Part 2 out of 4
Henry, however, as perhaps Sir Robert had foreseen, instead of
answering put his hand to his side, and sank back in a paroxysm of
pain, ending in another swoon. The child stood by, quiet and
frightened but too much used to similar occurrences to be as much
terrified as was Richard, who thought his brother dying; but calling
in the serving-brother, the old Hospitalier did all that was needed,
and the blind man presently recovered and explained in a feeble voice
that he had been jostled, thrown down, and trodden on, at the moment
when he lost his hold of his little daughter; and this was evidently
renewing his sufferings from the effect of an injury received in
battle. "And what took thee there, son?" said Sir Robert, somewhat
"The harvest, Father," answered Henry, rousing himself to speak with
a certain sarcasm in his tone. "It is the beggars' harvest wherever
King Henry goes. We brethren of the wallet cannot afford to miss
"A beggar!" exclaimed Richard in horror.
"And what art thou?" retorted Henry, with a sudden fierceness.
"Listen, young men," said Sir Robert, "this I know, my patient there
will soon be nothing if ye continue in this strain. A litter shall
bring him to the infirmary."
"Nay," said Henry hastily, "not so, good Father. Here I abide, hap
"And I abide with him," said Richard.
"Not so, I say," returned the Hospitalier, "unless thou wouldst slay
him outright. Return to the Spital with me; and at morn, if he have
recovered himself, unravel these riddles as thou and he will."
"It is well, Father," said Henry. "Go with him, Richard; but mark
me. Be silent as the grave, and see me again."
And reluctant as he was, Richard was forced to comply.
CHAPTER VI--THE BEGGAR EARL
"Along with the nobles that fell at that tyde,
His eldest son Henrye, who fought by his syde,
Was felde by a blow he receivde in the fight;
A blow that for ever deprivde him of sight."
The chapel at the Spital was open to all who chose to attend. The
deep choir was filled with the members of the Order, half a dozen
knights in the stalls, and the novices and serving-brothers so ranged
as to give full effect to the body of voice. Richard knelt on the
stone floor outside the choir, intending after early mass to seek his
brother; but to his surprise he found the blind man with his child at
his feet in what was evidently his accustomed place, just within the
door. His hair and beard were now arranged, his appearance was no
longer squalid; but when he rose to depart, guided in part by the
child, but also groping with a stick, he looked even more helpless
than on his bed, and Richard sprang forward to proffer an arm for his
"Flemish cloth and frieze gown," said the object of his solicitude in
a strange gibing voice; "court page and street beggar--how now, my
"Lord Earl and elder brother," returned Richard, "thine is my service
"Mine? Ho, ho! That much for thy service!" with a disdainful
gesture of his fingers. "A strapping lad like thee would be the ruin
of my trade. I might as well give up bag and staff at once."
"Nay, surely, wilt thou not?" exclaimed Richard in broken words from
his extreme surprise. "The King and Prince only long to pardon and
"And thou wouldst well like to lord it at Kenilworth, earl in all but
the name? Thou mayst do so yet without being cumbered with me or
"Thou dost me wrong, Henry," said Richard, much distressed. "I love
the Prince, for none so truly honoured our blessed father as he, and
for his sake he hath been most kind lord to me; but thou art the head
of my house, my brother, and with all my heart do I long to render
thee such service as--as may lighten these piteous sufferings."
"I believe thee, Richard; thou wert ever an honest simple-hearted
lad," said Henry, in a different tone; "but the only service thou
canst render me is to let me alone, and keep my secret. Here--I feel
that we are at the stone bench, where I bask in the sun, and lay out
my dish for the visitors of the gracious Order.--Here, Bessee, child,
put the dish down," he added, retaining his hold of his brother, as
if to feel whether Richard winced at this persistence in his strange
profession. The little girl obeyed, and betook herself to the quiet
sports of a lonely child, amusing herself with Leonillo, and
sometimes returning to her father and obtaining his attention for a
few moments, sometimes prattling to some passing brother of the
Order, who perhaps made all the more of the pretty creature because
this might be called an innocent breach of discipline. "And now,
Master Page," said Henry in his tone of authority, yet with some
sarcasm, "let us hear how long-legged Edward finished the work he had
began on thee at Hereford--made thee captive in the battle, eh?"
Richard briefly narrated his life with Gourdon, and his capture by
the Prince, adding, "My mother was willing I should remain with him;
she bade me do anything rather than join Simon and Guy; and verily,
brother, save that the Prince is less free of speech, his whole life
seems moulded upon our blessed father's--"
"Speak not of them in the same breath," cried Henry hastily. "And
wherefore--if such be his honour to him whom he slew and mutilated--
art thou to disown thy name, and stand before him like some chance
"That was the King's doing," said Richard. "The Prince was averse to
it, but King Henry, though he wept over me and called me his dear
nephew, made it his special desire that he might not hear the name of
Montfort; and the Prince, though overruling him in all that pertains
to matters of state, is most dutiful in all lesser matters. I hoped
at least to be called Fitz Simon, but some mumble of the King turned
it into Fowen, and so it has continued. I believe no one at court is
really ignorant of my lineage; but among the people, Montfort is
still a trumpet-call, and the King fears to hear it."
"Well he may!" laughed Henry. "Rememberest thou, Richard, the sorry
figure our good uncle cut, when we armed him so courteously, and put
him on his horse to meet the rebels at Evesham--how he durst not hang
back, and loved still less to go onward, and kept calling me his
loving nephew all the time?"
"Ah! Henry--but didst thou not hear my father mutter, when he saw
the crowned helm under the standard, that it was ill done, and no
good could come of seething the kid in the mother's milk? And
verily, had not the Prince been carrying his father from the field, I
trow the Mortimers had not refused us quarter, nor had their cruel
will of us."
"Oh ho! thou art come to have opinions of thine own!" laughed Henry,
with the scoff of a senior unable to brook that his younger brother
should think for himself. Yet this tone was so familiar to Richard's
ears, that it absolutely encouraged him to a nearer step to intimacy.
He said, "But how scapedst thou, Henry? I could have sworn that I
saw thee fall, skull and helmet cleft, a dead man!"
Instead of answering, Henry put his hand under the chin of his child,
who was leaning against him, and holding up her face to his brother,
said, "Thou canst see this child's face? Tell me what like she is."
"Like little Eleanor, like Amaury. The home-look of her eyes won my
heart at once. Even the Princess remarked their resemblance to mine.
Think of Eleanor and thy mind's eye will see her."
"No other likeness?" said the blind man wistfully; "but no--thou wast
at Hereford when she was at Odiham."
He grasped Richard's hand, and under his breath uttered the name
"Isabel Mortimer!" exclaimed Richard, who had been, of course, aware
of his brother's betrothal, when the two families of Montfort and
Mortimer had been on friendly terms; "we heard she had taken the
"And so thou sawst me slain!" said Henry de Montfort dryly.
"But how--how was it?" asked Richard eagerly.
"Men sometimes tie knots faster than they intend," said Henry. "When
Roger Mortimer took Simon's doings in wrath, and vowed that his
sister should never wed a Montfort, he knew not what he did. He and
his proud wife could flout and scorn my Isabel--they might not break
her faith to me. Thou knowst, perhaps, Richard, since thou art hand
and glove with our foes, that like a raven to the slaughter, the Lady
Mortimer came as near the battle-field as her care for her dainty
person would allow; and there was one whom she brought with her.
And, gentle dame, what doth she do but carry her sister-in-law a
sweet and womanly gift? What thinkst thou it was, Richard?"
"I fear I know," said Richard, choked; "my father's hand."
"Nay, that was a choicer morsel reserved for my lady countess
herself. It was mine own, with our betrothal-ring thereon. Now,
quoth that loving sister, might Isabel resume her ring. No plighted
troth could be her excuse any longer for refusing to wed my Lord of
Gloucester. Then rose up my love, 'It beckons me!' she said, and
bade them leave it with her. They deemed that it was for death that
it beckoned. So mayhap did she. I wot Countess Maud had little
grieved. But little dreamed they of her true purpose--my perfect
jewel of constant love--namely, to restore the lopped hand to the
poor corpse, that it might likewise have Christian burial. Her old
nurse, Welsh Winny, was as true to her as she was to me; and forth
they sped, fearless of the spoilers, and made their way at nightfall
even to the Abbey Church, where Edward, less savage than the fair
countess, had caused us to be laid before the altar, awaiting our
burial in the vaults."
"Thou wert senseless all this time?"
"Ay, and so continued. The pang when my hand was severed had roused
me for a few moments, but only to darkness; and my effort to speak
had been rewarded with as many Welsh knives as could pierce my flesh
"And thou didst not bleed to death?"
"The swoon checked my blood. And the monks of Evesham must have
staunched and bandaged so as to make a decent corpse of me. Had they
had a man-at-arms among them, they would have known that mine were
not the wounds of a dead but of a living man. The old nurse knew it,
when my sweet lady would needs unbind my wrist, to place my hand in
its right place. An old crone such as Welsh Winny never stirs
without her cordial potion. They poured it into my lips--and if I
were never more to awake to the light of day, I awoke to the sound
that was yet dearer to me--while, alas! it still was left to me."
He became silent, till Richard's question drew him on.
"What with their care and support, when once on my feet I found
strength to stumble out of the chapel and gain shelter in the woods
ere day; and I believe the monks got credit for their zeal in casting
out the excommunicate body."
"Not credit," said Richard; "the Prince was full of grief, more
especially as they all disavowed the deed. But, brother, art thou
"Far from it, most pious Crusader. If seas of holy wells could
assoil me, I should be pure enough. My sweet Isabel deemed that some
such washing might bring back mine eyesight; and from one to another
we wandered as my limbs could bear it. And at St. Winifred's there
was a priest who told us strange tales of the miracles wrought in the
Mortimer household by my father's severed hand; nay, that it had so
worked on Lord Mortimer's sister, that she had left the vanities of
the world, and gone into a nunnery. He seemed so convinced of my
father's saintliness, and so honest a fellow, that Isabel insisted on
unbosoming ourselves to him under seal of confession. No longer was
the old nurse to be my mother and she my sister; and the good man
made no difficulties, but absolved me, and wedded me to the truest,
most loving wife that ever blessed a man bereft of all else."
"And you begged! O Henry, the noble lady--"
"At first we had the knightly chain and spurs in which the monks had
kindly pranked me up. Isabel too had worn a few jewels; but after
all, a palmer need never hunger. My father always said no trade was
so well paid as begging, under King Henry, and verily we found it so.
She used at times to gather berries and thread them for chaplets to
sell at the holy wells; but I trow sheer beggary throve better!"
"But wherefore? Even had pardon not been ready, Simon held out
Kenilworth for months."
Henry laughed his dry laugh.
"Simple boy, dost think I would trust Simon with an elder brother
whose hand could no longer keep his head?"
"And my mother--"
"She had always hated the Mortimers, even when the contract was
matter of policy. Would I have taken my sweet Isabel to abide her
royal scorn, it might be incredulity of our marriage? Though for
that matter it is more unimpeachable than her own! Nay, nay, out of
ken and out of reach was our only security from our kin on either
side, unless we desired that my head should follow my hand as a
dainty dish for Countess Maud."
"How could the lady brook it?"
"She dyed her fair skin with walnut, wore russet gown and hood, and
was a very nightingale for blitheness and sweet song through that
first year," said Henry; "blither than ever when that little one was
born in the sunshiny days of Whitsuntide. I tell thee, those were
happier days than ever I passed as Lord de Montfort at Kenilworth.
But after that, the bruised hurt in my side, which had never healed
when the cleaner gashes did, became more painful and troublesome.
Holy wells did nothing for it; and she wasted with watching it, as
though my pain had been hers. Naught would serve her but coming
here, because she had been told that the Knights of St. John had
better experience of old battle-wounds than any men in the realm.
Much ado had we to get here--the young babe in her arms, and I well-
nigh distraught with pain. We crept into this same hut, and I had a
weary sickness throughout the winter--living, I know not how, by the
bounty of the Spital, and by the works of her fingers, which Winny
would take out to sell on feast-days in the city. Oh that eyes had
been left me to note how she pined away! but I had scarce felt how
thin and bony were her tender fingers ere the blasts of the cruel
March wind finished the work."
"Alack! alack! poor Henry," said Richard; "never, never was lady of
romaunt so noble, and so true!"
"No more," said Henry hastily, leaning his brow on the top of his
staff. "Come hither, Bessee," he added after a brief pause; "say thy
prayer for thy blessed mother, child."
And holding out his one hand, he inclosed her two clasped ones within
it, as the little voice ran over an utterly unintelligible form of
childishly clipped Latin, sounding, however, sweet and birdlike from
the very liberties the little memory had taken in twisting its
mellifluous words into a rhythm of her own. And there was catchword
enough for Richard to recognize and follow it, with bonnet doffed,
and crossing himself.
"And now," he said, "surely the need for secrecy is ended. The land
is tranquil, the King ruled by the Prince, the Prince owning all the
past folly and want of faith that goaded our father into resistance.
Wherefore not seek his willing favour? Thou art ever a pilgrim. Be
with us in the crusade. Who knows what the Jordan waves may effect
"No, no," grimly laughed Henry. "Dost think any favour would make it
tolerable to be wept over and pitied by the King--pitied by THE
KING," he repeated in ineffable disgust; "or to be the show of the
court, among all that knew me of old, when I WAS a man? Hob the
cobbler, and Martin the bagster, are better company than Pembroke and
Gloucester, and I meet with more humours on Cheapside than I should
at Winchester--more regard too. Why, they deem me threescore years
old at least, and I am a very oracle of wisdom among them. Earl of
Leicester, forsooth! he would be nobody compared with Blind Hal! And
as to freedom--with child and staff the whole country and city are
before me--no shouts to dull retainers, and jackanape pages to set my
blind lordship on horseback, without his bridle hand, and lead him at
their will anywhere but at his own.
"All this I can understand for thyself," said Richard; "but for thy
child's sake canst thou not be moved?"
"My child, quotha? What, when her Uncle Simon is true grandson to
Richard started. "I cannot believe what thou sayest of Simon," he
answered in displeasure.
"One day thou wilt," calmly answered Henry; "but I had rather not
have it proved upon the heiress of Leicester and Montfort."
"Leicester is forfeit--Simon an outlawed man."
"If the humour for pardon is set in, Cousin Edward is no man to do
things by halves. If he owned me at all, the lands would be mine
again, and such a bait would be smelt out by Simon were he at the
ends of the earth. Or if not, that poor child would be granted to
any needy kinsman or grasping baron that Edward wanted to portion.
My child shall be my own, and none other's. Better a beggar's brat
than an earl's heiress!"
"She is a lovely little maiden. I know not how thou canst endure
letting her grow up in poverty, an alien from her birth and rank."
"Poverty," Henry laughed. "Little knowest thou of the jolly beggar's
business! I would fain wager thee, Richard, that pretty Bessee's
marriage-portion shall be a heavier bag of gold than the Lady
Elizabeth de Montfort would gather by all the aids due to her father
from his vassals--and won moreover without curses."
"But who would be the bridegroom?"
"Her own choice, not the King's," answered Henry briefly.
"And this is all," said Richard, perceiving that according to the
previous day's agreement the cream-coloured elephant of a German
horse was being led forth for his use, and Sir Robert preparing to
accompany him. "I must leave thee in this strange condition?"
"Ay, that must thou. Betray me, and thou shalt have the curse of the
head of thine house. Had thy voice not become so strangely like my
father's, I had never made myself known to thee."
"I will see thee again."
"That will be as thou canst. I trow Edward hardly gives freedom
enough to his pages for them to pay visits unknown," replied Henry,
with a strange sneering triumph in his own wild liberty.
"If aught ails thee, if I can aid thee, swear to me that thou wilt
send to me."
Henry laughed with somewhat of a tone of mockery, adding, "Well,
well--keep thou thy plight to me so long as I want thee not, and I
will keep mine to thee if ever I should need thee. Now away with
thee. I hear the horses impatient for thee; and what would be the
lot of the beggar if he were seen chattering longer with a lordly
young page than might suffice for his plaint? I hear voices. Put a
tester in my dish, fair Sir, for appearance' sake. Thou hast it not?
aha--I told thee I was the richer as well as the freer man. What's
that? That is no ring of coin."
"'Tis a fair jewel, father, green and sparkling," cried Bessee.
"Nay, nay, I'll have none of it. Some token from thy new masters?
"From the Princess, on New Year's Day," replied Richard. "But keep
it, oh, keep it, Henry; it breaks my heart to leave thee thus."
"Keep it! Not I. What wouldst say to thy dainty dame? Nor should I
get half its value from the Jews. No, no, take back thy jewel, Sir
Page; I'll not put thee in need of telling more lies than becomes
Richard glowed with irritation; but what was the use of anger with a
blind beggar? And while Henry bestowed far more demonstration of
affection on Leonillo than on his brother, it became needful to mount
and ride off, resolving to tell the Prince and Princess, what would
be no falsehood, that the child belonged to a Kenilworth man-at-arms,
sorely wounded at Evesham, and at present befriended by the Knights
of St. John.
Old Sir Robert Darcy knew so much that it was needful to confide
fully in him; and he gave Richard some satisfaction by a promise to
watch over his brother as far as was possible with a man of such
uncertain vagrant habits; and he likewise engaged to let him know,
even in the Holy Land, of any change in the beggar's condition; and
this, considering the wide-spread connections of the Order, and that
some of its members were sure to be in any crusading army, was all
that Richard could reasonably hope.
"Canst write?" asked Sir Robert.
"I could once! But if there be need to send thee a scroll, I'll take
care it is writ by a trusty hand."
More than this Richard could not hope. There had always been a
strange self-willed wildness of character about his eldest brother,
who, though far less violent and overbearing in actual deed than the
two next in age, Simon and Guy, had contrived to incur even greater
odium than they, by his mocking careless manner and love of taunts
and gibing. Simon de Montfort the elder had indeed strangely failed
in the bringing up of his sons. Whether it were that their royal
connection had inflated them with pride, or that the King's
indulgence had counteracted the good effects of the admirable
education provided for them at home, they had done little justice to
their parentage, or to their tutor, the excellent Robert Grostete.
Perhaps the Earl himself was too affectionate: perhaps his
occupation in public affairs hindered him from enforcing family
discipline. At any rate, neither of the elder three could have been
naturally endowed with his largeness of mind, and high unselfish
views. He was a man before his age; not only deeply pious, but with
a devoted feeling for justice and mercy carried into all the details
of life, till his loyalty to the law overcame his loyalty to the
King. Simon and Guy, on the other hand, were commonplace young
nobles of the thirteenth century, heedless of all but themselves, and
disdaining all beneath them; and when their father had seized the
reins of government in order to enforce the laws that the King would
not observe, they saw in his elevation a means of gratifying
themselves, and being above all law. The cry throughout England had
been that Simon's "sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them
Henry de Montfort had not indeed, like his brothers, plundered the
ships in the Channel, extorted money from peaceful yeomen, nor
insulted the poor old captive King to his face; but his deference had
been more galling than their defiance; his scornful smiles and keen
cutting jests had mortally offended many a partizan; and when
positive work was to be done, Simon with all his fierceness and
cruelty was far more to be depended on than Henry, who might at any
time fly off upon some incalculable freak. To Richard's boyish
recollection, if Simon had been the most tyrannical towards him in
deed, Henry had been infinitely more annoying and provoking in the
lesser arts of teasing.
And looking back on the past, he could understand how intolerable a
life of helplessness would be among the equals whom Henry had so
often stung with his keen wit, and that to a man of his peculiar tone
of mind there was infinitely more liberty in thus sinking to the
lowest depths, where his infirmities were absolute capital to him,
than in being hedged about with the restraints of his rank. Any way,
it was impossible to interfere, even for the child's sake, and all
Richard could do to console himself was to look forward to his return
from the Crusade an esquire or even a knight, with exploits that
Henry might respect--a standing in the Court that would give him some
right to speak--perhaps in time a home and lady wife to whom his
brother would intrust his child, who would then be growing out of a
mere toy. Or might not his services win him a fresh grant of the
earldom, and could he not then prove his sincerity by laying it at
the true Earl's feet?
Pretty Bessee, too! Richard remembered stories current in the
family, of their grandmother, Amicia, Countess of Leicester in her
own right, being forced when a young girl to wed the stern grim old
persecuting Simon de Montfort, and how vain had been her struggles
against her doom. He lost himself in graceful romantic visions of
the young knight whose love he would watch and foster, and whose
marriage to his lovely niece should be securely concluded ere her
rank should be made known, when her guardian uncle would yield all to
her. And from that day forth Richard looked out with keen eyes among
the playfellows of the little princes for Bessee's future knight.
CHAPTER VII--AMONG THE RUINS OF CARTHAGE
"But man is more than law, and I may have
Some impress of myself upon the world;
One poor brief life, helping to feed the flame
Of chivalry, and keep alive the truth
That courage, honour, mercy, make a knight."
Queen Isabel, by S. M.
"Land in sight! Cheer up, John, my man!" said Richard, leaning over
a bundle of cloaks that lay on the deck of a Genoese galley.
The cross floated high aloft, accompanied by the lions of English
royalty; the bulwark was hung round with blazoned shields, and the
graceful white sails were filled by a gay breeze that sent the good
ship dancing over the crested waves of the Mediterranean, in company
with many another of her gallant sisters, crowded with the chivalry
Woeful was however the plight of great part of that chivalry.
Merrily merrily bounded the bark, but her sport felt very like death
to many of her freight, and among others to poor little John de
His father, Baron Mohun of Dunster, had been deeply implicated in the
Barons' Wars, and had been a personal friend of the Earl of
Leicester, from whom he had only separated himself in consequence of
the outrageous exactions and acts of insolence perpetrated by the
young Montforts. He had indeed received a disabling wound while
fighting on the Prince's side at Evesham; but his submission had been
thought so insecure that his son and heir had been required of him,
ostensibly as page, but really as hostage.
In spite of his Norman surname, little John of Dunster was, at twelve
years old, a sturdy thoroughgoing English lad, with the strongest
possible hatred to all foreigners, whom with grand indifference to
natural history he termed "locusts sucking the blood of Englishmen."
Not a word or command would he understand except in his mother
tongue; and no blows nor reproofs had sufficed to tame his sturdy
obstinacy. The other pages had teased, fagged, and bullied him to
their hearts' content, without disturbing his determination to go his
own way; and his only friend and protector had been Richard, whom,
under the name of Fowen, he took for a genuine Englishman, and loved
with all his heart. If anything would ever cure him of his wilful
awkwardness and dogged bashfulness, it was likely to be the kindness
of Richard--above all, in the absence of the tormentors, for Hamlyn
de Valence alone of the other pages had been selected to attend upon
the Prince in this expedition; and he, though scornful and
peremptory, did not think the boy worthy of his attention, and did
not actively tease him.
At present Hamlyn de Valence, as well as most others of the
passengers, lay prostrate; scarcely alive even to the assurance of
Richard, who had still kept his feet, that the outline of the hills
was quickly becoming distinct, and that they were fast entering the
gulf where lay the fleet that had brought the crusaders of France and
Sicily, whom they hoped to join in the conquest and conversion of
Tunis. On arriving at Aigues Mortes, they had found that the French
King had already sailed for Sicily; and following him thither, learnt
that his brother, Charles of Anjou, had persuaded him to begin his
crusade by a descent on Tunis, to which the Sicilian crown was said
to have some claim; that he had sailed thither at once, and Charles
had followed him so soon as the Genoese transports could return for
the Sicilian troops.
"I see the masts!" exclaimed Richard; "the bay is crowded with them!
There must be a goodly force. Yonder are two headlands; within them
we shall have smoother water--see--"
"What strikes thee so suddenly silent?" growled one of the muffled
figures stretched on deck.
"The ensigns are but half-mast high, my Lord," returned Richard in an
awe-struck voice; "the lilies of France are hung drooping downward."
"These plaguy southern winds at their tricks," muttered at first Earl
Gilbert of Gloucester, for he it was who had spoken, though Richard
had not known him to be so near; then sitting up, he came to a fuller
view: "Hm--it looks ill! Thou canst keep thy feet, Fowen, or what
do they call thee? Down with thee to the cabin, and let the Prince
Stepping across the prostrate forms, and meeting with vituperations
as he trode, Richard made his way to the ladder that led below, and
notified his presence behind the curtain that veiled the royal cabin.
He was summoned to enter at once. The Prince was endeavouring to
write at a swinging-table, the Princess lay white and resigned on a
couch, attended on by Dame Idonea (or more properly Iduna) Osbright,
a lady who had lost her husband in a former Crusade, and had ever
since been a sort of high-born head nurse in the palace. A Danish
skald, who had once been at the English court, had said that she
seemed to have eaten her namesake's apple of immortality, without her
apple of beauty, for no one could ever remember to have seen her
other than a tiny dried-up old witch, with keen gray eyes, a sharp
tongue, an ever ready foot and hand, and a frame utterly unaffected
by any of the influences so sinister to far younger and stronger
ones. Devoted to all the royal family, her special passion was for
Prince Edmund, who, in his mother's repugnance to his deformity, had
been left almost entirely to her, and she had accompanied the
Princess Eleanor all the more willingly from her desire to look after
her favourite nursling.
"There, Lady," said Edward to his wife, "the tossing is all but over;
here is Richard come to tell us that we are nigh on land."
"Even so, my Lord," returned Richard; "we are entering the gulf, but
my Lord of Gloucester has sent me to report to you that in all the
ships the colours are trailing."
"Sayst thou?" exclaimed the Prince, hastily laying aside his writing
materials. "Fear not, mi Dona, I will return anon and tell thee how
it is. We are in smoother water already."
"So much smoother that I will come with thee out of this stifling
cabin," said Eleanor. "O would that we had been in time for thee to
have counselled thine uncles--"
"We will see what we have to grieve for ere we bemoan ourselves,"
said the Prince. "My good uncle of France would put his whole fleet
in mourning for one barefooted friar!"
"Depend on it, my Lord, 'tis mourning for something in earnest,"
interposed Dame Iduna; "I said it was not for nothing that a single
pyot came and rocked up his ill-omened tail while we were taking
horse for this expedition, and my Lady there was kissing the little
ones at home, nor that a hare ran over our road at Bagshot--"
"Well, Dame," interposed the Prince good-humouredly, seeing his wife
somewhat affected by the list of omens, "I know you have a horse-shoe
in your luggage, so you will come safe off, whoever does not!"
"And what matters what my luck is," returned the Dame, "an old
beldame such as me, so long as you and your brother come off safe,
and find the blessed princes at home well and sound? Would that we
were out of this sandy hole, or that any one would resolve me why we
cannot go straight to Jerusalem when we are about it!"
The Dame had delayed them while she spoke, in order to adjust the
Princess's muffler over her somewhat dishevelled locks; but Eleanor
seeing that her husband was impatient, put a speedy end to her
operations, and took his arm.
Meantime the vessel had come within the Gulf of Goletta, and others
of the passengers had revived, and were standing on deck to watch
their entrance into the very harbour that two thousand years before
had sheltered the storm-tossed fleet of AEneas; but if the Trojan had
there found a wooded haven, the groves and sylvan shades must long
since have been destroyed, for to the new-comers the bay appeared
inclosed by spits of sand, though there was a rising ground in front
that cut off the view. In the centre of the bay was a low sandy
islet, covered with remains of masonry, and with a fort in the midst.
On this was mounted the French banner, but likewise drooping; and all
around it lay the ships with furled sails and trailing ensigns,
giving them an inexpressibly mysterious look of woe, like living
creatures with folded wings and vailed crests, lying on the face of
the waters in a silent sleep of sorrow. There was an awe of suspense
that kept each one on the deck silent, unable to utter the conjecture
that weighed upon his breast.
A boat was already putting off, and its quick movements seemed to mar
the solemn stillness, as, impelled by the regular strokes of a dozen
dark handsome Genoese mariners with gaily-tinted caps, it shot
towards the vessel. A Genoese captain in graver garb sat at the
helm, and as they came alongside, a whisper, almost a shudder, seemed
to thrill upwards from the boat to the crew, and through them to the
passengers, "Il Re!" "il Re santo," "il Re di Francia." It seemed to
have pervaded the whole ship even before the Genoese had had time to
take the rope flung to him and to climb up the ship's side, where as
his fellow-captain greeted him, he asked hastily for the Principe
For Edward had not come forward, but was standing with his back
against the mainmast, with colourless cheek and eyes set and fixed.
Eleanor looked up to him in silence, aware that he was mastering
vehement agitation, and would endure no token of sympathy or sorrow
that would unnerve him when dignity required firmness. To him, Louis
IX., the husband of his mother's sister, had been the guiding friend
and noble pattern denied to him in his father; and Eleanor, intrusted
to his uncle's care during the troubles of England, a maiden wife in
her first years of womanhood, had been formed and moulded by that
holy and upright influence. To both the loss was as that of a
father; and the murmur among the sailors was to them as a voice
saying, "Knowest thou that God will take away thy master from thy
head to-day?" For the moment, however, the Princess's sole thought
was how her husband would bear it, and she watched anxiously till the
struggle was over, in the space of a few seconds, and he met the
Genoese with his usual reserved courtesy; and returning his
salutation, signed to him to communicate his tidings.
They were however brief, for the captain had held by his ship, and
all he knew was that deadly sickness, fever, and plague had raged in
the camp. The Papal Legate was dead, and the good King of France.
His son was dead too, and many another beside.
"Not the eldest--he lay sick, but there were hopes of him; but the
little one--he had been carried on board his ship, but it had not
"Poor little Tristan!" sighed Eleanor; "true Cross-bearer, born in
one hapless Crusade to die in another."
"The King of Sicily?" demanded Edward between his teeth.
"He had arrived the very day of his brother's death," said the
Genoese; "and when he had seen how matters stood, he had concluded a
truce with the King of Tunis, and intended to sail as soon as the new
King of France could bear to be moved."
In the meantime the vessel had been anchored, and preparations were
made for landing; but the Princes impatience to hear details would
not brook even the delay of waiting till his horse could be set
ashore. He committed to the Earl of Gloucester the charge of
encamping his men on the island, left a message with him for his
brother Edmund, who was in another ship, and perceiving that Richard
had suffered the least of all his suite, summoned him to attend him
in the boat which was at once lowered.
This would have been a welcome call had not Richard found that poor
little John de Mohun had not revived like the other passengers, but
still lay inert and sometimes moaning. All Richard could do was to
beg the groom specially attached to the pages' service, to have a
care of the little fellow, and get him sheltered in a tent as soon as
possible; but the Prince never suffered any hesitation in obeying
him, and it was needful to hurry at once into the boat.
Without a word, the Prince with long swift strides, in the light of
the sinking sun, walked up the low hill, the same where erst the
pious AEneas climbed with his faithful Achates following. From the
brow the Trojan prince had beheld the rising city in the valley--the
English prince came on its desolation. Yet nature had made the vale
lovely--green with well-watered verdure, fields of beauteous green
maize, graceful date palms, and majestic cork trees; and among them
were white flat-roofed Moorish houses; but many a black stain on the
fair landscape told of the fresh havoc of an invading army.
Utterly blotted out was Carthage. Half demolished, half choked with
sand, the city of Dido, the city of Hannibal, the city of Cyprian--
all had vanished alike, and nothing remained erect but a Moorish
fortress, built up with fragments of the huge stones of the old
Phoenicians, intermixed with the friezes and sculptures of Graecising
Rome, and the whole fabric in the graceful Saracenic taste; while
completing the strange mixture of periods, another of those mournful
French banners drooped from the battlements, and around it spread the
white tents of the armies of France and the Two Sicilies, like it
with trailing banners; an orphaned plague-stricken host in a ruined
While the Prince paused for a moment's glance, a party of knights
came spurring up the hill, who had been ordered off to meet him on
the first intelligence that his fleet was in sight, but had been
taken by surprise by his alertness.
They met with bowed heads and dejected mien; and there was one who
hid his face and wept aloud as he exclaimed, "Ah! Messire, our holy
King loved you well!"
"Alas, beau sire Guillaume de Porceles!" was all that Edward could
say, as with tears in his eyes he held out his hand to the good
Provencal knight, adding, "Let me hear!"
The knight, leading his horse and walking by Edward's side, told how
the King had been induced to make his descent on Tunis, from some
wild hope of the king's conversion, which had been magnified by
Charles of Anjou, from his dislike to let so gallant an army pass by
without endeavouring to obtain some personal advantage to his own
realm of Sicily. Though a vassal of Beatrix of Provence, the Sire de
Porceles was no devoted admirer of her husband, Charles of Anjou, and
spoke with no concealment of the unhappy perversion of the Crusade.
Charles of Anjou was all-powerful with the court of Rome, and in
crusading matters Louis deemed it right absolutely to surrender to
the ecclesiastical power all that judgment which had made him so
prudent and wise a king at home, while his crusades were lamentable
failures. Thus in him it had been a piece of obedient self-denial
not to press forward to the Holy Sepulchre; but to land in this
malarious bay to fulfil aims that, had he but used his common sense,
he would have seen to be merely those of private ambition. There it
had been one scene of wasting sickness. A few deeds of arms had been
done to refresh the spirits of the French, such as the taking of the
fort of Carthage, and now and then a skirmish of some foraging party;
but in general the Moors launched their spears and fled without
staying for combat. Many who had hid themselves in the vaults and
cellars of Carthage had been dragged out and put to death, and their
bodies had aided in breeding pestilence. Name after name fell from
the lips of the knight, like the roll of warriors fallen in a great
"They melted from the field like snow,
Their king, their lords, their mightiest low."
And the last foreign embassy that ever reached Louis IX. had been
that of the Greek Emperor Michael Palaeologos, come to set before him
the savage barbarities perpetrated upon Christians by this brother -
"Who had spoilt the purpose of his life."
It was as Charles entered the port, that Louis, lying on a bed of
ashes, with his hands crossed upon his breast, and the words, "O
Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" entered not the Jerusalem of his earthly
schemes, but the Jerusalem of his true aspirations.
"Shall we conduct you to my Lord the King of Sicily?" asked De
"No!" said Edward, with bitter sternness; "to my uncle of France."
"Down, down, my Lord, and all of you instantly," shouted Porceles
suddenly, throwing himself face downwards on the ground. Edward was
too good a soldier not to follow the injunction instantaneously, and
Richard did the same, as well as all the knights who had come up with
Porceles. Even the horses buried their noses in the hot sandy soil.
A strange rushing roaring sound passed over them; there was a sense
of intense suffocation, then of heat, pricking, and irritation. The
Provencals were rising; and the Prince and his page doing the same,
shook off a plentiful load of sand, and beheld, careering furiously
away, between them and the western sun, what looked like a purple
column, reaching from earth to heaven, and bespangled with living
gold-dust, whirling round in giddy spirals, and all the time fleeting
so fast that it was diminishing every moment, and was gone in a wink
of the eye.
"Is it enchantment?" gasped Richard to the squire nearest him, as he
strove to clear his eyes from the sand and gaze after the wonder.
"Worse than enchantment," quoth the squire; "it is a sand whirlwind."
They were soon crossing the ditch that had been dug around the camp
among the ruins, and passed through lanes of tents erected among the
thick foliage that mantled the broken walls; here and there tracks of
mosaic pavement; of temples to Dido or Anna peeping forth beneath
either the luxuriant vegetation or the heavy sand-drifts; or columns
of the new Carthage lying veiled by acanthus; or remnants of churches
destroyed by Genseric--all alike disregarded by the sickly drooping
figures that moved feebly about among them, regarding them as little
A Moorish house in the midst of a once well-laid-out garden, now
trampled and destroyed, was the place to which the Provencal knight
led the English Prince. Entering the doorway of a court, where a
fountain sparkled in the midst of a marble pavement, they saw the
richly-latticed stone doorway of the house guarded by two figures in
armour like iron statues; and passing between them, they came into
the principal chamber, marble-floored, and with a divan of cushions
round it; but full in the midst of the room lay a coffin, covered
with the lilied banner, and the standard of the Cross; the crowned
helmet, good sword, knightly spurs, and cross-marked shield lying
upon it; solemn forms in armour guarded it, and priests knelt and
chanted prayers and psalms around it. Within were only the bones of
Louis, which were to be taken to St. Denis. The flesh, which had
been removed by being boiled in wine and spices, was already on its
way to Palermo in a vessel whose melancholy ensigns would have
announced the loss to the English had they not passed it in the
Long did Edward kneel beside the remains of his uncle, with his face
hidden and thoughts beyond our power to trace. Richard's heart was
full of that strange question "Wherefore?" Wherefore should the best
and purest schemes planned by the highest souls fall over like a
crested wave and become lost? So it had been, he would have said,
with the Round Table under Arthur, so with England's rights beneath
his own noble father, so with the Crusade under such leaders as
Edward of England and Louis of France. Did he mark the answer in
those Psalms that the priests were singing around -
"Qui seminant in lacrymis, in exultatione metent,
Euntes ibant et flebant mittentes semina sua,
Venientes autem venient cum exultatione portantes manipulos suos."
Surely we may believe that Simon of Leicester and Louis of France
were alike beyond grief at their marred visions, their errors of deed
or of judgment were washed away, and their true purpose was accepted,
both waiting the harvest when their works should follow them, and it
should have been made manifest that the effect of what they had been
and had suffered had told far more on future generations than what
they had wrought out in their own lifetime.
It was at that moment that the sensation that an eye was upon him
caused Richard to raise his eyes from the floor. One of the armed
figures, who had hitherto stood as still as suits of armour in a
castle hall, had partially lowered the visor of the helmet, and eyes,
nose, and a part of the cheeks were visible. Richard looked up, and
they were those of his father! was it a delusion of his fancy? He
closed his eyes and looked again. Again it was the deep brown
Montfort eye, the clearly-cut nose, the embrowned skin! He glanced
at the bearings on the shield. Behold, it was his own--the red field
and white lion rampant with a forked tail, which he had not seen for
Almost at the same moment another person entered the chamber--a man
with a sallow complexion, narrow French features, sharp gray eyes,
and a certain royal bearing that even a cunning shrewdness of
expression could not destroy. His face was composed to a look of
melancholy, and he crossed himself and knelt down near Edward to
await the conclusion of his devotions. Edward, who knelt absorbed in
grief, with his cloak partly over his face, apparently did not
perceive him, and after two or three unheeded endeavours at
attracting notice, he at length rose and said in a low voice, "My
fair nephew." For a moment the Prince lifted up his face, and
Richard had rather have died than have encountered that glance of
mournful reproof; then hiding his face in his hands again, he
continued his devotions.
When these were ended he rose from his knees; and when out of the
death-chamber bowed his bead and with grave courtesy exchanged
greetings with Charles of Anjou, asking at the same time to see his
young cousin Philippe, the new King of France.
An inquiry from an attendant elicited that Philippe had just dropped
asleep under the influence of a potion from his leech.
"Then, fair nephew," said Charles of Sicily, "be content with your
old uncle, and come to my apartments, where I will set before you the
necessities that have led me to conclude the truce that is baffling
your eager desire of deeds of arms."
"Pardon me, royal uncle," returned Edward, "I must see my camp set
up. It is already late, and I must take order that my troops mingle
not where contagion might seize them. Another time," he added, "I
may brook the argument better."
Charles of Anjou did not press him further. There was that in his
face and voice which betokened that his fierce indignation and
overpowering grief were scarcely restrained, and that a word of
excuse in his present mood would but have roused the lion.
Horses had been provided for him and his attendant. He flung himself
on his steed at once, and Richard was obliged to follow without a
moment's opportunity of making inquiry about the wonderful apparition
he had seen in the chamber of death.
For some distance Edward galloped rapidly over the sandy soil, then
drawing up his horse when he had come to the brow from which he could
see on the one side the valley of Carthage, on the other the bay, he
made an exclamation which Richard took for a summons, and he came up
asking if he were called. "No, boy, no! I only spoke my thoughts
aloud! Failure and success! We've seen them both to-day--in the two
kings! What thinkst thou of them?"
"Better be wrecked than work the wreck, my Lord," said Richard.
"Ay! but why surrender the wit to the worker of the wreck?" said
Edward. Then knitting his brow, "Two holy men have I known who did
not blind their wit for their conscience' sake--two alone--did it
fare better with them? One was the good Bishop of Lincoln--the other
thou knowst, Richard! Well, one goes after another--first good
Bishop Grostete, then the Lord of Leicester, and now mine uncle of
France; and if earth is to have no better than such as it pleases the
Saints to leave in it, it will not be worth staying in much longer."
"My Lord," said Richard, coming near, "methought I saw my father's
face under a visor--one of the knightly guards beside the holy King."
"Well might thy fancy call him up in such a presence," said Edward.
"They twain had hearts in the same place above, though they saw the
world below on different sides, and knew each other little, and loved
each other less, in life. That's all at an end now! Well, back to
our camp to make the best of the world they have left behind them!"
And then in a tone that Richard was not meant to hear, "While mi dona
Leonor remains to me there is something saintly and softening still
in this world! Heaven help me--ay, and all my foes--were she gone
from it too!"
CHAPTER VIII--RICHARD'S WRAITH
"No distance breaks the tie of blood;
Brothers are brothers evermore;
Nor wrong, nor wrath of deadliest mood,
That magic may o'erpower."--Christian Year.
It was nearly dark when the Prince and the Page landed on the island,
and found the tents already set up in their due order and rank,
according to the discipline that no one durst transgress where Edward
was the commander.
Richard attended him to his pavilion, and being there dismissed until
supper-time, crossed the square space which was always left around
the royal banner, to the tent at the southern corner, which was
regularly appropriated to the pages' use. On lifting its curtain he
was, however, dismayed to see a kirtle there, and imagining that he
must have fallen upon the ladies' quarters, he was retreating with an
apology; when the sharp voice of Dame Idonea called out, "Oh yes,
Master Page! 'tis you that are at home here. I was merely tarrying
till 'twas the will of one of you to come in and look to the poor
And little John of Dunster called from a couch of mantles, "Richard,
oh! is it he at last?"
"It is I," said Richard, advancing into the light of a brass lamp,
hung by chains from the top of the tent. "This is kind indeed, Lady!
But is he indeed so ill at ease?"
"How should he be otherwise, with none of you idle-pated pages
casting a thought to him?"
"I was grieved to leave him--but the Prince summoned me," began
"Beshrew thee! Tell me not of princes, as though there were no one
whom thou couldst bid to have a care of the little lad!"
"I did bid Piers--," Richard made another attempt.
"Piers, quotha? Why didst not bid the Jackanapes that sits on the
luggage? A proper warder for a sick babe!"
"I am no babe!" here burst out John; "I am twelve years old come
Martinmas, and I need no tendance but Richard's."
"Ha, ha! So those are all the thanks we ladies get, when we are not
young and fair!" laughed Dame Idonea, rather amused.
"I want no women, young or old," petulantly repeated John; "I want
Richard.--Lift me up, Richard; take away this cloak."
"For his life, no!" returned the Dame; "he has the heats and the
chills on him, and to let him take cold would be mere slaughter."
"Alas!" said Richard, "I hoped nothing ailed him but the sea, and
that landing would make all well."
"As if the sea ever made a child shiver and burn by turns! Nay, 'tis
the trick of the sun in these parts. Strange that the sun himself
should be a mere ally of the Infidel! I tell thee, if the child is
ever to see Dunster again, thou must watch him well, keep him from
the sun by day and the chill by night; or he'll be like the poor
creatures in the French camp out there, whom, I suppose, you found in
"Alack yes, Lady!"
"I've seen it many a time; and all their disorders will be creeping
into our camp next. Tell me, is it even as they told us, one king
dead and the other dying?"
Richard began to wonder whether he should ever get her out of his
tent, for she insisted on his telling her every possible particular--
who had died, who had lived, who was sick, who well; and as from the
close connection between the English, French, and Sicilian courts,
whose queens were all sisters, she knew who every one was, and
accounted for the history of each person she inquired after, back to
the last generation--happy if it were not to the third--her
conversation was not quickly over. She ended at last, by desiring
Richard to give her patient some of a febrifuge, which she had
brought with her, every two hours, and when it was all spent, or in
case of any change in the boy's state, to summon her from the ladies'
tent; adding, however, "But what's the use of leaving a pert
springald like thee in charge? Thou wilt sleep like a very dormouse,
I'll warrant! I'd best call Mother Jugge."
"Oh no, no!" cried John; to whom the attendance of Mother Jugge would
have been a worse indignity than the being nursed by Dame Idonea;
"let me have no one but Richard! Richard knows all I want.--Richard,
leave me not again."
"Ay, ay; a little lad ever hangs to a bigger, were he to torture the
life out of him. Small thanks for us women after our good looks be
past. But I'll look in on the child in early morn, thanks or no
thanks; for I know his mother well, and if I can help it, the hyenas
shall not make game of his bones, as I hear them doing by the French
John strove to say that, indeed, he thanked her, and had been
infinitely comforted and refreshed by her care, and that all he meant
was to express his distaste to Mother Jugge, the lavender (i.e.
laundress), and his desire for Richard Fowen's company; but he was
little attended to, and apparently more than half offended, the brisk
old lady trotted away.
That island was a dreary place; without a tree or any shelter from
the glare of sun and sea, whose combined influences threatened
blindness, sun-stroke, or at the very least blistered the faces of
those who stepped beyond their tents by day. The Prince's orders,
however, strictly confined his army within its bounds, except that at
twilight parties were sent ashore for water and provisions, under
strict orders, however, to hold no parley with any one from the
French or Sicilian camps, lest they should bring home the infection
of the pestilence; and always under the command of some trustworthy
knight, able and willing to enforce the command.
The Prince himself refused all participation in the counsels of
Charles of Anjou, and confined himself, like his men, entirely to the
fleet and island. Charles contrived to spread a report, that his
displeasure was solely due to his disappointment at being balked of
fighting with the Tunisians; and that instead of indignant grief at
the perversion of the wrecked Crusade, he was only showing the
sullenness of an aggrieved swordsman. Even young Philippe le Hardi,
a dull, heavy, ignorant youth, was led to suppose this was the cause
of his offence, and though daily inquiries were sent through the
Genoese crews for his health, he made no demonstration of willingness
to see his cousin of England.
Thus Richard had no opportunity of ascertaining whether there were
any basis for the strange impression he had received in St. Louis's
death-chamber. It would have been an act of disobedience, not soon
overlooked by the Prince, had one of his immediate suite transgressed
his commands, and indeed, so strict was the discipline, that it would
scarcely have been possible to make the attempt. Besides, Richard's
time was entirely engrossed between his duties in attending on the
Prince, and his care of little John of Dunster, who had a sharp
attack of fever, and was no doubt only carried through it by the
experienced skill of Dame Idonea Osbright, and by Richard's tender
nursing. Somehow the dame's heart was not won, even by the elder
page's dutiful care and obedience to all her directions. Partly she
viewed him as a rival in the affections of the patient--who, poor
little fellow, would in his companion's absence be the child he was,
and let her treat him like his mother, or old nurse, chattering to
her freely about home, and his home-sick longings; whereas the
instant any male companion appeared, he made it a point of honour to
be the manly warrior and crusader, just succeeding so far as to be
sullen instead of plaintive; though when left to Richard, he could
again relax his dignity, and become natural and affectionate. But
besides this species of jealousy, Richard suspected that Lady
Osbright knew, or at least guessed, his own parentage, and disliked
him for it accordingly. She had never forgotten the distress and
degradation of his mother's stolen marriage, nor forgiven his father
for it; she had often stung the proud heart of his brother Henry,
when he shared the nursery of his cousins the princes; and her sturdy
English dislike of foreigners, and her strong narrow personal
loyalty, had alike resulted in the most vehement hatred of the Earl
of Leicester, whose head she would assuredly have welcomed with
barbarous exultation, worthy of her Danish ancestors. Little chance,
then, was there that she would regard with favour his son under a
feigned name, fostered in the Prince's own court and camp.
She was a constraint, and almost a vexation, to Richard, and he
heartily wished that the boy's recovery would free his tent from her.
The boy did recover favourably, in spite of all the discomforts of
the island, and was decidedly convalescent when, after nearly ten
days' isolation on the island, Edward drew out his whole force upon
the shore to do honour to the embarkation of the relics of Louis IX.
It was one of the most solemn and melancholy pageants that could be
conceived. A wide lane of mailed soldiers was drawn up, Sicilians
and Provencals on the one side, and on the other, English and the
Knights of the two Orders. All stood, or sat on horseback in shining
steel, guarding the way along which were carried the coffins. In
memory, perhaps, of Louis's own words, "I, your leader, am going
first," his remains headed the procession, closely followed by those
of his young son; and behind it marched his two brothers, Charles and
Alfonse, and his son-in-law, the King of Navarre (the two latter
already bearing the seeds of the fatal malady), and the three English
princes, Edward, Edmund, and Henry of Almayne, each followed by his
immediate suite. The long line of coffins of French counts and
nobles, whose lives had in like manner been sacrificed, brought up
the rear; and alas! how many nameless dead must have been left in the
Each coffin when brought to the shore was placed in a boat, and with
muffled oars transplanted to the vessel ready to receive it, while
the troops remained drawn up on the shore. The procession that
ensued was almost more mournful. It was still of biers, but these
were not of the dead but of the living, and again the foremost was
the King of France, while next to him came his sister, the Queen of
Navarre. Edward went down to his litter, as it was brought on the
beach, and offered him his arm as he feebly stepped forth to enter
the boat. Philippe looked up to his tall cousin, and wrung his hands
as he murmured, "Alas! what is to be the end of all this?" Edward
made kind and cheerful reply, that things would look better when they
met at Trapani, and then almost lifted the young king into his boat.
Poor youth, he had not yet seen the end! He was yet to lose his
wife, his brother-in-law, and his uncle and aunt, ere he should see
his home again.
Richard and Hamlyn de Valence, as part of the Prince's train, had
moved in the procession; and they were for the rest of the day in
close attendance on their lord, conveying his numerous orders for the
embarkation of the troops on the morrow, on their return to Sicily.
It was not till night-fall that Richard returned to his tent, where
John of Dunster was sitting on the sand at the door, eagerly watching
for him. "Well, Jack, my lad, how hast thou sped?" asked he,
advancing. "Couldst see our doleful array?"
"Is it thou, indeed, this time?" said the boy, catching at his cloak.
"Why, who should it be?"
"Thy wraith! Thy double-ganger has been here Richard."
"What, dreaming again?"
'No no! I am well, I am strong. But this IS the land of
enchantment! Thou knowst it is. Did we not see a fleet of fairy
boats sailing on the sea? and a leaf eat up a fly here on this very
tent pole? And did not the Fay Morgaine show us towns and castles
and churches in the sea? Thou didst not call me light-headed then,
Richard; thou sawest it too!"
"But this wraith of mine! Where didst see it?"
"In this tent. I was lying on the sand, trying if I could make it
hold enough to build a castle of it, when the curtain was put back,
and there thou stoodest, Richard!"
"Well, did I speak or vanish?"
"Oh, thou spakest--I mean the THING spake, and it said, 'Is this the
tent of the young Lord of Montfort?' How now--what have I said?"
"Whom did he ask for?" demanded Richard breathlessly.
"Montfort--young Lord de Montfort!" replied John; "I know it was, for
he said it twice over."
"And what didst thou answer?"
"What should I answer? I said we had no Montforts here; for they
were all dishonoured traitors, slain and outlawed."
Richard could not restrain a sudden indignant exclamation that
startled the boy. "Every one says so! My father says so!" he
returned, somewhat defiantly.
"Not of the Earl," said Richard, recollecting himself.
"He said every one of the young Montforts was a foul traitor, and
man-sworn tyrant, as bad as King John had been ere the Charter,"
repeated John hotly, "and their father was as bad, since he would
give no redress. Thou knowst how they served us in Somerset and
"I have heard, I have heard," said Richard, cutting short the story,
and controlling his own burning pain, glad that the darkness
concealed his face. "No more of that; but tell me, what said this
"Thou thinkest it was really a stranger, and not thy wraith?" said
John anxiously. "I hope it was, for Dame Idonea said if it were a
wraith, it betokened that thou wouldst not--live long--and oh,
Richard! I could not spare thee!"
And the little fellow came nestling up to his friend's breast in an
access of tenderness, such as perhaps he would have disdained save in
"Did Dame Idonea see him?" asked Richard.
"No; but she came in soon after he had vanished."
"Vanished! What, like Fay Morgaine's castles? Tell me in sooth,
John; it imports me to know. What did this stranger, when thou
spakest thus of the House of Montfort?"
"He answered," said John; "he did not answer courteously--he said,
that I was a malapert little ass, and demanded again where this young
Montfort's tent was. So then I said, that if a Montfort dared to
show his traitor's face in this camp, the Prince would hang him as
high as Judas; for I wanted to be rid of him, Richard! it was so
dreadful to see thy face, and hear thy voice talking French, and
asking for dead traitors."
"French!" said Richard. "Methought thou knewst no French!"
"I--I have heard it long now, more's the pity," faltered John, "and--
and I'd have spoken anything to be rid of that shape."
"And wert thou rid? What befell then?"
"It cursed the Prince, and King, and all of them," said John with a
shudder; "it looked black and deadly, and I crossed myself, and said
the Blessed Name, and no doubt it writhed itself and went off in
brimstone and smoke, for I shut my eyes, and when I looked up again
it was gone!"
"Gone! Didst look after him?"
"Oh, no! Earthly things are all food for a brave man's sword," said
Master John, drawing himself up very valiantly, "but wraiths and
things from beneath--they do scare the very heart out of a man. And
I lay, I don't know how, till Dame Idonea came in; and she said
either the foul fiend had put on thy shape because he boded thee ill,
or it was one of the traitor brood looking for his like."
"Tell me, John," said Richard anxiously; "surely he was not in all
points like me. Had he our English white cross?"
"I cannot say as to the cross," said John; "meseemed it was all you--
yourself--and that was all--only I thought your voice was strange and
hollow--and--now I think of it--yes--he was bearded--brown bearded.
And," with a sudden thought, "stand up, prithee, in the opening of
the tent;" and then taking his post where he had been sitting at the
time of the apparition, "He was not so tall as thou art. Thy head
comes above the fold of the curtain, and his, I know, did not touch
it, for I saw the light over it. Then thou dost not think it was thy
wraith?" he added anxiously.
"I think my wraith would have measured me more exactly both in
stature and in age," said Richard lightly. "But how did Leonillo
comport himself? He brooks not a stranger in general; and dogs
cannot endure the presence of a spirit."
"Ah! but he fawned upon this one, and thrust his nose into his hand,"
said John, "and I think he must have run after him; for it was so
long ere he came back to me, that I had feared greatly he was gone,
and oh, Richard! then I must have gone too! I could never have met
you without Leonillo."
By this time Richard had little doubt that the visitor must have been
one of his brothers, Simon or Guy, who were not unlikely to be among
the Provencals, in the army of Charles of Anjou. He had not been
thought to resemble them as a boy, but he had observed how much more
alike brothers appear to strangers than they do to their own family;
and he knew by occasional observations from the Prince, as well as
from his brother Henry's recognition of his voice, that the old
Montfort characteristics must be strong in himself. He would not,
however, avow his belief to John of Dunster. Secrecy on his own
birth had been enjoined on him by his uncle the King; and
disobedience to the old man's most trifling commands was always
sharply resented by the Prince; nor was the boy's view of the House
of Montfort very favourable to such a declaration. Richard really
loved the brave little fellow, and trusted that some day when the
discovery must be made, it would be coupled with some exploit that
would show it was no name to be ashamed of. So he only told the boy
that he had no doubt the stranger was a foreign knight, who had once
known the old Leicester family; but bade him mention the circumstance
to no one. He feared, however, that the caution came too late, since
Dame Idonea was not only an inveterate gossip, but was likely to hold
in direful suspicion any one who had been inquired for by such a
The personal disappointment of having missed his brother was great.
Richard was very lonely. The Princes, and Hamlyn de Valence, were
the only persons who knew his secret, and both by Prince Edmund and
De Valence he was treated with indifference or dislike. Edward
himself, though the object of his fervent affection, and his
protector in all essentials, was of a reserved nature, and kept all
his attendants at a great distance. On very rare occasions, when his
feelings had been strongly stirred--as in the instance of his visit
to his uncle's death-chamber--he might sometimes unbend; and
momentary flashes from the glow of his warm deep heart went further
in securing the love and devotion of those around him, than would the
daily affability of a lower nature; but in ordinary life, towards all
concerned with him except his nearest relations, he was a strict,
cold, grave disciplinarian, ever just, though on the side of
severity, and stern towards the slightest neglect or breach of
observance, nor did he make any exception in favour of Richard. If
the youth seldom received one of his brief annihilating reproofs, it
was because they were scarcely ever merited; but he had experienced
that any want of exactitude in his duties was quite as severely
visited as if he had not been the Prince's close kinsman,
romantically rescued by him, and placed near his person by his
special desire. And Eleanor, with all her gentle courtesy and
kindness, was strictly withheld by her husband from pampering or
cockering his pages; nor did she ever transgress his will.
The atmosphere was perhaps bracing, but it was bleak: and there were
times when Richard regretted his acceptance of the Prince's offer,
and yearned after family ties, equality, and freedom. Simon and Guy
had never been kind to him, but at least they were his brothers, and
with them disguise and constraint would be over--he should, too, be
in communication with his mother and sister. He was strongly
inclined to cast in his lot with them, and end this life of secrecy,
and distrust from all around him save one, and his loyal love ill
requited even by that one. It grieved him keenly that one of his
brothers should have been repulsed from his tent; an absolutely
famished longing for fraternal intercourse gained possession of him,
and as he lay on his pallet that night in the dark, he even shed
tears at the thought of the greeting and embrace that he had missed.
Still he had hopes for the future. There must be meetings and
possibilities of inquiries passing between the three armies, and he
would let no opportunity go by. The next day, however, there was no
chance. The English troops were embarked in their vessels, and after
a short and prosperous passage were again landed at Trapani, the
western angle of Sicily. The French had sailed first, but were not
in harbour when the English came in; and the Sicilians, who had
brought up the rear, arrived the next day, but still there was no
tidings of the French. Towards the evening, however, the royal
vessel bearing Philippe III. came into harbour, and all the rest were
in sight, when at sunset a frightful storm arose, and the ships were
in fearful case. Many foundered, many were wrecked on the rocky
islets around the port, and the French army was almost as much
reduced in numbers as it had been by the Plague of Carthage.
Charles of Anjou remained himself in the town of Trapani, but knowing
the evils of crowding a small space with troops, he at once sent his
men inland, and Richard was again disappointed of the hope of seeing
or hearing of his brothers; for the Prince still forbade all
intercourse with the shattered remnant of the French army, justly
dreading that they might still carry about them the seeds of the
infection of the camp.
The three heads of the Crusade, however, met in the Castle of Trapani
to hold council on their future proceedings. The place was the
state-chamber of the castle.
Each prince had brought with him a single attendant, and the three
stood in waiting near the door, in full view of their lords, though
out of earshot. It was an opportunity that Richard could not bear to
miss of asking for his brothers, unheard by any of those English ears
who would be suspicious about his solicitude for the House of
Montfort. A lively-looking Neapolitan lad was the attendant of King
Charles; and in spite of all the perils of attempting conversation
while thus waiting, Richard had--while the princes were greeting one
another, and taking their seats--ventured the question, whether any
of the sons of the English Earl of Leicester were in the Sicilian
army. Of Earl of Leicester the Italian knew nothing; but Count of
Montfort was a more familiar sound. "Si, si, vero!" Sicily had rung
with it; and Count Rosso Aldobrandini, of the Maremma Toscana, had
given his only daughter and heiress to the banished English knight,
Guido di Monforte, who had served in the king's army as a Provencal.
Richard's heart beat high. Guy a well-endowed count, with a castle,
lands, and home! He would have asked where Guy now was, and how far
off was the Maremma; but the conference between the princes was
actually commencing, and silence became necessary on the part of
They could only hear the murmur of voices; but could discern plainly
the keen looks and animated gestures of Charles of Anjou, the sickly
sullen indifference of Philippe, and the majestic gravity of Edward,
whose noble head towered above the other two as if he were their
natural judge. Charles was, in fact, trying to persuade the others
to sail with him for Greece, and there turn their forces on the
unfortunate Michael Palaeologos, who had lately recovered
Constantinople, the Empire that Charles hoped to win for himself, the
favoured champion of Rome.
Philippe merely replied that he had had enough of crusading, he was
sick and weary, he must go home and bury his father, and get himself
crowned. Charles might be then seen trying a little hypocrisy; and
telling Philippe that his saintly father would only have wished to
speed him on the way of the Cross. Then that trumpet voice of
Edward, whose tones Richard never missed, answered, "What is the way
of the Cross, fair uncle?"
It was well known that Louis IX. had refused to crusade against
Christians, even Greek Christians, and Philippe soon sheltered
himself under the plea that had not at first occurred to his dull
mind. In effect, he laid particulars before his uncle, that quickly
made it plain that the French army was in too miserable a condition
to do anything but return home; and Charles then addressed his
persuasions to Edward--striving to convince him in the first place of
the sanctity of a war against Greek heretics, and when Edward proved
past being persuaded that arms meant for the recovery of the Holy
Sepulchre ought not to be employed against Christians who reverenced
it, he tried to demonstrate the uselessness of hoping to conquer the
Holy Land, even by such a Crusade as had been at first planned, far
less with the few attached to Edward's individual banner. Long did
the king argue on. His low voice was scarcely audible, even without
the words; but Edward's brief, ringing, almost scornful, replies,
never failed to reach Richard's ear, and the last of them was, "It
skills not, my fair uncle. For the Holy Land I am vowed to fight,
and thither would I go had I none with me but Fowen, my groom!"
And withal his eye lit on Richard, with a look of certainty of
response; of security that here was one to partake his genuine
ardour, and of refreshment in the midst of his disgust with the
selfish uncle and sluggish cousin. That look, that half smile, made
the youth's heart bound once more. Yes, with him he would go to the
ends of the earth! What was the freedom of Guy's castle, to the
following of such a lord and leader in such a cause?
Richard could have thrown himself at his feet, and poured forth
pledges of fidelity. But in ten minutes he was following home the
unapproachable, silent, cold warrior.
And the lack of any outlet for his aspirations turned them back upon
themselves, with a strange sense of bitterness and almost of
resentment. Leonillo alone, as the creature lay at his feet, and
looked up into his face with eyes of deep wistful meaning, seemed to
him to have any feeling for him; and Leonillo became the recipient of
many an outpouring of something between discontent and melancholy.
Leonillo, the sole remnant of his home! He burnt for that Holy Land
where he was to win the name and fame lacking to him; but there was
to be long delay.
Fain would the Prince have proceeded at once to Palestine; but the
Genoese, from whom, in the abeyance of the English navy, he had been
obliged to hire his transports, absolutely refused to sail for the
East until after the three winter months; and he was therefore
obliged to remain in Sicily. King Charles invited him to spend
Christmas at the court at Syracuse or Naples, in hopes, perhaps, of
persuading him to the Greek expedition; but Edward was far too much
displeased with the Angevin to accept his hospitality; recollecting,
perhaps, that such a sojourn had been little beneficial to his great-
uncle Coeur de Lion's army. He decided upon staying where he was, in
the remotest corner of Sicily, and keeping his three hundred
crusaders as much to themselves and to strict military discipline as
possible, maintaining them at his own cost, and avoiding as far as he
could all transactions with the cruel and violent Provencal
adventurers, with whom Charles had filled the island.
Thus Richard found his hopes of obtaining further intelligence about
his brothers entirely passing away. He did, indeed, venture on one
day saying to the Prince, "My Lord, I hear that my brother Guy hath
become a Neapolitan count!"
"A Tuscan robber would be nearer the mark!" coldly replied Edward.
"And," added Richard, "methought, while the host is in winter
quarters, I would venture on craving your license, my Lord, to visit
"Thou hast thy choice, Richard," answered the Prince, with grave
displeasure; "loyalty and honour with me, or lawlessness and violence
with thy brother. Both cannot be thine!"
And returning to his study of the Lais of Marie de France, he made it
evident that he would hear no more, and left Richard to a sharp
struggle; in which hot irritation and wounded feeling would have
carried him away at once from the stern superior who required the
sacrifice of all his family, and gave not a word of sympathy in
return. It was the crusading vow alone that detained the youth. He
could not throw away his pledge to the wars of the Cross, and it was
plain that if he went now to seek out Guy, he should never be allowed
to return to the crusading army. But that vow once fulfilled, proud
Edward should see, that not merely sufferance but friendliness was
needed to bind the son of his father's sister to his service. The
brother at Bednall Green was right, this bondage was worse than
beggary. Nor, under the influence of these feelings, had Richard's
service the alacrity and affection for which it had once been
remarkable: the Prince rebuked his short-comings unsparingly, and
thus added to the sense of injury that had caused them; Hamlyn de
Valence sneered, and Dame Idonea took good care to point out both the
youth's neglects and his sullenness, and to whisper significantly
that she did not wonder, considering the stock he came of. A
soothing word or gentle excuse from the kind-hearted Princess were
the only gleams of comfort that rendered the present state of things
Just after Christmas arrived a vessel with reinforcements from home.
Among them came a small body of Hospitaliers, with the novice Raynal
at their head, now a full-blown knight, in dazzling scarlet and
white, as Sir Reginald Ferrers. Richard at once recognized him, when
he came to present himself to the Prince, and was very desirous of
learning whether he knew aught of that other brother, so mysteriously
hidden in obscurity. Sir Raynal on his side seemed to share the
desire; he exchanged a friendly glance with the page, and when the
formality of the reception was over sought him out, saying, "I have a
greeting for you, Master Fowen."
"From Sir Robert Darcy?" asked Richard. "How fares it with the kind
"Excellent well! Nay, nothing fares amiss with Father Robert!" said
the young knight, smiling. "Everything is the very best that could
have befallen him--to hear him speak. He is the very sunshine of the
Spital, and had he been ordered on this Crusade, I think all the
hamlets round would have risen to withhold him."
"Ah!" said Richard, hoping he was acting indifference; "said he aught
of the little maiden with the blind father?"
"Pretty Bessee and Blind Hal of Bednall Green? Verily, that was the
purport of my message. The poor knave hath been sorely sick and more
cracked than ever this autumn; insomuch that Father Robert spent
whole nights with him; and though he be better now, and as much in
his senses as e'er he will be, such another access is like to make an
end of him. Now, Father Robert saith that you, Sir Page, know who
the poor man is by birth, and that he prays you to send him word what
had best be done with the child, in case either of his death or of
his getting so frenzied as to be unable to take care of her."
"Send him word!" repeated Richard in perplexity.
"We shall certainly have some one returning soon to the Spital,"
replied Sir Raynal. "Indeed, methinks some of the princes will be
like to return, for the old King of the Romans is failing fast, and
King Henry implored that the Prince of Almayne would come to hearten
"Then must I write to Sir Robert?" said Richard; "mine is scarce a
message for word of mouth."
"So he said it was like to be," returned the knight, "and he took
thought to send you a slip of parchment, knowing, he said, that such
things are not wont to be found in a crusader's budget. Moreover, if
ink be wanting, he bade me tell you that there's a fish in these
seas, with many arms, and very like the foul fiend, that carries a
bag of ink as good as any scrivener s.
"I have seen the monster," said Richard, who had often been down to
the beach to see the unlading of the fishermen's boats, and to share
little John of Dunster's unfailing marvel, that the Mediterranean
should produce such outlandish creatures, so alien to his Bristol
And the very next time the boats came in, Richard made his way to the
shore, on the beautiful, rocky, broken coast; and presently
encountered a sepia, which fully justified Sir Robert's comparison,
lying at the bottom of a boat. The fisherman intended it for his own
dinner, when all his choicer fish should have gone to supply the
Friday's meal of the English chivalry; and he was a good deal amazed
when the young gentleman, making his Provencal as like Sicilian as he
could, began to traffic with him for it, and at last made him
understand that it was only its ink-bag that he wanted.
The said ink, secured in a shell, was brought home by Richard,
together with a couple of the largest sea-bird's quills that he could
find--and which he shaped with his dagger, as best he might, in
remembrance of Father Adam de Marisco's writing lessons. He
meditated what should be the language of his letter, which was not
likely to be secure from the eyes of the few who could read it; and
finally decided that English was the tongue known to the fewest
readers, who, if they knew letters at all, were sure to be acquainted
with French and Latin.
On a strip of parchment, then, about nine inches long and three wide,
he proceeded to indite, in upright cramped letters, with many
contractions, nearly in such terms as these -
REVEREND AND KNIGHTLY FATHER,
The good ghostly father and knight, Sir Raynald Ferrers, hath borne
to me your tidings of my brother's sickness, and of all your goodness
to him--whereof I pray that our blessed Lady and good St. John may
reward you, for I can only pray for you. Touching his poor little
daughter, in case of his death or frenzy, which the Saints of their
mercy forefend, I would entreat you of your goodness to place her in
some nunnery, but without making known her name and quality until my
return; so Heaven bring me home safe. But an if I should be slain in
this Eastern land, then were it most for the little one's good to
present her to the gracious lady Princess, by whom she would be most
lovingly and naturally cared for; and would be more safe than with
such as might shun to own her rights of blood and heirship. Commend
me to my brother, if so be that he cares to hear of me; and tell him
that Guy hath wedded the lady of a castle in the land of Italy. And
so praying you, ghostly father, for your blessing, I greet you well,
and rest your grateful bedesman and servant,
RICHARD OF LEICESTER.
Given at the Prince's camp at Drepanum, in the realm of Sicilia, on
the octave of the Epiphany, in the year of grace MCCLXX.; and so our
Lord have you heartily in His keeping.
Letter-writing was a mighty task; and Richard's extemporary
implements were not of the best. He laboured hard over his
composition, kneeling against a chest in the tent. When at length he
raised his head, he encountered a face full of the most utter
amazement. Little John of Dunster had come into the tent, and stood
gazing at him with open eyes and gaping mouth, as if he were
perpetrating an incantation. Richard could not help laughing.
"Why, Jack, dost think I am framing a spell for thee?"
"Writing!" gasped John, relieving his distended mouth by at length
"Wherefore not? Did not I see the chaplain teaching thee to write at
"Ay--but that was when I was a babe! Writing! Why, my father never
"But the Prince does. Thou hast seen him write. Come now," added
Richard: "if thou wilt, I will help thee to write a letter to send
thy greetings home to Dunster. Thy father and mother will be right
glad to hear thou hast 'scaped that African fever."
"They!--They'd think me no better than a French monk!" said John.
"And none of them could read it either! I'll never write! My
grandsire only set his cross to the great charter!"
And John retreated--in fear perhaps that Richard would sully his
manhood with a writing lesson!
The letter was rolled up in a scroll, bound with a silken thread, and
committed to the charge of Sir Raynald Ferrers, who was going shortly
to be commandery of his Order at Castel San Giovanni, whence he had
no doubt of being able to send the letter safely to Sir Robert Darcy,
at the Grand Priory.
It would perhaps have been more expeditious to have intrusted the
letter to one of the suite of Prince Henry of Almayne, who had been
recalled by the tidings of the state of his father's health; but
Richard dreaded betraying his brother's secret too much to venture on
confiding the missive to any of this party--none of whom were indeed
likely to wish to oblige him. Hamlyn de Valence was going with Henry
as his esquire; and his absence seemed to Richard like the beginning
of better days.
CHAPTER IX--ASH WEDNESDAY
"Mostrocci un ombra da l' un canto sola
Dicendo 'Colui feese in grembo a Dio
Lo cuor che'n su Tamigi ancor si cola.'"
Shrovetide had come, and the Prince had, before leaving Trapani, been
taking some share in the entertainments of the Carnival. Personally,
his grave reserve made gaieties distasteful to him; and the
disastrous commencement of the Crusade weighed on his spirits. But
when state and show were necessary, he provided for them with royal
bounty and magnificence, and caused them to be regulated with the
admirable taste of that age of exceeding beauty in which he lived.
Thus, in this festal season, banquets were provided, and military
shows took place, for the benefit of the Sicilian nobility and of the
citizens of Trapani, on such a scale, that the English rose high in
general esteem; and many were the secret wishes that Edmund of
Lancaster rather than Charles of Anjou had been able to make good the
grant from the Pope.
Splendid were the displays, and no slight toil did they involve on
the part of the immediate train of the Prince, few in number as they
were, and destitute of the appliances of the resident court. Richard
hurrying hither and thither, and waiting upon every one, had little
of the diversion of the affair; but he would willingly have taken
treble the care and toil in the relief it was to be free from the
prying mistrustful eyes of Hamlyn de Valence. Looking after little
John of Dunster was, however, no small part of his trouble; the
urchin was so certain to get into some mischief if left to himself--
now treading on a lady's train, now upsetting a flagon of wine, now
nearly impaling himself upon the point of a whole spitful of ortolans
that were being handed round to the company, now becoming uncivilly
deaf upon his French ear. Altogether, it was a relief to Richard's
mind when he stumbled upon the little fellow fast asleep, even though
it was in the middle of the Princess's violet velvet and ermine
mantle, which she had laid down in order to tread a stately measure
with Sire Guillaume de Porceles.
After all Richard's exertions that evening, it was no wonder that the
morning found him fast asleep at the unexampled hour of eight! His
wakening was a strange one. His little fellow-page was standing
beside him with a strange frightened yet important air.
"What is the matter, John? It is late? Is the Prince gone to Mass?
Has he missed me?" cried Richard, starting up in dismay, for
unpunctuality was a great offence with Edward.
"He is gone to Mass," said John, "but, before he comes back," he came
near and lowered his voice, "Hob Longbow sent me to say you had
"Flee! Boy, why should I flee? Are YOUR senses fleeing?"
"O Richard," cried John, his face clearing up, "then it is not true!
You are not one of the traitor Montforts!"
"If I were a hundred Montforts, what has that to do with it?"
"Then all is well," exclaimed the boy. "I said you were no such
thing! I'll tell Hob he lied in his throat."
"If he said I was a traitor, verily he did; but as to being a
Montfort--But, how now, John, what means all this?"
"Then it is so! O Richard, Richard, you cannot be one of them! You
cannot have written that letter to warn them to murder Prince Henry."
"To murder Prince Henry!" Richard stood transfixed. "Not the
Prince's little son!"
"Oh no, Prince Henry of Almayne! At Viterbo! Hamlyn de Valence saw
it. He is come back. It was in the Cathedral. O Richard--at the
elevation of the Host! Guy and Simon de Montfort fell on him,
stabbed him to the heart, and rushed out. Then they came back again,
and dragged him by the hair of his head into the mire, and shouted
that so their father had been dragged through the streets of Evesham.
And then they went off to the Maremma! And," continued the boy
breathlessly, "Hob Long-bow is on guard, and he bade me tell you,
that for love of your father he will let you pass; and then you can
hide; if only you can go ere the Prince comes forth."
"Hide! Wherefore should I hide? This is most horrible, but it is no
deed of mine!" said Richard. "Who dares to think it is?"
"Then you are none of them! You had no part in it! I shall tell Hob
he is a villain--"
"Stay," said Richard, laying a detaining hand on the boy. "Why does
Hob think me in danger? Is anything stirring against me?"
"They all--all of poor Prince Henry's meine, that are come back with
Hamlyn--say that you are a Montfort too, and--oh! do not look so
fierce!--that you sent a letter to warn your brethren where to meet,
and fall on the Prince. And the murderers being fled, they are keen
to have your life; and, Richard, you know I saw you write the
"That you saw me write a letter, is as certain as that my name is
Montfort," said Richard, "but I am not therefore leagued with
traitors or murderers! In the church, saidst thou? Oh, well that
the Prince forbade me to visit Guy!"
"Then you will not flee?"
"No, forsooth. I will stay and prove my innocence."
"But you are a Montfort! And I saw you write the letter."
"Did you speak of my having written the letter?" asked Richard,
The boy hung his head, and muttered something about Dame Idonea.
By this time, even if Richard had thought of flight, it would have
been impossible. Two archers made their presence apparent at the
entrance of the tent, and in brief gruff tones informed Richard that
the Prince required his presence. The space between his tent and the
royal pavilion was short, but in those few steps Richard had time to
glance over the dangers of his position, and take up his resolution
though with a certain stunned sense that nothing could be before the
member of a proscribed family, but failure, suspicion, and ruin.
The two brothers, Edward and Edmund, with the Earl of Gloucester, and
their other chief councillors, were assembled; and there were looks
of deep concern on the faces of all, making Edward's more than ever
like a rigid marble statue; while Edmund had evidently been weeping
bitterly, though his features were full of fierce indignation.
Hamlyn de Valence, and a few other members of the murdered Prince's
suite, stood near in deep mourning suits.
"Richard de Montfort," said Prince Edward, looking at him with a
sorrowful reproachful sternness that went to his heart, "we have sent
for you to answer for yourself, on a grave charge. You have heard of
that which has befallen?"
"I have heard, my Lord, of a foul crime which my soul abhors. I
trust none present here think me capable of sharing in it! Whoever
dares to accuse me, shall be answered by my sword!" and he glanced
fiercely at Hamlyn.
"Hold!" said Edward severely, "no one is so senseless as to accuse
you of taking actual part in a crime that took place beyond the sea;
but there is only too much reason to believe that you have been
tampered with by your brothers."
Then, as his brother Edmund made some suggestion to him, he added,
"Is John de Mohun of Dunster here?"
"Yea, my Lord," said the little boy, coming forward, with a flush on
his face, and a bold though wistful look, "but verily Richard is no
traitor, be he who he may!"
"That is not what we wished to ask of you," said the Prince, too sad
and earnest to be amused even for a moment. "Tell us whom you said,
even now, you had seen in the tent you shared with him in Africa."
"I said I had seen his wraith," said John.
No smile lighted upon the Prince's features; they were as serious as
those of the boy, as he commented, "His likeness--his exact likeness-
"Ay," said the boy; "but Richard proved to me after, that it had been
less tall, and was bearded likewise. So I hoped it did not bode him
"Worse, I fear, than if it had in sooth been his double," said
Gloucester to Prince Edmund. The Prince added the question whether
this visitor had spoken; and John related the inquiry for Richard by
the name of Montfort, and his own reply, which elicited a murmur of
amused applause among the bystanders.
The Prince, however, continued in the same grave manner to draw from
the little witness his account of Richard's injunction to secresy;
and then asked about the letter-writing, of which John gave his plain
account. The Prince then said, "Speak now, Hamlyn."
"This, then, I have to add, my Lord, that I, as all the world,
remarked that Richard de Montfort consorted much with Sir Reginald de
Ferrieres, who, as we all remember, is the son of a family deeply
concerned in the Mad Parliament. By Sir Reginald, on his arrival at
Castel San Giovanni, a messenger is despatched, bearing letters to
the Hospital at Florence, and it is immediately after his arrival
there, that the two Montforts speed from the Maremma to the unhappy
and bloody Mass at Viterbo."
You hear, Richard!" said the Prince. "I bade you choose between me
and your brothers. Had you believed me that you could not serve
both, it had been better for you. I credit not that you incited them
to the assassination; but your tidings led them to perpetrate it. I
cannot retain the spy of the Montforts in my camp."
"My Lord," said Richard, at last finding space for speech, "I deny
all collusion with my brothers. I have neither seen, spoken with,
nor sent to them by letter nor word."
"Then to whom was this letter?" demanded the Prince.
"To Sir Robert Darcy, the Grand Prior of England," answered Richard.
A murmur of incredulous amazement was heard.
"The purport?" continued Edward.
"That, my Lord, it consorts not with my duty to tell."
"Look here, Richard," interposed Gilbert of Gloucester, "this is an
unlikely tale. You can have no cause for secresy, save in connection
with these brothers; and if you will point to some way of clearing
yourself of being art and part in this foul act of murder, you may be
sent scot free from the camp; but if you wilfully maintain this
denial, what can we do but treat you as a traitor? No obstinacy!
What can a lad like you have to say to good old Sir Robert Darcy,
that all the world might not know?"
"My Lord of Gloucester," said Richard, "I am bound in honour not to
reveal the matters between me and Sir Robert; I can only declare on
the faith of a Christian gentleman that I have neither had, nor
attempted to have, any dealings with either of my brothers, Guy or
Simon; and if any man says I have, I will prove his falsehood on his
body." And Richard flung down his glove before the Prince.
At the same moment Hamlyn de Valence sprang forward.
"Then, Richard de Montfort, I take up the gage. I give thee the lie
in thy throat, and will prove on thy body that thou art a man-sworn
traitor, in league with thy false brethren."
"I commit me to the judgment of God," said Richard, looking upwards.
"My Lord," said Hamlyn, "have we your permission to fight out the
"You have," said Edward, "since to that holy judgment Richard hath
But the Prince looked far from contented with the appeal. He allowed
the preliminaries of place and time to be fixed without his
interposition; and when the council broke up, he fixed his clear deep
eyes upon Richard in a manner which seemed to the boy to upbraid him
with the want of confidence, for which, however, he would not
condescend to ask. Richard felt that, let the issue of the combat be
what it would, he had lost that full trust on the part of the Prince,
which had hitherto been his one drop of comfort; and if he were
dismissed from the camp, he should be more than ever desolate, for
his soul could scarce yet bring itself to grasp the horror of the
crime of his brothers.
The combat could not take place for two days--waiting, on one, in
order that Hamlyn might have time to rest, and recover his full
strength after his voyage, and the next, because it was Ash
Wednesday. In the meantime Richard was left solitary; under no
restraint, but universally avoided. The judicial combat did not make
him uneasy; the two youths had often measured their strength
together, and though Hamlyn was the elder, Richard was the taller,
and had inherited something of the Plantagenet frame, so remarkable
in those two
Lords of the biting axe and beamy spear,
"wide conquering Edward" and "Lion Richard"; and each believed in the
righteousness of his own cause sufficiently to have implicit
confidence that the right would be shown on his side.
In fact, Richard soon understood that though Prince Edward, with a
sense of the value of definite evidence far in advance of the time,
and befitting the English Justinian, had only allowed the charge to
be brought against him which could in a manner be substantiated, yet
that the general belief went much further. Proved to be a Montfort,
and to have written a letter, he was therefore convicted, by
universal consent, of a league with his brothers for the revenge of
their house; to have instigated the assassination at Viterbo, and to
be only biding his time for the like act at Trapani. Even the Prince
was deeply offended by his silence, and imputed it to no good motive;
trust and affection were gone, and Richard felt no tie to retain him
where he was, save his duty as a crusader. Let him fail in the
combat, and the best he could look for would be to be ignominiously
branded and expelled: let him gain, and he much doubted whether,
though the ordeal of battle was always respected, he would regain his
former position. With keen suffering and indignation, he rebelled
against Edward's harshness and distrust. He--who had brought him
there--who ought to have known him better! Moreover, there was the
crushing sense of the guilt of his brothers; guilt most horrible in
its sacrilegious audacity, and doubly shocking to the feelings of a
family where the grim sanctity of the first Simon de Montfort, and
the enlightened devotion of the second, formed such a contrast to the
savage outrage of him who now bore their name. Richard, as with bare
feet and ashes whitening his dark locks he knelt on the cold stones
of the dark Norman church at Trapani, wept hot and bitter tears of
humiliation over the family crimes that had brought them so low;
prayed in an agony for repentance for his brothers; and for himself,
some opening for expiating their sin against at least the generous
royal family. "O! could I but die for my Prince, and know that he
forgave and they repented!"
Only when on his way back to the camp was he sensible of the murmurs
of censure at his hypocrisy in joining the penitential procession at
all. Dame Idonea, in a complete suit of sackcloth, was informing her
friends that she had made a vow not to wash her face till the whole
adder brood of Montfort had been crushed; and that she trusted to see
the beginning of justice done to-morrow. She had offered a candle to
St. James to that effect, hoping to induce him to turn away his
patronage from the family.
Every one, knight or squire, shrank away from Richard, if he did but