Myles hesitated for a moment or two; his throat was tight and dry. "Nay," said he at last, "she belieth herself. It was I who first came into the garden. I fell by chance from the tree yonder--I was seeking a ball--then I asked those two if I might not come hither again, and so have done some several times in all. But as for her--nay; it was not at her bidding that I came, but through mine own asking."
The Earl gave a little grunt in his throat. "And how often hast thou been here?" said he, presently.
Myles thought a moment or two. "This maketh the seventh time," said he.
Another pause of silence followed, and Myles began to pluck up some heart that maybe all would yet be well. The Earl's next speech dashed that hope into a thousand fragments. "Well thou knowest," said he, "that it is forbid for any to come here. Well thou knowest that twice have men been punished for this thing that thou hast done, and yet thou camest in spite of all. Now dost thou know what thou wilt suffer?"
Myles picked with nervous fingers at a crack in the oaken post against which he leaned. "Mayhap thou wilt kill me," said he at last, in a dull, choking voice.
Again the Earl smiled a grim smile. "Nay," said he, "I would not slay thee, for thou hast gentle blood. But what sayest thou should I shear thine ears from thine head, or perchance have thee scourged in the great court?"
The sting of the words sent the blood flying back to Myles's face again, and he looked quickly up. "Nay," said he, with a boldness that surprised himself; "thou shalt do no such unlordly thing upon me as that. I be thy peer, sir, in blood; and though thou mayst kill me, thou hast no right to shame me."
Lord Mackworth bowed with a mocking courtesy. "Marry!" said he. "Methought it was one of mine own saucy popinjay squires that I caught sneaking here and talking to those two foolish young lasses, and lo! it is a young Lord--or mayhap thou art a young Prince--and commandeth me that I shall not do this and I shall not do that. I crave your Lordship's honorable pardon, if I have said aught that may have galled you."
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