the old nurse, "Ho! John Birkenholt, thou wast ever a lad of smooth tongue, but an thou, or madam here, think that thy brothers can be put forth from thy father's door without their due before the good man be cold in his grave, and the Forest not ring with it, thou art mightily out in thy reckoning!"
"Peace, thou old hag; what matter is't of thine?" began Mistress Maud, but again came the harsh laugh.
"Matter of mine! Why, whose matter should it be but mine, that have nursed all three of the lads, ay, and their father before them, besides four more that lie in the graveyard at Beaulieu? Rest their sweet souls! And I tell thee, Master John, an thou do not righteously by these thy brothers, thou mayst back to thy parchments at Southampton, for not a man or beast in the Forest will give thee good-day."
They all felt the old woman's authority. She was able and spirited in her homely way, and more mistress of the house than Mrs Birkenholt herself; and such were the terms of domestic service,