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Title: Agincourt - The Works of G. P. R. James, Volume XX
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford), 1801-1860
Language: English
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[Illustration: Agincourt]



                              THE WORKS

                                  OF

                         G. P. R. JAMES, ESQ.



                 REVISED AND CORRECTED BY THE AUTHOR.



                    WITH AN INTRODUCTORY PREFACE.


"D'autres auteurs l'ont encore plus avili, (le roman,) en y mêlant les
tableaux dégoutant du vice; et tandis que le premier avantage des
fictions est de rassembler autour de l'homme tout ce qui, dans la
nature, peut lui servir de leçon ou de modèle, on a imaginé qu'on
tirerait une utilité quelconque des peintures odieuses de mauvaises
m[oe]urs; comme si elles pouvaient jamais laisser le c[oe]ur qui les
repousse, dans une situation aussi pure que le c[oe]ur qui les aurait
toujours ignorées. Mais un roman tel qu'on peut le concevoir, tel que
nous en avons quelques modèles, est une des plus belles productions de
l'esprit humain, une des plus influentes sur la morale des individus,
qui doit former ensuite les m[oe]urs publiques."--Madame De Stael.
_Essai sur les Fictions_.

             "Poca favilla gran flamma seconda:
              Forse diretro a me, con miglior voci
              Si pregherà, perchè Cirra risponda."
                                 Dante. _Paradiso_, Canto I.



                               VOL. XX.

                              AGINCOURT.



                               LONDON:
                      SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.
                       STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
                              MDCCCXLIX.



                              AGINCOURT.



                              A Romance.



                                  BY

                         G. P. R. JAMES, ESQ.



                          *   *   *   *   *



                               LONDON:
                      SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.
                       STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
                              MDCCCXLIX.



                              AGINCOURT.

                              *   *   *



                              CHAPTER I.

                           THE NIGHT RIDE.


The night was as black as ink; not a solitary twinkling star looked
out through that wide expanse of shadow, which our great Poet has
called the "blanket of the dark;" clouds covered the heaven; the moon
had not risen to tinge them even with grey, and the sun had too long
set to leave one faint streak of purple upon the edge of the western
sky. Trees, houses, villages, fields, and gardens, all lay in one
profound obscurity, and even the course of the high-road itself
required eyes well-accustomed to night-travelling to be able to
distinguish it, as it wandered on through a rich part of Hampshire,
amidst alternate woods and meadows. Yet at that murky hour, a
traveller on horseback rode forward upon his way, at an easy pace, and
with a light heart, if one might judge by the snatches of homely
ballads that broke from his lips as he trotted on. These might,
indeed, afford a fallacious indication of what was going on within the
breast, and in his case they did so; for habit is more our master than
we know, and often rules our external demeanour, whenever the spirit
is called to take council in the deep chambers within, showing upon
the surface, without any effort on our part to hide our thoughts, a
very different aspect from that of the mind's business at the moment.

Thus, then, the traveller who there rode along, saluting the ear of
night with scraps of old songs, sung in a low, but melodious voice,
was as thoughtful, if not as sad, as it was in his nature to be; but
yet, as that nature was a cheerful one and all his habits were gay, no
sooner were the eyes of the spirit called to the consideration of
deeper things, than custom exercised her sway over the animal part,
and he gave voice, as we have said, to the old ballads which had
cheered his boyhood and his youth.

Whatever were his contemplations, they were interrupted, just as he
came to a small stream which crossed the road and then wandered along
at its side, by first hearing the quick foot-falls of a horse
approaching, and then a loud, but fine voice, exclaiming, "Who goes
there?"

"A friend to all true men," replied the traveller; "a foe to all false
knaves. 'Merry sings the throstle under the thorn.' Which be you,
friend of the highway?"

"Faith, I hardly know," replied the stranger; "every man is a bit of
both, I believe. But if you can tell me my way to Winchester, I will
give you thanks."

"I want nothing more," answered the first traveller, drawing in his
rein. "But Winchester!--Good faith, that is a long way off; and you
are going from it, master:" and he endeavoured, as far as the darkness
would permit, to gain some knowledge of the stranger's appearance. It
seemed that of a young man of good proportions, tall and slim, but
with broad shoulders and long arms. He wore no cloak, and his dress
fitting tight to his body, as was the fashion of the day, allowed his
interlocutor to perceive the unencumbered outline of his figure.

"A long way off!" said the second traveller, as his new acquaintance
gazed at him; "that is very unlucky; but all my stars are under that
black cloud. What is to be done now, I wonder?"

"What do you want to do?" inquired the first traveller. "Winchester is
distant five and twenty miles or more."

"Odds life! I want to find somewhere to lodge me and my horse for a
night," replied the other, "at a less distance than twenty-five miles,
and yet not quite upon this very spot."

"Why not Andover?" asked his companion; "'tis but six miles, and I am
going thither."

"Humph!" said the stranger, in a tone not quite satisfied; "it must be
so, if better cannot be found; and yet, my friend, I would fain find
some other lodging. Is there no inn hard by, where carriers bait their
beasts and fill their bellies, and country-folks carouse on nights of
merry-making? or some old hall or goodly castle, where a truckle bed,
or one of straw, a nunchion of bread and cheese, and a draught of ale,
is not likely to be refused to a traveller with a good coat on his
back and long-toed shoes?"

"Oh, ay!" rejoined the first; "of the latter there are many round,
but, on my life, it will be difficult to direct you to them. The men
of this part have a fondness for crooked ways, and, unless you were
the Dædalus who made them, or had some fair dame to guide you by the
clue, you might wander about for as many hours as would take you to
Winchester."

"Then Andover it must be, I suppose," answered the other; "though, to
say sooth, I may there have to pay for a frolic, the score of which
might better be reckoned with other men than myself."

"A frolic!" said his companion; "nothing more, my friend?"

"No, on my life!" replied the other; "a scurvy frolic, such as only a
fool would commit; but when a man has nothing else to do, he is sure
to fall into folly, and I am idle perforce."

"Well, I'll believe you," answered the first, after a moment's
thought; "I have, thank Heaven, the gift of credulity, and believe all
that men tell me. Come, I will turn back with you, and guide you to a
place of rest, though I shall be well laughed at for my pains."

"Not for an act of generous courtesy, surely," said the stranger,
quitting the half-jesting tone in which he had hitherto spoken. "If
they laugh at you for that, I care not to lodge with them, and will
not put your kindness to the test, for I should look for a cold
reception."

"Nay, nay, 'tis not for that, they will laugh," rejoined the other,
"and perhaps it may jump with my humour to go back, too. If you have
committed a folly in a frolic to-night, I have committed one in anger.
Come with me, therefore, and, as we go, give me some name by which to
call you when we arrive, that I may not have to throw you into my
uncle's hall as a keeper with a dead deer; and, moreover, before we
go, give me your word that we have no frolics here, for I would not,
for much, that any one I brought, should move the old knight's heart
with aught but pleasure."

"There is my hand, good youth," replied the stranger, following, as
the other turned his horse; "and I never break my word, whatever men
say of me, though they tell strange tales. As for my name, people call
me Hal of Hadnock; it will do as well as another."

"For the nonce," added his companion, understanding well that it was
assumed; "but it matters not. Let us ride on, and the gate shall soon
be opened to you; for I do think they will be glad to see me back
again, though I may not perchance stay long.


             'The porter rose anon certaine
              As soon as he heard John call.'"


"You seem learned for a countryman," said the traveller, riding on by
his side; "but, perchance, I am speaking to a clerk?"

"Good faith, no," replied the first wayfarer; "more soldier than
clerk, Hal of Hadnock; as old Robert of Langland says, 'I cannot
perfectly my Paternoster, as the priest it singeth, but I can rhyme of
Robin Hode and Randof Earl of Chester.' I have cheered my boyhood with
many a song and my youth with many a ballad. When lying in the field
upon the marches of Wales, I have wiled away many a cold night with
the--


                   'Quens Mountfort, sa dure mort,'


or,


             'Richard of Alemaigne, while he was king,'


and then in the cold blasts of March, I ever found comfort in--


             'Summer is icumen in,
              Lhude sing cuccu,
              Groweth sede and bloweth mode,
              And springeth the wode nu.'"


"And good reason, too," said Hal of Hadnock; "I do the same, i'faith;
and when wintry winds are blowing, I think ever, that a warmer day may
come and all be bright again. Were it not for that, indeed, I might
well be cold-hearted."

"Fie, never flinch!" cried his gay companion; "there is but one thing
on earth should make a bold man coldhearted."

"And what may that be?" asked the other; "to lose his dinner?"

"No, good life!" exclaimed the first,--"to lose his lady's love."

"Ay, is it there the saddle galls?" said Hal of Hadnock.

"Faith, not a whit," answered his fellow-traveller; "if it did, I
should leave off singing. You are wrong in your guess, Master Hal. I
may lose my lady, but not my lady's love, or I am much mistaken; and
while that stays with me I will both sing and hope."

"'Tis the best comfort," replied Hal of Hadnock, "and generally brings
success. But what am I to call you, fair sir? for it mars one's speech
to have no name for a companion."

"Now, were not my uncle's house within three miles," said the other,
"I would pay you in your own coin, and bid you call me Dick of
Andover; for I am fond of secrets, and keep them faithfully, except
when they are likely to be found out; but such being the case now, you
must call me Richard of Woodville, if you would have my friends know
you mean a poor squire who has ever sought the places where hard blows
are plenty; but who missed his spurs at Bramham Moor by being sent by
his good friend Sir Thomas Rokeby to bear tidings of Northumberland's
incursion to the King. I would fain have staid and carried news of the
victory; but, good sooth, Sir Thomas said he could trust me to tell
the truth clearly as well as fight, and that, though he could trust
the others to fight, he could not find one who would not make the
matter either more or less to the King, than it really was. See what
bad luck it is to be a plain-spoken fellow."

"Good luck as well as bad," replied Hal of Hadnock; and in such
conversation they pursued their way, riding not quite so fast as
either had been doing when first they met, and slackening their pace
to a walk, when, about half a mile farther forward, they quitted the
high road and took to the narrow lanes of the country, which, as the
reader may easily conceive, were not quite as good for travelling in
those days, as even at present, when in truth they are often bad
enough. They soon issued forth, however, upon a more open track, where
the river again ran along by the roadside, sheltered here and there by
copses which occasionally rose from the very brink; and, just as they
regained it, the moon appearing over the low banks that fell crossing
each other over its course, poured, from beneath the fringe of heavy
clouds that canopied the sky above, her full pale light upon the whole
extent of the stream. There was something fine but melancholy in the
sight, grave and even grand; and though there were none of those large
objects which seem generally necessary to produce the sublime, there
was a feeling of vastness given by the broad expanse of shadow
overhead, and the long line of glistening brightness below, broken by
the thick black masses of brushwood that here and there bent over the
flat surface of the water.

"This is fine," said Hal of Hadnock; "I love such night scenes with
the solitary moon and the deep woods and the gleaming river--ay, even
the dark clouds themselves. They are to me like a king's fate, where
so many heavy things brood over him, so many black and impenetrable
things surround him, and where yet often a clear yet cold effulgence
pours upon his way, grander and calmer than the warmer and gayer beams
that fall upon the course of ordinary men."

His companion turned and gazed at him for a moment by the moonlight,
but made no observation, till the other continued, pointing with his
hand, "What is that drifting on the water? Surely 'tis a man's head!"

"An otter with a trout in his mouth, speeding to his hole," replied
Richard of Woodville; "he will not be long in sight.--See! he is gone.
All things fly from man. We have established our character for
butchery with the brute creation; and they wisely avoid the
slaughter-house of our presence."

"I thought it was something human, living or dead," replied Hal of
Hadnock. "Methinks it were a likely spot for a man to rid himself of
his enemy, and give the carrion to the waters; or for a love-lorn
damsel to bury griefs and memories beneath the sleepy shining of the
moonlight stream. The Leucadian promontory was an awful leap, and bold
as well as sad must have been the heart to take it; but here, timid
despair might creep quietly into the soft closing wave, and find a
more peaceful death-bed than the slow decay of a broken-heart."

"Sad thoughts, sir, sad thoughts," replied Richard of Woodville; "and
yet you seemed merry enough just now."

"Ay, the fit comes upon me as it will, comrade," replied the other;
"and, good faith, I strive not to prevent it. I amuse myself with my
own humours, standing, as it were, without myself, and looking inward
like a spectator at a tournay--now laughing at all I see, now ready to
weep; and yet for the world I would not stop the scene, were it in my
power to cast down my warder at the keenest point of strife, and say,
'Pause! no more!' Sometimes there lives not a merrier heart on this
side the sea, and sometimes not a sadder within the waters. At one
time I could laugh like a clown at a fair, and at others would make
ballads to the little stars, full of sad homilies."

"Not so, I," rejoined Richard of Woodville. "I strive for an equal
mind. I would fain be always light-hearted; and though, when I am
crossed, I may be hot and hasty, ready to strive with others or
myself, yet, in good truth, I soon learn to bear with all things, and
to endure the ills that fall to my portion, as lightly as may be.
Man's a beast of burden, and must carry his pack-saddle; so it is
better to do it quietly than to kick under the load. Out upon those
who go seeking for sorrows, a sort of commodity they may find at their
own door! One whines over man's ingratitude; another takes to heart
the scorn of the great; another broods over his merit neglected, and
his good deeds forgotten; but, were they wise, and did good without
thought of thanks--were they high of heart, and knew themselves as
great in their inmost soul as the greatest in the land--were they
bright in mind, and found pleasure in the mind's exercise--they would
both merit more and repine less, ay, and be surer of their due in the
end."

"By my life, you said you were no clerk, Richard of Woodville," cried
his companion, "and here you have preached me a sermon, fit to banish
moon-sick melancholy from the land. But say, good youth, is yonder
light looking out of your uncle's hall window--there, far on the other
side of the stream?"

"No, no," answered Woodville; "ride after it, and see how far it will
lead you. You will soon find yourself neck deep in the swamp. 'Tis a
Will-o'-the-wisp. My uncle's house lies on before, beyond the village
of Abbot's Ann, just a quarter of a mile from the Abbey; so, as the
one brother owns the hall, and the other rules the monastery, they can
aid and countenance each other, whether it be at a merrymaking or a
broil. Then, too, as the good Abbot is as meek as an ewe in a May
morning, and Sir Philip is as fiery as the sun in June, the one can
tame the other's wrath, or work up his courage, as the case may
be--but here we see the first houses, and lights in the window, too.
Why, how now! Dame Julien has not gone to bed--but, I forgot, there is
a glutton mass to-morrow, and, as the reeve's wife, she must be
cooking capons, truly. But, hark! there is a sound of a cithern, and
some one singing. Good faith, they are making merry by their fireside,
though curfew has tolled long since. Well, Heaven send all good men a
cheerful evening, and a happy hearth! Perhaps they have some poor
minstrel within, and are keeping up his heart with kindness; for
Julien is a bountiful dame, and the reeve, though somewhat hard upon
the young knaves, is no way pinched when there is a sad face at his
door. Well, fair sir, we shall soon be home. A pleasant place is home;
ay, it is a pleasant place, and, when far away, we think of it always.
God help the man who has no home! and let all good Christians befriend
him, for he has need."

Although Hal of Hadnock made no farther observations upon his
companion's mood and character, there was something therein that
struck and pleased him greatly; and he was no mean judge of his
fellow-men, for he had mingled with many of every class and degree.
Quick and ready in discovering, by small traits, the secrets of that
complicated mystery, the human heart, he saw, even in the love of
music and poetry, in a man habituated to camps and fields of battle, a
higher and finer mind than the common society of the day afforded; for
it must not be thought, that either in the knight or the knight's son,
of our old friend Chaucer, the poet gave an accurate picture of the
gentry of the age. That there were such is not to be doubted--but they
were few; and the generality of the nobles and gentlemen of those
times were sadly illiterate and rude. The occasional words Richard of
Woodville let drop, too, regarding his own scheme of home philosophy,
showed, his companion thought, a strength and rigour of character
which might be serviceable to others as well as himself, in any good
and honourable cause; and Hal of Hadnock, as they rode on, said to
himself, "I will see more of this man."

After passing through the little village, and issuing out again into
the open country, they saw, by the light of the moon, now rising
higher, and dispersing the clouds as she advanced, a high isolated
hill standing out, detached from all the woods and scattered
hedge-rows round. At a little distance from its base, upon the left,
appeared the tall pinnacles and tower of an abbey and a church,
cutting dark against the lustrous sky behind; and, partly hidden by
the trees on the right, partly rising above them, were seen the bold
lines of another building, in a sterner style of architecture.

"That is your uncle's dwelling, I suppose?" said Hal of Hadnock,
pointing on with his hand. "Shall we find any one up? It is hard upon
ten o'clock."

"Oh, no fear," replied Richard of Woodville. "Good Sir Philip
Beauchamp sits late in the hall. He will not take his white head to
the pillow for an hour or two; and the ladies like well to keep him
company. Here, to the left, is a shorter way through the wood; but
look to your horse's footing, for the woodmen were busy this morning,
and may have left branches about."

In less than five minutes more they were before the embattled gates of
one of those old English dwellings, half castle, half house, which
denoted the owner to be a man of station and consideration--just a
step below, in fortune or rank, those mighty barons who sheltered
themselves from the storms of a factious and lawless epoch, in
fortresses filled with an army of retainers and dependants. As they
approached, Richard of Woodville raised his voice and called aloud,

"Tim Morris! Tim Morris!" He waited a moment, singing to himself the
two verses he had repeated before--


            "'The porter rose again certaine
              As soon as he heard John call;'"


and then added, "But it will be different now, I fancy; for honest Tim
is as deaf as a miller, and his boy is sound asleep, I suspect. Tim
Morris, I say!--He will keep us here all night:--Tim Morris!--How now,
old sluggard!" he continued, as the ancient porter rolled back the
gate; "were you snoring in your wicker-chair, that you make us dance
attendance, as you do the country folk of a Monday morning?"

"'Tis fit they should learn to dance the Morris dance, as they call
it, Master Dick," answered the porter, laughing, and holding up his
lantern. "God yield ye, sir! I thought you were gone for the night,
and I was stripping off my jerkin."

"Is Simeon of Roydon gone, then?" asked Woodville.

"Nay, sir, he stays all night," answered the porter. "Here, boy! here,
knave! turn thee out, and run across the court to take the horses."

A sleepy boy, with senses yet but half awake, crept out from the door,
and followed Richard of Woodville and his companion, as they rode
across the small space that separated the gate from the Hall itself.
There, at a flight of steps, leading to a portal which might well
have served a church, they dismounted; and, advancing before his
fellow-traveller, Richard of Woodville raised the heavy bar of
hammered iron, which served for a latch, and entered the hall, singing
aloud--


                   "'As I rode on a Monday,
                     Between Wettenden and Wall,
                     All along the broad way,
                     I met a little man withal.'"


As he spoke he pushed back the door for Hal of Hadnock to enter, and a
scene was presented to his companion's sight which deserves rather to
begin than end a chapter.



                             CHAPTER II.

                      THE HALL AND ITS DENIZENS.


The hall of the old house at Dunbury--long swept away by the two great
destroyers of man's works, Time and Change--was a spacious vaulted
chamber, of about sixty feet in its entire length, by from thirty-five
to forty in width; but, at the end next the court, a part of the
pavement, of about nine feet broad, and some eighteen or twenty inches
lower than the rest, was separated from the hall by two broad steps
running all the way across. This inferior space presented three doors;
the great one communicating at once with the court, and two others in
the angles, at the right side and the left, leading to chambers in the
rest of the building. At the further end of the hall, on the left, was
another small door, opposite to which there appeared the first four
steps of a staircase, which wound away with a turn to apartments
above. There was a high window over the principal entrance, from which
the room received, in the daytime, its only light; and about half way
up the chamber, on the left hand, was the wide chimney and hearth,
with seats on either side, and two vast bars of iron between them for
burning wood. In the midst of the pavement stood a long table, with
some benches, one or two stools and a great chair, in which the master
of the mansion seated himself at the time of meals; but the hall
presented no other ornament whatever, except a number of lances, bows,
cross-bows, axes, maces, and other offensive arms, which were ranged
with some taste against the walls. The armoury was in another part of
the house, and these weapons seemed only admitted here to be ready in
case of immediate need; for those were times in which men did not
always know how soon the hand might be called upon to defend the head.

When Richard of Woodville and his companion entered, some six or seven
large logs, I might almost call them trees, were blazing on the
hearth; and, in addition to the glare they afforded, a sconce of seven
burners above the chimney shed a full light upon the party assembled
round the fire. That party was very numerous, for several maids and
retainers, of whom it may not be necessary to speak more particularly,
were scattered round the principal personages, busy with such
occupations for the evening as were common in a rude age, when
intellectual pursuits were very little cultivated.

The group in front, however, deserves more attention, consisting of
seven persons, most of whom we shall have to speak of more than once
in the course of these pages. In the seat within the chimney, just
opposite the door, sat the master of the mansion, a tall powerful old
man, who had seen many a battle-field in his day, during that and the
preceding reign, and had borne away the marks of hard blows upon his
face. He was spare and large boned in form, with his hair and beard[1]
very nearly white; but he was hale and florid withal, and his
countenance, though strongly marked, had an expression of kindness and
good humour, not at all incompatible with the indications of a quick
and fiery temper, which were to be discovered in the sparkle of his
undimmed blue eye, and the sudden contraction of his brow when
anything surprised him. The seat on the other side of the fire was not
visible from the door by which the two wayfarers entered; but beyond
the angle of the chimney, protruded into the light, the arm, shoulder,
and part of the head of another tall old man, apparently clothed in
the grey gown of some monastic order.


---------------------

[Footnote 1: The beard was, at this time, usually shaved off by the
English nobles; but many of the older barons still retained it, and I
find the mustachio very frequently in contemporaneous representations
of younger knights.]

---------------------


On the left of Sir Philip Beauchamp was seated a young lady, perhaps
eighteen or nineteen years of age, with her arm resting on his knee,
and her head and figure bent gracefully towards him. Her hair was as
black as jet, her skin soft and clear, and her complexion somewhat
pale, though a slight tinge of the rose might be seen upon her cheek.
Her eyes, like her father's, were of a deep clear blue, though the
long black fringes that bordered her eyelids in a long sweeping line,
made them, at a distance, look as dark as her hair. She seemed neither
above nor below the ordinary height of woman; and her whole figure,
though by no means thin, was slim and delicate. The small exquisite
foot and rounded ancle inclining gracefully towards the fire, were
displayed by the posture in which she had placed herself; and the hand
that rested on her father's knee, with long fingers tapering to the
point, showed in every line the high Norman blood of her race.

Next to Isabel Beauchamp, the only daughter of the old knight, was
another lady, perhaps a year younger. She was in several respects
strikingly contrasted to her fair companion, though hardly less
beautiful. Her hair was of a light glossy brown, catching a warm gleam
wherever the light fell upon it, as fine as silk new spun from the
cone, yet curling in large bunches wherever it could escape from the
bands that confined it. Her complexion was fair and glowing; her cheek
warm with health, and her skin as soft and smooth as that of a child.
To look upon her at a little distance, one would have expected to find
the merry grey or blue eye, so often seen in the pretty village maid;
but hers was dark brown, large, and full, and soft, yet with a
laughing light therein, that seemed to speak a buoyant and a happy
heart. In form she was somewhat taller than the other; but though her
waist looked as if it would have required no giant's hand to span it
round, yet there was that sort of full and graceful sweep in all the
lines, which painters and statuaries, I believe, call _contour_.
Nought but the tip of one foot was seen from beneath the long and
flowing petticoat then in fashion; but even from that, one might judge
that nothing much more neat and small ever beat the turf, except
amongst the elves of fairy land. Her hand rested upon a frame of
embroidery, at which she had been working, and her head was slightly
bent forward, as if to hear something said by the good Abbot of the
convent, who sat opposite to his brother, in the seat within the
chimney. But between her and him was another group, consisting of
three persons, which somewhat detached itself from the rest. Two were
seated, a lady and a gentleman, and the third was standing with his
arms folded on his chest a little behind the others.

The backs of these three were turned towards the door by which
Woodville and his companions entered; and they were somewhat in the
shade, being placed between the lower end of the hall and the light
both of the fire and the sconce; but as we are now looking at the
picture of the whole, we may as well examine the details before we
proceed.

The lady bore a striking resemblance in features, complexion, and
form, to Isabel Beauchamp, whom we have already described; and the
Lady Catherine might well be taken, as was often the case, for her
cousin's sister. She was taller, indeed, though not much; but the
chief difference was in the expression of the two countenances.
Catherine's wanted all the gentleness, the tenderness, the
thoughtfulness, of Isabel's. It could assume a look of playful
coquetry, it could seem grave, it could seem joyous; but with each
expression there mingled a touch of pride, perhaps, too, of vanity;
and a scornful turn of the lip and well-chiseled nostril, as well as a
quick flash of the eye, spoke the rash and haughty spirit which too
certainly dwelt within her breast.

We are the slaves of circumstances from our cradle; and the mother and
the nurse form as much part of our fate as any of the other events
which mould our character, guide our course, and lead us to high
station, retain us in mediocrity, or plunge us into misfortune.
Catherine Beauchamp, like her cousin, was an only child, and an
heiress; but her mother had brought large possessions to her father,
and with those large possessions an inexhaustible store of pride. She
had looked upon herself, indeed, as her husband's benefactor, for he
was a younger brother, of small estate; and, after his death, she and
a foolish servant had rivalled each other in instilling into her
daughter's mind high notions of her own importance. In this, as in
many another thing, the mother had proved herself weak; and the spoilt
child had early shown her the result of her own folly. She did not
live long enough to correct her error, even if she had possessed sense
enough to make the effort; and when Catherine came to the house of her
uncle, as his ward, her character was too far fixed to render any
lessons effectual, but the severe ones of the world. There, then, she
sat, beautiful, rich, vain, and haughty, claiming all admiration as
her due, and believing that even her faults ought to be admired for
her loveliness and her wealth.

Beside her was placed her mother's nearest relation, a distant cousin,
named Simeon of Roydon. He was a tall, robust, well-proportioned man,
of two or three and thirty years of age, with a quantity of light hair
close cut in front, and left long upon the back of the head and over
the temples. His features were in general good; and what with youth
and health, a florid complexion, fair skin, bright keen eyes, an
aquiline nose, somewhat too much depressed, and an air of calm
self-importance and courtly ease, he was the sort of man so often
called handsome by those who little consider or know in what
beauty really consists. Nothing, indeed, that dress could do, was
left undone, according to the fashions of the day, to set off his
person to the best of advantage. His long limbs were clothed in the
light-coloured breeches and hose, without division from the waist to
the foot, which were then generally worn by men of the higher class;
but so tightly did they fit, that scarce a muscle of the leg might not
be traced beneath; and his coat was also cut so close to his shape,
that except on the chest, where, perhaps, some padding added to the
appearance of breadth, the garment seemed to be but an outer skin. His
shoes exhibited points of at least six inches in length beyond the
toe; and the sleeves of his mantle, which he continued to wear even in
the hall, hung down till they swept the floor. He wore a dagger in his
girdle with a jewelled hilt, and a clasp upon his coat with a ruby set
in gold; while on his thumb appeared a large signet-ring of a very
peculiar fashion and device.

Notwithstanding dress, however, and good features, and a countenance
under perfect command, there were certain minute, but very distinct
signs, to be perceived by an eye practised in the study of the human
character, which betrayed the fact, that his smooth exterior was but a
shell containing a less pleasant core. There was a wandering of the
eyes, which did not always seem to move in the same orbits; there was
an occasional quiver of the lower lip, as if words which might be
dangerous were restrained with difficulty; there was a look of keen,
eager, almost fierce, inquiry, when anything was said, the meaning of
which he did not at once comprehend; and then a sudden return to a
bland and sweet expression almost of insipidity, which spoke of
something false and hollow. He was talking to Catherine Beauchamp,
when Richard of Woodville and Hal of Hadnock entered, in gay tones,
often mingling a low laugh with his conversation, and eying his own
foot and leg as it was stretched out towards the fire, with an air of
great self-admiration and satisfaction.

The figure of the third person, who stood close behind the lady--as if
he had come round thither and left vacant a stool which appeared on
the other side, to take part in her conversation with Sir Simeon of
Roydon--was as tall and finer in all its proportions than that of the
knight who sat by her side. His chest was broader; his arms more
muscular; the turn of his head, and the fall of his shoulders, more
graceful and symmetrical. His dark hair curled short round his
forehead, and on his neck; his straight-cut features, of a grave and
somewhat stern cast, wore their least pleasing look when in repose;
for they wanted but the fire of expression to light them up in a
moment, and render them all bright and glowing. His eye, however, the
feature which soonest receives that light, had in it a fixed
melancholy, which scarcely even left it when he smiled; and now,
though he had come round thither to interchange a few words with
Catherine, his betrothed wife, and her gay kinsman, Sir Henry Dacre
had fallen into thought again, and remained standing with his arms
folded on his chest, and his look fixed upon Isabel Beauchamp, as she
leaned upon her father's knee. His gaze was intense, thoughtful--I
might call it inquiring; but yet it was not rude, for he knew not that
his eyes were so firmly fixed upon her. He was buried in his own
thoughts; and perhaps the peculiar investigating expression of that
look might be accounted for by supposing that he was asking questions,
difficult to solve, of his own heart.

Isabel herself did not remark that he was gazing at her, for she was
listening to some anecdote of other days which her father was telling.
But the old knight did observe the glance of his young friend, and he
observed it with pain, yet "more in sorrow than in anger;" for there
were some things for which he bitterly grieved, but which could not be
amended. He broke off his story for a moment to mutter to himself,
"Poor fellow!" and just at that instant his eye lighted upon Richard
of Woodville, as the young traveller opened the great door of the
hall. His brow contracted while perhaps one might count ten, but was
speedily clear again, and he exclaimed, laughing aloud--"Ha! here is
Dickon again! I thought he would not go far."

Every one turned round suddenly; and all laughed gaily, except one.
But the fair girl with the rich brown hair, sitting next to Isabel
Beauchamp, gazed down the hall, with a smile indeed, but with a kindly
look gleaming forth through her half-closed, merry eyes.

"Ah, run-away!" cried Isabel Beauchamp, still laughing; "so you have
come back?"

"Yes, sweet cousin," replied Richard of Woodville, advancing up the
hall with his companion; "but I have a cause--I should have been half
way to Winchester else.--Here is a gentleman, sir," he continued,
addressing his uncle, "whom I have met seeking the right way, and
finding the wrong; and I failed not in promising him your hospitality
for the night."

"Right, Richard--you did right!" replied the old knight, raising his
tall form from the seat by the fire. "Sir, you are most welcome.
Quick, Hugh of Clatford, leave cutting that bow, and speed to the
buttery and the kitchen. Bid them bring wine and meat. I pray you,
sir, take the seat by the fire."

"Nay, not so, noble sir," replied Hal of Hadnock, in a courteous tone.
"I am not one to take the place of venerable years and high renown.
Thanks for your welcome, and good fortune to your roof-tree. I beseech
you, let me make no confusion. I will place me here;" and he drew a
stool from the table somewhat nearer to the fire, and seated himself,
while all eyes were fixed upon him.

Richard of Woodville, too, took a better view of his companion than he
had hitherto obtained, and that view satisfied him that he had not
introduced to his uncle's hall a guest, who, in point of rank and
station, at least, was not well deserving of a place therein.

The stranger was, as I have already said, a tall and somewhat slim
young man, perhaps four or five and twenty years of age, with black
hair and close-shaved beard, keen dark eyes, long and sinewy limbs,
and a chest of great width and depth. His features were remarkably
fine, his brow wide and expansive, his forehead high, and the whole
expression of his countenance noble and commanding. His dress was rich
and costly, without being gaudy. His coat of deep brown, covering the
hips, like that of a crossbowman, was of the finest cloth, and
ornamented with small lines of gold, in a quaint but not ungraceful
pattern. Instead of the hood then commonly worn, his head was covered
with a small cap of velvet, and one long pennache, or feather, clasped
with a large jewel; his dagger and the hilt of his sword were both
studded with rubies, and though his riding-boots of untanned leather
were cut square off at the toe, instead of being encumbered with the
long points still in fashion, over them were buckled, with a broad
strap and flap, a pair of gilt spurs, showing that he had seen service
in arms, and had won knightly rank. His tight-fitting hose were of a
light philimot, or brownish yellow colour, and round the leg, below
the knee, was a mark, as if the impression of a thong, seeming to
prove that when not in riding attire, he was accustomed to wear shoes
so long, that the horns points were obliged to be fastened up by a
gilt chain, as was then not unusual. His manner was highly courteous;
but it was remarked, that at first he committed what has, in most
ages, been considered an act of rudeness, remaining with his head
covered some minutes after he entered the hall. But, at length,
seeming suddenly to remember that such was the case, he took off his
cap, and laid it on the table.

Sir Philip Beauchamp, without asking any question of his guest,
proceeded at once to name to him the different persons assembled round
the fire; but as we have already heard who they were, it is needless
to give a recapitulation here. Richard of Woodville, however, marked
or fancied, that as the old knight pronounced the name of Sir Simeon
of Roydon, a brief glance of recognition passed between that personage
and his companion of the road; but neither claimed the other as an
acquaintance, and Woodville said nothing to call attention to what he
had observed.

"It will seem scarcely courteous, sir," said the guest, as Sir Philip
ended, "not to give you my own name, though you in your hospitality
will not ask it; but yet, for the present, I will beg you to call me
simply Hal of Hadnock; and ere I go, Sir Philip, to your own ear I
will tell more. And now, pray let me not kill mirth, or break off a
pleasant tale, or stop a sweet lay; for doubtless you pass the long
eves of March as did the knights and dames in our old friend Chaucer's
dreams--


             'Some to rede old romances,
              Them occupied for ther pleasances,
              Some to make verèlaies and laies,
              And some to other diverse plaies.'"


"Nay, sir," answered the old knight, who had glanced with a smile at
his guest's gilded spurs, as he gave himself the name of Hal of
Hadnock, "we were but talking of some old deeds of arms, which,
doubtless, you in your career have often heard of. As to lays, when my
nephew Richard is away, we have but little poesy in the house, except
when this sweet ward of mine, Mary Markham, will sing us a gay ditty."

"Not to-night--not to-night!" cried the lady on Isabel Beauchamp's
left; "I am not in tune to-night."

Isabel bent her head to her fair companion, and whispered a word which
made the blood come warm into Mary Markham's cheek; but Catherine,
with a gay toss of her head, and a glance of her blue eye at the
handsome stranger, exclaimed--"I love neither lay nor ballad; they are
but plain English twisted out of form, and set to a dull tune."

"Indeed, lady!" said the stranger, gazing upon her with an incredulous
smile. "I have ever thought that music and verse made sweet things
sweeter; and, methinks, even now, were it some tender lay addressed to
your bright looks, you would not find the sounds so rude."

A smile passed round the little circle, but did not visit the lip of
Sir Henry Dacre; and though Catherine Beauchamp laughed with a
scornful smile, it seemed as if she knew not well whether to look upon
the stranger's words as kind or uncourteous.

"Ha, Kate! he touched you there," said the old knight. "What think
you, Abbot? has not our guest judged our niece aright?"

"I believe it is so with all ladies," answered the Abbot, gravely;
"they find the words of praise sweet, and the words of blame bitter,
whether it be in song or saying. You men of the world nurture them in
such folly. You flatter them too much; so that, like the tongue of a
wine-bibber, they can taste nothing but what is high-seasoned."

"Faith, not a whit, reverend lord," cried Hal of Hadnock, gaily;
"craving your forgiveness, we deal with them as heaven intended. Fair
and delicate in mind and frame, we shelter their persons from all
rough winds and storms, as far as may be, and their ears from all
harsh sounds. They were not made to cope with the rough things of
life; and if they find wholesome exercise for body and soul, good
father, in the chase and in the confessional, it is as much as is
needed. The Church has the staple trade for truth, especially with
ladies; and for any laymen to make it their merchandise would be
against the laws of Cupid's realm."

"I fear you speak lightly, my son," said the Abbot, with a
good-humoured smile; "but here comes your meal, and I will give it my
blessing."

By such words as these, the ice of new acquaintance was soon broken,
and, as the guest sat down at the side of the long table, to partake
of such viands as his entertainer's hospitality provided for him, the
party round the fire separated into various groups. The good master of
the mansion approached to do the honours of his board, and press the
stranger to his food. Catherine seemed smitten with a sudden fit of
affection for her uncle, and placed herself near him, where, with no
small spice of coquetry, she sought to engage the attention of the
visitor to herself. Sir Henry Dacre remained talking by the fire with
Isabel Beauchamp; and, whatever was the subject of their discourse,
the faces of both remained grave, almost sad; while, at a little
distance, Richard of Woodville conversed in low tones with fair Mary
Markham, and their faces presented the aspect of an April sky, with
its clouds and its sunshine, being sometimes overshadowed by a look of
care and anxiety, sometimes smiling gaily, as if the inextinguishable
hopes of youth blazed suddenly up into a flame, after burning low and
dimly for a while, under some cold blast from the outward world.

The Abbot had resumed his seat by the fire, and Sir Simeon of Roydon
had not quitted his; but the latter, though the good monk spoke to him
from time to time, seemed buried in his own thoughts, answered
briefly, and often vaguely, and then fell into a reverie again,
turning occasionally his eyes upon his fair kinswoman and the stranger
with an expression of no great pleasure.

With the old knight and Catherine Beauchamp, in the meanwhile, Hal of
Hadnock kept up the conversation gaily, seeming to find a pleasure in
so mingling sweet and bitter things together, in his language to the
lady, as sometimes to flatter, sometimes to pique her; and thus,
without her knowing it, he contrived to put her through all her paces,
like a managed horse, till every little weakness and fault in her
character was displayed, one after another.

At first, Sir Philip Beauchamp was amused, and laughed at the
stranger's merry jests, thinking, "It will do Kate good to hear some
wholesome truth from an impartial tongue;" but as he saw that, whether
intentionally or not, the words of Hal of Hadnock had the effect of
bringing out all the evil points in her disposition to the eyes of his
guest, he grew uneasy for his brother's child, and felt all her faults
more keenly from seeing her thus expose them, in mere vanity, to the
acquaintance of an hour. He saw, then, with satisfaction, his guest's
meal draw towards a close, and, as soon as it was done, proposed that
they should all retire to rest.

There was some consideration required as to what chamber should be
assigned to Hal of Hadnock,--for small pieces of ceremony were, in
those days, matters of importance,--but Sir Philip Beauchamp decided
the matter, by telling Richard of Woodville to lead the visitor to the
rose-tapestry room, and to place a good yeoman to sleep across his
door. It was one of the principal guest-chambers of the house;
and its selection showed that the good knight judged his nephew's
fellow-traveller to be of higher rank than he assumed.

Lighted by a page, Richard of Woodville led the way, and entered with
his companion, when they reached the apartment to which they had been
directed. Although it was now late, he remained there more than an
hour, in conversation deeply interesting to himself, at least.



                             CHAPTER III.

                         THE FOREGONE EVENTS.


"Come, Richard of Woodville," said his companion, as soon as they
entered the chamber of the rose-tapestry, "let us be friends. You have
served me at my need; and I would fain serve you; but I must first
know how."

"Faith, sir, that is not easy," answered Woodville, "for I do not know
how myself."

"Well, then, I must think for you, Richard," rejoined Hal of Hadnock;
"what stays your marriage?"

Woodville gazed at him with some surprise, and then smiled. "My
marriage!--with whom?" he asked.

"Nay, nay," answered his new friend, "waste not time with idle
concealments. I am a man who uses his eyes; and I can tell you,
methinks, all about every one in the hall we have just left."

"Well, stay yet a moment, till we can be alone," replied Woodville;
"they will soon bring you a livery of wine and manchet bread."

"In pity stop them," cried Hal of Hadnock; "I have supped so late that
I can take no more." But, as he was speaking, a servant entered with a
cup of hot wine, and a small roll of fine bread upon a silver plate.
As bound in courtesy, the guest broke off a piece of the manchet, and
put the cup to his lips; but it was a mere ceremony, for he did not
drink; and the man, taking away the rest of the wine and bread,
quitted the room.

"Now, Richard, you shall see if I be right," continued Hal of Hadnock.
"There is one pretty maid, called Mary Markham, or I heard not your
uncle right, whose cheek sometimes changes from the soft hue of the
rose's outer leaves, to the deep crimson of its blushing breast, when
a certain Richard of Woodville is near; and there is one good youth,
called Richard of Woodville, who can whisper sweet words in Mary
Markham's ear, while his uncle holds converse with a new guest at a
distance."

Woodville laughed, and made no answer; and his companion went on.

"Well, then, there is a fair Lady Catherine, beautiful and witty, but
somewhat shrewish withal, and holding her own merits as most rare
jewels, too good to be bestowed on ordinary men; who would have a
lover, like a bird in a cage, piping all day to her perfections, and
would think him well paid if she gave him but one of the smiles or
looks whereof she is bountiful to those who love her not: and,
moreover, there is one Sir Harry Dacre, a noble knight and true--for I
have heard his name ere now--whom I should fancy to be her husband,
were it not that----"

"Why should you think them so nearly allied?" asked Woodville.

"Because she gave him neither word nor look," replied Hal of Hadnock.
"Is not that proof enough with such a dame?"

"You have read them but too rightly," rejoined Richard of Woodville,
with a sigh. "He is not, indeed, her husband, but as near it as may
be--betrothed in infancy; a curse upon such doings, that bind together
in the bud two flowers that but destroy each other's blossoms as they
grow. They are to be wedded fully when she sees twenty years; and poor
Dacre, as noble and as true a heart as e'er was known, looks sternly
forward to that day, as a prisoner does to the hour of execution; for
she has taught him too early, and too well, all those secrets of her
bosom which a wiser woman would have hidden."

"He does not love her, that is clear," answered his companion, in a
graver tone than he had hitherto used. "Did he never love her?"

"No, not with manly love," replied Richard of Woodville. "I remember
well, when we were both boys together, and she as lovely a girl as
ever was seen, he used to be proud then of her beauty, and call her
his fair young wife. But even then she began the lessons, of which she
has given him such a course, that never pale student at Oxford was
better indoctrinated in Aristotle, than he is in her heart. Even in
those early days she would jeer and scoff at him, and if he showed her
any little tenderness, would straightway strive to make him angry;
would pretend great fondness for some other--for me--for any one who
happened to be near; would give his gifts away; admire whatever was
not like him. Oh, then fair hair was her delight, blue eyes were
beautiful. She hated him, I do believe, because she was tied to him,
and that was the only bond upon her own capricious will; so that she
resolved to use him as a boy does a poor bird tied to him by a string,
pulling it hither and thither till its little heart beats unto
bursting with such cruel tyranny! Had she begun less early, indeed,
her power of grieving him would have been greater, for he was well
inclined to let affection take duty's hand, and love her if he could.
But she herself soon ended that source of torture. She may now play
the charmer with whom she will, she cannot wring his heart with
jealousy."

"He does not love her, that is clear," repeated Hal of Hadnock, in a
still graver tone, "but he may love another."

"Ha!" exclaimed Woodville; "whom think you, sir?"

"Nay," replied his companion, after a pause, "it is not for me, my
good friend, to sow suspicious doubts or fears, where I find them not.
I do believe Sir Harry Dacre will do all that is right and noble; and
I did but mean to say, that his poor heart may know greater tortures
than you dream of, if, tied as he is by the act of others, to a woman
who will not suffer him to love her, he has met, or should hereafter
meet, with one on whom all his best affections can be placed. I say
not that he has,--I only say, such a thing may be."

Richard of Woodville gazed down upon the rushes on the floor for
several moments with a thoughtful look. "I know of whom you would
speak," he said at length; "but I think, in this, you have deceived
yourself, sharp as your observation has been. Isabel has been the
companion of both from youth; and to her, in early days, Dacre would
go for consolation and kindness, when worn out by this cold, vain
lady's caprice and perverseness. She pitied him, and soothed; and
often have I heard her try to soften Catherine's conduct, making it
seem youthful folly and high spirits; and trying to take the venom
from the wound. He looks upon Isabel as a sister--nothing more--I
think."

Hal of Hadnock shook his head; and then suddenly turned to another
subject. "Well," he said, "you will not deny that I am right in some
things, and, therefore, as I am in your secret, whether you will or
not, now answer me my question--What stays your marriage?"

"Good sooth, I cannot tell," replied Richard of Woodville; "the truth
is, this dear lovely girl came here some years gone, none knew from
whence; but it was my uncle brought her, and ever since he has treated
her as a daughter. All have loved her, and I more than all; but day
after day went by in sports and pleasures; and, in a full career of
happiness, I did not think till yesterday of risking the present by
striving to brighten the future. Last evening, however, I said some
plainer words than usual. What she replied matters not; but I saw
that, afterwards, she was not so gay as usual; and to-day I took a
moment, when I thought good Sir Philip was in a yielding mood, and
asked the hand of his dear ward--or daughter; for I must not hide from
you that men have suspicions, there is blood of the Beauchamps in this
same lady's veins. He gave me a rough answer, however; told me not to
think of her, and would assign no reason why. I will not say we
quarrelled, for I love him too much, and reverence him too much for
that; but I said in haste, that if I were not to think of her, I would
stay no longer where suing only bred regret; and that I would seek
honour, if I could not find a bride. He answered it was the best thing
I could do; and so, without more thought than to feed my horse, and
bid them all farewell, I put foot in stirrup for my own place hard by
West Meon, with the intent of seeking service in some foreign land, as
the wars here have come to an end. My good uncle only laughed at me,
and told them, as I mounted in the court, that Dickon was out of
humour, but would soon find his good spirits again. I did not do so
for a long way, however; but, as I went well sure of my lady's grace,
I began to take heart after a-while, and resolved that she should hear
of me from other shores, till I could claim her, and no one say me
nay."

"It was a good resolve," answered his companion; "for in such a case I
know not what else could be done. But whither did you intend to bend
your steps--to France?"

"Nay, not to France," said Woodville; "I love not the Frenchmen. If
our good king, indeed, were again to draw the sword for the recovery
of all that sluggish men and evil times have lost of our rightful
lands since the Black Prince's death, right willingly would I follow
thither to fight against the French, but not serve with them."

"But his royal thoughts are turned to other things," replied Hal of
Hadnock; "he still holds the mind, I hear, to take the cross, and
couch a lance for the sepulchre."

"That is gone by, I am told," answered Richard of Woodville; "this
frequent sickness that attacks him has made him think of other things,
men say; but, doubtless, you know better than I do?"

"Nay, I know nought about it," said his fellow traveller; "but it is
predicted that he shall die at Jerusalem."

"Heaven send it," exclaimed Woodville; "for if he live till then, his
will be a long reign, methinks."

"Amen!" rejoined the other; "but whither thought you, then, to go?"

"Perchance to the court of Burgundy," replied Richard; "or to some of
those Italian states, where there are ever hard blows to be found, and
honour to be gained by doughty deeds."

"That famous land of Italy is somewhat far from our poor northern
isle," answered Hal of Hadnock; "especially for a lover. Methinks
Burgundy were best; but, doubtless, since you have come back again,
your resolution has been left on the road behind us."

"No, not a whit," cried Woodville; "what I judged best in haste some
hours ago, I now judge best at leisure. I have told Mary that I go for
her sweet sake, to make me a high name, and with Heaven's blessing I
will do it."

"Well, then," answered his new friend, "if such be your determination,
I know some noble gentlemen in the court of that same Duke of
Burgundy, who may aid your advancement for Hal of Hadnock's sake."

Richard of Woodville smiled, replying, "Doubtless, you do, fair sir;
but may I tell them you sent me to them?"

"If you will but wait a day or two," said the other, "I will write
them a letter, which you shall take yourself; and you will find that I
have bespoke you kind entertainment."

"Thanks, noble sir--many hearty thanks," rejoined the old knight's
nephew; "wait for a time I must, for I will not go solitary and
unprepared. I must have horses, and men, and arms of the new fashion.
I must also sell some acres of new copse, and some tons of old wine,
to equip me for my own journey."

"Well, then, ere you go, you shall hear more from me," replied Hal of
Hadnock; "and now, good Richard, let us talk more of the folks in the
hall. I would fain hear farther. This Sir Harry Dacre, his face
pleases me; there is thought and a high heart therein, or I read not
nature's book aright. Methinks, if he were wise, he too would seek
renown in arms, instead of dangling at a lady's side that loves him
not. Perchance, if he were to seem to cast her by as worthless, and
fix on honour for a mistress, her love--for who can tell all the wild
whimsies of a capricious woman's heart?--would follow him."

"He might think that worse than the other," said Woodville; "I do not
think he seeks her love."

"There he is wrong," answered his companion; "for it is against all
rule of philosophy, when we are bound by a chain we cannot break, to
let it rust and canker in our flesh. It is as well to polish it with
any soft thing we can find; and, granted that she has lost his love,
'twere well he should have hers, if she is to be his wife."

"Perhaps he may long to break the chain," replied Richard, drily;
"were both to seek it, such contracts have been annulled by law, and
by the Church, ere now; and the Pope, or at least his cardinals, are
not always stubborn against gold and reason. But I doubt she will
consent," he added; "she loves a captive, and if she sees he seeks his
freedom, she will resist of course."

"A most sweet temper," observed Hal of Hadnock; "yet it is to be
thought of; and if I can help him, I will. Tomorrow early, indeed, I
thought to speed me back to Westminster; but I will stay an hour or
two, and see if I cannot play with a capricious lady, with art equal
to her own. At all events, I shall learn more of what are her
designs."

"Designs! she has none!" exclaimed Richard of Woodville, "but to reign
and triumph for the hour. Here has been Simeon of Roydon, doing her
homage for these three days, as if she were the Queen of Love; and she
has smiled upon him, for she still fancies she can so give Dacre pain;
but no sooner did you come, than she turned all the archery of her
eyes on you."

"Yet left a blank target," replied Hal of Hadnock. "But of this Sir
Simeon of Roydon I would have honest men beware, my good friend. I
know something of him."

"And he of you," answered Woodville.

"Ay?" asked his companion, "what makes you fancy so?"

"Why I too am one of those who use their eyes, fair sir," said
Woodville.

"And not their tongues, good friend," rejoined the other. "Well, you
are wise. But tell me, did not Sir Harry Dacre go with the Duke of
Clarence into France?"

"Yes, it was there he gained his spurs last year," answered Richard;
"he fought well, too, at Bramham Moor; and earlier still, when a mere
boy, against the Scots, when they last broke in:--


             'Muche hath Scotland forlore,
              What at last, what before,
              And little pries wonne.'"


"I thought I had heard of him," replied Hal of Hadnock. "However, if
you hold your mind to go to-morrow, we will ride together, and can
talk further of these matters by the way; so, for the present, good
night, and fair dreams attend you."

"I must go and bid one of the men sleep across your door," said
Richard of Woodville: "though this house is safe enough, yet it is as
well always to be careful."

"It matters not, it matters not," answered his companion. "I have
never found a man, against whom my own hand could not keep my head or
my heart."

"As for your heart, sir," rejoined Woodville, laughing; "you may yet
find a woman who will teach you better."

"I know not," replied Hal of Hadnock, laughing; "I am strong there,
too; but no one can tell what is written in the stars," and thus they
parted.



                             CHAPTER IV.

                          THE GLUTTON MASS.


Breakfast was over, and yet, between the lower edge of the sun and the
gentle sweeping line of the hills above which he was rising, not more
than two hand-breadths of golden sky could be seen; for our ancestors
were still, at that period, a matutinal people, rising generally
before the peep of day, and hearing the birds' first song. On a large,
smooth green, at the back of the Hall, yet within the limits of the
park by which it was surrounded, with Dunbury Hill and the lines of
the ancient invaders' camp at the top, rising still grey and cold
before their eyes, the group which we have described in the second
chapter, with the exception of the Abbot, was assembled to practise or
to witness some of the sports of the day. The ladies, having their
heads now covered with the strange and somewhat cumbrous coifs then
worn, stood upon a stone-paved path, watching the proceedings of their
male companions; and with them appeared good Sir Philip Beauchamp, in
a long furred gown, with Hal of Hadnock, talking gaily to Catherine,
on his right hand.

"Well pitched, Hugh of Clatford," cried the old knight; "well pitched;
a toise beyond Sir Simeon."

"I will beat him by two," exclaimed Richard of Woodville, taking the
heavy iron bar which they were engaged in casting. "Here goes!" and,
after balancing it for a moment in his hand, he tossed it high in the
air, sending it several yards beyond any one who had yet played their
part.

"Will you not try your arm, noble sir?" asked Sir Philip, turning to
Hal of Hadnock.

"Willingly, willingly," replied the guest; "but Sir Henry Dacre has
not yet shown his skill."

"He will not do much," said Catherine Beauchamp, in a low tone.

"Fie, Kate," cried Isabel, who overheard her; "that is untrue, as well
as unkind."

As she spoke, Dacre took the bar, which had been brought back by one
of the pages, and, without pausing to poise it carefully, as the rest
had done, cast it within a foot or two of the spot which it had
reached when sent from the hand of Woodville.

Hal of Hadnock then advanced, looking round with a gay laugh to the
ladies, and saying, "I am upon my mettle before such bright eyes.
Here, boy, give me the bar."

The page placed it in his hand; and, setting his right foot upon the
mark where the others had stood, he swung himself gracefully backward
and forward on one leg, for a moment, and then tossed the bar in air.
So light, so easy, was his whole movement, that no one expected to see
the iron go half the distance it had done before; but, to the surprise
of all, it flew from his hand as if expelled from some of the military
engines of the day, and, striking the ground full twenty paces farther
than it had yet done, bounded up off the sward and rolled on beyond.

"Well delivered! well delivered!" exclaimed Sir Philip Beauchamp; and
the men and boys around clapped their bands and cried "Hurrah!"

"I will send it farther or break my arm," cried Richard of Woodville.

"If you do, I will beat you by a toise," replied Hal of Hadnock,
laughing. But they all strove in vain; no one could toss the bar
within several yards of the stranger's mark.

"And now for a leaping bar," cried Hal of Hadnock. "Oh! there stands
one I see by the trees. Away, Woodville! place it how high you will."

"I will beat you at that, noble sir," said young Hugh of Clatford, who
was reported the best jumper and runner in the country.

"And should you do so, I will give you a quiver of arrows with
peacocks' feathers," rejoined the gentleman. "Now, take it in turns, I
will leap last."

Sir Simeon of Roydon declined the sport, however, and Sir Harry Dacre
stood back; but Clatford, and others of the old knight's retainers,
took their stations, as well as Richard of Woodville; and the bar
having been placed high in the notches, each took a run and leapt;
some touching it with their feet, some clearing it clean.

Hal of Hadnock then gave a gay smile to his fair companions, with whom
he had for the time resumed his place; and advancing at a walk, as if
to put the pole up higher, he quickened his pace, at the distance of
three or four steps, and cleared it by several inches.

"You try him higher, Hugh," cried Richard of Woodville, laughing; "I
have done my best, good faith."

"Where will you put it?" asked the traveller, turning to the young
retainer of the house.

"Oh, at the highest notch," answered Hugh of Clatford, lifting up the
bar; "can you do that, sir?"

"I will see," replied Hal of Hadnock; "stand back a bit," and, taking
a better start, he ran, and went over, with an inch to spare.

Poor Hugh was less fortunate, however, for though he nearly
accomplished the leap, he tipped the bar with his heel, cast it down,
and overthrowing his own balance, fell upon his face, amidst the
laughter of his comrades. He rose somewhat abashed, with bloody marks
of his contact with the ground; but Hal of Hadnock laid his hand
kindly on his arm, saying,

"Thou art a nimble fellow, on my life. I did not know there was a man
in England could go so near me, as thou hast done. Here, my friend,
thy sheaf of arrows is well won," and he poured some pieces of gold
into his hand.

The words were more gratifying to the good yeoman than the money; and
bowing low, he answered, "I was sure you were no ordinary leaper, sir,
for few can go higher than I can."

"Oh, I am called Deersfoot," replied Hal of Hadnock, laughing; "get in
and wash your face; for you have done well, and need not be ashamed to
show it."

Some other sports succeeded; but the stranger took no further part
therein, resuming his place by Catherine's side, apparently greatly
smitten with her charms. The weak, vain girl, flattered by his
attention, gave way to all the coquetry of her nature, made her fine
eyes use their whole artillery of glances, whispered, and smiled,
spoke soft, and sometimes sighed; till the good old knight, Sir
Philip, not the best pleased with his niece's demeanour, broke off the
amusements of the morning, exclaiming, "To the mass! to the mass,
sirs! It is high time that we were on our way."

The sports, then, immediately ceased; and passing through the great
hall, the court-yard, and the gates, the whole party, arranged two and
two, walked on amidst the neighbouring wood towards the parish church.
Hal of Hadnock kept his place by Catherine's side, and Sir Harry Dacre
followed with Isabel; but, somewhat to Richard of Woodville's
annoyance, Sir Philip Beauchamp retained Mary Markham to himself,
while his nephew and Sir Simeon of Roydon came after, neither,
perhaps, in the best of humours.

The noble party found the church crowded with the villagers, every
woman having her basket with her, covered with a clean white napkin,
but apparently crammed as full as it well could be; and Hal of Hadnock
remembered that, as his companion had said the night before, this was
one of the days appointed for those festivals which were then called,
Glutton masses.

When the service was over, old Sir Philip advanced to leave the
building with his household, not approving the disgraceful scene that
was about to take place; but Hal of Hadnock whispered to his companion
of the road,--

"Let us stay and see. I have never witnessed one of these feats of
gormandizing."

"Well, we shall save the credit of the family," replied Richard of
Woodville, in a low tone; "for the good priest looks upon my uncle as
half a Lollard, because he will not stay in the church and eat till he
bursts, in honour of the Blessed Virgin."

Hal of Hadnock and his new friend accordingly lingered behind; and
hardly had the old knight passed through the doors, when a scene of
confusion took place quite indescribable. Every one brought forward
his basket. Some who had lost their store, hunted for it among the
rest. Some hurried forward to present, what they considered, very
choice viands to the priest. Many a pannier was overturned; and
chickens, capons, huge lumps of meat, and leathern bottles of wine,
mead, and ale, rolled upon the pavement. One or two of the latter got
uncorked, and the contents streamed about amongst the napkins, which
several of the women were spreading forth upon the ground. Knives were
brandished; thumbs and fingers were cut; one man nearly poked out the
eye of his better half in giving her assistance, and was heartily
cuffed for his pains; and a fat chorister slipped in consequence of
putting his foot upon a fine trout dressed in jelly, and fell
prostrate on his back in the midst. The people roared, the priest
himself chuckled, and was a long time ere he could get his flock, or
his countenance, into due order.

A song to the Virgin was then sung by way of grace; and every one fell
to, with an intention of outdoing his neighbour. To Richard of
Woodville and his companion were assigned the places of honour near
the clergy; and the priest, looking well pleased down the long aisle,
literally encumbered with the preparations for excess, whispered to
the old knight's nephew, with an air of triumph,--

"Well, I think we shall outdo Wallop this time, at least."

"Undoubtedly," replied Richard of Woodville, gravely; "but I fear you
will think my friend and me no better than heathens, having brought
nothing with us either to eat or drink."

"Poo! there is plenty--there is plenty," replied the good man, "and to
spare. Eat as hard as we can, we shall be scarcely able to get through
it; and it is fitting, too, that something be left for the poor. We
will all do our best, however, and thank you for your help."

The onslaught was tremendous. One would have thought that the
congregation had fasted for a month, so eagerly, so rapidly did they
devour the provisions before them; and then they took to their bottles
and drinking-horns, and when they had assuaged their thirst,
recommenced the attack upon the meat with renewed vigour.

Richard of Woodville, and Hal of Hadnock, had soon seen enough of the
Glutton mass; and, at a hint from his companion, the former took an
opportunity of whispering to the priest,--

"We must go, I fear; lest my uncle be angry at our absence."

"Well, well," said the worthy clerk, "if it must be so, we cannot help
it; but 'tis a sad pity, Master Richard, that so good a man as the
Knight of Dunbury, should be such a discourager of pious ordinances."

"It is, indeed," answered Woodville, in a solemn tone; "but all men
have their prejudices; and you know, father, he loves the Church."

"Ay, that he does, that he does," replied the other, heartily; "he
sent me two fat bucks last summer."

"Oh, yes, he loves the Church, he loves the Church!" rejoined
Woodville, and gliding quietly down the side aisle, so that he might
not disturb any of the congregation in their devout exercise of the
jaws, he left the building, accompanied by Hal of Hadnock.

Both laughed as soon as they were out of the church; but the guest of
Sir Philip Beauchamp soon fell into deep thought; and after walking
forward for a little distance, he observed, "It is strange, how men
are inclined to make religion subservient to all their appetites. What
are such things as these? what are many of our solemn customs, but the
self-same idolatrous rites practised by the ancient pagans, who
deified their passions and their follies, and then took the simplest
means of worshipping them?--What can be the cause of such perversity?"

"The devil! the devil!" answered Richard of Woodville; "he who leads
every one on from one wickedness to another; who first teaches man to
infringe God's commandment, in order to gratify some desire, and then,
as that desire grows fat and strong upon indulgence, first persuades
us that its gratification is pleasing to God, and in the end makes us
worship it, as a god."

"But yet these same good folks fast and mortify themselves at certain
times," said Hal of Hadnock; "and then carouse and revel, as if they
had won a right to excess."

"To make up for lost time," said Woodville; "but the truth is, it is
like a man playing at cross and pile, who, when he has lost one stake,
tries to clear off the score against him by doubling the next. We have
all sins enough to atone for; and we play the penance against the
indulgence, and the indulgence against the penance. Give me the man
who always mortifies himself in all that is wrong; who fasts from
anger, malice, backbiting, lying, and uncharitableness; who denies
himself, at all times, excess in anything, and holds a festival every
day, with gratitude to God for that which he, in his bounty, is
pleased to give him. But, after all, it is very natural that these
corruptions should take place, even in a faith like ours. Depend upon
it, the purer a religion is the more strong will be the efforts of
Sathanus to pervert it; so that men may walk along his broad
high-road, while they think they are taking the way to everlasting
salvation."

"There is truth in that, good Richard," replied his companion; "but I
fear me, you have caught some of the doctrines of the Lollards, of
whom you were speaking."

"Not a whit," answered Woodville; "I am a good catholic Christian; but
I may see the evils which men have brought into the Church, without
thinking ill of the Church itself; just as when looking at the Abbey
down yonder, I see that a foolish architect from France has changed
two of the fine old round arches, which were built in King Stephen's
time, to smart pointed windows, all bedizened with I don't know what,
without thinking the Abbey anything but a very fine building,
notwithstanding."

Although Richard of Woodville would not admit that any impression had
been made upon him by the preaching of the Lollards, certain it is,
that the teaching of Wicliff and his disciples had led men generally
to look somewhat narrowly into the superstitious practices of the day,
and that the minds of many were imbued with the spirit of their
doctrines, who, either from prejudice, timidity, or conviction, would
not adopt the doctrines themselves. Nor was the effect transitory; for
it lasted till, and prepared the way for, the Reformation.

In a thoughtful mood, both the young gentlemen proceeded on their way
through the wood; and, on their arrival at the hall, found Sir Philip
Beauchamp, and the rest of his family and guests, already seated at
the early dinner of those days. The old knight received their excuses
in good part, laughed at Hal of Hadnock's curiosity to see a Glutton
mass, and insisted he should sit down and finish his meal with him.
"Had you been at Andover yesterday," he said, "you might have seen
another strange sight: the Mayor sit in the stocks, and a justice on
either side of him."

"Indeed!" cried Hal of Hadnock, seriously; "that were a strange sight
to see. Pray, on whose authority was it done? and what was the crime
these magistrates committed?"

"Good truth, I know not," answered Sir Philip. "A party of wild young
men, they say, did it; and, as for the crime, it is not specified:
but, on my life, it was justice, though of a rash kind; for Master
Havering, the Mayor, has worked well for such a punishment; though,
belike, the hands that put him in were not the best fitted for the
office."

"I should think not, certainly," replied Hal of Hadnock, in the same
grave tone, and with an immovable countenance; though Richard of
Woodville, who had contrived to seat himself next to Mary Markham, on
the other side of the board, gave him a merry glance of the eye, as if
he suspected more than he chose to say.

When the meal was over, which was not speedily, Hal of Hadnock
proposed to take his departure; but Sir Philip, with all courtesy,
besought him, at least, to stay till the afternoon meal, or supper
(then usually served at four o'clock), with the hospitable intent of
urging him afterwards to spend another night under his roof; and, in
the meantime, he promised to show him his armoury, his horses, and his
library; though, to say the truth, the suits of rich armour were more
numerous than the books, and the horses more in number than the people
who frequented the library. Hal of Hadnock, for reasons of his own,
accepted the invitation; and Richard of Woodville, though his
approaching departure was already announced, agreed to stay, in order
to bear him company when he went.

I will not lead the patient reader through all the rooms of the hall,
or detain him with a description of the armoury and its contents, or
carry him to the stable, and show him all the horses of the good old
knight, Sir Philip, from the battle-horse, which had borne him through
many a stricken field in former days, to the ambling palfrey of his
daughter Isabel. Hal of Hadnock, indeed, submitted to all this with a
good grace; for he was a kind-hearted and considerate person, and
little doubted that his friend Richard of Woodville was employing the
precious moments to the best advantage with fair Mary Markham. To all
these sights, with the discussion of sundry knotty points, regarding
shields, and pallets, and unibers, the properties of horses, and the
form and extent of the manifaire, were given well nigh two hours; and,
when Hal of Hadnock and his noble host returned to the great hall,
they found it tenanted alone by Catherine Beauchamp and Sir Simeon of
Roydon.

Richard and Dacre, Isabel and Mary, the lady said, were gone to walk
together in the park; but she had waited, she added, with a coquettish
air, thinking it but courtesy to give her uncle's honoured guest a
companion, if he chose to join them.

So direct an invitation was, of course, not to be refused by Hal of
Hadnock; and he thanked her with high-coloured gallantry for her
consideration.

"Do you go too, Sir Simeon?" inquired Sir Philip Beauchamp; but the
courtly knight replied that he had only waited to take his leave; as
he had business to transact in the neighbourhood, and must be home ere
night. Before Catherine and her companion set out, however, Sir Simeon
drew her aside, as the relationship in which she stood towards him
seemed to justify, and spoke to her for a moment eagerly. A few of his
words caught the quick ear of Hal of Hadnock, as he stood talking to
the old knight, who took care to impress him with the knowledge, that
his fair niece was fully betrothed to Sir Harry Dacre; and though
those words were, apparently, of small import, Hal of Hadnock
remembered them long after.

"I will tell you all, if you come," replied Sir Simeon, to some
question the lady had asked; "but mind, I warn you.--Will you come?"

"I do not know," answered Catherine, with a toss of the head; "it is
your business to wait and see."

"Wait I cannot," rejoined the knight; "see I will;" and the lady,
turning to her uncle and his companion, accompanied the latter through
a long passage at the back of the hall, to the door which led to the
ground where the sports of the morning had taken place.

The park of Dunbury was very like that described by old Chaucer:--


             '----A parke enclosed with a wall
              la compace rounde, and by a gate small,
              Who so that would he frelie mighten gone
              Into this parke, ywalled with grene stone.

                          *   *   *   *   *

              The soile was plain, and smoth, and wondir soft,
              All overspread with tapettes that Nature
              Had made herself, covirid eke aloft
              With bowis grene, the flouris for to cure,
              That in ther beautie thei mai long endure.'--


The walks around were numerous and somewhat intricate; and whether
fair Catherine Beauchamp knew or not the direction that her friends
had taken, she certainly did not follow the path most likely to lead
to where they really were; but, as she and Hal of Hadnock walked
along, she employed the time to the best advantage in carrying on the
siege of his heart. He, for his part, humoured her to the full, having
a firm conviction that it would be far better, both for Sir Henry
Dacre and herself, that the imperfect marriage between them should be
annulled at their mutual desire, than remain a chain upon them, only
increasing in weight. It must not, indeed, be supposed that he took
any very deep interest in the matter; but, as it fell in his way, he
was willing enough to forward what he believed to be a noble-minded
man's desire for emancipation from a very bitter sort of thraldom; and
it is seldom an unpleasant or laborious task for a lighthearted man to
sport with a capricious girl. Thus went he on, then, with that mixture
of romantic gallantry and teasing jest, which is of all things the
most exciting to the mind of a coquette, with sufficient admiration to
soothe her vanity, but with not sufficient devotion ever to allow her
to imagine that her triumph is complete. Neither did he let her gain
any advantage; for, though it was evident that she clearly perceived
the name he had assumed was not his own, he gave her no information,
playing with her curiosity without gratifying it.

"But what makes you think," he asked, "that I am other than I seem?
Why should I not be plain Hal of Hadnock, a poor gentleman from the
Welsh marshes?"

"No, no, no," she said, "it is not so. A thousand things prove it:
first, manners, appearance, dress. Why, are you not as fine as my good
cousin a dozen times removed, Sir Simeon of Roydon, the pink of court
gallants?"

"And yet I have heard that he is not as rich as an abbot," replied Hal
of Hadnock.

"No, in truth," answered Catherine; "he is as poor as a verger; and,
like the curlew, carries all his fortune on his back, I believe."

"I suspect not his own fortune only," rejoined her companion, "but a
part of other men's."

"But then your knightly spurs, good sir," continued Kate, returning to
the point; "you must be Sir Hal of Hadnock at the least. Now I never
heard of that name amongst our chivalry; and I am deep read in the
rolls of knighthood."

"Oh, I am newly dubbed," replied the gentleman, laughing; "but you
shall know all some day, lady fair."

"I shall know very soon," answered Catherine; "for Simeon of Roydon
will tell me."

"More, perhaps, than he knows himself," said Hal of Hadnock.

"Oh, he knows well enough," exclaimed Catherine Beauchamp. "He has
already told me, that you are a man of noble birth and high estate,
and promised to speak the name; but I would rather owe it to your
courtesy than his."

"Nay, what would I not do for the love of your bright eyes?" asked Hal
of Hadnock, in a tone half tender, half jesting; "methinks the light
in them, even now, looks like the morning sun reflected from a dewdrop
in a violet. But why should I tell you aught? I have been warned that
you are another's. Out upon such cold contracts, that bind unwilling
hearts together! It is clear, there is no great love in your heart for
this Sir Harry Dacre."

"Not too much to lie comfortably in a hazel nut," answered Catherine.

"Then why do you not ask to have the marriage annulled?" demanded her
companion. "There never yet was bond in which the keen eyes of the
court of Rome could not find a flaw."

"Why, it would grieve his proud heart sadly," replied the lady; "yet I
have often thought of it."

"If he be proud--and so he is," rejoined Hal of Hadnock, "he would
never refuse to consent, however much it might vex him. Well, well,
set yourself free from him, and then you shall know who I am. As for
this fellow Roydon, he knows nothing, and will but lead you wrong; but
were I you, I would be a free woman ere a year were over; and then,
this fair hand were a prize well worth the winning to higher hearts
than a Dacre or a Roydon."

With such conversation they wandered on for some time, without
overtaking the party they had come out to seek. They saw them once at
some distance, indeed, through the overhanging boughs of an opposite
alley just fringed with early leaves; but they did not hurry their
pace, and only met them at length at the door of the hall, as they
were all returning. Sir Henry Dacre was then walking by Isabel's side,
with his arms crossed upon his chest, and his brow sad and stern. As
soon as he saw Catherine and her companion, he fixed his eyes
inquiringly upon her, and seemed to mark her heightened colour, and
somewhat excited look--then fell into thought again; and then laid his
hand upon her arm, saying, "I would speak with you for a moment,
Kate."

"It must not be long," she replied, coldly; "for I have dipped my feet
in the dew, and would fain dry them."

"It shall not be long," answered Sir Henry Dacre; and he remained with
her behind, while the rest entered slowly. Ere they had passed the
door, the anxious ear of Isabel heard high tones without; and, in a
few minutes, as they paused for a moment in the hall, where the
servants were already spreading the board for supper, Sir Henry
entered, with a hasty step.

"My horse to the gate!" he said, addressing one of the attendants.

"At what hour, Sir Knight?" asked the servant.

"Directly!" answered Dacre. "The men can follow. Farewell, dear
Isabel," he continued, turning to Catherine's cousin; "I can stay no
longer.--Farewell, Mary!" He grasped Richard of Woodville's hand, but
said nothing; and with a low and formal bow to Hal of Hadnock, turned
towards the door leading to the court.

Isabel Beauchamp followed him quietly, laid her hand upon his arm, and
spoke eagerly, but in a low tone.

"I cannot, I cannot, Isabel," he replied, aloud. "Dear girl, do not
urge me. I shall forget myself--I shall go mad. Excuse me to your
noble father--farewell!" and opening the large door, he issued forth,
and closed it behind him.

Isabel Beauchamp turned with her eyes full of tears; but passing the
rest silently, as if afraid to speak, she hurried to her own chamber,
wept for a few minutes, and then sought her father.

The supper that day was a grave and silent meal. There was a stern
cloud on old Sir Philip Beauchamp's brow when he came down to the
hall; and, as he took his seat he asked, looking round, "Where is
Catherine?"

"I know not," answered Mary Markham; "but she went to her own chamber
when she came in."

"Shall I seek the lady, sir?" asked one of the retainers of the house,
from the lower part of the table.

"No! let her be," replied the old knight; and then he murmured,
"Perhaps she has still some shame--and if so, it is well."

To Hal of Hadnock his demeanour was courteous, though so grave, that
his guest could not but feel that some share in the disagreeable
event, which had evidently taken place, was attributed to him; and
though he knew that his intention was good, yet, like many another
man, he had reason to feel sorry that he had meddled in other men's
affairs at all. Supper was nearly over, the light was beginning to
wane in the sky, and the stranger was thinking it was time to depart,
when the porter's boy came into the hall, and, approaching Richard of
Woodville, whispered something in his ear.

The young gentleman instantly rose, and went out into the court, but
returned a moment after, and spoke a word to Hal of Hadnock, who
started up, and followed him. In the court they found a man booted and
spurred, and dusty from the road, holding by the bridle a horse, with
one leg bent, and the head bowed down, as if exhausted by long
exercise.

The man instantly uncovered his head, when he saw the gentlemen
appear, and throwing down the bridle, advanced a step, while Hadnock
gave him a quick sign, which he seemed to comprehend.

"Your presence is required immediately, sir," he said, without adding
any name; "your father is ill--very ill--and I have lost some hours in
seeking you. I heard of you, however, at Andover, then at the Abbey,
then at the priest's house in the village, and ventured on here, as
'tis matter of life and death."

"You did right," said Hal of Hadnock, briefly, but with deep anxiety
on his face. "Ill, say you? very ill? and I away!--Why, I left him
better!"

"One of those fits again, sir," answered the man. "For an hour he was
thought dead, but had regained his speech when I set out; yet the
leeches much fear----"

"I come! I come!" answered Hal of Hadnock. "Speed on before; I will be
in London ere day-break. Change your horse often, and lose no time.
Buy a stout horse wherever you can find one, and have him ready for me
on Murrel Green. Away, good fellow! Say that I am coming!--Richard, I
must go at once."

"Well, I will with you, sir," replied Richard of Woodville; "you go to
bid my good uncle adieu. I will order out the horses."

"So be it," answered Hal of Hadnock; "you shall be my guide, for I
must not miss my way;"--and, after giving the messenger some money, he
turned, and re-entered the hall.



                              CHAPTER V.

                          THE ASSASSINATION.


Clouds had again come over the heavens as day declined, and the light
had nearly faded from the sky; but yet the horses of Hal of Hadnock
and Richard of Woodville had not appeared in the court-yard, and the
former showed great anxiety to proceed at once. His gaiety was gone;
and he stood, either playing, in deep thought, with the hilt of his
dagger, the sheath of which hung from a ring in the centre of his
belt, or listening for the horses, with his ear turned towards the
door of the hall.

"I fear, sir, the news you have received are bad," said old Sir Philip
Beauchamp, who, with the rest of the party, had by this time risen
from table.

"A father's perilous sickness, noble Sir Philip," answered Hal of
Hadnock; "one who might have been kinder, indeed; but still the
tidings must ever be sad ones to a son's heart. I wonder that the
horses be not ready."

"Go, Hugh, and see," replied Richard of Woodville; but a serving man,
who had entered the moment before, stopped the messenger, saying--

"They will be here in a minute, sir. A shoe was found loose on the
gentleman's steed, and John the smith has had to fasten it."

"Well, Dick, thou goest in good earnest at last," said the old knight,
turning to his nephew; "and on my life I think it is the best thing
thou canst do. Thou art a good soldier, and wilt raise thyself to
renown. I need not tell thee what thy duties are; but thou must take a
horse and arms of thine old uncle, whom thou mayest never see again,
perchance. Choose them for thyself, boy. Thou wilt find wherewithal in
that purse," and he placed a full one in his nephew's hand. "As my
good brother, the Abbot, is not here, thou must content thyself with
my benison. Be it upon thee, Richard! Love thy king, thy country, and
thine honour. But, above all things, love God, fear his anger, hope in
his mercy, trust in his promises, and submit thine own reason in all
things to his word. So shalt thou prosper in this world; so shalt thou
be meet for another."

The young man caught his uncle's hand and kissed it; and the old
knight pressed him for a moment in his arms.

"Here, Richard, take this gift of me," said Isabel: "'tis but a jewel
for your baldrick."

Mary Markham did not speak; but after he had pressed his lips on
Isabel's cheek, she offered hers silently, placing a ring in his hand.

"I will bear it to honour, and win you yet, Mary," said Woodville, in
a low voice, as he took his parting kiss; and he felt that her cheek
was wet with tears.

"Hark! there are the horses, noble sir," exclaimed Hal of Hadnock,
turning to Sir Philip. "Once more, farewell! Your nephew shall give
you further news of me; and may one day clear me in your eyes for
somewhat you have thought amiss."

Then bidding the ladies adieu, he turned to the hall door, and
mounted, with a princely largesse to the servants of the house.
Richard of Woodville followed, sprang on his horse's back, and, giving
one look back, rode through the gates after his companion.

The wood was dark and sombre, as they proceeded amidst its thick
coverts; but when they issued forth, a faint glimmer of twilight
served to guide them on the way, and they quickened their pace. There
were lights in the windows of the cottages, too, as they passed
through the village; and when they reached the other side, they caught
a pale line of yellow light, peeping out from beneath the dark clouds
upon the edge of the western sky, and gilding the water of the stream.
Riding on quickly, they had not left the last house behind them five
minutes, when Hal of Hadnock pulled up his horse short, exclaiming,
"Hark! there is a scream!"

"'Tis but a screech-owl," answered Richard of Woodville; "they come
forth in spring."

But as he spoke, there was another shriek, apparently before them; and
each struck his horse with the spur, and dashed on. No other sound met
their ear, however, except what seemed the distant galloping of a
horse, which might be but the echo of their own beasts' feet. When
they reached the spot where, on the preceding night, they had seen the
wild fire over the moor, Hal of Hadnock again drew in his rein,
saying, "It came from somewhere here."

"It seemed to me near where we then were," replied Richard of
Woodville. "Perchance 'twas but some villagers got drunk at that
Glutton mass. See, there is the otter again!"

"It was a shriek of pain or terror," answered his companion.
"Otter!--that is no otter! Here, hold my horse," and springing from
the saddle in a moment, he dashed down the bank, and plunged into the
river. Though shallow in most places, it there formed a deep pool; but
Hal of Hadnock, expert in all exercises alike, struck out at once, and
caught the object he had seen, just as it was sinking. A feeling of
horror and alarm seized him, as his hand grasped the long hair of a
woman; but raising her head above the water again, he held it gently
on his left arm, and with his right swam in towards the shore.

"Here, help, Richard," he cried, "set the horses free, and take her.
'Tis a woman!"

Woodville was down the bank in a moment, exclaiming, "Who is it?--who
is it?"

"I know not," answered Hal of Hadnock, raising her so far above the
water, that his companion could grasp her in his arms and lift her
out; but as he himself followed, placing one knee on the shore, with a
sad heart, he heard his companion exclaim, in the accents of deep
grief--

"Good Heaven! it is Catherine!"

"Quick! bear her to the nearest house!" cried Hal of Hadnock; "the
spark of life may be still there. I will follow with the horses."

"Up the short path to the right, lies the chanter's," cried Richard,
raising the unhappy girl in his stout arms, and running along the
road.

The horses were easily caught, and mounting one, and leading the
other, Hal of Hadnock followed, obtaining a glance of his companion
just as he turned from the highway, towards a spot where the thatch of
a small house peeped up above some trees. He was at the door as soon
as Woodville; and, lifting the latch, they both went in.

An old man and woman were sitting before the fire; but the sudden
entrance of two men roused them in fear; and, when they saw who it
was, and what they bore, all was eager hurry and lamentation. The
inanimate body of Catherine Beauchamp, however, was speedily laid in
the old chanter's bed, in the neighbouring chamber; and such simple
means as first suggested themselves were employed to ascertain if life
were still within that fair and silent frame. But she lay calm and
still as if asleep, with her features full of a sweet placidity, such
as they had seldom worn in life.

"It is past!" said Richard of Woodville; "it is past'. Poor girl! how
has this happened? Ha! there is the mark of a grasp upon her throat!"

"See there, too!" cried Hal of Hadnock; and he pointed with his hand
to where, upon the fine lawn that covered her bosom, was a faint red
stain, half washed out by the water of the stream, as if blood had
been spilt. No wound, however, was to be discovered; and while the two
gentlemen stood and gazed, the old chanter's sister continued,
ineffectually, to employ every effort to reawaken the inanimate frame,
and the old man himself ran off to the Abbey to procure farther aid.

"Go into the other room, sirs--go into the other room," said the good
dame, at length; "I will take off her wet clothes. 'Tis that keeps her
from coming to."

Hal of Hadnock shook his head; for he could not see that pale
countenance, those immovable lips, those sightless eyes, without
feeling sure--too sure--that life had departed for ever. He would not
say anything, however, to discourage the zeal of the poor woman; and
he accordingly accompanied Richard of Woodville into the chamber which
they had first entered, and stood with him in silent thought before
the fire. Neither spoke; for the mind of each was busy with sad and
dark inquiries, regarding the event which had just taken place; yet
neither could arrive at anything like a conclusion. Was it her own
act? was it accident? was it the deed of another? and if so, of whom?
Such were the questions which both asked themselves. Both, too,
entertained suspicions; but yet they did not like even to admit those
suspicions to their own hearts, for how often does the first
conclusion of guilt do injustice to the innocent! but while they were
still in thought, the voice of the chanter's sister was heard
exclaiming--

"Come hither, Master Richard!--come hither! See here!" and as they
entered, she pointed to the poor girl's arm, which now lay uncovered
on the bed-clothes, adding, "there is the grasp of a hand, clear
enough! Look, all the fingers and the thumb!"

"Stay," said Hal of Hadnock; "that might be mine, Richard, or yours in
raising her out of the stream."

"I took her by the other arm," answered Richard of Woodville.

"And I do not remember having touched her arm at all," said Hal of
Hadnock, after thinking for a moment.

"Oh, no, sirs," cried the old woman; "that hand must have grasped her
in life, else it would not have brought the blood to the skin. Hark!
there are the people coming," and, in another minute, the good old
Abbot, and four or five of his monks, ran in breathless and scared.

"Alas! alas! Richard, what is this?" cried the Abbot.

"A sad and dark affair, father," replied Richard of Woodville, while
one of the monks, famed for his skill in leechcraft, advanced to the
bed-side, and put his hand upon the heart; "I fear life is extinct."

The Abbot gazed at the monk as he knelt; but the good brother slowly
waved his head, with a melancholy look, saying, "Yet leave me and the
old woman alone with her."

"I will stay and aid," replied the Abbot. "I am her uncle."

All the rest withdrew; and many were the eager questions of the monks,
as to how the accident had happened. Richard of Woodville told the
tale simply as it was--the two shrieks that they had heard, the
discovery of the body in the water, and its recovery from the stream.

"Ay, she screamed when she fell in, and when she first rose," said one
of the monks; "drowning people always do."

Woodville made no reply; for he would not give his own suspicions to
others; but Hal of Hadnock asked him, in a low voice, "Did you not
hear the galloping of a horse, on the other side, as we came near?"

"I did," answered Richard, in the same tone; "I did, too plainly."

In about a quarter of an hour, the Abbot came forth, and all made way
for him.

"What hope?" asked Woodville, looking into his uncle's face for
speedier information.

"None!" replied the Abbot. "How has this chanced, my son? there are
marks of violence."

The same tale was told over again; but this time Richard of Woodville
added the fact of a horse's feet having been heard; and the Abbot
mused profoundly.

"I will have the body carried down to the Abbey," he said, at length.
"You, Richard, speed to my brother, and break the tidings there. Come
down with him to the Abbey, and we will consult. Bring Dacre, too.

"Dacre has been gone more than two hours," answered Richard of
Woodville; "but I will seek my uncle Philip," and he turned towards
the door.

Hal of Hadnock stayed him for a moment, however, saying, "I must ride
on, Richard. You know that my call hence admits of no delay. But let
every one remark and remember, for this matter must be inquired into,
that I heard and saw all that this good friend of mine did; the
shrieks, the galloping of a horse, the body in the water. You shall
have means of finding me, too, should it be needful; and now, my Lord
Abbot, a sad good night. Farewell, Richard; you shall hear from me
soon." Thus saying, he quitted the cottage, mounted his horse, and
rode away at a quick pace.



                             CHAPTER VI.

                           THE SUSPICIONS.


Upon the borders of Hampshire and Sussex, but still within the former
county, lies, as the reader probably knows, a large tract of land but
little cultivated even now, and which, in the days whereof I speak,
was covered either with scattered trees and copses or wild heath,
having various paths and roads winding through it, which led now to a
solitary village, with a patch of cultivated land round about it, now
to a church or chapel in the wild, now travelled on through the hills,
which are high and bare, to Winchester or Basingstoke. Deep sand
occupies a great portion of the ground, through which it is well nigh
impossible to construct a firm road; and the whole country is broken
with wild and rapid undulations, of no great height or depth, but
every variety of form, the resort of all those rare birds, which
afforded so much interest and amusement to gentle White of Selbourne.

Through this rude and uncultivated tract, a little before the close of
day, in the beginning of April 1413, two gentlemen clothed in deep
mourning of the fashion of that day, rode slowly on. Both were very
grave and silent; and, if the complexion of their thoughts was sad and
solemn, the aspect of the scene at that hour was not calculated to
lighten the heart, though it might arouse feelings of admiration. The
sun hung upon the edge of the sky; broad masses of cloud floated over
the wide expanse of azure which stretched out above the wild heath;
and their shadows, as they crossed the slanting rays, swept over the
varied surface below, casting long lines of country into deep blue
shade, while the rest shone in the cool pale evening sunshine of the
yet unconfirmed spring. Each dell and pit, too, at that hour, was
filled with the same sort of purple shadow: the braes and banks looked
wilder and more strongly marked from the position of the sun; the
occasional clumps of fir trees cut sharp and black upon the western
sky; and everything was stern and grand and solemn.

Rising over one slope and descending another, by paths cut imperfectly
through the heath and gorse, the travellers had ridden on for half an
hour without speaking, when at length, at the bottom of a deep valley,
where the sun could no longer be seen, and the shades of evening
seemed already to have fallen, they stopped to let their horses drink
in a large piece of water, sheltered by a thick copse, and gazed upon
the reflection of the blue sky above and the clouds floating over it.
As they moved on again, a large white bird started up from the reeds,
and flew heavily away, with its snowy plumage strangely contrasting
with the dark background of the wood and hill.

"'Tis like a spirit winging its way from earth," said Sir Henry Dacre,
following the bird with his eyes. "Poor Catherine! Would that aught
else had set thee free from the chain that bound thee to me, but
death."

"Luckless girl, indeed!" replied Richard of Woodville; "from her
infancy unfortunate! And yet men thought that the hand of Heaven had
showered upon her its choicest gifts: beauty, wealth, kind friends,
and a noble heart to love her, if she would but have welcomed it. But,
alas! Harry, the crowning gift of all was wanting: a spirit that could
use God's blessings aright."

"It was more the fault of others than her own," said Sir Harry Dacre,
"that I do believe. Her mother made her what she was! 'Tis sad! 'tis
very sad, Richard, that, at the period when we have no power to form
ourselves, each weak fool who approaches us can give us some bad gift
which we never can cast off."

"Like the evil fairies at a child's birth," answered Richard of
Woodville; "and certainly her mother was a bad demon to her; but
still, though I would not speak ill of those who are gone, yet poor
Kate received the gifts willingly enough, destructive as they were.
Would to Heaven it had been otherwise; but others encouraged her in
all that was wrong, as well as her mother. This man, Roydon, was no
good counsellor for a lady's ear."

The brow of Sir Henry Dacre grew dark as night. "He is a scoundrel,"
he cried; "he is a scoundrel; and if ever he gives me the chance of
having him at my lance's point, he or I shall go to that place where
all men's actions are made clear.--Oh! that I knew the truth, Richard!
Oh! that I knew the truth!"

"There is One who knows it," answered Richard of Woodville, "who never
suffers foul deeds to rest in darkness. Trust to Him: and if this
knave does but support his charge, perhaps your lance may be the
avenging instrument of Heaven."

"May it be so," replied the knight; "but I doubt it, Richard. True, he
has not shown himself a coward in the field; and yet I cannot but
think that he is craven at heart. Saw you not how carefully his letter
to Sir Philip was worded? how he insinuated more than he dared say?
and, then, why did he not come?--A sickness, forsooth! The excuse of
an idle schoolboy. He would not face me,--that is the truth. He fears
me, Richard, and will not dare the test of battle."

"Well, that we shall soon see," answered his companion; "your
messenger must be at my house, by this time, with his reply."

"I trust so," said Dacre, thoughtfully; "yet he will take time to
write carefully, believe me. His will be no rash epistle, written in
fiery anger at his cousin's death. No, no; it will be done as if a
scrivener had dictated every word, and in a courtly hand. But whatever
he does, mark me, he will leave the poison behind, and so calculate as
to cast suspicion over me for life."

"But who suspects you, Dacre?" asked Richard of Woodville, with a
smile; "not one honest man on earth. You are too well known, for
doubts to light upon you. Does not Sir Philip, her own uncle, love you
as a son? and can you let the idle words of a knave, like this,
disturb your peace?"

"My peace, Richard!" said Sir Henry Dacre, sadly; "can a high and
honest heart ever feel peace, so long as one doubt, one unrefuted
charge, casts a cloud upon it? I would rather die a thousand deaths
than have men point at me, and say, 'he was suspected of a foul crime
against an innocent lady;' and, besides, even those that I love best,
those who hold me dearest, may often ask themselves, 'could it be
true?'"

"Not a whit!" replied Woodville: "no one will ever ask such a thing.
Like a wounded man, you think that every one will touch the spot, and
feel the pain in fancy. Cast off such imaginations, Dacre; secure in
your own honour, laugh suspicion to scorn, and trust to the noble and
the true to do justice to those who are like themselves."

"Would I could do so, Richard," said the knight; "and it would be
easy, too, did we not know that the wide world is so full of arrant
knaves, and that amongst the knaves there are such hypocrites, that
honesty has no touchstone whereby true metal can be really known from
false; and men rightly doubt the value of each coin they take, so
cunning are the counterfeits. Hypocrisy is a greater curse to mankind
than wickedness; for it makes all virtue doubted, and fills the bosoms
of the good with suspicion, from a knowledge of the feigning of the
bad. Besides, amongst those who hold a middle course, neither plunging
deep in the stream of vice and wrong, nor staying firmly on the shore
of honour, how gladly every one attributes acts to others that may
outdo the darkness of his own! No, no; suspicion never yet lighted on
a name that ever was wholly pure again. All I ask is, to give me that
man before me, let me cram the falsehood down his throat, at the
sword's point, and wring the truth from his dying lips, or let me die
myself."

"Well, we shall see what he replies," answered Richard of Woodville,
finding it useless to argue farther with him; "and if, as you suspect,
he evades the question, what think you then to do?"

"To go with you to Burgundy," answered Dacre; "for I shall be, then,
one fitted well to take a part in civil broils--a right serviceable
man, where danger is rifest, ever ready to lead the way in peril,
having nor wife, nor relative, nor friend, nor hope, nor home, to make
him feel the stroke that takes his life, more than the scratch of a
sharp thorn that tears him as he passes through the wood."

"But you will surely first return," said Woodville, "to say farewell
to my good uncle, and sweet Isabel?"

"I do not know," replied Dacre. "Dear Isabel, she tried to cheer me;
and I know would not for worlds suffer doubts of me to rest for an
hour in her heart; and yet they will come and go, Richard, whether she
will or not. Each time I take her hand she'll think of Catherine; and
though she'll answer boldly, 'it is false,' as often as suspicions
rise, yet they will be remembered, and rest for ever as a shadow over
our friendship."

"You do her wrong, Harry," answered his companion. "Your mind is
sickly; and, as a man in a sore disease, you see all things through
one pale mist. Isabel may often think of her who is no more, may
grieve for her, and regret that she did not make life happier to
herself and others, and that she met so early and so sad a death; but
she will ever call her back to mind as one who wronged you, not as one
wronged by you: and you may be happy yet."

He spoke gravely, and Sir Henry Dacre turned and gazed at him, as if
for explanation of his words; but Richard said no more; and, riding on
in silence, they soon after came to a point where the road began to
rise, winding in slowly between two wooded hills, with a small
streamlet flowing on by its side. The sun was sinking below the
horizon, as they passed through a village, with the bright
blacksmith's forge jutting out beyond the other buildings; and when at
length they drew the rein before the gate of a tall house bosomed in
trees, it was well nigh dark.

Several servants came instantly into the court; and, giving their
horses to be taken to the stable, the two gentlemen entered the outer
hall, and thence proceeded onwards to a room beyond, where they were
immediately joined by a stout man, habited as a courier, who placed a
letter in the hand of Sir Harry Dacre, without speaking.

"So thou art back, Martin," said the knight, while Richard of
Woodville called for lights.

"Yes, noble sir," answered the servant; "but I have had to ride hard,
for he kept me a long time; but that I don't wonder at."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Sir Henry; "why should he keep you long?"

"Because he wrote a long letter, sir," replied the man; "he might have
waited till doomsday, if he had been in my place, and I in his."

"Did he look ill?" inquired the knight.

"Not he, sir," answered the servant; "he was out gosshawking after
larks when I arrived."

"The liar!" muttered Sir Henry Dacre; but at the same moment lights
were brought in, and making the messenger a sign to retire, the knight
opened the letter and read. Richard of Woodville stood by and watched
him, while his fine features, as he gazed intently upon the paper,
assumed first a look of scorn, and then of anger; and at length he
exclaimed, "As I thought, Richard!--as I thought! On my life, I must
be an astrologer, and not know it, to have read this man's conduct to
the letter, beforehand. Mark what he says: 'Sir Simeon of Roydon
brings no charge against Sir Henry Dacre, and never has brought any;
but holds him as good knight and true. He has, therefore, no cause of
quarrel with the said knight, but, far from it, wishes him all
prosperity; the which Sir Henry would have clearly seen, if he had
read carefully the letter which Sir Simeon wrote to the good knight of
Dunbury, and had not looked at it rashly. Therein Sir Simeon thought
to do Sir Henry Dacre an act of love and courtesy, by pointing out--he
himself nought doubting--what might breed doubts in the hearts of
other men, regarding the manner of the death of the Lady Catherine
Beauchamp, in order that the good knight might make such inquiries as
would remove all suspicion. For this cause he marked what he had only
learned by hear-say, that Sir Henry Dacre had, as unhappily often
happened, a fierce quarrel with the Lady Catherine, about a gentleman,
it would seem, calling himself Hal of Hadnock----' Curses upon him!"
cried Dacre, breaking off.

"Nay, nay, you do him wrong," answered Richard of Woodville; "he
sought but to serve you, as I will tell you anon, Harry. But read on.
What says he more?"

"'That Sir Harry quitted the hall in bitter anger,'" continued
Dacre, reading, "'and swearing he should go mad with the lady's
conduct----' Did I say so?"

Woodville nodded his head, and his friend proceeded: "'That the said
Sir Henry, though his house is distant but seven miles, did not reach
his own door till the hour of nine, and that the lady came by her
death between seven and eight, or thereabout; that Sir Henry's hand
was torn when he reached his house; and that there was a stain of
blood upon the lady's throat; that there were marks of horses' feet on
the opposite side of the river, and across the moor towards Sir
Henry's dwelling; and that he himself was seen of many persons
wandering about near Abbot's Ann and Dunbury, till dark that night;
all of which points Sir Simeon of Roydon doubted not, in any way,
could be easily explained by Sir Henry Dacre, if true--but which,
perchance, were untrue he, Sir Simeon, having heard them merely from
vague report and common fame!' Some true, some false," cried Dacre. "I
did tear my hand, opening the gate by Clatford mill. I did wander
about, with a heart on fire, and a brain all whirling, at being made
wretched by another's fault; but I was far from the village, far from
Abbey and Hall, before the sun went down; for I saw him set from
Weyhill.--Ah! poisonous snake! He stings and glides away from the heel
that would crush him. Hear how he ends: 'For his own part, Sir Simeon
of Roydon is right well convinced that Sir Henry Dacre is pure and
free of all share in the lady's death; otherwise that knight might be
full sure he would be the first to call him to the lists, in vengeance
of his cousin's death.' The scoundrel coward! But how is this,
Richard? He must have spies in our houses--at our hearths. How else
did he gain such tidings? Who told him of the quarrel between that
hapless girl and me? He was gone long before, I think?"

"Ay, but his servants stayed," replied Woodville; "and there was one
in the hall when you returned; that black-looking, silent man. Yet he
must have some other means of information, too; else how did he know
your hand was torn?"

"I cannot say," answered Dacre, thoughtfully. "By heaven! he will
plant suspicion in my heart, too, and make me doubt the long-tried,
faithful fellows I have with me." And he cast himself gloomily on a
seat, and pondered in silence.

The moment after, there was a sound of horses' feet passing along
before the house, and Richard of Woodville turned and listened,
saying, "Here is some new messenger. Were it any of my own people,
they would come to the other gate."

