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Chapter 27

  • > Fond wretch! and what canst thou relate,
  • >
  • > But deeds of sorrow, shame, and sin?
  • >
  • > Thy deeds are proved—thou know'st thy fate;
  • >
  • > But come, thy tale—begin—begin.
  • >
  • > * * * * *
  • >
  • > But I have griefs of other kind,
  • >
  • > Troubles and sorrows more severe;
  • >
  • > Give me to ease my tortured mind,
  • >
  • > Lend to my woes a patient ear;
  • >
  • > And let me, if I may not find
  • >
  • > A friend to help—find one to hear.
  • >
  • > Crabbe's Hall of Justice
  • When Urfried had with clamours and menaces driven Rebecca back to th_partment from which she had sallied, she proceeded to conduct the unwillin_edric into a small apartment, the door of which she heedfully secured. The_etching from a cupboard a stoup of wine and two flagons, she placed them o_he table, and said in a tone rather asserting a fact than asking a question,
  • "Thou art Saxon, father—Deny it not," she continued, observing that Cedri_astened not to reply; "the sounds of my native language are sweet to min_ars, though seldom heard save from the tongues of the wretched and degrade_erfs on whom the proud Normans impose the meanest drudgery of this dwelling.
  • Thou art a Saxon, father—a Saxon, and, save as thou art a servant of God, _reeman.—Thine accents are sweet in mine ear."
  • "Do not Saxon priests visit this castle, then?" replied Cedric; "it were, methinks, their duty to comfort the outcast and oppressed children of th_oil."
  • "They come not—or if they come, they better love to revel at the boards o_heir conquerors," answered Urfried, "than to hear the groans of thei_ountrymen—so, at least, report speaks of them—of myself I can say little.
  • This castle, for ten years, has opened to no priest save the debauched Norma_haplain who partook the nightly revels of Front-de-Boeuf, and he has bee_ong gone to render an account of his stewardship.—But thou art a Saxon—_axon priest, and I have one question to ask of thee."
  • "I am a Saxon," answered Cedric, "but unworthy, surely, of the name of priest.
  • Let me begone on my way—I swear I will return, or send one of our fathers mor_orthy to hear your confession."
  • "Stay yet a while," said Urfried; "the accents of the voice which thou heares_ow will soon be choked with the cold earth, and I would not descend to i_ike the beast I have lived. But wine must give me strength to tell th_orrors of my tale." She poured out a cup, and drank it with a frightfu_vidity, which seemed desirous of draining the last drop in the goblet. "I_tupifies," she said, looking upwards as she finished her drought, "but i_annot cheer—Partake it, father, if you would hear my tale without sinkin_own upon the pavement." Cedric would have avoided pledging her in thi_minous conviviality, but the sign which she made to him expressed impatienc_nd despair. He complied with her request, and answered her challenge in _arge wine-cup; she then proceeded with her story, as if appeased by hi_omplaisance.
  • "I was not born," she said, "father, the wretch that thou now seest me. I wa_ree, was happy, was honoured, loved, and was beloved. I am now a slave, miserable and degraded—the sport of my masters' passions while I had ye_eauty—the object of their contempt, scorn, and hatred, since it has passe_way. Dost thou wonder, father, that I should hate mankind, and, above all, the race that has wrought this change in me? Can the wrinkled decrepit ha_efore thee, whose wrath must vent itself in impotent curses, forget she wa_nce the daughter of the noble Thane of Torquilstone, before whose frown _housand vassals trembled?"
  • "Thou the daughter of Torquil Wolfganger!" said Cedric, receding as he spoke;
  • "thou—thou—the daughter of that noble Saxon, my father's friend and companio_n arms!"
  • "Thy father's friend!" echoed Urfried; "then Cedric called the Saxon stand_efore me, for the noble Hereward of Rotherwood had but one son, whose name i_ell known among his countrymen. But if thou art Cedric of Rotherwood, wh_his religious dress? —hast thou too despaired of saving thy country, an_ought refuge from oppression in the shade of the convent?"
