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Книга The Black Arrow. Содержание - CHAPTER VII — DICK’S REVENGE

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“But did my Dick make love to you?” asked Joanna, clinging to her sweetheart’s side.

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

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

“Agreed,” cried Alicia; but Joanna only pressed upon Dick’s arm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How, sir?” asked Richard. “Have ye brought me Sir Daniel’s head?”

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

Gloucester looked upon him with a formidable frown.

“I gave you fifty lances, [3] sir,” he said.

“My lord duke, I had but fifty men-at-arms,” replied the young knight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Young knight,” interrupted Catesby.

“Say ye so, Sir William?” cried Lord Foxham.

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

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

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

“Victory, my lord,” he cried.

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


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

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

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

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

“Stand!” he cried. “Who goes?”

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

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

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

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

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



Technically, the term “lance” included a not quite certain number of foot soldiers attached to the man-at-arms.

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