Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Jill Diffendal.
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THE LANCES OF LYNWOOD
by CHARLOTTE M. YONGE
For an explanation of the allusions in the present Tale, scarcely
any Notes are necessary, save a reference to the bewitching Chronicle
of Froissart; and we cannot but hope that our sketch may serve as
an inducement to some young readers to make acquaintance with the
delectable old Canon for themselves, undeterred by the size of his
The story of Orthon is almost verbally copied from him, and bears
a curious resemblance to various German legends--such as that of
"Heinzelman," to be found in Keightley's "Fairy Mythology," and to
"Teague of the Lea," as related in Croker's "Irish Fairy Legends."
The old French "Vie de Bertrand du Guesclin" has likewise been
drawn upon for materials, and would have supplied much more of
great interest, such as Enrique of Trastamare's arrival in the
disguise of a palmer, to consult with him during his captivity at
Bordeaux, and many most curious anecdotes of his early childhood
To Breton tradition, his excellent wife Epiphanie Raguenel owes
her title of Tiphaine la fee, meaning that she was endowed with
magic power, which enabled her to predict what would be lucky or
unlucky days for her husband. His disregard of them was thought
to have twice cost him the loss of a battle.
We must apologize for having made Henry of Lancaster a year or two
older than is warranted by the date of his birth.
THE LANCES OF LYNWOOD
Seldom had the interior of this island presented a more peaceful
and prosperous aspect than in the reign of Edward III., when the
more turbulent spirits among his subjects had found occupation
in his foreign wars, and his wise government had established at
home a degree of plenty, tranquility, and security, such as had
probably never before been experienced in England.
Castle and cottage, church and convent, alike showed the prosperity
and safety of the inhabitants, at once by the profuseness of
embellishment in those newly erected, and by the neglect of the
jealous precautions required in former days of confusion and
misrule. Thus it was with the village of Lynwood, where, among
the cottages and farm-houses occupying a fertile valley in
Somersetshire, arose the ancient Keep, built of gray stone,
and strongly fortified; but the defences were kept up rather
as appendages of the owner's rank, than as requisite for his
protection; though the moat was clear of weeds, and full of
water, the drawbridge was so well covered with hard-trodden
earth, overgrown at the edges with grass, that, in spite of
the massive chains connecting it with the gateway, it seemed
permanently fixed on the ground. The spikes of the portcullis
frowned above in threatening array, but a wreath of ivy was
twining up the groove by which it had once descended, and the
archway, which by day stood hospitably open, was at night only
guarded by two large oaken doors, yielding to a slight push.
Beneath the southern wall of the castle court were various
flower-beds, the pride and delight of the old seneschal, Ralph
Penrose, in his own estimation the most important personage of
Lynwood Keep, manager of the servants, adviser of the Lady, and
instructor of the young gentleman in the exercises of chivalry.
One fine evening, old Ralph stood before the door, his bald forehead
and thin iron-gray locks unbonneted, and his dark ruddy-brown face
(marked at Halidon Hill with a deep scar) raised with an air of
deference, and yet of self-satisfaction, towards the Lady who stood
on the steps of the porch. She was small and fragile in figure; her
face, though very lovely, was pale and thin, and her smile had in it
something pensive and almost melancholy, as she listened to his
narration of his dealings with a refractory tenant, and at the same
time watched a noble-looking child of seven or eight years old, who,
mounted on an old war-horse, was led round the court by a youth, his
elder by some ten or eleven years.
"See mother!" cried the child, "I am holding the reins myself. Uncle
Eustace lays not a finger on them!"
"As I was saying, madam," continued Ralph, disregarding the
interruption, "I told him that I should not have thought of one
exempted from feudal service in the camp, by our noble Knight,
being deficient in his dues in his absence. I told him we should
see how he liked to be sent packing to Bordeaux with a sheaf of
arrows on his back, instead of the sheaf of wheat which ought to
be in our granary by this time. But you are too gentle with them,
my Lady, and they grow insolent in Sir Reginald's long absence."
"All goes ill in his absence, said the Lady. "It is a weary while
since the wounded archer brought tidings of his speedy return."
"Therefore," said the youth, turning round, "it must be the nearer
at hand. Come sweet sister Eleanor, cheer up, for he cannot but
"So many _soons_ have passed away, that my heart is well-nigh too
sick for hope," said Eleanor. "And when he comes it will be but a
bright dream to last for a moment. He cannot long be spared from
the Prince's side."
"You must go with him, then, sister, and see how I begin my days of
chivalry--that is, if he will but believe me fit to bear shield and
"Ah! Master Eustace, if you were but such as I have seen others
of your race," said Ralph, shaking his head. "There was Sir Henry
--at your age he had made the Scottish thieves look about them, I
promise you. And to go no further back than Sir Reginald himself--
he stood by the Prince's side at Crecy ere he was yet fifteen!"
"It is not my fault that I have not done as much, Ralph," said
Eustace. "It is not for want of the will, as you know full well."
"No. Thanks to me, I trust you have the will and the teaching, at
least, to make a good Knight," said Ralph. "And yet, while I think
of the goodly height and broad shoulders of those that have gone
"But hark! hark!" cried Eustace, cutting short a comparison which did
not seem likely to be complimentary. "Dost not hear, Ralph? A horn!"
"The Lynwood note! My husband's note! O thanks, thanks to the
Saints!" cried the Lady, clasping her hands, whilst Eustace,
vaulting into the saddle behind his little nephew, rode across the
drawbridge as fast as the stiffened joints of old Blanc Etoile
could be prevailed on to move. Gaining the summit of a rising
ground, both at once shouted, "Our own pennon! It is himself!"
as they beheld the dark blue crosslet on an argent field floating
above a troop of horsemen, whose armour glanced in the setting sun.
"There are the Lances of Lynwood, Arthur," said Eustace, leaping
to the ground. "Keep your seat, and meet your father like a brave
He then settled the reins in the child's hand, and walked beside
him to meet the new-comers. They were about twenty in number, armed
alike with corselets marked with the blue cross, steel headpieces,
and long lances. In front rode two of higher rank. The first was
a man of noble mien and lofty stature, his short dark curled hair
and beard, and handsome though sunburnt countenance, displayed
beneath his small blue velvet cap, his helmet being carried behind
him by a man-at-arms, and his attire consisting of a close-fitting
dress of chamois leather, a white mantle embroidered with the blue
cross thrown over one shoulder, and his sword hanging by his side.
His companion, who carried at his saddle-bow a shield blazoned with
heraldic devices in scarlet and gold, was of still greater height,
and very slight; his large keen eyes, hair and moustache, black as
jet; and his complexion dark brown, with a well-formed aquiline nose,
and a perfect and very white set of teeth.
The instant the first-mentioned horseman perceived Eustace and
Arthur, he sprang to the ground and hurried to meet them with
rapid affectionate greetings and inquiries. In another moment
Dame Eleanor appeared on the drawbridge, and, weeping with
joy, was clasped in her husband's arms. Behind her stood the
venerable chaplain, Father Cyril, and a step or two further off,
Ralph Penrose, both of whom in turn received the kindly greetings
of Sir Reginald Lynwood, as, with his wife hanging on his arm and
his boy holding his hand, he passed under the gateway of his
ancestral castle. Turning the next moment, he addressed his tall
companion: "Friend Gaston, I bid you welcome! Dame Eleanor, and
you, brother Eustace, I present to you my trusty Esquire, Master
Due courtesies passed between the Lady and the Squire, who, after
a few words with the Knight, remained to see the disposal of the
men, while Sir Reginald himself entered the hall with his wife,
son and brother. Eustace did not long remain there: he found that
Reginald and Eleanor had much to say to each other, and his curiosity
and interest were, besides, greatly excited by the novelty of the
scene presented by the castle court, so different from its usual
peaceful monotony. The men were unsaddling their horses, rubbing
them down, walking them about, or removing the stains of dust and
mud from their own armour, while others were exchanging greetings
with the villagers, who were gathering in joyous parties round such
of the newly arrived as were natives of the place.
In the midst stood the strange Squire, superintending a horse-boy
who was rubbing down the Knight's tall war-horse, and at the
same time ordering, giving directions, answering inquiries, or
granting permission to the men to return home with their relations.
Ralph Penrose was near, his countenance, as Eustace could plainly
perceive, expressing little satisfaction at finding another authority
in the court of Lynwood Keep; the references to himself short, brief,
and rapid, and only made when ignorance of the locality compelled the
stranger to apply for information. The French accent and occasional
French phrases with which the Squire spoke, made him contract his
brow more and more, and at last, just as Eustace came up, he walked
slowly away, grumbling to himself, "Well, have it e'en your own way,
I am too old for your gay French fashions. It was not so in Humfrey
Harwood's time, when-- But the world has gone after the French now!
Sir Reginald has brought home as many Gascon thieves as kindly
Eustace listened for a moment to his mutterings, but without answering
them, and coming within a few steps of the stranger, stood waiting to
offer him any courtesy in his power, though at the same time he felt
abashed by the consciousness of his inferiority in accomplishments
It was the Squire who was the first to speak. "So this is Sir
Reginald's old Keep! A fine old fortalice--would stand at least
a fortnight's siege. Ha! Is not yonder a weak point? I would
undertake to scale that tower, so the battering-rams made a
diversion on the other side."
"I trust it will never be tried," said Eustace.
"It would be as fair a feat of arms as ever you beheld! But I
crave your pardon," added he, displaying his white teeth with a
merry laugh; "the state of my own land has taught me to look on
every castle with eyes for attack and defence, and your brother
tells me I am not behind my countrymen in what you English call
"You have seen many sieges and passages of arms?" asked Eustace,
looking up in his face with an expression at once puzzled and
"Since our castle of Albricorte was sacked and burnt by the Count
de Bearn, I have seen little else--three stricken fields--two towns
stormed--castles more than I can remember."
"Alas!" said Eustace, "I have seen nothing but the muster of arms
D'Aubricour laughed. "Look not downcast on it," said he; "you have
time before you and one year at Bordeaux is worth four elsewhere.
But I forget, you are the young clerk; and yet that scarcely accords
with that bright eye of yours, and the weapon at your side."
"They spoke once of making me a clerk," said Eustace; "but I hope
to show my brother that I am fit for his own way of life. Sir
Squire, do but tell me, do you think I look unfit to sustain the
honour of my name?"
"Mere strength is little," said the Squire, "else were that comely
giant John Ingram, the best warrior in the army. Nor does height
reckon for much; Du Guesclin himself is of the shortest. Nor do
you look like the boy over whose weakly timid nature I have heard
Sir Reginald lament," he proceeded, surveying him with a critical
Eustace had, in fact, hardly reached the middle height, and was
very slender; his limbs were, however, well proportioned, his
step firm, and every movement full of activity and grace. His
face, shaded with bright chestnut hair, was of a delicate
complexion, the features finely moulded, and the usual cast of
expression slightly thoughtful; but there was frequently, and
especially at this moment, a bright kindling light in the dark
blue eyes, which changed the whole countenance from the grave
and refined look of the young scholar to the bold ardent glance
of the warrior.
