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The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 5 out of 5

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Such was the poorness of the neighbourhood that none of the
Lancastrian lords, and but few of their retainers, had been lodged
therein; and the inhabitants, with one accord, deserted their
houses and fled, squalling, along the streets or over garden walls.

In the centre, where the five ways all met, a somewhat ill-favoured
alehouse displayed the sign of the Chequers; and here the Duke of
Gloucester chose his headquarters for the day.

To Dick he assigned the guard of one of the five streets.

"Go," he said, "win your spurs. Win glory for me: one Richard for
another. I tell you, if I rise, ye shall rise by the same ladder.
Go," he added, shaking him by the hand.

But, as soon as Dick was gone, he turned to a little shabby archer
at his elbow.

"Go, Dutton, and that right speedily," he added. "Follow that lad.
If ye find him faithful, ye answer for his safety, a head for a
head. Woe unto you, if ye return without him! But if he be
faithless--or, for one instant, ye misdoubt him--stab him from

In the meanwhile Dick hastened to secure his post. The street he
had to guard was very narrow, and closely lined with houses, which
projected and overhung the roadway; but narrow and dark as it was,
since it opened upon the market-place of the town, the main issue
of the battle would probably fall to be decided on that spot.

The market-place was full of townspeople fleeing in disorder; but
there was as yet no sign of any foeman ready to attack, and Dick
judged he had some time before him to make ready his defence.

The two houses at the end stood deserted, with open doors, as the
inhabitants had left them in their flight, and from these he had
the furniture hastily tossed forth and piled into a barrier in the
entry of the lane. A hundred men were placed at his disposal, and
of these he threw the more part into the houses, where they might
lie in shelter and deliver their arrows from the windows. With the
rest, under his own immediate eye, he lined the barricade.

Meanwhile the utmost uproar and confusion had continued to prevail
throughout the town; and what with the hurried clashing of bells,
the sounding of trumpets, the swift movement of bodies of horse,
the cries of the commanders, and the shrieks of women, the noise
was almost deafening to the ear. Presently, little by little, the
tumult began to subside; and soon after, files of men in armour and
bodies of archers began to assemble and form in line of battle in
the market-place.

A large portion of this body were in murrey and blue, and in the
mounted knight who ordered their array Dick recognised Sir Daniel

Then there befell a long pause, which was followed by the almost
simultaneous sounding of four trumpets from four different quarters
of the town. A fifth rang in answer from the market-place, and at
the same moment the files began to move, and a shower of arrows
rattled about the barricade, and sounded like blows upon the walls
of the two flanking houses.

The attack had begun, by a common signal, on all the five issues of
the quarter. Gloucester was beleaguered upon every side; and Dick
judged, if he would make good his post, he must rely entirely on
the hundred men of his command.

Seven volleys of arrows followed one upon the other, and in the
very thick of the discharges Dick was touched from behind upon the
arm, and found a page holding out to him a leathern jack,
strengthened with bright plates of mail.

"It is from my Lord of Gloucester," said the page. "He hath
observed, Sir Richard, that ye went unarmed."

Dick, with a glow at his heart at being so addressed, got to his
feet and, with the assistance of the page, donned the defensive
coat. Even as he did so, two arrows rattled harmlessly upon the
plates, and a third struck down the page, mortally wounded, at his

Meantime the whole body of the enemy had been steadily drawing
nearer across the market-place; and by this time were so close at
hand that Dick gave the order to return their shot. Immediately,
from behind the barrier and from the windows of the houses, a
counterblast of arrows sped, carrying death. But the Lancastrians,
as if they had but waited for a signal, shouted loudly in answer;
and began to close at a run upon the barrier, the horsemen still
hanging back, with visors lowered.

Then followed an obstinate and deadly struggle, hand to hand. The
assailants, wielding their falchions with one hand, strove with the
other to drag down the structure of the barricade. On the other
side, the parts were reversed; and the defenders exposed themselves
like madmen to protect their rampart. So for some minutes the
contest raged almost in silence, friend and foe falling one upon
another. But it is always the easier to destroy; and when a single
note upon the tucket recalled the attacking party from this
desperate service, much of the barricade had been removed
piecemeal, and the whole fabric had sunk to half its height, and
tottered to a general fall.

And now the footmen in the market-place fell back, at a run, on
every side. The horsemen, who had been standing in a line two
deep, wheeled suddenly, and made their flank into their front; and
as swift as a striking adder, the long, steel-clad column was
launched upon the ruinous barricade.

Of the first two horsemen, one fell, rider and steed, and was
ridden down by his companions. The second leaped clean upon the
summit of the rampart, transpiercing an archer with his lance.
Almost in the same instant he was dragged from the saddle and his
horse despatched.

And then the full weight and impetus of the charge burst upon and
scattered the defenders. The men-at-arms, surmounting their fallen
comrades, and carried onward by the fury of their onslaught, dashed
through Dick's broken line and poured thundering up the lane
beyond, as a stream bestrides and pours across a broken dam.

Yet was the fight not over. Still, in the narrow jaws of the
entrance, Dick and a few survivors plied their bills like woodmen;
and already, across the width of the passage, there had been formed
a second, a higher, and a more effectual rampart of fallen men and
disembowelled horses, lashing in the agonies of death.

Baffled by this fresh obstacle, the remainder of the cavalry fell
back; and as, at the sight of this movement, the flight of arrows
redoubled from the casements of the houses, their retreat had, for
a moment, almost degenerated into flight.

Almost at the same time, those who had crossed the barricade and
charged farther up the street, being met before the door of the
Chequers by the formidable hunchback and the whole reserve of the
Yorkists, began to come scattering backward, in the excess of
disarray and terror.

Dick and his fellows faced about, fresh men poured out of the
houses; a cruel blast of arrows met the fugitives full in the face,
while Gloucester was already riding down their rear; in the inside
of a minute and a half there was no living Lancastrian in the

Then, and not till then, did Dick hold up his reeking blade and
give the word to cheer.

Meanwhile Gloucester dismounted from his horse and came forward to
inspect the post. His face was as pale as linen; but his eyes
shone in his head like some strange jewel, and his voice, when he
spoke, was hoarse and broken with the exultation of battle and
success. He looked at the rampart, which neither friend nor foe
could now approach without precaution, so fiercely did the horses
struggle in the throes of death, and at the sight of that great
carnage he smiled upon one side.

"Despatch these horses," he said; "they keep you from your vantage.
Richard Shelton," he added, "ye have pleased me. Kneel."

The Lancastrians had already resumed their archery, and the shafts
fell thick in the mouth of the street; but the duke, minding them
not at all, deliberately drew his sword and dubbed Richard a knight
upon the spot.

"And now, Sir Richard," he continued, "if that ye see Lord
Risingham, send me an express upon the instant. Were it your last
man, let me hear of it incontinently. I had rather venture the
post than lose my stroke at him. For mark me, all of ye," he
added, raising his voice, "if Earl Risingham fall by another hand
than mine, I shall count this victory a defeat."

"My lord duke," said one of his attendants, "is your grace not
weary of exposing his dear life unneedfully? Why tarry we here?"

"Catesby," returned the duke, "here is the battle, not elsewhere.
The rest are but feigned onslaughts. Here must we vanquish. And
for the exposure--if ye were an ugly hunchback, and the children
gecked at you upon the street, ye would count your body cheaper,
and an hour of glory worth a life. Howbeit, if ye will, let us
ride on and visit the other posts. Sir Richard here, my namesake,
he shall still hold this entry, where he wadeth to the ankles in
hot blood. Him can we trust. But mark it, Sir Richard, ye are not
yet done. The worst is yet to ward. Sleep not."

He came right up to young Shelton, looking him hard in the eyes,
and taking his hand in both of his, gave it so extreme a squeeze
that the blood had nearly spurted. Dick quailed before his eyes.
The insane excitement, the courage, and the cruelty that he read
therein filled him with dismay about the future. This young duke's
was indeed a gallant spirit, to ride foremost in the ranks of war;
but after the battle, in the days of peace and in the circle of his
trusted friends, that mind, it was to be dreaded, would continue to
bring forth the fruits of death.


Dick, once more left to his own counsels, began to look about him.
The arrow-shot had somewhat slackened. On all sides the enemy were
falling back; and the greater part of the market-place was now left
empty, the snow here trampled into orange mud, there splashed with
gore, scattered all over with dead men and horses, and bristling
thick with feathered arrows.

