The Prince and the Page
Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 1 out of 4
This etext was produced by David Price, email email@example.com,
from the 1909 Macmillan and Co. edition.
THE PRINCE AND THE PAGE
by Charlotte M. Yonge
In these days of exactness even a child's historical romance must
point to what the French term its pieces justficatives. We own that
ours do not lie very deep. The picture of Simon de Montfort drawn by
his wife's own household books, as quoted by Mrs. Everett Green in
her Lives of the Princesses, and that of Edward I. in Carte's
History, and more recently in the Greatest of the Plantagenets,
furnished the two chief influences of the story. The household
accounts show that Earl Simon and Eleanor of England had five sons.
Henry fell with his father at Evesham. Simon and Guy deeply injured
his cause by their violence, and after holding out Kenilworth against
the Prince, retired to the Continent, where they sacrilegiously
murdered Henry, son of the King of the Romans--a crime so much
abhorred in Italy that Dante represents himself as meeting them in
torments in the Inferno, not however before Guy had become the
founder of the family of the Counts of Monforte in the Maremma.
Richard, the fourth son, appears in the household books as possessing
dogs, and having garments bought for him; but his history has not
been traced after his mother left England. The youngest son, Amaury,
obtained the hereditary French possessions of the family, and
continued the line of Montfort as a French subject. Eleanor, the
only daughter, called the Demoiselle de Montfort, married, as is well
known, the last native prince of Wales, and died after a few years.
The adventure of Edward with the outlaw of Alton Wood is one of the
stock anecdotes of history, and many years ago the romance of the
encounter led the author to begin a tale upon it, in which the outlaw
became the protector of one of the proscribed family of Montfort.
The commencement was placed in one of the manuscript magazines which
are so often the amusement of a circle of friends. It was not
particularly correct in its details, and the hero bore the peculiarly
improbable name of Wilfred (by which he has since appeared in the
Monthly Packet). The story slept for many years in MS., until
further reading and thought had brought stronger interest in the
period, and for better or for worse it was taken in hand again.
Joinville, together with the authorities quoted by Sismondi, assisted
in picturing the arrival of the English after the death of St. Louis,
and the murder of Henry of Almayne is related in all crusading
histories; but for Simon's further career, and for his implication in
the attempt on Edward's life at Acre, the author is alone
responsible, taking refuge in the entire uncertainty that prevails as
to the real originator of the crime, and perhaps an apology is
likewise due to Dante for having reversed his doom.
For the latter part of the story, the old ballad of The Blind Beggar
of Bethnal Green, gives the framework. That ballad is believed to be
Elizabethan in date, and the manners therein certainly are scarcely
accordant with the real thirteenth century, and still less with our
notions of the days of chivalry. Some liberties therefore have been
taken with it, the chief of them being that Bessee is not permitted
to go forth to seek her fortune in the inn at Romford, and the
readers are entreated to believe that the alteration was made by the
traditions which repeated Henry de Montfort's song.
It was the late Hugh Millar who alleged that the huge stone under
which Edward sleeps in Westminster Abbey agrees in structure with no
rocks nearer than those whence the mighty stones of the Temple at
Jerusalem were hewn, and there is no doubt that earth and stones were
frequently brought by crusaders from the Holy Land with a view to the
hallowing of their own tombs.
The author is well aware that this tale has all the incorrectnesses
and inconsistencies that are sure to attend a historical tale; but
the dream that has been pleasant to dream may be pleasant to listen
to; and there can be no doubt that, in spite of all inevitable
faults, this style of composition does tend to fix young people's
interest and attention on the scenes it treats of, and to vivify the
characters it describes; and if this sketch at all tends to prepare
young people's minds to look with sympathy and appreciation on any of
the great characters of our early annals, it will have done at least
December 12th, 1865.
CHAPTER I--THE STATELY HUNTER
"'Now who are thou of the darksome brow
Who wanderest here so free?'
"'Oh, I'm one that will walk the green green woods,
Nor ever ask leave of thee.'"--S. M.
A fine evening--six centuries ago--shed a bright parting light over
Alton Wood, illuminating the gray lichens that clung to the rugged
trunks of the old oak trees, and shining on the smoother bark of the
graceful beech, with that sidelong light that, towards evening, gives
an especial charm to woodland scenery. The long shadows lay across
an open green glade, narrowing towards one end, where a path, nearly
lost amid dwarf furze, crested heather, and soft bent-grass, led
towards a hut, rudely constructed of sods of turf and branches of
trees, whose gray crackling foliage contrasted with the fresh verdure
around. There was no endeavour at a window, nor chimney; but the
door of wattled boughs was carefully secured by a long twisted withe.
A halbert, a broken arrow, a deer-skin pegged out on the ground to
dry, a bundle of faggots, a bare and blackened patch of grass, strewn
with wood ashes, were tokens of recent habitation, though the
reiterations of the nightingale, the deep tones of the blackbird and
the hum of insects, were the only sounds that broke the stillness.
Suddenly the silence was interrupted by a clear, loud, ringing
whistle, repeated at brief intervals and now and then exchanged for
the call--"Leonillo! Leon!" A footstep approached, rapidly
overtaken and passed by the rushing gallop of a large animal; and
there broke on the scene a large tawny hound, prancing, bounding, and
turning round joyfully, pawing the air, and wagging his tail, in
welcome to the figure who followed him.
This was a youth thirteen years old, wearing such a dress as was
usual with foresters--namely, a garment of home-spun undyed wool,
reaching to the knee, and there met by buskins of deer-skin, with the
dappled hair outside; but the belt which crossed one shoulder was
clasped with gold, and sustained a dagger, whose hilt and sheath were
of exquisite workmanship. The cap on his head was of gray rabbit-
skin, but a heron's plume waved in it; the dark curling locks beneath
were carefully arranged; and the port of his head and shoulders, the
mould of his limbs, the cast of his features, and the fairness of his
complexion, made his appearance ill accord with the homeliness of his
garb. In one hand he carried a bow over his shoulder; in the other
he held by the ears a couple of dead rabbits, with which he playfully
tantalized the dog, holding them to his nose, and then lifting them
high aloft, while the hound, perfectly entering into the sport, leapt
high after them with open mouth, and pretended to seize them, then
bounded and careered round his young master with gay short barks,
till both were out of breath; and the boy, flinging the rabbits on
the turf, threw himself down on it, with one arm upon the neck of the
panting dog, whose great gasps, like a sobbing of laughter, heaved
his whole frame.
"Ay, good Leonillo, take your rest!" said the boy: "we have done
yeoman's service to-day, and shown ourselves fit to earn our own
livelihood! We are outlaws now, my lion of the Pyrenees; and you at
least lead a merrier life than in the castle halls, when we hunted
for sport, and not for sustenance! Well-a-day, my Leon!"--as the
creature closed his mouth, and looked wistfully up at him with almost
human sympathy and intelligence--"would that we knew where are all
that were once wont to go with us to the chase! But for them, I
would be well content to be a bold forester all my days! Better so,
than to be ever vexed and crossed in every design for the country's
weal--distrusted above--betrayed beneath! Alack! alack! my noble
father, why wert thou wrecked in every hope--in every aim!"
These murmurings were broken off as Leonillo suddenly crested his
head, and changed his expression of repose for one of intense
"Already!" exclaimed the boy, springing to his feet, as Leonillo
bounded forward to meet a stout hardy forester, who was advancing
from the opposite end of the glade. This was a man of the largest
and most sinewy mould, his face tanned by sun and wind to a uniform
hard ruddy brown, and his shaggy black hair untrimmed, as well as his
dark bristly beard. His jerkin was of rough leather, crossed by a
belt, sustaining sword and dagger; a bow and arrows were at his back;
a huge quarter-staff in his hand; and his whole aspect was that of a
ferocious outlaw, whose hand was against every man.
But the youth started towards him gleefully, as if the very sight of
him had dispelled all melancholy musings, and shouted merrily,
"Welcome--welcome, Adam! Why so early home? Have the Alton boors
turned surly? or are the King's prickers abroad, and the
neighbourhood unwholesome for bold clerks of St. Nicholas?"
"Worse!" was the gruff mutter in reply. "Down, Leon: I am in no
mood for thy freaks!"
"What is it, Adam? Have the keepers carried their complaints to the
King, of the venison we have consumed, with small thanks to him?"
"Prince Edward is at Alton! What think you of that, Sir? Come to
seek through copse and brake for the arrant deer-stealer and outlaw,
and all his gang!"
"Why, there's preferment for you!" said the boy, laughing. "High
game for the heir of the throne! And his gang! Hold up your head,
Leonillo: you and I come in for a share of the honour!"
"Hold up your head!" said the outlaw bitterly. "You may chance to
hold it as high as your father's is, for all your gibes and jests, my
young Lord, if the Longshanks gets a hold of you, which our Lady
"Nay, I think better of my Cousin Longshanks. I loved him well when
I was his page at Hereford: he was tenderer to me than ever my
brothers were; and I scarce think he would hang, draw, and quarter me
"You may try, if you are not the better guided."
"How did you hear these tidings?" inquired the boy, changing his mood
to a graver one.
"From the monk to whom you confessed a fortnight back. Did you let
him know your lineage?"
"How could I do otherwise?"
"He looked like a man who would keep a secret; and yet--"
"Shame--shame to doubt the good father!"
"Nay, I do not say that I do; but I would have the secret in as few
men's power as may be. Nevertheless, I thank the good brother. He
called out to me as he saw me about to enter the town, that if I had
any tenderness for my own life, I had best not show myself there; and
he went on to tell me how the Prince was come to his hunting-lodge,
with hawk and hound indeed, but for the following of men rather than
bird or beast."
"And what would you have me do?"
"Be instantly on the way to the coast, ere the search begins; and
there, either for love of Sir Simon the righteous or for that gilt
knife of yours, we may get ferried over to the Isle of Wight, whence-
-But what ails the dog! Whist, Leonillo! Hold your throat: I can
hear naught but your clamour!"
The hound was in fact barking with a tremendous lion-like note; and
when, on reiterated commands from his master and the outlaw, he
changed it for a low continuous growling like distant thunder, a step
and a rustling of the boughs became audible.
"They are upon us already!" cried the boy, snatching up and stringing
"Leave me to deal with him!" returned the outlaw. "Off to Alton:
the good father will receive you to sanctuary!"
"Flee!--never!" cried the boy. "You teaching my father's son to
"Tush!--'tis but one!" said the outlaw. "He is easily dealt with;
and he shall have no time to call his fellows."
So saying, the forester strode forward into the wood, where a tall
figure was seen through the trees; and with uplifted quarter-staff,
dealt a blow of sudden and deadly force as soon as the stranger came
within its sweep, totally without warning. The power of the stroke
might have felled an ox, and would have at once overthrown the new-
comer, but that he was a man of unusual stature; and this being
unperceived in the outlaw's haste, the blow lighted on his left
shoulder instead of on his head.