After some talking in the hall without, an attendant opened the door,
and informed his young master that there was a person without who
desired to see him. "He comes from Westminster," added the man, "and
will give neither message nor letters to any but yourself, sir."

"Let him come in!" answered Richard of Woodville; and a personage was
called forward, habited somewhat differently from any of those whom we
have already had occasion to describe. He was dressed in what is
called a tabard; but it must not be supposed, from that circumstance,
that he bore the office of either herald or pursuivant, for many other
classes retained that part of the ancient dress, and it was officially
worn by the squires, and many of the inferior attendants of kings and
sovereign princes, sometimes over armour, sometimes without. In
particular cases, the tabard was embroidered either with the arms of
the lord whom the bearer served, or with his own, as a sort of coat of
arms; but was frequently, especially with persons of somewhat low
degree, perfectly unornamented, and formed of a fine cloth of a
uniform colour. Such was the case with the man who now appeared--his
loose, short gown, with wide sleeves, being of a bright pink hue. The
linen collar of his shirt fell over it; and the part of his dress left
exposed below the knee, showed nothing but the riding boots of
untanned leather, drawn up to their full extent. In person, he was a
short, thin young man, with a shrewd and merry countenance. His hair
was cut short round the whole head, but left thick, notwithstanding,
so as to resemble a fur cap, and his long arms reached his knees.
Without uttering a word, he advanced towards Richard of Woodville, who
had taken a step forward to receive him, and drawing a packet from the
bosom of his tabard, he placed it in the gentleman's hand.

"From Hal of Hadnock, I suspect?" said Woodville, looking at him
closely.

"Nay, I know not," replied the messenger; "from Hal, certainly; yet no
more Hal of Hadnock, than of Monmouth, or Westminster, or any other
town of England or Wales. Read, and you will see."

Richard of Woodville tore open the outer cover, and took forth several
broad letters, tied and sealed. The first he opened, and drawing near
the light, perused its contents attentively.

"Hal of Hadnock," so it ran, "to Richard of Woodville, greeting. Good
service requires good service, and honour, honour. Thus you shall
find, my comrade of the way, that I have not forgotten you, though
matters of much moment and some grief have delayed a promise, not put
it out of mind. You, too, have doubtless had much cause for thought
and sorrow, and may, perchance, have yet affairs to keep you in the
realms of England; which being the case, I do not require that you
should lay aside things of weight, to bear the enclosed to the noble
Duke of Burgundy, or his son, and to the faithful servant of this
crown, Sir Philip Morgan, now at the court of Burgundy; but the letter
addressed to Sir John Grey, at Ghent, is of some importance to
himself, and should find his hands as speedily as may be. If,
therefore, by any chance, you be minded to stay in England more than
fourteen days from the receipt of these, return that packet by the
bearer, one Edward Dyram. But, if you be ready to cross the seas ere
then, keep the messenger with you in your company, as I believe him to
be faithful and true, and skilled in many things; and he knoweth my
mind towards you, which is good. Neither be offended at speech or jest
of his, for he hath a licence not easily bridled; but so long as he
useth his tongue for his own conceit, so long will he use his
knowledge for a friend or master. I give him to you; treat him well
till you return him to me again; and if there be aught else that can
serve you or do you grace, seek me at Westminster, where you will find
a friend in          Henry."


Richard of Woodville pondered, but testified no surprise; and, after a
moment's thought, put the letter in the hand of Sir Henry Dacre, who
read it through, with more apparent wonder than his friend had
expressed. "And who is this?" he asked, when he had done. "He signs
himself, Henry. Can it be the Prince?"

"The Prince that was, the King that is," replied Woodville, giving him
a sign to say no more before the messenger. "And so, my friend, you
are to be my companion over sea?" he added, turning to the latter.

"That is as you will, not as I will," replied the man; "if you are
fool enough to quit England in a fortnight, when you can stay a month,
I am to go with you; if you are wise enough to stay, I am wise enough
to go alone."

"Ten days, I hope, at farthest, shall see my foot on other shores,"
answered Woodville; "and pray, Master Edward Dyram, what may be your
capacity, quality, or degree? for 'tis fit that I should know who it
is goes with me."

"Ned Dyram, fair sir, by your leave," replied the messenger; "'tis so
long since I lost the last half of my first name, that I know it not
when I meet it; and I should as much expect my mother's ass to answer
me, if I called him Edward, as I should answer to it myself. Then, as
to my capacity, it is large enough to hold any man's secrets without
spilling them by the way, or to contain the knowledge of a knight, a
baron, and squire, besides a clerk's and my own, without running over.
My chief quality is to tell truth when I like it, and other men do
not; and my degree has never been taken yet, though I lived long
enough with a doctor of Oxford to have caught that sickness, had it
been infectious."

"I fear me, Ned Dyram," said Richard of Woodville, smiling, "I shall
lose much time with you, in getting crooked answers to plain
questions; but if you have puzzled your own brains with logic, puzzle
not mine."

"Well, well, sir," answered the other, "I will be brief, for I am
hungry, and you are tired. I am the son of a Franklin, who broke his
heart to make me a clerk. I had, however, no gift for singing, and
turned my wits to other things. I can do what men can generally do,
and sometimes better than they can. I have broken a man's head one
day, and healed it the next; for I have handled a quarter-staff and
served a leech. I can cast nativities, and draw a horoscope; I can
make a horse-shoe, and sharpen a sword; I can write court hand, and
speak more tongues than my own; I can cook my own dinner, when need
be, and bake or brew, if the sutler or the tapster should fail me."

"A goodly list of qualities, indeed," said Richard of Woodville; "and
though my household is not the most princely, we will find you an
office, Ned Dyram, which you must exercise with discretion; and now,
as you are hungry, get you gone to my people, who will stop that evil.
We have supped."

The messenger withdrew; and Sir Henry Dacre returned the letter, which
he still held in his hand, to Woodville, saying, "So this was the
Prince? the more cruel in him to sport with the peace of his father's
subjects."

"Not so, Dacre," replied his friend. "I told you I could explain his
conduct; and it is but justice to him to do so; for he intended to be
kind, not cruel."

Dacre shook his head gloomily.

"Well, you shall hear," continued Woodville. "When I first brought him
to my uncle's gate, I knew not who he was; but he had scarcely entered
the hall, when I remembered him. I kept my own counsel, however, and
said nothing; but when he sought his room, I went with him as you saw,
and there for a whole hour we spoke of those we had left below. I told
him nothing, Harry; for his quick eye had gleaned the truth wherever
it turned; and I had only to set him right on some things regarding
the past. He knew you by name, and took interest in your fate as well
as mine. I would fain tell you all; but in the mood in which you are,
I fear that I may pain you."

"Speak, Dick, speak," answered the knight; "have we not been as
brothers since our boyhood, that you may not give me all your thoughts
freely? Say all you have to say. Keep nought behind, if you love me;
for I have grown as suspicious as the rest, and shall doubt if I see
you hesitate."

"Well, at all risks," said Richard of Woodville, "it is better to give
you some pain, perhaps, than to leave you with your present thoughts.
We talked, then, first of myself and Mary Markham, and then of you and
Catherine. He saw you loved her not."

"'Twas her own fault," cried Dacre: "she crushed out love that might
once have been deep and true."

"I told him so," replied Woodville; "and he asked, why, as you both
clearly wished the bond that bound you to each other loosed, you did
not apply to the Church and the law to break it? I said, what perhaps
had better not been said, but yet what I believed, that, if you
proposed it, she would not consent, for that she loved to keep you as
a captive, if not by love's chains, by any other. He fancied, Harry,
that, if that incomplete union were dissolved, you might be happy with
another--ay, with Isabel."

"Ha!" exclaimed Dacre; "ha! Have I been so careless of my looks that a
mere stranger should--" and he bent down his brow upon his hands, and
remained for a moment silent. Then looking up, he added, "Well,
Richard, I have been a fool; but was it possible to stand between a
desert and a paradise, and not regret that I could never pass the
boundary; to look into a scene of joy and peace, and not long to rest
the weary heart, and cool the aching brow in the calm groves, and
pleasant glades before me? Who would compare those two beings, and not
choose between them, in spite of fate? But what said he more?"

"He thought you might be happy," answered Woodville, "and that the
only barrier was one that he might prompt Catherine to remove herself.
For that object he humoured her caprice, and played with her light
vanity. He told me that he would; and I saw that he did so; for his
was no heart to be suddenly made captive by one such as Catherine
Beauchamp. Besides, it was clear, his words, half sweet, half sour,
were all aimed at that end; for ever and anon, when his tone was full
of courteous gallantry, some sharp jest would break through, as if he
could not keep down the somewhat scornful thoughts with which her idle
vanity moved him."

"Then I did him wrong," answered Dacre; "for had he succeeded, and led
her to propose of her own will that our betrothing should be annulled,
no boon on all the earth could have been equal to that blessing. It
has turned out sadly; yet I will not blame him; for who can tell when
he draws a bowstring in the dark where the shaft may fall? But say,
Richard, was he aware you knew his station?"

"I never told him," replied his friend; "but I think that he divined.
You see, in his letter, that he gives no explanation. But listen,
Harry; will it not be better--now that we have spoken freely on this
theme--will it not be better, I say, for you to return home, let the
first memory of these dark days pass away, and seek for happiness with
one who may well make up for all that you have suffered in the past."

"What!" cried Dacre, "with this stain upon my name? Oh, no! that dream
of joy is gone. No, no, my only course is to forget that there is such
a thing as love on earth, or to think with your friend Chaucer's lay,
that--


             '--Love ne is in yonge folke but rage,
              And is in olde folke a grete dotage,
              Who most it usith, he most shal enpaire
              For thereof cometh disese and hevinesse
              So sorrow and care, and many a grete sicknesse,
              Despite, debate, and angre, and envie,
              Depraving shame, untrust, and jelousie,
              Pride, mischefe, povertie, and wodeness.'"


"'Tis the song of the cuckoo," Harry replied Woodville; "but this sad
humour, built upon a baseless dream, will pass away when you find that
the suspicions which you now fancy in every one's heart, live but in
your own imagination; and then you will answer with the nightingale--


             'That evirmore Love his servauntes amendeth,
              And from all evil tachis them defendeth;'


but Time must do his own work; and till then, argument is of no avail.
Yet I would fain not have you lose bright days with me in foreign
lands. Happy were I if I could stay like you in hope, and lead the
pleasant summer life, beneath the lightsome looks of her whom I love
best. Think of it, Harry, think of it; and do not rashly judge that
you see clear till you have wiped the dust out of your eyes."

Dacre shook his head, and answered, "I will to rest, Richard, such as
I can find; for now that I have got this craven's reply, I have no
further business here till I join you again upon our pilgrimage. I
will away to-morrow, to prepare; but we shall meet before I go. I know
my way."



                             CHAPTER VII.

                           THE CORONATION.


Five days after the events related in the last chapter, Richard of
Woodville, leaving armourers and tailors busy in his house at Meon,
rode away for London, accompanied by two yeomen, a page, and Ned
Dyram, whose talents had not been long in displaying themselves in the
service of his new master. He had instructed the tailors; he had
assisted the armourers; he had aided to choose the horses; he had
drawn figures for fresh pallettes and pauldrons; and he had with his
own hand manufactured a superb bridle and bit, ornamented with gilt
steel plates; jesting, laughing, talking, all the while, and
overcoming the obstinacy and the vanity of the old artificers, who
would fain have equipped the young gentleman who employed them, in the
fashions of the early part of the last reign, all new inventions in
those days travelling slowly from the capital to the country. Ned
Dyram, however, had been in many lands, and had accumulated, in a head
which possessed extraordinary powers both of observation and memory,
an enormous quantity of patterns and designs of everything new or
strange, which he had seen; and sometimes with a laugh, sometimes with
an argument, he drove those who were inclined to resist all
innovation, to adopt his proposed improvements greatly against their
will. But though his tongue occasionally ran fast, and he seemed to
take a pleasure occasionally in confounding his slower opponents with
a torrent of words, yet on all subjects but those immediately before
him, he kept his own counsel, and not one of the servants of the
house, when he set out with Woodville for London, was aware of who or
what he was, whence he came, or where he had gained so much knowledge.

The first day's journey was a long one, and Richard of Woodville and
his train were not many miles from London, when they again set forth
early on the following morning, so that it was not yet noon, on the
ninth of April, when they approached the city of Westminster, along
the banks of the Thames.

Winding in and out, through fields and hedge-rows, where now are
houses, manufactories, and prisons, with the soft air of Spring
breathing upon them, and the scent of the early cowslips, for which
that neighbourhood was once famous, rising up and filling the whole
air, they came on, now catching, now losing, the view of the large
heavy abbey church of Westminster, and its yet unfinished towers of
the same height as the main building, while rising tall above it,
appeared the belfry of St. Stephen's chapel, with its peaked roof,
open at the sides, displaying part of the three enormous bells, one of
which was said (falsely) to weigh thirty thousand pounds. The top of
two other towers might also be seen, from time to time, over the
trees, and also part of the buildings of the monastery adjoining the
Abbey; but these were soon lost, as the lane which the travellers were
following wound round under the west side of Tote Hill, a gentle
elevation covered with greensward, and ornamented with clumps of oak,
and beech, and fir, amidst which might be discovered, here and there,
some large stone houses, richly ornamented with sculpture, and
surrounded with their own gardens. The lanes, the paths, the fields,
were filled with groups of people in their holiday costume, all
flocking towards Westminster; and what with the warm sunshine, the
greenness of the grass, the tender verdure of the young foliage, and
the gay dresses of the people, the whole scene was as bright and
lively as it is possible to conceive. At the same time, the loud bells
of St. Stephen's began to ring with the merriest tones they could
produce, and a distant "Hurrah!" came upon the wind.

"Now, Ned, which is the way?" asked Richard of Woodville, calling up
his new attendant to his side, as they came to a spot where the lane
divided into two branches, one taking the right hand side of the hill,
and one the left. "This seems the nearest," he continued, pointing
down the former; "but I know nought of the city."

"The nearest may prove the farthest," replied Ned Dyram, riding up,
"as it often does, my master. That is the shortest, good sooth! but
they call the shortest often the fool's way; and we might be made to
look like fools, if we took it--for though it leads round to the end
of St. Stephen's Lane, methinks that to-day none will be admitted to
the palace-court by that gate, as it is the King's coronation
morning."

"Indeed!" said Woodville; "I knew not that it was so."

"Nor I, either," answered Ned; "but I know it now."

"And how, pray?" asked his new master.

"By every sight and sound," replied Ned Dyram. "By that girl's pink
coats--by that good man's blue cloak--by the bells ringing--by the
people running--by the hurrah we heard just now. I ever put all I hear
and see together--for a man who only sees one thing at once, will
never know what time he is living in."

"Then we had better turn to the left," said Woodville, not caring to
hear more of his homily. "Of course, if this be the coronation day, I
shall not get speech of the King till to-morrow; but we may as well
see what is going on."

"To the left will lead you right," replied his quibbling companion;
"that is to say, to the great gate before the palace court; and then
we shall discover whether the King will speak with you or not. Each
Prince has his own manners, and ours has changed so boldly in one day,
that no one can judge from that which the lad did, what the man will
do."

"Has he changed much, then?" asked Woodville, riding on; "it must have
been sudden, indeed, if you had time to see it ere you left him."

"Ay, has he!" answered Dyram; "the very day of his father's death he
put on, not the robes of royalty, but the heart; and those who were
his comrades before, gave place to other men. They who counted much
upon his love, found a cold face; and they who looked for hate, met
with nought but grace."

"Then, perhaps, my reception may not be very warm," said Woodville,
thoughtfully.

"You may judge yourself, better than I can, master mine," replied Ned
Dyram. "Did you ever sit with him in the tavern, drinking quarts of
wine?"

"No," answered Richard of Woodville, smiling.

"Then you shall be free of his table," said Ned. "Did you ever shoot
deer with him, by moonlight?"

"Never," was his master's reply.

"Then you may chance to taste his venison," rejoined the man. "Did you
ever brawl, swear, and break heads for him, or with him?"

"No, truly," said the young gentleman; "I fought under him with the
army in Wales, when he and I were both but boys; and I led him on his
way one dark night, two days before his father died; but that is all I
know of him."

"Then, perchance, you may enter into his council," answered Dyram;
"for, now that he is royal, he thinks royally, and he judges man for
himself, not with the eyes of others."

"As all kings should," said Richard of Woodville.

"And few kings do," rejoined Ned. "I was not so lucky; but many a mad
prank have I seen during the last year; and though he knows, and
Heaven knows, I never prompted what others did, yet I was one of the
old garments he cast off, as soon as he put on the new ones. I fared
better than the rest, indeed, because I sometimes had told him a rough
truth; and trust I shall fare better still, if I do his bidding."

"And what may be his bidding?" asked Richard of Woodville--"for,
doubtless, he gave you one, when he sent you to me."

"He bade me live well, and forget former days, as he had forgotten
them," replied Ned Dyram; "and he bade me serve you well, master, if
you took me with you; so you have no cause to think ill of the counsel
that he gave me in your case. But here we are, master mine; and a
goodly sight it is to see."

As he spoke, they turned into the wide street, or rather road, which
led from the village of Charing to the gates of the palace at
Westminster; and a gay and beautiful scene it certainly presented,
whichever side the eye turned. To the north was seen the old gothic
building (destroyed in the reign of Edward VI.) where the royal
falcons were kept, and called from that circumstance the Mew; while, a
little in advance, upon a spot slightly elevated, stood the beautiful
stone cross, one of the monuments of undying regard, erected in the
village of Charing, by King Edward the First; to the left appeared the
buttery and lodge, and other offices of the hospital and convent of
St. James's, forming together a large pile of buildings, with gates
and arches cutting each other in somewhat strange confusion--while the
higher stories, supported by corbels, overhung the lower. The effect
of the whole, however, massed together by the distance, was grand and
striking; while the trees of the fields, then belonging to the
nunnery, and afterwards formed into a park, broke the harsher lines,
and marked the distances down the course of the wide road.

A little nearer, but on the opposite side of the way, with gardens and
stairs extending to the river, was the palace, or lodging of the Kings
of Scotland. The edifice has been destroyed--but the ground has still
retained the name which it then bore; and many years had not elapsed,
at the time I speak of, since that mansion had been inhabited by the
monarchs of the northern part of this island, when they came to take
their seats in Parliament, in right of their English feofs. Gardens
succeeded, till appeared, somewhat projecting beyond the line of road,
the old stern building which had once been the property of Hubert de
Burg, Earl of Kent, more like a fortress than a dwelling, though its
gloomy aspect was relieved by a light and beautiful chapel, lately
built on the side nearest to Westminster, by one of the Archbishops of
York.

Several smaller edifices, sometimes constructed of brick, sometimes of
grey stone, were seen on the right and left, all in that peculiar
style of architecture so much better fitted to the climate of northern
Europe, and the character of her people, than the light and graceful
buildings of the Greeks, which we imitate in the present day,
generally with such heavy impotence; and still between all appeared
the green branches of oaks, and beeches, and fields, and gardens,
blending the city and the country together.

Up the long vista, thus presented, were visible thousands of groups,
on horseback and on foot, decked out in gay and glittering colours:
and as brilliant a scene displayed itself to the south, in the wide
court before the palace, surrounding which appeared the venerable
Abbey, the vast Hall, the long line of the royal dwelling, the
monastery, the chapel of St. Stephen, with its tall belfry, and many
another tower and lofty archway, and the old church of St. Margaret,
built about a century and a half before, together with the lofty yet
heavy buildings of the Woolstaple, and the row of arches underneath.
Banners and pennons fluttering in the wind; long gowns of monks and
secular clergymen; tabards and mantles of every hue under the sun; the
robes and headdresses of the ladies and their women, and the gorgeous
trappings of the horses, catching the light as they moved hither and
thither, rendered the line from the Eleanor cross to the palace one
living rainbow; while the river, flowing gently on upon the east, was
covered with boats, all tricked out with streamers and fluttering
ribbons. Even the grave, the old, and those dedicated to seclusion and
serious thought, seemed to have come forth for this one day; and,
amongst the crowd, might be distinguished more than one of the long,
grey, black, or white gowns, with the coif and veil which marked the
nun. All seemed gay, however; and nothing was heard but laughter,
merriment, gay jests, the ringing of the bells, the sounding of
clarions, and, every now and then, the deep tone of the organ, through
the open windows of the Abbey, or a wild burst of martial music from
the lesser court of the palace.

Habited in black, as mourning for his unhappy cousin, Richard of
Woodville felt himself hardly fitted for so gay a scene; but his good
mien and courteous carriage gained him many a civil word as he moved
along, or perchance some shrewd jest, as the frank simplicity of those
days allowed.

"Where is the black man going?" cried a pert London apprentice; "he
must be chief mourner for the dead king."

"Nay, he is fair enough to look upon, Tom," replied a pretty girl by
his side. "You would give much to be as fair."

"Take care of my toes, master," exclaimed a stout citizen; "your horse
is mettlesome."

"He shall not hurt you, good sir," replied Woodville.

"Let me hold by your leg, sir squire," said a woman near, "so shall I
have a stout prop."

"Blessings on his fair, good-natured face!" cried an old woman; "he
has lost his lady, I will wager my life."

"You have not much there to lose, good mother," answered a man behind
her.

"Well, he will soon find another lady," rejoined a buxom dame, who
seemed of the same party, "if he takes those eyes to court."

"Out on it, master!" exclaimed a man who had been amusing the people
round him by bad jokes; "is your horse a cut-purse? He had his nose in
my pouch."

"Where he found nothing, I dare say," answered Woodville; and in the
midst of the peal of laughter which followed from the easily moved
multitude, he made his way forward to the gates, where he was stopped
by a wooden barrier drawn across and guarded by a large posse of the
royal attendants, habited in their coats of ceremony.

"What now?--what now?" asked one of the jacks of office, with a large
mace in his hand, as Woodville rode up; "you can have no entrance
here, sir squire, if you be not of the King's house, or have not an
order from one of his lords. The court is crowded already. The King
will not have room to pass back."

Before his master could answer, however, Ned Dyram pushed forward his
horse, and addressed the porter, saying, in a tone of authority, "Up
with the barrier, Master Robert Nesenham. 'Tis a friend of the King's,
for whom he sent me--Master Richard of Woodville--you know the name."

"That's another affair, Ned," replied the other; "but let me see, are
not you on the list of those who must not come to court?"

"Not I," replied Ned Dyram; "or if I be, you have put me on yourself,
Robin; 'tis but the other day I left his Grace upon this errand."

"Well, come in, if it be so, varlet," replied the porter, lifting the
barrier; "but if you come forbidden, the pillory and your ears will be
acquainted. How many men of you are there?--Stand back, fellows, or I
will break your pates. See, Tim, there is a fellow slipping through!
Drive him back--give him a throw--cast him over--break his neck--five
of you, that is all?--stand back, fellows, or you shall into limbo."

While the good man strove with the crowd without, who all struggled
manfully to push through the barrier when it was open, Richard of
Woodville and his followers made their way on into the court; and,
dismounting from his horse in the more open space which it afforded,
he advanced towards the passage which was kept clear by the royal
officers, between the door of the great Hall and the Abbey. At first
he was placed near a stout man, dressed as a wealthy citizen; and he
inquired of him how long the King had been in the church.

"Three parts of an hour," replied the other; "did you not hear the
shout and the bells begin to ring? Oh, it was a grand sight! There
was----" but the rest of what he said was drowned by the noise around,
aided by a loud flourish of trumpets from the Hall.

The crowd, however, was constantly changing, and swaying to and fro;
and Woodville soon found himself separated from the man to whom he had
spoken, by two or three of the secular clergy of the city, and a
somewhat coquettish-looking nun, who wore over her grey gown a blue
ribbon and a silver cross.

She turned round and looked at him with her veil up, showing a very
pretty face, and a pair of bright blue eyes. A fat monk was behind,
and a man dressed as a scrivener; but all were intent upon watching
the door of the Abbey, as if they expected the royal procession soon
to re-appear; and Woodville turned his eyes thither also. The next
moment he heard a voice pronounce his own name, and then add, "Beware
of Simeon of Roydon; and let not Henry Dacre fight with him."

Richard turned sharply round, and gazed at those behind him; but he
saw no face that he knew, but those of Ned Dyram and one of his own
men. The rest of the group in his immediate neighbourhood was composed
of two monks, another nun, a doctor of divinity in his cope, a tall
man in a surcoat of arms, and two elderly ladies with portentous
headdresses, a full half yard broad and two feet high.

It was a woman's voice, however, that he had heard, and he inquired at
once of the nearest woman, "Did you speak, lady?"

"To be sure I did," answered the good dame, in a sharp tone; "I asked
my brother what the hour is. No offence in that, sir, I suppose?"

"Oh, none, assuredly," replied Richard of Woodville; "but I thought
you mentioned my name."

"I do not know it, young sir," replied the lady; "come away, brother,
the squire is saucy;" and she and her party moved on, making a
complete change in the disposition of the group.

In vain Richard of Woodville looked beyond the little circle in which
they stood; he could see no face that he knew; and at length, turning
to Ned Dyram, he inquired if he had heard any one mention his name.

"That good dame, or some one near her certainly did," replied the man;
"but I could not see exactly who it was. It might be the other woman."

"Was she old, too?" demanded Woodville.

"Too old for your wife, and too young for your mother," answered
Ned--"somewhat on the touch of forty years."

As he spoke, there was a loud "hurrah!" from the ground adjacent to
the Abbey door; a true, hearty, English shout, such as no other nation
on the earth can give; and the royal procession was seen returning.
All pressed as near as they could; and Richard of Woodville gained a
place in front, where he waited calmly, uncovered, for the passing of
the King.

On came the train, bishops and abbots, priests and nobles, the pages,
the knights, the bearers of the royal emblems; but all eyes were
turned to one person, as--with a step, not haughty, but calm and firm,
such as might well accord with a heart fixed and confident to keep the
solemn vows so lately made, in scrupulous fidelity; with a brow
elevated by high and noble purposes, more than by the splendour of the
crown it bore; and with an eye lightening with genius and soul--Henry
of Monmouth returned towards his palace, amidst the gratulating
acclamations of his people.

Richard of Woodville saw Hal of Hadnock in the whole bearing of the
monarch, as he had seen the Prince in the bearing of Hal of Hadnock,
and he murmured to himself, "He is the same. 'Tis but the dress is
altered, either in mind or body. Excluded from the tasks of royalty,
he assumed a less noble guise; but still the man was the same."

As he thus thought, the King passed before him, looking to right and
left upon the long lines of people that bordered his way, though,
marching in his state, he distinguished no one by word or gesture. His
eyes, indeed, fixed firmly for an instant upon Richard of Woodville,
and a slight smile passed over his lip; but he went on without farther
notice; and the young gentleman turned, as soon as he had gone by,
thinking, "I will seek some inn, and come to the palace tomorrow.
To-day, it is in vain."

The pressure of the multitude, however, prevented him from moving for
some time, and he was forced to remain till the whole of the
procession had gone by. He then made his way out of the crowd, which
gradually became less compact, though few retired altogether, the
greater number waiting either to discuss the events of the day, or to
see if any other amusements would be afforded to the people; but it
was some time before the young gentleman could find his horses, for
the movements of the people had forced them from the place where they
had been left. Just as he was, at length, putting his foot in the
stirrup, Ned Dyram pulled his sleeve, saying, "There is a King's page,
my master, looking for some one in the crowd. Always give yourself a
chance. It may be you he seeks."

"I think not," replied Richard of Woodville; "but you can join him,
and inquire, if you will."

The man instantly ran off at full speed; and, though soon forced to
slacken his pace amongst the people, he in the end reached the page,
and asked for whom he was looking.

"A gentleman in black," replied the boy, "named Richard of Woodville."

"Then there he is," answered Ned, pointing with his hand to where his
master stood; and, followed by the page, he walked quickly to the
spot.

"If your name be Richard of Woodville, sir," said the boy, "the King
will see you now, while he is putting off his heavy robes and taking
some repose."

"I follow, young sir," replied Woodville; and, accompanying the page,
he turned towards the palace, while Ned Dyram, after a moment's
hesitation, pursued the same course as his master, "in order," as he
said mentally, "always to give himself a chance."



                            CHAPTER VIII.

                         THE DAY OF FESTIVAL.


Crossing through the great Hall of the palace of Westminster, where so
many a varied scene has been enacted in the course of English history,
where joy and sorrow, mirth, merriment, pageantry, fear, despair, and
the words of death, have passed for well nigh a thousand years, and do
pass still, Richard of Woodville followed the page amidst tables and
benches, serving-men, servers, guards, and ushers, till they reached a
small door at the left angle, which, when opened, displayed the first
steps of a small stone staircase. Up these they took their way, and
then, through a corridor thronged with attendants, past the open door
of a large room on the right, in which mitres and robes, crosses and
swords of state, met the young gentleman's eye, to a door at the end,
which the page opened. Within was a small antechamber containing
several squires and pages in their tabards, waiting either in silence,
or at most talking to each other in whispers. They made way for their
comrade, and the gentleman he brought with him, to pass, and,
approaching an opposite door, the boy knocked. No one answered; but
the door was immediately opened; and Richard of Woodville was ushered
into a bedchamber, where, seated in a large chair, he found the King,
attended by two men dressed in their habits of state. One of these had
just given the visitor admission; but the other was engaged in pulling
off the boots in which the monarch had walked to and from the Abbey,
and in placing a pair of embroidered shoes upon his feet instead.

"Welcome, Richard of Woodville," said Henry, as soon as he beheld him;
"so you have come to see Hal of Hadnock before you depart?"

"I have come to see my gracious Sovereign, Sire," replied Woodville,
advancing, and bending the knee to kiss his hand, "and to wish him
health and long life to wear his crown, for his own honour and the
happiness of his people."

"Nay, rise, Richard, rise," said Henry, smiling kindly; "no court
ceremonies here. And I will tell you, my good friend, that I do really
believe, there is not one of all those who have shouted on my path
to-day, or sworn to support my throne, who more sincerely wishes my
prosperity than yourself. But say, did you guess, that Hal of Hadnock
was the Prince of Wales?"

"I knew it, Sire," replied Woodville, "from the first moment you
entered my uncle's hall. I had served under your Grace's command in
Wales."

"I suspected as much," replied the monarch, "from some words you let
fall."

"I do beseech you, Sire, to pardon me," continued Richard, "if I
judged my duty wrongly; but I thought that so long as it was not your
pleasure to give yourself your own state, it was my part, to know you
only as you seemed."

"And you did right, my friend," replied the King; "but were you not
tempted to breathe the secret to any one--not even to Mary Markham?"

"To no one, Sire," answered Woodville, boldly; "not for my right hand,
would I have said one word to the best friend I had."

"You are wise and faithful, Richard of Woodville," said Henry,
gravely; "God send me many such."

"Here is the other mantle, Sire," said the attendant who was dressing
him, "will you permit me to unclasp that?"

Henry rose, and the man disengaged the royal mantle from his
shoulders, replacing it with one less heavy, while the King continued
his conversation with Woodville, after a momentary interruption,
repeating, "God send me many such; for if I judge rightly, I shall
have need of strong arms, and wise heads, and noble hearts about me.
Nor shall I fail to call for yours when I have need, my friend."

"Ah, Sire," answered Woodville, with a smile, "as far as a true heart
and a strong arm may go, I can, perhaps, serve you; but for wise
heads, I fear you must look elsewhere. I am but a singer of songs, you
know, and a lover of old ballads."

"Like myself, Richard," replied Henry; "but none the worse for that. I
know not why, but I always doubt the man that is not fond of music
'Tis, perhaps, that I love it so well myself, that I cannot but think
he who does not has some discordant principle in his heart that jars
with sweet sounds. 'Tis to me a great refreshment also; and when I
have been sad or tired with all this world's business, when my
thoughts have grown misty, or my brain turned giddy, I have sat me
down to the organ and played for a few moments till all has become
clear again; and I have risen as a man does from a calm sleep. As for
poesy, indeed, I love it well enough, but I am no poet:--and yet I
think that a truly great poet is more powerful, and has a wider
empire, than a king. We monarchs rule men's bodies while we live; but
their minds are beyond that sceptre, and death ends all our power. The
poet rules their hearts, moulds their minds to his will, and stretches
his arm over the wide future. He arrays the thoughts of countless
multitudes for battle on the grand field of the world, and extends his
empire to the end of time. Look at Homer,--has not the song of the
blind Greek its influence yet? and so shall the verse of Chaucer be
heard in years to come, long after the brow they have this day crowned
shall have mouldered in the grave."

The thoughts which he had himself called up, seemed to take entire
possession of the King, and he remained gazing in deep meditation for
a few minutes upon the glittering emblems of royalty which lay upon
the table before him, while Richard of Woodville stood silent by his
side, not venturing to interrupt his reverie.

"Well, Richard," continued the King, at length rousing himself, "so
you go to Burgundy? but hold yourself ready to join me when I have
need."

"I am always ready, now or henceforward, Sire," answered the young
gentleman, "to serve you with the best of my poor ability; and the day
will be a happy one that calls me to you. I only go to seek honour in
another land, because I had so resolved before I met your Highness,
and because you yourself pronounced it best for me."

"And so I think it still," replied Henry. "I would myself advance you,
Woodville, but for two reasons; first, I find every office near my
person filled with old and faithful servants of the crown; and, as
they fall vacant, I would place in them men who have themselves won
renown. Next, I think it better that your own arm and your own
judgment should be your prop, rather than a King's favour; and, as
yet, there is here no opportunity. Besides, there are many other
reasons why you will do well to go, in which I have not forgotten your
own best interests. But keep yourself clear of long engagement to a
foreign Prince, lest your own should need you."

"That I most assuredly w ill, Sire," answered Richard of Woodville. "I
go but to take service as a volunteer, holding myself free to quit it
when I see meet. I ask no pay from any one; and if I gain honour or
reward, it shall be for what I have done, not for what I am to do."

"You are right, you are right," said Henry; "but have you anything to
ask of me?"

"Nothing, Sire," replied the young gentleman. "I did but wish to pay
reverence to your state, and thank you for the gracious letters you
have given me, before I went;" and he took a step back as if to
retire. But Henry made a sign, saying--

"Stop! yet a moment; I have something to ask you.--Lay the gloves down
there, Surtis. Tighten this point a little, and then retire with
Baynard."

The attendants did as they were bid; and Henry then inquired, "What of
Sir Henry Dacre, and of that dark evening's work at which we were
present?"

"Dacre goes with me, Sire," replied Richard of Woodville.

"Ha!" exclaimed the King; "then were we wrong in thinking he loved the
other?"

"Not so," answered Woodville; "'tis a sad tale, Sire. He does love
Isabel, I am sure--has long loved her, though struggling hard against
such thoughts. But, as if to mar his whole happiness, that scoundrel,
Roydon, whom you saw, when informed of poor Kate's death, wrote,
though he did not come, raising doubts as to whether her fate had been
accidental."

"Doubts!" cried the King. "Do you entertain no doubts, Richard?"

"Many, Sire," answered the young gentleman; "but I never mention
doubts that I cannot justify by proof, and will not support with my
arm. But he did more; he pointed suspicion at one he knew too well to
be innocent. He called up some accidental circumstances affecting
Dacre--not as charges, indeed, but as matters of inquiry; made the
wound and left the venom, but shrunk from the result."

"And what did Dacre?" asked the King.

"Gave him the lie, Sire," replied Woodville; "called upon him to come
boldly forward, make his accusation, and support it in the lists."

"He avoided that, I'll warrant," replied Henry; "I know him, Richard."

"He did so, Sire," answered the young gentleman; "he declared he had
no accusation to bring--held Dacre to be good knight and true; but
still kept his vague insinuations forward in view, as things that he
mentions solely because it would be satisfactory to the knight himself
to clear up whatever is obscure."

"And does the Lady Isabel give any credence, then, to these cowardly
charges?" inquired the King.

"Oh! no, Sire," replied Woodville, warmly. "She has known Harry Dacre
from her infancy; and those who have, are well aware that, though
quick in temper, he is as kind as the May wind--as true and pure as
light. But Dacre is miserable. He thinks, that, henceforth, the finger
of suspicion will be pointed at him for ever; he sees imaginary doubts
and dreads in every one's heart towards him; he feels the mere
insinuation, as the first stain upon a high and noble name. It weighs
upon him like a captive's chain; he cannot break it or get free--it
binds his very heart and soul; and, casting all hope and happiness
behind him, he is resolved to go and peril life itself in any rash
enterprise that fortune may present."

"Poor man!" exclaimed Henry, "I can well understand his feelings:
but God will bring all things to light. Yet, tell me, Richard
of Woodville, do your own suspicions point in no particular
direction?--have you no doubts of any one?"

"Perhaps I have, Sire," answered Woodville; "but I will beseech your
Highness to grant me one of two things--either, to appoint a day and
hour where, in fit lists and with arms at outrance, I may sustain my
words to the death; or do not ask me to make a charge which I can
support with no other proof than my right hand."

"I understand you, Richard," said the King, "and I will ask no
farther. Your course is a just one; but I trust, and am sure, that
heaven will not witness such deeds as have been done, without sending
punishment. We both think of the same person, I know; and my eye is
upon him. Tell me, however, one thing,--does not Sir Simeon of Roydon
inherit the estates of this poor Lady Catherine?"

"He does, Sire, and is already in possession," replied Woodville.

"He is here at the court," rejoined the King, "and I shall show him
favour for her sake."

Richard of Woodville gazed at the monarch in surprise, but a slight
smile curled Henry's lip; and, although he gave no explanation of the
words which he had spoken in a grave tone, his young companion was
satisfied.

"I always love to get at the heart of a mystery," continued the King,
seeing that Richard remained silent; "and I should much like to know,
if you can tell me, what was the cause of that furious quarrel which
took place between Sir Henry Dacre and this unhappy lady, just before
he went? I fear I had some share in it."

"You were but the drop, Sire, that overflowed the cup," replied
Woodville; "it had been near the brim for several days before; but
what was said I know not. Remonstrance upon his part, and cutting
sneers on hers, as usual, I suppose; but he has never told me."

Henry mused for a moment at this reply; and then, changing the
subject, he inquired, "Is good Ned Dyram with you here in
Westminster?"

"He is in the Hall below, Sire," answered Woodville; "and a most
useful gift has he been to me already."

"A loan, Richard, a loan!" cried the King; "I shall claim him back one
of these days, after he has served you in Burgundy. You will find he
has faults as well as virtues; so have an eye to correct them. But
even now, as the country folk say, I have a mind to borrow my own
horse. I want his services for three days, if you will lend him to
me--You are not yet ready to set out?"

"Not yet, Sire," replied Woodville; "but, in one week more, I hope to
be on the sea."

"Well, then, send the man up to me, and he shall rejoin you in four
days," answered Henry; "but let me see you tomorrow, my good friend,
before you go home, for I would fain talk farther with you. It is
seldom that a King can meet one with whom he can speak his thoughts
plainly; and I find already a difference that makes me sad. Command
and obedience, arguments of state and policy, flattering acquiescence
in my opinion, whether right or wrong, praise, broad and coarse, or
neat and half concealed,--of these I can have plenty, and to surfeit;
but a friend, into whose bosom one can pour forth one's ideas without
restraint, whether they be sad or gay, is a rare thing in a court. So,
for the present, fare-you-well, Richard. You will stay here for the
banquet in the Hall, of course; and let me see you to-morrow morning,
towards the hour of eight."

Richard of Woodville, as he well might, felt deeply gratified at the
confidence which the King's words implied, and he answered, "I will
not fail, Sire, to attend you at that hour, with more gratitude for
your good opinion than any other favour. At the banquet, I will try to
find a place, and will send Ned Dyram to you. Will you receive him
now?"

"Yes, at once," replied the King; "for, good faith! these lords and
bishops who are waiting for me, will think me long. I will order you a
place below; but, mark me, Richard--if you meet Simeon of Roydon, seek
no quarrel with him; and lay my commands upon Sir Henry Dacre, that he
do not, on any pretence, again call him to the lists, without my
knowledge and consent. As to Ned Dyram, he shall rejoin you soon.
There is no way in which he may not be useful to you; for there is
scarce an earthly chance for which his ready wit is not prepared. I
met him first, studying alchemy with a poor wretch who, in pursuit of
science, had blown all his wealth up the chimney of his furnace, and
could no longer keep this boy. I found him next in an armourer's shop,
hammering at hard iron, and thence I took him. He has a thousand
qualities, some bad, some good. I think him honest; but his tongue is
somewhat too free; and that which the wild Prince might laugh at,
might not chime with the dignity of the crown. He will learn better in
your train; but at the present I have an errand for him--so send him
to me quickly."

Richard of Woodville bowed and withdrew; and, finding his way down to
the Hall, he called Ned Dyram,--who was in full activity, aiding the
royal officers to set out the tables,--and told him to go directly to
the King. The man laughed, and ran off to fulfil the command: and
about three quarters of an hour elapsed before the monarch appeared in
the hall, which by that time was nearly filled with guests, invited to
the banquet. He was followed by the train of high nobles and
churchmen, whom Woodville had seen waiting in a chamber above; and the
numerous tables, which were as many as that vast building could
contain, were soon crowded.

It would be dull to the reader, were I to give any account of a mere
ordinary event, such as a royal feast of those days--were I to tell
the number of oxen and sheep that were consumed--the capons, ducks,
geese, swans, and peacocks, that appeared upon the board. Suffice it,
that one of the royal servants placed Richard of Woodville according
to his rank; that the banquet, with all its ceremonies, was somewhat
long in passing, but that the young gentleman's comfort was not
disturbed by the sight of Simeon of Roydon, who, if he were in the
Hall, kept himself from Richard's eyes. The lower part of the chamber
was filled with minstrels, musicians, and attendants; and music, as
usual, accompanied the feast; but ever and anon, from the court before
the palace and the neighbouring streets, were heard loud shouts, and
laughter, and bursts of song, showing that the merriment and revelry
of the multitude were still kept up, while the King and his nobles
were feasting within.

Thus, when the banquet was over, the monarch gone from the Hall, and
Richard of Woodville, with the rest of the guests, issued forth into
the court, he was not surprised to find a gay and joyous scene
without, the whole streets and roads filled with people, and every one
giving himself up to joy and diversion. The gates of the court were
thrown open, the populace admitted to the very doors of the palace,
and a crowd of several hundred persons assembled round a spot in the
centre, where a huge pile of dry wood had been lighted for the august
ceremony of roasting an ox whole, which was duly superintended by half
a dozen white-capped cooks, with a whole army of scullions and
turnspits. Butts of strong beer stood in various corners; and a
fountain, of four streams, flowed with wine at the side next to the
Abbey. In one spot, people were jostling and pushing each other to get
at the ale or wine; in another, they were dancing gaily to the sound
of a viol; and further on was a tumbler, twisting himself into every
sort of strange attitude for the amusement of the spectators. Loud
shouts and exclamations, peals of laughter, the sounds of a thousand
different musical instruments playing as many different tunes, with
voices singing, and others crying wares of several sorts, prepared for
the celebration of the day, made a strange and not very melodious din;
but there was an air of festivity and rejoicing, of fun and good
humour, in the whole, that compensated for the noise and the crowd.

Richard of Woodville had given orders for his horses to be taken to an
inn at Charing, while waiting in the Hall before the banquet; and he
now proceeded on foot, through the crowd in the palace courts, towards
the gates. It was a matter of some difficulty to obtain egress; for
twilight was now coming on, and the multitude were flocking from the
sights which had been displayed in the more open road to Charing
during the last two or three hours, to witness the roasting of the ox,
and to obtain some of the slices which were to be distributed about
the hour of nine.

At length, however, he found himself in freer air; but still, every
four or five yards, he came upon a gay group, either standing and
talking to each other, or gathered round a show, or some singer or
musician. It was one constant succession of faces; some young, some
old, some pretty, some ugly, but all of them strange to Richard of
Woodville. Nevertheless, more than once he met the same merry
salutations which he had been treated to when on horseback; and, as he
paused here and there, gazing at this or that gay party, he was twice
asked to join in the dance, and still more frequently required to
contribute to the payment of a poor minstrel with his pipe or cithern.

The minstrels were not, indeed, in those days at least, a very
elevated race of beings; their poetical powers, if they ever in this
country possessed any, had entirely merged in the musical; and, though
they occasionally did sing to their own instruments, or to those of
others, the verses were generally either old ballads, or pieces of
poetry composed by persons of a higher education than themselves.

Nearly opposite the old dwelling of the kings of Scotland, Woodville's
ear caught the tones of a very sweet voice singing; and, approaching
the group of people that had gathered round, he saw an old man
playing on an instrument somewhat like, but greatly inferior to a
modern guitar, while a girl by his side, with fine features, and
apparently--for the light was faint--a beautiful complexion, dressed
in somewhat strange costume, was pouring forth her lay to the
delighted ears of youths and maidens. She had nearly finished the
song, when the young gentleman approached; and, in a moment or two
after, she went round with a cap in her hand, asking the donations of
the listeners.

Woodville had been pleased, and he threw in some small silver coin,
more than equal to all that the rest had given; and, resuming her
place by the old man's side, she whispered a word in his ear, upon
which he immediately struck his instrument again, and she began
another ditty in honour, it would appear, of her generous auditor:--


                                SONG.

              The bark is at the shore,
                The wind is in the sail,
              Fear not the tempest's roar,
                There's fortune in the gale;
              For the true heart and kind,
              Its recompence shall find,
                  Shall win praise,
                  And golden days,
              And live in many a tale.

              Oh, go'st thou far or nigh,
                To Palestine or France,
              For thee soft hearts shall sigh,
                And glory wreath thy lance;
              For the true heart and kind,
              Its recompence shall find,
                  Shall win praise,
                  And golden days,
              And five in many a tale.

              The courtly hall or field,
                Still luck shall thee afford;
              Thy heart shall be thy shield,
                And love shall edge thy sword;
              For the true heart and kind,
              Its recompence shall find
                  Shall win praise,
                  And golden days,
              And live in many a tale.

              The lark shall sing on high.
                Whatever shores thou rov'st;
              The nightingale shall try,
                To call up her thou lov'st;
              For the true heart and kind,
              Its recompence shall find,
                  Shall win praise,
                  And golden days,
              And live in many a tale.

              In hours of pain and grief,
                If such thou must endure.
              Thy breast shall know relief,
                In honour tried and pure;
              For the true heart and Kind,
              Its recompence shall find,
                  Shall win praise,
                  And golden days,
              And live in many a tale.

              And Fortune soon or late,
                Shall give the jewell'd prize;
              For deeds, in spite of fate,
                Gain smiles from ladies' eyes;
              And the true heart and kind,
              Its recompense shall find,
                  Shall win praise,
                  And golden days,
              And live in many a tale.


The song was full of hope and cheerfulness; and though the melody was
simple, as all music was in those days, it went happily with the
words. Richard of Woodville well understood, that though certainly not
an improvisation, the verse was intended for him; and feeling grateful
to the girl for her promises of success, he drew forth his purse, and
held out to her another piece of money. She stepped gracefully forward
to receive it, and this time extended a fair, small hand, instead of
the cap which she had before borne round the crowd; but just at that
moment, a party of horsemen came up at full gallop, and, as if for
sport--probably under the influence of wine--rode fiercely through the
little circle assembled to hear the song.

The listeners, young and active, easily got out of the way; but not so
the old minstrel, who stood still, as if bewildered, and was knocked
down and trampled by one of the horsemen. The girl, his companion,
with a shriek, and Richard of Woodville, with a cry of indignation,
started forward together; and the latter, catching the horse which had
done file mischief by the bridle, with his powerful arm forced it back
upon its haunches, throwing the rider to the ground with a heavy fall.
As the man went down, his hood was cast back, and Woodville beheld the
face of Simeon of Roydon. But he paused not to notice him farther,
instantly turning to raise the old man, and endeavouring to support
him. The poor minstrel's limbs had no strength, however, and fearing
that he was much hurt, the young gentleman exclaimed, "Good heaven!
why did you not get out of their way?"

The old man made no answer; but the girl replied, wringing her
hands--"Alas! he is blind!"

"Let us bear him quick to some hospital!" said Richard; "he is
stunned. Who will aid to carry him?"

"I will, sir!--I will!" answered half-a-dozen voices from the crowd;
and the old minstrel was immediately raised in the arms of three or
four stout young men, and carried towards the neighbouring nunnery and
hospital of St. James's, accompanied by his fair companion.

Woodville was about to follow, but Sir Simeon of Roydon, who had by
this time regained his saddle, thrust himself in the way, saying, in a
fierce and bitter tone--"Richard of Woodville, I shall remember this!"

"And I shall not forget it, Simeon of Roydon," replied the other,
hardly able to refrain from punishing him on the spot. "Get thee
hence! Thou hast done mischief enough!"

The knight was about to reply; but a shout of execration burst from
the people, and, at the same moment, a stone, flung from an unseen
hand, struck him on the face, cutting his cheek severely, and shaking
him in the saddle. His companions, alarmed at what they had done, had
already ridden on; and, seeing that he was likely to fare ill in the
hands of the crowd, Roydon put spurs to his horse, and galloped after
them, muttering curses as he went.

Richard of Woodville soon overtook the little party which was hurrying
on with the injured man to the lodge of the monastery, and found the
poor girl weeping bitterly.

"Alas! noble sir!" she said, as soon as she saw him, "he is dead! He
does not speak!--his head falls back!"

"I trust not--I trust not!" answered Woodville. "He is but stunned,
probably, by the blow, and will soon recover."

She shook her head mournfully; and the next moment, one of the young
men, who had taken up the old man's cithern, stepped forward before
the rest, and rang the bell at the gate of the nunnery. It was opened
instantly, and Woodville briefly explained to the porter what was the
matter.

"Bring him in here," said the old man; "we will get help. The good
prioress is skilful at such things, and brother Martin still more so;
and he is nearest, for the monk's lodging is only just below there.
Let one of the men run down and ask for brother Martin."

In the meantime, the old minstrel was brought in, and laid upon the
pallet in the porter's room; and the news of the accident having
spread, the lodge was speedily filled with nuns, having their veils
down, all eagerly inquiring what had happened.

The prioress and brother Martin appeared at the same moment; and, in
answer to their questions, Woodville explained the facts of the case;
for the poor girl, overwhelmed with grief, was kneeling by her old
companion's side, and holding a small ebony cross which she wore round
her neck to his motionless lips.

"Give us room, my child--give us room!" said brother Martin, putting
his hand kindly on her shoulder; and, having obtained access to the
pallet, he and the prioress proceeded to examine what injuries the
poor old man had received. Their search was short, however; for, after
feeling the back of the head with his hand, and then putting his
fingers on the pulse, the good monk turned round, with a grave
countenance, saying, "God have mercy on his soul; for to Him has it
gone."

The poor singer covered her eyes with her hands, and sobbed bitterly.
All the rest were silent for a moment; and then Richard of Woodville,
turning to the prioress, said, in a low voice, "I will beseech you,
lady, to see, in all charity, to this poor man's interment; and that
masses be said in your chapel for his soul. Also, if you would, like a
good Christian, take some heed of this poor girl, who is his daughter,
I suppose, I should be glad, for it may better become you than me; but
whatever expense the convent may be at, I will repay, though, Heaven
knows, I am not over rich. My name is Richard of Woodville; and
to-morrow, if you will send a messenger to me, I shall be found at the
Acorn, just beyond the Bishop of Durham's lodging. You must send
before eight, however, or after ten; for at eight I am to be with the
King."

The prioress bowed her head, saying simply, "I will," and Woodville
turned to depart; but the poor girl, who had heard his words, started
up, and catching his hand, pressed her lips upon it, then knelt by the
pallet again, and seemed to pray.

Without farther words, Woodville quitted the lodge; the porter hurried
on to open the gates, and the young gentleman went out with the people
who had borne or accompanied the poor old minstrel thither. Just as he
had reached the road, however, he heard a voice say, "Richard of
Woodville, farewell; and remember!"

He started and turned round; but though it was a female voice that
spoke, there were none but men around him; and at the same moment the
gate rolled heavily to.



                             CHAPTER IX.

                            THE SICK MIND.


We must return, dear reader, for a short time, to the scenes in which
our tale first began, and to the old hall of the good knight of
Dunbury. Richard of Woodville and Sir Henry Dacre had been absent for
two days upon their journey to another part of Hampshire, where we
have shown somewhat of their course; and Sir Philip Beauchamp sat by
the fire meditating, while his daughter Isabel, and fair Mary Markham,
were seated near, plying busily the needle through the embroidery
frame, and not venturing to disturb his reverie even by whispered
conversation. From time to time, the old man muttered a few sentences
to himself, of which the two ladies could only catch detached
fragments, such as, "They must know by this time,--Dacre could not but
do so,--I am sure 'tis for that--," and several similar expressions,
showing that his mind was running upon the expedition of his nephew
and his friend, in regard to the object of which, neither Isabel nor
Mary had received any information.

It must not be said, however, that they did not suspect anything; for
the insinuations of Sir Simeon of Roydon had been told them; and,
though neither weak nor given to fear--a knight's daughter, in a
chivalrous age--Isabel could not help looking forward with feelings of
awe, and an undefinable sinking of the heart, to the events which were
likely to follow. She fully believed that she experienced, and had
ever experienced, towards Sir Henry Dacre, but one class of
sensations--regard for his high character and noble heart, and pity
for the incessant grief and anxiety which her cousin's conduct had
brought upon him from his early youth. But such feelings are very
treacherous guides, and lead us far beyond the point at which they
tell us they will stop. With her, too, they had had every opportunity
of so doing, for she trusted to them in full confidence. Hers had been
the task, also, of soothing and consoling him under all he had
suffered--a dangerous task, indeed, for one young, kind, gentle, and
enthusiastic, to undertake towards a man whom she admired and
respected. But then, they had known each other from infancy, she
thought; they had grown up together like brother and sister, and the
tie between them had only been brought nearer by the betrothing of
Dacre to her cousin.

Had a doubt ever entered into Isabel's mind, since Catherine's death,
it may be asked, in regard to her own feelings towards Dacre? Perhaps
it might; but, if so, it had been banished instantly; and she looked
upon the very thought as a wrong to her own motives. She would never
suffer such a thing, she fancied, to trouble her again. "Dacre had
loved Catherine--surely he had loved her; and yet--" but fresh doubts
arose; and Isabel, willing to be blind, still turned to other
meditations.

Mary Markham, on the other hand, with less cause for anxiety, and no
motive for shutting her eyes, saw more clearly, and judged more
accurately. She knew that Isabel Beauchamp loved Harry Dacre, and
believed she had loved him long; though she did her full justice, and
was confident that her fair companion was as ignorant of what was in
her own bosom, as of the treasures beneath the waves. But Mary felt
certain that such was not the case with Dacre in regard to his own
sensations. She had marked his eye when it turned upon Isabel, had
seen the faint smile that came upon his lip when he spoke to her, and
had observed the struggle which often took place, when inclination led
him to seek her society, and the thought of danger and of wrong held
him back--a struggle in which love had been too often victorious. She
doubted not, that he was gone to call upon Simeon of Roydon to come
forward with proof of his charges, or to sustain them with the lance;
and, though she entertained little doubt of the issue of such a
combat, if it took place, she felt grieved and anxious both for Isabel
and Dacre.

There are some men whose native character, notwithstanding every
artifice to conceal it, will penetrate through all disguises, and
produce sensations which seem unreasonable, even to those who feel
them without being able to trace them to their source. Such a one was
Sir Simeon of Roydon. He had never been seen by any of Sir Philip
Beauchamp's family to commit any base or dishonest act; and yet
there was not one in all that household, from the old knight to the
horse-boy, who did not internally believe him to be capable of every
crafty knavery. His insinuations, therefore, in regard to Sir Henry
Dacre, passed by as empty air, at least for the time; but all had,
nevertheless, a strong conviction on their minds, that the doubts he
had attempted to raise would rankle deep in the heart of their unhappy
object, and poison the whole course of his existence, unless some
fortunate event were to bring to light the real circumstances of poor
Catherine Beauchamp's death.

The whole party, then, were in a sad and gloomy mood; and even the
gay, young spirit of Mary Markham was clouded, as they sat round the
fire in the great hall, on one of those April evenings when, after a
day of summer sunshine, chilly winter returns with his fit companion,
night.

As they were thus seated, however, each busy with his own thoughts,
the sound of horses' feet in the court was heard, and, in a minute
after, Dacre himself entered. He mounted the steps at the end of the
pavement with a slow pace, and every eye was turned to his countenance
to gather some indication from his look of the state of mind in which
he returned. The old knight rose and grasped his hand, asking, in a
low voice, "What news, Harry? Nay, boy, you need not strive to conceal
it from me--I know what you went for. Will the slanderer do battle?"

"No, my noble friend," replied Dacre; "he is coward, too, as well as
scoundrel. There is his craven answer; you may read it aloud. The
matter is now over, and that hope is gone."

"You should not have done this, Harry, without consulting me," said
Sir Philip; "I have some experience in such things. At the very last
that was fought between any two gentlemen of rank and station, I was
judge of the field, and know right well what appertains to knightly
combat."

"Of that I was full sure," answered Dacre, pressing his hand; "and to
you I should have applied for counsel and aid, as soon as I had
brought him to the point; but I thought it best to be silent till that
was done. I was vain, perhaps, Sir Philip, to think that these dear
ladies might take some interest in such a matter--might feel anxious
even for me; and though I knew that they would have seen me go forth,
with satisfaction, in defence of my honour, and would have bade God
speed me on my course, yet it was needless to speak of what was to
come, till it did come--and you will see, that it is to be never."

"Read it, Hal--read it," said the knight; "my eyes are old."

Sir Henry Dacre read the letter, the contents of which we have already
seen, and Sir Philip Beauchamp and Mary Markham commented freely
thereon, marking well its baseness and its craft; but Isabel remained
silent; and, looking down at her embroidery, her bright eyes let fall
a tear. Many emotions mingled to produce that drop; she felt to her
heart's core how bitter it must be to live with such a doubt hanging
over us for ever, like a dark cloud; and the repeated mention of
Catherine's name called back to her mind, in all its freshness, the
memory of her cousin's sad fate; and she was led on to think, too, how
happy the wayward girl might have been, if she had but known the
advantages which Heaven had granted her.

Dacre saw the tear, and marked the silence, and read neither quite
aright; for, with a wounded spot in the heart, the lightest touch will
give torture. He sat down with the rest, however; he strove to cast
off some of his gloom; he told of his journey with Richard of
Woodville; and informed the old knight that his late guest, Hal of
Hadnock, was now King of England; but, while Sir Philip laughed
heartily, and called his sovereign "a mad-headed boy," his young
friend relapsed into deep meditation, and the black thought, that he
must be for ever a doubted and suspected man, again took possession of
his mind.

The next morning, when he rose, he was more cheerful. Sleep, which had
visited his eyelids only by short glimpses for the last week, had,
this night, stayed with him undisturbed; and, what seemed to him more
extraordinary still, sweet dreams had come with slumber, giving him
back the happiness of former days. He had seemed a boy again, and had
wandered with Isabel Beauchamp through the woods and fields around;
had heard the birds sing on the spray, and watched the fish darting
through the stream. Summer and sunshine had been round their path, and
that misty splendour, which only is seen in the visions of the night,
as if poured forth from some secret source in the heart of man when
the pressure of all external things is taken away--a slight
indication, perhaps, of the adaptation of his spirit to the enjoyments
of a brighter world than this. He slept longer than usual; and, when
he rose, he found the old knight and his daughter in the hall.

"I am going down, Harry," said Sir Philip, "to settle a difference
between some of the monks and Roger Dayley, of Little Ann, about his
field. I shall find you when I come back."

"Nay, I will go with you, noble friend," answered Dacre; "I wish to
see my good Lord Abbot."

"That you cannot do, unless you ride to London," replied the old
knight; "he went yesterday morning early to attend the King's
coronation. Stay with Isabel and Mary. I will be back soon."

It was too tempting a proposal to be refused; and while Sir Philip,
with a page carrying his heavy sword, walked down to the Abbey, Dacre
remained with Isabel alone in the hall. They watched her father from
the door till he entered the wood, and then turning, walked up and
down the rush-covered pavement for several minutes without speaking.
Dacre's heart was full of anxious thoughts; and though he much wished
to fathom the feelings of Isabel's heart, and discover some ground for
future hope, yet he dreaded to find all his fears verified; and the
words trembled at the gate of speech without obtaining utterance.
Isabel, however, was more confident in herself, and less conscious of
her own sensations; she saw and grieved at the state of Dacre's mind,
and longed to give him comfort and consolation as in days of yore.
Finding, then, that he did not begin upon the subject of his cares and
sorrows, she resolved to do so herself; and after a pause, during
which she felt agitated, and hesitated she knew not why, she said, "I
am glad to speak with you alone, Harry; for I see you are very, very
sad, and I would fain persuade you to take comfort."

"Oh, many things make me thus sad, dear Isabel," replied the knight,
with a faint smile; "but I will try to do better with time."

"Nay, Harry," she answered; "you cannot conceal the cause of your
sadness from me. I have known you from my childhood, too well not to
understand it all. You were ever jealous too much of your fame; and
now I know, because this false, bad man has insinuated things that
never entered your thoughts, you fancy people will suspect you."

"And will they not, Isabel?" asked Dacre. "I should not say, perhaps,
_suspect_ me; for suspicion is a more fixed and tangible thing than
that which I fear; but will there not be doubts, coming in men's mind
against their will, and against their reason? Will they not, from time
to time, when they think of Henry Dacre, and this sad history, and
these dark scandals--will they not ask themselves, What, if it were
really so?"

"Oh! no, no! Harry," replied his fair companion, warmly; "none will
think so who know you--none will think so at all, but the base and
bad, who are capable of such acts themselves."

"Indeed, Isabel!" said Dacre. "And is such really your belief? You
know not how suspicion clings, dear lady. If you stain a silken
garment, can you ever make it clear and glossy, as once it was? and
the fame of man or woman is of a still finer and frailer texture.
There, one spot, one touch, lasts for ever."

With kind and tender words, and every argument that her own small
experience could afford, Isabel Beauchamp tried to reassure him; and
she succeeded at least in one thing--in convincing him so far of her
full confidence in his honour, that he was on the eve of putting it to
the strongest test. The acknowledgment of his love hung upon his lips,
and, if then spoken, might perchance, in her eagerness to prove her
conviction of his innocence, have been met with that warm return,
which would have brought the best balm to his heart, although the
first effect upon her might have been agitation and alarm. But ere he
could utter the words on which his fate depended, Mary Markham joined
them, and he waited for another opportunity. Dacre returned to his own
house at night; but every day he went over to the hall, his mood
varying like a changeful morning, sometimes sunny with hope and
temporary forgetfulness, sometimes all cloud and gloom, when memory
recalled the suspicions that had been pointed at him. Those
suspicions, too, were frequently recalled to his mind even by his own
acts, for he eagerly strove to discover by whose instrumentality his
whole course, on the unfortunate night of poor Catherine Beauchamp's
death, had been conveyed to Sir Simeon of Roydon. But by so doing, he
only fretted his own spirit, and gained no information; whoever was
the spy, he remained concealed.

Three or four days were thus passed before he obtained any second
opportunity of speaking with Isabel alone; but, on his arrival at the
dwelling of Sir Philip Beauchamp, on the morning of the 9th of April,
he was told by a servant whom he found in the hall, that the family
had gone forth into the park; and, following immediately, he found
Isabel sitting under the trees, without companions. She seemed to have
been weeping, and it was a pleasant task for Dacre to strive to
console her who had so often been his own comforter.

"There are tears in your eyes, dear Isabel," he said, as she rose
gracefully to meet him. "What has grieved you?"

"Have you not seen my father?" asked the lady. "Do you not know that
our dear Mary is going to leave us? She goes to London to-day, and he
goes with her so far."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the knight; "that is very sudden."

"And very sad," answered Isabel; "the hall will be melancholy enough
without her now--I cannot but weep, and shall never cease to regret
her going."

"Nay, nay; time will bring balm, dear Isabel," answered Dacre. "You
have often told me so."

"And have you believed me, Harry?" answered the lady, with a faint and
almost reproachful smile; "even last night, you were more sad and
grave than ever."

"Ay, but this is a different case," replied Dacre; "one can lose a
friend--ay, even by death; one can lose anything more easily than
honour and renown."

"But the loss of yours is only in your own fancy, Dacre," she
answered. "Who believes this charge, that Simeon of Roydon dares to
hint, but not to avow? Whom has it affected? In whom do you see a
change? Surely not in my father; surely not in me."

"No, assuredly, Isabel," he said, after thinking for a while; "but as
yet I have had no occasion to make the trial. Hearken, and I will put
a case. Suppose, dear Isabel, that I were to love; suppose the lady
that I loved had heard this tale; suppose that she had loved me well
before, and at her knee I were now to crave the blessing of her hand;
would not a doubt, would not a hesitation cross her mind? Would she
not ask herself--"

"Oh, no!" cried Isabel; but Dacre went on, not suffering her to
conclude.

"You put it not fully to your own heart, dear Isabel," he said.
"Suppose you were that lady--suppose that all Harry Dacre's hopes and
happiness for life were staked on your reply; suppose that to you, who
have so often consoled him in affliction, calmed him in anger, soothed
him in anxiety, he were to say, 'Isabel, will you be my comforter
through life, the star of my existence, the recompence for all I have
suffered?' would not one thought--"

Isabel trembled violently, and her cheek turned ashy pale.

"It is enough," said Dacre, with a quivering lip; "I am answered! That
memory could never be banished from your heart. It is enough!"

"Oh, no, no!" cried Isabel; but, as will almost always happen when a
word may make all clear, an interruption came; before she could go on,
good old Sir Philip Beauchamp was seen upon the steps of the house,
waving them to come back, with a loud "Halloo!"

They both turned, and walked towards the hall in silence. Isabel would
fain have spoken, but agitation overpowered her. She wished that
Dacre, by a single word, would give her an opportunity of reply; but
his over-sensitive heart was convinced of her feelings--reading them
all wrong; and he would not force her to speak what he thought must be
painful for her to utter, and for him to hear. Twice she made up her
mind to explain, but twice her heart failed her at the moment of
execution; and it was not till they were within a few steps of the
place where her father stood, that she could say, in a low voice, "You
are mistaken, Harry; indeed you are mistaken!"

He shook his head with a bitter smile, and walked on in silence.



                              CHAPTER X.

                         THE MINSTREL'S GIRL.


At the hour appointed by the King, Richard of Woodville arrived at the
palace, and was at once introduced to Henry's presence. The monarch
was now quite alone, and seemed in a more cheerful, a less meditative
mood, than the day before. "Well, Richard," he said, "how sped you
last night? you found room in hall, and a place at board, I trust?"

"I did, Sire," replied Woodville; "and so long as I was here 'twas
well; but as I returned homeward to my hostel, I saw that done which
grieved me, and would grieve your Highness, too, were it told."

"Speak it, speak it," said the King; "I am now in that station where
every day I must hear that which offends my ear, if I would perform
the first duty of a king, and render justice to my people. What is
this you saw?"

Briefly and accurately Richard of Woodville, as he had previously
determined, related to the monarch the facts attending the death of
the old minstrel, by the brutal act of Sir Simeon of Roydon, and his
companions; and he could see Henry's brow gather into a heavy frown,
and his cheek flush. When he had done, the King rose from his chair,
before he spoke, and walked twice across the small chamber in which
the young gentleman had found him.

"This is bad," he said at length; "this is bad; but I must not
interfere with the course of law. The matter will be inquired into, of
course. If the law should not punish the offence, I might myself
inflict some chastisement, and, by banishing this man from my court
and presence, mark my indignation at his rash contempt of human life
and suffering, to call it nothing worse. But I have other views,
Richard; and if I must strike, I would have it effectually."

"I do not understand you, Sire," replied Woodville, seeing that the
King paused.

"No, perhaps not," said Henry; and then falling into a fit of musing
again, he remained for more than a minute with his eyes fixed upon the
ground. "Call me a page," he continued, at length; "I will see this
Sir Simeon of Roydon."

Richard of Woodville obeyed; and when the boy appeared, Henry directed
him in the clear brief words, with which even trivial orders are given
by men of powerful and accurate minds, to inquire of the sergeant of
the gates where Sir Simeon of Roydon was to be found, and then to
summon him immediately to his presence.

"He shall make some compensation to the old man's daughter, or whoever
she is, whatever the law may say," the King continued, turning to his
companion, after having spoken to the page: "but tell me, Richard, was
this the only adventure you met with yesterday? Ned Dyram told me,
that some one had spoken to you by name in the crowd, bidding you not
to let poor Dacre do battle with Simeon of Roydon,--she anticipated my
commands, it would seem."

"She did so, truly, Sire," replied Woodville; "but I could never
discover who it was, though she again spoke to me at the gates of the
convent as I came out."

"It is very strange," said the King; "did you not know the voice?"

"It seemed somewhat disguised," answered the young gentleman; "but
still it was clearly a woman's voice; and there were tones in it not
unfamiliar to my ear, yet not sufficiently strong on recollection to
enable me in any way to judge who spoke."

"Have we got fairies amongst us, even in Westminster?" asked the
monarch, laughing. "Well, my good friend, you have nothing to do but
obey your fair monitor."

"In that I shall not fail, Sire," replied Richard; "for I shall have
no cause to prevent or encourage Dacre--Simeon of Roydon will take
good heed to that. But I trust neither the lady nor your Highness will
forbid my chastising this man myself, if need should be; for, as I
have told you, Sire, I cast him from his horse last night, before his
comrades; and he will seek revenge in some shape, I am sure."

"To defend himself is every man's right," replied the King; "but I
must insist, that no arranged encounter takes place between you and
Sir Simeon of Roydon, without your sovereign's consent." The King
spoke sternly, almost harshly; but he added a moment after, in a mild
and familiar tone, "The truth is, Richard, that I have resolved, as
much as possible, to put a stop, both to the trial by battle and
combats at outrance between my subjects. The blood of Englishmen is
too precious to their King and their country to be shed so frequently
as it has hitherto been in private quarrels. The evil is increasing;
and if it be not stayed, a time will come when every idle jest will be
the subject of a combat, and the man of mere brute courage will
venture upon any wrong he chooses to do another, because he values his
life less than his neighbour. Such a state shall never grow up under
me. The day may not be far distant when, in defence of the rights of
this crown, I shall give every English gentleman an opportunity of
displaying his valour and his skill; but, till then, I will hold a
strong hand over quarrelsome folks. As a last resource for honour
really wounded, or, under the sanction of the law, for the judgment of
God in dark cases which human wisdom cannot decide, I may consent that
an appeal be made to the lance; but not till every other means has
been tried. Such is my resolution. Let that suffice you. I know you
will obey; and in the court of Burgundy, if I hear right, you will
have plenty of occasions, should you be too full of blood, to shed it
freely. I have wished to give you some gift, my friend," he continued,
in a tone of kindly condescension; "but for the present, I can think
of nothing better than this."

He took a ring from his finger, and held it out to the young gentleman
who stood beside him, adding, "Take it, Richard; wear it always; and
when you look upon it, think of Hal of Hadnock. But should you at any
time seek aught of the King of England, seal your letter with that
ring, and I will open and read the contents myself, and immediately.
It shall go hard, but I will grant you your boon, if it be such as the
Richard of Woodville whom I know, is likely to request. So, farewell,
and God speed you, and lead you to honour."

Richard of Woodville knelt, and kissed the gracious Prince's hand; and
then, retiring from his presence, sped back to his inn without
adventure.

All traces of the last day's festival had disappeared; the citizens
had resumed their usual occupations; the artisan had gone to his work,
the merchant to his warehouse, the tradesman to his stall, the monk to
his cloister, the priest to his chapel or his church. The streets,
though there was many a passenger hurrying to and fro, seemed almost
empty, by comparison; and a scene that was in itself gay, looked dull
from the want of all the glitter and pageantry of the preceding
afternoon.

The inn, called the Acorn, at which Richard of Woodville had taken up
his abode, was a low building, in what we still term the Strand,
between the Cross at Charing and a very small monastery, which was
soon after attached to the abbey of Roncesvalles in Navarre, and
acquired the name of Roncêvaux. The entrance to the Acorn was a tall
dark arch, and as soon as Richard of Woodville rode in, followed by
his two attendants--for Ned Dyram he had not seen since the day
before--the host presented himself, saying, with a low reverence and a
smile, "There has been a fair maid seeking you, noble sir. There have
been tears in her eyes, too, full lately. I hope you are not a
faithless squire, to make the pretty maiden weep."

"Poor thing, she has good cause," answered Woodville, gravely. "She is
the poor old man's daughter, I suppose, who was killed by the horses
last night. When did she say she would return?"

"She is here now! she is here now!" cried the host's wife, from
within. "How can you be such a fool, Jenkyn! I took her in till the
noble gentleman returned. I knew she was no light o' love, but only
came from foreign lands."

"I never said she was, good wife," replied her husband. "Shall I bring
her up, sir, to your chamber?"

"No," answered Richard; "it wants an hour of dinner yet; let her come
with me to the hall, if it be vacant."

"That it is, discreet sir," replied the host. "Now, I warrant you," he
continued, murmuring to himself, as he walked away to call the poor
girl to her kind benefactor, "he has got some lady love himself, and
fears it should come to her ears, were he to entertain a pretty maiden
in his own chamber."

Perhaps some such thought might pass through Richard of Woodville's
mind; but certainly it would never have entered therein, had it not
been for the host's first suspicion; and he would have received the
poor girl in his own room without hesitation, though the minstrels of
that day and their followers were generally a somewhat dissolute and
licentious race. It has happened strangely, indeed, in all ages, that
those who follow, as their profession, the sweetest of arts, music,
which would seem intended to elevate and purify the mind and heart,
should be so frequently obnoxious to the charge of immoral life; but
so it has been, alas, though difficult to account for.

Finding his way through one or two long ill-lighted passages, Richard
of Woodville opened the door of the room appropriated to the daily
meals of the guests and their host, and had not long to wait for the
object of his compassion. She was not dressed in the same manner as
the night before, but still, her garb was singular. A bright red
scarf, which had been twined through her black hair, was no longer
there; and the rich, luxuriant tresses, were bound plainly round her
head, which was partially covered also by a hood of simple gray cloth.
The rest of her apparel was white, except at the edge of the
petticoat, which came not much below the knee, and was bordered by two
bands of gold lace. Her small, delicate ankles, as fair as alabaster,
were, nevertheless, without covering; and her feet were clothed in
small slippers of untanned leather, trimmed and tied with gold.

Bending down her beautiful head as she entered, she said, "I have come
to thank you, noble sir."

"Nay, no thanks, my fair maiden," answered Woodville, placing a stool
for her to sit, as the host retired. "I did but what any Christian and
gentleman ought to do; so, say not a word of that. But I am glad you
have come, for I wish much to hear more of you, and to know what will
become of you now."

"Ah! what, indeed?" said the girl, casting down her eyes, which had
before been fixed upon the young gentleman's countenance.

"Have you no friends, no home, to which you can go?" asked Woodville.

"In this country, no friends that would receive me--no home that would
be open to me," replied the girl, the tears rolling over the long
black lashes, and trickling down her cheek. "I am not given to yield
to sorrow thus," she added; "had I been, it would have crushed me long
ago. But this last blow has been heavy; and, like a reed beaten down
by the storm, I shall not raise my head till the sun shines again."

"But you are of English birth?" inquired Richard of Woodville; "if
not, you speak our tongue rarely."

"Oh, yes! I am English," she cried, eagerly; "English in heart, and
spirit, and birth; but yet, my mother was from a distant land."

"And was that poor old man your father?" demanded her companion;
"come, let me hear something of your former life, that I may think
what can be done for the future."

The girl evidently hesitated; she coloured, and then turned pale; and
Richard of Woodville began to fear that, in the interest he had taken
in her, he had been made the fool of imagination. "She is probably
like the rest," he thought; "and yet, her very shame to speak it,
shows that she has some good feelings left."

But, while he was still pondering, the girl exclaimed, clasping
her hands, "Oh, yes! I am sure I may tell you. You are not one
who--whatever might be his errors--would deprive a poor old man of
blessed ground to rest in, or the prayers of good men for his soul."

"Not I, indeed," replied the young gentleman; "methinks, we have no
right to carry justice or punishment beyond the grave. When the spirit
is called to its Creator, let him be judge--not man. But speak; I do
not understand you clearly."

"I will make my tale short," she answered. "That old man was my
father's father; a minstrel once in the house of the great Earl of
Northumberland--I can just remember the Earl--and a gay and happy
household it was. He was well paid and lodged, much loved by the good
lord, and wealthy by his bounty. My father was stout and tall, a brave
man, and skilful in arms; and he was the Percy's henchman. Once, when
one of the Earl's kinsmen went to the court of the Emperor, my father
was sent with him, I have heard; and he returned with my mother, a
native of a town called Innsbruck in the mountains. I know not whether
you have heard of it; but it is a fair city, in good truth."

"You have seen it, then?" asked Richard of Woodville.

"Not a year since," answered the girl; "but, to my tale. When I was
still young, my father fought and fell with Hotspur; and, not long
after, the Duke's household was dispersed, and he himself obliged to
fly to Wales, or Scotland, I know not which. My mother pined and died,
for the people there loved not a stranger amongst them; and, after my
father's death, called her nought but _the foreigner_. They laughed,
too, at her language, for she could speak but poor English; and, what
between their gibes and her own grief, she withered away daily, till
her eyes closed. She taught me her own language, however; and I have
not forgot it. She taught me her own faith, too; and I have not
abandoned it."

"And that was--" exclaimed Richard.

"The holy Catholic faith!" replied the girl, crossing herself; "and
nothing has ever been able to turn me from it. But still, I could not
let it break all bonds--could I, noble sir?"

"Perhaps not," replied Richard of Woodville; "but let me hear
farther."

"When the Earl fled, and my mother died," continued the girl, "my
grandfather took me with him to the town of York; and, as he was
wealthy, as I have said, his kinsfolk, who were many in the place,
were glad to see him. He was very kind to me--oh, how kind! and taught
me to sing, and play on many instruments. But there came a disciple of
Wicliffe into the town, where there were already many Lollards in
secret; and the poor old man listened to them, and became one of them.
I would not hear them; for I ever thought of my mother, and what she
had taught me; and this caused the first unkind words my grandfather
ever gave me. He mourned for them afterwards, when he found I was not
undutiful, as he had called me. But, in the mean time, he went on with
the Lollards; till, one night, as they were coming from a place where
they had met, a crowd of rabble and loose people set upon them with
sticks and stones, and beat them terribly; and the poor old man was
brought home, with his face and eyes sadly cut. Some of the Lollards
were taken, and two were tried, and burnt as heretics. But my
grandfather escaped that fate; for, by this time, his eyes had become
red and fiery, and he kept close to his own house. The redness at
length went away--but light went too; and he was in daily fear of
persecution. One night, when he was very sad, I asked him why he
stayed in York, where there were so many perils; but he shook his
head, and answered, 'Because I am sightless, my child; and I have none
to guide me.' Then I asked him again, if he had not me; and if he
thought I would not go with him to the world's end; and I found, by
what he said, that he had long thought of going to foreign lands, but
did not speak of it, because he thought that, as I would not hear his
people, I would refuse to go. When he found I was ready, however, his
mind was soon made up, and we went first to a town called Liege, where
he had a brother, and there we lived happily enough for some time; for
that, brother, and all his family, thought on many matters with him.
But he heard of a man named Huss, who is a great leader of that sect
in a country called Bohemia, and he resolved to go thither, as he was
threatened with persecution in Liege. We then wandered far and wide
through strange lands. But why should I make my tale long? We suffered
many things--were plundered, wronged, persecuted, beaten; and the
money that he had began to melt away, with no resource behind; for we
had heard that our own relations and friends in York had pillaged his
house; and one had taken possession of it as his own. I then proposed
to him that I should sing at festivals and tournaments, that he might
keep the little he still had against an evil day. Thus we came through
Germany, and Burgundy, and part of France and Brabant; and, at length,
he determined that he would come back to his own country, which he
did, only to be murdered last night, for we have not been a month in
England."

"Alas! my poor girl," said Richard of Woodville, "yours is, indeed, a
sad history; and, in truth, I know not what counsel to give you for
the future. Alone, as you are, in the world, you need some one much to
protect you."

"I do indeed," replied the girl, "but I have none; and yet," she
added, after a moment, "these are foolish thoughts, brought upon me
but by grief. I can protect myself. Many have a worse fate than I
have; for how often are those who have been softly nurtured cast
suddenly into misfortune and distress! I have been inured to it by
degrees--taught step by step to struggle and resist. Mine is not a
heart to yield to evil chances. The little that I want in life, I
trust, I can honestly obtain; and, if not honestly, why, I can die.
There is still a home for the wanderer--there is still a place of
repose for the weary." But, as she spoke, the tears that rolled over
her cheeks belied the fortitude which she assumed.

Richard of Woodville paused and meditated, ere he replied. "Stay," he
said, at length, as the girl rose, and covered her head again with her
hood, which she had cast back, as if she were about to depart. "Stay!
a thought has struck me. Perchance I can call the King's bounty to
you. I myself am now about to depart for distant lands. I am going to
the court of Burgundy in a few days, and shall not see our sovereign
again before I set out; but I have a servant, who was once the King's,
and he will have the means of telling your sad tale."

"To the court of Burgundy!" exclaimed the girl, eagerly; "Oh! that I
were going thither with you!"

"That may hardly be," replied Woodville, with a smile, as she gazed
with her large dark eyes upon his face.

"I know it," she answered, sighing, and cast her eyes down to the
ground again, with the blood mounting into her cheek; "yet, why not in
the same ship?--I have kinsfolk both in Liege and in Peronne--you
would not see wrong done to me?"

"Assuredly not," said the young gentleman; "but if the King can be
engaged to show you kindness, it will be better. What little I can
spare, my poor girl, shall be yours; and I will send this man of whom
I spoke, to see you and tell you more. First, however, you must let me
know where you are lodged, and for whom he must ask, as it may be
three or four days before he returns from the errand he is now gone to
perform."

"My name is Ella Brune," replied the girl; and she went on to describe
to Richard of Woodville the situation of the house in which she and
her grandfather had taken up their abode, on their arrival in London a
few days before. He found from her account that it was a small hostel
just within the walls of the city, which the old man had known and
frequented in former years; that the host and his good dame were kind
and homely people; and that, though the poor girl had remained out
watching the corpse at the lodge of the convent, she had returned that
morning to explain the cause of her absence, and had been received
with sympathy and consolation. Knowing well, however, that there is a
limit to the tenderness of most innkeepers, and that that limit is
seldom, if ever, extended beyond the length of their guest's purse,
the young gentleman took three half nobles, which, to say truth, was
as much as he could spare, and offered them to his fair companion,
saying, "Trouble yourself not in regard to expenses of the funeral,
Ella, or of the masses. The porter of the convent has been here this
morning before I went out, and I have arranged all that with him."

The girl looked at the money in his hand, with a tearful eye and a
burning cheek; but, after gazing for a moment, she put his hand gently
away, saying, "No, no, I cannot take it--from you I cannot take it."

"And why not from me?" asked Richard of Woodville in some surprise.

She hesitated for an instant, and then replied, "Because you have been
so good and kind already. Were it from a stranger, I might--but you
have already given me much, paid much; and you shall not hurt yourself
for me. I have enough."

"Nay, nay, Ella," said Richard, with a smile. "If I have been kind,
that is a reason why you must not grieve me by refusing the little I
can give; and as to what I have paid, I will say to you with Little
John, whom you have heard of--


             "I have done thee a good turn for an
              Quit me when thou may."


"And what did Robin answer?" said the girl, a light coming up into her
eyes as she forgot, for an instant, her loss and her desolate
situation, in the struggle of generosity which she kept up against her
young benefactor--


             "Nay by my troth, said Robin,
              So shall it never be."


"It must be, if you would not pain me," replied Richard of Woodville;
"you must not be left in this wide place, my poor girl, without friend
or money."

"Nay, but I have enough," she answered; "if I were tempted to take it,
'twould only be with the thought of crossing the sea, which costs much
money, I know."

"Then take it for that chance, my poor Ella," replied Woodville,
forcing the money into her hand; "and tell me what store you have got,
in order that, if I have ought more to spare, when I have received
what my copse-wood brings, I may send it to you by the servant I spoke
of."

"Indeed, I know not," said Ella Brune; "there is a small leathern bag
at the inn, in which we used to put all that we gathered; but I
thought not to look what it contained. My heart was too heavy when I
went back, to reckon money. But there is enough to pay all that we
owe, I know; and as for the time to come," she added, with a
melancholy smile, "I eat little, and drink less; so that my diet is
soon paid."

Her words and manner had that harmony in them, which can rarely be
attained when both do not spring from the heart; and Richard of
Woodville became more and more interested in the fair object of his
kindness every moment. He detained her some time longer to ask farther
questions; but, at length, the host opened the door, and told him,
there was a young man without who sought to speak with him. This
interruption terminated his conversation with Ella Brune; for, drawing
her hood farther still over her face, she again rose, took his hand
and pressed her lips upon it.

"The blessing of the queen of heaven be upon you, noble sir," she
said; and then passed through the door, at which the landlord still
stood, wondering a little at the deep gratitude which she seemed to
feel towards his young guest.



                             CHAPTER XI.

                            THE DECEIVER.


The King of England remained seated for many minutes exactly where
Richard of Woodville had left him. His right hand rested on the arm of
his chair; his left upon the hilt of his dagger; and his eyes remained
fixed apparently upon the heavy building of the Abbey, such as it then
appeared, before a far successor of his added to it a structure, rich,
and perhaps beautiful in itself, but sadly out of keeping with the
rest of the pile. But Henry saw not the long straight lines of the
solemn mass of masonry; he heard not the bells chiming from the belfry
hard by: his mind was absent from the scene in which his body dwelt;
and his thoughts busy with things very different from those that
surrounded him.

On what did they rest? Over what did the spirit of the great English
monarch ponder, the very day after he had solemnly assumed the crown
and sceptre?--Who can say?

He might, perhaps, remember other days with some regret; for we can
never lose aught that we have possessed, without some mournful
feelings of deprivation returning upon us from time to time, however
great and overpowering be the compensation that we obtain; we can
never change from one state and station in our mortal course to
another without sometimes thinking of former joys, and gone-by
happiness, even though we have acquired grander blessings, and a more
expansive sphere: and oh! how great is the change, even from the
position of a prince, to that of a monarch! so great, indeed, that
none who have not known it can even divine.

He might already, perhaps, feel what a burden a crown may sometimes
become; how heavy are occasionally the gorgeous robes of state; he
might look back to the free buoyancy of his early life, and long to
roam the wide plains and fields of his kingdom alone, and at his ease.
Or he might think of friendship--and there was none more capable of
knowing and valuing it aright--and might wonder whether a monarch
could indeed have a friend; one into whose bosom he could pour his
secret thoughts, or with whose wit he could try his own, in free, but
not undignified encounter; one in whom he could trust, and with whom
he might relax, certain that the condescension of the sovereign would
not be mistaken, nor the confidence of the friend betrayed.

Again, he might ponder upon all the difficulties and pains of a royal
station: he might think, "Each of my subjects is burdened with his own
cares and anxieties, but I with the care and anxiety of the whole:" or
his mind might turn to the especial troubles and discomforts of a
monarch, and remember how many he must have to disappoint; how often
he must have to punish; how much he must have to refuse; how seldom he
might be permitted to forgive; what great works he must necessarily
leave undone; what good deeds be might be obliged to neglect; what
faults he must be called upon to overlook; what pain and grief, even
to the good and wise, a stern necessity might compel him to inflict.

He might, perhaps, think of any or all of these things, for they were
all within the grasp of his character, as Henry was peculiarly a
thoughtful monarch. We are, indeed, only accustomed to look upon him
either as a wild youth, suddenly and somewhat strangely reformed, or
as a great conqueror and skilful general, a prudent and ambitious
prince. But those who will inquire into his private life, who will
mark the recorded words that occasionally broke from his lips, trace
the causes and course of his actions, examine his conduct to his
friends, and even to his enemies, who will, in short, strip off the
monarch's robes and look upon the man, will find a meditative spirit,
though a quick one; a warm heart, though a firm one; a rich and lively
imagination, though a clear and vigorous judgment. He was not one to
take upon him the cares of government without feeling all their
weight; to regard a throne as a seat of ease and pleasure; or to
assume the grand responsibilities of sovereign power, without
examining them stedfastly and sternly, seeing all that is bright and
all that is dark therein, and feeling keenly every sacrifice for which
they call.

To love and to be beloved by a whole nation, to give and to receive
happiness by a wise government of a great people, is assuredly a
mighty recompence for all the pains of royal station; but yet those
pains will be felt hourly while the reward is afar; and the monarch's
conversation with Richard of Woodville had awakened him to some of
those evils which the wisest rule cannot entirely remedy. Almost under
the windows of his palace, on the very day of his coronation, in the
midst of rejoicing and festivity, one of his subjects, an innocent
inoffensive old man, had been brutally deprived of life by a party of
those who had been feasting at his own table; and, when he remembered
all the scenes with which the course of his early life had made him
acquainted throughout this wide land, he saw what a task it would be
to restrain the wild licence of a host of turbulent nobles, and to
bind them to submission to the laws, and to reverence for the rights
and happiness of others.

The monarch was still deep in thought when the page whom he had sent
for Sir Simeon of Roydon, returned, announcing that he was in waiting
without; and Henry at once ordered him to be admitted. The knight
advanced with courtly bows, and more than due reverence; for he was
one of those who, overbearing and haughty to their inferiors, are
always cringing and fawning towards those above them, at least until
they are detected.

But Henry came to the point at once, saying, with a stern brow, "I
hear matters regarding you, Sir Simeon of Roydon, that please me not;
and I would fain hear from your own lips, what explanation you can
give. Know, sir, that the subjects of this crown are not to be
murdered with impunity, and that sooner or later blood will find a
tongue to accuse those that spill it."

The knight turned somewhat pale under the keen eye of the King; but he
answered at once, in smooth and fluent tones, "I was not aware, Sire,
that I had done aught that should bring upon me the greatest
punishment that I could receive--that of falling under the displeasure
of your Highness; for any other infliction which might follow that
severe misfortune, would seem nothing in comparison, or light, indeed,
if by any bodily suffering I could remove the heavy weight of your
anger. May I humbly inquire what is my fault? It must be great, I am
sure, though I know it not, to make so clement a King regard his
servant so harshly."

"It is great, sir," replied Henry, who could not be deluded with fair
words. "Did you not, last night, after quitting the Hall below, cause
the death of an old man by a most brutal outrage?"

"Nay, Heaven forbid!" cried Roydon, with well-feigned surprise and
grief. "Your Highness does not, I trust, mean to say that the poor old
man is dead?"

"He was killed upon the spot, sir," answered Henry; "and I am told you
did not even stop to inquire what had been the result of your own
act."

"I will go home and have him slaughtered without delay," exclaimed
Roydon, as if speaking to himself in a paroxysm of regret.

"Have whom slaughtered?" asked the King, gazing upon him coldly; for
he began to divine the course his defence was to take.

"The brute that did it, Sire," replied the knight; "three times has
that horse nearly deprived me of life, which I heeded not much, for it
is a fine though unruly animal; but now that he has taken the life of
another, his own shall be forfeit. Scarcely had I mounted when, with
the bit between his teeth, he set off at full speed; some of my
companions galloped after to stop him, if possible, but were unable,
till a gentleman on foot, I know not who, caught the bridle in the
crowd; and I, not seeing what had befallen, rode on, keeping him in
with difficulty."

A slight smile curled the lip of the King, showing to Sir Simeon
Roydon that he was not fully believed; and a dark feeling of
anger--the rage of detected meanness--gathered itself in the inmost
recesses of his heart, with only the more bitter intensity because he
dared not suffer it to peep forth. There is nothing that we hate so
much as one whom, however much he may offend us, we cannot injure.
Vengeance is the drink by which the dire thirst of hate is often
assuaged; but if that cannot by any possibility be obtained, the
burning of the heart goes on increasing till it becomes the
unquenchable drought of fever.

The monarch answered calmly, however, and without further reproach.
"Your tale, Sir Simeon," he said, "is somewhat different from that
which previously reached my ears. I trust it can be substantiated in
all its parts; for this matter must be investigated fully. The crown
officer will, of course, do his duty by inquest upon the body. It will
be well for you to be present; and the law will then take its due
effect. Retire for a time, sir, into another chamber, and I will cause
inquiry to be made, as to when a jury will be ready to investigate the
case."

Sir Simeon of Roydon bowed with a sad and respectful countenance, and
turned towards the door; but when he reached it, the expression of his
face, now averted from the King, was very different from that which it
had been a moment before. A mocking smile sat upon his lip--the
sneering, bitter expression of a bad spirit, which has gained some
advantage over a nobler one; but it was gone again the moment he
opened the door and stood in presence of two or three attendants, who
were waiting in the ante-room. At the same instant, the voice of Henry
called the page, and Sir Simeon, pausing and seating himself, could
hear the King give orders for making the inquiries which he had
mentioned. In less than twenty minutes, the page returned and entered
the monarch's closet, after which the knight was recalled.

"I find, sir," said Henry, when he appeared again before him, "that
uncommonly quick proceedings have been taken in this case. The inquest
has sat already; and the good men have pronounced the death
accidental. So far the finding is satisfactory; but as it is clear
that the accident occurred by your furious riding of a horse which you
yourself acknowledge to be vicious and dangerous, I have to require
that you make the only compensation that can be made to the person who
I am told is this old man's grandchild. You will, therefore, go at
once to the hospital of St. James, and there, or elsewhere, when
you have found her, will pay to this poor girl the sum of fifty
half nobles, expressing your sorrow--which, doubtless, you feel
sincerely--for the evil you have occasioned."

Sir Simeon of Roydon bowed, with every appearance of respect; but
there was a scowl upon his brow; and he could not refrain from asking,
"May I inquire, Sire, whether this fine is imposed by the inquest, or
whether it be the award of your Highness; for if--"

Henry's cheek flushed, and the impetuous spirit which had made him in
early years strike the judge upon the bench, roused itself for a
moment in his heart. It was conquered speedily, however; and he
murmured to himself, "No, I will not act the tyrant. Sir Simeon," he
continued, aloud, waving his hand, "the award is mine, as you say. It
is my desire that this should be done. You will do it or not, as you
think fit, for I will not strain the laws; but if it be not done,
never present yourself before me again. That at the least I may
require, sir, though the verdict of the jury can but affect the horse
you rode."

"Your Highness did not hear me out," replied Roydon, who had now
recovered the mastery of himself; "I did but presume to ask; because
if such a fine had been imposed by the jury, I should have resisted
it, as contrary to law; but at the command of your Highness, I pay it,
not only with submission but with pleasure, as the only means I have
of showing both my regret at what has taken place, and my eager desire
to conform myself in all things to your will. Not an hour shall pass
before you are certified that I have not only obeyed, but gone beyond
your orders; and so I humbly take my leave."

The words were well and gracefully spoken; and Henry found no occasion
to complain of the knight's demeanour; but still he was not satisfied
that his obedience was the submission of the heart; for he knew right
well that fair words, ay, and fair actions, too, are often but the
cloaks of sly and subtle knavery; and the character of Sir Simeon of
Roydon was not new to him. He replied merely, "So you shall do well,
sir;" and bowed his head as a signal that he might depart.

The knight quitted his presence in no happy mood, perceiving right
well that the monarch's favour, on which he had counted much, had been
lost and not regained. He hated him for the clear sighted penetration
which had seen through his art; and he only doubted whether there was
or was not a chance of still deceiving his sovereign, and recovering
his good graces, by an appearance of zeal and devotion in obeying his
commands.

"It is worth the trial," he thought; "and it shall be tried; but I
shall soon find whether he continues to nourish such ill-will towards
me; and if he do, my course must be shaped accordingly. Curses upon
these beggarly vagrants! Who ever heard of King before who troubled
his nobility about minstrels and tomblesteres? This smacks of the
early tastes of our magnanimous monarch, whose sole delight, within
these two months, was in pot-house tipplers, and losel gamesters. He
may assume a royal port and solemn manner, if he will; but the habit
of years is not so easily conquered; and if he trip now, he is lost.
Men were tired enough of his usurping father. A new prince carries the
ever-changing multitude at his heels; but time will bring weariness,
and weariness is soon changed into disgust. We shall see; we shall
see; and the day of vengeance may come. In the meantime, of one, at
least, I have had retribution; and this other shall not long escape--a
rude, ballad-singing peasant, only fit for the brute sports of the
bull-baiting, or the fair--a very franklin in spirit, and a yeoman in
heart."

With thoughts,--which, as the reader may have perceived, had deviated
from the King to Richard of Woodville,--with thoughts wavering with a
strong inclination to bold evil, but chained down to mere knavery, for
the time, by some remaining chances of success--for strange as it may
seem, as many men are rendered cowards by hope as by fear--Sir Simeon
of Roydon pursued his way to the hospital of St. James, on foot,
having hastened to the presence of the King without waiting for his
horses. As, still in deep and angry thought, he approached the gate
and the old lodge, he raised his eyes somewhat suddenly at an
advancing step, and beheld the form of a young girl, with her long
dark eyelashes bent down till they rested on her cheek. He caught but
a momentary glance as she hurried by; but Simeon of Roydon was quick
and eager in his examination of all that is beautiful in mere form;
and that glance was sufficient to rouse no very holy feelings. The
rounded limbs, the small and delicate foot and ankle, the fine
chiseled features, the graceful easy movements, the exquisite neck and
bosom half hidden by the folds of the grey hood, were all marked in an
instant; and as she seemed alone, without defence or protection, he
hesitated for a moment whether to stop and speak to her; but while he
paused, she was gone with a quick step; the gate of the convent was
near, and, resisting the passing temptation, he walked on and rang the
bell.

The porter slowly opened the gate; and, with the tone of careless and
haughty indifference which has always marked the inferior personages
of a court--I mean the inferior in mind, more than the inferior in
rank or station--the knight said, "There was an old man killed near
this spot last night, I think?"

"There was, noble sir," answered the porter, with a low reverence to
his air of superiority; "the body has been moved to the chapel."

"I care nought about the body," rejoined Roydon. "He had a daughter or
grand-daughter or something with him; where is she?"

"She has just gone forth, noble sir," replied the porter; "you must
have passed her at the gate."

"Ha! what! a girl with a grey hood and a white coat, with some gold at
the edge?" asked the knight.

"The same, noble sir," said the old man; "poor thing, she is sadly
afflicted."

