Page:Yule Logs.djvu/332

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316
SIR RICHARD'S SQUIRES

as our knight, who was almost a giant, as the De Courcis often are, and he looked like a warrior, even in his hunting gear, which was stained with red Quantock mud from his fall when he was taken.

Sir Richard took up the matter where he had broken it off when I entered.

"'Tis a mercy, Alan, that De Mohun of Dunster did not get hold of you. For that humour of yours of last night, when you would not own your name, would surely have landed you in the sachentege he keeps in his castle wherewith to wring answers from the silent. I would fain fit a more pleasant yoke to your neck," he said in a meditative way, watching De Govet's face amusedly.

Now of all the tortures that a Norman can invent, that of the sachentege is the worst; for the engine is made of a great beam of wood, fastened round the man's neck with a rough iron collar. As the beam is too heavy for one man to lift, and too long to be set on end, it is apt to wring confession of anything needed from him who is set therein after a time. Therefore I was surprised to hear the Lady Sybilla say suddenly—

"Borrow De Mohun's sachentege, I pray you."

"Fie, daughter," said Gregorius, shaking his head, but half smiling at the girl's anger. " It were a shame to set so gallant a youth in such bondage."

"Set me in the hateful thing rather," she said. "It were better than to marry me to this man of Stephen's, who would not own whatever name he has—being doubtless ashamed thereof."

At that De Govet started, and his face grew crimson. But Sybilla went on, growing more angry still.

"When Queen Maud comes I will go to her. She will see that I——"

"Hold," said Sir Richard suddenly; "enough of this. Go to your bower, girl, until you can be more patient with your guardian."