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     Keeping Tryst: A Tale of King Arthur's Time, p.1

       Annie F. Johnston / Young Adult
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Keeping Tryst: A Tale of King Arthurs Time Produced by David Edwards, Emmy and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (This file wasproduced from images generously made available by TheInternet Archive)



Cover]

_KEEPING TRYST_

_A TALE OF KING ARTHUR'S TIME_

The Johnston Jewel Series

BY ANNIE FELLOWS JOHNSTON

Each, small 16mo, cloth, decorated cover and frontispiece, with decorative text borders _75c._

LIST OF TITLES

THE RESCUE OF THE PRINCESS WINSOME: A Fairy Play for Old and Young.

KEEPING TRYST: A Tale of King Arthur's Time.

*IN THE DESERT OF WAITING: The Legend of Camelback Mountain.

*THE THREE WEAVERS: A Fairy Tale for Fathers and Mothers as Well as for Their Daughters.

THE LEGEND OF THE BLEEDING HEART.

*THE JESTER'S SWORD.

*Also bound in full flexible leather, with special tooling in gold,boxed _$2.00_

THE PAGE COMPANY 53 BEACON STREET, BOSTON, MASS.

I am Ederyn come to keep the King's tryst]

_KEEPING TRYST_

A Tale of King Arthur's Time

”_'Tis the king's call. O list! Thou heart and hand of mine, Keep tryst-- Keep tryst or die!_”

BY ANNIE FELLOWS JOHNSTON

_Author of ”The Little Colonel Series,” ”Big Brother,” ”Joel: A Boy of Galilee,” etc._



BOSTON _THE PAGE COMPANY_ PUBLISHERS

_Copyright, 1905_ BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY (Incorporated)

_Copyright, 1906_ BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY (Incorporated)

_All rights reserved_

Second Impression, December, 1906 Third Impression, April, 1910 Fourth Impression, May, 1911 Fifth Impression, February, 1914 Sixth Impression, April, 1918 Seventh Impression, June, 1920

_COLONIAL PRESS_ _Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co._ _Boston, U.S.A._

_Keeping Tryst_

NOW there was a troubadour in the kingdom of Arthur, who, strollingthrough the land with only his minstrelsy to win him a way, found inevery baron's hall and cotter's hut a ready welcome. And while theboar's head sputtered on the spit, or the ale sparkled in the shiningtankards, he told such tales of joust and journey, and feats of braveknight errantry, that even the scullions left their kitchen tasks, and,creeping near, stood round the door with mouths agape to listen.

Then with his harp-strings tuned to echoes of the wind on winter moors,he sang of death and valour on the field, of love and fealty in thehall, till those who listened forgot all save his singing and the nobleknights whereof he sang.

One winter night, as thus he carolled in a great earl's hall, a littlepage crept nearer to his bench beside the fire, and, with his blue eyesfixed in wonderment upon the graybeard's face, stood spellbound. NowEderyn was the page's name, an orphan lad whose lineage no man knew,but that he came of gentle blood all eyes could see, although as vassal'twas his lot to wait upon the great earl's squire.

It was the Yule-tide, and the wassail-bowl passed round till boisterousmirth drowned oftentimes the minstrel's song, but Ederyn missed no word.Scarce knowing what he did, he crept so close he found himself withupturned face against the old man's knee.

”How now, thou flaxen-haired,” the minstrel said, with kindly smile.”Dost like my song?”

”Oh, sire,” the youth made answer, ”methinks on such a wing the soulcould well take flight to Paradise. But tell me, prithee, is it possiblefor such as _I_ to gain the title of a knight? How doth one win suchhonours and acclaim and reach the high estate that thou dost laud?”

The minstrel gazed a little space into the Yule log's flame, and strokedhis long hoar beard. Then made he answer:

”Some win their spurs and earn the royal accolade because the blood ofdragons stains their hands. From mighty combat with these terrors theycome victorious to their king's reward. And some there be sore scarredwith conquest of the giants that ever prey upon the borders of our fairdomain. Some, who have gone on far crusades to alien lands, and therewith heart of gold and iron hand have proved their fealty to the Crown.”