"A cavalier, every inch of you!" cried d'Aubricour, striking
Eustace on the shoulder as he concluded his inspection. "I'll
have the training of you, my _gentil damoiseau_, and see if I do
not make you as _preux a chevalier_ as the most burly giant of
them all. Here, know you this trick?"
He caught up one of the lances which the men had laid aside; Eustace
followed his example, and acquitted himself to his satisfaction in
one or two chivalrous manoeuvres, till a summons to supper put an
end to the sport.
The house of Lynwood had long been famed for loyalty, which had
often cost them dear, since their neighbours, the Lords of
Clarenham, never failed to take advantage of the ascendency of
the popular party, and make encroachments on their privileges and
Thus when Sir Hugo Lynwood, the old Crusader, was made prisoner
by Simon de Montfort's party at Lewes, he was treated with great
severity, in order to obtain from him a recognition of the feudal
superiority of the Clarenhams; and though the success of the royal
party at Evesham occasioned his liberation, his possessions were
greatly diminished. Nor had the turmoils of the reign of Edward
II. failed to leave their traces on the fortunes of the Lynwoods.
Sir Henry, father of the present Knight, was a staunch adherent of
the unfortunate monarch, and even joined the hapless Edmund, Earl
of Kent, in the rising in which that Prince was entrapped after the
murder of his brother. On this occasion, it was only Sir Henry's
hasty flight that preserved his life, and his lands were granted
to the Baron Simon de Clarenham by the young Edward III., then under
the dominion of his mother Isabel, and Roger Mortimer; but when at
length the King had freed himself from their trammels, the whole
county of Somerset rose to expel the intruders from Lynwood Keep,
and reinstate its true master. Nor did Simon de Clarenham make
much resistance, for well knowing that an appeal to the King
would occasion and instant revocation of the grant, he judged
it advisable to allow it to sleep for the present.
Sir Henry Lynwood, therefore, lived and died unmolested. His
eldest son, Reginald, was early sent to the Royal Camp, where he
soon distinguished himself, and gained the favour and friendship
of the gallant Prince of Wales. The feud with the Clarenhams
seemed to be completely extinguished, when Reginald, chiefly by
the influence of the Prince, succeeded in obtaining the hand of
a lady of that family, the daughter of a brave Knight slain in
the wars in Brittany.
Since this time, both the Baron de Clarenham and his son, Sir
Fulk, had been on good terms with the Knight of Lynwood, and the
connection had been drawn still closer by the Baron's second
marriage with the Lady Muriel de la Poer, a near relative of Sir
Reginald's mother. Many a time had Dame Eleanor Lynwood ridden
to Clarenham castle, under the escort of her young brother-in-law,
to whom such a change from the lonely old Keep afforded no small
Eustace, the only one of Sir Henry's younger children who survived
the rough nursing or the over-nursing, whichever it might be, that
thinned in former days the families of nobles and gentleman, might
as well, in the opinion of almost all, have rested beneath a quaint
little image of his infant figure, in brass, in the vaults of the
little Norman chapel; for he was a puny, ailing child, apt to
scandalize his father and brother, and their warlike retainers, by
being scared at the dazzling helm and nodding crest, and preferring
the seat at this mother's feet, the fairy tale of the old nurse,
the song of the minstrel, or the book of the Priest, to horse and
hound, or even to the sight of the martial sports of the tilt-yard.
The last five years had, however, wrought a great change in him; he
began to outgrow the delicacy of his constitution, and with it, to
shake off his timidity of disposition. A diligent perusal of the
romances of chivalry filled him with emulation, and he had applied
himself ardently to all knightly exercises, looking with great
eagerness to the time when he might appear in the Prince's court.
He had invested it with all the glory of the Round Table and of the
Paladins; and though he knew he must not look for Merlin or the
Siege Perilous, the men themselves were in his fancy Rolands and
Tristrems, and he scarcely dared to hope he could ever be fit to
make one of them, with all his diligent attention to old Ralph's
Some of Ralph's manoeuvres were indeed rather antiquated, and
afforded much amusement to Gaston d'Aubricour, who was never weary
of teasing the old seneschal with descriptions of the changes in
the fashion of weapons, tourneys, and machines, and especially
delighted in histories of the marvellous effects of gunpowder.
Ralph would shake his head, vow that it would soon put an end to
all true chivalry, and walk off to furbish his favourite cross-bow,
with many a murmured reflection on the folly of quitting good old
plans, and especially on that of his master, who must needs bring
home a gibing Gascon, when honest English Squires were not scarce.
Very different was the state of the old Keep of Lynwood from the
quiet, almost deserted condition, in which it had been left so long,
now that the Knight had again taken his wonted place amongst the
gentry of the county. Entertainments were exchanged with his
neighbours, hunting and hawking matches, and all the sports of the
tilt-yard, followed each other in quick succession, and the summer
passed merrily away. Merrily, that is to say, with Sir Reginald,
whose stirring life in camp and court had left him but few and
short intervals for enjoying his home and the society of his wife;
with Eleanor, who, relieved from long anxiety, began to recover
the spirits and health which had nearly failed her; and with Eustace,
to whom the arrival of his brother and his followers brought a
continued course of novelty and delight; but less joyously with
the Knight's followers, who regretted more and more the gay court
of Bordeaux, and grew impatient at the prospect of spending a
tedious winter in a peaceful English castle.
Their anticipation of weariness, and the contrary expectations of
Sir Reginald, were destined to be equally disappointed: for two
months had not passed since his return before a summons arrived,
or, more properly speaking, an invitation to the trusty and well-
beloved Sir Reginald Lynwood to join the forces which the Duke of
Lancaster was assembling at Southampton, the Prince of Wales having
promised to assist King Pedro of Castile in recovering the kingdom
from which he had been driven by his brother Enrique of Trastamare.
Sir Reginald could not do otherwise than prepare with alacrity
to obey the call of his beloved Prince, though he marvelled that
Edward should draw his sword in the cause of such a monster of
cruelty, and he was more reluctant than ever before to leave his
home. He even promised his sorrowful Eleanor that this should
be the last time he would leave her. "I will but bestow Eustace
in some honourable household, where he may be trained in knightly
lore--that of Chandos, perchance, or some other of the leaders who
hold the good old strict rule; find good masters for my honest men-
at-arms; break one more lance with Du Guesclin; and take to rule
my vassals, till my fields, and be the honest old country Knight
my father was before me. Said I well, Dame Eleanor?"
Eleanor smiled, but the next moment sighed and drooped her head,
while a tear fell on the blue silk with which she was embroidering
the crosslet on his pennon. Sir Reginald might have said somewhat
to cheer her, but at that instant little Arthur darted into the
hall with news that the armourer was come from Taunton, with two
mules, loaded with a store of goodly helmets, swords, and corselets,
which he was displaying in the court.
The Knight immediately walked forth into the court, where all had
been activity and eagerness ever since the arrival of the summons,
the smith hammering ceaselessly in his forge, yet without fulfilling
half the order continually shouted in his ears; Gaston d'Aubricour
and Ralph Penrose directing from morning to night, in contradiction
of each other, the one always laughing, the other always grumbling;
the men-at-arms and retainers some obeying orders, others being
scolded, the steel clanging, hammers ringing without intermission.
Most of the party, such at least as could leave their employment
without a sharp reprimand from one or the other of the contending
authorities, the Seneschal and the Squire, were gathered round the
steps, where the armourer was displaying, with many an encomium,
his bundles of lances, his real Toledo blades, and his helmets
of the choicest fashion. Gaston d'Aubricour and Ralph were
disputing respecting a certain suit of armour, which the latter
disapproved, because it had no guards for the knees, while the
former contended that the only use for such protections was to
disable a man from walking, and nearly from standing when once
"In my day, Master d'Aubricour, it was not the custom for a brave
man-at-arms to look to being unhorsed; but times are changed."
"Ay, that they are, Master Penrose, for in our day we do not give
ourselves over the moment we are down, and lie closed up in our
shells like great land tortoises turned on their backs, waiting
till some one is good enough to find his way through our shell
with the _misericorde_."
"Peace, peace, Gaston," said the Knight. "If we acquit ourselves
as well as our fathers, we shall have little to be ashamed of.
What think you of this man's gear?"
"That I could pick up a better suit for half the price at old
Battista, the Lombard's at Bordeaux; nevertheless, since young
Eustace would be the show of the camp if he appeared there
provided in Ralph's fashion, it may be as well to see whether
there be any reasonableness in this old knave."
Before the question was decided, the trampling of horses was heard,
and there rode into the court an elderly man, whose dress and
bearing showed him to be of consideration, accompanied by a youth
of eighteen or nineteen, and attended by two servants. Sir
Reginald and his brother immediately stepped forward to receive
"Sir Philip Ashton," said the former, "how is it with you? This
is friendly in you to come and bid us farewell."
"I grieve that it should be farewell, Sir Reginald," said the old
Knight, dismounting whilst Eustace held his stirrup; "our country
can ill spare such men as you. Thanks, my young friend Eustace.
See, Leonard, what good training will do for an Esquire; Eustace
has already caught that air and courteous demeanour that cannot be
learnt here among us poor Knights of Somerset."
This was to his son, who, with a short abrupt reply to the good-
natured greeting of Sir Reginald, had scrambled down from his
saddle, and stood fixing his large gray eyes upon Gaston, whose
tall active figure and lively dark countenance seemed to afford
him an inexhaustible subject of study. The Squire was presented
by name to Sir Philip, received a polite compliment, and replying
with a bow, turned to the youth with the ready courtesy of one
willing to relieve the shyness of an awkward stranger. "We were
but now discussing the merit between damasked steel and chain mail,
what opinion do you bring to aid us?" A renewed stare, an
inarticulate muttering, and Master Leonard turned away and almost
hid his face in the mane of his horse, whilst his father attempted
to make up for his incivility by a whole torrent of opinions, to
which Gaston listened with the outward submission due from a Squire,
but with frequent glances, accompanied by a tendency to elevate
shoulder or eyebrow, which Eustace understood full well to convey
that the old gentleman knew nothing whatever on the subject.
This concluded, Sir Philip went to pay his respects to the Lady of
Lynwood, and then, as the hour of noon had arrived, all partook of
the meal, which was served in the hall, the Squires waiting on the
Knights and the Lady before themselves sitting down to table.
It was the influence of dinner that first unchained the silent
tongue of Leonard Ashton, when he found himself seated next to
his old acquaintance, Eustace Lynwood, out of hearing of those
whose presence inspired him with shyness, and the clatter of
knives and trenchers drowning his voice.
"So your brother has let you bear sword after all. How like you
the trade? Better than poring over crabbed parchments, I trow.
But guess you why we are here to-day? My father says that I must
take service with some honourable Knight, and see somewhat of the
world. He spoke long of the Lord de Clarenham, because his favour
would be well in the county; but at last he has fixed on your
brother, because he may do somewhat for me with the Prince."
"Then you are going with us to Bordeaux?" exclaimed Eustace, eagerly.
"Nay, but that is a right joyful hearing!" said Eustace. "Old
friends should be brethren in arms."
"But, Eustace," said young Ashton, lowering his voice to a
confidential whisper, "I like not that outlandish Squire, so
tall and black. Men say he is a Moor--a worshipper of Mahound."
Eustace laughed heartily at this report, and assured his friend
that, though he had heard his brother often give his Squire in
jest his _nom de guerre_ of _Gaston le Maure_, yet d'Aubricour
was a gallant gentleman of Gascony. But still Leonard was not
satisfied. "Had ever man born in Christian land such flashing
black eyes and white teeth? And is not he horribly fierce and
"Never was man of kinder heart and blither temper."
"Then you think that he will not be sharp with us? 'More straight
in your saddle!' 'lance lower!' 'head higher;' that is what has
been ringing in my ears from morning till night of late, sometimes
enforced by a sharp blow on the shoulders. Is it not so with you?"
"Oh, old Penrose took all that trouble off their hands long ago.
Gaston is the gentlest of tutors compared with him."
"I hope so!" sighed Leonard; "my very bones ache with the tutoring
I get from my father at home. And, Eustace, resolve me this--"
"Hush, do not you see that Father Cyril is about to pronounce the
Grace--. There--now must I go and serve your father with the grace-
cup, but I will be with you anon."
Leonard put his elbow on the table, mumbling to himself, "And
these of Eustace's be the courtly manners my father would have
me learn; they cost a great deal too much trouble!"
The meal over, Eustace took Leonard into the court to visit the
horses and inspect the new armour. They were joined by Gaston,
who took upon himself to reply to the question which Leonard wished
to have resolved, namely, what they were to do in Castile, by
persuading him to believe that Enrique of Trastamare was a giant
twenty feet high, who rode a griffin of proportionate dimensions,
and led an army whose heads grew under their shoulders.
In the meantime, Sir Philip Ashton was, with many polite speeches,
entering upon the business of his visit, which was to request Sir
Reginald to admit his son into his train as an Esquire. The Knight
of Lynwood, though not very desirous of this addition to his
followers, could not well refuse him, in consideration of the
alliance which had long subsisted between the two houses; but he
mentioned his own purpose of quitting the Prince's court as soon
as the present expedition should be concluded.
"That," said Sir Philip, softly, "will scarce be likely. Such
Knights as Sir Reginald Lynwood are not so easily allowed to hide
themselves in obscurity. The Prince of Wales knows too well the
value of his right-hand counsellor."
"Nay, Sir Philip," said Sir Reginald, laughing, "that is rather too
fine a term for a rough soldier, who never was called into counsel
at all, except for the arraying a battle. It would take far sharper
wits than mine, or, indeed, I suspect, than any that we have at
Bordeaux, to meet the wiles of Charles of France. No, unless the
Royal Banner be abroad in the field, you may look to see me here
before another year is out."
"I shall hope it may be otherwise, for my boy's sake," said Sir
Philip. "But be that as it may, his fame will be secured by his
going forth for the first time with such a leader as yourself. The
example and friendship of your brother will also be of the utmost
service. Your chief Squire too--so perfect in all chivalrous
training, and a foreigner--who better could be found to train a
poor Somersetshire clown for the Prince's Gascon court?"
"Why, for that matter," interrupted Sir Reginald, whose patience
would seldom serve his to the end of one of his neighbour's
harangues, "it may be honest to tell you that though Gaston is a
kindly-tempered fellow, and of right knightly bearing, his life
has been none of the most steady. I took up with him a couple
of years since, when poor old Humfrey Harwood was slain at Auray,
and I knew not where to turn for a Squire. Save for a few wild
freaks now and then, he has done right well, though I sometimes
marvelled at his choosing to endure my strict household. He
obeys my orders, and has made himself well liked by the men,
and I willingly trust Eustace with him, since the boy is of
a grave clerkly sort of turn, and under my own eye; but it is
for you to do as you will with your son."
"Is he of honourable birth?" asked Sir Philip.
"At least he bears coat armour," answered Reginald. "His shield
is _gules_, a wolf _passant_, _or_, and I have heard strange tales
of his father, Beranger d'Aubricour, the Black Wolf of the Pyrenees,
as he was called, one of the robber noblesse of the Navarrese
border; but I have little time for such matters, and they do not
dwell in my mind. If I find a man does his duty in my service, I
care not whence he comes, nor what his forefathers may have been.
I listen to no such idle tales; but I thought it best to warn you
that I answer not for all the comrades your son may find in my
"Many thanks, noble Sir Reginald; under such care as yours he
cannot fail to prosper; I am secure of his welfare in your hands.
One word more, Sir Reginald, I pray you. You are all-powerful
with Prince Edward. My poor boy's advancement is in your hand.
One word in his favour to the Prince--a hint of the following I
could send his pennon--"
"Sir Philip," said Reginald, "you overrate my influence, and
underrate the Prince's judgment, if you imagine aught save personal
merit would weigh with him. Your son shall have every opportunity
of deserving his notice, but whether it be favourable or not must
depend on himself. If you desire more, you must not seek it of me."
Sir Philip protested that this was all he wished, and after
reiterating his thanks, took his leave, promising that Leonard
should be at Lynwood Keep on the next Monday, the day fixed
for Sir Reginald's departure.
The morning of departure arrived. The men-at-arms were drawn up
in the court like so many statues of steel; Leonard Ashton sat on
horseback, his eyes fixed on the door; Gaston d'Aubricour, wrapped
in his gay mantle, stood caressing his Arab steed Brigliador, and
telling him they should soon exchange the chilly fogs of England
for the bright sun of Gascony; Ralph Penrose held his master's
horse, and a black powerful charger was prepared for Eustace, but
still the brothers tarried.
"My Eleanor, this should not be!" said Reginald as his wife clung
to him weeping. "Keep a good heart. 'Tis not for long. Take
heed of your dealings with cousin Fulk. She knows not what I say.
Father Cyril, keep guard over her and my boy, in case I should meet
with any mishap."
"I will, assuredly, my son," said the Chaplain, "but it is little
that a poor Priest like me can do. I would that grant to the
Clarenhams were repealed."
"That were soon done," said Reginald, "but it is no time for a
loyal vassal to complain of grievances when his liege lord has
summoned him to the field. That were to make the King's need
be his law. No! no! Watch over her, good father, she is weak
and tender. Look up, sweet heart, give me one cheerful wish to
speed me on my journey. No? She has swooned. Eleanor! my wife--"
"Begone, begone, my son," said Father Cyril, "it will be the better
"It may be," said Reginald, "yet to leave her thus-- Here, nurse,
support her, tend her well. Give her my tenderest greetings.
Arthur, be duteous to her; talk to her of our return; farewell,
my boy, and blessings on you. Eustace, mount."
Sir Reginald, sighing heavily, swung himself into the saddle;
Eustace waited a moment longer. "Good Father, this was to have
been in poor Eleanor's charge. It is the token, you know for
"It shall reach her, my son."
"You will send me a letter whenever you can?"
"Truly, I will; and I would have you read and write, especially in
Latin, when you have the chance--good gifts should not be buried.
Bethink you, too, that you will not have the same excuse for sin
as the rude ignorant men you will meet."
"Eustace!" hastily called Reginald, and with a hurried farewell
to all around, the young Squire sprang on horseback, and the troop
rode across the drawbridge. They halted on the mound beyond; Sir
Reginald shook his pennon, till the long white swallow tails
streamed on the wind, then placed it in the hands of Eustace, and
saying, "On, Lances of Lynwood! In the name of God, St. George,
and King Edward, do your devoir;" he spurred his horse forward, as
if only desirous to be out of sight of his own turrets, and forget
the parting, the pain of which still heaved his breast and dimmed
A few days brought the troop to Southampton, where John of Gaunt
was collecting his armament, and with it they embarked, crossed to
St. Malo, and thence proceeded to Bordeaux, but there found that
the Prince of Wales had already set forth, and was waiting for his
brother at Dax.
Advancing immediately, at the end of three days they came in sight
of the forces encamped around that town. Glorious was the scene
before them, the green plain covered in every direction with white
tents, surmounted with the banners or pennons of their masters,
the broad red Cross of St. George waving proudly in the midst,
and beside it the royal Lions and Castles of the two Spanish
monarchies. To the south, the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees began
to gleam white like clouds against the sky, and the gray sea-line
to the west closed the horizon. Eustace drew his rein, and gazed
in silent admiration, and Gaston, riding by his side, pointed out
the several bearings and devices which, to the warrior of that day,
spoke as plainly (often more so) as written words. "See yonder,
the tent of my brave countryman, the Captal de Buch, close to that
of the Prince, as is ever his wont. No doubt he is willing to wipe
away the memory of his capture at Auray. There, to the left, _gules_
and _argent_, per _pale_, is the pennon of the stout old Englishman,
Chandos. Ha! I see the old Free Companions are here with Sir Hugh
Calverly! Why, 'twas but the other day they were starting to set
this very Don Enrique on the throne as blithely as they now go to
drive him from his."
While Gaston spoke, the sound of horses' feet approached rapidly
from another quarter, and a small party came in sight, the
foremost of whom checked his bridle, as, at Reginald's signal,
his Lances halted and drew respectfully aside. He was a man
about thirty-six years of age, and looking even younger, from the
remarkable fairness and delicacy of his complexion. The perfect
regularity of his noble features, together with the commanding,
yet gentle expression of his clear light blue eyes, would, even
without the white ostrich feather in his black velvet cap, have
enabled Eustace to recognize in him the flower of chivalry, Edward,
Prince of Wales.
"Welcome, my trusty Reginald!" exclaimed he. "I knew that the Lances
of Lynwood would not be absent where knightly work is to be done. Is
my brother John arrived?"
"Yes, my Lord," replied Reginald; "I parted from him but now as he
rode to the castle, while I came to seek where to bestow my knaves."
"I know you of old for a prudent man," said the Prince, smiling;
"the Provost Marshal hath no acquaintance with that gallant little
band. Methinks I see there a fair face like enough to yours to
belong to another loyal Lynwood."
