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Title: Long Will
Author: Converse, Florence, 1871-1967
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Long Will" ***

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         Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide,
                In thy most need to go by thy side.


This is No. 328 of Everyman's Library. A list of authors and their
works in this series will be found at the end of this volume. The
publishers will be pleased to send freely to all applicants a
separate, annotated list of the Library.


                     J. M. DENT & SONS LIMITED
                 10-13 BEDFORD STREET LONDON W.C.2

                      E. P. DUTTON & CO. INC.
                       286-302 FOURTH AVENUE
                              NEW YORK



                        EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY

                       EDITED BY ERNEST RHYS



                               FICTION



                             LONG WILL

                       BY FLORENCE CONVERSE



                       _All rights reserved_

                       _Made in Great Britain
                   at The Temple Press Letchworth
                  and decorated by Eric Ravilious
                                for
                     J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
                  Aldine House Bedford St. London_

               _First Published in this Edition 1908_

              _Reprinted 1911, 1917, 1919, 1923, 1926
                             1929, 1933_



                           EDITOR'S NOTE


This story forms a very tempting by-way into the old English life and
the contemporary literature which gave us Chaucer's _Canterbury
Tales_ and Langland's _Vision of Piers Plowman_. It deals with
those poets and with many figures of the fourteenth century whose
names still ring like proverbs in the twentieth--Wat Tyler and Jack
Straw, John Wycliff, John of Gaunt, and Richard II.--and it summons
them to real life in that antique looking-glass of history which is
romance. It begins in its prologue very near the evil day of the Black
Death, when the fourteenth century had about half run its course; and
in its epilogue it brings us to the year when the two poets died,
barely surviving the century they had expressed in its gaiety and its
great trouble, as no other century has ever been interpreted. To read
the story without wishing to read Chaucer and _Piers Plowman_ is
impossible, and if a book may be judged by its art in provoking a new
interest in other and older books, then this is one of an uncommon
quality. First published in 1903, it has already won a critical
audience, and it goes out now in a second edition to appeal to a still
wider public here and in America.

  _April 1908._



  To ..........

    _Lo, here is felawschipe:
    One fayth to holde,
    One truth to speake,
    One wrong to wreke,
  One loving-cuppe to syppe,
      And to dippe
  In one disshe faithfullich,
    As lamkins of one folde.
  Either for other to suffre alle thing.
    One songe to sing
  In swete accord and maken melodye.
  Right-so thou and I good-fellowes be:
      Now God us thee!_



    "Why I move this matere is moste for the pore,
     For in her lyknesse owre lord ofte hath ben y-knowe."

                               _The Vision Concerning Piers Plowman._
                                             B. PASSUS XI.



                         Contents


    PROLOGUE
                                                 PAGE

           I. _The Lark and the Cuckoo_              3

          II. _The Hills_                           11

         III. _Kingdoms Not of This World_          17


    PART I. The Malcontents

           I. _The Miracle_                         27

          II. _The Rose of Love_                    31

         III. _They That Mourn_                     39

          IV. _A Vow_                               46

           V. _A Disciple_                          48

          VI. _Food for Thought_                    61

         VII. _A Progress to Westminster_           65

        VIII. _An Embassage_                        75

          IX. _The King's Secret_                   80

           X. _Plot and Counterplot_                94

          XI. _Midsummer Eve_                      107

         XII. _Sanctuary_                          114

        XIII. _The Man o' Words_                   121


     PART II. The Pilgrimage

           I. _In the Cloisters_                   131

          II. _In Malvern Chase_                   137

         III. _By a Burn's Side_                   147

          IV. _A Boon_                             156

           V. _The Adventure in Devon_             164

          VI. _The Adventure in Cheshire_          180

         VII. _The Adventure in Yorkshire_         196

        VIII. _The Believers_                      217

          IX. _The Adventure in Kent_              228

           X. _The Poets Sing to Richard_          242


    PART III. The Rising

           I. _The Beginning_                      265

          II. _Blackheath_                         271

         III. _In the City_                        280

          IV. _In the Tower_                       286

           V. _Mile End_                           296

          VI. _Free Men_                           307

         VII. _Reaction_                           315

        VIII. _The Friday Night_                   319

          IX. _Smithfield_                         324

           X. _The Old Fetters_                    338

          XI. _The Prisoner_                       349

         XII. _Y-Robed in Russet_                  358


    EPILOGUE                                       369



                             PROLOGUE


   "'I am Ymagynatyf,' quod he, 'idel was I nevere.'"

                               _The Vision Concerning Piers Plowman._
                                           B. PASSUS XII.



                                 I

                      The Lark and the Cuckoo


There were a many singers on the hill-top. They twittered in the
gorse; they whistled from the old hawthorn tree, amid the white may;
they sprang to heaven, shaking off melody in their flight; and one,
russet-clad, lay at his length against the green slope, murmuring
English in his throat.

"'T was in a May morning," he said, "'T was in a May morning,"--and he
loitered over the words and drew out the "morwening" very long and
sweet. Then, because there was a singing mote of a lark in the misty
blue above him, his own song dropped back into his breast, and he
waited.

He was young and lank, and his hair was yellow-red. He followed the
lark up into the bright heaven with wide, unblinking eyes. The bird
fell to earth; somewhere unseen a cuckoo chanted. Three sheep on the
brow of the hill moved forward, slowly feeding.

"'T was on a May morning, on the Ma'vern Hills," whispered the singer,
"on the Ma'vern Hills;" and he fell in a dream.

The Great Hill of the Malverns stood over against the dreamer, a bare,
up-climbing majesty, a vasty cone, making its goal in long green
strides. Below, a wrinkle hinted a pass, and on the high flat saddle
between the Great Hill and the Small, the grass was trodden, albeit
not worn away. A bell called softly from a valley hidden eastward; and
up from the southwest, slantwise across a corner of the hill, a child
came running into the dream, a gay lad in scarlet hosen and a green
short coat, and shoes of fine leather. His eyes made a wonderment in
his face, but his lips curled a smile at the wonder. A dark elf-lock
danced on his forehead.

The dreamer moved no whit, but waited, level-eyed.

"What be these tricks?" cried the child in a voice betwixt a laugh and
a gasp. "I saw thee from yonder hill, and thou wert distant a day's
journey. Then the bell rang, and lo! I am here before the clapper 's
swung to rest."

He in the russet smiled, but answered nothing.

The little lad looked down and studied him. "I 've missed my way," he
said.

"What is thy way?"

"'T was the way o' the hunt, but marry, now 't is the way of a good
dinner,--and that 's a short road to the Priory. I am of Prince
Lionel's train."

"Ay," returned the other, as who should say, "No need to tell me
that;" and he added presently, "The hunt is below in the King's
Forest; how art thou strayed? Thou 'rt midway the top o' the Great
Hill."

The child laughed, but, though his eyes were merry, yet were they shy,
and the red mounted to his brow. He came a pace nearer.

"I made a little rondel to my lady; and it must be as my thought flew
up, so clomb my feet likewise, and I was not aware."

He plaited his fingers in his belt and flushed a deeper red, half
proud and half dismayed of his confession. "I trust thee for a secret
man, shepherd," he added.

The eyes of the dreamer laughed, but his lips were circumspect. He sat
up and nursed his knee with his two long arms.

"Ay, of a truth, a secret man, young master; but no shepherd," he
answered.

The little lad eyed him, and questioned with a child's simplicity,
"What art thou, then?"

The youth looked onward to the Great Hill. "I know not, yet," he said.

So for a little space he sat, forgetful of his questioner, until the
child came close and sat beside him, laying one hand upon his arm and
looking up to his face thoughtfully.

"Thou long brown man, it may be thou 'rt a poet," he said at last.

"It may well be," the dreamer acquiesced, and never turned his eyes
from the green hill.

"In London, at the court of the king, there be poets," the child
continued; "but thou art of quite other fashion. Who is thy
lady-love?"

"Saint Truth," the brown boy answered gravely.

"Saint--Truth!" repeated the child; "and is she dead, then?"

"Nay, I trow not; God forbid!"

"I marvel that thy lady chide thee not for thy mean apparel. In London
is not a friar plays his wanton lute beneath a chamber window but he
goeth better clad than thou."

"Hark you, young master, I follow not the friars!" the dreamer cried
with a stern lip. "And for my lady, she careth for naught but that my
coat be honestly come by. So far as I may discover, she hath not her
abode in the king's palace."

"Forsooth, a strange lady!" said the child; and then, leaning his head
against that other's shoulder, "Poet, tell me a tale."

"I pipe not for lordings, little master," the youth returned, anger
yet burning in his eyes.

"Nay, then, I 'm no lord," laughed the child; "my father is a vintner
in London. He hath got me in Prince Lionel's household by favour of
the king; for that the king loveth his merchants of the city; and well
he may, my father saith. There be others, lordings, among the children
of the household; but I am none. I am a plain man like to thee, poet."

The dreamer shook his head with a mournful smile. "Not so close to the
soil, master merchant, not so close to the soil. I smell o' the
furrow."

"Nay, I 'm no merchant, neither," the lad protested. "Hark in thine
ear, thou long brown stranger,--and I 'll call thee brother! My lady
saith I 'll be a poet. She 's a most wise and lovely lady. Come,--tell
me a tale!"

"I am no troubadour," sighed the brown youth; "I know one tale only,
and that is over long for a summer day."

But the child was angered; his eyes flashed, and he clenched one hand
and flung it backward, menacing:--

"I 'll believe thou mockest me," he cried. "Lying tongue! No poet
thou, but a lazy hind."

Then the gray, smouldering eyes of the dreamer shot fire, and a long
brown arm jerked the lad to his knees.

"I tell no lies. My lady is Saint Truth," the dreamer said. "Poet or
no poet, as thou wilt, I 'll not gainsay thee. But a truthteller
ever."

A little lamb that strayed near by looked up with startled face, and
scampered down the hill, crying "Ba-a-a!" The huntsman's note came
winding up from the green depths. The child arose and dusted his
knees.

"There be poets that yet lie amazingly,--and boast thereof," he
observed shrewdly; "but now I rede thy riddle of Saint Truth. 'T is a
sweet jest. I love thee for it, and by that I know thee for a poet.
Tell me thy tale, and we 'll be friends again. Of a surety thou art no
hind; Prince Lionel's self is not more haughty of mien than thou. Sing
then, poet,--smile!"

The dreamer cleared his brow but half unwillingly: "Who could not
choose but smile on such a teasing lad?" he asked; and then, "My tale
is but begun, and what the end shall be, or whether there be an
end,--who shall say? Hearken!

    In a summer season when soft was the sun,
    I set me in a shepherd's coat as I a shepherd were;
    In the habit of a hermit, yet unholy of works,
    Wandered I wide in this world wonders to hear.
    But in a May morning on Malvern Hills
    There befel me a wonder, wonderful methought it;
    I was weary of wandering and went me to rest
    Under a broad bank by a burn side,
    And as I lay and leaned and looked on the waters,
    I slumbered in a sleep"--

"No, no! not thus, not thus!" cried out the child on a sudden; "never
thus! An thou come to court they 'll not hearken thy long slow
measures. Thou shalt make thy verses the French way, with rhyme. Needs
must thou learn this manner of the French ere thou come to court."

"I have no mind to come to court," the dreamer answered. "I have no
mind to learn the manner of the French. There be a many souls in
England that know not such light songs. It is for them I sing,--for
the poor folk in cots. Think you that a poet may sing only for kings?"

"Nay, I trow he singeth neither for kings, nor for any manner wight,
but for his own soul's health," quoth the child right solemnly; "and
yet, 't were well for him if he have the good will of a king. My
rhymes will not match an my belly be empty. But tell on thy tale. I
like thine old fashion of singing."

And he listened the while the poet told of a high tower called Truth,
and an evil place to the north, where the devil dwelleth,--and a great
plain between. And here foregathered all kind of people that ever were
in this world,--pardoners, and merchants, and knights, and friars, and
cooks crying "Hot pies--hot!"--and fine ladies. And all these listened
to Repentance that preached them a sermon.

The child laughed out aloud. "Thy men are puppets, O poet!" he cried.
"Where is the breath of life in them? Didst never see a man, that thou
canst make him so like to a wooden doll? The stone abbot down yonder,
on his tomb in the Priory, is more alive than these. Hast seen the
Miracle Play in Paul's Churchyard at Whitsuntide? There will be a
crowd alive for thee. Hast never seen the 'prentices breaking each
other his pate of a holiday in London streets? There be men! Thine are
a string o' names my lord Bishop might be a-reading before the altar
to shame their owners."

"Men be but little more than names for me, young master. I dwell among
the hills. I know the sheep, the birds I know,--and Brother Owyn in
the Priory, that learned me to sing."

Again the child laughed. "And wilt thou sing o' the bare hill-tops,
and the sheep? Poets must sing of a fair launde where flowrets
blossom,--of a green pleasaunce,--of my lady's garden. But here 's a
waste! What wilt find for a song? And under, in the King's Forest, 't
is a fearsome place at nightfall. Come thou to court, to London,
brother. I 'll show thee the king's gardens. I 'll show thee men! I
'll teach thee the French manner."

A lark ran up the sky a-caroling, and the child and the dreamer waited
with their two heads thrown backward, watching. Then, when the bird
was nested, the child leaped up and waved his little arms, his eyes
shone, and "I 'll sing like to that one," he cried; "I 'll soar very
high, and sing, and sing, the world beneath me one ear to hearken. Let
us be larks, brother!"

But the dreamer shook his head. "I am the cuckoo. I sing but two
notes, and them over and over," he answered mournfully.

The little lad caught up the fantasy and played with it betwixt his
ripples of sweet laughter. "A brown bird, and it singeth hid,--two
soft and lovely notes. Nay, come thou to London and turn nightingale."

"Alas!" said the dreamer, and again, "Alas!"

And the Priory bell rang soft in the valley, ten clear strokes.

"Dinner!" exclaimed the child, "and my lady's rondel lacking of three
rhymes!"

"Yon 's the pass," said the dreamer, "between the two hills. 'T is a
straight road."

"Ay, and a long one, is 't? And the monks feed fast, and clean the
platter."

"Nay, 't is nearer than thou deem'st. Thy legs will carry thee to the
gate ere the first dish is empty. The mist that is ever on Ma'vern
Hills, even though the sun shine, maketh a near thing stand afar off.
Haste thee! And hearken; to-night, an thou 'lt have a merry tale of a
Green Knight and Sir Gawaine of Arthur's Court, see thou beseech
Brother Owyn. Himself hath been a knight one while."

The lad was twinkling down the pass, when he turned about, and "God
keep thee, cuckoo!" quoth he.

"God keep thee, little lark!" said the dreamer.



                                 II

                             The Hills


There are four chief hills of the Malverns: a round hill, a high hill,
a long hill, and a green deep-furrowed stronghold whither the
desperate Britons withdrew them once on a time, shrinking within the
greedy clutch of Rome. And here they beaconed the warning to their
fellows in the plain; and here they fought the losing battle, and
here, in the grassy upward-circling trenches, they laid them down to
sleep their last sleep.

But of these and their well-nigh forgotten defeat the dreamer recked
little as he lay on the sun-warmed slope of the Round Hill. He looked
inward, as dreamers will; and onward, as dreamers should; but
backward, not yet. The past was a bit of yellow parchment at the
bottom of an oak chest in the scriptorium of Malvern Priory. The
dreamer had touched it reverently, as one touches a dead thing, and
laid it away again. And Brother Owyn, looking on, had sighed. He too
had his dreams, but they came out of the joy and the sorrow that lay
at his back. Brother Owyn had chosen to live as one dead, but he could
not slay his past.

"I will sing of life that is, and is to come. I will prophesy!" said
the dreamer to Brother Owyn; and he went forth on the hills to wait
for the Still Small Voice. But a little child came upon him and
convicted him of his youth; and he was left on the hillside troubled,
discomfited, uncertain.

So, presently, he arose and skirted the slope to the flat saddle, and
set his face toward the summit of the Great Hill, and climbed up
thither with the long steady stride of one who knows the ground
beneath his feet. Straight up he went, a smooth green way for the most
part, with bare bones of rock breaking through here and there. He had
his world before him at the top, his little world of hill and river
and plain, all misty dim about the edges, or where the edges must have
been, all blue with the haze, and something like the sea. Close under
the hill the brown church of the Priory stood up proudly, out of the
midst of its lesser halls, its kitchen and guesten house. And all
round and about the King's Forest billowed away into the mist, east
and south. Neglected tillage, here and there a farm cut out of
woodland, bubbled up on little low near hills to westward; and in the
north,--its roof a sun-glance and its tower a shadow,--the cathedral
of Worcester rose, very far, very faint behind the veil of Malvern
mist,--and yet, a wonder in the plain.

The dreamer looked to east and west and north, and down the ridge of
the little range to the south; and then, because it was given him to
know that he should go away and leave all this, and mayhap never look
on it again, he lay down with his face in the short grass, shutting
out all; and so was silent a long while.

The wind blew strong from the northeast, lifting his heavy hair; the
Priory bell rang eleven; and the dreamer arose and went onward along
the ridge, Hereford way. He did not cease to speak in a low brooding
voice as he strode, for that was his solitary hill-fashion; and if
ever he was at pause in the way he cast out his arms to right and to
left, or clasped them on his breast; or he would lift up his young
troubled face to the sky.

"O my lady, Saint Truth," he murmured, "I am not afraid,--but of
myself only." And he went more slow, sinking his head on his breast.

"There be two kind of poets: and one dwelleth in monastery and maketh
long tales of saints, or it may be he furbisheth old matter of
history. But this is not my place. And another sort abideth in a
king's palace; he is a jongleur, and deviseth merry tales of love, and
adventure of war, to please the ladies in hall. But I am not of these
neither."

Then after a little space the dreamer flung out his right hand and
spoke aloud with a great passion, saying:--

"The people are dead of the pestilence, and they that live will die,
for they starve and the lord of the manor refuseth them bread. But how
shall one man drive three ploughs? His wife hungers and his sons are
born dead. Who shall help him?"

And hereupon he smiled, but a sound as of tears was in his voice,
and--

"Lo! here is matter for a new song!" cried he; "Shall I sing it, Dame
Truth,--shall I sing it? Yea, the little lad spake well. For my soul's
health I will."

He drew his arm across his eyes, as who should clear away a mist. "Now
lead me down into the valley, O Truth, where the world dwelleth! I
will follow. I will come down from the hill-top. Men shall be more
than a name for me before I am done. A child hath found me out."

He had gone over upon the west side of the ridge a little way, and
between him and the pearl-tinged rampart of the Welsh mountains were
many little hills and cup-like valleys; and in a valley of these a
single ploughman ploughed. And the midday sun was hot.

The dreamer drew in his breath a long way, a-gazing; but then he
lifted an arm straight out and pointed with his finger. "Yon 's a
man," he said, "no name only, but a very man; my bloody brother. Now
answer for me, Peter, that I do know thee, body and soul. Have I not
dwelled with thee? Did I not cover up thy face when thou wert dead?
Oh, here 's a very simple and true piece of God's handicraft I 've
watched in the making. Little lad, an I chose to sing o' the ploughman
thou 'lt never say puppet! An' I chose--An' I chose?--A-ah! Here 's no
choosing! I see! I see!"

And anon, in the glory of that vision, he forgot himself, and cried
out: "Lord, send a great singer to sing this song!"

He stood with both his arms flung up to heaven, and his head went
backward as at that other time when he had watched the lark. The
brightness of the noonday sky, and something inward, made his face to
shine. So, for a moment, he rested, and then plunged upward, forward,
on the ridge again, swiftly, with a flying motion in his skirts. But
for the rest of that day, until the hour came when he kneeled down to
pray, his lips were sealed; only his wide, unwavering eyes spake the
vision.

The sky thickened toward afternoon, and the dreamer, wandering in the
valley to the southwest of the Long Hill, had got beyond the sound of
the Priory bell. In the wood where he lay the ground was blue with
hyacinths; the cuckoo called, and called, and called again; and the
thrush quavered. When he came out into the open the sun hung low in
the west, a dull red ball, mist-swathed; and presently it was snuffed
out and the dreamer was circling up and up in the green trenches of
the British camp. Night, and a struggling, cloud-baffled moon found
him at the summit, on his knees, facing east; and now he prayed very
earnestly.

"Lord Jesus, Prince of poor men, let me be thy jongleur, for all poor
men's sake! With their misfortune am I right well acquaint. I have
dwelled in their cots. I have eat of their hard bread of pease. How
shall the king know this, that sleepeth within silken curtains? But
kings give ear to a poet; ladies weep over a sad tale in hall. Who
shall sing this song if not I? Lord, I will go forth and learn a way
to set these matters straight. I will sing this in my song: how to
live well, so that poor men be not so cast down, as now they are.
Sweet Jesu, I will not cease to sing this one song. I will tell my
tale, and the king shall find a way to succour his poor men. Now glory
be to God, and praise and thanksgiving, that He hath given me a
vision. For my brother's sake I sing; he is dumb; he is so fast in
prison that he cannot get forth; but I will sing beneath his window,
and the Lord shall show him a way. The poor man shall kiss the king
and eat at his high table. Thanks be to God, and glory and praise! O
Jesu, God the Word, make my whisper a mighty voice! Bless me, Lord;
bless thy singer!"

And now the dreamer crossed himself and went down over the edge and
lay in a trench, sleeping and waking the night through.



                                III

                    Kingdoms Not of This World


Brother Owyn sat in the cloister-garth in the shadow of the sun-dial,
his little colour-pots on a flat stone beside him, his vellum on a
board across his knees. A ring of narcissus-flowers, close-planted
round the sun-dial, starred the edge of his black gown.

Brother Owyn was a poet, and the prior of Malvern had found this out.
When less favoured brothers grumbled the abbot chid them with, "What
need hath a copy-clerk of sunshine and fair flowers to fresh his
wit,--that hath no wit? But how may a true poet, and a right true
romancer, make his melody with the din of a dozen schoolboys knocking
at his ear?" And for this cause did Brother Owyn sit with his feet
among the narcissus-flowers.

Here he had written at the bidding of the prior--but this prior was a
dull man--two homilies: the one concerning Chastity, which was a
virtue wherein Brother Owyn excelled,--and this the prior knew, for he
had confessed him; the other concerning Patience, wherein Brother Owyn
excelled not at all, and none knew this better than himself,--albeit
he passed for a patient man. But, indeed, there was little known of
Brother Owyn among the brethren. They said that no man might so tell
the stormy mishap of Jonah, except he had sailed the sea; and no man
might so sing Belshazzar's Feast except he had dined in a king's
palace; and when they had heard the tale of Sir Gawaine and the Green
Knight, they averred that haply Brother Owyn came of Arthur's family,
and some said that he was own great-grandson to Sir Gawaine. But
Brother Owyn never said so. He was abashed that the brethren would
hear this tale more often than the homilies.

"I will do penance," said Brother Owyn, "for that I divert the
brethren."

"Yea," quoth the prior, "assuredly! Wherefore, copy out this romance,
and paint in the beginning of each part an initial letter in gold and
scarlet and blue."--The prior had his gleams in the midst of his
dulness.

But the tale that Brother Owyn loved best he had not yet sung to the
brethren.

To-day he painted a little picture of a maiden by a river-side, where
shining cliffs rose up, and a city shone golden beyond. And these
cliffs might well have been the white cliffs of Wales, but they were
meant for a more holy place. And the maiden was clad in a white
garment with a semblance of pearls at her girdle and on her fair
forehead.

    "A crown that maiden wore withal
     bedecked with pearls, with none other stones,"

whispered Brother Owyn.

    "Her look was grave, as a duke's or an earl's;
     whiter than whalebone was her hue.
     Her locks shone then as bright pure gold,--
     loose on her shoulders so softly they lay,"--

There was a trick of his tongue that ever betrayed him that he came
out of the west,--and bending, he kissed the little picture where the
paint had dried.

From the cloister floated the low, buzzing murmur of children conning
a task. This, and the snip-snip of the gardener's shears, were the
only sounds. At intervals, good Brother Paul went past the cloister
doorway in his slow pacing up and down behind the young scholars. Now
and again a lad came out into the garth and crossed the grass to gain
Brother Owyn's approval for an illuminated letter, or to have the
hexameters lopped off his Latin hymn.

Then, around three sides of the cloister swift footsteps echoed, and
the dreamer strode down the school, brushed past Brother Paul, looked
out into the garth, and presently stood before Brother Owyn,--the
light of the vision shining in his eyes, the mist of the Malverns
clinging about his damp hair.

"I go forth a pilgrimage to Truth," he said.

"And the prior withhold not his blessing," added Brother Owyn, with a
smile.

But the dreamer fell on his knees,--he was past smiling. He laid his
hands prayerwise upon the little painting-board; and Brother Owyn,
intent upon him wholly, with the loving, expectant eyes of one to whom
these raptures were no new thing, yet slipped aside the vellum from
the board, lest the picture come to harm from the dew-stained russet.

"I am no monk of Malvern!" cried the dreamer; "neither shall the prior
clap me in cloister. I have had a vision. I must sing it."

"I sing," said Brother Owyn; and he looked about him at the grass and
the cloister walls.

"Yea, of yesterday and its glory," returned the dreamer. "A tuneful
song, whereof the joy and the rightwisnesse is manifest. But to-day
and to-morrow are mine to sing. I must go forth to look upon the world
and live therein. I have had a vision concerning Peter the
ploughman,"--Brother Owyn's eyes laughed mockingly, and his lips
curled, also he tapped his foot upon the ground. But the dreamer's
eyes were on the narcissus-flowers,--"I have seen him in the forefront
of a great train of pilgrimage, of all kind people ever there were in
this earth; and he their guide to Truth. He, a poor ploughman! I have
seen him where he set all crooked ways straight; and the flower o'
knighthood did the bidding o' the ploughman in the vision. Now, tell
me,--what abbot is he in all England will give me leave to sing this
song over his abbey wall? For he holdeth the land in fee, and the
villeins sweat for him.--Nay, more,"--and the dreamer bent his lips to
Brother Owyn's ear and sunk his voice,--"I have seen this Piers where
he jousted in Jesus' armor, red as with blood,--and in His likeness.
Hark you, master, the day is to the poor man. For Jesus Christ, of
poor men the Prince,--He saith, 'I am the Truth.'"

"An I knew thee not this five year," quoth Brother Owyn, "I had said
thou art mad,--mad from very pride. The ploughman a leader of men!
Wilt thou bring chaos about our ears? Oh, boy, foolish and proud! God
hath ordered the way of man and it is thus and so. He is Emperor of
heaven and earth, and Christ is King's Son of heaven and sitteth up on
high at the right hand of the Father. Of right royal human seed he
springeth, David's seed,--born in David's city. At His name every knee
shall bow. Kings have worshipped Him a babe. What! wilt thou strike
down the very immutable and fixed laws of God Himself whereby He hath
ordained that kings shall reign? Prate not to me of poor men. Yea,
there shall be hewers of wood and drawers of water."

Then said the dreamer: "Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat or
he that serveth?"

"The king is the perfectest servant," cried Brother Owyn, "but the
king is king, he is no dullard serf. The King's Son came to earth and
put on this garment of a poor man, and for this reason wilt thou say
the poor man shall wear the garment of the king? Thou art no
schoolman."

"Ah, master, master, this that thou sayst I said it again and yet
again to mine own self," the dreamer sighed; "for what know I of life
wherein is no kings and no knighthood? Verily it is thus and so; God
made the king. So did I cry to the vision, wrestling the night through
on the misty hill. I cannot see clear, but whether I be convinced or
no, the vision hath conquered and I must sing it. The ploughman
knoweth the way to truth; the king shall crave his company."

"Nay, thou dost not see clear. I doubt me if ever thou wilt," said
Brother Owyn. "Thou hast got the Malvern mist in thy head, boy. Who
shall profit by a vision in a mist?"

"'T is larger than life, seen thus," quoth the dreamer. "Natheless,
let me go forth into a new land. How may I rid me of the mist if I
dwell within it? Let me go to London, and if the vision fade, if it be
proven a temptation, I 'll cast it from me. How may I know men in the
wilderness? How may I touch their hearts if I know them not?"

Brother Owyn smiled and laid his hand upon the dreamer's shoulder:
"And art thou crying out for knowledge of men?--Thou that fleest into
the hills if a merchant ask night's shelter of the prior, thou that
hast played truant these three days because, forsooth, the young
Prince Lionel and his train are come hither to hunt in the King's
Forest?"

The dreamer hung his head: "Yet must I go," he said. "There came a
little lad across the round hill yesterday,--a very manikin of wisdom
with the heart of a child,--no doubt they breed such in palaces. He
boasted himself a poet and would have me tell him a tale. He
quarrelled with the measure, his ear being attuned to French foibles,
but for that I care not; but he saith my men be no better than dolls
of wood.--Master, 't is a true word. Whether the vision be false or
no, God will discover to me; but this, that I am not fit to touch
men's hearts, because I am stranger to them,--thou knowest. The little
lad turned away from my tale. He laughed.--Thou hast seen thy world.
Thou hast a tale to tell. But I,--what may I sing but the
mist? Hark you, Brother Owyn, I shall bring naught of glory to Malvern
Priory till I be let forth. Say this to the prior."

"There is wisdom in it, truly," said the monk. "Thou art not all fool,
and poet. Natheless, thou canst not come at knowledge my way. What I
was needs not to remember, but I was not such as thou, I climbed not
upward to my present estate. But thou must climb through the church,
't is thy one way. With thy little learning what art thou fit for
else? Doth it suit thee to turn ploughman?"

The dreamer looked at his scholar's hands and wiped his scholar's
brow: "But I will not climb as a monk," he cried. "There 's work to do
out-o'-doors to make the church clean. Let me go!"

Then Brother Owyn wiped his brushes on the grass and covered his
little paint pots; and to a boy that came forth of the cloister he
said: "I have business with the prior, keep thy task till I come
again;" and rising up he made so as to lay a cloth of fair linen over
the little picture.

"Who is 't?" asked the dreamer, and gazing, he minded him of the day
when Brother Owyn came first to Malvern Priory. He was a knight that
day; his mail was silver; he rode a white horse; in his helmet there
was set a great pearl in the midst of a ringlet of gold hair, one
ring, as 't were severed from the head of a babe.

"Who is 't?" quoth the dreamer.

And Brother Owyn answered him: "Neither do I write but only
yesterdays. I have my vision of the morrow. 'T is of a Holy City, and
the Lord is King thereof. 'T is a true vision, for John, the beloved,
he had it afore my time."

"But this is a fair damsel," said the dreamer.

"This is my little daughter dear, that was dead at two years old. The
King hath chosen her for his bride. I live seeking after her."

"Here, likewise, hast thou fellowship with thy kind," the dreamer
sighed. "Little wonder thy songs touch the hearts of men. Master, thou
hast my confession this five year; thou knowest me, that I am no hot
man; yet, do I yearn to fathom these mysteries, for fellowship's sake,
and to help all them that seek truth. But how may a man climb to
fatherhood through Holy Church?"

Brother Owyn laid his hand on the dreamer's lip, and "Hush!" said he;
"here's question for one higher than I, and to be spoke whispering.
For all the man I am to Godward, am I by the love of a little two
years' child, long dead. Go; say thy prayers! I 'll come to thee in
the church. Haply the prior may give thee a letter to a London priest,
will see thee clerked and set to earn, thy bread."

But then Brother Owyn looked on the little picture where it lay
uncovered, and he said:--

"If thou hast ever a golden-haired daughter, send her hither to tell
me wherein God hath blessed thee most."

And that day the dreamer set forth on his pilgrimage.



                              PART I

                          The Malcontents


    "For one Pieres the Ploughman hath inpugned us alle."

                               _The Vision Concerning Piers Plowman._
                                             B. PASSUS XIII.



                             CHAPTER I

                            The Miracle


All the good people, fresh-blessed, came forth into the churchyard
with a great pushing and striving. There was a Miracle Play toward,
and to stand at the back of five-and-twenty score of tiptoeing
Londoners was to see nothing. Sweating shopkeepers jostled and swore,
women squealed, and 'prentices drove their elbows into any fat paunch
that was neighbourly. Here and there, above the press, a child rode on
its father's shoulder, and if 't was a merry child it kicked off the
women's headgear and tweaked the ears of Robyn and Hikke and Jack.

"Stand off,--stand off, a four-foot space from Hell Mouth!" cried
Beelzebub, coming to earth unexpected; "there be sparks! I 'll not
answer for 't if ay one take fire."

"Look ye, look ye!" roared Sathanas, thrusting up his head, "here's
some thieving fellow hath filched my tail while I was to Mass. 'T is a
poor jest. Now, by St. Christopher, I swear I say no word o' my part
if the tail lack."

There went up a laugh from the company, and one cried: "Give the dumb
beast his tail that he may speak!" And, on a sudden, flew over the
heads of the people a something red, in shape like an eel, and fell
upon Sathanas' head, whereat he grunted and withdrew head and tail
together.

And now Hell Mouth opened and spat fire, and after tumbled forth a
rout of devils, big and little, that pranced and mowed, the while the
people laughed and cast them back jest for jest. Was one brawny fiend,
a blacksmith by trade, that came to the edge of the stage and, looking
backward, with chin uppermost, through his squatted legs, set his
fingers in the corners of his mouth and his eyes, and did so make of
himself a monster that a little maid which stood in the forefront of
the multitude must needs shriek and start, so that her kerchief fell
awry.

Saith a yeoman, blinking on her ruffled hair: "I cannot see for the
sun in my eyen," and laid his great hand on her fair head that
perforce she must turn her face would she or no.

"By St. Jame!" cried the man, thereupon; "here's no ba'rn, but a maid,
with a mouth ripe for kissing!" And so bent to taste her lips. But she
cried out and struggled to be free, and swift, a gloved hand thrust
the yeoman's face aside, and a voice that had a twist of French in it
rated him so that he shrank backward glowering.

The blacksmith, meanwhile, being set right side forward, stood nodding
a genial horned approval:

"An I had not been so be-twisted, I had given him a crack!" he said,
and, turning rueful, added: "Dost not know me, child? I be Hobbe Smith
that dwell two doors below thee. I did but mean to make thee merry."

And the maid gave him a pale smile.

"If thou stand o' this side, out of the press, still mayst thou see,"
said he of the gloved hand.

"I came not so close to see the devils," answered the maid, blushing,
"but for that cometh after;" and she followed him apart.

Then come Mercy and Truth across the middle stage, and are met
together, and Peace and Rightwisnesse, that kissed the one the other,
prating sweetly of Christ risen from the dead. And the devils are
begun to make moan, and they have locked Hell Mouth with a great key
and laid a bar across. And said this squire that stood beside the
maid:--

"By 'r Lady!--who writ this is no common patcher o' miracles, but a
true poet!"

"'T is my father," quoth she.

And he: "Nay, then, I knew thee for a poem. Is thy name Guenevere?
Such eyes had Guenevere,--such hair."

"I am Will Langland's daughter; I am Calote," she said.

There had lately come two men through the crowd. By their aspect they
were not Londoners, yet they seemed acquainted well enough with what
they saw. Now one of these, a black-browed fellow with thin, tight
lips, large nose, and sallow visage, spoke to the squire, saying:--

"All poets of England do not pipe for John o' Gaunt. This one hath
chose to make music for the ears of common folk."

"Natheless 't is tuned to ears more delicate," the squire made answer,
looking always on the maiden; and then, "Calote, thou sayst? 'T is
Nicolette in little, is 't not?" And presently after, "Nicolette had a
squire.--I would I were thy squire."

But Calote had turned her to the Miracle, and the youth saw only a
flushing cheek.

"'T is a long while that Mercy and Truth are not met together in
England, Jack," said the countryman to his fellow, sourly.

"Yea, Wat," the other answered; "and afore Peace cometh War."

"And afore Rightwisnesse"--said he of the black brows, and paused, and
looked about him meaningly, and cast his arms to right and left. And
now the Miracle was done, and Christ had narrowed Hell, and sat on
high with the Trinity.



                            CHAPTER II

                         The Rose of Love


The bell of Paul's had rung the Angelus an hour past. The gabled
shadows of the houses crossed the street slantwise, and betwixt them
long pale fingers of evening sunshine brightened the cobbles. Pigeons
from the corn market waddled hither and thither in search of dribbled
grain,--unreasoning pigeons, these, for of a Sunday no manna fell on
Cornhill. The ale-stake above the tavern door rustled in a whisper; 't
was a fresh-broken branch, green and in full leaf, set out for this
same feast of the Trinity. Calote had caught the withered bough when
it fell, and made off with it under the alewife's very nose.

"Little roberd!" Dame Emma cried, "'t would have cooked a hungry man
his dinner."

"And shall!" quoth Calote; whereat the alewife burst out a-laughing
and swore she 'd switch her with the new stake. And Calote, like an
ant at the end of a long straw, tugged her prize indoors.

The dinner was cooked and eaten by now, and a bit of a supper as well.
The long June day was done. Dame Emma came to her tavern door and
stood beneath the ale-stake, looking out across to her neighbor's cot,
where a yellow-haired maid sat in the window.

"I saw thee in Paul's churchyard, Calote," Dame Emma called cheerily;
and she smiled a sly smile.

"Yea," said Calote, "methinks all the world was there;" but her colour
came.

"He is of the household of the Earl of March; even a kinsman by 's
bearing," renewed Dame Emma.

"I rede not the riddle," Calote answered her; but Dame Emma laughed.

Then down the middle of the way, to left and right of the runnel
ditch, rode three horsemen of sober visage; and though they rode a
slow pace, they took no heed of Dame Emma where she stood and cried
out:--

"A taste for naught! Come dine! White wine of Oseye! Good ale!"

They held their heads in a knot, speaking soft, and went their slow
way down the street.

"They be 'potecaries," said Calote. "Now the plague is on again we see
many such. He of the taffeta-lined gown, with scarlet, is Doctor of
Phisick, is 't not so?"

"'T is physician to the Black Prince. Must needs eat at king's table,
forsooth!" And Dame Emma flounced her skirts in a huff and turned her
indoors.

The shadows faded along with the sunshine. The little maid sat long in
the deep window, agaze on the street. Gray were her eyes,
dark-lashed, beneath straight brows, pencilled delicately. Slim and
small she was, all eyes and golden hair,--the hair that flies out at a
breath of wind like rays of light, and is naught of a burden though it
fall as far as a maid's knees. A tress flew out of window now, like to
a belated sunbeam. The smoke from the tavern turned to rose as it left
the chimney mouth. The pink cloud wreathed upward and melted, and
wreathed again.

"Oh, father, come and see the tavern-smoke! It groweth out o'
chimney-pot like a flower. I mind me of the rose o' love in the
Romaunt. 'T is of a pale colour."

At the far end of the room, in a doorway, his head thrust outward to
catch the light, there sat a man with a shaven crown, and thick
reddish locks that waved thereabout. His eyes--the long, gray,
shadow-filled eyes of Calote--were bent upon a parchment. He wrote,
and as his hand moved, his lips moved likewise, in a kind of rhythm,
as if he chaunted beneath his breath. A second roll of parchment,
close-written, lay beside him on a three-legged stool, and ever and
anon he turned to this and read,--then back to the copy,--or perchance
he sat a short space with head uplifted and eyes fixed in a dream, his
lips ever moving, but the busy hand arrested in mid-air. So sitting,
he spoke not at once to his daughter; but, after a space, as one on a
hill-top will answer him who questions from below, all unaware of the
moments that have passed 'twixt question and reply, he said:--

"The rose of love is a red rose; neither doth it flower in a tavern."
And his voice was of a low, deep, singing sort.

"A red rose," murmured Calote; "yea,--a red rose. The rose of love."

Then Calote left the window and went down the dim room. Her feet were
bare; they made no noise on the earthen floor.

"Twilight is speeding, father," said she. "Thou hast writ since
supper,--a long while that. Thou hast not spoke two words to thy
Calote since afore Mass, and 't is a feast day. Us poor can't feast of
victual,--tell me a tale. The tale o' the Rose, and how the lover hath
y-kissed it, and that foul Jezebel hight Jealousy hath got
Fair-Welcome prisoned in a tower,--a grim place,--the while Evil
Tongue trumpeteth on the battlement."

The dreamer rested his eyes on his daughter's face a tranquil moment,
then drew her to his knee and smiled and stroked her hair.

"An thou knowest the Romaunt so well, wherefore shall I tell it thee?"
he asked.

"What cometh after, where Reason prateth, I know not. I do never
know."

"Then I 'll not waste raisonable words upon thee," laughed her father.
"Come, tell me of thyself! Was 't a plenteous feast day, or a hungry
one?"

"Not hungry," she cried, with eyes alight. "There was one praised
thee. 'T is not every day I taste honey."

She waited, watching him, but he said nothing; he only leaned his chin
upon his hand and looked out of the doorway.

"Thou wilt not ask a share o' my feast? Yet is it all thine," she
coaxed. "If any spake fair words of me, how should I pine to know!"
She pressed his face betwixt her two hands and looked close, merrily,
into his eyes. "But thou shalt hear, whether or no. Hearken! 'T was in
Paul's churchyard where they played the Miracle, thy Miracle, the
Harrowing o' Hell,--a yeoman made as he would kiss me,"--

Her father was attentive now; his eyes were sombre.

"I was fair sick with the touch of him. I cried out. And there was one
standing by thrust off the yeoman."

She lost herself, musing. Meanwhile, her father watched her, and
presently, "Where is my little feast of praise?" he asked.

She started and took up the tale, but now her eyes were turned from
his to the twilight space outside the door, and beyond that, and
beyond.

"He was young," she said,--"he was young; he wore a broidered coat;
green it was, all daiseyed o'er with white and pink. He doffed his cap
to me,--never no one afore did me that courtesy. He wore a trailing
feather in his cap. 'If thou stand o' this side, out o' the press,
still mayst thou see and hear,' saith he. And after, he saith 't was
no common patcher, but a poet, wrote that Miracle. And I did tell him
't was my father. Then he would have my name as well, and, being told,
he must needs recall how Nicolette, in that old tale, had a squire. He
saith--he saith--'I would I were thy squire.'"

"Anon?" her father questioned, rousing her.

"Is no more to tell: 't was the end o' the Miracle."

"A poor maid in a cot may not have a squire." said Will Langland
slowly.

"I know that right well; and yet I know not wherefore," she answered;
and now she turned quite away her face, for that her lip trembled.

He made no answer to her wistful question, and there was silence
between them while the twilight deepened. But she was busy with her
thoughts meanwhile.

"Father," she began, and laid her hand upon the written parchment by
his side, "father,--here in the Vision, thou dost write that the
ploughman knoweth the truth. He is so simple wise he counselleth the
king how to renew his state which is gone awry. If the knight do the
bidding of the ploughman, wherefore shall not Piers' daughter wed the
son o' the knight?"

He looked within her eyes most tenderly, his voice was deep with pity;
he held her two hands in his own.

"My Calote,--'t is not King Edward, nor King Edward's son, shall be
counselled of the ploughman. 'T is a slow world, and no man so slow as
the man at the plough. He hath his half acre to sow. Not in my day,
nor in thine, shall the knight bethink him to set the ploughman free
for pilgrimage to Truth."

"But if he read thy Vision, father, he will."

"The knight is likewise slow, Calote. He believeth not on the Vision.
I shall be dead afore that time cometh,--and thou."

"Yet there be them that say the hour is not far distant when the
people shall rise and rule," she persisted. "Wat Tyler ever
threateneth the wrath of the people. He saith the land is full of
villeins that have run from the manors, for that the Statute maketh
them to labour for slave wage. He saith the people will make
themselves free. John Ball goeth about to hearten men to rise against
oppression."

"In my vision I saw neither war nor the shedding of blood," Langland
answered.

"Oh, father!" she cried, and cast her arms about his neck, "art thou
content to wait,--so idly?"

"Nay, I am not content," he said; "I am not content."

He kissed her and they were silent, thinking their several thoughts,
until Calote said:--

"If the knight wed the peasant, and there come a child,--is that a
knight or a peasant?"

"Most like the next of kin doth make a suitable complaining to the
Pope, and so the child is a bastard."

"Thou mockest me, father; I see thee smile," she protested.

"Nay, 't is not thee I mock, my sweet,--not thee. But hark, Calote:
this love of knights and damosels is not the one only love. Read thy
Reason in the Romaunt,--and she shall tell thee of a love 'twixt man
and man, woman and woman, that purifieth the soul and exalteth desire;
nay, more: Reason shall tell thee of a love for all thy fellows that
haply passeth in joy the love for one. The King's Son of Heaven,--He
knew this love."

"And thou," whispered Calote.

"I dream more than I love," he said; "I do consider my passion."

"Yet is it a very passion, father. Wherefore wilt thou ever humble
thyself?"

"And there is a love betwixt the father and the child," he continued;
and those two kissed each other.

"I would know all these loves," cried Calote.

"Yet wilt thou do well to pray the Christ that no knight come to woo."

She hung her head; and the long day trembled to latest dusk.



                            CHAPTER III

                          They That Mourn


Now as these two sat silent, the door at the far end of the room,
looking on Cornhill, opened, and a man came in and shut it again, and
stood in the shadow.

"Wat?" said Langland.

"Art thou he men call Long Will?" asked the man out of the dark.

"Yea, I am he. Who art thou that fearest light? I took thee for Wat
Tyler that is my friend."

"I am another friend," said the man, and came down the room. "My name
is Peter. I have run from Devon."

"So,--Peter!" quoth Langland, and rose up to meet him. "And for that
is thy name, and haply thou art a ploughman, dost thou believe that
the truth resteth with thee?"

Calote, who knew her father's voice, saw also the grim smile that
curled his lip, but the man could not see because of the twilight.

"I believe thou art a true prophet," he made answer; "I have heard thy
Visions; many read them and tell them again."

"Even so," retorted the lank priest; "I did not counsel thee to run."

"Nay, 't was mine own wit counselled me there," the man replied; "mine
own wit, fed on the Statute o' Labourers."

"'T is famine fare," said Langland. "Calote, if there be aught in the
cupboard, bring it hither.--And now, friend Peter, wherefore art thou
come?"

"Lead us poor!" cried the man. "Arise, and strike down the unjust!"

"I am a prophet," said Langland. "I abide by my calling. Thou must go
elsewhere for one shall do deeds. I only prophesy. 'T is safe; and I
had ever a gift for song."

The man lifted an uncertain hand and scratched his rough head. So, for
a moment, he stood irresolute. At last he said:--

"I am a dull fellow; but dost thou mock me?"

Then Langland came to him swiftly, pressing his hands on the bowed
shoulders and saying:--

"Thou art my brother."

"'T is a word one understands," replied the man; "God and Mary bless
thee!" and turned at the sound of a footstep. 'T was a woman came in
with a bowl in her hands, and Calote followed her, bringing bread.

"This is thy wife Kitte," said the man, "and this is thy daughter
Calote."

The poet smiled,--"Thou dost read, Peter?"

"Nay, I have a young son will be a parson one day. Thy Vision
concerning the ploughman is meat and drink to him."

"To us, likewise," said Kitte. "There be days we taste little else; 't
is a dish well spiced. Natheless, for this is Holy Trinité, we've fed
on whey and bread; it maketh an excellent diversité. Wilt eat?"

As she passed her husband he turned her face to the light, whereat she
smiled on him,--and in her smile was yet another kind of love made
manifest.

The man ate his bread and whey noisily the while his host leaned
against the door-frame. Kitte withdrew into the inner room, and Calote
sat in the window looking on the street. The moon rose and cast the
poet's shadow thin along the floor. There was a murmur in the street.

"Father," called Calote, "there is some ill befallen. Men stand about
by twos and threes, so late, and speak low. And now,--oh,
father!--Dame Emma hath fell a-weeping and shut her tavern door. Here
's Wat!--Here 's Wat and another!"

Two men ran in from Cornhill, hurriedly. They were as shadows in the
room until they came to the patch of moonlight, where shadow and
substance fell apart.

"The Prince is dead in Kennington Palace," said the taller, darker
man; "the Black Prince is dead!" And he struck the door-jamb with his
clenched fist and burst forth into one loud, sharp cry. There was rage
in the sound, disappointment, and grief.

"Art silent, thou chantry priest?" said the other man gloomily. "Here
's occasion to ply thy trade; but where 's thy glib prayer for the
dead?"

"Who am I that I should pray for this soul?" cried Langland bitterly.
"Here 's the one brave man in all England--dead. Now is it time to
pray for the living, Jack Straw; for my soul, and thine, and all these
other poor, that be orphaned and bereaved o' their slender hope by
this death. Oh, friend Peter, thou art run too late from Devon! The
doer o' deeds, the friend o' ploughmen and labourers, he is dead."

"One told me he did not welcome death. He was fain to live," said Wat
Tyler.

"Doth a good prince go willingly into heaven's bliss if he must leave
a people perplexed,--a nest of enemies to trample his dreams?" asked
the poet.

"I have heard them that served yonder in the war with France, who say
the Prince hath a sin or two of 's own to answer for," said Jack
Straw. "Who shall rest secure o' heaven's bliss?"

"Were I so honest a sinner as he that is gone, e'en punishment and
stripes were a taste o' blessing!" Langland exclaimed, and bent his
head in his hands.

The rustic had stared at one then another of these men, and now he
opened his great mouth, and the words came forth clumsily:--

"I be grieved full sore for this death, and for the King's sake that
is an old man. Natheless, 't was no prince led the wildered folk in
the Vision."

"Oh, Piers!" said Langland; and suddenly he laughed, and still with
eyes bent upon this rude, shock-headed, and slow creature, he laughed,
and laughed again, merrily, without malice, like a child.

But Wat Tyler leapt to his feet and paced the room back and forth:--

"'T is a true word," he cried. "He that delivereth the poor out of his
misery shall taste that misery; he shall be one of those poor. Hath
the Black Prince encountered cold and hunger as I have so
encountered,--not for a siege's space, but to a life's end and with
tied hands? Hath he oped his eyen into the world chained to a
hand's-breadth o' soil? Nay, England was his heritage, and he had
leave to get France likewise, if he might. Can the overlord rede the
heart of the villein that feedeth him? The Black Prince hath died
disappointed of his kingdom"--

"And thou wilt die disappointed of thine," said Langland, gravely
intent upon him.

"Nay, but I live in disappointment daily,--and Jack Straw, and this
honest fellow, and"--

"Who may the honest fellow be?" queried Jack Straw.

This Jack Straw had lint locks that glistened under the moon; the
lashes of his eyes were white. His was a dry utterance.

"'T is a villein hath run from his hand's-breadth o' soil," answered
Langland. "One of many."

"I plough, I reap, I ditch," said Peter; "somewhile I thatch. I am of
Devon."

"They have a quaint device of thatching in Devon," quoth Jack Straw.

"Ay, they set a peak like to a coxcomb above the gable. Art a Devon
man?" asked Peter eagerly.

"Nay, but I be thatcher. I learned of a Devon man. 'T was the year
next after the great pestilence. Like thee, he had run."

Wat Tyler had been pacing up and down, but now he stood before his
host and asked uneasily, albeit his voice was bold and harsh:--

"Will, what's thy meaning,--that I shall die disappointed of my
kingdom?"

"Ah, Wat, Wat!" said Langland, "and wilt thou lead the people? And
wherefore?"

Jack Straw edged farther within the moonlight and peered into his
comrade's dark and lowering countenance:--

"Now which o' they seven deadly sins doth he call to repent?" he
drawled, and with a sudden change to sharp speech, keeping his eye
ever upon Wat's face: "A day cometh when there shall be no king, nor
no overlord, nor no rich merchant to buy food away from the people,
and store it up, and sell it at a price. But every man shall be leader
of his own soul, and every man king. There shall not be poverty nor
richesse, but one shall share as another, and nothing shall be mine
nor thine."

Peter rested his elbows on the table and his chin in his hands, such
fashion that his jaw hammered upward and downward; and the table, that
had one leg a bit short, hammered likewise. Said he:--

"Christ came a poor man, poor men to comfort. He suffereth my sorrow.
I knew not there was question of any kingdom, but only Christ's. And
if Christ is King, how then do ye say there will be no leader?"

Will Langland looked at the other two with a strange smile; but Wat
turned to the ploughman and cried:--

"Yet if Christ delay His second coming, must another lead till he
come. How else shall folk know His way?"

"Of a surety," answered Peter; "I am come to Long Will."

And Long Will covered his face and so remained. And they all sat
silent and as it were ashamed, till Kitte put her head in and said:--

"Calote, get thee to bed, child!"



                            CHAPTER IV

                               A Vow


Calote slipped out at the back door into a weedy lane full of
moonlight. She set her feet ankle-deep in grass and dew. A muck heap
cast a shadow from one side to the other of the lane and filled the
air with pungent odour. There was a stair against the wall of Will
Langland's cot, and Calote climbed up this to a little gabled chamber
that had a window looking on Cornhill. The street was white and silent
under the moon. There was no light in any house as far as Calote could
see. Even the tavern was dark: Dame Emma had shut out her roisterers
and made her house a house of mourning, for that the Black Prince was
dead. Calote let slip her strait russet gown and stood at the window
in her kirtle, shaking out her hair.

"Such hair had Guenevere," she said thoughtfully; "yet am I Calote.--A
kinsman to the Earl of March?--Mayhap to-night he weeps the death of
the Black Prince. Yet, I know not.--Wat Tyler saith these nobles be
aye at one another's throat.--When there be so many kind of love i'
the world, wherefore do some folk make choice of hating?--So many kind
of love!--Wherefore may not I essay all?--Wherefore be there
Calotes--and Gueneveres?--Yet, there be a many left for me. I will
leave thinking o' squires and knights. I will listen to Dame Reason in
the Romaunt,--and Wat, and the ploughman, and my father."

She crossed herself and said her Pater Noster, then dropped her kirtle
and lay down upon her pallet. For coverlet she had a frayed old
cassock of her father's. She lay beneath the window, and the moon came
about to look on her.

"I will love all I may," said Calote; "but I will forget to be loved."

And so she fell asleep.

She did not wake an hour after when Long Will came up to bed, stooping
among the rafters. He crossed the room to look upon her where she lay
full in the light of the moon. Because the night was close she had set
free her arms from the warmth of the old cassock, but the golden
mantle of her hair veiled her white breast that rose and fell ever so
lightly.

Will Langland beckoned to his wife and she came to stand beside him:--

"'T is now a woman,--and yesterday a child," said he. "Mayhap I am
dull-eyed, noting little that's not writ on parchment, yet meseems I
have never seen woman so fair as this my daughter. Is 't true?"

"Yea, Will; it is true," said Kitte.

Then Calote opened her eyes upon her father and mother, and she was
dreaming.

"O red rose!" said she, and shut her eyes again.

And Will Langland and Kitte his wife went down on their knees to pray.



                             CHAPTER V

                             A Disciple


The second time Calote saw the squire he bore a hooded falcon on his
wrist and he rode a little white horse, in the fields beyond
Westminster. He sang a pensive lyric in the French tongue; and when he
saw Calote he lighted down from his horse and held his cap in his
hand. She was gathering herbs.

He told her he had got him a copy of her father's poems, and he kept
it in a little chest of carven ivory and jade that his mother gave him
afore she died. And Calote, being persuaded, went and sat with him
beneath a yew tree. He said that she might call him Stephen, if she
would, or Etienne; men spoke to him by the one or the other
indifferently, but they were the same name. It was his mother that was
cousin german to the Earl of March; his father being a gentleman of
Derbyshire, Sir Gualtier Fitzwarine, of a lesser branch of that name.
And both his father and his mother were dead, but the Earl of March
was his godfather.

But when Calote questioned him of the poem, he could say little,
excepting that his man had bought it of a cook's knave in the palace,
that was loath to part with it; and it smelled frightful of sour
broth, but Etienne had sprinkled it with flower of lavender. Moreover,
he had searched therein for Calote and her golden hair and her gray
eyes; he marvelled that her father had not made mention of these
things.

Then Calote took up her knotted kerchief with the herbs, and gave him
good day. And whether she were displeased or no she could not
determine, nor could he. But he went immediately to his chamber and
read diligently, with a rose of sweet odour held beneath his nose.

The third time Calote saw the squire was on the day when London
learned that Peter de La Mare was cast into prison in Nottingham
Castle. London growled. London stood about in groups, ominously
black-browed,--choking the narrow streets. Certain rich merchants even
shut up their shops and barred their doors, for it was not against the
nobles only that London had a grievance.

Now this fair child, Stephen Fitzwarine, knew that Peter de la Mare
was seneschal to the Earl of March, and, hearing of the good man's
imprisonment, he set it down that this was yet another grudge to be
fought out 'twixt his godfather and John of Gaunt, and he prayed that
he might be in at the affray. But of the Good Parliament, its several
victories, and present sore defeat, Stephen knew little. He was of the
household of young Richard, son to the Black Prince, and all that
household was as yet in leading-strings. In the laws of fence and
tourney Stephen was right well instructed; twice had he carved before
Richard at table; he could fly a hawk more skilfully than Sir John
Holland, the half-brother to the Prince; he knew by heart the argument
and plea whereby we made our claim upon the crown of France; he knew
by heart also the half of the Romaunt of the Rose, and all of Sir
Gawaine and the Green Knight, and more than one of the tales of Dan
Chaucer. Richard loved him, and hung upon him as a little lad will on
a bigger one. And Stephen loved Richard, and slept before the door of
Richard's bedchamber with a naked sword at his side; this for his own
and Richard's sake. But at that time there were other warders before
this door, that slept not at all; for after the Black Prince died, the
guard in Kennington Palace was doubled, and a certain armourer in the
city had sent the heir to the throne a gift of a little shirt of mail,
the which so delighted him that he wore it night and day; and if by
any fortune he forgot it, his mother, caressing him, would say:--

"Where is thy chain coat, Richard? Wilt not wear it to-day to pleasure
the kindly armourer?"

Moreover, the little Prince was seldom let abroad, and his household
must needs keep him company; wherefore Stephen Fitzwarine might not go
into the city except he slipped leash and braved the displeasure, nay,
the stripes even, of Sir Simon de Burley, who was Richard's tutor.
Nevertheless, on this ill-fated day when London was scarce in the mood
to see young gentlemen in broidered coats a-walking her streets, he
dropped his lute into a rosebush and went adventuring.