"Send her to me when she comes back, and I will comfort her," answered
the visitor in a light tone.

"Nay, sir, she is none of those, I'll warrant," replied the porter,
very little edified; "and I give no such messages here."

"Thou art a fool, old man," said Sir Simeon of Roydon. "Will she come
back hither?"

"Doubtless she will," answered the other, "for better comfort than you
can give."

"Pshaw! art thou a preacher?", demanded the knight, with a sneer. "The
comfort that I have to give is gold, by the King's command. So tell
her to come to Burwash House, close by the Temple gate, up the lane to
the left, and ask for Simeon of Roydon. If I be not within, I will
leave the money with a servant; but bid her come quickly, for I must
tell the King as soon as his bounty is bestowed. When will she be
here?"

"That I know not," answered the old man; "the prioress bade me give
her admission to the parlour whenever she came, for the ladies the
sisters have taken her case much to heart. But the young woman did not
say when she would return. Perhaps it would be better for you to leave
the money with the lady prioress herself, who would render it to her
when she sees her."

"Give advice to those who ask it, my friend," replied Roydon. "I know
best what are the King's commands and my duty; so tell her what I say
on the part of his Highness, and let her come as speedily as may be."

The knight then turned, and, with a haughty step, took his way back to
Burwash House, the London mansion of a distant kinsman, who, in
reverence of his newly acquired wealth, permitted the heir of poor
Catherine Beauchamp to inhabit it during his own absence from the
capital.

Sir Simeon of Roydon was now enjoying to the full that which he had
long earnestly desired--the prosperity of riches, which he had never
before known; for his own estate had originally been small, and had
soon been encumbered, under the influence of expensive tastes and vain
ostentation. Unchastened by adversity, unreclaimed by experience, he
was now living as much beyond his present, as he had previously lived
beyond his former, fortune; and grooms and attendants of all kinds
waited him at his dwelling, chosen from the scum of a great city,
which always affords a multitude of serviceable knaves, ready to aid
an heir to spend his inheritance, and, by obsequious compliance with
all rash or vicious desires, to secure themselves a participation in
the plunder, during the term of its existence. To some of these
worthies, whom he found in the court, he gave orders for the immediate
admission of poor Ella Brune as soon as she appeared; and then,
betaking himself to a chamber on the first floor, he occupied himself
for somewhat more than an hour in thinking over future plans, no
inconsiderable portion of which referred to the gratification of many
of the pleasant little passions, that, like strong drink, by turns
stimulate and allay the thirst of a depraved mind. Revenge--or,
rather, the gratification of hate, for revenge presupposes injury--was
predominant, though ambition had a goodly share also.

To become that for which he thought himself well fitted, but towards
which he had never hitherto been able to take one step--a great and
prominent man--was one principal object:--to take a share in the
mightier deeds of life, to rule and influence others, to command, to
be looked up to, to receive authority and wield it at will. Oh, how
often does that desire _to become a great man_ render one a little
man!--how often is it the source of littleness in those who might
otherwise be great indeed! When the greatest philosopher that modern
ages has produced declared, that "to rise to dignities we must submit
to indignities," how powerful, to debase the mightiest mind, did that
longing _to become a great man_ show itself! How constantly, through
his whole career, do we see it producing all that made him other than
great! It was, and is ever, the result of the one grand fundamental
error, the misappreciation of real greatness. And thus we desire to
become great in the eyes of other men, not in our own--to win the
applause of worms, not merit the approbation of God.

Such pitiful elevation was the only greatness coveted by him of whom
we speak; but that was not the only desire which moved him--he longed
for indulgence of every kind, from which straitened circumstances had
long debarred him--he thought of pleasures with the eagerness of a
Tantalus, who had for years beheld them close to his lip, without the
power of bringing them within his taste; and, like a famished beast,
he was ready to fall upon the food of appetite wherever it could be
found. But still cunning--both natural and that acquired from the
ready teacher of all evil to inferior minds, poverty--was at hand to
bring certain restraints, which wisdom and virtue were not there to
enforce. There was a consciousness in his breast, that too great
eagerness often disappoints its own desires, and that he was too
eager; and, therefore, he resolved that he would be cautious too. But
such resolutions usually fail somewhere; for cautiousness is a
guardian who does not always watch, when she is without the
companionship of rectitude.

Such reflections were still busily occupying his mind; and he had
arrived at sincere regret for the rash and brutal act which he had
committed the night before--not because it was evil, but because it
was imprudent--when a page opened the door, and ushered Ella Brune
into the room.

The poor girl knew not whom she was coming to see--she had taken no
note of the face or form of him whose cruel carelessness had deprived
her of the only support she had--she had not listened to the words
that passed between him and Richard of Woodville--she stood before him
unconscious that he was the slayer of her old companion. Let the
reader mark that fact well. Nevertheless, as soon as she saw him she
turned deadly pale, and her limbs trembled.

But Sir Simeon of Roydon took a smooth and pleasant tone; and as soon
as the page was gone, and had closed the door, he asked, "They gave
you my message, then, pretty maid?" At the same time he placed a stool
for her, and motioned her to be seated.

"They told me, sir," she answered in a low tone, "that you had
commands for me from the King."

"And so I have, fair maiden," replied Simeon of Roydon; "but, I pray
you, sit. This has been a sad event--I grieve for it much. I was not
aware, till this morning, that my runaway charger had done such
damage."

"And were you the man?" demanded Ella Brune, suddenly raising her eyes
to his face. As she did so, she found him gazing at her from head to
foot, taking in all the beauties of her face and form, as an
experienced judge remarks the points of a fine horse; and she drew her
hood farther over her brow, not well satisfied with the eager and
passionate look of admiration which his countenance displayed.

"I was unfortunate enough to be so," answered Roydon, perceiving her
gesture, and thinking it as well to put some little restraint upon
himself, though he never dreamed that a poor minstrel's girl could
seriously resist the solicitation of a man of wealth and station. "I
regret it deeply," he continued, "but the brute overpowered me. By the
King's commands, I bear you fifty half-nobles; here they are. And, for
my own satisfaction, I will give you the same."

As he spoke, he held out a purse to her, but Ella Brune drew back.
"The King's bounty," she said, "I will receive with gratitude; but,
from you, I will take nothing."

"And, pray, why not, sweet girl?" asked Simeon of Roydon; "the King
cannot grieve for what has happened half as much as I do, or be half
as eager to comfort and console you. Nay, sit down, and speak to me;"
and, taking her hand, he led her back to the stool much against her
will. "I would fain hear what can be done for you," he added; "I fear
you may be friendless and unprotected; and I long to make up to you,
as far as possible, for the loss you have sustained."

"I am, indeed, alone in the world," replied the fair girl; "but not
friendless, and unprotected, while I trust in God."

"Yes, but God uses human means," answered Roydon, who was every moment
growing more eager in the pursuit, which at first had been but as the
chase of a butterfly; "and you must let me be his instrument, as I
have caused, unwillingly, this evil to befal you. I have a beautiful
small cottage on my lands, where the trees fall round and shade it in
the winter from the wind--in the summer from the sun. The woodbine and
rose gather round the door, and a sparkling stream dances within
sight. There, if you will accept such a refuge, you can live in peace
and tranquillity, protected from all the harm and wrong that might
happen to you in great cities; for you are too young and too lovely to
escape wiles, and perhaps violence, if you are left without good ward,
in such resorts of men as these."

A smile came upon the lip of Ella Brune, but it was of a very mingled
and changeful expression. Perhaps the wakening of some old remembered
dream of happy days might render it at first soft and gentle; and, the
next instant, the recollection of how that dream had faded might
sadden; and then again, the transparency of his baseness mixed a touch
of scorn with it, and she answered, "That can never be, sir. I seek no
protection but that I have, and cannot accept of yours. I am able, as
I am accustomed, to guard myself, and will do so still. I think you
have mistaken me--but it matters not. I seek neither gold nor favour
from you; and, if you would make atonement for bad deeds, it must be
to God, not me."

As she spoke, she rose, and turned to quit the room; and Simeon of
Roydon hesitated for a moment whether he should not detain her by
force--for those were days of violence; and her very coldness had
rendered the passion he began to feel towards her but the more
impetuous. He remembered, however, that there might be those who
expected her return; that the place whither she had gone was known at
the monastery; and that the King's eye might be upon his conduct
towards her. These calculations passed like lightning through his
mind, and he chose his course in an instant.

"Stay!" he cried, "stay one minute more, sweet girl. I have not
mistaken you at all. I would not even force my protection on you: but,
at least, receive this; for I must tell the King that it is paid."

"His bounty," replied Ella, "I will not refuse, as I before said, and
offer him my deepest thanks; but, from you, I will receive nothing."

"Well, then, take these fifty pieces," said her companion; "they are
given by the King's command. We shall meet again, fair maid; and then,
perhaps, you will know me better."

"I seek to know no more," she answered, taking the gold he gave: "I
have known enough," and, turning to the door, she left him, murmuring
to herself, "Would that the King had sent it by other hands."

Simeon of Roydon followed her to the gates, beckoning up two
of his servants as he went. "Quick," he whispered; "you see that
girl?--follow her wherever she goes: find out her name--her
dwelling--every particular you can gather, and bring me your tidings
with all speed."



                             CHAPTER XII.

                          THE HOURS OF JOY.


Probably there is a period in the life of every one--if it be not cut
short in very early years, when the blossom is still upon the trees of
existence--in which the heart is so depressed by a reiteration of
those misfortunes which generally come in groups, that the unexpected
announcement of an unnamed visitor causes us to look up with a feeling
of dread, as if some new sorrow were about to be added to the list of
those endured. But such was not yet the case with Richard of
Woodville, for though many of the events which had lately passed,
had tended to make him somewhat more grave and thoughtful than in
younger days, yet neither griefs, nor anxieties, nor disappointments
had been heavy enough to weigh down a spirit naturally buoyant. His
heart might be called light and free; for, though burdened with some
cares, and tied by the silver chain of love, yet hope, bright,
vigorous, rarely-tiring hope, helped him to carry his load; and the
bond between him and sweet Mary Markham was not one to fetter the
energies of his mind, or to dim the brightness of expectation. But
above all things his bosom was perfectly free from guile; and in a
house so cleanly kept, there is always light, unless every window be
closed by the hands of death or of despair.

He looked, therefore, to see who the stranger could be that asked for
him, with some curiosity perhaps, but no alarm, and was surprised but
well pleased, when the figure of honest Hugh of Clatford darkened the
door.

"Ah, Hugh!" he exclaimed, "is that you? What has brought you to
Westminster? Are you also going to seek service in foreign lands?"

"Faith, sir, I know not what I am going to do," replied the good
yeoman; "I came up here with my lord, and wait his pleasure."

"With your lord!" exclaimed Woodville, in astonishment; "and what, in
the name of fortune and all her freaks, has brought my uncle to
Westminster?--Was he summoned to the coronation?"

"Good truth, noble sir, I know not," answered Hugh of Clatford. "He
has not told me why he came; but I chanced to meet your man Hob, and
asked him where you were to be found, but to come and see you and how
you fared."

"Thanks, Hugh, thanks!" replied Richard of Woodville.


      "'True friend findeth true friend wherever they follow,
       And summer's no summer that wanteth the swallow;'


But whom has my uncle with him?"

He would have fain asked if Mary Markham was near; but the question
would not be spoken, and Hugh of Clatford saved him the trouble of
farther inquiry. "He has brought no one but myself," he said, "and
Roger Vale, and Martin the henchman, and one or two lads with the
horses, and a page, and the Lady Mary--"

"Ah! and is that sweet lady here?" asked Woodville, in as calm and
grave a tone as a very joyous heart could use. "But has he not brought
my cousin Isabel?"

"No, good sooth," rejoined the yeoman; "he and the Lady Mary came off
in haste on the arrival of a messenger from London."

"That is strange," said Richard of Woodville;--but then he thought
that, perchance his friend Harry Dacre had sped well in his suit to
Isabel, and that the old knight might have left her to cheer him at
the hall. Nor was such a course unlikely in that age; for there were
then fewer observances and stiff considerations of propriety than in
later days, since rules and regulations more powerful, though but of
air, than the locks and eunuchs of an Eastern harem, have tied down
the most innocent intercourse of those who love, and every lady in the
land is watched with the dragon's eyes of parental prudence. Love was
then looked upon with reverence, and regarded as a safeguard rather
than a peril. There was more confidence in virtue, more trust in
honour.

After a short pause, Richard of Woodville inquired where his uncle was
lodged; and to the great disappointment of his host, who, while he was
still speaking with Hugh of Clatford, entered to set out the tables
for the approaching meal, the young gentleman accompanied the good
yeoman, fasting as he was, to visit good Sir Philip Beauchamp--as he
said; but, in truth, to sun himself in Mary's eyes.

Fortune, though she be a spiteful jade, will occasionally favour true
lovers; and she certainly showed herself particularly benign to
Richard of Woodville in the present instance. Hurrying on with Hugh of
Clatford, he made his way through the crowded streets of Westminster,
till, at the outskirts of the town, near where now stands George
Street, he reached the gates of a large house in a garden, where Sir
Philip Beauchamp had taken up his abode. With all due reverence he
asked for his uncle; but he must not be looked upon as a very
undutiful nephew, if we admit that he was not a little rejoiced to
find that the good old knight had gone forth, leaving fair Mary
Markham behind.

Guided by Hugh of Clatford, who very well understood all that was
passing in the young gentleman's heart, Richard was soon in his fair
lady's bower; and certainly Mary's bright face expressed quite as much
pleasure to see him as he could have desired. It expressed surprise
also, however; and after chiding him, not very harshly, for a sweet
liberty he took with her arched lips, she exclaimed, "But how are you
here, Richard? I thought you were firm at Meon, polishing armour and
trying horses."

Now Richard of Woodville, as soon as he heard that Mary was in the
same city with himself, had formed his own conclusions in regard to
various matters that had puzzled him the day before; and he answered,
gaily, "What, deceiver! Do you think I do not know your arts? You
would have me believe you were ignorant that I was here, and must
tease your poor lover twice in the course of yesterday, by letting him
hear your voice, yet hiding the face that he loves best, from his
sight?"

"Nay, dear Richard," replied Mary, with a look of still greater
surprise than before; "you are speaking riddles to me. You could not
hear my voice yesterday, at least in Westminster--unless, indeed, it
were late at night; and then it must have been in sad, dolorous tones,
for I was very tired. We did not reach this place till three hours
after dark. But what is it you mean, by daring to call Mary a
deceiver, when you know right well I could not cheat you into thinking
that I did not love you, though I tried hard to look as demure as a
cat in the sunshine?"

"Are you sincere now, Mary?--are you telling me the truth?" asked
Richard, still half inclined to doubt; but the moment after, he added,
"Yet I know you are, my Mary, without guile. Truth gives you half your
beauty, Mary; it lights your eyes, it smiles upon your lips. Yet this
is very strange; and I thought that I had discovered the key to a
mystery which must puzzle me still. But hear what has happened, and
you shall judge;" and he proceeded to relate the injunctions which had
been twice laid upon him the day before, by some unseen acquaintance
in the crowd.

Mary Markham was not less surprised and puzzled than himself,
especially as he persisted in asserting the words had been spoken by a
female voice. But they soon abandoned that topic, to turn to others of
deeper interest to their own two hearts--the cause of Sir Philip
Beauchamp's journey to the capital, and the future fate of his fair
companion.

"In truth, Richard," said Mary, in answer to some of his questions, "I
am well nigh as ignorant as yourself of what is about to happen. All I
know is, that Sir Philip told me I should probably soon see my father
again."

"And who is your father, my sweet Mary?" asked Woodville, with a
smile.

Mary gazed at him for an instant, with a look of touched and gratified
affection, and then asked, "And did Richard of Woodville really seek
poor Mary Markham's hand, then, without knowing aught of her state and
station?--was he willing to take her dowerless, friendless,
stationless, almost nameless?"

"Good faith, dear Mary," answered Woodville, "I should be right glad
to take you any way I could get you; and if dower, or station, or
friends, or aught else stand in the way, even down to this pretty robe
whose hem I kiss, I pray you, Mary, cast it off! I shall be right glad
to have you in your kirtle, if it be but of hodden grey."

Mary Markham smiled and blushed; and her bright, merry eyes acquired a
softer and more glistening light from the dew of happy emotion that
spangled her long eyelashes. "Well, Richard," she said, "I do not love
you the less for that. 'Tis a bold speech, perhaps, and one that I
should not make; but once having owned what I feel, why should I hide
it now?"

"Fie on those who would blame you, dearest lady," answered Woodville:
"who should feel shame for love? The brightest and the best of human
feelings, surely, is no cause of shame; but we may all say, with the
great poet--


      "'O sunn'is life! O Jov'is daughter dear,
       Pleasaunce of love! O godely debonaire
       In gentle hearts aye ready to repaire,
       O very cause of health and of gladnesse,
       Iheried be thy might and godenesse.'"


"I cannot answer why, Richard," replied Mary, "but I know it is so,
that all women feel some shame to own they love; and many affect more
shame than they really feel. But I will not do so, dear Richard; for I
think it is dishonesty to feign aught. I know I did feel shame, when
one day, as we sat beside the river under the green trees, you won me
to say more than I ever thought I could; and all that night, when I
thought upon it, my cheek burned. But yet, in the moment of trial, I
felt bold; and when your uncle asked me, I told him all. Nor do I see
why I should conceal it now, even if I could, when you are about to go
far, and that may be your only consolation in danger and in
difficulty."

"It will be my strength and my support, dear Mary," answered
Woodville; "and I do think that if I could but win a promise from you
to be mine, it would so nerve my heart and arm in the hour of strife,
that all men should own I had won you well--Say, will you promise, my
sweet lady?"

"I will promise that I will, if I may," replied Mary; "but alas!
Richard, the entire fulfilment of that promise must depend upon
another. We poor women have but little power, even over our own fate
and persons; but I will love none but you, Richard, wherever I go; and
you will not doubt that love, though it be spoken so freely?"

"Nay, Heaven forbid!" said Richard of Woodville; "and were it not that
you are my uncle's ward, I would put that love, dear Mary, to the
proof, by asking you to fly with me and seek out some friendly priest
who would bind our fate so fast together, that it would take greater
power than any one in the land can boast, to sever it again. But I
would not be ungrateful to one who has been a father to me."

"Nor must I be ungrateful, either to him or to my own father,
Richard," replied Mary Markham; "you would not love me long if I could
be so."

"I know you cannot, Mary," answered her lover; "but tell me who he is,
Mary, that I may try to win him to hear my suit. I knew not that your
father was alive--unless, indeed, the idle gossip--but no more of
that. Whoever he be, I will trust to merit his esteem, and surely his
daughter's love will be no bad commendation to him. I have hopes, too,
of advancement, if ambition be his passion, such, indeed, as I have
never had before. The King--he who was with us not a month ago as Hal
of Hadnock--"

"Ay, Dacre told us who he was," cried Mary Markham.

"The King, he shows me great favour," continued Woodville, "and has
given me letters to many at the court of Burgundy, promising to send
for me, too, as soon as he has service for me here. With a true heart,
and no unpractised hand, I do not fear that I shall fail of winning
honour; and though I be but a poor gentleman, yet, as I do know that
riches or poverty would make no difference in Mary Markham to me, so I
cannot believe that it will change me in her eyes."

"Oh no!" she answered, but then added, with a sigh, "but my father,
Richard! It is long since I have seen him, yet he was kind and noble,
just and true, if I remember right. I recollect him well, with his
grey hair, changed more by sorrow than time. I thought you knew the
whole, for Isabel does; but I promised faithfully not to speak of my
fate or his to any one, for reasons that he judged sufficient, when he
gave me into good Sir Philip's charge; and I must not break my word
even for you, Richard."

"Well, it matters not," answered Woodville; "certainly I would fain
know who he is, for then I might court him as a lover does his bride,
for Mary's sake: but yet you must keep your promise to him, and to me
too; and whenever you are free to speak, you must give me tidings,
dear girl; for in all the thousand chances of this world, I might mar
my own hopes, even while seeking to fulfil them."

"I will, I will," replied Mary Markham; "but hark! I hear your uncle's
step, Richard. I will but add one word more to cheer you. Perhaps, if
I judge right, we may not be so long ere we meet again, as you
suppose--and now, God prosper you, my own true squire."

As she spoke, the good old knight, Sir Philip Beauchamp, entered the
room, with a grave and somewhat perplexed air. It soon became evident,
however, that whatever annoyed or embarrassed him, it was not the
presence of his nephew; for he greeted him kindly, holding out his
hand to him, saying, "Ay, you here, foolish boy!--still the moth and
the candle! But if you needs must love, why, let it lead you to honour
and renown. What brought you to London? To buy arms?"

"No, sir; to see the King," replied his nephew. "He sent me a
messenger, bearing letters for me to the court of Burgundy, and gave
me to understand that I might come to visit him, if I would."

The old knight, in his meditative mood, seemed to catch some of
Woodville's words, and miss the others. "Letters to the court of
Burgundy," he said. "Well! from Harry of England, they should smooth
thy path, boy. Would to Heaven, you two were not lovers!--Not that I
would speak ill of love; 'tis the duty of every gentleman to vow his
service to some fair lady. At least, as it was so in my young day; but
we have sorely declined since then--sorely, sorely, nephew of mine;
and love was then quite a different affair from now--when it must
needs end in marriage, or worse. It was a high and ennobling passion
in those times, leading knights and gentlemen to seek praise, and do
high deeds; not for their own sakes, but for the honour of the ladies
whom they served, nor requiring reward even from them, but for pure
and high affection, and the pleasure of exalting them. Thus, many a
man loved a lady--either placed far above him, or removed from his
reach by being wedded to another--without sin, or shame, or
presumption; for love, as I have said, was a high and ennobling
feeling in those days, which taught men to do what is right, not what
is wrong."

"Well, my noble uncle," replied Richard of Woodville, "and so it may
be now; and it will have the same effect with me. But one thing I do
know, that I would rather do high deeds to exalt my own wife, than
another man's: I would rather serve a lady that I may win, than a lady
I have no right to seek. Methinks it is both more honest and more
safe; and, by God's blessing, I will win her, too, if I live long
enough, and have fair play."

The old knight smiled. "Thou art a jesting coystrel, Dickon," he said;
"and yet not a bad man at arms either. But times are changed, I tell
thee, and not for the better. Thou thinkest according to the day, and
cannot understand the past. When goest thou over seas, boy?"

"In a few days, sir," answered Richard of Woodville. "I think before a
week be out."

Mary Markham's cheek turned a little pale, and the old knight
meditated for a moment or two; after which he asked his nephew when he
intended to quit London? Richard replied, that he went on the
following morning; and Sir Philip, who had found a sad vacancy in the
hall since Richard had left them for a time, and poor Catherine for
ever, required that he should stay and keep them company for the rest
of the day.

"Heaven knows, my poor Mary," he said, "how long we may have to remain
in this place; and we shall soon find it dull enough. The people whom
I expected to meet, have not yet appeared, and no tidings of them have
come; so we may as well keep this idle boy to make us merry; and if he
must go buy arms or lace jerkins for the court of Burgundy, why we
will go with him to Gutherun's Lane and the Jury; and you shall ride
your white palfrey for once along Cheape, with your gay side-saddle
quilted with gold; though in my young days--before King Richard
married Anne of Bohemia--never a lady in the land saw so foolish a
contrivance."

It may well be supposed that neither Mary Markham nor Richard of
Woodville was very much averse to such a proposal; and the rest of the
day passed in that April-morn happiness which all must have felt, ere
parting with those we love; when the cloudy thought of the dreary
morrow comes hourly sweeping over the sunshine of the present, yet
making the light seem more bright for the passing shadow. More than
once, too, the lovers were left for awhile alone; and every moment
added to their sweet store of vows and promises. Much was also told
that they had not had time to tell before, though it was still spoken
in rambling and unconnected form--the one predominant feeling always
intruding, and calling their thoughts and words back to what was
passing in their own hearts.

How many bitter moments pay for our sweet ones in this life! and yet
how willing are we all to make the purchase, whatever be the price!
The ambitious spirit of enjoyment is upon us, and we must still
enlarge the sphere of our delight, though--as when a conqueror
stretches the bounds of his empire, and thereby only exposes a wider
frontier to attack--each new hope, each new pleasure, each new
possession, but lays us open to loss, regret, and disappointment. It
is a sad view of human life; but Richard of Woodville and Mary Markham
found its truth when they came to feel how much more bitter was their
parting, for the few sweet hours of happiness they had enjoyed.



                            CHAPTER XIII.

                              THE WRONG.


The sun, scarce a hand's breadth above the sky, was nevertheless
shining with beams as bright and warm as in the summer, when Richard
of Woodville mounted his horse in the court-yard of the inn at Charing,
and, followed by his two yeomen and his page, rode out, after
receiving the valedictory speeches of the host and hostess, who,
with a little crowd, composed of drawers and maidens, and some of
their other guests, watched his departure, and commented upon his
strong yet graceful limbs, and his easy management of his charger,
prognosticating that he would prove stout in battlefield, and
fortunate in hall and bower. Near the fine chaste cross at
Charing--which stood hard by the spot where the grand libel upon
British taste, called Trafalgar Square, now stands--Woodville paused
for a moment, and letting his eye run past its grey fretwork, gazed
down in the direction of the palace and the Abbey, hesitating whether
he should take the shorter road by the convent of St. James, or, once
more passing through Westminster, ride under the windows of fair Mary
Markham, for the chance of one parting glance. I need not tell the
reader how the question was decided; but as he turned his horse's head
towards the palace, he saw a female figure standing upon the lower
step of the cross, with the hood, then usually worn by women when out,
drawn far over the face. The beautiful form, however, the small foot
and ankle appearing from beneath the short kirtle, and the wild
peculiar grace of the attitude, taken together, showed him at once
that it was poor Ella Brune; and he was riding forward to speak with
her, when she herself advanced and laid her hand upon his horse's
neck.

"I have been watching for you, noble sir," she said, "to bid you adieu
before you part, and to give you thanks from a poor but true heart."

"Nay, you should not have waited here, Ella," he replied; "why did you
not come to the inn?"

"I did, yesterday at vespers," answered the girl; "but you were
abroad; and the people laughed, as if I had done a folly. Your men
told me, however, you were going this morning at daybreak, and so I
waited here; for I would fain ask you one boon."

"And what is that, Ella?" inquired Woodville; "if it be possible to
grant, it shall not be refused; for I have so little to give, that I
must be no niggard of what I have."

"You can grant it," replied the girl, with a bright smile; "and you
will be a niggard indeed if you do not; for it is what can do you no
harm, and may stead me much in case of need. It is but to tell me
whither you go, and when, and how."

"That is easily said, my fair maiden," answered Woodville. "I go first
to my own place at Meon; then to the Court of Burgundy, at the end of
six days; and, as I would not cross through France, I go by sea from
Dover to a town called Nieuport, on the coast of Flanders. But say, is
there aught I can do for you before I send the man I told you of, to
give you what little assistance I can?"

"Send him not, send him not," cried the girl; "I am now rich--almost
too rich, thanks to your generous interference with our good King. He
sent me a large sum, by the hands of the bad knight, who killed the
poor old man."

"Ay!" said Richard of Woodville; "and did you see this Sir Simeon of
Roydon, my poor Ella? Beware of him; for he is not one to understand
you rightly, I fear."

"I am aware of him," answered the minstrel's girl; "and I abhor him.
He is a dark fearful man--but no more of that; I shall never see him
more, I trust, for his eyes chill my blood. He looked at me as I love
not men should look--not as you do, kindly and pitifully; but I know
not how--it can be felt, not told."

"I understand you, Ella," replied Richard of Woodville; "and his acts
are like his looks. He has made more than one unhappy heart in many a
cottage that once was blithe. I grieve the King sent him to you."

"Oh, 'twill do no harm," cried the girl. "I shall not long be here;
and I know him well. Would that I were not a woman!"

"What! would you avenge the wrong he did on that sad evening?" asked
Woodville, with a smile, to think how feeble that small hand would
prove in strife.

"No, not for that," she replied; "for I would try to forgive; but if I
were not what I am you would take me with you in your train, and then
I should be safe and happy."

"I trust you may be so still, even as a woman, poor girl," answered
Richard of Woodville; and, after a few more words of kindness and
comfort, he bade her adieu. Ella Brune's bright eyes glistened; and,
perhaps, she found it difficult to speak the parting words, for she
said no more, but, catching her young protector's hand, she pressed
her lips upon it, and drew back to let him pass.

It was impossible for Richard of Woodville not to feel touched and
interested; but he was not one to mistake her. He knew--not indeed by
the hard teaching of experience, but by the intuitive perception of a
feeling heart--how the unfortunate cling to those who show them
kindness, and could distinguish between the love of gratitude and that
of passion. He had purposely spoken gently and tenderly to her; and,
in proportion as he could do little to afford her substantial aid, had
tried to make his words and manner consoling and strengthening; and he
thought, "If any one had acted so to me, I should feel towards him as
this poor girl now feels in my case. Heaven guard her, poor thing, for
hers is a sad fate!"

In such meditations he rode on; but we will not at present follow him
on his way, turning rather to poor Ella Brune, who stood by the cross
gazing after him, till his horse taking a road to the right, about two
hundred yards before it reached the palace gate, was soon hidden by
the trees, just at the entrance of the town of Westminster.

With a deep sigh, she then bent her steps along the road leading by
the bank of the river towards the gate of the Temple, which was still
in a somewhat ruinous state from the attack made upon it in 1381. As
she went she looked not at the houses and gardens on either side--she
marked not the procession which came forth, with cross and banner,
from the convent on the right, nor the gay train that issued out of
the gates of a large embattled house on the left; but separating
herself from the people, who turned to gaze or hastened to follow, she
made her way on, seeking the little inn where she dwelt.

There were two other persons, however, who followed the same
course--men with swords by their side, and bucklers on their shoulder,
and a snake embroidered on the mourning habits that they wore. But
Ella saw them not--she was too deeply occupied with her own dark
thoughts. She seemed alone in the wide world--more alone than ever,
since Richard of Woodville had left the capital; and to be so is both
sad and perilous. How strange, how lamentable it is, that society,
that great wonderful confused institution, springing from man's
necessity for mutual aid and support, provides no prop, no stay for
those who are left alone in the midst of it; none to counsel, none to
help, none to defend against the worst of all evils--temptation to
vice. Of the body it takes some care; we must not cut, we must not
strike the flesh; we must not enthral it; we must not kill. But we may
wound, injure, destroy the spirit if we can, even at our pleasure. For
substantial things, we multiply regulations, safe-guards, penalties;
for the mind, on which all the rest so much depends, we provide none.
The philosophy of legislation has yet a great step to advance--a step,
perhaps, that may never--perhaps that can never--be taken; though of
one thing we may be sure--that, till the great Eutopian dream is
realized, and either by education, or some other means, a safeguard is
provided for the minds of men as well as their bodies and their
property, all the iron laws that can be enacted, will prove
insufficient for the protection of those more tangible things which we
think most easily defended. To regulate and guard the mind, especially
in youth, is to turn the river near its source, and to ensure that it
shall flow on in peace and bounty to the end; but to leave it
unguided, and yet by law to strive to restrain man's actions, is to
put weak floodgates against a torrent that we have suffered to
accumulate. But no more of this. Perhaps what has been already said is
too much, and out of place.

Yet, to return. It is strange and sad that society does afford no
stay, no support, to those who are left alone in the wide world; nay,
more, that to be so left, seems in a great degree to sever the bond
between us and society. "He must have some friends. Let him apply to
them," we are apt to say, whenever one of these solitary ones comes
before us, and whether it is advice, assistance, or defence, that is
needed. "He must have some friends!"--It is a phrase in constant use;
and, in our own hearts, we go on to say, "if he have not, he must have
lost them by his own fault;" and yet how many events may deprive man,
and much more frequently woman, of the only friends possessed!

Poor Ella Brune felt that she was indeed alone; that there was no one
to whom she could apply for anything that the heart and spirit of the
bereaved and desolate might need. She knew, that had she been a leper,
or halt, or blind, or fevered, she could have found those who would
have tended, cured, supported her; but there was no comfort, no aid,
for her loneliness; and scorn, or coldness, or selfish passion, or
greedy knavery, would have met her, had she asked any one, in the wide
crowd through which she passed, "Which way shall I turn my footsteps?
how shall I bend my course through life?"

She felt it deeply, bitterly, and, as I have said, walked on full of
her own sad thoughts, while the numbers round her grew less and less.
At length, in the sort of irregular street that, even then, began to
stretch out from the edge of Farringdon, without the walls, into the
country towards Charing, she was left with none near her but the two
men of whom we have spoken, and an old woman, walking slowly on
before. The men seemed to notice no one, and conversed with each other
in an under tone, till, in the midst of the highway, a little beyond
St. Clement's well, one or two small wooden houses appeared built in
the middle of the high road, with the end of a narrow lane leading up
to the Old Temple in Oldbourne, and the house of the Bishop of
Lincoln. There, however, one of them advanced a step, and spoke a word
to Ella Brune, over her shoulder.

"Whither away, pretty maiden?" he said. "Are you not going to see the
batch of country nobles who have come up to do homage?"

"I am going home," answered Ella Brune, gravely; "and want no
company;" and she hurried her pace to get rid of him. The next instant
the other man was by her side, and taking her arm roughly, he said,
"You must come with us first, our lord wishes to speak with you."

Ella Brune struggled to disengage herself, saying, "Let me go, sir; if
your lord wishes to speak with me, it must be at some other time. I
have people expecting me hard by. Let me go, I say."

"Ay, we know all about it," rejoined the man, still keeping his hold,
and drawing her towards the mouth of the lane. "You live at the
Falcon, pretty mistress; but you must go with us first."

The sounds behind her had caused the old woman to turn round the
moment before, and, seeing Ella struggling to free herself from the
man who held her, she turned to remonstrate, exclaiming, "What are you
about, sirs? Let the young woman go!"

"Get you gone, old beldame!" cried the other man, thrusting her back.
"What is it to you?" and at the same time he seized Ella by the other
arm, and hurried her on, in spite of her resistance.

"Beldame, indeed!" exclaimed the old woman, gazing after them. "Marry,
thou art not civil. If thou callest me so, I will call thee Davy.[2] I
will see whither they go, however;" and thus saying, at the utmost
speed she could master, she followed the men who were dragging poor
Ella Brune along, calling in vain for help--for the houses in that
part of the suburb were few, and principally consisted either of the
large gothic mansions of the nobility, shut in within their own gates
and surrounded by gardens, or the inns of prelates, isolated in the
same manner. Whither they were dragging her, the old woman could not
divine: for she thought it unlikely that any of the persons who dwelt
in that neighbourhood would sanction such a violent act. Ella herself,
however, knew right well, for she had taken the same road the day
before, on her brief visit to Sir Simeon of Roydon. Peril and
wandering, and sad chances of various kinds, such as seldom are the
lot of one so young, had taught her to remark every particular that
passed before her eyes with a precision which fixed things in her
memory that might have escaped the sight of others; and she had seen
the snake embroidered on the breast and back of the knight's servants,
and recognised the badge instantly on those who held her.


---------------------

[Footnote 2: A common expression of the lower classes of Londoners in
old times.]

---------------------


As she expected, the men stopped at the gates of the house, which were
open, and dragged her into the court; but her cries and her resistance
ceased the moment she had reached that place, for she knew that they
were both in vain, and made up her mind from that moment to the course
which she had to pursue.

"Ha, ha! pretty maiden," said the man who had first spoken to her.
"You are now willing to go, are you? Our lord is not lightly to be
refused a visit from any fair dame. Come, come, I can manage her now,
Pilcher; you stay at the foot of the stairs. Will you come willingly,
girl, or must we carry you?"

"I will come," answered Ella Brune; "not willingly, but because I
must;" and, with the man still holding her by the arm, she mounted one
of the flights of stairs which led straight from the court-yard to the
rooms above. Following a long corridor, or gallery, lighted by a large
window at the end, the man led her from the top of the stairs towards
the back part of the house, and, opening a door on the right, bade her
go in. After one hasty glance around, which showed her that it was
vacant, she entered the small cabinet which was before her, and the
door was immediately shut and locked. She now found herself in a dark
and gloomy chamber, which probably had been originally intended either
for secret conferences, or for a place of meditation and prayer, where
the eye could not distract the mind by catching any of the objects
without; for the only window which it possessed was so high up in the
wall, that the sill was above the eyes of any person of ordinary
height. There was but one door, too--that by which she had entered;
and the whole of the walls of the room was covered with black oak, of
which also the beams overhead were formed. A few chairs and a small
table composed the only furniture which it contained; and Ella paused
in the midst, leaning upon the table in deep thought. Her mind,
indeed, was bent only on one point. What were the purposes of Sir
Simeon of Roydon, she did not even ask herself; for she knew right
well that they were evil. Nor did she consider what she should answer,
or how she should act; for a strong and resolute mind judges and
decides with a rapidity marvellous in the eyes of the slow and
hesitating; and her determination was already formed. Her only inquiry
was, what were the means of escape from the chamber in which she had
been placed, what was its position in regard to the apartments which
she had visited on the previous day, and which had appeared to be
those usually occupied by Roydon himself.

After thinking for some moments, and retracing with the aid of memory
every step she had taken in the house, both on that morning and the
day before, she judged, and judged rightly, that the chamber in which
she had seen the knight must join that in which she now stood, though
she had reached it by another entrance. The sound of voices, which she
soon after heard speaking in a different direction from the gallery,
confirmed her in that belief; for, though she could not distinguish
any of the words, she felt convinced that the tones were those of Sir
Simeon of Roydon, and of the man who had brought her thither.

At length the speakers ceased, a door opened and shut, and then the
key was turned in the lock of that which gave entrance to the room
where she was confined. As she expected, the next moment Simeon of
Roydon stood before her, bearing a sort of laughing triumph in his
face, which only increased her abhorrence. He was advancing quickly,
as if to take her hand, but she drew back, with her eyes fixed upon
him, saying, "Come not too near, sir. I am somewhat dangerous at
times, when I am offended."

"Why, what folly is this, my sweet Ella!" said the knight; "my people
tell me that you have resisted like a young wolf."

"You may find me more of a wolf than you suppose," replied Ella Brune,
coldly.

"Nay," answered Sir Simeon, "we have ways of taming wolves--but I seek
nothing but your good and happiness, foolish girl. Is it not much
better for you to live in comfort and luxury, with rich garments, and
dainty food, and glowing wine, to lie soft, and have no task, but to
sing and play and please yourself, than to wander about over the wide
world, the sport of 'prentices, or the companion of ruffians?"

"There are ruffians in all stations." rejoined Ella Brune; "else had I
not been here."

The cheek of the knight glowed with an angry spot; but then again he
laughed the moment after, in a tone more of mockery than of merriment,
saying, "We will tame thee, pretty wolf, we will tame thee. Thou
showest thy white teeth; but thou wilt not bite."

"Be not sure of that," answered Ella Brune. "I know well how to defend
myself, should need be, and have done so before now."

"Well, we will see," replied Sir Simeon; "it takes some time to break
a horse or hound, or train a hawk; and you shall have space allowed
you. All soft and kindly entertainment shall you have. With me shall
you eat and drink, and talk and sing, if you will. You shall have
courtship, like a lady of the land, to try whether gentle means will
do. But mark me, pretty Ella, if they will not, we must try others. I
am resolved that you shall be mine by force, if not by kindness."

"You dare not use it," answered Ella Brune.

"And why not?" demanded the knight, with a haughty smile; "I have done
more daring things than vanquish a coy maiden."

"I know you have," said Ella Brune, in a grave and fearless tone; "but
I will tell you why not. First, because, whatever be your care, it
would come to the King's ears, and you would pay for it with your
head. Next, because I carry about me wherewithal to defend myself;"
and, putting her hand into her bosom, she drew forth a small short
broad-bladed knife, in a silver case. "This is my only friend left me
here," she continued; "and you may think, perchance, most gallant
knight, and warrior upon women, that this, in so weak a hand as mine,
is no very frightful weapon. But, let me tell you, that it was
tempered in distant lands--ay, and anointed too; and you had better
far give your heart to the bite of the most poisonous snake that
crawls the valley of Egypt, than receive the lightest scratch from
this. The hilt is always at hand--so, beware!"

"Oh, we have antidotes," replied the knight; "antidotes for everything
but love, sweet maid--and I swear, by your own bright eyes, that you
shall be mine--so 'tis vain to resist. You shall have three days of
tenderness; and then I may take a different tone."

As he spoke, some one knocked for the second time--the first had been
unheeded. The knight turned to the door, and opened it, demanding
impatiently, "What is it?"

"The Lord Combe and Sir Harry Alsover are in the court, desiring to
speak with you," replied the servant who appeared.

"Well, take them up to the other chamber," answered the knight; and,
without saying more to his fair captive, he quitted the room, and once
more locked the door.

The moment he was in the corridor, however, he stopped, saying, in a
meditative tone, "Stay, Easton." He hesitated for an instant, asking
himself whether it were worth his while to pursue this course any
farther, for a low minstrel girl, against such unexpected resistance.

The hand of Heaven almost always, in its great mercy, casts obstacles
in the way of the gratification of our baser passions, which give us
time for thought and for repentance; so that, in almost every case, if
we commit sin or crime, it is with the perverse determination of
conquering both impediments and conviction. Conscience is seldom, if
ever, left unaided by circumstances. But the wicked find, in those
very circumstances which oppose their course, motives for pursuing it
more fiercely.

"No!" said Sir Simeon of Roydon, to himself--"By--! she shall not
conquer me!--Tell the King!--She shall never have the means; for I
will either tame her, till she be but my bird, to sing what note I
please, or I will silence her tongue effectually. To be conquered by a
woman!--No, no! She is very lovely; and her very lion look is worth
all the soft simpering smiles on earth. Hark ye, Easton: there is a
druggist, down by the Vintry, with whom I have had some dealings in
days of yore. This girl has a poisoned dagger about her, which must be
got from her. 'Tis a marvel she used it not on you, as you brought her
along, for she drew it forth on me but now. The man's name is Tyler;
and he would sell his soul for gold. Tell him that I have need of some
cunning drug to make men sleep--to sleep, I say--understand me, not to
die: to sleep so sound, however, that a light touch, or a low tone,
would not awaken them. It must have as little taste as may be, that we
may put it in her drink, or in her food; and then, while she sleeps,
we'll draw the lion's teeth. He will give you anything for a noble;"
and, after these innocent directions, the knight betook himself to the
chamber whither he had directed his friends to be brought, and was
soon in full tide of laughter and merriment at all the idle stories of
the Court.



                             CHAPTER XIV.

                             THE REMEDY.


Nearly opposite to the old, half ruined gate of the Temple, there
commenced, in the days I speak of, a very narrow lane, which wound up
northward, till it joined the place now called Holborn, passing, in
its course, under the walls of the inn, or house, of the Bishop of
Lincoln, round his garden wall, and through the grounds of the Old
Temple house, inhabited by the Knights Templars, before they built a
dwelling for themselves, by the banks of the Thames. This Temple
house, still called the Old Temple in the reign of Henry V., had been
abandoned by the brethren in the year 1184, or thereabout. For some
time it was used to lodge any of the fraternity who might visit
England from foreign countries, when the new building was too full to
afford them accommodation; but gradually this custom ceased, even
before the suppression of the Order, and at its dissolution the Old
Temple fell into sore decay. When the lands of the Templars were
afterwards granted to the Knights of St. John, certain portions of the
building, and several of the out-buildings, were granted by them to
various artisans, who found it more convenient to carry on their
several pursuits beyond the actual precincts of the city of London.
One large antique gate, of heavy architecture, with immense walls, and
with rooms in either of the two towers which flanked the lane I have
mentioned, was tenanted by an armourer, who had erected his stithy
behind, and who stored his various completed arms in the chamber on
the right of the gate, where the porter had formerly lodged. Over the
window of this room was suspended, under a rude penthouse of straw, to
keep it from the rain, a huge casque, indicative of the tenant's
profession; and, at about eight o'clock of the same morning on which
Richard of Woodville quitted London, a little cavalcade, consisting of
a tall gaunt old man on a strong black horse, a young lady on a white
genet, and three stout yeomen, rode slowly up to the gate-house, and
drew their bridles there, pausing to gaze for a moment or two through
the deep arch at the forge beyond, where the flame glowed and the
anvil rang, throwing a red glare into the shadowy doorway, and
drowning the sound of the horses' feet.

"Halloo! Launcelot Plasse!" cried old Sir Philip Beauchamp, in as loud
a tone as he thought needful to call the attention of the person he
wanted--"halloo!"

But the cyclops within went on with their hammering; and, after
another ineffectual effort to make them hear, the good knight called
up his men to hold the horses, and lifting Mary Markham as lightly to
the ground as if she had been but the weight of a feather, he said,
"We must go in and bellow in this deaf man's ear, till we outdo his
own noise. Stay here, Mary, I will rouse him;" and, advancing through
the open gate, he seized the bare arm of the armourer, exclaiming,
"What, Launcelot! wouldst thou brain me?--Why, how now, man! has the
roaring of thine own forge deafened thee?"

The elderly white-headed man to whom he spoke turned round and gazed
at him, leaning his strong muscular arm upon his hammer, and wiping
the drops from his brow. "By St. Jude!" he cried, after a moment's
consideration, "I think it is Sir Philip Beauchamp. Yet your head is
as white as the ashes, and when I knew him it was a grizzled black,
like pauldrons traced with silver lines; and you are mighty thin and
bony for stout Sir Philip, whose right hand would have knocked down an
ox!"

"Fifteen years, Launcelot! fifteen years!" answered the knight; "they
bend a stout frame, as thou beatest out a bit of iron; and, if my head
be white, thy black hairs are more easy to be counted than found. Yet
both our arms might do some service in their own way yet."

"Well, I am glad to see you again, noble knight," replied the
armourer; "though I thought that it would be no more, before you and I
went our ways to dust. But, what lack you? There must be some wars
toward, to bring an old knight to the stithy; for well I wot, you are
not going to buy a tilting suit, or do battle for a fair lady. God
send us some good wholesome wars right soon! We have had nothing
lately, but the emprise of the Duke of Clarence. King Harry the Fourth
got tired of his armour; pray Heaven, his son love the weight better,
or I must let the forge cool, and that were a shame."

"Nay, 'tis not for myself," replied Sir Philip. "I have more arms,
Launcelot, than ever I shall don in life again. My next suit--unless
the King make haste--will be in the chancel of the church at Abbot's
Ann. What I want is for my nephew, Dickon of Woodville; he is going to
foreign lands, in search of renown; and I would fain choose him a suit
myself, for you know I am somewhat of a judge in steel."

"You were always accounted so, noble sir," replied the armourer, with
a grave and important face; "and, if you had not been a knight, might
have taken my trade out of my hands. But whither does Childe Richard
go? We must know that, for every land has its own arms; and it would
not do to give him for Italy what is good for France, nor for
Palestine what would suit Italy."

The old knight informed him that his nephew was first to visit
Burgundy; and the armourer exclaimed, with a well satisfied air, "Then
I can provide him to a point; for I have Burgundian arms all ready,
even to flaming swords, if he must have them; but 'tis a foolish and
fanciful weapon, far less serviceable than the good straight edge and
point. But come, Sir Philip, let us go into the armoury. 'Tis well
nigh crammed full, for gentlemen buy little; and yet I go on hammering
with my men, till I have put all the money that I got in the wars,
into arms."

Thus saying, he covered himself with the leathern jerkin, which he had
cast off while at work, and returned with his old acquaintance to the
room in which the various pieces of armour, that he kept ready, were
preserved. Sir Philip called Mary Markham to assist in the choice; but
it soon became evident to both, that no selection could be made in
good Launcelot Plasse's armoury--for not only was the room, to their
eyes, as dark as the pit of Acheron, but the armour was piled up in
such confused heaps, that it was hardly possible to take a step
therein without stumbling over breast-plate or bascinet, pauldrons or
brassières.

"Fie, Launcelot, fie!" cried Sir Philip; "this is a sad deranged show.
Why, a stout man-at-arms always keeps his armour in array."

"When he has room and time, Sir Philip," answered the man; "but here I
have neither. However, you and the fair lady go forth under the arch,
and I will bring you out what is wanted. Here, knave Martin," he
continued, calling one of his men from the forge, "bring out the great
bench, and set it under the gate, quick!--What is your nephew's
height, Sir Philip?"

"What my own used to be," replied the old knight; "six feet and half
an inch--and there is his measure round the waist."

The bench was soon brought forward, being nothing else than a large
solid table of some six inches thick; and by it Sir Philip Beauchamp
and fair Mary Markham took their station, while Launcelot Plasse, with
the aid of one of his men, dug out from the piles within, various
pieces of armour which he thought might suit the taste of his old
customer, laying them down at the door, to be brought forward as
required. The first article, however, that he carried to the bench,
was a cuirass of one piece, evidently old--for not only was it
somewhat rusty about the angles, but in the centre there was a large
rough-edged hole.

"Why, what is this?" exclaimed Sir Philip; "this will never do--"

"Nay, it has done, and left undone enough," replied the armourer. "I
brought it but to show you. In that placcate was killed Harry Hotspur.
I do not say that was the hole that let death in; for men aver that it
was a stab in the throat with a coustel, when he was down, that slew
him; but the blow that made _that_ bore him to the ground, other wise
Shrewsbury field might have gone differently. Now I will fetch the
rest. You see, fairest lady, what gentlemen undergo for the love of
praise, and your bright eyes."

Thus saying, he took back the breast-plate, and brought forward,
supported on his arm, one of the bascinets or casques worn in the
field, which were lighter and considerably smaller than the jousting
helmets. It was of a round or globular shape, with a small elevation
at the top, in which to fix the feathers then usually displayed; and
on the forehead was a plate, or band of white enamel, inscribed with
the words, "Ave Maria." Sir Philip Beauchamp made some objections to
the form; but Mary Markham, after she had read the inscription,
pronounced in favour of the bascinet; and the armourer himself had so
much to say of its defensive qualities, of the excellent invention of
making the ventaille rise by plates from below, and of the temper of
the steel, that Sir Philip, after having examined it minutely, waived
his objections. The price being fixed, the body armour to match was
brought forward, piece by piece, and laid upon the bench. It was of
complete plate, as was now the custom of the day, but yet many pieces
of the old chain hauberk were retained to cover the joinings of the
different parts. Thus beneath the gorget, or camail, which covered the
throat, was a sort of tippet formed of interlaced rings of steel, to
hang down over the cuirass and afford additional protection; while, at
the same time, from the tassets which terminated the cuirass, hung a
broad edge of the same, to complete their junction with the cuissards,
or thigh pieces.

This arrangement pleased the old knight very much; for it was a
remnant of the customs of ancient times, when he himself was young,
and which totally disappeared before many years were over; but with
the cuirass he quarrelled very much, exclaiming, "What, will men never
have done with their idle fancies? 'Tis bad enough to divide the
breast-plate into two, and hang the lower part to the upper by that
red strap and buckle; but what is the use of sticking out the breast,
like that of a fat-cropped pigeon?"

"It gives greater use to the arms, noble sir," replied Launcelot
Plasse, "and turns a lance much easier, from being quite round.
Besides, it is the fashion of the court of Burgundy: and no noble
gentleman could appear there well without. The palettes, too, you see,
are shaped like a fan, and gilt with quaint figures at the corners. It
cost me nine days to make these palettes alone, and the genouillières,
which have the same work upon them. Then the pauldrons--see how they
are artfully turned over at the top of the shoulder with a gilt
bordure."

"And pray, what may that be for?" demanded the old knight; "we had no
such tricks in my days to make a man look like a cray-fish."

"That is to give the arm fuller sweep and sway, either with axe or
sword," answered the armourer. "You can thus raise your hand quite up
to your very crest, which you could never do before, since pauldrons
were invented."

"We used to give good stout strokes in the year eighty," rejoined Sir
Philip Beauchamp, "as you well know, Master Launcelot. But boys must
have boys' things--so let it pass; but, what between one piece and
another, it will take a man an hour to get into his harness, with all
these buckles and straps. But I will tell you what, Master Launcelot,
I will have no tuilles over the cuissards; they were a barbarous and
unnatural custom, and very inconvenient too. I was once nearly thrown
to the ground in Gascony, by the point catching the saddle as I
mounted."

"Oh! they are quite gone out of use," replied the armourer; "and we
now either make the tassets long, or add a guipon of mail, coming down
to the thighs."

The jambes or steel boots, the sollerets or coverings for the feet,
the brassards, gauntlets, and vambraces were then discussed and
purchased, not without some chaffering on the part of the old knight,
who was a connoisseur in the price as well as in the fashion of
armour; but Launcelot Plasse had so much to say in favour of his
commodities, that he obtained very nearly the sum he demanded.

He then proceeded to prove to Sir Philip Beauchamp, that the suit
would not be complete without the testière, the chanfron, and the
manefaire and poitral of, the horse to correspond; and, though his
customer was not inclined to spend anymore money, yet a soft word or
two from Mary Markham won the day for the armourer, and he was
directed to bring forth the horse armour for inspection.

While he and his men were busy fulfilling this command, the old knight
turned, hearing some one speaking eagerly, and apparently imploringly,
to his attendants; and, seeing an old woman poorly dressed conversing
with them, he inquired, "What does the woman want, Hugh?"

"Ah! noble sir," replied the old dame, "if you would but interfere, it
might save sin and wrong. I have just seen a poor girl dragged away by
two men up to a house in the lane, called Burwash-house, where they
have taken her in against her will."

"Ha!" cried Sir Philip Beauchamp; "why, he is an old and reverend man,
my good Lord of Burwash, and will not suffer such things in his
mansion. I will send up one of the men to tell him."

"The noble lord is not there, fair sir," replied the woman; "but he
has lent his house to some gay knight, whose men do what they please
with the poor people. 'Tis but yesterday my own child was struck by
one of them."

"If there be wrong done, you must go to the officers of the duchy,
good woman," answered the knight, whose blood was cold with age, and
who could be prudent till he was chafed. "I will send one of the
yeomen with you, to get you a hearing. These things should be amended;
but when Kings' sons will beat the citizens, and brawl in Cheape,
there is no great hope."

"Good faith, Sir Philip!" cried the armourer, who had just come forth,
bearing the manefaire upon his arm, "if it be the Duke of Clarence you
speak of, and his brother John, 'twas they got beaten, and did not
beat. We Londoners are sturdy knaves, and take not drubbings
patiently, whether from lord or prince."

"And you are right, too," replied the old knight; "men are not made to
be the sport of other men. But what's to be done about this girl,
Launcelot? You know the customs here better than I do. The good woman
says they have carried a girl off against her will to Burwash-house
here, hard by."

"Why, that's the back of it," cried Launcelot Plasse. "The old lord is
not there, but in his stead one Sir Simeon of Roydon, who, if I
mistake not, will never win much renown by stroke of lance. Wait a
minute, my good woman, till I have sold my goods, and then I and my
men will go up with you, and set the girl free, or it shall go hard,
if you are certain she was taken against her will."

"She shrieked loud enough to make you all hear," replied the old
woman.

"I thought there was a noise when we were hammering at the back
piece," observed one of the men.

"I heard nothing," said Launcelot Plasse.

"Oh, go at once, go at once," cried Mary Markham; "you know not how
she may be treated. We can wait till you return. Send the men with
them, dear Sir Philip."

"I will go myself, Mary," replied the knight. "Come along, my men,
leave one with the horses, and the rest follow."

"I am with you, Sir Philip," cried the armourer. "Bring your hammers,
lads, we will make short work of oaken doors."

But ere Sir Philip Beauchamp had taken two steps up the lane, the
casement of a large window in the house which had been pointed out,
was thrown suddenly open, and a woman's head appeared. The sill of the
window was some twelve or fourteen feet from the ground; but, to the
surprise of all, without seeming to pause for a moment, the girl whom
they beheld set her foot upon it, caught the iron bar which ran down
the middle of the casement, seemed to twist something round it, and
then suffered herself to drop, hanging by her hands, first from the
bar, and then from a scarf.

She was still some five or six feet from the ground, however; and Mary
Markham, who had been watching eagerly, clasped her hands, and turned
away her head. Sir Philip Beauchamp, and the men who accompanied him
paused, and they could hear a voice from within exclaim, "Follow her
like light, by the back door! She will to the King, and that were
ruin. What fear you, fool? She has broken the dagger in the lock, do
you not see?"

As he spoke, the girl, after a momentary hesitation, during which she
hung suspended by the hands, wavering with the motion which she had
given herself in dropping from above, let go her hold, and sank to the
ground. Fortunately the lane was soft and sandy; and she fell light,
coming down, indeed, upon one knee, but instantly starting up again
unhurt.

She then gazed wildly round her for an instant, and put her hand to
her head, as if asking herself whither she should fly; but the sight
of the old knight and his companions, and the sound of an opening door
on the other side, brought her indecision quickly to an end, and
running rapidly forward, she cast herself at Sir Philip Beauchamp's
feet, embracing his knee, and crying, "Save me!--save me, noble sir!"

At the moment she reached the good old man, two stout fellows, who had
rushed from a door in the wall, and followed her at full speed, were
within two paces of her; and one of them caught her by the arm, even
at the knight's feet, as he was in the act of commanding him to keep
aloof.

"Stand back, fellow!" thundered Sir Philip Beauchamp, with the blood
coming up into his withered cheek; and the next moment, in the midst
of an insolent reply, he struck the knave in the face with his
clenched fist, knocking him backwards all bloody on the ground.

The other man, who had more than once accompanied Sir Simeon of Roydon
to Dunbury, and recognised its lord, slunk back to the house, stopped
some others who were following, and then hastened in, to tell his
master in whom Ella Brune had found a protector.

The man who had been knocked down, rose, gazed fiercely at the knight,
and then looked behind him for support; but seeing his companions
retreating, he too retrod his steps, not without muttering some
threats of vengeance; while the old armourer cried after him, "Never
show your faces again in the lane, knaves, or we will hide you back
like hounds, or pound you like strayed swine."

In the meanwhile, Sir Philip had raised up the poor girl; and Mary
Markham was soothing her tenderly, as Ella, finding herself safe, gave
way to the tears which her strong resolution had repressed in the
actual moment of difficulty and danger.

"Come, come, do not weep, poor thing," said the knight, laying his
large, bony hand upon her shoulder. "We will take care of you. Who is
it that has done this?"

"A bad man, called Simeon of Roydon," replied Ella Brune, wiping away
the tears.

"We know him," said Mary Markham, in a kindly tone; "and do not love
him, my poor girl."

"And I have cause to love him less, noble lady," replied Ella Brune,
waving her head mournfully. "'Tis but two nights ago he killed the
last friend I had; and now he would have wronged me shamefully."

"Killed him!" exclaimed Mary; "what! murdered him?"

"'Twas the same as murder," replied the girl; "he rode him down in a
mad frolic--a poor blind man. He is not yet in his grave."

"Come, come--be comforted," said Sir Philip. "Let us hear how all this
chanced."

"We will be your friends, poor girl," added Mary Markham; and then,
turning to the old knight, she asked, in a low tone, "can we not take
her home with us?"

Sir Philip gazed at the minstrel's girl from head to foot, and then
shrugged his shoulders slightly, with a significant look, as he
remarked her somewhat singular dress.

"Nay, nay," said Mary Markham, in the same low tone; "do not let that
stop you, noble friend. There may be some good amongst even them."

"Well, be it as you will, Mary," answered the old knight; "she must be
better than she looks, to do as she has done. Come, poor thing--you
shall go home with us, and there tell us more. Wait till I have
finished the purchase of this harness, and we will go along back to
Westminster; though how to take you through the streets in that guise,
I do not well know."

"Get a boat, sir, at a landing by the Temple," said Launcelot Plasse,
"and send the horses by land."

"A good thought," replied the knight; and thus it was arranged, the
whole party returning to the armourer's shop, and thence, after the
bargain was made, and all directions were given, proceeding to the
water-side, where a boat was soon procured, which bore them speedily
to the landing-place at Westminster.



                             CHAPTER XV.

                             THE PILGRIM.


One morning, while the events which I have lately detailed were
passing in the city of London, a man in a long brown gown, with a
staff in his hand, a cross upon his shoulder, and a cockle-shell in
his hat, walked slowly, and apparently wearily, into the little
village of Abbot's Ann, and sat himself down on a stone bench before
the reeve's door.

Recognising the pilgrim from some far distant land as she looked out
of her casement window, the good dame, with the charitable spirit of
the age, took him forth some broken victuals and a cup of ale, and
inquired what news he brought from over sea. The wanderer, however,
seemed more inclined to ask than answer questions, and was apparently
full of wonder and amazement at the tragic story--which he had just
heard, he said--of the death of the Lady Catherine Beauchamp. He
prayed the good woman, for love and for charity's sake, to tell him
all about it; and she, very willing to gratify him--for every country
gossip gains dignity while telling a horrible tale--began at the
beginning of the affair, as far as she knew it; and related how, just
on the night after the last Glutton mass, as Childe Richard of
Woodville, their lord's nephew, was riding down the road with a
friend, he heard a shriek, and, on hurrying to the water, found the
body of the poor young lady floating down the stream; how the two
gentlemen bore her to the chanter's cottage; and how marks were found
upon her person, which seemed to prove that she had come to her death
by unfair means.

"And has the murderer been discovered, sister?" inquired the old
pilgrim.

"Alas, no!" replied the reeve's wife; "there have been whispers about,
but nothing certain."

"Ay, murder will out, sooner or later," answered the pilgrim. "And
whom did the whispers point at?"

"Nay," replied Dame Julian, "I know not that I ought to say; but, to a
reverend man like you, who have visited the shrine of St. James, there
can be no harm in speaking of these things, especially as we all know
that the whispers are false. Well, then--but you must tell nobody what
I say--the lady's own lover--husband, indeed, I might call him, for
they were betrothed by holy church--has been accused of having done
the deed; but every one who knows Sir Harry Dacre is right sure that
he would have sooner cut off both his hands; and, besides, the miller
of Clatford Mill told me--'twas but yesterday morning--that, half an
hour before sunset, on that very day when all this happened, he saw
Sir Harry at his own place, and opened the gate for him to go through.
He remembered it, he said, because the knight had torn his hand with a
nail in the gate, by trying to open it without dismounting; and as
soon as he was through, he rode on towards Wey Hill, which is quite
away from here."

"Might he not have come back again by some other road?" asked the
pilgrim.

"No," answered Dame Julian, "not without going four miles round; and,
besides, the miller told me that his man Job saw the knight, half an
hour after, at the top of Wey Hill, halting his horse, and gazing at
the sun setting. Now that's a good way off, and this deed was done
just after close of day."

"Then that clears him," replied the pilgrim; "but is there no one else
suspected?"

The good woman shook her head, and he added--"Was nobody seen about
here who might have had cause to wish the lady ill?"

"None," said Dame Julian, with a low laugh, "but one who might perhaps
wish her dead; for he got all her wealth, which was prodigious, they
say."

"Ay, was he seen about, then?" demanded the pilgrim; "there might be
suspicion there."

"Why," said the reeve's wife, "he was staying up at the Hall, and
passed homeward about three. It might be a little later, but not much.
What became of him afterwards I do not know; and yet, now I think of
it, he must have remained in the place some time, for he was seen an
hour after, or more, by a girl, who asked me who he was."

"Tis a wonder she did not know him," said the pilgrim, "if she lives
in this place."

"But that she does not," answered Dame Julian. "She dwells a good way
off, and was here by chance."

"Ay, 'tis a sad tale, indeed," rejoined her companion; "but I must go,
good dame. Gramercy for your bounty. But tell me,--I saw an abbey as I
came along; have they any famous relics there?"

"Ay, that they have," rejoined the reeve's wife, with a look of pride.
"Our abbey is as rich in relics as any other in England;" and she
began an enumeration of all the valuable things that it contained;
amongst which, the objects that she seemed to set the greatest store
by, was a finger of St. Luke the Evangelist, the veil of the blessed
Virgin, and one of the ribs of St. Ursula.

The pilgrim declared that he must positively go and visit them, as he
never passed any holy relics without sanctifying himself by their
touch.

He accordingly took his way towards the abbey direct, and visited and
prayed at the several shrines which the church contained, having
secured the company and guidance of one of the monks, who were always
extremely civil and kind to pilgrims and palmers, when they did not
come exactly in the guise of beggars. The present pilgrim was of a
very different quality; and he completely won the good graces and
admiration of the attendant monk, not so much, indeed, by the devotion
with which he told his beads and repeated his prayers, as by his
generosity in laying down a large piece of silver before the rib of
St. Ursula, another at the shrine of St. Luke, and a small piece of
gold opposite to the veil of the blessed Virgin.

Having thus prepared the way, the stranger proceeded to open a
conversation with the monk, somewhat similar to that which he had held
with Dame Julian, the reeve's wife; and now a torrent of information
flowed in upon him; for his companion had been one of the brethren who
accompanied the abbot to the cottage whither the body of Catherine
Beauchamp had been carried. The tale, however, though told with much
loquacity, furnished but few particulars beyond those which the
pilgrim had already gained; for the monk appeared a meek, good man,
who took everything as he found it, and deduced but little from
anything that he heard. All that he knew, indeed, he was ready to
tell; but he had neither readiness nor penetration sufficient to
gather much information, or to sift the corn from the chaff.

The pilgrim seemed somewhat disappointed, for he was certainly anxious
to hear more; and he was on the eve of leaving the church unsatisfied,
when he beheld another monk pacing the opposite aisle, with a grave,
and even dull air. He was an old man, with a short, thin, white beard,
and heavy features, which, till one examined closely, gave an
expression of stupidity to his whole countenance, only relieved by the
small, elephant-like eye, which sparkled brightly under its shaggy
eyebrow.

"What brother is that?" demanded the pilgrim, looking across the
church.

"Oh, that is brother Martin," replied the monk; "a dull and silent
man, from whom you will get nothing. He is skilled in drugs and
medicines, it is true. His cell is like an alchymist's shop; but we
all think he must have committed some great sin in days of old, for
half his time is spent in prayers and penances, and the other half in
distilling liquors, or roasting lumps of clay and other stuffs in
crucibles and furnaces. 'Tis rather hard, the lord abbot favours him
so much, and has granted him two cells, the best in the whole
monastery, to follow these vain studies, which, in my mind, come near
to magic and sorcery. I saw him once, with my own eyes, make a piece
of paper, cut in the shape of a man, dance upright, as if it had
life."

"I will speak to him," said the pilgrim, "and will soon let you know
if there be anything forbidden in his studies; for I have been in
lands full of witches and sorcerers, and have learnt to discover them
in an instant."

"'Tis a marvel if he answers you at all," replied the monk; "for he's
as silent as a frog; but, I pray you, let me hear what you think of
him."

"Ay, that I will," rejoined the stranger; "but you must keep away
while we talk together, lest the presence of another might close his
lips. I will seek you out afterwards, brother; I think your name is
Clement? so the porter told me."

"The same, the same," replied the monk. "I will go to the refectory."
But, before he went, he paused for a minute or two, and watched the
pilgrim crossing the nave, and addressing brother Martin. At first, he
seemed to receive no answer but a monosyllable. The next instant,
however, much to his surprise, Clement saw the silent brother turn
round, gaze intently upon the pilgrim's face, and then enter into an
eager conversation with him. What was the subject of which they spoke
he could not divine, or, rather, what was the secret by which the
pilgrim had contrived to break the charmed taciturnity of silent
brother Martin; and his curiosity was so much excited, that he thought
fit to cross over also, though with a slow and solemn step, in order
to benefit by this rare accident. The small, clear, grey eye of
brother Martin, however, caught Clement's movements in a moment, and
laying his hand upon the sleeve of the pilgrim's gown, he led him,
with a quick step, through a small side door that opened into the
cloister, and thence to his own cell, leaving the inquisitive monk,
who did not choose to discompose his dignity, or shake his fat sides
by rapid motion, behind them in the church.

What turn their communications took, and whether the pilgrim
discovered or not that brother Martin was addicted to the black art,
Clement never learned--for the faithless visitor of the abbey totally
forgot to fulfil his promise; and when, at the end of about two hours,
he took his departure, it was by the back door leading from the
cloister over the fields. The high road was at no great distance, and
along it he trudged with a much more light and active step than that
which had borne him into the village on his first appearance; so that,
had good Dame Julian, the reeve's wife, seen him as he went back, she
might have been inclined to think that brother Martin had employed
upon him some magical device, to change age into youth.

About half a mile from Andover, the pilgrim turned a little from the
road, and, sitting down in a neighbouring field, took out of his
wallet a large kerchief, and an ordinary hood,--then stripped off his
brown gown and hat, laying them deliberately in the kerchief, and next
divested himself of a quantity of white hair, which left him with a
shock head of a lightish brown hue, a short tabard of blue cloth, a
stout pair of riding boots, and a dagger at his girdle.

"So ends my pilgrimage!" said Ned Dyram, as he packed up his disguise
in the napkin; "and, by my faith, I have brought home my wallet well
stored. Out upon it!--am I to labour thus always for others? No, by my
faith! I will at least keep some of the crusts I have got for myself;
and if others want them they must pay for them. Let me see;--we will
divide them fairly. Dame Julian and brother Clement in one lot;
brother Martin in the other. That will do; and if aught be said about
it hereafter, I will speak the truth, and avow that, had I been paid,
I would have spoken. Alchemy is a great thing;--without its aid I
could never have transmuted brother Martin's leaden silence into such
golden loquacity. Why, I have taught the old man more in an hour than
he has learned in his life before; and he has given wheat for rye; so
that we are even."

With these sage reflections, Ned Dyram put his packet under his arm
and walked on to Andover--where, at a little hostelry by the side of
the river, he paused and called for his horse, which was soon brought.
A cup of ale sufficed him for refreshment, and after he had drained it
to the dregs, he trotted off upon the road to London, still meditating
over all that he had learned at Abbot's Ann and Dunbury Abbey, and
somewhat hesitating as to the course which he had to pursue.

It would afford little either of instruction or amusement, were I to
trace all the reflections of a cunning but wayward mind--for such was
that of Edward Dyram. Naturally possessed of considerable abilities,
quick in acquirements, retentive in memory, keen, observing,
dexterous, he might have risen to wealth, and perhaps distinction; for
his were not talents of that kind which led some of the best scholars
of that day to beg from door to door, with a certificate of their
profound science from the chancellors of their universities, but of a
much more serviceable and worthy kind. A certain degree of waywardness
of mind and inconstancy of disposition--often approaching that touch
of insanity, which affected, or was affected by, those wise men the
court fools of almost all epochs--and an unscrupulousness in matters
of principle, which left his conduct often in very doubtful balance
between honesty and knavery, had barred his advancement in all the
many walks he had tried. He had strong, and even ungovernable animal
impulses also, which had more than once led him into situations of
difficulty, and between which and his natural ambition, there was the
same struggle that frequently took place between his good sense and
his folly. He laboured hard, not perhaps to govern his passions, but
rather to keep their gratification within safe limits; and he felt a
sort of ill-will towards himself when they overcame him, which
generated a cynical bitterness towards others. That bitterness was
also increased by a consciousness of not having succeeded in any
course as much as the talents he knew himself to possess might have
ensured; but it must not be supposed for one moment that Ned Dyram
ever attributed the failure of his efforts for advancement to himself.
The injustice or folly of others, he thought, or the concurrence of
untoward circumstances, had alone kept him in an inferior situation.
Though the King, on his accession to the throne, had extended to him
greater favour than to any other of those who had participated in the
wild exploits of his youth, simply because Ned Dyram had never
prompted or led in any unjustifiable act, and had not withheld the
bitterness of his tongue even from the youthful follies of the Prince,
yet he felt a rankling disappointment at not having been promoted and
honoured, without ever suspecting that Henry might have seen in him
faults or failings that would have rendered him a more dangerous
servant to a sovereign than to a private individual. Yet such was the
case; for that great prince's eyes were clear-sighted and keen; and
though he had not troubled himself to study all the intricacies of the
man's character, he had perceived many qualities which he believed
might be amended by mingling with the world in an inferior station,
but which unfitted the possessor at the time for close attendance upon
a monarch.

Ned Dyram, however, though affecting that bluntness which is so often
mistaken for sincerity, was not without sufficient pliancy to conceal
his mortification, and to perform eagerly whatever task the King
imposed upon him. I do not say, indeed, that he proposed to perform it
well, unless it suited his own views and wishes. He did the monarch's
bidding with alacrity, because on that he thought his future fortune
might depend; but he did not make up his mind to ensure success by
diligence, activity, and zeal--satisfying himself by saying, that "the
result must ever depend upon circumstances;" and one of those
circumstances was always, in this case, Ned Dyram's own good will.

He had some hesitation, however, and some fear; for there was but one
man in England whose displeasure he dreaded, and that man was the
King. But yet I would not imply that it was his power he feared alone:
he feared offending the man rather than the monarch, for Henry had
acquired over him that influence which can be obtained only by a great
and superior mind over one less large and comprehensive. It was the
majesty of that great prince's intellect of which he stood in awe, not
the splendour of his throne; and perhaps he might have yielded to the
impression in the present instance, and done all that he ought to have
done, had he not perceived too clearly the feelings which prompted him
to do so; for as soon as he was conscious that dread of the King was
operating to drive him in a certain direction, the dogged perversity
of his nature rose up and dragged him to the contrary side. He called
himself "a cowed hound;" and, with all the obstinate vanity of a
wrong-headed man, he resolved to prove to himself that he had no fear,
by acting in direct opposition to the dread of which he was conscious.

As the best way of conquering all scruples, he treated them lightly
from that moment; quickened his horse's pace, stopped to sup and sleep
about fifteen miles from London, and presented himself at the gates of
the palace at an early hour next morning. There he was kept waiting
for some time, as the King was at council; but at length he was
admitted to the monarch's presence, and, in answer to questions, which
evidently showed that he had been sent into Hampshire to collect
information of a more definite character than had previously reached
Henry's ears, in regard to the death of Catherine Beauchamp, he gave
his sovereign at full all the tidings he had gained from Dame Julian,
the reeve's wife, from brother Clement, and from two or three other
persons, whom he had seen before he met with those I have mentioned.
Of brother Martin, however, he said not a word; and Henry mused for
several minutes without observation.

"Well," he said at length, "refresh yourself and your horse, Ned; and
then go back and join your new lord. Here is largess for your service,
though I am sorry you have been able to gain no more clear
intelligence;" and at the same moment he poured the contents of a
small leathern purse, which had been lying on the table, into his
hand.

The amount was far larger than Ned Dyram had expected;--for Henry was
one of the most open-handed men on earth--and he paused, looked from
the gold to the monarch, and seemed about to speak. At that moment,
however, the door of the room opened, and a young gentleman entered in
haste. By the stern and somewhat contracted, but high forehead--by the
quick, keen eye, and by the compressed lips, Ned Dyram instantly
recognised Prince John of Lancaster; and, at a sign from the King, he
bowed low and quitted the presence.



                             CHAPTER XVI.

                           THE NEW FRIENDS.


Ella Brune sat on a stool at the feet of Mary Markham, on the day
after Richard of Woodville's departure from London, and certainly a
more beautiful contrast was seldom seen than between the fair lady and
the minstrel girl, as the one told and the other listened to, the tale
of the old man's death, and all that had since occurred. The eyes of
both were full of tears, which did not run over, indeed, but hung
trembling on the eyelid, like drops of summer dew in the cup of a
flower; and Mary Markham, with the kind, familiar impulse of sympathy,
stretched forth her fair hand twice, and pressed that of her less
fortunate companion, as she told the tale of her sorrows, and her
sufferings. The poor girl's heart yearned towards her gentle friend,
as she remarked her sympathy for all she felt,--her grief at the death
of the poor old man, her pleasure at the conduct of Ella's generous
protector, her indignation at the persecution she had suffered from a
man whom she herself scorned and despised. But one thing is to be
remarked. The name of Sir Simeon of Roydon, Ella spoke plainly, and
repeated often, during her narrative; but that of Richard of
Woodville, from some latent feeling in her own heart, she shrunk from
pronouncing. It might be, that the meaning looks and smiles of the
people of the inn where she had visited him, made her believe that
others would entertain the suspicions or fancies which she imagined
that those looks implied. It might be that she doubted her own heart,
or that she knew there really were therein sensations which she
dreaded to acknowledge to herself, and still more to expose to the
eyes of others. Thus she gave him any other designation than his own
name. She called him "the noble gentleman who had befriended her,"
"her protector," "her benefactor,"--everything, in short, but Richard
of Woodville.

Mary Markham observed this reserve; and, as woman's heart, even in the
most simple and single-minded, is always learned in woman's secrets,
Mary judged, and judged rightly, that gratitude was growing up in
Ella's bosom into love. She could very well understand that it should
be so; she thought it natural--so natural, that it could scarce be
otherwise; and what she felt within herself would have made her very
lenient to passion in others, even had she been more harsh and severe
than she was. She took a deep interest in the poor girl and her whole
history, and not less in her grateful love than in any other part
thereof; so that she was anxious to learn who and what this unnamed
benefactor was, in order that she might judge whether there was the
least hope or chance of Ella's tenderness meeting due return.

"He was a generous and noble-hearted knight, indeed," she said; "more
like the ancient chivalry, my poor girl, than the heartless nobility
of the present day."

"He is not a knight," answered Ella, timidly; "but I am sure he soon
will be, for he well deserves his spurs."

"And he is young and handsome, of course, Ella?" said Mary Markham,
with a smile.

The minstrel girl coloured, but answered nothing; and Mary went on,
saying, "But you must tell me his name, Ella; I would fain know who is
this noble gentleman."

Thus plainly asked, Ella Brune could not refuse to answer; and,
bending down her bright eyes upon the ground, she said, "His name is
Richard of Woodville, lady."

She spoke in a tone so low, that the words might have been inaudible
to any other ear than that of Mary Markham. The well-known sound,
however, was instantly caught by her, producing emotions in her heart
such as she had never felt before. Her very breath seemed stopped; her
bosom fluttered, as if there had been a caged bird within; her cheek
turned very pale, and then flushed warm again with the blood spreading
in a brighter glow over her fair forehead and her blue-veined temples.
Hers was not indeed a jealous disposition; her nature was too generous
and frank to be suspicious or distrustful; but it is difficult for any
woman's ear to hear that he to whom her whole affections are given is
loved by another, and her heart not beat with emotions far from
pleasurable.

Yet Mary schooled herself for what she felt--for the slight touch of
doubt towards Woodville, and of anger towards Ella, which crossed her
bosom for a moment. "It is not his fault," she thought, "if the girl
loves him; nor hers either to love him for acts of generous kindness.
She is no more to blame for such feelings than myself; the same high
qualities that won my regard might well gain hers. He is too noble,
too--too true and faithful to trifle with her, or to forget me. Yet,
would this had not happened! It is strange, too, that he did not
mention all this to me!"

But then she remembered how every hour he had spent with her had
passed, how little time they had found to say all that two warm and
tender hearts could prompt; how often they had been interrupted in the
half-finished tale of love; how constantly it had been renewed
whenever they were alone; and then she thought it not extraordinary at
all that he had spoken of nothing else.

Such thoughts, however, kept her mute, with her eyes gazing on the
tapestry at the other side of the room; and she saw not that Ella,
surprised at her silence, had now raised her look, and was reading in
the countenance--with the skill which peril and misfortune soon
acquire in this hard world--all that was passing in the heart beneath.
The poor girl's face was very pale, for she had her emotions too; but
yet she was calmer than Mary Markham, for one of the chief sources of
agitation was wanting in her bosom. She was without hope. She might
love, but it was love with no expectation. The future, which to Mary's
eyes was like the garden of the Hesperides, all hanging with golden
fruit, was a desert to poor Ella Brune. She had no fear, because she
had no hope. She had no doubts, because she had no trust. She was
externally calm, for though there were painful sensations, there was
no internal contention. She, therefore, it was who spoke first.

"You know him, lady," she said, in a sweet, gentle, humble tone; "and
if you know him, you love him."

"I do know him," answered Mary Markham, with a trembling voice and
glowing cheek--"I have known him well for years."

She paused there; but the moment after, she thought, with that
generous confidence so often misplaced, but which was not so in this
instance, "It were better to tell her all, for her sake and for mine.
If she be good and virtuous, as I think, it cannot but lead to good to
let her know the whole truth."

"Ay, Ella," she continued aloud, "and you are right. I do love him,
and he loves me. We have plighted our faith to each other, and wait
but the consent of others to be more happy than we are."

A tear trembled in the eye of Ella Brune; but what were the thoughts
that flashed like lightning through her mind? "The lady loves him,
and she sees I love him too. Jealousy is a strange thing, and a sad
pang!--She may doubt him, even with such a friendless being as I am--I
will sweep that doubt away;" and with a resigned, but gentle smile,
looking in Mary's face, she said--"I was sure of it."

"Of what, Ella?" asked Mary Markham, with some surprise.

"That he loved some one, and was beloved again," replied the poor
girl; and she repeated "I was sure of it."

"What could make you sure?" asked the lady, gazing at her with a less
embarrassed look. "He did not tell you, did he?"

"Oh, no," answered Ella Brune. "All he told me was, that he was going
afar to Burgundy, and that as he could not give me any further
protection himself, he would send one of his men to inquire after me,
that he might hear I was safe, and as happy as fate would let me be,
but--" and she paused, as if she doubted whether to proceed or not.

"But what, Ella?" demanded Mary.

"Why, I was foolish, lady," said the girl; "and perhaps you may think
me wrong too, and bold. But when I heard that he was going to
Burgundy, I cried, 'Oh, that I were going with you!' And I told him
that I had kinsfolk both in Liege and in Peronne; and then I knew by
his look, and what he said, that there was some lady whom he loved,
and who loved him."

"How did that enlighten you?" inquired Mary Markham. "Did he refuse
you?--That were not courteous, I think."

"No, he did not actually refuse," answered Ella Brune, "but he said,
that it might hardly be; and I saw, he thought that his lady might be
jealous--might suspect--"

Mary Markham put her hand on Ella's, with a warm smile, and said, "I
will neither suspect him, nor be jealous of you, Ella--though perhaps
I might have been," she added; "yes, perhaps I might, if I had heard
you were with him, and I had not known why. Yet I should have been
very wrong. Out upon such doubts I say, if they can prevent a
true-hearted gentleman from doing an act of kindness to a poor girl in
her need, lest a jealous heart should suspect him. But I will write to
him, Ella: and yet it is now in vain; for he has left Westminster."

Ella gazed at her, smiling. "We know not our own hearts," she said;
"and, perhaps, dear lady, you might be jealous yet."

"No, no!" cried Mary, with one of her own joyous laughs again. "Never,
now. I am of a confiding nature, my poor girl; and I soon conquer
those bitter enemies of peace, called doubts."

Ella Brune gazed round the room. "If I had some instrument, I could
sing to you on that theme," she said.

"Nay, you can sing without, Ella," replied the lady. "I have none
here, alas!"

"Well, I will sing it, then," answered Ella Brune; "'tis an old ditty,
and a simple one;" and, leaning her hand on Mary Markham's knee, she
sang:--


                                SONG.

             "Trust! trust! sweet lady, trust!
                'Tis a shield of seven-fold steel.
              Cares and sorrows come they must;
                But sharper far is doubt to feel.
                  Trust! trust! sweet lady, trust!

             "If deceit must vex the heart--
                Who can pass through life without?--
              Better far to bear the smart
                Than to grind the soul with doubt.
                  Trust! trust! sweet lady, trust!

             "Trust the lover, trust the friend;
                Heed not what old rhymers tell.
              Trust to God: and in the end
                Doubt not all will still be well.
                  Trust! trust! sweet lady, trust!

             "Love's best guide, and friendship's stay--
                Trust, to innocence was given;
              'Tis doubt that paves the downward way,
                But trust unlocks the gates of heaven.
                  Trust! trust! sweet lady, trust!"


"And so I will, Ella," cried the lady; "so have I ever done, and will
do still; but methinks you have made the song to suit my ear."

"Nay, in truth, dear lady, it is an ancient one," replied Ella Brune;
but ere she could add more, old Sir Philip Beauchamp strode into the
room, with an air hurried, yet not dissatisfied.

"I have seen the King, Mary," he said; "and, on my life, he is a noble
youth--right kingly in his port and in his words. His brother John,
who won his spurs under my pennon when but a boy, soon got me speech
of him; and you are to go with me at once to his presence, pretty
maid. Nay, do not look downcast; he is no frightful tyrant, but a man
that lady's eyes may look upon well pleased; and 'tis needful for your
safety you should go."

"Must she go alone, dear knight?" asked Mary Markham, with kind
consideration for the girl's fears.

"Alone! no. I am to go with her, to be sure," answered Sir Philip.
"How, my fair Mary, you would fain go visit Henry, too! What would
Richard of Woodville say?"

"He would trust," answered Mary Markham, giving a gay look to Ella.
"However, I seek not to go, noble sir; but it would be better for this
poor girl to have my maid, Maude, with her--for decency's sake," she
continued, in a laughing tone; "you old knights are sometimes too
light and gallant; and I must protect her from your courteous speeches
by the way. Come with me, Ella. I have a cloak in my chamber that will
suit well with your hood, and cover you all, so that nothing will be
seen but the edge of your wimple. Then will you and Sir Philip escape
scandal, if you both walk softly, and look demure, while Maude trips
along beside you."

Though Mary Markham said no word of the minstrel girl's attire, and
did not even glance her eye to the gold fringe upon her gown, yet Ella
understood, and was thankful for, her kind care, and mentally promised
herself, that, before that day was but, she would provide herself with
plainer weeds. In less than five minutes she and the maid were ready
to depart; and, accompanied by Sir Philip, they soon crossed the open
ground before the Abbey and the Sanctuary, and entered the gates of
the palace yard. At the private door of the royal residence they
received immediate admission; for a page was waiting Sir Philip's
return; but he led them, not to the small chamber where Henry had
received Ned Dyram in the morning, and Sir Philip shortly after.
Following, on the contrary, the larger staircase, the boy conducted
the little party to a hall, then used as an audience chamber; and when
they entered they at once perceived the King at the farther end,
surrounded by a gay and glittering throng, and listening, apparently
with deep attention, to an old man, dressed as a prelate of the
Church, who, with slow and measured accents, was delivering what
seemed a somewhat long oration. Whatever was the subject on which he
spoke, it seemed to be one of much interest; for, ever and anon, the
King bowed his head with a grave, approving motion, and a murmur of
satisfaction rose from those around.

Slowly and quietly the old knight and his companions drew near, and
then found that the good Bishop was arguing the King's title, not
alone to the Duchies of Normandy, Aquitaine, and Anjou, which
undoubtedly belonged of right to the English Crown, but also to the
whole of France, which as certainly belonged to another. Sir Philip
Beauchamp marked well the monarch's countenance as he listened, and
perceived that, when the subject was the recovery of those territories
which had descended to the race of Plantagenet from William the
Conqueror, Fulke of Anjou, and Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of those
grave inclinations of the head which marked his approbation followed;
but that, when the claim of all France was considered, Henry paused,
and seemed to meditate more on thoughts suggested by his own mind than
on the mere words that struck his ear. The surrounding nobles,
however, applauded all; and bright and beaming eyes were turned upon
the prelate when he concluded his oration with the words--strange
ones, indeed, in the mouth of a Christian bishop: "Wherefore, Oh my
Lord, the King! advance your banner, fight for your right, conquer
your inheritance; spare not sword, blood, or fire; for your war is
just, your cause is good, your claim is true!"[3]


---------------------

[Footnote 3: The recorded words of Henry Chicheley, Archbishop of
Canterbury.]

---------------------


"Many thanks, my good lord," replied the King; "we will with our
council consider duly what you have advanced; and we beseech you to
pray God on our behalf, that we be advised wisely. Pity it were,
indeed, to shed Christian blood without due cause; and, therefore, we
shall first fairly and courteously require of our cousin the
restitution of those territories undeniably appertaining to our crown;
with the which we may content ourselves, if granted frankly; but if
they be refused, a greater claim may perchance grow out of the denial
of the smaller one; and, at all events, we shall know how, with the
sword, to do ourselves right when driven to draw it. We will then
beseech farther communion with you on these weighty matters, and, for
the present, thank you much."

The Bishop retired from the spot immediately facing the King; and
Henry's eye lighting on Sir Philip Beauchamp, he bowed his head to
him, saying, "Advance, my noble friend. Ha! you have brought the girl
with you, as I said;" and his look fixed upon the countenance of poor
Ella Brune, with a calm and scrutinizing gaze, not altogether free
from wonder and admiration, to see such delicate beauty in one of her
degree, but without a touch of that coarse and gloating expression
which had offended her in the stare of Sir Simeon Roydon.

"Is the knight I sent for, here?" demanded the King, turning towards
the page.

"Not yet, Sire," answered the boy.

"Well, then," said Henry, "though it is but fair that a man accused
should hear the charge against him, we must proceed; and you lords
will witness what this young woman says, that it may be repeated to
him hereafter. Now, maiden, what is this which the worthy knight, Sir
Philip Beauchamp, has reported concerning you and Sir Simeon of
Roydon?"

To say that Ella Brune was not somewhat abashed would be false; for
she did feel that she was in the presence of the most powerful King,
and the most chivalrous court in Europe; she did feel that all eyes
were turned upon her, every ear bent to catch her words. But there
were truth and innocence at her heart, the strongest of all supports.
There was the sense of having been wronged also; and, perhaps, some
feeling of scorn rather than shame was roused by the light smiles and
busy whisper that ran round the lordly circle before which she stood;
for there is nothing so contemptible in the eyes, even of the humble,
if they be wise and firm of heart, as the light and causeless, but
oppressive sneer of pride--whether that pride be based in station,
fortune, courtliness, or aught else on earth; for the true nobility of
mind, which sometimes impresses even pride with a faint mark of its
own dignity, never treads upon the humble.

Henry, however, heard the buzz, and felt offended at the light looks
he saw. "My lords!" he said, in a tone of surprise and displeasure; "I
beseech you, my good uncle of Exeter, warn those gentlemen of that
which the King would not speak harshly. This is no jesting matter.
Wrong has been done--I may say almost in our presence, so near has it
been to our palace gates; and, by the Queen of Heaven, such things
shall not escape punishment, while I wear the crown or bear the sword.
When I am powerless to defend the meanest of my subjects, may death
give my sceptre to more mighty hands; when I am unwilling to do
justice to any in the land, may my enemies take from me the power I
have borne unworthily. Go on with your tale, maiden."

Ella Brune obeyed the King's order, with a voice that faltered at
first, but the rich sweet tone of which soon called the attention of
all to what she said; and, taking up her story from the beginning, she
related the death of her old companion, the interview which she had
first had with Sir Simeon of Roydon, and the violent manner in which
she had been carried off, as she was returning to the hostelry where
she lodged. As she spoke she gained confidence; and though, ere she
had proceeded far, the base knight himself entered the presence, and
placed himself exactly opposite to her, glaring at her with fierce and
menacing eyes, her tongue faltered no more; and she went on to speak
of her second interview with him, telling how she had forced back the
lock of the door with her dagger--how the servants of the knight had
not ventured to seize her, under the belief that the weapon was
poisoned--and how she had dropped from the great window at the end of
the corridor into the lane below.

As soon as she had done, Roydon stepped forward, as if to reply; but
old Sir Philip Beauchamp, who stood by Ella's side to give her
support, waved his hand, saying, "Silence, boy! till all be said
against you--then speak if you list. As far as the carrying off of
this poor little maid is concerned, a good woman of the neighbourhood
saw the deed done, and can bear witness respecting it, if farther
testimony is required. I saw the manner of her escape as she has told
it, and knocked down one of this knight's knaves just as he clutched
her. So far her story is confirmed. What passed between him and her in
private, they only know; but I would take her word against his in any
town; for I know him to be a wondrous liar."

A laugh ran round the royal circle; and Sir Simeon of Roydon put his
hand to his dagger; but the King turned towards him, saying, "Now,
sir, have you aught to answer?--Is this story true or false?"

"Somewhat mixed, Sire;" answered Simeon of Roydon, with a sneer upon
his lip. "The young woman is rather fanciful. I will own, that because
she has a pretty face, as you may see, and bright eyes, and a small
foot, and rounded ankle, she pleased my fancy; and, although of
somewhat low degree for such an honour, I thought to make her my
paramour for a time, as many another man might do. Minstrel girls and
tomblesteres are not generally famed for chastity; and, by my faith! I
thought I showed her favour when I told my servants to find her out
and bring her to my lodging. If they used any violence, 'twas not my
fault, for I bade them treat her gently; and, as to her confinement at
my house, that is pure fancy--she might have gone whenever she chose."

"'Tis strange, then," said the King, with a scornful smile, "that she
should take such means of going. People do not usually leap out of a
window, when they can walk through a door."

"What made you bellow after her, like a wild bull?" demanded Sir
Philip Beauchamp, turning to the culprit: "I heard you with my ears,
and so did many more, shout to your knaves to follow her, lest she
should to the King. I know your voice right well, sir knight, and will
vouch for its sweet sounds."

"Doting fool!" murmured Simeon of Roydon.

"Doting!" cried the old knight; "take care you don't feel my gauntlet
in your face, lest I send you home as toothless as I sent your
serviceable man. You will find that there is strength enough left to
crush such a worm as you."

"Silence, Sir Philip!" said the King. "Sir Simeon of Roydon, according
to your own account, you have committed an offence for which, if it
had been done within the gates of our good city of London, the sober
citizens would, methinks, have set you on a horse's back, with your
face to the tail, and marched you in no pleasant procession. But, I
must add, I do not believe your account; it seems to me to bear no
character of truth about it. Yet, that you may not stand upon my
judgment alone, if there be one of these good lords here present, who
will say they do, upon their honour, believe that this poor maiden
speaks falsely, and you tell the simple truth, you shall go free. What
say you, lords--is the girl true, or he?"

"The girl!--the girl!" cried all the voices round.

"However men may love leaping," said John of Lancaster, "they seek not
to break their necks by springing from a window, when they can help
it."

"Well, then," continued Henry, "you must carry your amorous violence
to other lands, Sir Simeon of Roydon. You have committed a
discourteous and unknightly act, and must give us time to forget it.
We will not touch you in person or in purse, in goods or lands; but we
banish you for two years from the realm of England. Bestow yourself
where you will, but be not found within these shores after one month
from this day, which space we give you to prepare. Is this a just
award, my lords?"

The gentlemen round bowed their heads; and Henry, turning to the good
old knight, added, with a gracious smile, "I thank you much, Sir
Philip Beauchamp, for bringing this matter to my knowledge. These are
deeds that I am resolved to check, with all the power that God
entrusts to me."

"Heaven bless your Grace, and ever send us such a King!" replied the
old knight; and, taking Ella by the hand, with a lowly reverence to
the monarch, he led her from the hall.

Henry, it would seem, dismissed his court at once; for before the
minstrel girl and her companion had reached the bottom of the stairs,
they were surrounded by several of the younger nobles, who were all
somewhat eager to say soft and flattering things to the fair object of
the day's interest, notwithstanding some rough reproof from good Sir
Philip Beauchamp. But as he and his young charge were passing out with
Mary Markham's maiden, a low deep voice whispered in Ella's ear, "I
swear, by Christ's sepulchre, I will have revenge!"--and the next
moment Sir Simeon of Roydon passed them, mounted his horse in the
palace-yard, and rode furiously away.



                            CHAPTER XVII.

                           THE PREPARATION.


It was late in the evening of the same day of which we have just been
speaking, when Ella Brune returned to her hostelry. She had gone back
to thank fair Mary Markham for her kindness, intending only to stay
for a few moments; but her new friend detained her till the sun was
near his setting, and then only let her depart under the escort of
Hugh of Clatford and another yeoman, after extracting a promise from
her that she would return on the following morning, after the sad
ceremony of her grandsire's funeral was over. And now Ella sat in her
lonely little chamber, with the tears filling her bright eyes, which
seemed fixed upon a spot of sunshine on the opposite wall of the
court, but, in reality, saw nothing, or, at least, conveyed no
impression to the mind. Why was it Ella wept? To say truth, Ella
herself could not, or would not tell. It was, perhaps, the crowding
upon her of many sad sensations, the torrent swelled by many smaller
rills, which caused those tears; and yet there was one predominant
feeling--one that she wished not to acknowledge even to her own heart.
What can I call it? How shall I explain it? It was not disappointment;
for, as I have said before, she did not, she had never hoped. No, the
best term for it is, love without hope; and oh! what a bitter thing
that is!

During the whole of that morning she had had no time to dwell upon it;
she had been occupied while she remained with Mary Markham in
struggling against her own sensations--not examining them. But now she
paused and pondered: in solitude and in silence, she gave way to
bitter thought; but it was not with the weak and wavering irresolution
of a feeble mind. On the contrary, though the anguish would have its
tear, she regarded her present fate and future conduct with the firm
and energetic purposes of a heart inured to suffer and to decide. Her
mind rested upon Richard of Woodville, upon his kindness, his
generosity, his chivalrous protection of her who had never met with
such protection before; and the first strong determination of her mind
expressed itself, in the words she murmured to herself, "I will repay
it!"

Then, again, she asked herself, "Why should I feel shame, or fear, or
hesitation now, at the thought of following him through the world--of
watching for the hour, for the moment, when God may grant me the grace
to serve him? He loves another, and is loved by another! He can never
be anything to me, but the friend who stood forward to help me in the
hour of need. What has sex, or station, to do with it? Why should I
care more than if I were a man? and how often do the meanest, by
watchful love, find an opportunity to deliver or to support the
highest and the mightiest! Why should I think of what men may say or
believe? True in my own heart, and conscious of my truth, I may well
laugh at suspicion, which follows such as I am, whatever course they
take. How often have I been thought a ribald and a losel, when I have
guarded my words, and looks, and actions, most carefully! and now I
will dare to do boldly what my heart tells me, knowing that it is
right. Yet, poor thing," she added, after a moment, "thou art beggar
enough, I fear! thou must husband thy little store well. Let me see; I
will count my treasure. There are the fifty half nobles sent me by the
King, and those my dear protector gave me. Now for the little store of
the poor old man;" and, drawing a key from her bosom, she crossed the
room to where, upon a window-seat, there stood a small oaken coffer,
containing her apparel and that of the poor old minstrel. After
opening the box, and taking out one or two instruments of music which
lay at the top, she thrust her hand further down, and brought forth a
small leathern pouch, fastened by a thong bound round it several
times. It cost her some trouble to unloose it; but at length she
spread out the mouth, and poured the contents upon the top of the
clothes in the coffer. She had expected to see nothing but silver and
copper; but amongst the rest were several pieces of gold; and besides
these, was a piece of parchment, tied up, with some writing upon it,
and a gold ring, set with a large precious stone. The former she
examined closely, and read the words with some difficulty; for they
were written by no very practised hand, in rough and scattered
characters. She made it out at length, however, to be merely "My
Ella's dowry;" and a tear fell upon it as she read. She thought that
the handwriting was her father's.

