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The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 3 out of 5

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Dick, blowing out his lamp lest it should attract attention, led
the way up-stairs and along the corridor. In the brown chamber the
rope had been made fast to the frame of an exceeding heavy and
ancient bed. It had not been detached, and Dick, taking the coil
to the window, began to lower it slowly and cautiously into the
darkness of the night. Joan stood by; but as the rope lengthened,
and still Dick continued to pay it out, extreme fear began to
conquer her resolution.

"Dick," she said, "is it so deep? I may not essay it. I should
infallibly fall, good Dick."

It was just at the delicate moment of the operations that she
spoke. Dick started; the remainder of the coil slipped from his
grasp, and the end fell with a splash into the moat. Instantly,
from the battlement above, the voice of a sentinel cried, "Who

"A murrain!" cried Dick. "We are paid now! Down with you--take
the rope."

"I cannot," she cried, recoiling.

"An ye cannot, no more can I," said Shelton. "How can I swim the
moat without you? Do you desert me, then?"

"Dick," she gasped, "I cannot. The strength is gone from me."

"By the mass, then, we are all shent!" he shouted, stamping with
his foot; and then, hearing steps, he ran to the room door and
sought to close it.

Before he could shoot the bolt, strong arms were thrusting it back
upon him from the other side. He struggled for a second; then,
feeling himself overpowered, ran back to the window. The girl had
fallen against the wall in the embrasure of the window; she was
more than half insensible; and when he tried to raise her in his
arms, her body was limp and unresponsive.

At the same moment the men who had forced the door against him laid
hold upon him. The first he poinarded at a blow, and the others
falling back for a second in some disorder, he profited by the
chance, bestrode the window-sill, seized the cord in both hands,
and let his body slip.

The cord was knotted, which made it the easier to descend; but so
furious was Dick's hurry, and so small his experience of such
gymnastics, that he span round and round in mid-air like a criminal
upon a gibbet, and now beat his head, and now bruised his hands,
against the rugged stonework of the wall. The air roared in his
ears; he saw the stars overhead, and the reflected stars below him
in the moat, whirling like dead leaves before the tempest. And
then he lost hold, and fell, and soused head over ears into the icy

When he came to the surface his hand encountered the rope, which,
newly lightened of his weight, was swinging wildly to and fro.
There was a red glow overhead, and looking up, he saw, by the light
of several torches and a cresset full of burning coals, the
battlements lined with faces. He saw the men's eyes turning hither
and thither in quest of him; but he was too far below, the light
reached him not, and they looked in vain.

And now he perceived that the rope was considerably too long, and
he began to struggle as well as he could towards the other side of
the moat, still keeping his head above water. In this way he got
much more than halfway over; indeed the bank was almost within
reach, before the rope began to draw him back by its own weight.
Taking his courage in both hands, he left go and made a leap for
the trailing sprays of willow that had already, that same evening,
helped Sir Daniel's messenger to land. He went down, rose again,
sank a second time, and then his hand caught a branch, and with the
speed of thought he had dragged himself into the thick of the tree
and clung there, dripping and panting, and still half uncertain of
his escape.

But all this had not been done without a considerable splashing,
which had so far indicated his position to the men along the
battlements. Arrows and quarrels fell thick around him in the
darkness, thick like driving hail; and suddenly a torch was thrown
down--flared through the air in its swift passage--stuck for a
moment on the edge of the bank, where it burned high and lit up its
whole surroundings like a bonfire--and then, in a good hour for
Dick, slipped off, plumped into the moat, and was instantly

It had served its purpose. The marksmen had had time to see the
willow, and Dick ensconced among its boughs; and though the lad
instantly sprang higher up the bank, and ran for his life, he was
yet not quick enough to escape a shot. An arrow struck him in the
shoulder, another grazed his head.

The pain of his wounds lent him wings; and he had no sooner got
upon the level than he took to his heels and ran straight before
him in the dark, without a thought for the direction of his flight.

For a few steps missiles followed him, but these soon ceased; and
when at length he came to a halt and looked behind, he was already
a good way from the Moat House, though he could still see the
torches moving to and fro along its battlements.

He leaned against a tree, streaming with blood and water, bruised,
wounded, alone, and unarmed. For all that, he had saved his life
for that bout; and though Joanna remained behind in the power of
Sir Daniel, he neither blamed himself for an accident that it had
been beyond his power to prevent, nor did he augur any fatal
consequences to the girl herself. Sir Daniel was cruel, but he was
not likely to be cruel to a young gentlewoman who had other
protectors, willing and able to bring him to account. It was more
probable he would make haste to marry her to some friend of his

"Well," thought Dick, "between then and now I will find me the
means to bring that traitor under; for I think, by the mass, that I
be now absolved from any gratitude or obligation; and when war is
open, there is a fair chance for all."

In the meanwhile, here he was in a sore plight.

For some little way farther he struggled forward through the
forest; but what with the pain of his wounds, the darkness of the
night, and the extreme uneasiness and confusion of his mind, he
soon became equally unable to guide himself or to continue to push
through the close undergrowth, and he was fain at length to sit
down and lean his back against a tree.

When he awoke from something betwixt sleep and swooning, the grey
of the morning had begun to take the place of night. A little
chilly breeze was bustling among the trees, and as he still sat
staring before him, only half awake, he became aware of something
dark that swung to and fro among the branches, some hundred yards
in front of him. The progressive brightening of the day and the
return of his own senses at last enabled him to recognise the
object. It was a man hanging from the bough of a tall oak. His
head had fallen forward on his breast; but at every stronger puff
of wind his body span round and round, and his legs and arms
tossed, like some ridiculous plaything.

Dick clambered to his feet, and, staggering and leaning on the
tree-trunks as he went, drew near to this grim object.

The bough was perhaps twenty feet above the ground, and the poor
fellow had been drawn up so high by his executioners that his boots
swung clear above Dick's reach; and as his hood had been drawn over
his face, it was impossible to recognise the man.

Dick looked about him right and left; and at last he perceived that
the other end of the cord had been made fast to the trunk of a
little hawthorn which grew, thick with blossom, under the lofty
arcade of the oak. With his dagger, which alone remained to him of
all his arms, young Shelton severed the rope, and instantly, with a
dead thump, the corpse fell in a heap upon the ground.

Dick raised the hood; it was Throgmorton, Sir Daniel's messenger.
He had not gone far upon his errand. A paper, which had apparently
escaped the notice of the men of the Black Arrow, stuck from the
bosom of his doublet, and Dick, pulling it forth, found it was Sir
Daniel's letter to Lord Wensleydale.

"Come," thought he, "if the world changes yet again, I may have
here the wherewithal to shame Sir Daniel--nay, and perchance to
bring him to the block."

And he put the paper in his own bosom, said a prayer over the dead
man, and set forth again through the woods.

His fatigue and weakness increased; his ears sang, his steps
faltered, his mind at intervals failed him, so low had he been
brought by loss of blood. Doubtless he made many deviations from
his true path, but at last he came out upon the high-road, not very
far from Tunstall hamlet.

A rough voice bid him stand.

"Stand?" repeated Dick. "By the mass, but I am nearer falling."

And he suited the action to the word, and fell all his length upon
the road.

Two men came forth out of the thicket, each in green forest jerkin,
each with long-bow and quiver and short sword.

"Why, Lawless," said the younger of the two, "it is young Shelton."

"Ay, this will be as good as bread to John Amend-All," returned the
other. "Though, faith, he hath been to the wars. Here is a tear
in his scalp that must 'a' cost him many a good ounce of blood."

"And here," added Greensheve, "is a hole in his shoulder that must
have pricked him well. Who hath done this, think ye? If it be one
of ours, he may all to prayer; Ellis will give him a short shrift
and a long rope."

"Up with the cub," said Lawless. "Clap him on my back."

And then, when Dick had been hoisted to his shoulders, and he had
taken the lad's arms about his neck, and got a firm hold of him,
the ex-Grey Friar added:

"Keep ye the post, brother Greensheve. I will on with him by

So Greensheve returned to his ambush on the wayside, and Lawless
trudged down the hill, whistling as he went, with Dick, still in a
dead faint, comfortably settled on his shoulders.

The sun rose as he came out of the skirts of the wood and saw
Tunstall hamlet straggling up the opposite hill. All seemed quiet,
but a strong post of some half a score of archers lay close by the
bridge on either side of the road, and, as soon as they perceived
Lawless with his burthen, began to bestir themselves and set arrow
to string like vigilant sentries.

"Who goes?" cried the man in command.

"Will Lawless, by the rood--ye know me as well as your own hand,"
returned the outlaw, contemptuously.

"Give the word, Lawless," returned the other.

"Now, Heaven lighten thee, thou great fool," replied Lawless. "Did
I not tell it thee myself? But ye are all mad for this playing at
soldiers. When I am in the greenwood, give me greenwood ways; and
my word for this tide is: 'A fig for all mock soldiery!'"

"Lawless, ye but show an ill example; give us the word, fool
jester," said the commander of the post.

"And if I had forgotten it?" asked the other.

"An ye had forgotten it--as I know y' 'ave not--by the mass, I
would clap an arrow into your big body," returned the first.

"Nay, an y' are so ill a jester," said Lawless, "ye shall have your
word for me. 'Duckworth and Shelton' is the word; and here, to the
illustration, is Shelton on my shoulders, and to Duckworth do I
carry him."

"Pass, Lawless," said the sentry.

"And where is John?" asked the Grey Friar.

"He holdeth a court, by the mass, and taketh rents as to the manner
born!" cried another of the company.

So it proved. When Lawless got as far up the village as the little
inn, he found Ellis Duckworth surrounded by Sir Daniel's tenants,
and, by the right of his good company of archers, coolly taking
rents, and giving written receipts in return for them. By the
faces of the tenants, it was plain how little this proceeding
pleased them; for they argued very rightly that they would simply
have to pay them twice.

As soon as he knew what had brought Lawless, Ellis dismissed the
remainder of the tenants, and, with every mark of interest and
apprehension, conducted Dick into an inner chamber of the inn.
There the lad's hurts were looked to; and he was recalled, by
simple remedies, to consciousness.

