with slackened force. Guy now attacked. Holding to his round strokes, he accustomed Werner to guard the body, and stood to it so briskly right and left, that Werner grew bewildered, lost his caution, and gave ground. Suddenly the Goshawk’s glaive flashed in air, and chopped sheer down on Werner’s head. So shrewd a blow it was against a half-formed defence, that the Baron dropped without a word right on the edge of the board, and there hung, feebly grasping with his fingers. ‘Who bars the way now?’ sang out Guy. No one accepted the challenge. Success clothed him with terrors, and gave him giant size. ‘Then fare you well, my merry men all,’ said Guy. ‘Bear me no ill-will for this. A little doctoring will right the bold Baron.’ He strode jauntily to the verge of the board, and held his finger for Margarita to follow. She stepped forward. The men put their beards together, muttering. She could not advance. Farina doubled his elbow, and presented sword-point. Three of the ruffians now disputed the way with bare steel. Margarita looked at the Goshawk. He was smiling calmly curious as he Farina 84 leaned over his sword, and gave her an encouraging nod. She made another step in defiance. One fellow stretched his hand to arrest her. All her maidenly pride stood up at once. ‘What a glorious girl!’ murmured the Goshawk, as he saw her face suddenly flash, and she retreated a pace and swung a sharp cut across the knuckles of her assailant, daring him, or one of them, with hard, bright eyes, beautifully vindictive, to lay hand on a pure maiden. ‘You have it, Barenleib!’ cried the others, and then to Margarita: ‘Look, young mistress! we are poor fellows, and ask a trifle of ransom, and then part friends.’ ‘Not an ace!’ the Goshawk pronounced from his post. ‘Two to one, remember.’ ‘The odds are ours,’ replied the Goshawk confidently. They ranged themselves in front of the hall-door. Instead of accepting this challenge, Guy stepped to Werner, and laid his moaning foe length-wise in an easier posture. He then lifted Margarita on the board, and summoned them with cry of ‘Free passage!’ They answered by a sullen shrug and taunt. ‘Schwartz Thier! Rothhals! Farina! buckle up, and make ready then,’ sang Guy.
He measured the length, of his sword, and raised it. The Goshawk had not underrated his enemies. He was tempted to despise them when he marked their gradually lengthening chaps and eyeballs. Not one of them moved. All gazed at him as if their marrows were freezing with horror. ‘What’s this?’ cried Guy. They knew as little as he, but a force was behind them irresistible against their efforts. The groaning oak slipped open, pushing them forward, and an apparition glided past, soft as the pallid silver of the moon. She slid to the Baron, and put her arms about him, and sang to him. Had the Water- Lady laid an iron hand on all those ruffians, she could not have held them faster bound than did the fear of her presence. The Goshawk drew his fair charge through them, followed by Farina, the Thier, and Rothhals. A last glimpse of the hall showed them still as old cathedral sculpture staring at white light on a fluted pillar of the wall. George Meredith 85 THE THE P PPASSA P ASSA ASSAGE ASSA GE OF OF THE THE THE RHINE RHINE LOW AMONG the swarthy sandhills behind the Abbey of Laach dropped the round red moon. Soft lengths of misty yellow stole through the glens of Rhineland. The nightingales still sang. Closer and closer the moon came into the hushed valleys. There is a dell behind Hammerstein Castle, a ring of basking sward, girdled by a silver slate-brook, and guarded by four high-peaked hills that slope down four long wooded corners to the grassy base. Here, it is said, the elves and earthmen play, dancing in circles with laughing feet that fatten the mushroom. They would have been fulfilling the tradition now, but that the place was occupied by a sturdy group of mortals, armed with staves. The intruders were sleepy, and lay about on the inclines. Now and then two got up, and there rang hard echoes of oak. Again all were calm as cudchewing cattle, and the white water ran pleased with quiet. It may be that the elves brewed mischief among them; for the oaken blows were becoming more frequent. One complained of a kick: another demanded satisfaction for a pinch. ‘Go to,’ drawled the accused drowsily in both cases, ‘too much