She then looked at the ring, and saw by its lustre that it must be of
some value; but a strip of leather which was sewn round the gold
caught her eye, and she found it, too, traced with some rude
characters. They only expressed a date, however, which was 21 July,
1403, and what it meant she knew not. Opening the parchment packet,
she then proceeded to examine of what her little dowry consisted; and,
to her surprise and joy, she found forty broad pieces of gold. "Nay,"
she exclaimed, "this is, indeed, wealth; why, I am endowed like a
knight's daughter." And well might she say so; for when we remember
the difference between the value of gold in that day and at present,
the amount she now possessed,--what with the sum she had just found,
and the penalty imposed by the King on Simeon of Roydon,--was equal to
some six or seven hundred pounds.

"I shall have enough to follow him for ten years," said Ella Brune,
gazing on the gold, "without being a charge to any one; and then there
may still remain sufficient to gain me admission to a nunnery. But I
will lay it by carefully:" and placing all the gold she had, except
the few pieces that had been loose in the pouch, into the parchment
which had contained her dowry, she tied it up again carefully, and
restored it to its place.

"Yet I will be avaricious," she said. "I will disencumber myself of
everything I do not want, and change it into coin.--Shall I sell this
ring? No; it may mean something I do not know. 'Tis easily carried,
and might create suspicion if I disposed of it here. Perhaps my cousin
at Peronne can tell me more about it. How shall I sell the other
things? Nay, I will ask the hostess to do it for me. She will think of
her own payment, and will do it well!"

After carefully putting back the ring and the money, she opened the
door of the room, and called down the stairs, "Hostess, hostess!
Mistress Trenchard!"

"Coming, coming, little maid," said the good dame, from below. "Do not
be in haste; I am with you in a minute;" and, after keeping Ella
waiting for a short time, more to make herself of importance than
because she had anything else to do, she came panting up the stairs,
closed the door, and seated herself on the side of the low bed.

"Well, my poor Ella," she said, "what want you with me? Yours is a sad
case, indeed, poor thing. My husband and I both said, when you and
poor old Murdock Brune went away to foreign lands, leaving your own
good country behind you, that harm would come of it."

"And yet he died in England," replied Ella, with a sigh; "but what you
say is very true, hostess; no good has come of it; and we returned
poorer than we went--I have wherewithal to pay my score," she added,
seeing a slight cloud come over good Mistress Trenchard's face; "but
yet I shall want more for my necessity; and I would fain ask you a
great favour."

"What is that?" asked the hostess, somewhat drily.

"It is simply, that you would sell for me a good many of these things
that I do not want," answered Ella. "Here are several instruments of
music, which I know cost much, and must produce something."

"Oh, that I will, right willingly!" replied the hostess; "and 'tis but
right and fitting that you should trust such matters to one who is
accustomed to buy and sell, than to do it yourself, who know nothing
of trade, God wot. I will have them to Westcheape, where there are
plenty of fripperies; or carry them to the Lombards, who, perhaps,
know more about such matters."

"I should think that the Lombards would purchase them best," answered
Ella; "for one of these instruments, the viol, was purchased out of
Italy, when my grandfather was chief minstrel to the great Earl of
Northumberland."

"Ay, I remember the time well," said Mistress Trenchard. "Murdock
Brune was a great man in those days, and rode upon a grey horse, fit
for a knight. He used to pinch my cheek, and call me pretty Dolly
Trenchard, till my husband was somewhat crusty;--and so the viol is
valuable, you think?"

"Yes, and the ribible, too," answered Ella Brune; "for they were cut
by a great maker in Italy, and such are not to be found in England."

"I will take care, I will take care," rejoined the hostess. "Gather
them all together, and I will send up Tom, the drawer, for them,
presently. To-morrow I will take them to the Lombards; for it is
somewhat late this evening."

"Nay, but I have other favours to ask of you, dame," said Ella Brune.
"To-morrow they bury the poor old man, and I must have a black gown of
serge, and a white wimple; and I would fain that you went with me to
the burial, if you could steal away for an hour; for it will be a sad
day for me."

"That will I do, poor maiden," replied the hostess, readily; not alone
because she took a sincere interest in her fair guest, but because in
those days, as in almost all others, people of inferior minds found a
strange pleasure in bearing part in any impressive ceremony, however
melancholy. As so much of her spare time was likely to be occupied on
the morrow, she agreed to run up to Cheape that very night, before the
watch was set, and to purchase for Ella Brune the mourning garments
which she required. The latter commission she performed fully to the
poor girl's satisfaction, returning with a loose gown of fine black
serge, ready made, and a wimple and hood of clear lawn, little
differing from that of a nun.

Ella gazed on the dress with some emotion, murmuring to
herself,--"Ay, the cloister; it must end there, at last!--Well, prayer
and peace!--'tis the calmest fate, after all."

But the sale of the instruments of music, and several other small
articles, was not executed quite as well. Men were rogues in those
times, as at present, though, perhaps, in the improvement of all
things, roguery has not been neglected, and the good Lombards took
care not to give more than half the value of the goods they purchased.
Neither Ella nor good Mistress Trenchard herself knew any better,
however; so that the latter thought she had made a very good bargain,
and the former was content. Her store was by this means considerably
increased; and, a short time before the appointed hour, Ella, with the
hostess, set out towards the hospital of St. James, for the sad task
that was to be performed that day.

I will not pause upon the hours that followed. Dark and sorrowful such
hours must ever be; for the dim eyes of mortality see the lamp of
faith but faintly, and there is nought else to light our gaze through
the obscure vault of death to the bright world of re-union. Put the
holy promises to our heart as eagerly, as fondly as we will, how
difficult is it to obtain a warm and living image of life beyond this
life! How the clay clings to the clay! How the spirit cleaveth to the
dust with which it hath borne companionship so long! Strange, too, to
say, that we can better realize in our own case the idea of renewed
existence, than in the case of those we love. It is comparatively easy
to fancy that we who have lived to-day, shall live to-morrow;--that
we, who lie down to rest ourselves in sleep and to rise refreshed,
shall sleep in death, and wake again renewed. There is in every man's
own heart a sentiment of his immortality, which nothing can blot out,
but the vain pride of human intellect--the bitterest ashes of the
forbidden fruit. But when we see the dearly loved, the bright, the
beautiful, the wise, the good, fall, like a withered leaf, into the
dark corruption of the tomb--the light go out like an extinguished
lamp--and all that is left, all that has been familiar to our living
senses, drop into dust and mingle with its earth again, the Saduceean
demon seizes on us; and it requires a mighty struggle of the spirit,
prayer, patience, resignation, hope, and faith, to win our belief from
the dark actuality before us, and fix it on the distant splendour of a
promised world to come.

They were sad hours for poor Ella Brune; and when they were over, the
chambers of the heart felt too dark and lonely for her to admit any
thoughts but those of the dead. She sent, therefore, to Mary Markham,
to tell her that she was too wobegone to come that day; and, returning
to her little chamber at the inn, she sat down to weep, and pass the
evening with her memories.

On the following morning early, she once more set out for Westminster,
and passed quietly along the road till she reached Charing; but near
the hermitage and chapel of St. Catherine, just opposite the cross,
she perceived a man standing gazing up the Strand, with the serpent
embroidered on the black ground, which distinguished the followers of
Sir Simeon of Roydon. Her fears might have betrayed her; for she
forgot for a moment the complete change of her dress, and fancied that
she must be instantly recognised; but the instant after, recovering
her presence of mind, she drew the hood far over her face, and passed
the man boldly, without his even turning to look at her. She then made
her way on towards Tote-hill, and soon came to the gates of the house
in which Sir Philip Beauchamp had taken up his temporary abode.

Few but the higher nobility, or persons immediately attached to the
Court, indulged in those days in the luxury of a dwelling in London or
the neighbouring city; and when business or pleasure called inferior
personages to the capital, they either took up their dwelling at a
hostel, or found lodging in the mansions of some of the great families
to whom they were attached by friendship or relationship. Nor was such
hospitality ever refused, so long as the house could contain more
guests; for each man's consequence, and sometimes his safety, depended
upon the number of those whom he entertained; and even when the lord
was absent from his own dwelling, the doors were always open to those
who were known to be connected with him. Thus Sir Philip Beauchamp had
found ready lodging in the house of one of the numerous family of that
name, the head of which was then the Earl of Warwick, though, ere many
years had passed, an only daughter bore that glorious title into the
house of Neville.

When Ella reached the mansion, the porter, distinguished by the
cognizance of the bear, was standing before the gates, talking with a
young man, who seemed to have just dismounted from a tired horse, and
held the bridle-rein cast over his arm.

In answer to Ella's inquiry for the Lady Mary Markham, the old servant
laughed, saying, "Here is another!--if it goes on thus all day, there
will be nothing else but the opening of gates for a pretty lady who is
not here. She departed last night with Sir Philip, fair maid. They
went in great haste, good sooth I know not why; for 'twas but two
hours before, the sturdy old knight told me he should stay three days;
but they had letters by a messenger from the country, so perchance his
daughter is ill."

"The blessed Virgin give her deliverance!" said Ella, turning away
with a disappointed look; and, bending her steps back towards the city
of London, she walked slowly on along the dusty road, absorbed in no
very cheerful thoughts, and marking little of what passed around her.
But few people were yet abroad between the two towns--the Strand was
almost solitary; and she had nearly reached the wall of the garden of
Durham House, which ran along to the Temple, when she heard a voice
behind her exclaim, in a sharp tone, "Why do you follow her, master
knave?"

"What is that to you, blue tabard!" replied another tongue.

"I will let you know right soon, if you do not desist," answered the
first.

"Whom do you serve?" asked the second.

"The King!" was the reply; "so away with you."

Ella looked round, and beheld the man whom she had found speaking with
the porter a moment before, bending his brows sternly upon the servant
of Sir Simeon Roydon, whom she had seen watching near the hermitage of
St. Catherine, as she passed up the Strand. The latter, however,
seemed to be animated by no very pugnacious spirit, for he merely
replied, "Methinks one man has a right to walk the high road to London
as well as another."

But he did not proceed to enforce this right by following the course
he had been pursuing; and, crossing over from the south to the north
side of the way, he was soon lost amongst the low shops and small
houses which there occupied the middle of the road.

"I will ride along beside you, fair maiden," said Ned Dyram, for he it
was who had come up, "though I should not wonder, from what the porter
told me just now, if you were the person I am looking for."

He spoke civilly and gravely; and Ella replied, with a bright smile,
"Ha! perhaps it is so; for he said he would send. Whom do you come
from?"

"I come from Richard of Woodville," answered the man; "and I am sent
to a maiden named Ella Brune, living not far up the new street
somewhat beyond the Old Temple, in an hostelry called the Falcon."

"'Tis I--'tis I!" cried Ella. "Oh! I am glad to see you."

Her bright eyes lighted up, and her fair face glowed with an
expression of joy and satisfaction, which added in no small degree to
its loveliness; for, though we hear much of beauty in distress being
heightened by tears, yet there is an inherent harmony between man's
heart and joy, which makes the expression thereof always more pleasant
to the eye than that of any other emotion.

Ned Dyram gazed at her with admiration, but withdrew his eyes the
moment after, and resumed a more sober look. "I will give you all his
messages by and by," he said, "for I shall lodge at the Falcon
to-night, and have much to say. But yet I may as well tell you a part
as we go along," he continued, dismounting from his horse, and taking
the bridle on his arm. "First, fair maiden, I was to ask how you
fared, and what you intended to do?"

"I have fared ill and well," answered Ella Brune; "but that is a long
story, and I will relate it to you afterwards; for that I can talk of,
though the people of the house should be present; but what I am to do
is a deeper question, and I know not well how to answer it. I have
friends at the court of Burgundy--"

"What, then, are you of noble race, lady?" asked Ned Dyram, in an
altered tone.

"Oh, no!" replied Ella Brune, with a faint smile. "The cousin of whom
I speak is but a goldsmith to the Count of Charolois; but, 'tis a long
journey for a woman to take alone, through foreign lands, and amongst
a people somewhat unruly."

"Why not come with us?" inquired Ned Dyram; "we sail from Dover in
three days, and our company will be your protection. Did not Childe
Richard tell you he was going?"

"Yes," answered Ella Brune, casting down her eyes, "but he did not
seem to like the thought of having a woman in his company."

"Faith! that is courteous of the good youth," cried Ned Dyram, with a
low sharp laugh. "He may win his spurs, but will not merit them, if he
refuses protection to a lady."

"That, I am sure, he would not do," replied Ella, gravely. "He has
given me the noblest protection at my need; but he may not think it
right."

"No, no; you have mistaken him," said Ned Dyram. "He is courteous and
kind, without a doubt. He might think it better for yourself to go to
York, as he bade me tell you, and to see your friends there, and to
claim your rights; but if you judge fit to turn your steps to Burgundy
instead, depend upon it he will freely give you aid and comfort on the
way. If he did doubt," added the man, "'twas but that he thought his
lady-love might be jealous, if she heard that he had so fair a maiden
in his company--for you know he is a lover!"--and he fixed his eyes
inquiringly on Ella's face.

"I know he is," she answered, calmly, and without a change of feature.
"I know the lady, too; but she is not unwilling that I should go; and
I dread much to show myself in York."

"Why so?" demanded Ned Dyram. But Ella Brune was not sufficiently won
by his countenance or manner to grant him the same confidence that she
had reposed in Richard of Woodville; and she replied, "For many
reasons; but the first and strongest is, that there are persons there
who have seized on that which should be mine. They are powerful; I am
weak; and 'tis likely, as in such case often happens, that they would
be willing to add wrong to wrong."

"Not only often, but always," replied Ned Dyram; "therefore I say,
fair maiden, you had better come with us. Here's one arm will strike a
stroke for you, should need be; and there are plenty more amongst us
who will do the like."

Ella answered him with a bright smile; but at that moment they were
turning up the lane opposite the gate of the Temple, and she paused in
her reply, willing to think farther and see more of her companion
before she decided.

"Stay, fair maiden!" continued Ned Dyram, who well knew where the
hostelry of the Falcon was situate--"It may be as well to keep our
counsel, whatever it be, from host and hostess. Gossip is a part of
their trade; and it is wise to avoid giving them occasion. I will give
you, when we are within, a letter from my young lord, and read it to
you, too, as perchance you cannot do that yourself; but it will let
the people see that I am not without authority to hold converse with
you, which may be needful."

"Nay," answered Ella, "I can read it myself; for I have not been
without such training."

"Ay, I forgot," rejoined Ned Dyram, with one of his light sneers;
"had you been a princess, you would not have been able to read. Such
clerk-craft is only fit for citizens and monks. I wonder how Childe
Richard learned to read and write. I fear it will spoil him for a
soldier."

The satire was not altogether just; for, though it did not
unfrequently happen that high nobles and celebrated warriors and
statesmen were as illiterate as the merest boors, and in some
instances (especially after the wars of the Roses had deluged the land
with blood, and interrupted all the peaceful arts of life) the barons
affected to treat with sovereign contempt the cultivation of the mind,
yet such was not by any means so generally the case, as the pride of
modern civilization has been eager to show. We have proofs
incontestable, that, in the reigns of Richard II., Henry IV., and
Henry V., men were by no means so generally ignorant as has been
supposed. The House of Lancaster was proud of its patronage of
literature; and, though more than one valiant nobleman could not sign
his own name, or could do so with difficulty, there is much reason to
believe that the exceptions have been pointed out as the rule; for we
know that many a citizen of London could not only maintain, without
the aid of another hand, long and intricate correspondence with
foreign merchants, but also took delight in the reading during
winter's nights of Chaucer and Gower, if not in studying secretly the
writings of Wickliffe and his disciples.

Ella Brune replied not, but walked on into the house, calling the good
hostess, who, in that day as in others, often supplied the place of
both master and mistress in a house of public entertainment. Ned Dyram
followed her with his eyes into the house, scrutinizing with keen and
wondering glance the beauties of form which even the long loose robe
of serge could not fully conceal. He marvelled at the grace he beheld,
even more rare at that day amongst the sons and daughters of toil than
at present; and, although the pride of rank and station could not, in
his case, suggest the bold disregard of all law and decency in seeking
the gratification of passion, his feelings towards Ella Brune were not
very far different from those of Sir Simeon of Roydon. He might have
more respect for the opinion of the world, by which he hoped to rise;
he might even have more respect for, and more belief in, virtue, for
he was a wiser man; he might seek to obtain his ends by other means;
he was even not incapable of love,--strong, passionate, overpowering
love; but the moving power was the same. It was all animal; for,
strange to say, though his intellect was far superior to that of most
men of his day; though he had far more mind than was needful, or even
advantageous, in his commerce with the world of that age, his impulses
were all animal towards others. That which he cared for little in
himself, he admired, he almost worshipped, in woman. It was beauty of
form and feature only that attracted him. Mind he cared not for--he
thought not of; nay, up to that moment, he perhaps either doubted
whether it existed in the other sex, or thought it a disadvantage if
it did. Even more, the heart itself he valued little; or, rather, that
strange and complex tissue of emotions, springing from what source we
know not, entwined with our mortal nature--by what delicate threads
who can say?--which we are accustomed to ascribe to the heart, he
regarded but as an almost worthless adjunct. His was the eager
love--forgive me, if I profane what should be a holy name, rather than
use a coarser term--of the wild beast; the appetite of the tiger, only
tempered by the shrewdness of the fox. I mean not to say it always
remained so; for, under the power of passion and circumstances, the
human heart is tutored as a child. Neither would I say that aught like
love had yet touched his bosom for Ella Brune. I speak but of his
ordinary feeling towards woman; but feelings of that sort are sooner
roused than those of a higher nature. He saw that she was very
beautiful--more beautiful, he thought, than any woman of his own
station that ever he had beheld; and that was enough to make him
determine upon counteracting his master's wishes and counsel, and
persuading Ella to turn her steps in the same course in which his
own were directed. He knew not how willing she was to be persuaded;
he knew not that she was at heart already resolved: but he
managed skilfully, he watched shrewdly, through the whole of his
after-communications with her during the day. He discovered much--he
discovered all, indeed, but one deep secret, which might have been
penetrated by a woman's eyes, but which was hid from his, with all
their keenness--the motive, the feeling, that led her so strongly in
the very path he wished. He saw, indeed, that she was so inclined; he
saw that there was a voice always seconding him in her heart, and he
took especial care to furnish that voice with arguments which seemed
irresistible. He contrived, too, to win upon her much; for there was
in his conversation that mingling of frankness and flattering
courtesy, of apparent carelessness of pleasing, with all the arts of
giving pleasure, and that range of desultory knowledge and tone of
superior mind, with apparent simplicity of manner, and contempt for
assumption, which of all things are the most calculated to dazzle and
impress for a time. 'Tis the lighter qualities that catch, the deeper
ones that bind; and though, had there been a comparison drawn between
him, who was her companion for a great part of that evening, and
Richard of Woodville, Ella Brune would have laughed in scorn; yet she
listened, well pleased, to the varied conversation with which he
whiled away the hours, when she could wean her thoughts from dearer,
though more painful themes; yielded to his arguments when they
seconded the purposes of her own heart, and readily accepted his
offered service to aid her in executing the plan she adopted.



                            CHAPTER XVIII.

                     THE JOURNEY AND THE VOYAGE.


The sun rose behind some light grey clouds, and the blue sky was
veiled; but the birds made the welkin ring from amongst the young
leaves of the April trees, and told of the coming brightness of the
day. Why, or wherefore, let men of science say; but one thing is
certain, the seasons at that time were different from those at
present; they were earlier; they were more distinct; spring was
spring, and summer was summer; and winter, content with holding his
own right stiffly, did not attempt to invade the rights of his
brethren. Far in the north of England we had vines growing and bearing
fruit in the open air. At Hexham there was a vineyard; and wine was
made in more than one English county--not very good, it is to be
supposed, but still good enough to be drunk, and to prove the longer
and more genial reign of summer in our island. Thus, though the
morning was grey, as I have said, and April had not yet come to an
end, the air was as warm as it is often now in June, and every bank
was already covered with flowers.

There were horses before the gate of Richard of Woodville's house, and
men busily preparing them for a journey. There was the heavy charger,
or battle horse, with tall and bony limbs, well fitted to bear up
under the weight of a steel-covered rider; and the lighter, but still
powerful palfrey, somewhat of the size and make of a hunter of the
present day, to carry the master along the road. Besides these,
appeared many another beast; horses for the yeomen and servants, and
horses and mules for the baggage: the load of armour for himself and
for his men which the young adventurer carried with him, requiring not
a few of those serviceable brutes who bow their heads to man's will,
in order to carry it to the sea-shore. At length all was prepared; the
packs were put upon the beasts, the drivers were at their heads, the
yeomen by their saddles; and with ten stout men and two boys, fourteen
horses, three mules, a plentiful store of arms, and all the money he
could raise, in his wallet, Richard of Woodville issued forth, gave
his last commands to the old man and woman whom he left behind in the
hall, and, springing into the saddle, began his journey towards Dover.

It was not without a sigh that he set out; for he was leaving the land
in which Mary Markham dwelt; but yet he thought he was going to win
honour for her sake--perchance to win her herself; and all the bright
hopes and expectations of youth soon gathered on his way, more vivid
and more glowing in his case, than they could be in that of any youth
of the present day, taking his departure for foreign lands. If at
present each country knows but very little in reality of its
neighbour, if England entertains false views and wild imaginations
regarding France and her people, and France has not the slightest
particle of knowledge in regard to the feelings, character, and habits
of thought, of the English, how much more must such have been the case
in an age when communication was rare, and then only or chiefly by
word of mouth! It is true that the state of geographical knowledge was
not so low as has been generally supposed, for we are very apt to look
upon ourselves as wonderful people, and to imagine that nobody knew
anything before ourselves; and the difference between former ages and
the present is more in the general diffusion of knowledge than in its
amount. In the very age of which we speak, the famous Henry of Vasco
was pursuing his great project for reaching India by passing round
Africa, attempting to establish Portuguese stations on the coast of
that continent, and to communicate with the natives; "e poi aver con
essi loro comercio per l'onore e utiltà del Regno."[4]


---------------------

[Footnote 4: Barros, Dec. i. lib. i. cap. 6.]

---------------------


The highways of Europe were well known; for mercantile transactions
between country and country were carried on upon a system so totally
different from that existing at present, that multitudes of the
citizens of every commercial state were constantly wandering over the
face of Europe, and bringing home anecdotes, if not much solid
information, regarding the distant lands they had visited. The
merchant frequently accompanied his goods; and the smaller traders,
especially from the cities of Italy, travelled every season from fair
to fair, and mart to mart, throughout the whole of the civilized
world. Besides the communications which thus took place, and the
information thus diffused, intelligence of a different sort was
carried by another class, who may have been said to have represented
in that day the tourists of the present. Chivalry, indeed, had greatly
declined since the days of Richard I., and even since the time of the
Black Prince; but still it was a constant practice for young knights
and nobles of every country to visit the courts of foreign princes, in
order either to acquire the warlike arts then practised, or to gain
distinction by feats of arms. Few books of travels were written, it is
true, and fewer read; for the art of printing had not yet, by the easy
multiplication of copies, placed the stores of learning within the
reach of the many; and one of the sources from which vast information
might have been derived was cut off, by the general abhorrence with
which the ever-wandering tribes of Israel were regarded, and the
habitual taciturnity which had thus been produced in a people
naturally loquacious.

Still a great deal of desultory and vague information concerning
distant lands was floating about society. Strange tales were told, it
is true, and truth deformed by fiction; but imagination had plenty of
materials out of which to form splendid structures; and bright
pictures of the far and the future, certainly did present themselves
to the glowing fancy of Richard of Woodville, as he rode on upon his
way. Knowing his own courage, his own skill, and his own strength;
energetic in character, resolute, and persevering; animated by love,
and encouraged by hope, he might well look forward to the world as a
harvest-field of glory, into which he was about to put the sickle.
Then came all the vague and misty representations that imagination
could call up of distant courts and foreign princes, tilt and
tournament, and high emprize; and the adventurous spirit of the times
of old made his bosom thrill with dim visions of strange scenes and
unknown places, accidents, difficulties, dangers, enterprises,--the
hard rough ore from which the gold of praise and renown was still to
be extracted.

Movement and exertion are the life-blood of youth; and as he rode on,
the spirits of Richard of Woodville rose higher and higher;
expectation expanded; the regrets were left behind; and "Onward,
onward!" was the cry of his heart, as the grey cloud broke into
mottled flakes upon the sky, and gradually disappeared, as if absorbed
by the blue heaven which it had previously covered.

Through the rich wooded land of England he took his way for four days,
contriving generally to make his resting-place for the night at some
town which possessed the advantage of an inn, or at the house of some
old friend of his family, where he was sure of kind reception. In the
daytime, however, many of his meals were eaten in the open field, or
under the broad shade of the trees; and, as he sat, after partaking
lightly of the food which had been brought with him, while the horses
were finishing their provender, the birds singing in the trees above
often brought back to his mind the words of the minstrel's girl's
lay:--


             "The lark shall sing on high,
                Whatever shore thou rovest;
              The nightingale shall try
                To call up her thou lovest.
              For the true heart and kind,
                Its recompence shall find;
                  Shall win praise,
                  And golden days,
              And live in many a tale."


It seemed like the song of hope, and rang in his ear, mingling with
the notes of the blackbird, the thrush, and the wood-lark, and
promising success and happiness. The words, too, called up the image
of Mary Markham, as she herself would have wished, the end and object
of all his hopes and wishes, the crowning reward of every deed he
thought to do. It is true that, with her, still appeared to the eye of
memory the form of poor Ella Brune; but it was with very different
sensations. He felt grateful to her for that cheering song; and,
indeed, how often is it in life, that a few words of hope and
encouragement are more valuable to us, are of more real and solid
benefit, than a gift of gold and gems! for moral support to the heart
of man, in the hour of difficulty, is worth all that the careless hand
of wealth and power can bestow. But he felt no love--he might admire
her, he might think her beautiful; but it was with the cold admiration
of taste, not with passion. Her loveliness to him was as that of a
picture or statue, and the only warmer sensations that he felt when he
thought of her, were pity for her misfortunes, and interest in her
fate. Nor did this arise either in coldness of nature, or the haughty
pride of noble birth; but love was with him, as it was with many in
days somewhat previous to his own, very different from the transitory
and mutable passion which so generally bears that name. It was the
absorbing principle of his whole nature, the ruling power of his
heart, concentrated all in one--indivisible--unchangeable--a spirit in
his spirit, a devotion, almost a worship. I say not, that in former
times, before he had felt that passion, he might not have lived as
others lived,--that he might not have trifled with the fair and bright
wherever he found them,--that the fiery eagerness of youthful blood
might not have carried him to folly, and to wrong; but from the moment
he had learned to love Mary Markham, his heart had been for her alone,
and the gate of his affections was closed against all others. Thus,
could she have seen his inmost thoughts, she would have found how
fully justified was her confidence, and might, perhaps, have blushed
to recollect that one doubt had ever crossed her bosom.

It was about three o'clock on the evening of the fourth day, that
Richard of Woodville--passing along by the priory, and leaving the
church of St. Mary to the left, with the towers of the old castle
frowning from the steep above, on one side, and the round chapel of
the ancient temple house peeping over the hill upon the other--entered
the small town of Dover, and approached the sea-shore, which, in those
days, unencumbered by the immense masses of shingle that have since
been rolled along the coast, extended but a short distance from the
base of the primeval cliffs. Thus the town was then thrust into the
narrow valley at the foot of the two hills; and the moment that the
houses were passed, the wide scene of the sea, with a number of small
vessels lying almost close to the shore, broke upon the eye.

The associations of the people naturally gave to the principal
hostelry of the place a similar name to that which it has ever since
borne. Though very differently situated and maintained, the chief
place of public reception in the town of Dover was then called the
Bark, as it is now called the Ship; and although that port was not the
principal place through which the communication between England and
France took place, yet, ever since Calais had been an English
possession, a great traffic had been carried on by Dover, so that the
hostelry of the Bark was one of the most comfortable and best
appointed in the kingdom.

As every man of wealth and consequence who landed at, or embarked
from, that port, brought his horses with him, numerous ostlers and
stable boys were always ready to take charge of the guests' steeds;
and as soon as a gentleman's train was seen coming down the street,
loud shouts from the host called forth a crowd of expectant faces, and
ready hands to give assistance to the arriving guests.

The first amongst those who appeared was Ned Dyram, in his blue
tabard; and, although he did not condescend to hold his master's
stirrup, but left that task to others, yet he advanced to the young
gentleman's side, with some pride in the numbers and gallant
appearance of the train, and informed him as he dismounted, that he
had performed his errand in London; and also the charge which he had
received for Dover, having engaged a large bark, named the Lucy
Neville, to carry his master, with horses and attendants, to the small
town of Nieuport, on the Flemish coast.

"The tide will serve at five o'clock, sir," he said. "There is time to
embark the horses and baggage, if you will, while you and the men sup.
We have plenty of hands here to help; and I will see it all done
safely. If not, we must stop till to-morrow."

The host put in his word, however, observing, "that the young lord
might be tired with a long journey, that it were better to wait and
part with the morning tide, and that it was Friday--an inauspicious
day to put to sea."

But the surface of the water was calm; the sky was bright and clear;
and it was the last day of the period which Woodville had fixed, in
his communication with the King, for his stay in England. He therefore
determined to follow the opinion of Ned Dyram, instead of that of the
host, which there was no absolute impossibility to prevent him from
supposing interested; and, ordering his horses and luggage to be
embarked, with manifold charges to his skilful attendant to look well
to the safety of the chargers, he sat down to the ample supper which
was soon after on the board, proposing to be down on the beach before
his orders regarding the horses were put in execution.

The master and the man, in those more simple days, sat at the same
board in the inn, and often at the castle: and as he knew that his own
rising would be a signal for the rest to cease their meal, Richard of
Woodville remained for several minutes, to allow the more slow and
deliberate to accomplish the great function of the mindless. At
length, however, he rose, discharged his score, added largess to
payment, and then, with the "fair voyage, noble sir," of the host, and
the good wishes of drawers and ostlers, proceeded to the shore, where
he fully expected to find Ned Dyram busily engaged in shipping his
baggage.

No one was there, however, but two or three of the horse-boys of the
hotel, who saluted him with the tidings that all was on board. As he
cast his eyes seaward, he saw a large boat returning from a ship at
some small distance from the shore, with Ned Dyram in the stern; and
in a few minutes after, the active superintendent of the embarkation
jumped ashore, with a laugh, saying, "Ah, sir! so you could not trust
me! But all is safe, no hide rubbed off, no knees broken, no shoulder
shaken; and if they do not kick themselves to pieces before we reach
Nieuport, you will have as stout chargers to ride as any in Burgundy.
But you are not going to embark yet? The tide will not serve for half
an hour; and I have left my saddle-bags at the hostel."

"Well, run quick and get them," replied his master. "I would fain see
how all is stowed before we sail."

"And know little about it when you do see," answered Ned Dyram, with
his usual rude bluntness, or that which appeared to be such.

Richard of Woodville might feel a little angry at his saucy tone; but
it was only a passing emotion, easily extinguished. "I certainly know
little of stowing ships, my good friend," he answered, "seeing that I
never was in one in my life; but common sense is a great thing, Master
Dyram; and I am not likely to be mistaken as to whether the horses are
so placed as to run the least chance of hurting themselves or each
other. Back to the hostel, then, as I ordered, with all speed; and do
not let me have to wait for you."

The last words were spoken in a tone of command, which did not much
please the hearer; but there were certain feelings in his breast that
rendered him unwilling to offend a master on whom he had no tie of old
services; and he therefore hurried his pace away, as long as he was
within sight. He contrived to keep Woodville waiting, however, for at
least twenty minutes; and as the young gentleman gazed towards the
ship, he saw the large and cumbersome sails slowly unfurled, and
preparations of various kinds made for putting to sea. His patience
was well nigh exhausted, and he had already taken his place in the
boat, intending to bid the men pull away, when Ned Dyram appeared,
coming down from the inn, and carrying his saddle bags over his arm,
while a man followed bearing a heavy coffre.

Richard of Woodville smiled, saying to his yeoman of the stirrup, "I
knew not our friend Ned had such mass of baggage, or I would have
given him further time."

"He has got his tools there, I doubt," observed the old armourer; "for
he is a famous workman, both in steel and gilding, though somewhat
new-fangled in his notions."

The minute after Ned Dyram was seated in the boat, the men gave way,
and over the calm waters of a sea just rippled by a soft but
favourable breeze, she flew towards the ship. All on board were in the
bustle of departure; and, before Richard of Woodville had examined the
horses, and satisfied himself that everything had been carefully and
thoughtfully arranged for their safety, the bark was under weigh. He
looked round for Ned Dyram, willing to make up, by some praise of his
attention and judgment, for any sharpness of speech on the shore; but
the yeomen told him that their comrade had gone below, saying that he
was always sick at sea; and the young gentleman, escaping from the
crowd and confusion which existed amongst horses and men in the fore
part of the vessel, retired to the stern, and took up his position
near the steersman, while the cliffs of England, and the tall towers
of the castle, with the churches and houses below, slowly diminished,
as moving heavily through the water the bark laid her course for the
town of Nieuport.

The bustle soon ceased upon the deck; some of the yeomen laid
themselves down to sleep, if sleep they might; the rest were down
below; the mariners who remained on deck proceeded with their ordinary
tasks in silence; the wind wafted them gently along with a soft and
easy motion; and the sun, declining in the sky, shone along the bosom
of the sea as if laying down a golden path, midway between France and
England.

The feeling of parting from home was renewed in the bosom of Richard
of Woodville, as he gazed back at the slowly waning shores of his
native land, leaning his arms, folded on his chest, upon the bulwark
of the stern. He felt no inclination to converse; and the man at the
huge tiller seemed little disposed to speak. All was silent, except an
occasional snatch of a rude song, with which one of the seamen cheered
his idleness from time to time; till at length a sweeter voice was
heard, singing in low and almost plaintive tones; and, turning
suddenly round, Woodville beheld a female figure, clothed in black,
leaning upon the opposite side of the vessel, and gazing, like
himself, upon the receding cliffs of England. He listened as she sang;
but the first stanza of her lay was done before he could catch the
words.


                                SONG.

                                  I.

       Oh, leave longing! dream no more
         Of sunny hours to come;
       Dreams that fade like that loved shore,
         Where once we made our home.
          Farewell; and sing lullabie
          To all the joys that pass us by.
           They go to sleep,
           Though we may weep,
          And never come again.--Nennie.

                                 II.

       Oh, leave sighing! thought is vain
         Of all the treasures past;
       Hope and fear, delight and pain,
         Are clay, and cannot last.
          Farewell; and sing lullabie
          To all the things that pass us by.
           They go to sleep,
           Though we may weep,
          And never come again.--Nennie.

                                 III.

       Oh, leave looking--on the wave
         That dances in the ray;
       See! now it curls its crest so brave,
         And now it melts away.
          Farewell; and sing lullabie
          To all the things that pass us by.
           They go to sleep,
           Though we may weep,
          And never come again.--Nennie.


The voice was so sweet, the music was so plaintive, that, without
knowing it, and though she sang in a low and subdued tone, the singer
had every ear turned to listen. Richard of Woodville did not require
to see her face, to recognise Ella Brune, though the change in her
dress might have proved an effectual means of concealment, had she
been disposed to hide herself from him. The peculiarly mellow and
musical tone of her voice was enough; and, as soon as the lay ceased,
Woodville crossed over and spoke to her.

But she showed no surprise at seeing him, greeting him with a smile,
and answering gaily to his inquiry, if she knew that he was in the
same ship,--"Certainly; that was the reason that I came. I am going to
be headstrong, noble sir, for the rest of my life. I would not go to
York, as you see; for I fancied that when people have got hold of that
which does not belong to them, they may strike at any hand which
strives to take it away, especially if it be that of a woman."

"You are right, Ella," answered Richard of Woodville; "I had not
thought of that."

"Then I am going to Peronne, or it may be to Dijon," continued Ella,
in a tone still light, notwithstanding the somewhat melancholy
character of her song; "because I think I can be of service, perhaps,
to some who have been kind to me; and then, too, I intend to amass
great store of money, and marry a scrivener."

"You are gay, Ella," replied Woodville, somewhat gravely, sitting down
beside her, as she still leaned over the side of the vessel.

"Do you see those waves?" she said; "and how they dance and sparkle?"

"Yes," replied her companion; "what then?"

"There are depths beneath!" answered Ella. "Henceforth I will be
gay--on the surface, at least, like the sunny sea; but it is because I
have more profound thoughts within me, than when I seemed most sad.
Keep my secret, noble sir."

"That I will, Ella," replied Woodville; "but tell me--Did my servant
find you out?"

"Yes, and did me good service," answered the girl; "for he brought me
here."

"And the poor fool was afraid I should be offended," said Woodville;
"for he has avoided mentioning your name."

"Perhaps so," rejoined Ella; "for he knew, I believe, that you did not
wish to have me in your company. 'Tis a charge, noble sir; and a poor
minstrel girl is not fit for a high gentleman's train."

"Nay, you do me wrong, Ella," answered Richard of Woodville; "right
willingly, my poor girl, now as heretofore, in this as in other
things, will I give you protection. I thought, indeed, that it might
be better for yourself to remain; and there were reasons, moreover,
that you do not know."

"Nay, but I do know, sir," replied Ella, interrupting him; "I know it
all. I have made acquaintance with your lady-love, and sat at her knee
and sung to her; and she has befriended the poor lonely girl, as you
did before her; and she told me, she would neither doubt you nor me,
though you took me on your journey, and protected me by the way."

"Dear, frank Mary!" exclaimed Richard of Woodville; "there spoke her
own true heart. But tell me more about this, Ella. How did you see
her?--when?--where?"

Ella Brune did as he bade her, and related to him all that had
occurred to her since he had left London. As she spoke, her eye was
generally averted; but sometimes it glanced to his countenance,
especially when she either referred to Sir Simeon of Roydon, or to
Mary Markham; and she saw with pleasure the flush upon her young
protector's cheek, the knitted brow, and flashing eye, when she told
the outrage she had endured, and the look of generous satisfaction
which lighted up each feature, when she spoke of the protection she
had received from good Sir Philip Beauchamp and the King.

"Ah! my noble uncle!" he said; "he is, indeed, somewhat harsh and rash
when the warm blood stirs within him, as all these old knights are,
Ella; but there never was a man more ready to draw the sword, or open
the purse, for those who are in need of either, than himself. And so
the King befriended you, too? He is well worthy of his royal name, and
has done but justice on this arch knave."

"Not half justice," answered Ella Brune, with a sudden change of tone;
"but no matter for that, the hand of vengeance will reach him one of
these days. He cannot hide his deeds from God!--But you speak not of
your sweet lady:--was she not kind to the poor minstrel girl?"

"She is always kind," answered Richard of Woodville. "God's blessing
on her blithe heart! She would fain give the same sunshine that is
within her own soft bosom, to every one around her."

"That cannot be," answered Ella Brune; "there are some made to be
happy, some unhappy, in this world. Fortune has but a certain store,
and she parts it unequally, though, perhaps, not blindly, as men say.
But there's a place where all is made equal;" and, resuming quickly
her lighter tone, she went on, dwelling long upon every word that Mary
Markham had said to her, seeming to take a pleasure in that, which had
in reality no small portion of pain mingled with it. Such is not
infrequently the case, indeed, with almost all men; for it is
wonderful how the bee of the human heart will contrive to extract
sweets from the bitter things of life; but, perhaps, there might be a
little art in it--innocent art, indeed--most innocent; for its only
object was to hide from the eyes of Richard of Woodville that there
was any feeling in her bosom towards him but deep gratitude and
perfect confidence. She dwelt then upon her he loved, as if the
subject were as pleasing to her as to himself; and, though she spoke
gaily--sometimes almost in a jesting tone--yet there were touches of
deep feeling mingled every now and then with all she said, which made
him perceive that, as she herself had told him, the lightness was in
manner alone, and not in the mind.

At all events, her conduct had one effect which she could have
desired: it removed all doubt and hesitation from the mind of Richard
of Woodville, if any such remained, in regard to his behaviour towards
her;--it did away all scruple as to guarding and protecting her on the
way, as far as their roads lay together.

One point, indeed, in her account puzzled him, and excited his
curiosity--which was the sudden departure of his uncle and Mary from
Westminster. "Well," he thought, "I never loved the task of
discovering mysteries, and have ever been willing to leave Time to
solve them, else I should have troubled my brain somewhat more about
my sweet Mary's fate and history than I have done;" and, after
pondering for a few moments more, he turned again to other subjects
with Ella Brune. Pleased and entertained by her conversation, he
scarcely turned his eyes back towards the coast of England, till the
cliffs had become faint and grey, like a cloud upon the edge of the
sky; while the sun setting over the waters seemed to change them into
liquid fire. In the meantime, wafted on by the light breeze, the ship
continued her slow way; and, as the orb of day sank below the horizon,
the moon, which had been up for some little time, poured her silver
light upon the water--no longer outshone by the brighter beams. The
sky remained pure and blue; the stars appeared faint amidst the lustre
shed by the queen of night; and the water, dashing from the stern,
looked like waves of molten silver as they flowed away. Nothing could
be more calm, more grand, more beautiful, than the scene, with the
wide expanse of heaven, and the wide expanse of sea, and the pure
lights above and the glistening ripple below, and the curtain of
darkness hanging round the verge of all things, like the deep veil of
a past and future eternity.

Neither Ella Brune nor Richard of Woodville could help feeling the
influence of the hour, for the grand things of nature raise and
elevate the human heart, whether man will or not. They lived in a rude
age, it is true; but the spirit of each was high and fine; and their
conversation gradually took its tone from the scene that met their
eyes on all sides. They might not know that those stars were
unnumbered suns, or wandering planets, like their own; they might not
know that the bright broad orb that spread her light upon the waves
was an attendant world, wheeling through space around that in which
they lived; they had no skill to people the immensity with miracles of
creative power; but they knew that all they beheld was the handiwork
of God, and they felt that it was very beautiful and very good. Their
souls were naturally led up to the contemplation of things above the
earth; and while Richard of Woodville learned hope and confidence in
Him who had spread the heaven with stars and clothed the earth in
loveliness, Ella Brune took to her heart, from the same source, the
lesson of firmness and resignation.

They gazed, they wondered, they adored; and each spoke to the other
some of the feelings which were in their hearts; but some only, for
there were many that they could not speak.

"I remember," said Ella, at length, in a low voice, "when I was at a
town called Innsbruck, in the midst of beautiful mountains, hearing
the nuns chant a hymn, which I caught up by ear; and the poor old man
and I turned it, as best we might, into English, and used often in our
wanderings to console ourselves with singing it, when little else had
we to console us. It comes into my mind to-night more than ever."

"Let me hear it, then, Ella," said Richard of Woodville; "I love all
music."

"I will sing it," replied Ella; "but you must not hear it only. You
must join in heart, if not in voice."


                                HYMN.

       Oh glorious! oh mighty! Lord God of salvation!
        Thy name let us praise from the depth of the heart;
       Let tongue sing to tongue, and nation to nation,
        And in the glad hymn, all thy works bear a part.

       The tops of the mountains with praises are ringing,
        The depths of the valleys re-echo the cry;
       The waves of the ocean Thy glories are singing,
        The clouds and the winds find a voice as they fly;

       The weakest, the strongest, the lowly, the glorious,
        The living on earth, and the dead in the grave!
       For the arm of thy Son over death is victorious,
        With power to redeem, and with mercy to save.

       Oh glorious! oh mighty! Lord God of salvation!
        To Thee let us sing from the depth of the heart;
       Let tongue tell to tongue, and nation to nation,
        How bountiful, gracious, and holy Thou art.



                             CHAPTER XIX.

                          THE FOREIGN LAND.


The night had fallen nearly an hour ere Richard of Woodville, Ella
Brune, and the young Englishman's attendants, were seated for the
first time round the table of a small Flemish inn, on the day after
they had left the shores of their native land. Strange as it may seem,
that with a wind not unfavourable, somewhat more than twenty-four
hours should be occupied by a voyage of less than sixty miles; yet
such had been the case between Dover and Nieuport; for it was more
than five hours past noon, on the evening following that on which they
set sail, when the bark that bore Richard of Woodville entered the
mouth of the little river on which that port is situated. But the art
of navigation was little known in those times; and the wind, which,
though directly fair at first, was never strong enough to give the
ship much way through the water, veered round soon after midnight, not
to a point exactly contrary, but to one which favoured the course of
the voyagers very little; so that if it had not again changed before
night, another twelve hours might have been passed upon the sea. At
length, however, the land, which had been for some time in sight, grew
clear and more strongly marked; the towers of village churches were
seen, distinct; and, anchoring as near the town as possible, the
disembarkation was commenced without delay, in order to accomplish the
task before nightfall. Nevertheless, ere horses and baggage were all
safely on the shore, the day had well nigh come to an end; so that, as
I have said, it was dark before the young Englishman, Ella Brune, and
his attendants, were seated round the table of the poor hostel, which
was the only place of entertainment that the town afforded.

Here first the services of the poor minstrel girl became really
valuable to her protector; for notwithstanding the proximity of the
English coast, not a soul in the hostel could speak aught else but the
Flemish tongue. There were evidently numerous other guests, all
requiring entertainment; though with a strange exclusiveness, hardly
known in those days, they kept themselves closely shut up in the rooms
which had been retained for their own accommodation; and as neither
Woodville nor any of his train, not even excepting the learned Ned
Dyram, knew one word of the language, the whole party would have fared
ill, had not Ella, in tones which rendered even that harsh jargon
sweet, given, in the quality of interpreter, the necessary orders for
all that was required.

The greatest difficulty seemed to be in obtaining chambers, in which
the somewhat numerous party of the young cavalier could find repose.
The stable and the adjoining barn were full already of horses and
mules, even to overflowing, otherwise they might have afforded
accommodation to men who were accustomed in their own country to lie
hard, and yet sleep lightly; and only one room of any size was vacant,
with a small closet hard by, containing a low pallet. The latter,
Richard of Woodville at once assigned to Ella Brune; the former he
reserved for himself and three of his men, of whom Ned Dyram was one;
and it was finally arranged that the rest should be provided with dry
hay, mown from the neighbouring sandy ground, in the hall where they
supped.

As soon as the meal was over, the board was cleared, the hay brought
in, Ella retired to her pallet, Richard of Woodville to his; straw was
laid down across his door for the three men; and the whole party were
soon in the arms of slumber. Richard of Woodville dreamed, however,
with visions coming thick and fast, and changing as they came, like
the figures in a phantasmagoria. Now he was in the King's court,
defying Simeon of Roydon to battle; now at the old hall at Dunbury,
with Isabel, and Dacre, and Mary, and poor Catherine Beauchamp
herself. Then suddenly the scene changed, and he was by the moonlight
stream near Abbot's Ann, with Hal of Hadnock. He heard a voice call to
him from the water: "Richard! Richard!" it seemed to cry, "Save me!
Revenge me!--Richard, Richard of Woodville!"

He started suddenly up; but the voice still rang in his ears: "Richard
of Woodville," it said, or seemed to say.

"I hear," he exclaims. "Who calls?"

"What maiden is this thou hast with thee?" asked the voice. "Beware!
Beware! Love will not be lightlied."

"Who is it that speaks?" demanded Richard of Woodville, rubbing his
eyes in surprise and bewilderment. But no one answered, and all was
silence. "Surely, some one spoke," said the young gentleman; "if so,
let them speak again."

There was no reply; and Woodville was inclined to believe that his
dream had been prolonged after he had fancied himself awake; but, as
he sat up and listened, he heard the movement of some one amongst the
straw at the end of the room; and, well aware that, if any of the men
were watchful, it must be he who had the most mind, he exclaimed, "Ned
Dyram! are you asleep?"

"No, sir," replied the man; "I have been awake these ten minutes."

"Did you hear any one speak just now?" demanded Woodville.

"To be sure I did," answered Dyram. "Some one called you by your name:
it was that which roused me. They asked about the maiden, Ella, and
bade you beware. Foul fall them! we have witches near."

Richard of Woodville instantly sprang from his bed, and advanced
towards the casement. The moon was still shining; but when the young
gentleman gazed forth, all without was in the still quiet of midnight.
He could see the court of the hostel, and the angle of the building,
formed by a sort of wing which projected from the rest, close to where
he stood; but all was calm; and not a creature seemed stirring. He
looked up to the windows in the wing, but there was no light in any.

"Whence did the sound seem to come, Ned?" he asked.

"It seemed in the room," replied the man. "Shall I strike a light? I
have always wherewithal about me."

Richard of Woodville bade him do so; and a lamp was soon lighted. But
Ned Dyram and his master searched the room in vain; and the other two
inhabitants of the chamber slept soundly through all. At length,
puzzled and disappointed, Woodville retired to bed again, and the
light was extinguished; but the young gentleman did not sleep for some
hours, listening eagerly for any sound. None made itself heard through
the rest of the night, but the hard breathing of the sleeping yeomen;
and, after watching till near morning, slumber once more fell upon
Woodville's eyes, and he did not wake till the sun had been up an
hour. The yeomen had already quitted the room without his having
perceived it; and, dressing himself in haste, he proceeded to inquire
of the host what strangers had lodged in his house during the
preceding night, besides himself and his own attendants?

"None, but a party of monks and nuns," the man replied, through the
interpretation of Ella Brune, whom Woodville had called to his aid.

"Ask him, Ella, of what country they were," said Richard of Woodville.
But the man replied to Ella's question, that they were all
Hainaulters, except two who came from Friesland; and that they were
going on a pilgrimage to Rome.

Richard of Woodville was more puzzled than ever. For a moment he
suspected that Ned Dyram might have played some trick upon him; for,
notwithstanding the bluntness of that worthy personage, a doubt of his
being really as honest and straightforward as the King believed him,
had entered into Woodville's mind, he knew not well why. Reflecting,
however, on the fact of Ned Dyram having encouraged Ella Brune to
accompany them to the Continent, notwithstanding the opposite advice
given by his master, the young gentleman soon rejected that suspicion,
and remained as much troubled to account for what had occurred as
before.

No farther information was to be obtained; and, as soon as his men and
horses were prepared, Richard of Woodville commenced his journey
towards Ghent; directing his steps in the first instance to Ghistel,
through a country which presented, at that period, nothing but wide
uncultivated plains and salt marshes, with here and there a village
raised on any little eminence, or a feudal castle near the shore, from
which, even in those days, and still more in the times preceding,
numerous bands of pirates were sent forth, sweeping the sea, and
occasionally entering the mouths of the English rivers. The
inhabitants of the whole tract, from Ostend to the Aa, were notorious
for their savage and blood-thirsty character; so much so, indeed, as
to have obtained the name of the Scythians of the North; and Ella
Brune, as she rode beside Richard of Woodville, on one of the mules
which he had brought with him, and which had been freed from its share
of the baggage to bear her lighter weight, warned her companion to be
upon his guard, as the passage through that part of the country was
still considered unsafe, notwithstanding some improvement in the
manners of the people.

At first Woodville only smiled, replying, that he thought a party of
eleven stout Englishmen were sufficient to deal with any troop of rude
Flemings who might come against them. But she went on to give him many
anecdotes of brutal outrages that had been committed within a very few
years, which somewhat changed his opinion; and the appearance of a
body of five or six horsemen, seemingly watching the advance of his
little force, induced him to take some precautions. Halting within
sight of the church of Lombards Heyde, he caused his archers to put on
the cuirasses and salades with which they were provided for active
service, and ordered them to have their bows ready for action at a
moment's notice. He also partly armed himself, and directed the two
pages to follow him close by with his casque, shield, and lance; and
thus, keeping a firm array, the party moved forward to Ghistel,
watched all the way along the road by the party they had at first
observed, but without any attack being made. Their military display,
indeed, proved in some degree detrimental to them; for that small town
had been surrounded by ramparts some sixty or seventy years before,
and the party of strangers was refused admission at the gates. On the
offer of payment, however, some of the inhabitants readily enough
brought forth corn and water for the horses, and food and hydromel for
the men. One or two of them could speak French also; and from them
Richard of Woodville obtained clear directions for pursuing his way
towards Ghent. He now found that he had already somewhat deviated from
the right track in coming to Ghistel at all; but as he was there, the
men said that the best course for him to follow was to cross the
country direct by Erneghem, and thence march through the forest of
Winendale, along the high raised causeway which commenced at the gates
of Ghistel.

As no likelihood of obtaining any nearer place of repose presented
itself, the young Englishman proceeded to follow these directions, and
towards three o'clock of the same day reached the village of Erneghem.
Much to his disappointment, however, he found no place of
entertainment there. The inhabitants were mostly in the fields, and
but little food was to be obtained for man or horse. On his own
account, Richard of Woodville cared little; nor did he much heed his
men being broken in to privations, which he well knew must often befal
them; but for Ella Brune he was more anxious, and expressed to her
kindly his fears lest she should suffer from hunger and fatigue. But
Ella laughed lightly, replying, "I am more accustomed to it than any
of you."

Onward from that place, the march of the travellers was through the
deep green wood, which, at that time, extended from a few miles to the
south of Thorout, almost to the gates of Bruges. The soil was marshy,
the road heavy, and full of sand; but the weather was still
beautifully clear, the sun shone bright and warm, a thousand wild
flowers grew up under the shade, and the leafy branches of the forest
offered no unpleasant canopy, even at that early period of the year.
Neither village, nor house, nor woodman's hut, nor castle tower,
presented itself for several miles; and as they approached a spot
where the road divided into two, with no friendly indication to the
weary traveller of the place to which either tended, Richard of
Woodville turned towards Ella, asking--"Which, think you, I ought to
follow, my fair maid? or had I better, like the knight-errant of old,
give the choice up to my horse, and see what his sagacity will do,
where my own entirely fails me?"

"What little I have," replied Ella, "would be of no good here; but I
think the best road to choose would be the most beaten one."

"Often the safest, Ella," replied Richard, with a smile.

"Yet not always the most pleasant," answered Ella Brune. But, as she
spoke, a human figure came in sight, the first that they had seen
since they had left Erneghem. It was that of a stout monk, in a grey
gown, with a large straw hat upon his head, tied with a riband under
his beard. He was mounted upon a tall powerful ass, which was ambling
along with him at a good pace; and though he pulled up when he saw the
large party of strangers pausing at the separation of the two roads,
he came forward at a slower pace the next moment, and, after a careful
inspection of the young leader's person, saluted him courteously in
the French tongue.--"Give you good day, and benedicite, my son," he
said, bowing his head. "You seem embarrassed about your way. Can I
help you?"

"Infinitely, good father," replied Richard of Woodville, "if you can
direct me on the road. I am going to Ghent."

"Why, you can never reach Ghent to-night, my son," exclaimed the monk;
"and you will find but poor lodging till you get to Thielt, which you
will not reach till midnight, unless you ride hard."

"We shall want both food and lodging long ere that, good father," said
Richard of Woodville. "Whither does this road you have just come up
lead?"

"To Aertrick," replied the monk: "but you will get neither food nor
beds there, my son, for so large a troop. 'Tis a poor place, and the
priest is a poor man, who would lodge a single traveller willingly
enough, but has no room for more, nor bread to give them; but your
best plan will be to come with me to Thorout. 'Tis a little out of
your way to Ghent; but yet you can reach that city to-morrow, if you
will, though 'tis a long day's journey--well nigh ten leagues."

"Is there a hostel in Thorout, good father?" asked Richard of
Woodville.

"One of the most miserable in Flanders, Hainault, or Brabant,"
answered the monk, laughing; "but we have a priory there, where we are
always willing to lodge strangers, and let them taste of our
refectory. We are a poor order," he continued, with a sly smile, "but
yet we live in a rich country, and the people are benevolent to us, so
that our board is not ill supplied; and strangers who visit us always
remember our poverty."

"That we will do most willingly," said Richard of Woodville, "to the
best of our ability, good father. But you see we have a lady with us.
Now I have heard, that in some orders--"

"Ay, ay," replied the monk, laughing, "where the brotherhood are in
sad doubt of their own virtue; but we are all grave and sober men, and
fear not to see a fair sister amongst us--as a visitor, as a visitor,
of course. It would be a want of Christian charity to send a fair lady
from the gate, when she was in need of food and lodging. But come on,
sir, if you will come; for we have still near a league to go, and 'tis
well nigh the hour of supper, which this pious beast of mine knows
right well. I had to drub him all the way to Aertrick, because he
thought I had ought to be at vespers in the convent; and now he ambles
me well nigh three leagues to the hour, because he knows that I ought
to be back again. Oh, he has as much care of my conscience as a lady's
father-director has of hers. Come, my son, if you be coming;" and
therewith he put his ass once more into a quick pace, and took the
road to the right.

In little more than half an hour the whole party stood before the
gates of a large heavy building, inclosed within high walls, situated
at a short distance from the town of Thorout; and the good monk,
leaving his new friends without, went in to speak with the prior in
regard to their reception. No great difficulty seemed to be made; and
the prior himself, a white bearded, fresh complexioned old man, with a
watery blue eye, well set in fat, came out to the door to welcome
them. His air was benevolent; and his look, though somewhat more
joyous than was perhaps quite in harmony with his vows, was by no
means so unusual in his class as to call for any particular
observation on the part of the young Englishman.

Far from displaying any scruples in regard to receiving Ella within
those holy walls, he was the first to show himself busy, perhaps
somewhat more than needful, in assisting her to dismount. It was
evident that he was a great admirer of beauty in the other sex; but
there were other objects for which he had an extreme regard; and one
of those, in the form of the supper of the monastery, was already
being placed upon the table of the refectory; so that there was no
other course for him to pursue than to hasten the whole party in, to
partake of the meal, only pausing to ask Richard of Woodville, with a
glance at the black robe of serge and the white wimple of Ella Brune,
whether she was a sister of some English order?

Woodville simply replied that she was not, but merely a young maiden
who was placed under his charge, to escort safely to Peronne, or
perhaps Dijon, if she did not find her relations, who were attached to
the Court of Burgundy, at the former place.

The good prior was satisfied for the time, and led the way on to the
refectory, where about twenty brethren were assembled, waiting with as
eager looks for the commencement of the meal as if they had been
fasting for at least four-and-twenty hours. To judge, however, from
the viands to which they soon sat down, no such abstinence was usually
practised; and capons, and roe-deer, and wild-boar pork, were in as
great plenty on the table of the refectory as in the hall of a high
English baron. Some distinction of rank, too, was here observed;[5]
and the attendants of Richard of Woodville were left to sup with the
servants of the convent, somewhat to their surprise and displeasure.
The monks in general seemed a cheerful and well-contented race, fond
of good cheer and rich wine; and all but one or two seemed to vie with
each other in showing very courteous attention to poor Ella Brune, in
which course the prior himself, and the brother questor, who had been
Woodville's guide thither, particularly distinguished themselves.


---------------------

[Footnote 5: In many countries, the distinction of station, if not of
birth, was very strictly enforced, especially at meals; and I think it
is Meyrick who mentions the ordonnance of some foreign prince, by
which no one was permitted, under the grade of chivalry, to sit at the
table with a knight, unless he were a cross-bowman, the son of a
knight.]

---------------------


There was one saturnine man, indeed, seated somewhat far down the
table, with his head bent over his platter, who seemed to take little
share in the hilarity of the others. From time to time he gave a
side-long look towards Ella; but it was evidently not one of love or
admiration; and Richard of Woodville was easily led to imagine that
the good brother was somewhat scandalized at the presence of a woman
in the convent. He asked the questor, who sat next to him, however, in
a low voice, who that silent brother was; and it needed no farther
explanation to make the monk understand whom he meant.

"He is a Kill-joy," replied the questor, with a significant look; "but
he is none of our own people, though one of the order, from the abbey
at Liege. He departs soon, God be praised; for he has done nothing but
censure us since he came hither. His abbot sent him away upon a
visitation--to get rid of him, I believe; for he was unruly there,
too, and declared that widgeons could not be eaten on even an ordinary
fast-day without sin, though we all know the contrary."

"He is not orthodox in that, at least," answered Richard of Woodville,
with a smile. "Doubtless he thinks it highly improper for a lady to
have shelter here."

"For that very reason," said the questor, in the same low tone in
which their conversation had been hitherto carried on, "the prior will
have to lodge you in the visitor's lodging, which you saw just by the
gate; for he fears the reports of brother Paul. Otherwise he would
have put you in the sub-prior's rooms, he being absent. But see, now
he has done himself, how brother Paul watches every mouthful that goes
down the throats of others!" The questor sank his voice to a whisper,
adding, in a solemn tone, "He drinks no wine--nothing but water wets
his lips! Is not that a sin?--a disparaging of the gifts of God?"

"It is, certainly, not using them discreetly," answered Richard of
Woodville; "and, methinks, in these low lands, a cup of generous wine,
such as this is, must be even more necessary to a reverend monk, who
spends half his time in prayer, than to a busy creature of the world,
who has plenty of exercise to keep his blood flowing."

"To be sure it is!" replied the questor, who approved the doctrine
highly; and thereupon he filled Woodville's can again, with a
"Benedicite, noble sir."

When the meal was over, the young Englishman remarked, that this grim
brother Paul, of whom they had been speaking, took advantage of the
little interval which usually succeeds the pleasant occupation of
eating, to draw the prior aside, and whisper to him for several
minutes. The face of the latter betrayed impatience and displeasure,
and he turned from him, with a somewhat mocking air, saying aloud,
"You are mistaken, my brother, and not charitable, as you will soon
see. Hark! there is the bell for complines. Do you attend the service,
sir?"

The last words were addressed to Richard of Woodville, who bowed his
head, and answered, "Gladly I will."

"Oh, yes!" cried Ella, with a joyful look; "I shall be so pleased, if
I may find a place in the chapel. I have not had the opportunity of
hearing any service since I left London."

"Assuredly, my daughter!" said the prior, with a gracious look; "the
chapel is open to all. We have our own place; but every day we have
the villagers and townsfolk to hear our chanting, which we are
somewhat vain of. You shall be shown how to reach it with your
friends."

The monks took their way to the chapel by a private door from the
refectory; and Richard of Woodville, with Ella, was led by a lay
brother of the monastery through the court. Two or three women and one
old man were in the chapel, and the short evening service began and
ended, the sweet voice of Ella Brune mingling sounds with the choir,
which, well I wot, the place had not often heard before. At the close,
Richard of Woodville moved towards the door; but Ella besought him to
stay one moment, and, advancing to the shrine of Our Lady, knelt down
and prayed devoutly, with her beads in her hand. Perhaps she might ask
for a prosperous journey, and for deliverance from danger; or she
might entreat support and guidance in an undertaking that occupied the
dearest thoughts of an enthusiastic heart; nor will there be many
found to blame her, even if the higher aspirations, the holier and
purer impulses that separate the spirit from the earth and lead the
soul to Heaven, were mingled with the mortal affections that cling
around us to the end, so long as we are bondsmen of the clay.

While she yet prayed, and while the monks were wending away through
their own particular entrance, the old prior advanced to Woodville,
who was standing near the door, and remarked, "Our fair sister seems
of a devout and Catholic spirit. These are bad days, and there are
many that swerve from the true faith."

At these words a conviction, very near the truth, broke upon
Woodville's mind, as he recollected what Ella had told him of the
opinions of old Murdock Brune and of his relations in Liege, and
combined her account with the whispering of brother Paul, a monk from
that very city. It was a sudden flash of perception, rather than the
light of cold consideration; and he replied, without a moment's pause,
"She is, indeed, a sincere and pious child of the Holy Roman Catholic
Church; and she has been much tried, as you would soon perceive,
reverend sir, if you knew all; for she has relations who have long
since abandoned the faith of their fathers, and would fain have
persuaded her to adopt their own vain and heretical opinions; but she
has been firm and constant, even to her own injury in their esteem,
poor maiden!"

"Ay, I thought so, I thought so!" replied the fat prior, rubbing his
fat white hands. "See how she prays to the Blessed Virgin; and the
Queen of Heaven will hear her prayers. She always has especial grace
for those who kneel at that altar. Good night, brother;--good night!
The questor and the refectioner will show you your lodging, and give
you the sleeping cup. To-morrow I will see you ere you depart. God's
blessing upon you, daughter," he added, as Ella approached. "I must
away, for that father Paul has us all up to matins."

Thus saying, the old monk retired; and in the court Woodville found
his friend the questor and another brother, who led him and his
attendants to what was called the visitor's lodging, where, with a
more comfortable bed than the night before, he slept soundly, only
waking for a few moments as the matin bell rang, and then dropping
asleep again, to waken shortly after daylight and prepare for his
journey onward.

When he came to depart, however, there was one drawback to the
remembrance of the pleasant evening he had passed in the monastery. A
stout mule was saddled in the court, and the prior besought him, in
courteous terms, to give the advantage of his escort to father Paul,
who was about to set out likewise for Ghent. Richard of Woodville
could not well refuse, though not particularly pleased, and placing a
liberal return for his entertainment in the box of the convent, he
began his journey, resolved to make the best of a companionship which
he could not avoid.



                             CHAPTER XX.

                        THE NEW ACQUAINTANCES.


All was bustle in the good old town of Ghent, as Richard of Woodville
and his train rode in. It was at all times a gay and busy place; and
even now, when much of its commerce has passed away from it, what a
cheerful and lively scene does its market-place present on a summer's
day, with the tall houses rising round, and breaking the line of the
sunshine into fantastic forms, and the innumerable groups of men
and women standing to gossip or to traffic, or moving about in
many-coloured raiment! On that day, however, military display was
added to the usual gaiety of the scene, and to the ordinary municipal
pageants of the time. Horsemen in arms were riding through the
streets, lances were seen here and there, and pennons fluttered on the
wind, while every now and then attendants in gay dresses, with the
arms of Burgundy embroidered upon breast and back, passed along with
busy looks and an important air.

The young Englishman took his way under the direction of brother
Paul--who had shown himself upon the journey more courteous and
conversable than had been expected--towards the principal hostelry of
the place; and Ghent at that time possessed many; but he was twice
forced to stop in his advance by the crowds, who seemed to take little
notice of him and his train, so fully occupied were they with some
other event of the day. The first interruption was caused by a long
train of priests and monks going to some church, with all the splendid
array of the Roman Catholic clergy, followed by an immense multitude
of idle gazers; and hardly had they passed, when the procession of the
trades, walking on foot, with banners displayed, and guards in armour,
and ensigns of the different companies, crossed the path of the
travellers, causing them to halt for a full quarter of an hour, while
the long line moved slowly on.

"Is this any day of peculiar festival, brother Paul?" demanded Richard
of Woodville; "the good citizens of Ghent seem in holiday."

"None that I know of," replied the monk; "but I will ask;" and,
pushing on his mule to the side of one of the more respectable
artisans, he inquired the cause of the procession of the trades.

"They are going to compliment the Count de Charolois," answered the
man, "and to ask his recognition of their charters and privileges. He
arrived only this morning."

"That is fortunate, Ella," said Woodville, as soon as he was informed
of this reply; "both for you and for me. Your father's cousin will,
most likely, be with him; and I seek the Count myself."

Brother Paul seemed to listen attentively to what his companions said;
but he made no remark; and as soon as the procession had passed, they
rode on, and were soon housed comfortably for the night. The monk left
them at the inn door, thanking the young English gentleman for his
escort, and retired to the abbey of St. Bavon.

The hour of the day was somewhat late for Richard of Woodville to
present himself before the Count de Charolois, and he also judged that
it might be more prudent to visit in the first place the agent of the
King of England--the well-known diplomatist of that day, Sir Philip
Morgan, or de Morgan--if it should chance that he had accompanied the
Count to Ghent. That he had done so, indeed, seemed by no means
improbable, as Woodville had learned since his arrival in Flanders,
that the Duke of Burgundy himself was absent in the French capital,
and that the chief rule of his Flemish territory was entrusted to his
son. The host of the inn, however, could tell him nothing about the
matter; all he knew was, that the Count had arrived that morning
unexpectedly, accompanied by a large train, and that instead of taking
up his abode in the Cour des Princes, which had of late years become
the residence of the Counts of Flanders, he had gone to what was
called the Vieux Bourg, or old castle, of the Flemish princes. He
offered to send a man to inquire if a person bearing the hard name
which his English guest had pronounced, was with the Count's company;
and Richard of Woodville had just got through the arrangements of a
first arrival, and was taking a hasty meal, when the messenger
returned, saying that Sir Philip de Morgan was with the Count, and was
lodged in the left gate tower entering from the court.

"I will go to him at once, Ella," he said; "and before my return you
had better bethink you of what course you will pursue, in case your
kinsman should not be with the Count. I will leave you for the present
under the charge of Ned Dyram here, who will see that no harm happens
to you in this strange town."

"Oh! it is not strange to me," replied Ella Brune. "We once staid here
for a month, noble sir; and, as to bethinking me of what I shall do, I
have bethought me already, but will not stay you to speak about it
now."

Thus saying, she suffered him to depart, without giving him any charge
to inquire after her kinsman, being somewhat more than indifferent, to
say the truth, as to whether Richard of Woodville found him or not.
When the young gentleman had departed, and the meal was concluded, Ned
Dyram, though he had taken care to show no great pleasure at the task
which his master had given him to execute, besought his fair companion
to walk forth with him into the town, and urged her still,
notwithstanding the plea of weariness which she offered for retiring
to her own chamber.

"I wish to purchase some goods," he said; "and shall never make myself
understood, fair Ella, unless I have you with me."

"Oh! every one in this town speaks French," replied Ella Brune; "for
since the country fell to one of the royal family of France, that
tongue has become the fashion amongst the nobles; and the traders are
obliged to learn it, to speak with them."

"But I must not go out and leave you," replied Ned Dyram, "after the
charge my young lord has laid upon me;" and as he still pressed her to
accompany him, Ella, who felt that she owed him some gratitude for
having forwarded her schemes so far, at length consented; and they
issued forth together into the streets of Ghent.

As soon as they were free from the presence of the other attendants of
Richard of Woodville, the manner of her companion towards Ella became
very different. There was a tenderness in his tones, and in his words,
an expression of admiration in his countenance, which he had carefully
avoided displaying before others; and the poor girl felt somewhat
grieved and annoyed, although, as there was nothing coarse or familiar
in his demeanour, she felt that she had no right to be displeased.

"The lowliest may love the highest," she thought; "and in station he
is better than I am. Why, then, should I feel angry?--And yet I wish
this had not been; it may mar all my plans. How can I check it? and if
I do, may he not divine all the rest, and, in his anger, do what he
can to thwart me?--I will treat it lightly. Heaven pardon me, if I
dissemble!"

"What are you thinking of so deeply, fair maiden?" asked Ned Dyram,
marking the reverie into which she had fallen. "You do not seem to
listen to what I say."

"As much as it is worth, Master Dyram," replied Ella, in a gay tone;
"but I must check you; you are too rapid in your sweet speeches. Do
you not know, that he who would become a true servant to a lady, must
have long patience, and go discreetly to work? Oh! I am not to be won
more easily than my betters! Poor as I am, I am as proud as any lady
of high degree, and will have slow courtship and humble suit before I
am won."

"You shall have all that you wish, fair Ella," answered Ned Dyram, "if
you will but smile upon my suit!"

"Smile!" exclaimed Ella, with the same light manner. "Did ever man
dream of such a thing so soon! Why, you may think yourself highly
favoured, if you get a smile within three months. The first moon is
all sighing--the next is all beseeching--the next, hoping and fearing;
and then, perchance, a smile may come, to give hope encouragement. A
kind word may follow at the end of the fourth month, and so on. But
the lady who could be wholly won before three years, is unworthy of
regard. However, Master Dyram," she continued in a graver tone, "you
must make haste to purchase what you want, for I am over-weary to walk
further over these rough stones."

Just as she spoke, brother Paul passed them, in company with a secular
priest; and, although he took no notice of his fellow travellers,
walking on as if he did not see them, the quick eye of Ned Dyram
perceived with a glance that the priest and the monk had stopped, and
were gazing back, talking earnestly together.

"That dull shaveling loves us not, fair Ella," said Ned Dyram. "He is
one of your haters of all men, I should think."

"I have seen his face somewhere before," answered Ella Brune; "but I
know not well where. 'Tis not a pleasant picture to look upon,
certainly, but he may be a good man for all that. Come, Master Dyram,
what is it you want to buy? Here are stalls enough around us now; and
if you do not choose speedily, I must turn back to the inn, and leave
you to find your way through Ghent alone."

"Then, first," said Ned Dyram, "I would buy a clasp to fasten the hood
round your fair face."

"What!" exclaimed Ella, in a tone of merry anger; "accept a present
within a week of having seen you first! Nay, nay, servant of mine,
that is a grace you must not expect for months to come. No, if that be
all you want, I shall turn back," and she did so accordingly; but Ned
Dyram had accomplished as much of his object as he had hoped or
expected, for that day at least. He had spoken of love with Ella
Brune; and, although what a great seer of the human heart has said,
that "talking of love is not making it," may be true, yet it is
undoubtedly a very great step to that pleasant consummation. But Ned
Dyram had done more; he had overstepped the first great barrier; and
Ella now knew that he loved her. He trusted to time and opportunity
for the rest; and he was not one to doubt his skill in deriving the
greatest advantage from both.

The foolish and obtuse are often deceived by others; the shrewd and
quick are often deceived by themselves. Without that best of all
qualities of the mind, strong common sense, there is little to choose
between the two: for if the dull man has in the world to contend with
a thousand knaves, the quick one has in his own heart to contend with
a thousand passions; and, perhaps, the domestic cheats are the most
dangerous after all. There is not so great a fool on the earth as a
clever man, when he is one; and Ned Dyram was one of that class, so
frequently to be found in all ages, whose abilities are sometimes
serviceable to others, but are rarely, if ever, found serviceable to
themselves.

Ella had used but little art towards him, but that which all women
use, or would use, under such circumstances. Her first great thought
was to conceal the love she felt; and where--when it becomes necessary
to do so--is there a woman who will not find a thousand disguises to
hide it from all eyes? But to him especially she was anxious to suffer
no feeling of her bosom to appear; for she had speedily discovered, by
a sort of intuition rather than observation--or, perhaps by a
quickness in the perception of small traits which often seems like
intuition--that he was keen and cunning beyond his seeming; and now
she had a double motive for burying every secret deep in her own
heart. She laid out no plan, indeed, for her future conduct towards
him; she thought not what she would say, or what she would do; and if,
in her after course, she employed aught like wile against his wiles,
it was done on the impulse of the moment, and not on any predetermined
scheme.

Ned Dyram had remarked his master's conduct well since Ella had been
their companion; he had seen that Woodville had been sincere in the
opinion he had expressed, that it would be better for her to remain in
England; and the very calm indifference which he had displayed on
finding her in the ship with himself, had proved to him, both that
there had never been any love passages between them ere he knew
either, as he had imagined when first he was sent to London, and thus
there was no chance of the young gentleman's kindly sympathy for the
fair girl he protected growing into a warmer feeling. He read the
unaffected conduct of his master aright; but to that of Ella Brune he
had been more blind, partly because he was deceived by his own
passions, partly because, in this instance, he had a much deeper and
less legible book to read--a woman's heart; and, though naturally of a
clear-sighted and even suspicious mind, he saw not, in the slightest
degree, the real impulses on which she acted.

Contented, therefore, with the progress he had made, he purchased some
articles of small value at one of the stalls which they passed, and
returned to the inn with his fair companion, who at once sought her
chamber, and retired to rest, without waiting for Richard of
Woodville's return. Then sitting down in a dark corner of the hall, in
which several of his companions were playing at tables, and two or
three other guests listening to a tale in broad Flemish, delivered by
the host, Dyram turned in his mind all that had passed between him and
Ella, and, with vanity to aid him, easily persuaded himself that his
suit would find favour in her eyes. He saw, indeed, that the rash and
licentious thoughts which he had at one time entertained in regard to
her when he found her poor, solitary, and unprotected, at a hostel in
the liberties of the city, were injurious to her; but as his character
was one of those too ordinary and debased ones, which value all things
by the difficulty of attainment, he felt the more eagerly inclined to
seek her, and to take any means to make her his, because he found her
less easy to be obtained than he had at first imagined.



                             CHAPTER XXI.

                              THE EXILE.


At one side of a small square or open space, in the town of Ghent,
rose a large pile of very ancient architecture, called the
Graevensteen, for many centuries the residence of the Counts of
Flanders. Covering a wide extent of ground with its walls and towers,
the building ran back almost to the banks of the Liève, over which a
bridge was thrown, communicating with the castle on one side, and the
suburbs on the other. In front, towards the square, and projecting far
before the rest of the pile, was a massive castellated gate of stone,
flanked by high towers, rising to a considerable height. The aspect
of the whole was gloomy and stern; but the gay scene before the
gates--the guards, the attendants, the pages in the bright-coloured
and splendid costumes, particularly affected by the house of
Burgundy--relieved the forbidding aspect of the dark portal,
contrasting brilliantly, though strangely, with its sombre and
prison-like air.

At a small light wicket, in a sort of balustrade, or screen, of richly
sculptured stone, which separated the palace from the rest of the
square, stood two or three persons, some of them in arms, others
dressed in the garb of peace; and Richard of Woodville, with his
guide, approaching one who seemed to be the porter, inquired if Sir
Philip de Morgan could be spoken with?

"Pass in," was the brief reply:--"the door in the court, on the left
of the gate;" and walking on, they took their way under the deep arch,
and found in one of the towers a small low door of massive oak,
studded with huge bosses of iron. No one was in attendance; and this
door being partially open, was pushed back by Richard of Woodville,
who bade the guide wait below, while he mounted the narrow stairs, the
foot of which was seen before him. At the first story another open
door presented itself, displaying a little anteroom, with two or three
servants seated round a table, playing at cross and pile, a game
which, by this time, had descended from kings to lacqueys. Entering at
once, the young gentleman, using the French tongue, demanded to speak
with Sir Philip de Morgan; but the servants continued their game with
that sort of cold indifference which Englishmen of an inferior class
have, in all ages, been accustomed to show towards foreigners: one of
them replying, in very bad French, and hardly lifting his head from
the game, "He can't be spoken with--he is busy!" adding in English to
his fellow, "Play on, Wilfred."

"How now, knave!" exclaimed Richard of Woodville in his own tongue;
"Methinks you are saucy! Rise this moment, and inform your master that
a gentleman from the King of England desires to speak with him."

The man instantly started up, replying, "I beg your pardon, sir. I did
not know you. I thought it was some of those Flemish hogs, come to
speak about the vellum."

"Learn to be civil to all men, sir," replied Richard of Woodville;
"and that a serving man is as much below an honest trader as the
trader is below his lord. Go and do as I have told you."

The lacquey retired by a door opposite, leaving a smile upon the faces
of his fellows at the lecture he had received; and after being absent
not more than a minute, he re-opened the door, saying, "Follow me,
noble sir; Sir Philip will see you."

Passing through another small chamber, in which a pale thin man
in a black robe, with a shaven crown, was sitting, busily copying
some papers, Richard of Woodville was ushered into a larger room,
poorly furnished. At a table in the midst, was seated a corpulent,
middle-aged personage, with a countenance which at first sight seemed
dull and heavy. The nose, the cheeks, the lips, were fat and
protruding; and the thick shaggy eyebrows hung so far over the eyes,
as almost to conceal them. The forehead, however, was large and fine,
somewhat prominent just about the brow, and over the nose; and when
the eye could be seen, though small and grey, there was a bright and
piercing light in it, which frequently accompanies high intellect. He
was dressed in the plainest manner, and in dark colours, with a furred
gown over his shoulders, and a small black velvet cap upon his head;
nor would it have been easy for any one unacquainted with his real
character to divine that in that coarse and somewhat repulsive form
was to be found one of the greatest diplomatists of his age.

Sir Philip de Morgan rose as soon as Richard of Woodville entered,
bowing his head with a courtly inclination, and desiring his visitor
to be seated. As soon as the servant had closed the door, he began the
conversation himself, saying, "My knave tells me, sir, you come from
the King. It might have been more prudent not to say so."

"Why, good faith, Sir Philip," replied Woodville, "without saying so,
there was but little chance of seeing you; for you have some saucy
vermin here, who thought fit to pay but little attention to my first
words; and moreover, as I have letters from the King for the Count de
Charolois, which must be publicly delivered, concealment was of little
use, and could last but a short time."

"That alters the case," answered Sir Philip de Morgan. "As to my
knaves, they must be taught to use their eyes, though a little
insolence is not altogether objectionable; but you mentioned letters
for the Count--I presume you have some for me?"

"I have," answered Richard of Woodville, putting his hand into the
gibecière, or pouch, which was slung over his right shoulder and under
his left arm, by an embroidered band. "This, from the King, sir;" and
he placed Henry's letter in the envoy's hand.

Sir Philip de Morgan took it, cut the silk with his dagger, and drew
forth the two sheets which it contained. The first which he looked at
was brief; and the second, which was folded and sealed, with two words
written in the corner, he did not open, but laid aside.

"So, Master Woodville," he said, after this examination, "I find you
have come to win your golden spurs in Burgundy. What lies in me to
help you, I will do. To-morrow I will make you known to the Count de
Charolois. I was well acquainted with your good father, and your lady
mother, too. She was the sister, if I recollect, of the good knight of
Dunbury, a very noble gentleman;" and then, turning from the subject,
he proceeded, with quiet and seemingly unimportant questions, to gain
all the knowledge that he could from Richard of Woodville regarding
the court of England, and the character, conduct, and popularity of
the young King. But his visitor, as the reader may have seen in
earlier parts of this true history, though frank and free in his own
case, and where no deep interests were concerned, was cautious and on
his guard in matters of greater moment. He was not sent thither to
babble of the King's affairs; and though he truly represented his
Sovereign as highly popular with all classes, and deservedly so, Sir
Philip de Morgan gained little farther information from him on any of
the many points, in regard to which the diplomatist would fain have
penetrated the monarch's designs before he thought fit to communicate
them.

The high terms in which Henry had been pleased to speak of the
gentleman who bore his letter, naturally induced the envoy to set down
his silence to discretion, rather than to want of knowledge; and he
observed, after his inquiries had been parried more than once, "You
are, I see, prudent and reserved in your intelligence, Master
Woodville."

"It is easy to be so, fair sir," answered his visitor, "when one has
nothing to communicate. Doubtless the King has told you all, without
leaving any part of his will for me to expound. At least, if he did,
he informed me not of it; and I have nothing more to relate."

"What! not one word of France?" asked the knight, with a smile.

"Not one!" replied Woodville, calmly.

The envoy smiled again. "Well," he said, "then tomorrow, at noon, I
will go with you to the Count, if you will be here. Doubtless we shall
hear more of your errand, from the letters you bear to that noble
prince."

"I do not know," replied Woodville, rising; "but at the same time, I
would ask you to send some one with me to find out the dwelling of one
Sir John Grey, if he be now in Ghent."

"Sir John Grey!" said de Morgan, musing, as if he had never heard the
name before. "I really cannot tell you where to find such a person:
there is none of that name here. Is he a friend of your own?"

"No!" answered Richard of Woodville; "I never saw him."

"Then you have letters for him, I presume," rejoined the other. "What
says the superscription? Does it not give you more clearly his place
of abode? This town contains many a street and lane. I have only been
here these eight hours since several years; and he may well be in the
place and I not know it."

Woodville drew forth the King's letter, and gazed at the writing on
the back; while Sir Philip de Morgan, who had risen likewise, took a
silent step round, and glanced over his arm. "Ha! the King's own
writing," he said. "Sir John Grey! I remember; there is, I believe, an
old countryman of ours, living near what is called the Sas de Gand, of
the name of Mortimer. He has been here some years; and if there be a
man in Ghent who can tell you where to find this Sir John Grey, 'tis
he. Nay, I think you may well trust the letter in his hands to
deliver. Stay, I will send one of my knaves with you, who knows the
language and the manners of this people well."

"I thank you, noble sir," replied his visitor; "but I have a man
waiting for me, who will conduct me, if you will but repeat the
direction that you gave--near the Sas de Gand, I think you said?"

"Just so," replied Sir Philip de Morgan, drily; "but not quite so far.
It is a house called the house of Waeerschoot;--but it is growing
late; in less than an hour it will be dark. You had better delay your
visit till to-morrow, when you will be more sure of admission; for he
is of a moody and somewhat strange fantasy, and not always to be
seen."

"I will try, at all events, to-night," replied Richard of Woodville.
"I can but go back tomorrow, if I fail. Farewell, Sir Philip, I will
be with you at noon;"--and, after all the somewhat formal courtesies
and leave-takings of the day, he retired from the chamber of the
King's envoy, and sought the guide who had conducted him thither.

The man was soon found, talking to one of the inferior attendants of
the Count of Charolois; and, calling him away, Richard of Woodville
directed him to lead to the house which Sir Philip de Morgan had
indicated. The guide replied, in a somewhat dissatisfied tone, that it
was a long way off; but a word about his reward soon quickened his
movements; and issuing through the gates of the city, they followed a
lane through the suburbs on the northern side of the Lys.

A number of fine houses were built at that time beyond the actual
walls of Ghent; for the frequent commotions which took place in the
town, and the little ceremony with which the citizens were accustomed
to take the life of any one against whom popular wrath had been
excited, rendered it expedient in the eyes of many of the nobles of
Flanders to lodge beyond the dangerous fortifications, which were as
often used to keep in an enemy as to keep one out. Many of these were
modern buildings; but others were of a far more ancient date; and at
length, as it was growing dusk, the young Englishman's guide stopped
at the gate of one of the oldest houses they had yet seen, and struck
two or three hard blows upon the large heavy door. For some time
nothing but a hollow sound made answer; and looking up, Richard of
Woodville examined the mansion, which seemed going fast into a state
of decay. It had once been one of the strong battlemented dwellings of
some feudal lord; and heavy towers, and numberless turrets, seemed to
show that the date of its first erection went back to a time when the
city of Ghent, confined to its own walls, had left the houses which
were built beyond them surrounded only by the uncultivated fields and
pastures, watered by the Scheld, the Lys, and the Liève. The walls
still remained solid, though the sharp cutting of the round arches had
mouldered away in the damp atmosphere; and the casements above--for
externally there were none on the lower story--were, in many
instances, destitute of even the small lozenges of glass, which, in
those days, were all that even princely mansions could boast.

After waiting more than a reasonable time, the guide knocked loud
again, and, looking round for a bell, at length found a rope hanging
under the arch, which he pulled violently. While it was still in his
hand, a stout Flemish wench appeared, and demanded what they wanted,
that they made so much noise? Her words, indeed, were unintelligible
to the young Englishman; but, guessing their import, he directed the
guide to inquire if an Englishman, of the name of Mortimer, lived
there? A nod of the head, which accompanied her reply, showed him that
it was in the affirmative; and he then, by the same intervention, told
her to let her master know, that a gentleman from England wished to
see him.

The girl laughed, and shook her head, saying something which, when it
came to be translated, proved to be, that she knew he would not see
any one of the kind; but, though it was of no use, she would go and
inquire; and away she consequently ran with good-humoured speed,
showing, as she went, a pair of fat, white legs, with no other
covering than that with which nature had furnished them.

She returned in a minute, with a look of surprise; and bade the
strangers follow her, which they did, into the court. There, however,
Woodville again directed his guide to wait, and, under the pilotage of
the Flemish maid, entered upon a sea of passages, till at length,
catching him familiarly by the hand to guide him in the darkness that
reigned within, she led him to a flight of stairs, and opened a door
at the top. Before him lay a small room, ornamented with richly carved
oak, the lines and angles of which caught faintly the light proceeding
from a lamp upon the table; and, standing in the midst of the room,
with a look of eager impatience, was a man, somewhat advanced in life,
though younger than Woodville had expected to see. His hair, it is
true, was white, and his beard, which he wore long, was nearly so
likewise; but he was upright, and seemingly firm in limb and
muscle.[6] His face had furrows on it, too; but they seemed more those
of care and thought than age; and his eye was clear, undimmed, and
flashing.


---------------------

[Footnote 6: His after advancement to the Earldom of Tankerville was
won by deeds of arms, which shows that he must have been still hale
and robust at this time.]


---------------------


"Well, sir! well!" he said in English, as soon as Richard of Woodville
entered; "What news?--Why has she not come herself?"

"You are, I fear, under a mistake," replied the young Englishman. "I
came to you for information--not to give any."

The other cast himself back into his seat, and covered his eyes with
his hands, as Woodville spoke. The next moment he withdrew his hands,
and the whole expression of his countenance was altered. Nothing
appeared but a look of dull and thoughtful reserve, with a slight
touch of disappointment.

As he spoke not, Richard of Woodville went on to say, "Sir Philip de
Morgan directed me, sir--"

"Ay!--he has his eye ever upon me," exclaimed the other, interrupting
him. "What does he seek--what is there now to blame?"

"Nothing, that I am aware of," answered Woodville; "it is on my own
business he directed me here; not on yours or his."

"Indeed!" said the other, with a softened look. "And what is there for
your pleasure, sir?"

"He informed me," replied his visitor, "that if there be a man in
Ghent, it is yourself, who can tell me where to find one Sir John
Grey, an English knight, supposed to be resident here."

"And may I ask your business with him?" inquired Mortimer, coldly.

"Nay," answered Woodville; "that will be communicated to himself. I
cannot see how it would stead you, to know aught concerning it."

"No!" replied Mortimer; "but it might stead him. A good friend, sir,
to a man in danger, may stand like a barbican, as it were, before a
fortress, encountering the first attack of the enemy. I say not that I
know where Sir John Grey is to be found; but I do say, and at once,
that I would not tell, if I did, till I had heard the motive of him
who seeks him. He has been a wronged and persecuted man, sir; and it
is fit that no indiscretion should lay him open to further injury."

Woodville fixed his eyes intently upon his companion's countenance;
and, after a moment's pause, he said, in an assured tone, "I speak to
Sir John Grey even now. Concealment is vain, sir, and needless; for I
do but bring you a letter from the young King of England, which I
promised to deliver with all speed; and if things be as I think, it
will not prove so ungrateful to you as you may expect. Am I not
right?--for I must have your own admission ere I give the letter."

"The letter!" repeated the other; and again a look of eagerness came
over his countenance. "You bear a letter, then? You are keen, young
man," he added; "but yet you look honest."

"I do assure you, sir," replied Woodville, "that I have no end or
object on earth, but to give the letter with which I am charged to Sir
John Grey himself. I am anxious, moreover, to do it speedily, for so I
was directed; and I have therefore come to-night, without waiting for
repose. If you be he, as I do believe, you may tell me so in safety,
and rest upon the honour of an English gentleman."

"Honour!" said his companion, with a sad and bitter shake of the head.
"I have no cause to trust in honour: it has become but a mere name,
the meaning of which has been lost long ago, and each man interprets
it as he likes best. In former times, honour was a thing as immutable
as the diamond, which nought could change to any other form. 'Twas
truth,--'twas right,--'twas the pure gold of the high heart. Now,
alas! men have devised alloy; and the metal, be it as base as copper,
passes current for the value that is stamped upon it by society.
Honour is no longer independent of man's will; 'tis that which people
call it, and no more. The liar, who, with a smooth face, wrongs his
friend in the most tender point, is still a man of honour with the
world: the traitor, who betrays his country or his king, so that it be
for passion, and not gold, is still a man of honour, and will cut your
throat if you deny it: the calumniator, who blasts another's
reputation with a sneer, is still a man of honour if he's brave.
Honour's a name that changes colour, like the Indian beast, according
to the light it is viewed in. Now it is courage; now it is rank; now
it is riches; now it is fine raiment, or a swaggering air. Once it was
Truth, young sir."

"And is ever so, in reality," replied Richard of Woodville; "the rest
are all counterfeits, which only pass with men who know no better. It
is of this honour that I speak, sir. However, as you know me not, I
cannot expect you to attribute to me qualities that are indeed now
rare; yet, holding myself bound by that very honour which we speak of,
to deliver the letter that I bear to no one but him for whom it was
destined, unless you tell me you are indeed that person, I must carry
it back with me."

"Stay!--what is your name?" demanded the other--"that may give me
light."

"My name is Richard of Woodville," answered his visitor.

"Ha! Richard of Woodville!" cried the stranger, with a look of joy,
grasping his hand warmly. "Give it me--give it me--quick! I am Sir
John Grey. How fares she?--where is she?--why did she not come?"

"I know not of whom you speak," replied Woodville; "this letter is
from the King;" and, drawing it forth, he put it into his companion's
hand.

"From the King!" exclaimed Sir John Grey--"from the King!--a letter to
me!"--and he held the packet to the lamp, and gazed on the
superscription attentively. "True, indeed?" he said at length, cutting
the silk. "'Our trusty and well-beloved!'--a style I have not heard
for years;" and bending his head over it, he perused the contents,
which were somewhat long.

Woodville gazed at his face while he read, and marked the light and
shade of many varied emotions come across it. Now, the eye strained
eagerly at the first lines, and the brow knit; now, a proud smile
curled the lip; and now, the eyelids showed a tear. But presently, as
he proceeded, all haughtiness passed away from his look--he raised his
eyes to heaven, as if in thankfulness; and at the end let fall the
paper on the table, and clasped his hands together, exclaiming,
"Praise to thy name, Most Merciful! The dark hour has come to an end!"

Then stretching forth his open arms to Richard of Woodville, he said,
"Let me take you to my heart, messenger of joy!--you have brought me
life!"

"I am overjoyed to be that messenger, Sir John," replied Woodville;
"but, in truth, I was ignorant of what I carried. I did but guess,
indeed, from my knowledge of the King's great soul, that he would not
be so eager that this should reach you soon, if the tidings it
contained were evil."

"They are home to the exile," replied the knight; "wealth to the
beggar; grace and station to the disgraced and fallen; the reversal of
all his father's bitter acts; the generous outpouring of a true royal
heart! Noble, noble prince! God requite me with misery eternal, if I
do not devote every moment that remains of this short life to do you
signal service. And you, too, my friend," he continued, taking his
visitor's hand--"so you are the man who, choosing by the heart alone,
setting rank, and wealth, and name aside, looking but to loveliness
and worth, sought the hand of a poor and portionless girl--the
daughter of a proscribed and banished fugitive?"

"Good faith, Sir John!" replied the young gentleman, gazing upon him
with a look of no small surprise and pleasure, "I begin to see light;
but I have been so long in darkness that my eyes are dazzled. Can it
be that I see my fair Mary's father--the father of Mary Markham--in
Sir John Grey?"

But the knight's attention had been turned back to the letter, with
that abrupt transition which the mind is subject to, when suddenly
moved by joy so unexpected as almost to be rendered doubtful by its
very intensity. "I cannot believe it," he said; "yet, who should
deceive me? It is royal, too, in every word."

"It is the King's own hand that wrote it," replied Richard of
Woodville; "and if there be aught that is high and generous
therein--aught that speaks a soul above the ordinary crowd--aught that
is marked as fitting for a King, who values royalty but for extended
power to do good and redress wrong--set it down with full assurance as
a proof that it is Henry's own! But you have not answered me as to
that dear lady."

"She is my child, Richard," said Sir John Grey; "and if you are
worthy, as I believe you, she shall be your wife. You chose her in
lowliness and poverty; she shall be yours in wealth and honour. But
tell me more about her. When did you see her? Why has she not come?"

"The last question I cannot answer," replied Richard of Woodville;
"for, though I heard her father had sent for her, I knew not who that
father was, or where; but----"

"So, then, she never told you?" asked the knight.

"Never," answered Woodville, "nor my good uncle either; but I saw her
some eight or nine days since in Westminster, well and happy. I have
heard since, however, by a servant whom I sent up, that she and Sir
Philip had returned in haste to Dunbury, upon some sudden news."

"Ay!--so then they have missed the men I sent," replied Sir John Grey.
"I despatched a servant--the only one I had--three weeks since,
together with some merchants, who were going to trade in London, and
who promised on their return, which was to be without delay, to bring
her with them."

"Stay!" exclaimed Woodville. "Had they not a freight of velvets and
stuffs of gold?"

"The same," answered the knight. "What of them?"

"They were taken by pirates in the mouth of the Thames," replied
Richard of Woodville. "I heard the news in Winchester, when I was
purchasing housings for my horses. But be not alarmed for your dear
child. She is safe. I saw her afterwards; and good Sir Philip seemed
to marvel much, why some persons whom he expected had not yet arrived.
Had he told me more, I could have given him tidings of them; put your
mind at ease on her account, for she is still with Sir Philip."

"But that poor fellow, the servant!" answered the knight, sadly; "my
heart is ill at rest for him. Misfortune teaches us to value things
more justly than prosperity. A true and faithful friend, whatever be
his station, is a treasure indeed, not to be lost without a bitter
pang. I must thank God that my dear child is safe; yet I cannot forget
him."

"They will put him to ransom with the rest," replied Richard of
Woodville. "I heard they had carried the merchants and their vessel to
some port in the north, and doubtless you will soon hear of him. I did
not learn that there was any violence committed; for, though they are
usually hard and cruel men, they are even more avaricious than
bloodthirsty."

"God send it!" exclaimed Sir John Grey. "I wonder that your noble
kinsman, when he heard that you were about to cross the sea, did not
charge you with Mary's guidance hither. It would have been more safe."

"But you forget," replied Woodville, "that I was ignorant of all
concerning her. I thought she was an orphan till within the last ten
days--or, perhaps, not so well placed as that. Besides, my uncle would
not countenance our love; and, indeed, that was his reason; for I
remember he said, that he wished we had not been such fools as to be
caught by one another's eyes; that it would have saved him much
embarrassment."