"Dear lad," said Ellis, pressing his hand, "y' are in a friend's
hands that loved your father, and loves you for his sake. Rest ye
a little quietly, for ye are somewhat out of case. Then shall ye
tell me your story, and betwixt the two of us we shall find a
remedy for all."

A little later in the day, and after Dick had awakened from a
comfortable slumber to find himself still very weak, but clearer in
mind and easier in body, Ellis returned, and sitting down by the
bedside, begged him, in the name of his father, to relate the
circumstance of his escape from Tunstall Moat House. There was
something in the strength of Duckworth's frame, in the honesty of
his brown face, in the clearness and shrewdness of his eyes, that
moved Dick to obey him; and from first to last the lad told him the
story of his two days' adventures.

"Well," said Ellis, when he had done, "see what the kind saints
have done for you, Dick Shelton, not alone to save your body in so
numerous and deadly perils, but to bring you into my hands that
have no dearer wish than to assist your father's son. Be but true
to me--and I see y' are true--and betwixt you and me, we shall
bring that false-heart traitor to the death."

"Will ye assault the house?" asked Dick.

"I were mad, indeed, to think of it," returned Ellis. "He hath too
much power; his men gather to him; those that gave me the slip last
night, and by the mass came in so handily for you--those have made
him safe. Nay, Dick, to the contrary, thou and I and my brave
bowmen, we must all slip from this forest speedily, and leave Sir
Daniel free."

"My mind misgiveth me for Jack," said the lad.

"For Jack!" repeated Duckworth. "O, I see, for the wench! Nay,
Dick, I promise you, if there come talk of any marriage we shall
act at once; till then, or till the time is ripe, we shall all
disappear, even like shadows at morning; Sir Daniel shall look east
and west, and see none enemies; he shall think, by the mass, that
he hath dreamed awhile, and hath now awakened in his bed. But our
four eyes, Dick, shall follow him right close, and our four hands--
so help us all the army of the saints!--shall bring that traitor

Two days later Sir Daniel's garrison had grown to such a strength
that he ventured on a sally, and at the head of some two score
horsemen, pushed without opposition as far as Tunstall hamlet. Not
an arrow flew, not a man stirred in the thicket; the bridge was no
longer guarded, but stood open to all corners; and as Sir Daniel
crossed it, he saw the villagers looking timidly from their doors.

Presently one of them, taking heart of grace, came forward, and
with the lowliest salutations, presented a letter to the knight.

His face darkened as he read the contents. It ran thus:

To the most untrue and cruel gentylman, Sir Daniel Brackley,
Knyght, These:

I fynde ye were untrue and unkynd fro the first. Ye have my
father's blood upon your hands; let be, it will not wasshe. Some
day ye shall perish by my procurement, so much I let you to wytte;
and I let you to wytte farther, that if ye seek to wed to any other
the gentylwoman, Mistresse Joan Sedley, whom that I am bound upon a
great oath to wed myself, the blow will be very swift. The first
step therinne will be thy first step to the grave.




Months had passed away since Richard Shelton made his escape from
the hands of his guardian. These months had been eventful for
England. The party of Lancaster, which was then in the very
article of death, had once more raised its head. The Yorkists
defeated and dispersed, their leader butchered on the field, it
seemed,--for a very brief season in the winter following upon the
events already recorded, as if the House of Lancaster had finally
triumphed over its foes.

The small town of Shoreby-on-the-Till was full of the Lancastrian
nobles of the neighbourhood. Earl Risingham was there, with three
hundred men-at-arms; Lord Shoreby, with two hundred; Sir Daniel
himself, high in favour and once more growing rich on
confiscations, lay in a house of his own, on the main street, with
three-score men. The world had changed indeed.

It was a black, bitter cold evening in the first week of January,
with a hard frost, a high wind, and every likelihood of snow before
the morning.

In an obscure alehouse in a by-street near the harbour, three or
four men sat drinking ale and eating a hasty mess of eggs. They
were all likely, lusty, weather-beaten fellows, hard of hand, bold
of eye; and though they wore plain tabards, like country ploughmen,
even a drunken soldier might have looked twice before he sought a
quarrel in such company.

A little apart before the huge fire sat a younger man, almost a
boy, dressed in much the same fashion, though it was easy to see by
his looks that he was better born, and might have worn a sword, had
the time suited.

"Nay," said one of the men at the table, "I like it not. Ill will
come of it. This is no place for jolly fellows. A jolly fellow
loveth open country, good cover, and scarce foes; but here we are
shut in a town, girt about with enemies; and, for the bull's-eye of
misfortune, see if it snow not ere the morning."

"'Tis for Master Shelton there," said another, nodding his head
towards the lad before the fire.

"I will do much for Master Shelton," returned the first; "but to
come to the gallows for any man--nay, brothers, not that!"

The door of the inn opened, and another man entered hastily and
approached the youth before the fire.

"Master Shelton," he said, "Sir Daniel goeth forth with a pair of
links and four archers."

Dick (for this was our young friend) rose instantly to his feet.

"Lawless," he said, "ye will take John Capper's watch. Greensheve,
follow with me. Capper, lead forward. We will follow him this
time, an he go to York."

The next moment they were outside in the dark street, and Capper,
the man who had just come, pointed to where two torches flared in
the wind at a little distance.

The town was already sound asleep; no one moved upon the streets,
and there was nothing easier than to follow the party without
observation. The two link-bearers went first; next followed a
single man, whose long cloak blew about him in the wind; and the
rear was brought up by the four archers, each with his bow upon his
arm. They moved at a brisk walk, threading the intricate lanes and
drawing nearer to the shore.

"He hath gone each night in this direction?" asked Dick, in a

"This is the third night running, Master Shelton," returned Capper,
"and still at the same hour and with the same small following, as
though his end were secret."

Sir Daniel and his six men were now come to the outskirts of the
country. Shoreby was an open town, and though the Lancastrian
lords who lay there kept a strong guard on the main roads, it was
still possible to enter or depart unseen by any of the lesser
streets or across the open country.

The lane which Sir Daniel had been following came to an abrupt end.
Before him there was a stretch of rough down, and the noise of the
sea-surf was audible upon one hand. There were no guards in the
neighbourhood, nor any light in that quarter of the town.

Dick and his two outlaws drew a little closer to the object of
their chase, and presently, as they came forth from between the
houses and could see a little farther upon either hand, they were
aware of another torch drawing near from another direction.

"Hey," said Dick, "I smell treason."

Meanwhile, Sir Daniel had come to a full halt. The torches were
stuck into the sand, and the men lay down, as if to await the
arrival of the other party.

This drew near at a good rate. It consisted of four men only--a
pair of archers, a varlet with a link, and a cloaked gentleman
walking in their midst.

"Is it you, my lord?" cried Sir Daniel.

"It is I, indeed; and if ever true knight gave proof I am that
man," replied the leader of the second troop; "for who would not
rather face giants, sorcerers, or pagans, than this pinching cold?"

"My lord," returned Sir Daniel, "beauty will be the more beholden,
misdoubt it not. But shall we forth? for the sooner ye have seen
my merchandise, the sooner shall we both get home."

"But why keep ye her here, good knight?" inquired the other. "An
she be so young, and so fair, and so wealthy, why do ye not bring
her forth among her mates? Ye would soon make her a good marriage,
and no need to freeze your fingers and risk arrow-shots by going
abroad at such untimely seasons in the dark."

"I have told you, my lord," replied Sir Daniel, "the reason thereof
concerneth me only. Neither do I purpose to explain it farther.
Suffice it, that if ye be weary of your old gossip, Daniel
Brackley, publish it abroad that y' are to wed Joanna Sedley, and I
give you my word ye will be quit of him right soon. Ye will find
him with an arrow in his back."

Meantime the two gentlemen were walking briskly forward over the
down; the three torches going before them, stooping against the
wind and scattering clouds of smoke and tufts of flame, and the
rear brought up by the six archers.

Close upon the heels of these, Dick followed. He had, of course,
heard no word of this conversation; but he had recognised in the
second of the speakers old Lord Shoreby himself, a man of an
infamous reputation, whom even Sir Daniel affected, in public, to

Presently they came close down upon the beach. The air smelt salt;
the noise of the surf increased; and here, in a large walled
garden, there stood a small house of two storeys, with stables and
other offices.

The foremost torch-bearer unlocked a door in the wall, and after
the whole party had passed into the garden, again closed and locked
it on the other side.

Dick and his men were thus excluded from any farther following,
unless they should scale the wall and thus put their necks in a

They sat down in a tuft of furze and waited. The red glow of the
torches moved up and down and to and fro within the enclosure, as
if the link bearers steadily patrolled the garden.

Twenty minutes passed, and then the whole party issued forth again
upon the down; and Sir Daniel and the baron, after an elaborate
salutation, separated and turned severally homeward, each with his
own following of men and lights.

As soon as the sound of their steps had been swallowed by the wind,
Dick got to his feet as briskly as he was able, for he was stiff
and aching with the cold.

"Capper, ye will give me a back up," he said.

They advanced, all three, to the wall; Capper stooped, and Dick,
getting upon his shoulders, clambered on to the cope-stone.

"Now, Greensheve," whispered Dick, "follow me up here; lie flat
upon your face, that ye may be the less seen; and be ever ready to
give me a hand if I fall foully on the other side."

And so saying he dropped into the garden.

It was all pitch dark; there was no light in the house. The wind
whistled shrill among the poor shrubs, and the surf beat upon the
beach; there was no other sound. Cautiously Dick footed it forth,
stumbling among bushes, and groping with his hands; and presently
the crisp noise of gravel underfoot told him that he had struck
upon an alley.

Here he paused, and taking his crossbow from where he kept it
concealed under his long tabard, he prepared it for instant action,
and went forward once more with greater resolution and assurance.
The path led him straight to the group of buildings.