"I could wish it were a little browner and more manly, my Lord,"
said Reginald. "It is my brother Eustace, who has been suffered
(I take shame to myself for it) to tarry at home as my Lady's page,
till he looks as white as my Lady herself."
"We will soon find a cure for that in the sun of Castile," said
Edward. "You are well provided with Squires. The men of Somerset
know where good training is to be found for their sons."
"This, my Lord, is the son of Sir Philip Ashton, a loyal Knight of
"He is welcome," said the Prince. "We have work for all. Let me
see you this evening at supper in my tent."
"Well, Eustace, what sayest thou?" said Gaston, as the Prince rode on.
"A Prince to dream of, a Prince for whom to give a thousand lives!"
"And that was the Prince of Wales!" said Leonard. "Why, he spoke
just like any other man."
The two tents of the Lances of Lynwood having been erected, and all
arrangements made, the Knights and Squires set out for the Prince's
pavilion, the white curtains of which were conspicuous in the centre
of the camp. Within, it was completely lined with silk, embroidered
with the various devices of the Prince: the lions of England--the
lilies of France--the Bohemian ostrich-plume, with its humble motto,
the white rose, not yet an emblem of discord--the blue garter and
the red cross, all in gorgeous combination--a fitting background,
as it were, on which to display the chivalrous groups seen in relief
At the upper end was placed a long table for the Prince and his
guests, and here Sir Reginald took his seat, with many a hearty
welcome from his friends and companions in arms, while Gaston
led his comrades to the lower end, where Squires and pages were
waiting for the provisions brought in by the servants, which they
were to carry to their Knights. Gaston was soon engaged in
conversation with his acquaintance, to some of whom he introduced
Eustace and Leonard, but the former found far more interesting
occupation in gazing on the company seated at the upper table.
The Black Prince himself occupied the centre, his brother John at
his left hand, and at his right, a person whom both this post of
honour and the blazonry of his surcoat marked out as the dethroned
King of Castile. Pedro the Cruel had not, however, the forbidding
countenance which imagination would ascribe to him; his features
were of the fair and noble type of the old royal Gothic race of
Spain; he had a profusion of flaxen hair, and large blue eyes,
rather too prominent, and but for his receding forehead, and the
expression of his lips, he would have been a handsome man of
princely mien. Something, too, there was of fear, something of
a scowl; he seemed to shrink from the open and manly demeanour of
Edward, and to turn with greater ease to converse with John, who,
less lofty in character than his brother, better suited his nature.
There, too, Eustace beheld the stalwart form and rugged features of
Sir John Chandos; the slender figure and dark sparkling southern
face of the Captal de Buch; the rough joyous boon-companion visage
of Sir Hugh Calverly, the free-booting warrior; the youthful form
of the young step-son of the Prince, Lord Thomas Holland; the rude
features of the Breton Knight, Sir Oliver de Clisson, soon to be
the bitterest foe of the standard beneath which he was now fighting.
Many were there whose renown had charmed the ears of the young Squire
of Lynwood Keep, and he looked on the scene with the eagerness with
which he would have watched some favourite romance suddenly done
into life and action.
"Eustace! What, Eustace, in a trance?" said d'Aubricour. "Waken,
and carry this trencher of beef to your brother. Best that you
should do it," he added in a low voice, taking up a flask of wine,
"and save our comrade from at once making himself a laughing-stock."
The discontented glance with which Leonard's eyes followed his
fellow Squires, did not pass unobserved by a person with whom
d'Aubricour had exchanged a few words, a squarely-made, dark-
visaged man, with a thick black beard, and a huge scar which had
obliterated one eye; his equipment was that of a Squire, but
instead of, like others of the same degree, attending on the
guests at the upper table, he sat carelessly sideways on the
bench, with one elbow on the board.
"You gaze after that trencher as if you wished your turn was come,"
said he, in a patois of English and French, which Leonard could
easily understand, although he had always turned a deaf ear to
Gaston's attempts to instruct him in the latter language. However,
a grunt was his only reply.
"Or," pursued the Squire, "have you any fancy for carrying it
yourself? I, for my part, think we are well quit of the trouble."
"Why, ay," said Leonard, "but I trow I have as much right to serve
at the Prince's table as dainty Master Eustace. My father had never
put me under Sir Reginald's charge, had he deemed I should be kept
here among the serving-men."
"Sir Reginald? Which Sir Reginald has the honour of your service?"
asked the Squire, to whom Leonard's broad Somersetshire dialect
seemed to present few difficulties.
"Sir Reginald Lynwood, he with the curled brown locks, next to that
stern-looking old fellow with the gray hair."
"Ay, I know him of old. Him whom the Duke of Lancaster is pledging
--a proud, strict Englishman--as rigid a service as any in the camp."
"I should think so!" said Leonard. "Up in the morn hours before
the sun, to mass like a choir of novices, to clean our own arms
and the Knight's, like so many horse-boys, and if there be but a
speck of rust, or a sword-belt half a finger's length awry--"
"Ay, ay, I once had a fortnight's service with a Knight of that
stamp, but a fortnight was enough for me, I promise you. And
yet Gaston le Maure chooses to stay with him rather than lead a
merry life with Sir Perduccas d'Albret, with all to gain, and
nought to lose! A different life from the days he and I spent
together of old."
"Gaston d'Aubricour is as sharp as the Knight himself," said Leonard,
"and gibes me without ceasing; but yet I could bear it all, were it
not for seeing Eustace, the clerk, preferred to me, as if I were not
heir to more acres than he can ever count crowns."
"What may then be your name, fair youth, and your inheritance?"
demanded the one-eyed Squire, "for your coat of arms is new in
"My name is Leonard Ashton; my father--" but Leonard's speech was
cut short by a Squire who stumbled over his outstretched foot. Both
parties burst into angry exclamations, Leonard's new acquaintance
taking his part. Men looked up, and serious consequences might have
ensued, had not Gaston hastened to the spot. "Shame on you, young
malapert," said he to his hopeful pupil. "Cannot I leave you one
moment unwatched, but you must be brawling in the Prince's own
presence? Here, bear this bread to Sir Reginald instantly, and
leave me to make your peace. Master Clifford," added he, as Leonard
shuffled away, "'tis an uncouth slip whom Sir Reginald Lynwood has
undertaken to mould into form, and if he is visited as he deserves
for each piece of discourtesy, his life will not be long enough for
amendment, so I must e'en beg you to take my apology."
"Most readily, Master d'Aubricour," replied Clifford; "there would
not have been the least offence had the youth only possessed a civil
"Is not he the son of one of your wealthy Englishmen?" asked the
one-eyed Squire, carelessly.
"Ha! Why should you think so?" said Gaston, turning sharply;
"because he shows so much good nurture?"
"Because his brains are grown fat with devouring his father's
beeves, fare on which you seem to thrive, le Maure," said the
one-eyed, "though you were not wont to like English beef and
English discipline better than Gascon wine and Gascon freedom.
I begin to think that the cub of the Black Wolf of the Pyrenees
is settling down into a tame English house-dog."
"He has teeth and claws at your service," replied Gaston.
"Ay?" said the Squire interrogatively; then, changing his tone, "But
tell me honestly, Gaston, repent you not of having taken service with
gallant Sir Perduccas?"
"Why, you have left him yourself."
"Yes, because we had sharp words on the spoil of a Navarrese
village. My present leader, Sir William Felton, is as free and
easy as d'Albret, or Aymerigot Marcel himself. And is not yon
ungainly varlet the hope of some rich English house?"
"I must see their hopes meet with no downfall," said Gaston, walking
away, and muttering to himself. "A plague upon it! To train two
boys is more than I bargained for, and over and above to hinder this
wiseacre Ashton from ruining himself, or being ruined by _le Borgne
Basque_! What brought him here? I thought he was safe in Castile
with the Free Companions. I would let the oaf take his course, for
a wilful wrong-headed fool, but that it would scarce be doing good
service to Sir Reginald."
The Knights had nearly finished their meal, and the Squires having
served them with wine, returned to their own table, now freshly
supplied with meat, which the yeomen in their turn carved for them.
Gaston kept Leonard under his own eye till the party broke up.
On the way to the tent, he began to take him to task. "A proper
commencement! Did you take the Prince's pavilion for one of your
own island hostels, where men may freely brawl and use their fists
without fear of aught save the parish constable?"
"What business had he to tread on my foot?" growled Leonard.
"What business had your foot there? Was not your office, as I told
you, to stand ready to hand me whatever I might call for?"
"I was speaking a few words to another gentleman."
"The fewer words you speak to _le Borgne Basque_ the better, unless
you think it is Sir Reginald's pleasure that you should be instructed
in all the dicing and drinking in this camp, and unless you wish that
the crowns with which your father stored your pouch should jingle in
his pockets. It is well for you the Knight marked you not."
"You held long enough parley with him yourself," said the refractory
"Look you, Master Leonard Ashton, I do not presume to offer myself
as an example to you save, perhaps, in the matter of sitting a steed,
or handing a wine-cup. I have no purse to lose, and I have wit to
keep it if I had, or at least," as a recollection crossed him, "if
I lost it, it should be to please myself, and not _le Borgne Basque_;
above all, my name and fame are made, and yours--"
"What would you say of mine?" said Leonard, with sulky indignation.
"The heir of Ashton is not to be evened to a wandering landless
"It is not in sight of these mountain peaks," said Gaston,
contemptuously, "that I am to be called a foreigner; and as to being
landless, if I chose to take my stand on the old tower of Albricorte,
and call myself Lord of the whole hill-side, I should like to see
who would gainsay me. For name, I suspect you will find that many
a man has trembled at the sound of Beranger d'Albricorte, to whom
Ashton would be but that of an English clown. Moreover, in this
camp I would have you to know that the question is, not who has the
broadest lands, but who has the strongest arm. And, sir Squire, if
you are not above listening to a piece of friendly counsel, to brag
of those acres of yours is the surest way to attract spoilers. I
had rather a dozen time trust Eustace in such company than you, not
only because he has more wit, but because he has less coin."
"Who is this man? What is his name?" asked Eustace.
"_Le Borgne Basque_, I know no other," said Gaston. "We reck little
of names here, especially when it may be convenient to have them
forgotten. He is a Free Companion, a _routier_, brave enough,
but more ready at the sack than the assault, and loving best to
plunder, waste, and plunder again, or else to fleece such sheep
as our friend here."
"How could such a man gain entrance to the Prince's pavilion?"
"Stout hearts and strong arms find entrance in most places," said
Gaston; "but, as you saw, he durst not appear at the upper table."
The next morning the army began their march to the Pyrenees. They
halted for some days at the foot of the hills, whilst negotiations
were passing between the Black Prince and Charles the Bad, King of
Navarre, who might easily have prevented their entrance into the
Peninsula by refusing a passage through his mountain fastnesses.
When the permission was granted, they advanced with considerable
danger and difficulty. The rugged paths were covered with snow
and ice, which made them doubly perilous for the horses, and but
for Gaston's familiarity with his native hills, Sir Reginald
declared that he could never have brought his little troop
across them in safety.
At length they emerged through the celebrated Pass of Roncesvalles,
where Eustace in imagination listened to the echoes of the dying
blast of Roland. On the following evening he had the delight of
reading his history in the veritable pages of Archbishop Turpin,
which precious work he found in the possession of Brother Waleran,
a lay-friar, in the employment of Sir John Froissart the chronicler,
who had sent him with the army as a reporter of the events of the
campaign. This new acquaintance gave very little satisfaction to
Sir Reginald, who was almost ready to despair of Eustace's courage
and manhood when he found he had "gone back to his books," and
manifested, if not so much serious displeasure, yet even more
annoyance, on this occasion, than when, shortly after, he found
that Leonard Ashton spent every moment at his own disposal in the
company of _le Borgne Basque_. That worthy, meeting the young
gentleman, had easily persuaded him that Gaston's cautions only
proceeded from fears of stories that might with too much truth
be told against himself, and by skilful flatteries of the young
Englishman's self-importance, and sympathy with his impatience
of the strict rule of the Knight of Lynwood, succeeded in
establishing over him great influence.
So fared it with the two young Squires, whilst the army began
to enter the dominions of the King of Castile. Here a want of
provisions was severely felt, for such was the hatred borne to
Pedro the Cruel, that every inhabitant of the country fled at his
approach, carrying off, or destroying, all that could be used as
food. It was the intention of Bertrand du Guesclin, the ally of
Enrique of Trastamare, to remain quietly in his camp of Navaretta,
and allow hunger to do its work with the invading force, but this
prudent plan was prevented by the folly of Don Tello, brother of
Enrique, who, accusing Bertrand of cowardice, so stung his fiery
spirit that he resolved on instant combat, though knowing how
little dependence could be placed on his Spanish allies.
The challenge of the Prince of Wales was therefore accepted; and
never were tidings more welcome than these to the half-famished
army, encamped upon the banks of the Ebro, on the same ground on
which, in after years, English valour was once more to turn to
flight a usurping King of Spain.
The moon was at her height, and shone full into the half-opened
tent of Sir Reginald Lynwood. At the further end, quite in
darkness, the Knight, bare-headed, and rosary in hand, knelt
before the dark-robed figure of a confessor, while at a short
distance lay, on a couch of deer-skins, the sleeping Leonard
Ashton. Before the looped-up curtain that formed the door was
Gaston d'Aubricour, on one knee, close to a huge torch of pine-
wood fixed in the earth, examining by its flaring smoky light
into the state of his master's armour, proving every joint with
a small hammer. Near him, Eustace, with the help of John Ingram,
the stalwart yeoman, was fastening his charge, the pennon, to a
mighty lance of the toughest ash-wood, and often looking forth on
the white tents on which the moonbeams shed their pale, tranquil
light. There was much to impress a mind like his, in the scene
before him: the unearthly moonlight, the few glimmering stars,
the sky--whose southern clearness and brightness were, to his
unaccustomed eye, doubly wonderful--the constant though subdued
sounds in the camp, the murmur of the river, and, far away in
the dark expanse of night, the sparkling of a multitude of lights,
which marked the encampment of the enemy. There was a strange
calm awe upon his spirit. He spoke in a low voice, and Gaston's
careless light-hearted tones fell on his ear as something
uncongenial; but his eye glanced brightly, his step was free
and bold, as he felt that this was the day that must silence
every irritating doubt of his possessing a warrior-spirit.
The first red streak of dawn was beginning to glow in the eastern
sky, when the note of a bugle rang out from the Prince's tent and
was responded to by hundreds of other horns. That instant the
quiet slumbering camp awoke, the space in front of every tent
was filled with busy men, arming themselves, or saddling their
horses. Gaston and Eustace, already fully equipped, assisted Sir
Reginald to arm; Leonard was roused, and began to fasten on his
armour; the men-at-arms came forth from their tent, and the horses
were saddled and bridled; "And now," called Sir Reginald, "bring
our last loaf, John Ingram. Keep none back. By this day's eve
we shall have abundance, or else no further need."
The hard dry barley-bread was shared in scanty, but equal measure,
and scarcely had it been devoured, before a second bugle blast,
pealing through the camp, caused each mail-clad warrior to close
his visor, and spring into the open plain, where, according to
previous orders, they arrayed themselves in two divisions, the
first commanded by the Duke of Lancaster and Sir John Chandos,
the second by Prince Edward and Don Pedro.
After a pause, employed in marshalling the different bands, the
host advanced at an even pace, the rising sun glancing on their
armour, and revealing the multitude of waving crests, and streamers
fluttering from the points of the lances, like the wings of
gorgeous insects. Presently a wall of glittering armour was seen
advancing to meet them, with the same brilliant display. It might
have seemed some mighty tournament that was there arrayed, as the
two armies stood confronting each other, rather than a stern battle
for the possession of a kingdom; and well might old Froissart
declare, "It was a pleasure to see such hosts."
But it would be presumptuous to attempt to embellish a tale after
Froissart has once touched it. To him, then, I leave it to tell
how the rank of banneret was conferred on the gallant old Chandos,
how the Prince prayed aloud for a blessing on his arms, how he
gave the signal for the advance, and how the boaster, Tello, fled
in the first encounter. The Lances of Lynwood, in the division of
the Duke of Lancaster, well and gallantly did their part in the
hard struggle with the brave band of French, whose resistance was
not overcome till the Black Prince himself brought his reserved
troops to the aid of his brother.
With the loss of only one man-at-arms, the Lances of Lynwood had
taken several prisoners. It was high noon, and the field was well-
nigh cleared of the enemy, when Sir Reginald drew his rein at the
top of a steep bank clothed with brushwood, sloping towards the
stream of the Zadorra, threw up his visor, wiped his heated brow,
and, patting his horse's neck, turned to his brother, saying, "You
have seen sharp work in this your first battle-day, Eustace."
"It is a glorious day!" said Eustace. "See how they hurry to the
water." And he pointed over the low shrubs to a level space on
the bank of the river, where several fugitives, on foot and
horseback, were crowding together, and pressing hastily forward.
"Ha!" cried Sir Reginald, "the golden circlet! Henry of Trastamare
himself!" and at the same instant he sprang to the ground. "You,"
said he, "speed round the bushes, meet me at the ford they are
making for." This was directed to Gaston, and ere the last words
were spoken, both Sir Reginald and Eustace were already beginning
to hurry down the bank. Gaston rose to his full height in his
stirrups, and, looking over the wood, exclaimed, "The Eagle crest!
I must be there. On, Ashton--Ingram, this way--speed, speed, speed!"
and with these words threw himself from his horse, and dashed after
the two brothers, as they went crashing, in their heavy armour,
downwards through the boughs. In less than a minute they were on
the level ground, and Sir Reginald rushed forward to intercept Don
Enrique, who was almost close to the river. "Yield, yield, Sir
King!" he shouted; but at the same moment another Knight on foot
threw himself between, raising a huge battle-axe, and crying, "Away,
away, Sir; leave me to deal with him!" Enrique turned, entered the
river, and safely swam his horse to the other side, whilst his
champion was engaged in desperate conflict.
The Knight of Lynwood caught the first blow on his shield, and
returned it, but without the slightest effect on his antagonist,
who, though short in stature, and clumsily made, seemed to
possess gigantic strength. A few moments more, and Reginald
had fallen at full length on the grass, while his enemy was
pressing on, to secure him as a prisoner, or to seize the pennon
which Eustace held. The two Squires stood with lifted swords
before their fallen master, but it cost only another of those
irresistible strokes to stretch Gaston beside Sir Reginald, and
Eustace was left alone to maintain the struggle. A few moments
more, and the Lances would come up--but how impossible to hold
out! The first blow cleft his shield in two, and though it did
not pierce his armour, the shock brought him to his knee, and
without the support of the staff of the pennon he would have
been on the ground. Still, however, he kept up his defence,
using sometimes his sword, and sometimes the staff, to parry the
strokes of his assailant; but the strife was too unequal, and
faint with violent exertion, as well as dizzied by a stroke which
the temper of his helmet had resisted, he felt that all would be
over with him in another second, when his sinking energies were
revived by the cry of "St. George," close at hand. His enemy
relaxing his attack, he sprang to his feet, and that instant found
himself enclosed, almost swept away, by a crowd of combatants
of inferior degree, as well as his own comrades as Free Lances,
all of whose weapons were turned upon his opponent. A sword
was lifted over the enemy's head from behind, and would the
next moment have descended, but that Eustace sprang up, dashed
it aside, cried "Shame!" and grasping the arm of the threatened
Knight, exclaimed, "Yield, yield! it is your only hope!"
"Yield? and to thee?" said the Knight; "yet it is well meant. The
sword of Arthur himself would be of no avail. Tiphaine was right!
It is the fated day. Thou art of gentle birth? I yield me then,
rescue or no rescue, the rather that I see thou art a gallant youth.
Hark you, fellows, I am a prisoner, so get off with you.
Your name, bold youth?"
"Eustace Lynwood, brother to this Knight," said Eustace, raising
his visor, and panting for breath.
"You need but a few years to nerve your arm. But rest a while, you
are almost spent," said the prisoner, in a kind tone of patronage,
as he looked at the youthful face of his captor, which in a second
had varied from deep crimson to deadly paleness.
"My brother! my brother!" was all Eustace's answer, as he threw
himself on the grass beside Gaston, who, though bleeding fast,
had raised his master's head, and freed him from his helmet; but
his eyes were still closed, and the wound ghastly, for such had
been the force of the blow, that the shoulder was well-nigh
severed from the collarbone. "Reginald! O brother, look up!"
cried Eustace. "O Gaston, does he live?"
"I have crossed swords with him before," said the prisoner. "I
grieve for the mishap." Then, as the soldiers crowded round, he
waved them off with a gesture of command, which they instinctively
obeyed. "Back, clowns, give him air. And here--one of you--bring
some water from the river. There, he shows signs of life."
As he spoke, the clattering of horses' feet was heard--all made
way, and there rode along the bank of the river a band of Spaniards,
headed by Pedro himself, his sword, from hilt to point, streaming
with blood, and his countenance ferocious as that of a tiger. "Where
is he?" was his cry; "where is the traitor Enrique? I will send him
to join the rest of the brood. Where has he hidden himself?"
The prisoner, who had been assisting to life the wounded man out of
the path of the trampling horses, turned round, and replied, with
marked emphasis, "King Henry of Castile is, thanks to our Lady, safe
on the other side of the Zadorra, to recover his throne another day."
"Du Guesclin himself! Ah, dog!" cried Pedro, his eyes glaring with
the malignity of a demon, and raising his bloody weapon to hew down
Bertrand du Guesclin, for no other was the prisoner, who stood with
folded arms, his dark eyes fixed in calm scorn on the King's face,
and his sword and axe lying at his feet.
Eustace was instantly at his side, calling out, "My Lord King, he
is my prisoner!"
"Thine!" said Pedro, with an incredulous look. "Leave him to my
vengeance, and thou shalt have gold--half my treasury--all thy
utmost wishes can reach--"
"I give him up to none but my Lord the Prince of Wales," returned
the young Squire, undauntedly.
"Fool and caitiff! out of my path! or learn what it is to oppose
the wrath of Kings!" cried Pedro.
Eustace grasped his sword. "Sir King, you must win your way to
him through my body."
At this moment one of the attendants whispered, "_El Principe,
Senor Rey_," and, in a few seconds more, the Black Prince, with
a few followers, rode towards the spot.
Hastily dismounting, Pedro threw himself on his knees to thank him
for the victory; but Edward, leaping from his horse, raised him,
saying, "It is not to me, but to the Giver of victories, that you
should return thanks;" and Eustace almost shuddered to see him
embrace the blood-thirsty monster, who, still intent on his prey,
began the next moment, "Here, Senor Prince, is the chief enemy--
here is the disturber of kingdoms--Du Guesclin himself--and there
stands a traitorous boy of your country, who resolutely refuses to
yield him to my just vengeance."
As Pedro spoke, the Prince exchanged with Sir Bertrand the courteous
salutation of honourable enemies, and then said, in a quiet, grave
tone, "It is not our English custom to take vengeance on prisoners
"My Lord," said Eustace, stepping forward, as the Prince looked
towards him, "I deliver the prisoner into your princely hands."
"You have our best thanks, Sir Squire," said the Prince. "You are
the young Lynwood, if I remember right. Where is your brother?"
"Alas! my Lord, here he lies, sorely hurt," said Eustace, only
anxious to be rid of prisoner and Prince, and to return to
Reginald, who by this time had, by the care of Gaston, been
recalled to consciousness.
"Is it so? I grieve to hear it!" said Edward, with a face of deep
concern, advancing to the wounded Knight, bending over him, and
taking his hand, "How fares it with you, my brave Reginald?"
"Poorly enough, my Lord," said the Knight, faintly; "I would I
could have taken King Henry--"
"Lament not for that," said the Prince, "but receive my thanks for
the prize of scarcely less worth, which I owe to your arms."
"What mean you, my Lord? Not Sir Bertrand du Guesclin; I got
nothing from him but my death-blow."
"How is this then?" said Edward; "it was from your young brother
that I received him."
"Speak, Eustace!" said Sir Reginald, eagerly, and half raising
himself; "Sir Bertrand your prisoner? Fairly and honourably?
Is it possible?"
"Fairly and honourably, to that I testify," said Du Guesclin. "He
knelt before you, and defended your pennon longer than I ever thought
to see one of his years resist that curtal-axe of mine. The _routier_
villains burst on us, and were closing upon me, when he turned back
the weapon that was over my head, and summoned me to yield, which I
did the more willingly that so gallant a youth should have such
honour as may be acquired by my capture."
"He has it, noble Bertrand," said Edward. "Kneel down, young Squire.
Thy name is Eustace? In the name of God, St. Michael, and St. George,
I dub thee Knight. Be faithful, brave and fortunate, as on this day. Arise, Sir Eustace Lynwood."
"Thanks, thanks, my gracious Prince," said Reginald, a light glancing
in his fading eyes. "I should die content to see my brother's spurs
so well earned."
"Die! Say not so, my faithful Reginald. Speed, Denis, and send
hither our own leech! I trust you will live to see your son win
his spurs as gallantly!"
"No, my good Lord, I am past the power of leech or surgeon; I feel
that this is my death-wound. I am glad it was in your cause. All
I desire is your protection for my wife--my boy--my brother--"
"Your brother has earned it already," said Edward. "Your child
shall be as my own. But, oh! can nought be done? Hasten the
surgeon hither! Cheer thee, Reginald!--look up! O! would that
Du Guesclin were free, the battle unfought, so that thou wert but
safe, mine own dear brother-in-arms!"
"Where is the Prince?" called a voice from behind. "My Lord, my
Lord, if you come not speedily, there will be foul slaughter made
among the prisoners by your Spanish butcher--King I would say."
"I come, I come, Chandos," answered Edward. "Fare thee well, my
brave Reginald; and you, my new-made Knight, send tidings to my
tent how it is with him."
He pressed Reginald's hand, and sighing deeply, mounted his horse,
and rode off with Sir John Chandos, leaving the wounded Knight to
the care of his own followers.
The stream of blood was flowing fast, life was ebbing away, and
Sir Reginald's breath was failing, as Eustace, relieving Gaston
from his weight, laid his head on his breast, and laved his brow
with water from the river. "You have done gallantly, my brave
brother; I did wrong to doubt your spirit. Thanks be to God that
I can die in peace, sure that Arthur has in you a true and loving
guardian. You are young, Eustace, but my trust in you is firm.
You will train him in all Christian and godly ways--"
"It shall be the most sacred charge of my life," said Eustace,
scarcely able to speak.
"I know it," said Reginald, and making an effort to raise his
voice, he continued, "Bear witness, all of you, that I leave my
son in the wardship of the King, and of my brother, Sir Eustace
Lynwood. And," added he, earnestly, "beware of Fulk Clarenham.
Commend me to my sweet Eleanor; tell her she is the last, as the
first in my thoughts." Then, after a pause, "Is Gaston here?"
"Yes, Sir Reginald," said Gaston, leaning over him, and pressing
the hand which he feebly raised.
"Gaston, farewell, and thanks to you for your true and loving
service. Eustace will find wherewith to recompense you in some
sort, in my chest at Bordeaux, and my brave Lances likewise. And,
Gaston, go not back to the courses and comrades whence I took you.
On the word of a dying man, it will be better for you when you are
in this case. Leonard, strive to be a true and brave man, though
I may not fulfil your father's trust. Eustace--my eyes grow dim--
is this you supporting my head--are these your tears? Weep not
for me, brother. Save for my poor Eleanor, I would not have it
otherwise. Mercy is sure! Hold up the blessed rood--the sign of
grace--you are half a clerk, repeat me some holy psalm or prayer."
Eustace raised the cross hilt of his sword, and with a broken voice,
commenced the _Miserere_. Sir Reginald at first followed it with
his lips, but soon they ceased to move, his head sank back, his
hand fell powerless, and with one long gasping breath his faithful
and noble spirit departed. For several moments Eustace silently
continued to hold the lifeless form in his arms, then raising the
face, he imprinted an earnest kiss on the pale lips, laid the head
reverently on the ground, hung over it for a short space, and at
last, with an effort, passed his hand over his face, and turned
His first look was towards d'Aubricour, who sat resting his head
on his hand, his elbow supported on his knee, while with the other
hand he dashed away his tears. His countenance was deathly pale,
and drops of blood were fast falling from the deep gash in his side.
"O Gaston!" exclaimed Eustace, with a feeling of self-reproach at
having forgotten him, "I fear you are badly wounded!"
"You would think little of it, had you seen more stricken fields,
young Knight," said Gaston, attempting to smile; "I am only spent
with loss of blood. Bring me a draught of water, and I can ride
back to the tent. But look to your prisoner, Sir Eustace."
Eustace turned to see what had become of his illustrious captive,
and saw him at a little distance, speaking to a Knight on horseback.
"Sir Eustace," said Bertrand, stepping towards him, "here is Sir
William Beauchamp, sent by the Prince to inquire for your gallant
brother, and to summon me to his tent. I leave you the more
willingly that I think you have no mind for guests this evening.
Farewell. I hope to be better acquainted."
Eustace had little heart to answer, but he took up Du Guesclin's
sword, as if to return it to him. "Keep it, Sir Knight," said
Bertrand, "you know how to wield it. I am in some sort your
godfather in chivalry, and I owe you a gift. Let me have yours,
that my side may not be without its wonted companion. Farewell."
"And, Sir Eustace Lynwood," said Sir William Beauchamp, riding up,
"you will advance to Navaretta, where we take up our quarters in
the French camp. I grieve for the loss which has befallen us this
day; but I trust our chivalry has gained an equally worthy member."
Eustace bowed and, whilst Messire Bertrand mounted a horse that had
been brought for his use, turned back to his own melancholy duties.
The body of Sir Reginald was raised from the ground, and placed on
the levelled lances of four of his men, and Eustace then assisted
Gaston to rise. He tottered, leant heavily against the young Knight,
and was obliged to submit to be lifted to the saddle; but neither
pain, grief, nor faintness could check his flow of talk.
"Well, Eustace,--Sir Eustace, I would say,--you have seen somewhat
of the chances of war."
"The mischances you mean, Gaston."
"I tell you, many a man in this host would have given his whole
kindred for such luck as has befallen you. To cross swords with Du
Guesclin is honour enough. This cut will be a matter of boasting
to my dying day; but, to take him prisoner--"
"Nay, that was no merit of mine. Had not the rest come up, my wars
had soon been over, and I had been spared this grief."
"I know what most youths would have done in your place, and been
esteemed never the worse. Dropped the pennon at that first round
blow that brought you to your knee, and called for quarter. Poor
pennon, I deemed it gone, and would have come to your aid, but
before I could recover my feet, the fight was over, and I am glad
the glory is wholly yours. Knighted under a banner in a stricken
field! It is a chance which befalls not one man in five hundred,
and you in your first battle! But he heeds me not. He thinks only
of his brother! Look up, Sir Eustace, 'tis but the chance of war.
Better die under sword and shield, than like a bed-ridden old woman;
better die honoured and lamented, than worn out and forgotten.
Still he has not a word! Yea, and I could weep too for company,
for never lived better Knight, nor one whom Squire had better
cause to love!"
A battle in the days of chivalry was far less destructive than
those of modern times. The loss in both armies at Navaretta did
not amount to six hundred; and on Pedro's side but four Knights
had fallen, of whom Sir Reginald Lynwood was the only Englishman.
On the following day all the four were buried in solemn state, at
the church of the village of Navaretta, Sir Eustace following his
brother's bier, at the head of all the men-at-arms.
On returning to his tent, Eustace found Gaston sitting on his couch,
directing Guy, and old Poitevin, who had the blue crossletted pennon
spread on the ground before him. Eustace expressed his wonder.
"What," exclaimed Gaston, "would I see my Knight Banneret, the
youngest Knight in the army, with paltry pennon! A banneret are
you, dubbed in the open field, entitled to take precedence of all
Knight Bachelors. Here, Leonard, bring that pennon to me, that I
may see if it can be cut square."
"Poor Eleanor's pennon!" said Eustace, sadly.
"Nay, what greater honour can it have than in becoming a banner? I
only grieve that this bloodstain, the noblest mark a banner can bear,
is upon the swallow-tail. But what do I see? You, a belted Knight,
in your plain Esquire's helmet, and the blood-stained surcoat! Ay,
and not even the gilded spurs!" he exclaimed indignantly. "Would
that I had seen you depart! But it was Leonard's fault. Why, man,
knew you not your duty?"
"I am no Squire of Eustace Lynwood," said Ashton.
"Every Squire is bound to serve the Knight in whose company he finds
himself," said d'Aubricour. "Know you not thus much of the laws of
chivalry? Come, bestir yourself, that he may be better provided in
future. You must present yourself to the Prince to-morrow, Sir
"One of his Squires bade me to his presence," said the young Knight,
"but I must now write these heavy tidings to my poor sister, and I
am going to Father Waleran's tent to seek parchment and ink."
"And how send you the letter?"
"By the bearer of the Prince's letters to the King. Sir Richard
Ferrars knows him, and will give them into his charge. So farewell,
Gaston, keep quiet, and weary not yourself with my equipment."
With these words he left the tent, and Gaston, shaking his head,
and throwing himself back on his deer-skins, exclaimed, "Tender
and true, brave and loving! I know not what to make of Eustace
Lynwood. His spirit is high as a Paladin's of old, of that I never
doubted, yet is his hand as deft at writing as a clerk's, and his
heart as soft as a woman's. How he sighed and wept the livelong
night, when he thought none could hear him! Well, Sir Reginald
was a noble Knight, and is worthily mourned, but where is the
youth who would not have been more uplifted at his own honours,
than downcast at his loss; and what new-made Knight ever neglected
his accoutrements to write sad tidings to his sister-in-law? But,"
he continued, rising again, "Guy, bring me here the gilded spurs
you will find yonder. The best were, I know, buried with Sir
Reginald, and methought there was something amiss with one rowel
of the other. So it is. Speed to Maitre Ferry, the armourer,
and bid him come promptly."
"And lie you still on your couch meanwhile, Master d'Aubricour,"
said Guy, "or there will soon be another Squire missing among
the Lances of Lynwood."
"I marvel at you, d'Aubricour," said Leonard, looking up from a
pasty, which he was devouring with double relish, to make up for
past privations, "I marvel that you should thus weary yourself,
with your fresh wound, and all for nought."
"Call you our brave young banneret nought? Shame on thee! All
England should be proud of him, much more his friend and companion."
"I wish Eustace Lynwood well with all my heart," said Leonard, "but
I see not why he is to be honoured above all others. Yourself,
Gaston, so much older, so perfect in all exercises, you who fought
with this Frenchman too, of whom they make so much, the Prince
might as well have knighted you, as Eustace, who would have been
down in another moment had not I made in to the rescue. Methinks
if I had been the Prince, I would have inquired upon whom knighthood
would sit the best."
"And the choice would have been the same," said Gaston. "Not only
was Sir Eustace the captor of Messire Bertrand, whereas my luck
was quite otherwise; but what would knighthood have availed the
wandering landless foreigner, as you courteously term me, save to
fit me for the leadership of a band of _routiers_, and unfit me
for the office of an Esquire, which I do, as you say, understand
"Is it not the same with him?" cried Leonard. "He does not own a
palm's breadth of land, and for gold, all he will ever possess is
on those broken spurs of his brother's."
"Listen to me, Leonard," said Gaston. "Rich or poor, Sir Eustace
is the only fit leader of the Lances till the little boy is of age,
but this he could not be without knightly rank. Even in this
campaign, when I might have taken the command, I being disabled
for the present, it must have devolved on him, who might not have
been so readily obeyed."
"No, indeed," said Leonard. "Strange that the touch of the Prince's
sword should make so great a difference between him and me."
"If it was the touch of the Prince's sword that did so," said Gaston.
"What else?" sharply retorted Leonard. "Not height nor strength!
His hand and arm might belong to a girl, I could crush it in my
grasp." So saying, he extended a huge, hard, red palm.
"Ay?" said Gaston; "I should like to see whether that great paw
would have won Du Guesclin's sword."
"I tell you flatly," proceeded Ashton, "I might follow Sir Reginald,
since he was a man of substance, honoured in our country, and my
father meant to oblige and do him grace by placing me with him."
"Grace!" repeated Gaston.
"But," continued Ashton, angrily, "as to serving Eustace, the clerk,
no older than myself, half a head shorter, and a mere landless
upstart, that my father's son shall never do!"
"Say you so?" said Gaston. "I recommend you not to do so quite so
loud, or perchance the landless upstart might hand your father's
son over to the Provost Marshal, for preaching disaffection to his
men. And, in good time, here comes the Master Armourer."
The rest of the day was spent by Gaston in the arrangement of
the equipments, so important in his estimation, and scarcely
another word was spoken save on the choice of helm and shield,
and the adaptation of crests and blazonry. The next point for
consideration was the disposal of the prisoners taken by the
Lances of Lynwood in the early part of the battle. Two were
Squires, the other four, rough-looking men-at-arms who protested
that they could not pay one denier towards their ransom. Eustace
liberated them, and was greatly inclined to do the same by the
Squires; but Gaston assured him it would be doing wrong to the
Prince's cause to set the rogues free without taking some good
French crowns from them, and therefore, permitting him to name
what ransom he thought fit, he returned to them their horses,
and dismissed them to collect the sum.
Early the next morning, Gaston had the satisfaction of beholding
his young banneret arrayed in knightly guise, the golden spurs on
his heels, Du Guesclin's sword by his side, and his white mantle
flung over his shoulder. Leonard was summoned to accompany him,
but he growled out something so like an absolute refusal and utter
disclaimer of all duty to Sir Eustace, that Gaston began to reproach
"Never mind, Gaston," said Eustace, "you never mend matters with
him in that way, I shall do very well alone."
"So you shall never go," said Gaston, rising; "I will go myself,
I have been longing to see you received by the Prince. Where is
"Nay, Gaston," said Eustace, "that must not be. See how the hot
sunbeams lie across that hill between us and the Prince's tent.
You must not waste your strength if it is true that we are to
journey to Burgos to-day."
"It shows how new your chivalry is, that you make so much of a
mere scratch," said Gaston, hastily commencing his preparations;
"Guy, go you and saddle Brigliador."
"No, do not touch Brigliador," said Eustace. "You deny it in vain,
Gaston; your face betrays that you do not move without pain. I
learnt some leech-craft among my clerkly accomplishments, and you
had better take care that you do not have the benefit. Leonard,
since it is the only way to quiet him, I order you to mount."
Leonard hung his head, and obeyed. They rode towards the village
of Najara, where Eustace found the Prince entering the church, to
hear morning mass. Giving his horse to John Ingram, he followed
among the other Knights who thronged the little building.
The service at an end, he received more than one kind greeting
from his brother's friends, and one of them, Sir Richard Ferrars,
a fine old man, whose iron-gray locks contrasted with his ruddy
complexion, led him forward to present him to the Prince of Wales.
"Welcome! our new-made Knight," said Edward. "Brave comrades, I
present to you the youngest brother of our order, trusting you
will not envy him for having borne off the fairest rose of our
chaplet of Navaretta."
Bertrand du Guesclin, who stood among the throng of nobles around
the Prince, was the first to come forward and shake Eustace by the
hand, saying with a laugh, "Nay, my Lord, this is the first time the
ugliest Knight in France has been called by such a name. However,
young Sir, may you win and wear many another."
"That scarcely may be a sincere wish, Messire Bertrand," said the
Duke of Lancaster, "unless you mean roses of love instead of roses
of war. And truly, with his face, and the fame he owes to you,
methinks he will not find our damsels at Bordeaux very hard of
heart. See, he blushes, as if we had guessed his very thought."
"Truly, my Lord John," said old Sir John Chandos sternly, "a man
may well blush to hear a son of King Edward talk as if such
trifling were the reward of knighthood. His face and his fame
forsooth! as if he were not already in sufficient danger of being
cockered up, like some other striplings on whom it has pleased
his Highness to confer knighthood for as mere a chance as this."
"You have coloured his cheek in good earnest," said the Captal de
Buch. "Consider, Chandos, this is no time to damp his spirit."
"It were a spirit scarce worth fostering, if it is to be damped by
a little breath of the lips one way or the other," said Sir John,
moving off, and adding, when out of Eustace's hearing, "A likely
lad enough had he been under his brother's training, but they will
spoil him, and I will have no hand in it."
Eustace had been accustomed to hold the warrior in such veneration,
that he felt considerably hurt and mortified at the want of welcome
which contrasted with the kindness of the rest; and he could hardly
recover his self-possession sufficiently to inquire the pleasure of
the Prince with regard to his brother's troop.
"Take command yourself," said Edward. "You surely have some Esquire
or man-at-arms who can supply your own want of experience."
"My brother's Squire, Gaston d'Aubricour, is well learned in chivalry,
my Lord," said Eustace, "and I will do my best, with his aid, to
fulfil my trust."
"It is well," said Edward. "The Lances of Lynwood are too well
trained easily to forget their duty, and I fear not but that you
will do well. How old is your brother's young heir?"
"Eight years, my Lord."
"We will soon have him at Bordeaux," said Edward, "that he may grow
up with my boys in the same friendship as their fathers. And now,"
added he, turning from Eustace to the assembled nobles around him,
"let us part, and prepare for our further journey. In an hour's
time the bugles shall summon you to depart for Burgos."
The Prince walked away towards his tent with the Captal de Buch,
and Eustace looked round for his horse, which he saw at no great
distance with Ingram, but Leonard Ashton was nowhere in sight.
Eustace mounted, and rode towards his own tent, desiring the
yeoman to seek Ashton out, while he himself proceeded slowly,
musing, with feelings of considerable disappointment and vexation,
on the reception he had met from Sir John Chandos, the man in the
whole camp whose good opinion he would have most valued. "This
is folly," thought he, however, rousing himself after a minute or
two of such meditations. "What said the good old Baron but what
I know full well myself, that I am far from meriting my new honours?
On whom does it depend, but myself to win his praise? And by our
Lady's grace, I will make him confess at last, that, young as I
am, I can show that I deserve my spurs. What, ho! Ingram, where
is Master Ashton?"
"Where you will little like to hear of him, Sir Knight," said the
yeoman, galloping up on his tall Flemish horse. "At the wine-shop,
yonder, in the village, with that ill-favoured, one-eyed Squire
that you wot of. I called him as you desired, and all that I got
for an answer was, that he would come at his own time, and not at
"Said he so? the ungracious, headstrong fellow!" said Eustace,
looking back wistfully. "And what to do! To ride back myself
might be the means of getting the whole troop late in starting,
and disorderly--yet, to leave him!" Eustace looked at John
Ingram's comely and stolid face, and then almost smiled at
himself for seeking counsel from him. "Ride you on, John," said
he; "tell Master d'Aubricour of the order to depart--let all be
in readiness by the time I return."
Then turning his horse quickly, Eustace rode back to the village.
All was haste and confusion there--horses were being led forth
and saddled, pages, grooms, and men-at-arms hurrying to and fro
--bugles sounding--everything in the bustle incident to immediate
departure. He could only make his way through the press slowly,
and with difficulty, which ill suited with his impatience and
perplexity. In front of the venta, a low white cottage, with a
wooden balcony overspread with vines, there was a still closer
press, and loud vehement voices, as of disputants, were heard,
while the various men-at-arms crowded in so closely to see the
fray, if such it were, as to be almost regardless of the horse,
which Eustace was pressing forward upon them. He looked over
their heads to see Leonard, but in vain. He thought of retreat,
but found himself completely entangled in the throng. At that
moment, a cry was heard, "The Provost Marshal!" The crowd
suddenly, he knew not how, seemed to melt away from around him,
in different directions, and he found himself left, on horseback,
in the midst of the little village green, amongst scattered groups
of disreputable-looking yeomen, archers, and grooms, who were
making what speed they could to depart, as from the other side
the Provost, the archers of the guard, and Sir John Chandos
entered upon the scene.
"Ha! What is all this? Whom have we here?" exclaimed the old
Baron. "Sir Eustace Lynwood! By my life, a fair commencement
for your dainty young knighthood!"
"On my word, my Lord Chandos," said Eustace, colouring deeply, "I
am no loiterer here; I came but to seek my Squire, Leonard Ashton,
and found myself entangled in the crowd."
"Ay, ay! I understand," said Chandos, without listening to him;
"I see how it will be. Off to your troop instantly, Master Knight.
I suppose they are all seeking Squires in the wine-shops!"
"You do me wrong, my Lord," said Eustace; "but you shall be obeyed."
The bugles had already sounded before he reached his own quarters,
where he found that, thanks to Gaston, all was right. The tent
had been taken down and packed on the baggage mules, the men were
mounted, and drawn up in full array, with his banner floating above
their heads; and Gaston himself was only waiting his appearance to
mount a stout mule, which Martin, the horse-boy, was leading up and
"This is well. Thanks, good Gaston," said Eustace, with a sigh
of relief, as he took off his heavy helmet, which had become much
heated during his hasty ride in the hot sun.
"No news of the truant?" asked Gaston. "Who but you would have
thought of going after him? Well did I know you would never
prosper without me at your elbow."
Eustace smiled, but he was too much heated and vexed to give a
very cheerful assent. He had only time to load Ferragus with his
armour, and mount a small pony, before the signal for the march
was given, and all set forth. Early in the year as it was, the sun
already possessed great force, and the dry rocky soil of Castile
reflected his beams, so that, long before noon, it seemed to
Eustace almost as if their march lay through an oven. Nor were
his perplexities by any means at an end; the thirst, occasioned
by the heat, was excessive, and at every venta, in the villages
through which they passed, the men called loudly for liquor; but
the hot, fiery Spanish wine was, as Eustace had already been
cautioned by Father Waleran, only fit to increase the evil, by
inflaming their blood. It was the Holy Week, which was to him
a sufficient reason for refraining entirely, contenting himself
with a drink of water, when it could be procured, which, however,
was but rarely. He would willingly have persuaded his men to do
the same, but remonstrance was almost without effect, and his dry
lips refused to utter a prohibition, which would have been esteemed
at once cruel and unreasonable. In his persuasions to Gaston he
was, however, more in earnest, representing to him that he was
increasing the fever of his wound; but the Squire was perfectly
impracticable. At first, he answered in his usual gay, careless
manner, that the scratch was nothing, and that, be what it might,
he had as soon die of a wound as of thirst; but as the day wore on,
it seemed as if the whole nature of the man were becoming changed.
Sometimes he was boisterously loud in his merriment, sometimes
sullen and silent; and when Eustace, unwearied, reiterated his
arguments, he replied to him, not only with complete want of the
deference he was usually so scrupulous in paying to his dignity,
but with rude and scurril taunts and jests on his youth, his
clerkly education, and his inexperience. Eustace's patience would
scarcely have held out, but that he perceived that d'Aubricour
was by no means master of himself, and he saw in his flushed
brow, and blood-shot eye, reason to fear for the future effect of
the present excess. There was suppressed laughter among the men
at some of his sallies. Without being positively in disorder, the
troop did not display the well-arrayed aspect which had always
hitherto distinguished the Lances of Lynwood; and poor Eustace,
wearied and worn out, his right-hand man failing him, dispirited
by Chandos's reproach, and feeling all the cares of the world on
his shoulders, had serious thoughts of going to the Prince, and
resigning the command for which he was unfit.
At last he beheld the Cathedral of Burgos rising in the midst of
the Moorish fortifications of the town, and, halting his men under
the shade of a few trees, he rode on in search of the marshals of
the camp, and as soon as the open space for his tents had been
assigned, he returned to see them raised. Gaston, who had of late
become more silent, was lifted from his mule, and assisted into the
tent, where he was laid on his couch, and soon after, Eustace was
relieved from his anxiety on Leonard Ashton's account, by his
appearance. He came stumbling in without one word of apology,
only declaring himself as weary as a dog, and, throwing himself
down on a deer-skin on his own side of the tent, was fast asleep
in another minute.
Leonard Ashton was awakened the next morning by the light of the
rising sun streaming in where the curtain of the tent had been
raised to admit the fresh dewy morning air. The sunbeams fell
on the hair and face of Eustace as he leant over Gaston, who lay
stretched on the couch, and faintly spoke: "I tell you it is more.
Such fever as this would not be caused by this trifling cut. There
is sickness abroad in the camp, and why should it not be my turn
as well as another man's. Take care of yourself, Sir Eustace."
No sooner did Leonard understand the sense of these words, than
he sprang up, rushed out of the tent, and never rested till he
thought himself at a safe distance, when he shouted to Eustace
to come to him.
"Has he got this fever on him?" exclaimed he, as Eustace approached.
"He is very ill at ease," replied Eustace, "but to my mind it is
caused by yesterday's fatigue and heat, added to the wine which
he would drink."
"It is the fever, I say," replied Ashton; "I am sure it is. Come
away, Eustace, or we shall all be infected."
"I cannot leave him," said Eustace.
"What? You do not mean to peril yourself by going near him?"
"I think not that there is peril in so doing, answered Eustace; "and
even if there were, I could not leave him in sickness, after all his
kindness to me and patience with my inexperience."
"He is no brother nor cousin to us," said Leonard. "I see not why
we should endanger our lives for a stranger. I will not, for my own
part; and, as your old friend and comrade, I would entreat you not."
These were kinder words than Eustace had heard from Ashton since
the beginning of his jealousy, and he answered, as he thought they
were meant, in a friendly tone, "Thanks, Leonard, but I cannot
look on Gaston d'Aubricour as a stranger; and had I fewer causes
for attachment to him, I could not leave my post."
"Only you do not expect me to do the same," said Leonard; "my father
sent me here to gain honour and wealth, not to be poisoned with the
breath of a man in a fever."
"Assuredly not," said Eustace. "I will arrange matters so that you
shall no longer sleep in our tent. But let me ask of you, Leonard,
what was the meaning of your conduct of yesterday?"
"You may ask yourself," said Leonard, sullenly; "it is plain enough,
"Have a care, Leonard. Remember that my brother's authority is given
"Much good may it do you," said Leonard; "but that is nothing to me.
I am no vassal of yours, to come at your call. I have my own friends,
and am not going to stay in this infected part of the camp with men
who keep a fever among them. Give me but my sword and mantle from
the tent, and I will trouble you no more."
"Wait, Leonard, I will take all measures for your safety; but
remember that I am answerable to the Prince for my brother's
"Answer for your own serfs," retorted Leonard, who had nearly
succeeded in working himself into a passion. "My father might
be willing to grace Sir Reginald by letting me follow him, but
by his death I am my own man, and not to move at your beck and
call, because the Prince laid his sword on your shoulder. Knave
Jasper," he called to one of the men-at-arms, "bring my sword
and cloak from the tent; I enter it no more."
"I know not how far you may be bound to me," said Eustace, "and
must inquire from some elder Knight, but I fear that your breaking
from me may be attended with evil effects to your name and fame."
Leonard had put on his dogged expression, and would not listen. He
had already set his mind on joining _le Borgne Basque_, and leaving
the service which his own envious service rendered galling; and the
panic excited in his mind by Gaston's illness determined him to depart
without loss of time, or listening to the representations which he
could not answer. He turned his back on Eustace, and busied himself
with the fastenings of his sword, which had by this time been brought
to him. Even yet Eustace was not rebuffed. "One more hint, Leonard.
From what I am told, there is more peril to thy health in revelry than
in the neighbourhood of poor Gaston. If you will quit one who wishes
you well, take heed to your ways."
Still the discourteous Squire made no reply, and walked off in all
the dignity of ill-humour. The young Knight, who really had a warm
feeling of affection for him, stood looking after him with a sigh,
and then returned to his patient, whom he found in an uneasy sleep.
After a few moments' consideration, he summoned old Guy to take the
part of nurse, and walked to the tent of Sir Richard Ferrars, to ask
The old Knight, who was standing at the door of his tent, examining
into some hurt which his steed had received the day before, kindly
and cordially greeted Eustace on his approach. "I am glad you are
not above taking advice," he said, "as many a youth might be after
such fresh honours."
"I feel but too glad to find some one who will bestow advice on me,"
said Eustace; and he proceeded to explain his difficulties with
regard to Leonard Ashton.
"Let him go! and a good riddance," said Sir Richard; "half your cares
go with him."
"Yet I am unwilling not to attempt to hinder my old comrade from
running to ruin."
"You have quite enough on your own hands already," said the old
Knight; "he would do far more harm in your troop than out of it,
and try your patience every hour."
"He is my old playfellow," said Eustace, still dissatisfied.
"More shame for him," said Sir Richard; "waste not another thought on
so cross-grained a slip, who, as I have already feared, might prove a
stumbling-block to you, so young in command as you are. Let him get
sick of his chosen associates, and no better hap can befall him. And