The Prince and the Page
Charlotte M. Yonge

Part 4 out of 4

peace of the poor remnant of a man you have left?"

"I come," said Edward patiently, "to fulfil my last--my parting
promise, to one who loved us both--and gave his life for me."

"Loved you, ay! and well enough to betray me to you!" said Henry

"No, Henry de Montfort, ten thousand times no!" said Edward. "I
would maintain in the lists the honour and loyalty of my Richard
towards you and me and all others. His faithfulness to you brought
him into peril of death and disgrace in the wretched matter of poor
Henry of Almayne; and he would have met both rather than have broken
his faith."

"Then," said Henry, still with the same mocking tone, "how was it
that my worthless existence became known to his Grace?"

"I knew of your having vanished from Evesham Abbey," returned Edward:
"and thus knowing, I understood a letter, the writing of which had
brought suspicion on Richard, and which was brought back to me when
we were seeking into--"

"Into the deed of Simon and Guy," said Henry. "Poor Henry! It was a
foul crime; and Father Robert can bear me witness that I did penance
for it, when that kindly heart of his was laid in St. Peter's Abbey."

"Then, Henry, thou own'st thy kinship to us still," said Edward
earnestly. Give me thine hand, man, and let me embrace my lovely
little kinswoman--a queen in her trappings. Ah, Henry! Heaven hath
dealt lovingly with thee in sparing thee thy child!"

"You have children left!" said Henry quickly, and not withholding a
hand--which, be it remarked, was as delicately shaped and well kept
as that which took it.

Twice had the beggar received a dole at Westminster at the obsequies
of Edward's little sons; yea, though he and all his brethren of the
dish had all the winter before had alms given them to purchase their
prayers for the health of the last.

"Three--but three out of six," answered Edward; "nor dare I reckon on
the life of the frail babe that England hailed yesterday as my heir.
I sometimes deem that the blight of broken covenants has fallen on my

"They were none of your breaking," said Henry.

"Say'st thou so!" exclaimed Edward, looking up, with the animation of
a man hearing an acquittal from a quarter whose sincerity he could
thoroughly trust.

But Henry made no courtly answer. "Pshaw! no living man that had to
deal with or for your father could keep a covenant. You were but the
spear-point of the broken reed, good cousin; and we pitied and
excused you accordingly."

"Your father did," said Edward hoarsely. He could brook pity from
the great Simon better than from the blind beggar.

"Ay, marry, that did he," returned Henry, "as he closed his visor
that last morn, after looking out on that wild Welsh border scum that
my fair brother-in-law had marshalled against us. 'By the arm of St.
James,' said he, 'if Edward take not heed, that rascaille will deal
with us in a way that will be worse for him than for us!'"

"A true foreboding," said the King. "Henry, do thou come and be with
me. All are gone! Scarce a face that I left in England has welcomed
me on my return. Come, thou, in what guise thou wilt--earl,
counsellor, or bedesman--only be with me, and speak to me thy
father's words."

"Who--I, my Lord?" returned Henry. "I am no man to speak my father's
words! They flew high over my head, and were only caught by grave
youths such as yourself. I, who was never trusted with so much as a
convoy. No, no; all the counsel I shall ever give, is to the
beggars, which coat-of-arms is like to rain clipped silver, and which
honest round penny pieces! Poor Richard! he bore the best brain of
us all, and might have served your purpose. Sit down, and tell me of
the lad.--Bessee, little one, bring out the joint-stool for the holy

And Henry de Montfort made way on the rude bench outside his hut,
with all the ease and courtesy of the Earl of Leicester receiving his
kinsman the King. But meantime, the dog, which had been straining in
the leash, held by Edward throughout the conference, leapt forward,
and vehemently solicited the beggar's caresses. "Ah, Leonillo!" he
said, recognizing him at once, "thou hast lost thy master! Poor dog!
thou art the one truly loyal to thy master's blood!"

"It was Richard's charge to take him to thee," said Edward: "but if
he be burdensome to thee, I would gladly cherish him, or would commit
him to faithful Gourdon, with whom he might be happier. Since he
lost his master the poor hound hath much pined away, and will take
food from none but me, or little John of Dunster."

Leonillo, however, who seemed to have an unfailing instinct for a
Montfort, was willingly accepting the eager and delighted attentions
of the little girl; though he preferred those of her father, and
cowered down beneath his hand, with depressed ears and gently waving
tail, as though there were something in the touch and voice that
conferred what was as near bliss as the faithful creature could enjoy
without his deity and master.

Meantime, the Grand Prior discreetly removed his joint-stool out of
hearing of the two cousins, and called the little maid to rehearse to
him the Credo and Ave, with their English equivalents--a task that
pretty Bessee highly disapproved after the fortnight's dissipation,
and would hardly have performed for one less beloved of children than
Father Robert.

The good Grand Prior knew that the King would have much to say that
would beseem no ear save his kinsman's; and in effect Edward told
what none besides would ever hear respecting the true author of the
attempts on his own life.

"Spiteful fox. Such Simon ever was!" was the beggar's muttered
comment. "Well that he knows not of my poor child! So, cousin, thou
hast kept his counsel," he added in a different tone. "I thank thee
in the name of Montfort and Leicester. It was well and nobly done."

And Henry de Montfort held out his hand with the dignity of head of
the family whose honour Edward had shielded.

"It was for thy father's sake and Richard's," said Edward, receiving
the acknowledgment as it was meant.

"Ah, well," said Henry, relapsing into his usual half-scoffing tone;
"in that boy our Montfort blood seems to have run clear of the taint
it got from the she-fiend of Anjou."

"Thy share was from a mocking fiend!" returned the King.

"Ay, and a fair portion it is!" said the beggar. "My jest and my
song have borne me through more than my sword and spurs ever did--and
have been more to me than English earldom or French county. Poor
Richard!" he added with feeling; "I told him his was the bondage and
mine the freedom!"

"Alas! I fear that so it was," said Edward. "My favour only
embittered his foes. Had I known how it would end, I had never taken
him to me; but my heart yearned to my uncle's goodly son."

"Maybe it is well," said Henry. "Had the boy grown up verily like my
father, thou and he might have fallen out; or if not--why, you
knights and nobles ride in miry bloody ways, and 'tis a wonder if
even the best of you does not bring his harness home befouled and
besmirched--not as shining bright as he took it out. Well, what
didst thou with the poor lad? Cut him in fragments? You mince your
best loved now as fine as if they were traitors."

"No," said Edward; "the boy lies sleeping in the Church of St. John,
at Acre. I rose from my sickbed that I might lay him in his grave as
a brother. Lights burn round him, and masses are said; and the
brethren were left in charge to place his effigy on his tomb, in
carven stone. One day I trust to see it. My brother Alexander of
Scotland, Llewellyn of Wales, and I, have sworn to one another to
bring all within these four seas into concord and good order; and
then we may look for such a blessing on our united arms as may bear
us onward to Jerusalem! Then come with us, Henry, and let us pray
together at Richard's grave."

