The Tavern Knight
By the lanthorn's yellow glare Crispin beheld the two men-a mass of writhing bodies and
a bunch of waving legs - upon the ground. Kenneth, who was uppermost, clung
purposefully to the parson's throat. The faces of both were alike distorted, but whilst the
lad's breath came in gasping hisses, the other's came not at all.
Going over to the bed, Crispin drew the unconscious trooper's tuck-sword. He paused for
a moment to bend over the man's face; his breath came faintly, and Crispin knew that ere
many moments were sped he would regain consciousness. He smiled grimly to see how
well he had performed his work of suffocation without yet utterly destroying life.
Sword in hand, he returned to Kenneth and the parson. The Puritan's struggles were
already becoming mere spasmodic twitchings; his face was as ghastly as the trooper's had
been a while ago.
"Release him, Kenneth," said Crispin shortly.
"He struggles still."
"Release him, I say," Galliard repeated, and stooping he caught the lad's wrist and
compelled him to abandon his hold.
"He will cry out," exclaimed Kenneth, in apprehension.
"Not he," laughed Crispin. "Leastways, not yet awhile. Observe the wretch."
With mouth wide agape, the minister lay gasping like a fish newly taken from the water.
Even now that his throat was free he appeared to struggle for a moment before he could
draw breath. Then he took it in panting gulps until it seemed that he must choke in his
gluttony of air.
"Fore George," quoth Crispin, "I was no more than in time. Another second, and we
should have had him, too, unconscious. There, he is recovering."
The blood was receding from the swollen veins of the parson's head, and his cheeks were
paling to their normal hue. Anon they went yet paler than their wont, as Galliard rested
the point of his sword against the fellow's neck.
"Make sound or movement," said Crispin coldly, "and I'll pin you to the floor like a
beetle. Obey me, and no harm shall come to you."
"I will obey you," the fellow answered, in a wheezing whisper. "I swear I will. But of
your charity, good sir, I beseech you remove your sword. Your hand might slip, sir," he
whined, a wild terror in his eyes.