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 After the first excitement of meeting, discussing, and deciding had passed, Myles began to feel the weight of the load he had so boldly taken upon himself. He began to reckon what a serious thing it was for him to stand as a single champion against the tyranny that had grown so strong through years of custom. Had he let himself do so, he might almost have repented, but it was too late now for repentance. He had laid his hand to the plough, and he must drive the furrow.  
Somehow the news of impending battle had leaked out among the rest of the body of squires, and a buzz of suppressed excitement hummed through the dormitory that evening. The bachelors, to whom, no doubt, vague rumors had been blown, looked lowering, and talked together in low voices, standing apart in a group. Some of them made a rather marked show of secreting knives in the straw of their beds, and no doubt it had its effect upon more than one young heart that secretly thrilled at the sight of the shining blades. However, all was undisturbed that evening. The lights were put out, and the lads retired with more than usual quietness, only for the murmur of whispering.
All night Myles's sleep was more or less disturbed by dreams in which he was now conquering, now being conquered, and before the day had fairly broken he was awake. He lay upon his cot, keying himself up for the encounter which he had set upon himself to face, and it would not be the truth to say that the sight of those knives hidden in the straw the night before had made no impression upon him. By-and-by he knew the others were beginning to awake, for he heard them softly stirring, and as the light grew broad and strong, saw them arise, one by one, and begin dressing in the gray morning. Then he himself arose and put on his doublet and hose, strapping his belt tightly about his waist; then he sat down on the side of his cot.
Presently that happened for which he was waiting; two of the younger squires started to bring the bachelors' morning supply of water. As they crossed the room Myles called to them in a loud voice—a little uneven, perhaps: “Stop! We draw no more water for any one in this house, saving only for ourselves. Set ye down those buckets, and go back to your places!”
The two lads stopped, half turned, and then stood still, holding the three buckets undecidedly.
In a moment all was uproar and confusion, for by this time every one of the lads had arisen, some sitting on the edge of their beds, some nearly, others quite dressed. A half-dozen of the Knights of the Rose came over to where Myles stood, gathering in a body behind him and the others followed, one after another.
The bachelors were hardly prepared for such prompt and vigorous action.
“What is to do?” cried one of them, who stood near the two lads with the buckets. “Why fetch ye not the water?”
“Falworth says we shall not fetch it,” answered one of the lads, a boy by the name of Gosse.
“What mean ye by that, Falworth?” the young man called to Myles.
Myles's heart was beating thickly and heavily within him, but nevertheless he spoke up boldly enough. “I mean,” said he, “that from henceforth ye shall fetch and carry for yourselves.”
“Look'ee, Blunt,” called the bachelor; “here is Falworth says they squires will fetch no more water for us.”
The head bachelor had heard all that had passed, and was even then hastily slipping on his doublet and hose. “Now, then, Falworth,” said he at last, striding forward, “what is to do? Ye will fetch no more water, eh? By 'r Lady, I will know the reason why.”
He was still advancing towards Myles, with two or three of the older bachelors at his heels, when Gascoyne spoke.
“Thou hadst best stand back, Blunt,” said he, “else thou mayst be hurt. We will not have ye bang Falworth again as ye once did, so stand thou back!”
Blunt stopped short and looked upon the lads standing behind Myles, some of them with faces a trifle pale perhaps, but all grim and determined looking enough. Then he turned upon his heel suddenly, and walked back to the far end of the dormitory, where the bachelors were presently clustered together. A few words passed between them, and then the thirteen began at once arming themselves, some with wooden clogs, and some with the knives which they had so openly concealed the night before. At the sign of imminent battle, all those not actively interested scuttled away to right and left, climbing up on the benches and cots, and leaving a free field to the combatants. The next moment would have brought bloodshed.
Now Myles, thanks to the training of the Crosbey-Dale smith, felt tolerably sure that in a wrestling bout he was a match—perhaps more than a match—for any one of the body of squires, and he had determined, if possible, to bring the battle to a single-handed encounter upon that footing. Accordingly he suddenly stepped forward before the others.
“Look'ee, fellow,” he called to Blunt, “thou art he who struck me whilst I was down some while since. Wilt thou let this quarrel stand between thee and me, and meet me man to man without weapon? See, I throw me down mine own, and will meet thee with bare hands.” And as he spoke, he tossed the clog he held in his hand back upon the cot.
“So be it,” said Blunt, with great readiness, tossing down a similar weapon which he himself held.
“Do not go, Myles,” cried Gascoyne, “he is a villain and a traitor, and would betray thee to thy death. I saw him ............
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