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 Dawn came in a veil of mist. A heavy dew lay upon the grass; a great silence covered the woods. The trees stood grim and gigantic with dripping in a vapoury atmosphere, and there seemed no of sunlight in the blind grey sky.  
A rough hovel under a fir, used for the storing of wood, had given Yeoland and the harper shelter for the night. The sole refuge left to them by fire, the hut had served its purpose well enough, for grief is not given to over externals in the of its .
The girl Yeoland was astir early with the first twitter of the birds in the boughs overhead. Jaspar had made her a couch of straw, and she had lain there tossing to and fro with no thought of sleep. The moon had sunk early over the edge of the world, and heavy darkness had wrapped her close about her soul, mocking her with the staring of a dead face. The burning tower had ceased to torch her vigil towards dawn; yet there had been no fleeing from the pale candour of the night.
A slim, white-faced woman she stood shivering in the of the hovel. Her eyes were black and lustrous--swift, eyes full of dusky fire and vivid unrest. Her mouth ran a red , firm above her white chin. Her hair gleamed like steel. The world was cold about her for the moment, dead and as her own heart. As she stood there, fine and fragile as , the very trees seemed to weep for her with the dawning day.
Some hundred paces from the hut, a cloud of smoke with the mist that hung about the blackened walls of the forest tower. Its windows were blind and frameless to the sky; a zone of wood and ashes circled its base. The mist hung above it like a ghostly memory. The place looked and pitiful enough in the meagre light.
The girl Yeoland watched the of smoke wreathing grey spirals overhead, melting symbolic--into nothingness. The of the ruin floated down to her, and became a recollection for all time. This blackened shell had been a home to her, a , , a cradle. life had run ruddy through its heart. How often had she seen its grey brow crowned with gold by the mystic of heaven. She had found much joy there and little sorrow. A wrinkled face had taught her these many years to cherish the of childhood. All this was past; the present found her bankrupt of such things. The place had become but a , a charnel-house for the rotting bones of love.
As she brooded in the doorway, the of a spade came ringing to her on the air. and , it was like the sound of Time plucking the hours from the Tree of Life. She looked out over the , and saw Jaspar the harper digging a shallow grave under an oak.
She went and watched him, calmly, silently, with the utter quiet of a measureless grief. There was reason in this labour. It emphasised reality; helped her to grip the present. As the brown earth tumbled at her feet, she remembered how much she would bury in that narrow forest grave.
The man Jaspar was a ruddy soul, like a red apple in autumn. His strong point was his , a that had with the fibres of his heart. He could boast neither of vast intelligence, nor of phenomenal courage, but he had a conscience that had made gold of his whole rough, body. Your clever servant is often a ; in the respect of apt villainy, the harper was a fool.
He ceased now and again from his digging, hung his hooked chin over his spade, and snuffed the savour of the clean brown earth. He thrust , glances up into the girl's face as she watched him, as though desirous of reading her humour or her health.
"You are weary," she said to him anon, looking blankly into the .
The man wagged his head.
"Have ye broken fast? There is bread and dried fruit in the hut, and a of water."
"I cannot eat--yet," she answered him.
He sighed and continued his digging. The pile of russet earth increased on the green grass at her feet; the trench deepened. Jaspar moistened his palms, and on, as he hove his libations of soil over his shoulder. Presently he stood up again to rest.
"What will you do, madame?" he asked her, at the clouds.
"Ride out."
"And whither?"
"Towards Gilderoy--as yet."
"Ah, ah, a fair town and strong. John of Brissac is madame's friend. Good. Have we money?"
"Some gold nobles."
They waxed silent again, and in a while the grave lay finished. 'Twas shallow, but what of that! It gave enough for the dead.
They went together, and gazed on the sleeping man's face. It was grey, but very peaceful, with no hint of horror thereon. The eyes were closed, and dew had starred the white hair with a web. Yeoland knelt and kissed the forehead. She shivered and her hands trembled, but she did not weep.
So they carried the Lord Rual between them, for he was a spare man and of frame, and laid him in the grave beneath the oak. When they had smoothed his hair, and crossed his hands upon his breast, they knelt and prayed to the and the saints that in God's heaven he might have peace. The wind in the boughs sang a forest .
When Yeoland had looked long at the white face in the trench, she rose from her knees, and Jaspar to his spade. The harper took the measure of her mind. When she had passed into the shadows of the trees, he mopped his face, and entered on his last duty to the dead. It was soon sped, soon ended. A pile of clean earth covered the place. Jaspar banked the grave with turf, shouldered his spade, and returned to the hovel.
He found the girl Yeoland seated on a fallen tree in the forest, her ebon hair and apple-green gown gleaming under the boughs. Her cheeks were white as windflowers, her eyes full of a swimming gloom. She raised her chin, and questioned the man mutely with a look that smouldered under her arched brows.
"Have you entered the tower?"
The man's wrinkled face despite his years.
"Would you have me go?" he asked her in a undertone.
She looked into the vast of the woods, in thought, and was silent. Her mouth hardened; the desire melted from her eyes.
"No," she said anon, turning her forward, and drawing a green cloak edged with about her, "what would it avail us? Let us sally at once."
A little distance away, their horses, that had been hobbled over night, stood grazing quietly on a patch of grass under the trees. One was a great grey , the other a bay jennet, as silk. Jaspar caught them. He was long over the girths and , for his hands were stiff, and his eyes dim. When he returned, Yeoland was still like a statue, staring at the blackened tower reeking amid the trees.
