Myles's eyes blazed. "Then," cried he, fiercely, "it is shame and attaint upon my Lord the Earl, and cowardice as well, and never will I ask favor of him who is so untrue a friend as to turn his back upon a comrade in trouble as he turneth his back upon my father."
"Thou art a foolish boy," said Sir James with a bitter smile, "and knowest naught of the world. An thou wouldst look for man to befriend man to his own danger, thou must look elsewhere than on this earth. Was I not one time Mackworth's dear friend as well as thy father? It could cost him naught to honor me, and here am I fallen to be a teacher of boys. Go to! thou art a fool."
Then, after a little pause of brooding silence, he went on to say that the Earl was no better or worse than the rest of the world. That men of his position had many jealous enemies, ever seeking their ruin, and that such must look first of all each to himself, or else be certainly ruined, and drag down others in that ruin. Myles was silenced, but the bitterness had entered his heart, and abided with him for many a day afterwards.
Perhaps Sir James read his feelings in his frank face, for he sat looking curiously at him, twirling his grizzled mustache the while. "Thou art like to have hard knocks of it, lad, ere thou hast gotten thee safe through the world," said he, with more kindness in his harsh voice than was usual. "But get thee not into fights before thy time." Then he charged the boy very seriously to live at peace with his fellow-squires, and for his father's sake as well as his own to enter into none of the broils that were so frequent in their quarters.
It was with this special admonition against brawling that Myles was dismissed, to enter, before five minutes had passed, into the first really great fight of his life.
Besides Gascoyne and Wilkes, he found gathered in the dormitory six or eight of the company of squires who were to serve that day upon household duty; among others, Walter Blunt and three other bachelors, who were changing their coarse service clothes for others more fit for the household.
"Why didst thou tarry so long, Myles?" said Gascoyne, as he entered. "Methought thou wert never coming."
"Where goest thou, Falworth?" called Blunt from the other end of the room, where he was lacing his doublet.
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