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´╗┐Title: Prentice Hugh
Author: Peard, FM
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Prentice Hugh" ***

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Prentice Hugh
By FM Peard
Illustrations by FB
Published by National Society's Depository, London.
This edition dated 1887.

Prentice Hugh, by FM Peard.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
PRENTICE HUGH, BY FM PEARD.

PREFACE.

There are differences of opinion as to Bishop Bitton's share in the
transforming of Exeter Cathedral, and I have followed that expressed by
Archdeacon Freeman, who, after speaking of the prevalent idea that the
present choir was the work of Stapledon, states that, from the evidence
of the Fabric Rolls, it was done by Bitton, whose episcopate lasted from
1292 to 1307.  After noticing the facts which point to this conclusion,
Archdeacon Freeman adds: "We thus establish, as I conceive, with
absolute certainty, the date of the completion of the _eastern half of
the choir_, a point entirely misconceived hitherto.  To Bitton and not
to Stapledon it must be ascribed.  And we shall see reason presently for
ascribing to him all the substantial features of the remainder, and the
vaulting of the whole."

With regard to the story itself, no one can be more conscious than I am
myself of the dangers inseparable from attempting to place it at so
early a date, when the author is at once plunged into a very quagmire of
possible anachronisms.  I can only ask the indulgence of those who,
happening to cast their eyes upon these pages, detect there the errors
in manners and customs which I am too conscious may exist.

It may be convenient, for the unlearned, to notice that the value of
coins was about fifteen times as much as in the present day.  Thus one
pound equalled fifteen pounds, and one mark (or shilling) fifteen
shillings.  A groat contained four silver pennies, and there were two
hundred and forty pennies in a silver pound.

CHAPTER ONE.

AT STOURBRIDGE FAIR.

"Have at him, Peter!"

"Roll him in the mud!"

"Nay, now, 'twere rarer sport to duck the lubber in the river!"

These and a hundred other taunts were hurled with entire freedom at the
head of a sturdy boy, to judge from his round and rosy face not more
than eleven years old, by six or eight urchins, who were dancing round
him with many unfriendly demonstrations.  Apparently there had already
been an exchange of hostilities.  One of the half-dozen had received a
blow in the eye which had half closed that organ and another showed
signs of having suffered on the nose, much to the damage of his
clothing; these injuries had evidently enraged and excited the
sufferers.  Prudence, however, was not forgotten.  They egged each other
to the attack, but at the same time showed signs of hesitation, perhaps
for want of a leader who might organise a simultaneous rush.

The boy, meanwhile, though he too bore marks of the fray, for his
clothes were torn, and a streak of blood on his cheek showed where he
had been hit by a stone or a stick, kept a valiant front.  He stood with
his back against a fine oak, and flourished a short stout cudgel.

"Come on, come on, all of you!" he shouted.  "A broken crown the first
shall have, I promise you!"

"He's threatening thee, Jack Turner.  Hit him over the pate!"

"Look at his jerkin--he's one of the Flemish hogs."

"Flemish!" cried the boy indignantly.  "Better English than all of you
put together.  No English that I know are cowards!"

The dreadfulness of such a charge overcame all fears of broken heads.
With a yell of rage the urchins rushed pell-mell upon their foe, and
battle, indeed, arose!  He defended himself with a courage and vigour
worthy of all praise, hitting at weak points, and bestowing at least two
of his promised broken heads.  But numbers will prevail over the most
determined bravery, and here were at least a dozen kicking legs and
encumbering arms.  Do what he would he could not shake them off, blows
rained upon him under which he turned dizzy, and his evil case would
soon have been exchanged for a worse, if an unexpected ally had not
rushed upon the group.  A splendid deer-hound crashed in upon them,
upsetting two or three of the boys, though more as if he were amusing
himself with a rough frolic than with thought of harm.  The urchins,
however, did not stay to consider this, for, picking themselves up with
cries of terror, they fled as fast as their legs could carry them,
leaving sundry spoils behind them in the shape of apples and a
spice-cake, which latter the dog, doubtless considering himself entitled
to his share of the booty, gobbled up without a moment's hesitation.

The boy who had been the object of attack was the only one who showed no
sign of fear.  He stood, breathless and panting, his cheeks crimson, his
clothes torn, but with so resolute a determination in his face as proved
that he was ready for another fight.  Seeing, however, that the hound
had no ill intentions, he straightened and shook himself, picked up the
cap which had fallen off in the fray, and looked round to see who was
near.

He saw for the first time that two persons were watching him with some
amusement.  One was a boy of about fourteen, the other an elderly man in
the grey dress of a Franciscan friar.

"Thou art a sturdy little varlet," said the friar, coming forward with a
smile, "and held thine own right well.  But I doubt me how it would have
gone, had Wolf not borne in to the rescue.  No shame to thee either, for
thou wast sorely overmatched.  What had brought such a force of
rascaille upon thee?"

The boy had grown rather redder, if that were possible, but he spoke out
bravely.

"Holy friar, they were angry because this morning I saved a monkey out
of their hands.  Its master, an Italian, had died, and they called the
poor beast a devil's imp, and were going to stone it to death."

"I would Wolf had served them worse!  But why did they not fight with
thee at the time?"

"They were but three then," said the boy with a laugh.

"Hum.  And who are the little varlets?  Give me their names, and they
shall have a goodly thrashing."

The boy for the first time hung his head.  The other lad, who had been
listening impatiently, broke in in French.

"Set Wolf at them in another sort of fashion.  I see them still skulking
about, and peeping at us from behind the trees--the unmannerly loons!
They need to be taught a lesson."

"Gently, Edgar," said the friar, laying his hand on his young
companion's arm, "Wolf might prove a somewhat dangerous chastiser.
Come, boy, let us have their names," he added, turning to the other.

"Holy friar," said the boy eagerly, "I know the French."

The friar lifted his eyebrows.

"I thought thy tongue had a strange trick about it, but I could have
sworn it was Flemish that it resembled."

"We have just come from Flanders."

"Not English," cried Edgar angrily.  "If I had known he was one of those
blood-sucking foreigners, who fasten like leeches upon our poor country,
Wolf should never have bestirred himself to the rescue."

"Peace," said the friar more sharply, but before he could say more the
younger boy broke in indignantly--

"We are English, good English!  My father has but been in Flanders
perfecting himself in his trade of wood-carving."

"And 'twas there you learnt the French?"

"Ay, sir, from the monks."

"Perhaps also thou hast learnt to read?" pursued the friar, with the
smile with which in these days we might ask a ploughboy whether he knew
Hebrew.

"A little," said the boy modestly.

So unexpected was the answer, that the friar started back.

"Why this is amazing!" he said.  "Edgar, dost thou hear?"

"Ay.  He is training, no doubt, for the monastery," said the lad
carelessly, though looking at the other with amazement.

"Nay," said the boy sturdily; "no monk's hood for me.  I would be a
soldier and fight for King Edward."

"And what knowest thou of King Edward?" inquired the friar, who
evidently found amusement in questioning.

"What all the world knows," the boy answered sturdily, "that never was a
nobler king or truer Englishman."

"Ay?  Learnt you that in Flanders?" said the friar, lifting his eyebrows
in some astonishment.  "Well, wherever you had it, 'tis good teaching
and true, such as men by-and-by will look back and own.  And so nothing
will serve thee but hard blows?  What is thy name?"

"Hugh Bassett, holy friar."

"Come to the great Stourbridge fair with thy father and mother?"

"My mother is dead.  My father has brought some of his carvings here to
sell, and we lodge in the sacristan's house because 'tis too cold in the
fields."

Wolf, at a call from the young lad, had come back from an investigation
among the oaks, and was now slobbering affectionately over his young
master's hand; Hugh watching him with deepest interest.

"There is one thing thou hast all but forgotten," said the friar; "the
names of thy tormentors?  See, they are still watching and peeping."

The boy again hung his head.

"What now?  Hast lost thy tongue?"

"Nay, father, but--"

"But what?"  Then as Hugh muttered something, "What, I am not to know?
Yet they were for serving thee badly enough!"

"I would fight them again," said the boy, looking up boldly.

"I warrant thou wouldst," said the friar, laughing heartily.  "And
without a mother, who will mend thy clothes?  They have suffered more
damage than thy tough head, which looks as if 'twere made to bear
blows."

Hugh glanced with some dismay at his torn jerkin.  It was not the first
time that the question had presented itself, though the friar's
questions had driven it out of his head.  And the elder lad now showed
symptoms of impatience.

"May we not be going back, sir?" he said to his companion.  "The
jongleurs were to be at their play by now, and we are not like to see
much out in this green tangle."

"As thou wilt," said the good-tempered friar; "I will but make one more
proffer to our valiant friend.  See here, Hugh, I have a fancy to know
the name of the biggest of thine enemies, the one who set the others on
thee.  Will a groat buy the knowledge?  There it is before thine eyes,
true English coin, and no base counterfeit pollard.  Only the name, and
it is thine."

"Not I!" cried the boy.  "I'll have nothing to do with getting him
flogged."

"Yet I'll answer for it thy pocket does not see many groats, and what
brave things there be to be bought at the fair!  Sweets and comfits and
spices."

"They would choke me!"

The friar laughed long, with a fat, noiseless chuckle full of merriment.

"Well," he said, "I keep my groat, and thou thine honour, and I see that
Wolf hath shown himself, as ever, a dog of discretion.  Shall we take
the boy back to thy father's lodgings, Edgar, and persuade Mistress
Judith to bestow some of her fair mending upon his garments?"

"So as we waste no more time here, I care not," said the lad
impatiently.

Bidding the boy follow, Friar Nicholas and his companion walked away,
leaving the wood with its undergrowth of bracken, already looking rather
brown and ragged with the past heat of the summer, and first touch of
frost sharpening the nights in the low-lying Eastern counties, as is
often the case by Michaelmas.  At that time, towards the end of the
thirteenth century, it need hardly be said that the country presented a
very different appearance from that which we see now.  Parts were
densely wooded, and everywhere trees made a large feature in the
landscape, which was little broken by human habitations.  The chief
clearings were effected in order to provide sheep walks, wool being at
that time a large, if not the largest, export; although matters had not
as yet arrived at the condition of some fifty years later, when, after
England was devastated by the Black Death, and agricultural labour
became ruinously dear, serfs were evicted from their huts, and even
towns destroyed, in order to gain pasturage for sheep.  Under Edward the
First things were tending the other way; marshes were drained, waste
land was brought into cultivation, and towns were increasing in size and
importance.  Wheat was dear, animal food cheap.  Some of the greater
barons lived in almost royal state, but the smaller gentry in a
simplicity which in these days would be considered absolute hardship.

With an absence of shops, and with markets bringing in no more than the
local produce of a few miles round, it will be easily understood how
fairs became a need of the times.  They began by people flocking to some
Church festival, camping out round the church, and requiring a supply of
provisions.  The town guilds, setting themselves to supply this want,
found here such an opening for trade that the yearly fairs became the
chief centres of commerce, and had a complete code of laws and
regulations.  Privileges were even granted to attract comers, for at a
fair no arrest could be made for debts, saving such as were contracted
at the fair itself.  And it was a fruitful source of revenue, because
upon everything bought a small toll was paid by the buyer.

Gradually these fairs increased in importance.  English traders
travelled to those across the seas, to Leipsic, to Frankfort, even to
Russia.  Foreigners in their turn brought their wares to England, where
the principal yearly fair was held at Stourbridge, near Cambridge,
another of scarcely less importance at Bristol, and somewhat lesser ones
at Exeter and other towns.

The scene at these fairs, when the weather was favourable, was one of
extreme gaiety and stir.  As the friar and his young companion, followed
by Hugh, walked back towards the town a soft autumnal sun was shining on
the fields, where were all sorts of quaint and fantastic erections, and
where the business of the fair was at its height.  Such people as could
find house-room were lodged in the town, but these only bore a moderate
proportion to the entire throng, and the less fortunate or poorer ones
were forced to be content with tents, rude sheds, and even slighter
protection.  These formed the background, or were tacked on to the
booths on which the varied collection of wares were set forth, and which
with their bright colourings gave the whole that gay effect which we now
only see in the markets of the more mediaeval of foreign towns.  To this
must be added a large number of motley costumes: here not only were seen
the different orders of English life--the great baron with his wife and
children, his retinue, squires, men-at-arms, pages; the abbot riding in
little less state; friars, grey, black, and white; pilgrims--but
foreigners, men of Flanders with richly dyed woollen stuffs, woven from
English wool; merchants from the Hans towns displaying costly furs;
eastern vendors of frankincense, and spices, and sugar; Lombard usurers;
even the Chinaman from Cathay, as China was then called, with his stores
of delicate porcelain--each and all calling attention to their wares,
and inviting the passers-by, whether nobles or churls, to buy.

The fair originated in a grant to the hospital of lepers at Cambridge,
bestowed by King John.  It opened on the nineteenth of September,
continued for two or three weeks, and was under the control of the
master of the leper-house, no slight undertaking when the great
concourse of people is considered, for not only had they to be housed
and fed, but at a time when carriages and carts were unknown, and men
and merchandise were alike carried on horses and mules, there must
necessarily have been a vast number of beasts to keep.  Protection had
to be afforded against possible attacks of robbers or outlaws, and--
almost the most difficult task of all--it was necessary to check as far
as possible quarrels which frequently arose between the haughty barons
or their retainers, as also to protect the foreigners from the rough
treatment which it was not unlikely they would receive should anything
excite the people against them.  Particularly, and it must be owned
justly, was this at times the case with the usurers.

But though the nominal business of the fair consisted in trading,
money-getting, and money-lending, there were plenty of shows and
amusements to attract those who loved laughter.  In one part a number of
lads were throwing the bar, in another they were playing at what seemed
a rough kind of tennis.  Merry Andrews tumbled on the green, rope
dancers performed prodigies of activity; here men played at
single-stick, wrestled, or shot at a mark; at another place were the
jongleurs or conjurers, and in yet another a bespangled company of
dancing dogs, which excited the lordly contempt of Wolf.

"These fellows have rare skill," said Edgar, watching a conjurer effect
a neat multiplication of balls.

"Stay and watch them," said the friar.  "Thy father will not yet have
ridden back from Cambridge, and thou art not wanted in the house.  I
will go and do my best to gain Mistress Judith's good aid for this
urchin, and after that, if he will, he may show me where he lodges."

Sir Thomas de Trafford, knight of the shire, and father of the lad
Edgar, had found accommodation for his family in a house which we should
now consider very inadequate for such a purpose, though it was then held
to have made a considerable stride towards absolute luxury from being
able to boast a small parlour, or talking room.  Neither glass nor
chimneys, however, were yet in use, although the latter were not
unknown, and had crept into some of the greater castles.  Fires were
made in the centre of the rooms, and the pungent wood smoke made its
escape as best it could through door or windows, which in rough weather
or at night were protected by a lattice of laths.

The friar, however, went no further than the passage, where he called
for Mistress Judith, and was presently answered in person by a somewhat
crabbed-looking personage, who listened sourly to his entreaty that she
would do something towards stitching together Hugh's unfortunate jerkin.

"The poor varlet has no mother," he ended.  But Mistress Judith pursed
her mouth.

"The more need he should be careful of his clothing," she was beginning,
when suddenly with a rush two little golden-haired girls of not more
than four or five came running along the passage, calling joyfully upon
Friar Nicholas, and clinging to his grey cloak.

"Thou wilt take us to the fair, wilt thou not?"

"And let us see the monkey that runs up the ladder, and the dancing
bear, and--we have some nuts for the monkey."

Mistress Judith's face relaxed.

"Nay, now, children, ye must not be troublesome.  The good friar has
doubtless other business on hand--"

"I'll take them, I'll take them," said the friar, hastily, "if you will
put the boy in order by a few touches of your skilful handiwork.  As
soon as I have bestowed him in safety I will return for them."

"To see the monkey," persisted little Eleanor.

"Ay, if thou wilt--" He was interrupted by a pull of the sleeve from
Hugh.

"So please you, holy friar," said the boy shyly, "the monkey is at our
lodging."

"What, is that the poor beast which those young villains would have
stoned?  Nay, then, hearken, little maidens.  The monkey has been in
evil case, and was like to be in worse but for this boy, Hugh Bassett.
And the cruel varlets who would have killed it set upon him for
delivering it, and though he fought right sturdily he would have been in
evil case but for Wolf."

"Our Wolf?"

"Even so.  What say you now?"

"He is a good boy," said the little Anne gravely.  Eleanor went nearer,
and looked steadfastly at Hugh.

"Is the poor monkey at your house?"

"Ay, little mistress."

"Shall we come and see him?"

Hugh looked uncertainly at the friar, and the friar at Mistress Judith.
Mistress Judith threaded her needle afresh.

"If my lady--" began the friar.

"My lady does not permit my young mistresses to run about the fair like
churls' children," interrupted the nurse sourly.  "Marry, come up!  I
marvel your reverence should have thought of such a thing."

She was interrupted in her turn.  Eleanor had clambered on a chair and
flung her arms round her neck, laying hold of her chin and turning it so
as to look in her face, and press her rosy lips to her cheek.

"Nay, nay, mother said we should see the monkey!  Thou wilt come with
us, and Friar Nicholas, and this good boy.  Say yea, say yea, good
nurse!"

Mistress Judith, rock with all others, was but soft clay in the hands of
her nurslings.  She remonstrated feebly, it is true, but Eleanor had her
way, and it was not long before the little party set forth, the children
indulging in many skips and jumps, and chattering freely in their
graceful _langue de Provence_.

There was so much to see, and so many remarks to be made on many things,
such wonderful and undreamt of crowds, such enchanting goods, such
popinjays, such booths of cakes, such possibilities of spending a silver
penny, that it seemed as if the sacristan's house would never be
reached, and 'twas easy to see it cost the children something to turn
from the fair towards the church.  Perhaps Anne would have consented to
put their object aside and remain in this busy scene of enchantment.
But nothing to Eleanor could balance her desire to see the monkey, and
they went their way with no further misadventure than arose from the bag
of nuts slipping from her little fingers, and the nuts scattering in all
directions.

The sacristan's house consisted of but one room, with the fire as usual
in the centre.  The sacristan himself was in the church; over the fire
sat a thin pale-faced man, engaged in putting the last strokes to a
carved oaken box of most delicate workmanship.  The monkey, which had
been sitting with him, directly the little party appeared, uttered a cry
of fear, sprang on the high back of a bench, and from thence to the
uncovered rafters of the roof, where it sat jabbering indignantly, and
glancing at the visitors with its bright eyes.

The man, who was Stephen Bassett, Hugh's father, rose and greeted them
respectfully, though with some amazement at seeing his boy in unknown
company.

"Welcome, holy friar," he said.  "If you seek John the sacristan, Hugh
shall run and fetch him from the church."

"Nay," said the friar, with his easy smile, "I fear me we are on a
lighter quest.  These little maidens had a longing to behold the monkey,
and thy boy offered to bring them here for that purpose."  Mistress
Judith looked unutterable disgust at the poor room and her surroundings,
though she condescended to sit down on a rough stool, from which she
first blew the dust.  The friar entered into conversation with Stephen
Bassett, and the little golden-haired girls pressed up to Hugh.

"Make him come down," said Eleanor pointing.

"He is frightened--I know not," said Hugh, shaking his head.  He was,
however, almost as anxious as the other children could be to show off
his new possession, and, thanks either to an offered nut, or to the
trust which the monkey instinctively felt towards his deliverer, the
little creature came swiftly down, hanging by hand and tail from the
rafters, to intensest delight of both Anne and Eleanor, and finally
leaping upon Hugh's shoulder, where it cracked its nut with all the
confidence possible.  It was small and rather pretty, and it wore much
such a little coat as monkeys wear now.  Eleanor could not contain her
delight.  She wanted to have it in her own arms, but her first attempt
to remove it from its perch brought such a storm of angry chattering
that Anne in terror plucked her sister's little gown and implored her to
come away.  Eleanor drew back unwillingly.

"Why doesn't he like me?" she demanded.  "I love him.  What is his
name?"

"Agrippa."

"Agrippa!  And can he do tricks?  Yesterday he did tricks."

"He knows me not yet, mistress," explained Hugh.  "His master died
suddenly, and he had no other friend."

"But thou wilt be his friend," said Eleanor, looking earnestly at the
boy, "and so will I.  I will leave him all these nuts.  Anne, I would my
father would give us a monkey!"

"I like him not," said Anne, fearfully withdrawing yet closer to
Mistress Judith.  Eleanor knew no fear.  She would have taken the little
creature in her arms, regardless of its sharp teeth, or of the waiting
woman's remonstrances, but that Hugh would not suffer her to make the
attempt.  He looked at the two little girls with an eager pride and
admiration, felt as if he were responsible for all that happened, and
had he been twice his age could not have treated them with more careful
respect.

CHAPTER TWO.

STOLEN AWAY.

Meanwhile the friar and Stephen Bassett conversed together, seated on a
rude bench at the other side of the dimly-lit room.  The friar was a man
of kindly curiosity, who let his interests run freely after his
neighbours' affairs, and, attracted by the boy, whose education had far
overpast that of the knight's son, Edgar, he made searching inquiries,
which Stephen answered frankly, relating more fully than Hugh how in
Flanders, where he had travelled in order to perfect himself in an art
not yet brought to a high pitch of excellence in England, his wife had
died, and he having been left with the boy on his hands, the child had
excited the interest of the monks, who, finding him teachable, had
instructed him in the then rare accomplishments of reading and writing.

"He is like to forget them, though," he added with a sigh, "unless in
our wanderings we fall upon other brothers as good as those, which is
scarce likely."

"Have you thought of his taking the habit?"

"Nay, his bent lies not that way," said Bassett, smiling.  The other
smiled also.

"Truly, it seemed not so by the lusty manner in which he laid about him
but now.  And I mind me he spoke of his wish to be a soldier."

"That I will not consent to," Bassett replied hastily; "he shall follow
my trade.  It would break my heart if I thought that all my labours died
with me."  He was interrupted by a fit of coughing.

"And where," inquired the Franciscan, "where dost thou purpose going
when the fair is ended?"

"In good sooth, holy friar, that is what troubles me.  I had thought of
London, but I wot not--"

The other leaned forward, resting his elbow on his knee, and his chin in
the palm of his hand.

"I wot not either," he said at last, "but in these days there is much
noble work akin to thine going on in the great churches and minsters of
the kingdom.  There is St Peter's at Exeter, now.  One of our order was
telling me but lately how gloriously the bishop of that see is bringing
it to perfection.  The air in those western shires is soft and healing,
better for thy cough than London, which has many fens giving out their
vapours, to say nothing of the smoke arising from that vile coal the
citizens are now trying to burn, and which pours out its choking fumes
upon the poor air.  Were I thee I would not bestow myself in London."

"Exeter," said Bassett reflectively; "I thank thee for the suggestion.
My wife came from those shires, and a bishop with a zeal for decoration
might well give me employment."

"The journey is long," put in the friar, with a desire that prudence
should have her share in this advice of his which the wood-carver seemed
so ready to adopt.

"We are used to journeys and I dread them not."

"Nor fear robbers?"

"I am too poor to tempt them.  Besides, our great king has done much for
the security of the country, by what I hear.  Is it not so, holy friar?"

"Truly it is.  But Scotland has taken more of his thought lately, and
when the lion is in combat, the smaller beasts slink out to fall on
their prey.  But if you make your way to Exeter and would go first
through London, our house in Newgate Street will give you hospitable
lodging.--How now, Mistress Eleanor?"

"It is the monkey, Friar Nicholas--might he not bring it for madam, our
mother, to see?  He says that Wolf would eat him."

"And in good sooth that were not unlikely.  Better be content to come
here again and see the little pagan beast, if Mistress Judith does not
mislike it.  Fare thee well, Master Bassett.  I will meet thee again,
and hear whether Exeter still has attraction."

Mistress Judith rose and shook her skirts before folding them round her,
an operation which the monkey, happening to be close to her on Hugh's
shoulder, resented greatly, chattering at and scolding her with all his
might.  Eleanor screamed with delight, while Anne hid her face; and
Hugh, somewhat abashed at Mistress Judith's displeasure, retired with
Agrippa to the back of the room, while his father escorted his guests a
few paces beyond the door.

He came back and found Hugh enthusiastic over his new friends.

"The dog, father, a noble beast!  I would you had seen him!  I warrant
me Peter the smith's son has had enough of fighting to last him a while.
He ran like a deer!"

"And how fell it out?"

Thus questioned a long story had to be told of the ill deeds of Peter,
who had been the chief offender; and the damage to Hugh's garments,
which Mistress Judith had but hastily caught together, was ruefully
exhibited.  Stephen shook his head.

"Another time keep thy fighting till a woman is near to back up thy
prowess with her needle.  Yet--I'll not blame thee.  'Twould have been a
cowardly deed to have suffered that poor beast to be stoned.  And at
least I can mother thee for these bruises and scratches."

He fetched some water as he spoke, took out a few dried herbs from a
bag, set them in the water on the fire, and as soon as the decoction was
ready bathed the boy's many hurts with a hand as gentle indeed as his
mother's could have been.  While this was going on he talked to the
child with a freedom which showed them to be more than usually
companions in the fullest sense of the word.

"What thinkest thou the good friar hit upon?  He thought I might find
work at one of the great churches which are rising to perfection in the
land.  And, Hugh, thou hast heard thy mother speak of Exeter?  At Exeter
there is much of this going on, and if we could get there, I might
obtain the freedom of one of the craft guilds, and apprentice thee."

"Ay"--doubtfully.

"Well, why that doleful tone?"

"I would be a soldier, father."

"Serve thy 'prenticeship first and talk of fighting afterwards.  Dost
thou think King Edward takes little varlets of eleven years old to make
his army?  Besides--speak not of it, Hugh.  My heart is set upon thy
carrying on my work.  Life has not been sweet for me, and 'tis likely to
be short; let me see some fruit before I die."

The boy flung his arms round Bassett's neck.

"Father, talk not like that!  I will be what thou wilt!"

"Thou wilt?  Promise me, then," said his father eagerly.

"I promise."

Stephen Bassett's breath came short and fast.

"See here, Hugh.  Thou art young in years but quick of understanding,
and hast been my close companion of late.  Thou art ready to engage, as
far as thou canst--I would not bind thee too closely," he added,
reluctantly--"to renounce those blood-letting dreams of thine, and
follow my trade, and, as I well believe thou wilt, make our name
famous?"

"Ay," said the little lad gravely, "that will I do.  Only--"

"What?"

"If I must needs be cutting something, I would sooner 'twere stone than
wood."

"Sayest thou so?" said the carver, rising and walking backwards and
forwards in the room.  He was evidently disappointed, and was undergoing
a struggle with himself.  But at last he stopped, and laid his hand
kindly upon the boy's shoulder.  "As thou wilt, Hugh," he said; "I would
not be unreasonable; and truly I believe thy hand finds more delight in
that cold unfriendly surface than in the fine responsive grain of the
wood.  So thou art a carver, choose thine own material.  Stone and wood
are both needed in the churches.  We will go to Exeter.  I mind me thy
mother had cousins there.  We will but wait for the end of the fair, and
there will be folk going to London with whom we may journey safely."

The man's sanguine nature as usual overleapt all difficulties.  His
cough and his breathing were so bad, that others might have well dreaded
the effects of a long and toilsome journey, but he would hear of no
possible drawbacks, and Hugh was too young to be alarmed, and took the
over-bright eyes and occasional flush of the cheek as glad signs that
his father was getting well again.

Thanks to Hugh's new friends, moreover, Bassett sold his work, and sold
it well.  Dame Edith de Trafford sent for him, desiring he would bring
his boy and some specimens of his carving.  Hugh begged sore to be
allowed to take Agrippa, for the joy it would give to the little
Eleanor, but his father would not have it.  The monkey, though it had
attached itself devotedly to Hugh, was capricious with others, variable
in temper, and at times a very imp of mischief, and Stephen feared its
pranks might offend their new patroness.

Agrippa was, therefore, consigned to the rafters, where he chattered
with displeasure at seeing his master go out without him.

"If he is to journey with us, we must get him a cord," said Bassett.
"As it is, we shall pass for a party of mountebanks.  See that the door
is safely closed, for John the sacristan will not be back yet awhile."

The night had been wet, and the gaiety of the fair much bedraggled in
consequence.  Under foot, indeed, the mud and mire of the trampled grass
made so sticky a compound that it was difficult for one foot to follow
the other.  The poor folk who had been obliged--as numbers were--to
sleep on rough boards, raised on four legs from the ground, and but
slightly protected from the weather, were in sad plight.  Happily the
sun had come out, and though there was not much heat in his rays, they
served to lessen some of the discomfort, and to bring back a touch of
cheerfulness.  Peter the smith's son, with one or two others, pointed
and grimaced at Hugh as he passed on, without venturing to approach
nearer.  The goldsmiths were hanging up costly chains and sets of pearls
with which to tempt the noble ladies who approached, while a Hans trader
called attention to the fact that winter was coming and his furs would
protect from cramps and rheumatism.  Presently down through the booths
rode a party of knights and javelin men, none other than the high
sheriff with the four coroners and others, on their way to the shire
court, which was to be held that day under the shire-oak a few miles
distant.  A number of countrymen had already gone off to this meeting,
and in a few minutes Hugh saw Wolf bounding along by the side of a
smaller group of knights; Edgar was behind with a younger party, and
evidently Sir Thomas de Trafford as one of the knights of the shire was
proceeding to join the assembly.  Many remarks were made by the
bystanders, to which Bassett, who had been long out of England, listened
attentively.  He found that much satisfaction was in general expressed,
though one or two malcontents declared that each assembly was but the
herald for a demand for money.

"Parliament or no parliament, 'tis ever the same," grumbled one small
cobbler, drest in the usual coarse garment reaching just below the
knees, and headed by a square cape, too large for his shrunk shoulders:
"wars to be waged, and money to be squeezed from our bodies."

"Thine would not furnish the realm with the weight of a silver penny,"
said a burly countryman, glancing with much contempt at the cobbler.
"And when does the king ask for aid except in case of need?  If thou
hadst, as I friends in Cumberland, I reckon you would be the first to
cry out that a stop should be put to these Scotch outlaws harrying the
borders."

"And hast thou friends in Gascony, too, Dick-o'-the-Hill?" demanded the
little cobbler spitefully.

"Nay, it's been a scurvy trick of the French king, that getting hold of
Gascony," put in a baker who had joined the group; "I'm all for fighting
for Gascony."

"Well, I'll warrant that our burgesses, Master Dennis and Master Small,
will speak their minds against any wicked waste," persisted the cobbler.
"'Tis time the king were checked."

"And who has given you burgesses to speak for you, ay, and passed laws
putting the ay and the nay into your own hands?" broke in Stephen
Bassett indignantly.  "I have been out of England for many a long year,
but I mind the time, my masters, if you have forgotten, when the
parliament was called, not to vote whether or no the money should be
raised, but to raise it.  Few laws had you in old days, and little voice
in them!"

"He speaks the truth," said a grave franklin standing by.

"When, since the days of Alfred, has there been an English king like our
King Edward?" added Dick-o'-the-Hill.

"One that ever keeps his word."

"And makes laws for the poor."

"I say that none speak against him except traitors and false loons,"
said the baker, squaring up towards the cobbler in a threatening manner.

"Nay, my masters, I meant no harm," urged the cobbler, alarmed.  "The
saints forbid that I should say a word against King Edward!  Doubtless,
we shall pay our twelfth, such of us as can--and be as much better as we
are like to be."

He added these words under his breath, but Stephen Bassett caught them.

"Ay," he said, "so long as we are saved from sinking into a nation of
curs such as thee."

The cobbler cast an infuriated look at him as he walked on, the flush
which Hugh loved to see on his cheek.

"That was an evil man, father," said the boy.  Bassett was silent for a
space.

"There are many such discontented knaves," he returned at last, "eating
like a canker into the very heart of our nation.  Self, self, that is
the limit to which their thoughts rise.  And they measure all others by
their own petty standard--even the king.  It makes one sick at heart to
think what he has done for his country, and how--to hear some of these
mean-spirited loons talk--it is turned against him, and besmirched, till
fairest deeds are made to look black, and nothing is left to him but his
faults."

If Hugh could not understand all, he took in much, and remembered it
afterwards.  But the delights of the fair drove all else out of his head
for the moment, and he could scarce be torn away from the dancing bear.

"Hearken," said his father at last with a laugh, "whatever happens, I'll
have none of the bear!  His masters may die, and he be baited by all the
dogs in the town, but he shall never be my travelling fellow.  Come,
'tis time we were at the lady's."

This time they were passed through the passage to the talking room,
where Dame Edith was sitting on a bench or low settle.  The walls were
unplastered, its rough floor uncarpeted, its windows unglazed, to modern
notions it would have seemed little better than a cell, but Dame Edith
herself created about her an air of refinement and delicacy.  After the
new fashion, instead of the plaits which had been worn, her fair hair
was turned up and enclosed in a network caul of gold thread, over which
was placed a veil.  She wore a kirtle of pale blue silk, and a
fawn-coloured velvet mantle, with an extravagantly long train
embroidered in blue.  She looked too young to be the mother of Edgar,
and indeed was Sir Thomas's second wife, and the very darling of his
heart.  The twins, especially Anne, strongly resembled her; Eleanor had
more of her father's and her step-brother's eager impetuosity, but Anne
bade fair to be as sweet-mannered and dainty as her mother.  Bassett and
his son had hardly made their greeting, before the little maidens were
in the room, Eleanor so brimming over with questions about the monkey
that she could scarce keep her tongue in check.

Dame Edith smiled very kindly on the boy.

"I have heard all the tale from Friar Nicholas," she said, "and of how
discreetly Wolf came to the rescue.  And so thou wouldst be a soldier?"

Hugh coloured, and his father broke in--

"Nay, lady, he hath laid by that foolish fancy.  He will be a carver,
like myself."

She lifted her pretty eyebrows.

"In good sooth?  Now we had settled matters quite otherwise.  I had won
my good husband to consenting that he should be taken into our meine,
and there he might have risen.  Is the subject quite decided?"

"Quite, lady," Bassett said firmly.  "I thank you very humbly for your
goodness, but Hugh and I must hold together while I live, and I have set
my heart upon his carving a name for himself with a lowlier but a more
lasting weapon than the sword."

His cough shook him again as he spoke, and Dame Edith, though unused to
opposition, was too kindly natured to show displeasure.  She asked to
see what he had brought, and was soon wrapt in admiration at the free
and delicate work which was displayed.  Meanwhile, Eleanor could whisper
to Hugh--

"Hath Agrippa eaten all the nuts?  Doth he like spice-bread or figs?
I'll give thee some.  But oh, I wish, I wish thou hadst brought him!
Wolf is gone to the shire-oak.  And see now, bend down thy head, and
hearken to a secret.  Madam, our mother, has a silken cord for thee to
hold him with.  When may we come again and see him?  I should like it to
be to-day."

Dame Edith was a liberal purchaser.  Her last choice was a beautiful
little reliquary box, minutely carved, yet with a freedom of design
which enchanted her.  She would scarcely allow them to leave her, and
the afternoon had advanced before father and son found themselves on
their way back to the sacristan's house.  He met them at the door--a
little, withered old man--in an indignant temper.

"Folk should shut the door behind them, and not leave the house to be
pillaged," he said, crossly.  "Here I come back and find all in
disorder, and the door wide open to invite all the ill loons in the
place to come in and work their will."

"We left the door safely shut," said Bassett, in surprise.

"Father--Agrippa!" cried Hugh, bolting into the house.

His fears were too true.  No Agrippa chattered his welcome to them from
the rafters, and as he always remained in that place of refuge during
their absence, and was too timid to come down to any stranger, it was
evident that some dire abduction had taken place.  Hugh, who had grown
very fond of the monkey, was like one distracted.  John, the sacristan,
who loved it less, was disposed to be philosophical.

"Well, well, well," he said, "if the varlets have taken nought else I
wish them joy of their bargain, and 'tis well it's no worse.  By 'r
Lady, 'tis a foul thing to break into a man's house, and we shall see
what the Master of the College will say to the watch."

"I'll find the poor beast, if he be still alive," said Hugh, with a
choke in his voice, "wherever they've bestowed him.  'Tis Peter's work!"

He was rushing out when Bassett checked him.

"Softly, softly," he said, "prudence may do more than valour in this
case.  Let us ask a few questions to begin with.  Master John, at what
time came you back?"

"At four o' the clock, and found the door open--thus, and the tankard of
ale I had left emptied.  The scurvy knaves!  But there's no virtue left
in the watch since Master Simpkins got the upper hand, and hath upset
all the ancient customs."

Scarce restraining Hugh's impatience, his father made inquiries at some
of the houses round, and ended at last in gaining information.  Goody
Jones was sick of a fever, and her little grandchild, playing at
bob-apple before the door with another, had seen Peter, the smith's son,
and two other boys, whom she named, go into the sacristan's house.
Pressed to say whether she saw them come out again, she said nay.  Her
grandam had called her, and she had run in.

Link the first was therefore established.

Hugh was for rushing at once to Peter, and forcing the rest out of him,
but Bassett counselled more wary walking.

"'Tis a deep-laid plot," he said, "and it were best to meet craft by
craft.  Besides, if they are accused, they may kill the poor beast to
save themselves and spite thee.  Let us go out to the fair, and maybe we
shall pick up some tidings."

It was dreadful to Hugh to behold Peter in the distance, and to be
restrained from falling upon him, and the fair had quite lost its charm,
though the noise and stir had increased.  Costard-mongers were bawling
apples--red, white, and grey costards--at the top of their voices;
pig-women inviting the passers-by to partake of the roast pig which
smoked on their tables; tooth-drawers and barbers, each proclaiming his
calling more loudly than the other.  The abbot of a neighbouring
monastery had his palfrey surrounded by a group of clothiers, while a
fool in motley was the centre of another group.  Among these the
wood-carver spied a sturdy yeoman, the same Dick-o'-the-Hill who had
opposed the cobbler earlier in the day.  It struck him that here was a
man for his purpose, and he managed to extract him from the others, and
to tell him what they were seeking.  Honest Dick-o'-the-Hill scratched
his head.

"If you knew where they had disposed the beast," he said, "and breaking
of heads could do it, I'm your man.  But as for finding where 'tis hid,
my wife would tell you I was the veriest numskull!"  The next moment he
brightened.  "I have it!  There's my cousin before us, carrying that
fardel of hay.  He's the wisest head for miles round, and I'll warrant
he'll clap some sense on the matter.  Hi, Mat!  Ancient Mat!"

Thus adjured, a small, dried-up, pippin-faced man paused on his way, and
waited till his cousin overtook him and explained what was amiss.  He
listened testily, showing profound contempt for honest Dick's
straightforward, though somewhat heavy-handed, suggestions, but more
deference towards Stephen Bassett.

