full. There was little love lost, since Matilda's failure of two years ago, between the parties of King and Queen.
When we met, therefore, the hunting party must needs rein up, for they could not pass us.
"Pardon me, sir knight, but you bar the road," said the leader, raising his cap courteously.
"Only for the pleasure of speech with you," said my knight, saluting in turn. "I am De Courci, and I believe that I speak to Alan de Govet?"
The young man's face darkened as he answered, "Let me go my way, Sir Richard. I have nought to say to disloyal men."
"There are two sides to every question, young sir," the knight answered. "And since I am a Queen's man, and the De Govets are King's men, we have different views of what loyalty is. However, just now Stephen is king."
"Well, what would you with me?"
"Some time since I had a fair offer to make to your noble father—touching yourself—that is, if you are Alan de Govet. I have as yet had no answer."
The young man's face flushed angrily.
"Stand aside, sir," he said. "This is discourteous."
"Not if you are the man I take you for. Which, by the way, you have not owned as yet."
"I will own nothing, if thus asked," was the answer, and the stranger turned to his men.
But they had gone hastily at the first word about the rival claims of King and Queen, knowing what mostly came of such arguments nowadays.
Seeing which, he turned his horse leisurely, and without sign of fear, to follow them, and Sir Richard laughed, and rode alongside him, laying his hand on the horse's bridle.
"Stay—I must ask you to come to Stoke Courci with me, as your men have left you," he said.
In a moment the young man's sword was out, and