The gate-keeper gave the two in charge of one of the men-at-arms who were lounging upon a bench in the archway, who in turn gave them into the care of one of the house-servants in the outer court-yard. So, having been passed from one to another, and having answered many questions, Myles in due time found himself in the outer waiting-room sitting beside Diccon Bowman upon a wooden bench that stood along the wall under the great arch of a glazed window.
For a while the poor country lad sat stupidly bewildered. He was aware of people coming and going; he was aware of talk and laughter sounding around him; but he thought of nothing but his aching homesickness and the oppression of his utter littleness in the busy life of this great castle.
Meantime old Diccon Bowman was staring about him with huge interest, every now and then nudging his young master, calling his attention now to this and now to that, until at last the lad began to awaken somewhat from his despondency to the things around. Besides those servants and others who came and went, and a knot of six or eight men-at-arms with bills and pole-axes, who stood at the farther door-way talking together in low tones, now and then broken by a stifled laugh, was a group of four young squires, who lounged upon a bench beside a door-way hidden by an arras, and upon them Myles's eyes lit with a sudden interest. Three of the four were about his own age, one was a year or two older, and all four were dressed in the black-and-yellow uniform of the house of Beaumont.
Myles plucked the bowman by the sleeve. "Be they squires, Diccon?" said he, nodding towards the door.
"Eh?" said Diccon. "Aye; they be squires."
"And will my station be with them?" asked the boy.
"Aye; an the Earl take thee to service, thou'lt haply be taken as squire."
Myles stared at them, and then of a sudden was aware that the young men were talking of him. He knew it by the way they eyed him askance, and spoke now and then in one another's ears. One of the four, a gay young fellow, with long riding- boots laced with green laces, said a few words, the others gave a laugh, and poor Myles, knowing how ungainly he must seem to them, felt the blood rush to his cheeks, and shyly turned his head.
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