Edgar the Ready 12
“Nothing, save that one of them spoke one day to Sir Gervaise de Maupas;
but as he flew into a violent rage at the man accosting him, I did not
think there could be any connection between them.”
“Ah!” groaned Edgar. “Then I fear the worst. I have not told thee,
Peter–and heavy is my responsibility for it–that emissaries of Sir
Gervaise did once attempt Sir John’s life. Sir John told me in order
that I might the better watch over his safety, and right badly have I
“But scarce could we have prevented this, Master Edgar. None would have
thought of watching over Sir John while he was in the saddle and fully
“Nay, but I might have warned him that assassins were on the lurk. But
this is no time for self-reproachings. I must do all I can to repair
the mischief done. Bring me a spare horse, Peter, and tell Matthew to
be in the saddle and ready waiting for me outside the north gate of the
town in a quarter of an hour. Late as it is, we must scour the
countryside. Sir John may be lying wounded in some lonely wood, or be
yet defending himself against cowardly adversaries. Quickly, Peter, for
thy master’s life!”
Peter limped away at the top of his speed, and Edgar quickly threw off
his outer clothes and put on a light shirt of mail made of tiny links of
interlaced steel, similar to that which Sir John, as a precaution
against his enemy, usually wore when not in armour. The shirt of mail
fitted closely, and when his doublet was donned once more no one would
have guessed that so thorough a protection lay hidden beneath its folds.
Quick as he was, the lad was back with his horse as soon as he was
ready, and Edgar instantly mounted and rode off into the town of
Bordeaux, first bidding Peter set to work to find, if possible, some
trace of the suspected men.
On arriving at the inn where the ladies Gertrude and Beatrice were
staying, Edgar found them still up, anxiously awaiting news.
“He hath not yet returned, then?” he cried, as he saw their anxious
“No. Surely someone hath seen him?” cried Gertrude in alarm.
“No one. But do not distress thyself so soon. I am going to sally out
with Matthew to scour the countryside, and if Sir John is anywhere near,
surely we shall come upon him. Doubtless he hath merely met with some
trifling accident that keepeth him back for a few hours.”
“Yes, Gertrude,” put in Beatrice, laying her hand on her friend’s arm,
“thy father is too hardy and experienced a warrior and horseman easily
to come to harm. I will warrant he will be back ere day dawns.
Nevertheless,” she went on, turning to Edgar, “thou hadst better make
search as thou hast purposed, Master Wintour, unless, indeed, thou art
fearful of spoiling thy chances in the mêlée to-morrow by passing the
“I care not a fig for the mêlée, so be it I can see Sir John back safe
and sound,” cried Edgar hastily, considerably nettled at the smile which
accompanied the last remark, and, saluting, he turned on his heel and
strode from the room. Here he paused for a moment, and, retracing his
steps, told the ladies it would be useless for them to wait up longer,
as the gates of the city would shortly close, and no one would be able
to pass either in or out before daybreak.
For some hours the night was moonlit, and Edgar and Matthew, dividing
the countryside between them, scoured it for miles and miles around.
Full of anxiety, for Edgar had communicated his fears to the
man-at-arms, they rode hard and fast, with little regard for their own
necks or the limits of the horses they bestrode, and by the time the sky
clouded over so that further real progress was impossible, they had
become convinced that Sir John was nowhere in the vicinity. Returning
to the camp, Edgar called Peter to him.
“Well, Peter, didst find out aught?”
“Nay, sir. None hath seen the two men of late, so perchance they know
naught of this matter, after all.”
“That, at least, is good news, and it may well turn out that nothing
serious hath happened to Sir John. Now, Peter, I am going to lie down
for an hour or two. Rouse me at daybreak, for I must acquaint the
ladies Gertrude and Beatrice of the poor success of my search as soon as
the city gates are open.”
Peter nodded and retired, and Edgar flung himself down just as he was,
and almost instantly fell into a deep slumber.
It was long after sunrise when he awoke, and furious with Peter for
letting him sleep so long, he hurried to the lad’s tent.
“Why did ye not call me, Peter?” he cried angrily.
“All is well, Master Edgar. I have been into the town, and have told
the ladies that there is no news, and that thou wert worn out with
searching, and sleeping heavily. I have hopes that thou wilt make thy
name in the mêlée to-day; but what chance would there be of thy doing
thyself justice after wearing thyself out riding all night long?”