"More likely that the knaves have sold than harmed the creature," he
pronounced at the end of the story.

"Find out where it is, and I'll do what cracking of crowns is needed,"
said Dick.

"Mend thine own, which is cracked past recovery," growled the other.
"Hearken, master,"--to Bassett--"who is likely to buy such a beast?"

"Some noble household."

"Rather some puppet-show or party of mountebanks; those who have dancing
dogs or a bear."

"Right!" cried Stephen, joyfully.  "What a fool was I not to think of
it!"

"I said he had the best head in the shire," said Dick, with triumph.

"And," continued Matthew, unheeding, "thou wottest that the licence to
all foreigners expires to-day, and that they must leave the fair?  See
there, those Flemish traders are putting their wares together, and the
abbot has made a good bargain for his silken hangings.  My counsel is to
go to the watch, and, when the bear and his masters are on the march,
search for the monkey.  If I mistake not they will not be able to hide
him."

"Well thought of, friend," said Bassett, heartily.  "No need of the
watch, though," put in Dick-o'-the-Hill; "I'll bring a stout fellow or
two who'll do what is necessary."

"Ay, and get us trounced up as the trailbastons the king hates,
numskull," said his cousin.  "But 'tis nothing to me.  Go thine own way
for an obstinate loggerhead!"

Dick, who seemed to regard Mat's railing as something rather honourable
than otherwise entered into the proposal with extreme zest.  He produced
a quarterstaff, which he flourished with formidable ease, declaring
himself ready with its aid to encounter the bear himself.  Stephen
Bassett hoped to carry the matter through peaceably, but he felt that
his efforts might go more smoothly backed up by a display of force, and
welcomed Dick's assistance, as well as that of a neighbour whom he
offered to fetch.  There was not much time to lose, and they agreed to
meet at a certain spot within half an hour, a time which to Hugh's
impatience seemed interminable.  His father had enough to do in keeping
him quiet, and in finding out where the watch, whose business it was to
keep order at the fair, were bestowed.  Matthew, having disposed of his
hay, rejoined Bassett, really desirous to know whether his surmises
turned out to be correct; but, as he declared, solely that he might help
to check his cousin Dick's ignorant zeal.

Four of them, therefore, to say nothing of Hugh, took up their position
in the field just on the outskirts of the fair, and waited patiently or
impatiently, after their natures, for the event.

Soon a motley crowd began to emerge from the booths.  The most
picturesque features of the show, indeed, were departing, for foreigners
were not allowed to compete with the English traders beyond a certain
number of days; and Flemish, Italians, Chinese, streamed forth, to find
a night's lodging as best they might beyond the forbidden limits.  This
expulsion was accompanied by a good deal of coarse jesting and railing
from the other sellers, who rejoiced at the departure.

It was not long before the bear appeared, led by two men.

"Father, father!" cried Hugh, in a tumult of excitement.

"Speak the word, master, when thou desirest an appeal to my
quarterstaff," put in Dick-o'-the-Hill, "or even give me a nod, and I'll
warrant I'll not be backward.  I'll answer for the bear."

"Ay, I verily believe thy head to be as thick as its own," said Matthew.
"When wilt thou learn that brains are better than fists?  Peace, and
keep back."

Stephen Bassett had stepped out, and civilly informed the men that a
monkey had been taken from his house, and that he had reason to think it
might be in their possession.

"Going beyond known facts," muttered Matthew, "yet one must sometimes
make a leap in the dark.  They shake their heads and deny.  What next?
Friend Stephen presses his demand, and all four knaves wax violent in
vowing lies; and Dick is puffing and blowing with desire to break heads.
They have the beast, but where?"

His quick eyes, darting hither and thither, had soon answered this
question.  One or two of the men had bundles on their backs, and a boy
carried something of the same sort, though smaller.  Matthew noticed
that, at a word from one of the men, this boy slipped out of the group,
and, avoiding the side where Dick and his neighbour Hob were mounting
guard, passed round near Matthew himself.  In an absolutely unexpected
moment he found himself caught by the arm, and though he fought and
kicked he was held in a vice.  The men turned upon Matthew with
threatening gestures, and Dick, in high delight, flourished his
quarterstaff, and pressed up to the defence with one eye on the bear,
who in a free fight might be held to represent an unknown quantity.

Finding they had fallen into powerful hands the Italians confined
themselves to pouring out violent ejaculations, while Hugh flung himself
upon the bundle.  His fingers trembled so much with excitement that he
could hardly drag out the wooden skewers which served to keep it
together, but in a minute or two it was unrolled, and the terrified
monkey sprang out.  He had made one frightened leap already when Hugh's
call checked him, and the next moment, with a cry of delight, almost
human in its intensity, he ran to the boy, and clambering on his
shoulder gave the most unmistakable signs of pleasure.

"The monkey is his own jury," said Matthew, sententiously.  "Tried and
found guilty, my masters."

The Italians, however, had no intention of giving up their booty without
a struggle, and they called upon several jongleurs, who had crowded
round, to assist them.  One went so far as to seize the monkey,
whereupon Dick's cudgel, describing a circle in the air, came down upon
the head of the assailant with such force that he dropped like a stone,
and Hob following up with another blow scarcely less formidable, it
seemed likely that here would be a battle royal.  Two men fell upon
Matthew, who would have been in evil case had not Dick done as much for
him as he had for the monkey; and Stephen Bassett was set upon with a
vigour which soon left him breathless, although Hugh, clasping Agrippa
with one hand, with the other arm laid about him to such excellent
purpose that he hoped to save his father from hurt till Dick could come
to the rescue.

But might has been often found to get the upper hand of right, and both
Stephen and Dick had fallen into the common English error of underrating
their opponents.  A good many of the foreigners had closed round with
the desire to help their own body, and without knowing anything of the
quarrel; and the English, who would have stoutly taken the opposite
side, could only see that some quarrel was going on, and supposed the
strangers to be fighting among themselves.  Dick had done prodigies of
valour, and dealt furious blows with his quarterstaff, but he was
hampered by numbers who clung to his arm, and by the charge of
protecting his cousin, and he was reluctantly framing a call for rescue
when a party of horsemen rode into the very thick of the struggling
mass, and scattered it in all directions.

CHAPTER THREE.

RESCUED.

It was time.  Stephen Bassett was all but spent, and Hugh, trying his
best to shield him, was pressed backwards until, to his terror, he found
himself close to the hairy form of the bear.  But the instant the
knights appeared the throng opened and fled, except the bear-leaders,
who, hampered by their unwieldy animal, prepared to put the best face
they could on the matter.

For the first few minutes, indeed, there was nothing but trying to quiet
the horses, frightened out of their senses by finding themselves in
close neighbourhood with the bear, and this gave time for Hugh to look,
and to cry out joyfully--

"Father, it is Sir Thomas de Trafford!  He will see justice done."

"How now, my masters?" cried the knight, a dark-haired, bright-eyed man
with a red face.  "What means this brawling?"

"Your worship," said Dick-o'-the-Hill, wiping his face with the back of
his hand, "these knaves have been taken in the very act of stealing."

"Is that you, Dick Simpkins?" said Sir Thomas, with a laugh.  "I might
have guessed that heads could not be broken without your having a hand
in the breaking.  But the King will have none of this violence, and the
Master of the Hospital will have thee up for it, neck and crop."

Dick, looking somewhat sheep-faced at this view of his conduct, was yet
going to reply, when his cousin Matthew pushed forward.

"Hearken not to him, your worship," he began; "he is an ignorant though
a well-meaning knave.  But I humbly bid your worship take notice that
these men be the culprits who have stolen our property, and, when we
would have reclaimed it, set upon us, and were like to have killed us."

"Killed us forsooth!" muttered Dick, stirred to anger at last.

"--Had your worship not come to our rescue.  And as witness, knowing all
the circumstances--none better--I claim, if they are put upon their
trial, to take my place as one of the twelve jurors.  It is a case of
flagrant delict."

The culprits, conscious of their guilt, but not understanding the
conversation, stood as pale as death, glancing from one to the other.

"Let us hear in plain words what hath been stolen," said Sir Thomas,
impatiently.

"Please your worship," said Hugh, stepping forward and holding out the
monkey, "it is Agrippa."

"A monkey!  Why, thou must be the urchin my little maidens are for ever
chattering about.  And Edgar--where is Edgar?  Not here?  The youngster
is stopping in the fair.  And did these fellows steal thy monkey?"

Bassett, who had recovered his breath, put in his word.

"Ay, your worship; when we were away at your lady's, showing her the
carved work of mine she would see.  We left the door of John the
sacristan's--where we are lodging--shut, and came back to find it open
and the monkey gone."

"Might he not have escaped?"

"He was too timid unless he had been driven forth.  Besides, we have
evidence that the boy, who hath shown much ill-will already in the
matter, was seen to go in at the door with two others.  If these men are
questioned I believe they will tell us that they bought the beast from
these boys, and your worship may hold their fault the less."

The knight growled something in his beard which was not flattering to
foreign traders; but his sense of justice led him to take the course
which Bassett suggested, and he put his questions in French to the
Italians, who, watching the faces of those around (of whom a
considerable number had now collected), were in mortal terror of short
shrift.  By all the saints in the calendar they vowed that no thought of
stealing had crossed their minds.  A boy had brought the monkey; they
could understand no more than that he wanted to sell it, and, as they
were glad of the opportunity, they gave him ten silver pennies for their
bargain.

Matthew was greatly vexed not to understand this defence, in which he
would have been ready enough to pick holes; but Bassett, knowing that,
though true in the main, their story said nothing to explain their
denial of having seen the monkey or of its concealment in the bag, kept
merciful silence.  The men, at any rate, had been punished by fright,
and when Sir Thomas de Trafford asked if he demanded that they should be
haled back and given over to the college authorities he shook his head.

"E'en let them go, so we have the monkey," he said.

The knight administered a sharp rating, and bade them tie up their
comrade's broken head and be off; a permission of which they were only
too glad to avail themselves, the bear shuffling after them and causing
a fresh panic among the horses.

"Quiet, Saladin!" said Sir Thomas, irritably.  "Master Carver, somebody
must suffer for this, and the boy who stole and sold the beast is the
worst offender.  Thou--what is thy name--Hugo?  Hugh?--what sayest thou
should be done to him?"

"Your worship," said Hugh, tingling all over with eager thrill of hope,
"your worship, I should like to fight him."

"Trial by combat," said the knight, laughing.

"Nay, nay, he's a false loon, and that were too honourable a punishment.
Here, Dick-o'-the-Hill, thou knowest every knave for miles round, go to
the watch, and bid them take the thievish young varlet to the
whipping-post, and let him remember it.  Tell them I will answer for
them to their masters."

"Tell them," Matthew called after him, "that it is a case of flagrant
delict."

"Here, Master Carver," said Sir Thomas, moving his horse a few paces off
and beckoning to Bassett, "that boy of thine is a gallant little urchin,
and my babies have taken a fancy to him.  Wilt thou spare him to us?  He
shall be well eared for; my lady has but too soft a heart, as I tell
her, for the youngsters of the household."

"I am deeply beholden to your worship," returned Stephen, hastily.  "It
sounds ungracious to refuse so good an offer, but I cannot part with him
while I live.  You may guess from my face that that will not be for
long."

At the first part of this speech Sir Thomas had frowned heavily, but he
could not be wroth with the end.

"The more reason," he said, "that the boy should have a protector."

"True," Bassett answered.  "I have thought much of that.  But I hope to
have time yet to place him somewhere where he can follow my craft and
build his own fortunes."

"And you would throw away his advancement for a dream?"

"Is it a dream?" said the carver.  "Believe me, your worship, that,
although you may find it hard to believe, we men of art have our
ambitions as strong in us as in the proudest knight of King Edward's
court.  Hugh has that in him which I have fostered and cherished, and
which I believe will bear fruit hereafter and bring him, or his art,
fame."

"Small profits, I fear me," said Sir Thomas.

"That is like enough.  It may be not even a name.  But something will he
have done, as I believe, for the glory of God and the honour of his
art."

"Well," said the knight, half vexed, "I have made thee a fair offer, and
the rest lies with thyself.  Where go you after the fair?"

"By Friar Nicholas's advice, gentle sir, as far as to Exeter.  He thinks
I may meet with work there and a softer air."

"Since thy father will have nought better, I must find a gift for thee,
boy," said the knight, reining back his horse.  He drew a richly-chased
silver whistle from his breast and threw it to the boy.  "Take good care
of Agrippa; my little Nell would have broken her heart if she had heard
he was gone.  Good day, friend Matthew; good day, Master Carver."

The next moment the little party had clattered away, leaving Hugh with
thanks faltering on his tongue, and Matthew on tip-toe with pride at his
own discernment.

"Never would you have seen your monkey again if I had not collared the
knave," he said.  "Now, there is my cousin Dick, an honest fellow as
ever swung a flail, but with no thought beyond what he can do with fists
and staff; no use of his eyes, no putting two and two together.  I'll
warrant me by the time he reaches the watch he will have forgotten the
words I put into his mouth; and yet they are the very pith of the
matter.  I'll e'en go after him."

He started off, while Bassett and his boy made their way back towards
the church, Hugh ill at ease because, while the pommelling of Peter
seemed a fine thing, his doom to the whipping-post, though no more than
justice, gave him an uneasy feeling.  But his father would hear of no
going to beg him off, and, indeed, it would have been bootless.  Peter's
offence was one for which whipping might be held a merciful punishment--

"And may save him from turning into a cut-purse later on," added
Bassett.

So Agrippa went back to his rafters and met with no more adventures.
The fair ran its usual busy course; the friar came often to talk with
Stephen Bassett and to give Hugh exercises in reading and writing;
while, more rarely, Eleanor and Anne appeared with Mistress Judith--in
great excitement the last time because the next day they were to set
forth for their home.  September was drawing to an end, the weather was
rainy, and Bassett began to make inquiries as to parties who would be
travelling the same road as himself.  Dick-o'-the-Hill was certain that
his cousin Mat would find the right people.  He had implicit faith in
his sagacity, and came with him in triumph one day to announce success.
It seemed that a mercer, his wife, and son were going back to London and
would be glad of company.  And then it came out that Matthew himself was
strongly drawn in the same direction.

"A man," he explained, "is like to have all his wits dulled who sees and
hears none but clodhoppers.  I feel at times as if I were no sharper
than Dickon here.  Now in London the citizens are well to the front.
There is the Alderman-burgh, with the Law Courts and the King's Bench,
there is the Lord Mayor, there is the King's Palace at Westminster and
the great church of St Paul's; much for a man of understanding to see
and meditate upon, Master Bassett, and I have half a mind--"

"Have a whole one, man," cried the carver, heartily; "and I would Dick
would come too."

"Nay, in London I should be no better than an ass between two bundles of
hay," said honest Dick, shaking his head.  "But if Mat goes he will
bring us back a pack of news, and maybe might see the king himself."

It did not take much to give a final push to Matthew's inclination.  He
had neither wife nor child, and, as he confided to Bassett, his bag of
marks would bear a little dipping into.  He bought a horse--or rather
Dick bought it for him--the carver agreeing to pay him a certain sum for
its partial use during their journey to London, and they set out at
last, leaving the fair shorn of its glory.

Folk were travelling in all directions; but London was the goal of the
greater number, and the little knots of traders with one consent, for
fear of cut-purses, kept well within sight of each other.  The road was
not bad, although a course of wet weather might quickly convert it into
a quagmire; and it was easy enough to follow, for one of the king's
precautions against footpads was the clearing away of all brushwood and
undergrowth for a space of two hundred feet on each side of the highway
as well as round the gates of towns.  A great deal of talk passed
between the different groups, for fairs were the very centre of news,
foreign and English, political and commercial, with a strong
under-current of local gossip.  The Hansards, Easterlings, and Lombards
had brought the latest information about the French claims to Gascony,
as well as much trading information from Bruges, which was then the
great seat of commerce; the English merchants discussed the king's wise
and politic measures to promote the unity of the kingdom, a cause which
Edward had much at heart, as necessary not only for the greatness but
the safety of that England for whose good never king toiled more
unselfishly.

It was all deeply interesting to Stephen Bassett, who had left his own
country many years before, and was amazed at the strides civil liberties
had made since that time.  Before this the making and the keeping of
laws had depended upon the fancies of the reigning king, checked or
enlarged as they might be by the barons.  It was Edward the First who
called his Commons to assist in the making of these laws, who summoned
burgesses from the principal towns throughout the kingdom, who required
the consent of the people for Acts proposed in Parliament, and enforced
the keeping of these laws so powerfully that his greatest lords could no
more break them with impunity than the meanest churl.  He set up a fixed
standard of weights and measures.  Up to this time all attempts in this
direction had been failures, and the inconvenience must have been great.
He tried to encourage the growth of towns, freeing them from petty
local restrictions and introducing staples or fixed markets.  Under him
taxation became more general and more even.  He made a survey of the
country yet more important than that of Domesday.  And if that
honourable hold of plighted word was--at any rate until late years--the
proud characteristic of an Englishman, this national virtue, which does
not come by chance any more than does a personal virtue, is owing in no
small degree to the steady and strong example of the great king, who on
his tomb left that bidding to his people--"Pactum serva"--keep covenant.

Hugh, for love of his father, listened as well as he could to the talk;
but he had good play-times as well, for there were many boys and girls
on the road, and, indeed, the mercer with whom they travelled had his
lad of thirteen with him.  Agrippa, held by Dame Edith's silken cord,
was an immense object of interest; the mercer's wife made him a new
little coat of scarlet cloth, and, besides the black rye bread which he
shared with his masters, the children were never tired of bringing him
nuts, costard apples, and spice-nuts, so that he fared well.  He showed
great affection for Hugh, and was never so happy as when on his
shoulder; tolerating Stephen and detesting Matthew.

The hostels were crowded, and the accommodation of the roughest; but it
was always a matter of rejoicing to have got through the day's journey
without encounter of outlaws.  Highway robbery was one of the evils with
which the king had vigorously to contend, and at their last
halting-place the host's wife had such a number of terrible stories at
her fingers' ends as made the more timorous shake in their shoes.  She
discoursed volubly as she brought in an excellent supper, which they ate
with knives, forks being as yet a great luxury.

"Alack-a-day, my masters!" she said.  "I wot that shameful things have
happened on this very road not so long ago.  My lord Abbot from the
neighbouring house, having but one brother with him, was seized and
robbed, and left bound in the ditch.  The thief made off with his
palfrey, and that led to his being taken and hung; but the abbot, holy
man! has scarce recovered from the shock."

One story brings another, and Matthew was seldom behindhand when
anything had to be said.

"Things be better, however, than they were ten years ago.  Then was a
time of riot.  I mind me I had a cousin, living in Boston, when there
came to the gates one night a party of monks wanting room in the
monastery.  Fine monks were these, for, when all honest citizens were in
bed, out they slipped, stripped off their gowns, appeared in doublet and
hose of green, and never trust me, my masters, if these merry men did
not take the town so completely by surprise that they sacked and set
fire to it before they left."

"There, see now!" cried the hostess, lifting up her hands; "and they
might do the same by us now, and we sleeping in our beds like babes!"

"I warrant that was what caused the king to ordain that town gates
should be closed between sunset and sunrise, and makes him so strict in
the matter," said a monk who was seated at table, with a good helping of
a fish called cropling on his trencher.  "Nay, good mistress, look not
mistrustfully on me.  I wear no cassock of green, only that which
belongs to the habit of St Austin, of which I am an unworthy brother."

"There be land pirates and sea pirates," said the little red-faced
mercer, pompously; "both be enemies to an honest man's trade."

"Alack, I know not how any can venture on the seas!" added his wife,
putting her head as much on one side as her stiff gorget would allow.

"There's terrible venturesome folk nowadays," put in the hostess,
pouring out a tankard of ale.

"They do say that ships be going so far as Spain; never will they come
back again, that's certain."  Bassett listened, smiling, to these
doleful conjectures; at the same time, hearing more of the dangers of
the highways made him think with some anxiety of the long journey to
Exeter which lay before them.  His strength had been tried by that now
going on, and he wished it had been earlier in the year, when the days
had been longer and roads better.  But he was naturally hopeful, and,
comforting himself with the thought that on the next day, if all was
well, they would reach London, he listened patiently to much which Hugh
had to tell about his comrades on the road and Agrippa's cleverness
before stretching themselves on the hard pallet which fell to their
share in the common room.

CHAPTER FOUR.

GOD SAVE THE KING!

The last day's journey was a heavy one, owing to the rain which fell
persistently.  All the travellers wore their long pointed hoods, and
carried tall, stout sticks, but their legs were not very well protected
except by thick hose, and Bassett's cough was none the better for the
journey.  He was glad enough when they came near the clusters of houses
or villages which marked the outskirts of London, and saw the mist
hanging over the city which, helped by the moisture from the marshes,
the new use of coal was already beginning to produce.  Matthew was in a
high state of delight.

"Truly something of a city!" he exclaimed, rubbing his hands,
"sheltering within its walls something like forty thousand souls.  A
noble city!  I'll warrant a man of parts might make a name here.  There
are the walls."

The carver was almost too weary to bear Hugh's questionings as to the
Franciscan monastery in Newgate Street where they were to lodge, and
whether the prior might object to the presence of Agrippa.  When they
reached the monastery, indeed, he was so sorely spent that the good
friars at once called one of their number who had studied physic and
consigned Bassett to his care, giving him, moreover, the best room in
the guests' quarters.

It must be said that the monkey was very doubtfully received, indeed he
might probably have been altogether refused, for some of the brethren
looked upon him as an actual imp of Satan, or perhaps Satan himself.
But the prior was of a larger nature, so that Hugh was suffered to take
Agrippa with him into the room he shared with his father.

And here, in spite of his impatience, Bassett was forced to spend a
week, Friar Luke altogether refusing to allow his patient to leave the
room until the cough and pain in his side were subdued.  Had it not been
for his strong longing to reach Exeter and see Hugh started as an
apprentice this would have been a time of peace for the carver.  His
quarters were sunny and cheerful; Friar Luke was a herbalist, and in his
search for healing plants would bring him back what autumn flowers yet
lingered, and talking of them would draw out stores of simple learning.
Agrippa, moreover, somewhat to Friar Luke's discomfiture, had shown a
strong attraction for his master's physician, and would come flying down
from all manner of unexpected places to greet him.  Sometimes the prior
would visit his guest, and, being a man of thought, his presence was a
real delight to Stephen, while the prior was glad to hear the
experiences of a man who had travelled largely and seen something of the
world.  As Stephen grew stronger Friar Luke allowed him to attend the
services in the chapel.

Then Hugh would come in, rosy and excited with his walks with Matthew,
who would see everything, even to the hangings on the Tyburn elms.  They
went to mass at St Paul's, then surrounded by its own walls; they
walked down the grassy spaces of Strand; they looked with some dread at
the round church of the New Temple, and heard tales of the Templars fit
to make the hair stand on end; they passed another day to the village of
Westminster, where was the king's palace and the beautiful abbey,
together with the great hall where Parliament, when it met in London,
assembled.  It amused Hugh very well at first to see the crowds of
suitors who poured up the stairs--those who had some complaints to make,
grievances to be redressed, or petitions to be laid before the Triers.
No hindrance was put in their way; everyone was free to come, each had a
fair hearing.  Outlaws came to beg for pardon, when, if the Triers
thought fit, they were recommended to the king's grace; men and women
sought redress from wrongs inflicted perhaps by the lord of the manor;
jurors who had perverted their office were brought up to receive
judgment--all these lesser matters were as much the business of
Parliament as granting aids to the king for carrying on the wars, and so
fascinated was Matthew with the scene that Hugh was wearied to death of
it before he could drag him away.

He got him out at last, muttering to himself that had he but known how
easy matters were made he would have looked up a case of his own against
the University of Cambridge.  Hugh, stirred by ambition to have to do
with an actual suitor, which was much more exciting than looking on and
listening to matters he did not understand, was for his going back again
at once.  Great was Matthew's indignation at the idea.

"Thou silly oaf!" he said, angrily.  "To go without preparation!"

"They but told a plain story," returned Hugh, sturdily.  "Anyone could
do as much."

"Seest thou not the difference?  They were ignorant men with whom the
Council was wondrous patient, overlooking all their clipped words, and
mercifully stooping to their simpleness.  But for a man of understanding
to put a case matters must be very different.  Fit words must he use,
and just pleadings must he make, and be ready to give good reason.
Their worships know well with whom they have to do.  I will take thee to
the Guildhall one day, and there thou shalt see the lawyers in their
white coifs.  They are no longer monks, as once they were."

"I would liefer go down the river and see the ships," said Hugh wearily.

Matthew, who was really good-natured, yielded to this desire, and they
picked their way along the swampy ground as best they could, and past
the Tower.  The great trade of London, even at this time when commerce
was ever made secondary to politics, was so large that a number of
vessels were in the river.  Strange craft they were and of all shapes
and sizes, the largest resembling nothing so much as a swollen
half-circle, broadening at one end, and coming round so as to form a
sort of shelter, and curving sharply to a point at the bow.  No such
thing as sea charts as yet existed, so that a voyage was a perilous
matter, and, in spite of the Crusades and of the trade with the
Mediterranean, few vessels ventured through the Straits of Gibraltar.
Edward was turning his attention to the navy, and was the first to
appoint admirals, but, so far, England's strength lay altogether in her
army and her famous bowmen, and the sea was no source of power, nor her
sailors famous.

Still, though Matthew professed the greatest contempt for his taste,
Hugh found the river more delightful than the Council Hall, and was for
lingering there as late as he could.  Some of the vessels were
unloading, others embarking corn from the eastern counties, so that
there was much stir and turmoil, and more vessels were in than was
usual, because the time of the autumn equinox was dangerous for sailing.
Children, too, were, as ever, playing about, and one group attracted
Hugh, because in it was a little maid much about the size of little
Eleanor, and with something of her spirited ways.  The boys, her
companions, were rough, and at last one pushed her with such force that
she fell, striking her head violently against a projecting plank.  Hugh
flew to avenge her, but the boys, frightened at seeing her lie
motionless, fled, and Matthew stood growling at the manners of the age.
Hugh, used to sickness, ran to the water's brink, and scooped up a
little water in his two hands.  By the time he had poured it on her face
and raised her head on his knee she opened her brown eyes with a cry of
"Mother!" and the next moment a man in a sailor's dress had leaped
ashore from one of the vessels which were lading close by, had run to
the group and taken her in his arms.

"Art thou hurt, my Moll, and where?"

"Father, 'twas Robin Bolton pushed me."

"Ay, and I wot Robin Bolton shall have a clout on his head when he comes
within my reach.  But there, thou wilt soon be well again.  Thank thee
for thy help," he added, more roughly, to Hugh.

"If you stand in need of a witness," began Matthew, but the sailor
interrupted him--

"Witnesses?  No!  What she stood in need of was water, which thy boy
fetched.  He is quick enough to be a sailor," he added, with a laugh.

"Wilt thou come on a voyage to Dartmouth?"

"I should be frighted on the sea," said Hugh sturdily.

"Nay, it's not so bad, so you fall not in with pirates, which are the
pest of our coasts.  I've been lucky enough to escape them so far.  But
then," he added with a wink, "they know me at Dartmouth, and folk
sometimes tell evil tales of Dartmouth."

He was of a talkative nature, or perhaps thought it well to keep his
Moll quiet on his knee, for he went on to tell them that his wife and
child lived near the spot where they were, while he went on trading
voyages, bringing up Cornish ore from Dartmouth and carrying back other
ladings.  He was very proud of his vessel, and yet prouder of his little
maid, whom it was plain he did his best to spoil; and when he saw that
she had taken a fancy to Hugh, he told him he might come on board his
vessel one day before he sailed.

"Which will be in a week," he said, confidently.  "The storms will be
over by then."

Hugh was glad enough of the bidding, for Matthew, with his love for the
law courts and for all that concerned the State, was but a dry companion
to an eager boy.  He went back to the monastery in high glee, to tell
his father all that he had heard.

Friar Luke was with Stephen, having brought his patient a decoction of
coltsfoot, and also a little bunch of flowers which he was examining
with enthusiastic patience.

"See here," he said, with a sigh, "though in good sooth one needs eyes
of more than human power to examine so minute a structure.  There is a
talk that one of our order, Friar Bacon, who died not many years ago,
could by means of a strange instrument so enlarge distant objects as to
bring them into the range of a man's vision.  I know not.  Many strange
things are told of him, and many of our brethren believe that he had
dealings with the black art.  It might be he was only in advance of us
all.  But while he was about it I would he had taught us how to enlarge
what is near.  And, indeed, there is talk of a magic beryl--"

"Father, father!" cried Hugh, rushing in breathless; "we have been to
the river, and there was a ship, and a little maiden called Moll, and
the master has bid me on board the ship before he sails for Dartmouth."

He poured out the history of the day, standing by his father's knee,
with Agrippa nestling in his arms.  Bassett heard him so thoughtfully
that Hugh began to think he was displeased.

"Mayn't I go?" he asked, tremulously.

"Ay, ay," said his father, absently.  "Friar Luke, tell me truly, do you
still dread for me this journey to Exeter?"

"Rather more than less," answered the friar.

"The fatigue?"

"Ay, fatigue and exposure, but chiefly the fatigue."

"Yet I must go."

"Ay, ay, there is ever a must in the mouth of a wilful man," said the
friar, testily.  "And then you fall sick, and it is the fault of the
leech."

"That it can never be in my case," said the carver, gratefully, "for
never had man a kinder or more skilful.  But I will tell you why I ask.
Hugh's encounter has put into my mind the thought that we might go to
Dartmouth by ship."

"The saints forbid!" said the friar, rapidly crossing himself.  "You
must be mad to think of it, Master Bassett."

"Nay, but why?"

"The dangers, the discomforts!--shoals, rocks, pirates!"

"Dangers there are in all journeys.  The discomforts will no doubt be
great, but put on the other side the fatigue you warn me against."

"You should not go at all," said Friar Luke.  "Remain here where you can
be cared for.  Hugh shall be a serving-boy, and take the habit when he
is old enough."

"Wilt thou, Hugh?" demanded his father.

A vehement shake of the head was his answer.

"Nay, holy friar," said Bassett, with a smile; "I am bending the twig so
far that the strain is great, but your proposal, I fear, would snap it
altogether.  But about our voyage.  I am greatly inclined to Hugh's new
friend.  When does he sail?"

"In a week," said the boy, with some reluctance.  He had not liked the
voyage from Flanders, and this promised to be worse.  Still he felt it
incumbent upon him to show no fear.

"That would do well.  I tell thee what, Hugh, thou shalt ask the master
to come and see me here if he has a mind for another kind of cargo."

With his usual hopefulness, the idea had taken hold of the wood-carver
so strongly that he turned aside all remonstrances, though the prior
himself came up to beg him not to be so foolhardy.  But it was true, as
Bassett maintained, that each kind of travelling had its dangers, and,
if the sea offered the most, he felt a sick man's longing to be spared
trouble, and a feverish desire for the salt breezes.  Matthew, too,
thought it philosophical to be above listening to the tales of
sea-perils which the brethren related, it need hardly be said, at
second-hand; but it must be owned that he showed no desire to extend his
own travels so far as Exeter.  Hugh went down the next day and talked to
the master, who at first shook his head.

"Two landsmen on board?  Where could we stow ye?  And if we met with
rough weather we should have you crying upon all the saints in the
calendar.  A sick man, too!  How could he put up with our rough fare?"

"My father does not get frighted," said Hugh, indignantly, though
pleased to be counted a landsman.

"Thou art a sturdy little varlet," said the master, looking at him
approvingly.  "If my Moll had been a boy, I should have been content had
he likened thee.  But I would not have her other than she is, and thou
wast good to her the other day.  I'll come and see thy father, and if he
is a good, honest man, and none of your dandy long-toed fops, he and
thou shalt have a passage to Dartmouth."

The next day was Sunday, and, to the scandal of the grey friars, Matthew
insisted upon taking Hugh to St Bartholomew in Smithfield, the noble
Norman church of the Augustinian friars.  There was a good deal of
jealousy between the orders, and each was ready enough to listen to or
to repeat tales which told to the discredit of the others; so that, as
Matthew said, black, white, and grey, each held their colour to be the
only one in which a friar might travel to heaven.  Mass being over at
St Bartholomew's they went to great St Paul's.

This was in that day a splendid Gothic church, twice as big as the
present building, and with a dazzling high altar.  But, in spite of its
magnificence, and perhaps partly on account of its size, it was a
notorious haunt of cut-purses and brawlers, and all manner of crimes
were committed in the church; so that a few years before the king had
given the Chapter leave to surround it with walls and gates, treating it
indeed as a town, and keeping out suspicious characters.

By this means matters had mended a little, but there was still a great
deal of unseemly conduct which caused scandal to the more devout.  Hugh
came back to the monastery bursting with all he had to tell, and he was
beyond measure delighted when his father said he would himself go out
the next day.

Before the sun had mounted high enough for Friar Luke to allow this the
master of the _Queen Maud_ arrived, and Stephen saw a sturdy, sunburnt
man, with an open countenance, blue-eyed, light-haired, wearing a
garment of coarse cloth which reached to his knees, who looked as uneasy
at finding himself in a monastery as a freshly-trapped pony from his own
wilds of Dartmoor might have looked in a walled town.  His discomfort
made him surly, so that he gave the carver no encouragement for the
voyage.

"Hard living and a perilous life, my master."

"That does not affright me."

"Because you know it not," said the other, impatiently.  "Here you sit
in a drone's hive and hear the winds blow outside, and have no fear.
With a plank for your wall you would tell a different tale."

"I have tried the plank," said Bassett, with a smile.  "Though, as you
say, Master Shipman, we know not other's lives till we try them, and
maybe you, if you lived here, would think more kindly of what you call a
drone's hive."

"The Church and the Pope swallow up all a poor man's savings," said the
sailor, less gruffly.  "'Tis nothing but fresh taxes, and these Lombard
usurers are every whit as bad as the Jews.  I would the king could make
as clean a sweep of them.  To make money without working for it is a sin
and a shame."

"The king does what he can."

"Ay, does he," said the other, heartily.  "He is the poor man's friend."

"Truly."

The sailor looked at him.  "Why, then," he said, "if thou lovest King
Edward--"

"No question of that."

"E'en come along with us.  I am but taking down some bales of cloth and
of silk, and as thou mindest not a rough life, and I have a fancy for
thy boy, we may perchance rub along together."

So it was settled, and, in spite of the friar's forebodings, Stephen
Bassett thought of his venture with an excellent heart.  Hugh was
naturally fearless, and, though the sea was a great object of dread in
those times, he believed his father knew best, and began to look forward
also.  But first he would have Bassett come forth for his promised walk,
and without Matthew.

"He has been very good to thee," said the carver reproachfully.

"Ay, but he has always something to say against everything.  This might
be better, or that couldn't be worse.  I believe he would find fault
with King Edward himself."

"Poor Matthew!  He has the critical spirit," said Stephen, smiling.

"Is that what makes him so thin?" demanded Hugh, innocently.

"Ay.  It often works that way, and is bad for the owner.  Nevertheless,
it has its advantages.  Look at that bowl.  If I listened to the good
brothers I should deem it perfect; but when Matthew says, `Hum--I know
not--is there not something lacking?'  I begin to search for a way of
bettering it, and presently find that he was right.  So his
fault-finding does me a better service than all their praise.  Keep that
in mind, Hugh.  Now we will forth.  I will buy some cloth and take it to
one of the tailors' guild, that you may have a cloak for rough weather
like mine."

This was a delightful errand, and when it was ended Stephen had not the
heart to refuse Hugh when he begged that he would try to go towards St
Paul's and see the noble church.  The boy was very happy in acting as
showman, pointing out the beautiful spire while they were yet at some
distance.  He had begged to bring Agrippa, promising to keep him covered
by a piece of cloth, and the monkey was sufficiently alarmed by the
strange noises and cries in the street to keep quiet.  Hugh found it a
rare opportunity to ask questions which Matthew had been either unable
or unwilling to answer.

"Look, father, look quickly!  There is a woman with bread in her
panniers!  What is she doing?"

"I have heard of her," said Stephen, stopping.  "Friar Luke told me
that, instead of folk being forced to fetch the daily bread from the
bakers, there was now a woman who had got leave to take it round from
house to house.  She has the thirteenth loaf for her pains.  Truly
there's no knowing to what a pitch of luxury we may come!  Are we nearly
at our journey's end, Hugh?  My legs have fallen out of the way of
walking, and are true sluggards."

He was in truth standing somewhat exhausted in the road under one of the
black-timbered houses in Ludgate Hill, when a small cavalcade of knights
and squires, some in armour, some in the scarlet cloaks of the
Hospitallers, came sharply round the corner, so sharply, indeed, that in
the narrow road one of the squires' horses struck Stephen and sent him
staggering against the wall.

The party reined up at once.  Hugh had uttered a cry and sprung to his
father's side, dropping the monkey as he stretched out his arms.  Half a
dozen men-at-arms crowded round; one of the red-cloaked knights leaped
from his horse, but they all drew back before one who seemed the
principal knight, a man of great stature, with brown hair and thick
beard, and gravely searching blue eyes.

"Is he hurt?" he demanded.  "That is your squire's rough riding, Sir
John de Lacy."

"My liege, 'twas but a touch," urged an older knight.  "I saw it all.
He can scarce be hurt."  Stephen, indeed, had well-nigh recovered
himself, though dizzy with the shock, and scarcely knowing what had
happened or why he was surrounded by horsemen.  Hugh, seeing him
revived, stared at the group with all his might, while the monkey,
frightened to death at the horses, had run up a projection of the house
and perched himself upon a carved wooden balcony, from which he scolded
and chattered.

"It is nothing, I am not hurt," faltered Stephen; and then the colour
rushed back to his white face, and he bent his knee hastily.  "My Lord
the King," he stammered, "is it not?"

"Ay," said Edward, with one of his rare kindly smiles; "but it was not I
who rode over thee.  Art thou not hurt?"

"Nay, my liege, it is but that I have been ill.  It was no more than a
touch."

It had all passed quickly, but a knot of bystanders had by this time
collected, kept off by the men-at-arms.

"He speaks truly, my lord," said one of the Hospitallers who had
dismounted.  "He has not been hurt by the horse, but--"

He paused significantly, and Edward glanced at Hugh.  "Come hither,
boy."

So Hugh, crimson with wonder and delight, stood by the king's horse, and
answered his questions as firmly as he could.  His father was a
wood-carver.  They were going to Exeter to seek work--by ship, as he
took care to state; and meanwhile, because father had been so ill, they
were lodging at the Franciscan monastery in Newgate Street.

