The Tavern Knight
The Wooing Of Cynthia
Cynthia's swoon was after all but brief. Upon recovering consciousness her first act was
to dismiss her woman. She had need to be alone - the need of the animal that is wounded
to creep into its lair and hide itself. And so alone with her sorrow she sat through that
That her father's condition was grievous she knew to be untrue, so that concerning him
there was not even that pity that she might have felt had she believed - as he would have
had her believe that he was dying.
As she pondered the monstrous disclosure he had made, her heart hardened against him,
and even as she had asked him whether indeed she was his daughter, so now she vowed
to herself that she would be his daughter no longer. She would leave Castle Marleigh,
never again to set eyes upon her father, and she hoped that during the little time she must
yet remain there - a day, or two at most - she might be spared the ordeal of again meeting
a parent for whom respect was dead, and who inspired her with just that feeling of horror
she must have for any man who confessed himself a murderer and a thief.
She resolved to repair to London to a sister of her mother's, where for her dead mother's
sake she would find a haven extended readily.
At eventide she came at last from her chamber.
She had need of air, need of the balm that nature alone can offer in solitude to poor
wounded human souls.
It was a mild and sunny evening, worthy rather of August than of October, and aimlessly
Mistress Cynthia wandered towards the cliffs overlooking Sheringham Hithe. There she
sate herself in sad dejection upon the grass, and gazed wistfully seaward, her mind
straying now from the sorry theme that had held dominion in it, to the memories that very
It was there, sitting as she sat now, her eyes upon the shimmering waste of sea, and the
gulls circling overhead, that she had awakened to the knowledge of her love for Crispin.
And so to him strayed now her thoughts, and to the fate her father had sent him to; and
thus back again to her father and the evil he had wrought. It is matter for conjecture
whether her loathing for Gregory would have been as intense as it was, had another than
Crispin Galliard been his victim.
Her life seemed at an end as she sat that October evening on the cliffs. No single interest
linked her to existence; nothing, it seemed, was left her to hope for till the end should
come - and no doubt it would be long in coming, for time moves slowly when we wait.