Sir John Grey smiled, saying--"That is so much the man I left. He had
even then outlived the memory of his own young days, when lady's love
was all his thought but arms, and looked upon everything, but that
lofty and more shadowy devotion to the fair, which was the soul of
olden chivalry, as little better than youthful idleness. He kept you,
then, even to the last, without knowledge of her fate and history? He
did well, too, for so I wished it; but I will now tell you all; and
there is not, indeed, much to say. I raised my lance, with the rest,
for my sovereign, King Richard; was taken and pardoned; but swore no
allegiance to one whom I could not but hold as an usurper. When
occasion served again, I was not slack to do the same once more, and,
with my friends, fought the lost battle of Shrewsbury. My life was
saved by a poor faithful fellow of our army, who gave his own, I fear,
for mine; and flying, more fortunately than others, I escaped to this
land. Here I soon heard that I was proclaimed a traitor, my estate
seized, my name attainted, and my child sought for to make her a ward
of the crown, and to give her and the fortune which her mother
inherited, to some minion of the court. She was then a mere child,
and, by your uncle's kindly care, was taken first to Wales, and thence
brought to his own house, where he has ever treated her as a daughter.
I lingered on in this and other lands from year to year; and many an
effort was made to entrap or drive me back into the net. The King of
France was instigated to expel me from his dominions; the Duke of
Burgundy was moved to follow his example, but would not so debase
himself to any king on earth. But why should I tell all that I have
suffered? Every art was used, and every means of persecution tried,
till at length, taking refuge in this town of Ghent, under a false
name, I have known a short period of tranquillity. Then came the
thought of my child upon me: it grew like a thirst, till I could bear
no more, and I sent for her. I knew not then that the late King was
dead, or I might have waited to see the result; for often, when this
Prince was but a child, I have had him on my knee; and I too taught
him to handle the bow when he was seven years old; for, till his
father stretched a hand towards the crown, he was my friend; and Harry
of Hereford and John Grey were sworn brothers."

"The more the friendship once, the more the hate," replied Richard of
Woodville; "so says an old song, noble knight; but now, that enmity is
over, I trust, for ever. The Earl of March, the only well-founded
obstacle in the way of Henry's rights, acknowledges them fully."

"And if he did not," answered Sir John Grey, with a stern brow, "I
would never draw my sword for him. The Earl of March--I mean the old
Earl--by tame acquiescence in the deeds of Henry of Bolinbroke, set
aside his title. He held out no hand to help his falling kinsman
Richard; and if the crown was to be given away, it was the Peers and
Commons of England had the right to give it; and they rightly gave it
to the brave and wise, rather than to the feeble and the timid. It was
Richard Plantagenet was my King, and not the Earl of March. To the one
I swore allegiance, and owed much; to the other I had no duty, and
owed nothing. I did not wrangle which son of a king should succeed,
but I upheld the monarch who was upon the throne. Neither did I ever,
my young friend, regard the Duke of Lancaster with private enmity, as
you seem to think. He was ambitious; he usurped his cousin's throne;
and I drew the sword against him because he did so; but I will
acknowledge that, if there was one man in England fitted to fill that
throne with dignity, he was the man. He, on the contrary, hated me,
because his own conduct had changed a friend into an enemy; and so it
is ever in this world. But who is it rings the bell so fiercely? Hark!
perhaps it is my child!"--and, opening the door, he turned his head
eagerly to listen to the sounds that rose from below.

Richard of Woodville also gave ear, for a word is sufficient to make
hopes, however improbable, rise up like young plants in a spring
shower--at least, in our early days. But the next moment, the steps of
two persons sounded in the passage, and one of the servants, whom
Woodville had seen in the ante-chamber of Sir Philip de Morgan,
appeared, guided by the Flemish maid.

"My master greets you well, sir," he said, addressing Sir John Grey,
"and has sent you, by the King's order, some of the money belonging to
you, for your present need;" and thus saying, he laid a heavy bag of
what appeared to be coin upon the table. "He bids me say," continued
the man, "that the rest of the money will arrive soon, and that you
had better appear at the Court of my Lord Count, as early as may be,
that all the world may know you have the King's protection."

Sir John Grey gazed at the bag of money with a mournful smile. "How
ready men are," he said, "when fortune favours! How far and how long
might I have sought this, when I was in distress!"--and untying the
bag, he took out a large piece of silver, saying to the servant,
"There, my friend, is largess. Tell your master I will follow counsel.
He has heard of this, Richard;--you bore him letters, I suppose;" he
added, as the man quitted the room, with thanks for his bounty. "Well,
'tis no use to expect of men more than they judge their duty; yet this
knight was the instrument who willingly urged the Duke of Burgundy to
drive me forth from Dijon."



                            CHAPTER XXII.

                       THE COUNT OF CHAROLOIS.


Clothed in the most splendid array with which he had been able to
provide himself, his tight-fitting hose displaying to the highest
advantage his graceful yet powerful limbs, with the coat of black
silk, spotted with flowers of gold, cut wide, but gathered into
numerous pleats or folds round the collar and the waist, and confined
by a rich girdle to the form, while the sleeves, fashioned to the
shape of the arm, and fastened at the wrist, showed the strong contour
of the swelling muscles, Richard of Woodville stood before the door of
the inn, as handsome and princely a man in his appearance as ever
graced a royal court. Over his shoulders he wore a short mantle of
embroidered cloth, trimmed with costly fur, the sleeves of which,
according to the custom of the day, were slashed down the inner side
so as to suffer the arm to be thrust out from them, while they, more
for ornament than use, hung down to the bend of the knee. On his feet
he wore the riding boots of the time, thrust down to the ankle;
and--in accordance with a custom then new in the courts of France and
Burgundy, but which ere long found its way to England--his heavy sword
had been laid aside, and his only arm was a rich hilted dagger,
suspended by a gold ring from the clasp of his girdle. His head was
covered with a small bonnet, or velvet cap, ornamented by a single
long white feather, showing that he had not yet reached knightly rank;
and round it curled in large masses his glossy dark-brown hair.

Likewise, arrayed with all the splendour that the young gentleman's
purse had permitted him to procure, six of his servants stood ready by
their horses' sides to accompany him to the dwelling of the Count of
Charolois; and a glittering train they formed, well fitted to do
honour to Old England in the eyes of a foreign court. It was evident
enough that they were all well pleased with themselves; but their
self-satisfaction was of the cool and haughty kind, so common to our
countrymen, partaking more of pride than vanity. They looked down
upon others more than they admired themselves; and, unlike the French
or the Burgundians, seemed to care little what others thought of
them,--quite contented with feeling that their garb became them, and
that, should need be, they could give a stroke or bide a buffet with
the best.

The horse of Richard of Woodville--not the one which had borne him
from the coast, but a finer and more powerful animal--was brought
round; and turning for a moment to Ella Brune, who stood with a number
of other gazers at the door of the inn, the young Englishman said, "I
will not be so careless and forgetful to-day, Ella; but will bring you
back tidings of your kinsman, without farther fault."

Then springing on his charger's back he rode lightly away, while the
poor girl gazed after him, with a deep sigh struggling at her heart,
and suppressed with pain, as she thought of the many eyes around her.

At the gate of the Graevensteen, orders had been already given to
admit the young Englishman into the inner court; and, riding on,
Richard of Woodville dismounted near the door which led to the
apartments of Sir Philip de Morgan. A man who was waiting at the foot
of the stairs, ran up them as soon as he saw the train, and before
Woodville could follow, the envoy of the King of England came down,
followed by a page. He greeted his young countryman with even marked
courtesy, suffered his eye to rest with evident pleasure upon his
goodly train, and then turning with a smile to Woodville, he
inquired,--"Do men now in England gild the bits and chains of their
horses?"

"It is a new custom, I believe," replied the young gentleman. "I gave
little heed to it, but told the people to give me those things that
would not discredit my race and country at the Court of Burgundy."

"Well, let us go thither," replied Sir Philip; "or, at least, to such
part of it as is here in Ghent. I have already advised the Count that
you are coming, and he is willing to show you all favour."

The envoy accordingly led the way across the wide court which
separated the old gate, with its gloomy towers, from the stern and
still more forbidding fortress of the ancient Counts of Flanders; and
passing first through a narrow chamber, in which were sitting some
half dozen armed guards, and then through a wide hall, where a greater
number of gentlemen were assembled in their garb of peace, the two
Englishmen approached a flight of steps at the farther end. There a
middle-aged man, with a gold chain round his neck, advanced, and
addressing Sir Philip de Morgan, inquired if the Count was aware of
their visit?

The diplomatist replied that they were expected at that hour; and the
other, pushing open the door at the top of the steps, called loudly to
an attendant within, to usher the visitors to his Lord's presence.
After a few more ceremonies of the same kind, Woodville and his
companion were introduced into the small cabinet in which the Count of
Charolois was seated. He was not alone, for two personages, having the
appearance of men of some rank, but booted and spurred as if for a
journey, were standing before him, in the act of taking their leave;
and Richard of Woodville had an opportunity of examining briefly the
countenance of the Prince, known afterwards as Philip the Good.

He was then in the brightness of early youth; and seldom has there
been seen a face more indebted to expression for the beauty which all
men agreed to admire. Taken separately, perhaps none of the features
were actually fine, except the eyes; but there was a look of generous
kindness, a softness brightened by a quick and intelligent glance, a
benignity rather heightened than diminished by certain firmness of
character, in the mouth and jaw, which was inexpressibly pleasing to
the eye. There were lines of deep thought, too, about the brow, which
contrasted strangely with the smooth soft skin of youth, and with the
rounded cheeks without a furrow or hollow, and the eyelids as
unwrinkled and full as those of careless infancy.

The Count had evidently been speaking on matters of grave moment; for
there was a seriousness even in his smile, as, rising for an instant,
while the others bowed and retired, he wished them a prosperous
journey. He was above the middle height, but not very tall; and,
though in after years he became somewhat corpulent, he was now very
slight in form, and graceful in his movements, which all displayed,
even at the early age of seventeen, that dignity, never lost, even
after the symmetry of youth was gone.

As the two gentlemen who took their leave were quitting the room, the
Count turned to Sir Philip de Morgan, bowing rather stiffly, and
noticing Woodville with a slight inclination of the head.

"This is, I suppose, the gentleman you mentioned, Sir Philip," he
said, "who has brought me letters from my royal cousin of England?"

"The same, fair sir," replied the envoy. "Allow me to make known to
you Master Richard of Woodville, allied to the noble family of
Beauchamp, one of the first in our poor island."

"He is welcome to Ghent," replied the Count. But Woodville remarked
that he did not demand the letters which he bore; and he was
hesitating whether he should present the one addressed to him, when
the Prince inquired in an easy tone, whether he had had a prosperous
journey; following up the question with so many others of small
importance, that the young Englishman judged there was something
assumed in his eager but insignificant interrogatory.

He knew not, indeed, what was the motive; but his companion, too well
accustomed to the ways of courts not to translate correctly a hint of
the kind, whether he chose to apply it or not, took occasion, at the
very first pause, to say, "Having now had the honour of introducing
this young gentleman, I will leave him with you, my Lord Count, as I
have important letters to write on the subject of our conversation
this morning."

"Do so, sir knight," replied the Prince; and he took a step towards
the door, as if to honour his departing visitor.

"Now, Master Richard of Woodville," he continued, as soon as the other
was gone, "let us speak of your journey hither; but first, if you
please, let me see the letter which you bring, and which may, perhaps,
render farther explanation unnecessary."

Richard of Woodville immediately presented the King's epistle to the
Count of Charolois, who read the contents with attention, and then
gazed at the bearer with an earnest glance. "I have heard of you
before, sir," he said, with a gracious smile, "and am most willing to
retain you on the part of Burgundy. Such a letter as this from my
royal cousin could not be written in favour of one who did not merit
high honour; and, unhappily, in these days, there are but too many
occasions of gaining renown in arms. May I ask what payment you
require for the services of yourself and your men?"

"None, noble Prince," replied Richard of Woodville: "I come but to
seek honour. If my services be good, you or your father will
recompence them as you think meet. In the meantime, all that I require
is entertainment for myself and followers at the Court of Burgundy,
wherever it may be, and the discharge of my actual expenses in time of
war, or when I am employed in any enterprise you may think fit to
intrust to me."

"I see, sir, that you are of the olden chivalry," said the Count,
giving him his hand. "You are from this moment a retainer of our
house; and I am glad," he continued, "that I have spoken with you
alone; for good Sir Philip de Morgan loves none to bring letters from
his King but himself. I may have cause to call upon you soon. Even
now, indeed,----; but of that hereafter. How many have you with you?"

"Ten stout archers," answered the young Englishman, "who will do their
duty in whatever field they may be called to, and myself. That is my
only force, but it may go far; for we are well horsed and armed, and
most of us have seen blood drawn in our own land. You said, my Lord
Count, that even now an occasion might offer--at least, so I
understood you. Now, I am somewhat impatient of fortune's tardiness,
and would not miss her favours, as soon as her hand is open."

The Count mused for a moment, and then looked up, laughing. "Well," he
said, "perhaps my mother may call me a rash boy, in trusting to such
new acquaintance; but yet I will confide in you to justify me. There
may be an occasion very soon; and if there be, I will let you have
your part. I, alas! must not go; but, at all events, have everything
ready to set out at a moment's notice; and you may chance to ride far
before many days be over. Now let us speak of other things:" and he
proceeded to ask his visitor numerous questions regarding the English
court--its habits, customs, and the characters of the principal nobles
that distinguished it.

Richard of Woodville answered his inquiries more frankly than he had
done those of Sir Philip de Morgan, and the Count seemed well pleased
with all he heard. Gradually their conversation lost the stiffness of
first acquaintance; and the young Prince, throwing off the restraint
of ceremony, gave way to the candid spirit of youth, spoke of his own
father, and of his dangerous position at the Court of France,
expressed his longing desire to take an active part in the busy deeds
that were doing, touched with some bitterness upon the conduct of the
Dauphin towards his sister, and added, with a flushed cheek, "Would my
father suffer it, I would force him, lance to lance, if not to cast
away his painted paramour, at least to do justice to his neglected
wife. She is more fair and bright than any French harlot; and it must
be a studied purpose to insult her race, that makes him treat her
thus."

"Perhaps not, noble Count," replied Richard of Woodville: "there is
nothing so capricious on this earth as the pampered heart of
greatness. Do we not daily see men of all ranks cast away from them
things of real value to please the moment with some empty trifle? and
the spoilt children of fortune--I mean Princes and Kings--may well be
supposed to do the same. God, when he puts a crown upon their heads,
leaves them to enrich it with jewels, if they will; but, alas! too
often they content themselves with meaner things, and think the crown
enough."

The Prince smiled, with a thoughtful look, and gazed for a moment in
Woodville's face, ere he replied. "You speak not the same language as
Sir Philip de Morgan," he said at length: "his talk is ever of insult
and injury to the House of Burgundy. He can find no excuse for the
House of Valois."

"He speaks as a politician, my Lord Count," replied Woodville: "would
that I might say, I speak as a friend, though a bold one. I know not
what are his views and purposes; but when you mention aught to me, I
must answer frankly, if I answer at all; and in this case I can easily
believe that the Dauphin, in the wild heat of youth, perhaps nurtured
in vice and licentiousness, and, at all events, taught early to think
that his will must have no control, may neglect a sweet lady for a
trumpery leman, without meaning any insult to your noble race. Bad as
such conduct is, it were needless to aggravate it by imaginary
wrongs."

The Count looked down in thought, and then, raising his head with a
warm smile, he answered, "You speak nobly, sir, and you may say you
are my friend; for the man who would temper a Prince's passion,
without any private motive, is well worthy of the character here
written;" and he laid his hand upon Henry's letter, which he had
placed on the table.

"I trust, my Lord Count," replied Woodville, "that you will never have
cause to say, in any case where my allegiance to my own Sovereign is
not concerned, that I do not espouse your real interests, as warmly as
I would oppose any passion, even of your own, which I thought contrary
to them. I am not a courtier, fair sir, and may express myself
somewhat rudely; but I will trust to your own discernment to judge, in
all instances, of the motive rather than the manner."

"I shall remember more of what you have said than you perhaps
imagine," answered the young Count. "You gave me a lesson, my noble
friend--and henceforth I will call you by that name--in regard to
those spoilt children of fortune, as you term them, Princes; and I
will try not to let a high station pamper me into deeds like those
which I myself condemn. But there are many persons here, in the good
town of Ghent, to whom I must make you known, as they will be your
companions for the future; and, before night, such arrangements shall
be made for your lodging and accommodation as will permit of your
taking up your abode in the old castle here. There is but one warning
I will give you," he continued: "Sir Philip de Morgan is a shrewd and
clever man--very zealous in the cause of his King, but somewhat
jealous of all other influence. My father esteems him highly, though
he is not always ready to follow whither he would lead. You had better
be his friend than his enemy; and yet, when there is anything to be
done, communicate with me direct, and not through him."

"I will follow your advice, sir, as far as may be," replied Woodville;
"but I do not think there is any great chance of Sir Philip de Morgan
and myself interfering with each other. I am a soldier; he is a
statesman. I will not meddle with his trade, and I think he is not
likely to envy me mine. He was a good man at arms, I hear, in his
early days; but I fancy he will not easily inclose himself in plate
again."

"Good faith," exclaimed the young Count, laughing, "his cuirass would
need be shaped like a bow, and have as much iron about it as the great
bombard of Oudenarde, which our good folks of Ghent call Mad Meg.[7]
No, no! I do not think that he will ever couch a lance again. But
come, my friend, let us to the hall, where we shall find some of the
nobles of Burgundy and Flanders waiting for us. Then we will ride to
my mother's, where I will make you known to her fair ladies. I have no
further business for the day; but yet I must not be absent from my
post, as every hour I expect tidings which may require a sudden
resolution."


---------------------

[Footnote 7: Dulle Grite.--This great cannon, or bombard, was forged
for the siege of Oudenarde, in 1382, and is nearly twenty feet long,
and about eleven in circumference.]

---------------------


The Prince then led the way into the large hall, through which Richard
of Woodville had passed about half an hour before; and there, was
instantly surrounded by a number of gentlemen, to whom he introduced
his new retainer. Many a noble name, which the young Englishman had
often heard of, was mentioned;--Croys, Van Heydes, St. Paul's and
Royes, Lalains, and Lignes; and from all, as might be expected, under
the circumstances in which he was introduced to them, he received a
courteous reception. It must not be denied, however, that although
chivalrous customs required a friendly welcome to every adventurous
gentleman seeking service at a foreign court, human nature, the same
in all ages, left room for jealousy of any one who might aspire to
share the favour which each desired to monopolize. Thus, though every
one was, as I have said, courteous in demeanour to Richard of
Woodville, it was all cold and formal; and many a whispered
observation on his appearance and manners, on the accent in which he
spoke the language, and on the slight difference of his dress from
that of the Burgundian court, marked a willingness to find fault
wherever it was possible. For his part, he took little notice of these
things, well knowing what he had to expect; and aware that friendship
could not be gained at once, he treated all with perfect good humour
and civility, in the hope that those who were worthy of any farther
consideration would learn in time to esteem him, and to cast away any
needless jealousy.

After passing about half an hour in the hall, the young Count selected
some five or six of the gentlemen present to accompany him on his
visit to his mother, who was lodged in the new palace, called the Cour
des Princes; and, as soon as his horses were brought round, he
descended, with the young Englishman and the rest, into the court of
the castle. He paused for a moment, where, ranged in a line by their
horses' sides, he saw the stout yeomen who had accompanied Richard of
Woodville thither; and as, with an eye not unskilful even then in
judging of thewes and sinews, he marked their light, yet powerful
limbs, with an approving smile, he turned to his new friend, saying,
in a low voice, "Serviceable stuff there, in the day of need, I doubt
not."

"I have every hope they will prove so, my good lord," replied
Woodville; and, giving them a sign, each man sprang at once into the
saddle, except the one who had led forward his young master's horse,
and held the stirrup while he mounted.

As the gay party rode along through the streets of Ghent, the
inconstant people, so often in open rebellion against their
sovereigns, shouted loud acclamations on the path of the young and
graceful Prince, who, in return, bowed low his head, or nodded
familiarly to those he knew in the crowd. The distance was but short;
but the Count took the opportunity of passing through some of the
principal streets of the town, to show the splendour of the greatest
manufacturing city at that time in the world, to the young Englishman;
and frequently he turned and asked his opinion of this or that as they
passed, or pointed out to him the magnificent shops and vast fabrics
which lined their road on either side.

There was certainly much to admire; and Richard of Woodville, not
insensible of the high importance of the arts, praised, with perhaps a
better judgment than most of the haughty nobility of the day would
have displayed, the indications of that high commercial prosperity
which the courtiers affected to hold in contempt. He would not miss
the opportunity, however, of learning something of the kinsman of Ella
Brune; and, after answering one of the observations of the Prince, he
added--"But as I came from my hostel this morning, sir, I perceive
that you have other arts carried to a notable height in the good city
of Ghent, besides that of the weavers. I passed by many a fair stall
of goldsmiths' work, which seemed to me to display several pieces of
fine and curious workmanship."

"Oh! that we have, amongst the best in the world," replied the Count;
"though, to say sooth, when we gave you a number of our weavers, to
teach you Englishmen that art, we borrowed from you in return much of
our skill in working the precious metals. Many of our best goldsmiths,
even now, are either Englishmen, or the descendants of those who first
came over. I had one right dexterous artificer, who used to dwell with
my household, and who is still my servant; but my mother's confessor
suspected him of a leaning towards heresy, and exacted that he should
be sent forth out of the castle. 'Twas but for a jest at our good
father the Pope; but poor Brune made it worse by saying, when
questioned, that as there are three Popes, all living, the confessor
might place it on the shoulders of him he liked. Many a grave man, I
have remarked, will bear anything rather than a jest; and father
Claude, from that moment, would not be satisfied till Nicholas Brune
was gone."

"Poor fellow! And what became of him?" asked Richard of Woodville; "I
have known some of his family in England."

"Oh, he is in a shop at the corner of the market, close to the castle
gate," replied the Prince, "and drives a thriving trade; so that he
has gained by the exchange--I hope, both in pocket and in prudence. I
have not heard any charge against him lately; and I do believe it was
but a silly jest, which none but an Englishman would have ventured."

Richard of Woodville smiled, but made no reply; and in a few minutes
after, they reached the gates of the palace, from which he followed
the Count of Charolois straight to the presence of Margaret of
Bavaria, Duchess of Burgundy, whom they found in an inner chamber,
surrounded by a small party of young dames and elderly knights,
devising, as the term was in those days, upon some motto which had
been laid before them.

Amongst faint traces of what had once been great beauty, the
countenance of the Princess displayed deep lines of thought and
anxiety. She smiled kindly upon the young stranger, and seemed to him
to examine his face with more attention than was ordinary, or,
perhaps, altogether pleasant. She made no remark, however, but spoke
of the Court of England with better information than her son had
displayed, and, somewhat to the surprise of the young Englishman,
evinced some knowledge of his own family and history; for, although
the Court of Burgundy at this time held the place which that of the
Count of Foix had formerly filled, and was the centre of all the news,
and, we may say, of all the gossip in Europe--though its heralds and
its minstrels made it their business, day and night, to collect all
the tales, anecdotes, and rumours of every eminent person throughout
the chivalrous world, Richard of Woodville was not aware of ever
having done anything to merit such sort of notice.

The conversation was soon turned to other subjects, and the Duchess
was in the act of giving her son an account, in a jesting tone, of
some visits which she had made that morning to several of the
religious institutions of the town, when a page entered hastily,
bearing a packet in his hand. Approaching direct to the Count of
Charolois, he presented it on his knee, saying, "From my lord the
Duke. The messenger sought you at the castle, sir, in haste, and then
came hither."

The Prince took it with an eager and anxious look, tore off the silk
and seal without stopping to cut the cord that bound it, and then read
the contents, with a countenance which expressed rather preconceived
apprehension, perhaps, than emotion caused by the intelligence which
the despatch contained. The Duchess of Burgundy remained seated, but
gazed upon her son's face with a look more sad than alarmed; and it
seemed to Richard of Woodville that, internally, she was meditating on
the future course of that fair and noble youth, amidst all the many
perils, cares, and griefs, which surrounded, in those days, the paths
of princes, rather than even on the present dangers which might affect
her husband.

There is a tender timidity in the love of woman for her offspring,
which is generated by none of the other relations of life. The
husband, or the brother, or the father, is her stay and support--he is
there to protect and to defend; and though she may tremble at his
danger, or weep for his misfortune, there may be, and often is,
some shade of selfish feeling in the dread and in the sorrow. Such
is not the case with the child: it is for him she fears, not for
herself,--for him entirely, with emotions unmixed, with devotion
unalloyed. To save any other dear one, she might readily sacrifice
life--from duty, from enthusiasm, from love. But it would still be a
sacrifice, in any other case than that of her child: to save him, it
would be an impulse.

The Duchess gazed upon the young Count's face then with calm but sad
consideration; and perhaps her own memories supplied somewhat too
abundantly the materials for fancy to raise up, without aid, a sad
model of the future. She knew that honour, or goodness, or even
courage, cannot bring security; that innocence cannot escape malice;
that virtue cannot insure peace; that wealth, and power, and a high
name, are but as butts whereon to hang the targets at which the arrows
of the world are aimed; and she feared for her son, seeing, with
prophetic eye, the life of turmoil and contention and peril that lay
before him.

As soon as he had read the letter, the Count suffered his hand to drop
by his side, and gazed upward for a moment or two in thought;--then,
turning gracefully to his mother, he took her hand with a smile, from
which was banished every trace or indication of the thoughts that he
did not choose to communicate to those around, and saying, "Dear lady
mother, we must take counsel," he led her away through a door which
those who were acquainted with the palace knew must conduct them to
the private cabinet of the Duchess.

The party which remained behind was soon separated into different
groups, some of the young nobles who had accompanied the Count taking
advantage of the absence of the persons to whom they owed most
reverence, for the purpose of saying sweet, whispered things to the
fair dames of the Court; some gathering together to inquire of each
other, and conjecture amongst themselves, what might be the nature of
the tidings received; and two or three others, of either kinder or
more pliant dispositions than the rest, seizing the opportunity of
cultivating the friendship of the young Englishman. No great time was
spent on these occupations, however; for before the Duchess and her
son had been gone more than five minutes, the Count returned, and,
looking round the circle, said, "Bad tidings scatter good company, my
lords. I must ride this very night towards Lille. We will not strip
our mother's court here of all her gallant knights and gentlemen,
especially in this wise but somewhat turbulent city of Ghent. You,
therefore, my lords of Croy, Joigny, St. George, Thyan, and Vergier,
with what men are most ready of your trains, I beseech you to give me
your fair company ere four of the clock; and you, Master Richard of
Woodville, my good friend, if you be so minded, hasten your
preparation, and join me at the castle by that hour. You may have
occasion," he continued, in a low tone, taking the young Englishman
by the arm, "to win the golden spurs, of which we have heard you
were disappointed, by no fault of your own, at the battle of
Bramham Moor. We shall be back in Ghent before the week be out--so
you can leave your baggage here, if you so please. Away then, noble
lords!--away!--for we have a long march before us, and, perhaps, a
busy day to-morrow."

All was in a moment the bustle and confusion of departure. The young
Count turned and went back to the cabinet of his mother, as soon as he
had spoken; the ladies of the Duchess rose; and, though some of them
paused for an instant, to speak a word in private to those who were
about to leave them, retired one by one. The old knights, and those
who were to remain in Ghent, walked out to see their friends and
comrades mount; and in less than five minutes the hall was cleared,
and the court-yard nearly vacant.



                            CHAPTER XXIII.

                            THE DEPARTURE.


"We must to horse without delay, Ned," said Richard of Woodville, as
he entered the inn.

"Why, you have been to horse already, master of mine," replied Ned
Dyram, in a somewhat sullen tone.

"And must mount again, ere two hours be over," rejoined Woodville;
"but where and how can I leave the baggage?"

"Ay, who can tell that?" said the other. "See what it is to march
loaded like a carrier's pack-horse, with more things than you can
carry!--You are coming back soon, then, to Ghent?"

"Ere the week be out," answered his lord; "so the Count tells me."

"Pray, sir, never mind what Counts tell you," exclaimed Ned Dyram.
"Mind what your own senses tell you. If you know where you are going,
you can judge as well as a King when you may be back."

"But that I do not know," replied Woodville, somewhat impatiently. "No
more words, Master Dyram; but gather everything together into one
chamber, and I will speak to the host as to its security."

"Little security for a traveller's baggage in a foreign hotel,"
rejoined Ned Dyram, "unless some one stays to take charge of it."

"Then, by my honour, you shall be the man to do so," cried his master,
thinking by leaving him behind when activity and enterprise were
before him, to punish him sufficiently for his saucy tone.

But Ned Dyram seemed not at all disappointed, and replied with an
indifferent air, "I am very willing to stay. I am one who does not
love journeys I know not whither, and expeditions I know not for
what."

"Well, then, you remain," answered his master. "Gather the things
together, as I have said, and you shall be left like a trader's
drudge, to look after the goods. Where is Ella Brune?"

"In her own chamber, I fancy," replied Ned Dyram. "She has shut
herself up there, ever since you were gone, like a nun."

"Call her down hither to the eating-room," was his lord's reply; and
Ned Dyram hastened away.

The fair girl did not make her young protector wait long; and ere he
had finished his directions to his train, to prepare all things for
immediate departure, she was by his side. Taking her hand kindly, he
led her into the common hall of the inn, and told her what he had
discovered regarding her kinsman, adding, that as he was about to set
out in a few hours with the young Count de Charolois, he would at once
accompany her to the house of Nicholas Brune, in order to ascertain if
she could have shelter and protection there.

"I know not, my poor Ella," he said, "whether that dwelling may be one
where you can safely and happily stop long; for this good man has been
somewhat rash in his words, and is under suspicion of leaning to those
heretical notions that are so rife; but I shall be back in a week, or
less; and then you can tell me all that you think of the matter. You
would not wish, I know, to remain with people who would seek to
pervert you from the true Catholic faith."

"And you are sure to return in a week?" asked the poor girl, her
cheek, which had turned somewhat pale before, resuming its warm hue.

"So the Count assures me," answered Woodville; "and I doubt it not,
Ella; but, at all events, I will care for you, be assured, poor
thing."

"You tell me to put all the baggage in one room," said Ned Dyram,
thrusting in his head; "and the men tell me that they are to have each
his harness, and you yours. Two contrary orders, master of mine! Which
is to be obeyed?"

"Your wit is strangely halting just now, Ned," answered his master.
"Put all, but what I have ordered to be taken, into the room, and see
that it be arranged rightly, and quickly too. Now, Ella, cast
something over your head, and come with me to your kinsman's shop.
What wait you for, sir?"

"To know which suit you are pleased to have," replied Ned Dyram; while
Ella passed him to seek the wimple which she had cast off in the
house.

"I have given orders on that score to others," answered his master;
and as the man retired, he murmured to himself, "I shall have to send
that fellow back to the King. He does not please me."

With a rapid step Richard of Woodville led the way, as soon as Ella
joined him, to the wide open space which then, as since, was used as a
market, before the old castle of the Counts of Flanders; and, as none
of the shops or stalls bore their masters' names inscribed, he entered
the first they came to, and inquired which was the house of Nicholas
Brune?

"His house," replied the man to whom he had addressed himself in
French, "is at the other end of the town; but his shop is yonder," and
he pointed with his hand from the door to one of the projecting cases,
covered with a network of iron wire, under which the goldsmiths of
Ghent at that period exposed some of their larger goods for sale. "The
last stall but one," added the trader; and Woodville and his fair
companion sped on towards the spot.

At the unglazed window, behind this booth, stood a man of middle age,
grey headed, but with a fresh and cheerful countenance, who, as soon
as he saw the two approach, demanded, in the common terms of the day,
what they sought in his trade. The next instant, however, his eye
rested upon Ella's face, which wore a faint smile, and he exclaimed in
his native tongue,--"Mesaunter! if there be not my cousin Ella! How
art thou, lass? Welcome to Ghent! What news of the good old man? My
dame will be right glad to see you both again."

"She will never see him more," replied Ella Brune, in a sad tone; "but
of that I will tell you hereafter, kinsman; for I must not stay this
noble gentleman, who has befriended me on the way. What I seek to know
is, if you can give me shelter at your dwelling for a week, till I can
look around me? I will pay for my abiding, Nicholas," she added,
perhaps knowing that her cousin, dealing in gold, had somewhat too
great a fondness for the pure metal.

But Nicholas Brune was in a generous mood; and he replied, "Shelter
shalt thou have, fair Ella, and meat and drink, with right good will,
for a week and a day, without cost or payment. If thou stayest with us
longer, which God send, we will talk about purveyance. In the meantime
I will thank this gentleman for his goodness to you. Why, by my tongs,
I think I saw him riding this morning with my noble lord, the Count."

"You did, most likely," replied Richard of Woodville, "for we passed
by your door: but I have farther to ride to-night, Master Nicholas;
and now, having seen this fair maiden safe under your protection, I
will leave her there. But you had better send up some of your lads
with speed to my hostel for the coffer that we brought, as, perchance,
Ned Dyram would not let you have it, Ella, when I am gone."

Ella Brune smiled, with an effort to keep up the light cheerfulness
which she had lately assumed, and replied, "I think, noble sir, that
Master Dyram is not a carl to refuse me aught I ask him; but yet if my
kinsman can spare a boy, he had better go at once."

"I will soon find one," answered the stout goldsmith; and, turning to
a furnace-room, which lay behind his shop, he called one of his men
forth, and bade him follow the gentleman back.

The parting then came between Ella Brune and Richard of Woodville; and
bitter was the moment to the poor minstrel girl. She had learned a
world of new sensations since she first saw him;--that clinging
attachment, which made her long never to be absent from his side for a
whole day; that tender regard which made her dread to see him depart,
lest evil should befal him by the way; that love which is full of
fears for the beloved that we never feel for ourselves. But no one
could have told that there were any emotions in her bosom but respect
and gratitude, unless the transitory look of deep grief that crossed
her face, as she bent down her head to kiss the hand he gave her,
could have been seen. It was gone as soon as she raised her eyes
again; and her countenance was bright and cheerful, when he said--


             "Again my will although I wende,
                I may not alway dwellen here,
              For everything shall have an ende,
                And frendes are not ay ifere:"


and, skilled in all the lore of old ballads, almost as much as
himself, she answered at once, from that beautiful song of the days of
the Black Prince--


             "For frendship and for giftès goode,
                For mete and drink so grete plentie,
              That lord that raught was on the roode,
                He kepe the comeli companie.

             "On sea or lande where that ye be,
                He governe you withouten greve;
              So good disport ye han made me,
                Again my will, I take my leve."


And, after again kissing his hand, she let him depart, keeping down by
a great effort the tears that struggled to rise up into her eyes. But
she would not for the world have suffered one weak emotion to appear
before her kinsman, whose character she knew right well, and over whom
she proposed at once to assume an influence, which could only be
gained by the display of a firm and superior mind.

"And who may that young lord be, pretty Ella?" asked Nicholas Brune:
"he seems to take great heed of you, dear kinswoman, and is evidently
too high a bird to mate with one of our feather."

"Mate with me!" answered Ella, in a scornful tone. "Oh, no! cousin
mine. He will mate, ere long, with one of the sweetest ladies within
the shores of merry England, who has been most kind to me too. He is a
friend of the King; and when poor old Murdock Brune, my grandsire, and
your uncle, was killed, by a fiend of a courtier trampling him under
his horse's feet, that gentleman, who saw the deed, threw the monster
back from his horse, and afterwards represented my case to the King,
who punished the man-slayer, and sent me fifty half-nobles."

Nicholas Brune was affected in two very opposite ways by Ella's words.
"My uncle killed by a courtier!" he exclaimed at first, with his eyes
flashing fire. "What was his name, maiden--what was his name?"

"Sir Simeon of Roydon," answered Ella Brune; and seeking a scrap of
parchment and a reed pen, the goldsmith wrote down the name, as if to
prevent it from escaping his memory. But the moment after his mind
reverted to another part of Ella's speech. "Fifty half nobles!" he
exclaimed, taking a piece of gold out of a drawer, and looking at it.
"That was a princely gift, indeed, Ella; and you owe the young
gentleman much gratitude for getting it for you."

"I owe him and his fair lady-love more than I can ever repay, for many
an act beside," answered Ella Brune; "but I am resolved, my good
kinsman, that I will discharge part of the debt of gratitude, if not
the whole. I have a plan in my head, cousin--I have a plan, which I
know not whether I will tell you or not."

"Take counsel!--always take counsel!" answered the goldsmith.

"I want none, fair kinsman," replied Ella; "I need neither counsel nor
help. My own wit shall be my counsellor; and as I am rich now, I can
always get aid when I want it."

"Rich!" said Nicholas;--"what, with fifty half-nobles, pretty maid? It
is a heavy sum, truly, but soon spent."

"Were that all," rejoined Ella, "I should not count myself very rich;
but I have more than that, cousin--enough to dower me to as gay a
citizen as any in Ghent. But here seem a number of gallants gathering
round the gate of the Graevensteen. I will back into the far part of
the shop, and we will talk more hereafter."

While this conversation had been going on between Nicholas and Ella
Brune, Richard of Woodville, followed by the goldsmith's man, had
hurried back to the inn, and directed Ned Dyram to deliver over the
coffer belonging to the minstrel girl, which had been brought, not
without some inconvenience, on the back of one of the mules that
carried his own baggage. The young gentleman did not remark that, in
executing this order, Ned Dyram questioned the lad cunningly; and
busy, to say sooth, in paying his score to the host, and making his
final preparations for departure, he forgot for the time his fair
companion of the way, quite satisfied that she was safe and
comfortable under the roof of her kinsman.

Some time before the hour appointed, Woodville was in the court of the
old castle, with his men armed and mounted, in very different guise
from their peaceful habiliments of the morning. He contented himself
with sending in a page to inform the Count that he was ready, and
remained standing by his horse's side; while several of those who had
been chosen by the young Burgundian Prince as his companions, entered
through the old gate, and paused to admire, with open eyes, the
splendid array of the English band, each man armed in plate of the
newest and most approved form, according to his degree, and each
bearing, slung over his shoulder, the green quiver, filled with the
fatal English arrows, which turned so often the tide of battle in the
olden time.

After having waited for about ten minutes, the page whom Woodville had
sent came back, and conducted him into the castle, where, in a suite
of rooms occupying the basement story of one of the towers, he found
the young Count, armed and ready to mount. "Here is your lodging after
our return," said the Prince, rapidly. "I wished to show it to you ere
we set out: these four chambers, and one above. Your horses must be
quartered out. And now, _my friend_, let us to the saddle: the rest
have come, I think." And, speeding through the passages to the
court-yard, he welcomed gracefully the gentlemen assembled, sprang upon
his horse's back, and, followed by his train, rode out over the private
bridge belonging to the castle, bending his steps upon the road to the
French frontier.

The Count himself, and the small body that accompanied him, amounting
in all to about a hundred men, were all armed after the heavy and
cumbersome fashion of those days; and each of the several parties of
which the troop was composed, had with them one or two led horses or
mules, loaded with spare arms and clothing. Considering weight and
incumbrances, they moved forward at a very rapid rate--certainly not
less than seven miles an hour; and pausing nowhere but to give water
to the horses, they had advanced nearly eight leagues on their way ere
nightfall. A few minutes after, through the faint twilight which
remained in the sky, Richard of Woodville perceived some spires and
towers rising at a short distance over the flat country before them;
and, on his asking one of the gentlemen, with whom he had held a good
deal of conversation during their journey, what town it was that they
were approaching, the reply was, "Courtray."

Here the Count of Charolois stopped for about an hour; but, while the
horses and most of his attendants contrived to obtain some very
tolerable food, the young Prince neither ate nor drank; but, with a
mind evidently anxious and disturbed, walked up and down the hall,
occasionally talking to Richard of Woodville, the only one who
exercised the same abstinence, but never mentioning either the end or
object of their journey.

A little after eight o'clock the whole party were in the saddle once
more, and, judging from the direction which they took as they issued
forth from the gates of Courtray, the gentleman who had been the young
Englishman's principal companion on the road informed him that they
must be going to Lille. In about two hours and a half more, that city
was seen by the light of the moon; and, after causing the gates to be
opened, the Count took his way through the streets, but did not direct
his course to the château usually inhabited by the Flemish Counts.
Alighting at the principal hostelry of the place, he turned to the
gentlemen who followed, saying, "Here we must wait for the first news
that to-morrow may bring. Make yourselves at ease, noble lords. I am
tired, and will to bed."

Without farther explanation, he retired at once with his personal
attendants; and his followers proceeded to amuse themselves as best
they might. Richard of Woodville remained with his comrades of the
road for about an hour, and, during that time, much of the rough
asperity of fresh acquaintance was brushed away. He then followed the
example of the young Count, in order to rise refreshed the next
morning.



                            CHAPTER XXIV.

                     THOSE WHO WERE LEFT BEHIND.


The morning after the departure of Richard of Woodville dawned clear
and bright upon the city of Ghent; and the hour of seven found a small
party assembled in a neat wooden house, not many yards within the
Brabant gate, at the cheerful meal of breakfast. With dagger in hand
and hearty good will, Nicholas Brune was hewing away at a huge capon,
which, with a pickled boar's head, formed the staple of the meal,
helping his good buxom dame and Ella Brune to what he considered
choice pieces, and praising the fare with more exuberance than
modesty, considering that he was the lord of the feast.

Madame Brune, as we should call her in the present day, but known in
Ghent by a more homely appellation, which may be translated "Wife
Brune," was a native of the good city; and, by his marriage with her,
Nicholas had not only obtained a considerable sum of money, but also
various advantages, which placed him nearly, if not altogether, on a
footing with the born citizens;--so that, for his fair better half, he
had great respect and devotion, as in duty bound. For Ella his
reverence had been greatly increased, by finding that she was endowed
with a quality very engaging in his opinion--namely, wealth; for the
sum which she possessed, though but a trifle in our eyes, was in those
days no inconsiderable fortune, as I have already taken the liberty of
hinting.

I must not, however, do the worthy goldsmith injustice, and suffer the
reader to believe that, had Ella appeared poor and friendless, as he
had last seen her, Nicholas Brune would have shown her aught but
kindness; for he was a good-hearted and right-minded man; but it is
not attributing too much to the influence of the precious metals in
which he worked, to admit that, certainly, he always took them into
account in computing the degree of respect which he was bound to pay
to others. He would not have done any dishonest or evil act to obtain
a whole Peruvian mine, if such a thing had been within the sphere of
his imagination; but still, the possession of such a mine would have
greatly enhanced, in the eyes of Nicholas Brune, the qualities of any
one who might chance to be its proprietor. The only thing, indeed,
which puzzled him in the present instance was, how his old uncle could
assume the garb of a wandering, and not generally respected race, when
he had by him a sum which set him above all chance of want. At first
he fancied that the old man's love of music--which was to him, who did
not know one note from another, a separate marvel--might have been the
motive: the ruling passion strong in death. But then he thought that
good old Murdock might have made sweet melody just as well in his own
house, as in wandering from court to court, and fair to fair; but
immediately after, remembering the old man's peculiar religious
notions, with which he was well acquainted, he concluded that zeal, in
which he could fully sympathize, must have been the cause of conduct
that seemed so strange. This was an inducement he could understand;
for, though on no other points was he of an enthusiastic and vehement
character, yet he was so in matters of faith; and if he could have
made up his mind to any sort of death, it would have been that of a
martyr; but, to say truth, he could not bring himself to prefer any
way of leaving the world, and thought one as disagreeable as another.
Thus he arrived at the conclusion, that his uncle was quite right in
using any means to conceal both his wealth and his religion.

However, as I have said, he viewed Ella with a very placable
countenance,--invited her to eat and drink; and, as his mind reverted
to what she had said, in regard to paying for her food and lodging, he
treated it with a mixture of jest and argument, which showed her that
he would receive something, though not too much.

"Why, my fair cousin," he said, when she recurred to the subject, "in
this good town of Ghent, all is at so base a price that men live for
nothing, and are expected to sell their goods for nothing, I can tell
you. Now, look at that capon; a fatter one never carried its long legs
about a stack of corn, and yet it cost but six liards. You would pay a
sterling, or may be two, for such a one in London; and here you might
get a priest as fat to sing a mass for the same money. God help the
mummers!"

Ella, however, replied, that she would settle her share with his dame
for so long as she stayed, and was proceeding to let her good-humoured
cousin into some of her views and intentions, foreseeing that she
might need his countenance and assistance, when the outer door opened,
and, after a knock at that of the room in which they sat, Ned Dyram
entered, to inquire after his fair companion of the way. Ella knew not
whether to be pleased or sorry to see him; but surprised she certainly
was; for she had thought he was far away from Ghent with his lord. The
cause of these contrary emotions was simply, that she felt little
pleasure in the man's society, and less in the love that he professed
towards her, and yet, having made up her mind to take advantage of the
passion he experienced or affected, to work out her own purposes, she
saw that his remaining in Ghent might greatly facilitate her views.
But the game she had to play was a delicate one, for she had resolved,
for no object whatsoever, to give encouragement to his suit; but
rather, to leave him to divine her wishes, and promote them if he
would, than ask aught at his hands.

Though carried on by that eager and enthusiastic spirit which lingers
longer in the breast of woman than in that of man: from which, indeed,
everything in life tends to expel it--his own wearing passions, his
habits of indulgence, the hard lessons of experience, and the checks
of repeated disappointment--yet she felt somewhat alarmed at the new
course before her. Perhaps she was not quite sure, though the end
ever in view was high and noble, self-devoted, and generous, that the
means were right. To have followed Richard of Woodville through the
world--to have watched over him as a guardian spirit--to have
sacrificed for his sake, and for his happiness, all, anything, peace,
security, comfort, and even her own fame--I do not say her own
honour--she would not have scrupled; but she might ask herself at that
moment, whether it was right and just to sport with the love of
another--to use it for her purpose--even to suffer it, when she knew
that it could never be returned. And yet woman's eye is very keen; and
that selfishness, which frequently bears such a large share in man's
love, was so apparent to her view in all Dyram's actions, that she
could not but feel less compunction for suffering him to pamper
himself with hopes, than if he had been of a nobler and a higher
nature.

Whatever were the ideas that crossed her mind, and kept her silent for
a moment, they rapidly passed away; and when her cousin, after gazing
at the intruder for an instant, asked who he was and what he wanted,
she answered for him, in a gay tone, affecting the coquettish airs
then very common in a higher class, "Oh! he is a servant of mine,
Nicholas--vowed to the tip of my finger. I do not intend ever to have
him; but if the poor creature is resolved to sigh at my feet, I must
e'en let him. Pray you, give him welcome. What news, servant? How is
it that you have not followed your lord?"

"Because," replied Ned Dyram, "I loved best to stay with my lady."

"Nay," answered Ella Brune, "call me not _your_ lady. You are my
servant, but I am yours not at all, either as lady or servant. You
have not yet merited such grace."

In this light and jesting tone she continued to treat him; and though
perhaps such conduct might have repelled a more sensitive and delicate
lover, with Ned Dyram it but added fuel to the fire. Each day he came
to visit--each day returned with stronger passion in his heart. Jest,
indeed, which was far from natural to her character or to her feelings
at the time, Ella could not always keep up: though great and stern
resolution is often the source of a certain bitter mirth at minor
things. But in every graver moment she spoke to Dyram of Richard of
Woodville and of Mary Markham--for as yet she knew her by no other
name. She did so studiously, and yet so calmly and easily, that not
the slightest suspicion of the real feelings in her heart ever crossed
the mind of her hearer. Of Mary, she told him far more than he had
hitherto gathered from his companions in Woodville's train, and dwelt
long upon her beauty, her gentleness, her kindness. Following closely
her object, she even found means to hint, one day, a regret that she
had not been permitted to follow the young Englishman on his
expedition.

"What would I have given," she said, "to have had your chance of going
with him; and yet you chose to remain behind!"

"Indeed, fair Ella!" he exclaimed; "what made you so anxious to go?"

"Nay," answered the girl, with a mysterious look, "do you expect me to
tell you my secrets, bold man? I would give a chain of gold, however,
to be able to follow your master about the world for just twelve
months, if it could be done without risking my own fair fame. Oh! for
one of those fairy girdles that made the wearer invisible!"

"Methinks you love him, Mistress Ella," replied Ned Dyram, more from
pique than suspicion.

But Ella answered, boldly and at once, though he had touched the wound
somewhat roughly.

"Yes, I do love him well!" she answered; "and I have cause, servant of
mine. But it is not for that. I have a vow; I have a purpose; and
though they must be executed, I know not well how to do so. I ought
not to have left him, even now."

"I dare say he would have taken you, if you had asked him!" replied
the man.

"And what would men have said?" demanded Ella. "What would you have
thought yourself--what might your young lord have thought--though he
is not so foolish as yourself? Most likely you would all have done me
wrong in your fancies. No, no!--if I go, it must be secretly. But
there, get you gone; I will tell you no more."

"Nay, tell on, sweet Ella!" exclaimed Ned Dyram; "and perhaps I may
aid you."

"Get you gone, I say!" replied Ella Brune. "I will tell you no more,
at least for the present. You help me!--Why, were I to trust to you
for help in such a matter as this, should I not put myself entirely in
your power?"

"But I would never misuse it, Ella," answered Ned Dyram.

"No, no!" she exclaimed; "I will never put myself in any man's power,
unless I suffer him to put a ring upon my finger; and then, of course,
I am as much his slave as if he had a ring round my neck. There, leave
me! leave me! You may come again to-morrow, and see if I am in a
better mood. I feel cross to-day."

Ned Dyram retired; but he was destined to return before the day was
over, and to bring her tidings, which, however unpleasant in
themselves, rendered his coming welcome. As he took his way back
towards the inn, just at the corner of the Vendredi market-place, he
met a party of travellers, and heard the English tongue; but he took
little heed, for his thoughts were full of Ella Brune; and he had
passed half across the square, when one of the horsemen rode after
him, and said his lord desired to speak with him. Ned Dyram looked up,
and at once remembered the man's face. For reasons of his own,
however, he suffered not the slightest trace of recognition to appear
on his own countenance. As the horseman spoke in English, he replied
in the same tongue, asking who was his master, and what he wanted?

"He is an English knight," replied the servant; "and what he wants he
will tell you himself."

"But I am not fond of trusting myself in English knights' hands,"
answered Ned Dyram; "they sometimes use one badly: so tell me his
name, or I do not go."

"His name is Sir Simeon of Roydon," replied the man: "a very good
name, isn't it?"

"Oh, yes! I will go to him," replied Ned Dyram. "He used to be about
the Court, when I was a greater man than I am now;" and he walked
straight up to the spot where Sir Simeon of Roydon had halted his
horse, and lowly doffed his bonnet as he approached.

"My knave tells me," said the knight, "that you are a servant of the
King's. Is it so?"

"It was so once, sir," replied Ned Dyram; and then added, looking
round to the servant who had followed him, "So, it was he who told
you: I do not remember him!"

"Perhaps not," answered the knight; "but you came up with him once,
when he was following a young woman in whom I take some interest. Do
you know where she is now?"

"It may be so," replied Ned Dyram; "but I talk not of such things in
the street, good sir."

Simeon of Roydon paused and mused, gazing in the man's face the while.
"Whom do you serve now?" he demanded, at length.

"Why, I am employed by no one, at present," said Ned Dyram; not
exactly telling a falsehood, but implying one.

"Well, then, come to me to-night, some time after sunset," rejoined
Sir Simeon, "and we will speak more. You know the convent of the
Dominicans; I am to lodge there, for the prior is my cousin. Ask for
Sir Simeon of Roydon, or the English knight, and the porter will show
you my lodging."

"At the Dominicans!" cried Ned Dyram; "why, you are not going thither
now--at least, that is not the way."

"Is it not?" exclaimed the knight. "Why this fellow agreed to guide
me;" and he pointed to a man in the dress of a peasant, who
accompanied them.

"Then he is guiding you wrong," replied Ned Dyram. "Go straight up
that street, follow the course of the river to the left, and, when you
have passed the second bridge, turn up to the right, cross the Lys,
and you will see the Dominicans right before you. He was taking you to
the Carmelites."

"Well, don't fail to come," rejoined Sir Simeon of Roydon; and he then
rode on, pouring no very measured abuse upon the head of his guide.

The moment he was gone, Dyram hurried back to Ella Brune; and a long
and eager conversation ensued between them, of a very different tone
and character from any which had taken place before. Ella was obliged
to trust and to confide in him, to tell her reasons for abhorring and
shrinking from the sight of one whom her evil fortune seemed
continually to bring across her path, and to consult with him on the
means to be employed for the purpose of concealing her presence in
Ghent from Roydon's eyes, and of discovering what chance had brought
him to the same city so soon after herself.

Nothing, perhaps, could have given Dyram more satisfaction than this
result. The new relations which it established between Ella and
himself--the opportunities which it promised of serving, assisting
her, and laying her under obligations--the constant excuse which it
afforded for seeing her, and consulting with her on subjects of deep
interest to herself--were all points which afforded him much
gratification. But that was not all: he fancied that he saw the means
of obtaining a power over her--a command as well as an influence.
Vague schemes presented themselves to his mind of entangling her in a
chain that she could not break--of binding her to himself by ties that
she could not shake off--and of using the haughty and vicious knight,
whose character he easily estimated, from the information now given
him by Ella, as a tool for the accomplishment of his own purposes. I
have said that these schemes were vague; and perhaps they might never
have taken any more definite a form, had not other events occurred
which led him to carry them out almost against his own will. Man, in
the midst of circumstances, is like one in a Dædalian labyrinth, where
a thousand paths are ready to confound him, a thousand turnings to
lead him to the same end, and that end disappointment; while but one,
of all the many ways, can reach the issue of success.

That night, soon after sunset, Dyram stood before the gate of the
Dominican monastery, and, ringing the bell, asked the porter for the
lodging of Sir Simeon of Roydon. It was evident to him that orders had
been given for his admission, for, without any inquiry, he was
immediately shown to a small chamber, where he found the knight alone.
A curious contest of the wits then ensued, for the knight was shrewd,
and had determined, if it were within the scope of possibility, to
gain from Ned Dyram all the information he could afford; and Dyram, on
the contrary, had resolved to give none but that which suited his
purpose. Both were keen and cunning men; neither very scrupulous; each
selfish in a high degree, though in a somewhat different line; and
both eager and fiery in pursuit of their objects.

The first question of the knight to Ned Dyram was, what had brought
him to Ghent?

"I came hither," he replied, at once, "with Master Richard of
Woodville."

The knight's brow was covered by a sudden cloud, and he demanded, in a
sharp tone, "Is he here now?--Are you his servant, then?"

"He is not here now," answered the man; "he has gone on with the Count
de Charolois, and did not think fit to take me with him any further."

"Then you are out of employment?" asked the knight.

"For the present, I am," said Ned Dyram; "but I shall soon find as
much as I want. I am never at a loss, sir knight."

"That is lucky for yourself," replied Simeon of Roydon; and then
abruptly added, "Will you take service with me?"

"No!" answered Dyram, bluntly. "I will take service with no one any
more. I was not meant for a varlet. I can do better things than be the
serving-man of any knight or noble."

"What can you do?" demanded Roydon, with a somewhat sarcastic smile.

"What can I not?" exclaimed Dyram. "I can read better than a
priest--write better than a clerk. I can speak languages that would
make your ears tingle, without understanding what you heard. I can
compound all essences and drugs; I can work in gold, silver, or iron;
and I know some secrets that would well nigh raise the dead."

"Indeed!" said the knight. "Then you must be a monk, or a doctor of
Oxford."

"Neither," replied the man; "but I see you disbelieve me. Shall I give
you a proof of what I can do?"

"Yes," answered Sir Simeon; "I should like to see some spice of your
skill."

"In what way shall it be," asked Ned Dyram. "If you will order up some
charcoal, with this little instrument and these pinchers I will make
you a chain to go round your wrist out of a gold noble; or, if there
be a Greek book in the monastery, I will read you a page therefrom,
and expound it, in the presence of whom you will, as a judge; for well
I wot you yourself know nothing about it."

"Nor wish to know," replied the knight; "but I will have neither of
these experiments; the one would be too long, the other too tedious.
You said that you had secrets that would well nigh raise the dead. I
have heard of such things, and I should like to see them tried."

"Would you not be afraid?" asked Ned Dyram.

"No!--Why?" answered Sir Simeon of Roydon. "The dead cannot hurt me."

"Assuredly," said Ned Dyram; "but yet, when we call for those who are
in their graves, we can never surely tell who may come. It is not
always the spirit we wish that answers to our voice; and that man's
heart must be singularly free, who, in the days of fiery youth, has
done no deed towards the silent and the cold, that might make him
shrink to see them rise from their dull bed of earth, and look him in
the face again."

"I am not afraid," said Roydon, after a moment's thought. "Do it if
you can."

"Nay, I said I had secrets that would _well nigh_ raise the dead,"
answered Ned Dyram. "I neither told you that they would, nor that I
was willing."

"Ha! it seems to me you are a boaster, my good friend," exclaimed the
knight, with a sneer. "Can you do anything in this sort, or can you
not?"

"I am no boaster, proud knight," replied Ned Dyram, in an angry tone,
"and I only say what I am able to perform. 'Tis you that make it more
than I ever did say; but if you would know what I can do, I tell you I
can raise the dead for my own eye, though not for yours. That last
great secret I have not yet obtained; but I trust ere long to do so;
and as you are incredulous, like all other ignorant men, I will give
you proof this very night."

"But how shall I know, if I do not see the shapes myself?" demanded
Sir Simeon of Roydon.

"I will tell you what I behold," rejoined the man, "and you must judge
for yourself. Those whom I call up shall all have some reference to
you. Have you a mirror there?"

"Yes," replied the knight; and while he rose to search for one, Dyram
strewed some small round balls upon the table, jet black in colour,
and apparently soft. The knight brought forward one of the small,
round, polished mirrors of the day, which generally formed part of the
travelling apparatus of both sexes in the higher class; and, setting
it upright, Dyram brought each of the little balls for a single
instant to the flame of the lamp, and laid them down before the
mirror. A thin white smoke, of a faint, but delicate odour, instantly
rose up and spread through the room, producing a feeling of languor in
those who breathed the perfume, and giving a ghastly likeness to all
things round; and, kneeling down before the table, Ned Dyram gazed
into the glass, pronouncing several words in a strange tongue,
unintelligible to the knight. The moment after his eyes opened wide,
and seemed almost starting from his head; and the knight exclaimed
eagerly, "What is it you see?"

"I see," replied the man, "a gentleman in a black robe seated at a
table; and he looks very sad. He is young and handsome, too, with
coal-black hair curling round his brow."

"Has he no mark by which I can distinguish him?" asked the knight.

"Yes," answered Dyram; "but it matters not for him, as I see he is
amongst the living. It is the absent who generally come first, and
then the dead. However, here's a scar upon his right cheek, as if from
an old wound."

"Sir Henry Dacre!" murmured Roydon. "Try again, man--try again; and
let it be the dead this time."

Dyram pronounced some more words, apparently in the same language; and
then a smile came upon his countenance. "A sweet and beautiful lady!"
he said. "How proudly she walks, as if earth were not good enough to
bear her! Ha! how is that?"--and, as he spoke, his face assumed a look
of terror: his lip quivered, his eye stared; and the countenance of
Sir Simeon of Roydon turned deadly pale.

"What do you see?" demanded the knight, in a voice scarcely audible.
"What do you see?"

"She walks by a stream!" cried Dyram, in a terrible tone, "and the sun
is just below the sky. Some one meets her, and they talk. He seizes
her by the throat!--she struggles--he holds fast--he casts her into
the river! Hark, how she shrieks! She sinks--she rises--she shrieks
again! Oh God! some one help her!--she is gone!"

All was silent in the room for a minute: and Ned Dyram, wiping his
brow, as if recovering from some great excitement, gazed round him by
the light of the lamp. Simeon of Roydon had sunk into a seat; and his
face was so ashy pale, the lids of his eyes so tightly closed, that
for a moment his companion thought he had fainted. The instant after,
however, he murmured, "Ah! necromancer!" and then starting up,
exclaimed, "What horrible vision is this? Who is it thou hast seen?"

"Nay, I know not," answered Ned Dyram. "How can I tell? They spoke
not;--'twas but a sight. But one thing is certain, that either the man
or the woman is closely allied to you in some way."

"What was he like?" demanded the knight, abruptly.

"It was so dark when he came that I could not see him well," replied
Dyram. "He was a tall, fair man; but that was all I saw. The lady was
more clearly visible; for when she came, there was a soft evening
light in the sky."

"Why, fool, it has been dark these two hours," cried the knight.

"Not in that glass," answered the other. "When she appeared first, it
was a calm sunset, and I saw her well; but it speedily grew dark, and
then I could descry nothing but her form, first struggling with her
murderer, and then with the deep waters."

"Her murderer!" repeated Simeon of Roydon--"her murderer! What was she
like?"

"A vain and haughty beauty, I should say," replied the man; "with dark
hair, and seemingly dark eyes, a proud and curling lip, and----"

"Enough, enough!" answered Simeon of Roydon, with resumed composure.
"I know her by your description, and by the facts; but in the man you
are mistaken--he was a dark man who did the deed, or suspicion belies
him."

"'Twas a fair man, that I saw," rejoined Dyram, in a decided tone; "of
that, at least, I am sure, though the shadows were too deep to let me
view his face distinctly. Shall I look again, to see any more, sir
knight?"

"No, no--it is sufficient!" cried Simeon of Roydon, somewhat sharply.
"I see you have not overstated what you can do. Hearken to me; I will
give you employment in your own way--much or little, as you like. I
would fain hear more of this girl, Ella Brune--of where she is, what
she is doing. I would fain find her--speak with her; but I am
discomposed to-night. This lady that you saw but now was very dear to
me; her sad fate affects me deeply even now. See, how I am shaken by
these memories!" And in truth his hand, which he stretched forth to
lay the mirror flat upon the table, trembled so, that he nearly let it
fall. "But of this girl, Ella Brune," he continued: "have you known
her long?--know you where she now is?"

"Nay, I was but sent to bear her a letter from Richard of Woodville,
and to counsel her from him, to go to York," replied Dyram. "Then, as
to where she is, I cannot say exactly--not to a point, that is to say;
but I can soon learn, if I am well entreated and well paid!"

"That you shall be," rejoined the knight. "Come to me to-morrow early,
and we will talk more. To-night I am unfit. Here is some gold for you
for what you have done. Good night, good night!"



                             CHAPTER XXV.

                           THE ENTERPRISE.


The young Count of Charolois stood in the court-yard of the inn, about
nine o'clock on the morning that followed his arrival in Lille, with a
letter in his hand, and a countenance not altogether well pleased.
There was a gentleman beside him, somewhat advanced in years, bearing
knightly spurs upon his heels, and armed at all points but the head,
the grey hair of which was partly covered with a small velvet cap, and
to him the Prince spoke eagerly; while the various persons who had
attended him from Ghent stood at a respectful distance, waiting his
commands as to their future proceedings. Richard of Woodville had not
remarked the old knight with the band before; and turning to one of
the young nobles with whom he had formed some acquaintance, he asked
who he was.

"Why, do you not know?" exclaimed his companion. "That is Sir Walter,
Lord of Roucq, one of our most renowned leaders. He has just arrived
from Douay, they say; but the Count seems angry with that letter the
courier brought him from Paris. Things are going ill there, I doubt,
and we shall soon have a levy of arms. That Court is full of faitours
and treachers--a crop of bad corn, which wants Burgundian hands to
thin it."

"I trust that you will permit a poor Englishman to put in a sickle,"
said Woodville, laughing; "or at least to have the gleanings of the
field."

"Oh! willingly, willingly!" replied the young lord, with better wit
than might have been expected. "I cannot but think your good
sovereigns in England have but been hesitating till other arms have
begun the harvest, in order to take full gleanings of that poor
land--but see, the Count is looking round to us."

"Hearken, my lords," said the Count. "It is my father's will that I
should remain in Lille, while this noble knight rides on an expedition
of some peril to the side of Tournay. He says the Lord of Roucq has
men enough for what is wanted, and that some of you must abide with me
here; but still I will permit any gentlemen to go who may choose to do
so, provided a certain number stay with me; so make your election."

The young nobles of Burgundy were rarely unwilling to take the field;
but in the present instance, there were two or three motives which
operated to make them in general decide in favour of staying with the
Count of Charolois. In the first place, they knew of no enterprise
that could be achieved on the side of Tournay which offered either
glory or profit. There were a few bands of revolted peasantry and
brigands in that quarter, whom the Count had threatened to suppress;
but such a task was somewhat distasteful to them. In the second place,
they were not insensible to the fact, that by choosing to stay with
the Prince, they offered him an indirect compliment, which was
especially desirable at a moment when he seemed angry at not being
permitted to lead them himself; and, in the third place, the Lord of
Roucq was inferior in rank to most of them, though superior in
military reputation; and he was, moreover, known to be a somewhat
strict disciplinarian, a quality by no means agreeable either to the
French or Burgundian gentlemen.

"I came to serve under you, my lord the Count," said the young Ingram
de Croy; "and if you do not go, and I am permitted to choose, where
you stay I will remain."

The old Lord of Roucq gazed at him coldly, but made no observation;
and the same feeling was found general, till the Count turned with a
smile to Richard of Woodville, asking his choice.

"Why, my noble lord," replied the young Englishman, "if I could serve
you here, I should be willing enough to stay; but, as that is not the
case, I had better serve you elsewhere; and wherever this good knight
goes, doubtless there will be some honour to be gained under his
pennon."

Walter of Roucq still remained silent, but he did not forget the
willingness of the foreign gentleman; and one very young noble of
Burgundy, whose fortune and fame were yet to make, taking courage at
Woodville's words, proposed to go also.

"I have but few men with me, my lord the Count," he said, with the
modesty which was affected, if not felt, by all young men in
chivalrous times; "and, as you know, I have but small experience;
wishing to gain which, I will, by your good leave, serve under the
Lord of Woodville here, who, I think you said, had been already in
several stricken fields, and was a comrade of the noble King of
England."

"King Henry calls him his friend, Monsieur de Lens, in his letter to
me," replied the Count; "and I know he has gained _los_ in several
battles, though I have been told that he was disappointed of his spurs
at Bramham Moor (he did not pronounce the word very accurately);
because such was the trust placed in his discretion, that he was sent
to the late King just before the fight, when no one else could be
trusted."

Again Richard of Woodville marvelled to find his whole history so well
known; but the Count went on immediately to add to the young
Englishman's troop ten of his own men-at-arms. "You, Monsieur de Lens,
brought seven, I think," he said; "so that will be some small
reinforcement to your _menée_, my Lord of Roucq;" and drawing that
gentleman aside, the Prince whispered to him for some moments.

"Willingly, willingly, fair sir," replied the old knight, to whatever
it was he said. "God forbid I should stay any noble gentleman anxious
to do doughty deeds. He shall have the cream of it, and it shall go
hard if I give him not the means to win the spurs. Monsieur de
Woodville, I set out in half an hour. I will but have some bread and a
cup of wine, and then am ready for your good company."

But little preparation was needed, for all had been kept ready to set
out at a moment's notice. Nevertheless, in the little arrangements
which took place ere they departed, there sprang up between Richard of
Woodville and the Lord of Lens what may be called the intimacy of
circumstances. The young Burgundian, though brave, and well practised
in the use of arms, was diffident, from inexperience, of more active
and perilous scenes than the tilt-yard of his father's castle, or the
jousting-lists in the neighbouring town; and he was well satisfied to
place himself under the immediate direction of one who, like Richard
of Woodville, had fought in general engagements, and served in regular
armies. He had also some dread of the Lord of Roucq; but by fusing his
party into the English gentleman's band, he placed another between
himself and the severe old soldier, so that he trusted to escape the
harsh words which their commander was not unaccustomed to use. To
Woodville, then, he applied for information regarding every particular
of his conduct; how he was to place his men, where he was to ride
himself, and a thousand other particulars, making his companion smile
sometimes at the timidity which he had personally never known, from
having been accustomed, even in boyhood, to the troublous times and
continual dangers which followed the usurpation of the throne by the
first of the Lancasterian House.

While they were conversing over these matters, one of the pages of the
Count of Charolois joined them from the inn, and bade the English
gentleman follow him to the Prince. The Count was alone in a small
bed-room up stairs, and the temporary vexation which his countenance
had expressed some time before, had now quite passed away. He met
Richard with a laughing countenance, and, holding out his hand to him,
exclaimed, addressing him by the name he had given him ever since
their first interview, "God speed you, my friend. These rash nobles of
ours have taken themselves in; and though stern old De Roucq does not
wish it mentioned that he is going on such an errand, I would have you
know it, that you may take advantage of opportunity. I love you better
for going with him than staying with me, as you may well judge, when I
tell you that his object is to meet my father, and guard him from
Paris to Lille, if the Duke can effect his escape from the French
court. My father would not have me come, for he is likely to be
pursued, it seems; and he says in his letter, that should mischance
befall him, while I remain in Lille there will still be a Duke of
Burgundy to crush this swarm of Armagnac bees, even should they sting
him to death. However, you must not tell De Roucq that I have given
you such tidings; for if he knew it, he would scold me like a Nieuport
fishwoman, with as little reverence as he would a horse-boy."

"I will be careful, my good lord," replied Richard of Woodville; "but
if such be the case, had we better not have more men with us? Six or
seven and twenty make but a small band against all the chivalry of
France."

"Oh! he has got two hundred iron-handed fellows beyond the gates,"
replied the Prince. "But, hark! there is his voice. Quick! quick! you
must not stay!" and hurrying down into the little square before the
hostel, the young Englishman found the men drawn up, and the Lord of
Roucq, with a page holding his horse, and his foot in the stirrup.

"Ah! you are long, sir," said the old knight, swinging himself slowly
up into the saddle. Nevertheless, Richard of Woodville was on
horseback before him; for, laying his hand upon his charger's
shoulder, he vaulted at once, armed at all points as he was, into the
seat, and in another instant was at the head of his men.

"A boy's trick!" said the old soldier, with a smile. "Never think,
young gentleman, that you can make up for present delay by after
activity: it is a dangerous fancy."

"I know it, my good lord," replied Richard of Woodville; "but I had to
speak with my lord the Count before I departed."

"Well, sir, well," answered the Lord of Roucq; and, wheeling round his
horse, he gazed over the little band, marking especially the fine
military appearance, sturdy limbs, and powerful horses of the English
archers, with evident satisfaction. "Ah!" he said, "good stuff, good
stuff! Have they seen service?"

"Most of them," replied Richard of Woodville.

"They shall see more, I trust, before I have done with them," rejoined
the old knight. "Come, let us go. March!"--and, leading the way
through the streets of Lille, a little in advance of the rest of the
party, while Richard of Woodville and the young Lord of Lens followed
side by side at the head of their men, he soon reached the gates of
the city, without exchanging a word with any one by the way.

"Why, this is strange," said the Lord of Lens to his companion, in a
low voice, as they turned up towards the side of Douay, instead of
taking the road to Tournay. "This is not the march that the Count said
was laid out for us. The old man knows his road, I suppose?"

"No fear of that," replied Richard of Woodville; "our business,
comrade, is to follow, and to ask no questions. Perhaps there is
better luck for us than we expected. Commanders do not always tell
their soldiers what they are leading them to;" and turning his head as
they came forth into the broad open road which extended to Peronne,
through the numerous strong towns at that time comprised in the
Flemish possessions of the House of Burgundy, he gave orders, in
French and English, for his men to form in a different order--nine
abreast. Some little embarrassment was displayed in executing this
man[oe]uvre; and he had to explain and direct several times before it
was performed to his satisfaction.

The Lord of Roucq looked round and watched the whole proceeding, but
made no observation; and, after proceeding for about two miles farther
on the way, Woodville again changed the order of his men, when the old
commander suddenly demanded, "What are you playing such tricks for?"

"For a good reason, sir," replied Richard of Woodville; "I have men
under me who have never been accustomed to act together--my own
people, those of this young lord, and the men-at-arms of my lord the
Count. I know not how soon you may call upon us for service, or what
that service may be; and it is needful they should have some practice,
that they may be alert at their work. I have learnt that, in time of
need, it does not do to lose even a minute in forming line."

"Ay, you Englishmen," replied the old lord, "were always better aware
of that fact than we are. There would never have been a Cressy, if
Frenchmen would have submitted to discipline. They will fight like
devils; but each man has such an opinion of himself, that he will
fight in his own way, forgetting that one well-trained man, who obeys
orders promptly, is better than a hundred who do nothing but what they
like themselves. Ride up and talk with me, young men; I do not see why
we should not be friends together, though those satin jackets at Lille
did not choose to march with old Walter de Roucq." After speaking with
some bitterness of the turbulent spirit and insubordination which
existed in all continental armies, the Lord of Roucq led the
conversation to the military condition of England, and inquired
particularly into the method, not only of training the soldiers of
that country, but of educating the youths throughout the land to the
early use of arms, which he had heard was customary there.

"Ay, there is the difference between you and us," he said, when
Woodville had explained the facts to him;--"you are all soldiers; and
your yeomen, as you call them, are as serviceable as your knights and
gentlemen. With us, who would ever think of taking a boor from the
plough, to make a man-at-arms of him? No one dares to put a steel cap
on his head, unless he has some gentle blood in his veins, though it
be but half a drop, and then he is as conceited of it as if he were
descended from Charlemagne. I have charge to give you, sir, the best
occasions," he continued, still addressing Woodville, "and I will not
fail; for I see you know what you are about, and will do me no
discredit."

"I beseech you, my good lord, to let me share them with him," said
Monsieur de Lens; "I am as eager for renown as any man can be."

"You will share them, of course, as one of his band," replied the old
soldier, "and I doubt not, young gentleman, will do very well. I will
refuse honour to no one who wins it;" and thus conversing, they rode
on as far as Pont a Marq, where they found a large body of men-at-arms
waiting for the old Lord of Roucq.

Richard of Woodville remarked that they were most of them middle-aged
men, with hard and weather-beaten countenances, who had evidently seen
a good deal of service; but he observed also that--probably, from the
unwillingness of the Burgundian nobility to submit to anything like
strict discipline--there seemed to be few persons of distinction in
the corps, and not one knight but the old Lord himself. Without any
pause, the whole party marched on to Douay, the young Englishman
losing no opportunity of exercising his men in such evolutions as the
nature of the ground permitted, and many of the old soldiers of De
Roucq watching his proceedings in silence, but with an attentive and
inquiring eye.

At Douay they halted for an hour and a half, to feed their horses and
to take some refreshment; and then marching on, they did not draw a
rein again till Cambray appeared in sight. Here all the party expected
to remain the night; for Cambray, as the reader well knows, is a good
day's march from Lille, especially for men covered with heavy armour,
and for horses who had to carry not only the weight of their masters
and their masters' harness, but steel manefaires, testières, and
chanfrons of their own. The orders of the commander, however, showed
them, before they entered the gates, that such repose was not to fall
to their lot, for he directed them to seek no hostel, but to quarter
themselves, without dividing, in the market-place, and there to feed
their beasts.

"'Tis a fine evening," he said, "and you shall have plenty of food and
wine; but we must march on, for an hour or two, at night, that we may
be in time to-morrow. If we have more space than enough in the
morning, why the destriers will be all the fresher."

No one ventured to make any reply, though the men-at-arms of the Count
of Charolois felt somewhat weary with their unwonted exertion, and
would fain have persuaded themselves that their beasts could go no
farther that night. Their leader, or vingtner, who held the rank of a
sergeant of the present day, and usually commanded twenty men, went so
far as to hint his opinion on this subject to Richard of Woodville;
but the young Englishman stopped him in an instant, replying coldly,
"If your horses break down we must find you others. We have nothing to
do but to obey."

The young Englishman took care, however, that the chargers of his
whole party should have everything that could refresh them, and he
spared not his own purse to procure for them a different sort of food
from that which was provided for the rest. The crumb of bread soaked
in water was a favourite expedient with the English of that day, as it
is now with the Germans, for restoring the vigour of a wearied horse;
and he made bold to dip the bread in wine, which, on those beasts that
would take it, seemed to produce a very great effect.

After halting for two hours, the march was renewed; and wending slowly
onward, they reached the small town--for it was then a town--of
Gonlieu, having accomplished a distance of nearly eighteen leagues. It
was within half an hour of midnight when they arrived, and the good
people of the place had to be roused from their beds to provide them
with lodgings; but a party of two hundred men-at-arms was not in that
day to be refused anything they might think fit to require; and, in
the different houses and stables of the town, they were all at length
comfortably housed.

Richard of Woodville was not one of those men who require long sleep
to refresh them after any ordinary fatigue; and though, with the care
and attention of an Arab, he spent a full hour in inspecting the
treatment of his horses before he lay down to rest, yet, after a quiet
repose of about four hours and a half, he awoke, and instantly sprang
from the pallet which had been provided for him. He then immediately
roused the young Lord of Lens, who, with five or six others, slept in
the same chamber; but the poor youth gazed wildly round him, at first
seeming to have forgotten where he was; and it required a hint from
his English friend, that the old Lord of Roucq was a man likely to be
up early in the day, ere he could make up his mind to rise.

Woodville and his companion had been in the stable about five minutes,
and were just setting the half-awakened horse-boys to their work, when
a voice was heard at the open door, saying, "This is well!--this is as
it should be!" and, turning round, they saw the figure of the old
knight moving slowly away to the quarters of another party.

In an hour more, they were again upon the road; but their march was
this day less fatiguing; and Woodville remarked that their veteran
leader seemed to expect some intelligence from the country into which
they were advancing; for at each halting place he caused inquiries to
be made for messengers seeking him, and more than once stopped the
peasantry on the road, questioning them strictly, though no one
clearly seemed to understand his drift. He seemed, too, to be somewhat
undecided as to his course, and talked of going on to Orvillers, or at
least to Conchy; but he halted for the night, however, at Tilloloy,
and quartered his men in that village and St. Nicaise.

Woodville and his party were lodged in the latter, where also the old
commander slept; but about three in the morning the young Englishman
was roused by voices speaking, followed by some one knocking at a
neighbouring door; and half-raised upon his arm, he was listening to
ascertain, if possible, what was the cause of this interruption of
their repose, when the door of the room was opened, as far as the body
of one of the English yeomen, who slept across it, would permit.

"Halloo! Master Woodville," said the voice of the Lord of Roucq. "Up,
and to horse--your beasts are not broken down, I trust?"

"They have had time to rest since six last night," replied Woodville,
"and will be found as fresh as ever, for they feed well."

"Like all true Englishmen," answered the old soldier. "Join me below
in a minute; I have something to say to you."

Dressing himself, and giving hasty orders for the horses to be fed and
led out, the young Englishman went down to the ground-floor, where
everything was already in bustle, and perhaps in some confusion. The
Lord of Roucq was surrounded by several of his own officers, and was
giving them orders in the sharp tones of impatience and hurry.

"Ha! Sir Englishman," he exclaimed, as ho saw Woodville, "how long
will it take you to be in the saddle?"

"Half an hour," replied Richard of Woodville.

"And these men want two hours!" cried the old leader. "Well, hark
ye!"--and leading Woodville aside, he whispered, "'Tis as well as it
is: there will be no jealousy. Get your horses out with all speed, and
you shall have the cream of the affair, as I promised the young Count.
You must know I am bound to meet our good Duke at Pont St. Maxence. He
makes his escape from Paris this morning; and as he brings but four
men with him, I fear there may be those who will try to stop him. His
plan is, to go out to hunt with the King in the forest of Hallate, and
there to be met by some one bringing him letters, as if from Flanders,
requiring his hasty return. Then he will decently bid the King adieu,
and ride away. I was in hopes to have had time enough to be near at
hand with my whole force, to give him aid if they pursue or stay him,
though he tells me in the packet just received, to meet him at Pont
St. Maxence. However, it is as well that some should proceed farther;
and if you can get the start of us, you can take the occasion."

"I will not miss it," replied Woodville; "but two things may be
needful--one, a letter to the Duke; and another, some one who knows
the road and the forest."

"What sort of letter?" demanded De Roucq, sharply. "What is the letter
for?"

"To call the Duke back to Flanders," replied Richard of Woodville. "I
will be the person to deliver it, should need be."

"Ay, that were as well," answered the old knight; "though doubtless he
has arranged already for some one to meet him; yet no harm of two. It
shall be written as if others had been sent before. I will call my
clerk, for of writing I know nought."

"In the meanwhile I will see for a guide," answered Woodville; and
going forth, he inquired, amongst the attendants of the young Lord of
Lens and the men-at-arms of the Count of Charolois, for some one who
was acquainted with the forest of Hallate. One of the latter had been
there in former days, and remembered something of the roads, with
which amount of information Richard of Woodville was forced to content
himself, trusting to meet with some peasant on the spot who might
guide him better. He then gave orders for bringing out the horses
without farther delay, and for charging each saddle with two feeds of
corn; and returning to the Lord of Roucq, he found him dictating a
letter, by the light of a lamp, to a man with a shaven crown. Before
it was finished, for the style of the good knight was not fluent, the
jingle of arms and the tramp of horses' feet were heard before the
inn; and looking round, with a well-satisfied smile, the old soldier
exclaimed, "Ha! this is well!--This is the way to win _los_. There,
that will do, Master Peter; fold and seal it. Then for the
superscription, as you know how."

Some five minutes, however, were spent upon heating the wax, tying up
the packet, and writing the address, during which time Richard of
Woodville looked on with no small impatience, fearing that he might be
forestalled by others in executing a task which promised some
distinction. At length all was complete; and, taking the letter
eagerly, he hurried out and sprang into the saddle.

The Lord of Roucq added various cautions and directions, walking by
the young Englishman's horse for some way through the village; but at
length he left him; and putting his troop to a quicker pace, Woodville
rode on towards Pont St. Maxence.



                            CHAPTER XXVI.

                           THE ACHIEVEMENT.


The forest of Hallate--of which the great forest of Chantilly, as it
is called, is in fact but an insignificant remnant,--was, in the days
of Philip of Valois, one of the most magnificent woods at that time in
Europe, giving its name to a whole district, in the midst of which was
situated the fine old palace and abbey of St. Christopher, or St.
Christofle en Hallate, the scene of many of the most important
transactions in French history. I do not find that the palace was much
used in the reign of Charles VI.; and it was very possibly going to
decay, though the abbey attached to it still remained tenanted by its
monks, and the forest still afforded the sport of the chase to the
French monarchs and their court, being filled with wolves, stags,
boars, and even bears (if we may believe the accounts of the time),
which were preserved with more care, from all but princely hands, than
even the subjects of the Sovereign.

The great variety of the ground--the hills, the dales, the fountains,
the cliffs, that the district presented--the rivers that intersected
it, the deep glades and wild savannahs of the forest itself--the
villages, the towns, the chapels, the monasteries, which nestled
themselves, as it were, into its bosom--the profound solitude of some
parts, the busy cultivation of others, the desert-like desolation of
certain spots, and the soft, calm monotony of seemingly interminable
trees which was to be found in different tracts--rendered the forest
of Hallate one of the most interesting and changeful scenes through
which the wandering foot of man could rove. Whether he sought the city
or the hermitage, whether the grave or the gay, whether the sun or the
shade, here he might suit his taste; and the mutations of the sky, in
winter, in summer, in morning, in evening, in sunshine, or in clouds,
added new changes to each individual spot, and varied still farther a
scene which in itself seemed endless in its variety.

About three o'clock on the afternoon of a day in early May, with a
cool wind stirring the air, and some light vapours floating across the
heaven, a gentleman, completely armed except the head, with a lance on
his shoulder, and a page carrying his casque behind him, rode slowly
into one of the wide savannahs, following a peasant with a staff in
his hand, who seemed to be showing him the way. His horse bore evident
signs of having been ridden far that day, without much time for grooms
to do their office in smoothing down his dark brown coat; but
nevertheless, though somewhat rough and dusty, the stout beast seemed
no way tired; and, to judge by his quick and glancing eye, his bending
crest, and the eager rounding of his knee, as if eager to put forth
his speed, one would have supposed that he had rested since his
journey, and tasted his share of corn.

"Ay, there is a piqueur of the hunt," said the gentleman, marking with
a glance a man, clothed in green and brown, who stood holding a brace
of tall dogs at the angle of one of the roads leading into the heart
of the forest. "You have led us right, good fellow. There is your
guerdon."

The peasant took the money; and, as it was somewhat more than had been
promised, made a low rude bow and stumped away; and the gentleman,
turning to his page, beckoned him up.

"Think you, Will, that you have French enough," he asked, in English,
when the boy was close to him, "to tell them where we are, and what to
do?"

"Oh, I will make them understand," replied the page, with all the
confidence of youth. "I picked up a few words in Ghent, and a few more
as we came along; and what tongue wont do, hand and head must."

"Well, give me the casque," said his master, "and you take my barret;"
and receiving the _chapel de fer_ from the boy's hands, he placed it
on his head, raised the visor till it rested against the crest, and
rode slowly on towards the attendant of the chase, who, with all a
sportsman's eagerness, was watching down the avenue attentively.

"Good morning, my friend," said the gentleman in French.

"Good afternoon, sir," answered the piqueur; for the vulgar are always
very careful to be exact in their time of day. He did not look round,
however, and the stranger went on to inquire if the King were not
hunting in the forest.

The man now turned and eyed the questioner. His splendid arms showed
he was a gentleman; and he was alone, so that no treason could be
intended. "Yes, sir," replied the piqueur; "I expect him this way
every minute. Do you want to see him?"

"Why, not exactly," said the stranger. "Some of the people told me the
good Duke of Burgundy was with him; and, as it is he with whom I want
to speak, if their report be true, it may save me a ride to Paris."

"The good Duke is with the King," rejoined the man; "but s'life I know
not whether he will be so long: for fortune alters favour, they say,
and times have changed of late--though it is no business of mine, and
so I say nothing; but the Duke was ever a friend to the Commons, and
to the citizens of Paris more than all."

"Have they had good sport to-day?" demanded Richard of Woodville; for
doubtless the reader has already discovered one of the interlocutors
in this dialogue. "'Tis somewhat late in the year, is it not,
piqueur?"

"Ay that it is, for sundry kinds of game," replied the man; "but there
are some not out, and others just coming in; and we are obliged to
suit ourselves to the poor old King's health. He is free just now from
his black sickness, and would have had a glorious day of it, had not
Achille, the subveneur, who is always wrong, and always knows better
than any one else, mistaken which way the _piste_ lay. But hark! they
are blowing the death: the beast has been killed, and not past this
way, foul fall him. My dogs have not had breath to-day."

"Then they will not come hither, I suppose?" said Richard of
Woodville.

"Oh, yes! 'tis a thousand chances to one they will," answered the man.
"If they force another beast, they must quit that ground, and cross
the road to Senlis; and if they return with what they have got, they
must take the Paris avenue, so that in either case they will come
here."

While he spoke, there was a vast howling of dogs, and blowing of horns
at some distance; and Woodville, trusting to the piqueur's sagacity
for the direction the Court would take, waited patiently till the
sounds accompanying the _curée_ were over, and then gazed down the
avenue. In about ten minutes some horsemen began to appear in the
road; and then a splendid party issued forth from one of the side
alleys, followed by a confused crowd of men, horses, and dogs. They
came forward at an easy pace, and Richard of Woodville inquired of his
companion, which was the Duke of Burgundy.

"What, do you not know him?" said the man, in some surprise. "Well,
keep back, and I will tell you when they are near."

The young Englishman, without reply, reined back his horse for a step
or two, so as to take up a position beyond the projecting corner of
the wood; and, while the piqueur continued gazing down the avenue,
still holding his dogs in the leash, Woodville turned a hasty glance
behind him, to see if he could discover anything of his page. The boy
was nearer than he thought, but was wisely coming round the back of
the savannah, where the turf was soft and somewhat moist, so that his
approach escaped both the eyes and ears of the royal attendant, till,
approaching his master's side, he said something which, though spoken
in a low tone, made the man turn round. At the same moment, however,
the first two horsemen passed out of the road into the open space; and
immediately after, the principal party appeared.

At its head, a step before any of the rest, came a man, seemingly past
the middle age, with grey hair and a noble presence, but with cheeks
channelled and withered, more by sickness and care than years. His eye
was peculiarly clear and fine, and not a trace was to be seen therein
of that fatal malady which devoured more than one-half of his days.
His aspect, indeed, was that of a person of high intellect; and though
his shoulders were somewhat bowed, and his seat upon his horse not
very firm, there were remains of the great beauty of form and dignity
of carriage, which had distinguished the unhappy Charles in earlier
days.

Close behind the King came a youth of eighteen or nineteen years of
age, with a fine, but somewhat fierce and haughty countenance, a cheek
colourless and bare, and a bright but haggard eye; and near him rode a
somewhat younger lad, of a fresher and more healthy complexion, round
whose lip there played ever and anon a gay and wanton smile. Almost on
a line with these, were three or four gentlemen, one far advanced in
years, and one very young; while the personage nearest the spot where
Richard of Woodville sat, seemed still in the lusty prime of manhood,
stout but not fat, broad in the shoulders, long in the limbs, though
not much above the middle height. He was dressed in high boots, and
long striped hose of blue and red, with a close-fitting pourpoint of
blue, and a long mantle, with furred sleeves, hanging down to his
stirrups. On his head he bore a cap of fine cloth, shaped somewhat
like an Indian turban, with a large and splendid ruby in the front,
and a feather drooping over his left ear. His carriage was princely
and frank, his eye clear and steadfast, and about his lip there was a
firm and resolute expression, which well suited the countenance of one
who had acquired the name of John the Bold.

"If that be not the Duke of Burgundy," said Richard of Woodville, to
the piqueur, in a low tone, as the party advanced, "I am much
mistaken."

"Yes, yes," replied the man, nodding his head, "that is he, God bless
him!--and that is the Duke of Aquitaine, the King's son, just before
him. Then there is the Duke of Bavaria on the other side----"

The young Englishman did not wait to hear enumerated the names of
all the personages of the royal train, but, as soon as the King
himself had passed, rode up at once to the Duke of Burgundy, who
turned round and gazed at him with some surprise, while the young pale
Duke of Aquitaine bent his brow, frowning upon him with an inquiring
yet ill-satisfied look.

"My lord the Duke," said Woodville, tendering the letter he had
received from De Roucq, "I bear you this from Flanders."

The Duke took it, and, without checking his horse, but merely throwing
the bridle over his arm, opened the letter, and looked at the
contents. "Ha!" he exclaimed, as he read--"Ha! I thank you, sir;" and,
making a sign for Richard and his page to follow, he spurred on, and
passed the two young Princes to the side of the King.

"This gentleman, Sire," he said, displaying the letter, "brings me
troublous tidings from my poor county of Flanders, which call for my
immediate presence; and, therefore, though unwilling to leave you,
royal sir, at a time when my enemies are strong in your capital and
court, I must even take my leave in haste; but I will return with all
convenient speed."

The King had drawn his bridle, and, turning round, gazed from the Duke
to Richard of Woodville, with a look of hesitation; but, after a
moment's pause, he answered, with a cold and constrained air, "Well,
Duke of Burgundy, if it must be so, go. A fair journey to you,
cousin;" and without farther adieu, he gave a glance to his sons, and
rode on.

The Duke of Burgundy bowed low, and held in his horse while the royal
party passed on, exchanging no very placable looks with the young Duke
of Aquitaine, his son-in-law, and giving a sign to four or five
gentlemen who were following in the rear, but immediately fell out of
the train, and ranged themselves around him.

"Who are you, sir?" demanded the Prince, turning to Woodville, while
the King and his court proceeded slowly towards a distant part of the
savannah, and, by the movements of different gentlemen round the Duke
of Aquitaine, there seemed to be some hurried consultation going on.

"An English gentleman, my lord, attached to the Count, your son,"
replied Woodville, without farther explanation; but seeing that a
number of men completely armed, who followed the principal body of
courtiers, had been beckoned up, he added, "Methinks, fair sir, there
is not much time to lose. Yonder is the way--I am not alone." Without
reply, the Duke gave one quick glance towards the royal party, set
spurs to his horse, and rode quickly along the road to which Woodville
pointed. He had hardly quitted the savannah, and entered the long
broad avenue, however, when the sound of a horse's feet at the full
gallop came behind, and a voice exclaimed, "My lord, my lord the Duke!
the King has some words for your ear."

It was a single cavalier who approached; but the quick ear of Richard
of Woodville caught the sound of other horse following, though the
angle of the wood cut off the view of the royal train.

"Good faith," answered the Duke, turning his head towards the
messenger, but without stopping, "they must be kept for another
moment. My business will have no delay." But, even as he spoke, he
caught sight of a number of men-at-arms following the first, and just
entering the alley in a confused and scattered line.

"But you must, my lord!" exclaimed the gentleman who had just come up.
"I have orders to use force."

The Duke and his attendants laid their hands upon their swords; but
Woodville raised his lance high above his head, and shook it in the
air, shouting, "Ho, there!--Ho! Ride on, my lord, ride on! I will stay
them."

"Now, gold spurs for a good lance!" cried the Duke of Burgundy; "but I
will not let you fight alone, my friend;" and, wheeling his horse, he
formed his little troop across the road.

"Ho, there! Ho!" shouted Woodville again; and instantly he heard a
horn answering from the wood. "The first man is mine, my lord," he
cried, setting his lance in the rest and drawing down his visor. "Fall
back upon our friends behind: you are unarmed!" and, spurring on his
charger at full speed, he passed the King's messenger, (who was only
habited in the garments of the chase,) towards a man-at-arms, who was
coming at full speed some fifty yards in advance of the party sent to
arrest the Duke. His adversary instantly charged his lance likewise;
no explanation was needed; and the two cavaliers met in full shock
between the parties. The spear of the Frenchman struck right on
Woodville's cuirass, and broke it into splinters; but the lance-head
of the young Englishman caught his opponent on the gorget, and,
without wavering in his seat, he bore him back over the croup to the
ground. Then, wheeling rapidly, he galloped back to the Duke's side;
while, at a brisk pace, but in perfect order, his band came up under
the young Lord of Lens; and the English archers, springing to the
ground, put their arrows to the strings and drew the bows to the ear,
waiting for the signal to let fly the unerring shaft.

"Hold! hold!" cried the Duke. "Gallantly done, noble sir!--you have
saved me; but let us not shed blood unnecessarily;" and, casting his
eye over Woodville's troop, he added, "We outnumber them far; they
will never dare attack us."

As he spoke, the men-at-arms of France paused in their advance, and
some of the foremost, dismounting from their horses, raised the
overthrown cavalier from the ground, and were seen unlacing his
casque. At the same time, the gentleman who had first followed the
Duke of Burgundy began quietly retreating towards his friends, and
though the Duke called to him aloud to stop, showed no disposition to
comply.

"Shall I bring him back, noble Duke?" exclaimed the young Lord of
Lens, eager to win some renown.

"Yes, ride after him, young sir," said John the Bold.

"Remember, he is unarmed," cried Richard of Woodville, seeing the
youth couch his lance, and fearing that he might forget, in his
enthusiasm, the usages of war.

"You are of a right chivalrous spirit, sir," said the Duke, turning to
the young Englishman. "Do you know, my Lord of Viefville, who is that
gentleman, whom he unhorsed just now?"

"The Count de Vaudemont, I think," replied the nobleman to whom he
spoke. "I saw him at the head of the men-at-arms in the forest."

"Oh, yes, it is he," rejoined another. "Did you not see the cross
crosslets on his housings?"

"A good knight and stout cavalier as ever couched a lance," observed
the Duke of Burgundy. "The young kestrel has caught the hawk," he
continued, as the Lord of Lens, riding up to him of whom he had been
in pursuit, brought him back apparently unwillingly towards the
Burgundian party.

"Ah! my good Lord of Vertus," exclaimed John the Bold, "you have gone
back with half your message. Fie! never look white, man! We will not
hurt you, though we have strong hands amongst us, as you have just
seen. Offer my humble duty to the King, and tell him that I should at
once have obeyed his royal mandate to return, but that my affairs are
very urgent, and that I knew not how long I might be detained to hear
his royal will."

"And what am I to say to our lord?" asked the Count de Vertus, "for
Monsieur de Vaudemont, his son's bosom friend, overthrown by your
people, and well-nigh killed, I fear?"

"My daughter ought to be his son's bosom friend," replied the Duke,
sharply, "but she is not, it seems; and as to Monsieur de Vaudemont,
perhaps you had better tell the King that he was riding too fast and
had a fall: it will be more to his credit than if you say, that he met
a squire of Burgundy in fair and even course, and was unhorsed like a
clumsy page; and now, my Lord of Vertus, I give you the good time of
day. You said something about force just now; but methinks you will
forget it; and so will I."

Thus saying, the Duke turned his horse and rode away down the avenue;
the English archers sprang upon their steeds again; and Richard of
Woodville, beckoning the young Lord of Lens to halt, caused his whole
troop to file off before him, and then with his companion brought up
the extreme rear. A number of the French men-at-arms followed at a
respectful distance, till the party entered the village of Fleurines,
in the forest; but there, having satisfied themselves that there was
no greater body of the men of Burgundy in the neighbourhood--which
might have rendered the King's journey back to Paris somewhat
dangerous--they halted and retired.

The Duke had turned round to watch their proceedings more than once;
nor did he take any farther notice of Richard of Woodville till the
French party were gone. When they were no longer in sight, however, he
called him to his side, and questioned him regarding himself.

"I do not remember you about my son, fair sir," he said, "and I am not
one to forget men who act as you have done to-day."

"I have been in your territories, my Lord Duke, but a short time,"
replied Richard of Woodville. "As I came seeking occasions of honour
to the most chivalrous court in Europe, and as I was furnished with
letters from my Sovereign to yourself, and to your son, vouching
graciously for my faith, the Count was kindly pleased to give me a
share in anything that was to be done to-day. Happening to be in the
saddle this morning somewhat before the rest of the Lord of Roucq's
troop, and my horses being somewhat fresher, the good old knight sent
me on, thinking you might need aid before you reached the rendezvous
you had given him."

"Ay, he judged right," replied the Duke; "and had I known as much,
when I wrote to him, as I learned yesterday, I would have had him at
the gates of Paris; for my escape at all has been a miracle. They only
put off arresting me or stabbing me in my hotel till the King returned
from this hunting, in order to guard against a rising of the citizens.
Have you this letter from King Henry about you?"

"My page has it in his wallet, noble Duke," replied the young
Englishman. "Will you please to see it?"

John nodded his head, and, calling up the boy, Richard of Woodville
took the letter from him, and placed it in the Prince's hands. The
Duke opened and read it with a smile; then, turning to Woodville, he
said, "You justify the praises of your King, and his request shall be
attended to by me, as in duty bound. Men look to him, sir, with eyes
of expectation, and have a foresight of great deeds to come. His
friendship is dear to me; and every one he is pleased to send shall
have honour at my hands for his sake. Ah! there is Pont St. Maxence,
and the bright Oise. De Roucq is, probably, there by this time."