"Ha, caitiff!" he exclaimed; and shortening the hunting-pole in his
hand, he returned the stroke with interest, but the outlaw had
already prepared himself to receive the blow on his staff. For some
seconds there was a rapid exchange; and all that the boy could detect
in the fierce flourish of weapons was, that his champion was at least
equally matched. The height of the stranger was superior; and his
movements, if less quick and violent, had an equableness that showed
him a thorough master of his weapon. But ere the lad had time to
cross the heather to the scene of action, the fight was over; the
outlaw lay stunned and motionless on the ground, and the gigantic
stranger was leaning on his hunting-pole, regarding him with a grave
unmoved countenance, the fair skin of which was scarcely flushed by
"Spare him! spare him!" cried the boy, leaping forwards. "I am the
prey you seek!"
"Well met, my young Lord," was the stern reply. "You have found
yourself a worthy way of life, and an honourable companion."
"Honourable indeed, if faithfulness be honour!" replied the boy.
"Myself I yield, Sir; but spare him, if yet he lives!--O Adam, my
only friend!" he sobbed, as kneeling over him, he raised his head,
undid his collar, and parted the black locks, to seek for the mark of
the blow, whence blood was fast oozing.
"He lives--he will do well enough," said the hunter. "Now, tell me,
boy--what brought you here?"
"The loving fidelity of this man!" was the prompt reply:- "a
Poitevin, a falconer at Kenilworth, who found me sore wounded on the
field at Evesham, and ever since has tended me as never vassal tended
lord; and now--now hath he indeed died for me!" and the boy,
endeavouring to raise the inanimate form, dropped heavy tears on the
"True," rigidly spoke the hunter, though there was somewhat of a
quivering of the muscles of the cheek discernible amid the curls of
his chestnut beard: "robbery is not the wonted service demanded of
"Poor Adam!" said the youth with a flash of spirit, "at least he
never stripped the peaceful homestead and humble farmer, like the
"Ha--young rebel!" exclaimed the hunter. "Know you what you say?"
"I reck not," replied the boy: "you have slain my father and my
brothers, and now you have slain my last and only friend. Do as you
will with me--only for my mother's sake, let it not be a shameful
death; and let my sister Eleanor have my poor Leonillo. And let me,
too, leave this gold with the priest of Alton, that my true-hearted
loving Adam may have fit burial and masses."
"I tell thee, boy, he is in no more need of a burial than thou or I.
I touched him warily. Here--his face more to the air."
And the stranger bent down, and with his powerful strength lifted the
heavy form of Adam, so that the boy could better support him. Then
taking some wine from the hunting-flask slung to his own shoulder, he
applied some drops to the bruise. The smart produced signs of life,
and the hunter put his flask into the boy's hand, saying, "Give him a
draught, and then--" he put his finger to his own lips, and stood
Adam opened his eyes, and made some inarticulate murmurs; then, the
liquor being held to his lips, he drank, and with fresh vigour raised
"The boy!--where is he? What has chanced? Is it you, Sir? Where is
the rogue? Fled, the villain? We shall have the Prince upon us
next! I must after him, and cut his story short! Your hand, Sir!"
"Nay, Adam--your hurt!"
"A broken head! Tush, 'tis naught! Here, your hand! Canst not lend
a hand to help a man up in your own service?" he added testily, as
stiff and dizzy he sat up and tried to rise. "You might have sent an
arrow to stop his traitorous tongue; but there is no help in you!" he
added, provoked at seeing a certain embarrassment about the youth.
"Desert me at this pinch! It is not like his father's son!" and he
was sinking back, when at sight of the hunter he stumbled eagerly to
his feet, but only to stagger against a tree.
"You are my prisoner!" said the calm deep voice.
"Well and good," said Adam surlily. "But let the lad go free: he is
a yeoman's son, who came but to bear me company."
"And learn thy trade? Goodly lessons in falling unawares on the
King's huntsmen, and sending arrows after them! Fair breeding, in
sooth!" repeated the stranger, standing with his arms crossed upon
his mighty breadth of chest, and looking at Adam with a still, grave,
commanding blue eye, that seemed to pierce him and hold him down, as
it were, and a countenance whose youthfulness and perfect regularity
of feature did but enhance its exceeding severity of expression.
"You know the meed of robbery and murder?"
"A halter and a bough," said Adam readily. "Well and good; but I
tell thee that concerns not the boy--since," he added bitterly, "he
is too meek and tender so much as to lift a hand in his own cause!
He has never crossed the laws."
"I understand you, friend," said the hunter: "he is a valued charge-
-maybe the son of one of the traitor barons. Take my advice--yield
him to the King's justice, and secure your own pardon."
"Out, miscreant!" shouted Adam; and was about to spring at him again,
but the powerful arm collared him, and he recognized at once that he
was like a child in that grasp. He ground his teeth with rage and
muttered, "That a fellow with such thews should give such dastardly
counsel, and HE yonder not lift a finger to aid!"
"Wilt follow me," composedly demanded the stranger, "with hands free?
or must I bind them?"
"Follow?" replied Adam, ruefully looking at the boy with eyes full of
reproach--"ay, follow to any gallows thou wilt--and the nearest tree
were the best! Come on!"
"I have no warrant," returned the grave hunter.
"Tush! what warrant is needed for hanging a well-known outlaw--made
so by the Prince's tender mercies? The Prince will thank thee, man,
for ridding the realm of the robber who fell on the treasurer bearing
the bags from Leicester!"
And meanwhile, with uncouth cunning, Adam was striving to telegraph
by winks and gestures to the boy who had so grievously disappointed
him, that the moment of his own summary execution would be an
excellent one for his companion's escape.
But the eye, so steady yet so quick under its somewhat drooping
eyelid, detected the simple stratagem.
"I trow the Prince might thank me more for bringing in this charge of
"Small thanks, I trow, for laying hands on a poor orphan--the son of
a Poitevin man-at-arms--that I kept with me for love of his father,
though he is fitter for a convent than the green wood!" added Adam,
with the same sound of keen reproach and disappointment in his voice.
"That shall we learn at Guildford," replied the stranger. "There are
means of teaching a man to speak."
"None that will serve with me," stoutly responded Adam.
"That shall we see," was the brief answer.
And he signed to his prisoners to move on before him, taking care so
to interpose his stately person between them, that there should be no
communication by word, far less by look.
CHAPTER II--THE LADY OF THE FOREST
"Behold how mercy softeneth still
The haughtiest heart that beats:
Pride with disdain may he answered again,
But pardon at once defeats!"--S. M.
The so-called forest was in many parts mere open heath, thickly
adorned by the beautiful purple ling, blending into a rich carpet
with the dwarf furze, and backed by thickets of trees in the hollows
of the ground.
Across this wild country the tall forester conducted his captives in
silence--moving along with a pace that evidently cost him so little
exertion, and was so steady and even, that his companions might have
supposed it slow, had they only watched it, and not been obliged to
keep up with it. Light of foot as the youth was, he was at times
reduced to an almost breathless run; and Adam plodded along, with
strides that worked his arms and shoulders in sympathy.
After about three miles, when the boy was beginning to feel as if he
must soon be in danger of lagging, they came into a dip of the ground
where stood a long, low, irregular building, partly wood and partly
stone, roofed with shingle in some parts, in others with heather.
The last addition, a deep porch, still retained the fresh tints of
the bark on the timber sides, and the purple of the ling that roofed
Sheds and out-houses surrounded it; dogs in couples, horses, grooms,
and foresters, were congregated in the background; but around this
new porch were gathered a troop of peasant women, children, and aged
men. The fine bald brow and profile of the old peasant, the eager
face of the curly-haired child, the worn countenance of the hard-
tasked mother, were all uplifted towards the doorway, in which stood,
slightly above them, a lady, with two long plaited flaxen tresses
descending on her shoulders, under a black silken veil, that
disclosed a youthful countenance, full of pure calm loveliness, of a
simple but dignified and devotional expression, that might have
befitted an angel of charity. A priest and a lady were dispensing
loaves and warm garments to the throng around; but each gift was
accompanied by a gentle word from the lady, framed with difficulty to
their homely English tongue, but listened to even by uncomprehending
ears like a strain of Church music.
Adam had expected the forester to turn aside to the group of
servants, but in blank amazement saw him lead the way through the
poor at the gate; and advancing to the porch with a courteous bending
of his head, he said in the soft Provencal--far more familiar than
English to Adam's ears--"Hast room for another suppliant, mi Dona?"
The sweet fair face lighted up with a sudden sunbeam of joy; and a
musical voice replied. "Welcome, my dearest Lord: much did I need
thee to hear the plaints of some of these thy lieges, which my ears
can scarce understand! But why art thou alone? or rather, why thus
"These are the captives won by my single arm, whom, according to all
laws of chivalry, thine own true knight thus lays at thy feet, fair
lady mine, to be disposed of at thine own gracious will and
And a smile of such sweetness lightened his features, that a murmur
of "Blessings on his comely face!" ran through the assembly; and Adam
indulged in a gruff startled murmur of "'Tis the Prince, or the devil
himself!" while his young master, comprehending the gesture of the
Prince, and overborne by the lovely winning graces of the Princess,
stepped forward, doffing his cap and bending his knee, and signing to
Adam to follow his example.
"Thou hast been daring peril again!" said the Princess, holding her
husband's arm, and looking up into his face with lovingly reproachful
yet exulting eyes. "Yet I will not be troubled! Naught is danger to
thee! And yet alone and unarmed to encounter such a sturdy savage as
I see yonder! But there is blood on his brow! Let his hurt be
looked to ere we speak of his fate."
"He is at thy disposal, mi Dona," returned Edward: "thou art the
judge of both, and shall decide their lot when thou hast heard their
"It can scarce be a very dark one," replied Eleanor, "or thou wouldst
never have led them to such a judge!" Then turning to the prisoners,
she began to say in her foreign English, "Follow the good father,
friends--" when she broke off at fuller sight of the boy's
countenance, and exclaimed in Provencal, "I know the like of that
face and mien!"
"Truly dost thou know it," her husband replied; "but peace till thou
hast cleared thy present court, and we can be private.--Follow the
priest," he added, "and await the Princess's pleasure."
They obeyed; and the priest led them through a side-door, through
which they could still hear Eleanor's sweet Castillian voice laying
before her husband her difficulties in comprehending her various
petitioners. The priest being English, was hardly more easily
understood than his flock; and her lady spoke little but langue
d'oui, the Northern French, which was as little serviceable in
dealing with her Spanish and Provencal as with the rude West-Saxon-
English. Edward's deep manly tones were to be heard, however, now
interrogating the peasants in their own tongue, now briefly
interpreting to his wife in Provencal; and a listener could easily
gather that his hand was as bounteous, his heart as merciful, as
hers, save where attacks on the royal game had been requited by the
trouble complained of; and that in such cases she pleaded in vain.
The captives, whom her husband had surrendered to her mercy, had been
led into a great, long, low hall, with rudely-timbered sides, and
rough beams to the roof, with a stone floor, and great open fire,
over which a man-cook was chattering French to his bewildered English
scullion. An oak table, and settles on either side of it, ran the
whole length of the hall; and here the priest bade the two prisoners
seat themselves. They obeyed--the boy slouching his cap over his
face, averting it, and keeping as far as possible from the group of
servants near the fire. The priest called for bread, meat, and beer,
to be set before them; and after a moment's examination of Adam's
bruise, applied the simple remedy that was all it required, and left
them to their meal. Adam took this opportunity to growl in an
undertone, "Does HE there know you?" The reply was a nod of assent.
"And you knew him?" Another nod; and then the boy, looking heedfully
round, added in a quick, undertone, "Not till you were down. Then he
helped me to restore you. You forgive me, Adam, now?" and he held
out his hand, and wrung the rugged one of the forester.
"What should I forgive! Poor lad! you could not have striven in the
Longshanks' grasp! I was a fool not to guess how it was, when I saw
you not knowing which way to look!"
"Hush!" broke in the youth with uplifted hand, as a page of about his
own age came daintily into the hall, gathering his green robe about
him as if he disdained the neighbourhood, and holding his head high
under his jaunty tall feathered cap.
"Outlaws!" he said, speaking English, but with a strong foreign
accent, and as if it were a great condescension, "the gracious
Princess summons you to her presence. Follow me!"
The colour rushed to the boy's temples, and a retort was on his lips,
but he struggled to withhold it; and likewise speaking English, said,
"I would we could have some water, and make ourselves meeter for her
"Scarce worth the pains," returned the page. "As if thou couldst
ever be meet for her presence! She had rather be rid of thee
promptly, than wait to be regaled with thy May-day braveries--honest
Again the answer was only restrained with exceeding difficulty; and
there was a scornful smile on the young prisoner's cheek, that caused
the page to exclaim angrily, "What means that insolence, malapert
But there was no time for further strife; for the door was pushed
open, and the Prince's voice called, "Hamlyn de Valence, why tarry
"Only, Sir," returned Hamlyn, "that this young robber is offended
that he hath not time to deck himself out in his last stolen gold
chain, to gratify the Princess!"
"Peace, Hamlyn," returned the Prince: "thou speakest thou knowest
not what.--Come hither, boy," he added, laying his hand on his young
captive's shoulder, and putting him through the door with a
familiarity that astonished Hamlyn--all the more, when he found that
while both prisoners were admitted, he himself was excluded!
Princess Eleanor was alone in another chamber of the sylvan lodge,
hung with tapestry representing hunting scenes, the floor laid with
deer-skins, and deer's antlers projecting from the wall, to support
the feminine properties that marked it as her special abode. She was
standing when they entered; and was turning eagerly with outstretched
hand and face of recognition, when Prince Edward checked her by
saying, "Nay, the cause is not yet tried:" and placing her in a large
carved oaken chair, where she sat with a lily-like grace and dignity,
half wondering, but following his lead, he proceeded, "Sit thou
there, fair dame, and exercise thy right, as judge of the two
captives whom I place at thy feet."
"And you, my Lord?" she asked.
"I stand as their accuser," said Edward. "Advance, prisoners!--Now,
most fair judge, what dost thou decree for the doom of Adam de
Gourdon, rebel first, and since that the terror of our royal father's
lieges, the robber of his treasurers, the rifler of our Cousin
Pembroke's jewellery, the slayer of our deer?"
"Alas! my Lord, why put such questions to me," said Eleanor
imploringly, "unless, as I would fain hope, thou dost but jest?"
"Do I speak jest, Gourdon?" said Edward, regarding Adam with a lion-
"'Tis all true," growled Adam.
"And," proceeded the Prince, "if thy gentle lips refuse to utter the
doom merited by such deeds, what wilt thou say to hear that, not
content with these traitorous deeds of his own, he fosters the
treason of others? Here stands a young rebel, who would have
perished at Evesham, but for the care and protection of this Gourdon-
-who healed his wounds, guarded him, robbed for him, for him spurned
the offer of amnesty, and finally, set on thine own husband in Alton
Wood--all to shelter yonder young traitor from the hands of justice!
Speak the sentence he merits, most just of judges!"
"The sentence he merits?" said Eleanor, with swimming eyes. "Oh!
would that I were indeed monarch, to dispense life or death! What he
merits he shall have, from my whole heart--mine own poor esteem for
his fidelity, and our joint entreaties to the King for his pardon!
Brave man--thou shalt come with me to seek thy pardon from King
"Thanks, Lady," said Adam with rude courtesy; "but it were better to
seek my young lord's."
"My own dear young cousin!" exclaimed Eleanor, laying aside her
assumed judicial power, and again holding out her hands to him, "we
deemed you slain!"
"Yes, come hither," said Edward, "my jailer at Hereford--the rebel
who drew his maiden sword against his King and uncle--the outlaw who
would try whether Leicester fits as well as Huntingdon with a bandit
life! What hast thou to say for thyself, Richard de Montfort?"
"That my fate, be it what it may, must not stand in the way of Adam's
pardon!" said Richard, standing still, without response to the
Princess's invitation. "My Lord, you have spoken much of his noble
devotion to me for my father's sake; but you know not the half of
what he has done and dared for me. Oh! plead for him, Lady!"
"Plead for him!" said Eleanor: "that will I do with all my heart;
and well do I know that the good old King will weep with gratitude to
him for having preserved the life of his young nephew. Yes, Richard,
oft have we grieved for thee, my husband's kind young companion in
his captivity, and mourned that no tidings could be gained of thee!"
It was not Richard who replied to this winning address. He stood
flushed, irresolute, with eyes resolutely cast down, as if to avoid
seeing the Princess's sweet face.
Adam, however, spoke: "Then, Lady, I am indeed beholden to you;
provided that the boy is safe."
"He is safe," said Prince Edward. "His age is protection
sufficient.--My young cousin, thou art no outlaw: thine uncle will
welcome thee gladly; and a career is open to thee where thou mayst
redeem the honour of thy name."
The colour came with deeper crimson to the boy's cheek, as he
answered in a choked voice, "My father's name needs no redemption!"
Simultaneously a pleading interjection from the Princess, and a
warning growl from De Gourdon, admonished Richard that he was on
perilous ground; but the Prince responded in a tone of deep feeling,
"Well said, Richard: the term does not befit that worthy name. I
should have said that I would fain help thee to maintain its honour.
My page once, wilt thou be so again? and one day my knight--my trusty
"How can I?" said Richard, still in the same undertone, subdued but
determined: "it was you who slew him and my brothers!"
"Nay, nay!" exclaimed the Princess: "the poor boy thinks all his
kindred are slain!"
"And they are not!" cried Richard, raising his face with sudden
animation. "They are safe?"
"Thy brother Henry died with--with the Earl," said Eleanor; "but all
the rest are safe, and in France."
"And my mother and sister?" asked Richard.
"They are likewise abroad," said the Prince. "And, Richard, thou art
free to join them if thou wilt. But listen first to me. We tarry
yet two days at this forest lodge: remain with us for that space--
thy name and rank unknown if thou wilt--and if thou shalt still look
on me as guilty of thy father's death, and not as a loving kinsman,
who honoured him deeply, I will send thee safely to the coast, with
letters to my uncle, the King of France."
Richard raised his head with a searching glance, to see whether this
were invitation or command.
"Thou art my captive," said Eleanor softly, coming towards him with a
young matron's caressing manner to a boy whom she would win and
"Not captive, but guest," said Edward; but Richard perceived in the
tones that no choice was left him, as far as these two days were
CHAPTER III--ALTON LODGE
"Ever were his sons hawtayn,
And bold for their vilanye;
Bothe to knight and sweyn
Did they vilanye."
Old Ballad of Simon de Montforte.
For the first time for many a month, Richard de Montfort lay down to
sleep in a pallet bed, instead of a couch of heather; but his heart
was ill at ease. He was the fourth son of the great Earl of
Leicester, Simon de Montfort; and for the earlier years of his life,
he had been under the careful training of the excellent chaplain,
Adam de Marisco, a pupil and disciple of the great Robert Grostete,
Bishop of Lincoln. His elder brothers had early left this wholesome
control; pushed forward by the sad circumstances that finally drove
their father to take up arms against the King, and strangers to the
noble temper that actuated him in his championship of the English
people, they became mere lawless rebels--fiercely profiting by his
elevation, not for the good of the people, but for their own
Richard had been still a mere boy under constant control, and being
intelligent, spirited, and docile, had been an especial favourite
with his father. To him the great Earl had been the model of all
that was admirable, wise, and noble; deeply religious, just, and
charitable, and perfect in all the arts of chivalry and
accomplishments of peace--a tender and indulgent father, and a firm
and wise head of a household--he had been ardently loved and looked
up to by the young son, who had perhaps more in common with him by
nature than any other of the family.
Wrongs and injuries had been heaped upon Montfort by the weak and
fickle King, who would far better have understood him, if, like the
selfish kinsmen who encircled the throne, he had struggled for his
own advantage, and not for the maintenance of the Great Charter.
Richard was too young to remember the early days when his elder
brothers had been companions, almost on equal terms, to their first
cousins, the King's sons; his whole impression of his parents'
relations with the court was of injustice and perfidy from the King
and his counsellors, vehemently blamed by his mother and brothers,
but sometimes palliated by his father, who almost always, even at the
worst, pleaded the King's helplessness, and Prince Edward's
honourable intentions. Understanding little of the rights of the
case, Richard only saw his father as the maintainer of the laws, and
defender of the oppressed against covenant breakers; and when the
appeal to arms was at length made, he saw the white cross assumed by
his father and brothers, in full belief that the war in defence of
Magna Carta was indeed as sacred as a crusade, and he had earnestly
entreated to be allowed to bear arms; but he had been deemed as yet
too young, and thus had had no share in the victory of Lewes, save
the full triumph in it that was felt by all at Kenilworth.
Afterwards, when sent to be Prince Edward's page at Hereford, he was
prepared to regard his royal cousin as a ferocious enemy, and was
much taken by surprise to find him a graceful courtly knight,
peculiarly gentle in manner, loving music, romances, and all
chivalrous accomplishments; and far from the pride and haughtiness
that had been the theme of all the vassals who assembled at
Kenilworth, he was gracious to all, and distinguished his young page
by treating him as a kinsman and favourite companion; showing him
indeed far more consideration than ever he had received from his
unruly turbulent brothers.
When Edward had effected his escape, and had joined the Mortimers and
Clares, Richard had gone home, where his expressions of affection for
the Prince were listened to by his father, indeed, with a well-
pleased though melancholy smile, and an augury that one day his brave
godson would shake off the old King's evil counsellors, and show
himself in his true and noble colouring. His brothers, however,
laughed and chid any word about the Prince's kindness. Edward's
flattery and seduction, they declared, had won the young De Clare
from their cause. And in vain did their father assure them that they
had lost the alliance of the house of Gloucester solely by their own
over-bearing injustice--a tyranny worse than had been exercised under
the name of the King.
With Henry of Winchester in their hands, however, theirs seemed the
loyal cause; and Richard had, by the influence of his elders, been
made ashamed of his regard for the Prince, and looked upon it as a
treacherous rebellion, when Edward mustered his forces, and fell upon
Leicester and his followers. His father had mournfully yielded to
the boy's entreaty to remain with him, instead of being sent away
with his mother and the younger ones for security: an honourable
death, said the Earl, might be better for him than an outlawed and
proscribed life. And thus Richard had heard his father's exclamation
on marking the well-ordered advance of the Royalists: "They have
learnt this style from me. Now, God have mercy on our souls, for our
bodies are the Prince's!"
And when Henry, his eldest son, spoke words of confidence, entreating
him not to despair, he had answered, "I do not, my son; but your
presumption, and the pride of thy brothers, have brought me to this
pass. I firmly believe I shall die for the cause of God and
Richard had shared his father's last Communion, received his last
blessing, and had stood beside him in the desperate ring, which in
true English fashion died on the field of battle, but never was
driven from it. Since that time, the boy's life had been a wandering
amid outlaws and peasants--all in one mind of bitter hatred to the
court for its cruel vexations and oppressions, and of intense love
and regret for their champion, Sir Simon the Righteous, of whose
beneficence tales were everywhere told, rising at every step into
greater wonder, until at length they were enhanced into miracles,
wrought by his severed head and hands. Each day had made the boy
prouder of his father's memory, more deeply incensed against the
Court party that had brought about his fall; and keen and bitter were
his feelings at finding himself in the hands of the Prince himself.
He chafed all the more at feeling the ascendency which Edward's lofty
demeanour and personal kindness had formerly exerted over him,
reviving again by force of habit; he hated himself for not having at
once challenged his father's murderer; so as, if he could not do
more, to have died by his hand; and he despised himself the more, for
knowing that all he could have said would have been good-naturedly
put down by the Prince; all he could have done would have been but
like a gnat's efforts against that mighty strength. Then how
despicable it was to be sensible, in spite of himself, that this
atmosphere of courtly refinement was far more natural to him--the son
of a Provencal noble, and of a princess mother--than the rude forest
life he had lately led. The greenwood liberty had its charms; and he
had truly loved Adam de Gourdon; but the soft tones and refined
accents were like a note of home to him; and though he had never seen
the Princess before--she having been sent to the Court of St. Louis
during the troubles--yet the whole of the interview gave him an
inexplicable sense of being again among kindred and friends. He told
himself that it was base, resolved that he would show himself
determined to cast in his lot with his exiled brethren, and made up
his mind to maintain a dignified silence during these two days, and
at the end of them to leave with the Prince a challenge, to be fought
out when he should have attained manly strength and skill in arms.
In pursuance of this resolution, he appeared at the morning mass and
meal still grave and silent, and especially avoiding young Hamlyn de
Valence, who, as the son of one of the half brothers of Henry III.,
stood in the same relationship to Prince Edward and to Richard, whose
mother was the sister of King Henry. Probably Hamlyn had had a hint
from the Prince, for though he regarded young Montfort with no
friendly eyes, he yielded him an equality of precedence, which hardly
consorted with Richard's rude forest garments.
The chase was the order of the day. The Prince rode forth with a
boar spear to hunt one of these monsters of the wood, of which vague
reports had reached him, unconfirmed, till Adam de Gourdon had
undertaken to show him the creature's lair. He had proposed to
Richard to join the hunt; but the boy, firm to his resolution of
accepting no favour from him, that could be helped, had refused as
curtly as he could; and then, not without a feeling of
disappointment, had stood holding Leonillo in, as the gallant train
of hunters rode down the woodland glade, and he figured to himself
the brave sport in which they would soon be engaged.
The most part of the day was spent by him in lying under a tree, with
his dog by his side, thinking over the scenes of his earlier life,
which had passed by his childish mind like those of a drama, in which
he had no part nor comprehension, but which now, with clearer
perceptions, he strove to recall and explain to himself. Ever his
father's stately figure was the centre of his recollections, whether
receiving tidings of infractions of engagements, taking prompt
measures for action, or striving to repress the violence of his sons
and partizans, or it might be gazing on his younger boys with sad
anxiety. Richard well remembered his saying, when he heard that his
sons, Simon and Guy, had been plundering the merchant ships in the
Channel: "Alas! alas! when I was more loyal to the law than to the
Crown, I little deemed that I was rearing a brood who would scorn all
law and loyalty!"
And well too did Richard recollect that when the proposal had been
made that he should become the attendant of the Prince at Hereford,
his father had told him that here he would see the mirror of all that
was knightly and virtuous; and had added, on the loud outcry of the
more prejudiced brothers: "It is only the truth. Were it not that
the King's folly and his perjured counsellors had come between my
nephew Edward and his better self, we should have in him a sovereign
who might fitly be reckoned as a tenth worthy. It is his very duty
to a misruled father that has ranged him against us."
"Yet," thought Richard, "on the man who thus thought and spoke of him
the Prince could make savage warfare; nay, offer his senseless corpse
foul despite. How can I tarry these two days in such keeping? I had
rather--if he will still keep me--be a captive in his lowest dungeon,
than eat of his bread as a guest! By our Lady, I will tell him so to
his face! I will none of his favours! Alone I will go to the coast-
-alone make my way to Simon and Guy, with no letters to the French
king! All kings, however saintly they may be called, are in league,
and make common cause; as said my poor brother Henry, when the Mise
of Lewes was to be laid before this Frenchman! I will none of them!
Pshaw! is this the Princess coming? I trust she will not see me. I
want none of her fair words."
He had prepared himself to be ungracious; but his courtly breeding
was too much of an instinct with him for him not to rise, doff his
cap, and stand aside, as Eleanor of Castille slowly moved towards the
woodland path, with her graceful Spanish step, followed, but at some
distance, by two of her women. She turned as she was passing him,
and smiled with a sweet radiance that would have won him instantly,
had he not heard his elder brothers sneer at the cheap coin of royal
smiles. He only bowed; but Leonillo was more accessible, and started
forward to pay his homage of dignified blandishments to the queenly
sweetness that pleased his canine appreciation. Richard was forced
to step forth, call him in, and make his excuses; but the Princess
responded by praises of the noble animal, and caresses, to which
Leonillo replied with a grand gratitude, that showed him as nobly
bred as his young master.
"Thou art a gallant creature," said Eleanor, her hand upon the proud
head; "and no doubt as faithful as beautiful!"
"Faithful to the death, Lady," replied Richard warmly.
"He is thine own, I trow," said the Princess,--"not thy groom's? I
remember, that when thy brave father brought my lord and me back from
our bridal at Burgos, he procured two hounds in the Pyrenees, of
meseems, such a breed."
"True, Lady; they were the parents of my Leonillo," said Richard,
gratified, in spite of himself.
"How well I remember," continued Eleanor, "that first sight of the
great Earl. My brothers had teased me for going so far north, and
told me the English were mere rude islanders--boorish, and
unlettered; but, child as I was, scarce eleven years old, I could
perceive the nobleness of the Earl. 'If all thy new subjects be like
him,' said my brother to me, 'thou wilt reign over a race of kings.'
And how good he was to me when I wept at leaving my home and friends!
How he framed his tongue to speak my own Castillian to me; how he
comforted me, when the Queen, my mother-in-law, required more dignity
of me than I yet knew how to assume; and how he chid my boy
bridegroom for showing scant regard for his girl bride!" said
Eleanor, smiling at the recollection, as the beloved wife of eleven
years could well afford to do. "I mind me well that he found me
weeping, because my Edward had tied the scarf I gave him on the neck
of one of those very dogs, and the fatherly counsel he gave me. Ah,
Leonillo, thy wise wistful face brings back many thoughts to my mind!
I am glad I may honour thee for fidelity!"
"Indeed you may, Lady," said Richard. "It was he that above all
saved my life."
"Prithee let me hear," said the Princess, who had already so moved
on, while herself speaking, as to draw Richard into walking with her
along the path that had been cleared under the beech trees. "We have
so much longed to know thy fate."
"I cannot tell you much, Lady," returned Richard. "The last thing I
recollect on that dreadful day was, that my father asked for quarter-
-for us--for my brother Henry and me. We heard the reply: 'No
quarter for traitors!' and Henry fell before us a dead man. My
father shouted, 'By the arm of St. James, it is time for me to die!'
I saw him, with his sword in both hands, cut down a wild Welshman who
was rushing on me. Then I saw no more, till in the moonlight I was
awakened by this dog's cool tongue licking the blood from my face,
and heard his low whining over me."
"Good dog, good dog!" murmured Eleanor, caressing the animal. "And
thou, Richard, thou wert sorely wounded?"
"Sorely," said Richard; "my side had been pierced with a lance, a
Welsh two-handed sword had broken through my helmet, and well-nigh
cleft my skull; and the men-at-arms, riding over me I suppose, must
have broken my leg, for I could not move: and oh! I felt it hard
that I had yet to die. Then, Lady, came lights and murmuring voices.
They were Mortimer's plundering Welsh robbers. I heard their wild
gibbering tongue; and I knew how it would be with me, should they see
the white cross on my breast. But, Lady, Leonillo stood over me.
His lion bark chased them aside; and when one bolder than the rest
came near the mound where we lay, good Leonillo flew at his savage
throat. I heard the struggle as I lay--the growls of the dog, the
howls of the man; and then they were cut short. And next I heard de
Gourdon's gruff voice commending the good hound, whose note had led
him to the spot, from the woods, where he was hiding after the
battle. The faithful beast sprang from him, and in a moment more had
led him to me. Then--ah, then, Lady! when Adam had freed me from my
broken helm, and lifted me in his arms, what a sight had I! Oh, what
a field that harvest moon shone upon! how thickly heaped was that
little mound! And there was my father's face up-turned in the white
moonlight! O Lady, never in hall or bower could it have been so
peaceful, or so majestic! I bade Adam lay me down by his side, and
keep guard through the night with Leonillo; but he said that the
plunderers would come in numbers too great for him, and that he must
care for the living rather than the dead; and withstand him as I
would, he bore me away. O Lady, Lady, foul wrong was done when we
"Think not on that," said Eleanor; "it bitterly grieved my lord that
so it should have been. Thou knowest, I hope, that he was the chief
mourner when those honoured limbs were laid in the holy ground at
Evesham Abbey. They told me, who saw him that day, that his weeping
for his godfather and his Cousin Henry overcame all joy in his
victory. And I can assure thee, dear Richard, that when, three
months after, I came to him at Canterbury, just after he had been
with thy mother at Dover, even then he was sad and mournful. He said
that the wisest and best baron in England had been made a rebel of,
and then slain; and he was full of sorrow for thee, only then
understanding from thy mother that thou hadst been in the battle at
all, and that nothing had been heard of thee. He said thou wert the
most like to thy father of all his sons; and truly I knew thee at
once by thine eyes, Richard. Where wast thou all these months?"
"At first," said Richard, "I was in an anchoret's cell, in the wall
of a church. So please you, Madame, I must not name names; but when
Adam, bearing me faint and well-nigh dying on his back, saw the
twinkling light in the churchyard, he knocked, and entreated aid.
The good anchoret pitied my need at first, and when he learnt my
name, he gave me shelter for my father's sake, the friend of all
religious men. I lay on his little bed, in the chamber in the wall,
till I could again walk. Meanwhile, Adam watched in the woods at
hand, and from time to time came at night to see how I fared, and
bring me tidings. Simon was still holding out Kenilworth, and we
hoped to join him there; but when we set forth I was still lame, and
too feeble to go far in a day; and we fell in with--within short,
with a band of robbers, who detained us, half as guests, half as
captives. They needed Adam's stout arm; and there was a shrewd,
gray, tough old fellow, who had been in Robin Hood's band, and was
looked up to as a sort of prince among them, who was bent on making
us one with them. Lady, you would smile to hear how the old man used
to sit by me as I lay on the rushes, and talk of outlawry, as Father
Adam de Marisco used to talk of learning--as a good and noble
science, decaying for want of spirit and valour in these days. It
was all laziness, he said; barons and princes must needs have their
wars, and use up all the stout men that were fit to bend a bow in a
thicket. If the Prince went on at this rate, he said, there would
soon be not an honest outlaw to be found in England! But he was a
kind old man, and very good to me; and he taught me how to shoot with
the long bow better than ever our master at Odiham could. However, I
could not brook the spoiler's life, and the band did not trust me;
so, as we found that Kenilworth had fallen, as soon as my strength
had returned to me, we stole away from the outlaws, and came
southwards, hoping to find my mother at Odiham. Hearing that Odiham
too was gone from us, we have lurked in Alton Wood till means should
serve us for reaching the coast."
"Till thou hast found the friend who has longed for thee, and sought
for thee," replied Eleanor. "What didst thou do, young Richard, to
win my husband's heart so entirely in his captivity?"
"I know not, Lady, why he should take thought for me," bluntly said
Richard, with a return of the sensation of being coaxed and talked
"Methinks I can tell thee one cause," returned the Princess. "Was
there not a time when thou didst overhear him concerting with Thomas
de Clare the plan of an escape, and thou didst warn them that thou
wast at hand; ay, and yet didst send notice to thy father?"
"Yes," answered Richard with surprise; "I could do no other."
"Even so," said Eleanor. "And thus didst thou win the esteem of thy
kinsman. 'The stripling is loyal and trustworthy,' he has said to
me; 'pity that such a heart should be pierced in an inglorious field.
Would that I could find him, and strive to return to him something of
what his father's care hath wrought for me.' Richard, trust me, it
would be a real joy and lightening of his grief to have thee with
"Grief, Madame!" repeated Richard. "I little thought he grieved for
my father, who, but for him, would be--" and a sob checked him, as
the contrast rose before him of the great Earl and beautiful Countess
presiding over their large family and princely household, and the
scattered ruined state of all at present.
"He shall answer that question himself," said Eleanor. "See, here he
comes to meet us by the beechwood alley."
And in fact, a form, well suited to its setting within the stately
aisles of the beech trees, was pacing towards them. The chase had
ended, and hearing that his wife had walked forth into the wood, the
Prince had come by another path to meet her, and his rare and
beautiful smile shone out as he saw who was her companion. "Art
making friends with my young cousin?" he said affectionately.
"I would fain do so," replied Eleanor; "but alas, my Lord! he feels
that there is a long dark reckoning behind, that stands in the way of
Richard looked down, and did not speak. The Princess had put his
thought into words.
"Richard," said the Prince, "I feel the same. It is for that very
cause that I seek to have thee with me. Hear me. Thou art grown
older, and hast seen man's work and man's sorrows, since I left thee
on the hill-side at Hereford. Thou canst see, perchance, that a
question hath two sides--though it is not given to all men to do so.
Hearken then.--Thy father was the greatest man I have known--nay, but
for the thought of my uncle of France, I should say the holiest. He
was my teacher in all knightly doings, and in all kingly thoughts,
such as I pray may be with me through life. It was from him I learnt
that this royal, this noble power, is not given to exalt ourselves,
but as a trust for the welfare of others. It was the spring of
action that was with him through life."
"It was," murmured Richard, calling to mind many a saying of his
"And fain would he have impressed it on all around," added Edward:
"but there were others who deemed that kingly power was but a means
of enjoyment, and that restraint was an outrage on the crown. They
drew one way, the Earl drew the other, and, as his noble nature
prompted him, made common cause with the injured. It skills not to
go through the past. Those whom he joined had selfish aims, and
pushed him on; and as the crown had been led to invade the rights of
the vassals, so the vassals invaded my father's rights. Oaths were
extorted, though both sides knew they could never be observed; and
between violences, now on one side, now on the other, the right
course could scarce be kept. The Earl imagined that, with my father
in his hands, removed from all other influences, he could give
England the happy days they talk of her having enjoyed under my
patron St. Edward; but, as thou knowest, Richard, the authority he
held, being unlawful, was unregarded, and its worst transgressors
came out of his own bosom. He could not enforce the terms on which I
had yielded myself--he could not even prevent my father from being a
mere captive; and for the English folk, their miseries were but
multiplied by the tyrants who had arisen."
"It was no doing of his," said Richard, with cheek hotly glowing.
"None know that better than I," said the Prince; "but if he had
snatched the bridle from a feeble hand, it was only to find that the
steed could not be ruled by him. What was left for me but to break
my bonds, and deliver my father, in the hope that, being come to
man's estate, I might set matters on a surer footing? I had hoped--I
had greatly hoped, so to rule affairs, that the Earl might own that
his training had not been lost on his nephew, and that the Crown
might be trusted not to infringe the Charter. I had hoped that he
might yet be my wisest counsellor. But, Richard, I too had
supporters who outran my commands. Bitter hatred and malice had been
awakened, and cruel resolves that none should be spared. When I
returned from bearing my father, bleeding and dismayed, from the
battle, whither he had been cruelly led, it was to find that my
orders had been disobeyed--that there had been foul and cruel
slaughter; and that all my hopes that my uncle of Leicester would
forgive me and look friendly on me were ended!"
The Prince's lip trembled as he spoke, and tears glistened in his
eyes; and the evident struggle to repress his feelings, brought home
deeply and forcibly the conviction to Richard that his sorrow was
He could not speak for some seconds; then he added: "I marvel not
that I am looked on among you as guilty of his blood. Simon and Guy
regard me as one with whom they are at deadly feud, and cannot
understand that it was their own excesses that armed those merciless
hands against him. Even my aunt shrank from me, and implored my
mercy as though I were a ruthless tyrant. But thou, Richard, thou
hast inherited enough of thy father's mind to be able to understand
how unwillingly was my share in his fall, and how great would be my
comfort and joy in being good kinsman to one of his sons."
The strong man's generous pleading was most touching. Richard bowed
his head; the Princess watched him eagerly. The boy spoke at last in
perplexity. "My Lord, you know better than I. Would it be knightly,
would it be honourable?"
The Princess started in some indignation at such a question to her
husband; but Edward understood the boy better, and said, "That which
is most Christian is most knightly." Then pausing: "Ask thine
heart, Richard; which would thy father choose for thee--to live in
such guidance as I hope will ever be found in my household, or to
share the wandering, I fear me freebooting, life of thy brothers?"
Richard could not forget how his father had sternly withheld him from
going with Simon to besiege Pevensey. He knew that these two
brethren had long been a pain and grief to his father; and began to
understand that the nephew, with whom the Earl's last battle had been
fought, was nevertheless his truest pupil.
"Thou wilt remain," said Edward decisively; "and let us strive one
day to bring to pass the state of things for which thy father and I
fought alike, though, alas! in opposite ranks."
"If my mother consents," said Richard, his head bent down, and
uttering the words with the more difficulty, because he felt so
strongly drawn towards his cousin, who never seemed so mighty as in
"Then, Richard de Montfort," said Edward gravely, "let us render to
one another the kiss of peace, as kinsmen who have put away all
thought of wrong between them."
Richard looked up; and the Prince bending his lofty head, there was
exchanged between them that solemn embrace, which in the early middle
ages was the deepest token of amity.
And with that kiss, it was as though the soul of Richard de Montfort
were knit to the soul of Edward of England with the heart-whole
devotion, composed of affection and loyal homage to a great
character, which ever since the days of the bond between the son of
the doomed King of Israel and the youthful slayer of the Philistine
champion, has been one of the noblest passions of a young heart.
CHAPTER IV--THE TRANSLATION
"Now in gems their relics lie,
And their names in blazonry,
And their forms in storied panes
Gleam athwart their own loved fanes."
If novelty has its charms, so has old age, and to us the great abbey
church of Westminster has become doubly beloved by long generations
of affection, and doubly beautiful by the softening handiwork of time
and of smoke.
Yet what a glorious sight must it not have been when it was fresh
from the hands of the builder, the creamy stone clear and sharp at
every angle, and each moulding and flower true and perfect as the
chisel had newly left it. The deep archway of the west front opened
in stately magnificence, and yet with a light loftiness hitherto
unknown in England, and somewhat approaching to the style in which
the great French cathedrals were then rising. And its accompaniments
were, on the one hand the palace and hall, on the other hand the
monastery, with its high walled courts and deep-browed cloisters, its
noble refectory and vaulted kitchen, the herbarium or garden, shady
with trees, and enriched with curious plants of Palestine, sloping
down to the broad and majestic Thames, pure and blue as he pursued
his silver winding way through emerald meadows and softly rising
hills clothed with copses and woods. To the east, seated upon her
hills, stood the crowned and battlemented city, the massive White
Tower rising above the fortifications.
The autumn brilliance of October, 1269, never enlightened a more
gorgeous scene than when it shone upon the ceremony still noted in
our Calendar as the Translation of King Edward. Buried at first in
his own low-browed heavy-arched Norman structure, which he had built,
as he believed, at the express bidding of St. Peter; the Confessor,
whose tender-hearted and devout nature had, by force of contrast with
those of his fierce foreign successors, come to assume a saintly halo
in the eyes not merely of the English, but of their Angevin lords
themselves, was, now to reign on almost equal terms with the great
Apostle himself, as one of the hallowing patrons of the Abbey--nay,
since at least his relics were entire and undoubted, as its chief
The new chapel in his especial honour, behind the exquisite bayed
apsidal chancel, was at length complete; and on this day he was to
take possession of it. An ark of pure gold, chased and ornamented
with the surpassing grace of that period of perfect taste, had
received the royally robed corpse, which Churchmen averred lay calm
and beautiful, untainted by decay; and this was now uplifted by the
arms of King Henry himself, of Richard King of the Romans his
brother, and of the two princes, Edward and Edmund.
It was a striking sight to see those two pairs of brothers. The two
kings, nearly of an age, and so fondly attached that they could
hardly brook a separation, till the death of the one broke the
wearied heart of the other, were both gray-haired prematurely-aged
men, of features that time instead of hardening had rendered more
feeble and uncertain. Their faces were much alike, but Henry might
be known from Richard by a certain inequality in the outline of his
eyebrows; and their dress, though both alike wore long flowing gowns,
the side seams only coming down as far as the thigh so as to allow
play for the limbs, so far differed that Henry's was of blue, with
the English lions embroidered in red and gold on his breast, and
Richard was in the imperial purple, or rather scarlet, and the eagle
of the empire on his breast testified to the futile election which he
had purchased with the wealth of his Cornish mines. Both the elders
together, with all their best will and their simple faith in the
availing merit of the action they were performing, would have been
physically incapable of proceeding many steps with their burden, but
for the support it received from the two younger men who sustained
the feet of the saint, using some dexterity in adapting their
strength so that the coffin might be carried evenly.
One was the hunter we have already seen in Alton Wood. His features
wore their characteristic stamp of deep awe and enthusiasm, and even
as he slowly and calmly moved, sustaining the chief of the weight
with scarcely an effort of his giant strength, his head towering high
above all those around, his eyes might be observed to be seeing,
though not marking, what was before them, but to be fixed as though
the soul were in contemplation, far far away. He did not see in the
present scene four princes rendering homage to a royal saint, who,
from personal connection and by a brilliant display of devotion,
might be propitiated into becoming a valuable patron amid
intercessor; still less did it present itself to him as a pageant in
which he was to bow his splendid powers, mental and bodily, to aid
two feeble-minded old men to totter under the gold-cased corpse of a
still more foolish and mischievous prince, dead two hundred years
back. No, rather thought and eye were alike upon the great invisible
world, the echo of whose chants might perchance be ringing on his
ear; that world where holy kings cast their crowns before the Throne,
and where the lamb-like spirit of the Confessor might be joining in
the praise, and offering these tokens of honour to Him to whom all
honour and praise and glory and blessing are due.
Of shorter stature, darker browed, of less regular feature and less
clear complexion, so as to look as if he were the elder of the
brothers, Prince Edmund moved by his side, using much exertion, and
bending with the effort, so as to increase the slight sloop that had
led to his historical nickname of the Crouchback, though some think
this was merely taken from his crusading cross. He bore the arms of
Sicily, to which he had not yet resigned his claim. His eye
wandered, but not far away, like that of his brother. It was in
search of his young betrothed, the Lady Aveline of Lancaster, the
fair young heiress to whom he was to owe the great earldom that was a
fair portion for a younger brother even of royalty.
All the four were bare-footed, and both princes were in robes much
resembling that of their father, except that upon the left shoulder
of each might be seen, in white cloth, the two lines of the Cross,
that marked them as pilgrims and Crusaders, already on the eve of
departure for the Holy Land.
The shrine where the golden coffin was to rest is substantially the
same in our own day, with its triple-cusped arches below, the stage
of six and stage of four above them, and the twisted columns in
imitation of that which was supposed to have come from the Beautiful
Gate of the Temple. But at that time it was a glittering fabric of
mosaic work, in gold, lapis-lazuli, and precious stones, aided here
and there by fragments of coloured glass, the only part of the costly
workmanship that has come down to us. Around this shrine the
preceding members of the procession had taken their places.
Archbishop Boniface of Savoy was there, old age ennobling a
countenance that once had been light and frivolous, and all his
bishops in the splendour of their richest copes, solidly embroidered
with absolute scenes and portraits in embroidery, with tall mitres
worked with gold wire and jewels, and crosiers of beauteous
workmanship in gold, ivory, and enamel. Mitred abbots, no less
glorious in array, stood in another rank; the scarlet-mantled Grand
Prior of the Hospital, and the white-cloaked Templar, made a link
between the ecclesiastic and the warrior. Priests and monks,
selected for their voices' sake, clustered in every available space;
and, in full radiance, on a stage on the further side, were seated
the ladies of the court, mostly with their hair uncovered, and
surrounded by a garland of precious stones. Queen Eleanor of
Provence, still bent on youthfulness, looked somewhat haggard in this
garb; but it well became Beatrix von Falkmorite, the young German
girl whom Richard King of the Romans had wedded in his old age for
the sake of her fair face. Smiling, plump, and rosy, she sat opening
her wide blue eyes, wearing her emerald and ruby wreath as though it
had been a coronal of daisies, and gazing with childish whisperings
as she watched the movements of her king, and clung for direction and
help in her own part of the pageant to the Princess Eleanor, who sat
beside her, little the elder in years, less beautiful in colouring,
but how far surpassing her in queenly pensive grace and dignity!
Leaning on Eleanor's lap was a bright-eyed, bright-haired boy of four
years old, watching with puzzled looks the brilliant ceremony, which
he only half understood, and his glances wandering between his father
and the blue and white robed little acolytes who stood nearest to the
shrine, holding by chains the silver censers, which from time to time
sent forth a fragrant vapour, curling round the heads of the nearest
figures, and floating away in the lofty vaultings of the roof.
The actual ceremony could only be beheld by a favoured few; the
official clergy, the many connections of royalty, and the chief
nobility, filled the church to overflowing, but the rest of the world
repaid itself by making a magnificent holiday. Good-natured King
Henry had been permitted by his son, who had now, though behind the
scenes, assumed the reins of government, to spend freely, and make a
feast to his heart's content. Roasting and boiling were going on on
a fast and furious scale, not only in the palace and abbey, but in
booths erected in the fields; and tables were spreading and rushes
strewing for the accommodation of all ranks. Near the entrance of
the Abbey, the trains of the personages within awaited their coming
forth in some sort of order, the more reverent listening to the
sounds from within, and bending or crossing themselves as the
familiar words of higher notes of praise rose loud enough to reach
their ears; but for the most part, the tones and gestures were as
various as the appearance of the attendants. Here were black
Benedictines, there white Augustinians clustered round the sleek
mules of their abbots; there scornful dark Templars, in their black
and white, sowed the seeds of hatred against their order, and scarlet
Hospitaliers looked bright and friendly even while repelling the
jostling of the crowd. A hoary old squire, who had been with the
King through all his troubles, kept together his immediate
attendants; a party of boorish-looking Germans waited for Richard of
Cornwall; and the slender, richly-caparisoned palfreys of the ladies
were in charge of high-born pages, who sometimes, with means fair or
foul, pushed back the throng, sometimes themselves became enamoured
of its humours.
For not only had the neighbouring city of London poured forth her
merchants and artizans, to gaze, wonder, and censure the
extravagance--not only had beggars of every degree been attracted by
the largesse that Henry delighted to dispense, and peasants had
poured in from all the villages around, but no sort of entertainment
was lacking. Here were minstrels and story-tellers gathering groups
around them; here was the mountebank, clearing a stage in which to
perform feats of jugglery, tossing from one hand to another a never-
ending circle of balls, balancing a lance upon his nose, with a
popinjay on its point; here were a bevy of girls with strange
garments fastened to their ankles, who would dance on their hands
instead of their feet, while their uplifted toes jangled little
Peasant and beggar, citizen and performer, sightseer and
professional, all alike strove to get into the space before the great
entrance, where the procession must come forth to gratify the eyes of
the gazers, and mayhap shower down such bounty as the elder
mendicants averred had been given when Prince Edward (the saints
defend him!) had been weighed at five years old, and, to avert ill
luck, the counterbalance of pure gold had been thrown among the poor
to purchase their prayers.
His weight in gold at his present stature could hardly be expected by
the wildest imaginations, but hungry eyes had been estimating the
weight of his little heir, and discontented lips had declared that
the child was of too slender make to be ever worth so much to them as
his father. Yet a whisper of the possibility had quickly been
magnified to a certainty of such a largesse, and the multitude were
thus stimulated to furious exertions to win the most favourable spot
for gathering up such a golden rain as even little Prince Henry's
counterpoise would afford; and ever as time waxed later, the throng
grew denser and more unruly, and the struggle fiercer and more
The screams and expostulations of the weak, elbowed and trampled
down, mingled with more festive sounds; and the attendants who waited
on the river in the large and beautifully-ornamented barges which
were the usual conveyances of distinguished personages, began to
agree with one another that if they saw less than if they were on the
bank, they escaped a considerable amount of discomfort as well as
"For," murmured one of the pages, "I suppose it would be a dire
offence to the Prince to lay about among the churls as they deserve."
"Ay, truly, among Londoners above all," was the answer of his
companion, whom the last four years had rendered considerably taller
than when we saw him last.
"Not that there is much love lost between them. He hath never
forgotten the day when they pelted the Queen with rotten eggs, and
sang their ribald songs; nor they the day he rode them down at Lewes
like corn before the reaper."
"And lost the day," muttered the other page; then added, "The less
love, the more cause for caution."
"Oh yes, we know you are politic, Master Richard," was the sneering
reply, "but you need not fear my quarrelling with your citizen
friends. I would not be the man to face Prince Edward if I had made
too free with any of the caitiffs."
"Hark! Master Hamlyn, the tumult is louder than ever," interposed an
elderly man of lower rank, who was in charge of the stout rowers in
the royal colours of red and gold. "Young gentlemen, the Mass must
be ended; it were better to draw to the stairs, than to talk of you
know not what," he muttered.
Hamlyn de Valence, who held the rudder, steered towards the wide
stone steps that descended to the river, nearest to the apse in which
"St. Peter's Abbey Church" terminated before Henry VII. had added his
chapel. At that moment a louder burst of sound, half imprecation,
half shriek, was heard; there was a heavy splash a little way above,
and a small blue bundle was seen on the river, apparently totally
unheeded by the frantic crowd on the bank. No sooner was it seen by
Richard, however, than he threw back his mantle and sprang out of the
barge. There was a loud cry from the third page, a little fellow of
nine or ten years old; but Richard gallantly swam out, battled with
the current, and succeeded in laying hold of a young child, with whom
he made for the barge, partly aided by the stream; but he was
breathless, and heartily glad to reach the boat and support himself
against the gunwale.
"A pretty boat companion you!" said Hamlyn maliciously. "How are we
to take you in, over the velvet cushions?"
The little page gave an expostulating cry.
"Hold the child an instant, John," gasped Richard, raising it towards
his younger friend; "I will but recover breath, and then land and
seek out her friends."
"How is this?" said a voice above them; and looking up, they found
that while all had been absorbed in the rescue, the Prince, with his
little son in his arms and his wife hanging on his arm, had come to
the stone stairs, and was looking down. "Richard overboard!"
"A child fell over the bank, my Lord," eagerly shouted the little
John, with cap in hand, "and he swam out to pick it up."