"And is that thy beast?" asked the king, whose quick eye had caught
sight of the monkey between the carved work of the balcony.  "How wilt
thou catch him?  Let us see."

Hugh promptly stood under the balcony, opened his arms, and uttered a
call, to which Agrippa responded, though fearfully, by swinging down by
tail and hands and dropping into his master's arms.

"Well climbed indeed," said Edward; and seeing that Stephen was in some
degree recovered, he bade one of the men-at-arms lend him his horse and
go with him to the convent.  "And here is a gold piece for thee, boy--
for remembrance," he added, tossing him the coin as he moved off.

"And a silver one for the monkey," said a young knight, with a merry
laugh, stooping to offer the mark to Agrippa, who cleverly clutched it,
and then trotting after the king.

All had passed so quickly that Hugh scarcely knew where he was or what
had happened.  He stood staring at the gold noble in his hand, while the
bystanders closed up curiously, and one rough fellow, who looked as if
he had been drinking, made as though he would have snatched it from his
hand.  A fat monk, with a red good-natured face, hit the fellow a sound
buffet; the crowd laughed, and the man-at-arms made haste to get Bassett
on his horse, and to hurry his charges away, the king being always
roused to anger by any brawling in the streets.

"Keep close to me," he said to Hugh; "and give thy money to thy father.
Now, where are we bound?  The Grey Friars?  I warrant me they brew good
ale there, and supper-time is nigh enough to make a tankard right
welcome."

"And that was the king," said Hugh, drawing a deep breath.

"Ay, the king.  What thinkest thou of him?"

"I would I could fight for him," burst out the boy.

"Why, so thou shalt!" said Hob Trueman, with a laugh.  "Eat good beef,
and drink good ale, and grow up a lusty yeoman.  The king's a good
master, I have nought to say against him--saving that he is somewhat
over strict," he added, with qualifying remembrance.  "We should be near
by this time--"

That night, before lying down in the wooden crib which served for bed,
Stephen Bassett called his boy.

"Hugh, thou hast not forgotten thy promise," he said anxiously.

"No, father;" in a low voice.

"Fight for the king thou must, or be ready to fight.  That is the law
for all Englishmen.  Does not that content thee?"

Silence.  Then--"I should like to be near him, to be one of the
men-at-arms."

Bassett sighed.

"I cannot yield to thee, Hugh."

"No, father."

"And I have no breath for talking to-night.  We will speak of it again."

CHAPTER FIVE.

THE VOYAGE, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.

Stephen Bassett was not the better for that day's work, though the
accident was too slight to have harmed a man in fair health, and it made
a sound reason for Friar Luke to urge upon him that he should give up
his wild project of going west in the _Queen Maud_.  But the carver was,
if possible, only the more bent upon the scheme.  He wanted to get Hugh
out of London, where was more stir of arms and rumour of wars than in
the shires, and have him safely bound apprentice where there should be
no withdrawing.

"He will not fail me, poor little lad," he said; "but were I to be taken
from him here his task would be ten times harder.  Besides, I see no
opening for him except what the good brothers offer, which he would hate
worst of all."

So he kept the tales of his aches and weakness to himself as much as he
could, though it cost him not a little to avoid Friar Luke's reproachful
eye when he came in from the garden with his herbs; and, armed with a
letter from the prior--written in Latin on a strip of vellum--to the
head of the Franciscans in Exeter, and accompanied to the water's edge
by several of the brethren, and a hospitable store of provisions with
which they insisted on supplying them, the little party and their gear
got safely on board the vessel, and would go down the river by the next
tide.  Little Moll and her mother were there, which made it seem more
friendly to poor Hugh, who looked about him with dismay, and had had all
possible mischances put before him by the friars, who thought Bassett's
action nothing less than flying in the face of Providence.

Still, when the farewells had all been spoken, the cumbersome anchor
dragged out of the mud, and the great square sail with its sprawling
centre device rigged up, they went merrily down the river.  It was
getting towards the middle of October, and the great buildings of
London, the Abbey of Westminster, the Church of the Templars, the Gothic
spire of St Paul's, the Tower, and various beautiful conventual
buildings, stood, mostly surrounded by fine trees, in all the glory of
autumnal gold and red.  The lesser buildings--the very hovels--were
picturesque, the river ran clear and strong, the vessels flaunted bright
sails, colour was everywhere, and the soft blue mists but made a fair
background for the scene.

Stephen Bassett stood watching, with a feeling that it was for the last
time, when Andrew the ship-master joined him.

"A fair prospect," said the carver.

"Ay, though I love my red Devon hills better.  But, tell me, master, is
it true, as thy boy relates, that you met King Edward yesterday and
spoke with him?"

"I said not much, I had no breath left in my body," said Stephen,
smiling; "but it is true that the king spoke to us, chiefly to Hugh, and
was very gracious."

"To think of that!" said the sailor, staring.  He walked away, but after
this it was evident that his respect for his passengers was mightily
increased, and he seldom came near Stephen without putting some question
as to how the king looked and spoke, while Hugh had the same to answer
from them all--more, indeed, since he never tired of the subject, and
his pride in it was immense.  His father had sewn his gold piece into
the lining of his vest; Hugh never intended to spend it, it was for
"remembrance," as he was never tired of telling his father; and Stephen
used laughingly to inquire whether Hugh had begun to persuade himself
that he had been the hero of some courageous adventure, for reward of
which the king had bestowed the token upon him?  The boy used to redden
at this, for there was a certain truth in the jest, and finding himself
listened to with such interest by the sailors was like to turn his head.

Fortunately, as usual, there was a depreciating element.  The youngest
on board was a round-shouldered somewhat misshapen lad of seventeen,
ill-favoured in temper as well as face, unpopular among his mates,
except for one gift, that of storytelling.  He could relate or invent
tales with amazing ease, and on days when there was an idle calm the
men, who at other times knocked him about roughly, would listen
spell-bound for hours.  This was his moment of glory.

But on this voyage his power seemed gone.  The real explanation was very
simple: the wind had shifted so as to follow them favourably, they had
got safely round the dangerous Goodwins, and swept down the Channel past
Dover, its castle and old British church standing out sharply above the
white cliffs, while the setting sun shone like fire on the great sail of
the vessel.  They cast anchor in the first convenient creek; this
required care and labour with the oars to avoid shoals, and the men were
too sleepy afterwards to listen to stories.  So it went on; the breeze
blew freshly from the east, Stephen, crouched under what shelter the
stern could afford, shivered, but Andrew the master rubbed his hands,
and there was no slackening sail or delay.

This was really the reason why the sailors would not listen to the boy
Jakes, but he chose to lay it to Hugh's charge.

"Young fool," he muttered, "always boasting, and telling about the king,
I wonder they hearken!"

Such spite as he could work he was not slow to show.  Many rough
practical jokes he played, which Stephen counselled his boy to receive
good-humouredly.  But Hugh was set up with his Ludgate Hill adventure
and the notice it had brought him, so that it made him mad to be jeered
at for feeling sea-sick, or tripped up over ropes, or brought to the
ground when he imagined himself to be sitting on something solid.  Jakes
was afraid of Agrippa, never having seen a monkey before, and fully
sharing the idea that here was something uncanny, which was quite able
to revenge itself if any harm was attempted.  Jakes, therefore, let him
alone, and even preferred to play his malicious jokes upon Hugh when the
monkey had climbed the ropes and was out of reach and sight.

The voyage had on the whole been a success, and the _Queen Maud_ was at
length coasting along under the white cliffs of Dorsetshire, with the
red ones of Devon lying rich and soft against a blue grey sky before
them, and the sea leaping and whitening under the easterly wind.

"Strange that it should blow so long at this season," said the master,
standing by Bassett and looking forwards.

"If it goes on, we may get in to-morrow night?"

"Ay, if it doesn't freshen into a gale, which the saints forbid!  I mind
not a gale in my teeth, but rocks before and the wind driving behind is
what I mislike.  Methinks, master," he added, abruptly, "it will be well
for you to get to your journey's end."

"I have a longer before me," said Stephen, with a smile.

"Ay, to Exeter," answered Andrew, misunderstanding, "and I have been
thinking I would put you ashore at Teignmouth, and save you a piece of
your journey.  I might try Exmouth, but--there are ill tales of Exmouth,
as I told you there were of Dartmouth," he added, with a laugh; "at
Dartmouth they know me, but at Exmouth--there might by chance be a
mistake."

Stephen thanked him heartily, saying, and truly, that the shortening of
the road would be a great gain.  They put in that night at a small
harbour formed for the convenience of coasting vessels, but though their
start was made with the first glimmer of dawn, Jakes, who generally had
to be aroused by a rope's end or a kick, had been on shore, and came
back carrying a bag and grinning from ear to ear, so that Hugh was
forced to ask him what he had got.

"Apples," he said, still grinning; "rare fine apples.  Bide a bit, and
shalt have one."

Hugh, who loved apples as well as any boy with a wholesome appetite
should do, kept an eye on Jakes and his promise without suspecting that
there might be anything unfriendly in this sudden change of disposition.
The wind had freshened, of that there could be no doubt, and the
sailors were busy with the lumbering sail, when Jakes beckoned Hugh
forward to the bow, where was the bag.

"Put in thy hand and pull'm out, quick!" he said, running back to his
work; and, thinking no harm, Hugh thrust in boldly, to have his fingers
instantly seized in a nip which made him feel as if by the next moment
they would be all left behind in the bag.

He cried out lustily, and dragged out his hand, to which a fine
blue-black lobster was hanging, a creature at least as strange to Hugh
as the monkey was to Jakes.  The more he shook the tighter the lobster
pinched, and when one of the sailors looked round the sail he could do
nothing but split his sides with laughing.  Hugh, crimson with pain and
fright, was dancing about, vainly trying to disengage his hand.  Jakes,
the next to appear, broke into uproarious merriment.

"Ha, ha, ha!" he yelled, "told him there were apples in the bag, and he
went for to steal 'em!  Serve him right, serve him right!  How like you
your apples, my master?"

The buffeting of the wind in the sail and the rising noise of the sea
had kept much of this from Stephen, but he at last became conscious that
something unusual was going on, and made his way to the bows.

"Father!" cried poor Hugh, flying to him.

"Why, my little lad!" said Bassett, unable himself to avoid a smile,
"what coil have you got into?"

"What is it?" demanded the boy, in a shamefaced whisper, as his father
proceeded quietly to loosen the great claws.

"A lobster.  Didst never see his like?  He will be a dainty morsel for
supper, and will change his blue coat for a scarlet.  There," he added,
as he finished his task, "I counsel Agrippa not to let his curiosity
jeopardise his tail.  But how did he fasten on you?"

"It was that wicked Jakes!" cried Hugh, with flashing eyes.

"Were a stealing my apples," Jakes retorted, defiantly.  "Told him there
was apples in the bag, and he put in his hand and the lobster caught
un."  And clapping his unshapely hands on his knees, he roared with
laughter once more, until he bent himself double.  Hugh flew at him like
a tiger, but the other sailor pulled him off.

"Never heed the great lozel," he said.  "It was but an apple."

"He told me--he told me to put in my hand and take one out," panted
Hugh, struggling with his captor.  "He's a false liar!"

"Softly, Hugh, softly," said his father gravely.

Jakes was for telling his story again with fresh detail, when the
master's voice was heard calling angrily.  Stephen got Hugh back into
shelter, and Agrippa, frightened by the creaking of the mast and the
straining of ropes, clambered down to take refuge in his master's arms.
Hugh's face was like a thunder-cloud.  He burst out presently--

"To call me a thief!"

Stephen was silent.

"If Dickon had left me alone, I would have made him own it was a false
lie.  I would I were a man!"

"Why?"

"I should be strong and could fight," the boy said, surprised at the
question.

"I often think of that time," returned Bassett thoughtfully.  "I may not
be here to see it, and I would fain know--" He paused.

"What?" asked Hugh.

"Who thou wilt fight?"

"Who?  Mine enemies," said Hugh, lifting his head.

"If you know them."

"I shall know them, because they will try to do me a mischief.  Jakes--
he is an enemy," fiercely.

"Thou hast worse than Jakes, my poor little lad," Stephen said,
tenderly, "and nearer at hand.  Thine own passions will truly do thee a
mischief, except thou keep them under.  There's fighting ground for
thee.  And, see here, I have long meant to say something to thee about
King Edward, only I have an ill-trick of putting off.  Thou thinkest the
only way of serving him is by hard blows.  He himself would tell thee
that there be better ways.  Serve the State faithfully as a peaceful
citizen, keep the laws, and work for the glory of God and the honour of
England.  He would tell thee more.  That his hardest work of government
has been the task of governing himself.  That is what has made him a
great king.  It seems small to thee just now, but one day, my Hugh, my
words may come back."

A fit of coughing stopped him.  Hugh's ill-temper had had a little
cooling time, but it had not by any means left him.  It was not the
pain, perhaps it was not even so much the being called a thief, for no
one on board was like to listen much to Jakes, and as for his father he
had not even cared to allude to the absurd accusation.  What Hugh really
so much hated was the being laughed at.  He had heard the men roaring
with merriment after Dickon joined them, even his father had laughed; it
would be for ever a sort of standing joke.  What turned his thoughts
more than anything was the weather.  Anyone could see how much the wind
had strengthened since they put out to sea.  The colours, which had been
clear and distinct, now had become blurred; a wet mist, not yet rain,
but near it, was driving up from the southeast; the waves had grown
larger and rushed past them in wild hurly-burly; the air was full of
noisy tumult; the clumsy vessel groaned and laboured on her way, and
Stephen and Hugh could not find shelter enough to protect them from the
clouds of spray which swept across the vessel.

Andrew, the master, was too closely occupied with his work to come near
them; he shouted directions to the man who was steering, but kept by the
sail, and Bassett knew enough of the sea to suspect that they were in a
position of some peril.  For himself he thought it mattered little.  He
knew that he was even more ill than he outwardly appeared, and the
wetting under which he was shivering was likely to quicken matters.  But
for Hugh?  He could resign himself, it was a far harder matter to resign
this young life, so full of vigorous promise--to give up with him all
the hopes in which he had indulged of fame to come to his name, though
not in his life.  He had dreamt of late much of this; had pictured Hugh
leaping to eminence, leaving his mark as a stone-carver in some
beautiful cathedral, where age after age his work should stand, and when
men asked who had done this great thing, the answer would be--Hugh
Bassett.  Was it all to end in an unknown grave under the grey waters
which leaped so wildly round their prey?

Every half-hour the storm seemed to increase in fury.  The shores on
either side were now blotted out, and the steering was a matter of great
difficulty.  Andrew took it himself for a time, but his quick eye and
steady courage were needed for the look-out, and he went forward again
until he gave orders to strike sail.  Then he once more came back and
stood near Bassett and Hugh, looking as undaunted as ever.  But when he
spoke they could scarce hear his voice for the turmoil of the sea.

"Rough weather, goodman!"

"Ay!  Will the boat hold?"

Andrew, who had stooped down to catch the carver's words, straightened
himself with a laugh.

"Ay, ay, the boat will hold.  No fear of her failing.  But where she
will carry us I would I could say so certainly.  Thou wouldst fain be
back in the drones' hive hearkening to book and bell, eh?"

"I am right glad to be remembered in the good brothers' prayers," said
Stephen, quietly.

"Well, it may be as you say.  Those I have known--I would not have given
a base pollard for the pardon-mongers' prayers; but there are false
loons in every craft."

They were silent again, for their voices were pretty well stormed down,
and the sea broke so fiercely over the vessel that two or three of the
men had to be constantly baling it out.  Still she held her way
gallantly.  The shipmen of that day were not without an imperfect form
of compass, in which the needle was laid upon a couple of straws in a
vessel of water, but these contrivances were apt to get out of gear at
the very time when they were most needed, such as a storm like that now
raging round the _Queen Maud_, and hardy sailors trusted rather to their
own skill and courage or their knowledge of the coast.  Nothing was,
therefore, so dangerous as fog or mist.

To Hugh, however, what seemed most terrible was the wild driving storm
and the rush of the waves against the boat, which shivered under each
stroke as if she had received a mortal blow.  Agrippa, wet and
miserable, cowered in his master's arms, and turned up a piteous little
wrinkled face full of inquiry.  Hugh crept closer to his father, and at
last put his question--

"Shall we be drowned?"

Stephen turned and caught his hands in his.

"Nay, my little lad, I know not, I know not!  I should not have brought
thee!"

The boy looked in his face gallantly.

"I am not frightened," he said, "only I wish poor Agrippa were safe."

They were silent again after this.  Andrew was evidently uneasy; he
shouted orders to the sailors, and strained his eyes through the
baffling mist as if he feared what might be in advance of him.  His
hope, and it was a feeble one, consisted in the chance that he might
strike the estuary of the Teign, avoiding the bar, and, as the tide
would be full, getting into the shelter of the river.  He was one of the
most skilful of the sailors of the west, knowing all the currents and
dangers thoroughly; but navigation was then in its infancy, and vessels
were clumsy, lumbering things, suited but to calm weather, when they
would coast along from creek to creek.  The bolder craft chiefly
belonged to pirates.  Still, England was beginning to awake to her sea
powers, and Henry the Third had taken the title of Ruler of the Seas in
honour of a victory gained over the Spaniards.  Andrew himself had been
down as far as Spain, and was held to be over-daring; moreover, he
wanted to hasten his voyage and get back to his wife and to Moll,
otherwise he would hardly have put out that morning in the teeth of a
possible gale.

And now, although nothing was to be seen except perhaps what seemed like
a thickening of the mist, Stephen knew from the master's face that the
danger was worse.  He was so numb and cold himself as to feel
indifferent to his own fate--besides, as he reflected, at the most it
was but shortening his life by a month or two--but his love for Hugh
went up in a yearning cry that he might be saved.  He touched him, and
made the boy put his ear close to his mouth.

"See here, Hugh," he said, with labouring breath, "if you are spared out
of this coil thou must make thy way to Exeter.  The Franciscans will
take thee in at first, but thou must seek out James Alwyn.  I mind me
that was the name of thy mother's cousin.  Get him to apprentice thee
where thou canst learn thy trade.  Thou hast it in thee--do not forget."

"No, father," said poor little Hugh, glancing fearfully round.

It was but a minute after that, or so it seemed, that they heard a cry
from one of the sailors.  The wall of mist had suddenly become solid; it
loomed before them in unmistakable cliffs, so near that the man who was
steering dropped the rudder and fell upon his knees.  With a cry of rage
Andrew leaped back from the bows, seized the rudder, and using all his
strength forced her head somewhat round.  It was a strange sight, this
struggle of the man with the elements.  The man standing undaunted in
the midst of a hurly-burly which threatened quick death, facing his
danger without flinching, resolute, bent upon snatching every advantage
which skill could give him.  That the vessel was drifting against the
wall of red rock before them was plain; Stephen, clutching Hugh in his
arms, wondered that the master should hope to avert it.  Suddenly he saw
Andrew's face change.  He set his teeth, and slackening the rudder drove
straight for the cliffs.

There was a breathless pause; the next minute the vessel struck a small
sandy beach, driven up it and wedged there by the uplifting force of the
waves.  The master's keen eye had noted the one comparative chance of
safety, and had tried for it.  Almost as the ship touched the sailors
sprang forward and leaped into the sea.  Only Andrew, Bassett, Hugh and
Agrippa remained on board.

CHAPTER SIX.

A WEARY JOURNEY.

The first sensation had been one of deliverance.  The second was more
like despair.

The waves breaking against rocks and shore looked more terrible than out
in the open sea, and this sudden rush for safety on the part of the men
had something about it so cowardly that it produced in Stephen a
wretched sense of desolation.  He supposed that in another moment Andrew
would have followed his fellow sailors, and they would be left alone.
Andrew had in fact rushed to the bows as the men leaped over, and
Stephen, bitter in spirit at such a cruel desertion, strained his boy in
his arms so that, if he could do no more, he might at least hide death
from him.

He almost started when he heard a voice.  The master was standing over
him with a face full of rage.

"The cowardly loons!" he cried; "I would the waves had choked them!  No
Devon man would have played such a trick.  I knew they were helpless
oafs, but to save their skins like that!  If they had stopped it would
have been easy enough, but now we must think how to get thee on shore."
Stephen sprang up.

"Think not on me.  My life is nothing.  Save Hugh, and I ask no more."

Andrew stared at him and began to laugh.

"Prithee, dost thou suppose I should leave thee here to drown?  Why one
of thy precious drones' hive would scarce be so unmanly, though, in
truth, I can say nought against them after those base knaves of mine.
But now, see here, if I fasten a rope round the mast--which will hold
yet awhile--and go ashore with the other end, canst thou find thy way?"

"The boy first."

"Ay, the boy first, and the monkey with him, if the beast has the sense
to hold on.  Thou wilt want both hands for thyself, Hugh."

"I will tie him to me," cried the boy, hopefully.  His hopes had risen
with Andrew's cheerfulness, and as for Bassett, with the revulsion of
feeling, a new and extraordinary strength seemed to have come to him; he
helped the master to fasten the rope securely, and stood, unheeding the
buffet of wind and waves, watching the sailor when he had cast himself
into the sea, and was fighting his way towards the shore.  Once or twice
he was sucked back by the retreating water and nigh overwhelmed, and the
time seemed endless before they made out that he had gained a footing,
and was with the other men on the beach.  His shout only faintly touched
their ears.

"Now, Hugh," said Bassett firmly.

They had bound poor Agrippa as closely to him as they could, while round
his own neck the carver had disposed a bag with money and such small
specimens of his workmanship as were portable.  His tools he was
reluctantly obliged to leave behind him; his breathing could bear no
further weight.

"Thou wilt be sorely scratched by Agrippa," he said.  He was so hopeful
he could smile.  But the monkey was so cowed that he only clung closely,
turning his head piteously from side to side, and realising that
something terrible was about to happen.  Hugh bore himself manfully.

One or two of the sailors who had escaped, finding themselves safe, were
ready to help Andrew with the rope, and though the boy was half choked
and sorely beaten by the waves, he held on, reaching the shore after a
tremendous tussle, by the end of which he was so spent that he fancied
he must drop, when he felt himself clutched by Andrew and drawn through
the remaining waves.  He lay for a time exhausted on the beach; but life
was young and strong in him, and he staggered to his feet, tried to
comfort and warm the poor monkey, and to watch for his father's coming.

Andrew had scarcely thought that Bassett would have the strength to bear
the passage through the surf.  It relieved him greatly to find that the
carver was slowly nearing the shore.  Now and then he disappeared under
the crest of a great wave, but he always reappeared, holding on with a
tenacity which was little less than miraculous.  Andrew, though even his
strength was pretty well spent, again cast himself into the sea to help
him in his last struggle, and the carver by his aid managed to reach the
shore, but in so terrible a plight that Hugh cried out and flung himself
by his side.

And now a very dreadful thing happened, for, as Stephen lay there like a
log and Hugh knelt calling on him to look up, the waves, which had but
just had their prey snatched from them, as if they meant to show that in
another case they had had their way, brought up something large and dark
and motionless, and flung it at their very feet; and while Hugh,
scarcely recognising what it was, yet shrank from it as from some
fearful thing, two of the men ran hastily down and seized and dragged it
beyond the water's reach.  Hugh caught the face then, and gave a cry of
horror; it was the boy Jakes--dead.

He must have swooned after this, for when he came to himself again he
was lying higher up, at the mouth of a small natural cave formed in the
sandstone rock.  His father sat by him, and in the cave a fire of
brushwood had been lit, close to which crouched Agrippa, munching black
rye bread soaked in sea water, and jabbering with satisfaction.

"Father," said the boy, sitting up and rubbing his eyes, "are we safe?"

"Saved by a miracle, my little lad."

"But Jakes--his face--what was it!"

"He was drowned," said Bassett, gravely; "he never got to land with the
others.  Eat some of this bread; I had it in my pocket."

"Is anyone else drowned?" asked Hugh, shuddering.

"No, thank Heaven!  And the master has gone off to see if perchance
there might be some hut or cottage near where we can get lodging for the
night and means of reaching Exeter."

"Father, you must be spent.  Think no more of me.  Sit by the fire, and
take off your clothes to dry."

Hugh was almost himself again, although evidently deeply shocked at the
death of Jakes, and with the burden on him of remorse for unkind
thoughts which is hard to bear.  But fire and food comforted them all in
some measure, and Andrew came back before long to tell them that he had
been lucky enough to reach a serf's hut not far away, where they could
at least find shelter, with hope of a horse.

"You have done everything for us, and have lost more than any," said
Bassett, gratefully.

"Nay, I know not what I have lost yet," returned the sailor.  "The bales
of silk and woollen are spoiled; no hope for them.  But maybe, if the
gale goes down, I may have my boat again.  I can put up with the rest."

When they had rested awhile they made their way up through a sort of
gully piercing the red cliffs.  This same redstone amazed Hugh, for the
pools of rain were crimson to look at, and he had never seen anything
like it before.  But glad enough he was to turn his back on the wild
sea.

"I hate it!  I would I might never see it again."

"Thou wouldst be a poor crusader," panted Stephen, whose breath was
sorely tried by the ascent.

They stumbled on through tussocks of grass until they reached the top,
where trees grew thickly, though somewhat one-sided and windblown with
south-west gales.  Andrew was not with them, but he had directed them
fully, and they soon came upon a rough hovel, built of a mixture of mud
and straw called cob, and coarsely thatched.  A wild-looking herd and a
wilder-looking woman stared at them from the doorway; but though uncouth
they were not unkindly, and had got a fire of logs burning, together
with bread and bacon and a large tankard of cider on the table.

As usual, the monkey caused the greatest astonishment, and Hugh dared
not loosen his hold of him because of a sheep-dog, who growled angrily
at the strange party.  The other sailors were already there, eating and
drinking and drying their clothes, and presently Andrew came in.  He was
very short and surly with the men, though, as he told Stephen
afterwards, unable to cast them off altogether, as he would willingly
have done, because, if there were a chance of saving the boat, he would
need their help in getting her off and in sailing her.  All depended
upon the abatement of the gale.  If the wind went down with the tide
there was a chance of floating her in calmer weather and of repairing
damages.  She was strongly built, and, so far, showed no signs of
breaking up.

To Hugh's eyes his father seemed scarcely worse or more feeble than he
had often been before.  He was very pale it is true, his breathing was
laboured, and he had a short, sharp cough, which scarcely ceased; but he
was keen to push on, and would not rest until he had urged the herd to
go that evening to the sheep-farm where he worked, and where he thought
a horse might be bought.  They were, as Stephen ascertained, not more
than fifteen or sixteen miles from Exeter, the spot where they were
wrecked being a little north of the mouth of the Teign; and this he was
feverishly anxious to declare they could ride in a day.  A strong horse
could easily carry two; it was madness for him to think of remaining
where he was for rest, since if he became worse there was no means of
procuring a leech.

"E'en go thy way," said Andrew, half angrily, half sadly, for he had
done enough for his passengers to feel a sincere liking for them.

The hut, as usual, consisted of but one smoky room, in which they all
bestowed themselves for the night.  Andrew saw that Stephen had the best
of the miserable accommodation; but little rest came to him owing to the
constant torment of his cough, and he was up as soon as the sailor and
out in the air, though not strong enough to go down to the cove.  But
what a change was there since the former night!  The wind had shifted to
the south-west, and blew as softly as if it had never known violence.
The sun, though not yet showing much face through misty grey clouds,
filled the air with delightful promise.  All the land colouring was rich
and varied, for the trees, though shaken by the past storm, were in
their fullest and most gorgeous autumnal colouring, and the deep red of
the soil, the vivid green of the grass, and the brown of the bracken
made a splendid harmony of tint.

The sailors followed the master to the cove; the herd went off to his
work, promising that the horse should come when the morning was a little
advanced, after the nine o'clock dinner; the wife made much of Hugh; and
Stephen, looking and feeling wretchedly ill, tried to wear off his
restlessness by wandering towards the edge of the cliff, but his
strength giving out he was forced to crawl back and sit quiet.  The
horse arrived, and proved a strong, serviceable beast.

Stephen could scarce touch the coarse food, being too feverish.  Andrew
came up quite hopeful, and laden with the carver's tools and other
possessions, which, though somewhat marred by the salt water, he was
thankful to see again.  The woman of the house dried the clothes; all
the gear was securely strapped on the horse, and then came the
farewells.  The master would not consent to receive a penny for the cost
of the voyage.

"Nay," he said, "we feasted on the grey brothers' good cheer, and, by my
troth, I shall never have the heart to call it a drones' hive again.
One of these days Moll and I will go and have speech with Friar Luke,
and let him know what befell.  Nay, I tell you, I can be obstinate too,
though with no hope of evening thy powers in that matter.  Wonderful it
is that so little mischief has been done with all that turmoil; if the
poor fool Jakes had but stayed on board he would have saved his skin."

"Have a mass said for his soul," said Stephen, pressing a little money
into his hand.  "Nay, thou must not refuse, it is conscience money."

"Well, it shall go to the grey brothers," said Andrew, who seemed to
limit his new-born tolerance to the one monastery.  "Hearken, Hugh, if
thy father is spent, get him to stop for a night on the road.  Some day
I shall come to see thee at Exeter."

The kind-hearted sailor stood watching the pair when they had started,
Stephen riding, Hugh stepping manfully through the bracken, and both
turning back and waving their hands until they were lost in the thicket
of underwood through which they had to pass before reaching the road.

Road, indeed, it could scarce be called, for at this season the best
were in some places nigh impassable, and Devonshire mud when it is left
to follow its own will cannot easily be beaten.  In sortie parts the
road was little more than a channel worn by constant running of water,
and leaving banks on either side; and, owing to the rain of the day
before, the water flowed down these banks in little runnels, and rushed
cheerfully along the course at the foot.  Hugh, however, found it
amusing enough to splash through these streams, or to leap from bank to
bank, and clamber along through ivy and long grasses and briars and
nut-bushes; such a thicket of greenery as he had never seen before.
When he was tired he would scramble up behind his father, the stout grey
making light of his double burden; and he was untroubled by Stephen's
anxiety lest these narrow lanes should offer opportunity for thieves and
outlaws.

They met no such dangerous folk.  A ploughman passed and looked
curiously at them, and a priest carrying a staff, and on his way to a
sick parishioner, stopped and inquired whither they were bound.
Bassett's evident illness made the good man uneasy, and he would have
had him rest at his house until better able to go on; indeed, pressed it
on him.  The carver shook his head.

"I thank you heartily, sir priest, but I must push on, having, as you
may judge, but little time before me.  If, of your courtesy, you will
point out the shortest and safest road, you will be doing us a
kindness."

The old man, who had a very pleasant and earnest face, assured him that,
so far as he could tell, the country for some miles round was tolerably
free from rogues, though he could not answer for the neighbourhood of
Exeter.  He himself went a little way with them, and directed them the
shortest path along the rocks, where the sea stretched on one side,
softly grey, and only a little stirred with remembrance of yesterday's
gale, and pointed out Exmouth, which he said had an ill character for
pirates, and then showed them the Exe stretching away, and told them how
they should leave it on their right and take the inland road, and so
left them with his blessing.

It was all that Stephen could do to hide his increasing weakness from
Hugh.  There were times when he felt that he must give it all up, drop
from the horse, and let himself die by the road-side.  Only a will
strong for his boy's sake could have given him strength to sit upright.
When they paused at a little hostelry for some food he did not dare get
off his horse, fearing that he might lack the resolution to mount again.
His suffering became so acute that he could not hide it from Hugh, and
though the boy dreaded nothing worse than one of those sharp fits of
illness which his father had weathered before, he did his best to induce
him to seek a night's lodging on the road.  But Stephen refused almost
irritably.

Nor could he bear to follow where Hugh's remorse would have led him--
into talk of Jakes.  It seemed as if he would put aside all that was
harsh and painful, and he was either silent or--as the boy afterwards
remembered--let fall words which showed that his thoughts were with the
wife he had lost, or dwelling upon some of the talks he had had with
Friar Luke.  Once or twice Hugh was sorely perplexed by what he said,
fancying that he could not have heard rightly; but Stephen seemed unable
or unwilling to repeat the sentence, and murmured something else.  Once
they fell in with a gay party going to a neighbouring castle; there was
a minstrel, and two or three glee maidens were of the company.  When
they overtook Stephen and Hugh they were making a great noise and
merriment, and the boy wondered why, on seeing them, all their jests
died away and they looked almost frightened.  They made haste, too, to
part company, saying they had no time to spare; and Hugh saw them
looking back and pointing as at some strange sight.

He was beginning to be alarmed himself, though not knowing why, perhaps
chiefly because his father seemed to heed him so little, no longer
asking if he were not tired, or noticing Agrippa's merry pranks, but
riding bent upon the horse's neck, and seeming only to keep his seat
with difficulty.  Hugh called gladly to him when he saw before him a
town which he guessed to be Exeter, lying on a hill above the river,
with the fair cathedral standing in a very beautiful position about
half-way up, and Stephen so far roused himself as to clasp his hands and
to murmur, "God be thanked!" but with that fell back into silence.

It was well that the road was plain enough to need no consultation; and
poor little Hugh, wearied out, for he had ridden but little of late,
thinking it oppressed his father, struggled manfully on, hoping to get
in before sunset.  It was well, too, that the last mile or two was of a
tolerable flatness, and the road wider and less heavy, though always
bad; for Stephen grew more and more bowed, and Hugh became so fearful
lest he should fall that he had to steady him as he walked by his side.

Thankful he felt when he came upon a few scattered hovels while the sun
was yet some quarter of an hour from setting, at which time the town
gates would be shut, and presently he saw the river running swiftly,
swelled by the autumn rains, and spanning it a brave new bridge of
stone, with houses and a chapel upon it.

"Father, father, here is Exeter!" cried Hugh, with anxious longing for
some reassuring word.

But he got no answer, and not daring to pause lest the gates might be
shut, he joined the throng of citizens who were pressing in for the same
good reason, and passed through the gate before setting himself to ask
any questions.  The first person he addressed gave him a shove and told
him to get out of his way; but the second, who by his dress and bearing
might have been some kind of trader, stopped at once, and having
satisfied his own curiosity as to who they were and where they came
from, showed himself of a most friendly nature.

"We are in the Western or High Street," he said; "we have come through
the West Gate, and the Franciscans have their house between this and the
North Gate.  But thou art a little varlet to have so much on thy hands,
and thy father looks in a sore plight.  A monkey, too!  How far have you
come?"

"Some sixteen miles, noble sir."

"Nay, I am no noble; only plain Elyas Gervase.  Sixteen miles, and a
dy--a sick man who can scarce keep on his horse!  What doth he work at?"

"He is a wood-carver, sir."

"Why, that is somewhat my own craft, since I am a stone-cutter.  Have
you friends in this fair town?"

"Father has a letter to the prior, and I am to seek out a cousin of my
mother's, Master James Alwyn," said poor Hugh wearily.

"The child himself is almost spent," muttered the good citizen to
himself.  "Prothasy would make them welcome, and we are surely bidden to
entertain strangers.  Thou and thy father shall come home with me," he
added aloud, laying his hand kindly on Hugh's shoulder.  "My house is
nigher than the monastery, and I will speak to a learned leech as we
pass.  Both of ye need a woman's care."

If the boy was a little bewildered at this change of plan he could not
oppose it, nor had he any desire to do so.  There was something in
Master Gervase's honest face which instinctively inspired confidence.
He was a man of about forty-five, somewhat light as to complexion and
hair, his beard was forked, his eyebrows were straight, marking a kindly
temper, and his eye was clear and open.  He wore an under tunic of blue
cloth, with buttons closely set from the wrist to the elbow of the tight
sleeve, tight pantaloons, and low boots with long pointed toes.  His
hair hung a little below his ears, and was covered by a cap.  He walked
up the steep Western Street by the side of the horse, passing his strong
arm round poor Stephen's bowed form so as in some measure to support
him, and he paused presently before a door, and sent in a boy to say
that Master Gervase prayed Master Miles to come without delay.  A few
minutes after this they stopped again before a timbered house projecting
far into the narrow street.  Without a moment's delay Gervase had lifted
Stephen from the horse, and rather carried than led him in.

"Prothasy!" he called, the moment he was in the passage.

"I am coming!" answered a voice, and, following the sound, a young woman
ran in, small, dark, bright-eyed, and scarcely more than a girl in
appearance.  "How late thou art, Elyas!  And whom have we here?"
starting back.

"A sick man for thee to nurse.  Nay, thou shalt hear more later, when we
have got him to bed.  Wat!  Where's Wat?  Wat," as a lad hastily
appeared, "go out to the door and take the horse, and see that he has
good food and litter.  Send the boy that is there in here."

It was evident that Prothasy Gervase was a capable woman.  She asked no
questions, made no difficulties, but ran to see that all was right, and
Stephen, too much exhausted to be aware of what was happening, was got
into his crib-like bed in a little room overlooking the street, and
Mistress Gervase had brought up some hot spiced wine and bidden Hugh
take a drink of it before the doctor came.  Then Elyas took the boy down
to the common room, and asked him a number of questions.  He was one of
the burgesses who, by a recent law, was responsible for the good conduct
of twelve--some say ten--citizens, and would have to furnish an account
of the strangers, so that besides the call of natural curiosity, to
which he was not insensible, it was necessary that he should know
something of their history.  He listened attentively to the story of the
shipwreck.

"And what brought thy father here?" he asked at last.

"He thought," faltered Hugh, for his spirits had sunk low, never having
seen his father in such sore plight before, "that our cousin, Master
Alwyn, might help him to get work in the great church of St Peter's."

"James Alwyn is dead," said Gervase, gravely.  Hugh's face quivered.  He
seemed more lonely than ever.

"He died a year ago, come Martinmas.  What was thy mother's name?"

"Alice Alwyn."

"I mind me there was one of that name lived out by Clyst.  And--but I
warrant me thou wilt say, ay--is thy father a good craftsman?"

"There is no better work," said Hugh, proudly.  "He will show it you,
gentle sir, and you will see."

"Ay," said Gervase, hesitatingly, "and thou wilt follow his craft?"

"I would carve in stone," muttered Hugh, turning away that his
questioner might not see the tears which sprang into his eyes.  He was
tired, and his heart seemed strangely heavy.

"Sayest thou so!" eagerly.  "Thou art right, there is nought like it.
We must see what can be done for thee, perchance--" he checked himself.

"I must talk with Prothasy," he added, under his breath.

He was very good to the boy, leaving him to make a good meal while he
went out to meet the doctor, a gaunt, melancholy man, dressed in bluish
grey lined with thin silk, who spoke with bent head and joined
finger-tips.

"By virtue of the drugs I administered," he began, "my patient hath
revived a little, but Is in evil case."

"How long will he live, sir leech?" demanded Elyas bluntly.

"Scarce more than a few days.  I am going home to prepare a cordial, and
I shall cast his horoscope to-night, when I doubt not to find evil
influences in the ascendent."

"You may take that for granted without seeking to find out whether it is
so," said the other, with a short laugh.  "However, let him want no
care.  Will you be back before curfew?"

The doctor promised and kept his word.  By eight o'clock all lights were
out; Hugh was stretched on a rough pallet in his father's room with
Agrippa, at whom Mistress Prothasy looked askance, by his side, and all
was silent, indoors and out, save for the quick laboured breathing of
the sick man.

CHAPTER SEVEN.

IN THE WARDEN'S HOUSEHOLD.

It was doubtless a satisfaction to the leech's astrological mind to
ascertain that, beyond a question, malignant conjunctions were
threatening Stephen Bassett.  But without this profound knowledge it was
evident to the watchers that Master Gervase had brought home a dying
man, who would not long be spared.  He rallied a little, it is true, and
though at times light-headed, and always taking young Mistress Prothasy
to be his lost Alice, could understand and be grateful for the kindness
shown him, and speak feebly to Hugh about his work.  The prior's letter
had been taken to the Franciscan monastery, but no sign was given by
that house of the kindly hospitality shown in London.

"I knew it," said Elyas, with some triumph to his wife.  "When the boy
told me whither they were bound, I could not bear they should have no
more comfort than they would get from that fat prior.  Now, the poor man
shall want nothing."

"Truly, no," said Prothasy, quite as heartily.  "But it were best that
our little Joan remained away a little longer with thy mother."

"I suppose so," answered her husband, with a sigh.  "The house seems
strangely silent without Joan."

"We must have sent her away had she been here," she said decidedly.

He went to the door and came back.

"Prothasy," he said, with something like appeal in his voice, "that is a
comely little lad."

"Ay, Elyas."

"What will become of him when his father is dead?"

"Thou hadst best seek out some of his kin."

It was not the answer he wished for, yet, as always, it carried sense
with it; he hesitated before he spoke again.

"If he would be a stone-cutter?"

"Thou hast two apprentices already."

"Ay, but a fatherless child--"

"Elyas, thou wilt never learn prudence.  All would come upon thee."

"The guild would help in case of need."

"So thou sayest, but never wouldst thou apply."

He made no answer, only seemed to be reflecting as he left the room.
She walked quickly up and down, once or twice dropping her long dress
and stumbling in it.

"Was ever anyone so good as he, or so provoking!" she exclaimed, half
crying.  "A fine dowry will come to Joan, when her father spends his all
upon strangers!  And yet he makes me cry shame upon myself for
close-fistedness, and wonder at the sweetness with which he bears my
sourness.  If he will, he shall have the boy as prentice, I'll e'en put
up with the monkey; but, do what I will, it is certain I shall season
any kindness with sharp words, and Elyas will feel that all the while I
am grudging.  I would I had a better heart, or he a worse!"

Elyas, meanwhile, all unknowing of these stormy signs of relenting, went
slowly up to the little bare room where the carver lay, while Hugh,
looking out of the small unglazed window, was telling him as much as he
could see to be going on in the street.  Stephen, however, was paying
little attention, and when Gervase came in his eyes brightened at once.

"Leave Agrippa here," he said to Hugh, "and do thou run out and look at
the Cathedral, and bring me back word what it is like."

His interview with his host was long, the more so as he could speak but
slowly, and at times had to stop altogether from exhaustion.  Then it
was necessary that Elyas should see the carving, which took him
altogether by surprise.

"Truly," he said, "this will make our good bishop's mouth water!  He is
ever seeking for beautiful work for St Peter's, and thou mightest have
made thy fortune with misereres and stalls.  Perchance--" he said,
looking hesitatingly at the carver.  Stephen shook his head.

"Never again," he said.  "But Hugh, young as he is, has it in him.  If--
if he could be thy apprentice?"

Elyas almost started at having his thought so quickly presented to him
from the other side, but he did not answer at once, and Stephen went on,
his words broken by painful breathing--

"There is a little money put by for him--in yonder bag--I meant it for
this purpose--the horse may be sold--if I thought he could be with thee
I should--die happy."

Gervase was not the man to resist such an appeal.  He stooped down and
clasped the sick man's wasted hand in his.

"The boy shall remain with me," he said.  "Rest content.  I am warden of
my guild.  He shall learn his craft honestly and truly, shall be brought
up in the holy Faith, and shall be to me as a son.  There is my hand."

With one look of unutterable thankfulness the carver closed his eyes,
and murmured something, which Elyas, bending over him, recognised as the
thanksgiving of the _Nunc Dimittis_.  He said no more, but lay
peacefully content until he roused himself to ask that a priest might be
sent for; and when Hugh came in Elyas left him in charge, while he went
to seek the parish priest, "and no monk," as he muttered.

Hugh was full of the glories of the Cathedral, to which he had made his
way.  It had remained unfinished longer than most of the others in the
kingdom, but the last bishop, Quivil, and the present, Bitton, had
pushed on the work with most earnest zeal, and Hugh described the rising
roof and the beautiful clustered pillars of soft grey Purbeck marble
with an enthusiasm which brought a smile of content upon the face of the
dying man.

"Would I could work there!" said the boy, with a sigh.

"One day," whispered his father, "Master Gervase will take thee as
apprentice; thou wilt serve faithfully, my Hugh?"

The boy pressed against him, and laid his cheek on the pillow.

"Ay, to make thy name famous."

"No, no," gasped Stephen, eagerly.  "That dream is past--not mine nor
thine--not for thyself but for the glory of God.  Say that."

"For the glory of God," Hugh repeated, gravely.  "Father?"

"Ay."

"Where wilt thou live?"

There was a silence.  Then the carver turned his eyes on the boy.

"I am going on--a journey--a long journey."  Hugh shrank away a little.
He began to understand and to tremble; and he dared not ask more
questions.  The priest came and he was sent from the room, and wandered
miserably into a sort of yard with sheds at the back of the house, where
the stone-cutting was going on, and journeymen and two apprentices were
at work.

One of these latter--the younger--was the boy called Wat, whom Hugh had
already seen.  He was a large-limbed, untidy-looking, moon-faced lad,
the butt of many jibes and jests from the others, careless in his work,
and yet so good-natured that his master had not the heart to rate him as
he deserved.  The other apprentice, Roger Brewer, was sixteen, and had
been for six years with Gervase, who was very proud of his talents, and
foretold great things for his future.  He was a grave sallow youth,
noticing everything and saying little, and with a perseverance which
absolutely never failed.  The journeymen, of whom there were three, were
stone-workers who had been Gervase's apprentices; their seven or eight
years ended, they now worked by the day, and hoped in time to become
masters.  They wore the dress and hood of their guild, and one, William
Franklyn, had the principal direction of the apprentices.  Much of the
stonework of the cathedral was being executed under Gervase's orders.

When Hugh appeared in the yard, Agrippa produced an immediate sensation,
Wat and the men crowding round him, Roger alone going on with his work
of carving the crockets of a delicate pinnacle.  The boy's eyes
glistened as he glanced about at the fragments which were scattered here
and there, while the others, on their part, were curiously examining the
monkey.

"Saw you ever the like!" cried Wat, planting himself before him, all
agape, with legs outspread and hands on his knees.  "Why, he hath a face
like a man!"

"Ay, Wat, now we know thy kin," said one of the men, winking to the
others, who answered by a loud laugh.

"Where got ye the beast?" asked William, laying his hand on Hugh's
shoulder.

"At Stourbridge fair," answered the boy.  He had to give an account of
their adventures after this, and they stared at him the more to hear of
London and the shipwreck.

"And so thy father is sick to death in there?" said another man,
pointing over his shoulder with his thumb.  The tears rushed into Hugh's
eyes, and Franklyn interposed.

"His craft is wood-carving, they say.  Hast thou learnt aught of the
trick of it?"

"Nay, I shall be a stone-carver," faltered the boy.  "I am to be
prenticed here."

"With Master Gervase?"

"Ay."

William Franklyn looked black.  He had a nephew of his own whom he had
long tried to persuade the master to take into his house.  That hope was
now altogether at an end.  He turned away angrily and went back to his
work.

"What wilt thou do with thy monkey?" cried Wat, hopping round in high
delight.

"No foreigners may work in the yard.  That were against the guild laws,"
said one of the men.  "Down with all Easterlings!"

They were a jesting, light-hearted set, who laughed loudly, lived
rudely, had plenty of holidays, yet did excellent work.  At another time
the boy would have had his answer ready, but now was sick at heart, and
wanting nothing so much as a woman's comforting, and the men thought him
sullen.  He got back to his father as quickly as he could, leaving many
remarks behind him.

"An ungracious little varlet!" said one.

"Tut, man, he could scarce keep back his tears," said another who saw
further.

"What makes the master take another prentice?  I thought Mistress
Prothasy would never abide more than two.  And there was thy nephew,
William, if a third must be."

"The master will do what pleases him," said Franklyn stiffly.

"Or what pleases Mistress Prothasy, and most likely this is her fancy.
She would have another Wat in the house."

This was followed by a loud laugh, for Wat's awkwardnesses were
well-known to bring him into sore disfavour with the mistress of the
house.

The day went by, and the night came on again.  Elyas proposed sitting up
himself, but Stephen refused, saying that he wanted no one but Hugh.

"And I think I shall sleep well," he added, with a feeble smile.

Afterwards, Gervase thought he meant more than his words conveyed.

Before Hugh lay down his father made him put back the shutter from the
little window, and look out upon the night.  All was quiet, lights were
extinguished, every now and then the watchmen came up and down the
street, but no other noises were abroad; the opposite houses rose up so
closely that from the balconies it looked as if it were possible to
touch hands, and over head, though it was late autumn, the moon shone in
a serene sky, sending her silver rays into the narrow street and
intensifying all the shadows.  Stephen listened, while Hugh told him
just what he could see.

The boy closed the shutter and would have lain down, but Stephen called
him feebly to his side.

"Remember," he whispered, with difficulty.  "For the glory of God."

"Ay, father."

"And the--enemies.  Fight the right enemies."

"Ay, father."

Something the carver murmured, it might have been a blessing, but Hugh
caught only the word, "Alice."

"Shall I get thee aught, father?"

"Nay.  Lie down--I will call if I need aught."

It was his last self-denial for his child.  The boy was soon asleep, but
through the long hours, Stephen lay, fighting for breath, until the
struggle ended in unconsciousness, and that, too, passed into death.
When Elyas came in the early morning, and saw what had happened, he
lifted Hugh in his strong arms and carried him into the room where the
other boys slept.  Wat was snoring peacefully with open mouth, but Roger
was awake, and the master hastily whispered how it was to him.

"Keep the boy here.  Tell him his father must not be disturbed," he
said.

It was Prothasy who, after all, broke the tidings.  She shrank from it
at first, saying that Elyas was tenderer in words and less strange to
Hugh, but her husband looked so grieved that, as usual, she repented,
and did his bidding.  And she was really kind, leading him in herself to
look upon the peaceful face of the dead, and soothing his burst of tears
with great patience and gentleness.

The days that followed were strange and miserable to poor Hugh.  He had
never been without his father, who had been father and mother both to
him, and had made him so close a companion that in many ways he was much
older than his years.  And, in spite of all kindness, the sense of
solitude and loneliness that swept over him when the funeral--which the
guild of which Elyas was warden attended--was over, and he was back in
the house, with a new life before him, to be lived among those who were,
in good truth, strangers, was something which all his life long he could
not forget.

The good master had him rightly enrolled as his apprentice, and then
judged it well to leave him alone for a day or two, telling him he might
go where he liked until his work began.  No place seemed so comforting
to Hugh as the Cathedral.  He would go and watch the workers, and feed
his keen sense of beauty with gazing on the fair upspringing lines and
the noble sheaves of pillars, and wonder whether the day would come when
work of his should find a place there, and his father's dream be
fulfilled.

CHAPTER EIGHT.

DIFFICULTIES.

It was about a week after this that Master Gervase in working dress went
out into his yard.  Dinner was over at an early hour, and the two meals
of the day were long and plentiful as to cheer; so long and so
plentiful, indeed, that there is a record in the preceding reign of
thirty thousand dishes being served at one feast, and the sumptuary laws
which regulated excesses in dress and food do not seem to have been
uncalled for.

In Master Gervase's household there was no excess, but abundance in
every kind, and hearty partaking of beef and cider, Mistress Prothasy
being famous for her housekeeping and capable ways, so that Elyas went
into his yard with all the contentment of a well-fed man.

Men and prentices were hard at work in their different ways.  Franklyn
and Roger had the finest cutting, and Elyas paused before Roger's
crocket to examine his progress.

"It is excellent," he said, heartily, so that the lad's sallow face
flushed; "the cutting deep and clean--naught can be much better in good
sooth than the workmanship.  Thy design is not so good."

"No," said Roger, quickly.

"No.  It wants freedom, boldness, it smacks too much of the yard and too
little of the artist.  There is thy stumbling-block, Roger.  I can give
thee the means of execution, but I cannot put this into thee.  See!"

He seized a piece of burnt stick which lay by, and on a rough plank
hastily sketched a crocket similar in form to that on which Roger was
working.  But what a difference!  What strength in the up-curved lines!
What possibilities seemed to blossom out of the rapid outline!  As Roger
watched a look of bitter mortification gathered in his face; the ease
and vigour of the drawing were, as he recognised, quite beyond his
grasp.  When the master moved on he drew the board close to him, yet so
that it was concealed from other eyes, and tried with all his skill to
bring his carving into better harmony with its spirit.

Gervase glanced at all the work in the yard, giving a word to each, and
special praise to a canopy which Franklyn and another man were engaged
upon, and which was an order from a neighbouring abbey.  To a fourth
worker, Peter Sim, he pointed out that his moulding was thin and wanted
richness.

"Ay," muttered his neighbour, "he is so thin himself he can see no
beauty save in leanness."

"That will scarce be thy failing, Hal," said Gervase, good-humouredly.
"Now, Wat, what tool is that thou art using?"

"It is broken, but it cuts well enough, sir," said Wat, regarding his
half chisel with affection.

"Cuts well enough," repeated the master, angrily, throwing the tool on
one side; "and what thinkest thou, prithee, the guild would say if I
suffered such a tool to be used in my yard?  And how came it broken?"

"There never was such a one for breaking his tools," grumbled Franklyn,
who had picked up the chisel and was examining it; "it is my belief he
uses them to dig the ground with."

"Nay," said Wat, scratching his head, "but the stone is hard."

"Thou shalt spend thy next holiday in finding out whether it be hard or
not," said Elyas, angrily, "an thou be not more careful.  How now, Hugh,
what work have they set thee to?"

The good man's heart melted as he looked at the boy, who seemed a sad
little figure among the others.  He had got into a far corner, and
Agrippa peered down from a rafter in the shed.

"Why art thou in this dark corner by thyself?" demanded Elyas.

"They like not Agrippa, sir," said Hugh, listlessly.

Elyas looked vexed.  His wife was also sorely set against the monkey,
and he would gladly have had it away, yet he could not find it in his
heart to deprive the boy of his only friend.  He stood awhile watching
Hugh work, and presently went across to Franklyn.

"See that no harm comes to the monkey," he said in a tone which all
might hear; then, in a much lower voice, "that is hard work thou hast
set him to do."

"He must learn his craft," said Franklyn, gruffly.

"But he is a little urchin."

"The more need he should begin at the beginning."

"His father told me he had a wonderful talent for his age."

"Fathers ever think their children wonders.  Is it your pleasure, Master
Gervase, that I treat him differently from any other prentice?"

"Nay, nay," said Elyas, hastily, and, knowing that the idea of
favouritism would make Hugh very unpopular, he pushed the matter no
further.

The time that followed was full of bitterness to Hugh.  Franklyn, though
not a bad-hearted man, was sore and disappointed to have his nephew, as
he thought, supplanted, and, since he could not visit it upon the master
himself, he visited it upon Hugh.  The other men sided with Franklyn,
and Hugh made no efforts to gain their good-will; pride grows quickly,
and he had been a good deal set-up on board the ship, although Jakes's
death had shocked him into a temporary shame.  His self-importance was
sorely wounded by finding himself treated as absolutely of no
consequence, he, who had spoken, as he reflected with swelling heart,
with King Edward himself.  Mistress Prothasy was sincerely desirous to
pleasure her husband, but she loved not boys, classing them all as
untidy and unmannerly.  It had been by her wish that Elyas had hitherto
abstained from taking more than two apprentices, and, as she was proud
of her influence over him, she had made it a matter of boasting when
talking to gossips whose husbands were more wilful.  She hated having to
put up with what she now took to be their pitying smiles, and, without
meaning to be unjust, her feelings towards Hugh were not friendly.  It
provoked her, moreover, to have the monkey, which she both feared and
disliked, in the house, and she was constantly urging Elyas to send it
away.

But what Hugh felt sharply was Franklyn's treatment of him as of one who
must be taught the very beginning of his craft.  He had learned much
from his father, and had been made to use his tools when he was scarce
six years old, so that in point of fact he was advanced already beyond
Wat, who had gone through three years' apprenticeship.  But of all this,
and in spite of the master's hints, Franklyn was doggedly unheeding.  He
allowed the boy nothing but the roughest and simplest work.  He
explained with provoking carefulness each morning how this was to be
carried out, and if, as frequently happened, the boy was inattentive, he
rated him sharply.  The discipline might have been good, but injustice
is never wholesome, and feeling himself to be unfairly treated, Hugh set
up his back more and more, took no pains to please, and moped in
solitary corners.

Elyas saw that things were moving wrongly, and was vexed, but he never
willingly interfered with Franklyn's rule, and having an easy-going
genial nature was disposed to believe that with time and patience things
would right themselves.  He had ever a kindly word for Hugh, though not
realising how the boy clung to him as to a link with that past which
already seemed so far away and so happy.

The weeks passed and November was well advanced.  There was no lack of
holidays and feastings, which Hugh in his present mood found almost more
irksome than work.  Agrippa was his chief companion, and yet his
greatest care, as the monkey, if he took it with him, was ever likely to
call a crowd together, and perhaps get pelted, until one day Elyas,
coming upon him in one of these frays, advised him to have a basket and
carry him thus, by which means he was able to take him to the cathedral
itself.

Wat was not unfriendly.  He was awkward and ungainly, and ever falling
into disgrace himself, but this afflicted him scarcely at all.  He had a
huge appetite, and stores of apples, nuts, and cakes, which he was ready
enough to share, and could not understand that anything more was wanted
for happiness.  Hugh, caring little for these joys, despised Wat's
advances, and would not be beguiled into friendship.  He was very
miserable, poor boy, and inclined to wish that he had stayed with the
Franciscans in London, as Friar Luke counselled, or to long--oh, how
earnestly!--that his father had suffered him to accept Sir Thomas de
Trafford's offer and be brought up in the good knight's household.  As
for learning his craft, that, he said bitterly to himself, was hopeless;
he was more like to forget what his father had taught, and to sink into
such coarse work as Wat's.  In fact he made up his mind to the worst,
and would scarce have been contented with easier measure.

Towards the end of November a new personage came into the family, small
in size but of immense importance, Mistress Joan Gervase, aged five, who
had been for some time staying with her grandmother, and had remained so
long, owing to an attack of measles, or some such childish complaint.
Great preparations were made for her home coming; Mistress Prothasy had
the rooms furbished, and made all manner of spice-cakes, and Elyas rode
off one day in high spirits, to sleep at his mothers and to bring back
his little daughter on the morrow.

It was a bad day for Hugh.  He was sick of his work, and, instead of
setting himself to do it as well as he could, all went the other way;
careless chippings brought down Franklyn's wrath upon him; he would take
no pains, idled and played with Agrippa, and was altogether
unsatisfactory.  Franklyn had good reason for anger, though rather too
ready to jump at it, and he was rating the boy loudly when Mistress
Prothasy came into the yard to deliver some message with which she was
charged from her husband.

It was an expressed wish of his that she should never interfere with the
conduct of the prentices at their work.  Indoors she might say what she
liked, and nothing displeased him more than a sign of disrespect on
their part, but in the yard it was understood that she was silent.
Nevertheless, on this occasion she asked Franklyn what Hugh had done,
and hearing that Agrippa was in the matter burst out with her own
grievances.

"The hateful little beast, I would he were strangled!  I am frighted out
of my life to think of what he may do to Joan!  But I will not bear it.
Hark ye, Hugh, thou wilt have to dispose of him.  I have threatened it
before, and now I mean it, and I shall tell thy master that it makes
thee idle over thy work.  He or I go out of the house!"

She swept away, leaving Hugh in a whirlwind of grief, bewilderment, and
anger.  Part with Agrippa, his one friend?  Never!  And yet--he knew
from experience, and the men often spoke of it--Master Gervase never
gainsaid his wife.  He dashed down his tools, caught Agrippa in his
arms, and faced Franklyn in a fury.

"You have done nothing but spite me, and I hate you!" he cried.  "You
may kill me if you like, but I will never part with my monkey!"

In his heart of hearts Franklyn was sorry that things had gone so far,
but such rebellion could not be overlooked, and he fetched Hugh a sound
buffet which made him tingle all over, told him the master should hear
of it, and that he should have no supper but bread and water.  Hugh
sullenly picked up his chisel and went on with his work, paying no heed
to Wat's uncouth attempts at comfort.  Work was to be put away some
hours earlier than usual, and a feast provided for supper in honour of
Mistress Joan's return; but Hugh would go no farther than the balcony
which ran outside the prentices' room, supported by wooden posts, and
here he crouched in a corner, hugging Agrippa, weeping hot tears of rage
and turning over in his mind possible means of escape.

He had heard tales of prentices running away from harsh masters,
although he had an idea that dreadful penalties were due for such an
offence; but he thought he might manage to avoid being re-taken, and
cared not what risks he ran.  Where should he go?  If he could get to
Dartmouth someone might keep him till Andrew the shipman came again and
took him back to London, and the boundless hope of childhood made the
wild plan seem possible as soon as it came into his mind.  He had the
king's gold noble sewn into his clothes, and though he never intended to
spend it, the feeling that it was about him gave him a sensation of
riches.  He had received his first month's pay, as apprentice; this
amounted, it is true, to no more than threepence, but Elyas had given
him two groats from his father's store, and he hoped that people would
be willing to pay something when he had got far enough to let the monkey
display his tricks without fear of detection.

All these plans he made hastily, for the more he thought over the matter
the more determined he was to run away at once.  He must slip out of the
gates before sunset, and while Elyas was absent; there would be so much
excitement in the house with Joan's return that he would not be missed
until it was too late to follow him.  Wat had gone off to see some men
in the pillory; Hugh hastily rolled his father's things in a bundle,
slipped Agrippa into his basket, and was out of the house without
meeting a soul.

He could not help pausing at Broad Gate to look through it once more at
the Cathedral, but something in the beautiful building, some memories of
his father's hopes, brought such a choking lump into his throat that he
turned hastily away, hurrying down the Western Street and out at the
West Gate, and flattering himself that he had passed unnoticed by the
keeper of the gate.

From one cause or another he had not gone that way since the evening
they entered a month ago.  Here was the new stone bridge; there in its
midst stood the fair chapel where lay the good citizen who had given the
bridge to the town, a little light burning ever before the altar.  How
well Hugh remembered touching his father's arm to show it to him, and
how he got no sign in return, and was frightened.  And then but a minute
or two later Master Gervase had come to their help like a good
Samaritan, and he no longer felt so lonely.

It was an inconvenient recollection, because he could not help recalling
with a rush how thankful his father had seemed when he came to himself,
and knew in whose house they were.  Also with what earnestness he had
prayed Master Gervase to take Hugh, telling him that he was a good boy
and would be a credit to him.

"But father never knew!" cried Hugh, stifling uneasy thoughts; "he never
thought I should be set to fool's work, and flouted at, and Agrippa
taken away."

He pushed on with the thought.  He fancied that he remembered a house
some five or six miles away, where the woman had been kind, and would
have had them come in and rest.  This was the place where he meant to
spend the night.

But travelling in November was harder work than a month earlier.  The
road soon became a quagmire, lain began to fall, darkness set in, and
there was no moon.  He trudged on as bravely as he could, but he began
to be very much frightened with the loneliness and the darkness, and the
uneasy sense that, unlike the time when he passed before, he was not
going the way in which he could expect the overshadowing Care in which
his father had rested so confidently.  Then more than once side roads
branched off; he was not sure that he was keeping to that which was
right, and little as he seemed to have to steal, there was the king's
gold noble which would be excellent booty for any cut-purse.  The house
seemed so long in coming that he began to think he must have passed it
in the dark, and when at last he made it out, his heart sank to think
that after all his efforts he had got no further; besides, there was not
a light or sign of life about it, it looked so gloomy and forbidding
that he was scarcely less terrified at it than at the lonely road.  He
ventured at last, however, to knock timidly at the door, but was
answered by such a fierce growling that he clasped Agrippa the closer
and fled.

Fled--but where to flee?  Wet to the skin, hungry, miserable, before he
had got six miles on his way, what could he do?  Creeping back to the
house to see if there were no outside shelter under which he might
crawl, he at last found a small stack of fuel piled close to the mud
walls, and by pulling this out a little formed a small hole where he
made shift to lie, shivering, and in a miserable plight.

He slept, however, and forgot his misery until he awoke, cramped, aching
all over, and hungrier than ever.  He was too much afraid of the dog to
venture to wait till the people were up and about, and set off again on
his weary tramp, hoping he might reach some other hut where he could get
food for himself and the monkey.  Rain still fell, though not so
heavily, and he could not understand why he got on so slowly, and found
himself scarcely able to drag one leg after the other.  Agrippa, too,
also wet, cold, and hungry, shivered and chattered piteously.

At last he reached a hut where the man had gone to work, and the woman
gave him black bread and cider.  But she had an evil face, and took more
from him than the food was worth, casting greedy looks at the remainder,
and the children ran after him and pelted him and Agrippa with stones;
so that Hugh was forced to hurry on as fast as his aching limbs could
carry him, and by the time he had gone up a little hill, felt as if all
the breath were out of his body, and he must drop by the road-side.  He
knew now that he must be ill, it seemed to him, indeed, that he was
dying, and it was horrible to picture himself lying unheeded among the
piles of dead leaves, the dank and rotting vegetation, the deep red
mud--no one would know, and his only friend, poor Agrippa, would die of
cold and hunger by his side.

It was no wonder that his thoughts went back with longing to Master
Gervase's house in Exeter, where food and shelter were never lacking.

After this he still struggled on, but in a dazed, mechanical sort of
way, until he was quite sure that he had been walking all day, and that
night must be near at hand.  And with this conviction, and all the
horror of coming darkness sweeping over him, he felt he could go no
farther, and flung himself down upon the wet bank, under a thick growth
of nut-bushes.

There Master Gervase found him.

When Elyas reached home close on sunset the day before, there was so
much welcoming and hugging of Joan, so many messages to give, so many
things to be spoken about, that he did not at first miss Hugh,
especially as Wat was also absent.  By-and-by when Wat returned,
open-mouthed with sights at the pillory, Elyas asked for the little boy,
and Prothasy poured out her grievances.  The monkey made him idle, and
she had said it should not stay in the house, and then he had flown into
a rage with William, and had been told he should have nought but bread
and water.

"And that is better than he deserves," she ended.  "Look you, husband, I
am resolved.  That evil beast shall not remain here with Joan.  Thou
knowest that my nay is ever nay."

Elyas looked very grave, but made no answer.  Hugh was idle, and no
rebellion against Franklyn could be permitted, yet his kind heart ached
for the fatherless little fellow who had taken his fancy from the first.
He would not interfere with the punishment, but he resolved that when
supper was over, he would go upstairs and see whether he could not mend
matters.  And he was a little distraught throughout the long supper,
whereat Joan reigned like a veritable queen, and, it must be owned,
tyrannised in some degree over her subjects.  She rather vexed her
mother by demanding the new boy.  Father had talked to her of him, and
had told her of a wonderful little beast with a face like an old man's,
and hands to hold things by; she would love to see him--where was he,
why didn't he come to supper?

"Think not of him, Joan," said her mother quickly at last.  "He is no
playfellow for thee.  He would bite and terrify thee."

This caused an interval of pondering, and Prothasy fondly hoped of
impression, but presently Mistress Joan lifted her little golden head.

"I want him," she said.  "I would kiss him."  Prothasy looked
reproachfully at her husband, who was smiling.

The supper, as has been said, was long, and before it was finished Joan,
tired out with excitement, was leaning against her father's arm, asleep.
He lifted her tenderly and carried her to their room, where she slept,
and where she was soon lying in her little crib, looking fairer than
ever.  Husband and wife stood gazing at her with overfull hearts, and
Elyas, ever large in sympathies, let his thoughts go out to the
wood-carver who had cared so much for his boy, and wished he could have
taken Hugh with him that day, or that he could talk him into readier
obedience to Franklyn.  He was very desirous to temper justice with
mercy when he left Joan and went to seek Hugh.

It surprised him exceedingly to get no answer to his call.  He lifted
the light and looked round the room in vain, nor was Agrippa to be seen
overhead among the rafters.  It was possible that Hugh had slipped out
and stayed thus late, but he had never done it before, and it was seven
o'clock, dark and raining.  Elyas began to feel very uneasy.  He sought
his wife, called Franklyn, who had not left the house, and questioned
the other apprentices.  Roger never paid any attention to Hugh, treating
him as a little boy, whom it would be waste of time to notice; Wat
reported that he had invited him to go out with him, but got no answer.

"He had never seen a man in the pillory, either, and here were three,"
added Wat cheerfully.

Quick compunction seized Prothasy, though rather for her husband's sake
than Hugh's; she said little, but ran hastily about the house, and even
out into the wet yard, where, however, Franklyn had been before her, and
then she stood in the doorway, looking up and down the street.  Her
husband's voice behind startled her.

"He hath run away," he said gravely.

"Thinkest thou so?" she said turning quickly.  "Elyas, it was not much
that I said, and it was not he but the monkey which provoked me."

"Nay, I am not blaming thee, I blame myself.  He is but a little lad to
be left friendless in the world, and I might have been more tender with
him, and kept him more by mine own side.  Then this would not have
happened."

"Where will he go?"

"That I must find out at the gates, which I will do presently, though it
is too late to pass out to-night.  Most likely he has taken the road he
knew best."

He came back before long, saying it was as he thought, for the keeper of
the West Gate had seen the boy go out.  At sunrise Elyas said he would
mount his good grey and follow.  There was nothing else to be done, and
he made as light of it as he could to Prothasy, saying the dreariness of
the night might give a useful lesson.

And so it was that early the next day, when poor Hugh had got no further
than a bare two miles from the place where he had slept, although he
felt as if he had been walking all day, Master Gervase came upon a
little figure lying under a clump of nut-bushes, and with a pang in his
heart, sprang off his horse, and gathering Hugh and Agrippa into his
arms, mounted again, and rode back as quickly as he could to Exeter.

CHAPTER NINE.

BISHOP BITTON IN HIS CATHEDRAL.

Hugh's illness was severe and painful, for he was racked with feverish
rheumatism, and could scarcely bear to be touched or even looked at.
Often he was light-headed and talked persistently of his father,
imploring him not to leave him, and at other times would cry so bitterly
that it was impossible to soothe him.  Prothasy had been terribly
shocked when her husband rode up to the door, carrying his unconscious
burden, and had spared neither care nor attendance upon him, rigidly
carrying out the directions of the leech, which to us would sound
hopelessly fantastical, and listening patiently to his long
disquisitions upon Aesculapius and Galen.  But her presence seemed to
disturb the boy, and she often drew back wounded.  Strange to say, he
endured Wat's awkward though good-hearted ministrations, but the only
person to whom he clung, to please whom he would take his medicine, and
who seemed to have the power of causing him to sleep, was Elyas.  One
possible reason was that Master Gervase had a strange quickness in
finding out what troubled him.  Once or twice he had soothed him by
putting before him his father's carvings, and more often by placing
Agrippa on the bed.  The monkey had been ill himself after the exposure
of that night, and it was Prothasy who--mightily it must be owned
against her inclination--wrapped him in woollen, and though she could
never be brought to take him on her lap, saw that he was not neglected.

But one day, when Hugh was really better and less feverish, though still
in pain which made him fretful and peevish, he opened his eyes upon a
new sight.  A little girl, with golden hair and brown eyes, stood about
a yard away from the crib, gazing with deep interest and her finger in
her mouth, from him to Agrippa, who sat on the bed in his scarlet coat,
and stared back at her.  For a short time all three were silent,
contemplating each other curiously.  It was Joan who broke the silence,
pointing to Agrippa.

"Doth he bite?"

Hitherto everyone who came near Hugh had asked how he felt or what they
could do.  Here was a change indeed!

"No."  Then with an effort--"You may stroke him, mistress."

Upon this invitation Joan advanced, stretching out two rosy fingers.
But they hesitated so long on the way that Hugh put forth his own wasted
little hand, and conducted them to Agrippa's head.  Joan coloured
crimson but would not show fear.

When she had got over the wonder of this courageous deed, she began to
smile, bringing two dimples into her cheeks, and dancing a little up and
down for joy.

"Art thou the new boy?  Why doesn't thou get up?"

This was too much; besides, the pain of stretching his hand had hold of
him.  Hugh shut his eyes and groaned.  The next thing he felt was a
dreadful shake of the crib, and a soft kiss planted upon his closed eye.

"Poor boy!  Make haste and get well!"

She trotted away, but the next day appeared again, and her mother,
arriving in haste, found to her horror Joan sitting upon the edge of the
crib, with Agrippa in her arms.  Prothasy would have snatched him from
her, but Joan put up her small hand lest she should come too near.  She
was actually trembling with ecstasy.

"He doesn't bite, and he likes me.  Isn't he beautiful?"

Agrippa had conquered.

After this Hugh began to improve more rapidly Joan's visits brought
something into his life which had been wanting before, and he could not
but be conscious of the kindness with which he had been nursed and cared
for, when he might have expected very different treatment.  He still
watched Mistress Prothasy with anxiety, but his eyes followed Gervase
with devotion which touched the good warden's heart.  Nothing had been
said about Hugh's flight during the worst part of his illness, but one
afternoon in December, when Elyas had come in from consultation with the
bishop at the Cathedral, he sat down on the boy's bed.

"We shall have thee up and about by Christmas," he said, cheerfully;
"out by the New Year, and at work by Twelfth Day."

"Ay, master," said Hugh faintly.

Elyas turned and looked at him.  "It were best for thee," he said, "to
tell me what ailed thee that day.  I have heard nothing from thee."

In a faltering voice Hugh would have murmured something scarce
distinguishable, but Gervase made him put all into words.  It is often
hard so to describe one's wrongs; things which had seemed of infinite
importance lose dignity in the process, and there is an uncomfortable
conviction that our hearers are not so greatly impressed as we desired.
After all, except the threat about Agrippa, it looked trifling seen from
a distance, and even for Agrippa--

"Hadst thou met with so much unkindness here, that thou couldst not
trust us to do what was best?" asked Gervase gravely.

"I thought--" began Hugh, and stopped.

"And how came you idle?"  Elyas demanded more sternly.

"He ever gave me such foolish work!  He would not hearken when I said I
could do better!" burst out Hugh.  "Master, only let me try, and you
will see."

"Perhaps," returned Elyas.  "But there are things that I value more, ay,
and thy father would have valued more, than fair carving.  Thou hast got
thy life to shape, Hugh, rough stone to hew and carve into such a temple
as the Master loves.  All the best work that we can do with our tools is
but a type of this.  And what sort of carving was this rebellion of
thine?"

He would say no more, being one of those who leave their words to sink
in.  But after, when he came up to see the boy, he would choose for his
talk tales of men who had become great through mastery of themselves.
And when he found how Hugh's thoughts ran upon King Edward, he spoke of
him, and how he had tamed that strong nature of his which might have led
him into tyrannical acts, so that at whatever cost to himself he
followed faithfully that which was right and just.  And he told the
story of how once, when he had been unjust towards an attendant, he
punished his own hasty temper by fining himself twenty marks.

"This it is which makes him great," added Elyas.

"And thou hast seen and spoken with him?  The more need to follow him."

"Saw you ever the king, goodman?"

"Ay, truly; ten or eleven years ago he and the queen held Parliament
here at Christmas.  Great doings were there, and it was then the bishop
got leave to fence the close with walls.  I like them not myself, they
shut out the fair view of the western front; but after the precentors
murder the chapter sought greater security.  There is talk of the king
coming again next month.  If he does I warrant he will bring a sore
heart, remembering who was with him last time."

"And the queen was fair, goodman?"

"Fair and sweet beyond telling.  All that looked at her loved her."

Hugh never got worse reproach for his conduct, but by listening to these
tales of Master Gervase's with talk of men who took not their own wild
wills, but a high ideal of duty for their standard, he grew to be
ashamed of it, and to have a longing for the time when he might go to
work again in a different spirit.  And he changed in his conduct to Wat,
who was ever full of awkward good-will.

It was much as Elyas had foretold.  By Christmas time Hugh was up,
though too feeble to enter into all the merry-making and holiday-keeping
of the time; nor, indeed, could he so much as go out with the others
when, at two of the morning, the moonlight shining, the rime hanging to
the elms and just whitening the roof of the Cathedral, they all set
forth for the parish church of St Martin's.  Wat came back blowing his
blue fingers and stamping on the ground, but radiant with the promise
that next year in the mumming he should be St George himself.

"Rob the ostler says so, and he knows."

"Thou wast the hobby-horse last night," said Hugh with a laugh.

"Ay, and I am weary of the hobby-horse, of prancing up and down, and
being hit with no chance of hitting back again.  But, St George! what
wouldst thou give, Hugh, to be a knight all in shining armour, and to
slay the Dragon?"

New Year's Eve was the great day for gifts; Joan had a number of toys
and sweetmeats, and Hugh gave her a kind of cup and ball, which he had
managed to carve for her, though with trembling fingers, after the
recollection of one which had been shown to his father by a merchant
travelling from China, or Cathay, as it was then called.  It was a
dainty little toy, and Gervase examined it closely, feeling that Hugh
had some reason for fretting against the monotonous work to which
Franklyn condemned him.  But Elyas had no thought of interfering.  He
believed it would be wholesome discipline for the boy to have to work
his way upward by force of perseverance and obedience, each step so
taken would be a double gain; he had time enough before him, and should
prove his powers to Franklyn by his own efforts.  Meanwhile he kept him
with him a good deal, and took him one day to the Cathedral to see the
progress which had been made.

Hugh could not rest without going everywhere, and then was so tired
that, while Gervase went off to inspect some of the masons' work, he
curled himself up upon one of the misereres and fell asleep.  He awoke
with a start to find himself looked down upon by a kindly-faced man in
an ecclesiastical dress, though this last was not of the sumptuous
character at that time worn.  Other ecclesiastics were moving about the
building.  Hugh started to his feet, but the priest, whoever he was,
seemed in no way displeased at his presence.

