| 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 |
 BUT MYLES was not dead. Those who had seen his face when the umbril of the helmet was raised, and then saw him fall as
he tottered across the lists, had at first thought so. But his faintness was more from loss of blood and the
sudden unstringing of nerve and sense from the intense furious strain of the last few moments of battle than
from the vital nature of the wound. Indeed, after Myles had been carried out of the lists and laid upon the
ground in the shade between the barriers, Master Thomas, the Prince's barber-surgeon, having examined the
wounds, declared that he might be even carried on a covered litter to Scotland Yard without serious danger.
The Prince was extremely desirous of having him under his care, and so the venture was tried. Myles was
carried to Scotland
 Yard, and perhaps was none the worse therefore. The Prince, the Earl of Mackworth, and two or three others
stood silently watching as the worthy shaver and leecher, assisted by his apprentice and Gascoyne, washed and
bathed the great gaping wound in the side, and bound it with linen bandages. Myles lay with closed eyelids,
still, pallid, weak as a little child. Presently he opened his eyes and turned them, dull and languid, to the
"What hath happed my father, my Lord?" said he, in a faint, whispering voice.
"Thou hath saved his life and honor, Myles," the Prince answered. "He is here now, and thy mother hath been
sent for, and cometh anon with the priest who was with them this morn."
Myles dropped his eyelids again; his lips moved, but he made no sound, and then two bright tears trickled
across his white cheek.
"He maketh a woman of me," the Prince muttered through his teeth, and then, swinging on his heel, he stood for
a long time looking out of the window into the garden beneath.
"May I see my father?" said Myles, presently, without opening his eyes.
The Prince turned around and looked inquiringly at the surgeon.
The good man shook his head. "Not to-day,"
 said he; "haply to-morrow he may see him and his mother. The bleeding is but new stanched, and such matters as
seeing his father and mother may make the heart to swell, and so maybe the wound burst afresh and he die. An
he would hope to live, he must rest quiet until to-morrow day."
But though Myles's wound was not mortal, it was very serious. The fever which followed lingered longer than
common—perhaps because of the hot weather—and the days stretched to weeks, and the weeks to
months, and still he lay there, nursed by his mother and Gascoyne and Prior Edward, and now and again by Sir
One day, a little before the good priest returned to Saint Mary's Priory, as he sat by Myles's bedside, his
hands folded, and his sight turned inward, the young man suddenly said, "Tell me, holy father, is it always
wrong for man to slay man?"
The good priest sat silent for so long a time that Myles began to think he had not heard the question. But
by-and-by he answered, almost with a sigh, "It is a hard question, my son, but I must in truth say, meseems it
is not always wrong."
"Sir," said Myles, "I have been in battle when men were slain, but never did I think thereon as I have upon
this matter. Did I sin in so slaying my father's enemy?"
 "Nay," said Prior Edward, quietly, "thou didst not sin. It was for others thou didst fight, my son, and for
others it is pardonable to do battle. Had it been thine own quarrel, it might haply have been more hard to
have answered thee."
Who can gainsay, even in these days of light, the truth of this that the good priest said to the sick lad so
far away in the past?
One day the Earl of Mackworth came to visit Myles. At that time the young knight was mending, and was sitting
propped up with pillows, and was wrapped in Sir James Lee's cloak, for the day was chilly. After a little time
of talk, a pause of silence fell.
"My Lord," said Myles, suddenly, "dost thou remember one part of a matter we spoke of when I first came from
The Earl made no pretence of ignorance. "I remember," said he, quietly, looking straight into the young man's
thin white face.
"And have I yet won the right to ask for the Lady Alice de Mowbray to wife?" said Myles, the red rising
faintly to his cheeks.
"Thou hast won it," said the Earl, with a smile.
Myles's eyes shone and his lips trembled with the pang of sudden joy and triumph, for he was still very weak.
"My Lord," said he, presently
 "belike thou camest here to see me for this very matter?"
The Earl smiled again without answering, and Myles knew that he had guessed aright. He reached out one of his
weak, pallid hands from beneath the cloak. The Earl of Mackworth took it with a firm pressure, then instantly
quitting it again, rose, as if ashamed of his emotion, stamped his feet, as though in pretence of being
chilled, and then crossed the room to where the fire crackled brightly in the great stone fireplace.
Little else remains to be told; only a few loose strands to tie, and the story is complete.
Though Lord Falworth was saved from death at the block, though his honor was cleansed from stain, he was yet
as poor and needy as ever. The King, in spite of all the pressure brought to bear upon him, refused to restore
the estates of Falworth and Easterbridge—the latter of which had again reverted to the crown upon the
death of the Earl of Alban without issue—upon the grounds that they had been forfeited not because of
the attaint of treason, but because of Lord Falworth having refused to respond to the citation of the courts.
So the business dragged along for month after month, until in January the King died suddenly in the Jerusalem
Chamber at Westminster.
 Then matters went smoothly enough, and Falworth and Mackworth swam upon the flood-tide of fortune.
So Myles was married, for how else should the story end? And one day he brought his beautiful young wife home
to Falworth Castle, which his father had given him for his own, and at the gateway of which he was met by Sir
James Lee and by the newly-knighted Sir Francis Gascoyne.
One day, soon after this home-coming, as he stood with her at an open window into which came blowing the
pleasant May-time breeze, he suddenly said, "What didst thou think of me when I first fell almost into thy
lap, like an apple from heaven?"
"I thought thou wert a great, good-hearted boy, as I think thou art now," said she, twisting his strong,
sinewy fingers in and out.
"If thou thoughtst me so then, what a very fool I must have looked to thee when I so clumsily besought thee
for thy favor for my jousting at Devlen. Did I not so?"
"Thou didst look to me the most noble, handsome young knight that did ever live; thou didst look to me Sir
Galahad, as they did call thee, withouten taint or stain."
Myles did not even smile in answer, but looked
 at his wife with such a look that she blushed a rosy red. Then, laughing, she slipped from his hold, and
before he could catch her again was gone.
I am glad that he was to be rich and happy and honored and beloved after all his hard and noble fighting.
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