All seemed to be sorely dilapidated: the windows of the house were
secured by crazy shutters; the stables were open and empty; there
was no hay in the hay-loft, no corn in the corn-box. Any one would
have supposed the place to be deserted. But Dick had good reason
to think otherwise. He continued his inspection, visiting the
offices, trying all the windows. At length he came round to the
sea-side of the house, and there, sure enough, there burned a pale
light in one of the upper windows.

He stepped back a little way, till he thought he could see the
movement of a shadow on the wall of the apartment. Then he
remembered that, in the stable, his groping hand had rested for a
moment on a ladder, and he returned with all despatch to bring it.
The ladder was very short, but yet, by standing on the topmost
round, he could bring his hands as high as the iron bars of the
window; and seizing these, he raised his body by main force until
his eyes commanded the interior of the room.

Two persons were within; the first he readily knew to be Dame
Hatch; the second, a tall and beautiful and grave young lady, in a
long, embroidered dress--could that be Joanna Sedley? his old wood-
companion, Jack, whom he had thought to punish with a belt?

He dropped back again to the top round of the ladder in a kind of
amazement. He had never thought of his sweetheart as of so
superior a being, and he was instantly taken with a feeling of
diffidence. But he had little opportunity for thought. A low
"Hist!" sounded from close by, and he hastened to descend the

"Who goes?" he whispered.

"Greensheve," came the reply, in tones similarly guarded.

"What want ye?" asked Dick.

"The house is watched, Master Shelton," returned the outlaw. "We
are not alone to watch it; for even as I lay on my belly on the
wall I saw men prowling in the dark, and heard them whistle softly
one to the other."

"By my sooth," said Dick, "but this is passing strange! Were they
not men of Sir Daniel's?"

"Nay, sir, that they were not," returned Greensheve; "for if I have
eyes in my head, every man-Jack of them weareth me a white badge in
his bonnet, something chequered with dark."

"White, chequered with dark," repeated Dick. "Faith, 'tis a badge
I know not. It is none of this country's badges. Well, an that be
so, let us slip as quietly forth from this garden as we may; for
here we are in an evil posture for defence. Beyond all question
there are men of Sir Daniel's in that house, and to be taken
between two shots is a beggarman's position. Take me this ladder;
I must leave it where I found it."

They returned the ladder to the stable, and groped their way to the
place where they had entered.

Capper had taken Greensheve's position on the cope, and now he
leaned down his hand, and, first one and then the other, pulled
them up.

Cautiously and silently, they dropped again upon the other side;
nor did they dare to speak until they had returned to their old
ambush in the gorse.

"Now, John Capper," said Dick, "back with you to Shoreby, even as
for your life. Bring me instantly what men ye can collect. Here
shall be the rendezvous; or if the men be scattered and the day be
near at hand before they muster, let the place be something farther
back, and by the entering in of the town. Greensheve and I lie
here to watch. Speed ye, John Capper, and the saints aid you to
despatch. And now, Greensheve," he continued, as soon as Capper
had departed, "let thou and I go round about the garden in a wide
circuit. I would fain see whether thine eyes betrayed thee."

Keeping well outwards from the wall, and profiting by every height
and hollow, they passed about two sides, beholding nothing. On the
third side the garden wall was built close upon the beach, and to
preserve the distance necessary to their purpose, they had to go
some way down upon the sands. Although the tide was still pretty
far out, the surf was so high, and the sands so flat, that at each
breaker a great sheet of froth and water came careering over the
expanse, and Dick and Greensheve made this part of their inspection
wading, now to the ankles, and now as deep as to the knees, in the
salt and icy waters of the German Ocean.

Suddenly, against the comparative whiteness of the garden wall, the
figure of a man was seen, like a faint Chinese shadow, violently
signalling with both arms. As he dropped again to the earth,
another arose a little farther on and repeated the same
performance. And so, like a silent watch word, these
gesticulations made the round of the beleaguered garden.

"They keep good watch," Dick whispered.

"Let us back to land, good master," answered Greensheve. "We stand
here too open; for, look ye, when the seas break heavy and white
out there behind us, they shall see us plainly against the foam."

"Ye speak sooth," returned Dick. "Ashore with us, right speedily."


Thoroughly drenched and chilled, the two adventurers returned to
their position in the gorse.

"I pray Heaven that Capper make good speed!" said Dick. "I vow a
candle to St. Mary of Shoreby if he come before the hour!"

"Y' are in a hurry, Master Dick?" asked Greensheve.

"Ay, good fellow," answered Dick; "for in that house lieth my lady,
whom I love, and who should these be that lie about her secretly by
night? Unfriends, for sure!"

"Well," returned Greensheve, "an John come speedily, we shall give
a good account of them. They are not two score at the outside--I
judge so by the spacing of their sentries--and, taken where they
are, lying so widely, one score would scatter them like sparrows.
And yet, Master Dick, an she be in Sir Daniel's power already, it
will little hurt that she should change into another's. Who should
these be?"

"I do suspect the Lord of Shoreby," Dick replied. "When came

"They began to come, Master Dick," said Greensheve, "about the time
ye crossed the wall. I had not lain there the space of a minute
ere I marked the first of the knaves crawling round the corner."

The last light had been already extinguished in the little house
when they were wading in the wash of the breakers, and it was
impossible to predict at what moment the lurking men about the
garden wall might make their onslaught. Of two evils, Dick
preferred the least. He preferred that Joanna should remain under
the guardianship of Sir Daniel rather than pass into the clutches
of Lord Shoreby; and his mind was made up, if the house should be
assaulted, to come at once to the relief of the besieged.

But the time passed, and still there was no movement. From quarter
of an hour to quarter of an hour the same signal passed about the
garden wall, as if the leader desired to assure himself of the
vigilance of his scattered followers; but in every other particular
the neighbourhood of the little house lay undisturbed.

Presently Dick's reinforcements began to arrive. The night was not
yet old before nearly a score of men crouched beside him in the

Separating these into two bodies, he took the command of the
smaller himself, and entrusted the larger to the leadership of

"Now, Kit," said he to this last, "take me your men to the near
angle of the garden wall upon the beach. Post them strongly, and
wait till that ye hear me falling on upon the other side. It is
those upon the sea front that I would fain make certain of, for
there will be the leader. The rest will run; even let them. And
now, lads, let no man draw an arrow; ye will but hurt friends.
Take to the steel, and keep to the steel; and if we have the
uppermost, I promise every man of you a gold noble when I come to
mine estate."

Out of the odd collection of broken men, thieves, murderers, and
ruined peasantry, whom Duckworth had gathered together to serve the
purposes of his revenge, some of the boldest and the most
experienced in war had volunteered to follow Richard Shelton. The
service of watching Sir Daniel's movements in the town of Shoreby
had from the first been irksome to their temper, and they had of
late begun to grumble loudly and threaten to disperse. The
prospect of a sharp encounter and possible spoils restored them to
good humour, and they joyfully prepared for battle.

Their long tabards thrown aside, they appeared, some in plain green
jerkins, and some in stout leathern jacks; under their hoods many
wore bonnets strengthened by iron plates; and, for offensive
armour, swords, daggers, a few stout boar-spears, and a dozen of
bright bills, put them in a posture to engage even regular feudal
troops. The bows, quivers, and tabards were concealed among the
gorse, and the two bands set resolutely forward.

Dick, when he had reached the other side of the house, posted his
six men in a line, about twenty yards from the garden wall, and
took position himself a few paces in front. Then they all shouted
with one voice, and closed upon the enemy.

These, lying widely scattered, stiff with cold, and taken at
unawares, sprang stupidly to their feet, and stood undecided.
Before they had time to get their courage about them, or even to
form an idea of the number and mettle of their assailants, a
similar shout of onslaught sounded in their ears from the far side
of the enclosure. Thereupon they gave themselves up for lost and

In this way the two small troops of the men of the Black Arrow
closed upon the sea front of the garden wall, and took a part of
the strangers, as it were, between two fires; while the whole of
the remainder ran for their lives in different directions, and were
soon scattered in the darkness.

For all that, the fight was but beginning. Dick's outlaws,
although they had the advantage of the surprise, were still
considerably outnumbered by the men they had surrounded. The tide
had flowed, in the meanwhile; the beach was narrowed to a strip;
and on this wet field, between the surf and the garden wall, there
began, in the darkness, a doubtful, furious, and deadly contest.

The strangers were well armed; they fell in silence upon their
assailants; and the affray became a series of single combats.
Dick, who had come first into the mellay, was engaged by three; the
first he cut down at the first blow, but the other two coming upon
him, hotly, he was fain to give ground before their onset. One of
these two was a huge fellow, almost a giant for stature, and armed
with a two-handed sword, which he brandished like a switch.
Against this opponent, with his reach of arm and the length and
weight of his weapon, Dick and his bill were quite defenceless; and
had the other continued to join vigorously in the attack, the lad
must have indubitably fallen. This second man, however, less in
stature and slower in his movements, paused for a moment to peer
about him in the darkness, and to give ear to the sounds of the

The giant still pursued his advantage, and still Dick fled before
him, spying for his chance. Then the huge blade flashed and
descended, and the lad, leaping on one side and running in, slashed
sideways and upwards with his bill. A roar of agony responded,
and, before the wounded man could raise his formidable weapon,
Dick, twice repeating his blow, had brought him to the ground.

The next moment he was engaged, upon more equal terms, with his
second pursuer. Here there was no great difference in size, and
though the man, fighting with sword and dagger against a bill, and
being wary and quick of fence, had a certain superiority of arms,
Dick more than made it up by his greater agility on foot. Neither
at first gained any obvious advantage; but the older man was still
insensibly profiting by the ardour of the younger to lead him where
he would; and presently Dick found that they had crossed the whole
width of the beach, and were now fighting above the knees in the
spume and bubble of the breakers. Here his own superior activity
was rendered useless; he found himself more or less at the
discretion of his foe; yet a little, and he had his back turned
upon his own men, and saw that this adroit and skilful adversary
was bent upon drawing him farther and farther away.