"I may safely promise," said Henry, smiling, "if this same Crusade is
to be when peace and order are within the four seas. Moreover, thou
wilt have ruined my trade by that time!"

"Nay, Henry, cease fooling. See--if thou wilt not be thyself, I will
find thee a lodge in any park of mine. None shall know who thou art;
but thou shalt have free range, and--"

"And weary of my life! No, no, cousin. I am in thy power now; and
thou canst throw me into prison as the attainted Lord de Montfort.
Do so if thou wilt; but I were fooling indeed to give up my free
range, my power, my authority, to be a poor suspected, pitied, maimed
pensioner on thy bounty. Park, quotha! with none to speak to from
morn to night. I can have my will of any park of thine I please,
whenever I choose!"

Edward would have persisted, but Henry silenced him effectually, with
a sarcastic hint that his favours had done little for Richard. Then
the King prayed at least that he would consider his child; but to the
proposal of taking her to the palace, Henry returned an indignant
negative: "He had seen enough of the court ladies," he said.

A hot glow of anger lighted Edward's cheek, for he loved his mother;
but the blind beggar could not be the subject of his wrath, and he
merely said, "Thou didst not know my wife!"

"Ay, I will believe the court as perfect as thou thinkest to make the
isle; but Bessee shall not bide there. She is the blind beggar's
child, and such shall she remain. Send me to a dungeon, as I said,
and thou canst pen her in a convent, or make her a menial to thy
princesses, as thou wilt; but while my life and my freedom are my own
I keep my child."

"I could find it in my heart to arrest thee," said Edward, "when I
look at that beautiful child, and think to what thou wouldst bring

"She is fair then," said the beggar eagerly.

"Fair! She is the loveliest child mine eyes have looked on: though
some of mine own have been very lovely. But she hath the very
features of our royal line--though with eyes deep and dark, like thy
father's, or my Richard's--and a dark glow of sunny health on her
fair skin. She bears her, too, right royally. Henry, thou canst not
wreck the fate of a child like that."

"No, assuredly," said Henry dryly. "I have not done so ill by her
hitherto, by thine own showing, that I should not be trusted with her
for the future."

"The parting would be bitter," began Edward "but thou shouldst see
her often."

"Slay me, and make her a ward of the crown," said Henry. "Otherwise
I will need no man's leave for seeing my daughter. But ask her. If
she will go with thee, I will say no more."

King Edward was fond of children--most indulgent to his own, and kind
to all little ones, who, attracted by the sweetness which his stern,
grave, beautiful countenance would assume when he looked at them--
always made friends with him readily. So he trusted to this
fascination in the case of the little Lady Elizabeth. He held out
his hands to her, and claimed her as his cousin; and she came readily
to him, and stood between his knees. "Little cousin, he said, "wilt
thou come home with me, to be with my two little maids, the elder
much of thine age?"

"You are a red monk!" said Bessee, amazed.

"That's his shell, Bessee," said her father; "he has come a-masking,
and forgot his part."

"I don't like masking," said Bessee, trying to get away.

"Then we will mask no more," said Edward. "Thou hast looked in my
face long enough with those great black eyes. Dost know me, child?"

Bessee cast the black eyes down, and coloured.

"Dost know me?" he repeated.

"I think," she whispered at last, "that you are masking still. You
are like--like the King that was crowned at the Abbey."

"Well said, little maid! And shall I take thee home, and give thee
pearls and emeralds to braid thy locks, instead of these heath-

"Father," said Bessee, trying to withdraw her little hands out of
Edward's large one, which held both fast. "O father, is he masking

"No, child; it is the King indeed," said Henry. "Hear what he saith
to thee."

And again Edward spoke of all that would tempt a child.

"Father," said Bessee, "if father comes!"

"No, Bessee," said her father; "I have done with palaces. No places
they for blind beggars."

"Oh, let me go! let me go!" cried Bessee, struggling. And as the
King released her hands, she flew to her father. "He would lose
himself without me! I must be with father. O King, go away!
Father, don't let him take me! Let me cry for Jock of the Wooden
Spoon, and Trig One Leg, and Hedgerow Wat!"

"Hush, hush, Bess!" said Henry, not desirous that his royal cousin
should understand the strength of his body-guard of honour. "The
King here is as trusty and loyal as the boldest beggar among us. He
only gave thee thy choice between him and me!"

"Thee, thee, father. He can't want me. He has two eyes and two
hands, and a queen and two little girls; and thou hast only me!" and
she clung round her father's neck.

"Little one," said Edward, "thou need'st not shrink from me. I will
not take thee away. Thy father hath a treasure, and 'tis his part to
strive not to throw it away. Only should either thou or he ever
condescend so far as to seek for counsel with this poor cousin of
thine, send this token to me, and I will be with thee."

But it was full nine years ere Edward saw that jewel again. Meantime
he was not entirely without knowledge of his kinsman. On every great
occasion the figure, conspicuous for the scrupulous cleanliness of
the dark russet gown, and the careful arrangement of the hair and
beard, and the fillet which covered the eyes, as well as for a lordly
bearing, that even the stoop of blindness could not disguise, was to
be seen dominating over all the other beggars, sitting on the steps
of church or palace gates, as if they had been a throne; troubling
himself little to beg, but exchanging shrewd remarks with all who
addressed him, and raising many a laugh among the bystanders.
Leonillo lay contented at his feet; but after just enough time had
elapsed to show that he cared not for the King's remonstrance, he
ceased to be accompanied by his little daughter, and was led by a boy
in her stead.

The King, making inquiries of the Grand Prior, learnt that pretty
Bessee was daily deposited at the sisterhood of Poor Clares, where
she remained while her father was out on his begging expeditions, and
learnt such breeding as convents then gave.

"In sooth," said Sir Robert, "honest Hal believes it is all for good-
will and charity and love to the pretty little wench; and so it is in
great part: but methought it best to give a hint to the mother
prioress that the child came of good blood. She is a discreet lady,
and knows how to deal with her; and truly she tells me their house
has prospered since the little one came to them. Every feast-day
morn have they found their alms-dish weightier with coin than ever
she knew it before."

When Edward repeated this intelligence to his queen, she recollected
Dame Idonea's gossiping information--that brave Sir Robert, the
flower of the House of Darcy, had only entered the Order of St. John,
when fair Alda Braithwayte, in the strong enthusiasm of the
Franciscan preaching, had pleaded a vow of virginity against all
suitors, and had finally become a Sister of the Poor Clares. And
after all his wars and wanderings, the regulations of his Order had
ended by bringing the Hospitalier in his old age into the immediate
neighbourhood of Prioress Alda; and into that distant business
intercourse that the heads of religious houses had from time to time
to carry on together.

