"That I may not tell thee just now," said the old knight, "only this--that I have been bidden to make it known to thee that thy father hath an enemy full as powerful as my Lord the Earl himself, and that through that enemy all his ill-fortune --his blindness and everything--hath come. Moreover, did this enemy know where thy father lieth, he would slay him right speedily."
"Sir," cried Myles, violently smiting his open palm upon the table, "tell me who this man is, and I will kill him!"
Sir James smiled grimly. "Thou talkest like a boy," said he. "Wait until thou art grown to be a man. Mayhap then thou mayst repent thee of these bold words, for one time this enemy of thy father's was reckoned the foremost knight in England, and he is now the King's dear friend and a great lord."
"But," said Myles, after another long time of heavy silence, "will not my Lord then befriend me for the sake of my father, who was one time his dear comrade?"
Sir James shook his head. "It may not be," said he. "Neither thou nor thy father must look for open favor from the Earl. An he befriended Falworth, and it came to be known that he had given him aid or succor, it might belike be to his own undoing. No, boy; thou must not even look to be taken into the household to serve with gentlemen as the other squires do serve, but must even live thine own life here and fight thine own way."
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.