Dick ground his teeth. He determined to decide the combat
instantly; and when the wash of the next wave had ebbed and left
them dry, he rushed in, caught a blow upon his bill, and leaped
right at the throat of his opponent. The man went down backwards,
with Dick still upon the top of him; and the next wave, speedily
succeeding to the last, buried him below a rush of water.

While he was still submerged, Dick forced his dagger from his
grasp, and rose to his feet, victorious.

"Yield ye!" he said. "I give you life."

"I yield me," said the other, getting to his knees. "Ye fight,
like a young man, ignorantly and foolhardily; but, by the array of
the saints, ye fight bravely!"

Dick turned to the beach. The combat was still raging doubtfully
in the night; over the hoarse roar of the breakers steel clanged
upon steel, and cries of pain and the shout of battle resounded.

"Lead me to your captain, youth," said the conquered knight. "It
is fit this butchery should cease."

"Sir," replied Dick, "so far as these brave fellows have a captain,
the poor gentleman who here addresses you is he."

"Call off your dogs, then, and I will bid my villains hold,"
returned the other.

There was something noble both in the voice and manner of his late
opponent, and Dick instantly dismissed all fears of treachery.

"Lay down your arms, men!" cried the stranger knight. "I have
yielded me, upon promise of life."

The tone of the stranger was one of absolute command, and almost
instantly the din and confusion of the mellay ceased.

"Lawless," cried Dick, "are ye safe?"

"Ay," cried Lawless, "safe and hearty."

"Light me the lantern," said Dick.

"Is not Sir Daniel here?" inquired the knight.

"Sir Daniel?" echoed Dick. "Now, by the rood, I pray not. It
would go ill with me if he were."

"Ill with YOU, fair sir?" inquired the other. "Nay, then, if ye be
not of Sir Daniel's party, I profess I comprehend no longer.
Wherefore, then, fell ye upon mine ambush? in what quarrel, my
young and very fiery friend? to what earthly purpose? and, to make
a clear end of questioning, to what good gentleman have I

But before Dick could answer, a voice spoke in the darkness from
close by. Dick could see the speaker's black and white badge, and
the respectful salute which he addressed to his superior.

"My lord," said he, "if these gentlemen be unfriends to Sir Daniel,
it is pity, indeed, we should have been at blows with them; but it
were tenfold greater that either they or we should linger here.
The watchers in the house--unless they be all dead or deaf--have
heard our hammering this quarter-hour agone; instantly they will
have signalled to the town; and unless we be the livelier in our
departure, we are like to be taken, both of us, by a fresh foe."

"Hawksley is in the right," added the lord. "How please ye, sir?
Whither shall we march?"

"Nay, my lord," said Dick, "go where ye will for me. I do begin to
suspect we have some ground of friendship, and if, indeed, I began
our acquaintance somewhat ruggedly, I would not churlishly
continue. Let us, then, separate, my lord, you laying your right
hand in mine; and at the hour and place that ye shall name, let us
encounter and agree."

"Y' are too trustful, boy," said the other; "but this time your
trust is not misplaced. I will meet you at the point of day at St.
Bride's Cross. Come, lads, follow!"

The strangers disappeared from the scene with a rapidity that
seemed suspicious; and, while the outlaws fell to the congenial
task of rifling the dead bodies, Dick made once more the circuit of
the garden wall to examine the front of the house. In a little
upper loophole of the roof he beheld a light set; and as it would
certainly be visible in town from the back windows of Sir Daniel's
mansion, he doubted not that this was the signal feared by
Hawksley, and that ere long the lances of the Knight of Tunstall
would arrive upon the scene.

He put his ear to the ground, and it seemed to him as if he heard a
jarring and hollow noise from townward. Back to the beach he went
hurrying. But the work was already done; the last body was
disarmed and stripped to the skin, and four fellows were already
wading seaward to commit it to the mercies of the deep.

A few minutes later, when there debauched out of the nearest lanes
of Shoreby some two score horsemen, hastily arrayed and moving at
the gallop of their steeds, the neighbourhood of the house beside
the sea was entirely silent and deserted.

Meanwhile, Dick and his men had returned to the ale-house of the
Goat and Bagpipes to snatch some hours of sleep before the morning


St. Bride's cross stood a little way back from Shoreby, on the
skirts of Tunstall Forest. Two roads met: one, from Holywood
across the forest; one, that road from Risingham down which we saw
the wrecks of a Lancastrian army fleeing in disorder. Here the two
joined issue, and went on together down the hill to Shoreby; and a
little back from the point of junction, the summit of a little
knoll was crowned by the ancient and weather-beaten cross.

Here, then, about seven in the morning, Dick arrived. It was as
cold as ever; the earth was all grey and silver with the hoarfrost,
and the day began to break in the east with many colours of purple
and orange.

Dick set him down upon the lowest step of the cross, wrapped
himself well in his tabard, and looked vigilantly upon all sides.
He had not long to wait. Down the road from Holywood a gentleman
in very rich and bright armour, and wearing over that a surcoat of
the rarest furs, came pacing on a splendid charger. Twenty yards
behind him followed a clump of lances; but these halted as soon as
they came in view of the trysting-place, while the gentleman in the
fur surcoat continued to advance alone.

His visor was raised, and showed a countenance of great command and
dignity, answerable to the richness of his attire and arms. And it
was with some confusion of manner that Dick arose from the cross
and stepped down the bank to meet his prisoner.

"I thank you, my lord, for your exactitude," he said, louting very
low. "Will it please your lordship to set foot to earth?"

"Are ye here alone, young man?" inquired the other,

"I was not so simple," answered Dick; "and, to be plain with your
lordship, the woods upon either hand of this cross lie full of mine
honest fellows lying on their weapons."

"Y' 'ave done wisely," said the lord. "It pleaseth me the rather,
since last night ye fought foolhardily, and more like a salvage
Saracen lunatic than any Christian warrior. But it becomes not me
to complain that had the undermost."

"Ye had the undermost indeed, my lord, since ye so fell," returned
Dick; "but had the waves not holpen me, it was I that should have
had the worst. Ye were pleased to make me yours with several
dagger marks, which I still carry. And in fine, my lord, methinks
I had all the danger, as well as all the profit, of that little
blind-man's mellay on the beach."

"Y' are shrewd enough to make light of it, I see," returned the

"Nay, my lord, not shrewd," replied Dick, "in that I shoot at no
advantage to myself. But when, by the light of this new day, I see
how stout a knight hath yielded, not to my arms alone, but to
fortune, and the darkness, and the surf--and how easily the battle
had gone otherwise, with a soldier so untried and rustic as myself-
-think it not strange, my lord, if I feel confounded with my

"Ye speak well," said the stranger. "Your name?"

"My name, an't like you, is Shelton," answered Dick.

"Men call me the Lord Foxham," added the other.

"Then, my lord, and under your good favour, ye are guardian to the
sweetest maid in England," replied Dick; "and for your ransom, and
the ransom of such as were taken with you on the beach, there will
be no uncertainty of terms. I pray you, my lord, of your goodwill
and charity, yield me the hand of my mistress, Joan Sedley; and
take ye, upon the other part, your liberty, the liberty of these
your followers, and (if ye will have it) my gratitude and service
till I die."

"But are ye not ward to Sir Daniel? Methought, if y' are Harry
Shelton's son, that I had heard it so reported," said Lord Foxham.

"Will it please you, my lord, to alight? I would fain tell you
fully who I am, how situate, and why so bold in my demands.
Beseech you, my lord, take place upon these steps, hear me to a
full end, and judge me with allowance."

And so saying, Dick lent a hand to Lord Foxham to dismount; led him
up the knoll to the cross; installed him in the place where he had
himself been sitting; and standing respectfully before his noble
prisoner, related the story of his fortunes up to the events of the
evening before.

Lord Foxham listened gravely, and when Dick had done, "Master
Shelton," he said, "ye are a most fortunate-unfortunate young
gentleman; but what fortune y' 'ave had, that ye have amply
merited; and what unfortune, ye have noways deserved. Be of a good
cheer; for ye have made a friend who is devoid neither of power nor
favour. For yourself, although it fits not for a person of your
birth to herd with outlaws, I must own ye are both brave and
honourable; very dangerous in battle, right courteous in peace; a
youth of excellent disposition and brave bearing. For your
estates, ye will never see them till the world shall change again;
so long as Lancaster hath the strong hand, so long shall Sir Daniel
enjoy them for his own. For my ward, it is another matter; I had
promised her before to a gentleman, a kinsman of my house, one
Hamley; the promise is old--"

"Ay, my lord, and now Sir Daniel hath promised her to my Lord
Shoreby," interrupted Dick. "And his promise, for all it is but
young, is still the likelier to be made good."

"'Tis the plain truth," returned his lordship. "And considering,
moreover, that I am your prisoner, upon no better composition than
my bare life, and over and above that, that the maiden is unhappily
in other hands, I will so far consent. Aid me with your good
fellows" -

"My lord," cried Dick, "they are these same outlaws that ye blame
me for consorting with."

"Let them be what they will, they can fight," returned Lord Foxham.
"Help me, then; and if between us we regain the maid, upon my
knightly honour, she shall marry you!"

Dick bent his knee before his prisoner; but he, leaping up lightly
from the cross, caught the lad up and embraced him like a son.

"Come," he said, "an y' are to marry Joan, we must be early


An hour thereafter, Dick was back at the Goat and Bagpipes,
breaking his fast, and receiving the report of his messengers and
sentries. Duckworth was still absent from Shoreby; and this was
frequently the case, for he played many parts in the world, shared
many different interests, and conducted many various affairs. He
had founded that fellowship of the Black Arrow, as a ruined man
longing for vengeance and money; and yet among those who knew him
best, he was thought to be the agent and emissary of the great
King-maker of England, Richard, Earl of Warwick.

In his absence, at any rate, it fell upon Richard Shelton to
command affairs in Shoreby; and, as he sat at meat, his mind was
full of care, and his face heavy with consideration. It had been
determined, between him and the Lord Foxham, to make one bold
stroke that evening, and, by brute force, to set Joanna free. The
obstacles, however, were many; and as one after another of his
scouts arrived, each brought him more discomfortable news.

Sir Daniel was alarmed by the skirmish of the night before. He had
increased the garrison of the house in the garden; but not content
with that, he had stationed horsemen in all the neighbouring lanes,
so that he might have instant word of any movement. Meanwhile, in
the court of his mansion, steeds stood saddled, and the riders,
armed at every point, awaited but the signal to ride.

The adventure of the night appeared more and more difficult of
execution, till suddenly Dick's countenance lightened.

"Lawless!" he cried, "you that were a shipman, can ye steal me a

"Master Dick," replied Lawless, "if ye would back me, I would agree
to steal York Minster."

Presently after, these two set forth and descended to the harbour.
It was a considerable basin, lying among sand hills, and surrounded
with patches of down, ancient ruinous lumber, and tumble-down slums
of the town. Many decked ships and many open boats either lay
there at anchor, or had been drawn up on the beach. A long
duration of bad weather had driven them from the high seas into the
shelter of the port; and the great trooping of black clouds, and
the cold squalls that followed one another, now with a sprinkling
of dry snow, now in a mere swoop of wind, promised no improvement
but rather threatened a more serious storm in the immediate future.

The seamen, in view of the cold and the wind, had for the most part
slunk ashore, and were now roaring and singing in the shoreside
taverns. Many of the ships already rode unguarded at their
anchors; and as the day wore on, and the weather offered no
appearance of improvement, the number was continually being
augmented. It was to these deserted ships, and, above all, to
those of them that lay far out, that Lawless directed his
attention; while Dick, seated upon an anchor that was half embedded
in the sand, and giving ear, now to the rude, potent, and boding
voices of the gale, and now to the hoarse singing of the shipmen in
a neighbouring tavern, soon forgot his immediate surroundings and
concerns in the agreeable recollection of Lord Foxham's promise.

He was disturbed by a touch upon his shoulder. It was Lawless,
pointing to a small ship that lay somewhat by itself, and within
but a little of the harbour mouth, where it heaved regularly and
smoothly on the entering swell. A pale gleam of winter sunshine
fell, at that moment, on the vessel's deck, relieving her against a
bank of scowling cloud; and in this momentary glitter Dick could
see a couple of men hauling the skiff alongside.

"There, sir," said Lawless, "mark ye it well! There is the ship
for to-night."

Presently the skiff put out from the vessel's side, and the two
men, keeping her head well to the wind, pulled lustily for shore.
Lawless turned to a loiterer.

"How call ye her?" he asked, pointing to the little vessel.

"They call her the Good Hope, of Dartmouth," replied the loiterer.
"Her captain, Arblaster by name. He pulleth the bow oar in yon

This was all that Lawless wanted. Hurriedly thanking the man, he
moved round the shore to a certain sandy creek, for which the skiff
was heading. There he took up his position, and as soon as they
were within earshot, opened fire on the sailors of the Good Hope.

"What! Gossip Arblaster!" he cried. "Why, ye be well met; nay,
gossip, ye be right well met, upon the rood! And is that the Good
Hope? Ay, I would know her among ten thousand!--a sweet shear, a
sweet boat! But marry come up, my gossip, will ye drink? I have
come into mine estate which doubtless ye remember to have heard on.
I am now rich; I have left to sail upon the sea; I do sail now, for
the most part, upon spiced ale. Come, fellow; thy hand upon 't!
Come, drink with an old shipfellow!"

Skipper Arblaster, a long-faced, elderly, weather-beaten man, with
a knife hanging about his neck by a plaited cord, and for all the
world like any modern seaman in his gait and bearing, had hung back
in obvious amazement and distrust. But the name of an estate, and
a certain air of tipsified simplicity and good-fellowship which
Lawless very well affected, combined to conquer his suspicious
jealousy; his countenance relaxed, and he at once extended his open
hand and squeezed that of the outlaw in a formidable grasp.

"Nay," he said, "I cannot mind you. But what o' that? I would
drink with any man, gossip, and so would my man Tom. Man Tom," he
added, addressing his follower, "here is my gossip, whose name I
cannot mind, but no doubt a very good seaman. Let's go drink with
him and his shore friend."

Lawless led the way, and they were soon seated in an alehouse,
which, as it was very new, and stood in an exposed and solitary
station, was less crowded than those nearer to the centre of the
port. It was but a shed of timber, much like a blockhouse in the
backwoods of to-day, and was coarsely furnished with a press or
two, a number of naked benches, and boards set upon barrels to play
the part of tables. In the middle, and besieged by half a hundred
violent draughts, a fire of wreck-wood blazed and vomited thick

"Ay, now," said Lawless, "here is a shipman's joy--a good fire and
a good stiff cup ashore, with foul weather without and an off-sea
gale a-snoring in the roof ! Here's to the Good Hope! May she
ride easy!"

"Ay," said Skipper Arblaster, "'tis good weather to be ashore in,
that is sooth. Man Tom, how say ye to that? Gossip, ye speak
well, though I can never think upon your name; but ye speak very
well. May the Good Hope ride easy! Amen!"

"Friend Dickon," resumed Lawless, addressing his commander, "ye
have certain matters on hand, unless I err? Well, prithee be about
them incontinently. For here I be with the choice of all good
company, two tough old shipmen; and till that ye return I will go
warrant these brave fellows will bide here and drink me cup for
cup. We are not like shore-men, we old, tough tarry-Johns!"

"It is well meant," returned the skipper. "Ye can go, boy; for I
will keep your good friend and my good gossip company till curfew--
ay, and by St. Mary, till the sun get up again! For, look ye, when
a man hath been long enough at sea, the salt getteth me into the
clay upon his bones; and let him drink a draw-well, he will never
be quenched."

Thus encouraged upon all hands, Dick rose, saluted his company, and
going forth again into the gusty afternoon, got him as speedily as
he might to the Goat and Bagpipes. Thence he sent word to my Lord
Foxham that, so soon as ever the evening closed, they would have a
stout boat to keep the sea in. And then leading along with him a
couple of outlaws who had some experience of the sea, he returned
himself to the harbour and the little sandy creek.

The skiff of the Good Hope lay among many others, from which it was
easily distinguished by its extreme smallness and fragility.
Indeed, when Dick and his two men had taken their places, and begun
to put forth out of the creek into the open harbour, the little
cockle dipped into the swell and staggered under every gust of
wind, like a thing upon the point of sinking.

The Good Hope, as we have said, was anchored far out, where the
swell was heaviest. No other vessel lay nearer than several
cables' length; those that were the nearest were themselves
entirely deserted; and as the skiff approached, a thick flurry of
snow and a sudden darkening of the weather further concealed the
movements of the outlaws from all possible espial. In a trice they
had leaped upon the heaving deck, and the skiff was dancing at the
stern. The Good Hope was captured.

She was a good stout boat, decked in the bows and amidships, but
open in the stern. She carried one mast, and was rigged between a
felucca and a lugger. It would seem that Skipper Arblaster had
made an excellent venture, for the hold was full of pieces of
French wine; and in the little cabin, besides the Virgin Mary in
the bulkhead which proved the captain's piety, there were many
lockfast chests and cupboards, which showed him to be rich and

A dog, who was the sole occupant of the vessel, furiously barked
and bit the heels of the boarders; but he was soon kicked into the
cabin, and the door shut upon his just resentment. A lamp was lit
and fixed in the shrouds to mark the vessel clearly from the shore;
one of the wine pieces in the hold was broached, and a cup of
excellent Gascony emptied to the adventure of the evening; and
then, while one of the outlaws began to get ready his bow and
arrows and prepare to hold the ship against all comers, the other
hauled in the skiff and got overboard, where he held on, waiting
for Dick.

"Well, Jack, keep me a good watch," said the young commander,
preparing to follow his subordinate. "Ye will do right well."

"Why," returned Jack, "I shall do excellent well indeed, so long as
we lie here; but once we put the nose of this poor ship outside the
harbour-- See, there she trembles! Nay, the poor shrew heard the
words, and the heart misgave her in her oak-tree ribs. But look,
Master Dick! how black the weather gathers!"

The darkness ahead was, indeed, astonishing. Great billows heaved
up out of the blackness, one after another; and one after another
the Good Hope buoyantly climbed, and giddily plunged upon the
further side. A thin sprinkle of snow and thin flakes of foam came
flying, and powdered the deck; and the wind harped dismally among
the rigging.

"In sooth, it looketh evilly," said Dick. "But what cheer! 'Tis
but a squall, and presently it will blow over." But, in spite of
his words, he was depressingly affected by the bleak disorder of
the sky and the wailing and fluting of the wind; and as he got over
the side of the Good Hope and made once more for the landing-creek
with the best speed of oars, he crossed himself devoutly, and
recommended to Heaven the lives of all who should adventure on the

At the landing-creek there had already gathered about a dozen of
the outlaws. To these the skiff was left, and they were bidden
embark without delay.

A little further up the beach Dick found Lord Foxham hurrying in
quest of him, his face concealed with a dark hood, and his bright
armour covered by a long russet mantle of a poor appearance.

"Young Shelton," he said, "are ye for sea, then, truly?"

"My lord," replied Richard, "they lie about the house with
horsemen; it may not be reached from the land side without alarum;
and Sir Daniel once advertised of our adventure, we can no more
carry it to a good end than, saving your presence, we could ride
upon the wind. Now, in going round by sea, we do run some peril by
the elements; but, what much outweighteth all, we have a chance to
make good our purpose and bear off the maid."

"Well," returned Lord Foxham, "lead on. I will, in some sort,
follow you for shame's sake; but I own I would I were in bed."

"Here, then," said Dick. "Hither we go to fetch our pilot."

And he led the way to the rude alehouse where he had given
rendezvous to a portion of his men. Some of these he found
lingering round the door outside; others had pushed more boldly in,
and, choosing places as near as possible to where they saw their
comrade, gathered close about Lawless and the two shipmen. These,
to judge by the distempered countenance and cloudy eye, had long
since gone beyond the boundaries of moderation; and as Richard
entered, closely followed by Lord Foxham, they were all three
tuning up an old, pitiful sea-ditty, to the chorus of the wailing
of the gale.

The young leader cast a rapid glance about the shed. The fire had
just been replenished, and gave forth volumes of black smoke, so
that it was difficult to see clearly in the further corners. It
was plain, however, that the outlaws very largely outnumbered the
remainder of the guests. Satisfied upon this point, in case of any
failure in the operation of his plan, Dick strode up to the table
and resumed his place upon the bench.

"Hey?" cried the skipper, tipsily, "who are ye, hey?"

"I want a word with you without, Master Arblaster," returned Dick;
"and here is what we shall talk of." And he showed him a gold
noble in the glimmer of the firelight.

The shipman's eyes burned, although he still failed to recognise
our hero.

"Ay, boy," he said, "I am with you. Gossip, I will be back anon.
Drink fair, gossip;" and, taking Dick's arm to steady his uneven
steps, he walked to the door of the alehouse.

As soon as he was over the threshold, ten strong arms had seized
and bound him; and in two minutes more, with his limbs trussed one
to another, and a good gag in his mouth, he had been tumbled neck
and crop into a neighbouring hay-barn. Presently, his man Tom,
similarly secured, was tossed beside him, and the pair were left to
their uncouth reflections for the night.

And now, as the time for concealment had gone by, Lord Foxham's
followers were summoned by a preconcerted signal, and the party,
boldly taking possession of as many boats as their numbers
required, pulled in a flotilla for the light in the rigging of the
ship. Long before the last man had climbed to the deck of the Good
Hope, the sound of furious shouting from the shore showed that a
part, at least, of the seamen had discovered the loss of their

But it was now too late, whether for recovery or revenge. Out of
some forty fighting men now mustered in the stolen ship, eight had
been to sea, and could play the part of mariners. With the aid of
these, a slice of sail was got upon her. The cable was cut.
Lawless, vacillating on his feet, and still shouting the chorus of
sea-ballads, took the long tiller in his hands: and the Good Hope
began to flit forward into the darkness of the night, and to face
the great waves beyond the harbour bar.

Richard took his place beside the weather rigging. Except for the
ship's own lantern, and for some lights in Shoreby town, that were
already fading to leeward, the whole world of air was as black as
in a pit. Only from time to time, as the Good Hope swooped dizzily
down into the valley of the rollers, a crest would break--a great
cataract of snowy foam would leap in one instant into being--and,
in an instant more, would stream into the wake and vanish.

Many of the men lay holding on and praying aloud; many more were
sick, and had crept into the bottom, where they sprawled among the
cargo. And what with the extreme violence of the motion, and the
continued drunken bravado of Lawless, still shouting and singing at
the helm, the stoutest heart on board may have nourished a shrewd
misgiving as to the result.

But Lawless, as if guided by an instinct, steered the ship across
the breakers, struck the lee of a great sandbank, where they sailed
for awhile in smooth water, and presently after laid her alongside
a rude, stone pier, where she was hastily made fast, and lay
ducking and grinding in the dark.


The pier was not far distant from the house in which Joanna lay; it
now only remained to get the men on shore, to surround the house
with a strong party, burst in the door and carry off the captive.
They might then regard themselves as done with the Good Hope; it
had placed them on the rear of their enemies; and the retreat,
whether they should succeed or fail in the main enterprise, would
be directed with a greater measure of hope in the direction of the
forest and my Lord Foxham's reserve.

To get the men on shore, however, was no easy task; many had been
sick, all were pierced with cold; the promiscuity and disorder on
board had shaken their discipline; the movement of the ship and the
darkness of the night had cowed their spirits. They made a rush
upon the pier; my lord, with his sword drawn on his own retainers,
must throw himself in front; and this impulse of rabblement was not
restrained without a certain clamour of voices, highly to be
regretted in the case.

When some degree of order had been restored, Dick, with a few
chosen men, set forth in advance. The darkness on shore, by
contrast with the flashing of the surf, appeared before him like a
solid body; and the howling and whistling of the gale drowned any
lesser noise.

He had scarce reached the end of the pier, however, when there fell
a lull of the wind; and in this he seemed to hear on shore the
hollow footing of horses and the clash of arms. Checking his
immediate followers, he passed forward a step or two alone, even
setting foot upon the down; and here he made sure he could detect
the shape of men and horses moving. A strong discouragement
assailed him. If their enemies were really on the watch, if they
had beleaguered the shoreward end of the pier, he and Lord Foxham
were taken in a posture of very poor defence, the sea behind, the
men jostled in the dark upon a narrow causeway. He gave a cautious
whistle, the signal previously agreed upon.

It proved to be a signal far more than he desired. Instantly there
fell, through the black night, a shower of arrows sent at a
venture; and so close were the men huddled on the pier that more
than one was hit, and the arrows were answered with cries of both
fear and pain. In this first discharge, Lord Foxham was struck
down; Hawksley had him carried on board again at once; and his men,
during the brief remainder of the skirmish, fought (when they
fought at all) without guidance. That was perhaps the chief cause
of the disaster which made haste to follow.

At the shore end of the pier, for perhaps a minute, Dick held his
own with a handful; one or two were wounded upon either side; steel
crossed steel; nor had there been the least signal of advantage,
when in the twinkling of an eye the tide turned against the party
from the ship. Someone cried out that all was lost; the men were
in the very humour to lend an ear to a discomfortable counsel; the
cry was taken up. "On board, lads, for your lives!" cried another.
A third, with the true instinct of the coward, raised that
inevitable report on all retreats: "We are betrayed!" And in a
moment the whole mass of men went surging and jostling backward
down the pier, turning their defenceless backs on their pursuers
and piercing the night with craven outcry.

One coward thrust off the ship's stern, while another still held
her by the bows. The fugitives leaped, screaming, and were hauled
on board, or fell back and perished in the sea. Some were cut down
upon the pier by the pursuers. Many were injured on the ship's
deck in the blind haste and terror of the moment, one man leaping
upon another, and a third on both. At last, and whether by design
or accident, the bows of the Good Hope were liberated; and the
ever-ready Lawless, who had maintained his place at the helm
through all the hurly-burly by sheer strength of body and a liberal
use of the cold steel, instantly clapped her on the proper tack.
The ship began to move once more forward on the stormy sea, its
scuppers running blood, its deck heaped with fallen men, sprawling
and struggling in the dark.

Thereupon, Lawless sheathed his dagger, and turning to his next
neighbour, "I have left my mark on them, gossip," said he, "the
yelping, coward hounds."

Now, while they were all leaping and struggling for their lives,
the men had not appeared to observe the rough shoves and cutting
stabs with which Lawless had held his post in the confusion. But
perhaps they had already begun to understand somewhat more clearly,
or perhaps another ear had overheard, the helmsman's speech.

Panic-stricken troops recover slowly, and men who have just
disgraced themselves by cowardice, as if to wipe out the memory of
their fault, will sometimes run straight into the opposite extreme
of insubordination. So it was now; and the same men who had thrown
away their weapons and been hauled, feet foremost, into the Good
Hope, began to cry out upon their leaders, and demand that someone
should be punished.

This growing ill-feeling turned upon Lawless.

In order to get a proper offing, the old outlaw had put the head of
the Good Hope to seaward.

"What!" bawled one of the grumblers, "he carrieth us to seaward!"

"'Tis sooth," cried another. "Nay, we are betrayed for sure."

And they all began to cry out in chorus that they were betrayed,
and in shrill tones and with abominable oaths bade Lawless go
about-ship and bring them speedily ashore. Lawless, grinding his
teeth, continued in silence to steer the true course, guiding the
Good Hope among the formidable billows. To their empty terrors, as
to their dishonourable threats, between drink and dignity he
scorned to make reply. The malcontents drew together a little
abaft the mast, and it was plain they were like barnyard cocks,
"crowing for courage." Presently they would be fit for any
extremity of injustice or ingratitude. Dick began to mount by the
ladder, eager to interpose; but one of the outlaws, who was also
something of a seaman, got beforehand.

"Lads," he began, "y' are right wooden heads, I think. For to get
back, by the mass, we must have an offing, must we not? And this
old Lawless--"

Someone struck the speaker on the mouth, and the next moment, as a
fire springs among dry straw, he was felled upon the deck, trampled
under the feet, and despatched by the daggers of his cowardly
companions. At this the wrath of Lawless rose and broke.

"Steer yourselves," he bellowed, with a curse; and, careless of the
result, he left the helm.

The Good Hope was, at that moment, trembling on the summit of a
swell. She subsided, with sickening velocity, upon the farther
side. A wave, like a great black bulwark, hove immediately in
front of her; and, with a staggering blow, she plunged headforemost
through that liquid hill. The green water passed right over her
from stem to stern, as high as a man's knees; the sprays ran higher
than the mast; and she rose again upon the other side, with an
appalling, tremulous indecision, like a beast that has been deadly

Six or seven of the malcontents had been carried bodily overboard;
and as for the remainder, when they found their tongues again, it
was to bellow to the saints and wail upon Lawless to come back and
take the tiller.

Nor did Lawless wait to be twice bidden. The terrible result of
his fling of just resentment sobered him completely. He knew,
better than any one on board, how nearly the Good Hope had gone
bodily down below their feet; and he could tell, by the laziness
with which she met the sea, that the peril was by no means over.

Dick, who had been thrown down by the concussion and half drowned,
rose wading to his knees in the swamped well of the stern, and
crept to the old helmsman's side.

"Lawless," he said, "we do all depend on you; y' are a brave,
steady man, indeed, and crafty in the management of ships; I shall
put three sure men to watch upon your safety."

"Bootless, my master, bootless," said the steersman, peering
forward through the dark. "We come every moment somewhat clearer
of these sandbanks; with every moment, then, the sea packeth upon
us heavier, and for all these whimperers, they will presently be on
their backs. For, my master, 'tis a right mystery, but true, there
never yet was a bad man that was a good shipman. None but the
honest and the bold can endure me this tossing of a ship."

"Nay, Lawless," said Dick, laughing, "that is a right shipman's
byword, and hath no more of sense than the whistle of the wind.
But, prithee, how go we? Do we lie well? Are we in good case?"

"Master Shelton," replied Lawless, "I have been a Grey Friar--I
praise fortune--an archer, a thief, and a shipman. Of all these
coats, I had the best fancy to die in the Grey Friar's, as ye may
readily conceive, and the least fancy to die in John Shipman's
tarry jacket; and that for two excellent good reasons: first, that
the death might take a man suddenly; and second, for the horror of
that great, salt smother and welter under my foot here"--and
Lawless stamped with his foot. "Howbeit," he went on, "an I die
not a sailor's death, and that this night, I shall owe a tall
candle to our Lady."

"Is it so?" asked Dick.

"It is right so," replied the outlaw. "Do ye not feel how heavy
and dull she moves upon the waves? Do ye not hear the water
washing in her hold? She will scarce mind the rudder even now.
Bide till she has settled a bit lower; and she will either go down
below your boots like a stone image, or drive ashore here, under
our lee, and come all to pieces like a twist of string."

"Ye speak with a good courage," returned Dick. "Ye are not then

"Why, master," answered Lawless, "if ever a man had an ill crew to
come to port with, it is I--a renegade friar, a thief, and all the
rest on't. Well, ye may wonder, but I keep a good hope in my
wallet; and if that I be to drown, I will drown with a bright eye,
Master Shelton, and a steady hand."

Dick returned no answer; but he was surprised to find the old
vagabond of so resolute a temper, and fearing some fresh violence
or treachery, set forth upon his quest for three sure men. The
great bulk of the men had now deserted the deck, which was
continually wetted with the flying sprays, and where they lay
exposed to the shrewdness of the winter wind. They had gathered,
instead, into the hold of the merchandise, among the butts of wine,
and lighted by two swinging lanterns.

Here a few kept up the form of revelry, and toasted each other deep
in Arblaster's Gascony wine. But as the Good Hope continued to
tear through the smoking waves, and toss her stem and stern
alternately high in air and deep into white foam, the number of
these jolly companions diminished with every moment and with every
lurch. Many sat apart, tending their hurts, but the majority were
already prostrated with sickness, and lay moaning in the bilge.

Greensheve, Cuckow, and a young fellow of Lord Foxham's whom Dick
had already remarked for his intelligence and spirit, were still,
however, both fit to understand and willing to obey. These Dick
set, as a body-guard, about the person of the steersman, and then,
with a last look at the black sky and sea, he turned and went below
into the cabin, whither Lord Foxham had been carried by his


The moans of the wounded baron blended with the wailing of the
ship's dog. The poor animal, whether he was merely sick at heart
to be separated from his friends, or whether he indeed recognised
some peril in the labouring of the ship, raised his cries, like
minute-guns, above the roar of wave and weather; and the more
superstitious of the men heard, in these sounds, the knell of the
Good Hope.

Lord Foxham had been laid in a berth upon a fur cloak. A little
lamp burned dim before the Virgin in the bulkhead, and by its
glimmer Dick could see the pale countenance and hollow eyes of the
hurt man.

"I am sore hurt," said he. "Come near to my side, young Shelton;
let there be one by me who, at least, is gentle born; for after
having lived nobly and richly all the days of my life, this is a
sad pass that I should get my hurt in a little ferreting skirmish,
and die here, in a foul, cold ship upon the sea, among broken men
and churls."

"Nay, my lord," said Dick, "I pray rather to the saints that ye
will recover you of your hurt, and come soon and sound ashore."

"How!" demanded his lordship. "Come sound ashore? There is, then,
a question of it?"

"The ship laboureth--the sea is grievous and contrary," replied the
lad; "and by what I can learn of my fellow that steereth us, we
shall do well, indeed, if we come dryshod to land."

"Ha!" said the baron, gloomily, "thus shall every terror attend
upon the passage of my soul! Sir, pray rather to live hard, that ye
may die easy, than to be fooled and fluted all through life, as to
the pipe and tabor, and, in the last hour, be plunged among
misfortunes! Howbeit, I have that upon my mind that must not be
delayed. We have no priest aboard?"

"None," replied Dick.

"Here, then, to my secular interests," resumed Lord Foxham: "ye
must be as good a friend to me dead, as I found you a gallant enemy
when I was living. I fall in an evil hour for me, for England, and
for them that trusted me. My men are being brought by Hamley--he
that was your rival; they will rendezvous in the long holm at
Holywood; this ring from off my finger will accredit you to
represent mine orders; and I shall write, besides, two words upon
this paper, bidding Hamley yield to you the damsel. Will he obey?
I know not."

"But, my lord, what orders?" inquired Dick.

"Ay," quoth the baron, "ay--the orders;" and he looked upon Dick
with hesitation. "Are ye Lancaster or York?" he asked, at length.

"I shame to say it," answered Dick, "I can scarce clearly answer.
But so much I think is certain: since I serve with Ellis
Duckworth, I serve the house of York. Well, if that be so, I
declare for York."

"It is well," returned the other; "it is exceeding well. For,
truly, had ye said Lancaster, I wot not for the world what I had
done. But sith ye are for York, follow me. I came hither but to
watch these lords at Shoreby, while mine excellent young lord,
Richard of Gloucester, {1} prepareth a sufficient force to fall
upon and scatter them. I have made me notes of their strength,
what watch they keep, and how they lie; and these I was to deliver
to my young lord on Sunday, an hour before noon, at St. Bride's
Cross beside the forest. This tryst I am not like to keep, but I
pray you, of courtesy, to keep it in my stead; and see that not
pleasure, nor pain, tempest, wound, nor pestilence withhold you
from the hour and place, for the welfare of England lieth upon this

"I do soberly take this up on me," said Dick. "In so far as in me
lieth, your purpose shall be done."

"It is good," said the wounded man. "My lord duke shall order you
farther, and if ye obey him with spirit and good will, then is your
fortune made. Give me the lamp a little nearer to mine eyes, till
that I write these words for you."

He wrote a note "to his worshipful kinsman, Sir John Hamley;" and
then a second, which he-left without external superscripture.

"This is for the duke," he said. "The word is 'England and
Edward,' and the counter, 'England and York.'"

"And Joanna, my lord?" asked Dick.

"Nay, ye must get Joanna how ye can," replied the baron. "I have
named you for my choice in both these letters; but ye must get her
for yourself, boy. I have tried, as ye see here before you, and
have lost my life. More could no man do."

By this time the wounded man began to be very weary; and Dick,
putting the precious papers in his bosom, bade him be of good
cheer, and left him to repose.

The day was beginning to break, cold and blue, with flying squalls
of snow. Close under the lee of the Good Hope, the coast lay in
alternate rocky headlands and sandy bays; and further inland the
wooded hill-tops of Tunstall showed along the sky. Both the wind
and the sea had gone down; but the vessel wallowed deep, and scarce
rose upon the waves.

Lawless was still fixed at the rudder; and by this time nearly all
the men had crawled on deck, and were now gazing, with blank faces,
upon the inhospitable coast.

"Are we going ashore?" asked Dick.

"Ay," said Lawless, "unless we get first to the bottom."

And just then the ship rose so languidly to meet a sea, and the
water weltered so loudly in her hold, that Dick involuntarily
seized the steersman by the arm.

"By the mass!" cried Dick, as the bows of the Good Hope reappeared
above the foam, "I thought we had foundered, indeed; my heart was
at my throat."

In the waist, Greensheve, Hawksley, and the better men of both
companies were busy breaking up the deck to build a raft; and to
these Dick joined himself, working the harder to drown the memory
of his predicament. But, even as he worked, every sea that struck
the poor ship, and every one of her dull lurches, as she tumbled
wallowing among the waves, recalled him with a horrid pang to the
immediate proximity of death.

Presently, looking up from his work, he saw that they were close in
below a promontory; a piece of ruinous cliff, against the base of
which the sea broke white and heavy, almost overplumbed the deck;
and, above that, again, a house appeared, crowning a down.

Inside the bay the seas ran gayly, raised the Good Hope upon their
foam-flecked shoulders, carried her beyond the control of the
steersman, and in a moment dropped her, with a great concussion, on
the sand, and began to break over her half-mast high, and roll her
to and fro. Another great wave followed, raised her again, and
carried her yet farther in; and then a third succeeded, and left
her far inshore of the more dangerous breakers, wedged upon a bank.

"Now, boys," cried Lawless, "the saints have had a care of us,
indeed. The tide ebbs; let us but sit down and drink a cup of
wine, and before half an hour ye may all march me ashore as safe as
on a bridge."

A barrel was broached, and, sitting in what shelter they could find
from the flying snow and spray, the shipwrecked company handed the
cup around, and sought to warm their bodies and restore their

Dick, meanwhile, returned to Lord Foxham, who lay in great
perplexity and fear, the floor of his cabin washing knee-deep in
water, and the lamp, which had been his only light, broken and
extinguished by the violence of the blow.

"My lord," said young Shelton, "fear not at all; the saints are
plainly for us; the seas have cast us high upon a shoal, and as
soon as the tide hath somewhat ebbed, we may walk ashore upon our

It was nearly an hour before the vessel was sufficiently deserted
by the ebbing sea; and they could set forth for the land, which
appeared dimly before them through a veil of driving snow.

Upon a hillock on one side of their way a party of men lay huddled
together, suspiciously observing the movements of the new arrivals.

"They might draw near and offer us some comfort," Dick remarked.

"Well, an' they come not to us, let us even turn aside to them,"
said Hawksley. "The sooner we come to a good fire and a dry bed
the better for my poor lord."

But they had not moved far in the direction of the hillock, before
the men, with one consent, rose suddenly to their feet, and poured
a flight of well-directed arrows on the shipwrecked company.

"Back! back!" cried his lordship. "Beware, in Heaven's name, that
ye reply not."

"Nay," cried Greensheve, pulling an arrow from his leather jack.
"We are in no posture to fight, it is certain, being drenching wet,
dog-weary, and three-parts frozen; but, for the love of old
England, what aileth them to shoot thus cruelly on their poor
country people in distress?"

"They take us to be French pirates," answered Lord Foxham. "In
these most troublesome and degenerate days we cannot keep our own
shores of England; but our old enemies, whom we once chased on sea
and land, do now range at pleasure, robbing and slaughtering and
burning. It is the pity and reproach of this poor land."

The men upon the hillock lay, closely observing them, while they
trailed upward from the beach and wound inland among desolate sand-
hills; for a mile or so they even hung upon the rear of the march,
ready, at a sign, to pour another volley on the weary and
dispirited fugitives; and it was only when, striking at length upon
a firm high-road, Dick began to call his men to some more martial
order, that these jealous guardians of the coast of England
silently disappeared among the snow. They had done what they
desired; they had protected their own homes and farms, their own
families and cattle; and their private interest being thus secured,
it mattered not the weight of a straw to any one of them, although
the Frenchmen should carry blood and fire to every other parish in
the realm of England.



The place where Dick had struck the line of a high-road was not far
from Holywood, and within nine or ten miles of Shoreby-on-the-Till;
and here, after making sure that they were pursued no longer, the
two bodies separated. Lord Foxham's followers departed, carrying
their wounded master towards the comfort and security of the great
abbey; and Dick, as he saw them wind away and disappear in the
thick curtain of the falling snow, was left alone with near upon a
dozen outlaws, the last remainder of his troop of volunteers.

Some were wounded; one and all were furious at their ill-success
and long exposure; and though they were now too cold and hungry to
do more, they grumbled and cast sullen looks upon their leaders.
Dick emptied his purse among them, leaving himself nothing; thanked
them for the courage they had displayed, though he could have found
it more readily in his heart to rate them for poltroonery; and
having thus somewhat softened the effect of his prolonged
misfortune, despatched them to find their way, either severally or
in pairs, to Shoreby and the Goat and Bagpipes.

For his own part, influenced by what he had seen on board of the
Good Hope, he chose Lawless to be his companion on the walk. The
snow was falling, without pause or variation, in one even, blinding
cloud; the wind had been strangled, and now blew no longer; and the
whole world was blotted out and sheeted down below that silent
inundation. There was great danger of wandering by the way and
perishing in drifts; and Lawless, keeping half a step in front of
his companion, and holding his head forward like a hunting dog upon
the scent, inquired his way of every tree, and studied out their
path as though he were conning a ship among dangers.

About a mile into the forest they came to a place where several
ways met, under a grove of lofty and contorted oaks. Even in the
narrow horizon of the falling snow, it was a spot that could not
fail to be recognised; and Lawless evidently recognised it with
particular delight.

"Now, Master Richard," said he, "an y' are not too proud to be the
guest of a man who is neither a gentleman by birth nor so much as a
good Christian, I can offer you a cup of wine and a good fire to
melt the marrow in your frozen bones."

"Lead on, Will," answered Dick. "A cup of wine and a good fire!
Nay, I would go a far way round to see them."

Lawless turned aside under the bare branches of the grove, and,
walking resolutely forward for some time, came to a steepish hollow
or den, that had now drifted a quarter full of snow. On the verge,
a great beech-tree hung, precariously rooted; and here the old
outlaw, pulling aside some bushy underwood, bodily disappeared into
the earth.

The beech had, in some violent gale, been half-uprooted, and had
torn up a considerable stretch of turf and it was under this that
old Lawless had dug out his forest hiding-place. The roots served
him for rafters, the turf was his thatch; for walls and floor he
had his mother the earth. Rude as it was, the hearth in one
corner, blackened by fire, and the presence in another of a large
oaken chest well fortified with iron, showed it at one glance to be
the den of a man, and not the burrow of a digging beast.

Though the snow had drifted at the mouth and sifted in upon the
floor of this earth cavern, yet was the air much warmer than
without; and when Lawless had struck a spark, and the dry furze
bushes had begun to blaze and crackle on the hearth, the place
assumed, even to the eye, an air of comfort and of home.

With a sigh of great contentment, Lawless spread his broad hands
before the fire, and seemed to breathe the smoke.

"Here, then," he said, "is this old Lawless's rabbit-hole; pray
Heaven there come no terrier! Far I have rolled hither and
thither, and here and about, since that I was fourteen years of
mine age and first ran away from mine abbey, with the sacrist's
gold chain and a mass-book that I sold for four marks. I have been
in England and France and Burgundy, and in Spain, too, on a
pilgrimage for my poor soul; and upon the sea, which is no man's
country. But here is my place, Master Shelton. This is my native
land, this burrow in the earth! Come rain or wind--and whether
it's April, and the birds all sing, and the blossoms fall about my
bed--or whether it's winter, and I sit alone with my good gossip
the fire, and robin red breast twitters in the woods--here, is my
church and market, and my wife and child. It's here I come back
to, and it's here, so please the saints, that I would like to die."

"'Tis a warm corner, to be sure," replied Dick, "and a pleasant,
and a well hid."

"It had need to be," returned Lawless, "for an they found it,
Master Shelton, it would break my heart. But here," he added,
burrowing with his stout fingers in the sandy floor, "here is my
wine cellar; and ye shall have a flask of excellent strong stingo."

Sure enough, after but a little digging, he produced a big leathern
bottle of about a gallon, nearly three-parts full of a very heady
and sweet wine; and when they had drunk to each other comradely,
and the fire had been replenished and blazed up again, the pair lay
at full length, thawing and steaming, and divinely warm.

"Master Shelton," observed the outlaw, "y' 'ave had two mischances
this last while, and y' are like to lose the maid--do I take it

"Aright!" returned Dick, nodding his head.

"Well, now," continued Lawless, "hear an old fool that hath been
nigh-hand everything, and seen nigh-hand all! Ye go too much on
other people's errands, Master Dick. Ye go on Ellis's; but he
desireth rather the death of Sir Daniel. Ye go on Lord Foxham's;
well--the saints preserve him!--doubtless he meaneth well. But go
ye upon your own, good Dick. Come right to the maid's side. Court
her, lest that she forget you. Be ready; and when the chance shall
come, off with her at the saddle-bow."

"Ay, but, Lawless, beyond doubt she is now in Sir Daniel's own
mansion." answered Dick.

"Thither, then, go we," replied the outlaw.

Dick stared at him.

"Nay, I mean it," nodded Lawless. "And if y' are of so little
faith, and stumble at a word, see here!"

And the outlaw, taking a key from about his neck, opened the oak
chest, and dipping and groping deep among its contents, produced
first a friar's robe, and next a girdle of rope; and then a huge
rosary of wood, heavy enough to be counted as a weapon.

"Here," he said, "is for you. On with them!"

And then, when Dick had clothed himself in this clerical disguise,
Lawless produced some colours and a pencil, and proceeded, with the
greatest cunning, to disguise his face. The eyebrows he thickened
and produced; to the moustache, which was yet hardly visible, he
rendered a like service; while, by a few lines around the eye, he
changed the expression and increased the apparent age of this young

"Now," he resumed, "when I have done the like, we shall make as
bonny a pair of friars as the eye could wish. Boldly to Sir
Daniel's we shall go, and there be hospitably welcome for the love
of Mother Church."

"And how, dear Lawless," cried the lad, "shall I repay you?"

"Tut, brother," replied the outlaw, "I do naught but for my
pleasure. Mind not for me. I am one, by the mass, that mindeth
for himself. When that I lack, I have a long tongue and a voice
like the monastery bell--I do ask, my son; and where asking
faileth, I do most usually take."

The old rogue made a humorous grimace; and although Dick was
displeased to lie under so great favours to so equivocal a
personage, he was yet unable to restrain his mirth.

With that, Lawless returned to the big chest, and was soon
similarly disguised; but, below his gown, Dick wondered to observe
him conceal a sheaf of black arrows.

"Wherefore do ye that?" asked the lad. "Wherefore arrows, when ye
take no bow?"

"Nay," replied Lawless, lightly, "'tis like there will be heads
broke--not to say backs--ere you and I win sound from where we're
going to; and if any fall, I would our fellowship should come by
the credit on't. A black arrow, Master Dick, is the seal of our
abbey; it showeth you who writ the bill."

"An ye prepare so carefully," said Dick, "I have here some papers
that, for mine own sake, and the interest of those that trusted me,
were better left behind than found upon my body. Where shall I
conceal them, Will?"

"Nay," replied Lawless, "I will go forth into the wood and whistle
me three verses of a song; meanwhile, do you bury them where ye
please, and smooth the sand upon the place."

"Never!" cried Richard. "I trust you, man. I were base indeed if
I not trusted you."

"Brother, y' are but a child," replied the old outlaw, pausing and
turning his face upon Dick from the threshold of the den. "I am a
kind old Christian, and no traitor to men's blood, and no sparer of
mine own in a friend's jeopardy. But, fool, child, I am a thief by
trade and birth and habit. If my bottle were empty and my mouth
dry, I would rob you, dear child, as sure as I love, honour, and
admire your parts and person! Can it be clearer spoken? No."

And he stumped forth through the bushes with a snap of his big

Dick, thus left alone, after a wondering thought upon the
inconsistencies of his companion's character, hastily produced,
reviewed, and buried his papers. One only he reserved to carry
along with him, since it in nowise compromised his friends, and yet
might serve him, in a pinch, against Sir Daniel. That was the
knight's own letter to Lord Wensleydale, sent by Throgmorton, on
the morrow of the defeat at Risingham, and found next day by Dick
upon the body of the messenger.

Then, treading down the embers of the fire, Dick left the den, and
rejoined the old outlaw, who stood awaiting him under the leafless
oaks, and was already beginning to be powdered by the falling snow.
Each looked upon the other, and each laughed, so thorough and so
droll was the disguise.

"Yet I would it were but summer and a clear day," grumbled the
outlaw, "that I might see myself in the mirror of a pool. There be
many of Sir Daniel's men that know me; and if we fell to be
recognised, there might be two words for you, brother, but as for
me, in a paternoster while, I should be kicking in a rope's-end."

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