"Thou art a pale-faced urchin," he said good-humouredly; "have thy
friends left thee behind and forgotten thee?"

"Nay, reverend sir," said Hugh, "I am Master Gervase's apprentice."

"I always heard he was an easy man, and so he suffers his apprentices to
sleep in working hours?  But it is he for whom we were searching, and if
thou wilt go forth and find him for me, thou mayest earn a silver
penny."

Hugh had some little difficulty in discovering Elyas, who had climbed a
scaffolding to examine the work close at hand.  He hurried down when he
had heard Hugh's report, saying that it was doubtless the bishop, and
bidding the boy follow him.

The three bishops who succeeded each other in the see of Exeter, Quivil,
Bitton, and Stapledon, have each left their mark upon the Cathedral.
Quivil's share was the most important; it was he who by the insertion of
large windows formed the transepts, and to whom we owe the beautiful and
unbroken line of vaulting.  Bitton was only fifteen years at Exeter, but
he carried on the designs of his predecessor with enthusiastic loyalty,
and completed the eastern end of the choir.  It was this on which he
constantly desired to consult Gervase.

"The work goes on well," he said cheerfully, rubbing his hands.  "You
have caught the true spirit.  We shall never see our glorious Church
finished, goodman, yet it is something to feel that we shall have left
behind us something towards it.  _Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine
virtutum_!  I like the lightness of that stonework, and mine eye is
never weary of following the noble lines of vaulting.  Only I shall not
rest until something has been designed to unite it with the pillars.
There is a blank look which offends me."

"I see it, too, my lord.  Is it not the very place for a richly carved
_surs_ (corbel)?"

"Ay, that is it, that is it!  A corbel which should spring from the
pillar, and follow the line of the arch.  We must reflect on this,
Master Gervase, and they shall be of finest cutting, and each varying
from the other.  But we may not think of this yet awhile, for truly
there is enough on hand to call for all thy skill and industry.  How
fair it looks, with the winter sunshine striking on the fair stonework!
_Non nobis, Domine_!"

One or two of the canons had by this time closed up, and began to speak
of what had been done.

"When the western end is brought to equal the eastern," said one of
them, William Pontington by name, "there will be no church in our land
more fair.  What will the king say?"

"The king is not in the best of humours with his clergy," said the
chaunter or precentor, a little dried-up man, with a sour face.  "What
think you, my lord, of the archbishop's mandate?"

The good bishop looked uneasy.  Winchilsey, Archbishop of Canterbury,
was a turbulent and ambitious prelate, and the king, though sincerely
religious, was forced to be ever on the watch against encroachments made
by Pope Boniface, and supported by the archbishop, which threatened the
royal supremacy.  The strongest attempt of all had just been put forth
in a bull from the pope, "forbidding the clergy to grant to laymen any
part of the revenues of their benefices without the permission of the
Holy See."  Now as the kings of England had ever the right of taxing the
clergy with the rest of their subjects, as the possessions of the Church
were enormous, and papal taxation of the whole kingdom far exceeded the
taxation by the State, so that in a few years the pope is said to have
received money from England equal to nine millions of our present money,
Edward promptly resisted this fresh and unheard-of claim.  He did so by
a simple and effectual counter-stroke.  It was announced at Westminster
that whatever complaint was brought to the court by the archbishops,
bishops, or clergy, "no justice should be done them," and this
withdrawal of State protection speedily led the clergy to offer their
submission to the king, in spite of the anger of pope and archbishop.

But the dissension had placed them on the horns of a dilemma, and Bishop
Bitton had no liking for speech on the subject.  He muttered something
in answer to the precentor's injudicious question, and turned to Hugh,
who was standing a short way from the group.

"There is thy penny for thee," said the bishop, beckoning to him, "and
now tell me, sir apprentice, whether thou art a good lad, and learning
thy craft fairly and truly, so that in time thou mayest have thy share
in this great work of ours?"

Hugh coloured crimson, and looked down, and Elyas came to his rescue.

"He hath not been with me yet three months, my lord, so please you, and
half that time hath been ill; but he is the child of the wood-carver of
whom I spoke, and, if he is industrious, I have good hope he will credit
his father."

"And what part wilt thou choose for thy share?" asked the bishop, with a
wave of his gloved hand towards roof and walls.

"The corbels, my lord," answered Hugh, boldly.  Bitton looked delighted.

"So thou hast caught our words, and wilt bespeak the work thyself?
Well, I shall not forget.  Learn with all thy might, and, who knows,
some day thy carving may help to decorate this our Church of St
Peter's?"

After this, when the bishop caught sight of Hugh, he never failed to
speak to him and ask how his learning fared.  And hearing from Elyas
that the boy could read and write, he arranged that on Sundays he should
come to the Kalendarhay, where one of the Kalendar brothers instructed
him.

When Twelfth-Night was over, Hugh went back to the yard, where work was
expected to go on vigorously after the feasting and mirth of that
season, which was loud and boisterous.  On the eve the town was full of
minstrels, who carried huge bowls of wassail--ale, sugar, nutmegs, and
roasted apples--to the houses of the well-to-do inhabitants, and Wat, as
it may be conceived, had his full share in these doings.  In the country
there was a curious pagan ceremony kept up in Devonshire on this night,
for at the farms the farmer and his men would carry a great pitcher of
cider into the orchard, and choosing the best bearing tree, walk
solemnly round it, and drink its health three times.

Master Gervase grew somewhat red and shamefaced when his wife reminded
him that he had often been the pitcher-bearer on his father's farm.

"It was there I first saw thee," she said, "and my mother pointed thee
out, and said thou wast as strong as Edulf."

"Who was Edulf?" asked Hugh of Wat, under his breath.

"The strongest man that ever lived.  He came to Exeter in a rage, and
broke the iron gate with his two hands," expounded Wat, stuffing a large
piece of pasty into his mouth.

"The strongest man that ever lived was Samson," said Hugh, dogmatically.

"Samson!  Nobody ever heard of him, and I tell thee Edulf was the
strongest."

The quarrel might have grown, but that Franklyn growled at them to hush
their unmannerly prating; and Joan announced in her clear, decided voice
that Agrippa should have his special Twelfth-night spice-cake.  For in
spite of her mother's loud remonstrances, the monkey had been taken into
Joan's heart of hearts, and, it was certain, was secure from any
sentence of banishment.

Franklyn had been a good deal shocked by Hugh's flight and illness, but,
as was natural, the impression passed away as the little apprentice
regained his health, and Elyas saw that he was not inclined to change
his treatment.  For the reasons already given, the master had no thought
of interfering, it was for the boy now to prove what stuff he had in
him.  It was a sort of ordeal through which he had to pass; an ordeal
which might develop patience, resolution, and the humility of a true
artist, and though Gervase told himself that he would be on the watch,
ready with words of encouragement when they were needed, he held back
from more.  Hugh had the same rough, uninteresting work to toil upon--
indeed the stone had been set aside for his return; the same careful
explanations of how to handle his tools and make his strokes, which he
took to be a reflection on his father's teaching; the same lack of
praise.  But now he brought to it a more cheerful spirit, hope was
astir; he felt sure that the master was watching his efforts, and that
it rested with himself and his own perseverance to make his way.  It was
not easy.  Often he grew hot and angry; often he was tempted into
careless work; but he would not give up trying, and upon the whole held
on very fairly.

Then, in spite of his awkwardnesses and a dense stupidity about his
work, Wat was a good-natured companion, ready to take any trouble and to
carry any blame.  He had been so often told by Franklyn that he would
never rise to more than a mason, that he had grown to accept the verdict
against which Hugh was always trying to make him rebel.

"He knows best," he would say, hammering loosely at the stone.

"What an oaf thou art, Wat!  It all rests with thyself.  Franklyn should
never make me a mason."

"Because--there, I have chipped it!" scratching his head in dismay.

"And small wonder!  Give me thy tool, which thou holdest as the goodwife
holds her knife--so!"

"If I thought it were any use--" began the disconsolate Wat.

"Try and see."

"And thou thinkest I might catch the trick of it?"

"Try.  There, now go on.  Thou knowest as well as any how to hold the
tools."

So far as impatience and calling of names went Hugh was a harder
taskmaster than Franklyn, but he put more energy into his teaching, and
dragged the reluctant Wat along by sheer force of will, the result being
that, though he got no praise for himself, some fell to his pupil, which
really pleased him as much as if it had been the other way.

Wat was the great purveyor of news; no one knew how he picked up his
information, but nothing happened in the city but it somehow reached his
ears before it was half an hour old.  He knew of all the quarrels
between the bishop and chapter and the mayor and his twenty-four
councillors or aldermen, and how two of the canons fell upon two of the
bailiffs and pommelled them vigorously, before even the mayor's wife had
been informed of the scandal.  He it was who reported the falling out
between Sir Baldwin de Fulford and his wife, because she wanted an
extravagantly fine chaplet of gold, the cost of which displeased him.
It seemed that there were great expenses she led him into, for they had
glass over from France for their windows, and forks for dinner, and many
such luxuries, and each one Wat knew quite well--though how, no one ever
knew.  And at last, one day in January, when there had been a fall of
snow which whitened all the roofs, and gave great joy to the prentice
lads, Wat rushed in, powdered over with snow, so full of news that he
could scarce keep from shouting it out as he ran, and so intent upon
that and nothing else that he rushed up against Mistress Prothasy, and
sent the dish of roasted apples she was carrying out of her hand.  She
gave him a sound box in his ear, and told him he should have no apples
for supper.  But even this threat could not compose Wat, well as he
loved roasted apples.

"Truly, good wife," he said, breathlessly, as he picked them up, "thou
must forgive me this time for my news."

"What news?" said Prothasy crossly.  "Thou hast ever some foolish tale
in thy idle head."

"This is no foolish news," cried Wat, triumphantly.  "King Edward is on
his way!"

"Nay!"

"Ay, mistress, it is true.  He is at Bristol, and comes here in four
days' time, and the mayor is almost out of his wits, and there will be a
banquet at the Guildhall, and the Baron of Dartington and Lord Montacute
and Sir Richard de Alwis and my Lord of Devon are making ready to ride
to meet the king, and all the saddlers and armourers are rushing from
one end of the city to the other, and there will be feasting and
bonfires, and we prentices are to stand in the Crollditch to shout when
he comes in at the East Gate, and I warrant you none will shout lustier
than I!"

"Mercy on us, thou wilt deafen me with thy chatter!" said Prothasy,
clapping her hands on her ears; "but there is an apple for thee, since
thy head had some reason for its turning to-day.  The king so near!  I
must go and pull out my green kirtle."

CHAPTER TEN.

SWORD OR CHISEL?

Wat's enthusiasm found hearty echo in the house.  Roger, indeed, ever
self-absorbed and eagerly bent upon his own advancement, muttered
something that such shows were fit only for fools and jackanapes, but he
dared say nothing of the sort aloud, when even Master Gervase himself
was like a boy in his delight over the occasion.  Great consultations
took place between the different guilds.  These guilds had flourished in
Exeter from a very early period, and were founded and preserved on
strong religious lines.  Chief and earliest among them were the merchant
guilds.  Craft guilds grew up later, not, as in other countries, opposed
to the merchants, but under their authority, formed merely to promote
and regulate matters belonging to their own crafts.  Master and wardens
met regularly in the common hall, and every full craftsman worth twenty
shillings might be a brother.  Generally there was a distinctive dress,
or, at any rate, hood.  The guilds took care that their members bore
good characters, and there were heavy penalties for bad words, or what
was called "misquoting."  No one might work without leave of the
wardens.  No one might undersell a craft brother.  The guilds arranged
that all goods received a fair price, and that they were of the best
quality.  An excellent technical education was provided, and the tools
that were used were closely inspected.  Women might have part in the
guilds, widows being allowed to carry on their business under their
protection.  There were also craft courts to which all complaints were
brought, and it will be easily understood how much guilds had to do with
the local government of a town.

It was now necessary to organise a banquet to be given to the king, and
a day of feasting and rejoicing for the poor, and Gervase was very busy
over the arrangements.  Frost and snow still continued, but flags and
gay hangings were profusely used, and nothing could have been more
picturesque than the narrow streets with their beautiful black-timbered
houses, snow on the steep roofs, and all manner of bright colours
hanging from windows and carved balconies.  The only thing there was
doubt about was the sun, but after an hour or two of hesitation in the
morning, it broke out in full brilliancy, giving the final touch to a
gay pageant of moving colour, of which we in England now have little
conception.

Rougemont Castle, of course, put on its gayest face, but the chief
preparations were at the East Gate, to which the road from Bristol led
direct, passing by St Sidwell's Church.  Here the king would enter, and
here in Crollditch, the present Southernhay, where the Lammas fair was
annually held, the apprentices intended to muster, and to see as much as
they could, the greater number of the burgesses being within the gate,
so as to welcome the king to the city.  If it had not been for Wat,
Hugh's chance of seeing would have been small, for as the king and his
knights rode up, the bigger apprentices closed tumultuously nearer,
shouting with all the force of their lungs, and the lesser boys were
pushed back without mercy.  But Wat was a faithful friend.  He held fast
by Hugh, and used his own strong limbs to good effect.  Opposite to them
was a crowd of the poorest of the city.

"Keep thy legs, gammer--good folk, press not so closely!  Here they
come!"

"Alack, alack, I can see nothing!"

"There is the king on a black horse!"

"Nay, that is my Lord of Albemarle."

"Ay, there's the king!"

"Where?  Where?"

"He rides a white horse, with the bishop by his side."

"The saints preserve him!  How he towers above them all!  A proper man,
indeed!"

The sight was very striking as the gallant cavalcade swept slowly into
the grim shadows of the East Gate, with its walls stretching away on
either side, and out into the keen sunshine beyond, where
representatives from the guilds, the mayor, bailiffs, and councilmen
were drawn up with every mark of pageantry.  Loud shouts broke from the
crowd, many cries of blessing were raised, and some appeals for
"Justice, my Lord King!" were heard.  All the way down the High Street
the narrow way was so thronged with citizens that Edward and his train
could scarcely make way, and there was time enough for Wat and Hugh to
rush down a side way and get round to their master's house before the
king reached it.  Joan was in the balcony with her mother craning her
little neck to see the show, and beckoning to Hugh, but the boy had a
design in his head; rushing up to catch Agrippa, and, when he had got
him, determinedly squeezing his way to the front.  In this he might not
have succeeded but for the good nature of my Lord of Devon's jester, who
was a favourite in the town, and now in his motley suit had taken up his
position before Master Gervase's house.  He pathetically implored the
crowd to make room for his grandfather, and the roar of laughter which
followed when this turned out to be the monkey secured Agrippa's
position.

Hugh's heart beat fast as he saw the men-at-arms clearing the way with
no little difficulty.

"Hold thou on to my sleeve," whispered the good-humoured jester, "and
we'll not budge."

He was as good as his word, and as the king passed with a smile on his
grave face, for he was touched by the fervour of his welcome, Hugh and
his monkey were so close that Edward's eye fell upon him.  He was
certain that he was recognised, for the king's smile deepened, and he
said something to the bishop, who raised himself in his stirrups to get
sight of the boy.  Nor was this all.  The monkey attracted the attention
of the _suite_, and a knight suddenly reined up his horse and bent down.

"Why, thou art the little varlet that was at Stourbridge Fair!  I mind
me now thy father spoke of Exeter.  How goes it with him?  Has he a
choice bit of his work that I can take back to my lady?  What, dead!
Nay, that is sad, but he looked scarce like to live.  Thou mayest come
to the bishop's palace, where we lie, and ask for my squire, John
Wakefield, if thou wilt."

He nodded and rode on, and Hugh was besieged by inquiries of who he was,
and what had led him to speak.

"Sir Thomas de Trafford," repeated the jester.  "A fair name and an
honourable.  Prithee forget not a poor cousin, if there be preferment to
be had.  I would almost renounce my cap and bells to be dubbed a
knight."

But Joan overhead was clamouring for Hugh, and Prothasy's curiosity was
getting past bearing.  She had never quite believed the boy's story of
the gold noble, but all had seen the king's amused smile of recognition,
and now she questioned Hugh sharply, while he was longing to be off with
Wat, who was in the thick of the crowd which had closed up on the heels
of the men-at-arms, and was following the king down the High Street, for
to pleasure them he rode as far as the Carfax or conduit, the central
point of the city, which stood at the junction of North and South
Street, where much business was transacted, before going to the quarters
prepared for him in the bishop's palace.  Hugh got away at last, but he
was in the rear of things, and could get no nearer than the tail of the
procession, every now and then catching the gleam of armour in the
distance as some corner was turned, while the people were cheering and
pushing with all their might, and gathering the largesse freely
distributed.

Gervase came home in high good humour, for the king had received the
guild officers very cordially, and promised a hearing for the next day,
the townspeople having certain matters to plead against the clergy with
reference to the walls of the close--a very fruitful source of dispute.

"'Tis a pity though, goodman, that the king is lodged in the palace
where the bishop will have his ear," said Franklyn.

"Pish!" answered Elyas.  "Little thou knowest of Edward if thou thinkest
him to be so easily turned!  He will look into the affair and judge
according to right.  No favour beyond that need bishop nor mayor look
for.  But there is no doubt that the ecclesiastics are pushing their
privileges as to right of way too far, and I wish there were as good a
chance of getting Countess Weir removed, and restoring the navigation of
the river."

"Father," said Joan solemnly, "I saw the king, and I kissed him my
hand."

"Didst thou so, my popinjay?  And I warrant that pleased him.  He hath a
Joan of his own, what thinkest thou of that?"

"Little, like me?  Father, there was a beautiful shining knight that
spoke to Hugh and Agrippa, and Hugh is to go to the palace to-morrow."

So Gervase had to hear this story.  He looked grave over it, for he knew
what were the boy's secret longings, and Stephen had told him of Sir
Thomas de Trafford's offer, and how it had fallen in with them.  And
though Hugh was his sworn apprentice, and could not be removed, yet the
king, who had a high respect and liking for Sir Thomas, might ask for
his release as a personal favour which the stone-cutter could not
refuse.  Elyas felt, moreover, that the boy's first days of
apprenticeship had not been of a kind to lead him to care overmuch for
his craft.  Franklyn had succeeded in making them full of
discouragement, and though of late Hugh had worked steadily and well, he
had been given no opportunity of getting on, and might well be out of
heart.  Elyas felt very doubtful as to the result of this visit, and was
grieved not only because his promise to Stephen had been to do his
utmost to teach him his craft, but because he really loved the boy.  In
those days apprentices were not treated as "hands," they were actual
members of the family.  Roger was too self-absorbed to have won his
master's affection, and Wat, though he had excellent qualities, was for
ever vexing Prothasy, and committing some clumsy awkwardness.  Elyas was
sure that Hugh had that in him which by-and-by would make his work
excellent, and had set his heart upon bringing it out.  Was all this
hope to end?

Hugh himself was not without thoughts on the subject.  The sight of the
king, the half smile with which he had been recognised, had stirred up
his old desires into ardent longing.  Once again nothing in the world
seemed so grand as to have the power of fighting, and, if needs were,
dying for him.  The grave earnest face, saddened by troubles which would
have overwhelmed a weaker soul, fired the boy's enthusiasm, where others
complained of want of geniality.  Then Sir Thomas de Trafford's notice
had crimsoned him with pleasure and brought back Dame Edith's sweet
face, with which it must be owned Prothasy's could not compare.  He was
sick of mouldings and ratings, and though the Cathedral always raised a
longing in him to be one of the great brotherhood of workers who were
making it glorious, he felt at times a dreary conviction that the day
would never come, and then the old longing to fling down hammer and
chisel grew strong, and he thought that had his father but been there he
would surely have yielded to his longing.

Wat was even more excited than he on the matter of this visit, begging
hard to be allowed to go with him as far as the palace, and quite
content with the prospect of a chance of seeing a squire, or a
man-at-arms, or perhaps one of the pages who swaggered about with much
contempt for sober citizens.  With this hope he stayed outside the
palace gate, where a crowd was collected to see the king.

Hugh's heart beat fast, but he went boldly in and asked for John
Wakefield.  A sturdy, fatherly-looking squire came out, who smiled when
he saw so young a visitor, and reported that the knight was in the
garden where he had gone to look at the towers of the Cathedral.  In
parts of the garden the snow lay deep, and the pages had been amusing
themselves this morning with building a snow man in one corner, but now
were gone off to attend the king, and only Sir Thomas and a chaplain
paced the walks.  Hugh waited until they turned towards him.

"Who's this?" said the knight stopping.  "Beshrew me, but it is the
monkey boy, as my little Nell persists in calling him!  Knowest thou
aught of him, holy father?"

"Naught, gentle sir, more than that by his dress he should be
apprenticed to the Masons' Guild--yes, and I have seen him in the
Cathedral with Master Gervase."

Beckoned to come nearer, Hugh made his reverence and stood bare-headed,
while Sir Thomas questioned him upon what had befallen them: the
shipwreck, his father's death, and his present position.

"And thou wouldst sooner chip stones than be in my household?  By my
faith it seems a strange choice!"

Poor Hugh!  It was all he could do to keep the tears back from his eyes.

"I would rather be in your household, sir, than anywhere in the world,"
he said in a choked voice.

"Sayest thou so?" returned Sir Thomas loudly.  "Then, wherefore not?
Thy master would do me a favour, I make no doubt, and cancel thy bond,
and it would pleasure my little Nell if I took thee and the monkey back
with me, though I know not how Wolf would behave.  Speak up, without
fear, and tell me if thou art willing."

Willing!  Every longing in his heart leapt up and cried out to be
satisfied.  Willing!  What would he not give for such a life!  It danced
up and down before him decked in brightest colours, while on the other
side he seemed to hear Franklyn's ceaseless rebukes, and to feel all the
weariness of unsuccessful toil.  Willing!

But then at that moment his eye fell upon the towers of the Cathedral,
and from the building, faint but sweet, there came the sound of young
voices chanting the praises of the Lord.  And with the sound rushed upon
him the remembrance of his father's words, of the promise he had made,
of all the wood-carver's hopes, and fears, and longings!  Could he
disappoint him?  He covered his face with his hands and sobbed out,
"Noble sir, I would, I would, but I can not!"

"Wherefore?"

"My father--he would have me a carver."

Sir Thomas was silent, but perhaps thinking to pleasure him, the
chaplain pushed the matter.

"But thou mayest choose for thyself now that thy father is dead."

"Nay, holy sir," said Hugh, keeping his head down, "but I promised."

"Nevertheless--" began the chaplain, when the knight interrupted.

"Prithee no more, father; a promise is a sacred thing, and the urchin is
in the right.  Keep covenant is ever the king's word.  What was thy
promise, boy?"

"That I would learn the craft, and he hoped that in time I might work
there," pointing to the Cathedral.  "But William Franklyn says I never
shall."

"Pay no heed to his croaking," said Sir Thomas heartily.  "Work there,
ay, that shalt thou, and when I ride here again with the king, thou
shalt show me what thou hast done."

He kept the boy longer, speaking kindly, and sending him away at length
with the gift of a mark, as he said, to buy a remembrance of Mistress
Nell.  And when he had gone he turned to the chaplain.

"That was a struggle gallantly got through," he said.  "I would I could
be sure mine own Edgar would keep as loyally to my words when I am gone.
But the boy prince's example and influence are of the worst."

And Hugh?

He had done what was right, but right doing does not always bring
immediate satisfaction--very often it is the other way, and we think
with regret upon what we have given up, and something within us suggests
that we have been too hasty, and that there were ways by which we might
have done what was almost right and yet had what we wanted.  If Master
Gervase could have been brought to consent, knowing all Stephen
Bassett's wishes, why, then, surely Hugh might have gone his way,
feeling that he had tried to follow his father's road, and only given up
when he found he could not get on.  And yet twist it as he would, this
reasoning would not come fair and smooth, and there was always something
which he had to pass over in a hurry.  Sir Thomas, too, had said he was
right.

Wat pounced upon him before he had gone far, evidently expecting that he
would have a great deal to tell--perhaps have seen the king in his
crown.  At any other time Hugh might have held his peace, but just now
there was a hungry longing in his heart, so that he poured all out to
Wat--Sir Thomas's offer and his own refusal.  It must be owned that he
was disappointed that Wat took it as a matter of course, while agreeing
that it would have been very fine to have ridden away from Exeter in the
king's train.

"Then with Agrippa in thy arms thou might'st have passed for the
jester."

"Gramercy for thy fancy," said Hugh offended.

"That would become thee better."

"Ay, it would be rare," answered Wat with a sigh.  "I am such an oaf at
this stone-cutting that sometimes I could wish myself at the bottom of
the sea."

"What made thee take to the craft?"

"To pleasure my old mother.  She is a cousin of Franklyn's, and thought
I was a made man when she had stinted herself sufficiently to pay the
premium.  But I shall never be more than a mason," added Wat dolefully.
"Now thou hast it in thee."

"I know not.  Franklyn has never a good word for aught I do."

"Never heed old Franklyn.  He is as sour as a crab, because he wanted
the master to take his little jackanapes of a nephew as prentice.  He
would like to keep thee back, but do thou hold on and all will come
right.  Why, even I can see what thy work is like, and so does he, and
so does the master, only the master will do nothing to touch Franklyn's
authority, and so he holds his peace."

"But you think he knows?" asked Hugh eagerly.

"Think?  How should he not know?  He can measure us all better than
Franklyn, and he knows, too, that I am more fitted for a life in the
greenwood than to be chopping away with mallet and chisel."

It was very unusual for Wat to talk with so much shrewdness and common
sense.  Usually he was addle-pated enough, caring little for ratings,
and plunging into trouble with the most good-natured tactlessness, so
that friends and foes alike showered abuse upon him.  Hugh had taken it
for granted that he would be the same wherever he was, never realising
that his present life was especially distasteful to him, and yet that he
accepted it without gainsaying.  It gave his words now a weight which
was quite unusual, for he seemed never to suppose it possible that Hugh
could go against his promise to his father, while he quite acknowledged
that the other life would have been delightful.  All seemed to arrange
itself simply into two sides, right and wrong, so that Hugh began to
wonder how he could ever have doubted when it was so clear to Wat.

In the house he found Joan shrieking because her father could not take
her forth, and he was glad enough to make her over to Hugh, telling him
that the king was to ride down the High Street to see the new bridge
before returning to the banquet at the Guildhall, and warning him to
take care not to allow Joan to be over-much entangled in the crowd.
Then he put his hands on the boy's shoulders and looked into his face.

"What said the knight to thee?"

"He offered, if thou wouldst consent, sir, to take me back with him, and
to bring me up in his household."

"As I expected," said Elyas, gravely.  "And that would content thee?"

"It is what I ever longed for," said poor Hugh.

There was a pause.  Gervase seemed to find it difficult to put the next
question.

"Does the knight come here then to see me?"

"Nay," said the boy wearily, "it were no use, goodman.  I told him that
I was bound by my promise to my father."

"Ay, didst thou so?  And what said he?"

"There was a holy father there who would have urged me, but the knight
stopped him, and said a promise was binding, and that the king's word
was ever `Keep covenant.'"

Gervase's eyes glistened.  "It was well, it was well.  Hadst thou been
set upon it, Hugh, I had not withstood thee, but I should have grieved.
No blessing comes from self-seeking.  And hast thou," he added more
cheerily, "hast thou forgotten the corbels thou hast to do for the
bishop?"

His words put fresh heart into the boy, and he felt that even had he
followed his own longings it would have cost him much to leave Master
Gervase.  Then Joan ran in, warmly and daintily dressed, gathering up
her little skirts to show Hugh her new long pointed shoes, all her tears
forgotten, and her mind running upon the king and his knights.  Her
mother, though sharp with Hugh, would trust her little maid anywhere
with him, and the two set forth down the narrow streets where was a
throng of villeins, of country people who had poured in for miles round,
of guild-brothers in their distinctive dresses, of monks from the
monasteries of Saint Nicholas and Saint James, grey and black friars,
Kalendar sisters, while mingling with these graver dresses were the more
brilliantly clad retainers of the nobles who had accompanied or come to
meet the king, most gorgeous among whom were those of the household of
Dame Alicia de Mohun, who had journeyed in great state from Tor Mohun,
near Torbay, and the trappings of whose palfrey caused the citizens much
amazement.  As many minstrels, dancing girls, and jongleurs had
collected as if it had been fair time, and the bakers who sold bread by
the Carfax were so pressed upon that they were forced to gather up their
goods and remove them hastily.

Joan did not find it as delightful as she expected.  Not all Hugh's
efforts could keep the crowd from pressing upon her, and he looked
anxiously about for some safer means of letting her see the show.  He
spied at last a projection from one of the houses where he thought she
might stand, and from whence she could look over the shoulders of the
crowd, and there with much difficulty and pushing he managed to place
her, standing himself so that he could both shield and hold her.  There
was no chance of seeing anything himself, for he was hedged in by a
moving crowd, and more than one looked rather angrily upon him for
having secured this standing-point before they had discovered its
advantages.  But Joan was mightily pleased.  She was out of the press,
and could see all that was to be seen, upon which she chattered volubly
to her faithful guard below.

They had long to wait, but there was enough amusement for her not to
weary, and when at last she became a little silent and Hugh wondered
whether she would be content much longer, a cry of "The king!" was
raised, and heads were eagerly stretched to see him turn out from Broad
Gate.  Down came the gay train, larger than that of the day before,
owing to the many nobles and knights, Champernownes, Chudleighs,
Fulfords, Pomeroys, Courtenays, and others, who had come into the city,
and very noble they looked turning down the steep hill between the old
houses.

But Hugh could neither see nor think of them, he was in so much dread
that Joan would be swept or dragged off her standing place.  The people
were wild to have sight of the king, and those who were behind looked
covetously at the projection.  One or two pressed violently by Hugh,
muttering that children were best left at home, and at last, as the
cavalcade drew nearer and the excitement heightened, a wizened little
man pushed the girl off and would have clambered into the place if a
stronger fellow had not collared him and climbed there himself.  Joan
meanwhile was in danger of being trampled under foot, though Hugh fought
and kicked with all the vigour in the world, shielding her at the cost
of many hard blows on himself from those who were bent only upon pushing
forward without heeding what was in their way.  Joan, however, was not
one to be maltreated without protest, and the instant she realised what
had happened, she uttered a series of piercing shrieks, which caused the
king and his train to look in her direction.  Edward pulled up, and two
or three of the men-at-arms, hastily parting the crowd, disclosed Joan
clinging to Hugh, uttering woeful cries and prayers to be taken home.
One of them would have raised her in his arms, but this was fresh
terror, and whispering to Hugh, "Bring her thyself," he pushed them
gently along towards the royal party.

"Is the child hurt?" asked Edward hastily, and then recognising Hugh,
who was red with shame at his own plight, and to have Joan hanging round
his neck, the king smiled, and beckoned to him.  Hugh bent on his knee
as well as he could for Joan, and answered the king's brief questions
clearly.  Someone had pulled the little maid down, and she was afraid of
being trampled upon, and Joan, convinced now that she was in safety,
relaxed her hold and gazed from one to the other with eyes full of
innocent awe.

"She is a fair little maiden," said Edward, kindly, "and thou art a
brave prentice.  Ever keep on the side of the weak.  Now, my lords," he
added, "as the matter is not serious, we will ride to the bridge."

The people cheered lustily as he passed on, and Hugh and Joan were the
hero and heroine of the hour.

"What said he?  What said he?"

"Blessings on him, he hath a kindly heart!  There's many a proud baron
would have paid no heed to a babe's cries, but I warrant me he thinks of
his lady."

"Where's the churl that pushed her off?  A good ducking should he have."

But, fearing this turn of the tide, the man had slunk away, and Joan,
pleased as she was with the admiring epithets bestowed upon her, desired
to be taken home, and made a discovery which moved her to tears, in the
fact that the long toes of her new shoes, subjects of much pride, were
hopelessly-ruined.

She reached the house weeping, and her mother, flying out, rated Hugh
soundly before hearing anything of what had happened, whereupon Joan
flung her arms round his neck, said that Hugh was good, the king had
said so, and the people were naughty.  Prothasy listening in amazement
could scarce believe her ears, making Hugh tell his story over and over
again, and pouring it out to Elyas when he came back from the banquet.

"The king called her a fair maiden, what thinkest thou of that,
goodman?" she asked proudly.

"And Hugh a brave prentice, what thinkest thou of that, goodwife?"
returned her husband, with a smile.

CHAPTER ELEVEN.

AGRIPPA BRINGS PROMOTION.

The king's visit was short, for the next day he departed, and Hugh with
a swelling heart saw Sir Thomas ride away, and with him all chance of
changing his condition.  Still, he had got over the first pangs, was
more content, and resolved that, whatever Franklyn might do, he would
not be discouraged.  He made another resolve.  As has been said, the
apprentices had plenty of holidays, and Hugh cared nothing for the
cock-fighting, which was a favourite amusement.  He liked football
better, but he made up his mind that some of his holiday time should be
spent in a stone carving of Agrippa.  If it pleased Master Gervase,--
why, then, his hopes flew high.

He worked hard at his design, keeping it jealously hid from all but Wat,
whom he would have found it difficult to shut out, and who was
profoundly impressed by his ambition.  Agrippa was not the easiest of
models, since to keep still was an impossibility, but Hugh managed to
get him into clay very fairly, and in a good position.  He was
dreadfully disheartened when he tried to reproduce it in stone; it fell
far short of his conception, and appeared to him to be lifeless.
Indeed, had it not been for Wat, he might have given up his attempt in
despair; but Wat's interest was intense, and he was never weary of
foretelling what Master Gervase would say of it, and how even Franklyn
might be compelled to admire in spite of grudging.  How this might have
been, it is impossible to say; Hugh was spared from making the trial,
for, as it happened, just when Lent began Franklyn was seized with
severe rheumatic pains, which made it impossible for him to work, or
even come to the yard.  Generally one of the other journeymen on such an
emergency stepped into his place, but this time, for some reason or
other, Master Gervase overlooked things himself.  He made a very careful
examination, and, for almost the first time in his life, Wat received
actual praise.

"Thou hast got a notion into thy head at last."

Wat could not resist making a face expressive of his amazement.

"'Twas thou hammered it there," he whispered to Hugh.  "If I tell the
gammer she will think all her prophecies are coming true.  Now where's
thy work?  Hast stuck it where he must needs see?"

"Ay, see a failure," said Hugh, dolefully.

But Wat was too intent upon watching Elyas to have an ear for these
misgivings of the artist.  He fidgeted about instead of working, and got
a sharp rebuke from the master for wasting his time; indeed, Gervase was
so much taken up with seeing that the right vein of the Purbeck quarry
was being used for carrying on the delicate arcades of the triforium,
that it was long before he left the men engaged upon it and came to
Hugh.  His eye fell immediately upon the little figure.

"When didst thou this?" he demanded, taking it up.

"In holiday time, goodman."

Long and silently the master examined it, and every moment Hugh's
fluttering hopes sank lower.  He was sure it had never looked so ill
before.  At last Elyas raised his head.

"It doth credit to thine age," he said, warmly.  "Faults there are, no
doubt: the head a little larger than it should be except in fashioning
the grotesque; the space across the forehead too broad.  But what
pleases me is that thou heist caught the character of the creature,
thine eye having reported it to thee faithfully.  If Franklyn saw it he
would own," he added, raising his voice so that all might hear, "that
thou hadst earned advancement.  Finish this moulding, and I will set
thee on some small bosses which Dame Alicia de Mohun hath commanded for
her private chapel, and if thou wilt thou mayest work Agrippa into one
of them."

If Hugh were pleased, Elyas was hardly less so.  He had been greatly
desirous to find some excuse by which, without seeming to set aside
Franklyn's rule, he might give the boy a chance which he considered he
well deserved.  He had understood something of Hugh's feelings when the
hopes he had given up were once more dangled before his longing eyes,
and the kindly master longed for an opportunity of encouraging him in
his present work.  The carving of the monkey was clever enough to have
really surprised him.  Franklyn's illness came at an excellent time, and
no one could complain of favouritism.  So he thought Oddly enough, the
only one who did was Roger, the elder prentice, who had hitherto seemed
quite indifferent.  He was manifestly out of temper, muttering that it
was enough to have the beast jabbering at you in life, without having
him stuck up in stone, and for the first time doing his best in the
small room the three apprentices shared to make things bad for Hugh.
But Hugh was much too proud and happy to care for this, and he had Wat
on his side, so that Roger's enmity could not do much.  Wat's great
desire was to be himself perpetuated as a grinning mask in the centre of
a boss.  He was for ever making horrible faces in order that Hugh might
judge whether they were not grotesque enough, and poor little Joan,
coming upon him one day with a mouth as it seemed to her stretching from
ear to ear, and goggle saucer eyes, was so frightened that it was all
the boys could do to quiet her.

"If only I could round my eyes and yet frown fearfully!" cried Wat,
making ineffectual struggles to carry out his aspiration.  "There, is
that better?  What do I look like now?"

"Like a grinning cat," said Hugh, bursting into a laugh.

"Not a demon?  Perchance if I squinted?"

"Hearken, Wat, I will not spoil my bosses by such an ill-favoured
countenance, but the very first gargoyle the master sets me to make,
thou shalt be my model.  That is a pact."

"I shall?"

"Ay, truly."

"I will practise the most fearsome faces," cried Wat, joyfully.  "There
shall be no such gargoyle for miles around!  Where do you think it will
be placed?  There is a talk of a new Guildhall in the High Street, and
it would be fine to stare down and grin at the citizens.  Then, whenever
he saw it, it would remind the master of Prentice Wat.  Art thou coming
out on Refreshment Sunday?"

"Where?"

"I never saw such a boy as thou, thou knowest naught!  Why, we make a
figure of straw--Hugh, you could make it finely!"

"What to represent?"

"Nay, I know not--oh, ay, I remember me, it is Winter, only the country
people will have it 'tis Death, 'tis so gruesome and grisly, and they
hate to have us bring it to their houses, and give us cakes to keep it
away.  A party of us are going as far as Topsham and Clyst this time.
Wilt come?"

"'Tis naught but mumming!"

Nevertheless Hugh consented to shape the figure, which represented
Winter in the last stage of decrepitude, and Wat begged an old tattered
cloak and hood, so that it really gave not a bad idea of a tottering old
man, when about twenty apprentices, sinking their constant rivalries,
set out in high glee to visit the neighbouring hamlets, and, when all
was done, burn Winter in the meadows outside the walls, Agrippa, by
common consent, of the party.

