The Tavern Knight
Treading softly, and with ears straining for the slightest sound, the two men descended to
the first floor of the house. They heard nothing to alarm them as they crept down, and not
until they paused on the first landing to reconnoitre did they even catch the murmur of
voices issuing from the guardroom below. So muffled was the sound that Crispin guessed
how matters stood even before he had looked over the balusters into the hall beneath. The
faint grey of the dawn was the only light that penetrated the gloom of that pit.
"The Fates are kind, Kenneth," he whispered. "Those fools sit with closed doors. Come."
But Kenneth laid his hand upon Galliard's sleeve. "What if the door should open as we
"Someone will die," muttered Crispin back. "But pray God that it may not. We must run
"Is there no other way?"
"Why, yes," returned Galliard sardonically, "we can linger here until we are taken. But,
oddslife, I'm not so minded. Come."
And as he spoke he drew the lad along.
His foot was upon the topmost stair of the flight, when of a sudden the stillness of the
house was broken by a loud knock upon the street door. Instantly - as though they had
been awaiting it there was a stir of feet below and the bang of an overturned chair; then a
shaft of yellow light fell athwart the darkness of the hall as the guardroom door was
"Back!" growled Galliard. "Back, man!"
They were but in time. Peering over the balusters they saw two troopers pass out of the
guardroom, and cross the hall to the door. A bolt was drawn and a chain rattled, then
followed the creak of hinges, and on the stone flags rang the footsteps and the jingling of
spurs of those that entered.
"Is all well?" came a voice, which Crispin recognized as Colonel Pride's, followed by an
affirmative reply from one of the soldiers.
"Hath a minister visited the malignants?"
"Master Toneleigh is with them even now."