"Truly, they have burnt the anguish of it into my heart with fire," she said, as Jaspar held her stirrup.
"God comfort you, madame!"
"Let us go, Jaspar, let us go."
"And whither, lady?"
"Where revenge may lead."
The day brightened as they down into the forest. A light breeze rent the vapours, and a of sunlight quivered through the . The tree-tops began to gold; and there was life in the deepening promise of the sky. The empty woods rolled purple on the hills; the greensward shone with a veil of gossamer; the earth grew glad.
The pair had burden of speech upon their lips that morning. They were still benumbed by the violence of the night, and death still to their souls. Fate had them with such incredible and brevity. On the dawn of yesterday, they had ridden out on wrist into the wilds, lost the bird in a long flight, and turned homeward when evening was darkening the east. From a hill they had seen the tower lifting its flame like a red and revengeful finger to heaven. They had hastened on, with the glare of the fire spasmodic and over the trees. In one short hour they had had speech with death, and came point to point with the sword of .
What wonder then that they rode like mutes to a burial, still of tongue and dull of heart? Life and the thereof were at low , colourless as a wintry sea. Joy's wings were smirched and broken; the of youth was unstrung. A sky had low above their heads, and to the girl a devil ruled the heavens.
Before noon they had threaded the wild waste of woodland that girded the tower like a black . They came out from the trees to a heath, a track that struck green and purple into the west, and boasted that could the blue monotony of the sky. It was a wild region, swept by a wind that sighed perpetually amid the gorse and heather. By the black of the forest they had dismounted and partaken of bread and water before pushing on with a listless that won many miles to their credit.
The man Jaspar was a soul in the hot sphere of action. He was a being who preferred heading for the blue calm of a in stormy weather, to thrusting out into the tossing spume of the unknown. The girl Yeoland, on the contrary, had an abundant spirit, and an untamed temper. Her black eyes roved restlessly over the world, and she her chin in the face of Fate. Jaspar, knowing her fibre, feared for her moods with the more level of blood. Her was a virtue, hawk-like in sentiment, not given to perching on the boughs of reason. Moreover, being cumbered with a generous burden of pity, he was in mortal of wounding her pale proud grief.
By way of being diplomatic, he began by hinting that there were necessities in life, trivial no doubt, but , as sleep and supper.
"Lord John of Brissac is your friend," he , "a strong lord, and a great; moreover, he hates those of Gambrevault, God chasten their souls! Fontenaye is no long ride from Gilderoy. Madame will there till she can come by ?"
Madame had no thought of being beholden to the gentleman in question. Jaspar understood as much from a very brief debate. Lord John of Brissac was forbidden favour, being as black a pard when justly as any seigneur of Gambrevault. The harper's chin wagged on maugre her contradiction.
"We have bread for a day," he , dropping upon banalities by way of seeming wise. "The nights are cold, madame, damp as a . As for the water-pot----"
"Water may be had--for the asking."
"And bread?"
"I have money."
"Then we ride for Gilderoy?"
The assumption was made with an excellent unction that betrayed the seeming of the philosopher. Yeoland stared ahead over her horse's ears, with a clear disregard for Jaspar and his .
"We are like leaves blown about in autumn," she said to him, "wanderers with fortune. You have not grasped my temper. I warrant you, there is method in me."
Jaspar looked blank.
"Strange method, madame, to ride nowhere, to compass nothing."
She turned on him with a sudden rapid gleam out of her eyes.
"Nothing! You call revenge nothing?"
The harper appealed to his favourite saint.
"St. Jude forfend that madame should follow such a marsh fire," he said.
They had drawn towards the of the heath. Southwards it sloped to the rim of a great pine forest, that seemed to clasp it with ebonian arms. The place was black, mysterious, impenetrable, fringed with a palisading of dark stiff trunks, but all else, a vast undulation of sombre . Its waved with the wind. There was a soundless about its sable galleries, a gloom that hung like a curtain. In the vague distance, a misty height seemed to struggle above the ocean of trees, like the back of some great beast.
Yeoland, keen of face, in her jennet, and pointed Jaspar to this landscape of sombre . There was an alert in her eyes; she drew her breath more quickly, like one whose courage at the cry of a .
"The Black Wild," she said with a little of eagerness, and a glance that was almost fierce under her coal-black brows.
Jaspar shook his head with the wit of an ogre.
"Ha, yes, madame, a region, packed with , dark as its own trees; no of terror, I warrant ye. See yonder, the road to Gilderoy."
The girl in the green cloak seemed strongly stirred by her own thoughts. Her face had a wild elfin look for the moment, a beautiful and daring that deified her figure.
"And Gilderoy?" she said abstractedly.
"Gilderoy lies south-east; Gambrevault south-west many leagues. Southwards, one would find the sea, in due season. , we touch Geraint, and the Roman road."
Yeoland nodded as though her mind were already in the matter.
"We will take to the forest," ran her decretal.
Here was sentiment in the ascendant, mad like a bat into gloom. Jaspar screwed his mouth into a red knot, blinked and waxed argumentative with a that did his credit.
"A mad scheme."
"What better harbour for the night than yonder trees?"
"Who will choose us a road? I pray you consider it."
Yeoland answered him quietly enough. She had set her will on the venture, was in a desperate mood, and could therefore scorn reason.
"Jaspar, my friend," she said, "I am in a wild humour, and ripe for the wild region. pleases me. The unknown ever draweth the heart, making promise of greater, stranger things. What have I to lose? If you play the craven, I can go alone."

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