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HOME > Classical Novels > Men of Iron > CHAPTER 21
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 There are now and then times in the life of every one when new and strange things occur with such rapidity that one has hardly time to catch one's breath between the happenings. It is as though the old were crumbling away—breaking in pieces—to give place to the new that is soon to take its place.  
So it was with Myles Falworth about this time. The very next day after this interview in the bed-chamber, word came to him that Sir James Lee wished to speak with him in the office. He found the lean, grizzled old knight alone, sitting at the heavy oaken table with a tankard of spiced ale at his elbow, and a dish of wafers and some fragments of cheese on a pewter platter before him. He pointed to his clerk's seat—a joint stool somewhat like a camp-chair, but made of heavy oaken braces and with a seat of hog-skin—and bade Myles be seated.
It was the first time that Myles had ever heard of such courtesy being extended to one of the company of squires, and, much wondering, he obeyed the invitation, or rather command, and took the seat.
The old knight sat regarding him for a while in silence, his one eye, as bright and as steady as that of a hawk, looking keenly from under the penthouse of its bushy brows, the while he slowly twirled and twisted his bristling wiry mustaches, as was his wont when in meditation. At last he broke the silence. “How old art thou?” said he, abruptly.
“I be turned seventeen last April,” Myles answered, as he had the evening before to Lord Mackworth.
“Humph!” said Sir James; “thou be'st big of bone and frame for thine age. I would that thy heart were more that of a man likewise, and less that of a giddy, hare-brained boy, thinking continually of naught but mischief.”
Again he fell silent, and Myles sat quite still, wondering if it was on account of any special one of his latest escapades that he had been summoned to the office—the breaking of the window in the Long Hall by the stone he had flung at the rook, or the climbing of the South Tower for the jackdaw's nest.
“Thou hast a friend,” said Sir James, suddenly breaking into his speculations, “of such a kind that few in this world possess. Almost ever since thou hast been here he hath been watching over thee. Canst thou guess of whom I speak?”
“Haply it is Lord George Beaumont,” said Myles; “he hath always been passing kind to me.
“Nay,” said Sir James, “it is not of him that I speak, though methinks he liketh thee well enow. Canst thou keep a secret, boy?” he asked, suddenly.
“Yea,” answered Myles.
“And wilt thou do so in this case if I tell thee who it is that is thy best friend here?”
“Then it is my Lord who is that friend—the Earl himself; but see that thou breathe not a word of it.”
Myles sat staring at the old knight in utter and profound amazement, and presently Sir James continued: “Yea, almost ever since thou hast come here my Lord hath kept oversight upon all thy doings, upon all thy mad pranks and thy quarrels and thy fights, thy goings out and comings in. What thinkest thou of that, Myles Falworth?”
Again the old knight stopped and regarded the lad, who sat silent, finding no words to answer. He seemed to find a grim pleasure in the youngster's bewilderment and wonder. Then a sudden thought came to Myles.
“Sir,” said he, “did my Lord know that I went to the privy garden as I did?”
“Nay,” said Sir James; “of that he knew naught at first until thy father bade thy mother write and tell him.”
“My father!” ejaculated Myles.
“Aye,” said Sir James, twisting his mustaches more vigorously than ever. “So soon as thy father heard of that prank, he wrote straightway to my Lord that he should put a stop to what might in time have bred mischief.”
“Sir,” said Myles,............
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