The world passed on. Eleanor de Montfort came from France, and the
King himself acted the part of a father to her at her marriage with
Llewellyn of Wales. He knew--though she little guessed--that the
beggar, by whom her jewelled train swept with rustling sound, was the
first-born of her father's house, and should have held her hand. Two
years only did that marriage last; Eleanor died, leaving an infant
daughter; and Llewellyn soon after was in arms against the English.
Perhaps Edward bethought him of his cousin's ironical promise to go
with him to the East after the pacification of the whole island, when
he found himself obliged to summon the fierce Pyrenean to pursue the
wild Welsh in their mountains.


"This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
Ran on a green sward." --Winter's Tale.

It was the summer of 1283; the babe of Carnarvon had been accepted as
the native prince, speaking no tongue but Welsh, and Edward had since
been employed in establishing his dominion over Wales. His
Whitsuntide was kept by the Queen's special entreaty at St.
Winifred's Well. Such wonders had been told her of the miracles
wrought by this favourite Welsh saint, that she hoped that by early
placing her little Welsh-born son under such protection, she might
secure for him healthier and longer life than had been the share of
his brethren.

So to Holy-well went the court and army. Some lodged in the convent
attached to the well; but many and many more dwelt in tents, or
lodged in cottages, or raised huts of boughs of trees. Noble ladies
of Eleanor's suite were glad to obtain a lodging in rude Welsh huts;
and as the weather was beautiful, there was plenty of gay feasting,
dancing, and jousting on the greensward, when the religious
observances of the day were over. Pilgrims thronged from all parts,
attracted both by the presence of the court and the unusual
tranquillity of Wales; and for nearly a mile around the Holy-well it
was like one great motley fair, resorted to by persons of all
stations. Beggars of course were there in numbers, and among them
the unfailing blind beggar of Bethnal Green, who always made a
pilgrimage in the summer to some station of easy access from London,
but whom some wondered to see at such a distance.

"Had he scented that the court was coming?" asked the young nobles.

"Not he; he never haunted courts. He would have kept away had he
known that such a gabbling flock of popinjays were on the wing

But the young gallants were chiefly bent on speculating on the vision
of loveliness that had flashed on the eyes of some early visitants at
the well. A maiden in a dark pilgrim dress, and broad hat, which,
however, could not entirely conceal a glowing complexion, at once
rich and pure; perfect features, magnificent dark eyes and hair, and
a tall form, which, though very youthful, was of unmistakable dignity
and grace. She was always at the well exceedingly early in the
morning, moving slowly round it on her beautiful bare feet, and never
looking up from the string of dark beads--the larger ones of amber,
which she held in her fingers--as her lips conned over the prayers
connected with each. No ring was on the delicate hand, no ear-ring
in the ear; there was no ornament in the dress, but such a garb was
wont to be assumed by ladies of any rank when performing a vow; and
its simplicity at once enhanced her beauty, and added to the general
curiosity. Between four and six in the dewy freshness of morning
seemed to be her time for devotion; and though the habits of the
court were early, it was only the first astir who caught a sight of
this Queen of the Dew-drops, as it was the fashion to call her. Late
comers never caught sight of her, and affected incredulity when the
younger and more active knights and squires raved about her. Then it
was reported that the King himself had been seen speaking to her; and
thereupon excitement grew the more intense, because Edward's
exclusive devotion to his Queen had been such, that from his youth up
the most determined scandal had never found a wandering glance to
note in him.

She was the Princess of France--of Navarre--of Aragon--in disguise;
nay, at the Whit-Sunday banquet there were those who cast anxious
glances to the door, expecting that, in the very land of King Arthur,
she would walk in like his errant dames at Pentecost, to demand a
champion. And when a joust was given on the sward, young Sir John de
Mohun, the Lord of Dunster, announced his intention of tilting in
honour of no one save the Queen of the Dew-drops. The ladies of the
court were rather scandalized, and appealed to the King whether the
choice of an unknown girl, of no acknowledged rank, should be
permitted; but the King, strict punctilious man as he was, only
laughed, and adjudged the Queen of the Dew-drops to be fully worthy
of the honour.

After this, early rising became the fashion of Holy-well. All the
gentlemen got up early to look at the Queen of the Dew-drops; and all
the ladies got up early to see that the gentlemen did not get into
mischief; and the maiden's devotions became far from solitary; but
she moved on, with a sort of superb unconcern, never lifting the dark
fringes that veiled the eyes so steadily fixed on the beads that
dropped through her fingers, until, as she finished, she raised up
her head with a straightforward fearless look at the way she was
going, so completely self-possessed that no one ventured to accost
her, and to follow her at less than such a respectful distance, that
she was always lost sight of in the wood.

At last, late one evening, there was a sudden start of exultant
satisfaction among some of the young men who were lounging on the
green; for the most part not the nobles of the court, but certain
young merchants of London and Bristol, who had followed the course of
pilgrimage by the magnetism of fashionable resort. The Queen of the
Dew-drops was seen, carrying a pitcher! Up started four or five
gallants, offering assistance, and standing round her, wrangling with
one another, and besetting her steps.

"Let me pass, gentles," she said with dignity, "I am carrying wine in
haste to my father."

"Nay, fair one, you pass not our bounds without toll," said the
portliest of the set.

"Hush, rudesby; fair dames in disguise must be treated after other

Every variety of half-insulting compliment was pouring upon her; but
she, with head erect, and steady foot, still quietly moved on, taking
no notice, till a hand was laid on her pitcher.

"Let go!" then she said in no terrified voice. "Let go, Sir, or I
can summon help."

And as if to realize her words, the intrusive hand was thrust aside
by a powerful arm, and a voice exclaimed -

"This lady is to pass free, Sir! None of your insolence!"

"A court-gallant," passed round the hostile bourgeoise; "none of your
court airs, Sir."

"No airs--but those of an honest Englishman, who will not see a woman
cowardly beset!"

"Will Silk-jerkin not bide a buffet!" quoth the bully of the party,
clenching his fist.

"As many as thou wilt," returned Silk-jerkin, "so soon as I have seen
the lady safe home!"

"Ho! ho!--a fetch that!" and the fellow, a coarse rude-looking man,
though rather expensively dressed, flourished his fist in the face of
the young man, but was requited that instant with a round blow that
levelled him with the ground. The others fell back from the tall
strong-limbed, open-faced youth, and the girl took the opportunity of
moving forward, swiftly indeed, but so steadily as to betray no air
of terror. Meantime, the young gentleman's voice might be heard,
assuring his adversaries that he was ready to encounter one or all of
them so soon as he had escorted the lady safe home. Perhaps she
hoped that another attack would delay him; but if so, her
expectations were disappointed, for in a second or two his quick firm
tread followed her, and just as she had gained the mazy wood-path, he
was beside her.

"Thanks, Sir," she said, "for the service you have done me, but I am
now in safety."

"Nay, Lady, do me the grace of letting me bear your load."

