He did not know how soon his protestations would be put to the test.
One night--it was a week or two after Myles had come to Devlen--Blunt was called to attend the Earl at livery. The livery was the last meal of the day, and was served with great pomp and ceremony about nine o'clock at night to the head of the house as he lay in bed. Curfew had not yet rung, and the lads in the squires' quarters were still wrestling and sparring and romping boisterously in and out around the long row of rude cots in the great dormitory as they made ready for the night. Six or eight flaring links in wrought-iron brackets that stood out from the wall threw a great ruddy glare through the barrack-like room-- a light of all others to romp by. Myles and Gascoyne were engaged in defending the passage-way between their two cots against the attack of three other lads, and Myles held his sheepskin coverlet rolled up into a ball and balanced in his hand, ready for launching at the head of one of the others so soon as it should rise from behind the shelter of a cot. Just then Walter Blunt, dressed with more than usual care, passed by on his way to the Earl's house. He stopped for a moment and said, "Mayhaps I will not be in until late to-night. Thou and Falworth, Gascoyne, may fetch water to-morrow.
Then he was gone. Myles stood staring after his retreating figure with eyes open and mouth agape, still holding the ball of sheepskin balanced in his hand. Gascoyne burst into a helpless laugh at his blank, stupefied face, but the next moment he laid his hand on his friend's shoulder.
"Myles," he said, "thou wilt not make trouble, wilt thou?"
Myles made no answer. He flung down his sheepskin and sat him gloomily down upon the side of the cot.
"I said that I would sooner die than fetch water for them," said he.
"Aye, aye," said Gascoyne; "but that was spoken in haste."
Myles said nothing, but shook his head.
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