On his own side the loss had been cruel. The jaws of the little
street and the ruins of the barricade were heaped with the dead and
dying; and out of the hundred men with whom he had begun the
battle, there were not seventy left who could still stand to arms.

At the same time, the day was passing. The first reinforcements
might be looked for to arrive at any moment; and the Lancastrians,
already shaken by the result of their desperate but unsuccessful
onslaught, were in an ill temper to support a fresh invader.

There was a dial in the wall of one of the two flanking houses; and
this, in the frosty winter sunshine, indicated ten of the forenoon.

Dick turned to the man who was at his elbow, a little insignificant
archer, binding a cut in his arm.

"It was well fought," he said, "and, by my sooth, they will not
charge us twice."

"Sir," said the little archer, "ye have fought right well for York,
and better for yourself. Never hath man in so brief space
prevailed so greatly on the duke's affections. That he should have
entrusted such a post to one he knew not is a marvel. But look to
your head, Sir Richard! If ye be vanquished--ay, if ye give way
one foot's breadth--axe or cord shall punish it; and I am set if ye
do aught doubtful, I will tell you honestly, here to stab you from

Dick looked at the little man in amaze.

"You!" he cried. "And from behind!"

"It is right so," returned the archer; "and because I like not the
affair I tell it you. Ye must make the post good, Sir Richard, at
your peril. O, our Crookback is a bold blade and a good warrior;
but, whether in cold blood or in hot, he will have all things done
exact to his commandment. If any fail or hinder, they shall die
the death."

"Now, by the saints!" cried Richard, "is this so? And will men
follow such a leader?"

"Nay, they follow him gleefully," replied the other; "for if he be
exact to punish, he is most open-handed to reward. And if he spare
not the blood and sweat of others, he is ever liberal of his own,
still in the first front of battle, still the last to sleep. He
will go far, will Crookback Dick o' Gloucester!"

The young knight, if he had before been brave and vigilant, was now
all the more inclined to watchfulness and courage. His sudden
favour, he began to perceive, had brought perils in its train. And
he turned from the archer, and once more scanned anxiously the
market-place. It lay empty as before.

"I like not this quietude," he said. "Doubtless they prepare us
some surprise."

And, as if in answer to his remark, the archers began once more to
advance against the barricade, and the arrows to fall thick. But
there was something hesitating in the attack. They came not on
roundly, but seemed rather to await a further signal.

Dick looked uneasily about him, spying for a hidden danger. And
sure enough, about half way up the little street, a door was
suddenly opened from within, and the house continued, for some
seconds, and both by door and window, to disgorge a torrent of
Lancastrian archers. These, as they leaped down, hurriedly stood
to their ranks, bent their bows, and proceeded to pour upon Dick's
rear a flight of arrows.

At the same time, the assailants in the market-place redoubled
their shot, and began to close in stoutly upon the barricade.

Dick called down his whole command out of the houses, and facing
them both ways, and encouraging their valour both by word and
gesture, returned as best he could the double shower of shafts that
fell about his post.

Meanwhile house after house was opened in the street, and the
Lancastrians continued to pour out of the doors and leap down from
the windows, shouting victory, until the number of enemies upon
Dick's rear was almost equal to the number in his face. It was
plain that he could hold the post no longer; what was worse, even
if he could have held it, it had now become useless; and the whole
Yorkist army lay in a posture of helplessness upon the brink of a
complete disaster.

The men behind him formed the vital flaw in the general defence;
and it was upon these that Dick turned, charging at the head of his
men. So vigorous was the attack, that the Lancastrian archers gave
ground and staggered, and, at last, breaking their ranks, began to
crowd back into the houses from which they had so recently and so
vaingloriously sallied.

Meanwhile the men from the market-place had swarmed across the
undefended barricade, and fell on hotly upon the other side; and
Dick must once again face about, and proceed to drive them back.
Once again the spirit of his men prevailed; they cleared the street
in a triumphant style, but even as they did so the others issued
again out of the houses, and took them, a third time, upon the

The Yorkists began to be scattered; several times Dick found
himself alone among his foes and plying his bright sword for life;
several times he was conscious of a hurt. And meanwhile the fight
swayed to and fro in the street without determinate result.

Suddenly Dick was aware of a great trumpeting about the outskirts
of the town. The war-cry of York began to be rolled up to heaven,
as by many and triumphant voices. And at the same time the men in
front of him began to give ground rapidly, streaming out of the
street and back upon the market-place. Some one gave the word to
fly. Trumpets were blown distractedly, some for a rally, some to
charge. It was plain that a great blow had been struck, and the
Lancastrians were thrown, at least for the moment, into full
disorder, and some degree of panic.

And then, like a theatre trick, there followed the last act of
Shoreby Battle. The men in front of Richard turned tail, like a
dog that has been whistled home, and fled like the wind. At the
same moment there came through the market-place a storm of
horsemen, fleeing and pursuing, the Lancastrians turning back to
strike with the sword, the Yorkists riding them down at the point
of the lance.

Conspicuous in the mellay, Dick beheld the Crookback. He was
already giving a foretaste of that furious valour and skill to cut
his way across the ranks of war, which, years afterwards upon the
field of Bosworth, and when he was stained with crimes, almost
sufficed to change the fortunes of the day and the destiny of the
English throne. Evading, striking, riding down, he so forced and
so manoeuvred his strong horse, so aptly defended himself, and so
liberally scattered death to his opponents, that he was now far
ahead of the foremost of his knights, hewing his way, with the
truncheon of a bloody sword, to where Lord Risingham was rallying
the bravest. A moment more and they had met; the tall, splendid,
and famous warrior against the deformed and sickly boy.

Yet Shelton had never a doubt of the result; and when the fight
next opened for a moment, the figure of the earl had disappeared;
but still, in the first of the danger, Crookback Dick was launching
his big horse and plying the truncheon of his sword.

Thus, by Shelton's courage in holding the mouth of the street
against the first attack, and by the opportune arrival of his seven
hundred reinforcements, the lad, who was afterwards to be handed
down to the execration of posterity under the name of Richard III.,
had won his first considerable fight.


There was not a foe left within striking distance; and Dick, as he
looked ruefully about him on the remainder of his gallant force,
began to count the cost of victory. He was himself, now that the
danger was ended, so stiff and sore, so bruised and cut and broken,
and, above all, so utterly exhausted by his desperate and
unremitting labours in the fight, that he seemed incapable of any
fresh exertion.

But this was not yet the hour for repose. Shoreby had been taken
by assault; and though an open town, and not in any manner to be
charged with the resistance, it was plain that these rough fighters
would be not less rough now that the fight was over, and that the
more horrid part of war would fall to be enacted. Richard of
Gloucester was not the captain to protect the citizens from his
infuriated soldiery; and even if he had the will, it might be
questioned if he had the power.

It was, therefore, Dick's business to find and to protect Joanna;
and with that end he looked about him at the faces of his men. The
three or four who seemed likeliest to be obedient and to keep sober
he drew aside; and promising them a rich reward and a special
recommendation to the duke, led them across the market-place, now
empty of horsemen, and into the streets upon the further side.

Every here and there small combats of from two to a dozen still
raged upon the open street; here and there a house was being
besieged, the defenders throwing out stools and tables on the heads
of the assailants. The snow was strewn with arms and corpses; but
except for these partial combats the streets were deserted, and the
houses, some standing open, and some shuttered and barricaded, had
for the most part ceased to give out smoke.

Dick, threading the skirts of these skirmishers, led his followers
briskly in the direction of the abbey church; but when he came the
length of the main street, a cry of horror broke from his lips.
Sir Daniel's great house had been carried by assault. The gates
hung in splinters from the hinges, and a double throng kept pouring
in and out through the entrance, seeking and carrying booty.
Meanwhile, in the upper storeys, some resistance was still being
offered to the pillagers; for just as Dick came within eyeshot of
the building, a casement was burst open from within, and a poor
wretch in murrey and blue, screaming and resisting, was forced
through the embrasure and tossed into the street below.

The most sickening apprehension fell upon Dick. He ran forward
like one possessed, forced his way into the house among the
foremost, and mounted without pause to the chamber on the third
floor where he had last parted from Joanna. It was a mere wreck;
the furniture had been overthrown, the cupboards broken open, and
in one place a trailing corner of the arras lay smouldering on the
embers of the fire.

