Unit 20 Knights Honor(Ⅱ)…………………………341
It was clear from the beginning that they could have no future together. They were from two different worlds. Although Robert had grown into a strong, intelligent and handsome young man, his blood was not that of the royalty. This meant he could not woo(追求)Janine openly.
Janine’s father was a shrewd man. He recognized and comprehended that Robert would be a fine mate for his daughter, but the lack of good ancestry didn’t warrant the alliance between them. Lord Stafford was not vacant of feelings for the lad, and showed this when he entitled Robert to enter into the realm of knights. Lacking noble blood anchored his chances of becoming a knight, but if he verified the potential Lord Stafford recognized in him, he would discharge himself well, and possibly rise above his station.
Robert showed perpetual zeal in his studies and loyalty to his alliances. He never evaded responsibility, was never late, was quick and skillful in the use of weapons including sword. dagger(匕首)and spear, etc. He also showed keenness in his shrewdness, was brave in battle, and famous for his honesty(诚实).A favorite among leaders and peers(贵族),he rose through the ranks to become the apprentice(学徒)of the most famous and successful knight in the northern provinces.
Unable, still, to wed(娶)Janine, he entreated her to run away with him. Janine admitted that she wished to be with him, but the violation to the taboo of a secret marriage would bring disgrace upon her father and contaminate their good name. Robert was desolate and returned to his detachment, hoping she would change her mind and not abandon him.
Now he was deeply(深深地)sorry. Janine had been kidnapped from her father’s estate by the Earl of Morley and was being held as a hostage for ransom in one of his many jails. Lord Stafford had called upon Robert to come to his aid and to bring with him as many knights as possible to fulfill Janine’s release. Robert’s main objective was to rescue Janine and reclaiming her honor. He prayed he could do this before the conspiring(阴险的)kidnapper further hurt her.
Janine’s courage had thus far kept her from being bedded by the Earl of Morley; she reproached each time he approached. Herr raging temper and threats to hideously(可怕地)wrench and tramp him should he attempt to touch her were met with pretentious(狂妄的)laughter. Besides, the Earl was involved in an enfeoffment(封地)confrontation of his own family. He didn’t have time to try to win her over by being scheming.
It was Janine’s plan to maintain a climate of vicious contempt in her refusal of the Earl. Every time she thought of Robert, she became increasingly silent. “Why did I have to be such an idiot?”she asked herself.“If I had run off with him, none of this would have happened. My father’s estates would not have been butchered.1 would not be in peril(危险).And if Robert finds me,1 will have endangered(危及)his life by exposing him to this devil.”
Inner annoyance troubled her every waking moment, even when she was sleeping it was restless. She began to lose hope. If someone didn’t come soon, she would have to become the wife of the notorious nobleman. There was no point in asking him to release her. She knew inwardly that he would refuse her request.
During the night she sensed a change. She thought she had become accustomed to her misfortune, accepting that her liberty would not be achieved before the Earl forced her to submit to him. Suddenly alert, she approached the window of her bed chamber. Through the window, in the distance she could see an orange glow reflected from the clouds and the odor of smoke drifted in the chill night air. “The village is on fire! Why would the Earl want to harm the peasants? He must be crazy! I have to get out of here before he returns!”
At that moment she started to prompt her own escape. She began to groan, softly at first, then mounting in frequency and volume. She quivered on the bed, alternately clutching her stomach and wringing(绞,扭)her hands in a simulation of extreme discomfort(不适).Her guard, thinking his charge was in distress, entered the room hastily; neglectful of the danger he was now in. As soon as he was close enough, Janine hoisted her club, improvised(临时准备)from a piece of firewood(木柴),striking him so hard that he fell unconsciously on the floor.
Treading(行走)cautiously, she made her way down the staircase and out of the Earl’s domain, surprised to find that she saw no one as she left.
Bounced from his illusions by a sudden grumble(咕哝)from the colonel, Robert returned to the reality of their dilemma.
