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HOME > Classical Novels > Men of Iron > CHAPTER 8
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 Every one knows the disagreeable, lurking discomfort that follows a quarrel—a discomfort that imbitters the very taste of life for the time being. Such was the dull distaste that Myles felt that morning after what had passed in the dormitory. Every one in the proximity of such an open quarrel feels a reflected constraint, and in Myles's mind was a disagreeable doubt whether that constraint meant disapproval of him or of his late enemies.  
It seemed to him that Gascoyne added the last bitter twang to his unpleasant feelings when, half an hour later, they marched with the others to chapel.
“Why dost thou breed such trouble for thyself, Myles?” said he, recurring to what he had already said. “Is it not foolish for thee to come hither to this place, and then not submit to the ways thereof, as the rest of us do?”
“Thou talkest not like a true friend to chide me thus,” said Myles, sullenly; and he withdrew his arm from his friend's.
“Marry, come up!” said Gascoyne; “an I were not thy friend, I would let thee jog thine own way. It aches not my bones to have thine drubbed.”
Just then they entered the chapel, and words that might have led to a quarrel were brought to a close.
Myles was not slow to see that he had the ill will of the head of their company. That morning in the armory he had occasion to ask some question of Blunt; the head squire stared coldly at him for a moment, gave him a short, gruff answer, and then, turning his back abruptly, began talking with one of the other bachelors. Myles flushed hot at the other's insulting manner, and looked quickly around to see if any of the others had observed what had passed. It was a comfort to him to see that all were too busy arming themselves to think of anything else; nevertheless, his face was very lowering as he turned away.
“Some day I will show him that I am as good a man as he,” he muttered to himself. “An evil-hearted dog to put shame upon me!”
The storm was brewing and ready to break.
That day was exceptionally hot and close, and permission had been asked by and granted to those squires not on duty to go down to the river for a bath after exercise at the pels. But as Myles replaced his arms in the rack, a little page came with a bidding to come to Sir James in his office.
“Look now,” said Myles, “here is just my ill-fortune. Why might he not have waited an hour longer rather than cause me to miss going with ye?”
“Nay,” said Gascoyne, “let not that grieve thee, Myles. Wilkes and I will wait for thee in the dormitory—will we not, Edmund? Make thou haste and go to Sir James.”
Sir James was sitting at the table studying over a scroll of parchment, when Myles entered his office and stood before him at the table.
“Well, boy,” said he, laying aside the parchment and looking up at the lad, “I have tried thee fairly for these few days, and may say that I have found thee worthy to be entered upon the rolls as esquire of the body.”
“I give thee thanks, sir,” said Myles.
The knight nodded his head in acknowledgement, but did not at once give the word of dismissal that Myles had expected. “Dost mean to write thee a letter home soon?” said he, suddenly.
“Aye,” said Myles, gaping in great wonderment at the strangeness of the question.
“Then when thou dost so write,” said Sir James, “give thou my deep regards to thy father.” Then he continued, after a brief pause. “Him did I know well in times gone by, and we were right true friends in hearty love, and for his sake I would befriend thee—that is, in so much as is fitting.”
“Sir,” said Myles; but Sir James held up his hand, and he stopped short in his thanks.
“But, boy,” said he, “that which I sent for thee for to tell thee was of more import than these. Dost thou know that thy father is an attainted outlaw?”
“Nay,” cried Myles, his cheeks blazing up as red as fire; “who sayeth that of him lieth in his teeth.”
“Thou dost mistake me,” said Sir James, quietly. “It is sometimes no shame to be outlawed and banned. Had it been so, I would not have told thee thereof, nor have bidden thee send my true love to thy father, as I did but now. But, boy, certes he standest continually in great danger—greater than thou wottest of. Were it known where he lieth hid, it might be to his undoing and utter ruin. Methought that belike thou mightest not know that; and so I sent for thee for to tell thee that it behoovest thee to say not one single word concerning him to any of these new friends of thine, nor who he is, nor what he is.”
“But how came my father to be so banned?” said Myles, in a constrained and husky voice, and after a long time of silence.
“That I may not tell thee just now,” said the old knight, “only this—that I have been bidden to make it known to thee that thy father hath an enemy full as powerful as my Lord the Earl himself, and that through that enemy all his ill-fortune—his blindness and everything—hath come. Moreover, did this enemy know where thy father lieth, he would slay him right speedily.”
“Sir,” cried Myles, violently smiting his open palm upon the table, “tell me who this man is, and I will kill him!”
Sir James smiled grimly. “Thou talkest like a boy,” said he. “Wait until thou art grown to be a man. Mayhap then thou mayst repent thee of these bold words, for one time this enemy of thy father's was reckoned the foremost knight in England, and he is now the King's dear friend and a great lord.”
“But,” said Myles, after another long time of heavy silence, “will not my Lord then befriend me for the sake of my father, who was one time his dear comrade?”
Sir James shook his head. “It may not be,” said he. “Neither thou nor thy father must look for open favor from the Earl. An he befriended Falworth, and it came to be known that he had given him aid or succor, it might belike be to his own undoing. No, boy; thou must not even look to be taken into the household to serve with gentlemen as the other squires do serve, but must even live thine own life here and fight thine own way.”
Myles's eyes blazed. “Then,” cried he, fiercely, “it is shame and attaint upon my Lord the Earl, and cowardice as well, and never will I ask favor of him who is so untrue a friend as to turn his back upon a comrade in trouble as he turneth his back upon my father.”
“Thou art a foolish boy,” said Sir James with a bitter smile, “and knowest naught of the world. An thou wouldst look for man to befriend man to his own danger, thou must look elsewhere than on this earth. Was I not one time Mackworth's dear friend as well as thy father? It could cost him naught to honor me, and here am I fallen to be a teacher of boys. Go to! thou art a fool.”
Then, after a little pause of brooding silence, he went on to say that the Earl was no better or worse than the rest of t............
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