| Men of Iron|
|by Howard Pyle|
|The thrilling story, set in England in the time of Henry IV, of how Myles Falworth advances to knighthood and through 'trial by battle' restores the fallen fortunes of his family. With breathless excitement, the reader follows the adventures of the hero, sympathizing with him in his troubles, fighting in his battles, and rejoicing in his good fortunes. Numerous illustrations by the author add to the attractiveness of the volume. Ages 10-14 |
THE BLIND LORD
 MYLES FALWORTH was but eight years of age at that time, and it was only afterwards, and when he grew old enough to know more
of the ins and outs of the matter, that he could remember by bits and pieces the things that afterwards
happened; how one evening a knight came clattering into the court-yard upon a horse, red-nostrilled and
smeared with the sweat and foam of a desperate ride—Sir John Dale, a dear friend of the blind Lord.
Even though so young, Myles knew that something very serious had happened to make Sir John so pale and
haggard, and he dimly remembered leaning against the knight's iron-covered knees, looking up into his gloomy
face, and asking him if he was sick to look so strange. Thereupon those who had been too troubled before to
 bethought themselves of him, and sent him to bed, rebellious at having to go so early.
He remembered how the next morning, looking out of a window
high up under the eaves, he saw a great troop of
horsemen come riding into the courtyard beneath, where a
powdering of snow had whitened everything, and of how
the leader, a knight clad in black armor, dismounted and
entered the great hall door-way below, followed by
several of the band.
He remembered how some of the castle women were standing
in a frightened group upon the landing of the stairs,
talking together in low voices about a matter he did not
understand, excepting that the armed men who had
ridden into the courtyard had come for Sir John Dale.
None of the women paid any attention to him; so,
shunning their notice, he ran off down the winding stairs,
expecting every moment to be called back again by
some one of them.
A crowd of castle people, all very serious and quiet,
were gathered in the hall, where a number of strange
men-at-arms lounged upon the benches, while two billmen
in steel caps and leathern jacks stood guarding the
great door, the butts of their weapons resting upon the
ground, and the staves crossed, barring the door-way.
 In the anteroom was the knight in black armor whom Myles had
seen from the window. He was sitting at the
table, his great helmet lying upon the bench beside him, and
a quart beaker of spiced wine at his elbow. A
clerk sat at the other end of the same table, with inkhorn in
one hand and pen in the other, and a parchment
spread in front of him.
Master Robert, the castle steward, stood before the knight,
who every now and then put to him a question,
which the other would answer, and the clerk write the answer
down upon the parchment.
His father stood with his back to the fireplace, looking
down upon the floor with his blind eyes, his brows
drawn moodily together, and the scar of the great wound that
he had received at the tournament at
York—the wound that had made him blind—showing
red across his forehead, as it always did when he
was angered or troubled.
There was something about it all that frightened Myles,
who crept to his father's side, and slid his little
hand into the palm that hung limp and inert. In answer to
the touch, his father grasped the hand tightly, but
did not seem otherwise to notice that he was there. Neither
did the black knight pay any attention to him, but
continued putting his questions to Master Robert.
 Then, suddenly, there was a commotion in the hall without, loud voices, and
a hurrying here and there. The
black knight half arose, grasping a heavy iron mace that lay upon the bench
beside him, and the next moment
Sir John Dale himself, as pale as death, walked into the antechamber. He
stopped in the very middle of the
room. "I yield me to my Lord's grace and mercy," said he to the black
knight, and they were the last words he
ever uttered in this world.
The black knight shouted out some words of command, and swinging up the
iron mace in his hand, strode forward
clanking towards Sir John, who raised his arm as though to shield himself
from the blow. Two or three of those
who stood in the hall without came running into the room with drawn
swords and bills, and little Myles, crying
out with terror, hid his face in his father's long gown.
The next instant came the sound of a heavy blow and of a groan,
then another blow and the sound of one falling
upon the ground. Then the clashing of steel, and in the midst
Lord Falworth crying, in a dreadful voice, "Thou
traitor! thou coward! thou murderer!"
Master Robert snatched Myles away from his father, and bore him out of
the room in spite of his
 screams and struggles, and he remembered just one instant's
sight of Sir John lying still and silent upon his
face, and of the black knight standing above him, with the
terrible mace in his hand stained a dreadful red.
It was the next day that Lord and Lady Falworth and
little Myles, together with three of the more faithful of
their people, left the castle.
THE FLIGHT FROM FALWORTH CASTLE.
His memory of past things held a picture for Myles of old
Diccon Bowman standing over him in the silence of
midnight with a lighted lamp in his hand, and with it a
recollection of being bidden to hush when he would
have spoken, and of being dressed by Diccon and one of
the women, bewildered with sleep, shuddering and
chattering with cold.
He remembered being wrapped in the sheepskin that lay at
the foot of his bed, and of being carried in Diccon
Bowman's arms down the silent darkness of the winding
stair-way, with the great black giant shadows swaying
and flickering upon the stone wall as the dull flame of
the lamp swayed and flickered in the cold breathing of
the night air.
Below were his father and mother and two or three others. A stranger stood warming his hands at a newly-made
fire, and little Myles, as he
 peeped from out the warm sheepskin, saw that he was in riding-boots and was covered with mud. He did not know
till long years afterwards that the stranger was a messenger sent by a friend at the King's court, bidding his
father fly for safety.
They who stood there by the red blaze of the fire were all very still, talking in whispers and walking on
tiptoes, and Myles's mother hugged him in her arms, sheepskin and all, kissing him, with the tears streaming
down her cheeks, and whispering to him, as though he could understand their trouble, that they were about to
leave their home forever.
Then Diccon Bowman carried him out into the strangeness of the winter midnight.
Outside, beyond the frozen moat, where the osiers, stood stark and stiff in their winter nakedness, was a
group of dark figures waiting for them with horses. In the pallid moonlight Myles recognized the well-known
face of Father Edward, the Prior of St. Mary's.
After that came a long ride through that silent night upon the saddle-bow in front of Diccon Bowman; then a
deep, heavy sleep, that fell upon him in spite of the galloping of the horses.
When next he woke the sun was shining, and his home and his whole life were changed.
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