He heaved himself up from the floor of the cave and patted the colonel into full wakefulness. “I think we must take stock of the wreckage your stupidity has caused to us.”he shouted at him crankily(暴躁地).“If we follow the creek(小溪),and enter the village deviously(绕道地), it is possible that we might be able to take some of it back through the element of surprise.’’
The colonel, reproached by his underling(下属),refused at the idea of taking orders from Robert.
“If you do as I say,1 will not ridicule(嘲笑)you in public and you may, just possibly, be able to rejoice victory and flee from reproach!”Robert told him forcefully.
It took the colonel a moment to decide to abide by Robert’s conditions. “Tell me what you want me to do,”he said in agitation. He wasn’t intelligent, but he was shrewd enough to know his career as a knight would end if he disputes. He would willingly become Robert’s collaborator because he could not afford to be found reproachable for yesterday’s disaster, leading his soldiers into the Earl’s surprise attack.
“We must discover Janine’s exact whereabouts and extricate(救出)her without creating further trouble. Put on your helmet, pick up your canteen, and we’11 be on our way.1 warn you, though, abstain(放弃)from meddling(管闲事)in my plan. You are to follow my orders without questions. You needn’t be elaborately worried that 1 will rumor you, if you obey me,”Robert told him.
And so they set out on their quest to rescue Janine and suppress the fires of war.
The edge of the creek water was coated with newly formed ice, glossy(有光泽的)and golden in the early morning sun. As beautiful as it was, it was risky when it slit beneath their feet, making so much noise to alert the enemy of their approach. They left the concealment(隐蔽处)of the overgrown(簇叶丛生的)bank of the stream as they drew nearer to the village. Going into the open was filled with danger as well, but with any luck, they would be able to see it before they were seen.
It was manifest that the village had suffered significantly from the Earl’8 strike. Robert was stabbed with anger when he saw the acute damage to the small farms on the frontiers. “I swear I will impair that beast on my sword should I be fortunate enough to ferret(搜出)him out of his lair(巢穴)!It is my conjecture(推测)that he will pay gravely for this!”
The perishable roofs of the small stone cottages had been easily caught fire and smoke fumes filled the air. Here and there, tiny wavering of flames was still licking the walls burnt by the earlier fire. Wooden doors hung crippled from their heat-warped(因受热变形的)hinges. Windows were black with grease and smoke.
They needed no precaution as they entered the town. It had been deserted. “I see no signs of butchery(屠杀).Our men must have made it to safety with the wounded. I pray the villagers also found safe refuge.”Robert was thinking aloud.
“Are you all right, dear?”
Robert wheeled at the sound of his love’s voice. “Janine, how did you get here? How did you get that contemptible man to release you? Did he harm you?”
He threw his arms around her, drawing her to him and embracing her. She melted into the safety of his presence, rejoicing in the knowledge that she would never leave his side again. “I’m fine, Robert. I am in confusion, though. Where is that greedy man? I thought he would be near the village。but I saw no sign of him as I came here.”
“We have not seen him either, but you can rest assured he will be punished when the king learns what he had done. Come! I’11 take you to your father. Colonel, see if you can find where the villagers are hiding。and send them to Lord Stafford. I am sure he will be more than generous in rewarding them for their attempted resistance.”
Lord Stafford was overjoyed to see his daughter and Robert approaching the mansion. He greeted them triumphantly. “I have news for you. When Morley discovered you were gone, he feared for his life, vacated his position and attempted to cross the border to save himself. The King was in the radius and had heard of his conspiracy and betrayal. He had his men positioned, rather accidentally, at the exact site Morley had chosen for his escape, and intercepted(中途阻止)him. You acquitted(做出表现)yourself well, Robert. The King has heard of your exploits. He will tell you himself how you are to be rewarded. It is no secret, though; you will be granted Morley’s lands and holdings, as well as his title. Under his sponsorship, and with my blessings, you two will be free to wed.”
And so it came to be, that Robert and Janine paid respects to the King, had a lavish(盛大的)wedding, and settled into a life of calm wedded happiness, surrounded by Lord Stafford’s grandchildren.
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