by a sufficient force. I should, therefore, ere now, have left this place; and I waited not to share the booty, for, so help me God and St. Withold! as neither I nor any of mine will touch the value of a liardI waited but to render my thanks to thee and to thy bold yeomen, for the life and honour ye have saved.
Nay, but, said the chief Outlaw, we did but half the work at mosttake of the spoil what may reward your own neighbours and followers.
I am rich enough to reward them from mine own wealth, answered Cedric.
And some, said Wamba, have been wise enough to reward themselves; they do not march off empty- handed altogether. We do not all wear motley.
They are welcome, said Locksley; our laws bind none but ourselves.
But thou, my poor knave, said Cedric, turning about and embracing his jester, how shall I reward thee, who feared not to give thy body to chains and death instead of mine?All forsook me, when the poor fool was faithful!
A tear stood in the eye of the rough thane as he spokea mark of feeling which even the death of Athelstane had not extracted; but there was something in the half-instinctive attachment of his clown, that waked his nature more keenly than even grief itself.
Nay, said the Jester, extricating himself from his masters caress, if you pay my service with the water of your eye, the jester must weep for company, and then what becomes of his vocation?But, uncle, if you would indeed pleasure me, I pray you to pardon my playfellow Gurth, who stole a week from your service to bestow it on your son.
Pardon him! exclaimed Cedric; I will both pardon and reward him.Kneel down, Gurth.The swineherd was in an instant at his masters feet.Theow and Esne1 art thou no longer, said Cedric, touching him with a wand; Folkfree and Sacless2 art thou in town and from town, in the forest as in the field. A hide of land I give to thee in my steads of Walbrugham, from me and mine to thee and thine aye and for ever; and Gods malison on his head who this gainsays!
No longer a serf, but a freeman and a landholder, Gurth sprung upon his feet, and twice bounded aloft to almost his own height from the ground.
A smith and a file, he cried, to do away the collar from the neck of a freeman!Noble master! doubled is my strength by your gift, and doubly will I fight for you! There is a free spirit in my breastI am a man changed to myself and all around.Ha, Fangs! he continued for that faithful cur, seeing his master thus transported, began to jump upon him, to express his sympathy knowest thou thy master still?
Ay, said Wamba, Fangs and I still know thee, Gurth, though we must needs abide by the collar; it is only thou art likely to forget both us and thyself.
I shall forget myself indeed ere I forget thee, true comrade, said Gurth; and were freedom fit for thee, Wamba, the master would not let thee want it.
Nay, said Wamba, never think I envy thee, brother Gurth; the serf sits by the hall-fire when the freeman must forth to the field of battle.And what saith Oldhelm of MalmsburyBetter a fool at a feast than a wise man at a fray.
The tramp of horses was now heard, and the Lady Rowena appeared, surrounded by several riders, and a much stronger party of footmen, who joyfully shook their pikes and clashed their brown-bills for joy of her freedom. She herself, richly attired, and mounted on a dark chest-nut palfrey, had recovered all the dignity of her manner, and only an unwonted degree of paleness showed the sufferings she had
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