  • "It matters not who I am," said Cedric; "proceed, unhappy woman, with thy tal_f horror and guilt!—Guilt there must be—there is guilt even in thy living t_ell it."
  • "There is—there is," answered the wretched woman, "deep, black, damnin_uilt,—guilt, that lies like a load at my breast —guilt, that all th_enitential fires of hereafter cannot cleanse.—Yes, in these halls, staine_ith the noble and pure blood of my father and my brethren—in these ver_alls, to have lived the paramour of their murderer, the slave at once and th_artaker of his pleasures, was to render every breath which I drew of vita_ir, a crime and a curse."
  • "Wretched woman!" exclaimed Cedric. "And while the friends of thy father—whil_ach true Saxon heart, as it breathed a requiem for his soul, and those of hi_aliant sons, forgot not in their prayers the murdered Ulrica—while al_ourned and honoured the dead, thou hast lived to merit our hate an_xecration—lived to unite thyself with the vile tyrant who murdered th_earest and dearest—who shed the blood of infancy, rather than a male of th_oble house of Torquil Wolfganger should survive—with him hast thou lived t_nite thyself, and in the hands of lawless love!"
  • "In lawless hands, indeed, but not in those of love!" answered the hag; "lov_ill sooner visit the regions of eternal doom, than those unhallowe_aults.—No, with that at least I cannot reproach myself—hatred to Front-de- Boeuf and his race governed my soul most deeply, even in the hour of hi_uilty endearments."
  • "You hated him, and yet you lived," replied Cedric; "wretch! was there n_oniard—no knife—no bodkin!—Well was it for thee, since thou didst prize suc_n existence, that the secrets of a Norman castle are like those of the grave.
  • For had I but dreamed of the daughter of Torquil living in foul communion wit_he murderer of her father, the sword of a true Saxon had found thee out eve_n the arms of thy paramour!"
  • "Wouldst thou indeed have done this justice to the name of Torquil?" sai_lrica, for we may now lay aside her assumed name of Urfried; "thou art the_he true Saxon report speaks thee! for even within these accursed walls, where, as thou well sayest, guilt shrouds itself in inscrutable mystery, eve_here has the name of Cedric been sounded—and I, wretched and degraded, hav_ejoiced to think that there yet breathed an avenger of our unhappy nation.—_lso have had my hours of vengeance—I have fomented the quarrels of our foes, and heated drunken revelry into murderous broil—I have seen their blood flow—_ave heard their dying groans!—Look on me, Cedric—are there not still left o_his foul and faded face some traces of the features of Torquil?"
  • "Ask me not of them, Ulrica," replied Cedric, in a tone of grief mixed wit_bhorrence; "these traces form such a resemblance as arises from the graves o_he dead, when a fiend has animated the lifeless corpse."
  • "Be it so," answered Ulrica; "yet wore these fiendish features the mask of _pirit of light when they were able to set at variance the elder Front-de- Boeuf and his son Reginald! The darkness of hell should hide what followed, but revenge must lift the veil, and darkly intimate what it would raise th_ead to speak aloud. Long had the smouldering fire of discord glowed betwee_he tyrant father and his savage son—long had I nursed, in secret, th_nnatural hatred—it blazed forth in an hour of drunken wassail, and at his ow_oard fell my oppressor by the hand of his own son—such are the secrets thes_aults conceal! —Rend asunder, ye accursed arches," she added, looking u_owards the roof, "and bury in your fall all who are conscious of the hideou_ystery!"
  • "And thou, creature of guilt and misery," said Cedric, "what became thy lot o_he death of thy ravisher?"
  • "Guess it, but ask it not.—Here—here I dwelt, till age, premature age, ha_tamped its ghastly features on my countenance —scorned and insulted where _as once obeyed, and compelled to bound the revenge which had once such ampl_cope, to the efforts of petty malice of a discontented menial, or the vain o_nheeded curses of an impotent hag—condemned to hear from my lonely turret th_ounds of revelry in which I once partook, or the shrieks and groans of ne_ictims of oppression."
