Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > Men of Iron > CHAPTER 30
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 Adjoining the ancient palace of Westminster, where King Henry IV was then holding his court, was a no less ancient stone building known as the Painted Room. Upon the walls were depicted a series of battle scenes in long bands reaching around this room, one above another. Some of these pictures had been painted as far back as the days of Henry III, others had been added since his time. They chronicled the various wars of the King of England, and it was from them that the little hall took its name of the Painted Room.  
This ancient wing, or offshoot, of the main buildings was more retired from the hurly-burly of outer life than other parts of the palace, and thither the sick King was very fond of retiring from the business of State, which ever rested more and more heavily upon his shoulders, sometimes to squander in quietness a spare hour or two; sometimes to idle over a favorite book; sometimes to play a game of chess with a favorite courtier. The cold painted walls had been hung with tapestry, and its floor had been spread with arras carpet. These and the cushioned couches and chairs that stood around gave its gloomy antiquity an air of comfort—an air even of luxury.
It was to this favorite retreat of the King's that Myles was brought that morning with his father to face the great Earl of Alban.
In the anteroom the little party of Princes and nobles who escorted the father and son had held a brief consultation. Then the others had entered, leaving Myles and his blind father in charge of Lord Lumley and two knights of the court, Sir Reginald Hallowell and Sir Piers Averell.
Myles, as he stood patiently waiting, with his father's arm resting in his, could hear the muffled sound of voices from beyond the arras. Among others, he recognized the well-remembered tones of the King. He fancied that he heard his own name mentioned more than once, and then the sound of talking ceased. The next moment the arras was drawn aside, and the Earl entered the antechamber again.
“All is ready, cousin,” said he to Lord Falworth, in a suppressed voice. “Essex hath done as he promised, and Alban is within there now.” Then, turning to Myles, speaking in the same low voice, and betraying more agitation than Myles had thought it possible for him to show, “Sir Myles,” said he, “remember all that hath been told thee. Thou knowest what thou hast to say and do.” Then, without further word, he took Lord Falworth by the hand, and led the way into the room, Myles following close behind.
The King half sat, half inclined, upon a cushioned seat close to which stood the two Princes. There were some dozen others present, mostly priests and noblemen of high quality who clustered in a group at a little distance. Myles knew most of them at a glance having seen them come and go at Scotland Yard. But among them all, he singled out only one—the Earl of Alban. He had not seen that face since he was a little child eight years old, but now that he beheld it again, it fitted instantly and vividly into the remembrance of the time of that terrible scene at Falworth Castle, when he had beheld the then Lord Brookhurst standing above the dead body of Sir John Dale, with the bloody mace clinched in his hand. There were the same heavy black brows, sinister and gloomy, the same hooked nose, the same swarthy cheeks. He even remembered the deep dent in the forehead, where the brows met in perpetual frown. So it was that upon that face his looks centred and rested.
The Earl of Alban had just been speaking to some Lord who stood beside him, and a half-smile still hung about the corners of his lips. At first, as he looked up at the entrance of the newcomers, there was no other expression; then suddenly came a flash of recognition, a look of wide-eyed amazement; then the blood left the cheeks and the lips, and the face grew very pale. No doubt he saw at a flash that some great danger overhung him in this sudden coming of his old enemy, for he was as keen and as astute a politician as he was a famous warrior. At least he knew that the eyes of most of those present were fixed keenly and searchingly upon him. After the first start of recognition, his left hand, hanging at his side, gradually closed around the scabbard of his sword, clutching it in a vice-like grip.
Meantime the Earl of Mackworth had led the blind Lord to the King, where both kneeled.
“Why, how now, my Lord?” said the King. “Methought it was our young Paladin whom we knighted at Devlen that was to be presented, and here thou bringest this old man. A blind man, ha! What is the meaning of this?”
“Majesty,” said the Earl, “I have taken this chance to bring to thy merciful consideration one who hath most wofully and unjustly suffered from thine anger. Yonder stands the young knight of whom we spake; this is his father, Gilbert Reginald, whilom Lord Falworth, who craves mercy and justice at thy hands.”
“Falworth,” said the King, placing his hand to his head. “The name is not strange to mine ears, but I cannot place it. My head hath troubled me sorely to-day, and I cannot remember.”
At this point the Earl of Alban came quietly and deliberately forward. “Sire,” said he, “pardon my boldness in so venturing to address you, but haply I may bring the name more clearly to your mind. He is, as my Lord of Mackworth said, the whilom Baron Falworth, the outlawed, attainted traitor; so declared for the harboring of Sir John Dale, who was one of those who sought your Majesty's life at Windsor eleven years ago. Sire, he is mine enemy as well, and is brought hither by my proclaimed enemies. Should aught occur to my ha............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved