companions, with whom I can with pleasure exchange courtesies, but rather as one with whom I stand upon terms of mortal defiance.
My master, answered Baldwin, knows how to requite scorn with scorn, and blows with blows, as well as courtesy with courtesy. Since you disdain to accept from him any share of the ransom at which you have rated the arms of the other knights, I must leave his armour and his horse here, being well assured that he will never deign to mount the one or wear the other.
You have spoken well, good squire, said the Disinherited Knight, well and boldly, as it beseemeth him to speak who answers for an absent master. Leave not, however, the horse and armour here. Restore them to thy master; or, if he scorns to accept them, retain them, good friend, for thine own use. So far as they are mine, I bestow them upon you freely.
Baldwin made a deep obeisance, and retired with his companions; and the Disinherited Knight entered the pavilion.
Thus far, Gurth, said he, addressing his attendant, the reputation of English chivalry hath not suffered in my hands.
And I, said Gurth, for a Saxon swineherd, have not ill played the personage of a Norman squire-at- arms.
Yea, but, answered the Disinherited Knight, thou hast ever kept me in anxiety lest thy clownish bearing should discover thee.
Tush! said Gurth, I fear discovery from none, saving my playfellow, Wamba the Jester, of whom I could never discover whether he were most knave or fool. Yet I could scarce choose but laugh, when my old master passed so near to me, dreaming all the while that Gurth was keeping his porkers many a mile off in the thickets and swamps of Rotherwood. If I am discovered
Enough, said the Disinherited Knight, thou knowest my promise.
Nay, for that matter, said Gurth, I will never fail my friend for fear of my skin-cutting. I have a tough hide, that will bear knife or scourge as well as any boars hide in my herd.
Trust me, I will require the risk you run for my love, Gurth, said the Knight. Meanwhile, I pray you to accept these ten pieces of gold.
I am richer, said Gurth, putting them into his pouch, than ever was swineherd or bondsman.
Take this bag of gold to Ashby, continued his master, and find out Isaac the Jew of York, and let him pay himself for the horse and arms with which his credit supplied me.
Nay, by St. Dunstan, replied Gurth, that I will not do.
How, knave, replied his master, wilt thou not obey my commands?
So they be honest, reasonable, and Christian commands, replied Gurth; but this is none of these. To suffer the Jew to pay himself would be dishonest, for it would be cheating my master; and unreasonable, for it were the part of a fool; and unchristian, since it would be plundering a believer to enrich an infidel.
See him contented, however, thou stubborn varlet, said the Disinherited Knight.
I will do so, said Gurth, taking the bag under his cloak, and leaving the apartment; and it will go hard, he muttered, but I content him with one-half of his own asking. So saying, he departed, and left the
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