Now, in the beginning of July, I had been out with Sir Richard, and did not go into the castle when I had led the horses round to the stables, but sought Alan in the tiltyard, some one telling me that he had gone in that direction. And there I saw a thing that puzzled me, for it was unlike what one might have expected.
Two people walked under the trees on the far side of the tilting-ground, and they were the Lady Sybilla and Alan himself in deep converse. Alan seemed to be speaking a great deal and getting short answers; which was not surprising, as the lady was always proud and disdainful with him, so that Alan always seemed discomfited when she appeared. Just at this time, however, he did not seem so.
They did not see that I came, at first; and before they heeded me, I heard a few words.
"I will have nought to say to a man who is ashamed to own his own name," quoth Lady Sybilla.
"It was not shame, but policy," answered Alan.
"Ay—to escape from me."
Alan was silent for a moment, and then said—
"I have learnt to prize what once I had no thought of."
Then Sybilla saw me, and flushed.
"Ay—your name, you mean," she said to Alan, whose face was away from me. "Go to—win your name back by some deeds of arms, and then you may be worth speaking with."
With that she passed him and came towards me, beginning to hum some old tune or other lightly. As for Alan, he bided where she left him, not caring to follow.
"Come away," she said to me; "your comrade is in an evil temper."
"That is the first time I have seen him so," answered I; "needs must that I stay to cheer him; for I am not the cause of his ill-humour," and I laughed.