They had great merriment, though not by any means universal welcome, for
some of the country folk were so frightened that they closed the doors
of their huts, and stuffed up the window lest the hateful thing should
be thrust in that way.  Others, seeing them in the distance, ran out
with cakes and spiced ale, and even pennies, begging them to come no
nearer.  The boys were very scornful of such fears.

"What harm could it bring thee, goody?"

"Alack, alack, young sirs, I know not, but this I know, that come last
March Snell the smith would have it into his house, and before the year
was out, the goodwife, who had been ailing for years, and never died
before, was a corpse.  Here's as good a simnel cake as you will find for
miles round, and welcome, but, prithee, bring the thing no nearer."

Others there were, however, who made the boys welcome, and feasted them
so bountifully that Hugh vowed he had never eaten so much in his life,
and Agrippa grew to treat his dainties with scorn.  They took their way
at length back to the meadows, bestowed the cloak and hood upon a blind
beggar, who, guessing what was going on, besought the charity of a few
rags, and built a grand bonfire, on the top of which Winter was seated,
in order, as they said, that he might be warm for once.  There were
other groups of the same sort scattered about the fields, and many
elders had ridden out to see the fun, which reminded them of their own
boyish days.  Joan was perched in front of her father on the
broad-backed grey, insisting upon keeping as near to Hugh's bonfire as
the grey could be induced to go, and crying out with delight as the
tongues of fire leapt up, and the brushwood crackled, and at last, old
Winter's straw being reached, a tall and glorious pyramid of fire rushed
upwards; the lads shouted, and the reign of Winter was held to be ended.

Before Lent finished, Franklyn hobbled back to the yard.  Hugh expected
that he would have been very angry at finding him put to really advanced
work, but it is possible that Franklyn was himself not sorry that things
had changed without his having had to give way.  He muttered gruffly
that the boy was no wonder, but had improved with teaching; and he
showed no spite, for though always strict with Hugh, he took pains to
correct his faults carefully, so that his training was thoroughly good,
and Gervase was well satisfied with the two bosses which were Hugh's
share of Dame Alicia's work.  Agrippa peeped from one, half concealed by
foliage, and the other was formed of ivy and holly.  When summer came he
was resolved to follow the master's advice and study different plants
and leaves, so as to catch the beautiful free natural curves.  He had
grown to love his work dearly, and to have high hopes about it, but
perhaps it was the recollection of his father's last words, at a time
when visions of earthly fame seemed dim and worthless, which kept him
from thinking only, as Roger thought, of his own advancement and glory,
and ever held before him, as the crown of his work, the hope some day to
give of his best for the House of the Lord.

The bishop had not forgotten him, often asking Master Gervase for the
little prentice who meant to carve one of the corbels.

"_Ay_, my lord, and it would not greatly surprise me if he carried out
his thought," said Elyas, with a smile.  And he told the bishop of his
work for Dame Alicia's chantry.  "He hath a marvellous fancy for his
age," he added.

"Brother Ambrose at the Kalendarhay complains that he is idle, but says
he can do anything with his fingers," remarked the bishop.  "He would
fain he were a monk, that he might paint in the missals, but thou and I
would have him do nobler work.  Not that I would say aught against the
good brothers," he added, rapidly crossing himself.  "Everyone to his
calling, and the boy's lies not between their walls.  Keep him to it,
keep him to it, goodman; give him a thorough training, for which none is
better fitted than thyself.  It is my earnest desire that proper workers
may be trained to give their best in this building, as of old the best
was given for the Temple.  Thou and I may never see the fruit of our
labours--what of that?  One soweth and another reapeth, and so it is for
the glory of God, let that suffice.  The walls of the choir go on well,
methinks, and in another year or two we shall have reached the Lady
Chapel."

"Ay, my lord."

"And then there must be no more work done by thee for town or country.
I claim it all.  So thou hadst best finish off Dame Alicia's chantry."

"No fear, my lord.  The lady is impatient, and will not tarry till then.
I shall have to go down in the summer to see after the fixing of these
bosses, and of some other work which she hath confided to me, and that
will end it."

The good bishop, indeed, was inclined to be jealous over anything which
took away Gervase's time and attention, and the stone mason had some
difficulty in keeping his own hands free, his skill being of great
repute among all the gentlemen round, and some of them being of fiery
dispositions, ill-disposed to brook waiting.  There was plenty doing in
the yard, and often visitors to see how the work got on or to give
orders, and, as Hugh was the only one in the house who could write or
read, his master frequently called him to his aid when a scroll was
brought from some neighbouring abbot or prior.

At Easter they had, as usual, the gammon of bacon, to show widespread
hatred of the Jews, and the tansy pudding in remembrance of the bitter
herbs.  Also another old custom there was, the expectation of which kept
Gervase on the watch with a comical look on his face, and set Joan
quivering with excitement for, as she confided to Hugh in a very loud
whisper, mother had promised that she should be by "to see father
heaved."

She was terribly disappointed when he went out, and scarcely consoled by
his taking her with him, and when at last he brought her home, clasping
a great bunch of primroses in her little hot hands, she was not to be
separated from him.

"Why dost thou not go and look for thy friend Hugh?"

"They might come and do it."

"Perhaps I shall slip away and not let them find me at all."

But the bare idea of this produced so much dismay, that Elyas was
obliged to hasten to assure her that he would not resort to any such
underhand proceeding.  He turned to Prothasy with a smile.

"An I am to endure it, I would the silly play were over."

"Thou wilt not escape, goodman.  Master Allen, the new warden of the
Tuckers' Guild, has had such a lifting that he was fain to give twelve
pennies to be set down again."

"They'll not get twelve pennies from me.  Richard Allen is an atomy of a
man."

"Ay, thy broad shoulders will make it a different matter," said
Prothasy, looking proudly at him; "but be not over-confident, goodman,
for King Edward is a bigger man than thou, and they heaved him one
Easter till he cried for mercy and offered ransom."

Nothing more was heard till supper-time, when, as Elyas sat at the head
of his table, four stout girls rushed into the room, and, amid loud
laughter from everyone and ecstatic shrieks and clappings from Joan,
lifted the rough stool on which he was seated into the air, and swung
him backwards and forwards.

"There, there, ye foolish wenches!  I'm too heavy a load.  Put me down,
and the goodwife shall give ye your cakes."

"Twelve pennies, goodman!  Thou, a new warden, wouldst not pay less than
Richard Allen of the Tuckers?"

"Ay, would I though."

Whereupon he was screamed at and rocked as unmercifully as any boat in a
storm, until between laughter and vexation he promised all that they
asked, and the four girls went away declaring their arms would ache for
a week.

"Ye will not be able to make the dumb cake on Saint Mark's Eve," Gervase
called after them, "and then, no chance for you to see your sweethearts
at midnight."

"No need for that, goodman," answered the eldest and prettiest, "we know
who they are already."

So many holidays fell at that fair time of the year that the master
grumbled his work would ne'er be done.

"May Day come and gone, ye shall have no more."

But May Day itself could not be slighted, for long before sunrise the
lads and lasses were out to gather May, or any greenery that might be
got, and the prentices tramped through mud and mire, and charged the
thickets of dense brushwood valiantly.  Wat was covered with scratches,
and a sorry object as they trudged home by sunrise, in order to decorate
the house door with branches, and all the other boys and girls were at
the same work, so that in a short time the street looked a very bower of
May.

And now the days growing longer and the country drier, there was less
danger from travelling, and a general desire in everyone's heart to be
doing something or going somewhere, or otherwise proving themselves to
have some part in this world, which never looks so fair or so hopeful as
at the beautiful spring season.  Many of the neighbouring gentry rode
into the city, and the ladies were glad to wear their whimsically
scalloped garments, and their fine mantles, and to display their tight
lacing in the streets instead of country lanes, as well as to visit the
clothiers and drapers for a fresh supply; while their lords took the
opportunity of looking at horses, playing at tennis, and some times,
when much in want of ready money, disposing of a charter of liberties,
to gain which the citizens were ready to pay a heavy fine.

Master Gervase had many visits from these lords and knights, and more
work pressed upon him than he would undertake.  My Lord of Devon had
pretty well insisted upon his carrying out some change in his house at
Exminster, where some forty years later was born William Courtenay, the
future Archbishop of Canterbury, and Gervase was one day cutting the
notches in a wooden tally, made of a slip of willow--which was the
manner of giving a receipt--and handing it to the bailiff, when a tall
man holding a little girl by the hand strode into the yard.

"It is Sir Hereward Hamlin," Wat whispered to Hugh.

Sir Hereward Hamlin, it appeared, had a commission which he would
entrust to none but Elyas, and very wroth he became when he found it
could not be undertaken.  It was evident that he was not used to be
gainsaid, for he stormed and tried to browbeat the stonemason, who
showed no signs of disturbance.  The little girl also listened quite
unmoved.

"They say she is as proud as he is," Wat the gossip commented under his
breath, "for all her name is Dulcia; and the poor lady her mother scarce
can call her soul her own between them."

"I hope the master will not yield," muttered Hugh indignantly.

There was small fear of that.  Sir Hereward's fiery temper and
passionate outbreaks had caused him to be much disliked in the city, and
Gervase would at no time have been disposed to work for him even had
time been at his disposal.

"It is impossible, your worship," he said coldly, nor could anything
turn his resolution, so that Sir Hereward had to leave, muttering angry
maledictions upon upstart knaves who know not how to order themselves to
their betters.

"I would he knew how to order himself to his own," said Gervase to
Franklyn, "but he has never been friendly to the king since he was
forced to restore the crown lands and divers of our rights which his
fathers had illegally seized.  If I had yielded and done his work he
would have thought the honour sufficient payment."

When the week of rogations was at an end, with its processions and
singing of litanies all about the streets from gate to gate, Gervase
told Hugh of a plan which mightily delighted him, for it was none other
but to take him with him on his journey to Tor Brewer, or Tor Mohun,
where he had to go on this business of the Dame Alicia's chantry.  She
had already sent serfs and horses to fetch the carved work, and with
them an urgent message for Master Gervase to come; and as Hugh had done
his work well--marvellously well, Elyas privately thought--he determined
to give him the delight of seeing it fixed in its place, and the two set
off together one morning in early June, with Joan kissing her hand from
the balcony.  The only pang to Hugh was the leaving Agrippa, but Wat was
his devoted slave, and solemnly vowed not to neglect him, and, moreover,
to protect him from Roger, who had developed a keen dislike for the
creature, while Mistress Prothasy had quite forgotten hers.

It was a fair morning, and the country, then far more thickly wooded
than now, was in its loveliest dress of dainty green.  The brushwood was
full of birds, thrushes and blackbirds drowning the smaller notes by the
jubilance of their whistling, while, high up, the larks were pouring out
a rapturous flood of song.  It was the same road along which Hugh had
journeyed twice before, but how different it looked now, and how strange
it seemed to him that he should ever have run away from the home where
he was so happy!  Something of the same thought may have been in
Gervase's mind, for when they were not very far from Exminster, riding
between banks, and under oaks, of which the yellow leaf was not yet
fully out, he pointed to a spot in the hedge, and said with a smile:

"'Twas there I found thee, Hugh, and a woe begone object thou wast!"
Then, as he saw the boy redden, he went on kindly, "But that is all over
and done with long ago, and now thou art content, if I mistake not."

"More than content, good sir."

"That is well, that is well.  A little patience will often carry us
through the darkest days.  By-and-by show me about where thou wast
wrecked.  Ay, the sea is a terrible place for mischances, and for myself
I cannot think how men can be found willing to encounter such risks.
There is talk of building larger vessels and adventuring longer voyages,
but 'tis a rash idea.  What know we of the awful regions that they might
light upon, or whether the vessels might not be carried too close to the
edge of the world?  Nay, nay, keep to land, say I.  Those who must
explore may travel there as Marco Polo hath done, and indeed there are
many tales going about the wonders of the Court of the great Khan of
Tartary."

The road, as they journeyed on, became very beautiful, so wooded was it
and broken, and with ever-widening views of water to the left, while on
the right after a time they saw the ridges of Dartmoor, a very bleak and
barren country, as Elyas told the boy, but now looking softly grey and
delicate in colour.  By this time they had reached the Teign, and here
at Kingsteignton stopped to rest their horses, at a house belonging to
the Burdons of that place, Elyas having done some work for them, and
requiring to see it in its finished condition.  Plain country people
they were, and awkward and uncouth in manners, two or three boys on
bare-backed colts riding up as Gervase and Hugh arrived, and pointing at
them with bursts of laughter.  The girls, Hugh thought, were little
better, and the fashion of their garments curiously odd and slatternly.
When supper--which was very plentifully provided--was over, they set
forth again on their journey, getting into a most vile road, which
lasted for some miles, but took them without adventure to Tor Mohun,
although it led them through an extraordinary number of rocks and tors,
and also between exceedingly thick woods.

Gervase had never been there before, and was no more prepared than Hugh
for the view which met their eyes when they came out of the circle of
these woods.  For there lay a very noble bay, well shut in, and with
very beautiful and thickly wooded cliffs rising up on the eastern side.
In a hollow of these cliffs and hills there clustered a few miserable
hovels, otherwise it was a wild solitude, only so tempered by a kindly
climate and the softness of the sea breezes that there was nothing rough
or savage about it; and just now, towards sunset, with the sea like opal
glass, and the colours all most bright and yet delicate, and the thorns
yet in blossom, it was exceedingly pleasant to the eye, and Dame
Alicia's house, though standing back, had it well in view.

It was plain that she was a great lady by the size of the building and
the number of retainers about, but they heard afterwards that these were
not all hers, Sir William de Sandridge from Stoke Gabriel, and Sir
Robert le Denys of Blagdon in the moor, having ridden over to spend two
or three nights.  An elderly squire took charge of Gervase and his
apprentice, showing them the little room that was to be theirs, and
telling the warden that his lady had been eagerly expecting his coming,
and would see him the next day.

Elyas asked whether he should find workmen in the chapel early in the
morning.

"No fear, goodman," said the squire with a laugh; "Dame Alicia is not
one to let the grass grow under her feet, and I would not answer but
what she may keep them there all night.  Go as early as thou wilt;
follow this passage, turn down another to the right, and thou wilt come
to a door with steps, which will take thee there."

The next few days were days of both wonder and amusement to Hugh.  Dame
Alicia was a fiery and impetuous little lady, using such strong language
as would have brought her a heavy fine had she been an apprentice;
ruling her household and serfs with much sharpness, disposed to
domineer, yet with a kind heart which prevented any serious tyranny, and
sometimes moved her to shame for too hasty acts.  She was at times very
impatient with Elyas, expecting her wishes to be carried out in an
unreasonably short time, and that all other work should give way to
hers; but the stonemason had a dignity of his own, which never failed
him, and kept him quietly resolute in spite of sudden storms.  He would
not consent to undertake the carving of the pulpit, or ambo, which she
wanted set about, declaring that he had too much already on hand, nor
would he yield to Sir Robert le Denys and go to Blagdon to advise on
alterations there.  All, however, that he had to do at Tor Mohun he did
admirably.  It was a proud day to Hugh when he saw the bosses he had
carved fixed in the vaulted roof.  He worked all day in the chantry with
delight, and would scarcely have left it had not Gervase insisted on his
going forth into the air.  Then sometimes he would go out in one of the
rude fishing-boats, and was delighted to find a man who knew Andrew of
Dartmouth, and promised to convey tidings of Hugh to him.

At the end of a week, in spite of Dame Alicia's reluctance, Elyas and
Hugh went back to Exeter again, and to the old life, which had become so
familiar.

CHAPTER TWELVE.

WITH THE PRENTICES IN THE MEADOWS.

Time passed on, weeks, months, years: slowly, though happily, for the
children; ever faster and faster for the elders.  Joan was still the
only child, the darling of the house, but with a sweet, frank nature
which was proof against spoiling.  Roger had long finished his seven
years' apprenticeship, and now worked by the day as journeyman; even Wat
was close on the end of his term, but nobody seemed to think he could
ever be anything except Prentice Wat, whom everybody laughed at and
everybody liked, even better than they knew.  Nevertheless, by dint of
hard belabouring of brains, and a most impatient patience, for he was
ever rating him for his dulness, and yet never giving up the teaching,
Hugh had managed to hammer more out of Wat than had been supposed
possible in the beginning of things.  It was very hard to get him to
take in an idea, but once in his head, he sometimes showed an aptitude
for working it out which surprised the others, and caused Hugh
delightful moments of triumph.

As for Hugh himself, his progress was astonishing.  If he still lacked
something of the technical skill of Franklyn, there was no one, except
Gervase himself, who could come near his power of design.  The boy had
an intense love of nature, nothing was lost upon him.  When he was in
the fields or woods, he would note the exquisite curve of branches, the
uncurling of ferns, the spring of grass or rushes, and was for ever
trying to reproduce them.  By this means his eye and hand were trained
in the very best school, and his designs had an extraordinary beauty and
freedom of line, devoid of all stiffness and conventionality.  He could
never be induced to delight in the grinning masks and monsters which
were the joy of Wat's soul, but when any delicate and dainty work was
called for, it was always Hugh who was set to do it.

His pride and delight in the Cathedral was scarcely less than the
bishop's.  Bishop Bitton was steadily carrying out his work in the
choir, so as to complete the design of his predecessors.  The choir was
now entirely rebuilt, and united to the Lady Chapel, left standing at
the end.  The beautiful vaulting of the roof was in course of
construction, and pushed on with all the speed that good work would
allow.  For one characteristic of the work of those days was that it was
of the best.  There was no competition, which we are accustomed to look
upon as an actual necessity, but in place of this the guilds, which
controlled labour and held it in their own hands, exercised a very
strict oversight upon materials and execution, so that nothing which was
bad or indifferent was allowed to pass; there was no possibility of
underselling, nor of the workman being underpaid.

The bishop had by no means forgotten his idea about the corbels.  As the
beautiful clustered shafts of the columns--of soft grey unpolished
Purbeck marble--were raised to support the arches, above each one was
built in the long shapeless block, waiting to be some day carved into
shape.  Gervase, also, was fired into enthusiasm when he spoke of them,
and if Gervase, then yet more Hugh.  Much of his handiwork was already
to be found in the Cathedral, but this was of more importance, and there
was even talk of the guild admitting into their number a skilled workman
from France, famous for his skill in stone carving.

One day, in the June of 1302, master and apprentice were standing in the
choir, Hugh having just come down from work on the triforium.

"I find my eye ever running over those blocks," said Elyas with a smile,
"and picturing them as they might look, finished.  To-day, at any rate,
I have brought one question to an end."

"What, goodman?"

"I shall be offered my choice of which to work upon myself."

"Ay?" said Hugh eagerly.

"I shall choose that," he said, pointing to one about half-way between
the entrance of the choir and the spot where it was designed that the
bishop's seat should be.  "There is something friendly and inviting in
that pillar, it fits in with my design.  Thou, Hugh, must take whichever
they offer thee."

"If they will accept me at all!"

"I think so," said Elyas gravely.  "'Tis true thy lack of years is
against thee, but there is no other hindrance, and I believe they will
trust me in the matter.  How old art thou now, Hugh?"

"Just seventeen, sir."

"Already?  But, yes, it must be so.  It is all but six years since I
stumbled upon thee in the street, a little fellow, no older than our
Joan is now.  Much has happened in the kingdom since then, but here the
time has flown peacefully."

Much, indeed, had happened to weight the last years of the reign of the
great king.  The second war in Scotland was over; Edward had married
again, the Princess Margaret of France being his chosen wife.
Parliaments had by his efforts become more frequent and more important,
and the parliament of Lincoln, in 1301, marked an era in representative
government, when one hundred and thirty seven cities and boroughs sent
up representatives.  Archbishop Winchelsey was still trying to enforce
the papal supremacy, which Edward ever resisted, and certain disaffected
nobles joined the archbishop.  The king dealt with the two principal
conspirators, Norfolk and Hereford, both firmly and leniently.
Winchelsey he would not himself judge, but his ambassador placed the
matter in the hands of the pontiff, who immediately cited the archbishop
to Rome, to answer for his conduct.  William Thorn, a monk of
Canterbury, thus describes the next scene: "When the archbishop knew
that he was thus cited, he went to the king to ask for permission to
cross the sea.  And when the king heard of his coming, he ordered the
doors of his presence chamber to be thrown open, that all who wished
might enter, and hear the words which he should address to him.  And
having heard the archbishop, he thus replied to him:--`The permission to
cross the sea which you ask of us we willingly grant you--but permission
to return grant we none:--bearing in mind your treachery, and the
treason which at our parliament at Lincoln you plotted against us;--
whereof a letter under your seal is witness, and plainly testifies
against you.  We leave it to the pope to avenge our wrongs; and as you
have deserved, so shall he recompense you.  But from our favour and
mercy, which you ask, we utterly exclude you; because merciless you have
yourself been, and therefore deserve not to obtain mercy.'  And so we
part with Winchelsey."  [_The Greatest of all the Plantagenets_.]

At Exeter, however, as Gervase said, the time had passed peaceably.  Two
burgesses had indeed with much pain and trouble journeyed all the way to
Lincoln, and came back with marvellous stories of the magnificence of
the barons, the crowds of retainers, the quantity of provisions
supplied, and the deliciousness of sea-wolves, now tasted for the first
time.

And, greatly to Hugh's delight, it appeared that Sir Thomas de Trafford,
being there with his lady and children, applied to one of the Exeter
burgesses for news of Hugh, and sent word he was glad to hear that he
was a good lad, and doing credit to his craft.  And Dame Edith
despatched him a token, a rosary from the Holy Land, and the two sisters
a gift of a mark to Agrippa, to buy him cakes.

On poor Agrippa the years had, perhaps, told the most hardly.  He
suffered much from the cold winters, and had lost a good deal of his
activity.  But on the whole he had a very happy life, with no fear of
ill-usage from boy or man, for he was as well-known to all the citizens
as any other dweller in the High Street, and was held to be under the
special protection of the guild of which Elyas was warden.

That June in which Gervase and Hugh talked in the Cathedral found Wat in
low spirits.  He had been out of his apprenticeship for nearly a year,
but this was the first midsummer that had fallen since he had been
promoted to what might be called man's estate, which promised to require
more sacrifices to its dignity than he was at all willing to make.  On
one point he had besought Master Gervase so piteously that the master
had yielded, and allowed him to remain in the house.  Another
apprentice, one Hal Crocker, had been admitted, and of him Wat was
absurdly jealous, so that Hugh sometimes had to interfere, though Hal
was a malapert boy, very well able to take care of himself.

But Midsummer Eve had ever been a time of high revel for the prentices.

"And this year the bonfires will be bigger than ever," cried Wat in a
tragic voice.  "Alack, why couldn't the master keep me on as a
prentice?"

"What an oaf thou art!"

"I care not for being an oaf, but I hate to be a journeyman, and have no
merriment."

Poor Wat!  He did not so much mind giving up what Hugh liked best in all
the day, the wreathing the doorways with fennel, green birch, and
lilies, but to lose the joy of collecting the brushwood and piling it in
great heaps, with much rivalry among the lads as to which was the
highest and best built--this was indeed doleful.  The meadows were
thronged with crowds, among which he wandered disconsolate, giving sly
help when he could do so without loss of dignity, until to his great joy
he espied Gervase himself dragging a great bush to one of the heaps,
upon which, with a shout of delight, Wat flung himself into a thorny
thicket, and emerged with as much as his arms could clasp.

Meanwhile other things besides fuel were being brought into the field by
goodwives and serving maids.  Round each bonfire were placed tables on
which supper was bountifully spread, and when it grew dusk and the fires
were lighted, all passers-by were invited to eat, besides the friends of
the providers.  The whole scene was extremely gay and brilliant, and
between crackling of green things and chatter of many voices, the noise
was prodigious.  Wat was by this time as happy as a king, running here
and there as freely as ever in prentice days, helping the smaller boys,
seeing that there was no lack of provisions, and inexhaustible in his
good humour.

Several of Master Gervase's friends were seated at his tables, and among
them one Master Tirell, a member of the Goldsmiths' Guild, with his wife
and daughters.  Hugh had noticed one of these as a very fair and dainty
little damsel in a pale blue kirtle, who seemed somewhat shy and
frightened, and kept very close to her mother's side.  The merriment,
indeed, grew somewhat boisterous as the darkness crept on, and the
bonfires were constantly fed with fresh fuel, and certain of the younger
of the prentices amused themselves by dragging out burning brands, and
pursuing each other with shrieks of excitement about the meadows.
Foremost among these was Hal Crocker, who managed more than once to slip
by Wat before the elder lad could seize him, and whose wild spirits led
him to fling about the burning sticks which he pulled out, to the danger
of the bystanders.  Suddenly, after one of these wild rushes there was a
cry of terror.  Thomasin Tirell, the fair-haired girl already mentioned,
started up and ran wildly forwards, stretching out her hands, and
screaming for help.  Almost before the others could realise what had
happened, Wat had sprung towards her, thrown her on the grass, and
pressed out the fire with his hands.  She was scarcely hurt at all,
though sorely frightened, bursting into sobs and hiding her face on her
mother's shoulder as soon as she was on her feet again, and trembling
like a terrified bird.  Her mother soothed her, while Master Tirell
heartily thanked Wat, and Gervase looked angrily round in search of the
culprit.

"Beshrew me, but it was bravely done, and thou art a gallant lad," said
Master Tirell, a portly, red-faced man; "St Loys shall have a silver
chain for this, for the poor silly maid might have been in a sorry
plight had she run much farther, and the fire been fanned into flame.
Shake hands--what, are thy hands so burned?  See here, goodwife, here is
room for thy leechcraft."

It was in vain that Wat protested, he was forced to display his hands,
at which Thomasin gazed, horror-struck, with tears running over her blue
eyes, and hands clasped on her breast.  In fact, Wat was suddenly
elevated into quite a new position, that of a hero, for the citizens
pressed to the spot from all sides and heaped praises upon him.

"'Twas nothing!" he kept saying awkwardly, turning redder and redder at
each congratulation, and looking from side to side for a loophole of
escape.  Then, as Hugh came rushing up with an eager "What is
it?"--"That mischievous loon Hal!  If I can but lay hands on him!"

"Hath he set anyone on fire?"

"Ay, young Mistress Tirell.  Nay, mistress, prithee think not of it--my
hands will be well to-morrow--'tis nothing, Mistress Thomasin--Hugh,"
(aside), "get me out of this, for I never felt such a fool!"

But there was no escape for Wat.  Hal, having been caught, and received
summary punishment from his master, was sent home, and the party sat
down again, some to go on with Prothasy's good things, and Thomasin to
recover a little from her condition.  Nothing would serve but that Wat
must sit down, too, between Thomasin and her elder sister, Alice, and
there he was more confused than ever by faltered thanks, and grateful
glances of the blue eyes.

"How was it?" asked Alice, whispering across him.

"Alack, I know not!" said the other girl, shuddering.  "I felt something
hot under my elbow, and looked down, and there was a line of flame
darting up, and then I screamed, and then--" to Wat--"you came."

"I was too rough," stammered Wat, "but then I always am a bear."

"A bear!  Nay, it was to save my life."

"It was all past in a minute," said Alice.

"But thy hands.  I hope mother has bound them up skilfully.  Is the pain
great?"

"Prithee speak not of it again!" cried Wat in desperation.

It was curious, however, how content he was to remain in his present
position, which Hugh fancied must be terribly irksome to him, Wat always
finding it most difficult to sit still when anything active was going
on.  It made him fear that he might be more hurt than they knew.  But
the bonfires were in full blaze, and every great crackle and leap of
flame caused Thomasin to tremble, so that Wat's presence and protection
were very grateful to her.  And to him it was a new experience to be
appealed to and looked up to as if he were a man; he found it
exceedingly pleasant, he had never believed it could be so pleasant
before.  Mistress Tirell would have him go home with them, having an
ointment which she thought excellent for burns, and though Thomasin
could not endure to look upon the dressing, Wat thought her interest and
sympathy showed the kindest heart in the world.  In fact, it seemed to
him that no one ever had been so sweet, and when he got back late, he
was very angry that Hugh should be too sleepy to listen to his
outpourings of admiration.

As for Hal, he had to keep out of his way all day, Wat scarce being able
to withhold his hands from him, while to Hugh he talked perpetually of
what had happened, and put numberless questions as to what he thought
about it all.

"She was a silly maiden," said Hugh, bluntly, "to shriek and run like a
frightened hare."

"Much thou knowest!" cried the indignant Wat.  "Thou wouldst have had
her sit and be burned, forsooth!"

"Well, 'tis no matter of mine.  Thou hast thy hands burned so thou canst
not work, and had to sit up like the master himself--poor Wat!  I was
sorry for thee!"

"It was not so bad," said Wat, meditatively.  "When thou art a grown
man, thou wilt not care so much for all that foolish boy's play.  I
shall have no more of it."

Hugh burst into a laugh, as he shaped the graceful curve of a vine
tendril.

"What has come to thee?  Who was mad yesterday at having to play Master
Sobersides?"

"I shall play the fool no more, I tell thee.  What age, think you, might
Mistress Thomasin be?"

"Nay, I scarce looked at her."

"I am going soon to the house to have my hands dressed."

"What need for that when the goodwife here could do it?"

"I could scarce be such a churl as to refuse when I was bidden," said
Wat, hotly.

Hugh stared at him, not understanding the change from the Wat who fled
the company of his elders, caring for none but hare-brained prentices;
and as the days went by he grew more and more puzzled.  Wat's hands
seemed long in getting well, at any rate they required to be frequently
inspected by Mistress Tirell, and it was remarkable that he could talk
of naught but his new friends.  He had always preferred the carving of
curious and grotesque creatures, leaving all finer and more graceful
work to Hugh.  But now he implored Hugh to let him have the fashioning
of a small kneeling angel.

"Thou!" cried the other, amazed.  "What has put that into thy head?  It
is not the work that thou carest for."

"I have a mind for it when my hands are well.  Prithee, Hugh!"

"Nay, thou wilt stick some grinning face on the poor angel's shoulders."

"Not I.  I am going to try to shape something like Mistress Thomasin--
well, why dost thou laugh?"

"What has come to thee, Wat?  Since that day in the meadows it has been
naught but Thomasin, Thomasin!  Now I think of it, perhaps the fairies
bewitched thee, since it was Midsummer Eve!"  Perhaps Master Gervase
guessed more clearly than Hugh what was the magic that had wrought this
change, for though he laughed a good deal, he kept Wat occupied after
the first three or four days were past, and Prothasy undertook to do all
that was now necessary for the hurt hands.  It was remarkable that under
her care they seemed to improve more rapidly than at one time appeared
probable, so that it was not very long before Wat was able to handle his
chisel again, though from the great sighs he emitted Hugh was afraid the
pain might be more than he allowed.

But now were no more pranks or junketings for Wat, no more liberties
permitted from the prentices whose merry company he had hitherto
preferred.  He had suddenly awakened to a dignified sense of his
position as journeyman, and Roger himself did not maintain it more
gravely.  Most remarkable, however, was the change in his appearance.
It had always been an affront to Prothasy that Wat would never keep his
clothes tidy or clean, she vowed he was a disgrace to their house, and
that no others in the town made such a poor appearance.  But now--now
times indeed were changed!  Now was Wat going off to the draper's to
purchase fine cloth, and taking it himself to the Tailors' Guild, and
most mighty particular was he about the cut of his sleeves.  And as for
his shoes, he ran to outrageous lengths in the toes--he who had always
inveighed against the oafs who were not content with modest points!  On
the first Sunday on which Wat, thus attired, set forth, carrying a posy
of lilies in his hand, and walking with such an air of conscious
manliness as quite impressed those who met him, Hugh and Joan, with
Agrippa, watching from the balcony, saw him turn up to St Martin's
Gate, and both burst out laughing.

"What has come to Wat?" cried Hugh.  "Didst see his posy?"

"That is for Thomasin," Joan answered, nodding her pretty little head,
"for I heard him ask mother what flowers maidens loved, and mother
laughed, and said 'twas so long since she was a girl, she had forgotten,
but if it was meant for Thomasin he had best ask Mistress Tirell.  And I
know Thomasin loves lilies.  I wonder why Wat likes Thomasin so much?  I
like Alice better.  But he is for ever talking about her yellow hair and
her blue eyes, and wanting to hear if I have seen her pass.  Look, Hugh,
what a fierce-looking man!"

"That is he they call Henry of Doune, and Sir Adam Fortescue is stopping
his horse to speak with him.  And here comes Peter the shereman, and Nat
the cordwainer.  They say that.  Earl Hugh has been quarrelling with the
mayor again, and threatening to stop all the fishing in the Exe.  Thy
father is very wroth; he says the city bears it too tamely, and should
complain to the king."

"Hugh, tell me about thy corbel.  Hast thou thought it out?"

"I am always thinking.  I see such beautiful lines and curves in my
dreams that I am quite happy--till I wake."

"Father says in two or three months there will be a beginning, and I
don't know what to wish," continued Joan.  "I want both of you to do the
best."

"There is no fear.  I cannot match with the master."

"There is no other that can match with thee then!" cried Joan, fondling
Agrippa.  "He first and thou second--that is what it must be."

Hugh shook his head.

"Franklyn and Roger."

"They can work but they cannot design like thee," returned Joan,
eagerly.  "Roger will be mad to be the best, but--unless he steals a
design--there is no chance of that.  Oh, thou foolish Hugh, to make me
tell thee this over and over again when thou knowest it better than I
do!"

CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

BY PROXY.

All through the autumn and early winter Hugh's thoughts were busy about
the corbel work.  He might have been impatient that it was not begun
before, but that he knew the delay to have been gained for himself by
Elyas, who had met with some opposition from certain canons of the
Cathedral.  They objected that it was unwise to put a work of such
importance into the hands of a young apprentice.  Every month gained,
therefore, was in his favour, and the bishop remained his friend.  The
rough blocks were already in their places, ready for ordinary workmen to
"boss them out," and by the end of February, which had been a wet and
cheerless month, this was done.

Gervase was very much in the Cathedral superintending; Prothasy
complained that she never saw him, and even Joan failed to coax him out.
He was like a boy in his longing to begin, saying, and justly, that he
was for ever over-seeing and correcting, and got little opportunity of
letting his own powers have play.  To Hugh, more freely than to any, he
talked of his design, discussing its details with him; but one day Wat,
looking uncomfortable, pulled Hugh after him as he went down the street.

"Talk a little less loudly with the master of what his _surs_ is to be
like," he said.

"Why?"

"Because there are those who would give their ears to have some notions
in their thick brains, and would filch other folks' without scruple."

"Roger?"

"Ay, Roger is ever conveniently near when there is aught to be heard,
and he is mad because the men say thy work is sure to be the best--after
the master's.  So beware, for the master thinks all as honourable as
himself.  What's this?"

For by this time they had got near the conduit and the market, and a
crowd of people were coming along hooting and jeering some object,
which, as they approached, turned out to be a man seated on a horse with
his face to the tail, and a loaf hanging round his neck.

"Why, 'tis Edmund the baker!" cried Wat in great excitement.  "Look how
white he is--as white as his own meal!  This comes of adulterating his
bread, and now he will be put in the pillory, and his oven destroyed.
Which wilt thou go to see, Hugh?"

"Neither.  And what will Mistress Thomasin say of thy caring to see a
man pilloried?"

"Oh, Mistress Thomasin, she is too dainty and fine!  Her sister is more
to my mind.  Come!"

But Hugh would not.  He left Wat, and walked down the High Street, and
across the bridge with its houses and its chapel, and out into the
country.  A high wind was driving grey clouds swiftly across the sky,
and now and then a dash of rain came in his face.  The year was forward,
and already buds were swelling, and the country showing the first signs
of spring.  Though so many years had passed Hugh could never walk in
this direction without remembering his first coming to Exeter.  How glad
his father would be to know how it was with him!  He was in the last
year of his apprenticeship, and receiving wages of ten shillings a
month, no small sum in those days.  That he had got on in his craft and
satisfied his master Hugh was aware, and now before him opened such an
honourable task as a lad of his age could not have hoped for; what
Stephen had longed for was about to come to pass, and Hugh knew that it
was possible for him to bring fame and honour to his father's name.

With such thoughts, too, necessarily was joined very deep gratitude to
Master Gervase.  He had never faltered in his kindness; had Hugh been
his own son he could not have trained him more carefully, or taught him
more freely, with no grudging thoughts of possible rivalship.  He had
given the boy of his best, and Hugh's heart swelled as he recognised it,
wondering whether it would ever be in his power to do something by way
of return.  Poor Hugh!  He little thought how soon the occasion would
come!

Then, as ever, he fell to studying the beautiful spring of branch and
twig, and shaped and twisted them in his own mind, and saw them fair and
perfect in the corbel, as artists see their works before they begin to
carry them out, as yet unmarred by failure.  Some of these models he
bore home to study at leisure, and in the doorway met Elyas.

"I was looking for thee.  John Hamlyn and I have had our commission to
begin, and we are to hear about thee in two or three days.  Have no
fear.  The bishop and I are strong enough to carry the matter; beshrew
me, am I not the one to judge who is the best workman?"

"I may get the block ready for you, sir?" said Hugh eagerly.

"That may'st thou not, for I have already spoken to Ned Parsons, and he
is there at this moment.  Why, thou silly lad, disappointed?  Thinkest
thou that seeing thee set to do the rough labour will dispose them to
choose thee for the better?  Nay, nay, leave it to me, and do thou
perfect thy design, remembering that it is a great and holy work to
which thou art admitted.  And hark ye, Hugh, spare no time in the
design, and be not over-bold.  Take something simple, such as ivy with
the berries.  Do that well, and it may be a second will fall to thy
share."

No need to bid him be industrious.  Hugh flung himself into it with such
intensity of purpose that for the next day or two he could hardly eat or
sleep.  Wat, whose fate was also in the balance, took it with the utmost
philosophy, said he should do his best, hoped that would turn out better
than he expected, and snored peacefully the moment he was in his bed.
Roger, who was certain to have the work, was as absorbed as Hugh, but
silent withal.  His nature was moody and suspicious, he gave no
confidence, and Wat was not far wrong when he said that he was on the
watch for what he could gather as to the designs of the others.  Hugh
generally drew his fancies on a bit of board with a stick sharpened and
burnt.  Usually he rubbed them out as soon as he had them to his fancy,
but once or twice he had left them about, and was little aware how Roger
had made them his own, or what exact copies were stowed away in a box.