When he came on London Bridge,--for Kennington Palace was t' other
side of the river by Lambeth, and who would go to the city must cross
by this way,--he found a great crowd of idle people blocking the
street; and because none moved to right or left to let him pass, he
must needs elbow it like any prentice; and this he did as far as
Cornhill. Now, although young Stephen did not yet know the Vision
concerning Piers Ploughman so well as the Romaunt of the Rose, one
thing he had discovered, namely, that Will Langland dwelt on Cornhill;
and he would have slackened his pace to scan the houses. But the
unmannerly throng that had followed him across the bridge would not
have it so, and pushed and pressed upon him that he must wag his legs
briskly or be taken off them altogether. And in this fashion he went
the length of Cornhill, and had he been discreet he had gone yet
farther in Cheapside and sheltered him in St. Paul's. But Etienne was
a valiant lad, and wilful. He had come out to see a certain cot on
Cornhill, and his desire was yet unsatisfied. He turned him back and
faced a grinning crew of prentice lads and artisans, some merry, all
mischievous, and not a few malicious.

"Give me room, good fellows," he said.

Then mocking voices rose and pelted him:--

"Yonder 's thy way, flower-garden."

"Hath missed his road,--call 's nursie!"

"There be no palaces o' Cornhill."

"Here 's not the road to the Savoy."

"We harbour not John of Gaunt nor his ilk i' the city."

"Nay, we ha' not men at arms sufficient to keep him in safety."

"I am not for John of Gaunt. Give way!" said Etienne.

"Ay, friends," bawled a six-foot lad with a carpenter's mallet in his
hand; "we mistook; the lording hath come hither to give himself as
hostage for the safety o' Speaker Peter."

A part of the crowd laughed at this speech, and others cursed, and
some said:--

"Take him! Take him!"

"Yea, take him!" roared the throng, closing in; and above this sea of
sound Etienne sent his voice shrilly:--

"Disperse! Disperse, I say! I come a peaceful errand. Who will point
me the dwelling of one they call Long Will, I 'll give him three
groat."

"So, 't is Long Will must follow good Peter de la Mare?" shrieked a
woman from a window.

"What dost thou with Long Will?"

There were no smiles now.

"Will Langland louteth not to such as thou."

"Spy!"

"Spill 's brains!"

"Hath none, to come o' such errand."

"To the river!"

"Ay, take him down Cornhill an he will!"

A brawny smith that had pushed his way inward at mention of Langland
stood now in the forefront of the mob, eyeing Etienne.

"So ho!" he said, bracing his back for the nonce against them that
would have rushed upon the lad; "so ho! Is 't thou, green meadow?
Methought I knew thee."

Then he set his fingers in the corners of his mouth and eyes, and
leered; and the mob, not comprehending, yet laughed.

"Thou wilt see Will Langland, wilt thou?" he resumed. "Yea, I trow
thou art a-dying to see Will Langland. He hath long yellow hair, hath
he not, and"--

"Scum!" cried Etienne, and drew his sword; and even as he drew it,
there went a thrill down his spine; for Etienne had never drawn his
sword in wrath before; 't was a maiden blade, had drunk no blood.

At the shine of it the crowd fell a-muttering. Every eye darkened;
mockery died; there was naught left but black hatred.

"My way lies on Cornhill," said Etienne. "Let him bar who dare!"

Then some one laid a hand on his shoulder, and a voice said:--

"Sheathe thy weapon, my lord!"

The squire turned to see a tall man standing at his side, clad in a
dingy cassock and carrying a breviary. Long Will was come from saying
mass for the soul of a wool merchant.

"What then? Wilt have me soil my hands with such as these?" cried
Etienne.

"Nay, my lord, nor thy spirit neither," answered Langland.

"Let be, Will!" said one in the crowd. "'T is a spy that prisoneth
honest men. Is 't not enough that Peter de la Mare is cast in chains,
but puppets like to this must play the sentinel on Cornhill?"

"If I mistake not, this gentleman weareth the badge of the Earl of
March," interrupted Langland; "wherefore our grievance is his
likewise; for Peter is seneschal to the Earl."

Heads were thrust forward eagerly, and one and another cried:--

"'T is true!"

"Let me set mine eye o' the badge!"

"Methought one said 't was John o' Gaunt's man."

"The badge!"

And the six-foot prentice, craning his neck, questioned:--

"Art thou for the Earl o' March, friend? If so be, speak and make an
end on 't. I be not one to bear malice."

The mob roared with laughter, and Etienne, slipping his sword within
its scabbard, answered in excellent good temper:--

"I am indeed godson to that most noble earl, and gentleman of the
bedchamber to son altesse the Prince Richard, heir to the throne of
England and son to our lamented Edward, Prince of Wales, of beloved
memory." And Etienne uncovered his head, as did all them that had caps
in that assembly.

"So!" said Langland, looking on him with approval. "'T is spoke in a
spirit most prudent, wise, and Christian. And does your way lie o'
Cornhill, sir? With your good-will I 'll bear you company."

The crowd dispersed to right and left, but Hobbe the smith lingered
yet a moment to say:--

"'T was with thee the gentleman had business, Will. Zeal to look upo'
thy countenance hath brought him hither."

And after, albeit the squire and Langland paid him no heed, this Hobbe
followed on behind, ever and anon voicing some pleasantry, as:--

"That I should live to hear thee sweeten thy tongue to tickle a
lording, Will!"

Or:--

"Look out at window, good neighbours, afore the sky fall. Here 's Will
Langland, that never lifted his eye to do lordships and rich men a
courtesy, walketh London streets to-day with a flowering sprig o'
green from the court."

Or he sang from Long Will's Vision:--

    "'By Christ, quoth the knight then, thou learnest us the best!
      Save o' time truly, thus taught was I never!
      But teach me, quoth the knight, and I shall know how to plough;
      I will help thee to labour while my life lasteth.'"

As Langland opened his house-door, Stephen saw Calote laying trenchers
of black bread on a bare table; a pot bubbled on the hearth, and the
room was full of smoke. Calote stood still and rubbed her eyes and
stared.

"Sir," said Langland, "you were seeking me? Wherefore?"

It was a simple question, yet the squire, looking on Calote, found not
his answer ready; so Langland waited, glancing from the youth to the
maid, until Stephen stammered in a weak, small voice, greatly
differing from those bold tones in which he had defied the
prentices:--

"I have read thy Vision concerning Piers"--

"I must commend you for an ardent disciple," said the poet. "'T is not
every noble in England would brave the London mob solus for a sight o'
me."

"'T is he that rebuked the yeoman in the churchyard, father,"
interposed Calote, "and after praised thee for a poet."

"Is 't so?" assented Langland. There was a cloud on his brow, but he
spoke in kindly fashion. "'T would appear that my daughter and I are
alike beholden to you for courtesy, wherefore, I would beseech you,
fair sir, since you are come so far and have so manfully encountered
perils, will you bide and dine with us,--if a pot o' beans be hight
dinner?"

"Nay, I will not so trespass," protested Stephen. "The Prince refuseth
to eat an I be not by to fill his cup."

"Yet must you bide, I fear me," said Langland gravely. "How shall I
answer to the Prince if one he love go forth to harm? At a later hour,
when taverns fill and streets are emptied, you may walk abroad with
the more ease."

And now, with his adventure succeeded past imagination, the ungrateful
Stephen stood disconsolate, a-hanging his head.

Kitte came whispering to her husband, with:--

"Dame Emma will give me a fresh-laid egg, and gladly, if she know we
have so fine a guest."

"Nay, wife, we will not flaunt our honours abroad," Langland answered.
"'T were as well Dame Emma do not know."

So Kitte was fain content herself with a sly smoothing of Calote's
hair in the midst of Langland's Latin blessing.

The cook in Kennington Palace was one had learned his trade in France
a-following the Black Prince. He had a new sauce for each day of the
year. Stephen looked with wonder upon the mess of beans that Kitte
poured out for him. His trencher bread was all the bread he had; yet
even the trenchers at Richard's table were not such bread as
this,--black, bitter, hard. He ate his beans off the point of his
dagger, and looking across at the fair flower of Calote's face, he
marvelled. He had a little mug of penny-ale, and Langland kept him
company. Kitte and Calote drank whey and nibbled their trenchers. The
meal was silent and short. At the end none poured water over his
fingers nor gave him a towel of fine linen to wipe his lips. Excepting
the half of his own hard trencher, and this Kitte set away on a shelf,
there were left no crumbs wherewith to comfort the poor. Then Kitte
lifted the charred sticks off the fire and laid them aside, and Calote
scoured the iron pot, and Langland set himself to discourse to his
disciple upon the Vision concerning Piers Ploughman.

"And now the Vision 's ended dost dream a new song?" quoth the squire,
but his eyes were on Calote.

"I have but one song," said Long Will. "I write it anew, it changeth
ever as the years run, yet in the end 't is the same song."

He drew forth two rolls of parchment from a pouch at his girdle and
looked on them:--

"Since the death of the Black Prince I have changed the old, somewhat.
Here"--and he pointed with his finger--"I have a mind to set in a new
fable."

Calote had come to lean against his shoulder, and now she said:--

"Is 't o' the rats and how they would have belled the cat, father?"

He glanced aside at her with a smile:--

"Calote hath the Vision by heart," he said.

"This gentle keepeth the parchment in a carven box, father."

Langland fingered the pages of his manuscript, and presently took a
quill from his pouch, opened his ink-horn, and crossed out a word.

"An my father would tell thee the tale of the rats, 't would pleasure
thee," said Calote to the squire.

"Nay, I have hindered enough," protested Stephen,--"but wilt not thou
tell the tale?"

Her father, looking up, smiled, but Calote shook her head, and clasped
her hands, and unclasped them, shyly.

From the lane came a snapping sound, as Kitte broke twigs from a brush
heap for the fire. Langland, pen in air, studied his parchment. The
squire wandered to the window.

"'T is quiet now," said he; "methinks I 'll set forth."

"Not yet," the poet answered; "I will go with you."

"What danger hast thou braved?" asked Calote in wonder. "What 's the
meaning? Methought 't was father's jesting."

"Thy father saved my life this day from a rout of prentices that would
have mauled me as I came hither,--because, forsooth, the seneschal to
the Earl of March is cast in prison. But wherefore the good people of
London should so concern them about the Earl's servant is riddle too
deep for my guessing."

"The seneschal of the Earl of March?" quoth Calote, wrinkling her
brow: "who 's he?"

"A worthy man, one the Earl hath in esteem; 's name's Peter de la
Mare."

"Peter de la Mare!" cried Calote. She stared incredulous, and then her
eyes blazed big with indignation. "Seneschal to the Earl of March,
forsooth! What didst thou this five month? Hast heard o' the Good
Parliament?"

"Assuredly!" the squire made answer, amazed.

"Assuredly!" retorted she. "And yet thou marvellest that the people is
angry for the sake of Peter de la Mare? Shall I instruct thee?
Hearken: in this same Parliament 't was Peter spoke for the Commons.
'T was Peter dared tell the King his counsellors were thieves, and the
people of England should be no more taxed for their sakes. 'T was
Peter brought John o' Gaunt to terms, and did fearlessly accuse that
rascal merchant, Richard Lyons, and those others. 'T was Peter charged
my Lord Latimer with his treachery and forced the Duke to strike him
off the council. He dared even meddle 'twixt the old King and Alice
Perrers,--and she a witch! But now that's all o'erthrown, for that the
Black Prince is dead.--Natheless, when young Richard, thy master,
cometh to his kingdom, see thou 'mind him 't was this same Peter de la
Mare, with the Commons at 's back, did force the King to make Richard
heir to the throne. And this decree--John o' Gaunt dare not
overthrow."

She paused for breath, and the bewildered Stephen, round-eyed, with
open mouth, awaited helpless the renewal of her instructing.

"Methought ye nobles were but too busy with affairs of state," she
resumed bitterly; "yet 't would appear otherwise."

"I am no noble, mistress," said Stephen, finding his tongue, "but a
poor gentleman, owner of a manor there be not villeins enough left to
farm. Young Richard is not yet eleven years of age. It suiteth ill the
purpose of his uncles and guardians that he and his household should
busy themselves in the kingdom. Mayhap, if we could learn our lesson
of lips as fair as thine, we 'd prove apt pupils; but the ladies of
our household are busied in matters feminine."

"I am no lady," said Calote, grown rosy red; "I am a peasant maid. I
have no idle gentles to woo me all day long, nor never shall. The poor
is my Love."

"Mayhap I am an idle gentle," Stephen answered, "yet I woo no lady in
Kennington Palace." He came a step nearer and kneeled on one knee.

"An 't please you, fair sir," said the voice of Langland, "the time's
as fitting now for departure as 't will be an hour hence. Shall we set
forth?"



                            CHAPTER VI

                         Food for Thought


Langland and the squire made their way to the river by narrow, muddy
lanes and unfrequented alleys. The poet, sunk in reverie, sped onward
with the free stride of the hill-shepherd, a gait he had not lost in
all the five and twenty years of his sojourn in London; and Stephen
walked beside him hurriedly, marvelling at himself that he dared not
break the silence and ask the many questions that tingled at the tip
of his tongue. For this fine young gentleman, who could be pert enough
with Sir Simon de Burley, the tutor of Richard's household, or even
with his godfather, the Earl of March, yet found himself strangely
abashed in the presence of the lank peasant-priest. Although Stephen
knew not its name, 't was reverence stirring in him, an emotion little
encountered among courtiers. The very silence of this grave, dingy
figure seemed to him more pregnant than the speech of other men.

On the middle part of London Bridge, where was the drawbridge,
Langland paused and leaned upon the parapet to look in the water.

"'T is the key that unlocketh the city," he said. "Let the bridge be
taken, and London is taken."

He spoke as to himself,--moodily; but Stephen answered at his elbow:--

"The French are not like to venture so far as London."

"England hath need to be afeared o' them that's nearer home than the
French," returned the poet, and went on across the bridge.

In Southwark a shorter way led through a street of ill-repute, and
here a young harlot plucked Stephen by his hanging sleeve and looked
on him, and smiled. Langland, out of the corner of his eye, saw, yet
took no notice. But the squire, taking a piece of silver from his
purse, gave it into the girl's hand, saying:--

"Thine is a poor trade. I am sorry for thee."

And the girl hung her head; and presently when they looked back they
saw that she sat on a doorstone, sobbing.

"England is in a sad way," said Stephen, "with an old king far gone in
his dotage, and a woman like Alice Perrers to 's mistress. When young
blood cometh to the throne, I trow such-like disgrace as this will be
swept away."

"Do you so?" said Langland grimly. "Sir, these stews are owned of the
Bishop of Winchester; they are a valuable property."

"William Wykeham!" cried the squire; "that pious man, friend to my
godfather! he that goeth about to found the new college in Oxford?"

"Even so," said Langland. "Yet I do him a small injustice; a part of
these houses is owned of Walworth the fishmonger."

"Sir, you feed me with thoughts!" Stephen exclaimed sadly.

"I am right glad," said Langland; "I had been a churlish host to give
thee but only beans."

And his guest knew not whether to laugh or no.

At the gate of the palace Langland gave the squire good-day, and
turned him back to London without further pause, and Stephen would
have run after him to thank him for his courtesy, but there came down
from the gate-house a half score of young gentlemen that fell upon the
squire with shout and laughter, and when he had set himself free, the
priest was past the turn of the road.

"Ho, ho,--Etienne! So thou art not eaten up of John of Gaunt?"

"What adventure?"

"Here 's a half ell o' mud on thy hosen."

"What adventure?"

"The Prince kept the dinner cold an hour."

"The Prince would not eat a morsel."

"Threw the capon out o' the dish over the floor, and the gravy hath
ruined Sir John Holland's best coat of Flemish broadcloth."

"Who was yon tall clerk, disappeared but now?"

"The Prince hath not ceased to weep these three hours."

"Sir Simon de Burley hath sworn he will have thee birched like any
truant schoolboy."

"He hath ridden forth much perturbed."

"'T is thought the Prince is in a fever; the physician is sent for."

"Tell 's thy tale! Tell 's thy tale!"

"_Mes amis_" said Stephen, "I dined of beans,--plain beans,--sans
sauce, sans garniture. My Lord of Oxford, thou art my friend, and the
cook's, couldst discover if the capon was injured by 's fall?"

A shout of laughter greeted the question, and all cried, "Beans!--Tell
us thy tale!"

But here a page, running down the courtyard, bade say that the Prince
Richard called for Etienne Fitzwarine; and the importunate young
gentlemen gave place.

By the Tabard in Southwark, Langland met two horsemen a-riding, and,
as was his custom, he passed them by without obeisance. They noted
him, for they were scanning earnestly all persons who met them; and
one that was seneschal to the Prince said:--

"A rude fellow!"

And the other:--

"Some malcontent. 'T is so with many of these poor parsons, I hear."

But a voice called to them from behind, and turning, they saw the
clerk, who endeavoured to come up with them.

"Sirs," he called, "if ye seek one Stephen Fitzwarine, I have but now
seen him safe at Kennington Palace."

"Here 's silver for thy courtesy, master clerk," said the seneschal,
and tossed a white piece on the ground, then turned and galloped off
with his comrade.

Long Will stood looking at the silver in the mud:--

"Eh, well!--'t will buy parchment," said he, and picked it up and
wiped it on his sleeve.



                            CHAPTER VII

                    A Progress to Westminster


Throughout that uneasy winter following the death of Edward the Black
Prince, Jack Straw and Wat Tyler were much in London. None knew their
business, but they hung upon the skirts of all public disturbance and
would seem to have been held in esteem by certain of the citizens.
They slept, of nights, on the floor of that lower room in Langland's
cot, and here Peter, the Devonshire ploughman, kept them company. He
had got him a job to blow the bellows for Hobbe Smith, and he stood in
a dark corner all day, earning his meat and drink, and biding his time
till the law might no more hale him back to Devon for a runaway. For
this was the law, that if a 'scaped villein should dwell in any town a
year and a day and his lord did not take him, he was free of his lord.

Once, at midnight, Peter awoke with a light in his eyes, and after a
moment of blinking discovered Jack Straw and Wat a-sprawling on their
bellies, head to head, and a rushlight betwixt them. They had a square
of parchment spread out, and Wat drew upon it with a quill.

"Now here I make Mile End," said he, "and just here i' the wall 's
Aldgate,--and they that come by this road"--But here he was 'ware of
Peter's shock-head that shaded the light.

"Thou hast spoiled a page o' Long Will's Vision wi' hen-tracks," said
Peter; "and he hath much ado to save 's parchment out of 's victual."

"'T is a plan of London, fool!" answered Wat, and would have displayed
his handiwork, but Jack Straw blew out the light.

Calote did not like Jack Straw. Thrice, of late, he would have kissed
her when her father was not by, but she slipped from his hand. At the
feast of St. Nicholas he gave her a ribbon. Jack Straw was a widower
with two little lads. "And their grandam is old, poor soul," he was
wont to say with a sigh, looking on Calote from beneath his white
eyelashes.

Calote took the ribbon with an ill grace:--

"I am daughter to a poor man; I do not wear fallals," she objected.
And at night, when she and her mother had come to bed, she spread the
ribbon on her knee with discontent.

"He smelleth ever o' mouldy thatch," she murmured. "I 'll warrant he
beat his wife."

And Kitte answered drily:--

"No doubt but she deserved all she got."

"My father doth never beat thee," Calote averred.

"Thy father is no common man," said Kitte, "but a poet,--and a
priest."

"I 'll not marry a common man," cried Calote, tossing the ribbon on
the floor.

"Thou wilt not find another like to thy father," quoth Kitte. She laid
her hand upon her daughter's shoulder and looked down for a moment on
the yellow hair; then, as she had taken resolve, she said, "Natheless,
an' 't were to live again, I 'd take t' other man."

Calote looked up, white; there was a question in her eyes.

"Ah, no!" said Kitte, answering, "'t was thy father I loved, fast
eno'. The other man was a lord's son; he did not woo me in way of
marriage. But I was desperate for love of thy father. I said, 'What
matter? I will give myself to this lord, and forget.' Then my mother
watched; and she betrayed me to Will; for that all our women were
honest and she feared for my soul. And Will came to me and said,
'Choose! shall it be marriage with a clerk in orders,--a poor sort of
marriage and hopeless,--but yet a marriage? Or shall it be the other,
with this lording?' And his humilité and sweet pleasure that I had
sighed for him so played upon me that I mistook; I thought he loved
me. But a priest with a wife is a maimed creature. To marry the man we
love is not alway the best we may do for him. Were thy father free, he
might be well on to a bishopric by now."

"Bishops be not so enviable," answered Calote. "Here 's Wykeham thrust
forth by John of Gaunt, all his estates confiscate, and he hunted
hither and yon by the king's men. My father envieth not such."

"Thou art wilful," said Kitte sternly. "Kneel down and pray that thou
mayst never know the bitterness it is to drag down thy best beloved,
that was born to mount higher than thou,--be he priest or knight."

"My father would not be but a poor man, ever," cried Calote. "Bishops
and great abbots they oppress the people and acquire lands"--

"Hold thy tongue and say thy prayers!" said Kitte, and shook her.

"How may I do both?" answered Calote.

"One learns," Kitte made reply coldly. And Calote, her prayers said,
went to her mother's bed and kissed her.

"Thou shouldst marry a prince the morrow morn, had I my way," Kitte
did murmur wistfully.

Nevertheless, on a day in late January, when Jack Straw said he would
take Calote to see the Prince Richard and his train ride forth to
Westminster, for Parliament was to be opened that day, Calote went
with him gladly.

The old King was very sick in Kent; and John of Gaunt, to pleasure the
people and so further his cause with them, had obtained that the
Parliament be opened by the Prince. This was John of Gaunt's
Parliament,--he had it packed; there was scarce a knight of any shire
but was his creature. The town was full of lords and their retainers,
of knights and burgesses.

'T was in a jostling crowd, and none too good-natured, that Calote and
Jack Straw, Hobbe the smith, Peter from Devon, and Wat Tyler stood to
see the heir pass. They were by Charing Cross, meaning to follow on to
Westminster with the train when it came from the city. All about the
people grumbled, and trod upon one another's toes. Prentices sang lewd
songs and played vile pranks; anon the babel rose into a guffaw or
lapsed to a snarl. Ploughman Peter squatted on the top step of the
Cross, within a forest of legs, and slept. Hobbe gave entertainment to
himself, and many beside, with mows and grins and gibberings out of
the devil's part in the Miracle; yet he was mindful of Calote, and
turned him to her now and again with:--

"Yon fellow 's of the household of Northumberland; dost mark his
badge?"--or, "See, mistress! the black horse is one I shod yesterday;
an ill-conditioned beast as ever champed bit;" and such-like
information.

Wat Tyler and Jack Straw whispered together of certain oppression
committed of late by Earl Percy and his retainers, and hinted at what
should hap when the people claimed freedom for itself, and put down
all such packed Parliaments as this was like to be.

"But, Wat," said Calote, who paid more heed to these two than to Hobbe
and his pranks; "in my father's Vision nobles and common folk laboured
side by side in amity. Dost not mind the fine lady with the veil, how
she sewed sacking and garments, and broidered altar-cloths? And the
knight came to Piers in friendly wise to know what he might do. Yet
thou wilt have it that the people is to do all, and moreover they will
cast down the nobles from their place, with hatred. How can this be
when Christ the Lord is Leech of Love? Why wilt thou not have the
nobles into thy counsel; speak to them as they were thy brothers, and
gain their love?"

Wat Tyler laughed aloud, and Jack Straw set his finger beneath
Calote's chin and smiled upon her.

"Sweet preaching lips," quoth he, and would have kissed her; but she
struck him, and Wat said:--

"Let be! Why tease the maid?"

But they ceased their whispering, for the crowd was making a great
roar, and some said they could see the Prince. So many rude folk
clambered up the steps of the Cross that Calote was pressed upon and
well-nigh breathless, and she could see naught but the broad backs of
men and the wide caps of women; so Jack Straw made as to lift her in
his arms; but she, in haste, cried:--

"Wat shall hold me; he 's taller."

And Wat, laughing, swung her to his shoulder, for she was but a slip
of a child.

"I 've a maid of mine own in Kent rides often thus," said tall Wat.
And Jack Straw smiled; yet, though he smiled, he cursed.

Now there came by trumpeters, and gentlemen in arms, a-many; and this
and that and the other great lord. And then there came a little lad on
a great horse.

He was all bejewelled, this little lad; he had a great ruby in his
bonnet, and three gold chains about his neck, and a broad ribbon
across his breast. His little legs stood out upon the back of the
great horse, and his long mantle of velvet spread as far as the
horse's tail. He had a fair and childlike countenance and a proud
chin. His mien was serious, and he bore himself with a pretty
stateliness, yet was nowise haughty. And the people cheered, and
cheered, and cheered again; men laughed with love in their eyes, and
women blessed him and sobbed. On his right hand rode the great Duke,
smiling and affable; on his left, but sourly, the Earl of March. Close
after came young Thomas of Woodstock. At Richard's bridle-rein there
walked a young squire very gaily clad, and when the great horse came
opposite Charing Cross and the place where Calote was lifted above the
heads of the people, this squire said somewhat to the little Prince;
whereupon Richard, forgetful, for the nonce, of Parliament and
kingdom, stretched upward, turned his head like any eager child, with
"Where?" upon his lips, and looked until he found--Calote.

He looked on her with a solemn curiosity, as a child will, and she
from her high seat looked on him. Wat Tyler was moving on with the
crowd, so the two kept pace, holding each other's glance. Once,
Calote's eyes fell to the squire, whereupon he lifted his cap. All
about her was shouting, but she heard only her own thoughts, which
were, of a sudden, very loud and clear.--If this little child could
learn to love and trust the poor, might not the Vision indeed be
fulfilled? Might not the king and the ploughman indeed toil together,
side by side, for the good of the people? Oh, if there were some one
to teach this child! If she, Calote, might speak to him and tell him
how far poverty differed from riches! The squire must have spoken
concerning her, else why should the boy keep his eyes so fixed on her
face? If she could but speak to him and tell him of the Vision, and
what a king might do! He was so little, so noble,--he would assuredly
learn.

But now Wat, jostled amid the throng, was not able to keep pace with
the Prince, and fell behind. And they were before Westminster, where
the Duke lifted his nephew off the horse and led him within the Abbey;
and other lords dismounted to follow, and there was confusion and
shouting of pages. All this while, the ploughman, being waked when the
Prince came past the Cross, had followed on behind Wat, agape on the
splendour and forgetful of his own safety. But when the Earl of Devon
and his retainers made a stand to dismount, on a sudden a stocky,
red-faced knight sware a great oath and, leaping off his horse, came
and took Peter by the ear:--

"A villein! A 'scaped villein!" he cried. "'T is mine! Bind him!"

And all the crowd was echoing, "A villein 'scaped!" when Hobbe,
thrusting men and women to right and left, laid his hand upon Peter's
shoulder and bawled:--

"A lie! A very villainous lie! 'T is my prentice that 's served me
faithful this year and more."

"Hobbe's prentice!" cried the mob. "Good fellows, stand by the smith!"
And they closed about the knight, so that he had no room to draw his
sword.

But one came riding from the old Earl of Devon to question concerning
the affray, and the knight cried: "Justice! Justice, my lord! Here 's
mine own villein kept from me by a rabble!"

"Justice!" bellowed the smith. "Oh, good citizens of London, do ye
stand idly by and see the rights of prentices and masters so
trampled?"

"Nay!--Nay!--Nay!--Nay!" said many voices; and the people surged this
way and that.

"Rescue! Rescue!"

"Stand on your rights!"

"Does Devon rule because a Courtney 's Bishop o' London?"

The burly smith and the no less redoubtable knight stood a-glaring,
each with his hand upon his claimed property.

"'T is mine!" cried the knight. "He ran not six months agone."

"'T is mine!" roared the smith. "Hath blowed my bellus this year and
six."

One said the Bishop of London was sent for to quell the mob. A clot of
mud caught the knight on the side of his bullet head. It could be seen
where Devon consulted with his sons and retainers, for 't was no light
matter to wrest away a London prentice, on whichsoever side lay the
right.

"The smith speaks truth!" said Jack Straw, lifting up his voice. "When
do the lords aught but lie to the people?"

Some one threw a stone.

Then Calote leaned down and laid her hand on Peter's head. "O sir!"
she said to the knight, "this is a man. Christ came in his likeness.
He is thy bloody brother. Will ye not love one another?"

They that were near at hand stood agape. Others beyond said, "What is
't?" "Who is 't?"--and others again answered them, "'T is Long Will's
little maid." "'T is a maid with hair like the sun." Those at the edge
of the throng thought an angel was sent, and they crossed themselves.

The knight lifted his purple face, and his mouth dropped wide open.

All this while had Peter stood silent, passive, hopeless; but now he
spoke:--

"In five months I were a free man," he said, "but to-day I am this
man's villein. He saith true."

"Fool!" cried Hobbe; "I would have delivered thee."

"Fool!" cried Jack Straw.

"Fool!" laughed the crowd. "Bind him!" "Give him to 's master!" "Bind
him!" "Hobbe 's well rid!" "Bind him!"

So they bound him fast, and two stout knaves set him on the knight's
horse, and the knight went into Westminster.

"Take me to him," said Calote; and Wat carried her to the side of the
horse.

"Good-by, mistress," said Peter; "God bless thee!"

"Good-by, Peter," said Calote. "'T is very true what my father saith,
how that Truth resteth with the ploughman."

"Heh?" asked Peter; but she was gone on her way.

In a moment she bade Wat set her down, and when he did so she looked
in his face, for throughout this hubbub he had uttered nor word nor
sound.

There was foam upon his lip.



                           CHAPTER VIII

                           An Embassage


The winter days that followed were full of stir and strife, and the
devil with the long spoon was ever John of Gaunt. 'T was he set the
people agog that day John Wyclif was sent for before the bishops in St.
Paul's. For the people were friendly enough to this great preacher;
they liked right well to hear him say that abbots and bishops should
be landless and dwell in Christian pauvreté. But they did not like
that John of Gaunt should be his friend; for in those days the Duke
had put it in the old King's heart to take away the rights of the
people of London, that were theirs since old time, and set over them a
mayor who was none of their choosing. And when the people heard this,
is no wonder they made a riot that day in St. Paul's, and in the
streets of the city. And they would have burned John of Gaunt's Palace
of the Savoy, that stood betwixt Charing Cross and Temple Bar, but the
Bishop of London persuaded them, and they left it for that time.

Jack Straw got a broken head in this riot and lay in Langland's cot
three days, and Calote quarrelled with him; for she said, if he and
his like went about burning and destroying all the fair palaces and
sweet gardens, in the end, when his day came and all men should hold
in common, there would be naught left that anybody would care to have.

Said he, her head was turned with seeing so many fine gentlemen about
the town, and because the little Prince had looked on her that day of
Parliament. She was like all women with her vanity. She would sell
herself for a gewgaw.

"Natheless," answered Calote, "I 've not been in haste to wear the
ribbon thou gavest me."

And Jack Straw swore at her, and cursed his lame head that kept him
helpless. 'T was a rough wooing. Calote minded her of the squire, and
her heart sickened against Jack Straw.

At Eastertide she saw Stephen again. He was come to St. Paul's to hear
Mass, and she thought peradventure he had forgotten her. But then he
looked in her eyes.

She found him awaiting her beneath the north porch when she came out,
and he took her hand and begged leave to walk with her. In the
beginning she said him nay, but when he told her he was bearer of a
message from the Prince Richard, she let him have his way, and they
went out through the Aldersgate into Smithfield, under the shadow of
the convent wall by St. Bartholomew's.

"O Calote!" said the squire. "O white flower! At night in my dream
thou hast come to me; and when I awoke I thought that no maid--nay,
not thyself even--could be so fair as wert thou in the dream. And
now,--and now,--behold! thou art more beautiful than thy dream-self."

"Is 't the message of the Prince?" quoth Calote. She held one hand
against her breast, for something fluttered there.

"Sweet heart, thou art loveliest of all ladies in England and in
France," said Stephen. "Since I saw thee my heart is a white shrine,
where I worship thee."

"Hast thou forgotten that day in our cot?" asked Calote, very sad.
"There was no lady's bower. Wilt leave me, sir? I may not listen.
Betake thee to the palace with thy honeyed words!"

They stood in an angle of the wall, and Stephen knelt there and kissed
the ragged edge of Calote's gown. While his head was bent, she put out
her hand and had well-nigh touched his hair. But when he looked
upward, she had both hands at her breast.

"O rose! O rose of love!" he murmured; and did not rise, but stayed
kneeling, and so looking up.

"In that Romaunt," said Calote, "a maiden opened the gate. She bare a
mirror in her hand, and she was crowned and garlanded. Her name was
Idlelesse. But I am not she. I am not any of those fair damsels in
that garden."

"Thou art the rose," he said.

"I do not dwell in a garden."

"Thou art the rose."

"O sir!" she cried, and flung her arms wide. "There be so many kind of
love in the world! But this one kind I may not know. Do not proffer
it. The Lord hath made me a peasant. Love betwixt thee and me were not
honourable."

"'T is true, I am in tutelage," Stephen answered. "But one day I shall
come to mine own. Meanwhile, I serve thee. 'T is the device of my
house, 'Steadfast.'"

"I am of the poor," said Calote. "I will not eat spiced meats while my
people feed of black bread. I will not lie in a soft bed if other
maids must sleep o' the floor."

"I will serve thee!" cried Stephen. "My villeins shall be paid good
wage. Yea, I have read the Vision. The memory of thy father's words is
ever with me."

"Yet thou canst prate of _thy villeins_" she returned.

"But who will till my fields, else?" he asked of her most humbly.

And she answered him, "I do not care."

So he rose up from his knees a-sighing, and presently he said:--

"This is my motto: 'Steadfast.' And the message of the Prince is that
he would fain speak with thee. One day he will send and bid thee to
the palace; when the tutor and his lady mother shall be well
disposed."

"Sayst thou so?" cried Calote. "Ah, here 's service!"

But the squire was amazed and sorrowful.

"Art thou of the poor," he exclaimed, "and wilt none of me? But thou
canst clap thy hands for joy of being bid to the palace?"

"Nay, nay!" Calote protested. Tears came to her eyes; she laid her
hand upon the squire's gay broidered sleeve. "But when I saw the
little Prince a-going to Westminster, methought--'T is a fair child
and noble; if he had one at his ear to tell him of the wrongs of his
poor, he might learn to love these poor. Piers could learn him much.
Mayhap I might wake this love in 's heart. Then would there be neither
poverty nor riches, when the king is friend to the ploughman."

"And if I serve thee faithful? If I bring thee to the Prince? If I make
these wrongs my wrongs, and plead to him?--Then--Calote--then--what wilt
thou?"

"How can I tell?" she whispered.



                            CHAPTER IX

                        The King's Secret


Yet the days passed, and 't was mid-June when there came to the door
of the house on Cornhill a slender young squire on a slow and sober
hack, with a stout and likewise sober gentlewoman afore him on the
saddle. The youth had much ado to see his horse's head by peering this
way and that around the circuit of his lady, the while he kept one
hand at her waist in semblance of protection. And the good folk on
Cornhill failed not to find, in all this, food for a jest.

A shoemaker's prentice came running to lend an awl, with:--

"An thou 'lt punch her with this and set thine eye to hole, thou 'lt
not need wag thy head so giddily."

"Nay, master, my tools will serve thee better," cried a carpenter.
"What's an awl to pierce three feet o' flesh?"

"Hold, hold! Thy lady's a-slipping!" laughed another. "Lean on him,
mistress,--he hath a stout arm!"

"Look how amorously he doth embrace the maid!"

And Hobbe, coming to the front of his shop, cried out:--

"A rape! a rape!--Rescue the damsel!"

"Ma foy, Etienne!" the lady protested, indignant. "Here 's a sweet
neighbourhood to bring an unprotected damosel."

"Nay, madame, but thou dost me wrong," said the squire. "Am I not here
to defend thee?"

He had pulled up his willing steed and lighted down, and now was come
to the lady's side to assist her to dismount. Hobbe also was drawn
nigh, and heard these words.

"Yea, mistress, thou dost most foully slander this knight," said he.
"I have seen him with his single arm put to rout a two thousand men
and mo'. He 's well known i' these parts, and greatly feared."

They that stood by roared with laughter; and Stephen, crimson, and
biting his nether lip,--yet not in anger,--made as to assist the lady
from her saddle. Seeing this, Hobbe thrust himself to the fore, and
said he:--

"Mistress, though you pity not this stripling, yet pity your own
neck," and caught her by the middle with his two hands and set her on
the ground, they both staggering. And the squire hurried her within
doors.

When she had caught her breath, she saw a bare, damp room, and a man
writing.

"Mother of God! What kennel is this, Etienne?" she gasped. "Didst not
assure madame 't was a poet's daughter?"

"Yea, and truly, Dame Marguerite! This is the poet's self."

She looked on Langland, who was come up the room, and shook her head,
saying:--

"I fear me thou hast fallen in evil company, Etienne. 'T will go ill
with thee if aught befal me."

But Stephen had turned away and louted low before the clerk.

"Sir, since that day you gave me entertainment in your house I have
many time related mine adventure to the Prince Richard, the puissant
and noble. It is the tale he most delighteth in. I have likewise read
to him from the Vision; there be parts he much affecteth. These
several months he will give madame his mother no peace, but he will
see your daughter, and hear from her lips concerning the poor, and the
manner of her life."

"Wherefore my daughter?" asked Langland.

"I--I--sir, I have spoke of your daughter, she is very fair. The
Prince, who is walled about with tapestry and richesse, he hath
desired to see one, like himself young, who knoweth not these things.
To-day, for the old King afar in his manor is mayhap at death's door,
and the gentlemen of our household are much occupied, the Prince hath
got his way with madame. She is a most gentle lady and a true mother.
She sendeth this, her waiting-woman, to bring the maiden safe to the
palace."

Long Will sunk his chin in his breast, and mused, the while the
waiting-woman stood with her skirts upgathered off the floor. Then he
lifted up his head and called:--

"Calote!--Calote!--Kitte!"

And presently there was a sound of pattering overhead, and down an
outside stair, and the two came in from the alley.

"Here 's a message for Calote," said her father shortly. "She is
bidden to Kennington Palace."

Kitte, just risen from a deep curtsey before the fine lady, showed
more of consternation than joy in her visage; but the little maid
caught Will's hand in both of hers and cried:--

"Oh, father, I may go?"

He looked gloomily upon her:--

"What wilt thou there?"

"Tell the Prince of us poor, father; teach him the Ploughman's tale;
beg him to come on pilgrimage with us to Truth. Let me go!"

"'T is the Prince commandeth, wench," the waiting-woman interrupted.
"Is no need to ask leave."

"Madame," said Langland, "you mistake. Is great need. The Prince is
not the King; neither is he mine overlord: I owe him no duty.
Natheless, the child may go. Yet"--and he turned him to Stephen, "if
there come any evil to this my daughter"--

"Sir," said Stephen, "I pledge my life for to keep the honour of this
maid."

"And of what use is thy life to me?" quoth Langland.

But Calote, who had fled away immediately, came now, walking softly.
She had put on her shoes of gray cloth, but she had no stockings. She
had smoothed her yellow braids and set a clean kerchief atop.

"I am ready to go with you, madame," she said, and curtseyed.

Langland and the smith together got the waiting-woman upon her saddle,
and Hobbe tossed Calote lightly up afore. So, with Stephen leading the
horse, they went out of Cornhill.

Now, though this waiting-woman's soul was strait, her heart was big
enough and kind, and when she had perforce to set her arms about
Calote, and she felt that slim little body of the child, and the
little breasts a-fluttering, because Calote's breath came too quick,
and because her heart beat fast,--the Dame Marguerite could not but
grow warm to the maid, and wiled the way with tales of the palace,
and, "When thou art come into the presence of the Prince thou wilt do
thus and so," and, "Thou art never to sit," and so with many
instructions of court modes and manners.

They found the little Prince in a round chamber in one of the turrets,
where he sat on a cushion within the splay of a narrow window, reading
a book.

"Ah, coeur de joie!" he cried, slipping down and running to embrace
Stephen. "What a lifetime hast thou been, Etienne, mon chéri. See, I
have sent them all away, the others, they were consumed with envy. I
said I would hold a private audience."

Still holding by Stephen's arm he turned him to Calote and, looking in
her face, was seized with a shyness: wherefore he ceased his prattle
and pressed yet more close to his squire. Then, because the hand of
the waiting-woman was heavy on her shoulder, Calote made her curtsey.

"I have seen thee," quoth Richard. "The day of Parliament I saw thee;"
and Calote smiled. "I have read thy father's book,--not all,--there be
dull bits; but some I like. Come hither to the window and I 'll show
it thee."

Here one came with a message to Dame Marguerite, and she, glancing
irresolute at the maid, at last shrugged her shoulders, and muttering,
"'T is but a beggar wench," went out at the door; but in a moment she
came again, and admonishing Stephen, bade him see to it that he played
no pranks while she was gone. He, bowing, held the tapestry aside for
her.

"Etienne, Etienne!" called Richard. "Bring yet another cushion! The
maid shall sit beside me in the window where is light, and the sun
falls on her hair."

"I--I may not sit," stammered Calote.

"Yea, sweet; if the Prince Richard desire it," Stephen assured her.
And lifting her in his arms, he set her on the cushion by the side of
the Prince. The colour came into her face at his touch, and he too was
rosy. He busied himself with drawing her narrow gown about her ankles.

"Mine Etienne saith thou art his bien-aimée," quoth Richard, and laid
a little jewelled hand upon hers that was bare and roughened at the
fingertips.

She was silent. The squire leaned against the wall at Richard's
side:--

"Yea, my lord," said he.

"Did I not love Etienne," the child continued, "and 't would grieve
him, I 'd take thee for mine own. Thou art most wonderful fair."

"O Prince!" cried Calote, "there be a many maids as fair as I, and
fairer; but they go bent neath heavy burdens; they eat seldom; the
winter cometh and they are as a flower that is blighted. These are thy
people. Are not all we thine own, we English?"

"The book saith somewhat of this," mused the boy. He took up the
parchment and turned the pages.

And Calote said:--

   "'The most needy are our neighbours, and we take good heed:
     --As prisoners in pits and poor folk in cots,--
     Burdened with children and chief lords' rent,
     What they spare from their spinning they spend it in house hire,
     Both in milk and in meal to make a mess o' porridge,
     To satisfy therewith the children that cry out for food.'"

"Yea, 't is here!" said Richard, pointing with his finger. "Read on!"

"I do not read, my lord," she answered. "I have no need to read, I
know my father's Vision:

    'Also themselves suffer much hunger,
     And woe in winter-time with waking of nights,
     To rise 'twixt the bed and the wall and rock the cradle:
     Both to card and to comb, to patch and to wash,
     To tub and to reel, rushes to peel;
     That pity 't is to read or to show in rhyme
     The woe of these women that dwell in cots.'"

"Natheless," said Richard, "I have heard mine uncle, the Duke, say
that the people do not feel these hardships, for that they know naught
else."

"Think you I feel, O my lord?" Calote answered him. "Yet I am of these
people. 'T is to-day the first day ever I sat on a cushion."

The boy stared.

"But thou shalt hereafter," he said. "Etienne will clothe thee in
silk, and feed thee dainties. I will give thee a girdle with a blue
stone in it."

"Nay, not so!" she cried. "How can I take mine ease if the people
suffer? Oh, sweet child, wilt thou walk in silk, and the half of thy
kingdom go naked? 'T is for thee they suffer. The white bread thou
dost eat, the people harvested. They gathered it into thy barns. And
yet thou wilt let them go hungry."

"No, surely I will not when I am King," he answered with trouble in
his voice.

"Hearken!" said Calote; and mindful only that he was a little child
who must be made to pity and to love, she took his two hands in her
own and so compelled his eyes to hers. "Didst mark, that day thou
wentest to the Abbey, how the people cheered thee, and blessed thee,
and smiled on thee?"

"Yea," answered Richard.

"And didst mark how they that were nighest the great Duke in that
throng were silent, or else they muttered?"

"Yea."

"He hath beggared the people, this man. 'T was he gave leave to that
thief Richard Lyons and the Lord Latimer to buy away all victual they
might lay hand to. And then, what think you, did they give this to the
poor? Nay! But they set it forth at such price that no poor man could
buy. In the midst of plenty there was famine. 'T is several years gone
now, yet I mind me how I sat in our lane and chewed the stems of the
rank grass. Our neighbour had a little babe,--and she could not give
it suck. So it died. Was no flesh o' the bones at all, only skin."

Richard's eyes were fixed upon her face with horror. His little hands
were cold.

"I hate mine uncle, John of Gaunt," he said.

"Sweet Prince, waste no time hating. Christ the King, He hated no man,
but He was Leech of Love. Learn thou of Him!"

"But I will not love mine uncle," cried the child.

"Love the people! Love us poor! If Christ is King, and He our brother,
art not thou likewise little brother to every man in England? Hearken
to Holy Church in the Vision:--

     'Wherefore is love leader of the lord's folk of heaven,'

"And this saith Reason, that counselleth the King:--

                        'If it were so
     That I were King with crown to keep a realm,
     Should never wrong in this world that I might know of,
     Be unpunished in my power, for peril of my soul.'

"Give the common folk new law! Last Trinité a year, there came to us a
countryman had run from his place for that he starved on the wage that
the law allowed. Yet that same day of Parliament his master found him
out, in open street, and haled him away. Oh, is 't not shame in a
Christian kingdom that men be sold with the soil like maggots? Set the
people free when thou art King! Set the people free!"

"I have heard my father say, before he died," said Richard, "that no
man is free, not the king even, for the nobles do bind his hands. I
hate the great nobles! They come and look on me and chuck me under
chin,--and anon they whisper in corners. They shall not bind my
hands!"

"My father saith the common folk is three times more than the nobles,"
said Calote eagerly. "If thou art friend to the poor, they will serve
thee. They will bind the nobles and learn them to love. Oh, hearken to
Piers! The Vision of Truth is with him. Take the poor man to thy
friend!"

Richard leaped down from the window; his cheeks were red, his eyes
were very bright.

"I will swear an oath!" he cried. "Etienne, give me thy sword!"

Now was the tapestry by the door thrust aside and a little page came
in, out of breath. Calote sat on the cushion, Etienne leaned against
the wall. Richard had the sword midway of the blade in his two hands,
and the cross-hilt upheld before him.

"Oh--oh!" gasped the little page. "The old King is dead!"

Richard lowered the sword. The colour went out of his cheeks.

"Etienne," he said, "Etienne,--am I--King?--What makes the room turn
round?"

Then the squire, coming out of his amaze, ran and knelt on one knee,
and set his King on the other.

"Imbécile!" he cried to the page, "bring His Majesty a cup of water!"

Meanwhile Calote sat in the window-seat.

"Do not hold me on thy knee, Etienne," said Richard presently;
"methinks 't is not fitting. I will stand on my feet. Where is the
maid?"

"Drink, sire!" said Etienne. "'T will cure thy head." And he steadied
the goblet at the lips of the King.

The page stood by, grinning.

"I listened," quoth he. "I was behind the arras when the messenger
spake. I ran like the wind. Why doth yonder maid sit in the King's
presence?"

"Mother of God!" exclaimed Calote, and jumped down in haste, very red.
And Richard laughed.

But in a moment he was grave again.

"Mayhap I should weep for my grandfather," he said. "I know he was a
great king. But my father would have been a greater than he, an he had
lived. I weep still, of nights, because my father is dead."

"Begone!" whispered Etienne to the page. "Haply they seek the King.
Tell the Queen-Mother he is here."

Calote came and knelt on both her knees before Richard.

"Thou, also, shalt be a great king," she cried.

But he shook his head.

"I do not know," he mused. "How little am I! The nobles are great, and
they do not love me,--not as my father loved. Men say mine uncle hath
it in his heart to kill me."

"O sire! the people love thee!" cried Calote. "The people is thy
friend; they hold to thee for thy father's sake; and if thou be friend
and brother to them, be sure they will hold to thee for thine own.
Wilt thou be king of common folk, sire? Wilt thou right the wrongs of
thy poor? Now God and Wat Tyler forgive me if I betray aught. But
hearken! The people has a great plot whereby they hope to rise against
this power of the nobles, this evil power that eateth out the heart of
this kingdom. If this thing come to pass, wilt thou go with the
nobles, or wilt thou go with thy poor?"

"I hate the nobles!" cried Richard passionately. "Have I not told
thee? I hate mine uncle the Duke, and Thomas of Woodstock that tosseth
me in air as I were a shuttlecock. I hate Salisbury, and Devon,--yea,
even the Earl of March, Etienne. They do not love me. Their eyes are
cold; and when they smile upon me I could kill them. I will go with
the common folk, they are my people."

"There will not be a king so great as thou, nor so beloved!" cried
Calote. "But this that I told thee is secret."

"Is 't?--Well!" said Richard eagerly,--"I do love a secret. Etienne
will tell thee how close I have kept his own."

He swelled his little chest and spread his legs.

"Now am I right glad. Mine uncles have their secrets. So will I
likewise. And I am King."

Then the tapestry lifted, and there came into the room a noble lady,
and two other following after; and all these had been a-weeping.

"O madame!" cried Richard, and went and cast himself into the arms of
this lady. "My grandfather is dead, and we are in sore straits. Would
God my father were alive this day." So he began to sob; and the
Queen-Mother took him up in her arms and bore him away, and her ladies
went also.

But of three young gentlemen that stood in the doorway with torches,
for now the day was spent, one only departed,--and he perforce, for
the passage was darker than this room, and the ladies called for
light. But the other two came in, and:--

"Here 's where thou 'rt hid!" they cried. "By St. Thomas o'
Canterbury, a fair quarry!"

They thrust their torches in Calote's sweet face and set their
impudent young eyes upon her. Yet did her loveliness somewhat abash
them.

"Sirs," said Etienne, "ye do annoy this damosel. Pray you, stand
farther off!"

"Is 't thy leman, or dost instruct the Prince?" asked he that was
elder of these two lads.

"For shame, Sir John!" said Etienne. "Moreover, I beseech you use more
reverence toward the King, since he is come to his inheritance."

"Ah!" cried Calote. The other lording had taken off her kerchief, so
that her hair was loosened; and now he knelt to lift her ragged skirt
where her white ankle showed, and he touched this little ankle
delicately, the while he looked up in her face and said:--

"Shall I kiss thy foot, mistress? Yet, say the word and I 'll kiss thy
lips. Wilt play with me? Thou shalt find me more merry paramour
than"--

But Etienne caught him by the collar as he knelt, and flung him off,
so that his head struck by the wall. He arose with a rueful
countenance and would have drawn his sword, but Sir John Holland went
to him and they two whispered together and departed.

"Come!" said Stephen, "the street is safer for thee. If I know aught
of the young Earl of Oxford, they will return and play some devil's
trick. Come! Wilt trust me? I know a way not by the gate."

She was weeping soft, but she gave her hand into his and let him lead
her through dark ways to a garden and a hedge; and so he crawled
through a small hole and drew her after him, and they ran across a
field to the high road.

"Do not weep!" he whispered. "I will protect thee with my life."

"I am not afeared," she answered him; "but, alas! who would be a maid
and not weep?"

They came upon the road where it made a turning away from the great
gate of the palace, and here was a tall man pacing in the dusk.

"Father!" Calote cried joyfully.

But though the squire made as he were content, yet he sighed.
Natheless, when he was come back to the round chamber, he found a
white something on the floor, which was Calote's little kerchief. And
this he put to his lips many times, and folded it, and thrust it
inside his jerkin, on the left side.



                             CHAPTER X

                       Plot and Counterplot


Now Richard was not yet crowned before he--or they that put words in
his mouth--had set free Peter de la Mare from Nottingham Castle. And
for this there was great rejoicing. Peter came up to London as he had
been Thomas à Becket returned out of exile. London gave him gifts; he
was honoured of the city; merchants feasted him.

'T was on the night after the merry-making that Wat Tyler and Jack
Straw came again to Cornhill, and they were not much elate. They said:
"New brooms sweep clean;" and "Well eno' to watch the kitten at play,
but 't will grow a cat;" and that this folk was a fool: 't saw no
further than its own nose; let it laugh now, but presently there would
be more taxing. And so on, of this man and that, in Kent and Sussex
and Norfolk, that followed John Ball and would be ready--when the time
was come.

Meanwhile Calote sat on her father's knee and listened. This secret
that she had discovered to the King was no true plot at that time;
nevertheless, it began to be one. Since the year of the first
pestilence, which year was the two and twentieth in the reign of
Edward III., and the third after the Black Prince gained the victory
over the French at Crécy,--since this year, the common folk did not
cease to murmur. And this was the beginning of their murmuring,
because in that dire pestilence more than the half of all the people
of England died, and the corn rotted in the field for lack of
husbandry.

Now it was an old law in England that the villein, which was bound to
the soil where he was born, must till the soil for his lord, giving
him service in days' labour; and, in return therefor, the villein had
leave to till certain acres for his own behoof. But this law was
fallen into disuse in a many places afore the pestilence time, and if
a villein would, he might discharge his service in a payment of money
to his lord, and so be quit; and the lord's bailiff hired other
labourers to till the manor. And this was a good way, for the villein
got more time wherein to till his own land, or to ply his trade, and
the lord's bailiff got better men,--they that laboured doing so of
free-will for hire, and without compelling.

Then came pestilence and knocked at every man's door; and where there
had been ten men to till the soil there was one now, and the one would
not work for the old wage, for he said, "Corn is dear." And this was
true, there being none to harvest the corn. So every man served him
who would pay the highest wage,--whether his own lord or the lord of
another manor. But the lords, becoming aware, said, "How shall this
be? For by the law the villein is bound to the soil and must labour on
the manor where he was born; yet here be villeins that journey from
place to place like free men, and barter service; neither will they
labour for their own lord except it like them, and for hire."

After this there was passed in Parliament the Statute of Labourers,
whereby it was declared that:--

"Every man or woman of whatsoever condition, free or bond, able in
body, and within the age of threescore years ... and not having of
his own whereof he might live, nor land of his own about the tillage
of which he might occupy himself, and not serving any other, should be
bound to serve the employer who should require him to do so, and
should take only the wages which were accustomed to be taken in the
neighbourhood where he was bound to serve, two years afore that plague
befel."

And this law was amended and made more harsh other years after.

But the villeins, having tasted freedom, were loth to return into
bondage. They fled away from the manors; they hid in the woods; they
gathered them into companies and would do no work except their demand
of wage and liberty were granted. Moreover, certain men of a quick wit
went about and preached against kings and lords. They said all men
were brothers and free, they must share as brothers. One of these
preachers was John Ball, a priest, a good man, fearless and fervent.
For a score of years he traversed England calling men to fellowship;
and for this he was persecuted of Holy Church. Rich prelates had no
mind to share their wealth with villeins. But and because John Ball
suffered, the common folk loved him the better and believed on him.
Langland knew him and had speech of him many a time; nevertheless,
Langland said that John Ball would not make England new. Mayhap 't was
by John Ball and his ilk that Langland's Vision came into the
countryside and spread among cottagers; and Wat Tyler heard it, and
Jack Straw,--and came out of Kent to learn more of this doctrine. So
they found Will Langland and loved him; but for understanding of him,
that was another matter. There were few men at that time could rede
this chantry priest.

So it was that the thought of fellowship grew up out of all these
rhymings and prophecies of John Ball and Long Will: and how that one
man of himself was well-nigh powerless before unrighteous rule, but if
many men were joined together to persuade the King and Parliament,
there might be pause and parley; and if all the villeins and artisans
and prentices in the wide realm of England were so banded--That was a
great thought! 'T was too big for the breast of Wat Tyler and Jack
Straw; it must out. Already it spread; it lodged in other breasts. But
this was all,--a thought like a thistledown flying from man to man;
and one blew it this way, and another blew it that; and if by chance
it made as to fall on the earth, there was always Jack Straw, or Wat
Tyler, or John Ball, to blow a great breath and set it off again.

"Natheless, in the end, naught will come of 't," said Long Will, that
night.

"Wherefore?" Wat Tyler questioned hotly.

"Who shall lead?" Will asked him.

Wat Tyler looked at Jack Straw and Jack Straw at him, yet neither in
the eyes of the other.

"There shall be a many leaders," said Jack Straw presently. "Of every
hundred, and of every shire, a leader."

"And the grievance of every leader shall differ from the grievance of
every other leader; yea," Langland added, "one only desire shall they
have in common,--to lead,--to put themselves in the place of power."

"For the people's sake," protested Wat.

"Their leader is God and the king; and wilt thou learn them another
lesson?"

"Yea, by"--But Wat Tyler looked on Jack Straw and swore no oath.

"The people of England is a loyal people," said Langland, "and slow
witted, loth to swallow a new thought."

"'T is no new thought," cried Wat in a great passion. "Hast thou not
sung it like a gnat in our ear these many years? By Christ, Will, but
I 'm past patience with thee! Wilt thou blow hot and cold? Cease thy
lies, if lies they be; but if thou say soth, act on 't!"

"Though thou art mazed, Wat, yet art thou not more mazed than I," said
Long Will wearily.

"I am not mazed," quoth Wat; "I see right clear. The nobles are our
oppressors, and 't is us poor folk pay. We till their fields, fight
their battles, give good money for their French war. Wilt thou tell us
to-day a tale of the ploughman that ruleth the kingdom, and to-morrow
prate of kings?"

"Thou art no ploughman, Wat," said Long Will, "but an artisan,
well-to-do, able to pay head-money to the bailiff and so be quit of
the manor when thou wilt to ply thy trade elsewhere."

"A quibble! A poor quibble!" Wat retorted. "With copying of charters
and drawing of wills thou 'rt tainted; thou 'rt half man o' law; thou
'rt neither fish nor flesh, nor good red herring."

"I marvel thou hast not found me out afore," said Langland quietly.
"Hast thou not heard me rail right prettily, many a time, against
those priests that come to London to earn silver by singing prayers
for the dead,--a lazy life; when they might, an they would, be
a-starving in country villages for the sake o' the souls o' living
poor wights that need comfort and counsel? Let God take care o' the
dead, say I, and if a man pray for those, let him pray for love's
sake. Yet here be I a chantry clerk in London,--I, that hold it akin
to simony to take money for such-like Masses. And there 's silver in my
pouch; not much,--for I 've not had the singing o' prayers for the
Black Prince,--yet silver: 't comes off black on my fingers."

"Father!" cried Calote, and clasped him round his neck; but he paid
her no heed.

"Am I of those, the disciples of John Wyclif, that begin to go about
and whisper that priests may marry without sin? Nay,--though I be in
accord somewhat with his doctrines of poverty,--conscience hath not
assoiled me that I am married, and my daughter sits on my knee."

"Ah, Will!" said Kitte, and she arose heavily and went out of the
room.

Calote set her finger upon his lips, but he drew away her
hand:--

"How have I cried out upon the begging friars! But thrice in the month
I sit and feed at my Lord Latimer's table,--my Lord Latimer that
betrayeth the poor,--I and a friar we dip our fingers into the same
dish for alms' sake. I live in London and on London both. I praise
Piers Ploughman for his diligence, yet have I no wish to bow my back
to his toil. I live like a loller. I am one of those that sits and
swings 's heels, saying: 'I may not work, but I 'll pray for you,
Piers.' Yet am I not minded to go hungry, neither. This is thy
prophet, Wat. Saint Truth, she is my lady. Bethink thee, but she 's
proud o' such a lover?"

Wat Tyler drew his hand across his eyes, there was water in them.
"Beshrew me, but I do love thee," he said. "Natheless, I believe thou
'rt mad; mad of thy wrongs. God! I could slay and slay and slay! I 'm
thirsty."

"Poor Wat--poor Wat!" said Langland. "'T is not all ambition with
thee, I know well.--But wrongs? My wrongs? Yea, truly they are mine,
for I 've made them."

"'T is the times makes them!" muttered Wat; "the times that do beset
us round with custom and circumstance, till there 's no help for 't
but to live lies. Thou canst not scape."

"Yea, I 'm in a net, but may I not tear with beak and claw? Yet I do
not so. And still thou believest on me?"

"Thou art truest man alive!" said Wat.

"Yet I tell thee in one breath the ploughman shall show the people the
way to truth,--and next breath, the king's the leader.--What sayest
thou; that I 'm mad? Which word is the mad word,--rede me which?"

Then Calote left her father's knee and came and stood in their midst.
Her cheeks were of the colour of scarlet, her eyes very bright.

"Hearken!" she said. "'T is both of them a true word. The King is our
leader, shall learn of the ploughman. The King and the ploughman is
friends together. The King shall right our wrongs, the ploughman
leading him to truth." And she told them of Richard.

Wat Tyler listened with a frown, Jack Straw with a smile that was not
near so pleasant as any frown. Kitte, in the doorway, stood
open-mouthed. Only Long Will sat unmoved. He had heard this tale.

When it was ended they all looked upon one another. Will smiled, but
Jack Straw laughed, a most unkindly laugh.

"An thou wert my wench, I 'd beat thee," said Wat. "Thou shouldst not
walk abroad but with a gag atween thy teeth."

"Soft--soft!" Jack Straw interposed him. "Milk's spilt: let 's lap it
up as best we may! Let 's consider to make the best on 't! Methinks I
see a way"--

"Send the maid to her bed, Will, an thou 'lt not lay on the rod,"
growled Wat Tyler. "Here 's enough o' long ears and blabbing tongues."

"Thou cruel Wat!" cried Calote. "Thou art no true man! What care hast
thou of the poor? Dost think to be king thine own self? A pretty king,
thou"--

"Chut, chut!" Long Will rebuked her. "Get thee to thy mother!"

"Nay, let her bide!" said Jack Straw gently. "Let her bide! She hath
brought us into this mishap, so may she help us forth."

"Thou fool!" cried Wat. "Thou lovesick fool! Wilt come a-courtin',
leave me at home!"

"I will," Jack Straw made answer, with narrow eyes. "But to-night I 'm
no lover, nor no fool neither; natheless, the maid shall bide. Never
fear, Calote, we 'll mend thy mischief."

"'T is no mischief," Calote retorted. "'T is a true loyalty to tell
the King."

"Yea, so! And if thou 'lt hearken, I 'll give thee more news to tell
him. Thou shalt never be naught but loyal, Calote."

"Mark you, Will!" cried Wat Tyler, "I 'm mum! If there 's aught else
to be betrayed, 't is he plays tattle-tongue. My rough speech is not
fit to be carried to court."

"So be it!" Jack assented. "Thou hast spoke to no purpose this hour
and more; 't is now my turn. Hearken!"

Jack Straw spoke not overloud at any time; yet folk heard him always.
To-night there was a half-smile hovering on his thin, long lips.
Calote turned her eyes away from his, that sought her; but though 't
was against her will, she listened.

"Will is in the right," said he; "Will is in the right ever. The King
is leader of us English. He may ride across our sown fields when he
goes a-hunting; he may send forth his provisor to take away our geese
and our pigs, our sheep and other cattle, to feed his idle courtiers
what time he maketh a progress through the realm; we 'll go hungry,
but we 'll cry God save him, as he passeth by. 'T will be a many years
afore common folk cease to honour the King. Here a man, there a man,
with rage in his heart, will be found to follow Wat Tyler or Jack
Straw; but England 'll never rise up as one man but at the bidding o'
the King."

Langland nodded and Wat Tyler ground his teeth.

"And 't is England as one man--the poor as one man--that must rise, if
that 's done that must be done to make us free men.--Now, look you! we
have the ear o' the King. 'T is a child,--a weakling, but what
matter?--the name 's enough. Wherefore may we not one day bid the
people to rise, in the name o' the King?"

Will Langland smiled, but he spoke no word, he waited on Jack Straw.

"In good time, we 'll send a messenger from shire to shire shall warn
the people secretly of this thing. There 'll be certain knights and
gentles, I ken, will cast in their lot with common folk, in the King's
name. 'T is not only ploughmen and prentices see truth in John Ball's
doctrine and Long Will's dream. We 'll send one shall convince them of
vérité."

"Must be a fair persuading messenger," quoth Long Will, mocking. "Is
't thou, or Wat, will undertake to convince the cotters of England
that ye 're privy to the counsel o' the King? Who is 't we 'll send?"

Jack Straw, sitting on a long oaken chest with his head by the wall,
thrust his fingers in his belt and spread his legs.

"Why,--Calote," said he.

The girl and her father got to their feet in the same moment; also
they spoke in the same breath.

"Yea!" said Calote, very soft, as she were gasping.

"By Christ, not so!" cried Long Will, with a strong voice that
quenched her little "yea" but not the light in her eyes, nor the
tumult in her breast, where she held her two hands across.

The priest took a step toward the oaken chest, then, "Tush!" he said,
clenching his hands and stopping still. "Tush!--thou hast no daughter.
I 'll forgive thee. Thou canst not know. An 't were Wat Tyler had
spoke so foul counsel I 'd--I 'd--by the Cross o' Bromholme--I 'd"--

"Disport thee like Friar Tuck in the ballad, no doubt," smiled Jack
Straw easily. "Calote, wilt go?"

"Yea, will I!" she answered.

"Who will believe a slip of a child?" Long Will asked scornfully, and
turned his back and paced down the room. "Moreover, the King hath not
given this counsel. Thou wilt not speak a lie, Calote?"

"Yet he shall give it," pursued Jack Straw. "Calote shall learn him 's
lesson, and ask a token of him, whereby men may know that she is a
true and secret messenger."

"Calote goeth not again to the palace," cried Langland harshly. "'T is
no place for a peasant maid."

"Men will be persuaded if thou show the King's token; if thou speak to
them, Calote; if thine eyes shine, and thy voice ring like a little
chapel bell," said Jack Straw, "'t will work more magic than three
sermons o' John Ball."

"Thou cold-blooded snake, hast thou no bowels?" Long Will asked him,
coming close. "Wilt send forth a tender maid to such dangers as thou
knowest lie by the road? Nay, I 'll not believe 't!"

"Yet, there 's more danger at the palace, and that thyself
knowest,--there 's a certain hot-blood squire"--he glanced upon Calote
and turned his speech--"One other audience with the King will do 't:
then away in villages and ploughmen's huts where she belongs. Mark
you, I purpose not to send her forth to-night. 'T is not this year nor
next that the men shall rise; 't will take time to go afoot or in a
cart throughout the countryside. Then for our plan, to gather all poor
men of England around about London town,--and the young King shall
come forth to meet them, and they 'll hail him leader,--sweet pretty
lad!--Here 's a Vision for thee, Will!"

"Is 't so, thou Judas?" quoth Wat. "Then where 's thy plot to kill the
King and all nobles,--and share every man equal?"

"Methought thou wert sworn mum?" said Jack Straw in his dry voice.

"'T is I shall have last word. She is my daughter," Langland said. So
he took her by the hand and led her away, and his wife followed him.
But Jack Straw and Wat Tyler whispered together till dawn; and when
Kitte came down to go to Mass, she found them lying on the floor
asleep.



                            CHAPTER XI

                          Midsummer Eve


"And no word o' this matter to King or common man till thou 'rt bid,"
admonished Wat Tyler when he bade Calote good-by next day. "If thou
keep faith, haply I 'll believe thou art not all blab."

"Likewise, leave thy father in peace," counselled Jack Straw. "Thou
'lt not be the first maid that slipped out when the door was on the
latch: there be not many go on so honest errand."

"An thou wert my father, I might do so," answered Calote. "But thank
God for that thou 'rt not!"

"Amen!" said Jack Straw with a grin.

Yet was there little need to warn Calote of her tongue at that time,
for a many days were gone by, and months even, before she again saw
Stephen or the King. And meanwhile John Wyclif came up to London, and
his name was in every man's mouth. Some said his doctrine was
heresies, and others believed on what they could understand, which was
much or little according as they had wit. But whether they believed on
Wyclif or no, there were few men at that day in England who spoke a
good word for the Pope. And although the little King Richard was a
pious child, and so continued till his life's end, and a right
faithful violent persecutor of heretics, yet did he not scruple--or
his counsellors did not for him--to require of John Wyclif to prove to
the nobles and commons of England--which they needed no proof, being
convinced afore--that they ought not to send money and tribute to the
Pope, when England was in sore straits for to meet her own taxes, and
charity begins at home. And this was a scandal, because Wyclif was
then under the Pope's ban; so it was sin for any man to crave his
counsel. But of how he played prisoner in Oxford in the midst of his
scholars that loved him; and how he came to Lambeth Palace and stood
before Simon Sudbury the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Courtenay the
Bishop of London, to make his defence; and how the Queen-Mother sent a
message so that they feared to do him any hurt,--this Book needeth not
to tell, save and to say that time passed. And Will Langland copied
his Vision and sang his Masses for the dead, and Calote, his daughter,
spun, and wove, and baked, and watched, and waited. Stephen came no
more to hear Mass in St. Paul's, and the King was kept close.

"He will forget," she said to herself after a long while; "he will
forget, and there will be none to learn him more, for Stephen will
forget likewise. Why should Stephen remember? Why--should
Stephen--remember? He hath forgot already, and 't is all come to
naught."

Ofttimes she would go out of the Aldersgate into Smithfield and stand
beneath the shadow of St. Bartholomew's wall, and wait, and remember
how he had knelt and kissed the hem of her russet gown.

So the winter passed, and the spring, and summer was come. And Calote
lay in her bed on Midsummer Eve and heard the merrymakers singing in
the street, and thought of other Junes: thought of the day the Black
Prince died, and Stephen said he would he were her squire; of the day
when she was sent for to the palace, and she sat on a cushion by
Richard's side and told him of the poor.

"June is a fateful month for me," she said.

Then underneath her window a lute tinkled and a voice sang:--

                "The birdies small
                 Do singen all,
     The throstle chirpeth cheerly to his make,
     The lark hath leave to carol to the sun:
     I would I were that joly gentil one,
             Piping thy praise unchid!
                   I 'd wake,
     To climb my heav'n or ever day doth break.
                 But I 'm forbid.

                "The birdies small
                 Do singen all,
     The trilly nightingale doth tell the moon
     His love-longing, nor hush him all the night:
     I would I were that tuneful manner wight,
             Within a rose-tree hid!
                   So soon
     Thou wouldst be wishing every night were June!
                 But I 'm forbid.

                "The birdies small
                 Do singen all,
     No throstle, I, nor nightingale, nor lark,--
     Yet fain to twitter, fain to softly peep
     Of love; and needs must loathly silence keep:
             Ne never no bird did.
                   'T is dark;
     'T is sleepy night,--I 'll whisper only, 'Hark!'
                 But I 'm forbid."

Calote lay still as a stone: only her hair moved where it veiled her
lips. From the tavern across the way there came sounds of merriment
and a banging of doors. The light from passing torches flickered up
among the shadows in the gabled ceiling of the little room. Then the
footsteps died away. Calote sighed, and made as to rise; and again the
lute tinkled. This second song was in the swinging measure that the
common folk loved, a measure somewhat scorned in Richard's court; but
the squire had good reason for the using of it He twanged his lute
right loud and sang:--

    "It fell upon Midsummer's Eve,
       When wee folk dance and dead folk wake,
     I wreathed me in a gay garland,
       All for my true love's sake.

    "I donned my coat with sleevès wide,
       And fetysly forth I stole:--
     But first I looked in my steel glass,
       And there I saw my soul.

    "I blinkèd once, I blinkèd twice,
       I turned as white as milk:
     My soul he was in russet clad,
       And I was clad in silk.

    "Now prythee tell me, soul of mine,--
       Wherefore so sober cheer?--
     To-night is night of love's delight,
       And we go to see my Dear.

    "Put on, put on thy broidered gown,
       Thy feathered cap, thy pointed shoon;
     The bells have rung eleven past,
       Let us begone right soon.

    "O Master, Master, list my word!
       Now rede my riddle an ye may:
     My ladye she is a poor man's daughter.
       And russet is my best array.

    "Tilt and tourney needs she not,
       Nor idle child that comes to woo:
     But an I might harry her half acre,--
       O that were service true!

    "Now prythee learn me, soul of mine,
       Now prythee learn me how;--
     And forth I 'll fare to the furrowed field,
       And meekly follow the plough.

    "And I 'll put off my silken coat,
       And all my garments gay.
     Lend me thy ragged russet gown,
       For that 's my best array,
                 Ohè!
       For that 's my best array."

Calote sat up, a-smiling, with her golden hair falling about her
brightly. So with her hands clasped across her white breast, she
waited. Beneath the window there was a footstep, a faint rustle. She
could smell roses. And now a third time the lute sounded. In the midst
of this last song Calote arose somewhat hastily, a small, slim, fairy
creature, cloaked in her golden hair. She caught up the old cassock
from the pallet, but always noiselessly, and slipped her two arms in
the long sleeves, and after smothered her soft whiteness in the rough
brown folds. Yet was she minded to draw out her hair. So she stood
within the room, at her bed's head, till the song was ended.

    "So soon as I have made mine orisoun,
     Come night or morn, I 'dress me hastily,
     T' endite a ballad or a benisoun
     Unto my ladye dear: right busily
     I fashion songs and sing them lustily:
     Each morn a new one and each night a new,
     And Sundays three,--what more may lover do?

    "What though I woo her all night long, I guess
     I 'll never need to sing ay song twice over;
     And every song bespeaketh sothfastnesse,
     And every song doth boldèly discover
     My heart, and how that I 'm a very lover.
     Now, Cupid, hear me, this I swear and say:
     I 'll sing my ladye two new songs each day."

He was looking up, and he saw her come to the window and stand there,
very still. He saw her fair face and her shining hair, like a lamp set
in the dark window. And she, by the light of his torch which he had
stuck upright in the ground at his side, saw him. He was twined all
round his head and neck, and across his breast and about his middle,
with a great garland of red roses, and the end of it hung over his
arm.

"O my love!" said he, and went down on his knees in the mud.

But she shook one arm forth from the cassock sleeve, and laid a finger
on her lip.

"Alas, alack!" he sighed, and then: "'T is so many months. And may I
never speak with thee? How shall I do thy bidding, and learn the King
his lesson, if I learn it not first from thee?"

She stayed by the window looking down, but always she was silent, and
she held her finger fixed at her lip.

"I am at Westminster to hear Mass,--I cannot tell when 't shall
be,--but I 'll come as often as I may. Dost never come to Westminster?
Dost never come? Oh, say--wilt thou? Do but move thy lovely head, that
I may know."

So she moved her head, slow, in a way to mean yes; and he rose up off
his knees, and unwound the rose garland very carefully, and hung it
looped thrice across the door, 'twixt the latch and the rough upper
hinge. Then he took up his torch and went his way; and when the watch
came past after a short space,--five hundred men and more, all
wreathed with posies and singing lustily, making the street light as
day,--the squire was one of these. Will Langland awoke with this
hubbub, and his wife also, and they two came to the window, nor
thought it strange that Calote already stood there looking out.



                            CHAPTER XII

                             Sanctuary


Thrice in June Calote went to the Abbey church, and thrice in July,
but 't was not till August that she saw the squire.

There was High Mass in the choir that day, and she knelt a little way
down the nave, beside a pillar. Immediately without the choir there
was a knight kneeling. He was a most devout person; and near by were
two servants of his. These were all that were in the church at that
time, save and except the monks in their choir stalls, the celebrant
and his acolytes at the altar, and Calote,--until the squire came in.

He looked up and down, and Calote lifted her head, for she knew that
some one was come in by the north door. The knight also lifted his
head, and his two servants half arose from off their knees, as they
were watchful and expectant. But then they all three crossed
themselves and addressed them again to their devotions. The squire
went lightly down the nave to Calote's pillar, and kneeled by Calote's
side; and so, shutting his eyes, he made a short prayer. But presently
he opened his eyes again and turned his head;--the monks were
chanting.

"I am in so close attendance upon the King that I do never go into the
city," he whispered.

"'T is well," answered Calote.

"'T is not well; 't is very ill," said the squire.

"Doth the King forget the wrongs of the poor?" asked Calote.

"Do I forget that thy hair is golden and thine eyes are gray?" the
squire retorted. "Thrice in the week, at the very least, he will have
me come to his bed at night and read thy father's Vision till he
sleeps."

"Alas! and doth he sleep when thou read'st that book?" murmured
Calote.

"Ah, my lady! wherefore wilt thou so evil entreat me?" Stephen
pleaded. "I may not open my lips but thou redest my meaning awry. The
King hath a loving heart and a delicate fancy, but he is over-young.
Thy father's Vision is a sober tale; 't is an old-fashioned music;
haply I read it ill. Natheless, Richard is constant. When he is in a
great rage with his uncles, or the Council, or the Archbishop, and
they require of him what he is loth to perform, I do soothe him of his
weeping with the memory of that secret. But of late he groweth
impatient; there be stirrings in him of manhood; he is taller than
thou, albeit not yet thirteen. He demandeth to know when the people is
to rise up. He saith, 'Seek out thy bien-aimée and bid her tell the
people I am weary with waiting; I want to be a king,--for I am a
king.' Last month he spake to me very lovingly of Walworth and Brembre
and sundry others, merchants of London, that come often to the palace.
'I will be friend with merchants,' he saith; 'thy Calote spake truth,
they are more loving than mine uncles.'"

"But the merchants be not the poor!" said Calote. "Oh, tell me true,
hath he revealed aught to these rich merchants?"

"Nay, I trow not," Stephen answered. "But how may Richard know aught
of the poor, save and except beggars? How may I know, that live in the
palace and see the might and wit of nobles? How may I know that this
Rising will ever be arisen? Ah, Calote, do they play upon thy pity,
these dullard poor? I have seen my father, when I was a little child,
quell a dozen of rebellious villeins with but a flash of his eye. They
dared not do him hurt, though he stood alone. Power is born with the
noble, 't is his heritage."

"Wilt thou leave thy palace folk and come to us, and we 'll learn thee
to believe that the poor he hath virtue also," cried Calote, and was
'ware of her own voice, for the gospeller stood to be censed.

So Stephen and Calote rose up from their knees to hear the
Gospel,--albeit they might hear little at so great distance. And in
the midst of the Gospel the north door went wide, and a great company
of men, armed, stood on the threshold as they were loth to enter. The
knight, which was also standing, for he was very devout, turned to
look on these men, and immediately, as it were in despite of his own
will, he drew his sword; and then he made two running steps to the
choir.

Dogs will rest uncertain and look on the quarry if it stand, but if it
turn to flee they are upon it. So now, when the knight ran up into the
choir like the hunted man he was, all they at the door forgot their
unwillingness to enter, and came on pell-mell.

"Sanctuary! Sanctuary!" cried the knight.

"In the name of the King!" cried the armed men, and some ran to the
cloister door and others to the west door, and spread themselves about
so that there was no chance to escape, and others went up into the
choir after the knight.

There was a great tumult, with screaming of monks, and bits of Latin
prayer, and stout English curses,--and "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!" and "In
the King's name!" The servants of the knight ran before and after him
and got in the way of his pursuers, which once laid hands on him but
he beat them back with his sword. Round the choir they went, tripping
over monks and over each other. The gospeller fell down on his knees,
and the acolyte that held the candles to read by dashed them down and
fled away. Round the choir they went twice. "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!"

"O God!" cried Calote; "O God!--what is this they do in the King's
name?"

Then she saw how one stabbed the knight, and all those others crowded
to that spot where he lay. They panted, and hung over his dead body
like fierce dogs. Then they laid hold on it by the legs and dragged it
bleeding down the aisle, and so cast it out at the door.

Stephen took Calote by the wrist and led her forth. She was shaking.

"In the King's name!" she said; "O Christ!"

By the altar there was another dead body, a monk, and other monks
knelt beside, wringing their hands and wailing.

Stephen pushed through the gaping crowd at the door, past the dead
knight, and would have led Calote away into the fields, but she
said:--

"Let be! I will go home. I am very sick."

"'T was not the King's fault; be sure of that!" cried Stephen. "They
do so many wicked things in his name. He is but a weakling child."

"It is time the people arose!" answered Calote. "Ah, how helpless am
I, and thou, and the little King! How helpless is this country of
England, where men slay each other before God's altar!"

"'T is John of Gaunt's doing," said Stephen. "'T was concerning a
Spanish hostage that was in the hands of this knight and another, and
the King's Council said they would take the hostage, for that they
might claim the ransom; but the knights hid him and would not say
where he was hid."

"O Covetise!" sobbed Calote. "Of what avail that my father called thee
to repent in his Vision! All prophecies is lies. 'T is a wicked world,
without love. All men hate one another, and I would I were dead."

"Nay, nay!" Stephen protested. "I love!--I 'll prove my love!"

"Thou canst not. Thou art bound to the King,--and the King is in
durance to the covetous nobles. King and people is in the same
straits, browbeat both alike."

But here they were 'ware of a man that watched them, and when he came
nigh 't was Jack Straw.

"So, mistress! Wert thou in the church?" he asked.

"'T is a friend of my father's," said Calote to Stephen. "I will go
into the city with him. Fare thee well!"

"I 'll go also," Stephen made answer; but she would not have it so.

"Thy place is with the King," she said. "Go learn him of this new sin;
how men defile churches in his name!"

And to Jack Straw, on the homeward way, she would say nothing but:--

"Prate to me not of thy plot, and thy Rising! I 've no faith in thee,
nor any man. The people is afraid to rise; all 's words. O me, alas!
'T is now a year, and am I gone on pilgrimage to rouse the people? Do
not the great lords slay and steal as they have ever done? Do not the
people starve? Ye are afeared to rise up; afeared of the Duke and his
retainers. Poor men are cowards."

"I would have sent thee forth six months agone," said Jack Straw,
soothing her; "but Wat would not. Patience, mistress!"

And a month after, Jack Straw came to Calote and told her the time was
nigh.

"The Parliament meets in Gloucester next month," he said; "for that
the quarrel 'twixt the King and the monks of Westminster is not yet
healed, and the church is not re-consecrate since the sacrilege.--Now
the people will see the King as he goeth on his progress to
Gloucester, and this is well. They will see his face and know him in
many shires and hundreds. Their hearts will be warmed to him. Do thou
follow and get thy token from him, and they 'll believe thee the more
readily that thou art seen about Gloucester and those villages in that
same time. But have a care not to speak thy message till Parliament is
dissolved and the knights returned home; only do thou be seen here and
there."

"When do I go?" asked Calote, trembling.

"I have a friend, a peddler and his wife, that go about in a little
cart. They 'll be like to follow in the tail of the King's retinue,
for the better protection. Meanwhile, an thou 'rt wise, thou wilt not
mingle lightly with the King's household; but with the peasants in the
villages 't is another matter."

"Yea, I know," she answered.

"That gay sprig--that squire"--began Jack Straw.

"Hold thy peace!" said Calote. "But for him, how had I come at the
King?"

And Jack Straw shut his lips and gulped down his jealousy, but it left
a bitter smart in his throat.



                           CHAPTER XIII

                         The Man O' Words


One night, when Long Will was gone forth to copy a writ of law for a
city merchant, Calote sat up to wait for him in the moonlight by their
door that opened on the lane. Calote and her father had not spoke
together of her pilgrimage since that night, now more than a year
past, when Long Will was so wroth with Jack Straw. Nevertheless, each
one knew that the other had not forgotten. But now the time was short;
there must be unlocking of tongues.

Calote braided her hair in a tress, unbound it, braided it anew, the
while she waited and pondered the words that she would speak. In the
lane something grunted and thrust a wet snout against her bare foot;
one of Dame Emma's pigs had strayed. It was a little pig; Calote took
it up in her arms and bore it through the dark room and out on
Cornhill. The tavern door was shut, but there was a noise of singing
within, and Dame Emma came at the knock.

Hobbe Smith sat in the chimney trolling a loud song, and two or three
more men sprawled on a bench by the wall, a-chaunting "Hey, lolly,
lolly," out of time and out of tune. One of these, that was most
drunk, came running foolishly so soon as he saw Calote, and made as to
snatch a kiss, but Dame Emma thrust piggie in his face; and when
Calote turned about at her own door, breathless, she saw where Hobbe
had the silly fellow on the floor and knelt upon his belly, and
crammed the pig's snout into his mouth; and Dame Emma beat Hobbe over
the noddle with a pint-pot, for that he choked her squealing pig.
Calote bethought her, sorrowful, that there would be no Dame Emma and
kindly Hobbe to take up her quarrel in other taverns. So she went back
to the braiding of her hair until her father came in.

Then she said:--

"Father,--they do affirm 't is full time for me to begone on the
King's errand. Thou wilt not say me nay? Thou wilt bless me?"

He sat down on the doorstone and took her in his arm. He was smiling.

"Sweet, my daughter; and dost thou truly think that this puissant
realm of England shall be turned up-so-down and made new by a plotting
of young children and rustics?"

"Wherefore no, if God will?"

"Nay, I 'll not believe that God hath so great spite against us
English," he made answer, whimsical.

"But the Vision, father? If thy ploughman be no rustic, what then is
he?"

"I fell eft-soon asleep," quoth Long Will,--

                         "'and suddenly me saw,
     That Piers the Ploughman was painted all bloody,
     And come in with a cross before the common people,
     And right like, in all limbs, to our Lord Jesus;
     And then called I Conscience to tell me the truth.
     "Is this Jesus the Jouster?" quoth I, "that Jews did to death,
     Or is it Piers the Ploughman?--Who painted him so red?"
     Quoth Conscience, and kneeled then, "These are Piers arms,
     His colours and his coat-armour, and he that cometh so bloody
     Is Christ with his Cross, conqueror of Christians."'"

"Who is 't, then, we wait for?" Calote cried. "Is it Christ, or is it
Piers? O me, but I 'm sore bewildered! An' if 't were Christ, yet may
not Piers do his devoir? Do all we sit idle with folded hands because
Christ cometh not? Surely, 't were better He find us busy, a-striving
our weak way to come into His Kingdom! What though we may not 'do
best,' yet may we do well."

"Yea, do well," her father answered. "But now tell me, dost believe
Jack Straw and Wat seek Truth,--or their own glory?"

"How can I tell?" she asked. "But for myself, I do know that I seek
Truth. To gain mine own glory, were 't not easy to go another way
about? May not I wear jewelled raiment and be called Madame? But I
will not. And Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, they believe that they are
seekers of Truth."

"Thou wilt not trust thy little body in the hand of Jack Straw, my
daughter; and yet wilt thou give up all this thine England into his
clutch?"

"'T is the King shall rule England," she faltered.

"And who shall rule the King?"

"Is 't not true, that the ploughman shall counsel the King? There be
honest ploughmen."

"Peter of Devon is an honest man," assented Langland; "he cannot read
nor write, almost he cannot speak. Wilt thou give over the kingdom
into his keeping?"

"Wilt not thou?" she said; and her father made no answer.

Suddenly she arose and stood before him, and laid her two hands on his
shoulders as he sat on the doorstone.

"'T is well enough to say, 'Wait!' 'T is well enough to say, 'Not this
ploughman,--Not this King,--Not thou,--Nor I.' 'T is well enough to
say, 'Not to-day!' But a man might do so forever, and all the world go
to wreck."

"Not if I believe in God,--and Christ the King's Son of heaven."

"And is this the end of all trusting in God, that a man shall fold his
hands and do nothing?"

He winced, and she had flung her arms about his neck, and pressed her
cheek to his, and she was sobbing; he tasted the salt of her tears
against his lips.

"Father, forgive me! Say thou dost forgive me!--But all my little
lifetime thou hast laboured on this poem--when I was a babe I learned
to speak by the sound of thy voice a-murmuring the Vision. All the
light o' learning I have to light me to Godward and to my fellows, I
got it from the Vision. All the fire o' love I have in my heart was
kindled at its flame;--yea--for all other love I quench with my tears;
I will not let no other love burn. And now, when the fire is kindled
past smothering, and the light burns ever so bright, thou dost turn
the Vision against itself, for to confound all them that have believed
on thy word. Wilt thou light a light but to snuff it back to darkness?
Wilt thou kindle a fire but to choke us with smoke? 'T is now too
late. Haply 't is thy part to sit still and sing; but I--I cannot
sing, and I cannot sit still. I am not so wise as thou, nor so
patient. Is 't kind to 'wilder me with thy wisdom, my father? Is 't
wise to cover me with a pall of patience, if I must needs die to lie
quiet?"

"An I give thee leave, what is 't thou 'lt do?" he asked her, in a
level, weary voice.

"I 'll follow the King to Gloucester, and there have speech of him and
a token. After, I 'll bid the people to know the King loveth
them,--and they are to come up to London to a great uprising, what
time John Ball, and Wat, and Jack Straw shall give sign. Then there
shall be no more poor and rich; but all men shall love one another,
the knight and the cook's knave, the King and the ploughman. Much more
I 'll say, out of the Vision; and of fellowship, such as John Ball
preacheth."

"The clergy clap John Ball into prison for such words, whensoever they
may."

"And for this reason is it better that I should be about when he may
not; for what am I but a maiden? Clergy will not take keep of me. I 'm
not afeared of no harm that may befal me;--though haply--harm may."

"Knoweth that young squire aught of this journey?"

"Nay, father."

"Hast thou bethought thee of what folk will say if thou go to
Gloucester in the tail of the court? There be many on Cornhill have
seen that youth; they know whence he is.--If thou go, and come not
again for many months?"

He felt her cheek grow hot against his own, and then she drew away
from him and looked in his eyes piteously:--

"Dost thou not believe I must do that Conscience telleth me is right,
father?"

"Yea."

"Then wherefore wilt thou seek to turn me from well-doing?"

"Thou art my daughter," he answered gravely; "small wonder if I would
shield thee from dangers and evil-report. Shall I not be blamed of all
men, and rightly, if I let thee go o' this wild-goose chase?"

"All thy life I have never known thee give a weigh of Essex cheese for
any man's praise or blame."

"'T is very true!" he assented in moody fashion; and sat still with
his head bent.

After a little she touched him, and "Thou 'lt bless me, father?" she
said.

"To Gloucester, sayst thou?" he questioned absently; and then, "That
's nigh to Malvern Priory, and the Hills,--the Malvern Hills."

She had sat down below him on the ground and laid her chin upon his
knee, and so she waited with her eyes upon his face.

"My old master that learned me to read and to write, and unloosed the
singing tongue of me, dwelleth in Malvern Priory. He said, if ever I
had a golden-haired daughter--Well, thou shalt take a copy of the
Vision to him, Calote. Give it to the porter at the gate,--and bide.
Thy mother shall say round and about Cornhill that thou art gone to
mine old home, to take the Vision to the old master. He is called
Brother Owyn."

"Father, father!" she cried, "I am filled full of myself, and mine own
desire. Wherefore dost thou not beat me and lock me behind doors,--so
other fathers would do?"

He smiled wistfully, and kissed her: "So! now thou hast thy will, thou
'lt play penitent. Nay,--hush thee, hush thee, my sweet! 'T is time
for laughter now, and joyousness. Thou 'rt going forth to learn all
men to love one another. Be comforted; dry thy tears!"

"I am a very wicked wight!" she sobbed. "I will not leave thee."

"Thou art aweary, my dear one, the dawn cometh. Go thou to rest, and
the morrow all will be bright. When dost thou set forth o' this
pilgrimage?"

"On the morrow!" she whispered; and then with more tears, "But I will
not go, father,--forgive me!"

He gathered her into his arms and carried her through the weeds and up
the wooden stair to the door of the gabled room.

"Go in," he said, "and sleep! There are yet a fifty lines lacking to
the copy of the Vision that thou wilt take with thee; I must write
them in."

But when he was come back to the long dark room, he lit no rush for an
hour or more; instead, he paced back and forth, talking with
himself:--

"Pity me, God! I am a weak man!--I did never no deeds but them I
thought not to do;--never, all my life long! Count my deeds, O
God,--they are so few,--and all of them have I condemned afore in
other men. Now, I let my daughter go forth on a fool's errand, and in
a child's plot that must fail; mayhap she will meet worse than death
on the road; but I give her my blessing. Jesu,--Mary,--guard this my
daughter that I have so weakly put forth upon the world! How may a man
dare say nay to his child, if she be a better man than he,--an actyf
man, a doer o' deeds? How may a man dare forbid any soul to follow
Conscience? Good Jesu, I am but a jongleur,--a teller o' tales,--I am
afeared o' deeds. I see them on so many sides that I dare move nor
hand nor foot. And if I do, I trip. Best never be doing.--If a man
might be all words, and no deeds!"



                              PART II

                          The Pilgrimage

    "And I shall apparaille me in pilgrimes wise,
     And wende with yow I wil til we fynde Treuthe."

                               _The Vision Concerning Piers Plowman._
                                             B. PASSUS V.



                             CHAPTER I

                         In the Cloisters


King Richard stretched himself and yawned, took off his velvet bonnet
and thrust his fingers through his long light-brown hair, rubbed his
left leg, and looked on his favourite squire with a smile
half-quizzical, half-ashamed.

They two stood in the cloisters of the Abbey at Gloucester, in that
part of the cloisters that was not yet finished. The workmen carving
the fan-tracery--that Abbey's proud boast and new invention--looked
aside from their blocks of stone to the young King, then bent their
heads and went on chinking. From somewhere about came a kind of
clamorous noise that was the Commons still sitting in the Chapter
House,--though 't was past dinner time. John of Gaunt strode laughing
down the cloisters by the side of a gray-beard Oxford priest who
carried a parchment in his hand, and they went together into the
church. Lord Richard Scrope, the new-appointed chancellor, stood out
in the middle of the cloister garth, under the noon sun, and Master
Walworth and Philpot and other merchants of London with him, their
heads together, their speech now buzzing low, now lifted in protest,
now settling to a chuckle.

Richard whacked his leg smartly and stiffened it.

"My foot 's asleep," said he. "'T is a most deep-seated chair. An I
must listen many more days to mine uncle's long-winded friend from
Oxenford, thou wert best get me a fatter cushion. My legs do dangle
out of all dignity."

"'T shall be found to-morrow, sire!" Etienne answered.

"Nay, not to-morrow, mon ami; to-morrow I go a-hunting, and the next
day, and the next, if I will."

"A-hunting!" exclaimed Etienne; "but Parliament sits."

"Saint Mary!" cried Richard; "and who should know this better than I?
Sits!--One while methought I 'd sent forth rootlets and must go
through life a-sitting. Almost I 'll welcome old days, and Sir Simon
Burley's stinging birch, to start me out of my numbness."

A stone-cutter laughed, and checked him short in his laughter; whereat
Richard smiled in the frank fashion that made the common folk his
friends, and went and looked over the man's shoulder.

"What a pretty tracery is this, pardé," he said presently. "Why do we
not make a roof like to it at Westminster?"

Etienne lifted his eyebrows; "Westminster?" he asked.

And Richard coloured and bit his lip, saying, "True,--I had forgot
Westminster is not good friends with us. 'T was all mine uncle's
doing," he continued angrily. "Lord knows, I 've fallen asleep or ever
I 've done my prayers, each night since the poor wretch was slain. I
've prayed him out of Purgatory ten times over, and paid for Masses.
Dost thou not mind thee, Etienne, how I wept that day the murder was
done, and would have stripped me body-naked to be whipped for 't in
penance; but my confessor said was no need? Natheless, John Wyclif is
a wily cleric. Dost mark how he ever passeth over the murder, soft,
yet standeth on our right to make arrest in the church? For mine own
part I do believe he is in the right; for wherefore is a king a king,
if he may not do as him list, but is bound by time and place?"

"Yea, sire!" said Etienne absently; he was looking across, through the
open door into the church. In the dim distance there he saw a little
kneeling figure, and a gleam of golden braided hair. Almost he thought
it was Calote, and his heart leaped; but he remembered that this could
not be if Calote were in London. There were other golden-haired maids
in England.

"Yet do I not like his doctrine," the King mused. "For why?--the half
on 't I cannot understand. Yesterday I fell asleep, upright,
a-listening to the sound of his Latin. My confessor saith this Wyclif
turneth the Bible into the English tongue for common folk to
read,--and that 's scandal and heresy, to let down God's thoughts into
speech of every day. But Master Wyclif's own thoughts be not God's, if
all is true the Church teacheth, and I 'd liever listen to him in
English.--or better, in French. Etienne, I go a-hunting, I 'm aweary
of Latin, and Sanctuary, and all this cry of the Commons concerning
expense. How is 't my fault if mine uncles and Sudbury and the council
be spendthrifts? By Saint Thomas of Kent, I 'll stop this French war
when I 'm a man. Yea, and I 'll stop the mouth of Parliament that
talks me asleep."

The workmen glanced at one another and grinned. Etienne made a step to
the church door; the maid within had risen up off her knees and now
crossed herself and went away down the nave.

"Sire!" cried Etienne sharply; "methought I saw--Calote."

One of the workmen looked up at the name, and let his work lie.

"Calote?" said Richard. "Coeur de joie, but she 's in London."

Etienne shook his head and peered into the dimness of the church, but
the maid was gone.

"Ay, me," sighed Richard wistfully, "I would thou didst love thy King
but the half as well as thou lovest this peasant maid."

"Beau sire," said Etienne, kneeling, "I am thy loyal servant. Trust
me, my heart plays no tricks."

"Chéri," then smiled the King, and laid his hand on Etienne's
shoulder, "my head aches. Let us to my chamber and thou shalt sing me
a little song, and I 'll sleep. We have not spoke of Calote these
three weeks. Come, tell me a tale and be merry. To-morrow we 'll ride
up to the forest at Malvern, and hunt there the next day; the prior
yonder is a courteous gentleman, writes in French, and prays me
partake of his hospitality. After All Hallows we 'll come back and
hear the end of these great matters. I 'll pray mine uncle; I 'll fret
and fume. I 'll go, will he nil be. Come let 's say a prayer in church
beside my great-grandfather's tomb. Give you good-day, good fellows,"
he said to the workmen, and went away hanging upon his squire's arm.

"There 's a king!" said one of the stone-cutters. "His father's own
son!"

"Sayst thou so?" grumbled another. "Didst mark how he would stop the
mouth o' Parliament when he 's a man?"

"Pish!--'t was a jest turned in weariness," a third made excuse; "a
child's jest. For mine own part, I 'm none so fond o' Parliament with
its throngings, and setting a town topsy-turvy, and forever getting
under a man's feet when he 's at his stone work peaceable."

"They say his mother's done her best to spoil him. I 've heard tell
she was a light woman."

"Natheless, I 'd liever have him than another. He has a merry smile. I
could have took him o' my knee and kissed him and rubbed his sleepy
foot,--but I minded me he was a king."

"And well for thee."

"Now I wonder," said the workman who had lifted his head at mention of
Calote,--"now I wonder what the young squire meant by those words he
said? There 's a maid biding in my cot; her name 's Calote. She can
sing the Vision concerning Piers Ploughman better than any teller o'
tales ever I heard. 'T was her own father writ it. One Jack Straw sent
her my way. She goeth afoot to Malvern to-day, to give her father's
greeting to a monk at the Priory."

"Jack Straw? Him that spake of the people's wrongs and these evil
taxings, at Tavern in January past?"

"Yea."

"Will such-like a maid be known to so fine a gentleman as yon squire?"

"Haply not. Yet I 'll swear by Saint Christopher 't was her I saw in
the church when he looked through the door."

"Eh, well,--the little King 's a good fellow, say I," quoth the man
that had first spoken, and added, "So is Jack Straw."

Whereupon there fell silence upon all of them, and only the clinking
of hammer against stone was heard till the Commons came out of the
Chapter House with a great clatter.



                            CHAPTER II

                         In Malvern Chase


The porter at the gate of Malvern Priory was a very old man, but he
had good eyes, and he knew a pretty thing when he saw it.

"Thou wilt speak with Brother Owyn, wilt thou?" he said to Calote in
his toothless voice. "By my troth, I 'll have thee to know, hussy,
that this is no household of gadding friars, but a sober and
well-conducted priory. Our monks do not come and go at the bidding of
wenches."

"Good brother, I come not of myself," said Calote, "I am sent a
message of my father."

"And thy father, I make no doubt, is the Father of Lies,--Christ give
him sorrow!"

"My father was put to school one while in Malvern Priory," answered
Calote. "Brother Owyn was his master and loved him well."

"Sayst thou so?" the porter retorted, yet with something of curiosity
awaking within his bright eyes. "Is no lad hath gone in and out this
gate in forty year, but hath one day or other tasted my rod for a
truant. How do they call thy father?"

"In London men call him Long Will, and Will Langland 's his name."

The porter opened wide his mouth, and, "By Goddes Soul!" quoth he,
"Will Langland!--Let me look on thee,"--albeit he had done naught but
look on her for ten minutes past. "Yea, 't is true; I 'd know thee by
thine eyen, that are gray, and thoughtful, and dark with a something
that lies behind the colour of them,--and shining by the light of a
lamp lit somewhere within.--So! Will Langland hath got him a wench! 'T
is a hard nut to crack. Moreover, eyen may be gray as glass, and yet
speak lies. What for a token hast thou that thou 'rt true messenger?"

"I have a poem," she answered.

"Let 's see it."

"Nay, 't is for Brother Owyn."

"And how shall Brother Owyn have it, if not by me?" rejoined the
porter testily.

"Wilt thou get me speech of him if I show it thee?" asked Calote.

"Shall a lay-brother of Malvern stoop to play handy-dandy for
favours?" said the porter, casting up his chin in a way feebly to
imitate his prior; yet his curiosity overcame his pride and he added:
"Do thou show me first the poem. After, I 'll think on 't."

Whereupon Calote drew forth the parchment from her breast, and he
unrolled it and spread it upon his knee, and "H-m-m, h-m-m!" said he.
But he could not read a word, being no scholar.

"Find me a pretty passage," he bade her presently, "and say it me, the
while I follow with my finger."

So she began;--and neither one of them knew the place in the
parchment:--

   "'Right so, if thou be religious run thou never further
     To Rome, nor to Rochemadour, but as thy rule teacheth,
     And hold thee under obedience, that highway is to heaven.'"

"Tut chut! Thou 'rt a bold wench! Wilt teach thy grandmother to suck
eggs?" cried the porter.

Calote laughed, but began anew:--

   "'Grace ne groweth not but amongst the low;
     Patience and poverty is the place where it groweth,
     And in loyal-living men, and life-holy,
     And through the gift of the Holy Ghost as the gospel telleth'"--

"Lord, Lord, enough!" cried the porter. "'T is very true that never
none but Will Langland writ such-like twaddle."

"But thou wilt bid Brother Owyn to the gate?" said Calote, rolling up
her parchment.

"How may I bid him to the gate when he 's gone forth yonder in the
Chase with hook and line and missal to catch fish for supper?"

"Ah! good brother, gramerci," laughed Calote.

"Then kiss me," said he. "Nay, what harm? An old man that might be thy
father twice over!"

But she shook her head and sprang swiftly from him.

"I 've a long journey afore me," she said, "and if I kiss every man
that doeth me service, there 'll be no kisses left for my True Love."

So she ran away among the trees, and the old man went into the
gate-house and sat chuckling.

All about Malvern Priory was forest, and a part of this was the King's
Chase. The woodland climbed the hill part way, thinning as it climbed.

   "'I was weary with wandering and went me to rest
     Under a broad bank by a burn's side.'"

hummed Calote as she went upward. "Belike he 's there catching his
fish."

The day was mild; Saint Martin's summer was at hand; all around trees
were yellowing, leaves were dropping. The little haze that is ever
among the Malverns dimmed the vistas betwixt the tree-trunks to
faintest blue. The voices of the hunt floated upward from the level
stretch of forest in the plain,--bellowing of dogs, a horn, a distant
shouting.

"Please God I may not meet the King, nor Stephen," said Calote. "They
do say he came hither last night to hunt."

Even as she spoke, a roe fled across her path, and immediately after,
two huntsmen came riding.

"Which way went the--Coeur de joie!" cried a boy's voice.

The other huntsman sat dumb upon his horse. Calote, rosy red, her lips
a-quiver, stood with her hands crossed on her breast, that frighted
but yet steadfast way she had. Then:--

"Light down, Etienne, thou laggard lover! 'T is thy true love hath
followed thee from London town these many miles," laughed Richard, and
flung himself off his horse.

"Oh, me, harrow, weyl a way!" said Calote, covering up her face. "'T is
not true! I am not so unmaidenly; my heart is full of other matter
than light love." She turned to Stephen, who was also lighted off his
horse, and "Dost thou believe I followed for love of thee?" she cried.

"Alas and alack!--but I would it were so!" answered Stephen.

"Yet thou didst follow," said the King. "Wherefore?"

She turned her eyes away from Stephen and looked on Richard, and as
she looked she sank down on her knees before him.

"Thou art the King!" she gasped, "and I knew thee not!"

In very truth, here was not the little lad she had known. The grace of
childhood was gone from Richard. Some of the mystery had gone out of
his eyes, though they were yet, and would ever be, thoughtful; all of
the shyness had gone out of his manner, albeit none of the courtesy.
He was well used to being a king; he was already, at thirteen years of
age or thereabout, the most of a gentleman in his very foppish and
gentleman-like court. Calote had sat still in the window-seat that
time he came to the crown by his grandfather's death, but to-day,
before she knew wherefore, she was on her knees. Then only were her
eyes opened, and she knew that this was the King.

He looked upon her friendly-wise, half-laughing. Kingship and
comradeship were ever a-wrestle in Richard's heart to the end of the
chapter. He liked to be a king, none better; he kept his state as
never king kept it before in England,--as few have kept it since. But
also, he loved to be loved, not from afar and awesomely as subjects
love, but in the true human fashion that holds betwixt friends,
betwixt kindly master and friendly servant.

Now, he put out his hand to Calote and lifted her up, and when they
stood face to face, his eyes were a-level with hers, so big was
he;--or haply she so small.

"I am grown tall; is 't not so?" he said. "Very soon I shall be tall
as Etienne. No wonder thou didst not know me. But now, see thou tell
me true wherefore thou art so suddenly come to Malvern, and I 'll
forgive thy forgetting. Nay,--not on thy knees again."

"Sire, hast thou forgot that I told thee--of a plot? And whether thou
wouldst be King of all the people of England, or only puppet to the
nobles?"

"I am not so good at forgetting as thou," he made reply, and she could
not but marvel to hear him so froward of speech. She was aware that
this was no little child, but a boy that had listened, perforce, a
year and more, to the counsels of grown men, some of them wise, all of
them shrewd.

"This plot moveth on," she continued, taking up her tale. "There is
forming, and shall be formed, a great society of men over all England.
I, and others, we go out across the land, one here, one there, north,
south, east, and west, to bind the people into brotherhood. And it is
my task to tell the people that the King is one of this
brotherhood,--if so be 't is true."--She paused, but Richard did not
speak, so she went on: "It is my task to tell the people that the King
approveth this gathering together of the people. And, when the time
cometh, he will stand forth and be their leader,--against those that
oppress them. If so be 't is true."

"And the people want?"--

"Freedom, sire! Not to be a part of the land, like stocks and stones
and dumb cattle. Not to be villeins any longer, but freed men, with
leave to come and go of their own will."

"But noblesse,--villeinage,--these are fixed,--may not be overthrown."

"Not by the King?" asked Calote.

Richard looked on her uncertain, then his face flushed and he struck
his long-bow vehement into the earth:--

"The King may do what he will!" he cried; "else wherefore is he King?
Tell me, will they aid me to put down mine uncle, John of Gaunt, and
all these that tie my hands, and the Council that now is the verray
governor of this realm? Will they do all these things for me, if I
make them free men?"

"This and more than this, sire!" Calote exclaimed; "For they 'll build
up a kingdom whereof the foundation is love, and the law will be not
to take away by tax, but to see that every man hath enough."

"Shall it be soon?" asked Richard.

"That I cannot tell. The realm of England is a wide realm, not easy to
traverse."

Richard turned hesitating to his squire: "I would it were wise, this
that the maid telleth. In vérité, is 't so? What dost say, Etienne?
I--I fear mine uncle and Sudbury would laugh."

"I say, 't is a wicked and evil counsel that sendeth forth a young
maid to encounter perils. No love ruleth the hearts of them that send
her."

"Art thou my true lover, in good sooth?" cried Calote, "and would undo
that I have most at heart?"

"Moreover, 't is beside my question," Richard added fretfully. "I
would know but only if an uprising, like to this Calote stirreth, is
of power to succeed against nobilité?"

"I am no prophet, sire."

"Thou thinkest not of thy King, neither of his kingdom, but of thine
own self only," said Richard, in the sulks, driving an arrow
spear-fashion into the earth and wrenching it forth with a jerk that
snapped the shaft.

"I think of her," Etienne answered him sadly.

"There is more kinds of love than one," Calote protested. "Is there
not a love for the whole people that is as worthy as the love for one
woman? Yea, and more worthy, for 't is Christ's fashion of loving.
What matter if I lose my life, if so be the people is free?"

Richard kindled to her words. "So must the King love!" he cried. "Fie,
for shame, Etienne! But only yesternight thou wert persuading me how
honourable 't is when a man lose his life for the world's sake and
Christ Jesu--as crusaders and such."

"And what is this I preach, but a crusade," demanded Calote, "to free
the people?"

"A crusade?" the King questioned. Then his face came all alight. "A
crusade!--And when the preaching 's done I 'll be the leader of the
crusade.--And I 'll make all England my Holy Land!"--For if Richard
had not been a king, he might have been a poet.

"Now praise be to Christ and Mary Mother!" said Calote joyously. "And
what for a token dost give me, sire, that the people may know me a
true messenger?"

"A token, pardé!" and he looked him up and down hastily. He had on a
green jerkin all embroidered over with R's entwined in a pattern of
gold threads, and buttoned with little bells of gold. His one leg was
scarlet, his other was green. About his neck, at the end of a long
jewelled chain, hung a little hunting-horn of silver, with his badge
of the white hart graven upon it and set round with pearls.

"Take this!" he said, and flung the chain over her head.

"By God's will, I 'll call the King's ményé to him with this horn,"
quoth Calote, a-kissing it.

The King laughed merrily then, and went and cast himself upon his
squire's neck:--

"Etienne, chéri, mignon,--be not so glum! When Richard is King in the
Kingdom of Love, not Dan Cupid's self shall dare to cross thy suit to
thy lady. Thou shalt be married to Calote, and I 'll make thee chief
counsellor. I 'll take mine Uncle John's land and richesse in forfeit
and give them to thee."

"Ah, no, no!" Calote exclaimed.

"But I will if I 'm King?" said Richard.

And then did Stephen laugh.

"Now wherefore so merry?" Richard asked, eyeing him in discontent.

"Beau sire, you bade me be merry," Stephen made answer, and to Calote
he said "When dost thou start a-preaching, and whither?"

"When Parliament is departed,--I go about in the villages to the south
and west of Gloucester. Meanwhile, I 'll lodge with a kindly
forester's wife in Malvern here. But now I must away to find an old
monk, my father's schoolmaster. My father was put to school in Malvern
Priory."

"Why, 't is very true!" cried the King. "The Vision maketh a beginning
in the Malvern Hills."

"I bring the Vision to this monk; and he 's a-fishing hereabout in
the Chase, the porter saith. Saw ye a burn as ye came hither?"

"Yea, verily!" Richard answered her. "We crossed it but fifty paces
back, and 't was there the dogs went off the scent and back to the
pack and the other folk, in the lower chase. Hark to them now! We 've
lost the hunt; let us go with the maid, Etienne. If her father's
schoolmaster is the same that sat at my side yestere'en and told me
tales, he 'll wile an hour right prettily for us. He said Dan Chaucer,
our Chaucer, came hither a little lad years agone, afore mine Uncle
Lionel died. I 'd rather fish than hunt. Leave Robert de Vere and my
brother John Holland to slay the deer."

So they went through the wood leading their jennets; and Calote, with
the King's horn about her neck, walked by the King's side.



                            CHAPTER III

                         By a Burn's Side


Brother Owyn gazed dreamily into the flashing waters of the burn. His
fish-basket was empty; twice he had lost his bait. But if the hunger
and thirst of a man be in his soul, 't is little he recks if he have
not fish for supper. Forty years past, when Brother Owyn was a young
man, he had fled into the Church in the hope to escape the world. But
he learned that monastery gates are as gossamer; and the world, the
flesh, and the devil, all three, caper in cloister. To-day he was in
disgrace with his prior--not the old dull prior, but a newer, narrower
man--for defending the doctrine and opinions of Master John Wyclif,
concerning sanctuary, and the possession of property, and the wrong
that it is for prelates to hold secular office.

"Dost thou defend a devil's wight that is under ban of Holy Church,"
quoth the prior, "and yet call thyself a servant to God and the Pope?"

"Which Pope?" saith Brother Owyn; for at this time there were two
popes in Christendom, the one at Avignon and the other at Rome, and
they were very busy cursing each other.

"Such levity in one of thy years is unseemly, brother," the prior made
answer, and turned his back.

Nevertheless, Brother Owyn was sore perplexed. Having that vision of
the Holy City ever before his eyes, and his daughter awaiting him on
the other side of the River of Death, he was altogether minded to keep
him from heresy. He began to be an old man now; haply the time was
short till he might enter into that other Kingdom. Was Master John
Wyclif the Devil, who taketh the word out of the mouth of Dame Truth?
Yet a many of those men, even his enemies who reviled him for his
doctrine, revered him for a holy man and a scholar. Some said there
was not so great a man in England, nor so good, as John Wyclif. Here,
then, was the old perplexity, to know what was truth. But Brother Owyn
erred in that he thought to save his soul alive by flight.

"Malvern coveteth a hermit," he mused; "but if I go apart, and sleep
in a cave, and never wash me, nor cut my beard, straightway there 'll
be a flocking of great folk to look on me, and to question me of their
wives' honour, and of the likelihood of these French wars, for that I
'm a holy man. Alack, my Margaret, my Pearl, now lead me out of this
quandary away into a quiet place to pray, for John Wyclif's word
draweth. Soon I 'll be a heretic and accursed."

Hereupon Brother Owyn lifted up his eyes, and suddenly cried out
aloud; for, on the other side of the burn, there stood a golden-haired
maid.

"Ho! thou hast lost a fine fish, see him!--gone!" cried a merry
voice, and the boy that was the King of England came a-leaping and
laughing from stone to stone across the sun-flecked water. After
him tiptoed the maid, but the squire with the two horses bode on
the farther side.

"Nay, climb not to thy feet, good brother," said the King. "Thy fright
hath shaken thee; in sooth, we meant it not."

"My lord, my lord," murmured Brother Owyn, and there were tears in his
eyes; "methought 't was my young daughter come to take me home,--home
where a man sinneth no more, and the walls of the city are jasper, and
the gates are twelve pearls." He covered his face with his hands, and
the tears trickled down his beard.

Richard knelt beside him and put his arm about the bent shoulders:
"Oh, but I 'm sorry!" he said distressfully. "Don't weep! prythee,
don't weep!"

"If I be not thy daughter, yet my father was as a son to thee," Calote
assured him, kneeling at his other side. "'T was thou taught him to
sing, and to-day he 's sent his song to thee."

Brother Owyn had lifted up his face to look on her, and now he touched
her bright hair, soft, with his finger, and "Will Langland's voice was
wonderly sweet," said he, "and low. 'T is nigh on thirty years since
he went out from Malvern, but his was not a voice to be forgot. His
daughter, thou?--He ever did the thing he had not meant to do." He
looked on her with a curiosity most benevolent, staying his gaze a
long while at her eyes; and:--

"Doth Will Langland sing at court?" he asked.

Calote laughed, her father's image in the threadbare gown flashing
sudden in her mind.

"Nay, he hath not yet; but he shall one day, when Calote cometh again
to London," declared the King. "'T is not so merry a poet as Master
Chaucer; but I do love his solemnité. Whiles he jesteth, but his
tongue 's a whip then,--stingeth."

Brother Owyn nodded his head, as he were hearing an old tale; and
turned him again to Calote:--

"Will Langland went a-seeking Truth, his lady, thirty years past. Hath
he found her?"

"She is here," Calote answered simply; and unrolled the parchment to
set it open before him.

The old man looked on her keenly: "Thou hast a great trust in thy
father?"

"More than in all men else," she said; and the squire on the other
side of the burn thrust his foot among the fallen leaves noisily, and
jingled the bridles of the horses.

"I am in sore straits to find Truth," quoth Brother Owyn, with a
half-smile. "Many a man will thank Will Langland heartily, if so be he
hath found her."

He turned the pages, slow, reading to himself a bit here and there.

"Give me thy rod, brother," said the King, "I 'll fish."

"There 's a-many horns blowing, sire," Stephen warned him from the
other side of the burn. "No doubt they seek thee and are troubled."

"Coeur de joie! Let them seek!" replied Richard. "'T will give them
a merry half-hour to think I 'm come to hurt, or slain. Then would
there be one less step to the throne for mine Uncle Lancaster. Look
not so sourly, Etienne! I 'll catch but one little fish. Hist!--Be
still!"

