Now, as she went in that garden with her face turned toward the postern which led into the open space of the greenwood, which was but two bow-shots from the thicket, she heard the clatter of horse-hoofs on the loose stones of the path, and how they stopped at the said postern; and presently there was a key in the lock, the door opened, and a man came in walking stiffly, like a rider who has ridden far and fast. He was clad in jack and sallet, and had a sword by his side, and on his sleeve was done in green and gold a mountain aflame; so that Goldilind knew him at once for a man of Earl Geoffrey’s; and, indeed, she had seen the man before, coming and going on errands that she knew nought of, and on which nothing followed that was of import to her. Therefore, as she watched him cross the garden and go straight up to the door of the Foresters’ Tower, and take out another key and enter, she heeded him but little, nor did his coming increase her trouble a whit.
She walked on toward the postern, and now she saw that the errand-bearer had left it open behind him, and when she came close up to it, she saw his horse tied to a ring in the wall, a strong and good bay nag. The sight of him, and the glimpse of the free and open land, stirred in her the misery of her days and the yearning for the loveliness of the world without, converse of friends, hope of the sufficiency of desire, and the sweetness of love returned. And so strong a wave of anguish swept over her, that she bowed her down upon the grass and wept bitterly. Yet but a little while it lasted; she rose up presently and looked warily all round her, and up to the Castle, and saw none stirring; she drew up the skirts of her green gown into her girdle, till the hem but just hid her knees; then she stepped lightly through the half-open door with flushed cheeks and glittering eyes, while her heart rose within her; then she lifted her hand, unhitched the reins from the iron ring, and quietly led the horse close under the garth-wall, and stole gently up the slope which, as all roads from the Castle, went straightway toward the thicket, but this was the straightest. So she went, till she came to the corner of the garth-wall, and a little further; and the Castle on that side was blind, save for the swale on the battlement, whereon in that deep peace was little going; and, moreover, it was not even yet six o’clock.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58