"Pardee!" said Sir James, grimly. "An I had had a mace in my hand, I would have knocked thy cockerel brains out that time. Thou mayst take that blow for answering me so pertly. And now we are quits. Now strike me the stroke again an thou art not afeard."
Myles's eyes watered in spite of himself, and he shut the lids tight to wink the dimness away. Nevertheless he spoke up undauntedly as before. "Aye, marry, will I strike it again," said he; and this time he was able to recover guard quickly enough to turn Sir James's blow with his shield, instead of receiving it upon his head.
"So!" said Sir James. "Now mind thee of this, that when thou strikest that lower cut at the legs, recover thyself more quickly. Now, then, strike me it at the pel."
Gascoyne and other of the lads who were just then lying stretched out upon the grass beneath, a tree at the edge of the open court where stood the pels, were interested spectators of the whole scene. Not one of them in their memory had heard Sir James so answered face to face as Myles had answered him, and, after all, perhaps the lad himself would not have done so had he been longer a resident in the squires' quarters at Devlen.
"By 'r Lady! thou art a cool blade, Myles," said Gascoyne, as they marched back to the armory again. "Never heard I one bespeak Sir James as thou hast done this day."
"And, after all," said another of the young squires, "old Bruin was not so ill-pleased, methinks. That was a shrewd blow he fetched thee on the crown, Falworth. Marry, I would not have had it on my own skull for a silver penny."
So little does it take to make a body's reputation.
That night all the squires' quarters buzzed with the story of how the new boy, Falworth, had answered Sir James Lee to his face without fear, and had exchanged blows with him hand to hand. Walter Blunt himself was moved to some show of interest.