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HOME > Classical Novels > Love Among the Ruins > CHAPTER 4
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 The stems thinned about them suddenly, and the sky grew great beyond a more meagre screen of . To the west, breaking the blood-red with an edge of , rocks towered heavenwards, golden-fanged into a furnace of splendour. Waves of light beat in spray upon the billowy masses of the trees, dying in the east into a mask of gloom.  
Yeoland and the man in red came into a little , hollowed by the waters of a rush-edged pool. A stream, a scolloped sheet of , stumbled headlong into the , vanishing beyond like a white ghost into the woods. A fire danced in the open, and under the trees stood a pavilion of red cloth.
The man dismounted and held the girl's stirrup. A quick glance round the glade had shown her bales of merchandise, littering the green carpet of the place, horses tethered in the wood, men moving like about the fire. Even as she dismounted, of steel shone out in the surrounding shadows. Armed men streamed in, and piled their pikes and bills about the pines.
At the western end of the glade, a gigantic fir, a forest patriarch, stood out above the more slender figures of his fellows. The roots, like , tressled a bench of boughs and skins. Before the tree burnt a fire, the to fan the fringe of the green fir's gown. The man in the black harness took Yeoland to the seat under the tree. The boughs arched them like a canopy, and the wood fire gave a lusty heat in the gloaming.
A boy had run forward to unhelm the in the red cloak. Casque and sword lay on the bench of boughs and skins. The girl's glance framed for the first time the man's face. She surveyed him at her leisure under lids, with a species of interest that escaped boldness. It was one of those incidents to her that stand up above the plain of life, and build individual history.
She saw a bronzed man with a of tawny-red hair, a great of a nose, and a hooked chin. His eyes were like , light into the depth of life, alert, deep, and masterful. There was a and indomitable in the face. The mouth was of iron, yet not unkind; the ; the throat . The mask of youth had palpably him; Life, that great of faces, had set her tool upon his features, moulding them into a and powerful dignity that suited his soul.
He appeared to the spirit of the girl's , nor did he take at the open and critical revision of her glances. He inferred calmly enough, that she considered him by no means blemishless in feature or in atmosphere. Probably he had long passed that age when the bachelor never doubts of plucking absolute favour from the eyes of a woman. The girl was not wholly enamoured of him. He was rational enough to read that in her glances.
"Madame is in doubt," he said to her, with a of a smile.
"As to what, messire?"
"My character."
"You prefer the truth?"
"Am I not a philosopher?"
"Hear the truth then, messire, I would not have you for a master."
The man laughed, a quiet, soundless laugh through half-closed lips. There was something magnetic about his grizzled and strength, cased in its shell of blackened steel. He had the air of one who had learnt to toy with his fellows, as with so many puppets. The world was largely a stage to him, grotesque at some seasons, strenuous at others.
"Ha, a miracle indeed," he said, "a woman who can tell the truth."
She ignored the and ran on.
"Your name, messire?"
The man spread his hands.
"Pardon the . I am known as Fulviac of the Forest. My heritage I judge to be the sword, and the shadows of these same wilds."
Yeoland considered him awhile in silence. The firelight on his harness, glittering on the ribbed and shoulder plates, striking a golden from the edge of each huge pauldron. flames burnt red upon his black cuirass, as in a darkened mirror. The night framed his figure in an aureole of gloom, as he sat with his massive head motionless upon its rock-like throat.
"Five years ago," she said suddenly, "you rode as a noble in the King's train. Now you declare yourself a thief. These things do not harmonise unless you confess to a self."
"Madame," he answered her, "I confess to nothing. If you would be wise, the past, and consider the present at your service. I am named Fulviac, and I am an . Let that grant you satisfaction."
Yeoland glanced over the glade, walled in with the gloom of the woods, the stream in the dusk, the armed men gathered about the further fire.
"And these?" she asked.
"Are mine."
"Outcasts also?"
"Say no hard things of them; they are folk whom the world has treated ; therefore they are at with the world. The times are out of , tyrannous and heavy to bear. The nobles like millstones grind the poor into , tread out the life from them, that the wine of pleasure may flow into . The world is under foot. Pride and greed go hand in hand against us."
She looked at him under her long , with the of in her eyes. was a right with her, even though feudalism had her sire.
"I would have the mob held in check," she said to him.
"And how? By cutting off a man's ears when he spits a stag. By splitting his nose for some small sin. By branding beggars who thieve because their children starve. Oh, equable and honest justice! God prevent me from being poor."
She looked at him with her great solemn eyes.
"And you?" she asked.
He spread his arms with a half-flippant dignity.
"I, madame, I take the whole world into my ."
"And play the Christ weeping over Jerusalem?"
"Madame, your wit is excellent."
A spit had been turning over the large fire, a haunch of venison being thereon by a big man in the cassock of a friar. Certain of Fulviac's fellows came forward bearing wine in silver-rimmed horns, white bread and meat upon platters of wood. They stood and served the pair with a silent and soldierly that discipline. The girl's hunger was as healthy as her , plump neck, despite the day's hazard and her homeless .
Dusk had fallen fast; the last pennon of day shone an streak of saffron in the west. The forest stood wrapped in the stupendous stillness of the night. An impenetrable curtain of ebony closed the glade with its rush-edged pool.
Fulviac's servers had retreated to the fire, where a ring of rough faces shone in the wayward light. The sound of their harsh voices came up to the pair in with the perpetual of the stream. Yeoland had shaken the bread-crumbs from her green gown. She was comforted in the flesh, and ready for further foining with the man who posed as her captor.
" is a rare virtue," she said, with a slight lifting of the angles of her mouth.
"I can that dogma."
"Do you pretend to the same?"
"You love the poor, conceive their wrongs to be your own?"
Fulviac smiled in his eyes like a man pleased with his own thoughts.
"Have I not said as much?"
"I my own image."
"And fame?"
He commended her and unbosomed in one breath.
"Pity," he said, "is often a species of splendid pride. We , we fight, we labour. Why? Because below all life and effort, there burns an egotism, an eternal vanity. 'Liberty, liberty,' we cry, 'liberty and justice man for man.' Yet how the soul glows at the sound of its own voice! The human self hugs fame, and mutters, 'Lo, what a god am I in the eyes of the world!'"

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