| 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 |
 "HOW NOW, messieurs?" said a harsh voice, that fell upon the turmoil like a thunder-clap, and there stood Sir James Lee.
Instantly the struggle ceased, and the combatants scrambled to their feet.
The older lads stood silent before their chief, but Myles was deaf and blind and mad with passion, he knew not
where he stood or what he said or did. White as death, he stood for a while glaring about him, catching his
breath convulsively. Then he screamed hoarsely.
"Who struck me? Who struck me when I was down? I will have his blood that struck me!" He caught sight of
Blunt. "It was he that struck me!" he cried. "Thou foul traitor! thou coward!" and thereupon leaped at his
enemy like a wild-cat.
 "Stop!" cried Sir James Lee, clutching him by the arm.
Myles was too blinded by his fury to see who it was that held him. "I will not stop!" he cried, struggling and
striking at the knight. "Let me go! I will have his life that struck me when I was down!"
The next moment he found himself pinned close against the wall, and then, as though his sight came back, he
saw the grim face of the old one-eyed knight looking into his.
"Dost thou know who I am?" said a stern, harsh voice.
Instantly Myles ceased struggling, and his arms fell at his side. "Aye," he said, in a gasping voice, "I know
thee." He swallowed spasmodically for a moment or two, and then, in the sudden revulsion of feeling, burst out
Sir James marched the two off to his office, he himself walking between them, holding an arm of each, the
other lads following behind, awe-struck and silent. Entering the office, Sir James shut the door behind him,
leaving the group of squires clustered outside about the stone steps, speculating in whispers as to what would
be the outcome of the matter.
After Sir James had seated himself, the two
 standing facing him, he regarded them for a while in silence. "How now, Walter Blunt," said he at last, "what
is to do?"
"Why, this," said Blunt, wiping his bleeding lip. "That fellow, Myles Falworth, hath been breeding mutiny and
revolt ever sin he came hither among us, and because he was thus mutinous I would punish him therefor."
"In that thou liest!" burst out Myles. "Never have I been mutinous in my life."
"Be silent, sir," said Sir James, sternly. "I will hear thee anon."
"Nay," said Myles, with his lips twitching and writhing, "I will not be silent. I am friendless here, and ye
are all against me, but I will not be silent, and brook to have lies spoken of me."
Even Blunt stood aghast at Myles's boldness. Never had he heard any one so speak to Sir James before. He did
not dare for the moment even to look up. Second after second of dead stillness passed, while Sir James sat
looking at Myles with a stern, terrifying calmness that chilled him in spite of the heat of his passion.
"Sir," said the old man at last, in a hard, quiet voice, "thou dost know naught of rules and laws of such a
place as this. Nevertheless, it is time for thee to learn them. So I will tell thee now that if
 thou openest thy lips to say only one single word more except at my bidding, I will send thee to the black
vault of the donjon to cool thy hot spirits on bread and water for a week." There was something in the
measured quietness of the old knight's tone that quelled Myles utterly and entirely. A little space of silence
followed. "Now, then, Blunt," said Sir James, turning to the bachelor, "tell me all the ins and outs of this
business without any more underdealing."
This time Blunt's story, though naturally prejudiced in his own favor, was fairly true. Then Myles told his
side of the case, the old knight listening attentively.
"Why, how now, Blunt," said Sir James, when Myles had ended, "I myself gave the lads leave to go to the river
to bathe. Wherefore shouldst thou forbid one of them?"
"I did it but to punish this fellow for his mutiny," said the bachelor. "Methought we at their head were to
have oversight concerning them."
"So ye are," said the knight; "but only to a degree. Ere ye take it upon ye to gainsay any of my orders or
permits, come ye first to me. Dost thou understand?"
"Aye," answered Blunt, sullenly.
"So be it, and now get thee gone," said the
 knight; "and let me hear no more of beating out brains with wooden clogs. An ye fight your battles, let there
not be murder in them. This is twice that the like hath happed; gin I hear more of such doings—" He did
utter his threat, but stopped short, and fixed his one eye sternly upon the head squire. "Now shake hands, and
be ye friends," said he, abruptly.
Blunt made a motion to obey, but Myles put his hand behind him.
"Nay, I shake not hands with any one who struck me while I was down."
"So be it," said the knight, grimly. "Now thou mayst go, Blunt. Thou, Falworth, stay; I would bespeak thee
"Tell me," said he, when the elder lad had left them, "why wilt thou not serve these bachelors as the other
squires do? Such is the custom here. Why wilt thou not obey it?"
"Because," said Myles, "I cannot stomach it, and they shall not make me serve them. An thou bid me do it, sir,
I will do it; but not at their command."
"Nay," said the knight, "I do not bid thee do them service. That lieth with thee, to render or not, as thou
seest fit. But how canst thou hope to fight single-handed against the commands of a dozen lads all older and
mightier than thou?"
 "I know not," said Myles; "but were they an hundred, instead of thirteen, they should not make me serve them."
"Thou art a fool!" said the old knight, smiling faintly, "for that be'st not courage, but folly. When one
setteth about righting a wrong, one driveth not full head against it, for in so doing one getteth naught but
hard knocks. Nay, go deftly about it, and then, when the time is ripe, strike the blow. Now our beloved King
Henry, when he was the Earl of Derby, what could he have gained had he stood so against the old King Richard,
brooking the King face to face? I tell thee he would have been knocked on the head as thou wert like to have
been this day. Now were I thee, and had to fight a fight against odds, I would first get me friends behind me,
and then—" He stopped short, but Myles understood him well enough.
"Sir," said he, with a gulp, "I do thank thee for thy friendship, and ask thy pardon for doing as I did anon."
"I grant thee pardon," said the knight, "but tell thee plainly, an thou dost face me so again, I will truly
send thee to the black cell for a week. Now get thee away."
All the other lads were gone when Myles came forth, save only the faithful Gascoyne, who
sacri-  ficed his bath that day to stay with his friend; and perhaps that little act of self-denial moved Myles more
than many a great thing might have done.
"It was right kind of thee, Francis," said he, laying his hand affectionately on his friend's shoulder. "I
know not why thou lovest me so."
"Why, for one thing, this matter," answered his friend; "because methinks thou art the best fighter and the
bravest one of all of us squires."
Myles laughed. Nevertheless Gascoyne's words were a soothing balm for much that had happened that day. "I will
fight me no more just now," said he; and then he told his friend all that Sir James had advised about biding
Gascoyne blew a long whistle. "Beshrew me!" quoth he, "but methinks old Bruin is on thy side of the quarrel,
Myles. An that be so, I am with thee also, and others that I can name as well."
"So be it," said Myles. "Then am I content to abide the time when we may become strong enough to stand against
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics