| 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 |
ORDER OF THE ROSE
 THE TWO friends kept the secret of the Eyry to themselves for a
little while, now and then visiting the old tower to
rummage among the lumber stored in the lower room, or to
loiter away the afternoon in the windy solitudes of
the upper heights. And in that little time, when the
ancient keep was to them a small world unknown to any but
themselves—a world far away above all the dull
matters of every-day life—they talked of many
things that might else never have been known to one
another. Mostly they spoke the crude romantic thoughts and
desires of boyhood's time—chaff thrown to the
wind, in which, however, lay a few stray seeds, fated to
fall to good earth, and to ripen to fruition in manhood's day.
In the intimate talks of that time Myles
im-  parted something of his honest solidity to Gascoyne's somewhat
weathercock nature, and to Myles's ruder and
more uncouth character Gascoyne lent a tone of his
gentler manners, learned in his pagehood service as
attendant upon the Countess and her ladies.
IN THE "EYRY."
In other things, also, the character and experience
of the one lad helped to supply what was lacking in the
other. Myles was replete with old Latin gestes,
fables, and sermons picked up during his school life, in those
intervals of his more serious studies when Prior
Edward had permitted him to browse in the greener pastures of
the Gesta Romanorum and the Disciplina
Clericalis of the monastery library, and
Gascoyne was never weary of hearing him tell those
marvellous stories culled from the crabbed Latin of the old
Upon his part Gascoyne was full of the lore of the
waiting-room and the antechamber, and Myles, who in all his
life had never known a lady, young or old, excepting
his mother, was never tired of lying silently listening
to Gascoyne's chatter of the gay doings of the castle
gentle-life, in which he had taken part so often in the
merry days of his pagehood.
"I do wonder," said Myles, quaintly, "that thou
 couldst ever find the courage to bespeak a young maid,
Francis. Never did I do so, nor ever could. Rather
would I face three strong men than one young damsel."
Whereupon Gascoyne burst out laughing. "Marry!" quoth
he, "they be no such terrible things, but gentle and
pleasant spoken, and soft and smooth as any cat."
"No matter for that," said Myles; "I would not face one such for worlds."
It was during the short time when, so to speak, the
two owned the solitude of the Brutus Tower, that Myles
told his friend of his father's outlawry and of the
peril in which the family stood. And thus it was.
"I do marvel," said Gascoyne one day, as the two lay
stretched in the Eyry, looking down into the castle
court-yard below—"I do marvel, now that thou art
'stablished here this month and more, that my Lord doth
never have thee called to service upon household duty.
Canst thou riddle me why it is so, Myles?"
The subject was a very sore one with Myles. Until
Sir James had told him of the matter in his office that day
he had never known that his father was attainted
and outlawed. He had accepted the change from their earlier
state and the bald
pov-  erty of their life at Crosbey-Holt with the easy carelessness
of boyhood, and Sir James's words were the first
to awaken him to a realization of the misfortunes of the
house of Falworth. His was a brooding nature, and in
the three or four weeks that passed he had meditated so
much over what had been told him, that by-and-by it
almost seemed as if a shadow of shame rested upon his
father's fair fame, even though the attaint set upon him
was unrighteous and unjust, as Myles knew it must be.
He had felt angry and resentful at the Earl's neglect,
and as days passed and he was not noticed in any way,
his heart was at times very bitter.
So now Gascoyne's innocent question touched a sore
spot, and Myles spoke with a sharp, angry pain in his voice
that made the other look quickly up. "Sooner would my
Lord have yonder swineherd serve him in the household
than me," said he.
"Why may that be, Myles?" said Gascoyne.
"Because," answered Myles, with the same angry bitterness
in his voice, "either the Earl is a coward that
feareth to befriend me, or else he is a caitiff,
ashamed of his own flesh and blood, and of me, the son of his
Gascoyne raised himself upon his elbow, and opened his
eyes wide in wonder. "Afeard of thee,
 Myles!" quoth he. "Why should he be afeared to befriend
thee? Who art thou that the Earl should fear thee?"