For a little while there was no voice but the brook's voice, and no
other sound but the slow turning of parchment pages. The monk busied
him with the poem and Richard looked into the water. Meanwhile,
Calote's gaze strayed to the squire and found his eyes awaiting her.
Straightway he plucked his dagger from his belt, flashed it in the sun
that she might see, and kissed it; after, he took it by the point and
held it out, arm's length, as he would give it to her; and so he stood
till she might rede his riddle. Presently, her eyes frowning a
question, she put forth her hand, palm upward, uncertain. The squire
smiled and nodded, and because their two hands might not meet across
the brook, he thrust the dagger in the trunk of a tree and wedged the
sheath betwixt the bark and the slant of the blade. All this very
silently.

Brother Owyn pursed his lips, or shook his head, or turned the pages
backward to read again. The King wagged his fishing-line up and down
in the water, impatiently. The distant horns blew more frequent.

"My lord," Stephen ventured once again.

Richard got to his feet and threw away the rod. "Eh, well; let 's be
going, since thou wilt have it so," he agreed. "The holiday is over.
On the morrow Gloucester again, and to say whether Urban or Clement is
true Pope."

Brother Owyn's face was grave; rebuke and displeasure trembled in his
voice:--

"My lord, and dost thou think 't is England maketh the Pope?"

Richard was halfway across the burn; he laughed, and looked over his
shoulder:--

"Ma foy, but I 'm very sure 't is not France!" said he.

After, when he was in the saddle, he felt for his horn, and,
remembering, called:--

"Prythee, Calote, blow thrice, that they may know whence I come. Now,
give thee good day, sweet maid, and success to thine adventure.
I 'll watch for thee in London."

And Calote had not blown the third blast when king and squire were off
and away; and she turned to meet Brother Owyn's disapproving eye.

"'T would seem that thou art well acquaint at court, though thy father
is not," he said.

She opened her lips to speak, then hung her head and answered nothing.

"Now, thanks be to Christ Jesus, the Lamb and the Bridegroom, that my
little daughter is dead, and safe away from this world of sin," said
Brother Owyn. "She dwelleth as a Bride in the house of the
Bridegroom,--in the Holy City that John the beloved and I have seen in
a vision. Thou art so fair that I could wish thou mightst dwell
therein likewise."

"Yea, after I 'm dead, and my devoir is done," Calote assented to him.
"Beseech thee, judge me not, good brother! I carry a message of
comfort to all these poor English folk that sweat beneath the burden
of wrong. Haply, thy daughter, were she quick, would go along with me
this day."

"Is this thy message?" he asked, pointing to the parchment.

"This, and more. I may not tell all to thee, for thou 'rt a monk."

"A strange reason," he averred. "'T must be a most unholy message.
Have a care of thy soul, maiden; the pure only shall see the
Bridegroom. Here am I sheltered in monastery, yet have I much ado to
withstand the Devil, that I may keep me clean and a true believer, and
so see Christ and my daughter at the last."

"I cannot forever take keep of mine own soul, brother, when there be
so many other in peril to be thought on. Wilt thou that I hide my head
in monastery and sing plain-song, and watch perpetual at the altar
lest the lamp go out; and, all the while, without the gate, the poor
till the fields that I may have leisure to pray? The poor likewise be
anhungered after truth. They cry, 'Wherefore did God make us to be
starved of the fat prelates!'"

"So did thy father rail in years gone by," answered the monk, "and
Master John Wyclif would have more preaching. But monasteries are
holy; they are ordained of God and the--the Pope. They shall endure."

"Brother, what wilt thou do, thou and thy monastery, when the villeins
all are free, when they need no longer grind at the abbot's mill, nor
plough the abbey's fields, nay, nor even pay quit-rent to rid them of
service?"

"Free!" cried Brother Owyn, "and who shall set them free?"

"Themselves, and Piers Ploughman, and Christ the King's Son of Heaven,
which cureth all ills by love."

The old man drew away from her: "Surely, thou hast a devil," he said.

"Then an thou lov'st me, call it forth," quoth she; and smiled, and
spread her arms wide, waiting.

But he cried, "Woe, woe!" and cast up his hands to heaven; and after,
"Lord, I 'm content my daughter died at two years old."

"Had she lived, she might have saved souls other than her own."

"She hath saved mine, mine most sinful," the monk interrupted her
sternly; "and dost thou think I 'll lose it now to thee? Get thee
gone, with thy strange beliefs and blasphemies!"

She got to her feet very slow, and stepped down the bank to the edge
of the burn; so, standing close at his knee, she spoke once again:--

"In the city where the wall is jasper and the gates are twelve pearls,
will there be any villeins to labour while other men feast?"

Her face was very near to his, her hand was on his arm.

"Nay, but I trow we 'll all be villeins there," he answered gently;
"villeins of one Lord, and bound to the soil; and the streets of that
city are as pure gold." So saying, he made the sign of the cross upon
her brow.

She trod the stepping-stones in silence, but on the other bank she
turned:--

"Natheless, though bond, yet we 'll be free!" she cried; and, catching
up the squire's dagger, was quickly gone.



                            CHAPTER IV

                              A Boon


When Parliament was come to an end in Gloucester, and on the night
before the day that the court set out for London, Stephen craved a
boon of his King.

Richard sat on his bed's edge in his shirt, humming a tune and picking
it out on his lute with:--

"Went it not this way, Etienne?" or "Was 't thus?" or "A plague on 't,
but I 'll have it yet!" And then would he begin again.

The squire was setting forth the morrow's riding-coat and gloves and
furred hood by the light of a cresset, for the start was early. A pot
of charcoal stood by the window. The night was cold, and Richard, as
he played on the lute, tucked his bare feet under him.

"My lord," said Stephen, on a sudden, coming across to the bed and
kneeling down, "I 've a grace to ask of thee."

"Thou!" cried Richard, throwing away the lute. "Here 's a marvel!" and
he leaned out and flung his arms, linked, around Stephen's neck, and
so peered, mischievous, into his face. "The others are at it all day
long, but when hast thou asked aught of me? Be sure 't is granted or
ever 't is spoke, sweet friend."

"Natheless, my heart doth not so assure me, sweet lord," made answer
Stephen, very sad. "Belike I 'm froward, but I do believe thou lovest
me dear, and for that cause 't will go hard with thee or thou grant
this boon."

Richard wrinkled his brow. "What a riddle is here?" quoth he. "I 'll
love thee, and yet prove a churl to thy desire?"

Stephen looked steadily beyond him for a moment before he began:--

"Is it fitting, _beau sire_, that one so young and fair and
helpless as Calote should go alone through this realm on perilous and
haply hopeless business?"

"Do not many so?" asked Richard uneasily.

"They are but seldom young, my lord, nor never so fair. They go to a
shrine to do penance for sins; they are old in the world's ways."

There was a pause, then Richard broke forth hotly:--

"If 't is not good that she go forth on this emprise, if 't is not
true that the common folk is strong enough to put down the nobles,
wherefore didst not thou prevent me when I gave consent? Thou art
older than I. Is this thy loyauté, to let thy King play the fool?"

"Oh, my lord!" said Stephen, and hung his head; but not for shame of
himself. Presently he looked up into the eyes of the sulky boy and
spoke on: "I do not know if the people be strong enough and wise
enough to do this thing. I do not know the people. I have lived among
courtiers since I was a little lad and my father died. But if they do
fail, my lord, the world will but wag as it did afore. Thine is not
the blame; thou art too young to bear blame for 't; 't is the people
that will be blamed."

Richard flushed slowly, and looked away.

"But I will not be laughed at neither," he said, with quivering lip.
"I wish I had not given her my hunting-horn."

"Trust me, sire," said Stephen, "if the people do ever rise up in
England against the oppression of the nobles, 't will be no laughing
matter,--even though in the end it fail. And mayhap Calote knoweth
that she speaketh,--mayhap 't will win."

"I 'll not tell any one I gave her leave to use the King's name,"
half-whispered Richard, shamefaced and scarlet; "nor must thou."

"Of surety, no; 't would spoil all, to tell," Stephen assented, but he
was so filled with his own thoughts and how he should ask the boon he
had to ask, that he failed to see how the King was ashamed.

Richard gave a quick sigh of relief. "Nay,--we 'll not tell," he
repeated. "'T would not be wise for Calote's sake to tell." Yet his
cheeks did not cool.

"Oh, my lord, and my King, this that I would ask of thee is likewise
for Calote's sake," Stephen cried. "Thou dost know well, Calote is my
love and my lady. I have tried, but I cannot love no other damosel.
And now she is going out to strange peril alone. My soul crieth shame
to me, sire; shame, for that I stay behind a-living easefully. Is this
knightly demeanour? Is this to be a defender of ladies?"

Richard's hand closed tight upon Stephen's collar, as if he felt him
slipping away and would keep him.

"My liege," the squire pleaded, "my lord, let me go follow my love!"

The King sat up very straight on the bed; there was fright in his
eyes. It seemed almost he could not understand that he heard.

"And leave me?" he said at last, in amaze.

Stephen made no answer, and, after astonishment, anger came into
Richard's face.

"A peasant maid!" he cried. "How am I scorned!" And then, "I hate
thee!--I hate, hate, hate thee!"

He pushed the squire from him. He tore his linen shirt open at the
throat and sprang to the floor.

"Hear me!" Stephen begged.

"Nay; I 've heard enough!" screamed Richard, his teeth chattering
'twixt wrath and cold. "Go, an thou wilt! Go now; now! I 'll take
Robert de Vere to my love. I 'll make him thrice an earl and give him
my jewelled buckle. He 'll not leave me so cruel."

"In pity, sire," protested Stephen; "the night is cold; thou 'lt take
an ague standing on the stone floor."

"And if I do, what 's that to thee? Thou dost not love me!" shouted
the King, his voice breaking in a sob. "Nay, do not touch me! I 'll
not to bed,--I 'll not to bed! I 'll stand all night and shiver. Let
be!--Ah, woe, harrow!"

He beat at Stephen with both hands, wildly, when the squire would have
wrapped a mantle round him.

"My lord, thy gentlemen will hear."

"I hope they may!" cried Richard, hoarse with screaming. "Mayhap I 'll
die of the cold, and then they 'll behead thee for a traitor, and
quarter thee, and hang thee up over London Bridge,--and I 'll laugh."

Thereupon he did, noisily, with tears.

Stephen looked on him for a space in silence and then went out at the
door and left him alone.

When he came again, bringing wine, spiced and honeyed, in a cup,
Richard's mood had changed. He lay on the bed, weeping.

"Here 's good clarré will warm thee, sire,--drink!" coaxed Stephen
gently.

"No!" said the King, strangling in his sobs, "No!--take away!" and
struck the cup out of Stephen's hand so that the wine flew all about.
Then on a sudden he was in the squire's arms, shivering, clinging,
crying:--

"Etienne, Etienne, methought thou didst love me!"

"And do I not so, my lord?"

"Then stay with me. I am the King. What 's a peasant maid?"

"What 's knighthood, my lord, what 's honour?"

"Is no knighthood in following after a peasant," sobbed Richard.
"Such-like maids be for pleasure of the noblesse. Robert de Vere told
me."

"I do never pattern my demeanour after his Lordship of Oxford," said
Stephen coldly.

"When I was a little lad, they sang me tales of how all the world did
love to do the bidding of the King," said Richard; "but it is not
true. O me, it is not true! I hate Calote!"

"Yet 't is she that puts body and soul in peril to do thee service."

"I 'd liefer she stayed at home, and wedded thee peaceable."

"God wot, so would I!" Stephen exclaimed. "But she will not."

"I 'll bid her stay," cried Richard; "and I 'm the King."

"The King is a truthteller, my lord; he may not give his word and
take it again. The King is pattern to his people and servant likewise;
doth not the Vision say this?"

"I 'm sick of the Vision," whined Richard, and clung more close to his
squire. "Thou 'lt not go! Say thou 'lt not go! How alone shall I be,
and unloved, if thou go. Etienne, I want thee to stay with me."

"And how alone will she be, that peasant maid that I have chose to
make my lady," said Stephen. "Think, sire! a kingdom is no plaything.
Be sure Christ Jesus, of all men the Judge, will not let thee off of
thy devoir to the least man or maid born in England,--when the last
day cometh. And when thou and Calote stand face to face, and the great
angel a-blowing his trump, and all the world rising up fearful out of
its grave, wilt thou say to the Judge: 'Christ, King of Heaven, this
was a maid that went out to do me service. My kingdom was full of a
quarrel 'twixt peasant and noblesse, 'twixt monk and friar, and
merchant. There was no man but had a grievance against his brother.
And this maid said, I will bring love out of this hate, and truth out
of this lying; the King and the peasant shall kiss the kiss of peace.'
And wilt thou say again, 'I had knights and nobles in my court to
guard me well and to do my will, O Christ! but I would not give one of
all these to go follow the maid and shield her from peril in her
lonely pilgrimage. I would not let go even a squire to be her
body-guard. If she hath come to harm, it is by me, and in my cause.'"

"No, no, no!" whispered Richard very piteous; "I will not do so." He
had ceased his weeping, but now and again a sob shook him. "Etienne, I
will be a true King. Ah, who will learn me to be true when thou art
gone!"

"The wisest men in the kingdom are at thy bidding, King Richard,"
Stephen answered him gravely.

"But they are too wise," the boy complained. "They weary me. I love
thee best."

"Natheless, 't were scarce fitting that Master John Wyclif, or Lord
Percy of Northumberland, be sent to follow Calote in my stead," quoth
Stephen, half-mischievous.

The King laughed a tearful little laugh. But presently he said:--

"Calote flouteth thee. She will not let thee go with her."

"She shall not know," Stephen answered. "Will my lord hear what I
purpose? 'T is no wonted adventure."

"Yea," Richard agreed. "But do thou first cover me in bed, and give me
a tippet; I 'm cold. Is there any of the clarré left in the cup?"

Thereupon Stephen covered him and gave him the cup to drink, and after
told him what he purposed to do,--a long tale.

"O Etienne, what a true lover art thou!" sighed Richard. "But I shall
miss thee sore."

"And I 'll lodge in poor men's cots, and take them to be my friend,
and learn if they be strong enough to overcome the nobles."

"I 'd rather be thou than the King," Richard said wistfully. "Here 's
a merry adventure, and 't is dull in the Palace at Westminster. Tell
on!"

So they spoke peacefully together, and at the last the King fell fast
asleep, and Stephen kissed his hand very soft, and left him.



                             CHAPTER V

                      The Adventure in Devon


Calote was in the south of England that winter, in Hampshire, and
Wiltshire, and Somerset; resting, now a week, now a night only, in
town or village or lonely hut. She travelled off the highway as much
as she might, and slept in poor folks' cots. She bought bed and
victual with a ballad or a gest, and because she could spin and bake
as well as tell a tale, the goodwives of the countryside harboured her
willingly, and sent her on her way with bread in her bag and milk in
her bottle, and her head bret-full of messages to distant friends;
as:--

"If thou 'lt take yon three fields as the crow flieth, then turn thee
on thy left hand, through a wood and up a hill and down again, thou
'lt come, in a good ten mile, to a river and a white thatched house on
t' other side; there be three yew trees behind. Do thou go in boldly
and call for Cristina atte Ford; she 's my brother's second wife. I
've not seen her this six year and more, but she was a kindly soul at
that time. Say 't was Cecily Ayr sent thee; and here 's a piece of new
linen for the latest baby and six new-laid eggs. God and Saint Mary
keep thee, wench! Yonder 's Roger Stokfisshe in his dung-cart a-going
thy way; he 'll give thee a ride."

When she came into a village, she went and stood by the cross, or in
the street before the tavern, and blew a blast on the King's horn; and
when the people began to gather round, she sang a song of Robin Hood,
or Earl Randle of Chester; and after, of Piers Ploughman; and she said
as how she was Will Langland's daughter; and if there were but common
folk, or a knight or two in the company, she told of the Brotherhood,
and at the last of the young King.

Whiles they were sullen and afraid; whiles they scoffed and would
believe but only that 't was a merry gest of a jongleuse; whiles they
waited not to hear the end, but drifted away by twos and threes
a-shaking their heads. Yet, more often, they stayed by, and crowded
closer, and fingered the silver horn curiously. A-many had heard
already something of this matter, as how the peasants should arise;
and these questioned her of when and where. Others told their
grievances loudly and said: "Will this be cured?"--"Will that be done
away?" Ofttimes she might not know all that they would say, for that
their speech was strange; and they on their part said: "What is
't?"--"What 's that to mean?" for Englishmen spoke a diverse language
in that day. Nevertheless, because of the going to and fro of peddlers
and merchants and minstrels, of pilgrims and friars, over the land,
there began to be a scattering of words from one shire to another; and
Calote, being quick of wit, had soon the jargon of the south country
and the west at the tip of her tongue.

'T would seem there was a young peddler journeying in these parts
about this same time; ever and anon Calote met him in tavern or
marketplace. There was never a lonely stretch of road but she found
him jogging on before, or looked behind to see him coming after. He
spoke not overmuch, and then with a grievous stammer. He was not
goodly to look upon, having no eyebrows and black hair very wild about
his head; yet, in his company Calote ever found her heart light with a
content and surety the which she was at a loss to understand. He wore
a tawny tabard, and a bright blue flannel hood of the kind that is
cape and hood in one, with a hole to thrust the face out. His hosen
were of coarse yarn, twixt white and gray, streaked. He carried a
light pack, with pins and ribbons and trinkets in it, and a lute slung
under his arm. Twice or thrice he had sat on the steps of a market
cross and twanged his lute that Calote might the better sing her
ballads, but if she thanked him, he would scowl.

At Salisbury, in the spring, she came upon Wat Tyler a-walking the
High Street, and 't would be hard to tell which had more joy of other.
He caught her up and kissed her heartily; and she, laughing, with the
tears on her cheeks, had well-nigh choked him with her arms around his
neck.

He told her as how her father was very silent, and ever busy with the
Vision. And her mother said: "If so be thou find Calote,"--for they
knew she was in that part of England where she was,--"here is a pair
of warm shoes for her feet."

He told her also how 't was rumoured that a poll tax was toward;
because, forsooth, some fool averred that "the wealth of the kingdom
is in the hands of the workmen and labourers." Wat smacked his own
empty hands together loudly and laughed so that men turned in the
street to look on him.

He lingered around and about Salisbury a month and more, and Calote
stayed with him, singing her songs in Wilton and Bemerton, and in the
taverns and at the poultry cross. That elfish peddler likewise rested
in the town, and ever he was at Wat's elbow, questioning of when the
people should rise; and how many shires were already awake to these
matters. But when May was come in, Wat set Calote on the road to
Exeter and himself turned his face to Londonward. And all that month
of May she was a-wandering over the moors of Devon, she and the
peddler, for he had never been in these parts and he lost his way.

"I know a man of Devon," quoth Calote; "he lives by the sea. If we
could come at him, he 'd succour us and set us in the right road."

They went in a circle ofttimes, and twice at nightfall they came back
to the same farm-house. Then the peddler bruised his foot, and they
stayed three nights under the open sky, in the heather. The silence of
the moors wrapped them round, and also the peddler's stammer was a
burden to his speech. The third evening a shepherd came upon them, and
gave them beans to eat.

It was June the day they came out upon a great red foreland above the
sea. The chief colour of the water was a flashing blue, but at the
edges it changed to clear green, fringed white with foam; there were
cloud shadows of purple lying on that blue, and here and there a
wondrous rosy patch, as it might be apple blossoms were melted there.

They followed along the cliffs after this, a dizzy way, and once
Calote was fain to lie down and cling to the short grass and cry.

"G-get up," quoth the peddler; "f-for sh-sh-shame to cry. I-I-I--
G-give me th-th-thy hand!"

And so twixt coaxing and comforting he got her to her feet again, and
they went on, he walking on the side of the sea as much as he might.
Ever and anon they came upon a handful of fishermen's cottages in a
wooded coombe, and at one of these hamlets they heard that Calote's
friend Peter dwelt some three miles farther on, inland about a mile.
So when they were come to Peter's cot, which was wreathed all about
with a riot of honeysuckle and wild rose, the peddler gave Calote
good-day, and she leapt the dry ditch and went into the yard through
the gate; and there was Peter a-sitting on the doorstone, mending a
hoe.

"O mistress!" he cried, and she laughed and shook him by the shoulders
and kissed him. And Peter's son, that was now a parson, came out of
the house with a book in his hand.

When the peddler saw this parson in the doorway, and how young he was,
he half turned as he would go back; but then he thought better of it,
and went on till he came to the church of the parish. In the
churchyard he sat down to rest under an old yew tree, and here the
parson found him after vespers, and took him in to lodge in his own
house.

Meanwhile, in Peter's cot, Calote went to bed supperless.

"We ate our bread at noon," said Peter. "The morrow morn I 'll make
shift to sell our black cock to the steward of the manor-house. 'T is
an ancient bird, but I have heard tell the cook is wonderly skilful to
disguise tough meat."

"Nay, not for my sake shalt thou sell it!" cried Calote.

But Peter answered her: "We also must eat, mistress. I am in arrears
to Bailiff for that my plough broke in the furrow three days past; I
could not beg no wood to mend it, but Forester found me in the park
with mine axe. Wherefore I sat yesterday in the stocks."

Peter had no shoes, and there were raw rings about his ankles where
the stocks had galled him, also his neck was bruised. He was very
ragged, his tabard full of holes. Nevertheless, he was not the only
one in that village went bare.

So soon as all the people heard that this was Long Will's daughter,
who was Peter's friend in London, they came eagerly to see her. They
were a big and kindly and simple folk, slow and obstinate. They heard
Calote's tales in silence, stolidly; yet they came again and again to
hear. Now it was before the door of Peter's cot that they gathered;
now it was at the foot of the cliffs when the tide was out; now it was
in the churchyard of a Sunday after Mass, the parson sitting by
a-copying her words; for his own book of the Vision was a tattered
thing, never complete, that he had bought at a Devon fair.

Meanwhile, the parson and the peddler were close comrades. The peddler
had to answer many questions; as, how did John Wyclif appear? And was
he so learned a man as John Ball? And did William Courtney, Devon's
son, still bear him arrogant, now he was Bishop of London? And was it
true, what the friars in these parts said, that John Wyclif was a
sorcerer and in the Devil's pay? And had the peddler been in
Oxford?--this with a lingering sigh. But ever the questioning came
round at the last to love, for concerning this matter the parson was
very curious; not that love Long Will sang in the Vision, but the more
common kind; and throughout whole days of June, as they walked
together over the wide rose-blossoming country on the top of the
cliffs, the parson to carry comfort to the sick or the aged, the
peddler to sell his wares, they discoursed of lovers and loving; and
it was the peddler who learned the parson the Romaunt of the Rose.

"And didst thou ever suffer this malady of love, to know it?" the
parson queried one day.

"Ay, a-and do suffer," the peddler answered. "B-b-but she 'll n-none
of me."

"A foolish maid, to judge by the outside," said the parson; himself
was a big, broad, yellow-headed man, might have had any maid in Devon
to keep his house for him an he had chose; but of this he was not
aware.

"Didst ever essay to curl thy hair?" he continued; "'t would soften
thy countenance."

The peddler smiled as at a memory: "Yea," he said, "I 've d-done so
full oft."

They were journeying along the edge of the cliff, and the sun was low;
on the sea there was one little ship.

"Will Langland married a wife,--and he a kind of priest," the parson
said suddenly.

"Ye-yet 't was not well do-done," the peddler retorted swift, "for all
J-John W-Wyclif coun-coun-counseleth."

As he talked, his eyes were on the sea and the little ship; but the
parson was looking down to the foot of a jutting headland beyond,
where a playful wight--was 't a man or a maid?--skipped among the
rocks, and ran into the water and out again.

"Nay, I 'm not so sure 't was ill done," he disputed absently; "we be
made like other men."

The peddler stood still and shaded his eyes with his hand: "Wh-what
for a ship is yonder?" he asked. "Methinks 't is sailing in. Is there
ha-harbour?"

The parson likewise shaded his eyes, then he said: "Below, there 's a
brook flows into the sea, and a kind of rough beach, where--where the
maid is playing."

"What maid?" But now the peddler saw, and though she was no bigger
than a brown lark, seen so far, he knew what maid it was, and so did
the parson.

"Is that a French ship?" asked the peddler, and never a stammer on his
tongue; but the parson was too troubled to be aware of this.

"I fear me,--I fear me!" he answered.

"And now I 'm very sure she 's coming in," the peddler cried, and
flung down his pack and stripped off his hood. "Do thou make the best
of thy way to the manor-house, Sir Priest,--yet I fear me the knight
's away,--and I 'll down to the maid. What way 's the nearest way?"

"Not so," the parson answered. "Thou canst not come to her afore they
land, by the way round; and thou canst not go over the cliff; but I
can, for I 've climbed these slippery walls up and down since I was
six year old." His blue eyes sparkled like that blue sea below; he was
tucking up his gown about his waist.

"To warn the knight and bring aid to thy parish is thy devoir; 't is
mine to succour the maid," quoth the peddler very hot. His eyes were
blue likewise, and eerie in the midst of his brown visage.

So they looked each into the heart of the other, angrily; and all the
while that French ship was coming in. Then the young parson drooped
his head, and "Not for mine own sake, but the maid's, let me go over
the cliff, brother," he said. "Think on the maid! If they find her
alone on the shore, or if they take her fleeing up to the village, of
what avail were my love then, or thine?"

The peddler put his two hands to his mouth and called out, trying to
make the maid hear him. But the wind drove his voice backward over the
land; and the ship came on with the wind. Then the peddler groaned
and, with never a look nor a word for the priest, he set off to run to
where the manor-house was distant two good miles. When the priest
looked over the cliff, the maid was already running up the coombe to
the mill that stood in the brook's way. Nevertheless, he began to go
down the cliff.

So soon as Calote saw that little ship, she knew what was to happen;
for the villagers on the coast had told her many tales of how the
French were like to come any day and burn and pillage; and how the men
of Cornwall had been so harassed that they had demanded fighting men
to be sent down to protect them and their coast; and the Commons
desired that those lords who had estates by the sea should dwell upon
them to succour their people.

Calote stood a moment looking out. This was a little ship, and but
one; might not these villagers overcome a few French and take them
prisoners? Here would be a tale to tell! Immediately she sped up the
coombe to the mill, and:--

"The French are coming," quoth she breathless. "Bar thy door!"

"And so be burnt like a swallow in a great-house chimney," said the
miller. "Not I," and calling to his wife and his man, and snatching up
his youngest, he made ready to go with Calote.

"But I 'll bring succour," she protested. "Wilt thou leave all the
good corn to pillage?"

"Yea, I will," answered the miller. "The murderers shall sooner have
my corn than my company."

"'T is not thy corn, 't is thy neighbours'," Calote admonished, but he
had no ears for her; and she, to save her breath for running, stilled
her speech, and left him.

The sunlight struck level athwart the tree-trunks and along the
wood-road that led twixt the mill and the village.

"'T is now about the going down of the sun," she thought, as she
hurried on. "They will be gathered at the cross, Peter, and the
parson, and the peddler, and all those others, awaiting till I come to
tell a tale and learn them of the Brotherhood."

She stood still for breath, and heard a cry.

"They have caught the miller afore he 's gone. Now they 'll be busy
with the pillage of the mill, for a little."

She started on, and stopped irresolute.

"When they come to the cross at sunset, they have their hoes, their
axes, and hammers with them; some of them will be shooting at the
butts with arrows for pastime at the end of the day."

She put the horn to her lips and blew a long blast.

"There will not be so many men in that ship. Better that ours should
come forth to meet them, driving them backward into the sea."

She blew another blast, and another.

"Better the affray should be here than in the village among the women
and children."

She ran on again, but not so fast. Again she blew the horn. And now in
the distance she heard the village folk coming down the coombe.

"They 'll think I 'm calling them to hear tales by the sea,--or that
some mishap is befallen me."

She heard them laughing as they came, and presently three or four
appeared among the trees, and more, and more, some forty of old men
and young, and little lads. Behind were women.

"The French!" she cried; and at that word the foremost men stood
still.

"We 'll fling them back into the sea, that dare to set foot in
England! We 'll"--

Something in their faces made her falter.

"'T is but only one little ship," she added hastily. "We are so many
we can--Brothers--brothers!"

For they were moving backward; already those behind had turned tail
and run.

"I say we 're two to one," she shouted desperately. "Come down and
drive them back! Peter, Peter, speak to them!"

"Best come away while there 's time, mistress," answered
Peter. "I must to the good wife and the children, and take them to the
manor for safety."

"I 'm a ditcher, and no soldier," said another. "Let them as know how
fight!"

"The French is no plain flesh and blood, but wizards," grumbled a
third.

And always they went backward.

"Cowards!" said the maid. "Is this the way ye 'll take the kingdom out
o' the grasp o' the nobles, and are too fearsome to run upon a handful
of French?"

"Smoke! Look ye!" cried a man. "They 've set the mill afire. They 'll
be on us! They 'll be on us!"

Whereupon panic seized them, and they all turned about and fled; and
Calote ran after, calling "Cowards!" and "Shame!" and "Is 't so ye 'd
serve the King?" and "Slaves! Oh, coward slaves!" till she had no
breath to speak nor run, and so dropped down sobbing by the road and
let them go.

After a breathing space, she began to hear voices behind; and she got
to her feet and hurried on to the village.

'T was now the French that came up the coombe, and as they came they
sang. They had the parson with them. The miller and his children they
had slain and cast into the fire; but 't was against conscience to
kill parsons. The miller's wife went blubbering betwixt two knights,
that quarrelled together very playful concerning her.

In the village every house was empty--every cottage door was wide.

"They 'll rouse their lord, I heard a horn," said the leader of the
band. "Burn, pillage,--in haste,--then back to the ship! We are too
few to stay in safety, but we 'll fill our bellies and the ship's."

Then at the other end of the street he saw a maid running through the
dusk; her hair was all unbound, and flew behind her like a golden
banner.

They came up with her at the cross, and closed about her in a ring,
forgetful of haste in their wonder at her loveliness. The leader was a
gallant gentleman, he doffed his bonnet and unlaced his helm, and
dropped upon one knee, saying sweet words; and although Calote and the
parson were but little versed in the French tongue, they knew right
well what this was to mean.

Then the knight rose up off his knee and went and set his finger
beneath Calote's chin, and lifted up her face, and stooped his own.
And presently the knight and the parson lay both at their lengths on
the grass. The knight was stunned only, already he opened his eyes,
but the parson had three thrusts of a sword through his body, and he
would die.

Out of the stillness that followed this deed there grew a faint sound
of horses' hoofs; but the men who stood around heard nothing of this.
'T is not well done to slay a priest, even a priest of the English,
whose pope is not the pope of the French.

The knight lifted himself upon his elbow and stared as he were mazed.
Calote was kneeling by the side of the parson. And on a sudden there
rode up horsemen, and the French turned about in confusion to fight
and to flee. In the midst of this battle Calote knelt at the parson's
head, as she had been in a hushed chamber, and presently she was 'ware
that the peddler came to kneel at the other side.

"How did this hap?" said the peddler, and he had to call out loud,
because of the noise of clashing steel, and the groans, and the cries
of battle,--"A Courtney, a Courtney!" for these were retainers of the
Earl of Devon.

"The French knight"--sobbed Calote.

And now the parson opened his eyes:--

"'Conformen Kings to peace,'" said he, very faint. He was babbling out
of the Vision. Calote bent her ear to his lips.

"'And to be conqueror called, that cometh of special grace,'" he said
and smiled. After a bit there came blood to his lips, but he sat up
joyously:--

   "'And now I see where a soul cometh hitherward sailing,
     With glory and with great light, God it is, I wot.'"

And so he fell backward dead.

There were other dead men lying all about. The few French that were
not slain were fleeing to their ship, and the English after them
pell-mell, hacking and hewing. The peddler lifted Calote off her knees
and led her away. They walked wearily many miles, stumbling through
the summer darkness. When the dawn came, the peddler made a bed of
moss and leaves for Calote, but she would not lie in it. She sat
a-sighing, with her head in her hand.

"S-s-sleep, mistress!" said the peddler, "a-and forget!"

"I 'll never forget that they are cowards!--cowards!" she cried
passionately. "Is 't these shall save the kingdom to the King?"

"''W-'ware thee from w-wanhope, w-would thee betray,'" said the
peddler, speaking out of the Vision. "Th-these men be not w-warriors,
but tillers of the soil; peaceable folk. They have been ca-cared
for and fought for all their l-life long. Not cowards, but
un-un-accustomed. We met them as we rode; they came to c-call the lord
of the manor to s-succour them. Peter was sore distressed f-for thee."

"Natheless, they ran away," she said. "They were afeared."

"N-not the parson," declared the peddler. "He was n-no coward. I did
never know a b-better man; and he was one of them. The ki-kingdom 's
not to be taken this year. P-patience!"

"Thou art no coward neither," she assented, a little comforted. "And
thou also art one of them."

But to this the peddler made no reply.



                            CHAPTER VI

                    The Adventure in Cheshire


In late September Calote and the peddler, having got as far north as
the ancient city of Chester, fell in with a company of bold outlaws
that dwelt in a wood some way without the city walls. Six of these men
were villeins that had run from their land; three more had been
soldiers beyond the sea and were now loth to lend their great limbs to
any peaceful labours; the tenth man was a beggar by trade, yet for
some cause best known to himself he would not beg in Chester; and
there was yet another, a young lad who had slain his lord's bailiff.
He had taken sanctuary and after abjured the realm, so that he was
under oath to get him out of England by the nearest way; yet he
lingered. Two women were also with this company: the one was
light-o'-love to the youngest soldier of the three; the other was
sister to the lad that had murdered the bailiff,--they two were
orphaned.

After the peddler had come out of Devon, leaving his hood and pack on
the cliff, he bought him a new pack in Bristol; but by now well-nigh
all his gewgaws were sold, and he purposed to buy other at the October
Fair in Chester. Meanwhile, he waited without the town, saving the
cost of bed and board, and keeping his eyes and ears open to serve
Calote.

These outlaws were no cowards, except it might be the young murderer,
who screeched in his sleep of nights and woke up staring, in a cold
sweat. They were a merry band; their food was berries and herbs and
the small game that ran in the woods. Now and again they ventured on
the high road and plundered solitary market-women or a farmer's boy.
In winter and spring they dared even set upon a merchant or franklin;
but at fair-time the merchants, coming to display their wares at
Chester, travelled in so great companies for safety, that 't was but
foolhardiness to attack them. So it fell that about the time Calote
and the peddler came among them these robbers, were in a mood of
discontent more than ordinary, having not so much as a groat wherewith
to bless themselves. An Calote's tales had not charmed them when first
they caught the couple a-wandering in the wood, no doubt it had gone
hard with the peddler. But when they heard how he sang to his lute,
and he said he had not peddled for many a day and 't was a poor trade,
they looked no further than his pack; the bits of ribbon that were
left in it the soldier gave to his wench.

"One eats all that one sells," quoth the peddler; but when they saw
how he did eat that night, they roared and said 't was plain he had
sold little of late.

They were wondrous kind to Calote; they crowned her with a garland of
green, and gave her of their best. Her tales of the Brotherhood, the
Great Society, they heard with passion and impatience. They were for
setting out to London without pause. The Vision went to their heads
like strong drink, so that they cursed and beat upon the earth, and
anon fell on each other's necks with kisses, in a kind of frenzy.

"Ye 'll be no more outlaws," quoth Calote, "but makers of laws. Ye 'll
be your own bailiffs on your own lands."

The poor lad that had killed the bailiff cast himself on his face, at
this, and wept, and his little sister also. And all those others did
what they might to comfort him, with:--

"Ho, man! leave off tears; 't was bravely done!" and "Never grieve for
a black heart!" and "A pox o' bailiffs!"

The horn they handled greedily, counting the linked jewels in the
chain and the pearls that were set about the image of the white hart.
Calote kept it in a little bag that she had made of a bit of blanket
the peddler gave her. This she wore by a string about her middle, and
drew forth the horn willingly when they called for it. She was not
aware how they coveted it, nor wherefore; but the peddler knew. He
heard them when they sat about the fire of nights, after the women
were gone to sleep. He listened the while they wrangled of the pearls.
One said there were thirty, another swore by Saint Christopher there
were but five and twenty.

"S-seven and twenty," quoth the peddler; "I-I-I counted."

They turned and looked on him. There were three awake, the beggar, a
villein, and the youngest soldier. They called the villein Symme
Tipuppe, and the soldier Nicholas Bendebowe; the beggar was only
Haukyn.

Quoth Haukyn to the peddler: "Art thou kin to the maid?"

"N-nay," said the peddler, "we met by the r-road."

"Tell me," said Symme, leaning forward. "Thou 'rt a kind of merchant,
is the horn silver, or some baser metal?"

"T-t-true silver," answered the peddler, and Nicholas Bendebowe,
looking on Symme, set his thumb to his nose and wagged his fingers,
with "Said I not so? I saw jewels in France, yea, and handled them."

"'T would bring a pretty penny if 't were sold?" Symme questioned.

"N-no doubt," the peddler made reply.

For a little while they sat silent, and the soldier laid a fresh bough
on the blaze, for that the night was crisp and all these fellows were
ragged and brier-torn.

Then said Haukyn the beggar, gloomily: "After to-morrow is the
beginning of the Fair."

"Small joy to such as we be," snapped Nicholas Bendebowe.

"M-methought 't was the charité of Chester Fair th-that all men might
gather there whether outlaw or-or-or runaway villein, and no one
should l-l-lay hands on them while the Fair endured," the peddler
queried.

"Yea, 't is so," assented Symme. "But what boots it me that I may go
within Chester wall, if I must go empty-handed? The Rows are lined
with spies that hale a man to the court of pie powder if he but stroke
with his finger the furred edge of a hood that 's to sell. 'T were
against reason to think a man will keep his hands off in midst of
plenty."

"B-but Haukyn 's a b-beggar only, he may ply his trade," said the
peddler.

"Haukyn does not ply his trade in Chester," the beggar answered for
himself. "If he cannot go in to buy like 's betters, he 's safest
without."

"Twenty-seven pearls," mused Nicholas; and Symme and Haukyn sighed.

The peddler looked across the blaze of the fire to where Calote lay, a
little way off at the foot of a tree, asleep. On the ground beside her
was the bag with the horn in it, and the string went round her slim
body.

After a bit the soldier snored; the beggar twitched awake and in a
trice was off again, this time sound; the villein turned his back to
the fire and drew up his legs, and presently the peddler heard him
grinding his teeth, and knew that he too was asleep.

Throughout the next day the peddler was never far from Calote; thrice
the villein had the horn out of her bag and fondled it, and the beggar
came and looked over his shoulder. The soldier's wench hung the chain
about her own neck one while, and saith she to her love:--

"Deck me in this wise!"

"By Our Lady o' Walsingham, that will I," he swore, "when Calote and
us common folk have put down the noblesse, and all men share alike."

Again that night those three talked of the Fair after others slept,
and the peddler sat beside them listening. On a sudden Symme Tipuppe
turned to him and said:--

"If the horn were to sell, what would it fetch?"

"A g-goodly sum," the peddler answered cautiously.

"Yea, but what 's that, a pound?"

"A pound, sayst thou?" the soldier scoffed. "If 't bring not five
times a pound, rend out my guts."

"H-haply 't might," said the peddler.

"With the chain?" queried Haukyn.

"With the chain?" Symme echoed, his eyes on the peddler.

"N-nay, but alone."

"Twenty for the chain, eh, peddler?" said Nicholas.

"N-nearer ten."

Then there was a very long stillness, till at last Symme said:--

"Fifteen pound!"

"If the King loveth us," grumbled the beggar, "he 'll never grudge
fifteen pound. Hath not the maid said the King 's our friend?"

"Ho, fellows! 'T is our horn as well as the King's," Nicholas
blustered in a whisper. "Doth not the maid say we 'll share with him?"

"'T is the maid's," said Symme, glancing aside uneasily at the
peddler. "The King gave it to the maid."

"Not so, 't is the King's!" persisted Nicholas. "'T is hers for a
token only. Heh, peddler?"

"'T-'t is t-true, 't is the K-King's," the peddler agreed.

Symme sighed as he were freed of a burden; the beggar moved more close
to the peddler; Nicholas shook the peddler by the hand,--"A sober,
sensible fellow, thou," he said.

"The King would give her another token an she lost this one," the
beggar whined in his peevish way. "And though he 's King, he 's Earl
o' Chester likewise; he 'd be kind to his own men, if they sold the
horn for hunger."

The soldier loosened his knife in his girdle with one hand, the other
he laid on the peddler's shoulder.

"Wilt thou be one with us in this adventure, brother?" he asked.

Symme also drew his knife, and Haukyn laid his fingers up about the
back of the peddler's throat.

"G-gladly, brothers," said the peddler.

"Fifteen pound!" murmured Symme. "Fifteen pound!"

Then the young murderer began to moan and cry in his sleep, and, for a
little, all were astir to soothe him; but when the place was quiet
Symme said:--

"Who 'll sell it? Haukyn can go to the Fair."

"'T is no safe token for a beggar to bear," quoth Haukyn; "hold me
excused. Men know me in Chester."

"Peddler can go to the Fair," said Nicholas; "he 's no outlawed man."

"True!" agreed Symme. "And peddler knows to chaffer. Fifteen pound,
peddler."

"Or more," said Haukyn.

"Who will take the horn from the maid?" asked Nicholas.

"I," Haukyn answered him. "I found an old cow's horn yester morn;
methought 't might prove a treasure. I 'll slip out one and slip in t'
other."

They chuckled.

"When she knoweth her loss, what then?" asked Symme.

"I 'll woo her prettily," said Nicholas, "till she forget."

"We 'll all go to Fair with the peddler," Haukyn declared.

But now the peddler answered: "Nay, n-not so! If I go, I go alone.
W-were I seen in your c-company, I 'd never sell it. M-my tabard is
whole, m-my hosen are clean, m-my pack beareth me witness I 'm a
peddler. Ye are ragged. I-I 'll swear on the horn afore I go that I
'll bring b-back the gold."

So they gave consent unwillingly, and composed them to a nap.

When the peddler set out to Chester next morning, he had the horn in
his pack. Symme, Nicholas, and Haukyn came to the edge of the wood
with him and watched him out of sight. Before he went into the city,
he stopped in the jousting-field outside the eastern wall; here were
the showmen and minstrels, the dancers and jongleurs, and cheap-jacks
of all kind. Among these the peddler wandered musing, till he came to
pause before a man that sold black stuff in a bottle, "to make gray
hair black." The peddler had a coin or two in his hand, and he bought
a bottle of this stuff and stowed it in his pack; but he took out the
horn and hid it under his tabard. At the gate he showed his pack
empty, with only the bottle in it, and was let pass without toll,--for
all who brought in wares to sell must pay toll to the Fair. Within the
city he bought a new hood, for he had had none since he came out of
Devon, and Calote told him once the sun burned his hair, it grew
rusty. He lingered above an hour among the Rows; but he bought no
trinkets to fill his pack, neither did he enter any goldsmith's shop
to chaffer for the horn. About noon he came out and walked by the Dee
till he happed on a quiet, lonely place, screened by the bushes. Here,
sitting down, he first rubbed his head well with the black dye, and
let it dry in the sun the while he took out from some safe place
within his tabard a pouch or bag, very full and heavy. When he undid
the mouth of the bag and tipped it up, there plumped out gold and
silver coin in a heap,--and he put his hand over it and looked about
warily before he set to counting. But there was no one nigh, so
presently he had made of one pile florins, and of another muttons, and
three rose nobles of another; and the silver he separated likewise,
into groats and pence. In the end he found that he had what he knew
was there when he set a price upon the chain and the horn,--fifteen
pound, odd pence. That the chain was of more value he guessed, but
this was all he had,--a goodly sum for a peddler; 't were marvel if he
had come by so much in trade. He was loth to part with all, yet he had
not dared to offer less, for that the soldier was a shrewd rogue.

He swept all into the pouch and tucked the pouch within his breast; he
dropped the horn into the point of his hood and slipped the hood over
his head, the point wagging behind; he set his empty pack afloat on
the river Dee, for now he had no money to buy trinkets. Except three
groat, he was penniless. He laughed, as his thoughts had been new
thoughts and amazing.

Meanwhile, in the brown dry woodland there was strife and a discovery.

Quoth the sister of the young lad that had slain the bailiff:--

"Let 's see the horn, Calote; I 've not laid eyes on 't this day."

"Let be!" said Symme rudely. "How do ye pester the maid! ye 'll wear
away the silver with fingering."

"Nay, but I 'll show it gladly," Calote protested. "'T is small
courtesy I may show for kindness," and she drew forth the old cow's
horn.

"Saint Jame!" cried a villein, not Symme, but another.

"Saint Mary!" gasped Calote, pale as a pellet.

"'T is stolen, mistress!" said Nicholas Bendebowe.

"Stolen!" cried out those others all at once, with loud bluster; "Who
stole 't?"--"Not I!"--"Nor I!"--"Nor I!"--"Will any dare say I stole
it?"

"Where 's peddler?" asked the beggar.

They looked on one another. The soldier winked.

"Nay"--Calote cried; "he 's kind!"

"Poor wench!" said Haukyn. "Hearken! I saw him go to thee where thou
wert asleep, at dawn; he knelt beside thee. When I came nigh he
turned, and thrust a bright something in 's tabard."

"Ah, woe, harrow!" said she.

"Now 't is plain why he 's gone so early to the Fair," quoth Nicholas,
a-shaking his head.

"He 's never gone to the Fair," said the beggar craftily. "Trust him,
he 'll show his face here no more. He 'll take horn to Lancashire or
York. He 'll be afeared to sell it in Chester with the maid so nigh."

Calote was looking from one to another, distressful. When she spoke,
her voice was very low.

"I 'll go after him," she said. "I 'll follow, and find him, or the
horn. Oh, cruel, cruel! Good-day, sweet friends; my heart is heavy
within me."

Some of them, the women and the other villeins, and the murderer, went
with her to put her on the high road, making loud lament; but Symme
and Haukyn and the soldier looked on one another with a wink and a
nod, and turned their faces to Chester.

"Best let her go," said Nicholas. "'T will save the peddler a lie and
me the wooing o' two maids side by side."

"A pretty maid," murmured Symme. "'T made mine eyes water to see her
sorrow."

The beggar said nothing till he saw the peddler coming up the road;
then he laughed and grumbled out:--

"So, he 's honest,--more fool!"

The peddler came on smiling, and they caught him about the neck and
looked covetous in his eyes, and thrust their fingers in his breast
and his girdle, with:--

"Hast sold it?"

"Ha, ha, good cheap?"

"Fifteen pound?"

He pushed them away, and "Let 's sit," he said, "wh-where 's shade.
Th-the sun 's hot as s-summer to-day."

So they sat down under a half-naked tree, and when he had taken the
pouch out of his tabard, he undid the mouth and let flow out the gold
and silver stream.

They sat and stared.

After a little the beggar thrust a dirty hand into the pile and let
the moneys slip between his fingers. Symme began to cry for joy, and
the soldier to laugh.

"Fifteen pound!" blubbered Symme.

"We 'll give each his share, and then to Chester," cried Nicholas,
shoving the beggar's greedy hand aside. "Come, count!"

"W-what for a t-tale have ye to t-tell the maid of her horn?" asked
the peddler, scanning them each in turn.

"Ho, ho!" laughed Nicholas, "'t is already told. Hearken, brother! 'T
is a merry gest; thou art saved a sad hour;--and I 'll keep mine old
love. I 'm a constant man."

Symme dried his eyes and snickered.

"The white-faced sister o' the lad must needs see the horn," Nicholas
continued. "Symme here would have hindered; but no, Calote put her
hand in the bag and plucked out--ha, ha!"

They laughed, all three, and the peddler knit his brows.

"What next?" quoth he.

"'T was plain the horn was stolen, but who cared lay claim to be a
thief?" went on Nicholas. "Thou wert away,--we fixed the theft o'
thee."

"I thank ye of your courtesy," said the peddler.

"Nay, naught 's to fear," Symme assured him; "she 's gone."

"Gone!" cried the peddler, leaping to his feet.

"Yea, to find thee and punish."

"Which way,--not by Chester?"

"Nay, trust to us; we set her o' the wrong track. She went eastward
and north on the highway."

But ere Symme had said the last word, the peddler was off; and those
others sat agape. Then Symme's eye caught the glitter of the gold.

"Come back,--come back!" he bawled. "Wilt have thy share?"

But the beggar choked him and the soldier dealt him a knock in the
paunch. And whether the peddler heard or no, he did not turn back.

He took a short way through the wood and came out on the road not so
far behind Calote, and she, looking backward, saw him. In the first
moment she began to run away, but presently she bethought her how 't
was silly to flee from a thief she had set out to take; and because he
still came on at a good pace, she sat down on a stone to wait for him.
So, at last, he came up panting and wiping the sweat from his face.

"Oh, thou wicked, cruel wight!" she cried. "Thou false friend!--I
trusted thee. Alack!--I trusted thee!"

"L-l-lll-l- ww-w-," said the peddler, striving for his breath.

"Hast sold the horn?--hast sold it, thou roberd?" quoth she very
violently, wringing her hands.

"N-nay, nor stole it, neither," he answered at last; and he took off
his hood and shook the horn out of the point into her hand.

She stood in amaze.

"But 't was stole out o' my bag," she said.

"N-not by me," he made reply. "An I had chose, I might have s-stole it
many a time in a s-solitary place where were no eye to see me take it.
I m-might have s-sold it t-ten time over."

"Then who stole it?" she cried. "Was 't a jest? A sorry jest, God wot!
Nor no jest, neither, for they let me go on my way. Did they know?"

"L-let well alone, mistress!" said the peddler. "He-he-here 's the
horn."

"Nay, but I will be told," she persisted. "What 's this thou 'rt
keeping from me? I 'll go back to the wood and bid Symme Tipuppe rede
the riddle. He was a kindly man."

She turned away, but the peddler stayed her with his hand.

"He-hear then, an thou wilt," said he. "But I warn thee, go not
b-back."

So he told her the tale of how they coveted the horn, and how he made
shift to save it for her; and she listened with a still face. At the
end she dropped her head upon her arms and wept silently a long while.

"L-look up,--take heart!" said the peddler. "The ho-horn 's safe."

"But they are thieves and liars," she answered wearily. "What hope?"

"Thou hast eat st-stolen meat this fortnight," the peddler declared;
"yet didst thou m-make no ou-ou-outcry."

She lifted up her head and stared on him: "But this is not the same,"
she said. "That meat we did eat ought, by right, to be the meat of
every man, not lords' only."

"So said Haukyn o' the horn. ''T is King's, quotha; 'King will sell 't
for his people if they will ha-have it.'"

She was silent a little space; then she said: "But they took it away
by stealth. Ah, woe,--they did not ask me!--They stole it!--And I
brought them a message of love."

"Th-they had no money in their purse. They saw other men go by to the
Fair."

"'T was not as if 't were mine own," she protested; "but a token, that
I might be known to speak for the King. Ah, bitter--cruel!"

"Th-they said, 'The King can give her another,--he ha-hath a plenty.'"

"Natheless, they are thieves,--roberds,--liars! What hope? What hope?"

"Who made them so?" quoth the peddler.--"The same that m-made them
outlaws, and m-murderers;--I begin to s-see 't is the lords of
England! Th-these do I blame! Wi-wilt thou forsake thy brothers for
th-that they 're sinful? We be all sinful m-men. Come!--th-the
message!"

She got up from the roadside stone and dried her eyes, and walked with
him, but in a dreary silence. For many a mile they went on in this
fashion. At even they came to a farm-house, and Calote went in and
sang for her supper. The farmer's wife was alone, and she gave Calote
a bed gladly, but she drove out the peddler,--who was peddler no
longer,--for that she was afeared of his strange looks.

"But he 'll pay for 's bed," said Calote.

"N-nay, mistress," the peddler answered. "I 've n-no money but three
groat. Th-those must wait for a r-rainy day. 'T is fresh i' the
fields." So he went out of the house; and she, remembering why he had
no money, wept sorrowfully. Nevertheless, she did not know how great a
sum he had paid for the horn.



                            CHAPTER VII

                    The Adventure in Yorkshire


The second winter of this pilgrimage was a snowy one, and the North
Country was a lonely place. Among those thinly scattered villages
Calote and the peddler had fared very ill, but for the old-time virtue
of hospitality, and the joy of minstrelsy, wherein the northern folk
vaunted themselves. The winds that blew across the moors were cold and
keen; the sea, whensoever the pilgrims came to the sea, was gray. The
peddler's lute cracked; it gave them warmth for half an hour one
night, and then the wind scattered its ashes. Once, a shepherd saved
them from white death.

Yet, 't was not all silence and snow. There were friendly days and
nights by the tavern fire, when Calote sang of William and the
Werwolf, of Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight, of Launcelot, of
Aucassin and Nicolette. Or, haply, some shepherd, thawing before the
blaze, would let loose a roaring voice in one of Lawrence Minot's
songs; those songs of the battles of King Edward III., Halidon Hill,
and Berwick, and Neville's Cross. Anon, there would be told tales of
Earl Percy. And Calote, who had listened while Londoners scorned this
great man, for that he was second only to John of Gaunt in craft and
hateful wickedness, sat now with open mouth to hear him praised of his
own folk, who loved him; neither had they any wish to cast him down
from his place and rule by their own wits. For, except it were in
Newcastle, Calote found few who hearkened patiently to her tale of the
ploughman. So she turned southward, sick at heart; and spring awaking
found her on the Yorkshire wolds, very thin and weary and ragged; and
the peddler likewise. Here, where John of Gaunt was lord, they found
many to listen willingly to their message. Yet was Calote unsatisfied.

"'T is ever their own small grievance that maketh them rage," she
sighed. "The bailiff hath fined this one, or set that one in the
stocks, and so they 'll willingly join the Brotherhood to spite the
bailiff. No doubt there be certain bailiffs that do their devoir
faithful, and there be certain villeins that under these laws do
deserve the fine or the stocks. But if a man is friend to the bailiff,
and hath enough to eat, how slow is he to see that he 's a slave; how
slow is he to take keep if other men starve or no! Alas! Alack!"

"W-Wat Tyler 's one that hath enough to-to-to eat," said the peddler.

"Yea," she answered slowly; "but I fear me Wat doth not all for the
people's sake. He 's a proud man, Wat."

"J-J-Jack Straw?" quoth the peddler.

"Talk not to me of Jack Straw," she cried. "Would that I could trust
Jack Straw! He must not come at the King. Where 's a true man to lead
the people? Thou might'st, well, peddler,--but for thy stammering
tongue."

He sunk his chin on his breast and strode beside her, dogged, silent.

One day they came to a manor-house, very grim, and moated round about;
and as they stood on the edge of the moat, looking in, there rode by
three damsels with falcons on their wrists, and a page boy with them
who hollaed to let down the drawbridge. Now while as they waited, and
the bridge creaked, one of those damsels espied Calote, and marvelled
at the colour of her hair which blew about her face.

"Come hither, wench!" said this maiden, whose name was Eleyne. "Art
thou a jongleuse?"

"I can sing a many tales, madame," Calote answered.

"Ah, Saint Mary! bring her in!" cried another of the damsels; the
fairest this one, hight Godiyeva.

"Yonder fellow, hath he his wits?" asked the youngest of the three,
and she pointed at the peddler.

"His wits, yea, madame; but not his tongue," said Calote.

"Haply he 'll dance, or leap, or twirl swords on his finger tip?"
Godiyeva averred. "We 're so dull; hath been no minstrel nor jongleur,
nor bearward even, at our gate for nigh on three moons."

"Canst thou do any of these things?" Calote asked the peddler; but he
shook his head.

"Natheless, mesdames, he 's as hungry as I be. Prythee let him dine,"
she pleaded.

"Let him labour, forsooth," answered Eleyne. "A carl so sturdy, so
young, and a beggar? For shame!"

"I 'll gladly sing for two," Calote protested.

"N-nay, mistress, g-go in," said the peddler; "I-I-I 'll linger
hereabout."

So the three damsels and the page clattered over the drawbridge, which
was now let down, and Calote followed on her feet.

These three maids were daughters of a certain Sir Austin, the lord of
the manor, a fat, red old man, a glutton and a widower. Even now, he
stood in the hall a-fuming for his dinner, which the steward brought
in hot from the kitchen so soon as the ladies came through the door.
He rated them harshly for their tardiness, and they passed him by with
sullen, haughty faces, stepping to the dais; only the youngest clipped
him round the neck and set her lips to his with a loud smack and a
merry laugh, so that he was fain to smile at her, and stint his
grumbling.

Calote sat below the dais at the long board, betwixt a waiting-woman
and a friar; over against her sat the bailiff, and leered at her, and
would have fed her sweet morsels on the end of his dagger but she drew
backward; whereat they all laughed loud, and the bailiff turned purple
and ugly, and the friar twisted on the bench to have a long look at
her. This was the first time ever Calote had dined in a great house.
She could not but marvel at the strange dishes all spiced and covered
over with sauces. When she had drunk to the bottom of her cup of ale,
the friar filled it up again to the brim. When she would have eaten
her trencher bread, the waiting-woman, with a snort, jerked it from
her and tossed it into a basket where were other scraps of broken
food. After, when Sir Austin and his daughters had dipped their
fingers in water, and wiped them on a white linen towel, a page boy
came to Calote and bade her go sing her song. So she went and sat on
the dais step, and the youngest daughter, Custance, who sat now on her
father's knee a-munching sweets, leaned down smiling, and said she:--

"Whence art thou, not out o' the north, I trow, by thy tongue?"

"I live in London, fair lady," Calote made answer; and with that all
three cried out:--

"London! then haply thou hast a tale o' that poet, Dan Chaucer; he 's
in favour with the great Duke."

"Ay, mesdames; there 's one tale of his I know," said Calote, and
thereupon she told them of the Life of Saint Cecyle, and how she was
wedded to a young man, and an angel came down from heaven to twine
them with garlands of roses.

"Oh!" and "Ah!" said the damsels, smiling one on another; "a sweet
tale!"

And how the governor of the city cut off Cecyle's head, for that she
was a Christian. But she had a stubborn neck, would not break in three
blows o' the sword.

And "Oh!" and "Ah!" shrieked the damsels, clasping their white throats
with their soft fingers. "Tell on, tell on! A grisly tale!"

This was one of those jewels that Dan Chaucer after set in the chain
that he called the Canterbury Tales; nevertheless, at that time 't was
already cut in the rough, albeit not yet polished for the setting, and
Calote had heard it.

"Anon, anon!" cried Custance, when the tale was ended; and her father
being asleep, she slipped off his knee and sat down on the dais step
by the side of Calote, her chin in her hand.

