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The Messenger of the Black Prince

227 pages3 hours


I remember the beginning of it as though it were yesterday. My brother André had sent me to the armorer’s to have some broken links mended in his gear. I was standing near the forge watching Le Brun send the sparks flying from his anvil and marveling with what strength and ease he was able to turn the stubborn bits of steel, when a man appeared at the door and with a smile bid us the time of day. There is nothing strange in that, to be sure. But yet the manner of his saying it struck us both, for his tone held a kind of sharpness as of mockery. I looked around quickly. Le Brun eased off the stroke as it came down. With a scowl upon his brow he leaned his weight upon the hammer. His big chest heaved as he glared towards the door.
“I agree, stranger,” he said. “It is a fair day.” He waved with his hand. “You will find the inn about half a league further down the road.”
It was a strong hint for the man to be on his way, but he took no more notice of it than if Le Brun were a child. Three quick steps and he was beside the bellows with the smile broader than before.
“Do I look like a man who could eat in an inn?” he demanded. At the same time he pointed to his clothes which were indeed only rags. He took the soiled cap from his head and threw it on the floor. Then, without a word he placed the palm of his hand upon it and turned the swiftest somersault that you could imagine. When he was standing upright again, he gazed into our faces with an expression as though he had performed the cleverest trick in the world.
“Look here!” growled the armorer with a frown. “You were here yesterday. I gave you a piece of silver to get rid of you. You are back again. Do you think——”
The fellow threw his hand in the air.
“Of course I am back again,” he cried. “Is it a crime for me to want to pay my debt?” With that he fumbled in the lining of his coat and brought forth a shining piece of gold. “There!” he called, flinging it on the anvil till it rang. “You have three times and more the sum you gave me!”
The slow-witted Le Brun looked at me and I at him. Both of us were sorely puzzled. The armorer shook his head...

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