Myles hesitated for a moment or two; wisdom bade him
remain silent upon the dangerous topic, but his heart
yearned for sympathy and companionship in his trouble. "I will tell thee," said he, suddenly, and therewith
poured out all of the story, so far as he knew it, to his listening, wondering friend, and his heart felt
lighter to be thus eased of its burden. "And now," said he, as he concluded, "is not this Earl a mean-hearted
caitiff to leave me, the son of his one-time friend and kinsman, thus to stand or to fall alone among
strangers and in a strange place without once stretching me a helping hand?" He waited, and Gascoyne knew that
he expected an answer.
"I know not that he is a mean-hearted caitiff, Myles," said he at last, hesitatingly. "The Earl hath many
enemies, and I have heard that he hath stood more than once in peril, having been accused of dealings with the
King's foes. He was cousin to the Earl of Kent, and I do remember hearing that he had a narrow escape at that
time from ruin. There be more reasons than thou wottest of why he should not have dealings with thy father."
"I had not thought," said Myles, bitterly, after a
 little pause, "that thou wouldst stand up for him and against me in this quarrel, Gascoyne. Him will I never
forgive so long as I may live, and I had thought that thou wouldst have stood by me."
"So I do," said Gascoyne, hastily, "and do love thee more than any one in all the world, Myles; but I had
thought that it would make thee feel more easy, to think that the Earl was not against thee. And, indeed, from
all thou has told me, I do soothly think that he and Sir James mean to befriend thee and hold thee privily in
"Then why doth he not stand forth like a man and befriend me and my father openly, even if it be to his own
peril?" said Myles, reverting stubbornly to what he had first spoken.
Gascoyne did not answer, but lay for a long while in silence. "Knowest thou," he suddenly asked, after a
while, "who is this great enemy of whom Sir James speaketh, and who seeketh so to drive thy father to ruin?"
"Nay," said Myles, "I know not, for my father hath never spoken of these things, and Sir James would not tell
me. But this I know," said he, suddenly, grinding his teeth together, "an I do not hunt him out some day and
slay him like a dog—" He stopped abruptly, and Gascoyne, looking askance at him, saw that his eyes were
 tears, whereupon he turned his looks away again quickly, and fell to shooting pebbles out through the open
window with his finger and thumb.
"Thou wilt tell no one of these things that I have said?" said Myles, after a while.
"Not I," said Gascoyne. "Thinkest thou I could do such a thing?"
"Nay," said Myles, briefly.
Perhaps this talk more than anything else that had ever passed between them knit the two friends the closer
together, for, as I have said, Myles felt easier now that he had poured out his bitter thoughts and words; and
as for Gascoyne, I think that there is nothing so flattering to one's soul as to be made the confidant of a
But the old tower served another purpose than that of a spot in which to pass away a few idle hours, or in
which to indulge the confidences of friendship, for it was there that Myles gathered a backing of strength for
resistance against the tyranny of the bachelors, and it is for that more than for any other reason that it has
been told how they found the place and of what they did there, feeling secure against interruption.
Myles Falworth was not of a kind that forgets or
 neglects a thing upon which the mind has once been set. Perhaps his chief objective since the talk with Sir
James following his fight in the dormitory had been successful resistance to the exactions of the head of the
body of squires. He was now (more than a month had passed) looked upon by nearly if not all of the younger
lads as an acknowledged leader in his own class. So one day he broached a matter to Gascoyne that had for some
time been digesting in his mind. It was the formation of a secret order, calling themselves the "Knights of
the Rose," their meeting-place to be the chapel of the Brutus Tower, and their object to be the righting of
wrongs, "as they," said Myles, "of Arthur his Round-table did right wrongs."
"But, prithee, what wrongs are there to right in this place?" quoth Gascoyne, after listening intently to the
plan which Myles set forth.
"Why, first of all, this," said Myles, clinching his fists, as he had a habit of doing when anything stirred
him deeply, "that we set those vile bachelors to their right place; and that is, that they be no longer our
masters, but our fellows."
Gascoyne shook his head. He hated clashing and conflict above all things, and was for peace. Why should they
thus rush to thrust themselves into trouble? Let matters abide as they were a
 little longer; surely life was pleasant enough without turning it all topsy-turvy. Then, with a sort of
indignation, why should Myles, who had only come among them a month, take such service more to heart than they
who had endured it for years? And, finally, with the hopefulness of so many of the rest of us, he advised
Myles to let matters alone, and they would right themselves in time.
But Myles's mind was determined; his active spirit could not brook resting passively under a wrong; he would
endure no longer, and now or never they must make their stand.
"But look thee, Myles Falworth," said Gascoyne, "all this is not to be done withouten fighting shrewdly. Wilt
thou take that fighting upon thine own self? As for me, I tell thee I love it not."
"Why, aye," said Myles; "I ask no man to do what I will not do myself."
Gascoyne shrugged his shoulders. "So be it," said he. "An thou hast appetite to run thy head against hard
knocks, do it i' mercy's name! I for one will stand thee back while thou art taking thy raps."
There was a spirit of drollery in Gascoyne's speech that rubbed against Myles's earnestness.
 "Out upon it!" cried he, his patience giving way. "Seest not that I am in serious earnest? Why then dost thou
still jest like Mad Noll, my Lord's fool? An thou wilt not lend me thine aid in this matter, say so and ha'
done with it, and I will bethink me of somewhere else to turn."
Then Gascoyne yielded at once, as he always did when his friend lost his temper, and having once assented to
it, entered into the scheme heart and soul. Three other lads—one of them that tall thin squire Edmund
Wilkes, before spoken of—were sounded upon the subject. They also entered into the plan of the secret
organization with an enthusiasm which might perhaps not have been quite so glowing had they realized how very
soon Myles designed embarking upon active practical operations. One day Myles and Gascoyne showed them the
strange things that they had discovered in the old tower—the inner staircases, the winding passage-ways,
the queer niches and cupboard, and the black shaft of a well that pierced down into the solid wall, and
whence, perhaps, the old castle folk had one time drawn their supply of water in time of siege, and with every
new wonder of the marvellous place the enthusiasm of the three recruits rose higher and higher. They rummaged
through the lumber pile in the great circular room
 as Myles and Gascoyne had done, and at last, tired out, they ascended to the airy chapel, and there sat
cooling themselves in the rustling freshness of the breeze that came blowing briskly in through the arched
It was then and there that the five discussed and finally determined upon the detailed plans of their
organization, canvassing the names of the squirehood, and selecting from it a sufficient number of bold and
daring spirits to make up a roll of twenty names in all.
Gascoyne had, as I said, entered into the matter with spirit, and perhaps it was owing more to him than to any
other that the project caught its delightful flavor of romance.
"Perchance," said he, as the five lads lay in the rustling stillness through which sounded the monotonous and
ceaseless cooing of the pigeons—"perchance there may be dwarfs and giants and dragons and enchanters and
evil knights and what not even nowadays. And who knows but that if we Knights of the Rose hold together we may
go forth into the world, and do battle with them, and save beautiful ladies, and have tales and gestes written
about us as they are writ about the Seven Champions and Arthur his Round-table."
Perhaps Myles, who lay silently listening to all
 that was said, was the only one who looked upon the scheme at all in the light of real utility, but I think
that even with him the fun of the matter outweighed the serious part of the business.
So it was that the Sacred Order of the Twenty Knights of the Rose came to be initiated. They appointed a code
of secret passwords and countersigns which were very difficult to remember, and which were only used when they
might excite the curiosity of the other and uninitiated boys by their mysterious sound. They elected Myles as
their Grand High Commander, and held secret meetings in the ancient tower, where many mysteries were soberly
Of course in a day or two all the body of squires knew nearly everything concerning the Knights of the Rose,
and of their secret meetings in the old tower. The lucky twenty were the objects of envy of all not so
fortunate as to be included in this number, and there was a marked air of secrecy about everything they did
that appealed to every romantic notion of the youngsters looking on. What was the stormy outcome of it all is
now presently to be told.
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