  • "Ulrica," said Cedric, "with a heart which still, I fear, regrets the los_eward of thy crimes, as much as the deeds by which thou didst acquire tha_eed, how didst thou dare to address thee to one who wears this robe?
  • Consider, unhappy woman, what could the sainted Edward himself do for thee, were he here in bodily presence? The royal Confessor was endowed by heave_ith power to cleanse the ulcers of the body, but only God himself can cur_he leprosy of the soul."
  • "Yet, turn not from me, stern prophet of wrath," she exclaimed, "but tell me, if thou canst, in what shall terminate these new and awful feelings that burs_n my solitude—Why do deeds, long since done, rise before me in new an_rresistible horrors? What fate is prepared beyond the grave for her, to who_od has assigned on earth a lot of such unspeakable wretchedness? Better had _urn to Woden, Hertha, and Zernebock—to Mista, and to Skogula, the gods of ou_et unbaptized ancestors, than endure the dreadful anticipations which have o_ate haunted my waking and my sleeping hours!"
  • "I am no priest," said Cedric, turning with disgust from this miserabl_icture of guilt, wretchedness, and despair; "I am no priest, though I wear _riest's garment."
  • "Priest or layman," answered Ulrica, "thou art the first I have seen fo_wenty years, by whom God was feared or man regarded; and dost thou bid m_espair?"
  • "I bid thee repent," said Cedric. "Seek to prayer and penance, and mayest tho_ind acceptance! But I cannot, I will not, longer abide with thee."
  • "Stay yet a moment!" said Ulrica; "leave me not now, son of my father'_riend, lest the demon who has governed my life should tempt me to aveng_yself of thy hard-hearted scorn—Thinkest thou, if Front-de-Boeuf found Cedri_he Saxon in his castle, in such a disguise, that thy life would be a lon_ne?—Already his eye has been upon thee like a falcon on his prey."
  • "And be it so," said Cedric; "and let him tear me with beak and talons, ere m_ongue say one word which my heart doth not warrant. I will die a Saxon—tru_n word, open in deed—I bid thee avaunt!—touch me not, stay me not!—The sigh_f Front-de-Boeuf himself is less odious to me than thou, degraded an_egenerate as thou art."
  • "Be it so," said Ulrica, no longer interrupting him; "go thy way, and forget, in the insolence of thy superority, that the wretch before thee is th_aughter of thy father's friend.—Go thy way —if I am separated from mankind b_y sufferings—separated from those whose aid I might most justly expect—no_ess will I be separated from them in my revenge!—No man shall aid me, but th_ars of all men shall tingle to hear of the deed which I shall dare t_o!—Farewell!—thy scorn has burst the last tie which seemed yet to unite me t_y kind—a thought that my woes might claim the compassion of my people."
  • "Ulrica," said Cedric, softened by this appeal, "hast thou borne up an_ndured to live through so much guilt and so much misery, and wilt thou no_ield to despair when thine eyes are opened to thy crimes, and when repentanc_ere thy fitter occupation?"
  • "Cedric," answered Ulrica, "thou little knowest the human heart. To act as _ave acted, to think as I have thought, requires the maddening love o_leasure, mingled with the keen appetite of revenge, the proud consciousnes_f power; droughts too intoxicating for the human heart to bear, and ye_etain the power to prevent. Their force has long passed away—Age has n_leasures, wrinkles have no influence, revenge itself dies away in impoten_urses. Then comes remorse, with all its vipers, mixed with vain regrets fo_he past, and despair for the future! —Then, when all other strong impulse_ave ceased, we become like the fiends in hell, who may feel remorse, bu_ever repentance.—But thy words have awakened a new soul within me —Well has_hou said, all is possible for those who dare to die!—Thou hast shown me th_eans of revenge, and be assured I will embrace them. It has hitherto share_his wasted bosom with other and with rival passions—henceforward it shal_ossess me wholly, and thou thyself shalt say, that, whatever was the life o_lrica, her death well became the daughter of the noble Torquil. There is _orce without beleaguering this accursed castle—hasten to lead them to th_ttack, and when thou shalt see a red flag wave from the turret on the easter_ngle of the donjon, press the Normans hard—they will then have enough to d_ithin, and you may win the wall in spite both of bow and mangonel.—Begone, _ray thee—follow thine own fate, and leave me to mine."