"I doubt it not, my lord," answered Richard of Woodville; "he could
not be far behind."

"Who is that youth," demanded the Duke, "who seems your second in the
band?"

"One of your own vassals, noble sir," replied the English gentleman,
"full of honour and zeal for your service, who will some day make an
excellent soldier. He is the young Lord of Lens."

"Ah!" said the Duke in a sorrowful tone, "I have bad news for him. His
uncle Charles is a prisoner in Paris, taken out of my very house
before my eyes; and I doubt much they will do him to death. Break it
to him calmly this evening, sir. But see! here are several of good old
De Roucq's party looking out for us. Methinks he would not have heard
bad tidings of his Duke without riding to rescue him."

Thus saying he spurred on, meeting, ere he reached Pont St. Maxence,
one or two small bodies of men-at-arms, who saluted him as he passed,
shouting "Burgundy! Burgundy!" and fell in behind the band of Richard
of Woodville. The single street of the small town was crowded with
people; and before the doors of the two inns which the place then
possessed was seen the company of the Lord of Roucq, with the men
dismounted, feeding their horses, but all armed, and prepared to
spring into the saddle at a moment's notice.

The approach of the Duke was greeted by a loud shout of welcome--not
alone from his own soldiers, but also from the people of the town; for
in the northern and eastern provinces of France, as well as in the
capital, John the Bold was the most popular prince of the time. De
Roucq immediately advanced on foot to hold his stirrup, but his Lord
grasped him by the hand and wrung it hard, saying, "I am safe, you
see, old friend--thanks to your care, and this young gentleman's
conduct."

"Ay, I thought he would do well," replied the old soldier, "for he is
up in the morning early."

"He has done well," said the Duke, dismounting; and, turning to
Woodville, who had sprung from his horse, he said, "You rightly
deserve some honour at my hands. Though we have no spurs ready, I will
dub you now; and we will arm you afterwards at Lille. Kneel down."

Richard of Woodville bent his knee to the ground before the crowd that
had gathered round; and, drawing his sword, the Duke of Burgundy
addressed to him, as usual, a short speech on the duties of chivalry,
concluding with the words--"thus remember, that this honour is not
alone a reward for deeds past, but an encouragement to deeds in
future. It is a bond as well as a distinction, by which you are held
to right the wronged--to defend the oppressed--to govern yourself
discreetly--to serve your Sovereign Lord--and to be the friend and
protector of women, children, and the weak and powerless. Let your
lance be the first in the fight; let your purse be open to the poor
and needy; let your shield be the shelter of the widow and orphan; and
let your sword be ever drawn in the cause of your King, your country
and your religion. In the name of God, St. Michael, and St. George, I
dub you knight. Be loyal, true, and valiant."

At each of the last words he struck him a light stroke with the blade
of his sword upon the neck; and the crowd around, well pleased with
every piece of representation, uttered a loud acclamation as the young
knight rose; and the Duke took him in his arms, and embraced him
warmly. Old De Roucq, and the noblemen who had accompanied John the
Bold from the forest, grasped the young Englishman's hand one by one;
and the Duke, turning to the Lord of Lens, added, with a gracious
smile, "I trust to do the same for you, young sir, ere long. In the
meanwhile, that you may have occasion to win your chivalry, I name you
one of my squires; and, by God's grace, you will not be long without
something to do."

The youth kissed his hand joyfully; and the Duke retired to the inn.
Richard of Woodville paused for a moment to distribute some handfulls
of money amongst the crowd, who were crying "Largesse" around, and
then followed the old Lord of Roucq, to give him information of all
that had taken place in the forest of Hallate, before they proceeded
together to receive the farther orders of the Duke of Burgundy.[8]


---------------------

[Footnote 8: Some authors, and especially Monstrelet, represent the
Duke of Burgundy as effecting his escape from the forest of Villeneuve
St. George; but the reader of course cannot entertain the slightest
doubt that the author of the present veracious history is, like all
other modern historians and critics, better acquainted with the events
of distant times than the poor ignorant people who lived in them.]


---------------------



                            CHAPTER XXVII.

                              A SUMMARY.


All was bustle and activity throughout Flanders and Burgundy after the
return of John the Bold from Paris. Night and day messengers were
crossing the country from one town to another, and every castle in the
land saw gatherings of men-at-arms and archers; while, across the
frontier from France, came multitudes of the discontented vassals of
Charles VI., pouring in to offer either service or council to the
great feudatory, who was now almost in open warfare, if not against
his Sovereign, at least against the faction into whose hands that
Sovereign (once more relapsed into imbecility) had fallen. If,
however, the country in general was agitated, much more so was the
city of Lille, where the Duke prolonged his residence for some weeks.
There, day after day, councils were held in the castle; and day after
day, not only from every part of the Duke's vast territories, but also
from neighbouring states, came crowds of his friends and allies. The
people of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres sent their deputies; the Duke of
Brabant, the Bishop of Liege, the Count of Cleves, appeared in person;
and even the Constable of France, Waleran, Count of St. Paul, took his
seat at the table of the Duke of Burgundy, and refused boldly to give
up his staff to the envoys sent from Paris to demand it. The cloud of
war was evidently gathering thick and black; and foreign princes
looked eagerly on to see how and when the struggle would commence; but
the eyes of both contending parties were turned anxiously to one of
the neighbouring sovereigns, who was destined to take a great part, as
all foresaw, in the domestic feuds of France. To Henry of England both
addressed themselves, and each strove hard not only to propitiate the
monarch, but to gain the good will of the nation. All Englishmen,
either in France or Burgundy, were courted and favoured by those high
in place; and Richard of Woodville was now especially marked out for
honour by both the Duke of Burgundy and the young Count of Charolois.
The latter opened his frank and generous heart towards one, with whose
whole demeanour he had been struck and pleased from the first; and
that intimacy which grows up so rapidly in troublous times, easily
ripened into friendship in the daily intercourse which took place
between them. They were constant companions; and more than once, after
nightfall, Richard was brought by the prince to his father's private
cabinet, where consultations were held between them, not only on
matters of war and military discipline--for which the young English
knight had acquired a high reputation, on the report of the old Lord
of Roucq--but also on subjects connected with the policy of the
English Court, regarding which the Duke strove to gain some better
information from the frank and sincere character of Woodville than he
could obtain elsewhere. But, as we have shown, Richard of Woodville
could be cautious as well as candid; and he replied guardedly to all
open questions, that he knew naught of the views or intentions of his
Sovereign; but that he was well aware Henry of England held in high
esteem and love his princely cousin of Burgundy, and would never be
found wanting, when required, to show him acts of friendship. Farther,
he said, the Duke must apply to good Sir Philip de Morgan, a man well
instructed, he believed, in all the King's purposes.

Both the Count of Charolois and his father smiled at this answer, and
turned a meaning look upon each other.

"You have shown me, Sir Richard," said the Duke, "that you really do
not know the King's mind on such subjects. Sir Philip de Morgan was
his father's most trusted envoy; but is his own envoy not the most
trusted? It is strange, your monarch's conduct in some things. He has
added to his agents at our poor Court, a noble and wise man whom his
father hated."

"Because, my most redoubted lord," replied the young knight, "he
judges differently, and is differently situated from his father. Henry
IV. snatched the crown, as all men know, from a weak and vicious king,
but found that those, who once had been his peers, were not willing to
be his subjects. Though a mighty, wise, and politic prince, his life
was a struggle, in which he might win victories indeed, and subdue
enemies in the field, but he raised up new traitors in his own heart,
new enemies within himself--I mean, my lord, jealousies and
animosities. Our present King comes to the throne by succession; and
his father has left him a crown divested of half its thorns. His
nurture has been different too: never having suffered oppression, he
has nothing to retaliate; never having struggled with foes, he has no
fear of enmity. People say in my land, that one man builds a house and
another dwells in it. So is it with every one who wins a throne; he
has to raise and strengthen the fabric of his power, only to leave the
perfect structure to another."

The Duke leaned his head upon his hand, and thought profoundly.
Ambitious visions, often roused by the very name of Henry IV., were
reproved by the moral of his life; and though John the Bold might not
part with them, he turned his thoughts to other channels, and strove
to learn from Richard of Woodville the character and disposition of
the English sovereign, if not his intentions and designs. On those
points, the young knight was more open and unreserved. He painted the
monarch as he really was, laughed when the Prince spoke of his
youthful wildness, and said, "It was but a masking face, noble Duke,
put on for sport, and, like a mummer's vizard, laid aside the moment
it suited him to resume himself again. Those who judge the King from
such traits as these will find themselves wofully deceived;" and he
went on to paint Henry's energies of mind in terms which--though the
Duke might attribute part of the praise to young enthusiasm--still
left a very altered impression on the hearer's mind in regard to the
real character of the English King.

I have said that these interviews took place more than once, and also
that they generally took place in private; for the Duke did not wish
to excite any jealousy in his Burgundian subjects; but, on more than
one occasion, several of the foreign noblemen who had flocked to the
Court of Lille were present, and between the Count of St. Paul and
Woodville some intimacy speedily sprung up. The Count, irritated by
what he thought injustice, revolved many schemes of daring resistance
to the Court of France. He thought of raising men, and, as the ally of
Burgundy, opposing in arms the Armagnac faction and the Dauphin; he
thought of visiting England, and treating on his own part with Henry
V.; and from the young English knight he strove to gain both
information and assistance. There was in that distinguished nobleman
many qualities which commanded esteem, and Woodville willingly gave
him what advice he could; and yet he tried to dissuade him from being
the first to raise the standard of revolt, pointing out that, although
the state of mind of the King of France, and the absence of all legal
authority in those who ruled, might justify a Prince so nearly allied
to the royal family as the Duke of Burgundy, in struggling for a share
of that power which he saw misused, especially as he was a sovereign
Prince, though feudatory for some of his territories to the crown of
France, yet an inferior person could hardly take arms on his own
account without incurring a charge of treason, which might fall
heavily on his head if the Duke found cause ultimately to abstain from
war.

The Count listened to his reasons, and seemed to ponder upon them; and
though no one loves to be persuaded from the course to which passion
prompts, he was sufficiently experienced to think well of one who
would give such advice, however unpalatable at the moment.

Thus passed nearly a month from the day on which the young Englishman
quitted Ghent; and so changeful and uncertain were the events of the
time, that he would not venture to absent himself from the Court of
Burgundy even for an hour, lest he should miss the opportunity of
winning advancement and renown. In that time, however, he had gained
much. He was no longer a stranger. The ways and habits of the Court
were familiar to him; he was the companion of all, and the friend of
many, who, on his first appearance, had looked upon him with an evil
eye; and many an occurrence, trifling compared with the great
interests that were moving round, but important to himself, had taken
place in the young knight's history. The ceremony of being armed a
knight was duly performed, the Duke fulfilling his promise on the
first occasion, and completing that which had been but begun at Pont
St. Maxence. Yet this very act, gratifying as it was to one eager of
honour, was not without producing some anxiety in the mind of the
young Englishman. Such events were accompanied with much pageantry,
and followed by considerable expense. Hitherto, all his charges had
been borne by himself, and he saw his stock of wealth decreasing far
more rapidly than he had expected. Though apartments had been assigned
to him in the Graevensteen at Ghent, none had been furnished him in
the castle of Lille; and no mention was made of reimbursing him for
anything he had paid.

One day, however, early in June, he was called to the presence of the
Duke, and found him just coming from a conference with the deputies of
the good towns of Flanders. The Prince's face was gay and smiling; and
as he passed along the gallery towards his private apartments, he
exclaimed, turning towards some of his counsellors, "Let no one say I
have not good and generous subjects. Ha! Sir Richard," he continued,
as his eye fell upon the young Englishman, "go to the chamber of my
son--he has something to tell you."

Richard of Woodville hastened to obey; but the Count de Charolois was
not in his apartment when he arrived, and some minutes elapsed before
the young Prince appeared. When he came at length, however, he was
followed by three or four of his men bearing some large bags,
apparently of money, which were laid down upon the table in the
anteroom.

"Get you gone, boys," said the Count, turning to his pages; "and you,
Godfrey, see that all be ready by the hour of noon. Now, my friend,"
he continued, as soon as the room was clear, "I have news for you,
and, I trust, pleasant news too. First, I am for Ghent, and you may
accompany me, if you will."

"Right gladly, my lord the Count," replied Richard of Woodville; "for,
to say truth, almost all my baggage is still there, and I have
scarcely any clothing in which to appear decently at your father's
court. I have other matters, too, that I would fain see to in Ghent."

"Some fair lady, now, I will warrant," replied the Count, laughing; "I
have marked the ruby ring in your basinet; but, faith, we have more
serious matters in hand than either fine clothes or fair ladies. I go
to raise men, sir knight, and you have a commission to do so likewise.
My father would fain have you swell your company to fifty archers,
taught and disciplined by your own men. The more Englishmen you can
get the better, for it seems that you are famous for the bow in your
land; but our worthy citizens of Bruges are not unskilful either."

"Good faith, my lord," replied Richard of Woodville, "I know not well
how to obey the noble Duke's behest; for my riches are but scanty, and
'tis as much as I can do to maintain my band as it is."

"Ha! are you there, my friend?" said the young Prince, with a smile.
"Well, you have borne long and patiently with our poverty; but the
good towns have come to our assistance now, and we will acquit our
debt. One of these bags is for you, and you will find it contains
wherewithal to pay you what you have spent, to reward your archers
according to the rate of England, which is, I believe, six sterlings
a day, for the month past--to pay them for three months to come, and
to raise your band, as I have said, to fifty men. You will find
therein one thousand _fleurs-de-lys_ of gold, or, as we call them,
_franc-à-pieds_, each of which is worth about forty of your
sterlings."

"Then there is much more than is needful, my good lord," replied the
young knight. "One-half of that sum would suffice."

"Exactly," replied the Count; "but no one serves well the House of
Burgundy without guerdon, my good friend. My father knighted you
because you had done well in arms, both in England and in his
presence; but knighthood is too high and sacred a thing to be made a
reward for any personal benefit rendered to a prince. My father would
think that he degraded that high order, if he conferred it even for
saving him from death or captivity, as you were enabled to do. For
that good deed therefore he gives you the rest; and I do trust that
ere long you will have the means of winning more."

Richard of Woodville expressed his thanks, though, with the ordinary
chivalrous affectation of the day, he denied all merit in what he had
done, and made as little of it as possible. There was one difficulty
in regard to increasing his band, however, which he had to explain to
the young Count, and which arose from the promise he had given his own
Sovereign, of holding himself ready to join him at the first summons.
But that was speedily obviated, it being agreed that in case of his
services being demanded by King Henry, he should be at liberty to
retire with the yeomen who then accompanied him, and that the rest of
the troop about to be raised, should, in that case, be placed under
the command of any officer the Duke might appoint.

As was then customary, a clerk was called in, and an indenture drawn
up, specifying the terms on which the young knight was to serve in the
Burgundian force, the number of the men-at-arms and archers which he
was to bring into the field, the pay they were to receive, the arms
and horses with which they were to appear, and even the Burgundian
cloaks, or huques, which they were to wear. A copy was taken and
signed by each party; and fortunate it was for Richard of Woodville,
that the young Count suggested this precaution. The usual clauses
regarding prisoners were added, reserving the persons of kings and
princes of the blood from those whom the young knight might put to
ransom as his lawful captives; but the Count specifically renounced
his right to the third of the winnings of the war, which was not
unusually reserved to the great leader with whom any knight or squire
took service.

All these points being settled, Richard of Woodville hurried back to
the inn, called the Shield of Burgundy, where he and his men were
lodged, and prepared to accompany the Count to Ghent. When he returned
to the castle, with his men mounted and armed, he found the court-yard
full of knights, nobles, and soldiery, all ready to set out at the
appointed hour; and for a time he fancied that the young Prince might
be going to Ghent with a larger force than the good citizens, jealous
of their privileges, would be very willing to receive; but, as soon as
the trumpet sounded, and the whole force marched out over the
drawbridge into the streets of Lille, the seven or eight hundred men,
of which the party consisted, separated into different bands, and each
took its own road. One pursued its way towards Amiens, another towards
Tournay, another towards Cassel, another towards Bethune, another
towards Douay; and the Count and his train, reduced to about a hundred
men, rode on in the direction of Ghent, which city they reached about
four o'clock upon the following day.

Except the Lord of Croy, between whom and the young Englishman a good
deal of intimacy had arisen, the Count de Charolois was accompanied by
no other gentleman of knightly rank but Richard of Woodville; and, as
that high military station placed him who filled it on a rank with
princes, those two gentlemen were the young Count's principal
companions on the road to Ghent, and received from him a fuller
intimation of his father's designs and purposes than had been
communicated to them before they quitted Lille. All seemed smiling on
the fortunes of Richard of Woodville; the path to wealth and renown
was open before him, and he might be pardoned for giving way to all
the bright visions and glowing expectations of youth.



                           CHAPTER XXVIII.

                        THE FRIEND ESTRANGED.


Trumpet and timbrel were sounding in the streets of Ghent; the people,
in holiday costume, were thronging bridge and market-place; the
procession of the trades was once more afoot, with banners displayed;
the clergy were hurrying here and there with cross and staff, and all
the ensigns of the Romish Church. It was a high holiday; for the young
Count had given notice, immediately on his arrival, that he would be
ready an hour before compline, which may be considered about six
o'clock in the evening, to receive the honourable corps of the good
town, in order to return them thanks, in the name of his father, for
the liberal aid they had granted him in a time of need; and flushed
with loyalty to their Prince--well, I wot, a somewhat unusual
occurrence--and with a full sense of their own meritorious sacrifices,
each man pressed eagerly to be one of the deputies who were to wait
upon the Count; and, if that might not be, to go, at least, as far as
the palace gates with those who were to be admitted.

All the nobles who had accompanied the Count from Lille were present
in the great hall of the Cours des Princes, where the reception was to
take place, except, indeed, Richard of Woodville. He, soon after he
had arrived, had begged the Count's excuse for absenting himself from
his train; and, hurrying to the inn where he had left Ned Dyram, with
his horses and baggage, he dismounted from his charger, and cast off
his armour.

To his inquiries for his servant, the host replied, that he had not
been there since the morning, and, indeed, seldom appeared there all
day; but Woodville seemed to pay little attention to this answer; and,
merely washing the dust from his face and neck, set out at a hurried
pace on foot.

He thought that he knew the way to the place which he intended to
visit well, though he had only followed it once; and passing on, he
was soon out of the stream of people that was still flowing on towards
the palace. But he found himself mistaken in regard to his powers of
memory; long tortuous streets, totally deserted for the time, lay
around him; tall houses, principally built of wood, rose on every
side, throwing fantastic shadows across the broad sunshine afforded by
the sinking sun; and when he at length stopped a workman to ask his
way, the man spoke nothing but Flemish, and all that Woodville had
acquired of that tongue was insufficient to make the artisan
comprehend what was meant.

Leaving him, the young knight walked on, guided by what he remembered
of the direction in which the house of Sir John Grey lay; for it is
hardly needful to tell the reader that thither his steps were bent,
when suddenly a cavalcade of some five or six horsemen appeared,
coming at a slow pace up the street; and the tall graceful figure of a
man somewhat past the middle age, but evidently of distinguished rank,
was seen at their head. The garb was changed; the whole look and
demeanour was different; but even before he could see the features,
Richard of Woodville recognised the very man he was seeking, and,
hurrying on to meet him, he advanced to his horse's side.

Sir John Grey gazed on him coldly, however, as if he had never seen
him before; and Woodville felt somewhat surprised and mortified, not
well knowing whether the old knight's memory were really so much
shorter than his own, or whether fortune, with Mary's father, had
possessed the power it has over so many, to change the aspect of the
things around, and blot out the love and gratitude of former days, as
things unworthy of remembrance.

"Do you not know me, Sir John Grey?" he asked: "if so, let me recal to
your good remembrance Richard of Woodville, who brought you tidings
from the King, and also some news of your sweet daughter."

"I know you well, sir," replied the knight; "would I knew less. I hear
you have acquired honour and renown in arms. God give you grace to
merit more. I must ride on, I fear."

His manner was cold and distant, his brow grave and stern; but
Woodville was not one to bear such a change altogether calmly, though,
for his sweet Mary's sake, he laid a strong constraint upon himself.

"I know not, Sir John Grey," he said, "what has produced so strange a
change in one, whom I had thought steadfast and firm: whether calmer
thought and higher fortunes than those in which I first found you, may
have engendered loftier views, or re-awakened slumbering ambition, so
that you regret some words you spoke in the first liberal joy of
renewed prosperity; but----"

"Cease, sir, cease!" exclaimed the old knight. "I should indeed
regret those words, could they be binding in a case like this.
Steadfast and firm I am, and you will find me so; but not loftier
views or re-awakened ambition has made the change, but better
knowledge of a man I trusted on a fair seeming. But these things are
not to be discussed here in the open street, before servants and
horseboys. You know your own heart--you know your own actions; and if
they do not make you shrink from discussing what may be between you
and me--"

"Shrink!" cried Richard of Woodville, vehemently; "Why should I
shrink? shrink from discussing aught that I have done. No, by my
knighthood! not before all the world, varlets or horseboys, princes or
peers: I care not who hears my every action blazoned to the day."

"But I do, sir," replied Sir John Grey; "for the sake of those dear to
us both--for your good uncle's sake, and for my child's."

"You are compassionate, Sir John!" said Woodville, bitterly; but then
he added, "yet, no; you are deceived. I know not how, or by whom, but
there is some error, that is very clear. This I must crave leave to
say, that I am fearless of the judgment of mortal man on aught that I
have done. Sins have we all to God; but I defy the world to say that I
have failed in honour to one man on earth."

"According to that worldly code of honour we once spoke of, perhaps
not," replied Sir John Grey.

"According to what fastidious code you will," said the young knight.
"I stand here willing, Sir John Grey, to have each word or deed sifted
like wheat before a cottage door. I know not your charge, or who it is
that brings it; but I will disprove it, whatever it be, when it is
clearly stated, and will cram his falsehood down his throat whenever I
know his name who makes it."

"Ha, sir! Is it of me you speak?" demanded the knight, somewhat
sharply.

"No, Sir John," replied Woodville, "you are to be the judge; for
you," he added, with a sorrowful smile, "hold the high prize. But it
is of him who has foully calumniated me to you; for that some one has
done so I can clearly see; and I would know the charge and the
accuser--here, now, on this spot--for I am not one to rest under
suspicion, even for an hour."

"You speak boldly, Sir Richard of Woodville," answered Sir John Grey,
"and, doubtless, think that you are right, though I may not; for I am
one who have long lived in solitude, pondering men's deeds, and
weighing them in a nicer balance than the world is wont to use.
However, as I said before, this is no place to discuss such things;
but as it is right and just that each man should have occasion to
defend himself, I will meet you where you will, and when, to tell you
what men lay to your charge. If you can then deny it, and disprove it,
well. I will not speak more here. See! some one seeks your attention."

"Whatever it is that any man on earth accuses me of," replied the
young knight, without attending to Sir John Grey's last words, "I am
ready ever to meet boldly, for my heart is free. As you will not give
me this relief I ask even now, it cannot be too soon. I will either go
with you at once to your own house--"

"No, that must not be," cried the other, hastily.

"Or else," continued Woodville, "I will meet you two hours hence, in
the hostel called the Garland, on the market place. What would you,
knave?" he added, turning suddenly upon some one who had more than
once pulled his sleeve from behind, and beholding Ned Dyram.

"I would speak with you instantly, sir knight," replied Dyram, "on a
matter of life and death."

"Shall it be so, sir?" Richard of Woodville continued, looking again
to Sir John Grey, who repeated, thoughtfully, "In two hours--"

"Sir, will you listen to me?" exclaimed Dyram, in great agitation.
"Indeed you must. There is not a moment to lose. I tell you it will
bear no delay. If you would save her life, you must come at once."

"Her life!" cried Woodville, in great surprise. "Whose life? Of whom
do you speak, man?"

"Of whom? of Ella Brune, to be sure," replied Dyram. "If you stay
talking longer, you leave her to death."

Sir John Grey, with a bitter smile, shook his bridle, and, striking
his heel against his horse's flank, rode on.



                            CHAPTER XXIX.

                            THE BETRAYER.


The writer must retread his steps for a while, to show the events
which had taken place in the city of Ghent since Ned Dyram and Sir
Simeon of Roydon were last seen upon the stage. Whether the reader may
think fit to do so or not must depend upon himself. All that the
author can promise is, that he will be brief, and merely sketch the
conduct of the personages left behind till he brings them up with the
rest.

The arrival of Sir Simeon of Roydon in Ghent spread the same terror
through the heart of poor Ella Brune that the appearance of a hawk
produces in one of the feathered songsters of the bush or clouds. Had
Richard of Woodville been there, she would have felt no apprehension;
for to him she had accustomed herself to look for protection and
support, with that relying confidence, that trust in his power, his
wisdom, and his goodness, which perhaps ought never to be placed in
man, and which is never so placed but by a heart where love is
present. Had she been even in London, her terror would have been less;
for even in those days--although they were dark and barbarous,
although tumult and riot, civil strife and contention, injustice
and wrong would, as we all know, take place in every different
country--the peculiar character of the English people, the homely
sense of justice and of right, which has been their chief
characteristic in all ages, was sufficiently strong to render this
island comparatively a land of security. Though there might be persons
to oppress and injure, yet there were generally found some kind hearts
and generous spirits to support and protect; and in short, there were
more defences for those who needed defence than in any state in
Europe.

Very different, however, was the case in Ghent, especially for a
stranger; and Ella Brune well knew that it was so. She was aware that
deeds could be done there boldly and openly, which in England would
require cunning concealment and artful device, even for a chance of
success; and the consequence was, that she kept herself immured within
the walls of her cousin's dwelling, never venturing forth, even to
breathe the air, but at night, and striving to make her companionship
during the day prove as pleasant as possible to the worthy dame of
Nicholas Brune. To her and to him she communicated the cause of her
apprehensions; and it is but justice to the good folks to say, that
they entered warmly into her feelings, and did all that they could to
mitigate her alarm and give her encouragement. But Ella Brune, in
answer to all assurances of safety, constantly replied, that she
should never feel secure till Richard of Woodville had returned; and,
as it was already beyond the period at which he had promised to be
back, she looked for his appearance every day.

From such subjects sprang many a discussion between her and her good
cousin, as to her future conduct. "Why, you know, my pretty Ella," he
would say, "you could not go wandering after this gay young gentleman,
over all the world; mischief would come of it, be you sure. Men are
not to be trusted, nor pretty maidens either. We have all our weak
moments; and if no harm happen to you, your fair fame would suffer.
Men would call you his leman."

"Ay, that is what I fear," answered Ella Brune, "and that only; for
though most men are not to be trusted, he is. But at all events," she
continued, willing gently to remove all objections to the plan she was
determined to pursue, "he might carry me safely with him to Burgundy,
or to Liege, as he brought me here."

Nicholas Brune shook his head; and Ella said no more at that time; but
gradually she put forward the notion of obviating all difficulties and
objections, by assuming some disguise; and on that her good cousin
pondered, thinking it a more feasible plan than any other, yet seeing
many difficulties.

"As what could you go?" he said. "If at all, it must be in male guise;
and though you would make a pretty boy enough, I doubt me they would
find you out, fair Ella."

"Why not as a novice of the Black Friars?" demanded Madam Brune, who
entered into the maiden's schemes more warmly and enthusiastically
than her prudent husband; "then she would have robes longer than her
own, to cover her little hands and feet, and a hood to shade her head.
There is no punishment either for taking the gown of a novice."

"Then, as this man Dyram must be in the secret," added Ella Brune, "he
could give me help and protection in case of need."

"Ah, ha! are you there?" cried Nicholas, laughing. But Ella shook her
head, no way abashed, replying, "you are mistaken, cousin of mine; but
perhaps you have so much respect for these holy men, the monks, that
you would object to a profane girl, like me, taking their garb upon
her?"

"Out upon them, the lazy drones," cried Nicholas Brune; "you may make
what sport of them you like for that. I would put them all to hard
labour on the dykes, if I had my will;" and he burst forth into a long
vituperation of all the monastic orders, in terms somewhat too gross
for modern ears, not even sparing the Holy Roman Catholic Church; but
ending with another wise shake of the head, and an expression of his
firm belief, that the scheme would not do.

Nevertheless, Ella Brune and his good dame were now perfectly agreed
upon the subject, and worked together zealously, preparing all that
was needful for Ella's disguise, while Ned Dyram brought them daily
information of the proceedings of Sir Simeon of Roydon, and made them
smile to hear how he had deceived the knight into the belief that Ella
was far away from Ghent.

"But if he should discover the truth," said Ella Brune, really anxious
that no one should suffer on her account, "may he not revenge himself
on you, if you give him the opportunity by going every day and working
in gold and silver under his eyes? I beseech you, Master Dyram, run no
risk on my account. I would rather endure insult or injury myself,
than that you should incur danger."

Ned Dyram's heart beat quick, though Ella said no more to him than she
would have said to any one in the same circumstances; but he shook his
head with a triumphant air, replying, "He dare not wag his finger
against me."

He added no more, but turned to the subject of Ella's disguise, having
before this been made acquainted with her project, and being,
moreover, eager to second it; for the prospect of having to leave her
behind in Ghent, if his young master should be called upon some more
distant expedition, had often crossed his mind, producing very
unpleasant sensations. Day after day, however, he visited Simeon of
Roydon, and generally found him alone. Plenty of work was provided for
him; and the payment was prompt and large. Now it was an ornamented
bridle that he had to produce, encrusted all over with fanciful work
of silver--now a testière or a poitral arabesqued with lines of gold.
Sometimes he compounded perfumes or essences, sometimes he illuminated
a book of canticles, which the knight intended to present to the
monastery.

One morning, however, going somewhat earlier than was his wont, he met
the monk, brother Paul, coming down the stairs from the knight's
apartments. The cenobite gave him a grim smile, but merely added his
benedicite and passed on. Ned Dyram paused and mused before he
entered. More than once he had asked himself, what it was that
detained Sir Simeon of Roydon so long in Ghent. The Court was
absent--there was little to see, and less to gain; and the visit of
father Paul gave him fresh matter for reflection. But Ned Dyram was
one who, judging by slight indications, always prepared himself
against probable results; and he now divined that the discovery of the
truth in regard to Ella might not be far off.

He found no change in Simeon of Roydon when he entered, and the
morning passed away as usual; but on the following day the knight
received him with a smile so mixed in its expression that Dyram felt
the hilt of his anelace, and returned him his look with one as
doubtful.

"Shut the door, Master Dyram," said Sir Simeon of Roydon.

The man obeyed without the least hesitation; and the knight proceeded,
"Think you, fellow, that it is wise and worthy to cheat and to
deceive?"

"On proper occasions, and with proper men," replied Ned Dyram, calmly.

"Ah, you do?" cried the knight, with his brow bent; "Then let me tell
you that you will deceive me no more."

"That depends upon circumstances and opportunity," answered Ned Dyram,
with the same imperturbable effrontery as before. "I dare say you will
not give me the means, if you can help it."

"What, if I take from you the opportunity of cheating any one again?"
exclaimed Sir Simeon of Roydon. "What if, as you well deserve, I call
up my men, and bid them dispose of you as they know how?"

"You will not do that," replied Dyram, without a shade of emotion.

"Why should I not?" demanded the knight, fiercely. "What should stop
me? Out of these walls no secrets are likely to pass. Why should I
not, I say?"

"Because," said Dyram, in a cool conversation tone, "there is a
certain bridge in this city, over the river Lys, where you may have
seen, as you pass along, a foolish figure cast in bronze, of two men,
one going to cut off the other's head apparently. They represent a son
who offered to execute his father, when, as old legends say--but I do
not believe them--the sword flew to splinters in the parricide's hand.
However, that has not much to do with the matter, as I see you
perceive; but the fact is, that bridge is called the Bridge of the
Decapitation--not, as many men fancy, on account of those two statues,
but because it is there the citizens of this good town have a pious
custom of putting to death knights and nobles, who have had the
misfortune to become murderers. Now you must not suppose me so slow
witted a man as to come to visit Sir Simeon of Roydon under such
peculiar circumstances, without letting those persons know where I am,
who may inquire after me if I do not reappear. I am always ready for
such cases, noble knight, and to say truth, care little when I go out
of the world, so that I have a companion by the way; and that, in this
instance, at least, I have secured. 'Tis therefore, I say, you will
abandon such vain thoughts."

Sir Simeon of Roydon gazed at him for a moment, with the expression of
a fiend; but suddenly his countenance changed, and he fell into deep
thought.

What strifes there are in that eternal battle-field, the human heart!
What strifes have there not been therein, since the first fell passion
entered into man's breast with the words of the serpent tempter--ay,
with the words of the tempter; for man had fallen before he ate! But
perhaps there is none more frequent, than the struggle between passion
and policy in the bosom of the vehement and wily,--none more terrible
either; for whichever gains the ascendancy, ruins the country round.

There was something in Dyram's demeanour that suited well with the
character of him to whom he spoke. Opposed to him, it first excited
wrath; but yet a voice whispered that such a man might be made most
useful to his purposes, if he could but be won; and as the knight's
anger abated, the question became, how could he be gained? In regard
to Ella Brune, Roydon was aware of much that had taken place, but not
of all; otherwise his course would have been soon decided. By this
time he had learned that Ella had journeyed from England in the train
of Richard of Woodville; he knew that Dyram had stayed behind--not
dismissed by his master as the man had insinuated, but left in charge
of his baggage; and Simeon of Roydon suspected, judging of others by
himself, that he had been left in charge of Ella, also, by her
paramour. But of Dyram's love for her he had no hint, though there
might have arisen in his mind a vague surmise that such attachment did
exist, from the fact which brother Paul had discovered and
communicated, that Dyram visited her once at least each day.

That surmise, however, was enough to guide him some way, and after
pausing and pondering, till silence became unpleasant, he said,
"Perhaps, my good friend, you may be mistaken in what you fancy. No
fears of the results you speak of would stay me, were I so minded.
Those who have good friends dread no foes."

"That is what I say, sir," replied Ned Dyram, in the same tone; "I
have no apprehensions, because I know there are those who will take
care of me, or avenge me."

"You need have none," answered Sir Simeon of Roydon; "but not for that
cause. There are other regards that would restrain me. You have
deceived me, it is true; but you can deceive me no more; and now that
I know your motives and your conduct, I think that our ends may not be
quite so different as you imagine, and as I too imagined at first."

"Indeed!" said Ned Dyram, with a sarcastic smile. "I know not what
your ends are, or what you think you know. Knowledge is a strange
thing, noble knight, and those who fancy they know much, often know
little."

"True, learned master," answered Simeon of Roydon; "but you shall hear
what I know--I wish not to conceal it. Your young lord brought this
fair girl to Ghent; then, being called to serve the Duke of Burgundy,
left his sweet leman--" he paused upon the word, and saw his
companion's visage glow; but Dyram said nothing, and the knight went
on; "--left his sweet leman, with his other baggage, under your
careful guard. She lives now in the house of one Nicholas Brune; and
you see her daily. You love her; and, fancying that I seek her par
amours, would fain hide from me where she is. That you see is vain;
and I will show you, too, that what you suppose of me is false. I care
not for the girl; though perchance I may have thought, in former days,
to trifle with her for an hour. But I will tell you more, Dyram: I
love not your lord, and I believe that you have no great kindness for
him either. Is it not so?"

"All wrong together, puissant knight," replied Ned Dyram, with a
laugh. "She is no leman of Richard of Woodville--Sir Richard, by the
mass! for I have heard to-day he has been made a knight. Nay, more; he
cares no farther for her, than as a boy, who has saved a bird from
hawk or raven, loves to nourish and fondle it."

"That may be," answered Sir Simeon, who had now regained all his
coolness; "you know more than myself of his doings; but of one thing
we are both certain, she loves him; and it would need but his humour
to make her his. Of that I have had proof enough before I crossed the
sea."

Ned Dyram winced; but he replied boldly, "Because she looked coldly
upon you."

"Nay, not so," said the knight; "but on account of signs and tokens
not to be mistaken. However, if as you think he loves her not, my
scheme falls to the ground."

"And what was that, if I may dare to ask?" demanded Ned Dyram.

"I heed not who knows it," replied Roydon, at once. "I seek revenge,
and thought to accomplish it by taking this girl from him. As to what
is to follow, I care not. I never seek to see her more; would wed her
to a hind, or any one. But if you judge rightly, and he loves her not,
I am frustrated in this, and must seek other means."

There was a pause of several minutes; and both thought, or seemed to
think, deeply. With Dyram it was really so; though the more shrewd and
wise of the two, he had suffered the words of Roydon to fall upon the
dangerous weaknesses of his bosom, like a spark into some inflammable
mass; and doubt, suspicion, jealousy, were all in a blaze within. Yet
he had sufficient power over himself to hide his feelings skilfully,
and sought, neither admitting nor denying aught farther, to lead on
the knight to speak of his purposes more plainly. But Simeon of Roydon
saw there was a struggle, and that was sufficient for his purpose
without discovering clearly what it was. He did speak more plainly
then, and by many an artful suggestion, and many a promise, sought to
lure Dyram on to aid in separating Ella Brune from him who could
protect her; concealing carefully that it was on her his thirst of
revenge longed to sate itself, though Richard of Woodville was not
forgotten either; and before they parted, he thought that he had
nearly won him to his wishes. The man did, indeed, hesitate; but the
sparks of better feeling, which I have before said he possessed,
burned up ere their conversation ended; and a doubt which, even in the
midst of passion will rise up in the minds of the cunning and
deceitful, that there may ever be a knavish purpose in others, made
him desire to see his way more clearly.

All that the knight could gain was a promise that he would consider of
his hints; and Dyram left him, with the resolution to draw from Ella
Brune, by any means, a knowledge of her true feelings towards his
master, and to watch every movement of Simeon of Roydon with a care
that should let not the veriest trifle escape.

In the first object he was frustrated, as before; for the cold despair
of Ella's love, its utter unselfishness, its high and lofty nature,
was a veil to her heart which the eyes of one so full of human passion
as himself could by no art penetrate. But, in his second, he was more
successful--with the cunning of a serpent, with the perseverance of a
ferret, he examined, he watched, he pursued his purpose. He had
already wound himself into the confidence of several of the knight's
servants; and he now took every means to gain some hold upon them,
which was not indeed difficult, from the character of the men whom
Roydon had chosen. Neither did he altogether cease his visits to their
master, but, for many days, kept him negotiating as to the price of
his services; and, although he could not exactly divine the end that
the other proposed to himself, he learned enough to show him that
Roydon was sincere, when he assured him that no love for Ella
influenced him in seeking to remove her from the protection of Richard
of Woodville. He then admitted that he loved her himself, in order to
see what the knight would propose; and was not a little surprised to
find how eagerly Roydon grasped at the fact, as a means to his own
ends.

"Then she may be yours at a word," exclaimed Roydon, grasping his
hand as if he had been an equal; "but aid me boldly and skilfully in
what I seek, and she shall be placed entirely in your hands--at your
mercy--to do with her as you will. Then, if you use not your advantage
like a wise and resolute man, it is your own fault."

Dyram mused: the prospect tempted him: the strong passions of his
nature rose up, and urged him on; he could not resist them; but still,
cunning and cautious, he resolved to make his own position sure, and
he replied, "I must first know your motive, noble knight. Men are not
so eager without some object. What is it?"

"Revenge!" replied Sir Simeon of Roydon, vehemently, and he said
truly; but then he added more calmly the next moment, "I am still
unconvinced by what you have said, in regard to the feelings of your
master. Though he may seek a higher lady as his wife--and, indeed, I
know he does--yet he loves this girl, and will seek her par amours as
soon as he has made sufficient way with her; for I persist not in
saying that she is his leman. I have been acquainted with him longer
than you have--since his boyhood; and he cannot hide himself from me
as from others. At all events, that is my affair: I seek revenge, I
tell you; and if I think I shall inflict a heavy blow on him, by
making this girl your paramour, and am mistaken, the error will fall
on myself. You will gain your ends, if I gain not mine."

"My paramour!" said Ned Dyram, thoughtfully.

"Ay--or your wife, if you will," replied the knight; "but, perchance,
she will not, till forced, readily consent to be your wife--you
understand me. I will give you every surety you may demand, that she
shall remain wholly in your power. The course you follow afterwards
must be of your own choosing."

The great tempter himself could not have chosen better words to work
his purpose. It seemed, as if by instinct, that the one base man
addressed himself to all that was weak in the other's nature; and
there is a kind of divination between men of similar characters, which
leads them to foresee, with almost unerring certainty, the effect of
particular inducements upon their fellows.

Gradually, Dyram yielded more and more, resolving firmly all the while
to do nothing, to aid in nothing, without insuring that his own
objects also were attained; but, in the execution of such schemes,
there are always small oversights. Passion so frequently interferes
with prudence--the stream grows so much stronger as we are hurried on,
that it is scarcely possible to stop when we would; and, when once the
knave or the fool puts power into the hands of another, his own course
is as much beyond his direction as that of a charioteer who would
guide wild horses with packthread. How strange it is--perhaps the most
wonderful of all moral phenomena--that any man should trust another in
the commission of a bad action!

The question between Sir Simeon of Roydon and his lowlier companion
speedily reduced itself to how Ella Brune was to be separated from
those who could afford her protection; but the knight soon pointed out
a means, instructed as he was by another, who kept himself in the
dark.

"These people," he said, "with whom she resides, are known to be the
followers of a new sect of heretics, which has sprung up in a distant
part of Germany, and is similar to our own Lollards, only their
apostle is named Huss, instead of Wickliffe. The girl herself is more
than suspected of favouring these false doctrines. Such things are
matters of no moment in your eyes or mine; but the zealous priesthood,
fearful for their shaken power, are resolute to put such blasphemous
notions down; and, if you can but discover when these Brunes go to one
of their assemblies, which are kept profoundly secret, we can ensure
that they shall be arrested. The girl, then left alone, shall be
placed at your disposal. If she will fly with you from Ghent, for fear
of being implicated, well. If not, on your bringing me the
information, you shall have a sufficient sum of money to hire
unscrupulous friends, and carry her whithersoever you will."

"But if she should accompany them to their assembly," said Ned Dyram
at once, "how shall I ensure that she is not thrown into prison,
tortured, perhaps burnt at the stake? No, no--that will never do!"

"All those ifs can be met right easily," answered Simeon of Roydon.
"Ere you give any information, you can exact a promise from brother
Paul--"

"A promise from brother Paul!" exclaimed Dyram, with a mocking laugh;
"what! trust the promise of a monk! You are jesting, sir knight. Was
there ever promise so sacred, sworn at the altar on the body of our
Lord, that they have not found excuse for breaking or means of
evading? Do you judge me a fool, Sir Simeon of Roydon?"

"Not so," rejoined the knight, "the danger did not strike me; but I
see it now. It must be obviated, or I cannot expect you to go along
with me. Yet--let me consider--methinks it were easily guarded
against. Perchance she may not go; but, if she do, you can go with the
party, take what number of men with you you like, and, in the
confusion that must ensue, rescue your fair maiden. The gates, at this
time of night, are not shut till ten; horses may be ready; and there
is a castle, some five leagues off, on the road to Bruges, which I saw
and cheapened three days since, as a place of residence during my
exile. It is vacant now: you can bear her thither. To-morrow you can
speak with father Paul yourself, and make your own terms as to leading
him to the place of their meeting, if you discover it."

"No," replied Ned Dyram, "no! I will not go with him. I will be at
their meeting with men I can trust; so can I be sure that I shall be
near at hand to guard her. I will have it under his hand, too, that I
am authorized by him to go; or, perchance, they may burn me likewise."

"You are too suspicious, my good friend," cried the knight, with a
laugh that rang not quite so merrily as it might have done.

"A monk! a monk!" answered Dyram; "one can never doubt a monk too
much. I will gain the intelligence wanted, sir knight; but I leave you
to prepare this brother Paul to grant me all the security I ask, or he
hears not a word from me; and so, good night!--you shall have news of
me soon:" and, thus saying, he left him.

Simeon of Roydon bent down his head, and thought for several minutes;
but at length he exclaimed, biting his lip, "He will shear down my
revenge to a half--and yet, perhaps, that may be as bitter as death.
To be the minion of a varlet!--'Twill be a fiercer, though a slower
fire, than that of fagot and stake."



                             CHAPTER XXX.

                            THE HUSSITES.


In a large old house, built almost entirely of wood, and situated in
one of the suburbs of Ghent, far removed from all the noise and bustle
of the more frequented parts of that busy town, there was a large old
hall, in former years employed as a place of meeting by the linen
weavers; but which, at the time I speak of, had been long disused for
that purpose, when, the trade becoming more flourishing, its followers
had built themselves a more splendid structure in the heart of the
city.

In this hall were assembled, at a late hour of the day, about fifty
personages of both sexes, and apparently of various grades and
professions. Some were dressed in rather gay habiliments, some in
staid and sober costume, but fine and costly withal, and some in
the garb of the common artizans. The greater number, however, seemed
of a wealthy class; but all appeared to know each other; and the
rich citizen spoke in brotherly fellowship to the poor mechanic, the
well-dressed burgher's wife nodded with friendly looks to the daughter
of her husband's workman. There was one part of the hall, indeed, in
which, for a moment, there was a momentary bustle caused by a
beautiful girl in a mourning garb, of somewhat foreign fashion,
expressing apparently a wish to quit the hall; but it was soon
quieted; and a minute or two after, a tall, elderly man, with white
hair, stood up at the end of a long table, having some books laid upon
it, while the rest of the assembly sat on benches round, at some
little distance, leaving a vacant space in the midst.

After pausing for a minute or two till all was silent, the old man
began to speak, addressing his companions in a fine, mellow tone, and
with a mild, persuasive air.

"My brethren!" he said, in the Flemish tongue, "although I be an
ignorant man and not meet to deal with such high matters, you have
permitted me to expound to you the opinions of wiser men than myself,
and especially of the venerable John Huss, upon things that nearly
touch the salvation of all; and on former occasions, I have shown you
cause to see that very many corruptions and abominations have, by the
wickedness of men, been brought into the Church of Christ. Amongst
other points on which we have all agreed, there are these principal
ones; that the word of God, first preached by the lowly and the humble
to the poor and ignorant, should be laid open to all men, and
committed to their own keeping, not being made to be put under a bed
or hidden in a bushel, but to be a light shining in darkness, and
leading every one in the way of salvation: that the Bible is no more
the book of the priests than the book of the people, but is the
property of all for the security of their souls. Secondly, we have
agreed that there is but one mediator with God the Father, Jesus
Christ our Lord; and that to worship, or invoke, or kneel down to even
good and holy men departed, whom we are wont to call saints, is a
gross idolatry, as well as the worship of statues, figures, or cross
pieces of wood and stone; there being nothing that can save us, but
faith in our Redeemer, and no intercession available but his; for,
surely, it is a folly to suppose that men, who were sinners like
ourselves, have power to help or save others when they have need of
the one atonement for their own salvation. Thirdly, we have held, that
in the mass there is no sacrifice, Christ having entered in once for
all; and that to suppose that any man, by the imposition of a bishop's
hands, receives power to change mere bread and wine into the substance
of our Lord's body and blood, is a fond and foolish imagination
devised by wicked priests for their own purposes. These were the
points touched upon when last we met; and now, before we proceed
farther, let us pray for grace to help us in our examination."

Thus saying, he knelt down at the end of the table--and all the rest,
but one, followed his example, turning, and bending the knee by the
benches around. The Hussite teacher raised his eyes and hands to
heaven, and then, in a loud tone, uttered a somewhat long prayer,
followed by the voices of his little congregation.

It was by this time growing somewhat dusk, for the sun must have been
half way below the horizon; and the windows of the hall were narrow
and far up; but nevertheless, when the kneelers raised themselves
again at the conclusion of the prayer, and turned round towards the
teacher, the eyes of all were fixed on one spot at the end of the
table, and a universal cry burst from every lip. With some it seemed
to be the sound of terror, with others that of rage and surprise; and
well, indeed, might they feel astonished, for there, exactly opposite
the old man who had led them in prayer, stood a figure frightful to
behold, covered with long black shaggy hair, with two large horns upon
its head, a pair of wings on its shoulders, swarthy and ribbed like
those of a bat, and with the face, apparently, of a negro.[9]


---------------------

[Footnote 9: It may be necessary to remark that the incident here
mentioned is not imaginary, but a recorded historical fact, most
disgraceful to those who played the treacherous juggle.]

---------------------


Hardly had they time to recover from their surprise, and to ask
themselves what was the meaning of the apparition they beheld, when
the doors of the hall burst open, and a mixed multitude rushed in,
consisting of monks and priests, and the whole train of varlets and
serving men which, in that day, were attached to monasteries,
chapters, and other religious institutions in great towns. Staves and
swords were plenty amongst them; and, with loud shouts of "Ah, the
heretics! Ah, the blasphemers! Ah, the worshippers of Satan!" they
rushed on the unhappy Hussites, overpowering them by numbers. No
resistance was made; in consternation and alarm, the unhappy seekers
of a purer faith rushed towards the doors, and even the windows, in
the hope of making their escape. But the attempt was vain; one after
another they were caught by their furious enemies, while cries of
triumph and savage satisfaction rose up from different parts of the
hall, as captive after captive was seized and pinioned.

"We have caught you in the fact," cried one.

"You shall blaspheme no more!" shouted another.

"I saw the arch enemy in the midst of them!" added a third.

"They were in the act of worshipping the devil!" said brother Paul.

"To the stake with them, to the stake with them!" roared a barefooted
friar.

"You see what you have done," said Ella Brune to her cousin, who stood
near with his arms tied. "This was very wrong of you, Nicholas."

"It was," answered Nicholas Brune, in a sorrowful tone; "but they can
do no harm to you; for I and others can testify that you came,
unknowing whither, and would have left us, if we had allowed you."

"Will they believe your testimony?" asked Ella, in a tone of deep
despondency.

Before he could answer, brother Paul approached, and gazing at the
fair unhappy girl with a malicious smile, he said, "Ah, ah, fair
maiden, I knew your hypocrisy would be detected at length. I did not
forget having seen you with the heretics at Liege."

Even as he spoke, however, there was a bustle at the door; and to the
surprise of all the hall contained, a number of men completely armed
appeared, having at their head a gentleman in the ordinary riding
dress of the day, with the knightly spurs over his boots, and two long
feathers in his cap.

"Stand there," he said in a loud voice, turning to the men who
followed, "and let no one forth". Then striding through the hall with
the multitude of priests and monks scattering before him, he advanced,
gazing from right to left, till he reached the spot where Ella Brune
was standing. A low murmur of joy burst from the poor girl's lips as
Richard of Woodville approached; and she would fain have held out her
hands towards him, but that her delicate wrists were tied with a hard
cord.

Richard of Woodville gazed from her to father Paul, who stood beside
her, with a stern brow; and then, in a low, but menacing voice,
exclaimed, "Untie that cord, foul monk!"

"I will not," answered Father Paul, sullenly. "Who are you, that you
should interrupt the course of justice, and rescue a blasphemous
heretic from the stake?"

"Thou liest, knave!" answered Richard of Woodville. "She is a better
Catholic than thou art, with all thy hypocritical grimaces;" and
unsheathing his dagger, he cut the cord from Ella's wrist, and set her
free.

"Ah, he draws his knife upon us!" cried father Paul. "Upon him! Cleave
him down. Are there no brave men here?"

A rush was instantly made towards Richard of Woodville; and one man,
with a guisarme, thrust himself right in his way; but laughing loud,
the young knight bared his long, heavy sword, and waved it over his
head, grasping Ella by the hand, and exclaiming in English, "On, my
men! on! open a way, there!"

All but the most resolute of his opponents scattered from his path;
and his stout followers forced their way forward into the hall,
showing some reverence for the priests and monks, it is true; but
striking the varlets and serving-men sundry heavy blows with the
pommels of the swords, not easily to be forgotten. A scene of
indescribable confusion ensued; the darkness of the hall was becoming
every moment more profound--a number of the Hussites made their
escape, and untied others; while still, through the midst of the
crowd, Richard of Woodville slowly advanced towards the door, and
knocking the guisarme out of the hand of one of the men who seemed
most strongly bent on opposing his passage, he brought the point of
his sword to his throat, exclaiming, "Back, or die!"

The sturdy varlet laid his hand upon his dagger; but, at the same
moment, one of the English archers who had reached his side, struck
him on the jaws with his steel glove, and knocked him reeling back
amongst the crowd. Quickening his pace, Richard of Woodville hurried
on, still holding Ella by the hand, and soon reached the top of the
narrow stairs. There pausing at the door, he counted the number of his
men, who had closed in behind him, to see that none were left, and
then hastened down with his fair charge into the street, several other
fugitive Hussites passing him as they fled with all the speed of
terror.

As soon as they had reached the open road, the young Englishman turned
to his followers, and ordered three of them to remain a step or two
behind, to ensure that they were not taken by surprise, and to give
notice if they were pursued. But the party of fanatic priests within
were busy enough, in the wild riotous scene presented by the hall, now
in almost total darkness, and often mistook one man for another in
endeavouring to secure the prisoners that still remained in their
hands. Thus Woodville and his companions were suffered to proceed on
their way unfollowed, through numerous long and narrow streets, till
they reached the inn where they had first alighted on their arrival in
Ghent.

"Quick," cried Richard of Woodville to one of his attendants. "Saddle
four horses and the mule; and you with Peter and Alfred be ready to
set out. You must leave Ghent with all speed, my poor Ella," he
continued, leading her into the inn. "I cannot go with you myself, but
you shall hear from me soon, and the men will take care of you."

"I must go first to my cousin's house," said Ella, eagerly. "'Twill
not take long to run thither and return. There are many things that I
must take with me."

"You can pass round there as you go," replied Woodville; "less time
will be lost, and there is none to spare. Here, host," he cried.
"Host, I say!" But the host was not to be found; and one of the
chamberlains, running up as the young knight and his followers stood
under the arch, demanded, "What's your will, sir?"

"At what time are the city gates closed?" asked Richard of Woodville.
"I have to levy men at Bruges for the service of the Duke, and must
send some of my people on tonight."

"They do not shut till ten, sir, in this time of peace," replied the
chamberlain; "so you have more than an hour; but even after that, an
order from the cyndic will open them."

"That will do," replied Richard of Woodville; "they must set out at
once."

A moment after, the horses were brought round, with the mule which
Ella Brune had ridden from Nieuport, and placing her carefully
thereon, the young knight gave some orders to his men in a low tone,
added some money for their expenses, and with a kindly adieu to Ella,
saw them depart. He then directed two of his archers to superintend
the immediate removal of his baggage to the apartments which had been
assigned him in the Graevensteen, to see to the care of the horses,
and to rejoin him without loss of time. After which, followed by the
rest of his attendants, he took his way back to the old castle of the
counts of Flanders, and sought the chamber in the basement of one of
the towers, which had been pointed out for his own by the Count of
Charolois.

At the door stood a stout man-at-arms, whom Woodville had placed there
that night after his meeting with Sir John Grey; for it may be
necessary to mention here, what we did not pause to notice before,
that the young knight had returned with Dyram to the Graevensteen to
seek for his men, as soon as he heard of the danger which menaced poor
Ella Brune.

Opening the door of the chamber, Richard of Woodville went in, and
found Dyram seated at the table with his head leaning on his arms. He
moved but slightly when his master entered, and Woodville, casting
himself into a seat opposite, gazed at him for a moment with a stern
and angry brow.

"Lookup, sir," he said at length; "in your terror and haste to remedy
the evil you have caused, you have spoken too much not to speak more.
You once boasted of telling truth. Tell it now, as the only means of
escaping punishment."

"Is she saved?" asked Ned Dyram, raising his head, and gazing in his
young master's face with a look of eager anxiety. "Is she saved? I
care for nought else."

"Yes, she is saved," replied Richard of Woodville; "but with peril to
her, and peril to me. I found her with her hands tied; and what may be
the result, no one yet can tell. And so you love her!" he continued,
gazing upon him thoughtfully. "A glorious means, indeed, to prove your
love!"

"I have been deceived," said Dyram; "the villain cheated me. He
promised that she should be mine; and when I told him of the day and
hour when the assembly was to take place, thinking that I kept the
power in my own hands, so long as I did not mention where they were to
meet, they laughed me to scorn, and told me they wanted to know no
more."

"They!" exclaimed Richard of Woodville. "They! whom do you mean?"

"Brother Paul," replied Dyram, hesitating--"brother Paul and--Well, it
matters not, if you learn not from me, you will learn from others; so
I will say it first myself--brother Paul and Simeon of Roydon."

"Simeon of Roydon!" exclaimed the young knight, starting up, and
lifting his hand as if to strike him; "and have you been villain and
traitor enough to betray this poor girl into the hands of that base
and pitiful knave? By the Lord that lives, I have a mind to have you
scourged through the streets of Ghent, as a warning to all treacherous
varlets."

Dyram bent his brows upon him with a bold scowl, answering in a low
muttering tone, "You dare not!"

The words had scarcely quitted his lips, when, with a blow on the side
of the head, Richard of Woodville dashed him to the ground. The man
started up, and drew his dagger half out of the sheath; but his
master, who had recovered from his anger the instant the blow was
given, so far at least as to be sorry that it had been struck at all,
looked at him with a smile of cold contempt, and raising his voice,
exclaimed, "Without, there!"

The archer instantly appeared at the door; and, pointing to Dyram, the
young knight said, "Take away that knave, and put him forth from the
castle, and from the band. He is not one of my own people, and unfit
to be with them. He is a base and dishonest traitor, who betrays his
trust. Away with him!"

Dyram glared upon him for a moment without moving, then thrust his
dagger back into the sheath, raised his hand with the right finger
extended, and shook it at Richard of Woodville, with his teeth hard
set together, and a significant frown upon his brow. Then turning to
the door, he passed the archer, saying, in a menacing tone, "Touch me
not," and quitted the room.



                            CHAPTER XXXI.

                             THE RESULT.


"Perhaps I have been too harsh," thought Richard of Woodville, when
the man Dyram was gone, and he sat alone in his chamber. "Surely that
knave's conscience must be punishment enough. What must it be to think
that we have betrayed a friend, violated a trust, injured one who has
confided in us! Can Hell itself afford an infliction more terrible
than such a memory? Methinks it were torment enough for the worst of
men, to render remembrance eternal!"

And he was right--surely he was right. In this world we weave the
fabric of our punishment with our sins.

As the young knight proceeded to reflect, however, his mind turned
from Dyram to Sir Simeon of Roydon; and suddenly a light broke in upon
him.--"It must be so!" he cried: "'tis this man has poisoned the mind
of Sir John Grey against me. But that will be easily remedied."

The next instant he suddenly recollected the half-made appointment
with Mary's father, which in all the bustle and excitement of the
scenes he had lately gone through, had escaped his memory till
that moment; and he started up, exclaiming, "This is unfortunate,
indeed!--There may yet be time--I will go!" But as he turned towards
the door, the clock of the castle struck. Nearly an hour had elapsed
since the appointed period, for the stealthy foot of Time ever runs
fastest when we could wish his stay. Nevertheless, Richard of
Woodville went forth, received the password of the guard, and hurried
to the inn to inquire whether or not the old knight had come during
his absence. He was in some hope that such might not be the case; for
Mary's father had ridden away abruptly without saying whether he
accepted the appointment or not. But when Woodville reached the hostel
he found, to his mortification, that Sir John Grey had not only been
there, but had waited some time for his return, and had gone away, the
host informed him, with a gloomy brow.

Sad and desponding, with all the bright hopes which had accompanied
him into Ghent darkened, he strode back to the Graevensteen, and
passed through the court to his apartments, remarking that there
seemed a number of persons waiting, and a good deal of confusion,
unusual at so late an hour; but his thoughts were busy with his own
situation; and he walked on in the darkness to his chamber, without
inquiry. There, leaning his head upon his hand beneath the light of
the lamp, he gave himself up to bitter reflections, thinking how sad
it is, that a man's happiness, his name, fame, purposes, abilities,
virtues, should be so completely in the power of circumstances--the
stones with which fate builds up the prison walls of many a lofty
spirit.

While he was thus meditating, there was a knock at his chamber door,
and bidding the applicant come in, the next moment he saw the young
Lord of Lens enter. The youth's countenance betokened haste and
agitation, and, closing the door carefully, he said, "The Count has
just whispered me, to come and warn you, good knight, not to quit your
apartments till he comes to you."

"How so?" asked Woodville, partly divining the cause of this
injunction. "Do you mean, my young friend, that I am a prisoner?"

"Oh no!" answered the other, "'tis for your own safety. There are
enemies of yours in the castle; and perhaps if they were to see you,
they might seize you even here. You know not the daring of these men
of Ghent, and how, when passion moves them, they set at nought all
authority. They would arrest you in the very presence of the Prince,
if they thought fit; and they are even now pouring their complaints
into the Count's ear. Luckily, however, they know not that you are in
the Graevensteen; and, with a show of loyal obedience, of which they
have very little in their hearts, they are affecting to ask
permission, as you are one of his knights, to have you sought for in
the town to-morrow and apprehended, for something rather rash that you
have done this evening."

"I have done nothing rash, my friend," replied Woodville, gravely,
"but only what I would do again to-morrow, if the case required
it--only, in fact, what my knightly oath required: I have but rescued
a defenceless woman from wrong and oppression. I can justify myself
easily to the Count or any other gentleman of honour."

"Well, wait till he comes," answered the young nobleman; "for though
you might be able to set yourself right at last, yet you would ill
brook imprisonment, I wot; and perhaps even the Count might not be
able to save you from these people's hands, if you were found just
now. They are a furious and unruly set; and the priests have got
syndics and magistrates of all kinds on their side."

"I have heard tales of their doings," replied Richard of Woodville;
"but I cannot bring myself to fear them. However, I will, of course,
obey the Count's commands, and wait here till he is pleased to send
for me."

"I will bear you company," replied the young Lord of Lens, "for I love
not the presence of these foul citizens; and heaven knows how long
they may stay with their orations, as lengthy and as flat as one of
their own pieces of cloth."

To say the truth, Richard of Woodville would have preferred to be
alone; but he did not choose to mortify the good-humoured young lord
by suffering him to perceive that his presence was a restraint; and,
sometimes in grave conversation, sometimes in light, they passed
nearly an hour; till at length numerous sounds from the court-yard
gave notice that the deputation of the good citizens was taking its
departure. For half an hour more they waited, in the expectation of
soon receiving some messenger from the Count de Charolois, but none
appeared; and at length Richard of Woodville besought his companion to
seek some intelligence. The young nobleman readily undertook the task,
and opened the door to go out; but, on the very threshold, was met by
the Count himself, followed by the Lord of Croy. The expression of the
Prince's countenance was grave and troubled; and, seating himself, he
made a sign to the rest to do so likewise; and then, looking at
Woodville with an anxious and careful smile, he said, "This is an
awkward business, my friend."

"If told truly, it is a very simple one, my lord the Count," replied
the knight.

"It may be simple, yet have very dangerous results," said the young
Prince, gravely. "These men of Ghent are not to be meddled with
lightly; and, though their insolence must some day be checked--and
shall--yet this is not the time to do it. It seems, by their account,
that you brought a pretty light-o'-love maiden with you hither from
England; and that she having been found, with a number of other
heretics, worshipping, they assert, the devil himself, who was seen in
proper form amongst them" (Woodville smiled); "you delivered her with
the strong hand from the people sent to seize the whole party. What
makes you laugh, Sir Richard?"

"Because, my good lord," replied the young knight, "you, here in
Flanders, do not seem to understand monks and priests so well as we do
in England. They have made a fair story of it, which is almost all
false. I am as good a catholic as any of them, though I have not had
my head shaved. I believe all that the Church tells me, for I doubt
not that the Church knows best; but I can't help seeing that she has
got a great number of knaves amongst her ministers."

"But what is the truth of the story, sir knight?" said the Lord of
Croy. "I told the Count that I was sure they had made a mountain of a
molehill."

"Thanks, my good lord," answered Woodville. "The truth is simply this:
the poor girl is a good and sincere catholic, and has been bitterly
tried; for many of her relations are what we call Lollards, a sort of
heretics like your Hussites, and she has steadfastly resisted all
their false notions. She was persecuted and ill-treated in England, by
a base and unworthy man--a knight, heaven save the mark!--one Sir
Simeon of Roydon, now banished from the English court for his
ill-treatment of her. She, having relations in this land--amongst
others Nicholas Brune, your goldsmith, sir--quitted London to join
them. I found her in the same ship which brought me over; and, in
Christian charity and common courtesy, gave her protection on the way.
She is no light-o'-love, my lord, but a good and honest maiden; and I
would be the last to sully her purity by word or deed. As soon as I
reached Ghent, and found out where her cousin dwelt, I placed her
safely under his roof, and thought of her no more, accompanying you to
Lille. A servant, however, whom I left with my baggage and some spare
horses here in Ghent--a clever knave, but a great rogue--was smitten,
it seems, by her beauty on the way, and went often to see her. On my
return, while I was speaking with Sir John Grey in the street, this
man came up importunately, and told me, if I did not save her, she was
lost. Hurrying along with him to gather my men together, I found that
a certain monk or friar, named Brother Paul, had combined with others,
of whom I have since discovered this Simeon of Roydon was one, to
seize upon the poor girl, with the whole party of her friends, at a
heretic meeting in the old Linen-weavers' Hall. On their promise to
give her up to him, this scoundrel servant of mine, Dyram, had
betrayed to the cunning monks at what hour the assembly was to be
held; but, when he asked for the securities they had promised, that
she should be placed in his hands, they laughed him to scorn. He is a
persevering knave, however, and, by one means or another, gained a
knowledge of all their proceedings and intentions, and found that they
had dressed up one of their varlets as the arch-enemy, covering him
with the skin of a black cow, and setting the horns upon his head.
This mummer was to be placed under the table in the hall--as doubtless
he was, for I saw something of the figure when I went in--and as soon
as it grew dusk, he was to rise up amongst the heretics, giving a sign
for the others to rush in. Knowing the girl to be a catholic, as I
have said, and free from all taint of this heresy--"

"Then why went she thither?" demanded the Count de Charolois.

"She told me afterwards, my lord," replied the young Englishman, "that
her cousin Nicholas and his wife had deceived her, and, anxious to
convert or pervert her to their own notions, had taken her to this
place, without letting her know whither she was going. She says they
will acknowledge it themselves, if they are questioned, and also that
she strove to go away when she found where she was, but was prevented
by them. However, knowing her to be a good catholic, and certain that
the whole matter was contrived out of some malice towards her, I had
no hesitation in hastening to her deliverance. I used no farther
violence than was needful to set her free, took no part in delivering
the others, of whose religious notions I knew nothing, and--"

"The greater part of them escaped, it seems," said the Lord of Croy.

"With that I had nothing to do," replied Richard of Woodville. "I
contented myself with cutting the cords they had tied round the poor
girl's wrists; and making my way with her out of the hall, leaving the
monks and their menée to settle the matter with the others as they
thought fit."

"And where is the maiden now, my friend?" asked the Count de
Charolois.

"I instantly sent her out of the town with three of my men," replied
Richard of Woodville. "I thought it the surest course."

The Count looked at the Lord of Croy, as if for him to speak; and the
young English knight, somewhat hastily concluding that they
entertained doubts of his word, exclaimed, after a moment's pause, "I
trust that you do not disbelieve me, sir? You cannot suppose that an
English gentleman, of no ill repute, would tell you a falsehood in a
matter such as this?"

"No, no, my friend, no, no," replied the Count, "I do not doubt you
for a moment. I only look to our good comrade here, to speak what is
very unpleasant for me to say. Indeed, I do not know how to explain it
to you; for you will naturally think that my father's power ought to
be sufficient to protect one of his own knights against his own
people."

"The truth is, Sir Richard," said the Lord of Croy, "that the citizens
of Ghent are an unruly race; and if they once get you in their hands,
they may treat you ill. If my lord the Count were to resist them,
there is no knowing what they might do. I would not answer for it, in
such a case, that we should not see them in arms before the castle
gate, ere noon to-morrow."

"That shall never be on my account, noble prince," replied the knight,
turning to the Count; "but, under these circumstances, it were wise in
me to quit the town of Ghent."

"That is exactly what I wish to say," answered the Prince; "but, in
truth, it seems most ungrateful of me to propose such a thing to you,
my friend. Undoubtedly, if you are not pleased to go, I will defend
you here to the best of my power; and my father would soon give us
aid, in case of necessity; but I need not tell you, that to have Ghent
again in revolt, just on the eve of a new war with the Armagnacs in
France, might be ruinous to all his schemes, and fatal to his policy.
Moreover, if they were to accuse him of countenancing heresy here, it
would do him a bitter injury; for the people in Paris have just
pronounced that the sermon preached by one of his doctors, Jean Petit,
is heretical."

"Well," answered Richard of Woodville, "I can go to Bruges, my lord,
where you said I should find good archers, and can be carrying on my
levies there."

The Count shook his head, saying, "That will be no place of safety.
These good folks of Ghent, and those of Bruges, so often at deadliest
enmity, are now sworn friends; and the Brugeois would give you up
without a thought. No, what I have to propose is this, that you should
go an hour or two before daylight to my cousin Waleran de St. Paul,
who is now raising troops upon the Meuse. I shall have to pass thither
also; for my father sends me into Burgundy, and I cannot go through
France. If you will wait for me between Chimay and Dinant, I will join
you within ten days, and we will go on to the west, and raise what men
we can at Besançon."

"So be it, my noble lord," replied Richard of Woodville; "but where
shall I find the Count?"

"You will find him at Chimay," replied the young prince. "He has a
castle two leagues thence, on the road to Dinant. From me you shall
hear before I come. I will meet you somewhere in the Ardennes. Make
all your preparations quickly; and, in the meanwhile, I will write
letters to my uncles of Brabant and Liege, that you may have favour
and protection as you pass."

Richard of Woodville thanked him for his kindness in due terms, and,
as soon as the young Count, with the Lords of Croy and Lens, had left
him, called his servants, and gave orders to prepare once more for
their immediate departure. Fortunately, it so happened that he had
ordered all his baggage to be brought from the inn, so that no great
time was lost; and in about an hour all was ready to set out. The
letters of the young Count, however, had not arrived, and Richard of
Woodville waited, pondering somewhat anxiously upon the only
difficulty which presented itself to his mind, namely, how he was to
recal the men whom he had sent with Ella Brune upon the side of
Bruges, without depriving her of aid and protection at the moment when
she most needed it. It was true, he thought, she had no actual claim
upon him; it was true that he had done more for her already than might
have been expected at his hands, without any motive but that of
compassion; but yet he felt that it would be cruel, most cruel, to
leave her in an hour of peril, undefended and alone. "We take a
withering stick and plant it in the ground," says Sterne; "and then we
water it, because we have planted it;" and Richard of Woodville was
one who felt that the kindness he had shown did give her a title to
expect more.

At first he thought of bidding the men rejoin him, and bring her with
them; but then the glance which Sir John Grey had cast upon him as her
name was mentioned, came back to his mind, and he said, "No, that must
not be. For her sake and my own, she must go no farther with me. Men
might well think, if she did, that there were other ties between us
than there are. I will bid them take her to England, or place her
anywhere in safety, and then come. To Sir John Grey I must write--and
to my sweet Mary also. I may well trust her, I hope, to plead my
cause, and repel the charges which this base villain has brought. Yet,
'tis most unfortunate that this event should have occurred at such a
moment."

He was still thinking deeply over these matters, when the door opened,
and the young Count of Charolois appeared alone. "Here are the
letters, my friend," he said. "I have ordered some of my people to go
with you for a mile or two beyond the gates, in order to secure you a
safe passage. Is there aught I can do for you while you are absent?"

"One thing, my noble lord," replied the young knight, a sudden thought
striking him--"if you will kindly undertake to be my advocate with one
whose good opinion is to me a matter of no light moment. You must know
that Sir John Grey--so long an exile in your father's dominions, but
now empowered by King Henry to treat, in conjunction with Sir Philip
de Morgan, at the Court of Burgundy--has one daughter, plighted to me
by long love, by her own promises, and by her father's also; but some
scoundrel--the same, I do verily believe, who has made all this
mischief--I mean Sir Simeon of Roydon--has brought charges against me
to that good knight, which have altered his countenance towards me.
Called suddenly away, I have no means of explanation; and I leave my
name blighted in his opinion. The accusation, I believe, refers to
this poor girl, Ella Brune; but you may tell Sir John, and I pledge
you my knightly word you will tell him true, that there is nought
between her and me but kindness rendered on my part to a woman in
distress, and gratitude on hers to one who has protected her."

"I will not fail," replied the young prince, giving him his hand, "nor
will I lose any time before I explain all as far as I know it." Thus
saying, he walked out with Woodville into the court, where the horses
stood prepared; and, in a few minutes, the young wanderer was once
more upon his way.



                            CHAPTER XXXII.

                         TRUE LOVE'S DEFENCE.


In one of the best houses in the best part of Ghent, and in a chamber
hung with splendid tapestry, and ornamented with rich carvings of dark
oak, sat a fair lady, with a bright and happy face--the rounded chin,
with its small dimple, resting on a hand as white as marble and as
soft as satin. The dark brown eyes, full of cheerful light, were
raised towards the gilt roses on the ceiling, as if counting them; but
the thoughts of Mary Markham, or, as we must henceforth call her, Mary
Grey, were full of other things; and if she was counting anything, it
was the minutes, till her father should return from the Cours des
Princes, and tell her, who had come back to Ghent with the young
Count of Charolois. She was, as the reader knows, of a hopeful
disposition--that most bright and blessed of all frames of mind--that
lightener of the labours of the world--that smoother of the rough ways
of life; and Mary had already hoped that, perchance, when the door
opened, and her father's form appeared, another, well loved too, might
be beside him; for, on her first arrival, Sir John Grey had spoken to
her much of Richard of Woodville, had praised him, as she was proud to
hear him praised, and had smiled to see the colour come into her
cheek, as if he meant to say, "Fear not, you shall be his."

True, for the last two days he had not mentioned his name; but that,
she thought, might be accidental; and now her father did not come so
soon as he had promised; but, then, she fancied that this court
ceremony might have been long and tedious, or that other business
might have detained him after the reception was over.

Minute upon minute passed, however--one hour went by after
another--day fled, and night came on--and, after gazing some time upon
the flickering fire on the wide hearth, for the evening was somewhat
cold, though spring had well nigh made way for summer, Mary rang the
little silver bell before her, and bade the servant bring her light to
work.

The man obeyed; and when the sconce, protruding through the tapestry
by a long gilded arm, was lighted, she said, "Is not my father long?"

"He has been back, lady," replied the man, "but did not dismount, only
giving some orders to Hugh, and saying, that if Sir Philip de Morgan
came, to tell him he would be here in about two hours."

"How long was that ago?" demanded Mary Grey. The man replied, "More
than an hour." And with this intelligence she was forced to rest
satisfied. Not long after she heard a step, and her heart beat; but,
listening eagerly, she perceived that the sound gave no hope that
there were two persons approaching; and with a sigh she plied the busy
needle. The next instant her father came in; and, though he kissed her
tenderly, with long denied affection, she could see that his face was
clouded and somewhat stern.

"I have kept you late from supper, my sweet child," he said; "but I
had business which took me away after my visit to the prince."

"Not pleasant business, I fear, noble father," replied Mary, hanging
on his arm, "for you look sad."

Sir John Grey gazed on her for a moment or two, with a look of
melancholy interest and affection. She had never seen such an
expression on his countenance before, but when he had taken leave of
her to quit his native land as an exile; and it seemed prophetic of
misfortune. "What has happened, my dear father?" she exclaimed; "has
any new misfortune befallen you?"

"No," answered Sir John Grey; "and yet I must say yes, too; for that
which is sad for you, must be sad for me, Mary."

"He is dead! he is killed!" cried Mary Grey, her sunny cheek growing
deadly pale; but her father hastened to relieve her on that score.

"No, Mary," he said, gravely, "he is not dead; but he is unworthy."

The blood rushed up again into her face, as if some one had accused
her of a crime; but the next moment she laughed, gaily answering, "No,
my father, no! Some one has deceived you. That is impossible. Richard
of Woodville cannot be unworthy."

"Alas! my sweet child, 'tis you deceive yourself," replied the knight;
"the confidence of love speaks out before you know the facts."

"I know one fact, my father," answered Mary, "which none can
contradict; and which is my answer to all that can be said. For many a
long year I have known him. In youth and manhood I have watched him
well: and there is not a truer heart on earth. If any one say that his
courage has failed in the hour of peril, it is false, my father. If
any one say that he has betrayed his friend, it is false. If any one
say, that he has deceived, even by word, man or woman, high or low, it
is false. If any one say, that he has forgotten his duty, broke his
plighted word, wronged his king, his country, you, or me, believe it
not, for it is false, my father."

"These are the words of love, my Mary," replied Sir John Grey; "but
though I would fain shield that dear bosom through life from every
shaft of sorrow, pain, and disappointment, yet, my sweet child, I
would rather see you suffer, bitterly though it might be, than regard
what I have to tell you of this youth with that light indifference
which some might show. He left his native land, Mary, plighted and
pledged to you; telling you he went to seek honour for your sake; and
yet he brought hither with him a fair leman, to sooth his idle hours
with songs and dalliance. Was this worthy, Mary? Nay, doubt it not;
for I have it from three several sources; and his own conduct to
myself confirms the tale."

He thought to see tears, or at least thoughtful looks; but Mary once
more laughed gaily; and holding her father's arm with her fair hand,
gazed merrily in his face. "Alas!" she said, "how men are fond of
mischief! and what chance can a poor defenceless woman have to escape
scandal, when you powerful lords of earth so slander one another?
Forgive me, my dear father; but I needs must laugh, to think that any
one here, in a foreign land, should take the pains, from pure
malignity to my poor knight, to try thus sillily to trouble the peace
of Mary Grey, by poisoning her parent's mind against her lover. Poor
Ella Brune! little did she think, or little did I think when I bade
her go, what evil to her kind and generous benefactor might be done,
by her coming with him. I have an antidote to the poison, my dear
father; and thanks to that generous candour which made you condescend
to tell your child all the plain truth, I can apply it. I know this
girl, my father--I know the whole history. I am even art and part in
the offence; or rather it is mine, not his. She is my paramour, not
Richard's;" and Mary blushed brightly, while even in her laughing eyes
a dewy drop of emotion rose up and sparkled, as she defended him she
loved.

"Your words are strange, dear one," said the knight; "but let me hear
more. Tell me the whole, my child."

"That I will do," replied Mary. "I will tell you the whole tale after
supper, and hers is a very sad one. But first, to set your mind fully
at ease, let me say, that the only evil thing Richard has done in all
this affair, was showing some want of courtesy to the poor girl
herself; for when, after having received from him kind and generous
protection in her hour of sorrow and of danger, she thought to journey
to join her friends in Burgundy, under the safeguard of his little
band--Richard, fearing too much what men might say, or perchance,
fancying that Mary might be jealous, unkindly refused to take her; and
it was I who bade her go, and promised her that, with a free heart, I
would let all idle fancies pass me by as evening winds."

"Your love is very confiding, my sweet child," replied the knight.

"And it will never be wronged," said Mary, warmly. "I would not have
given it, father, to one unworthy of such trust; and when the
confidence ends, the love will end with it. But that will never be."

"Yet, my dear child," answered the knight, gravely, "as I told you I
had, in the very first instance, an intimation of this fact from some
unknown hand, and then--"

"Some idle mischief-maker," cried Mary, "who chanced to see them on
the road, and in his own fancy made the evil he would ascribe to
Richard."

"But then comes another, lately arrived from England," continued Sir
John Grey; "a gentleman of good repute, who tells the same story with
strange exactness, if it be false; and then, when questioned by me,
Sir Philip de Morgan says, with a worldly laugh at young men's
follies, that he has heard something of it."

"But who was this man from England?" asked Mary, eagerly, "this
gentleman of good repute?--I doubt, my father! I doubt!--Methinks I
could name him at once."

"Do so, then," replied her father; "I will tell you if you are right."

"Simeon of Roydon," said his daughter; and the knight nodded his
assent. "A gentleman of good repute!" cried Mary; "a false and
perjured knave, my father! One who has already foully slandered poor
Harry Dacre, yet, with a craven cautiousness, has kept himself free
from the lance's point; one who dare not, before Richard of
Woodville's face, say aught but, that he has heard such reports--that
he vouches not for them--that he mentioned them in thoughtlessness.
Out upon the base, ungenerous hound! Why, this very man, for his
shameless persecution of this poor girl, and on the bold accusation of
good Sir Philip Beauchamp, my second father, is banished from England
for two years, and vowed revenge on her and all of us. Had it not been
for the King's presence, I believe noble Sir Philip would have crushed
him as an earwig or a wasp."

"And is it so?" exclaimed Sir John Grey. "This makes a great change,
indeed, my child; for if the teller of a tale be a villain, we may
well judge that his story will have some scoundrel object. Nor can I
doubt," he continued, with a smile, "that this poor girl, of whom so
much has been said, is not what they call her; for, though your eyes
might be blinded by love, dear girl, my noble friend Sir Philip is not
likely to be affected by any tender self-deceit."

Mary laughed gaily. "That he is not," she said. "Nay, love is with
him, my father, but another name for folly. Did I not tell you right,
that whoever has assailed the name of Richard of Woodville is a false
knave?"

"I trust it may be so," replied her father; "but yet, dear Mary, we
must not forget that, long ere this Sir Simeon of Roydon uttered a
word, some one unknown wrote to me the self-same tale."

"It was himself, or some one like him," answered Mary Grey.

"It could not be himself," rejoined the knight; "for he was not yet in
Flanders when the letter came."

"Is there but one slanderer in the world, dear father?" replied the
fair girl, raising her eyes almost reproachfully to her parent's
countenance; "and should we even doubt the conduct of one whom for
many a long year we have seen walk in truth and honour, because some
nameless calumniator breathes a tale against him?"

"We should not," replied Sir John Grey, firmly; "yet such is the
world's justice, my child, and such is, I fear, the heart of
man--ready to doubt, prone to suspect, and instructed by its own
weakness in the weakness of others. However, you have well pleaded
your lover's cause, my Mary; and he shall have full and patient
hearing to explain whatever yet remains obscure."

"Is there aught obscure?" asked Mary Grey. "To me his whole conduct
seems, as it ever has been, light as day."

"Yes," answered the knight; "but yet, Mary, even while I spoke with
him to-night--"

"What, is he here?" cried Mary Grey, interrupting him, and clasping
her hands with eager joy; "and have you seen him--spoke with him?--How
did he look, my father?--Well, but not too happy when he was away from
me, I dare to say."

"Well, he certainly seemed," replied her father, with a smile; "and
anything but happy, my dear child; but, as I was going to add--even
while I spoke with him upon these most serious charges, a man came up
and plucked him by the sleeve, beseeching him to come to Ella Brune.
His whole countenance changed at the name; and, though he had fixed to
meet me within two hours, he failed in his appointment. I waited for
him as long as he could decently expect, and then came hither,
doubting no longer that the tale was true."

Mary paused thoughtfully, and cast down her eyes; but then a moment
after she raised them again with a look of relief, as if she had
settled the whole in her own mind. "I will be warrant," she said,
"that some great peril has beset our poor Ella, and that he has gone
to deliver her: most likely the hateful persecution of this same base
man. Nothing else--nothing, I know, would have kept Richard of
Woodville away from Mary Grey--if, indeed, he knew that I was here."

"Nay, I must do him justice," answered the knight; "he did not know
it, Mary; and perhaps what you suppose is the case, for the man did
mention something of danger, and besought him to save her. We will
look upon it in as fair a light as may be, and I will send to him
early in the morning to bid him come hither and explain. He will then
have two advocates instead of one, my child; and I am very ready to be
convinced, for I love him for his love to you."

"Can you not send to-night?" whispered Mary Grey, resting her hands
upon her father's arm.

"Nay, nay," replied the knight, smiling kindly on her. "It is late
to-night, dear girl. To-morrow will do."

Does to-morrow ever do? But seldom; for the hour that is, we can only
call our own. All that is to come is in the hands of that dark
mysterious fate, which, ruling silent and unseen the acts and wills of
men, reserves to itself, in its own dim council-chamber, each purpose
unfulfilled, each resolution made and not performed; sporting with
chances and with hopes, trampling into dust expectations and designs,
and leaving to man but the past for his instruction, and the present
for his energies. The word to-morrow should be blotted out from the
catalogue. It is what never exists in the form we think to find it;
and thus it was with Sir John Grey. When the morning came he wrote
briefly to Richard of Woodville, requesting him to come to him, and
making the tone of his epistle more kindly than his words the night
before; but it was returned unopened from the Graevensteen, with the
tidings that the young knight and all his band had set out on some
expedition a few hours after midnight. As she heard the answer, the
gay and happy eyes of Mary Grey filled with tears; and her father,
gazing on her, reproached himself for having lost the moment that was
theirs.



                           CHAPTER XXXIII.

                             THE RESCUE.


It was a sultry summer morning, in the midst of July, and there was a
dull oppressive weight in the air, although neither mist nor cloud
hung upon the lazy wings of a south wind, when an armed party rode
through the deep forest of Auvillers, a part of the ancient Ardennes.
Road, properly so called, there was none; but yet the way, though
somewhat difficult to find for those not accustomed to all the
intricacies of the wood, was not difficult to travel; for no care had
been taken to plant new trees where old ones had fallen by the stroke
of Time or the axe; all had been left to nature; and thus amidst the
thick copses and the tall groves of old trees, wide open spaces and
long uncovered tracts had spread here and there, over which the soft
turf afforded pleasant footing for man or beast. True, the whole
district was rocky and mountainous, and without a guide, the wanderer
might have found it a wearisome journey in a sultry day, having to
climb a high hill in one place, or wind in and out to avoid the long
projecting cliffs of slaty stone in another. But for one directed by
any persons well acquainted with the track, the journey was far more
easy; and by choosing the proper breaks in the forest, and the long
spaces which lay midway up the hills, he might ride along for many
miles, without having to ascend any mountain, or deviate very greatly
from a straight course, on account either of the wood or of the rocks.

Such was the course followed by the party of which I speak, under the
direction of a tall powerful man, clothed from head to heel in steel;
for those were not times, nor was that a part of the country in which
men of rank and station could travel in safety without being armed in
proof. Waleran de St. Paul, indeed, might better have risked his life
with scanty arms and few attendants, than any other noble of the day,
in that district, for he was well known and generally beloved by the
lesser lords around; and his redoubted name rendered it a somewhat
fearful task to strive with him, even if taken unprepared; but it
would still have been a hazardous experiment, for in those remote and
uncultivated tracts, bordering upon several great states, and very
uncertain in their attachment to any, numerous bands of wild and
lawless men took refuge, and, secure from the arm of justice, lived a
life of plunder and oppression, only varied by the mimic warfare of
the chase. None of the great nobles in the vicinity--generally engaged
in the civil strifes and incessant broils of their own countries--had
time to suppress them, even if they had the inclination. But it may
well be doubted whether they felt at all disposed to put down, with
the strong hand, the troops of roving plunderers which at that time
infested the great forests that stretched along the banks of the Meuse
and the Moselle; for in those very bands they frequently found a sort
of dépôt for brave and determined followers, from which their forces
might at any moment be recruited for a short space of time. It is,
moreover, whispered that in many instances, the more civilized and
polite of the powerful barons round were accustomed to exact a certain
share of the plunder from their marauding neighbours, as the price of
toleration; and the inferior lords sometimes shared the peril as well
as the spoil; and received as welcome guests into their strong castles
the leaders of the freebooters, when any accidental reverse of fortune
rendered the green wood no longer a secure abode.

Such was the state of the land through which now rode the Lord of St.
Paul, still holding the sword, if not the office of Constable of
France, with Richard of Woodville by his side, and a train of about
forty men-at-arms behind them; so that all peril from their somewhat
covetous neighbours of the Ardennes was unthought of by either; and
the beauty of the scene, the heat of the day, their approaching
meeting with the young Count of Charolois, the state of France, and
the probability of speedy deeds of arms, were the subjects of the
conversation.

The landscapes, indeed, were most lovely as they proceeded. Beneath,
upon the left, sloped down the hill side, here and there covered with
green wood, here and there broken with wild and rugged rocks; but
everywhere so much below them, that the eye could generally catch the
shining course of the Meuse, wandering on with a thousand sinuosities,
and could then roam at large over the wide and varied country on the
other side, sometimes reaching distant towns and cities many leagues
away, sometimes checked by a bold mountain near at hand. Above rose
the hills with their woody garmenture, from which would often start
out a high grey cliff of cold slaty stone, sheer up and perpendicular
as a wall; or at other times would rise a conical peak, smooth at the
sides, or broken into points; and, through many of the gorges that
they passed, perched upon isolated hills that seemed inaccessible,
were seen the towers and walls of some stern feudal fortress, frowning
down the valley, as if prognosticating woe to the traveller who
ventured there alone.

Of each of these castles the Lord of St. Paul had some tale or
anecdote; and he kindly strove to amuse the mind of his young
companion by the way; but though Woodville listened with all due
courtesy, ay, and admired the beauty of the land, and answered with a
calm and ready mind, yet it was evident his cheerful gaiety was gone,
at least for the time, and that his thoughts were pre-occupied by
sadder themes, which only spared his attention for a moment, to reply
to the words addressed to him, and then recalled it immediately to
himself.

"You seem sad, sir knight," said the Lord of St. Paul, at length; "I
trust that with the letters from the noble Count, which seemed to me
full of all joyance, you received no evil tidings?"

"Tidings most strange, my redoubted lord,"[10] replied Richard of
Woodville; "for while the Count speaks cheerfully of having removed
all cause of difference between myself and a noble gentleman, Sir John
Grey, on whom my best hopes depend, letters from that knight himself
are filled with reproaches undeserved by me, and refuse all
explanation or argument."


---------------------

[Footnote 10: This term was greatly affected at the period we speak
of, not only by kings, but by all powerful nobles.]

---------------------


"That is strange, indeed," said the Count; "what are the dates? One
may have been written earlier than the other."

"The dates are the same," answered Richard of Woodville, "and the
letters of Sir John Grey, coming by the same messenger as those of the
Count, might easily have been stopped, had the explanation been given
after they were written. It is a dark and misty life we lead in this
world; and still, when we think all is clear and bright, as I did when
I returned from Lille to Ghent, some thick vapour spreads over the
whole, concealing it from our eyes, like the cloud now rolling round
the brow of the castle on that high rocky steep."

"We shall have rain," remarked the Lord of St. Paul, "and when it does
begin, it will prove a torrent. Here, old Carloman," he continued,
turning to one of his men-at-arms, "what does that cloud mean? and
where can we best wait for the noble prince, the Count of Charolois,
who is to meet us at the Mill Bridge?"

"The cloud means a heavy storm, my lord," replied the old man, riding
forward. "Do you not see how the earth gapes for it? But it will not
be able to swallow all that will come down, I think. We have not had a
drop of rain these two months, and very little dew, so that everything
is as parched as pulse. Then, as to waiting for the prince, the
meadows by the river would be the best place, if it were not for that
cloud."

"Oh, we mind not a little rain," answered the Count of St. Paul;
"'twill but make the armourers' fingers ache to take off the rust
to-night."

"Ay, 'tis not the rain I am thinking of," said the old man; "but the
meadows are no safe resting-place, when there are storms above there.
The water gathers in the gulleys, and comes down into the Sormonne,
till the old fool can hold no more, and then the whole valley is
covered."

"Oh, but if that be the case, we can easily gallop up higher," replied
the Count. "There is no shame in running away from a torrent, old
Carloman. 'Tis not like turning one's back on the foe."

"Faith that is a foe that gallops quicker than you can," answered the
man-at-arms. "The meadow is so narrow, and the bank so high, that you
cannot cut across; so you had better stop above, in what we call the
Rock Castle, where you can see the country below, and the Mill Bridge
and all, without getting in the way of the water. The old Sormonne is
a lion, I can tell you, when he is angry; and nothing makes him so
fierce as a storm in the hills."

"Well, be it so," answered his lord; "you shall be our governor, good
Carloman."

"Then keep up higher, dread sir," replied the man-at-arms. "See," he
added, as they passed a little brook that was running down a narrow
ravine, all troubled and red, "it has begun farther to the east
already; and it is coming against the wind. That is a sign that it
will be furious, though not long-lived."

The Count and his party rode on, somewhat quickening their pace; and
though they heard occasionally a distant roar, showing that there was
thunder somewhere, no lightning was seen, and the wind still continued
blowing faintly from the south-west. The clouds, however, crept over
the sky, approaching the sun with their hard leaden edges, and to the
north and east, covering the whole expanse with a deep black wall,
broken and rugged at its summit, as if higher hills and rocks of slate
and marble were rising from the bosom of the mountain scene into the
heavens above. Over the deep curtain of vapour, indeed, here and there
floated detached, some small paler clouds; and others seemed hurrying
up from the south, where all had been hitherto clear, as if drawn
by some irresistible power towards the adamant-like mass in the
north-east. From one of these as they passed over-head, a few heavy
drops fell, but then ceased; and still the sun shone out, as if in
scorn of the black enemy that rose towering towards him. A deep
stillness, however, fell upon the scene. There is generally in the
risen day an unmarked but all pervading sound of busy life, composed
of many different noises mingled in the air. According to the season
of the year and hour, it varies of course. Sometimes it is full of the
song of birds, the voices of the cattle, the hum of insects, the rush
of streams, the whispering of the wind, the rustle of the trees, and a
thousand other undistinguished sounds to which the ear pays no heed.
But when they all or most of them cease, it is strange how we miss the
murmur of creation--what a want, what a vacancy there seems! So was it
now; and, turning to Richard of Woodville, the Lord of St. Paul
remarked, "How silent everything has become!"

"It is generally so before a thunderstorm," answered the young knight.
"In my country, we judge whether it will be merely rain or something
more by the conduct of the cattle. If after a drought we are going to
have refreshing showers, the sheep and oxen seem to hail it with their
voices; but if there be lightning coming, everything is silent."

Almost immediately after he had spoken, there was a bright flash, not
very near, but dazzling; and some drops fell, while the thunder
followed at a long interval. Spurring on, they rode forward for about
two miles farther; and as they went, every little gorge and hollow way
had its minor torrent coming down thick and turbulent, though the
rain, where the Count and his party were, had not become violent,
pattering slowly upon their arms and housings, and spotting the sleek
coats of the horses with marks like damascene work. The river, which
they were now approaching nearer, might be seen swelling and foaming
in its bed, its crowded waters curling in miniature whirlpools along
the edge, and rising higher and higher up the bank, as the innumerable
tributaries from the mountains poured down continual accessions to the
flood.

At length the old man-at-arms exclaimed, "To the right, my lord," and
passing through a narrow opening between the great belt of wood, and a
small detached portion that ran farther down the hill, they entered a
sort of natural amphitheatre crowned with old pines, and carpeted at
the bottom of the crags with soft green turf spread over the rugged
and undulating surface of ground. Numerous immense masses of rock,
however, detached from the hills above, and rolled down in times long
passed, started out from the greensward bare and grey; and here and
there would rise up a group of old oaks or beeches, while on the stony
fragments themselves was often perched an ash or a fir, like a plume
in the helmet of a knight.

In front of this amphitheatre the trees sloped away both to the right
and left, leaving a wide open space gradually descending the hill, so
that from most parts of the Castle of Rocks, as it was called, a
considerable portion of the course of the Sormonne might be seen, the
nearest point being somewhat less distant than a quarter of a mile.
Directly in front was a double wooden bridge spanning over the stream,
which was there divided by a low island of very small extent, which
served but as a resting-place for the piles of the two bridges, and
for a mill, which gave the name to that particular spot. Beyond, on
the opposite side of the water, was an undulating plain of several
miles in extent, bounded by hills all round, but open to the eye of
St. Paul and his party as they stood in the midst of the amphitheatre.

"Is not this the best place now, my lord?" asked old Carloman. "You
can not only see here, but you can find shelter, and need not get your
arms rusted, or your horses wet, unless you like. There, under the
cliff where it hangs over, you can post two-thirds of the men; and as
the storm comes the other way, not a drop will reach them. Then, as
for the rest, they can get under this rock in front, where they will
be quite dry, if they keep close."

"I will stay here," replied the Count of St. Paul. "You lodge the
others, Carloman."

"I will keep you company, my lord," said Richard of Woodville; "and if
we dismount, we shall be better able to shelter the horses."

Such was the plan followed; and all the troop, men and horses, were
under shelter before the storm became violent. Nor, indeed, did the
thunder ever reach that grand and terrible height which it frequently
does attain in wood-covered mountains: the rain seemed to drown it;
but the deluge which soon fell from the sky was tremendous. In long
lines of black and grey it poured straight down, mingled with hail and
every now and then crossed by the faint glare of the lightning. The
distant country was hidden by the misty veil, and even the nearer
scene of the bridge and the mill, the only dwelling in the
neighbourhood, grew indistinct.

The Lord of St. Paul and Richard of Woodville endeavoured in vain to
descry the plain on the opposite side of the river, in expectation of
seeing the train of the Count of Charolois coming from the side of
Avesnes. Nothing could they distinguish beyond a hundred yards from
the opposite bank; and they mutually expressed a hope that the prince
might have been delayed in the more cultivated country to the west,
where he would find shelter from the storm.

"He cannot surely be already in the mill?" said the Count: "there seem
a great many people at that casement looking up the stream. How many
men did he say he would bring, Sir Richard?"

"Two hundred horse," replied Richard of Woodville; "he cannot be
there, my good lord; yet there seems a number of heads too. Good
heaven! how the stream is rising! 'Tis nearly up to the road-way of
the bridge."

"It will be higher than that before it is done, sir knight," observed
one of the men-at-arms. "I have seen the bridge carried away twice
since I was a boy."

"Here comes a boat down the stream," said Richard of Woodville.

"Ay, we passed one a little way further up," replied the same man who
had spoken before; "it has broken away, I dare say."

"That is not a boat," exclaimed the Lord of St. Paul, after gazing for
a moment; "it is the thatch of a cottage. Heaven have mercy upon the
poor people!" and lifting the cross of his sword to his lips, he
kissed it, and muttered a prayer.

