Hunter, stalking a baser quarry than wolf or boar. For the Crane and his rabble, flushed with easy conquest, kept ill watch, and the tongues of forest running down to the fenland made a good hunting ground for a wary forester.

Jehan's pickets found Hugo of Auchy by the Sheen brook and brought back tidings. Thereupon a subtle plan was made. By day and night the invaders' camp was kept uneasy; there would be sudden attacks, which died down after a few blows; stragglers disappeared, scouts never returned; and when a peasant was brought in and forced to speak, he told with scared face a tale of the great mustering of desperate men in this or that quarter. The Crane was a hardy fighter, but the mystery baffled him, and he became cautious, and-after the fashion of his kind credulous. Bit by bit Jehan shepherded him into the trap he had prepared. He had but one man to the enemy's six, and must drain that enemy's strength before he struck. Meantime the little steadings went up in flames, but with every blaze seen in the autumn dusk the English temper grew more stubborn. They waited confidently on the reckoning.

It came on a bleak morning when the east wind blew rain and fog from the sea. The Crane was in a spit of open woodland, with before him and on either side deep fenland with paths known only to its dwellers. Then Jehan struck. He drove his enemy to the point of the dry ground, and thrust him into the marshes. Not since the time of the Danes had the land known such a slaying. The refuse of France and the traitor English who had joined them went down like sheep before wolves. When the Lord Ivo arrived in the late afternoon, having ridden hot-speed from the south coast when he got the tidings, he found little left of the marauders save the dead on the land and the scum of red on the fen pools.

Jehan lay by a clump of hazels, the blood welling from an axe-wound in the neck. His face was ashen with the oncoming of death, but he smiled as he looked up at his lord.

"The Crane pecked me," he said. "He had a stout bill, if a black heart."

Ivo wept aloud, being pitiful as he was brave. He would have scoured the country for a priest.

"Farewell, old comrade," he sobbed. "Give greeting to Odo in Paradise, and keep a place for me by your side. I will nourish your son, as if he had been that one of my own whom Heaven has denied me. Tarry a little, dear heart, and the Priest of Glede will be here to shrive you."

Through the thicket there crawled a mighty figure, his yellow hair dabbled in blood, and his breath labouring like wind in a threshing-floor. He lay down by Jehan's side, and with a last effort kissed him on the lips.

"Priest!" cried the dying Aelward. "What need is there of priest to help us two English on our way to God?"

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