courteous to take an unarmed man by force, save for weighty reasons. Then I will pledge my word of honour not to escape if allowed reasonable liberty."
"Ho!" said Sir Richard, "is there no word about the Lady Sybilla?"
"We will not discuss that point further," said Alan loftily. "I do but seek to evade the dungeon."
"It seems that you know your mind, young man," Sir Richard said," and I am willing to meet you as far as I may. If I take your word, you must promise also to hold no communication with the King's party."
"I will consider myself in the dungeon for that matter. They will not miss my help."
"I am not so sure," said the knight thoughtfully. "If you are my guest you may hear and see much that they would be glad to learn."
"Turn me out, then," said Alan promptly. "I know nothing as yet."
Again Sir Richard shook his head and laughed.
"I must keep my hostage, for I am not alone in this matter, and have to answer to others. Now, do I have your word not to escape, and to be silent?"
Alan stepped forward and held out his hand.
"The word of a De Govet," he said.
Now from that time forward Alan took his captivity in good part, sending by a chapman some message to his father which Sir Richard approved, and which satisfied those at home, for shortly after they sent him all that a guest could need, even to his helm and mail and charger. I do not know what his people thought of his being a guest with so noted a Queen's man as our knight, but at that time the great plans were secret, and none seemed to have any suspicion of them beyond the circle of the leaders of Matilda's party.
I soon learnt, having often to ride with messages to one leader or another, what these plans were, and I can