"Thanks," again she said; "but I feel no weight."

"But my knighthood does, seeing you thus laden."

"Spare your knighthood the sight, then," she said smiling, and
looking up with a glance of brightness, such as her hitherto sedate
face had never before revealed to him.

"That cannot be!" he exclaimed with fervency. "You bid me in vain
leave you till I see you safe; and while with you, all laws of
courtesy call on me to bear your burthen! So, Lady--"

And he laid his hand upon the leathern thong that sustained the
pitcher; but at that moment three or four heaps of rags, that had
been lying under the trees by the woodland path, erected themselves,
and one in especial, whom the young knight had observed as a
frightful cripple seated by day near the well, now came forward
brandishing his crutch in a formidable manner, and uttering a howl of
defiance. But the lady silenced him at once -

"Peace, good Trig, nothing is amiss! It is only this gentleman's
courtesy. He hath done me good service on the green yonder!"

And as her strange body-guard retreated growling, she, perhaps to
show her confidence, resigned her pitcher into the knight's hand.

"So, fair Queen of the Dew-drops," he said, half bewildered, "thou
dost work miracles!"

"Ay, when the dew is on the grass, and the nightingale sings," she
returned gaily; "by day the enchantment is over."

By this time they had reached a low turf hut; and the maiden, turning
at the door, held out her hand, and said, "Thanks, fair Sir, I must
enter my enchanted palace alone; but grammercy for thy kind service,
and farewell."

The maiden and the pitcher vanished. The knight watched the rude
door in vain--he only saw a few streaks of light through the boards.
Then he bethought him of questioning her guards, but when he reached
their tree they were gone. It was fast growing dark, and he was one
of the King's personal attendants, and subject to the strict
regulations of his household; so, dazed and bewildered as he was, he
walked hastily back to the hospice, where the King and Queen lodged.
Supper had already begun, and the glare of lights dazzled his eyes.
In his bewilderment, he served the King with mustard instead of honey
from the great silver ship full of condiments, in the centre of the

"How's this, Sir John?" said the King, who always had a kindly corner
in his heart for this young knight. "Are these the idle days of thy
Crusade come again?"

"I could well-nigh think so!" half-whispered Sir John.

"He looks moonstruck!" cried that spoilt ten years old damsel, Joan
of Acre, clasping her hands with mischievous fun. "Oh! has he seen
the Queen of the Dew-drops?"

"What dost thou know of the Queen of the Dew-drops, my Lady
Malapert?" said King Edward, marking the red flush that mounted to
the very brow of the downright young knight.

"Oh, I know that she is at the well every morning, and is as lovely
as the dawn! Ay, and vanishes so soon as the sun is up; but not ere
she has bewitched every knight of them all! And did not my Lord of
Dunster hold the field in her honour against all comers? No wonder
she appears to him.--Oh! tell us, Sir John! what like was she?"

"Hush, Joan," said Queen Eleanor, bending forward, "no infanta in my
time ever said so much in a breath."

"No, Lady-mother; because you had to speak whole mouthfuls of grave
Castillian words. Now, good English can be run off in a breath.
Reyna del Rocio--that's more majestic, but not so like fairyland as
Queen of the Dew-drops!"

Princess Joan's mouth was effectually stopped this time.

The adventure of the evening had led to the discovery of the hut of
the Queen of the Dew-drops. The young knight had as usual been
betimes at the well, but the maiden did not appear there. Then he
questioned the cripple--who by day was an absolute helpless cripple--
but the man utterly denied all knowledge of any such circumstance.
He, why, poor wretch that he was, he never hobbled further than the
shed close behind the well; he would give the world if he could get
as far as the wood--he knew nothing about ladies or pilgrims--such a
leg as his was enough to think about. And the display to which he
forthwith treated the Knight of Dunster was highly convincing as to
his incapacity.

Into the wood wandered the much-confused knight, recognizing, step by
step, the path of the night before. The turf hut was before him--the
door was open--and in the doorway sat the maiden herself, spinning,
the distaff by her side, the spindle dancing on the ground, and the
pilgrim's hat no longer hiding her beauteous brow and wealth of dark
braided hair. But, intolerable sight, seven or eight of last night's
loungers were dispersed hither and thither in the bushes, gazing with
all their eyes, endeavouring to attract her attention; some by
conversations with one another; one richly-dressed Gascon squire, of
the train of Edward's ally, the Count de Bearn, by singing a
Provencal love ditty; while a merchant of Bristol set up a counter
attempt with a long doleful English ballad. All the time the fair
spinster sat in the doorway, with the utmost gravity, twisting her
thread and twirling her spindle; but it might be observed that she
had so placed herself as to have full command of the door, and to be
able to shut herself in whenever she chose.

No one had yet ventured to accost her. There was something in her
air that rendered it almost impossible for any one to force himself
upon her, and a sort of fear mingled with the impression she made.
However, the young knight, although a bashful man by nature, had one
advantage in his court breeding, and another in the acquaintance he
had made last night. He walked straight up, and doffing his velvet
cap, began, "Greet you well, fair Queen. I could not but take your
challenge to see whether your power lasted when the dew was off."

The damsel rose with due courtesy as he approached, but ere she had
attempted an answer, nay, even before the words were out of his
mouth, the Gascon was shouting in French that this was no fair play,
he had stolen a march; and the merchant had sprung forward saying,
"Girl, beware, court gallants mean not well by country wenches."

"Thou liest in thy throat," burst forth the knight. "Discourteous
lubber, to call such a queen of beauty a country wench!"

"Listen to me, girl."

"Lady, hear me."

"Hearken not to the popinjay foreigner."

These, and many more tumultuary exclamations, threats, and
entreaties, crowded on one another, and the various speakers were
laying hand on staff or sword, and glaring angrily on one another,
when the word "Peace," in the maiden's clear silvery notes, sounded
among them. They all turned as she stood in the doorway, drawn up to
her full height.

"Peace," she said; "I can have no brawling here! My father was
grievously sick yesterday, and is still ill at ease. One by one
speak your business, and begone. You first, Sir," to the Gascon, she
said in French.

"Ah! fair Lady, what business could be mine, save to tell you how
lovely you are?"

"You have said," she answered, without a blush, waving him aside.
"Now you, Sir," to the tuneful merchant of Bristol.

"I told you, Madam, he meant not well. Those aliens never do."

"You too have said," she answered.

The merchant would have persisted, but a London merchant, a much more
substantial and considerable character, pushed him aside, and the
numbers being all against him, he was forced to give way.

"Young woman," said the merchant, "you are plainly of better birth
and breeding than you choose to affect. Now I am thinking of getting
married. I have ships at sea, and stuffs and jewels coming from
Venice and Araby; and I am like to be Lord Mayor ere long; but
there's that I like in your face and discreet bearing, and I'll make
you my wife, and give you all my keys--your father willing!"

"Your turn's out, old burgher," said a big, burly, and much younger
man, pressing forward. "Pretty wench! I'm not like to be Lord
Mayor, nor nothing of that sort; but I'm a score of years nigher
thine age, and a lusty fellow to boot, that could floor any man at
single-stick, within the four seas. Ay, and have been thought comely
too, though Joyce o' the haugh did play me false; and I come o' this
pilgrimage just to be merry and forget it. If thou wilt take me, and
come back to spite Joyce, thou shalt be hostess of the Black Bull, at
Brentford, where all the great folk from the North ever put up when
they come to town; the merriest and richest hostel, and will have the
comeliest host and hostess round about London town!"

The lady bowed her head. Perhaps those rosy lips were trying hard to
keep from laughing.

"A hostel's no place for a discreet dame to bide in," put forth an
honest voice. "Maiden, I know not who or what you are, but I came o'
this pilgrimage to please my old mother, who said I might do my soul
good, and bring home a wife--better over the moor than over the
mixen--and I know she would give thee a right good welcome. I'm
Baldric of the Cheddar Cliff, and we have held our land ever since
the old days, or ever the Norman kings came here. Three hundred
kine, woman, and seven score swine, and many an acre of good corn
land under the hill."

The lady had never looked up while these suitors were speaking. When
Baldric of Cheddar had done, she gave one furtive glance through her
long eyelashes, as if to see if there were any more, and then her
cheek flushed. There still remained the knight. Some others had
slunk away when brought to such close quarters, but he stepped forth
more hesitatingly, and said, "Lady, I know not whether the bare rock
and castle I have to offer can weigh against the ships, the hostel,
or the swine. I have few of either; I am but a poor baron, but such
as I am, I am wholly yours. Thine eyes have bound me to you for
ever, and all I seek is leave to make myself better known, and to ask
that your noble father may not deem me wholly unworthy to be your

The lady trembled a little, but she held her place in the doorway.
"Gentles," she said, "I thank ye for the honour ye have done me, but
I may not dispose of mine own self. My father is ill at ease, and
can see no one; but he bids me tell you that he will meet all who
have aught to say to him, under the trysting tree at Bethnal Green,
the day after the Midsummer feast."

With these words she retired into her hut, and closed the door. She
was seen again no more that day; and on the next the hut stood open,
empty, and deserted.


"'But first you shall promise and have it well knowne
The gold that you drop shall all be your owne;'
With that they replyed, 'Contented we bee;'
'Then here's,' quoth the beggar, 'for pretty Bessee.'"
Old Ballad.

The day after Midsummer had come, and towards the fine elm tree that
then adorned the centre of Bethnal Green, three horsemen were wending
their way. Each had his steed a good deal loaded: each looked about
him anxiously.

"By St. Boniface," said one, "the girl's father is not there. Saucy
little baggage, was she deluding us all?"

"Belike he is bringing too long a train of mules with her dowry to
make much speed," quoth the merchant. "He will think it needful to
collect all his gear to meet the offers of Master Lambert of Cripple-
gate. Ha! Sir Knight, well met! You are going to try your

"I must! So it were not all enchantment," said the knight, almost
breathlessly, gazing round him. "Yet," he said, almost to himself,
"those eyes had a soul and memories that ne'er came out of

"Ha!" exclaimed the innkeeper, "there's old Blind Hal under the tree!
I'll tell him to get out of our way. Hal!" he shouted, "here's a
tester for thee, but thou'st best keep out of the way of the mules."

"What mules, Master Samson?" coolly demanded Hal, who had comfortably
established himself under the tree with his back against the trunk.

"The mules that the brave burgess is going to bring his daughter's
dowry on. They are cranky brutes, Hal; bad customers for blind men--
best let me give thee a hand out of the way."

"But who is this burgess that you talk of?" asked the beggar.

"The father of the pilgrim lass that prayed at St. Winifred's Well,"
said Samson.

"And was called Queen of the Dew-drops?"

"Ay, ay, old fellow! Thou knowest every bird that flies! She is to
be my wife, I tell thee, and a right warm corner shall she keep for
thee at the Black Bull, for thou canst make sport for the guests
right well."

"I hope she will keep a warm corner for me," said the beggar; "for no
man will treat for her marriage save myself."

"Thou! Old man, who sent thee here to insult us?" cried the

"None, Master Lambert. I trysted you to meet me here if you purposed
still to seek my child in marriage."

"Thy child?" cried all three, vehemently.

"My child!" answered the beggar. "Mine own lawful child."

There was a silence. Presently Samson growled, "I mind me he used to
have a little black-eyed brat with him."

"Caitiff!" exclaimed the merchant; "I'll have thy old vagabond bones
in the Fleet for daring so to cheat his Grace's lieges."

"If you can prove a cheat against me I will readily abye it, Sir,"
returned the beggar.

"Palming a beggar's brat off for a noble dame."

"So please you, Sir," interrupted the beggar, "keep truth with you.
What did the child or I ever profess, save what we were? No foul
words here. I trysted you to meet me here, anent her marriage. Have
you any offers to make me?"

"Aye, of a cell in the Fleet if you persist in your insolence!" cried
the merchant.

"Thanks," quietly said the beggar. "And you, Master Samson?"

"'Tis a sweet pretty lass," said Samson, ruefully; "and pity of her
too, but you see a man like me must look to his credit. I'll give
her twenty marks to help her to a husband, Hal, only let her keep out
of my sight for ever and a day."

"I thought I heard another voice," said the beggar. "I trow the
third suitor has made off without further ado."

"Not so, fair Sir," said a voice close to him, thick and choked with
feeling. "Your daughter is too dear to me for me thus to part, even
were mine honour not pledged."

"Sir knight," interfered the merchant, "you will get into a desperate
coil with your friends."

"I am my own master," answered the knight. "My parents are dead. I
am of age, and, Sir, I offer myself and all that is mine to your fair
daughter, as I did at Saint Winifred's Well, as one bound both by
honour and love."

"It is spoken honourably," said Hal; "but, Sir, canst thou answer me
with her dowry? Tell down coin for coin."

He held up a heavy leathern bag. The knight, who had come prepared,
took down another such bag from his saddle-bow. Down went one silver
piece from the knight. Down went another from the beggar.

"Stay, stay," cried Samson. "I can play at that game too."

"No, no, Master Samson," said the beggar; "your pretensions are
resigned. Your chance is over."

Mark after mark--crown after crown--all the Dunster rents; all the
old hoards, with queer figures of Saxon kings, lay on the grass,
still for each the beggar had rained down its fellow, and
inexhaustible seemed the bags that he sat upon. Samson bit his lips,
and the merchant muttered with vexation. It could not be fairly come
by: he must be the president of a den of robbers; it should be
looked to.

The last bag of the knight lay thin and exhausted; the beggar
clutched one bursting with repletion.