"Into the barge instantly, Richard," commanded the Prince. "'Tis as
much as his life is worth to remain in this cold stream!"
And truly Richard was beginning to feel as much. He was assisted in
by two of the oarsmen, and the barge then putting towards the steps,
the Princess was handed into her place, and began instantly to ask
after the poor child. It had not been long enough in the water to
lose its consciousness, though it had hitherto been too much
frightened to cry; but it no sooner opened a wide pair of dark eyes
to find itself in strange hands, than it set up a lamentable wail,
calling in broken accents for "Da-da."
"Let me take it ashore at once, gracious lady," said Richard, revived
by a draught of wine from the stores provided for the long day; "I
will find its friends."
"Nay," said the Princess, "it were frenzy to take it thus in its wet
garments; and frenzy to remain in thine, Richard." As she spoke, the
Prince and the other persons of the suite had embarked, and the barge
was pushing away from the steps. "Give the child to me," she added,
holding out her arms, and disregarding a remonstrance from one of her
ladies, disregarding too the sobs and struggles of the child, whom
she strove to soothe, while hastily removing the little thing's
soaked blue frock and hood, and wrapping it up in a warm woollen
cloak. "It is a pretty little maiden," she said, "and not ill cared
for. Some mother's heart must be bursting for her!-- Hush thee! hush
thee, little one; we will take thee home and clothe thee, and then
thou shalt go to thy mother," she added, in better English than she
had spoken four years earlier in Alton Wood. But the child still
cried for her da-da, and the Princess asked again, "What is thy
father's name, little maid?"
"Pere," she answered, with a peculiar accent that made the Prince
say, "That is a Provencal tongue."
"They are Provencal eyes likewise," added Eleanor. "See how like
their hue is to Richard's own;" and in Provencal she repeated the
question what the father's name and the child's own might be. But
"Pere" again, and "Bessee, pretty Bessee," was all the answer she
obtained, the last in unmistakable English.
"I thought," said Eleanor, "that it was only my own children that
scarce knew whether they spoke English, Languedoc, or Langued'oui."
"It was the same with us, Lady," said Richard. "Father Adam was wont
to say we were a little Babel."
The child looked towards him on hearing his voice, and held out her
hands to go to him, reiterating an entreaty to be taken to her
"She is probably the child of some minstrel or troubadour," said the
Prince. "We will send in search of him as soon as we have reached
The Savoy Palace had been built for Queen Eleanor's obnoxious uncle,
Prince Thomas of Savoy, and had recently been purchased by the Queen
herself, as a wedding gift for her son Edmund; but in the meantime
Edward and his family were occupying it during their stay near
Westminster, and their barge was brought up to the wide stairs of its
noble court. Richard was obliged to give up the child to the
Princess and her ladies, though she shrieked after him so
pertinaciously, that Eleanor called to him to return so soon as he
should have changed his garments.
In a few minutes he again appeared, and found the little girl dressed
in a little garment of one of the royal children, but totally
insensible to the honour, turning away from all the dainties offered
to her, and sobbing for her father, much to the indignation of the
two little princes, Henry and John, who stood hand in hand staring at
her. She flew to him directly, with a broken entreaty that she might
be taken to her father. Again they tried questioning her, but
Richard, whether speaking English or Provencal, always succeeded in
obtaining readier and more comprehensible replies than did the
Princess. Whether she recognized him as her preserver, or whether
his language had a familiar tone, she seemed exclusively attracted by
him; and he it was who learnt that she lived at home--far off--on the
Green near the red monks, and that her father could not see--he would
be lost without Bessee to lead him. And the little creature, hardly
three years old if so much, was evidently in the greatest trouble at
her father having lost her guidance and protection.
Richard, touched and flattered by the little maiden's exclusive
preference, and owning in her Provencal eyes and speech something
strangely like his own young sister Eleanor, entreated permission to
be himself the person to take her in search of her friends. The
Princess added her persuasions, declaring it would be cruel to send
the poor little thing with another stranger, and that his Provencal
tongue was needed in order to discovering her father among the
Edward yielded to her persuasion, adding, however, that Richard must
take two men-at-arms with him, and gravely bidding him be on his
guard. Nor would he permit him to be accompanied by little John de
Mohun, who, half page, half hostage, had lately been added to the
Princess's train, and being often bullied and teased by Hamlyn and
his fellows, had vehemently attached himself to Richard, and now
entreated in vain to go with him on the adventure. In fact, Prince
Edward was a stern disciplinarian, equally severe against either
familiarity or insolence towards the external world, and especially
towards any one connected with London. If Richard ever gave him any
offence, it was by a certain freedom of manner towards inferiors,
such as the Earl of Leicester had diligently inculcated on his
family, but which more than once had excited a shade of vexation on
the Prince's part. Even after Richard had reached the door, he was
called back and commanded on no pretext to loiter or enter on any
dispute, and if his search should detain him late, to sleep at the
Tower, rather than be questioned and stopped at any of the gates
which were guarded at night by the citizens.
CHAPTER V--THE OLD KNIGHT OF THE HOSPITAL
"The warriors of the sacred grave,
Who looked to Christ for laws."
Richard summoned a small boat, and with two stout men-at-arms, of
whom Adam de Gourdon was one, prepared again to cross the river.
Leonillo ran down the stone stairs with a wistful look of entreaty
and it occurred to both Richard and Adam, that, could the child only
lead them to the place where her father had sat, the dog's scent
might prove their most efficient guide.
Little Bessee seemed quite comforted when on her way back to her
father, and sat on Richard's knee, eating the comfits with which the
Princess had provided her, and making him cut a figure that seemed
somewhat to amaze the other boat-loads whom they encountered on the
When they landed, the throng was more dispersed, but revelry and
sports of all kinds were going on fast and furiously; each door of
the Abbey was besieged by hungry crowds receiving their dole, and
Richard's inquiries for a blind man who had lost his child were
little heeded, or met with no satisfactory answer. Bessee herself
was bewildered, and incapable of finding her father's late station;
and Richard was becoming perplexed, and doubtful whether he ought to
take her back, as well as somewhat put out of countenance by the
laughter of Thomas de Clare, and other young nobles, who rallied him
on his strange charge.
At last the little girl's face lightened as at sight of something
familiar. "Good red monks," she said. "They give Bessee soup--make
With a ray of hope, Richard advanced to a party of Brethren of St.
John, who were mounting at the Abbey gate to return to their house at
Spitalfields, and doffing his bonnet, intimated a desire to address
the tall old war-worn knight with a benevolent face, who was
adjusting his scarlet cloak, before mounting a gray Arab steed
looking as old and worthy as himself.
"Ha! a young Crusader, I perceive," was the greeting of the old
knight, as his eye fell on the white cross on Richard's mantle.
"Welcome, brother! Dost thou need counsel on thy goodly Eastern
"Thanks, reverend Sir," returned Richard, "but my present purpose was
to seek for the father of this little one, who fell into the river in
the press. She pointed to you, saying she had received your bounty."
"It is Blind Hal's child, Sir Robert!" exclaimed a serving-brother in
black, coming eagerly forward; "the villeins on the green told me the
poor knave was distraught at having lost his child in the throng!"
"What brought he her there for?" exclaimed Sir Robert. "Poor fool!
his wits must have forsaken him!"
"The child had a craving to see the show," replied the Brother, "so
Hob the cobbler told me; and all went well till my Lord of Pembroke's
retainers forced all right and left to make way in the crowd. Hal
was thrown down, and the child thrust away till they feared she had
fallen over the bank. Hob and his wife were fain to get the poor man
away, for his moans and fierce words were awful: and he was not a
little hurt in the scuffle, so I e'en gave them leave to lay him in
the cart that brought up your reverence's vestments, and the gear we
lent the Abbey for the show."
"Right, Brother Hilary," said Sir Robert; "and now the poor knave
will have his best healing.--He must have been a good soldier once,"
he added to Richard; "but he is a mere fragment of a man, wasted in
your Earl of Leicester's wars."
"Where dwells he?" asked Richard, keenly interested in all his
father's old followers; "I would fain restore him his child."
"In a hut on Bednall Green," answered the serving-brother; "but twice
or thrice a week he comes to the Spital to have his hurts looked to."
"Ay! we tell him his little witch must soon be shut out! She turns
the heads of all our brethren," said Sir Robert, smiling. "Wild work
she makes with our novices."
"Wilder with our Knights Commanders, maybe, Sir," retorted, laughing,
a fair open-faced youth in his novitiate. "I shall some day warn Hal
how our brethren, the Templars, are said to play at ball with tender
babes on their lances."
"No scandal about our brethren of the Temple, Rayland," said Sir
Robert, looking grave for a moment.--"Young Sir, it would be a favour
if you would ride with us; we would gladly show you the way to
"I should rejoice to go, Sir," returned Richard, "but I am of Prince
Edward's household--Richard Fowen; and my horse is on the other side
of the river."
"That is soon remedied," said Sir Robert, who seemed to have taken a
great fancy to Richard, either for the sake of his crossed shoulder,
or of his kindness to the little plaything of the Spital. "Our young
brother, Engelbert von Fuchstein, has leave to tarry this night with
his brother in the train of the King of the Romans, and his horse is
at your service, if you will do our poor Spital the favour to tarry
there this night, and ride it back in the morn to meet him at
Richard knew that this invitation might be safely accepted without
danger of giving umbrage to the Prince, who was on the best terms
with the Knights of the Hospital. He therefore dismissed Gourdon and
the other man-at-arms with a message explaining the matter; and
warmly thanking the old Grand Prior, laid one hand on the saddle of
the great ponderous beast that was led up to him, and vaulted on its
back without touching the stirrup.
"Well done, my young master," said Sir Robert, "it is easy to see you
are of the Prince's household."
"I cannot yet do as the Prince can," said Richard,--"take this leap
in full armour."
"No; and let me give you a bit of counsel, fair Sir. Such pastimes
are very well for the tiltyard, but they should be laid aside in the
blessed Land, and strength reserved for the one cause and purpose."
He crossed himself; and in the meantime, Bessee intimated her
imperious purpose of not riding before Brother Hilary, but being
perched before Richard on the enormous cream-coloured animal, whence
he was looking down from a considerable elevation upon Sir Robert on
his slender Arab.
"These are the German monsters that our brethren bring over," said
Sir Robert. "Mark me, young brother, cumber not yourself with these
beasts of Europe, which are good for nothing but food for foul birds
in the East. Purvey yourself of an Arab as soon as you land. There
is a rogue at Acre, one Ali by name, who will not cheat you more than
is reasonable, so you mention my name to him, Sir Robert Darcy, at
"Thanks, reverend Father," returned Richard, "but I am but a landless
page, and the Prince mounts me. Said you this poor man had been
wounded in the late wars?"
"Ay, hacked and hewed worse than by the Infidels themselves! Woeful
it is that here, at home, men's blood should be wasted on your own
petty feuds. This same Barons' war now hath cost as much downright
courage as would have brought us back to Jerusalem, and all thrown
away, without a cause, with no honour, no hope."