Dick, almost without thinking, trod out the incipient
conflagration, and then stood bewildered. Sir Daniel, Sir Oliver,
Joanna, all were gone; but whether butchered in the rout or safe
escaped from Shoreby, who should say?

He caught a passing archer by the tabard.

"Fellow," he asked, "were ye here when this house was taken?"

"Let be," said the archer. "A murrain! let be, or I strike."

"Hark ye," returned Richard, "two can play at that. Stand and be

But the man, flushed with drink and battle, struck Dick upon the
shoulder with one hand, while with the other he twitched away his
garment. Thereupon the full wrath of the young leader burst from
his control. He seized the fellow in his strong embrace, and
crushed him on the plates of his mailed bosom like a child; then,
holding him at arm's length, he bid him speak as he valued life.

"I pray you mercy!" gasped the archer. "An I had thought ye were
so angry I would 'a' been charier of crossing you. I was here

"Know ye Sir Daniel?" pursued Dick.

"Well do I know him," returned the man.

"Was he in the mansion?"

"Ay, sir, he was," answered the archer; "but even as we entered by
the yard gate he rode forth by the garden."

"Alone?" cried Dick.

"He may 'a' had a score of lances with him," said the man.

"Lances! No women, then?" asked Shelton.

"Troth, I saw not," said the archer. "But there were none in the
house, if that be your quest."

"I thank you," said Dick. "Here is a piece for your pains." But
groping in his wallet, Dick found nothing. "Inquire for me to-
morrow," he added--"Richard Shelt--Sir Richard Shelton," he
corrected, "and I will see you handsomely rewarded."

And then an idea struck Dick. He hastily descended to the
courtyard, ran with all his might across the garden, and came to
the great door of the church. It stood wide open; within, every
corner of the pavement was crowded with fugitive burghers,
surrounded by their families and laden with the most precious of
their possessions, while, at the high altar, priests in full
canonicals were imploring the mercy of God. Even as Dick entered,
the loud chorus began to thunder in the vaulted roofs.

He hurried through the groups of refugees, and came to the door of
the stair that led into the steeple. And here a tall churchman
stepped before him and arrested his advance.

"Whither, my son?" he asked, severely.

"My father," answered Dick, "I am here upon an errand of
expedition. Stay me not. I command here for my Lord of

"For my Lord of Gloucester?" repeated the priest. "Hath, then, the
battle gone so sore?"

"The battle, father, is at an end, Lancaster clean sped, my Lord of
Risingham--Heaven rest him!--left upon the field. And now, with
your good leave, I follow mine affairs." And thrusting on one side
the priest, who seemed stupefied at the news, Dick pushed open the
door and rattled up the stairs four at a bound, and without pause
or stumble, till he stepped upon the open platform at the top.

Shoreby Church tower not only commanded the town, as in a map, but
looked far, on both sides, over sea and land. It was now near upon
noon; the day exceeding bright, the snow dazzling. And as Dick
looked around him, he could measure the consequences of the battle.

A confused, growling uproar reached him from the streets, and now
and then, but very rarely, the clash of steel. Not a ship, not so
much as a skiff remained in harbour; but the sea was dotted with
sails and row-boats laden with fugitives. On shore, too, the
surface of the snowy meadows was broken up with bands of horsemen,
some cutting their way towards the borders of the forest, others,
who were doubtless of the Yorkist side, stoutly interposing and
beating them back upon the town. Over all the open ground there
lay a prodigious quantity of fallen men and horses, clearly defined
upon the snow.

To complete the picture, those of the foot soldiers as had not
found place upon a ship still kept up an archery combat on the
borders of the port, and from the cover of the shoreside taverns.
In that quarter, also, one or two houses had been fired, and the
smoke towered high in the frosty sunlight, and blew off to sea in
voluminous folds.

Already close upon the margin of the woods, and somewhat in the
line of Holywood, one particular clump of fleeing horsemen riveted
the attention of the young watcher on the tower. It was fairly
numerous; in no other quarter of the field did so many Lancastrians
still hold together; thus they had left a wide, discoloured wake
upon the snow, and Dick was able to trace them step by step from
where they had left the town.

While Dick stood watching them, they had gained, unopposed, the
first fringe of the leafless forest, and, turning a little from
their direction, the sun fell for a moment full on their array, as
it was relieved against the dusky wood.

"Murrey and blue!" cried Dick. "I swear it--murrey and blue!"

The next moment he was descending the stairway.

It was now his business to seek out the Duke of Gloucester, who
alone, in the disorder of the forces, might be able to supply him
with a sufficiency of men. The fighting in the main town was now
practically at an end; and as Dick ran hither and thither, seeking
the commander, the streets were thick with wandering soldiers, some
laden with more booty than they could well stagger under, others
shouting drunk. None of them, when questioned, had the least
notion of the duke's whereabouts; and, at last, it was by sheer
good fortune that Dick found him, where he sat in the saddle
directing operations to dislodge the archers from the harbour side.

"Sir Richard Shelton, ye are well found," he said. "I owe you one
thing that I value little, my life; and one that I can never pay
you for, this victory. Catesby, if I had ten such captains as Sir
Richard, I would march forthright on London. But now, sir, claim
your reward."

"Freely, my lord," said Dick, "freely and loudly. One hath escaped
to whom I owe some grudges, and taken with him one whom I owe love
and service. Give me, then, fifty lances, that I may pursue; and
for any obligation that your graciousness is pleased to allow, it
shall be clean discharged."

"How call ye him?" inquired the duke.

"Sir Daniel Brackley," answered Richard.

"Out upon him, double-face!" cried Gloucester. "Here is no reward,
Sir Richard; here is fresh service offered, and, if that ye bring
his head to me, a fresh debt upon my conscience. Catesby, get him
these lances; and you, sir, bethink ye, in the meanwhile, what
pleasure, honour, or profit it shall be mine to give you."

Just then the Yorkist skirmishers carried one of the shoreside
taverns, swarming in upon it on three sides, and driving out or
taking its defenders. Crookback Dick was pleased to cheer the
exploit, and pushing his horse a little nearer, called to see the

There were four or five of them--two men of my Lord Shoreby's and
one of Lord Risingham's among the number, and last, but in Dick's
eyes not least, a tall, shambling, grizzled old shipman, between
drunk and sober, and with a dog whimpering and jumping at his

The young duke passed them for a moment under a severe review.

"Good," he said. "Hang them."

And he turned the other way to watch the progress of the fight.

"My lord," said Dick, "so please you, I have found my reward.
Grant me the life and liberty of yon old shipman."

Gloucester turned and looked the speaker in the face.

"Sir Richard," he said, "I make not war with peacock's feathers,
but steel shafts. Those that are mine enemies I slay, and that
without excuse or favour. For, bethink ye, in this realm of
England, that is so torn in pieces, there is not a man of mine but
hath a brother or a friend upon the other party. If, then, I did
begin to grant these pardons, I might sheathe my sword."

"It may be so, my lord; and yet I will be overbold, and at the risk
of your disfavour, recall your lordship's promise," replied Dick.

Richard of Gloucester flushed.

"Mark it right well," he said, harshly. "I love not mercy, nor yet
mercymongers. Ye have this day laid the foundations of high
fortune. If ye oppose to me my word, which I have plighted, I will
yield. But, by the glory of heaven, there your favour dies!

"Mine is the loss," said Dick.

"Give him his sailor," said the duke; and wheeling his horse, he
turned his back upon young Shelton.

Dick was nor glad nor sorry. He had seen too much of the young
duke to set great store on his affection; and the origin and growth
of his own favour had been too flimsy and too rapid to inspire much
confidence. One thing alone he feared--that the vindictive leader
might revoke the offer of the lances. But here he did justice
neither to Gloucester's honour (such as it was) nor, above all, to
his decision. If he had once judged Dick to be the right man to
pursue Sir Daniel, he was not one to change; and he soon proved it
by shouting after Catesby to be speedy, for the paladin was

In the meanwhile, Dick turned to the old shipman, who had seemed
equally indifferent to his condemnation and to his subsequent

"Arblaster," said Dick, "I have done you ill; but now, by the rood,
I think I have cleared the score."

But the old skipper only looked upon him dully and held his peace.