Too angry to bandy words with the lad, and realizing, too, that it was
out of regard for him that he had disobeyed his orders, Edgar strode
back to his tent, hastily washed himself, and then rode into the town.
He had no good news to tell, and the ladies could not help but feel that
something serious must be keeping Sir John, or he would certainly have
either appeared in person or have sent someone to tell them of his
detention elsewhere. It was for them a time of anxiety and perplexity,
and Edgar could do little save suggest all sorts of accidents that might
have kept the knight back for a few hours.
One thing besides his master’s life, however, Edgar felt he had to
consider, and that was his honour. With the contest of the afternoon
Sir John’s honour was now closely bound up. The utmost publicity had
been given to the affair, and did he not appear and answer to the
challenge of Sir Gervaise de Maupas, he would be regarded on all sides
as a dishonoured knight. Edgar felt this most keenly, and resolved that
at all costs he would keep the secret of Sir John’s disappearance from
becoming known, so that if he returned at the last moment, as he might
well do, idle tongues would have had no cause to wag against him.
No one besides the ladies, Matthew, and Peter knew that Sir John was
missing, and all these he swore to silence. They were ready enough to
agree, for none could think that so experienced a warrior as Sir John
could have been overcome so easily as to disappear and leave no trace.
In fact, Matthew roundly declared that an hour or so before the contest
with Sir Gervaise was timed to commence would see him back, and the
others fervently hoped that he might prove to be right.
*The Lists of Bordeaux*
Completely forgetting that he was one of the seven chosen to do battle
for the English esquires against the best of their Gascon allies, Edgar
spent the little time left of the morning in making enquiries of all who
might have seen Sir John at any point during his afternoon’s
ride–countrymen coming in with carts laden with farm produce, the men
who had kept watch during the afternoon and evening along the outer side
of the camp, and any others who might possibly have some news to tell,
however meagre. His enquiries were quite fruitless, however, and his
fears that there might have been foul play gradually returned to him as
the morning wore on. At last he returned to the camp and sent for
“Peter,” he said, “I want thee now to keep close watch to see who doth
visit Sir Gervaise de Maupas. I begin to feel once more that he is at
the bottom of the mischief; and it hath occurred to me that if his
emissaries have waylaid Sir John they will, if they have not done so
already, come to him to report the result of their vile plot. Keep
watch, then, and see who the men are, and if thou canst do so quietly,
call Matthew and scruple not to seize them on some pretext or another.
Pick a quarrel with them–anything, so long as ye lay hands on them and
keep them till I come.”
Peter nodded, as though in entire approval, and limped off upon his
errand, and Edgar turned to find Arthur Pomeroy, mounted and armed,
waiting for him with every sign of impatience a pace or two away.
“So this is the way thou dost spend the precious moments–gibbering with
stableboys and camp followers, Edgar Wintour,” he cried in a voice of
disgust. “’Tis but twenty minutes short of noon, and thou not in the
saddle and not a piece of thine armour girded on. Hast gone daft, man,
or forgotten that the onset sounds at noon?”
“I have been busy, Arthur, and could wish that thou wouldst find some
other to take my place. Let the best of those who were tried and passed
over take the lance in my stead–each of them was well worthy to
represent our squirehood to-day.”
“Tush, Edgar, talk not such nonsense! Rather would I hold back our
whole band until thou wert ready, though ’twere an hour. Get on thine
armour without more ado. Where is thy boy?”
“I have sent him upon an errand of great import to me. Give me a hand
and I will soon be ready.”
With an angry snort Arthur set spurs to his horse and galloped away
through the camp like a whirlwind. In half a minute he was back, and
two lads following at top speed proclaimed that he had not been idle.
“Come hither, varlets, and gird on this armour. Quickly, now, unless ye
wish the Frenchmen to get the better of us.”
Rapidly the pieces of armour were strapped and buckled on until Edgar
stood complete, a wall of shining steel.
“Where is thy gage?”
“I have none.”
“What? Hast thou no damsel to watch for thine entry into the lists?”
Arthur shrugged his shoulders in perplexity. “Well, every man to his taste. Where is now thy horse? Where dost stable it?”