"Not without a cause," Richard could not help saying.
"Nay," said the old knight; "no cause is worth the taking of a life,
save the cause of the Holy Sepulchre. What be these matters of taxes
and laws to ask a man to shed his blood for? Alack, the temper of
the cross-bearer is dying out! I pray I may not see this Crusade end
like half those I have beheld--and the cross on the shoulder become
no better than a mockery."
"That may scarcely be with such leaders as the Prince and the King of
France," said Richard.
"Well, well, the Prince is untried; and for King Louis, he is as holy
a man as ever lived since King Godfrey of blessed memory, but he has
bad luck, ever bad luck. The Saints forefend, but I trow he will
listen to some crazy counsel from Rome, belike, or some barefooted
hermit--very holy, no doubt, but who does not know a Greek from a
Saracen, or a horse's head from his tail--and will go to some
pestilential hole like that foul Egyptian swamp, where we stayed till
our skin was the colour of an old boot, in hopes of converting the
Sultan of Babylon, or the Old Man of the Mountain, or what not, and
there he will stay till the flower of his forces have wasted away."
"Were you in Egypt with King Louis?" eagerly exclaimed Richard.
"Ay, marry, was I, and a goodly land it is; but I saw many a good
man-at-arms perish miserably in a marsh, who might have been the
saving of the Holy City. Why, I myself have never been the same man
since! Never could do a month's service out of the infirmary at
Acre, though after all there's no work I like so well as the hospital
business, and for the last five years I have had to stay here
training young brethren! Oh, young man! I envy you your first
stroke for the Holy Sepulchre! Would that the Grand-Master would
hear my entreaty. I am too old to be worth sparing, and I would fain
have one more chance of dying under the banner of the Order!--But I
am setting you a bad example, son Raynal; a Hospitalier has no will.-
-And look you, young Sir Page, if you stay out at sunset in that
clime, 'tis all up with you. And you should veil your helmet well,
or the sun smites on your head as deadly as a flake of Greek fire."
So rambled on good old Sir Robert Darcy, Grand Prior of England, a
perfect dragon among the Saracens, but everywhere else the mildest
and most benevolent of men; his discourse strangely mingling together
the deepest enthusiasm with a business-like common-sense appreciation
of ways and means, and with minute directions, precautions, and
anecdotes, gathered from his practical experience both as captain in
the field, priest in the Church, and surgeon in the hospital, and all
seen from the most sunshiny point of view.
Meanwhile, they were riding along the Strand, a beautiful open road,
with grassy borders shelving down to the Thames. They passed through
the City of London. The Hospital lay beyond the walls, but the
Marshes of Moorfields that protected them were not passable without a
long circuit; and the fortified gates stood open at Temple Bar, where
the Hospitaliers, looking towards the Round Church and stately
buildings of the Preceptory, saluted the white-cloaked figures moving
about it, with courtesy grim and distant in all but Sir Robert Darcy,
who could not even hate a Templar, a creature to the ordinary
Hospitalier far more detestable than a Saracen. On then, up ground
beginning to rise, below which the little muddy stream called the
Flete stagnated along its way, meandering to the Thames. Thatched
hovels and wooden booths left so narrow a passage that the horsemen
were forced to move in single file, and did not gain a clearer space
even when the stone houses of merchants began to stand thick on
Ludgate Hill, their carved wooden balconies so projecting, that it
would seem to have been an object with the citizens to be able to
shake hands across the street. The city was comparatively empty and
quiet, as all the world were keeping holiday at Westminster; but even
as it was, the passengers seemed to swarm in the streets, and knots
of persons who had been unable to witness the spectacle, sat with
gazing children upon the stairs outside the houses, to admire the
fragments of the pageant that came their way. Acclamations of
delight greeted the appearance of the scarlet-mantled Hospitaliers,
such as Richard had often heard in his boyhood, when riding in his
father's train, but far less frequently since he had been a part of
the Prince's retinue. And equally diverse was the merry nod and
smile of Sir Robert to each gaping shouting group of little ones,
from the stately distant courtesy with which Edward returned the
popular salutations. He could be gracious--he could not be friendly
except to a few.
They passed the capitular buildings of St. Paul's, with the beautiful
cathedral towering over them, and in its rear, numerous booths for
the purchase of rosaries--recent inventions then of St. Dominic, the
great friend of Richard's stern grandfather, the persecutor of the
Albigenses. Sir Robert drew up, and declared he must buy one for the
little maid as a remembrance of the day, and then found she was fast
asleep; but he nevertheless purchased a black-beaded chaplet, giving
for it one of the sorely-clipped coins of King Henry.
"Prithee let me have one likewise, holy Sir," quoth Richard, "in
memory of the talk that hath taught me so much of the import of my
"Thou shalt bring me for it one of the olive of Bethlehem," said Sir
Robert; "I have given away all I brought from the East. They are so
great a boon to our poor sick folk that I wish I had brought twice as
many, but to me they have always a Saracen look. Your Moslem always
fingers one much of the same fashion as he parleys."
Ludgate, freshly built, and adorned with new figures to represent the
fabulous King Lud, was not yet closed for the night; and the party
came forth beyond the walls, with the desolate Moorfields to their
left, and before them a number of rising villages clustered round
The Hospital, a grand fortified monastery, was already to be seen
over the fields; but Sir Robert, sending home the rest of his troop,
turned aside with Richard and Brother Hilary towards the common, with
a border of cottages around it, which went by the name of Bednall
Brother Hilary knew the hut inhabited by Blind Hal, and led the way
to it. Low and mud-built, thatched, and with a wattled door, it had
a wretched appearance; but the old woman who came to the door was not
ill clad. "Blessings on you, holy Father!" she cried; "do I see the
child, my lamb, my lady-bird! Would that she may come in time to
cheer her poor father!"
"How is it with him then, Gammer?" demanded Sir Robert, springing to
the ground with the alacrity of a doctor anxious about his patient.
"Ill, very ill, Sir. Whether the horse's feet hurt his old wound, or
whether it be the loss of the child, he hath done nought but moan and
rave, and lie as one dead ever since they brought him home. He is
lying in one of the dead swoons now! It were not well that the child
But Bessee, awakening with a cry of joy, saw her borne, and struggled
to go to her father, whose name she called on with all her might,
disregarding the caresses of the old woman, and the endeavour made by
Richard to restrain without alarming her, while Sir Robert went into
the hut to endeavour to restore the sufferer.
Suddenly a cry broke from within; and Richard, turning at the voice,
beheld the blind man sitting up on his pallet with arms outstretched.
"My child!--My Father! hast thou brought her to visit me in limbo?"
"He raves!" said Richard, using his strength to withhold the child,
who broke out into a shriek.
"Nay, nay! she doth not abide here!" he exclaimed. "Her spirit is
pure! My sins are not visited on her beyond the grave!"
"Thou art on the earthly side of the grave still, my son," said Sir
Robert, at the same time as Bessee sprang from Richard, and nestled
on his breast, clinging to his neck.
"My babe--my Bessee!" he exclaimed, gathering her close to him.
"Living, living, indeed! Yet how may it be! Surely this is the
other world. That voice sounds not among the living!"
"It is the voice of the youth who saved thy child," said the Grand
"Speak again! Let him speak again!" implored the beggar.
"Can I do aught for you, good man?" asked Richard.
Again there was a strange start and thrill of amazement.
"Only for Heaven's sake tell me who thou art!"
"A page of Prince Edward's good man. I am called Richard Fowen! And
who, for Heaven's sake, are you?" added Richard, as Leonillo, who had
been smelling about and investigating, threw himself on the blind man
in a transport of caresses. "Off, Leon--off!" cried Richard. "It is
but a dog!--Fear not, little one!--Tell me, tell me," he added,
trembling, as he knelt before the miserable object, holding back the
eager Leonillo with one arm round his neck, "who art thou, thou ghost
of former times?"
"Knowst me not, Richard?" returned a suppressed voice in Provencal.
"Henry! Henry!" exclaimed Richard, and fell upon the foot of the low
bed, weeping bitterly. "Is it come to this?"
"Ay, even to this," said the blind man, "that two sons of one father
meet unknown--one with a changed name, the other with none at all,
neither with the honoured one they were born to."
"Alack, alack!" was all Richard could say at the first moment, as he
lifted himself up to look again at the first-born of his parents, the
head of the brave troop of brethren, the gay, handsome, imperious
young Lord de Montfort, whose proud head and gallant bearing he had
looked at with a younger brother's imitative deference. What did he
see but a wreck of a man, sitting crouched on the wretched bed, the
left arm a mere stump, a bandage where the bright sarcastic eyes used
to flash forth their dark fire, deep scars on all the small portion
of the face that was visible through the over-grown masses of hair
and beard, so plentifully sprinkled with white, that it would have
seemed incredible that this man was but eight months older than the
Prince, whose rival he had always been in personal beauty and
activity. The beautiful child, clasped close to his breast, her face
buried on his shoulder under his shaggy locks, was a strange contrast
to his appearance, but only added to the look of piteous helplessness
and desolation, as she hung upon him in her alarm at the agitation
Richard had long been accustomed to think of his brother as dead; but
such a spectacle as this was far more terrible to him, and his cheek
blanched at the shock, as he gasped again, "Thou here, and thus! thou
whom I thought slain!"
"Deem me so still," said his brother, "even as I deem the royal
minion dead to me."
"Nay, Henry, thou knowst not."
"Who is present?" interrupted the blind man, raising his head and
tossing back his hair with a gesture that for the first time gave
Richard a sense that his eldest brother was indeed before him.
"Methought I heard another voice."
"I am here, fair son," replied the old knight, "Father Robert of the
Hospital! I will either leave thee, or keep thy secret as though it
were thy shrift; but thou art sore spent, and mayst scarce talk
"Weariness and pain are past, Father, with my little one again in my
bosom," said Henry; "and there are matters that must be spoken
between me and this young brother of mine ere he quits this hut; and
his voice resumed its old authoritative tone towards Richard. "Said
you that he had saved my child?"
"He drew me from the river, Father," said Bessee looking up. "There
was nothing to stand on, and it was so cold! And he took me in his
arms and pulled me out, and put me in a boat; and the lady pulled off
my blue coat, and put this one on me. Feel it, Father; oh, so
pretty, so warm!"
"It was the Princess," said Richard; but Henry, not noticing,
"Thou hast earned my pardon, Richard," and held out his remaining
hand, somewhere towards the height where his brother's used to be.
Sir Robert smiled, saying, "Thou dost miscalculate thy brother's
stature, son." And at the same moment Richard, who was now little
short of his Cousin Edward in height, was kneeling by Henry,
accepting and returning his embrace with agitation and gratitude,
such as showed how their relative positions in the family still
maintained their force; but Richard still asserted his independence
so as to say, "When you have heard all, brother you will see that
there is no need of pardoning me."
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