He was silent for a while as my knight told me what I had to prepare for the journey. But presently he spoke again—
"Let me go with you, Sir Richard," he said. "You are most generous in your own wish to let me go free, and it is possible that in the far north, where there will be none to hinder you, you will let me join in one battle for my own king. I would return to you either in victory or defeat, if not slain. And if slain, any further trouble in keeping me is over."
"This is a strange request," said Sir Richard, watching Alan's eager face. "You must be tired of our little castle."
But I thought I knew why Alan was so ready to go north for a mere chance of fighting.
"Alan has a mind to do some mighty deeds or other," I said. "We spoke thereof this afternoon."
"When I came here I denied my name, as it were," said Alan quickly, preferring not to be questioned perhaps, "and I must needs win it back. Let me prove that I am not to be ashamed thereof."
"Nay, Alan. You withheld your name somewhat foolishly, may-be; but you denied it not. None can blame you," said Sir Richard kindly.
"Nevertheless it has been said that I must win it back, and, I pray you, let me have this chance."
"Ralph," said Sir Richard sternly, "is this your foolishness?"
"Not mine," I answered. "'Tis but a poor jest of the Lady Sybilla's."
The knight looked at Alan and began to smile. Alan grew red and then angry, and Sir Richard laughed.
"So!" he said. "If that is the lady's word, there is no help for it. But I knew not that you had used your leisure so well."
Now why Alan had not a word to say for himself at