“And all ’prentice-boys too,” cried Amyas, out of the pasty.

“And all ’prentice-boys. The bold lads shall fight first, with good quarterstaves, in Bideford Market, till all heads are broken; and the head which is not broken, let the back belonging to it pay the penalty of the noble member’s cowardice. After which grand tournament, to which that of Tottenham shall be but a flea-bite and a batrachomyomachy—”

“Confound you, and your long words, sir,” said poor Will, “I know you are flouting me.”

“Pazienza, Signor Cavaliere; that which is to come is no flouting, but bloody and warlike earnest. For afterwards all the young gentlemen shall adjourn into a convenient field, sand, or bog— which last will be better, as no man will be able to run away, if he be up to his knees in soft peat: and there stripping to our shirts, with rapiers of equal length and keenest temper, each shall slay his man, catch who catch can, and the conquerors fight again, like a most valiant main of gamecocks as we are, till all be dead, and out of their woes; after which the survivor, bewailing before heaven and earth the cruelty of our Fair Oriana, and the slaughter which her basiliscine eyes have caused, shall fall gracefully upon his sword, and so end the woes of this our lovelorn generation. Placetne Domini? as they used to ask in the Senate at Oxford.”

“Really,” said Cary, “this is too bad.”

“So is, pardon me, your fighting Mr. Coffin with anything longer than a bodkin.”

“Bodkins are too short for such fierce Bobadils,” said Amyas; “they would close in so near, that we should have them falling to fisticuffs after the first bout.”

“Then let them fight with squirts across the market-place; for by heaven and the queen’s laws, they shall fight with nothing else.”

“My dear Mr. Cary,” went on Frank, suddenly changing his bantering tone to one of the most winning sweetness, “do not fancy that I cannot feel for you, or that I, as well as you, have not known the stings of love and the bitterer stings of jealousy. But oh, Mr. Cary, does it not seem to you an awful thing to waste selfishly upon your own quarrel that divine wrath which, as Plato says, is the very root of all virtues, and which has been given you, like all else which you have, that you may spend it in the service of her whom all bad souls fear, and all virtuous souls adore,—our peerless queen? Who dares, while she rules England, call his sword or his courage his own, or any one’s but hers? Are there no Spaniards to conquer, no wild Irish to deliver from their oppressors, that two gentlemen of Devon can find no better place to flesh their blades than in each other’s valiant and honorable hearts?”

“By heaven!” cried Amyas, “Frank speaks like a book; and for me, I do think that Christian gentlemen may leave love quarrels to bulls and rams.”

“And that the heir of Clovelly,” said Frank, smiling, “may find more noble examples to copy than the stags in his own deer-park.”

“Well,” said Will, penitently, “you are a great scholar, Mr. Frank, and you speak like one; but gentlemen must fight sometimes, or where would be their honor?”

“I speak,” said Frank, a little proudly, “not merely as a scholar, but as a gentleman, and one who has fought ere now, and to whom it has happened, Mr. Cary, to kill his man (on whose soul may God have mercy); but it is my pride to remember that I have never yet fought in my own quarrel, and my trust in God that I never shall. For as there is nothing more noble and blessed than to fight in behalf of those whom we love, so to fight in our own private behalf is a thing not to be allowed to a Christian man, unless refusal imports utter loss of life or honor; and even then, it may be (though I would not lay a burden on any man’s conscience), it is better not to resist evil, but to overcome it with good.”

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