"Come," continued Dick, "a life is a life, old shrew, and it is
more than ships or liquor. Say ye forgive me; for if your life be
worth nothing to you, it hath cost me the beginnings of my fortune.
Come, I have paid for it dearly; be not so churlish."

"An I had had my ship," said Arblaster, "I would 'a' been forth and
safe on the high seas--I and my man Tom. But ye took my ship,
gossip, and I'm a beggar; and for my man Tom, a knave fellow in
russet shot him down. 'Murrain!' quoth he, and spake never again.
'Murrain' was the last of his words, and the poor spirit of him
passed. 'A will never sail no more, will my Tom.'"

Dick was seized with unavailing penitence and pity; he sought to
take the skipper's hand, but Arblaster avoided his touch.

"Nay," said he, "let be. Y' have played the devil with me, and let
that content you."

The words died in Richard's throat. He saw, through tears, the
poor old man, bemused with liquor and sorrow, go shambling away,
with bowed head, across the snow, and the unnoticed dog whimpering
at his heels, and for the first time began to understand the
desperate game that we play in life; and how a thing once done is
not to be changed or remedied, by any penitence.

But there was no time left to him for vain regret.

Catesby had now collected the horsemen, and riding up to Dick he
dismounted, and offered him his own horse.

"This morning," he said, "I was somewhat jealous of your favour; it
hath not been of a long growth; and now, Sir Richard, it is with a
very good heart that I offer you this horse--to ride away with."

"Suffer me yet a moment," replied Dick. "This favour of mine--
whereupon was it founded?"

"Upon your name," answered Catesby. "It is my lord's chief
superstition. Were my name Richard, I should be an earl to-

"Well, sir, I thank you," returned Dick; "and since I am little
likely to follow these great fortunes, I will even say farewell. I
will not pretend I was displeased to think myself upon the road to
fortune; but I will not pretend, neither, that I am over-sorry to
be done with it. Command and riches, they are brave things, to be
sure; but a word in your ear--yon duke of yours, he is a fearsome

Catesby laughed.

"Nay," said he, "of a verity he that rides with Crooked Dick will
ride deep. Well, God keep us all from evil! Speed ye well."

Thereupon Dick put himself at the head of his men, and giving the
word of command, rode off.

He made straight across the town, following what he supposed to be
the route of Sir Daniel, and spying around for any signs that might
decide if he were right.

The streets were strewn with the dead and the wounded, whose fate,
in the bitter frost, was far the more pitiable. Gangs of the
victors went from house to house, pillaging and stabbing, and
sometimes singing together as they went.

From different quarters, as he rode on, the sounds of violence and
outrage came to young Shelton's ears; now the blows of the sledge-
hammer on some barricaded door, and now the miserable shrieks of

Dick's heart had just been awakened. He had just seen the cruel
consequences of his own behaviour; and the thought of the sum of
misery that was now acting in the whole of Shoreby filled him with

At length he reached the outskirts, and there, sure enough, he saw
straight before him the same broad, beaten track across the snow
that he had marked from the summit of the church. Here, then, he
went the faster on; but still, as he rode, he kept a bright eye
upon the fallen men and horses that lay beside the track. Many of
these, he was relieved to see, wore Sir Daniel's colours, and the
faces of some, who lay upon their back, he even recognised.

About half-way between the town and the forest, those whom he was
following had plainly been assailed by archers; for the corpses lay
pretty closely scattered, each pierced by an arrow. And here Dick
spied among the rest the body of a very young lad, whose face was
somehow hauntingly familiar to him.

He halted his troop, dismounted, and raised the lad's head. As he
did so, the hood fell back, and a profusion of long brown hair
unrolled itself. At the same time the eyes opened.

"Ah! lion driver!" said a feeble voice. "She is farther on. Ride-
-ride fast!"

And then the poor young lady fainted once again.

One of Dick's men carried a flask of some strong cordial, and with
this Dick succeeded in reviving consciousness. Then he took
Joanna's friend upon his saddlebow, and once more pushed toward the

"Why do ye take me?" said the girl. "Ye but delay your speed."

"Nay, Mistress Risingham," replied Dick. "Shoreby is full of blood
and drunkenness and riot. Here ye are safe; content ye."

"I will not be beholden to any of your faction," she cried; "set me

"Madam, ye know not what ye say," returned Dick. "Y' are hurt" -

"I am not," she said. "It was my horse was slain."

"It matters not one jot," replied Richard. "Ye are here in the
midst of open snow, and compassed about with enemies. Whether ye
will or not, I carry you with me. Glad am I to have the occasion;
for thus shall I repay some portion of our debt."

For a little while she was silent. Then, very suddenly, she asked:

"My uncle?"

"My Lord Risingham?" returned Dick. "I would I had good news to
give you, madam; but I have none. I saw him once in the battle,
and once only. Let us hope the best."


It was almost certain that Sir Daniel had made for the Moat House;
but, considering the heavy snow, the lateness of the hour, and the
necessity under which he would lie of avoiding the few roads and
striking across the wood, it was equally certain that he could not
hope to reach it ere the morrow.

There were two courses open to Dick; either to continue to follow
in the knight's trail, and, if he were able, to fall upon him that
very night in camp, or to strike out a path of his own, and seek to
place himself between Sir Daniel and his destination.

Either scheme was open to serious objection, and Dick, who feared
to expose Joanna to the hazards of a fight, had not yet decided
between them when he reached the borders of the wood.

At this point Sir Daniel had turned a little to his left, and then
plunged straight under a grove of very lofty timber. His party had
then formed to a narrower front, in order to pass between the
trees, and the track was trod proportionally deeper in the snow.
The eye followed it under the leafless tracery of the oaks, running
direct and narrow; the trees stood over it, with knotty joints and
the great, uplifted forest of their boughs; there was no sound,
whether of man or beast--not so much as the stirring of a robin;
and over the field of snow the winter sun lay golden among netted

"How say ye," asked Dick of one of the men, "to follow straight on,
or strike across for Tunstall?"

"Sir Richard," replied the man-at-arms, "I would follow the line
until they scatter."

"Ye are, doubtless, right," returned Dick; "but we came right
hastily upon the errand, even as the time commanded. Here are no
houses, neither for food nor shelter, and by the morrow's dawn we
shall know both cold fingers and an empty belly. How say ye, lads?
Will ye stand a pinch for expedition's sake, or shall we turn by
Holywood and sup with Mother Church? The case being somewhat
doubtful, I will drive no man; yet if ye would suffer me to lead
you, ye would choose the first."

The men answered, almost with one voice, that they would follow Sir
Richard where he would.

And Dick, setting spur to his horse, began once more to go forward.

The snow in the trail had been trodden very hard, and the pursuers
had thus a great advantage over the pursued. They pushed on,
indeed, at a round trot, two hundred hoofs beating alternately on
the dull pavement of the snow, and the jingle of weapons and the
snorting of horses raising a warlike noise along the arches of the
silent wood.

Presently, the wide slot of the pursued came out upon the high road
from Holywood; it was there, for a moment, indistinguishable; and,
where it once more plunged into the unbeaten snow upon the farther
side, Dick was surprised to see it narrower and lighter trod.
Plainly, profiting by the road, Sir Daniel had begun already to
scatter his command.

At all hazards, one chance being equal to another, Dick continued
to pursue the straight trail; and that, after an hour's riding, in
which it led into the very depths of the forest, suddenly split,
like a bursting shell, into two dozen others, leading to every
point of the compass.

Dick drew bridle in despair. The short winter's day was near an
end; the sun, a dull red orange, shorn of rays, swam low among the
leafless thickets; the shadows were a mile long upon the snow; the
frost bit cruelly at the finger-nails; and the breath and steam of
the horses mounted in a cloud.

"Well, we are outwitted," Dick confessed. "Strike we for Holywood,
after all. It is still nearer us than Tunstall--or should be by
the station of the sun."

So they wheeled to their left, turning their backs on the red
shield of sun, and made across country for the abbey. But now
times were changed with them; they could no longer spank forth
briskly on a path beaten firm by the passage of their foes, and for
a goal to which that path itself conducted them. Now they must
plough at a dull pace through the encumbering snow, continually
pausing to decide their course, continually floundering in drifts.
The sun soon left them; the glow of the west decayed; and presently
they were wandering in a shadow of blackness, under frosty stars.

Presently, indeed, the moon would clear the hilltops, and they
might resume their march. But till then, every random step might
carry them wider of their march. There was nothing for it but to
camp and wait.

