The Tavern Knight
The Message Kenneth Bore
In bewilderment Crispin took the outstretched hand of his old fellow-roysterer.
"Oddslife," he growled, "if to have me waylaid, dragged from my horse and wounded by
those sons of dogs, your myrmidons, be your manner of expressing gratitude, I'd as lief
you had let me go unthanked."
"And yet, Cris, I dare swear you'll thank me before another hour is sped. Ough, man, how
cold you are! There's a bottle of strong waters yonder - "
Then, without completing his sentence, Hogan had seized the black jack and poured half
a glass of its contents, which he handed Crispin.
"Drink, man," he said briefly, and Crispin, nothing loath, obeyed him.
Next Hogan drew the torn and sodden doublet from his guest's back, pushed a chair over
to the table, and bade him sit. Again, nothing loath, Crispin did as he was bidden. He was
stiff from long riding, and so with a sigh of satisfaction he settled himself down and
stretched out his long legs.
Hogan slowly took the seat opposite to him, and coughed. He was at a loss how to open
the parlous subject, how to communicate to Crispin the amazing news upon which he had
"Slife' Hogan," laughed Crispin dreamily, "I little thought it was to you those crop-ears
carried me with such violence. I little thought, indeed, ever to see you again. But you
have prospered, you knave, since that night you left Penrith."
And he turned his head the better to survey the Irishman.
"Aye, I have prospered," Hogan assented. "My life is a sort of parable of the fatted son
and the prodigal calf. They tell me there is greater joy in heaven over the repentance of a
sinner than - than - Plague on it! How does it go?"
"Than over the downfall of a saint?" suggested Crispin.
"I'll swear that's not the text, but any of my troopers could quote it you; every man of
them is an incarnate Church militant." He paused, and Crispin laughed softly. Then
abruptly: "And so you were riding to London?" said he.
"How know you that?"