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HOME > Classical Novels > Love Among the Ruins > CHAPTER 14
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  Duessa had come to Avalon, having heard certain whisperings of Gilderoy, and of a golden-haired Astarte who kept house there. Dame Duessa was a proud woman and a , headstrong as a reformer, jealous as a parish priest. She boasted a great and a great name, and desires and convictions in keeping. She was a woman who loved her robe cupboard, her jewel-case, and her bed. Moreover, she pretended some affection for the Lord Flavian her husband, perhaps of ownership, seeing that Dame Duessa was very to keep him in compact with herself. She suspected that the man did not consider her a saint, or worship her as such. Yet, termagant that she was, Dame Duessa could suffer some of empty sentiment, provided Fate did not rob her of her share in the broad and rent-roll of Gambrevault.  
Avalon was a castle of ten towers, linked by a strong curtain wall, and built about a large central court and garden. A great moat circled the whole, a moat broad and silvery as a lake, with water-lilies growing thick in the shallows. Beyond the moat, meadows tufted with green rushes swept to the gnarled of the old oaks that vanguarded the forest. The black towers in a mist of green, girded with sheeny water, tented by the of a southern sky.
Dame Duessa, being a lady of silks and tissues, did not love the place with all her soul. Avalon of the was dull, and of Arcady; it was far removed from that island of fair sin, Lauretia, the King's city. Moreover, the Lord Flavian and his ungallant gentlemen held rigorously to the northern , leaving her to in her rich in a southern tower.
Her husband to exile himself as far as Castle Avalon could suffer him. If the pair went to mass, they went separately, with the of an Athanasius handing an Aryus over to hell. When they hunted they rode towards opposite stars. No children had chastened them, pledges of heaven-given life. The Lady Duessa ought that hinted at caudle, swaddling-clothes, and cradles. Moreover, all Avalon seemed in league with the Lord Flavian. , esquires, scullions, horse-boys swore by him as though he were a Bayard. Dame Duessa could rely on a prig of a page, and a lady-in-waiting who wore a , and perhaps on Fra Balthasar, the Dominican.
Meanwhile, the Lord of Avalon had been putting his in stone and timber, and an army of from Geraint. The in Cambremont wood rang to the swing of axes and the of the saw. The tower had been of its ashes, its rooms retimbered, its filled with glass. A was springing into life under the trees; the cleverest masons of the south were at work upon its pillars and its arches. Fra Balthasar, the Dominican, held sway over the whole, subtle in colour and the of stone. Flavian could have found no better to his penitence. Rose nobles had been . , jewel bright, were to blaze out upon the walls. The roof was to be constellated with gold stars, shining from skies of purple and azure.
To turn to Fulviac's great cliff hid in the dark depths of the forest of pines. The disloyal of the kingdom was day by day, borne on the breeze. The forest all comers and delivered them like ghosts into Fulviac's . An army might have melted into the wilds, and the countryside have been none the wiser. Amid the pines and rocks of the cliffs there were marchings and countermarchings, much shouldering of pikes and ordering of companies. Veterans who had fought the infidels under Wenceslaus, drilled the raw , and inculcated with hoarse bellowings the of military reason. They were rough gentlemen, and Fulviac stroked them with a gauntlet of iron. They were to attempt liberty together, and he demonstrated to them that such freedom could be won solely by discipline and soldierly . The and swore behind his back, but were glad in their hearts to have a man for master.
To speak again of the girl Yeoland. That March night she had met Fulviac over the of the broken gate, and had made a profession of the truth, so far, she said, as she could it. She had been long in the forest, had returned to the cliff to find the guards , and the Lord Flavian gone. By some device he had escaped from his , slain the men, and fled by the northern postern. The woman made a goodly of vexation of spirit over the escape of this . She even Fulviac with foolhardiness, and lack of in so her .
The man's escape from the cliff roused Fulviac's energies to full flood. The of Avalon was ignorant of the volcano bubbling under his feet, yet any on his part might prove at so critical an hour. Fulviac thrust forward the wheels of war with a heavy hand. The of and discontent were to a river of revolt, that threatened to crush tyranny as an crushes a forest.
The with her moon-white face still inspired Yeoland with the visionary behest given in the ruined chapel. The girl's fingers at the banner; she spent half her days upon her knees, as any Helena. She knew Fulviac's schemes as surely as she did the on her rosary. The rough of the forest held her to be a saint, and knelt to touch her dress as she passed by.
Yet what are dreams but snowflakes drifting from the heavens, now white, now red, as God or man carries the lamp of love? The girl's of faith was but a potion to her, dazing her from a yet more subtle dream. A faint voice summoned her from the unknown. She would hear it often in the silence of the night, or at full noon as she in her prayers. The rosary would hang idle on her wrist, the crucifix melt from her vision. She would find her heart glowing like a rose at the touch of the sun. Anon, frightened, she would shake the human half of herself, and run back to her prayers.
It was springtide and the year's youth, when memories are garlanded with green, and romance wind-flowers over the world. Many voices awoke, like the chanting of birds, in Yeoland's heart. She desired, even as a swallow, to see t............
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