"Nay, let them clear the hall," said Eleyne. "'T is late; I 've a gown
to mend. What say ye, if we keep the maid and hearken to but one tale
each day? So we 'll wile our tediousness."

So Calote stayed in the manor-house and slept of nights on a sheepskin
at the foot of Custance's bed.

The third day after her coming, Sir Austin held his court in the hall.
The bailiff was there and the reeve, and certain villeins that would
make complaint, or be complained against. And the peddler also was
there, set twixt the reeve and the bailiff. Sir Austin sat in his
great chair on the dais, and in the other end of the hall, against the
lancet windows, Eleyne, and Godiyeva, and Custance sat, sewing a seam.
Calote knelt at Custance's elbow, and they all four babbled soft of
Sir Gawaine, and drew their needles in and out, and lifted an eye now
and again to mark what was toward in the other end of the hall.

When first the peddler came in, he looked about him hastily, as one
seeking, but when he saw Calote, 't would seem as he sighed and stood
at his ease.

"Yon 's thy beggar, is 't not?" asked Custance of Calote.

And Calote answered her: "Yea, lady!" and henceforth was mindful of
him, and of the business.

There was one villein who craved leave to give his daughter in
marriage,--and he had brought the money to pay. There was another who
would be quit of his service of ploughing the lord's land, and he also
brought his pence and counted them out in his hand, and the lord took
them and gave him quittance for that time. In Yorkshire there were
many villeins might commute service thus, and welcome. There was
another had fought with his fellow in a tavern brawl, and both these
the lord sent to the stocks. There was a young shepherd come to ask
that he might have a lad with him to help him keep his flock; 't was a
great flock and strayed over the wolds.

"Hast thou such a lad, bailiff?" growled Sir Austin. There was gold in
wool,--'t were best keep it safe.

"Haply, Sir Austin," said the bailiff, and thrust forward the peddler.
"Here 's an idle fellow hath dawdled twixt the manor and the village
these three days. He will not go, he will not stay; knoweth not his
own mind. There 's enough idlers among them that make pretence to
labour, and shall I countenance sloth that 's avowed open?"

"I-I-I 'm a free man," said the peddler.

"A pox o' free men!" shouted Sir Austin. "No man is free to eat his
head off in idleness o' my land. Wilt begone?"

"I-I-I," stammered the peddler, looking on Calote, who had drawn nigh
the better to learn what was going forward.

"Wilt stay?" roared Sir Austin.

Again the peddler looked on Calote.

"'T is a kind man," said she, going up to the dais. "Hath done me much
service in my wanderings. 'S tongue 's slow."

Sir Austin smiled on her.

"A man plougheth not with his tongue, wench," said he. "Neither hath
he need of 's tongue to mind sheep, but if he whistle. Hark ye, rogue,
I 'll give thee another day to gather together thy slow wits;
thereafter thou 'lt labour, or get thee gone,--else I 'll make thee
free o' the stocks."

The villeins and other servitors were now lagging forth of the hall,
and mid the noise and stir the peddler said to Calote, hastily:--

"D-dost thou bide long i-in this place?"

"How can I tell?" she answered.

"Wh-when thou art ready to begone, thou 'lt find me sh-shepherding on
the wolds. Meanwhile, k-keep thy dagger loose in its sheath."

Then he left her and went to the edge of the dais.

"S-sir Knight, I-I 'll make shift to aid thy sh-shepherd," he said.
And presently he was gone out with the villeins.

Calote walked down the hall to the windows, pondering. She had kept
her dagger secret even from this peddler. How should he know? Yet, 't
were a simple thing, no doubt; her gown was ragged. But at night, when
she lay on the sheepskin a-turning over the day in her mind, she asked
herself why the peddler should stay for her.

"Alas,--wehl awey!" she sighed, and her face burned in the dark.

After a little she said again: "Wehl awey!"

The heather was not in blossom, but the breath of spring sweetened the
wolds. Diggon the shepherd gave his new man a sheepskin to warm him
in, and together they two kept the flock. Out in the lonely open the
peddler forsook his stammer as much as he might, for the nonce; yet
now and again 't would master him against his will, and so did all his
life after. If a man hold his unruly member halting two year, 't will
take revenge.

This Diggon, shepherd, was a gentle being, with a mind like to the
Yorkshire wolds, filled full of space, and sky and silence. Whiles,
likewise, was his mind purple-clad; then he 'd speak slow words
concerning God, and the creatures, and life. Last Christmas Eve he
heard the angels singing in heaven, he said. The night of Good Friday,
three weeks past, he had a vision of the Rood.--The peddler crossed
himself.--One day he lost a lamb, and when he had searched from noon
till sunset, and the sea mist was coming in, he met a man larger than
life, carried the young lamb in his arm.

When the peddler told him the tale of Piers Ploughman, he listened
with a great joy in his eyes.

"In that day," quoth he, "they 'll cease to ride the hunt across the
wolds and scatter the sheep."

When the peddler instructed him of the Fellowship that was joining
hand over all England, he rubbed his head, perplexed.

"We been brothers and Christen men ever," he said. "Here 's no new
thing."

Of new laws and new masters and freedom he took no keep.

"Am I not free?" he asked, and spread his arms out east and west, as
to gather in the moors.

"But all men are not so content as thou," said the peddler. "They are
ill-fed, they must work without stint. Wilt not thou join hand to help
them that suffer?"

"Yea, brother," Diggon answered him; "yea!" But then he knit his
brows, and, "If all we go up to London to reason with nobilité, who
'll take care o' the sheep?"

The peddler sat silent, abashed; till on a sudden Diggon threw his
head back and laughed, with "Who but the Good Shepherd!--Diggon 's a
fool!"

So the days passed, and the peddler waited for Calote. She, meanwhile,
was taken into favour at the manor-house. Old Sir Austin would chuck
her under chin and follow her with his watery eyes in a way that she
mistrusted. She wondered that the daughters observed naught; but they
paid little heed to their father. The youngest loved him as a spoiled
child will, for sake of gain; but the other two were peevish if he
spoke to them.

Godiyeva he had thwarted in a marriage with a lord's son, with whom he
was at feud, and she could not forget. In truth, he was so quarrelsome
that his neighbours shunned his company; and he, on his part, cast
gibes upon his daughters, for that they could not get them husbands.

"Is one comfort," said Eleyne on a day when he had baited them till
they wept for rage and shame. "Is one comfort; if no gentlemen will
come anigh this house, will no gentlewoman neither. They be all
afeared o' thee. If we must dwell here forlorn, we are spared a
step-dame. Is none would live thy cat and dog life."

"Sayst thou so? Sayst thou so, hussy?" roared the knight, and would
have struck her; but his eye lighted on Calote,--he let drop his hand.
"Sayst thou so?" he repeated more softly, and went out chuckling.

"Thou fool!" said Godiyeva to her sister. "What maggot hast thou put
in 's head?"

'T was the day next after this one that Calote chose to tell them the
tale of the Ploughman. She had been of three minds not to tell it at
all; but then she called herself a coward. Of Richard she had never
spoke, nor showed the horn, and she did not now. After supper she told
her tale, and she said by way of a beginning:--

"This is the last tale I have to tell, mesdames. To-morrow,--or 't
maybe the next day, for 't is a long tale,--I must give you thanks of
your courtesy, and begone."

"Ah, stay, and tell them all again!" cried Custance. "We 've not been
so merry since Godiyeva's lover flouted her."

"Peace!" said Eleyne, and Godiyeva's lovely face flamed red.

The old knight chuckled in the chimney corner. He did not snooze
to-night, as was his wont; he sat a-blinking on Calote, and sipping
his piment, slow. Calote crouched on a low stool, with her face to the
fire.

"In a summer season when soft was the sun"--she began, and at the
first she spoke hastily, and with a little quaver in her voice. She
knew not how they might take this tale.

They took it for a jape, a jest; they laughed. Lady Mede and her
sisours and summoners made them very merry. When Repentance called the
Seven Sins to confession, and the tale was told of Glutton in the
tavern, Sir Austin doubled him up with a loud guffaw and nigh fell
into the fire. When Piers Ploughman put up his head, the damsels
squealed for joy. When he, this same Piers, set the ladies of the
Vision to sew sacking, and the Knight to keep the land freed of foes,
Sir Austin's daughters held their sides, and rocked back and forth,
the while mirthful tears fell down their faces.

Then Calote lost her patience and forgot to be afraid. She stood up on
her feet and faced them with her head high:--

"Natheless, all this shall come to pass!" she cried. "This is a true
word. No Goliardeys, I, but a sober singer. 'T is the ploughman, the
poor man, shall lead all ye to truth. The rich shall give of their
wealth to the poor, in that day; no man shall go naked and hungry.
Fine ladies and maids like to me shall love one another."

Her voice broke, and she put out her hands to the three fair damsels
that sat on a bench and stared:--

"I pray you pardon, sweet my ladies, but this matter lieth close to my
heart."

They laughed kindly, and Eleyne said:--

"We 'll love thee for the sake of thy tales, wench, and forgive thee
this once that thou art froward."

"List, child," said Godiyeva; "the poor is not so greatly to be
pitied. I 'd liefer be a glee maiden, free to wander in all England,
welcome in every hall and cot,--I 'd liefer be a houseless wench, say
I, than--than this that I am." And Godiyeva arose, lifted her arms
wearily above her head, and paced down the hall into the shadows.

"If thou wert gowned in soft stuffs, and thy hair in a net and a
horned cap atop,"--Custance mused idly, looking Calote up and
down,--"methinks,--methinks,"--hereupon she clapped her hands and
leaped to her feet. "Whyfore no? Come, wench, I 've a gown in my chest
is too short for me. Here 's a merry sport. We 'll make thee a lady
for the nonce."

"Ay, do!" cried the knight; and presently slapped his leg, and laughed
as at a secret thought.

"Nay, lady," Calote protested; but Custance had her by the hand
dragging her from the room.

"Thou 'lt spoil the wench," said Eleyne; "is over bold now." And
Godiyeva curled her lip scornfully.

Sir Austin laughed yet more loud, and bade his youngest daughter make
haste. So Custance caught a lighted cresset from the wall, and hurried
Calote up the stair. And Calote, when she saw the azure gown broidered
with gold about the hem, and the pointed crimson shoes, and the high
cap of green and rose colour with its floating silken veil, made no
more protest; for she was young, and a woman.

When all was done, her tiring maid drew back in dumb amaze; then took
her hand and led her down to the hall.

At Calote's heart there was a fierce pain.

"Oh, Stephen!" she cried within herself; "oh, Stephen!" Yet what this
was that so hurt her she did not ask.

In the hall there was dead silence for the space of a minute. Then the
knight came out of his chimney corner a step:--

"God's bones!" quoth he in a half whisper; and Calote, looking in his
face, knew that she must go away from this house as soon as might be.
She set her hand to her breast and fingered the hilt of the dagger,
where she had thrust it unseen of Custance.

"A common peasant! 'T is amazing!" exclaimed Eleyne.

"I knew she was very fair," said Godiyeva quietly.

"Doth not my pearl net gleam against her gold hair?" cried Custance,
and swept a low curtsey before this new-made lady.

"To-night ye may thank Saint Mary your many wooers be not by, my
daughters," mocked them Sir Austin; and Godiyeva tossed her head.

"Tell me, wench," he continued, "'t would like thee well to be a
lady?"

Calote, her heart aching with the thought of Stephen, answered him
proudly:--

"I might be one, an I would."

But immediately she could have bit out her tongue, for the knight had
set his own meaning upon her words.

"So ho!" quoth he. "What a witch art thou! Ha, ha, ha!"

"Sir, you mistake," she said coldly. "I have been sought in honourable
marriage by a gentleman, but I would not."

"And if once sought, wherefore not again?--Wherefore not again?" he
asked with a cunning grin, wagging his head.

His three daughters had drawn close together at one side of the
hearth; there was anger, astonishment, and fear in their faces.
Suddenly the old man turned on them roughly:--

"Get ye gone!" he said. "Off!--To bed!--I 've a delicate business with
this--ha, ha--this lady."

"'T is shameful!" cried Godiyeva. "I 'll not budge,--a common wench, a
stroller."

"Oh, father, wilt thou so shame us?" moaned Eleyne.

"'T is but another jest, dear father; say 't is thy sport," Custance
pleaded.

But for answer he took up his riding-whip and laid it about their
shoulders so smartly that they fled from the hall shrieking and
cursing him.

A page thrust his head in at the door, but quickly drew it forth
again. An old woman that had been asleep in a corner got up and
hobbled out in haste. The dogs put tail between their legs and slunk
under the settle. Calote, in the firelight, waited. Her knees shook,
yet she was not afraid.

When he had cleared the hall the knight threw away his whip, came back
to the fire, took the remainder of his piment at one gulp, and hurled
the goblet to the far end of the hall.

"So, my lady; wilt have me on my knees, for the more honour?" said he;
and she let him grunt, and crack his old joints, for that she knew he
could not readily get up if he were once kneeling.

"Now, hearken!" he bade her. "Wilt dwell here and tame yon proud
damsels, and shame 'em? I 'm sick o' daughters; I 'd have a son to
lean on in mine age. Come,--I 'll marry thee honest. Thou shalt be the
envy of all York. Thou shalt wear silken gowns. Here 's a happy
life,--no sleeping under hedge nor in the open. So thou do my pleasure
I 'll never harm thee. The one that 's gone had never a harsh word
from me till the third daughter came, and that was past any man's
patience t' endure. By Holy Cuthbert, I swear thou art lovelier than
any court lady ever I saw,--and I 've been in Edward's court,--yea,
and in France likewise. Kiss me, wench!--By Saint Thomas, but I will
kiss thee whether or no!"

He stumbled and staggered to his feet and came at her with a lurch,
for his head was dizzy with wine and pleasure.

"Sir, I will not marry no knight,--nor lord of a manor,--unless he set
free all his villeins," she said, and slipped aside. "Neither will I
kiss any man for love, till we be promised together."

"Free my villeins, pardé," he cried. "Do I not take quit-rent of the
half of them even now? They be as good as freed."

"But I will have them altogether freed."

He sat down in the chimney corner and wiped his brow:--

"Pish! Here 's not a matter to be decided without law and lawyers. I
must think on 't. Come hither, my lady; give me good-night."

But when he saw that she moved away to the door, he sprang up heavily
and caught her about the middle.

"Sir," she panted, "methought 't was thy mood to shame thy daughters;
yet this shameth only me."

"True!" he said; "my daughters!"--and let her go. "But I 'll not be so
patient another night. We 'll have a priest on the morrow."

"First, free thy villeins!" she made answer, and slipped through the
door.

Above stairs she found the three damsels crouched on one bed, their
heads together. Godiyeva hurled a foul name upon her as she entered.

"Peace!" said she. "Your father hath consented to wait till the morrow
morn. Now, if ye are not minded to have a step-dame ruling here, make
haste to strip me of these fine clothes, and show me a way to depart
softly while 't is yet dark."

"Thou wilt go!" queried Godiyeva.

For answer, Calote took off the bright cap from her head and kicked
away the crimson shoes. Then distance set to work hastily to undo the
gown, and the dagger fell out and rattled to the floor. Godiyeva
carried it to the light, looked at it, and brought it back, but asked
no question.

"Why dost thou wear this bag under thy gown?" said Custance.

"For safety, madame," Calote replied, and thrust her arms into the
sleeves of her old russet.

Custance still held the bag, but no one dared ask further.

"I will take her down the other stair to the water-gate and put her in
the boat," said Godiyeva.

"God and Saint Mary bless thee!" whispered Eleyne, and would have
pressed silver into her hand, but Calote shook her head and smiled.

Custance kissed her.

At the water-gate there floated a little boat, and Godiyeva got into
this with her and sent it across the moat in three strong shoves of a
pole.

"Which way is the shepherd's way, where the flock is?" asked Calote.

"To southward of here," Godiyeva answered; and then, "I repent me of
that name I called thee."

"Dear lady," said Calote, "I 'll pray Christ Jesus and Mary his
mother, that they send thee happiness."

So she went away into the night, beneath the pale shine of a waning
moon, and Godiyeva crossed the moat, and climbed the stair.

"'T was a hunting horn she had in her bag," whispered Custance. "I
felt the form of it under the flannel. Dost believe she 's that chaste
fairy lady, Dian, the poets sing?"

"Nay, she 's a woman, like to us," said Godiyeva, and lay down on her
bed.

Out on the wolds Diggon and the peddler had built a fire to warm a
new-born lamb. The while they sat with their arms about their knees,
looking into the fire, they spoke of Christ's Passion, and death. Said
the peddler, out of the Vision:--

   "'One like to the Samaritan and a little like to Piers the Plowman,
     Barefoot on an asse's back, bootless, came riding,
     Without spurs or spear, sprightly he looked,
     As is the manner of a knight that cometh to be dubbed.
     "This Jesus, of his noble birth, will joust in Piers' arms,
     In his helm and his habergeon--_humana natura_;
     In Piers Plowman's jacket this pricker shall ride."'"

"Poor men been greatly honoured, 't is true," said Diggon. "Behoves us
do best, that Christ be not shamed to ride in our armour. Natheless, I
find it hard to believe as how Sir Austin will clip me and kiss me and
call me brother. Sir Austin 's a proud man,--lord o' the manor,--and I
a silly shepherd. Christ knoweth us poor,--for that he came to earth a
poor man. He put our garb upon him. Till Sir Austin and his ilk do put
them in poor men's weeds and ploughman's weeds and shepherd's weeds,
how shall they know what 't is I suffer, or that rejoiceth me? Men
know that they live. Small blame to Sir Austin, or to the King."

"O Diggon,--my brother! This is a true word," cried the peddler. "Let
them don thy russet, and labour with thee, and starve with thee, and
they 'll love thee and give thee the kiss of a friend,--even as I
do,--O Diggon,--even as I do!" And the peddler cast his arms about the
shepherd, and kissed him on each cheek, and they two smiled happily
the one upon the other in the firelight.

Then the peddler took up the tale of how Christ Jesus was crucified,
and two thieves with him, and after, he began to speak of the
harrowing of hell, and of Mercy and Peace that kissed each other.

   "'And there I saw surely
     Out of the west coast a wench as me thought,
     Came walking in the way--to--'"

said he, and when he had said it he felt Diggon's hand on his arm.

"She cometh," whispered Diggon.

And there, on the other side of the fire, stood a maiden.

"I go to Londonward," she said. "I came hither, for that I knew 't
would grieve thee if I set forth secretly. Natheless, is no need that
thou follow. I am not afeared of the night, nor no other thing."

"Wilt thou not w-wait for the day?" asked the peddler, rising up.

"If I wait, there shall be done me a great honour. The lord of the
manor purposeth to make me his wife."

"Saint Christopher!" cried the peddler, and turned in haste to the
shepherd: "Diggon, dear brother; fare thee well! This is m-my lady; I
must follow her."

"Hail, maiden!" said Diggon. "Art thou Mercy, or Truth, or Peace, or
Rightwisnesse?"

"None of these,--but handmaid to Truth," the peddler answered for her;
and when he had kissed Diggon he took Calote by the hand and led her
away. And Diggon was left by the fire with the new-born lamb.

"T-tell me!" the peddler questioned after a little.

So she told him all, and at the end of the tale she said:--

"Natheless, 't is not for his wooing that I 'm ashamed and weary; but
they laughed at the Vision. They laughed!--They thought 't was all a
jape. Wherefore should they fear the peasants,--the poor rude
men,--wherefore should any fear such simple folk? Who is 't knoweth
better than I how weak Piers Ploughman is? Were I a lady, with the
poor fawning about my heel,--and one sang that these should deliver
the land, I 'd laugh too. They 'll fail--Dost thou not know they 'll
fail? Ah, woe,--alas!"

"R-Roland of Roncesvalles, though he lost, yet did he win," said the
peddler. "Jesus Christ d-died on cross. Hearken to the Vision:--

    'After sharp showers, quoth Peace, most glorious is the sun;
     Is no weather warmer than after watery clouds.
     Ne no love dearer, nor dearer friends,
     Than after war and woe when Love and Peace be masters
     Was never war in this world, nor wickedness so keen,
     That Love, an him list, might not bring it to laughter,
     And Peace through patience all perils stopped.'"



                           CHAPTER VIII

                           The Believers


Out of a lonely land of moor and fen and scattered shepherds, Calote
came down into the stir and bustle of the eastern counties. Almost,
she had come to believe there were no men in England, but two or
three; so, for a little, her heart was lifted up when she saw the
villages set so close as to join hands and kiss; when she saw the
high road and the lanes alive with wayfarers; when she saw men in every
field,--idle men for the most part. Yet was her joy soon turned to
terror.

If the folk of the north were slow to kindle and loth to learn, 't was
not so with them of Norfolk and Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. These men
were John Ball's men, and Wat Tyler's, and Jack Straw's. Already they
had their lesson by heart. Nevertheless, to Calote's thinking, they
had not learned it aright.

"Ah, woe! better the sloth and dulness of west and north than this
quick hate," she sighed to the peddler. "There 's murder in these
hearts."

And this was true.

One day, when she was preaching Piers Ploughman to a great crowd, and
how he set straight the kingdom and gave each man work to do and bade
the wasters go hungry,--and all that company of an hundred and more
men and women stood about, chaunting the words of the Vision till the
roar of it might be heard half a mile,--there came by a man-of-law on
a hackney, was seen of those that stood at the edge of the throng. He
set spurs to his horse, but to no purpose; all that rout was upon him.
They beat him, and tore his clothes into ribands. His ink-horn they
emptied on his head, and made of his saddle-bags and parchments a very
stinking bonfire. And all the while they shrieked: "Thou wilt write us
in bondage, wilt thou?"--"We be slaves, be we, bound to the
soil?"--"Slit 's lying tongue!"--"Pluck out 's eyes!"

After a little while they left him half dead, and Calote wiped his
bloody face, and the peddler caught his horse and set him on it. Then
came the sheriff and his men that way and set Calote and the peddler
in the stocks, for that they had gathered the people together and made
a tumult. But the people hewed the stocks to splinters so soon as the
sheriff's back was turned.

Another day, by the side of a pond, they came upon a rabble that
ducked a monk of Bury, and but that Calote sounded her horn and so
drew the mischievous folk to listen to her message, the unhappy monk
had surely come to his death.

Once, when a certain lord was away from his manor, Calote was by when
the lord's people burned his ricks. This was in the night, and all the
villeins made a ring about the fire and danced, and sang:--

   "'When Adam delved and Eve span,
     Who was then the gentleman?'"

Neither did the bailiff dare come forth of the house to check them,
for that they said they would cast him into the fire. And so they
would.

The leader of all these Norfolk and Suffolk men was one John Wrawe,
and when he heard Calote was come into the country he went to meet her
and made much of her, and took her to this town and that, to blow her
horn and speak her message. Old women that had seen the plague of '49
came out of their cots to kiss her hand and call her to deliver them.
Young mothers held their babes before her face and bade her free them.
Here and there, a knight that was for the people, but not yet openly,
took her into his house, as Sir Thomas Cornerd, and Richard Talmache
de Bently, and Sir Roger Bacon, and she heard how well ordered was
this plot.

"'T will be the signal when Parliament votes the new poll-tax," they
said.

For that there must soon be another poll-tax all England was very
sure.

"Let us home," said Calote. "Let us home and find Wat. They must not
rise so soon. They are not ready; and 't is Wat can stop it; none
other. To rise for vengeance' sake, and hate, and to pay a
grudge,--ah, what a foul wrong is this!"

'T was an autumn evening when Calote and the peddler, footsore,
sun-browned, in tatters, came through the Ald Gate into London. A-many
men stood about in groups up and down the street, as men will stand in
a marketplace to chaffer and wrangle and gossip; yet these stood
silent. The street was a-flutter with much speaking, but no one spoke;
the air pricked. Now and again a man looked out of himself with a
waiting gaze and the face of a sleep-walker. There was slow shifting
of feet, sluggish moving to one side to let folk pass.

"How changed is London in two year!" Calote half whispered to her
companion.

"He-here they are ready," said the peddler. "Th-they do but wait."

Presently they met Hobbe Smith, and he, when he saw Calote, grinned
and capered, and cried out, "Ho, mistress!" very joyously. And then,
"News?" Whereupon other heads were turned to look.

"I am come from Yorkshire, down the east coast," said Calote. "At
Norwich we have many friends. At Bury Saint Edmunds let the monks look
to 't. At Cambridge and Saint Albans they wait the word."

"All this is known," answered Hobbe, and turned to walk with them.

"Tell me of my father," said Calote. "Is he well?"

"Yea, well. I cannot make out thy father; he 's a riddle. No man ought
to be more rejoiced than he, of"--Hobbe left his sentence hanging and
began a new one: "Yet he pulleth a long face."

"And my mother 's well?"

"Ay, Kitte 's well."

"And thou, Hobbe?"

He laughed and grew red. "I 'm married, mistress. Thou wert so long
away. There 's a little Hobbe."

Then Calote laughed likewise, and seeing her mother down the street at
their door, she began to run.

Kitte kissed her, and crushed her close, and at the last said:--

"How will thy father be rejoiced to know thee safe!" Then, "Who 's
this?" quoth she; and there stood the peddler, waiting.

"'T is an honest man hath holpen me in many a sore strait, mother;
cannot speak plain."

"So!" said Kitte, and continued to look at him over her daughter's
head thoughtfully.

"G-give you good-even, m-mistress!" said the peddler.

"Good-even, friend!" said Kitte, and added in a voice assured and
quiet: "I know thy face."

"H-haply," he answered, and albeit he knew that he was found out he
did not turn away his eyes from hers.

"Come in, and sup," said she; "Will 's late;" and she laid her arm
about the peddler's shoulder, and kissed his cheek.

They sat late that night. Wat and Jack Straw came in with Langland,
and there was clipping and kissing and rattle of tongues.

"Ah, but how 't is sweet to hear again London speech!" sighed Calote,
"and thy voice, my father!"

'T was told in the tavern as how Calote was come back, and Dame Emma
must needs run across to welcome the maid. After, she sent in of her
pudding-ale, the best, that sold for fourpence the gallon, for that
Calote's health might be drunk. She was a kindly soul, Dame Emma, a
friend to villeins and poor labourers.

Calote sat on her father's knee, and ate and drank, and laughed for
joy of home-coming. But presently, when Wat Tyler besought her for
news, and Jack Straw smiled and said: "Didst mark our Essex men, how
ready they be, like an arrow that 's nocked to the string and waits
but the touch to let fly?" with other like boasting,--she grew grave,
she fell silent; and Jack and Wat, become aware of their own voices,
fell silent likewise; the one, a frown betwixt his heavy brows, the
other, his eyes half shut, the white lashes drooping,--his lips drawn
tight. Will Langland, with his faint prophetic smile, but eyes all
pity, waited, watching his daughter.

"'T will fail," she said at last, very quiet; but her father felt her
heart knock against his arm. "'T will fail, because the spring and
soul of it is hate, not love. Go yonder into Essex and Suffolk, where
I have been but now, and hear what fate men have in store for the Lord
Chief Justice! Go into Bury Saint Edmunds and mark the eyes of the
townsfolk when they take the prior's name upon their lips! Give God
thanks, Wat Tyler, that thou art not mayor o' Northampton!"

"These men are tyrants," cried Wat; "they have oppressed the people."

"What is to be a tyrant, Wat? To hold the people in the hollow of his
hand?--What dost thou hope to be one day? I mind me in Salisbury thou
didst assure me, 'Time shall be when these rustics shall follow me
with a single will,--as one man; and then shall we arise.'"

Jack Straw turned on his comrade a chilly smile, but said no word. Wat
swore and shuffled his feet.

"'T will fail," Calote began anew. "The poor is afeared to fight; do
but flash a sword in 's eye, he 'll shake. All they that make up our
Great Society be not honest folk, a-many is outlawed men, cut-purses,
murderers, wasters; all such is coward in their heart."

"Here 's what comes o' setting women to men's business, thou fool!"
Wat snarled upon Jack Straw, but Jack paid him no heed; instead he
crossed one leg over other, leaned his clasped hands on his knee, and
set his narrowed eyes upon the maid.

"And this is all to mean, no doubt," said he coldly, "that thou art
sick o' poor folk and their ways, and hankering after palace fare. Ah,
well, who shall blame a pretty wench!" He shrugged his shoulders and
uncrossed his legs, leaning forward on his elbows to speak the more
soft. "I heard tell, a year past, that a certain young squire, Stephen
Fitzwarine by name, was no longer about the King's person; 't was said
he had gone to Italy on a mission with Master Chaucer. But Master
Chaucer 's returned; I saw him yestere'en a-looking out of window in
his house above the Ald Gate. Haply, t' other 's to be found in
Westminster. Natheless, they do say these Italian wenches be like
hotsauce, do turn a man's stomach from sober victual."

To prove Calote and vent his own spleen Jack Straw said this; but he
reckoned without the peddler, who immediately rose up and cracked him
with his fist betwixt his insolent white-lashed eyes so that he fell
over backward on the floor and lay a-blinking.

"I thank thee, friend," said Langland.

"Thou 'rt well served, Jack," said Wat Tyler. "Get up and mind thy
manners!"

"I 'll kill him,--I 'll beat out 's brains," muttered Jack Straw, and
scrambled shakily to his knees.

"Thou 'lt touch no hair on 's head," Wat answered roughly. "Go kill
Calote her cowards! this one 's an honest man, shall be kept."

"Sh-shall I hi-hit him again, mistress?" asked the peddler.

"Nay, prythee, nay!" cried Calote. And to Jack Straw she said: "Thou
knowest well that I am not aweary of mine own folk, nor never shall
be. Yet, 't were pity if I might wander in England, up and down, two
year, and come home no wiser than afore. The people is not ready to
rise up. Each man striveth after his own gain, his own vengeance,--'t
is mockery to call it fellowship."

"Thou hast not journeyed in Kent; thou hast not heard John Ball," said
Wat, "else wouldst thou never say 't is hate is the soul and spring of
this uprising. What have the Kentish men to gain, of freedom, but here
and there the name of 't? They 're freest men in England, no fools
neither. 'T is for their brothers' sake they 'll rise; for Essex'
sake, where Christen men are sold to be slaves. Small wonder men are
slow to learn love in Essex. Come down to Canterbury, come down into
the Weald,--I 'll show thee fellowship that is no mockery."

"Then let 's be patient, Wat! Let 's wait till other shires be so wise
and loving as Kent!"

"Wait, quotha!" sneered Jack Straw. "And what hast thou been about,
this two year, that thou wert sent to learn them fellowship? I trow
there hath been little wisdom, but loving a-plenty,--in corners with
stray peddlers and packmen. 'Wait,' sayst 'ou? But I say 't is time!
Wherefore is not the people ready?"

Will Langland caught the peddler by the arm, and, "Jack," said he,
"whiles I do more than mouth words. What though I repent after, 't is
too late then, if thou art throttled."

"Nay, let me speak!" Calote importuned, thrusting aside her father.
"Wherefore is the people not ready, Jack Straw? Wherefore? For that in
so many shires where I came to preach love thou wert afore me and
preached hate. Two year is but short space to learn all England to
forget to hate, to bind all England in fellowship of love, so that if
a man fight 't is for his brother's sake. When this uprising faileth,
as 't will surely fail, do thou ask thine own soul where 's blame."

"Pah!--Have I a finger in this pie or no?" growled Wat. "I say 't will
not fail. Do not I know my London? Is not Kent sure, and Essex, and
the eastern counties? These men are mine! Whatsoever else they hate,
yet do they love me! They 'll do my bidding, I promise thee."

"I 'd liefer they did Christ's bidding," said Calote. "Hark ye, Wat,
give me another two year, and do thou and Jack meanwhile preach
freedom only and forget private wrong. So we 'll be less like to
fail."

"There 's talk of another poll-tax," Wat answered gloomily. "No
Parliament will dare pass 't in London; but I make no doubt they 'll
sit elsewhere.--The people will not endure another poll-tax."

"Yet thou hast said the people love thee,--thou 'lt dare swear they
'll do thy bidding. An idle boast?"

The blood came slow into his swarthy face. "'T will not fail," he said
doggedly, and sat in brooding fashion grinding his heel upon the
earthen floor.

"When doth Parliament sit?" Calote asked him.

He got up, overthrowing the heavy oaken bench he had sat upon, and,
"So be it!" he cried hoarsely. "They shall not rise yet," and strode
to the door.

Jack Straw laughed.

"Thou white rat!" said Wat, with his hand on the latch; "dost think
they 'll follow thee? Do but essay them!"

"Nay," leered Jack, "I 'm for fellowship, brother! I 'll wait my turn
till thou hast stretched thy tether;" and went with him out on
Cornhill.

Langland thrust the bolt of the door presently, and bade the peddler
lie by the fire, if he would. So they all went to bed. But after a
little while, Kitte came down the stair again. She had a rough blanket
on her arm.

"'T is not so soft as thou hast slept on i' the King's Palace of
Westminster," said she, "but 't will keep thee from the chill o' the
floor."

"Ah, good mother," smiled the peddler, "'t is two year I have not
slept on a blanket."

"So long?" she queried--"And the maid so blind!"

"In the beginning I was a sorry wight," he answered. "Small wonder she
knew me not. But of late I have had no money to mend my thatch." He
tapped his rusty pate and laughed. "Moreover, the brown stain hath
worn off my face and hands; what 's left is sun only and wind. Neither
have I been at such pains to pluck out mine eyebrows this past
month,"--he laughed again and his stammer caught him,--"f-f-for
Richard's sake, and the court's. Three days since we slept in the fens
about Lincoln. When I awoke she sat staring on me:--"

"'Thou art so like--thou art so like,' she murmured, 'but no.'--Thou
'lt keep my secret, mother?"

"Oh, ay! I 'm a silent woman," she answered. "Thou hast not won her?"

"I have not wooed," he said.

She lifted her hand and made the sign of the cross betwixt his brow
and his breast. "Good-night, my son," said she.



                            CHAPTER IX

                      The Adventure in Kent


Calote was in Kent what time word came that the Parliament of
Northampton had passed a new poll-tax. It happened on this wise: Wat
Tyler went down into Kent to have speech of John Ball, who was not in
prison at that time, albeit hunted by the Archbishop's men,--and he
brought Calote with him. And in a little village midway twixt
Canterbury and Maidstone the priest met them. They went into the
tavern and the alewife set her best brew before them, and presently
slipped out to seek her gossips.

"This is the maid," said Wat.

John Ball's eyes, kindly, keen, smiling, drew her to him, also he held
out his hand. She came and stood beside his knee as he sat withdrawn
from the table a little way. So they looked each on other, she most
solemn, he tenderly amused.

"Long Will's daughter," he said; and after a little, "So thou hast
journeyed in England, south and north, to bring the message of
fellowship to the poor?"

"Yea, brother," she answered him.

"And thou sayest this people is not ready to rise up?"

"Yea, brother, I say so."

"Wherefore?"

"Two year is not long enough, John Ball."

"Two year!" quoth he, and smiled. "'T is twenty year I have not ceased
to preach this message. Thou wert not born, yet the people had heard
these things."

She flushed very hot and her lip quivered: "Though 't were forty
year,--the people is not ready," she made answer steadfast.

"They say there 's a woman of Siena learns Pope Urban his lesson,"
mused the priest, always his eyes fixed smiling on the maid; "God
forbid I should be behind Pope Urban in humilité."

"I am a peasant maid only," cried Calote, "but I say poor folk is not
yet a fellowship. They dream of vengeance. More than they love one
another they hate the nobles and bailiffs and the men-of-law, and"--

"And all them that have brought us to this pass," said Wat Tyler
fiercely.

John Ball turned to look at him, and there fell silence.

When the priest spoke again he spoke to Wat, and said: "'T would seem
the maid saith soth." Then, turning back to Calote, the smile went out
of his eyes: "I am not so patient as thy father," he exclaimed, "I am
not content to prophesy only; there 's some men must do deeds. A
little while we 'll delay. Natheless, 't shall come in my time!--Thou
hast warned them in Essex and Suffolk, 't is not yet, Wat?"

"Yea, they know, and they grumble. Norfolk knoweth, and
Cambridgeshire; and when we came through Dartford I sent messengers
westward to stay the folk in those parts. Here they know it not yet.
They will not tamely wait. I fear these Kentish men; and if they slip
leash the rest will follow, whether we will or no."

"Ah, well, if they will, they will! Give me now the names of the
Norfolk gentry would cast in their lot o' our side." He spread a
parchment on the table and drew pen and ink from his penner.

"John de Montenay de Bokenham," said Wat.

"Is 't so?" John Ball murmured, writing. "Methought he 'd come at t'
last."

"Thomas de Gyssing."

"Anon."

"Sir Roger Bacon."

"Nay, I had his name long since."

"Then thou hast all others," Wat ended.

Calote, standing by the table, listened.

"Of Bury, now, what new citizens since I was prisoned last?" the
priest questioned.

"Thomas Halesworth, John Clakke, Robert Westbron."

"And these be fit to lead?"

"Yea."

"And who is messenger to run westward?"

"John Smyth, parson,--hath a horse."

"Ah! And for the north?"

"John Reynolds of Bawdsey, and Walter Coselere; good runners, both."

"Where is Jack Straw?"

"In Northampton, hanging at the heels o' Parliament."

But now came Calote with a question: "Shall the King be warned anew
afore the people rise?"

"The King?" said John Ball, staring.

"Yea; I give my message in the name of the King; I have his token."
She drew forth the horn.

Wat Tyler was admonishing the priest, with nod of head and uplift of
eyebrow.

"Oh, ay," John Ball said hastily; "I had forgot. Nay, we 'll wait and
let the people rise and seek him out. 'T will be time enough."

"What was 't thou hadst forgot?" Calote queried. But she got no
answer, for the door burst open, and men and women came in and crowded
about John Ball and kissed his garment's hem. And in the same moment
the church-bell began to ring.

"Ho, my brothers!" laughed the priest, "let be! I have not rung your
bell. The Archbishop hath long ears. 'T is not safe."

"There be espiers set in every lane and the highway," said the
alewife. "They 'll give warning."

So they carried him, protesting, laughing, up the village street to
the cross.

That was a November day, gray, misty, chill. The trees were bare. The
earth was wet with the rain of yesternight. Weatherwise folk saw snow
in the clouds.

"Come up hither!" said John Ball to Calote, and drew her after him to
the top step of the cross. "Have a care, the stone 's slippery."

So, when she was steadied at his side, he turned to the waiting
villagers with:--

"Hark ye, good folk; I have no new thing to say. Hear this maid! 'T is
Long Will's daughter of London; hath journeyed far and wide throughout
England to learn men of fellowship. She shall speak."

The people stared at him in wonder, and at her. Then he stepped down
and left her alone.

She put the King's horn to her lips and blew a blast.

"My message is from the King," she said. "He is on your side."

There was a silence, and after, a shout.

"The King! God save the King!" they cried. "Speak!--speak!"

"The King is young, my brothers. He is a lad only; but he loveth his
people. He knoweth what is to be bound; doth not he live in bondage
likewise, and to these same nobles?"

"Death!--death!" they shouted, but she lifted up her hands to still
them.

"The King is of the noblesse; speak not of death, my brothers. I know
there shall be blood shed in this battle, for that the nobles hate us;
and when they see us uprisen, there shall be fear added unto hate, and
blows shall follow. But when we, being stricken, strike again, for
freedom and our brother, we shall remember that there is nor hate nor
fear in us. We are for love, my brothers; we are for fellowship; and
so it cometh to pass we cannot hate any man."

They gaped upon her and said nothing. John Ball drew his hand across
his lips as to do away a smile; but his eyes were wet.

"Thou, and thou, and thou, and I, my brothers, when we rise up, 't
shall be to mean that we have cast off hate; arisen out of that evil,
as the soul out of sinful body. Hate 's a clog; shall be no uprising
in England till we be set free from hate. We be villeins now, in
bondage to nobles and lords of manors; we do affirm we rise up for
freedom; but I ask ye, shall that be freedom which is but to turn
table and set the nobles in bondage under us?"

"Ay, turn and turn about," cried a man in the crowd. "Let them taste
how 't is bitter!"

Calote's eyes flashed. "Turn and turn about, sayst thou?" she
retorted; "and wilt thou be ready to go again into bondage when thy
turn cometh?"

He growled and hung his head, and his neighbours laughed.

"Hark ye, brothers; we do not rise up for to bind any man, noble or
villein, but for to set all England free. Let the King rule,--let the
knight keep the borders of the land rid of Frenchman and Scot,--let
the villein till his field for rent,"--

"Ay, ay, fourpence the acre!" said a villein.

"Ay, ay!" the others cried, vehement. "'T is fair in reason,
fourpence, ay!"--

And then there came up the village street a clatter of hoofs, a man on
a white horse, and the espier running at his side.

"Wat Tyler!--Wat Tyler!" cried the horseman. "Send one to Canterbury
and northward shall stop the Rising, or 't is too late. Poll-tax is
passed in Parliament at Northampton."

'T was the peddler.

Calote stared on him bewildered; he looked so strange. She had not
seen him since the day after she was come into London. Was this he?
Was it not rather,--but no! Her heart began to beat very fast, her
eyes were wide. The peddler drew his hood down over his face. Then
Calote was 'ware of a tumult among the people, and Wat Tyler's voice
upraised to still them, and John Ball standing again at her side on
the top step of the cross.

"To London!--To London!" the people clamoured. "'T is
time!--London!--The King!"

"Fools! I say 't is not yet!" shouted Wat. "I came to tell ye. We will
not rise this time. Word hath gone forth into the north and west to
still the people."

"Traitor!--London! London!" they cried, closing about him.

"Patience, brothers," he said. "We be no traitors, but wise. Hearken
to the maid! She hath been in east and west and north and south. Hear
her, wherefore she counselleth patience."

The roar fell to a growl and anon to a muttering, and they turned
their angry faces to Calote.

"Brothers," she said, "ye of Kent are ready. Yea, 't is very true.
Were all men so strong in fellowship as Kentish men, would be little
to fear. But in Essex men be not so well-fed, nor so wise. Kind-Wit
dwelleth not in their cots."

The flushed faces that looked up to her grinned broadly.

"'T is true," said one man, with a chuckle,--this was the espier, and
he had forgot to return to his post.--"A-most fools is outside o'
Kent."

"These men of the eastern shires," the maid continued, "will have it
that fellowship is but leave to slay and burn, for sake of privé
wrong. They 'll use this word for a cloak to do murder and all those
other seven sins. Moreover, in the north there be few that will
rise,--and in the west they 're afeared.--Ye Kentish men are fearless,
but may Kent alone withstand the power of the noblesse? Willingly ye
'll be slain for your brothers' sake,--oh, ye are brave men!--but what
avail to England if ye be slain? Who then shall deliver your brothers?
Be patient yet a little while."

Some of them were sullen, others whispered together with rueful
countenance. She watched them for a little, then:--

"'T is for Kentish men to say if the Rising shall avail or come to
naught. Wise men are never rash. Moreover,--t' other side o' London,
word is already gone forth to stay the Rising. Will ye rise
alone,--one shire?"

They hung their heads, foolish, sulky.

Then said John Ball, "Who is this friendly messenger on a gentleman's
horse?"

The peddler, as he were abashed, slipped from his steed to the ground.
But the crowd, diverted from their own discontent, pushed and pulled
him to the foot of the cross where stood John Ball.

"Nay, then, uncover thy face, brother," said the priest, "'t is well
we know our friends." And with a large hand, courteous but not to be
gainsayed, he pushed back the peddler's hood, and there was revealed a
mop of light brown hair curled in the fashion of the court, and a fair
and gentlemanly countenance that flushed crimson beneath the
astonished gaze of John Ball. 'T would seem the peddler had departed
on his errand in haste, without one precaution.

The crowd stared, open-mouthed.

"Art thou a man of Kent?" Ball asked.

"N-nay, father," stammered the peddler, and grew yet more red.

"I 'll be sworn thou 'rt no villein," said the priest, very grim.

The peddler glanced at Calote and dropped his eyes.

"N-nay!" he murmured.

"Wat!" called the priest; but one said, "Hath but now gone to spread
the alarm."

"Art thou of the Fellowship, stranger?" John Ball questioned, sharp.

Then did the peddler lift up his head, and looked the priest in the
eye: "In my heart am I of the Fellowship, but I have not given my hand
on 't," he said.

John Ball laid hand on the peddler's shoulder and turned him about to
face the folk.

"Knoweth any here this gentle, that would be of our Fellowship?" he
asked.

The rustics pressed close, peered over other's shoulder, but at last
shook their heads.

Then was there heard a faint voice, very shy, at the side of the
priest:--

"I know this gentle," said Calote. "If he giveth his hand in
fellowship--he will keep faith."

There went up a murmur of amaze in the crowd, and John Ball looked
from Calote to the peddler and back again.

"Is a disciple of my father," whispered Calote; and now was her face
as red as the peddler's.

"What art thou called, friend?" asked the priest.

"I am called Stephen Fitzwarine. I dwell in the King's palace; but I
abode one while in poor folks' cots; I know that they suffer. When 't
is time, I do purpose to stand by the villein that would be free"--

The Kentish men shouted, and pressed more close.

"Meanwhile I may come at the King's ear. 'T were well there be one in
the palace at Westminster may be a m-mean twixt the King and the
commons, when peasants are risen up. I am for the Fellowship,--I will
keep faith. Here 's my hand."

"Lay thy hand on this market cross, brother, and swear by the
rood," said John Ball.

So Stephen went up the three stone steps and laid his hand upon the
arm of the cross, and:--

"By the Holy Rood, I swear," said he, "that I will keep faith with the
Fellowship and strive to set free villeins. Life and limb, body and
soul, give I in this cause."

And all that throng of villagers burst out a-singing:--

   "'When Adam delved and Eve span,
     Who was then the gentleman?'"

But now, by the way that the peddler had come,--the unwatched
way,--there came a band of horsemen suddenly, and rode into the midst
of the crowd.

"Archbishop's men!" shrieked a woman. "Save John Ball!"

There was no room to shoot the long-bow.

"Though we rise not yet, we 'll maul 'em now," roared a man.

But John Ball stayed him, stayed all.--"Not yet,--no blood shall flow.
We have need of strong men. Remember!"

So, except a buffet here and there, pushing and hindrance, and loud
words, there was no battle. Women clung weeping to John Ball, but he
was bound and set on a horse. Then came the faithless espier and cast
himself down in the way of that horse, and was trampled and his skull
clove in.

One of the soldiers ran to the cross and would have bound Calote, for
he said: "This wench also was speaking, exciting the people." But
Stephen thrust him off, and said he:--

"The damosel is in my care, Gybbe Pykerel; I 'll answer to the King as
concerning my loyauté and hers."

"What!--Etienne Fitzwarine!" cried the man. "A frolic?--Eh, well!--I
'm Archbishop's man, 't is none of my devoir to meddle with King's
minions."

And the priest being now fast bound, and all others in their saddles,
this soldier followed, and all rode forth of the village. But one
villein cried after them:--

"We have chose to let ye have him now, but 'ware the day when we come
to take him out o' Maidstone gaol! 'Ware the day!"

Then they went to the espier, where he lay dead, and they lifted him
up and bore him within the church.

"My horse!" cried the peddler. "Where is Blanchefleur, my d-destrier?"

"Wat Tyler 's astride and halfway to Canterbury by this, brother,"
said a woman.

The peddler laughed,--was naught else to do.

"Eh, well, mistress, thou and I must go afoot," quoth he to Calote;
"'t will not be the first time."

He took her hand and she went with him meekly, as she were in a dream.
A little way beyond the village he led her off the road into a wood,
and there made her to sit down under a tree. He thrust a stopple of
dry leaves into the small end of the King's horn, and filled it with
water from a spring near by, which, when she had drunk, she smiled.
Whereupon the peddler cast him down on the grass at her feet and took
the dusty hem of her kirtle to his lips and held it there,--a-kissing
it; and once he sobbed.

Presently she spoke, slow, softly, as one speaks looking backward into
memory:--

"In Devon I said,--he hath a mind, inward, like to Stephen's mind. But
if this were Stephen he 'd never cease to speak to me of love; so he 'd
be discovered. But thou didst never speak to me of love. In Cheshire I
said,--he hath given his all to buy the horn; presently he will ask
for my love to repay him. I was afeared. I said, I could love
him--were there no--Ah, 't is no matter what I said! At Yorkshire, at
the manor-house, 't was lonely. I--I thought on thee, and yet 't was
strange, I could not dispart thee from Stephen in my thought. I
said,--I know he will presently woo me, and what shall I say? Then I
began to see Stephen in thy face--and I was 'wildered sore. When I was
wearied with wanhope, 't was thou upheld the quarrel of the people.
Ah,--how couldst thou know how to do this if thou art Stephen? Stephen
is a squire in the King's palace! I said--what shall I do?--Did ever
maid love"--She hushed hastily and the colour flamed to her cheeks;
she made as to rise, but the peddler had her hands, he was on his
knees before her, looking in her eyes.

"Nay,--m-make an end to 't!" he whispered. "Did ever a maid--what?"

"I will not!"--she answered. "Let be!"

"Wh-which is 't thou l-lovest? Speak!"

"Wherefore wilt thou still mock me?" she cried in sudden anger,
freeing her hands. "Have done with thy halting speech!"

He hung his head and knelt mute a moment,--then in a low voice, very
sorrowful, and painfully stammering, he said:--

"A-a-alas, mistress!--I c-cannot be rid of 't n-now. T-taketh me
unaware. If it of-fendeth thee, then indeed a-am I undone."

She waited, aghast, watching him, but he knelt silent in his
dejection.

"It doth not offend me," she said at last, wistfully; and he, looking
up, beheld her eyes full of tears.

"Wilt thou h-have me?" he cried.

And half laughing, half crying, she asked him:

"Who art thou?"

"Please God, I am him thou lovest," he answered; "Which is he?"

She let him take her hands again.

"I know not," she whispered. "But if 't is the peddler, I love him for
Stephen's sake,--and if 't is Stephen, for the peddler's sake I love
him."



                             CHAPTER X

                     The Poets Sing to Richard


When Stephen had brought Calote safe out of Kent to the door of the
cot on Cornhill, they kissed the one the other and went their ways.

"Another year, and I 'll be mine own man, lord of mine own manor,
which the Earl of March shall render to me; then we 'll be wed," quoth
Stephen.

"And the villeins shall be freed?" said Calote.

"Yea, of surety shall they," he answered. "Meanwhile, 't were wise I
dwell at Westminster. I 'm the one only man is King's friend and poor
man's friend, true alike to one and t' other. Richard hath need of
such an one."

"Alack! tell me of the King," cried Calote. "Doth he forget?"

"He 's young," Stephen made answer, unwilling; "he 's nor boy nor man.
He doth not forget, but he doth not any more believe, neither. He will
have it as how 't was child's prattle yonder in Malvern Chase. An they
'd give him work to do, he 'd grow to be a king; but the Council and
the great lords is afeared to let slip the reins. One day he 'll claim
his own, and God grant 't will not then be too late."

"Child's prattle!" sighed Calote. "Harrow!"

"Nay, be comforted!" pleaded Stephen. "This past month that I am come
back to court, he is uncertain. He plieth me with when and how. But
Robert de Vere is ever hanging on his neck; 't is not thrice in a week
I may come at him. Though he may not rule in vérité, he maketh bold
pretense; is naught but feasting and jollité from morn till night;
largess and bounty, and wanton dispending of the gold wherefore the
people is taxed. He hath in mind to bid thee and thy father to court
one day, to sing to him and run a tilt of song with Master Chaucer."

After this Stephen betook him to Westminster, and November was past
and gone, and the blessed Nativité and mummers of Twelfth Night were
past; and all this great while Calote was in and out of London,
bearing the message and binding the Brotherhood. Wat Tyler bode with
her whithersoever she went, in Essex and Norfolk and Suffolk, and
southward into Kent, and back again to London. She would not go alone
with Jack Straw, wherefore he was very wroth. And what though Calote
kept tryst once, twice, thrice, with the peddler, she did not tell him
as how she was afeared of Jack Straw; for that she knew Jack Straw had
it in his heart to slay the peddler, if so he might take him unaware.

So all that winter the people was making them ready. There were
certain aldermen of London also that were of the Great Society. At
their houses were met together the leaders, to discover how best
London should be taken; and they said it must be when such an one was
Alderman of Bridge, for by the Bridge was the surest way to come into
the city for to take it.

Now it was marvel that the lords paid no heed, for, albeit these
things were done privily, they might not be altogether hid. No man
rode the highway half a mile but he happed upon strange adventure, as
of a preacher preaching; or of villeins gathered together in a
company, clasping hands and swearing strange oaths; or of a bailiff
gagged and helpless, his wallet empty. Moreover, it was rumoured at
court as how the peasants would rise. But this was not to be believed.
If the nobles thought on it, 't was to jest. What though dark looks
followed after them when they rode abroad,--was not the peasant ever a
sulky churl? What though there was a whispering in tavern and
town,--the villein had grumbled these thirty years and more. As they
that have eyes and see not, were the lords, and having ears yet they
did not hear.

Meanwhile, the tax was a-gathering. But whether 't was true, what the
people said, that a-many had died since the last census,--or whether
the census was ill-taken, or whether the blame was to the
tax-gatherer;--and the people declared this also, that he stole from
the King's coffers to fill his own pouch;--whether for one cause or
other, 't is certain the money came not in, and there was fret and
stir in the King's Council. And about this time, which was the month
of March, Will Langland and his daughter Calote had word that they
should go to the palace at Westminster to stand before the King.

In the great chamber where the King would come to hear his minstrels,
there were two gentlemen, and at the threshold of the door two
squatting pages that played at hazard with dice. These, when they saw
that Calote and her father were common folk, did them no courtesy, but
they stared idly on Calote, and thrust forth a toe to trip the page
that showed the way; which, when he had avoided, he said to Long
Will:--

"Ye are betimes. The King is shut in the Council Chamber, and the
Queen-Mother is gone with her ladies to hear Vespers in the Chapel. 'T
is in this place ye shall attend."

So he left them, and as he went out at the door he kicked the dice to
right and left across the room; then took to his heels hastily.

One of the gentlemen stood within the splay of a window looking forth;
and if he were a merchant or a scholar 't were no easy matter to tell.
He wore a long gown of fine cloth, furred, and a collar of gold about
his throat, and a long gold chain, and his hair laid very soft and
curling on his shoulders; he had a countenance sober and comely; his
eye was not dull, nor mirthful neither. He looked aside indifferent at
Long Will and the maid, and again out of window. Presently he took
from his girdle a parchment and began to con it. Then Calote turned
her to the other gentleman and met his eyes fixed upon her, and
immediately he gave her a look that glanced forth friendly-wise, merry
and shy, as 't were a finger that beckoned. Anon he had bent his head
and was scribbling very fast in a tablet against his knee. This
gentleman was not so tall as that other; neither was he slender and
slim, but wide in his waist, full-girded. His short gown was gray, and
the penner stuck awry upon his breast, black were his hosen, and his
shoes gray, but scarlet on their edges. His forked beard was already
grizzled, howbeit he was not an old man;--not so old as Will Langland,
haply, nor so care worn; but beneath the cap that he wore in the
fashion of Italy with the tail of it wound about his neck, the hair
above his ears was likewise grizzled.

Long Will had drawn a stool within a niche and was set down to his
copying; and Calote stood near him for a little, but the pictured tale
on the tapestries drew her away that she must needs leave her place to
see, and she walked down the room and up again, marvelling. And when
she was come nigh to where the little round gray man sat a-scribbling;
nevertheless he was not so busy but he was 'ware of her and looked up
sidewise with a smile. Then, on a sudden, he had taken the long rope
of her hair, and he shook it gently and laughed.

    "Her yellow hair was braided in a tresse,
     Behind her back, a yarde long I guesse,"

quoth he; and anon, "Saint Mary,--'t is a good line! I 'll write it
down." Whereupon he did, and Calote ran back to her father,
rosy-flushed, yet nowise frighted--for this was a friendly wight.

"Who 's yon, father?" she asked. "The gray one; hath so merry and
all-seeing eyen?"

Long Will looked up, a-gathering slow his wits:

"Yon 's Master Chaucer," he said at last.

"Mary Mother!" gasped the maid: and the gray one, looking up across,
caught her with mouth and eyes wide, whereat he threw back his head
and, though he made no sound, she knew he laughed.

Now came in Master Walworth, Mayor of London, and Nicholas Brembre,
sometime Mayor,--merchants these and very loyal true to King Richard.
Sir John Holland came in also, and the Earl of Kent, half-brothers to
the King, and of other gentlemen nigh a score, dressed very gay in
silk and broidery. They loitered up and down by twos and threes,
giving good day and tossing jests as light as tennis balls. There was
not one but flung a word of welcome right joyously to Master Chaucer
where he sat withdrawn. 'T would seem he was friend to all. Calote,
behind her father's stool, a-peering over his bent head, marvelled to
see all sneers and gleams of malice, all sullen pride, evanished from
every face that looked Dan Chaucer's way. As one will smooth his
wrinkled heart and countenance if a child draw near, so smoothed these
courtiers their visage, inward and outward, to an honest smile, to
greet this modest, merry little man in gray.

"He 's a very wizard," whispered Calote.

"Who?" said Long Will, and following her gaze, "Ah, he!"--

"Thou dost love him, father?"

"Dost not thou?"

"Yea," she faltered; "but wherefore?"

"'T is God's gift," he sighed. "This is to be a poet."

"But thou art a poet, father," she whispered.

"And men do not love me."

"They do,--ah,--all poor folk!"

He turned his head to look in her eyes: "What matter?" he said gently.
"I 'd liefer be Will Langland. He--yonder--'s missed somewhat."

But now there was a rustle without the door and a parting to right and
left adown the hall. An usher cried: "The Queen!" And Joanna the Fair
and her ladies came in with flutter of veils and flirting of skirts.
And lo! one of the ladies was Godiyeva from the lonely manor-house in
Yorkshire.

Then there began a buzzing of tongues and bowing of knights and
squires. The sober gentleman in the furred gown ceased to con his
parchment and went and kissed the Queen's hand; so likewise did Dan
Chaucer, but thereafter withdrew again to his quiet corner.

"The King not come?" said his mother.

"He 's in Council, madame," made answer Sir John Holland; "there hath
been discovered a flaw in the poll-tax, and they seek a remedy."

She shrugged her shoulders, and looked about her on the company. Said
she: "Is 't a jongleuse,--yonder,--beside the tall clerk?" For, by
this, Will Langland was on his feet, as were all they in the Queen's
presence.

