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 THE TWO friends kept the secret of the Eyry to themselves for a little while, now and then visiting the old tower to rummage among the lumber stored in the lower room, or to loiter away the afternoon in the windy solitudes of the upper heights. And in that little time, when the ancient keep was to them a small world unknown to any but themselves—a world far away above all the dull matters of every-day life—they talked of many things that might else never have been known to one another. Mostly they spoke the crude romantic thoughts and desires of boyhood's time—chaff thrown to the wind, in which, however, lay a few stray seeds, fated to fall to good earth, and to ripen to fruition in manhood's day.  
In the intimate talks of that time Myles imparted something of his honest solidity to Gascoyne's somewhat weathercock nature, and to Myles's ruder and more uncouth character Gascoyne lent a tone of his gentler manners, learned in his pagehood service as attendant upon the Countess and her ladies.
In other things, also, the character and experience of the one lad helped to supply what was lacking in the other. Myles was replete with old Latin gestes, fables, and sermons picked up during his school life, in those intervals of his more serious studies when Prior Edward had permitted him to browse in the greener pastures of the Gesta Romanorum and the Disciplina Clericalis of the monastery library, and Gascoyne was never weary of hearing him tell those marvellous stories culled from the crabbed Latin of the old manuscript volumes.
Upon his part Gascoyne was full of the lore of the waiting-room and the antechamber, and Myles, who in all his life had never known a lady, young or old, excepting his mother, was never tired of lying silently listening to Gascoyne's chatter of the gay doings of the castle gentle-life, in which he had taken part so often in the merry days of his pagehood.
“I do wonder,” said Myles, quaintly, “that thou couldst ever find the courage to bespeak a young maid, Francis. Never did I do so, nor ever could. Rather would I face three strong men than one young damsel.”
Whereupon Gascoyne burst out laughing. “Marry!” quoth he, “they be no such terrible things, but gentle and pleasant spoken, and soft and smooth as any cat.”
“No matter for that,” said Myles; “I would not face one such for worlds.”
It was during the short time when, so to speak, the two owned the solitude of the Brutus Tower, that Myles told his friend of his father's outlawry and of the peril in which the family stood. And thus it was.
“I do marvel,” said Gascoyne one day, as the two lay stretched in the Eyry, looking down into the castle court-yard below—“I do marvel, now that thou art 'stablished here this month and more, that my Lord doth never have thee called to service upon household duty. Canst thou riddle me why it is so, Myles?”
The subject was a very sore one with Myles. Until Sir James had told him of the matter in his office that day he had never known that his father was attainted and outlawed. He had accepted the change from their earlier state and the bald poverty of their life at Crosbey-Holt with the easy carelessness of boyhood, and Sir James's words were the first to awaken him to a realization of the misfortunes of the house of Falworth. His was a brooding nature, and in the three or four weeks that passed he had meditated so much over what had been told him, that by-and-by it almost seemed as if a shadow of shame rested upon his father's fair fame, even though the attaint set upon him was unrighteous and unjust, as Myles knew it must be. He had felt angry and resentful at the Earl's neglect, and as days passed and he was not noticed in any way, his heart was at times very bitter.
So now Gascoyne's innocent question touched a sore spot, and Myles spoke with a sharp, angry pain in his voice that made the other look quickly up. “Sooner would my Lord have yonder swineherd serve him in the household than me,” said he.
“Why may that be, Myles?” said Gascoyne.
“Because,” answered Myles, with the same angry bitterness in his voice, “either the Earl is a coward that feareth to befriend me, or else he is a caitiff, ashamed of his own flesh and blood, and of me, the son of his one-time comrade.”
Gascoyne raised himself upon his elbow, and opened his eyes wide in wonder. “Afeard of thee, Myles!” quoth he. “Why should he be afeared to befriend thee? Who art thou that the Earl should fear thee?”
Myles hesitated for a moment or two; wisdom bade him remain silent upon the dangerous topic, but his heart yearned for sympathy and companionship in his trouble. “I will tell thee,” said he, suddenly, and therewith poured out all of the story, so far as he knew it, to his listening, wondering friend, and his heart felt lighter to be thus eased of its burden. “And now,” said he, as he concluded, “is not this Earl a mean-hearted caitiff to leave me, the son of his one-time friend and kinsman, thus to stand or to fall alone among strangers and in a strange place without once stretching me a helping hand?” He waited, and Gascoyne knew that he expected an answer.
“I know not that he is a mean-hearted caitiff, Myles,” said he at last, hesitatingly. “The Earl hath many enemies, and I have heard that he hath stood more than once in peril, having been accused of dealings with the King's foes. He was cousin to the Earl of Kent, and I do remember hearing that he had a narrow escape at that time from ruin. There be more reasons than thou wottest of why he should not have dealings with thy father.”
“I had not thought,” said Myles, bitterly, after a little pause, “that thou wouldst stand up for him and against me in this quarrel, Gascoyne. Him will I never forgive so long as I may live, and I had thought that thou wouldst have stood by me.”
“So I do,” said Gascoyne, hastily, “and do love thee more than any one in all the world, Myles; but I had thought that it would make thee feel more easy, to think that the Earl was not against thee. And, indeed, from all thou has told me, I do soothly think that he and Sir James mean to befriend thee and hold thee privily in kind regard.”
“Then why doth he not stand forth like a man and befriend me and my father openly, even if it be to his own peril?” said Myles, reverting stubbornly to what he had first spoken.
Gascoyne did not answer, but lay for a long while in silence. “Knowest thou,” he suddenly asked, after a while, “who is this great enemy of whom Sir James speaketh, and who seeketh so to drive thy father to ruin?”
“Nay,” said Myles, “I know not, for my father hath never spoken of these things, and Sir James would not tell me. But this I know,” said he, suddenly, grinding his teeth together, “an I do not hunt him out some day and slay him like a dog—” He stopped abruptly, and Gascoyne, looking askance at him, saw that his eyes were full of tears, whereupon he turned his looks away again quickly, and fell to shooting pebbles out through the open window with hi............
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