"I could not put the lands and castle of Dunster into a bag and add
thereto," said the knight, at last. "Would that I could, my sword,
my spurs, and knightly blood to boot, and lay them at your daughter's

"Let them weigh in the balance," said the beggar; "and therewith thy
truth to thy word."

"And will you own me?" exclaimed the knight. "Will you take me to
your daughter?"

"Nay, I said not so," returned Blind Hal. "I am not in such haste.
Come back on this day week, when I shall have learnt whether thou art
worthy to match with my child."

"Worthy!" John of Dunster chafed and bit his lips at such words from
a beggar.

"Ay, worthy," repeated the beggar, guessing his irritation. "I like
thee well, as a man of thy word, so far, but I must know more of him
who is to mate with my pretty Bessee."

It was that evening that a page entered the royal apartments, and
giving a ring to the King, informed him that a blind beggar had sent
it in, and entreated to speak with him.

"Pray him to come hither," said the King; "and lead him carefully.
Thou, Joan, hadst better seek thy mother and sister."

"O sweet father," cried Joan, "don't order me off. This can be no
state business. Prithee let me hear it."

"That must be as my guest pleases, Joan," he answered; "and thou must
be very discreet, or we shall have him reproaching me for trying to
rule the realm when I cannot rule my own house."

"Father, I verily think you are afraid of that beggar! I am sure he
is as mysterious as the Queen of the Dew-drops!" cried the
mischievous girl.

The curtain over the doorway was drawn back, and the beggar was led
into the chamber. The King advanced to meet him, and took his hand
to lead him to a seat. "Good morrow to thee," he said; "cousin, I am
glad thou art come at last to see me."

"Thanks, my Lord," said the beggar, with more of courtly tone than
when they had met before, and yet Joan thought she had never seen her
father addressed so much as an equal; "are any here present with

"Only my wilful little crusading daughter, Joan," said Edward,
beckoning to her, and putting her proud reluctant fingers into the
hand of the beggar, who bent and raised them to his lips--as the
fashion then was--while the maiden reddened and looked to her father,
but saw him only smiling; "she shall leave us," he added, "if thy
matters are for my private ear. In what can I aid thee?"

"In this matter of daughters," answered the beggar; "not that I need
aid of yours, but counsel. I would know if the heir of old Reginald
Mohun--John, I think they call him--be a worthy mate for my wench."

Joan had in the meantime placed herself between her father's knees,
where she stood regarding this wonderful beggar with the most
unmitigated astonishment.

"John of Dunster!" said the King, stroking down Joan's hair, "thou
knowst his lineage as well as I, cousin."

"His lineage, true," replied Henry; "but look you, my Lord, my child,
the light of mine eyes, may not go from me without being assured that
it is to one who will, I say, not equal her in birth, but will be a
faithful and loving lord to her."

"Hath he sought her?" asked the King.

"Even so, my liege. The maid is scarce sixteen; I thought to have
kept her longer; but so it was--old Winny, her mother's old nurse,
fell sick and died in the winter; and the Dominican, who came to
shrive her, must needs craze the poor fool with threats that she did
a deadly sin in bringing my sweet wife and me together; and for all
the Grand Prior, who, monk as he is, has a soldier's sense, could say
of the love that conquered death, nothing would serve the poor woman
to die in peace till my Bessee had vowed to make a six weeks' station
at her patroness's well, where we were wedded, and pray for her soul
and her blessed mother's. So there we journeyed for our summer
roaming; and all had been well, had you not come down on us with all
the idle danglers of the court to gaze and rhyme and tilt about the
first fair face they saw. Even then so discreet was the girl that no
more had befallen, but as ill-luck would have it, my old Evesham
keepsake," touching his side, "burst forth again one evening, and
left me so spent, that Bessee sent the boy to get me a draught of
wine. The boy--mountebank as he is--lost her groat, and played
truant; and she, poor wench, got into such fear for me that she went
herself, and fell in with a sort of insolent masterful rogues, from
whom this young knight saved her. I took her home safe enough after
that, and thought to be rid of the knaves when they saw my wallet;
and so truly I am, all save this lad!"

"O father! it is true love!" whispered Joan.

"What hast to do with true love, popinjay? And so John of Dunster
came undaunted to the breach, did he, Henry?"

"Not a whit dismayed he! Now either that is making light of his
honour, or 'tis an honour higher than most lads understand. Cousin,
I would have the child be loved as her father and mother loved! And
methinks she affects this blade. The child hath been less like my
merry lark since we met him. A plague on the springalds! But you
know him. Has he your good word?"

"John of Dunster?" said the King. "Henry, didst thou not know for
whose sake I had loved and proved him? He was Richard's pupil. I
was forced to take the child with me, for old Sir Reginald had been
unruly enough, and I thought would be the less troublesome to my
father were his son in my keeping. But I half repented when I saw
what a small urchin it was, to be cast about among grooms and pages!
But Richard aided the little uncouth varlet, nursed him when sick,
guarded him when well, trained him to be loyal and steadfast. The
little fellow came bravely to my aid in my grapple with the traitor
before Acre; and when the blow had fallen on Richard, the boy's grief
was such that I loved him ever after. And of late I have had no
truer trustier warrior. I warrant me he was too shy to tell thee
that I knighted him last year in the midst of some of the best feats
of arms I ever beheld against the Welsh! Whatever John de Mohun
saith is sooth, and I would rather mate my daughter with him than
with many a man of fairer speech."

"Then shall he have my pretty Bessee!" said the beggar, lingering
over the words. "But one boon I would further ask, cousin; that thou
breathe no word to him of my having sought thee."

The young Lord of Dunster had not been noted for choiceness of
apparel; but when he repaired to the trysting-tree, none could have
found fault with the folds of his long crimson tunic, worked with the
black and gold colours of his family, nor with the sit of the broad
belt that sustained his sword, assuredly none with his beautiful
sleek black charger.

But under the tree stood not the blind beggar, but the beggar's boy.

"Blind Hal bids you meet him at the Spital, at your good pleasure,"
said the boy; and like the mountebank he was, tumbled three times
head over heels.

John de Mohun looked round and about, and saw no alternative but to
obey. All his love was required to endure so strange a father-in-
law, who did not seem in the least grateful for the honour intended
to his daughter; but the knight's word was pledged, and he rode
towards the Hospital.

The court of the Hospital was full of steeds and serving-men. A
strange conviction came over John that he saw the King's strong white
charger--ay, and the palfreys of the elder princesses; and he asked
the lay-brother who offered to take his horse, if the King were
there. The brother only replied by motioning him towards the inner

He passed on accordingly, and as he went, the bells broke forth into
a merry peal. On the top of the steps leading to the arched doorway,
he saw a scarlet cluster of knights, and among them the Grand Prior,
robed as for Mass. A space was clear within the deep porch, and
there stood the beggar in his russet suit.

"Sir John de Mohun of Dunster," he said, "thou art come hither to
espouse my daughter?"