Then Ederyn sighed, for well he knew his stripling form could neverwage fierce combat with a dragon. His hands could never meet the brawnygrip of giants. ”Is there no other way?” he faltered.

”I wot not,” was the answer. ”But take an old man's counsel. Forget thydreams of glory, and be content to serve thy squire. For what hast suchas thou to do with great ambitions? They'd prove but flames to burnaway thy daily peace.”

With that he turned to quaff the proffered bowl and add his voice tothose whose mirth already shook the rafters. Nor had he any furtherspeech with Ederyn. But afterward the pretty lad was often in histhoughts, and in his wanderings about the land he mused upon thequestion he had asked.

Another twelvemonth sped its way, and once again the Yule log burnedwithin the hall, and once again the troubadour knocked at the gate, allin the night and falling snow. And as before, with merry jests they ledhim in and made him welcome. And as before, was every mouth agape fromsquire's to scullion's, as he sang.

Once more he sang of knights and ladyes fair, of love and death andvalour; and Ederyn, the page, crept nearer to him till the harp-stringsceased to thrill. With head upon his hands, he sat and sighed. Not evenwhen the wassail-bowl was passed with mirth and laughter did he look up.And when the graybeard minstrel saw his grief, he thought upon hisquestion of the Yule-tide gone.

”Ah, now, thou flaxen-haired,” he whispered in his ear. ”I bear theetidings which should make thee sing for joy. There _is_ a way for evensuch as thou to win the honours thou dost covet. I heard it in the royalcourt when last I sang there at the king's behest.”

Then all aquiver with his eagerness did Ederyn kneel, with face alight,beside the minstrel's knee to hear.

”Know this,” began the graybeard. ”'Tis the king's desire to 'stablishround him at his court a chosen circle whose fidelity hath stood theutmost test. Not deeds of prowess are required of these true followers,with no great conquests doth he tax them, but they must provethemselves trustworthy, until on hand and heart it may be graven large,'_In all things faithful_.'

”To Merlin, the enchanter, he hath left the choice, who by some strangespell I wot not of will send an eerie call through all the kingdom. Andonly those will hear who wake at dawn to listen in high places. And onlythose will heed who keep the compass needles of their souls true to thenorth star of a great ambition. The time of testing will be long, thesummons many. To duty and to sorrow, to disappointment and defeat, thoumay'st be called. No matter what the tryst, there is but one reply ifthou wouldst win thy knighthood. Give heed and I will teach thee nowthat answer.”

Then smiting on his harp, the minstrel sang, so softly under cover ofthe noise, that only Ederyn heard. Through all the song ran ever thisrefrain. It seemed a brooklet winding in and out through some fairmeadow:

”'Tis the king's call. O list! Thou heart and hand of mine, keep tryst-- Keep tryst or die!”

Then Ederyn, with his hand upon his heart, made solemn oath. ”Awake atdawn and listening in high places will I await that call. With thecompass needle of my soul true to the north star of a great ambitionwill I follow where it leads, and though through fire and flood it takeme, I'll make but this reply:

”''Tis the king's call. O list! Thou heart and hand of mine, keep tryst-- Keep tryst or die!'”

Pressing the old man's hand in gratitude (he could say no word for thestrange fulness in his throat that well-nigh choked him), he rose fromhis knees and left the hall to muse on what had passed.

That night he climbed into the tower, and, with his face turned to theeast, kept vigil all alone. Below, the rioters waxed louder in theirmirth. The knife was in the meat, the drink was in the horn. But hewould not join their revels, lest morning find him sunk in sodden sleep,heavy with feasting and witless from wine.

As gray dawn trailed across the hills, he started to his feet, for faraway sounded the call for which he had been waiting. It was like thefaint blowing of an elfin horn, but the words came clearly.

”Ederyn! Ederyn! One awaits thee at nightfall in the shade of theyew-tree by the abbey tower! Keep tryst!”

Now the abbey tower was the space of forty furlongs from the domain ofthe earl, and full well Ederyn knew that only by especial favour of hissquire could he gain leave of absence for this jaunt. So, from
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