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 Down through the woods of Avalon rode the Lord Flavian of Gambrevault, down towards the forest track in the grey face of the dawn. In the meadows and beyond the , water shone, and towers stood . The voice of Spring pulsed in the air, songs of green woods, the wild wine of violets, pavements of gold. Birds piped lustily in wood and , and the sun his glittering archery from the chariots of the clouds.  
The Lord Flavian was cheerful that morning, as he rode in green and red through the prophetic woods. Heart and weather were in kindred keeping, and his youth sang like a after April rains. The woods danced in dew. Far on its rocky hill the towers of Gilderoy would soon him above the trees. Beneath the shadow of the cathedral tower stood a gabled house with vanes and roofs of generous red. There in Gilderoy, in a room hung with cloth of purple and gold, white arms waited, and the of a golden Helen held love like a red rose in a pool of spikenard.
Picture a slim but muscular man with the figure of a young David, a keen, smooth face, a halo of brown hair, eyes as a woman's. Picture a good grey horse trapped in red and green, full of fettle as a colt, burly as a bull. Picture the ermined borderings, the jewelled clasps, brigantine of quilted , fur-lined bassinet bright as a star. Youth, clean, , to the last finger-tip, impetuous to the of thirty breaths a minute. Youth with all its splendid waywardness, its , its immense self-intoxications. Youth with the voice of a Golden Summer in its heart, and for its the gorgeous fires of eve.
Wealth often breeds and instincts. It is the beggar whose purse bursts with joy, whose soul blazes generous red upon the clouds. As for Flavian of Gambrevault and Avalon, he was rich but no , proud yet not , but not vicious. Like many a man inspired by an idealism, his heart ran before his reason: they not having come cheek by jowl as in later years. He was very , yet very worldly; very , yet over hasty. Mark him then, a lovable fool in the eyes of philosophy; a cup of wine, both white and red. He was a great lord; yet his serfs loved him.
The Lady Duessa's parents, good folk, had been blessed with . Gambrevault and Avalon had bulked very gloriously under the steel-blue of pride. Moreover, their daughter was a being, who panted for surroundings, and lived to music. A boy of twenty; a , dark-eyed, big-bosomed houri of twenty and five; bell, book, and ring--such had been the bridal bargain on church principles five years ago or more. A youth of twenty is not wise concerning the world, or his own heart. The Lord Flavian's marriage had not proved a magic to him. Parentally sealed marriage deeds are the edicts of the devil.
Quickly are the fallen, and the of love broken. It was no chance ambuscade that waited open-mouthed for Flavian, Lord of Gambrevault and Avalon, of the Southern Marches, of the Order of the Rose, as he rode that morning to Gilderoy, a of Venus. In a certain place, the road ran betwixt walls of rock, and under the of overhanging trees. Twenty men with pike and gisarme out of the woods; a short scuffle and a stabbed horse; a gag in the mouth, a bandage over the eyes, a mule's back, half a dozen of leather. That same evening the Lord Flavian was brought like a bale of merchandise into Fulviac's guard-room, and tumbled on a heap of straw in a corner.
They were grim men, these forest , not given to pity, or the light handling of a . A poniard point was their pet oath, a whip of the sword the best word with an enemy. They bit their thumb nails at creation, and were not gentle in the quest of a . Fulviac heard their news, and commended them. They were like the ogres of the old ; the red blood of a lusty fresh for the sword's supper.
The girl Yeoland was at her prayer-desk with a breviary under her fingers, when Fulviac came to her with tidings of the day's capture. She knelt with her hands crossed upon her bosom, as Fulviac stood in the darkened . To the man she appeared as the Madonna in some picture of the Annunciation, the yellow light from the lamp streaming down upon her with a of sanctity.
"They have brought the boar home."
"; but his candle walks the ."
For the girl it was a descent from spiritual themes to the realism of life. She left her prayer-desk with a little sigh. Her hands trembled as she drew a cloak about her, and fastened it with a girdle of green leather. Her eyes dwelt on Fulviac's face with a species of dusky pain.
"Come," he said to her.
"To judge him."
"Not before all, not in the guard-room."
"Leave it to me," he said. "Be forewarned. We deal with no mere swashbuckler."
They went together to Fulviac's parlour, where a great lamp hung from the roof, and a book bound in black leather lay chained on the table. Yeoland took the man's carved chair, while he stood behind her leaning on the rail. She was paler than was her . Now and again she pressed a hand to her breast, as though to stay the too rapid beating of her heart.
Two guards bearing came in from the guard-room with a man bound and between them. A third followed, bearing a two-handed sword naked over his shoulder. He was known as Nord of the Hammer, an armourer like to a Norse Volund, burly, strong as a bear. The door was barred upon them. One of the guards plucked the cloth from the bound man's face.
In the imagery of thought, Yeoland had often pictured to herself this Flavian of Gambrevault, a coarse, florid ruffian, burly and , a fleshly demigod in the world of feudalism. So much for . What she was a straight-lipped, clean-limbed man, slim as a , as good steel. The face was young yet strong, the grey eyes clear and fearless. Moreover there was a certain lonely look about him that
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