"I hope, so, Sir," said John, somewhat taken by surprise.

"Come hither, maiden," said her father.

The cluster of knights opened, and from within the church there
appeared before the astonished bridegroom the stately form of King
Edward, leading in his hand the dark-tressed, dark-haired maiden,
dressed in spotless white, the only adornment she wore a circlet of
diamonds round her flowing dark hair--the Queen indeed of the Dew-
drops. And behind her walked with calm dignity the beautiful
Princess Eleanor, now nearly a woman, holding with a warning hand the
merry mischievous Joan.

Well might John of Dunster stand dazzled and amazed, but hesitation
or delay there was none. Then and there, by the Grand Prior himself,
was the ceremony performed, without a word of further explanation.
The rite over, when the bridegroom took the bride's hand to follow,
as all were marshalled on their way, he knew not whither, she looked
up to him through her dark eyelashes, and murmured, "They would not
have it otherwise!"

"Deem you that I would?" said the knight fervently, pressing her

"I deemed that you should know all--who I am," she faltered.

"My wife, the Lady of Dunster. That is all I need to know," replied
Sir John, with the honest trustworthy look that showed it was indeed
enough to secure his heart-whole love and reverence.

The great hall of the Spital was decked for the bridal feast. The
bride and bridegroom were placed at the head of the table, and the
King gave up his place beside the bride to her blind father. All the
space within the cloister without was strewn with rushes, where sat
and feasted the whole fraternity of beggars; and well did the Grand
Prior and his knights do their part in the entertainment.

Then when the banquet was drawing to its close, the blind beggar bade
the boy that waited near him fetch his harp. And, as had often
before been his practice, he sang in a deep manly voice, to the boy's
accompaniment on his harp. But the song that then he sang had never
been heard before, nor was its exact like ever heard again; though
tradition has handed down a few of the main features, and (as may be
seen by this veracious narration) somewhat vulgarized them:-

"A poore beggar's daughter did dwell on a greene,
Who might for her faireness have well been a queene;
A blithe bonny lasse and a dainty was she,
And many one called her pretty Bessee."

Even the King, who had so well guarded the secret, was entirely
unprepared to hear the Montfort parentage thus publicly avowed; and
the bride, who had as little known of her father's intentions, sat
with downcast eyes, blushing and tearful, while the beggar's
recitative went briefly and somewhat tremulously over his
resuscitation, under the hands of the fair and faithful Isabel. Her
hand was held by her bridegroom from the first, with a pressure meant
to assure her that no discovery could alter his love and regard; but
when the name of Montfort sounded on his ear, the hand wrung hers
with anxiety; and when the entire tale had been told, and the last
chord was dying away, he murmured, "Look up at me, my loveliest. Now
I know why I first loved thine eyes. Thou art dearer to me than
ever, for the sake of my first and best friend!"

His words were only for herself. The King was saying aloud,

"Well sung, fair cousin! A health, my Lords and Knights, for Sir
Henry de Montfort, Earl of Leicester."

"Not so, Lords and Knights!" called this strange personage, the only
one who would thus have contradicted the King; "the Earl of Leicester
has long ago been dead, as you have heard. If you drink, let it be
to Blind Hal of Bethnal Green."

Nor could all the entreaties of daughter, son-in-law, nor King, move
him from his purpose of living and dying as Blind Hal, the beggar.
He had tasted too long of liberty, he said, to put himself under
constraint. To live in Somersetshire, as his daughter wished, would
have been banishment and solitude to one used to divert himself with
every humour of the city; and to be, as he declared, a far more
complete king of the beggars than ever his cousin Edward was over
England. All he would consent to, was that a room in a lodge in
Windsor Park should be set apart for him under charge of Adam de
Gourdon, who had been present at this scene, and was infinitely
rejoiced at the sight of a scion of the House of Montfort. For the
rest, he bade every one to forget his avowal, which, as he said, he
had only made that the blanch lion might share with the Mohun cross;
and as he added to Princess Eleanor, "that you court dames may never
flout at pretty Bessee! Had the Cheddar Yeoman been the true man,
none had ever known that she was a Montfort."

"Would you have given her to the Cheddar Yeoman?" burst out Joan

"That he will say so, to anger thee, is certain, Joan," said the
King. "Farewell, Henry. Remember, I hold thee bound to be my
comrade when I can return to the Holy War."

"Ay, when you have tamed Scotland, even as you have tamed Wales,"
returned Henry.

"No fear of my good brother Alexander's realm needing such taming.
Heaven forbid!" said Edward.

But the beggar parted from him with a laugh.


The pure calm picture of a blameless friend.
Lyra Apostolica.

Ten years later, King Edward was walking in the park at Windsor with
slow and weary steps. His rich dark brown hair and beard were lined
with gray, his face was not only grave but worn and melancholy, and
more severe than ever. The sorrow of his life, his queen's death,
had fallen on him, and with her had gone much of softening influence;
the only son who had been spared to him was, though a mere child,
grieving him by the wayward frivolities not of a strong but of a weak
nature; he had wrought much for his country's good, but had often
been thwarted and never thanked; his mercies and benefits were
forgotten, his justice counted as harshness, and hatred and
opposition had met him everywhere. Above all, and weighting him
perhaps most severely, was that his first step beyond his just bounds
had been taken in the North. John Baliol was indeed king, but Edward
in his zeal for discipline had bound Scotland with obligations--for
her good indeed, but beyond his just right to impose; and the sense
of aggression was embittering him against the Scottish resistance,
while at the same time adding to his sadness.

A knight came forth from one of the paths that led into that along
which he was pacing with folded arms, and unwilling to break upon his
mood, stood waiting, till Edward himself looked up and asked
impatiently, "So, Sir John, what now? Another outbreak of those
intolerable Scotch?"

"Not so, my Lord; but the Bailiff of Acre awaits to see you."

"Bailiff of Acre! What is the Bailiff of Acre to me? I cannot hear
all their importunities for a crusade! Heaven knows how gladly I
would hasten to the Holy War, if these savage Scots would give me
peace at home. I am weary of their solicitations. Cannot you tell
him I would be private, John?"

"My Lord, he says he has matter for your private ear, concerning one
whom you met in Palestine--and, my Lord, you will sure remember him--
Sir Reginald Ferrers."

"The friend of Richard!" said Edward, with a changed countenance.
"Bring him with you to your father-in-law's lodge, John. If there be
aught to hear of the House of Montfort, it concerns him and you
likewise. I was on my way thither."