Sentries were posted; a spot of ground was cleared of snow, and,
after some failures, a good fire blazed in the midst. The men-at-
arms sat close about this forest hearth, sharing such provisions as
they had, and passing about the flask; and Dick, having collected
the most delicate of the rough and scanty fare, brought it to Lord
Risingham's niece, where she sat apart from the soldiery against a

She sat upon one horse-cloth, wrapped in another, and stared
straight before her at the firelit scene. At the offer of food she
started, like one wakened from a dream, and then silently refused.

"Madam," said Dick, "let me beseech you, punish me not so cruelly.
Wherein I have offended you, I know not; I have, indeed, carried
you away, but with a friendly violence; I have, indeed, exposed you
to the inclemency of night, but the hurry that lies upon me hath
for its end the preservation of another, who is no less frail and
no less unfriended than yourself. At least, madam, punish not
yourself; and eat, if not for hunger, then for strength."

"I will eat nothing at the hands that slew my kinsman," she

"Dear madam," Dick cried, "I swear to you upon the rood I touched
him not."

"Swear to me that he still lives," she returned.

"I will not palter with you," answered Dick. "Pity bids me to
wound you. In my heart I do believe him dead."

"And ye ask me to eat!" she cried. "Ay, and they call you 'sir!'
Y' have won your spurs by my good kinsman's murder. And had I not
been fool and traitor both, and saved you in your enemy's house, ye
should have died the death, and he--he that was worth twelve of
you--were living."

"I did but my man's best, even as your kinsman did upon the other
party," answered Dick. "Were he still living--as I vow to Heaven I
wish it!--he would praise, not blame me."

"Sir Daniel hath told me," she replied. "He marked you at the
barricade. Upon you, he saith, their party foundered; it was you
that won the battle. Well, then, it was you that killed my good
Lord Risingham, as sure as though ye had strangled him. And ye
would have me eat with you--and your hands not washed from killing?
But Sir Daniel hath sworn your downfall. He 'tis that will avenge

The unfortunate Dick was plunged in gloom. Old Arblaster returned
upon his mind, and he groaned aloud.

"Do ye hold me so guilty?" he said; "you that defended me--you that
are Joanna's friend?"

"What made ye in the battle?" she retorted. "Y' are of no party;
y' are but a lad--but legs and body, without government of wit or
counsel! Wherefore did ye fight? For the love of hurt, pardy!"

"Nay," cried Dick, "I know not. But as the realm of England goes,
if that a poor gentleman fight not upon the one side, perforce he
must fight upon the other. He may not stand alone; 'tis not in

"They that have no judgment should not draw the sword," replied the
young lady. "Ye that fight but for a hazard, what are ye but a
butcher? War is but noble by the cause, and y' have disgraced it."

"Madam," said the miserable Dick, "I do partly see mine error. I
have made too much haste; I have been busy before my time. Already
I stole a ship--thinking, I do swear it, to do well--and thereby
brought about the death of many innocent, and the grief and ruin of
a poor old man whose face this very day hath stabbed me like a
dagger. And for this morning, I did but design to do myself
credit, and get fame to marry with, and, behold! I have brought
about the death of your dear kinsman that was good to me. And what
besides, I know not. For, alas! I may have set York upon the
throne, and that may be the worser cause, and may do hurt to
England. O, madam, I do see my sin. I am unfit for life. I will,
for penance sake and to avoid worse evil, once I have finished this
adventure, get me to a cloister. I will forswear Joanna and the
trade of arms. I will be a friar, and pray for your good kinsman's
spirit all my days."

It appeared to Dick, in this extremity of his humiliation and
repentance, that the young lady had laughed.

Raising his countenance, he found her looking down upon him, in the
fire-light, with a somewhat peculiar but not unkind expression.

"Madam," he cried, thinking the laughter to have been an illusion
of his hearing, but still, from her changed looks, hoping to have
touched her heart, "madam, will not this content you? I give up
all to undo what I have done amiss; I make heaven certain for Lord
Risingham. And all this upon the very day that I have won my
spurs, and thought myself the happiest young gentleman on ground."

"O boy," she said--"good boy!"

And then, to the extreme surprise of Dick, she first very tenderly
wiped the tears away from his cheeks, and then, as if yielding to a
sudden impulse, threw both her arms about his neck, drew up his
face, and kissed him. A pitiful bewilderment came over simple-
minded Dick.

"But come," she said, with great cheerfulness, "you that are a
captain, ye must eat. Why sup ye not?"

"Dear Mistress Risingham," replied Dick, "I did but wait first upon
my prisoner; but, to say truth, penitence will no longer suffer me
to endure the sight of food. I were better to fast, dear lady, and
to pray."

"Call me Alicia," she said; "are we not old friends? And now,
come, I will eat with you, bit for bit and sup for sup; so if ye
eat not, neither will I; but if ye eat hearty, I will dine like a

So there and then she fell to; and Dick, who had an excellent
stomach, proceeded to bear her company, at first with great
reluctance, but gradually, as he entered into the spirit, with more
and more vigour and devotion: until, at last, he forgot even to
watch his model, and most heartily repaired the expenses of his day
of labour and excitement.

"Lion-driver," she said, at length, "ye do not admire a maid in a
man's jerkin?"

The moon was now up; and they were only waiting to repose the
wearied horses. By the moon's light, the still penitent but now
well-fed Richard beheld her looking somewhat coquettishly down upon

"Madam"--he stammered, surprised at this new turn in her manners.

"Nay," she interrupted, "it skills not to deny; Joanna hath told
me, but come, Sir Lion-driver, look at me--am I so homely--come!"

And she made bright eyes at him.

"Ye are something smallish, indeed"--began Dick.

And here again she interrupted him, this time with a ringing peal
of laughter that completed his confusion and surprise.

"Smallish!" she cried. "Nay, now, be honest as ye are bold; I am a
dwarf, or little better; but for all that--come, tell me!--for all
that, passably fair to look upon; is't not so?"

"Nay, madam, exceedingly fair," said the distressed knight,
pitifully trying to seem easy.

"And a man would be right glad to wed me?" she pursued.

"O, madam, right glad!" agreed Dick.

"Call me Alicia," said she.

"Alicia," quoth Sir Richard.

"Well, then, lion-driver," she continued, "sith that ye slew my
kinsman, and left me without stay, ye owe me, in honour, every
reparation; do ye not?"

"I do, madam," said Dick. "Although, upon my heart, I do hold me
but partially guilty of that brave knight's blood."

"Would ye evade me?" she cried.

"Madam, not so. I have told you; at your bidding, I will even turn
me a monk," said Richard.

"Then, in honour, ye belong to me?" she concluded.

"In honour, madam, I suppose"--began the young man.

"Go to!" she interrupted; "ye are too full of catches. In honour
do ye belong to me, till ye have paid the evil?"

"In honour, I do," said Dick.

"Hear, then," she continued; "Ye would make but a sad friar,
methinks; and since I am to dispose of you at pleasure, I will even
take you for my husband. Nay, now, no words!" cried she. "They
will avail you nothing. For see how just it is, that you who
deprived me of one home, should supply me with another. And as for
Joanna, she will be the first, believe me, to commend the change;
for, after all, as we be dear friends, what matters it with which
of us ye wed? Not one whit!"

"Madam," said Dick, "I will go into a cloister, an ye please to bid
me; but to wed with anyone in this big world besides Joanna Sedley
is what I will consent to neither for man's force nor yet for
lady's pleasure. Pardon me if I speak my plain thoughts plainly;
but where a maid is very bold, a poor man must even be the bolder."

"Dick," she said, "ye sweet boy, ye must come and kiss me for that
word. Nay, fear not, ye shall kiss me for Joanna; and when we
meet, I shall give it back to her, and say I stole it. And as for
what ye owe me, why, dear simpleton, methinks ye were not alone in
that great battle; and even if York be on the throne, it was not
you that set him there. But for a good, sweet, honest heart, Dick,
y' are all that; and if I could find it in my soul to envy your
Joanna anything, I would even envy her your love."


The horses had by this time finished the small store of provender,
and fully breathed from their fatigues. At Dick's command, the
fire was smothered in snow; and while his men got once more wearily
to saddle, he himself, remembering, somewhat late, true woodland
caution, chose a tall oak and nimbly clambered to the topmost fork.
Hence he could look far abroad on the moonlit and snow-paven
forest. On the south-west, dark against the horizon, stood those
upland, heathy quarters where he and Joanna had met with the
terrifying misadventure of the leper. And there his eye was caught
by a spot of ruddy brightness no bigger than a needle's eye.

He blamed himself sharply for his previous neglect. Were that, as
it appeared to be, the shining of Sir Daniel's camp-fire, he should
long ago have seen and marched for it; above all, he should, for no
consideration, have announced his neighbourhood by lighting a fire
of his own. But now he must no longer squander valuable hours.
The direct way to the uplands was about two miles in length; but it
was crossed by a very deep, precipitous dingle, impassable to
mounted men; and for the sake of speed, it seemed to Dick advisable
to desert the horses and attempt the adventure on foot.

Ten men were left to guard the horses; signals were agreed upon by
which they could communicate in case of need; and Dick set forth at
the head of the remainder, Alicia Risingham walking stoutly by his

The men had freed themselves of heavy armour, and left behind their
lances; and they now marched with a very good spirit in the frozen
snow, and under the exhilarating lustre of the moon. The descent
into the dingle, where a stream strained sobbing through the snow
and ice, was effected with silence and order; and on the further
side, being then within a short half mile of where Dick had seen
the glimmer of the fire, the party halted to breathe before the

In the vast silence of the wood, the lightest sounds were audible
from far; and Alicia, who was keen of hearing, held up her finger
warningly and stooped to listen. All followed her example; but
besides the groans of the choked brook in the dingle close behind,
and the barking of a fox at a distance of many miles among the
forest, to Dick's acutest hearkening, not a breath was audible.

"But yet, for sure, I heard the clash of harness," whispered

"Madam," returned Dick, who was more afraid of that young lady than
of ten stout warriors, "I would not hint ye were mistaken; but it
might well have come from either of the camps."

"It came not thence. It came from westward," she declared.

"It may be what it will," returned Dick; "and it must be as heaven
please. Reck we not a jot, but push on the livelier, and put it to
the touch. Up, friends--enough breathed."

As they advanced, the snow became more and more trampled with hoof-
marks, and it was plain that they were drawing near to the
encampment of a considerable force of mounted men. Presently they
could see the smoke pouring from among the trees, ruddily coloured
on its lower edge and scattering bright sparks.

And here, pursuant to Dick's orders, his men began to open out,
creeping stealthily in the covert, to surround on every side the
camp of their opponents. He himself, placing Alicia in the shelter
of a bulky oak, stole straight forth in the direction of the fire.

At last, through an opening of the wood, his eye embraced the scene
of the encampment. The fire had been built upon a heathy hummock
of the ground, surrounded on three sides by thicket, and it now
burned very strong, roaring aloud and brandishing flames. Around
it there sat not quite a dozen people, warmly cloaked; but though
the neighbouring snow was trampled down as by a regiment, Dick
looked in vain for any horse. He began to have a terrible
misgiving that he was out-manoeuvred. At the same time, in a tall
man with a steel salet, who was spreading his hands before the
blaze, he recognised his old friend and still kindly enemy, Bennet
Hatch; and in two others, sitting a little back, he made out, even
in their male disguise, Joanna Sedley and Sir Daniel's wife.

"Well," thought he to himself, "even if I lose my horses, let me
get my Joanna, and why should I complain?"

And then, from the further side of the encampment, there came a
little whistle, announcing that his men had joined, and the
investment was complete.

Bennet, at the sound, started to his feet; but ere he had time to
spring upon his arms, Dick hailed him.

"Bennet," he said--"Bennet, old friend, yield ye. Ye will but
spill men's lives in vain, if ye resist."

"'Tis Master Shelton, by St. Barbary!" cried Hatch. "Yield me? Ye
ask much. What force have ye?"

"I tell you, Bennet, ye are both outnumbered and begirt," said
Dick. "Caesar and Charlemagne would cry for quarter. I have two
score men at my whistle, and with one shoot of arrows I could
answer for you all."

"Master Dick," said Bennet, "it goes against my heart; but I must
do my duty. The saints help you!" And therewith he raised a
little tucket to his mouth and wound a rousing call.

Then followed a moment of confusion; for while Dick, fearing for
the ladies, still hesitated to give the word to shoot, Hatch's
little band sprang to their weapons and formed back to back as for
a fierce resistance. In the hurry of their change of place, Joanna
sprang from her seat and ran like an arrow to her lover's side.

"Here, Dick!" she cried, as she clasped his hand in hers.

But Dick still stood irresolute; he was yet young to the more
deplorable necessities of war, and the thought of old Lady Brackley
checked the command upon his tongue. His own men became restive.
Some of them cried on him by name; others, of their own accord,
began to shoot; and at the first discharge poor Bennet bit the
dust. Then Dick awoke.

"On!" he cried. "Shoot, boys, and keep to cover. England and

But just then the dull beat of many horses on the snow suddenly
arose in the hollow ear of the night, and, with incredible
swiftness, drew nearer and swelled louder. At the same time,
answering tuckets repeated and repeated Hatch's call.

"Rally, rally!" cried Dick. "Rally upon me! Rally for your

But his men--afoot, scattered, taken in the hour when they had
counted on an easy triumph--began instead to give ground severally,
and either stood wavering or dispersed into the thickets. And when
the first of the horsemen came charging through the open avenues
and fiercely riding their steeds into the underwood, a few
stragglers were overthrown or speared among the brush, but the bulk
of Dick's command had simply melted at the rumour of their coming.

Dick stood for a moment, bitterly recognising the fruits of his
precipitate and unwise valour. Sir Daniel had seen the fire; he
had moved out with his main force, whether to attack his pursuers
or to take them in the rear if they should venture the assault.
His had been throughout the part of a sagacious captain; Dick's the
conduct of an eager boy. And here was the young knight, his
sweetheart, indeed, holding him tightly by the hand, but otherwise
alone, his whole command of men and horses dispersed in the night
and the wide forest, like a paper of pins in a bay barn.

"The saints enlighten me!" he thought. "It is well I was knighted
for this morning's matter; this doth me little honour."

And thereupon, still holding Joanna, he began to run.

The silence of the night was now shattered by the shouts of the men
of Tunstall, as they galloped hither and thither, hunting
fugitives; and Dick broke boldly through the underwood and ran
straight before him like a deer. The silver clearness of the moon
upon the open snow increased, by contrast, the obscurity of the
thickets; and the extreme dispersion of the vanquished led the
pursuers into wildly divergent paths. Hence, in but a little
while, Dick and Joanna paused, in a close covert, and heard the
sounds of the pursuit, scattering abroad, indeed, in all
directions, but yet fainting already in the distance.

"An I had but kept a reserve of them together," Dick cried,
bitterly, "I could have turned the tables yet! Well, we live and
learn; next time it shall go better, by the rood."

"Nay, Dick," said Joanna, "what matters it? Here we are together
once again."

He looked at her, and there she was--John Matcham, as of yore, in
hose and doublet. But now he knew her; now, even in that ungainly
dress, she smiled upon him, bright with love; and his heart was
transported with joy.

"Sweetheart," he said, "if ye forgive this blunderer, what care I?
Make we direct for Holywood; there lieth your good guardian and my
better friend, Lord Foxham. There shall we be wed; and whether
poor or wealthy, famous or unknown, what, matters it? This day,
dear love, I won my spurs; I was commended by great men for my
valour; I thought myself the goodliest man of war in all broad
England. Then, first, I fell out of my favour with the great; and
now have I been well thrashed, and clean lost my soldiers. There
was a downfall for conceit! But, dear, I care not--dear, if ye
still love me and will wed, I would have my knighthood done away,
and mind it not a jot."

"My Dick!" she cried. "And did they knight you?"

"Ay, dear, ye are my lady now," he answered, fondly; "or ye shall,
ere noon to-morrow--will ye not?"

"That will I, Dick, with a glad heart," she answered.

"Ay, sir? Methought ye were to be a monk!" said a voice in their

"Alicia!" cried Joanna.

"Even so," replied the young lady, coming forward. "Alicia, whom
ye left for dead, and whom your lion-driver found, and brought to
life again, and, by my sooth, made love to, if ye want to know!"

"I'll not believe it," cried Joanna. "Dick!"

"Dick!" mimicked Alicia. "Dick, indeed! Ay, fair sir, and ye
desert poor damsels in distress," she continued, turning to the
young knight. "Ye leave them planted behind oaks. But they say
true--the age of chivalry is dead."

"Madam," cried Dick, in despair, "upon my soul I had forgotten you
outright. Madam, ye must try to pardon me. Ye see, I had new
found Joanna!"

"I did not suppose that ye had done it o' purpose," she retorted.
"But I will be cruelly avenged. I will tell a secret to my Lady
Shelton--she that is to be," she added, curtseying. "Joanna," she
continued, "I believe, upon my soul, your sweetheart is a bold
fellow in a fight, but he is, let me tell you plainly, the softest-
hearted simpleton in England. Go to--ye may do your pleasure with
him! And now, fool children, first kiss me, either one of you, for
luck and kindness; and then kiss each other just one minute by the
glass, and not one second longer; and then let us all three set
forth for Holywood as fast as we can stir; for these woods,
methinks, are full of peril and exceeding cold."

"But did my Dick make love to you?" asked Joanna, clinging to her
sweetheart's side.

"Nay, fool girl," returned Alicia; "it was I made love to him. I
offered to marry him, indeed; but he bade me go marry with my
likes. These were his words. Nay, that I will say: he is more
plain than pleasant. But now, children, for the sake of sense, set
forward. Shall we go once more over the dingle, or push straight
for Holywood?"

"Why," said Dick, "I would like dearly to get upon a horse; for I
have been sore mauled and beaten, one way and another, these last
days, and my poor body is one bruise. But how think ye? If the
men, upon the alarm of the fighting, had fled away, we should have
gone about for nothing. 'Tis but some three short miles to
Holywood direct; the bell hath not beat nine; the snow is pretty
firm to walk upon, the moon clear; how if we went even as we are?"

"Agreed," cried Alicia; but Joanna only pressed upon Dick's arm.

Forth, then, they went, through open leafless groves and down snow-
clad alleys, under the white face of the winter moon; Dick and
Joanna walking hand in hand and in a heaven of pleasure; and their
light-minded companion, her own bereavements heartily forgotten,
followed a pace or two behind, now rallying them upon their
silence, and now drawing happy pictures of their future and united

Still, indeed, in the distance of the wood, the riders of Tunstall
might be heard urging their pursuit; and from time to time cries or
the clash of steel announced the shock of enemies. But in these
young folk, bred among the alarms of war, and fresh from such a
multiplicity of dangers, neither fear nor pity could be lightly
wakened. Content to find the sounds still drawing farther and
farther away, they gave up their hearts to the enjoyment of the
hour, walking already, as Alicia put it, in a wedding procession;
and neither the rude solitude of the forest, nor the cold of the
freezing night, had any force to shadow or distract their

At length, from a rising hill, they looked below them on the dell
of Holywood. The great windows of the forest abbey shone with
torch and candle; its high pinnacles and spires arose very clear
and silent, and the gold rood upon the topmost summit glittered
brightly in the moon. All about it, in the open glade, camp-fires
were burning, and the ground was thick with huts; and across the
midst of the picture the frozen river curved.

"By the mass," said Richard, "there are Lord Foxham's fellows still
encamped. The messenger hath certainly miscarried. Well, then, so
better. We have power at hand to face Sir Daniel."

But if Lord Foxham's men still lay encamped in the long holm at
Holywood, it was from a different reason from the one supposed by
Dick. They had marched, indeed, for Shoreby; but ere they were
half way thither, a second messenger met them, and bade them return
to their morning's camp, to bar the road against Lancastrian
fugitives, and to be so much nearer to the main army of York. For
Richard of Gloucester, having finished the battle and stamped out
his foes in that district, was already on the march to rejoin his
brother; and not long after the return of my Lord Foxham's
retainers, Crookback himself drew rein before the abbey door. It
was in honour of this august visitor that the windows shone with
lights; and at the hour of Dick's arrival with his sweetheart and
her friend, the whole ducal party was being entertained in the
refectory with the splendour of that powerful and luxurious

Dick, not quite with his good will, was brought before them.
Gloucester, sick with fatigue, sat leaning upon one hand his white
and terrifying countenance; Lord Foxham, half recovered from his
wound, was in a place of honour on his left.

"How, sir?" asked Richard. "Have ye brought me Sir Daniel's head?"

"My lord duke," replied Dick, stoutly enough, but with a qualm at
heart, "I have not even the good fortune to return with my command.
I have been, so please your grace, well beaten."

Gloucester looked upon him with a formidable frown.

"I gave you fifty lances, {3} sir," he said.

"My lord duke, I had but fifty men-at-arms," replied the young

"How is this?" said Gloucester. "He did ask me fifty lances."

"May it please your grace," replied Catesby, smoothly, "for a
pursuit we gave him but the horsemen."

"It is well," replied Richard, adding, "Shelton, ye may go."

"Stay!" said Lord Foxham. "This young man likewise had a charge
from me. It may be he hath better sped. Say, Master Shelton, have
ye found the maid?"

"I praise the saints, my lord," said Dick, "she is in this house."

"Is it even so? Well, then, my lord the duke," resumed Lord
Foxham, "with your good will, to-morrow, before the army march, I
do propose a marriage. This young squire--"

"Young knight," interrupted Catesby.

"Say ye so, Sir William?" cried Lord Foxham.

"I did myself, and for good service, dub him knight," said
Gloucester. "He hath twice manfully served me. It is not valour
of hands, it is a man's mind of iron, that he lacks. He will not
rise, Lord Foxham. 'Tis a fellow that will fight indeed bravely in
a mellay, but hath a capon's heart. Howbeit, if he is to marry,
marry him in the name of Mary, and be done!"

"Nay, he is a brave lad--I know it," said Lord Foxham. "Content
ye, then, Sir Richard. I have compounded this affair with Master
Hamley, and to-morrow ye shall wed."

Whereupon Dick judged it prudent to withdraw; but he was not yet
clear of the refectory, when a man, but newly alighted at the gate,
came running four stairs at a bound, and, brushing through the
abbey servants, threw himself on one knee before the duke.

"Victory, my lord," he cried.

And before Dick had got to the chamber set apart for him as Lord
Foxham's guest, the troops in the holm were cheering around their
fires; for upon that same day, not twenty miles away, a second
crushing blow had been dealt to the power of Lancaster.


The next morning Dick was afoot before the sun, and having dressed
himself to the best advantage with the aid of the Lord Foxham's
baggage, and got good reports of Joan, he set forth on foot to walk
away his impatience.

For some while he made rounds among the soldiery, who were getting
to arms in the wintry twilight of the dawn and by the red glow of
torches; but gradually he strolled further afield, and at length
passed clean beyond the outposts, and walked alone in the frozen
forest, waiting for the sun.

His thoughts were both quiet and happy. His brief favour with the
Duke he could not find it in his heart to mourn; with Joan to wife,
and my Lord Foxham for a faithful patron, he looked most happily
upon the future; and in the past he found but little to regret.

As he thus strolled and pondered, the solemn light of the morning
grew more clear, the east was already coloured by the sun, and a
little scathing wind blew up the frozen snow. He turned to go
home; but even as he turned, his eye lit upon a figure behind, a

"Stand!" he cried. "Who goes?"

The figure stepped forth and waved its hand like a dumb person. It
was arrayed like a pilgrim, the hood lowered over the face, but
Dick, in an instant, recognised Sir Daniel.

He strode up to him, drawing his sword; and the knight, putting his
hand in his bosom, as if to seize a hidden weapon, steadfastly
awaited his approach.

"Well, Dickon," said Sir Daniel, "how is it to be? Do ye make war
upon the fallen?"

"I made no war upon your life," replied the lad; "I was your true
friend until ye sought for mine; but ye have sought for it

"Nay--self-defence," replied the knight. "And now, boy, the news
of this battle, and the presence of yon crooked devil here in mine
own wood, have broken me beyond all help. I go to Holywood for
sanctuary; thence overseas, with what I can carry, and to begin
life again in Burgundy or France."

"Ye may not go to Holywood," said Dick.

"How! May not?" asked the knight.

"Look ye, Sir Daniel, this is my marriage morn," said Dick; "and
yon sun that is to rise will make the brightest day that ever shone
for me. Your life is forfeit--doubly forfeit, for my father's
death and your own practices to meward. But I myself have done
amiss; I have brought about men's deaths; and upon this glad day I
will be neither judge nor hangman. An ye were the devil, I would
not lay a hand on you. An ye were the devil, ye might go where ye
will for me. Seek God's forgiveness; mine ye have freely. But to
go on to Holywood is different. I carry arms for York, and I will
suffer no spy within their lines. Hold it, then, for certain, if
ye set one foot before another, I will uplift my voice and call the
nearest post to seize you."

"Ye mock me," said Sir Daniel. "I have no safety out of Holywood."

"I care no more," returned Richard. "I let you go east, west, or
south; north I will not. Holywood is shut against you. Go, and
seek not to return. For, once ye are gone, I will warn every post
about this army, and there will be so shrewd a watch upon all
pilgrims that, once again, were ye the very devil, ye would find it
ruin to make the essay."

"Ye doom me," said Sir Daniel, gloomily.

"I doom you not," returned Richard. "If it so please you to set
your valour against mine, come on; and though I fear it be disloyal
to my party, I will take the challenge openly and fully, fight you
with mine own single strength, and call for none to help me. So
shall I avenge my father, with a perfect conscience."

"Ay," said Sir Daniel, "y' have a long sword against my dagger."

"I rely upon Heaven only," answered Dick, casting his sword some
way behind him on the snow. "Now, if your ill-fate bids you, come;
and, under the pleasure of the Almighty, I make myself bold to feed
your bones to foxes."

"I did but try you, Dickon," returned the knight, with an uneasy
semblance of a laugh. "I would not spill your blood."

"Go, then, ere it be too late," replied Shelton. "In five minutes
I will call the post. I do perceive that I am too long-suffering.
Had but our places been reversed, I should have been bound hand and
foot some minutes past."

"Well, Dickon, I will go," replied Sir Daniel. "When we next meet,
it shall repent you that ye were so harsh."

And with these words, the knight turned and began to move off under
the trees. Dick watched him with strangely-mingled feelings, as he
went, swiftly and warily, and ever and again turning a wicked eye
upon the lad who had spared him, and whom he still suspected.

There was upon one side of where he went a thicket, strongly matted
with green ivy, and, even in its winter state, impervious to the
eye. Herein, all of a sudden, a bow sounded like a note of music.
An arrow flew, and with a great, choked cry of agony and anger, the
Knight of Tunstall threw up his hands and fell forward in the snow.

Dick bounded to his side and raised him. His face desperately
worked; his whole body was shaken by contorting spasms.

"Is the arrow black?" he gasped.

"It is black," replied Dick, gravely.

And then, before he could add one word, a desperate seizure of pain
shook the wounded man from head to foot, so that his body leaped in
Dick's supporting arms, and with the extremity of that pang his
spirit fled in silence.

The young man laid him back gently on the snow and prayed for that
unprepared and guilty spirit, and as he prayed the sun came up at a
bound, and the robins began chirping in the ivy.

When he rose to his feet, he found another man upon his knees but a
few steps behind him, and, still with uncovered head, he waited
until that prayer also should be over. It took long; the man, with
his head bowed and his face covered with his hands, prayed like one
in a great disorder or distress of mind; and by the bow that lay
beside him, Dick judged that he was no other than the archer who
had laid Sir Daniel low.

At length he, also, rose, and showed the countenance of Ellis

"Richard," he said, very gravely, "I heard you. Ye took the better
part and pardoned; I took the worse, and there lies the clay of
mine enemy. Pray for me."

And he wrung him by the hand.

"Sir," said Richard, "I will pray for you, indeed; though how I may
prevail I wot not. But if ye have so long pursued revenge, and
find it now of such a sorry flavour, bethink ye, were it not well
to pardon others? Hatch--he is dead, poor shrew! I would have
spared a better; and for Sir Daniel, here lies his body. But for
the priest, if I might anywise prevail, I would have you let him

A flash came into the eyes of Ellis Duckworth.

"Nay," he said, "the devil is still strong within me. But be at
rest; the Black Arrow flieth nevermore--the fellowship is broken.
They that still live shall come to their quiet and ripe end, in
Heaven's good time, for me; and for yourself, go where your better
fortune calls you, and think no more of Ellis."


About nine in the morning, Lord Foxham was leading his ward, once
more dressed as befitted her sex, and followed by Alicia Risingham,
to the church of Holywood, when Richard Crookback, his brow already
heavy with cares, crossed their path and paused.

"Is this the maid?" he asked; and when Lord Foxham had replied in
the affirmative, "Minion," he added, "hold up your face until I see
its favour."

He looked upon her sourly for a little.

"Ye are fair," he said at last, "and, as they tell me, dowered.
How if I offered you a brave marriage, as became your face and

"My lord duke," replied Joanna, "may it please your grace, I had
rather wed with Sir Richard."

"How so?" he asked, harshly. "Marry but the man I name to you, and
he shall be my lord, and you my lady, before night. For Sir
Richard, let me tell you plainly, he will die Sir Richard."

"I ask no more of Heaven, my lord, than but to die Sir Richard's
wife," returned Joanna.

"Look ye at that, my lord," said Gloucester, turning to Lord
Foxham. "Here be a pair for you. The lad, when for good services
I gave him his choice of my favour, chose but the grace of an old,
drunken shipman. I did warn him freely, but he was stout in his
besottedness. 'Here dieth your favour,' said I; and he, my lord,
with a most assured impertinence, 'Mine be the loss,' quoth he. It
shall be so, by the rood!"

"Said he so?" cried Alicia. "Then well said, lion-driver!"

"Who is this?" asked the duke.

"A prisoner of Sir Richard's," answered Lord Foxham; "Mistress
Alicia Risingham."

"See that she be married to a sure man," said the duke.

"I had thought of my kinsman, Hamley, an it like your grace,"
returned Lord Foxham. "He hath well served the cause."

"It likes me well," said Richard. "Let them be wedded speedily.
Say, fair maid, will you wed?"

"My lord duke," said Alicia, "so as the man is straight"--And
there, in a perfect consternation, the voice died on her tongue.

"He is straight, my mistress," replied Richard, calmly. "I am the
only crookback of my party; we are else passably well shapen.
Ladies, and you, my lord," he added, with a sudden change to grave
courtesy, "judge me not too churlish if I leave you. A captain, in
the time of war, hath not the ordering of his hours."

And with a very handsome salutation he passed on, followed by his

"Alack," cried Alicia, "I am shent!"

"Ye know him not," replied Lord Foxham. "It is but a trifle; he
hath already clean forgot your words."

"He is, then, the very flower of knighthood," said Alicia.

"Nay, he but mindeth other things," returned Lord Foxham. "Tarry
we no more."

In the chancel they found Dick waiting, attended by a few young
men; and there were he and Joan united. When they came forth
again, happy and yet serious, into the frosty air and sunlight, the
long files of the army were already winding forward up the road;
already the Duke of Gloucester's banner was unfolded and began to
move from before the abbey in a clump of spears; and behind it,
girt by steel-clad knights, the bold, black-hearted, and ambitious
hunchback moved on towards his brief kingdom and his lasting
infamy. But the wedding party turned upon the other side, and sat
down, with sober merriment, to breakfast. The father cellarer
attended on their wants, and sat with them at table. Hamley, all
jealousy forgotten, began to ply the nowise loth Alicia with
courtship. And there, amid the sounding of tuckets and the clash
of armoured soldiery and horses continually moving forth, Dick and
Joan sat side by side, tenderly held hands, and looked, with ever
growing affection, in each other's eyes.

Thenceforth the dust and blood of that unruly epoch passed them by.
They dwelt apart from alarms in the green forest where their love

Two old men in the meanwhile enjoyed pensions in great prosperity
and peace, and with perhaps a superfluity of ale and wine, in
Tunstall hamlet. One had been all his life a shipman, and
continued to the last to lament his man Tom. The other, who had
been a bit of everything, turned in the end towards piety, and made
a most religious death under the name of Brother Honestus in the
neighbouring abbey. So Lawless had his will, and died a friar.


{1} At the date of this story, Richard Crookback could not have
been created Duke of Gloucester; but for clearness, with the
reader's leave, he shall so be called.

{2} Richard Crookback would have been really far younger at this

{3} Technically, the term "lance" included a not quite certain
number of foot soldiers attached to the man-at-arms.

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