At the same moment a number of men, some evidently of inferior rank,
and some in garbs which betokened higher station, ran out of the mill;
and Woodville could then perceive that, almost close to the door,
between the building and the bridge, the water had risen over the low
shore of the islet, so as to be up to the knees of those who came
forth. He fancied at first that they were about to make their escape
over the bridge; but he saw that several of them were armed with long
poles; and turning to the man-at arms, who seemed well acquainted with
the country, he inquired what they were about to do.

"To draw the broken cottage-roof to the shore, sir knight, I suppose,"
replied the other, "lest it should damage the bridge."

"See, there comes down a bull!" cried the Count; "how furiously he
struggles with the stream.--Ha! they have caught the roof with their
hooks. They have got it--no!"

They had indeed obtained for a moment some hold upon the heavy mass of
timber and straw that came rushing down, and were dragging it towards
the little island; but the stream was increasing so rapidly, and
pouring such a body of water upon the land where they stood, that one
of the men slipped, and let go his pole, glad enough to be dragged out
of the eddy by those behind.

The roof at the same moment swang round and disengaged itself. The
bull, still struggling with the torrent, was dashed against the bridge
and recoiled. The heavy mass of thatch and wood-work was borne forward
upon him with the full force of the stream, and crushed him between
itself and the piers. A shrill and horrible cry--something between a
roar and a scream, burst from amidst the fierce rushing sound of the
overwhelming waters; the whole mass of the floating roof was cast
furiously upon the weaker part of the bridge in the centre, already
shaken by the torrent; and with an awful crash the whole structure
gave way, and was borne in fragments down the stream.

"The flood has reached the mill," said the Count of St. Paul, turning
to the man-at-arms; "is there no danger of its being carried away,
too?"

"The miller would tell you, none, my dreaded lord," replied the
soldier; "but every day is not like to-day; and what has happened once
may happen again. He always says there is no danger, since he put up
an image of the blessed Virgin over the door; but I recollect when I
was a little boy, and lived at Givet, that island was six feet under
water, and where there was a mill in the morning, you could row over
in a boat at night. They were all drowned, this man's uncle and all."

"Why are you stripping off your casque and camail, Sir Richard?" asked
the Count.

"Because I imagine they may soon want help, my good lord," replied the
young knight.

"Madness!" cried the Lord of St. Paul; "no man could swim such a
torrent as that."

"I do not know that, noble sir," answered Richard of Woodville; "we
are great swimmers in my country, and accustomed to buffet with the
waves. But there is a boat higher up. I will first try that, and if
that sinks, swimming must serve me."

"I will not suffer it!" exclaimed the Count; "neither boat nor man
could live in such a rushing torrent as that."

"Indeed, my good lord, you must," replied the young knight, gravely.
"My life is of no great value to myself, or any one, now; and, though
I know not who these good folks are, they shall not be lost before my
eyes, without an effort on my part to deliver them. See, see!" he
cried, "some one waves to us from the window!" and, casting off his
corslet, and all his heavy armour, he was hurrying down. But the Count
caught him by the arm with a glowing cheek, saying, "Stay, stay, yet a
little. They are in no danger yet. The stream may not rise higher."

"But if it does, they are lost," answered Woodville, gently
disengaging his arm.

"Then I will go with you," said the Count.

"No, no, my lord!" replied the young knight; "you would but fill the
boat, which is small enough. One man is better than a thousand there.
If I die, divide my goods amongst my men--send my ring to my sweet
lady; and farewell."

Thus saying, he sped on to the very brink of the water, which, instead
of decreasing, was still rising rapidly. There, he tried to make the
people of the mill hear him, and they shouted from the casement in
reply, but the roaring of the torrent drowned their words; and
hurrying up to the spot where he had seen the boat moored, he found
it, now far out from the actual brink of the stream, swaying backwards
and forwards with the eddies. The top of the post, to which it was
attached by a chain, and which, an hour before, had been some yards on
shore, was now just visible above the rushing waters; but, wading in,
the young knight caught the chain, and drew the boat to him.

It was luckily flat, and somewhat heavy in its build; so that he
managed to get in without upsetting it, but not without difficulty.
The only implements, however, which he found to guide its course, were
one paddle and a large pole with an iron hook, such as he had seen in
the hands of the people of the mill. But he had no hesitation,--no
fear; and, throwing loose the chain, he guided the boat into the
middle of the stream, where, though the current was stronger, the
eddies were less frequent. There it was borne forward with terrible
rapidity towards what had been the island, but was no longer to be
distinguished from the rest of the stream but by the foaming ripple on
either side, and the mill rising in the midst.

The bank of the river, on the eastern side, was crowded by his own
attendants and the followers of the Count of St. Paul; the windows of
the mill, and a little railed platform above the wheel, showed a
multitude of anxious faces. No one spoke--no one moved, however, but
two stout Englishmen, who were seen upon the shore, stripping off
their arms and clothing; while the timbers of the mill, and the posts
and stanchions of the platform, quivered and shook with the roaring
tide as it whirled, red and furious, past them, lingering in a curling
vortex round, as if unwilling to dash on without carrying every
obstacle along with it.

Richard of Woodville raised not his eyes to look at those who hung
between death and life; he turned not to gaze at his companions on the
shore: he knew that every energy, every thought was wanted to
accomplish the great object; and, if he suffered his mind to stray,
for even a single instant to other things, it was but to think, "I
will show those who have belied me that I can risk life, even for
beings I do not know!" His eyes were fixed upon one spot, where the
boiling of the tide evinced that the ground came near the surface; and
there, he determined first to check the furious speed at which he was
hurried down the stream. A little farther on, were the strong
standards and braces of a mill of those days; and he thought that, if
he could break the first rush of the boat at the shallow, he should be
able more easily to bring her up under the casements and the platform.

Now guiding with the paddle, now starting up to hold the boat-pike, he
came headlong towards the shoal; but, fending off till the speed of
the boat was checked, and she swung round with the torrent and drifted
more slowly on, he caught at the thick uprights of the mill with the
hook--missed the first--grappled the second; and, though almost thrown
over with the shock, held fast till the boat swung heavily round, and
struck with her broadside against the building. A rope was instantly
thrown from above; and, tying it fast through a ring, which was to be
found in the bow of all boats in those days, he relaxed his hold of
the woodwork, and the skiff floated farther round.

Then first he looked up; and then first a feeling of deadly terror
took possession of him. His cheek grew pale; his lips turned white;
and, stretching out his arms, he exclaimed, "Oh, Mary!--oh, my
beloved! is it you on whom such peril has fallen?--Quick, quick!" he
continued, "lose not a moment. The stream is coming down more and more
strong--the building cannot stand. Bear her down quick, Sir John."

"Poo! the building will stand well enough," said a man, in a rude
jargon of the French tongue. "'Tis but that people are afraid."

"Fool!" cried Richard of Woodville, who saw the timbers quivering as
if shaken by mortal agony: "if you would save your life, come down
with the rest."

"Not I," answered the miller, with a laugh; "I have seen as bad floods
before now. Here, lady, here--set a foot upon the wheel; it is made
fast, and cannot move. Catch her, young gentleman:--nay, not so far,
or you will upset the boat--that will do,--there she is;" and Richard
of Woodville, receiving Mary Grey in his arms, seated her in the stern
of the boat, and again advanced to aid her women and the old knight in
descending. Two fair young girls, a young clerk in a black gown, and
three armed servants formed the train, and they were the first to take
refuge in the boat, leaving their horses behind them. There were three
other men remained above, and laughed lightly at the thought of
danger; but one young lad, of fifteen years of age, though he too said
he would stay, bore a white cheek and a wandering eye.

"Send down the boy, at least," cried Richard of Woodville to the
miller; "though you may be fool-hardy, there is no need to sacrifice
his life."

"Go, go, Edmé," said the miller; "you are as well there as here. You
can do us no good."

The boy hesitated; but the increasing force of water made the mill
tremble more violently than ever; and, hurrying on, he sprang into the
boat.

"Every one down and motionless!" cried Richard of Woodville, without
exchanging even a word with those who were most dear; and, casting off
the rope, he steered as well as the paddle would permit towards the
bank. But, hurried rapidly forward down the stream, with scarcely any
power of direction, he saw that the frail bark must pass the ruined
bridge. It was a moment of terrible anxiety, for the eddies showed
that the foundations of the piers were left beneath the waters. By
impulse, the instinct of great peril, he guided the boat over the most
violent gush of the stream, between two of the half-checked
whirlpools; and she shot clear down, falling into another vortex
below, which carried her completely round twice; and then, broken by
the blade of the paddle, let her float away into the stream.

The whole band of the Count of St. Paul were running down by the side
of the river; and, as the course of the skiff became more steady,
Richard of Woodville turned his eyes towards them. They had got what
seemed a rope in their hands; and, ever and anon, one of his own
archers held it up, and made signs, as if he would have thrown it, had
they been nearer.

"Some one be ready to catch the rope!" cried Woodville, "I cannot quit
the steering;" and he guided the boat gently and gradually towards the
shore. The young clerk sprang at once into the bow; the women sat
still in breathless expectation. Sir John Grey advanced slowly and
steadily to aid the youth; and when, at the distance of a few yards, a
band, formed of the sword-belts of the troop tightly tied together,
was thrown on board, the young man and the old knight caught it, but
were pulled down by the shock. Some of the others aided to hold it
fast; but, in spite of all Woodville's efforts, the boat swung round,
struck the rocky shore violently, and began to fill.

There were now many to aid, however: one after another was supported
to the land; and Richard of Woodville springing out the last, caught
his sweet Mary to his heart, and blessed the God of all mercies for
her preservation in that hour of peril.

As he did so, a faint and distant cry, and a rushing sound,
different--very different, either from the roar of the stream or the
growling of the thunder, caught the ear. All turned round towards the
mill, and gazed. It was gone!--a black mass floated on the tide,
struck against the sunken piers of the fallen bridge, obstructed for a
moment the torrent which instantly poured over it in a white cataract,
and then, broken into innumerable fragments, rushed past, darkening
the red waters. Woodville ran to the brink, and gazed; but no trace of
the rash men who had chosen to remain appeared, and their bodies were
not found for many days, when they floated to the shore far down the
then subsided stream.



                            CHAPTER XXXIV.

                           THE RECOMPENCE.


Oh, what a moment it was when, after seeing the wreck of the mill
drift by, Richard of Woodville again held Mary Grey to his heart! He
cared not who witnessed his emotions, he thought not of the crowd
around, he thought not of her father's presence, or of the letter he
had received on the preceding night. All he remembered, all he felt,
was, that she was saved; and the knowledge of the dreadful death that
had just overtaken those who had perished by their own obstinacy,
added to the joy of that overpowering feeling, notwithstanding the
horror of their fate.

Bearing her rather than leading her, her lover brought Mary to the
shelter of the trees; for though the storm had somewhat abated, the
rain was still coming down heavily; and there, while the tears poured
fast from her beautiful eyes, one or two of the stout English archers,
who had known her well at Dunbury, came quietly up and kissed her
hand. The Count of St. Paul and his men stood looking on; Sir John
Grey gazed upon the lover and the lady with a silent smile; and they
themselves spoke not for many minutes, so intense were the emotions of
their hearts.

At length, however, after a few low words of explanation with the
Count of St. Paul, the old knight advanced to Woodville's side and
took his hand, saying, "What, not a word to me, Richard?"

The young knight put his hand to his brow, and gazed at Mary's father
in surprise, so different seemed his tone from that of the letter he
had received.

"The surprise of seeing you here, noble knight," he answered, in a
confused manner; "the joy of having been brought, as it were, by
Heaven's own hand to save this dear lady, when I least expected to
meet with her--all confounds me and takes away my words."

"Surprise at seeing us!" repeated Sir John Grey, in a tone of
astonishment. "When you least expected to meet with her!--Have you not
received my letter by the post of the Count of Charolois?"

"One letter, sir knight, I did receive," replied Woodville; "but it
gave me no thought that I should see you here."

The knight gazed at him for an instant, with a look that seemed
expressive of doubt as well as wonder. "Here is some mistake," he
said. "I trust, my young friend, this catastrophe has not shaken your
brain. But one letter have I written, and therein I besought you to
meet us at Givet or at Dinant."

Richard of Woodville replied not, but beckoned to his page; and when
the boy hurried up, took from him the gibecière which hung over his
shoulder. With a hand hasty and agitated, he unfastened the three
buttons and loops which closed it, and drew forth a paper, which in
silence he placed in the hands of Sir John Grey.

The knight took it, gazed on the superscription, examined the seal,
and then turned to the contents; but instantly exclaimed, as he read,
"This is not mine! This is a fraud! I never wrote these words. The
outside is from my hand; the seal, too, is seemingly my own; but not
one of these harsh terms did I indite."

"Then I thank God!" replied Richard of Woodville, grasping his hand
eagerly. "Nay, more, I thank the man who wrote it, though it may seem
strange, noble knight. But perchance, had it not been for this and the
despair it brought with it, I might have listened to the kind friends
who would fain have persuaded me not to risk my life, or, as they
thought, to lose it, for men who were strangers to me."

"What, then," cried Mary, rising from the ground on which she had been
seated, "did you not recognise us?"

"I knew not when I left the shore," replied Richard of Woodville,
"that there was one being on that miserable islet, whom I had ever
beheld before. I merit no guerdon, dear one, for saving you, for I
knew not what I did."

"A thousand and a thousand thanks, Richard," she answered, laying her
fair hand upon his arm; "and far more thanks do I give you, than if
you had perilled more to save me knowingly; for by such a deed, done
for a mere stranger, you show my father that his child has not spoken
of you falsely."

"Nay, dear Mary, I doubt it not," replied Sir John Grey; "by calumny
and malice, all men may be for a time misled; but henceforth, my
child, no one shall do him better justice than myself. You judged from
acts that you had often seen and known; I had none such to judge by.
But should he need defence hereafter, let him appeal to me. This must
seem strange to you, my good lord," he continued, turning to the Count
of St. Paul; "but we will explain it all hereafter. All, at least,
that we can explain--for here is something that we must inquire into
as best we may. This letter has been forged for some base end; but by
whom, or for what, remains a mystery, though perhaps we may all
suspect."

"Everything else seems clear enough," said the Count, with a smile;
"though I understand but half you have said, yet I guess well, here
has been love, and, as so often happens with love, love's traverses;
and, in the end, the happy meed which attends due knightly service to
a fair lady. As soon as my noble cousin appears, though by my faith he
is somewhat long in coming--"

"I see his train, my lord, or I am blind," said the old man-at-arms,
called Carloman. "Do you not perceive a long black line winding on
there down from the hills, near a league distant, like a lean
serpent?"

"No very sweet comparison for a Prince's train," exclaimed the Count
of St. Paul, laughing; "but faith, I see it not. Ah--yes--I catch it
now. 'Tis he, 'tis doubtless he. Then when he comes, sir knight, we
will on to Charleville, where, having dried our dripping clothes, we
will tell the tale of this day's adventure over a pleasant meal: and
will inquire how this deceit has taken place. Has yon young novice
nought to do with it?" he continued, dropping his voice; "he holds
aloof; and though he seems to murmur something to his rosary from time
to time, yet, good faith, I put but small trust in the honesty of
mumbling friars."

"No, no," replied Mary Grey, with a smile, "I will answer for him."

"Ah, ha!" cried the Count, laughing loud, with the rude jocularity of
the day, "look to your lady, Sir Richard, or you may lose her yet. She
answers for the honesty of a monk! By my fay, sweet lady, I would
rather beard John the Bold in his house at Dijon, than do so rash a
thing."

"But I can answer for him, too," replied Sir John Grey, gravely; "for,
though he be now my clerk, he was not with me there, and so had no
occasion to deceive me, even had he been disposed. But yonder,
assuredly, comes the Count. I can see banners and pennons through the
dim shower; but how we are to journey on with you to Charleville I
hardly know, my good lord: for all but what we have brought in our
pouches--horses and clothes and arms, and many a trinket, have gone
down in that poor mill."

"I saw no horses in the stream," said Woodville.

"They were in the court on the other side," replied one of Sir John
Grey's men; "and it had a stone wall. The water was up to the girths
when we got into the second story, and I saw my poor beast, with
bended head and open nostrils, snuffing the tide as it rose whirling
round him. He soon drowned, I fear."

"'Tis but a league to Charleville, or not much more," said the Count,
answering the English knight; "we will dismount some of our men, and
make a litter for the lady and her maidens. Hark ye, Peterkin, ride
back like light to the castle. In the Florence chamber you will find
store of your lady's gear. My good wife is not here, sir knight; but
she has left much of her apparel behind, which, though she be somewhat
fatter than this fair dame, God wot, will serve to clothe her for the
nonce. Ride away fast, boy; bring it to Charleville, and lose no time.
Now to build a litter. Lances may serve for more purposes than one;
and green boughs be curtains as well as canopies. Quick, my men,
quick; let us see if ye be dexterous at such trades."

In about half an hour an advanced party of the Count of Charolois'
band approached the bank of the river; but it was still so swollen,
that though the Count of St. Paul and the two English knights went
down as far as they could, and the rain by this time had well nigh
ceased, the distance across, and the roaring of the stream, prevented
their voices from being heard at the other side. While they were still
striving to make the men comprehend that the bridge had been carried
away, and that they must ride farther down the river, the young Count
himself and the Lord of Croy, with a number of other knights and
noblemen, appeared; and by signs, as words were vain, the Lord of St.
Paul explained his meaning to them. He himself with his own party
waited for about a quarter of an hour longer, till the hasty litter
was prepared for Mary Grey; and then, with some on foot, and some on
horseback, they moved on towards the point of rendezvous at
Charleville.

It was a happy evening that which they passed in Charleville, for
there is nought which so heightens the zest of pleasure as remembered
pain; nought that so brightens the sense of security as danger past.
All was bustle and confusion in the little town, which was not then
fortified; every inn was full, every house was occupied; but it was
willing bustle and gay confusion. From one hostel to another, parties
were going every moment, and the door of that at which the young Count
of Charolois had taken up his quarters, was besieged both by the
townspeople and his own friends and followers. The tale of the swollen
torrent, and the mill swept away, was told to the noble Prince by the
Lord of St. Paul and Sir John Grey; and when Richard of Woodville, who
had lingered a little with Mary Grey, appeared, the Count grasped his
hand with a generous warmth, which was very winning in one so high,
calling him frequently his friend; and then turning to Sir John Grey,
he demanded, "Said I not, noble knight, of what stuff he was made?"

"You did him but justice, my good lord," replied the knight; "and I do
him full justice now. Well has he won his lady's hand, and he shall
have it."

"Come!" cried the Prince, starting up; "I will go offer her my homage,
too. But why should we not see the wedding ere we part, Sir John?"

"Nay, nay, my lord," answered the English knight; "I have grown proud
with restored prosperity; and my child must go to the altar in my own
land, and with my own old followers round me."

Oh, slow age, how tardy is it to yield to the eager haste of youth!
But Sir John Grey added words still less pleasant to the ear of
Richard of Woodville. "When I return from the Court of the Emperor, my
noble Prince," he continued, "I speed back at once to Westminster. I
trust that your expedition will then be over; and Sir Richard here may
follow me with all speed. Once there, I will not make him wait."

Such was the first intimation Woodville had received of the course
that lay before him and Sir John Grey; for the previous moments had
passed in words of tenderness with her he loved, and in long, but not
uninteresting, explanations with her father. He had hoped that their
paths would lie together; and, without inquiring what motive should
carry Sir John Grey with the Count of Charolois into the Duchy of
Burgundy, he had arrived at the conclusion, that the knight's steps
were bent thither as well as his own. It was a bitter disappointment,
for imagination in such cases is ever the handmaid of hope; and
Richard of Woodville had fancied that, in the course of the long
expedition before them, many an opportunity must occur for urging upon
Sir John Grey his petition for Mary's hand. Now, however, they were
again about to be separated, with wide lands between them, and with
the certainty of months, perhaps years, elapsing ere they met again.

It is strange, it is very strange, and scarcely to be accounted for,
that people advanced in life, and experienced in the uncertainty of
all life's things, seem to have a confidence in the future which the
young do not possess. They delay, they put off without fear or
apprehension; they calculate as if with certainty upon the time to
come; while eager youth, on the contrary, at the very name of
procrastination conjures up every difficulty and obstacle, every
change and chance, not alone within the range of probability, but
within the reach of fate. Perhaps it is, that the old have acquired a
juster appreciation of all mortal joy; perhaps it is, that the keen
edge of anticipation being dulled in themselves, they cannot
comprehend the impatience of others: that, knowing how little any
earthly gratification is really worth, they think it but a small
matter, not meriting much thought, whether the hand of the future
snatches the desired object from us or not, whether the butterfly,
enjoyment, be caught by the boy that chases it, or escape.

So it is, however: Sir John Grey seemed not even to understand or to
perceive the pain he was inflicting upon the lover; and, as Woodville
knew that it would be of no use to argue, he made up his mind to enjoy
the present as much as might be, and then with Mary's love for his
guidance and encouragement, to seek honour and advancement in the
fields before him.

After a few more words he accompanied the Count of Charolois, with the
principal nobles of his train and Sir John Grey, to the hostel where
the English knight had taken up his abode; but, as they entered, the
eyes of Richard of Woodville fell upon the figure of a poor
disconsolate looking boy, who stood near, with his arms folded on his
chest, and his eyes bent down upon the ground, without being once
lifted to the gay and glittering group that was passing in; and
pointing him out to the Lord of St. Paul, the young knight said, "He
was one of those saved from the mill, my lord; and, if I mistake not,
he is of kin to some of the men who perished."

"Come hither, boy," said the Constable; "who art thou?"

"I am Edmé Mark, my lord," replied the boy, looking up with tearful
eyes; "and all my friends are dead."

"Then are you the miller's son?" inquired the Lord of St. Paul.

"No, sir, his nephew," the boy answered, in the jargon of his country.

"Faith, then, we must do something for you," rejoined the nobleman.
"Will you ride with me and be my _coustelier_, or with that knight?"

"I would rather go with him," cried the boy, pointing to the young
Englishman, "for he saved my life."

"Well, then, take him with you, Sir Richard," said the Lord of St.
Paul. "You want to swell your band."

"Good faith, I have need, my lord," answered Richard of Woodville;
"for the three men I left behind me when I came from Ghent, have never
rejoined me."

"I saw some Englishmen with the Count's train in the court of his
hostel," replied the Lord of St. Paul. "I knew them by their flat
cuirasses, and their long arrows."

"Ah, I marked them not," answered Richard of Woodville; "but I will go
and see.--Come hither with me, boy," he continued; and, followed by
the lad, he retrod his steps in haste to the inn where he had found
the Count. In the court he saw nothing but Flemings and Burgundians;
but in the stables, tending their horses, he found the three men whom
he sought, and who now informed him, in the brief and scanty words of
the English peasant, that they had escorted Ella Brune to Bruges, and
there had left her, she having assured them that she was safe, and
required their protection no farther. They had then immediately
returned to Ghent; for they had never received the written order which
their leader had sent to them; and, having obtained speech of the
Count of Charolois, had accompanied him on his expedition, according
to his commands. Richard of Woodville mused over this intelligence for
some minutes; and then, after placing the boy Edmé in their hands,
with orders to take care of him, he hurried back to her he loved.

For three or four days Sir John Grey took advantage of the escort of
the Count of Charolois, on his journey towards the Imperial Court,
purchasing horses and clothing where he could find them, to supply the
place of those lost in the torrent. During that time, as may be
supposed, Richard of Woodville was constantly by Mary's side, and it
passed happily to both: nor did any incident occur worthy of record
here, till they reached the town of Bar, where they were destined to
part. The last conversation that took place between them ere they
separated, was in regard to Ella Brune, led on by a half jesting
question addressed to Mary by her lover, if she had really never felt
jealousy or doubt when so many suspected.

"Neither, Richard," she answered. "I could not suspect you; and
besides, I had myself told that poor girl, that I would never doubt or
be jealous; and I blamed you to her, Richard, for not taking her, when
first she sought to go."

"She seems to have the gift of winning confidence, my Mary," replied
the young knight; "and a blessed gift it is."

"'Tis only gained by deserving it, Richard, and not always then,"
answered Mary Markham: "but one cannot well doubt her, either. When
one sees a clear stream flowing on abundantly, we judge that the
source is pure; and all her thoughts gush so limpid from the heart, we
cannot doubt that heart to be unpolluted too."

"Would that we knew where she is, my Mary," said Richard of Woodville,
thoughtfully. "I fear for her much, left in the same land with that
base villain, who has so persecuted her, and of whose dark wiles there
seems no end."

"She is safe, she is safe," exclaimed the lady; "I have heard of her
since she departed. She is safe, and with friends able and willing to
protect her, I know; but I fear, indeed, that what you say is true in
regard to that traitor, Simeon of Roydon. Do you doubt, Richard, that
this forged letter from my father was some contrivance of his?"

"And yet," answered Woodville, "we can by no means trace it to him.
The messenger declares he brought the packet as he received it. The
Count says he placed your father's and his own together, and gave them
to his page, who, in turn, vows he carried them straight to the
messenger."

"It is strange, indeed," said Mary; "but as to poor Ella, she is safe;
and wherever I am, I will do my best to befriend her, Richard."

They were alone; and he pressed her to his heart with feelings far
brighter, far tenderer than mere passion; for beauty is but the
expression of excellence; and when we find the substance, oh, how much
more deeply we love it than the picture! The fairest features that
ever were chiselled by the hand of nature, the sweetest form that ever
woke wild emotions in the breast, could never have produced in the
heart of Richard of Woodville, the sensations that he then felt
towards Mary Grey.

Ere long they parted; and while she with her father wended on towards
the Court of the Emperor--Sir John Grey, acting as a sort of precursor
to the more splendid embassy soon after sent by Henry V.--the young
knight followed the Count of Charolois to Dijon and Besançon, and
aided to raise that force with which John the Bold soon after took the
field against the rival faction of Armagnac, then all-powerful in the
Court of France.



                            CHAPTER XXXV.

                         THE DISAPPOINTMENT.


Months had passed. The clang of trumpets and timbrels had sounded
beneath the walls of Paris, from morning till well nigh vespers; and
the clear blue country sky was glowing with the last rays of the sun
before he set. But, still the redoubted chivalry of Burgundy, with
glittering arms and royal pageantry, stood upon the frosty ground
before the gates, the towers of which were crowded with armed men who
dared not issue forth to meet their enemies in the field, less because
they doubted their own strength--for they were treble at least in
number--than because they knew that, within that city, the popular
heart beat high to take part with the bold Duke John, "the people's
friend."

Faults he had many; crimes of a dark dye he had committed; the blood
of the Duke of Orleans was fresh upon his hand; but his princely
generosity, his daring courage, and more than all, his love of the
Commons, a body grown everywhere already into terrible importance,
wiped out all stains in the eyes of the citizens of Paris; and they
longed to build up once more the fabric of his power on the ruin of
those proud nobles, who, still in their attachment to pure feudal
institutions, looked upon the craftsman and the merchant as little
better than half emancipated serfs.

Long ere this period, the power of the middle classes had grown into
an engine which might be guided, but could not be resisted without
danger. In England, its influence had first been recognised by the
great De Montford, who had wisely attempted to direct its young
energies in a just and beneficial course; for which the land we live
in--nay, perhaps the world--owes him still a deep debt of gratitude.
Influenced by the character of the nation, its progress in this
country was marked by slow but steady increase of strength; and it
went on gaining fresh vigour, more from the natural result of contests
between the various institutions which it was destined to supersede,
than from its own efforts to extend its sphere. Rebellious nobles
looked to it for aid; kings courted its support; usurpers submitted
more or less their claims to its approval; and from each and all it
obtained concessions. Seldom meeting any severe check--till in long
after years, a fatal effort was made to raise an embankment against
it, when it burst in a deluge over every obstacle--during the early
period of our history it diffused itself calmly, more like the quiet
overflowing of the fertilizing rill, than the rush and destructive
outbreak of a pent-up torrent. But in France such was not the case,
and for ages the struggle to resist it went on; while, partaking of
the fierce but desultory and ungoverned activity of the people, it
sometimes burst forth, sometimes was driven back, till at length its
hour came, and it swept all before it, washing away the seeds of good
and evil alike, and leaving behind a new soil for the plough,
difficult to labour, and fertile of thorns as well as verdure.

In these middle ages of which I write, few were wise enough to see the
existence, and comprehend the inevitable course, of the great latent
principle which was destined to take the place of every other. The
fact--the truth--that all power is from the people, and that wisdom is
the helm which must guide it, was a discovery of after times; and was,
moreover, so repugnant to the spirit of the feudal system--that
strange, but great ideal--that in the land where feudal institutions
were most perfect, the men who owed them all, never dreamed that they
could be swept away by the seemingly weak and homely influences which
they were accustomed to use at their will: even as our ancestors, not
many years ago, little imagined that the vapour which rose from the
simmering kettle of the peasant or the mechanic, would one day waft
navies through the ocean, and reduce space to nothing.

If there were any in that land of France who, without a foresight of
what was to be, merely owned the existence of a great popular power,
it was but to use it for their own purposes, ever prepared to check it
the moment it had served their object. Some, indeed, in habits of mind
and disposition, were of a character to win its aid by demeanour and
conduct, and such was pre-eminently John the Bold. Strange too, to
say, that very chivalrous spirit which characterized so many of his
actions, won to his side a great body of the nobles without alienating
the middle and the lower classes; but it was, that he was more the
knight than the feudal baron--more the sovereign than the great lord.
It must never be forgotten, in viewing the history of those times,
that the original object of the institution of chivalry, was to
correct the evils of the feudal system; to strike the rod from the
hand of the oppressor, to defend the defenceless, and to right the
wronged; and had chivalry remained in its purity, it might have
averted long the downfall of the system with which it was linked. The
people loved the true knight as much as they hated the feudal lord;
and long after the decay of the order, even the affectation of its
higher qualities both won regard from the lower classes, and excited
the admiration of all those above them, who retained any sparks of the
spirit which once animated it.

Thus, the Duke of Burgundy, though surrounded by many of the highest
in the land, and possessed of their affection in an extraordinary
degree, was popular with the trader in his shop, and the peasant in
his cot. Town after town had opened its gates to him as he advanced;
and now he stood before the gates of Paris, trusting to the citizens
to rise and give him admission. But the love with which he was
regarded by the people was as well known to others as to himself, and
all chance of a demonstration in his favour had been guarded against
with the most scrupulous care. The Dauphin Duke of Aquitaine, whether
willingly or unwillingly it is difficult to say, marched through the
streets of the capital surrounded by the family of Orleans, and the
partizans of Armagnac, and followed by no less than eleven thousand
men-at-arms, exhorting the populace in every quarter, by the voice of
a herald, to remain tranquil, and resist the suggestions of the agents
of the Burgundian faction: "and thus," says one of the historians of
the day, "they provided so well for the guard of the town, that no
inconvenience occurred."

The walls and gates were covered with soldiery; the heralds and
messengers of the Duke were not suffered to approach, though their
words were peaceful; and some of the Burgundian nobles who ventured
too near, in order to speak with those whom they thought personally
friendly, were driven back by arrows and quarrels. Even the kings of
arms were threatened with death if they approached within bow-shot;
and, though one was found bold enough to fix the letters of which he
was the bearer, on a lance before the gate of St. Anthony, and others
contrived to obtain secret admission into the town, to distribute the
Duke's proclamation amongst the people, and even affix copies to the
gates of the churches and palaces, so strict was watch kept upon the
citizens, that a rising was impossible.

Disappointed and angry, but with apparent scorn, the Duke, who had not
sufficient forces to render an attack upon the wall successful, even
if it had been politic to make it, withdrew to St. Denis at nightfall;
and the menacing array disappeared from before Paris, like a pageant
that had passed away. The leaders of the troops of Burgundy, separated
from those of Flanders and Artois, took up their abode where they had
been quartered in the morning, at the hostel called "the Lance,"
nearly opposite to the abbey; and, while the Duke remained for several
hours closeted with some of his oldest councillors, the Lord of Croy
drew Richard of Woodville apart from the rest, and whispered that he
wished to speak with him alone in his chamber.

The young knight followed him at once; for the intimacy which had
arisen between them at Lille, and on the road to Ghent, had ripened
into friendship during their long expedition into Burgundy; and
without preface, the noble Burgundian exclaimed, as soon as the door
was closed, "This will not go forward, Woodville. The Duke, bold as he
is, will not strike a stroke against the King's capital, with the King
therein. I see it well; and, with this enterprise, passes away my hope
of delivering my poor boy John, who lies, as you know, a prisoner at
Montl'herry, unless I can take some counsel for his aid."

"Nay, my good lord," replied Richard, with a smile; "doubtless you
have taken counsel already, and all I can say is, that if I can aid
you, my hand is ready. Can you not march to Montl'herry, and deliver
him? The country is clear of men, for every one capable of bearing
arms for the enemy, has been gathered into Paris."

"I have thought of it, Woodville," replied the Lord of Croy; "but a
large body moving across the country would soon call the foe forth in
great numbers; and, moreover, my lord the Duke could ill spare so many
men as your band and mine would carry off. But I would give my land of
Nuranville to any one who would lead a small party to Montl'herry, and
set free the boy, as I have planned it."

"Ah, my lord, I thought your scheme was fixed," said the young knight,
laughing at the circuitous manner in which his friend had announced
his wishes. "Let me know what it is, and as I said before, if I can
succour your son, I am ready."

"To say truth, it is the boy's own device," replied the Burgundian;
"he has made a friend of the chaplain in the castle, where they hold
him; and by this good man's hands I receive letters from him. He tells
me that, if a small body of resolute gentlemen, not well known to be
of our party, could enter the town and keep themselves quiet therein
for one day, he could find means to go forth to mass and escape under
their escort. I have chosen out twenty of my surest men; but, as it
was needful that they should pass for followers of the Duke of
Orleans, I could not send any one to command them who had gained much
renown in France, lest he should be known. Thus they want a leader;
and where can I find one of sufficient experience, and yet not likely
to be recognised, if you refuse me?"

"That will I not, my lord," replied Richard of Woodville; "but I must
have the Duke's leave. Who are the men to go with me? I know most of
those under your banner."

"Lamont de Launoy," replied the Burgundian, "Villemont de Montebard,
whom you know well; and Jean Roussel are amongst them. Then, as for
the Duke's leave, that is already gained; for I spoke to him as we
marched back tonight; and he himself suggested that you should lead
the party, because you speak the French tongue well, and yet your face
is unknown in France."

"A work of honour and of friendship shall never find me behind, my
lord," replied the young knight; "and I will be ready to mount an hour
before daylight; but I must have full command, my lord. Some of your
men are turbulent; so school them well to obey; and, in the mean time,
I will despatch a letter or two, for good and evil news have reached
me here together."

"The good from your fair lady, I can guess," said the Lord of Croy,
"for I have heard to-day of her father's journey back through Ghent
towards England. The evil is not without remedy, I trust?"

"No, I trust not," replied Woodville; "it comes from a dear friend of
mine, Sir Henry Dacre, who writes word that some one has done me harm
in the King's opinion, and speaks of letters sent from his Highness
long ago, requiring my return, surely delivered, and yet unnoticed and
unanswered. Now, no such letters ever reached my hand; nor can I dream
who could have power to wrong me with King Henry; for the only one
inclined to do so is a banished man."

"Three times have I remarked a stranger amongst your people, since we
were at Charleville," answered the Lord of Croy; "once it was at
Besançon, once at Toul, and the other day again at Compiegne. His face
is unknown to me, and yet he was talking gaily with your band, as if
he were one of them; but he stayed not long; for this last time, I saw
him as I passed through the court of the inn, and he was gone when I
returned."

"It shall be inquired into," replied Richard of Woodville. "But now I
must to these letters, my good lord; and tomorrow, an hour ere
daybreak, I will be in the saddle. Pray God give us success, and that
I may restore your son to your arms."

The Lord of Croy thanked him as such prompt kindness might well merit,
and took his leave; but as soon as he was gone, Richard of Woodville
leaned his head upon his hand in thought, and with a somewhat dark and
gloomy brow remained in meditation for several minutes.

"What is it makes me so sad?" he asked himself; "it cannot be this
empty piece of malice, from some unworthy fool, whose calumnies I can
sweep away in a moment, and whose contrivances I can frustrate by a
word of plain truth. The King does not believe that I would contemn
his commands--in his heart he does not, I am sure! Yet I feel as if
some great misfortune hung upon the wings of the coming hours!
Perchance I may fall in this very enterprise. Who can tell? Many a man
finds his fate in some petty skirmish who has passed through stricken
fields unwounded. The lion-hearted Richard himself brought his life
safe from Palestine, and a thousand glorious fields--from dangers of
all kinds, sufferings, and imprisonment, to lose it before the walls
of a pitiful castle scarce bigger than a cottage. Well, what is to be,
will be; but I must provide against any event;" and, calling some of
his men to speak with him, he told them that he was about to be absent
for three days, taking no one with him but his page. He then gave them
directions, in case of any mischance befalling him, either to find
their way back to England, or to continue to serve with the band of
the Lord of Croy; but, at all events, unless specially summoned by the
King of England, not to quit the Duke as long as he remained in the
field. This done, he turned to his letters, and remained writing till
a late hour of the night.



                            CHAPTER XXXVI.

                            THE DISASTER.


In the square of the pretty town of Montl'herry, nearly opposite the
church, and under the domineering walls of the château, were two
hostels, or inns, the one called the Wheatsheaf, and the other the
Bunch of Grapes; for, in those days, as in the present time, the
houses of public reception were not only more numerous in France than
in any country in the world, but were ornamented with signs taken from
almost every object under the sun, and from a great many that the sun
never shone upon. As every one knows, the little town of Montl'herry
is situated on a high isolated and picturesque hill; and down one of
the streets running from the _Place_ or square, could at that time be
seen the rich plain stretching out by Longpont to Plessis-Saint Père,
with the numerous roads which cross it in different directions towards
Epinay, Ville-aux-bois, and other small towns, as well as the highway
towards Paris.

Before these two inns on the morning of a cold but clear day, towards
the end of February, were collected some twenty men-at-arms, who had
been lodging there from the night before, and who seemed now preparing
to ride away upon their farther journey, after the morning meal, then
called dinner, should have been discussed. In the meantime, they were
undergoing a sort of inspection from their leader, a young man of a
tall and powerful frame, and a handsome and engaging countenance,
bronzed with the sun and marked with a scar upon his brow. Though he
moved easily and gracefully under the weight, he was covered with
complete armour from the neck to the heels, which displayed the spurs
of knighthood. His casque lay upon the bench at the door of the
Wheatsheaf, and leaning negligently against the wall of the inn
appeared the lances of the men-at-arms, who each stood beside his
horse, while the knight passed from one to another, making some
observation to each, sometimes in a tone of reproof, sometimes in
words of praise. The host of one of the inns stood before his door
observing their proceedings, and some half-a-dozen little boys were
spending their idleness in gazing at the glittering soldiery.

Towering above appeared the ancient castle held by the partizans of
the Orleans or Armagnac faction; and when it is remembered that these
below were soldiers of the House of Burgundy, and that the young
knight at their head was Richard of Woodville, it must be acknowledged
that this was a somewhat bold stratagem thus to parade a body of
hostile troops in the midst of an enemy's town. The young leader,
however, well knew that nothing but the assumption of perfect ease and
security could escape suspicion, and confirm the tale which had been
told of his band being a party of the men of Orleans.

The gate of the castle he could not see; but from time to time as he
passed from one man to another, he looked round to the door of the
church, and presently, as the clock struck, he held up his fingers,
saying, "What hour is that?" and then as he counted, he turned
somewhat sharply to the host, exclaiming, "By the Lord, you have kept
us so late for our dinner, that we shall have time to take none. Bring
the men out some wine. Quick, my men, quick. On with your bacinets!"

The host assured him that the meal would be served in a minute; but
the knight replied, "A minute! Did you not tell me so half an hour
ago? Quick, bring out the wine, or we shall be obliged to go without
that. What do you think our lord will say, if we wait for your
minutes?" and while the host retired to bring the wine, the men
assumed their casques, and Richard of Woodville whispered to one who
seemed superior to the rest--"He is in the church. I saw him go in
with the priest."

"So did I," replied the other; "but he has got a guard with him."

"We must not mind that," replied Woodville; "we shall have some start
of them; for they will all be at dinner in the castle--no horses
saddled, no armour buckled on. Mount, my men, mount. You can drink in
the stirrups. Now, boy, give me my casque."

The page ran and brought the bacinet; the host returned with the wine;
and each man drank a deep draught and handed the cup and tankard to
his neighbour. Richard of Woodville then sprang into his saddle, his
page mounted, and taking the bridle of a spare horse, which was then
very generally led after the commander of a party, followed his lord,
as, with his lance in his hand, he headed his little troop, and took
his way across the Place, saying aloud, as he rode slowly forward,
"One prayer to our Lady, and I am with you."

The host gazed after them to the door of the church, but thought it
nothing extraordinary that a young knight should follow so common and
laudable a custom as beginning a journey with a petition for
protection. When, therefore, Richard of Woodville dismounted with two
of his men, and entered the sacred building, he turned himself into
his own house again, and applied himself to other affairs. In the
meanwhile, the knight strode up the nave, looking around him as he
went, while his two companions followed close behind.

Some half dozen women, principally of the lower orders, were the only
persons at first visible; but in one of the small chapels, from which
the sound of a voice singing mass was heard, they soon after perceived
a young gentleman, habited in the garb of peace, kneeling at a little
distance from the altar, before which stood a priest in robes,
performing the functions of his office.

"That is he," whispered one of the Burgundians to Richard of
Woodville, and advancing straight to the young Lord of Croy, the
knight took him by the arm, saying, in a low tone, "You are wanted,
John of Croy. Where is the guard who was with you?"

"Somewhere in the church, speaking with a woman who was to meet him
here," said the young lord, rising. "Perhaps we may get out without
his seeing us."

"Never mind if he do," said Richard of Woodville; "we shall be far on
the way before they are in the saddle;" and hurrying on with the young
Lord of Croy, he reached the door of the church without interruption.
The priest could not but see the whole of their proceedings, but he
took no notice, going on with the service devoutly.

The clang of the step of armed men, however, had caught another ear;
and just as the young Lord of Croy was passing out, a voice was heard
exclaiming, "Whither are you going, young sir?"

Richard of Woodville turned his head and replied, "Home!" and then
issuing forth, closed the door, and thrust his dagger through the
staple that confined the large heavy latch. The horse led by the page
was close at hand; and John of Croy, with his deliverers, sprang into
the saddle, and rode out of Montl'herry at full speed.[11]


---------------------

[Footnote 11: It is a strange omission on the part of the historians
of the day, that in relating the escape of John of Croy, they have not
mentioned the name of Richard of Woodville.]

---------------------


The precaution of the English knight in fastening the door proved less
serviceable than he had hoped, however; for as they passed down the
street, he turned and saw the man who had been sent to guard the
prisoner--having found exit by some other means--running as fast as he
could go towards the castle; and when they reached the foot of the
hill, the sound of a trumpet came, borne upon the breeze from above.

On, on, the little party hurried, however; and they had already gained
so much ground, that every prospect of escape seemed before them. But
unfortunately, no one was well acquainted with the road: Richard of
Woodville and his company had found their way thither as best they
could; and the young Lord of Croy, who was at the head of the band,
while Woodville brought up the rear, turned into a wrong path in the
wood near Longpont, so that some time was lost ere they got right
again. They were just issuing forth on a road which leads to the left
of Lonjumeau, when the sound of pursuit caught the ear; and at the
same moment the horse of the page stumbled and fell.

"Up, up, boy!" cried Richard of Woodville, drawing in his rein, as he
had nearly trodden the poor youth under his horse's feet; and then
adding to those before, "Ride on! ride on!" he stooped and held out
his hand to the lad, who staggered up, confused and half stunned with
the fall. Before the horse could be raised, and the youth mount,
coming round the angle of the wood, by a shorter cut, appeared the
pursuers from Montl'herry. The Burgundians had followed the order to
ride on, which, had they been the young knight's own band, they might,
under the circumstances, have perchance disobeyed. Woodville gazed
after them, turned his eyes towards the enemy--the foremost of whom
was not more than a hundred yards distant--took one moment for
consideration; and then, setting his lance in the rest, he spurred on
towards the enemy. The man met him in full career; but, not prepared
for such a sudden encounter, was unhorsed in a moment, and the two or
three who followed, pulled in the rein. The young knight's object was
gained; their pursuit was checked; and the advantage of even a few
minutes was everything for the young Lord of Croy.

"Surrender, knight, surrender!" cried the voice of one of the opposite
party; but Woodville, though he well knew that such must be the result
at last, resolved to struggle for a farther delay; and exclaiming,
"What! to half-a-dozen squires? Never! never!" he reined back his
horse, as if to take ground for a fresh career, and again charged his
lance which had remained unsplintered, while his page rode up behind,
asking, "May I fight too, noble sir?"

"No, boy, no! Keep back!" cried the knight; and at the same moment a
more numerous party appeared to the support of the Armagnacs, led by a
baron's banner. They bore down straight towards him, some one still
calling upon him to surrender; and, seeing that farther resistance was
vain, Woodville raised his lance and took off his gauntlet as a sign
that he yielded.

"After them, like lightning!" cried the voice of a gentleman in a suit
of richly ornamented steel. "A knight is a good exchange for a squire;
but we must not let the other escape.--Now, fair sir, do you yield,
rescue or no rescue?"

"I do," answered the young knight; "there is my glove, and I give you
my faith."

"Pray let us see your face," continued the nobleman, raising his own
vizor, while the greater part of his troop rode on after the young
Lord of Croy. Richard of Woodville followed his example; but neither
was known to the other, though as it afterwards proved they had once
met before.

"May I ask your name, fair sir?" demanded the captor, in the courteous
tone then used between adversaries.

"Richard of Woodville," replied the young knight; and a smile
instantly came upon the countenance of the other, who replied, "A
follower of Burgundy, or I mistake. I regret I was not up sooner, good
knight; for if the heralds gave me the name truly, I owe you a fall.
When last we met, I was neither horsed nor armed for combat properly.
The chance might have been different this time."

"Perhaps it might, my Lord the Count," answered Woodville; "fortune is
one man's to-day, another's to-morrow. Mine is the turn of ill luck,
else had I not been here a prisoner."

"I bear no malice, sir," rejoined the Lord of Vaudemont; "but if you
please, we will ride back to Montl'herry;" and following the
invitation, which was now a command, the young knight accompanied his
captor, saying to himself, "I felt that this enterprise would end ill,
for me at least."

He knew not how far the evil was to extend.



                           CHAPTER XXXVII.

                            THE CAPTIVITY.


Oh, the long and tedious hours of imprisonment! how they weigh down
the stoutest heart! How soul and mind seem fettered as well as body;
and how the chain grows heavier every hour we wear it! Days and weeks
passed by; weeks and months flew away; and, strictly confined to one
small chamber in the castle of Montl'herry, Richard of Woodville
remained a prisoner.

The Count of Vaudemont, courteous in words, showed himself aught but
courteous in deeds. Every tone had been knightly and generous while he
stayed in the château; but no results had followed. He would never fix
the ransom of his captive; he would never hold out any prospect of
liberty; and ere long he departed for Paris, leaving Woodville in the
hands of the Châtelain of the place, who, severely blamed for the
escape of the young Lord of Croy, revenged himself upon him, by whose
aid it had been accomplished. To that one little room, high up in the
château, was Woodville restricted; no exercise was permitted to him,
but the pacing up and down of its narrow limits: no relaxation but to
sing snatches of the old ballads of which he was so fond, or to gaze
from under the pointed arch of the window over the changing scene
below. No one was permitted to see him but his own page, who had been
captured with him, and one of the soldiers of the castle; no book
existed within the walls; and materials for writing, purchased with
difficulty in the town, were only granted him in order to write to the
Lord of Vaudemont concerning his ransom.

At first he remonstrated mildly; but when no other answer arrived, but
that the Count would think of it, he took another tone, reproached him
for his want of courtesy, and reminded him, that though he had
surrendered rescue or no rescue, the refusal of reasonable ransom,
justified him in making his escape whenever the opportunity might
occur.

The Count's reply consisted of but four words, "Escape if you can,"
and from that hour the guard kept upon him became more strict than
before. The weary hours dragged heavily on. Summer succeeded to
spring, and autumn to summer, without anything occurring to cheer the
lonely vacancy of his captivity, but an occasional rumour, brought by
the page or the soldier who acted as jailer, either of the great
events which were then agitating Europe, or of efforts made for his
own liberation. The reports, however, were all vague and uncertain. He
heard of war between France and Burgundy, but could with difficulty
obtain any means of judging which party had gained the ascendancy.
Then he heard of a new peace, as hollow as those which had preceded
it; and with that intelligence came the tidings, which the page gained
from the soldiers of the garrison, that a large ransom had been
offered for him; but whether by the Duke of Burgundy himself, or the
Lord of Croy, he could not correctly ascertain. Next came a rumour of
dissensions between France and England, and of a probable war; but
none of the particulars could be learnt, except that the demands of
Henry V. were in the opinion of the Frenchmen extravagant, and that
the greater part of the nation looked forward with delight to an
opportunity of wiping away the disgrace of Cressy and Poitiers, and
blotting out for ever the treaty of Bretigny.

Oh, what would he have given for his liberty then! All his aspirations
for glory and renown, all his hopes of winning praise and advancement,
all the dreams of young ambition, all the bright imaginations of love,
rose up before him as memories of the dead. Those prison walls were
their cold sepulchre, that solitary chamber the tomb of all the
energies within him. He had well nigh become frantic with
disappointment; but he struggled successfully with the despair of his
own thoughts, as every man of a really powerful mind will do. No one
can obtain full mastery of the minds of others, without having full
mastery of his own. He would not suffer his fancy to dwell upon sad
things; he strove to create for himself objects of interest; and from
the arched window he made himself acquainted as a friend with every
object in the wide-spread scene beneath his eyes. Every church spire,
every castle tower, every belt of wood, every stream and every road,
every hamlet and every house, for miles around, were described and
marked as if he had been mapping the country in his own mind. But it
was only that he was seeking for objects of interest; and he found
them; and variety too, he found; for every hour and every season
brought its change. The varying shadows as day rose or declined; the
different hues of summer and of winter, of autumn and of spring; the
changeful aspect of the April day; the frowning sublimity of the
thunder storm; the cold, stern, desolate gloom of the wintry air, all
gave food to nourish fancy with, and from which he extracted thought
and occupation.

He had withal, one grand support and consolation: the best after the
voice of religion, a conscience clear of offence. He could look back
upon the past and say, I have done well. There was no reproach within
him for opportunities missed, advantages wasted, or ill deeds done;
and often and often, he thought of the first song that poor Ella Brune
had sung him, and of that stanza in which she said,


             "In hours of pain and grief,
                If such thou must endure,
              Thy breast shall know relief
                In honour tried and pure;
              For the true heart and kind,
              Its recompence shall find;
                  Shall win praise,
                  And golden days,
              And live in many a tale."


In the meanwhile his treatment varied greatly at different times.
Sometimes the Châtelain was harsh and severe, refusing him almost
everything that was necessary to his comfort; at others, with the
caprice which is so common amongst rude and uncivilized people, he
would seem joyous and good-humoured: would visit his prisoner, talk
with him, and send him dishes from his own table, permitting many a
little alleviation of his grief, which on former occasions he denied.
In one of these happier moods he allowed the page to buy his master a
cithern, which proved one of the prisoner's greatest comforts and
resources; and not long after, in the summer of 1415, a still greater
change of conduct took place towards him. His table became supplied
with princely liberality; rich wines and dainty meats were daily set
before him; and the page was suffered to go at large about the town to
procure anything his master might require.

One day the boy returned very much heated with exercise, and moved
with what seemed pleasurable feelings; and looking round the room
eagerly, he closed the door with care.

"You have tidings, Will," said the young knight, "and joyful tidings,
too, or I am mistaken."

"I have better than tidings," replied the boy. "I have a letter. Read
it quick, and then hide it. I will go out into the passage, and watch,
lest Joachim come up. He was lolling at the foot of the stairs."

Richard of Woodville took the letter from the boy eagerly, and read
what was written in the outer cover. The words were few, and in a hand
he did not know. "Nothing has been left undone," the writer said, "to
set you free. A baron's ransom has been offered for you and refused.
The Duke of Burgundy required your liberation as one of the terms of
peace, but could not obtain it. The Lord of Croy offered two prisoners
of equal rank, and a ransom besides, but did not succeed. But fear
not; friends are gathering round you. Be prepared to depart at a
moment's notice, and you shall be set free as others have been. The
moment you are free, hasten to England; for you have been belied."

Within this was a short letter from Mary Grey, full of tenderness and
affection, with words and avowals which she might have scrupled to
utter for any other purpose but the generous one of consoling and
supporting him she loved, in sorrow and adversity. Beneath her name
were written a few words from her father, expressive of more kindness,
confidence, and regard, than he had ever previously shown; but he,
too, spoke of the young knight's return to England, as absolutely
necessary for his own defence; and he too alluded to the rumours
against him, without stating what those rumours were.

If there was much to cheer, there was much to distress and grieve; and
Woodville paused for several minutes to think over the contents of
these letters, and to consider what could be the nature of the
calumnies referred to, believing that he had fully refuted the charge
of having neglected to obey the King's command to return to England,
before he set out on the expedition which had been attended by such an
unfortunate result. At length the page looked in, to see if he had
done; and Woodville, bidding him shut the door, inquired from whom he
had received the letters.

"It was from the young clerk, noble sir," replied the boy, "who was
with Sir John Grey at Charleville. I saw a youth in a black gown
wandering about the castle gates some days since; and as I stood alone
upon the drawbridge, about half an hour ago, he passed me again, and
seeing that there was no one there, made me a sign to follow. I walked
after him into the church, and then he gave me the letter for you; but
bade me tell you to be upon your guard, for that there are enemies
near as well as friends. To make sure that you were not deceived, he
said, you were to put trust in no one who did not give you the word,
'Mary Markham.'"

"Hark!" cried Woodville, rising and going to the window. "There are
trumpets sounding!"

"I heard the Lord of Vaudemont was expected to-day," replied the boy.

"And there he is," said Richard of Woodville, watching a body of horse
coming up the hill. "On my honour, if I have speech with him, he shall
hear my full thoughts on his discourteous conduct. But now, hie thee
away, Will. Seek out this young clerk in the town, and ask if he can
convey my answer back to the letters which he brought. I will find
means to write if he can."

"Oh, I can find him," replied the boy, "for he told me where he
lodged: in the house of a widow woman, named Chatain."

"Away, then!" answered Woodville; "let them not find you here."

When he looked forth from the window again, the young knight could no
longer perceive the body of horse he had seen advancing; but the
noises which rose up from the court of the castle below, the clang of
arms, the gay tones of voices laughing and talking, the word of
command, and the shout of the warder, showed him that the party had
already arrived. About an hour passed without his hearing more; but
then came the sound of steps in the passage; the door opened, and
three gentlemen entered, of whom the first was the Count of Vaudemont.
The next was a man several years younger; and the third, a stout
ill-favoured personage, of nearly fifty years of age. None of them
were armed, except with a dagger, usually worn hanging from the waist;
and all were dressed in the extravagant style of the French court in
that day, with every merely ornamental part of dress exaggerated till
it became a monstrosity. Every colour, too, was the brightest that
could be found; each contrasted with the other in the most vivid and
inharmonious assortment, green and red, amber and blue, pink and
yellow, so that each man looked like some gaudy eastern bird new
feathered.

The Lord of Vaudemont was evidently in a light and merry mood, or, at
least, affected it; for he entered laughing, and at once held out his
hand to his prisoner, as if a familiar friend.

Richard of Woodville, however, drew back, saying, "Your pardon, my
good lord. I am a captive, for whom ransom has been refused.--You
forget!"

"Nay, I remember it well, sir knight," replied the Count, laughing
again; "and that you intend to escape. You have not succeeded yet, I
see. However, let me set myself right with you on that head. 'Tis not
I who refuse your ransom. 'Tis my lord, the Duke of Aquitaine, who
will not have you set free just yet, so that I risk my angels if you
have wit enough to find your way out. His commands, however, are
express, and I must obey. My lord the Duke of Orleans, here present,
will witness for me, as well as my lord of Armagnac, that I would far
rather have your gold in my purse, where it is much needed, than your
person in Montl'herry, where it could be well spared."

The young knight regarded the famous nobles, of whom he had heard so
much, with no slight interest; and the Duke of Orleans, drawing a
settle to the table, leaned his head upon his arm in a thoughtful
attitude, saying, "It is quite true, sir; but perhaps that may be
remedied ere long. If you be willing to renounce the cause of
Burgundy, and agree to serve no more against the crown of France, the
difficulty may be removed."

"I have no purpose, sir, to ride for that good lord, the Duke, any
more," answered Richard of Woodville; "I did but seek his Court to win
honour and renown; but now I am called to England by many motives, so
that I may well promise not to serve with him again; but if your
proposal goes farther, and you would have me give my knightly word,
not to fight for my Sovereign against any power on earth where he may
need my arm, I must at once say no. I am his vassal, and will do my
duty according to my oath, whenever he shall call upon me. He is my
liege lord; and--"

"There are some Englishmen, and not a few," said the Count of
Armagnac, in a harsh and grating tone of voice, "who do not hold him
to be such, but rather an usurper. Edmund, Earl of March, is your
liege lord, young knight."

"He has never claimed that title, noble sir," answered Richard of
Woodville; "and indeed, has renounced it, by swearing allegiance
himself to his great cousin."

"Compulsion, all compulsion," said the Duke of Orleans; "we shall yet
see him on the throne of England."

"I trust not, my lord the Duke," answered the English knight; "but if
the plea of compulsion can, in your eyes, justify the breach of an
oath, how could you expect me to keep a promise made, not to serve
against this crown of France, here in a prison?"

"But why say you, that you trust not to see him on the throne?" asked
the Count of Armagnac, evading the part of Woodville's reply which he
would have found difficult to answer. "He is surely a noble and
courteous gentleman, full of high virtues."

"Far inferior in all to his royal cousin," answered the knight; "but
it is not on that account alone I say so, but for many reasons. We
Englishmen believe that our crown is held by somewhat different rights
from yours of France. At the coronations of our kings, we by our free
voices confirm them on their throne. The people of England have a say
in the question of a monarch's title; and without that recognition
they are not kings of England. To our present sovereign, the nobles of
the land offered their homage ere the crown was placed upon his brow;
but he, as wise in this as in all else, would receive none till he was
proclaimed King, not by a herald's trumpet, but by the tongues of
Englishmen. Besides, I say, I trust I shall never see the Earl of
March wearing the English crown, because I hope never to see an
honourable nobleman forget his oath, nor a perjured monarch on the
throne."

"And yet your fourth Harry forgot his," said the Duke of Orleans.

"Not till intolerable wrongs and base injustice drove him to it,"
answered the knight; "not till the monarch so far forgot his compact
with the subject, as to free him from remembrance of his part of the
obligation. Besides, I was then a boy; I found a sovereign reigning by
the voice of the people; to him I pledged my first oath of fealty. I
have since pledged it to his son; and I will keep it."

The two Counts and the Duke looked at each other with a significant
glance; and after a moment's consideration, the Count of Vaudemont
changed the subject, saying, "Well, good knight, such are your
thoughts. We may judge differently. But say, how have you fared
lately? I heard that our worthy Châtelain here had been somewhat harsh
with you, resolving that you should not play him such a trick as the
boy of Croy; and I ordered that such treatment should be amended. Has
it been done? I would not have you used unworthily."

"It has been done in some points, my lord," replied Richard of
Woodville, "but not in all."

"Nay, good faith, with warning from your own lips that you sought to
escape," answered the Count, "he was right not to relax on all
points."

"But some he might have relaxed, yet held me safe," rejoined the young
knight. "I have been cut off from all means of holding any communion
with my friends, though it was most needful that I should urge them to
offer what terms might find favour for my liberation. I have been kept
more like some felon subject of this land, than a fair prisoner of
war."

"Nay, that must be changed," said the Duke of Orleans; "such was not
your intention, I am sure, De Vaudemont?"

"By no means, noble Duke," answered the Count. "I will take order that
it be so no more. You shall have liberty to write to whom you will,
sir knight; and, indeed, having a courier going soon to England, you
will have the means right soon, if you will, of sending letters. I
have heard," he added with a laugh, "that there is a certain noble
gentleman of the name of Grey, with whom you have some dear
relations--much in King Henry's confidence, if I mistake not.
Perchance, were he to use his influence with that Prince, something
might be done to mitigate the Dauphin's sternness. We are still
negotiating with England, though, by my faith, these preparations at
Southampton, and this purchase of vessels from the Hollanders, looks
more warlike than one might have wished."

"If my liberation, noble Count, depends on Sir John Grey's using his
influence for ought but his Sovereign's interests," replied Richard of
Woodville, "I fear I shall be long a captive. However, to him will be,
perchance, my only letter; for he can communicate with other friends."

"Do as you will, noble lords," cried the Count of Armagnac, who had
been sitting silent for some time, gnawing his nail in gloomy
meditation; "but were I you I would suffer no such letters to pass.
They will but tend to counteract all that you desire. Here you have in
your hands one of the hearty enemies of France: that is clear from
every word,--one who, at all risks, would urge his sovereign to deeds
of hostility against us, when we are already wrung by internal
discord. Why should you suffer him to pour such poison into the hearts
of his countrymen?"

"Nay, nay," replied the Count of Vaudemont; "my word is given, and I
cannot retract it. We are less harsh than you, my lord, and doubt not
that this noble knight will say nothing against the cause of those who
grant him this permission."

"On no such subjects will I treat, sirs," answered Richard of
Woodville; "the matter of my letter will be simple enough, my own
liberation being all the object."

"You must be quick, however," said the Lord of Vaudemont; "for, at
morning song, to-morrow, the messenger departs."

The young knight replied that his letters would be ready in an hour,
and the three noblemen withdrew for a moment; but he could hear that
they continued speaking together in the passage; and the next instant,
the Duke of Orleans and the Count of Armagnac returned. "We cannot
suffer long letters, sir knight," said the latter, as soon as he
entered; "if all you wish is to treat for your ransom, and to induce
your friends to exert themselves for your liberation, you can send
messages by word of mouth, which we can hear and judge of."

"But how will my friends know that such messages really come from me?"
demanded Woodville, with deep mortification.

"Why," replied the Count, after a moment's thought, "you may send a
few words in the French tongue, in our presence--for we have heard of
inks and inventions which escape the eye of all but the persons for
whom they are intended--you may send a few words, I say, merely
telling the gentlemen to whom you write, to give credit to what the
bearer shall speak."

Woodville paused and meditated; but then, having formed his
resolution, he replied, "Well, my good lord, if better may not be, so
will I do. Send me the messenger when you will, and I will give him
the credentials required."

"Call him now, my fair Lord of Armagnac," said the Duke of Orleans,
with a significant look. "He is below."

The count soon reappeared with a stout, plain-looking man, habited as
a soldier; and Woodville, after inquiring if he had ever been in
England before, and finding that such was not the case, gave him
directions for seeking out Sir John Grey in Winchester, from which
town the letters that had been conveyed to him were dated. He then
gave him messages to Mary's father; and, pointing out that it would be
better to lose any amount of money, rather than remain longer in
prison, he besought the knight to borrow a sum for him, to the value
of one-half of his estates, and offer it to the Lord of Vaudemont as
his ransom, adding, somewhat bitterly, "Tell the good knight that I
find, in France, the fine old spirit of chivalry is at an end, which
led each noble gentleman to fix at once a reasonable ransom for an
honourable prisoner, and that nothing but an excessive sum will gain a
captive's liberty."

The Duke of Orleans frowned, but made no observation in reply, merely
speaking a few words in a low tone to the Count of Armagnac, who went
to the door and called aloud for a strip of parchment and some ink.

What he required was soon brought; and he laid before the young knight
a narrow slip, not large enough to contain more than a sentence or
two, saying, "There, fair sir, you can write in the usual form, as
follows,"

Richard of Woodville took the pen and addressed the letter at the top
to Sir John Grey: the Duke of Orleans coming round and looking over
his shoulder, while the Count of Armagnac stood on the opposite side
of the table, and dictated what he was to write.

"You can say," he proceeded, "'These are to beg of you, by your love
and regard for me, to hear and believe what the bearer will tell you
on my part;' and then put your name."

Richard of Woodville wrote as he directed, word for word, till he came
to the conclusion, but then, he added rapidly, "touching my ransom,"
and affixed his signature so close, that nothing could be
interpolated.

"What, have you written more?" cried the Count, whose eye was fixed
upon his hand.

"Touching my ransom," said the Duke of Orleans, gazing across. The
Count snatched up the parchment, and read it with a frowning brow, as
if angry that his dictation had not been exactly followed; and then,
beckoning to the Duke of Orleans and the messenger, he hurried
abruptly out of the room. The door was not yet shut by the inferior
person, who went out last, when the young prisoner heard the Count of
Armagnac say to the Duke, in a low growling tone, "This will not do."

"Let me see," said the voice of the Lord of Vaudemont, who had
apparently been waiting behind the door. A blasphemous oath followed;
and Richard of Woodville heard no more; but a smile crossed his
countenance, for they had evidently sought to use him for some secret
purpose of their own, and had been frustrated.



                           CHAPTER XXXVIII.

                             THE FLIGHT.


A month had passed, and Richard of Woodville sat alone in his solitary
chamber, on a dark and stormy night, towards the end of September,
reading by the glimmering lamp-light, a book which had been procured
for him in the town by his page. The rain blew, the wind whistled, the
small panes of glass in the casement rattled and shook, and the
howling of the breeze, as it swept round the old tower, seemed full of
melancholy thoughts. His own imaginations were heavy and desponding
enough--and he eagerly strove to withdraw his attention, both from the
voice of the storm without, and from the dark images that rose up in
his own heart. But he could not govern his mind as he desired; and
still from the pages of the book, he would lift his eyes, and gazing
into vacancy revolve every point in his fate, gaining, alas! nothing
but fresh matter for sad reflection. He had seen no more of the Count
de Vaudemont, the Duke of Orleans, or the Count of Armagnac, and had
learned that they had quitted Montl'herry early on the day following
that during which he had received their visit. He little heeded their
departure, indeed, or desired to see them; for he felt convinced that
their only object had been to make a tool of him for secret purposes
of their own; and that, disappointed therein, they were in no degree
disposed to show him favour, or even to listen to just remonstrance.

What grieved and depressed him more, was the unaccountable
disappearance of the young clerk who had brought him the letters from
Sir John Grey, but who had been no more seen by the page, after the
arrival of the Count de Vaudemont in the town. The boy inquired at the
widow's where the clerk had lodged, and was told he had left the
place: and no farther trace could be discovered of the course he had
pursued, or whither he had turned his steps. The distracted state of
the country, indeed, the young knight thought, might have scared the
novice away; for the page brought him daily reports of strange events
taking place around, of factions, strife, and bloodshed, in almost
every province of France, and of rumours that daily grew in strength
and consistency, of foreign wars being speedily added to the miseries
of the land. Large bodies of armed men passed through the town at
different times; the garrison of the castle was diminished to swell
the forces preparing for some unexplained enterprise; and the
Châtelain himself was called to lead them to the field.

But a stricter guard was kept upon the prisoner than ever. Of the
scanty band that remained in the castle, one always remained in arms
at his door; and another was stationed at the foot of the stairs.
Night and day he was closely watched; and the page himself was not
permitted to go in and out, except at certain hours. All chance of
escape seemed removed; and bitterly did Richard of Woodville ponder
upon the prospect of long captivity, at the very time when, under
other circumstances, opportunity must have occurred for the exertion
of all those energies by which he had fondly hoped to win glory,
station, and renown.

He struggled hard against such thoughts, and all the bitterness they
brought with them; and, after indulging them for a few minutes, turned
ever to the page of the book he was reading, and laboured through the
crabbed lines of the ill-written manuscript; finding perhaps as much
interest in making out the words as in their sense. It was after one
of the fits of meditation we have spoken of, that he thus again
applied himself to read, and turned over several pages carelessly, to
see what would come next in the dull old romaunt, when, suddenly he
saw a fresher page than any of the others, and found upon it, written
in English, and in a different hand from the rest, but in lines of
equal length, so as to deceive a careless eye, and lead to a belief
that the words were but a continuation of the poem, the following
warning and intelligence:

"Be prepared. Lie not down to rest. Take not off your clothes. King
Henry is in France. The Earl of Cambridge, the Lord Scrope, and Sir
Thomas Grey, have been executed for treason. Harfleur has been taken;
and the King is marching on through the land."

There ended the lines, and the young knight, closing the book, started
up and clasped his hands with agitation and surprise. "Harfleur taken,
and I not there!" he cried. "This is bitter, indeed! I shall go mad if
they do not free me soon--Sir Thomas Grey! surely it cannot be written
by mistake. I remember one Sir Thomas Grey, a powerful knight of
Northumberland. The Lord Scrope, too; why, he was the King's
chamberlain! What can all this mean? Prepared--I will be prepared,
indeed. Hark, they are changing the guard at the door. I must not let
them see me thus agitated, if they look in;" and seating himself
again, he opened the book and seemed to read.

No one came near, however, for another hour, and Richard of Woodville
gathered together all that might be needful in case his escape should
be more near than he ventured to hope--the little stock of money that
remained, a few jewels, and trinkets of gold and silver, and a dagger
which he had kept concealed since his capture; for the rest of his
arms and his armour had been taken from him as fair spoil. After this
was done, he sat and watched; but all was silent in the château,
except when the guard at his door rose and paced up and down the
passage, or hummed a verse or two of some idle song to while away the
hours.

At length, however, after a long, dead pause, he heard a whisper; and
then the bolt of the door was undrawn without, and rising quietly, he
gazed towards it as it opened. The only figure that presented itself
was that of the guard, whom he had often seen before, and noticed as
apparently a gay, good-humoured man, who treated him civilly, and
asked after health in a kindly tone whenever he had occasion to visit
him. The man's face was now grave, and Woodville thought a little
anxious, and besides his own arms, he bore in his hand a sheathed
sword with its baldric, and a large coil of rope upon his arm. Without
uttering a word, he crossed the chamber, came close up to the young
knight, and put the sword in his hands. Then advancing to the window,
he opened it, fastened one end of the rope tight to the iron bar which
ran up the centre of the casement, and suffered the other to drop
gently down on the outside. Richard of Woodville gazed with some
interest at this proceeding, as may be supposed. In the state of his
mind at that moment, no means of escape could seem too desperate for
him to adopt; and although he doubted that the rope, though strong,
would bear his weight, he resolved to make the attempt,
notwithstanding the tremendous height of the window from the ground.

Approaching the man, he whispered, "Would it not be better for you to
turn the rope round the bar and let me down? My hands have been so
long in prison, that I doubt their holding their grasp very tightly."

The man merely waved his finger and shook his head, without reply,
finished what he was about, and, taking from the table one of the
gloves which the young knight had worn under his gauntlets, much to
the spectator's surprise, dropped it out of the window.

"Now come with me," he whispered; "it is needful for us who stay
behind, to have it thought for a day or two that you have made your
escape without help. The demoiselle has paid us half the money, as she
promised; and we will keep our word with her. There shall no danger
attend you. We have better means of getting you out than breaking your
neck by a fall from the casement."

"But you were to give me a word," said Richard of Woodville.

"Ay," answered the man, "I recollect: it was Mary Markham--Follow me."

Without hesitation, the prisoner accompanied him; but paused for an
instant in some surprise on finding two armed men at the back of the
door, one holding a lamp in his hand. The guard who was with him,
however, took no notice; but, receiving the lamp from the other, led
the way in a different direction from the staircase up which Woodville
had been brought, when first he was conducted to his chamber of
captivity. Then opening a door on the right, he entered a room, in the
wall of which appeared a low archway, exposing to the eye, as the
light flashed forward, the top of a steep, small staircase.

"I will go down first with the lamp," whispered the man, "that you may
see where you are going. Give a heed to your footing, too, for it is
mighty slippery, especially on such a damp night as this."

Thus saying, he led the way; and Richard of Woodville followed down
the winding steps, cut apparently in the thickness of the wall. Green
mould and clammy slime hung upon all the stones as they descended,
except where, every here and there, a loophole admitted the free air
of heaven and chased the damp away. The steps seemed interminable, one
after another, one after another, till Woodville became sure that they
were descending to a greater depth than the mere base of the castle;
and, looking round, as the lamplight gleamed upon the walls, he beheld
no more the hewn stone work which had appeared above, but the rough
excavation of the solid rock. At length the steps ceased, as passing
along a vault of masonry, perhaps forty or fifty feet long, the man
unbolted and unbarred a small but solid door covered with iron plates;
and in a moment the lamp was extinguished by the blast from without.
All seemed dark and impenetrable to the eye; the wind roared through
the vault; the rain dashed in the faces of Woodville and his
companion; but, giving the lamp an oath, as if it had been to blame
for what the storm had done, the man set it down behind the door, and
then walked on, saying, "Keep close to me, for it is steep here."

Following down a little path as the man led, the young knight's eyes
became more accustomed to the gloom, and he thought he descried, at a
short distance, a group of men and horses standing under a light
feathery tree. Hurrying on, with eager hope, he demanded of his guide
who the persons were whom he saw before him.

"Your saucy page is one," said the guard; "but who the others are I do
not know. The young clerk, I suppose, is one, and his servant the
other; for I dare say the demoiselle would not come out on such a
night as this, and faith, I cannot well see whether they be men or
women in this light;" and he shaded his eyes with his hands, with very
needless precaution, where scarcely a ray pierced the welkin.

At that moment, however, one of the figures moved towards him, asking,
"Is all right?"

"All, all," answered the guard; "have you brought the rest of the
money, master clerk? Here stands the prisoner free; so my part of the
bargain is done."

"And there is the rest of the gold, good fellow," replied the other
speaker; "all right money, and well counted."

"Ay, I must take it on your word," said the man who had brought
Woodville thither, "my lamp has been blown out; but I may well trust
you; for the other half was full tale and a piece over."

"That was for chaffage," replied the youth; "and if this noble knight
gets safe to the King's camp, you shall have a hundred pieces more; so
go, and keep his escape, and the way he has taken, as secret as
possible."

"That I will, for mine own sake," answered the soldier; "or I should
soon know gibbet and cord. Good night, good night!" and waving his
hand, he turned away, while the young clerk addressed Woodville,
saying, "You must put yourself under my guidance, noble sir, for a few
hours, and then we shall be safe."

"I have much to thank you for, young gentleman," answered Woodville,
following, as the other hurried on to the horses; and in a few minutes
the knight, his page, the clerk, and the clerk's servant were on
their way. But to Woodville's surprise, instead of taking any of the
by-roads that led on through the country to remote villages and
hamlets, they followed the direct high road towards Paris, which he
had gazed upon for many a day from his solitary chamber in the tower.

After proceeding some way in silence, without hearing any sounds which
could lead them to believe that the knight's escape had been
discovered, and that they were pursued, Woodville endeavoured to gain
some information from the clerk of Sir John Grey, as to the means
which had been taken to effect his liberation, and more particularly,
as to the lady who had been mentioned by the guard.

On the latter point the youth replied not; and on the former he merely
said, "The means were very simple, noble knight, and you yourself saw
some of them employed. Money, which unlocks all doors, was the key of
your prison. The man who refuses ransom to a captive, had better see
that he guard him sure; for that which is a small sum to him, may be a
great one to a gaoler, and one quarter of the amount offered for your
redemption, served to set you free. But I think, sir," he added, "we
had better speak as little as possible upon any head, till we have
passed the capital, for the tongue of an escaped prisoner, like the
track of gore to the bloodhound, often brings him within the fangs of
his pursuers."

Richard of Woodville judged the caution too wise not to be followed;
and on they rode in silence at a brisk pace, with the wind blowing,
and the rain dashing against them, through the darkness of the night,
for somewhat more than two hours, following the broad and open road
all the way, till the young knight thought they must be approaching
Paris. More than once, indeed, he fancied that he caught a glimpse of
some large dark mass before him; and imagination shaped towers and
pinnacles in the black obscurity of night; but at length the clerk's
man, who seemed to act as guide, pronounced the words, "To the left!"
and striking into a narrower, though still well beaten path, they soon
came upon a river, flowing on dull and heavy, but with a glistening
light, in the midst of its dark banks, which they followed for some
way, till a bridge presented itself, which they crossed, and then,
turning a little to the right again, continued their course without
drawing a rein, till the faint grey streaks of morning began to appear
in the east.

Shortly after, a bell was heard ringing slowly, apparently at no great
distance; and the young clerk said aloud, with a sigh of relief,
"Thank God!"

"You are fatigued, young gentleman, with this long stormy ride, I
fear?" said Richard of Woodville.

"A little," was the only reply; and in a few minutes they stopped at
the gate of a small walled building, bearing the aspect of some
inferior priory of a religious house. The bell was still ringing when
they approached; but the door was closed; and the clerk and his
attendant dismounted and knocked for admission. A board was almost
immediately withdrawn from behind a grating of iron, about a palm in
breadth and twice as much in length, and a voice demanded, "Who are
you?"

"Bourgogne," replied the clerk; and instantly the door was opened
without further inquiry. The arrival of the party seemed to have been
expected; for two men, not dressed in monastic habits, took the horses
without further inquiry; a monk addressed himself to Woodville, and
bade him follow; and, before he could ask any questions, he and his
companions were led in different directions, the one to one part of
the building, and the others to another.

With the same celerity and taciturnity, his guide introduced him to a
small but comfortable chamber, provided him with all that he could
require, and bidding him strip off his wet clothes, and lie down to
rest in peace, returned with a cup of warm spiced wine, "to chase the
damp out of his marrow," as he termed it. The young knight drained it
willingly, and then would fain have asked the old man some questions;
but the only information he could gain imported, that he was at Triel,
the old man always replying, "To bed, to bed, and sleep. You can talk
when you have had rest."

Woodville finding he could obtain no other answer, followed his
counsel: and, wearied with such a journey after a long period of
inactivity, but with a heart lightened by the feeling that he was
free, he had hardly laid his limbs on the pallet before he was asleep.



                            CHAPTER XXXIX.

                          THE PRISONER FREE.


The only true calm and happy sleep that man can ever obtain, is given
by the heart at ease. Slumber, deep, profound, and heavy, may be
obtained by fatigue of body or of mind; but even those great and
tranquil spirited men, of whom it is recorded that, at any time, they
could lie down, banish thought and care, and obtain repose in the most
trying circumstances, must have gained the power, from that
consciousness of having done all to ensure success in the course
before them that human wisdom can achieve, or by that confidence in
the resources within, which are the chief lighteners of the load of
life.

Richard of Woodville slept soundly, but it was heavily. It was the
sleep of weariness, not of peace. His mind was agitated even during
slumber, with many of the subjects which might well press for
attention in the circumstances in which he was placed; and unbridled
fancy hurried him through innumerable dreams. Now he saw her he loved
standing at the altar with another; and when the figure turned its
face towards him, he beheld Simeon of Roydon. Then he stood in the
presence of the King; and Henry, with a frowning brow, turned to an
executioner, with the countenance of Sir Henry Dacre, but gigantic
limbs, and ordered him to strike off the prisoner's head. Then came
Isabel Beauchamp to plead for his life; and suddenly, as the King was
turning away, a pale shadowy form, through which he could see the
figures on the arras behind, appeared before the monarch, and he
recognised the spirit of the murdered Catherine. Old times were
strangely mingled with the thoughts of the present; and sometimes he
was a boy again; sometimes still a prisoner in the castle of
Montl'herry: sometimes in the court of a strange prince, receiving
high rewards for some imaginary service. He heard voices, too, as well
as saw sights; and the words rang in his ears,


              For the true heart and kind,
              Its recompence shall find;
                   Shall win praise.
                   And golden days,
              And live in many a tale.


At length when he had slept long, he suddenly started and raised
himself upon his arm, for some one touched him; and looking round he
saw the clerk with his black hood still drawn far over his head, and
the page who had been his fellow captive, standing by the side of the
pallet.

"You must be up and away, sir knight," said the young clerk, in the
sweet musical tones of youth. "In an hour, a party of the Canonesses
of Cambray, who arrived at noon under the escort of a body of my Lord
of Charolois' men-at-arms,[12] are to depart for Amiens, and you and
your page can ride forward with them. I must here leave your fair
company; for I have other matters to attend to for my good lord."


---------------------

[Footnote 12: The actual removal of the Canonesses of Cambray took
place a few months later.]

---------------------


"But I shall see you again, young sir, I trust?" said Woodville; "I
owe you guerdon, as well as thanks and deep gratitude."

"I have only done my duty, noble knight," replied the clerk; "but we
shall soon meet again; for I suppose your first task will be to seek
Sir John Grey, who is with the King; and I shall not be long absent
from him,--so fare you well, sir."

"But where am I to find him?" demanded Woodville; "remember I am in
utter ignorance of all that has happened."

"Nor do I know much," answered the clerk. "Rumour is my only source of
information; for I have been cut off from all direct communication for
many weeks. The only certainty is, that King Henry and his friends are
now in France; that Harfleur surrendered a few weeks ago, and that he
is marching through the land with banners displayed. You will hear of
him as you go; and as soon as you know which way his steps are bent,
you can hasten to join him. But ere you discover yourself to any one
else, seek out Sir John Grey, and take counsel with him, for false
reports have been spread concerning you, and no one can tell how the
King's mind may be affected."

"But tell me, at least, before you go," said Richard of Woodville,
"who was the lady spoken of by the man who aided my escape at
Montl'herry; and also, who it is that has generously paid the high
sums which were doubtless demanded for my deliverance?"

"In truth, noble sir," replied the clerk, "I must not stay to answer
you; for the people with whom I go are waiting for me; and I must
depart immediately. You will know all hereafter in good time. It was
the Lord of Croy who furnished the money needful. Now, fare you well,
and Heaven give you guidance!"

Thus saying, he departed, without waiting for farther question; and
Richard of Woodville rising, dressed himself in haste in the same
clothes which he had worn the day before, but which he now found
carefully dried and ready for his use.

"I must have slept sound, boy," he said, speaking to the page, who
remained beside him; "for I do not think that at any other time my
clothes could have been taken away from my bed side, and I not know
it."

"You did sleep sound, sir knight," replied the page, laughing; "and
talked in your sleep, moreover, while we were looking at you. But I
can tell you who the lady was at Montl'herry, if you must needs know,
as well as the clerk, for I saw her once speaking with the guard."

"Say, say!" cried Richard of Woodville, impatiently. "I would fain
know, for she must be in peril, if left behind."

"Why, it was the fair demoiselle," answered the page, "who went with
us from Nieuport to Ghent. I caught but a glimpse of her, indeed; but
that bright face is not easily forgotten when once it has been seen."

"And yet I never thought of her!" murmured Richard of Woodville to
himself: "poor girl, her deep gratitude would have merited better
remembrance. Why smile you, boy? Every honourable man is bound to
recollect all who trust him, and all who serve him."

"Nay, sir," replied the page, resuming a grave look, "I did but smile
to think how often ladies remember knights and gentlemen, when they
are themselves forgot."

"A sad comment on the baseness of man's nature," answered Woodville;
"let it never be so with you, boy. Now, see for the old monk; my purse
is very empty, but I would not that he should call me niggard."

Some minutes passed before the page returned; but when he appeared he
came not alone, nor empty handed, for the old man was with him who had
conducted the fugitive to his chamber the night before; and the one
carried a large bottle and a tin cup, while the other was loaded with
a pasty and a loaf of brown bread. Such refreshment was very
acceptable to the young knight; but the good monk hurried him at his
meal, telling him that his party were waiting for him; and, finishing
the repast as soon as possible, Woodville rose and put a piece of gold
into his good purveyor's hand, saying, "That for your house, father.
Now I am ready."

On going out into the little court between the priory and the abbey,
he found some twelve or fourteen men mounted; and at the call of the
monk who accompanied him, a party of six Canonesses and two novices,
all closely veiled, came forth from the little lodge by the gate. They
were soon upon the mules which stood ready for them; but the good
ladies eyed with an inquiring glance the young stranger who was about
to join their party; and one of them, as she marked the knightly spurs
he wore, turned to her companions, and made some observation which
created a light-hearted laugh amongst those around. The moment after,
they issued forth from the gates, and rode on at a quick pace in the
direction of Gisors.

The day was evidently far advanced, but the sun, though somewhat past
his meridian, was still very powerful, so that the horses were
distressed with the heat. The commander of the men-at-arms, however,
would permit no relaxation of their speed, much to the annoyance of
the fair Canonesses, who had every inclination to amuse the tedious
moments of the journey by chattering with the young knight, and the
other persons who escorted them. In reply to their remonstrances, the
leader told them that if they did not make haste, they would get
entangled between the two armies, and then worse might come of it.

"Besides," he said, "we have strict orders from our lord the Duke to
take part with neither French nor English; and it would be a hard
matter to fall in with either, and not strike one stroke for the
honour of our arms."

Judging from his reply that he must have some knowledge of the
relative position of the two hosts, Richard of Woodville endeavoured
to gain intelligence from him, as to both the events which had lately
taken place in France, and those which were likely to follow; but the
man seemed sullen, and unwilling to communicate with his companion of
the way, replying to all questions merely by a monosyllable, or by the
assertion that he did not know.

Thus passed by hour after hour, during their first and second day's
journey, which brought them to the small town of Breteuil. They had
hitherto paused either for the purpose of seeking repose, or of taking
refreshment, at religious houses only; but at Breteuil they took up
their lodging for the night at the inn of the place, which they found
vacant of all guests. The town, too, as they entered it, seemed
melancholy and nearly deserted; but the tongue of the good host made
up for the stillness which reigned around; and from him Richard of
Woodville discovered that the apparent abandonment of the place by its
inhabitants was caused partly by the dread which some of the more
wealthy townsmen had felt on the near approach of several large
detachments of English troops, and partly by the zeal of the younger
portion of the population, which had led them to proceed in arms to
join the royal standard raised against the invaders. From him, too,
the young knight found that the King of England, at the head of his
army, was marching rapidly up the Somme, in order to force the passage
of that river, but that, as all the fords were strictly guarded, and
French troops in immense multitudes were gathering on the opposite
bank, it was scarcely possible that many days could pass without a
battle.

"'Twas but yesterday at this hour," said the host, "that news reached
the town that a fight had taken place at Fremont; and then, this
morning we heard it was all false, and that the English King has not
yet passed the river."

"Where was he when last you heard of him?" demanded Richard of
Woodville, taking care to use the French tongue, which he spoke with
less accent, perhaps, than most of the inhabitants of distant
provinces.

"Oh, he was at Bauvillers," answered the landlord of the hostel, "and
he wont get much farther without fighting, I fancy; for he has got St.
Quentin on his right, and our people before him. Heaven send that he
may not march back again; for then, he would come right through
Breteuil; and we are poor enough without being pillaged by those
vagabond English. I wonder your Duke does not come to the King's help,
with all his gallant men-at-arms, for then these proud islanders would
be caught in a net, and could not get out."

"It is a wonder," answered Richard of Woodville. "But, hark! and, as
he listened, he heard two sweet voices talking in the hall, in a
tongue that sounded like English to his ear.

"I am sure of it," said the one, "and if it be so, I beseech you own
it. My heart beat so, I can scarcely speak; but, I say again, I am
sure of it; and that if you will, you have the power not alone to
punish the guilty, for that, perhaps, you may not desire--"

"Yes I do," replied the other, in a somewhat sharper tone; "and in my
own good time, I will do it."

"To punish the guilty, the time is your own," replied the first voice;
"but, to save the innocent from utter destruction, there is no time
but the present."

"Ha! you must tell me more," said the second, in a tone of surprise;
"from utter destruction, did you say? Let us to our chamber. There we
can speak at ease."

Richard of Woodville heard no more; but what he did hear cast him into
deep thought; and when the next morning they again set out upon their
journey, he gazed with an inquiring eye at the Canonesses and their
companions--and, mingling in their conversation, endeavoured to
discover if the voices which he had heard were to be distinguished
amongst them. They all laughed and talked gaily with him, however, in
the French tongue; and he came to the conclusion, that though the host
had assured him the inn was vacant when he and his party arrived, some
other guests must have passed the night within its walls.

On their way during this day, he remarked that the leader of the
men-at-arms inquired often and anxiously, in every town and village,
for news of the two armies. Little information did he gain, except
from vague reports; but some of these, it would appear, induced him to
alter his course towards Amiens, and strike off to the right, in the
direction of Peronne. The young knight had not been inattentive to
everything that was said, and he heard that the King of France, and
all his nobility, were certainly gathered together in the direction of
Bapaume, while the rumour grew stronger and more strong, that the
English army had effected the passage of the Somme at some unguarded
ford, in the neighbourhood of St. Quentin, and was boldly marching on
towards Calais.

Such tidings, as the reader may well suppose, caused not a little
agitation in the mind of the young soldier. Apprehension, lest a
battle should be fought and he be absent, was certainly the
predominant sensation; but, still he had to ask himself, even if he
arrived in time, where arms were to be procured, and a horse fit to
bear him through such a strife as that which was likely to take place?
The beast he rode, though swift and enduring, was far too lightly
formed to carry a knight equipped according to the fashion of that
day; and no weapons of any kind did he possess, but the dagger which
he had retained when captured.

It seemed clear to him, also, that the leader of the Burgundian
men-at-arms, had, in common with most of his countrymen, a strong
inclination to take part with the French, who were naturally
considered as kinsmen and allies, against the English, who were looked
upon as strangers and enemies; and he felt convinced that the
soldier's course had been altered in the hope, that, by falling in
with the troops of the King of France, he might find a fair excuse for
disobeying the more politic orders of his Prince, and take a share in
the approaching combat.

Such thoughts brought with them some doubts of his own safety; and
assuredly the dull, taciturn, and repulsive demeanour of the commander
of the troop, was not calculated to win confidence. It was evident,
however, that orders--which he trusted would meet with some
respect--had been laid upon his sullen companion, to treat him with
deference, and attend to his comfort and convenience; for, at every
place where they stopped by the way, the best chamber, after their
fair charge had been attended to, was assigned to himself; and it was
not without permission that the men-at-arms sat down to the same table
with him, affecting much to reverence his knightly rank.

At length, after a long and hard day's ride, the party reached
Peronne, on the evening of the second day after quitting Breteuil; and
as they approached the gates, the young knight's confidence was
somewhat restored, by the leader of the men-at-arms riding up to his
side, and saying, in a low tone, "I pray you, sir knight, be careful
here, and give no hint of your being an Englishman; for we are coming
on dangerous ground."

"I will be careful, my good friend," replied Richard of Woodville;
"and to say the truth, if we can discover where the King of England
is, it may be as well for me to quit your party soon, as I may bring
danger upon you for no purpose."

"We shall soon near more," replied the soldier, "but you had better be
beyond the walls of Peronne, before you part from us."

The scantiness of the band, and the title of Burgundian soldiers, soon
obtained admission for the little party; but all was found in a state
of bustle and activity within the town; and every tongue was full of
the late passage of the King of England, at a short distance from the
place. Great was the bravado of the inhabitants, who universally
declared, that they wished he had sat down before their walls, to
afford them an opportunity of showing what glorious deeds they would
have performed; and all spoke of the condition of the English troops
as lamentable, and their fate sealed. The approaching battle was
looked forward to as a certain triumph for the arms of France, and
rather as a great slaughter of a flying enemy, than a conflict with a
powerful force. The very monks of the monastery where the men-at-arms
received entertainment, while the Canonesses were lodged in the
adjoining nunnery, were full of the same martial spirit; and a few
years earlier, it is probable, their superior would have put himself
in armour to aid in the destruction of the foe. Frequently was Richard
of Woodville appealed to as a knight, to pronounce upon the likelihood
of King Henry surrendering at discretion; and some difficulty had he
so to shape his answers as to escape suspicion.

From the conversation which took place, however, he learned that his
own sovereign was in the neighbourhood of a small town at no great
distance; and he resolved, as soon as he was free from the walls of
Peronne, to hurry thither without any farther delay. He ventured,
during the evening, to issue forth for a short time into the city, in
the hope of being able to purchase arms: but scarcely any were to be
found in the town: and such had been the demand for good armour, that
the price had risen far beyond his scanty means. All that he could
afford to buy was a strong, well-tempered sword of a somewhat antique
form, which he found in the shop of an armourer; and even for that the
price demanded was enormous.

Returning to the monastery, he soon escaped from a sort of
conversation that was by no means pleasant to his ear, by retiring to
rest; and though for some time he did not sleep, yet when slumber did
visit his eyelids, she came soft and balmy. The troubled thoughts died
away--the anxious questioning of the unsatisfied mind ceased--the wild
throbbing of the eager heart for the coming of the undeveloped hours,
found repose; and he woke calm and refreshed with the first dawn of
day, to meet whatever might be in store, with a spirit prepared and
ready, and a body reinvigorated by the alternation of exertion and
rest.

The monastery was one of those, not at all uncommon in those days, in
which the vow of seclusion did not by any means exclude contrivances
for enjoying at least some communion with the world. It was not
surrounded by stern walls, and a large wing of the building rested
upon the street, with windows small and high up indeed, and only
lighting the chambers appropriated to the use of visitors, but which
often afforded the monks themselves an excellent view of what was
passing in the town without. In dressing himself with as much care as
circumstances would permit, Richard of Woodville approached one of
these narrow casements, and gazed out upon the gay scene that was
enacted below; and, though so early, multitudes of people were to be
seen passing along. While some stood for a moment gossiping with their
neighbours, some were hurrying forward to their busy day, and others
pausing to watch a considerable body of men-at-arms, who, in somewhat
bad array, and without the display of much soldier-like order, came
down from a house farther up.

When he saw them at a distance, the young knight's first thought was,
"If all the French troops are like these, it will be no very difficult
task to win a field of them." But as the troop came on, and the three
leaders riding in front, passed under the window, he was struck by the
arms of one of them who appeared in the middle. He could have sworn
that the armour in which the knight was habited was familiar to his
eye; and it must be recollected that the ornaments which covered the
harness of a man-at-arms in those days were rarely the same, so that
means of identification were always at hand, such as we do not possess
in the present times. But there, before his eyes, if he could believe
their testimony, was the identical suit which had been sent to him by
good Sir Philip Beauchamp, shortly before he left the shores of
England. There were the fan-shaped palettes, with the quaint gilt
figures in the corners, and the upturned pauldrons with the edge of
gold, and the bacinet shaped like a globe, with the enamelled plate on
the forehead bearing "Ave, Maria!"

There could be no doubt that it was the same; and Woodville's brow
knit for a moment, and his teeth closed tight. But the next instant he
smiled again, asking half aloud, "How could a prisoner of near two
years escape pillage? If I meet you in the field, my friend, I will
have that harness back again for Mary's sake, or I will lie low."

Thus saying, he resumed his toilet, and the troop passed on. A moment
after, he heard a voice singing, and turning to the window again he
looked out. The sounds did not come from below; but there was a large
projecting mass of building, with loopholes on the three sides, which
protruded into the street on his right; and it seemed to him that the
sounds came thence. He listened, and caught some of the words; but
every now and then they died away in the cadence of a wild French air
of the period, but those he could distinguish seemed so well suited to
his situation at the time, that he strove eagerly to hear more:--


             "Away, away, to the field of fame,
                Gallant knight, gallant knight, hie away,"


were the first sounds he could make out; but the next stanza was more
distinct, and went on thus, in the French tongue:--


             "Think of thy lady at home in her bower,
                On her knees, for her lord to pray,
              Think of her terror and hope in the hour
                When your banner floats proud in array,
                                          Well aday!

             "Away, away, to the field of fame,
                Gallant knight, gallant knight, hie away!
              For King, for country, and deathless name
                Is each stroke that is stricken to-day,
                            Trara la, trara la, trara lay!

             "The hopes of years and the fame of life
                Are lost or won ere evening's ray.
              Thy father's spirit looks down on the strife,
                And bids thee to battle away,
                                          Well aday!

             "Away, away, to the field of fame,
                Gallant knight, gallant knight, hie way!
              For king, for country, and deathless name
                Is each stroke that is stricken to-day,
                            Trara la, trara la, trara lay!"


As he was listening for more, a knock was heard at the door of his
chamber, and bidding the applicant come in, Richard of Woodville was
somewhat surprised to see the personage whom we have designated as the
clerk's man, enter in some haste.

"I thought you were still sleeping, sir knight," he said; "but I
ventured to wake you, as, by Heaven's good will, it seems there will
be a battle shortly, and methought you would like to hear such
tidings, and be present at such a deed."

"I have heard that such is likely to be the case," answered Woodville,
"and am eager enough to set out, my friend. But how came you here? and
where have you left your master?"

"Oh, I have followed you close," the man replied; "I only waited to
see that the enemy's hounds had not got scent of the deer; but the
slot has been crossed by so many other herds, that they soon lost the
track. I have wakened master Isambert, who leads the Duke's party, and
he will be in the saddle in half an hour. As to my master, he has gone
by the other road, and I dare to say has joined Sir John at
Brettenville, or Beauvillers, or where they passed the Somme."

"Is this Isambert very faithful, think you?" asked the young knight.

"Not too much so," replied the man, calmly; "but in your case he dare
as soon give his throat to the knife, as do you wrong; for the Duke,
and the Count, and the Lord of Croy, would all have bloody vengeance,
if aught of evil befel you ere you are with your own people. However,
it will not be amiss to quit him soon; for I find a body of his own
folks have just marched out under Robinet de Bournonville--as wild a
marauder as ever a wild land brought forth; and it is well to get out
of such company when they are too many; for what one man dare not do,
a number think nothing of."

"Then," said the young knight, "this good Isambert's arrival at Triel
was not a matter of chance, as I thought it?"

"Oh, no!" replied the other; "he came thither on purpose to give you
aid. He might have saved fifteen leagues by another road; but the
Duke's commands were not to be disobeyed. However, noble knight, you
had better get some breakfast; for Heaven only knows when we shall
have an opportunity of putting anything into our mouths again. You
might as well follow a flight of locusts, they tell me, as our army.
The refectioner is serving out meat to the men, and mead, too, for we
have quitted the land of wine."

The young knight bade him go and provide for himself; and, soon
following, he took a hasty meal before he mounted with the rest. The
whole party were speedily in the saddle; the streets of the town were
soon passed, and the gates of Peronne closed behind them.



                             CHAPTER XL.

