The Tavern Knight
The Heart Of Cynthia Ashburn
Side by side stepped that oddly assorted pair along - the maiden whose soul was as pure
and fresh as the breeze that blew upon them from the sea, and the man whose life years
ago had been marred by a sorrow, the quest of whose forgetfulness had led him through
the mire of untold sin; the girl upon the threshold of womanhood, her life all before her
and seeming to her untainted mind a joyous, wholesome business; the man midway on
his ill-starred career, his every hope blighted save the one odious hope of vengeance,
which made him cling to a life he had proved worthless and ugly, and that otherwise he
had likely enough cast from him. And as they walked:
"Sir Crispin," she ventured timidly, "you are unhappy, are you not?"
Startled by her words and the tone of them, Galliard turned his head that he might
"I, unhappy?" he laughed; and it was a laugh calculated to acknowledge the fitness of her
question, rather than to refute it as he intended. "Am I a clown, Cynthia, to own myself
unhappy at such a season and while you honour me with your company?"
She made a wry face in protest that he fenced with her.
"You are happy, then?" she challenged him.
"What is happiness?" quoth he, much as Pilate may have questioned what was truth. Then
before she could reply he hastened to add: "I have not been quite so happy these many
"It is not of the present moment that I speak," she answered reprovingly, for she scented
no more than a compliment in his words, "but of your life."
Now either was he imbued with a sense of modesty touching the deeds of that life of his,
or else did he wisely realize that no theme could there he less suited to discourse upon
with an innocent maid.
"Mistress Cynthia," said he as though he had not heard her question, "I would say a word
to you concerning Kenneth."
At that she turned upon him with a pout.
"But it is concerning yourself that I would have you talk. It is not nice to disobey a lady.
Besides, I have little interest in Master Stewart."
"To have little interest in a future husband augurs ill for the time when he shall come to
be your husband."