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Title: With the Black Prince
Author: Stoddard, William Osborn
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.

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Uniform edition. Each, 12mo, cloth, $1.50.

The Red Patriot.

     A Story of the American Revolution. Illustrated by B. WEST

     Mr. Stoddard is at his best in this stirring story, which among
     other themes pictures incidents of Washington's campaigning in New
     Jersey. In this vivid account of a boy's part in great historical
     events there is a leading actor, "the last of the Susquehannocks,"
     whose share in the hero's adventures has given the title to the

The Windfall; or, After the Flood.

     Illustrated by B. WEST CLINEDINST.

     "Full of adventures and incident so well conceived and described as
     to keep the reader in a continued state of absorbed attention. It
     is the kind of book that one wants to sit up nights to finish. One
     can not lay it aside comfortably until the final outcome is
     known"--_Springfield Union._

Little Smoke.

     A Story of the Sioux Indians. With 12 full-page Illustrations by F.
     S. DELLENBAUGH, portraits of Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, and other
     chiefs, and 72 head and tail pieces representing the various
     implements and surroundings of Indian life.

     "It is not only a story of adventure, but the volume abounds in
     information concerning this most powerful of remaining Indian
     tribes. The work of the author has been well supplemented by the
     artist."--_Boston Traveler._

Crowded Out o' Crofield.

     The Story of a Country Boy who fought his way to success in the
     great metropolis. With 23 Illustrations by C. T. HILL.

     "This excellent story is interesting, thoroughly wholesome, and
     teaches boys to be men, not prigs or Indian hunters."--_Detroit
     Free Press._

The Battle of New York.

     A Narrative of the Civil War. With 11 full-page Illustrations and
     colored Frontispiece.

     "The description of these terrible days and more awful nights is
     very animated."--_New York Evening Post._

On the Old Frontier; or, The Last Raid of the Iroquois.

     With 10 full-page Illustrations by H. D. MURPHY.

     "Mr. Stoddard's stories of adventure are always of the thrilling
     sort which boys like most to read. This tale, which relates to the
     last raids of the Iroquois, is as stirring as the best of those
     which have come from his pen."--_Philadelphia Evening Bulletin._

Chris, the Model-Maker.

     A Story of New York. With Illustrations by B. WEST CLINEDINST.

     The metropolis is always an attractive scene for a story, and
     doubly so for a story like this, which tells how two boys and a
     girl made their way by their own pluck and ability.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

[Illustration: Firm as a rock stood the young warrior. (See page 18.)]




Author of
Crowded Out o' Crofield, The Red Patriot,
Success Against Odds, etc.



New York
D. Appleton and Company

Copyright, 1898,
By D. Appleton and Company.


CHAPTER                               PAGE
   I.--THE KING'S DEER                   1

  II.--THE MEN OF THE WOODS             25


  IV.--THE KING'S MESSENGER             70

   V.--THE ENDING OF THE PEACE          96

  VI.--THE SEA FIGHT                   119



  IX.--KING EDWARD AT PARIS            188

   X.--THE GREAT DAY OF CRÉCY          212


Firm as a rock stood the young warrior       _Frontispiece_

Loudly twanged the bow                                       102

"Yield thee, De Renly!" he shouted                           132

Up went the ladder, and on it the English climbed fast       177

Soon the air was full of the roaring                         224

"Arise, Sir Richard of Wartmont!"                            230




There came a sudden sound, breaking the shadowy silence of Longwood

Crash followed crash, at short intervals, with the snapping of dry twigs
and bush branches, and then came ringing, clear and sweet, three notes
of a hunting horn.

Out into an open glade, where the sunlight fell upon the long, green
grass of midsummer, there bounded a splendid stag--a stag royal, a stag
of ten--fit to be the antlered monarch of the king's deer in Longwood.

Three leaps, and then the beautiful animal stood still; but as he
turned, panting, and lowered his horns, it could be seen that he was
wounded. The feather of an arrow in his flank told how deeply the shaft
was driven.

He was at bay now, and splendid was his courage as he stood to battle
with his pursuers.

Again, and nearer, nearer, sounded the horn; for the hunters were

Out through the leafy barrier of the bushes at the edge of the glade
bounded three eager deerhounds, one after another. Large dogs they were,
brown-haired, lop-eared. Their baying had chimed in with the music of
the horn. Better for them it were if one of the huntsmen had been there
to hold them from their haste; for there is danger for any who rush
rashly in upon a stag at bay.

Loud voices and the thud of galloping hoofs told that the hunters were
close at hand; but they were too late in arriving. The foremost hound
dashed fiercely on, his white teeth showing, and his eyes flashing with
green light; but the ten-tined antlers passed under him and were lifted

Away the hound was hurled, pierced fatally, and then a sudden side
stroke disabled the second of the four-footed assailants. The third
paused, lifting a forefoot doubtfully as he glanced from one to the
other of his unlucky companions. A whizzing shaft passed over his head,
and a cloth-yard arrow sped to its mark, inside the shoulder of the
deer. The spreading antlers plowed the sod for a moment, and then all
was over. A tall, powerful-looking man, who came riding up, sprang from
his horse, and stood by the wounded dogs, exclaiming:

"These short-legged galloways have cost us two hounds! We had better
stalk a deer than run him, unless we have swifter steeds."

"Stalking must serve our turn, now the dogs are gone," growled a shorter
man who had come up and now stood beside him. "I would the legs of our
nags had been longer!"

They were rough-looking men, and they spoke in the burred Saxon-English
of Warwickshire five hundred years ago. It was another tongue from any
now spoken in England.

The galloways, of whose legs they had complained, were the undersized
and shaggy-maned horses they had ridden in that hunt. Such were
plentiful then, but none other could be had save by those who could pay
large prices.

"Fools are we," remarked another man. "And mayhap the horn blast has
gone to the wrong ears with token of our doings. That was thy blowing,
Guy the Bow."

"And what care we?" responded the tall hunter. "'Tis long since there
hath been a royal keeper in any wood of Arden Forest. Earl Warwick
himself never hunteth as far to the north as this. There's no harm in a
horn, and I like well the sound, and the baying o' the dogs. We'll not
again hear either very soon."

Others had now come up, but they said little. They lifted their game to
the back of one of the galloways. The arrows were carefully extracted,
cleaned, and restored to the quivers of their owners. The men were all
stalwart fellows, and the bows they carried were tremendous weapons.
When unstrung, such a bow would rest upon a man's foot and touch his
nose, and only a strong and practiced arm could bend one. Besides the
bows, they carried short, two-edged swords hanging at their belts, in
which were also stuck broad-bladed knives or daggers. They wore no armor
except light headpieces of steel, and their garments appeared to be made
of leather. The body coats were like leather blouses, soiled and worn.
They wore leggings of deerskin, but several were barefooted.

A brave-looking dozen were these hunters of Longwood. Their faces were
not evil, and their talk was that of kindly men fond of adventure and of
sport, but caring little whose deer they were taking.

The carcass of the stag had been bound to one of the horses, and the
hunters were mounting, when a loud shout came from under the nearest

"Ho, there! Halt! What do ye, killing the king's deer?"

"Stand for your lives, men!" exclaimed Guy the Bow. "I'll not be taken!"

"Nor I!" roared a burly hunter at his side; "but--it's young Neville of
Wartmont. I could not strike him."

Only five men came riding out from under the trees, but they were all
well mounted, and were better armed than were the hunters. Every man of
them wore linked mail, with shield and lance and sword, while at every
saddlebow hung a mace or battleaxe. Their helmets were open in front,
and the face of the foremost rider was that of a beardless boy. It was a
very resolute face, however, and he raised his hand as he again

"In the king's name, what do ye?"

"We be free men," said Guy sturdily. "Little reason hath thy father's
son to question our acts."

"Why not?" came back. "Yonder stag is a death-warrant for every man of

"Not so," exclaimed the burly hunter. "I am Ben o' Coventry, and we all
stand by Guy the Bow. Will thy mail shirt keep out a cloth-yard shaft,
Richard Neville of Wartmont?"

An arrow was on every bowstring at that moment; but Guy the Bow spoke

"Thou art a boy, Richard Neville," he said. "I will tell thee somewhat
thou shouldst know. Thou hast only the ruins of thy tower to dwell in;
but when Earl Mortimer claimed thy father's barony, and sent his men to
put his seneschal in holding, the yeomen of Wartmont and Longwood, and
more from further on in Arden, stood by the Neville. The Mortimer raided
our holdings, burning house and barn. He lost his head years on, and thy
uncle is Earl of Warwick; but the bowmen of these parts had become used
to taking Earl Mortimer's deer."

"They are the king's deer now," said Richard. "Ye know that well."

"They bear no mark," grumbled Ben, lowering his bow. "We'll call that
stag for Mortimer, this day, in spite of the Neville. Take us not. Go
back to your tower."

"My young lord," was spoken in a low voice from among the men in mail
behind him, "let them alone. They are thine own men. It's only a deer
more or less. There are foes enough. Hark to Ben once more."

"I heard thee, sir," said Ben gratefully. "He might do well to heed thy
saying; but let him now hear what Guy may tell him."

"My young Lord of Wartmont," said Gay, "I had verily thought to go and
see thee this day. Knowest thou not that Clod of Lee, the Club of Devon,
hath been heard from this side the Avon? He was one of Mortimer's men,
and he hateth thee and thine. He is a wolf's head, by all law. He and
his outlaws would find at Wartmont much that such as they would seek. Go
in haste and hold thy tower against them, if thou canst, and bother not
thyself with a free hunt and a nag-load of venison."

"Thou art no king's forester," added Ben of Coventry. "These are times
when a man may let well enough alone."

"He speaketh truly," whispered Richard's mailed adviser. "Ride we to the
castle as fast as we may. Thy mother----"

"Not a dozen swordsmen are at the Mount!" exclaimed Richard. "My mother
is unprotected! Guy the Bow, I thank thee for thy warning. What care I
for a few deer? Only, watch thou and thy men; for the earl sendeth soon
to put this part of the shire under close forest law. None may escape if
work like this go on then."

"Thou art right, my young lord," responded Guy; "but the yeomen of
Longwood have no fellowship with the wolves of Devon and Cornwall. It is
said, too, that there be savage Welsh among these outlaws that spare
neither woman nor child. Ride thou with speed, and God be with thee!
Well for thee that they are not bowmen, like thy neighbors."

"Haste, my lord!" cried another of Richard's men. "There are many women
and there are children at the tower."

"On! on!" shouted Richard; but his face was white, as he wheeled his
horse southward.

Very terrible was the name which had been won by some of the robber
bands of England. They had been more numerous during the reign of Edward
the Second. His son, Edward the Third, was only fourteen years of age
when he was crowned, and it was several years more before he really
became king. Ever since then he had striven with only moderate success
to restore order throughout his realm. Several notable bodies of savage
marauders were still to be heard from only too frequently, while in many
districts the yeomen paid as little attention to the forest laws as if
they had been Robin Hood's merry men of Sherwood. This was not the case
upon the lands of the great barons, but only where there was no armed
force at hand to protect the game. The poachers were all the safer
everywhere because of the strong popular feeling in their favor, and
because any informer who should give the life of a man for that of a
deer might thenceforth be careful how he ventured far into the woods. He
was a mark for an arrow from a bush, and not many cared to risk the
vengeance of the woodsmen.

On rode the young Neville and his four men-at-arms; but hardly had they
disappeared among the forest glades before Ben of Coventry turned upon
his galloway to ask:

"Guy the Bow, what thinkest thou? The Wartmont boy spoke not unkindly.
There be kith and kin of the forest men at the tower. What if the Club
of Lee should reach the moat and find the gate open? 'Tis a careless

"Hang up the stag and follow!" at once commanded Guy, captain of the
hunt. "We have taken three the day. There will be venison at every
hearth. If only for his father's sake----"

"We are not robbers, Guy the Bow," interrupted another of his followers.
"We are true men. 'Twill be a wolf hunt instead of a deer hunt. I like
it well."

They strung up the stag to a bough of a tree, and then wheeled with a
shout and galloped away as merrily as if they had started another hart

Three long miles away, easterly from the glade where the stag had
fallen, the forest ended; and beyond the scattered dignities of its
mighty oaks lay a wide reach of farm land. The fields were small, except
some that seemed set aside for pastures and meadows. There were
well-grown but not very well-kept hedges. There were a few farmhouses,
with barns and ricks. Nearly in the center rose a craggy hill, and at
the foot of this clustered a small hamlet. It was a sign of the troubles
that Edward the Third had striven to quell that all along the outer
border of the hamlet ran the tattered remnants of what once had been a
strong line of palisades and a deep ditch.

The hill was the Wart Mount, and on its crest were massive walls with a
high, square tower at one corner. Viewed from a distance, they seemed to
be a baronial stronghold. On a nearer approach, however, it could be
seen that the beauty and strength of Wartmont had been marred by fire,
and that much of it needed rebuilding. Some repairs had been made on the
tower itself. Its gateway, with moat and bridge, was in fair condition
for defense. More than one road led across the open country toward the
castle; but the highway was from the east, and travelers thereon were
hidden from sight by the hill.

There was a great stir in the village, for a man came riding at full
speed from one of the farmhouses, shouting loudly as he passed the old

"To the hill! To the castle! The wolves of Devon are nigh! They have
wasted Black Tom's place, and have slain every soul!"

The warning had already traveled fast and far, and from each of the
farmhouses loaded wains, droves of cattle, horses, sheep, were hurrying
toward the hill. Women, with their children, came first, weeping and

Far away, on the southerly horizon, arose a black cloud of smoke to tell
of the end of Black Tom's wheatstacks and haystacks.

"Aye! aye!" mourned an old woman. "It's gone wi' fire! Alas! And the
good king is in Flanders the day, and his people are harried as if they
had no king."

"It's like the old time," said another, "when all the land was wasted. I
mind the telling o' what the Scots did for the north counties till the
king drave them across the border."

Well kept were the legends that were told from one generation to another
in the days when there were no books or newspapers; and they were now
rehearsed rapidly, while the affrighted farm people fled from their
threatened homes, as their ancestors had many a time been compelled to
do. Still they all seemed to have great faith in the castle, and to
believe that when once there they would be safe.

The rider who brought the news did not pause in the village, but rode
on, and dismounted at the bridge over the moat. Not stopping to hitch
his panting horse, he strode into the open portal, sending his loud
message of evil omen through the corridor beyond. Voice after voice took
up the cry and carried it up through the tower and out into the castle
yard, till it seemed to find weird echoes among the half-ruined walls.
At no place were these altogether broken down. There was no breach in
them. Large parts of the old structures were still roofed over, and
along the battlements there quickly appeared the forms of old and
young, peering out eagerly to see whatever there might be to see upon
the lowland.

There were very few men, apparently; but in the lower rooms of the tower
there were quickly clanking sounds, as shields and weapons and armor
were taken down from their places.

A large open area was included within the outer walls, and there was
room for quadrupeds as well as for human beings. Still there was a
promise of close crowding, if all the fugitives on the roads were to be
provided for.

Gathered now in the village street was a motley crowd of men. They were
by no means badly armed, but they seemed to have no commander, and their
hurried councils were of all sorts. Most seemed to favor a general
retreat to the castle, but against this course was urged the fact that
the marauders had not yet arrived, nor had all the people from the

"Men!" exclaimed a portly woman with a scythe in her strong hands,
"could ye not meet them at the palisades? Bar the gap with a wain. There
are bows and crossbows among ye. Fight them there!"

"We could never hold them back," came doubtfully from one of the men.
"They'd find gaps enough. It's only a stone wall can stop them."

"They'll plunder the village," the woman said.

"Better that than the blood of us all," responded the man. "We are few.
Would the young lord were here with his men-at-arms!"

"He rode to the north the morn," she was told. "Only four were with him.
The rest are far away with the earl. A summons came, telling that the
Scots were over the border."

"Could not the north counties care for themselves, without calling on
the midlands?" grumbled the woman.

At that moment there came a terrified shriek from the road-gap in the
palisades. The last of several wains was passing in, and all the street
was thronged with cattle.

"They come! They come!" screamed the women by that wain. "Oh, that they
gat so nigh, and none to see! It's over with us the day! Yon is the
Club, and his men are many!"

Partly mounted, but some of them on foot, a wild-looking throng of men
came pouring across a stubble-field from the southward. It seemed as if
they might be over a hundred strong. No marching order was observed.
There was no uniformity in their arms. At the head of them strode a
huge, black-haired, shaggy-bearded brute who bore a tremendous club of
oak, bound at its heavier end with a thick ring of iron. He laughed and
shouted as he came, as if with a savage pleasure over the wild deeds he
had done and the prospect before him.

"Short work!" he roared to those behind him. "Burn all ye can not take.
And then for the hills o' Wales! But we'll harry as we go!"

Other things he said that sounded as if he had an especial grudge
against the king and against all who, like the Nevilles, had been his
strong personal adherents.

The castle gateway was thronged, so that getting in was slow, but the
yard was already filling fast. So were the rooms of the tower, and such
as remained of the ruined buildings. Everywhere were distress and
terror, except upon one face just inside the portal.

Tall and stately was Maud Neville, the widowed lady of Wartmont Castle.
Her hair was white, but she was as erect as a pine, and all who looked
into her resolute face might well have taken courage. Some seemed to do
so, and around her gathered a score of stalwart retainers, with shields,
axes, and swords. Some who had bows were bidden to man the loopholes on
the second floor, and bide their time. Here, at least, if not in the
village, there was a captain, and she was obeyed.

"Men," she said, "you know well what wolves these are. If they force
their way into the keep, not one of us will be left to tell the tale."

A chorus of loyal voices answered her, and the men gripped their

So was it on that side of the hill; but on the other, toward the east,
the highway presented another picture. Whether they were friends or
foemen, there was none to tell; but they were a warlike band of
horsemen. They were not mounted upon low-built galloways, but upon
steeds of size and strength. The horsemen themselves wore mail and
carried lances, and several of them had vizored helmets. They were ten
in number, riding two abreast, and one of the foremost pair carried a
kind of standard--a flag upon a long, slender staff. It was a broad,
square piece of blue silk bunting, embroidered with heraldic devices
that required a skilled reader to interpret them.

Strangely enough, according to the ideas and customs of the times, the
rabble that followed Clod the Club had also a banner. It was a somewhat
tattered affair; but it must once have been handsome. Its field was
broad and white, and any eyes could see that its dimmed, worn blazon had
been intended for three dragons. Perhaps the robber chief had reasons of
his own for marching with a flag which must have been found in Wales. It
may have aided him in keeping at his command some men who retained the
old fierce hatred of the Welsh for the kings of England.

He and his savages had now reached the palisades. The village men
retreated slowly up the street, while the remainder of those who could
not fight passed across the drawbridge and entered the castle gate.
More than one sturdy woman, however, had picked up a pike or an axe or a
fork, and stood among her kindred and her neighbors.

Not all the cattle nor all the wains could be cared for; and a shout
from the portal summoned the villagers to make more haste, that the gate
might be closed behind them. Part of them had been too brave and part
too irresolute, and there was no soldiership in their manner of obeying.
They were, indeed, almost afraid to turn their backs, for arrows were
flying now.

Well it was for them that there seemed to be so few good archers among
the outlaws; for down went man after man, in spite of shields or of such
armor as they had. Better shooting was done by the men of Wartmont
themselves, and the archers in the tower were also plying their bows. It
was this that made the Club of Devon shout to his wolves to charge, for
the shafts were doing deadly work.

With loud yells, on they rushed; and further retreat was impossible. The
foremost fighters on each side closed in a desperate strife, and the
Wartmont farmers showed both skill and strength. Half of them carried
battle-axes or poleaxes, and they plied them for their lives. Had it not
been for Clod himself, the rush might even have been checked; but
nothing could stand before him. He fought like a wild beast, striking
down foemen right and left, and making a pathway for his followers.

Victory for the outlaws would have been shortly gained but for the help
that came to the villagers.

"Onward, my men!" shouted Lady Maud, as she sprang across the narrow
bridge. "Follow me! Save your kith and kin!"

"We will die with you!" cried out her retainers as they pushed forward,
while the archers in the tower hurried down to join them.

Still they were too few; and the white head of the brave woman was
quickly the center of a surging mass, her entire force being almost
surrounded by the horde of robbers.

No shout came up the road. There was no sound but the rapid thud of
horses' feet; but suddenly five good lances charged furiously in among
the wolves. The foremost horseman went clean through them, but his horse
sank, groaning, as a Welsh pike stabbed him, and his rider barely gained
his feet as the horse went down. Sword in hand, then, he turned to face
his foes, but he spoke not to them.

"Mother!" he shouted, "I am here!"

"Thank God for thee, my son!" responded the brave woman. "Thou art but
just in time!"

Dire had been her peril, at that moment, but Richard's presence gave
courage to the defenders, while his charge had staggered the outlaws.
He was more than a match, with three of his dismounted men-at-arms at
his side, for the foes immediately in front of them. His fourth follower
lay several yards away, with his steel cap beaten in by a blow of the
terrible club.

"Hah! hah! hah!" yelled Clod as he turned from that victim to press his
way toward young Neville. "Down with him! Out of my path! Give the
youngster to me!"

"Face him, my son!" said Lady Maud, "and Heaven's aid be with thee! Oh,
for some o' the good king's men!"

"I have thee!" roared Clod, swinging high his club and preparing for a
deadly blow.

Firm as a rock stood the young warrior, raising his shield to parry.

Down came the club, but forward flashed the sword with an under-thrust.

"O my son!" burst from the lips of the Lady of Wartmont. "My son hath
fallen! Stand firm, men!"

Fallen, indeed, but so had Clod the Club, pierced through by the
sword-thrust; and a fierce yell burst from his followers as they sprang
forward to avenge him. They had been faring badly, but they were many
and they were desperate. They might even yet have broken through the men
of the tower who had stepped in front of Richard while his mother knelt
to lift him, but for another turn in the strange fortunes of the day.

There was no warning, and all were too intent on the fray to note the
arrival of newcomers; but now there came a sudden dropping of the outer
men of the throng of robbers. Shaft after shaft, unerring, strongly
driven, pierced them from back to breast.

"Shoot close!" shouted a voice. "Miss not. Steady, men! O Richard
Neville of Wartmont, we are the killers of the king's deer!"

"Aye!" added Ben of Coventry. "We are with Guy the Bow, and 'tis a

They were not many, but their archery was terrible. Fast twanged the
bows, and fast the outlaws fell.

"Closer, men! Spare not any!" commanded Guy the Bow, and the line of
galloways wheeled nearer.

It was too much. The remaining robbers would have fled if they could,
but they were between two fires.

"O Richard!" murmured Lady Maud. "Thou art not dead?"

His fine dark eyes opened, just then, and a smile came faintly upon his
lips as he replied:

"Only stunned, mother. The caitiff's club banged my shield down upon my
head, but my steel cap bore it well, else my neck were broken. Did he
go down?"

"He lieth among the ruck," she said. "But oh, thank God! The archers of
Longwood have come! The fight is won!"

It was won, indeed; for neither the archers nor the Wartmont men were
showing any mercy to the staggering, bewildered remnants of the outlaw
band which had been such a terror to the Welsh border, and was to other
counties almost as far inland as was Warwick itself. Never more would
any peaceful hamlet or lonely tower be left in ruins to tell of the
ruthless barbarity of the wolves of Devon.

Why they were so called, none knew; but it might be because that fair
county had at one time suffered most from their marauding, or because
fierce Clod the Club and some of his wild followers came from Lee on the
Devon shore.

"Bloody work, my young Lord of Wartmont! Bloody work, my lady!"

"Thank God for thee, Guy the Bow!" she responded. "Alas, my neighbors!
But who cometh there? My son, yonder is the flag of Cornwall, and none
may carry it but the prince himself. All ye stand fast, but those who
care for the hurt ones."

These, indeed, were many, for the women and children were pouring down
from the castle. With weeping and with wailing they were searching for
their own among the dead and the wounded. But even the mourners stood
almost still for a moment, as a knightly cavalcade came thundering up
the street.

The foremost horseman drew rein in front of Lady Maud and her son, and
the taller of them demanded:

"O Lady Neville of Wartmont, what is this? The prince rideth toward
Warwick. I am Walter de Maunay."

"His highness is most welcome," she said, with calm dignity. "So art
thou, Sir Walter. Around thee are the dead wolves of Devon. Some of our
own people have fallen. Would thou wert here an hour the sooner. God
save the king!"

Rapid were the questions and the answers, but the Black Prince himself,
as he was called, left all the talking to Sir Walter, while he
dismounted to study the meaning of the fray.

He had singularly keen, dark eyes, and they flashed swiftly hither and
thither, as if they were seeking to know exactly how this small battle
had been fought and won.

"And this is the famous Clod the Club?" he said. "By whose hand was this

"'Twas young Lord Richard," answered Guy the Bow. "Both went down, but
the Neville was little hurt. 'Twas bravely done!"

"Richard Neville," exclaimed the prince, "thou hast won honor in this!
I would that I had slain him. Thou art a good sword. The king hath need
of thee."

"He shall go with me," added Sir Walter admiringly, as he gazed down
upon the massive form of the slain robber. "Madame, give the king thy

"Yea, and amen," she said. "He is the king's man. I would have him go.
And I will bide at Warwick Castle until he cometh again. Speak thou,

"I am the king's man," replied Richard, his face flushing. "O my mother,
bid me go with the prince. I would be a knight, as was my father, and
win my spurs before the king; but I fain would ask one favor of his

"Ask on," said the prince. "'Twere hard to refuse thee after this
gallant deed of arms."

"This work is less mine," said Richard, "than of Guy the Bow and my good
forestmen. But I trow that some of them have found unlawful marks for
other of their arrows. I ask for them the grace and pardon of the king."

"They have sinned against the king's deer," loudly laughed Sir Walter de
Maunay. "There needeth no promise. Thou hast not heard of his royal
proclamation. Free pardon hath he proclaimed to all such men as thine,
if they will march with him against the King of France. 'Tis fair pay
to every man, and the fortune of war beyond sea."

No voice responded for a moment as the archers studied one another's

"Richard," said his mother, "speak thou to them. They wait for thee."

"O Guy the Bow," said Richard, "wilt thou come with me--thou and thy

There was speech from man to man behind Guy; but it was Ben of Coventry
who said:

"Tell thy prince, Guy the Bow, that two score and more of bows like
thine will follow Richard Neville to fight for our good king."

To address the prince directly was more than Guy could do; but he spoke
out right sturdily:

"My master of Wartmont, thou hearest the speech of Ben. 'Tis mine also.
We take the pardon, and we will take the pay; and we will go as one
band, with thee for our captain."

"Aye," said another archer, "with the young Neville and Guy the Bow."

"Ye shall be the Neville's own company," responded the prince. "I like
it well. So will they do best service."

"Aye, 'tis the king's way also," added Sir Walter de Maunay; and then
the Lady of Wartmont led the way into the castle.

Richard went not forthwith, but conferred with his archers. He had care
also for the injured and the dead, and to learn the harm done in the
village and among the farms.

In a few minutes more, however, the banner of the prince was floating
gayly from a corner of the tower, to tell to all who saw that the heir
of the throne of England was under the Wartmont roof.



Lacking in many things, but not in stately hospitality or in honest
loyalty, was the welcome given that night at Wartmont Castle to the heir
of the English throne and to his company.

Truth to tell, the fortunes of this branch of the great house of Neville
were not at their best. The brave Sir Edward Neville had fallen in
Flanders fighting for the king. His widow and her only son had found
themselves possessed of much land, but of little else. Too many acres of
the domain were either forest or hill, that paid neither tithe nor
rental. Not even Lady Maud's near kinship to the Earl of Warwick was as
yet of any avail, for these were troublous times. Many a baron of high
name was finding it more and more difficult to comply with the exactions
of Edward the Third, and the king himself could hardly name a day when
his very crown and jewels had not been in pawn with the money lenders.

The less of discomfort, therefore, was felt by Lady Maud; but she was
grateful that the prince and the famous captain, Sir Walter, so frankly
laughed away her apologies at their parting the next morn.

"I am but an esquire," said the prince. "My royal father biddeth me to
wear plain armor and seek hard fare until I win my spurs. Thou hast
given me better service than he alloweth me."

"Most noble lady," added Sir Walter, "I am proud to have been the guest
of the widow of my old companion in arms----"

"Be thou, then, a friend to his son," she broke in earnestly.

"That will I," responded De Maunay, "but we may not serve together
speedily. I go to confer with the Earl of Warwick. Then I am bidden to
join Derby's forces in Guienne and Gascony. Hard goeth the war there. As
for thy son, he, too, should come to Warwick with his first levies. The
king hath ordered the power of the realm to gather at Portsmouth by the
ninth day of next October."

"I must be there, mother," said Richard.

"Bring thy archers with thee, if thou canst," replied Sir Walter. "It is
the king's thought that his next great field is to be won with the
arrow, rather than the sword or the lance. But he will have only good
bows, and them he will train under his own eye. It is time, now, for our

The young prince, like the knight, gave the respectful ceremony of
departure to the Lady of Wartmont, but much of youthful frankness
mingled with his words and manner to Richard.

"I envy thee, indeed," he said to him, "thy close with the Club of
Devon. I have never yet had such a fortune befall me. I have seen fights
by sea and land, but ever some other hand than mine struck the best

"Thou wilt strike blows enough before thou art done, thou lion's cub of
England," said Sir Walter admiringly, for he loved the boy. That was
good reason, too, why he was with him on this journey with so small a

"Few, are they?" had Richard responded to a word from his mother
concerning peril to the prince. "I have marked them, man by man. I think
they have been picked from the best of the king's men-at-arms. A hundred
thieves would go down before them like brambles before a scythe. And the
prince told me he thought it scorn to need other guards than his own

"And his own sword," she said, "and the lances of De Maunay and his men.
But the roads are not safe."

"Thou wilt be securely conveyed to Warwick, O my mother," he said
lovingly. "I will not leave thee until thou art within the earl's own

This had been spoken early in the day after the conflict with the
outlaws, and now the horsemen were in their saddles, beyond the bridge
of the moat, waiting for the prince and the knight.

Their waiting ended, and it was fair to see how lightly the great
captain and his young friend, in spite of their heavy armor, did spring
to horseback.

Gracious and low was their last salute to the bare, white head of Lady
Maud at the portal, and then away they rode right merrily.

"O my son!" exclaimed she, turning to Richard at her side, "I can wish
no better fortune for thee than to be the companion of thy prince. I
tell thee, thou hast won much by this thy defense of thy mother and thy

"Aye," said Richard, laughing, "but thou wast the captain. I found thee
leading thy array, and I did but help at my best. I would Sir Walter
were to be with us, and not with the Earl of Derby."

"There be men-at-arms as good as he," she said. "Thou wilt have brave
leaders to learn war under. And, above all, thou wilt be with thy king.
Men say there hath not been one like him to lead men since William the
Norman conquered this fair land. Thou, too, art a Neville and a Norman,
but forget thou not one thing."

"And what may that be, my mother?" asked Richard, wondering somewhat.

"Knowest thou not thy hold upon the people, nor why the bowmen of Arden
forest come to thee rather than to another? Neville and Beauchamp, thou
art a Saxon more than a Norman. Thy father could talk to the men of the
woods in their old tongue. It dieth away slowly, but they keep many
things in mind from father to son. Every man of them is a Saxon of
unmixed blood, and to that degree that thou art Saxon thou art their
kinsman. So hated they Earl Mortimer and would have none of him, and so
he harried them, as thou hast heard. They will stand by thee as their

"So will I bide by them!" exclaimed Richard stoutly. "And now there is
one yonder that I must have speech with. I pray thee, go in, my mother."

"That will I not," she said. "It behooveth me to pass through the
hamlet, house by house, till I know how they fare the day. There are
hurts among both men and women, and I am a leech. Are they not my own?"

"And well they love thee," said her son, and they walked on down the
slope side by side.

That they did so love her was well made manifest when men, women, and
children crowded around her. Every voice had its tale of things done, or
seen, or heard, and there was wailing also, for the few who had escaped
from near Black Tom's place were here, and others from farther on. Dark
and dire had been the deeds of the robber crew from the Welsh border to
the heart of Warwickshire, and great was the praise that would
everywhere be given to the young lord of Wartmont manor and his brave
men. The Club of Devon and his outlaws would be heard of or feared no
more. 'Twas a deed to be remembered and told of, in after time, among
the fireside talks of the midland counties.

The madame now had household visits to make not a few, and Richard
listened long to the talk of the farmers and the village men. He seemed
to have grown older in a day, but his mother said, in her heart:

"I can see that the folk are gladdened to find that he is so like to the
brave knight, his father. God keep him, among the spears and the
battle-axes of the French men-at-arms! I fear he is over young to ride
with such as serve with the prince."

She could not think to hold him back, but he was her only son, and she
was a widow.

Patiently, all the while, a little apart from the rest, had waited the
burly shape of Guy the Bow, and with him was no other forester, but
beside him stood his shaggy-maned galloway.

"Thou art come?" said Richard. "Brave thanks to thee and thine. What
errand hast thou, if so be thou hast any for me?"

"I bided out of seeing till the prince and Lord de Maunay rode on,"
replied Guy. "Even now I would no other ears than thine were too near

"This way, then," said Richard, turning to walk toward the moat. "I
have somewhat to say to thee as we go."

None joined them, and as they walked the archer was informed concerning
the mandates of the king and the mustering by land and sea at

"I have been there," said Guy, "in my youth. 'Tis not so far to go. 'Tis
well in behind the Isle of Wight. I have been told by seafaring men that
the French have never taken it, though they tried. A safe haven. But
there are others as safe on the land. Part of my coming to thee is to
ask that thou wilt venture to look in on one."

"I may not venture foolishly or without a cause," said Richard. "Thee I
may trust, but all are not as thou art."

"All thou wilt see are keepers of good faith when they give troth,"
laughed Guy pleasantly, "or else more in Wartmont would know what to
this day they know not. My Lord of Wartmont, plain speech is best. The
men who are to go with thee are under the king's ban, as thou knowest.
They will not put themselves within the reach of the sheriff of
Warwickshire till they are sure of safety. They will hear the king's
proclamation from thine own lips, for thou hast it from the prince
himself. A man's neck is a thing he is prone to guard right well."

"Go and have speech with them? That will I!" exclaimed Richard
promptly. "Nor is there time to lose. I will bid them bring my

"Not as thou now art," responded Guy. "Don thou thy mail. Be thou well
armed. But men of thine from the castle may not ride with us. I have
that to show thee which they may not see. Wilt thou trust me?"

"That will I," said Richard.

"And thine own sword is a good one," added the archer, with soldierly
admiration in his face. "I have seen thy father in tourney. Thou wilt
have good stature and strong thews, as had he in his day. They say 'twas
a great battle when he fell among the press, and that many good spears
went down."

"Aye. Go!" said Richard thoughtfully. "I will explain this thing to my
mother. She needeth but to know that I go to meet a muster of the men."

"Nay," said Guy. "Fear thou not to tell my lady all. In her girlhood she
was kept, a day and a night, where none could do her harm, for the Welsh
were over the border, under Lewellyn the Cruel, and the castle of her
father was not safe. She was not a Neville then, and the Beauchamps fled
for their lives."

"What was the quarrel?" asked Richard.

"Little know I," replied the archer. "What have plain woodsmen to do
with the feuds of the great? Some trouble, mayhap, between King Edward
the Second and his earls. We aye heard of fights and ravages in those
days, but there came none to harry us in Arden."

So they talked but little more, and Richard passed on into the castle
followed by Guy the Bow.

Their first errand was to the hall of arms in the lower story, and the
eyes of the forester glittered with delight as they entered.

"Thou couldst arm a troop!" he exclaimed. "What goodly weapons are

"Wartmont hath held a garrison more than once," said Richard. "Pray God
that our good king may keep the land in peace. But it needeth that his
hand be strong."

"Strong is it," said Guy, "and the young prince biddeth fair. I like him
well. But, my Lord of Wartmont, the noon draweth nigher and we have far
to ride."

"Aye," said Richard; but he was taking down from the wall piece after
piece and weapon after weapon, eying them as if he loved them well but
was in doubt.

"No plate armor, my lord," said Guy. "It were too heavy if thou went on
foot. Let it be good chain mail; but take thee a visored headpiece. With
thy visor down strange eyes would not know thee too well. Leg mail, not
greaves, and a good, light target rather than a horseman's shield. This
is a rare good lance."

"That will I take," said Richard, as he tested a sword blade by
springing it on the stone pavement of the hall. "I will hang a mace at
my pommel."

"Thou art a bowman," said Guy. "Thy bow and quiver also can hang at thy
saddle. Nay, not that heavy bit of yew. Thy arms are too young to bend
it well. Choose thee a lighter bow."

"I will string it, then, and show thee," replied Richard, a little
haughtily. "Yon is a target at the head of the hall. Wait, now."

The bow was strung with an ease and celerity which seemed to surprise
the brawny forester. He took it and tried its toughness and handed it
back, for Richard had taken an arrow from a sheaf beneath a window.

"Good arm, thine!" shouted Guy, for the shaft was drawn to the head and
landed in the very center of the bull's eye of the wooden tablet at the
hall end. "Thou art a Saxon in thy elbows. Canst thou swing an axe like

He held out a double-headed battle-axe that seemed not large. It was not
too long in the handle, but its blades were thick as well as sharp
edged. It was no weapon for one at all weak-handed.

Clogs of wood lay near, with many cuts already upon them, as if there
had been chopping done. Richard took the axe and went toward a clog of
hard oak.

Click, click, click, in swift succession, rang his blows, and the chips
flew merrily.

"Done!" shouted Guy. "Take that, then, instead of thy foolish mace. It
will but bruise, while thine axe will cleave through mail or buff coat.
Ofttimes a cut is better than a bruise, if it be well given. I would I
had a good axe."

"Take what thou wilt," said Richard. "Put thee on a better headpiece,
and change thy sword. If thou seest spears to thy liking, they are
thine; or daggers, or aught else. We owe thee good arming."

"Speak I also for Ben o' Coventry," responded Guy. "He needeth a
headpiece, for his own is but cracked across the crown, and his sword is
not of the best."

"Choose as thou wilt for Ben," said Richard, "or for any other as good
as he. Needeth he mail?"

"His buff coat is more to his liking," said Guy, "and men say that the
king will not have his bowmen overweighted for fast walking. The weary
man draweth never a good bow, nor sendeth his arrow home."

"Right is the king," replied Richard. "I am but a youth, but I can see
that a foe might get away from heavy armor."

Guy was busy among the weapons and he made no answer. At that moment,
however, there was a footfall behind him, and he sprang to his feet to
make a low obeisance.

"Mother!" exclaimed Richard, "I was coming to tell thee."

But not to him was her speech, nor in Norman French, nor in the English
dialect of the Warwickshire farmers. She questioned Guy in old Saxon,
such as was not often heard since the edicts of the Norman kings had
discouraged its use. Richard could speak it well, however, and he knew
that Guy was explaining somewhat the errand before him.

"It is well," she said. "I will trust him with thee. The castle is safe.
But hold him not too long, for I make myself ready to pass on to
Warwick, to abide with the earl for a season."

"Right soon will he return," said Guy the Bow, "and good bows with him.
The king shall be pleased with the company from Arden and Wartmont."

Small wonder was it, after all, that while all Welshmen retained their
ancient tongue, and many Cornishmen, and the Manxmen all, and the Gaels
of Scotland and the wild Erse of Ireland, so also many thousands--no one
knew how many--in the rural districts of England, still preserved but
little changed the language with which their fathers had answered to
Harold, the last of the Saxon kings. Hundreds of years later the traces
of it lingered in Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, and
elsewhere, in a manner to confuse the ears of modernized men from the
towns and from the coasts, as well as all outland men who might believe
that they understood English.

Well did Guy obey the commands of both Richard and his mother; for when,
after a hearty breaking of his fast, he stood by the side of his
galloway, that good beast had cause to whinny as he did, as if to
inquire of his master what need there might be that he should so be
packed with weapons and with steel caps for the heads of men. The
gallant animal that was to carry Richard, on the other hand, was fitted
out and laden as if at any moment his rider might be changed from a
lance-bearing man-at-arms to a bowman on foot. Other baggage there was
none, and Lady Maud, from her crenelated peephole in the Wartmont keep,
saw her son and his companion ride slowly away through the village.

"Heaven guard him!" she murmured. "But he can not gain too well the
hearts of the old race. They be hard-headed men and slow to choose a
leader, but they are strong in a fray. I would the tallest of the forest
deerslayers should go shoulder to shoulder with my son into the king's

So she gazed until the pair of horsemen disappeared along the road;
then she descended a flight of stairs and walked to the end of a
corridor. Here was a door that opened into a high vaulted chamber, at
the far end of which were candles burning before an altar and a
crucifix. This was the chapel of the castle, and Lady Maud's feet bore
her on, more and more slowly, until she sank upon her knees at the altar
rail and sobbed aloud.

Well away now, up the valley, northward, rode Richard Neville and Guy
the Bow, but they were no longer in any road marked by wheels of wains.
They had left the highway for a narrow bridle path that was leading them
into the forest.

"My Lord of Wartmont," said the archer, "I pray thee mark well the way
as thou goest. Chance might be that thou shouldst one day travel it
alone. Put thou thine axe to the bark of a tree, now and then, and let
it be a mark of thine own, not like that of another. I think no man of
knightly race now liveth who could guide thee, going or coming."

In an instant Richard's battle-axe was in his hand, and a great oak had
received a mark of a double cross.

"There hangeth a shield in the gallery of the armory," he said, "that is
blazoned in this wise. It is said that a good knight brought it home
from Spain, in the old wars. Well is it dinted, too, in proof that it
fended the blows of strong fighters. It is thrust through and it is

"Mayhap in frays with the heathen," said Guy. "A sailor, once, at
Portsmouth, one of our own kin, told me rare tales of the Moors that he
had seen in the Spanish seas. He told me of men that were black as a
sloe; but it is hard to believe, for what should blacken any man? He had
seen a whale, too, and a shark three fathoms long. There be wonders
beyond seas."

"And beyond them all is the end of the world," said Richard, "but the
ships do not venture that far to their ruin."

So more and more companionlike and brotherly grew the young lord and the
forester, as they rode on together, and it seemed to please Guy well
both to loosen his own tongue and to ask many questions concerning
matters of which little telling had ever yet come in among the forests
of Arden.

The day waned and the path wound much, and there was increasing gloom
among the trees and thickets, when Guy turned suddenly to Richard.

"Put down thy visor," he said sharply, "and draw thy sword. We are
beset! Sling thy lance behind thee, and get thee down upon thy feet.
This is no place to sit upon a horse and be made a mark of."

The actions of both were suited to the word on the instant, but hardly
was Richard's helmet closed before an arrow struck him on the crest.
But that he had been forewarned, it had smitten him through the face.

"Outlaws!" said Guy. "Robbers--not our own men. How they came here I
know not. Down, quickly!"

Even as he spoke, however, his bow twanged loudly, and a cry went up
from a dense copse beyond them.

"One!" he shouted, and he and Richard sprang lightly to the earth.

"Well my sword was out!" said the latter as he gained his feet, for
bounding toward him were half a dozen wild shapes carrying blade and

"Down with them!" roared the foremost of the assailants; but Guy the Bow
was in front of him, and in his hand was a poleaxe from Wartmont armory.

It was a fearful weapon in the hands of such a man as he, to whom its
weight was as a splinter. It flashed and fell, and the lifted buckler
before it might as well have been an eggshell for all the protection it
gave to the bare head of the robber. He should have worn a helmet, but
he would never more need cap of any kind. Useless, too, was the light
blade that glinted next upon the shield of Richard, for it made no mark,
while its giver went down with a thigh wound, struck below his buckler.

On swept the terrible blows of the poleaxe, and Guy had no man to meet
but was nearly a head shorter than himself.

"They are all down!" he shouted. "Mount, my Lord of Wartmont; they in
the copse have fled, but there may be more at hand. We will ride hard
now. These are thieves from Lancashire, and they have not been heard of
in these parts for many a day. I think they have been harried out of
their own nests. They are but wolves."

"What kin are they?" asked Richard, as he regained his saddle.

"That I know not, nor do I know their speech," replied Guy. "But among
them are no tall men nor many good bows. Ben o' Coventry hath been told
by a monk from those parts that they are a kind of old Welsh that were
left when the first King Edward smote their tribe to death. They will
live in no town, nor will they obey any law, nor keep troth with any.
But the monk told Ben that they were not heathen, and among them were
men who could talk Latin like a priest. How that could be I know not."

"Nor I," said Richard; "but I tell thee, Guy the Bow, I like this war of
the king's with France. We shall cross the sea, and we shall look upon
strange lands and towns. I would not bide aye at Wartmont. I would see
the world."

"That would not I," laughed Guy, "but if the king winneth battles and
taketh towns there will be spoils to bring home. I will come back to own
land and cattle, and thou canst build again thy castle walls and
maintain thy state. I saw a piece of gold once."

"There is little enough of gold in England," said Richard; but the path
was narrowing and they could no longer gallop abreast.

Not far had they pushed on, however, before Guy drew his rein and turned
upon his galloway to say, in a hushed voice:

"My Lord of Wartmont, I dare not sound a horn. I pray thee dismount and
come after me through the hazels. I know not of peril, but we need to go

"Aye," returned Richard, as he dropped from the saddle nimbly enough
considering his arms. "I am with thee."

Path there seemed to be none in that dim light, but ere long, as he
followed his guide, the hazel bushes on either side opened widely and
before him spread a grassy level. Only that the grass was too luxuriant
and that here and there were rushes, it might have seemed a pleasant

"'Tis the southerly arm," said Guy, "of the great moss of Arden. There
is little more of it till you get leagues north of this. Oh, but it's
deep and fateful. He who steppeth into it cometh not up."

"What do we, then?" asked Richard.

"That which few may dare," replied Guy with one of his brave laughs.
"But a piece onward and I will show thee. Here might be barred an army."

"That might they," said Richard, staring across the treacherous green
level, below which, Guy told him, there was no bottom.

Beyond were shadowy lines that told of forest growths, and these were
nearer as they led their horses onward.

"A bridge!" exclaimed Richard, as he caught a glimpse of a mass of logs
and planks. "Is there crossing?"

"None but what the men of the woods can take away before dawn," said
Guy. "It is a bridge that some have crossed who came not back again. I
pray thee, speak not save in old Saxon. 'Tis the only tongue that may be
heard inside o' the moss of Arden."

Richard spoke not aloud, but he was saying much in his thoughts.

"This, then, is the reason why the sheriff of Warwickshire had missed
finding many that were traced to the forest. The takers of the king's
deer know where to hide their venison. But even on this bridge a few
axemen could hold back a troop. Yonder bushes could hide archery. He
would be a bold captain, or crack-brained, who would lead men upon this
narrow way."

The woodwork trembled somewhat with the weight of the two horses and
the men, but it bore them well enough.

"Hail, thou!" came hoarsely from among the shadows as they reached the
farther bank. "Come well. Thou hast him with thee."

"Greet them in Saxon," whispered Guy, and he also responded loudly:

"Hail, men, all! Is Ben o' Coventry with ye? This is Richard of
Wartmont, with the king's word in his mouth. I gave him safe conduct,
and his mother sendeth ye good greeting."

Something like a cheer arose from several voices, but the speakers were
unseen until Guy and Richard had passed on many paces into the forest.
Even then only dark and silent forms walked with them, and there were
gleams of bright spearheads before them and behind.

"Every man hath his bow and his buckler," thought Richard, "and most of
them are sturdy fellows. The king hath need of such. It is said that the
outland men are smaller in the bones."

It was the prevailing opinion among the English of that day that one of
their own was equivalent to four Frenchmen, and they counted as French
nearly all of the dwellers beyond the Channel, except the Hollanders and
the Danes, or Norsemen. The Norway folk were also, by the greater part,
counted as Danes, and were believed to be hard fighters. So, among the
country folk, still lingered the traditions of the ancient days, when
Knut and his vikings had swept the coast and conquered the island.

It was a walk of a league, and there was some talking by the way, but
the men all seemed in haste and they strode rapidly.

Then they were greeted by loud shouting, and Richard saw a red light
grow beyond the trees.

"Here is cleared land," was his next thought, "and yonder is a balefire.
Ho! In the king's name, what is this? Are there strongholds hidden among
the woods?"

Before him, as he went forward, was an open area which may have
contained hundreds of acres. He could see broad reaches of it by the
glaring light of a huge heap of burning wood, a few score yards from the
edge of the forest. Beyond the fire, as much farther, he could discern
the outlines of a large building, and, even more distinctly, a long line
of palisades in front of it.

"My lord," said Guy, "yonder is the hidden ward in Arden. If any that
are great of thy kinsmen ever heard of it, they told thee not. There was
thy mother fended, and there thy father lay long days, when Earl
Mortimer's men were seeking his head. Thou art welcome, only let thy
lips be as our own concerning our hold. It will be kept well should
strangers come."

Richard glanced at the rugged forms around him, and at many more that
were walking hither and thither in the firelight. All were armed, and he
could well believe that they would make Guy's word good for him. They
crowded around as he drew near, and there was an increasing heartiness
in their manner and words as he continually replied to them in the
forgotten tongue. He knew not of gypsies, or the thought might have come
to him that these half-outlaws, every man a deerslayer, under the ban of
the stern forest laws, had need, as had the Romany or "Bohemians" as
they were called, to possess a speech of their own. It was a protection,
inasmuch as it aided them in detecting intruders and in secretly
communicating with each other.

There seemed to be no chief man, no captain, but all stood on a kind of
rude equality, save that much deference was paid to Guy the Bow.

"Right on to the house, if it please thee, my lord," he said. "It is
late, and there is roast venison waiting. Thou mayest well be hungered.
Is all ready, Ben o' Coventry?"

"All that's to be eaten," responded Ben, "but the talking with the men
must be done on the morrow. They from the upper woods are not in. It
was well to slay the Lancashire thieves. Some have gone out after what
thou and he did leave. They may not tell tales of aught they have seen
in Arden."

A few words more of explanation informed Richard that he was there
sooner than had been expected, and he was quite willing to let his wild
entertainers have their own way.

"I would see all," he said, "and talk to all at once."

"There might be jealousies," whispered Guy. "Thou doest wisely. Here is
the gate."

A vast oaken portal heavily strengthened with iron swung open in the
line of the bristling palisades while he was speaking. There was a moat,
of course, with a bridge of planks to the gate, over which Richard and
those who were with him went in. The inclosure beyond was large, and in
it was blazing more than one log heap, the better to light up the

Some would have called it a grange, if there had not been so much of it,
for there were more houses than one, all grouped, attached or built on
to a central structure. There was no masonry, but the woodwork was
exceedingly heavy and strong. If there were more than one story to the
grange, it must have been hidden under the high-pitched roofs, for there
were no upper windows. Such of these as could be seen below were all
closed with heavy swing shutters, nor was there any chimney on any roof.

This was the manner in which the West Saxons of Harold's time builded
the palaces of their chiefs and earls.



When Lady Maud Neville arose from her knees at the altar rail there was
a beautiful light upon her noble face. Her long, white hair had fallen
around her shoulders, but for some reason she seemed to have grown

"I will give him to the king!" she loudly exclaimed. "I have prayed that
my son may be as was his father, a knight without a stain. But here I
may not tarry. It were better I made ready for a journey even ere I
sleep, for when Richard returneth there will be haste. There is much
that I would not leave behind. I will load no wain with goods, but the
pack beasts will bear full panniers."

She walked out of the chapel and her serving men and maidens met her,
eager to do her bidding. After that there were chambers and storerooms
to visit and coffers to open and packs to bind, for she was not ill
supplied with the garments that were suited to her rank, and above all
there were small caskets of dark wood that were not opened. It was said
that there were gems and jewels in Wartmont, and the saying may have
reached the ears of such as Clod the Club to bring him thither. If so,
well was it that he and his would never come again.

Ever and anon, however, as the good lady passed a window, she would
pause and look out toward the forest, as if in that direction there
might be some one that she longed to see.

Day waned and the night came on, and all preparations appeared to be
completed, for again she visited the chapel before retiring to her
chamber. Long since had the great gate been closed, and the portcullis
lowered and the bridge over the moat drawn in. Now, at last, the curfew
bell sounded from the tower and the lights in castle and village went
out, save one bronze lamp that still burned in that corner of the keep
to which the lady herself had retreated.

It was a large room and lofty, with twain of narrow windows that were as
if for archers to ply their arrows through them rather than for lighting
the space within. The floor was strewn with dry rushes for luxury, and
the garnishing was such as became the mistress of Wartmont. Heavily
carved, of oak, were the tables and the high-backed chairs and the
settles. The mirror over the chest of drawers must have come from Venice
itself. There were curtains at the windows and around the high-post
bedstead which might have been woven in Flanders or Normandy, for none
such could be made in England. The walls were wainscoted to the height
of a man's shoulder, but there were no tapestries to tell of great
wealth. It was as if in this place of retirement had been preserved all
that remained of the broken prosperity of this branch of the great house
of Neville.

The lady slept not, nor even looked at the bed, but sank into a great
cushioned chair and seemed to be lost in thought.

No words escaped her lips although much time went by. There was no hand
to turn the hourglass on the bureau near her, nor could she have known
at what hour she was startled to her feet.

Loud rang the summoning sound of a clarion at the great gate, and louder
was the sudden answer of the alarum bell in the tower. She was at a
window ere she knew, and she heard a shouting:

"Open, O ye of Wartmont! In the king's name! It is John Beauchamp, Earl
of Warwick. Is our lord the prince within?"

"Open will we right gladly," sent back the warder at the gate. "But the
prince and my Lord of Maunay rode on to Warwick in the morn."

"Saints preserve them!" uttered another voice. "But we must needs come
in. Bid the Lady Maud rest. I will trouble her not until day."

"My noble kinsman!" she exclaimed, turning quickly from her window. "I
will make haste to greet him. Well is it that I am robed. I will meet
him speedily in the hall."

Even so she did, and the minutes were few before she stood face to face
with a tall man of noble presence, in full armor save the helmet he had
doffed on entering. He seemed in full vigor of life, but gray-headed, as
became a statesman upon whom the king might lean.

Questions and answers followed fast, and all the while the Wartmont
retainers were busily providing for the hundred horsemen who had ridden
in the train of the earl. Of them were knights and nobles also, and some
of these now stood near the lady and the earl. Strong was their speech,
as was his, concerning the rashness which the prince had shown in riding
across England with so small a company.

"Knoweth he not," said one, "that there is treason in the land?"

"Silence on that head, Geoffrey of Harcourt," responded the earl. "But
we may trust he is safe in Warwick. Had we taken another highway we
might have met him. But, madame, this is fine news of my young kinsman.
Well for him that he hath won the favor of the prince and of that rare
good lance, De Maunay. More than well is it also that he hath sallied
forth promptly to gather his archery. It will please the king. Better
bowmen are not than he will bring from Arden. Now, Lady Maud, hie thee
to thy rest, and so will we all, for we are weary."

The remaining words were few, and once more the castle grew still, save
for the stamping of restless horses in the courtyard and the busy
chatter of the warders of Wartmont with the guard set by the earl.

Now there was another place in which all was quiet, only that on a heap
of rushes and a spread garment lay a youth who slept not, but turned at
times uneasily.

"I fear no treachery," he muttered, but not in Saxon. "I think these be
true men. Yet I will leave my sword bare and my axe by it lest peril
come. Who would have looked for a hold like this among these woods?"

Then his thoughts went back to that which he had seen on coming in. He
had passed the moat and the portal with Guy the Bow, and through a short
passage. Then he had entered a vast hall, in the middle of which blazed
a fire, the smoke whereof escaped at a hole in the peak of the roof. At
one end of this hall was a broad dais, two steps higher than the floor
of beaten earth, and here had been spread a table for his refection.
Kindly, indeed, and full of reverence for his rank and name, had been
the words and manners of all who served, for none presumed to eat with
him. No other man was there of gentle blood, and even Guy the Bow would
have been angered had any trespassed upon his young captain. That was
Richard, now, by the command of the prince himself, and the forestmen
all honored the king, Saxons though they were. None were permitted to
question, overmuch, although Guy himself went out to dispense whatever
news was in his own keeping.

Refreshed, even with a tankard of ale that was brought him, Richard
arose at last, and followed Ben of Coventry to the sleeping place
allotted him. None better was in the grange. If at any past day there
had been more costly furniture, some hand had taken it away, and naught
was left now but safe quarters for such men as Richard had seen.

It was but day dawning when a hunter's horn sounded a clear note at the
door of the rude chamber.

"Hail, my Lord of Wartmont!" spoke Guy the Bow. "I pray thee hasten. Thy
men will be ready for thee within the hour. They all have come, and they
are eager to hear thee."

"On the moment!" shouted Richard. "I am ready. Tell them I come."

"God speed thee this day," said Guy. "Full many a good fellow is ready
to free himself from peril of the sheriff of Warwickshire. Aye, and to
draw the king's good pay and have chance for pillaging French towns.
They like it well."

Great indeed was the astonishment of Richard when, after hurriedly
breaking his fast in the great hall, he walked out with Guy and others
like him to view the gathering in the open space beyond the palisades.

Women and children, score on score, kept at a little distance, but not
beyond hearing. In the middle, however, were clustered fully a hundred
brawny men, eager to hear the king's proclamation of free pardon and
enlistment for the war in France. They all knew what it was to be from
other tongues, but to them the young lord of Wartmont was the king's
messenger, and there was no certainty in their minds until he had

Without too many words, but plainly and well, did he announce his
message, and they answered him with loud shouting. To some of them it
was as a promise of life from certain death, for the law was in search
of them, and the judges of that day were pitiless concerning forestry
and the protection of the king's deer and the earl's.

Short ceremony was needed, for man after man came forward to kneel and
put his hands between those of Richard, in the old Saxon custom of
swearing to be his men in camp and field, in fight and foray, in the
inland and the outland, until the king's will should give them grace to
come home again.

Born warriors were they all, and they laughed with glee in the hope of
fighting the French under so good a leader as was Edward of England.
Good captain, good success, they knew; and as for Richard, had they not
known the knight, his father, and had not he himself slain the Club of
Devon in single-handed combat? They were proud to serve under a Neville,
and a man of their Saxon blood, who could order them in their own

"One hundred and one!" shouted Guy at last. "May I not bid them to
horse, Lord Richard? Every man can have his own galloway, or another,
that the road to the camp at Warwick may be shortened."

"Mount!" shouted Richard. His own gallant steed had been led to his side
and in a moment more he was in the saddle.

John, Earl of Warwick, was also early upon his feet, for he was a man
whose life had been spent much in camps, and he was wont to be out and
using his eyes as a captain before breaking his fast. From the men of
Wartmont he speedily learned all relating to the raid of the Club of
Devon and the brave fight made in front of the castle. Of this also he
noted the defects, and he roundly declared that he would soon give
command and provide means for its repair.

"We may need it again some day," he said to himself. "There may be
stormy times to come. May God prevent strife at home, but there be
overproud hearts and over-cunning heads in this good land of ours. I
will see to it that Wartmont shall be made stronger than ever. Glad am I
that Sir Edward Neville hath left so brave a son to stand for our

Many and bitter were the jealousies of the high-hearted barons of
England, and none could tell the days to come. Who should prophesy how
long the reigning house might keep the throne, or between what claimants
of the crown might be the next struggle, if, for example, King Edward or
his son, or both of them, and their next of kin, should go down in
battle or should die suddenly in their beds, as others of royal blood
had died? The head of a great baronial house might well bethink himself
of every advantage or possible peril.

"But for the poverty the war bringeth," he said, "I would have builders
here within the week. As it is, I will have a garrison, and the good
dame herself must bide at Warwick while her son is with the army in
France. 'Twere shame to leave her here alone."

So said he to Lady Maud when they met in the castle, and she told him
then how well prepared she was for a departure. Already was she aware of
his reason for coming so far to meet the prince; but his anxiety was at
an end, and he was willing to linger and make full his soldierly
inspection of the castle.

"Good fort," he said, "and well was it held against Earl Mortimer. Glad
am I that thy son hath so good control of the forest men. They are as
clannish as are the Scotch, and they will come to their own chief when
they will bide no other."

He understood them, but he was yet taken by surprise before the noon.

"Horsemen!" he exclaimed, standing in the gateway. "Rightly did I say
there was imprudence in the small company of the prince. Yonder is a
troop--yea, twain of them."

No lances were visible, but at the head of the foremost troop rode one
who carried on a high staff a blue banneret, and the earl knew not as
yet what its blazonry might be.

Truth to tell, it was nothing but an old flag of Sir Edward Neville's
which had been stowed away in the crypts of the grange. Not all of these
had been inspected by Richard, but he had seen a good smithy wherein
galloways were shod, and spearheads and arrowheads and knife blades were
hammered and tempered. Not only arrowsmiths were there among the forest
men, but good bowyers, that they might not depend for their weapons upon
any but themselves. Weaving, too, was done among the women and by
skilled websters of the men; but shoemakers or cordwainers they had
none, and but rough potters and smelters. So dwelt they as best they
might, with cattle and sheep and swine, and the black cattle of the
woods and the king's deer for their maintenance. They were not at any
time in peril of starvation, for excellent also were the fishes in the
pools and streams, and there was no end of skilled brewing of ale.

Four and four abreast rode on the mounted archers who had sworn to come
to the king with Richard of Wartmont, and they came on right orderly.
Well looked he also, in full armor, at their head.

"'Tis Richard, my lord the earl!" called out to him Lady Maud as they
rode nearer. "'Tis my brave son and his men! Believest thou now that he
can call the men of the woods? My boy! God bless him!"

"That say I!" loudly responded the earl, striding across the
moat-bridge. "Ho, all! Get ready for the way. My lady, I pray thee to go
in and lade thy pack beasts. We will even march for Warwick ere the day
is an hour older."

Loud and hearty was his cousinly greeting to his young kinsman. Strong
was his approval of the force he had enlisted, but he added:

"What shall we do with all these beasts? The king will have his archers
on their own feet."

"That is provided for," replied Richard. "I pray thee trust me that the
whole drove can go back to Arden, under good driving, as soon as there
is no more need for them. I deemed it well to come quickly. Such was
the word given me by Sir Walter de Maunay."

"Thou didst well to heed him," said the earl; but then he talked little
more with Richard.

He bade the men dismount and get their noonday meal in the village and
in the castle; but he had speech with many of them, for he was well
pleased that such a company should come to the royal standard from among
his own retaining.

Lady Maud had waited, but not all patiently, for her own greeting to her
son. It was a joy to both of them that they were to go on to Warwick
together, but most of all that a better day seemed to be dawning for
them, and that the ruin wrought by the bad Earl Mortimer might be

Not many men had been left behind in the hidden hold amid the forest,
and such as had not marched with Richard had long since dispersed. Some
had ridden gayly away on their stout ponies; others had gone to the
fields. Some were in the smithy, the tannery, and the other workshops,
and a few had restlessly snatched bows and arrows to hurry out into the
woods as hunters.

No guards were set, except that a pair of bowmen lingered on the farther
side of the causeway over the morass. There was little peril of
intrusion now that the Lancashire Welsh thieves had been sorely smitten.
Whatever might remain of them would not return to be shot down.

As for the secret character of the grange itself, there was small
wonder that a few hundred acres, if so much there might be, of patches
of farm land should be sheltered among those woods from any but such men
as had been Sir Edward Neville. It might all be within the somewhat
doubtful borders of his own manorial grant, given to his ancestors by
the earlier kings and confirmed by Edward the First, to be lost under
his son, the second Edward, and Earl Mortimer, and to be regained under
Edward the Third and the house of Beauchamp.

It was said, indeed, that there were regions tenfold as wide, in some of
the remoter baronies, whereof men knew but little, especially among the
Scottish border counties and among the hills. Besides these were the
unsearched fen districts on the coasts, the wild mountain parts of
Wales, and worst of all were the highlands of Scotland and the seagirt
isles of the Scottish coasts. As for Ireland, even the greater part of
it was almost an unknown land to Englishmen, for nothing less than an
army might venture inland too far with any hope of ever coming back

In the several parts of the grange itself, as in the cottages scattered
beyond it, the women plied their tasks. Some of them spun with distaffs,
and two or three looms were busy; more might have been but for the lack
of wool. There was much raising of sheep in the more thickly settled
parts of England in those days, but there was small room for them in
Arden. Moreover, they, more than cattle or horses or swine, were sorely
thinned by the wolves. It was a hundred and fifty years later that these
fierce beasts disappeared from England, and the last of them in Scotland
was slain yet a century later. So was it that so little cloth, even of
homespun, was worn by the bowmen who rode behind Richard of Wartmont, in
the gloom of that evening when he followed the Earl and his men-at-arms
through the gate of Warwick town.

Long had been the journey, hard pushed and weary were beasts and men.
There was small ceremony of arrival or reception for the greater part of
the cavalcade, but the Lady Maud was conducted at once to the care of
the Countess Eleanor of Warwick, her younger sister, the wife of the

As for Richard, his men were cared for well, under direction of Sir
Geoffrey de Harcourt, while their young captain was bidden to hasten
with his great kinsman to meet once more the Prince of Wales and Sir
Walter de Maunay.

This greeting, too, was brief, for the hour was late; but the prince
said graciously:

"O thou of Wartmont, I will make thee my comrade in arms! In the morn I
would fain see thy men. My father himself bade me gather as many deer
stealers as I might, for, quoth he, the hand that can send a gray goose
shaft to strike a stag at a hundred yards may fairly bring down a
Frenchman at half that distance. Give me bowmen enough of the right
sort, and I will train them to face anything that Philip of France can

"O my Lord the Prince," replied Richard, "I have a hundred with me, of
whom any man can send an arrow through a coat of mail at fifty yards. I
like the king's notion right well."

"Go, now," said the prince; "go with thy kinsman, the earl. On the
morrow I will tell thee what to do with _thy_ men."

But these, for their part, were all of a merry heart that night. Not
often had any of them visited Warwick, at least in later years, for
therein was a jail, and they liked not so much as to look thereon, being
in danger of being put within it. They had good quarters and good fare,
with much ale, and they knew they were to see brave sights next day, and
to have a word from even the Black Prince himself. Was not that enough
of cheer for men of the woods who had seldom been out beyond the shadows
of the oaks of Arden?

The stout earl and his nephew walked together from the presence of the
prince toward the chamber allotted to Richard.

"Thou shalt be to me as a son!" exclaimed the earl, in the dim corridor
through which they were pacing. "Thou hast won the prince. Now, if thou
wilt go and win thy spurs with him, thy fortune is made. Thou wilt have
broader lands than Wartmont, but wert thou even to win much gold, I bid
thee bide by thine own keep and hold to thee thy Saxon men. If thou wilt
do so, I can foresee the day when thou canst bring five hundred bowmen
to the standard of thy house."

"I can bring but four more men-at-arms now," said Richard ruefully.

"And thy archers?" laughed the earl. "Didst thou not hear Geoffrey
Harcourt say to Northampton, that if all the great barons of England
would do as well as thou hast done, the array of the king would be
gathered right speedily? Too many are afraid to leave their own domains
lightly guarded, and, truth to tell, not a few are carrying slender
purses. The drainings of these long wars have made us poor. I am myself
in the hands of the Jews and the London Lombards for more debts than I
can see how to pay. So is the king, and he is troubled in mind as to how
he shall feed and pay his armies. Go to thy couch and arise right early.
Beware that thou never keep the prince waiting. He is like his royal
father, and he who would fail of meeting the king hath gone near to
making him a sworn enemy. His temper is dangerous. See that thou arouse
him not at any time. His hand is hard upon men, and so will any troops
of his be disciplined as were never English troops since William won the

If that were to prove true, it might be one of the reasons why the king
so firmly believed that he could bring the men so disciplined face to
face with greater numbers of the disorderly levies of his rival, the
King of France.

The stern counsel of the wise earl was hardly needed, so far as
Richard's early rising was concerned, but he was up not any too soon in
the morn. Nor was he any too mindful of his duty as a soldier of the
king. He arose and put on his armor and walked out of his chamber, and
before him stood an archer.

"The commands of the earl," he said bluntly. "Eat not, but hasten to thy
men. They break their fast even now. Have thou them in line right
speedily. I will be thy guide to their quarters."

"I obey the earl," said Richard, following.

It was not far to go, beyond the castle gate, and Richard turned for a
moment to gaze back upon towers and battlemented walls which had
resisted so many a stout assailing.

"They are held for the king now," he thought, "but they once were held
against him, and oft against other kings. In yonder dungeon keep hath
more than one proud earl been brought to the block, and men say that in
it, even now, are prisoners of note that may never again see the day."

Dark and high and threatening was the aspect of the great keep of
Warwick Castle, and there might be terrible secrets of state in its
underground chambers.

He turned again to follow the archer, but when he came to the quarters
of his troop, he found that the commands of the earl were there before
him. The forest men were used to be up with the dawn, and it had been no
surprise to them to find their tables ready spread. Also, they liked the
fare, and they were in good heart when they came out to greet their
young captain. They cheered him loudly; but a new thought flashed into
his mind.

"Soldiers? Drilled?" he said to himself. "I see what the earl means.
They all can shoot well, but they can neither form line nor move
together, nor do they know the words of command. The prince--is he here
thus early?"

Here he came, the heir of the crown of England and of the English claim
to the crown of France. He was in his plain black armor, with his visor
raised, but on his face was no smile of youthful familiarity--rather,
something of the hard look that distinguished his father and that made
men fear him; and the hardness was in his voice as well, when he shouted
swift orders to Richard.

Low had been his obeisance, but he had a bitter feeling in his heart,
for he knew not how to form his men. All he could do was to turn to them
and shout:


"By fours! Spears in line!" added Guy the Bow, and more words in Saxon
bade them hold their shields in front and step together.

Less shame felt Richard when he saw how well they came on, and the lips
of the prince relaxed somewhat.

"Not a rabble," he muttered. "They will train well. I never saw new men
move thus. The Neville doeth better than I thought. I will speak to the

Other knights were with him, gallantly mounted all, and behind him they
rode out to the broad common of Warwick, for there was to be a morning
review of the earl's retainers and of levies which had arrived.

Never before had Richard seen together three thousand armed men, horse
and foot, and greatly delighted by so rare a show were his woodsmen. In
large part these forces had already been well trained by the officers of
Earl Warwick, and the prince himself ordered them through many
movements, such as might be needed upon a field of battle.

A rare man was Guy the Bow, for he and Ben of Coventry had been trained
in their time, and they had instructed their comrades at the grange in
days gone by, and the rest on the way as they came. So was it that when
Richard of Wartmont led his two fifties hither and thither, he and they
were a further surprise to the prince and to his captains and noble
knights. They fell not into any confusion at any point, and again it was
said of them, "No rabble," and "The Wartmont doeth well for a beginner."

After that, archery butts were set up and squads from several companies
were picked, by lot only, and ordered to show their skill.

Right good was the shooting, as might have been expected, for there were
prizes as well as praises to be won; but at the noon, when all was over,
it was found that every best shot, save one, on all the butts had been
made by the slayers of the king's deer in Arden.

"O thou of Wartmont," laughed Sir Walter de Maunay, "I think thou wert
wise in asking so many pardons! Thy merry men are in good practice."

So laughed the prince, but there had been counseling that day and he now
summoned Richard to himself. With him were the Earl of Warwick and four
other earls, and Richard felt sorely abashed before he was spoken to.

"What sayest thou, John Beauchamp of Warwick?" he heard the prince
demand. "What wouldst thou with the levies?"

"My Lord the Prince," responded the earl, "even as seems to me to have
been said by the king. We must hear from Scotland. The king crosseth not
the channel before winter. Neither will he keep too many thousands, at
great cost and loss, in the Portsmouth camp."

"What then?" asked the prince.

"As for my nephew's men," said the earl, "they are too few--gathered in
a day. Instead of one hundred, he will bring twain or more. Keep these
for a week, and send them to recruit their fellows. Thou knowest the
power of the Neville name among them. Send Richard to York."

"Good counsel!" exclaimed the prince. "Richard of Wartmont, select thee
a dozen of thy trustiest men on thy best galloways. Be thou with them
two hours hence, at the castle gate. Thou shalt be the king's post
bearer to his Grace the Archbishop of York, and to the barons of the
north counties."

Richard bowed low, flushing with pride and joy, for the spirit of travel
and of adventure swelled high within him.

"Thanks to thee, O my Prince!" was all that he could say, and he went
back among his men.



The prince was but a youth, although of good stature and strongly made.
From his cradle up he had been trained under the care of the stout king,
his father, and of knights who were chosen from the best swords and
bravest hearts in England. Assured was he that only a hardy soldier and
a good general might safely keep the crown. The barons of the
realm--half kings in their own domains--had proved the ruin of the
second Edward, and only by deep cunning and ruthless force had the third
of the name broken loose from a like thraldom. Much blood had been shed
before the scepter was firmly in his grasp; and a fiercely royal
self-will had been instilled into the Prince of Wales as one of the
safeguards of his kingship. Therefore, when sent to Warwick to confer
concerning the mustering of the forces, he had come there to command as
well as to take counsel.

"My Lord of Harcourt," he said with much dignity to that noble warrior,
"I have listened well to all that hath been said. Plain is it that the
earl is right. There will be no crossing to France with King David of
Scotland threatening the border counties. We must hear from the
Archbishop of York. I will send the Wartmont. He will go and come right

There was he now in front of the castle gate, with Guy the Bow and ten
more of the archers of Arden. To Richard himself had been given a fresh
horse and good, with two pack beasts well laden, for the king's especial
post might make a good show at any castle or town he should come to on
his way. So was it with his merry men all, for their buff coats were new
and they covered each a doublet of green cloth. All their galloways were
saddled and bridled, with fair housings, and one of them carried a lance
and a pennon, whereon were blazoned a white star and cross, and over
them a gilded crown, in token of their errand. Woe to any who should
dare to hinder a messenger of the king, or fail to speed him on the
king's errand!

Not that Richard himself knew the meaning of the letters that were in
his pouch, nor that matters of state were in his head. But a proud band
and merry were the bowmen who rode behind him out of the town gate and
up the highway to the northward.

"O my Lord of Wartmont!" said Guy the Bow. "This is better than I had
hoped. I had not so much cared to see the outland folk, but I had
hungered for a look at more of England."

"Thou art out of the woods now," replied Richard, "and so am I, but
there is little more for us than riding from sleep to sleep, and caring
well for our beasts. We may not pause under any roof longer than to
break our fast and let the galloways rest."

"We can see as we go," said Ben of Coventry. "A man learneth much by
what he seeth. But half the archers of Arden would come at the king's
call, if they knew how well they would be taken in hand."

That truly was the wisdom of the prudent Earl of Warwick, and it suited
the humor of the prince, for from all the land the levies had been slow
in gathering. As for himself, his stay in Warwick was to be of the
briefest, for he had learned many things to carry to the ears of his
royal sire at London.

Well went it with the Lady Maud after she had spoken a short farewell to
her son that day, for she was now housed with kindred and with many
noble ladies, and was hearing tidings of the world that could not have
reached her at Wartmont. Moreover, there were new fashions of dress and
equipage that all women love to learn, and the stately dame herself had
brought with her goodly fabrics ready for shaping by the skilled
needlewomen of her sister, the countess. It was better than being
cooped almost alone in the gloomy old keep at Wartmont.

A day and a night, and a day and then another night, lingered the
prince. His main business seemed to be with the levies, and he said to

"I will know them man by man, and so will the king, my father. I will
measure with care the force wherewith we are to meet Philip of France.
The king is most of all wary concerning his bowmen. I like well the
Wartmont's tall deer stealers. They are worth a pardon. We must have
more of them. I, too, must be seen in Wales. Would that I could drain
out of it the most unruly spirits and the fiercest outlaws. So is the
king's command concerning Ireland. If any rogue there is worse than
another, let him be brought in and put in training."

Deep was the craft of the king, therefore, and of the prince, for if any
wild man came at their call, and they liked not the promise of his thews
and sinews, him they took not, after testing him, for he might be no
better than one of the peasants of the King of France, fitter to dig
than to carry sword and buckler.

The summer days went by, even as Richard had told his men. Steadily,
even hastily, they pressed their northward way, and tower and town gave
them hearty welcome. There were those who unduly asked what their errand
might be, but to noble or simple there was but one reply:

"Ask thou the king, if thou wilt meddle with his business."

There were earls and barons, of course, to whom was due great courtesy
of speech, and, indeed, to all ears there was much free news to tell.
Ever, as they went farther on, they heard more rumors of the doubtful
state of things upon the Scottish border.

"There was never peace there," said the Earl of Arundel, at the gate of
a castle where Richard met with him and other noble lords. "King David
will be in England within a week from the sailing of the English fleet.
Young sir, tell thou this from me to the good archbishop. Bid him send
few levies to the king from the north counties, but hold a force in
waiting that shall be as good as any the king may convey to France. Else
we shall see the thistles of Scotland halfway to London town before he
can meet the lilies of France in any field beyond the sea."

Richard bowed low, for he was abashed before so grand a company; but he
had not ridden far before he heard Ben of Coventry assuring Guy the Bow,
with his usual freedom:

"Right wise was yonder earl, thou fat-head. But doth he deem that the
king hath forgotten Scotland? Trust thou him for that. Ah me, that we
must go and come and never kill a Scot!"

"Or be killed by them," said Guy. "Keep thy head for the French to hack
at. Thou wilt get knocks enough."

"Mayhap," said Ben; "but I say one thing: Never did twelve men from
Arden fare so well for no harder work than riding. It payeth me to serve
the king. We have been feasted all the way."

"Wert thou in Scotland," laughed Guy, "it were otherwise. They eat but
oatmeal cakes, and they know not of ale. I wonder much if they have deer
in such a land where all is fog and mist, and where the days are short
at both ends. But the Scotch fight hard, and sorely would they harry
England were a chance given them."

They seemed to be at peace at that time, but King Edward and his
advisers had rightly read the state of affairs in the kingdom over which
David the Bruce was but half a king. No check had as yet been given to
the power of the great Scottish baronial houses. They were beyond the
control of any man, and David had inherited his father's valor without
either the generalship or the prudence of the great Robert the Bruce.

It was at last in the morning of a fair, warm day that Richard and his
archers rode out from under a dense wood to shout together as one man
for what they saw.

"Aye, here we are!" said Richard, "and yonder is the spire of York
Cathedral. One hour more and we are at our journey's end."

Never before had any man among them journeyed so far, but they showed
small signs of wear or weariness. Nevertheless, at Richard's command
they gave goodly attention to their apparel and their weapons, and to
the coats of their beasts, before presenting themselves at the gate of
the ancient cathedral city.

"I have heard tell," said Richard to Guy, "that here was a town in the
old days of the Romans. There hath been many a battle and leaguer before
these walls."

"The Romans?" replied Guy. "I was told of them by a Cornish man. There
were giants in Cornwall in those days. God grant they are all gone their
way; but the Cornish men say they at times find the long bones and the
big, hollow skulls."

"The gates are well guarded," was the next thought of Richard. "Can
there be bad news from the north?"

Guards there were, and none went out or in without notice to discern
well whom they might be, as if, perchance, there were spies in the land.

"In the king's name!" shouted Richard, at the gate, "Richard of
Wartmont. From Earl Warwick and the king's duty to his Grace the

"In the king's name, enter!" as loudly responded a crested knight who
had advanced before the sentries. "Follow thou me to the archbishop. The
warders will care for thy men. I am Robert Johnstone of the Hill. Art
thou not a Neville, and my kinsman?"

"That am I," said Richard. "My father was Sir Edward Neville."

"Good knight and true," responded Sir Robert. "I have fought at his
side. There must needs be a rare message when thy uncle the earl chose
thee for his postboy."

"Words must be few," said Richard, "but now I know who thou art, I will

"Tell not!" interrupted the knight. "Do I not discern thy pennon? Name
not any who were with the earl until thou hast emptied thy postbag. Thou
art but young, and these be treacherous times. A brave band are thy

"Archers of my own company," said Richard, a little proudly. "Every man
from the forests of Arden."

"And every man a born retainer of Sir Edward Neville's house," laughed
Johnstone. "Do I not know thee and thine? We will have speech together
soon, where there may be no other ears. The Johnstones are as thou art,
the chiefs of old clans that the new men can do naught with."

Great then was the surprise of the young messenger when his sudden
acquaintance talked to him in Saxon, bidding him also not to use that
speech except among his own, and telling him that the north counties
contained more than did the midlands of such men as had preserved
jealously the memories of the days of Harold the Saxon.

"'Tis a tough race," said the knight. "It is a good foundation for thy
house to rest upon. Aye, or for the king's throne. Now, if thou wilt
dismount, yonder esquire will care for thy horse."

Sir Robert appeared to be acting as captain of warders, and none
questioned or hindered him as he and Richard walked on, side by side,
toward the castlelike palace which served as the residence of the
archbishop. The town was the largest, and its buildings were the best
that Richard yet had seen. He knew, moreover, that the learned prince of
the Church before whom he was about to stand was also accounted second
to none among the statesmen of England, with rare capacity for affairs
of war as well as of peace. He was a man, therefore, to whom might be
intrusted the safety of a realm in the absence of its king, and in him
had Edward the Third unshaken confidence as being loyal and true.

Word of their coming had gone on before them swift-footed, and they
were ushered with all haste into the great hall where his Grace was
already present, for the reception of they knew not what or whom.

At the upper end of the hall, upon a raised dais of three steps, was a
throne chair, carved richly with emblems of the Church, and surmounted
by a high cross that seemed of silver. In front of this, clad gorgeously
in flowing robes, stood the archbishop, and before him knelt a knight in
splendid armor, but bareheaded, just on the point of rising. The quick
eyes of the prelate flashed keenly, and he turned to an attendant monk.

"Anselmus," he said in Latin, "bring hither yonder messenger. I must
read his letters before I have further speech with Douglas."

"He hath summoned thee," whispered Sir Robert to Richard. "Speak not at
all to him, lest thou err greatly. Yon is the knight of Liddesdale, the
prowest spear of Scotland. His presence bodeth no good to England, I

The monk came and touched Richard's arm and led him forward. Glad was he
of his injunction not to speak, for he was greatly awed to be in that
presence. He walked onward with bowed head, and on the dais he knelt
before the archbishop.

"Thy letters, my son," said the prelate.

Not a word spoke Richard, but he silently presented three sealed
missives. One he knew was from the prince, one from the Earl of
Warwick, and the third was to him a secret. Nevertheless he heard the
archbishop mutter:

"The king's own hand?"

Then he said aloud:

"Wait thou here, my son. Rise; I will return presently. My Lord Douglas,
come thou with me into my cabinet."

Richard arose and stood in his place, but it seemed not long before the
archbishop strode back again, and with him came the knight of

"Your Grace," said the latter, "I ride within the hour."

"Peace go with thee," responded the archbishop. "Peace be with thee and
thine; with thy king and my king; with Scotland and with England! Amen!"

Then from all who were present came a responsive Amen, as the knight
knelt for a parting blessing and rose to depart.

"Come thou, my son Richard," said the archbishop. "I would hear thee."

It was strange fortune for a youth so inexperienced to find himself
mingling in affairs so tremendous, and Richard hardly breathed until he
was alone with the great man in a kind of oratory wherein was an altar.

"Speak!" said the archbishop. "Tell all."

First, then, Richard told of the prince and De Maunay at Wartmont, and
the archbishop answered not save to mutter:

"So! thou hast slain that wolf, the Club of Devon. Thou art like thy

Then told Richard not of the grange in the woods, but of his going to
Warwick with his archers, and again he heard the prelate mutter, but in

"Saxons, all! How we of the old blood do cling together! He doeth well."

All the words of the prince and of those with him were repeated, but no
comment was made. After that told Richard the saying of the Earl of
Arundel, and he had finished.

"Well for thee, my son," said the archbishop. "Thou hast seen Lord
Douglas. He is for peace. Mark me, I will write letters. Thou wilt bear
them. Wait in York till they are given thee. Come not to me unless I
summon thee. I note that thou rememberest clearly, and canst carry that
which may not be written. This, then, say to the king or to the prince,
but not to another save John Beauchamp the earl, lest thou die. Bid the
king from me that Douglas and his friends will fail in their counsels
for peace. David of Scotland is for war, and waiteth but opportunity. He
must now have one. Edward the King will not but seem to drain of force
these northern counties, that the Scottish lords may deem them
unguarded. He will gather an army for his war in France. Such another
will we prepare to meet the Scottish invasion. Let the king be sure that
when he saileth for France the Scottish host will march for the English
border. Edward will prove too much for so rash a man, with all his
cunning, as is Philip of France. In like manner we will prove too much
for David of Scotland, who despiseth the warnings of men like Douglas of
Liddesdale. We will crush the Scottish invasion, taking the unwise in a
snare. Go!"

Deep was the reverence with which Richard turned to depart. More words
were given him, however, and much was his wonder at a man who seemed to
know the thoughts of the hearts of other men, and to read the forces of
the kingdoms as if he were counting pennies.

A good monk led the young messenger out of the hall and gave him into
the care of Sir Robert Johnstone.

"Say not too much to me," said the knight. "I talked with Liddesdale,
and heavy of heart is he. A wise man as well as a good captain; but the
Scots must learn a lesson. How long tarriest thou in York?"

"For letters only," said Richard.

"Then bide with me, and let thy men rest and their beasts. I will show
thee the town and the castle and the cathedral. 'Tis a grand old town.
I like it well."

"I shall like well to see," said Richard. "But how great is the
archbishop! Never before have I looked into the face of such a man."

"Wait, then, until thou hast seen the king," replied Sir Robert. "Try if
thou canst read him. Thou wilt be with the prince."

Out they went, and Richard's eyes were so busy that he found small use
for his tongue. Nor was there great need, save for a question here and
there, for the knight had taken a liking to him and was willing to
instruct him.

"Some day," he said, "thou mayest lead thy archery hitherward. Spare not
to learn aught that might serve thee if thou wert a captain, in whatever
land thou shalt at any time visit."

At the close of the day, when the vespers were ringing sweetly in the
cathedral tower, Richard was with his men, and they gathered around him
gladly, telling how well they had fared.

"Guy the Bow," laughed Richard, "tell me truly, now, of those who have
been with thee. Hast thou broken thy jaws with French or north English,
or hast thou chattered in Saxon?"

The laugh was echoed from man to man, and Guy the Bow responded:

"Now, my lord, knowest thou this already? There be more of the old sort
here than in Warwickshire. They tell that there be many Nevilles
hereaway, and it seemed right to them that one of thy house should be
our captain. But I hear that the bowmen of these parts are to be kept at

"Say not too much of that to any man," said Richard, for at once he
remembered the words of the archbishop.

"The king," he thought, "will deal with the Scots as with the French.
They must get their teaching from the longbow and the cloth-yard arrow."

Rest came well that night after so long a journey. The next day, and the
next, were but spent in seeing sights and in waiting for orders. On the
third day, however, before the sun was a half hour high, came Sir Robert
Johnstone to greet his young friend.

"Up, Richard of Wartmont!" he gayly shouted. "Take thou this pouch and
keep it with thy life until thou shalt deliver it to the king's hand.
Thine uncle the earl, or the prince, shall be to thee as the king, but
on thy life and on thy head give it to no other."

The parcel was small and it was tightly bound in dressed deerskin. It
could be hidden under a coat of mail, and there did Richard at once
conceal it.

"I will but break my fast," he said. "Then we will mount and ride."

"Beware of overhaste," said the knight. "Safety is more than speed in
such a case as this. A day more or less will not matter. Thou wilt know
enough not to talk loosely by the way, but it is from his Grace himself
that thou shalt speak only of peace with Scotland. Baron or earl or
common, all must rest assured that the Scots are weary of war. Well they
might be, were there wisdom in them. I would their king were older. We
shall beat them the more easily because he putteth aside such captains
as the Knight of Liddesdale, and listeneth to hot-headed young chiefs
that never yet saw a thousand spears in line."

"Thou wilt be here?" said Richard.

"That will I," replied the Johnstone. "The king will hear a good report
of his north country bowmen. If thou speakest of it to the prince, say
this from me, that in his own camp there shall be no better discipline
nor closer archery."

Rapid was their talking, but when they summoned Richard's men there was
a shout. They had seen enough of York already, and they were eager for
the road. To them all it was more like a long junketing than aught else.

"All Arden would list," said Ben of Coventry, "for this sort of war
service. But I had hoped somewhat for a brush with the Scots. Not an
arrow hath sped since we set forth from Warwick."

"Thou wilt have archery enough before thou art done with the king's
war," replied Richard.

"Mind thou thy galloway, Ben," interrupted Guy the Bow. "What knowest
thou of the Scots? They are many a league away."

"Aye, man," said Ben, "and all the Yorkshire men know that Douglas of
Liddesdale was here. All Scotland may march behind him some day."

"Then I may say to thee," said Richard, "and to every man of this
company, speak not upon the way one word of the Knight of Liddesdale.
Closed lips, safe head. We are on the king's errand."

"Even so!" exclaimed Ben. "I was right. I deemed the Scottish captain a
bird of ill omen. Thou mayest trust thy men, Lord Richard of Wartmont.
We of the greenwood are well used to keeping a silent tongue. Else were
our necks worth but little."

Richard said no more; but it was well that he had with him none but
trusty companions, for all their journey homeward would be beset by
shrewd questioners eager to get the latest tidings from the north.

"I will take another road," he thought, "than that by which I came.
There are roads plenty. The Earl of Arundel will be at Warwick when I
get there, or at London."

Hearty was the farewell of Sir Robert Johnstone at the city gate, and
gay was the setting forth of Richard and his men. But it was even
according to the saying of wise Ben of Coventry, that an esquire and
eleven archers were riding a holiday with nothing to do but to ride and
to be hailed at every gateside to tell what news.

Even the second day passed in like manner, and it was far on in the
third when the first happening came.

Not in any town or by any castle, but in the broad highway, there rode
to meet them a glittering array of men-at-arms.

"Halt!" shouted Richard. "Form line at the roadside, till we know what
this may mean. Yonder is a banner with the arms of Surrey. Why should
such a flag be here? I know not the earl, nor is he a friend of the
Warwick, Beauchamp or Neville."

So many, in those troubled days, were the feuds and heartburnings among
the stout barons of England!

On came the lances, fully a score, with mounted esquires and serving men
as many, and Richard sat alone upon his horse in the roadway, with Guy
the Bow at his side bearing the prince's pennon.

Sharply the men-at-arms drew rein, and only one knight spurred forward.

"Richard of Wartmont!" he exclaimed. "Glad am I thou camest this way.
They who wait thee on the other road must not know thy errand. Surrey
is not here, but the Earl of Northampton."

"My Lord of Harcourt," responded Richard firmly, "I may not answer even
thee, nor give my errand save to our liege the king, or to the prince."

"Thou wouldst deserve to lose thy head if thou didst," replied Sir
Geoffrey of Harcourt. "Do thou, however, as if the prince bade thee. Go
not to Warwick, but send thy archery there. Turn thou with me and ride
for thy life until thou art out of reach of the king's enemies."

"Guy the Bow," said Richard, turning to him, "hast thou heard?"

"If it be also thy command," said Guy, "fear not for us. Little do we
need of highways or of any man's permission. Let me have speech with the

"Bid them to reach Warwick town as best they may," said Richard.

To the roadside and to his company went Guy, and in a few moments more
he raised a hand, and the few words he spoke were in Saxon.

Up again went the hand of Richard, with a loud "Ha! Ride!"

Now at that place was a great forest, with a deep ditch along the

As Richard lowered his hand, over the ditch went the line of galloways,
and it was but a twinkling before all had vanished among the trees.

"Wartmont," exclaimed the knight, "thou hast thy men well in hand! I
will tell the prince of this. Thou canst call them and thou canst send

"How is this?" loudly demanded a not unkindly voice, as another rider in
splendid armor rode near them.

"My Lord of Northampton," said Sir Geoffrey, smiling, "Richard hath sent
home his galloways, and they took their riders with them. He must not

"A few words only," said the earl; "I shall not hinder the king's
service. Arundel gave thee a message. Was it delivered?"

"It was, my lord the earl," said Richard. "I may say to thee it was

"Knowing from him what it was," said the earl, "I need ask no more on
that head"; but he went on with what seemed to be only general inquiries
as to the health of the archbishop and the gatherings of levies at York
and elsewhere.

"Haste!" muttered Harcourt.

"On, then!" almost shouted the earl. "Ride well, thou of Wartmont, lest
the foes of the Neville as well as the traitors to the king shall bar
thy way. But I am glad that they lied who said that the good archbishop
is failing. On!"

Silent and motionless upon their horses sat the men-at-arms as Harcourt
and Richard galloped by.

Miles away, upon another road, a somewhat like band of warlike men were
halted as if waiting, and to him who seemed their leader it was said, by
a small, gray-headed man at his side:

"Could we but know the mind of the archbishop we might be able to tell
the king why we pay not his contributions, and why thy retainers are not
on the march for Portsmouth."

"We shall have his Grace's letters before the sun is down," hoarsely
responded the knight addressed. "I would there might be somewhat in
Wartmont's doublet to imperil the proud head of his uncle Warwick."

"Aye, my Lord of Surrey," said the gray-headed man, "it were overcunning
of John Beauchamp to have the young Neville so near the prince. That
house towereth too high. We will tumble it somewhat."

Small was the knowledge of Richard concerning the plots and perils
through which he and his had ridden, but in a small, elegantly furnished
room, at many a long mile's distance, there sat at that hour twain who
spoke of him.

"My son," remarked one of them, "I will not say that thou and Warwick
were overconfident to send a boy. The time for his return draweth near."

"'Tis far to ride," replied the younger of the pair, and he was very
much the younger. "I sent Sir Geoffrey Harcourt to watch for him, else
he might not come. My royal sire, Richard Neville and his archers might
come and go where a knight and a score of men-at-arms would fail."

"Or turn traitor, as some have done," slowly responded the king. "The
land reeks with treason, but half of it would have us go to France and
be beaten, while the other half would have us stay at home and lose all
to Philip of Valois."

So communed King Edward and the Black Prince, telling of the dangers
which may beset a crown. Much had they to say concerning the power of
the barons, but more of the building up of their strength among the

"Mark thou this, my son," said the king at last, "make thou the commons
to be strong, and the crown is safe against the barons. When I can show
thee bowmen defeating knights and men-at-arms, thou wilt see a new day
for England. After that it shall not be long until a successful merchant
shall be greater than an earl. Am not I also a merchant? Learn thou the
art of the trader, for it is part of the wisdom of kings in the time
that is coming."

All through his reign had commerce grown, and manufactures been
encouraged by the king, while more and more with a strong hand he strove
to restrain the barons. Not till a later day, however, were they to be
broken; but, even as he now said, they were to go down partly by their
own jealousies and feuds, but more by the power of the commons.

It was therefore a lesson in kingcraft that the prince was receiving
from his father, but at the end of it the youth walked out along a
corridor, murmuring:

"The king is sore disturbed. He hath great need to hear from York and of
Scotland. Well for Richard Neville if he arrive speedily, for my royal
father is not always safe in his mood. But he was pleased concerning the
Neville and his archers."

It was sunset when Richard and Sir Geoffrey drew rein before a hostelry
in a large hamlet.

"Dismount!" said the knight sharply. "I will give thee here a fresh
horse, and thine shall follow. Ten leagues farther on, as I will give
thee instruction, thou wilt get thee another. Ride till thou drop from
thy saddle, but I trust thy toughness will bear thee through. If thou
must sleep one night, camp thee in a wood, not in a house, lest thou
awake and find thy pouch missing, or lest thou wake not at all."

The fresh horse was a good one, but now Richard, with full directions
for the way, rode on alone, bearing still the banneret of the prince.

'Twas a fair night, and the full moon gave light as of the day. Mile
after mile went by and all was well, but he came to an open level of
broad highway whereon much could be seen afar.

"A man-at-arms?" said Richard. "He faceth this way. I may not let him
stop me. I will close my visor and be ready for what may come."

He shut his helmet tightly and lowered his lance, loosening also the
battle-axe at his saddle bow. He had need, for the strange man-at-arms
uttered no warning, but dashed suddenly forward with lance in rest.
'Twas but the fortune of tourney, for the foeman rode well and he was
large. His lance point glanced from the helmet of the young messenger,
while Richard smote him full upon the breast.

Splintered to the hand was the lance, but the stranger reeled in the
saddle, and before he could recover himself Richard had wheeled, axe in

"In the king's name!" he shouted, "what doest thou with the king's

Down came the battle-axe, striking the bridle arm of the stranger, so
that while he drew his sword with his right hand he could not manage his

"For the king!" shouted Richard.

"Down with thee, thou cub of Wartmont!" roared the stranger angrily. "I
will take thy messages. Ha!"

'Twas a good blow, but it stopped upon the shield of the Neville, while
once more the axe fell heavily with the curvet of Richard's horse. Sore
wounded upon one thigh was now the man-at-arms, and his steed plunged
viciously to one side.

"I will have thee!" he shouted, but his sword swept vainly through the
air, while Richard charged again.

"Thy helm this time!" he muttered as his axe came down.

Cloven through was the steel headpiece, and the man-at-arms let fall his

"Neville, I yield me!" he cried out. "Smite not again."

"Who art thou?" demanded Richard.

"That ask thou not, if thou art wise," responded the stranger. "For thee
to know my name were thy death-warrant. Thou hast perils enough. Ride
on, and tell the king that an old man-at-arms who could grind thee to
powder hath been beaten by a lad. I have fought in twenty pitched
fields, and now I must even ride home to save my broken head."

"I will harm thee not," said Richard, "but I fear thee not. Thy head
were worth but little----"

"Trust me, it is safe," said the stranger. "The king will leave it where
it is. I shall see thee again some day. Thou wilt be a good lance, but
carry thou not too many king's errands. Fare thee well!"

He had regained control of his horse, and now he suddenly spurred away
in the very direction by which Richard had come. Down sprang the latter
to pick up the fallen lance and to fasten upon it the pennon his own had
carried before it was broken. Then, as he mounted once more, he
exclaimed aloud:

"Ride I now for my life! I shall be followed fast and far. I know not
friend from foe, save that the nearer I get to the king the safer I
shall be."

His good horse neighed cheerily, as if he knew that his rider had
conquered, and a proud youth was Richard Neville.

"I have won my first passage at arms," he said. "I shall have somewhat
whereof to tell the prince."



"Seven leagues from London, if that wagoner gave me the distance
aright," said Richard to himself, "and this horse is sore wearied. Twain
have tired under me since my lance was splintered on the shield of that
felon knight."

Much and often had he wondered who might be the stranger man-at-arms,
but of one thing he felt assured: only some baron of high name had used
such speech and worn such armor. Now, at last, even his tough sinews
were giving out, for he had ridden hard and slept little. Food had been
easy to buy at wayside hostelries. He had ridden through towns and
villages with no longer pauses than had been needful that he might ask
the way or answer courteously the questions of persons of condition.

His fresh mounts had been freely furnished him on showing of the royal
order, for none might lightly disobey the king.

"Surely I now am safe," he thought, "but the night is falling. I will
even rest at an inn and go onward in the morning. I must sleep, lest I
fall from my horse."

It was a huge, rambling tavern at the right of the highway, and as he
drew rein before it a portly host came forth to welcome him.

"In the king's name," said Richard.

"And whence art thou?" asked the landlord.

"On the king's business," said Richard. "See thou to it that I have a
fresh steed ready to bear me to London town with the dawn, lest harm

"We are all the king's men here," said the landlord heartily. "Canst
thou not give us the news of the day? What of the Scots? for thou art
from the north."

Richard was slowly, painfully dismounting, but at the same moment
another man, not in armor, was springing upon horseback to haste away.

"Yea," said Richard, "I will tell thee the news. I am Richard Neville of

"Ha! hold thou thy tongue, then, and come in!" sharply returned the host
of the inn, but he spoke in pure Saxon. "Do I not know that thou art
watched for? I am of Arden, and I knew thy father. By thy hand fell the
Club of Devon."

"Aye," said Richard, "but what peril is so near the gates of London?"

"Peril to thee that thou reach them not," replied his new friend.
"There be those who would know the king's secret counsel. Small would be
their care for thy throat. Eat well. Sleep well. Then ride thou on
before the light cometh."

In walked Richard, hardly able to stand, but a room was given him, and
here he took off his armor that he might bathe while a repast was
preparing. It refreshed him much, but when the landlord came in and
found him clad only in his doublet, he loudly exclaimed:

"On with thy mail, my Lord of Wartmont! Let thy bare sword lie by thee.
I think thy nag may die, but I have thee a better one ready. 'Tis my own
best mare, and she will stand saddled in the stall until thou comest for

"I am overworn for fighting," said Richard. "I will even trust my bow
rather than my sword or axe."

"As thou wilt," replied his host, but a serving man placed food upon the
table, and Richard began to do it full justice.

None other was admitted to the room, and Richard dealt fairly, telling
all news that he might tell.

"One thing know I," said the landlord. "The king's levies come in but
slowly, and he is sore displeased. Not this year will he cross to
France. If I hear truly, some of the great lords would rather march
against him than against Philip, and they look for side help from the

So many true tales creep in at a hostel from the lips of those who tarry
there, and the young messenger felt not only weary but half dispirited.
The landlord had now gone forth, and for a few moments Richard was
alone. The door was not fastened, however, and it opened without a sound
to let in a man whose footsteps were unheard until he had passed to the
table side.

"My son, peace be with thee! Thou art on the message of the king?"

Richard was startled, but he turned to look, and before him stood a
black friar in his long serge robe, with sandals only on his feet. A
thought came like a flash:

"I have heard that these holy men are with Philip of France rather than
with Edward of England. I must beware of him, for they are cunning men."

Nevertheless he reverently greeted the friar and bade him be seated.

"Tell me, my son, what tidings bringest thou from the north, and from
the saintly Archbishop of York?"

With all seeming freedom did Richard respond, but he mentioned not the
Knight of Liddesdale, nor the temper of the Scottish king. Cunning
indeed was the questioning, but of the letters, either way, naught was
said. Rather was there much loose chat of the things by the way, and
Richard declared:

"Little know I. I am but a youth."

"And well worn?" said the monk. "Now I will counsel thee, for thou well
mayest trust such as I am. Rest thou here in peace, and I will convey to
the king any matters from my old and dear friend and father in God, the
archbishop. High, indeed, is my reverence for that holy man. Deep is my
fealty to our good lord the king. Even give me thy message and I will

"Thanks to thee, reverend father," said Richard. "But there is no haste.
It were not well for thee to travel by night. Come thou in the morning,
for now I can talk no more. Thou mayest ride my own horse, if thou shalt
find him rested."

So the friar smiled, and gave Richard his blessing and departed, not
having given any name. That was what came to Richard's mind quickly, but
he said to himself:

"Who knoweth what name he would have given--his own, or another? I like
him not, but if the host be right, he will not ride far upon that nag.
Nor will he be overweighted with the king's errand. But I told him no
untruth. Never before was I cunning, but I must care for my head."

So said the landlord, shortly, when he came and heard, but he added:

"Not in the house shalt thou sleep. Come thou with me, my lord. I will
show thee a safer resting."

The darkness had fallen, and not even a lanthorn did they take with them
as they made their way out of the inn to the barns. None met them, and
they paused not until they were among hayricks in the rear.

"Yonder," said the landlord, pointing at a stable, "in the first stall
on the right is thy good steed. Ride hard, but kill her not, and send
her back to me. I would serve the king and beat his enemies. If thou
sleepest too long, I will arouse thee."

Down sank Richard upon a heap of hay, but his bow and arrows were with
him as well as his pennoned lance.

How long he slumbered he knew not, but he was feverish, restive, and his
ears were not so dull in sleep that they did not catch a faint clang of
steel. He woke, but he stirred not, and he lay listening.

"Put thou thy dagger deeply in below the lad's ear!" he heard one say.
"He must die without speech. Curse on that hostel keeper! I fear me he
hath betrayed us. We found not the king's messenger in the house. I
think he is somewhere here away. Search well, but be silent."

Only dim was the lanthorn they carried, but Richard could see three
men, and one of them wore mail, without a headpiece. He it was that
spoke, and his sword was in his hand. The other twain were in buff
coats, and of one of these his long, two-edged, dagger knife was already
drawn. They saw not yet the young bowman in the hay, but he was fitting
an arrow to the string.

"Ten yards! I must not miss. I will even smite him through the face,"
thought Richard.

Loudly twanged the bow, and out of the belt came a second arrow to the

[Illustration: Loudly twanged the bow.]

"Through his buff coat," said Richard aloud, and he sent the shaft
strongly, but he at the moment turned toward the stable, looking not
behind him. He heard a cry and a gasp, however, and hoarse groaning, and
a voice that exclaimed:

"God 'a' mercy, my Lord Bellamont is slain! So is the seneschal! Woe is
me! I will summon the two warders."

Uncertainly he lingered a brief space to examine well the fallen men,
and Richard made what haste he could.

"I can not run," he thought. "I hardly may climb to the saddle."

Nevertheless he did so, after leading out the goodly beast he was to
ride. Nothing was lacking in her appointments, and she knew the way to
the road-gate. Out spurred Richard, as loud shouts began to arise behind
him. He gained the highway, and he could discern beyond him only one
man on foot, in full armor.

"Halt, thou!" he shouted. "Stand, on thy life! I would have speech with

"In the king's name," shouted back Richard, "out of my way!"

"That will I not!" roared the knight. "Thou cub of Wartmont, draw rein!"

"Take that!" said Richard, spurring hard and striking with his lance.

'Twas a knight of skill in fence, however, and his target was over his
visor to receive the thrust, so that he did but measure his length upon
the road.

"Traitor!" shouted Richard. "Thou shalt answer for this to the king!"

"St. Andrew!" gasped the fallen man. "Has the boy escaped? John
Beauchamp knew whom to send. But I will pay him bitterly for this."

"My lord duke," exclaimed one who came running to him, "De Bellamont is
slain by the messenger!"

"Woe worth the day!" groaned the knight, arising slowly. "Back to the
castle! I must get me to Flanders in haste. All is lost! We will but say
that Bellamont was murdered by thieves at the inn."

On galloped Richard, glad to find how buoyant and free was the stride of
the landlord's favorite; but his perils were not ended. A full half
mile he rode, and he was thinking, "I will race no more lest I tire her
needlessly, and the road to London town is yet long," when far beyond he
dimly discerned the forms of mounted men and men on foot.

"'Tis but a lane here to the right," he said. "I care not whither it may
lead me, so I fall not in with yonder troop. They are too many."

Then came to him something of his woodcraft, and he did but go out of
the road before he turned to see what they might do. And he did wisely,
for with one accord the horsemen and the footmen vanished.

"They were at a crossroad," thought Richard. "They deem I have taken the
lane, and they have gone to cut me off at its ending. Now I will ride
past them."

'Twas a shrewd planning, for when he reached the crossroads only one man
could he discern, a man in the serge gown of a black friar, who stood
and waited.

"Halt, thou, my son!" commanded the friar. "Greater men than thou art
bid thee stand."

"In the king's name, I will not," said Richard, "but if thou needest a
nag, thou wilt find one at the inn, as I promised thee. A good beast,
truly, save that he is dead. So are some of the traitors who were there,
enemies of the king, as thou art. Fare thee not well!"

He struck spurs as he finished, and the friar was left to wait for whom
he might.

The gray dawn was showing in the east, and now it would seem that all
danger had been left behind.

"Little know I," thought Richard. "Had I not been forewarned, I had
trusted any great baron that he would forward the king's business. Now I
will trust not one, till I reach London gate."

The noon sun of that day was shining through high, stained windows into
the audience chamber of the king, in the Tower of London. It was not a
day for him to linger in any palace, and his brows were but black with
gloom as he listened to his counselors and to the affairs that were
brought before him. These were many and weighty, and few were they who
might dare to interrupt him; but he suddenly raised his head, and the
dark frown vanished from his face.

Back among the lords and gentlemen in waiting stood the Black Prince
himself, and a sign had passed from him to his royal sire. Still for a
few moments longer King Edward sat and listened and responded to those
around him, nor could they have gathered whether he were ill at ease or
not. Iron was he to all circumstances, and naught could seem to move him
much, save his ire, if that should be stirred.

And now he arose, and his dismissal of the assembly was but as if he
sent them to their noontide refections, but he himself refused other
attendance, and passed out by a private door with his son.

"Neville of Wartmont, from the archbishop?" sternly replied the king to
the first words of the prince. "Why tarried he on the road?"

"That he did not," said the prince. "He hath ridden four horses. One
wearied out, twain were ridden to death, and the last bore him to our
gate. He hath been sore beset on the way. He hath slain De Bellamont and
another, and he hath much to tell concerning treason. I bade him wait in
the southerly corridor and to have speech with none."

"It shall be well with him!" exclaimed the king. "Glad am I of the
Nevilles and the Beauchamps in a day when so few may be trusted. Bring
him to me in my retiring room."

Unhelmeted, but otherwise clad as he had ridden, Richard Neville was
quietly conducted to the apartment which so few were ever allowed to
enter, and he was brought face to face with the king.

"Nay, Richard, sit thee down," commanded Edward, for the wornout
messenger hardly could rise from his bended knees. "I would hear thee
slowly and long. Begin with thy going, and see that thou miss no place
nor any man, gentle or simple."

Richard began his tale, and there was no interruption until he came to
the message sent by the Earl of Arundel.

"I will remember him for that," he said. "A wise man and true. Speak

There was no other stopping until the story reached the York gate.

"Sir Robert," said the king, "then I may trust the Johnstones. It is
well. Come now to the archbishop. Nay, hold thy letters until thy words
are done."

There were questions concerning his Grace and some others, but most
careful were the king's inquiries relating to the Knight of Liddesdale.

"Now, thy ride hitherward," said the king, and Richard told it all. He
saw the eyes of the prince flash admiringly at the passage of arms, but
the king chafed sorely that he could not guess by whom Richard had been

"Thou didst well not to slay him," he decided, after a moment's
thinking. "If thou ever meetest him again, to know him by his voice or
otherwise, tell me."

When all the rest was said, to the London gate, the letters were
delivered, but the king as yet opened them not.

"Richard of Wartmont," he said, rising, "the Earl of Warwick waiteth for
thee without. Go thou to him. God send me alway as good a messenger!
Thou wilt win thy spurs in good season. When thou returnest from
Warwick, thou art of the king's household. I promise thee that thou
shalt be captain of thine own bowmen when we sail for France."

A proud youth was Richard, but so lame he walked not easily when the
prince led him to the door.

"I envy thee, I envy thee!" exclaimed the latter. "A joust of arms by
moonlight! A fray i' the night! And thou hast seen the Liddesdale! I
would give much to meet him."

Something of romance and of knight errantry, therefore, was in the hot
young head of the heir of the throne of England, and they twain parted
right friendly, as became such youths, who were to be companions in

In one moment more, upon Richard's shoulders were the strong hands of
the Earl of Warwick.

"Thou art as my son!" he exclaimed. "Thou art strengthening thy house.
These be times when a man should stand by his own."

Few were the words of their further greeting till they were by
themselves in the Warwick palace at London. Nor then was much converse,
until Richard had slept long and well. Afterward he was talked with by
his uncle as if he had been a grown man and a belted knight, but that
was on the morrow.

"Moreover," said the earl, at the end of all, "I have thy freedom from
the king. Thou mayest pause in Warwick to see thy mother. Then go thou
to Wartmont. Spend what time thou mayest among thy men, but be sure that
thy levy shall be full. So shalt thou keep the favor of the king. Then
thou wilt return to London town."

One day only was required, and beyond that was the homeward road. Oh,
but it was a bright even, full of happiness, when the young warrior--for
such he now was--once more was folded in the arms of the Lady Maud! Her
long, white hair fell over his shoulders like a veil, and she sobbed
most peacefully.

"Alas, my son," she said, "that I can not keep thee with me! Thou art
mine all! But obey thou the mandates of the king and of the earl."

"I must speed me to Wartmont, mother," said Richard. "I will return to
thee, but it will please me much to see the old tower again, and my
merry men."

There were two sunsets after that before he left the castle, and proud
was she at the manner of his treatment by the great men who were coming
and going. Any were ready to speak graciously to a youth who was known
to have won royal favor.

Only the third sun was going down thereafter, when Richard, in full
armor but alone, save a serving man with a pack beast heavily laden,
drew rein before the portal of his own castle. But all behind him the
village had risen as he rode through. Farmer men were also coming in,
while every cottage poured forth old and young.

The warders raised the portcullis and swung open the gate, while in the
tower the bell swung heels over head. So in the village church the
ringers were busy, to show their young lord their gladness at his safe
return. For there had been rumors of his going to the north, even unto
Scotland. He had slain men. He had served the king. He had done wondrous
well, and all his own were joyful.

Hardly could he dismount from his good steed, so close was the press
around him, but he bade the castle keepers make ready a goodly feast for
all comers.

"Guy the Bow!" he shouted suddenly, "art thou here?"

Not quite had he arrived, but up the street a galloway was coming at his
swiftest, and on his bare back rode the best archer of Arden. Down
sprang Richard now, and so did Guy, but there was no handshaking, for
Richard's arms were around the forester.

"Come thou within!" he shouted. "I have much to tell thee. Much to tell
the men. How goeth it with them all?"

"Right well, my Lord Richard," said Guy, greatly delighted. "I tell
thee, they came back loyal men. A fortnight's gay drilling with the
king's troops. Good fare. Wages as if in war. A new suit each. Then
marched they home, avowing they would bring each his man to double the

"I trust they may," said Richard. "I will have speech with them."

"But seest thou not," said Guy, "what the earl's masons are doing for
thy castle? I wonder at it, for the time hath been but brief. They work
fast, and the walls are nobly mended."

"I will see to that," said Richard eagerly, and they pushed on into the
keep, but not till he had spoken many good words to the villagers. Truly
the workmen had plied their tools with industry, but they had done more
than mend. Some well-skilled engineer of the earl had planned
enlargements and outer walls on the farther side. There were to be
bastions and stronger battlements and better storage within for the
provenders that might withstand a siege. It was a good fort, had said
the engineer, and in some dark day it might be worth the holding.

That evening was a feast of welcome and of news-telling, but with the
dawn both Guy and Richard rode away. Nor did any at the castle know
whither they had gone nor what they did while they were away. All the
while the masons and their helpers toiled on, and the stonework grew
apace. It was four days before the young lord of Wartmont returned to
see what they had done. A score of men on galloways came with him to the
edge of the forest, but there they drew rein, and it was Ben of Coventry
who spoke for them.

"Fare thee well, Lord Richard of Wartmont!" he said merrily. "We will
come at the king's summons, hear it when we may. Only this, that thou do
not get thyself slain too soon, for many of us will follow the Neville,
and not another."

If he had won them, so had they won him, and well did he love his
bowmen, as one loveth kith and kin.

Not long might be his further lingering at the castle nor on the road to
Warwick. There, indeed, he found not only his mother, but a message from
the earl, bidding him to London speedily. It was a grief, and yet she
was willing to have him go, for in it was his future good fortune, and
she kissed him farewell after a long talk about Wartmont, and the grange
in the forest, and the troop he was to command, although so young.

Two mounted spearmen went with him on the road to London, but none who
met him questioned him for harm. It was as if the roads were as safe and
peaceful as was their seeming; but Richard knew better than that. Even
at the London gate he found himself turning quickly in his saddle to
gaze after one who passed him.

"'Twas a scowling face," he thought. "Where have I met that knight? He
carrieth his bridle arm in a sling, as if he were wounded there. Did I
not smite a left arm with mine axe on the road? I will watch for that

So he told the prince when they came together, but there was wisdom of
kingcraft in the answer given.

"O true and loyal heart, good comrade," spoke the prince, "if thou
thinkest thou knowest him, be sure that thou know him not. If he meet
thee, greet him well, as if he were thy kinsman. 'Tis ever well for a
man to know his foemen. 'Tis ever ill to let his foemen know that he
knoweth them. Safety is in secrecy until the sword is out of the

"I will obey," said Richard, "but my blade will be out quickly if any
seem to threaten thee or my royal master."

The prince inquired with care concerning the archery levy, and he seemed
well pleased, but he had somewhat more of counsel for his companion in

"Wert thou ever on shipboard?" he asked. "Hast thou been ever at sea?"

"Never saw I the salt water," responded Richard. "I have but looked upon
the masts in the Thames, but I can row a boat."

"A wherry?" said the prince. "There will be no wherry fighting. Even
now we are sweeping the French pirate craft from the Channel. Do thou
this: at every hour of thy liberties haunt thou the riverside. Read thou
each craft thou seest, great and small. I will get thee an order to
board any in the king's errand. Talk with seafaring men, and learn the
points of shipping and of the manner of all fights at sea. Go not out of
the harbor, however, for thou mayest not at any day be beyond recall if
thou art needed as a messenger. Thou art of the king's pages. The earl
will see to thy equipment, for thou mayest often serve at court and at
royal banquets."

Gladly did he hear of that appointment. None of lower rank than his own
might carry a dish or hand a napkin at the royal table, or stand behind
any of the king's guests in the banquet hall. But hardly less than an
earl might deliver the king's own cup or carve or hand for him.

Much teaching of these matters did Richard receive thereafter from the
Earl of Warwick, and likewise one of his near friends and tutors was the
good Earl of Arundel, brave knight and skillful captain, fitted to lead
an army. Noble ladies also smiled upon him, for he was well favored and
of goodly stature, and he knew somewhat of music. Even the queen herself
spoke graciously to him before long. Nevertheless did he walk always
cautiously, knowing more and more of the bitter jealousies and
heartburnings which ever beset a court, and of the feuds of houses, and
of the plots and cunnings, and of the endless rivalries for place and
power and the favor of the king.

Long hours were to be spent each day in the hall of arms of the Warwick
palace. There were duties of drill and exercise among the soldiery, that
he might know how to work maneuverings on a field or placings on a
march, or the choosing and the putting in order of a camp. He learned
also of forts and of defenses, and of attacks and of artful dealings
with foemen by night or day.

"I will make thee fitted to command thy men," said Earl Warwick. "Thou
shalt not go into battle untrained. We learn that Philip of France is
taking no such pains with his musterings. He will trust to his counts
and barons and to his allies. He will bring against us a multitude, and
then he will see what Edward of England will do with his motley array."

Greater and greater grew Richard's confidence, like that of other men,
in the war wisdom of his king, but he marveled much from time to time at
the words and the deep thinking of his friend the prince. He could speak
several tongues, and prudently, and he was notable for his feats of
skill and strength in the royal hall of arms.

It was not at first that Richard had leisure to learn much of the sea,
save in listening to the talk of knights and captains who had served on
shipboard. But he forgot not the counsel of the prince, and in due
season he was busy with his new learning.

"Hard work," he said at the beginning. "Even the ropes have names, and
every rope hath a place of its own. So have the spars and the sails.
'Tis another tongue to win, and the sailors are not like our inland men.
They believe, too, that a man who liveth not on the sea is of small
account. They have more respect for a good sailor than for a lord, if so
be his lordship knoweth not how to win a sea fight. But they believe
that our king is an admiral. What pirates they are in their talk! I have
met no sailor yet who thinketh it ill to capture and plunder any foreign
craft that he may encounter out of sight of land."

That was the fashion of those times, for all the open seas were as
disputed territory, and the best sailors of those waters adjacent to the
coasts of the British isles were but as the grandsons of the vikings.
Not at all as yet had they abandoned the wild traditions of their roving

Ever and anon came tidings from the north counties, but such as came to
the public ear were favorable to a continued peace with Scotland; only
that all men knew that a Scottish peace was only a war asleep, and was
to be kept with the English sword halfway out of the scabbard.

From the Continent of Europe came no peace at all, but from every
quarter was heard the clash of arms or the sound of military
preparation. Embassies came and went continually, and Richard saw many
men whose names were of note in the lands beyond the sea. He studied
them well, and he inquired as he might of their deeds in camp and field
and council, but none did he see who seemed to him the equals of his own
great captains.

Slowly wore on the winter, and the spring went by. His mother came to
court with the Countess of Warwick, and Richard was proud to see her in
the throne room, unsurpassed by any dame therein for her stately beauty
of form and face, and for the sweet graciousness with which she greeted

'Twas a fine, fair morn in June when Richard at last was summoned in
haste by the Earl of Warwick.

"Grand news, my young kinsman!" shouted the stout earl. "The die is
cast! The war with France hath come! Be thou ready!"

"Ready am I," said Richard gladly. "But I must bring my bowmen with me."

"Go thou not, then," said the earl. "Send but thy token by thy own
messengers. Bid all the archers of Arden to speed them to Portsmouth in
the king's name. The ships are even now gathering rapidly. Thousands of
men are in perfect training, and the new levies are in hand to learn
the way and the will of the king. Thither wilt thou go thyself. Bid thy
mother a long farewell, and haste thee. I trust that when thou seest her
again thou wilt wear golden spurs."

"Please God," said Richard, "I will strive to earn the good will of the
king. I would not be knighted by any lesser hand than his. Canst thou
tell me where is my noble friend Sir Walter de Maunay?"

"Somewhere in Guienne," said the earl, "and the king's enemies there may
roundly will that he were somewhere else. Now up and out, Richard
Neville! Thou wilt get thy orders further from Geoffrey Harcourt, at the
port. I go to Warwick first, and then I come. The days of this mock
peace are ended, and may God give his blessing to the armies of England
and to our good lord the king! Amen."



"Thou art no seaman!" laughed the prince. "I think thou wouldst learn to
love the sea, as do all true English hearts. Go thou on board forthwith.
The admiral hath given thee one Piers Fleming for thy shipmaster."

Profoundly respectful was the answer of Richard Neville, for his friend
was also his prince and his commander; he said, "'Tis but a brief
passage, and there will be no fighting."

"Count not on that," replied the prince. "We are warned of many French
rovers, from Calais and elsewhere, on the watch for stragglers. Word
cometh that the king is safely at La Hogue, in Normandy, and not, as
some think, in Guienne. There will soon be enough of fighting on land,
but watch thou for a chance to gain honor on the sea. We must win our
spurs before we return to Merry England."

The two young men, neither of them yet eighteen, were standing on the
height above Portsmouth, gazing down upon the harbor and out upon the
sea. In all directions there were swarms of vessels of all sizes,
sailing or at anchor; for it was said that King Edward the Third had
gathered over a thousand ships to convey his army across the Channel for
his quarrel with Philip of France.

It was the largest English fleet yet assembled, and the army going on
board was also the best with which any English king had ever put to sea.
It consisted of picked men only. Of these, four thousand were
men-at-arms, six thousand were Irish, twelve thousand were Welsh; but
the most carefully trained and disciplined part of the force consisted
of ten thousand bowmen. During a whole year had Edward and his son and
his generals toiled to select and prepare the men and the weapons with
which they were to meet the highly famed chivalry of the Continent. An
army selected from a nation of perhaps four millions of people was to
contend with an army collected from France with her twenty millions, and
from such allies of hers as Germany and Bohemia, re-enforced by large
numbers of paid mercenaries. Among these latter were the crossbowmen of
Genoa sold to Philip by the masters of that Italian oligarchy. Edward's
adventure had a seeming of great rashness, for already it was reported
that the French king had mustered a hundred thousand men. Full many a
gallant cavalier in armor of proof may well have wondered to hear,
moreover, that Edward the Third, accounted the foremost general of his
time, proposed to meet superior numbers of the best lances of Europe
with lightly armored men on foot. They knew not yet of the new era that
was dawning upon the science of war. Edward and his bowmen were to teach
the world more than one new lesson before that memorable campaign was
over. Before this, he had shown what deeds might be wrought upon the sea
by ships prepared and manned and led by himself. He had so crippled the
naval power of his enemies that there was now no hostile fleet strong
enough to prevent his present undertaking, although Philip had managed
to send out some scores of cruisers to do whatever harm they could.

The prince was clad in a full suit of the plain black armor from which
his popular name had been given him. His visor was up, and his resolute,
intelligent face wore a dignity beyond his years.

The stature of the young hero of England was nearly that of full-grown
manhood; and if Richard was not quite so tall, he was both older and
stronger than when he had faced the Club of Devon in the village street
of Wartmont.

A brilliant company of men-at-arms stood around them, many of whom were
famous knights and mighty barons. Richard was now receiving his final
instructions, and in a few minutes more he bowed low and departed.

Halfway down the hill he was awaited by a party of stalwart-looking
men, and to one of these he said:

"Haste thee now, Guy the Bow! Let us have the sails up and get out of
the harbor. Almost the entire army is already on board."

"Aye, my lord," responded the bowman; "I have been all over our ship.
The sailors are good men and true; but I like not the captain, and we
shall be crowded like sheep in a pen."

"'Tis but for a day," said Richard, "and the weather is good. We are
warned of foes by the way."

"We shall be ready for them," said Guy; then he added, "A page from my
Lord the Earl of Warwick brought this."

It was a letter, and quickly it came open.

"It is from my mother! The saints be with her!" exclaimed Richard. "She
is well. I will read it fully after we are on board. Thanks to the good

Down the hill they went together, and on to a long pier, at the outer
end of which was moored a two-masted vessel apparently of about four
hundred tons' burden--a large vessel for those days--very high at bow
and stern, but low amidships, as if she were planned to carry a kind of
wooden fort at each end.

She was ready to cast off as soon as the young commander came on board;
and he was greeted by loud cheers from her crowded decks.

"She is thronged to the full," said Richard.

The sailing-master stood before him. He was a square-built man, of
middle age, with a red face and small, greenish-gray eyes. His beard and
hair were closely cropped and stiff; he wore a steel body-coat and
headpiece, but his feet were bare. An unpleasant man to look upon was
Piers Fleming; and behind him stood one not more than half as old, but
of the same pattern, so like he needed not to say that he was the
master's son, as well as mate of the Golden Horn.

"The wind is fair, sir," said Fleming. "We go out with the tide, but a
fog is coming up the Channel."

"Cast off," said Richard. "Yonder on the height is the prince with his
lords and gentlemen, watching the going."

"Aye, aye!" responded Fleming. "He shall see the Golden Horn go out."

She cleared the harbor in gallant style, with her sails full spread,
while Richard busied himself among his men. The crew was thirty strong,
mostly Englishmen.

"I have but twenty men-at-arms," said Richard to himself at the end of
his inspection, "but there are two hundred and more of bowmen, and over
a hundred Irish pikemen, besides the Welshmen. What bones those Irish
are made with! I will serve out axes among them without delay. Fine
chopping should be done by such brawny axemen as they."

"Richard Neville," whispered an eager voice at his elbow, "I pray thee
hearken. One of the sailors, a Londoner, understandeth Flemish. He hath
heard the captain and his son have speech with one on the pier. There is
treason afoot, my Lord. Watch thou, and I will pass the word among the

"Tell all," said Richard, with a hot flush on his face; but there was
little enough to tell. It could be but a warning, a cause for suspicion
and for care.

"Guy the Bow," said Richard, at the end of their brief talk, "seek among
the sailors for a true Englishman fit to take the helm if I smite off
the head of this Piers Fleming. Let thy man keep near me if a foe

Yet stronger blew the south wind, and, as Piers had said, with it came a
thick, bluish mist that hid the ships from one another and made it
impossible for any landsman on board of them to more than guess in what
direction he might be going. It was therefore not thought of by Richard
as of any importance that the Golden Horn was speeding full before the
wind. She was going northerly, instead of taking a tack toward La Hogue.
Right with her blew the mist, and hour after hour went by. Several
times hoarse hails were heard and answered, but all were in the hearty
voices of loyal Englishmen, and Richard said to one of his men-at-arms:

"We are with the fleet, and all is well."

Most of them had put aside their armor, as being too heavy to wear
needlessly during so sultry a day; for it was the 2d of July, 1346, and
the summer was a warm one; the bowmen and pikemen also had taken off
their heavy buff coats and laid aside their arms.

But among the groups passed some of Richard's Longwood archers, talking
low; and all the while, without attracting attention, sheaves of arrows,
extra spears, with poleaxes and battle-axes and shields, were being
handed up from the store of weapons in the hold.

Piers Fleming was at the helm, and near him stood his son. There were
grim smiles on their faces while they glanced up at the rigging and out
into the mist, and noted the compass and the direction of the wind.

"Son Hans," at last muttered the old man, "it can not be long now. Some
of the Calais craft are sure to be hereabout. We will lay this tubful of
English pirates alongside right speedily, if so be it is a large ship of
good strength."

"They will be caught napping," growled Hans. "'Twill be a fine prize,
for the hold is packed to tightness."

"Well bloweth the wind," said Piers, "and the Golden Horn hath now no

At the forward end of the low waist of the ship stood Richard among his

"Ye do know well," he said, "and all must know, that they would show no
quarter. Every man fighteth for his life, for who is taken goeth
overboard, dead or alive."

"Aye," responded Ben o' Coventry; "'tis a cutthroat business. I think
there would be small room for any Frenchman on the Golden Horn, if one
should come aboard."

"Room enough in the sea," said the red-haired O'Rourke, who was captain
of the Irish; and he turned then to talk to his gigantic kerns in their
own tongue. So did a man named David Griffith talk to a throng of
broad-shouldered Welshmen who were also on board, armed with short
swords, daggers, and spears or darts. Of the latter several bundles now
lay amidships.

Back toward the stern strode Richard slowly, and after him, as if they
were drifting about without special intention, strolled three
rugged-looking seamen from the old port of London.

The waves ran not too high for a gay summer cruise, and the Golden Horn
rode them steadily. She was a fast sailer, for all her breadth of beam.
Suddenly her course was changed, and her sails swung in a little; for a
command from Captain Fleming sent men to haul on the sheets. Just then a
long-drawn vibrating whistle had been heard, and it sounded thrice, from
the very direction the ship was taking.

Richard stood now on the high after-deck, and a wave of his hand could
be seen by his men below. There was little apparent stir among them, but
buff coats were quickly donned, bows were strung, sheaves of arrows were
cut open and distributed, while the men-at-arms made ready, and the
Irish made sure of their grip upon pikes and axes.

"We will speak that ship, my Lord Neville," said Fleming, very
respectfully. "I have orders to report all craft we meet at sea."

"Aye, speak to her," said Richard; but he loosened his sword in its
sheath, and he knew that Guy the Bow had an arrow on the string.

Loudly came a hail from out of the fog; the speaker was a Frenchman, and
hardly had his utterance ceased before it was followed by a tumult of
fierce, triumphant cheering on board the strange vessel.

Piers Fleming sent back a hoarse reply, speaking French; and then he
turned to Richard.

"She cometh, my lord!" he exclaimed, as if much affrighted. "'Tis one of
King Philip's great cruisers. I have bidden them that we surrender."

He was steering straight for the huge vessel which now swept toward
them, looking larger through the cloud of vapor; but ere he made reply
Richard's sword was drawn.

"Thou art a traitor!" he shouted. "Jack of London, take thou the helm!"

"Never!" cried Fleming. "Resistance were madness! We are almost
alongside of her. Ho, Monsieur de Gaines! We surrender!"

Richard's sword flashed like lightning, but even before it fell had sped
the arrow of Guy the Bow. The strong hands of the ready English mariner
caught the tiller as the traitorous sailing-master fell gasping to the
deck. His son Hans had been standing hard by him, pike in hand. He was
taken by surprise for a moment, but he made a quick thrust at Richard.
There had been deadly peril in that thrust, but that a poleaxe in the
hand of an Irishman came down and cleft the traitor to the eyes.

The great French ship came on majestically, but Richard had given
careful orders beforehand, and the Golden Horn did not avoid closing
with her.

"Let them board us," he had said, and Ben o' Coventry had replied to
him: "Aye, my Lord 'o Wartmont, and we will slay as many as we may upon
our own decks before we finish upon theirs."

So little thought had the English but that they should win, no matter
who came.

Louder and louder now arose the exulting yells and shouts from the
swarms of armed men surging to and fro upon the fore and after forts and
in the waist of La Belle Calaise, as her grapnels were thrown out to
fasten upon the Golden Horn. She was much the taller and larger vessel,
and even her tops and rigging were full of men.

Alas for these! Had they been so many squirrels in the trees of
Longwood, they could not have dropped faster as the English archers
plied their deadly bows. Of the latter, too, some were in the cuplike
tops of the Golden Horn, and their shafts were seeking marks among the
French knights and men-at-arms. It was a fearful moment, for the
boarders were ready as the two ships crashed against each other.

"Steady, men! Stand fast!" shouted Richard. "Let them come on, but slay
them as they come! Take the knights first; aim at the armholes. Waste no
shaft. St. George for merry England! For the king and for the prince!"

"For the king and for Richard of Wartmont!" shouted Ben o' Coventry.

Twang went his bow as he spoke, and a tall knight in full armor pitched
heavily forward upon the deck of the Golden Horn, shouting "St. Denis!"
as he fell. His sword had been lifted, and the gray goose shaft had
taken him in the armpit. He would strike no more.

The Frenchmen were brave enough, and they did not seem to be dismayed
even by the dire carnage which was thinning them out so rapidly. The
worst thing against them was that all this was so entirely unexpected.
They had counted upon taking the English ship by surprise, aided by the
treachery of Piers Fleming and his son. The Golden Horn had been steered
by them many a long mile out of her proper course, and the same trick
may have been played upon others of King Edward's transports; for he had
been compelled to employ sailors of all the nationalities along the
Channel and the North Sea, excepting a few that favored the Frenchmen.

The fighting force on La Belle Calaise was not only double the number of
that on the Golden Horn, but it contained five times as many
men-at-arms. There the advantage ended, however; for the rest of it
consisted of a motley mob of all sorts, woefully inferior in arms,
discipline, and even in bodily strength to the chosen fighters who were
commanded by Richard of Wartmont.

For a few minutes he had kept his post on the high deck at the stern,
that he might better see how the fight was going. Then, however, with
his score of men in full armor, he went down in the waist, stepping
forward to meet the onset of the French knights who dashed in to avenge
their fallen leader. He had not been their only commander, evidently,
for now in their front there stood a knight whose splendid arms and
jeweled crest marked him as a noble of high rank.

"God and St. Denis!" he shouted. "Down with the dogs of England!"

"St. George and King Edward! I am Richard Neville of Wartmont. Who art

Their swords were crossing as the Frenchman responded, "Antoine, Count
de Renly! Down with thee, thou of Wartmont! I will give an account of
thee to thy boy Black Prince."

"I am another boy, as he is," was the reply from the young lord; for his
antagonist was certainly not taller than himself, and they were not
badly matched.

All around them the fierce _mêlée_ went on. Arrows whizzed; the spears
of the Welshmen flew; there was hard hammering of sword and axe on helm
and shield. One fact came out which men of knightly degree might
otherwise have doubted. It was seen that a strong Irishman, with only
his buff coat for armor or for weight, could swing a weapon more freely
and with better effect than could a brave knight a head shorter, of
lighter bones, weighed down by armor of proof and a steel-faced shield.
Fierce was the wild Irish war-cry with which these brawny men of Ulster
and Connaught rushed forward, and their swinging blows were as the
stroke of death. Shields were dashed aside, helmets and mail were cloven
through. Slain they were, a number of them; but they had not fallen
uselessly--there were not now so many Frenchmen in full armor.

Richard and De Renly were skilled swordsmen, and for a time neither of
them seemed able to gain any advantage. The Frenchman was a knight of
renown, however, and it angered him to be checked by a mere youngster, a
boy, a squire only, from the household of the Black Prince. He lost his
temper, and pushed forward rashly, forgetting that he was not now upon
firm land. The wind still blew, and the waves were lifting the ships,
grinding them one against the other with shocks that were staggering.
There was blood upon the deck at the spot where the mailed foot of the
count was pressed. He slipped as he struck, and the sword of the English
boy smote hard upon his crest.

A rush, another slip, another blow, and De Renly lay upon the deck, with
the point of Richard's blade at the bars of his helmet.

"Yield thee, De Renly!" he shouted, "rescue or no rescue. Yield, or thou

[Illustration: "Yield thee, De Renly!" he shouted.]

"I yield!" came hoarsely back; "but myself only, not my ship."

"Yield thee!" said Richard, taking away his sword. "We will care for
thy boat."

Loudly laughed the O'Rourke at Neville's triumph; and he smote down a
man-at-arms right across the fallen De Renly.

"Hout, my Lord of Wartmont!" he shouted. "Thou art a good sword! On,
Ulster and Connaught! Ireland forever! Hew them down, ye men of the
fens! We have a doughty captain!"

Even in that boast it was shown that some of Richard's men--not those of
Longwood--had doubted him on account of his youth, in spite of the tale
of his victory over Clod the Club.

The rush of the French boarders was checked, but not repelled, so many
they were and so desperate; but they met now another force. A cunning
man was Ben o' Coventry, and fit to be a captain; for he had drawn away
a number of Welsh and Irish and some bowmen, for whom there was no room
in the waist of the ship. He led them to the prow, which was almost bare
of men, save a few archers. It had swung away at first, but now it was
hugging closely the high forecastle of La Belle Calaise.

"Forward, my men!" he shouted. "It is our turn to board! Slay as ye go!"

They rushed against a cluster of mere sailor-men, half armed, who had
been posted there to keep them out of the way. They were hardly
soldiers, although they were fierce enough; and they were mere cattle
before the rush of Ben o' Coventry and his mighty followers. The
Welshmen spared none of them; and soon the French in the deep waist of
La Belle Calaise, pressing forward to reinforce their half-defeated
boarders, were suddenly startled by a deadly shower of darts and arrows
that fell upon them from their own forecastle. Then, as they turned in
dismay, they shouted to their comrades upon the Golden Horn:

"Back! back! lest our own ship be lost. The English have boarded us!"

There was a moment of hesitation; and so at that critical moment no help
came to the remaining Frenchmen in the waist of the Golden Horn. They
were even outnumbered, since all the archers in the wooden forts fore
and aft, twanging their deadly bows almost in safety, counted against
the bewildered boarders. No more knights came down from La Belle
Calaise. The common men were falling like corn before the reaper.

"On!" shouted Richard. "It is our fight now! Short work is good work!"

The O'Rourke yelled something in the old Erse tongue, and his giants
followed him as he fought his way to the side of Richard Neville; but
David Griffith summoned his remaining Welshmen, and was followed also by
two score of Kentish bowmen, as he hastened forward to join Ben o'
Coventry and his daring fellows on the forecastle of La Belle Calaise.
It was time, for there were good French knights yet left to lead in a
desperate attempt to dislodge them. It was, however, as if the deck or
roof of that wooden fort, made with bulwarks and barricades to protect
it against all enemies of France, had been just as well prepared to be
held by an English garrison. Moreover, all manner of weapons had been
put there, ready for use; and among these were pikes and lances with
which the Welshmen could thrust at the men who tried to climb the
ladders from the waist, while the archers shot for dear life,

"My Lord Beaumont," shouted one of the French men-at-arms, "all of our
boarders on the English ship are down or taken. Not one is left. Here
come the Neville and his tigers. God and St. Denis! We are lost!"

"Courage!" returned Beaumont. "Fight on; we shall overcome them yet!"

But a heavy mace, hurled by a big Cornishman on the forecastle, at that
moment smote him on the helm. He fell stunned, while his dismayed
comrades shrank back from the storm of English arrows and from the mad
rush of Richard and his men-at-arms and the O'Rourke and his Irish

The French were actually beaten in detail, their greater numbers at no
time doing them any good.

In each part of the fight they had had fewer men at the front, and the
few that now remained fit to fight seemed to be in a manner surrounded.

"Quarter, if thou wilt surrender!" cried Richard to a knight with closed
visor, with whom he was crossing swords.

"Quarter!" came faintly back, "Surrender!" and then he sank upon one
knee, for he was wounded by an arrow in the thigh.

"All good knights yield themselves to me!" again shouted Richard in
French. "They who hold out are lost!"

More than one of them still fought on in a kind of despair, but others
laid down their swords at the feet of Richard. As for any other of the
defenders of La Belle Calaise, it was sad to seek them; for the Golden
Horn had no man left on board of her save Jack of London at the helm,
and the English pikes were everywhere plying mercilessly.

"Leave not one!" shouted the O'Rourke hoarsely to his kerns. "Not one of
us had they spared if we had been taken. Let Lord Wartmont care for his
gentlemen. They will all pay ransom."

So quickly all was over; and all that was left of the force which that
morning had crowded the deck under the brave Monsieur de Gaines was
less than half of his brave gentlemen, hardly one of them without a

The Sieur de Beaumont had now recovered his senses; but as he arose and
looked around him, he exclaimed:

"Lord Richard of Wartmont, I would thou wouldst show me the mercy to
throw me into the sea. How shall I face my king after such a disgrace as

"'Twas not thy fault, brave sir," said Richard courteously. "It is the
fortune of war. Say to thy king from me, that thy ship was lost when the
Comte de Gaines tumbled so many of his force into the Golden Horn. Thou
mayest say that he knew not how ready were we to meet him."

"The traitorous Fleming----" began the count, but Richard interrupted

"Not traitor to thee," he said. "He is dead indeed; and his trap caught
not us, but thee and thy commander. How art thou now, Sieur de Renly? I
thank thee for slipping well, else thy good sword had done thee better

Like a true gentleman, the brave youth spoke kindly to them all, and
their hurts were cared for. The several ransoms for each knight were
agreed upon; but they had now no further need for armor, and they were
soon appareled only in clothing of wool and linen, or silk and leather,
as the case might be.

As for the ships, they had sustained small injury in the fight. Now
that it was over, the grapplings were cast off, and each rode the waves
on its own account. It was hard to provide skilled crews for both, but a
shift was made by dividing the seamen, and by such selections as could
be had from among the soldiery. Jack of London was made the sailing
master of the Golden Horn, and a seafaring man from Hull was in like
manner put in charge of La Belle Calaise.

There was now no crowding of men upon either ship; but there was much
care to be given to so many scores of wounded.

The fog had cleared away, and the Golden Horn, with her prize, could
make a pretty straight course for La Hogue, thanks to a change in the

"Art thou hurt at all?" asked Guy the Bow, when he next met his young

"Nay," said Richard, "unless bruises and a sore head may count for
hurts. But we have lost a third part of our force, killed or wounded."

"Well that we lost not all, and our own lives," said Guy. "'Twas close
work for a while. Glad am I that our Lady of Wartmont is to hear no bad

"Aye," said Richard; "and now I will tell thee, thou true man, when I
write to her I will bear thee witness that to thee and Ben o' Coventry
is it due that she hath not lost her son."

"I would like her to think well of me," said Guy, smiling with pleasure;
"but I pray thee speak well to the prince of the O'Rourke and his
long-legged kerns, and of David Griffith. They deserve well of the

"Trust me for that," said Richard. "And now, ere the dark hour, I must
read my mother's letter. Truth to tell, I could not so much as look at
it while I was watching that traitor Fleming, and preparing for what I
thought might come. I have already thanked all the men and visited my
prisoners. Brave ransom will some of them pay."

"And the prize money for us all," added Guy, with a chuckle. "We may be
rich when we return from France."

So he went forward, and Richard sat down to his letter, to read the good
words his mother sent him, and to dream of Wartmont and of Longwood, and
of the old days before the war.

Then there was sleeping, save for those who could not sleep for their
hurts or their misfortunes. It was well on in the forenoon of the
following day before the Golden Horn and her captive companion sailed
gayly in among the forest of masts that had gathered at La Hogue.

Only a short hour later the young Lord of Wartmont, with some of his
chosen followers and those of his prisoners that were highest in rank,
stood in an open space among the camps of King Edward's army.

The king himself was there, and with him were earls and knights and
captains not a few. By his side stood the brave Black Prince; but it was
to the king that Richard and those who were with him bent the knee,
while the young man made his report of the taking of La Belle Calaise.

He was modest enough; but the bright eyes of the prince kindled finely
as he heard it, and he said in a low voice to his father:

"Did I not tell thee I was right to intrust a ship to him?"

"The boy did well," said the king dryly, for he was a man hard to
please. "Thou Richard of Wartmont, honor to thee and thy merry men all!
Thou and the prince are to win spurs of knighthood, side by side, ere we
sail again for England. Sir Geoffrey of Harcourt will bid thee where to

Richard bent low, and rose to his feet. Sir Geoffrey stepped forward to
speak to the Sieur de Renly and the other captured knights. The archers
and men-at-arms of Richard's command stood still where they were,
waiting for orders; but the Black Prince beckoned Richard aside to get
from him the full particulars of a fray so gallantly fought and won.

"I envy thee," he said, "thy hand-to-hand close with De Renly. Thou hast
fine war fortune with thee; and the king is ever better pleased than he
will tell."

It must have been so, for at that moment King Edward was turning to a
noble-looking knight who stood near him:

"Cousin John Beauchamp of Warwick," he said, "thou mayest be proud of
thy young kinsman. Those of thy blood are apt to make good captains."

"Thanks, sire," responded the Earl of Warwick, flushing with pride. "I
trust there may never fail thee plenty of stout Beauchamps and Nevilles
to stand in the front rank of the gallant men of England. But I pray
thee, mark how the boy handled his archers and his Irishmen----"

"And how he watched the traitors and trapped the treason," laughed a
gray-bearded warrior at his side. "He hath his wits about him."

"Yea, Norfolk," said the king with a gloom upon his face; "the men who
are to defend England and defeat her enemies must watch against treason
by night and by day. 'Twas a Fleming that set the trap for the Golden
Horn; and the men who are to march with us against Philip of Valois are
all from our own islands. Not a man below a man-at-arms can even speak

So the king's wisdom spoke for itself, while Sir Geoffrey of Harcourt
and the prince sent Richard Neville and his brave men to the camp where
they were to pass the night; for the whole army was to march away next



The exact place of the landing of King Edward had been at a harbor
called St. Vast, northerly from Cape La Hogue, and the King of France
believed him still at sea, on his way to Gascony or Guienne, that there
he might strike a blow for the sadly beset forces of the Earl of Derby.
There was no need for camping long on the shore that the English forces
might be put into good marching order. Even as they landed their proper
divisions were assigned them. When the next morning sun arose, it was
known to all that the king had named the Earl of Arundel his constable,
to abide with himself; also that he had named the Earl of Warwick and
Sir Geoffrey of Harcourt marshals of the army. The left wing was to be
commanded on the march by Sir Geoffrey, and the right wing by the earl.
All who were to be with the earl, however, were moving along the coast,
southerly, in the morn. In like manner went the fleet, taking many
prizes of armed ships and merchantmen.

It was the earl's first errand to take or to disable a place called
Barfleur, where was a very strong castle, that from it might come forth
no harm to any English force to be left at the St. Vast landing.

Side by side rode Richard and his uncle, and the earl questioned him
much of his doings on the Golden Horn.

"Thou hast done well," he said, "but I like it not that thou art with
me. It were better thou shouldst ride with Harcourt. Seest thou not
that, as we are ordered now, he will lead the van and I the rear guard?
I shall take these towns and many another, but he will be first at Caen,
and that is the prize of Normandy."

"I hear 'tis a great place," said Richard, "but I like it that to us it
is given to strike the first blow in France."

Even as he spoke a mounted scout came galloping back to report that
Barfleur was in sight, and that English war ships were sailing into the

The earl drew rein and raised his baton, uttering no word; but a hundred
or so of men-at-arms who were behind him shouted loudly and dashed by,
spurring toward the front.

"Thy bowmen next!" shouted the earl to Richard. "Follow the knights
closely. The pikemen are already far ahead. If it be God's will, we will
sweep the town in an hour."

Hotly rushed Richard's blood as he pressed on, followed by three
hundred of the archers of Arden. Hardly he knew what time had passed
after that until he found himself halted to watch while axemen battered
at a town gate and pikemen placed ladders to mount a wall. His archers
meantime were making targets of whoever might show himself among the
wall battlements.

"Is this the way a town is taken?" he exclaimed. "I deemed there were
more delay. There go the good knights, up the ladders and through the
gate! 'Twas but badly made, to be broken in so soon. On, men of Arden!
Follow me!"

Follow they did, and some good archery work befell them after they
entered the town, but the English were even too many for the capture and
pillage of so small a place.

"It was no battle, my Lord," Richard said to the earl two hours later,
as they met in the great square in the center of the town. "But we have
taken Barfleur."

"That have we," said the earl, "and that is all. Look yonder!"

Across long rows of intervening houses gazed the young captain as the
earl pointed. There was a rocky height, and upon it arose the towers and
the turreted walls of a great castle.

"I see," said Richard. "It hath a strong look. How shall we take it?"

"Not at all," replied the earl marshal, laughing. "He who holdeth it
for the King of France refused to yield it, and well he may. We could
hammer at it in vain all summer. All the need is to hem in the garrison
somewhat by the taking of the town. The English army will march on and
waste no time. Take thou therefore a lesson in good war craft. Thy king
will make no blunder of throwing away strength upon mere stone work on a
hill calling itself a castle."

"I will bear it in mind," said Richard. "I would have thought it must
needs be taken."

Loud laughed the earl marshal, but already his officers were recalling
the troops from the sacking of the town, that all his force might turn
again to rejoin the army of the king, that had been marching northward.

Stretched out along the roads and levels, but moving steadily, were all
the divisions of the forces of King Edward. The last of them, with much
munition of war, was even now disembarking from the shipping at St.
Vast, for it taketh care and time to transfer horses and matters of
weight from a deck to a beach. When the night fell all camps were made
with care, as became good generalship, although there was fair certainty
that no considerable armed force of foemen could be near at hand.

Morn came, and in its first hours Richard was galloping on to the center
with a writing from the Earl of Warwick to the king, but to the prince
was it delivered, and he read.

"This to my father," said he heartily; "but I am glad that the earl
should please to have thee with me and with Harcourt. And thou hast seen
a town taken? Never the same saw I, and I know not how I am to win spurs
tramping these roads without a French man-at-arms in sight!"

Nevertheless he went to the king and came again, and they twain rode on
together talking of the war.

"The earl sendeth word," said the prince, "that he will waste no time
nor men in vainly besieging the castle of Cherbourg. We need it not, but
we shall sack Carenton before to-morrow night."

"Knoweth the king," asked Richard, "at what place mustereth the host of

"Our last news," replied the prince, "putteth Philip in Aquitaine, full
far away from Paris. Were the king so minded he could get there first."

"And take the capital city of France?" exclaimed Richard. "That were
grand! We shall press onward, then?"

"That will we," said the prince, "but not to take a city we can not
hold. Small good were it to be shut up there by half the hosts of
Europe. But we can draw away the French from Derby's front, and we can
win Calais."

"Win Calais by a march through Normandy?" sprang from the lips of
Richard. "I see not well how that can be. What were Calais, compared
with Paris?"

"It is the sorest thorn in the side of England, saith my father,"
replied the prince. "Even the Channel and the British seas are but half
our own while that harbor is a refuge for the fleets of France and a
nesting place for all manner of pirates. We must take and hold it, as we
hold Dover. It hath but one strong defense."

"I have heard that its walls are strong," said Richard, "and that it can
stand a long siege by sea and land."

"Long and hard it well may be," laughed the prince, "but sieges have an
end, and towns are taken if the besiegers themselves be not routed in
their camps. The defense of Calais against us is this army of the King
of France. Until that shall be utterly beaten the town is safe. Thou
wilt yet see clearly the wisdom of the king."

There was another night's camping and the Carenton town surrendered, but
the castle thereof detained Earl Warwick and his power during two more
days, while the main host marched on. Town after town that lay along its
broad road of desolation either opened its gates without resistance or
was shortly stormed and plundered. Long lines of wains were all the
while traveling back to St. Vast and other seaports, that the ships
might convey the captured goods and treasures to safe keeping in

This was the manner of all warring in those days, and sore was the
distress of the people of Normandy. They were brave enough, but they had
neither great captains nor any central body of an army whereunto they
might rally. For their mere numbers they could have eaten up the English
army, but what are numbers that are scattered vainly over a great

Daily did the prince and Richard draw nearer to each other, as they
found occasion for meeting; but the duties of the young heir of Wartmont
were now with the advance, under Sir Geoffrey of Harcourt. Small
fighting had he seen, but many a deed of pillage that was sad to look
upon, and he was learning how terrible a thing is war.

"God keep it from merry England!" he often thought, and yet he knew that
all the messengers from home brought rumors that a Scottish host was
gathering fast to take advantage of King Edward's absence.

"Evil to them!" he said angrily. "If the good archbishop be also
training the men of the north counties and the middle, I trust Sir
Robert Johnstone will face them with bowmen as good as are those of
Longwood and Arden. We can give him no aid, but to-morrow we shall get
to Caen."

The prince was with the king that night and Richard saw him not. Nor was
there message for him to carry in the morn, but there came to him a
summons from Marshal de Harcourt.

"Richard of Wartmont," said his captain when they met, "Sir Thomas
Holland and Sir Peter Legh, with knights and men-at-arms, form the
advance on Caen. With them go thou and double thy number of the archers
of Arden. With thee will also be the Irish and the Welsh, for I learn
that the people of this town have gone mad with conceit. They will face
us outside of their walls. If we may break their front, we may enter
Caen in their foolish company."

Like word went back to the king, praying him to hasten, that he might
see his standard lifted over the capital of Normandy.

Good was the planning of De Harcourt, for, as the English van emerged
early that day, behold a numerous but motley and ill-ordered array of
armed citizens and country folk, drawn out to meet them. With them were
many knights and men-at-arms, but the marshal spoke truly when he said
of them:

"An army that is not an army. We will scatter them like chaff!"

"Seest thou yonder town?" asked Sir Thomas Holland of Richard, as they
paused on the brow of a low hill to let the bowmen come up.

Richard looked earnestly, for the walls were wide-reaching, and they
seemed to be high and strong. On one side of the great town arose a
castle of surpassing splendor, and he had heard that the Governor of
Caen, Sir John de Blargny, held it with three hundred Genoese
crossbowmen and other forces. There were church spires also, and of
these arose one higher than the rest, at which Sir Thomas pointed with
his lance.

"In a crypt of that church," he said, "rest the bones of William the
Conqueror. From this town did he and his host march to the overthrow of
King Harold at Hastings."

Richard gazed in silence, but he heard strange words among the bowmen
behind him, speaking the ancient tongue.

"'Tis good hearing," said Guy the Bow. "As he and his Normans did to
England, so have the Saxons under King Edward done to Normandy. The
conquest is ours this time!"

"The tables are turned," said Ben of Coventry, "and rare hath been the
plundering. But we have yet fought no fight like that of Hastings. Until
then we shall not be even with the French. I shall shoot closely that
day when it shall come."

Deep, therefore, was the bitterness that grew from the old time. Alas,
that it did not cease, and that during centuries more the old feud
rankled murderously in the hearts of Englishmen, so that even their
Norman kings made use of it as a power whereby to rally armies to fight
the outland men beyond the sea!

Forward now dashed the English van, all shouting loudly, but no battle
did await them. Mayhap they were in greater force than the men of Caen
expected, or that the latter bethought them suddenly how good were stone
walls to fight behind. At all events, there were few volleys of arrows
sent before the French muster broke and ran back in confusion toward the
open gates.

"Forward!" shouted Sir Thomas. "The middle gateway! There be good
knights there, all tangled in the press. They can neither fight nor
flee. Brave ransom to be won! Press on!"

Even he and his own knights could make little better speed than might
the bowmen on foot, but the French men-at-arms were already jammed one
against another in the narrow passage by which they had hoped to retreat
into the city. There could be no closing of the gate, but over it was a
small fortalice, with a broad stairway leading up to it. Down sprang the
good knights, for here seemed a refuge, as if it were a place wherein
they might defend themselves.

Much rather was it a trap in which they were to be taken helplessly. In
vain they manned the battlements, for up the stairway after them poured
Richard Neville's bowmen and axemen, with Sir Thomas Holland, Sir Peter
Legh, and a dozen other knights.

"Down with them, Richard of Wartmont!" shouted Guy the Bow, and the
shafts began to fly.

But in front of the Frenchmen in that tower stepped forth a knight in
gorgeous armor, who shouted boldly:

"Sir Thomas Holland, dost thou not know thine old-time comrade against
the Prussian heathen and the Saracens of Grenada? I am the Count of Eu
and Guignes, Constable of France, and with me is the Count of
Tancarville. These all be knights of note. But we are betrayed to thine
hand by these cowardly townspeople."

So they surrendered all, while through the gateway below dashed Sir
Geoffrey of Harcourt, his men-at-arms, and a great tide of spearmen and
bowmen. At no great distance behind them rode the king and the prince,
and it was but little before the Earl of Northampton raised the royal
standard over that very gateway fort in token that Caen had fallen.

The walls were won, indeed, but not the whole town or the castle. On to
the center and to the townhall pressed Harcourt, and with him now was
Richard. Every house was a small fort, however, and all doors were
closed and barred. Not for their goods only, but for their very lives,
did the inhabitants of Caen believe themselves to be contending. In the
upper stories and garrets of the buildings had they prepared munitions
of heavy stones, beams, and the like, and these did they now rain down
upon the ranks of the English soldiery. Many were slain or wounded
thereby. Brave knights were stricken from their horses to lie helpless
upon the pavement.

All these things were witnessed by the king himself when he and the
prince and those who were with them rode through the gate of the city.
An angry man was he to be stoned and to narrowly escape destruction in a
street of a place which he had already taken.

Sir Geoffrey and his men were at the townhall now, and one of their
first works had been to search for and to seize the official records and
archives. It had been better for Normandy if all these things had
perished, but none had looked for so sudden an entry of the English, so
that the writings remained. These were delivered to the king on his
arrival. He read from page to page, and his hot wrath burned yet more
hotly. Among the captured manuscripts was one under the seal royal of
France, and it was a covenant between the King and the people of Caen
and of Normandy for their service against the English king. Already had
there been good proof that the Normans had greatly favored an invasion
of England like that of William the Conqueror. Here was fresh proof
thereof, with more that was as poison.

Fierce and hasty was the next speech of the angry king, for he commanded
that the city should be given up to sack and pillage, without mercy to
man or woman. It had been a terrible deed to do, for the soldiery were
greatly enraged already, and some of their deeds had been cruel. Well
was it then for all that Sir Geoffrey of Harcourt was a wise man and
humane as well as a good war captain, for he spoke plainly to King

"Dear sire," he said, "restrain thy courage a little, I pray thee, and
be satisfied with what thou hast done. Thou hast a long journey before
thou shalt get to Calais, where thou intendest to go."

Much more he said and argued, and all the while the king grew calmer.

"Sir Geoffrey," he replied at last, "thou art our marshal; therefore
order as thou shalt please, for this time we wish not to interfere."

Nevertheless, in the speech of the marshal had been published the secret
counsel of the king and the real purpose of the campaign from before the
army left England. There were those even in later days who maintained
that Edward had sailed at a venture, and had marched at random, without
set plan or purpose, but they knew him not very well, nor did they hear
his chief captain answer him at Caen thus early in the campaign.

Out rode then Sir Geoffrey from street to street, with banners
displayed, declaring full mercy to the townsfolk if they would cease
fighting, and commanding, on pain of death, that no English soldier
should harm or insult either man or woman.

So the massacre was stayed, but for all that there was vast plunder

Richard was with the prince once more for a little while, and to him he
spoke of the purpose of the Normans to invade England.

"They thought to do as in Harold's time," he said. "There had been great
mischief, truly, if they could have landed."

"Not so," replied the prince. "I heard Sir Geoffrey and the king on that
head. No other battle of Hastings could have come, for the Archbishop of
York hath force enough to face the Scots. King Harold had to fight and
beat the Welsh first, and then the Northmen under Hardrada, before he
turned, with what army he had left, to meet William of Normandy. An
invasion now would meet the whole array of England at one field, with
Welsh and Irish many thousands. Moreover, in England there were neither
forts nor castles in Harold's day, while now there are too many for the
peace of the realm. So said my royal father, for the castles can be
well held even against the power of the king."

"The Saxons fought well," said Richard.

"Aye, that did they," replied the prince, "and well do we know that thou
and thine are of them. Wilt thou tell me, Richard of Wartmont, why thou
and thy Saxons all are so strong for the Crown? Are we not of Norman

"Yea, that ye are," said Richard, "but of Saxon royalty of descent as
well. We all do know that truth. But above all do the people of every
kindred look to see the king stand between them and the barons. So are
we his lithsmen, nor can any take us out of his hand. He is our king!"

"Stay where thou art!" exclaimed the prince; "I will bear that word to
the king ere it is cold in my thought."

Away he rode, and he had to dismount and enter the townhall before he
could have speech with his father. That which he said was heard by no
other ears, but the face of the king grew red with pleasure.

"Truly," he said low-voiced, "the youth and his people are wiser than I
knew! Herein is a point of statecraft fit to be an heirloom of the
British kings. I will wear it. The king of the people hath no need to
fear the power of his barons. I have seen it long. There shall be more
and larger parliaments henceforth, and the Commons may speak their will
freely. I am less at the bidding of my proud earls. I have henceforth no
fear of Philip of France, but I must win Calais, if only for the good of
my merchantmen. We will march thither speedily, as soon as I shall have
smitten hard this huge mustering of Philip the unwise."

The prince came not back, nor did he afterward give to Richard the words
of the king; but the writers who in due season recorded the history of
those times had many things to write concerning the kindly relations
that grew up between Edward and the Commons, especially all merchants
and artisans and seafaring men.

There were days of seeming rest for the army, but these were largely
spent in good training, lest discipline should have been injured on the
march. On one of these days came a summons from Sir Geoffrey of Harcourt
to Richard Neville, and when he obeyed it he found the two marshals
together. Earl Warwick was the first to speak.

"Good news for thee, Richard," he said. "Thy gateway fort was a fine
trap for thy fortune. The king hath purchased of Sir Thomas Holland, Sir
Peter Legh, and the knights and thee, the ransom of the Constable of
France and Lord Tancarville. He payeth twenty thousand rose nobles of
gold, and thy share will be made good. All thy other prizes will be sure
to thee in my own hand, for I send all to thy mother at Warwick. Thou
wilt be richer than was ever thy father, if thou shalt hold on as thou
hast begun."

Great was the joy of Richard, and earnest were his thanks to the kindly
earl; but he had now to hear from his commander.

"Hearken thou well," he said. "Take thou thine own companies and such as
shall be named to thee by Sir Peter Legh. March out at the northern gate
and follow the road he will name to thee. Speak not to any concerning
thy errand, and thou thyself hast need to know no more. But if any
stranger shall attempt to march with thee, slay thou him on the spot."

"See that thou obey in silence," added the earl. "I trust in God that I
shall see thee again, but do thou thy duty utterly caring not for thy
blood or thy life."

Richard bowed low, for his heart was dancing within him at the prospect
of new adventure, and he did but say:

"God save the king! And I pray thee, tell my mother I did my duty

"Go thou," said the earl.

"Haste thee also," came from Sir Geoffrey, "for thine is the vanguard."

O what pride for one so young--to be ordered to the front of a secret

Nevertheless, in the very street, as Richard rode to the camp of his
bowmen, he was met and halted by the prince.

"Richard of Wartmont," he said, but not loudly, "thou hast thy orders?"

Richard bowed low.

"So have I mine!" exclaimed the prince. "Not all the fortune of this
campaign is to be thine alone. Thou shalt see me with my sword out
before thou art older. There are blows to strike, and I am to be in the
_mêlée_, as becomes me. Haste thee now, and fare thee well until I see
thee again."

It had been ill to answer in words, but Richard bowed again and rode

It was at the gate that he met Sir Peter Legh with further instructions.
A good knight was Sir Peter and broad in the shoulders, but he stood a
fathom and half a handbreadth in his stature--a sore antagonist for any
man to face in field or tourney, and having experience of many a
hard-fought field.

"Thou of Wartmont," he said dryly, "since I am to have company of thee
and thine, well. It is De Harcourt's word to me. He is my commander.
Thou mayest lead older and better men fairly enough. I will tell thee
what to do."

"I was ahead of all but thee in the gate of Caen," responded Richard a
little freely, for he was but young in temper. "Thou wilt not find me a
pace behind thee if so be there is fighting or climbing to be done."

"That there will be," growled Sir Peter. "Thou art nimble enough, but
other men are bigger in the bones. But it is said of thee that thou hast
good fortune, and that is a grand thing in a fray. I will go to thy men
with thee and learn what timber I am to build with."

So strong in the minds of all men was the belief that even more than
lance or sword or counsel was the thing they called fortune. But better
for the army and for the taking of Calais were the long preparation and
the subtle wisdom of Edward the Third.

Few were the words of Sir Peter as they twain rode onward, save to give
his youthful comrade full and clear directions as to the road by which
he was to march. He knew, however, that the burly knight eyed him keenly
from time to time, as if he were trying to read what value he might have
as a soldier.

Then came they to the camp, and Sir Peter turned his eyes in like manner
upon Guy the Bow and the men of Longwood.

"I ask the marshal's pardon," he grumbled testily. "If their chief be
only a boy, his clansmen are long in the legs. Every man a pardoned
outlaw, I am told, and half of kin to the Neville. Look you!" he spoke
loudly to Guy the Bow, "ye all are to march with Richard of Wartmont."

"Aye, Sir Peter," said Guy. "He is our captain. We have fought for him
ere this, shoulder to shoulder."

"Thou art malapert!" exclaimed Sir Peter. "Guard thou thy tongue, lest I
teach thee a lesson thou needest. The lash is near thee!"

Hot as fire glowed the brown cheeks of Guy the Bow, and he strode one
pace nearer.

"I know thee, Sir Peter Legh," he said. "Thou art a good lance enough,
but who gave thee the ill wisdom to speak of the lash to the free
archers of Arden?"

Right well astonished was Sir Peter, for at every side, as he looked
beyond Guy, did the tall foresters spring to their feet, and full a
score of them had arrows on the string. He heard rough speaking in a
tongue which he did not fully understand, but one voice that was louder
than the rest was of ordinary English.

"We are not dogs, nor serfs, nor villains," it declared, "that we should
be whipped for free speech. We are free men. If yonder man-at-arms
layeth but a finger upon Guy the Bow or upon my Lord of Wartmont, I will
send this shaft through his midriff."

"Richard Neville, what meaneth this?" exclaimed Sir Peter Legh. "Whose
men are these?"

"We belong to the Wartmont, under the Earl of Warwick," spoke out Ben
of Coventry, "and through the earl we are the king's men. Look thou well
to that."

"Sir Peter," said Richard sturdily, "there was no cause of offense to

"These, then, are yeomen?" asked Sir Peter, with a grim smile that meant

"Never was collar of serf upon the neck of an archer of Arden," replied
Richard. "Free they were born, and free they will die. And I swear to
thee that my father's son will die here with them ere they are harmed."

The knight was wiser than he had seemed, for he did but laugh loudly.

"I have no quarrel to pick with Earl Warwick or with thee, or with thy
deerstealers," he said. "Bring them along. These were with thee when
thou didst take La Belle Calaise? Pirates every man. But they are what
thou wilt need to have with thee if thou art to follow Sir Thomas
Holland and me. The old one-eyed Saracen fighter will lead where none
but brave hearts may go."

All the men heard him, and bows were promptly lowered. Said Guy the Bow:

"My speech was not malapert for such as I am, Sir Knight. Thou didst ill
to threaten freemen. But it may be, if thou art in a press, thou wilt be
pleased to hear at thy side the twanging of the good bows of Longwood
and Wartmont."

"That will I, merry men all," said Sir Peter heartily. "Well do I know
now why ye were chosen by Harcourt. Ye are of the old midland breed of
wolves that die silent but biting. 'Tis your proverb."

More did he say as he walked among them; but he inspected their weapons,
as became a captain, and there came also pack beasts laden with sheaves
of arrows, that every quiver might be full.

"Richard of Wartmont," he said at parting, "there is naught but good
will between me and thee. English am I, and greatly do I like thy men.
We were but a lost people if our yeomanry were no higher spirited than
are the slavish rabble that will swarm behind the nobles of France and
their unwise, cunning king. As for him, he will find that the double
tongue fitted to cheat by an embassage is of small value in the right
handling of an army. He may learn something yet from our Edward of
England. Unless Geoffrey of Harcourt is a false witness, and unless the
king's plan goeth too far astray, Calais will ere long be but an English
port. Meet thou me as I bade thee, for I must go."

Even so he did, but Richard remained to complete the right ordering of
his command. Anxious indeed was he, and he brought to mind every lesson
of war that he had learned in England or on the march. Who could tell,
he thought darkly, what desperate venture might be at hand? Careless
captains do but throw away what heedful men might win. Above all was it
heavy upon his mind that on this occasion he and his had been chosen to
guard the prince himself, as being such as the king could rely upon to
the very death.

"So, if he dieth," said he, "I and mine will not return to face the
king. Where lieth his body, there will mine be found, and all the men of
Arden and Longwood with me."

Also in like manner responded the archers themselves when he arrayed
them and told them, passing the word from man to man:

"We are the Black Prince's comrades, this day and night. It is the
king's trust."

"We will keep trust," they said.



Splendid to look upon was the advance of King Edward's army from Caen,
with its banners, its mailclad horsemen, its winding rivers of shields,
and the flashing of the sunlight on the helmets and on the points of
polished steel.

The roads were dusty, but their dryness gave good footing, and all wagon
wheels rolled well. There was a hindrance in the narrowness of all the
Normandy highways and byways, for it compelled Edward to divide his
forces and send them forward by several lines of march. His being there
could now be known to Philip of France at once, but the great French
army was still in Gascony, beleaguering the stout Earl of Derby and his
forces. There was therefore no power to block the progress of the
English invaders, although each of their divisions had somewhat to
contend with. There were walled towns and there were fortresses. In some
of these were not only garrisons, but much plunder, and their taking
would be required by the military plans of the king. His generalship
was greatly exhibited in this, that by landing so unexpectedly in
Normandy, and by then marching straight across country, as if his aim
were to take Paris, he compelled Philip to loosen his grip upon the army
of the Earl of Derby, and to march his mighty host with all speed to the
saving of his own capital.

Town after town had surrendered to Edward, and many castles had opened
their gates without a fight, yet not all. The country people had
suffered sorely, for the army required much in the way of provisions,
but the scourge of war fell most heavily upon the rich, and on such as
made resistance.

Richard Neville was now honored with the command of a goodly detachment.
With him, as before on the Golden Horn, were men-at-arms and footmen of
every kind, for so had the king ordered for all parts of his advance.

The heir of Wartmont was this day so far separated from the main body of
the king's army that it was almost as if he were invading that part of
Normandy by himself, in command of a small army of his own.

"My Lord," said a man-at-arms who rode at his side, "if thou wilt permit
the question, art thou sure of thy direction? Were we to stray too far,
we might meet with reproof, or worse."

"This is the road that Sir Geoffrey Harcourt bade me take," replied
Richard. "But I would we had a guide."

They were well in advance of their little column, and they rode out over
the brow of a low hill and from under the shadow of overarching trees.

"My Lord of Wartmont," loudly exclaimed the man-at-arms, "look yonder!
Shall we not push forward?"

Before them lay a deep, narrow valley, with many cots and vineyards
scattered up and down the stream which wandered through it. Directly
across the hollow, however, there was a sight worth seeing. High and
rock-bordered was that northward hillside, but on its crown was a
fortress that was half a church, with a walled town beyond the foot of
the castle. High and precipitous were the granite cliffs, high were the
towers of the castle, but into the sunset light above them all arose the
cross-tipped steeple of the church.

On this side of the outer wall of the town on the hill was a great gate,
and over it floated, as also on the donjon keep of the castle, near the
town gate, the golden lilies of the royal standard of France, streaming
out against the sky.

"We will not go forward," said Richard. "We will halt, rather. No force
like ours can do aught with a fort like that. Nor shall we now surprise
them. Some captain of high rank is in command, for there is the
_fleur-de-lis_ flag."

"My Lord, there was the blast of a horn!" said Ben o' Coventry, from the
archer ranks.

"Thou hast keen hearing," Richard replied, as again the mellow music
came faintly up the road; "that horn calleth us to wait for the force
that followeth."

At the word of command, the horsemen drew rein and the footmen stood at
rest. They had not long to wait.

A splendid black horse, and on him a rider in black armor, came spurring
along the narrow highway accompanied only by a page.

"It is the prince!" exclaimed Richard. "What doeth he here alone?"

So loudly was it spoken, and so near was the young royal hero of
England, that the answer came from his own lips.

"Not alone am I, Richard Neville, but I have outridden Wakeham to speed
on and warn thee not to show thyself beyond the ridge, lest thou warn
the warders of Bruyerre that we are at hand. Halt, thou and thine!"

"My Lord Prince Edward, we are halted, with that very thought in mind,"
respectfully answered Richard. "But is yonder place Bruyerre?"

"It is, indeed," said the prince. "'Tis a stronghold since the days of
Norman Rollo. Duke Robert also was besieged there once."

"How, then, shall we take it?" came regretfully from Richard's lips. "It
were not well to leave it untaken."

"That will we not," said the Prince, "and glad am I have to thee with
me. For that end we sent thee ahead. Sir Henry and I had few enough of
men, and they are mostly men-at-arms. We need thy Irish kerns,[A] and
thy Welsh, and thy bowmen."

"Here they come, my Lord!" Guy the Bow announced from among the archers.
"They all are riding hard as if for a charge."

A brave array of knights and gentlemen in full armor came fast through
the dust clouds of their own raising. Beside the foremost horseman rode
one who carried no arms at all. On his head was the plain cap of a
tradesman, and from under it long white hair came down to his shoulders.
He rode firmly despite his years, however, and there was a kind of eager
light upon his deeply wrinkled face.

"All is well!" he exclaimed. "My Lord of Wakeham, the prince reached
them in time, and they are halted."

"Aye, and I would there were more of them," replied Sir Henry. "Our own
footmen are long miles behind, and the day is waning."

"We need night, not day, for the taking of Bruyerre," said the old man
gloomily. "Even now we were wise to get into some safe hiding. There is
a forest glen to the right of where the prince is waiting."

In a few minutes more Sir Henry rode to the side of the prince and held
out a hand to Richard.

"Thy men are in good condition," he said; "and that is as it should be,
for they have sharp work before them."

"Ready are we," said Richard, but his eyes were upon the face of the
white-haired man.

He sat in silence, gazing across the valley at the towers and walls of
the fortress, and he seemed moved by strong emotions.

"What sayest thou, Giles Monson?" asked the prince. "Are there changes?"

"In me, my Prince," responded Giles, "but not in yonder town. A
Christian man am I this day, and it is not given me to judge, but I am a
true Englishman. With an honest heart and in good faith did I bring
steel wares from Sheffield to the wicked Lord of Bruyerre. False and
cruel was he, a robber and a villain. He laughed at me when once I was
in his power. Fourteen years was I a prisoner in yonder keep, and I grew
old before my time. Behold the scars of fetters on my wrists. Then was
I a beggar and a starveling in the town for three years more, watched
always and beaten oft. But I learned every inch of yonder hill, and at
last I made my escape. By the path along which I left Bruyerre can I
guide this army in. But there must be ladders stronger than the cord I
came down upon."

"A dozen are with our own foot soldiers," said Sir Henry. "But haste
now, lest we be discovered from the castle."

All riders were dismounting, and Richard went into the woods with his
forest men to seek the glen spoken of by Giles. It was not far to find,
and it led on down into the valley.

The forest growth was old and dense, and, once the soldiery marched well
in, they were completely hidden. Only a strong guard waited at the
wayside to intercept all passengers, and here at last came Richard, just
as the sun went down.

"The prince's foot soldiers will arrive soon," said the young leader to
Guy the Bow. Ben o' Coventry was peering over the ridge of the hill, and
he came back hastily.

"Men from the castle, my Captain!" he exclaimed. "A knight, I should say
by his crest, and four esquires, with, mounted serving men a half dozen.
The knight, I noted, rideth with visor up."

"Thinking not of any foe," Richard answered. "We will hide under the
trees and let them go by. Then will we close behind them."

"We could smite them as they come," said Guy.

"Nay," replied Richard, "lest even so much as one on horseback escape to
warn the town."

Word was sent to the prince, and soon he was there, having posted his
troops in the glen, and with him came Sir Henry of Wakeham. It was no
moment for speech, for the French cavalcade came gayly over the hill.

Silent and motionless, the English in their ambush almost held their
breath until the party from Bruyerre was a bowshot past them. Then out
into the road they poured as silently, and the trap was set.

"They will meet our foot right soon," said Sir Henry, "but they will not
risk a charge upon five hundred men. They will come back."

"Sir Thomas Gifford will render a good account of them, if they do not,"
replied the prince.

Not more than half a mile down the road and around a bend of it, at that
hour, pressed on the English foot. At their head rode one knight only,
with a few men-at-arms, and not far behind him strode a brawny,
red-haired man, who shouted back to those behind him, in Irish:

"Forward now, ye men of the fens, of Connaught and of Ulster! Yet a
little, and we shall be with our brave boy of the Golden Horn and of La
Belle Calaise, and with the prince and Sir Henry."

It was the O'Rourke himself, promoted to a better command, with full
leave to arm his giants with axes, in honor of his feats in the sea
fight. In like manner the rear guard was led by David Griffith, and the
weapons of the Welshmen were such as those with which their ancestors
had fought the Roman legions of Cæsar and the Saxons of Harold the King.

"Who cometh?" exclaimed Sir Thomas, for at that moment the party of
French from Bruyerre had seen his banner and his ranks, and they had
promptly turned round to speed back to the castle.

"The English!" they shouted. "The pirates of Albion! Back to the town!"

They had no dreams of aught but a swift, unhindered escape; and the
greater was their astonishment to find their way blocked below the hill
ridge by a dense mass of pikemen and bowmen, in front of whom stood a
dozen armored knights. There was no use in either flight or fighting;
and their leader reversed his lance and rode forward.

"Yield thee!" rang out in English. "I am Sir Henry of Wakeham."

"Needs must!" responded the knight in Norman French. "I am Guilbert,
Sieur de Cluse. I had visited with Raoul de Bruyerre, my kinsman, and I
was but riding homeward. Alas, the day!"

He and his party dismounted and were disarmed. They were doubly
astonished at meeting the prince himself with what seemed so small a
force, and the Sieur de Cluse remarked with something of bitterness:

"Little ye know of the nut ye think to crack. De Bruyerre hath gathered
three thousand men, and he is provisioned for a siege."

"Not more than that?" exclaimed the prince. "Glad am I of thy news. I
had feared he had greater force. We have almost half that number of our
own. The castle and the town are ours!"

The prisoners were led under the trees, and now the night came on, and
it was fairly sure that there would be no more wayfarers. Little more
could be learned, except that all the townspeople were as well armed and
ready as the garrison.

Every plan had been well laid beforehand. Only an hour after sunset
dense clouds covered the sky, insuring perfect darkness. Out, down the
glen, swept David Griffith and his Welshmen, to seize all roads leading
to the castle gate. Along the highway itself rode the prince and his
mounted force--a hundred and thirty steel-clad horsemen. Behind them
marched the greater part of the English foot; but by another path went
Sir Henry of Wakeham, Richard Neville, and Sir Thomas Gifford. With
them were the O'Rourke and two hundred Irish, and two hundred bowmen of
Warwick and Kent. The scaling ladders were with these.

Away to the right, across fields and through vineyards, Giles Monson led
the way. He was still unarmed, save for a stout "Sheffield whittle," a
foot long, sheathed, in his belt. Hardly a word he spoke until his
companions found themselves at the foot of a perpendicular crag.

"There is a break twenty feet up," he said, "and a flat place. From that
point our peril beginneth. Silence, all!"

A ladder was placed, and up he went like a squirrel. A low whistle was
heard as he reached the top of the ladder; the signal came from Richard,
just behind him. Next came a clang of steel, for the heir of Wartmont
had smitten down a half-slumbering sentinel.

Up poured the English, headed by Sir Henry; they brought a second ladder
with them and others were placing it at the foot of the crag.

[Illustration: Up went the ladder, and on it the English climbed fast.]

"A shorter ladder will do for this next mounting," whispered Giles
Monson. "Then there is a wall, but sentries are seldom posted there."

Hardly had he spoken before a voice above them hailed in French:

"Who cometh there?"

A flight of arrows answered him, and no second question came down. Up
went the ladder and on it the English climbed fast. The wall, when they
reached it, was but a dozen feet high, and was hardly an obstacle.
Beyond it Sir Henry halted until many men stood beside him. Then he
spoke in a low tone.

"Pass the word," he said. "Pause not for aught, but follow me to the
castle and the town gate. We must win that and let in the prince, though
all die who are here."

He strode forward then, and ever in front of him went Giles Monson, his
cap in his hand and his white hair flying.

Few lights were burning in any of the buildings, for it was long after
curfew. There were no wayfarers along the narrow, winding streets
through which, avoiding the middle of the town, Giles Monson guided the
English. Hardly a weapon clanged, and no word was spoken, for every man
knew that if an alarm were given too soon so small a force would be
overwhelmed and all must die.

"Yon is the gate," whispered Giles at last. "'Tis a fort of itself, and
it needs must have a strong guard."

"They are on the watch for foes from without," said Sir Henry. "Richard
Neville, show thyself a good man-at-arms! Charge in at yonder portal
with thy Irish, and we will form behind thee and press on to open the
town gates and hold them."

The O'Rourke heard the command and he whistled shrilly to his men; still
in front of Richard, through the deep gloom, flitted the white-haired
guide, for the portal at which Sir Henry pointed; to the left was the
open gate of the great tower, the donjon keep, the citadel of Bruyerre.
A moat there was, but the bridge was in place, and the guards in armor
were lolling lazily.

"Charge! For the king!" shouted Richard, as he sprang swiftly along the
bridge; he dashed past the guards and was within the portal before they
could draw their swords. Down they went under the Irish axes, and so the
entrance to the keep was won. Then the fighting began, for there were
many brave men in the citadel of Bruyerre and they were awaking. But
they came out of their quarters in sudden bewilderment, singly or in
squads, and in the dim light they at first hardly knew friend from foe.
Scores were smitten in utter darkness by unseen hands, and everywhere
were panic and confusion among the defenders.

"On!" shouted Giles Monson. "My Lord of Wartmont, I lead thee to the
chamber of De Bruyerre!"

They were at the head of a flight of stairs, and before them was a long
passage lighted by hanging lamps. Into the passage had rushed out--from
the sleeping rooms on either side--a dozen swordsmen, and some of them
had bucklers. Well was it for Richard then that Guy the Bow and the
Longwood foresters had believed it their duty to follow their own young
captain, for otherwise he had been almost alone. From the archers
whizzed shaft after shaft, and hardly did he cross swords with any
knight before the Frenchman's blade fell from his hand.

One towering form in a long blue robe was behind the others.

"Who are ye, in Heaven's name?" he had shouted. "St. Denis, they are

"My Lord Raoul de Bruyerre," fiercely responded Giles Monson, "'tis the
vengeance of Heaven upon thy false heart and thy cruelty. I am thy
Sheffield man, thou robber!"

"Yield thee, my Lord of Bruyerre!" shouted Richard; but along the
passage darted Giles Monson, bent on revenge.

"Thou art the traitor!" cried De Bruyerre, and drawing his sword he
sprang to strike down the advancing Englishman. Too eager to heed his
own safety, Giles Monson leaped upon the French knight and struck
fiercely with his long dagger.

Both weapons reached their marks.

"Thou villain, thou hast slain the knight!" cried Richard. "He might
have surrendered."

But Giles Monson had fallen beneath the sword of his victim, and would
never speak more.

"Stay not here!" Richard commanded. "Follow me! The keep is not half

It was but the truth, and yet the remaining fight was only to make all
sure. One strong party of French soldiers was beaten because they
rallied in the great hall and were helplessly penned in as soon as the
massive doors were shut and braced on the outside.

"Rats in a trap!" said Ben o' Coventry, as he forced down a thick plank
to hold a door. "We need not slay one of them."

"I would I knew how it fareth with the prince," said Richard. "Light
every lamp and beacon. I will go to the portal."

Prince Edward and they who were with him were men certain to give a good
account of themselves, but they had been none too many. The warders at
the town-wall gate had been small hindrance. The moment the huge oaken
wings swung back upon their hinges, up went the portcullis, out shot the
bridge across the deep, black moat, and the blast of Sir Henry's horn
was answered by the rapid thud of hoofs as the prince led on his

"Straight for the middle square!" he shouted. "Onward to the keep!"

"It is ours if Richard Neville be still living," calmly returned the
knight. "Hark! the shouts--the uproar!"

"Sir Thomas Gifford," commanded the prince, "go to him. Take ten
men-at-arms. We must win the keep!"

On then he led his gallant men along the street, but when they reached
the central square the French also were pouring into it from all sides.
Save for their utter surprise they would have made a better fight, but
at the first onset the English lances scattered their hasty array like
chaff. Horsemen they had almost none, and their knights who fought on
foot were but half-armored.

Now also David Griffith and his Welshmen had arrived within the walls,
and it seemed to the defenders of Bruyerre that their foemen were a
multitude. A band of mercenaries from Alsace, three hundred strong,
penned in a side street, surrendered without a blow at the first
whizzing of the English arrows.

Sir Thomas Gifford was standing at the portal of the castle, and he saw
a man in armor come hastily out into a light that shone beyond.

"Richard Neville," he asked, "how is it with thee? Art thou beaten?"

"The keep is ours," called back Richard; "but I have too many prisoners.
There were six hundred men."

"St. George for England!" cried the astonished knight. "Thou hast done
a noble deed of arms!"

"But Raoul de Bruyerre is dead, and so is Giles Monson, he who guided
us," continued Richard. "How fareth the prince?"

"Go thou to him with thy good news," replied Sir Thomas. "I will take
command here and finish thy work."

"Let us not remain with Sir Thomas," exclaimed the O'Rourke, behind
Richard, "if there is to be more fighting."

"Nay, thou and thy kerns are garrison of the keep," said Sir Thomas.

So the hot-headed Irish chieftain had to bide behind stone walls to his
great chagrin, while Richard went out gladly, with but a small party, to
hunt for the prince through the shadowy, tumultuous streets of the
half-mad town of Bruyerre.

There were faces at window crevices, and there were men and women in
half-opened doorways. Richard continually announced to them, as had been
the general order of the prince:

"In! In! Quarter to all who keep their houses, and death to all who come

Brave as might be the burghers of Bruyerre, not many of those who heard
cared to rush out alone, to be speared or cut down.

Before this, nevertheless, enough had gathered at one point to feel
some courage; and into this band Richard was compelled to charge.

With him were barely a dozen axemen and bowmen, yet he shouted in Norman
French, as if to some larger force behind:

"Onward, men of Kent! forward quickly! Bid the Irish hasten! St. George
for England! For the king!"

The burghers had no captain, and they hardly knew their own number in
the gloom. 'Twas a hot rush of desperate men against those who were
irresolute. The burghers broke and fled to their houses, and on went
Richard, having lost only a few of his small force.

The garrison had rallied faster and faster, and now almost surrounded in
the square were the prince and his knights. Little they cared. Indeed,
Sir Henry of Wakeham had said:

"What do you advise, my Lord Prince? We might even cut our way back to
the castle, if we were sure of it. If we have that, we have command of
the town."

"Hold your own here," replied the prince; "I think they give way

Just then a band of bowmen, who had cleared out a side street, came
forth as Richard went by.

"With me!" he called to them. "Let us join the prince. Beware how ye
send your shafts into yonder _mêlée_, lest ye harm a friend!"

"Hark!" exclaimed Sir Henry. "It is Richard Neville! They have beaten
him. Where can Sir Thomas be? I fear there is black tidings!"

"Fight on!" replied the prince. "At all events he bringeth us some

Closely aimed arrows, well-thrown spears, cleaving of sword and axe were
help indeed; but better than all was the clear, ringing voice of
Richard, in English first, and then in Norman French:

"My Lord the Prince, we have the keep and castle! Sir Thomas Gifford
holdeth it. De Bruyerre is killed. His men are dead or taken. Bid these
fools here surrender. They have naught for which to fight."

"God and St. George for England!" roared Sir Henry of Wakeham.

"Hail to thee, Richard Neville!" sang out the prince. "Victory! The town
is ours! Bruyerre is taken!"

All the Frenchmen heard, as well as all the English. What was joy to one
party was utter discouragement to the other.

"Surrender!" commanded the prince. "The fool who fighteth now hath his
blood upon his own head!"

Spears were lowered, swords were sheathed, crossbows were dropped, brave
men-at-arms gave their names to Sir Henry and his knights, and the peril
in the great square was over.

"Well for us," coolly remarked Sir Henry. "The guards from the ramparts
were arriving. My Lord of Cluse did not rightly number the garrison."

Nor had the English believed that so many townsmen could turn out so
speedily. Nevertheless, when arms were given up the Frenchmen were no
longer soldiers, and their numbers were of no more value.

"Richard Neville, I will well commend thee to my father! I think he will
give thee thy spurs."

So spake the prince, with his hands on the shoulders of his friend, and
looking into his face admiringly.

"Prince Edward," broke out the heir of Wartmont warmly, "I have done
little. The taking of Bruyerre is thine. It was all thy plan."

"Mine? Nay," said the prince. "The best of it was prepared by Raoul de
Bruyerre, when he held Giles Monson wickedly, that now an Englishman
might be ready to let us in. So did his evil deed come back to his

"Aye," said Sir Henry; "but the dawn is in the sky, and the troops must
be stationed fast. We will not stay to sack the town; but there are
stores to gather, and there are knights of high degree to put to ransom.
We have work to do."

So, quickly and wisely, went out the commands of the English captains,
and the prize was made secure before the sun was an hour high.

Bitter enough was then the shame and wrath of knights and nobles of the
garrison, as they learned by how small a force their great stronghold
had been surprised and taken. It should have been held for a year, they
said, against all the army of King Edward.

All that bright summer day the business of sending away the garrison and
of securing the best plunder of Bruyerre went industriously forward; but
it was not in the hands of the Black Prince. Hardly had he finished
eating a good repast in the castle, after having had courteous speech
with Madame of Bruyerre and her household, before he gave command:

"Sir Robert Clifton, I appoint thee to the care of this place until I
send thee orders from the king. He is now twelve miles away, and I must
give him a report of this affair. Sir Henry and Gifford and Neville will
go with me."

It was to horse and mount, then, while Robert Clifton cared for
Bruyerre. The sun was looking down upon the midday halting of King
Edward's own division of his army, when his son and his companions stood
before him to tell him what they had done, and how.

Close and searching, as became a good general, were the questions of the
king; but when all was done Sir Henry of Wakeham spoke boldly:

"Sire, is it not to be said that thy son and Richard Neville have in
this feat of arms well earned their spurs and chain of knighthood?"

"Truly!" came low but earnestly from Richard's uncle, the Earl of

There was no smile upon the firm lips of the king, whatever his proud
eyes might seem to say, and he replied:

"Not so, my good companion in arms. Think of thine own battles, many and
hard fought. It were not well to forward them too fast. Neither my
Edward nor Richard of Wartmont shall wear spurs until they have stood
the brunt of one great passage of arms. Leave but a fair garrison in
Bruyerre, for none will trouble them. We will march on to seek the field
where we may meet the host of Philip of Valois. Word hath arrived that
he is coming with all haste."

Forward, therefore, moved the forces of the king, and with them rode the
two young companions in arms as simple squires; but the mighty field
whereon they were to win their spurs was only a few days in the future.


[A] The kern was a light-armed foot soldier, who usually carried a spear
and knife.



Great had been the turmoil, the separation of comrades and of
detachments, at the taking of Bruyerre. Hardly had Richard spoken twice
to Sir Thomas Holland or Sir Peter Legh. Now, however, that the army of
the king was once more moving forward, there was chance for them to ride
together. Not until then, indeed, did it come clearly to Richard's mind
how highly men thought of him for the taking and holding of the keep.
Also, Sir Henry Wakeham had praised him much for his conduct in the
perilous scaling of the walls by Giles Monson's secret pathway.

"I am well pleased," said Sir Peter, "that the order of march putteth
thee and thy outlaws with Sir Thomas and me. So they take not us for
deer and make targets of us, we are likely to render a good report to
the king."

"Aye," added Sir Thomas dryly, "I knew not why even thy wild Irish kerns
and thy Welsh savages took thee, more than another, for their
chieftain, but I learned that they were like thy bowmen. Every man of
them hath had a price set upon his head, for his good deeds before he
was pardoned into the army."

"The king's deer will be safer after this campaign," said Sir Peter,
"if, indeed, he is marching this army to meet the host of France. But
that I trust him well, I would deem him safer on the other side of the

Now any who knew the province of Normandy and the parts that they were
in, could see that the river Seine ran at the left of their march. It
was between them and any seeming road to the taking of Calais. Well up
the stream, in the direction they were taking, was the good city of
Paris, with many strong forts, although it had no encircling wall. It
lay open, with castles and fortified posts outside of its streets and
palaces. At Paris, even now, there was a strong force of French, said to
be equal in numbers to the English army. More forces were fast marching
thitherward, but still King Edward was pushing on, as if he expected to
capture the French capital by a swift dash and a surprise.

This was therefore the meaning of Sir Peter Legh, and it had been in the
thoughts of many other men.

"Word hath come by many of the king's scouts," replied Richard, "that
every bridge over the Seine hath been broken down by the French
themselves, so that our army can by no means reach the other bank."

"Sir Thomas Holland," asked Sir Peter, "knowest thou what saith the king
to that?"

"Nay," said Sir Thomas bluntly, "but I heard one Geoffrey of Harcourt,
when a spy rode to him to tell that the last Seine bridge was down."

"What answered he?" asked Sir Peter.

"'Now all the saints be praised!' he said," responded Sir Peter.
"'Philip of Valois doeth our business well. Their bridges are gone, and
they can throw no force across the river to annoy our flank or rear. We
have but a holiday march, unmolested.'"

Richard listened, that he might gather a lesson of war; but he said to
the knights:

"I do but bethink me of what was said by one of my own men when he heard
concerning the bridges. He is a carpenter from Coventry."

"What said he?" asked a deep voice behind them, as it were eagerly.

Then turned they all in their saddles, for there rode Sir Geoffrey of
Harcourt, and with him was the prince.

"My Lord Marshal," said Richard, "he did but laugh, and he laughed
loudly. Then he told his mates: 'Ye are but fools, and the king is wise.
Give me our forest men and the two companies of Kent and the London
pikemen that are from the shipbuilding wards of London town. Then, if so
be the king wanteth a bridge he can have one. We will even shape it in
the woods in the morn, and have it over the stream at sunset.'"

"Richard Neville," said the marshal, "keep thou that saying to thyself,
but search out thy man. Bid him and his to pick their wood workers, man
by man. We shall have tools in plenty. The men do know each other. I was
even now troubled in mind concerning handicraftsmen."

"No need, my Lord Marshal," reverently responded Richard. "I did hear
more, and I can bring thee men that have built bridges over bigger
streams than these."

"Richard of Wartmont," now broke in the prince, "ride thou with me a
space. I would know more of thy men."

Then rode they silently until well apart from the others, and the prince
said to his friend:

"This concerning the bridges will please the king. He hath said to me,
of the commons and of thy Saxon kin, that now he hath a power that will
grow fast, as he will help it grow. It hath not heretofore come to the
hand of any king of England, and so some of them have been even too
hardly dealt with by the great earls."

"I and mine are the king's men," said Richard, "and the king's only. But
I learn many new things of war. It is more than hard fighting. But the
King of France will have a great host."

"Oh that it were twice as great!" exclaimed the prince. "If my father
can but gather it all, and as many more, at Paris, he will surely take

Richard could but laugh, and he replied:

"Far be it from me to read beforehand the counsel of so great a captain.
I think that even when all is done, and he hath won his will, there will
be those who will say that he never thought to do so."

"It is so ever," said the prince, "and therefore all the more surely
doth he win. But I think any man might read beforehand the plan of this
campaign. Only that none expected so much aid from Philip in this matter
of the bridges."

There is both pleasure and profit to be had in discerning well the
doings of the great, whereby battles are won or lost, and whereby
thrones are builded or are overturned. Richard thought within himself
that day and other days: "I do grow older as we march, and men have
often said that war is a great school for such as will be taught. There
be those who learn not anything. I will not be one of them."

On pressed the army, plundering as it went, and great spoil went back to
England, but in its division the king cared for the lowly as well as
for the great, and there was no murmuring or dissatisfaction among the
men in the rants.

Again and again was the river Seine approached by the detachments of the
left wing. Truly, every bridge had been broken with care, to prevent a
crossing of the English. Richard had also many talks with Ben of
Coventry and with men who were brought by him. These also were
presented, a dozen at a time, to Sir Geoffrey and the Earl of Warwick,
for the two marshals were of one accord in this matter. No tools were
dealt out, however, nor was any work set the workmen, until a day when
the vanguard halted at a place called Poissy. There was no French army
here to meet them, and yet the city of Paris itself was but a few miles
farther on.

It was a gay sight, the lances and the pennons that rode out with the
van. Next came the royal standard, and under it, in full armor and with
his crowned helmet on, full knightly rode the king.

"Poissy!" he said. "Their last bridge, and it shall be for me, although
they have broken it down. Where is that London shipwright? Ha, man, look
yonder! What sayest thou?"

A short man, sturdy of build, was the shipwright, for he had already
been brought.

"My Lord the King," he responded, "I did go on with the young Neville
and that man of his from Coventry. The bridge is good enough. The
French took off the planks and some timbers, but they forgot to burn."

"Where are the timbers?" asked the king.

"Little on this side the river, but much on the other," said the
shipwright. "All that is lacking we can make from these trees."

"Time!" exclaimed the king. "I must have the bridge forthwith! To your

"Boats first," said the shipwright. "There be many on the far bank."

"Sire," interposed the Earl of Warwick, "I pray thee have patience.
Richard of Wartmont hath sent word to me concerning boats. I shall hear
again shortly."

"See that he fail not," said the king hardly, for ever did his temper
grow stern and unmerciful in such an hour as was this.

The army had now been led to the very place where all the plan of the
king was to be tested, for winning or for losing, and here, mayhap,
might his life or his crown be cast away.

Barely an hour earlier, however, lower down the river side, Richard
Neville and a party of his men had been scouting, by command of Sir
Thomas Holland. With him was the O'Rourke, and it was the Irish chief
whose keen eyes were the first to discern an important prize.

"Richard of Wartmont," he shouted, "Seest thou? Boats on the other
shore! They are not even guarded."

"I could not swim this water," replied Richard. "Can any of them?"

"Aye, were it thrice--ten times as wide," said the O'Rourke. "I myself."

"Off with thy armor and axe!" cried Richard. "Call thy best swimmers.
Bring me those boats. Guy the Bow, send a good runner to Sir Thomas
Holland or Sir Peter Legh. Bid them, from me, to tell the earl or Sir
Geoffrey I want a force to hold with on the other shore."

Before he had finished speaking, the Irish chief and a dozen of his
kerns were in the flood, swimming as if they had been so many water
fowl; but each man's long skein dagger knife was in his belt, and in his
left hand was a short spear, like those of the Welsh. They would not
land unarmed.

"God speed them!" shouted Richard. "At no place heretofore have we seen
a boat that we might hope to obtain."

'Twas a swiftly running river, and too wide for any but such swimmers as
were these; but they made light of it. Ere they could cross, their
coming was seen by men on the other shore, but none who were armed met
them as they came out of the water. Surely it had been grave negligence
of King Philip's officers to leave there so many as four fishing boats,
even if these were small. Wild and shrill rang out the slogan of the
Irish, as they seized upon oars and paddles and prepared to launch their

"They are out of arrow shot," said Richard to those who were with him;
"we could give them no aid."

Even as he spoke, the glint of spears might be seen above bushes at no
great distance down the opposite bank. No doubt there were horsemen
coming. The Irish had been unwise to shout, but boat after boat was
slipping into the stream.

"Haste! haste!" groaned Richard, "they will be lost, and the boats with

A score of lances in rest--a score of galloping horses--loud shouts of
angry men-at-arms--one moment of deadly peril--but then the brave kerns
with the last of the boats were springing into it, and the French riders
drew rein at the water's edge under a shower of javelins, only to know
that they were too late.

It was just then, moreover, that Sir Thomas Holland, having listened
eagerly to a Longwood archer, was shouting loudly, "To horse, brave
knights all! The Neville hath found boats!" and orders followed to all
foot soldiery within call.

"They come," said Richard, waiting his gallant kerns, "but yonder boats
will hold only eight men each, well crowded. We can gain no landing
against men-at-arms. Yonder, above, is a steeper bank, where horsemen
can not reach the brink--O'Rourke, on! Up stream!"

It was not far to go, and the French lancers could do no more than
follow as best they might, over rough ground and through dense
undergrowth. They were even out of sight, by reason of the clifflike
bank, when Richard Neville and some of his bowmen made the boats full
almost to sinking, and were swiftly ferried over.

"Haste now, indeed!" he ordered, but not loudly, as he stepped ashore.
"A few boat loads more and we can hold our own."

Whoever commanded the Frenchmen believed his enemies to be going on up
the river, for he and his appeared on the bank again a full half mile
above. Again and again had the wherries borne their English passengers,
and now they were going back for Sir Thomas Holland and the knights who
dismounted with him.

"Is the Neville mad?" he exclaimed. "He is forming his archery on the
hill. Look! 'Tis not ill done. There come King Philip's men-at-arms!
Heaven help him! We are too late!"

"But the boy is not mad at all," replied Sir Peter Legh. "The French
horses go down. There are not enough of them."

On the height, truly, had Richard formed his threescore or more of kerns
and bowmen, with others fast arriving, but it was behind a thick, low
hedge of old thorn bushes, fit to break a rush of cavalry. Here,
therefore, was shattered the line of the French men-at-arms; and while
they strove to force their horses through the thorns, they were good
marks for the arrows of Arden. Their horses were but lost animals, and
the good knights who rolled upon the ground surrendered rather than have
Irish spears driven between the bars of their helmets. So rapid, so
deadly was this killing of horses that not one did get away.

"I told thee!" said Sir Peter to Sir Thomas, in the boat that bore them.
"We shall find that he hath done a brave deed this day."

More loudly did they both aver that thing when they came to the scene of
the skirmish.

"Knights of ransom!" exclaimed Sir Thomas. "Did any escape?"

"I know not," said Richard, "but if more boats be at hand, above or
below, they are to be sought for. May not these four ply here, while we
march up the stream?"

"No use to scout below," replied Sir Thomas. "We are now twenty
men-at-arms, on foot, and near a hundred of thy kerns and bowmen. March!
We may all die, but we may win the bridge head."

On the other bank they could see the columns of Earl Warwick's men, sent
hurriedly to re-enforce them, and shortly the O'Rourke shouted,
"Another boat, and yet another twice larger, at the bank."

"That may save us," said Sir Peter, "but I would we were more in

So said the king himself, as he sat upon his palfrey and gazed across
the Seine, not long thereafter. The French had not left the bridge
without a guard, even if they had broken it down. Men of all arms were
there, with many crossbowmen, and at first they had but laughed and
derided what they supposed to be the utter disappointment of King

"Sire," exclaimed Sir Geoffrey of Harcourt, "the earl is right! Yonder
are Richard of Wartmont and his men."

"Too few! Too few!" muttered the king. "He is over rash. He hath lost

All had been lost, indeed, but for the swift plying of the larger boats
and the manner of their packing with brave men.

Sir Thomas Holland had now been joined by Gifford and Wakeham and good
swords not a few, and the archers had swarmed into all boats like bees;
with them were their stings, moreover, and most of all, mayhap, they
came upon the French at the bridge as a surprise.

Loudly were they jeering, and the crossbowmen were even hurling a few
useless bolts that fell halfway, as if to show the king what error he
had made. There were many unarmed also, that crowded closely, mocking at
the English.

Not upon these, but upon spearmen and crossbowmen, there suddenly fell a
flight of cloth-yard shafts, doing deadly work. In a moment the unarmed
mob was tangled with the soldiery, and all these were in confusion. How
many English were coming they knew not, for Sir Henry of Wakeham had
cunningly stretched out his line full widely, and it looked like a
strong force. There were a few good French knights who set their spears
in rest and charged rashly, to be unhorsed and taken, but the mixed mass
behind them surged away from the bridge head. Here, too, had been a
fort, not strong, but good enough for an occasion, and it was not at all

"Richard Neville," had said Sir Peter, "follow me. If we can gain yonder
tower and those palisades, the bridge is won."

Who would have deemed that a man in armor of proof could run so well!
But Sir Peter was even shoulder to shoulder with Guy the Bow and Richard
when they rushed into the empty fortalice.

"Won!" shouted Sir Peter. "Let in our own, but the French will rally;
they will be back upon us quickly enough."

Sir Henry and the rest had a sharp fight of many minutes ere they could
break through, but now the place was garrisoned, and the boats could
come in safety to the wharf below, behind the line of palisades.

"Sire," said Sir Geoffrey, "I will myself go over and care for the

"Thou wilt not," replied the king. "I will not risk thy head in that
cage until more men-at-arms may be with thee. There! 'tis Sir Henry of
Wakeham's own banner! I knew it not. The boy and his outlaws have gained
our crossing. Go, Sir Geoffrey, and take with thee the bridge-builders."

It was well for him and them, nevertheless, that their headlong rashness
had not cost them their lives, as it would have done, but for the
promptness and power of their re-enforcements.

"Wakeham," said Sir Geoffrey, in the bridgehead fort, "I may hardly
trust my eyes. Here could Philip have given us vast trouble, and now we
have none. We will have a camp here quickly, with ten thousand men in
it, lest we lose this advantage."

There were boats enough now, and the forces on that bank were growing
fast. They were pushing out, moreover, and they were skirmishing briskly
with sundry parties of the enemy who seemed to be without a general.
Therein was the secret of this matter. Philip of France had been taken
unawares by the bold, swift dash of Edward's army. Its vanguard had
reached Poissy, mayhap, two days before the French captains had deemed
it possible for it to get there.

The night came and went, and it was the next midday when Richard Neville
stood on the wharf, watching the London shipwrights ply their tools and
swing the timbers into place.

"A man who would move an army," he said aloud, "must needs learn how to
build a bridge. I can row a boat, but I must swim better. Those Irish
are as nimble as fishes in the water."

A deep voice hailed him at the moment, and he quickly turned.

"Sir Geoffrey!" he exclaimed.

"This to the king," said the marshal, holding out a very small parcel,
like a letter. "Come thou not back, save by the king's command, till
thou hast carried this also to the earl. Take with thee only a boat load
of thy men, but go not alone, for thy errand must not miscarry."

So happened it, then, that only David Griffith and a dozen Welshmen went
with him, whose tongue he spoke not; but on the other shore his boat was
waited for by the Earl of Warwick and none other, by chance.

"Glad am I," said Richard, giving him Sir Geoffrey's parcel, and the
earl read hastily.

"To the king!" he shouted. "I go with thee. The good knight reasons
well. We must harry and burn to the Paris streets, that we may know
what power is there. He hath word that the allies and the levies of
Philip of France are very near to come."

"The bridge buildeth fast," said Richard. "Ben of Coventry saith that by
the morrow there will be a footway for twain abreast."

"Aye," replied the earl, "but not for horses nor for wains. Three days
more for them."

The English army was now holding both sides of the stream, and the
quarters of the king were in the old chateau of Poissy, not far from the
bridge. Small was his care for state, however, and plain was his
ordering, as of a soldier in the field. None hindered the earl marshal,
and the king's officer of the house, that day, was Sir John of Chandos,
good knight and true.

A greeting, a courteous reverence from Sir John to the earl, a word or
so of command, and Richard was before the king in the audience hall of
the chateau.

Cold, hard, and stern, like iron and like ice, was the face of his
Majesty, as he opened and read the letter from Sir Geoffrey.

"Neville," said he to Richard, "hast thou spoken to any but the earl?"

"Not so, Sire," said Richard. "I did meet him at the river bank."

"Thou art young," said the king; "be prudent also, on thy head. Tell no
man, high or low, that Philip hath already forty thousand men in Paris.
If thou shalt betray that matter, thou diest."

"He useth not his tongue overmuch," said the earl, for the king's word
pleased him not. "But he hath somewhat more to say."

"Let him say on," growled the king, for it was shown that he was sore
wroth ere they came.

"If it please the King," said Richard boldly, "a peasant whom I saw not
fled from the city and had speech with some of the Welshmen. He was of
Brittany, and their language was like to their understanding of each
other. He saith not forty thousand, but less than half, only that they
are mostly men-at-arms, with few horses to ride upon. There be many foot
soldiers from Brittany. I would go around the city in one night, if
David Griffith and another might go with me. Do not I speak French as do
those I am to meet?"

"Wilt thou let him go, Warwick?" said the king. "It were death if he
were taken."

"Richard, go thou!" said the earl. "If any question thee, tell that thou
art Richard de la Saye, for I now give thee that estate of mine in
Brittany. Thou wilt not speak falsely.--Sire, hath he not earned La

"Verily, if he keep his head and bring back true tidings, he will have
earned a manor or so," said the king less hardly. "I were in better
mood with better news, but I have word from York. The archbishop is
calling out all forces, for the Scottish clans are mustering and their
host will march for the border forthwith. Moreover, our barons are
sluggards, and our own re-enforcements do not come. We must even beat
the French with what we have. Not a man more than we landed with at La

"I will retire, then," said the earl. "I will send Richard speedily."

Out they did go, but Sir John of Chandos shook his head and looked
ruefully at Richard.

"Heed him not!" said the earl. "Keep thy heart strong. Make thou the
circuit of Paris and come again. It will be the easier because I shall
this night attack with a strong force the suburb and castle of St.
Germain, near the city."

Many other things he said, but Richard sent for David Griffith, and they
talked long together. Two more of Griffith's clansmen were called in,
and both agreed with no murmuring.

On foot, clad in full armor, with his helmet closed, armed with but
sword and dagger, attended only by the three Welshmen, as if they were
armed serving men, did Richard at the gloaming walk slowly along the St.
Germain road. By another way, he knew, the earl marshal was at that hour
pushing forward his force, but the sound of the combat had not yet

"We shall soon reach an outpost of the foe," he was thinking, when in a
shadowed hollow beyond him he heard one speak in French:

"Who cometh, in the king's name?"

"Normandy, with a countersign."

"Advance, Normandy, with the sign."

"For Philip the King, Guienne!"

"And all is well, Guienne," replied the sentry.

There was a slight clank of armor, for the French outpost was but
changing sentries, and the officer rode away.

"Now we know sign and countersign," said Richard, and he carefully
instructed his companions.

Hardly had he done so before a glare of red light, not far to the right,
told of hayricks set on fire by Warwick's men. There came sounds of
trumpets also, and of shouting, for the attack had begun.

"Forward, now," said Richard; "we are safe, if once within their lines."

Loud and angry was the summons of the French vidette, startled sorely.

"De la Saye, Normandy, with a countersign," responded Richard.

"Advance, De la Saye and Normandy, with a sign," replied the sentry.

"To Philip the King, Guienne," said Richard, "and I bid thee save thy
neck. The English are charging in."

"The Count d'Ivry," began the sentry.

"Cease thy chatter!" exclaimed Richard. "Go tell the count, from De la
Saye, that Earl Warwick is upon him. Bid him, from me, to send word
speedily to the king, lest he lose his head."

"Aye, Sieur de la Saye," spoke yet another voice from one who sat upon a
horse in the road. "Thou hast scouted far and well. I am the Count de la
Torre, of Provence. I will report well of thee to the king. Our other
scouts are worthless. What force sawest thou with the earl?"

"A thousand men-at-arms, about three thousand foot, in the advance. What
more behind them knoweth no man. But there surely is no need to lose St.
Germain this night."

Fiercely loud were the sayings of the count concerning the carelessness
and bad management of the French captains. They had lost the bridge of
Poissy. They were keeping but poor guard elsewhere. Now, but for this
Sieur de la Saye, of Brittany, naught would have been known of Warwick's
dash upon the city.

Therefore forward marched Richard and his Welshmen, and for a distance
De la Torre rode beside them, questioning right soldierly concerning all
that they had seen. But he spoke not, he said, the tongue of the
peasants of Brittany.

"Were we all born in Paris," said David, after the count left him, "we
could hardly be safer than we now are. But our peril will come in
getting out."

"Great will it be," said Richard, "if we escape not before they change
the countersign. We will walk fast and work while we may."

There were many camps to look upon, by their camp fires, and not too
nearly. Richard himself had speech of even knights and men-at-arms, all
of them disturbed in mind by the sudden advance of Earl Warwick. Each in
turn, as it were, upbraided the slow arriving of King Philip's allies
and levies, and especially of certain large bodies of mercenaries from
the low countries and from Italy.

The Welshmen found no troops from Brittany until near the dawn, and then
it was but at an outpost. Sleepy and dull were the half score of pikemen
who were rudely aroused to hear the Sieur de la Saye scolding their
brigadier for carelessness, and compelling him to repeat the countersign
more correctly.

Griffith and his two men spake, and then they were silent, suddenly.

"On, my Lord of Wartmont!" whispered David hoarsely. "On, for thy head!
Some of these men came from within two leagues of La Saye. One cometh to
the brigadier."

A few quick paces and they were beyond the camp firelight. It was a
place of trees and bushes. Sharp voices heard they contending and

"Some one else hath come," said Richard. "The officer of the guard, with
horsemen. Into the forest! Haste!"