  • Cedric would have enquired farther into the purpose which she thus darkl_nnounced, but the stern voice of Front-de-Boeuf was heard, exclaiming, "Wher_arries this loitering priest? By the scallop-shell of Compostella, I wil_ake a martyr of him, if he loiters here to hatch treason among my domestics!"
  • "What a true prophet," said Ulrica, "is an evil conscience! But heed hi_ot—out and to thy people—Cry your Saxon onslaught, and let them sing thei_ar-song of Rollo, if they will; vengeance shall bear a burden to it."
  • As she thus spoke, she vanished through a private door, and Reginald Front-de- Boeuf entered the apartment. Cedric, with some difficulty, compelled himsel_o make obeisance to the haughty Baron, who returned his courtesy with _light inclination of the head.
  • "Thy penitents, father, have made a long shrift—it is the better for them, since it is the last they shall ever make. Hast thou prepared them for death?"
  • "I found them," said Cedric, in such French as he could command, "expectin_he worst, from the moment they knew into whose power they had fallen."
  • "How now, Sir Friar," replied Front-de-Boeuf, "thy speech, methinks, smacks o_ Saxon tongue?"
  • "I was bred in the convent of St Withold of Burton," answered Cedric.
  • "Ay?" said the Baron; "it had been better for thee to have been a Norman, an_etter for my purpose too; but need has no choice of messengers. That S_ithold's of Burton is a howlet's nest worth the harrying. The day will soo_ome that the frock shall protect the Saxon as little as the mail-coat."
  • "God's will be done," said Cedric, in a voice tremulous with passion, whic_ront-de-Boeuf imputed to fear.
  • "I see," said he, "thou dreamest already that our men-at-arms are in th_efectory and thy ale-vaults. But do me one cast of thy holy office, and, com_hat list of others, thou shalt sleep as safe in thy cell as a snail withi_is shell of proof."
  • "Speak your commands," said Cedric, with suppressed emotion.
  • "Follow me through this passage, then, that I may dismiss thee by th_ostern."
  • And as he strode on his way before the supposed friar, Front-de-Boeuf thu_chooled him in the part which he desired he should act.
  • "Thou seest, Sir Friar, yon herd of Saxon swine, who have dared to enviro_his castle of Torquilstone—Tell them whatever thou hast a mind of th_eakness of this fortalice, or aught else that can detain them before it fo_wenty-four hours. Meantime bear thou this scroll—But soft—canst read, Si_riest?"
  • "Not a jot I," answered Cedric, "save on my breviary; and then I know th_haracters, because I have the holy service by heart, praised be Our Lady an_t Withold!"
  • "The fitter messenger for my purpose.—Carry thou this scroll to the castle o_hilip de Malvoisin; say it cometh from me, and is written by the Templa_rian de Bois-Guilbert, and that I pray him to send it to York with all th_peed man and horse can make. Meanwhile, tell him to doubt nothing, he shal_ind us whole and sound behind our battlement—Shame on it, that we should b_ompelled to hide thus by a pack of runagates, who are wont to fly even at th_lash of our pennons and the tramp of our horses! I say to thee, priest, contrive some cast of thine art to keep the knaves where they are, until ou_riends bring up their lances. My vengeance is awake, and she is a falcon tha_lumbers not till she has been gorged."
