Beltane the Smith (Chapter 5, page 1 of 9)


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Chapter 5

Deep, deep within the green twilight of the woods Ambrose the Hermit had builded him a hut; had built and framed it of rude stones and thatched it with grass and mosses. And from the door of the hut he had formed likewise a path strewn thick with jagged stones and sharp flints, a cruel track, the which, winding away through the green, led to where upon a gentle eminence stood a wooden cross most artfully wrought and carven by the hermit's skilled and loving fingers.

Morning and evening, winter and summer it was his custom ever to tread this painful way, wetting the stones with the blood of his atonement.

Now upon a certain rosy dawn, ere yet the sun was up, Beltane standing amid the leaves, saw the hermit issue forth of the hut and, with bowed head and folded hands, set out upon his appointed way. The cruel stones grew red beneath his feet yet he faltered not nor stayed until, being come to the cross, he kneeled there and, with gaunt arms upraised, prayed long and fervently so that the tears of his passion streamed down his furrowed cheeks and wetted the snow of his beard.

In a while, having made an end, he arose and being come to his hut once more, he of a sudden espied Beltane standing amid the leaves; and because he was so fair and goodly to look upon in his youth and might, the pale cheek of the hermit flushed and a glow leapt within his sunken eyes, and lifting up his hand, he blessed him.

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