Falcon part 4

Wandering boys soon caught sight of Sir Enguerrand’s bird in Rengud’s hand; the knight’s menials seized him and led him to the castle, and he shivered when the falcon was taken from him, motionless and proud as always, without turning his bent neck, without a glance from his cold, calm eyes. The bird was taken to his master, but he had not even a caress for the favorite he had missed, for he had allowed himself to be touched by ignoble hands. Sir Enguerrand gazed down in silence at Renaud, and in his mind there settled more and more distinctly the memory of an old game-law of the days when the noble’s foot lay steel-shod on the neck of the people, and pleasures fluttered inviolable about his shoulders—and his eyebrows closed about the certainty that the old law had never been repealed. The law provided that he who stole a falcon with the mark of a knight on its foot should pay twelve sols of silver or six ounces of flesh from his ribs under the beak of a famished bird of prey.

Two daughters

Sir Enguerrand knew of Renaud’s poverty and looked at his brown, naked breast. He stretched out his hand, and touched it with a testing, unfeeling gesture. Then he sent a message to the neighboring castle, which raised its pointed roofs above the forest, and invited the seneschal and his two daughters to be his guests three days later and see some falcons fly, after they had heightened the solemnity of a thief’s punishment by their presence—and they were to come before dawn.

Renaud’s eyes had been dilated by the darkness of his prison, they were black and immobile and the pupils merely contracted as they slowly grew brighter and reflected the torn clouds and rising sun in the east. Behind Sir Enguerrand was borne the Iceland falcon, his claws sharply fastened in the glove and a hood over his keen, hungry eyes which had not seen food for three days.

But farther behind swayed a line of color which burned and flamed. Six light-colored horses, almost blue in the dawn, were led by pages at a gallop, and red velvet cloths were lifted from their curved necks. The carriage that they drew was red, and in it gold shone heavily over the delicate breasts and slender arms of the seneschal’s daughters.

Six mounted damsels followed with hair as blonde as corn and their pointed feet playing under the folds of their skirts. Six huntsmen blew notes, which seemed to dance and turn round like wheels out of the mouths of the crooked horns, and the lines of the plain also danced and dashed past one another in a wine-colored mist, while the clouds above had shining borders like butterflies’ wings.

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