In a short time the woodland lodge, in one of the most beautiful
glades of Windsor Forest, beheld the King seated on a bench placed
beneath a magnificent oak, standing alone in its own glade, and
beside him the Blind Beggar in his russet suit; far less changed than
his royal cousin during these years. Since Edward's great sorrow,
Henry de Montfort had held less apart from him; and whenever the King
was at leisure to snatch a short retirement at one of his hunting
lodges, he always sent an intimation to the beggar, who would journey
down on a sober ass, and under the care of De Gourdon, now the chief
of the hunting staff, would meet the King in some sylvan glade. Why
it was a comfort to Edward to be with him, it would be hard to say;
probably from the habit of old fellowship, for Henry's humour had not
grown more courtly or less caustic.

From under the trees came John de Mohun, now a brave, stout, hearty-
looking English baron; and with him, wrapped in a battered and soiled
scarlet mantle, a war-worn soldier, his complexion tanned to deep
brown, his hair bleached with toil and sun, a scar on his cheek, a
halt on his step--altogether a man in whom none would have recognized
the bright, graceful, high-spirited young Hospitalier of twenty years
since. Only when he spoke, and the smiling light beamed in his eye,
could he be known for Sir Reginald Ferrers.

He would have bent his knee, but Edward took his hand, and bowing his
own bared head said, "It is we who should crave a blessing from you,
holy Father, last defender of the sacred land."

"Alas, my Lord," said Sir Raynald, as he made the gesture of
blessing; "Heaven's will he done! Had we but been worthier! Sir,"
he added, "I am in no guise for a royal presence, but I have been
sent home from Cyprus to recover from my wounds; and I had a message
for you which I deemed you would gladly hear before I had joined mine

"A message?" said Edward.

"A message from a dying penitent, craving pardon," replied Sir

"If it concerns the House of Montfort, speak on," said Edward. "None
are so near to it as those present with me!"

"Thou hast guessed right, my Lord King!" replied Sir Raynald. "It
does concern that House. Have I your license to tell my tale at some

Edward gave permission; and a seat having been brought, Sir Raynald
proceeded to speak of that last Siege of Acre, when, amid the
multitudinous tribunals of mixed races, and the many sanctuaries
which sheltered crime, the unhappy city had become a disgrace to the
Christian name. The Sultan Malek Seraf was concentrating his forces
on it; all the unwarlike inhabitants had been sent away; and the
Knights of the two Orders, with the King of Cyprus and his troops,
had shut themselves up for their last resistance--when among the
mercenaries, who enrolled themselves in the pay of the Hospitaliers,
came a sunburnt warrior, who had evidently had long experience of
Eastern warfare, though his speech was English, French, or Provencal,
according to the person who addressed him. Fierce and dreadful was
the daily strife; the new soldier fought well, but he was not
noticed, till one night. "Ah, Sir!" said the Hospitalier, "even then
our holy and beautiful house was in dire confusion, our garden
trodden down and desolate! One night, I heard strange choking sobs
as of one in anguish. I deemed that one of our wounded had in
delirium wandered into the garden, and was dying there. But I found-
-at the foot of the stone cross we set beside the fountain, where the
attempt on you, Sir, was made--this warrior lying, so writhing with
anguish, that I could scarce believe it was grief, not pain, that
thus wrought with him! I lifted him up, and spake of repentance and
pardon. No pardon for him, he said; it was here that he had slain
his brother! I spake long and earnestly with him, but he called
himself sacrilegious murderer again and again. Nay, he had even--
when after that wretched night you wot of, Sir, he left our House--in
his despair and hope to leave remorse behind, he had become a Moslem,
and fought in the Saracen ranks. All hope he spurned. No mercy for
him, was his cry! I would have deemed so--but oh! I thought of
Richard's parting hope; I remembered our German brethren's tale, how
the Holy Father, the Pope, said there was as little hope of pardon as
that his staff should bud and blossom; and lo, in one night it bore
bud and flower. I besought him for Richard's sake to let me strive
in prayer for him. All day we fought on the walls--all night, beside
Richard's cross, did he lie and weep and groan, and I would pray till
strength failed both of us. Day after day, night after night, and
still the miserable man looked gray with despair, and still he told
me that he knew Absolution would but mock his doom. He could fear,
but could not sorrow. And still I spoke of the Saviour's love of
man--and still I prayed, and all our house prayed with me, though
they knew not who the sinner was for whom I besought their prayers.
At last--it was the day when the towers on the walls had been won--I
came back from the breach, and scarce rested to eat bread, ere I went
on to the Cedar and the Cross. Beside it knelt Sir Simon. 'Father,'
he said, 'I trust that the pardon that takes away the sin of the
world, will take away mine. Grant me Absolution.' He was with us
when, ere dawn, such of us as still lived met for our last mass in
our beautiful chapel. He went forth with us to the wall. By and by,
the command was given that we should make a sally upon the enemy's
camp. We went back for the last time to our house to fetch our
horses; I knew there could be no return, and went for one last look
into our chapel, and at Richard's tomb. Upon it lay the knight,
horribly scathed with Greek fire--he had dragged him there to die.
He was dead, but his looks were upward; his face was as calm as
Richard's was, my Lord, when we laid him down by the fountain. And
now his message, my Lord. He bade me say, if I survived the siege,
that he had often cursed you for the worse revenge of letting him
live to his remorse--now he blessed you for sparing him to repent."

"And Richard's grave has passed to the Infidels!" said Edward, after
a long silence.

"Even as the graves of our brethren--the holiest Grave of all," said
the Knight Hospitalier.

"Cheer up and hope, Father," said the King. "Let me see peace and
order at home, and we will win back Acre, ay and Jerusalem, from the
Infidels. Alas! our young hopes and joys may never return; but, home
purified, then may God bless our arms beneath the Cross."

Fifteen years more, and in the beautiful Westminster Abbey, amid the
gorgeous tombs, there stood four sorrowful figures. A sturdy knight,
with bowed head and mournful look, carefully guided a white-haired,
white-bearded old man, while a beautiful matronly lady was handed by
her tall handsome son.

Among the richly inlaid shrines and monuments, they sought out one
the latest of all, but consisting of one enormous block of stone,
with no ornament save one slender band of inscription.

"Ah!" said the knight, "well do I remember the shipping of that stone
from Acre, little guessing its purpose!"

"Then it is indeed a stone from the ruined Temple of Jerusalem," said
the lady. "Read the inscription, my Son."

The young man read and translated -

"Edwardus Primus. Malleus Scotorum Pactum serva.
Edward the First. The Hammer of the Scots. Keep covenant."

"It was scarce worth while to bring a stone from Jerusalem, to mark
it with 'the Hammer of the Scots!'" said the lady.

"Alas, my cousin Edward!" sighed the beggar. "Ever with a great
scheme, ever going earnestly on to its fulfilment; with a mind too
far above those of other men to be understood or loved as thou
shouldst have been! Alack, that the Scottish temptation came between
thee and the brightness of thy glory! Art thou indeed gone--like
Richard--to Jerusalem; and shall I yet follow thee there? Let us
pray for the peace of his soul, children; for a greater and better
man lies here than England knows or heeds."


{1} Psalm cxxvi. 6, 7.


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