SIR RICHARD'S SQUIRES
first thing I saw was Alan's steadfast face above me, stern set and anxious, but unfaltering in gaze forward, and under me bounded the free stride of his great charger as though the double burden was nothing. Alan's left arm was round me, and I was across his saddle, while he was mounted behind it. He had no helm, and a stream of blood was across his face, and an arrow, caught by the point in the rings of his mail, rattled from his breast. His lance was gone, and his red sword hung by the sling from his wrist as he managed the bridle.
I stirred, and a smile came on his grim face.
"Art thyself again?" he said. "We are close on the camp."
Then he lifted his voice and shouted—I had a dim remembrance then that that shout had rung in my ears just as I came round—the old war-cry of his forebears at Hastings—and our knight's name.
"Dex aïe—De Courci—ho!"
And a murmur and then a shouting rose as our men heard and understood, and a dozen knights spurred forward to meet us and brought us in, scattering to take the news to the leaders as we passed the line of entrenchments, so that our tidings went before us.
Alan took me to our tents, and there was Sir Richard waiting, as he buckled on his sword. With him were two or three more knights, who gazed constantly at the mist as if trying to pierce it. The men were getting to their appointed posts as the alarm spread, with a quietness that told of anything but panic.
"Ho, Alan, you have been in close action," our knight said anxiously. "Are you or Ralph hurt?"
"A brush with some wild Galloway kernes, nought more," Alan answered, lowering me carefully into the strong grasp of Jehan of Stowey. "Have a care of the hurt foot, Jehan. That is all that is amiss, Sir Richard."