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 So for a little while Myles was disposed to congratulate himself upon having come off so well from his adventure with the Earl. But after a day or two had passed, and he had time for second thought, he began to misdoubt whether, after all, he might not have carried it with a better air if he had shown more chivalrous boldness in the presence of his true lady; whether it would not have redounded more to his credit if he had in some way asserted his rights as the young dame's knight-errant and defender. Was it not ignominious to resign his rights and privileges so easily and tamely at a signal from the Earl?  
“For, in sooth,” said he to Gascoyne, as the two talked the matter over, “she hath, in a certain way, accepted me for her knight, and yet I stood me there without saying so much as one single word in her behalf.”
“Nay,” said Gascoyne, “I would not trouble me on that score. Methinks that thou didst come off wondrous well out of the business. I would not have thought it possible that my Lord could ha' been so patient with thee as he showed himself. Methinks, forsooth, he must hold thee privily in right high esteem.”
“Truly,” said Myles, after a little pause of meditative silence, “I know not of any esteem, yet I do think he was passing patient with me in this matter. But ne'theless, Francis, that changeth not my stand in the case. Yea, I did shamefully, so to resign my lady without speaking one word; nor will I so resign her even yet. I have bethought me much of this matter of late, Francis, and now I come to thee to help me from my evil case. I would have thee act the part of a true friend to me—like that one I have told thee of in the story of the Emperor Justinian. I would have thee, when next thou servest in the house, to so contrive that my Lady Alice shall get a letter which I shall presently write, and wherein I may set all that is crooked straight again.”
“Heaven forbid,” said Gascoyne, hastily, “that I should be such a fool as to burn my fingers in drawing thy nuts from the fire! Deliver thy letter thyself, good fellow!”
So spoke Gascoyne, yet after all he ended, as he usually did, by yielding to Myles's superior will and persistence. So the letter was written and one day the good-natured Gascoyne carried it with him to the house, and the opportunity offering, gave it to one of the young ladies attendant upon the Countess's family—a lass with whom he had friendly intimacy—to be delivered to Lady Alice.
But if Myles congratulated himself upon the success of this new adventure, it was not for long. That night, as the crowd of pages and squires were making themselves ready for bed, the call came through the uproar for “Myles Falworth! Myles Falworth!”
“Here I be,” cried Myles, standing up on his cot. “Who calleth me?”
It was the groom of the Earl's bedchamber, and seeing Myles standing thus raised above the others, he came walking down the length of the room towards him, the wonted hubbub gradually silencing as he advanced and the youngsters turning, staring, and wondering.
“My Lord would speak with thee, Myles Falworth,” said the groom, when he had come close enough to where Myles stood. “Busk thee and make ready; he is at livery even now.”
The groom's words fell upon Myles like a blow. He stood for a while staring wide-eyed. “My Lord speak with me, sayst thou!” he ejaculated at last.
“Aye,” said the other, impatiently; “get thee ready quickly. I must return anon.”
Myles's head was in a whirl as he hastily changed his clothes for a better suit, Gascoyne helping him. What could the Earl want with him at this hour? He knew in his heart what it was; the interview could concern nothing but the letter that he had sent to Lady Alice that day. As he followed the groom through the now dark and silent courts, and across the corner of the great quadrangle, and so to the Earl's house, he tried to brace his failing courage to meet the coming interview. Nevertheless, his heart beat tumultuously as he followed the other down the long corridor, lit only by a flaring link set in a wrought-iron bracket. Then his conductor lifted the arras at the door of the bedchamber, whence came the murmuring sound of many voices, and holding it aside, beckoned him to enter, and Myles passed within. At the first, he was conscious of nothing but a crowd of people, and of the brightness of many lighted candles; then he saw that he stood in a great airy room spread with a woven mat of rushes. On three sides the walls were hung with tapestry representing hunting and battle scenes, at the farther end, where the bed stood, the stone wall of the fourth side was covered with cloth of blue, embroidered with silver goshawks. Even now, in the ripe springtime of May, the room was still chilly, and a great fire roared and crackled in the huge gaping mouth of the stone fireplace. Not far from the blaze were clustered the greater part of those present, buzzing in talk, now and then swelled by murmuring laughter. Some of those who knew Myles nodded to him, and two or three spoke to him as he stood waiting, whilst the groom went forward to speak to the Earl; though what they said and what he answered, Myles, in his bewilderment and trepidation, hardly knew.
As was said before, the livery was the last meal of the day, and was taken in bed. It was a simple repast—a manchette, or small loaf of bread of pure white flour, a loaf of household bread, sometimes a lump of cheese, and either a great flagon of ale or of sweet wine, warm and spiced. The Earl was sitting upright in bed, dressed in a furred dressing-gown, and propped up by two cylindrical bolsters of crimson satin. Upon the coverlet, and spread over his knees, was a large wide napkin of linen fringed with silver thread, and on it rested a silver tray containing the bread and some cheese. Two pages and three gentlemen were waiting upon him, and Mad Noll, the jester, stood at the head of the bed, now and then jingling his bawble and passing some quaint jest upon the chance of making his master smile. Upon a table............
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