at the same instant he seemed to rise from his saddle, lose his balance, and fall away from Sir Richard. His blow was wasted on air, as he came heavily to the roadside grass, where he lay stunned.
"Bring him home carefully," said Sir Richard to his men. "If he is Alan de Govet, we must have had him as a hostage sooner or later. If he is not—well, a De Courci can but apologise."
So we rode on, and I asked Sir Richard, wondering, why so good a rider fell, as did this young man.
"'Tis an old trick," the knight said; "you do but get your foot under his and lift him at the right moment. But I would not advise you to try it with one heavier than yourself."
Now when we reached the castle, our prisoner was brought in after us, seemingly not much the worse for his fall, and the Lady Sybilla, Sir Richard's ward, and mistress of the castle since his wife died, asked me who he might be. And when I told her that he was thought to be Alan de Govet, but that he would not own his name, she flushed a little, and said no more. Next day I had reason to think that she had heard of him before this. Very fair was this young lady, and heiress of many broad acres. She seemed much older than myself, but a boy of sixteen will think anything over twenty a great age.
After breakfast on the next day I fed the hawks, and then came back into the great hall to see if my knight had any commands for me. There I found some sort of council on hand, and, from all appearances, no very peaceful one. Jehan of Stowey, the head man-at-arms, and one of his men guarded the two doors, and our chaplain, Father Gregorius, sat by the hearth, smiling uneasily. Sir Richard sat in his great chair on the daïs, facing his prisoner, and by his side was the Lady Sybilla, who was plainly in a towering rage, for her eyes flashed, and her little hand was clenched as if she was holding herself in