"Madame!" cried Godiyeva, "'t is a glee-maid dwelt with us in
Yorkshire last year at Ascension-tide; told us a tale of Piers
Ploughman, and how the peasant should make laws in England."

"Pah!--I am sick of these peasant tales!" said the Queen. "Gentlewomen
may not ride abroad, but they must set a flappet on their ears to
smother the foul songs and catchwords of villeins. England pampereth
her common folk to her cost. In Gascony, when the Black Prince was
alive, 't was not thus we ruled. Saint Denys! 't is said these churls
do beat and maul the King's officers that come to do the King's
business and gather his moneys."

"Wilt thou that I put forth the wench, madame?" questioned Sir John.

His brother of Kent laughed and clapped him on the back.

"Nay, pray you pardon, madame," said a chamberlain; "the damsel, and
the clerk her father, is sent for of the King. 'T is whispered the
tall fellow will tilt with Dan Chaucer."

The Queen and all her ladies laughed, and Calote, marking their eyes
cast scornful upon her, drew back to hide behind her father.

"This is Etienne Fitzwarine's doing," said the Queen. "I cannot abye
him since he 's returned from pilgrimage."

"Natheless, 't is a maid hath a kindly heart," said Godiyeva. "Did me
and my sisters a good turn I 'll not forget."

"Wilt speak with her, mistress? I 'll bring her," quoth Sir John.

But the Queen stayed him with a frown and "Let be!" and when she had
looked beyond Calote she saw the sober gentleman that stood not far
off, and to him she beckoned, smiling:--

"A ballad, Master Gower,--nay, leave excuse; thy French is not of
Paris,--'t is a fault forgiven long since and thrice o'er;--abate!"

So this sober gentleman that was Master Gower sat him down lowly at
the feet of Joanna the Fair, and having thrust his finger in his gold
collar, as it choked him, anon he began:--

    "Au mois de Mars, u tant y ad nuance
     Puiss resembler les douls mais que j'endure:"

"Saint Denys!" cried the Queen, "if we must endure the winds and woes
of March in vérité, yet may we escape them in song. Shall not the poet
defy the calendar?"

"Yea, madame, shall he," assented Master Gower, very humble, "an his
lady will. He 'll sing of May."

"Ay, do!" said the Queen.

Calote looked on Master Chaucer and caught his eyes a-twinkle; but
immediately he had bent his head to stare on the ground; and John
Gower was begun anew:--

    "Pour comparer ce jolif temps de Maii,
     Jeo le dirrai semblable a Paradis;
     Cars lors chantont et Merle et Papegai,
     Les champs sont vert, les herbes sont floris,
     Lors est nature dame du paiis;
     Dont Venus poignt l'amant au tiel assai,
     Q'encontre amour n'est qui poet dire Nai."

The King stood by the door, with finger on lip to still the
chamberlain, but now he came into the hall betwixt Robert de Vere and
Etienne Fitzwarine, and he hung upon Etienne's arm:--

"Mes amis, I crave pardon of my discourtesy," he said, laughing; "but
what would you? Robert Hales did threat me he 'd have this my new cote
hardie in pawn to the Lombards for to pay England's debt, but if I
would not give ear to this folly of the poll-tax. And if treasury 's
empty, 't is Robert Hales must know, he keeps the key. Natheless,
Simon Sudbury hath took pity on me, and I 'm scaped with the coat on
my back."

This cote hardie was of velvet, white, thick encrusted with
jewels,--pearls and blue stones. Richard's hosen were azure, and his
shoes cloth-of-silver with Paul's windows carven on them, the toes of
them turned upward and clasped to golden chains that hung from his
knees, for the more ease in walking. He greeted his mother and bent
above her hand, then sat him down in his chair beside hers on the
dais, and Robert de Vere unchained his shoes.

"Etienne," said the King. Stretching forth one leg and the other to de
Vere, he spoke behind his hand to Stephen, who presently, but with a
sour visage, strode down the hall to the place where Long Will stood,
and Calote sheltered behind his skirts.

"Thou must to the dais; 't is the King's pleasure," said Stephen.

"Nay, not I," she pleaded, "not in this company. 'T is my father shall
tell a tale to the King."

"Sweet, we may not gainsay the King in this matter," Stephen made
answer, sad. "Have no fear; shall none harm come to thee."

So she went with him and kneeled down before the King, and Richard,
when he had lifted her up, said:--

"Look ye, mes doux amis, this damsel, when that my grandfather Edward
lay dead, was first in England to do me homage." He bent his head as
he were musing, and then: "She told me I should be a great King." His
mouth and eyes smiled whimsical; anon, looking to the door of the
Council Chamber whence he was come, he flung forth his arm: "Yonder
's the King!" he said. "Hath as many heads as old dragon, and every
head gnaweth other.--Natheless,"--and now he set his chin
defiant,--"natheless, I have not signed Richard's name to this remedy
of the poll-tax." Then, swift, defiance melted, and his lips curled to
a rueful smile,--"Not yet."

"Alack, for the cote hardie!" murmured de Vere; but Richard turned on
him:--

"Have it, thou!" he cried. "I am anoint; what though I rule England
body-naked,--I 'm a king." He made as to do off the coat, but when the
Queen said: "Sire, my Lord of Oxford can wait; 's not a-cold," he
laughed and buttoned it again.

"Tell them who 's a-cold," he said to Calote. "Tell them, as thou hast
told me that day long since,--as Etienne hath told me this seven month
he 's come home. Last night in my dream I heard a bell tolling, out of
the midst of jollité; and one said that King Richard had betrayed his
people and was dead."

"Richard, sire, sweet son!" the Queen protested. "How dost thou abash
this fair company with thy mournful speech. Is 't for this cause we
are met together, to prate of pauvreté? We be bounteous almsgivers,
all. Here am I foiled of the ending of good Master Gower's
ballad,--and Dan Chaucer bretful of new tales."

"I pray you pardon, madame, I had forgot," Richard said soberly, and
sat him down again at her side. "This business of the tax hath fretted
me. 'T is weary waiting, to sit by the while counsellors wrangle. But
if they knew that that I know!"--He clenched his right hand, then
shook himself with an impatient sigh: "Where is thy father,
maiden,--he that writ the Vision concerning Piers Ploughman,--is he
here? Let him come hither, Etienne."

"Nay, Richard, 't is a mournful Vision," the Queen began; "Master
Chaucer will tell us a merrier tale. Let us have done with sad
thoughts."

"Madame, though I may not rule England but by the will of my Council,
I pray you give me leave to be so far a king that I may choose mine
own minstrels and mine own thoughts. Give you good day, friend; so,
thou art Long Will,--well named."

Langland was come by now to the dais and kneeled down; but presently
he arose and stood a little way off in the midst of the hall, where
was a space cleared. And all the court eyed him curiously; for many
knew him, having seen him in London streets. So he began to tell the
fable of the rats that would have belled the cat.

Calote went pale, then red. Stephen bit his lip. Up and down the hall
men stirred with covert smiles and drooping eyes that glanced secretly
at the King. There were not a-many folk in England, noble or peasant,
but they had heard this fable. Nevertheless, now was the first time
ever a minstrel had made bold to tell it at court. Richard's eyes
laughed; he sat with his elbow on the arm of the chair, his chin in
his hand, looking out upon his courtiers. Of these, Dan Chaucer only
stared open on the singer, and he with a frown betwixt his brows, as
he were knocking at memory's door.

    "For a cat of a court came when him liked,"

said Will Langland,--

    "And overleapt them lightly and caught them at his will,
     And played with them perilously and pushed them about."

As it had been the Gospel at Mass, very solemn he said it and all that
came after: as how these rats took counsel together to rid them of the
cat, and in the end was found none so bold to hang the bell about the
cat's neck.--And of all that company none laughed, excepting it were
Dan Chaucer, and he silently, that his belly shook, and not at the
tale neither, but to see this threadbare clerk making a mock of
England afore the King's face. For all they knew well the cat was to
mean old Edward; and for the kitten, he also was known.

Said Will:--

   "'Where the cat is but a kitten the court is very miserable;'
     Witness of holy writ who so can read
       _Ue terre ubi puer est rex: Salamon_."

"Natheless, Sir Poet," Richard said soft, "when the kitten is grown to
be a cat, haply he 'll mend his ways."

"Sire, a cat is a cat," quoth Will.

The King flushed and tapped his foot on the floor, but when his mother
would have risen up in anger, he stayed her with:--

"Patience, Madame; Dan Chaucer shall have his turn." And to Will he
said: "So, friend, what though thou tweak my tail, I 'll not use my
claws," and held out his hand, the which Will Langland kissed and
returned to his place by the wall, with a smile, very sad, a-shining
out of his eyes.

"Sire," said Chaucer, "I 've a fable; 't is not yet told in this
company, nor writ neither."

Thereupon he began to speak concerning a poor widow that had a
barnyard and a cock,--

    "His comb was redder than the fine coral,
     And battled as it were a castle wall."

Anon, Master Chaucer was this very Chaunteclere, a-strut in barnyard.
And immediately that uneasy silence that held the court was lifted,
and all men tiptoed to see,--and had well-nigh drowned the voice of
Chaunteclere in their laughter. Then was the poet suddenly transformed
unto Dame Pertelote, the hen,--

           "... discreet, and debonnaire,
     And companable,"--

that hearkened the dream of her lord and counselled him to eat
elderberry and ivy and other such herbs for to cure his
digestion.--And the Queen and her ladies might not stint the tears
that rolled adown their faces for joy of this tale.

But when Sir Chaunteclere was cozened to sing for Dan Russel the
fox,--

    "And on a Friday fell all this mischance,"--

then leaned those courtiers one upon another with groaning and gasping
of mirth to see how Master Chaucer--

         "... stood high upon his toes,
     Stretching his neck, and held his eyen close,
     And gan to crowe loude for the nonce."

And in the chase, not Chaucer only but all they must needs roar,--

    "Out! harrow and wayleway!"

And Richard a-slapping his leg and crying,--

    "Ha, ha, the fox!"

Now, in the end the fox was undone,--for he opened his mouth to
speak,--and

    "This cock brake from his mouth delyverly"--

Then saith Reynard:--

                   "God give him mischaunce,
     That is so undiscreet of governaunce,
     That jangleth, when he shoulde hold his peace."

And all men turned to look on Will Langland. But when Master Chaucer
saw this, he put up his hand in a protest, and laughing he said:--

"Nay, lordings, lay not this at my door that I should trespass o' John
Gower's launde, which is to meddle with my brother's mote." And he
went up to Long Will, and saith he:--

"Thou and I are old friends. Thou 'rt that singer of Malvern. Dost
remember me, who I am?"

"The lark,--art thou," said Will gently.

"Cuckoo, cuckoo!" quoth Master Chaucer, and stretching a-tiptoe he
kissed Will Langland o' both cheeks.

But now were they 'ware of Richard's voice; and he sat scowling in his
chair, with Simon Sudbury--that was Archbishop of Canterbury--bending
above, a parchment in his hand.

"Let the Council wait," said Richard.

"Sire, I have here the paper and a pen; do but sign thy name and I 'll
no longer trouble thy merry-making;" urged the Archbishop.

The King took the pen very peevish, and, "Bring hither a stool,
Etienne, or tablets," he fretted; "how may I sign on my knee?"

Then he began to read the paper, and anon he cried, "Etienne, Etienne,
shall we sign?--I like it not."

"Nay, Richard," the Queen admonished him, "hast thou not able
counsellors, that thou must make a jest of so weighty matters with
popinjays? My Lord Archbishop waits. Make an end, sweet son, and let
us sup."

But the boy was in no mood to be ruled by his mother.

"Master Chaucer 's a gray-beard,--hath done me good service," he
said.--"What sayst thou, Poet?"

"Sire,--these five year I 've been about thy business in France and
Flanders and Italy; I may not speak with sureté concerning what hath
happed,--or shall be to hap,--in England. Natheless, of all peasant
folk in all lands ever I saw, our folk of England is most sturdy,
honest, true. Take them to thy friend, King Richard."

"Which is to say," quoth Richard,--and made as he would rend the
parchment.

"My Lord!" cried Simon the Archbishop, and took it hastily out of his
hand.

Richard laughed and kicked over the stool; then turned he sudden on
Will Langland with:

"Prythee, Master Clerk, what will the people do if we send again to
Essex and Kent to protest that the poll-tax be paid?"

"Sire," said Long Will, "they will do that God or the Devil putteth in
their hearts to do."

"But what is 't? Art not thou a prophet?"

"Of God, sire,--not of the Devil."

"Thy silence commendeth thee, Master Clerk," said the Archbishop.
"This stubborn people is surely ridden of the Devil."

"Nay, my lord," Will answered, "I did not say so."

"A plague take thy riddles," exclaimed the King. "Speak plain!"

Thereupon came Long Will forth to the dais, and out of the midst of a
silence he said:--

"O Richard the Redeless, who am I to give thee counsel? Pity thyself,
that thou knowest not thyself. How may a man rule a kingdom, that
knoweth not to govern his own soul?"

No man dared breathe. Richard sat gripping the arms of his chair; his
eyes were fixed wide open upon Langland, and tears came up in them, so
that they shone very large.

"How!"--he assented huskily.

Then at sight of those tears and that white young face of his King,
Will Langland groaned, and a rage seized upon him so that he turned
about, and lifting up his arm in menace of all that company, he cried
out:--

"Cursed be ye, defilers! Cursed, cursed,--betrayers of children!--Ye
that corrupt kings! I hear ye weep and pray for mercy,--and the people
shall pour out your wealth like water, the river shall swallow it up.
The sky is red!--Lo, fire,--fire!--And the riches of the nobles, and
the thievings of the merchants, are smoke and ashes! Woe unto you,
lawyers,--your wise-heads shall hop, but your feet shall lie still
upon the stones. Woe unto you, priests, bishops,--the people have
found you out!--Cursed"--

"Blasphemer!" cried the Archbishop; and at this word there
broke out a torrent of sounds; men crying, "Madman!"--"Seize
him!"--"Traitor!"--and women screaming.

Calote came up close to her father and clasped her hands about his
arm; and he, shaking as with a palsy, drew one hand across his eyes as
he would dispart a mist.

"I have spoken," he said, and swayed uncertain.

Then Calote was 'ware of Master Chaucer on his other hand, who
steadied him that he should not fall.

"Sire," said the Archbishop, "this man hath cursed Holy Church and
impeached the counsellors of the King. He is a traitor to God and to
England. He is mine to"--

But now Mayor Walworth was come in great haste to the dais, and
kneeled down, and "Pray you, mercy, sire," he cried. "This man is
well-beloved in the city; and is this a time to stir up London? He is
a little mad, but I know him for an honest fellow,--the prentices will
not brook"--

"Peace!" said Richard. "Wherefore shall I bear him malice that is
become my champion? Peace, gentles! My Lord Archbishop, let 's
chaffer:--do thou give me thy blasphemer, and I 'll sign the
parchment."

For answer Simon, still red and breathing noisily, knelt and gave up
the roll, whereupon the King set it open on the stool again and dipped
pen in penner. Afore him kneeled Etienne Fitzwarine, and steadied the
stool, for that one leg was shorter than other two. Then said Etienne,
very low:--

"My lord, d-do not sign this paper."

"And the man is father to thy lady?" quoth Richard.

"Though he were mine own f-father and his life hung on 't, natheless,
sire, for England's sake must I beseech you, d-do not sign. 'T is to
be f-feared the people will be wroth if men be sent into Essex and
Kent to require this tax anew. They declare they have paid once, and
they will not pay ag-g-gain. They will rise. O sire,--have a care!"

"Coeur de joie!--Rise, sayst 'ou?" Richard cried. "Rise!--Do I not
await this Rising these three year? Ha, ha!--'T is full time to sign
my name! So be it.--My lords, do ye believe this people is so
bold?--Nor I!--Ha, ha!--They 'll never do 't, Etienne.--But if my pen
shall prick them on, why, there 's the King's name!--Rise!"

He flung the parchment to the Archbishop, and gave his hand to his
mother to lead her forth to sup.

In the doorway Master John Gower awaited that Long Will came forth.

"Tell me, friend, dost know aught of this rising whereof men prate?"
said he. "If 't is true,--but how were that to be believed,--I have
manors in Kent, 't behoveth me"--

"What I know 't were long to tell," Will answered, and left him
standing.



                             PART III

                            The Rising

     "Now, Richard the redeles reweth on you-self,
      That lawelesse leddyn your lyf and your peple bothe."

                                      _Richard the Redeless._
                                              PASSUS I.

    "Who so wil be pure parfyt mote possessioun forsake."

                               _The Vision Concerning Piers Plowman._
                                             B. PASSUS XI.



                             CHAPTER I

                           The Beginning


So it came about that the Council bade search if any had not paid the
tax, and to compel him. And around and about London there arose a
muttering, waxed louder and yet more loud. Nevertheless, April was
past, and May was well-nigh past; but then the men of Fobbing in Essex
drove the collector of the tax out of Bampton town. And, after this,
the people began to rise by little and little, as it were a fire
creeping in the grass. And what man soever laboured to appease the
people, 't was not Jack Straw. When June was begun, he came to
Cornhill bringing news. Quoth he:--

"The people is gone forth to take Rochester Castle."

Calote stayed the twirl of her distaff; Kitte leaned on her besom;
Long Will pushed away parchment and fixed his eyes on Jack Straw. "'T
was Sir Simon de Burley came down to Gravesend," said Jack; "had a man
in the town,--a runaway. The folk of Gravesend are friendly,--they
would have bought him free. 'Three hundred pound,' saith Sir
Simon.--Three hundred pound!"

"And this man was not worth three hundred pound?" Will questioned.

"Pah!" said Jack Straw, and spat on the floor. "Misread me an thou
wilt.--Sir Simon 's off to Rochester with his man. Hark ye,--the
people is up! The people is up, I say!"

"Wat Tyler hath not given the sign," said Calote.

Jack laughed softly. "And if Wat lag, shall there not be found others,
leaders?" he asked.

"I hate thee, Jack Straw!" Calote cried out. "I hate thee!"

He went up to her where she stood, and thrust his face down close to
her face:--

"Methought 't was loving was thy business. 'Wait till all England hath
learned to love,' quotha.--Jack's patient, mistress; hath awaited
these three year and more. Now 't is thou must learn. Jack shall teach
thee."

Will Langland had arisen and strode swift to Jack, and he laid hand on
his neck and shook him to and fro that his teeth chattered; and in the
midst of this shaking the door burst open, and there came in Hobbe and
a young rustic that panted to take breath.

"Here 's one seeketh Calote," said Hobbe.

Then the runner cried between gasp and gasp:

"Thus saith Wat Tyler to the maid Calote, 'It is an end. Now let the
people arise. I have given the sign!'"

"Ah, Christ!" said Calote.

"Thus saith Wat Tyler to him men call Long Will, 'Thou hast a
daughter. What wilt thou do if she be mishandled?'"

Will thrust Jack Straw from him that he fell on his knees by the wall.

"'What wilt thou do?'" cried the runner. "'Wilt not thou--even
thou--slay the man? And what shall Wat Tyler do that is no clerk, but
one itching for war? And I have a daughter,' saith Wat Tyler, 'but she
is avenged. The man is slain. This man came in to gather the tax,--and
I heard my daughter cry out.--Prate no more of love. I have slain the
man. I have given the sign.' This is the word of Wat Tyler."

Calote flung up her two arms with a cry, and there was joy and the
sound of a sob in that cry:--

"Father, father!" she said; "'t has come,--'t has come! O Jesu, Mary,
forgive,--but I am glad;--I 'm glad!--I 'm glad!"

And with her face in her father's breast she began to shake and to cry
and to laugh, all in one breath.

But now there came in another man, running, and--

"Will Langland," said he, "here 's letters from John Ball. Of these
shalt thou make a fair copy, and they shall be sent forth into the
villages to north of here and west, to be read in taverns and
churchyards."

"Where is John Ball?" asked Will, and took the letters.

"Yestermorn he was in Maidstone jail, but by now,--eh, well,--Wat
Tyler 's gone thither hastily. I had these of the priest out of
window, when I told him Rochester Castle is ta'en."

"Is ta'en!" cried all they together.

"Yea.--'Bid Wat come quickly to set me free,' saith John Ball,--'and
for the letters, Long Will shall copy.'"

"Read!" said Hobbe.

So Will read:--

"'John Schep, sometime Saint Mary's priest of York, and now of
Colchester, greeteth well John Nameless and John the Miller and John
Carter, and biddeth them that they beware of guile in borough, and
stand together in God's name, and biddeth Piers Ploughman go to his
work, and chastise well Hob the Robber, and take with you John Trueman
and all his fellows and no mo; and look sharp you to one-head and no
mo.'"

Then in that company all, as with one voice, chaunted the end of this
letter, which was:--

   "'John the Miller hath y ground small, small, small,
     The King's son of heaven shall pay for all.
     Be ware or ye be wo,
     Know your friend from your foe.
     Have enough and say 'ho!'
     And do well and better and flee sin,
     And seek peace and hold therein.
     And so bid John Trueman and all his fellows.'"

They looked one on another with faces a little pale:--

"'T has come," they said. "Read on, Will!" And anon he read the second
letter:--

"'Jack Milner asketh help to turn his milne aright. He hath grounden
small, small. The King's son of heaven he shall pay for all. Look thy
milne go aright, with the four sails, and the post stand in
steadfastness. With right and with might, with skill and with will,
let might help right and skill go before will and right before might,
then goeth our milne aright. And if might go before right, then is our
milne misadight.'"

"John Ball hath rungen our bell," said Hobbe. "I 'll go beat a
ploughshare," and went out.

Also the two messengers kissed either other and clipt close, and
after, departed.

Will Langland took from his pouch a fresh parchment and made ready to
copy the letters, his daughter leaning against his knee. By the wall
sat Jack Straw a-sulking, his legs sprawled wide, his chin in his
chest, his eyes watchful. Kitte took her besom and swept the floor.

And now there came in another from Cornhill; he wore the badge of the
white hart on his sleeve.

"Rochester Castle is ta'en!" he said.

And Calote ran to him, and "O Stephen!" she cried, "the message is
gone forth! The people is rising!"

They stood agaze, each on other, joy of the coming battle in their
young eyes. Then they kissed.

Jack Straw got to his feet with a bound:--

"Thou,--thou,--thou!" he gasped.--"Spy!--Cokenay!--Thou?"

So he began to laugh his soft laughter, and turned him to Calote
with:--

"Two year!--And this was his pilgrimage,--to lie under hedge with"--

But Stephen had sprung upon him and they clinched, rocking this way
and that, the while Calote wrung her hands.

Long Will would have meddled in that mêlée to thrust apart those two,
but Kitte caught his arm:--

"Let be!" she said. "The squire 's better man! he 'll win."

And so it was, for Jack Straw knew not to wrestle; he was a lean, pale
wight. He had a bodkin in his belt, but was not time to draw, and
presently he lay on the floor, face down, and Stephen on his back,
kneeling.

"Now say thy prayer!" said Stephen.

"Nay,--for Jesus' sake!" cried Calote. "Bethink what shall befal if
this man is slain. He hath a ményé to follow him in the Rising. Let
not confusion come upon them. Remember the Rising! Stephen,
Stephen,--now is no time to 'venge privé wrong! We have need of men
shall lead.--What though this man hath evil in him,--yet do the people
follow him in a good cause."

"'T is very true," Stephen answered, thoughtful. "If he be slain, how
shall the people understand? Eh, well,--sweetheart,--for Piers
Ploughman and all our brothers' sake,--I 'll be patient."

And when he had arisen he kicked Jack Straw: "Get up, carroigne!" he
said.

Jack Straw crawled to the door.

"Never fear, wench," said he, "I 've no mind to marry and be cuckold."



                            CHAPTER II

                            Blackheath


On a Wednesday, being the twelfth day of June in that year, which was
the fourth year of King Richard II., Wat Tyler and John Ball set up
two great banners of Saint George on Blackheath, which was a moor that
lay to southward of London, distant from the Bridge by the highway
five mile. And thither came folk from north and south all that day,
and encamped round about those two banners. Calote was there, and
Stephen, and Long Will, to see them come in. Now 't was a band out of
Surrey, singing as they marched:--

    "When Adam delved and Eve span,
     Who was then the gentleman?"

Now 't was foresters from the Weald, threescore and more. Anon, the
men that had seen the siege and the taking of Rochester Castle came
in; and these went about from one to other of the bands, telling their
tale, leaping in air and shouting as they were mad. Villeins and free
labourers of Sussex by score and by hundred came.

"John Ball hath rungen our bell!" they said; "John Ball hath rungen
our bell!"

"H-how shall these men be fed?" Stephen asked John Ball.

"London shall"--John Ball began, but he looked on Stephen and stayed
his speech; and quoth he presently: "So 't is thou?"

For, albeit Stephen had donned his tabard and coarse hosen, his hair,
which was of a pale brown colour like to the King's, was curled very
daintily; and he had a girdle, the which peasants might not wear, and
a short sword therein and a dagger.

"Yea, 't is I, Stephen Fitzwarine," he said. "W-Will Langland shall
speak for me that I be ever true man."

"He saith soth," Will answered; "'t is a very gentleman and our
brother."

"Yea," affirmed Wat, who was come up. "Were all the King's servants
like to this one, our daughters"--But then he broke forth into cursing
and crying out upon God and Christ Jesus very blasphemously, that
Calote wept to hear. Long Will went aside with him to speak comfort,
and John Ball turned again to Stephen.

"Art thou even now of the household of the King? 'T is very well. We
have sent a message to the King to pray him that he come hither to
speak with us concerning this Rising and a remedy. Do thou go up and
be seen o' the river shore when he cometh; haply he 'll come the more
willingly an he see a friend."

"Let the maid go with me," said Stephen. "She hath a token from
Richard; her word also will he trust."

So Calote and Stephen went up to Thames by the Rotherhithe shore, and
as they went they met a great rout of Essex men come across the river.
They had three bloody heads on poles, the which they bore for banners,
and these were three clerks that served the tax-collector was driven
out of Brentwood the last week in May. Crows flew squawking round
about these heads. Meanwhile, the men strode on, chaunting:--

"'Jack Trueman doth you to understand that falseness and guile have
reigned too long.'"

And they told Stephen and Calote as how other Essex men were encamped
t' other side the river before Aldgate, to keep the city from that
side. And these other were Jack Straw's men.

And Calote and Stephen went down to the water's edge and stood with
the throng that waited for the King.

An hour they waited, singing, jostling, and in the end the royal barge
came down the river with Richard standing in the prow, and that old
warrior and very perfect gentleman, the Earl of Salisbury, at his
right hand. In the midst of the boat Sudbury stood, and Hales, and
when the folk on shore saw these two they set up a shout of--

"Traitors!--Give up the traitors!--The Chancellor!--The
Chancellor!--Poll-tax is his!--'T is Simon Sudbury taxed us!--They
shall be slain!"

Whereupon my Lord of Salisbury made a sign to the rowers that they
should cease rowing, which they did, and the barge stood still in the
stream.

"How shall these jack-fools be hushed?" said Stephen. "They spoil
all!"

Then Calote wound the King's horn, once, twice, thrice, and in the
silence that followed after, Stephen put his hand to his mouth and
shouted: "A parley! A parley!" and after: "My Lord King, beseech thee
come hither, and alone, to speak with thy people. Shall none harm come
to thee."

"A demand most uncourtly strange, Etienne Fitzwarine," cried the Earl
of Salisbury, "that the King's person be sent unguarded among a pack
of rebels. It may not be."

"My lord, now is no time to be nice in small matters. Moreover, these
be not rebels, but loyal, true lovers of the King."

"Yea,--yea!--God save the King!" shouted the mob. "Let our King come
to us that we may advise him of our wrongs."

From where they stood on shore they could see Richard in the barge,
how he laid his hand on my Lord Salisbury's arm and spoke earnestly
with him. But my Lord of Salisbury shook his head, and the Archbishop
and John Hales came up a little way into the prow, as they were
pleading and craving a boon.

"This thing is not possible, that the body of our King should be
delivered to ruffians and staff-strikers," called out the Earl of
Salisbury yet again. "We, being his true servants and guardians, dare
not do this thing; for if so be any harm come to him, all England will
lay it at our door, and rightly. Neither may we come to land with him,
seeing ye are so hot to slay certain among us, and one of those the
Archbishop of Canterbury. This is scandal and deadly sin. I call upon
ye to disperse, in the King's name!"

"We are risen in the King's name," cried out an Essex man; "how, then,
shall we disperse?"

They could see Richard urgent, though they might not hear his words;
and the Earl always shaking his head for answer; and Robert Hales with
his two hands clinging to the King's cloak as a suppliant. Then the
Earl of Salisbury made sign to the rowers, who began to turn the barge
backward and rowed up the river again to the Tower, the while the
people on Rotherhithe shore cursed and roared for rage.

Now when they were come again to Blackheath they found more men from
Kent; and the taking of Canterbury was in every man's mouth; how the
mayor had sworn oath of fealty to King Richard and the Commons, and
the monks were afeared for their lives.

"Rochester and Canterbury is ours!" they cried.--"London next!"

Those that had a crust shared it, but they were few; a-most men on
Blackheath went hungry that night.

"Yea, London next, and that quickly," said John Ball. "A man may not
fill his belly with furze and heather."

Meanwhile he preached to them that they might forget their hunger.
There were so many that all could not come anigh, but those others
sang the catchwords and built fires on the heath; and some set off to
Southwark to see if they might find food in that suburb.

And presently came riding three aldermen from London to bring a
message from Mayor Walworth that the people should come no nigher
London, in the name of the King and the city. But when they saw how
many were gathered together, so that they might not be counted, and
more coming in as it were up from the edges of the world, they were
amazed and afraid. Nevertheless, two of them gave their message
faithful and rode again to the city; but John Horn spake with Wat and
the priest, and revealed to them that London for the most part was
friendly, and the prentices all of their party,--and he bade them to
come and take the city. Also he told them the name of the man should
keep the Bridge next day, and he was friend to them and would let down
the drawbridge whether or no Master Walworth gave leave.

"Nay, more," quoth he: "I will even bring certain of you, three or
four, into the city this very night, to tell the good citizens of
London of all this cometh to pass."

"Brother," said Stephen to John Ball, "prythee let him take the maid
into the city, and her father with her. This is no place for a maid at
night on the heath. And l-let me also g-go in, that I may get speech
of Richard and ad-advise him how to be friend to his people."

But now was heard a great clatter and trample of hoofs,--and women
shrieking, and the laughter of rude men,--and there came a coach close
to the banner where John Ball stood,--the horses plunging in a fright,
and a score of villeins clinging to their bridles; the coachman fast
bound on his seat, a stalward Kentish man sitting in his lap.

"What 's here? Women?" cried Wat, and leapt to the coach door. "Have
them out!--Let us see how these nobles will relish to have their
daughters rough entreated." He thrust his hand in, with, "Come out,
mistress,--my daughter's debt is but half paid!"

"Goddes dignité!" said Stephen. "'T is the Queen-Mother!"

Wat dropped the lady's hand and stared in amaze, and Stephen thrust
him aside.

"Madame, 't is Etienne Fitzwarine," cried out one of the ladies, which
was Godiyeva. "Now are we safe."

And Etienne opened the coach door and got in to comfort them,--and all
they were weeping.

"All England is risen up!" said the Queen. "The hedges are alive with
runaway villeins. And this great company,--what 's it to mean?"

"'T is the poll-tax, madame," Etienne answered her, "and the people is
past patience."

"Where is my son?" she shrieked. "Is he slain? Wherefore art thou
here?"

"The King 's in the Tower, madame, whither I 'll presently be your
escort. The people is faithful to the King,--they will not harm him a
hair,--nor the King's mother neither. I pray you patience, the while I
arrange this matter speedily as may be, and we 'll go on our way into
the city."

So he went out and spoke with John Ball and the alderman, and
meanwhile, the peasant folk, when they heard who it was in the coach,
stood a little way off, silent.

When Stephen came again to the door he had Calote by the hand, and he
said:--

"May it please your Majesté that this damosel ride within."

"An ill-smelling peasant!" cried the Queen.

"Madame," said Godiyeva, "'t is the little jongleuse; so you give
consent, she may sit beside me."

"Let me sit o' the coachman's seat," entreated Calote.

"Madame," Stephen made reply, "this damosel is promised to be my
wedded wife,--the night is chill."

"Thy wedded wife!" screamed all those ladies, and the Queen said, "Is
the world up-so-down?"

But whether from fear of all that rout of peasants, or whether from
desire to know what manner of maid this might be that should wed
Etienne Fitzwarine, they drew aside to make a place for her, and
Godiyeva put out a hand to help her in.

"And for the wretch that dared thrust in his hand to take us," quoth
the Queen, "let him be tied at tail of coach and so dragged to London.
See to 't, Etienne!"

"Madame, pray you pardon, but this may not be," said Etienne. "The man
is a leader among the people, and beloved."

He stood aside and looked out on the vast throng, and she, following
his eye, grew a little pale.

"The man hath provocation," Etienne continued; "his daughter was laid
hands on roughly by the King's tax-gatherer, not many days past."

"Let 's begone!" said the Queen hastily. "Christ, Mary, keep us safe!
Give me my beads, Godiyeva, and do ye all say a rosary, and be
silent!"

So they rode away to London, with Stephen standing on the step on one
side, and Long Will and John Horn riding on the other on the
alderman's horse. And Wat Tyler sat on the box seat beside the
coachman; but Stephen did not apprise the Queen of this.

In Southwark, as they rode, was mischief let loose, for the Marshalsea
Prison and King's Bench were set wide open and in a blaze, and all the
released prisoners making merry in the streets. Hot cinders fell on
the coach, and Wat had much ado that it should not catch fire. To
westward was another glow, where the people destroyed Lambeth Palace.

The Queen shut her eyes and said her prayers, but her ladies popped
head out of window, this side and that, and whispered, "What 's this
to mean?"--and "Who 's yon?"--to Stephen and Calote.

So they came to the Bridge and the drawbridge, and were let pass. And
now Calote and Long Will turned them to Cornhill; but Stephen went to
the Tower with the Queen.



                            CHAPTER III

                            In the City


On the Thursday the peasants came into London. Mayor Walworth might
not choose but yield when he saw how many were against him: aldermen,
citizens, and prentices. Wherefore he sent word to Wat Tyler to come
in with his men, if so be they would pay for bed and board, and do
none harm to that great city of London which was pride and glory of
all the English. And they came in by the Bridge and by Aldgate, a
gaping rabble,--for the most of them knew not London nor any city, and
these houses in rows, and Paul's Church, set them to stare. To these
the prentices were joined, and every street and every lane in London
ran a river of men. They filled the taverns. Dame Emma had no need to
cry "Good wine!--Come dine!"--and she did not take keep if they paid
or no. She clapped each on back, with "Welcome, brother!" And to them
that were young she gave her lips with a smack.

There was set up in Cheapside a block to behead lawyers and all such
as were enemy to the people, and there were a-many slain in this
fashion, hastily, without shrift. Calote saw this block, and the
bodies of men lying on heap; and the prentices played at foot-ball
with the bloody heads. And Calote ran down Cornhill as she were mad,
and burst into the cot to her father, where he sat a-copying Piers
Ploughman. To him she told these horrors, and when she had made an
end, he said:--

"Nay,--these be not brute beasts, but men, our brothers. This is the
meaning of battle. Haply angels wage war and is no letting of blood;
but not so men. Not yet."

"'T is Hobbe is headsman," sobbed Calote. "Oh, father,--Hobbe! And
shouting a jest with every blow."

"And thou and I, we know what a kindly man is this Hobbe; and if we
know, doth not Christ Jesus know, who shall absolve him? Be sure, if
the King's Son of Heaven hath given His work in hands of sinful men,
He knoweth to make excuse."

She lifted her head, bewildered:--

"Methought,--methought thou wert against wars, and this Rising?"

He smiled, amused, wistful, patient.

"I am one of the peacemakers," he said. "Natheless, in this battle,
the word of my Vision is on the lips of them that slay. I am not for
battle, 't is true; but these fight on God's side. If He give leave,
who am I to say nay?"

"And thou believest we shall win?" she cried. "Thou believest we shall
win?"

"What is 't--to win?" he asked. "Christ Jesus died on cross atwixt two
thieves; but He is victor."

This was the day the Savoy was burned, John of Gaunt's palace without
the gates twixt Temple Bar and Charing Cross, and all the furniture
and rich stuffs therein that were not burned were hewed and all
to-tore and cast in the river. Howsoever, John of Gaunt was in the
north at that time, and well for him. In the garden, Stephen, who was
in the forefront of the mob all that day, came upon a lad hid behind a
bush and busied in rending the badge of Lancaster from his sleeve.

"Dieu merci!--then thou art not slain, my lord!" cried Stephen.

But the boy, drawing a sword, ran upon him with, "Oh, thou false
traitor!"

"No traitor, my Lord Henry," Stephen answered, his hand twisting the
child's wrist that the sword dropped harmless. "No traitor, but
brother to the people and loyal true subject of King Richard. Have I
not sought thee this hour and more throughout the palace? Come, thou
art not safe till the Tower hold thee."

"If I were King," said the lad fiercely, "I 'd burn them all in hot
fire, as they have burned my father's house."

"Come," said Stephen, and led him hastily by the hand. But to depart
from the gardens they must needs pass nigh the blazing palace, and
presently they came upon rioters breaking up chairs and tables and
carved beds, and among these Jack Straw.

"What boy is this?" Jack cried, barring the way.

"A friend of mine," said Stephen.

"Then art thou traitor. The people has no silken friends."

"How often have I heard thee say," retorted Stephen, "that one day
thou and all men shall be clad in silk?"

There was a crowd gathering, men stood about with broken legs of
chairs, good bludgeons, in their hands.

"Natheless, to-day our friends go in russet and rags," said Jack
Straw.

"So be it," Stephen assented, and stripped the child of his silk coat
so that he stood in his shirt. "Art a-cold, friend?--Wilt have my
courtepy?"

"Nay," the boy answered, looking about on all those rough faces of
men, but with a strange gleam in his eye,--"nay,--the fire warms me."

They all laughed loud, except Jack Straw, that stooped and set his
face close to the boy's face, but the boy did not blink. "Here 's no
place for children," Jack cried, drawing back baffled.

"For that reason do I take him hence," Stephen explained.

Jack narrowed his eyes: "The boy hath a tongue in 's head, and stout
legs; is 't for this cause that thou art received into the Fellowship,
to play the nursemaid to lost brats? Thou bawdy waster, false faitour!
What knowest thou of brotherhood, that hast not soiled thy fingers
this day to serve thy fellows?"

"Nor I will not neither," cried Stephen. And at this word the men drew
yet more close and their faces were awry twixt anger and amaze.

"I say I will not," he repeated, "if to serve my fellows is to burn
and pillage other men's goods."

"Pillage!" roared all they as with one throat. "We be not thieves!"

"Ye say so," he answered, and then: "This cause is a righteous cause,
and I will not hinder; but 't is not I have suffered at the hands of
the noblesse; wherefore I will not wantonly overturn and lay waste. 'T
is my part to play messenger."

"'T is thy part to do whatsoever we bid thee," snarled Jack Straw.

"I am not of thy ményé, Jack," said Stephen.

"Nay, for only honest fellows are of my ményé,--thou art a traitor, a
liar, a spy"--

"After a little while I w-will kill thee, Jack Straw,--I will
s-sl-slit thy throat and c-cut out thy lying tongue,--but not to-day."

Jack wetted his lips and looked around upon his men; they were drawn
close, their faces were full of bewilderment, they watched their
leader and waited for a sign.

"And is this treason, brothers?" said Jack.--"He will slay me, in a
little while?--Will ye wait,--till he slay me?"--

There was a rustle,--a growl,--every moment the mob grew,--

"Will ye wait?" said Jack Straw again.

Some fellow in the crowd threw a carved bit of a bed cornice at
Stephen, but it fell short of him,--a chair leg struck his shoulder.
He unbuckled his sword and laid it on the ground at his feet; he
unbuckled the boy's sword also. A man with a table-top heaved up on
high set it down.

"Brothers," said Stephen, "kill me an you will; but I am no traitor.
Jack Straw and I have a quarrel concerneth us two and no other man.
One day we 'll settle it in fair fight,--one day when all men are
free. I am loyal true to the Fellowship,--and to the King. Are ye all
loyal to the King?"

"Yea,--God bless the King!" they cried.

"Ye come at the King by me, no man else may go in at the Tower. And
will ye kill me and leave the King prisoned with the noblesse?"

"Fitzwarine!--Fitzwarine!" cried a voice at the far edge of the
throng. "Is 't Stephen Fitzwarine yonder? Wat Tyler hath need of him
for a message. Fitzwarine!"

And the mob parted to right and left to let Stephen pass through. As
he went, one ran after and gave him his sword.

"And my sword?" said the boy, who clung to Stephen's hand and followed
close behind.

"Nay, let it lie," Stephen answered him.

By Charing Cross they found Wat Tyler, and, by good hap, Calote.

"Thou must seek out John Ball and bid him make a camp to-night on
Saint Catherine's Hill, where I will meet him," said Wat. "When thou
hast so said, come to me at the Fleet Prison, where we go to set
prisoners free," and he strode off in a great haste.

"Sweetheart," said Stephen then, and kissed his love; "here 's work to
do, and none may do it so safe and sure as thou. Take this lording by
the hand and lead him through the city to the Tower;--do not leave him
till he is entered there. Art afeared?"

"Afeared!" she cried, "and all the Fellowship my brothers?--Who is
this young lord?"

And Stephen made answer, "'T is John of Gaunt's son, Henry, shall be
Lancaster."



                            CHAPTER IV

                           In the Tower


Now all these things are writ in the Chronicles,--as how the Inns of
Court of the Temple was destroyed and records burned, and the Hospital
of Saint John of Jerusalem at Clerkenwell burned, and prisons opened;
wherefore this book needs not to tell.

So, when night was come and the people a little wearied of their wild
work, Wat Tyler sent the squire to Richard to know what the King would
do. For this thing was plain, that the most part of the people was
loyal to the King, and minded to follow him and obey Calote's hest.
And Wat Tyler, being wise, knew that if he would come at his goal, to
rule England, he must stand for a little behind Richard's chair.

"Bid the King come to his own," said Wat. "Thou and I and John Ball,
we be as honest men as Salisbury and John of Gaunt and Simon the
Archbishop."

In the beginning the guard at the Tower gate was loth to hold speech
with Stephen, but when he had given the word, and moreover thrown off
his hood that his face was plain, he was let come in; howbeit there
went a soldier at his side all the way.

When he came into the chapel, John Leg was there a-mumbling his
prayers, and at sound of footsteps he screeched and ran up the
altar-steps, For this John Leg was he that was leader of the poll-tax
commission, and he dwelt hourly in great fear of his life.

Beyond, in a large chamber, were gathered together all those that had
sought refuge in the Tower. The Queen was there, and her ladies,
withdrawn to the dais and whispering. In the midst of the room, at a
table, Salisbury sat, and Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Buckingham, the
King's uncle, and the Earls of Warwick and Suffolk, and Simon Sudbury
the Archbishop; also Mayor Walworth was there, set twixt Salisbury and
the Archbishop. Pages held torches nigh that they might the better
mark one another's faces, for the chamber was of a great size and full
of shadows. Within a window Robert Hales stood, looking out to north
where was a red glare far off without the city; and he knew that this
was his manor burning at Highbury. Sir John Holland and the Earl of
Kent sat on the dais step with the ladies, but the King was not
anywhere in the chamber. There was a young boy of haughty mien and
frowning brow that paced to and fro, and anon he halted to listen by
the table. This was Henry, John of Gaunt's son; and 't was he saw
Stephen and cried out:--

"My lords, here 's Etienne Fitzwarine! Now shall we know somewhat."

All those about the table turned and looked at Stephen, and the pages
held their torches higher.

"Art thou for us, Fitzwarine?" quoth Salisbury. "Art thou come as a
friend?"

"I am for the people, my lord,--with the King."

"The people first!" sneered Thomas of Woodstock, the Earl of
Buckingham. "A loyal servant, thou!"

"Doth not the King's self set the people first, afore the King?--May I
do less, my Lord of Buckingham?"

"How are we tainted!" groaned Sudbury the Archbishop.

"Tainted, ay!" Stephen cried. "The laws are so rotten that they
s-stink. The Statute of Labourers is a plague-spot, festering out of
the Black Death. Oh, my lords, cut it out!"

"This is Wyclif! This is John Ball!" Sudbury mourned, his head in his
hands.

"For the people?" questioned Salisbury anew; "that 's to mean the
rebels,--and against nobilité?"

"Hear the word, my lord," Stephen said, and never a stammer caught his
tongue.

   "'When Adam delved and Eve span,
     Who was then the gentleman?'

"Against all men am I, merchants, noblesse, lords of manors, that do
oppress their brothers, and hold to villeinage. This law of villeins
is a dead law shall no longer be hanged about the necks of English
peasants. We be free men. Lawbreakers, say ye?--Of a sureté we 'll
break that law of villeins, smash and stamp it under foot, till 't is
past mending. I am for the villeins,--and the King. I am sent a
message to the King from his loyal people."

"By the rood of Chester!" shouted Thomas of Woodstock, "and thou art
come hither red-handed from slaughter and pillage of the noblesse to
cast insult in the teeth of the King?--A message from yonder
rabble?--A plot, a murder, belike!"

"Dost thou think so?" quoth Stephen very quiet, and drew sword and
dagger and laid them on the table.

"My Lord of Buckingham, we are sore tried," said Salisbury, "and 't
would seem we had just cause for anger these three days; natheless,
let peasants rage; 't behoves us keep our tongues and tempers. Prythee
give again his sword and dagger to Etienne Fitzwarine."

"Nay, my lord," Stephen interposed; "'t was I was over-hasty to lay
them down. I 'll take them up and bear no malice.--Beseech you, where
is the King?"

"Gone above to look forth from a turret," Henry answered. "I would
have borne him company, but he 's in the sulks."

"My lords, pray you, let me go bring hither the King," said Stephen,
and he went into that corner of the room where a door opened upon the
stair. Young Henry followed, plucking at his sleeve, with:--

"An thou canst, make my cousin to see here 's his time to play the
man. But he 's a poor thing."

"My lord, 't is not so simple to be a king," Stephen answered coldly.

"To know what one will have, and to take it,--is not this enough?" the
boy said with scorn. But Stephen left him and climbed the stair.

The dusk of summer came in at the windows of the dark turret, and in
one of the windows Richard sat, hugging his knees.

"Go down, cousin!" he said sharply, without turning his head.

"'T is Etienne Fitzwarine, sire," Stephen ventured.

"Ah, thou!" exclaimed the boy. "Come hither, mignon!" and held out his
arms.

"On every hand they thwart me," he complained. "Mine Uncle Buckingham
counselleth one way and Salisbury another. If I speak, they do not
listen; and if I rest silent, my cousin Henry hath fixed me with
scornful eyes, as who should say, 'Were in thy shoes,'--Christ, but I
do hate my cousin Henry!--Etienne, methinks my star hath slipped,--I
was not meant to be a king. One day 't will be discovered; then they
'll cry out for Lancaster."

"My lord," Stephen soothed him, "hast thou heard how they have cried
out all this day in London streets, and at the burning of the Savoy,
'We will have no King called John?'"

"His name is Henry," the boy answered, "'t is a froward child;" and
then passionately: "Natheless, tell me 't is not true! Tell me,--tell
me!"

"Look out of window, sire, on Saint Catherine's Hill, where thy people
wait thee! So shall these fears and follies be dispelled."

"Let us to the battlement to breathe," said Richard. "Is more to see;
and I 'm smothered here, walled in with my cousin."

So they went up; and all around the sky was red, but not with the sun,
for that was set three hours past. There was a smell of ashes on the
air. Near by, to eastward, on Saint Catherine's Hill, the peasants
were encamped. Which is to say, as many as were not lodged in the
city; Will Langland had a score and six lying close in his cot, and
Dame Emma harboured threescore and ten; there were some slept in
Paul's Churchyard, and others in aldermen's soft beds,--that had never
known but straw. Nevertheless, the most part of them was on the hill,
and this was so close beneath the Tower that Richard, leaning on the
battlement, might descry their faces very plain by the light of the
camp-fires.

"And dost thou bid me look on these and so be assured I am a king?" he
said, and laughed, the better to swallow a sob.

"My lord, these are the honesty of England," said Stephen. "Truest men
on live. Trust them!"

"Yonder 's one with a brand on 's brow,--I see it, T!" cried the boy.
Then he covered his face and shuddered.

"They have opened the prisons," said Stephen. "Oh, sire, judges err,
and wherefore not these poor? Do but come out to them and hear what
they would ask of thee, and thou shalt see how they 'll be led like
little children."

"And would I not so, an I had my way?" Richard cried. "But old
Salisbury saith they 're rebels and 't is not meet the King should
bend to their will. And Simon Sudbury lives in fear of his life, and
so he saith they seek mine also."

"They will not have it they 're rebels, sire, being risen in the name
of the King."

"What for a riddle is here?" sighed Richard, but also he smiled.
"Shall we say to these, my kinsmen and guardians, that the King hath
bidden his people to rise against the kingdom?--Dost think I 'll be
called a fool?--Nay!--Neither am I a babe to believe that thou and I
and yon ragged rout may rule England in despite of mine Uncle Gaunt,
and Earl Percy, and other the flow'r of England's chivalry,--for all
Will Langland's Vision of Ploughmen."

"But these folk do not demand to rule, my lord," protested Stephen.
"'T is to be made free men, no longer villeins and serfs."

"The Archbishop saith 't is more than this,--for that John Ball and
Wat Tyler be desperate men and they have made a plot to slay all
nobilité. If they do so shall not I be as truly in bondage as now I
am? And how vile bondage! Faugh!--filthy hinds!--Canst smell their
stench even now?"

Stephen leaned on the battlement pondering what he would say. At last
he spoke, his eyes fixed always on the hill and the restless throng
thereon:

"'T is very true," he said, "that there be certain among them are
consumed with the s-sin of envy and lust of power, but the most part
of the people m-meddleth not with these subtleties. Freedom is their
desire, and not to be called villeins; and when they have obtained
these, they will return to their homes. For W-Wat Tyler and Jack Straw
and John Ball, they weigh not a fly as against King Richard in the
hearts of the people."

"Sayst thou so?" the boy murmured, and clutched Etienne's
shoulder,--"sayst thou so?" Then he flung out his arms on the
battlement, and his head on his arms. "Ah, wherefore do I take keep if
this people love me or no? Wherefore do I take keep of the love of
dirty ploughmen, vermin-ridden,--of branded knaves and silly ragged
folk? But I do,--Dieu, ma vie, I do!"

"Then come to them, sire!--Hear them!--Another day and 't will be too
late. They will believe thou hast forsaken them,--and what they 'll
then do, I dare not think on. They are not so strong as to overturn a
kingdom, but"--He swept his arm about, where the sky glowed to the
north, and westward the Savoy lay, red embers. "Oh, sire, they have
made Cheapside a shambles!"

"Wilt thou have me go out, now, thither?" said Richard, pointing to
the camp. Here and there men slept. Others roasted bullocks by the
fire that hissed with the dropping of blood. The sound of a catch came
up:--

    "Help truth, and truth shall help you!
     Now reigneth pride in price,
     And covetise is counted wise,
     And lechery withouten shame,
     And gluttony withouten blame.
     Envy reigneth with reason,
     And sloth is take in great season.
     God do bote, for now is time."

"If we do," the King continued, "we must steal forth secretly, mon
ami; for Sudbury and the rest would never let us from the gate of
their own will."

"Nay, we 'll not go to-night, sire; but do thou come down with me to
the chamber below and persuade the Archbishop and Salisbury that thou
wilt meet the people on the morrow to have speech of them,--else all
London is like to be made a desert afore aid come."

So they went down and, at the foot of the stair, young Henry sat,
half-asleep, but he shook himself and followed after them to the table
whereon the nobles now leaned elbow in gloomy silence.

"My lords," said Richard, "here 's Etienne Fitzwarine hath been in the
city all day, saith somewhat must be done if we will not have the
morrow's sun set redder than to-day's."

"Must be done!" shouted Thomas of Woodstock, shaking the table with a
blow of his fist.--"Have I not said so?--Up!--Assemble the guard and
make an onslaught! A sudden sally forth with the guard, at midnight
when these rebels be sleeping, and we may rout them and put them to
flight. These be village churls, untrained to matters of war,--they
'll fly before a sword. So saith Master Walworth likewise. Peasants
and prentices be no warriors. Moreover, Sir Robert Knolles holdeth his
own house against them in the city,--he will help us."

The Earl of Salisbury lifted his head as he would speak, but Richard
was before him.

"My lords," he said, and all they marvelled to hear his voice how it
was assured,--"my lords, I am going forth on the morrow to have speech
of my people;--to hear what it is they will have. Etienne saith they
desire freedom and no more to be called villeins. My lords, I know
what this is, to desire to be free. I and my people, we shall be free
men on the morrow."

There was silence throughout the chamber, and every eye was fixed on
the King where he stood. Then Salisbury bent his gray head above the
boy's white hand that lay clenched on the table.

"Sire," he said, "if you can appease them by fair words and grant them
what they wish, it will be so much the better; for should we begin
what we cannot go through, we shall never be able to recover it. It
will be all over with us and our heirs, and England will be a desert."

"Give you good-night, my lords," said Richard then. "I will go to the
chapel to my prayers."



                             CHAPTER V

                              Mile End

    "Falseness and Guile have reigned too long,
     And Truth hath been set under a lock,
     And Falseness and Guile reigneth in every stock.
       No man may Truth come to,
       But if he sing 'si dedero.'
     True Love is away that was so good,
     And clerks for wealth work them woe.
         God do bote, for now is time."


These were the peasants from Saint Catherine's Hill that clamored
beneath the walls of the Tower in the dawn of the Friday morning.
Stephen looked out on them from a window above the gate and was
'minded of the waters of the sea, how they lapped about the cliffs of
Devon.

    "John Ball greeteth you all,"

sang the men,--

    "And doth for to understand he hath rung your bell.
         Now Might and Right, Will and Skill,
         God speede every dele!"

Some of them were drunken, others white and wild for lack of sleep.
Ragged they were, armed with mallets, cudgels, cruel knives. A-many
had the long bow which all the English must practise to twang; but
there was dearth of arrows, and not all the bows were strung. Of all
these the men of Kent were best armed and most seemly clad, and they
had arisen to right their brothers' wrong, and to make known that all
men should be free.

    "When Adam delved and Eve span,
     Who was then the gentleman?"

they sang; and then because they saw Stephen at the window, they began
to cry out to bid the King come to his people. Now the King stood
behind Stephen in the shadow.

"If old Archbishop Simon is to scape," quoth he, musing, "now 's time,
the while the people is drawn away hither. Go, one, to the Archbishop,
and bid him try the stairs and the water-gate, if so be he may flee in
a little boat."

"The King!--The King!" cried the mob. "Let us in! John Ball hath
rungen your bell!"

Stephen leaned out of window and made a sign with his hand that they
should cease, and after a little their clamour had sunk to murmurings
and he could be heard.

"Ye shall withdraw to Mile End," Stephen shouted. "Thither will the
King come to parley with you. And I make no doubt he shall grant
whatsoever ye shall ask in reason."

Then began the tumult anew:--

"Mile End!--Mile End, to meet the King!" they cried, and there was a
surging this way and that; for some would go at once to the
meeting-place, others strove to come nigher the walls of the Tower.

"Let us in!--Let us in!" roared these last. "'T is a trap to cheat us
o' Sudbury. Mile End, forsooth!--Nay, we 'll parley within the Tower."

"Tell them there is no room in the Tower for so great a multitude,"
said Richard, "wherefore I choose Mile End.--Tell them"--He paused
and turned to a page who came in, "Well, didst give the message?"

"Yea, sire; the Archbishop is even now gone down to the water-gate."

"Tell them," Richard took up the word anew, "the Tower is theirs to
search and to hold after I shall go forth of it to-day. They may enter
if they will. But I will not parley with them only at Mile End."

All this Stephen cried out of window, and presently there began to be
a fraying away on the edges of the mob, as a cloud frays.

"Let us go and make ready," said Richard; his eyes were very bright,
he held his head high.

But when he had kissed his mother, and dried her tears, and had bade
saddle the horses,--and his half-brothers, Kent and Sir John Holland,
were fidgeting, pale, for that he would have them ride with
him,--suddenly came into the hall Simon Sudbury, with yellow sweat
beading on his brow.

"How now!" cried the King; "methought thou wert scaped by the river?"

"The watch on the hill hath keen eyes, sire. We put forth, but they
raised a cry. Was naught for 't but to turn back."

"But thou must begone!--I say thou must!" Richard exclaimed, stamping
his foot. "Christ!--I 've said they may come in and search!" Then he
went and caught Simon by the shoulders, and his lip quivered:--

"As regarding that poll-tax, thou wert a fool, my lord,--a fool!--a
fool! But thou art a faithful servant, and a true man,--and I love
thee!"

His voice broke, and he hid his face in the Archbishop's breast.

"Sire," said Simon gently, and put both arms about his king as 't were
his own son; "do not grieve! I know a way to baffle them. Go thou to
Mile End, and leave me here to play my part."

"Thou wilt surely scape?" Richard questioned.

"Yea,--I shall surely scape."

Then they went together into the chapel and prayed awhile; and when
the King was going out at the door, he looked back to see where the
Archbishop stood at the altar making ready the sacrifice of the Mass.
John Leg knelt on the steps and Robert Hales,--and there was a certain
friar, a friend of John of Gaunt, who served at the Mass.

So Richard rode forth of the Tower, and 't was a Friday in the
morning,--and with him Etienne Fitzwarine, and Thomas of Woodstock
that was Earl of Buckingham, and old Salisbury, and others,--earls and
gentlemen,--and also Sir John Holland and the Earl of Kent, the King's
half-brothers; but these, for fear, set spur to horse and departed
from the company into the fields.

Meanwhile, in the fields about Mile End the folk came together, a many
thousand, with their leaders. Long Will also was there, and Calote.
London prentices played at ball the while they waited; country louts
sang and cuffed one another; cooks went about crying "Hot pies, hot!"
There was a bearward with his beast, making merry. And in the midst
of this babel, John Ball and Wat Tyler and Jack Straw were silent. The
priest had set his back against a tree, and so stood with folded arms
and sunken chin, his eyes gazing out to a vision. Wat paced up and
down, restless; anon he lifted his head uncertain, and stood looking
down by the way the King must come; anon he gnawed his lip and strode
on. Jack Straw, squatting among the roots of a yew, watched those
others and bit his finger-nails.

