Beltane the Smith (Chapter 2, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 2

Now it fell out upon a day, that as Beltane strode the forest ways, there met him a fine cavalcade, gay with the stir of broidered petticoat and ermined mantle; and, pausing beneath a tree, he stood to hearken to the soft, sweet voices of the ladies and to gaze enraptured upon their varied beauty. Foremost of all rode a man richly habited, a man of great strength and breadth of shoulder, and of a bearing high and arrogant. His face, framed in long black hair that curled to meet his shoulder, was of a dark and swarthy hue, fierce looking and masterful by reason of prominent chin and high-arched nose, and of his thin-lipped, relentless mouth. Black were his eyes and bold; now staring bright and wide, now glittering 'twixt heavy, narrowed lids; yet when he smiled they glittered brightest, and his lips showed moistly red. Beside him rode a lady of a wondrous dark beauty, sleepy eyed and languid; yet her glance was quick to meet the Duke's bold look, and, 'neath her mantle, her fingers met, once in a while, and clung with his, what time his red lips would smile; but, for the most part, his brow was gloomy and he fingered his chin as one in thought.

As he paced along upon his richly caparisoned steed, pinching at his long, blue-shaven chin with supple fingers, his heavy brows drawn low, of a sudden his narrowed lids widened and his eyes gleamed bright and black as they beheld my Beltane standing in the shade of the tree.

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