The Tavern Knight HTML version
Sir Crispin's Undertaking
Through the long October night Crispin and Hogan sat on, and neither sought his bed.
Crispin's quick wits his burst of grief once over - had been swift to fasten on a plan to
accomplish that which he had undertaken.
One difficulty confronted him, and until he had mentioned it to Hogan seemed
unsurmountable he had need of a ship. But in this the Irishman could assist him. He knew
of a vessel then at Greenwich, whose master was in his debt, which should suit the
purpose. Money, however, would be needed. But when Crispin announced that he was
master of some two hundred Caroluses, Hogan, with a wave of the hand, declared the
matter settled. Less than half that sum would hire the man he knew of. That determined,
Crispin unfolded his project to Hogan, who laughed at the simplicity of it, for all that
inwardly he cursed the risk Sir Crispin must run for the sake of one so unworthy.
"If the maid loves him, the thing is as good as done."
"The maid does not love him; leastways, I fear not."
Hogan was not surprised.
"Why, then it will be difficult, well-nigh impossible." And the Irishman became grave.
But Crispin laughed unpleasantly. Years and misfortune had made him cynical.
"What is the love of a maid?" quoth he derisively. "A caprice, a fancy, a thing that may
be guided, overcome or compelled as the occasion shall demand. Opportunity is love's
parent, Hogan, and given that, any maid may love any man. Cynthia shall love my son."
"But if she prove rebellious? If she say nay to your proposals ? There are such women."
"How then? Am I not the stronger? In such a case it shall be mine to compel her, and as I
find her, so shall I carry her away. It will be none so poor a vengeance on the Ashburns
after all." His brow grew clouded. "But not what I had dreamed of; what I should have
taken had he not cheated me. To forgo it now - after all these years of waiting - is another
sacrifice I make to Jocelyn. To serve him in this matter I must proceed cautiously.
Cynthia may fret and fume and stamp, but willy-nilly I shall carry her away. Once she is
in France, friendless, alone, I make no doubt that she will see the convenience of loving
Jocelyn - leastways of wedding him and thus shall I have more than repaired the injuries I
have done him.
The Irishman's broad face was very grave; his reckless merry eye fixed Galliard with a
look of sorrow, and this grey-haired, sinning soldier of fortune, who had never known a
conscience, muttered softly: