Part 8 out of 12
abandon me to perish thus miserably!---They hear me not---they
cannot hear me---my voice is lost in the din of battle.---The
smoke rolls thicker and thicker---the fire has caught upon the
floor below---O, for one drought of the air of heaven, were it to
be purchased by instant annihilation!" And in the mad frenzy of
despair, the wretch now shouted with the shouts of the fighters,
now muttered curses on himself, on mankind, and on Heaven itself.
---"The red fire flashes through the thick smoke!" he exclaimed;
"the demon marches against me under the banner of his own element
---Foul spirit, avoid!---I go not with thee without my comrades
---all, all are thine, that garrison these walls---Thinkest thou
Front-de-Boeuf will be singled out to go alone?---No---the
infidel Templar---the licentious De Bracy---Ulrica, the foul
murdering strumpet---the men who aided my enterprises---the dog
Saxons and accursed Jews, who are my prisoners---all, all shall
attend me---a goodly fellowship as ever took the downward road
---Ha, ha, ha!" and he laughed in his frenzy till the vaulted
roof rang again. "Who laughed there?" exclaimed Front-de-Boeuf,
in altered mood, for the noise of the conflict did not prevent
the echoes of his own mad laughter from returning upon his ear
---"who laughed there?---Ulrica, was it thou?---Speak, witch, and
I forgive thee---for, only thou or the fiend of hell himself
could have laughed at such a moment. Avaunt---avaunt!------"
But it were impious to trace any farther the picture of the
blasphemer and parricide's deathbed.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or, close the wall up with our English dead.
--------------- And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture---let us swear
That you are worth your breeding.
King Henry V
Cedric, although not greatly confident in Ulrica's message,
omitted not to communicate her promise to the Black Knight and
Locksley. They were well pleased to find they had a friend
within the place, who might, in the moment of need, be able to
facilitate their entrance, and readily agreed with the Saxon that
a storm, under whatever disadvantages, ought to be attempted, as
the only means of liberating the prisoners now in the hands of
the cruel Front-de-Boeuf.
"The royal blood of Alfred is endangered," said Cedric.
"The honour of a noble lady is in peril," said the Black Knight.
"And, by the Saint Christopher at my baldric," said the good
yeoman, "were there no other cause than the safety of that poor
faithful knave, Wamba, I would jeopard a joint ere a hair of his
head were hurt."
"And so would I," said the Friar; "what, sirs! I trust well that
a fool---I mean, d'ye see me, sirs, a fool that is free of his
guild and master of his craft, and can give as much relish and
flavour to a cup of wine as ever a flitch of bacon can---I say,
brethren, such a fool shall never want a wise clerk to pray for
or fight for him at a strait, while I can say a mass or flourish
a partisan." And with that he made his heavy halberd to play
around his head as a shepherd boy flourishes his light crook.
"True, Holy Clerk," said the Black Knight, "true as if Saint
Dunstan himself had said it.---And now, good Locksley, were it
not well that noble Cedric should assume the direction of this
"Not a jot I," returned Cedric; "I have never been wont to study
either how to take or how to hold out those abodes of tyrannic
power, which the Normans have erected in this groaning land. I
will fight among the foremost; but my honest neighbours well know
I am not a trained soldier in the discipline of wars, or the
attack of strongholds."
"Since it stands thus with noble Cedric," said Locksley, "I am
most willing to take on me the direction of the archery; and ye
shall hang me up on my own Trysting-tree, an the defenders be
permitted to show themselves over the walls without being stuck
with as many shafts as there are cloves in a gammon of bacon at
"Well said, stout yeoman," answered the Black Knight; "and if I
be thought worthy to have a charge in these matters, and can find
among these brave men as many as are willing to follow a true
English knight, for so I may surely call myself, I am ready, with
such skill as my experience has taught me, to lead them to the
attack of these walls."
The parts being thus distributed to the leaders, they commenced
the first assault, of which the reader has already heard the
When the barbican was carried, the Sable Knight sent notice of
the happy event to Locksley, requesting him at the same time, to
keep such a strict observation on the castle as might prevent the
defenders from combining their force for a sudden sally, and
recovering the outwork which they had lost. This the knight was
chiefly desirous of avoiding, conscious that the men whom he led,
being hasty and untrained volunteers, imperfectly armed and
unaccustomed to discipline, must, upon any sudden attack, fight
at great disadvantage with the veteran soldiers of the Norman
knights, who were well provided with arms both defensive and
offensive; and who, to match the zeal and high spirit of the
besiegers, had all the confidence which arises from perfect
discipline and the habitual use of weapons.
The knight employed the interval in causing to be constructed a
sort of floating bridge, or long raft, by means of which he hoped
to cross the moat in despite of the resistance of the enemy.
This was a work of some time, which the leaders the less
regretted, as it gave Ulrica leisure to execute her plan of
diversion in their favour, whatever that might be.
When the raft was completed, the Black Knight addressed the
besiegers:---"It avails not waiting here longer, my friends; the
sun is descending to the west---and I have that upon my hands
which will not permit me to tarry with you another day. Besides,
it will be a marvel if the horsemen come not upon us from York,
unless we speedily accomplish our purpose. Wherefore, one of ye
go to Locksley, and bid him commence a discharge of arrows on the
opposite side of the castle, and move forward as if about to
assault it; and you, true English hearts, stand by me, and be
ready to thrust the raft endlong over the moat whenever the
postern on our side is thrown open. Follow me boldly across, and
aid me to burst yon sallyport in the main wall of the castle. As
many of you as like not this service, or are but ill armed to
meet it, do you man the top of the outwork, draw your bow-strings
to your ears, and mind you quell with your shot whatever shall
appear to man the rampart---Noble Cedric, wilt thou take the
direction of those which remain?"
"Not so, by the soul of Hereward!" said the Saxon; "lead I
cannot; but may posterity curse me in my grave, if I follow not
with the foremost wherever thou shalt point the way---The quarrel
is mine, and well it becomes me to be in the van of the battle."
"Yet, bethink thee, noble Saxon," said the knight, "thou hast
neither hauberk, nor corslet, nor aught but that light helmet,
target, and sword."
"The better!" answered Cedric; "I shall be the lighter to climb
these walls. And,---forgive the boast, Sir Knight,---thou shalt
this day see the naked breast of a Saxon as boldly presented to
the battle as ever ye beheld the steel corslet of a Norman."
"In the name of God, then," said the knight, "fling open the
door, and launch the floating bridge."
The portal, which led from the inner-wall of the barbican to the
moat, and which corresponded with a sallyport in the main wall of
the castle, was now suddenly opened; the temporary bridge was
then thrust forward, and soon flashed in the waters, extending
its length between the castle and outwork, and forming a slippery
and precarious passage for two men abreast to cross the moat.
Well aware of the importance of taking the foe by surprise, the
Black Knight, closely followed by Cedric, threw himself upon the
bridge, and reached the opposite side. Here he began to thunder
with his axe upon the gate of the castle, protected in part from
the shot and stones cast by the defenders by the ruins of the
former drawbridge, which the Templar had demolished in his
retreat from the barbican, leaving the counterpoise still
attached to the upper part of the portal. The followers of the
knight had no such shelter; two were instantly shot with
cross-bow bolts, and two more fell into the moat; the others
retreated back into the barbican.
The situation of Cedric and of the Black Knight was now truly
dangerous, and would have been still more so, but for the
constancy of the archers in the barbican, who ceased not to
shower their arrows upon the battlements, distracting the
attention of those by whom they were manned, and thus affording
a respite to their two chiefs from the storm of missiles which
must otherwise have overwhelmed them. But their situation was
eminently perilous, and was becoming more so with every moment.
"Shame on ye all!" cried De Bracy to the soldiers around him; "do
ye call yourselves cross-bowmen, and let these two dogs keep
their station under the walls of the castle?---Heave over the
coping stones from the battlements, an better may not be---Get
pick-axe and levers, and down with that huge pinnacle!" pointing
to a heavy piece of stone carved-work that projected from the
At this moment the besiegers caught sight of the red flag upon
the angle of the tower which Ulrica had described to Cedric. The
stout yeoman Locksley was the first who was aware of it, as he
was hasting to the outwork, impatient to see the progress of the
"Saint George!" he cried, "Merry Saint George for England!---To
the charge, bold yeomen!---why leave ye the good knight and noble
Cedric to storm the pass alone?---make in, mad priest, show thou
canst fight for thy rosary,---make in, brave yeomen!---the castle
is ours, we have friends within---See yonder flag, it is the
appointed signal---Torquilstone is ours!---Think of honour, think
of spoil---One effort, and the place is ours!"
With that he bent his good bow, and sent a shaft right through
the breast of one of the men-at-arms, who, under De Bracy's
direction, was loosening a fragment from one of the battlements
to precipitate on the heads of Cedric and the Black Knight. A
second soldier caught from the hands of the dying man the iron
crow, with which he heaved at and had loosened the stone
pinnacle, when, receiving an arrow through his head-piece, he
dropped from the battlements into the moat a dead man. The
men-at-arms were daunted, for no armour seemed proof against the
shot of this tremendous archer.
"Do you give ground, base knaves!" said De Bracy; "'Mount joye
Saint Dennis!'---Give me the lever!"
And, snatching it up, he again assailed the loosened pinnacle,
which was of weight enough, if thrown down, not only to have
destroyed the remnant of the drawbridge, which sheltered the two
foremost assailants, but also to have sunk the rude float of
planks over which they had crossed. All saw the danger, and the
boldest, even the stout Friar himself, avoided setting foot on
the raft. Thrice did Locksley bend his shaft against De Bracy,
and thrice did his arrow bound back from the knight's armour of
"Curse on thy Spanish steel-coat!" said Locksley, "had English
smith forged it, these arrows had gone through, an as if it had
been silk or sendal." He then began to call out, "Comrades!
friends! noble Cedric! bear back, and let the ruin fall."
His warning voice was unheard, for the din which the knight
himself occasioned by his strokes upon the postern would have
drowned twenty war-trumpets. The faithful Gurth indeed sprung
forward on the planked bridge, to warn Cedric of his impending
fate, or to share it with him. But his warning would have come
too late; the massive pinnacle already tottered, and De Bracy,
who still heaved at his task, would have accomplished it, had not
the voice of the Templar sounded close in his ears:---
"All is lost, De Bracy, the castle burns."
"Thou art mad to say so!" replied the knight.
"It is all in a light flame on the western side. I have striven
in vain to extinguish it."
With the stern coolness which formed the basis of his character,
Brian de Bois-Guilbert communicated this hideous intelligence,
which was not so calmly received by his astonished comrade.
"Saints of Paradise!" said De Bracy; "what is to be done? I vow
to Saint Nicholas of Limoges a candlestick of pure gold---"
"Spare thy vow," said the Templar, "and mark me. Lead thy men
down, as if to a sally; throw the postern-gate open---There are
but two men who occupy the float, fling them into the moat, and
push across for the barbican. I will charge from the main gate,
and attack the barbican on the outside; and if we can regain that
post, be assured we shall defend ourselves until we are relieved,
or at least till they grant us fair quarter."
"It is well thought upon," said De Bracy; "I will play my part
---Templar, thou wilt not fail me?"
"Hand and glove, I will not!" said Bois-Guilbert. "But haste
thee, in the name of God!"
De Bracy hastily drew his men together, and rushed down to the
postern-gate, which he caused instantly to be thrown open. But
scarce was this done ere the portentous strength of the Black
Knight forced his way inward in despite of De Bracy and his
followers. Two of the foremost instantly fell, and the rest gave
way notwithstanding all their leader's efforts to stop them.
"Dogs!" said De Bracy, "will ye let TWO men win our only pass for
"He is the devil!" said a veteran man-at-arms, bearing back from
the blows of their sable antagonist.
"And if he be the devil," replied De Bracy, "would you fly from
him into the mouth of hell?---the castle burns behind us,
villains!---let despair give you courage, or let me forward! I
will cope with this champion myself"
And well and chivalrous did De Bracy that day maintain the fame
he had acquired in the civil wars of that dreadful period. The
vaulted passage to which the postern gave entrance, and in which
these two redoubted champions were now fighting hand to hand,
rung with the furious blows which they dealt each other, De Bracy
with his sword, the Black Knight with his ponderous axe. At
length the Norman received a blow, which, though its force was
partly parried by his shield, for otherwise never more would De
Bracy have again moved limb, descended yet with such violence on
his crest, that he measured his length on the paved floor.
"Yield thee, De Bracy," said the Black Champion, stooping over
him, and holding against the bars of his helmet the fatal poniard
with which the knights dispatched their enemies, (and which was
called the dagger of mercy,)---"yield thee, Maurice de Bracy,
rescue or no rescue, or thou art but a dead man."
"I will not yield," replied De Bracy faintly, "to an unknown
conqueror. Tell me thy name, or work thy pleasure on me---it
shall never be said that Maurice de Bracy was prisoner to a
The Black Knight whispered something into the ear of the
"I yield me to be true prisoner, rescue or no rescue," answered
the Norman, exchanging his tone of stern and determined obstinacy
for one of deep though sullen submission.
"Go to the barbican," said the victor, in a tone of authority,
"and there wait my further orders."
"Yet first, let me say," said De Bracy, "what it imports thee to
know. Wilfred of Ivanhoe is wounded and a prisoner, and will
perish in the burning castle without present help."
"Wilfred of Ivanhoe!" exclaimed the Black Knight---"prisoner, and
perish!---The life of every man in the castle shall answer it if
a hair of his head be singed---Show me his chamber!"
"Ascend yonder winding stair," said De Bracy; "it leads to his
apartment---Wilt thou not accept my guidance?" he added, in a
"No. To the barbican, and there wait my orders. I trust thee
not, De Bracy."
During this combat and the brief conversation which ensued,
Cedric, at the head of a body of men, among whom the Friar was
conspicuous, had pushed across the bridge as soon as they saw the
postern open, and drove back the dispirited and despairing
followers of De Bracy, of whom some asked quarter, some offered
vain resistance, and the greater part fled towards the
court-yard. De Bracy himself arose from the ground, and cast a
sorrowful glance after his conqueror. "He trusts me not!" he
repeated; "but have I deserved his trust?" He then lifted his
sword from the floor, took off his helmet in token of submission,
and, going to the barbican, gave up his sword to Locksley, whom
he met by the way.
As the fire augmented, symptoms of it became soon apparent in the
chamber, where Ivanhoe was watched and tended by the Jewess
Rebecca. He had been awakened from his brief slumber by the
noise of the battle; and his attendant, who had, at his anxious
desire, again placed herself at the window to watch and report to
him the fate of the attack, was for some time prevented from
observing either, by the increase of the smouldering and stifling
vapour. At length the volumes of smoke which rolled into the
apartment---the cries for water, which were heard even above the
din of the battle made them sensible of the progress of this new
"The castle burns," said Rebecca; "it burns!---What can we do to
"Fly, Rebecca, and save thine own life," said Ivanhoe, "for no
human aid can avail me."
"I will not fly," answered Rebecca; "we will be saved or perish
together---And yet, great God!---my father, my father---what will
be his fate!"
At this moment the door of the apartment flew open, and the
Templar presented himself,---a ghastly figure, for his gilded
armour was broken and bloody, and the plume was partly shorn
away, partly burnt from his casque. "I have found thee," said he
to Rebecca; "thou shalt prove I will keep my word to share weal
and woe with thee---There is but one path to safety, I have cut
my way through fifty dangers to point it to thee---up, and
instantly follow me!"*
* The author has some idea that this passage is imitated
* from the appearance of Philidaspes, before the divine
* Mandane, when the city of Babylon is on fire, and he
* proposes to carry her from the flames. But the theft,
* if there be one, would be rather too severely punished
* by the penance of searching for the original passage
* through the interminable volumes of the Grand Cyrus.
"Alone," answered Rebecca, "I will not follow thee. If thou wert
born of woman---if thou hast but a touch of human charity in thee
---if thy heart be not hard as thy breastplate---save my aged
father---save this wounded knight!"
"A knight," answered the Templar, with his characteristic
calmness, "a knight, Rebecca, must encounter his fate, whether it
meet him in the shape of sword or flame---and who recks how or
where a Jew meets with his?"
"Savage warrior," said Rebecca, "rather will I perish in the
flames than accept safety from thee!"
"Thou shalt not choose, Rebecca---once didst thou foil me, but
never mortal did so twice."
So saying, he seized on the terrified maiden, who filled the air
with her shrieks, and bore her out of the room in his arms in
spite of her cries, and without regarding the menaces and
defiance which Ivanhoe thundered against him. "Hound of the
Temple---stain to thine Order---set free the damsel! Traitor of
Bois-Guilbert, it is Ivanhoe commands thee!---Villain, I will
have thy heart's blood!"
"I had not found thee, Wilfred," said the Black Knight, who at
that instant entered the apartment, "but for thy shouts."
"If thou best true knight," said Wilfred, "think not of me
---pursue yon ravisher---save the Lady Rowena---look to the noble
"In their turn," answered he of the Fetterlock, "but thine is
And seizing upon Ivanhoe, he bore him off with as much ease as
the Templar had carried off Rebecca, rushed with him to the
postern, and having there delivered his burden to the care of two
yeomen, he again entered the castle to assist in the rescue of
the other prisoners.
One turret was now in bright flames, which flashed out furiously
from window and shot-hole. But in other parts, the great
thickness of the walls and the vaulted roofs of the apartments,
resisted the progress of the flames, and there the rage of man
still triumphed, as the scarce more dreadful element held mastery
elsewhere; for the besiegers pursued the defenders of the castle
from chamber to chamber, and satiated in their blood the
vengeance which had long animated them against the soldiers of
the tyrant Front-de-Boeuf. Most of the garrison resisted to the
uttermost---few of them asked quarter---none received it. The
air was filled with groans and clashing of arms---the floors were
slippery with the blood of despairing and expiring wretches.
Through this scene of confusion, Cedric rushed in quest of
Rowena, while the faithful Gurth, following him closely through
the "melee", neglected his own safety while he strove to avert
the blows that were aimed at his master. The noble Saxon was so
fortunate as to reach his ward's apartment just as she had
abandoned all hope of safety, and, with a crucifix clasped in
agony to her bosom, sat in expectation of instant death. He
committed her to the charge of Gurth, to be conducted in safety
to the barbican, the road to which was now cleared of the enemy,
and not yet interrupted by the flames. This accomplished, the
loyal Cedric hastened in quest of his friend Athelstane,
determined, at every risk to himself, to save that last scion of
Saxon royalty. But ere Cedric penetrated as far as the old hall
in which he had himself been a prisoner, the inventive genius of
Wamba had procured liberation for himself and his companion in
When the noise of the conflict announced that it was at the
hottest, the Jester began to shout, with the utmost power of his
lungs, "Saint George and the dragon!---Bonny Saint George for
merry England!---The castle is won!" And these sounds he rendered
yet more fearful, by banging against each other two or three
pieces of rusty armour which lay scattered around the hall.
A guard, which had been stationed in the outer, or anteroom, and
whose spirits were already in a state of alarm, took fright at
Wamba's clamour, and, leaving the door open behind them, ran to
tell the Templar that foemen had entered the old hall. Meantime
the prisoners found no difficulty in making their escape into the
anteroom, and from thence into the court of the castle, which was
now the last scene of contest. Here sat the fierce Templar,
mounted on horseback, surrounded by several of the garrison both
on horse and foot, who had united their strength to that of this
renowned leader, in order to secure the last chance of safety and
retreat which remained to them. The drawbridge had been lowered
by his orders, but the passage was beset; for the archers, who
had hitherto only annoyed the castle on that side by their
missiles, no sooner saw the flames breaking out, and the bridge
lowered, than they thronged to the entrance, as well to prevent
the escape of the garrison, as to secure their own share of booty
ere the castle should be burnt down. On the other hand, a party
of the besiegers who had entered by the postern were now issuing
out into the court-yard, and attacking with fury the remnant of
the defenders who were thus assaulted on both sides at once.
Animated, however, by despair, and supported by the example of
their indomitable leader, the remaining soldiers of the castle
fought with the utmost valour; and, being well-armed, succeeded
more than once in driving back the assailants, though much
inferior in numbers. Rebecca, placed on horseback before one of
the Templar's Saracen slaves, was in the midst of the little
party; and Bois-Guilbert, notwithstanding the confusion of the
bloody fray, showed every attention to her safety. Repeatedly he
was by her side, and, neglecting his own defence, held before her
the fence of his triangular steel-plated shield; and anon
starting from his position by her, he cried his war-cry, dashed
forward, struck to earth the most forward of the assailants, and
was on the same instant once more at her bridle rein.
Athelstane, who, as the reader knows, was slothful, but not
cowardly, beheld the female form whom the Templar protected thus
sedulously, and doubted not that it was Rowena whom the knight
was carrying off, in despite of all resistance which could be
"By the soul of Saint Edward," he said, "I will rescue her from
yonder over-proud knight, and he shall die by my hand!"
"Think what you do!" cried Wamba; "hasty hand catches frog for
fish---by my bauble, yonder is none of my Lady Rowena---see but
her long dark locks!---Nay, an ye will not know black from white,
ye may be leader, but I will be no follower---no bones of mine
shall be broken unless I know for whom.---And you without armour
too!---Bethink you, silk bonnet never kept out steel blade.
---Nay, then, if wilful will to water, wilful must drench.
---'Deus vobiscum', most doughty Athelstane!"---he concluded,
loosening the hold which he had hitherto kept upon the Saxon's
To snatch a mace from the pavement, on which it lay beside one
whose dying grasp had just relinquished it---to rush on the
Templar's band, and to strike in quick succession to the right
and left, levelling a warrior at each blow, was, for Athelstane's
great strength, now animated with unusual fury, but the work of a
single moment; he was soon within two yards of Bois-Guilbert,
whom he defied in his loudest tone.
"Turn, false-hearted Templar! let go her whom thou art unworthy
to touch---turn, limb of a hand of murdering and hypocritical
"Dog!" said the Templar, grinding his teeth, "I will teach thee
to blaspheme the holy Order of the Temple of Zion;" and with
these words, half-wheeling his steed, he made a demi-courbette
towards the Saxon, and rising in the stirrups, so as to take full
advantage of the descent of the horse, he discharged a fearful
blow upon the head of Athelstane.
Well said Wamba, that silken bonnet keeps out no steel blade. So
trenchant was the Templar's weapon, that it shore asunder, as it
had been a willow twig, the tough and plaited handle of the mace,
which the ill-fated Saxon reared to parry the blow, and,
descending on his head, levelled him with the earth.
"'Ha! Beau-seant!'" exclaimed Bois-Guilbert, "thus be it to the
maligners of the Temple-knights!" Taking advantage of the dismay
which was spread by the fall of Athelstane, and calling aloud,
"Those who would save themselves, follow me!" he pushed across
the drawbridge, dispersing the archers who would have intercepted
them. He was followed by his Saracens, and some five or six
men-at-arms, who had mounted their horses. The Templar's retreat
was rendered perilous by the numbers of arrows shot off at him
and his party; but this did not prevent him from galloping round
to the barbican, of which, according to his previous plan, he
supposed it possible De Bracy might have been in possession.
"De Bracy! De Bracy!" he shouted, "art thou there?"
"I am here," replied De Bracy, "but I am a prisoner."
"Can I rescue thee?" cried Bois-Guilbert.
"No," replied De Bracy; "I have rendered me, rescue or no rescue.
I will be true prisoner. Save thyself---there are hawks abroad
---put the seas betwixt you and England---I dare not say more."
"Well," answered the Templar, "an thou wilt tarry there, remember
I have redeemed word and glove. Be the hawks where they will,
methinks the walls of the Preceptory of Templestowe will be cover
sufficient, and thither will I, like heron to her haunt."
Having thus spoken, he galloped off with his followers.
Those of the castle who had not gotten to horse, still continued
to fight desperately with the besiegers, after the departure of
the Templar, but rather in despair of quarter than that they
entertained any hope of escape. The fire was spreading rapidly
through all parts of the castle, when Ulrica, who had first
kindled it, appeared on a turret, in the guise of one of the
ancient furies, yelling forth a war-song, such as was of yore
raised on the field of battle by the scalds of the yet heathen
Saxons. Her long dishevelled grey hair flew back from her
uncovered head; the inebriating delight of gratified vengeance
contended in her eyes with the fire of insanity; and she
brandished the distaff which she held in her hand, as if she had
been one of the Fatal Sisters, who spin and abridge the thread of
human life. Tradition has preserved some wild strophes of the
barbarous hymn which she chanted wildly amid that scene of fire
and of slaughter:---
Whet the bright steel,
Sons of the White Dragon!
Kindle the torch,
Daughter of Hengist!
The steel glimmers not for the carving of the banquet,
It is hard, broad, and sharply pointed;
The torch goeth not to the bridal chamber,
It steams and glitters blue with sulphur.
Whet the steel, the raven croaks!
Light the torch, Zernebock is yelling!
Whet the steel, sons of the Dragon!
Kindle the torch, daughter of Hengist!
The black cloud is low over the thane's castle
The eagle screams--he rides on its bosom.
Scream not, grey rider of the sable cloud,
Thy banquet is prepared!
The maidens of Valhalla look forth,
The race of Hengist will send them guests.
Shake your black tresses, maidens of Valhalla!
And strike your loud timbrels for joy!
Many a haughty step bends to your halls,
Many a helmed head.
Dark sits the evening upon the thanes castle,
The black clouds gather round;
Soon shall they be red as the blood of the valiant!
The destroyer of forests shall shake his red crest against
He, the bright consumer of palaces,
Broad waves he his blazing banner,
Red, wide and dusky,
Over the strife of the valiant:
His joy is in the clashing swords and broken bucklers;
He loves to lick the hissing blood as it bursts warm from the
All must perish!
The sword cleaveth the helmet;
The strong armour is pierced by the lance;
Fire devoureth the dwelling of princes,
Engines break down the fences of the battle.
All must perish!
The race of Hengist is gone---
The name of Horsa is no more!
Shrink not then from your doom, sons of the sword!
Let your blades drink blood like wine;
Feast ye in the banquet of slaughter,
By the light of the blazing halls!
Strong be your swords while your blood is warm,
And spare neither for pity nor fear,
For vengeance hath but an hour;
Strong hate itself shall expire
I also must perish! *
* Note G. Ulrica's Death Song
The towering flames had now surmounted every obstruction, and
rose to the evening skies one huge and burning beacon, seen far
and wide through the adjacent country. Tower after tower crashed
down, with blazing roof and rafter; and the combatants were
driven from the court-yard. The vanquished, of whom very few
remained, scattered and escaped into the neighbouring wood. The
victors, assembling in large bands, gazed with wonder, not
unmixed with fear, upon the flames, in which their own ranks and
arms glanced dusky red. The maniac figure of the Saxon Ulrica
was for a long time visible on the lofty stand she had chosen,
tossing her arms abroad with wild exultation, as if she reined
empress of the conflagration which she had raised. At length,
with a terrific crash, the whole turret gave way, and she
perished in the flames which had consumed her tyrant. An awful
pause of horror silenced each murmur of the armed spectators,
who, for the space of several minutes, stirred not a finger, save
to sign the cross. The voice of Locksley was then heard, "Shout,
yeomen!---the den of tyrants is no more! Let each bring his
spoil to our chosen place of rendezvous at the Trysting-tree in
the Harthill-walk; for there at break of day will we make just
partition among our own bands, together with our worthy allies in
this great deed of vengeance."
Trust me each state must have its policies:
Kingdoms have edicts, cities have their charters;
Even the wild outlaw, in his forest-walk,
Keeps yet some touch of civil discipline;
For not since Adam wore his verdant apron,
Hath man with man in social union dwelt,
But laws were made to draw that union closer.
The daylight had dawned upon the glades of the oak forest. The
green boughs glittered with all their pearls of dew. The hind
led her fawn from the covert of high fern to the more open walks
of the greenwood, and no huntsman was there to watch or intercept
the stately hart, as he paced at the head of the antler'd herd.
The outlaws were all assembled around the Trysting-tree in the
Harthill-walk, where they had spent the night in refreshing
themselves after the fatigues of the siege, some with wine, some
with slumber, many with hearing and recounting the events of the
day, and computing the heaps of plunder which their success had
placed at the disposal of their Chief.
The spoils were indeed very large; for, notwithstanding that much
was consumed, a great deal of plate, rich armour, and splendid
clothing, had been secured by the exertions of the dauntless
outlaws, who could be appalled by no danger when such rewards
were in view. Yet so strict were the laws of their society, that
no one ventured to appropriate any part of the booty, which was
brought into one common mass, to be at the disposal of their
The place of rendezvous was an aged oak; not however the same to
which Locksley had conducted Gurth and Wamba in the earlier part
of the story, but one which was the centre of a silvan
amphitheatre, within half a mile of the demolished castle of
Torquilstone. Here Locksley assumed his seat---a throne of turf
erected under the twisted branches of the huge oak, and the
silvan followers were gathered around him. He assigned to the
Black Knight a seat at his right hand, and to Cedric a place upon
"Pardon my freedom, noble sirs," he said, "but in these glades I
am monarch---they are my kingdom; and these my wild subjects
would reck but little of my power, were I, within my own
dominions, to yield place to mortal man.---Now, sirs, who hath
seen our chaplain? where is our curtal Friar? A mass amongst
Christian men best begins a busy morning."---No one had seen the
Clerk of Copmanhurst. "Over gods forbode!" said the outlaw
chief, "I trust the jolly priest hath but abidden by the wine-pot
a thought too late. Who saw him since the castle was ta'en?"
"I," quoth the Miller, "marked him busy about the door of a
cellar, swearing by each saint in the calendar he would taste the
smack of Front-de-Boeuf's Gascoigne wine."
"Now, the saints, as many as there be of them," said the Captain,
"forefend, lest he has drunk too deep of the wine-butts, and
perished by the fall of the castle!---Away, Miller!---take with
you enow of men, seek the place where you last saw him---throw
water from the moat on the scorching ruins ---I will have them
removed stone by stone ere I lose my curtal Friar."
The numbers who hastened to execute this duty, considering that
an interesting division of spoil was about to take place, showed
how much the troop had at heart the safety of their spiritual
"Meanwhile, let us proceed," said Locksley; "for when this bold
deed shall be sounded abroad, the bands of De Bracy, of
Malvoisin, and other allies of Front-de-Boeuf, will be in motion
against us, and it were well for our safety that we retreat from
the vicinity.---Noble Cedric," he said, turning to the Saxon,
"that spoil is divided into two portions; do thou make choice of
that which best suits thee, to recompense thy people who were
partakers with us in this adventure."
"Good yeoman," said Cedric, "my heart is oppressed with sadness.
The noble Athelstane of Coningsburgh is no more---the last
sprout of the sainted Confessor! Hopes have perished with him
which can never return!---A sparkle hath been quenched by his
blood, which no human breath can again rekindle! My people, save
the few who are now with me, do but tarry my presence to
transport his honoured remains to their last mansion. The Lady
Rowena is desirous to return to Rotherwood, and must be escorted
by a sufficient force. I should, therefore, ere now, have left
this place; and I waited---not to share the booty, for, so help
me God and Saint Withold! as neither I nor any of mine will touch
the value of a liard,---I waited but to render my thanks to thee
and to thy bold yeomen, for the life and honour ye have saved."
"Nay, but," said the chief Outlaw, "we did but half the work at
most---take of the spoil what may reward your own neighbours and
"I am rich enough to reward them from mine own wealth," answered
"And some," said Wamba, "have been wise enough to reward
themselves; they do not march off empty-handed altogether. We do
not all wear motley."
"They are welcome," said Locksley; "our laws bind none but
"But, thou, my poor knave," said Cedric, turning about and
embracing his Jester, "how shall I reward thee, who feared not to
give thy body to chains and death instead of mine!---All forsook
me, when the poor fool was faithful!"
A tear stood in the eye of the rough Thane as he spoke---a mark
of feeling which even the death of Athelstane had not extracted;
but there was something in the half-instinctive attachment of his
clown, that waked his nature more keenly than even grief itself.
"Nay," said the Jester, extricating himself from master's
caress, "if you pay my service with the water of your eye, the
Jester must weep for company, and then what becomes of his
vocation?---But, uncle, if you would indeed pleasure me, I pray
you to pardon my playfellow Gurth, who stole a week from your
service to bestow it on your son."
"Pardon him!" exclaimed Cedric; "I will both pardon and reward
him.---Kneel down, Gurth."---The swineherd was in an instant at
his master's feet---"THEOW and ESNE*
* Thrall and bondsman.
art thou no longer," said Cedric touching him with a wand;
"FOLKFREE and SACLESS*
* A lawful freeman.
art thou in town and from town, in the forest as in the field.
A hide of land I give to thee in my steads of Walbrugham, from me
and mine to thee and thine aye and for ever; and God's malison on
his head who this gainsays!"
No longer a serf, but a freeman and a landholder, Gurth sprung
upon his feet, and twice bounded aloft to almost his own height
from the ground. "A smith and a file," he cried, "to do away the
collar from the neck of a freeman!---Noble master! doubled is my
strength by your gift, and doubly will I fight for you!---There
is a free spirit in my breast---I am a man changed to myself and
all around.---Ha, Fangs!" he continued,---for that faithful cur,
seeing his master thus transported, began to jump upon him, to
express his sympathy,---"knowest thou thy master still?"
"Ay," said Wamba, "Fangs and I still know thee, Gurth, though we
must needs abide by the collar; it is only thou art likely to
forget both us and thyself."
"I shall forget myself indeed ere I forget thee, true comrade,"
said Gurth; "and were freedom fit for thee, Wamba, the master
would not let thee want it."
"Nay," said Wamba, "never think I envy thee, brother Gurth; the
serf sits by the hall-fire when the freeman must forth to the
field of battle---And what saith Oldhelm of Malmsbury---Better a
fool at a feast than a wise man at a fray."
The tramp of horses was now heard, and the Lady Rowena appeared,
surrounded by several riders, and a much stronger party of
footmen, who joyfully shook their pikes and clashed their
brown-bills for joy of her freedom. She herself, richly attired,
and mounted on a dark chestnut palfrey, had recovered all the
dignity of her manner, and only an unwonted degree of paleness
showed the sufferings she had undergone. Her lovely brow, though
sorrowful, bore on it a cast of reviving hope for the future, as
well as of grateful thankfulness for the past deliverance---She
knew that Ivanhoe was safe, and she knew that Athelstane was
dead. The former assurance filled her with the most sincere
delight; and if she did not absolutely rejoice at the latter, she
might be pardoned for feeling the full advantage of being freed
from further persecution on the only subject in which she had
ever been contradicted by her guardian Cedric.
As Rowena bent her steed towards Locksley's seat, that bold
yeoman, with all his followers, rose to receive her, as if by a
general instinct of courtesy. The blood rose to her cheeks, as,
courteously waving her hand, and bending so low that her
beautiful and loose tresses were for an instant mixed with the
flowing mane of her palfrey, she expressed in few but apt words
her obligations and her gratitude to Locksley and her other
deliverers.---"God bless you, brave men," she concluded, "God and
Our Lady bless you and requite you for gallantly perilling
yourselves in the cause of the oppressed!---If any of you should
hunger, remember Rowena has food---if you should thirst, she has
many a butt of wine and brown ale---and if the Normans drive ye
from these walks, Rowena has forests of her own, where her
gallant deliverers may range at full freedom, and never ranger
ask whose arrow hath struck down the deer."
"Thanks, gentle lady," said Locksley; "thanks from my company and
myself. But, to have saved you requites itself. We who walk the
greenwood do many a wild deed, and the Lady Rowena's deliverance
may be received as an atonement."
Again bowing from her palfrey, Rowena turned to depart; but
pausing a moment, while Cedric, who was to attend her, was also
taking his leave, she found herself unexpectedly close by the
prisoner De Bracy. He stood under a tree in deep meditation, his
arms crossed upon his breast, and Rowena was in hopes she might
pass him unobserved. He looked up, however, and, when aware of
her presence, a deep flush of shame suffused his handsome
countenance. He stood a moment most irresolute; then, stepping
forward, took her palfrey by the rein, and bent his knee before
"Will the Lady Rowena deign to cast an eye---on a captive knight
---on a dishonoured soldier?"
"Sir Knight," answered Rowena, "in enterprises such as yours, the
real dishonour lies not in failure, but in success."
"Conquest, lady, should soften the heart," answered De Bracy;
"let me but know that the Lady Rowena forgives the violence
occasioned by an ill-fated passion, and she shall soon learn that
De Bracy knows how to serve her in nobler ways."
"I forgive you, Sir Knight," said Rowena, "as a Christian."
"That means," said Wamba, "that she does not forgive him at all."
"But I can never forgive the misery and desolation your madness
has occasioned," continued Rowena.
"Unloose your hold on the lady's rein," said Cedric, coming up.
"By the bright sun above us, but it were shame, I would pin thee
to the earth with my javelin---but be well assured, thou shalt
smart, Maurice de Bracy, for thy share in this foul deed."
"He threatens safely who threatens a prisoner," said De Bracy;
"but when had a Saxon any touch of courtesy?"
Then retiring two steps backward, he permitted the lady to move
Cedric, ere they departed, expressed his peculiar gratitude to
the Black Champion, and earnestly entreated him to accompany him
"I know," he said, "that ye errant knights desire to carry your
fortunes on the point of your lance, and reck not of land or
goods; but war is a changeful mistress, and a home is sometimes
desirable even to the champion whose trade is wandering. Thou
hast earned one in the halls of Rotherwood, noble knight. Cedric
has wealth enough to repair the injuries of fortune, and all he
has is his deliverer's---Come, therefore, to Rotherwood, not as
a guest, but as a son or brother."
"Cedric has already made me rich," said the Knight,---"he has
taught me the value of Saxon virtue. To Rotherwood will I come,
brave Saxon, and that speedily; but, as now, pressing matters of
moment detain me from your halls. Peradventure when I come
hither, I will ask such a boon as will put even thy generosity to
"It is granted ere spoken out," said Cedric, striking his ready
hand into the gauntleted palm of the Black Knight,---"it is
granted already, were it to affect half my fortune."
"Gage not thy promise so lightly," said the Knight of the
Fetterlock; "yet well I hope to gain the boon I shall ask.
"I have but to say," added the Saxon, "that, during the funeral
rites of the noble Athelstane, I shall be an inhabitant of the
halls of his castle of Coningsburgh---They will be open to all
who choose to partake of the funeral banqueting; and, I speak in
name of the noble Edith, mother of the fallen prince, they will
never be shut against him who laboured so bravely, though
unsuccessfully, to save Athelstane from Norman chains and Norman
"Ay, ay," said Wamba, who had resumed his attendance on his
master, "rare feeding there will be---pity that the noble
Athelstane cannot banquet at his own funeral.---But he,"
continued the Jester, lifting up his eyes gravely, "is supping in
Paradise, and doubtless does honour to the cheer."
"Peace, and move on," said Cedric, his anger at this untimely
jest being checked by the recollection of Wamba's recent
services. Rowena waved a graceful adieu to him of the Fetterlock
---the Saxon bade God speed him, and on they moved through a wide
glade of the forest.
They had scarce departed, ere a sudden procession moved from
under the greenwood branches, swept slowly round the silvan
amphitheatre, and took the same direction with Rowena and her
followers. The priests of a neighbouring convent, in
expectation of the ample donation, or "soul-scat", which Cedric
had propined, attended upon the car in which the body of
Athelstane was laid, and sang hymns as it was sadly and slowly
borne on the shoulders of his vassals to his castle of
Coningsburgh, to be there deposited in the grave of Hengist, from
whom the deceased derived his long descent. Many of his vassals
had assembled at the news of his death, and followed the bier
with all the external marks, at least, of dejection and sorrow.
Again the outlaws arose, and paid the same rude and spontaneous
homage to death, which they had so lately rendered to beauty
---the slow chant and mournful step of the priests brought back
to their remembrance such of their comrades as had fallen in the
yesterday's array. But such recollections dwell not long with
those who lead a life of danger and enterprise, and ere the sound
of the death-hymn had died on the wind, the outlaws were again
busied in the distribution of their spoil.
"Valiant knight," said Locksley to the Black Champion, "without
whose good heart and mighty arm our enterprise must altogether
have failed, will it please you to take from that mass of spoil
whatever may best serve to pleasure you, and to remind you of
this my Trysting-tree?"
"I accept the offer," said the Knight, "as frankly as it is
given; and I ask permission to dispose of Sir Maurice de Bracy at
my own pleasure."
"He is thine already," said Locksley, "and well for him! else the
tyrant had graced the highest bough of this oak, with as many of
his Free-Companions as we could gather, hanging thick as acorns
around him.---But he is thy prisoner, and he is safe, though he
had slain my father."
"De Bracy," said the Knight, "thou art free---depart. He whose
prisoner thou art scorns to take mean revenge for what is past.
But beware of the future, lest a worse thing befall thee.
---Maurice de Bracy, I say BEWARE!"
De Bracy bowed low and in silence, and was about to withdraw,
when the yeomen burst at once into a shout of execration and
derision. The proud knight instantly stopped, turned back,
folded his arms, drew up his form to its full height, and
exclaimed, "Peace, ye yelping curs! who open upon a cry which ye
followed not when the stag was at bay---De Bracy scorns your
censure as he would disdain your applause. To your brakes and
caves, ye outlawed thieves! and be silent when aught knightly or
noble is but spoken within a league of your fox-earths."
This ill-timed defiance might have procured for De Bracy a volley
of arrows, but for the hasty and imperative interference of the
outlaw Chief. Meanwhile the knight caught a horse by the rein,
for several which had been taken in the stables of Front-de-Boeuf
stood accoutred around, and were a valuable part of the booty.
He threw himself upon the saddle, and galloped off through the
When the bustle occasioned by this incident was somewhat
composed, the chief Outlaw took from his neck the rich horn and
baldric which he had recently gained at the strife of archery
"Noble knight." he said to him of the Fetterlock, "if you disdain
not to grace by your acceptance a bugle which an English yeoman
has once worn, this I will pray you to keep as a memorial of your
gallant bearing---and if ye have aught to do, and, as happeneth
oft to a gallant knight, ye chance to be hard bested in any
forest between Trent and Tees, wind three mots*
* The notes upon the bugle were anciently called mots, and
* are distinguished in the old treatises on hunting, not by
* musical characters, but by written words.
upon the horn thus, 'Wa-sa-hoa!' and it may well chance ye shall
find helpers and rescue."
He then gave breath to the bugle, and winded once and again the
call which be described, until the knight had caught the notes.
"Gramercy for the gift, bold yeoman," said the Knight; "and
better help than thine and thy rangers would I never seek, were
it at my utmost need." And then in his turn he winded the call
till all the greenwood rang.
"Well blown and clearly," said the yeoman; "beshrew me an thou
knowest not as much of woodcraft as of war!---thou hast been a
striker of deer in thy day, I warrant.---Comrades, mark these
three mots---it is the call of the Knight of the Fetterlock; and
he who hears it, and hastens not to serve him at his need, I will
have him scourged out of our band with his own bowstring."
"Long live our leader!" shouted the yeomen, "and long live the
Black Knight of the Fetterlock!---May he soon use our service, to
prove how readily it will be paid."
Locksley now proceeded to the distribution of the spoil, which he
performed with the most laudable impartiality. A tenth part of
the whole was set apart for the church, and for pious uses; a
portion was next allotted to a sort of public treasury; a part
was assigned to the widows and children of those who had fallen,
or to be expended in masses for the souls of such as had left no
surviving family. The rest was divided amongst the outlaws,
according to their rank and merit, and the judgment of the Chief,
on all such doubtful questions as occurred, was delivered with
great shrewdness, and received with absolute submission. The
Black Knight was not a little surprised to find that men, in a
state so lawless, were nevertheless among themselves so regularly
and equitably governed, and all that he observed added to his
opinion of the justice and judgment of their leader.
When each had taken his own proportion of the booty, and while
the treasurer, accompanied by four tall yeomen, was transporting
that belonging to the state to some place of concealment or of
security, the portion devoted to the church still remained
"I would," said the leader, "we could hear tidings of our joyous
chaplain---he was never wont to be absent when meat was to be
blessed, or spoil to be parted; and it is his duty to take care
of these the tithes of our successful enterprise. It may be the
office has helped to cover some of his canonical irregularities.
Also, I have a holy brother of his a prisoner at no great
distance, and I would fain have the Friar to help me to deal with
him in due sort---I greatly misdoubt the safety of the bluff
"I were right sorry for that," said the Knight of the Fetterlock,
"for I stand indebted to him for the joyous hospitality of a
merry night in his cell. Let us to the ruins of the castle; it
may be we shall there learn some tidings of him."
While they thus spoke, a loud shout among the yeomen announced
the arrival of him for whom they feared, as they learned from
the stentorian voice of the Friar himself, long before they saw
his burly person.
"Make room, my merry-men!" he exclaimed; "room for your godly
father and his prisoner---Cry welcome once more.---I come, noble
leader, like an eagle with my prey in my clutch."---And making
his way through the ring, amidst the laughter of all around, he
appeared in majestic triumph, his huge partisan in one hand, and
in the other a halter, one end of which was fastened to the neck
of the unfortunate Isaac of York, who, bent down by sorrow and
terror, was dragged on by the victorious priest, who shouted
aloud, "Where is Allan-a-Dale, to chronicle me in a ballad, or if
it were but a lay?---By Saint Hermangild, the jingling crowder is
ever out of the way where there is an apt theme for exalting
"Curtal Priest," said the Captain, "thou hast been at a wet mass
this morning, as early as it is. In the name of Saint Nicholas,
whom hast thou got here?"
"A captive to my sword and to my lance, noble Captain," replied
the Clerk of Copmanhurst; "to my bow and to my halberd, I should
rather say; and yet I have redeemed him by my divinity from a
worse captivity. Speak, Jew---have I not ransomed thee from
Sathanas?---have I not taught thee thy 'credo', thy 'pater', and
thine 'Ave Maria'?---Did I not spend the whole night in drinking
to thee, and in expounding of mysteries?"
"For the love of God!" ejaculated the poor Jew, "will no one take
me out of the keeping of this mad---I mean this holy man?"
"How's this, Jew?" said the Friar, with a menacing aspect; "dost
thou recant, Jew?---Bethink thee, if thou dost relapse into thine
infidelity, though thou are not so tender as a suckling pig---I
would I had one to break my fast upon---thou art not too tough to
be roasted! Be conformable, Isaac, and repeat the words after
me. 'Ave Maria'!---"
"Nay, we will have no profanation, mad Priest," said Locksley;
"let us rather hear where you found this prisoner of thine."
"By Saint Dunstan," said the Friar, "I found him where I sought
for better ware! I did step into the cellarage to see what might
be rescued there; for though a cup of burnt wine, with spice, be
an evening's drought for an emperor, it were waste, methought, to
let so much good liquor be mulled at once; and I had caught up
one runlet of sack, and was coming to call more aid among these
lazy knaves, who are ever to seek when a good deed is to be done,
when I was avised of a strong door---Aha! thought I, here is the
choicest juice of all in this secret crypt; and the knave butler,
being disturbed in his vocation, hath left the key in the door
---In therefore I went, and found just nought besides a commodity
of rusted chains and this dog of a Jew, who presently rendered
himself my prisoner, rescue or no rescue. I did but refresh
myself after the fatigue of the action, with the unbeliever, with
one humming cup of sack, and was proceeding to lead forth my
captive, when, crash after crash, as with wild thunder-dint and
levin-fire, down toppled the masonry of an outer tower, (marry
beshrew their hands that built it not the firmer!) and blocked up
the passage. The roar of one falling tower followed another---I
gave up thought of life; and deeming it a dishonour to one of my
profession to pass out of this world in company with a Jew, I
heaved up my halberd to beat his brains out; but I took pity on
his grey hairs, and judged it better to lay down the partisan,
and take up my spiritual weapon for his conversion. And truly,
by the blessing of Saint Dunstan, the seed has been sown in good
soil; only that, with speaking to him of mysteries through the
whole night, and being in a manner fasting, (for the few
droughts of sack which I sharpened my wits with were not worth
marking,) my head is well-nigh dizzied, I trow.---But I was clean
exhausted.---Gilbert and Wibbald know in what state they found me
---quite and clean exhausted."
"We can bear witness," said Gilbert; "for when we had cleared
away the ruin, and by Saint Dunstan's help lighted upon the
dungeon stair, we found the runlet of sack half empty, the Jew
half dead, and the Friar more than half---exhausted, as he calls
"Ye be knaves! ye lie!" retorted the offended Friar; "it was you
and your gormandizing companions that drank up the sack, and
called it your morning draught---I am a pagan, an I kept it not
for the Captain's own throat. But what recks it? The Jew is
converted, and understands all I have told him, very nearly, if
not altogether, as well as myself."
"Jew," said the Captain, "is this true? hast thou renounced thine
"May I so find mercy in your eyes," said the Jew, "as I know not
one word which the reverend prelate spake to me all this fearful
night. Alas! I was so distraught with agony, and fear, and
grief, that had our holy father Abraham come to preach to me, he
had found but a deaf listener."
"Thou liest, Jew, and thou knowest thou dost." said the Friar; "I
will remind thee of but one word of our conference---thou didst
promise to give all thy substance to our holy Order."
"So help me the Promise, fair sirs," said Isaac, even more
alarmed than before, "as no such sounds ever crossed my lips!
Alas! I am an aged beggar'd man---I fear me a childless---have
ruth on me, and let me go!"
"Nay," said the Friar, "if thou dost retract vows made in favour
of holy Church, thou must do penance."
Accordingly, he raised his halberd, and would have laid the staff
of it lustily on the Jew's shoulders, had not the Black Knight
stopped the blow, and thereby transferred the Holy Clerk's
resentment to himself.
"By Saint Thomas of Kent," said he, "an I buckle to my gear, I
will teach thee, sir lazy lover, to mell with thine own matters,
maugre thine iron case there!"
"Nay, be not wroth with me," said the Knight; "thou knowest I am
thy sworn friend and comrade."
"I know no such thing," answered the Friar; "and defy thee for a
"Nay, but," said the Knight, who seemed to take a pleasure in
provoking his quondam host, "hast thou forgotten how, that for my
sake (for I say nothing of the temptation of the flagon and the
pasty) thou didst break thy vow of fast and vigil?"
"Truly, friend," said the Friar, clenching his huge fist, "I will
bestow a buffet on thee."
"I accept of no such presents," said the Knight; "I am content to
take thy cuff*
* Note H. Richard Coeur-de-Lion.
as a loan, but I will repay thee with usury as deep as ever thy
prisoner there exacted in his traffic."
"I will prove that presently," said the Friar.
"Hola!" cried the Captain, "what art thou after, mad Friar?
brawling beneath our Trysting-tree?"
"No brawling," said the Knight, "it is but a friendly interchange
of courtesy.---Friar, strike an thou darest---I will stand thy
blow, if thou wilt stand mine."
"Thou hast the advantage with that iron pot on thy head," said
the churchman; "but have at thee---Down thou goest, an thou wert
Goliath of Gath in his brazen helmet."
The Friar bared his brawny arm up to the elbow, and putting his
full strength to the blow, gave the Knight a buffet that might
have felled an ox. But his adversary stood firm as a rock. A
loud shout was uttered by all the yeomen around; for the Clerk's
cuff was proverbial amongst them, and there were few who, in jest
or earnest, had not had the occasion to know its vigour.
"Now, Priest," said, the Knight, pulling off his gauntlet, "if I
had vantage on my head, I will have none on my hand---stand fast
as a true man."
"'Genam meam dedi vapulatori'---I have given my cheek to the
smiter," said the Priest; "an thou canst stir me from the spot,
fellow, I will freely bestow on thee the Jew's ransom."
So spoke the burly Priest, assuming, on his part, high defiance.
But who may resist his fate? The buffet of the Knight was given
with such strength and good-will, that the Friar rolled head over
heels upon the plain, to the great amazement of all the
spectators. But he arose neither angry nor crestfallen.
"Brother," said he to the Knight, "thou shouldst have used thy
strength with more discretion. I had mumbled but a lame mass an
thou hadst broken my jaw, for the piper plays ill that wants the
nether chops. Nevertheless, there is my hand, in friendly
witness, that I will exchange no more cuffs with thee, having
been a loser by the barter. End now all unkindness. Let us put
the Jew to ransom, since the leopard will not change his spots,
and a Jew he will continue to be."
"The Priest," said Clement, "is not have so confident of the
Jew's conversion, since he received that buffet on the ear."
"Go to, knave, what pratest thou of conversions?---what, is there
no respect?---all masters and no men?---I tell thee, fellow, I
was somewhat totty when I received the good knight's blow, or I
had kept my ground under it. But an thou gibest more of it, thou
shalt learn I can give as well as take."
"Peace all!" said the Captain. "And thou, Jew, think of thy
ransom; thou needest not to be told that thy race are held to be
accursed in all Christian communities, and trust me that we
cannot endure thy presence among us. Think, therefore, of an
offer, while I examine a prisoner of another cast."
"Were many of Front-de-Boeuf's men taken?" demanded the Black
"None of note enough to be put to ransom," answered the Captain;
"a set of hilding fellows there were, whom we dismissed to find
them a new master---enough had been done for revenge and profit;
the bunch of them were not worth a cardecu. The prisoner I speak
of is better booty---a jolly monk riding to visit his leman, an I
may judge by his horse-gear and wearing apparel.---Here cometh
the worthy prelate, as pert as a pyet." And, between two yeomen,
was brought before the silvan throne of the outlaw Chief, our old
friend, Prior Aymer of Jorvaulx.
------Flower of warriors,
How is't with Titus Lartius?
MARCIUS.--As with a man busied about decrees,
Condemning some to death and some to exile,
Ransoming him or pitying, threatening the other.
The captive Abbot's features and manners exhibited a whimsical
mixture of offended pride, and deranged foppery and bodily
"Why, how now, my masters?" said he, with a voice in which all
three emotions were blended. "What order is this among ye? Be
ye Turks or Christians, that handle a churchman?---Know ye what
it is, 'manus imponere in servos Domini'? Ye have plundered my
mails---torn my cope of curious cut lace, which might have served
a cardinal!---Another in my place would have been at his
'excommunicabo vos'; but I am placible, and if ye order forth my
palfreys, release my brethren, and restore my mails, tell down
with all speed an hundred crowns to be expended in masses at the
high altar of Jorvaulx Abbey, and make your vow to eat no venison
until next Pentecost, it may be you shall hear little more of
this mad frolic."
"Holy Father," said the chief Outlaw, "it grieves me to think
that you have met with such usage from any of my followers, as
calls for your fatherly reprehension."
"Usage!" echoed the priest, encouraged by the mild tone of the
silvan leader; "it were usage fit for no hound of good race
---much less for a Christian---far less for a priest---and least
of all for the Prior of the holy community of Jorvaulx. Here is
a profane and drunken minstrel, called Allan-a-Dale---'nebulo
quidam'---who has menaced me with corporal punishment---nay, with
death itself, an I pay not down four hundred crowns of ransom, to
the boot of all the treasure he hath already robbed me of---gold
chains and gymmal rings to an unknown value; besides what is
broken and spoiled among their rude hands, such as my pouncer-box
and silver crisping-tongs."
"It is impossible that Allan-a-Dale can have thus treated a man
of your reverend bearing," replied the Captain.
"It is true as the gospel of Saint Nicodemus," said the Prior;
"he swore, with many a cruel north-country oath, that he would
hang me up on the highest tree in the greenwood."
"Did he so in very deed? Nay, then, reverend father, I think you
had better comply with his demands---for Allan-a-Dale is the very
man to abide by his word when he has so pledged it." *
* A commissary is said to have received similar consolation
* from a certain Commander-in-chief, to whom he complained
* that a general officer had used some such threat towards
* him as that in the text.
"You do but jest with me," said the astounded Prior, with a
forced laugh; "and I love a good jest with all my heart. But,
ha! ha! ha! when the mirth has lasted the livelong night, it is
time to be grave in the morning."
"And I am as grave as a father confessor," replied the Outlaw;
"you must pay a round ransom, Sir Prior, or your convent is
likely to be called to a new election; for your place will know
you no more."
"Are ye Christians," said the Prior, "and hold this language to a
"Christians! ay, marry are we, and have divinity among us to
boot," answered the Outlaw. "Let our buxom chaplain stand forth,
and expound to this reverend father the texts which concern this
The Friar, half-drunk, half-sober, had huddled a friar's frock
over his green cassock, and now summoning together whatever
scraps of learning he had acquired by rote in former days, "Holy
father," said he, "'Deus faciat salvam benignitatem vestram'
---You are welcome to the greenwood."
"What profane mummery is this?" said the Prior. "Friend, if thou
be'st indeed of the church, it were a better deed to show me how
I may escape from these men's hands, than to stand ducking and
grinning here like a morris-dancer."
"Truly, reverend father," said the Friar, "I know but one mode in
which thou mayst escape. This is Saint Andrew's day with us, we
are taking our tithes."
"But not of the church, then, I trust, my good brother?" said the
"Of church and lay," said the Friar; "and therefore, Sir Prior
'facite vobis amicos de Mammone iniquitatis'---make yourselves
friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness, for no other friendship
is like to serve your turn."
"I love a jolly woodsman at heart," said the Prior, softening his
tone; "come, ye must not deal too hard with me---I can well of
woodcraft, and can wind a horn clear and lustily, and hollo till
every oak rings again---Come, ye must not deal too hard with me."
"Give him a horn," said the Outlaw; "we will prove the skill he
The Prior Aymer winded a blast accordingly. The Captain shook
"Sir Prior," he said, "thou blowest a merry note, but it may not
ransom thee---we cannot afford, as the legend on a good knight's
shield hath it, to set thee free for a blast. Moreover, I have
found thee---thou art one of those, who, with new French graces
and Tra-li-ras, disturb the ancient English bugle notes.---Prior,
that last flourish on the recheat hath added fifty crowns to thy
ransom, for corrupting the true old manly blasts of venerie."
"Well, friend," said the Abbot, peevishly, "thou art ill to
please with thy woodcraft. I pray thee be more conformable in
this matter of my ransom. At a word---since I must needs, for
once, hold a candle to the devil---what ransom am I to pay for
walking on Watling-street, without having fifty men at my back?"
"Were it not well," said the Lieutenant of the gang apart to the
Captain, "that the Prior should name the Jew's ransom, and the
Jew name the Prior's?"
"Thou art a mad knave," said the Captain, "but thy plan
transcends!---Here, Jew, step forth---Look at that holy Father
Aymer, Prior of the rich Abbey of Jorvaulx, and tell us at what
ransom we should hold him?---Thou knowest the income of his
convent, I warrant thee."
"O, assuredly," said Isaac. "I have trafficked with the good
fathers, and bought wheat and barley, and fruits of the earth,
and also much wool. O, it is a rich abbey-stede, and they do
live upon the fat, and drink the sweet wines upon the lees, these
good fathers of Jorvaulx. Ah, if an outcast like me had such a
home to go to, and such incomings by the year and by the month, I
would pay much gold and silver to redeem my captivity."
"Hound of a Jew!" exclaimed the Prior, "no one knows better than
thy own cursed self, that our holy house of God is indebted for
the finishing of our chancel---"
"And for the storing of your cellars in the last season with the
due allowance of Gascon wine," interrupted the Jew; "but that
---that is small matters."
"Hear the infidel dog!" said the churchman; "he jangles as if our
holy community did come under debts for the wines we have a
license to drink, 'propter necessitatem, et ad frigus
depellendum'. The circumcised villain blasphemeth the holy
church, and Christian men listen and rebuke him not!"
"All this helps nothing," said the leader.---"Isaac, pronounce
what he may pay, without flaying both hide and hair."
"An six hundred crowns," said Isaac, "the good Prior might well
pay to your honoured valours, and never sit less soft in his
"Six hundred crowns," said the leader, gravely; "I am contented
---thou hast well spoken, Isaac---six hundred crowns.---It is a
sentence, Sir Prior."
"A sentence!---a sentence!" exclaimed the band; "Solomon had not
done it better."
"Thou hearest thy doom, Prior," said the leader.
"Ye are mad, my masters," said the Prior; "where am I to find
such a sum? If I sell the very pyx and candlesticks on the altar
at Jorvaulx, I shall scarce raise the half; and it will be
necessary for that purpose that I go to Jorvaulx myself; ye may
retain as borrows*
* Borghs, or borrows, signifies pledges. Hence our word to
* borrow, because we pledge ourselves to restore what is
my two priests."
"That will be but blind trust," said the Outlaw; "we will retain
thee, Prior, and send them to fetch thy ransom. Thou shalt not
want a cup of wine and a collop of venison the while; and if thou
lovest woodcraft, thou shalt see such as your north country never
"Or, if so please you," said Isaac, willing to curry favour with
the outlaws, "I can send to York for the six hundred crowns, out
of certain monies in my hands, if so be that the most reverend
Prior present will grant me a quittance."
"He shall grant thee whatever thou dost list, Isaac," said the
Captain; "and thou shalt lay down the redemption money for Prior
Aymer as well as for thyself."
"For myself! ah, courageous sirs," said the Jew, "I am a broken
and impoverished man; a beggar's staff must be my portion through
life, supposing I were to pay you fifty crowns."
"The Prior shall judge of that matter," replied the Captain.
---"How say you, Father Aymer? Can the Jew afford a good
"Can he afford a ransom?" answered the Prior "Is he not Isaac of
York, rich enough to redeem the captivity of the ten tribes of
Israel, who were led into Assyrian bondage?---I have seen but
little of him myself, but our cellarer and treasurer have dealt
largely with him, and report says that his house at York is so
full of gold and silver as is a shame in any Christian land.
Marvel it is to all living Christian hearts that such gnawing
adders should be suffered to eat into the bowels of the state,
and even of the holy church herself, with foul usuries and
"Hold, father," said the Jew, "mitigate and assuage your choler.
I pray of your reverence to remember that I force my monies upon
no one. But when churchman and layman, prince and prior, knight
and priest, come knocking to Isaac's door, they borrow not his
shekels with these uncivil terms. It is then, Friend Isaac, will
you pleasure us in this matter, and our day shall be truly kept,
so God sa' me?---and Kind Isaac, if ever you served man, show
yourself a friend in this need! And when the day comes, and I
ask my own, then what hear I but Damned Jew, and The curse of
Egypt on your tribe, and all that may stir up the rude and
uncivil populace against poor strangers!"
"Prior," said the Captain, "Jew though he be, he hath in this
spoken well. Do thou, therefore, name his ransom, as he named
thine, without farther rude terms."
"None but 'latro famosus'---the interpretation whereof," said the
Prior, "will I give at some other time and tide---would place a
Christian prelate and an unbaptized Jew upon the same bench. But
since ye require me to put a price upon this caitiff, I tell you
openly that ye will wrong yourselves if you take from him a penny
under a thousand crowns."
"A sentence!---a sentence!" exclaimed the chief Outlaw.
"A sentence!---a sentence!" shouted his assessors; "the Christian
has shown his good nurture, and dealt with us more generously
than the Jew."
"The God of my fathers help me!" said the Jew; "will ye bear to
the ground an impoverished creature?---I am this day childless,
and will ye deprive me of the means of livelihood?"
"Thou wilt have the less to provide for, Jew, if thou art
childless," said Aymer.
"Alas! my lord," said Isaac, "your law permits you not to know
how the child of our bosom is entwined with the strings of our
heart---O Rebecca! laughter of my beloved Rachel! were each leaf
on that tree a zecchin, and each zecchin mine own, all that mass
of wealth would I give to know whether thou art alive, and
escaped the hands of the Nazarene!"
"Was not thy daughter dark-haired?" said one of the outlaws; "and
wore she not a veil of twisted sendal, broidered with silver?"
"She did!---she did!" said the old man, trembling with eagerness,
as formerly with fear. "The blessing of Jacob be upon thee!
canst thou tell me aught of her safety?"
"It was she, then," said the yeoman, "who was carried off by the
proud Templar, when he broke through our ranks on yester-even.
I had drawn my bow to send a shaft after him, but spared him even
for the sake of the damsel, who I feared might take harm from the
"Oh!" answered the Jew, "I would to God thou hadst shot, though
the arrow had pierced her bosom!---Better the tomb of her fathers
than the dishonourable couch of the licentious and savage
Templar. Ichabod! Ichabod! the glory hath departed from my
"Friends," said the Chief, looking round, "the
old man is but a Jew, natheless his grief touches me.---Deal
uprightly with us, Isaac---will paying this ransom of a thousand
crowns leave thee altogether penniless?"
Isaac, recalled to think of his worldly goods, the love of which,
by dint of inveterate habit, contended even with his parental
affection, grew pale, stammered, and could not deny there might
be some small surplus.
"Well---go to---what though there be," said the Outlaw, "we will
not reckon with thee too closely. Without treasure thou mayst as
well hope to redeem thy child from the clutches of Sir Brian de
Bois-Guilbert, as to shoot a stag-royal with a headless shaft.
---We will take thee at the same ransom with Prior Aymer, or
rather at one hundred crowns lower, which hundred crowns shall be
mine own peculiar loss, and not light upon this worshipful
community; and so we shall avoid the heinous offence of rating a
Jew merchant as high as a Christian prelate, and thou wilt have
six hundred crowns remaining to treat for thy daughter's ransom.
Templars love the glitter of silver shekels as well as the
sparkle of black eyes.---Hasten to make thy crowns chink in the
ear of De Bois-Guilbert, ere worse comes of it. Thou wilt find
him, as our scouts have brought notice, at the next Preceptory
house of his Order.---Said I well, my merry mates?"
The yeomen expressed their wonted acquiescence in their leader's
opinion; and Isaac, relieved of one half of his apprehensions, by
learning that his daughter lived, and might possibly be ransomed,
threw himself at the feet of the generous Outlaw, and, rubbing
his beard against his buskins, sought to kiss the hem of his
green cassock. The Captain drew himself back, and extricated
himself from the Jew's grasp, not without some marks of contempt.
"Nay, beshrew thee, man, up with thee! I am English born, and
love no such Eastern prostrations---Kneel to God, and not to a
poor sinner, like me."
"Ay, Jew," said Prior Aymer; "kneel to God, as represented in the
servant of his altar, and who knows, with thy sincere repentance
and due gifts to the shrine of Saint Robert, what grace thou
mayst acquire for thyself and thy daughter Rebecca? I grieve for
the maiden, for she is of fair and comely countenance,---I beheld
her in the lists of Ashby. Also Brian de Bois-Guilbert is one
with whom I may do much---bethink thee how thou mayst deserve my
good word with him."
"Alas! alas!" said the Jew, "on every hand the spoilers arise
against me---I am given as a prey unto the Assyrian, and a prey
unto him of Egypt."
"And what else should be the lot of thy accursed race?" answered
the Prior; "for what saith holy writ, 'verbum Domini projecerunt,
et sapientia est nulla in eis'---they have cast forth the word of
the Lord, and there is no wisdom in them; 'propterea dabo
mulieres eorum exteris'---I will give their women to strangers,
that is to the Templar, as in the present matter; 'et thesauros
eorum haeredibus alienis', and their treasures to others---as in
the present case to these honest gentlemen."
Isaac groaned deeply, and began to wring his hands, and to
relapse into his state of desolation and despair. But the leader
of the yeomen led him aside.
"Advise thee well, Isaac," said Locksley, "what thou wilt do in
this matter; my counsel to thee is to make a friend of this
churchman. He is vain, Isaac, and he is covetous; at least he
needs money to supply his profusion. Thou canst easily gratify
his greed; for think not that I am blinded by thy pretexts of
poverty. I am intimately acquainted, Isaac, with the very iron
chest in which thou dost keep thy money-bags---What! know I not
the great stone beneath the apple-tree, that leads into the
vaulted chamber under thy garden at York?" The Jew grew as pale
as death---"But fear nothing from me," continued the yeoman, "for
we are of old acquainted. Dost thou not remember the sick yeoman
whom thy fair daughter Rebecca redeemed from the gyves at York,
and kept him in thy house till his health was restored, when thou
didst dismiss him recovered, and with a piece of money?---Usurer
as thou art, thou didst never place coin at better interest than
that poor silver mark, for it has this day saved thee five
"And thou art he whom we called Diccon Bend-the-Bow?" said Isaac;
"I thought ever I knew the accent of thy voice."
"I am Bend-the-Bow," said the Captain, "and Locksley, and have a
good name besides all these."
"But thou art mistaken, good Bend-the-Bow, concerning that same
vaulted apartment. So help me Heaven, as there is nought in it
but some merchandises which I will gladly part with to you---one
hundred yards of Lincoln green to make doublets to thy men, and a
hundred staves of Spanish yew to make bows, and a hundred silken
bowstrings, tough, round, and sound---these will I send thee for
thy good-will, honest Diccon, an thou wilt keep silence about the
vault, my good Diccon."
"Silent as a dormouse," said the Outlaw; "and never trust me but
I am grieved for thy daughter. But I may not help it---The
Templars lances are too strong for my archery in the open field
---they would scatter us like dust. Had I but known it was
Rebecca when she was borne off, something might have been done;
but now thou must needs proceed by policy. Come, shall I treat
for thee with the Prior?"
"In God's name, Diccon, an thou canst, aid me to recover the
child of my bosom!"
"Do not thou interrupt me with thine ill-timed avarice," said the
Outlaw, "and I will deal with him in thy behalf."
He then turned from the Jew, who followed him, however, as
closely as his shadow.
"Prior Aymer," said the Captain, "come apart with me under this
tree. Men say thou dost love wine, and a lady's smile, better
than beseems thy Order, Sir Priest; but with that I have nought
to do. I have heard, too, thou dost love a brace of good dogs
and a fleet horse, and it may well be that, loving things which
are costly to come by, thou hatest not a purse of gold. But I
have never heard that thou didst love oppression or cruelty.
---Now, here is Isaac willing to give thee the means of pleasure
and pastime in a bag containing one hundred marks of silver, if
thy intercession with thine ally the Templar shall avail to
procure the freedom of his daughter."
"In safety and honour, as when taken from me," said the Jew,
"otherwise it is no bargain."
"Peace, Isaac," said the Outlaw, "or I give up thine interest.
---What say you to this my purpose, Prior Aymer?"
"The matter," quoth the Prior, "is of a mixed condition; for, if
I do a good deal on the one hand, yet, on the other, it goeth to
the vantage of a Jew, and in so much is against my conscience.
Yet, if the Israelite will advantage the Church by giving me
somewhat over to the building of our dortour,*
* "Dortour", or dormitory.
I will take it on my conscience to aid him in the matter of his
"For a score of marks to the dortour," said the Outlaw,---"Be
still, I say, Isaac!---or for a brace of silver candlesticks to
the altar, we will not stand with you."
"Nay, but, good Diccon Bend-the-Bow"---said Isaac, endeavouring
"Good Jew---good beast---good earthworm!" said the yeoman, losing
patience; "an thou dost go on to put thy filthy lucre in the
balance with thy daughter's life and honour, by Heaven, I will
strip thee of every maravedi thou hast in the world, before three
days are out!"
Isaac shrunk together, and was silent.
"And what pledge am I to have for all this?" said the Prior.
"When Isaac returns successful through your mediation," said the
Outlaw, "I swear by Saint Hubert, I will see that he pays thee
the money in good silver, or I will reckon with him for it in
such sort, he had better have paid twenty such sums."
"Well then, Jew," said Aymer, "since I must needs meddle in this
matter, let me have the use of thy writing-tablets---though, hold
---rather than use thy pen, I would fast for twenty-four hours,
and where shall I find one?"
"If your holy scruples can dispense with using the Jew's tablets,
for the pen I can find a remedy," said the yeoman; and, bending
his bow, he aimed his shaft at a wild-goose which was soaring
over their heads, the advanced-guard of a phalanx of his tribe,
which were winging their way to the distant and solitary fens of
Holderness. The bird came fluttering down, transfixed with the
"There, Prior," said the Captain, "are quills enow to supply all
the monks of Jorvaulx for the next hundred years, an they take
not to writing chronicles."
The Prior sat down, and at great leisure indited an epistle to
Brian de Bois-Guilbert, and having carefully sealed up the
tablets, delivered them to the Jew, saying, "This will be thy
safe-conduct to the Preceptory of Templestowe, and, as I think,
is most likely to accomplish the delivery of thy daughter, if it
be well backed with proffers of advantage and commodity at thine
own hand; for, trust me well, the good Knight Bois-Guilbert is of
their confraternity that do nought for nought."
"Well, Prior," said the Outlaw, "I will detain thee no longer
here than to give the Jew a quittance for the six hundred crowns
at which thy ransom is fixed---I accept of him for my pay-master;
and if I hear that ye boggle at allowing him in his accompts the
sum so paid by him, Saint Mary refuse me, an I burn not the abbey
over thine head, though I hang ten years the sooner!"
With a much worse grace than that wherewith he had penned the
letter to Bois-Guilbert, the Prior wrote an acquittance,
discharging Isaac of York of six hundred crowns, advanced to him
in his need for acquittal of his ransom, and faithfully promising
to hold true compt with him for that sum.
"And now," said Prior Aymer, "I will pray you of restitution of
my mules and palfreys, and the freedom of the reverend brethren
attending upon me, and also of the gymmal rings, jewels, and fair
vestures, of which I have been despoiled, having now satisfied
you for my ransom as a true prisoner."
"Touching your brethren, Sir Prior," said Locksley, "they shall
have present freedom, it were unjust to detain them; touching
your horses and mules, they shall also be restored, with such
spending-money as may enable you to reach York, for it were cruel
to deprive you of the means of journeying.---But as concerning
rings, jewels, chains, and what else, you must understand that we
are men of tender consciences, and will not yield to a venerable
man like yourself, who should be dead to the vanities of this
life, the strong temptation to break the rule of his foundation,
by wearing rings, chains, or other vain gauds."
"Think what you do, my masters," said the Prior, "ere you put
your hand on the Church's patrimony---These things are 'inter res
sacras', and I wot not what judgment might ensue were they to be
handled by laical hands."
"I will take care of that, reverend Prior," said the Hermit of
Copmanhurst; "for I will wear them myself."
"Friend, or brother," said the Prior, in answer to this solution
of his doubts, "if thou hast really taken religious orders, I
pray thee to look how thou wilt answer to thine official for the
share thou hast taken in this day's work."
"Friend Prior," returned the Hermit, "you are to know that I
belong to a little diocese, where I am my own diocesan, and care
as little for the Bishop of York as I do for the Abbot
of Jorvaulx, the Prior, and all the convent."
"Thou art utterly irregular," said the Prior; "one of those
disorderly men, who, taking on them the sacred character without
due cause, profane the holy rites, and endanger the souls of
those who take counsel at their hands; 'lapides pro pane
condonantes iis', giving them stones instead of bread as the
Vulgate hath it."
"Nay," said the Friar, "an my brain-pan could have been broken by
Latin, it had not held so long together.---I say, that easing a
world of such misproud priests as thou art of their jewels and
their gimcracks, is a lawful spoiling of the Egyptians."
"Thou be'st a hedge-priest,"*
* Note I. Hedge-Priests.
said the Prior, in great wrath, "'excommuicabo vos'."
"Thou best thyself more like a thief and a heretic," said the
Friar, equally indignant; "I will pouch up no such affront before
my parishioners, as thou thinkest it not shame to put upon me,
although I be a reverend brother to thee. 'Ossa ejus
perfringam', I will break your bones, as the Vulgate hath it."
"Hola!" cried the Captain, "come the reverend brethren to such
terms?---Keep thine assurance of peace, Friar.---Prior, an thou
hast not made thy peace perfect with God, provoke the Friar no
further.---Hermit, let the reverend father depart in peace, as a
The yeomen separated the incensed priests, who continued to raise
their voices, vituperating each other in bad Latin, which the
Prior delivered the more fluently, and the Hermit with the
greater vehemence. The Prior at length recollected himself
sufficiently to be aware that he was compromising his dignity, by
squabbling with such a hedge-priest as the Outlaw's chaplain, and
being joined by his attendants, rode off with considerably less
pomp, and in a much more apostolical condition, so far as worldly
matters were concerned, than he had exhibited before this
It remained that the Jew should produce some security for the
ransom which he was to pay on the Prior's account, as well as
upon his own. He gave, accordingly, an order sealed with his
signet, to a brother of his tribe at York, requiring him to pay
to the bearer the sum of a thousand crowns, and to deliver
certain merchandises specified in the note.
"My brother Sheva," he said, groaning deeply, "hath the key of my
"And of the vaulted chamber," whispered Locksley.
"No, no---may Heaven forefend!" said Isaac; "evil is the hour
that let any one whomsoever into that secret!"
"It is safe with me," said the Outlaw, "so be that this thy
scroll produce the sum therein nominated and set down.---But what
now, Isaac? art dead? art stupefied? hath the payment of a
thousand crowns put thy daughter's peril out of thy mind?"
The Jew started to his feet---"No, Diccon, no---I will presently
set forth.---Farewell, thou whom I may not call good, and dare
not and will not call evil."
Yet ere Isaac departed, the Outlaw Chief bestowed on him this
parting advice:---"Be liberal of thine offers, Isaac, and spare
not thy purse for thy daughter's safety. Credit me, that the
gold thou shalt spare in her cause, will hereafter give thee as
much agony as if it were poured molten down thy throat."
Isaac acquiesced with a deep groan, and set forth on his journey,
accompanied by two tall foresters, who were to be his guides, and
at the same time his guards, through the wood.
The Black Knight, who had seen with no small interest these
various proceedings, now took his leave of the Outlaw in turn;
nor could he avoid expressing his surprise at having witnessed
so much of civil policy amongst persons cast out from all the
ordinary protection and influence of the laws.
"Good fruit, Sir Knight," said the yeoman, "will sometimes grow
on a sorry tree; and evil times are not always productive of evil
alone and unmixed. Amongst those who are drawn into this lawless
state, there are, doubtless, numbers who wish to exercise its
license with some moderation, and some who regret, it may be,
that they are obliged to follow such a trade at all."
"And to one of those," said the Knight, "I am now, I presume,
"Sir Knight," said the Outlaw, "we have each our secret. You are
welcome to form your judgment of me, and I may use my conjectures
touching you, though neither of our shafts may hit the mark they
are shot at. But as I do not pray to be admitted into your
mystery, be not offended that I preserve my own."
"I crave pardon, brave Outlaw," said the Knight, "your reproof is
just. But it may be we shall meet hereafter with less of
concealment on either side.---Meanwhile we part friends, do we
"There is my hand upon it," said Locksley; "and I will call it
the hand of a true Englishman, though an outlaw for the present."
"And there is mine in return," said the Knight, "and I hold it
honoured by being clasped with yours. For he that does good,
having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only
for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he
forbears. Fare thee well, gallant Outlaw!" Thus parted that
fair fellowship; and He of the Fetterlock, mounting upon his
strong war-horse, rode off through the forest.
KING JOHN.---I'll tell thee what, my friend,
He is a very serpent in my way;
And wheresoe'er this foot of mine doth tread,
He lies before me.---Dost thou understand me?
There was brave feasting in the Castle of York, to which Prince
John had invited those nobles, prelates, and leaders, by whose
assistance he hoped to carry through his ambitious projects upon
his brother's throne. Waldemar Fitzurse, his able and politic
agent, was at secret work among them, tempering all to that pitch
of courage which was necessary in making an open declaration of
their purpose. But their enterprise was delayed by the absence
of more than one main limb of the confederacy. The stubborn and
daring, though brutal courage of Front-de-Boeuf; the buoyant
spirits and bold bearing of De Bracy; the sagacity, martial
experience, and renowned valour of Brian de Bois-Guilbert, were
important to the success of their conspiracy; and, while cursing
in secret their unnecessary and unmeaning absence, neither John
nor his adviser dared to proceed without them. Isaac the Jew
also seemed to have vanished, and with him the hope of certain
sums of money, making up the subsidy for which Prince John had
contracted with that Israelite and his brethren. This deficiency
was likely to prove perilous in an emergency so critical.
It was on the morning after the fall of Torquilstone, that a
confused report began to spread abroad in the city of York, that
De Bracy and Bois-Guilbert, with their confederate
Front-de-Boeuf, had been taken or slain. Waldemar brought the
rumour to Prince John, announcing, that he feared its truth the
more that they had set out with a small attendance, for the
purpose of committing an assault on the Saxon Cedric and his
attendants. At another time the Prince would have treated this
deed of violence as a good jest; but now, that it interfered with
and impeded his own plans, he exclaimed against the perpetrators,
and spoke of the broken laws, and the infringement of public
order and of private property, in a tone which might have become
"The unprincipled marauders," he said---"were I ever to become
monarch of England, I would hang such transgressors over the
drawbridges of their own castles."
"But to become monarch of England," said his Ahithophel coolly,
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