"And what will ye do when the King cometh?" asked Long Will of the
three.

John Ball did not hear him, or if he did, he made no sign. Jack leered
up at Wat, and Wat stood still.

"How may a man know what he will do till the time come?" he said
uneasily.

Will lifted his eyebrows. Jack Straw hacked at the yew tree root with
his great knife. Wat walked slow past John Ball and back again to
Will, and here he came to pause.

"We shall make certain demands," he explained in a voice as he were
assuring himself,--"we shall make certain demands. 'T is wherefore we
are here."

He shifted from right foot to left.

"And if the King grant all?" quoth Will.

"Richard 's tongue-tied," sneered Jack Straw.--"No fear!"

"And do not ye desire that he shall grant these requests?" asked
Calote.

"Whether the King grant them or no, we shall take them," snarled Jack
Straw. "Are we not here to take them? What is the will of a weakling
boy in face of thousands?"

"Wat," Calote said, tugging at his sleeve, "what is 't thou 'rt minded
to do to the King? He is anointed of High God. Oh, Wat, what is 't
thou hast in thy heart to do this day?"

"Pshaw!" he groaned, jerking his arm away and clapping both hands to
his ears,--"I know not!--I know not! How shall I know till the time
come? Leave me in peace!"

And then there came a cloud of dust along the highway, and in the
midst of it King Richard, Etienne his squire, and Salisbury, and those
others.

When the people saw it they went mad with joy.

"Hath come!--Hath come!" they cried, capering and clipping and
kissing. "He is our King, come out to his own people!" And then there
went up such shouts as rent the air and could be heard far as London
wall. Jack Straw got to his feet and stuck his knife in his belt. 'T
would seem the shouting of the people made him dizzy, he staggered. It
was a wondrous compelling sound, this cry of joy of ten thousand
hearts set at rest. The King had come to them. He belonged to his
people.

John Ball and Wat Tyler came and stood with Jack beneath the yew tree,
the people surging all about.

"Fools!" muttered Wat.

"Thou fool!" Jack whispered twixt chattering teeth.

"I told thee, truth is better than strategy," said John Ball. "I would
have apprised the Fellowship our purpose to take him."

Hardly was he heard for the clamour. In the beginning there were only
shouts, but after a little there began to be disparted from the waves
of sound, words: "Long live the King!--Long live the King!--Long live
the King!"--The blessing roared like as 't were a torrent. Calote
could see how Jack Straw and Wat spoke one to other, for that their
lips moved,--but what they said was lost. They were very white and
their hands hanging down helpless. This joy that beat about them, they
might not escape from it, and it smothered them.

"How might I tell them?" gasped Wat,--"the maid hath preached love and
loyauté.--Is 't loyauté to take him against his will?"

"Wherefore, against his will?" said Jack.

Richard, in the midst of this rapture, laughed wistfully, with arms
outspread as to embrace his people, and when they saw this they cried
out anew: "God save the King!--Long live the King!--Long live the
King!"--And those that were nigh kissed his stirrups and his
saddlecloth.

"Mes amis!" he said, and they that saw his lips move began to beat
upon that tumult with: "Peace!--Peace!--The King speaks!--Peace!" till
the shouting died as the wind drops, and but for a solitary voice cast
up fitful now and again, there was stillness.

"What will ye?" Richard cried. "I am here. I have taken Reason and
Conscience to be my counsellors:--

    'And Reason shall reckon with you if I reign anywhile,
     And judge you by this day as ye have deserved.'"

And when they had heard the words of Long Will's Vision, they laughed,
and not a few wept for joy.

"Persuade him that he come to us," whispered John Ball.

"Do thou," Wat retorted, uneasy. "Thou hast a softer tongue and more
learning. Cursed be these fools!"

"Let one speak!" said the King, "and say what the people will have."

There was pause, rustle, a craning of necks to see.

Jack Straw shook as with an ague fit. Wat Tyler started uncertain,
looked at John Ball, and drew back.

"Speak thou!" said the priest, low. "I am under ban of Holy
Church,--his guardians will not hear me patiently."

There began to be a murmur: "Speak!--Speak!" and it waxed louder.

"I 'm a rough man; Jack, thou 'rt the crafty one,--oil thy tongue to
persuasion."

"If I speak now, wilt thou be silent hereafter?" asked Jack. "Art thou
leader--or"--

"Thou false hound!" said Wat.

"Where is Wat Tyler?--Where is John Ball?" cried the people; and the
muttering began to be a roar. "Speak!--Speak!--To be free!--Speak!"

"Rather fall on those others and carry him off to our midst!" Wat
exclaimed, fingering his knife and breathing quick.

John Ball caught his arm.

The throng swayed, and Richard's horse reared.

Then out of the press strode Will Langland, the maker of the Vision
Concerning Piers Ploughman.

"Sire!" he said, and his voice was heard so far that the muttering and
the swaying ceased,--"sire, we ask three gifts of thy grace; and the
first gift is to be free men. No longer villeins and serfs, but free;
no longer bound to the soil, but free to go and come, to marry our
daughters to whom we will, to grind our corn at our own mill,--to be
free! The High God, Emperor of heaven, when he set our father Adam
upon this earth, who was this man's master?"

Richard turned his head to look on the Earl of Salisbury:--

"Thy will is our will, sire," said the old man.

And immediately the King stood up in his stirrups, and:--

"Yea,--we will set each other free," he cried. "Lo, I strike off your
fetters, and I too am free!"

For a space of a minute there was silence, awe; and then the cry,
hoarse, shaken twixt wonder and terror. Then silence came again,
white-lipped, and there were a-many fainted in their brothers' arms.
And that was a long silence.

"Speak!" said Richard huskily to Long Will. "Here 's one grace
granted,--name other two."

"That we may pay a rent henceforth for the land whereto we were bound
aforetime. We are not thieves, neither would we be lollers,--we be
honest men desirous to till the land. Four pence the acre is the rate
we would pay."

"Ay, ay, four pence!" cried a score of men.

"'T is folly!" whispered Thomas of Woodstock and the Earl of Warwick
angrily. "'T cannot be done! Fools!--So paltry price is ruinous!"

"Natheless, let it stand, my lords, and patience," said Salisbury. "A
price may well be changed.--Now, 't is wise to grant all. If the
people sees that we dissuade the King, hardly shall we escape alive.
God knows I be not afeared o' death, but I would serve the King the
best way,--and 't is not by dying."

"Four pence the acre," said Richard; "this also do I grant."

"And the third grace, O King," said Long Will;--"the third is pardon!"
And he went down on his knees, and immediately all that multitude fell
down, and some on their faces, crying, "Pardon!"--"Pardon for John
Ball!--Pardon!--Pardon!--For Wat Tyler!--For all!--For all!"

"It shall be written that ye are pardoned," said Richard. "It shall be
written that ye are free!"

And then they came leaping about him, weeping, singing, blessing; and
he sat in their midst with tears rolling down his face.

"It shall be written!" they cried; "it shall be written!--Bring
clerks!" And presently there were set down some thirty clerks, and
Will Langland among them, a-scribbling. And so they were busied two
hours and more in that place.

Stephen came and leaned on Will's shoulder, and, "Eh, well, my father,
what th-think'st thou?" he asked, exultant.

Will stayed not his hand, but with head bent above the parchment he
said: "Methinks Parliament will have somewhat to say of this matter.
Kings of England may not bind and loose at their own pleasure; though
't is the people that ask. Here 's a riddle."

"But thou?"--Stephen faltered.

"I spake for the people."--Then he turned to a ploughman, with, "Here,
brother, is thy parchment. Keep it dry, and pray God it may serve thee
in time of need. Where is Wat Tyler?"

"He went to the Tower an hour past; said he had business therein."

Now the King gave also of his own banners, to each county a banner,
that the men when they returned to their villages might be known to be
King's men on the highway, and no rioters. And a-many, so soon as they
had their pardon and parchment of freedom, went back to their own
home;--and this was what Salisbury desired. Nevertheless, the most
part of the people abode where they were, and when the King set out to
return to the city, they were with him, singing and shouting, and he
in their midst. But when they were come to Aldgate and turned into the
way that led to the Tower, there rode to meet them a soldier of the
Tower, that said:--

"Sire, we have taken madame your mother to Barnard Castle Ward, and
the Garde Robe, hard by Paul's Church. Will it please you go thither.
The Tower is taken and no longer safe."

"No longer safe?" laughed Richard. "How now!"

"Sire," said the soldier, "the people have slain the Archbishop of
Canterbury, and set up his head on London Bridge."



                            CHAPTER VI

                             Free Men


"Symkin Royse," said Long Will; and Symkin came and took his papers
and thrust them in his breast.

Long Will sat by the window of the cot on Cornhill, filling in the
King's pardons and manumissions. Within the house there was a score
and more of labourers and villeins awaiting their turn and making
merry meanwhile. Without in the street men kissed and sang, and wept
for joy, and danced. Beneath Dame Emma's ale-stake they sat drinking,
with women on their knees. In the tavern also there were clerks
writing.

"Adam Kempe," said Will; and, when Adam had folded his papers very
small in the point of his hood, "Give thee God-speed o' thy homeward
way, brother."

"Nay, not yet!" quoth the rustic. "All 's not ended. I bide the
bidding o' Wat Tyler and Jack Straw. Is more work to do."

"What more?" asked Will, drawing forth a fresh pardon.

The man chuckled.

Presently came Kitte with black bread and beans and a mug of ale,
which she set down in the window beside her husband.

"Eat," she said. "These have waited a lifetime to be free; let them
wait now three minutes. Thou 'rt famished."

He smiled sadly. "Were they in vérité free, I 'd gladly starve," he
said; and Calote heard this, who ever stood near her father.

"The King's seal is affixed to every of these papers," said she. "What
more?"

But Will had filled his mouth with beans, and chewed, the while he
wrote.

"Ah," sighed Calote; "wherefore may I not rejoice?" And on a sudden
she had caught her mother by the two hands and danced with her down
the long room and into the lane. But there she paused twixt laughter
and tears, and:--

"Oh, mother, is 't naught to thee that England is free?" she cried.
"Sing!--Laugh!--Kiss me, mother!--Be glad!"

"I 'll kiss thee," Kitte said, and so did, thrice, smiling tenderly.
"When thou and thy father are at peace, I am at peace likewise."

There came a cloud in Calote's eyes. "But dost thou love none but my
father and me?" she asked.

"I love mine own," said Kitte. "Thy husband I shall love, and thy
children. I am glad thy children will be free men."

Calote clung to her mother. "And I had forgotten them!" she said.
"Yet, meseems as every peasant in England were child of mine this day,
so doth my heart beat for them. I 'm mother to all free English!--Ah!"
She cast her arms above her head, and her face was shining.

"Thou art thy father's daughter," Kitte said; but then she caught the
maid to her breast: "Thy father's daughter," quoth she, "but I 'm the
woman that bore thee. Thou wilt not be always content to mother the
world only."

"There be a-many kinds of love," Calote mused. "One while methought
certain of those were forbidden to me,--but mayhap"--

And now there was a clatter of tongues in the house and they went in
again out of the lane. Wat and Jack were come, and many with them.
Some of these were roaring drunk, but Wat was sober enough, and Jack.

Will Langland wrote certain words on a parchment and handed to Wat.

"What 's this?" Wat asked; "Piers' bull?"

"'T is thy pardon," Will answered him.

And Wat took the parchment and tore it across:--

"I ask pardon of no man!" he cried. "That I do is well done. Neither
is this the end."

Will arose from his seat in the window and went and put his hand on
Wat's shoulder:--

"'T is time thou wert o' the road to Dartford," said he, "and all
these scattered. Is naught more to do. Let Piers get back to his
plough and keep his hand from mischief. He 's free; his house is swept
and garnished; 'ware lest other devils enter in. Go home, Wat! Thou
hast done well."

"Then I 'll do bet," said Wat. "Is thy knife keen, Jack? Who comes
with us, my brothers?"

"I,--I,--I!" cried all; and Will thrust pen in penner and went out
with them.

"Whither do ye go?" Calote asked Jack Straw. "And wherefore is thy
knife keen? Now is peace."

"We go to kill pigs by the waterside. Hark, and presently thou 'lt
hear them squeal," he answered.

And as they went down the street, she heard them crying out against
the Flemings that took bread out of poor men's mouths with weaving of
English wool.

"Thy children are unruly," said Kitte. "But 't is the way of all such.
Nay, weep not, my daughter,--weep not!"

"Oh, mother, dost not thou weep that blood is shed?"

"Yea," Kitte answered indifferent; "but if thy father come to no harm,
I shall dry my tears."

These Flemings were certain weavers from over sea that came to
England, the greater number of them in the lifetime of King Edward III.
and the good Queen Philippa. And whereas before that time much wool
was sent out of England across the Channel to be wove into cloth, now
it was more and more woven in this country. But forasmuch as by
courtesy of King Edward, Flemings needed not to pay the gild tax,
therefore were they hated of the gild of weavers of London; and these
persuaded Jack Straw and other peasant folk that if there were weavers
in England, they ought to be English weavers; and wherefore should the
English go hungry and in bonds when Flemings fed and were free? A-many
of these weavers dwelt in the streets by the waterside, and thither
went Wat and Jack and Will,--the mob swelling at their heels. This was
a London mob, prentices and artisans for the most part.

"What 's to gain?" asked Will.

"Blood!" Wat answered him.

Then, they being come to an open place and beyond was a long street
silent, deserted, Will turned him to the mob.

"Go back, brothers!" he cried. "Do not wilfully shed blood."

"On,--on!" screamed Jack Straw. "Do they not eat your bread and pay
naught?"

The rabble shouted and pressed forward. Long Will spread his arms out
wide, as he would keep the street.

"Ye are mad!" he said. "Will ye slay innocent folk?"

"Innocent!" yelled a weaver's prentice, and the mob growled, but none
put aside Long Will out of the way.

"These are your brothers," he persisted,--"honest workingmen like to
yourselves."

"Brothers!" sneered Jack Straw. "Hear him, ye men of London! Are we
brothers to Flemish hogs?"

"Out of the way, Will," said Wat. "They 'll trample thee."

"O men of London, prentices, citizens," the poet cried anew, "will ye
sin against hospitality?"

A snarl answered him.

"Will ye betray the guest that shelters in your house?"

The snarl had sunk to a murmur.

"Will ye betray the bidden guest?"

"'T is a lie!" said Jack.

"A lie! A lie!" yelled a score of throats. "'T was not we bid them."

"Doth not the King speak the will of the people?" Langland asked. "And
King Edward bade them come."

"Nay!" said Wat, "the King hath not spoke the will of the people in my
day ever."

"Nay,--nay,--nay!" the mob answered him.

"Stand o' one side, brother," Wat said again. "We would not harm
thee."

"I 'll bide here!" Will answered, and lifting up his voice, "Is enough
blood shed in this rising. I say ye shall not murder these harmless
strangers."

"Ho, ho!" roared Jack, "poet looketh to the noblesse for a son-in-law,
and we do know English cloth is not fine enough for the court."

There went up a howl of rage from weavers in the throng. They would
have rushed into the street and over Will, but Wat set his back
against the press, and also there was another man, pot-bellied,
grizzled, withstood them.

"Serfs,--villeins!" cried Will, "ye are not fit to be free! The King
hath rent your bonds in sunder, and how do ye repay him?"

"We be men of London, never villeins!" roared the half of that mob.

"Natheless, ye are in bonds to Satan your master, and ye do his work!"
Langland answered them, his face flushed.

"Who hath stirred us up this twenty year?" shouted a voice in the
crowd. "Thou, Will Langland! Thou, false traitor! Wilt desert thy
fellows?--Coward!--Limb o' Satan, thou, if we be Devil's men."

Then there were many voices:--

"His daughter hath married a lord!"

"Curse him for a renegade!"

"Out o' the way!"

"On, on!--the Flemings!"

Will budged no inch,--his arms were spread wide.

"I say ye do defeat your own end by this slaughter. To-day ye have the
victory, freedom, and pardon. Disperse! What will ye more? Hath not
the King given all was asked?"

"All thou didst ask!" said a voice.

His face flamed red. "Ingrate cowards!" he cried,--and then on a
sudden his wrath was spent. He dropped his arms, his voice was level:
"The cause is lost!" he said. "Love is a long way off, and truth."

Not many heard him, for that the clamour was risen anew; the foremost
men lurched forward, thrust upon by those behind. Wat, crying "On,
brothers!" flung Will aside, and the pot-bellied man also laid hold on
the poet and drew him close within a doorway,--none too soon, for the
mob was let loose, and rushing down the street as 't were a torrent.
Presently houses began to be burst open, and men flung out of window.

Will sat bowed together on the doorstone.

"A sight not to be soon forgot," said the grizzled one, breathing
quick.

Will lifted his head. "Thou, Master Chaucer!" he said.

"Ay, brother,--well met!"

"No friend of Gaunt is safe in London streets."

"Who is safe?" asked Chaucer. "No friend of the people, neither."

Langland groaned and clasped his head in his hands.

"'T was said thou hadst made peace," said Chaucer. "Methought 't was
ended, this rioting."

"Peace!" cried Long Will. "There shall be no peace so long as men
strive to be king. When they have forgot to add glory unto themselves,
when they are content to serve their brothers,--then cometh peace."

"Take heart, brother," said Dan Chaucer. "Here be two men that do not
desire a kingdom,--thou, and I. To be singers is enough,--and this is
to serve men."

"Singers!" Will groaned. "Singers!--Oh!--See what a song hath
wrought!"

Then said Master Chaucer, cheerily, "'T is somewhat to die for a
song's sake. I have not yet stirred men so deep."

"I am I, and thou art thou," Will answered him.



                            CHAPTER VII

                             Reaction


Simon Sudbury's head hung grinning above London Bridge, and young
Richard lay at his length, face downward, on the stone floor of his
chamber in the Garde Robe, sobbing sick. None dared enter, not his
mother, nor Stephen, nor Mayor Walworth, nor Salisbury. Hushed and
fearful they waited behind the arras at the door, hearkening to the
boy how he wept and cursed and rent his garments. Now 't was the
people he railed upon, for that they had so burdened him with
bloodguiltiness in recompense of all his benefits:--

"I 'll torture them!" he cried, gnashing his teeth.
"Ingrates--Hounds!--Christ hear me!--I will avenge thy servant,--I
will avenge old Simon!"

Now 't was Sudbury he cursed for a fool:--

"Is this to serve a king?--To set his soul in peril of hell?--Not on
my head the Archbishop's blood, O God, not on my head! I 'm innocent!
How should I know he 'd be tamely taken? Fool that he was!--Weak
fool!"

And so he wept, blaspheming Christ, and beating with his hands upon
the stones.

"I loved them,--I loved them, good Jesu!--I gave them liberty,--and
they have betrayed me. Curse them! They shall be bound with new
bonds. I 'll have a bath of their blood,--I 'll drink it!--My
people,--mine!--and I loved them! Christ, I was betrayed; 't was not
of mine own will Sudbury was slain. I swear it,--O God, hear mine
oath!--Poor fool Simon! Pity!--pity!--How might I guess? Ah, Emperor
of Heaven, all-wise, I am so little while a king! Pity!"

At the last he lay so still they thought he swooned, and the squire
came in a-tiptoe.

"Etienne," said Richard then, lying all on heap, "bring hither a
scourge,--a knotted scourge. And bar the door."

And when the scourge was brought, and the door barred, and the
Queen-Mother weeping without, Richard got to his knees, shaking,
sodden, and tore his shirt off his back.

"Lay on!" he said. "The people have set their sins on my shoulders;
the Archbishop hath laden me with his trespass. Lay on the scourge!"

Etienne lifted his arm as he would strike, then lowered it.

"Sire," said he, "leave scourging till this business is ended. Is not
yet time. Thou must be leader of this people. Already thou hast set
them free from their lords and them that held them in bonds; now must
they be set free from their own fellows that would make them
slaves,--from Wat Tyler and Jack Straw. If thou overturn these, the
people is in the hollow of thy hand."

"Then will I chastise!" snarled the boy. "They shall feel the rod.
They have slain a good man and a priest,--the man that stood next the
King in this realm of England. These dogs have slain an
archbishop,--and shall I alone suffer for it? Ah!"--He cast up his
right hand in menace and sobs shook him. "I loved them,--I loved my
people, and thus do they requite me! Will scourgings in my body or in
their own wipe off this blot of holy blood wherewith they 've stained
my soul?"

"Oh, my lord," said Stephen, "if we bear our brothers' sins, what do
we more than Christ Jesus that bore our sins in His Body on rood? Yet
was He sinless; and so art thou sinless as concerning the death of the
Archbishop."

Richard put out his hand and plucked Stephen's sleeve: "Dost believe
it?" he cried, and there went a shudder through him. "Ah,
but--but--when Simon said, 'I know a way,'--I knew what 't was to
mean,--and yet--I went forth and left him. Etienne, Etienne,--I am
afeared I knew what 't was to mean! I am afeared I knew!--I am so
afeared!"

Etienne kneeled down and set his hands on the boy's shivering
shoulders, and looked in the frighted eyes:--

"This were impossibilité to know, sire," he said. "Say it not
again,--nor think it. Already I have forgotten thy words. Thou couldst
not divine the will of most high God. Thou art not afeared. Stand up
and be the King!"

Slowly, his eyes staring in Stephen's eyes, Richard got to his feet.
"I--I--could not--know!" he gasped. "I could not know!--I must forget;
yes. Even a king could not know. But I shall alway fear I"--He broke
off and stood silent.

When he spoke again he said, "What noise is that?"

"The prentices and men of London are killing Flemish weavers, sire,
not far away. 'T is a hellish mob."

"Presently they shall have a glut of blood," said the boy very quiet.
"I 'll see to 't. Go now, and bid them meet their King on the morrow
at Smithfield.--Nay,--have no fear, I 'll be gentle with these beasts.
I 'm not all fool."

"Oh, sire, for love's sake be gentle, not for hate! They are thy
people."

"Etienne, Etienne,--did I not love them? I set them free. Ah,--do not,
do not,--I shall weep again,--and I 've left weeping."



                           CHAPTER VIII

                         The Friday Night


Night was fallen on that unlucky Friday, but the massacre of the
Flemings not yet ended, when Stephen came to Langland's cot from the
Garde Robe where Richard sheltered.

"Will! Where 's Will?" cried Kitte, searching the squire's face.

"Not here?"

"Ah, woe!" said Kitte, and went and sat down heavily in a corner.

Stephen had with him a torch, and he set it in a ring by the wall. It
was all the light in that house. Then he sat on the old chest and
Calote came to his side. He was very weary and leaned his head in his
hand.

"What is to be the end?" Calote questioned him.

"Christ Jesus answer," said Stephen.

"But the King hath pardoned and set free!" she persisted.

"Alas, the King!" he cried.

Calote stared on him, and then took him by the shoulder fearfully,
saying:--

"What will the King do?"

"No man knoweth what the King will do. Neither doth the King know. But
he will follow his mood.--Who can guess what the mood of a king shall
be? To-day a blessing, to-morrow a curse."

"Thou 'rt sick with weariness," she whispered, and took his head in
her arms against her breast.

"Who shall say that this people deserveth to be free?" he mused.

"This is matter of judgment for Christ Jesus," she answered soft.
"What hast thou to do with it,--what hath the King?"

"Is not the King anointed of God?" said he.

A moment she was silent, and when she spoke her voice was slow,
uncertain: "I would not blaspheme," she said, "but whiles I wonder if
he be not anointed of men. The King of Heaven hath a most marvellous
confidence to give this realm of England into the hands of a little
wilful lad."

"Is 't wiser to set Wat Tyler in his room?--Natheless, on the morrow
this may hap."

"God forbid!" murmured Calote.

"I 'm bidden say the King will meet all peasants and other that have
borne a part in this rising, the morrow morn at Smithfield. This is
all I know, or any man else in England. Behooves me go forth to find
Wat."

"Nay,--rest here!--He will surely come to this house when his
bloodthirstiness is quenched."

"Calote," said Kitte, "come to bed! From the upper window I 'll keep
watch for thy father."

"Thou wilt stay?" Calote pleaded with Stephen.

"Yea," he assented, kissing her good-night.

So Calote and Kitte mounted to the chamber under the roof, but Stephen
lay down on the floor of the lower room, and presently he was fast
asleep.

The torch went out, but the door into the lane was open and a little
moonlight shone on Stephen's face. Without on Cornhill red-handed
prentices were going home to their beds. There was fierce mirth in
Dame Emma's tavern. After a little the front door of the cot was
pushed open and a man came in. When he had stood still a moment, he
heard the sound of measured breathing in the room and he knew that a
man was asleep there. Then he saw where the sleeper lay, on the edge
of the moonlight; and after this he came more close and saw the
sleeper's face. But his own face was hid by the darkness. He drew
something from his belt and it flashed against the shine of the moon
and dripped. Then he came betwixt Stephen and the door, and the light
was cut off from Stephen's face. There was no sound in the room but
Stephen's breathing,--'t would seem the other held his breath. He
kneeled down, and now 't was his own face the moon shone on. He was
smiling very evil. He lifted up his hand that held the flashing
thing,--and Kitte in the doorway cried "Awake!" in a very loud voice
and threw herself upon the man, and he turned his hand and drove the
knife into her breast. Then he fled by the door, and Kitte fell across
Stephen's knees where he had sat up on a sudden out of his sleep.

When he would have lifted her, he found the hilt of the knife.

"Do not draw it forth," said Kitte, "not yet. Will--may--come."

Then Stephen called Calote, who came into this great grief rubbing the
sleep from her eyes.

"Nay, weep not, child," said Kitte when 't was told. "What shall thy
true love believe,--dost thou grudge him life?"

But Calote sobbed more bitterly, lying on the floor beside her mother.

"Will," Kitte whispered; and Stephen went to the door and looked out
and saw him coming.

"I have been going up and down," said Will, "praying mercy. But they
are mad with blood. One man I saved; but when I came that way again
another had slain him and he lay in the ditch. Yonder in the tavern
Wat and his demon Pride make merry and proclaim how they will rule
England. Poor Wat! Already there be certain of his fellows look
askance. Poor Wat!"

"Go in!" whispered Stephen, and told him.

After, the squire pushed him in for that he stood as one in amaze,
and shut the door on all that sorrow. But himself remained without,
and presently crossed the street to the tavern to give Richard's
message to the roisterers.

"Will," said Kitte, "do not grieve. Thou 'rt--the more--free--to serve
thy--lady--Saint Truth."

"Did that grieve thee?" he groaned. "In the Vision 't is a man,
Truth."

"Calote hath--her--love--and thou--freedom.--Better so!"

"Hush, mother, oh, hush!" sobbed Calote. "Dost thou not love us that
thou canst leave us lone so willing? Say thou 'rt sorrowing to leave
us! Ah, mother, say 't!"

Kitte looked in Long Will's eyes.

"Love us!" he cried. And then, "Kitte,--Kitte, is this likewise
failure? What have I done?--Stay,--and learn me to love! Oh, thou true
loving wife!--What have I done,--what have I done?--Forgive me!"

"Draw forth--knife,--the more ease," she said.

The blood came in a great gush very swift.

"Kiss me," she whispered.

And when he had done this, she was dead.



                            CHAPTER IX

                            Smithfield


In the dawn of Saturday London streets were all astir. On all the
streets and amid the lanes close by Thames the Flemish widows bewailed
their dead. On Cheapside and along Cornhill men were met together;
some there were in bands with banners, and some singly. Also there ran
up and down certain fellows that cried:--

"Go ye to Smithfield, good folk, 't is the King's will to meet with
you in that place."

Others shouted: "Wat Tyler biddeth you to Smithfield, all the
Fellowship."

Whereat there were a-many laughed; and they said: "Do we the bidding
of Wat Tyler, or is the King our liege and lord?"

But there were others frowned.

"Heard ye Wat in Dame Emma's tavern last night?" they said, and their
brows bent dark.

"In Norfolk do we dub so proud speech treason."

Then looked every man over his shoulder hastily.

"Wat was drunk," quoth one after a little.

"When a man 's drunk he spills more than his victual," other answered
him.

"Wat Tyler biddeth you to Smithfield, all the Fellowship!" bawled the
crier.

"Wat Tyler's leader of the Fellowship, what harm?"

"Or John Ball?"

"I 'm of Jack Straw's ményé."

"Good folk, good folk, to Smithfield,--do the King's bidding!" shouted
another crier.

"Afore all I 'm King's man," said a Kentish villein.

"And I!"

"And I!"

"God keep the King!"

These things, and more after this same manner, the people said one to
another in the way to Smithfield. By New Gate they went, and Moor Gate
and Alders Gate, for this Smithfield was without the wall beyond Saint
Bartholomew's; a market square, wherein butchers slaughtered their
beef, a foul, ill-smelling place; and every man that went thither on
that June day was in some kind a butcher, with hosen bespattered with
blood, and brown patches dried on tabard and courtepy. Neither had
they cleaned their knives and knotted bludgeons, but came as they were
to Smithfield, dull-eyed with wine and sleep.

"What is to be the end?" they said; and there were some whispered: "'T
were well if we had let be the Flemings"--

"Lay not that on us! 'T is the London men shall answer for 't."

"I saw a-many men from Kent did"--

"Mark ye, brothers, 't is not the Flemings will undo us, but old
Simon, the Archbishop. There was a foul deed." So spake Hobbe the
smith, and all they that heard him crossed themselves.

"Who saith we 're undone?" blustered a fellow out of Sussex. "Have we
not the King's pardon, and villeinage is dead?"

Nevertheless, 't was a sober company choked the narrow streets and
swayed about the gates pressing to Smithfield.

And now the King came forth from the Garde Robe, his white-lipped
nobles with him, and rode through Temple Bar and along the Strand past
Charing Cross and John of Gaunt's blackened palace to the Abbey at
Westminster. Mayor Walworth was with the King, and Salisbury and
Buckingham and the other nobles that had sheltered in the Tower, but
they were not many, and they were very pale. Stephen walked with his
hand on the King's bridle, and this was the last time he should do the
King this service, but he was not aware, nor the King neither.
Nevertheless, Stephen knew that he must one day reckon with the
nobles; and if not with the nobles then with the peasants. Howbeit, in
this hour he took no keep of his own soul and body, but pondered how
the quarrel should end.

There was little speech among the nobles. These were brave men, but
faint with much watching and bewildered. That all England should be
turned up-so-down by peasants and common folk was a thing not to be
believed; nevertheless, the nobles knew that the Prior of Bury Saint
Edmunds was slain by a mob near Newmarket, and also Sir John
Cavendish, Chief Justice of England, who was on circuit in Suffolk,
but the rioters overtook him hard by Lakenheath. They knew that Saint
Albans was up, and already rumours were come up out of Northampton and
Cambridge and Oxford. There was fear of Leicestershire and Somerset;
what Yorkshire would do might not be determined. 'T was whispered that
many lords of manors and noble ladies wandered homeless amid the
forests of Kent, bewailing their manor-houses sacked and burned. These
things the nobles pondered as they rode from the city to Westminster
on Saturday, being the fifteenth day of June in that year, the fourth
of King Richard II.

Howbeit, neither at Westminster was found peace, for there came forth
of the Abbey a procession of monks, penitents, bearing the cross. Then
with groans and tears did these monks tell their tale:--

"O Lord King, the Abbey is defiled!"

"At the shrine of that most holy one, Edward the Confessor, blood is
spilled."

"Sire, avenge us!"

"Richard Imworth is slain, King Richard."

"Richard Imworth, warden of the Marshalsea, is murdered, sire!"

"His hand was even on the tomb of the Confessor."

"The people have shed blood in the church!"

"Sire, punish!"

"Who will save us?--The Archbishop is slain!"

Then did Richard light down off his horse and kissed the cross; and my
Lord Buckingham, the King's uncle,--that strong man,--burst into tears
and ran into the church. And presently, all those great nobles and
puissant gentlemen were within, running up and down with tears and
sighs to kiss and clasp the shrines and the most holy relics, sobbing
and shuddering liker to weak women than warriors; striving as who
should kneel more close to holiness,--and all the tombs and sacred
places wet with their weeping. King Richard knelt to pray at the
Confessor's shrine and bade call a father to confess him his sins,
which when he had done, the King went out soberly to his horse. And
all this while Stephen stood without the church holding the King's
horse by the bridle. So when the King was in his saddle they two
waited silent, and one after one the knights and nobles came forth;
and 't would seem they were greatly strengthened by those prayers and
confessions, for now they spoke together somewhat concerning ways and
means.

"If the peasants can be drawn forth of the city and the gates closed,
sire," said Walworth, "methinks we may hold against them. There be
many loyal citizens of London, and many more since yesterday, for
there begin to be murmurings against Wat Tyler."

"My Lord Mayor," said Buckingham harshly, "you will do well to
remember that one walketh at the King's bridle who maketh boast to
serve these rebels."

"I am the King's servant likewise," said Stephen.

"Were the good Archbishop on live," quoth Salisbury very grave, "I
make no doubt he would say a man may not serve two masters."

"The King and the people are one, my lord."

There was a murmur, yet none dared speak openly his discontent.

Then said Richard, nor turned his face to right nor left but rode
straight forward: "The King is the people."

Nevertheless, neither Stephen nor the nobles might read his meaning,
and 't were marvel if himself knew what he would do.

So they rode again through Temple Bar, but at Lud Gate they turned
northward without the city wall and on past New Gate, where peasants
followed them. And when they had passed by Saint Bartholomew's they
came into Smithfield, and the people were pressed together, a mighty
throng, at one side of the open square and beyond. But Will Langland
was not with the peasants at this time; he knelt in his cot on
Cornhill by the side of his wife, chaunting a prayer for the dead, and
his daughter was on her knees at the other side, and there burned tall
tapers at head and foot of the bier. It may well be that those deeds
which befel at Smithfield had not befallen thus and so if Will
Langland and his daughter Calote had been in that company; but as
concerning these things, who shall prophesy?

Now what followeth is known right well of all the world, to wit, that
part that is writ in the chronicles, as how Wat Tyler came across the
square sole alone to have speech of the nobles; and this he did
without fear, being upholden by that law of chivalry whereby a herald
and a messenger may not be evil entreated of an enemy; and these were
knights and gentles, flow'r of chivalry, wherefore though Wat Tyler
loved them not at all, yet did he trust them. Nevertheless, he spake
too bold, with a brawling tongue and small courtesy. He made plain
that he would be master, and the people was minded to rule England.

"Give me the King's dagger!" quoth he curt; and Richard gave his
dagger into his squire's hand and bade him give to Wat Tyler; and
Stephen did the King's bidding. Good Mayor Walworth, at the King's
right hand, swelled purple, and those others, nobles, cursed betwixt
their teeth.

Then said Wat Tyler: "I will have the King's sword."

"Nay, Wat, art mad?" protested Stephen. "This is majesté, have a
care!"

"Let him take the sword an he will," said the King, and Wat Tyler put
forth his hand to take it, but the Lord Mayor might not any longer
withhold his wrath, and on a sudden he had struck Wat, who fell down
off his horse; and, hatred being let loose, those knights and noble
gentlemen immediately stabbed him so that he died. Then looked they
one on another, and on this man that had trusted them. And into their
shamed silence came voices of the peasants across the square.

"What 's to hap?"

"They are making him a knight!"

"Yea, yea!"

"I saw the blow!"

"Nay, hath fallen."

"Treason!"

"Wat!--Treason!"

"Slain!"

As they were carven in stone those nobles stood, white horror
stiffened on their faces, to see a thousand bowstrings drawn as one,
and deadly long-bows bent;--'t would seem all England held her breath
awaiting chaos. Then King Richard, that fair child, true son of
Plantagenet, rode out into that moment's tottering stillness, alone,
with his face set towards those thousand straining arrows.

"I am your leader!" he cried, "I am your King!" and came into their
midst smiling.

They leaped about him crying and singing, as 't were his valour had
made them drunk. A-many broke their bows in twain across their knees.
As on the Friday at Mile End, so now they kissed his feet; blessings
went up as incense. And he laughed with them and wept and called them
brothers.

"This is to be a king!" he cried with arms uplift to heaven. For he
knew that he was ruler of England in that hour.

A little while he stayed with them, their eyes worshipful upturned
ever to his as he rode hither and yon in the press, their voices,
gladsome wild, ever in his ear, till the spell of their love so
wrought with him that he was made a lover. In his heart Mercy and
Truth were met together, Rightwisness and Peace had kissed. If his
people had wronged him, he knew it not; Love sat in the seat of
Memory, Suspicion had drunk a sleeping potion.

"This is to be a king!" cried Richard.

   "'Then came there a king, knighthood him led,
     Might of the commons made him to reign.'"

And John Ball at his stirrup said, also out of the Vision:--

   "'Love is leech of life and next our Lord's self,
     And also the straight way that goeth into heaven.'"

"Heaven?" murmured Richard, and after very soft, twixt prayer and
amaze, "Thy kingdom come."

So he turned about and rode at a slow pace, as one in a dream, across
the square to his nobles, and there was on his face a shining look as
of one who seeth a vision.

"This is the bravest man in all England to-day, and he is our King,"
said old Salisbury, and Richard smiled, eyes and mouth radiant,
flashing as the sun.

Then said Mayor Walworth, who was ever a blunt man, "Now will I ride
swift into the city, sire, and man the wards and bring hither Sir
Robert Knollys, and his retainers shall surround these fellows and
break their pride."

Richard turned to look on the Mayor, the smile fading. As one that
waketh out of a sweet dream and encountereth the old perplexity he had
thought was laid, so Richard stared; and there grew in his eyes a look
of fear.

"What need?" he said, and drew rein as he would scape anew to his
people.

Then came the Earl of Salisbury close, and who had looked in the old
man's face the while he spoke to Richard might not fail to see a great
pity therein.

"Sire," he said, and the pity was in his voice likewise,--"sire, 't
were not wise these peasants come again into the city. They have
wrought too great havoc; we may not trust them."

As one who strives to gather his wits Richard sat, with dumb eyes
fixed on the old Earl. His lip quivered.

Salisbury began anew, very patient and soft, as one speaketh to a
creature that is frighted, or to a child: "My lord, the people have
obtained that they asked, now they ought to disperse and wend them
homeward. To this end 't were well thou lead them out into the fields
to speed them on their way."

"Yea," Richard answered slow. "Then what need of Sir Richard Knollys
and his retainers?"

"The men of Kent must go again through London to cross the river by
the Bridge,--bethink thee of yesterday, sire"--

"Yesterday is dead!" the boy cried. "I and my people are at peace!"

"Natheless, sire, hearts are as tinder."

"Then wherefore set them afire by the steel of armed knights?"

"Nay, my liege, but if these peasants be penitent, wherefore shall
they refuse to be escorted thorough that fair city wherein they
behaved so ill?"

"I will not betray my people," cried Richard, a sob in his voice.

"Disperse them only, my lord. Though there be many loyal, natheless we
do know of sureté that there be certain among them like to this Tyler,
would make themselves King. Thyself hast seen how they are easily led
this way and that, for good or ill. Remember the Archbishop, sire."

There shot a spasm of anguish athwart the King's face. "I will lead
them into the fields. They shall be dispersed," he said with a loud,
unsteady voice. "But I have set them free. I will not betray them! I
will not betray them!"

And riding away he was presently in the midst of the peasant rout,
laughing, leading them to Clerkenwell. But his cheeks were
fever-bright, and the look of fear faded not out of his eyes. With
quips and merry gests he lured them on, and he bethought him how that
Stephen had said that night in the Tower, "They 'll be led like little
children," and so they were.

"Hearken, my people," said Richard, wistful, "none standeth between us
any more. Would ye that Wat Tyler had made himself your King?"

"King Richard!--King Richard!" they shouted.

"None standeth between us any more, mes amis,--neither noble, nor
common man"--

"Nor archbishop," cried one, but a tumult of voices smothered him,
with:--

"Nay--'t was Wat slew the Archbishop!"

And when they saw the cloud on Richard's brow, they cried yet more
loud, as in a frenzy:--

"'T was Wat!--'t was Wat! Long live King Richard!"

But John Ball was not now in that throng, nor Jack Straw; they had
fled away.

And now came Sir Robert Knollys with his knights and men-at-arms,
retainers, surrounding the peasants that were as patient as silly
sheep, for they looked upon their young shepherd and trusted him. So
when certain of those soldiers would have fallen upon the people to
slay them, King Richard arose in his saddle and forbade them, saying
in anger:--

"These are my children,--mine! mine!--Let not a hair of their heads be
harmed. If they had hearts of men, might they not slay me even now,
beholding this foul ambush by which they are taken? But they are as
babes doing my bidding. They have faith, even though I lead them into
bondage."

Then he burst into tears, very passionate, and screamed loud and
hoarse:--

"I have set them free! Do ye hearken?--I have set them free,--free! O
Christ, I am not traitor to my people!"

My Lord Salisbury likewise forbade violence, and Richard, when he had
dried his tears and got his voice, spoke again to the people and made
them to know as how the men of Kent must homeward, and others in peace
to north and west. And when they had set forth obedient, Richard rode
into the city, the light as of a conqueror in his eyes. Nevertheless,
behind this there lurked the look of fear.

Meanwhile in Smithfield Wat Tyler lay dead of his wounds. And when
Richard led the peasants out to Clerkenwell, and the nobles rode into
the city to bring succour, Stephen only remained. But presently John
Ball came forth of a house, and when they two saw that no man
hindered, they took up the body of poor Wat and bore it within the
Church of St. Bartholomew and laid it decently at the east end of the
nave.

"Wat hath lost us London," said John Ball. "But who might believe that
true knights and noble gentlemen would so sin against courtesy! Our
hope now is to keep the shires stirring. I 'll not stay in this
death-trap, but carry the spark to northward. Yorkshire ought to be up
by now, if the message carried, and Cheshire, and Somerset. God keep
thee, brother! While the breath 's in our bodies we may fan the
flame." The priest was gone, and Stephen sat him down by the body to
watch.

So after the day was won and the peasants scattered, Mayor Walworth
bethought him of Wat Tyler and came again to Smithfield to seek him.
But finding naught except blood where the dead man had fallen, he
searched diligently, as did two aldermen that were with him, and in
the end they found that they sought.

"Have him forth!" said the Mayor. "'T is no place for traitors in a
church."

"Good Master Walworth," pleaded Stephen, "this man was more honest
than many. He followed truth,--and we be all stumblers. If he sought
to take the King, what did he more than John of Gaunt would do, or
others of the noblesse? I have lived with Wat Tyler as he were my
brother;--I know him that he sinned being ambitious, but this sin he
shareth with John of Gaunt and better men; and not for himself alone
did he desire to rule England, but for the sake of the poor that is so
down-trodden. But John of Gaunt for power and his own sake only. I
know him that he was a wrathful man,--but who so wrathful wild as Earl
Percy of Northumberland, natheless men do him courtesy."

"Master Fitzwarine," made answer the Mayor, "give up thy sword and
yield thee prisoner, for that thou defendest traitors and murderers,
disturbers of the King's peace. This man hath slain the Archbishop of
Canterbury."

"'T is very true, if Wat Tyler is traitor then am I likewise," said
Stephen, and gave up his sword. And one of the aldermen bound him with
a rope to lead him away. Then did Mayor Walworth take Wat Tyler's body
by the heels, and dragged it forth into Smithfield and hewed the head
from the trunk. This he did with Stephen's sword. After, he gave the
head to that other alderman, not him that bound Stephen, and bade him
take down the Archbishop's head from London Bridge and set Wat Tyler's
where that one had hung; and these things were done. But Stephen was
cast into a dungeon in the Tower.



                             CHAPTER X

                          The Old Fetters


On the Sunday when Long Will and Calote were come from the burial of
Kitte, they were met at their door by Walworth and certain of the
King's officers, who said:--

"Knowest aught concerning that arch-traitor, Jack Straw? 'T is
believed he lieth hid in the city.--In the King's name, open thy
door!"

"Name him not!" cried Will, and crossed himself. "I am a clerk; I may
not venge mine own wrong!--Natheless his name breeds murder in my
heart." He groaned and covered his face. Those others stared in amaze.

"Heard ye not?" said Calote then. "'T was Friday he came into our cot
by night, and he would have slain one slept there, but my mother ran
in between.--My mother was slain."

"Alack, sweet maid, here 's news!" exclaimed the Mayor. "I 've been
busied propping the kingdom." And to the men he said: "On! he is not
here."

But one of the men answered him: "The fellow was seen o' Cornhill
within the hour. Is a most arrant knave. This house were safest in all
London, seeing he hath shed blood in it. Let us enter!"

So they went in and threw wide the window and the doors, for that the
room was dark. And some mounted to the chamber under the roof. Then
the man that craved leave to enter went and stood by the great chest
in the lower room; and presently he had lifted the lid and thrust in
his hand, and all they heard a terrible squawk. The man had Jack Straw
by the leg, and flung him out on the floor.

"O thou vile murderer!" cried Calote. "Coward, without shame! Dost
shelter thee on this hearth thou hast defiled? O craven dog!"

There were deep shadows in the eyes of Calote. This horror of her
mother's death was yet upon her. Moreover, she knew what it was to
fail.

"Do not let the clerk come at me!" Jack Straw prayed the Mayor. He
shivered; he was all of a sweat. "Wherefore do ye take me? Thrust thy
fingers in my breast, the King's pardon is there. Hark ye,--I 'll say
it. I have it by heart. 'Know that of our special grace we have
manumitted'--hearken, 'freed him of all bondage, and made him quit by
these presents.' I be free man, pardoned of all felonies, treasons,
transgressions, and extortions. Look ye, masters,--'t is writ
here.--Bind not my hands! Read!--'And assure him of our summa pax.' I
'm free man. Read!--'Dated June the fourteenth, anno regni quarto.' I
had it of yonder clerk, learned me the Latin the while he writ. I 'm
free man. Will,--speak for me! Will!--Will!--I meant no harm,--she
came between and I knew 't not. Will, thou knowest I meant no harm to
Kitte. Speak! Is 't for this I 'm ta'en? The Lord is leech of love,
Will, forgiveth his enemies. I 'm thy friend, Will;--was ever."

"Have him forth!" shouted Langland above this din. "Have him forth
swift,--else must ye bind me likewise. O Christ--give me
leave!--Avenge her, Christ Jesus!"

Then Jack Straw, being 'ware that here was no hope, turned him at the
threshold and said:--

"There be others, prisoners, mistress, and thy peddler is one. I saw
him borne to Tower yester e'en. Thy fine esquire 's like to lose his
head as soon as I."

"Set a gag twixt his teeth," said Walworth. So they did, and bore him
through London streets. And if any man was his friend, he went and hid
himself.

Meanwhile, the King took counsel with his lords in the great chamber
in the Tower. His cheeks were pale, his eyes heavy. He pressed his
hand oft to his brow, where sat a frown.

"Sire," said Buckingham, "'t is very certain these knaves ought to be
punished, else shall we never have done with uprisings and rebellions
that do endanger the kingdom."

"Where is Etienne Fitzwarine?" asked Richard, fretful. "Let him mix my
cup! There 's a fever inward, parcheth my throat."

My Lord of Buckingham looked uneasy on my Lord of Salisbury. Then Sir
John Holland behind the King's back said: "No doubt he consorteth with
those low fellows, his friends, and maketh merry that the King is
cozened."

"Ribaude!" cried the boy starting from his seat. "I cozened?--I?--I?"
He choked and turned half round, his hand on his sword.

Sir John went backward a pace, nevertheless he would not eat his
words:--

"Wherefore should they not make merry, sire? They were fools an they
wept. Nay, they have gone home to their wives to tell a marvellous
tale. Here 's a king! do they cry. Let us but rise up and burn a
manor-house or two, and take London Bridge,--and we may have what we
will, even if 't be the King's crown."

"Who bade me grant all?" cried Richard. "Who fled a-horseback into the
fields for fear of that rabble at Mile End? What I did, was 't not
done to save your coward skins, as much as to pleasure peasants?"

"O my liege! Who may know this, if not thy loyal servants?" said
Salisbury, and bent his old knees. Whereupon those others knelt
likewise, and Salisbury continued:--

"Thou hast wrought with a king-craft beyond thy years, sire. Thou hast
saved England. But now must stern measures be taken, else are we like
to be in worse case. When the people discover that they are--that
they--are"--

"Tricked!" shouted Buckingham, laughing loud. "Tricked, my wise
nephew! 'T were well to crush them neath the iron hand of fear, ere
they find out this. So, I say, fall to!--Beat them down! Let blood
flow! 'T is the one way!"

"Tricked?" the King repeated, frowning. "But I was honest."

"Ay, my lord," assured him Salisbury. "And so wert thou honest if a
madman came to thee and gripped thy throat and said, 'Give me thy
kingdom, King Richard,' and thou didst answer, 'Yea, freely I give it
thee.' Natheless, the madman might not rule England. Neither may King
Richard keep faith with him, for that were grievous wrong to
Englishmen."

The King laughed, as he were uncertain and ashamed; the colour came
into his face. "'T is very raisonable," he said slowly,--"but--I did
not give them the kingdom,--I gave them--liberty."

"My lord hath not forgot that concerning this matter Parliament
hath a voice. It may well be Parliament shall give
consent,--natheless"--Salisbury faltered, and Buckingham laughed very
scornful.

"I am King!" cried Richard haughtily, but there was a question in his
cry.

"My lord doth not forget," said Salisbury, "as how in England the King
taketh counsel with his people as concerning the welfare of the
kingdom. Since the day of the first Edward, grandfather to my lord's
grandfather, this is more and more a custom in England. Through
Parliament doth the King receive his grants, taxes, moneys for the
King's expending. 'T were not well to make an enemy of Parliament. The
court is straitened for moneys."

Richard bit his lip and paced up and down, clinching his hands.

"Who said the King was free?" he cried. And on a sudden, very fierce:
"If I am cozened, 't is not the peasants have cozened me."

"O sire!" pleaded the old Earl, "think not of noblesse, nor of
peasants, nor yet of thine own self,--but of all England, that thy
grandfather Edward made a great nation. Wilt have it go to wrack in
the hands of crazed villeins? Put down the revolt with a strong hand;
then will they wake from their madness."

"Cure them with blood, sire," said Buckingham. "'T is the one way.
Else were no man's head safe."

"Beau sire!" cried Robert de Vere, entering, "the Mayor is here with
that rebel, Jack Straw, was so fierce against the Flemings on Friday."

Then came in Walworth, and Jack bound.

"What vermin is this?" asked Richard. "Have him forth,--displeaseth
me. Faugh! How the fellow crawls!"

"Sire, I will confess," Jack whined. "I will reveal all. Let me go
free, sire! I went astray. Do but let me go free, and I 'll confess.
'T was not I was leader, sire, but Wat Tyler--and Stephen
Fitzwarine"--

The King had sat listless, paying no heed, but at the name of
Fitzwarine he lifted his head:--

"Take this liar to the courtyard and beat out 's brains!" he said.
"Where is Etienne?"

"Sire, pardon!" now began Walworth, "but 't is very true I took Master
Fitzwarine yester e'en by the side of the body of the traitor, Wat
Tyler; and he made as to defend the body, and spake against certain
great nobles of the realm."

"Thou hast slain him?" screamed Richard,--"Etienne!--Etienne!"

"Nay, sire; for that I knew the King loved him. Natheless, for safety
he is housed close. And here is his sword. With this same sword I
strake off the head of Wat Tyler. My lord, I am thy faithful servant."

"Ay," Richard assented. "Prythee pardon, friend; I have not forgot
that good turn thou did me and all England yesterday. But give me the
sword. I will wear the sword that hewed off that traitor's head."

"Sweet nephew," said Buckingham, "'t is very certain Fitzwarine was
likewise traitor."

"Wilt thou forget those bold words he spake in this chamber, sire,
three days agone?" cried Sir John Holland.

"Wilt thou forget that insult to madame the Queen, who must needs ride
with his wanton that night on Blackheath?" sneered Robert de Vere,
Earl of Oxford.

"O sire," said Jack Straw soft,--"is 't known of these gentles as how
Fitzwarine traversed England a year and more, in company of this same
leman, stirring up revolt?"

There went up a shout of wrath and amaze from all those lordings:--

"Sire!" they cried, and every eye bent on the King craved vengeance.

"Pah!" said he. "'T is not question of Etienne, but of this worm that
speweth venom. Let him be despatched forthwith!"

Then Jack Straw cast himself down on the floor and writhed on his
belly as far as the King's feet, crying:--

"Mercy!--Grace!--Mercy!--Mercy!--I will reveal the plot. O sire, I
will unfold the secrets of this Rising! Give me only my life, my life,
sire, my life!"

"Well, take thy life! Thou shalt go free,--if thou tell all," said
Richard, with averted face. "Lift the fellow to his knees,
thou,--yeoman guard,--and wipe his slobber off my shoes!"

So when Jack Straw was got to his knees and a stout yeoman on either
side holding him up underneath his arm-pits, for that he was weak with
fright and lack of food, he began to tell his tale.

"'T was in Long Will's cot o' Cornhill,--the Chantry Priest, him that
writ the Vision concerning Piers Ploughman,--'t was in his house this
plot was hatched.--Water, my lords!--Pity, my tongue is twice its true
size!"

"Verily, I believe it is so," said Richard; he would not look at Jack
Straw, but sat with face turned to one side and eyes cast down. "Give
him to drink," he said.

The Mayor caught a silver flagon from the table and held it to Jack's
lips, and when he had drunk, my Lord of Oxford ground the flagon
beneath his heel and kicked it shapeless into a corner.

"'T was o' Cornhill, lordings, and Will was there, and the light o'
love, his daughter, and Wat Tyler,--and--and--Fitzwarine"--

"And thou," said Richard.

"But I was no leader in this Rising, sire. Wat would be leader,--a
proud, wrathful man. And the traitor Fitzwarine hath evil entreated me
oft, for that he would hold second place to Wat."

"Where was John Ball?" asked Salisbury.

"John Ball also was there," cried Jack very eager. "'T was he set us
all agog in the beginning with his preaching and prating."

"Get on! The plot!" Richard interrupted impatiently.

"Mercy, sire,--grace!--'T was agreed as how all knights, squires, and
gentlemen should be slain, and the King made to lead this revolution.
For this cause came Wat to Smithfield yester morn, to take the King.
Mercy!--And until all England was risen up, the King should be called
leader of the people. Then should we slay all the lords.--Ah, pity,
gentles!--And when was none left to succour the King,--Wat Tyler would
have had the King slain.--Sire, not I, but Wat!--Grace!--Pardon!"

Richard's face was still as stone. Jack Straw hung limp betwixt the
yeomen, and well-nigh swooned, moaning the while.

Thrice Richard moved his lips and no sound came; at last he said,
"Anon?"

"The--the--bishops after, sire, and all monks, canons,--rectors, to be
slain. When no one survived, greater, stronger, or more knowing than
ourselves, we should have made at our pleasure laws by which the
subjects would be ruled."

The room was all a-murmur with rage. Richard arose and signed to the
guard to take up Jack Straw:--

"Take him to the place in the courtyard where Archbishop Simon was
murdered," he said in a cold voice. "Rip out his guts, lop off his
legs and arms. Let his head be borne throughout the city on a pole,
and what remaineth cut in four pieces and send by fleet-foot
messengers to north and south and east and west of this foul,
traitorous England."

Jack Straw heard with starting eyes. Then strength came to him and he
shrieked and struggled:--

"Thy promise, sire, thy promise!--Thou didst give me life! Mercy!--Thy
promise!"

"One thing 't would seem a king is free to do," Richard answered him.
"'T is to break promises."

And old Salisbury sighed, and hung his head as he were suddenly grown
feeble.

So Jack Straw was borne away to his death, and the nobles crowded
around Richard, buzzing approval.

"And Fitzwarine, sire?" said Robert de Vere.

The boy pressed his hands against his eyes:--

"Have ye no pity, wolves?" he groaned.

"Natheless, sire, he is a traitor," persisted Buckingham. "Is no time
to set free traitors."

"I have not set him free," said Richard. "Let that suffice. If ye are
thirsty for blood, go down into Cheapside; Mayor Walworth shall set up
anew the block that was there, and strike off the heads of all such as
were known to be murderers of Flemings. The widows of the dead weavers
may wield the axe an they will. Here 's sport, my lords! Now, pray you
leave me! I must make ready for this pilgrimage of vengeance mine
uncle Buckingham counselleth."

"The jongleuse and her father, sire?" ventured Sir John Holland.

"I may not take keep of women and poets," Richard answered. "'T is my
friends only that I betray."



                            CHAPTER XI

                           The Prisoner


Stephen's cell was a narrow place, and there was no window but a slit
wherefrom arrows only might take flight. Looking forth with face
pressed close to the stone, Stephen saw the gray wall of the inner
ward, and no other thing. Nevertheless, by means of this crack he knew
light from darkness, and when three days were past he said to the
gaoler:--

"How long do I bide in this place?"

"The last man bode here till he died, master,--two-score and five
year. My father was turnkey."

Stephen turned his face to the arrow-slit, and the man went out and
barred the door.

"Now will I set my life in order against the day I come forth," said
Stephen; "and whether Death unlock the door, or Life, I shall be
ready."

So he sat close by the crack, with his fingers thrust through,
beckoning freedom. And here the gaoler found him night and morn,
silent, as he were wrapt in a deep contemplation, a little sad, but
hopeful withal, and uncomplaining. The gaoler eyed him in amaze, and
searched the cell for rope or knife or crowbar, for written word or
phial of poison, whereby this strange calm might be accounted for. But
he found none of these things. And in this way there dragged on a
fortnight. Then might the gaoler hold his peace no longer.

"Hard fare," quoth he, setting the black bread and the water jug ready
to Stephen's hand.

"Ay," the prisoner made answer, "but a-many people in England have no
better, and a-many go hungry. Wherefore shall I feed fat the while my
brothers fast?"

"Thou art the most strange wight ever I saw," said the gaoler. "For
the most part do they ramp and rage, beat head against wall, and curse
blasphemously. Others there be lie in swoon, eat not, cry and make
moan. But thou!"--

"I look into my past," said Stephen. "I live over my life. By now I 'm
a seven years child, and my mother died yesterday."

"Lord!--'s lost his wits!" exclaimed the gaoler and fled incontinent.

The next day he pushed the door open very cautious, peered round the
edge, and set the bread and water on the ground.