Down dropped they behind cover, but men-at-arms went charging down the
road, for one of the peasant pikemen had told to the brigadier, and then
to a knight:

"The château La Saye is a heritage of the English Earl Warwick, and it
hath no French owner."

"Go! a spy!" roared the knight. "We will teach him a lesson!"

A youth brought up near Longwood and three Welshmen from the hills were
not men easily to be found in a forest; surely not by heavily armed
French cavalry. It was high noon, nevertheless, when Richard marched
wearily into an encampment over which floated the flag of Sir Thomas

Free was his welcome; but when he stood before his good friend the
knight he did but put a finger to his lips, and say:

"Sir Thomas, the king, and him only!"

"Speak thou no other word!" exclaimed Sir Thomas. "Come with me
speedily. The earl told me of thy going. Glad am I to see thee again

No other was allowed to question them as they went; but Sir Geoffrey of
Harcourt, and not Earl Warwick, was with King Edward when his young spy
of Paris stood before him.

"Speak thou slowly and with care," he said, and Richard told his tale.

"Three days, and Philip's main host will be within striking distance?"
murmured the king at last. "Chandos, go thou to Warwick and bid him
smite fast and hard, burning tower and hamlet. Harcourt, move every man
and horse across the bridge as fast as it will bear them. Our five days
here will be enough for rest. On the sixth we must be a full day's march
in advance of this huge mob of French, Germans, Bohemians, Italians, and
what not. Now, my lords and gentlemen, for a great battlefield and for
the taking of Calais. Our barons of the north counties must deal with
David of Scotland and his overtreacherous raid."

Out went all orders speedily, but the prince, with half the army, was
already on the farther bank of the Seine. Richard's men were there also,
and he was sent to join them; but bitter and destructive was the work
done by the earl marshal in the outskirts of Paris, while the bridge was
finishing, and while the army moved on, out of camp after camp.

Even as the king had commanded, the sixth day found his rear guard half
a day's march beyond Poissy, seemingly in hot retreat. Philip of France
had been as busy as had been his English rival, and his vast host was
also moving. But it was not well in hand, nevertheless, for after that,
from camp to camp, from river to river, day after day, the perfectly
trained forces of Edward kept just beyond his reach, as if they were
enticing him to follow.

There was many a sharp skirmish, and the French captains believed that
their foe had often but narrowly escaped.

'Twas the king's plan, nor did he at any time hasten his march, and at
last he said to his two marshals, mockingly:

"Philip hath me now, indeed, between his host and this river Somme and
the sea. But I think the men and the beasts are not overwearied, and we
have left but a desert behind us. Yet three days now, and we may need to
retreat no more."



"'Tis yet an hour before the tide will be out, but I believe that
horsemen might cross now."

The speaker was a clownish-looking man wearing the wooden shoes and
coarse blouse of a French peasant. He stood at the stirrup of a knight
in black armor, whose questions he was answering.

"Sir Henry of Wakeham," the prince said, "send in thy men-at-arms. Post
thy archers on the bank, right and left. We shall soon see if Godemar du
Fay can bar the Somme against us."

"The archers are already posted," replied Sir Henry; "Neville and his
Warwickshire men hold the right. The men of Suffolk and Kent are on the

"Forward, in the king's name!" commanded the young general, for his
royal father had given him charge of the advance.

It was a critical moment, for if the ford of Blanche Taque should not
be forced, the entire English army would be hemmed in between the river
Somme and the hosts of France. It was but little after sunrise, and
Edward had sent orders to all his captains to move forward.

The river Somme was wider here than in its deeper channels above and
below. The opposite bank was held by a force that was evidently strong,
but its numbers were of less account at the outset. Only a few from
either side could contend for the passage of Blanche Taque.

Therefore these were the chosen knights of all England who now rode into
the water, finding it nearly up to their horse girths.

Forward from the other shore rode in the men-at-arms of Godemar du Fay
to hold the ford for Philip of Valois.

"Now is our time!" shouted Richard to his archers. "Guy the Bow, let
every archer draw his arrow to the head!"

Ill fared it then for the French riders when among them, aimed at horses
rather than at men, flew the fatal messengers of the marksmen from the
forest of Arden. Lances were fiercely thrust, maces and swords rang
heavily upon helm and shield; but soon the French column fell into
confusion. Its front rank failed of support and was driven steadily
back. It was almost as if the English champions went on without pausing;
and in a few minutes they were pushing forward and widening their front
upon the land.

Blanche Taque was taken, for of Godemar du Fay's twelve thousand, only a
thousand were men-at-arms. When the regular ranks of these were broken,
his ill-disciplined infantry took to flight and the battle was over. All
the while the tide was running out.

"Stand fast, O'Rourke!" called Richard to the impatient Irish chieftain,
who was striding angrily back and forth in front of his line of axemen.

"Ay, but, my Lord of Wartmont," returned the O'Rourke, "there is
fighting, and we are not in the battle. Hark!"

"Neville, advance! Thou and all thine to the front, seeking Wakeham. In
the king's name, forward!"

A knight in bright armor had drawn rein at a little distance, and he
pointed toward the ford as he spoke. It was crowded still by Sir Thomas
Gifford's men-at-arms, but the battle on the other shore had drifted far

"Forward, O'Rourke!" shouted Richard. "Forward, Guy the Bow! Forward,
David Griffith! Good fortune is with us. We are to be under the prince's
own command."

Loud cheers replied, and with much laughter and full of courage
Richard's force waded into the shallow Somme.

It was easy crossing now for all, with none to hinder. Then, as the
last flags of the English rearguard fluttered upon the left bank of the
Somme, good eyes might have discovered on the horizon the banners of the
foremost horsemen of King Philip. He had marched fast and far that
morning, and once more the English army seemed barely to have escaped

"A cunning hunter is our good lord the king," remarked Ben o' Coventry
to his fellows as they pushed on.

"Thou art ever malapert," said Guy the Bow. "What knowest thou of the
thoughts of thy betters?"

"He who runs may read," said Ben. "Can a Frenchman live without eating?"

"I trow not," responded Guy. "What is thy riddle?"

"Did we not waste the land as we came?" said Ben. "Hath not Philip these
three days marched through the waste? I tell thee that when he is over
the Somme he must fight or starve. Well for us, and thanks to the king,
that we are to meet a host that is both footsore and half famished. I
can put down a hungry man any day."

Deep indeed had been the wisdom of the king, and his army encamped that
Thursday night, without fear of an attack, and the next morning they
again went on.

Edward himself rode forward in the advance, after the noontide of
Friday, and during the whole march he seemed to be searching the land
with his eyes.

"Sir John of Chandos," he exclaimed at last, "see yon windmill on the
hill. This is the place I sought. Ride thou with me." The hill was not
very high, and its sides sloped away gently. The king dismounted at the
door of the mill and gazed in all directions.

"They will come from the west," he said, "with the sun in their eyes.
Yon is our battlefield. Here we will bide their onset. Chandos, knowest
thou that I am to fight Philip of Valois on mine own land?"

"The village over there is called Crécy," replied Sir John. "Truly, the
crown of France is thine, rather than Philip's!"

"Ay, so," said Edward, "whether or no he can keep it from me; but this
broad vale and the village and the chateaux are my inheritance from my
grandmother. Seest thou that ditch to the right, with its fellow on the
left? I trust they have good depth. 'Tis a field prepared!"

After that he rode slowly, with his son and a gallant company,
throughout the camps, talking kindly and familiarly with high and low
alike, and bidding all to trust God and be sure of victory. Brave men
were they, and well did they love their king, but it was good for their
courage that they should see his face and hear his voice, and assure
their hearts that they had a great captain for their commander.

In number they were about as many as had sailed at the first from
England, small losses by the way, and the absence of those left as
garrisons of strongholds captured in Normandy, having been made good by
later arrivals.

This first duty done, the king went to his quarters in the neighboring
castle of La Broye, and here he gave a grand entertainment to all his
captains and gentlemen of note. There was much music at the royal feast,
and every man was inspired to do his best on the morrow. All the
instruments sounded together loudly, at the close, when the warriors,
who were so soon to fight to the death, arose to their feet and stood
then in silence, while the king and the prince turned away and walked
out of the hall together, no man following.

"Whither go they?" whispered the Earl of Hereford to Sir John Chandos.

"As it doth well become our king at this hour," replied Sir John. "They
go to the chapel of La Broye to pray for victory. 'Twill do our men no
harm to be told that the king and the prince are on their knees."

"Verily, my men shall know," said Richard Neville to Sir Thomas Gifford.

All of Edward's army, save the watchers and sentries, slept soundly
that night. It was wonderful how little uncertainty they had about the
result of the battle.

The morning came, but there were clouds in the sky and the air was
sultry. It was Saturday, the 26th of August, 1346.

Edward the king posted himself at the windmill. On the slope and below
it were a third of his men-at-arms and a strong body of footmen. This
was the reserve. In front thereof, the remainder of the army was
placed in the form of a great harrow, with its point--a blunt one
enough--toward the hill, and its beams marked by the ditch lines.

The right beam of this English harrow was commanded by the Black Prince
in person, and with him were the Earls of Warwick and Hereford, Geoffrey
of Harcourt, and Sir John Chandos, with many another famous knight.
Their force was less than a thousand men-at-arms, with many Irish and
Welsh, but they were especially strong in bowmen, for the king retained
few archers with him.

But little less was the strength of the left beam of the harrow,
commanded by the earls of Northampton and Arundel.

"Fortune hath favored us!" exclaimed one of the men-at-arms to his young
commander; "we are well placed here at the right. We shall be among the
first to face the French!"

"Here cometh the prince," responded Richard, "with his Red Dragon banner
of Wales. The royal standard is with the king at the mill."

Reviewing the lines with care, and giving many orders as he came, the
prince rode up, clad in his plain black armor and wearing the helmet of
a simple esquire.

"Richard Neville," he said, as he drew near, "see that thou dost thy
devoir this day."

Richard's head bowed low as the prince wheeled away. As he again sat
erect upon his war horse a voice near him muttered:

"Ho! seest thou? The French are coming!"

Richard looked, and in the distance he could see a glittering and a
flag, but after a long gaze he replied:

"It is too soon. Those are but a band of skirmishers."

So it proved; and the long, hot hours went slowly by. At length the king
ordered that every man should be supplied with food and drink, that they
might not fight fasting.

Darker grew the clouds until they hung low over all the sky. Blue
flashes of lightning were followed by deafening thunder peals, and then
there fell a deluge of warm rain.

The English archers were posted in the front ranks along the harrow
beams, but the rain harmed not their bows. Every bowstring was as yet in
its case, with its hard spun silk securely dry.

"Hearken well, all," said Richard, addressing his men. "The prince
ordereth that there shall be no shouting. Fight with shut lips, and send
forth no shaft without a sure mark."

"We are to bite, and not to bark," said Ben o' Coventry in a low voice.
Then he added aloud: "Yon marshy level is better for the rain. A horse
might sink to his pasterns."

"The ditch runneth full," said Richard. "The king chose his battle
ground wisely."

"We are put behind the archery now," said David Griffith to his
Welshmen. "So are the Irish; but our time to fight will come soon

Most of the men-at-arms belonging to each beam of the harrow were drawn
up at the inner end, ready to mount and ride, but wasting no effort now
of horse or man.

"The very rain hath fought for England," remarked the prince to his
knights, as at the front they wheeled for their return. "There will be
hard marching for the host of Philip of Valois."

"They must come through deep mud and tangled country, my Lord the
Prince," replied the Earl of Warwick. "His huge rabble of horse and foot
will be sore crowded and well wearied."

Moreover, there was much free speech among the knights concerning the
difference between the opposing armies as to their training and

King Philip willed to begin the fight with an advance of his Genoese
crossbowmen, fifteen thousand strong. It was bolts against arrows. The
Genoese might have done better on another day, for their fame was great;
but at this hour they were at the end of a forced march of six leagues,
each man carrying his cumbrous weapon with its sheaf of bolts. This had
weakened their muscles and diminished their ardor; besides, the sudden
rain had soaked their bowstrings. The cords stretched when the strain of
the winding winch was put upon them, and had lost their spring, so that
they would not throw with good force. Their captains nevertheless drove
them forward, at the French king's command.

From his post at the mill foot the royal general of England surveyed the

"The day waneth," he said to his earls, "but the waiting is over. The
sun is low and sendeth the stronger glare into their eyes. Mark you how
closely packed is that hedge of men-at-arms and lances behind the
Genoese? Philip is mad!"

On pushed the crossbowmen, until they were well within the beams of the
broad harrow, but there they halted, to do somewhat with their bolts,
if they could; and they sent up a great shout. No answer came, for the
English archers stood silent, holding each a cloth-yard arrow ready for
the string.

Small harm was done by the feebly shot crossbow bolts, and the Genoese
were ordered to go nearer. They made a threatening rush indeed; but then
of their own accord they halted again and shouted, thinking perhaps to
terrify the English army.

Steady as statues stood the archers until the Earl of Hereford, at a
word from the prince, rode out to where he could be seen by all and
waved his truncheon.

Up came the bows along the serried lines, while each man chose his mark
as if he were shooting for a prize upon a holiday in merry England.

Those of the enemy who escaped to tell the tale said afterward that then
it seemed as if it snowed arrows, so swiftly twanged the strings and
sped the white shafts.

With yells of terror the stricken Genoese broke and fled; for by reason
of Edward's order of battle they were in a cross fire from the two beams
of the harrow, and few shots failed of a target among them.

Some of them even cut the damp strings of their useless crossbows as
they went, lest they should be bidden to turn and fight again. They were
now, however, only a pell-mell mob, and it was impossible to command

Behind the advance of the Genoese had been the splendid array of King
Philip's men-at-arms--a forest of lances. In a fair field, and handled
well, they were numerous enough to ride down the entire force of King
Edward. Against such an attack the English king had cunningly provided.
At no great distance in the rear of his knights rode Philip himself,
with kings and princes for his company; and fierce was his wrath over
the unexpected discomfiture of his luckless cross-bowmen.

"Slay me these cowardly scoundrels!" he shouted to his knights. "Charge
through them, smiting as ye go!"

Forward rode the thousands of the chivalry of France and Germany and
Bohemia, every mailed warrior among them being full of contempt for the
thin barrier of English foot soldiers. All they now needed, it seemed to
them, was to disentangle their panoplied war horses from that crowd of
panic-stricken Genoese. It would also be well if they could pass the wet
ground and avoid plunging against one another in the hurly burly.

But now was to be noted another proof of the wise forethought of the
English king. He had had prepared, and the prince had placed at short
intervals along the battle line, a number of the new machines called
"bombards." These were short, hollow tubes, made either of thick oaken
staves, bound together with strong straps of iron, or (as was said of
some of them) the staves themselves were bars of iron. Before this day,
none knew exactly when, there had been discovered by the alchemists a
curious compound that, packed into the bombards, would explode with
force when touched by fire, and hurl an iron ball to a great distance.
It would hurt whatever thing it might alight upon; but the king's
thought was rather that the loud explosions and the flying missiles
might affright the mettled horses of the French men-at-arms.

Soon the air was full of the roaring of these bombards, and they served
somewhat the king's purpose. But so little was then thought of this use
of gunpowder at Crécy that some who chronicled the battle, not having
been there to see and hear, failed even to mention it.

[Illustration: Soon the air was full of the roaring.]

The fine array of the gallant knights was now confused indeed. They
vainly sought to restore their broken order. Not only the manner of the
flight of the Genoese, and the greater force and longer line of the
right beam of the English harrow invited them to urge their steeds in
that direction, but there also floated the Red Dragon banner of the
Prince of Wales. Well did each good knight know that there was beating
the heart of the great battle.

Worse than the noisy wrath of bombards came now at the command of the
prince. To right and left, plying their bows as they went, wheeled
orderly sections of the archery lines, that through those gaps might
pass the fierce rush of the wild Welshmen. They were ordered forward,
not to contend with knights in armor of proof, but to slay the horses
with their javelins.

Terrible was the work they did, darting lightly to and fro; and it was
pitiful to see so many gallant knights rolled helplessly upon the
ground, encumbered by their armor. Nevertheless, many kept their
saddles, and broke through the Welsh to find themselves forced to draw
rein in front of the deep ditches that guarded the archery, who were
ever plying their deadly bows.

"Down lances!" shouted the Black Prince to his men-at-arms, at the head
of the harrow. "For England! For the king! St. George! Charge!"

More than two thousand mailed horsemen, of England's best, struck their
spurs deep as the royal trumpet sounded. Riders and horses were fresh
and unwearied.

There was the thunder of many hoofs, a crash of splintering lances, and
they were hand-to-hand with King Philip's disordered chivalry. Well for
him and his if he had then sounded a recall, so that his shattered
forces might be rearranged; but instead, he poured forward his reserves,
thereby increasing the pressure and the tumult, while the English
archers ever plied their bows with deadly effect.

It was then that the blind King of Bohemia, the ally of Philip in this
war, was told how the day was going. At his side rode several of his
nobles, and he said to them:

"I pray and beseech you that you lead me so far into the fight that I
may strike one blow with this sword of mine."

He had been accounted a knight of worth in his youth, and the spirit of
battle was yet strong upon him, neither did there yet seem to be good
reason why his request should not be granted. Therefore his friends on
either hand fastened the bridle bits of their horses on a line with his
own, and they rode bravely forward together.

Right hard was the strife that now went on, especially between the beams
of the harrow and toward the right. In the midst of it floated the Red
Dragon flag, and here the prince and his companions in arms were
contending against the greater numbers of their assailants. Here was the
center toward which all were pressing, and here, it was seen, the fate
of the battle was to be decided. For this very reason the pressure was
less upon the left beam of the harrow, and its captains could the better
observe the marvelous passage at arms around the prince.

"Sir Thomas Norwich," spoke the Earl of Northampton, "we must all go
forward and do our best. Ride thou to the king, and crave of him that he
send help with speed. We fear it is full time for the reserves to move,
if it be not even now too late."

Then the Earl of Arundel and other knights lowered their lances, and
setting spurs to their horses charged into the thickest press.

Away spurred the knight of Norwich, and ere many minutes had elapsed he
gave the message to the king at the foot of the windmill; for there had
the king been standing all the while watching the course of the battle
with better perception than could be had by any of those who were in it.
He could therefore discern in what manner Philip of Valois was defeating
himself, crushing his own forces.

"Is my son dead, or unhorsed, or so wounded that he can not help
himself?" he calmly inquired of the messenger.

"No, Sire," responded Norwich; "but he is in a hard passage at arms, and
sorely needeth your help."

"Return thou, Sir Thomas, to those who sent thee," said the king, "and
bid them not to send to me so long as my son liveth. Let the boy win his
spurs; for, if God so order it, I will that the day may be his, and that
the honor may be with him and with them to whom I gave it in charge."

No more could the good knight say, and back he rode without company.

There were those who thought it hard of the king, but better it was that
he should hold his reserves for utter need.

Nevertheless, the aspect seemed to be growing darker to the true English
hearts that were fighting in the press. They saw not, as the king did,
that, owing to his cunning plan of battle, more in number of the English
than of the enemy were at any instant actually smiting, save at the
center, around the prince himself.

Dark as was the seeming, the heart of none was failing.

"To the prince! To the prince!" shouted Richard Neville, as the space in
front of him was cleared somewhat of foemen. "Follow me!" Forward he
went, and loudly rang out behind him the battle shouts of his men. They
were fewer than at the beginning, but boldly and loyally they had closed
up shoulder to shoulder.

Richard's horse was slain under him by a thrust from a German pike; but
the rider was lifted to his feet in time to meet the rush of the King of
Bohemia and his friends. Their horses were sadly hampered by that
hitching together of bridles, and were rearing, plunging, unmanageable.
More than one blow had the old, blind hero given that day, as he had
willed. None knew now by whose arrows his horse and those of his
comrades went down, but after they were unhorsed the wild tide of the
battle passed over them, for none of them rose again.

"To the prince!" shouted Richard fiercely. "I saw his crest go down!"

The arrows and darts flew fast as the young hero of Wartmont fought his
way in amid the crash of swords and lances.

"Now, Heaven be praised!" he cried out, "I see the prince! He liveth!"

He said no more, for before him stood a tall knight with a golden wing
upon his helmet, and wielding a battle-axe.

Clang, clang, followed blow on blow between those twain. It had been
harder for Richard but that his foe was wearied with the heat and the
long combat. Well and valorously did each hold his own, but a blow from
another blade fell upon Richard's bosom, cleaving his breastplate. Then,
even as he sank, across him strode what seemed some giant, and a wild
cry in the Irish tongue went up as the O'Rourke poleaxe fell upon the
shoulder of the knight of the golden wing.

"On!" shouted the furious chief. "On, men of the fens! Forward,
Connaught and Ulster! Vengeance for our young lord! Down with the

Hundreds of strong Irish had followed their leader, and timely indeed
was their coming, for the sun was sinking, and need was to win the
victory speedily.

"Alas!" said Guy the Bow, as he bent over Richard. "I pray thee, tell
me, art thou deadly hurt, my lord?"

"Lift me!" gasped Richard. "Put me upon my feet. I would fight on and
fall with the prince."

Quickly they lifted him, but he staggered faintly and leaned upon Guy
the Bow.

"I fear he is sore hurt," muttered Guy.

But at that moment there arose a great shouting. It began among the
reserves who were with the king on the slope of the hill.

"They fly! The foe are breaking! The day is ours! The field is won! God
and St. George for England, and for the king!"

It was true, for the army of the King of France could bear no more. All
things were against them. They could neither fight in ranks nor flee
from the cloth-yard shafts.

The prince came near the group around Richard, and, pausing from giving
swift orders to his knights, he stepped forward.

"'Tis Richard of Wartmont!" he exclaimed. "Is he dying?"

Straight up stood Richard, raising his visor. He was ghastly pale, but
his voice had partly come back to him.

"I think not, Prince Edward," he faltered. "But I thank Heaven that thou
art safe!"

"Courage!" said the prince. "The field is ours, and thou hast won honor
this day. Bear him with me to the king."

Here and there brave fragments of what had been the mighty host of
France held out and still fought on; but they were not enough. All
others sought to save themselves as best they might from the pitiless
following of the English. Those in the rear who fled at once were safe
enough, and the sunset and the evening shadows were good friends to many
more of the French. Most fortunate were such horsemen as had not been
able to get into the harrow, for only about twelve hundred knights were
slain. With them, however, fell eleven princes and the King of Bohemia,
and thirty thousand footmen. The King of France himself was a fugitive
that night, seeking where he might hide his head.

From his place on the hill King Edward of England watched the closing of
the great day of Crécy, and now before him stood a strange array. Shorn
plumes, cloven crests or none, battered and bloody armor, broken swords,
shivered lances, battle-worn faces, lighted somewhat by pride of
victory, were arrayed before him. All were on foot, and each man bowed
the knee.

Few, but weighty and noble with thanks and honor, were the words of the
king. More he would say, he told them, when he should better know each
man's meed of praise.

At length the Black Prince came forward, and he knelt before his father,
to rise a knight, for he had won his spurs.

"Richard of Wartmont!" cheerily spoke the king. "Come thou!"

"Sore wounded, Sire," said Sir Henry of Wakeham; "but I will aid."

"Not so," exclaimed the prince. "I will bring him myself."

When Richard was brought before King Edward, he heard but faintly the
words that made him a knight:

"Arise, Sir Richard of Wartmont!"

[Illustration: "Arise, Sir Richard of Wartmont!"]

All strength and life that were yet in Richard had helped him to lean
upon the prince's arm, to kneel, to rise again, and to hear, almost
without hearing, the good words of the king. Then he stepped backward,
and Guy the Bow put an arm around him and said lovingly:

"Sir Richard of Wartmont, proud will thy lady mother be! I trow the war
is over. When thy wounds are well healed we will take thee home to her."

Long after the sun went down strong detachments of King Edward's army
were busily at work gathering in the fruits of the victory. Not that
there was any effort to take prisoners of the common men, but that many
knights who could pay good ransom lay upon the field sore wounded or
encumbered with their armor. Moreover, there was great spoil of arms,
and of other matters of war and peace.

Heavily slumbered Richard Neville, and a careless watcher might have
thought him dead; but those who were with him watched lovingly,
listening for every breath, and moving him with care at times.

"He waketh!" whispered Guy the Bow, as the light began to come in
through the high window of the room in the château La Broye. "The leech
will soon be here."

Even as he spoke there entered a small, slight man in the black dress of
the king's physicians. No word he spoke, but he bent low over the sword
mark upon Richard's ribs, removing its cover.

"Is this all?" he asked of Guy.

"Save bruises," said Guy, "no other hurt have we found."

"The youth will do well," replied the leech. "He fell rather from heat
and exhaustion of the long fray than from this blow. Not a rib is cut

He gave simple directions only, and he passed out, but he heard from
Ben of Coventry:

"That man hath good sense. My Lady of Wartmont will not lose her son."

"But the leech did it not," said Guy. "More was done by the thickness of
yonder cloven breastplate. He will need long rest."

So did the army, but the king gave it no more than was needful. Before
the close of that day all knew that the King of France himself had been
taken, and that the war had no more great battles in it.

All news was brought to Richard by his friends, for among them came Earl
Warwick and Sir Geoffrey and the Earl of Arundel, and many another whose
coming was high honor to the young Knight of Wartmont.

Only the third day thence, and Richard stood almost firmly upon his
feet, for Sir John Chandos entered the room.

"The king," he said, "and with him is the prince."

In a moment more it was to Richard as if he had gained sudden strength,
for before him stood the two royal warriors.

"Nay, man, sit thee down!" commanded the king; but the Black Prince
stepped forward and grasped his hand.

"I heard thee, Richard Neville," he said most graciously--"I heard thee
in the fray, when thou didst bid thy men fight on and die with thee and
me. I will trust thee!"

The king had looked kindly into Richard's face, and now he spoke again:

"Neville of Wartmont, whether or not thou goest to the seashore in a
litter, thou wilt set out to-morrow. Haste is not needed so much as a
trusty messenger. Thy packet will be ready for thee, and thou wilt also
have in thy mind unwritten words for the Archbishop of York. Rest thou
to-night. The prince will come to thee, not I; so will the earl."

Not long were ever the speeches of the king, but Sir John Chandos now
came in again, for he had left them, and with him he brought a sword
with a silver hilt and cross.

"This is for thee, Richard Neville," said the prince, "for thine own was
broken. Wear it bravely thou wilt. It was found among the baggage of the
King of France, and they say it hath been carried by more than one
crowned head. It is my token of good will, and the king's."

Richard knelt low to take the sheathed blade, but as he arose they
departed. A little later it was as if all the archers of Longwood felt
that the royal sword had been given to them, so proud were they of their
young knight and captain.

Full a hundred of them, moreover, were permitted to return by ship with
Richard. Much spoil went with them, and more had gone before them, and
each man went with a promise and a command to return with many men like
himself to aid the king before the walls of Calais.

Not in a litter would Richard travel the next day, after long converse
with the prince, but upon an ambling palfrey whose paces pained him not.

It was a small seaport to which the prince's order sent him. Even three
long days were wasted before the arrival of the craft that was to bear
Richard and his men across the Channel. Rough, not smooth, was their
passage to Portsmouth, but the sea was clear of all foemen.

It was well on in September, therefore, when a column of bowmen, with
Richard at their head, rode through the gate of Warwick town. The
tidings of Crécy had reached the whole land much earlier, but the people
poured out of all the houses to see the first returning of the men who
had won the great day.

Richard now rode a good horse and wore his armor, with the crested
helmet of a knight, with a gold chain and spurs, and he was girded with
the king's gift sword.

There was great shouting, and the Mayor met him, bidding him to a feast
at the Town Hall, where many knights and gentlemen and rich burghers
were to welcome him, and to hear whatever he could tell of the war in

This, too, he well knew, was of the will of the king, to stir the
loyalty of his lieges at home and to content them concerning the taxes
he yet must levy.

But on rode Richard to the castle gateway, and therein were many noble

"I see her!" he thought. "Is she not beautiful in her long white robe
and with the pearls in her white hair?"

Down sprang the young knight, as if he had had never a wound, but ere
his feet were on the earth his mother's arms were around him.

"I have thee again!" she exclaimed. "Thou art like thy father, O my

She was silent then, and her eyes were closed, but her lips moved a
little. If it were a prayer of thanks, its words were heard only by Him
who is above.

The Countess of Warwick came next, and many that were Nevilles or
Beauchamps, or of kindred houses, and they led him on into the castle.

"Mother," he said, "it is almost like a dream!"

"Thou wilt rest thee here," she said, after he told under what duty he
was bound. "I can not let thee go at once."

"The king bade me make no haste," he replied, "but rather to be his
newsman to all who would inquire of the army and of its deeds. So shall
there be better content."

It was a grand feasting at the Town Hall. The archers from Crécy field
were feasted by themselves ere they set out for home, and many a stout
bowman who saw how well they were and heard their tales, was eager to
march with them whenever the king again might send to bid them muster.

Of necessity the resting at Warwick was but brief, and then Sir Richard
Neville and a party of men-at-arms rode northward. Not in haste, like
his first journey, was this he was making now. Hard was it to pass by or
to get away from any tower or town to which he came; but everywhere he
did the errand upon which the king had sent him, and everywhere were all
men readier than before in their loyalty and their service of the crown,
whether they were barons or commons.

Even more than to the king was the praise they were willing to give the

Once again, as he drew near, did Richard wonder at the spire of York
Cathedral, and once more was he led on into the audience hall, and then
into the oratory of the archbishop, that he might deliver privately the
letters and the messages of the king. Pale somewhat was the face of the
good prelate, but very calmly he read and he listened.

"My son," he said at last, "all is well. We will give God praise for the
good news from France, but thou knowest that the Scottish host is in

"I have heard much," said Richard.

"Then know also that ere this they are face to face with our own lines.
A battle as great as that of Crécy----"

Loud shouts were heard in the street without, and then in the great

"My son!" exclaimed the archbishop, listening with lifted hand.

Open swung the door, and a barefooted friar rushed in.

"My Lord Archbishop! A knight from the battle! The Scottish host is

But close behind him strode a man in armor, covered with dust,
unhelmeted, and marked by a fresh sword cut on his face.

"I waited not, my Lord Archbishop," he said. "King David of Scotland is
a prisoner! His army is routed! He hath lost his crown!--What, Richard,
art thou here?"

"Praise be to Heaven, Sir Robert Johnstone!" responded the archbishop.
"He cometh from the king's victory at Crécy----"

"Knighted!" exclaimed Sir Robert. "Then I will tell thee, Sir Richard
Neville of Wartmont, this victory of our English bowmen over the clans
and the men-at-arms of Scotland hath been won at the field of Neville's
Cross. All the king's counsel hath prevailed, and his realm is safe!"

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