By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Wager of Battle - A Tale of Saxon Slavery in Sherwood Forest
Author: Herbert, Henry William, 1807-1858
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Wager of Battle - A Tale of Saxon Slavery in Sherwood Forest" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's Note: Minor typographical errors have been corrected
without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have
been retained as printed.

Words printed in italics are marked with underlines: _italics_.

The cover of this ebook was created by the transcriber and is hereby
placed in the public domain.






Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District
of New York.

82 & 84 Beekman St.

79 Cliff St.





"Wager of Battle,"

Descriptive of the manners, customs and institutions of our mutual
ancestry, Saxon and Norman, at the period of their fusion into the
great race, speaking the English tongue, by whatever name, in distant
and widely severed isles and continents, it is destined to be known,
and illustrative of the nature of Saxon serfdom in the twelfth century
of our era, is dedicated, as a slight token of great esteem, of
gratitude for many good offices, and of friendship, which, he hopes
and wishes, will stand all tests of time and change, unaltered,

By his sincere friend and servant,


THE CEDARS, July 20, 1855.


It is, perhaps, unfortunate that the period and, in some degree, the
scene of my present work, coincide nearly with those of the most
magnificent and gorgeous of historical romances, Sir Walter Scott's

It is hoped, however, that--notwithstanding this similarity, and the
fact that in both works the interest turns in some degree on the
contrast between the manners of the Saxon and Norman inhabitants of the
isle, and the state of things preceding the fusion of the two races
into one--notwithstanding, also, that in each a portion of the effect
depends on the introduction of a judicial combat, or "Wager of
Battle"--the resemblance will be found to be external and incidental
only, and that, neither in matter, manner, nor subject, is there any
real similarity between the books, much less any imitation or absurd
attempt, on my part, at rivalry with that which is admitted to be
incomparable. It will be seen, at once, by those who have the patience
to peruse the following pages, that I have aimed at something more than
a mere delineation of outward habits, customs, and details of martial
or pacific life; that I have entered largely into the condition of
classes, the peculiar institution of Serfdom, or White Slavery, as it
existed among our own ancestors--that portion of whom, from which our
blood is in the largest degree descended, being the servile population
of the island--in the twelfth century, and the steps which led to its
gradual abolition.

In doing this, I have been unavoidably led into the necessity of
dealing with the ancient jurisprudence of our race, the common law of
the land, the institution of Trial by Jury, and that singular feature
in our old judicial system, the reference of cases to the direct
decision of the Almighty by Wager of Battle, or, as it was also called,
"the Judgment of God."

I will here merely observe that, while the gist of my tale lies in the
adventures and escape of a fugitive Saxon Slave from the tyranny of his
Norman Lord, my work contains no reference to the peculiar institution
of any portion of this country, nor conceals any oblique insinuation
against, or covert attack upon, any part of the inhabitants of the
Continent, or any interest guaranteed to them by the Constitution.
Nevertheless, I would recommend no person to open a page of this
volume, who is prepared to deny that slavery _per se_ is an evil and a
wrong, and its effects deteriorating to all who are influenced by its
contact, governors alike and governed, since they will find nothing
agreeable, but much adverse to their way of thinking.

That it is an evil and a wrong, in itself, and a source of serious
detriment to all parties concerned, I can not but believe; and that,
like all other wrongs and evils, it will in the end, by God's wisdom,
be provided for and pass away, without violence or greater indirect
wrong and evil, I both believe and hope.

But I neither arrogate to myself the wisdom of imagining how this is to
be peacefully brought about in the lapse of ages, nor hesitate to
dissent from the intemperance of those who would cut the Gordian knot,
like Alexander, with the sword, reckless if the same blow should sever
the sacred bonds that consolidate the fabric of the Union.


THE CEDARS, September, 1st., 1855.




THE FOREST                                                   11


THE GOOD SERVICE                                             27


THE GUERDON OF GOOD SERVICE                                  39


THE NORMAN LORDS                                             47


THE SERF'S QUARTER                                           58


THE SAXON'S CONSTANCY                                        69


THE SLAVE-GIRL'S SELF-DEVOTION                               81


GUENDOLEN'S BOWER                                            91


GUENDOLEN                                                   100


THE LADY AND THE SLAVE                                      110


THE LADY'S GAME                                             126


THE DEPARTURE                                               136


THE PROGRESS                                                148


THE NEW HOME                                                159


THE OLD HOME                                                166


THE ESCAPE                                                  177


THE PURSUIT                                                 187


THE SANDS                                                   198


THE SUPPLIANT                                               217


THE LADY AND HER LOVER                                      230


THE ARREST                                                  245


THE SHERIFF                                                 260


THE TRIAL                                                   272


THE ACQUITTAL                                               285


THE FALSE CHARGE AND THE TRUE                               300


WAGER OF BATTLE                                             310


THE BRIDAL DAY                                              324






    "He rode half a mile the way;
    He saw no light that came of day;
    Then came he to a river broad,
    Never man over such one rode;
    Within he saw a place of green,
    Such one had he never erst seen."


In the latter part of the twelfth century--when, in the reign of Henry
II., fourth successor of the Conqueror, and grandson of the first
prince of that name, known as Beauclerc, the condition of the
vanquished Saxons had begun in some sort to amend, though no fusion of
the races had as yet commenced, and tranquillity was partially
restored to England--the greater part of the northern counties, from
the Trent to the mouths of Tyne and Solway, was little better than an
unbroken chase or forest, with the exception of the fiefs of a few
great barons, or the territories of a few cities and free borough
towns; and thence, northward to the Scottish frontier, all was a rude
and pathless desert of morasses, moors, and mountains, untrodden save
by the foot of the persecuted Saxon outlaw.

In the West and North Ridings of the great and important Shire of
York, there were, it is true, already a few towns of more than growing
importance; several of which had been originally the sites, or had
grown up in the vicinity and under the shelter of Roman Stative
encampments; whereof not a few of them have retained the evidence in
their common termination, _caster_, while others yet retain the
more modern Saxon appellations. Of these two classes, Doncaster,
Pontefract, Rotherham, Sheffield, Ripon, may be taken as examples,
which were even then flourishing, and, for the times, even opulent
manufacturing boroughs, while the vastly larger and more wealthy
commercial places, which have since sprung up, mushroom-like, around
them, had then neither hearths nor homes, names nor existence.

In addition to these, many great lords and powerful barons already
possessed vast demesnes and manors, and had erected almost royal
fortalices, the venerable ruins of which still bear evidence to the
power and the martial spirit of the Norman lords of England; and even
more majestic and more richly endowed institutions of the church, such
as Fountains, Jorvaulx, and Bolton Abbayes, still the wonder and
reproach of modern architecture, and the admiration of modern artists,
had created around themselves garden-like oases among the green glades
and grassy aisles of the immemorial British forests; while, emulating
the example of their feudal or clerical superiors, many a military
tenant, many a gray-frocked friar, had reared his tower of strength,
or built his lonely cell, upon some moat-surrounded mount, or in some
bosky dingle of the wood.

In the East Riding, all to the north of the ancient city of the Shire,
even then famous for its minster and its castle, even then the see and
palace of the second archbishop of the realm, was wilder yet, ruder
and more uncivilized. Even to this day, it is, comparatively speaking,
a bleak and barren region, overswept by the cold gusts from the German
ocean, abounding more in dark and stormy wolds than in the cheerful
green of copse or wildwood, rejoicing little in pasture, less in
tillage, and boasting of nothing superior to the dull market towns of
the interior, and the small fishing villages nested among the crags of
its iron coast.

Most pitilessly had this district been ravaged by the Conqueror and
his immediate successor, after its first desperate and protracted
resistance to the arms of the Norman; after the Saxon hope of England
fell, to arise no more, upon the bloody field of Hastings; and after
each one of the fierce Northern risings.

The people were of the hard, old, stubborn, Danish stock, more
pertinacious, even, and more stubborn, than the enduring Saxon, but
with a dash of a hotter and more daring spirit than belonged to their
slower and more sluggish brethren.

These men would not yield, could not be subdued by the iron-sheathed
cavalry of the intrusive kings. They were destroyed by them, the lands
were swept bare,[1] the buildings burned, the churches desecrated.
Manors, which under the native rule of the Confessor had easily
yielded sixty shillings of annual rent, without distress to their
occupants, scarcely paid five to their foreign lords; and estates,
which under the ancient rule opulently furnished forth a living to
two[2] English gentlemen of rank with befitting households, now barely
supported two miserable Saxon cultivators, slaves of the soil, paying
their foreign lords, with the blood of their hands and the sweat of
their brows, scarcely the twelfth part of the revenue drawn from them
by the old proprietors.

          [1] Omnia sunt wasta. Modo omnino wasta. Ex maxima parte
          wasta.--_Doomsday Book_, vol. i. fol. 309.

          [2] Duo Taini tenueri. ibi sunt ii villani cum I carruca.
          valuit xl solidos. modo ilii sol.--_Ibid._ vol. i. fol.

When, in a subsequent insurrection, the Norman king again marched
northward, in full resolve to carry his conquering arms to the
frontiers of Scotland, and, sustained by his ferocious energy, did
actually force his way through the misty moorlands and mountainous
mid-regions of Durham, Northumberland, and Westmoreland, he had to
traverse about sixty miles of country, once not the least fertile of
his newly-conquered realm, in which his mail-clad men-at-arms saw
neither green leaves on the trees, nor green crops in the field; for
the ax and the torch had done their work, not negligently; passed
neither standing roof nor burning hearth; encountered neither human
being nor cattle of the field; only the wolves, which had become so
numerous from desuetude to the sight of man, that they scarce cared to
fly before the clash and clang of the marching squadrons.

To the northward and north-westward, yet, of Yorkshire, including what
are now Lancashire, Westmoreland, Northumberland, and Cumberland,
though the Conqueror, in his first irresistible prosecution of
red-handed victory, had marched and countermarched across them, there
was, even at the time of my narrative, when nearly a century had fled,
little if any thing of permanent progress or civilization, beyond the
establishment of a few feudal holds and border fortresses, each with
its petty hamlet clustered beneath its shelter. The marches, indeed,
of Lancashire, toward its southern extremity, were in some degree
permanently settled by military colonists, in not a few instances
composed of Flemings, as were the Welch frontiers of the neighboring
province of Cheshire, planted there to check the inroads of the still
unconquered Cymri, to the protection of whose mountains, and
late-preserved independence, their whilom enemies, the now persecuted
Saxons, had fled in their extremity.

It is from these industrious artisans, then the scorn of the high-born
men-at-arms, that the trade had its origin, which has filled the bleak
moors, and every torrent gorge of Lancaster and Western York, with a
teeming population and a manufacturing opulence, such as, elsewhere,
the wide earth has not witnessed. Even at the time of which I write,
the clack of their fulling-mills, the click of their looms, and the
din of their trip-hammers, resounded by the side of many a lonely
Cheshire stream; but all to the north and westward, where the wildest
hillsides and most forbidding glens are now more populous and richer
than the greatest cities of those days, all was desolate as the aspect
of the scenery, and inhospitable as the climate that lowers over it in
constant mist and darkness.

Only in the south-western corner of Westmoreland, the lovely land of
lakes and mountains and green pastoral glens, beyond Morecambe Bay and
the treacherous sands of Lancaster, had the Norman nobles, as the
entering tide swept upward through the romantic glens and ghylls of
Netherdale and Wharfedale, past the dim peaks of Pennigant and
Ingleborough, established their lines in those pleasant places, and
reared their castellated towers, and laid out their noble chases,
where they had little interruption to apprehend from the tyrannic
forest laws of the Norman kings, which, wherever their authority
extended, bore not more harshly on the Saxon serf than on the Norman

To return, however, toward the midland counties, and the rich regions
with which this brief survey of Northern England in the early years of
the twelfth century commenced--a vast tract of country, including much
of the northern portions of Nottingham and Derbyshire, and all the
south of the West Riding of York, between the rivers Trent and Eyre,
was occupied almost exclusively by that most beautiful and famous of
all British forests, the immemorial and time-honored Sherwood--theme
of the oldest and most popular of English ballads--scene of the most
stirring of the old Romaunts--scene of the most magnificent of modern
novels, incomparable Ivanhoe--home of that half historic personage,
King of the Saxon greenwoods, Robin Hood, with all his northern
merry-men, Scathelock, and Friar Tuck, and Little John, Allen-a-Dale,
wild forest minstrel, and the blythe woodland queen, Maid Marion--last
leafy fortalice, wherein, throughout all England proper, lingered the
sole remains of Saxon hardihood and independence--red battle-field of
the unsparing conflicts of the rival Roses.

There stand they still, those proud, majestic kings of bygone ages;
there stand they still, the

                             "Hallowed oaks,
    Who, British-born, the last of British race,
    Hold their primeval rights by nature's charter,
    Not at the nod of Cæsar;"

there stand they still, erect, earth-fast, and massive, grasping the
green-sward with their gnarled and knotty roots, waving "their free
heads in the liberal air," full of dark, leafy umbrage clothing their
lower limbs; but far aloft, towering with bare, stag-horned, and
splintered branches toward the unchanged sky from which so many
centuries of sunshine have smiled down, of tempest frowned upon their
"secular life of ages."

There stand they, still, I say; alone, or scattered here and there, or
in dark, stately groups, adorning many a noble park of modern days, or
looming up in solemn melancholy upon some "one-tree hill," throughout
the fertile region which lies along the line of that great ancient
road, known in the Saxon days as Ermine-street, but now, in common
parlance, called "the Dukeries," from seven contiguous domains,
through which it sweeps, of England's long-lined nobles.

Not now, as then, embracing in its green bosom sparse tracts of
cultivated lands, with a few borough-towns, and a few feudal keeps, or
hierarchal abbayes, but itself severed into divers and far-distant
parcels, embosomed in broad stretches of the deepest meadows, the most
teeming pastures, or girded on its swelling, insulated knolls by the
most fertile corn-lands, survives the ancient Sherwood.

Watered by the noblest and most beautiful of northern rivers, the calm
and meadowy Trent, the sweet sylvan Idle, the angler's favorite,
fairy-haunted Dee, the silver Eyre, mountainous Wharfe, and pastoral
Ure and Swale; if I were called upon to name the very garden-gem of
England, I know none that compares with this seat of the old-time
Saxon forest.

You can not now travel a mile through that midland region of plenty
and prosperity without hearing the merry chime of village bells from
many a country spire, without passing the happy doors of hundreds of
low cottage homes, hundreds of pleasant hamlets courting the mellow
sunshine from some laughing knoll, or nestling in the shrubberies of
some orchard-mantled hollow.

Nor are large, prosperous, and thriving towns, rich marts of
agricultural produce, or manufactures of wealth richer than gold of El
Dorado, so far apart but that a good pedestrian may travel through the
streets of a half a dozen in a day's journey, and yet stand twenty
times agaze between their busy precincts in admiration--to borrow the
words of the great northern Romancer, with the scene and period of
whose most splendid effort my humble tale unfortunately coincides--in
admiration of the "hundreds of broad-headed, short-stemmed,
wide-branched oaks, which had witnessed, perhaps, the stately march of
the Roman soldiers."

And here, let none imagine these to be mere exaggerations, sprung from
the overflowing brain of the Romancer, for, not fifty miles distant
from the scene described above, there is yet to be seen a venerable
patriarch of Sherwood, which boasted still, within a few short years,
some garlands of surviving green--the oak of Cowthorpe--probably the
largest in the island; which is to this day the boundary corner of
two marching properties, and has been such since it was constituted
so in Doomsday Book, wherein it was styled _quercum ingentem_, the
gigantic oak.

Since the writing of those words eight centuries have passed, and
there are many reasons for believing that those centuries have added
not an inch to its circumference, but rather detracted from its vigor
and its growth; and, to me, it seems far more probable that it was a
full-grown tree, with all its leafy honors rife upon it, when the
first Cæsar plunged, waist-deep, into the surges of the British
Channel from the first Roman prow, than that it should have sprung up,
like the gourd of a Jonah, in a single night, to endure a thousand
years' decay without entirely perishing.

In those days, however, a man might ride from "eve to morn, from morn
to dewy eve," and hear no sound more human than the deep "belling" of
the red deer, if it chanced to be in the balmy month of June; the
angry grunt of the tusky boar, startled from his mud-bath in some
black morass; or, it may be, the tremendous rush of the snow-white,
black-maned bull, crashing his way through shivered saplings and rent
under-brush, mixed with the hoarse cooings of the cushat dove, the
rich song-gushes of the merle and mavis, or the laughing scream of the
green woodpecker.

Happy, if in riding all day in the green leafy twilight, which never,
at high noon, admitted one clear ray of daylight, and, long before the
sun was down, degenerated into murky gloom, he saw no sights more
fearful than the rabbits glancing across the path, and disappearing in
the thickets; or the slim doe, daintily picking her way among the
heather, with her speckled fawns frolicking around her. Thrice happy,
if, as night was falling, cold and gray, the tinkling of some lonely
chapel bell might give him note where some true anchorite would share
his bed of fern, and meal of pulse and water, or jolly clerk of
Copmanhurst would broach the pipe of Malvoisie, bring pasties of the
doe, to greet the belated wayfarer.

Such was the period, such the region, when, on a glorious July
morning, so early that the sun had not yet risen high enough to throw
one sweeping yellow ray over the carpet of thick greensward between
the long aisles of the forest, or checker it with one cool
shadow--while the dew still hung in diamonds on every blade of grass,
on every leaf of bush or brackens; while the light blue mists were
still rising, thinner and thinner as they soared into the clear air,
from many a woodland pool or sleepy streamlet--two men, of the ancient
Saxon race, sat watching, as if with some eager expectation, on a low,
rounded, grassy slope, the outpost, as it seemed, of a chain of gentle
hills, running down eastward to the beautiful brimful Idle.

Around the knoll on which they sat, covered by the short mossy turf,
and over-canopied by a dozen oaks, such as they have been described,
most of them leafy and in their prime, but two or three showing above
their foliage the gray stag-horns of age, the river, clear as glass,
and bright as silver, swept in a semicircle, fringed with a belt of
deep green rushes and broad-leaved water-lilies, among which two or
three noble swans--so quietly sat the watchers on the hill--were
leading forth their little dark-gray black-legged cygnets, to feed on
the aquatic flies and insects, which dimpled the tranquil river like a
falling shower. Across the stream was thrown a two-arched freestone
bridge, high-backed and narrow, and half covered with dense ivy, the
work, evidently, of the Roman conquerors of the island, from which a
yellow, sandy road wound deviously upward, skirting the foot of the
rounded hill, and showing itself in two or three ascending curves, at
long intervals, above the tree-tops, till it was lost in the distant
forest; while, far away to the eastward, the topmost turret of what
seemed a tall Norman keep, with a square banner drooping from its
staff in the breezeless air, towering above the dim-wood distance,
indicated whither it led so indirectly.

In the rear of the slope or knoll, so often mentioned, was a deep
tangled dell, or dingle, filled with a thickset growth of holly,
birch, and alder, with here a feathery juniper, and there a graceful
fern bush; and behind this arose a higher ridge, clothed with tall,
thrifty oaks and beeches, of the second growth, and cutting off in
that direction all view beyond its own near horizon.

It was not in this direction, however, nor up the road toward the
remote castle, nor down across the bridge over the silver Idle, that
the watchers turned their eager eyes, expecting the more eagerly, as,
at times, the distant woods before them--lying beyond a long stretch
of native savanna, made probably by the beaver, while that industrious
animal yet figured in the British fauna--seemed to mourn and labor
with a deep, indefinite murmuring sound, half musical, half solemn,
but liker to an echo than to any known utterance of any living human
being. It was too varied for the noise of falling waters, too
modulated for the wind harp of the west, which was sighing fitfully
among the branches. Eagerly they watched, with a wild look of almost
painful expectation in their keen, light-blue eyes, resembling in no
respect the lively glance with which the jovial hunter awaits his
gallant quarry; there was something that spoke of apprehension in the
haggard eye--perhaps the fear of ill-performing an unwilling duty.

And if it were so, it was not unnatural; not at that day, alas!
uncommon; for dress, air, aspect, and demeanor, all told them at first
sight, to be of that most wretched, if not most abject class, the
Saxon serfs of England. They were both clad alike, in short, close-cut
frocks, or tunics, of tanned leather, gathered about their waists with
broad buff belts, fastened with brazen buckles, in each of which stuck
a long buckhorn-hafted two-edged Sheffield whittle; both were
bare-headed, both shod with heavy-clouted shoes, and both wore,
soldered about their necks, broad brazen dog-collars, having the brand
of their condition, with their own names and qualities, and that and
the condition of their master.

Here, however, ended the direct resemblance, even of their garb; for,
while the taller and better formed man of the two, who was also
somewhat the darker haired and finer featured, wore a species of rude
leather gauntlets, with buskins of the same material, reaching as high
as the binding of the frock, the other man was bare-armed and
bare-legged also, with the exception of an inartificial covering of
thongs of boar-hide, plaited from the ankle to the knee upward. The
latter also carried no weapon but a long quarter-staff, though he held
a brace of noble snow-white alans--the wire-haired grayhounds of the
day--in a leash of twisted buckskin; while his brother--for so strong
was their personal resemblance, that their kinship could scarcely be
doubted--carried a short, steel-headed javelin in his hand, and had
beside him, unrestrained, a large coarser hound, of a deep brindled
gray color, with clear, hazel eyes; and what was strange to say, in
view of the condition of this man, unmaimed, according to the cruel
forest code of the Norman kings.

This difference in the apparel, and, it may be added, in the neatness,
well-being, and general superior bearing of him who was the better
armed, might perhaps be explained by a glance at the engraving on the
respective collars. For while that of the one, and he the better clad
and better looking, bore that he was "Kenric the Dark, thral of the
land to Philip de Morville," that of the other stamped him "Eadwulf
the Red, gros thral" of the same Norman lord.

Both Saxon serfs of the mixed Northern race, which, largely intermixed
with Danish blood, produced a nobler, larger-limbed, loftier, and more
athletic race than the pure Saxons of the southern counties--they had
fallen, with the properties of the Saxon thane, to whom they had
belonged in common, into the hands of the foreign conqueror. Yet
Kenric was of that higher class--for there were classes even among
these miserable beings--which could not be sold, nor parted from the
soil on which they were born, but at their own option; while Eadwulf,
although his own twin-brother, for some cause into which it were
needless to inquire, could be sold at any time, or to any person, or
even swapped for an animal, or gambled away at the slightest caprice
of his owner.

To this may be added, that, probably from caprice, or perhaps from
some predilection for his personal appearance and motions, which were
commanding, and even graceful, or for his bearing, which was evidently
less churlish than that of his countrymen in general, his master had
distinguished him in some respects from the other serfs of the soil;
and, without actually raising him to any of the higher offices
reserved to the Normans, among whom the very servitors claimed to be,
and indeed were, gentlemen, had employed him in subordinate stations
under his huntsman, and intrusted him so far as occasionally to permit
his carrying arms into the field.

With him, as probably is the case in most things, the action produced
reaction; and what had been the effect of causes, came in time to be
the cause of effects. Some real or supposed advantages procured for
him the exceeding small dignity of some poor half-conceded rights; and
those rights, the effect of perhaps an imaginary superiority, soon
became the causes of something more real--of a sentiment of half
independence, a desire of achieving perfect liberty.

In this it was that he excelled his brother; but we must not
anticipate. What were the characters of the men, and from their
characters what events grew, and what fates followed, it is for the
reader of these pages to decipher.

After our men had tarried where we found them, waiting till
expectation should grow into certainty for above half an hour, and the
morning had become clear and sunny, the distant indescribable sound,
heard indistinctly in the woods, ripened into that singularly
modulated, all sweet, but half-discordant crash, which the practiced
ear is not slow to recognize as the cry of a large pack of hounds,
running hard on a hot scent in high timber.

Anon the notes of individual hounds could be distinguished; now the
sharp, savage treble of some fleet brach, now the deep bass of some
southron talbot, rising above or falling far below the diapason of the
pack--and now, shrill and clear, the long, keen flourish of a Norman

At the last signal, Kenric rose silently but quickly to his feet,
while his dog, though evidently excited by the approaching rally of
the chase, remained steady at his couchant position, expectant of his
master's words. The snow-white alans, on the contrary, fretted, and
strained, and whimpered, fighting against their leashes, while Eadwulf
sat still, stubborn or stupid, and animated by no ambition, by no
hope, perhaps scarce even by a fear.

But, as the chase drew nigher, "Up, Eadwulf!" cried his brother,
quickly, "up, and away. Thou'lt have to stretch thy legs, even now, to
reach the four lane ends, where the relays must be, when the stag
crosses. Up, man, I say! Is this the newer spirit you spoke of but
now? this the way you would earn largess whereby to win your freedom?
Out upon it! that I should say so of my own brother, but thou'lt win
nothing but the shackles, if not the thong. Away! lest my words prove

Eadwulf the Red arose with a scowl, but without a word, shook himself
like a water-spaniel, and set off at a dogged swinging trot, the
beautiful high-bred dogs bounding before his steps like winged
creatures, and struggling with the leashes that debarred their perfect
freedom--the man degraded, by the consciousness of misery and
servitude, into the type of a soulless brute--the brutes elevated, by
high breeding, high cultivation, and high treatment, almost into the
similitude of intellectual beings.

Kenric looked after him, as he departed, with a troubled eye, and
shook his head, as he lost sight of him among the trees in the
fore-ground. "Alack!" he said, "for Eadwulf, my brother! He waxes
worse, not better." But, as he spoke, a nearer crash of the hounds'
music came pealing through the tree-tops, and with a stealthy step he
crossed over the summit to the rear of the hillock, where he concealed
himself behind the boll of a stupendous oak, making his grayhound lie
down in tall fern beside him.

The approaching hounds came to a sudden fault, and silence, deep as
that of haunted midnight, fell on the solitary place.



    "'Tis merry, 'tis merry, in good green wood,
      When mavis and merle are singing;
    When the deer sweeps by, and the hounds are in cry,
      And the hunter's horn is ringing."


There is something exceedingly singular in the depth of almost
palpable silence which seems to fall upon a tract of woodland country,
on the sudden cessation of a full cry of stag-hounds; which cry has in
itself, apart from its stirring harmony of discords, something of
cheerfulness and sociality, conveyed by its sound, even to the lonely

Although, during that hush of the woods, the carol of the birds, the
hum of insects, the breezy voice of the tree-tops, the cooing of the
ringdove, the murmur of falling waters, and all the undistinguished
harmonies of nature, unheard before, and drowned in that loud
brattling, sound forth and fill the listener's ear, yet they disturb
it not, nor seem to dissipate, but rather to augment, the influence of
the silence.

Kenric had not the educated sentiments which lead the most highly
civilized of men to sympathize most deeply with the beautiful sounds
and sights of nature. Yet still, as is mostly the case with dwellers
in the forest or on the wild mountain tops, he had a certain untutored
eye to take in and note effects--an unlearned ear with which to
receive pleasant sounds, and acquire a fuller pleasure from them than
he could perfectly comprehend or explain to his own senses. And now,
when the tumult of the chase had fallen asleep, he leaned against the
gnarled and mossy trunk, with his boar-spear resting listlessly
against his thigh, and a quiet, meditative expression replacing on his
grave, stern features the earnest and excited gaze, with which he had
watched the approach of the hunt.

The check, however, lasted not long; the clear, shrill challenge of a
favorite hound soon rose from the woodlands, accompanied by loud
cheers, "Taró, Taró, tantáro!" and followed by the full crash of the
reassembled pack, as they rallied to their leader, and struck again on
the hot and steaming scent.

Nearer and nearer came the cry, and ever and anon uprose, distant and
mellow, the cadenced nourishes of the clear French horns, giving new
life to the trackers of the deer, and filling the hearts of the riders
with almost mad excitement. Ere long, several cushats might be seen
wheeling above the tree-tops, disturbed from their procreant cradles
by the progress of the fierce din below them. A moment afterward,
dislodged from their feeding-grounds along the boggy margin of the
Idle, a dozen woodcock flapped up from the alder-bushes near the
brink, and came drifting along before the soft wind, on their feebly
whistling pinions, and, fluttering over the head of the watcher,
dropped into the shelter of the dingle in his rear, with its thick
shade of varnished hollies. The next instant, a superb red deer, with
high branching antlers, leaped with a mighty spring over and partly
through the crashing branches of the thicket, and swept with long,
graceful bounds across the clear savanna. A single shout, "Tayho!"
announced the appearance of the quarry in the open, and awakened a
responsive clangor of the horns, which, all at once, sounded their gay
tantivy, while the sharp, redoubled clang of the whips, and the cries
of "arriere! arriere!" which succeeded, told Kenric that the varlets
and attendants of the chase were busy stopping the slow hounds, whose
duty was accomplished so soon as the stag was forced into the field;
and which were now to be replaced by the fleet and fiery alans, used
to course and pull down the quarry by dint of downright strength and

The stretch of green savanna, of which I have spoken as running along
the northern margin of the Idle, below the wooded ridges of the lower
hills, could not have been less than four miles in length, and was
traversed by two sandy paths, unguarded by any fence or hedge-row,
which intersected each other within a few hundred yards of the belt of
underwood, whence the hunted deer had broken covert. At this point of
intersection, known as the Four-Lane-Ends, a general term in Yorkshire
for such cross-roads, stood a gigantic oak, short-boughed, but of vast
diameter, with gnarled and tortuous branches sweeping down almost to
the rank greensward which surrounded it, and concealing any person who
stood within their circumference, as completely as if he were within
an artificial pavilion.

That way, winged by terror, bounded the beautiful hart royal; for no
less did his ten-tined antlers, with their huge cupped tops denote
him; and, though it presented no real obstacle to his passage, when he
saw the yellow road, winding like a rivulet through the deep grass, he
gathered all his feet together, made four or five quick, short
buck-leaps, and then, soaring into the air like a bird taking wing,
swept over it, and alighted ten feet on the hither side, apparently
without an effort--a miracle of mingled grace, activity, and beauty.

As he alighted, he paused a moment, turned his long, swan-like neck,
and gazed backward for a few seconds with his large, lustrous,
melancholy eyes, until, seeing no pursuers, nor hearing any longer the
crash which had aroused him from his harbor, he tossed his antlers
proudly, and sailed easily and leisurely across the gentle green.

But at this moment, Eadwulf the Red, who was stationed beneath that
very oak-tree with the first relay of grayhounds, uttered a long,
shrill whoop, and casting loose the leashes, slipped the two
snow-white alans on the quarry. The whoop was answered immediately,
and, at about half a mile's distance from the spot where the deer had
issued, two princely-looking Norman nobles, clearly distinguishable as
such by their richly-furred short hunting-coats, tight hose, and
golden spurs of knighthood, came into sight, spurring their noble
Andalusian coursers--at that period the fleetest strain in the world,
which combined high blood with the capacity to endure the weight of a
man-at-arms in his full panoply--to their fullest speed; and followed
by a long train of attendants--some mounted, some on foot, huntsmen
and verdurers, and yeomen prickers, with falconers, and running
footmen, some leading alans in the leash, and some with nets and
spears for the chase of the wild boar, which still roamed not
unfrequent in the woody swamps that intersected the lower grounds and
lined many of the river beds of Sherwood.

It was a gay and stirring scene. The meadow, late so quiet in its
uniform green garniture, was now alive with fluttering plumes, and
glittering with many-colored scarfs and cassocks, noble steeds of all
hues, blood-bay and golden chestnut, dappled and roan, and gleamy
blacks, and one, on which rode the foremost of the noble Normans,
white as December's snow; and in the middle of the picture, aroused by
the shouts in his rear, and aware of the presence of his fresh
pursuers, the superb stag, with his neck far stretched out, and his
grand antlers pressed close along his back, straining every nerve, and
literally seeming to fly over the level sward; while the snow-white
alans, with their fierce black eyes glowing like coals of fire, and
their blood-red tongues lolling from their open jaws, breathless and
mute, but stanch as vindictive fiends, hung hard upon his traces.

At first, the hunted stag laid his course upward, diagonally, aiming
for the forest land on the hillside; and although, at first, he had
scarce thirty yards of law, and was, moreover, so nearly matched in
speed by his relentless enemies, that, for many hundred yards, he
neither gained nor lost a yard's distance, still he gradually gathered
way, as yards fell into furlongs, furlongs into miles, and drew ahead
slowly, but surely, until it appeared almost certain that he must soon
gain the shelter of the tall timber, where the keen eyes of the alans,
impotent of scent, would be worthless in pursuit, and where he must
again be dislodged by slow hounds, or the chase abandoned.

Just as he was within fifty yards, however, of the desired covert's
edge, Sir Philip de Morville--for he it was who rode the
foremost--raised his bugle to his lips, and sounded it long and
shrill, in a most peculiar strain, to which a whoop responded, almost
from the point for which the stag was making, and, at the same time, a
second brace of alans--one a jet black, and the other a deep-brindled
fawn color--darted out, and flew down the gentle slope, right at the
head of the yet unwearied quarry.

Springing high into air, he instantly made a perfect demivolte, with
an angry toss of his antlers, and shot, with redoubled efforts in the
contrary direction, cutting across the very noses of his original
pursuers, which, when they had turned likewise, were brought within
fifty yards of his haunches, and away like an arrow toward the bridge
across the Idle. From this moment, the excitement of the spectacle was
redoubled; nor could any one, even the coldest of spectators, have
looked on without feeling the blood course, like molten lava, through
his veins.

It was no longer a stern chase, where the direct speed only of the
rival and hostile animals was brought into play; for, as the stag
turned to the left about, the black and brindled alans, which had been
started at his head, were thrown by the movement some thirty yards
wide on his right quarter; while the white dogs, who had pursued him
so savagely from the beginning, were brought to a position nearly
equidistant on his left flank.

Henceforth it was a course of fleet bounds, short turns, and windings
of wonderful agility; and at this instant a new spectator, or
spectatress rather, was added to the scene.

This was a young girl of some sixteen or seventeen years, at the
utmost, beautifully formed, and full of easy grace and symmetry, who
came careering down the road, from the direction of the castle, as
fast as the flying bounds of a beautiful red roan Arab--with mane and
tail of silver, scarcely larger or less fleet than the deer in the
plain below--could carry her.

Her face and features were not less beautiful than her form; the
latter would have been perfectly Grecian and classical but for the
slightest possible upward turn in the delicate thin nose, which
imparted an arch, half-saucy meaning to her rich, laughing face. Her
eyes were clear, bright blue, with long, dark lashes, a pure
complexion, ripe, crimson lips, and a flood of dark auburn tresses,
which had escaped from the confinement of her purple velvet bonnet,
and flowed on the light breeze in a flood of glittering ringlets,
completed her attractions.

Her garb was the rich attire peculiar to her age, rank, and the period
of which we write--the most picturesque, perhaps, and appropriate to
set off the perfections of a female figure of rare symmetry, that ever
has been invented. A closely-fitting jacket, following every curve and
sinuous line of her beauteous shape, of rich green velvet, furred
deeply at the cape and cuffs with white swansdown, and bordered at the
hips by a broad band of the same pure garniture; loose-flowing skirts,
of heavy sendal of the same hue, a crimson velvet shoulder-belt
supporting a richly-embroidered hawking-pouch, a floating plume of
white ostrich feathers, and a crimson-hooded merlin on her wrist, with
golden bells and jesses, completed her person's adornment; and
combined, with the superb housings and velvet headstall of her
exquisite palfrey, to form a charming picture.

So rapidly did she ride, that a single page--a boy of ten or twelve
years, who followed her--spurring with all his might, could scarcely
keep her in sight; and, as she careered down toward the bridge, which
she had almost reached, was lost to view in the valley immediately
behind the ridge, the southern slope of which she was descending.

The stag, by this time, which had been aiming hitherto to cross the
road on which she was galloping, had been turned several times by the
fresh relay of alans, which were untired and unimpaired of speed, and
had been thus edged gradually away from the road and bridge, toward
the white dogs, which were now running, as it is technically termed,
_cunning_, laying up straight ahead, on a parallel line, and
almost abreast with the deer. Now they drew forward, shot ahead, and
passed him. At once, seeing his peril, he wheeled on his haunches,
and, with a desperate last effort, headed once more for the road,
striving, for life! for life! to cut across the right-hand couple of
deer grayhounds; but, fleet as he was, fleeter now did they show
themselves, and once more he was forced to turn, only to find the
white dogs directly in his path.

One, the taller and swifter of the two, was a few yards in advance of
the other, and, as the stag turned full into his foaming jaws, sprang
at its throat with a wild yell. But the deer bounded too, and bounded
higher than the dog, and, as they met in mid air, its keen,
sharp-pointed hoofs struck the brave staghound in the chest, and
hurled him to the ground stunned, if not lifeless. Four strides more,
and he swept like a swallow over a narrow reach of the little river;
and then, having once more brought the three surviving hounds directly
astern, turned to the westward along the river shore, and cantering
away lightly, no longer so hard pressed, seemed likely to make his
escape toward a broad belt of forest, which lay some mile and a half
that way, free from ambuscade or hidden peril.

At this turn of the chase, fiercer was the excitement, and wilder
waxed the shouting and the bugle blasts of the discomfited followers
of the chase, none of whom were nearer to the bridge than a full half
mile. But so animated was the beautiful young lady, whose face had
flushed crimson, and then turned ashy pale, with the sudden excitement
of that bold exploit of dog and deer, that she clapped her hands
joyously together, unhooding and casting loose her merlin, though
without intention, in the act, and crying, gayly, "Well run, brave
Hercules! well leaped, brave Hart o' Grease;" and, as she saw the
hunters scattered over the wide field, none so near to the sport as
she, she flung her arm aloft, and with her pretty girlish voice set up
a musical whoop of defiance.

Now, at the very moment when the deer's escape seemed almost more than
certain--as often is the case in human affairs, no less than
cervine--"a new foe in the field" changed the whole aspect of the
case. The great brindled gray deerhound, which had lain thus far
peaceful by Kenric's side, seeing what had passed, sprang out of the
fern, unbidden, swam across the Idle in a dozen strokes, and once more
headed the hunted deer.

The young girl was now within six horses' length of the bridge, when
the deer, closely pursued by its original assailants, and finding
itself now intercepted by Kenric's dog "Kilbuck" in front, turned once
again in the only direction now left it, and wheeled across the bridge
at full speed, black with sweat, flecked with white foam-flakes, its
tongue hanging from its swollen jaws, its bloodshot eyeballs almost
starting from its head, mad with terror and despair. All at once, the
Arab horse and the gorgeous trappings of the rider glanced across its
line of vision; fire seemed, to the affrighted girl, to flash from its
glaring eyes, as it lowered its mighty antlers, and charged with a
fierce, angry bray.

Pale as death, the gallant girl yet retained her courage and her
faculties; she pulled so sharply on her left rein, striking the
palfrey on the shoulder with her riding-rod, that he wheeled short on
his haunches, and presented his right flank to the infuriated deer,
protecting his fair rider by the interposition of his body.

No help was nigh, though the Norman nobles saw her peril, and spurred
madly to the rescue; though Kenric started from his lair with a
portentous whoop, and, poising his boar spear, rushed down, in the
hope to turn the onset to himself. But it was too late; and, strong as
was his hand, and his eyes steady, he dared not to hurl such a weapon
as that he held, in such proximity to her he would defend.

With an appalling sound, a soft, dead, crushing thrust, the terrible
brow antlers were plunged into the defenseless flanks of the poor
palfrey; which hung, for a second on the cruel prongs, and then, with
a long, shivering scream, rolled over on its side, with collapsed
limbs, and, after a few convulsive struggles, lay dead, with the
lovely form of its mistress rolled under it, pale, motionless, with
the long golden hair disordered in the dust, and the blue eyes closed,
stunned, cold, and spiritless, at least, if not lifeless.

Attracted by the gay shoulder-belt of the poor girl, again the savage
beast stooped to gore; but a strong hand was on his antler, and a keen
knife-point buried in his breast. Sore stricken he was, yet, not
slain; and, rearing erect on his hind legs, he dealt such a storm of
blows from his sharp hoofs, each cutting almost like a knife, about
the head and shoulders of his dauntless antagonist, as soon hurled
him, in no better condition than she, beside the lady he had risked so
much to rescue.

Then the dogs closed and seized him, and savage and appalling was the
strife of the fierce brutes, with long-drawn, choking sighs, and
throttling yells, as they raved, and tore, and stamped, and battled,
over the prostrate group.

It was a fearful sight that met the eyes of the first comer. He was
the Norman who had ridden second in the chase, but now, having
outstripped his friendly rival in the neck-or-nothing skurry that
succeeded, thundered the first into the road, where the dogs were now
mangling the slaughtered stag, and besmearing the pale face of the
senseless girl with blood and bestial foam.

To spring from his saddle and drop on his knees beside her, was but a
moment's work.

"My child! my child! they have slaughtered thee. Woe! woe!"



    "'Twere better to die free, than live a slave."


It was fortunate, for all concerned, that no long time elapsed before
more efficient aid came on the ground, than the gentleman who first
reached the spot, and who, although a member of that dauntless
chivalry, trained from their cradles to endure hardship, to despise
danger, and to look death steadfastly and unmoved in the face, was so
utterly paralyzed by what he deemed, not unnaturally, the death of his
darling, that he made no effort to relieve her from the weight of the
slaughtered animal, though it rested partially on her lower limbs, and
on one arm, which lay extended, nevertheless, as it had fallen, in the
dust. But up came, in an instant, Philip de Morville, on his superb,
snow-white Andalusian, a Norman baron to the life--tall, powerful,
thin-flanked, deep-chested, with the high aquiline features and dark
chestnut hair of his race, nor less with its dauntless valor, grave
courtesy, and heart as impassive to fear or tenderness or pity, as his
own steel hauberk. Up came esquires and pages, foresters and grooms,
and springing tumultuously to the ground, under the short, prompt
orders of their lord, raised the dead palfrey bodily up, while Sir
Philip drew the fair girl gently from under it, and raising her in his
arms more tenderly than he had ever been known to entreat any thing,
unless it were his favorite falcon, laid her on the short, soft
greensward, under the shadow of one of the huge, broad-headed oaks by
the wayside.

"Cheer thee, my noble lord and brother," he exclaimed, "the Lady
Guendolen is not dead, nor like to die this time. 'Tis only fear, and
perchance her fall, for it was a heavy one, that hath made her faint.
Bustle, knaves, bustle. Bring water from the spring yonder. Has no one
a leathern bottiau? You, Damian, gallop, as if you would win your
spurs of gold by riding, to the sumpter mule with the panniers. It
should be at the palmer's spring by this time; for, hark, the bells
from the gray brothers' chapel, in the valley by the river, are
chiming for the noontide service. Bring wine and essences, electuaries
and ambergris, if the refectioner have any with him. You, Raoul," he
continued, addressing a sturdy, grim-featured old verdurer, who was
hanging over the still senseless girl with an expression of solicitude
hardly natural to his rugged and scar-seamed countenance, "take a led
horse, and hie thee to the abbey; tell the good prior what hath
befallen, and pray the brother mediciner he will ride this way, as
speedily as he may; and you," turning to the old, white-haired
seneschal, "send up some of the varlets to the castle, for the
horse-litter; she may not ride home this day."

In the mean time, while he was accumulating order on order, while
pages and horse-boys, grooms and esquires, were galloping off, in
different directions, as if with spurs of fire, and while the barons
themselves were awkwardly endeavoring to perform those ministrations
for the fair young creature, which they were much more used themselves
to receive at the hands of the softer sex, who were in those rude days
often the chirurgeons and leeches, as well as the comforters and
soothers of the bed of pain and sickness, than to do such offices for
others, the bold defender of Guendolen--Kenric the dark-haired--lay in
his blood, stark and cold, deemed dead, and quite forgotten, even by
the lowest of the Norman varletry, who held themselves too noble to
waste services upon a Saxon, much more upon a thral and bondsman.

They--such of them, that is to say, as were not needed in direct
attendance on the persons of the nobles, or as had not been dispatched
in search of aid--applied themselves, with characteristic zeal and
eagerness, to tend and succor the nobler animals, as they held them,
of the chase; while they abandoned their brother man and
fellow-countryman, military Levites as they were, to his chances of
life or death, without so much as even caring to ask or examine
whether he were numbered with the living or the dead.

The palfrey was first seen to, and pronounced dead; when his rich
housings were stripped off carefully, and cleaned as well as time and
place permitted; when the carcass was dragged off the road, and
concealed, for the moment, with fern leaves and boughs lopped from the
neighboring bushes, while something was said among the stable boys of
sending out some of the "dog Saxon serfs" to bury him on the morrow.

The deer was then dragged roughly whence it lay, across the breast of
Kenric, in whose left shoulder one of its terrible brow antlers had
made a deep gash, while his right arm was badly shattered by a blow of
its sharp hoofs. So careless were the men of inflicting pain on the
living, or dishonor on the dead, that one of them, in removing the
quarry, set his booted foot square on the Saxon's chest, and forced,
by the joint effect of the pressure and the pain, a stifled, choking
sound, half involuntary, half a groan, from the pale lips of the
motionless sufferer. With a curse, and a slight, contemptuous kick,
the Norman groom turned away, with his antlered burthen, muttering a
ribald jest on "the death-grunt of the Saxon boar;" and drawing his
keen wood-knife, was soon deep in the mysteries of the _cureé_,
and deeper yet in blood and grease, prating of "nombles, briskets,
flankards, and raven-bones," then the usual terms of the art of
hunting, or butchery, whichever the reader chooses to call it, which
are now probably antiquated. The head was cabbaged, as it was called,
and, with the entrails, given as a reward to the fierce hounds, which
glared with ravenous eyes on the gory carcass. Even its peculiar
morsel was chucked to the attendant raven, the black bird of St.
Hubert, which--free from any apprehension of the gentle hunters, who
affected to treat him with respectful and reverential awe--sat on the
stag-horned peak of an aged oak-tree, awaiting his accustomed portion,
with an observant eye and an occasional croak. By-and-by, when the
sumpter mule came up, with kegs of ale and bottiaus of mead and
hypocras, and wine of Gascony and Anjou, before even the riders'
throats were slaked by the generous liquor, the bridle-bits and
cavessons, nose-bags and martingales of the coursers were removed, and
liberal drenches were bestowed on them, partly in guerdon of past
services, partly in order to renew their strength and stimulate their
valiant ardor.

Long ere this, however, fanned by two or three pages with fans of fern
wreaths, and sprinkled with cold spring-water by the hands of her
solicitous kinsman, the young girl had given symptoms of returning
life, and a brighter expression returned to the dark, melancholy
visage of her father.

Two or three long, faint, fluttering sighs came from her parted lips;
and then, regular, though low and feeble, her breathing made itself
heard, and her girlish bosom rose and fell responsive.

Her father, who had been chafing her hands assiduously, pressed one of
them caressingly, at this show of returning animation, and raised it
to his lips; when, awakening at the accustomed tenderness, her languid
eyes opened, a faint light of intelligence shone forth from them, a
pale glow of hectic color played over her face, and a smile glittered
for a second on her quivering lips.

"Dear father," she whispered, faintly; but, the next moment, an
expression of fear was visible in all her features, and a palpable
shiver shook all her frame. "The stag!" she murmured; "the stag! save
me, save"--and before the word, uttered simultaneously by the two
lords--"He is dead, dear one," "He will harm no one any more"--had
reached her ears, she again relapsed into insensibility, while with
equal care, but renewed hope, they tended and caressed her.

But Kenric no one tended, no one caressed, save, "faithful still,
where all were faithless found," the brindled staghound, "Kilbuck,"
who licked his face assiduously, with his grim, gory tongue and lips,
and besmearing his face with blood and foam, rendered his aspect yet
more terrible and death-like.

But now the returning messengers began to ride in, fast and frequent;
first, old Raoul, the huntsman, surest, although not fleetest, and
with him, shaking in his saddle, between the sense of peril and the
perplexity occasioned him by the high, hard trot of the Norman
war-horse pressed into such unwonted service, "like a boar's head in
aspick jelly," the brother mediciner from the neighboring convent,
with his wallet of simples and instruments of chirurgery.

By his advice, the plentiful application of cold water, with essences
and stimulants in abundance, a generous draught of rich wine of
Burgundy, and, when animation seemed thoroughly revived, the gentle
breathing of a vein, soon restored the young lady to her perfect
senses and complete self-possession, though she was sorely bruised,
and so severely shaken that it was enjoined on her to remain perfectly
quiet, where she lay, with a Lincoln-green furred hunting-cloak around
her, until the arrival of the litter should furnish means of return to
the castle of her father's host and kinsman.

And, in good season, down the hill, slowly and toilsomely came the
horse-litter, poor substitute for a wheeled vehicle; but even thus the
best, if not only, conveyance yet adopted for the transport of the
wounded, the feeble, or the luxurious, and, as such, used only by the
wealthy and the noble.

With the litter came three or four women; one or two, Norman maidens,
the immediate attendants of the Lady Guendolen, and the others, Saxon
slave girls of the household of Sir Philip de Morville, who hurried
down, eager to gain favor by show of zealous duty, or actuated by
woman's feelings for woman's suffering, even in different grades and

The foremost of them all, bounding along with all the wild agility and
free natural gracefulness of wood-nymph or bacchante, was a girl of
seventeen or eighteen, not above the middle height of her sex, but
plump as a partridge, with limbs exquisitely formed and rounded, a
profusion of flaxen tresses floating unrestrained on the air, large
dark-blue eyes, and a complexion all of milk and roses--the very type
of rural Saxon youth and beauty.

As she outstripped all the rest in speed, she was the first to tender
gentle service to the Lady Guendolen, who received her with a smile,
calling her "Edith the Fair," and thanking her for her ready aid.

But, ere long, as the courtlier maidens arrived on the ground, poor
Edith was set aside, as is too often the case with humble merit, while
the others lifted the lady into the horse-litter, covered her with
light and perfumed garlands, and soon had all ready for her departure.

But, in the mean time, Edith had turned a hasty glance around her; and
descrying the inanimate body of the Saxon serf, lying alone and
untended, moved by the gentle sympathy of woman for the humblest
unknown sufferer, she hastened to assist, if assistance were still
possible. But, as she recognized the limbs, stately, though cold and
still, and the features, still noble through gore and defilement, a
swift horror smote her, that she shook like a leaf, and fell, with a
wild, thrilling shriek, "O, Kenric, Kenric!" on the body of the
wounded man.

"Ha! what is this?" cried Sir Philip, who now first saw or remembered
what had passed. "How is this? Knaves, is there a man hurt here?"

"A Saxon churl, Beausire," replied one of the pages, flippantly, "who
has gotten his brisket unseamed by his brother Saxon yonder!" and he
pointed to the dead carcass of the stag.

"Our lady save us," murmured the gentle Guendolen, who seemed about to
relapse into insensibility; "he saved my life, and have ye let him

"Now, by the splendor of our lady's eyes!" cried Yvo de Taillebois,
the father of the fair young lady, "this is the gallant lad we saw
afar, in such bold hand-to-hand encounter with yon mad brute. We have
been ingrately, shamefully remiss. This must be amended, Philip de

"It shall, it shall, my noble friend," cried Philip; "and ye, dogs,
that have let the man perish untended thus, for doing of his devoir
better than all the best of ye, bestir yourselves. If the man die, as
it seems like enow, ye shall learn ere ye are one day older, what
pleasant bed-rooms are the vaults of Waltheofstow, and how tastes the
water of the moat."

Meantime the monk trotted up, and, after brief examination, announced
that, though badly hurt, his life was in no immediate peril, and set
himself at once to comfort and revive him.

"He is not slain; he will not die, my child," said Sir Yvo, softly,
bending over the litter to his pale lily, who smiled faintly as she
whispered in reply--

"Dear father, nor be a slave any longer?"

"Not if I may redeem him," he answered; "but I will speak with Sir
Philip at once. Meanwhile be tranquil, and let them convey you
homeward. Forward, there, with the litter--gently, forward!"

And, therewith, he turned and spoke eagerly to De Morville, who
listened with a grave brow, and answered;

"If it may be, my noble friend and brother. If it may be. But there
are difficulties. Natheless, on my life, I desire to pleasure you."

"Nay! it comports not with our name or station, that the noble
Guendolen de Taillebois should owe life to a collared thral--a mere
brute animal. My lord, your word on it! He must be _free_, since
Yvo de Taillebois is his debtor."

"My word _is_ pledged on it," replied De Morville. "If it can be
at all, it _shall_ be. Nay, look not so black on it. It shall be.
We will speak farther of it at the castle! And now, lo! how he opes
his eyes and stares. He will be right, anon; and ye, knaves, bear him
to the castle, when the good brother bids ye, and gently, if ye would
escape a reckoning with me. And now, good friends, to horse! to horse!
The litter is half-way to the castle gates already. To horse! to
horse! and God send us no more such sorry huntings."



            "Oh! it is excellent
    To have a giant's strength, but tyrannous
    To use it like a giant."


High up in a green, gentle valley, a lap among the hills, which,
though not very lofty, were steep and abrupt with limestone crags and
ledges, heaving themselves above the soil on their upper slopes and
summits, perched on a small isolated knoll, or hillock, so regular in
form, and so evenly scarped and rounded, that it bore the appearance
of an artificial work, stood the tall Norman fortalice of Philip de

It was not a very large building, consisting principally of a single
lofty square keep, with four lozenge-shaped turrets at the angles,
attached to the body of the place, merlonwise, as it is termed in
heraldry, or corner to corner, rising some twenty feet or more above
the flat roof of the tower, which was surrounded with heavy projecting
battlements widely overhanging the base, and pierced with crenelles
for archery, and deep machicolations, by which to pour down boiling
oil, or molten lead, upon any who should attempt the walls.

In the upper stories only, of this strong place, were there any
windows, such as deserved the name, beyond mere loops and arrowslits;
but there, far above the reach of any scaling-ladder, they looked out,
tall and shapely, glimmering in the summer sunshine, in the rich and
gorgeous hues of the stained glass--at that time the most recent and
costly of foreign luxuries, opening on a projecting gallery, or
bartizan, of curiously-carved stonework, which ran round all the four
sides of the building, and rendered the dwelling apartments of the
castellan and his family both lightsome and commodious. One of the
tall turrets, which have been described, contained the winding
staircase, which gave access to the halls and guard-rooms which
occupied all the lower floors, and to the battlements above, while
each of the others contained sleeping-chambers of narrow dimensions,
on each story, opening into the larger apartments.

This keep, with the exception of the tall battlemented flanking walls,
with their esplanades and turrets, and advanced barbican or
gate-house, was the only genuine Norman portion of the castle, and
occupied the very summit of the knoll; but below it, and for the most
part concealed and covered by the ramparts on which it abutted, was a
long, low, roomy stone building, which had been in old times the
mansion of the Saxon thane, who had occupied the rich and fertile
lands of that upland vale, in the happy days before the advent of the
fierce and daring Normans, to whom he had lost both life and lands,
and left an empty name alone to the inheritance, which was not to
descend to any of his race or lineage.

Below the walls, which encircled the hillock about midway between the
base and summit, except at one spot, where the gate-house was thrust
forward to the brink of a large and rapid brook, which had been made
by artificial means completely to encircle the little hill, the slopes
were entirely bare of trees or underwood, every thing that could
possibly cover the advances of an enemy being carefully cut down or
uprooted, and were clothed only by a dense carpet of short, thick
greensward, broidered with daisies pied, and silver lady's smocks; but
beyond the rivulet, covering all the bottom of the valley with rich
and verdant shade, were pleasant orchards and coppices, among which
peeped out the thatched roofs and mud walls of the little village,
inhabited by the few free laborers, and the more numerous thralls and
land-serfs, who cultivated the demesnes of the foreign noble, who
possessed them by right of the sword.

Through this pleasant little hamlet, the yellow road, which led up to
the castle, wound devious, passing in its course by an open green, on
which half a dozen sheep and two or three asses were feeding on the
short herbage, with a small Saxon chapel, distinguished by its low,
round, wolf-toothed arch and belfry, on the farther side; and, in
singular proximity to the sacred edifice, a small space, inclosed by a
palisade, containing a gallows, a whipping-post, and a pair of
stocks--sad monuments of Saxon slavery, and Norman tyranny and wrong.

In one of the upper chambers of the feudal keep, a small square room,
with a vaulted roof, springing from four clustered columns in the
corners, with four groined ribs, meeting in the middle, from which
descended a long, curiously-carved pendant of stone, terminating in a
gilt iron candelabrum of several branches, two men were seated at a
board, on which, though the solid viands of the mid-day meal had been
removed, there were displayed several silver dishes, with wastel
bread, dried fruits, and light confections, as well as two or three
tall, graceful flasks of the light fragrant wines of Gascony and
Anjou, and several cups and tankards of richly-chased and gilded
metal, intermixed with several large-bowled and thin-stemmed goblets
of purple and ruby-colored glass.

The room was a very pleasant one, lighted by two tall windows, on two
different sides, which stood wide open, admitting the soft, balmy,
summer air, and the fresh smell of the neighboring greenwoods, the
breezy voice of which came gently in, whispering through the casement.
The walls were hung with tapestries of embossed and gilded Spanish
leather, adorned with spirited figures of Arab skirmishers and
Christian chivalry, engaged in the stirring game of warfare; while, no
unfit decoration for a wall so covered, two or three fine suits of
chain and plate armor, burnished so brightly that they shone like
silver, with their emblazoned shields and appropriate weapons, stood,
like armed knights on constant duty, in canopied niches, framed
especially to receive them.

Varlets, pages, and attendants, had all withdrawn; and the two Norman
barons sat alone, sipping their wine in silence, and apparently
reflecting on some subject which they found it difficult to approach
without offense or embarrassment. At last, the younger of the two, Sir
Philip de Morville, after drawing his open hand across his fair, broad
forehead, as if he would have swept away some cloud which gloomed over
his mind, and drinking off a deep goblet of wine, opened the
conversation with evident confusion and reluctance.

"Well, well," he said, "it must out, Sir Yvo, and though it is not
very grateful to speak of such things, I must needs do so, lest I
appear to you uncourtly and ungracious, in hesitating to do to you,
mine own most tried and trusty friend, to whom I owe no less than my
own life, so small a favor as the granting liberty to one poor devil
of a Saxon. I told you I would do it, if I might; yet, by my father's
soul, I know not how to do it!"

"Where is the rub, my friend?" replied the other, kindly. "I doubt
not, if we put both our heads together, we can accomplish even a
greater thing than making a free English yeoman of a Saxon thrall."

"I never was rich, as you well know, De Taillebois; but at the time of
the king's late incursion into Wales, when I was summoned to lead out
my power, I had no choice but to mortgage this my fortalice, with its
demesne of Waltheofstow, and all its plenishing and stock, castle and
thralls, and crops and fisheries, to Abraham of Tadcaster, for
nineteen thousand zecchins, to buy their outfitting, horses, and
armor; and this prohibits me from manumitting this man, Kenric,
although I would do so right willingly, not for that it would pleasure
you only, but that he is a faithful and an honest fellow for a thrall,
and right handy, both with arbalast and longbow. I know not well how
to accomplish it."

"Easily, easily, Philip," answered Sir Yvo, laughing. "Never shall it
be said that nineteen thousand zecchins stood between Yvo de
Taillebois and his gratitude; besides, this will shoot double game
with a single arrow. It will relieve our trusty Kenric from the actual
bondage of a corporeal lord and master, and liberate my right good
friend and brother in arms, Philip de Morville, from the more galling
spiritual bondage of that foul tyrant and perilous oppressor, debt.
Tush! no denial, I say," he continued, perceiving that Sir Philip was
about to make some demur; "it is a mere trifle, this, and a matter of
no moment. I am, as you well know, passing rich, what with my rents in
Westmoreland, and my estates beyond the sea. I have even now well-nigh
twice the sum that you name, lying idle in my bailiff's hands at
Kendall, until I may find lands to purchase. It was my intent to have
bought those border lands of Clifford's, that march with my moorlands
on Hawkshead, but it seems he will not sell, and I am doubly glad that
it gives me the occasion to serve you. I will direct my bailiff at
once to take horse for Tadcaster and redeem your mortgage, and you can
take your own time and pleasure to repay it. There is no risk, Heaven
knows, for Waltheofstow is well worth nineteen thousand zecchins three
times told, and, in lieu of usance money, you shall transfer the man
Kenric from thee and thine to me and mine, forever. So shall my
gratitude be preserved intact, and my pretty Guendolen have her fond
fancy gratified."

"Be it so, then, in God's name; and by my faith I thank you for the
loan right heartily; for, on mine honor! that same blood-sucker of
Israel hath pumped me like the veriest horse-leech, these last twelve
months, and I know not but I should have had to sell, after all. We
must have Kenric's consent, however, that all may be in form; for he
is no common thrall, but a serf of the soil, and may not be removed
from it, nor manumitted even, save with his own free will."

"Who ever heard of a serf refusing to be free, more than of a Jew not
loving ducats? My life on it, he will not be slow to consent!"

"I trow not, I trow not, De Taillebois, but let us set about it
presently; a good deed can not well be done too quickly. You pass the
wine cup, too, I notice. Let us take cap and cloak, and stroll down
into the hamlet yonder; it is a pleasant ramble in the cool afternoon,
and we can see him in his den; he will be scant of wind, I trow, and
little fit to climb the castle hill this evensong, after the battering
he received from that stout forester. But freedom will be a royal
salve, I warrant me, for his worst bruises. Shall we go?"

"Willingly, willingly. I would have it to tell Guendolen at her
wakening. 'T will be a cure to her also. She is a tender-hearted child
ever, and was so from her cradle. Why, I have known her cry like the
lady Niobe, that the prior of St. Albans told us of--who wept till she
was changed into a chipping fountain, when blessed St. Michael and St.
George slew all her tribe of children, for that she likened herself,
in her vain pride of beauty, to the most holy virgin mother, St. Mary
of Sienna--at the killing of a deer by a stray shaft, that had a
suckling fawn beside her foot; and when I caused them to imprison
Wufgitha, that was her nurse's daughter, for selling of a hundred
pounds of flax that was given her to spin, she took sick, and kept to
her bed two days and more, all for that she fancied the wench would
pine; though her prison-house was the airiest and most lightsome
turret chamber in my house at Kendal, and she was not in gyves nor on
prison diet. Faith! I had no peace with her, till I gave the whole
guidance of the women into her hands. They are all ladies since that
day at Kendal, or next akin to it."

"Over god's forbode!" answered Philip, laughing. "It must have been a
black day for your seneschal. How rules he your warders, since? My
fellow, Hundibert, swears that the girls need more watching than the
laziest swine in the whole Saxon herd. But come; let us be moving."

With that they descended the winding stone stairway into the great
hall or guard-room, which occupied the whole of one floor of the
castle--a noble vaulted room, stone-arched and stone-paved, its walls
hung with splendid arms and well-used weapons,

                      "Old swords, and pikes, and bows,
    And good old shields, and targets, that had borne some stout old

Thence, through an echoing archway, above which in its grooves of
stone hung the steel-clinched portcullis, and down a steep and almost
precipitous flight of steps, without any rail or breastwork, they
reached the large court-yard, where some of the retainers were engaged
in trying feats of strength and skill, throwing the hammer, wrestling,
or shooting with arbalasts at a mark, while others were playing at
games of chance in a cool shadowy angle of the walls, moistening their
occupation with an occasional pull at a deep, black tankard, which
stood beside them on the board.

After tarrying a few minutes in the court, observing the wrestlers and
cross-bowmen, and throwing in an occasional word of good-humored
encouragement at any good shot or happy fall, the lords passed the
drawbridge, which was lowered, giving access to the pleasant country,
over which the warder was gazing half-wistfully, and watching a group
of pretty girls, who were washing clothes in the brook at about half a
mile's distance, laughing as merrily and singing as tunefully as
though they had been free maidens of gentle Norman lineage, instead of
contemned and outlawed Saxons, the children, and the wives and mothers
of slaves and bond-men in the to be hereafter.

"Hollo! old Stephen," cried the Knight of Morville, gayly, as he
passed the stout dependent; "I thought thou wert too resolute a
bachelor to cast a sheep's-eye on the lasses, and too thorough-paced a
Norman to let the prettiest Saxon of them all find favor in your

"I don't know, sir; I don't know that," answered the man, with a grin,
half-bashfully, and between bantering and earnest. "There's little
Edith down yonder; and, bond or free, there's not a girl about the
castle, or within ten miles of it, for that matter, that has got an
eye to come near those blue sparklers of her's; and as for her voice,
when she's singing, it would wile the birds out of heaven, let alone
the wits of a poor soldier's brain-pan. Hark to her now, Sir Philip.
Sang ever nightingale so sweetly as yon trill, Sir Knight?"

"Win her, Stephen. Win her, I'll grant you my permission, for your
paramour; and if you do, I'll give her to you for your own. I owe you
a boon of some sort, for that service you did me when you knocked that
Welch churl on the head, who would have driven his long knife into my
ribs, that time I was dismounted in the pass near Dunmailraise. Win
her, therefore, if you may, Stephen, and yours she shall be, as surely
and as steadfastly as though she were the captive of your spear."

"Small chance, Sir Philip," replied the man, slowly; "all thanks to
you, natheless. But she's troth-plighted to that tall, well-made
fellow, Kenric, they say, that saved the lady Guendolen from the stag
this morning. They'll be asking your consent to the wedding and the
bedding, one of these days, Beausire. To-morrow, as like as not,
seeing this feat of the good youth's will furnish forth a sort of plea
for the asking of a favor."

"That will not much concern you, warder," said Sir Yvo. "Your rival
will be out of your way shortly. I have asked his freedom but now of
Sir Philip, and shall have him away with me the next week, to the
North country."

"I don't know that will do me much good. They say she loves him
parlously, and he her; and she ever looks coldly on me."

"A little perseverance is a certain remedy for cold looks, Stephen.
So, don't be down-hearted. You will have a clear field soon."

"I am not so sure of that, sir. I should not wonder if he refused to

"Refused to go--to be free--to be his own master, and a thrall and
slave no longer!"

"Who can tell, sir?" answered the man. "Saxon or Norman, bond or free,
we're all men, after all; and women have made fools of us all, since
the days of Sir Adam in Paradise, and will, I fancy, to the end of all
time. I'd do and suffer a good deal myself to win such a look out of
Edith's blue eyes, as I saw her give yon Saxon churl, when he came to
after we had thrown cold water on him. And, after all, if Sir
Hercules, of Greece, made a slave of himself, and a she-slave, too, as
that wandering minstrel sang to us in the hall the other day, all to
win the love of the beautiful Sultana, Omphale, I don't see, for
myself, why a Saxon serf, that's been a serf all his life, and got
pretty well used to it by this time, shouldn't stay a serf all the
rest of it, to keep the love of Edith, who is prettier a precious
sight than the fair Turk, Omphale, I'll warrant. I don't know but what
I would myself."

"Pshaw! Stephen; that smacks Norman--smacks of the _gai science_,
chivalry, sentiment, and fine high romance. You'll never see a Saxon
sing 'all for love,' I'll warrant you."

"Well, sir, well. We shall see. A Saxon's a man, as I said before; and
a Saxon in love is a man in love; and a man in love isn't a man in his
senses any more than Sir Hercules of Greece was, and when a Saxon's in
love, and out of his senses, there's no saying what he'll do; only one
may guess it will be nothing over wise. And so, as I said before, I
should not wonder if Kenric should not part with collar, thong, and
shackles, if he must needs part too with little Edith the Fair. I
would not, any wise, if I were he, Beausire."



    "As they sat in Englyshe wood,
      Under the greenwode tree,
    They thought they heard a woman wepe,
      But her they mought not see."


Leaving the warder lounging listlessly at his post, as in a
well-settled district and in "piping times of peace," with no feudal
enemies at hand, and no outlaws in the vicinity, none at least so
numerous as to render any guard necessary, except as a matter of
dignity and decorum, the two knights strolled down the sandy lane
toward the village, or quarter of the serfs; who were not admitted
generally to reside within the walls, partly as a precaution, lest, in
case of some national affray, they might so far outnumber the Norman
men-at-arms as to become dangerous, partly because they were not
deemed fitting associates for the meanest of the feudal servitors.

The two gentlemen in question were excellent specimens of the Norman
baron of the day, without, however, being heroes or geniuses, or in
any particular--except perhaps for good temper and the lack of
especial temptation toward evil--manifestly superior to others of
their class, caste, and period. Neither of them was in any respect a
tyrant, individually cruel, or intentionally an oppressor; but both
were, as every one of us is at this day, used to look at things as we
find them, through our own glasses, and to seek rather for what is the
custom, than for what is right, and therefore ought to be; for what it
suits us, and is permitted to us by law to do to others, than for what
we should desire others to do unto us.

Reckless of life themselves, brought up from their cradles to regard
pain as a thing below consideration, and death as a thing to be risked
daily, they were not like to pay much regard to the mere physical
sufferings of others, or to set human life at a value, such as to
render it worth the preserving, when great stakes were to be won or
lost on its hazard. Accustomed to set their own lives on the die, for
the most fantastic whim of honor, or at the first call of their feudal
suzerains, accustomed to see their Norman vassals fall under shield,
and deem such death honorable and joyous, at their own slightest
bidding, how should they have thought much of the life, far more of
the physical or mental sufferings, of the Saxon serf, whom they had
found, on their arrival in their newly-conquered England, a thing
debased below the value, in current coin, of an ox, a dog, or a
war-horse--a thing, the taking of whose life was compensated by a
trivial fine, and whom they naturally came to regard as a dull,
soulless, inanimate, stupid senseless animal, with the passions only,
but without the intellect of the man. Of the two barons, Sir Yvo de
Taillebois was the superior, both in intellect and culture; he was in
easy circumstances also, while his far younger friend, Sir Philip de
Morville, was embarrassed by the _res angusta domi_, and by the
importunity of relentless creditors, which often drives men to do, as
well as to suffer, extremes.

It was no hardness of nature or cruelty of disposition, therefore,
which led either of these noble men--for they were noble, not in birth
only, but in sentiment and soul, according to the notions of their
age, which were necessarily _their_ notions, and to the lights
vouchsafed to them--to speak concerning the Saxon serfs, and act
toward them, ever as if they were beasts of burden, worthy of care,
kindness, and some degree of physical consideration, rather than like
men, as themselves, endowed with hearts to feel and souls to
comprehend. Had they been other than they were, they had been
monsters; as it was, they were excellent men, as men went then, and go
now, fully up to the spirit of their own times, and to the strain of
morality and justice understood thereby, but not one whit above it.
Therefore, Sir Yvo de Taillebois, finding himself indebted for his
daughter's life to the hardihood and courage of the Saxon serf, whom
he regarded much as he would have done his charger or his hound,
desired, as a point of honor, rather than of gratitude, to secure to
the serf an indemnity from toil, punishment, or want, during the rest
of his life, just as he would have assigned a stall, with free rack
and manger, to the superannuated charger which had saved his own life
in battle; or given the run of kitchen, buttery, and hall, to the
hound which had run the foremost of his pack. The sensibilities of the
Saxon were as incomprehensible to him as those of the charger or the
staghound, and he thought no more of considering him in his social or
family relations, than the animals to which, in some sort, he likened

He would not, it is true, if asked as a philosophical truth, whether
the life of a Saxon serf and of an Andalusian charger were equivalent,
have replied in the affirmative; for he was, according to his lights,
a Christian, and knew that a Saxon had a soul to be saved; nor would
he have answered, that the colt of the high-bred mare, or the whelp of
the generous brach, stood exactly in the same relation as the child of
the serf to its human parent; but use had much deadened his
perceptions to the distinction; and the impassive and stolid
insensibility of the Saxon race, imbruted and degraded by ages of
serfdom, caused him to overlook the faint and rarely seen displays of
human sensibilities, which would have led him less to undervalue the
sense and sentiment of his helpless fellow-countrymen. As it was, he
would as soon have expected his favorite charger or best brood mare to
pine hopelessly, and grieve as one who could not be consoled, at being
liberated from spur and saddle, and turned out to graze at liberty
forever in a free and fertile pasture, while its colts should remain
in life-long bondage, as he would have supposed it possible for the
Saxon serf to be affected beyond consolation by the death, the
deportation, or the disasters of his family.

Nor, again, did he regard liberty or servitude in an abstract sense,
apart from ideas of incarceration, torture, or extreme privation, as
great and inherent right or wrong.

The serf owed him absolute service; the free laborer, or villeyn,
service, in some sort, less absolute; his vassals, man-service,
according to their degree, either in the field of daily labor, the
hunting-field, or the battle-field; he himself owed service to his
suzerain; his suzerain to the King. It was all service, and the
difference was but in the degree; and if the service of the serf was
degraded, it was a usual, a habitual degradation, to which, it might
be presumed, he was so well accustomed, that he felt it not more than
the charger his demipique, or the hawk his bells and jesses; and, for
the most part, he did not feel it more, nor regret it, nor know the
lack of liberty, save as connected with the absence of the fetters or
the lash.

And this, indeed, is the great real evil of slavery, wheresoever and
under whatsoever form it exists, that it is not more, but less,
hurtful to the slave than to the master, and that its ill effects are
in a much higher and more painful degree intellectual than physical;
that, while it degrades and lowers the inferiors almost to the level
of mere brutes, through the consciousness of degradation, the absence
of all hope to rise in the scale of manhood, and the lack of every
stimulus to ambition or exertion, it hardens the heart, and deadens
the sensibilities of the master, and renders him, through the strange
power of circumstance and custom, blind to the existence of wrongs,
sufferings, and sorrows, at the mere narration of which, under a
different phase of things, his blood would boil with indignation.

Such, then, was in some considerable degree, the state of mind,
arising from habit and acquaintance with the constitution of freedom
and slavery, intermingled every where in the then world, any thing to
the contrary of which they had never seen nor even heard of, in which
the two Norman lords took their way down the village street, if it
could be so called, being a mere sandy tract, passable only to
horsemen, or carts and vehicles of the very rudest construction,
unarmed, except with their heavy swords, and wholly unattended, on an
errand, as they intended, of liberality and mercy.

The quarter of the serfs of Sir Philip de Morville was, for the most
part, very superior to the miserable collection of huts, liker to
dog-houses than to any human habitation, which generally constituted
the dwellings of this forlorn and miserable race; for the knight was,
as it has been stated, an even-tempered and good-natured, though
common-place man; and being endowed with rather an uncommon regard for
order and taste for the picturesque, he consequently looked more than
usual to the comfort of his serfs, both in allotting them small plots
of garden-ground and orchards, and in bestowing on them building
materials of superior quality and appearance.

All the huts, therefore, rudely framed of oak beams, having the
interstices filled in with a cement of clay and ruddle, with thatched
roofs and wooden lattices instead of windows, were whole, and for the
most part weather-proof. Many of the inhabitants had made porches,
covered with natural wild runners, as the woodbine and sweet-brier;
all had made gardens in front, which they might cultivate in their
hours of leisure, when the day's task-work should be done, and which
displayed evidently enough, by their orderly or slovenly culture, the
character and disposition of their occupants.

The few men whom the lords met on their way, mostly driving up beasts
laden with fire-wood or forage to the cattle, for the day was not yet
far spent, nor the hours devoted to toil well-nigh passed, were hale,
strong, sturdy varlets, in good physical condition, strong-limbed, and
giving plentiful evidences in their appearance of ample coarse
subsistence; they were well-dressed, moreover, although in the
plainest and coarsest habiliments, made, for the most part, of the
tanned hides of beasts with the hair outward, or in some cases of
cheap buff leather, their feet protected by clumsy home-made sandals,
and their heads uncovered, save by the thick and matted elf-locks of
their unkempt and dingy hair.

They louted low as their lord passed them by, but no gleam of
recognition, much less any smile of respectful greeting, such as
passes between the honored superior and the valued servant, played
over their stolid and heavy countenance, begrimed for the most part
with filth, and half-covered with disordered beards and unshorn

Neither in form, motion, nor attire, did they show any symptom of
misusage; there were no scars, as of the stripes, the stocks, or the
fetters, on their bare arms and legs; they were in good physical
condition, well-fed, warmly-lodged, sufficiently-clad--perhaps in the
best possible condition for the endurance of continuous labor, and the
performance of works requiring strength and patience, rather than
agility or energetic exertion.

But so also were the mules, oxen, or horses, which they were employed
in driving, and which, in all these respects, were fully equal to
their drivers, while they had this manifest advantage over them, that
they were rubbed down and curry-combed, and cleaned, and showed their
hides glossy and sleek, and their manes free from scurf and burrs,
which is far more than could be stated of their human companions, who
looked for the most part as if their tanned and swart complexions were
as innocent of water as were their beards and elf-locks of brush or

In addition, however, to their grim and sordid aspect, and their
evident ignorance, or carelessness, of their base appearance, there
was a dull, sullen, dogged expression on all their faces--a look not
despairing, nor even sorrowful, but perfectly impassive, as if they
had nothing to hope for, or regret, or fear; the look of a caged bear,
wearied and fattened out of his fierceness, not tamed, civilized, or
controlled by any human teaching.

The stature and bearing, even of the freeborn and noble Saxon, in the
day when his fair isle of Albion was his own, and he trod the soil its
proud proprietor, had never been remarkable for its beauty, grace, or
dignity. He was, for the most part, short, thick-set, sturdy-limbed,
bull-necked, bullet-headed; a man framed more for hardihood,
endurance, obstinate resolve, indomitable patience to resist, than for
vivid energy, brilliant impulsive vigor, or ardor, whether
intellectual or physical; but these men, though they neither lounged
nor lagged behind, plodded along with a heavy, listless gait, their
frowning brows turned earthward, their dull gray eyes rolling beneath
their light lashes, meaningless and spiritless, and the same scowl on
every gloomy face.

The younger women, a few of whom were seen about the doors or gardens,
busied in churning butter, making cheese, or performing other duties
of the farm and dairy, were somewhat more neatly, and, in some few
cases, even tastefully attired. Some were of rare beauty, with a
profusion of auburn, light brown, or flaxen hair, bright rosy
complexions, large blue eyes, and voluptuous figures; and these bore
certainly a more cheerful aspect, as the nature of woman is more
hopeful than that of man, and a more gentle mood than their fellows;
yet there were no songs enlivening their moments of rest or
alleviating their hours of toil--no jests, no romping, as we are wont
to see among young girls of tender years, occupied in the lighter and
more feminine occupations of agricultural life.

Some one or two of these, indeed, smiled as they courtesied to their
lord, but the smile was wan and somewhat sickly, nor seemed to come
from the heart; it gave no pleasure, one would say, to her who
gave--no pleasure to him who received it.

The little children, however, who tumbled about in the dust, or built
mud-houses by the puddles in the road, were the saddest sight of all.
Half-naked, sturdy-limbed, filthy little savages, utterly untaught and
untamed, scarcely capable of making themselves understood, even in
their own rude dialect; wild-eyed, and fierce or sullen-looking as it
might, subject to no control or correction, receiving no education, no
culture whatsoever--not so much even as the colt, which is broken at
least to the menage, or the hound-puppy, which is entered at the
quarry which he is to chase; ignorant of every moral or divine
truth--ignorant even that each one of them was the possessor of a
mortal body, far more of an immortal soul!

But not a thought of these things ever crossed the mind of the stately
and puissant Normans. No impression such as these, which must needs
now strike home to the soul of every chance beholder, had ever been
made on their imaginations, by the sight of things, which, seeing
every day, they had come to consider only as things which were
customary, and were, therefore, right and proper--not the exception
even to the rule, but the rule without exception.

So differently, indeed, did the circumstances above related strike Sir
Yvo de Taillebois, that he even complimented his friend on the general
comfort of his villenage, and the admirable condition of his people,
the air of capacity of his men, and the beauty of his women; nay! he
commented even upon the plump forms and brawny muscles of the young
savages, who fled diverse from before their footsteps, shrieking and
terrified at the lordly port and resounding strides of their masters,
as indicative of their future strength, and probable size and stature.

And Philip replied, laughing, "Ay! ay! they are a stout and burly set
of knaves and good workers on the main. The hinges of the stocks are
rusted hard for want of use, and the whipping-post has not heard the
crack of the boar's hide these two years or better; but then I work
them lightly and feed them roundly, and I find that they do me the
more work for it, and the better; besides, the food they consume is
all of their own producing, and I have no use for it. They raise me
twice as much now as I can expend, on this manor. Now I work my folk
but ten hours to the day, and give them meat, milk, and cheese, daily,
and have not flogged a man since Martinmas two twelvemonths; and I
have thrice the profit of them that my friend and neighbor, Reginald
Maltravers, has, though his thralls toil from matin to curfew, with
three lenten days to the week, and the thong ever sounding. It is bad
policy, I say, to over-do the work or under-do the feeding. Besides,
poor devils, they have not much fun in life, and if you fill their
bellies, you fill them with all the pleasure and contentment they are
capable of knowing. But, hold! here is Kenric's home--the best cabin
in the quarter, as the owner is the best man. Let us go in."

"And carry him a welcome cure for his aching bones," said Sir Yvo, as
they entered the little gate of a pretty garden, which stretched from
the door down to a reach of the winding stream, overshadowed by
several large and handsome willows. "By my faith! he must needs be a
good man," resumed the speaker--"why, it is as neat as a thane's
manor, and neater, too, than many I have seen."

But as he spoke, the shrill and doleful wail of women came from the
porch of the house. "Ah, well-a-day! ah, well-a-day! that I should
live to see it. Soul of my soul, Kenric, my first-born and my best
one--thou first borne in, almost a corpse; and then, my darling and
delight--my fair-haired Edgar's son dead of this doleful fever. Ah,
well-a-day! ah, well-a-day! Would God that I were dead also, most
miserable that I am, of women!"

And then the manly voice of Kenric replied, but faint for his wounds
and wavering for the loss of blood; "Wail not for me, mother," he
said; "wail not for me, for I am strong yet, and like to live this
many a day--until thy toils are ended, and then God do to me as seems
him good. But, above all, I say to thee, wail not for Adhemar the
white-haired. His weakness and his innocence are over, here on earth.
He has never known the collar or the gyves--has never felt how bitter
and how hard a thing it is to be the slave of the best earthly master!
His dream--his fever-dream of life is over; he is free from yoke and
chain; he has awoken out of human servitude, to be the slave of the
everlasting God, whose strictest slavery is perfect liberty and
perfect love."

But still the woman wailed--"Ah, well-a-day! ah, well-a-day! would God
that I were dead, most miserable of mothers that I am!"

And the Norman barons stood unseen and silent, smitten into dumbness
before the regal majesty of the slave's maternal sorrow, perhaps
awakened to some dim vision of the truth, which never had dawned on
them until that day, in the serf's quarter.



    "And I'll be true to thee, Mary,
      As thou'lt be true to me;
    And I never will leave thee, never, Mary,
      As slave man or as free;
    For we're bound forever and ever, Mary,
      Till death shall set us free--
    Free from the chain of the flesh, Mary,
      Free from the devil's chain--
    Free from the collar and gyves, Mary,
      And slavery's cursed pain;
    And then, when we're free in heaven, Mary,
      We'll pray to be bound again."


It was with grave and somewhat downcast brows, and nothing of
haughtiness or pride of port or demeanor, that the lord and his friend
entered under the lowly roof, invested for the moment with a majesty
which was not its own, by the strange sacredness of grief and death.

There never probably, in the whole history of the world, has been a
race of men, which entertained in their own persons a more boundless
contempt of death, or assigned less value to the mere quality of life,
than the warlike Normans. Not a man of them, while in the heyday of
life and manhood, would have hesitated for a moment in choosing a
death under shield, a death of violence and anguish, winning renown
and conferring deathless honor, to the gentlest decay, the most
peaceful dissolution. Not a man would have shed a tear, or shown a
sign of sorrow, had he seen his favorite son, his most familiar
friend, his noblest brother in arms, felled from his saddle in the
mêlée, and trampled out of the very form of humanity beneath the hoofs
of the charging cavalry. Not a man but would have ridden over a
battlefield, gorged with carcasses and drunk with gore, without
expressing a thought of terror, a sentiment beyond the victory, the
glory, and the gain. But such is the sovereignty of death, in the
silence and solitude of its natural gloom, stripped of the pomp and
paraphernalia of funereal honors, and unadorned by the empty braveries
of human praise and glory--such is the empire of humble, simple,
overruling sorrow, that, as they entered the low-roofed, undecorated
chamber, where lay the corpse of the neglected, despised serf--the
being, while in life, scarce equal to the animals of the chase--with
his nearest of kin, serfs likewise, abject, ignorant, down-trodden,
and debased--in so far as man can debase God's creations--mourning in
Christian sorrow over him, the nobles felt, for a moment, that their
nobility was nothing in the presence of the awful dead; and that they,
too, for all their pride of antique blood, for all their strength of
limb and heaven-daring valor, for all their lands and lordships, must
be brought down one day to the dust, like the poor slave, and go
forth, as they entered this world, bearing nothing out, before one
common Lord and Master, who must in the end sit in universal judgment.

Such meditations are not, perhaps, very common to the great, the
powerful, and the fortunate of men, in any time or place, so long as
the light of this world shine about, and their ways are ways of
pleasantness; but if rare always, and under all ordinary
circumstances, with the chivalrous, high-hearted, and hot-headed
knights of the twelfth century, they were assuredly of the rarest.

Yet now so powerfully did they come over the strong minds of the two
grave nobles, that they paused a moment on the threshold before
entering; and Yvo de Taillebois, who was the elder man, and of deeper
thoughts and higher imagination than his friend, raised his plumed
bonnet from his brow, and bowed his head in silence.

It was a strange and moving scene on which they looked. The room,
which was the ordinary dwelling-place of the family, was rather a
large, dark parallelogram, lighted only through the door and a couple
of narrow latticed windows, which, if closed, would have admitted few
half-intercepted rays, but which now stood wide open, to admit the
fresh and balmy air, so that from one, at the western end of the
cottage, a clear ruddy beam of the declining sun shot in a long pencil
of light, bringing out certain objects in strong relief against the
surrounding gloom.

The door, at which the two knights stood, chanced to be so placed
under the shadow of one of the great trees which overhung the house,
that there was little light for them to intercept. Hence, those who
were within, occupied by their own sad and bitter thoughts, did not at
first so much as observe their presence. Facing the entrance, a large
fire-place, with great projecting jambs, inclosing on each side a long
oaken settle, occupied one half the length of the room; and on one of
these, propped up with some spare bedding and clothing, lay the
wounded man, Kenric, to whom the Baron de Taillebois owed his beloved
child's life, half recumbent, pale from the loss of blood, yet chafing
with annoyance, that he should be thus bedridden, when his strength
might have been of avail to others, feebler and less able to exert
themselves almost than he, bruised though he was, and gored from the
rude encounter.

A little fire was burning low on the hearth, with a pot simmering over
it--for, in their bitterest times of anguish and desolation, the very
poor must bestir themselves, at least, to house service--and from the
logs, which had fallen forward on the hearth, volumes of smoke were
rolling up and hanging thick about the dingy rafters, and the few hams
and flitches which, with strings of oat-cakes garnished the roof, its
only ornament.

But, wholly unconscious of the ill-odored reek, though it streamed up
close under his very eyes, and seeing nothing of the chevaliers, who
were watching not six paces from him, Kenric lay helpless, straining
his nerveless eyes toward the spot where the ruddy western sunlight
fell, like a glory, on the pale, quiet features of the dead child, and
on the cold, gray, impassive head of the aged mourner, aged far beyond
the ordinary course of mortal life, who bent over the rude bier; and,
strange contrast, on the sunny flaxen curls, and embrowned ruddy
features of two or three younger children, clustered around the
grandam's knee, silent through awe rather than sorrow, for they were
too young as yet to know what death meant, or to comprehend what was
that awful gloom which had fallen upon hearth and home.

Every thing in that humble and poor apartment was scrupulously clean
and tidy; a white cloth was on the table, with two or three platters
and porringers of coarse earthenware, as if the evening meal had been
prepared when death had entered in, and interposed his awful
veto--some implements of rustic husbandry, an ax or two, several
specimens of the old English bill and Sheffield whittle; and one short
javelin, with a heavy head, hung on the walls, with all the iron work
brightly polished and in good order; fresh rushes were strewn on the
floor, a broken pitcher, full of newly-gathered field-flowers, adorned
the window-sill; and what was strange indeed at that age, and in such
a place, two or three old, much tattered, dingy manuscripts graced a
bare shelf above the chimney corner.

The aged woman had ceased from the wild outbreak of grief with which
she had bewailed the first sign of death on the sick boy's faded brow,
and was now rocking herself to and fro above the body, with a dull,
monotonous murmur, half articulate, combining fragments of some old
Saxon hymn with fondling epithets and words of unmeaning sorrow, while
the tears slowly trickled down her wan cheeks, and fell into her lap
unheeded. Kenric was silent, for he had no consolation to offer, even
if consolation could have been availing, in that

    The first dark hour of nothingness,
    The last of danger and distress.

Such was the spectacle which met the eyes of those high-born men, who
had come down from their high place into the lowly village, with the
intention of bestowing happiness and awakening gratitude, and who now
found themselves placed front to front with one far mightier than
themselves, whose presence left no room for joy, even with those the
least used to such emotion.

It is, however, I fear, but too much the case even with the more
refined and better nurtured classes of the present century, while they
are compassionating the sorrows and even endeavoring to alleviate the
miseries of their poorer and less-cultivated brethren, to undervalue
the depth of their sensations, to fancy that the same events harrow
not up their less vivid sensibilities, and inflict not on their
coarser and less intellectual natures the same agonies, which they
effect upon their own. But, although it may be true that, in the very
poor, the necessity of immediate labor, of all-engrossing occupation,
rendering thought and reflection on the past impossible, sooner
removes from them the pressure of past grief, than from those who can
afford to brood over it in indolent despair, and indulge in morbid and
selfish woe, there can be no doubt that, in the early moments of a new
bereavement, the agony is as acute to the dullest and heaviest as to
the loftiest and most imaginative intellect. Since it is the heart
itself, that is touched in the first instance; and, though in after
hours imagination may assume its share, so that the most imaginative
minds dwell longest on the bygone suffering, the heart is the same in
the peasant as in the peer, and that of the wisest of the sons of men
bleeds neither more nor less profusely than that of the rudest clown.

And so, perchance, in some sort it was now. For, after pausing and
looking reverently on the sad picture, until it was evident that they
were entirely overlooked, if not unseen, Sir Philip de Morville took a
step or two forward into the cottage, his sounding tread at once
calling all eyes toward his person, in a sort of half-stupid mixture
of alarm and astonishment.

For in those days, the steps of a Norman baron rarely descended to the
serf's quarters, unless they were echoed by the clanking strides of
armed subordinates, and too often followed by the clash of shackles or
the sound of the hated scourge. Sir Philip was indeed, as it has been
observed, an even-tempered and just master, as things went in those
times; that is to say, he was neither personally cruel nor exacting of
labor; nor was he niggardly in providing for his people; nor did he,
when it came before his eyes, tolerate oppression, or permit useless
severity on the part of subordinates, who were often worse tyrants and
tormentors than the lords. Still, his kindliest mood amounted to
little more than bare indifference; and he certainly knew and studied
less concerning any thing beyond the mere physical wants and condition
of his thralls and bondsmen, than he did of the nurture of his hawks
or hounds.

All the inmates, therefore, looked up in wonder, not altogether
unmixed with fear, as, certainly for the first time in his life, the
castellan entered the humble tenement of the serf of the soil.

But all idea of fear passed away on the instant; for the knight's face
was open and calm, though grave, and his voice was gentle, and even
subdued, as he spoke.

"Soh!" he said, "what is this, Kenric, which causes us, in coming down
to see if we might not heal up thy heart and cheer thy spirits by good
tidings, to find worse sorrow, for which we looked not, nor can
reverse it by any mortal doing. Who is the boy?"

"Pardon that I rise not, beausire, to reply to you," answered the
serf, "but this right leg of mine will not bear me; and when the hand
of sickness hold us down, good will must make shift in lieu of good
service. It is my nephew Adhemar, Sir Philip, the only son of my
youngest brother Edgar, who was drowned a year since in the great
flood of the Idle."

"In striving to rescue my old blind destrier Sir Roland, ah! I
remember him; a stout and willing lad! But I knew not, or forgot, that
he was thy brother. And so this is his son," he added, striding up to
the side of the rude bier, and laying his broad hand upon his brow.
"He is young," he said, musingly, "very young to die. But we must all
die one day, Kenric; and who knows but it is best to die young?"

"At least, the ancient Greeks and Romans said so," interposed Yvo de
Taillebois, speaking for the first time. "They have a proverb, that,
whomsoever the gods love, dies young."

"I think it _is_ best, beausire," answered the serf; "it is never
cold in the grave, in the dreariest storms; nor sultry in the
scorching August. And they are never hungry there, nor sorefooted, nor
weary unto death. I think it is best to die young, before one has
tasted overmuch sorrow here on earth to burden his heart and make him
stubborn and malicious. It was this I was saying to old Bertha, as
your noblenesses entered; but she has never held her head up since my
brother, Edgar, died; he was her favorite, since she always held that
he had most favor of our grandfather."

"She is very old?" said Sir Philip, half questioning, half musing.
"She is very old?"

"Above ninety years, Sir Philip, I have heard Father Eadbald say, who
died twenty years since, at the abbey, come next Michaelmas. It should
have been he who married her. Her mother was the last free woman of
our race. We had three hydes of land, I've heard her tell, in those
days, down by the banks of Idle, held of old Waltheof, who gave his
name to this your noble castle. But they are all gone before us, and
we must follow them when our day comes. And then, as I tell Bertha, we
shall be free, all, if not equal; for the most virtuous must be
_first_ there, as Father Engelram tells us. May Mary and the saints
be about us!"

"Come, Kenric," said De Morville, cheeringly, "thou talkest now more
like to a gray brother, than to the stout woodman who struckest yon
brave blow but a while since, and saved Sir Yvo's fair lady,
Guendolen. Faith! it was bravely done, and well; and well shall come
of it to you, believe me. It is to speak of that to thee that we came
hither, but this boy's death hath put it from our minds. But, hark ye,
boy! I will send down some wenches hither from the castle, with ale
and mead for his lykewake, and linen for a shroud; and Father Engelram
shall see to the church-service; and there shall be a double dole to
the poor at the abbey; and I myself will pay ten marks, in masses for
his soul. If he died a serf, he shall be buried as though he were a
freeman, and a franklin's son; and all for thy sake, and for the good
blow thou struckest but three hours agone."

Kenric's brow flushed high, whether it was with gratification, or
gratitude, or from wounded pride; but he stuttered confusedly, as he
attempted to thank his lord, and only found his tongue as he related
to his grandmother, in his native language, the promises and goodly
proffers of the castellan; and she, for a moment, spoke eagerly in
reply, but then seemed to forget, and was silent. A word or two passed
in French between the nobles, Yvo de Taillebois urging that the time
was inopportune for speaking of the matter on which they had come
down; for that it was not well to mingle great joys with great
sorrows; but Sir Philip insisted, declaring that there was no so good
way to cure a past grief as by the news of a coming joy.

"So, hark you, Kenric," he said; "the cure we came to bring you for
your bruised bones, and the guerdon for your gallant deed, in two
words, is this--I may not, as you may have heard tell, liberate my
serfs, under condition, but I may _sell_; and I have sold thee to
mine ancient friend and brother in arms, Yvo de Taillebois."

"Not to hold in thrall," exclaimed Yvo de Taillebois, eagerly, as he
saw the face of the wounded man flush fiery red, and then grow pale as
ashes. "Not to hold in thrall, but to liberate; but to make thee as
free as the birds of the wildest wing--a freeman; and, if thou wilt
follow me, a freeholder on my lands beyond the lakes, in the fair
shire of Westmoreland."

"I am a serf of the soil, Beausire de Morville, and I may not be sold
from the soil, unless legally convicted of felony. I know no felony
that I have done, Sir Philip."

"Felony, man!" exclaimed Sir Philip; "art thou mad? We would reward
thee for thy good faith and valor. We would set thee free. Of course,
thou canst not be sold, but with thine own consent. But thou hast only
to consent, and be free as thy master."

"Sir Philip," replied the man, turning even paler than before, and
trembling, as if he had a fit of palsy, "would I could rise to bless
you, on my bended knee! May the great God of all things bless you! but
I can not consent--think me not ungrateful--but I can not be free!"

"Not free!" exclaimed both nobles in a breath; and Sir Yvo gazed on
him wistfully, as if he but partially understood; but Philip de
Morville turned on his heel, superciliously. "Come, Sir Yvo," he said;
"it skills not wasting time, or breath, on these abjects. Why, by the
light of heaven! had I been fettered in a dungeon, with a ton of iron
at my heels, I had leaped head-high to know myself once more a
freeman; and here this slave, By 'r lady! I can not brook to speak his
name! can not consent, forsooth! can not consent to be free! Heaven's
mercy! Let him rot a slave, then! unless, perchance, thou wouldst
crave him for thy sake, and the Virgin Mother's sake, to take good
counsel and be free. Out on it! out on it! I am sick to the soul at
such baseness!"

And he left the cottage abruptly, in scorn and anger. But Sir Yvo de
Taillebois stood still, gazing compassionately and inquiringly on the
man, over whose face there had fallen a dark, gray, death-like shadow,
as he lay with his teeth and hands clinched like vices.

"Can this be? I thought not that on earth there lived a man who might
be free, and would not. Dost not love liberty, Kenric?"

"Ask the wild eagle in his place of pride! Ask the wild goat on
Pennigant or Ingleborough's head; and when they come down to the cage
and chain, believe, then, that I love it not. Freedom! freedom! To be
free but five minutes, I would die fifty deaths of direst torture. And
yet it can not be--it can not be! Peace, tempter, peace; you can not
stir my soul. Slave I was born, slave I must die, and only in the
grave shall be a slave no longer. Leave me, beausire; but think me not
ungrateful. I never looked to owe so much to living man, and least of
all to living man of your proud race, as I owe you to-day. But leave
me, noble sir; you can not aid us. So go your way, and leave us to our
sorrow, and may the God of serfs and seigneurs be about you with his

"Passing strange! This is passing strange!" said De Taillebois, as he
turned to go likewise; "I never saw a beast that would not leave his
cage when the door was open."

"But I have!" answered Kenric; "when the beast's brood were within,
and might not follow him. But I am _not_ a beast, Sir Knight; but
though a serf, a man--a Saxon, not a Norman, it is true; but a man,
yet, _a man_! There may be collar on my neck, and gyves on wrist
and ankle, but my soul wears no shackles. It is as free as thine, and
shall stand face to face with thine, one day, before the judgment
seat. I am a man, I say, Sir Yvo de Taillebois; there sits old Bertha,
surnamed the Good, a serf herself, mother of serfs, and grandmother;
there lies my serf-brother's boy, himself a serf no longer; there
sprawl unconscious on the hearth his baby brethren, serfs from the
cradle to the grave; and here comes," he added, in a deeper, sterner,
lower tone, as the beautiful Saxon slave-girl entered, whom they had
seen near the drawbridge, washing in the stream--"here comes--look
upon her, noble knight and Norman!--here comes my plighted bride, my
Edith the fair-haired! I am a man, Norman! Should I be man, or beast,
if, leaving these in bondage, I were to fare forth hence, alone, into
dishonored freedom?"



    "I say not nay, but that all day,
      It is both writ and said,
    That woman's faith is, as who sayeth,
      All utterly decayed;
    But neverthelesse, right good witnesse
      In this case might be laid,
    That they love true and continue--
      Recorde the Not-browne mayde;
    Which, when her love came her to prove,
      To her to make his mone,
    Wolde have him part--for in her hart
      She loved him but alone."


How true a thing is it of the human heart, and alas! how pitiful a
thing, that use has such wondrous power over it, whether for good or
for evil; but mostly--perhaps because such is its original
nature--unto evil. Custom will harden the softest spirit to the
ice-brook's temper, and blind the clearest philosophic eye to all
discrimination, that things the most horrible to behold shall be
beheld with pleasure, and things the most unjust regarded as simple
justice, or, at least, as the inevitable course and pervading law of
nature. True as this is, in all respects, in none is it more clearly
or fatally discoverable than in every thing connected with what may be
called slavery, in the largest sense--including the subjugation, by
whatever means, not only of man to man, but even of animals to the
human race. In all such cases, it would appear that the hardening and
deteriorating influence of habit, and perhaps the unavoidable tendency
to believe every thing subordinate as in itself inferior, soon brings
the mind to regard the power to enforce and the capacity to perform,
as the rule of justice between the worker and the master.

The generally good and kind-hearted man, who has all his life been
used to see his beasts of burden dragging a few pounds' weight above
their proper and merciful load, soon comes to regard the extraordinary
measure as the proper burden, and to look upon the hapless brute,
which is pining away by inches, in imperceptible and insensible decay,
as merely performing the work, and filling the station, to perform and
fill which it was created. And so, and yet more fatally, as regards
the subjugation of man, or a class of men, to man. We commence by
degrading, and end by thinking of him as of one naturally degraded. We
reduce him to the standard and condition of a brute, then assume that
he is but a brute in feelings, intellect, capacity to acquire, and
thence argue--in the narrowest of circles--that being but a brute, it
is but right and natural to deal with him as what he is. Nor is this
tendency of the human mind limited in its operation to actual slavery;
but prevails, more or less, in relation to all servitude and
inferiority, voluntary or involuntary; so that many of the best, all
indeed but the very best, among us, come in the end to look upon all,
placed by circumstances and society in inferior positions, as
inferiors in very deed, and as naturally unequal to themselves in
every capacity, even that of enjoyment, and to regard them, in fact,
as a subordinate class of animals and beings of a lower range of

This again, still working in a circle, tends really to lower the
inferior person; and, by the tendency of association, the inferior
class; until degenerating still, as must occur, from sire to son,
through centuries, the race itself sinks from social into natural

This had already occurred in a very great degree in the Saxon serfs of
England, who had been slaves of Saxons, for many centuries, before the
arrival of the Norman conquerors. The latter made but small
distinction, in general, between the free-born and the slave of the
conquered race, but reduced them all to one common state of misery and
real or quasi-servitude--for many, who had once been land-holders and
masters, sunk into a state of want and suffering so pitiable and so
abject, that, generation succeeding generation with neither the means
nor the ambition to rise, they became almost undistinguishable from
the original serfs, and in many instances either sold themselves into
slavery to avoid actual starvation, or were seized and enslaved, in
defiance of all law, in the dark and troublous time which followed the
Norman conquest.

There being then two classes of serfs existing on British soil, though
not recognized as different by law, or in any wise differing in
condition, Kenric, himself descended in the third degree from a
freeman and landholder, exhibited a fair specimen at the first;
although it by no means followed of course that men in his relative
position were actually superior to the progeny of those, who could
designate no point before which their ancestors were free. And this
became evident, at once, to those who looked at the characters of
Kenric the Dark, and Eadwulf the Red, of whom the former was in all
respects a man of sterling qualities, frank, bold demeanor, and all
the finer characteristics of independent, hardy, English manhood;
while the second, though his own brother, was a rude, sullen,
thankless, spiritless, obstinate churl, with nothing of the man,
except his sordid, sensual appetites, and every thing of the beast,
except his tameless pride and indomitable freedom.

It was, therefore, even with one of the better class of these
unfortunate men, a matter of personal character and temper, whether he
retained something of the relative superiority he bore to his yet more
unfortunate companions in slavery, or whether he sank self-lowered to
their level. Nothing, it is true, had either to which he might aspire;
no hope of bettering his condition; no chance of rising in the scale
of humanity. Acts of emancipation, as rewards of personal service, had
been rare even among the Saxons, since, the utmost personal service
being due by the thrall to his lord, no act of personal service,
unless in most extreme cases, could be esteemed a merit; and such
serfs as owed their freedom to the voluntary commiseration of their
owners, owed it, in the great majority of cases, to their superstition
rather than to their mercy, and were liberated on the deathbed, when
they could serve their masters in no otherwise, than in becoming an
atonement for their sins, and smoothing their path through purgatory
to paradise.

With the Normans, the chance of liberation was diminished an
hundred-fold; for the degraded race, held in utter abhorrence and
contempt, and looked upon as scarce superior to the abject Jew, was
excluded from all personal contact with their haughty lords, who
rarely so much as knew them by sight or by name--was incapable of
serving them directly, in the most menial capacity--and, therefore,
could hardly, by the wildest good fortune, hope for a chance of
attracting even observation, much less such praise as would be like to
induce the high boon of liberty.

Again, on the deathbed, the Norman knight or noble, scarce
condescending to think of his serf as a human being, could never have
entertained so preposterous an idea, as that the better or worse
usage, nay! even the life or death of hundreds of these despised
wretches could weigh either for him or against him, before the throne
of grace. So that the deathbed emancipations, which had been so
frequent before the conquest, and which were recommended and
inculcated by abbots and prelates, while abbots and prelates were of
Saxon blood, as acts acceptable on high, now that the high clergy,
like the high barons of the realm, were strangers to the children of
the soil, had fallen into almost absolute disuse.

In fact, in the twelfth century, the Saxon serf-born man had little
more chance of acquiring his freedom, than an English peasant of the
present day has of becoming a temporal or spiritual peer of the realm;
and, lacking all object for emulation or exertion, these men too often
justified the total indifference with which they were looked upon by
the owners of the soil. This fact, or rather this condition of things
in their physical and moral aspect, has been dwelt upon, somewhat at
length, in order to show how it is possible that a gentleman of the
highest birth, of intellects, acquirements, ideas of justice and
right, vastly more correct than those entertained by the majority of
his caste--a gentleman, sensitive, courteous, kindly, the very mirror
of faith and honor--should have distorted devotion so noble, faith so
disinterested, a sense of honor so high, a piety so pure, as that
displayed by Kenric the Dark, in his refusal of the bright jewel
liberty, in his eloquent assertion of his rights, his sympathies, his
spiritual essence as a man, into an act of _outrecuidance_, almost
into a personal affront to his own dignity. Yet, so it was, and alas!
naturally so--for so little was he, or any of his fellows, used to
consider his serf in the light of an arguing, thinking, responsible
being, that probably Balaam was but little more astonished when his
ass turned round on him and spoke, than was Yvo de Taillebois, when
the serf of the soil stood up in his simple dignity as a man, and
refused to be free, unless those he loved, whom it was his duty to
support, cherish, shield, and comfort, might be free together with
him. Certain it is, that he left the cottage which he had entered
full of gratitude, and eager to be the bearer of good tidings,
disappointed, exasperated against Kenric, vexed that his endeavors to
prove his gratitude had been frustrated, and equally uncertain how he
should disclose the unwelcome tidings to his daughter, and how
reconcile to his host the conduct of the Saxon, which he had remained
in the hope of fathoming, and explaining to his satisfaction.

In truth, he felt himself indignant and wounded at the unreasonable
perduracy of the man, in refusing an inestimable boon, for what he
chose to consider a cause so trivial; and this, too, though had he
himself been in the donjon of the infidel, expecting momentary death
by the faggot or the rack, and been offered liberty, life, empire,
immortality, on condition of leaving the least-valued Christian woman
to the harem of the Mussulman, he would have spurned the offer with
his most arrogant defiance.

This seemed to him much as it would seem to the butcher, if the bull,
with the knife at his throat, were to speak up and refuse to live,
unless his favorite heifer might be allowed to share his fortunes. It
appeared to him wondrous, indeed, but wondrously annoying, and almost
absurd. In no respect did it strike him as one of the noblest and most
generous deeds of self-abandonment of which the human soul is capable;
though, had the self-same offer been spurned, as the slave spurned it,
and in the very words which he had found in the rude eloquence of
indignation, by belted knight or crowned king, he had unhesitatingly
styled it an action of the highest glory, and worthy of immortal
record in herald's tale or minstrel's story. Such is the weight of
circumstance upon the noblest minds of men.

With his brow bent, and his arms folded on his breast, moodily, almost
sorrowfully, did the good knight of Taillebois wend his way back
toward the towers of Waltheofstow, making no effort to overtake his
brother-in-arms and entertainer, whom he could clearly see stalking
along before him, in no more placable mood than himself, but burying
himself on his return in his own chamber, whence he made his
appearance no more that evening; though he might hear Sir Philip
storming through the castle, till the vaulted halls and passages
resounded from barbican to battlement.

Meantime, in the lowly cottage of the serf--for the lord, though angry
and indignant, had not failed of his plighted word--the lykewake of
the dead boy went on--for that was a Saxon no less than a Celtic
custom, though celebrated by the former with a sort of stolid decorum,
as different as night is from day from the loud and barbarous orgies
of their wilder neighbors.

The consecrated tapers blazed around the swathed and shrouded corpse,
and sent long streams of light through the open door and lattices of
the humble dwelling, as though it had been illuminated for a high
rejoicing. The death hymn was chanted, and the masses sung by the gray
brothers from the near Saxon cloister. The dole to the poor had been
given, largely, out of the lord's abundance; and the voices of the
rioting slaves, emancipated from all servitude and sorrow, for the
nonce, by the humming ale and strong metheglin, were loud in praises
of their bounteous master, until, drenched and stupefied with liquor,
and drunk with maudlin sorrow, they staggered off to their respective
dens, to snore away the fumes of their unusual debauch, until aroused
at dawn by the harsh cry of the task-master.

By degrees the quiet of the calm summer night sank down over the
dwelling and garden of Kenric, as guest after guest departed, until no
one remained save one old Saxon brother, who sat by the simple coffin,
telling his beads in silence, or muttering masses for the soul of the
dead, apparently unconscious of any thing passing around him.

The aged woman had been removed, half by persuasion, half by gentle
force, from the dwelling-room, and had soon sunk into the heavy and
lethargic slumber which oftentimes succeeds to overwhelming sorrow.
The peaceful moonlight streamed in through the open door of the
cheerless home, like the grace of heaven into a disturbed and sinful
heart, as one by one the tapers flickered in their sockets and
expired. The shrill cry of the cricket, and the peculiar jarring note
of the night-hawk, replaced the droning of the monkish chants, and the
suppressed tumult of vulgar revelry; but, though there was solitude
and silence without, there was neither peace nor heart-repose within.

Sorely shaken, and cruelly gored by the stag in trunk and limbs, and
yet more sorely shaken in his mind by the agitation and excitement of
the angry scene with his master, and by the internal conflict of
natural selfishness with strong conscientious will, Kenric lay, with
his eyes wide open, gazing on his dead nephew, although his mind was
far away, with his head throbbing, and his every nerve jerking and
tense with the hot fever.

But by his side, soothing his restless hand with her caressing touch,
bathing his burning temples with cold lotions, holding the soft
medicaments to his parched lips, beguiling his wild, wandering
thoughts with gentle lover's chidings, and whispering of better days
to come, sat the fair slave girl, Edith, his promised wife, for whose
dear sake he had cast liberty to the four winds, and braved the deadly
terrors of the unforgiving Norman frown.

She had heard enough, as she entered the house at that decisive
moment, to comprehend the whole; and, if the proud and high-born
knights were at a loss to understand, much less appreciate, the noble
virtue of the serf, the poor uneducated slave girl had seen and felt
it all--felt it thrill to her heart's core, and inspire her weakness
with equal strength, equal devotion.

She had argued, she had prayed, she had implored, clinging to his
knees, that for the love of Heaven, for the love of herself, he would
accept the boon of freedom, and leave her to her fate, which would be
sweeter far to her, she swore, from the knowledge of his prosperity,
than it could be rendered by the fruition of the greatest worldly
bliss. And then, when she found prayer and supplication fruitless,
she, too, waxed strong and glorious. She lifted her hand to heaven,
and swore before the blessed Virgin and her ever-living Son, that,
would he yield to her entreaties and be free, she would be true to
him, and to him alone, forever; but should he still persist in his
wicked and mad refusal of God's own most especial gift of freedom, she
would at least deprive him of the purpose of his impious resolution,
place an impenetrable barrier between them two, and profess herself
the bride of Heaven.

At length, as he only chafed and resisted more and more, till
resistance and fever were working almost delirium--any thing but
conviction and repentance--like a true woman, she betook herself from
argument, and tears, and supplication, to comforting, consoling, and
caressing; and, had the rage and fever of his body, or the terrible
excitement of his tortured mind, been less powerful, she could not but
have won the day, in the noblest of all strifes--the strife of mutual
disinterestedness and devotion.

    "O woman! in our hours of ease,
    Inconstant, coy, and hard to please;
    When pain and anguish rend the brow,
    A ministering angel thou!"



    "Four gray walls, and four square towers,
    Overlook a space of flowers,
    And the silent isle imbowers,
          The Lady of Shalott."


High up in the gray square tower, which constituted the keep of the
castle of Waltheofstow, there was a suite of apartments, the remains
of which are discoverable to this day, known as the Lady's Bower;
which had, it is probable, from the construction of the edifice, been
set apart, not only as the private chambers of the chatelaine and
ladies of the family, her casual guests and their attendants, but as
what we should now call the drawing-rooms, wherein the more social
hours of those rude days were passed, when the sexes intermingled,
whether for the enjoyment of domestic leisure, or for gayety and

The keep of Waltheofstow consisted, as did indeed all the smaller
fortalices of that date, when private dwellings, even of the great and
powerful, were constructed with a view to defense above all beside, of
one large massive building of an oblong square form, with a solid
circular buttress at each angle, which, above the basement floor, was
hollowed into a lozenge-shaped turret, extending above the esplanade
of the highest battlements, and terminating at a giddy height in a
crenellated and machicolated lookout, affording a shelter to the
sentries, and a flanking defense to the _corps de logis_.

For its whole height, from the guard-room, which occupied the whole
ground-floor, to the battlements, one of these turrets contained the
great winding stone staircase of the castle, lighted at the base by
mere shot-holes and loops, but, as it rose higher and higher above the
danger of escalade, by mullioned windows of increasing magnitude,
until, at the very summit, it was surmounted by a beautifully-wrought
lanthorn of Gothic stone-work. The other three, lighted in the same
manner, better and better as they ascended, formed each a series of
small pleasant rooms, opening upon the several stories, and for the
most part were fitted as the sleeping-rooms of the various officers.

The whole floor, first above the guard-room, was divided into the
kitchen, butteries, and household offices; while the next in order,
being the third in elevation above the court-yard, was reserved in one
superb parallelogram of ninety feet by sixty, well lighted by narrow
lanceolated windows, and adorned with armors of plate and mail,
scutcheons rich with heraldic bearings, antlers of deer and elk, horns
of the bull, yet surviving, of the great Caledonian forests, skulls of
the grizzly boars grinning with their ivory tusks, and banners
dependent from the lofty groinings of the arched roof, trophies of
many a glorious day. This was the knight's hall, the grand
banqueting-saloon of the keep; while of its three turrets, one was the
castle chapel, a second a smaller dining-hall, and the last the
private cabinet and armory of the castellan. Above this, again, on the
fourth plat, were bed-chambers of state, the larger armory, and the
dormitories of the warders, esquires, pages, and seneschal, who alone
dwelt within the keep, the rest of the garrison occupying the various
out-buildings and towers upon the flanking walls and ramparts.

The fifth story, at least a hundred feet in air above the inner court,
and nearly thrice that elevation above the base of the scarped mount
on which the castle stood, contained the Lady's bower; and its whole
area of ninety feet by sixty was divided, in the first instance,
laterally by three partitions, into three apartments, each sixty feet
in length by thirty wide. Of these, however, the first and last were
subdivided equally in two squares of thirty feet. The whole of the
bower, thus, contained a handsome ante-chamber, opening from the great
staircase, with a large room for the waiting-women to the right,
communicating with the turret chamber corresponding to the stairway.
Beyond the vestibule, by which access was had to it, lay the grand
ladies' hall, furnished with all the superabundance of splendor and
magnificence, and all the lack of real convenience, which was the
characteristic of the time; divans, and deep settles, and ponderous
arm-chairs covered with gold and velvet; embroideries and emblazoned
foot-cloths on the floor; mirrors of polished steel, emulating
Venetian crystals, on the walls; mighty candelabra of silver gilt;
tables of many kinds, some made for the convenience of long-forgotten
games, some covered with cups and vessels of gold, silver, and
richly-colored glass, and one or two, smaller, and set away in quiet
nooks, with easy seats beside them, showing the feminine character of
the occupants, by a lute, a gittern, and two or three other musical
implements long since fallen into disuse; pages of music written in
the old musical notation of the age; some splendidly-bound and
illuminated missals and romances, in priceless manuscript, each
actually worth its weight in gold; silks and embroideries; a
working-stand, with a gorgeous surcoat of arms half finished, the
needle sticking in the superb material where the fairy fingers had
left it, when last called from their gentle task; and great vases full
of the finest flowers of the season.

Such was the aspect of the room, beheld by the declining rays of the
sun, which had already sunk so low that his stray beams, instead of
falling downward through the gorgeous hues of the tinted-windows,
streamed upward into that lofty place, playing on the richly-carved
and gilded ceilings, catching here on a mirror, there on a vase of
gold or silver, and sending hundreds of burning specks of light
dancing through the motley haze of gold and purple, which formed the
atmosphere of that almost royal bower.

From this rich withdrawing-room, strangely out of place in appearance,
though not so in reality, in the old gray Norman fortress, among the
din of arms and flash of harness, opened two bed-rooms, equal in
costliness of decoration to the saloon without, each having its
massive four-post bedstead in a recess, accessible by three or four
broad steps, as if it were a throne of honor, each with its mirror and
toilet, its appurtenances for the bath, its easy couches, and its
chair of state; its _prie dieu_ and kneeling-hassock, in a niche,
with a perfumed lamp burning before a rudely-painted picture of the
Madonna, each having communication with a pretty turret-chamber,
fitted with couch and reading-desk, and opening on a bartizan or
balcony, which, though they were intended in times of war or danger
for posts of vantage to the defense, whence to shower missiles or pour
seething pitch or oil on the heads of assailants, were filled in the
pleasant days of peace with shrubs and flowers, planted in large tubs
and troughs, waving green and joyous, and filling the air with sweet
smells two hundred feet above their dewy birth-place.

It may be added, that so thick and massive were the walls at this
almost inaccessible height, that galleries had been, as it were,
scooped out of them, offering easy communication from one room to
another, and even private staircases from story to story, with secret
closets large enough for the accommodation of a favorite page or
waiting-damsel, where nothing of the sort would be expected, or could
indeed exist, within a modern dwelling.

Thus, the inconveniences of such an abode, all except the height to
which it was necessary for the female inmates to climb, were more
imaginary than real; and it was perfectly easy, and indeed usual, for
the ladies of such a castle to pass to and fro from the rooms of their
husbands, fathers, or brothers, and even from the knights' hall to
their own bower, without meeting any of the retainers of the place,
except what may be called the peaceful and familiar servants of the

Through the thick-vaulted roofs of stone, which rendered every story
of the keep a separate fortress, no sound of arms, of revelry or riot,
could ascend to the region of the ladies; and if their comforts were
inferior to those of our modern beauties, their magnificence, their
splendor of costume, of equipage, of followings, their power at home,
and their influence abroad, where they shone as "Queens of Love and
Beauty," were held the arbiters of fame and dispensers of honor, where
their smiles were held sufficient guerdon for all wildest feats of
bravery, their tears expiable by blood only, their importance in the
outer world of arms, of romance, of empire, were at the least as far
superior; and it may be doubted, whether some, even the most spoiled
of our modern fair ones, would not sigh to exchange, with the dames
and demoiselles of the twelfth century, their own soft empire of the
ball-room for the right to hold Courts of Love, as absolute
unquestioned sovereigns, to preside at tilt and tournament, and send
the noblest and the most superb of champions into mortal combat, or
yet more desperate adventure, by the mere promise of a sleeve, a
kerchief, or a glove.

She, however, who now occupied alone the Lady's Bower of Waltheofstow
was none of your proud and court-hardened ladies, who could look with
no emotion beyond a blush of gratified vanity on the blood of an
admirer or a lover. Though for her, young as she was, steeds had been
spurred to the shock, and her name shouted among the splintering of
lances and the crash of mortal conflict, she was still but a simple,
amiable, and joyous child, who knew more of the pleasant fields and
waving woodlands of her fair lake-country, than of the tilt-yard, the
court pageant, or the carousal, and who better loved to see the
heather-blossom and the blue-bell dance in the free air of the breezy
fells, than plumes and banners flaunt and flutter to the blare of

The only child of Sir Yvo de Taillebois, a knight and noble of the
unmixed Norman blood, a lineal descendant of one of those hardy barons
who, landing with Duke William on his almost desperate emprise, had
won "the bloody hand" at Hastings, and gained rich lands in the
northern counties during the protracted struggle which ensued, the
Lady Guendolen had early lost her mother, a daughter of the noble
house of Morville, and not a very distant relative of the good knight,
Sir Philip, whose hospitality she was now partaking with her father.

To a girl, for the most part, the loss of a mother, before she has
reached the years of discretion, is one never to be repaired, more
especially where the surviving parent is so much occupied with duties,
martial or civil, as to render his supervision of her bringing-up
impossible. It is true that, in the age of which I write, the
accomplishments possessed by the most delicate and refined of ladies
were few and slight, as compared to those now so sedulously inculcated
to our maidens, so regularly abandoned by our matrons; and that, at a
period later by several centuries, he who has been styled, by an
elegant writer,[3] the last of the Norman barons, great Warwick the
Kingmaker, held it a boast that his daughters possessed no arts, no
knowledge, more than to spin and to be chaste.

          [3] Sir E. Lytton Bulwer.

Yet even this small list of feminine attainments was far beyond the
teaching of the illiterate and warlike barons, who knew nought of the
pen, save when it winged the gray-goose shaft from the trusty yew, and
whose appropriate and ordinary signatures were the impress of their
sword-hilts on the parchments, which they did not so much as pretend
to read; and, in truth, the Kingmaker's statement must either be
regarded as an exaggeration, or the standard of female accomplishment
had degenerated, as is not unlikely to have been actually the case,
during the cruel and devastating wars of the Roses, which, how little
soever they may have affected the moral, political, or agricultural
condition of the English people at large, had unquestionably dealt a
blow to the refinement, the courtesy, the mental culture, and personal
polish of the English aristocracy, from which they began only to
recover in the reigns of the later Tudors.

But in the case of the fair Guendolen, neither did the loss of her
mother deprive her of the advantages of her birth, nor would the
incapacity of her father, had the occasion been allowed him of
superintending the culture of his child, have done so; for he was--at
that day rarer in England than was a wolf, though literary culture had
received some impulse from the present monarch, and his yet more
accomplished father, Beauclerc--a man of intellectual ability, and not
a little cultivation.

He had been largely employed by both princes on the continent, in
diplomatic as well as military capacities; had visited Provence, the
court of poetry and minstrelsy, and the _gai science_; had dwelt
in the Norman courts of Italy, and even in Rome herself, then the seat
of all the rising schools of literature, art, and science; and while
acquiring, almost of necessity, the tongues of southern Europe, had
both softened and enlarged his mind by not a few of their acquirements.
Of this advantage, however, it was only of late years, when she was
bursting into the fairest dawn of adolescence, that she had been
permitted to profit; for, between her fifth and her fifteenth years,
she had seen but little of her father, who, constantly employed, either
as a statesman at home, an embassador abroad, or a conquering invader
of the wild Welsh marches, or the wilder and more barbarous shores of
Ireland, had rarely been permitted to call a day his own, much less to
devote himself to those home duties and pleasures for which he was,
beyond doubt, more than ordinarily qualified.

Yet, however unfortunate she might have been in this particular, she
had been as happy in other respects, and had been brought up under
circumstances which had produced no better consequences on her head
than on her heart, on the graces of her mind and body, than on the
formation of her feminine and gentle character.



    "The sweetest lady of the time,--
    Well worthy of the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid."


A sister of Guendolen's departed mother, Abbess of St. Hilda, a woman
of unusual intellect, and judgment, character and feelings, in no
degree inferior to her talents, had taken charge of her orphan niece
immediately after the mother's death, and had brought her up, a flower
literally untouched by the sun as by the storms of the world, in the
serene and tranquil life of the cloister, when the cloister was indeed
the seat of piety, and purity, and peace; in some cases the only
refuge from the violence and savage lusts of those rugged days; never
then the abode, at least in England, of morose bigotry or fierce
fanaticism, but the home of quiet contemplation, of meek virtue, and
peaceful cheerfulness.

The monasteries and priories of those days were not the sullen gaols
of the soul, the hives of drones, or the schools of ignorance and
bitter sectarian persecution which they have become in these latter
days, nor were their inmates then immured as the tenants of the
dungeon cell.

The abbey lands were ever the best tilled; the abbey tenants ever the
happiest, the best clad, the richest, and the freest of the peasantry
of England. The monks, those of Saxon race especially, were the
country curates of the twelfth century; it was they who fed the
hungry, who medicined the sick, who consoled the sad at heart, who
supported the widow and the fatherless, who supported the oppressed,
and smoothed the passage through the dark portals to the dying
Christian. There were no poor laws in those days, nor alms-houses; the
open gates and liberal doles of the old English abbeys bestowed
unstinted and ungrudging charity on all who claimed it. The abbot on
his soft-paced palfrey, or the prioress on her well-trained jennet, as
they made their progresses through the green fields and humble hamlets
of their dependents, were hailed ever with deferential joy and
affectionate reverence; and the serf, who would lout sullenly before
the haughty brow of his military chief, and scowl savagely with hand
on the dudgeon hilt after he had ridden past, would run a mile to
remove a fallen trunk from the path of the jolly prior, or three, to
guide the jennet of the mild-eyed lady abbess through the difficult
ford, or over the bad bit of the road, and think himself richly paid
by a benediction.

In such a tranquil tenor had been passed the early years of the
beautiful young Guendolen; and while she learned every accomplishment
of the day--for in those days the nunneries were the schools of all
that was delicate, and refined, and gentle, the schools of the softer
arts, especially of music and illumination, as were the monasteries
the shrines which alone kept alive the fire of science, and nursed the
lamp of letters, undying through those dark and dreary ages--she
learned also to be humble-minded, no less than holy-hearted, to be
compassionate, and kind, and sentient of others' sorrows; she learned,
above all things, that meekness and modesty, and a gentle bearing
toward the lowliest of her fellow-beings, were the choicest ornaments
to a maiden of the loftiest birth.

Herself a Norman of the purest Norman strain, descended from those of
whom, if not kings themselves, kings were descended, who claimed to be
the peers of the monarchs to whom their own good swords gave royalty,
she had never imbibed one idea of scorn for the conquered, the
debased, the downfallen Saxon.

The kindest, the gentlest, the sagest, and at the same time the most
refined and polished of all her preceptors, her spiritual pastor also,
and confessor, was an old Saxon monk, originally from the convent of
Burton on the Trent, who had migrated northward, and pitched the tent
of his declining years in a hermitage situate in the glade of a deep
Northumbrian wood, not far removed from the priory over which her aunt
presided with so much dignity and grace.

He had been a pilgrim, a prisoner in the Holy Land, had visited the
wild monasteries of Lebanon and Athos; he had seen the pyramids
"piercing the deep Egyptian sky," had mused under the broken arches of
the Coliseum, and listened, like the great historian of Rome, to the
bare-footed friars chanting their hymns among the ruins of Jupiter

Like Ulysses, he had seen the lands, he had studied the manners, and
learned to speak the tongues, of many men and nations; nor, while he
had learned in the east strange mysteries of science, though he had
solved the secrets of chemistry, and learned, long before the birth of
"starry Galileo," to know the stars with their uprisings and their
settings; though he knew the nature, the properties, the secret
virtues, and the name of every floweret of the forest, of every ore of
the swart mine, he had not neglected the gentler culture, which
wreathes so graciously the wrinkled brow of wisdom. Not a poet
himself, so far as the weaving the mysterious chains of rhythm, he was
a genuine poet of the heart. Not a blush, not a smile, not a tear, not
a frown on the lovely face of nature, but awakened a response in his
large and sympathetic soul; not an emotion of the human heart, from
the best to the basest, but struck within him some chord of deep and
hidden feeling; to read an act of self-devoted courage, of charity, of
generosity, of self-denial, would make his flesh quiver, his hair
rise, his cheek burn. To hear of great deeds would stir him as with
the blast of a war trumpet. He was one, in fact, of those gifted
beings who could discern

                "Music in running brooks,
    Sermons in stones, and good in every thing;"

and as he felt himself, so had he taught her to feel; and of what he
knew himself, much he had taught her to know likewise.

Seeing, hearing, knowing him to be what he was, and, as is the wont
ever with young and ingenuous minds, imagining him to be something far
wiser, greater, and better than he really was, she was content at
first, while other men were yet unknown to her, to hold him something
almost supernaturally, ineffably beneficent and wise; and this
incomparable being she knew also to be a Saxon. She saw her aunt, who,
gentle as she was, and gracious, had yet a touch of the old Norse
pride of blood, untutored by the teachings of religion, and untamed by
the discipline of the church, bow submissively to his advice, defer
respectfully to his opinion, hang persuaded on his eloquence--and yet
he was a Saxon.

When she burst from girlhood into womanhood--when her father, returned
from the honors and the toils of foreign service, introduced her into
the grand scenes of gorgeous chivalry and royal courtesy, preparatory
to placing her at the head of his house--though she mingled with the
paladins and peers of Normandy and Norman England, she saw not one who
could compare in wisdom, in eloquence, in all that is highest and most
heaven-reaching in the human mind, with the old Saxon, Father Basil.

How then could she look upon the race from which he sprang as
inferior--as low and degraded by the hand of nature--when not the
sagest statesman, the most royal prince, the proudest chevalier, the
gentlest troubadour, could vie with him in one point of intellect or
of refinement--with him, the Saxon priest, son himself, as he himself
had told her, of a Saxon serf.

These were the antecedents, this the character of the beautiful girl,
who, on the morning following her adventure in the forest, lay,
supported by a pile of cushions, on one of the broad couches in the
Lady's Bower of Waltheofstow, inhaling the fresh perfumed breath of
the western air, as it swept in, over the shrubs and flowers in the
bartizan, through the window of the turret chamber. She was beautiful
as ever, but very pale, and still suffering, as it would seem, from
the effects of her fall and the injuries she had received in the
struggle with the terrible wild beast; for, whenever she attempted to
move or to turn her body, an expression of pain passed for a moment
across the pure, fair face, and once a slight murmur escaped from her
closed lips.

One or two waiting-maids, of Norman race, attended by the side of her
couch, one of them cooling her brow with a fan of peacock's feathers,
the other sprinkling perfumes through the chamber, and now and again
striving to amuse her by reading aloud from a ponderous illuminated
tome, larger than a modern cyclopedia, the interminable adventures and
sufferings of that true love, whose "course never did run smooth," and
feats of knightly prowess, recorded in one of the interminable
romances of the time. But to none of these did the Lady Guendolen
seriously incline her ear; and the faces of the attendant girls began
to wear an expression, not of weariness only, but of discontent, and,
perhaps, even of a deeper and bitterer feeling.

The Lady Guendolen was ill at ease; she was, most rare occurrence for
one of her soft though impulsive disposition, impatient, perhaps

She could not be amused by any of their efforts. Her mind was far
away; she craved something which they could not give, and was restless
at their inability. Three times since her awakening, though the hour
was still early, she had inquired for Sir Yvo, and had sent to desire
his presence. The first time, her messengers brought her back word
that he had not yet arisen; the second, that he was breakfasting, but
now, in the knight's hall with Sir Philip, and the Sieurs of
Maltravers, De Vesey, and Mauleverer, who had ridden over to
Waltheofstow to fly their hawks, and that he would be with her ere
long; and the third, that the good knight must have forgotten, for
that he had taken horse and ridden away with the rest of the company
into the meadows by the banks of brimful Idle, to enjoy the "Mystery
of Rivers," as it was the fashion to term the sport of falconry, in
the high-flown language of the chase.

For a moment her pale face flushed, her eye flashed, and she bit her
lip, and drummed impatiently with her little fingers on the
velvet-pillows which supported her aching head; then, smiling at her
own momentary ill-humor, she bade her girl Marguerite go seek the
Saxon maiden, Edith, if she were in the castle, and if not, to see
that a message should be sent down for her to the serfs' quarter.

With many a toss of her pretty head, and many a wayward feminine
expression of annoyance, which from ruder lips would probably have
taken the shape of an imprecation, the injured damsel betook herself,
through winding passages and stairways in the thickness of the wall,
to the pages' waiting-chamber on the next floor below. Then tripping,
with a demure look, into the square vaulted room, in which were
lounging three gayly-dressed, long-haired boys, one twanging a guitar
in the embrasure of the window, and the other two playing at tables on
a board covered with a scarlet cloth--

"Here, Damian," she said, somewhat sharply, for the temper of the
mistress is sure to be reflected in that of the maid, losing nothing
by the transmission, "for what are you loitering there, with that old
tuneless gittern, when the Lady Guendolen has been calling for you
this hour past?"

"And how, in the name of St. Hubert," replied the boy, who had rather
been out with the falconers on the breezy leas, than mewed in the hall
to await a lady's pleasure--"how, in the name of St. Hubert! should I
know that the Lady Guendolen had called for me, when no one has been
near this old den since Sir Yvo rode forth on brown Roncesval, with
Diamond on his fist? And as for my gittern being tuneless, I've heard
you tell a different tale, pretty Mistress Marguerite. But let us have
your message, if you've got one; for I see you're as fidgety as a
thorough-bred sorrel filly, and as hot-tempered, too."

"Sorrel filly, indeed!" said the girl, half-laughing, half-indignant.
"I wish you could see my lady, Damian, if you call me fidgety and
hot-tempered. I wish you could see my lady, that's just all, this

"The message, the message, Marguerite, if there be one, or if you have
aught in your head but to make mischief."

"Why, I do believe my lady's bewitched since her fall; for nothing
will go down with her now-a-days but that pink-and-white,
flaxen-haired doll, Edith. I can't think what she sees in her, that
she must needs ever have the clumsy Saxon wench about her. I should
think gentle Norman blood might serve her turn."

"I don't know, Marguerite," answered the boy, wishing to tease her;
"Edith is a very pretty girl, indeed; I don't know but she's the very
prettiest I ever saw. Dark-haired and dark-eyed people always admire
their opposites, they say; and for my part, I think her blue eyes
glance as if they reflected heaven's own light in them; and her
flaxen-hair looks like a cloud high up in heaven, that has just caught
the first golden glitter of the morning sunbeams. And clumsy! how can
you call her clumsy, Marguerite? I am sure, when she came flitting
down the hill, with her long locks flowing in the breeze, and her thin
garments streaming back from her shapely figure, she looked liker to a
creature of the air, than to a mere mortal girl, running down a sandy
road. I should like to see you run like her, Mistress Marguerite."

"Me run!" exclaimed the Norman damsel, indignantly; "when ever did you
see a Norman lady _run_? But you're just like the rest of them;
caught ever by the first fresh face. Well, sir, since you're so
bewitched, like my pretty lady above stairs, with your Saxon angel,
the message I have brought you will just meet your humor. You will
see, sir, if this Saxon angel be in the castle, sir; and if she be
not, sir, your magnificence will proceed to the Saxon quarter, and
request her angelship to come forthwith to my lady's chamber, and to
come quickly, too. And you can escort her, Sir Page, and lend her your
hand up the hill; and steal a kiss, if you can, Sir Page, on the way!"

"Just so, Mistress Marguerite," returned the boy, "just so. Your
commands shall be obeyed to the letter. And as to the kiss, I'll try,
if I can get a chance; but I'm afraid she's too modest to kiss young

And, taking up his dirk and bonnet from the board, he darted out of
the room, without awaiting her reply, having succeeded, to his heart's
content, in chafing her to somewhat higher than blood-heat; so that
she returned to her lady's bower even more discomposed than when she
left it; but Guendolen was too much occupied with other thoughts to
notice the girl's ill-temper, and within half an hour a light foot was
heard at the door, and the Saxon slave girl entered.

"How can I serve you, dear lady?" she said, coming up, and kneeling at
the couch side. "You are very pale. I trust you be not the worse this

"Very weak, Edith, and sore all over. I feel as if every limb were
broken; and I want you, with your gentle hand and gentle voice, to
soothe me."

"Ah! dearest lady, our Holy Mother send that your spirit never may be
so sore as to take no heed of the body's aching, nor your heart so
broken as to know not whether your limbs were torn asunder."



    "Weep not for him that dieth,
      For his struggling soul is free,
    And the world from which it flieth
      Is a world of misery;
    But weep for him that weareth
      The collar and the chain;
    To the agony he beareth,
      Death were but little pain."


"What mean you, Edith?" inquired the girl, raising herself from her
pillow, as her attention was called to the unusually subdued tones of
the Saxon maiden, who was, in her ordinary mood, so gay and joyous,
and who appeared to be the general favorite of all around her; "what
mean you, Edith?" she repeated; "you can not be speaking of yourself;
you, who are ever blithesome and light-hearted as the bee on the
blossom, or the bird on the bough. You can have no sorrows of the
heart, I think, so penetrating as to make all outward bodily pains
forgotten, and yet--you are pale, you are weeping? Tell me, girl--tell
me, dear Edith, and let me be your friend."

"Friend! lady," said the girl, looking at her wistfully, yet
doubtfully withal; "you _my_ friend, noble lady! That were indeed
impossible. I will not say, that to the poor, to the Saxon, to the
_slave_, there can be _no_ friend, under heaven; but that you--you,
a noble and a Norman! Alas! alas! that were indeed impossible!"

"Impossible!" cried Guendolen, eagerly, forgetting her ailments in her
fine and feeling excitement. "Wherefore, how should it be impossible?
One God made us both, Edith; and made us both out of one clay, with
one life here on earth, and one hereafter; both children of one fallen
race, and heirs of one promise; both daughters of one fair, free land;
both Englishwomen--then why not friends, Edith, and sisters?"

"Of one land, lady, it is true," said the girl, gently. "Yes!
daughters of one _fair_ land, for even to the slave England is
very beautiful and dear, even as to you she is _free_. But for
us, who were once her first-born and her favorites, that magic word
has passed away, that charm has ceased, forever. For us, in free
England's wide-rejoicing acres, there is no spot free, save the six
feet of earth that shall receive our bodies, when the soul shall be a
slave's no longer. Lady, lady, alas! noble lady, if one God made us
both of one clay, that shall go downward to mingle with the common
sod, and of one spirit that shall mount upward, when the weariness and
woe shall be at an end forever, man has set a great gulf between us,
that we can not pass over it at all, to come the one unto the other.
Our wants may be the same, while we are here below, and our hopes may
be the same heavenward; but there all sameness ends between us. My
joys can not be your joys, and God forbid that my sorrows should be
yours, either. Our hearts may not feel, our heads may not think, in
unison, even if our flesh be of one texture, and our souls of one
spirit. You are good, and gentle, and kind, lady, but you may never
understand what it is to be such as I."

She ceased, but she ceased weeping also, and seemed lost in deep
thought, and almost forgetful of herself and her surroundings, as she
remained on her knees by the bedside of Guendolen, with her head
drooping from her fair bended neck, and her embrowned but shapely
hands folded in her lap.

The lady looked at her silently for a few moments, partly in sympathy,
partly, it must be said, in wonder. New ideas were beginning to be
awakened in her mind, and a perception of something, which had never
before dawned upon her, became palpable and strong.

That which we behold, and have beheld daily perhaps for years,
naturally becomes so usual and customary in our eyes, that we cease to
regard it as any thing but as a fact, of which we have never seen and
scarcely can conceive any thing to the contrary--that we look at it as
a part of that system which we call nature, and of which we never
question the right or the wrong, the injustice or the justice, but,
knowing that it _is_, never think of inquiring wherefore it is,
and whether it ought to be.

Thus it was with Guendolen de Taillebois. She had been accustomed,
during all her life, to see Saxons as serfs, and rarely in any other
capacity; for the franklins and thanes who had retained their
independence, their freedom, and a portion of their ancestral acres,
were few in numbers, and held but little intercourse with their Norman
neighbors, being regarded by them as rude and semi-barbarous
inferiors, while they, in turn, regarded them as cruel and insolent
usurpers and oppressors.

She had seen these serfs, rudely attired indeed, and employed in
rugged, laborious, and menial occupations; but, then, it was clear
that their boorish demeanor, stolid expression, and apparent lack of
capacity or intelligence for any superior employment, seemed to
indicate them as persons filling the station in society for which
nature had adapted them. Well-clad, sufficiently clothed, warmly
lodged--in all outward things perhaps equal, if not superior, to the
peasantry of most European countries in the present day--never, except
in extreme and exceptional cases, cruelly or severely treated, since
it was ever the owner's interest to regard the well-doing of his
serfs, it had never occurred to her that the whole race was in itself,
from innate circumstances, and apart from extraordinary sorrows or
sufferings, hopeless, miserable, and conscious of unmerited but
irretrievable degradation.

Had she considered the subject, she would of course have perceived and
admitted that sick or in health, sorrowful or at ease, to be compelled
to toil on, toil on, day after day, wearily, at the bidding and for
the benefit of another, deriving no benefit from that toil beyond a
mere subsistence, was an unhappy and forlorn condition. Yet, how many
did she not see of her own conquering countrymen of the lower orders,
small landholders in the country, small artisans and mechanics in the
boroughs, reduced to the same labors, and nearly to the same

With the personal condition or habits of the serfs, the ladies and
even the lords of the great Norman families had little acquaintance,
little means even of becoming acquainted. The services of their
fortalices, all but those menial and sordid offices of which those
exalted persons had no cognizance, were discharged by domestics,
higher or lower in grade, the highest being of gentle blood, and, in
very noble houses, even of noble blood, of their own proud race; and
the Saxons, whether bond-servants of the soil, or, what was of rare
occurrence at that time, free tenants on man service, were employed in
the fields or in the forest, under the bailiff or overseer, who ruled
them at his own discretion, and punished them, if punishment were
needed, with the stocks, the gyves, or the scourge, without consulting
the lord, and of course without so much as the knowledge of the lady.

Even if, by hazard, it did reach the dainty ears of some fair
chatelaine, that Osrick or Edmund had undergone the lash for some
misdoing or short-coming, she heard of it much as a modern lady would
read of the committal of a pickpocket or drunkard to the treadmill, or
of a vagrant hussy to pick hemp; wondering why those low creatures
would do such wicked things, and sorrowfully musing why such
punishments should be necessary--never suspecting the injustice of the
law, or doubting the necessity of the punishment.

And eminently thus it was with Guendolen. While in her good aunt's
priory, she had ever seen the serfs of the church well looked after,
well doing, not overworked, not oppressed, cared for if sick,
comforted if sorrowing, well tended in age, a contented if not a happy
race, so far as externals only were regarded, and nothing hitherto had
led her to look farther than to externals. On her father's princely
barony she saw even less of them than she had been accustomed to do at
the priory, passing them casually only when in the fields at
hay-making or harvest work, or pausing perhaps to observe a
rosy-cheeked child in the Saxon quarter, or to notice a cherry-lipped
maiden by the village well. But here, too, so far as she did see, she
saw them neither squalid nor starved, neither miserable nor
maltreated. No acts of tyranny or cruelty reached her ears, perhaps
none happened which should reach them; and of the rigorous,
oppressive, insolent, and cruel laws which regulated their condition,
controlled their progress, prevented their rise in the social scale,
fettered and cramped their domestic relations, she knew nothing.

Since her sojourn at Waltheofstow, she had gained more personal
acquaintance with her down-trodden Saxon countrymen and countrywomen,
and more especially since her accident in the forest, than in all her
previous life.

For, in the first place, Sir Philip de Morville, being unmarried and
without female relations in his family, had no women of Norman blood
employed as attendants or domestics in the castle, the whole work of
which was performed by serf girls of various degrees, under the
superintendence of an emancipated Saxon dame, who presided over what
we should now call the housekeeper's department. Of these girls,
Edith, and one or two others, Elgythas, Berthas, and the like,
ministered to the Lady's Bower, and having perhaps contracted
something of unusual refinement and expression from a nearer
attendance on the more courtly race, and especially on the Norman
ladies who at times visited the castle, presented, it is certain,
unusually favorable specimens of the Saxon peasantry, and had
attracted the attention of Guendolen in a greater degree than any
Saxons she had previously encountered.

Up to that time, she had regarded them, certainly, on the whole, as a
slow, as a somewhat stolid, impassive, and unimpassioned race, less
mercurial than her own impetuous, impulsive kindred, and far less
liable to strong emotions or keen perceptions, whether of pain or
pleasure. The girlish liveliness and gentleness, and even the untaught
graces of Edith had, at the first, attracted her; and, as she was
thrown a good deal into contact with her, from the fact of her
constant attendance on the chambers she occupied, she had become much
interested in her, regarding her as one of the happiest, most artless,
and innocent little girls she had ever met--one, she imagined, on whom
no shadow of grief had ever fallen, and whose humble lot was one of
actual contentment, if not of positive enjoyment.

Nor, hitherto, insomuch as actual realities were concerned, was
Guendolen much in error. Sir Philip de Morville, as has been stated
already, was, according to the times and their tenor, a good and
considerate lord. His bailiff was a well-intentioned, strict man,
intent on having his master's work done to the last straw, but beyond
that neither an oppressor nor a tyrant. Kenric, her distant kinsman
and betrothed, was confessedly the best man and most favored servant
in the quarter; and his mother, who had grown old in the service of
Sir Philip's father, whom she had nursed with simple skill through the
effects of many a mimic battle in the lists, or real though scarce
more dangerous fray, now superannuated, reigned as much the mistress
of her son's hearth as though she had been a free woman, and the cot
in which she dwelt her freehold.

Edith herself was the first bower-maiden of the castle, and, safe
under the protecting wings of dame Ulrica, the housewife, defied the
impertinence of forward pages, the importunate gallantry of esquires,
and was cheerfully acknowledged as the best and prettiest lass of the
lot, by the old gray-haired seneschal, in his black velvet suit and
gold chain of office.

Really, therefore, none of her own immediate family had known any
actual wants, or suffered any material hardships or sorrows, through
their condition, up to the period at which my tale commences. Their
greatest care, perhaps, had arisen from the temper, surly, rude,
insolent, and provocative, of Eadwulf the Red, Kenric's brother, who
had already, by misconduct, and even actual crime, according to the
Norman code, subjected himself to severe penalties, and been reduced,
in default of harsher treatment, to the condition of a mere slave, a
chattel, saleable like an ox or ass, at the pleasure of their lord.

This, both in its actual sense, as keeping them in constant
apprehension of what further distress Eadwulf's future misconduct
might bring upon them, and in its moral bearing, as holding them
constantly reminded of their own servile condition, had been, thus
far, their prime grief and cause of complaint, had they been persons
given to complain.

Still, although well-nigh a century had elapsed since the Norman
Conquest, and the heir of the Conqueror in the fourth generation was
sitting on the throne which that great and politic prince won on the
fatal day of Hastings, their condition had not become habitual or easy
to those, at least, who had been reduced to slavery from freedom, by
the consequences of that disastrous battle. And such was the condition
of the family whence sprang Kenric and Edith. The Saxon thane,
Waltheof, whose name and that of his abode had descended to the Norman
fortalice which had arisen from the ashes of his less aspiring manor,
had resisted the Norman invaders so long, with such inveterate and
stubborn valor, and, through the devotion of his tenants and
followers, with such cost of life, that when he fell in fight, and his
possessions were granted to his slayer, all the dwellers on his lands
were involved in the common ruin.

To the serfs of the soil, who had been serfs before the conquest, it
mattered but little. The slave to the Saxon was but changed into the
slave of the Norman, and did not perhaps find in him a crueller,
though he might a haughtier and more overbearing master. But to the
freeman, the doom which consigned him to the fetters of the Norman,
which converted him from the owner into the serf of the soil, was
second only, if second, to the bitterness of death. And such had been
the doom of the grandfather of Kenric and Eadwulf.

Their mother herself had been born free, not far from the hovel in
which she still dwelt a slave, though she was but an infant when the
hurricane of war and ruin swept over the green oaks of Sherwood, and
had no memory of the time when she was not the thrall of a foreign
lord. Her father, Wulfred, was the largest tenant under Waltheof,
himself a franklin, or small landholder, and of blood as noble, and
station more elevated than that of one half the adventurers who had
flocked to the banner of William the invader. With his landlord and
friend, he had fought to the last, not at Hastings only, but in every
bloody ineffectual rising, until the last spark of Saxon liberty was
trampled out under the iron hoofs of the Norman war-horse; but, less
happy than Waltheof, he had survived to find himself a slave, and the
father of slaves, tilling for a cruel foreign conqueror the land which
had been his own and his father's, and his father's father's, but in
which he and his heirs should have no heritage for evermore, beyond
the six-foot measure which should be meted to them every one, for his
long home.

And the memory of these things had not yet passed away, nor the
bitterness of the iron departed from the children, which had then
entered into the soul of the parent.

An irrepressible desire came over the mind of Guendolen, to know and
comprehend something more fully the sentiments and sorrows of the girl
who had nursed and attended her so gently since her adventure with the
stag; and perceiving intuitively that the slave girl, who, strange as
it appeared to her, seemed to have a species of pride of her own,
would not reveal her inward self in the presence of the vain and
flippant Norman waiting girls, she hastened to dismiss them, without
wounding their self-esteem, on a pretext of which they would be
willing enough to avail themselves.

"Lilian and Marguerite," she said, "you must be weary my good girls,
with watching me through this long night and my peevish temper must
have made you yet more weary, for I feel that I am not myself, and
that I have tried your patience. Go, therefore, now, and get some
repose, that when I shall truly need your services again, you may be
well at ease to serve me. I feel as if I could sleep now; and while I
slumber, Edith, here, can watch beside me, and drive away the gnats
with her fan, as well as a more experienced bower-woman."

Whether the girls suspected or not that their mistress desired to be
rid of them, they were not sorry to be dismissed from attendance on
her couch; and whether they proposed to devote the opportunity to
repose, or to gay flirtation with the pages of their own lord's or of
Sir Philip's household, they withdrew at once, leaving the lady gazing
fixedly on the motionless and hardly conscious figure of the slave

By a sudden impulse she passed her small white hand caressingly over
the soft and abundant tresses of Edith's fair hair; and so unusual was
the sensation to the daughter of the downfallen race, that she
started, as if a blow had been dealt her, and blushed crimson, between
surprise and wonder, as she raised her great blue eyes wide open to
the face of the young lady.

"And is it so hard?" she asked, in reference more to what she
understood Edith to mean, than to any thing she had spoken, or even
hinted--"is it so hard, my poor child? I had thought that your lot sat
as lightly on you as the dew-drop in the chalice of the bluebell. I
had fancied you as happy as any one of us here below. Will you not
tell me what is this sorrow which weighs on you so heavily? It may be
I can do something to relieve it."

"Lady, I am, as you know, a Saxon, and a slave, the daughter of a
slave, and, should it ever be my lot to wed, the wife, to be, of a
serf, a bondman of the soil, and the mother of things doomed, or ere
they see the blessed light of Heaven, to the collar and the chain from
the cradle to the grave. Think you a woman, with such thoughts as
these at her heart, can be very gay or joyous?"

"And yet, you were both gay and joyous yesterday, Edith; and all last
week, since I have been at the castle, I have heard no sounds so gay
or so pleasant to my ear as your merry ballads. And you are no more a
serf this morn than you were yestrene, and the good God alone knows
what any of us all may be on the morrow, Edith. Something, I know,
must have happened, girl, to make you wear a face so altered on this
beautiful summer day, and carry so sad a heart, when all the world is
so happy."

"All the world, lady!" replied Edith; "all the world happy! Alas! not
one tenth of it, unless you mean the beasts and the birds, which,
knowing nothing, are blithe in their happy innocence. Of the human
world around us, lady, one half knows not, and more by far than one
half cares not, how miserable or how hopeless are their fellows--nor,
if all knew and cared for all, could they either comprehend or
console, much less relieve, the miserable."

"But if I be one of those, Edith, who know not, I am at least not one
of those who care not. Therefore, I come back to the place whence I
started. Something has happened, which makes you dwell so much more
dolefully to-day, upon that which weighed not on you, yestrene,
heavier than a feather."

"Something _has_ happened, lady. But it is all one; for it resolves
itself in all but into this; I am a slave--a slave, until life is

"This is strange," said Guendolen, thoughtfully. "I do not
understand--_may_ not understand this. It does not seem to me
that your duties are so very hard, your life so very painful, or your
rule so very strict, that you should suddenly thus give way to utter
gloom and despondency, for no cause but what you have known for years,
and found endurable until this moment."

"But henceforth unendurable. Oh! talk not, lady, talk not. You may
console the dying, for to him there is a hope, a present hope of a
quick-coming future. But comfort not the slave; for to him the
bitterest and most cruel past is happier than the hopeless present, if
only for that it is past; and the present, hopeless as it is, is yet
less desperate than the future; for to the slave, in the future, every
thing except happiness is possible. I may seem to speak enigmas to
you, lady, and I am sure that you do not understand me--how should
you? None but a slave can know or imagine what it is to be a slave;
none can conceive what a slave feels, thinks, suffers. And yet a slave
is a man, after all; and a lord is no more than a man, while
living--and yet, what a gulf between them!"

"And you will not tell me, Edith," persisted the Lady Guendolen, "you
will not tell me what it is that has happened to you of late, which
makes you grieve so despondently, thus on a sudden, over your
late-endured condition? Then you must let me divine it. You have
learned your own heart of late. You have discovered that you love,

"And if it were so, lady," replied the girl, darkly, "were not that
enough to make a woman, who is at once a Christian and a slave, both
despond and despair? First to love a slave--for to love other than a
slave, being herself a slave were the same, as for a mortal to be
enamored of a star in heaven--and then, even if license were granted
to wed him she loved, which is not certain or even of usual
occurrence, to be the mother of babes, to whom but one reality is
secured, beyond a peradventure, the reality that they too must be
slaves and wretched. But you are wrong, lady. I have not learned my
own heart of late--I have known it long. I have not discovered but now
that I love, nor has he whom I love. We have been betrothed this year
and better."

"What then? what then?" cried Guendolen, eagerly. "Will not Sir Philip
consent? If that be all, dry your tears, Edith; so small a boon as
that I can command by a single word."

"Sir Philip heeds not such matters, lady. His bailiff _has_ consented,
if that were all."

"What is it, then? This scruple about babes," said Guendolen,
thoughtfully. "It is sad--it is sad, indeed. Yet if you love
_him_, as you say, and your life in its actual reality be not so

"No, lady, no; it is not even that. If I had scruples on that head,
they have vanished; Kenric has convinced me----"

"Kenric!" exclaimed Guendolen, starting erect into a sitting attitude,
forgetful of her pains and bruises. "What, the brave man who saved me
from the stag at the risk of his own life, who was half slain in
serving me--is he--is he _your_ Kenric?"

"The same," answered Edith, with the quiet accent of fixed sorrow.
"And the same for whom you procured the priceless boon of liberty."

An idea flashed, like the electric fluid, across the mind of
Guendolen, who up to that moment had suspected nothing of the
connection between her preserver and the beautiful girl before her,
and who knew nothing of his grand refusal to accept even liberty
itself, most inestimable of all gifts, which could not be shared by
those whom he loved beyond liberty or life; and she imagined that she
read the secret, and had pierced the maiden's mystery.

"Can it be?" she said, sorrowfully, and seeming rather to be communing
with herself, than inquiring of her companion. "Can it be that one so
brave, so generous, and seemingly so noble, should be so base and
abject? Oh! but these men, these men, if tale and history speak true,
they are the same all and ever--false, selfish, and deceivers!"

"Kenric, lady?"

"And because he is free--the freeman but of the hour--he has despised
thee, Edith, the slave girl? But hold thy head high, sweet one, and
thy heart higher. Thou shalt be free to-morrow, girl, and the mate of
his betters; it shall be thou, to-morrow, who shall repay scorn with
scorn, and----"

"No, lady, no," cried the girl, who had been hitherto silenced and
overpowered by the impulsive vehemence of Guendolen. "You misapprehend
me altogether. It is not I whom he rejected, for that _he_ was free;
but liberty that he cast from him, as a toy not worth the having,
because I might not be free with him--I, and his aged mother, of whom
he is, alone, the only stay and comfort."

"Noble! noble!" cried the Norman girl, joyously clapping her hands
together. "Noble and glorious, gentle and great! This, this, indeed,
is true nobility! Why do we Normans boast ourselves, as if we alone
could think great thoughts, or do great deeds? and here we are
outdone, beyond all question or comparison, in the true gentleness of
perfect chivalry; and that, by a Saxon slave. But be of good cheer,
Edith, my sister and my friend; be of good cheer. The sun shall not go
down looking upon you still a slave, nor upon your Kenric, nor yet
upon his mother. You shall be free, all free, free as the blessed
winds of heaven, before the sun set in the sea. And you shall be the
wife of no serf, but of a freeman, and a freeholder, in my own manor
lands of Kendal upon Kent; and you shall be, God willing, the mother
of free Englishmen, to do their lady as leal service as their stout
father did before them. Fear nothing, and doubt nothing, Edith; for
this shall be, so surely as I am Guendolen of Taillebois. So small a
thing as this I can right readily do with my good father, and he as
readily with our true friend, noble Sir Philip de Morville. But hark!
I hear their horses' hoofs and the whimpering of their hounds in the
court-yard. To the bartizan, girl, to the bartizan! Is it they--is it
the chase returning?"

"It is they, dear lady--your noble sire and Sir Philip, and all the
knights who rode forth this morning--all laughing in high merriment
and glee! and now they mount the steps--they have entered."

"No better moment, then, to press a boon. Fly, girl, be your wishes
wings to your speech. I would see my father straightway!"



    "And if she will, she will! you may depend on't."


It did not prove, in truth, a matter altogether so easy of
accomplishment as Guendolen, in her warm enthusiasm and sympathy, had
boasted, to effect that small thing, as she had termed it in her
thoughtless eagerness, the liberation of three human beings, and the
posterity of two, through countless generations, from the curse and
degradation of hereditary bondage.

The value, in the first place, of the unhappy beings, to each of whom,
as to a beast of burden, or to a piece of furniture, a regular
money-price was attached, although they could not be sold away from
the land to which they appertained, unless by their own consent, was
by no means inconsiderable even to one so rich as Sir Yvo de
Taillebois; for in those days the wealth even of the greatest landed
proprietors lay rather in the sources of revenue, than in revenue
itself; and men, whose estates extended over many parishes, exceeding
far the limits of a modern German principality, whose forests
contained herds of deer to be numbered by the thousand head, whose
cattle pastured over leagues of hill and valley, who could raise
armies, at the lifting of their banners, larger than many a sovereign
prince of the nineteenth century, were often hard set to find the
smallest sums of ready money on emergency, unless by levying tax or
scutage on their vassals, or by applying to the Jews and Lombards.

In the second place, the scruples of Kenric, which justly appeared so
generous and noble to the fine, unsophisticated intellect of the young
girl, by no means appeared in the same light to the proud barons,
accustomed to regard the Saxon, and more especially the serf, as a
being so palpably and manifestly inferior, that he was scarcely deemed
to possess rights, much less sentiments or feelings, other than those
of the lower animals.

To them, therefore, the Saxon's refusal to consent to his own sale as
a step necessary to manumission, appeared an act of insolent
outrecuidance, or at the best a bold and impudent piece of chicanery,
whereby to extort from his generous patrons a recompense three times
greater than they had thought of conferring on him, in the first

It was with scorn, therefore, and almost with anger, that Sir Yvo
listened to the first solicitations of Guendolen in behalf of her
clients; and he laughed at her high-flown sentiments of admiration and
wonder at the self-devotion, the generosity, the immovable constancy,
of the noble Saxon.

"The _noble_ Saxon! By the glory of Heaven!" he exclaimed, "these
women would talk one out of all sense of reason, with their
sympathetic jargon! Why, here's a sturdy knave, who has done what, to
win all this mighty gratitude? Just stuck his whittle into a wild
stag's weasard, and saved a lady's life, more by good luck than by
good service--as any man, or boy, of Norman blood, would have done in
a trice, and thought no more of it; and then, when his freedom's
tendered him as a reward for doing that for which ten-pence had well
paid him, and for failing to do which he had deserved to be scourged
till his bones lay bare, he is too mighty to accept it--marry! he
names conditions, he makes terms, on which he will consent to oblige
his lords by becoming free; and you--you plead for him. The _noble_
Saxon! by the great gods, I marvel at you, Guendolen."

But she, with the woman's wily charm, replied not a word while he was
in the tide of indignation and invective; but when he paused,
exhausted for the moment by his own vehemence, she took up the word--

"Ten-pence would have well paid him! At least, I am well content to
know," she said, "the value of my life, and that, too, at my own
father's rating. The Saxons may be, as I have heard tell, but have not
seen that they are, sordid, degraded, brutal, devoid of chivalry and
courtesy and love of fame; but I would wager my life there is not a
free Saxon man--no, not the poorest Franklin, who would not rate the
life of his coarse-featured, sun-burned daughter at something higher
than the value of a heifer. But it is very well. I am rebuked. I will
trouble you no farther, valiant Sir Yvo de Taillebois. I have no
_right_ to trouble you, beausire, for I must sure be base-born,
though I dreamed not of it, that my blood should be dearly bought at
ten-pence. Were it of the pure current that mantled in the veins of
our high ancestors, it should fetch something more, I trow, in the

"Nay! nay! thou art childish, Guendolen, peevish, and all
unreasonable. I spoke not of thy life, and thou knowest it right well,
but of the chance, the slight merit of his own, by which he saved it."

"Slight merit, father!"

"Pshaw! girl, thou hast gotten me on the mere play of words. But how
canst make it tally with the vast ideas of this churl's chivalry and
heaven-aspiring nobility of soul, that he so little values liberty,
the noblest, most divine of all things, not immortal, as to reject it
thus ignobly?"

"It skills not to argue with you, sir," she answered, sadly; "for I
see you are resolved to refuse me my boon, as wherefore should you
not, setting so little value on this poor life of mine. I know that I
am but a poor, weak child, that I was a disappointment to you in my
cradle, seeing that I neither can win fresh honors to your house amid
the spears and trumpets, nor transmit even the name, of which you are
so proud, to future generations; but I am, at least in pride, too much
a Taillebois to crave, as an importunate, unmannerly suitor, what is
denied to me as a free grace. Only this--were you and I in the hands
of the Mussulman, captives and slaves together, and you should accept
freedom as a gift, leaving your own blood in bondage, I think the
Normans would hold you dishonored noble, and false knight; I am sure
the Saxons would pronounce you _nidering_. I have done, sir. Let
the Saxon die a slave, if you think it comports with the dignity of De
Taillebois to be a slave's debtor. I thought, if you did not love me,
that you loved the memory of my mother better."

"There! there!" replied Sir Yvo, quite overpowered, and half amused by
the mixture of art and artlessness, of real passion and affected sense
of injury by which she had worked out her purpose. "There! there!
enough said, Guendolen. You will have it as you will, depend on't. I
might have known you would, from the beginning, and so have spared
myself the pains of arguing with you. It must be as you will have it,
and I will go buy the brood of Sir Philip at once; pray Heaven only
that they will condescend to be manumitted, without my praying them to
accept their liberty upon my knee. It will cost me a thousand zecchins
or more, I warrant me, at the first, and then I shall have to find
them lands of my lands, and to be security for their "were and mund,"
and I know not what. Alack-a-day! women ever! ever women! when we are
young it is our sisters, our mistresses, our wives; when we grow old,
our daughters!--and by my hopes of Heaven, I believe the last plague
is the sorest!"

"My funeral expenses, with the dole and alms and masses, would
scarcely have cost you so much, Sir Yvo. Pity he did not let the stag
work his will on me! Don't you think so, sir?"

"Leave off your pouting, silly child. You have your own way, and that
is all you care for; I don't believe you care the waving of a feather
for the Saxons, so you may gratify your love of ruling, and force your
father, who should show more sense and firmness, to yield to every one
of your small caprices. So smooth that bent brow, and let us see a
smile on those rosy lips again, and you may tell your Edith, if that's
her name, that she shall be a free woman before sunset."

"So you confess, after all this flurry, that it was but a _small_
caprice, concerning which you have so thwarted me. Well, I forgive
you, sir, by this token,"--and, as she spoke, she threw her white arms
about his neck, and kissed him on the forehead tenderly, before she
added, "and now, to punish you, the next caprice I take shall be a
great one, and you shall grant it to me without wincing. Hark you,
there are the trumpets sounding for dinner, and you not point-device
for the banquet-hall! but never heed to-day. There are no ladies to
the feast, since I am not so well at ease as to descend the stair.
Send me some ortolans and beccaficos from the table, sir; and above
all, be sure, with the comfits and the Hypocras, you send me the deeds
of manumission for Kenric and Edith, all in due form, else I will
never hold you true knight any more, or gentle father."

"Fare you well, my child, and be content. And if you rule your
husband, when you get one, as you now rule your father, Heaven in its
mercy help him, for he will have less of liberty to boast than the
hardest-worked serf of them all. Fare you well, little wicked

And she laughed a light laugh as the affectionate father, who used so
little of the father's authority, left the Bower, and cried joyously,
"Free, free! all free! I might have been sure that I should succeed
with him. Dear, gentle father! and yet once, once for a time, I was
afraid. Yet I was right, I was right; and the right must ever win the
day. Edith! Edith!" she cried, as she heard her light foot without.
"You are free. I have conquered!"

It is needless, perhaps it were impossible, to describe the mingled
feelings of delight, gratitude, and wonder, coupled to something akin
to incredulity, which were aroused in the simple breast of the Saxon
maiden, by the tidings of her certain manumission, and, perhaps even
gladder yet, of her transference, in company with all those whom she
loved, to a new home among scenes which, if not more lovely than those
in which her joyless childhood and unregretted youth had elapsed, were
at least free from recollections of degradation and disgrace.

The news circulated speedily through the castle, how the gratitude of
the Lady Guendolen had won the liberty of the whole family of her
preserver, with the sole exception of the gross thrall Eadwulf; and it
was easily granted to Edith, that she should be the bearer of the
happy tidings to the Saxon quarter.

Sweet ever to the captive's, to the slave's, ear must be the sound of
liberty, and hard the task, mighty the sacrifice, to reject it, on any
terms, however hard or painful; but if ever that delightful sound was
rendered doubly dear to the hearer, it was when the sweetest voice of
the best beloved--even of her for whom the blessed boon had been
refused, as without her nothing worth--conveyed it to the ears of the
brave and constant lover, enhanced by the certainty that she, too, who
announced the happiness, had no small share in procuring it, as she
would have a large share of enjoying it, and in rendering happy the
life which she had crowned with the inestimable gift of freedom.

That was a happy hearth, a blessed home, on that calm summer evening,
though death had been that very day borne from its darkened doors,
though pain and suffering still dwelt within its walls. But when the
heart is glad, and the soul contented and at peace, the pains of the
body are easily endured, if they are felt at all; and happier hearts,
save one alone, which was discontent and bitter, perhaps bitterer from
the contemplation of the unparticipated bliss of the others, were
never bowed in prayer, or filled with gratitude to the Giver of all

Eadwulf sat, gloomy, sullen, and hard of heart, beside the cheerful
group, though not one of it, refusing to join in prayer, answering
harshly that he had nothing for which to praise God, or be thankful to
him; and that to pray for any thing to him would be useless, for that
he had never enjoyed his favor or protection.

His feelings were not those of natural regret at the continuance of
his own unfortunate condition, so much as of unnatural spite at the
alteration in the circumstances of his mother, his brother, and that
brother's beautiful betrothed; and it was but too clear that, whether
he should himself remain free or no, he had been better satisfied that
they should continue in their original condition, rather than that
they should be elevated above himself by any better fortune.

Kenric had in vain striven to soothe his morose and selfish mood, to
cheer his desponding and angry, rather than sorrowful, anticipations--he
had pointed out to him that his own liberation from slavery, and
elevation to the rank and position of a freeman and military tenant of
a fief of land, did not merely render it probable, but actually make
it certain, that Eadwulf also would be a freeman, and at liberty to
join his kindred in a short time in their new home; "for it must be
little, indeed, that you know of my heart," said the brave and manly
peasant, "or of that of Edith, either, if you believe that either of
us could enjoy our own liberty, or feel our own happiness other than
unfinished and incomplete, so long as you, our own and only brother,
remain in slavery and sorrow. Your price is not rated so high, brother
Eadwulf, but that we may easily save enough from our earnings, when
once free to labor for ourselves, within two years at the farthest, to
purchase your freedom too from Sir Philip; and think how easy will be
the labor, and how grateful the earnings, when every day's toil
finished, and every zecchin saved, will bring us a day nearer to a
brother's happy manumission."

"Words!" he replied, doggedly--"mighty fine words, in truth. I marvel
how eloquent we have become, all on the sudden. Your labor _will_
be free, as you say, and your earnings your own; and wondrous little
shall I profit by them. I should think now, since you are so mighty
and powerful with the pretty Lady Guendolen, all for a mere chance
which might have befallen me, or any one, all as well as yourself, you
might have stipulated for my freedom--I had done so I am sure, though
I do not pretend to your fine sympathies and heaven-reaching

"And so have lost _their_ freedom!" replied Kenric, shaking his
head, as he waved his hand toward the women; "for that would have been
the end of it. For the rest, I made no stipulations; I only refused
freedom, if it were procurable only by leaving my aged mother and my
betrothed bride in slavery. As it was, I had lost my own liberty, and
not gained theirs, if it had not been for Edith, who won for us all,
what I had lost for one."

"And no one thought of me, or my liberty! I was not worth thinking of,
nor worthy, I trow, to be free."

"You say well, Eadwulf--you say right well," cried Edith, her fair
face flushing fiery red, and her frame quivering with excitement. "You
are _not_ worthy to be free. There is no freedom, or truth, or love,
or honor, in your heart. Your spirit, like your body, is a serf's, and
one would do dishonor to the soul of a dog, if she likened it to
yours. Had _you_ been offered freedom, you had left all, mother,
brother, and betrothed--had any maiden been so ill-advised as betroth
herself to so heartless a churl--to slavery, and misery, and infamy,
or death, to win your own coveted liberty. Nay! I believe, if they had
been free, and you a serf, you would have betrayed them into slavery,
so that you might be alone free. A man who can not feel and comprehend
such a sacrifice as Kenric made for all of us, is capable of no
sacrifice himself, and is not worthy to be called a man, or to be a

Thus passed away that evening, and with the morrow came full
confirmation; and the bold Saxon stood upon his native soil, as free
as the air he breathed; the son, too, of a free mother, and with a
free, fair maiden by his side, soon to be the free wife of a free
Englishman. And none envied them, not one of their fellow-serfs, who
remained still condemned to toil wearily and woefully, until their
life should be over--not one, save Eadwulf, the morose, selfish,
slave-souled brother.



    "He mounted himself on a steed so talle,
      And her on a pale palfraye,
    And slung his bugle about his necke,
      And roundly they rode awaye."


The glad days rapidly passed over, and the morning of the tenth day,
as it broke fair and full of promise in the unclouded eastern sky,
looked on a gay and happy cavalcade, in all the gorgeous and
glittering attire of the twelfth century, setting forth in proud
array, half martial and half civil, from the gates of Waltheofstow.

First rode an old esquire, with three pages in bright half armor,
hauberks of chain mail covering their bodies, and baçinets of steel on
their heads, but with their arms and lower limbs undefended, except by
the sleeves of their buff jerkins and their close-fitting hose of
dressed buckskin. Behind these, a stout man-at-arms carried the guidon
with the emblazoned bearings of his leader, followed by twenty mounted
archers, in doublets of Kendal green, with yew bows in their hands,
wood-knives, and four-and-twenty peacock-feathered cloth-yard arrows in
their girdles, and battle-axes at their saddle-bows.

In the midst rode Sir Yvo de Taillebois, all armed save his head,
which was covered with a velvet mortier with a long drooping feather,
and wearing a splendid surcoat; and, by his side, on a fleet
Andalusian jennet, in a rich purple habit, furred at the cape and
cuffs, and round the waist, with snow-white swansdown, the fair and
gentle Guendolen, followed by three or four gay girls of Norman birth,
and, happier and fairer than the happiest and fairest, the charming
Saxon beauty, pure-minded and honest Edith. Behind these followed a
train of baggage vans, cumbrous and lumbering concerns, groaning along
heavily on their ill-constructed wheels, and a horse-litter, intended
for the use of the lady, if weary or ill at ease, but at the present
conveying the aged freed-woman, who was departing, now in well-nigh
her ninetieth summer, from the home of her youth, and the graves of
her husband and five goodly sons, departing from the house of bondage,
to a free new home in the far north-west.

The procession was closed by another body of twenty more
horse-archers, led by two armed esquires; and with these rode Kenric,
close shaven, and his short, cropped locks curling beneath a jaunty
blue bonnet, with a heron's feather, wearing doublet and hose of
forest green, with russet doeskin buskins, the silver badge of Sir Yvo
de Taillebois on his arm, and in his hand the freeman's trusty weapon,
the puissant English bow, which did such mighty deeds, and won such
_los_ thereafter, at those immortal fields of Cressy and Poictiers,
and famous Agincourt.

As the procession wound down the long slope of the castle hill, and
through the Saxon quarter, the serfs, who had collected to look on the
show, set up a loud hurrah, the ancient Saxon cry of mirth, of
greeting, or defiance. It was the cry of _caste_, rejoicing at
the elevation of a brother to the true station of a man. But there was
one voice which swelled not the cry; one man, who turned sullenly
away, unable to bear the sight of another's joy, turned away,
muttering vengeance--Eadwulf the Red--the only soul so base, even
among the fallen and degraded children of servitude and sorrow, as to
refuse to be glad at the happiness which it was not granted him to
share, though that happiness were a mother's and a brother's escape
from misery and degradation.

Many days, many weeks, passed away, while that gay cavalcade were
engaged in their long progress to the north-westward, through the
whole length of the beautiful West Riding of Yorkshire, from its
southern frontier, where it abuts on Nottinghamshire and the wild
county of Derby, to its western border, where its wide moors and
towering crag-crested peaks are blended with the vast treeless fells
of Westmoreland.

And during all that lengthened but not weary progress, it was but
rarely, and then only at short intervals, that they were out of the
sight of the umbrageous and continuous forest.

Here and there, in the neighborhood of some ancient borough, such as
Doncaster, Pontefract, or Ripon, through which lay their route, they
came upon broad oases of cultivated lands, with smiling farms and
pleasant corn-fields and free English homesteads, stretching along the
fertile valley of some blue brimful river; again, and that more
frequently, they found small forest-hamlets, wood-embosomed, with
their little garths and gardens, clustering about the tower of some
inferior feudal chief, literally set in a frame of verdure.

Sometimes vast tracks of rich and thriftily-cultured meadow-lands,
ever situate in the loveliest places of the shire, pastured by
abundant flocks, and dotted with sleek herds of the already celebrated
short-horns, told where the monks held their peaceful sway, enjoying
the fat of the land; and proclaimed how, in those days at least, the
priesthood of Rome were not the sensual, bigot drones, the ignorant,
oppressive tyrants, whose whereabout can be now easily detected by the
squalid and neglected state of lands and animals and men, whenever
they possess the soil and control the people. Such were the famous
Abbey-stedes of Fountain's and Jorvaulx, then, as now, both for
fertility and beauty, the boast of the West Riding.

Still, notwithstanding these pleasant interchanges of rural with
forest scenery, occurring so often as to destroy all monotony, and to
keep up a delightful anticipation in the mind of the voyager, as to
what sort of view would meet his eye on crossing yon hill-top, or
turning that curvature of the wood-road, by far the greater portion of
their way led them over sandy tracks, meandering like ribbons through
wide glades of greensward, under the broad protecting arms of giant
oaks and elms and beeches, the soft sod no less refreshing to the
tread of the quadrupeds, than was the cool shadow of the twilight
trees delicious to the riders.

Those forests of the olden day were rarely tangled or thicketlike,
unless in marshy levels, where the alder, the willow, and other
water-loving shrubs replaced the monarchs of the wild; or where, in
craggy gullies, down which brawled impetuous the bright hill-streams,
the yew, the holly, and the juniper, mixed with the silvery stems and
quivering verdure of the birches, or the deeper hues of the
broad-leaved witch-elms and hazels, formed dingles fit for fairy

For the most part, the huge bolls of the forest-trees stood far apart,
in long sweeping aisles, as regular as if planted by the hand of man,
allowing the grass to grow luxuriantly in the shade, nibbled, by the
vast herds of red and fallow deer and roes, into the softest and most
even sward that ever tempted the foot of high-born beauty.

And no more lovely sight can be imagined than those deep, verdant
solitudes, at early morn, when the luxuriant feathery ferns, the broom
and gorse blazing with their clusters of golden blossoms, the
crimson-capped foxgloves, the sky-blue campanulas by the roadside, the
clustering honeysuckles overrunning the stunt hawthorns, and vagrant
briars and waving grasses were glittering far and near in their
morning garniture of diamond dewdrops, with the long level rays of the
new-risen sun streaming in yellow lustre down the glades, and casting
great blue lines of shadow from every mossy trunk--no sight more
lovely than the same scenes in the waning twilight, when the red
western sky tinged the gnarled bolls with lurid crimson, and carpeted
the earth with sheets of copper-colored light, while the skies above
were darkened with the cerulean robes of night.

Nor was there lack of living sounds and sights to take away the sense
of loneliness from the mind of the voyager in the green
wilderness--the incessant songs of the thrush and blackbird, and
whistle of the wood-robin, the mellow notes of the linnets, the willow
warblers and the sedge birds in the watery brake, the harsh laugh of
the green-headed woodpecker, and the hoarse cooing of the innumerable
stock-doves, kept the air vocal during all the morning and evening
hours; while the woods all resounded far and wide with the loud
belling of the great stags, now in their lusty prime, calling their
shy mates, or defying their lusty rivals, from morn to dewy eve.

And ever and anon, the wild cadences of the forest bugles, clearly
winded in the distance, and the tuneful clamor of the deep-mouthed
talbots, would tell of some jovial hunts-up.

Now it would be some gray-frocked hedge priest plodding his way alone
on foot, or on his patient ass, who would return the passenger's
benedicite with his smooth _pax vobiscum_; now it would be some
green-kirtled forest lass who would drop her demure curtsey to the
fair Norman lady, and shoot a sly glance from her hazel eyes at the
handsome Norman pages. Here it would be a lord-abbot, or proud prior
with his lay brothers, his refectioners and sumptners, his
baggage-mules, and led Andalusian jennets, and as the poet sung,

    "With many a cross-bearer before,
    And many a spear behind,"

who would greet them fairly in some shady nook beside the sparkling
brook or crystal well-head, and pray them of their courtesy to alight
and share his poor convent fare, no less than the fattest haunch, the
tenderest peacock, and the purest wine of Gascony, on the soft green

There, it would be a knot of sun-burned Saxon woodmen, in their green
frocks and buckram hose, with long bows in their hands, short swords
and quivers at their sides, and bucklers of a span-breadth on their
shoulders, men who had never acknowledged Norman king, nor bowed to
Norman yoke, who would stand at gaze, marking the party, from the
jaws of some bosky dingle, too proud to yield a foot, yet too few
to attack; proving that to be well accompanied, in those days, in
Sherwood, was a matter less of pomp than of sound policy. Anon,
receiving notice of their approach from the repeated bugle-blasts
of his verdurers, as they passed each successive _mere_ or
forest-station, a Norman knight or noble, in his garb of peace, would
gallop down some winding wood-path, with his slender train scattering
far behind him, to greet his brother in arms, and pray him to grace
his tower by refreshing his company and resting his fair and gentle
daughter for a few days or hours, within its precincts.

In short, whether in the forest or in the open country, scarcely an
hour, never a day, was passed, without their encountering some
pleasant sight, some amusing incident, some interesting adventure.
There was a vast fund of romance in the daily life of those olden
days, an untold abundance of the picturesque, not a little, indeed, of
what we should call stage-effect, in the ordinary habits and every-day
affairs of men, which we have now, in our busy, headlong race for
affluence, ambition, priority, in every thing good or evil,
overlooked, if not forgotten.

Life was in England then, as it was in France up to the days of the
Revolution, as it never has been at any time in America, as it is
nowhere now, and probably never will be any where again, unless we
return to the primitive, social equality, and manful independence of
patriarchal times; when truth was held truth, and manhood manhood, the
world over; and some higher purpose in mortality was acknowledged than
the mere acquiring, some larger nobleness in man than the mere
possessing, of unprofitable wealth.

Much of life, then, was spent out of doors; the mid-day meal, the
mid-day slumber, the evening dance, were enjoyed, alike by prince
and peasant, under the shadowy forest-tree, or the verdure of the
trellised bower. The use of flowers was universal; in every rustic
festival, of the smallest rural hamlets, the streets would be arched
and garlanded with wreaths of wild flowers; in every village hostelry,
the chimney would be filled with fresh greens, the board decked
with eglantine and hawthorn, the beakers crowned with violets and
cowslips, just as in our days the richest ball-rooms, the grandest
banquet-halls, are adorned with brighter, if not sweeter or more
beautiful, exotics.

The great in those days had not lost "that touch of nature" which
"makes the whole world kin" so completely, as to see no grace in
simplicity, to find no beauty in what is beautiful alike to all, to
enjoy nothing which can be enjoyed by others than the great and

The humble had not been, then, bowed so low that the necessities had
precluded all thought, all care, for the graces of the existence of

If the division between the noble and the common of the human race, as
established by birth, by hereditary rank, by unalterable caste, were
stronger and deeper and less eradicable than at this day, the real
division, as visible in his nature, between man and man, of the noble
and the common, the difference in his tastes, his enjoyments, his
pleasures, his capacity no less than his power of enjoying, was a mere
nothing then, to what it is to-day.

The servants, the very serfs, of aristocracy, in those days, when
aristocracy was the rule of blood and bravery, were not, by a
hundredth part, so far removed below the proudest of their lords, in
every thing that renders humanity graceful and even glorious, in every
thing that renders life enjoyable, as are, at this day, the workers
fallen below the employers, when nobility has ceased to be, and
aristocracy is the sway of capital, untinctured with intelligence, and
ignorant of gentleness or grace.

It is not that the capitalist is richer, and the operative
poorer--though this is true to the letter--than was the prince, than
was the serf of those days. It is not only that the aristocrat of
capital, the noble by the grace of gold, is ten times more arrogant,
more insulting, more soulless, cold-hearted, and calmly cruel, than
the aristocrat of the sword, the noble by the grace of God; and that
the worker is worked more hardly, clad more humbly, fed more sparely,
than the villain of the middle ages--though this, also, is true to the
letter--but it is, that the very tastes, the enjoyments, and the
capacities for enjoyment, in a word, almost the nature of the two
classes are altered, estranged, unalterably divided.

The rich and great have, with a few rare exceptions that serve only to
prove the rule, lost all taste for the simple, for the natural, for
the beautiful, unless it be the beautiful of art and artifice; the
poor and lowly have, for the most part, lost all taste, all perception
of the beautiful, of the graceful, in any shape, all enjoyment of any
thing beyond the tangible, the sensual, the real.

Hence a division, which never can be reconciled. Both classes have
receded from the true nature of humanity, in the two opposite
directions, that they no longer even comprehend the one the tastes of
the other, and scarce have a desire or a hope in common; for what the
poor man most desires, a sufficiency for his mere wants, physical and
moral, the rich man can not comprehend, never having known to be
without it; while the artificial nothings, for which the capitalist
strives and wrestles to the last, would be to his workman mere
syllabub and flummery to the tired and hungry hunter.

In those days the enjoyments, and, in a great measure, the tastes, of
all men were alike, from the highest to the lowest--the same sports
pleased them, the same viands, for the most part, nourished, the same
liquors enlivened them. Fresh meat was an unusual luxury to the noble,
yet not an impossible indulgence to the lowest vassal; wine and beer
were the daily, the sole, beverages of all, differing only, and that
not very widely, in degree. The same love of flowers, processions,
out-of-door amusements, dances on the greensward, suppers in the
shade, were common to all, constantly enjoyed by all.

Now, it is certain, the enjoyments, the luxuries of the one class--nay,
the very delicacy of their tables, if attainable, would be utterly
distasteful to the other; and the rich soups, the delicate-made
dishes, the savor of the game, and the purity of the light French and
Rhenish wines, which are the _ne plus ultra_ of the rich man's
splendid board, would be even more distasteful to the man of the
million, than would be his beans and bacon and fire-fraught whisky to
the palate of the gaudy millionaire.

Throughout their progress, therefore, a thousand picturesque
adventures befell our party, a thousand romantic scenes were presented
by their halts for the noon-day repose, the coming meal, or the
nightly hour of rest, which never could now occur, unless to some
pleasure-party, purposely masquerading, and aping the romance of other

Sometimes, when no convent, castle, hostelry, or hermitage, lay on the
day's route, the harbingers would select some picturesque glen and
sparkling fountain; and, when the party halted at the spot, an
extempore pavilion would be found pitched, of flags and pennoncelles,
outspread on a lattice-work of lances, with war-cloaks spread for
cushions, and flasks and _bottiaus_ cooling in the spring, and
pasties and boar's meat, venison and game, plates of silver and
goblets of gold, spread on the grass, amid pewter-platters and
drinking-cups of horn, a common feast for man and master, partaken
with the same appetite, hallowed by the same grace, enlivened by
the same minstrelsy and music, and enjoyed no less by the
late-enfranchised serfs, than by the high-born nobles to whom they
owed their freedom.

Sometimes, when it was known beforehand that they must encamp for
the night in the greenwood, the pages and waiting-women would ride
forward, in advance of the rest, with the foragers, the baggage, and a
portion of the light-armed archery; and, when the shades of evening
were falling, the welcome watch-setting of the mellow-winded bugles
would bid the voyagers hail; and, as they opened some moon-lit grassy
glade, they would behold green bowers of leafy branches, garlanded
with wild roses and eglantine, and strewn with dry, soft moss, and
fires sparkling bright amid the shadows, and spits turning before the
blaze, and pots seething over it, suspended from the immemorial gipsy
tripods. And then the horses would be unbridled, unladen, groomed, and
picketed, to feed on the rich forest herbage; and the evening meal
would be spread, and the enlivening wine-cup would go round, and the
forest chorus would be trolled, rendered doubly sweet by the soft
notes of the girls, until the bugles breathed a soft good-night, and,
the females of the party withdrawing to their bowers of verdure, meet
tiring rooms for Oberon and his wild Titania, the men, from the
haughty baron to the humblest groom, would fold them in their cloaks,
and sleep, with their feet to the watch-fires, and their untented
brows toward heaven, until the woodlark, and the merle and mavis,
earlier even than the village chanticleer, sounded their forest



    "Great mountains on his right hand,
    Both does and roes, dun and red,
    And harts aye casting up the head.
    Bucks that brays and harts that hailes,
    And hindes running into the fields,
    And he saw neither rich nor poor,
    But moss and ling and bare wild moor."


In this life there was much of that peculiar charm which seems to
pervade all mankind, of whatever class or country, and in whatever
hemisphere; which irresistibly impels him to return to his, perhaps,
original and primitive state, as a nomadic being, a rover of the
forest and the plain; which, while it often seduces the refined and
civilized man of cities to reject all the conveniences and luxuries of
polite life, for the excitement and freshness, the inartificial
liberty and self-confiding independence of semi-barbarism, has never
been known to allow the native savage to renounce his freeborn
instincts, or to abandon his natural and truant disposition, for all
the advantage, all the powers, conferred by civilization.

And if, even to the freeborn and lofty-minded noble, the careless,
unconventional, equalizing life of the forest was felt as giving a
stronger pulsation to the free heart, a wider expansion to the lungs,
a deeper sense of freedom and power, how must not the same influences
have been enjoyed by those, who now, for the first time since they
were born, tasted that mysterious thing, liberty--of which they had so
often dreamed, for which they had longed so wistfully, and of which
they had formed, indeed, so indefinite an idea--for it is one of the
particulars in the very essence of liberty, as it is, perhaps, of that
kindred gift of God, health, that although all men talk of it as a
thing well understood and perfectly appreciated, not one man in ten
understands or appreciates it in the least, unless he has once enjoyed
it, and then been deprived of its possession.

It is true that, personally, neither Kenric nor Edith had ever known
what it is to be free; but they came of a free, nay! even of an
educated stock, and, being children of that Northern blood, which
never has long brooked even the suspicion of slavery, and, in some
sort, of the same race with their conquerors and masters, they had
never ceased to feel the consciousness of inalienable rights; the
galling sense of injustice done them, of humiliating degradation
inflicted on them, by their unnatural position among, but not of,
their fellows; had never ceased to hope, to pray, and to labor for a
restitution to those self-existing and immutable rights--the rights, I
mean, of living for himself, laboring for himself, acquiring for
himself, holding for himself, thinking, judging, acting for himself,
pleasing and governing himself, so long as he trench not on the
self-same right of others--to which the meanest man that is born of a
woman is entitled, from the instant when he is born into the world, as
the heir of God and nature.

The Saxon serf was, it is true, a being fallen, debased, partially
brutalized, deprived of half the natural qualities of manhood, by the
state of slavery, ignorance, and imbecility, into which he had been
deforced, and in which he was willfully detained by his masters; but
he had not yet become so utterly degraded, so far depressed below the
lowest attributes of humanity, as to acquiesce in his own debasement,
much less to rejoice in his bondage for the sake of the flesh-pots of
Egypt, or to glory in his chains, and honor the name of master.

From this misery, from this last perversion and profanation of the
human intellect divine--the being content to be a slave--the Saxon
serf had escaped thus far; and, thanks to the great God of nature, of
revelation, that last curse, that last profanation, he escaped
forever. His body the task-master had enslaved; his intellect he had
emasculated, debased, shaken, but he had not killed it; for there,
there, amid the dust and ashes of the all-but-extinguished fire, there
lurked alive, ready to be enkindled by a passing breath into a
devouring flame, the sacred spark of liberty.

Ever hoping, ever struggling to be free, when the day dawned of
freedom, the Saxon slave was fit to be free, and became free, with no
fierce outbreak of servile rage and vengeance, consequent on servile
emancipation, but with the calm although enthusiastical gladness which
fitted him to become a freeman, a citizen, and, as he is, the master
of one half of the round world. It is not, ah! it is not the chain, it
is not the lash, it is not the daily toil, it is not the disruption of
domestic ties and affections, that prove, that constitute the sin, the
sorrow, and the shameful reproach of slavery.

Ah! no. But it is the very converse of these--the very point insisted
on so complacently, proclaimed so triumphantly, by the advocates of
this accursed thing--it is that, in spite of the chain, in spite of
the lash, in spite of the enforced labor, in spite of the absence or
disruption of family ties and affections, the slave is sleek,
satisfied, self-content; that he waxes fat among the flesh-pots; that
he comes fawning to the smooth words, and frolics, delighted, fresh
from the lash of his master, in no wise superior to the spaniel,
either in aspiration or in instinct. It is in that he envies not the
free man his freedom, but, in his hideous lack of all self-knowledge,
self-reliance, self-respect, is content to be a slave, content to eat,
and grow fat and die, without a present concern beyond the avoidance
of corporeal pain and the enjoyment of sensual pleasure, without an
aspiration for the future, beyond those of the beasts, which graze and

It is in this that lies the mortal sin, the never-dying reproach, of
him who would foster, would preserve, would propagate, the curse of
slavery; not that he is a tyrant over the body, but that he is a
destroyer of the soul--that he would continue a state of things which
reduces a human being, a fellow-man, whether of an inferior race or
no--for, as of congenerous cattle there are many distinct tribes, so
of men, and of Caucasian men too, there be many races, distinct in
physical, in moral, in animal, in intellectual qualities, as well as
in color and conformation, if not distinct in origin--to the level of
the beast which knoweth not whence he cometh or whither he goeth, nor
what is to him for good, or what for evil, which hopes not to rise or
to advance, either here or hereafter, but toils day after day,
contented with his daily food, and lies down to sleep, and rises up to
labor and to feed, as if God had created man with no higher purpose
than to sleep and eat alternately, until the night cometh from which,
on earth, there shall be no awakening.

But of this misery the Saxon serf was exempt: and, to do him justice,
of this reproach was the Norman conqueror exempt also. Of the use of
arms, and the knowledge of warfare, he indeed deprived his serfs, for
as they outnumbered him by thousands in the field, equalled him in
resolution, perhaps excelled him in physical strength, to grant such
knowledge would have been to commit immediate suicide--but of no other
knowledge, least of all of the knowledge that leads to immortality,
did he strive to debar him. Admittance to holy orders was patent to
the lowest Saxon, and in those days the cloister was the gate to all
knowledge sacred or profane, to all arts, all letters, all
refinements, and above all to that knowledge which is the greatest
power--the knowledge of dealing with the human heart, to govern
it--the knowledge, which so often set the hempen sandal of the Saxon
monk upon the mailed neck of the Norman king, and which, in the very
reign of which I write, had raised a low-born man of the common Saxon
race to be Archbishop of Canterbury, the keeper of the conscience of
the king, the primate, and for a time the very ruler of the realm.

Often, indeed, did the superior knowledge of the cowled Saxon avenge
on his masters the wrongs of his enslaved brethren; and while the
learned priesthood of the realm were the brethren of its most abject
slaves, no danger that those slaves should ever become wholly
ignorant, hopeless, or degraded--and so it was seen in the end; for
that very knowledge which it was permitted to the servile race to
gain, while it taught them to cherish and fitted them to deserve
freedom, in the end won it for them; at the expense of no floods of
noble blood, through the sordure and soil of no savage Saturnalia,
such as marked the emancipation alike of the white serfs of
revolutionized France, and the black slaves of disenthralled St.

And so it was seen in the deportment of Kenric the serf, and of the
slave girl Edith, even in these first days of their newly-acquired

Self-respect they had never lost altogether; and their increased sense
of it was shown in the increased gravity and calmness and becomingness
of their deportment.

Slaves may be merry, or they may be sullen. But they can not be
thoughtful, or calm, or careworn. The French, while they were
feudal slaves, before the Revolution, were the blithest, the most
thoughtless, the merriest, and most frolicsome, of mortals; they had
no morrows for which to take care, no liberties which to study, no
rights which to guard. The English peasant was then, as the French is
fast becoming now, grave rather than frivolous, a thinker more than a
fiddler, a doer very much more than a dancer. Was he, is he, the less
happy, the less respectable, the lower in the scale of intellect, that
he is the farther from the monkey, and the nearer to the man?

The merriment, the riotous glee, the absolute abandonment of the
plantation African to the humor, the glee of the moment, is
unapproached by any thing known of human mirthfulness.

The gravity, the concentrated thought, the stern abstractedness,
the careworn aspect of the free American is proverbial--the first
thing observable in him by foreigners. He has more to guard, more
at which to aspire, more on which he prides himself, at times almost
boastfully, more for which to respect himself, at times almost to the
contempt of others, than any mortal man, his co-equal, under any other
form of government, on any other soil. Is he the less happy for his
cares, or would he change them for the recklessness of the well-clad,
well-fed slave--for the thoughtlessness of the first subject in a
despotic kingdom?

Kenric had been always a thinker, though a serf; his elder brother had
been a monk, a man of strong sense and some attainment; his mother had
been the daughter of one who had known, if he had lost, freedom. With
his mother's milk he had imbibed the love of freedom; from his
brother's love and teachings he had learned what a freeman should be;
by his own passionate and energetic will he had determined to become
free. He would have become so ere long, had not accident anticipated
his resolve; for he had laid by, already, from the earnings of his
leisure hours, above one half of the price whereby to purchase
liberty. He was now even more thoughtful and calmer; but his step was
freer, his carriage bolder, his head was erect. He was neither afraid
to look a freeman in the eye, nor to render meet deference to his
superior. For the freeman ever knows, nor is ashamed to acknowledge,
that while the equality of man in certain rights, which may be called,
for lack of a better title, natural and political, is co-existent with
himself, inalienable, indefeasible, immutable, and eternal, there is
no such thing whatever, nor can ever be, as the equality of man in
things social, more than there can be in personal strength, grace, or
beauty, in the natural gifts of intellect, or in the development of
wisdom. Of him who boasts that he has no superior, it may almost be
said that he has few inferiors.

Thereof Kenric--as he rode along with his harness on his back, and his
weapons in his hand, a freeman among freemen, a feudal retainer among
the retainers, some Norman, some Saxon, of his noble lord--was neither
louder, nor noisier, nor more exultant, perhaps the reverse, than his
wont, though happier far than he had conceived it possible for him to

And by his bearing, his comrades and fellows judged him, and ruled
their own bearing toward him. The Saxons of the company naturally
rejoiced to see their countryman free by his own merit, and, seeing
him in all things their equal, gladly admitted him to be so. The
haughtier Normans, seeing that he bore his bettered fortunes as
became a man, ready for either fortune, admitted him as one who
had won his freedom bravely, and wore it as if it had been his from
his birth--they muttered beneath their thick mustaches, that he
deserved to be a Norman.

Edith, on the contrary, young yet, and unusually handsome, who had
been the pet of her own people, and the favorite of her princely
masters, who had never undergone any severe labor, nor suffered any
poignant sorrow, who knew nothing of the physical hardships of
slavery, more than she did of the real and tangible blessings of
liberty, had ever been as happy and playful as a kitten, and as
tuneful as a bird among the branches.

But now her voice was silent of spontaneous song, subdued in
conversation, full fraught with a suppressed deeper feeling. The very
beauty of the fair face was changed, soberer, more hopeful, farther
seeing, full no longer of an earthly, but more with something of an
angel light.

The spirit had spoken within her, the statue had learned that it had a

And Guendolen had noted, yet not fully understood the change or its
nature. More than once she had called her to her bridle-rein and
conversed with her, and tried to draw her out, in vain. At last, she
put the question frankly--

"You are quieter, Edith, calmer, sadder, it seems to me," she said,
"than I have ever seen you, since I first came to Waltheofstow. I have
done all that lies in me to make you happy, and I should be sorry that
you were sad or discontented."

"Sad, discontented! Oh! no, lady, no!" she replied, smiling among her
tears. "Only too happy--too happy, to be loud or joyous. All happiest
things, I think, have a touch of melancholy in them. Do you think,
lady, yonder little stream," pointing to one which wound along by the
roadside, now dancing over shelvy rapids, now sleeping in silent
eddies, "is less happy where it lies calm and quiet, reflecting
heaven's face from its deep bosom, and smiling with its hundred
tranquil dimples, than where it frolics and sings among the pebbles,
or leaps over the rocks which toss it into noisy foam-wreaths? No!
lady, no. There it gathers its merriment and its motion, from the mere
force of outward causes; here it collects itself from the depth of its
own heart, and manifests its joy and love, and thanks God in silence.
It is so with me, Lady Guendolen. My heart is too full for music, but
not too shallow to reflect boundless love and gratitude forever."

The lady smiled, and made some slight reply, but she was satisfied;
for it was evident that the girl's poetry and gratitude both came
direct from her heart; and in the smile of the noble demoiselle there
was a touch of half-satiric triumph, as she turned her quick glance to
Sir Yvo, who had heard all that passed, and asked him, slyly, "And do
you, indeed, think, gentle father, that these Saxons are so hopelessly
inferior, that they are fitting for nothing but mere toil; or is this
the mere inspiration that springs from the sense of freedom?"

"I think, indeed," he replied, "that my little Guendolen is but a
spoiled child at the best; and, as to my thoughts in regard to the
Saxons, them I shall best consult my peace of mind and pocket by
keeping my own property; since, by our Lady's Grace! you may take it
into your head to have all the serfs in the north emancipated; and
that is a little beyond my powers of purchase. But see, Guendolen, see
how the sunbeams glint and glitter yonder on the old tower of Barden,
and how redly it stands out from those purple clouds which loom so
dark and thunderous over the peaceful woods of Bolton. Give your
jennet her head, girl, and let her canter over these fair meadows,
that we may reach the abbey and taste the noble prior's hospitality
before the thunder gust is upon us."

And quickening its pace, the long train wound its way upward, by the
bright waters of the beautiful Wharfe, and speedily obtained the
shelter, and the welcome they expected from the good and generous
monks of Bolton, the noblest abbaye in the loveliest dale of all the
broad West Riding.

The next morning found them traversing the broken green country that
lies about the head of the romantic Eyre, and threading the wild
passes of Ribbledale, beneath the shadow of the misty peaks of
Pennigant and Ingleborough, swathed constantly in volumed vapor,
whence the clanging cry of the eagle, as he wheeled far beyond the ken
of mortal eyes, came to the ears of the voyagers, on whom he looked
securely down as he rode the storm.

That night, no castle or abbey, no village even, with its humble
hostelry, being, in those days, to be found among those wild fells and
deep valleys, bowers were built of the materials with which the
hillsides were plentifully feathered throughout that sylvan and
mountainous district, of which the old proverbial distich holds good
to this very day:

    "O! the oak, the ash, and the bonny ivy tree,
    They flourish best at home in the north countree."

Young sprouts of the juniper, soft ferns, and the delicious purple
heather, now in its most luxurious flush of summer bloom and perfume,
furnished agreeable and elastic couches; and, as the stores carried by
the sumpter mules had been replenished by the large hospitality of the
prior of Bolton, heronshaw and egret, partridge and moorgame, wildfowl
and venison, furnished forth their board, with pasties of carp and
eels, and potted trout and char from the lakes whither they were
wending, and they fared most like crowned heads within the precincts
of a royal city, there, under the shadow of the gray crags and bare
storm-beaten brow of bleak Whernside, there where, in this nineteenth
century, the belated wayfarer would deem himself thrice happy, if he
secured the rudest supper of oat-cakes and skim-milk cheese, with a
draught of thin ale, the luxuries of the hardy agricultural population
of the dales.



    "Sweetly blows the haw and the rowan-tree,
      Wild roses speck our thickets sae briery;
    Still, still will our walk in the green-wood be--
      Oh, Jeanie! there's nothing to fear ye."


On the following morning they entered Westmoreland; and as they
approached the term of their journey, advancing the more rapidly as
they entered the wilder and more sparsely-populated regions toward the
lakes and fells, where the castellated dwellings of the knightly
nobles and the cloisters of the ecclesiastical lords became few and
far between, they reached Kendal, then a small hamlet, with a noble
castle and small priory, before noon; and, making no stay, pressed
onward to the shores of Windermere, which they struck, not far from
the scattered cottages and small chapel of ease, tended by two aged
brothers from Kendal, known then, as it is now, not having grown much
since that day, as the village of Bowness.

On the lake, moored at a rude pier, lay a small but gayly-decorated
yacht, or galley, with the arms of Sir Yvo de Taillebois emblazoned on
its foresail, and a gay streamer flaunting from its topmast, awaiting
the arrival of the party, which had been announced to their vassals by
a harbinger sent forward from Bolton Abbey.

And here the nobles, with their immediate train, separated from the
bulk of the party, the former going on board the galley, and crossing
the pellucid waters of the beautiful lake to Sir Yvo's noble castle,
which lay not a mile from the strand, embosomed in a noble chase,
richly-wooded with superb oak and ash forests, midway of the gentle
and green valley between the lake and the western mountains, over
which his demesnes extended, while the escort, with the horse-boys,
grooms, and servitors, took the longer and more difficult way around
the head of the lake--a circuit of some twenty miles--over the sites
of the modern towns of Ambleside and Hawkshead, the castle lying in
Cumberland, although the large estates of De Taillebois extended for
many miles on both sides of the water, and in both counties, being the
last grand feudal demesne on the south side of the mountains.

Further to the north, again, where the country spread out into plains
beyond Keswick, toward Penrith and Carlisle, and the untamed Scottish
borders, there were again found vast feudal demesnes, the property of
the Lords of the Marches, the Howards, the Percys, the Umfravilles,
and others, whose prowess defended the rich lowlands of York and
Lancaster from the incursions of the Border Riders.

To the north, the nearest neighbor of De Taillebois was the Threlkeld,
of Threlkeld Castle, on the skirts of Keswick, at thirty miles or more
of distance across the pathless mountains of Scafell, Helvellyn,
Saddleback, and Skiddaw. Nigher to him, on the south, and adjoining
his lands, lay the estates of the Abbots of Furness; and to the
westward, beyond the wide range of moor and mountain, which it took
his party-two days to traverse, and in which, from Bolton till they
reached Kendal, they had seen, according to the words of the motto
prefixed to this chapter,

      ----------- "neither rich, nor poor,
    But moss, and ling, and bare wild moor,"

lay the lands of the Cliffords and the mighty Nevilles. All the inner
country, among those glorious peaks, those deep glens, encumbered
with old unshorn woods, those blue waters, undisturbed by the presence
of a foreigner, since the eagles of the ubiquitous Roman glittered
above his camps on the stern hill-sides, over that most unprofitable
of his conquests, was virgin ground, uninhabited, save by fugitive
serfs, criminal refugees from justice, and some wild families of
liberty-loving Saxons, who had fled to the mountains, living by the
strong hand and the bended bow, and content to sacrifice all else for
the priceless boon of freedom.

It was, perhaps, the very wildness and solitude of the locality, as
much as the exquisite charm of the loveliest scenery in England, to
which, strange to say, he was fully alive--enhanced by the certainty
that in those remote regions, where there were no royal forests, nor
any territorial magnates who could in any way rival himself, his
forest rights, of which every Norman was constitutionally jealous,
were perfectly intangible and unassailable--which had so much attached
Sir Yvo de Taillebois to his Cumbrian castle of High Furness, in
preference to all his fair estates and castles in the softer and more
cultivated portions of the realm.

Certain it is, that he did love it better than all his other lands
united; and hither he resorted, whenever he could escape from the
duties of camps and the restraint of courts, to live a life among his
vassals, his feudal tenants, and his humbler villagers, more like that
of an Oriental patriarch than of a Norman warrior, but for the feudal
pomp which graced his castle halls, and swelled his mountain hunts
into a mimicry of warfare.

At about ten miles distant across the lake, up toward the lower spurs
of the north-eastern mountains, lies the small lake of Kentmere, the
head-waters and almost the spring of the river Kent; which, flowing
down southward through the vale of Kendal, falls into the western head
of Morecambe Bay, having its embouchure guarded by the terrible sands
of Lancaster, so fatal to foot-passengers, owing to the terrific
influx of the entering tides.

Set like a gem of purest water in a rough frame of savage mountains,
their lower sides mantled with rich deciduous woods, their purple
heathery brows dotted with huge Scotch firs, single, or in romantic
groups, their scalps bald and broken, of gray and schistous rock,
Kentmere fills up the whole basin of the dell it occupies, with the
exception of a verge of smooth, green meadow-land, never above a
hundred or two of yards in width, margined with a silvery stripe of
snow-white sand, and studded by a few noble oaks.

At the head of the lake, half encircled by the dancing brook which
formed its only inlet, rose a soft swell of ground, smooth and
round-headed, neither hill nor hillock; its southern face, toward the
lake, cleared of wood, and covered with short, close greensward, its
flanks and brow overgrown with luxuriant oak-wood of the second
growth, interspersed with varnished hollies, silver-stemmed birches,
and a score or two of gigantic fir-trees, overtopping the pale green
foliage of the coppice, and contrasting its lightsome tints by their
almost sable hue.

Behind this fairy knoll the hill rose in rifted perpendicular faces of
rock, garlanded and crowned with hanging coppices, for two or three
hundred feet in height; the nesting-place of noble falcons,
peregrines, gosshawks, haggards of the rock, and of a single pair of
golden eagles, the terror of the dale from time immemorial.

In all lake land, there is no lovelier spot than Kentmere. The deep
meadows by its side in early spring are one glowing garden of
many-colored crocuses, golden, white, purple lady-smocks, yellow
king-cups, and all sweet and gay-garbed flowers that love the
water-side; the rounded knoll and all the oak-wood sides are alive
with saffron primroses, cowslips, and meadow-sweets; and the air is
rife with the perfume of unnumbered violets, and vocal with the song
of countless warblers.

And on the mid slope of that rounded, bosom-like swell of land, there
stood, at the period of my tale, a low stone building of one story,
long for its height, narrow, and massively built of blocks of the
native gray stone of the hills, with a projecting roof of heavy flags,
forming a porch over the door, and two chimneys, one at either end, of
a form peculiar, to this day, to that district, each covered with a
flat stone slab supported on four columns, to prevent the smoke from
driving down into the chambers, under the influence of the whirling
gusts from the mountain tops.

Glass windows were unknown in those days, save to the castellated
mansions of the great, or the noble minsters and cathedrals of the
great cities--the art having been first introduced, after the
commencement of the dark ages, in the reign of Edward the Confessor,
although it must have been well known and of common occurrence in
England during its occupation by the Romans, who used glass for
windows as well as implements so early as the time of Cicero, and who
would seem to have brought its manufacture to a perfection
unattainable by us moderns, since it is credibly asserted that they
had the art to render it malleable. Horn and talc, or oiled parchment,
were used by the middle classes, but this was a luxury confined to the
dwellers in towns; and the square mullioned apertures, which here
served for windows, were closed by day and in fine weather by slender
lattices, and during storms or at night by wooden shutters. The want
of these luxuries, however, being unknown, was unregarded; and the
verdurer's house at Kentmere was regarded in those days as a fine
specimen of rural architecture, and stood as high by comparison as
many an esquire's hall of the present day.

For the rest, it was partly overrun with ivy and woodbine, and was
overhung at the western end by a noble mountain-ash, from under the
roots of which welled out a small crystal spring, and sheltered to the
east by a group of picturesque Scotch firs. An out-building or two, a
stone barn, a cow-house, and what, by the baying and din of hounds,
was clearly a dog-kennel, stood a little way aloof, under the skirts
of the coppice, and completed the appurtenances of what was then
deemed a very perfect dwelling for a small rural proprietor, and would
be held now a very tolerable mountain farm-house for a tenant cotter.

This was the new home of Kenric and Edith, now by the good offices of
the old curate of Bowness made man and wife; and here, with the good
old mother nodding and knitting by the hearth, and two stout boys,
Kenric's varlets, to tend the hounds and hawks, and to do the offices
of the small hill farm, they dwelt as happy as the day; he occupying
the responsible position of head-forester of upper Kentdale, and
warder of the cotters, shepherds, and verdurers, whose cottages were
scattered in the woods and over the hill-sides, and both secure in the
favor of their lovely lady, and proud of the confidence of their lord.



    "Your knight for his lady pricks forth in career,
    And is brought home at even-song, pricked through with a spear."


That was a dark day for Eadwulf, on which the train of Sir Yvo de
Taillebois departed from the tower of Waltheofstow; and thenceforth
the discontented, dark-spirited man became darker, more morose and
gloomy, until his temper had got to such a pass that he was shunned
and avoided by every one, even of his own fellows.

It is true, that in the condition of slavery, in the being one of a
despised and a detested caste, in being compelled to labor for the
benefit of others than himself, in the being liable at any moment to
be sold, together with the glebe to which he is attached for life,
like the ox or ass with which he toils as a companion, there is not
much to promote contentedness, to foster a quiet, placable, and gentle
disposition, to render any man more just, or grateful, or forbearing
to his fellows. Least of all is it so, where there is in the slave
just enough of knowledge, of civilization, of higher nurture, to
enable him to desire freedom in the abstract, to pine for it as a
right denied, and to hate those by whom he is deprived of it, without
comprehending its real value, or in the least appreciating either the
privileges which it confers or the duties which it imposes on the
freeman--least of all, when the man has from nature received a
churlish, gloomy, sullen temperament, such as would be likely to make
to itself a fanciful adversity out of actual prosperity, to resent all
opposition to its slightest wish as an injury, and to envy, almost to
the length of hating, every one more fortunate than himself.

It may, however, as all other conditions of inferiority, of sorrow, or
of suffering, be rendered lighter and more tolerable by the mode of
bearing it. Not that one would desire to see any man, whether reduced
by circumstances to that condition, or held to it from his birth, so
far reduced to a tame and senseless submission as to accept it as his
natural state, or to endure it apathetically, without an effort at
raising himself to his proper position in the scale of humanity and

It is perfectly consistent with the utmost abhorrence of the
condition, and the most thorough determination to escape from it by
any means lawful to a Christian, to endure what is unavoidable, and to
do that which must be done, bravely, patiently, well, and therefore

But it was not in the nature of Eadwulf to take either part. His
rugged, stubborn, animal character, was as little capable of forming
any scheme for his own prospective liberation, to which energy, and a
firm, far-reaching will, should be the agents, as it was either to
endure patiently or to labor well.

Perpetually remiss, working reluctantly and badly, ever a recusant, a
recreant, a sullen and morose grumbler, while he in no respect
lightened, but, it is probable, rather enhanced his difficulties, he
detracted from what slight hope there might exist of his future
emancipation, by carefully, as it would seem, conciliating the
ill-opinion and ill-will of all men, whether his equals or his
superiors--while he entirely neglected to earn or amass such small
sums as might be within his reach, and as might perhaps, in the end,
suffice to purchase his liberation.

So long as Kenric and his mother remained in the hamlet of
Waltheofstow, and he was permitted to associate with them in their
quarter, in consequence of the character for patience, honesty,
fidelity, and good conduct, which his brother had acquired with his
masters, Eadwulf's temper had been in some sort restrained by the
influence, unconfessed indeed, and only half-endured with sullen
reluctance, which that brother obtained over him, through his clearer
and stronger intellect. But when they had departed, and when he found
himself ejected, as a single man in the first place, and yet more as
one marked for a bad servant and a dangerous character, from the best
cottage in the quarter, to which he had begun to fancy himself of
right entitled, he became worse and worse, until, even in the sort of
barrack or general lodging of the male slaves of the lowest order, he
was regarded by his fellows as the bad spirit of the set, and was
never sought by any, unless as the ringleader in some act of villainy,
wickedness, or rebellion.

It is probable, moreover, that the beauty and innocence of Edith, who,
however averse she might be to the temper and disposition of the man,
had been wont, since her betrothal to his brother, to treat him with a
certain friendship and familiarity, might have had some influence in
modifying his manner, at least, and curbing the natural display of his
passionate yet sullen disposition.

Certain it is, that in some sort he loved her--as much, perhaps, as
his sensual and unintelligent soul would allow him to love; and though
he never had shown any predilection, never had made any effort to
conciliate her favor, nor dared to attempt any rivalry of his brother,
whom he wholly feared, and half-hated for his assumed superiority, he
sorely felt her absence, regretted her liberation from slavery, and
even felt aggrieved at it, since he could not share her new condition.

His brother's freedom he resented as a positive injury done to
himself; and his bearing away with him the beautiful Edith, soon to
become his bride, he looked on in the light of a fraudulent or
forcible abstraction of his own property. From that moment, he became
utterly brutalized and bad; he was constantly ordered for punishment,
and at length he got to such a pitch of idleness, insolence, and
rebellion, that Sir Philip de Morville, though, in his reluctance to
resort to corporeal punishment, he would not allow him to be scourged
or set in the stocks, ordered his seneschal to take steps for selling
him to some merchant, who would undertake to transport him to one of
the English colonies in Ireland.

Circumstances, however, occurred, which changed the fate both of the
master and the slave, and led in the end to the events, which form the
most striking portion of the present narrative.

For some time past, as was known throughout all the region, Sir Philip
de Morville had been, if not actually at feud, at least on terms of
open enmity with the nobleman whose lands marched with his own on the
forest side, Sir Foulke d'Oilly--a man well-advanced in years, most of
which he had spent in constant marauding warfare, a hated oppressor
and tyrant to his tenantry and vassals, and regarded, among his Norman
neighbors and comrades, as an unprincipled, discourteous, and cruel

With this man, recently, fresh difficulties had arisen concerning some
disputed rights of chase, and on a certain day, within a month after
the departure of Sir Yvo de Taillebois, the two nobles, meeting on the
debatable ground, while in pursuit of the chase, under very
aggravating circumstances, the hounds of both parties having fallen on
the scent of the same stag, high words passed--a few arrows were shot
by the retainers on both sides, Sir Philip's being much the more
numerous; a forester of Sir Foulke d'Oilly's train was slain; and, had
it not been for the extreme forbearance of De Morville, a conflict
would have ensued, which could have terminated only in the total
discomfiture of his rival and all his men.

This forbearance, however, effected no good end; for, before the
barons parted, some words passed between them in private, which were
not heard by any of their immediate followers, and the effect of which
was known only by the consequences which soon ensued.

On the following morning, at the break of day, before the earliest of
the serfs were summoned to their labors, the castle draw-bridge was
lowered, and Sir Philip rode forth on his destrier, completely armed,
but followed only by a single esquire in his ordinary attire.

The vizor of the knight's square-topped helmet was lowered, and the
mail-hood drawn closely over it. His habergeon of glittering
steel-rings, his mail-hose, fortified on the shoulders and at the
knees by plates of polished steel, called poldrons and splents, shone
like silver through the twilight; his triangular shield hung about his
neck, his great two-handed broad-sword from his left shoulder to his
heel, and his long steel-headed lance was grasped in his right hand;
none could doubt that he was riding forth to do battle, but it was
strange that he wore no surcoat of arms over his plain mail, that no
trumpet preceded, no banner was borne behind him, no retainers, save
that one unarmed man, in his garb of peace, followed the bridle of
their lord.

He rode away slowly down the hill, through the serf's quarter, into
the wood; the warder from the turret saw him turn and gaze back
wistfully toward his hereditary towers, perhaps half prescient that he
should see them no more. He turned, and was lost to view; nor did any
eye of his faithful vassals look on him in life again.

Noon came, and the dinner hour, but the knight came not to the banquet
hall--evening fell, and there were no tidings; but, at nightfall,
Eadwulf came in, pale, ghastly, and terrified, and announced that the
knight and the esquire both lay dead with their horses in a glade of
the wood, not far from the scene of the quarrel of the preceding day,
on the banks of the river Idle. No time was lost. With torch and
cresset, bow and spear, the household hurried, under their appointed
officers, to the fatal spot, and soon found the tidings of the serf to
be but too true.

The knight and his horse lay together, as they had fallen, both
stricken down at the same instant, in full career as it would seem, by
a sudden and instantaneous death-stroke. The warrior, though
prostrate, still sat the horse as if in life; he was not unhelmed; his
shield was still about his neck; his lance was yet in the rest, the
shaft unbroken, and the point unbloodied--the animal lay with its legs
extended, as if it had been at full speed when the fatal stroke
overtook it. A barbed cloth-yard arrow had been shot directly into its
breast, piercing the heart through and through, by some one in full
front of the animal; and a lance point had entered the throat of the
rider, above the edge of the shield which hung about his neck, coming
out between the shoulders behind, and inflicting a wound which must
have been instantaneously mortal.

Investigation of the ground showed that many horses had been concealed
or ambushed in a neighboring dingle, within easy arrow-shot of the
murdered baron; that two horsemen had encountered him in the glade,
one of whom, he by whose lance he had fallen, had charged him in full

It was evident to the men-at-arms, that Sir Philip's charger had been
treacherously shot dead in full career, by an archer ambushed in the
brake, at the very moment when he was encountering his enemy at the
lance's point; and that, as the horse was in the act of falling, he
had been bored through from above, before his own lance had touched
the other rider.

The esquire had been cut down and hacked with many wounds of axes and
two-handed swords, one of his arms being completely severed from the
trunk, and his skull cleft asunder by a ghastly blow. His horse's
brains had been dashed out with a mace, probably after the slaughter
of the rider; and that this part of the deed of horror had been
accomplished by many armed men, dismounted, and not by the slayer of
De Morville, was evident, from the number of mailed and booted
footsteps deeply imprinted in the turf around the carcasses of the
murdered men and butchered animals.

Efforts were made immediately to track the assassins by the slot,
several, both of the men-at-arms and of the Yorkshire foresters, being
expert at the art; but their skill was at fault, as well as the scent
of the slow-hounds, which were laid on the trail; for, within a few
hundred yards of the spot, the party had entered the channel of the
river Idle, and probably followed its course upward, to a place where
it flowed over a sheet of hard, slaty, rock; and where the land
farther back consisted of a dry, sun-burned, upland waste, of short,
summer-parched turf, which took no impression of the horses' hoofs.

There was no proof, nor any distinct circumstantial evidence; yet none
doubted any more than if they had beheld the doing of the dastardly
deed, that the good Lord de Morville had fallen by the hand of Sir
Foulke d'Oilly and of his associates in blood-shedding.

For the rest, the good knight lay dead, leaving no child, wife,
brother, nor any near relation, who should inherit either his honors
or his lands. He had left neither testament nor next of kin.
Literally, he had died, and made no sign.

The offices of the church were done duly, the masses were chanted over
the dead, and the last remains of the good knight were consigned to
dust in the chapel vaults of his ancestral castle, never to descend to
posterity of his, or to bear his name again forever.

In a few days it was made known that Sir Philip had died deeply
indebted to the Jews of York, of Tadcaster, even of London; that his
estates, all of which were unentailed and in his own right, were
heavily mortgaged; and that the lands would be sold to satisfy the
creditors of the deceased. Shortly after, it was whispered abroad, and
soon proclaimed aloud, that Sir Foulke d'Oilly had become purchaser of
whatever was saleable, and had been confirmed by the royal mandate in
the possession of the seigneurial and feudal rights of the lapsed fief
of Waltheofstow. There had been none to draw attention to the
suspicions which weighed so heavily against Sir Foulke in the
neighborhood, and among the followers of the dead knight; they were
men of small rank and no influence, and had no motive to induce them
wantonly to incur the hatred of the most powerful and unscrupulous
noble of the vicinity, by bringing charges which they had no means to
substantiate, if true, and which, to disprove, it was probable that he
had contrivances already prepared by false witness.

Within a little while, Sir Foulke d'Oilly assumed his rights
territorial and seigneurial; but he removed not in person to
Waltheofstow, continuing to reside in his own larger and more
magnificent castle of Fenton in the Forest, within a few miles'
distance, and committing the whole management of his estates and
governance of his serfs to a hard, stern, old man-at-arms, renowned
for his cruel valor, whom he installed as the seneschal of the fief,
with his brother acting as bailiff under him, and a handful of fierce,
marauding, free companions, as a garrison to the castle.

The retainers of the old lord were got rid of peacefully, their dues
of pay being made up to them, and themselves dismissed, with some
small gratuity. One by one the free tenants threw up the farms which
they rented, or resigned the fiefs which they held on man-service;
and, before Sir Philip had been a month cold in his grave, not a soul
was left in the place, of its old inhabitants, except the miserable
Saxon serfs, to whom change of masters brought no change of place; and
who, regarded as little better than mere brutes of burden, were scarce
distinguished one from the other, or known by name, to their new and
vicarious rulers. On them fell the most heavily the sudden blow which
had deprived them of a just, a reasonable, and a merciful lord, as
justice and mercy went in those days, and consigned them defenseless
and helpless slaves, to one among the cruellest oppressors of that
cruel and benighted period--and, worse yet than that, mere chattels at
the mercy of an underling, crueller even than his lord, and wanting
even in the sordid interest which the owner must needs feel in the
physical welfare of his property.

Woe, indeed, woe worth the day, to the serfs of Waltheofstow, when
they fell into the hands of Sir Foulke d'Oilly, and tasted of the
mercies of his seneschal, Black Hugonet of Fenton in the Forest!

It was some considerable time before the news of this foul murder
reached the ears of Sir Yvo de Taillebois; and when it did become
known to him, and measures were taken by him to reclaim the manor of
Waltheofstow, in virtue of the mortgage he had redeemed, it was found
that so many prior claims, and that to so enormous an extent, were in
existence, as to swallow up the whole of the estates, leaving Sir Yvo
a loser of the nineteen thousand zecchins which he had advanced, with
nothing to show in return for his outlay beyond the freedom of Kenric
and his family.

The good knight, however, was too rich to be seriously affected by the
circumstance, and of too noble and liberal a strain to regret deeply
the mere loss of superabundant and unnecessary gold. But not so did he
regard the death of his dear companion and brother in arms; yet,
though he caused inquiries to be set on foot as to the mode of his
decease, so many difficulties intervened, and the whole affair was
plunged in so deep a mystery and obscurity, that he was compelled to
abandon the pursuit reluctantly, until, after months had elapsed,
unforeseen events opened an unexpected clew to the fatal truth.



    Then said King Florentyne,
    "What noise is this? 'Fore Saint Martyn,
    Some man," he said, "in my franchise,
    Hath slain my deer and bloweth the prize."


One of those serfs, Eadwulf, was little disposed to resign himself
tranquilly to his fate; as within a short period after the occupation
of Waltheofstow by the new seneschal, his wonted contumacy had brought
him into wonted disgrace and condemnation, and, there being no longer
any clemency overruling the law for the mitigation of such penalties
as should seem needful, the culprit was on several occasions cruelly
scourged, and imprisoned in the lowest vaults of the castle dungeon.

Maddened by this treatment, he at length resolved to escape at all
risks, and knowing every path and dingle of the forest, he flattered
himself that he should easily elude pursuers who were strange, as yet,
to that portion of the country; and having, on the departure of his
brother, contrived stealthily to possess himself of the crossbow and
bolts which had belonged to him, being intrusted to his care as an
unusual boon, owing to his good conduct and his occupation as a sort
of underkeeper in the chase, fancied that he should be able easily to
support himself by killing game in the forests through which he must
make his way, until he should arrive at the new residence of that
brother, where he doubted not of finding comfort and assistance.

During the days which had elapsed between the emancipation of Kenric
and his departure from the castle, much had been ascertained, both by
the new freeman and his beautiful betrothed, concerning the route
which led to their future abode, its actual position, and the wild and
savage nature of the country on which it abutted.

All this had naturally enough become known to Eadwulf; and he, having
once been carried as far as to Lancaster by the late lord's equerry,
to help in bringing home some recently-purchased war-horses, knew well
the general direction of the route, and, having heard, while there, of
the fordable nature of the Lancastrian sands, made little doubt of
being able to find his way to his brother, and by his aid to gain the
wild hills, where he trusted to subsist himself as a hunter and outlaw
on the vast and untraversed heaths to the northward.

It was his hope to gain sufficient start, in the first instance, to
enable him to make off so long before his absence should be
discovered, that bloodhounds could not be laid on his track until the
scent should be already cold; and then keeping the forest-ground, and
avoiding all cleared or cultivated lands, to cross the Lancaster
sands, and thence, by following up the course of the Kent River, on
which he knew Kenric would be stationed as verdurer, to gain the
interior labyrinth of fells, moors, morasses, and ravines, which at
that time occupied the greater part of Westmoreland and Cumberland.

To this end, he managed to conceal himself at nightfall not far from
the quarter, before the serfs had collected in their dormitory,
intending to prosecute his flight so soon as the neighborhood should
be steeped in the silence of night, and the moon should give him
sufficient light to find his way through the deep forest mazes; and
thus, before daybreak, was already some twenty miles distant from
Waltheofstow, where he concealed himself in a deep hazel brake,
intending to sleep away the hours of daylight, and resume his flight
once more during the partial darkness of the night.

It was true that his route lay through the woodland-chase, which
spread far and wide over the environs of Fenton in the Forest, and was
the property of his new master; but for this he cared little, since
there had been so small intercourse between the tenantry and vassals
of his late lord and those of Sir Foulke d'Oilly, that he had no fears
of being recognized by any chance retainer whom he might possibly
encounter, while he knew that, should he chance to be discovered by a
passing serf of his own oppressed race, he should not be betrayed by
them to their mutual tyrants. Armed, therefore, at large, and already
at a considerable distance from the scene of his captivity, he
considered himself well-nigh safe when he concealed himself, in the
early gray of the dawn, in such a dingle as he felt sure would secure
him from the chance intrusion of any casual wayfarers.

Under one difficulty, however, he sorely labored. He had been unable
to carry with him any provision, however slender; and he must depend
on his skill as a forester for his sustenance, by poaching in the
woods which he had to traverse, and cooking his game as best he might,
borrowing an hour or two of the darkness for the purpose, and kindling
his fire in the most remote and obscure places, to avoid danger of the
smoke being observed by day, or the glare of the fire by night.

He had lost his evening meal on the previous day, and the appetite of
the Saxon peasant was proverbially mighty; while, as is ever the case
with men who have no motives to self-restraint or economy, abstinence
was an unknown power.

It was vastly to his joy, therefore, that when the sun was getting
fairly above the horizon, after he had been himself lurking an hour or
two in the thick covert, he saw among the branches a noble stag come
picking his way daintily along a deer-path which skirted the dingle,
accompanied by two slim and graceful does, evidently intending to lay
up, during the day, in the very brake which he unwittingly had

He had no sooner espied the animal, which was coming down wind upon
him, utterly unconscious of the proximity of his direst foe, then he
crouched low among the fern, fitted a quarrel to the string of his
arbalast, and waited until his game was within ten paces of his

Then the winch was released, the bow twanged, and the forked head of
the ponderous bolt crashed through the brain of the noble stag. One
great bound he made, covering six yards of forest soil in that last
leap of the death agony, and then laid dead almost at the feet of his
unseen destroyer. The terrified does fled in wild haste into the
opener parts of the forest, and, in an instant, the keen wood-knife of
the Saxon had pierced the throat of the deer, and selected such
portions, carved from the still quivering carcass, as he could most
easily carry with him. These thrust carefully into the sort of
hunting-pouch, or wallet, which he wore slung under his left arm, he
proceeded, with the utmost wariness and caution, to cover up the
slaughtered beast with boughs of the trees and brackens, rejoicing in
his secret soul that he had secured to himself provision for two days
longer at the least, and hoping that on the fourth morning he would be
in security, beyond the broad expanse of Morecambe Bay.

But wonderfully deceitful are the hopes of the human heart; and, in
the present instance, as often is the case, the very facts which he
regarded as most auspicious were pregnant with the deepest danger.

Even where he had most warily calculated his chances, and chosen his
measures with the deepest precaution, selecting the full of the moon
for the period of his escape, and choosing the route in which he had
anticipated the least danger of interruption, he had erred the most

For it had so fallen out that Sir Foulke d'Oilly, having appointed
this very day for a grand hunting match in his woods of Fenton, had
issued orders to a strong party of his vassals, under the leading of
Black Hugonet, his seneschal, and his brother, Ralph Wetheral, the
bailiff, to come up from Waltheofstow by daybreak, and rendezvous at a
station in the forest not a league distant from the spot in which
Eadwulf had so unhappily chosen to conceal himself.

At the very moment in which the serf had launched his fatal bolt
against the deer, the bailiff, Ralph Wetheral, who was, by virtue of
his office, better acquainted with his person than any others of the
household, was within a half a mile of his lair, engaged in tracking
up the slot of the very animal which he was rejoicing to have slain,
by aid of a mute lymer, or slow-hound, of an especial breed, kept and
trained for the purpose; and in furtherance of his pursuit, had
dismounted from his horse, and was following the dog as he dragged him
onward, tugging at the leash; while ten or fifteen of his companions
were scattered through the woods behind him, beating them carefully,
in order to track the stags or wild boars to their lairs, before the
arrival of their lord.

It was, perhaps, half an hour after he had discharged the shot, when
he was alarmed by a light rustling of the under-wood and the cracking
of dry sticks under a cautious footstep, and at first surmised that a
second beast of chase was following on the track of his predecessor.
But, in a moment, he was undeceived, by hearing the voice of a man
whispering a few low words of encouragement to a dog, and at once the
full extent of his danger flashed upon him. The dog was evidently
questing the animal he had shot, and, within an instant, would lead
his master to the spot. Under the cruel enactment of the Norman
forest-laws, to slay a deer was a higher offense than to kill a
fellow-man; the latter crime being in many cases remissible on the
payment of a fine, while the former inevitably brought down on the
culprit capital punishment, often enhanced by torture. To be found
hidden, close behind a warm and yet bleeding stag, was tantamount to
being taken red-handed in the fact, and instant death was the least
punishment to be looked for.

Discovery was so close at hand, that flight itself seemed impossible;
yet in immediate flight lay the sole chance of safety. He had already
started from his lair, when the slow-hound, coming on the track of the
fresh blood, set up a wild and savage yell, broke from the leash, and
in a second was standing over the slaughtered quarry, tearing away
with his fangs and claws the bushes which covered the carcass.

At the same moment, the branches were parted, and the bailiff of
Waltheofstow stood before the culprit, carrying an unbended long-bow
in his hand, and having a score of cloth-yard arrows at his belt, a
short anlace at his side, and his bugle slung about his neck.

The recognition on each side was immediate, and the Norman advanced
fearlessly to seize the fugitive, raising his bugle to his lips, as he
came on, to summon succor. But Eadwulf, who had already laid a quarrel
in the groove of the crossbow, with some indefinite idea of shooting
the dog before the man should enter upon the scene, raised the weapon
quickly to his shoulder, and, taking rapid aim, discharged it full at
the breast of the bold intruder.

The heavy missile took effect, just as it was aimed, piercing the
cavity of the man's heart, that he sprang a foot or better up into the
air, and fell slain outright upon the body of the deer, which his dog
had discovered, his spirit passing away without a struggle or a

The dog uttered a long, melancholy, wailing howl, stooped to snuff at
and lick the face of its murdered master, and then, as Eadwulf was
drawing forth a third quarrel, before he could bend the arbalast
again, or fit the missile to the string, fled howling into the wood
whence he had come, as if he foresaw his purpose.

"A curse upon the yelling cur; he will bring the hue-and-cry down on
me in no time. There is nothing but a run for it, and but a poor
chance at that."

And, with the words, he dashed away toward the northwest, through the
opener parts of the forest, at a speed which, could he have maintained
it, would have soon carried him out of the reach of pursuit. And
wonderfully he did maintain it; for at the end of the second hour he
had run nearly fifteen miles from the scene of the murder; and here,
on the brink of a small brimful river, of perhaps forty or fifty yards
in width, flowing tranquilly but rapidly through the greenwoods, in a
course not very much from the direction which he desired to follow, he
cast himself down on the turf, and lay panting heavily for some
minutes on the sward, until he had in some degree recovered his
breath, when he bathed his face in the cool water, drank a few
swallows, and then crossing the stream by some large stepping-stones
which lay here in a shallow spot, continued his flight with singular
speed and endurance.

He had not, however, fled above a hundred or two of yards beyond the
water, when he heard, at the distance of about three miles behind him,
the sound he most dreaded to hear, the deep bay of bloodhounds. Beyond
doubt, they were on his track; and how was he to shun their
indomitable fury?

He was a man of some resource and skill in woodcraft, although rude
and barbarous in other matters; and, in desperate emergencies, men
think rapidly, and act on the first thought.

The second tone of the dogs had scarcely reached his ear, before he
was rushing backward, as nearly as possible in his own tracks, to the
river, into which, from the first stepping-stone, he leaped
head-foremost, and swam vigorously and lightly down the current, which
bore him bravely on his way. The stream was swift and strong; and its
banks, clothed with thick underwood, concealed his movements from the
eyes of any one on either margin; and he had floated down considerably
more than a mile, before he heard the bloodhounds come up in full cry
to the spot where he had passed the water, and cross over it, cheered
by the shouts and bugle-blasts of the man-hunters.

Then their deep clamor ceased at once, where he had turned on his back
track, and he knew they were at fault, and perceived that the men, by
their vociferations and bugle-notes, were casting them to and fro in
all directions, to recover his scent.

Still he swam rapidly onward, and had interposed nearly another mile
between himself and his pursuers, when he heard, by their shouts
coming down either bank, that they had divined the stratagem to which
he had had recourse, and were trailing him down the margins, secure of
striking his track again, wherever he should leave the river.

He was again becoming very anxious, when a singular accident gave him
another chance of safety. A wood-pigeon, flapping its wings violently
as it took flight, attracted his attention to the tree from which it
took wing. It was a huge oak, overhanging the stream, into which one
of its branches actually dipped, sound and entire below, but with a
large hollow at about twenty feet from the ground, which, as he easily
divined, extended downward to the level of the soil. No sooner seen,
than he had seized the pendulous branch, swung himself up by it,
through a prodigious exertion, and, springing with mad haste from
bough to bough, reached the opening in the decayed trunk. It was a
grim, dark abyss, and, should he enter it, he saw not how he should
ever make his exit. But a nearer shout, and the sounds of galloping
horsemen, decided him. He entered it foot-foremost, hung by his hands
for a moment to the orifice, in hesitation, and then, relaxing his
hold, dropped sheer down through the rotten wood, and spiders'-webs,
and unhealthy funguses, to the bottom of the tunnel-shaped hollow.
Aroused from their diurnal dreams by the crash of his descent, two
great brown-owls rushed out of the summit of the tree, and swooped
down over the heads of the men-at-arms, who just at the instant passed
under the branches, jingling in their panoply, and effectually
prevented any suspicion from attaching to the hiding-place.

For the moment he was safe; and there he stood, in almost total
darkness, shivering with wet and cold, amid noisome smells and damp
exhalations, listening to the shouts of his enemies, as they rode to
and fro, until they were lost in the distance.



    "Now tell me thy name, good fellow, said he,
      Under the leaves of lyne.
    Nay, by my faith, quoth bold Robin,
      Till thou have told mo thine."


Until the last glimmer of daylight had faded out in the west, and
total darkness had prevailed for several hours through the forest,
Eadwulf remained a prisoner in his hollow trunk, unable to discover
the whereabout of his enemies, yet well-assured that they had not
returned, but had taken up some bivouac for the night, not very far in
advance of his hiding-place, with the intention of again seeking for
his trail on the morrow, when they judged that he would have once more
taken the road. But as soon as, looking up the chimney-like aperture
of his hiding-place, he discovered the foliage silvered by the
moonbeams, he scaled the inside of the trunk, not without some
difficulty, working his way upward with his back and knees, after the
fashion of a modern chimney-sweep, and, emerging into the open air,
drew a long breath, and again lowered himself as he had ascended, by
the drooping-branches, and once more entered the channel of the
stream. The rivulet was in this place shallow, with a hard bottom, the
current which was swift and noisy, scarce rising to his knee, so that
he waded down it without much difficulty, and at a tolerable speed.

After he had proceeded in this manner about two miles, he discovered a
red-light in an open glade of the forest, at a short distance ahead,
on the left bank of the river; and, as he came abreast of it, readily
discovered his enemies, with the bloodhounds in their leashes, sitting
or lying around a fire which they had kindled, ready, it was evident,
to resume the search with the earliest dawn. This he was enabled to
discern without quitting the bed of the stream, whose brawling ripples
drowned the sound of his footsteps; and as the water deepened
immediately ahead of him, he again plunged noiselessly, and swam
forward at least two miles farther; when, calculating that he had
given them a task of two or three hours at least before they could
succeed in finding where he had quitted the water-course, if he had
not entirely thrown them out, he took land on the opposite side to
that, on which they were posted, and struck at his best pace across
the waste.

It might have been ten o'clock in the evening when he left the
oak-tree, and, though weary and hungry, he plodded forward at a steady
pace, never falling short of four miles an hour, and often greatly
exceeding that speed, where the ground favored his running, until
perhaps an hour before daybreak. At that darkest moment of the night,
after the moon had set, he paused in a little hollow of the hills,
having placed, as he calculated, at least five-and-thirty miles
between himself and his hunters, lighted a fire, cooked a portion of
his venison, and again, just as the skies began to brighten, got under
way, supposing that at about this hour his foes would resume their
search, and might probably in a couple of hours get the hounds again
upon his scent. Ere that, however, he should have gained another ten
miles on them, and he well knew that the scent would be so cold that
it would be many hours more before they could hunt it up, if they
should succeed in doing so at all.

All day, until the sun was high at noon, he strode onward across the
barren heath and wild moors into which the forest had now subsided,
when, after catching from a hill-top a distant view of a town and
castle to the northward, which he rightly judged to be Skipton, he
reached an immense tract, seeming almost interminable, of green, oozy
morasses, cut up by rivulets and streamlets, and often intersected by
dangerous bogs, from which flowed the interlinked tributaries of the
Eyre, the Ribble, and the Hodder. Through this tract, he was well
aware, neither horse could follow nor bloodhound track him; and it was
overgrown in so many places with dense brakes of willow and alder,
that his flight could not be discovered by the eye from any of the
surrounding eminences. Into this dreary region he, therefore, plunged
joyously, feeling half-secure, and purposely selecting the deepest and
wettest portions of the bog, and, where he could do so without losing
the true line of his course, wading along the water-courses until
about two in the afternoon, when he reached an elevated spot or island
in the marsh, covered with thrifty underwood, and there, having fed
sparingly on the provision he had cooked on the last evening, made
himself a bed in the heather, and slept undisturbed, and almost
lethargically, until the moon was up in the skies. Then he again
cooked and ate; but, before resuming his journey, he climbed a small
ash-tree, which overlooked the level swamp, and thence at once
descried three watch-fires, blazing brilliantly at three several spots
on the circumference of the morass, one almost directly ahead of him,
and nearly at the spot where he proposed to issue on to the wild
heathery moors of Bolland Forest, on the verge of the counties of York
and Lancaster, and within fifty miles of the provincial capital and
famous sands of the latter. By these fires he judged easily that thus
far they had traced him, and found the spot where he had entered the
bogs, the circuit of which they were skirting, in order once more to
lay the death-hounds on his track, where ever he should again strike
the firm ground.

In one hour after perceiving the position of his pursuers, he passed
out of the marsh at about a mile north of the western-most watch-fire,
and, in order as much as possible to baffle them, crawled for a couple
of hundred yards up a shallow runnel of water, which drained down from
the moorland into the miry bottom land.

Once more he had secured a start of six hours over the Normans, but
with this disadvantage--that they would have little difficulty in
finding his trail on the morrow, and that the country which he had to
traverse was so open, that he dared not attempt to journey over it by

Forward he fared, therefore, though growing very weak and weary, for
he was foot-sore and exhausted, and chilled with his long immersion in
the waters, until the sun had been over the hills for about two hours,
much longer than which he dared not trust himself on the moors, when
he began to look about eagerly for some water-course or extensive bog,
by which he might again hope to avoid the scent of the unerring

None such appeared, however, and desperately he plodded onward, almost
despairing and utterly exhausted, without a hope of escaping by speed
of foot, and seeing no longer a hope of concealment. Suddenly when the
sun was getting high, and he began to expect, at every moment, the
sounds of the death-dogs opening behind him, he crossed the brow of a
round-topped heathery hill, crested with crags of gray limestone, and
from its brow, at some thirty miles distance, faintly discerned the
glimmering expanse of Morecambe Bay, and the great fells of
Westmoreland and Cumberland looming up like blue clouds beyond them.

But through the narrow ghyll, immediately at his feet, a brawling
stream rushed noisily down the steep gorge from the north, southerly.
Headlong he leaped down to it, through the tall heather, which here
grew rank, and overtopped his head, but before he reached it, he
blundered into a knot of six or seven men, sleeping on a bare spot of
greensward, round the extinct ashes of a fire, and the carcass of a
deer, which they had slain, and on which they had broken their fast.

Startled by his rapid and unceremonious intrusion into their circle,
the men sprang to their feet with the speed of light, each laying a
cloth-yard arrow to the string of a bended long-bow, bidding him
"Stand, or die."

For a moment, he thought his hour was come; but the next glance
reassured him, and he saw that his fortune had again brought him
safety, in the place of ruin.

The men were Saxons, outlaws, fugitives from the Norman tyranny, and
several of them, like himself, serfs escaped from the cruelty of their
masters. One of them had joined the party so recently, that, like
Eadwulf, he yet wore the brazen collar about his neck, the badge of
servitude and easy means of detection, of which he had not yet found
the means to rid himself.

A few words sufficed to describe his piteous flight, and to win the
sympathy and a promise of protection from the outlaws; but when the
bloodhounds were named, and their probably close proximity, they
declared with one voice that there was not a moment to be lost, and
that they could shelter him without a possibility of danger.

Without farther words, one by one they entered the brook, scattering
into it as if they were about to pass down it to the southward, but
the moment their feet were in the water, turning upward and ascending
the gorge, which grew wilder and steeper as they proceeded, until, at
a mile's distance, they came to a great circular cove of rocks, walled
in by crags of three hundred feet in height, with the little stream
plunging down it, at the upward extremity, small in volume, but
sprinkling the staircase of rocks, down which it foamed, with
incessant sheets of spray.

Scarcely had they turned the projecting shoulder of rock which guarded
the entrance of this stern circle, before the distant bay of the
bloodhounds came heavily down the air; and, at the same instant, the
armed party galloped over the brow of the bare moor which Eadwulf had
passed so recently, cheering the fierce dogs to fresh exertions, and
expecting, so hotly did their sagacious guides press upon the recent
trail, to see the fugitive fairly before them.

Much to their wonder, however, though the country lay before their
eyes perfectly open, in a long stretch of five or six miles, without a
bush, a brake, or apparently a hollow which could conceal a man if he
were in motion, he was not to be discovered within the limits of the

"By St. Paul!" exclaimed the foremost rider; shading his eyes with his
hand, to screen them from the rays of the level sun, "he can not have
gained so much on us as to have got already beyond the range of
eyeshot. He must have laid up in the heather. At all events, we are
sure of him. Forward! forward! Halloo! hark, forward!"

Animated by his cheering cry, the dogs dashed onward furiously,
reached the brink of the rill, and were again at fault. "Ha! he is at
his old tricks again;" shouted the leader, who was no other than
Hugonet, surnamed the Black, the brother of the murdered bailiff. "But
it shall not avail him. We will beat the brook on both banks, up and
down, to its source and to its mouth, if it needs, but we will have
him. You, Wetherall, follow it northerly to the hills with six spears
and three couple of the hounds. I will ride down toward the sea; I
fancy that will prove to be the line he has taken. If they hit off the
scent, or you catch a view of him, blow me five mots upon your bugle,
thus, _sa-sa-wa-la-roa_! and, lo! in good time, here comes Sir Foulke."

And thundering up on his huge Norman war-horse, cursing furiously when
he perceived that the hounds were at fault, came that formidable
baron; for his enormous weight had kept him far in the rear of his
lighter-armed, and less ponderous vassals. His presence stimulated
them to fresh exertions, but all exertions were in vain.

Evening fell on the wide purple moorlands, and they had found no track
of him they sought. Wetherall, after making a long sweep around the
cove and the waterfall, and tracing back the rill to its source, in a
mossy cairn among the hills, at some five miles' distance, descended
it again and rejoined the party, with the positive assurance that the
serf had not gone in that direction, for that the hounds had beaten
both banks the whole way to the spring-head, and that he had not come
out on either side, or their keen scent would have detected him.

Meantime, the other party had pursued the windings of the stream
downward, with the rest of the pack, for more than ten miles, at full
gallop, until they were convinced that had he gone in that direction,
they must long ere this have overtaken him. They were already
returning, when they were met by Wetherall, the bearer of no more
favorable tidings.

Sorely perplexed how their victim should have thus vanished from
them, in the midst of a bare open moor, as if he had been swallowed
up by the earth, _aut tenues evasit in auras_, and half suspecting
witchcraft, or magic agency, they lighted fires, and encamped on the
spot where they had lost his track, intending to resume the research
on the morrow, and, at last, if the latest effort should fail of
recovering the scent, to scatter over the moors, in small parties or
troops, and beat them toward the Lancaster sands, by which they were
well-assured, he meditated his escape.

In the interval, the band of outlaws quickening their pace as they
heard the cry of the bloodhounds freshening behind them, arrived at
the basin, into which fell the scattered rain of the mimic cataract,
taking especial care to set no foot on the moss or sand, by the brink,
which should betray them to the instinct of the ravening hounds.

"Up with thee, Wolfric," cried one of the men to one who seemed the
chief. "Up with thee! There is no time to lose. We must swear him
when we have entered the cave. Forward comrade; this way lies your
safety." And, with the words, he pointed up the slippery chasm of the

Up this perilous ladder, one by one, where to an unpracticed eye no
ascent appeared possible, the outlaws straggled painfully but in
safety, the spray effacing every track of their footsteps, and the
water carrying off every trace of the scent where they had passed,
until they reached the topmost landing-place. There the stream was
projected in an arch from the rock, which jutted out in a bold table;
and there, stooping under the foamy sheet, the leader entered a low
cavern, with a mouth scarce exceeding that of a fox earth, but
expanding within into a large and roomy apartment, where they ate and
caroused and slept at their ease, during the whole day and all the
succeeding night; for the robbers insisted that no foot must be set
without their cavern by the fugitive, until they should have
ascertained by their spies that the Normans had quitted their
neighborhood. This they did not until late in the following day, when
they divided themselves into three parties, and struck off
northwesterly toward the upper sands at the head of the bay, for which
they had evidently concluded that Eadwulf was making, after they had
exhausted every effort of ingenuity to discover the means of his
inexplicable disappearance, on the verge of that tiny rivulet, running
among open moors on the bare hill-sides.

So soon as they were certain of the direction which the enemy had
taken, and of the fact that they had abandoned the farther use of the
bloodhounds, as unprofitable, the whole party struck due westerly
across the hills, on a right line for Lancaster, guiding their
companion with unerring skill across some twenty miles of
partially-cultivated country, to the upper end of the estuary of the
Lon, about one mile north of the city, which dreary water they reached
in the gloaming twilight. Here a skiff was produced from its
concealment in the rushes, and he was ferried over the frith, as a
last act of kindness, by his entertainers, who, directing him on his
way to the sands, the roar of which might be heard already in the
distance, retreated with all speed to their hill fastnesses, from
which they felt it would be most unsafe for them to be found far
distant by the morning light.

The distance did not much exceed four miles; but, before he arrived at
the end, Eadwulf met the greatest alarm which had yet befallen him;
for, just as it was growing too dark to distinguish objects clearly, a
horseman overtook him, or rather crossed him from the northward,
riding so noiselessly over the sands, that he was upon him before he
heard the sound of his tread.

Though escape was impossible, had it been a foe, he started
instinctively to fly, when a voice hailed him friendly in the familiar
Saxon tongue.

"Ho! brother Saxon, this is thou, then, is it?"

"I know not who thou art," replied Eadwulf, "nor thou me, I'll be

"Ay! but I do, though, bravely. Thou art the Saxon with the price of
blood on thy head, whom the Normans have chased these three days, from
beyond Rotherham. They lie five miles hence on the hither side the
Lon, and inquired after thee at twilight. But fear not for me. Only
cross the sands early; the tide will answer with the first gray
glimmer; and thou art safe in Westmoreland. And so God speed thee,

A mile or two farther brought him to the verge of the wet sands, and
there in the last brushwood he laid him down, almost too weary to be
anxious for the morrow.



    Splendor in heaven, and horror on the main!
    Sunshine and storm at once--a troubled day;
    Clouds roll in brightness, and descend in rain.
    Now the waves rush into the rocky bay,
    Shaking the eternal barriers of the land;
    And ocean's face is like a battle-plain,
    Where giant demons combat hand to hand.


It was a wild and wicked morning, in the first red light of which,
Eadwulf, awakening from the restless and uneasy sleep into which he
had last night fallen, among the scattered brushwood growing on the
seaward slope of the sand hills of Lancashire, looked across the wide
sands, now left bare by the recess of the tide, stretching away to the
bleak coasts of Westmoreland and Cumberland, and the huge mountain
ridges, which might be seen indistinctly looming up blue and massive
in the distance inland, distinguishable from clouds only by the hard
abruptness of their outlines, as they cut sharp and clean against the
lurid sky of the horizon.

Along the sea line, which lay grim and dark in ominous repose, the
heaven's glared for a span's breadth, as it appeared to the eye, with
a wild brassy light, above which brooded a solid belt of purple cloud,
deepening into black as it rose upward, and having a distinct,
solid-looking edge, scolloped, as it were, into huge rounded masses,
as material as if they had been earthy hills, instead of mere piles of
accumulated vapor.

These volumed masses lay motionless, as yet, in the brooding calm;
but, all upward to the zenith, the sky was covered with tortured and
distracted wrack-wreaths, some black as night, some just touched by
the sun, which was arising unseen by mortal eyes behind the
cloud-banks which mustered so thick to the eastward, and some glowing
with a fiery crimson gleam, as if they issued from the mouth of a
raging furnace.

Every thing was ominous of a storm, but every thing as yet was calm,
tranquil, and peaceful. In the very quiet, however, there was
something awful, something that seemed to whisper of coming horror.
The wide sands lay gray and leaden at the feet of the observer,
reflecting the lowering clouds which overhung them, except where the
brassy glare of the horizon tinged their extreme verge with an angry
rust-colored hue, that seemed to partake the nature of shadow rather
than of light.

The face of the Saxon fell as he gazed over the fearful waste, beyond
which lay his last hope of safety; for, though he had never before
seen those treacherous sands, he had learned much of their nature,
especially from the outlaws, with whom he found his last shelter; and
he knew, that to cross them certainly and in safety, the passenger on
foot should set out with the receding tide, so as to reach the mid
labyrinth of oozy channels and half-treacherous sand banks, through
which the scanty and divided rivers of the fair lakeland found their
way oceanward, when the water was at its lowest ebb.

Instead of this, however, so heavily had he slept toward morning, the
utter weariness of his limbs and exhaustion of his body having
completely conquered the watchfulness of his anxious mind, that the
tide had so long run out, leaving the sands toward the shore,
especially at this upper end of the bay, bare and hard as a beaten
road, that it might well be doubted whether it had not already turned,
and might not be looked for, ere he could reach the mid-channel,
pouring in, unbroken, as it is wont to do in calm weather, over those
boundless flats, with a speed exceeding that of horses.

There was no time for delay, however; for, from the report of the
horseman who had overtaken him just before twilight, he could not
doubt that his pursuers had not halted for the night farther than five
or six miles in his rear; so that their arrival might be looked for at
any moment, on any one of the headlands along the shore, whence they
would have no difficulty in discerning him at several miles distance,
while traveling over the light-colored surface of the sands.

Onward, therefore, he hastened, as fast as his weary limbs could carry
him, hardly conscious whether he was flying from the greater danger,
or toward it. He had a strong suspicion that the flood would be upon
him ere he should reach the channel of Kent; and that he should find
it an unfordable river, girdled by pathless quicksands. He knew,
however, that be his chances of escape what they might by persisting
onward, his death was as certain, by strange tortures, as any thing
sublunary can be called certain, should the Normans overtake him,
red-handed from what they were sure to regard as recent murder.

On, therefore, he fled into the deceitful waste. At first, the sands
were hard, even, and solid, yet so cool and damp under the worn and
blistered feet of the wretched fugitive, that they gave him an
immediate sense of pleasurable relief and refreshment; and for three
or four miles he journeyed with such ease and rapidity as, compared to
the pain and lassitude with which on the past days he had stumbled
along, over the stony roads, and across the broken moors, that his
heart began to wax more cheerful, and his hopes of escape warmed into
something tangible and real.

Ere long, the sun rose clear above the eastern fog-banks, and all
seemed still fair and tranquil; the sands, dry as yet, and firm,
smiled golden-bright under the increasing warmth and lustre of the
day, and the little rivulets, by which the fresh waters oozed to the
deep, glittered like silver ribbons, checkering the yellow expanse.

The very gulls and terns, as they swooped joyously about his head,
screaming and diving in the sunny air, or skimmed the sands in pursuit
of such small fry as might have been left by the retreat of the
waters, seemed, by their activity and happiness, to give him fresh
hope and strength to support it.

Occasionally he turned, and cast a hurried glance toward the hills he
had just left, down which the slant rays were streaming, to the limit
where the green grass and scattered shrubs gave way to the bare
sea-sands; and, as from each anxious scrutiny of the ground, he
returned to his forward progress without discovering any signs of
peril, his face lighted up anew, and he advanced with a freer and a
bolder foot.

Still so weary was he, and so worn with his past toils, that he made
but little real progress; and when he had been already an hour on the
sands, he had accomplished little more than three miles of his route.
The sands, from the point at which he had entered them, over against
the city of Lancaster, and almost due west from that city to the
nearest accessible headland of the opposite shore, were not less than
nine miles in extent, the deepest and most dangerous parts being those
nearest to the farther coast; but, measured to the place for which he
was making, a considerable distance up the estuary of the Kent, they
were at least three miles longer.

Two or three channels the fugitive had already crossed, and was
rejoiced at finding the sandy bottom, over which the fresh water
flowed some two or three inches deep, perfectly hard and beaten; at
the end of his third mile he reached a broader expanse of water, where
the sands were covered to the width of a hundred yards, and where the
current, if that might be called a current which had scarcely any
perceptible motion downward, took him nearly to the midleg. The
foothold was, moreover, less firm than before, and his heavy brogues
sank to the latchet in the yielding soil. This was the course of the
first and smaller of the two rivers which fall into the eastern side
of the bay from the county of Lancaster, and at about two miles
distant, he could see the course of the second, glittering blue among
the low sand-rollers which divided them.

Here he paused, undecided, for a few moments. He knew not what should
be the depth of the water, or what the nature of the bottom; yet
already he almost doubted, almost feared, that the time was passed,
and that the tide had turned.

He looked southward, in the direction of the sea, which lay broad in
view, though at many leagues distance; and, for the first time, it
struck him that he could hear the moaning roll of its ever restless
waves. He fancied, too, that the sands looked darker and more plashy,
and that the silvery line which marked the margin of the waters, where
the sun glinted on their quiet ripples, appeared nearer than when he
had descended from the solid strand.

But, on the other hand, the sun-lighted slopes and crags of the
opposite Lancastrian shore, near Flockborough Head, and the green
point of Westmoreland, between the mouths of Windermere and the river
Kent, lying in the full blaze of the unintercepted morning, looked
much nearer than they really were, and seemed to beckon him forward
with a smile of welcome. "Even if it be that the tide is turning," he
thought, "I have yet the time to outstrip it; and, the quicker it
mount, the wider the barrier it will place between me and my enemies."

Almost as these ideas passed his mind, a sound came to his ears, which
banished in a moment every thought of the time, the tide, the peril of
the sands.

It was the keen blast of a bugle, clearly winded on the shore from
which he had just departed, but at a point a little higher up, to the
northward, than that at which he had himself left it. In an instant,
before he had even the time to turn round and take observation, a
second bugle, yet farther to the north, took up the cadence, and, as
that died away, yet a third, so faint, and so far to the northward,
that it seemed like a mere echo of the first, replied.

He looked, and, clustered on the brink of the sands, examining the
tracks his feet had left on the moist surface, there stood a little
knot of three or four horsemen, one of whom it was easy to see, by the
glitter of his mail-hood and hauberk, was completely armed. Two miles
higher up, likewise on the shore, was another group, that which had
replied to the first bugle-note, and which was now exchanging signals
with those in the foreground, by the wafture of the pennoncelles which
adorned their long lances.

There was now no longer a doubt. His pursuers had divided themselves
into scattered parties, the better to scour the country, two of which
had already discovered him, while there was evidently a third in
communication with these by bugle-blast, not yet discernible to the
eye, but prepared doubtless to strike across the upper portion of the
sands near the head of the bay, and to intercept his flight, should he
escape his immediate pursuers.

Another wild and prolonged flourish of the bugle, the very note which
announces to the jovial hunters that the beast of chase is afoot, rang
wildly over the sands, was repeated once and again; and then, with a
fierce shout, spurring their heavily-barbed horses, and brandishing
their long lances, the man-hunters dashed forward in pursuit.

The first party rode directly on the track of the fugitive, who toiled
onward in full view as he ran, terror lending wings to his speed,
almost directly northward, with his long shadow streaming westward
over the dank sands, cutting the bright sunshine with a blue, rippling
wake. The second, taking the passage higher up, rode at an oblique
angle to the first pursuers, laying up to the point of Westmoreland,
in order to cut off the fugitive; and, in a few moments afterward, yet
another group might be seen skirting the shore line, as if intent to
intercept him in case of his landing.

The soil and water, spurned from the feet of the heavy chargers, flew
high into the air, sparkling and plashing in the sunshine, like
showers of metallic dust. It was a fearful race--a race for life and
death, with odds, as it would seem, not to be calculated, against the
panting fugitive.

At first, the horses careered easily over the surface, not sinking the
depth of their iron-shoes in the firm substratum, while the man,
whether from fatigue and fear, or that he was in worse ground, labored
and slipped and stumbled at almost every step. The horses gained upon
him at every stride, and the riders shouted already in triumph. It
seemed, indeed, as if his escape was hopeless. The cavalry reached the
first channel; it had widened a little, yet perceptibly, since Eadwulf
had crossed it; but the horses leaped it, or dashed through it,
without an effort.

The fugitive was now nearly in the middle of the sands; but his
pursuers had already crossed, in a few minutes, one half of the space
which it had cost him a painful two hours' toil to traverse; and, with
at least five miles before him yet, what hope that he could maintain
such speed as to run in the ratio of two to three of distance, against
the strength and velocity of high-blooded horses?

But he had now reached the channel of the Beetham-water, and, as he
crossed it, he stooped to ladle up a few drops in the hollow of his
hand, to bathe his parched lips and burning brow. He saw it in an
instant. The tide had turned, the waters were spreading wider and
wider sensibly, they were running not slowly upward, they were salt to
the taste already.

His rescue or his ruin, the flood-tide was upon him; and, strange to
say, what at another time would have aroused his wildest terror, now
wakened a slight hope of safety.

If he could yet reach, yet pass, the channel of the Kent, which lay,
widening every moment, at some two miles farther yet before him, he
might still escape both the cruel waters and the more savage
man-hunters; but the distance was long, the fugitive weak with
fatigue, weaker yet with fear, and the speed of thorough-bred horses
was hard, as yet, behind him.

He paused a moment to watch, as the first party, his direct pursuers,
reached the broad river-bed--they crossed it, and that seemingly
without alarm or suspicion of danger, though their heavily-barbed
horses sank belly-deep in the treacherous ford; but having stemmed it,
as they charged onward, it was clear to Eadwulf that the horses buried
their hoofs deeper at every stride; soon they were fetlock-deep in the
heavy sands.

The second party crossed the same water-course higher up, and with
less trouble; and these were now within two miles of the panting
slave, shouting their war-cries, and spurring yet more furiously
onward, having lost, if they had ever entertained any, all idea of
danger, in the furious excitement of the chase, and taking no heed of
the tokens of imminent and awful peril; and yet those tokens were now
sufficient to appall the boldest.

One of the peculiarities of those terrible and fatal sands is, that
the first approach of those entering tides, which come on, not with
the ordinary roll and thunder of billows and flash of snowy surf, but
swift and silent as the pestilence that flies by night, is harbingered
by no outward and visible sight or sound, but by the gradual and at
first imperceptible conversion of the solid sands into miry and
ponderous sludge, into moving quicksand, into actual water.

When the sounds and sights are heard and seen, it is too late to make
an effort. Death is at hand, inevitable.

And now sights and sounds were both clear, palpable, nigh at hand. The
dull murmur of the inrolling volumes might have been heard by the ears
of any, so that they were not jangled and deafened by the clangor of
their own iron-harness; the long white line of surf might have been
seen by the eyes of any, so that they were not so riveted on some
other object, that they could take heed of naught else within the
range of their vision.

But the pursuers heard, saw nothing--nothing, unless it were the
beating of their own savage hearts, the snorting of their laboring
chargers, the clanking din of their spurs and scabbards, and the
jingle of their chain-mail--unless it were the wretched fugitive,
panting along, with his tongue literally hanging out of his parched
jaws, and his eyes bursting from their sockets, like those of an
over-driven ox, stumbling, staggering, splashing along, often falling,
through the mingled sand and water, now mid-leg deep.

The party which had taken the sands at the most northern point had now
so far over-reached upon the fugitive, that he had no longer a chance
of crossing the course of the Kent in advance of them. If he persisted
in his course, ten minutes more would have placed him under the
counters of their horses and the points of their lances. The other
body, who had followed him directly, had already perceived their
danger, had pulled up, and were retracing their steps slowly, trying
to pick their way through the dryest ground, and, coasting up and down
the side of the Beetham water, were endeavoring to find a ford
passable for their heavy horses. Lower down the bay, by a mile or two,
they were the first to be overtaken, the sands were already all
afloat, all treacherous ooze, around them; the banks, dry places there
were no longer any, were not to be distinguished from the channels of
the rivers.

Suddenly, seeing himself cut off, blinded by his immediate terrors,
and thinking only to avoid the more instant peril, Eadwulf turned
southward--turned toward the billows, which were now coming in, six
feet abreast, not two miles below him, tossing their foamy crests like
the mane of the pale-horse of the Apocalypse, with a sound deeper and
more appalling than the roar of the fiercest thunder. He saw the
hopelessness of his position; and, at the same moment, the first
horror of their situation dawned on the souls of his savage pursuers.

In that one glance, all was revealed to them; every thought, every
incident, every action of their past lives, flashed before the eyes of
their mind, as if reflected in a mirror; and then all was blank.

Every rein was drawn simultaneously, every horse halted where he
stood, almost belly-deep in the sands, snorting and panting, blown and
dead-beat by that fruitless gallop; and now the soil, every where
beneath them and about them, was melting away into briny ooze, with
slimy worms and small eels and lampreys wriggling obscenely, where a
little while before, the heaviest war-horse might have pawed long and
deep without finding water; and the waves were gaining on them, with
more than the speed of charging cavalry, and the nearest shore was
five miles distant.

Within a furlong, on a solitary black stone, which might overtop the
entering flood for an hour's space or better, lay Eadwulf, the serf.
Utterly beaten, unable to move hand or foot, unable even to raise his
head, or look the coming death in the face, where he had fallen, there
he lay.

Two minutes, and the farthest of those horsemen might have taken him,
might have speared him, where he lay, unresisting, unbeseeching. But
none thought of him--none thought of any thing but the sea--the sea.

They paused for an instant to breathe their horses, before turning to
ride that desperate race--but in that instant they saw such a sight as
chilled their very blood. The other party, which had now retreated
before the tide to within a mile of them to the eastward, had now
determined, as it seemed, at all risks, to force their way back
through the channel of the Beetham water, and entered it one by one,
in single file, the unarmed guide leading, and the mail-clad rider
bringing up the rear. Each after each, lower they sank and lower,
their horses struggling and rolling in the surge. Now their croupes,
now their withers disappeared from the eyes of the beholders; now the
necks only of the horses and the bodies of the riders were visible
above the wash. A moment of suspense, almost intolerable, for every
one of those mute gazers felt that he was looking on the counterpart
and perfect picture of what must in a few minutes, more or less, be
his own fate also! A moment, and the guide's horse struggled upward,
his withers reappeared, his croupe--he had cleared the channel, he was
safe. A light page followed him, with the like success; two half-armed
troopers followed; already, presaging safety, a shout of exultation
trembled on the lips of the spectators, when the mail-clad rider on
his heavy horse reached the mid-passage--reached the spot where his
horse should have gradually emerged--then in an instant, in the
twinkling of an eye, before one could breathe a sigh or syllable, a
last "God save him"--he sank, sheer and sudden, as if the bottom had
yawned under him, and without an effort, a cry, a struggle, was sucked

He was there--he was gone; never more to be seen above the face of the
waters. At the same instant, just as they uttered one wild cry of
horror and despair, or ere they could turn their horses' heads
landward, a deep, cold, wet wind breathed upon them; a gray mist swept
down on them, out-running the trampling squadrons of the foamy waves;
a fierce hail storm smote them; and, in an instant, every
thing--shores, billows, skies--vanished from them, wrapped in utter
gloom. Then they dispersed, each struggling through the
rapidly-mounting waters in that direction which he fancied, in his
blindness, should be shoreward. No one of them met other, more, in
this world.

Strange it is to tell, but truths are ofttimes very strange, stranger
than fiction, at that sharp, awful cry, wrenched by the horrible
catastrophe of their comrade from the souls of his pursuers, aroused
from the stupor which had fallen upon him, between the excess of
weariness and the extremity of despair, Eadwulf raised his head. He
saw the white surf tossing and breaking furiously in the distance; he
saw the long line of deep, unbroken, swelling water, which had not
been driven up from the sea, but had gushed and welled upward through
the pores of the saturated sand, rolling in five feet abreast, far in
advance of the white rollers; swifter than either, darker and more
terrible, he saw the ink-black, ragged hail-storm, a mere mist on the
waters' surface--but, above, a contorted pile of solid, convoluted
clouds, driving in, like a hurricane, before the breath of the rushing

But, in that one lightning glance, he saw also, on the dark polished
surface of the smooth water, in advance of the breakers, under the
storm-cloud, a long black object, hurrying down before wind and tide,
with speed exceeding that of the fleetest race horse, right upon the
spot where he sat, despairing. He recognized it, at once, for one of
the leathern coracles, as they were called, or rude fishing-boats of
the natives of those wild and stormy shores; the rudest perhaps, but
at the same time the most buoyant and seaworthy of boats. She was
empty, he saw that at a glance, and rode the waves, outstripping the
breakers, gallantly. Could he reach her, he might yet be saved.

He sat erect on his rock, resolute, with every nerve quivering with
intense excitement, with every faculty braced, ready for the last

The cloud fell on him black as midnight; the fierce wind smote his
elf-locks, making them stream and shiver in its currents; the cutting
hail lashed him with arrowy keenness. Quickly as it came, it passed;
and a gleam of troubled sunshine shimmered through a rent in the black
storm, and glanced like a hopeful smile upon the waters. In that
momentary brilliance, the wretch caught a glimpse of the black boat,
floating past his solitary rock, and without an instant's hesitation,
rushing waist deep into the frothy eddies, fought his way, he never
well knew how, through surge and quicksand, till he had caught her by
the gunwale. Then, spurning the yielding sands with a tremendous
effort, he leaped, or hurled himself rather, into her, and lay for a
breathing-space motionless, and stunned by the very perception of the
strange vicissitude to which he owed his safety.

But it was no time for self-indulgence; and, ignorant as he was,
semi-barbarous, and half-brutalized, he perceived the nature of the
crisis. The oars or paddles by which the coracle was impelled were
lashed by thongs to her row-locks, and, getting them out at once,
Eadwulf plied them vigorously, keeping her right stern before the
entering tide, and pulling with all his might, to outstrip the combing
of each successive roller.

For a short space, the glimmer in the air continued; then the mist
gathered down again, and all was gloom, except the white caps of the
breakers, tossing and shivering in the twilight. But it was now mist
only; the wind had sunk, and the storm-cloud been driven landward.

And now, so dexterously had the serf managed his little vessel, that,
as he shot away from each combing sea-cap, the surges had swept under
instead of over him, and he found himself riding buoyantly on the
long, gentle swell, while the surf, gradually subsiding, ran up the
sands, murmuring hoarsely far before him.

Suddenly, close ahead of him, not as it seemed ten yards from the bow
of the boat, there arose an angry clash of steel, a loud cry, "Jesu!
Jesu Maria!" and a deep groan; and, the next instant, the body of a
riderless horse, with its head half submerged, panting and snorting
out its last agonies, was swept so close to his vessel that he could
have touched it with the oar. One other minute, and a light air was
felt sensibly; the mist began to lift and shiver; the darkness seemed
to melt, and to be penetrated and imbued with the sunbeams, till it
resembled a gauzy screen interposed before a strong light.

Another moment, and it rose bodily from the water, floated upward into
the skies, and left all below laughing, clear in the sunlight. There
was no sand now to be seen, save a narrow yellow stripe on the edge of
the soft verdant points, which stretched out from the shores of
Westmoreland, sparkling in the sun and glittering in the rain-drops,
into the broad bosom of Morecambe Bay, which was now filled with the
tide, though it had not as yet nearly risen to its highest mark--but
here and there, at intervals, dark spots showed in the expanse of
waters, where the tops of the highest sand-banks were scarcely
submerged at all, on which the gentle eddies rippled and sparkled, as
wavelet after wavelet rolled in by its own mounting impulse, but
hastened by no angry gust or turbulent billow.

On one of these sand-banks, having so long escaped, Heaven knows how,
quicksands and breakers, and having made his way thus far landward,
sat a tall, powerful man-at-arms, sheathed from head to heel in a
complete panoply of chain mail. His horse was likewise caparisoned in
the heaviest bardings--chamfront and poitrel, steel demipique and
bard proper--nothing was wanting of the heaviest caparison with which
charger or man ever rode into the tilt-yard or mêlée.

The tide was already above the horse's belly, and the rider's plated
shoes and mail hose were below the surface. Deep water was around him
on every side, the nearest shore a mile distant, and to swim fifty
yards, much less a mile, under that weight of steel, was impossible;
still he sat there, waiting his doom, silent and impassive.

He was the last of the pursuers; he alone of the two parties, who but
three short hours before had spurred so fiercely in pursuit of the
wretched slave, had escaped the fate of Pharaoh and his host, when the
Red Sea closed above them. He alone breathed the breath of life; and
he, certain of death, awaited it with that calm composure, which comes
to the full as much of artificial training as of innate valor.

As the clouds lifted, this solitary man saw, at once, the boat
approaching, and saw who rowed it--saw rescue close at hand, yet at
the same time saw it impossible. His face had hardly the time to relax
into one gleam of hope, before it again settled down into the iron
apathy of despair.

The coracle swept up abreast of him, then paused, as Eadwulf, half
unconsciously, rested on his oars, and gazed into the despairing and
blank features of his enemy. It was the seneschal of Waltheofstow, the
brother of the man whom he had slain in the forest.

Their eyes met, they recognized each other, and each shuddered at the
recognition. For a moment, neither spake; but, after a short, bitter
pause, it was the rider who broke silence.

"So, it is thou, Saxon dog, who alone hast escaped from this

"It is I, man-hunter. Where are thy boasts and threats now? Why dost
not ask the serf, now, for life, for mercy?"

"Because thou couldst not give it, if thou wouldst; and wouldst not,
if thou couldst. Go thy way, go thy way! We shall meet one day, in
that place whither our deeds will carry us. Go thy way, unless thou
wouldst stay, and look how a Norman dies. I fear neither death, nor
thee. Go thy way, and the fiend go with thee."

And, with the word, he went his way, coldly, sternly, pitilessly, and
in silence; for he felt, in truth, that the seneschal had spoken
truly, that he could not save him if he would, unless he would save
his own sworn destroyer. Sullenly, slowly, he rowed onward, reached
the land; and still, as he looked back, with his horse's neck and his
armed trunk eminent above the level waters, glittering in his bright
mail, sat the fearless rider. Wearied and utterly exhausted, both in
mind and body, the serf gazed, half-remorsefully, at the man whom he
had so mercilessly abandoned to his fate, and who bore it so sternly,
awaiting the last inevitable moment with more than a stoic's fortitude
and pride. For a moment he hesitated whether he should pursue his
journey; but an irresistible fascination compelled him to sit down and
await the end, and he did so.

And there those two sat, face to face, at a mile's distance, for a
long half hour, in plain view, each almost fancying that he could
peruse the features, almost fancying that he could read the thoughts
of his enemy--each in agony of soul, and he, perhaps, in the greater
anguish who had escaped, as it would seem, all peril, and for whom
death seemed to wait, distant and unseen, at the end of a far

At the termination of half an hour, there was a motion, a strife--the
water had reached the nostrils of the charger. He tossed his head a
few times, angrily; then, after rearing once or twice, with his rider
yet erect in his saddle, subsided into deep water, and all was over.

Eadwulf crept away up the bank, found a thick dingle in the wood, and,
coiling himself up in its densest spot, slept, dreamless and
unrepentant, until the morrow's sun was high in heaven.



    Brother, be now true to me,
    And I shall be as true to thee;
    As wise God me speed.


The year had by this time worn onward to the last days of summer, or
one might almost say to the earliest days of autumn, and the lovely
scenery of the lake country had begun to assume its most beautiful and
picturesque coloring.

For in the early summer months the hues of the whole region are too
generally green, without any variation except that produced by the
effect of sunshine and shadow. The sides of the turf-covered
mountains, the birch and oak coppices on their lower slopes, the deep
meadows, at their base, are all overspread with the richest and most
intense verdure; even the reflections in the bosom of the clear lakes
preserve the same general tints, diversified only by the cerulean blue
caught from the deep overhanging heavens, and the not dissimilar hue
of the craggy summits of the loftier hilltops, where the slaty
character of the rocks, partly impregnated with iron, partly incrusted
with gray lichens, "overspread in many places," to quote the words of
a fine writer and true lover of nature, "the steep and almost
precipitous sides of the mountains, with an intermixture of colors
like the compound hues of a dove's neck."

"When, in the heat of advancing summer," he proceeds thereafter, "the
fresh green tint of the herbage has somewhat faded, it is again
revived by the appearance of the fern profusely spread every where;
and upon this plant, more than upon any thing else, do the changes,
which the seasons make in the coloring of the mountains depend. About
the first week in October, the rich green, which prevailed through the
whole summer, has usually passed away. The brilliant and various
colors of the fern are then in harmony with the autumnal woods; bright
yellow, or lemon color, at the base of the mountains, melting
gradually, through orange, to a dark russet brown toward the summits,
where the plant, being more exposed to the weather, is in a more
advanced state of decay. Neither heath nor furze are generally found
upon the sides of the mountains, though in some places they are richly
adorned by them. We may add, that the mountains are of height
sufficient to have the surface toward the summits softened by
distance, and to imbibe the finest aërial hues. In common also with
other mountains, their apparent forms and colors are perpetually
changed by the clouds and vapors which float round them; the effect
indeed of mist or haze, in a country of this character, is like that
of magic. I have seen six or seven ridges rising above each other, all
created, in a moment, by the vapors upon the side of a mountain,
which, in its ordinary appearance, showed not a projecting point to
furnish even a hint for such an operation.

"I will take this opportunity of observing, that they who have studied
the appearances of nature feel that the superiority, in point of
visual interest, of mountainous over other countries, is more
strikingly displayed in winter than in summer. This, as must be
obvious, is partly owing to the forms of the mountains, which, of
course, are not affected by the seasons, but also, in no small degree,
to the greater variety that exists in their winter than their summer
coloring. This variety is such, and so harmoniously preserved, that it
leaves little cause of regret when the splendor of the season has
passed away. The oak coppices, upon the sides of the mountains, retain
russet leaves; the birch stands conspicuous with its silver stems and
puce-colored twigs; the hollies, with green leaves and scarlet
berries, have come forth into view from among the deciduous trees,
whose summer foliage had concealed them; the ivy is now plentifully
apparent upon the stems and boughs of the trees, and among the wooded
rocks. In place of the uniform summer-green of the herbage and fern,
many rich colors play into each other over the surface of the
mountains; turf, the tints of which are interchangeably tawny-green,
olive, and brown, beds of withered fern and gray rocks being
harmoniously blended together. The mosses and lichens are never so
flourishing as in winter, if it be not a season of frost; and their
minute beauties prodigally adorn the foreground. Wherever we turn, we
find these productions of nature, to which winter is rather favorable
than unkindly, scattered over the walls, banks of earth, rocks and
stones, and upon the trunks of trees, with the intermixture of several
species of small fern, now green and fresh; and, to the observing
passenger, their forms and colors are a source of inexhaustible

Thus far have I quoted the accurate and simple language of the great
Poet of the Lakes, since, none other that I can choose would place
before the eyes of my readers so vivid a reality of the scenery of
that loveliest portion of picturesque England, in its finest aspect.

It was not, indeed, quite so deep in the season, that all the changes
so beautifully depicted above had yet occurred, when, late in a clear
autumnal evening, Kenric and Edith stood together in the porch of
their new home, gazing across the tranquil bosom of the little mere,
and down the pastoral valley of the Kent, yet the face of the picture
was close to that described in the quotations. The trees, in the level
ground and in the lower valleys, had not lost all their verdure,
though the golden, the russet, and the ruddy-red, had intermingled
largely with the green; the meadows, by the water-edge, had not
changed a tint, a shade of their summer glory, but all the hill-sides
were as they stand painted by the poet-pen of the child of Nature.

The sun was setting far away, to the right hand, as they gazed down
the long dale to the southward, behind the mighty tops of Hawkshead
and Blackcomb, which towered against the gorgeous golden-sky, flecked
with a thousand glowing cloudlets, orange and rosy-red, and glaring
crimson, like a huge perpendicular wall of dusky purple; with the long
basin of Windermere, visible from that elevation over the lower
intervening ridges, lying along their bases as it seemed, though in
truth many miles distant, a sheet of beaten-gold. The lower hills, to
the west of Kentmere, downward to Bowness, whose chapel-window gleamed
like fire in the distance, were shrouded in soft purple haze, and
threw long blue shadows across the rich vale, broken by the slant
golden beams which streamed through the gaps in their summits, in
far-reaching pencils of misty light. At the same time, the little lake
of Kentmere lay at the feet of the spectators, still, clear, and
transparent as an artificial mirror, giving back a counterfeit
presentment of every thing around and above it, only less real than
the actual reality; while toward the precipitous and craggy hills,
behind them and on their left, the westering sun sent forth such
floods of rosy and golden light as illuminated all their projections
and cavities, bringing them, with all their accidents of crag or
coppice, ivy-bush or silvery birch-tree, close to the eye of the
beholder, blended with an intermixture of solemn shadows, seen
distinctly through the clear atmosphere.

Over this scene the happy couple gazed with such feelings as none can
gaze, but they who are good and happy. The sleepy hum of the good
mother's wheel came drowsily through the open doorway; the distant
laugh and cry of the hunter's boys, as they were clearing the kennels
and feeding the hounds for the night, with an occasional bay or
whimper of their impatient charges, rose pleasantly on the night air.
Most of the natural sounds and sights had ceased; the songs of the
birds were silent, for the nightingales visit not those valleys of the
west; the bleat of the flocks was heard no more; the lowing of the
herds had passed homeward; only a few late swallows skimmed the bosom
of the mere, which a leaping trout would break, now and then, with a
loud plash, into a silvery maze of circling dimples; and the jarring
note of the nighthawk, as his swift wing glanced under the brown
shadows of the oak, in chase of the great evening moths, was heard in
the gloaming; and the pinions of the great golden-eagle hung like a
shadow, leagues up in the burning sky.

Perfect contentment was the breathing spirit of the calm and gentle
scene, with something of that heavenly peace which induced the friend
of Izaak Walton to apostrophize the Sabbath, as

    "Sweet day, so calm, so pure, so bright,
    The bridal of the earth and sky;"

and perfect were the contentment and peace which the adjuncts inspired
into the hearts of those, who, of late so hopeless and suffering, now
looked over the face of the fair earth, and thence upward to the
boundless sky, as who should say, "Not in one only, but in both of
these, we have our heritage."

But while they gazed, the sun sunk lower in the west, the round tops
of the vast blue mountains intercepted his lustrous disk, and heavy
twilight fell, like the shadow of a cloud, over the valley and the
steep faces of the north-eastern hills.

Just at this moment, while the girl was whispering something about
entering the house and preparing the evening-meal, she observed her
husband's eye fixed on the declivity of the hills above the lake
shore, and, following the direction of his glance, she speedily
discovered a dark figure making its way in a crouching attitude among
the stunted shrubs, and evidently avoiding, or striving to avoid,

Something between a shudder and a start seemed to shake the manly form
of Kenric for an instant; and his young wife, perceiving it as she
clung to his arm, looked up to his face for explanation.

"Something is going wrong up yonder," said the verdurer; "some
marauder after the roe-deer, I trow. I must up and after him. Give me
my bugle, Edith, my wood-knife, and my gisarme; I will take the black
alan with me; he lies under the settle, by the hearth. Fetch them,

And while she went, he stood gazing with his hawk's eye on the lurking
figure, though it was wonderful, in the distance and gloom, that he
could distinguish even the outlines of the human form. Yet it was
evident that he did distinguish something more than that, for he smote
his thigh with his hand heavily, as he muttered, "It is he, by St.
Edward the Confessor! What new disaster can have brought him hither?"

The next moment Edith stood beside him, bearing the weapons, and
accompanied by the great grizzly deer-grayhound.

"Kenric," she said, as he was leaving her, "this is something more
than mere marauders. There is danger!"

"I trust not, girl," he answered, kindly; "but if there be, I and
Black Balder here, are men enough to brunt it. But hark you, girl, get
supper over as quickly as you may, and have our mother to her chamber,
and the varlets to their quarter in the kennels; and do you sit up,
without a light, mark me, and, whatever shall fall out, be silent. I
may bring some one with me."

"I knew it," she murmured to herself, as she turned away to do his
bidding. "It is Eadwulf. What brings him hither? No good, I warrant

Meanwhile Kenric scaled the crags rapidly, with the hound at his
heels, and, when he reached the spot where he had seen the figure,
halted, and whistled a bar or two of an old Saxon ballad of Sherwood.
It was answered, and from out of the brushwood Eadwulf came, cringing,
travel-soiled, weary, and disaster-stricken, to the knees almost of
his brother.

"So. This is thou, Eadwulf? I thought as much. What brings thee

"Almost as fair cause as I find fair welcome."

"I looked for no other. Thou art a runaway, then, and pursued? Come,
speak out, man, if thou wouldst have me aid thee."

"Thou dost not seem overly glad to see me, brother."

"How should I be glad? When did thy presence ever bring joy, or aught
else than disaster and disgrace? But speak, what brings thee hither?
How hast thou escaped? Art thou pursued? What dost thou require?"

"Last asked, first answered. Rest, refuge, clothing, food, asylum.
Last Monday is a week, I _was_ pursued; pursuit has ceased, but I
misdoubt me I am tracked. By strong hand I escaped, and fleet foot----"

"By red hand?" asked Kenric.

"Ay! red, with the blood of deer!"

"And of man, Eadwulf? Nay! man, lie not to me. Dark as it is, I read
it in thy black brow and sullen eye."

"Well, then, man's blood, if you will. And now, will you yield your
own brother's life a forfeit to the man-hunter, or the hunter of

"No," answered Kenric, sadly; "that must not be. For you _are_ my
brother. But I must know _all_, or I will do nothing. You can tell
me as we go; my home is in the valley yonder. There you can rest
to-night; to-morrow you must away to the wilderness, there to be safe,
if you may, without bringing ruin upon those who, doing all for you,
look for nothing from you but wrong and ingratitude."

"To-morrow! True brotherly affection! Right Saxon hospitality. Our
fathers would have called this _nidering_!"

"Never heed thou that. Tell me all that has passed, or thou goest not
to my house, even for this night only. For myself, I care nothing, and
fear nothing. My wife, and my mother--these, thy blind selfishness and
brute instincts, at least, shall not ruin."

And thereupon, finding farther evasion useless, as they went homeward
by a circuitous path among the rocks and dingles, he revealed all that
the reader knows already, and this farther, which it is probable he
has suspected, that Eadwulf, lying concealed in the forest in
pursuance of some petty depredation, had been a witness of the
dastardly murder of Sir Philip de Morville by the hands of Sir Foulke
d'Oilly and his train, among whom most active was the black seneschal,
who had perished so fearfully in the quicksands.

"Terrible, terrible indeed!" said Kenric, as he ended his tale,
doggedly told, with many sullen interruptions. "Terrible his deed, and
terrible thy deeds, Eadwulf; and, of all, most terrible the deeds of
Him who worked out his will by storm, and darkness, and the terror of
the mighty waters. And of a surety, terrible will be the vengeance of
Foulke d'Oilly. He is not the man to forget, nor are thy deeds, deeds
to be forgotten. But what shall I say to thee, obstinate, obdurate,
ill-doer, senseless, rash, ungrateful, selfish? Already, in this
little time, had Edith and I laid by, out of our humble gains, enough
to purchase two thirds of thy freedom. Ere Yule-tide, thou hadst been
as free a man as stands on English earth, and now thou art an outlaw,
under ban forever, and blood-guiltiness not to be pardoned; and upon
us--us, who would have coined our hearts' blood into gold, to win thy
liberty--thou hast brought the odor, and the burden, and, I scarce
doubt it, the punishment, of thy wicked wilfullness. It were better
thou hadst perished fifty-fold in the accursed sands of Lancaster, or
ere thou hadst done this thing. It were better a hundred-fold that
thou hadst never been born."

"Why dost not add, 'better a thousand-fold thou wert delivered up to
the avenger of blood,' and then go deliver me?"

"Words are lost upon thee," replied his brother, shaking his head
mournfully, "as are actions likewise. Follow me; thou must have
'tendance and rest above all things, and to-morrow must bring forth
the things of to-morrow."

Nothing more passed between them until they reached the threshold of
Kenric's humble dwelling, where, in silence and darkness, with the
door ajar, listening to every distant sound of the fitful breeze or
passing water, the fair young wife sat awaiting them.

She arose, as they entered. "Ah! it is thou, Eadwulf; I thought so,
from the first. Enter, and sit. Wilt eat or bathe first? thou art worn
and weary, brother, as I can see by this gloaming light. There is a
good bed ready for thee, under the rafters, and in the morning thou
wilt awake, refreshed and strong----"

"Thou thoughtst so from the first. I warrant me thou didst--mayhap thy
husband told thee so. Brother, too! _he_ hath not greeted me as
brother. Eat, bathe, sleep? neither of the three, girl. I'll drink
first of all; and, if that please thee, then eat, then sleep; and
bathe when I may, perhaps not at all."

"Bring him the mead-pitcher, Edith, and the big horn, and then avoid
ye. There is blood on his hand, and worse than blood on his soul.
Leave the meat on the board. I'll see to him."

And when his wishes were fulfilled, they were left alone, and a long,
gloomy conversation followed; and, if the dark, sullen, and unthankful
heart of the younger brother was in no sort touched, or his better
feelings--if he had any--awakened, at least his fears were aroused,
and, casting aside all his moroseness, he became a humble, I had
almost said a craven, suppliant for protection.

"Protection!" said Kenric, "I have it not to give, nor can I ask those
who could. I know not, in truth, whether in sheltering you, even now,
I do not risk the safety of all that is dear to me. What I can do, I
will. This night, and all the day to-morrow, I will conceal thee here,
come of it what come may; and, at the dead of the next night, will
guide thee, through the passes, to the upper hill country, where thou
wilt soon find men, like thyself, of desperate lives and fortunes.
Money, so much as I have, I will give thee, and food for thy present
need; but arms, save thy wood-knife, thou shalt take none hence. I
will not break faith nor betray duty to my lord, let what may come of
it; and, if I find thee trespassing on his chase, or hunting of his
deer, I will deal with thee as a stranger, not as a kinsman. No
thanks, Eadwulf; nor no promises. I have no faith in thee, nor any
hope, save that we two may never meet again. And so, good-night."

And with the word, he led him to a low room under the rafters,
furnished with a tolerable bed, but remote from all observation, where
he was tended all the following day, and watched by Edith, or by
himself in person, until the next night settled dark and moonless over
wild fell and mountain tarn; when he conducted him up the tremendous
passes which lead to the desolate but magnificent wilderness,
stretching, in those days, untrodden save by the deer, the roebuck,
the tusky boar, the gray wolf, or the grizzly outlaw, for countless
leagues around the mighty masses of Helvellyn, Saddleback, and
Skiddaw, the misty mountain refuge of all conquered races--of the grim
Celts from the polished Romans, of the effete Britons from the sturdy
Saxons, of the vanquished Anglo-Saxons, from the last victorious

They parted, with oaths of fidelity and vows of gratitude never to be
fulfilled on the part of Eadwulf, with scarce concealed distrust on
the part of Kenric.

It was broad day when the latter returned to his happy home by
Kentmere; and the first object he beheld was his wife, gazing
despondingly on his own crossbow and bolts, each branded with his
name--"Kenric, born thrall of Philip de Morville," of which,
unwittingly he had disarmed his brother on the night of his arrival.

His heart fell as he looked upon the well-known weapons; and thought
that probably it was one of those marked and easily-recognized bolts
which had quivered in the heart of the bailiff of Waltheofstow; but
his wife knew not the dark tale, and he was not the man to disturb her
peace of mind, however his own might be distracted, by any dubious or
uncertain fear.

"It is my old arbalast," he said, "which Eadwulf brought with him from
our ancient home. Lay it aside. I will never use it more; but it will
be as a memento of what we once were, but, thanks to God and our good
lords, are no longer. And now give me my breakfast, Edith; I must be
at the castle, to speak of all this with Sir Yvo, ere noon; I will be
back to-night, girl; but not, I trow, until the northern bear has sunk
behind the hills. Till then, may He keep thee!"

And he was grave and abstracted during all the morning meal, and only
kissed her in silence, and blessed her inwardly, in his own true
heart, as he departed.



    Fair Ellen that was so mild
    More she beheld Triamour the child,
    Than all other men.


Long before the dawn had begun to grow gray in the east, Kenric had
taken his way to the castle, by a direct path across the hills to a
point on the lake shore, where there always lay a small ferry-boat,
for the use of the castellan, his household, and vassals. Edith, to
whom he had told all that he had extorted from Eadwulf, and who, like
himself, clearly foresaw difficulty and danger at hand, arising from
the conduct and flight of the ill-conditioned and ill-starred brother,
went about her household work, most unusual for her, with a melancholy
and despondent heart.

She, who while a serf had been constantly, almost recklessly gay, as
one who had no sorrow for which to care, wore a grave brow, and
carried a heavy heart. For liberty, if it give independence to the
body and its true expansion to the soul, brings responsibility also,
and care. She carolled this morning no blythe old Saxon ballads as she
kneaded her barley cakes, or worked her overflowing churn; she had
this morning no merry word with which to greet the verdurer's boys, as
they came and went from her ample kitchen with messes for the hounds
to the kennels, or raw meat for the eyasses in the mews; and they
wondered not a little, for the kindness and merry humor of their young
mistress had won their hearts, and they were grieved to see her
downcast. She was restless, and unable, as it seemed, to settle
herself to any thing, coming and going from one place to another,
without much apparent object, and every half hour or so, opening the
door and gazing wistfully down the valley, toward the sea, not across
the hills over which her husband had bent his way.

It must have been nearly ten o'clock, in those unsophisticated days
approaching nearly to the dinner hour, when something caught her eye
at a distance, which instantly brought a bright light into it, and a
clear, rich color to her cheek; and she clapped her hands joyously,
crying, "I am so glad! so glad!" Then, hurrying into the house, she
called to the boys, giving them quick, eager orders, and set herself
to work arranging the house, strewing the floor with fresh green
rushes, and decking the walls with holly branches, the bright-red
berries of the mountain ash, wild asters, and such late wood-flowers
as yet survived, with a spirit very different from the listless mood
which had possessed her.

What was the vision that had so changed the tenor of her mind?

Winding through one of those green lanes--which form so exquisite a
feature in the scenery of the lake country, with their sinuous, gray
boundary stone walls, bordered with ashes, hazels, wild roses, and
beds of tall fern at their base, while the walls themselves are
overspread with small ferns, wild strawberries, the geranium, and rich
lichens--there came a fair company, the persons of which were easily
distinguished by Edith, in that clear atmosphere, when at a mile's
distance from the cottage--a mile which was augmented into nearly
three by the meanderings of the lane, corresponding with those of the

In the front rode a lady, the Lady Guendolen, on a beautiful
chestnut-colored Andalusian jennet, with snow-white mane and tail,
herself splendidly attired in a dark murrey-colored skirt, passamented
with black embroidery, and above it a surcoat or tunic, fitting the
body closely a little way below the hips, of blue satin, embroidered
in silver with the armorial bearings of her house--a custom as usual
in those days with the ladies as with the knights of the great houses.
Her head was covered with a small cap of blue velvet, with one white
feather, and on her left hand, covered by a doe-skin hawking-glove,
was set a superb gosshawk, unhooded, so familiar was he with his
bright mistress, and held only by a pair of silver jesses,
corresponding with the silver bells which decked his yellow legs, and
jingled at his every motion. By her side, attending far more to his
fair companion than to the fiery horse which he bestrode, was a young
cavalier, bending over her with an air of the deepest tenderness,
hanging on her words as if they were more than the sweetest music to
his soul, and gazing on her with affection so obvious as to show him a
permitted lover. He was a powerful, finely-formed young man, of six or
eight-and-twenty years, with a frank open countenance, full of
intellect, nobleness, and spirit, with an occasional shadow of deep
thought, but hardly to be called handsome, unless it were for the
expression, since the features, though well cut, were not regular, and
the complexion was too much sun-burned and weather-hardened even for
manly beauty.

Altogether he was, however, a remarkably attractive-looking person. He
sat his horse superbly, as a king might sit his throne; his every
motion was perfect majesty of grace; and when he smiled, so radiant
was the glance lighting up the dark face, that he was, for the moment,
actually handsome. He was dressed in a plain, dark hunting suit, with
a bonnet and feather of the same hue, and untanned deer buskins, the
only ornament he wore being a long blue scarf, of the same color as
the surcoat of his mistress, and embroidered, probably by her hand,
with the same bearings. The spurs in his buskins, however, were not
gilded, and the light estoc, or sharp-pointed hunting-sword, which
hung at his left side, showed by its form that he had not yet attained
the honors of knighthood.

Aradas de Ratcliffe was the heir male of a line, one of the first and
noblest which had settled in the lake country, in the beautiful vale
of Rydal, but a little way distant to the northward from the lands of
Sir Yvo de Taillebois. His father, a baron of great renown, had taken
the Cross when far advanced in life, and proceeding to the Holy Land
with that disastrous Second Crusade, led by Conrad III. the German
Emperor, and Louis VII. of France, at the summoning of Pope Eugene
III., had fallen in the first encounter with the infidels, and dying
under shield, knight-like, had left his infant son with no other
guardian than his mother, a noble lady of the house of Fitz Norman.

She had discharged her trust as became the character of her race; and
so soon as the boy was of sufficient years, he was entered in the
household of Sir Yvo de Taillebois, as the finest school in the whole
realm for the aspirant to honor in arms.

Here, as page and esquire, he had served nearly twenty years of his
life, first following his lord's stirrup, until he was perfect in the
use of his arms, and old enough to wield them; then, fighting in his
train, until he had proved himself of such stern fidelity and valor,
that he became his favorite attendant, and most trusted man-at-arms.

In feudal days, it must be remembered that it was no disgrace to a
scion of the highest family to serve his pagehood under a noble or
knight of lineage and renown; on the contrary, it was both a condition
that must be undergone, and one held as an honor to both parties; so
much so, that barons of the greatest name and vastest demesnes in the
realm would often solicit, and esteem it as a high favor, to have
their sons ride as pages in the train of some almost landless knight,
whose extraordinary prowess should have won him an extraordinary name.

These youths, moreover, as they were nobly born, so were they nobly
entreated; nothing low or mean was suffered to come before them. Even
in their services, nothing menial was required of them. To arm their
lord for battle, to follow him to the tournament or to the field,
where to rush in to his rescue if beaten down, to tend his hurts if
wounded, to bear his messages, and guard his secrets as his own life,
to wait on the ladies--these were the duties of a page in the twelfth
century. Courage, truth, honor, fidelity unto death, courtesy,
humility to the humble, haughtiness to the haughty--these were the
lessons taught him. It may be doubted whether our teachings in the
nineteenth are so far superior, and whether they bear so far better
fruits in the end!

Be this, however, as it may, Aradas de Ratcliffe, having grown up in
the same household with the beautiful Guendolen, though some twelve
years her senior, had grown up to love her; and his promise of manhood
being in no wise inferior to her beauty, his birth equal to her own,
and his dead father an old and trusted friend of Sir Yvo, he was now
riding by her side, not only as her surest defender, but as her
affianced husband; it being settled, that so soon as the youthful
esquire should have won his knightly spurs, the lands of Hawkshead,
Coniston, and Yewdale, should be united with the adjoining demesnes of
Rydal manor, dim with its grand old woods, by the union of the heiress
of De Taillebois to the heir of the proud Ratcliffes.

And now they had ridden forth on this bright and fair autumnal
morning, partly to fly their hawks at the herons, for which the grassy
meads in the vale of Kentmere were famous, partly to visit the new
home of Guendolen's favorite Edith, and more, in truth, than all, to
enjoy the pleasure of a loving _tête-à-tête_; for the girl who
followed her lady kept discreetly out of ear-shot, and amused herself
flirting with the single page who accompanied them; and the rest of
the train, consisting of grooms, falconers, and varlets, bearing the
hawks and leading the sumpter-mules, lagged considerably in the rear.

There was not, however, very much of gayety in the manner of either of
the young people; the fair face of Guendolen was something paler than
its use, and her glad eyes had a beseeching look, even while she
smiled, and while her voice was playful; and there was a sorrowful
shadow on the brow of Aradas, and he spoke in a grave, low tone,
though it was full of gentleness and trust.

In truth, like Jacob of old, when he served for the daughters of
Laban, the young esquire was waxing weary of the long servitude and
the hope deferred. The temporary lull of war, which at that time
prevailed over both England and the French provinces belonging to the
crown, gave him no hope of speedily winning the desired spurs; and the
bloody wars, which were in progress on the shores of the sister
island, though fierce and sanguinary enough to satisfy the most eager
for the perils and honors of the battle-field, were not so evidently
favored by the monarch, or so clear from the taint of piracy, as to
justify a cavalier, of untainted character and unbroken fortunes, in
joining the invaders. But in this very year had the eyes of all the
Christian world been strongly turned toward Palestine, where Baldwin
IV., a minor, and a leper, and no match for the talents and power of
the victorious Saladin, sat feebly on the throne of the strong
crusading Kings of Jerusalem, which was now tottering to its fall,
under the fierce assaults of the Mussulman.

Henry II. and Louis of France had sworn to maintain between them the
peace of God, and to join in a third Crusade for the defense of the
Tomb of Christ and the Holy City. In this war, Aradas saw the
certainty of winning knighthood; but Guendolen, who would have armed
her champion joyously, and buckled on his sword with her own hand, for
any European conflict, shuddered at the tales of the poisoned
sarbacanes and arrows with which report armed the gigantic
Saracens--shuddered at the knives of the assassins of the
mountains--at the pestilences which were known to brood over those
arid shores; and yet more, at the strange monsters, dragons, and
winged-serpents--nay, fiends and incarnate demons--with which
superstitious horror peopled the solitudes which had witnessed the
awful scenes of the Temptation, the Passion, and the Death, of the Son
of God.

In short, she interposed her absolute nay, with the quiet but positive
determination of a woman, and clinched it with a woman's argument.

"You do not love me, Aradas," she said; "I know you do not love me, or
you would never think of speaking of that fearful country, or of
taking the Cross--that country, from which no one ever returns
alive--or, if he do return, returns so bent and bowed with plague and
fever, or so hacked and mangled by the poisoned weapons of the
savages, that he is an old man ere his prime, and dead before---- No,
no! I will not hear of it! No, I will not! I will not love you, if you
so much as breathe it to me again, Aradas!"

"That were a penalty," said the young man, half-sadly smiling; "but,
can you help it, Guendolen?"

"Don't trust in that, sir," she said. "One can do any thing--every
thing--by trying."

"Can one, pardie! I would you would show me, then, how to win these
spurs of gold, by trying."

"I can. Be firm, be faithful, and, above all, be patient. Remember,
without hope, without patience, there is no evidence of faith; without
faith, there is, there can be, neither true chivalry nor true love.
Besides, we are very young, we are very happy as we are; occasion will
come up, perhaps is at hand even now; and--and--well, if I am worth
having, I am worth waiting for, Beausire Aradas; and if you don't
think so, by'r lady, you'd better bestow yourself where----"

"Whoop! whoop! So ho! He mounts! he mounts!" A loud shout from the
rear of the party interrupted her. In the earnestness of their
conversation, they had cleared the confines of the winding lane, and
entered, without observing it, a beautiful stretch of meadow-land,
intersected by small rivulets and water-courses, sloping down to the
lake shore. Some of the grooms and varlets had spread out over the
flat grass-land, beating the reeds with their hawking-poles, and
cheering their merry spaniels. The shout was elicited by the sudden
uprising of the great, long-necked hermit-fisher, from a broad reed
belt by the stream-side, flapping his broad gray vans heavily on the
light air, and stretching his long yellow legs far behind him, as he
soared skyward, with his harsh, clanging cry.

All eyes were instantly turned to the direction of the shout, and
every heart bounded at the sight of the quarry.

"Whoop! Diamond! whoop!" cried the young girl, as she cast off her
gallant falcon; and then, seeing her lover throw off his long-winged
peregrine to join in the flight, "A wager, Aradas. My glove on
'Diamond' against 'Helvellyn.' What will you wager, Beausire?"

"My heart!"

"Nay! I have that already. Else you swore falsely. Against your
turquoise ring. I'll knot my kerchief with it."

"A wager! Now ride, Guendolen; ride; if you would see the wager won."

And they gave the head to their horses, and rode furiously. No riding
is so desperate, it is said, no excitement so tremendous, as that of
the short, fierce, reckless gallop in the chase where bird hunts bird
through the boundless fields of air. Not even the tremendous burst and
rally of the glorious hunts-up, with the heart-inspiring crash of the
hounds, and the merry blare of the bugles, when the hart of grease has
broken covert, and the pack are running him breast high.

In the latter, the heart may beat, the pulse may throb and quiver, but
the eye is unoccupied, and free to direct the hand, to rule the
courser's gallop, and mark the coming leap. In the former, the eye, as
the heart, and the pulse, and the ear, are all bent aloft, up! up!
with the straining, towering birds; while the steed must pick its own
way over smooth or rough, and the rider take his leaps as they chance
to come, unseen and unexpected. Such was the glorious mystery of

The wind, what little of it there was when the heron rose, was from
the southward, and the bird flew before it directly toward the cottage
of Kenric, rising slowly but strongly into the upper regions of air.
The two falcons, which were nearly half a mile astern of the quarry
when they were cast off, flew almost, as it seemed, with the speed of
lightning, in parallel lines about fifty yards apart, rising as he
rose, and evidently gaining on him at every stroke of their long,
sharp pinions, in pursuit. And in pursuit of those, their riders
sitting well back in their saddles, and holding them hard by the head,
the high-blooded horses tore across the marshy plain, driving
fragments of turf high into the air at every stroke, and sweeping over
the drains and water-courses which obstructed their career, like the
unbridled wind. It was a glorious spectacle--a group of incomparable
splendor, in coloring, in grace, in vivacity, motion, fire, sweeping
through that panorama of magnificent mountain scenery.

The day was clear and sunny, the skies soft and transparently blue;
but, ever and anon, huge clouds came driving over the scene, casting
vast purple-shadows over the green meadows and the mirrored lake. One
of these now came sweeping overhead, and toward it towered the
contending birds. The heron, when he saw that he was pursued, uttered
a louder and harsher cry, and began to scale the sky in great aërial
circles. Silent, in smaller circles, towered the falcons, each emulous
to out-top the others. Up! up! higher and higher! Neither victorious
yet, neither vanquished. Now! now! the falcons are on a level with
him, and again rings the clanging shriek of the wild water-bird, and
he redoubles his last effort. He rises, he out-tops the hawks, and all
vanish in an instant from the eyes of the pursuers, swallowed up in
the depths of the great golden cloud.

Still the harsh clanking cry is heard; and now, as they and the cloud
still drift northward, they reappear, now all descending, above the
little esplanade before the cottage-door where Edith stands watching.

The heron is below, falling plumb through the air with his back
downward, his wings flapping at random, his long neck trussed on his
breast, and his sharp bill projecting upward, perilous as the point of
a Moorish assagay. The falcons both above him, towering for the swoop,
Aradas' Helvellyn the topmost.

He pointed to the birds with his riding-rod triumphantly, and glancing
an arch look at his mistress, "Helvellyn has it," he said; "Palestine
or no Palestine, on the stoop!"

"On the hawks!" she replied; "and heaven decide it!"

"I will wear the glove in my casque in the first career," and, as he
spoke, the falcon closed his wings and came down with a swoop like
lightning on the devoted quarry. The rush of his impetuous plunge,
cleaving the air, was clearly audible, above the rustling of the
leaves and the noise of the pursuers.

But the gallant heron met the shock unflinching, and Helvellyn,
gallant Helvellyn, came down like a catapult upon the deadly beak of
the fierce wader, and was impaled from breast to back in a second.
There was a minute of wild convulsive fluttering, and then the heron
shook off his assailant, who drifted slowly down, writhing and
struggling, with all his beauteous plumes disordered and bedropped
with gore, to the dull earth, while, with a clang of triumph, the
victor once more turned to rise heavenward.

The cry of triumph was premature, for, even as it was uttered, brave
Diamond made his stoop. Swift and sure as the bolt of Heaven, he found
his aim, and, burying his keen singles to the sheath in the back of
the tortured waterfowl, clove his skull at a single stroke of the
trenchant bill.

"Hurrah! hurrah! brave Diamond," cried the delighted girl. "No
Palestine! no Palestine! For this, your bells and jesses shall be of
gold, beautiful Diamond, and your drink of the purest wine of

And, giving head to her jennet, the first of all the train she reached
the spot where the birds lay struggling on the grass within ten yards
of Kenric's door, and, as she sprang from her saddle, was caught in
the arms of Edith.

"God's blessings on you! welcome! welcome! dearest lady," cried the
beautiful Saxon, raining down tears of gratitude.

"Thanks, Edith; but, quick! quick! help me save the falcon, lest the
heronshaw hurt him. My life was at stake on his flight, and he has
saved my life!"

"The heronshaw is dead enough, lady, he will hurt nothing more," said
the Saxon, following her lady, nevertheless, to secure the gallant
gosshawk, which in a moment sat pluming his ruffled feathers, and
glaring at her triumphantly with his clear golden eye, as he arched
his proud neck to her caresses, on the wrist of his fair mistress.

It seemed as though he knew that he had won her wager.

The hour of the noonday meal had now fully arrived, and the sumpter
mules were soon brought up, and carpets spread on the turf, and flasks
and barrels, pasties and brawns, and huge boars' heads unpacked in
tempting profusion, and all preparations made for a meal in the open

But Edith pleaded so hard that her dear lady, to whom she owed more
than life, whom she loved more than her own life, would honor her
humble roof, would suffer the choicest of the viands to be borne into
her pleasant, sunny room, and taste her home-brewed mead, that
Guendolen, who was in rapture at her triumph, readily consented, and
Aradas, who was pleased to see Guendolen happy, made no opposition.

So, while amid loud merriment, and the clang of flasks and beakers,
and the clash of knives and trenchers, their train fared jovially and
lustily without, they feasted daintily and happily within the Saxon's

And the sunny room was pleasant; and the light played cheerfully on
the polished pewter trenchers on the dresser, and the varnished holly
and scarlet berries, and bright wild-flowers on the wall; and the
sparkling wood fire was not amiss after the gallop in the clear air;
and Guendolen preferred the light, foaming mead of the Saxon
housewife, to the wines of Gascony and Bordeaux; and all went happily
and well.

Above all, Edith gained her point. She got occasion to tell the tale
of Eadwulf's flight, arrival, and departure, and obtained a promise of
protection for her husband, in case he should be brought in question
for his share in his brother's escape; and even prevailed that no
search should be made after Eadwulf, provided he would keep himself
aloof, and commit no offense against the pitiless forest laws, or
depredations on the people of the dales.

Many strange emotions of indignation, sympathy, horror, alternately
swept through the mind of Guendolen, and were reflected from her
eloquent eyes; and many times did Aradas twirl his thick mustache, and
gripe his dagger's hilt, as they heard the vicissitudes of that
strange tale--the base and dastardly murder of the noble and good Sir
Philip de Morville; the slaying of the bailiff by the hand of Eadwulf,
which thus came to look liker to lawful retribution than to mere
homicide; the strange chances of the serf's escape; the wonderful
wiles by which he had baffled the speed of horses and the scent of
bloodhounds; and the final catastrophe of the sands, swallowing up, as
it would seem, well-nigh all the slaughterers of Sir Philip, while
sparing the panting and heart-broken fugitive. It was indeed a tale
more strange and horrible than any thing, save truth.

They sat some time in silence, musing. Then suddenly, as by an
impulse, their eyes met. Their meaning was the same.

"Yes!" he said, bowing his head gravely, in answer to what he read in
her look, "there may be an occasion, and a very noble one."

"And for such an one, I will bind my glove on your casque, and buckle
your sword to your side very gladly."

"Amen!" said he. "Be it as God wills. He will defend the right."

So, bidding their pretty hostess adieu, not leaving her without a
token of their visit and good-will, they mounted and rode homeward,
thinking no more of the sport; graver, perhaps, and more solemn in
their manner; but, on the whole, happier and more hopeful than when
they set forth in the morning.

And Edith, though she understood nothing of the impulses of their
hearts, was grateful and content; and when her husband returned home,
and, hanging about his neck, she told him what she had done, and how
she had prospered, and received his approbation and caresses, was that
night the happiest woman within the four seas that gird Britain.



    _Count._ If thou be he, then thou art prisoner.
    _Tal._ Prisoner to whom?


For several days after the visit of the Lady Guendolen and her lover
to the house of the verdurer of Kentmere, rumors, many of which had
been afloat since the catastrophe on the sands, began to increase
among the dalesmen, of strangers seen at intervals among the hills or
in the scattered hamlets, seeming to observe every thing, but
themselves carefully avoiding observation, asking many questions, but
answering none, and leaving a general impression on the minds of all
who saw them, that they were thus squandered, as it were, through the
lake country, as spies, probably of some marauding band, but certainly
with no good intent. These individuals bore no sort of resemblance, it
was said, or affinity one to the other, nor seemed to have any league
of community between them, yet there was an unanimous sentiment,
wherever they came and went, which they ordinarily did in succession,
that they were all acting on a common plan and with a common purpose,
however dissimilar might be their garb, their occupation, or their
immediate purpose. And widely dissimilar these were--for one of those
suspected was in appearance a maimed beggar, displaying the
scallop-shell of St. James of Compostella, in token that he had
crossed the seas for his soul's good, and vowing that he had lost his
left arm in a sanguinary conflict with the Saracens, who were
besieging Jerusalem, in the valley of Jehoshaphat; a second was a
dashing pedler, with gay wares for the village maidens, and costlier
fabrics--lawns from Cyprus, and silks and embroideries of Ind, for the
taste of nobler wearers; another seemed a mendicant friar, though of
what order it was not by any means so evident, since, his tonsure
excepted, his apparel gave token of very little else than raggedness
and filth.

Nearly a week had passed thus, when, at a late hour in the afternoon,
word was conveyed to the castle of Sir Yvo, under Hawkshead, by the
bailiff, in person, of the little town of Kendal, which lay about
midway between Kentmere and the bay, that a small body of horse,
completely armed, having at their head a gentleman apparently of rank,
had entered the town about mid-day, demanded quarters for the night
for man and horse, and sent out one or two unarmed riders, as if to
survey the country. In any part of England traversed by great roads,
this would have created no wonder or surmise; for hundreds of such
parties were to be seen on the great thoroughfares every day, few
persons at that period journeying without weapons of offense and arms
defensive, and gentlemen of rank being invariably attended by bodies
of armed retainers, which were indeed rendered indispensable by the
prevalence of private feuds and personal hostilities which were never
wholly at an end between the proud barons, whose conterminous lands
were constant cause of unneighborly bickerings and strife.

In these wild rural districts, however, it was quite different, where
the roads merely gave access and egress to the country lying below the
mountains, but opened no thoroughfare either for trade or travel,
there being no means of approach from that side, even to Penrith or
Carlisle, already towns of considerable magnitude, lying but a few
miles distant across the vast and gloomy fells and mountains, except
by the blindest of paths, known only to shepherds and outlaws, leading
through tremendous passes, such as that terrible defile of
Dunmailraise, famous to this day for its stern and savage grandeur.
Hence it came, that, unless it were visitors to some of the few
castles or priories in the lower valleys, such as Furness Abbey,
Calder Abbey, Lannercost Priory, Gleaston Castle, the stronghold of
the Flemings, Rydal, the splendid manor of the Ratcliffes, this
fortalice of De Taillebois, at Hawkshead, and some strong places of
the Dacres and Cliffords, yet farther to the east, not constituting in
the whole a dozen within a circumference of fifty miles, no strangers
were ever seen in these secluded valleys, without exciting wonder, and
something of consternation.

So it was in this instance; and so urgent did it appear to Sir Yvo,
that, although he was just sitting down to supper when his officer
arrived--for Kendal was his manorial town, where he held his courts,
leet and baron--that he put off the evening meal an hour, until he
should have heard his report, and examined into all the circumstances
of the case.

Then commending his bailiff for his discretion, he dismissed him, with
orders to make all speed home again, without signifying at Kendal
whither he had been, to give all heed and courteous attention to the
strangers, keeping ever a sharp eye on their actions, and to expect
himself in the burgh ere midnight.

This done, he returned to the hall, as calm as if nothing had occurred
to move him, though he was indeed doubly moved, both as lord of the
manor and sheriff of the country; and, merely whispering to Aradas to
have fifty lances in the saddle within an hour, and to dispatch a
messenger to have the horse-boats ready on the lake, opposite to
Bowness, took his place at the board-head, with his fair child on his
right, and the young esquire on the left, and carved the roe venison
and moor fowl, and jested joyously, and quaffed his modicum of the
pure light wines of Gascony, as if he had nothing on hand that night
beyond a walk on the battlements, before retiring. So soon, however,
as supper was over, he bade his page go up to his private apartment,
and bidding Aradas look sharp, for there was little time to lose, he
told Guendolen, with a smile, that he should make her chatelaine for
the night, since he must ride across the lake to Kendal.

"To-night, father!" she exclaimed, astonished, "why, it is twenty
miles; you will not be there before daybreak."

"Oh, yes, by midnight, girl, if we spur the sharper; and it is partly
on your business that I go, too, child; for I fancy there is something
afoot, that bodes no good to your friend Kenric; but we'll nip it in
the bud, we'll nip it in the bud, by St. Agatha!"

"Ah!" said the girl, turning pale, "there will be danger, then----"

"Danger!" said the old knight, looking at her sharply, "danger, not a
whit of it! It is but that villain d'Oilly, with a score of spears of
Sherwood. I must take fifty lances with me, for, as sheriff, I must
keep peace without spear-breaking; were it not for that, I would meet
him spear to spear; and he should reckon with me, too, for poor Sir
Philip, ere we parted, as he shall do yet, one day, although I see not
how to force him to it. So now, kiss me, silly minion, and to bed with
you while I go arm me."

And the stout old warrior strode up to his cabinet, whence he
descended in half an hour, armed _cap-a-pie_ in chain mail, plate
armor not having yet come into use, with his flat-topped casque on his
head, his heater-shaped shield hung about his neck, and his huge,
two-handed sword crossing his whole person, its cross-hilt appearing
above his left shoulder, and its tip clashing against the spur on his
right heel. As he entered the court of the castle, his men were all in
their saddles, sitting firm as pillars of steel, each with his long
lance secured by its sling and the socket attached to the stirrup,
bearing a tall waxen torch in his right hand, making their mail-coats
flash and twinkle in the clear light, as if they were compact of
diamonds. Aradas was alone dismounted, holding the stirrup for his
lord until he had mounted, when he sprang, all armed as he was, into
the saddle. The banner-man at once displayed the square banner of his
lord, the trumpeter made the old ramparts ring with the old gathering
blast of the house of De Taillebois, and, two and two, the glittering
men-at-arms, defiled through the castle gate, and wound down the steep
hill side, long to be traced from the battlements, now seen, now lost
among the woods and coppices, a line of sinuous light, creeping, like
a huge glow-worm, over the dark champaign.

Before they reached the lake shore, however, the moon rose, round and
red, from behind the Yorkshire fells; and, extinguishing their
flambeaux, they pricked rapidly forward through the country, which,
intricate as it was, soon became as light as at noonday.

On the other side of the lake, circumstances of a very different
nature, though arising from the same causes, were occurring. Early in
the afternoon, while Kenric was absent on his rounds, a single rider,
plainly clad, and unarmed, except his sword, made his appearance,
riding up the valley from the direction of Kendal, and soon pulling up
at the cottage, inquired the road to Rydal. Then, on being informed
that there was no pass through the hills in that direction, and that
he ought to have turned off to the eastward, through a gap five miles
below, he asked permission to dismount and rest himself and his horse
awhile, a favor which Edith readily conceded. Oat cakes and cheese,
then, as now, the peculiar dainties of the dalesmen, with home-brewed
mead, were set before him, his horse was fed, and every act of
hospitality which could be done to the most honored guest was extended
to him.

He observed every thing, noted every thing, especially the crossbow
which Eadwulf had brought with him on his late inopportune arrival,
learned the name and station of his entertainer, and how he was the
tenant of the Lord of Hawkshead, Yewdale, Coniston, and Kentmere, and
verdurer of the forest in which he dwelt; and then, offering money,
which was refused, mounted his horse, and rode back toward Kendal more
rapidly then he came.

So soon as Kenric returned from his rounds, he was informed of all
that had passed, when, simply observing, "Ha! it has come already, has
it? I scarce expected it so soon," he bade one of the boys get the
pony ready, and prepare himself to go round the lake to the castle,
and then sat down with his wife to the evening meal, which she had
prepared for him.

When they were alone, "Now, Edith, my dear," he said, "the time has
come for which we have been so long waiting. I know for certain that
Sir Foulke d'Oilly is in Kendal, and our good lord will know it
likewise before this time. Therefore there is no danger that will not
be prevented almost before it is begun. That I shall be taken, either
by violence or by legal arrest, this night, is certain--though I think
probably by violence, since no true caption may be made after sunset."

"Then, why not escape at once?" asked his fair wife, opening her great
blue eyes wider than their wont. "Why not go straight to the castle,
and place yourself in my lord's safeguard?"

"For two reasons, wife of mine, each in itself sufficient. First, this
is my post, and I must hold it, until removed or forced from it.
Second, my lord deems it best I should be taken now, and the matter
ended. But this applies not to you or my mother. The Normans must find
neither of you here; no woman, young or old, is safe where Foulke
d'Oilly's men are about. You must wrap the old woman as warm as you
may, and have her off on the pony to Ambleside as quickly as may be.
Ralph shall go with you. I am on thorns and nettles until you are

"I will never leave you, Kenric. It is useless to speak of it--never!"

"Oh! yes, you will, Edith," he answered, quietly. "Oh! yes, you will,
for half a dozen reasons; though one is enough, for that matter.
First, you will not see my mother dead through your obstinacy. Second,
you will not stay to be outraged yourself, before my very eyes,
without my having power to aid you----"


"It is mere truth, Edith. Thirdly, it is your duty to go; and last, it
is my will that you go, and I never knew you refuse that."

"Nor ever will, Kenric; though it break my heart to do it."

"Tush! tush! girl; hearts are tough things, and do not break so
easily; and when you kiss me to-morrow at the castle, you'll think of
this no more. See, here's the boy with the pony and the pillion. Now,
hurry, and coax my mother out, and get on your cloak and wimple,
that's a good lass. I would not have you here when Foulke d'Oilly's
riders come, no! not to be the Lord of Kentmere. Hurry! hurry!"

Many minutes had not passed, before, after a long embrace, and a flood
of tears on the part of Edith, the two women mounted on the sturdy
pony, the wife in the saddle, and the aged mother seated on a sort of
high-backed pillion--made like the seat of an arm-chair--and secured
by a broad belt to the waist of her daughter, took their way across
the wooded hills toward Ambleside, the boy Ralph leading the animal by
the head, and two brace of noble alans, his master's property, which
Kenric did not choose to expose to the cupidity of his expected
captors, gamboling in front, or following gravely at heel, according
to their various qualities of age and temper.

The son and husband gazed after them wistfully, so long as they
remained in sight; and when, as they crossed the last ridge of the low
intermediate hills which divide the narrow glen of the upper Kent from
the broader dale of Windermere, standing out in bold relief against
the strong light of the western sky, Edith waved her kerchief, he drew
his hard hand across his brow, turned into his desolate dwelling, and,
sitting down by the hearth, was soon lost in gloomy meditation.

Darkness soon fell over lake and meadow, mountain and upland. Hundreds
of stars were twinkling in the clear sky, to which a touch of frost,
not unusual at this early season among those hill regions, had lent an
uncommon brilliance, but the moon had not yet risen.

Kenric was now becoming restless and impatient, and, as is frequently
the case when we are awaiting even the most painful things, which we
know to be inevitable, he soon found himself wishing that the time
would come, that he might know the worst, and feeling that the
suspense was worse than almost any reality.

Several times he went to the door, and stood gazing down the valley,
over the brown woods and gray, glimmering waters, to look and listen,
if he might discover any signs of the coming danger. But his eyes
could penetrate but a little way into the darkness, and no sounds came
to his ears, but the deep sough of the west wind among the pine boughs
of the mountain top, the hoarse ripple of the brook brawling against
the boulders which lay scattered in its bed, and the hooting of the
brown owls, answering each other from every ivy-bush and holly-brake
on the wooded hill-sides.

Nothing could be more calm or peaceful than the scene, nothing less
indicative of man's presence, much more of his violence and angry
passions. Not even the baying of a solitary house-dog awoke the
echoes, though oftentimes the wild, yelping bark of the fox came sharp
from the moorland, and once the long-drawn howl of a wolf, that most
hideous and unmistakable of savage cries, wailed down the pass like
the voice of a spirit, ominous of evil.

The hunter's spirit was aroused in the watcher by the familiar sound.
He listened intently, but it was heard no more, and, shaking his head,
he muttered to himself, "He is up in the dark corrie under Norton
pike; I noted the wool and bones of lambs, and the spoil of hares
there, when I was last through it, but I laid the scathe to the foxes.
I knew not we had a wolf so nigh us. Well, if they trap not me
to-night, I'll see and trap that other thief to-morrow. And thinking
of that, since they come not, I trow there is no courtesy compels me
to sit up for them, and there's some thing in my head now that chimes
a later hour than vespers. I'll take a night-cap, and lay me down on
the settle. Gilbert, happy dog, has been asleep there on the hearth
these two hours;" and, suiting the action to the word, he drew a
mighty flagon of mead, quaffed it to the dregs, and, throwing a heavy
wooden bar across the door, wrapped his cloak about him, and, casting
himself on a settle in the chimney corner, was soon buried in deep

When he woke again, which he did with a sudden start, the moon was
shining brightly through the latticed casements, and there were sounds
on the air which he easily recognized as the clash of mail coats and
the tramp of horses, coming up at a trot over the stony road. Looking
out from a loop beside the door, he perceived at once that the moment
he expected had arrived. Ten men, heavily armed, but wearing
dark-colored surcoats over their mail, and having their helmets cased
with felt, to prevent their being discovered by the glimmering of the
steel in the moonlight, had ridden up to the foot of the little knoll
on which the cottage stood, and were now concerting their future

While he gazed, nine of the men dismounted, linking their horses, and
leaving them in charge of the tenth. Four then filed off to keep
watch, and prevent escape from the rear, or either end of the
building; and then, at a given signal, the others marched up to the
door, and the leader struck heavily on the panel with the haft of a
heavy battle-ax, crying, "Open! on pain of death! open!"

"To whom? What seek you?" asked Kenric, whose hand was on the bar.

"To me, Foulke d'Oilly. I seek my fugitive villeyn, Eadwulf the Red.
We have traced him hither. Open, on your peril, or take the

"The man is not here; natheless, I open," replied Kenric; and, with
the word, he threw open the door; and the men-at-arms rushed in,
brandishing their axes, as if they expected resistance. But the Saxon
stood firm, tranquil, and impassive, on his hearthstone, and gave no
pretext for violence.

"And who may you be, sirrah," cried the leader, checking the rudeness
of his vassals for the moment, "who brave us thus?"

"Far be it from me," said he, "to brave a nobleman. I am a free Saxon
man, Kenric, the son of Werewulf, tenant in fee to my Lord of
Taillebois, and his verdurer and forester for this his manor of

"Thou liest," said one of the men-at-arms. "Thou art Eadwulf the Red,
born thrall of Sir Philip de Morville, on his manor of Waltheofstow,
and now of Sir Foulke d'Oilly, who has succeeded to the same."

"Thou liest!" replied Kenric, stoutly. "And I will prove it on thy
body, with permission of Sir Foulke d'Oilly, with quarterstaff or
gisarme, battle-ax or broadsword."

"Art sure this is he, Damian? Canst swear to the man? Is there any
other here, who knows the features of the fellow Eadwulf, to witness
them on oath? Light yonder cresset from the embers on the hearth;
advance it to his face! Now, can you swear to him?"

The torch was thrust so rudely and so closely into his face, that it
actually singed his beard; yet he started not, nor flinched a hair's

"I can," said the man who had first spoken, stubbornly. "That is
Eadwulf the Red. I have seen him fifty times in the late Sir Philip's
lifetime; and last, the day before he fled and slew your bailiff of
Waltheofstow in the forest between Thurgoland and Bolterstone, in
September. I will swear to him, as I live by bread, and hope to see

"And I," exclaimed another of the men, after examining his features,
whether deceived by the real similitude between them and his brother,
which did amount to a strong family likeness, though the color of the
hair and the expression of the two men were wholly dissimilar, or only
desirous of gratifying his leader. "I know him as well as I do my own
brother. I will swear to him any where."

"You would both swear falsely," said Kenric, coolly. "Eadwulf is my
brother, son of Werewulf, son of Beowulf, once henchman to Waltheof,
of Waltheofstow, and a free Saxon man before the Conquest."

"I will swear to him, also," cried a third man, who had snatched down
the fatal crossbow and bolts from above the chimney. "Kenric and
Eadwulf are but two names for one man; and here is the proof. This
crossbow, with the name Kenric burned into the stock, is that which
Eadwulf carried on the day when he fled; and these quarrels tally,
point for point, with those which were found in the carcass of the
deer he slew, and in the body of the bailiff he murdered!"

"Ha! What say you to that, sirrah?"

"That it is my crossbow; that my name is Kenric, by-named the Dark;
that I am, as I said before, a free Saxon, and have dwelt here on
Kentmere since the last days of July; so that I could have slain
neither deer nor bailiff, between Thurgoland and Bolterstone, in
September. That is all I have to say, Sir Foulke."

"And that is nothing," he replied. "So thou must go along with us.
Wilt go peaceably, too, if thou art wise, and cravest no broken

"Have you a writ of _Neifty_[4] for me, Sir Foulke?" asked Kenric,
respectfully, having been instructed by Sir Yvo.

          [4] _De Nativo Habendo._--Howell's State Trials, 38,

"Tush! dog, what knowest thou of _Neifty_? No, sirrah, I seize
mine villeyn, of mine own right, with mine own hand. What sayst to

"That you must seize me, to seize justly, by the sheriff; and I deny
the villeynage, and claim trial."

"And I send you, and your denial, and your _Neifty_, to the fiend
who hatched them. You are my slave, my born slave; and in my dungeons
of Waltheofstow will I prove it to you. Hugo, Raoul, Damian, seize
him, handcuff his wrists behind him, drag him along if he resist."

"I resist not," said Kenric. "I yield to force, as I hold you all to
witness; you above all, Gilbert," addressing the boy who stood
staring, half-awake, while they were manacling his hands. "But I pray
you, Sir Foulke, to take notice that in this you do great wrong to my
good lord, Sir Yvo de Taillebois, both that he is the Lord of
Hawkshead, Coniston, and Yewdale, and of this manor of Kentmere on
which you now trespass, and that he is the sheriff of these counties
of Lancaster and Westmoreland, where you wrongfully seize
jurisdiction. And this I notify you, that he will seek the right at
your hands, and that speedily."

"Dog! Saxon! slave! dirt of the earth! do you dare threaten me?" cried
the fierce baron, purposely lashing himself into fury; and he strode
up to the helpless man, whose arms were secured behind his back, and
smote him in the mouth with his gauntleted-hand, that the blood gushed
from his lips, and streamed over all the front of his leathern

"That, to teach thee manners. Now, then, bring him along, men; set him
on the black gelding, chain his legs fast under the brute's belly,
ride one of you at each side, and dash his brains out with your axes
if he look like escaping. Away! away! I would be at Kendal before they
ring the prime,[5] and at Lonsdale before matins.[6] So shall we be
well among the Yorkshire fells before daybreak."

          [5] Prime was the first service, and began the instant
          midnight had sounded.

          [6] Matins was the second service, at 3 A.M.

His words were obeyed without demur or delay, and within five minutes
the Saxon was chained on the back of a vicious, ill-conditioned brute,
with a savage ruffian on either side, glaring at him through the bars
of their visors, as if they desired no better than a chance to brain
him, in obedience with orders; and the whole party, their horses being
quite fresh, were thundering down the dale at a pace that would bring
them to Kendal long enough before midnight.



    "The Sheriff, with a monstrous watch, is at the door."


Two hours' hard riding, considering that the riders were men armed in
heavy mail, brought the party into the narrow, ill-paved streets of
Kendal, at least two hours earlier than the time specified by Sir
Foulke d'Oilly, and it was not above ten o'clock of the night when
they pulled up before a long, low, thatched cabin, above the door of
which, a bush and a bottle, suspended from a pole, gave note that it
was a house of entertainment. Flinging his rein to one of half-a-dozen
grooms and horse-boys, who were lounging about the gate, the knight
raised the latch, and entered a long, smoky apartment, which seemed to
occupy the whole ground floor of the building, affording room for the
accommodation of fifty or sixty guests, on occasion of feasts, fairs,
or holidays.

It was an area of thirty or forty feet in length, by ten or twelve in
width, with bare rough-cast walls, and bare rafters overhead,
blackened by the smoke which escaped from the ill-constructed chimneys
at either end, and eddied overhead in a perennial canopy of sable. The
floor, however, was strewed with fresh green rushes, green wreaths and
branches were hung on the rough-cast walls, and a large earthen-vase
or two of water-lilies and other showy wild-flowers adorned the board,
which was covered with clean white napery of domestic fabric. At the
upper end of this long table, half-a-dozen or eight men were supping
on a chine of hill-kid, with roasted moor-fowl and wild-ducks, the
landlord of the tavern being the bailiff of the town, and having his
lord's license to take all small game, save bustard, heron, woodcock,
and pheasant, for the benefit of his guest-table.

On the entrance of Sir Foulke, these men rose to their feet; and one,
the best-armed and best-looking of the party, seeming to be a second
esquire or equerry, asked him, in a subdued voice--

"What fortune, Sir Foulke; have you got the villeyn?"

"Safe enough, Fitz Hugh," replied the knight; "but he is no mere
brute, as you fellows told me, but a perilous, shrewd, intelligent,
clear-headed Saxon. He has been advised, too, in this matter, by some
one well-skilled in the law, and was, I think, expecting our coming. I
should not marvel much, if De Taillebois have notice of us. We must be
in the saddle again as soon as possible. But I must have a morsel ere
we start; I have not tasted aught since high-noon, and then it was but
a beggarly oat-cake and a flask of mead. What have you there?"

"Some right good treble ale, beausire; let me fill you a tankard, and
play cup-bearer for once." And, suiting the action to the word, he
filled out a mighty horn of the liquid amber, capped with its snowy
foam, and handed it to the knight, adding, "The supper is but
fragments, but there is more at the fire now. I will go to the
stables, and see the fresh horses saddled and caparisoned; and as I
pass the buttery and tap, I will stir up the loitering knaves."

"Do so, Fitz Hugh," replied the other; "but hasten, Jesu Maria!
hasten! I reckon but half done until we are out of this beggarly hole,
and under way for merry Yorkshire. And hark you, Fitz Hugh, let them
bring in the prisoner. We must have him along with us; and ten of the
best men, lightly armed, and mounted on the pick of our stud. Ten more
may tarry with the tired beasts we have just used, and bring them on
with the baggage and sumpter horses to-morrow."

Then, as his officer left the hall to attend to his multifarious
duties, he quaffed another huge flagon of the strong, heady ale; and,
casting himself into a settle in the chimney-corner, what between the
warmth of the fire, grateful after his hard ride in the chilly night
air, and the fumes of the heady tankard, he sunk into a doze, from
which he only aroused himself, when, half an hour afterward, in came a
dozen clumsy village servants, stamping and clattering in their
heavy-clouted shoes, and loaded the table with smoking platters and
huge joints, of which, however coarse the cookery, the odors were any
thing but unsavory.

To supper accordingly he now applied himself, two or three of the men
who had been with him at the seizure of Kenric, crowding into the room
and taking the lower end of the table, where another great fire was
blazing, and others coming in and out in succession, until all were

It is, however, remarkable, as in character with the sensual,
self-indulgent, and unrestrained temperament of this most unworthy and
unknightly Norman, his race being, of all the northern tribes, that
least addicted to gluttony and drunkenness, and priding itself on
moderation and decorum at the table, that, notwithstanding his earnest
desire to depart from his somewhat perilous situation, he yet yielded
to his appetites, and lingered over the board, though it offered
nothing beyond coarse viands and strong ale, long after the horses
were announced to be in readiness.

At length he rose, washed his hands, and calling his page to replace
such portions of his armor as he had laid aside, was preparing to move
in earnest, when the well-known clash of mail-coats and the thick
trampling of a numerous squadron coming up the village street gave
notice that he was surprised.

The next moment, a man-at-arms rushed into the room, with dismay in
his face.

"Lances, my Lord of d'Oilly," he cried; "lances and a broad banner!
There are full fifty of them coming up the street from the northward,
and some of the grooms who were on the out-look report more spears to
the south. We are surrounded."

"Call in the men hither from the stables, then; let them cut short
their lances to six feet, and bring their maces and battle-axes; we
can make a stout stand here, and command good terms at the worst."

Time, however, was short, and his orders were but partially obeyed,
the men coming in by twos and threes from the stables in the rear,
looking gloomy and dispirited, when a trumpet was blown clearly
without, and, the cavalcade halting, in mass, in front of the
hostelry, a fine deep voice was heard to cry;

"What men be these? Who dare lift spears, or display banners, in my
town of Kendal, without license of me?"

"It is De Taillebois," said d'Oilly; "it avails nothing to resist.
Throw the doors open."

But, as he spoke, the reply of his lieutenant was heard to the

"We be Sir Foulke d'Oilly's men, and we dare lift spear and display
banner, wheresoever our lord order us."

"Well said, good fellow!" answered the powerful voice of the old
knight. "Go in, therefore, and tell your lord that the Sheriff of
Lancaster is at the door, with fifty lances, to inforce the king's
peace; and that he draw in his men at once, or ere worse come of it,
and show cause what he makes here, in effeir of war, in my manor of
Kendal, and the king's county of Westmoreland."

D'Oilly set his teeth hard, and smote the table with his gauntleted
hand. "Curses on him," he muttered, "he hath me at advantage." Then,
as he received the summons, "Pray the Lord of Taillebois," he said;
"he will have the courtesy to set foot to ground, and enter in hither,
that we hold conference."

Again the voice was heard without, "Ride to the bridge, Huon, at the
town end, and call me Aradas."

There was a short pause, and then, as the gallop of a horse was heard
coming up to the house, the orders were given to dismount, link
bridles, and close up to the doors; and at the next instant, Sir Yvo
entered, stooping his tall crest to pass the low-browed door, followed
by his trusty squire, Aradas de Ratcliffe, and half-a-dozen others of
his principal retainers, one or two of them wearing knightly crests
upon their burgonets.

The first words the knight uttered, as he raised his avantaille and
gazed about him, were "St. Agatha, how hot it is, and what a reek of
peat-smoke and ale! Open those windows, some of you, to the street,
and let us have a breath of heaven's fresh air. The Lord, he knows we
need it."

In a moment, the thick-wooden shutters and lattices, which had been
closed by those within on the first alarm of his coming, were cast
wide open, and the spaces were filled at once by the stalwart forms
and resolute faces of the men-at-arms of De Taillebois, in such
numbers as to render treachery impossible, if it had been intended.

Then, for the first time, did Sir Yvo turn his eyes toward the
intruder, who stood at the farther end of the hall, irresolute how to
act, with his men clustered in a sullen group behind him, and the
prisoner Kenric held firmly by the shoulders by two stout troopers.

"Ha! Sir Foulke d'Oilly," he said, with a slight inclination of his
head. "To what do I owe the honor of receiving that noble baron in my
poor manor of Kendal; and wherefore, if he come in courtesy and peace,
do I not meet him rather in my own castle of Hawkshead, where I might
show him fitting courtesy, than in this smoky den, fitter for Saxon
churls than Norman nobles?"

"To be brief, my lord," replied d'Oilly, with a voice half
conciliatory, half defiant, "I came neither in enmity, nor yet in
courtesy, but to reclaim and seize my fugitive villeyn yonder, Eadwulf
the Red, who hath not only killed deer in my chase of Fenton in the
Forest, but hath murdered my bailiff of Waltheofstow, and now hath
fled from me, against my will; and I find him here, hidden in an out
corner of this your manor of Kentmere, in Kendal."

"There is some error here, Sir Foulke," said De Taillebois, firmly.
"That man, whom I see some one hath brutally misused, of which more
anon, is not called Eadwulf at all, but Kenric. Nor is he your serf,
fair sir, nor any man's serf at all, or villeyn, but a free
Englishman, as any who stands on this floor. I myself purchased and
manumitted him in this July last past, for that he saved the life of
my child, the Lady Guendolen, at risk of his own. Of this I pledge my
honor, as belted knight and Norman noble."

"I know the fellow very well, Sir Yvo," answered the other, doggedly.
"Four or five of my men here can swear to the knave; and we have proof
positive that he is the man who shot a deer about daybreak, and
murdered my bailiff on the thirteenth day of September last, in my
forest between the meres of Thurgoland and Bolterstone, in Sherwood."

"The thirteenth day of last September?" said De Taillebois,
thoughtfully. "Ha! Aradas, Fitz Adhelm, was't not on that day we ran
the big mouse-colored hart royal, with the black talbots, from high
Yewdale, past Grisdale pike, to the skirts of Skiddaw?"

"Surely it was, Sir Yvo," answered both the gentlemen in a breath.

"There is some error here, Sir Foulke," repeated the Sheriff, "but the
law will decide it. And now, speaking of the law, Sir Baron, may I
crave, by what right, or form of law, you have laid hands on this man,
within the jurisdiction of my manor, and under the shadow of night? I
say, by what warrant have you done this?"

"By the same right, and form, and warrant, by which, wherever I find
my stolen goods, there I seize them! By the best law of right; that
is, the law of might."

"The law of might has failed you, for this time, Sir Foulke."

"That is to say, you being stronger, at this present time, than I,
will not allow me to carry off my villeyn, whom I have justly seized."

"Whom you have most unjustly, most illegally, seized, Sir Foulke. You
know, as well as I, or ought to know, that if you proceed by seizure,
it must be upon oath; and none can seize within this shire, but I, the
sheriff of it. Or if you proceed by writ _de nativo habendo_, no
one can serve that writ, within this shire, but I, the sheriff of it.
What! when a man can not seize and sell an ox or an ass, that is
claimed by another, without due process of law, shall he seize and
take, that which is the dearest thing any man hath, even as dear as
the breath of his nostrils, his right to himself, his liberty, without
any form at all? No, Sir Foulke, no! Our English law presumes every
man free, till he be proved a slave; and no man, who claims freedom,
can be deprived of freedom, no, not by my lord the King himself in
counsel, except upon the verdict of an English jury. But do I
understand aright? Does this man Eadwulf, or Kenric, claim to be free,
or confess himself to be a villeyn?"

"I claim to be a freeman, Sir Yvo; and I demand liberty to prove it,"
cried Kenric. "I warned Sir Foulke d'Oilly, when he seized me in my
cottage by Kentmere, as I can prove by the boy Gilbert, that I am a
freeman, and that were I a villeyn and a fugitive, to make a true
seizure, it must be made by the sheriff."

"Ha! thou didst--didst thou. Thou art learned in the law, it seems."

"It behooves an Englishman, beausire, to know the law by which to
guard his liberty, seeing that it is the dearest thing he hath, under
Heaven. But I am not learned; only I had good advice."

"So it seems. And you deny to be a villeyn, and claim to prove your

"Before God, I do, and your worship."

"Summon my bailiff, Aradas; he is a justice of peace for the county,
and will tell us what is needed. I will give you this benefit, Sir
Foulke, though you are in no wise entitled to it. Because it is on my
own ground, and on the person of my own man, you have made this
seizure, I will allow it to stand good, as if made legally, in due
form. Had it been made elsewhere, within the county, I would have held
it null, and committed you for false imprisonment, and breach of the
King's peace. But no man shall say I avenge my own private griefs by
power of my office. Now, bailiff, art thou there?"

"So please you, Sir Yvo, I have been here all the evening, and am
possessed of the whole case."

"Well, then, what needs this man Kenric?"

"A writ, my lord, _de libertate probanda_. I have it here,

"Recite it to us then, in God's name, and make service of it; for I am
waxing weary of this matter."

Thus exhorted, the bailiff lifted up his voice and read, pompously but
distinctly, the following form; and then, bowing low, handed it to the
sheriff, calling on two of the men-at-arms, whose names were
subscribed, to witness the service:

    "King Henry II. to the Sheriff of Lancaster and Westmoreland,
    greeting--Kenric, the son of Werewulf, of Kentmere, in
    Westmoreland, has showed to us, that whereas he is a free man, and
    ready to prove his liberty, Sir Foulke d'Oilly, knight and baron
    of Waltheofstow and Fenton in the Forest of Sherwood, in
    Yorkshire, claiming him to be his nief, unjustly vexes him; and
    therefore we command you, that if the aforesaid Kenric shall make
    you secure touching the proving of his liberty, then put that plea
    before our justices, at the first assizes, when they shall come
    into those parts, to wit, in our good city of Lancaster, on the
    first day of December next ensuing, because proof of this kind
    belongeth not to you to take; and in the mean time cause the said
    Kenric to have peace thereupon, and tell the aforesaid Sir Foulke
    d'Oilly that he may be there, if he will, to prosecute thereof,
    against the aforesaid Kenric. And have there this writ.

        "_Witness_: { WILLIAM FITZ ADHELM.
                    { HUGO LE NORMAN.

    "This tenth day of October, in the year of Grace, 1184.
    Kendal, county of Westmoreland."

"Well, there is a bail-bond needed, is there not, bailiff?"

"It is here, sir. William Fitz Adhelm, knight, and Aradas de
Ratcliffe, esquire, both of the county of Westmoreland, are herein
bound, jointly and severally, in the sum of two thousand marks, that
Kenric, as aforesaid, shall appear at the Lancaster assizes next
ensuing, and show cause why he is a freeman, and not a villeyn, as
claimed, of Sir Foulke d'Oilly, as aforesaid. This is according to
the law of England, and Kenric may go his way until the time of the
assize, none hindering him in his lawful business."

"Therefore," said Sir Yvo de Taillebois, "I will pray Sir Foulke
d'Oilly to command his vassals, that they release the man Kenric
forthwith, nor force me to rescue him by the strong hand."

D'Oilly, who, during all these proceedings, to which, however
unwilling, he was compelled to listen without resistance, had sat on
the settle in the chimney corner, in a lounging attitude, gazing into
the ashes of the wood fire, and affecting to hear nothing that was
passing, rose to his feet sullenly, shook himself, till every link of
his mail clashed and rang, and uttered, in a tone more like the short
roar of a disappointed lion than the voice of a man, the one word,
"_Lachez!_" Then turning to Sir Yvo, he said--

"And now, sir, I suppose that I, too, like this Saxon cur, about whom
there has been so much pother, may go about my lawful business, none
hindering me."

"So much so, Sir Foulke, that if you will do me the favor to order
your horses, I will mount on the instant, and escort you to the
boundary of the shire. You, Kenric, tarry here with my harbinger, and
get yourself into more fitting guise to return to the castle. Now,
master bailiff, in quality of host, can you not find a flask of
something choicer than your ale and metheglin? Ha! wine of Anjou! This
will wash the cobwebs of the law out of my gullet, rarely. I was nigh
choked with them, by St. Agatha! Sir Foulke, I hear your horses
stamping at the door. Will it please you, mount? It draws nigh to

"I will mount," he replied fiercely, "when I am ready; and so give you
short thanks for scanty courtesy."

"The less we say, I think, about courtesy, Sir Foulke d'Oilly, the
better," said Sir Yvo, sternly; "for courtesy is not, nor ever can be,
between us two, until I am certified how my dear friend and comrade in
arms, Sir Philip de Morville, came by his death in Sherwood Forest."

The baron glared at him fiercely under the rim of his raised
avantaille; then dashed the vizor down over his scowling features,
that none might read their fell expression; clinched his gauntleted
hand, and dashed it against the shield which hung about his neck, in
impotent fury. But he spoke no word more, till they parted, without
salutation or defiance, on a bare moor, where the three shires of
York, Lancaster, and Westmoreland, meet, at the county stone, under
the looming mountain masses of Whernside.



    _Duke._ What, is Antonio here?
    _Ant._ Ready, so please your grace.
    _Duke._ I am sorry for thee. Thou art come to answer
    A strong adversary, an inhuman wretch.


There is nothing in all the reign of that wise, moderate, and able
prince, as viewed according to the circumstances of his position and
the intelligence of his era, the Second Henry of England, so
remarkable, or in his character so praiseworthy, as his efforts to
establish a perfect system both of judiciary power and of justice
throughout England. In these efforts he more than mediately succeeded;
and, although some corruptions continued to exist, and some instances
of malfeasance to occur, owing in some degree to the king's own
avaricious temperament and willingness to commute punishments, and
perhaps, at times, even prosecutions, for pecuniary fines, justice was
not for many centuries more equitably administered, certainly not four
hundred years afterward, in the reign of the eighth monarch of the
same Christian name, than in the latter portion of the twelfth

At this period, that justly celebrated lawyer, Ranulf de Glanville,
was High Justiciary of England, besides holding the especial duty of
administering justice, at the head of five others, in the circuit
courts of all the counties north of the Trent; and he has left it on
record "that there was not now in the King's Court one judge, who
dared swerve from the path of justice, or to pronounce an opinion
inconsistent with truth."

During the six weeks, which intervened between the liberation of
Kenric from the arrest of Sir Foulke d'Oilly, and the day appointed
for the holding of the Lancaster assizes, there was great tribulation
in the castle of Hawkshead; and it was known that Sir Yvo de
Taillebois was in constant correspondence with the High Justiciary;
flying posts were coming and going, night and day, booted and spurred,
through rain or shine, from York, the present abode of Sir Ranulf, to
the shores of Windermere.

The old chaplain was buried up to the eyes in old parchments and
genealogies; and, to complete the mystery, Clarencieux, king-at-arms,
came down to the castle, accompanied by a pursuivant, loaded with
documents from the college of heralds, a fortnight before the decisive
day, and tarried at the castle until the time came, no one knowing
especially, save Sir Yvo, his daughter, Aradas de Ratcliffe, and the
persons employed in the research, what was the matter at issue.

Necessary, however, as it was deemed, at that time, to hold the
proceedings and their cause in perfect secrecy, no such reason exists
now; and it may be stated that, the object being no other than to
bring Sir Foulke d'Oilly to justice for the murder of Sir Philip de
Morville, it was necessary to be prepared at every point.

Now, according to the criminal law of that day, no prosecutor could
put in his charge for murder, until he should have proved himself to
be of the blood of the deceased. And this it was now the object of Sir
Yvo to do, there having always been a traditionary belief in a remote
kindred between the two families, though the exact point and period
were forgotten.

At length, in the middle of the month of October, a proclamation was
issued, in the name of the King, offering a free pardon for all other
offenses, with the exception of high treason and misprision of
treason, and five hundred marks reward to any freeman, or freedom to
any serf, who, not being a principal in the deed, should appear before
the court of assize at Lancaster, on the first day of December next
ensuing, and give such evidence as should result in the conviction of
the murderer or murderers of the late Sir Philip de Morville, of
Waltheofstow, in the county of York.

At the same time, orders were issued to Kenric, and all his associate
foresters and keepers, to bring in Eadwulf, under assurance of pardon,
if he might be found in any quarter; and rewards were offered to
stimulate the men to exertion. But in vain. The foresters pushed their
way into the deepest and wildest recesses of the Cumbrian wilderness,
at the risk of some smart conflicts with the outlaws of that dark and
desolate region, who fancied that they were trespassing on their own
savage haunts, with no good or amicable intent; but of Eadwulf they
found no traces.

Kenric persisted, alone, after all the rest had resigned the
enterprise; and, relying on his Saxon origin and late servile
condition, mingled with the outlaws, told his tale, showed the
proclamation, and succeeded in interesting his auditors in his own
behalf and that of his brother; but he, no more than the others, could
find any traces of the fugitive, and he began almost to consider it
certain that the unhappy Eadwulf had perished among the hills, of the
inclemency of the weather. He too, at last, returned home, despairing
of ever seeing the unhappy outlaw more.

In the mean time, an earnest and interesting contest was going on in
the castle, between Guendolen and Aradas on the one hand, and Sir Yvo
de Taillebois on the other. For it had been discovered by the heralds,
that there did exist proofs of blood-connection between the two
families, sufficient to justify Sir Yvo in putting in a charge of his
kinsman's murder against Sir Foulke d'Oilly, on the grounds of common
rumor and hearsay, if Eadwulf should not be found; and, if he should,
then on his testimony.

That d'Oilly would forthwith claim trial by wager of battle, none
might doubt, who knew the character and antecedents of that
desperately bad but dauntless man.

Now, it was the suit of Guendolen and Aradas, that Sir Yvo should
appoint his young esquire his champion to do battle for the judgment
of God--for they were irrevocably convinced--what, between their real
faith in the justice of this cause, and the zealous trust, of those
who love, in the superiority of the beloved, and the generous
confidence of youth in its own glowing and impulsive valor--that
Aradas would surely beat the traitor down, and win the spurs of gold,
to which he so passionately aspired. But the clear-headed veteran
regarded matters with a cooler and perhaps a wiser eye. He knew Sir
Foulke d'Oilly for a trained, experienced, and all-practiced soldier;
not only brave at all times, and brave among the bravest--but a
champion, such as there were few, and to be beaten only by a champion.
He knew him also desperate, and fighting his last stake. He foresaw
that, even for himself, the felon knight, unless the sense of guilt
should paralyze his heart, or the visible judgment of God be
interposed in the heat of battle--a thing in those days scarcely to be
looked for--would prove no easy bargain in the lists; and, how highly
soever he might estimate his young esquire's courage and prowess, he
yet positively refused to allow him to assume the place of appellant
in the lists; and denied utterly that such a conflict, being the most
solemn and awful of appeals to the Almighty on his judgment-seat, was
any proper occasion for the striving after spurs of gold, or aiming at
the honors of knighthood.

So the lovers were obliged to decline into hopes of some indefinite
future chance; and did decline into despondent and listless apathy,
until, two days only before that appointed for the departure of the
company into Lancashire, fortune or fate, which you will, thought fit
to take the whole matter into its own hands, and to decide the
much-vexed question of the championship by the misstep of a stumbling

After having ridden all day long on a stout, sure-footed cob, which he
had backed for ten years, without knowing him to make a solitary
blunder, marking trees for felling, and laying out new plantations
with his foresters, Sir Yvo was wending his way toward the castle
gates, across the great home-park, when, a small blind ditch crossing
his path, he put the pony at it in a canter.

Startled by some deer, which rose up suddenly out of the long fern,
growing thick among the oak-trees, the pony shyed, set his forefeet in
the middle of the drain, and came down on his head, throwing his heavy
rider heavily on the hard frozen ground.

A dislocated shoulder was the consequence; and, though it was speedily
reduced, and no ill consequences followed, the surgeons declared that
it was impossible that the knight should support his armor, or wield a
sword, within two months; and thus, perforce, Guendolen had her way;
and it was decided that Aradas should be admitted to the perilous
distinction of maintaining the charge, in the wager of battle.

Strange times! when to be permitted to engage in a conflict, in which
there was no alternative but victory, or infamy and death, was
esteemed a favor, and was sought for, as a boon, not by strong men and
soldiers only, but by delicate and gentle girls, in behalf of their
betrothed lovers, as a mode of winning _los_ on earth, and glory
everlasting in the heavens.

Yet so it was; and when it was told to Guendolen, that her lover was
nominated to that dreadful enterprise, a blush, indeed, mantled to her
cheek, and a thrill ran through all her quivering frame, and an
unbidden tear trembled in her beautiful clear eye; but the blush, and
the thrill, and the tear, were of pride and excitement, not of fear or
compassion; and the lady never slept sounder or more sweetly than on
that eventful night, when she learned that, beyond a peradventure, her
true love would be sleeping, within ten little days, under a bloody
and dishonorable sod, or living, the winner of those golden-spurs and
of her own peerless beauties.

There was, however, a strange mixture of simple and fervent faith in
those days, with an infinitely larger amount of coarse and open
wickedness, violence, and vice, than, perhaps, ever prevailed in any
other age. And while the moral restraint on men's conduct and actions,
arising from a sense of future responsibility and retribution, was
vastly inferior to what now exists, owing to the open sale of
indulgences, absolutions, and dispensations, and the other abominable
corruptions of the Romish church, the belief in temporal judgments,
and the present interference of divine justice in the affairs of men,
was almost universal.

Infidelity in those days was a madness utterly unknown; and an
atheist, materialist, or any phase of what we now call a free-thinker,
would have been regarded with greater wonder than the strangest
physical monster. It is not too much to say, that there were not in
that day twenty men in England, who did not believe in the real
efficacy of the ordeals, whether by water, fire, or battle, in
discovering the truth, or one in a thousand who would not be
half-defeated, before entering the lists, by the belief that God was
fighting against him, or strengthened unto victory by the confidence
that his cause was just.

One of these one men in a thousand it was, however, about to be the
fortune of Aradas de Ratcliffe to encounter, in the person of Sir
Foulke d'Oilly; but this he neither knew, nor would have thought of
twice, had he known it. However hardened the heart of his adversary
might be by the petrifying effects of habitual vice, however dulled
his conscience by impunity and arrogance and self-relying contumacy,
his own was so strongly panoplied in conscious honesty, so bucklered
by confidence in his own good cause, so puissant by faith in God, that
he no more feared what the might of that bad man could do against him,
than he doubted the creed of Christ and his holy apostles.

Nor less was the undoubting assurance of the lady of his love, in
whom, to her faith in divine justice, to her absolute conviction of
d'Oilly's damning guilt, was added that over-weening confidence in her
lover's absolute superiority, not only to all other men in general,
but to every other man individually, which was common to love-sick
ladies in those days of romance and chivalry.

But we must not anticipate, nor indeed is there cause to do so; for
the days flew; until, after leaving Kendal Castle, the old fortalice
of Yvo de Taillebois, who, coming in with the Conqueror, had wedded
the sister of the Earls Morcar and Edwin, whence they took their
departure as so much nearer to their destination, and journeying four
pleasant winter days round the head of Morecambe Bay, they entered the
old town of Lancaster. Sir Yvo de Taillebois was borne in a
horse-litter, in consequence of his accident, at the head of a dozen
knights, his vassals, all armed cap-à-pie; and a hundred spears of
men-at-arms followed, with thrice as many of the already famous Kendal
archers, escorting a long train of litters, conveying the lady and her
female attendants, and a yet longer array of sumpter-mules and

The town was already crowded; but for a party so distinguished as that
of Sir Yvo de Taillebois, High-Sheriff of the North-western counties,
and chief local officer of the crown, apartments were prepared in the
castle, adjoining those of the high justiciary and the itinerant, or,
as we should now call them, circuit judges; while his train easily
found quarters, some among the garrison of which they formed a part,
as of right, and the rest in the vicinity of the castle.

At an early hour in the morning, preceded by trumpets and javelin men,
clad in all the magnificence of scarlet and ermine, emblematic of
judicial purity, but unencumbered by the hideous perukes of horse-hair
which later ages have devised for the disfigurement of forensic
dignitaries, the high justiciary, Ranulf de Glanville, followed by his
five associate judges, proceeded to the superb oak-wainscoted and
oak-groined hall, in which it was used to hold the sittings of "the
King's court," at that time the highest tribunal in the realm.

This noble apartment, which was above a hundred feet in length by half
that width, and measured sixty feet from the floor to the spring of
the open arches, independent of the octagon lantern in the center,
beneath which burned nearly a ton of charcoal, in a superb brazier of
carved bronze, was crowded from the floor to the light, flying
galleries, with all the flower of the Northern counties, ladies as
well as knights and nobles, attracted by one of those untraceable but
ubiquitous rumors, which so often precede remarkable events, to the
effect that something of more than ordinary moment was likely to occur
at the present assize. Among this noble assemblage, all of whom rose
to their feet, with a heavy rustle of furred and embroidered robes,
and a suppressed murmur of applause, as the judges entered,
conspicuous on the right-hand side of the nave was Sir Foulke d'Oilly,
attended by two or three barons and bannerets of his immediate train,
and not less than twenty knights, who held fiefs under him.

What, however, was the astonishment of the assembly, when, after the
guard of pensioners, in royal livery, armed with halberts, which
followed the judges, Clarencieux, king-at-arms, in his magnificent
costume, supported by six pursuivants, in their tabards, with
trumpets, made his appearance in the nave, and then two personages, no
less than Humphrey de Bohun, Lord High Constable, and William de
Warrenne, Earl Mareschal of England, indicating by their presence that
the court, about to be held, would be one of chivalry as well as of
justice. Sir Yvo de Taillebois, and other officers of the crown,
followed in the order; the justiciary and other high dignitaries took
their seats, the trumpets sounded thrice, and, with the usual
formalities, "the King's court" was declared open.

It was remarked afterward, though at the time no one noticed it, none
suspecting the cause, that when the heralds and pomp, indicating the
presence of a Court of Chivalry made their appearance, the face of Sir
Foulke d'Oilly flushed fiery-red for a moment, and then turned white
as ashes, even to the lips; and that he trembled so violently, that he
was compelled to sit down, while all the rest were standing.

During the first three days of the assize, though many causes were
tried of great local and individual interest, nothing occurred to
satisfy the secret and eager anticipations of the excited audience,
nothing to account for the unusual combination of civil and military
powers on the judicial bench; and though all manner of strange rumors
were afloat, there were none certainly that came very near the truth.

On the fourth morning, however, the crier, at command of the court,
called Sir Foulke d'Oilly; who, presently appearing, stated that he
was there, in pursuance of the king's order, to prosecute his claim to
the possession of one Eadwulf the Red, alias Kenric, a fugitive
villeyn, who had fled from his manor of Waltheofstow, within the
precincts of Sherwood Forest, against his, Sir Foulke d'Oilly's, will;
and who was now in the custody of the sheriff of the county. He
concluded by appointing Geoffrey Fitz Peter and William of Tichborne,
two sergeants, learned in the law, as his counsel.

The sheriff of the county was then called into court, to produce the
body of the person at issue, and Kenric was placed at the bar, his
bondsmen surrendering him to take his trial.

Sir Yvo de Taillebois then stated the preliminary proceedings, the
arrest of Kenric by seizure, his purchasing a writ _de libertate
probanda_; and that, whereas he, the Sheriff, might not try that
question in his court, it was now brought up before the Eyre of
justices for trial.

Kenric was then called upon to plead, which he did, by claiming to be
a free man, and desiring liberty to prove the same before God and a
jury of his countrymen.

The sheriff was thereupon commanded to impannel a jury; and this was
speedily accomplished, twelve men being selected and sworn, six of
whom were belted knights, two esquires of Norman birth, and four Saxon
franklins, as they were now termed, who would have been thanes under
their ancient dynasty, all free and lawful men, and sufficient to form
a jury.

Then, the defendant in the suit being a poor man, and of no substance,
counsel, skilled in the law, were assigned him by the court, Thomas de
Curthose, and Matthew Gourlay, that he might have fair show of
justice; and so the trial was ordered to proceed.

Then Geoffrey Fitz Peter rose and opened the case by stating that
they should prove the person at the bar to be a serf, known as
"Eadwulf the Red," who has escaped from the manor of his lord at
Waltheofstow, in Sherwood Forest, against his lord's will, on the
13th day of July last passed--that he had killed a deer, with a
cross-bolt, on that same day, in the forest between Thurgoland and
Bolterstone--and afterward murdered the bailiff of the manor of
Waltheofstow, as aforesaid, with a similar weapon, at or near the same
place, which weapons would be produced in court, and identified by
comparison with corresponding weapons, and the arbalast to which they
belong, found in the possession of the prisoner, when taken at
Kentmere in Westmoreland--that he had been hunted hot-foot, with
bloodhounds, through the forest, and across the moors to the Lancaster
sands, when he had escaped only by the aid of the fatal and furious
tide which had overwhelmed the pursuing horsemen--that he had been
seen to land on the shore of Westmoreland, by a party of the pursuers,
who had escaped the flood-tide by skirting the coastline, and had been
traced, foot by foot, by report of the natives of the country, who had
heard of the arrival of a fugitive serf in the neighborhood, until he
was captured in a cottage beside Kentmere, on the 10th day of October
of this present year. And to prove this, he called Sir Foulke d'Oilly.

He, being sworn, testified that he knew, and had often seen, his serf
"Eadwulf the Red," on the manor of Waltheofstow, and fully believed
the person at the bar to be the man in question. He had joined the
pursuers of the fugitive on the day after the catastrophe of the
sands, had been engaged in tracing him to the cottage on Kentmere, and
fully believed the person captured to be the same who was traced
upward from the sands. Positively identified and swore to the person
at the bar, as the man captured on the 10th day of October, and to the
crossbow and bolts produced in court, and branded with the name
"Kenric," as taken in his possession.

Being cross-examined--he could not swear positively to any personal
recollection of the features of "Eadwulf the Red," or that the person
at the bar _was_ the man, or _resembled_ the man, in question.
Believed him to be the man Eadwulf, because it was the general
impression of his people that he was so.

Thomas de Curthose said--"This, my lords, is mere hearsay, and stands
for naught." And Sir Ranulf de Glanville bowed his head, and
replied--"Merely for naught."

Then Sir Foulke d'Oilly, being asked how, when he assumed this
person's name to be Eadwulf, he ascribed to him the ownership of
weapons stamped "Kenric," he replied, that "Kenric" was a name
prepared aforehand, to avert suspicion, and assumed by Eadwulf, so to
avoid suspicion.

Being asked where he showed that Eadwulf had assumed such other name,
or that the name "Kenric" had ever been assumed by one truly named
"Eadwulf," he replied, that "It was probable."

Thomas de Curthose said--"That is mere conjecture."

And, again, the justiciary assented.



    No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
    Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
    The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
    Become them with one half so good a grace
    As "justice" does.


Then was called Ralph Brito.

He, being sworn, deposed thus--Is a man-at-arms of Sir Foulke d'Oilly;
has served him these twenty years and over, in France, in Wales, and
in Ireland. Has dwelt the last ten years, until this year now current,
at Sir Foulke's castle of Fenton in the Forest; since the decease of
Sir Philip de Morville, has been one of the garrison of Waltheofstow.
Knows Eadwulf the Red perfectly well--as well as his own brother. Has
known him these ten years back, when he was gross thrall to Sir Philip
de Morville. Has seen him since the death of Sir Philip. Has seen him
daily, since he made one of the garrison of Waltheofstow, until the
twelfth day of September last, when he saw him for the last time,
until he was taken in the cottage on Kentmere. The person at the bar
is the man. The person at the bar is Eadwulf the Red, and is also the
man who was taken at the cottage. They are the same. Did not follow
the prisoner with the bloodhounds; came up, with my lord, the day
after the accident on the sands. Was engaged in the pursuit till he
was taken; was present at the arrest. The weapons in court were taken
in the prisoner's house; took them down himself, from above the
mantle-piece. The prisoner admitted them to be his weapons.

Matthew Gourlay, cross-examining, asked him--"You swear, certainly,
that the man at the bar is _he_, known, in the time of Sir Philip
de Morville, as Eadwulf the Red?"

"I do."

"Of your own knowledge?"

"Of my own knowledge."

"Why was he called the Red?"

"Because he _was_ red."

"What part of him?"

"His hair and beard."

"Of what color are your own hair and beard?"


It so happened that the close-curled hair and the beard, knotted like
the wool of a poodle dog, of this man, were of the brightest and most
fiery hue of which the human hair is susceptible; while that of Kenric
was of a deep, glossy auburn, falling in loose waves from a broad fair

"And what color is the person's at the bar?"

"Why, reddish, I suppose," said Ralph Brito, sullenly.

"About the same color with your own, ha? Well, you may go down," he
said, satisfied that he had somewhat damaged the evidence, even of
this positive perjurer.

Andrew of Spyinghow was then called, and, being sworn, testified, that
"he is the brother of Ralph Wetheral, the bailiff of Waltheofstow, who
was found dead in the forest of Sherwood, on the 13th day of September
last passed; and of Hugonet the Black, seneschal of Waltheofstow, as
aforesaid, who was lost in the sands of Lancaster, on the 17th day of
the said month. He and his brothers were known as the three spears of
Spyinghow. He knew the serf, spoken of as Eadwulf the Red, as well as
he knew his own face in the mirror. Had known him any time the last
ten years, as serf, both to Sir Philip de Morville, and to his own
lord, Sir Foulke d'Oilly. Had seen him last on the night of September
the 12th, in the castle court at Waltheofstow; but had tracked him
thence with bloodhounds to the verge of Borland Forest; had followed
him by hue and cry across the moors to the sands of Morecambe Bay; had
seen the fugitive crossing the bay; had seen him land on the
Westmoreland shore, nor ever had lost the track of him, until he saw
him taken in the cottage at Kentmere. The prisoner at the bar is the
man." The witness then proceeded at length to describe the discovery
of the slain stag, and the murdered bailiff, the manner of their
deaths, the weapons found in the mortal wounds both of the beast and
the man, and of the taking up of the scent of the fugitive from the
spot where the double killing had taken place, by the bloodhounds.

Here Thomas de Curthose said--"This is a case we are trying, in this
court of common pleas, of neifty, _de nativo habendo_; not a case
of deer-slaying, in a forest court, or of murder, in a criminal court.
Therefore, this evidence, as irrelevant, and tending to prejudice the
jury against the prisoner, should be ruled out."

Geoffrey Fitz Peter said; "This testimony goeth only to prove the
weapons, which were carried and used by the fugitive, be he who he
may, at that place and that time stated, to be the same with those
found in possession of the person at the bar, and owned by him to be
his property. And this testimony we propose to use, in order to show
that the person at the bar was actually at the place at the time
stated as aforesaid, and is the very fugitive in question; not that he
is the killer of the deer, or the murderer of the man, which it is not
in the province of this court, or in our purpose to examine."

Sir Ranulf de Glanville said--"To prove the identity of the person at
the bar with the alleged fugitive, this evidence standeth good, but
not otherwise."

His examination being resumed, the witness described, vividly and
accurately, the pursuit of the fugitive with bloodhounds; his
superhuman efforts to escape, both by speed of foot and by power of
swimming; his wonderful endurance, and, at last, his vanishing, as it
were, without leaving a single trace, either for sight or scent, in
the midst of a bare moor. Great sympathy and excitement were
manifested throughout the whole court, at this graphic narrative; and
all eyes were turned, especially those of the fair sex, to the fine
athletic person and noble features of Kenric, as he stood at the bar,
alone of all that company, impassive and unmoved, with looks of pity
and admiration.

But Kenric only shook his head, with a grave smile and a quiet wafture
of the hand, as if putting aside the undeserved sympathy.

But when the witness proceeded to describe the rediscovery of the
fugitive crossing the sands, on the second morning after his temporary
evasion, the desperate race against the speed of mortal horses,
against the untamed velocity of the foam-crested coursers of the
roaring ocean tide; when he depicted the storm bursting in the
darkness, as of night, over the mailed riders and barbed horses
struggling in the pools and quagmires; the fierce billows trampling
over them, amid the tempest and the gloom; and the sun shining out on
the face of the waters, and lo! there were none there, save Hugonet
the Black, sitting motionless on his armed horse like a statue, until
it should please the mounting tide to overwhelm him, from which he
could by no earthly means escape, and the fugitive slave floating, in
his chance-found coracle, within two oars' length of that devoted man,
the excitement in the vast assembly knew no bounds. There were wild
cries and sobs, and the multitude rocked and heaved to and fro, and
several women swooned, and were carried out of the courthouse
insensible, and seemingly lifeless. It was many minutes before order
could be restored.

Then the bolts or quarrels, which had been extracted from the
slaughtered deer and the murdered man were produced in court, yet
stained with the blood, and bearing the name of Kenric branded upon
the wooden shafts with an iron stamp. The crossbow and bolts, found in
Kenric's cottage, and admitted by him to be his property, were also
produced, and the quarrels found in the forest tallied from point to
point, even to a broken letter in the branding, with those which he
acknowledged to be his; and an expert armorer being summoned,
testified that those quarrels were proper ones for that very arbalast,
and would not fit one other out of twenty, it being of unusual

At this point, not a person in the court, from the lowest spectator to
the high justiciary on the bench, but believed the case to be entirely
made out; and some of the crown lawyers whispered among themselves,
wondering why the prisoner had not been arraigned in the forest or
criminal courts, for the higher offenses, which seemed to be proved
against him.

Thomas de Curthose, cross-examining the witness, asked--

"The man at the bar is Eadwulf the Red?"

"He is."

"On your oath, and of your own knowledge."

"On my oath, and of my own knowledge."

"Did you ever hear that 'Eadwulf the Red' should call himself, or be
called by others, 'Kenric.'"

"Never, until now."

"And how have you heard it now?"

"I have seen it stamped on his quarrels."

"Had 'Eadwulf the Red' a brother?"

"A brother?"

"Had 'Eadwulf the Red' a brother?"

"I have heard say he had."

"Of your own knowledge, on your oath?"

"He had a brother."

"What was his name?"

"I--I have forgotten."

"On your oath! on your oath, sirrah!" thundered Thomas de Curthose.
"Was not his name 'Kenric?'"

"I think it was 'Kenric.'"

"Look at the person at the bar." The man did so; but reluctantly, and
with an evident tremor.

"Is not that man 'Kenric,' the brother of 'Eadwulf the Red?'"

"That man is 'Eadwulf the Red'--I have sworn it."

"And art forsworn, in swearing it. But again, thou hast sworn, 'that
on the third morning, after taking scent of the fugitive from the
place of the deer and manslaying, and after hunting him constantly
with bloodhounds, you lost all track of him on the bare moor in
Borland Forest?'"

"Why, ay! I have sworn that; it is quite true," said the man,
seemingly reassured, at the change of the line of examination.

"I doubt it not. Now, when did the hounds take the scent again?"

"Why, not at all. We saw he was making for the sands, and so
squandered ourselves in parties, and on the second morning, at
daybreak, saw him crossing them."

"How far off was he, when you saw him?"

"About three miles."

"Could you see, to know him, at that distance?"

"Why, no; but we guessed it was he, when we saw him run from us; and,
when we wound up the clew to the end, and caught him, we found that we
were right."

"You may stand down. Who is next?"

Four other witnesses followed, who all swore positively to the person
of the prisoner, as "Eadwulf the Red," and testified to various points
in the circumstances of the pursuit and capture, all tending to the
identification of Kenric with the fugitive; and though the counsel for
the defense had succeeded, more or less, in shaking the credit of some
of the witnesses with the jury, and of raising a doubt concerning the
existence of a brother, with whom the fugitive might have been
confounded, no head had yet been made against the direct testimony of
six witnesses, swearing positively to his person, and against the
damaging circumstantial evidence of the crossbow and quarrels.

When the counsel for the plaintiff rested, and the court adjourned at
ten o'clock, for dinner, not a lawyer in the court, except those
retained in the defense, but looked on the case of Kenric as hopeless;
and the party of Sir Foulke d'Oilly were consequently in high glee.
But when the court reassembled, at noon, Walter Gourlay arose, and
addressed the six judges--

"May it please your lordships, we shall right shortly prove to your
satisfaction and to that of this honorable jury that this case lies in
a nutshell, or rather is no case at all, or shadow of a case. First,
we shall show to you that this person at the bar is not, nor ever was
called, 'Eadwulf the Red,' though there may be some slight similarity
of person between him and his brother, of that name; but that he is,
and has been called from his cradle to this day, 'Kenric the Dark.'
Secondly, we shall show you that this 'Kenric the Dark' was not in
Sherwood Forest, or within fifty miles of it, on the 13th day of
September last passed, or on any day within two months thereof.
Thirdly, we shall show you that this 'Kenric the Dark' is not serf or
villeyn to Sir Foulke d'Oilly, or to any Sir in England; but a free
man, and free tenant of the Lord of Kendal, in the county of

Then William of Tichborne, said--"Nay! Brother Gourlay, do not prove
too much against us," and he laughed sneeringly; "else thou wilt
convict our witnesses as mansworn."

And Thomas de Curthose laughed, and said--"Marry will we, and pillory
them for it, likewise."

Then the defense called Bertha, the wife of Werewulf; and an
exceedingly old woman was supported into court, by a younger woman of
exceeding beauty; and, in consideration of her age and infirmities,
she was accommodated with a seat. She was very feeble, and much
emaciated, and her hair was as white as snow; but her figure, though
frail and quivering, was erect as a weather-beaten pine, and her eye
as clear as an eagle's.

"Well, mother, and who art thou?" asked the justiciary, in a kindly
tone, "and what hast thou to tell us in this matter?"

"I am Bertha," she replied, in tones singularly clear and distinct,
"the wife of Werewulf, the son of Beowulf, who was henchman to
Waltheof, who was the Lord of Waltheofstow, before the Normans came to

"A serf to testify in proof of a serf's liberty!" said William of
Tichborne. "Such evidence may not stand."

"She is no serf, my lord," said Gourlay, "but as free as my brother of
Tichborne. Let the Sheriff of Lancaster be sworn."

So, Sir Yvo de Taillebois being sworn in his place, testified:
"Bertha, the wife of Werewulf, is a free woman. I bought her myself,
with her own free consent, of my friend Sir Philip de Morville, and
manumitted her, for reasons of mine own."

"Let Bertha proceed."

"I am the mother of seven sons, in lawful wedlock born; five of whom,
and three grandsons, sleep with their fathers, in the kirkyard of
Waltheofstow; two, as I believe, yet draw the breath of life, biding
God's good time; 'Kenric the Dark,' my second born, and 'Eadwulf the
Red,' my youngest. Kenric stands yonder, at the bar; Eadwulf is a
wanderer on the moorland."

Being cross-examined; "Would she know her sons any where; would she
know them apart?"

"Know my own sons!" she made answer; "the flesh of my own flesh, the
bone of my own bone! By day or by night, in darkness or in light, by
the lowest sound of the voice, by the least pressure of the hand, by
the feeling of their hair, or the smell of their breath, would I know
them, and know them apart, any where. Yon is Kenric, and Kenric is no
more like to Eadwulf, than day is to darkness, or a bright summer
sunshine to a thunder-cloud in autumn."

"Call Aradas de Ratcliffe."

He, being sworn, was asked;

"Know you the person at the bar; and, if ay, what is his name?"

"I know him well; his name is Kenric; his condition, so far as I know,
a freeman, and verdurer to Sir Yvo de Taillebois."

"When did you see him first, to know him?"

"In July last, when my Lord of Taillebois returned from Yorkshire, and
brought him along in his train."

"Have you seen him in the mean time; and, if ay, how often."

"Almost daily. He is one of our best foresters, and we rarely hunt or
hawk without him."

"Can you name any one day, in particular, when you saw the person at
the bar, between July and October, to know him?"

"I can. On the 12th day of last September, at eight o'clock in the
evening, we being then at supper, Kenric came into the hall, by
permission, to bring tidings that he had tracked the great
mouse-colored hart-royal, which has been known in the dales this
hundred years, into a deep dingle at the head of Yewdale, and that he
was laid up for the night. On the 13th, we were astir before day, and
Kenric led us to the lair; and we hunted that hart all day long on the
13th, and killed him at sunset on the skirts of Skiddaw. We had to
pass the night on the mountain, and I well remember how Kenric was the
best man in collecting firing and making all things comfortable for
the night, it being cold, and a keen white frost."

Being cross-examined--"I know it was on the 12th that he brought the
tidings, because my rents fall due on that day at Rydal Manor, and I
had ridden over to collect them, and returned home somewhat late for
supper, and had just sat down to table, very hungry, when he came in
with the news of the great hart-royal; and that spoiled my supper, for
the thought of killing that hart on the morrow took away all my

"And did you kill him, sir?" asked Sir Ranulf de Glanville from the
bench, eagerly; for if he were famous as a lawyer, he was little less
so as a woodman.

"With a cloth-yard shaft from my own bow, Sir Ranulf, at twenty score
yards and thirteen."

"Well, sir, it was a very pretty shot," returned the high justiciary,
nothing abashed by the smile which ran through the court; "and you
have given very pretty evidence. Have you any more witnesses, Master
Gourlay? Methinks the jury have had almost enough of this."

"We will detain your lordships but a very little longer, William Fitz

And he knew Kenric well, and remembered his services particularly on
that 13th day of September; and, to prove the date, he produced a
record of the chase, carved on ivory, which was hung from the antlers
of that celebrated deer, in the great hall at Hawkshead Castle,
recording the length of the hunt, the dogs and horses engaged, and all
the circumstances of the great event.

The bailiff of Kendal was then called, who swore that he knew Kenric,
as forester and verdurer, since July last, and that he had seen him
since that date almost daily; for that three days had never passed
without his bringing him game for his guest-table, according to the
orders of his lord.

"And here," said Thomas de Curthose, "we might safely rest, stating
merely, in explanation, that the true 'Eadwulf the Red,' brother of
the person at the bar, did, we believe, all the things stated by the
witnesses to this court, and did leave, at the cottage on Kentmere,
the crossbow produced before the court, which he had previously
purloined from his brother, while at Waltheofstow. But desiring to
place this man's freedom on record beyond a question or a
peradventure, we will call Sir Yvo de Taillebois."

He, of course, testified to all that is known to the readers of this
history, and which was not known to the jury or the court; to his own
agency, namely, in the purchase and manumission of the serf Kenric,
and to his establishment of him as a free tenant on his lands of
Kentmere, in Kendal.

"And here we rest," said Thomas of Curthose, "nor shall trouble the
court so much as to sum up what is so palpable."

The complainants declining to say any thing farther, Ranulf de
Glanville said--

"It is scarce necessary that I should say any thing to this jury,
seeing that if the evidence of Sir Yvo de Taillebois be received as
credible, the case is at an end. But I would say that, without his
testimony, the defense might have rested safely, when they had shown
that the alleged fugitive, 'Kenric,' was a resident here in
Westmoreland, on the day, and long before the day, when he is charged
on oath to have been a serf in Yorkshire. For if A claim a horse, now
in the possession of B, swearing, and bring in witnesses to swear,
that he, A, lost, or had stolen from him, the said horse, on such a
day; and B bring sufficient and true witnesses to satisfy the jury
that the said horse, so claimed was in his, B's, possession, days,
weeks, or months before the 'such a day' on which A avers to have lost
or had the said horse stolen from him--then it is to be presumed, not
that A and his witnesses are mistaken as to the day, on which the
horse was lost, seeing that he and they have sworn positively to the
day, and that it is in him and them, alone, and on no others, truly to
know the day on which the said horse was lost or stolen--but that the
horse is another horse altogether, and not that horse lost or stolen
on the day averred; inasmuch as this horse claimed was, on that day,
and theretofore and thereafter, standing here, and could not therefore
be lost or stolen elsewhere. This is the law, gentlemen, of an ox, or
an ass, or a goat, or a piece of furniture, or of any thing that is
property, dead or living. Much more so, therefore, of the liberty of a
man. For God forbid that on this earth of England the liberty of a
man, which is even the dearest thing he hath on earth, should be more
lightly jeoparded, or less securely guaranteed to him, than the value
of his ox, or his ass, or his goat, or his chattel, whatsoever it may
be, that is claimed of him. And now, gentlemen of the jury, I will
detain you no longer. You may retire, if you wish to deliberate on
your verdict, whether the person at the bar be 'Eadwulf the Red,'
gross thrall of Sir Foulke d'Oilly, or 'Kenric the Dark,' and a true

"So please the court, we are agreed," was the unanimous answer of the

"And how will you render your verdict?"

"By our foreman, Sir Ralph Egerton, of Egerton."

"We find," said the foreman, in answer to the eye of the justiciary,
"that the person at the bar, 'Kenric, surnamed the Dark,' is a free
man, and that Sir Foulke d'Oilly hath no claim against his liberty or
person. And we farther recommend that the witnesses for the plaintiff,
more especially Ralph Brito, and Andrew of Spyinghow, be taken into
custody, and held to answer to a charge of perjury."

"You have said well, gentlemen, and I thank you for your verdict,"
said the justiciary. "Clerk of the court, record the verdict; and see
that warrants issue against Ralph de Brito and Hugh of Spyinghow.
Kenric, thou art free; free of all charge against thee; free to walk
boldly and uprightly before God; and, so far as you do no wrong, to
turn aside for fear of no man. Go, and thank God, therefore, that you
are born on English soil, where every man is held free, till he is
proved a slave; and where no man can be delivered into bondage, save
on the verdict of a jury of his countrymen. This is the law of
England. God save the King. Amen!"

Then, turning to Sir Yvo de Taillebois, "You brought that fellow off
with flying colors! Now, you will sup with me, at my lodgings, at
nine. My brothers of the bench will be with us, and my lord high
constable, and the earl mareschal; and we will have a merry time of
it. They have choice oysters here, and some lampreys; and that boar's
head, and the venison you sent us, are superb. You will come, of

"With pleasure," said De Taillebois, "but"--and he whispered something
in his ear.

"Ha! do you fear so? I think not; but we will provide for all chances;
and, in good time, here comes Clarencieux. Ho! Clarencieux, sup with
us, at nine to-night; and, look you, we shall want Sir Foulke d'Oilly
in court to-morrow. I do not think that he will give us the slip; but,
lest he try it, let two of your pursuivants and a dozen halberdiers
keep their eye on him till the court sits in the morning; and if he
offer to escape, arrest him without scruple, and have him to the
constable's lodging. Meantime, forget not nine of the clock, in my



              As for the rest appealed,
    It issues from the rancor of a villain,
    A recreant and most degenerate traitor;
    Which, in myself, I boldly will defend;
    And interchangeably hurl down my gage
    Upon this overweening traitor's foot,
    To prove myself a loyal gentleman,
    Even in the best blood chambered in his bosom.


So soon as the court was opened on the following morning, to the
astonishment of all parties, and to that of no one, as it would seem,
more than of the grand justiciary himself, Kenric was again
introduced; but this time heavily ironed, and in the charge of two
ordinary constables of the hundred.

"Ha! what is this?" asked Ranulf de Glanville, sharply. "For what is
this man brought here again in this guise? Judgment was rendered in
his case, last night; and I would have all men to know, that from this
court there is no appeal. Or is there some new charge against him?"

"In some sort, a new charge, my lord," replied the clerk of the court;
"he was arrested last night, the moment he had left this court, on the
complaint of Ralph Brito, next of kin to the deceased, for the murder
of Ralph Wetheral, the seneschal of Waltheofstow, at the time and in
the place, which your lordship wots of, having heard all about it, in
the case decided yesterday _de nativo habendo_!"

"Now, by my halidom!" said Glanville, the fire flashing to his dark
eyes, "this is wonderful insolence and _outrecuidance_ on the part of
Master Ralph Brito, who is himself, or should be, under arrest for

"So, please you, he hath entered bail for his appearance, and is
discharged of custody."

"Who is his bondsman, and in what bail is he held?"

"So please you, in a hundred marks of silver. Sir Foulke d'Oilly is
his bondsman."

"The bail is well enough; the bondsman is not sufficient. Let the
proper officer attach the body of Ralph Brito. Upon my life! he has
the impudence to brave us here, in court."

"Who? I not sufficient," cried Sir Foulke d'Oilly, fiercely, rising to
his feet, as if to defy the court. "I not sufficient for a paltry bail
of a hundred marks of silver? I would have you to know, Sir Ranulf----"

"And I would have you to know, sir," thundered the high justiciary,
"that this is 'the King's court,' in the precincts of which you have
dared to make your voice be heard; and that I, humble as I am, stand
here in _loco regis_, and will be treated with the reverence due
to my master. For the rest, I will speak with you anon, when I shall
have dealt with this case now before me, which seems one of shameful
persecution and oppression."

Sir Foulke d'Oilly had remained on his feet during the time the
justiciary was speaking; and now, turning his eye to his barons and
the knights of his train, who took the cue, and rose silently, he
began to move toward the door.

"Ha! is it so? Close up, halberdiers; guard the doors! Pursuivants, do
your duty. Sheriff of Lancaster, have you a guard at hand to protect
the court?"

"Surely, my lord," replied Sir Yvo de Taillebois. "Without, there!
pass the word to the proper officer, that he turn out the guard."

In a moment, the call of the bugles of the archery was heard, and was
shortly succeeded by the heavy, ordered march of infantry, closing up
to the doors, while the cavalry-trumpets rang through the narrow
streets of the old city, and the clash of mail-coats and the tramp of
chargers told that the men-at-arms were falling in, in great numbers.

Meanwhile, two of the pursuivants, in waiting on Clarencieux, had made
their way to Sir Foulke d'Oilly, and whispered something in his ear,
which, whatever it was, made him turn as pale as death, and sink down
into his seat, without saying a word, while the pursuivants remained
standing at his back. The nobles and knights of his train looked at
him, and looked at one another, with troubled glances; but, finding no
solution to their doubts or answer to their question, seated
themselves in sullen discontent.

The multitude which filled the court-house, meantime, was in the
wildest state of confusion and consternation; the call for the
military force had struck terror into all, especially the feebler part
of the crowd, the aged persons and women, many of whom were present;
for none knew, in those stormy times, how soon swords might be drawn
in the court itself or the hall cleared by a volley of cloth-yard
arrows from the sheriff's Kendal archers.

After a while, however, by the exertions of the proper officers, order
was restored; and then, as if nothing had occurred to interrupt the
thread of his thoughts, de Glanville continued in the matter of
Kenric, who still waited in custody of the sheriff's officers.

"Be there any other charges against this man, Kenric, beside this one
of murder?"

"One of deer-killing, my lord, against the statute, in the forest
court, at the same time, and in the same place, as stated yesterday."

"And on the same evidence, doubtless, on which the jury pronounced
yesterday. In fact, there can be no other. In the last charge, who is
the prosecutor?"

"Sir Foulke d'Oilly, my lord."

"Ah! Sir Foulke d'Oilly! Sir Foulke d'Oilly!" cried Sir Ranulf,
looking lightnings at him, and then turning to the clerk. "Well, sir.
This matter is not as yet in the province of this court. Let it go to
the grand jury now in session, and see that they have copies of the
warrants, and full minutes of all the evidence rendered in the case
_de nativo_, and of the jury's finding, that they may have the
power to judge if these charges be not purely malicious."

A solemn pause followed, full of grave expectation, while the officers
were removing Kenric from the hall, and while the high-justiciary, his
assessors on the bench, the high-constable, the earl mareschal, and
the sheriff of the county were engaged in close consultation.

At the end of this conference, the high-sheriff formally appointed Sir
Hugo le Norman to be his deputy, with full powers, by the consent of
the court, invested him with his chain and staff of office, and,
shortly afterward, appeared in his private capacity, in the body of
the hall; and it was now observed, which had not been noticed while he
wore his robes of his office, that he carried his right arm in a
sling, and halted considerably in his gait, as if from a recent

"Stand forward, now, Sir Foulke d'Oilly," exclaimed the justiciary.
"Crier, call Sir Foulke d'Oilly into court."

Then, as the knight made his appearance at the bar, followed by the
two pursuivants--

"Now, Sir Foulke d'Oilly," he proceeded, "what have you to say, why
you stand not committed to answer for the murder of Sir Philip de
Morville, and his esquire, Jehan de Morville, basely and treacherously
by you and others unknown, on them, done and committed, in the forest
of Sherwood, by the river of Idle, in the shire of Nottingham, on the
sixth day of August last passed, as charged on good and sufficient
evidence against you?"

"By whom is the charge put in?" inquired the felon knight, who, now
that he was certain of the worst, had mustered all his ruffian courage
to his aid, and was ready to bear down all opposition by sheer brute
force and determination.

"By Sir Yvo de Taillebois, Lord of High Yewdale, Hawkshead, Coniston,
and Kendal, and High-Sheriff of this shire of Lancaster."

"The Knight of Taillebois," retorted the other, "can put in no such
charge, seeing that he is not of the blood of the man alleged to be

"Ha! how say you to that, Sir Yvo de Taillebois?"

"I say, my lord," replied De Taillebois, "that in this, as in all
else, Sir Foulke d'Oilly lies in his teeth and in his throat; and that
I _am_ of the blood of Sir Philip de Morville, by him most foully
and most treacherously murdered. May it please you, my lord, call
Clarencieux, king-at-arms."

"Ho! Clarencieux, what knowest thou of this kindred of these houses?"

"We find, my lord," replied Clarencieux, "that in the reign of Duke
Robert, father of King William the Conqueror, Raoul, Count of Evreux,
in the Calvados, gave his daughter Sybilla in wedlock to Amelot, Lord
of Taillebois, in the Beauvoisis. The son of this Raoul of Evreux was
Stephen, invested with the fief of Morville, in Morbihan, who fought
at Hastings, and for good service rendered there and elsewhere,
received the fief of Waltheofstow in Sherwood. The son of Amelot of
Taillebois and Sybilla was Yvo de Taillebois, the elder, who fought
likewise at Hastings, and for good service performed there and
elsewhere was enfeoffed of the lordships of Coniston and Yewdale; as
his son became seized, afterward, of those of Hawkshead and Kendal, in
right of his mother, sister and sole heiress of the Earls Morear and
Edwin, and wife of Yvo de Taillebois, first Norman Lord of Kendal.
Therefore, this Stephen de Morville, first Norman lord of
Waltheofstow, was maternal uncle to Yvo de Taillebois, first Norman
lord of Coniston and Yewdale. Now, Philip de Morville, deceased, was
fourth in descent, in the direct male line, from Stephen, who fought
at Hastings; and Yvo de Taillebois, here present, is third in descent,
in the direct male line, from the elder Yvo, the nephew of Stephen,
who also fought at Hastings; as is set down in this parchment roll,
which no man can gainsay. Therefore, Sir Yvo de Taillebois _is_ of the
blood of Sir Philip de Morville, deceased; and is competent to put in
a charge of the murder of his kinsman."

"On what evidence does he charge me?"

"On that of an eye-witness," exclaimed Sir Yvo de Taillebois. "Let
them call Eadwulf the Red."

"A fugitive serf, deer-slayer, and murderer!" cried Sir Foulke

"But under the king's safe conduct, here in court," said Sir Ranulf,
"and under proclamation of liberty and free pardon of all offenses, if
by his evidence conviction be procured of the doers of this most foul

Then Eadwulf was produced in court, miserably emaciated and
half-starved, but resolute of mien and demeanor, and obstinate as
ever. He had been discovered, by mere chance, in a cavern among the
hills, half-frozen, and more than half-starved, by the foresters of
High Yewdale, who had been instructed to keep a lookout for him; and,
having been with difficulty resuscitated, and made acquainted with the
tenor of the king's proclamation, had been forwarded, in a litter, by
relays of horses, in order to give evidence to the murder.

But, as it proved, his evidence was not needed; for, so soon as he saw
him in court, Sir Foulke d'Oilly pleaded not guilty, flung down his
glove, and declared himself ready to defend his innocence with his

"The matter is out of my jurisdiction," said Sir Ranulf de Glanville.
"My Lord High Constable, and you, Earl Mareschal of England, it is
before your Court of Chivalry."

"Sir Yvo de Taillebois is the appellant," said the high-constable. "Do
you take up the glove, and are you ready in like manner to defend your
charge with your body?"

"I am ready, with my own body, or with that of my champion; for,
unless the wager of battle be deferred these two months, I may not
brook the weight of my armor, or wield a sword, as my leech has herein
on oath testified;" and, with the words, he handed a scroll to the

"Thou hast the right to appear by thy champion. To defer the trial
were unseemly," said the constable, after a moment's consultation with
the mareschal. "Take up his glove, Sir Yvo de Taillebois."

De Taillebois took it up; and both parties being called upon to
produce their pledges, Sir Yvo de Taillebois gave Lord Dacre and Sir
Hugo le Norman, and Sir Foulke d'Oilly, Sir Reginald Maltravers and
Sir Humphrey Bigod, who became their godfathers, as it is termed, for
the battle. Whereupon, Sir Humphrey de Bohun, the high-constable, thus
spoke, and the herald, following his words, made proclamation--

"Hear ye, Sir Yvo de Taillebois and Sir Foulke d'Oilly, appellant and
appellee; ye shall present yourselves, you Sir Yvo de Taillebois,
appellant, in your own person, or by your champion, to be by this
court approved, and you, Sir Foulke d'Oilly, appellee, in your person,
in the tilt-yard of this Castle of Lancaster, at ten o'clock of the
morning of the third day hereafter, to do battle to the uttermost on
this quarrel. And the terms of battle shall be these--on foot, shall
ye fight; on a spot of dry and even ground, sixty paces in length, and
forty in breadth, inclosed with barriers seven feet high, with no one
within them, to aid or abet you, save God and your own prowess. Your
weapons shall be a long sword and a short sword, and a dagger; but
your arms defensive may be at your own will; and ye shall fight until
one of you be slain, or shall have yielded, or until the stars be seen
in heaven. And the conditions of the battle are these; if the appellee
slay the appellant, or force him to cry 'craven,' or make good his
defense until the stars be seen in heaven, then shall he, the
appellee, be acquitted of the murder. But if the appellant slay the
appellee, or force him to cry 'craven,' or if the appellee refuse to
continue the fight, then shall he, the appellee, be held convicted of
the murder. And whosoever of the two shall be slain, or shall cry
'craven,' or shall refuse to continue the fight, shall be stripped of
his armor, where he lies, and shall be dragged by horses out of the
lists, by a passage made in one of the angles, and shall be hanged, in
the presence of the mareschal; and his escutcheon shall be reversed,
and his name shall be declared infamous forever. This is the sentence
of this court, therefore--that on the third day hence, ye do meet in
the tilt-yard of this Castle of Lancaster, at ten o'clock of the
morning, and there do battle, in this quarrel, to the uttermost. And
so may God defend the right!"

Before the court adjourned, a messenger came into the hall from the
grand jury, and Kenric was re-conducted into the presence, still
ironed, and in custody of the officers.

Sir Ranulf de Glanville opened the parchment scroll, and read aloud,
as follows--

    "In the case of Kenric surnamed the Dark, accused of deer-slaying,
    against the forest statute, and of murder, or homicide, both
    alleged to have been done and committed in the forest of Sherwood,
    on the 13th day of September last passed, the grand inquest, now
    in session, do find that there is no bill, nor any cause of

    "Done and delivered in Lancaster Castle, this 6th day of December,
    in the year of Grace 1184.

    "_Foreman of ye Grand Inquest_."

"Why, of course not," said Ranulf de Glanville. "Not a shadow of a
cause. Strike off those irons. He stands discharged, in all innocence
and honor. Go thy ways, sirrah, and keep clear of the law, I counsel
you, in future; and, for this time, thank God and the laws of your
country, that you are a freeman, in a whole skin, this evening."

"I do thank God, and _you_, Sir Ranulf, that you have given me a
fair trial and free justice."

"God forbid, else, man! God forbid, else!" said the justiciary; "and
now, this court stands adjourned until to-morrow, in the morning, at
six of the clock. Heralds, make proclamation; God save the King!"



    "Then rode they together full right,
    With sharpe speares and swordes bright;
      They smote together sore.
    They spent speares and brake shields;
    They pounsed as fowl in the fields;
      Either foamed as doth a boar."


The fatal third day had come about, and with it all the dreadful
preparations for the judicial combat.

With what had passed in the long interval between, to those whose
more than lives, whose very hearts and souls, whose ancient names
and sacred honors, were staked on the event, it is not for us to
know or inquire. Whether the young champion, for it was generally
known that Sir Aradas de Ratcliffe, invested with the golden-spurs
and consecrated with the order of knighthood, by the sword of the
earl mareschal, in order to enable him to meet the appellee on equal
terms, was appointed, with the full consent of the Court of Chivalry,
champion for the appellant--whether, I say, the young champion ever
doubted, and wished he had waited some fairer opportunity, when he
might win the golden-spurs without the fearful risk of dying a
shameful death, and tarnishing forever an unblemished name, I know
not. If he did, it was a human hesitation, and one which had not
dishonored the bravest man who ever died in battle.

Whether the young and gentle maiden, the lovely Guendolen, the most
delicate and tender of women, who scarce might walk the earth, lest
she should dash her foot against a stone; or breathe the free air of
heaven, lest it should blow on her damask cheek too rudely--whether
_she_ never repented that she had told him, "for this I myself will
gird the sword upon your thigh," when she thought of the bloody strife
in which two must engage, but whence one only could come forth alive;
when she thought of the mangled corpse; of the black gibbet; of the
reversed escutcheon; of the dishonored name; whether she never wept,
and trembled, and almost despaired, I know not. If she did not, she
was more or less than woman. But her face was pale as ivory, and her
eyes wore a faint rose-colored margin, as if she had either wept, or
been sleepless, for above one night, when she appeared from her
lodging on that awful morning; though her features were as firm and
rigid as if they had been carved out of that Parian marble which their
complexion most resembled, and her gait and bearing were as steady and
as proud as if she were going to a coronation, rather than to the
awful trial that should seal her every hope on earth, of happiness or

They little know the spirit of the age of chivalry, who imagine that,
because in the tilt, the tournament, the joust, the carrousel, all was
pomp and splendor, music and minstrelsy, and military glory, largesse
of heralds and love of ladies, _los_ on earth and fame immortal
after death, there was any such illusion or enchantment in the
dreadful spectacle of an appeal to the judgment of God by wager of

In it there were no gayly decorated lists, flaunting with tapestries
and glittering with emblazoned shields; no gorgeous galleries crowded
with ladies, a galaxy of beauty in its proudest adornment; no banners,
no heralds in their armorial tabards, no spirit-thrilling shouts, no
soul-inspiring music, only a solitary trumpet for the signals; but,
instead of this, a bare space strewed with sawdust, and surrounded
with naked piles, rudely-fashioned with the saw and hatchet; an
entrance at either end, guarded by men-at-arms, and at one angle, just
without the barrier, a huge black-gibbet, a block, with the broad ax,
the dissecting-knife, and all the hideous paraphernalia of the
headsman's trade, and himself a dark and sordid figure, masked and
clad in buff of bull's hide, speckled and splashed with the gory
stains of many a previous slaughter, leaning against the gallows. The
seats for the spectators--for, like all other tragedies of awful and
engrossing interest, a judicial combat never lacked spectators--were
strewed, in lieu of silken-hangings and sendal-cushions, with plain
black serge; and the spectators themselves, in lieu of the gay,
holiday vestments in which they were wont to attend the gay and gentle
passages of arms, wore only their every-day attire, except where some
friend or favorer of the appellant or appellee, affected to wear
white, in token of trust in his innocence, with a belt or kerchief of
the colors worn by the favored party.

Amid all this gloom and horror, the only relieving point was the
superb surcoats and armor of the constable and mareschal, and the
resplendent tabard of the king-at-arms, who sat on their caparisoned
horses without the lists, backed by a powerful body of men-at-arms and
archers, as judges of the field, and doomsters of the vanquished in
that strife which must end in death and infamy to one or the other of
the combatants.

From an early hour, long before the first gray dawn of day, all the
seats, save those preserved for certain distinguished personages, had
been occupied by a well-dressed crowd; all the avenues to the place
were filled, choked, to overflowing; the roofs, the balconies, the
windows of every house that commanded a view of the lists, the
steeples of the neighboring churches, the battlements and the
bartizans of the gray old castle, already gray and old in the second
century of Norman dominion, were crowded with eager and excited
multitudes--so great was the interest created by the tidings of that
awful combat, and the repute for prowess of the knights who were
pitted in it to meet and part no more, until one should go down

And now the shadow was cast upon the dial, close to the fated hour of
ten, from the clear winter sun, to borrow the words of the greatest
modern poet--

    "Which rose upon that heavy day,
    And mocked it with its steadiest ray."

The castle gates rolled open on their hinges, grating harsh thunder;
and forth came a proud procession, the high-justiciary and his five
associate judges, with their guard of halberdiers, and the various
high officers of the court, among these the sheriff, whose anxious
and interested looks, and, yet more, whose pale and lovely daughter,
hanging on his arm, so firm and yet so wan and woe-begone, excited
general sympathy.

And when it was whispered through the multitude, as it was almost
instantaneously--for such things travel as by instinct--that she was
the betrothed of the young appellant, and that, to win her with his
spurs of gold, he had assumed this terrible emprize, all other
excitement was swallowed up in the interest created by the cold and
almost stern expression of her lovely features, and her brave

And more ladies than one whispered in the ears of those who were
dearest to them; "If he be vanquished, she will not survive him!"

And many a manly voice, shaken in a little of its firmness, made

"He may be slain, but he can not be vanquished."

Scarcely had the members of the Court been seated, with those of the
higher gentry and nobility, who had waited to follow in their suit,
when from the tower of a neighboring Cistercian house, the clock
struck ten; and, now, as in that doleful death-scene in Parisina;

      "The convent-bells are ringing,
          But mournfully and slow:
      In the gray square turret swinging,
          With a deep sound, to and fro,
          Heavily to the heart they go.
        Hark! the hymn is singing--
          The song for the dead below,
          Or the living who shortly shall be so;
    For a departing being's soul
    The death-hymn peals, and the hollow bells knoll."

While those bells were yet tolling, and before the echoes of the last
stroke of ten had died away, two barefooted friars entered the lists,
one at either end, each carrying a Bible and a crucifix; and at the
same moment the two champions were seen advancing, each to his own end
of the lists, accompanied by his sureties or god-fathers, all armed in
complete suits of chain-mail; Sir Aradas as appellant, entering at the
east, Sir Foulke at the left end of the inclosure.

Here they were met each by one of the friars, the constable and
mareschal riding close up to the barriers, to hear the plighting of
their oaths.

And at this moment, the eyes of all the multitude were riveted on the
forms of the two adversaries, and every judgment was on the stretch to
frame auguries of the issue, from the thews, the sinews, and the
demeanor, of the two champions.

It was seen at a glance that Sir Foulke d'Oilly was by far the
stronger-built and heavier man. He was exceedingly broad-shouldered,
and the great volume of his humeral muscles gave him the appearance of
being round-backed; but he was deep-chested, and long-armed; and,
though his hips were thick and heavy, and his legs slightly
bowed--perhaps in consequence of his almost living on horseback--it was
evident that he was a man of gigantic strength, impaired neither by
excess nor age, for he did not seem to be more than in his fortieth

Sir Aradas de Ratcliffe, on the contrary, was nearly three inches
taller than his opponent, and proportionately longer in the reach; but
altogether he was built more on the model of an Antinous than a
Hercules. If he were not very broad in the shoulders, he was singularly
deep and round in the chest, and remarkable for the arched hollow of
his back and the thinness of his flanks. His arms and legs were
irreproachable, and, all in all, he trod the firm earth with

      "A station like the herald Mercury,
    New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill."

But it was from the features of the two men that most took their
auspices, and that the friends of Aradas drew confident augury of his

The face of Sir Foulke d'Oilly was flaccid and colorless, with huge
over-lapping brows shading his small keen eyes with a pent-house of
grizzly bristles, large pendant cheeks, a sinister hooked nose, and a
mouth indicative of lust, cruelty, and iron firmness--altogether, a
sordid vulturine type of man.

The features of Aradas, on the contrary, were clean, clear, fleshless,
and finely marked; a broad, smooth forehead, straight-cut black
eyebrows, well-opened hazel eyes, with a tawny flash when excited, like
to that of a lion or an eagle, a nose slightly aquiline, and a mouth
not less benevolent than resolute. No one could look at him and his
opponent, without thinking instinctively of the gallant heaven-aspiring
falcon matched with the earthly, carrion vulture.

Nor was there less meaning or omen in the tone of their voices, as they

Men paused to listen breathlessly; for among the lower classes on the
field there were heavy bets pending on the issue, and the critical
judges of those days believed that there was much in the voice of a

As each entered the lists, he was met by a friar, who encountered him
with the question, "Brother, hast thou confessed thy sins this

To this, d'Oilly muttered a reply, inaudible to the questioner; but
Aradas made answer, in a voice that rang like a silver bell, "I have
confessed my sins, father, and, thanks to the Lord Jesus, have received
absolution and the most holy sacrament of his body."

The questions were then put to both, to be answered with the hand on
the evangelists and the lip on the crucifix--

"Do you hereby swear that your former answers and allegations are all
true; that you bear no weapons but those allotted by the court; that
you have no charms about you; that you place your whole trust in God,
in the goodness of your cause, and in your own prowess?"

To this solemn query, Sir Foulke replied only by the two words, "I
swear!" and those so obscurely uttered, that the constable called on
him to repeat them.

But Sir Aradas raised his head, and looked about him with a frank and
princely air. "I hereby swear," he said, "that which I swore
heretofore--that Sir Foulke d'Oilly is a murderer, a liar, and a
traitor--to be true, and on his body I will prove it; that I have not,
nor will use any weapons save what the court allot me; that I wear
neither charm nor talisman; and that, save in my good cause, my own
right hand, and my trust in God, I have not whereon to rest my hope,
here, or hereafter. So may He help me, or desert me at my utmost need,
on whose evangelists I am now sworn."

Then the godfathers led the men up face to face, and each grasping the
other by the mailed right hand, they again swore--

The appellant, "My uttermost will I do, and more than my uttermost, if
it may be, to slay thee on this ground whereon we stand, or to force
thee to cry 'craven'--so help me God, in his most holy heaven!"

And the appellee, "My uttermost will I do, and more, if may be, than my
uttermost, to prove my innocence upon thy body, on this ground whereon
we stand--so help me God, in the highest!"

The same difference was observed in the voices of the two men, as they
again swore; for while the tones of Aradas had the steel-tempered ring
of the gallant game-cock's challenge, the notes of Sir Foulke were
liker to the quavering croak of the obscene raven.

Then the godfathers retired them, till they stood face to face, with
thirty feet between them, and delivered to them the arms allotted by
the court. These were--a dagger, with a broad, flat blade, eighteen
inches in length, worn in a scabbard on the right side, behind the hip;
an estoc, or short sword, of about two feet six, with a sharp point,
and grooved bayonet-blade, hanging perpendicularly on the left thigh;
and a huge two-handed broadsword, four feet from guard to point, with a
hilt of twenty inches, and a great leaden pommel to counterbalance the
weight of the blade in striking.

Their defensive arms were nearly similar. Each wore a habergeon, or
closely-fitting shirt of linked mail, with mail sleeves, mail hose,
poldron, genouillieres, and shoes of plated splints of steel; and
flat-topped helmets, with avantailles and beavers. But the neck of Sir
Foulke d'Oilly was defended by the new-fashioned gorget of steel
plates, while Aradas adhered to the old mail-hood or tippet, hooked on
to the lower rim of his beaver. And it was observed that while d'Oilly
wore his small heater-shaped shield on his left arm, De Ratcliffe threw
his over his shoulder, suspended from the chain which held it about his
neck, so as to leave both his arms free to wield his mighty war-sword.

Beyond this, it was only noted that in the casque of Sir Aradas was a
lady's glove, and on his left arm an azure scarf, fringed with gold,
such as the pale girl on the seneschal's arm wore, over her snow-white
cymar, crossing her left shoulder and the region of her heart.

And now the godfathers left the lists, and none remained within them
save the two champions facing each other, like two pillars of steel, as
solid and as motionless, until the word should be given to set on, and
the two barefooted friars, crouching on their knees in the angles of
the lists, muttering their orisons before the crucifixes, which they
held close before their eyes, as if to shut out every untoward sight
which might mar their meditations.

Then a single trumpet was blown. A sharp, stern, warning blast. And a
herald made proclamation;

"Oyez! oyez! oyez! This is _champ clos_, for the judgment of God.
Therefore, beware all men, to give no aid or comfort to either
combatant, by word, deed, sign, or token, on pain of infamy and

Then the constable rose in his stirrups, and cried aloud--

"Let them go!"

And the trumpet sounded.

"Let them go!"

And, again, the trumpet sounded.

"Let them go! Do your duty!"

And the earl mareschal answered,

"And may God defend the right!"

And, the third time, the trumpet sounded, short and direful as the
blast of doom; and at that deadly summons, with brandished blades, both
champions started forward; but the first bound of Sir Aradas carried
him across two thirds of the space, and his sword fell like a
thunderbolt on the casque of his antagonist, and bent him almost to his
knee. But that was no strife to be ended at a blow; and they closed,
foot to foot, dealing at each other sweeping blows, which could not be
parried, and could scarcely be avoided, but which were warded off by
their armor of proof.

It was soon observed that Sir Foulke d'Oilly's blows fell with far the
weightier dint, and that, when they took effect, it was all his lighter
adversary could do to bear up against them. But, on the other hand, it
was seen that, by his wonderful agility, and the lithe motions of his
supple and elastic frame, Sir Aradas avoided more blows than he
received, and that each stroke missed by his enemy told almost as much
against him as a wound.

At the end of half an hour, no material advantage had been gained; the
mail of either champion was broken in many places, and the blood
flowed, of both, from more wounds than one; that of Aradas the more

But as they paused, perforce, to snatch a moment's breath, it was clear
that Sir Aradas was the fresher and less fatigued of the two; while Sir
Foulke was evidently short of wind, and hard pressed.

It was not the young man's game to give his enemy time--so, before half
a minute had passed, he set on him again, with the same fiery vigor and
energy as before. His opponent, however, saw that the long play was
telling against him, and it appeared that he was determined to bring
the conflict to a close by sheer force.

One great stride he made forward, measuring his distance accurately
with his eye, and making hand and foot keep time exactly, as he swung
his massive blade in a full circle round his head, and delivered the
sweeping blow, at its mightiest impetus, on the right side of his
enemy's casque.

Like a thunderbolt it fell; and, beneath its sway, the baçinet,
cerveilliere, and avantaille of Aradas gave way, shattered like an
egg-shell. He stood utterly unhelmed, save that the beaver and the base
of the casque, protecting the nape of his neck and his lower jaw, held
firm, and supported the mailed hood of linked steel rings, which
defended his neck to the shoulder. All else was bare, and exposed to
the first blow of his now triumphant antagonist.

The fight seemed ended by that single blow; and, despite the injunction
of the herald, a general groan burst from the assembly. Guendolen
covered her face with her hands for a second, but then looked up again,
with a wild and frenzied eye, compelled to gaze, to the last, on that
terribly fascinating scene.

But then was it shown what might there is in activity, what resistless
power in quickness. For, leaping and bounding round the heavy giant,
like a sword-player, letting him waste his every blow on the empty air
or in the impassive sawdust, Aradas plied his sword like a thrasher's
flail, dealing every blow at his neck and the lacings of his casque,
till fastening after fastening broke, and it was clear that d'Oilly,
too, would be unhelmed in a few more moments.

The excitement of the people was ungovernable; they danced in their
seats, they shouted, they roared. No heralds, no pursuivants, no
men-at-arms, could control them. The soul of the people had awakened,
and what could fetter it?

Still, wonderful as they were, the exertions of Aradas, completely
armed in heavy panoply, were too mighty to last. The thing must be
finished. Down came the trenchant blade with a circling sweep, full on
the jointed-plates of d'Oilly's new-fangled gorget. Rivet after rivet,
plate after plate, gave way with a rending crash; his helmet rolled on
the ground. He stood bare-headed, bare-throated, unarmed to the

But the same blow which unhelmed d'Oilly disarmed Aradas. His faithless
sword was shivered to the hilt; and what should he do now, with only
that weak, short estoc, that cumbrous dagger, against the downright
force of the resistless double-handed glaive?

Backward he sprang ten paces. The glittering estoc was in his right,
the short massive dagger in his left. He dropped on his right knee,
crouching low, both arms hanging loosely by his sides, but with his eye
glaring on his foeman, like that of the hunted tiger.

No sooner had Sir Foulke rallied from the stunning effects of the blow,
and seen how it was with him, his enemy disarmed, and, as it seemed, at
his power, than a hideous sardonic smile glared over his lurid
features, and he strode forward with his sword aloft, to triumph and to
kill. When he was within six paces of his kneeling adversary, he
paused, measured his distance--it was the precise length for one
stride, one downright blow, on that bare head, which no earthly power
could now shield against it.

There was no cry now among the people--only a hush. Every heart stood
still in that vast concourse.

"Wilt die, or cry 'craven?'"

The eye of Aradas flashed lightning. Lower, he crouched lower, to the
ground. His left hand rose slowly, till the guard of his dagger was
between his own left, and his enemy's right eye. His right hand was
drawn so far back, that the glittering point of the estoc only showed
in front of his hip. Lower, yet lower, he crouched, almost in the
attitude of the panther couchant for his spring.

One stride made Sir Foulke d'Oilly forward; and down, like some
tremendous engine, came the sword-sweep--the gazers heard it whistle
through the air as it descended.

What followed, no eye could trace, no pen could describe. There was a
wild cry, like that of a savage animal; a fiery leap through a cloud of
whirling dust; a straight flash through the haze, like lightning.

One could see that somehow or other that slashing cut was glanced
aside, but how, the speed of thought could not trace.

It was done in a second, in the twinkling of an eye. And, as the dust
subsided, there stood Aradas, unmoved and calm as the angel of death,
with his arms folded, and nothing in his hand save the dagger shivered
to the guard. And at his feet lay his enemy, as if stricken by a
thunderbolt, with his eyes wide open and his face to heaven, and the
deadly estoc buried, to the gripe, in the throat, that should lie no
more forever.

Pass we the victor's triumph, and the dead traitor's doom; pass we the
lovers' meeting, and the empty roar of popular applause. That was,
indeed, the judgment of God; and when God hath spoken, in the glory of
his speechless workings, it is good that man should hold his peace
before him.



    "The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
      So fair a bride shall leave her home!
    Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
      So fair a bride shall pass to-day."


The dark winter months, with their alternate snows, sheeting the wide
moorlands, and roofing the mighty mountain-tops of the lake country
with inviolate white, and soft thaws swelling the streamlets into
torrents, inundating the grassy meadows, and converting the mountain
tarns into inland seas, had passed away; nor passed away all gloomily,
or without their appropriate and peculiar pleasures, from the
sojourners in Hawkshead Castle.

All over Merrie England, but in no part of it more than in the north
country, was Christmas the gladdest and the blythest time of all the
circling year; when every door stood open, from that of the baron's
castle and the franklin's hall to that of the poorest cotter's cabin;
when the yule log was kindled, and the yule candle lighted; when the
furmety smoked on every English board, and the wassail bowl was spiced
for all comers; when the waits sang Christmas carols under the clear
cold moon in the frosty midnights, and the morris-dancers and the
mummers rioted and reveled to the rude minstrelsy of the time, and made
the most of the short-lived wintery sunshine; when ancient feuds were
often reconciled, and ancient friendships riveted by closer ties; when
families long dissevered were re-collected and re-united about the old
ancestral hearth-stones; when the noble and the rich filled their
abundant halls with sumptuous luxury and loud-rejoicing merriment, and
the poor were not forgotten by the great.

Indeed, though there was much that was coarse and rude, much that was
hard, cruel, and oppressive, in the social life of England, in those
old and almost forgotten days, there was much also that was good and
generous and genial, much that was sound and hearty, much that was
brave and hale and masculine, which has vanished and departed from the
world forever, with the vaunted progress of civilization and refinement,

    In those old times
    When the Christmas chimes
      Were a merry sound to hear,
    When the squire's wide hall,
    And the cottage small,
      Were full of good English cheer.

Above all, there was this great redeeming virtue, conspicuous among the
flagrant wrongs and innate evils of society under the feudal system,
that between the governors and the governed, between the lord and his
lieges, nay, even between the master and his serfs, there was then no
such social gulf established, as now yawns, in these boasted days of
civilizing progress and political equality, between castes and classes,
separated by little else than their worth, estimated by the standard of
gold--gold, which seems, daily and hourly, more and more to be
over-riding all distinctions of honored ancestry, high name, noble
deeds, personal deserts, nay, even of distinguished bearing, of
intellect, of education, of accomplishment, much more of truth,
integrity or honor.

During these wintery months, accordingly, there had been all the free,
open-hearted hospitality of the day, displayed throughout the wide
manors of Hawkshead, Coniston, and Yewdale, and in the neighboring
demesnes of Rydal, and something more even than the wonted merriment
and joviality of that sacred yet joyous season.

Many of the grand baronial families of the vicinity, attracted as much,
perhaps, by the singular and romantic interest attaching to the great
events, which had filled all the north country with the rumor of their
fame as with the blast of a martial trumpet, as by the ties of caste
and kindred, had visited the castle palace of Sir Yvo de Taillebois,
almost in the guise of bridal guests; for the approaching nuptials of
the fair Guendolen with Aradas the Brave were openly announced,
although the ceremonial was deferred until the balmy days of
spring-time, and the genial month of May. The Cliffords of Barden, the
Howards, from Naworth and Carlisle, the Percy, from his already famous
strength of Alnwick, the Scropes, the Umfravilles, the Nevilles, from
their almost royal principality of Middleham on the Ure, had all in
turn tasted the Christmas cheer, and shared the older sports of Yule,
in the wild recesses of Kendale; had congratulated the young and noble
victor on his double conquest, scarce knowing which was most to be
envied, that of the felon knight in the black lists of Lancaster, or
that of the soft ladye in the sweetest valley of the lone lake country.

But now, the wintery days had passed away, the snipe was heard drumming
every where on vibrated pinions, as he soared and dived in mid-air over
the deep morasses, in which he annually bred unmolested; the swallows
had returned from their unknown pilgrimage to the spicy isles of ocean,
or the central waters of untrodden Africa, and might be seen skimming
with rapid wing, the blue mirror of Winandermere, and dimpling its
surface in pursuit of their insect prey; the cuckoo had been heard in
the birch-woods among the ghylls, and in the huge sycamores around the
village garths; the heathcocks blew their clarion call of amorous
defiance from every heath-clad knoll of the wide moorlands; the cushat
had donned the iris hues which paint his swelling neck in the spring
days of love and courtship; the meadows were alive with crocuses,
brown-streaked and purple, white and golden; the snow-drops had raised
their silvery bells, almost before the earth was clear of its winter
covering; the primroses gemmed all the banks with their pale saffron
blossoms, the air was redolent with the delicious perfume of the

It was the eve of May, and as the sun was setting over the misty hills
that keep guard over high Yewdale, amid a long and joyous train,
dragged slowly by ten yoke of milk-white oxen, with nosegays on their
horns, and branches of the fragrant May canopying their harness,
escorted by troops of village girls, and stout hill shepherds, dancing
along and caroling to the cadence of the pipe, the tabor, and the
rebeck, the mighty Maypole was brought in triumph up the weary winding
road to the green esplanade before the castle gates of Hawkshead; and
there, before midnight, was swung into its place, crowned with
garlands, and fluttering with gay streamers, and glad with the leafy
garniture of Spring, "shrouds and stays holding it fast," holding it
erect toward heaven, an emblem of that which never can, whatever
fanatics and bigots may declare, be unacceptable on High, the innocent
and pure rejoicings of humble loving hearts, forgetting toil and care,
and casting away sorrow for one happy day, at least, the merriest and
the maddest of the three hundred and sixty-five, which sum the
checkered score of man's annual vicissitudes of labor and repose, brief
merriment and lasting sorrow.

During the night deep silence and deep slumber fell like a shadow over
keep and cottage, and not a sound disturbed the stillness of the vernal
night, unless it were the quavering cry of some night-bird among the
tufted woods, or the shrill bark of the hill fox from the mountain
side, or the deep harmonious call "All's well," from the warder on the
lofty battlements.

But long before the paly dawn had begun to throw its faint yellow
glimmer up the eastern sky, while the moon was yet riding lustrous in
the cloudless azure, with the morning-star flashing like a diamond by
her side, many a cottage door in the silent hamlet, many a one on the
gentle slopes of the green hill sides, many a one in the broad pastoral
valley, was unbolted, and revolved on noiseless hinges, to send forth
the peasant maids, in shy yet merry bands to gather, with many a mystic
rite and ceremonial borrowed, unknown to them, from the mythology of
other lands, when Flora ruled the month of flowers, to gather the
puissant dews of May.

When the sun rose fair above the eastern hills,

    "With blessings on his broad and burnished face,"

his appearance was welcomed by such a burst of joyous and hilarious
music from the battlements, as never before had waked the echoes of
Scafell and Skiddaw. In that triumphant gush of music there were
blended, not only the resounding clangor of the Norman kettle-drums
and trumpets, with the clear notes of the mellow bugle, but the tones
of a thousand instruments, scarce known on English soil, having been
introduced only by the Crusaders from those Oriental climates, in
which music is indigenous and native, and from which the retainers of
Sir Yvo de Taillebois had imported, not the instruments only but the
skill necessary to give them utterance and expression, and the very
airs to which, in the cedar-vales, and among the haunted hills of
Palestine, they had of old been vocal.

The musical chime of many bells attuned, the silver clash of the
cymbals, the roll of the Syrian atabals, the soft tones of the lute,
and shrill strains of the Eastern reed-pipes, were blended strangely,
but most sonorously with the stirring war-notes of the west. And
instantly, as if awakened from sleep by that rejoicing strain, the
little chapel bells of Bowness began to tinkle with small merry
chimes, across the bright blue lake; and answering, yet further in the
distance, though still clearly audible, so apt to the conveyance of
sounds is the tranquillity and the clear vibrating air of those
mountain regions, the full carillon of the magnificent Abbey of Kendal
the stately ruins of which are still extant, as if to teach us
boastful men of modern days, the superiority of our semi-barbarous
ancestors, as we have the vanity to term them, rang out, proclaiming
to the sparse population of the dales,

    "How fair a bride shall wed to-day."

Around the Maypole on the green, already were assembled, not the
vassals only of the great baron, his free-tenants and his serfs,
rejoicing in one happy holiday, and in the prospect of gorging
themselves ere nightfall throat-full of solid dainties and sound ale,
but half the population of the adjacent valleys, hill-farmers,
statesmen, as the small land-holders are still called in those
unsophisticated districts, burghers from the neighboring towns,
wandering monks and wandering musicians, a merry, motley multitude,
all in their best attire, all wearing bright looks and light hearts,
and expecting, as it would seem from the eager looks directed
constantly toward the castle gates, the forthcoming of some spectacle
or pageant, on which their interest was fixed.

Two or three Welsh harpers, who had been lured from their Cambrian
wilds by the far-spread report of the approaching festivities, and by
the hope of gaining silver guerdon from the bounty of the splendid
Normans, were seated on a grassy knoll, not far from the tall
garlanded mast, which made itself conspicuous as the emblem--as,
perhaps, in former ages, it had been the idol--of the day, and from
time to time drew from the horse-hair strings of their rude harps some
of those sweet, wild, melancholy airs which are still characteristic
of the genius of the Kymric race, which still recall the hours

    "When Arthur ruled and Taliessin sung;"

but neither to them, nor to the indigenous strains, more agreeable
perhaps to their untutored ears, of two native crowders of the dales,
who were dragging out strange discords from the wires of their rude
violins--nor yet to the more captivating and popular arts of three or
four foreign jongleurs, with apes and gitterns--the Savoyards of that
remote age, though coming at that day not from the valleys of the
lower Alps, but from the western shores of Normandy and Morbihan--did
the eager crowd vouchsafe much of their attention, or many of their

There was a higher interest awake, a more earnest expectation, and
these were brought to their climax, when, just as the castle bell
tolled eight, the wild and startling blast of a single trumpet rose
clear and keen from the inner court, and the great gates flew open.

A gay and gallant sight it was, which, as the heavy drawbridge
descended, the huge portcullis slowly rose, creaking and clanking, up
its grooves of stone, and the iron-studded portals yawned, revealed
itself to the eyes of the by-standers; and loud and hearty was the
cheer which it evoked from the assembled multitude.

The whole inner court was thronged with men and horses, gayly clad,
lightly armed, and splendidly caparisoned; and, as obedient to the
signals of the officers who marshaled them, the vaunt-couriers of the
company rode out, four by four, arrayed in Kendal green, with the
silver badges and blue sarsenet scarfs of their lord, and white satin
favors with long silver streamers, waving from their bonnets, the
gleam of embroideries and the fluttering of female garments might be
discovered within the long-withdrawing avenue. Four hundred strong,
the retainers of the high-sheriff, swept forward, with bow and spear,
and were succeeded by a herald in his quartered tabard, and a dozen
pursuivants with trumpets.

Behind these came, in proud procession, six tall priests, nobly
mounted on ambling palfreys, each bearing a gilded cross, and then the
crozier of the abbot of Furness Abbaye, followed by that proud
prelate, with his distinctive, hierarchal head-tire, cope, and
dalmatique, and all the splendid paraphernalia of his sacred feudal
dignity, supported by all his clergy in their full canonicals, and a
long train of monks and choristers, these waving perfumed chalices,
those raising loud and clear the hymns appointed for the ceremonial.

A hundred gentlemen of birth and station, on foot, bare-headed, clad
in the liveries of the house of Taillebois, blue velvet slashed and
lined with cloth of silver laid down on white satin, came next, the
escort of the bridal party, and were followed by a multitude of
beautiful girls, dressed in virgin white, strewing flowers before the
feet of the bride's palfrey.

But when she appeared, mounted on a snow-white Andalusian jennet,
whose tail and mane literally swept the ground in waves of silver, in
her robes of white sendal and cloth of silver, with the bridal
head-tire of long-descending gauzy fillets floating around her like a
wreath of mist about a graceful cypress, and her long auburn ringlets
disheveled in their mazes of bright curls, powdered with diamond dust
and garlanded with virgin roses, the very battlements shook to the
shouts of applause, which made the banners toss and rustle as if a
storm-wind smote them.

Two pages, dressed in cloth of silver, tended her bridle-reins on
either hand, and two more bore up the long emblazoned foot-cloths of
white and silver, which would otherwise have embarrassed the paces of
the beautiful and docile steed which bore her, timing its tread to the
soft symphony of lutes and dulcimers which harbingered the progress;
while no less than six belted knights, with their chains of gold about
their necks, bore the staves of the satin canopy, or baldacchino,
which sheltered her fair beauties from the beams of the blythe May

Twelve bridesmaids, all of noble birth, mounted like herself on
snow-white palfreys, all robed and filleted in white and silver, and
garlanded with pale blush roses, nymphs worthy of the present goddess,
bridled and blushed behind her. And there, radiant with love and
triumph, making his glorious charger--a red roan, with a mane and tail
white and redundant as the surges of the creamy sea--caracole, and
bound from the dull earth in sobresaults, croupades and balotades,
which would have crazed a professor of equitation with admiration,
apart from envy, rode Aradas de Ratcliffe, with his twelve groom's-men
glittering with gems, and glorious with silk upon silk, silver upon

Sir Yvo de Taillebois, with twenty or thirty of the greatest barons
of the north country, his cotemporaries, and many of them his
brothers-in-arms, and fellows at the council-table of their puissant
Norman monarch, whom they admitted only to be first baron of the
English barons, _primus inter pares_, brought up the rear of the
procession, while yet behind them filed a long band of spears and
pennoncelles, and again after these a countless multitude, from all
the country side, rejoicing and exulting, to form a portion of the
pageant which added so much to the customary pleasures of the Maying.

Thus, for miles, they swept onward through the pleasant meadow-land,
tufted and gemmed with unnumbered flowers, between tall hedges white
with the many-blossomed May, and overrun with flaunting clusters of
the delicious woodbine.

Once and again they were met by troops of country girls scattering
flowers, and as often rode beneath triumphal arches, deftly framed of
green leaves and gay wild-flowers by rustic hands, in token of the
heart's gratitude, until they reached the shores of the blue lake,
where Sir Yvo's yacht awaited them, convoyed by every barque and boat
that could be pressed into the service from all the neighboring meres
and lakelets of the county.

The wind blew fair and soft, and swelled the sails of cloth of silver,
and waved the long azure pennants forward, as omens of happy days
ahead; and smoothly over the rippling waters, to the sound of the soft
bridal music, galleys and horse-boats, barques and barges, careered in
fair procession, while the great multitude, afoot, rushed, like an
entering tide, through the horse-roads and lanes around the head of
the lake, eager to share the wedding-feast and the wedding dance, at
least, if not to witness the nuptial ceremonial.

At Bowness they took horse again, and escorted by the bailiff and
burghers of Kendall, proceeded, at an increased pace, to the splendid
Abbey Church, dim with the religious light which streamed through its
deeply tinted window-panes, and was yet further obscured by the thick
clouds from the tossed chalices of incense, through which swelled,
like an angel's choir, the pure chant of girls and children, and the
deep diapason of the mighty organ.

The nuptial ceremony was followed by a feast fit for kings, served up
in the grand hall of Kendal Castle, wherein, before the Norman
conquest, the proud Saxon Earls, Morcar and Edwin, maternal ancestors
of the fair bride, had banqueted and rioted in state, and where, as
tradition related, they had held revel for the last time on the eve of
their departure for the fatal field of Hastings, fatal to Saxon
liberty, but harbinger of a prouder era, and first cause and creatrix
of a nobler race, to rule in Merrie England.

It needs not, here, to dwell on the strange dainties, the now
long-disused and unaccustomed viands and beverages of those old days,
more than on the romantic feudal usages and abstruse ceremonials of
the day; suffice it that, to their palates, heronshaw, egret and
peacock, venison and boar's-meat, and chines of the wild bull, were no
less dainty than the choicest of our modern luxuries to the beaux and
belles of the nineteenth century; and that hypocras and pigment, morat
and mead and clary, made the pulses burn and the cheeks mantle as
blythely and as brightly as Champagne or Burgundy. The ball, for the
nobles in the castle-hall, for the commons on the castle-green,
followed the feast; but not till the stocking had been thrown, and the
curtain drawn, and the beautiful bride fairly bedded, was the nuptial
ceremony esteemed fully ended, which gave the lovely Guendolen, for
weal and not for woe, to the brave and faithful Aradas de Ratcliffe.

The raptures of lovers are not to be described; and if the pen of the
ready-writer may gain inspiration to delineate the workings of strong
mental passions, of intense moral or physical excitements, to depict
stormy wrath, the agonies of hope deferred, the slow-consuming pangs
of hopeless regret, there is one thing that must ever defy his powers
of representation--the calm enjoyment of every-day domestic happiness;
the easy and unvarying pleasures of contentment; the placid routine of
hourly duties, hourly delights, hourly labors, hourly affections; and
that soft intermixture of small cares and passing sorrows, with great
blessings tasted, and great gratitudes due, which make up the sum of
the most innocent and blessed human life.

And such was the life of Sir Aradas and the fair Guendolen de
Ratcliffe, until, to borrow the quaint phrase of the narrator of those
incomparable tales of the Thousand and One Nights, "they were visited
by the terminator of delights, and the separator of companions.
Extolled be the perfection of the Living, who dieth not!"

Sir Yvo de Taillebois lived long enough to see his child's children
gathered to his knee; to prognosticate, in their promise, fresh honors
to his high-born race; but not so long as to outlive his intellect,
his powers to advise, console, enjoy, and, above all, to trust in God.
Full of years and full of honors, he was gathered to his fathers in
the ripeness of his time, and he sleeps in a quiet churchyard in his
native valley, where a green oak-tree shades his ashes, and the
ever-vocal music of the rippling Kent sings his sweet, natural

Eadwulf the Red never recovered from the starvation and exposure
endured in his escape and subsequent wanderings; and, though he
received the priceless boon of liberty, and the king's free pardon for
his crimes, though he passed his declining days in the beautiful
cottage nigh Kentmere, with his noble brother, his fair wife, and all
the treasured little ones about him, who grew up like olive-branches
round Kenric's happy, honored board, with every thing to soothe his
stubborn heart and soften his morose and bitter spirit, he lived and
died a gloomy, disappointed, bitter, and bad-hearted man, a victim in
some sort of the vicious and cruel system which had debased his soul
more even than it had degraded his body.

Yet it was not in that accursed system, altogether; for the gallant
and good Kenric, and his sweet wife, Edith the Fair, were living
proofs, even, as the noble poet sings--

    "That gentleness and love and trust
    Prevail o'er angry wave and gust;"

and it was no less "the spur, that the clear spirit doth raise," than
the grand force of that holiest Saxon institution, Trial by Jury, that
raised Kenric from a Saxon serf to be an English freeman.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wager of Battle - A Tale of Saxon Slavery in Sherwood Forest" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.