ing. No, no, Schwartz Thier! I trust you, no doubt; but the badger smells at a hole, before he goes inside it. We’re strangers, and are allowed to miss our way.’ Leaving the wain in Farina’s charge, he pushed through a dense growth of shrub and underwood, and came crouching on a precipitous edge of shrouded crag, which commanded a view of the stronghold, extending round it, as if scooped clean by some natural action, about a stone’sthrow distant, and nearly level with the look-out tower. Sheer from a deep circular basin clothed with wood, and bottomed with grass and bubbling water, rose a naked moss-stained rock, on whose peak the castle firmly perched, like a spying hawk. The only means of access was by a narrow natural bridge of rock flung from this insulated pinnacle across to the mainland. One man, well disposed, might have held it against forty. ‘Our way’s the best,’ thought Guy, as he meditated every mode of gaining admission. ‘A hundred men an hour might be lost cutting steps up that steep slate; and once at the top we should only have to be shoved down again.’ While thus engaged, he heard a summons sounded from the castle, and scrambled back to Farina. Farina 72 ‘The Thier leads now,’ said he, ‘and who leads is captain. It seems easier to get out of that than in. There’s a square tower, and a round. I guess the maiden to be in the round. Now, lad, no crying out—You don’t come in with us; but back you go for the horses, and have them ready and fresh in yon watered meadow under the castle. The path down winds easy.’ ‘Man!’ cried Farina, ‘what do you take me for?—go you for the horses.’ ‘Not for a fool,’ Guy rejoined, tightening his lip; ‘but now is your time to prove yourself one.’ ‘With you, or without you, I enter that castle!’ ‘Oh! if you want to be served up hot for the Baron’s supper-mess, by all means.’ ‘Thunder!’ growled Schwartz Thier, ‘aren’t ye moving?’ The Goshawk beckoned Farina aside. ‘Act as I tell you, or I’m for Cologne.’ ‘Traitor!’ muttered the youth. ‘Swearing this, that if we fail, the Baron shall need a leech sooner than a bride.’ ‘That stroke must be mine!’ The Goshawk griped the muscle of Farina’s arm till the
youth was compelled to slacken it with pain. ‘Could you drive a knife through a six-inch wood-wall? I doubt this wild boar wants a harder hit than many a best man could give. ‘Sblood! obey, sirrah. How shall we keep yon fellow true, if he sees we’re at points?’ ‘I yield,’ exclaimed Farina with a fall of the chest; ‘but hear I nothing of you by midnight—Oh! then think not I shall leave another minute to chance. Farewell! haste! Heaven prosper you! You will see her, and die under her eyes. That may be denied to me. What have I done to be refused that last boon?’ ‘Gone without breakfast and dinner,’ said Guy in abhorrent tones. A whistle from the wain, following a noise of the castlegates being flung open, called the Goshawk away, and he slouched his shoulders and strode to do his part, without another word. Farina gazed after him, and dropped into the covert. George Meredith 73 THE THE WATER-L TER-L TER-LAD TER-L AD ADY AD ‘BIRD OF LOVERS! Voice of the passion of love! Sweet, deep, disaster-toning nightingale!’ sings the old minnesinger; ‘who that has not loved, hearing thee is touched with the wand of love’s mysteries, and yearneth to he knoweth not whom, humbled by overfulness of heart; but who, listening, already loveth, heareth the language he would speak, yet faileth in; feeleth the great tongueless sea of his infinite desires stirred beyond his narrow bosom; is as one stript of wings whom the angels beckon to their silver homes: and he leaneth forward to ascend to them, and is mocked by his effort: then is he of the fallen, and of the fallen would he remain, but that tears lighten him, and through the tears stream jewelled shafts dropt down to him from the sky, precious ladders inlaid with amethyst, sapphire, blended jasper, beryl, rose-ruby, ether of heaven flushed with softened bloom of the insufferable Presences: and lo, the ladders dance, and quiver, and waylay his eyelids, and a second time he is mocked, aspiring: and after the third swoon standeth Hope before him with folded arms, and eyes dry of the delusions of tears, saying, Thou hast seen!