It was a week after Hugh's walk outside the walls that he saw Elyas come
into the yard with Master William Pontington, the canon of St Peter's,
who a few years before had bought Poltimore of Lord Montacute.  Hugh's
heart beat so fast that his hand was scarcely so firm as usual, and he
chipped the feather of a bird's wing.  For something in Gervase's face
told him that he brought news.  Wat was working in the Cathedral.
Presently the master and the canon came and stood behind Hugh.  Hugh's
hand trembled no more; he cut with astonishing freedom and power,
feeling himself to be in a manner on his trial.  Yet the silence seemed
to him to last almost beyond endurance.  He could not see the proud look
on his master's face, nor watch the change of expression from cold
indifference to eager interest on that of the canon.  His own work never
reached his hopes or his intentions, and he was far more quick to see
its faults than its beauties.  Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Enough, goodman," said a voice, "I give in.  Since I have seen this
young springald of thine at work, I own thou hadst a right to praise him
as thou hast done.  Give him a corbel and let him fall to at it as if it
were this capital he is carving now, for the bird and her nest are as
cunning a piece of workmanship as I have ever beheld."

"Thank his reverence, Hugh," said Gervase gleefully.

But Hugh turned red and then white, and could scarce stammer out the
words.

"Ay, ay," said the canon good-humouredly, "no need for more; and I am
glad thy heart is so set upon it, because now thy heart will go into thy
hand, and, to tell thee the truth, that is what I feared might be
wanting in such a young worker.  Is that truly all thine own design?"

"The other men would be more like to come to Hugh than Hugh to go to
them, holy sir," put in Elyas.

The canon, indeed, could scarcely believe his eyes.  He made the young
man show more of his carving, heard something of his father's skill, to
all of which he had hitherto turned a deaf ear, and departed, ready to
do battle for Hugh against any who spoke a disparaging word.

"There goes thy most persistent opponent," said Elyas, coming back and
rubbing his hands in glee; "'twas all I could do to bring him here, and
he grumbled the whole way about putting work into inexperienced hands,
and I know not what!  Now to-morrow, Hugh, Ned Parsons will have
finished his blocking out for me, and I will set him to thine.  I shall
give thee the first pillar in the choir on the opposite side to mine
own.  It is not so well in view as some of the others, but that should
make no difference in its fairness.  And here is Joan to be told the
news."

Joan shook her wise little head over it, and opined that now Hugh would
be worse than ever in neither eating nor sleeping.  But it was not so.
He was very quiet all that day, and when work was over he and Joan set
off for the Cathedral that he might look upon his pillar--with what
longing eyes!--and picture it again and again to himself as it should
be.

"And there is father's--shaped," said Joan; "how long and slender it
looks!  I do hope that his will be the most beautiful of all, because he
is older, and because you have all learnt from him, and because--he is
father and there is no one like him!"

"No fear!" said Hugh.  "I have seen his designs.  Not one of us can
overpass him."

"Mother is not easy about him, either," said Joan, who had sat down and
clasped her hands round her knees.  "He has pains in his head and
dizziness, and he will not have the leech because he says he talks so
foolishly about Mars and Venus, and father says he does not believe the
planets have aught to do with us.  Dost thou think they have?"

"I know not," said Hugh unheeding.  "Joan, hast thou heard where Roger's
is to be?"

"On the same side with father's, and Wat opposite, and Franklyn between
thee and Wat.  Tell me once again how thine ivy is to curl."

From one cause or another there was a slight delay in the preparation of
Hugh's block.  Something hindered Ned Parsons, or he was slower in his
work, or kept Mid-Lent too jovially; at any rate there was a check which
seemed very terrible to Hugh, and Roger and Wat were both at work before
him.  Wat intended to carry out a bold design of leaf and fruit, but he
vowed that something grotesque there must be, and if he might not put
Agrippa there, he should have a neighbour's dog which had shown a great
liking for him.  It must be owned that Wat was of a somewhat fickle
disposition, his fancy for angels and lily-bearing maidens was over, and
Mistress Thomasin was betrothed to a rich burgess.  It seemed likely
that he would lose his heart and find it again many a time before the
final losing took place.

Meanwhile it was evident to more than the wife that something was amiss
with Elyas.  He was at work on his corbel, but heavy-headed and
depressed, finding the carving for which he had longed a labour, and not
really making good progress.  Of this he was fully conscious, so
conscious indeed, that a fear evidently oppressed him that his hand
might have lost its power, and he spoke of it anxiously to Hugh.

"I wot not why it is," he said, wearily passing his hand across his
face, "but though I know what I have to do, I fail in the doing.  Come
with me to-day, Hugh, and see for thyself."

And, indeed, Hugh, when he had mounted the ladder and raised the cloth
concealing the carving, was fain to acknowledge that it was as Gervase
said.  Instead of the firm and powerful strokes which marked his work in
all stages, there was a manifest feebleness, hesitation, and blurring
which filled Hugh with dismay.  It was only the beginning; nothing was
there which might not be set right, but what if indeed his skill was
failing?  He could hardly bear to meet the questioning in Gervase's
eyes.

"Master--it--it--"

"Speak out--speak freely," said Elyas hoarsely.  "It is bad work?"

"It is not as thy work.  Thou art ill, and thy hand feeble; wait a
little, and let the sickness pass."

The other shook his head.

"Nay, I dread to wait.  Something, some fear of the morrow drives me on.
Hugh, this on which I have set my heart--is it to be snatched from me?
I see it before me, fair and beautiful, a joy for generations to come.
I can do it.  I have never failed before, how can I fail now?  And yet,
and yet--"

He covered his face with his hands.  Hugh, inexpressibly moved, laid his
hand on his arm.

"Sir, dear sir, it is only a passing malady.  In a few days you will
look back and smile at your fears.  Come home and let Mistress Prothasy
make you a cooling drink."

But Elyas was obstinately determined to work while he could.  Haunted by
a fear of disabling sickness, unable to believe that the next stroke he
made would not show all his old vigour, he toiled, struggled, and went
home more disheartened than ever.  Yet there were no absolute marks of
illness about him, and Prothasy was neither fanciful nor over-anxious,
and the next day thought him better.  Work over, Hugh went up to his
room to perfect his designs, for presently he was to begin.  With his
board and burnt stick he traced in full the ivy clusters upon which he
had decided, carrying out all the smallest details, so that he might
have it well in his mind before he put his tool to the stone.

Satisfied he was not, but yet it seemed to him that the lines were
fairly good, and it was broad and simple, such as Gervase had suggested.
He had finished and was holding it at arm's length to search for
shortcomings when he was startled by a cry, and the next moment heard
Joan's voice calling wildly, "Hugh, Hugh!"

Hugh dashed the board on the ground, and rushed towards the cry.  He
found Prothasy kneeling on the ground, holding her husband's head in her
lap, while Joan, with a terror-struck face, was unfastening his vest as
well as her trembling little hands would allow.

"The leech!" was all Prothasy could say, and Hugh was out of the door
the same moment, flying down the street in pursuit of the first
apothecary he could find, so that they were back before Prothasy had
dared to hope.  It appeared that Elyas had but just come in from the
Cathedral, when, without warning, he dropped on the ground, cutting his
head against a sharp projection.  He remained unconscious for many
hours, and the leech looked grave, the more so when it was found that
all one side was affected, so that his arm and leg were useless.

A heavy sadness hung over the house, even Hal hushing his malapert
tongue.  The warden was greatly beloved by all; they were, moreover,
extremely proud of his genius, and now--was that strong right hand to
lie helpless!  As the news spread some of the families near sent their
serfs to ask tidings; the good bishop came himself, full of grief.

"Truly, goodwife," he said to Prothasy, "this blow falls heavy on us
all.  I know not what we can do without him, he has been the very spring
of our work, ever cheerful, ever ready, seeing to everything; in good
sooth we have had in him a support on which we have leaned more heavily
than we knew."

Prothasy stood up, white and cold, and apparently unmoved.  Very few
were aware of the tempest which raged in her heart; bitter remorse for
many sharp words, passionate love, sickening anxiety.  She had often
been jealous of the work which seemed to absorb Elyas, and many a time
had flouted him for some kind action of which she was secretly proud,
and against which she would not have said a word had she not known well
that he would not be shaken from it.  And the worst was, that so strong
had grown the habit, that she was conscious now, in the midst of what
was little short of torture, that were he to recover from his sickness
it would be the same thing again.  Joan little knew with what a weary
longing her mother looked at her--to be a child again, to have no chain
of habit binding her round and round, to be free!

For a few days the works in the Cathedral were stopped.  The bishop
ordered this as a mark of respect to Gervase, the most self-denying mark
he could pay.  There were many things to carry out in the yard, and
Franklyn, looking wretched, and perhaps, like Prothasy, bearing a burden
of self-reproach, kept strict rule, and would permit no idling.  Hugh,
however, could be little there.  After Gervase recovered his
consciousness it was plain enough that he liked Hugh to be with him.
They sometimes thought, from the wistful look in his eyes, that he
wanted to say something, but as yet his speech was unintelligible.  Wat
was of no use in the sick-room; it was always impossible for him not to
make more noise than two or three others put together, even when he was
walking on tip-toe, and painfully holding his breath.  But in the house
he was invaluable, thought nothing a trouble, would run here and there,
fetch the apothecary or the leech, or walk miles on any errands they
could devise.  When three or four days had passed, and hope had
strengthened, Hugh found him one day belabouring Hal Crocker for having
ventured to tease Agrippa.  Hal took advantage of the newcomer to
wriggle himself off and escape, making a face at Wat as he did so.

"That is the most incorrigible varlet in the town," said Wat, looking
after him wrathfully.  "Now, is aught wanted?"

"No.  He is sleeping."

"He will soon be himself again," said the other, joyfully, "and thou
wilt set to work."

They were both young and both hopeful.

"Ay, so I think," returned Hugh.  "And thou, too?"

"Mine will not do the master much credit, though I have got a fancy for
my dog.  When we are all gone and forgotten, there will Spot be, gazing
down on a fresh generation of citizens.  Think of that, Hugh!  What will
they be like, I wonder?  New faces and new fashions.  Come up the street
with me.  The itinerant justices came this morning, and I want to know
what they have done to the forestaller whom they caught half-way to
Brampford Speke, meeting the people on their way to market Roger said he
was to have two years in gaol."

"Wat?"

"Ay."

"I wanted to ask thee.  Thou rememberest the day the master was taken?"

"Ay."

"I was in our room, and had just drawn out my design on the board."

"Ay, thy head was full of thy old _surs_.  Well?"

"When I heard them cry I ran down and flung it on the ground, and it is
gone."

"Gone!  Oh, that thief Roger!"

"Thou thinkest so?"

"Thinkest?  Who else?  It was not I--nor Agrippa.  Hast thou asked?"

"Ay, and he was very wroth."

Wat doubled his fists and made several significant movements.

"That is what he has been trying for--to get at thy designs, thine or
the master's.  How couldst thou be such an oaf?"

"Who could think of it then?"

"He could, at any rate.  He would think how to push himself to the front
if he had to do it over all our dead bodies.  Say good-bye to thy
design, friend Hugh!"

"Nay, I'll not bear it," cried the young man, angrily; "if he use my
design I'll proclaim it through the town.  And he works fast, and will
get the advantage of me, because the master will not spare me while he
is so ill.  Out on him, what can I do?"

"Change thy design," advised Wat, sagely.  "To whom canst thou complain
with the goodman ill?  Franklyn ever favours Roger."

There was truth enough in the words to make Hugh very angry with the
feeling of having been treacherously dealt with, and of having no means
of righting himself.  When, the next day, Roger went off to the
Cathedral, rightly or wrongly Wat and Hugh fancied there was an air of
triumph about him, which was infuriating.  Hugh could not be spared, but
Wat vowed he would make out by one means or another what he was
intending to carve.  He began by coming up to him as he stood at the
foot of the ladder choosing his chisel, and asking what was his subject.
It took Wat rather aback when Roger stared full in his face and
answered, "Ivy."

"Ivy!  What, the same as Hugh?"

"I know naught of Hugh."

"That thou didst then.  Thou hast heard him speak of it a dozen times."

"I have better things to do than to listen to idle prentice talk."

"The master can witness that thou heardest."

"Let him--when he can!" said Roger, with a hard laugh.

"Now, out on thee for a false loon!" cried Wat.

He might have said more but that two of the chapter were close at hand,
and he flung himself away with a heart full of rage, and betook himself
to his own corbel, on which he vented a good deal of force which he
would gladly have employed in pommelling Roger.  And this having a
calming effect, he came to the conclusion that it would be best for Hugh
to take no notice of the older man's perfidy.  There was no proof that
Roger had stolen the design, there was nothing except honour to prevent
his using the same foliage, and with Gervase ill, an accusation might
meet with little attention, and perhaps harm Hugh more than Roger.

Wat groaned, and dug in his tool with a violence which it cost him no
little trouble to repair.

Perhaps Hugh was helped to patience by the circumstances of Gervase's
illness.  There was something so infinitely sad in this sudden check at
the time when all the master's hopes seemed to be on the point of
touching fulfilment, that such a disappointment as Hugh's must be
comparatively trifling.  He was young, he could wait.  Besides, he would
not count it as a disappointment, it was only a delay.  Elyas was
already better, and probably in another week he would be free.  And
meanwhile, if his design had been filched, he would work out another--
that he could do while in Gervase's room, and his hopes rose high.  He
had chosen the ivy because the master had counselled simple forms, but
he felt as if now, with this taken from him, he was free to try a higher
flight, and he fell hopefully to work with all the glad consciousness of
power.

Elyas was better, but his speech remained much affected, and as his
strength returned, there were an evident restlessness and anxiety which
were alarming.  It became, indeed, clear that something weighed on his
mind, and the leech showed more common sense than was usual with him
when he pronounced that, unless the trouble could be removed, it might
go hardly with his patient.  Everybody, frightened out of their wits by
this prediction, tried their best to find out what was amiss.  Prothasy
tried--with a patience which no one had seen in her before.  Joan
tried--laying her pretty head fondly upon the poor useless right hand.
Hugh tried--and sometimes they fancied that his efforts came nearest to
the hidden trouble, though never quite reaching it.  Hugh spoke of the
Cathedral works, of how Franklyn, Roger, Wat, and two other men had
begun, of how glad all would be when Elyas himself was able to be there
again.  And then, fancying that perhaps he feared lest another should
touch his corbel, he told him that the bishop himself had said it should
wait for him even were all the others finished.

A feeble--so feeble as to be almost imperceptible--shake of the head
made Hugh impress this the more strongly, and then followed a painful
effort to make them understand something, of which they could not gather
the right meaning.  It was terrible to Prothasy--almost more, indeed,
than she could bear.

The bishop heard of this drawback, for the warden's anxiety and distress
had the worst effect upon his strength, and they began very much to fear
that if they were not removed they might lead to another attack more
serious than the last.  He came himself to see Gervase with the hope of
fathoming the trouble; and at any rate his visit gave pleasure, for the
sick man's eyes brightened as the bishop stood in the doorway and
uttered the words of peace.  They could even make out a murmur of "This
is kind."

Bishop Bitton sat on the stool which Prothasy put for him, and set
himself to chat about all that was going on in the Cathedral.  Then he
said--

"We think there is something on thy mind, goodman, which thou canst not
explain, and which retards thy recovery.  It may be that I can arrive at
it, but do not try to speak.  Here lies thy left hand.  When thou
wouldst say Ay, lift thy forefinger so, and for Nay, keep thy hand
still.  Now, first, is there something thou wouldst say?"

The finger was raised.

The good bishop nodded, proud of his ingenuity.

"Hath it aught to do with thy spiritual condition?"

No sign.

"Or thy worldly matters?  Nay.  Thy wife?  Thy child?  Any of thy
relations?  Nay, to all.  Then we will come to municipal matters.  Doth
anything there weigh on thee?  Still nay.  Thy guild?"

The bishop persisted in a string of questions which brought no response,
before arriving at the subject of the Cathedral, which in his own mind
he doubted not was where the trouble lay.  Indeed, his first question as
to whether it were not so, brought the lifted finger, and a hopeful
gleam in the eyes.  Only Prothasy was in the room, Hugh having gone down
to the yard.

But, try as he might, the bishop found his task very difficult.  They
narrowed the matter at last to the corbel, but Elyas got restless and
irritable with making efforts to speak and explain himself, and the
bishop laid his hand finally upon his arm, saying kindly--

"Have patience.  We shall reach it in time.  Thou dost but fever thyself
with vain struggles.  Hearken.  I have assured thee that we will wait
months, ay, years if thou wilt, till God gives back thy strength.  Is
that what thou desirest?"

No sign.

"Nay?" repeated the bishop, in some surprise.  He paused, and then bent
forward.  "Wouldst thou then have another take the work?  Ay?  And carry
out thy designs?  Ay, again.  Goodman, were that not a pity?  A little
patience and thy strength may come back, the leech says--"

But his words died away before the look which the sick man turned on
him.  He looked away to collect himself.

"If it must be so," he said at length, hesitatingly.  "Goodwife, you
understand it as I do?  It is no doing of ours."

"Nay, my lord, it is clearly his wish," said Prothasy firmly.

"And now," Bishop Bitton continued, "we must know to whom thou wouldst
confide it.  The other warden, John Hamlyn, ranks next to thee."  But it
was evident that Gervase would have none of John Hamlyn.

"Walter Bennet?"

No.

"Well, it is natural thou wouldst keep it in thine own yard.  William
Franklyn, thy head man?"

Still no.

The bishop pondered; named two other skilled workmen, and received no
assent.

"Thou thinkest well of thy Roger?  Nay, again!--Wat?--who remains,
goodman?  Thy prentice Hugh is too young."

But to the good bishop's amazement Elyas, looking eagerly at him,
raised, not the finger only, but the whole hand.

"Hugh!  Thou wouldst choose Hugh!  Bethink thee that he is but a
prentice, and when we gave him the work it was thought that thou wouldst
advise and help him."

Still there could be no doubt that this was the master's desire; Hugh
and none but Hugh was to carry out his design, and carve his corbel.
The bishop shook his head doubtfully, but he could not gainsay Elyas;
there was so much relief apparent in his face, and his lips moved as if
in thankfulness.

"It shall be as thou wilt," he said gravely.

He told Prothasy that she must use her judgment and send Hugh to his
work when Elyas could spare him, and went away, doubtful, it must be
owned, of his own wisdom in handing over one of the most prominent of
the corbels to the youngest of the carvers.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

WILL ROGER SUCCEED?

Hugh's first feeling was one of bitter and intense disappointment.  He
cared not one jot about the position of the corbel, what he did care for
was the working out his own design, seeing that, as it were, spring into
life under his hand.  It was a very different thing to carry out another
man's, for, however good the execution might be, that could not equal
the joy of creation.  He turned quite white when Prothasy told him,
thinking the news should give him proud delight, but, curiously enough,
Joan, who was in the room, child as she was, understood his feelings
better, and the moment her mother left slipped her hand in his.

"Alack, alack, poor Hugh!"

"There go all my hopes," he groaned.

"But it is for father," she urged.  "Bethink you how grievous it is for
him to have no hand in what he longed for."

"I think of my father, too.  I wanted to credit his name."

"Nay," said Joan softly, "if he could speak he would say there were
nobler things than fame."

Was not that really what he had said, and was it not strange that she
should repeat it?  But then Joan ever had strange thoughts for her age,
and Hugh's better nature came to his aid.

"In good sooth, thou art right, Joan," he said after a pause.  "Whatever
it cost me, I will remember that I might not be working in the Cathedral
at all were it not for the master.  I will put aside thought of my own
fancies, and carry his out with my might."

There was something solemn about this promise, and both felt it so, Joan
looking up admiringly into Hugh's face, and more certain than ever
that--her father always excepted--there was no one like him in the
world.

Gervase gave better signs of mending after the bishop's visit, and his
speech began slowly to clear itself, but they soon found that he was
anxious for Hugh to begin work, and that the latter might now leave him
to the care of Prothasy and Joan.  He made Hugh bring his design to his
side, and evidently wished him to go through it there and to show that
he fully understood it.  It was a conventional design, mixed with
foliage, long, slender, and sharply cut, not unlike the lower leaves of
the shepherd's purse greatly magnified, and depending for its beauty
upon certain strongly marked curves.  It had never seemed to Hugh quite
equal to the master's other designs.

There was much wonder and some jealousy of Hugh when Gervase's choice
became known; but also general satisfaction, there being much
competition in the matter, and no one being willing to give up his own
chance of distinguishing himself by producing and carrying out a design
which should surpass all the others.  No one, that is to say, but Wat.
He had the lowest opinion of his own powers, and thought it sheer folly
to have been chosen for such a task, and he would very gladly have made
over his pillar to Hugh, and faithfully carried out the master's
drawings.  As, however, this was impossible, he set himself to
perpetuate Spot, and at the same time to keep a watchful eye upon Roger.

Roger was the best pleased of all, for, since Hugh could no longer use
his own design, it was pretty sure that no one would interfere with him.
He was a first-rate workman, only wanting in imagination and invention;
he had no fear but that now he had provided himself with the design, his
corbel would hold its own with, perhaps surpass, all others.  He even
managed to smooth certain ruffles in his conscience by assuring it that
since Hugh could not have undertaken any independent labour, no harm was
done to him; ivy had always been in his mind, and he had but assisted
his fancy by a means which had fallen in his way.

Nevertheless, it was remarkable that he took the utmost pains to prevent
Wat from getting a sight of his work.  The carvings were always covered
when left for the night, and there was a sort of tacit understanding
that no one need openly display his work, although often one called
another to give advice upon some doubtful point.  But Roger used unusual
precautions to arrange his materials and himself as he worked, so as
completely to hide the carving from view.  Wat pondered long upon this,
and at last, coming home with Hugh one evening, he asked--

"The design which Roger filched, is it yet in thy head?"

"Ay," briefly answered Hugh.

"Draw it out then again."

"Where is the use?  I shall never have the chance of using it, and if I
had, I could not now when that false loon has had all this time to push
on with his."

"Still--do as I bid thee," returned Wat obstinately.

Nor would he rest until he had the design safely in his keeping.  Then
he carried it to Prothasy.

"Prithee, goodwife, hast thou any place where thou canst bestow this
safely?"

"What for?"

"It is Hugh's design for the corbel which he was to have carved: one he
did before, and has never seen since the day the master was taken ill."

"There are places in the yard without lumbering the house."

"Ay, mistress, but I would have thee keep it where none of us, not even
Hugh himself, should ever see it.  He hath marked the day of the month
upon it--see."

She looked questioningly at him, then took the board without a word, and
carried it away with her, while Wat rubbed his hands and pushed back the
lathes of the window to whistle to Spot, who, as usual, was basking
lazily in the sun on the opposite side of the street.

Hugh worked with all his might.  His chief difficulty consisted in the
extreme anxiety of bishop and chapter, who were really terror-struck at
the idea of so young a workman having so great a responsibility thrust
upon him, particularly without the master being there to oversee.
Constantly one or another was coming, desiring to speak with him, and
urging him if he were in any doubt to seek counsel from the older men.
When he answered modestly enough that he would do so if he felt he
needed help, but that at present he found no difficulty, they looked the
more anxious and uncomfortable, shook their heads, and said it was
impossible that he could have the necessary experience.  All this was
sufficiently depressing, but Hugh found comfort in Gervase's evident
faith in him.  He was so far recovered that his speech had come back,
and a certain amount of power in the disabled arm; he could get about
the house and even listen to Franklyn's account of the work done; but
his supreme pleasure lay in hearing Hugh's report of his work at what
Elyas ever called _his_ corbel, and his chief longing was for the time
when he should get down and see it with his own eyes, though that day
they feared was far away.

He laughed over Hugh's description of the fears of the canons, and
managed to see the bishop and to assure him so confidently of his
prentice's power to carry through the task entrusted to him, that Bishop
Bitton, who had hitherto doubted whether it had not been the fancy of a
sick man, was completely reassured, and tried Hugh no more with advice
to seek counsel.  The chaunter or precentor, however, was not to be
persuaded.  He was a sour little man, who liked to be in opposition, and
one day came bustling up to the foot of the ladder on which Hugh was at
work, intimating that he wished to speak to him.  Hugh accordingly came
down, though not with the best grace in the world, for he knew very well
what he was likely to hear.

"Young lad," said the precentor, pursing his mouth and throwing out his
chest, "it appears to me that this task is beyond thy years."

Hugh was silent, standing gazing down at the precentor.  His face was
much the same as it had been when he was a child, fair and ruddy, with
light hair and honest grey eyes, which looked full in the face of those
who talked with him.  He was tall and very powerfully made; with promise
indeed, in a few years' time, of unusual strength and size.

"As it has been rashly, over-rashly to my thinking, committed to thee, I
say nothing," the precentor continued; "we must bear the risk.  But that
should not prevent precaution.  I desire, therefore, that thou wilt call
upon the older men to counsel thee, and correct thy mistakes.  From what
I learn, thou hast done naught of this; thou art too self-satisfied, too
presumptuous, and we, forsooth, must suffer for thine overweening
confidence.  See that thou act as I desire."

Hugh did not immediately answer, perhaps finding some difficulty in
keeping back hasty words.  When he did speak it was to ask a question.

"Reverend sir," he said, "who of all our guild would know best what I
can or cannot do?"

The precentor hesitated.

"Thy master--in health," he added, with emphasis on the last word.

"Before aught ailed him, he was set upon my carving a corbel."

"Ay, but not a forward one, such as this, and not without his being here
to overlook thee.  This is another matter."

"It may be so, reverend sir.  In good sooth, I found it hard to give up
my own work and take his, but since it pleasured him, and since he can
trust it in my hands, I must work, if I work at all, without such let or
hindrance as you would put on me.  You say truly that it is a great
task.  I cannot carry it out fettered and cramped.  If the Lord Bishop
and his chapter hold that I have forfeited the trust they committed to
me, I would humbly pray to be allowed to resign it.  If it is left in my
hands, then I must be as the other men, free to work undisturbed."

Hugh spoke with great modesty, yet so firmly as to amaze the little
precentor, who had thought he might meet with a boy's petulance, which
he was determined to put down.  He would have liked to take Hugh at his
word and dismiss him, but this he could not venture to do, since the
bishop, though he had had his fears, thought highly of the lad's genius,
and would have strongly resented any such high-handed act.  He found
himself in a position for which he was quite unprepared, obliged to
withdraw his commands, but he was not the man to do this frankly or
fully.

"Thou art a malapert springald to bandy words with me," he said angrily.
"Thou, a mere prentice, to put thyself on a level with other men!  This
comes of being cockered and made much of, out of thy fit place.  But I
shall speak with the bishop, and I wot we shall see whether thine
insolence is to go unchastised."

He spoke loud enough for some of the other men to hear, and marched off,
leaving Hugh very angry, though he had been able to control all outward
signs of wrath.  He went up his ladder again, hearing a chuckle of
laughter among the others, and feeling sore and bitter with all the
world.

"As if it were not enough to have given up what I had thought of so
long," he muttered, looking round at the corbel on the other side,
which, somewhat to his surprise, no one had yet been set upon, "but I
must be flouted at for failing when I have scarce begun, and set to ask
counsel from--whom?  Roger, maybe, Roger, who could not do his own task
without stealing from my wits!  Well, I have finely angered the
precentor, and it will be no wonder if it is all stopped, and I am sent
off, though I said naught that was unbecoming, or that I should not be
forced to say again.  I will tell the master, and he shall judge."

The precentor was indeed very angry, and the first person he met, and to
whom he poured out his indignation, was Master William Pontington, the
canon, who had been one of the last to admit the possibility of the
prentice being allowed to undertake the carving of a corbel.

"This," said the precentor solemnly, "this comes of the bishop's weak--
hem--over-easiness.  If he permitted such a thing, it should have been
under control and direction, instead whereof we have a young jackanapes
perched up there, and left to amuse himself as he likes, and telling
me--telling me to my very face--that he is as good as any other!"

It was well-known among the chapter that the precentor never omitted a
chance of saying a word against the bishop, and the canon smiled.

"The dean thinks as well of the lad as doth the bishop," he said.  "My
counsel is to leave him alone.  If he be trusted with a man's work, we
must trust him as to the manner in which he carries it out, and not fret
him with constant restrictions.  Beshrew me, but were I in his place I
should feel the same!"

So supported, Hugh was left very fairly at peace to toil at his carving,
although even his friends among the chapter felt deep anxiety for the
result, and tried hard to get peeps at what he had already done.  But
Hugh, having once suffered, was almost as careful as Roger to keep his
work concealed, and as for Wat, he made a complete watch-dog of himself,
staying the last of the workmen, and being one of the earliest to
arrive.  He cared far more for Hugh's success than for his own, and he
was the only one who had seen the corbel.  Somehow or other, however,
perhaps from words he let drop, perhaps from glimpses caught of its
progress, the report went about that it was very beautiful.

Every day Gervase eagerly questioned Hugh as to what progress he had
made.  Once or twice Hugh told him of changes he had made in the
design--told him with some doubt lest it should displease him that his
apprentice should dream of bettering his work.  But Gervase was of a
rarely generous nature, frankly acknowledging the improvement.

"I would I could get to see it; thou art right, thou art right, Hugh,
that change takes off a certain stiffness.  Do what thou wilt, I trust
thee ungrudgingly, in spite of precentor or any of them.  And they will
have to own that we are in the right when they see it finished.  Now,
art ready for our game at chess?"

Slowly, but surely, the doubts and anxieties as to the lad's work died
away, and instead of them grew up an impression that when the day came
for its uncovering, something of great merit would be displayed.  The
one most affected by all these rumours was Roger.  His own was
progressing well, and he was the more eager not to be outdone; moreover,
he had injured Hugh, and this very fact made his jealousy and dislike
more bitter.  If, after all, Hugh should surpass him!  Roger gnawed his
lip, and meditated day and night upon some possible means of preventing
such a catastrophe.  He would have given a great deal to see the carving
and judge for himself, and he made several attempts in this direction,
always baffled by Wat's vigilance.  One day he got hold of Franklyn, and
asked him what he heard of Hugh and his work.  Franklyn was a
narrow-minded man, but honest, and he answered openly, that from a
glimpse he had caught, and from what the master had repeated, he doubted
whether the lad had ever done anything so good before.

"He hath great power," added Franklyn musingly.

"Ay, to work at another man's design!" said Roger, with a sneer.  "I
call that another matter from working one's own."

"Marry amen! and so do I," said a voice, emphatically.

Roger started as if he had been stung.  He had not known that Wat was
just behind, and he knew too well the meaning of the words.  But it made
him the more bitter against Hugh.

Through those summer days work went on briskly in the Cathedral.  All
were fired with enthusiasm, partly from the bishop's example, partly
from personal longing to distinguish themselves.  The choir with its
noble vaulting was completed, a splendid monument of Bitton's
episcopate; but the corbels would be a prominent and beautiful feature
in the work, and perhaps, with some prevision that his life would not be
long, the bishop desired very greatly to see them finished.  Hugh worked
incessantly; he hoped before the summer was over to have brought his
carving to an end.  Gervase had been out several times, indeed his
recovery was amazing, but now that matters had gone so far, he said that
he should keep away from the Cathedral until Hugh's corbel was a
finished work.

Hugh had been so much absorbed that he had thought little of Roger,
although he did not relax any of his precautions as to keeping his work
hidden, and Wat and Joan were far more watchful guardians than he dreamt
of.

He had a great surprise one Sunday when they came in from St Mary
Arches, and he saw a big man standing in the doorway, which was still
wreathed with the midsummer greenery, and looked at him at first as if
he were a stranger.  The man, in his turn, stared from one to the other
as if in search of someone; something struck Hugh as familiar, and the
next moment he sprang to his side and seized his hand.

"Master Andrew!" he cried in delight, "where have you come from?  How
long have you been here?  Are you well?  How is Moll?"

The sailor put his hands on his shoulders, held him at arm's length, and
looked him up and down in amazement, which soon broadened into a laugh.

"I never thought to have found thee grown to this size!" he said; "thou
art a man, and a proper one!  Where have I come from?  From Exmouth, and
I would have sailed up in the _Queen Maud_ if your burgesses of Exeter
had not been fools enough to let a woman ruin their river for them with
her weir.  I have had a wish many a time to know how thou fared, and
Friar Luke--we are good friends, what thinkest thou of that?  I never
thought to be friends with a grey friar--gives me no peace because I
bring him no tidings.  Thy father?  Ay, anyone could see it was that way
with him, honest man!  And Agrippa?"

There was much to hear and tell.  The warden took a great fancy to
Andrew and would not listen to his going to a hostelry for the night,
and Prothasy was pleased to see her husband interested.  But the one who
took most to Andrew, and who in his turn was greatly liked by the
sailor, was Wat.  Andrew vowed that Wat should have been a sailor, and
Wat was almost ready to renounce everything in favour of the sea.  Wat
told him all about Hugh, and his work and his genius, and what great
things were entrusted to him at the Cathedral, and promised to take him
there the next morning as early as the doors were opened, and Joan,
Hugh, and Wat must all go forth after the five o'clock supper, and show
him the castle and St Nicolas' Priory, which he looked at with
disfavour in spite of his friendship with Friar Luke, and the
alms-houses of Saint Alexius, which pleased him better.  All these, but
more especially the bridge, made him own that Exeter was a very noble
city.

Hugh could not go to the Cathedral as early as the others the next
morning, because the master wanted some measurements taken, but he was
to follow almost immediately, and there could not have been a prouder
showman than Wat.  He scarcely let Andrew glance round at the fair
beauty of the building before he was off to fetch Hugh's ladder and to
set it up against the pillar.  They were, as he intended to be, the
first there, and the covering might be safely taken off, but he was so
prudent that he darted off to watch, calling to Andrew to go up and
unwrap the covering for himself.  As he stood in the nave, it struck him
that he heard a cry, but he set it down to someone outside, and when
some minutes had passed, and he thought time enough had been given, he
hurried back, expecting to find the sailor full of admiration.  Instead
of this he met him coming towards him, looking, as even Wat could not
fail to see, rather strangely disturbed.  He said at once and roughly--

"Fine traps you set for strangers!"

"How, master?"

"How?  In placing a ladder which has been cut through.  Nay, I like not
such jests."

"Cut through!" cried Wat, with such genuine amazement that Andrew looked
keenly at him.

"Beshrew me, yes!  Didst thou not know it?  The ladder gave way, and I
might have made a fool of myself on the stones below, but that I have
been long enough on shipboard to hold on by the very hair of my head.  I
gave thee a halloo."

"I never thought it was thou, sir.  Cut through!  Then that is Roger's
work again; he would have done Hugh a mischief, the false traitor!  If
only I could wring his neck!  Let me see the place."

He strode off, boiling over with excitement, and Andrew, with a whistle
of some amusement, sauntered slowly after him.

It was quite true.  One of the rungs of the ladder about half-way up had
been so cut where it ran into the upright that it must necessarily have
given way under an ordinary weight, and Hugh, who would have gone up
encumbered with his tools, could scarcely have avoided a bad fall.  He
arrived very soon, and the other men dropped in, Wat questioning them
all closely, not, it must be owned, with any thought that they could
have done such a dastardly deed, but with a hope of getting evidence
that Roger had been seen near the ladder.  In this he failed.  No one
had noticed anything, all the ladders lay near each other, and whoever
had done it had undoubtedly exercised much caution and ingenuity.  The
men were angry.  Many of them were jealous of Hugh, but not to the
extent of committing a crime in order to incapacitate him; such an act,
if proved, would be visited by the most severe punishment the guild
could inflict.  Roger himself came late, he cast a swift glance at the
groups of men standing about in unusual idleness, and another, which Wat
noted, towards Hugh's pillar.  When he saw Hugh there, engaged on his
work as on every other day, the colour left his face, and he glanced
uneasily from one to the other, finally pausing before Wat, who had
planted himself aggressively in his way.

"Is aught the matter?" he demanded.

"Murder or maiming might have been the matter," returned Wat grimly.
"Now, maybe, there will be naught but the hanging."

"Hanging?"

"Of the villain who tried this wickedness.  Canst thou give a guess who
that might be?"

"Thou talkest riddles," said Roger impatiently.  "Let me pass to my
work."

"Ay," returned Wat, "pass.  We others mean to find out who it is among
us who filches designs, and cuts through ladders, and brings shame on
all our body."

Flinging a glance of rage at him, Roger pushed by, and Wat went off to
meet the other warden, John Hamlyn, and to lay the complaint before him.
Andrew's presence and what he had himself experienced in the matter
helped to make it serious, and the crime was sufficiently grave for the
warden to promise that there should be a guild meeting to consider it.

"What evidence hast thou against Roger?"

"He hath done Hugh other harm, sir," answered Wat after a pause.  "He
hath stolen his designs."

"Take care, take care," said the warden warningly, "these be grave
charges.  How knowest thou?  Hast thou seen his work?"

"Nay, sir.  Nevertheless I can prove it, if you will."

"How then?"

"When the master was taken ill, Hugh's designs were stolen, but I made
Hugh draw them out again, and Mistress Prothasy hath them in her
keeping."

"But thou knowest not that there thou hast what Roger is working upon.
Tush, man, these are but idle tales.  Thou must bring better proofs."

Wat was far more grave and sober than usual.

"I wot not if we shall get proofs of this last villainy," he said.
"Someone hath done it, and no other bears Hugh a grudge.  But the other,
thou, sir, may'st prove for thyself if thou wilt."

"Prithee, how?"

"Come with me, sir, and get the board with the design from the goodwife.
Thou wilt see by the date--Saint George's Day--that the carving was not
far enough advanced for Hugh to have drawn his from that.  Keep it by
thee, Master Hamlyn, and when Roger's work is uncovered, judge for
thyself."

"Thou hast not seen the corbel, thou sayest, and this is no more than
thy fancy."

"No more.  Yet I will stake my fair fame upon it," said Wat, boldly.

The warden hesitated, finally said the test was a fair one, and promised
to come that evening and receive the board from Prothasy.  This little
arrangement partly compensated Wat for the failure to bring home any
evidence connecting Roger with the ladder.  At the same time a feeling
had risen up against him among the other workmen, who felt that they
were in a measure compromised until the offender was discovered, and
Roger found himself treated to cold and doubtful looks, while even
Franklyn appeared to have his confidence shaken.  Hugh was the one who
made least of the affair; he was so persuaded of Roger's ill-will that
this fresh proof scarcely affected him, and it was he who induced
Andrew--though more, it must be owned, for the credit of the guild than
from any charitable feelings--to give up his plan of taking summary
vengeance by administering a sound thrashing.

They were all sorry when Andrew departed, carrying not only messages for
Moll and Friar Luke, but a scroll for this latter, written in Hugh's
fairest penmanship, and a marvel to the whole household.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

"HERE'S A COIL!"

"Hugh, when will it be finished--truly?  I am so weary of to-morrow, and
to-morrow, and to-morrow, and it never gets any nearer!  Father is
longing, too, for all he pretends to be patient."

"It is finished now," answered Hugh, gloomily, "only I cannot keep my
hands from it."

"In good sooth!  And art not glad?"

"Nay.  It is not what I would have it.  I had such brave ideas, and they
have all come to naught, as ever.  Joan, will one ever be satisfied?"

"I have heard father say something about `a noble discontent.'  I did
not understand it, but maybe this was in his mind.  And I don't think he
is ever satisfied with his own work.  But thine is sure to be
beautiful," cried Joan, brightening.  "Is it really then to be
to-morrow?"

"Nay; the bishop has decided that as four or five are nearly ready, they
shall wait to be uncovered together on Lammas Day.  The best is to have
the choice of the other corbels."

"And which shalt thou choose?" demanded Joan securely.

"There will be no choosing for me.  Master Hamlyn has a beautiful design
of pears and apples, they say, and Franklyn of vine leaves, and there is
that traitor Roger, he can work.  I shall grudge it to him, but not to
old Wat.  Joan, I verily believe that Wat's will be one of the best."

"Hath he really stuck Spot up there?"

"Hath he not?" said Hugh, with a laugh.  "There he is, to the life, at
the base, but 'tis so cleverly done, and he thinks so little of it!"

"Lammas Day!" sighed Joan, "a whole three weeks!  I shall get one of
your tally sticks, and cut a notch for every day.  I shall stitch a new
coat for Agrippa, and take him with me under my arm.  Where art thou
going?  To the Cathedral?"

"Nay, I had best keep away from the Cathedral.  I am going to speak with
the bridge warden, for a mischievous loon has knocked away a bit of the
monument to Master Gervase, in his chapel on the bridge, and they have
sent up here for some one to repair it."

Elyas had recovered so marvellously that scarcely any trace of his
severe attack was noticeable except to those who knew him best.  He did
not mount on ladders, but in other respects had resumed work, and had
been frequently at the Cathedral in consultation with the bishop, who
was delighted to have his right-hand adviser again.  Of course he might,
had he so pleased, have seen the corbels, finished or unfinished, which
were being executed by his own men, but he had determined to wait for
the general view, and to give his voice as to the best with the other
judges.  Meanwhile, his interest was intense, and he could talk of
little, so that Prothasy, between husband, child, journeymen, and
prentice, had some reason for vowing that she could not get a sensible
word on any subject from a creature in the house.

And this excitement increased as Lammas Day drew nearer.  Roger said
little, but his pale face grew paler, his lips more tightly set, and
there was a feverish light in his eyes which spoke of a fire within.
Franklyn, who was one of the last, worked stolidly on, very much as he
had been used to work in the yard, taking it as a matter of business to
be got through fairly and conscientiously, and knowing the value of his
work so well that he was not troubled with fear of failure.  Wat was
wild with conjectures, thinking most of all about Hugh, but also
devoured by a wish that he had given more care to the beginning of his
work, and ready, if other justice failed, to break Roger's head sooner
than allow him to enjoy the fruit of his wickedness.

The last of Joan's notches was made at last, and Lammas Day dawned,
fair, and hot, and tranquil.  Joan was up with the lark, looking very
sweet and maidenly in her new blue kirtle, and seeing that the green
branches were ready which she had brought in the day before in order to
deck the house as soon as either of their own workers was declared to be
first.

"Saving Roger," she announced.  "There shall be no decking for Roger."

Her father rebuked her for her lack of charity, but he himself looked
uneasy, for he could not forget that Roger had been one of his family,
and treated as a son, and it pained him to the heart to suppose that he
could be guilty of such baseness as that of which he was suspected.  He
hoped with all his heart that his work would prove him innocent.

On all Sundays and holy days the officers of the city, the mayor, the
sheriff, the aldermen, the wardens of Exe bridge, and at times the
members of the guilds, were bound to attend the bishop to St Peter's
Church.  But this day had in it the promise of an especial ceremony, one
in which the bishop took deep interest.  The office of nones being ended
in the Lady Chapel, the procession was to enter the choir, where six
corbels, for the first time uncovered, were to meet the eyes of the
spectators.  And this being so, the usual number was greatly increased,
and presented a splendour of colour which at this time can hardly be
realised.  The ecclesiastical dress was extremely gorgeous, and here
were bishop, dean, and chapter in full robes, the mayor and aldermen not
far behind in magnificence, with a great preponderance of blue in the
civil dresses, and robes lined with fur (or vair).  The guilds added
their brilliancy of colour, the craftsmen wearing their distinctive
dress, and as the procession swept round into the choir, the sunlight
falling brilliantly through the stained glass windows, in themselves one
of the wonders of the time, and as all the beauty of the choir revealed
itself, the grey Purbeck stone contrasting delicately with the somewhat
yellowish tinge of the walls, the scene was one of amazing splendour,
and the burst of song which broke forth as the singers raised the psalms
of degrees, told that it had touched an answering chord in the hearts of
the people.  Most of the great families of the county had sent some
representative.  There were Grenvils and Fitz-Ralffes, Greenways of
Brixham, Bartholomew and Joan Giffard of Halsberry, Sir Roger Hale, and
numbers of ladies wearing long trains, and gold-embroidered mantles, and
on their heads veils; while the black or grey frocks of the friars from
the neighbouring priories gave the necessary relief to colour which
might otherwise have been too dazzling.  Lammas Day, moreover, was the
day of Exeter fair, which added to the concourse.

But Joan had no eyes for any of this great assemblage.  She could just
catch sight of Hugh moving on in his place among the guild apprentices,
and she could see that his head was bent, and knew that his hands would
be knotted together, as was ever the way with him when he was feeling
strong emotion.  But even Joan, clasping her mother's hand, and sending
her heart out to him in sympathy, little knew what a storm of feeling
was surging up in the young man's heart.  His father had never seemed so
near.  He understood, as he had never understood before, the
wood-carver's longing to see his name famous; he understood, too, that
higher longing which had moved him before his death.  In this work of
his Hugh had resigned the ambition for his own honour and glory, for he
honestly believed that all he had done had been to carry out his
master's design, and was unaware of what his own power had added.  Nor
was he going in with hope that even this execution would surpass that of
the others.  He knew his own shortcomings, they often seemed to him to
be absolutely destructive, and he imagined all the excellences he had
dreamed of distributed among the others.  But at this moment it scarcely
troubled him; what he felt was the solemnity and beauty of the scene,
the glory of the building, the greatness of having been permitted to
help in making it beautiful; he raised his head and a light shone in his
eyes, for he knew that his father's deepest yearnings would have been
satisfied.  There were the six corbels, fair and fresh from the carvers'
hands, the rich stone with its almost golden tints adding the charm of
colour to the nobility of the work; there were the clustered columns,
massive, yet light, and high up the glorious lines of vaulting.  Right
on one of the corbels--it was Wat's--struck a shaft of sunlight, and as
the long procession crossed this gleam, all the brilliant colours were
intensified, and the upturned faces of the little acolytes looked like
those of child-angels.  The procession did not pause.  It swept through
the choir and out of the side gate, still chanting the psalms of
degrees, till the voices died away, and the choir was filled by those
who had come to see Bishop Bitton's work thus nobly carried out.

Hugh did not return--he could not, though Franklyn had almost dragged
him by force, and told him that Gervase had asked for him.  He shook off
Wat, who begged him at least to come outside and see the horses and
trappings of the Lord of Pomeroy who had come in from his castle of
Biry, a castle much renowned in the county, and who was famous for his
success in the jousts.  Here was his coal-black horse Paladin, whose
sire he had brought back from the Crusades, and the noblest mastiff Wat
had ever beheld, and such a jester as--

But Hugh was gone.

His heart was too full for speech with anyone.  He had always been a
self-restrained boy who, when deeply moved, liked to be alone, and
sometimes vexed faithful Joan by escaping even her sympathy.  And now he
felt as if only the woods could shelter him.  He loved them deeply, he
went to them for inspiration for his work; he went now when he wanted he
knew not what, for it was neither comfort nor rejoicing, only an
over-fulness of heart.  He could not have told whether he had failed or
succeeded, for the perception of something higher than success had
touched him, and it was this which drove him forth into the solitudes of
the woods.

When an hour had passed the throng had left the choir, and the bishop
and chapter, together with all the officers of the Guild of Stonemasons,
came in once more to pronounce upon the work.  Bishop Bitton was
strangely moved.  He saw before him a work, not yet, it is true,
complete, yet, for the length of his episcopate, marvellous; a work in
which he had loyally carried out the lines laid down by his predecessor.
His health was failing, and the conviction was strong upon him that not
many years of life remained to him.  He, too, like Hugh, would have
thankfully passed these hours alone, but for him it was not possible; he
must listen to the kindly congratulations of the dean, the half-veiled
spite of the precentor, the unintelligent praise of others.  But all the
while his heart was sending up its thankful _Nunc dimittis_.

And Gervase?  His thoughts were perhaps the most mingled of any, and the
most unselfish.  To him the desire of his soul had not been granted.  He
had been forced to relinquish it to others, yet he could rejoice
ungrudgingly, giving full meed of praise and admiration.  And, indeed,
the corbels were of noble beauty.  From one to another the groups
passed, pausing to note each characteristic, and so fair was each that
it was hard to gather judgment.

With one exception.

Unanimously Hugh's corbel, or, as it was rather called, Gervase's, was
declared the best both in design and execution.  It varied from the
others, in which the whole mass was formed of leafage, while this was
broken by curved lines round which the foliage grouped itself, and
nothing could have been more admirable than the freedom of the lines,
and the grace and spontaneousness of the design.  The bishop, after
standing long to gaze at it, turned and stretched out his hand to Elyas.

"This is a proud day for thee, friend," he said heartily, "for by common
consent thy design is held so far to surpass all the others that there
is not one can come near it.  And thy prentice hath ably carried out thy
views."

"He hath done more, my lord," said Elyas, quickly; "the parts of the
design which delight you all are his, not mine.  Never saw I aught more
enriched than my thoughts in his hands.  There is none other to equal
it, that I allow, but the credit belongs to Hugh Bassett, not to Elyas
Gervase."

The bishop looked incredulously at him, and others who had gathered
round shook their heads.

"'Tis impossible," said the bishop.  "Bethink thee, goodman, the lad,
though clever in his craft, is youngest of all the workmen.  Thou hast
ever favoured him, and maybe art scarcely aware how much thy skill hath
aided him."

"My lord, no one knows better than myself how much and how little."

But Gervase, to his great distress, found that his protestations were
disregarded.  Some, like the bishop, believed that in his zeal for his
apprentice, in whom it was known that he took more than usual interest,
he did not remember all the advice he had given; others were perhaps
willing to yield the first place to one who as a leading burgess was
greatly respected in the city, and whose illness had raised the ready
sympathy of all, while 'twould have been another matter to put a lad--
younger than any--there.  Hardly one was there who would give the credit
of more than an excellent execution to Hugh, though Elyas grew hot and
fevered with his efforts to persuade them of the truth, and could
scarcely keep his usually even temper under the congratulations which
poured upon him, and which made him feel like a traitor, though a most
unwilling traitor, to Hugh.  The master of the guild, who was an old man
and deaf, especially pooh-poohed his remonstrances.

"I mind me, goodman, that when thou wast a prentice, and an idle one, I
ever maintained that the day would come when thou wouldst do us credit,
and thy father, honest man, he cast up his hands, and `Alack, Master
Garland,' quoth he, `the day is long in coming!'  `The day is long in
coming,' those were his very words.  What dost thou say?  My hearing is
not so sharp as it was--thy prentice?  Ay, ay, the lad hath done well,
very well, but anyone can see whose was the band that directed his."

"Beshrew me if they will not soon persuade me that I am an old dotard,
knowing neither what I say nor what I do!" cried Elyas angrily to his
fellow-warden.  "I shall hear next that I have carved the _surs_ myself!
Hugh shall show them what he can do when he has his next corbel to
carry out alone.  I will not even look at it."

"It is said that that he will not have," replied John Hamlyn drily.

"Not?  And wherefore?"

"The judges maintain it should be given to one whose corbel has been
solely his own work.  I have withdrawn from the competition, having much
to execute for my Lord of Pomeroy, and some say it should fall to thy
man Wat, whose scratching dog is marvellously well managed, but, unless
I am mistaken, the greater part hold to another man of thine--Roger.
His design is most delicately intricate."

Gervase was greatly disturbed.

"I would have had naught to do with the matter had I believed in such
unfairness," he said, with heat.  "I would I had never asked the poor
lad to give up his own work to do mine, nor hampered him with my
design!"

"Take it not so much to heart, goodman."

"Nay, but I must, I must.  'Tis the injustice that weighs on me, and
shame that Hugh should be served so scurvily.  Roger!  I shall speak
presently with the bishop."

He redoubled his earnestness, speaking, indeed, with so much decision,
that the bishop was impressed.  But, as he said, the feeling among the
judges was very strong, and he did not himself believe that anything
could be advanced that would turn them.  There was, moreover, a
conviction that Hugh was young enough to wait, and therefore, though a
doubt might exist, they were opposed to giving him the benefit of the
doubt.  Nor could anything which Elyas advanced shake their
determination.  Something, it was true, was whispered as to an ugly
story of a ladder, but the thing had never been proved against Roger,
and except among the workmen had been forgotten.  And the workmen were
not the judges.

Ladders were now procured, and the corbels were minutely examined.
Nothing, it was freely owned, approached the beauty of Hugh's, and no
other exceeded it in admirable workmanship.  If both design and
execution had been his, there could have been no question; as it was--

"The obstinate fools!" growled Gervase, under his breath.

Finally the workers were themselves admitted, Wat coming in eager and
triumphant, with the certainty that Hugh's success was assured, and
Roger pale, nervous, glancing furtively from side to side, as if trying
to read his fate in the faces round.  Wat strode joyously to Gervase.

"Where is Hugh?" asked his master.

"Gone off, sir, in one of his solitary moods.  But Mistress Prothasy is
preparing a rare feast in his honour."  Then, as he noticed Gervase's
grave face, he stopped and stared at him.

"Ay, Wat, it is even so," said Elyas, bitterly.

"These wise men will have it that the _surs_ is my designing, and that
Hugh hath but carved it.  Heardest thou ever such injustice?  I may
talk, and they pay no more heed than if I were--thy dog whom thou hast
set up there.  And, by the mass," he added kindly, "thou hast done him
marvellous well, and there has been a talk of thy having the other
corbel."

"I would not have taken it," said Wat hotly.

"I had rather it had been in thy hands than in Roger's."

"Roger, goodman!" cried Wat, starting forward.  "Not that traitor?"

"Peace, peace!  I am as grieved as thou, but we know not that he is a
traitor."

"Ay, by my troth, but I do!"  Wat persisted, "and so shall they all.
Where is Warden Hamlyn?"

"Nay, I know not.  It is not long since he was here," answered Elyas,
surprised.  "What hast thou in thy mad head?  Bethink thee, Wat, we do
Hugh but harm to bring charges which we cannot prove, and though it was
a foul act to cut that ladder--"

"It is not the ladder, goodman," cried Wat, earnestly.  "Thou wast ill,
and we did not tell thee of the other villainy.  Hast thou looked at
Roger's corbel?"

"Ay," with surprise.

"Is it new to thee?"

"Nay, I seemed to know every twist of the ivy.  But I thought--my memory
plays me scurvy tricks since my illness--I thought, though I could not
call it to mind, that Roger must have brought it to me to ask my
counsel.  Surely it was so?"

"Nay, goodman, when did Roger ask thy counsel?  It was Hugh who brought
it to thee, and, knowing Roger's evil disposition, we were ever on the
watch against eavesdropping and prying.  But the day thou wast taken
with thy sickness Hugh forgot it, and Roger stole the design.  And now!
But he shall not gain his end," cried Wat, fiercely.  "Goodman, where
shall I be most likely to find Master Hamlyn?"

"Go and ask his head man there.  But what good can he do thee?"

Wat, however, was already off, blaming himself bitterly that in the
excitement of the morning, and his undoubted certainty that Hugh was
secure of being first, he had omitted to remind the warden of what he
held in trust.  To add to his dismay, he could get no tidings of John
Hamlyn.  Each person he asked said he had been there but now, and must
be somewhere close at hand, but he never arrived nearer, though he
scoured the Cathedral from end to end, and brought upon himself a severe
rating from the precentor.  Then in despair he rushed off to Hamlyn's
house, where he met the warden's wife and daughter setting forth to find
out what was going on at the Cathedral.  Even in the midst of his
anxiety, Wat was suddenly seized with the conviction that Margaret
Hamlyn, with her dark eyes and her primrose kirtle, was the sweetest
maiden he had ever beheld, and she showed so much desire to help him,
and was so very hopeful as to their finding her father, that before ten
minutes were over he had not the smallest doubt on the matter.

Nevertheless, nothing could be heard of Hamlyn.  Wat met Joan, who had
been waiting and watching for Hugh until she could keep away no longer,
and was come to seek Elyas with a little bundle tucked under her arm,
from which she allowed a quaint wizened face to peep at Wat.  Her
confidence that all was well for Hugh, and her pretty pleasure in
bringing Agrippa to join in his triumph, were so great that Wat had not
the heart to damp them by telling her of the untoward turn events had
taken; he only said impatiently that things were not yet settled, and
that Hugh was an ass to go and bury himself in the green woods instead
of coming forward with the others.

"Do they want him?" asked Joan stopping.

"Nay, I know not that they want him," returned Wat, "but he should be
there."

"Then I shall go back and watch for him," she said resolutely.  "Mother
is busy with the supper and might not see him.  I know where he is gone,
and he must come in by the North Gate, and I will get the keeper to let
me sit there and wait.  I will bring him, Wat, never fear."

But as the minutes flew and nothing was seen of John Hamlyn, Wat began
to wish that he had done nothing to draw Hugh to a place where he would
only find his own just meeds passed over, and evil-doing triumphant.
Gervase stood apart from his friends; he was sick at heart, feeling as
if he had been the cause of all that had happened to Hugh, from his
desire to see his own designs carried out.  Perhaps he had not yet
regained his usual healthy buoyancy, for all looked black; he felt
strangely unable to influence those with whom his word had always
carried weight, but most of all he grieved for Roger's treachery.

Presently there was a little stir among the knot of judges, and
Franklyn, who was near them, came over to Elyas, and whispered--

"It is all decided, goodman."

"For Roger?"

"Ay.  It should have been Hugh's to my thinking, for the lad hath
surpassed us all.  But they vow it is thy design."

"Ay, they know better than I do," said Elyas bitterly.  "See they are
calling him up."

Roger, indeed, was moving towards the group with an air which had gained
assurance since he first came into the choir.  The old master of the
guild spoke in his quavering voice.

"Of these carvings which have been placed here to the honour of God and
His holy Apostle, it is held that thine, Roger Brewer, is the most
complete.  Thou art therefore permitted to undertake the carving of
another corbel, and to make choice of which thou wilt for thyself."

Somebody started forward.

"Sir, it is no design of his; he is a false braggart, and stole it from
Hugh Bassett."

A great confusion arose, angry looks were turned on Wat, and the bishop
moved forward and raised his hands.

"Methinks, masters, you forget in whose house we be.  That is a grave
accusation.  Hast thou answer to make, Roger Brewer?"

"Ay, my lord," said Roger, standing boldly forward.  "I say it is a foul
lie, and that he is ever seeking to do me a mischief, and I demand his
proofs."

"That hast thou a right to require.  Where are the proofs?"

"My lord, I have them not, but--"

Roger broke in with a scornful smile.

"Said I not so?  You see, my lord."

In his turn he was interrupted by a grave voice, "My lord, the proofs
are here.  I but waited to see whether he would have the grace to
withdraw his claim;" and John Hamlyn, stepping forward, raised a broad
board so that it might be seen of all.  "Will the judges say whether
this design is the same as that carved by Roger Brewer?"

There was a close examination and comparison, at the end of which the
master, after consultation with the others, raised his head.

"It is undoubtedly the same."

"Now," continued Hamlyn, turning the board, "there is writing here,
which you and I, my masters, cannot fathom.  Maybe my lord bishop will
have the grace to construe it for us."

The bishop advanced, and in a clear voice read, "Hugh Bassett, Saint
George's Day, A.D. 1303."

"Wat, repeat thy story," said Hamlyn quietly.  "I have kept thy proof
safely, though truly until this day I knew not what it was worth."

Thus adjured Wat, though finding it hard to keep down his excitement,
told what he had to tell straightforwardly and well.  He related how,
having his suspicions raised, he had warned Hugh to beware of Roger, and
how on the day of Gervase's illness the design had disappeared.  That
then it had come into his mind to advise Hugh to draw it again, to place
a date upon it and give it into Mistress Prothasy's keeping.  That she
had held it safely until Master John Hamlyn took it from her, and that
from the day of the date Hugh had never had it in his hands nor so much
as seen it.

This was all, but with the board before them, it was evidence which
could hardly be strengthened, and if more were needed, Roger's white,
fear-stricken face supplied it.  There was a significant silence, broken
at last by the bishop's voice.

"Where is Hugh Bassett?" he asked.

"Now, in good sooth, was ever anything so foolish as that he should have
hidden himself as he hath done?" whispered the provoked Wat to his
neighbour.  But at that moment the circle of interested citizens opened,
and Hugh, looking flushed and disturbed, came forward, while behind him
were Elyas and Joan.

"Hugh Bassett," said the bishop, pointing to the board, "is that thy
work?"

"Ay, my lord," he answered in a low voice.

Again a pause.

"Thou hast heard the relation of its keeping?"

"Nay, my lord, I have but this moment come into the church."

"Let us hear what thou hast to say."

Hugh told his story, which agreed in every respect with that already
related.  While it was telling the miserable Roger tried to slip away,
but at a sign from Hamlyn two members of the guild silently placed
themselves on either side.  Then Elyas stepped forward.

"I speak with pain, my lord," he said, "for Roger Brewer is my
journeyman and hath been my apprentice, but to keep silence were to sin
against this holy place.  My sickness hath made me oblivious, but the
ivy is strangely familiar to me, and I mind me that Hugh ever brought
his designs to show me, while Roger had no such habit.  Moreover,
although you have refused to listen to what I said as to the corbel
carved by Hugh Bassett, I would urge upon you to consider it viewed in
the light of what has now passed."

He was listened to in absolute silence, and presently bishop, chapter,
and judges retired to consult, while the others waited, and Elyas, whose
kind heart was deeply grieved for Roger, drew off and knelt in prayer.

The consultation was not long, the judges came back, and once again the
old master delivered their judgment.

"It having been proved that Hugh Bassett rather than Roger Brewer
designed the ivy corbel, it is declared that his work standeth first in
merit, and he is granted the carving of another corbel, and the choice
of pillar."

Had it not been church Wat would have leapt high in the air.

No more was said, for it was not the fitting place in which to deal with
Roger's misdoing, which would be the work of the guild, but he was
removed by the two men who had him in charge, and those who were left
pressed round Hugh to seize his hand.  He had known nothing of the first
acts of the drama, but his day in the quiet woods was no ill preparation
for this moment of success.  Elyas came up and laid a broad hand on his
shoulder, and Joan slipped hers into Hugh's.

"Come home and tell mother," she whispered.

But when they at length got outside the Cathedral door a strange and
unexpected sight met them, for Wat, who was a great favourite with the
apprentices, had rushed out, and in an incredibly short time had
gathered a large number together, and marshalled them at the door to
greet Hugh when he came.  There was no need to bid them cheer; the
tidings that one of their number had gained so great an honour raised
them to wild enthusiasm, and made them forget their usual rivalries;
they pressed round the Cathedral door, and when he came out, literally
flung themselves upon him, shouting at the top of their voices, and
waving sticks or anything which came to hand; finally, in spite of all
he could do, seizing and bearing him off in their arms, carrying him in
triumph through Broad Gate out into the High Street, and joined by fresh
boys at every turn of the road.  Citizens ran out on hearing the tumult,
the watchmen caught up their staves and hurried forth, the Pomeroy and
Ralegh retainers cheered them on, all the windows and balconies were
quickly filled with women who laughed and waved their hands, and the
mayor himself, so far from showing any anger, stood in a balcony and
flung down largesse upon the shouting lads.  Nothing would suffice, but
to carry Hugh all down the steep street to Exe bridge, where, near seven
years before, he had come in under such different circumstances, and,
hot and shamefaced as he was, he could not but think of this, and scarce
knew where he was for the thinking.

Hot he might be, but there was no persuading them, to put him down, and
up the street they went again, cheering still, and between the old
houses, until they stopped at Gervase's door, where Elyas himself stood
with Prothasy, and Joan clapping her hands with all her might.  And
there was more shouting and rejoicing when Elyas bid all the prentices
to a feast in the meadows on St Bartholomew's Day, his own house not
having space for such a number.

They separated at last, and reluctantly, after such a shrill burst of
cheering as rang through the old city, and Hugh, who felt as if it were
all some strange exciting dream, was thankful to find himself alone with
those good friends to whom he owed his present fortune.  Elyas put his
hands on his shoulders, and looked into the clear eyes, now on a level
with his own.

"Thy father could not have been more glad than I," he said simply.

"I would I could thank thee, goodman," said Hugh, in an unsteady voice,
"for all comes from thee."

"Nay, neither me nor thee, but from One Who gave the gift.  And thou--
thou hast kept covenant."

"I looked not for anything like this."

"Doubtless it hath been a little upsetting," said Elyas, with a smile,
"but it hath made Wat as happy as a king.  Never was a more faithful
friend, or that had less thought for himself.  I verily believe he never
cared for his own work; he did his best simply, and there left it.  'Tis
a rare nature.  Alack, alack, I would poor Roger had been as free from
self-seeking!"

"Goodman," said Hugh, hesitatingly, "hast thou heard aught of Roger?"

"I went to the Guildhall from the Cathedral and saw him.  I might have
been a stranger and an enemy," Elyas added, sighing, "for all I could
get from him."

"Might I speak for him?  Would they hearken?  I love him not, in good
sooth," said Hugh frankly, "and I know not what I might have felt if he
had succeeded; but 'tis easy to forgive when he hath done no one harm
but himself.  Maybe, sir, he might do better if he had another chance?"

"That may not be here," said the warden, gravely.  "Some were for
flinging him into gaol, but they hearkened to me so far that he will be
but heavily fined, and sent from the city, never to return.  Speak not
of him.  I would rather not grieve on this day.  But first, before I
hand thee over to Joan, who doth not yet feel she hath had her share,
first tell me which corbel thou wilt choose?  I counsel the one opposite
to that thou hast finished.  There is no fairer position for showing the
beauty of thy work."

But Hugh shook his head.

"Nay, I have set my heart upon another."

"And which is that?"

"It is the first which was allotted to me, that on the left as you enter
the choir, where the rood-screen is to stand."

"That!" said Gervase, disappointed.  "Bethink thee, Hugh, it is not so
well seen as any of the others."

"Thou hast ever taught us, goodman, that we should give as good work to
the parts which are not seen as to the rest," said Hugh, mischievously.
"But, in truth, I have thought so much of that corbel, and let my
fancies play about it so long, that it seems more mine own than any.
Let me have it."

"Nay, thou must choose for thyself, for none of us can gainsay thee."

"And the other should be kept for thee.  I know the guild would have thy
work before any man's."

Gervase's eyes brightened.

"With our Lady and the Blessed Babe--I know not, I know not, I would
liefer have it in thy hands."

"I hold to my own."

"Father, father," cried Joan, running in, "mother bids me ask whether
thou hast told Nicholas Harding to come and help her with the tables?
And she saith Hal will drive her demented unless thou find some errand
for him to do."

Such a feast as Prothasy had prepared!  And to it came John Hamlyn, his
wife, and daughter, and Wat, contriving to sit next to Mistress
Margaret, was able to tell her the whole tale, which seemed to her most
marvellously interesting.  Also she questioned him much about his own
corbel, and was amazed to think that it should have been a neighbour's
dog which he had set up, and would fain see for herself the unconscious
Spot who had been thus immortalised.  And afterwards she spoke very
prettily to Wat's mother, who had come in from her farm, a proud woman
to think what her son had done, and gazing at him as if no mother had
ever another such.

But the happiest perhaps was Joan.  With Agrippa in her arms, she sat
next to Hugh, and could whisper to him from time to time, and listen to
what was said, and rejoice with all her faithful little heart.  Never
apprentice had won such honour, and never, said Elyas strongly to John
Hamlyn, could one deserve it better.  And in the midst of the feast came
a messenger bringing Hugh a gift from the bishop, a reliquary of goodly
workmanship.

Such a day, as Joan said that evening with a sigh of happiness, had
never been before!

CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

THE SECOND CORBEL.

There is little more to tell.  My story is like a web of knitting, and
now the point is reached where the stitches have to be cast off, and the
work left.  It has been no more than a tale of apprenticeship, and
Hugh's man's life was but just beginning.  Yet those years are enough to
tell us what the rest was likely to be.

For months he toiled at the second corbel, and in these months passed
out of his apprenticeship and became journeyman.  Master Gervase was
wont to say that the lad was in a fair way to be spoilt, for the story
of that Lammas Day got abroad, as stories did in those days, carried
back by the Pomeroy retainers to Biry, and by the Raleghs to Street
Ralegh, and caught at by the wandering minstrels and story-tellers, who
were the great bearers of news about the country, and ever on the watch
for some gossip which they might retail at fair or castle, where it
travelled from the buttery hatch to my lady's closet, and lost naught in
the telling.  The town had been crowded by these strangers at the time
of the corbel incident, the annual fair being held on Lammas Day, so
that there was fine opportunity for spreading of news; and when the
families from the great houses in the county came into the city, they
must needs go to the Cathedral to see the carving which had caused so
much stir, and those who had work of their own going on would have had
Hugh Bassett to carry it out.  But nothing would draw him from the
corbel.

"I marvel at the lad," said John Hamlyn one day to his fellow-warden;
"he seems to care little for the over-praise he gets.  'Twould turn my
Ralph's head."

"His father's training has borne fruit," answered Elyas.  "Hugh gave up
his own fancies, and held by what he had learnt to be duty; now he yet
thinks of the duty, and not of the glory to himself.  He is as good to
me as any son could be."

"And may be thy son in good earnest?"

"With all my heart," said Gervase cheerfully.  "But that must bide
awhile."

Hamlyn looked him up and down.

"Thou art as hale, goodman, as ever thou wert before thy sickness."

"Ay, thank God!  When the spring comes and the cold of winter is over I
shall fall to work upon the _surs_."

"Best make speed, for the old master can hardly last much longer, and it
will not become thy dignity to be seen on a ladder when thou art in his
place."

"Tut, tut, man! were I King of England it would become me to work for
the King of kings.  But this is idle telling.  Wilt come into the yard?
That malapert Hal is like to drive William Franklyn out of his wits with
his idle pranks, and I am ever needed to keep the peace."

"And yet in sooth, goodman, thy prentices do thee credit--I would mine
were of the same value," said Hamlyn, with a sigh and a thought of his
son Ralph.  "I really believe their thick pates can hold naught but the
desire to break those of others.  Now there is that man of thine, Wat--
he," Hamlyn paused, "he is a likely fellow?"

"As good a lad as ever breathed," returned Gervase heartily.  Then he
looked at the other warden and smiled.  "Thou didst fling out something
just now of my having a son in Hugh.  Maybe thou hast a thought of
finding a son thyself and more quickly?"

"I'd as lief know what like the lad is," said Hamlyn gruffly.  "He
greatly favours our house, and on Holy Cross Day brought nuts enough to
Madge to feed a wood full of squirrels."

"He is a boy in his play yet," answered Elyas, "but I have marked him
closely, and he hath in him the making of a true man.  I tell thee,
neighbour, thou wouldst do well for thy daughter's happiness to give her
Wat for a husband."

Hamlyn protested that it had not come to this yet, but it was easy to
see that he was well inclined to the young stonemason, and that if Wat's
fancy lasted, which at this time appeared probable, he might win pretty
Margaret for his wife.  There was a squire in my Lord of Devon's meine
who was desirous to marry her, but Hamlyn had no liking for what he
called a roystering cut-throat trade, much preferring one of his own
craft, even though his daughter might have aspired to a richer suitor.
Wat's simple loyalty to his friend and total absence of self-seeking had
struck them all, and his corbel was greatly admired, so that the
Prideaux family in seeking someone to carve a rich monument had
expressed a hope that he would be chosen for the work.

Of Roger nothing had been heard.  He had gone forth, forbidden to
return, and though Gervase's kind heart had yearned for a word which
might show repentance, and give him an excuse for helping him, the word
never came.

The winter was a sharp one, so sharp that Hugh's carving was somewhat
hindered by the extreme cold.  And just at the New Year Agrippa died.

He had grown old and feeble, no longer able to swing about from rafter
to beam as in old days, most content to lie near the fire, wrapped in a
piece of warm scarlet Flemish wool which they provided for him, and in
his old age showing yet more markedly his likes and dislikes.  Never had
he done more than tolerate Prothasy, and now, when she came near him, he
chattered and scolded with all his weak might.  Franklyn, one or two of
the men, and prentice Hal he detested equally, but there was a new
prentice, Gilbert, whom he permitted to stroke him.  Joan he loved,
saving always when Hugh was near.  For him he had a passionate devotion
which was pathetic.  When he was in the room he was never content unless
Hugh took him up, and he was jealous even of Joan if she withdrew Hugh's
attention.  Yet in spite of his spoilt and irritable ways all the
household cared for the quaint little creature, and it was Gervase
himself who came down to the Cathedral, when they were singing nones in
the Lady Chapel, to fetch Hugh, who, his fingers having grown stiff over
his corbel with the bitter cold, had given it up for the day, and was
working under Franklyn's directions at some of the larger work which yet
remained to be finished in the choir.

"Joan would have thee home to see Agrippa," said the warden, laying his
hand as he loved to do on Hugh's shoulder; "the poor beast is sorely
sick--unto death, if I mistake not."

It did not take Hugh many minutes to dash through St Martin's Gate into
the High Street and his master's house.  Joan called to him the moment
she heard his voice, and he found her in much distress, kneeling close
to the fire on which she had piled as many logs as she could.  There
under his scarlet covering lay poor Agrippa at the last gasp, but still
able to recognise his master with the old look of love, and the
stretching forth his poor little shrunk paw.  Hugh flung himself down by
his side, heaping endearments upon him, while Joan held back lest her
presence by Hugh should stir the little creature's anger.  It was over
the next moment.  One loving piteous look, one movement as though to
raise himself towards his master, and the eyes glazed and the limbs
stiffened, and Hugh's faithful little companion for more than seven
years was gone.

Joan sobbed bitterly, and Hugh was more moved than he would have cared
to let anyone but her see.  They both knelt on by his side, till Hugh
rose and drew her to her feet.

"Poor Agrippa!  He has had a happy home, thanks to thee.  Thou wert his
first protector, Joan."

She looked up and smiled through her tears.

"When thou wast so frighted at mother that thou must needs break thy
indentures and run away!  Father hath often told me of it.  'Twas well
it was father, and that he was able to keep it from coming to the guild.
But to think thou didst not know mother better."

She was a wise little maiden, capable as was Prothasy, and with as warm
affections, but a gentler manner of showing them.  And from her father
she had inherited his gift of imagination and love of beauty, so that in
the greenwood not Hugh himself had a quicker eye for the loveliness of
interlacing trees, or the fancies of the foliage, and as he sometimes
told her, she should have been a boy and a stone-carver.  The art of
painting, save in missals, can scarcely be said to have existed in those
days, when all beautiful materials, glow of colour, and picturesqueness
of line, were at its disposal, and art was forced to take refuge in
architecture, which it carried to its noblest height, or, with women, in
exquisite embroideries.

Joan had smiled, but she was very sad for Agrippa, and nothing would
comfort her but hearing of Hugh's progress with his _surs_, when 'twould
be finished and she might see it.

"It should have been done by now," said Hugh, "but this biting cold
stiffens my fingers so that I cannot venture on the delicate parts.
Come, now, Joan, what sayest thou to thy birthday--Candlemas Day?"

She clapped her hands.

"In good sooth.  And if father is still better--which Our Lady grant!--
he will begin his work that month."

Elyas, indeed, showed no signs of his past sickness, and as the leech,
when Prothasy spoke to him, assured her that malignant influences no
longer threatened, she was greatly comforted.  He said himself that his
memory failed, but no one else saw any unusual signs of this not
uncommon complaint, and there was little doubt that he would be elected
its master by the guild, which some two hundred years later was to
stretch itself so far as to incorporate together "Carpenters, Masons,
Joiners, and Glaziers and Painters."

There was no such excitement on Candlemas Day as there had been five
months before, for nothing hung on the uncovering of Hugh's carving
beyond learning whether his second work would equal the promise of his
first, and this to the outer world meant little.  To his own little
world, and to the bishop, it meant much.  The fame of his first work had
come through difficulties and by a roundabout fashion; in this that he
had now completed no one could either rightly or wrongly claim a part.
When therefore, after the Hours, the bishop and a few of his clergy
entered the choir, they found a knot of guild officers there, and all
Gervase's household, together with Hamlyn's wife and daughters, and a
few workmen who had not cared to keep holiday.

"No greenwood for thee, Hugh, to-day," Elyas had said, and the young man
was there himself, looking gravely content, and not, as Mistress Hamlyn
expressed it, in the least puffed with pride.

At a sign from the bishop, he mounted the ladder and drew off the
wrapping cloths.

Much had been seen during the carving, but now for the first time the
work was beheld in its full beauty, and from the group there went up an
irrepressible murmur of admiration.

It was a group of figures.  At the top Our Lord and His Mother in glory;
below, a single figure of Saint Cecilia drawing music from an instrument
shaped something like a lute, but played with a bow; over her head,
inclined gently to the left, a little angel hovered.  The grace and
sweetness of her attitude, the fall of the draperies, the delicacy of
the workmanship, raised the beholders into enthusiasm, and though the
corbel was not so prominent as the others, something in the angle in
which it was seen, and the manner in which it stood out against the
outer nave, added to the effect of beauty.

Hugh had modestly stood aside while the examination went on, but Joan
had stolen to him and slipped her hand in his, and now Elyas turned and
embraced him.

"Hugh," he said, "I am proud to count thee as my son."

Wat was there, too, absolutely beaming with delight, and seizing Hugh's
hand as if he would wring it off.

"Said I not, said I not,"--he began, and then, "no one can say aught
against thy work now; but, Hugh--"

"Ay?"

"Couldst not carve a Saint Margaret as well as a Saint Cecilia?
Prithee--"

But here his request was broken off by a message that the Lord Bishop
would speak with Hugh Bassett.

Bishop Bitton, who had aged fast of late, was leaning on the arm of one
of his priests, but his face was lit with that fire of enthusiasm which
could always be stirred in him by aught that was good or great.  As Hugh
came up, he raised his hand, and the young man dropped on his knee to
receive the blessing.

And as, deeply moved, he rose and stood on one side, it seemed to him
that his father's dying voice stole softly upon his ears--

"Not for thyself, but for the glory of God."





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