"Come in, br-br-brother," Stephen called. "I be not mad. I do but muse
on life, to discover wherein it may be bettered, and where 's the
fault. When I 'm done with time past I 'll think on time to come, and
what 's to do if ever I go free. By this device keep I my wits. I do
love life, brother, I would live as long as I may."

"Art thou a poet?" queried the gaoler.

"Nay, but I make rhymes as well as any other gentleman."

This was before the hour of prime. At sunset, when the gaoler came
again he questioned:--

"Dost thou find the fault in life, and wherein 't may be bettered?"

"There be a-many faults, brother, but one is this, that some men do
make of themselves masters, and hold their fellows in bonds, and those
may not choose,--but they must be bound whether they will or no.

    'When Adam delved and Eve span,
     Who was then'"--

but the gaoler went out, and slammed the door to with a loud noise.

'T was nigh a week after, and now mid July, when he spoke again to
Stephen:--

"The King doth not yet stint to kill the men who sing that ribald
rhyme concerning our forefather Adam."

"But the King set villeins free!" cried Stephen, aroused.

"Free as a hawk is free when fowler tieth a thread to 's claw."

"So?" said Stephen, "then all 's lost!" and very hastily: "Prythee,
brother, tell me, was Will Langland, him they call Long Will,--was he
taken,--a-a-and a-a-any ki-kinsfolk of his?"

"Nay, he 's loose in London streets, as crazed as ever he was. His
wife 's slain in the riot, and now he 's free to mount in Holy Church
an he will; but he 's a fool. Knows not to hold 's tongue. By the
King's grace only, and Master Walworth, was he spared, and the
yellow-haired maid, his daughter."

"Ah!" sighed Stephen.

The gaoler grinned and grunted.

On the morrow Stephen greeted him with a face so radiant tender that
the man said:--

"Eh, well, where art thou now,--in Paradise?"

"At the Miracle in Paul's Churchyard," answered him Stephen.

"I 'll be sworn there 's a maid in that memory?"

"Yea, a maid," Stephen assented.

"Yellow-haired?"

But Stephen said no word.

"Yesterday, in Cheapside, one named Calote questioned me, if I were
turnkey in the Tower"--

Stephen leaped to his feet, but the man was on the other side of the
door and let fall the heavy bar. By the threshold there lay a bit of
parchment whereon was writ:--

    "Though it be very sour to suffer, there cometh sweet after;
     As on a walnut without is bitter bark,
     And after"--

but here was that parchment torn off short, and on the other side was
writ:--

    "Why I suffer or suffer not, thyself hath naught to do;
     Amend thou it if thou might for my time is to abide.
     Sufferance is a sovereign virtue and"--

And when he had read these words from the Vision concerning Piers
Ploughman, Stephen spent that day a-kissing the bit of parchment.

Anon, a rainy eve, the gaoler set down a covered dish, with:--

"My goodwife hath a liking to thee, Master Fitzwarine. Sendeth thee a
mess of beans, hot. 'T is flat against rule, but she gave me no peace.
Women be pitiful creatures. She weepeth ever to hear the tale of thy
durance."

"'T is joy to serve thy wife, to eat her hot beans. Merci, brother."

"Nay, thank not me," said the man gruffly. "When thou hast eaten all,
hide the dish in the straw lest the Tower warden enter. 'T is not like
he will, but I 've no mind to lose my place for a woman's tears."

So the days drifted, and the weeks. July was at an end, and August in
the third week. Stephen's cheeks were white and sunken, his blue eyes
looked forth from shadows, his lips were pale. The fingers that
fluttered in the arrow-slit were wasted thin. One morn the gaoler came
and found him singing in a faint voice this song:--

    "O Master, Master, list my word!
       Now rede my riddle an ye may:
     My ladye she is a poor man's daughter,
       And russet is my best array."

And when Stephen was come to the end of his singing he heard a sound,
and there sat gaoler on the floor blubbering.

"Where art thou now?" said that good man a-blowing his nose.

"One while I wandered over all England with one that was messenger to
carry news of the Fellowship and the Rising. We bought bed and board
with a song. So do I wander now, and I sing."

"Then 't was a true word, that Jack Straw affirmed concerning thee?"
cried the man.

"What said he?"

"Thus and so concerning thy pilgrimage and thy part in the Rising."

"Is he dead?"

"Ay; and no easy task to gather him together in the Last Day."

But when Stephen would have asked yet more concerning Jack Straw, and
the King, and what was toward, the gaoler shut his lips and hasted
forth.

After this, Stephen sang night and morn and midday the songs he had
sung--and Calote with him--in the year of pilgrimage. All those old
tales of Arthur he sang, and certain other that he had of Dan Chaucer;
and a-many he made new, rondels to praise his lady. Also he chaunted
the Vision concerning Piers Ploughman, from beginning to end,--which
was no end. But more often he sang that story called of a Pearl, that
Will Langland would have it was writ by his old master in Malvern. For
about this time, what with long waiting, and the heat of summer,
little food, and the foul smell of the dungeon, Stephen began to
consider what it might signify to die in that place; and the Vision of
the Holy City in the poem called of a Pearl comforted him much.

So, as he chaunted one while of the maiden in the glistering garment,
that came down to the river's brink,--and in his heart he saw her face
how it was the face of Calote,--he heard the bar drawn, and the keys
to rattle, and presently the gaoler came in.

"For thy soul's sake I bring thee a priest, Master Fitzwarine," he
said; "'t is long since thou madest confession."

And behind him in the doorway stood a tall man, tonsured, garbed in
russet.

"O my son!" cried Will, "how hast thou suffered!" And he picked up
Stephen off the floor and carried him to the window-crack. And the
gaoler emptied the water-jug in Stephen's face, and presently went out
and left those two alone.

Stephen opened his eyes slow, wearily.

"Steadfast!" he whispered, and smiled.

And then he said:--

"Calote?"

"She waiteth, praying. In the beginning we dared not plead for thee;
for that we knew the King was in no mood to hearken, so was he played
upon by the nobles, and his pride harrowed. By now there is rumour
that he beginneth to sicken of bloodshed. Haply he 'll be in mood to
pardon when he is come back to London."

"Come back?--Where is the King?"

"Sweet son, he goeth up and down the countryside, letting blood.
Robert Tressilian, the new Chief Justice, is with him, and his uncle
Buckingham. They show no mercy."

"John Ball?" said Stephen.

"Alack, he was ta'en at Coventry and, the King holding assize at Saint
Albans with the Lord Chief Justice, he was sent thither and
adjudged.--He 's dead. 'T was in July."

"And the flame 's snuffed out?"

"It flickers here and there. The King hath made peace with his uncle
Gaunt, who is set to keep the peace and stamp out the fire in the
north. In August the King came from Reading."

"What is now? I 've lost count."

"Now is September, son, and yesterday came word of riot in Salisbury
marketplace."

"I mind me o' Salisbury marketplace," smiled Stephen, sad. "Calote and
I, we were there afore we went down into Devon. Tell me now of
Calote."

"She bade me say to thee, Fitzwarine, think no more o' Calote. 'T is
no avail. Thou art gentleman, beloved of the King. Yea, we do believe
he doth love thee, else had he slain thee long since. 'T was youth's
folly, thy part in the Rising,--Calote saith,--these prisoned months
have shown thee what 's to do. Thy place is with gentlefolk. The King
shall pardon thee. Forget Calote, she saith."

"Let Calote forget Stephen Fitzwarine an she will," he answered, "but
I am of the Fellowship."

"Alas, there is no Fellowship more," sighed Langland.

"The word hath been spoken, my father, the thought is born. Though the
King know it not, yet are we free. By fellowship shall we win in the
years to come. A long battle,--but it ends in victory."

"Not in my day," said Will, "nor thine."

"What are days?" cried Stephen. "I 've lost count."

Then Will Langland kissed Stephen Fitzwarine, and "Even so is it in
mine own heart, O son," he said. "But for the most part folk is
sorrowful and faithless."

"I have set my life in order," said Stephen. "If ever I come forth of
this prison-house, I 'll give to each and every villein o' my manor
that piece of land he tilleth, to have and to hold. Likewise I 'll
free them severally. This I may do within the law, for that the manor
is mine."

"Calote saith she will never be thy wife," Will repeated,--nevertheless
he smiled.

"Do thou say this to Calote, O my father,--my device is 'Steadfast.'"



                            CHAPTER XII

                         Y-Robed in Russet


"Is naught to do," said Calote. "My life is like an empty house."

And if her father admonished her that she fill it, she answered him:
"I am too poor. My richesse is spent."

So the summer waned, and Richard's red vengeance began to pale. The
people and the King alike sickened of blood. Here and there a man was
pardoned. Those two aldermen that bade the peasants come into London
by the Bridge and Ald Gate in June were let go free.

"If thou canst come at the King, he will surely set free Stephen
Fitzwarine," urged Will. "'Steadfast' is never Richard's watchword,
natheless he doth not willingly harm his friends. He 'll do them
kindness in secret, if he may not openly."

"How may I endure to live out the length of my days to my life's end?"
sighed Calote. "Is naught to do."

Nevertheless, about this time she began to be seen about the gates of
the Palace at Westminster, and craved leave to enter; but the guards
made mock of her and drove her away. As oft as thrice in the week they
did this, but she came again.

One day, 't was October's end and presently Parliament would be met
together at Westminster, Calote stood on London Bridge, on the
drawbridge, and saw a barge come down Thames. And when the barge was
rowed beneath the drawbridge, Calote looked down, and the King sat
therein with madame his mother, and certain lords and ladies of the
court. One of these was Godiyeva.

The folk on the bridge peered over, and there was muttering, for the
people no longer loved the King.

"Goeth to Tower for a night and a day to discover what prisoners be
harboured therein and to consider their case," said one, and spat in
the water.

Calote turned about and ran back to London, and so on to the Tower
gate. An hour she waited, and then came forth Stephen's gaoler.

"Nay, I will bear no more messages to prisoners," said that man very
rough, when she had caught his arm. "The King 's within. There 'll be
a lopping of heads, and mine own wags very loose o' my neck."

"To no prisoner, good brother," pleaded Calote, "but to a fair lady;
Godiyeva 's her name, madame's waiting-woman."

The gaoler grunted, and stood uncertain.

"Do but say this,--there 's a jongleuse craveth speech of her, a
jongleuse that served her once."

He grunted yet more loud and went within.

After a little while he came again and a page with him, who led Calote
across the outer and inner ward to the keep, and so by narrow ways and
steep stairs to a turret chamber where sat the Lady Godiyeva.

"Lady," said Calote, "hast thou forgot one night in Yorkshire, at thy
manor-house?"

"Mine old father is dead," Godiyeva answered, "and Eleyne, my sister,
is lady o' the manor,--but I have not forgot."

"Lady,--Madame Godiyeva, I would come at King Richard. Have a boon to
crave, a token to deliver."

Godiyeva bent her eyes, thoughtful, stern, upon the maid: "A token to
deliver?" quoth she. "In Yorkshire thou didst wear a dagger, I saw 't,
that night."

"Dost fear I 'll kill the King?" Calote smiled, very sad. "Nay,--here
's the dagger; keep it!"

"'T is Master Fitzwarine's crest," said Godiyeva.

"Ay, lady, he 's my love!--Lies low in dungeon. Here 's my boon."

"This is a strange matter," mused Godiyeva, "for that Etienne
Fitzwarine is esquire and very parfait gentleman, in all the court was
none so true of his word, and so courteous to ladies. But this is a
common wench, a jongleuse.--Natheless, I heard him how he said, 'This
damosel is promised to be my wedded wife.'--Come, I 'll pay my debt!"

Behind the arras of a little door they stood and listened. There was
no sound. Then Godiyeva put her eye to the edge of the arras.

"He is alone," she said. "Go in!"

Richard stood in a window. He held a little picture in his hand, and
looked on it smiling. Calote, barefoot, stepped noiseless over the
floor. Godiyeva, behind the arras, coughed.

"Coeur de joie!" cried Richard, staring. But when he saw who it was
that knelt, gold-haired, before him, he went white and covered his
eyes.

"I would forget!" he said, "I would forget! 'T is overpast!--Shall a
king never think on joyful things? Ah, give me leave to tune my
thoughts to love! These six months past I 've hearkened to hatred. Was
never king so meek. But now there 's a marriage toward. Wilt thou have
me think on murders,--and I take a wife in January?"

"Nay,--not on murders, sire,--on pardon and peace."

His moody face cleared slow,--"Is 't an omen?" he questioned, and,
stretching forth his hand with the picture, "See! here 's the lady
shall be Queen of England one day,--and queens are merciful. There 's
a tale of my grandmother, Philippa, how she saved the burgesses of
Calais,--and they were six. Here 's but only one, and he was my
childhood's friend.--She hath a wondrous pleading eye,--my lady.--'T
is an omen." He went to a table and wrote somewhat on a parchment;
then clapped his hands, and to the page that entered, said:--

"Bear this hastily to the warden of the Tower."

"Gramerci! Sire!" whispered Calote, and bowed her head on her knees so
that her long hair lay on the ground at the King's feet as 't were a
pool of sunshine.

"I ever meant to set him free--when the noblesse had forgot," said
Richard huskily. "He must depart in secret, for a little while. And
now may I forget murder and turn me to merriment. The Rising 's
pricked flat. I will never remember it more."

"And dost thou willingly forget that day the people blessed thee for
thy gifts of freedom and grace, sire? Dost thou willingly forget that
day thou wast bravest man in England,--and king?"

"Hush!--Hush!" he cried. "Kings may not hearken to truth,--'t is sure
confusion."

"Here 's the horn, sire, wherewith I gathered the folk into
fellowship." Calote untied the bag that hung from her neck.

"O thou mischief-maker!" said Richard to his hunting-horn. "Thou
betrayer unto foolishness! Thou shalt be sold to buy my wedding
garment."

But now was the arras pushed aside, and Stephen came in, and his
gaoler that grinned very joyous.

Calote heard. And then she had arisen to her feet, and turned her back
upon the King. And Stephen kissed her hair, and her two hands that
rested on his shoulders; but her face was hid.

"O my love, my lady!" said Stephen. And presently, "'T is a wondrous
fair world!"

She lifted her face to speak, but he was waiting for her lips.

The gaoler made a happy clucking noise.

Richard laughed merrily. "Coeur de joie!" quoth he, "but I 'll kiss
also!" and he kissed the little picture.

"'T behooves us give thanks to the King," whispered Calote. Her face
was hid anew, and she spake to her love's heart that leaped against
his courtepy.

Then they two turned them, hand in hand, and the King cried out,
"A-a-ah!--How art thou pale!--Etienne!"

Stephen bent his knee: "Sire," he said, "wa-was nothing hid from
thee;--thou knewest all th-things ever I did in that Rising. I was
true to King Richard."

"This is thy sword, Etienne," quoth the King. "These many months it
hath hung at my side. Take it again!"

Stephen looked on the sword, sombre, slow. "My forefathers, they were
men of might," he said. "There were three died in the Holy Land doing
battle with the Paynim. The Scots slew my grandfather in fair fight.
My father fell in France, in the last Edward's quarrel. Next after
England, the King, and my lady, I have loved my sword."

He stretched forth his hands and took it. "Oh, thou bright blade, what
hosts of infidels and dastard French, what enemies to Truth and
Richard, methought I 'd slay! And thou hast drunk the blood of one man
only, a dead man, that gave his life for England's sake and the
people. Thou wert maiden, and they dishonoured thee."

And Stephen had snapped his sword in twain across his knee.

"This is the sword that hewed Wat Tyler's head off his body," he said.
"I have done with swords. Thy Majesté hath noblesse a plenty to serve
thee; 't was proven in June, when Wat Tyler fell. I might not count
the sword-thrusts at that time. But of common folk, peasants and
labourers, there is a dearth in England. And wherefore this is so,
none knoweth better than thou, sire."

Richard stirred, restless: "'T is the old Etienne, was never afeared
to find fault with his king," said he, and would have made a jest of
this matter, but laughter came not at his bidding.

"Thou hast need of loyal labourers, sire. So will I serve thee. If
Saint Francis set his hands to labour, so may Stephen Fitzwarine, and
withouten shame."

"By the Rood!" cried Richard. "Thou art lord of a manor;--born into
this condition. These things be beyond man to change. They are
appointed of High God."

"Natheless, God helping me, these things shall be changed, sire.
Presently, o' my manor, mayst thou see a-many free labourers tilling
each man his own field. And Stephen Fitzwarine shall be one."

"Thou 'rt mad!" screamed the King. "Dungeon hath darkened thy wits."

"So methought, sire," said the gaoler, "but hath more wits than
most,--hath not turned a hair."

"Now, by Saint Thomas of Canterbury!" Richard shouted, "I--I--nay,--I
've signed thy pardon,--I 'll keep faith,--this once."

Then his humour changed and he began to laugh very loud:--

"Go free! Turn peasant an thou wilt! But as concerning thy land, King
Richard is God's anointed, shall look to his stewardship. I will keep
custom for Christ's sake. Wherefore is thy manor confiscate, and the
villeins that dwell thereon, to the King."--He set his lips in a grim
smile: "Who saith Richard is not a good provisor, against his wedding
day?"

The gaoler pushed Stephen and Calote out of the room and down the
stair:--

"Best begone," quoth he, "hath been known to change his mind," and he
shut them out by a postern.

They went and sat on the side of Saint Catherine's Hill that looked on
Thames. A long while they sat there, holding each other's hand,
smiling each into other's eyes, saying little. But Stephen said:--

"Thou 'rt mine!"

And Calote said:--

"Methought this love was not for me!"

Her feet were bare, her kirtle frayed, and all their worldly goods was
a penny the gaoler had thrust in Stephen's hand. Stephen laughed, and
tossed the penny and caught it on the back of his hand. Then Calote
laughed also, and said she, shaking her head and smiling:--

"'T is not true that failure lieth in wait all along life's way?" and
a question grew in her eyes, and the smile faded.

He kissed her gray eyes where the shadows hovered:--

"What 's to fail?" quoth he.

"So saith my father," she made answer. "Yet meseems I must ever see
the Archbishop's head above London Bridge,--and next day Wat's. Was
not this failure?"

"Sweet heart," said Stephen, "I have been in prison a many months, and
concerning éternité I have learned a little. W-Wat Tyler failed to be
King of England. But thou and I, and those others, we did not arise up
to make W-Wat Tyler king. Dost believe there liveth to-day a villein
in England ho-ho-holdeth 't is righteous a man shall be bond-servant
to another against his own will? Thou mayst scourge a man to
silence,--but he 'll think his thought;--yea, and wh-whisper it to 's
children.--We did not fail."

Then Stephen took his love's face betwixt his hands, and kissed her
brow and eyes and lips:--

"I had a dream that I should dress thee in silk, pearl-broidered, and
a veil of silver. But now am I a landless man; must labour with my two
hands for daily bread. Natheless, am I tied to no man's manor,--may
sell my labour where I will. D-dost sigh for the dream, sweet heart,
and to be called Madame? Be advised in time,--a man 's ofttimes
endurable if his infirmity 's shrouded in good Flemish broadcloth, but
if he be naked as a needle, then must he be a man indeed--to pass."

"Now, prythee, how is 't honour to a maid if her lord lift her up to
his estate?" said Calote. "But if he condescend and clothe him in her
coat-armour, then is she honoured in vérité."

"In Yorkshire, mayhap I 'll find shepherding with Diggon. Wilt go
thither?" Stephen asked her.

And when she had answered him Yea, he laughed soft, and sang:--

    "Then I 'll put off my silken coat,
       And all my garments gay.
     Lend me thy ragged russet gown,
       For that 's my best array.
                 Ohé!
       For that's my best array."



                             EPILOGUE

                      "Love is leche of lyf."

                               _The Vision Concerning Piers Plowman._
                                             B. PASSUS I.



                             EPILOGUE


In the cloister of Malvern Priory schoolboys hummed and buzzed. The
sick man heard them.

"I have had a vision," he said, "I must sing it." And after: "Nay,--I
had forgot. 'T was long ago."

He lay on a pallet in the midst of the cloister garth, close by the
sun-dial. At dusk of the day past he had knocked at the gate and
fallen in the arms of the porter. All night a brother watched beside
him, and after Lauds the prior came to the door of the cell.

"'T is not the Black Death, or such-like malady?" he queried.

"Nay, Father, but a bodily weakness only. Hath scaped the dawn, but I
doubt not his spirit will flit at sunset."

"A friar?" 'T would seem as the word stank in the nostrils of the good
Father.

"Nay,--a clerk,--belike a priest secular."

"A Wyclifite preacher?" the prior questioned sharply. "We may not
harbour these Worcester Lollards."

"Hath a breviary, with prayers for the dead well thumbed. Likewise a
parchment. 'T is here."

The prior unrolled the parchment beneath the window. The sky was
a-flush with the coming up of the sun.

"Nay," quoth he presently, "'t is naught harmful. A poem."

The brother was peering over his prior's shoulder:--

"Here 's Holy Writ," said he.

"In Latin, brother, as is meet."

"'T is very bad Latin," the brother made answer.

The sick man spoke: "I will go up on the Hills," said he, "the Malvern
Hills," and he made as to rise; but this he might not do.

The brother gave him to drink, and wiped the sweat from his brow.

"Here 's an exhortation to King Richard II.," said the prior at the
window. "But Richard 's dead."

"Ay," spake the sick man. "Death and Dishonour ran a race for Richard.
Dishonour caught him first, but Death hath finished him. Mine
exhortation came too late, wherefore I broke off in the midst. I was
ever too late or too early, all my life long."

The prior came to the bed.

"I will go up on the Hills," said the man, and sat upright, but
immediately a faintness seized him and he swooned.

"Two-score and ten year, sayst thou?" quoth the prior. "Haply Brother
Owyn will know him."

When the sick man was come out of his swoon he said again, "I will go
a-wandering on the Malvern Hills. Let me forth,--the Hills. 'T is
dark,--let me forth to the sun.--Dost mind how I said, 'The prior of
Malvern shall not clap me in cloister'?--I am come home to the Hills."

"Let him be borne into the cloister garth," said the prior. "There may
he fresh him in the sun."

At noon, when there was no shadow on the face of the sun-dial, Brother
Owyn came hobbling slow over the grass betwixt two young monks that
guided his steps. For Brother Owyn was very old and bent and blind. He
had a beard like a snowdrift.

"Two-score and ten year," he mumbled, "and a poet, sayst 'ou?"

They sat him down beside the sick man's pallet, and one brought a
cushion for his feet, and the other drew his hood over his head, lest
the wind harm him,--howbeit 't was June. Then they went away and left
him with the stranger.

"Two-score and ten year," said the old man, "and 't is as
yesterday.--I go forth a pilgrimage to Truth, said he,--I have had a
vision concerning Peter the Ploughman."

The sick man opened his eyes. "The ploughman knoweth the way to
Truth," quoth he.

Brother Owyn lifted up his face to the sunlight, as he were
listening:--

"Will Langland, art thou there?" he asked.

At the sound of his own name the sick man's wandering wits came back.
He was 'ware of the old monk beside him.

"Thou canst not see?" he questioned.

"Nay, I do see very clear," said Brother Owyn, in that high,
protesting voice of age. "I see a river, shineth as the sun, and on
the farther side my daughter awaiteth me.--Her locks shine as bright
pure gold,--loose on her shoulders so softly they lie."

"My daughter hath likewise golden hair," murmured Long Will, "and my
granddaughter."

"The Lord, the King of Heaven, hath ta'en my daughter, my pearl, to be
his bride," said the old man. He held his head upright, very proud,
but then it began to shake and shake, till it dropped again, and his
chin was sunk in his breast.

"My daughter is wife to truest man in England; might have been
courtier to the King; but he 's a shepherd in Yorkshire,--and his son
's a shepherd. They be free labourers, no villeins," cried Will.

One in the cloister heard him and came running.

"Ay," assented Brother Owyn, his head ever a-nod, "the King's Son of
Heaven, he is the Good Shepherd."

The other monk poured wine between the sick man's white lips and
smoothed his pillow. Then he drew aside Brother Owyn's cowl and
shouted in his ear, "Dost know him, brother, dost remember him?"

"Hath a daughter," the old man answered, "but so have I. Her name 's
Margaret,--which is to mean a pearl."

"Calote is my daughter called," the sick man made known very clear.

The young monk shrugged his shoulders and went back to the cloister.

After a little while Brother Owyn spoke:--

"Will Langland had a daughter called Calote. She stood t' other side
the brook, and the light o' the sun blinded mine eyen. Methought 't
was mine own daughter come to take me home. I mind it as 't were
yesterday. 'In the city where the wall is jasper and the gates are
twelve pearls,' quoth she, 'will there be any villeins to labour while
other men feast?' I mind it as 't were yesterday."

"I am Will Langland," said the sick man.

"Yea, thou art he," returned the old monk. "I had forgot."

A little while they slept in the sun, but betwixt the hours of sext
and nones, Will moved his head on his pillow:--

"If any goeth into Yorkshire, I would have him seek out Stephen
Fitzwarine, and Calote his wife, and say to them that Will Langland
hath gone home to the Hills of Malvern for a little space. They would
have had me stay. My daughter wept when she bade good-by, and the babe
on her arm held me by my hair.--All 's not failure,--brother."

The old man dozed and did not hear him.

"She stood in her cottage doorway,--my daughter,--and the wolds
stretching far like the billows of the sea. But they 're not the Hills
of Malvern.

"'We 'll watch for thee, father,' she said, 'bide not long away. Here
's thy corner by the fireside. Here 's home.'--But I was born in the
Malvern Hills, my daughter.

"Stephen saw me as I crossed the wold.--He stood in the midst of his
flock; and young Will ran and gave me his shepherd's crook,--'Thou
hast no staff, gran'ther,' he said, 'I 'll fashion me another.' 'T was
early morn,--springtime. But I 've come back to Malvern--for a
little"--

"Here is a safe refuge for them that wait," the old man answered.

Long Will moved his head, restless. "But I may not wait long," he
said, "I go forth a pilgrimage to Truth, that dwelleth in the Kingdom
of Rightwisnesse."

"My daughter dwelleth therein,--I prythee tell her I 'm an old man
now. I am fain to cross the river."

"I will," said the sick man.

So they were silent until the setting of the sun. Then said Long Will
out aloud:--

    "By Christ--I will become a pilgrim,
     And wander as wide as the world reaches,
     To seek Piers the Ploughman that Pride might destroy--
     ... Now Kynde me avenge,
     And send me success and salvation till I have Piers Ploughman."

So, after the sun was set, that other brother came forth, and the
prior.

"Said I not so, that he would be gone about now?" quoth the brother.

"Yea," smiled Brother Owyn. "Hath gone on pilgrimage. This long-legged
lad 's more than he seems. Prythee let him go, prior. He 's a
poet,--will one day bring honour to Malvern Priory."



                            MADE AT THE
                           TEMPLE PRESS
                            LETCHWORTH
                                 IN
                           GREAT BRITAIN

                    [Illustration: a dandelion]



                        EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY

                    A LIST OF THE 896 VOLUMES
                      ARRANGED UNDER AUTHORS

             _Anonymous works are given under titles.
  Anthologies, Dictionaries, etc. are arranged at the end of the list._


  Abbott's Rollo at Work, etc., 275

  Addison's Spectator, 164-7

  Æschylus's Lyrical Dramas, 62

  Æsop's and Other Fables, 657

  Aimard's The Indian Scout, 428

  Ainsworth's Tower of London, 400
    "  Old St. Paul's, 522
    "  Windsor Castle, 709
    "  The Admirable Crichton, 894
    "  Rookwood, 870

  A Kempis's Imitation of Christ, 484

  Alcott's Little Women, and Good Wives, 248
    "  Little Men, 512

  Alpine Club: Peaks, Passes and Glaciers, 778

  Andersen's Fairy Tales, 4
    "  More Fairy Tales, 822

  Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 624

  Anson's Voyages, 510

  Aristophanes' Acharnians, etc., 344
    "  Frogs, etc., 516

  Aristotle's Nicomachaen Ethics, 547
    "  Politics, 605

  Armour's Fall of the Nibelungs, 312
    "  Gudrun, 880

  Arnold's (Matthew) Essays, 115
    "  Poems, 334
    "  Study of Celtic Literature, etc., 458

  Aucassin and Nicolette, 497

  Augustine's (Saint) Confessions, 200

  Aurelius's (Marcus) Meditations, 9

  Austen's (Jane) Sense and Sensibility, 21
    "  Pride and Prejudice, 22
    "  Mansfield Park, 23
    "  Emma, 24
    "  Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, 25


  Bacon's Essays, 10
    "  Advancement of Learning, 719

  Bagehot's Literary Studies, 520, 521

  Baker's (Sir S. W.) Cast up by the Sea, 539

  Ballantyne's Coral Island, 245
    "  Martin Rattier, 246
    "  Ungava, 276

  Balzac's Wild Ass's Skin, 26
    "  Eugénie Grandet, 169
    "  Old Goriot, 170
    "  Atheist's Mass, etc., 229
    "  Christ in Flanders, etc., 284
    "  The Chouans, 285
    "  Quest of the Absolute, 286
    "  Cat and Rachet, etc., 349
    "  Catherine de Medici, 419
    "  Cousin Pons, 463
    "  The Country Doctor, 530
    "  Rise and Fall of César Birotteau, 596
    "  Lost Illusions, 656
    "  The Country Parson, 686
    "  Ursule Mirouet, 733

  Barbusse's Under Fire, 798

  Barca's (Mme C. de la) Life in Mexico, 664

  Baxter's (Richard) Autobiography, 868

  Bates's Naturalist on the Amazon, 446

  Beaumont and Fletcher's Selected Plays, 506

  Beaumont's (Mary) Joan Seaton, 597

  Bede's Ecclesiastical History, 479

  Belt's Naturalist in Nicaragua, 561

  Berkeley's (Bishop) Principles of Human Knowledge, New Theory of
  Vision, etc., 483

  Berlioz (Hector), Life of, 602

  Binns's Life of Abraham Lincoln, 783

  Björnson's Plays, 625, 696

  Blackmore's Lorna Doone, 304
  "   Springhaven, 350

  Blackwell's Pioneer Work for Women, 667

  Blake's Poems and Prophecies, 792

  Boccaccio's Decameron, 845, 846

  Boehme's The Signature of All Things, etc., 569

  Bonaventura's The Little Flowers, The Life of St. Francis, etc., 485

  Borrow's Wild Wales, 49
    "  Lavengro, 119
    "  Romany Rye, 120
    "  Bible in Spain, 151
    "  Gypsies in Spain, 697

  Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1, 2
    "  Tour to the Hebrides, 387

  Boult's Asgard and Norse Heroes, 689

  Boyle's The Sceptical Chymist, 559

  Bright's (John) Speeches, 252

  Brontë's (A.) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Agnes Grey, 685

  Brontë's (C.) Jane Eyre, 287
    "  Shirley, 288
    "  Villette, 351
    "  The Professor, 417

  Brontë's (E.) Wuthering Heights, 243

  Brown's (Dr. John) Rab and His Friends, etc., 116

  Browne's (Frances) Grannie's Wonderful Chair, 112

  Browne's (Sir Thos.) Religio Medici, etc., 92

  Browning's Poems, 1833-44, 41
    "  1844-64, 42
    "  The Ring and the Book, 502

  Buchanan's Life and Adventures of Audubon, 601

  Bulfinch's The Age of Fable, 472
    "  Legends of Charlemagne, 556

  Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, 204
    "  Grace Abounding,  and Mr. Badman, 815

  Burke's American Speeches and Letters, 340
    "  Reflections on the French Revolution, etc., 460

  Burnet's History of His Own Times, 85

  Burney's Evelina, 352

  Burns's Poems and Songs, 94

  Burton's East Africa, 500

  Burton's (Robert) Anatomy of Melancholy, 886-888

  Butler's Analogy of Religion, 90

  Butler's (Samuel) Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited, 881

  Butler's The Way of All Flesh, 895

  Buxton's Memoirs, 773

  Byron's Complete Poetical and Dramatic Works, 486-8


  Cæsar's Gallic War, etc., 702

  Calderon's Plays, 819

  Canton's Child's Book of Saints, 61

  Canton's Invisible Playmate, etc., 566

  Carlyle's French Revolution, 31, 32
    "  Letters, etc., of Cromwell, 266-8
    "  Sartor Resartus, 278
    "  Past and Present, 608
    "  Essays, 703, 704
    "  Reminiscences, 875

  Carroll's (Lewis) Alice in Wonderland, etc., 836

  Castiglione's The Courtier, 807

  Cellini's Autobiography, 51

  Cervantes' Don Quixote, 385, 386

  Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 307

  Chesterfield's Letters to his Son, 823

  Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances, 698

  Cibber's Apology for his Life, 668

  Cicero's Select Letters and Orations, 345

  Clarke's Tales from Chaucer, 537
    "  Shakespeare's Heroines, 109-11

  Cobbett's Rural Rides, 638, 639

  Coleridge's Biographia, 11
    "  Golden Book of Poetry, 43
    "  Lectures on Shakspeare, 162

  Collins's Woman in White, 464

  Collodi's Pinocchio, 538

  Converse's Long Will, 328

  Cook's (Captain) Voyages, 99

  Cooper's The Deerslayer, 77
    "  The Pathfinder, 78
    "  Last of the Mohicans, 79
    "  The Pioneer, 171
    "  The Prairie, 172

  Cowper's Letters. 774
    "  Poems, 872

  Cox's Tales of Ancient Greece, 721

  Craik's Manual of English Literature, 346

  Craik (Mrs.). _See_ Mulock.

  Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles, 300

  Crèvecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer, 640

  Curtis's Prue and I, and Lotus, 418


  Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, 588

  Dante's Divine Comedy, 308

  Darwin's Origin of Species, 811
    "  Voyage of the Beagle, 104

  Dasent's Story of Burnt Njal, 558

  Daudet's Tartarin of Tarascon, 423

  Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, 59
    "  Captain Singleton, 74
    "  Memoirs of a Cavalier, 283
    "  Journal of Plague, 289
    "  Tour through England and Wales, 820, 821
    "  Moll Flanders, 837

  De Joinville's Memoirs of the Crusades, 333

  Demosthenes' Select Orations, 546

  Dennis's Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, 183. 184

  De Quincey's Lake Poets, 163
    "  Opium-Eater, 223
    "  English Mail Coach, etc., 609

  De Retz (Cardinal), Memoirs of, 735, 736

  Descartes' Discourse on Method, 570

  Dickens's Barnaby Rudge, 76
    "  Tale of Two Cities, 102
    "  Old Curiosity Shop, 173
    "  Oliver Twist, 233
    "  Great Expectations, 234
    "  Pickwick Papers, 235
    "  Bleak House, 236
    "  Sketches by Boz, 237
    "  Nicholas Nickleby, 238
    "  Christmas Books, 239
    "  Dombey and Son, 240
    "  Martin Chuzzlewit, 241
    "  David Copperfield, 242
    "  American Notes, 290
    "  Child's History of England, 291
    "  Hard Times, 292
    "  Little Dorrit, 293
    "  Our Mutual Friend, 294
    "  Christmas Stories, 414
    "  Uncommercial Traveller, 536
    "  Edwin Drood, 725
    "  Reprinted Pieces, 744

  Disraeli's Coningsby, 535

  Dodge's Hans Brinker, 620

  Donne's Poems, 867

  Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, 501
  "   The House of the Dead, 533
  "   Letters from the Underworld, etc., 654
  "   The Idiot, 682
  "   Poor Folk, and the Gambler, 711
  "   The Possessed, 861, 862
  "   The Brothers Karamazov, 802, 803

  Dowden's Life of R. Browning, 701

  Dryden's Dramatic Essays. 568

  Dufferin's Letters from High Latitudes, 499

  Dumas' The Three Musketeers, 81
    "  The Black Tulip, 174
    "  Twenty Years After, 175
    "  Marguerite de Valois, 326
    "  The Count of Monte Cristo, 393 394
    "  The Forty-Five, 420
    "  Chicot the Jester, 421
    "  Vicomte de Bragelonne, 593-5
    "  Le Chevalier de Maison Rouge, 614

  Du Maurier's Trilby, 863

  Duruy's Heroes of England, 471
    "  History of France, 737, 738


  Edgar's Cressy and Poictiers, 17
    "  Runnymede and Lincoln Fair, 320

  Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent, etc., 410

  Eighteenth-Century Plays, 818

  Eliot's Adam Bede, 27
    "  Silas Marner, 121
    "  Romola, 231
    "  Mill on the Floss, 325
    "  Felix Holt, 353
    "  Scenes of Clerical Life, 468
    "  Middlemarch, 2 vols., 854-5

  Elyot's Gouernour, 227

  Emerson's Essays, 12
    "  Representative Men, 279
    "  Nature, Conduct of Life, etc., 322
    "  Society and Solitude, etc., 567
    "  Poems, 715

  Epictetus's Moral Discourses, 404

  Erckmann-Chatrian's The Conscript and Waterloo, 354
    "  Story of a Peasant, 706, 707

  Euclid's Elements, 891

  Euripides' Plays, 63, 271

  Evans's Holy Graal, 445

  Evelyn's Diary, 220, 221

  Everyman and other Interludes, 381

  Ewing's (Mrs.) Mrs. Overtheway's Remembrances, etc., 730
    "  Jackanapes, Daddy Darwin's Dovecot, and
       The Story of a Short Life, 731


  Faraday's Experimental Researches in Electricity, 576

  Ferrier's (Susan) Marriage, 816

  Fielding's Amelia, 2 vols., 852-3
    "  Tom Jones, 355, 356
    "  Joseph Andrews, 467
    "  Jonathan Wild and the Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon, 877

  Finlay's Byzantine Empire, 33
    "  Greece under the Romans, 185

  Flaubert's Madame Bovary, 808
    "  Salammbo, 869

  Fletcher's (Beaumont and) Selected Plays, 506

  Ford's Gatherings from Spain, 152

  Forster's Life of Dickens, 781, 782

  Fox's (George) Journal, 754

  Fox's (Charles James) Selected Speeches, 759

  Francis's (Saint), The Little Flowers, etc., 485

  Franklin's Journey to the Polar Sea, 447

  Freeman's Old English History for Children, 540

  French Mediaeval Romances, 557

  Froissart's Chronicles, 57

  Froude's Short Studies, 13, 705
    "  Henry VIII., 372-4

  Froude's Edward VI, 375
    "  Mary Tudor, 477
    "  History of Queen Elizabeth's Reign, 583-7
    "  Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, 666


  Galt's Annals of the Parish, 427

  Galton's Inquiries into Human Faculty, 263

  Gaskell's Cranford, 83
    "  Life of Charlotte Brontë, 318
    "  Sylvia's Lovers, 524
    "  Mary Barton, 598
    "  Cousin Phillis, etc., 615
    "  North and South, 680

  Gatty's Parables from Nature, 158

  Geoffrey of Monmouth's Histories of the Kings of Britain, 577

  George's Progress and Poverty, 560

  Gibbon's Roman Empire, 434-6, 474-6
    "  Autobiography, 511

  Gilfillan's Literary Portraits, 348

  Giraldus Cambrensis, Wales, 272

  Gleig's Life of Wellington, 341
    "  The Subaltern, 708

  Goethe's Conversations with Eckermann, 851
    "  Faust, 335
    "  Wilhelm Meister, 599, 600

  Gogol's Dead Souls, 726
    "  Taras Bulba, 740

  Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield, 295
    "  Poems and Plays, 415

  Goncharov's Oblomov, 878

  Gorki's Through Russia, 741

  Gotthelf's Ulric the Farm Servant, 228

  Gray's Poems and Letters, 628

  Green's Short History of the English People, 727, 728. The cloth
  edition is in 2 vols. All other editions are in 1 vol.

  Grettir Saga, 699

  Grimm's Fairy Tales, 56

  Grote's History of Greece, 186-197

  Guest's (Lady) Mabinogion, 97


  Hahnemann's The Organon of the Rational Art of Healing, 663

  Hakluyt's Voyages, 264, 265, 313, 314, 338, 339, 388, 389

  Hallam's Constitutional History, 621-3

  Hamilton's The Federalist, 519

  Harte's Luck of Roaring Camp, 681

  Harvey's Circulation of Blood, 262

  Hawthorne's Wonder Book, 5
    "  The Scarlet Letter, 122

  Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables, 176
    "  The Marble Faun, 424
    "  Twice Told Tales, 531
    "  Blithedale Romance, 592

  Hazlitt's Characters of Shakespeare's Plays, 65
    "  Table Talk, 321
    "  Lectures, 411
    "  Spirit of the Age and Lectures on English Poets, 459
    "  Plain Speaker, 814

  Hebbel's Plays, 694

  Heimskringla: the Olaf Sagas, 717
    "  Sagas of the Norse Kings, 847

  Helps' (Sir Arthur) Life of Columbus, 332

  Herbert's Temple, 309

  Herodotus, 405, 406

  Herrick's Hesperides, 310

  Hobbes's Leviathan, 691

  Holinshed's Chronicle, 800

  Holmes's Life of Mozart, 564

  Holmes's (O. W.) Autocrat, 66
    "  Professor, 67
    "  Poet, 68

  Homer's Iliad, 453
    "  Odyssey, 454

  Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, 201, 202

  Horace's Complete Poetical Works, 515

  Houghton's Life and Letters of Keats, 801

  Howard's (E.), Rattlin the Reefer, 857

  Howard's (John) State of the Prisons, 835

  Hughes's Tom Brown's Schooldays, 58

  Hugo's (Victor) Les Misérables, 363, 364
    "  Notre Dame, 422
    "  Toilers of the Sea, 509

  Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, etc., 548, 549

  Hunt's (Leigh) Selected Essays, 829

  Hutchinson's (Col.) Memoirs, 317

  Huxley's Man's Place in Nature, 47
    "  Select Lectures and Lay Sermons, 498


  Ibsen's The Doll's House, etc., 494
    "  Ghosts, etc., 552
    "  Pretender, Pillars of Society Rosmersholm, 659
    "  Brand, 716
    "  Lady Inger, etc., 729
    "  Peer Gynt, 747

  Ingelow's Mopsa the Fairy, 619

  Irving's Sketch Book, 117
    "  Conquest of Granada, 478;
    "  Life of Mahomet, 513

  Italian Short Stories, 876


  James's (G. P. R.) Richelieu, 357

  James (Wm.), Selections from, 739

  Jefferies' (Richard) Bevis, 850

  Johnson's (Dr.) Lives of the Poets, 770-1

  Jonson's (Ben) Plays. 489, 490

  Josephus's Wars of the Jews, 712


  Kalidasa's Shakuntala, 629

  Keats's Poems, 101

  Keble's Christian Year, 690

  King's Life of Mazzini, 562

  Kinglake's Eothen, 337

  Kingsley's (Chas.) Westward Ho!, 20
    "  Heroes, 113
    "  Hypatia, 230
    "  Water Babies, and Glaueus, 277
    "  Hereward the Wake, 206
    "  Alton Locke, 462
    "  Yeast, 611
    "  Madam How and Lady Why, 777
    "  Poems, 793

  Kingsley's (Henry) Ravenshoe, 28
    "  Geoffrey Hamlyn, 416

  Kingston's Peter the Whaler, 6
    "  Three Midshipmen, 7

  Kirby's Kalevala, 259-60

  Koran, 380


  Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, 8
    "  Essays of Elia, 14
    "  Letters, 342, 343

  Landor's Imaginary Conversations and Poems, 890

  Lane's Modern Egyptians, 315

  Langland's Piers Plowman, 571

  Latimer's Sermons, 40

  Law's Serious Call, 91

  Layamon's (Wace and) Arthurian Chronicles, 578

  Lear (Edward). _See under_ Anthologies

  Le Sage's Gil Blas, 437, 438

  Leslie's Memoirs of John Constable, 563

  Lessing's Laocoön, etc., 843

  Lever's Harry Lorrequer, 177

  Lewes' Life of Goethe, 269

  Lincoln's Speeches, etc., 206

  Livy's History of Rome, 603, 609 670, 749, 755, 756

  Locke's Civil Government, 751

  Lockhart's Life of Napoleon, 3
    "  Life of Scott, 55
    "  Life of Burns, 156

  Longfellow's Poems, 382

  Lönnrott's Kalevala, 259, 260

  Lover's Handy Andy, 178

  Lowell's Among My Books, 607

  Lucretius's Of the Nature of Things, 750

  Lützow's History of Bohemia, 432

  Lyell's Antiquity of Man, 700

  Lytton's Harold, 15
    "  Last of the Barons, 18
    "  Last Days of Pompeii, 80
    "  Pilgrims of the Rhine, 390
    "  Rienzi, 532


  Macaulay's England, 34-6
    "  Essays, 225, 226
    "  Speeches on Politics, etc., 399
    "  Miscellaneous Essays, 439

  MacDonald's Sir Gibbie, 678
    "  Phantastes, 732

  Machiavelli's Prince, 280
    "  Florence, 376

  Maine's Ancient Law, 734

  Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. 45, 46

  Malthus on the Principles of Population, 692, 693

  Mandeville's Travels, 812

  Manning's Sir Thomas More, 19
    "  Mary Powell, and Deborah's Diary, 324

  Marlowe's Plays and Poems, 383

  Marryat's Mr. Midshipman Easy, 82
    "  Little Savage, 159
    "  Masterman Ready, 160
    "  Peter Simple, 232
    "  Children of New Forest, 247
    "  Percival Keene, 358
    "  Settlers in Canada, 370
    "  King's Own, 580
    "  Jacob Faithful, 618

  Martinean's Feats on the Fjords, 429

  Martinengo-Cesaresco's Folk-Lore and other Essays, 673

  Marx's Capital, 848, 849

  Maurice's Kingdom of Christ, 146-7

  Mazzinl's Duties of Man, etc., 224

  Melville's Moby Dick, 179
    "  Typee, 180
    "  Omoo, 297

  Mérimée's Carmen, etc., 834

  Merivale's History of Rome, 433

  Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz, 842

  Mignet's French Revolution, 713

  Mill's Utilitarianism, Liberty, Representative Government, 482
    "  Rights of Woman, 825

  Miller's Old Red Sandstone, 103

  Milman's History of the Jews, 377, 378

  Milton's Areopagitica and other Prose Works, 795
    "  Poems, 384

  Molière's Comedies, 830-1

  Mommsen's History of Rome, 542-5

  Montagu's (Lady) Letters, 69

  Montaigne's Essays, 440-2

  More's Utopia, and Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, 461

  Morier's Hajji Baba, 679

  Morris's (Wm.) Early Romances, 261
    "  Life and Death of Jason, 575

  Morte D'Arthur Romances, 634

  Motley's Dutch Republic, 86-8

  Mulock's John Halifax, 123


  Neale's Fall of Constantinople, 655

  Newcastle's (Margaret, Duchess of) Life of the First Duke of
  Newcastle, etc., 722

  Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua, 636
    "  On the Scope and Nature of University Education, and a Paper on
       Christianity and Scientific Investigation, 723

  Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, 892


  Oliphant's Salem Chapel, 244

  Omar Khayyam, 819

  Osborne (Dorothy), Letters of, 674

  Owen's (Robert) A New View of Society, etc., 799


  Paine's Rights of Man, 718

  Palgrave's Golden Treasury, 96

  Paltock's Peter Wilkins, 673

  Park's (Mungo) Travels, 205

  Parkman's Conspiracy of Pontiac, 302, 303

  Pascall's Pensees, 874

  Paston Letters, 752, 753

  Peacock's Headlong Hall, 327

  Penn's The Peace of Europe, Some Fruits of Solitude, etc., 724

  Pepys's Diary, 53, 54

  Percy's Reliques, 148, 149

  Pitt's Orations, 145

  Plato's Republic, 64
    "  Dialogues, 456, 457

  Plutarch's Lives, 407-409
    "  Moralia, 565

  Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination, 336
    "  Poems and Essays. 791

  Polo's (Marco) Travels, 306

  Pope's Complete Poetical Works, 760

  Prescott's Conquest of Peru, 301
    "  Conquest of Mexico, 397, 398

  Prévost's Manon Lescaut, etc., 834

  Procter's Legends and Lyrics, 150


  Quiller-Couch's Hetty Wesley, 864


  Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel, 26, 827

  Radcliffe's (Mrs. Ann) The Mysteries of Udolpho, 865, 866

  Ramayana and Mahabharata, 403

  Reade's The Cloister and the Hearth, 29
    "  Peg Woffington, 299

  Reid's (Mayne) Boy Hunters of the Mississippi, 582
    "  The Boy Slaves, 797

  Renan's Life of Jesus, 805

  Reynold's Discourses, 118

  Ricardo's Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, 590

  Richardson's Pamela, 683, 684
    "  Clarissa, 882-5

  Roberts' (Morley) Western Avernus, 762

  Robertson's Religion and Life, 37
    "  Christian Doctrine, 38
    "  Bible Subjects, 39

  Robinson's (Wade) Sermons, 637

  Roget's Thesaurus, 630, 631

  Rossetti's (D. G.) Poems, 627

  Rousseau's Confessions, 859, 860
    "  Emile, 518
    "  Social Contract and other Essays, 660

  Ruskin's Seven Lamps of Architecture, 207
    "  Modern Painters, 208-212
    "  Stones of Venice, 213-215
    "  Unto this Last, etc., 216
    "  Elements of Drawing, etc., 217
    "  Pre-Raphaelitism, etc., 218
    "  Sesame and Lilies, 219
    "  Ethics of the Dust, 282
    "  Crown of Wild Olive, and Cestus of Aglaia, 323
    "  Time and Tide, etc., 450
    "  The Two Boyhoods, 683

  Russell's Life of Gladstone, 661


  Sand's (George) The Devil's Pool, and François the Waif, 534

  Scheffel's Ekkehard, 529

  Scott's (M.) Tom Cringle's Log, 710

  Scott's (Sir W.) Ivanhoe, 16
    "  Fortunes of Nigel, 71
    "  Woodstock, 72
    "  Waverley, 75
    "  The Abbot, 124
    "  Anne of Geierstein, 125
    "  The Antiquary, 126
    "  Highland Widow, and Betrothed, 127
    "  Black Dwarf, Legend of Montrose, 128
    "  Bride of Lammermoor, 129
    "  Castle Dangerous, Surgeon's Daughter, 130
    "  Robert of Paris, 131
    "  Fair Maid of Perth, 132
    "  Guy Mannering, 133
    "  Heart of Midlothian, 134
    "  Kenilworth, 135
    "  The Monastery, 136
    "  Old Mortality, 137
    "  Peveril of the Peak, 138
    "  The Pirate, 139
    "  Quentin Durward, 140
    "  Redgauntlet, 141
    "  Rob Roy, 142
    "  St. Ronan's Well, 143
    "  The Talisman, 144
    "  Lives of the Novelists, 331
    "  Poems and Plays, 550, 551

  Seebohm's Oxford Reformers, 665

  Seeley's Ecce Homo, 305

  Sienkiewiez's Tales, 871

  Sewell's (Anna) Black Beauty, 748

  Shakespeare's Comedies, 153
    "  Histories, etc., 154
    "  Tragedies, 155

  Shelley's Poetical Works, 257, 258

  Shelley's (Mrs.) Frankenstein, 616
    "  Rights of Women, 825

  Sheppard's Charles Auchester, 505

  Sheridan's Plays, 95

  Sismondi's Italian Republics, 250

  Smeaton's Life of Shakespeare, 514

  Smith's Wealth of Nations, 412, 413

  Smith's (George) Life of Wm. Carey, 395

  Smollett's Roderick Random, 790
    "  Peregrine Pickle, 838, 839

  Sophocles' Dramas, 114

  Southey's Life of Nelson, 52

  Spectator, 164-7

  Speke's Source of the Nile, 50

  Spencer's (Herbert) Essays on Education, 503

  Spenser's Faerie Queene, 443, 444
    "  The Shepherd's Calendar, 879

  Spinoza's Ethics, etc., 481

  Spyri's Heidi, 431

  Stanley's Memorials of Canterbury, 89
    "  Eastern Church, 251

  Steele's The Spectator, 164-7

  Sterne's Tristram Shandy, 617
    "  Sentimental Journey and Journal to Eliza, 796

  Stevenson's Treasure Island and Kidnapped, 763
    "  Master of Ballantrae and the Black Arrow, 764
    "  Virginibus Puerisque and Familiar Studies of Men and Books, 765
    "  An Inland Voyage, Travels with a Donkey, and Silverado
       Squatters, 766
    "  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Merry Men, etc., 767
    "  Poems, 768
    "  In the South Seas and Island Nights' Entertainments, 769

  St. Francis, The Little Flowers of, etc., 485

  Stow's Survey of London, 589

  Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, 371

  Strickland's Queen Elizabeth, 100

  Surtees' Jorrocks' Jaunts, 817

  Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell, 379
    "  Divine Love and Wisdom, 635
    "  Divine Providence, 658
    "  The True Christian Religion, 893

  Swift's Gulliver's Travels, 60
    "  Journal to Stella, 757
    "  Tale of a Tub, etc., 347

  Swiss Family Robinson, 430


  Tacitus's Annals, 273
    "  Agricola and Germania, 274

  Taylor's Words and Places, 517

  Tennyson's Poems, 44, 626

  Thackeray's Esmond, 73
    "  Vanity Fair, 298
    "  Christmas Books, 359
    "  Pendennis, 425, 426
    "  Newcomes, 465, 466
    "  The Virginians, 507, 508
    "  English Humorists, and The Four Georges, 610
    "  Roundabout Papers, 687

  Thierry's Norman Conquest, 198, 199

  Thoreau's Walden, 281

  Thucydides' Peloponnesian War, 455

  Tolstoy's Master and Man, and Other Parables and Tales, 469
    "  War and Peace, 525-7
    "  Childhood, Boyhood and Youth, 591
    " Anna Karenina, 612, 613

  Trench's On the Study of Words and English Past and Present, 788

  Trollope's Barchester Towers, 30
    "  Dr. Thorne, 360
    "  Framley Parsonage, 181
    "  Golden Lion of Granpere, 761
    "  Last Chronicles of Barset, 391, 392
    "  Phineas Finn, 832-3
    "  Small House at Allington, 361
    "  The Warden, 182

  Trotter's The Bayard of India, 396
    "  Hodson of Hodson's Horse, 401
    "  Warren Hastings, 452

  Turgenev's Virgin Soil, 528
    "  Liza, 677
    "  Fathers and Sons, 742

  Tyndall's Glaciers of the Alps, 98

  Tytler's Principles of Translation, 168


  Vasari's Lives of the Painters, 784-7

  Verne's (Jules) Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, 319
    "  Dropped from the Clouds, 367
    "  Abandoned, 368
    "  The Secret of the Island, 369
    "  Five Weeks in a Balloon, and Around the World in Eighty Days, 779

  Virgil's Æneid, 161
    "  Eclogues and Georgics, 222

  Voltaire's Life of Charles XII, 270
    "  Age of Louis XIV, 780


  Wace and Layamon's Arthurian Chronicles, 578

  Wakefield's Letter from Sydney, etc., 828

  Walpole's Letters, 775

  Walton's Compleat Angler, 70

  Waterton's Wanderings in South America, 772

  Wesley's Journal, 105-108

  White's Selborne, 48

  Whitman's Leaves or Grass, and Democratic Vistas, etc., 573

  Whyte-Melville's Gladiators, 523

  Wilde's Plays, Prose Writings and Poems, 858

  Wood's (Mrs. Henry) The Channings, 84

  Woolman's Journal, etc., 402

  Wordsworth's Shorter Poems, 203
    "  Longer Poems, 311


  Xenophon's Cyropædia, 67


  Yellow Book, 503

  Yonge's The Dove in the Eagle's Nest, 329
    "  The Book of Golden Deeds, 330
    "  The Heir of Redclyffe, 362

  Yonge's The Little Duke, 470
    "  The Lances of Lynwood, 570

  Young's (Arthur) Travels in France and Italy, 720


  _Anthologies, Dictionaries, etc._:

  A Book of English Ballads, 572

  A Book of Heroic Verse, 574

  A Book of Nonsense, by Edward Lear, and Others, 806

  A Century of Essays, An Anthology, 653

  American Short Stories of the Nineteenth Century, 840

  A New Book of Sense and Nonsense, 813

  An Anthology of English Prose: From Bede to Stevenson, 675

  An Encyclopædia of Gardening, by Walter P. Wright, 555

  Ancient Hebrew Literature, 4 vols., 253-6

  Anglo-Saxon Poetry, 794

  Annals of Fairyland, 365, 366, 541

  Anthology of British Historical Speeches and Orations, 714

  Atlas of Classical Geography, 451

  Atlases, Literary and Historical: Europe, 496;
    America, 553;
    Asia, 633;
    Africa and Australasia, 662


  Dictionary, Biographical, of English Literature, 449
    "  of Dates, 554
    "  Everyman's  English, 776
    "  of Non-Classical Mythology, 632
    "  Smaller Classical, 495
    "  of Quotations and Proverbs, 809-10

  English Short Stories. An Anthology, 743


  Fairy Gold, 157

  Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights, 249

  French Short Stories, 896


  Golden Treasury of Longer Poems, 746


  Minor Elizabethan Drama, 491, 492

  Minor Poets of the Eighteenth Century, 844

  Minor Poets of the 17th Century, 873

  Mother Goose, 473

  Muses' Pageant, The, 581, 606, 671


  New Golden Treasury, 695

  New Testament, The, 93


  A Poetry Book for Boys and Girls, 894

  Political Liberty, a Symposium, 745

  Prayer Books of King Edward VI. 1st and 2nd, 448

  Prelude to Poetry, 789


  Reader's Guide to Everyman's Library, by R. Farquharson Sharp and E.
  Rhys, 889

  Restoration Plays, 604

  Russian Short Stories, 758


  Shorter Novels: Elizabethan, 824
    "  Jacobean and Restoration, 841
    "  Eighteenth Century, 856


  Theology in the English Poets, 493

  Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, Roget's, 630, 631


           NOTE--The following numbers are at present out of print:
        89, 110, 111, 146, 227, 228, 244, 275, 390, 418, 565, 597, 664


                  LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS LTD.
                 NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO. INC.



                       Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation, use of hyphens, and accent marks were standardized.
Spaces were retained in contractions of verbs.  Obsolete and
alternative spellings were not changed.

The following were corrected:

  'jolyf' to 'joly' ... I would I were that joly gentil one, ...
  'wherefor' to 'wherefore' ... the gold wherefore the people ...
  'Thorough' to Through' ... Through parliament doth the King ...
  duplicate 'the' removed ... Ballantrae and the Black Arrow ...





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