Part 3 out of 3
It was out of the question for Griffeth to march or to fight. He lay
most of the day beside a little fire of peat, in a cabin that Wendot and
his men had constructed with their own hands, beneath the shelter of a
rock which broke the force of the north wind, and formed some protection
against the deep snow. Griffeth had borne his share gallantly in the
earlier part of the campaign, but a slight wound had laid him aside; and
since the intense cold had come, he had only grown more white and wasted
and feeble day by day. Now that the sun was gaining a little more power,
and that the melting of the snow bespoke that spring was at hand, Wendot
began to hope the worst was over; but to leave his brother in such a
state was out of the question, and he saw Llewelyn and Howel depart
without attempting to join them.
Days and weeks had passed, and no news had been received by those up in
the mountains of the result of Llewelyn's expedition. It was reported by
scouts that Edward was at Carnarvon Castle in person, making hostile
demonstrations of a determined kind, which, in the absence of their
chief, the wild Welsh kerns knew not how to repel. They were safe where
they were, and awaited the return of their leader; but a terrible stroke
had yet to fall upon them, which proved the final blow to all their
hopes and ambitions.
It was a wild, windy night. Wendot had piled the fire high, and was
sitting with Griffeth talking of past days, and gazing with an
unconscious wistfulness into the glowing embers, which seemed to him to
take the semblance of those familiar towers and rocks which he sometimes
felt as though he should never see again. Griffeth paused in the midst
of something he was saying, and looked round with a start. It seemed to
both brothers as though a hand was fumbling at the latch. Wendot rose
and opened the door, and a tall, gaunt figure staggered rather than
walked into the room, and sank down as if perfectly exhausted beside the
Griffeth uttered a startled exclamation.
"Llewelyn!" he cried sharply; and Wendot, barring the door, and coming
forward like one in a dream, asked with the calmness of one who reads
"Where is Howel?"
"Dead," came the answer in a hollow voice, as though the speaker was
exhausted past words -- "dead by the side of Llewelyn our prince. Would
that I too lay beside them!"
Wendot, too stunned to say another word at that moment, busied himself
in getting his brother food and wine, of which he plainly stood sorely
in need. He ate ravenously and in perfect silence; and his brothers
watched him without having the heart to put another question. Indeed
they knew the worst: their prince dead; the flower of their army slain
-- their own brother among the number -- the rest dispersed; the
remaining forces without a leader, without a rallying point, without a
hope. What need of farther words?
Presently Llewelyn spoke again, this time with more strength, but still
with the sullenness of despair:
"It was a mere skirmish on the banks of the Wye. We were in advance of
the main body, and a party of English fell upon us. We did our best to
sell our lives dearly. I thought I had sold mine when my time came, but
I awoke and found myself beside the stream. Howel was lying upon me,
stark and dead, and our prince a few yards away, with his own men round
him. I do not think the foe knew whom they had slain, or they would have
taken at least his head away as a trophy. I know not who took the news
to our comrades, but they learned it, and dispersed to the four winds. I
was forced to remain for some days in a shepherd's hut till my wounds
were somewhat healed, and since then I have been struggling back here,
not knowing what had befallen our camp in these mountains. Am I the
first to bear the, news, or has it been known before?"
"You are the first," answered Wendot in a strange, blank voice. "We have
heard nothing; we have been living in hopes of some triumph, some
victory. We will let our fellows rest in peace one night longer.
Tomorrow we must tell all, and decide what our action must be."
"There is nothing more to hope for," said Llewelyn darkly. "Our hope is
dead, our last prince lies in a nameless grave. There is but one choice
open to us now. Let those who will submit themselves to the proud
usurper, and let us, who cannot so demean the name we bear, go forth
sword in hand, and die fighting to the last for the country we may not
live to deliver."
It seemed, indeed, as if Llewelyn's words were to prove themselves true;
for no sooner did the news of the disaster on the banks of the Wye
become known than the army began to melt away, like the snow in the
increasing power of the sun. The chiefs, without a head, without a cause
or a champion, either retired to their own wild solitudes or hastened to
make their peace with their offended king; and only those who put honour
before safety or life itself stood forth sword in hand to die, if it
might be, with face to foe in defence of a cause which they knew was
And amongst this gallant but reckless little band were the three
brothers of Dynevor, who, having once taken up the sword against Edward,
were determined not to lay it down until the hand of death was cold upon
CHAPTER X. CARNARVON CASTLE.
"There has been a battle -- desperate fighting. They are bringing the
prisoners into the guardroom," cried Britton, bursting into the royal
apartments with small ceremony in his excitement. "Come, Alphonso; come,
Joanna -- let us go and see them. Our fellows say they made a gallant
stand, and fought like veritable tigers. In sooth, I would I had been
there. Methinks it is the last of the fighting these parts will see for
many a long year."
Alphonso sprang up at the word of his comrade, eager to go and see the
prisoners, his humane and kindly nature prompting him to ascertain that
no undue harshness was displayed towards them by the rude soldiers. But
Joanna, although her face was full of interest and eagerness, shook her
head with a little grimace and a glance in the direction of her
governess, Lady Edeline; for during the years that had elapsed between
the visit of the royal children to Rhuddlan and this present visit to
Carnarvon, Joanna had grown from a child to a woman, and was no longer
able to run about with her brothers at will, though she still retained
her old fearless, independent spirit and impulsive generosity of
temperament, and was a universal favourite, despite the fact that she
gave more trouble than any of her younger sisters.
The royal family had been for some time in Wales. They had wintered at
Rhuddlan, where the little Princess Elizabeth had been born the previous
year, just prior to the outbreak of the rebellion. Now they were at
Carnarvon for greater security, the king considering that fortress the
stronger of the two. The rebellion was practically at an end, but there
was much to look into and arrange with regard to the rebels and their
affairs, and there was the prospect of a considerable sojourn at the castle.
At this moment Edward was himself absent, though not far away. It had
been rumoured that there had been sharp, irregular fighting all about
the region of Snowdon, where the rebels had had their headquarters.
Considerable excitement had prevailed for some time in the English
ranks, and there was still complete uncertainty as to the fate of
Llewelyn, Prince of Wales; for although a rumour was rife that he had
fallen in fight, it had never been corroborated by trustworthy
testimony, and so long as that turbulent prince remained alive there was
no security for the peace or submission of the country.
Thus it was that the news of a victory and the capture of prisoners was
exceedingly exciting to those within the castle. Alphonso, who was
looking somewhat stronger for his sojourn in the bracing air of Wales,
sprang up to go with Britton to make inspection, and again Joanna
secretly bewailed her fate at being a girl, unable to take an equal
share with her brother in such matters.
The guardroom at the castle was a vast and really fine apartment, with a
vaulted roof and majestic pillars, that gave the idea of much rude
strength of construction. Just at this moment it was the scene of an
animated picture, and the boys paused at the door by which they had
entered to look about them with eager curiosity.
The hall was full of soldiers, most of whom wore the English king's
badge, and were known by sight to them as being attached to the castle;
but mingled with these were other men, some in the English dress, but
many others wearing the wild garb of the sons of the mountains, and
these last had, for the most part, fetters on their wrists, or were
bound two and two together and guarded by the English, whilst many of
them were drooping under the effect of ghastly wounds, and several forms
lay stretched along the ground indifferent to, or insensible of, their
Desperate fighting there had been, indeed, to judge from appearances,
and Alphonso's gentle spirit was stirred within him as he caught the
sound of deep groans mingling with the loud voices of the soldiers. He
had inherited the gentle spirit of his mother, and the generosity which
always takes the part of the weak and oppressed. It mattered not that
these men had been taken with swords drawn against his royal father;
they were prisoners now, they had lost their all; and if rebels from the
English standpoint, had been striving to free their country from what
appeared to them as the unjust inroads of a foreign foe.
Alphonso, himself sinking into an early grave, and fully aware of his
own state, saw life somewhat differently from his soldier sire, and felt
little sympathy for that lust of conquest which was to the great Edward
as the elixir of life. The lad's thoughts were more of that eternal
crown laid up in the bright land where the sword comes not, and where
the trump of war may never be heard. The glory of an earthly diadem was
as nothing to him, and he had all that deep love for his fellow men
which often characterizes those who know that their time on earth is short.
Stepping forward, therefore, with the air of quiet authority which he
knew so well how to assume, he enforced silence by a gesture; and as the
soldiers respectfully fell back before him, he walked through the groups
of prisoners, speaking friendly words to them in their own tongue, and
finally gave strict command to the captain of the guardroom to remove
the fetters from those who were wounded, and see that they had all due
tendance and care, whilst the rest were to be guarded with as little
rigour as possible, and shut up together, where they would have at least
the consolation of companionship in their misfortune.
The captain gave respectful heed to these words, and was by no means
loath to carry out his instructions. He was a humane man himself, though
inured to the horrors of war, and he, in common with all who came into
contact with the young prince, felt towards him a great love and
reverence; for there was something unearthly at times in the radiant
beauty of the young Alphonso's face, and the growing conviction that he
was not long for this world increased the loving loyalty shown to him by
"Your Grace's behests shall be obeyed," answered the man readily; "I
myself will see that the wounded receive due and fitting care. They are
brave fellows, be they rebels or no, and verily I believe there is not a
man of them but would have laid down his life a hundred times to save
that of the two young leaders who led them on to the last desperate
sally. Such gallant feats of arms I have seldom beheld, and it was sore
trouble to capture without killing them, so fiercely did they fight. But
I bid the men take them alive, if possible, as they seemed too gallant
and noble to fall in that vain struggle. Methinks, could they be tamed
to serve the king as valiantly as they fought for that forlorn hope,
they might be well worth the saving. I am always loath to see a brave
life flung away, be it of friend or foe."
"Right, good Poleyn; thy words do thee credit. And where are these
gallant leaders? Show me them, for I would fain speak a kindly word to
them. I would not that they feared my father's wrath too much. Stern he
may be, but cruel never, and it would please me well to bid them submit
themselves to him, that he might the more readily forgive them. Tell me
which they be."
"They are not here," answered the captain; "I had them removed for
greater comfort and security to mine own lodging. One of them is so sore
wounded that I feared he would not live to make submission to the king
unless he had prompt and skilful tendance; whilst the other, although
his hurts be fewer and less severe, looks as if some mortal sickness
were upon him. It may be nought but the feebleness that follows loss of
blood and hard fighting; but I left them both to the care of my wife,
who is the best tender of the sick that I have ever known. They came
under her hands last night, brought on by our mounted fellows in advance
of the rest. Today they are somewhat recovered; but I have had scarce
time to think of them. I have been occupied since dawn with these other
"I would fain see these youths; said you not they were but youths,
Poleyn?" said Alphonso, whose interest was aroused by the tale he had
heard. "I will go to your lodging and request admittance. Your worthy
wife will not refuse me, I trow?"
The man smiled, and said that his wife would be proud indeed to be so
visited. Alphonso, to whom the intricacies of the castle were well
known, lost no time in finding the lodging of the captain of the guard,
and quickly obtained admittance to the presence of the wounded youths,
who occupied a comfortable chamber over the gateway, and had plainly
been well looked to by the capable and kindly woman who called Poleyn
her lord and master.
The bright light of day was excluded from the sickroom, and as the
prince stood in the doorway his eyes only took in the general appearance
of two recumbent figures, one lying upon a couch beside a glowing fire
of wood, and the other extended motionless upon a bed in an attitude
that bespoke slumber, his face bandaged in such a way that in no case
would it have been recognizable.
But as Alphonso's eyes grew used to the darkness, and fixed themselves
upon the face of the other youth, who was dressed and lying on the
couch, he suddenly gave a great start, and advanced with quick steps to
"Griffeth!" he cried suddenly.
The figure on the couch gave a start, a pair of hollow eyes flashed
open, there was a quick attempt to rise, checked by the prince himself,
and Griffeth exclaimed in the utmost astonishment:
"Yes, Griffeth, it is I indeed;" and then the prince sat down on the
edge of the couch and gazed intently at the wasted features of the
youth, towards whom in days gone by he had felt such a strong attachment.
There was something of sorrow and reproach in his glance as he said gently:
"Griffeth, can it really be thou? I had not thought to have seen thee in
the ranks of our foes, fighting desperately against my father's
soldiers. Whence has come this bitter change in thy feelings? and what
is Wendot doing, who was to act as guardian toward his younger brethren?
Hast thou broken away from his controlling hand? O Griffeth, I grieve to
see thee here and in such plight."
But Griffeth's sad glance met that of the young prince unfalteringly and
without shame, although there was something in it of deep and settled
sorrow. He made a gesture as though he would have put out his hand, and
Alphonso, who saw it, grasped it warmly, generous even when he felt that
he and his father had been somewhat wronged.
"Think not that we took up arms willingly, Wendot and I," he said
faintly, yet with clearness and decision. "Ay, it is Wendot who lies
there, sore wounded, and sleeping soundly after a night of fever and
pain. We shall not disturb him, he is fast in dreamland; and if you
would listen to my tale, gentle prince, I trow you would think something
less hardly of us, who have lost our all, and have failed to win the
soldier's death that we went forth to seek, knowing that it alone could
make atonement for what must seem to your royal father an act of
treachery and breach of faith."
And then Griffeth told all his tale -- told of the wrongs inflicted on
hapless Wales in Edward's absence by the rapacious nobles he had left
behind him to preserve order, of the ever-increasing discontent amongst
the people, the wild hope, infused by David's sudden rising, of uniting
once and for all to throw off the foreign yoke and become an independent
nation again. He told of the action taken by their twin brothers, of the
pressure brought to bear upon Wendot, of the vigilant hostility of their
rapacious kinsman Res ap Meredith, son of the old foe Meredith ap Res,
now an English knight, and eager to lay his hands upon the broad lands
of Dynevor. It was made plain to the prince how desperate would have
been Wendot's condition, thus beset with foes and held responsible for
his brothers' acts. Almost against his will had he been persuaded, and
at least he had played the man in his country's hour of need, instead of
trying to steer his way by a cold neutrality, which would have ruined
him with friend and foe alike.
Griffeth told of the hardships of that campaign amongst the mountains;
of the death of Llewelyn the prince, and of his brother Howel; and of
the resolve of the gallant little band, thus bereft of their hope, to go
out and die sword in hand, and so end the miserable struggle that had
ceased to be aught but a mockery of war. It was plainly a bitter thought
even to the gentle Griffeth that they had not met the death they craved,
but had fallen alive into the hands of the foe.
Alphonso gently chid him, and comforted him with brave and kindly words;
and then he asked what had befallen his brother Llewelyn, and if he had
likewise fallen in the fight.
"Nay; he was not with us when we made that last rally. He commenced the
march with us, but his wound broke out again, and we were forced to
leave him behind. He and a handful of faithful servants from Iscennen
and Dynevor were to try and push on to the stronghold of Einon ap
Cadwalader, and ask counsel and assistance from him. In old days he and
our father were friends. Although he was one of the few who did not join
Llewelyn in this rising, he has ever been well-disposed towards his
countrymen. So we hoped our brother would find shelter and help there.
If he had tried to march with us, he must assuredly have died."
"Ha!" said Alphonso smilingly, "methinks Llewelyn will have no trouble
in gaining entrance there. Rememberest thou the Lady Arthyn, who was
with us at Rhuddlan when thou wast there before? She hath left us of
late to return to her father, whose loyalty has been proved, and whose
request for his child was listened to graciously. But we shall be seeing
them soon again, for my father betrothed Arthyn's hand to Raoul Latimer,
whom doubtless thou rememberest as a somewhat haughty and quarrelsome
lad. Time has softened down some of his rude tempers, and he has ever
been eager for the match. My father has promised her hand in troth
plight to him, and we await the coming of her and her father for the
ceremony of betrothal.
"If I remember rightly, she was always a friend to thy brother. If so,
he will find a ready welcome at her father's house, for my Lady Arthyn
always had a soft spot in her heart for those we called rebels. She was
a true daughter of Wales, albeit she loved us well, and she will like
thy brother none the less that his sword has been unsheathed against the
And then the prince and the rebel subject both laughed, and that laugh
did more to bring them back to their old familiar relations than all
that had gone before.
Griffeth was easily led on to tell the story of the life at Dynevor
these past years; and Alphonso better understood from his unconscious
self-betrayal than from his previous explanation how the fire of
patriotic love burned in the hearts of these brothers. He thought that
had he been one of them he would have acted even as they had done, and
there was no anger but only a pitying affection in his heart towards one
whose life was overshadowed by a cloud so like the one which hung upon
the horizon of his own sky.
For it was plain to him that Griffeth's hold on life was very slight;
that he was suffering from the same insidious disease which was sapping
away his own health and strength. He had suspected it years before, and
this supposition had made a link between them then; now he was certain
of it, and certain, too, that the end could not be very far off. The
fine constitution of the young Welshman had been undermined by the
rigours of the past winter, and there was little hope that the coming
summer would restore to him any of the fictitious strength which had
long buoyed up Wendot with the hope that his brother would yet live to
grow to man's estate.
"For myself I do not think I wish it," said Griffeth, with one of his
luminous glances at Alphonso; "life is very hard, and there seems
nothing left to live for. I know not how I could live away from the
woods and rocks of Dynevor. But there is Wendot -- my dear, kind, most
loving brother. It cuts me to the heart to think of leaving him alone.
Prince Alphonso, you are the king's son; will you pardon Wendot his
trespass, and stand his friend with your royal father? I have no right
to ask it. We have grievously offended, but he is my brother --"
A violent fit of coughing came on, and the sentence was never completed.
Alphonso raised the wasted form in his arms, and soothed the painful
paroxysm as one who knows just what will best relieve the sufferer. The
sound roused Wendot, who had been sleeping for many hours, and although
he had been brought in last night in an apparently almost dying state,
his vigorous constitution was such that even these few hours' quiet
rest, and the nourishment administered to him by the good woman who
waited on him, had infused new life into his frame, so that he had
strength to sit up in bed, and to push aside the bandage which had
fallen over his eyes, as he anxiously asked his brother what was amiss.
Then Alphonso came towards him, and, holding his hand in a friendly
clasp, told him that he had heard all the story, and that he was still
their friend, and would plead for them with his father. Wendot,
bewildered and astonished and ashamed, could scarce believe his senses,
and asked, with a proud independence which raised a smile in Alphonso's
eyes, that he might be led out to speedy death -- the death by the
headsman's axe, which was all he had now to hope for. Life had no longer
any charms for him, he said; if only his young brother might be
pardoned, he himself would gladly pay the forfeit for both.
But Alphonso, upon whose generous spirit bravery and self devotion, even
in a foe, were never thrown away, replied kindly that he would see if
peace could not be made with his offended sire, and that meantime Wendot
must get well fast, and regain his health and strength, so as to be fit
to appear before the king in person if he should be presently summoned.
But though the young prince left lighter hearts behind him in the room
where the two eagles of Dynevor were imprisoned, he found that the task
he had set himself with his father was a more difficult one than he had
anticipated. Edward was very greatly incensed by this fierce and futile
rebellion that had cost him so many hundreds of brave lives, and had
inflicted such sufferings on his loyal troops. The disaster at Menai
still rankled in his breast, and it was with a very stern brow and a
face of resolute determination that he returned to Carnarvon to look
into matters, and to settle upon the fate of the many prisoners and
vassals who had once mere placed themselves or their lands in his sole
power through the act which had rendered them forfeit.
Nor was Alphonso's task rendered less difficult from the fact that Sir
Res ap Meredith had been before him, poisoning the king's mind against
many of the Welsh nobles, and particularly against the sons of Res
Vychan, in whose possession were the province and castle of Dynevor.
Upon that fair territory he had long cast covetous eyes. He cared little
in comparison for the more barren and turbulent region of Iscennen, and
it was upon Wendot and Griffeth, but particularly upon Wendot, that the
full bitterness of his invective was poured. He had so imbued the king
with the idea that the youth was dangerous, turbulent, and treacherous
(charges that his conduct certainly seemed to bear out), that it was
small wonder if Edward, remembering his own former goodwill towards the
youth, should feel greatly incensed against him. And although he
listened to Alphonso's pleadings, and the lad told his story with much
simple eloquence and fervour, the stern lines of his brow did not relax,
and his lips set themselves into an ominous curve which the prince liked
little to see.
"Boy," he said, with an impatience that boded ill for the success of the
cause, "I verily believe wert thou in the place of king, thou wouldst
give to every rebel chief his lands again, and be not contented until
thine own throne came tottering about thine ears. Mercy must temper
justice, but if it take the place of justice it becomes mere weakness. I
trusted Wendot ap Res Vychan once, and laid no hand upon his lands. Thou
hast seen how this trust has been rewarded. To reinstate him now would
be madness. No. I have in Sir Res ap Meredith a loyal and true servant,
and his claims upon his traitorous kinsman's lands may not be
disregarded. Dynevor will pass away from Wendot. It is throwing words
away to plead with me. My mind is made up. I trust not a traitor twice."
There was something in his father's tone that warned Alphonso to press
the matter no more. He knew that when Edward thus spoke his word was
final and irrevocable; and all he ventured now to ask was, "What will
become of Wendot and his brother? You will not take their lives, sweet
"Their lives I give to thee, my son," answered Edward, with a gesture
towards his boy which betrayed a deep love, and showed that although he
had denied him sternly he did not do so willingly. "As thou hast pleaded
for them, I will not sentence them to death; but they remain my
prisoners, and regain not their liberty. I know the turbulent race from
which they spring. Sir Res will have small peace in his new possessions
if any of the former princes of Dynevor are at large in the country.
Wendot and Griffeth remain my prisoners."
"Nay, father; let them be my prisoners, I pray," cried Alphonso, with
unwonted energy and animation. "Thou hast granted me their lives; grant
me the keeping of their persons too. Nay, think not that I will connive
at their escape. Give whatsoever charge thou wilt concerning the safety
of their persons to those who guard us in our daily life, but let me
have them as gentlemen of mine own. Call them prisoners an you will, but
let their imprisonment be light -- let me enjoy their company. Thou
knowest that Britton is fretting for a freer life, and that I see little
of him now. I have often longed for a companion to share my solitary
hours. Give me Griffeth and Wendot. They have the royal blood of Wales
flowing in their veins, and methinks they love me even as I love them.
And, father, Griffeth has not many months, methinks, to live; and I know
so well all he suffers that my heart goes out to him. He has the love of
books that I have, and we have so many thoughts which none seem to
understand save our two selves. And he and Wendot are as one. It would
be cruelty such as thou wouldst not inflict to separate them whilst one
has so short a time to live. Give me them for mine own attendants, and
bid the servants guard them as best pleaseth thee. Sweet father, I have
not asked many boons of thee. Grant me this one, I pray thee, for my
heart is verily set on it."
There was something in this appeal, something in the look upon
Alphonso's face, something in the very words he had used, that made it
impossible to his father to refuse him. Blind his eyes as he would to
the truth, he was haunted by a terrible fear that the life of his only
son was surely slipping away. Alphonso did not often speak of his
health, and the hint just dropped struck chill upon the father's heart.
Passing his hand across his face to conceal the sudden spasm of pain
that contracted it, he rose hastily from his chair, and said:
"Give thine own orders concerning these youths. I leave them in thy
hands. Make of them what it pleaseth thee. Only let them understand that
charge will be given to the custodians of the castle, and of whatever
place they visit in the future, that they are prisoners at the king's
pleasure, and that any attempt at escape will be punished with instant
and rigorous captivity."
"So be it," answered Alphonso, with brightening eyes. "I thank thee,
father, for the boon. Thou shalt never have cause to repent it."
CHAPTER XI. THE KING'S CLEMENCY.
"Unhand me, sir. How dare you thus insult me? Let go my hand, or I
summon help instantly. I am come to seek the king. Will you raise a
tumult within hearing of his private apartments? Unhand me, I say," and
Arthyn's cheeks flamed dangerously, whilst her eyes flashed fire.
But Raoul Latimer, though a craven before the face of an armed foe,
could be resolute enough when he had only an unprotected woman to deal
with, and was quite disposed to show his valour by pressing his
unwelcome salutations upon the cheek of the girl he regarded as his
future wife. His surprise at encountering Arthyn, whom he believed far
away in her father's castle, hastening alone down one of the long
corridors of Carnarvon Castle, had been very great. He could not imagine
what had thus brought her, and was eager to claim from her the greeting
he felt was his due.
But Arthyn had never lacked for spirit, and had always confessedly
abhorred Raoul, nor had absence seemed to make the heart grow fonder, at
least in her case. She repulsed him with such hearty goodwill that his
cowardly fury was aroused, and had not the girl cried aloud in her anger
and fear, he might have done her some mischief. But even as she lifted
her voice a door in the corridor was flung open, and the king himself
strode forth, not, as it chanced, in response to the call, which had not
reached his ears, but upon an errand of his own. Now when he saw that at
the doors of his own private apartments one of his own gentlemen had
dared to lay rude hands upon a woman, his kingly wrath was stirred, and
one blow from his strong arm sent Raoul reeling across the corridor till
the wall stopped his farther progress.
"How now, malapert boy?" cried Edward in deep displeasure. "Is it thus
you disgrace your manhood by falling upon the defenceless, and by
brawling even within hearing of your sovereign? You are not so wondrous
valiant in battle, Raoul Latimer, that you can afford to blast the small
reputation you have.
"Sweet lady, be not afraid; thy king will protect thee from farther insult.
"Ha, Arthyn, is it thou, my child? Nay, kneel not in such humbly
suppliant fashion; rise and kiss me, little one, for thou art only less
dear to me than mine own children. Come hither, maiden, and speak to me.
What has brought thee here alone and unannounced? And what has raised
this storm betwixt ye twain?"
"Sire -- my king -- hear me," cried Arthyn in a choked voice; "and bid
that wicked youth, whom I have ever hated, leave us. Let me speak to you
alone and in private. It is to you, gracious lord, that I have come.
Grant me, I pray you, the boon of but a few words alone and in private.
I have somewhat to tell your grace -- your royal pardon to ask."
"Pardon? tush, maiden! thou canst not have offended greatly. But come
hither; what thou hast to say thou shalt say before the queen and
Eleanor. They have ever been as mother and sister to thee. Thou hast no
secrets for me which they may not hear?"
"Ah no; I would gladly speak all before them," answered Arthyn eagerly,
knowing that in the gentle Eleanor of Castile and her daughter she would
find the most sympathizing of friends.
Intensely patriotic as the girl had ever been, loving her country above
all else, and throwing heart and soul into that country's cause, she had
yet learned a deep love and reverence for the family of the English
king, amongst whom so many years of her young life had been spent. She
was able to do full justice to the kindly and domestic side of the
soldier king's nature, and, whilst she regarded him as a foe to Wales,
looked upon him personally as a friend and protector.
Edward's gentleness and affection in his private life equalled his
stern, unbending policy in matters of state. It was very tenderly and
kindly that he led the girl to the private apartments of the queen; and
when once Arthyn found herself face to face with one who had given to
her more of mother love than any other being in the world, she flung
herself into the arms opened to receive her, and out came the whole
story which had brought her on this secret mission to Carnarvon.
"Sweet lady, O most gracious madam, listen and plead for me with the
king. He is kind and good, and he knows what true love is. Lady, it is
as a wedded wife I come to you, craving pardon for what I have done. But
I ever hated that wicked Raoul Latimer, my country's foe, and would have
died rather than plight my troth to him. And when he came to us -- he,
my love, my life, he whom I loved long years ago when we met as boy and
girl, and whom I have never forgotten -- what could I do? How could I
"And my father approved. He gave my hand in wedlock. And now I am come
to pray your pardon for myself and for him whom I love. Oh, do not turn
a deaf ear to me! As you have loved when you were young, pardon those
who have done likewise."
King and queen exchanged glances, half of amusement, half of
astonishment, but there was no anger in either face. Raoul was no
favourite in the royal circle, and his visible cowardice in the recent
campaign had brought him into open disfavour with the lion-hearted
Edward. He loved Arthyn dearly, and this proof of her independence of
spirit, together with her artless confidence in his kindliness of heart,
pleased him not a little. He had been forced during these past days to
act a stern part towards many of the Welsh nobles who had been brought
before him. He was glad enough, this thankless task accomplished, to
allow the softer and more kindly side of his nature to assert itself.
And perhaps the sympathetic glances of his son Alphonso, who had just
entered the room, helped to settle his resolve that Arthyn at least
should receive full and free forgiveness.
Eleanor had drawn her former playmate towards her, and was eagerly
questioning her as to the name of him to whom her heart and hand were
now given, and the answer sent a thrill of surprise through the whole
"It is one whom you all know, sweet Eleanor -- Llewelyn, the son of Res
Vychan, Lord of Dynevor. Thou knowest, Eleanor, how he came amongst us
at Rhuddlan years agone now, and perchance thou sawest even then how we
loved one another, albeit it was but the love of children. But we never
have forgotten, and when he came to my father's castle, wounded and
weary and despairing after the disaster which robbed Wales of her last
native prince, what could we do but receive and tend him? It was thus it
came about, and love did the rest."
"And so thou hast wed a rebel, maiden?" quoth Edward, in tones that
seemed to be stern by effort rather than by the will of the speaker,
whilst the kindly light in the eyes belied his assumed harshness; "and
having done so thou hast the hardihood to come and tell us of it thine
own self. Fie upon thee for a saucy wench! What better dost thou expect
for thyself and thy lord than a lodging in the lowest dungeon of the keep?"
"I know that we ought to expect nothing better," answered Arthyn, with
her brightest smile, as she turned fearlessly upon the king. "But do as
you will with us, noble king, and we will not rebel or complain, so that
we may be together. And my dear lord bid me give you this. He took it
with his own hands from the dead hand of Llewelyn, Prince of Wales, and
he charged me to place it in your hands as a pledge and token that your
enemy ceased to live. Report has told him that men say Llewelyn escaped
that day, and that he yet lives to rise against you again. By this
signet you may know that he lies dead and cold, and that with him has
perished the last hope of Wales ever to be ruled by a prince of her own."
Edward put forth his hand eagerly, and examined the signet ring, which
was one he himself had given to Llewelyn on the occasion of his last
submission. And as he looked upon it a great weight seemed to be rolled
from off him, for it was the first decided intimation he had had that
his foe was actually slain. Rumour had been rife with reports of his
escape, and although there had not been lacking testimony to the effect
that the prince had fallen in battle, the fact had never been adequately
established. A few quick questions to Arthyn appeared to establish this
beyond all doubt, and in the expansion of the moment Edward was ready
not only to forgive the bearer of such welcome tidings, but to forget
that he had ever been an offender. One of the sons of Res Vychan had
paid the price of his breach of faith with his life; two more were
prisoners at his royal pleasure. Surely the family had suffered enough
without harsher vengeance being taken. Surely he might give to Arthyn
the liberty and possibly even the lands of her lord in return for the
welcome intelligence she had brought.
Alphonso, ever on the side of mercy, joined with the queen and Eleanor
in persuading the king to forgive and forget, and Arthyn was sent home
the day following laden with presents and good wishes, bearing a full
pardon to her lord from the English king, as well as a half promise that
when the country became somewhat more settled he might make request for
his commot of Iscennen with reasonable chance of being heard.
Wendot and Griffeth both saw their new sister before her return, and
charged her with all sorts of friendly messages for Llewelyn. If Wendot
thought it hard that the brother who had always been England's bitterest
foe should be pardoned and rewarded, whilst he himself should be left to
pine in captivity, at least he made no sign, and never let a word of
bitterness pass his lips. Indeed he was too ill greatly to trouble
himself over his own condition or the future that lay before him. Fever
and ague had supervened upon the wounds he had received, and whilst
Griffeth was rapidly recovering such measure of health and strength as
he ever could boast, Wendot lay helpless and feeble, scarce able to lift
his head from the pillow, and only just equal to the task of speaking to
Arthyn and comprehending the good news with which she came charged.
The brothers had now been removed to better apartments, near to those
occupied by the prince, whose servants they nominally were. Griffeth had
begun to enter upon some of his duties towards his royal patron, and the
friendship begun in boyhood was rapidly ripening to an intimacy which
surprised them both. Such perfect mutual understanding and sympathy was
rare and precious; and Griffeth did not even look back with longing to
the old life, so entirely had his heart gone out to the youthful prince,
whose days on earth, like his own, were plainly numbered.
Lady Gertrude Cherleton was still an inmate of the royal household. She
was now a ward of Edward's, her father having died a year or two
previously. She was not considered a minor any longer, having attained
the age of eighteen some time before, and the management of her estates
was left partially to her. But she remained by choice the companion of
Eleanor and Joanna, and would probably continue to do so until she
married. It was a source of wonder to the court why she did not make
choice of a husband amongst the many suitors for her hand; but she had
hitherto turned a deaf ear to the pleadings of all. Sir Godfrey
Challoner had long been sighing at her feet, but she would have none of
him, and appeared to be proof against all the shafts of the blind god of
But her intense excitement when she heard of the arrival at Carnarvon of
the two brothers from Dynevor told its own tale to the Princess Joanna,
who had ever been the girl's confidante in this matter, and who had
known from childhood how Gertrude had always believed herself pledged.
It was a charming secret for them to cherish between them; and now that
Wendot was once more beneath the castle roof, the impulsive Joanna would
launch out into extravagant pictures of future happiness and prosperity.
Her ardent temperament, having no personal romance to feed upon -- for
though her hand had once been plighted, her future lord had been drowned
the previous year in a boating accident, and she was again free --
delighted to throw itself into the concerns of her friend, and the sense
of power which had been so early implanted within her made her confident
of being able to overcome obstacles and attain the object of her wishes,
be the difficulties and dangers in their path never so great.
"You shall be united, Gertrude, an he loves thee," cried the generous
Joanna, flinging her arms round the neck of her companion, and kissing
her again and again. "His life, his liberty, shall be obtained, and thou
and he shall be happy together. I have said it, and I will do it."
Whatever was known to Joanna was known to Alphonso, who shared all her
feelings, and was most tenderly beloved by her. He was as ardent in the
cause as his sister could be; but he saw more of the difficulties that
beset their path, and knew better his father's iron temperament, and how
deeply Wendot had offended. Doubtless much was due to the
misrepresentations of Sir Res ap Meredith, who had now secured for
himself the coveted lands of Dynevor; but whatever the cause, the eldest
son of the house of Dynevor was the object of the king's severe
displeasure, and it was not likely he would relax his vigilance or
depart from his word, not even for the prayers of his children or the
tears of his favourite Gertrude. He had pardoned Llewelyn at the
instance of Arthyn; if the same game were to be played over again by
another of his daughters' companions, he would not unnaturally believe
that he was being cajoled and trifled with.
"If it were only Griffeth it would be easy," said Alphonso thoughtfully.
"But Wendot --"
And there he stopped and shook his head.
It was some days before the king saw the new attendant of his sons; but
coming into Alphonso's private apartment one day suddenly, he found
several of the royal children gathered there, and with them a
fair-haired youth, who was reading to the prince out of an illuminated
missal. Alphonso was lying on a couch, and his look of fragile weakness
struck cold to the father's heart. Of late the lad's strength had been
failing rapidly, but Edward had tried to blind his eyes to the truth.
Now he took a hasty step towards the couch, and Griffeth rose quickly
from his seat and bent the knee before the king.
"Ha, Wendot," said Edward, with a grave but not unkindly glance, "I have
not seen you at these new duties before. So you are a student as well as
a soldier? Well, the arts of peace will better become you for the
future. I remember your face well, young man. I would it had not been my
duty to place you under restraint; but you have broken faith with me,
and that grievously. How then can it be possible to trust you in the
future? You, as the head of the house, should have set your brothers an
example of honour and fealty. As it is, it has been far otherwise, and
now you will have to bear the burden of that breach of trust and honour."
Twice Griffeth had opened his lips as if to speak, but Alphonso laid his
hand upon his arm with a warning touch, which said as plainly as words
could do, "Be silent."
So the youth held his peace, and only bent his head in submission; and
Edward, after a moment's pause, added more kindly:
"And how fares it with your brother, Wendot? I hear that his state is
something precarious. I hope he has the best tendance the castle can
afford, for I would not that any member of my son's household should
suffer from lack of care."
"He has all that he needs, I thank you, sire," answered Griffeth. "He
lies sorely sick at this present time, but I trust he will amend ere long."
And then the king turned to his son, and spoke with him on some message
of the state, and departed without heeding the excited glances of Joanna
or the restless way in which she kept looking first at Alphonso and then
But scarcely had the door closed behind the retiring form of the king
before the excitable girl had bounded to her brother's side.
"O Alphonso," she cried, "did you do it on purpose? Tell me what you
have in your head."
Alphonso sat up and pushed the hair out of his eyes. Griffeth was simply
looking on in surprise and bewilderment. The prince laid a hand upon his
arm and spoke very earnestly.
"Griffeth," he said, "it seems to me that through this error of my
father's we may yet find means to compass the deliverance of Wendot.
There are none of those save ourselves who know which of you twain is
the first-born and which the youngest. In your faces there is little to
mark you one from the other. Griffeth, if thou wilt be willing to be
called Wendot-- if Wendot will consent to be Griffeth -- then we may
perchance make his way plain to depart and live in liberty once more;
for it is Wendot, and not Griffeth, who has so roused my father's anger.
Griffeth he might easily consent to pardon; but Wendot he will keep as a
hostage in his own hands possibly for life itself."
Griffeth listened, and a strange look crept into his face. His cheek
flushed, and his breath came thick and fast. He knew Alphonso's motive
in suggesting this change of identity. The lads, so closely drawn
together in bonds of more than brotherly love, had not opened to each
other their innermost souls for nought. Alphonso knew that no freedom,
no liberty, would give to the true Griffeth any extension of his brief
span of life. His days were as assuredly numbered as those of the royal
lad himself, and life had ceased to have attractions for the pair, whose
spirits were almost on the wing, who had set their hopes and aspirations
higher than anything which earth could give, and whose chiefest wish now
was to remain together until death should call them home.
Griffeth's only trouble had been the thought of leaving his brother, and
it was when he had realized from Alphonso's words that the king was
deeply offended with Wendot, and that it was almost hopeless to think of
his obtaining his liberty again, that the heart of the lad sank in
despondency and sorrow.
For one of the young eagles of Dynevor thus to be caged -- to be left to
pine away in hopeless captivity, his brother gone from him as well as
the prince who would stand his friend; possibly incarcerated at last in
some dreary fortress, there to linger out his days in hopeless misery
and inaction -- the thought had been so terrible to Griffeth that there
had been moments when he had almost longed to hear that the leeches gave
up hope of saving his brother's life.
But Wendot was mending now; there was no doubt of ultimate recovery. He
would rise from his sickbed to find -- what? Griffeth had not dared to
ask himself this question before; but now a great hope possessed him
suddenly. He looked into Alphonso's eyes, and the two instantly
understood one another; as did also Gertrude and Joanna, who stood by
flushed and quivering.
"Let it be so," said Griffeth, in a voice which trembled a little,
although the words were firm and emphatic. "I take the name the king has
given me. I am Wendot, whom he believes the traitor and the foe.
Griffeth lies yonder, sick and helpless, a victim to the influence of
the first-born son of Res Vychan. It may be, when the king hears more of
him, he will in his clemency release and pardon him.
"Ah, if I could but be the means of saving my brother -- the brother
dearer to me than life -- from the fate which others have brought upon
him, that I could lay down my life without a wish ungratified! It has
been the only thought of bitterness in my cup that I must leave him
alone -- and a prisoner."
Gertrude's face had flushed a deep red; she put out her hand and clasped
that of Griffeth hard; there was a little sob in her voice as she said:
"Oh, if you will but save him -- if you will but save him!"
Griffeth looked into her sweet face, with its sensitive features and
soft eyes shining through a mist of tears, and he understood something
which had hitherto been a puzzle to him.
There had been days when the intermittent fever from which Wendot
suffered left him entirely for hours together, sometimes for a whole
day; and Griffeth had been sure that on some of these days, in the hours
of his own attendance on the prince, his brother had received visits
from others in the castle: for flowers had appeared to brighten the sick
room, and there had been a wonderful new look of happiness in the
patient's eyes, although he had said nothing to his brother as to what
had befallen him.
And in truth Wendot was half disposed to believe himself the victim of
some sweet hallucination, and was almost afraid to speak of the fancies
that floated from time to time before his eyes, lest he should be told
that his mind was wandering, and that he was the victim of delusion.
Not once alone, but many times, during the hours of his tardy
convalescence, when he had been lying alone, crushed by the sense of
weariness and oppression which illness brings to one so little
accustomed to it, he had been roused by the sound of light footfalls in
his room; he had seen a graceful form flitting about, bringing lightness
and beauty in her wake, and leaving it behind when she left. The vision
of a sweet, small face, and the lustrous dark eyes which had haunted him
at intervals through the long years of his young manhood, appeared again
before him, and sometimes his name was spoken in the gentle tones which
had never been forgotten, although the memory was growing dim.
Weak and dazed and feeble, both in body and mind, from the exhausting
and wasting illness that had followed the severe winter's campaign,
Wendot knew not if this vision was but the figment of his own brain, or
whether the passionate love he felt rising up in his heart was lavished
upon a mere phantom. But so long as she flitted about him he was content
to lie and watch her, with the light of a great happiness in his eyes;
and once when he had called her name -- the never forgotten name of
Gertrude -- he had thought that she had come and taken his hand and had
bent over him with a wonderful light in her eyes, but the very effort he
made to rise up and grasp her hands, and learn if indeed it were a
creature of flesh and blood, had resulted in a lapse back into
unconsciousness, and he was silent as to the vision even to Griffeth,
lest perchance he should have to learn that it was but a fevered dream,
and that there was no Gertrude within the castle walls at all.
But Gertrude knew all; it was no dream to her. She saw the love light in
the eyes dearest to her in the world. She had heard her name called; she
had seen that the love she had cherished for the hero of her childhood
had not been cherished in vain. Perhaps Wendot had betrayed more in his
sickness and weakness than he would have allowed himself to do in his
strength, knowing himself a helpless, landless prisoner in the hands of
the stern monarch who occupied England's throne. But be that as it may,
Gertrude had read his secret and was happy, though with such a chastened
happiness as alone was possible to one who knew the peril in which her
lover lay, and how hopeless even Alphonso thought it to obtain for him
the king's pardon.
"My father would have betrothed us as children," said Gertrude, her face
glowing, but her voice steady and soft, for why should she be ashamed of
the faithful love of a lifetime?
"When we saw each other again he would have plighted us, but for the
fear of what Llewelyn and Howel would do. But think you I love him less
for his love to his country? Think you that I have aught to reproach him
with, when I know how he was forced into rebellion by others? I care not
what he has done. I love him, and I know that he loves me. Sooner would
I share a prison with him than a palace with any man beside; yet I fear
that in prison walls he will pine and die, even as a caged eagle, and it
is that fear which breaks my heart.
"O Griffeth, Griffeth, if you can save him, how we will bless you from,
our hearts! Give him to me, and I will guard and cherish him. I have
wealth and lands for us both. Only his liberty is lacking --"
"And that we will strive to compass yet," said Alphonso gently. "Fear
not, sweet Gertrude, and betray not thyself. Only remember from this
time forward that Wendot is my friend and companion here, and that thy
lover Griffeth lieth in yon chamber, sick and stricken."
"I will remember," she answered resolutely; and so the change of
identity was accomplished, with the result that the old chroniclers aver
that Wendot, eldest son of Res Vychan, died in the king's prison in
England, whilst all that is known of the fate of Griffeth is that he was
with his brother in captivity in England in the year 1283, after which
his name completely disappears, and no more is known of him, good or bad.
That night there were commotion and distress in Carnarvon Castle, for
the young Alphonso broke a blood vessel in a violent fit of coughing,
and for some hours his life was in the utmost danger.
The skill of the leeches, however, combined with the tender care of his
mother and sisters, averted for a time fatal consequences, and in a few
days the prince was reported to be out of immediate danger. But the
doctors all agreed that it would not be wise for him to remain longer in
the colder air of north Wales, and advised an immediate removal to
Windsor, where more comforts could be obtained, and where the climate
was milder and more genial.
Edward's work in Wales was done. The country was quiet, and he had no
longer any fear of serious rebellion. The first thought in his mind was
the precarious condition of his son, and immediate steps were taken to
convey the invalid southward by slow and gentle stages.
A horse litter was prepared for him, and by his own special request this
easy conveyance was shared by him with the two Welsh youths, to whom, as
his father and mother thought, he had taken one of those strange sick
fancies not uncommon to those in his state of health.
Wendot, as he called the younger brother, had been his most devoted
nurse during the days of peril, and his quick understanding of the
unspoken wishes of the prince had evoked a real and true gratitude from
the royal parents.
The real Wendot was by this time so far recovered as to be able to bear
the journey, and illness had so wasted him that he looked no older than
Griffeth; and though still perplexed at being called Griffeth, and by no
means understanding his brother's earnest request that he would continue
to answer to the name, he was too weak to trouble his head much about
the matter; and the two Welsh brothers were regarded by the English
attendants as too insignificant to be worthy of much notice. The
prince's freak to have them as travelling-companions was humoured by his
parents' wish; but they little knew how much he was wrapped up in the
brothers, nor how completely his heart was set upon seeing the
accomplishment of his plan before he died.
Alphonso had all his senses about him, and the wistful look on
Griffeth's face, as the mountains of his beloved Wales grew dim in the
distance, was not lost upon him. Wendot was sleeping restlessly in the
litter, and Alphonso stretched out his hand, and laid it gently upon
"Art regretting that thou leavest all for me?" he asked gently; and the
answer was such a look of love as went to his very heart.
"Nay; I would leave far more than that for thee, sweet prince, but it is
my last look at home. I shall see these grand, wild hills no more."
"No, nor yet I," answered the prince, his own eyes growing somewhat dim;
"and I, too, have loved them well, though not as thou lovest, my friend.
But be content; there are fairer things, sweeter scenes than even these,
in store for us somewhere. Shall we repine at leaving the beauties of
earth, when the pearly gates of Paradise are opening before our very eyes?
"O Griffeth, it is a wondrous thought how soon we may be soaring above
the very stars! And methinks it may well be given to thee to wing thy
way to thine own home for one last look ere thou departest for the holy
land whence we can never wish to return."
Griffeth gave him a bright, eager look.
"I will think that myself -- I will believe it. This is not my last
CHAPTER XII. A STRANGE BRIDAL.
"My prince, tempt me not. It is hard to refuse; but there are some
things no man may do with honour, and, believe me, honour is dearer to
me than life, dearer even than liberty; though Heaven alone knows how
dear that is to every free-born son of Cambria. I to leave my brother to
wear away his days in captivity whilst I escape under his name! Prince
Alphonso, I know not what you think my heart is made of. Am I to live in
freedom, whilst he whom I love best in the world bears the burden of my
fault, and lingers out his young life within the walls of the king's
Alphonso looked searchingly in Wendot's face, and realized for the first
time the youth's absolute ignorance of his brother's state. No wonder he
refused with scorn the proffered boon! Yet it would be a hard task to
break the sad tidings to one who so deeply loved his gentle younger
brother, from childhood his chosen comrade.
Alphonso was lying on a couch in one of the smaller state apartments of
Windsor Castle, and the window, close to which he had bidden his
attendants wheel him, overlooked the beautiful valley of the Thames. The
first of the autumn tints were gilding the rich stretches of woodland,
whilst a faint blue haze hung over the distance, and the river ran like
a silver thread, glinting here and there into golden brightness as some
brighter ray of sunlight fell upon it.
Alphonso loved the view commanded by this window. He and Griffeth spent
many long happy hours here, looking out on the fair prospect, and
exchanging whispered thoughts and bright aspirations with regard to some
land even fairer than the one they now beheld.
But Wendot never looked at the beautiful valley without experiencing a
strange oppression of spirit. It reminded him of that wilder valley of
the Towy, and his eyes would grow dim and his heart sick with the
fruitless longing after home, which grew harder and harder to hear with
every week of captivity, now that his bodily health was restored.
Captivity was telling upon him, and he was pining as an eagle pines when
caught and shut up by man even in a gilded cage. He looked pale and wan
and wistful. Often he felt stifled by the warm, close air of the valley,
and felt that he must die did he not escape to the freer air of the
But he seldom spoke of these feelings even to Griffeth, and strangely
enough his illness and these homesick longings produced upon his outer
man an effect which was wonderfully favourable to the plan fermenting in
the brains of the royal children and their immediate companions.
Wendot had lost the sturdiness of figure, the brown colouring, and the
strength of limb which had distinguished him in old days from Griffeth.
A striking likeness had always existed between the brothers, whose
features were almost identical, and whose height and contours were the
same. Now that illness had sharpened the outlines of Wendot's face, had
reduced his fine proportions, and had given to him something of the
hollow-eyed wistfulness of expression which Griffeth had so long worn,
this likeness became so remarkable that few in the castle knew one
brother from the other. Knowing this, they both answered indifferently
to the name of either, and any change of personality would be managed
without exciting the smallest fear of remark.
Wendot had been perplexed at times by the persistence with which he had
been addressed as Griffeth, even when he was certain that the speaker
was one of the few who knew him and his brother apart; but he had not
troubled his head much over the matter until this day, when Alphonso had
openly spoken to him of the plan that was in their minds, and had bidden
him prepare for a secret flight from the castle, promising that there
should be no ardent search after him, as Wendot, and not Griffeth, was
the culprit who had fallen under the royal displeasure, and the king
would care little for the escape of the younger brother so long as he
held the ex-Lord of Dynevor in his own safe keeping.
Wendot's indignant refusal to leave his brother and make good his own
escape showed Alphonso how little he realized Griffeth's condition, and
with gentle sympathy, but with candour and frankness, he explained to
the elder brother how short would be the period of Griffeth's captivity
-- how soon and how complete the release for which he was patiently and
Wendot gave a great start as the meaning of Alphonso's words first broke
upon him, and then he buried his face in his hands, and sat motionless,
neither answering nor moving. Alphonso looked at him, and by-and-by put
out his own wasted hand and laid it upon Wendot's knee.
"Does it seem a sad thing to thee, Wendot? Believe me, there is no
sadness for Griffeth in the thought. Nay, is it not a blessed thing to
know that soon, very soon, we shall be free of this weary burden of pain
and sickness and weakness, and laying all aside will pass away to the
land of which the seer of old foretold that 'the wicked cease from
troubling, and the weary are at rest.' Thou knowest not, perhaps, the
sweetness of those words, but I know it well, and Griffeth likewise.
"Nay, Wendot, thou must learn not to grudge him the rest and the bliss
of yon bright land. In this world he could look for nothing save wearing
weakness and lingering pain. Thou shouldst be glad that the fiat has
gone forth, and that the end may not be far off -- the end of trouble
and sorrow; for of the glory that shall follow there shall be no end."
But Wendot broke in hoarsely and impetuously.
"If he must die, let him at least die in freedom, with the old hills
around him; let him be laid to rest beneath their shadow. You say that
he might well escape; that no cry would be made after him so long as I
were in the king's safe keeping. Let him then fly. Let him fly to
Llewelyn and Arthyn. They will give him tendance and a home. He shall
not die in prison, away from all that he holds dear. I cannot brook the
"Nay, Wendot," answered Alphonso with a kindling smile, "thou needest
not grieve for thy brother because that he is here. Ask him -- take it
not from my lips; but I will tell thee this, that where thou art and
where I am is the place where Griffeth would fain end his days. Ah! thou
canst not understand, good youth, how when the great and wonderful call
comes for the human soul, how lightly press the fetters of the flesh;
how small these things of time and place appear that erst have been of
such moment. Griffeth and I are treading the same path at the same time,
and I think not even the offer of a free pardon and unfettered liberty
would draw him from my side.
"Moreover, Wendot, he could not take the journey of which thou speakest.
The keen autumn air, which will give thee strength and vigour, would but
lay him low on the bed from which he would never rise. His heart is here
with me. Think not that thou art wronging him in taking his name. The
one load lying now upon his heart is the thought that he is leaving thee
in captivity. Let him but know that thou art free -- that he has been
thy helper in thy flight -- and he will have nought left to wish for in
this world. His soul will be at peace."
Wendot rose and paced through the chamber, and then returned to the side
of the prince. His face betrayed many conflicting emotions. He spoke
with bitterness and impetuosity.
"And what good is life to me if I take you at your word and fly this
spot? Have I not lost all that makes life worth living? My lands given
to my traitorous kinsman; the brother who has been more to me than life
lying in a foreign grave. What use is life to one so lonely and bereft?
Where should I fly? what should I do? I have never lived alone. I have
always had another to live for and to love. Methinks death would be the
better thing than such a loveless life."
"And why should thy life be loveless, Wendot?" asked Alphonso, with
kindling eyes and a brightening smile. "Dost not thou know? -- does not
thine own heart tell thee that one faithful heart beats for thee and
thee alone? Have I not seen thee with her times and again? Have not your
eyes told eloquent secrets -- though I know not what your lips have said --"
Wendot's face was all in a glow, but he broke in hastily:
"Prince, prince, speak not of her. If I have been beguiled, if I have
betrayed the feelings which I cannot help, but which I must hold sternly
in check -- be not thou the one to taunt me with my weakness. There is
none like her in the world. I have known it for long. But even because I
know it so well I may not even dream of her. It is not with me as of
old, when her father spoke to me of troth plight. I am a beggar, an
outcast, a prisoner. She is rich, honoured, courted. She is the
brightest star of the court --"
"And she loveth thee, Wendot," interposed Alphonso firmly. "She has
loved thee from childhood with a faithful and true love which merits
better things than to be cast aside as if it were but dross. What are
lands and gold to a woman if her lover share them not? Is it meet that
she should suffer so cruelly simply because her father has left her well
endowed? Wendot, on Lord Montacute's dying bed this daughter of his
avowed her love for thee, and he gave her his blessing and bade her act
as she would. Art thou, then, to be the one to break her heart, ay, and
thine own, too, because thou art too proud to take more than thou canst
"Fie, man! the world is wide and thou art young. Thou hast time to win
thy spurs and bring home noble spoil to lay at thy lady's feet. Only let
not pride stand in the way of her happiness and thine own. Thou hast
said that life is dark and drear unless it be shared with some loved
one. Then how canst thou hold back, when thou hast confessed thine own
love and learned that hers is thine? Take it, and be grateful for the
treasure thou hast won, and fear not but that thou wilt bring as much as
thou wilt receive. There are strange chances in the fate of each one of
us. Who knows but that thou and she will not yet reign again in the
halls of Dynevor?"
Wendot started and flushed, and again paced down the whole length of the
room. When he returned to the window Alphonso had gone, and in his place
stood Gertrude herself, her sweet face dyed rosy red with blushes, her
hands half stretched out towards him, her lips quivering with the
intensity of her emotion.
He paused just one moment looking at her, and then holding out his arms,
Next moment she was clasped in his close embrace, and was shedding happy
tears upon his shoulder.
"Oh!" said Gertrude at last, in a soft whisper, "it was worth waiting
for this. I never thought I could have been so happy."
"Joanna -- Alphonso, it is all settled. He will leave the castle with
me. He will help me now in the care of my lands. But he will not move
whilst Griffeth lives. And I think he is right. They have so loved each
other, and he will not leave his brother to die amongst strangers in
"It is like him," said Joanna eagerly. "Gertrude, thou hast found a very
proper knight, as we told thee from the first, when he was but a lad,
and held the Eagle's Crag against a score of men. But ye must be wedded
soon, that there be no delay when once the poor boy be gone. Every day
he looks more shadowy and frail. Methinks that our softer air ill suits
him, for he hath dwindled to a mere shadow since he came. You will not
have to wait long."
"Joanna speaks the truth," said Alphonso, half sadly, half smilingly.
"He will not be with us long. But it is very true that this marriage
must be privately celebrated, and that without delay, that when the day
comes when 'Griffeth' flies from the castle, he and his wife may go
"Ay, and my chaplain will make them man and wife, and breathe not a word
to any man," cried Joanna, who, now that she was older, had her own
retinue of servants, equal in number to those of her sister, by whom she
was dearly loved for her generosity and frankness, so that she could
always command ready and willing obedience to any expressed wish of hers.
"You think he will? O Joanna, when shall it be?"
"It shall be at midnight in the chapel," said the girl, with the prompt
decision which characterized her. "Not tonight, but three nights from
this. Leave all things in my hands, sweet Gertrude; I will see that
nought is lacking to bind thee lawfully to thy lord. My chaplain is a
good and holy man from the west country. He loveth those poor Welsh who
are prisoners here, and spends much of his time in ministering to them.
He loves thy future lord and his dying brother, and he knows somewhat of
our plan, for I have revealed it in the confessional, and he has not
chided me for it.
"Oh, I can answer for him. He will be glad that thou shouldst find so
proper a knight; and he is kind of heart, and stanch to my service. Fear
not, sweet Gertrude: ere three days have gone by thou shalt be a wedded
wife; and when the time comes thou mayest steal away with him thy
plighted lord, and trust thy sister Joanna to make thy peace with the
king, if he be in any way angered or grieved."
Gertrude threw herself into Joanna's arms and kissed her a hundred
times; and Joanna laughed, and said she deserved much credit for
plotting to rid herself of her dearest friend, but was none the less
loyal to the cause because Gertrude's gain would be her loss.
So there came a strange night, never to be forgotten by those who
witnessed the proceedings, when Wendot ap Res Vychan and the Lady
Gertrude Cherleton stood at midnight before the altar in the small
private chapel of the castle, whilst the chaplain of the Princess
Joanna's private suite made them man and wife according to the law of
the Church. And of the few spectators who witnessed the ceremony two
were of royal blood -- Alphonso and Joanna -- and beside them were only
one or two attendants, sworn to secrecy, and in full sympathy with the
youthful lovers thus plighting their troth and being united in wedlock
at one and the same time.
Griffeth was not of the number who was present to witness this ceremony.
He was unable to rise from his bed, a sudden access of illness having
overtaken him, possibly as the result of the excitement of hearing what
was about to take place.
When the solemn words had been spoken, and the bride was led away by her
proud and happy spouse -- happy even in the midst of so much peril and
sorrow in the thought of the treasure he had won -- she paused at the
door of her apartments, whither he would have left her (for so long as
they remained within the walls of the castle they would observe the same
manner of life as before), and glancing into his face said softly:
"May I not go with thee to tell the news to Griffeth?"
"Ay, well bethought," said Alphonso, who was leaning on Wendot's other
arm, the distance through the long passages being somewhat fatiguing to
him. "Let us go and show to him thy wife. None will rejoice more than he
to know that she is thine in very truth, and that none can take her from
Griffeth's room was nigh at hand, and thither Wendot led his bride. A
taper was burning beside the bed, and the sick youth lay propped up with
pillows, his breath coming in laboured gasps, though his eyes were
bright and full of comprehension as Wendot led the slim, white-robed
figure to his side.
But the elder brother was startled at the change he saw in his patient
since he had left him last. There was something in his look that struck
chill upon his heart. He came forward and took the feeble hand in his.
It was deadly cold, and the unearthly radiance upon the lad's face was
as significant in its own way. Had not their mother looked at them with
just such a smile when she had slipped away into another world, whilst
they were trying to persuade themselves that she was better?
"My sister Gertrude," whispered Griffeth. "Oh, I am so happy! You will
be good to him -- you will comfort him.
"Wendot -- Gertrude --" he made a faint effort, and joined their hands
together; and then, as if his last earthly task was accomplished, he
seemed to look right on beyond them, whilst a strange expression of awe
and wonder shone from his closing eyes.
"Howel," he whispered -- "father -- mother -- oh, I am coming! Take me
Then the head fell backwards, the light vanished from the eyes, the cold
hand fell nervelessly from Wendot's grasp, and they knew that Griffeth
was the king's prisoner no longer.
Three days later the Lady Gertrude Cherleton said farewell to her royal
companions, and started forth for her own estates in Derbyshire, which
she had purposed for some time to visit. Perhaps had the minds of those
in the castle been free to wonder at anything so trivial as the
movements of the young heiress, they would have felt surprise at her
selecting this time to betake herself to a solitary and independent
existence, away from all her friends and playmates; but the mortal
illness of the Prince Alphonso occupied the whole attention of the
castle. The remains of the so-called Wendot, late of Dynevor, had been
laid to rest with little ceremony and no pomp, and the very existence of
the other brother was almost forgotten in the general dismay and grief
which permeated through all ranks of people both within and without the
The lady had a small but sufficient retinue; but it was considered
rather strange that she should not start until the dusk had begun to
gather round the castle, so that the confusion of the start was a good
deal increased from the darkness which was stealing upon the place. Had
there been much time or attention free, it might have been noted by a
keen observer that Lady Gertrude had added to her personal attendants
one who looked like a tall and stout woman, though her hood was so
closely drawn that her face was seen by none of the warders, who,
however, let her pass unchallenged: for she rode beside her mistress,
and was evidently in the position of a trusted companion; for the lady
was speaking to her as they passed out through the gate, and there could
certainly be no reason for offering any obstruction to any servant of hers.
If there were any fear or excitement in Gertrude's breast as she and her
husband passed out of the gate and rode quickly along the path which led
through the town, she did not betray it by look or gesture. Her
eagerness was mainly showed by a desire to push on northward as fast as
possible, and the light of a full harvest moon made travelling almost as
easy as by day. On they rode, by sleeping hamlets and dreaming pastures,
until the lights of Windsor lay twinkling in the dim, hazy distance
Then Gertrude suddenly threw back her hood, and leaning towards her
companion -- they two had outridden their followers some time before --
cried in a strange, tense voice:
"O Wendot husband, thou art free! Tomorrow will see us safe within those
halls of which thou art rightful lord. Captivity, trouble, peril is at
an end. Nothing can greatly hurt us now, for are we not one in bonds
that no man may dissever?"
"My noble, true-hearted wife," said Wendot, in accents of intense
feeling; and then he leaned forward and kissed her in the whispering
wood, and they rode forward through the glades of silvery moonlight
towards the new life that was awaiting them beyond.
"Hills, wild rocks, woods, and water!" cried Wendot, with a sudden
kindling gleam in his eyes. "O Gertrude, thou didst not tell me the
half! I never guessed that England had aught so like home as this. Truly
it might be Dynevor itself -- that brawling torrent, those craggy fells,
and these gray stone walls. And to be free -- free to breathe the fresh
wind, to go where the fancy prompts, to be loosed from all control save
the sweet bonds that thou boldest me in, dearest! Ah, my wife, thou
knowest not what thou hast done for me. How shall I thank thee for the
"Why, by being thine old self again, Vychan," said Gertrude, who was
standing by her husband's side on a natural terrace of rock above the
Hall which was to be their home. She had brought him out early in the
morning to see the sun rise upon their home, and the rapture of his
face, the passionate joy she saw written there, was more than she had
"Thou hast grown old and worn of late, too saddened, too grave for thy
years. Thou must grow young again, and be the bright-faced youth to whom
I gave my heart. Thy youth is not left so far behind but what thou canst
recall it ere it be too late."
"In sooth I shall grow young again here, sweetheart," quoth Wendot, or
Vychan, as we must call him now. He had an equal right to that name with
his father, though for convenience he had always been addressed by the
other; and now that Lady Gertrude had brought her husband home, he was
to be known as Res Vychan, one of the descendants of the last princes of
South Wales, who had taken his wife's name also, as he was now the ruler
of her land; so, according to the fashion of the English people, he
would henceforth be known as Vychan Cherleton. His brother's name he
could not bear to hear applied to himself, and it was left to Joanna to
explain matters to the king and queen when the chance should arrive.
None else need ever know that the husband of the Lady Gertrude had ever
been a captive of Edward's; and the name of Griffeth ap Res Vychan
disappears from the ken of the chroniclers as if it had never been known
that he was once a prisoner in England.
There was no pursuit made after the missing Welshman. The king and queen
had other matters to think of, and the fondness of their son for the
youth would have been protection enough even if he had not begged with
his dying breath that his father would forgive and forget. Lady Gertrude
and her husband did not come to court for very many years; and by the
time they did so, Vychan Cherleton's loyalty and service to the English
cause were too well established for any one to raise a question as to
his birth or race.
If the king and queen ever knew they had been outwitted by their
children, they did not resent that this had been so, nor that an act of
mercy had been contrived greater than they might have felt justified in
But all this was yet in the future. As Vychan and his wife stood on that
high plateau overlooking the fair valley of the Derwent, it seemed to
Gertrude as though during the past three days her husband had undergone
some subtle change. There was a new light in his eyes; his frame had
lost its drooping air of languor; he had stood the long days of rough
riding without the smallest fatigue. It really seemed as if the old
Wendot had come back again, and she smilingly asked him how it was that
he had gained such strength in so short a time.
"Ah, that question is soon answered, sweet wife. It is freedom that is
the elixir of life to us sons of Cambria. I know not if your
English-born men can brook the sense of fetter and constraint, but it is
death to us.
"Let us not think of it more. That page has closed for ever; and never
shall it reopen, for sooner will I die than fall alive into the hands of
a foe. Nay, sweetest Gertrude, look not so reproachfully at me. Thou
shalt soon see that I mean not to die, but to live for thee. Here in
this fair, free spot we begin our new life together. It may be even yet
-- for see, is not that bright sky, illumined by those quivering shafts
of light athwart our path, an omen of good? -- that as thou showest me
this fair spot with which thou hast endowed me, I may one day show thee
again and endow thee with the broad lands of Dynevor."
CHAPTER XIII. THE NEW LORD OF DYNEVOR.
"Vychan, Vychan, the hour has come! That false traitor Sir Res has risen
in revolt against England's king. Loyal men are called upon to put down
the rebellion, and such as do so will be rewarded with the lands reft
from the traitor. Vychan, Vychan, lose not a moment; arm and take the
men, and fly to Dynevor! Now is the time to strike the blow! And I will
to Edward's court, to plead with him for the lands and castle of Dynevor
as my husband's guerdon for his services. O Vychan, Vychan, have not I
always said that thou shouldest live to call thyself Lord of Dynevor again?"
Gertrude came flying to her husband with these words, looking scarce
less young and certainly none less bright and happy than she had done
four years back, when she and her husband had first stood within the
walls of her ancestral home. A beautiful, sturdy boy hung upon her hand,
keeping pace gallantly even with her flying steps, and the joy of
motherhood had given something of added lustre to the soft beauty of her
dark eyes; otherwise she was scarce changed from the Gertrude of past
days. As for Vychan, he still retained the eagle glance, the almost
boyish freshness of colouring, and the soldier-like bearing which
distinguished his race, and the gold of his hair had not tarnished or
faded, though he had developed from the youth to the man, and was a
noble specimen of manhood in the zenith of its strength and beauty.
Rising hastily at his wife's approach, he gazed at her with parted lips
and glowing eyes, whilst she once more told him the news, brought by a
special messenger from the Princess Joanna, brought thus, as both knew,
with a special meaning which they well understood. Four years of
peaceful prosperity in England had in no whit weakened Vychan's love for
his own land or blunted the soldier-like instincts of his race. There
was something of the light of battle and of conquest in his eye as he
gazed at his wife, and his voice rang out clear and trumpet-like as he
gathered the sense of the message she brought.
"Take up arms against that false traitor-kinsman of mine? ay, verily,
that I will. False first to his kindred and his country, then false to
the king who has trusted and rewarded him so nobly. Res ap Meredith,
methinks thine hour is come! Thou didst plot and contrive to wrest from
me the fair lands my father bequeathed me; but I trow the day has dawned
when the false lord shall be cast forth, even as he has cast forth
others, and when there shall be a lord of the old race ruling at
Dynevor, albeit he rule beneath a new name."
"Heaven grant it may be so!" cried Gertrude, the tears of excitement
sparkling in her eyes; whilst little Griffeth, catching some of the
sense of his father's words, and understanding with the quick instinct
of childhood that there was something unwonted going on, shook his
little fist in the air, and cried:
"Dynevor, Dynevor! me fight for Dynevor, too."
The father picked up his son and held him in a close embrace.
"Ay, Griffeth, my man, thou shalt reign at Dynevor one of these days,
please God to give us victory over false friends and traitorous allies."
And even as the parents stood looking smilingly at the brave child, the
blast from the warder's trumpet gave notice that strangers were
approaching the Hall; and hurrying to the entrance gate to be ready to
receive the guests, Vychan and his wife beheld a little troop of
horsemen winding their way up the valley, headed by a pair who appeared
to be man and wife, and to hold some exalted position, for the trappings
of their steeds and the richness of their own dress marked them as of no
Visitors were sufficiently rare at this lonely place for this sight to
cause some stir in the Hall; and Gertrude, shading her eyes with her
hand, gazed eagerly at the two figures in advance. Suddenly she gave a
little cry of rapture, and bounded forward through the gateway.
"It is Arthyn -- Arthyn and Llewelyn! Vychan, thy brother and his wife
are here. Oh, they have come to bid thee to the fray! They bring
tidings, and are come to summon thee to the fight.
"Arthyn, sweetest sister, ten thousand welcomes to our home! Nay, I can
scarce believe this is not a dream. How I have longed to see thee here!"
Vychan was at his brother's side, as Arthyn, flinging herself from her
saddle, flew into Gertrude's arms. For some moments nothing could be
distinguished but the glad clamour of welcome, and scarce had that
subsided before it recommenced in the eager salutations of the Welsh
retainers, who saw in Vychan another of the sons of their well-loved
Lord, Res Vychan, the former Lord of Dynevor and Iscennen, whose wise
and merciful rule had never been forgotten.
Vychan was touched, indeed, to see how well he was remembered, and the
sound of the familiar tongue sent thrills of strange emotion through
him. It was some time before he could free himself from the throng of
servants who pressed round him; and when he could do so he followed his
wife and guests into the banqueting hall, where the noonday repast was
spread, giving charge to his seneschal for the hospitable entertainment
of the retinue his brother had brought and their lodgment within the
walls of the Hall.
When he reached the inner hall he found the servants spreading the best
viands of the house upon the table; whilst Gertrude, Arthyn, and
Llewelyn were gathered together in the embrasure of a window in eager
discussion. Gertrude broke away and came quickly towards him, her face
deeply flushed and her eyes very bright.
"Vychan, it is even as we have heard. That false traitor is in open
revolt, and he has been even more false than we knew. What think you of
this? -- he professed to be sorry for his revolt, and sent a letter of
urgent pleading to Llewelyn and Arthyn begging them to use their
influence with the king to obtain his pardon. Believing him to be
sincere, Llewelyn set out for England not more than two short weeks
back, taking with him, on account of the unsettled state of the country,
the pick of the men from Carregcennen. And when this double-dyed traitor
knows that Arthyn is alone and unprotected in the castle, what does he
do but send a strong band of his soldiers, himself at their head, who
obtain entrance by the subterranean passage, slay the guard, and take
possession of the fortress. Arthyn has but bare time to escape with a
handful of men, and by hard riding to join her husband on the road to
"So now have they turned aside to tell the tale to us, and to summon
thee to come with thy men and fight in the king's quarrel against this
wicked man. And whilst ye lead your soldiers into Wales, Arthyn and I
will to the court, to lay the story before the royal Edward, and to gain
from him the full and free grants of the castles of Dynevor and
Carregcennen for our husbands, who have responded to his call, and have
flown to wrest from the traitor the possession he has so unrighteously
"Thy wife speaketh wise words, Vychan," said Llewelyn, whose dark brows
wore a threatening look, and who had the appearance of a man deeply
stirred to wrath, as indeed he well might be; "and it were well that we
lost no time in dallying here. How many men canst thou summon to thy
banner, and when can we be on the march for the south? The Earl of
Cornwall has been called upon to quell this revolt, and he has summoned
to his aid all loyal subjects of the king who hold dear the peace and
prosperity of their land.
"The days are gone by in which I should despise that call and join the
standard of revolt. The experience of the past has taught me that in the
English alliance is Wales's only hope of tranquillity and true
independence and civilization. When such men as this Res ap Meredith
break into revolt against Edward, it is time for us to rally round his
standard. What would our lives, our lands, our liberties be worth were
such a double-distilled traitor as he transformed into a prince, as is
his fond ambition?"
"True, Llewelyn, true. The race of kings has vanished from Wales, and
methinks there is no humiliation in owning as sovereign lord the
lion-hearted King of England. Moreover, has he not given us a prince of
our own, born upon Welsh soil, sprung of a kingly race? We will rally
round the standard of father and son, and trust that in the future a
brighter day will dawn for our long-distracted country."
So forthwith there sped messengers through the wild valleys and wilder
fells of Derbyshire, and many a sturdy son of the mountains came gladly
and willingly at the call of the feudal lord whose wise and kindly rule
had made him greatly beloved. The fighting instinct of the age and of
the race was speedily aroused by this call to arms, and the surrounding
gentlemen and yeomen of the county likewise pressed their services upon
Vychan, glad to be able to strike a blow to uphold the authority of a
king whose wise and brave rule had already made him the idol of the nation.
It was a goodly sight to see the brothers of Dynevor (as their wives
could not but call them once again) ride forth at the head of this
well-equipped following. Llewelyn marvelled at the discipline displayed
by the recruits -- a discipline decidedly in advance of anything his own
ruder followers could boast. But Welsh and English for once were in
brotherly accord, and rode shoulder to shoulder in all good fellowship;
and the English knew that their ruder comrades from Cambria, if less
well trained and drilled, would be able to show them a lesson in fierce
and desperate fighting, to which they were far more inured than their
more peaceable neighbours from the sister country.
And fighting there was for all; but the struggle, if fierce, was brief.
Sir Res was a coward at heart, as it is the wont of a traitor to be, and
finding himself opposed by foes as relentless and energetic as Vychan
and Llewelyn, he was speedily driven from fortress to fortress, till at
length he was forced to surrender himself a prisoner to the Earl of
Gloucester; who, out of kindness to his wife, Auda de Hastings, connived
at his escape to Ireland.
There he lived in seclusion for some time; but the spirit of rebellion
was still alive within him, and two years later he returned to Wales,
and succeeded in collecting an army of four thousand turbulent spirits
about him, at the head of which force he fought a pitched battle with
the king's justiciary, Robert de Tibetot. His army was cut to pieces. He
was taken prisoner himself, and met a cruel death at York as the reward
of his many acts of treasonable rebellion.
But the halls of Dynevor saw him no more from the moment when Res
Vychan, with a swelling heart, first drove him forth, and planted his
own foot once again upon the soil dearer to him than any other spot on
earth. As he stood upon the familiar terrace, looking over the wide,
fair valley of the Towy, his heart swelled with thankfulness and joy;
and if a slow, unwonted tear found its way to his eye, it was scarce a
tear of sorrow, for he felt assured that his brother Griffeth was
sharing in the joy of this restoration to the old home, and that his
loving and gentle spirit was not very far from him at this supreme hour
of his life.
"Father, father, father!"
Vychan turned with a start at the sound of the joyous call, and the next
moment was clasping wife and son to his breast.
"Sweetheart! come so quickly? How couldst thou?"
"Ay, Vychan, love hath ever wings, and neither I nor Arthyn could keep
away, our business at the court once accomplished. Vychan, husband, thou
standest here Lord of Dynevor in thine own right. Thou hast won back
thine ancestral home, the boy's inheritance.
"Seest thou this deed? Knowest thou the king's seal? Take it, for it
secureth all to thee under thy name of Vychan Cherleton. And if in times
to come those who come after know not that it was the son of Res Vychan
who thus reclaimed his patrimony, and if our worthy chroniclers set down
that Dynevor and its lands passed to the keeping of the English, what
matters it? We know the truth, and those who have loved thee and thy
father know who thou art and whence thou hast come. Let that be
sufficient for thee and for me.
"Griffeth, little son, kiss thy father, and bid him welcome to his own
halls again -- the halls of Dynevor."
Vychan could not speak. He pressed one passionate kiss upon the lips of
his wife, and another upon the brow of his noble boy, who looked every
inch a Dynevor, with the true Dynevor features, and the bold, fearless
mien so like his father's.
Then commanding himself by an effort, he opened the king's parchment and
quickly mastered its contents, after which he took his wife's hand and
held out the other to his son.
"My faithful fellows are mustering in the hall to bid me welcome once
more to Dynevor. Come, sweet wife; I must show to them their lady and
their future lord.
"Arthyn -- where is she? Has she gone on to Iscennen to meet Llewelyn
"Ay, verily: she was as hungry for him as I for thee; and she hath a
similar mandate for him regarding his rights to Carregcennen.
"O Vychan, dearest husband, I can scarce believe it is not all a dream."
Indeed, to Vychan it seemed almost as though he dreamed, as in the old
familiar hall he stood, a little raised from the crowd of armed
retainers upon the steps of the wide oak staircase, as he addressed to
them a speech eloquent with that thrilling eloquence which is the gift
of all who speak from the heart, and speak to hearts beating in deep and
true response. Vychan thanked all those who had so bravely fought for
him, explained to all assembled there his new position and his new name,
bid them not think him less a Welshman and a Dynevor because he bore his
wife's arms and called himself the servant of the English king, and held
up before their eyes the mandate of that English king confirming to him
the lands and halls of Dynevor.
A wild, ringing cheer broke from all who heard him as he thus proved to
their own satisfaction that the royal Edward was their best friend, and
as the new Lord of Dynevor held up his child for them to see, and to own
as future lord in the time-honoured fashion, such a shout went up from
the throats of all as made the vaulted roof ring again. Blades were
unsheathed and waved in wild enthusiasm, and Gertrude's dark eyes
glistened through a mist of proud and happy tears.
Suddenly from some dim recess in the old ball there issued a strain of
wild music -- the sound of a harp played by no unskilled hand; whilst
mingling with the twang of the strings was the voice of the ancient
bard, cracked through age, yet still retaining the old power and some of
the old sweetness. And harp and voice were raised alike in one of those
triumph songs that have ever been as the elixir of life to the strong,
rude, sensitive sons of wild Cambria.
"It is Wenwynwyn," quoth Vychan. "He is yet alive. I little thought to
see him more.
"Griffeth, boy, run to yon old man and bid him give thee his blessing,
and tell him that there is a son of Dynevor come back to rule as Lord of
Dynevor once again."
The story of the sons of Res Vychan is very intricate and difficult to
follow, owing to the lack of contemporaneous documents; but the main
facts of their story as related in the foregoing pages are true, though
a certain license has been taken for purposes of fiction.
They have been represented as somewhat younger than they were at the
time of these events, whilst the children of Edward the First have been
made some few years older than their true ages.
There is no actual historical warrant for the change of identity between
Wendot and Griffeth, and for the escape and reinstatement of the former
in the halls of Dynevor; but there are traditions which point to a
possibility that he did escape from prison, in spite of the affirmation
of the chroniclers, as there have been those who claim descent from him,
which they would hardly have done if such had not been the case, for
there is no record that he was married before he was taken prisoner to
The children of the English king were not really at Rhuddlan Castle in
1277, as represented here, as they were at that time too young to
accompany their father on his expeditions. If, however, they had been as
old as represented in these pages, there is little doubt they would have
accompanied him, as the monarch was a most affectionate father, and
loved to have wife and children about him.
Arthyn is a fictitious character; as is also Gertrude. There is no
record that any of the sons of Res Vychan married or left descendants,
except the tradition alluded to above.