                             THE MYSTERY.


It is quite right and proper to suppose that the reader is thoroughly
acquainted with the position, situation, and peculiarities of every
town, to which we may be pleased to lead him; and, therefore, it may
be unnecessary to remind him, that Peronne is surrounded by marshy
ground, which soon gives way to a hilly country, which, at the time I
speak of, was of a very wild and desolate character. The party of
Burgundian horse, with Richard of Woodville and the fair Canonesses,
rode on through this track towards Arras, at the same quick pace as
during the preceding part of their journey; and even the ladies
themselves were glad to keep their mules at a rapid amble; for the
weather had undergone a sudden change, and a foul north-easterly wind
was blowing sharp, cutting them to the marrow. The troop was now
increased by the presence of the clerk's servant; and with him, as
they went, the young English gentleman held more than one
consultation, which resulted in Woodville adopting the resolution of
quitting the escort, shortly after passing the Abbey of Arrouaise,
where it was proposed that they should stop to dine.

The whole party, however, were destined to be disappointed of their
comfortable meal; for when, after passing Feuillancourt, Rancourt, and
Sailly, they approached the gates of the monastery, and rang the great
bell, no one responded to the summons for some time. As they sat upon
their horses waiting for admission, the sight of a neighbouring barn
burnt to the ground, and still smoking, showed them that some party of
pillagers had passed that morning; and they began to think that the
monastery was deserted, which was certainly the case with the little
village itself. The sound of voices within, however, at length induced
them to make another application to the bell; and, after a short
pause, a monk's head appeared at the window over the gate, exclaiming,
"Get you gone, brothers, get you gone. You cannot enter here."

The leader of the troop remonstrated, and announced his name as
Isambert of Agincourt; but the reply was still the same, the monk
adding, by way of explanation, "We have suffered too much from you all
already this morning. We will open our gates to none, and we have
cross-bow men within, who will shoot if you do not retire. Do you not
see the barns burning?"

"But that was done by the savage Englishmen," replied Isambert; "we
are friends. We are men of Burgundy."

"So were these," answered the monk; "but the Duke and the English
understand each other; for that sacrilegious villain, Robinet de
Bournonville, had Englishmen with him. Get you gone, I will hear no
more; and if you do not go, the men shall shoot."

The sight of several men upon the wall, with cross-bows in their
hands, gave effect to the old man's words; and Isambert withdrew
slowly, muttering curses at his friend, Robinet de Bournonville, for
depriving him of his dinner. When he reached the bottom of the next
slope, he halted to consult his companions and Richard of Woodville,
as to what was to be done to procure food for themselves and for their
horses; and he finally determined to return to Sailly, where a good
hostel had been observed as they passed.

But Richard of Woodville took this opportunity of separating himself
from the rest of the party, and announced his intention to Isambert of
Agincourt, who seemed by no means sorry to get rid of him. The clerk's
man and his own page were the only companions whom the young gentleman
expected to go with him; and he was not a little surprised when the
two novices drew aside from the ladies of Cambray, and the taller of
the two begged that he would have the kindness to give them the
benefit of his escort as far as Hesdin, saying, "We were on our way to
Amiens, and thence to Montreuil, and not to Arras, whither, it seems
now, this noble gentleman is bending his steps."

One of the Canonesses interposed a remonstrance, representing the
danger of falling in with some party of English troops; but she did
not venture to use a tone of authority, as the novices belonged to
another Order; and the young lady who had already spoken, replied
briefly, in a resolute and somewhat haughty tone, "that she had no
fear, and, knowing what it was her duty to do, should do it."

"Well, settle the matter as you please, fair ladies," cried Isambert
of Agincourt; "only be quick, for I have no time to lose;" and no
farther opposition being made, Richard of Woodville undertook to
protect, as far as he could, the two novices on the way, only warning
them in general terms, that as soon as he discovered the exact
position of the armies, he must join them; promising, however, to send
on his page and the man with them to Hesdin. This being understood, he
took leave of the commander of the men-at-arms; and choosing the first
road to the left, under the direction of the clerk's man, who seemed
thoroughly acquainted with the whole country, he proceeded for some
way at a quick pace, till they reached a village, which seemed to have
escaped the predatory propensities of the soldiery on both parts, and
there paused to feed his horses, and to procure some refreshment for
himself and his companions.

Though he had tried to entertain the two young ladies to the best of
his power as they rode along, either their notions of propriety, or
some anxiety in regard to their situation, rendered them cold and
taciturn in their communications; and, unlike the gay Canonesses from
whom they had just parted, they neither seemed inclined to converse
with the knight or with each other, nor ever raised their veils to
take a coquettish look at the country through which they passed. They
now refused refreshment, also, saying, "It is not our habit to eat
with men;" and as the house, at which they had bought some bread and
mead, had but one public room, Richard of Woodville, with his two male
companions, retired to the door while the horses fed, and left the shy
novices to partake of what was set upon the table if they thought fit.

While there, the young knight entered into conversation with the good
peasant who supplied them, and, though the jargon which the man spoke
was scarcely intelligible, made out, that the English army had marched
from Acheux on the preceding day, and had encamped the night before
amongst the villages near the source of the Canche. Of the movements
of the French army he could learn nothing, however, which led him to a
false belief, that he was likely to meet with no interruption from the
enemy in following the march of his own sovereign.

As the young knight rode on, and came into the country through which
the English army had passed, the sad and terrible effects of that
barbarous system of warfare, which was universal in those times, made
themselves visible at every step. Houses and villages burnt, cattle
slaughtered and left half consumed by the wayside, and fruit trees cut
down for the purpose of lighting fires, presented themselves all along
the road; and the painful feelings which such a scene could not but
produce were aggravated by the lamentations of the villagers, who felt
no terror at the appearance of a party consisting of women and of men
without any arms except those usually worn in time of peace, and who
poured forth their complaints to Woodville's ear, pointing to their
ruined dwellings, and their little property destroyed, and cursing the
ambition of kings, and the ferocity of their soldiery.

The young knight felt grieved and sorrowful; but he was surprised to
find that the bitterness of the peasantry was less excited against the
English themselves, than he had expected; and, on guiding the
conversation with one of these poor men in a direction which he
thought would lead to some explanation of the fact, the villager
replied vehemently, "The English are not so bad as our own people.
They are enemies, and we might expect worse at their hands; but,
wherever the King or his brothers were, they destroyed little or
nothing, and only took what they wanted. But, since they have passed,
we have had two bands of Frenchmen, who have destroyed everything that
the English left, on the pretence that we favoured them, though they
knew that we could not resist. The Duke of York took my meat and my
flour; but he left my house standing, and injured no one in the place.
That cursed Robinet de Bournonville, and his companion the captain
Vodeville, burnt down my house and carried off my daughter."

The young knight consoled the poor man as well as he could, and gave
him a piece of silver, thinking it somewhat strange, indeed, that one
of Bournonville's companions should have a name so nearly resembling
his own. He and his companions rode on, however, still finding that
the band, which he had seen issue forth from Peronne in the morning,
had gone on before them, till they reached the town of Acheux, which
was well nigh deserted. Most of the houses were closed and the doors
nailed up; but they had evidently been broken into by the windows, and
had been rifled of all their contents. In the mere hovels, indeed,
some cottagers were seen; and on inquiring of one of these where they
could find any place of rest, as night was coming on, the man led them
to a large, ancient, embattled mansion in the centre of the town,
which, though stripped of everything easily portable, still contained
some beds and pallets. An old woman was found in the house, which
she said belonged to the Lord of Acheux, and for a small piece of
silver she agreed to make the strangers as comfortable as she could,
seeming--perhaps, from old experience of such things--perhaps, from
the obtuseness of age--to feel the horrors of war less keenly than any
one they had yet met with. Money, however, made all her faculties
alive, and declaring that she knew, notwithstanding the pillage which
the place had undergone, where to procure corn for the cattle, and
bread, eggs, and even wine, for the party, she set out upon her
search, while Woodville and his two male companions led the horses and
mules to the vacant stable, and the two novices remained in one of the
desolate chambers up the great flight of stairs.

When the beasts had been tied to the manger, the young knight returned
with the man and the boy to their fair companions; but the old woman
had not yet returned; and as night was falling fast, he lighted a
small lamp which he found in the kitchen, and returned with it to the
chamber above. A few minutes after, while he was expressing his sorrow
to the two maidens that he could find no better lodging for them, the
sound of a small party of horse was heard below, and a voice exclaimed
in English, "Ah! there is a light--I will lodge here, Matthew. Take my
casque. This cursed cuirass pinches me on the shoulder: unbuckle this
strap. Keep a watch for Ned, or any one he may send."

The voice was not unfamiliar to Richard of Woodville; and a heavy
frown gathered upon his brow. His first impulse was to lay his hand
upon his sword, and take a step towards the door; but then,
remembering what fearful odds there might be against him, he turned to
the window and looked out. He could distinguish little but that there
were ten or twelve men below; and as he gazed, a step was heard upon
the stairs. The young gentleman turned hastily to close and bolt the
door; but to his surprise he beheld the taller of the two novices with
the lamp in her hand, walking rapidly towards the entrance; and
turning towards him, she said in a stern and solemn tone, "Leave him
to me!"

The next instant she had passed the door; and when Richard of
Woodville reached it and looked out into the gloomy corridor, he could
see her, by the lamp that she held in her hand, meet Simeon of Roydon,
upon whose face the full light fell, as he was just reaching the top
of the stairs. Her back was towards the young knight, but he perceived
that she suddenly raised her veil, and he heard her say, in English,
and in a deep and solemn tone, "Ha! Have you come at length?"

Whatever might have been the import of those words on the ear of him
to whom they were addressed, he staggered, fell back, and would have
been precipitated from the top to the bottom of the stairs, had he not
by a convulsive effort grasped the rope that ran along the wall The
light was instantly extinguished, and the moment after Richard felt
the novice's hand laid upon his arm, drawing him back into the room.
They all listened, and steps were heard rapidly descending the stairs,
followed by the voice of Simeon of Roydon exclaiming, "No, no, I
cannot lodge here--I will not lodge here! Mount, and away. We will go
on."

"But, noble knight," said another voice,--

"Away, away!" cried Simeon of Roydon again. "Mount! or by Heaven--"
and immediately there came the sound of armed men springing on their
horses, the tramp of the chargers as they rode away, and the fainter
noise of their departing feet.

"In the name of Heaven, who are you?" demanded Richard of Woodville,
addressing her who had produced such a strange effect.

"One whom he bitterly injured in former days," replied the novice;
"and whom he dares not face even now. Ask no more: that is enough!"

"It were well to quit this place," said the other girl, in a low
voice. And the clerk's man urged the same course, adding, "He may take
heart and return,--besides, he spoke of some one coming."

Richard of Woodville remained in silence, meditating deeply for
several minutes, with his arms folded on his chest, and his eyes bent
down. The faint outline of his figure was all that could be seen in
the dim semi-darkness that pervaded the room; but the novice who had
proposed to go, approached him gently, and laying her hand upon his
arm, again urged it, saying, "Had we not better go?"

"Well," said the young knight, starting from his reverie as if
suddenly awakened from a dream, "let us go. But yet a cold night ride,
with no place of shelter for two young and tender things like you, is
no slight matter. Run down, boy, and light the lamp again--"

"No, no, no!" cried one of the two ladies, eagerly. "Light it not! let
us go at once.--Hark! there is some one below."

"The old woman's step," cried the page; "I will run down and see what
she has got."

He returned in a moment with the good dame, bearing more than she had
promised. She easily understood the reason why the light which she
offered was refused; and after taking some wine and bread, the whole
party descended to the stable, whence the horses were brought forth;
and Richard of Woodville, paying her well for her trouble and her
provisions, bade the page take the remainder of the bread to feed the
poor beasts, when they could venture to pause. In less than a quarter
of an hour the young knight and his companions were once more on their
way, under the direction of the clerk's man, who proposed that they
should bear a little towards Doulens, which would lead them out of the
immediate track that the English army had followed.



                             CHAPTER XLI.

                              THE CAMP.


September days are short and bright, like the few hours of happiness
in the autumn of man's career. September nights are long and dull,
like the wearing cares and infirmities of life's decline; but often
the calm grand moon will shed her cold splendour over the scene,
solemn and serene, like the light of those consolations which Cicero
suggested to his friend, for the privation of the warmer joys and more
vivid hopes that pass away with the spring and summer of existence,
and with the departure of the brighter star.

The wind was sinking away, when Richard of Woodville rode out with his
companions from the ruined village of Acheux, and soon fell into a
calm soft breeze; the moon rose up in her beauty, and cleared away the
dull white haze that had spread over the sky, during the whole day;
and, as the travellers wended on in silence, the features of the scene
around were clearly marked out by the rays, every bold mass standing
forth in strong relief, every deep valley seeming an abyss, where
darkness took refuge from the eye of light. For about eight miles
farther they pursued their way almost in total silence; but at the end
of that distance, the hanging heads and feeble pace of the horses and
mules showed, that they would soon be able to go no farther: and the
young knight looked anxiously for some place of repose.

That part of the country, as the reader is aware, is famous for its
rocks and caverns. There is a very remarkable cave at a place called
Albert, but that was at a considerable distance behind them, and on
their left. In passing along, however, by the side of a steep cliff,
which ran at the distance of a few hundred yards from the road, with a
green sward between, the moon shone full upon the rocky face of the
hill, and the eye of Richard of Woodville soon perceived the mouth of
a cavern, like a black spot upon the surface of the mountain. After
some consultation with his companions, and some suggestions regarding
wolves and bears, Woodville determined to try whether shelter could
not be found in this "antre vast," for a few hours; and, riding up as
far as the footing was safe towards the entrance, the whole party
dismounted, and the young knight entering first, explored it by the
feel to the very farther end, which, indeed, was at no great distance,
as it luckily happened, for in some cases, such an undertaking might
have been attended with considerable peril.

It was perfectly vacant, however, and Woodville brought the two
novices within the brow of the rude arch, assuring them that they
might rest on a large stone near the mouth in safety. He then led his
own horse up, the others following, and taking the bits out of their
mouths, the men distributed amongst them the bread they had brought
from the village, which the poor beasts ate slowly, but with apparent
gladness, and then fell to the green grass on the mountain side with
still greater relish.

All the party were silent, for all were very weary; and while the
clerk's man laid himself down on the sandy bottom of the cave, and the
page sat nodding at the entrance, Richard of Woodville remained
standing just within the shadow, with his arms folded on his chest;
and the two novices remained seated on the stone where they had first
placed themselves, with their arms twined together. The young knight
thought that they would soon fall asleep; but such was not the case;
and when, after the moon had travelled some way to the south, the
sound of a horse's feet made itself heard through the stillness of the
night, trotting on towards Acheux, the slighter and the shorter of the
two girls rose suddenly, and coming forward gazed towards the road, on
which, at this time, the rays were falling strong. A moment after a
single horseman rode by at a quick pace, but turned not his head in
the direction of the cavern, and seemed little to think that he was
watched; for the figure of the slumbering page might well have passed
for some stone of a quaint form, in that dim light, and the horses had
been gathered together under the shadow of a rock.

She strained her eyes upon the passing traveller; and then, as he rode
on, she returned to her companion and whispered something to her. The
other replied in the same low tone, and, after a brief conversation,
they relapsed into silence; and the young knight stripping off his
cloak, gave it to them to wrap themselves in, and counselled them to
seek some repose against the fatigues of the coming day. They would
fain have excused themselves from taking the mantle; but he insisted,
saying that he felt the air sultry; and then seating himself at a
distance, he closed his eyes, strove to banish thought, and after
several efforts dozed lightly, waking every five or ten minutes and
looking out to the sky, till at length a faint grey streak in the east
told him that morning was at hand. Then rousing his companions, he
called them to repeat their matin prayers, and after they were
concluded, hastened to prepare the horses and mules for their onward
journey.

Day had not fully dawned ere they were once more on the way; but a
considerable distance still lay between them and Hesdin; and the few
and scanty villages that were then to be found in that part of the
country, were in general deserted, so that but little food was to be
found for man or beast. At one farmhouse, indeed, the two weary girls
found an hour's repose on the bed of the good farmer's wife. Some
bread and meat, and, also, one feed of corn was procured for the
horses and mules; but that was all that could be obtained during the
whole day, till at length about Fremicourt, they met with a man from
whom they learned the exact position of the two armies, which were now
drawing nearer and nearer to each other, the head quarters of the one
having been established at St. Pol, and those of the English at
Blangy.

Shortly after, the clerk's man pointed out a narrow road to the left,
saying, that leads to Hesdin; and Woodville, drawing in his rein,
turned to his fair companions, saying, "Here, then, we must part; for
I must on to Blangy with all speed. The man and the boy shall
accompany you; and God guard you on your way."

"Farewell, then, for the present, sir knight," replied the taller of
the two girls. "We shall meet again, I think, when I may thank you
better than I can now."

"But take your page with you, at least, sir," said the other; "we
shall be quite safe, I doubt not."

Richard of Woodville would not consent, however; and giving the boy
some directions, he waved his hand, and rode away. Once--just as he
was going--he turned his head, hearing voices speaking, and thinking
some one called him by name; but the younger novice, as she seemed,
was talking with apparent eagerness to the clerk's man, and he caught
the sounds--"As soon as he is gone."--"Take plenty with you--"

The young knight perceived that the words were not addressed to him,
and spurred forward. Evening was coming on apace; and Blangy was still
ten or twelve miles distant; but his horse was exhausted with long
travelling and little food, and nothing would urge him into speed. At
a slow walk he pursued his way, till at length, just as the sun
touched the edge of the western sky, the animal stopped altogether,
with his limbs trembling and evidently unable to proceed. Richard of
Woodville dismounted; and taking the bit out of the horse's mouth, he
relieved him from the saddle, and led him a little way from the road,
saying, "There, poor beast, find food and rest if you can." He then
left him, and walked on a-foot.

The red evening light at first glowed brightly in the sky; but soon it
grew grey, and faint twilight was all that remained, when the road
wound in to a deep forest, covering the sides of a high hill.
Woodville had heard that Blangy was situated in the midst of
woodlands, and his heart felt relieved as he approached; but the
darkness increased as he went on, and at length the stars shone out
above. Soon after a hum as of a distant multitude met his ear; but it
was lost again as the road wound round the ascent amidst the tall
trees; and all was silent and solemn. About a quarter of a mile
onward, where the hill was steep, the path rose above the scrubby
brushwood on his left, and he could see over the forest to a spot
where a reddish glare rose up from the bottom of the valley. But
somewhat farther in the forest itself, on a spot where the taller
trees had fallen before the axe, and nothing but thin underwood
remained, he caught a sight of three or four fires, the light of which
shone upon some half dozen tents; and the figures of men moving about
across the blaze were apparent, notwithstanding the darkness of the
night.

The distance might be three or four hundred yards; and Richard of
Woodville, wearied and exhausted, resolved to make his way thither,
rather than take the longer and more tedious course of following the
road to the bottom of the hill. Plunging in, then, sometimes through
low copse, sometimes amongst tall trees, he hurried on, feeling faint
and heavyhearted again; for the first joy of rejoining his countrymen
had passed away, and from the rumours he had heard, he not a little
doubted of his reception. He knew, indeed, that he had nothing to
reproach himself with, and felt sure that he should easily prove the
falsehood of any charge against him: but it was painful to think that,
after long imprisonment, and the loss of many a bright day and fond
hope, he should be met with coldness and frowns upon his first return.
The body, too, weighed upon the spirit as it always does in every
moment of lassitude and exhaustion, so that all things seemed darker
to his eye than they would have done at another moment.

On he walked, however, his feet catching in the long briers, or
striking against the stumps of felled trees, till at length a man
started up before him, and exclaimed, "Who goes there?"

"A friend!" answered the young knight, in the same English tongue.

"What friend?" demanded the soldier, advancing.

"My name is Woodville. Lead me to your lord, whoever he is," replied
Richard.

"Here, Mark!" cried the man to another, who was a little farther down,
"take him to Sir Henry's tent;" and suffering the knight to pass on,
he laid himself down again amongst the leaves.

The second soldier gazed at the young knight steadily for a moment by
the blaze of the burning wood, and then told him to follow, murmuring
something to himself as he led the way. They passed the two fires
without any notice from the men who were congregated round, and
approached the tents, while from the valley below, rose up some wild
strains of instrumental music, the flourish of trumpets and clarions,
mixed with the sound of many human voices, talking, laughing, and
shouting.

"Have you seen the enemy yet?" asked Richard of Woodville.

"No, sir," replied his guide; "but we shall see him tomorrow, they
say. Here is the knight's tent. _You_ may go in, I know."

The man laid a strong emphasis on the word "you," and turning to look
at him, as held back the hangings of the tent, the young knight
thought he recognised an old familiar face. The next instant he was
within the canvass, and beheld before him a man of about his own age,
seated at a board raised upon two trestles, with a lamp burning, and a
book spread out under his eyes. His head was bent upon his hand, and
the curls of his thick short hair were black, mingled here and there
with a silvery thread. He was deep in study, and heard not the rustle
of the tent as the stranger entered, nor his footfall within; and
Richard paused for an instant and gazed upon him. As he did so, his
eye grew moist; and he said in a low voice, "Dacre!--Harry!"

Sir Henry Dacre started, and raised his worn and care-wrought
countenance; and springing forward, he clasped Woodville in his arms,
exclaiming, "Oh, Richard--can it be you?"

Then looking with an apprehensive eye round the tent, he said, "Thank
God, there is no one here!--Did they know you?--Did any one see you?"

"Yes," replied Richard of Woodville; "two of your men saw me, Dacre.
But what means all this?--Why should Richard of Woodville fear to be
seen by mortal man?"

"Oh, there are strange and false reports about, Richard," replied
Dacre, with a sorrowful look;--"false, most false, I know them to be.
I am too well aware how men can lie and calumniate. But you will find
all men, except some few true friends, against you here; for day by
day, and hour by hour, these rumours have been increasing, and every
one, even to the peasantry of the land, seem to be leagued against
you."

"Give me but some food, Dacre, and a cup of wine," answered Richard of
Woodville, "and I will meet them this minute face to face. Why, Dacre,
I have nought to fear. I have had neither time nor opportunity to do
one base act, if I had been so willed. I am but a few short days out
of bonds,--and my first act will be to seek the King, and dare any man
on earth to bring a charge against me."

"Not to-night, not to-night," cried Sir Harry Dacre; "let there be
some preparation first--Hear all that has been said."

"Not an hour will I lie under a stain, Harry," replied his friend. "I
am weary, faint, and exhausted for want of food. Give me some wine and
bread--throw open the door of your tent; and let all your men see me.
Let them rejoice that I have come back to do myself right. I fear not
to show my face to any one."

Dacre, with a slow step and thoughtful brow, went to the entrance of
the tent and called to those without, to bring food and wine; and the
board was soon spread with such provisions as the camp could afford.
Seating himself on a coffer of arms, Woodville ate sparingly, and
drank a cup of wine, asking from time to time, "Where is Sir John
Grey?--Where is my good uncle?--He will not be absent from an
enterprise like this, I am right sure."

"Here, here; both here," answered Sir Henry Dacre; "and Mary and
Isabel are even now at Calais,--but be advised, my friend. Do not show
yourself to-night. The whole court is crowding round the King in the
village down below. Let the battle be first over. You will do good
service, I am sure. You can fight in armour not your own, and then--"

"Armour, Harry!" cried the young knight, "I have no armour; but the
armour of a true heart; and that is proof against the shafts of
calumny. It never shall be said that Richard of Woodville paused when
the straightforward course of honour was before him. Thought,
preparation, care, would be a slander on my own good name--I need no
meditated defence. I have done nought on earth that an English knight
should blush to do; and he who says so lies--. Now I am ready for the
task--Ha, Hugh of Clatford, is that you?" he continued, as some one
entered the tent. "You have just come in time to be my messenger."

"Full glad I am to see you, noble sir," answered the stout yeoman; "we
have a world of liars amongst us, which is the only thing that makes
me fancy these Frenchmen may win the day. But, now you are come, you
will put them to silence, I am sure."

"Right, Hugh, right!" replied Woodville. "But you have some word for
Sir Harry. Speak your message; and then I will give mine."

"'Tis no great matter, sir," said Hugh of Clatford. "Sir Philip begs
you would send him two loads of arrows, Sir Henry, if you have any to
spare; that is all," he continued, addressing Dacre; and when the
knight had answered, Woodville resumed eagerly, "If you are a true
friend, Hugh, you will go do down for me to the King's quarters, and
say to the first high officer that you can speak to, that Sir Richard
of Woodville, just escaped from a French prison, is here in camp, and
beseeches his Grace to grant him audience, as he hears that false and
calumnious reports, to which he gives the lie, have been spread
concerning him, while he has been suffering captivity."

"I will call out our old knight himself," replied Hugh; "he is now
with the King at the castle, and will do the errand boldly, I am
sure."

"Away then, quick, good Hugh, for I am all impatience," said
Woodville; and the yeoman retired.

When he was gone, Sir Harry Dacre would fain have spoken with his
friend regarding all the reports that had been circulated of him
during his absence; but Woodville would not hear; and, taking another
cup of wine, he said, "I shall learn the falsehoods soon enough,
Harry.--Now tell me of yourself and Isabel."

But Dacre waved his hand. "I cannot talk of that," he said, "'tis the
same as ever. She knows how I love her, and her father too; but the
phantom of a doubt still crosses her--even her; that I can see, and
good Sir Philip answers bluffly as is his wont, that he knows it is
false; but yet--but yet! Oh, that accursed 'but yet,' Richard. The
plague spot is upon me still. That is enough. The breath of one foul
vapour can obscure the sun, and the tongue of one false villain can
tarnish the honour of a life."

"Poo, nonsense, Harry," answered his companion; "I will show you ere
many hours be over, how lightly I can shake falsehood off. 'Tis still
your own heart that swells the load. I had not thought my uncle was so
foolish--so unkind."

He whiled him on to speak farther; but the same cloud was still upon
Sir Henry Dacre's mind. It was unchanged and dark as ever. Study, to
which he had given himself up, had done nought to clear it away;
reflection had not chased it thence; time itself had not lightened it.

Half an hour passed, and then there came a tramp as of armed men.
Dacre looked anxiously on his friend's face; but Woodville heard it
calmly; and when the hangings were drawn back and a royal officer
entered, followed by a party of archers, no change came upon his
countenance.

"What is your pleasure, Sir William Porter?" asked Dacre, looking at
him earnestly.

"I am sorry, sir, to have this duty," replied the officer; "but I am
sent to arrest Sir Richard of Woodville, charged with high treason."

Woodville smiled; "Are your orders, sir, to bring me before the King?"
he demanded.

"No, sir knight," answered Sir William Porter, "I am to hold you a
prisoner till his Grace's pleasure is known."

"Then I must ask a boon," replied Woodville; "which is simply this,
that you will keep me here in ward, till one of your men convey this
to the King. He gave it me long ago, and bade me in a strait like
this, make use of it. Let your messenger say, that I claim his royal
promise to be heard when I ask it." At the same time, he took a ring
from his finger; but then, recollecting himself, he said, "But stay, I
will write--so he commanded."

"You must write quickly, sir knight," replied Sir William Porter; "for
the King retires early, and I must not wait long."

"My words shall be very few," answered Woodville; and Sir Harry Dacre,
with hasty hands, produced paper and ink. The young knight's words
were, indeed, few. "My Liege," he wrote, "I have returned from long
captivity, and find that I have been charged with crimes while my
tongue was silent in prison. I know not what men lay to my account;
but I know that I have done no wrong. Your Grace once promised, that
if I needed aught at your royal hands, and sealed my letter with the
ring you then gave me, you would read the contents yourself, and at
once. I do so now; but I have no boon to ask of you, my Liege, but to
be admitted to your presence, to hear the charges made against me, and
to give the lie to those who made them. Love to your royal person,
zeal for your service, honour to your crown, I own I have ever felt;
but if these be not crimes, I have committed none other against you,
and am ready to be sifted like chaff, sure that my honesty will
appear. God grant you, royal Sir, his great protection, victory over
all your enemies, and subjects as faithful as

                                  "Richard of Woodville."


He folded, sealed it, and delivered it to the royal officer, saying,
"Let the King be besought to look at the seal. His royal promise is
given that he will read it with his own eyes."

Sir William Porter examined the impression with a thoughtful look, and
then replied abruptly, "I will take it myself.--Guard the tent," he
continued, turning to his men, and withdrew.

With more speed than Woodville or Dacre had thought possible, he
returned, and entering, bade the prisoner follow. "The King will see
you, sir knight," he said; "your letter has had its effect."

"As all true words ever will have on his noble heart," replied
Woodville, rising.

"I will go with you, Richard," exclaimed Sir Harry Dacre. "Who is with
the King, Sir William?"

"His uncle, noble sir, his brothers, the Earl of Warwick, Sir Philip
Beauchamp, Sir John Grey, Philip the Treasurer, and some others. But
we must speed, for it is late;" and, leading the way from the tent, he
walked on towards the small town of Blangy, with Woodville and his
friend, followed by the archers, and one or two of Dacre's servants.



                            CHAPTER XLII.

                             THE CHARGES.


"We shall see, my good lord, we shall see," said Henry V. to the Earl
of Stafford as he stood surrounded by his court in the hall of the old
castle of Blangy. "I have, it is true, learned sad lessons, that those
we most trust are often the least worthy.--Nay, let me not say
'often,' but rather, sometimes; and yet," he added, after a pause,
"perhaps I am wrong there, too; for it has not happened to me in life,
that one, of whom I have had no misgivings, has proved false.--May it
never happen. Those, indeed, of whom I would not believe the strange
and instinctive doubts which sometimes, from a mere look or tone,
creep into the heart--those whom I have trusted against my spirit, may
have, indeed, betrayed me; but there is something in plain
straightforward honesty that may not always suit a monarch's humour,
but which cannot well be suspected--and besides--but it matters not.
We shall see."

It was evident to all, that his thoughts turned to that dark
conspiracy against his throne and life, which had been detected and
punished at Southampton; and as every one knew it was a painful and a
dangerous subject with the King--the only one, indeed, that ever moved
him to a hasty burst of passion, all were silent; and while the King
still bent his eyes to the ground in meditation, Sir William Porter,
afterwards raised to the then high office of grand carver, entered and
approached his Sovereign.

"The prisoner is without, royal Sir," he said.

"Let him come in," answered Henry; and raising his face towards the
door, he regarded Woodville as he walked forward, followed by Sir
Henry Dacre, with that fixed unwavering glance that was peculiar to
him. His eyelids did not wink, not the slightest movement of the lips
or nostril could be observed by those nearest him; but the light of
his eye fell calm and grave upon the young knight, like the beams of a
wintry sun.

The demeanour of Woodville was not less like himself. With a rapid
step, firm and free, with his broad chest expanded, his brow serene
but thoughtful, and with his eyes raised to the monarch without
looking to the right or left, he advanced till he was within two steps
of Henry, and then bowed his head with an air of calm respect. He was
quite silent, however, till the King spoke.

"You have asked to be admitted to our presence, Sir Richard of
Woodville," said the King; "and, according to the tenour of a promise
once made, we have granted your request. What have you to say to the
charges made against you?"

"I know not what they are, my Liege," replied Woodville; "but,
whatever they may be, if they lay to my account aught of disloyalty to
you, I say that they are false."

"And have you heard nothing?" asked the King, in a tone of surprise;
"has no one told you?"

"He would not hear me, Sire," said Dacre, stepping forward. "He said
he would meet them unprepared in your own presence."

"It is well," rejoined Henry; "then you shall hear them from my lips,
sir knight; and God grant you clear yourself; for none wishes it more
than I do.--Did I not command you, sir, now well nigh twenty months
ago, to retire from the forces of our cousin of Burgundy and return to
your native land, for our especial service?"

"Such commands may have been sent, my Liege, but they never reached
me," replied the young knight; "and when a mere rumour found its way
to me, I was on the eve of setting out on that fatal enterprise in
which I lost my liberty. I can appeal to the noble Lord of Croy when
the tidings came, to speak how much pain they gave me, and how ready I
was to abandon all and follow your commands."

"Be it so," answered Henry; "that point shall be inquired into. You
say you have been a prisoner. How long is it since you were set at
liberty?"

"But five days, Sire," replied the knight; "no longer than was needful
to journey from Montl'herry hither."

"And did you come alone?" demanded the King.

"No, Sire," said Richard of Woodville; "from the abbey at Arrouaise, I
was accompanied by my page, a man who aided in my escape from prison,
and two young novices journeying to Montreuil. I sent the two ladies
from Fremicourt on to Hesdin, under the escort of the man and the
page, and rode on hitherward myself, till my horse would go no
farther. The rest of the way I walked on foot."

"But before you reached Arrouaise, were you alone?" inquired the King.

"No, Sire; as far as Triel, I had but the man, the boy, and a clerk of
Sir John Grey's with me, who effected my liberation between them; but
after that I was accompanied by a small body of Burgundian horse, who
were escorting some Canonesses and these two novices on the way."

"Add, and burning monasteries, plundering villages, and cutting off
the stragglers of your Sovereign's army, sir knight," rejoined the
King, sternly.

Richard of Woodville gazed in his face for an instant in surprise, and
then broke into a gay laugh, saying,


             "'I avow to God, quoth Harry,
                I shall not lefe behynde,
              May I mete with Bernard
                Or Bayard the blynde.'


Now I understand your Grace, for I have come upon the track of these
men, and somewhat wondered to hear in the mouth of hinds and peasants,
the name of Woodville, or Vodeville as they called it, coupled with
curses. Nay, more, my Liege, I saw in the good town of Peronne,
through which I passed, a man in my own armour, at the head of a large
troop of men-at-arms."

"I saw him, too, Dickon;" cried the voice of old Sir Philip Beauchamp,
"as he followed our rear at Pont St. Remie; and would have sworn that
it was thyself, had I not known thy true heart from a boy."

"A strange tale, sir knight," said the King, without relaxing his
grave frown; "and the more strange, when coupled with the facts of
your having never received my commands to return, sent long ago, and
my messenger having brought me word, as if from your mouth, that you
could not obey, as you had taken service with the Duke of Burgundy for
two years and a day."

"He is a false knave, my Liege," replied the knight; "and, as to my
ever having forgotten your Grace's commands even for a day, not to
engage myself for long, that I can prove, for thank God my contract
with the good Duke John I have always kept about me. Here it is; and
if you look, royal Sir, you will see I have not been unmindful of my
duty."

Henry took the paper, which Woodville produced, from the young
knight's hand, and read it over attentively, pausing at one clause and
pronouncing the words aloud, "And it is, moreover, agreed between the
said high and mighty Prince Philip, Count of Charolois, and the said
knight, that should the King of England, Henry the Fifth of that name,
require the aid and service of the said Sir Richard of Woodville, he
shall be at liberty to retire at any time without let or hindrance
from the forces of the said Count of Charolois or of his father and
redoubted Lord, the Duke of Burgundy, together with all such men as
have accompanied the said knight from England; and, moreover, that he
shall receive all the passes, safe-conducts, and letters of protection
which may be needful for him to return to his own land in safety, and
that, without delay or hesitation, but even at a moment's notice."

The King when he had read these words gave a momentary glance around;
but then, turning to the young knight again, after examining the date
of the paper and the signature, "You were at this time assuredly in
your devoir," he said; "and this was but a month before my messenger
set out; but we have heard from Sir Philip de Morgan some strange
tales of adventures in the town of Ghent, which may have changed your
purposes."

"My Lord, I do beseech your Grace," answered Woodville, gravely, "to
give ear to no strange tales till they be fully proved. I have already
suffered from such stories, and have disproved them to one here
present much interested to know the truth;" and he turned his eyes
towards Sir John Grey, who stood beside the Earl of Warwick. "For one
so long a prisoner, not knowing where to find a single person who was
with him at a remote period, it is not easy in a moment to show the
real state of every fact alleged; but if your royal time may serve, I
am ready to tell the simple tale of the last two years; and if I
afterwards prove not to your own clear conviction, that every word I
speak is truth, send my head to the block when you will."

"You shall have full time, sir knight," replied the King; "at present,
it is late; and though we must sleep but little, yet some repose every
man must have. Your tale cannot be heard to-night. However, you now
know that you are charged first with refusing to serve your King in
arms against his enemies, which may, perhaps, be false. This paper
affords some presumption against the accusation--Secondly, you are
charged with following our royal host with men of Burgundy, and in
arms levying war against your Sovereign. You have, we are told, been
seen by many, so traitorously employed, and your name, you yourself
allow, is in the mouths of all the peasantry."

Henry paused a moment, as if expecting assent; but Woodville only
replied by a question, "May I ask, Sire," he said, "if a certain Sir
Simeon of Roydon is in your host?"

"Ha!" cried the King, his face lighting up, "what would you say on
that score?"

"Simply that I have suspicions, mighty Prince," replied the young
knight; "but _I_ will charge no man without proof. These two charges
are false, and I will make it manifest they are so; first by
testimony; then by my arm. Is there aught else against me?"

"Alas, there is," answered the King; "and the most grave of all. Have
you brought that letter which I sent for, my lord?"

"Yes, Sire," replied the Earl of Arundel, stepping forward and placing
a paper in the King's hands. "That is the one your Grace meant, I
believe."

"The same," answered Henry, gazing upon it with a countenance both
stern and sad. "Come forward, Sir Richard of Woodville. Is this your
hand-writing?"

Woodville looked at it, and recognised at once the letter which he had
written to Sir John Grey whilst in prison. "It is, my Liege," he
replied boldly, looking in the King's face with surprise. "I wrote
that letter; but I know not how it can affect me."

"That will be proved hereafter, sir," answered the King, in a stern
tone; "but remember, I have doomed my own blood to death for the acts
which this letter prompted; and, by my honour and my life, I will not
spare the man that wrote it. According to the right of every
Englishman, you shall be tried and judged by your peers; but when the
axe struck the neck of Cambridge, it crushed out the name of mercy
from my heart. In me you find no grace."

"My Lord, I need none," replied Richard of Woodville, in a tone firm,
yet respectful, "for I have done no wrong. I never yet did hear that
there was any crime in a captive writing to a friend for ransom. This
letter prompted nothing; and I am in much surprise to hear your royal
words announce therein a matter of complaint against me."

"The man to whom it was written, sir," said the King, "proved himself
a traitor, and took the gold of France to sell his sovereign's life,
and his country's welfare to the enemy."

Richard of Woodville gazed in surprise and bewilderment from the King
to Sir John Grey, and from Sir John Grey to the King, while the father
of her he loved looked not less astonished than himself. But Henry
after a short pause added aloud, "Remove him, Sir William Porter. If
God give us good success in the coming fight, he shall have fair trial
and due judgment. If the will of heaven fight against us, though
perchance he may escape to live, I do believe, from what I have known
of him in former days, that he will find bitter punishment in his own
heart for this dark deed;" and he struck his fingers sharply upon the
paper, which he still held in his hand.

"Some way--I know not what--you are deceived, my Liege," said Richard
of Woodville, with perfect calmness. "However, I have but one favour
to ask, and that is, that you will not let a false and lying
accusation so weigh against me as to deprive me of my right and
glory--that of fighting for my King, I would say; and I pledge you my
honour and my soul that, if the day be lost, which God forfend, I will
not survive the battle; if it be won, I will bring my head to your
Grace's feet, to do with as seems meet to you; for I am no traitor, so
help me heaven! and on that score I fear neither the judgment of man
nor that of God."

"I know that you are brave right well, Sir Richard," answered the
King; "but we will have no traitors fight upon our side."

The young knight cast his eyes bitterly towards the ground; and Henry
could see the fingers of his hand clenched tight into the palm; but
Sir Henry Dacre stepped forward, and said, "I will be his bail, my
Liege."

"And I too, royal sir," cried old Sir Philip Beauchamp; "I will plight
land and liberty, life and honour, that he is as true as my good
sword. Have I not known him from a babe?"

"You are his uncle, sir," answered the King; "and, in this case,
cannot judge."

"I am in no way akin to him, my gracious Sovereign," said Sir John
Grey, advancing from the side of the Earl of Warwick; "but I fear not
also to be his bail. My life for his, if he be not true."

Richard of Woodville crossed his arms upon his chest; and, raising his
head as his friends spoke, looked proudly round, saying, "There is
something to live for, after all."

At the same moment, Henry turned to the Duke of York, and spoke a word
or two with him and the Duke of Clarence.

"Your request cannot be granted," he said, in a milder tone; "but yet,
we will deal with you in all lenity, Sir Richard; and, therefore, we
will commit you to the ward of Sir John Grey, with strict orders,
however, that he hold you as a close prisoner till after your trial.
And now, I can hear no more; for the night is well spent, and we must
march at dawn. Take him, Sir John; you have a guard, and answer to me
for him with your life."

"I will, my Liege," replied Sir John Grey, advancing, and taking the
young knight's arm. "Come, Richard, you shall be my guest. I have no
doubts;" and, bowing to the King, he retired from the presence.

Sir Philip Beauchamp and Sir Harry Dacre followed quickly, and
overtook them on the stairs; and the old knight shook his nephew
playfully by the shoulders, exclaiming, "We will confound the knaves
yet, Dickon. But what is this letter?'

"Merely one I wrote to Sir John Grey," replied Richard of Woodville;
"beseeching him to communicate with the bearer touching my ransom."

"I never received it," replied Sir John Grey. "It did not reach my
hands; but, please God, I will see it ere I sleep."

"I must fight at this battle," said Richard of Woodville,
thoughtfully; "I must fight at this battle, my noble friends."

Sir John Grey replied not, but shook his head gravely, and led the way
to the house where he was lodged.



                            CHAPTER XLIII.

                        THE FOX IN THE SNARE.


Spread out in a long line over the face of the country, the English
army occupied a number of villages, keeping a good watch lest the
enemy, large bodies of whom had been apparent during the morning,
should take them by surprise and overwhelm them by numbers. Small
parties of the freshest men were lodged in tents between the different
villages, so that a constant communication might be kept up, and
support be ready for any point attacked; and, throughout the whole
host, reigned that stern and resolute spirit, the peculiar
characteristic of the English soldiery, and which has assured them the
victory in so many fields, against more impetuous, but less
determined, adversaries. Yet none, however resolute and brave in
Henry's army, could help feeling that a great and perilous day was
before them, when it was known, that at least a hundred and
twenty-five thousand men, comprising the most renowned chivalry of
Europe, were collected to oppose a force of less than twenty-five
thousand, worn with a long and difficult march, and weakened by
sickness and want of provisions.

Nevertheless, during the whole night of Thursday, the 24th of October,
from hamlet and village, from priory and castle, from tent and field,
wherever the English were quartered, rose up wild bursts of martial
music floating on the air to the French camp, as, round the
innumerable watch-fires which lighted the whole sky with their lurid
glare, sat the myriads the enemy in their wide extended position at
Roussauville and Agincourt.

In one of the small villages near the head-quarters of the King, was
stationed Sir John Grey, who now having recovered all the great
possessions of his family, appeared in the field at the head of a
large body of men, whose services under his banner procured for him,
at an after period, as the reader is probably aware, the earldom of
Tankerville. The house which he inhabited during that night, was the
dwelling of a farmer; and in one of the small rooms thereof sat
Richard of Woodville, at about eleven o'clock at night, conversing
with Mary's father, with a somewhat gloomy and anxious air.

"I have seen it myself, Richard," said Sir John Grey; "the
superscription is clear and distinct--'To Sir Thomas Grey,
Knight,'--and not one word is mentioned therein of anything like
ransom."

"Then it has been falsified!" cried Richard of Woodville; "for my
letter was to you. Why should I write to Sir Thomas Grey, a man I know
nought of? I never saw him--hardly ever heard of him. Even now I am
scarcely aware of who he was, or what he did."

"He was an arch villain, Richard," replied the knight. "The only one,
of all the three, who took the gold of France. Cambridge and Scroop
has other views, which they nobly hid within their own bosoms, lest
they should injure others; but this man was a traitor indeed, and he,
ere his death, gave this letter, it seems, into the King's own hands,
as that which began his communication with the enemy. He even laid
his death at your door, for having written to him by the French
suborner.--But here is Sir Henry Dacre.--What is it you seek, good
knight? You seem eager about something."

"There are people without requiring to speak with you, Sir John,"
answered Woodville's friend. "They have got a man in their hands, who,
they say, is a knave, sent to you by one you know."

"I want no knaves," replied Sir John Grey; "but I will see who it is;"
and he went out.

"Now, what speed, my friend?" continued Dacre, grasping Woodville's
hand; "what says Sir John?"

"That it must not be," said Richard of Woodville. "That his duty to
the King would not suffer it, even were I his son."

"Then we must try other means," answered Dacre hastily. "You shall
fight to-morrow, Woodville. God forbid that you should lose a field
like this. You shall take my armour, and I will ride in a different
suit. Only be ready, at a moment's notice," he added; "for as soon as
Sir John is in the field, I will bear you off from the men he leaves
on guard."

Woodville smiled gladly; for certain of his own honour and of his own
conduct, he scrupled not to take advantage of any means to free
himself from the restraint under which he was held. He had no
opportunity, however, of communicating farther with his friend; for
the next moment Sir John Grey returned, followed by several
men-at-arms and archers, with a slight, but long-armed man in their
hands, habited in a suit of demi-armour, such as was worn by the
inferior soldiery, but with a vizored casque, which concealed his
face.

"Take off his bacinet," said Sir John Grey; and the helmet being
removed, displayed to the eyes of Richard of Woodville the countenance
of his former servant Dyram. The man gazed sullenly upon the ground;
and Sir John Grey, after eyeing him for a moment, seated himself by
Woodville, saying, "I have seen this man before, methinks."

"And so have I, too often," rejoined the young knight; "he was once a
servant of mine, and shamefully betrayed his trust. Keep him safe, Sir
John, I beseech you; for on him may greatly depend my exculpation with
the King."

The man turned round suddenly towards him, and exclaimed, "Ay, and so
it does. On me, and me alone, depends your exculpation. Your fate is
in my hands."

"Less than you think, perchance, knave!" answered Sir John Grey; "for
I hold here strange lights to clear up some dark mysteries. Yet speak,
if you be so inclined; you may merit mercy by a frank avowal."

"Send these men hence," said Dyram, looking to the soldiers; "I will
say nought before them."

"Go, Edmond," replied the elder knight, speaking to the chief of those
who had brought the prisoner in; "yet, first tell me where you found
him, and how?"

"Guided by Jim of Retford," said the soldier, "we caught him about a
mile on this side of a place called Acheux, I think, some twenty miles
hence or more. We found that letter upon him, noble sir, and that," he
continued, laying down on the table two pieces of paper. "We might not
have searched him, indeed, but he tried to eat that last one. You may
see the marks of his teeth in it; and Jim of Retford forced his mouth
open with his anelace to take it out. He says 'tis treason; but I know
not, for I am no clerk."

Sir John Grey held the paper to the light and read. "Treason it
certainly is," he said, when he had done. "One fourth of the booty
secured to Edward Dyram, if the scheme succeeds!--Ay, who are
these?--Isambert of Agincourt, Robinet de Bournonville, and S. R.? Who
may he be, fellow?"

But Dyram was silent; and Sir Harry Dacre cried eagerly, "Let me see
it, sir; let me see it!--Ay, I know it well.--Woodville your
suspicions are true."

"Go, Edmond, and guard the passage," said Sir John Grey; "I will call
when you are wanted.--Now, sir, will you speak?"

"Ay," answered Dyram, as he saw the man depart, and the door close; "I
will, sir knight. First, I will speak to you, Richard of Woodville,
and will tell you that I have the power to sweep away every cloud that
has fallen upon you, or to make them darker still.--I know all: you
need tell me nothing;--how you refused to serve your own monarch, they
say; how you wrote to aid in bribing Sir Thomas Grey; how you have
followed the English camp like a raven smelling the carrion of
war--all, all--I know all!"

"Then clear up all!" answered Woodville; "and you shall have pardon."

"Pardon!" cried Dyram, with a mocking laugh; and then suddenly turning
to Sir Harry Dacre, he went on. "Next, to you I will speak, sir
doleful knight, and tell you, that from your fair fame, too, I can
clear away the stain that hangs upon it--black and indelible as you
think it. I can take out the mark of Cain, and give you back to peace
and happiness."

Sir Harry Dacre gazed upon him for a moment in stern silence, and then
replied, "I doubt it."

"Doubt not," replied Ned Dyram. "I can do it, I will; but upon my own
conditions."

"What may they be?" asked Sir John Grey. "If they be reasonable, such
information as you may proffer may be worth its price. But, remember,
before you speak, that your neck is in a halter, and that this paper
conveys you to the provost, and the provost to the next tree, if your
demands be insolent."

"I am not sure of that," replied Ned Dyram, boldly. "Sir John Grey is
not King in the camp. What say you, Sir Richard of Woodville, will you
grant my conditions, provided that I save you from your peril, and
give you the means of proving your innocence within an hour?"

"I must hear them first, knave," replied the young knight; "I will
bind myself to nothing, till they are spoken."

"Oh, they are easily said," answered Ned Dyram. "First, I will have
twenty miles free space between me and the camp--So much for security.
Then I will have your knightly word, that a fair maiden whom you know,
named Ella Brune, shall be mine."

"Where is she?" demanded Richard of Woodville. "I know not where she
is; I have not seen her for months, nay years."

"Oh, she is not far off when Richard of Woodville is here," said the
man, with a sneer. "I know all about it;--ay, Sir John Grey, the
smooth-faced clerk, the corrupter of the men of Montl'herry. Can you
not produce her?"

"Perhaps I can ere long," replied Sir John Grey. "But what if I do?"

"Why, then," answered Dyram, in the same saucy tone, "before I speak a
word, I will have her promise to be mine. She will soon give it, when
she knows that on it hangs Richard of Woodville's life. She has taught
me herself, how to wring her hard heart."

"She shall give no such promise for me," replied Woodville, sternly.
"I tell thee, pitiful scoundrel, that I would rather, with my bosom
free of aught like guilt, lay my head upon the block, than force a
grateful and high-hearted girl to wed herself to such a vile slave as
thou art. If your insinuations should be true, and she has done for me
all that you say, full well and generously has she repaid the little I
ever did to serve her. She shall do no more, and least of all make her
own misery to save my life."

"Then die, sir knight," rejoined Ned Dyram; "for you will find, with
all your wit, you cannot struggle through the toils in which you are
caught."

"It may be so," said Sir John Grey; "but by my life, bold villain, you
shall die too."

"Perhaps so," answered Dyram, with sneering indifference; "but I can
die in silence like a wolf."

"As you have lived," added Richard of Woodville; "so be it."

"Stay," said Sir Harry Dacre; "are these the only conditions you have
to propose? Will nought else serve your purpose as well? Gold as much
as you will."

"Nought, nought," replied Dyram. "You know the terms, and can take or
reject them as you think fit. If you like them well, sir knight, and
would have your innocence of the crime laid to you proved beyond all
doubt--if you would save your friend too, you have nought to do but
seek out this fair maiden. She is not far, I am right sure--and if you
but bring her in your hand to me, I will condescend to accept her as
my wife, and set you free of all calumny. You struck me once, Richard
of Woodville. You cannot expect that I should forget that bitter jest,
without a bitter atonement."

"Send him away, Sir John, I do beseech you," cried Woodville, warmly.
"My temper will not long hold out; and I shall strike him again."

"Ho, without there!" cried Sir John Grey. "Take this man away, Edmond,
and put gyves upon him. Have him watched night and day; for I now know
who he is; and a more dangerous knave there does not live. He will
escape if Satan's own cunning can effect it."

"Well, you know the terms," said Ned Dyram, turning his head as two of
the soldiers drew him away by the arms. "Think better of it, noble
knights. Ha, ha, ha! What a story to tell, that the fair fame of Sir
Harry Dacre, and the life of Sir Richard of Woodville, both mighty men
of war, should depend upon one word of poor Ned Dyram!" and with this
scoff he was led away.

Dacre paused in silence, leaning his brow thoughtfully upon his hand;
and Richard of Woodville for several moments conversed with Sir John
Grey in a low tone.

"Ay, you may well think it strange, Richard," said the elder knight
aloud, "that I, who at one time was taught to fancy this girl your
paramour, should suddenly place such trust in her, as to let her
follow her will in all things, and put means at her disposal to effect
whatever she thought fit. But do you see that ring?" and he pointed to
a circle of gold set with a large sapphire on his finger; "it is a
record, Richard, of a quality, which in her race, though it be a
humble one, is hereditary. I mean gratitude. I once rescued from
injury the wife of a good soldier, named Brune, the son of one of
Northumberland's minstrels. 'Twas but a trifling service which any
knight would have rendered to a woman in distress; but that good man,
her husband, in gratitude for this simple act, sacrificed his own life
to save mine. It was on Shrewsbury field twelve long years ago; and
when I left him with the enemy on every side, I gave him that ring, in
the hope that he might still escape; but he was already sorely wounded
in defending me; and ere he died he sent it as a last gift to his
daughter. When I saw it by mere accident, and heard that daughter tell
her feelings towards you, I recognised the spirit of her race; and had
it cost me half the lands I had just recovered, she should not have
wanted means to carry out her plan for serving you. What now?" he
continued, turning to one of his attendants, who entered.

"The King, sir knight, desires your presence instantly, to consult
with Sir Thomas of Erpingham for the ordering of tomorrow's battle."

"I come," replied Sir John Grey; and then turning to Richard of
Woodville, he added, "This is fortunate; perchance what I have to tell
him this night, may make him somewhat soften the strictness of his
orders." Thus speaking, he withdrew, leaving Richard of Woodville
alone with Sir Harry Dacre.



                            CHAPTER XLIV.

                     THE ORDERING OF THE BATTLE.


We must follow, for a short space, the steps of Sir John Grey, who
hurried after the messenger, to the quarters of the King, which lay at
about half a mile's distance from his own. As I have shown, he
intended to speak with the monarch upon the intelligence regarding the
young knight, which he had received that night; but an opportunity for
so doing was not so easily found as he had expected.

The moon was shining bright and unclouded; not a vapour was in the
sky; and, as he approached the guards, which were stationed round
Henry's temporary residence, he could hear the sound of voices, and
see distinctly a small party walking slowly up the road. One was half
a step in advance of the rest; and there was something in the air and
tread which told the knight at once that there was the King. Hurrying
after, he soon overtook the group, and joined in their conversation in
a low voice: but far more weighty thoughts than the fate of any
individual, now occupied all. Their speech was of the morrow's battle,
their minds fixed upon that which was to decide the destiny of thrones
and empires,--which was to deal life and death to thousands; and
Richard of Woodville seemed forgotten by all but Sir John Grey
himself.

The King, too, walked on before in silence, with his eyes bent upon
the ground, and his look grave and thoughtful; and it was not till,
passing out of the village, he came upon the brow of a small
acclivity, from which the whole of the enemy's line of watch-fires
could be descried, that he paused or spoke. The moment that he
stopped, the distinguished soldiers who followed him gathered round;
and, turning towards them with a countenance now all smiles, the
monarch said, "Somewhere near this spot must be the place--I marked it
this afternoon. Ha! Sir John Grey, I hardly thought you would have
time to come."

"A little more in advance, Sire," replied Sir Thomas of Erpingham,
answering the former part of the King's speech. "If you take your
stand here, the Frenchmen will have space to spread out their men
beyond the edge of the two woods; but, if you plant your van within a
half-bowshot of the edge of those trees, they must coop themselves up
in the narrow space, where their numbers will be little good."

"You are right, renowned knight," said the King, laying his hand
familiarly upon Erpingham's shoulder. "I did not mean just here. The
standard shall be pitched where yon low tree rises; the vanward a
hundred paces farther down, the rearward where we now stand."

"Does your Grace mark that meadow there, upon the right?" asked Sir
John Grey; "close upon the edge of the wood."

"I do, good friend," answered Henry; "and will use it as I know you
would have. But, go down first, and see how it is defended; for we
must not expose our foot-men to the French horse."

Sir John Grey and the Earl of Suffolk hurried on, while Henry examined
the rest of the field; but they soon returned with information that
the meadow was defended by a deep and broad ditch, impassable for
heavy horses; and Henry replied, "Well, then, we will secure it for
ourselves by our good bowmen. Though we be so few, we can spare two
hundred archers to gall the Frenchmen's flank as they come up."

"Ay! would to Heaven," cried one of the gentlemen present, "that all
the brave men, who are now idle in England, could know that such a
field as this lies before their King, and they had time to join us."

"Ha! what is that?" cried Henry. "No, by my life! I would not have one
man more. If we lose the day, which God forbid we should, we are too
many already; and if we win this battle, as I trust in Heaven we
shall, I would not share the glory of the field with any more than
needful. Come, my good lords and noble knights, let us go on and view
the ground farther, and when all is decided we will place guards and
light fires to insure that the enemy be not beforehand with us." Thus
saying, he walked on, conversing principally with Sir Thomas of
Erpingham upon the array of his men; while the other gentlemen
followed talking together, or listening to the consultation between
the King and his old and experienced knight. As they went on, various
broken sentences were thus overheard--as, "Ay, that copse of brushwood
will guard our left right well--and the hedges and ditches on the
right, will secure us from the charge of men-at-arms. Their bowmen we
need not fear, my Liege."

"I have bethought me, my old friend, of a defence, too, for our
archers in the front. We have all heard how at Bannockburn, in the
time of good King Edward, pitfalls were dug to break the charging
horse. We have no time for that; but I think, if we should plant
before our archers, long stakes pointed with iron, a little leaning
forward towards the foe, the British bows would be secure against the
chivalry of France; or, if they were assailed and the enemy did break
through, 'twould be in wild disorder and rash disarray, as was the
case at Cressy."

"A marvellous good thought, my Liege; but every battle has a change.
Those who were once attacked, become the attackers, and should such be
our case, how will you clear the way for our own men from the stakes
that were planted against the enemy?"

"That must be provided against, Sir Thomas. Each man must pull up the
stake near him."

"Nay, my Liege," said Sir John Grey, joining in. "Let a hundred
billmen be ranged with the second line of archers; and, at a word
given, pass through and root up the stakes."

"Right, right, Sir John," answered the King. "Then the fury of our
charge, when charge we may, will not be checked by our own defences.
Our van must be all archers, with the exception of the brown
bills--and I think to give the command----"

"I do beseech you, my lord the King," said the Duke of York, advancing
from behind, "to let me have that post, and lead the van of your
battle. Words have been spoken, and rumours have been spread, which
make me eager for a place of danger. You must not refuse me, royal
prince."

"Nor will I, cousin," answered Henry. "On your honour and good faith,
I have as much reliance, as on your skill and courage, which no man
dares to doubt. Are you not a Plantagenet?"

The Duke caught his hand and kissed it; and if he had taken any share,
as some suspected, in the conspiracy of Southampton, he expiated his
fault on the succeeding day, by glorious actions and a hero's death.

"Now," said the King, after some further examination of the field,
"you understand our disposition, noble knights; and to you I entrust
it to secure the ground during the night, and to make the arrangements
for to-morrow. Cousin of York, you lead the van. I myself, with my
young brother, Humphrey of Gloucester, will command the main battle.
Oxford and Suffolk, you and the Lord Marshal shall give us counsel. My
uncle of Exeter shall lead our rearward line, and this good knight of
Erpingham shall be our marshal of the field. Let all men in the centre
fight on foot: and let the cavalry be ranged on either wing to improve
the victory I hope to win. When all is ready, back to your beds and
sleep, first praying God for good success to-morrow. Then, in the
morning early, feed your men. Let them consume whatever meat is left;
for if we gain the day, they shall find plenty on before; and if we
lose it, few methinks will want provisions."

Thus saying, the King turned and walked back towards the village; and
Sir John Grey choosing that moment, advanced and addressed him in a
low tone in regard to Richard of Woodville. Henry soon stopped him,
however--"We cannot speak on that to-night, my noble friend," he said.
"It grieves me much, I own, to debar a gallant gentleman from sharing
in a field like this. I know that it will grieve him more than death;
but yet--Nay, no more. We will not speak of this. Set watch upon
him;--but not too strict. You understand me; and you who taught my
infant hands first to draw a bow, shall fight by my side to-morrow.
Now, good night--I will tell you my belief; it is, that this youth is
guiltless. I do not often rashly judge men's characters; and I formed
my estimate of his, long, long ago. Farewell, and God shield us all
to-morrow."

Sir John Grey hurried home, and found, that, during his long absence,
all in the house where he was quartered, except one or two of his own
personal attendants and the necessary guard, had retired to rest. Ere
he sought his pillow also, however, he sat down and wrote some hurried
lines, which he signed and sealed; and then, with a silent step
seeking the chamber where Richard of Woodville slept, with two or
three yeomen across the door, he went in, and gazed for a moment at
the young knight, as he lay upon his little pallet, with his arm under
his head, and a well-pleased smile upon his slumbering face.

"That is not the sleep of guilt," said Sir John in a low murmur to
himself. "There, that gives him my Mary, if I fall to-morrow;" and
thus saying, he laid the paper he had written upon Woodville's bosom,
and retired to his own chamber.



                             CHAPTER XLV.

                             THE BATTLE.


The morning of the twenty-fifth of October, St. Crispin's day, dawned
bright, but not altogether clear. There was a slight hazy mist in the
air, sufficient to soften the distant objects; but neither to prevent
the eye from ranging to a great distance, nor the sun, which was
shining warm above, from pouring his beams through the air, and
tinging the whole vapour with a golden hue. Early in the morning, both
armies were on foot; but more bustle and eagerness were observable in
the French camp, than amongst the English, who showed a calmer and
less excited spirit, weighing well the hazards of the day, and though
little doubting of victory, still feeling that no light and joyful
task lay before them.

The French, however, were all bustle and activity. Men-at-arms were
seen hurrying from place to place, gathering around their innumerable
banners, ranging themselves under their various leaders, or kneeling
and taking vows to do this or that, of which inexorable fate forbade,
in most cases, the accomplishment. Nothing was heard on any side but
accents of triumph and satisfaction, prognostications of a speedy and
almost bloodless victory over an enemy, to whom they were superior by
at least six times the number of the whole English host,--and bloody
resolutions of avenging the invasion of France, and the capture of
Harfleur, by putting to death all prisoners except the King and other
princes, from whom large ransoms might be expected; for a vain people
is almost always a sanguinary one. A proud nation can better afford to
forgive. Nothing was heard, I have said, but such foolish boastings,
and idle resolutions: but I ought to have excepted some less jocund
observations, which were made here and there in a low tone, amongst
the older, but not wiser of the French nobility, prompted by the
superstitious spirit of the times, which was apt to draw auguries from
very trifling indications.

"Heard you how the music of these islanders made the whole air ring
throughout the night?" said one.

"And ours was quite silent," said another.

"We have no instruments," rejoined a third. "This King of theirs is
fond of such toys, and plays himself like a minstrel, I am told: but I
remarked a thing which is more serious; their horses neighed all
night, as if eager for a course, and ours uttered not a sound."

"That looks bad, indeed," observed one of the others.

"Perhaps their horses, as well as their men, are frightened," answered
another.

"I have seen no sign of fear," replied one of the first speakers, with
a shake of the head.

"Why the rumour goes," said the first, "that Henry of England sent on
Wednesday, to announce that he would give up Harfleur, and pay for all
the damage he has done, if we would but grant him a free passage to
his town of Calais."

"It is false," replied the first speaker. "I asked the Constable last
night myself, and he said that there is not a word of truth in the
whole tale, and that Henry will fight like a boar at bay: so every
Frenchman must do his devoir; for if, with six times his numbers, we
let the Englishmen win the day, it must be by our folly or our own
fault."

As he spoke, the Constable D'Albret, followed by a gallant train of
knights and noblemen, rode past on a splendid charger, horse and man
completely armed; and, turning his head as he passed each group, he
snouted, "To the standard, to the standard, gentlemen! Under your
banners, men of France! You will want shade, for the sun shines, and
we have a hot day before us."

Thus saying, he rode on, and the French lines were speedily formed in
three divisions, like the English. The first, or vanguard, comprised
eight thousand men-at-arms, all knights or squires, four thousand
archers, and fifteen hundred crossbowmen, and was led by the
Constable, the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon, with some twenty other
high lords of France, while upon either wing appeared a large body of
chosen cavalry. The whole line was glittering with gilded armour, and
gay with a thousand banners of embroidered arms; and, as the sun shone
upon it, no courtly pageant was ever more bright and beautiful to see.

The main body consisted of a still larger force, under the Dukes of
Bar and Alençon, with six counts, each a great vassal of the crown of
France. The rear guard was more numerous still; but in it were
comprised the light armed and irregular troops, and a mixed multitude
upon whom little dependence could be placed.

When all were arranged in order, on the side of the hill, the
Constable addressed the troops, in words of high and manly courage,
tinged perhaps with a little bombast; and when he had done, the whole
of that vast force remained gazing towards the opposite slope, and
expecting every moment to see the English army appear, and endeavour
to force its way onward towards Calais. As yet, but a few scattered
bodies of the invaders were apparent upon the ground, and some time
passed, ere the heads of the different corps were descried issuing
forth in perfect order to the sound of martial music, and taking up
their position on the field, marked out by Henry during the night
before. Their appearance, as compared with that of the French host,
was poor and insignificant in the extreme. Traces of travel and of
strife were evident in their arms and in their banners; and their
numbers seemed but as a handful opposed to the long line which covered
the hill before them. Yet there was something in the firm array, the
calm and measured step, the triumphant sound of their trumpets and
their clarions, the regular lines of their archers and of their
cavalry, the want of all haste, confusion, or agitation, apparent
through the whole of that small host, which was not without its effect
upon their enemies, who began to feel that there would be indeed a
battle, fierce, bloody, and determined, before the day, so fondly
counted theirs, was really won.

Prompt and well-disciplined, with their bows on their shoulders, their
quivers and their swords at their sides, and their heavy axes in their
hands, the English archers at once took up the position assigned to
them, with as much precision as if at some pageant or muster. Each
instantly planted in the earth a heavy iron-shod stake, which he
carried in his left hand, and drove it in with blows from the back of
his axe; and then each strung his bow, and drew an arrow from the
quiver. Behind, at a short distance, came the battle of the King,
consisting of heavy armed infantry, principally billmen, with a strong
force of cavalry on either hand. The rearward, under the Duke of
Exeter, appeared shortly after on the hill above; and each of the two
last divisions occupied its appointed ground with the same regularity
and tranquil order which had been displayed by the van.

The preparations which they perceived, the pitching of the stakes, the
marshalling of the English forces, and the position which they had
taken up, showed the French commanders that the King of England was
determined his battle should be a defensive one; and the appearance of
some bodies of the enemy in the neighbourhood of the village of
Agincourt, with the burning of a mill and house upon the same side,
led them to believe that some stratagem was meditated, which must be
met by prompt action with the principal corps of Henry's army.

That there were difficulties in attacking a veteran force in such a
position, the Constable D'Albret clearly saw, but he was naturally of
a bold and rash disposition; his enemies of the Burgundian party had
more than once accused him of his irresolution and incapacity; and he
resolved that no obstacle should daunt, or induce him to avoid a
battle, with such an overpowering force at his command. He gave the
order then to move forward at a slow pace, and probably did not
perceive the full perils of his undertaking, till his troops had
advanced too far, between the two woods, to retreat with either honour
or safety. When he discovered this, it would seem an order was given
to halt, and for some minutes the two armies paused, observing each
other, the English determined not to quit their ground, the French
hesitating to attack.

A solemn silence pervaded the whole field; but then Henry himself
appeared, armed from head to foot in gilded armour, a royal crown
encircling his helmet, covered with precious stones, and his beaver
up, displaying his countenance to his own troops. Mounted on a
magnificent white horse, he rode along the line of archers in the van,
within half a bow shot of the enemy, exhorting the brave yeomen, in
loud tones, and with a cheerful face, to do their duty to their
country and their King. Every motive was held out that could induce
his soldiery to do gallant deeds; and he ended by exclaiming, "For my
part, I swear that England shall never pay ransom for my person, nor
France triumph over me in life; for this day shall either be famous
for my death, or in it I will win honour and obtain renown."

Along the second and third line he likewise rode, followed close by
Sir Thomas of Erpingham, with his bald head bare, and the white hair
upon his temples streaming in the wind; and to each division the King
addressed nearly the same words. The only answer that was made by the
soldiers was, "On, on! let us forward!" and the only communication
which took place between the King and his marshal of the host occurred
when at length Henry resumed his position in the centre of the main
battle.

"They are near enough, my Liege," said the old knight. "Is your Grace
ready?"

"Quite," replied Henry. "Have you left a guard over the baggage?"

"As many as could be spared, Sire," replied the Marshal. "Shall we
begin?"

Henry bowed his head; and the old knight, setting spurs to his horse,
galloped along the face of the three lines, waving his truncheon in
his hand, and exclaiming, "Ready, ready! Now, men of England, now!"

Then, in the very centre of the van, he stopped by the side of the
Duke of York, dismounted from his horse, put on his casque, which a
page held ready; and then, hurling his leading staff high into the
air, as he glanced over the archers with a look of fire untamed by
age, he cried aloud, "Now strike!"

Each English yeoman suddenly bent down upon his knee and kissed the
ground. Then starting up, they gave one loud, universal cheer, at
which, to use the terms of the French historian, "the Frenchmen were
greatly astounded." Each archer took a step forward, drew his
bow-string to his ear; and, as the van of the enemy began to move on,
a cloud of arrows fell amongst them, not only from the front, but from
the meadow on their flank, piercing through armour, driving the horses
mad with pain, and spreading confusion and disarray amidst the immense
multitude which, crowded into that narrow field, could only advance in
lines thirty deep.

"Forward, forward!" shouted the French knights.

"On, for your country and your King!" cried the Constable D'Albret;
but his archers and cross-bowmen would not move; and, plunging their
horses through them, the French men-at-arms spurred on in terrible
disarray, while still amongst them fell that terrible shower of
arrows, seeming to seek out with unerring aim every weak point of
their armour, piercing their visors, entering between the gorget and
the breast-plate, transfixing the hand to the lance. Of eight hundred
chosen men-at-arms, if we may believe the accounts of the French
themselves, not more than a hundred and forty could reach the stakes
by which the archers stood. This new impediment produced still more
confusion: many of the heavy-armed horses of the French goring
themselves upon the iron pikes, and one of the leaders, who cast
himself gallantly forward before the rest, being instantly pulled from
his horse, and slain by the axes of the English infantry; whilst still
against those that were following were aimed the deadly shafts, till,
seized with terror, they drew the bridle and fled, tearing their way
through the mingled mass behind them, and increasing the consternation
and confusion which already reigned.

At the same moment, the arrows of the English archers being expended,
the stakes were drawn up; and encouraged by the evident discomfiture
of the French van, the first line of the English host rushed upon the
struggling crowd before them, sword in hand, rendering the disarray
and panic irremediable, slaughtering immense numbers with their swords
and axes, and changing terror into precipitate flight.

Up to this period, Henry, surrounded by some of his principal knights,
stood immoveable upon the slope of the hill, but seeing his archers
engaged hand to hand with the enemy, he pointed out with his truncheon
a knight in black armour with lines of gold, about a hundred yards
distant upon his left, saying, "Tell Sir Henry Dacre to move down with
his company to support the van. The enemy may rally yet." A squire
galloped off to bear the order; and instantly the band to which he
addressed himself swept down in firm array, while the King, with the
whole of the main body, moved slowly on to insure the victory.

No further resistance, indeed, was made by the advanced guard of the
French. Happy was the man who could save himself by flight; the
archers and the cross-bowmen, separating from each other, plunged into
the wood; many of the men-at-arms dismounting from their horses, and
casting off their heavy armour, followed their example; and others,
flying in small parties, rallied upon the immense body led by the
Dukes of Bar and Alençon, which was now advancing, in the hope of
retrieving the day. It was known that the Duke of Alençon had sworn to
take the King of England, alive or dead, and the contest now became
more fierce and more regular. Pouring on in thunder upon the English
line, the French men-at-arms seemed to bear all before them; but
though shaken by the charge, the English cavalry gallantly maintained
their ground; and, as calm as if sitting at the council-table, the
English King, from the midst of the battle, even where it was fiercest
around him, issued his commands, rallied his men, and marked with an
approving eye, and often with words of high commendation, the conduct
of the foremost in the fight.

"Wheel your men, Sir John Grey," he cried, "and take that party in the
green upon the flank. Bravely done, upon my life; Sir Harry Dacre
seems resolved to outdo us all. Give him support, my Lord of
Hungerford. See you not that he is surrounded by a score of lances! By
the holy rood, he has cleared the way. Aid him, aid him, and they are
routed there!"

"That is not Sir Harry Dacre, my Lord the King," said a gentleman
near. "He is in plain steel armour. I spoke with him but a minute
ago."

"On, on," cried Henry, little heeding him. "Restore the array on the
right, Sir Hugh Basset. They have bent back a little. On your guard,
on your guard, knights and gentlemen! Down with your lances. Here they
come!" and at the same moment, a large body of French, at the full
gallop, dashed towards the spot where the King stood. In an instant,
the Duke of Gloucester, but a few yards from the monarch, was
encountered by a knight of great height and strength, and cast
headlong to the ground. Henry spurred up to his brother's defence, and
covering him with his shield, rained a thousand blows, with his large,
heavy sword, upon the armour of his adversary, while two of the Duke's
squires drew the young Prince from beneath his horse.

"Beware, beware, my Lord the King!" cried a voice upon his left; and
turning round, Henry beheld the knight in the black armour, pointing
with his mace to the right, where the Duke of Alençon, some fifty
yards before a large party of the French chivalry, was galloping
forward, with his battle-axe in his hand, direct towards the King.
Henry turned to meet him; but that movement had nearly proved fatal to
the English monarch; for as he wheeled his horse, he saw the black
knight cover him with his shield, receive upon it a tremendous blow
from the gigantic adversary who had overthrown the Duke of Gloucester,
and, swinging high his mace, strike the other on the crest a stroke
that brought his head to his horse's neck. A second dashed him to the
ground; but Henry had time to remark no more, for Alençon was already
upon him, and he had now to fight hand to hand for life. Few men,
however, could stand before the English monarch's arm; and in an
instant, the Duke was rolling in the dust. A dozen of the foot
soldiers were upon him at once.

"Spare him, spare him!" cried the King; but, ere his voice could be
heard, a dagger was in the unhappy prince's throat.

When Henry looked round, the main body of the French were flying in
confusion, the rear guard had already fled; and all that remained upon
the field of Agincourt of the magnificent host of France, were the
prisoners, the dying, or the dead, except where here and there,
scattered over the ground, were seen small parties of twenty or
thirty, separated from the rest, and fighting with the courage of
despair.

"Let all men be taken to mercy," cried the King, "who are willing to
surrender. Quick, send messengers, uncle of Exeter, to command them to
give quarter."

"My Lord the King! my Lord the King!" cried the voice of a man,
galloping up in haste, "the rear-guard of the enemy have rallied, and
are already in your camp, pillaging and slaying wherever they come."

"Ha, then, we will fight them too," cried the monarch. "Keep the
field, my Lord Duke, and prevent those fugitives from collecting
together;" and gathering a small force of cavalry, Henry himself rode
back at speed towards the village of Maisoncelles. But when he reached
the part of the camp where his baggage had been left, the King found
that the report of the French rear-guard having rallied, was false.
Tents had been overthrown, it is true, houses had been burnt, wagons
had been pillaged; and the work of plunder was still going on. But the
only force in presence consisted of some six or seven hundred armed
peasantry, headed by about six score men-at-arms, with three or four
gentlemen apparently of knightly rank. The cavaliers, who had
dismounted, instantly sprang on their horses and fled when the English
horse appeared; and Henry, fearing to endanger his victory, shouted
loudly not to pursue.

"I beseech you, my Liege, let me bring you back one of them," cried
the knight in the black armour, who was on the King's left; and ere
Henry could reply, digging his spurs deep into his horse's sides, he
was half a bow-shot away after the fugitives. They fled fast, but not
so fast as he followed.

"We must give him aid, or he is lost," cried the King, riding after;
but ere he could come up, the knight had nearly reached the three
hindmost horsemen, shouting loudly to them to turn and fight.

Two did so; but hand to hand he met them both, stunned the horse of
one by a blow upon the head, and then turning upon the other,
exclaimed, "We have met at length, craven and scoundrel! We have met
at length!"

The other replied not, but by a thrust of his sword at the good
knight's visor. It was well aimed; and the point passed through the
bars and entered his cheek. At the same moment, however, the black
knight's heavy mace descended upon his foeman's head, the crest was
crushed, the thick steel gave way, and down his enemy rolled--hung for
a moment in the stirrup--and then fell headlong on the ground.

Light as air, the victor sprang from his saddle, and setting his foot
upon his adversary's neck, gazed fiercely upon him as he lay. There
were some few words enamelled above the visor; and crying aloud, "Ave,
Maria!" the black knight shook his mace high in the air, then dropped
it by the thong without striking, and, unclasping his own helmet, as
the King came up, exposed the head of Richard of Woodville. Such was
the last deed of the battle of Agincourt.



                            CHAPTER XLVI.

                           THE CONCLUSION.


In the same large and magnificent hall of the royal castle at Calais,
in which Edward III. entertained his prisoners after his chivalrous,
though imprudent combat with the French forces under the walls of that
town, was assembled the Court of England on the arrival of his great
descendant, Henry V., some days subsequent to the battle of Agincourt.
The scene was a splendid one; for, though the monarch and many of his
nobility had to mourn the loss of near and dear relatives in that
glorious field, no time had yet been given to prepare the external
signs of grief; and the habiliments of all were, either the gay robes
of peace and rejoicing, or the still more splendid panoply of war. As
may be naturally supposed, the greater number of those present were
men; but, nevertheless, the circle round the King's person contained
several of the other sex; for, besides the wife and daughters of the
Governor of Calais, and the ladies of several of the principal
officers and citizens of the town, a number of the female relations of
the conquerors of Agincourt, who had come over to the English city, on
the first news of the army's march from Harfleur, were likewise in the
hall.

No pageant or revel, however, was going forward; and, although Henry
could not but feel the vast importance of the deed that he had
achieved, and the great results which might be expected to ensue, both
in strengthening his power at home, and extending it abroad, yet his
countenance was far more grave and thoughtful than it had been before
the battle; and rejoicing, as was natural, at such vast success, he
rejoiced with moderation, and repressed every expression of triumph.

After speaking for some time with the persons round him, he turned to
Sir John Grey, who stood at a short distance on his left hand; and
noticing with a kindly smile the knight's fair daughter, he said,
"Now, my noble friend, you besought me this morning to hear what you
had to bring before me, concerning Sir Richard of Woodville. Ere I
listen to a word, however, let me at once say, that the good service
rendered by that knight upon the field of Agincourt wipes out whatever
offence he may have before committed; and without prayer or
solicitation, I free him from all bonds, and pardon everything that
may be passed."

As he spoke, Richard of Woodville advanced from behind, and standing
before the King, exclaimed, "I beseech you, Sire, to withdraw that
pardon, and to judge me as if I had never drawn sword or couched lance
in your service. If I am guilty, my guilt is but increased by having
dared to break ward, and fight amidst honest Englishmen; and I claim
no merit for what little I have done, except in having brought to your
Majesty's feet the traitor scoundrel, Simeon of Roydon, who doubtless,
with his own lips, will now confess his treason towards you, his
falsehood towards me."

"If he do not," said Sir John Grey, boldly, "I have, thank God, ample
means to prove it. Let him be called, my Liege, and with him a certain
knave, a prisoner likewise in my hands, named Edward Dyram."

"Ha!" cried the King, with a smile--"has our old friend Ned Dyram,
too, a share in this affair? I had thought the warning I once gave
might have taught him to mend his manners."

"They are past mending, my Liege," answered Sir John Grey. "The
villain will doubtless deny all, for he is a hardened knave as ever
lived; but we can convict him notwithstanding."

"Well, call them in," answered Henry, "and have all things ready." And
while Sir John Grey and Sir William Philip, the King's treasurer,
quitted the circle for a moment, Henry turned to Mary Grey, and
addressed her in a low tone, with a smiling countenance. The crowd
drew back to let the King speak at ease; and the only words that made
themselves heard were, "Methinks, fair lady, you have some interest in
this affair?"

"Deep, my Liege," replied Mary Grey, with a glowing cheek.

What the King answered was not distinct to those around; but the lady
raised her bright eyes to his face, replying eagerly, "More for his
honour than for his life, Sire."

No time was lost, for Sir John Grey, expecting a speedy hearing, had
prepared all; and in less than five minutes he re-entered the hall,
followed by a number of persons, some of whom accompanied him to the
end of the chamber where the King was placed, and ranged themselves
behind the circle, while the rest, consisting of prisoners and those
who guarded them, remained near the door by which they entered.

Henry fixed his eyes upon the group there standing, and seemed to
examine them attentively for a moment in silence, then raising his
voice, he exclaimed, "Bring forward Simeon of Roydon, and Edward
Dyram."

The two whom he called immediately advanced, with a man-at-arms on
either side. The knight held down his head and gazed upon the ground;
but the servant looked carelessly around, showing neither fear nor
doubt.

"Sir Simeon of Roydon," said the King, in a stern tone, as soon as the
culprit stood within a few yards of his person, "You have been taken
in arms against your country, and it were wise in you to make free
confession of your acts. I exhort you so to do, not promising you
aught, but for the relief of your own soul."

The knight paused for an instant, looked to Dyram, and then to Richard
of Woodville, and replied, "I have nought to confess, Sire. Unjustly
banished from my country, I had no right to regard myself as an
Englishman; but it was not against you, my Liege, that I bore arms. It
was against my enemy, who stands there. Him I sought, knowing him to
be in your camp."

"A poor excuse," replied the King; "and you must have had speedy
intelligence, since he arrived there but the night before; and you,
fellow," continued Henry, turning to Dyram, "What know you of this
knight, and his proceedings?"

"Very little, may it please your Grace," replied Ned Dyram; "I have
seen him before, I think; but where it was, I cannot justly say."

"May I ask one question of the guard, my Liege?" demanded Sir John
Grey. Henry inclined his head; and the knight proceeded--"Have these
two men held any communication together in the anteroom?"

"They spoke together for a few moments in a strange tongue," answered
the man-at-arms whom he addressed; "and when we parted them, they
still talked from time to time across the room."

"Well," replied the old knight, "it will serve them but little. Have
you the papers, Sir William Philip?"

"They are here," said the treasurer; and he placed a roll in the
King's hand.

Henry looked at the first paper casually, saying, "This I know;" but
regarded the second more attentively, and, after reading it through,
turned to Sir John Grey, and inquired, "What is this? I see it refers
to the man before us. But how was it obtained?"

"It is referred to, my Liege, in the question, number four, which your
Grace permitted me to draw up. You will find them further on. The two
following letters I need not explain. The only question is, as to
their authenticity, which can be proved."

The King read them all through with care; and then taking a paper from
the bottom of the roll, which appeared to contain a long list of
interrogatories, numbered separately, and written in a good clerkly
hand, he perused it from the beginning to the end. After having read
it, he turned to Sir Simeon of Roydon, saying, "You are here charged
with grave offences, sir, besides the crime in which you were taken.
It is stated here, that you purchased the arms of Sir Richard of
Woodville, when they were sold in Ghent, on his men leaving the
service of Burgundy to return to England; and that you took his name
while following our army up the Somme, and attacking our straggling
parties with a leader of free companions, named Robinet de
Bournonville. Is it so, or is it not so?"

"This can be proved, my Liege," said Richard of Woodville; "for Sir
Philip Beauchamp here present, saw the arms in which this caitiff was
taken; and he can swear that they were a gift from himself to me."

"I acknowledge, Sire, that I did purchase them," replied Simeon of
Roydon; "and what my companions may have called me, I know not; but if
perchance they called me Woodville, it was in jest; but no man can say
that I was seen following your army from Harfleur hither."

"It is enough, it is enough," said the King. "Of this charge, Richard,
you are free," he continued, turning to Woodville; and then resuming
his interrogatories, he went on to ask, "Did you, or did you not, Sir
Simeon of Roydon, intercept a letter from me to this good knight, and
counterfeiting his signature, write a reply, refusing to obey my
commands?"

Sir Simeon of Roydon started, and turned a fierce look upon Ned Dyram,
as if he suspected that he had been betrayed; but the surprise which
he saw in the man's face, notwithstanding a strong effort to repress
it, convinced him that Henry had other sources of information; but
resolute in his course to the last, he replied in a bold tone, "It is
false. Who is my accuser?"

The King looked round; and a sweet musical voice replied, "I am!"

"Stand forward, stand forward," said the King. "Ha! who are you? I
have seen that fair face before."

"Once, my Liege," said Ella Brune, advancing, dressed in the garments
she had worn immediately after her grandsire's death, "and then your
Grace did as you always do, rendered justice both to the offender and
the offended. I accuse this man of having done the deed that you have
mentioned, and many another blacker still. I accuse him of having made
use of him who stands beside him, Edward Dyram--pretending to be a
servant of Sir Richard of Woodville, long after he had been driven in
disgrace from his train--to obtain from the messenger of the Count of
Charolois the letter which your Grace had sent. Speak," she continued,
turning to Dyram, "Is it not true?"

The man hesitated, and turned red and white, but was silent.

"Speak," reiterated Ella Brune, "it is your last chance. Then read
this letter, my Liege," she continued, "from the noble Count of
Charolois, wherein he states, that he has traced out this foul and
wicked plot, and----"

"I will confess I _did_," exclaimed Dyram; "I did get the letter. I
did aid to forge the answer; but he, he--Richard of Woodville--struck
me, and I vowed revenge."

"What more?" demanded the King, sternly. "If you hope for life speak
truth. _You_ have not defiled knightly rank; _you_ have not degraded
noble birth; _you_ have not violated all that should keep men honest
and true. There is some hope for you."

"Ha, knave!" exclaimed Simeon of Roydon, gazing at him fiercely; but
Dyram hesitated and paused without reply; and Ella Brune proceeded,
pointing with her fair hand to the papers which the King held open
before him, and demanding, while her dark eyes fixed stern on Dyram's
face, "And the letter from the prisoner of Montl'herry, to Sir John
Grey, did you not erase the words with which it ended--they were, if I
remember right, 'touching my ransom,'--and change the Christian name
in the superscription?"

"No, no," cried the man vehemently, knowing that the charge might well
affect his life. "No, I did not--nobody saw me do it; I say I did not."

"Fool!" cried Ella Brune, after giving him a moment to consider; "Your
hate has been dangerous to others, your love has been dangerous to
yourself--Give me that cup! My Lord the King, may I crave to see the
letter I have named?"

Henry took it from the rest, and placed it in her hand; and, dipping
her finger in a cup containing a clear white fluid, which the page of
Sir John Grey brought forward, she ran it over the line immediately
preceding Richard of Woodville's signature. The King gazed earnestly
on the parchment as she did so, and, to his surprise, he beheld the
words she had mentioned reappear--somewhat faint and indistinct, it is
true, but legible enough to show that the meaning of the whole paper
had been falsified by their erasure.

"That wretched man," said Ella Brune, pointing to Dyram, "in a foolish
fit of tenderness towards my poor self, taught me the art of restoring
writings long effaced; and now, by his own skill, I show you his own
knavery."

Henry turned round with a generous smile of sincere pleasure towards
Richard of Woodville, saying, "I was sure I was not mistaken,
Richard;" and he held out his hand.

The young knight took it, and pressed his lips upon it, replying, "You
seldom are, Sire; but there is more to come, or I am mistaken."

"Nay, with him I have done," said Ella Brune, looking at Dyram:
"unless he thinks, by free confession of the whole, and telling how a
greater knave than himself led him on from fault to fault, to merit
forgiveness, the matter affecting him is closed."

"It is vain to conceal it," cried Dyram; "not that I hope for grace,
for that is past; but there will be some satisfaction in punishing him
who was never grateful for any service rendered him."

"It was yourself you served, villain, and your own passions--not me!"
cried Simeon of Roydon, with his eyes flashing fire.

"And how did you treat me?" cried Dyram. "It is true, my Liege, to
gain this girl--devil incarnate as she seems to be!--I would have
sacrificed aught on earth; and when, after laying a plot with this man
to win her--which, by his knavery, had well nigh ended in her ruin--I
confessed my fault to yonder knight, and he spurned me like a dog, I
would have done as much to take vengeance upon him. I found a ready
aid in good Sir Simeon of Roydon, who loved him as dearly as I did. In
turns we planned and executed. He devised the letter touching the
ransom; he prompted the Duke of Orleans and the Count of Armagnac: I
erased the writing, and changed the superscription. Then, again, I
hinted that in the armour he had bought, and under the name of its
first owner, he might follow your camp, and clench the suspicion of
Sir Richard's treason, by proofs that would seem indubitable; never
doubting, indeed, that our enemy would be kept long in Montl'herry,
but little caring whether the sword fell on the one knight or the
other. To make all sure, however, I was sent to Montl'herry; but I
arrived too late to prevent the prisoner's escape; and only discovered
by whose assistance it was effected--by that fair maiden there, now
clerk and now demoiselle. My story is told, and I have nought to
plead. We are both guilty alike; we both loved, and we both hated: but
I would not have willingly injured her, who has now destroyed me. In
that, and that only, am I better than this noble knight."

"Have you aught more to say, fair maiden, concerning Sir Simeon of
Roydon?" asked Henry; "if not, I will at once deal with both of them
as they merit."

"Nay, I beseech you, Sire," exclaimed Richard of Woodville, "before
you act in any way, listen to me for one moment."

"Speak--speak, my good friend," replied Henry; "I am always willing to
hear anything in reason--what would you say?"

"I know not whether your Grace would wish it spoken aloud," said
Woodville; "it refers to a time before your accession to the throne."

"Oh yes! speak, speak!" cried Henry; "I have not forgotten Hal of
Hadnock. What of those days?"

"Why, Sire, you may remember," answered Woodville, "that, as that
noble gentleman you have just named and I rode by the stream near
Dunbury, one night in the spring of the year, we found the body of my
poor cousin Kate drowned in the water. The man before you thought fit
to cast foul doubts on as true and gallant a gentleman as ever lived,
Sir Henry Dacre. He now lies at the point of death from wounds
received near Agincourt, and if aught on earth can save him, it will
be to know that his good name is cleared from all suspicion. If this
man could but be brought to speak, and to acknowledge that the charges
he insinuated were false, it would be balm to a bruised heart."

"Nay," cried the King, "his falsehood is so evident, his knavery so
great, that charges from his mouth are now but empty air. Yet I have
heard how Sir Harry Dacre has suffered the bare doubt to prey like a
canker upon his peace. Speak, Simeon of Roydon; and, if it be your
last word, speak truth. Know you aught of Catherine Beauchamp's
death?--and, if you do, whose was the hand that did that horrid deed?"

"Sir Harry Dacre's," answered Roydon, with a malignant smile; for he
thought to triumph even in death. "No one doubts it, I believe. Does
your Grace?"

"Ay, that I do," answered Henry; "and I have good cause to doubt it.
That man was sent by me to make inquiries," and he pointed to Dyram;
"and everything that he discovered, I pray you mark, gentlemen all,
tended to show that it was impossible Sir Henry Dacre could have done
the deed. I have often fancied, indeed, that the knave had learned
more than he divulged to me. Is it so, sir? I remember your ways in
times of old, that you would tell part, and keep back part. Did you
learn aught else?"

"Oh, no, Sire," replied Dyram, with a laugh, glancing his keen eyes
towards Richard of Woodville; "I know nought; but I suppose that Sir
Henry Dacre did it."

"My Lord the King," said Ella Brune, who had remained silent, with her
dark eyes cast down, while this conversation took place, "I can give
your Grace the information that you seek to have."

"Ha!--you!" cried Roydon, gazing at her with glaring eyes. "This is
all pure hate. Mark, if she do not say I did it!"

"You did!" answered Ella, fixing her eyes upon him. "Do you remember
the night after the Glutton mass?--I was there! Do you remember hiding
beneath the willows on the abbey side of the stream?--I was there! Do
you remember the lady coming and asking for the information you had
promised to give, and your assailing her with words of love, and
seeking to win her from her promised husband?--I was there!"

"False! false! all false!" cried Sir Simeon of Roydon; but his face as
he spoke was deadly pale.

"If you saw all, fair maiden," said the King, "why did you not at once
denounce the murderer?"

"I saw all but the last act, my Liege," replied Ella Brune. "Having
wandered from Southampton with the poor old man, whom that knight
afterwards slew, we found kindly entertainment for our music in a
cottage at Abbot's Ann. Wearied with the noise and merriment, I went
out and sat beneath the trees; I witnessed what I have said; but then,
not to be an eavesdropper, I stole away. When I heard of the murder,
however, I well knew who had done it--for the lady answered him
scornfully--and I should have told the tale at once, but the old man
forbade me, showing that we were poor wandering minstrels, and that my
story against the noble and the great would not be credited; yet I am
certain that his hand did it."

"Out upon it!" cried Roydon; "will a King of England listen to such an
idle tale? will he not drive from his presence, with contempt, a
mountebank singer who, without one witness, brings such a charge in
pure hate?"

"Not without one witness," answered Ella Brune. "I have one."

"Call him!" said Henry; "if this man can clear himself from the
accusation, he shall have pardon for all the rest."

Ella Brune raised her hand and beckoned to some one standing behind
the circle, which had drawn somewhat closer round the spot where this
scene was going on. Immediately--while Sir John Grey made way--a lady
dressed in the habit of a novice, with her face closely covered,
advanced between the King and Simeon of Roydon.

"This is my witness," said Ella Brune; and as she spoke, the other
withdrew her veil.

Simeon of Roydon started back with a face pale as death, exclaiming,
"Catherine!--She is living! she is living!"

"Ay, but not by your will," answered Catherine Beauchamp; "for you
have long thought me dead--dead by the act of your own hand. My Lord
the King," she continued, "all that this excellent girl has said is
true. On a night you well remember, eager to learn from this man who
you really were, I sought him by the banks of the stream, where he had
promised to wait and tell me that and other matters, as he said,
nearly affecting me. It was wrong of me to do so; but I had done much
that was wrong ere then, and I had no scruples. He told me who you
were; and then, seeing that no great love existed between myself and
poor Harry Dacre, he sought to win my wealth, by inducing me to
violate the contract with my promised husband and wed him: what put
such a vain notion in his mind, I know not; but I laughed and taunted
him with bitter scorn; and he then told me that I should be his or
die. At first I feared not: but when I found him lift his hand and
grasp me by the throat, I screamed aloud for help, and struggled hard.
He mastered me, however, in an instant, and plunged me in the stream.
As I fell, I vowed that, if Heaven would send me help, I would make a
pilgrimage to St. James of Galicia. The waters, however, soon closed
above my head, and in the one dreadful moment which I had for
thought--as if the past had been cleared up and illumined by a flash
of lightning--all the faults and follies of my former life stood out
before me distinct and bright, stripped of the vain imaginations with
which I had covered them. I rose again for a moment to the air; and
then I vowed that, if God spared me, I would pledge myself to the
altar, and renouncing all that ensnared me, live out the rest of time
in penitence and prayer. I soon lost all recollection, however, and
when first I woke as from sleep, in great feebleness and agony, I
found myself in a litter, borne on towards the abbey. Consciousness
was speedily gone again: and when next I roused myself from that dull
slumber, my good uncle Richard, the abbot, and an old monk of his
convent, were the only persons near. As soon as I could speak, I told
them of my vows, and engaged them to keep my recovery a profound
secret, till I had taken the veil. The deeds that have been done,
however, compel me to come forward now, and tell the truth. I have
told it simply and without disguise; but yet I would fain plead for
this man's life. To him, as well as to others, I have had great
faults, and towards none more than poor Sir Harry Dacre. In a month,
however, my vows will be taken, and he will be free; but I would fain
not cloud the peace with which I renounce the world, by bringing death
on my bad cousin's head; and you, Sire, after such a mighty victory,
can well afford to pardon."

But Henry waved his hand: "Not a word for him!" he said; "loaded with
so many crimes, I give him up to trial; and by the sentence of his
judges will I abide. Remove the prisoners, and keep them under safe
ward; one word more, fair lady," he continued, as the men-at-arms led
Simeon of Roydon and Ned Dyram from the presence, "how has it so
fortunately chanced that you are here to-day?"

"I have travelled far, my Liege," replied Catherine Beauchamp, in a
gayer tone; "have made my pilgrimage, and passed part of my noviciate
in a cell of the order I have chosen near Dijon. Coming back I met
with some Canonesses, who were travelling under the escort of some
troops of Burgundy, and with them journeyed to Peronne, whence, under
the escort of Sir Richard of Woodville, and accompanied by this good
maiden, I came hither. I will not waste your time, my Liege, by
telling all the adventures that befel me by the way; but I have to ask
pardon of my noble cousin Richard, here, for teasing him somewhat in
Westminster and Nieuport, and doing him a still worse turn in Ghent by
a letter to Sir John Grey. But, good faith, to say the truth, I
thought he was a lighter lover than he has proved himself, and now
that I know all, I crave his forgiveness heartily."

"You have it, sweet Kate," answered Richard of Woodville; "but you
have several things to hear yet," he continued, in his blunt way, "and
some perhaps that may not be very palatable to you."

"Nay, I have heard all," answered Catherine Beauchamp; "but I stand no
more in the way of that love, which I had long seen turning to
another, when I spurned it from me myself. My vows at the altar will
remove all obstacles; and I trust that Dacre will see me as a sister
and a friend, though it be but to bid me adieu for ever."

"And I, Woodville," said the King, turning to the young knight, "I,
too, would ask you pardon, if I had ever truly suspected you. Such,
however, is not the case; and there are many here who can testify,
that though I was willing that you should be made to prove your
innocence, I never doubted that you could do so. For services
rendered, however, and high deeds done, as well as in compensation for
much that you have suffered, I give you one half of the forfeited
estates of the traitor Sir Thomas Grey, to hold for ever of us and of
our heirs, on presentation of a mace, such as that which beat down the
adversary of my brother Humphrey upon the day of Agincourt. Sir John
Grey, my good old friend, I think you, too, have a gift to give. Come,
let me see it given;" and leading forward Richard of Woodville, he
brought him to the side of Mary Grey. The old knight placed her hand
in his, and the King said "Benedicite."

Ella Brune turned away her head. Her cheek glowed; but there were no
tears in her eyes; and, ere many months were gone, she was a
cloistered nun in the same convent with Catherine Beauchamp.



                               THE END.





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