  • "By my patron saint," said Cedric, with deeper energy than became hi_haracter, "and by every saint who has lived and died in England, you_ommands shall be obeyed! Not a Saxon shall stir from before these walls, if _ave art and influence to detain them there."
  • "Ha!" said Front-de-Boeuf, "thou changest thy tone, Sir Priest, and speakes_rief and bold, as if thy heart were in the slaughter of the Saxon herd; an_et thou art thyself of kindred to the swine?"
  • Cedric was no ready practiser of the art of dissimulation, and would at thi_oment have been much the better of a hint from Wamba's more fertile brain.
  • But necessity, according to the ancient proverb, sharpens invention, and h_uttered something under his cowl concerning the men in question bein_xcommunicated outlaws both to church and to kingdom.
  • "'Despardieux'," answered Front-de-Boeuf, "thou hast spoken the very truth—_orgot that the knaves can strip a fat abbot, as well as if they had been bor_outh of yonder salt channel. Was it not he of St Ives whom they tied to a_ak-tree, and compelled to sing a mass while they were rifling his mails an_is wallets? —No, by our Lady—that jest was played by Gualtier of Middleton, one of our own companions-at-arms. But they were Saxons who robbed the chape_t St Bees of cup, candlestick and chalice, were they not?"
  • "They were godless men," answered Cedric.
  • "Ay, and they drank out all the good wine and ale that lay in store for many _ecret carousal, when ye pretend ye are but busied with vigils an_rimes!—Priest, thou art bound to revenge such sacrilege."
  • "I am indeed bound to vengeance," murmured Cedric; "Saint Withold knows m_eart."
  • Front-de-Boeuf, in the meanwhile, led the way to a postern, where, passing th_oat on a single plank, they reached a small barbican, or exterior defence, which communicated with the open field by a well-fortified sallyport.
  • "Begone, then; and if thou wilt do mine errand, and if thou return hither whe_t is done, thou shalt see Saxon flesh cheap as ever was hog's in the shamble_f Sheffield. And, hark thee, thou seemest to be a jolly confessor—come hithe_fter the onslaught, and thou shalt have as much Malvoisie as would drench th_hole convent."
  • "Assuredly we shall meet again," answered Cedric.
  • "Something in hand the whilst," continued the Norman; and, as they parted a_he postern door, he thrust into Cedric's reluctant hand a gold byzant, adding, "Remember, I will fly off both cowl and skin, if thou failest in th_urpose."
  • "And full leave will I give thee to do both," answered Cedric, leaving th_ostern, and striding forth over the free field with a joyful step, "if, whe_e meet next, I deserve not better at thine hand."—Turning then back toward_he castle, he threw the piece of gold towards the donor, exclaiming at th_ame time, "False Norman, thy money perish with thee!"
  • Front-de-Boeuf heard the words imperfectly, but the action wa_uspicious—"Archers," he called to the warders on the outward battlements,
  • "send me an arrow through yon monk's frock!—yet stay," he said, as hi_etainers were bending their bows, "it avails not—we must thus far trust hi_ince we have no better shift. I think he dares not betray me—at the worst _an but treat with these Saxon dogs whom I have safe in kennel.—Ho! Gile_ailor, let them bring Cedric of Rotherwood before me, and the other churl, his companion—him I mean of Coningsburgh —Athelstane there, or what call the_im? Their very names are an encumbrance to a Norman knight's mouth, and have, as it were, a flavour of bacon—Give me a stoup of wine, as jolly Prince Joh_aid, that I may wash away the relish—place it in the armoury, and thithe_ead the prisoners."
  • His commands were obeyed; and, upon entering that Gothic apartment, hung wit_any spoils won by his own valour and that of his father, he found a flagon o_ine on the massive oaken table, and the two Saxon captives under the guard o_our of his dependants. Front-de-Boeuf took a long drought of wine, and the_ddressed his prisoners;—for the manner in which Wamba drew the cap over hi_ace, the change of dress, the gloomy and broken light, and the Baron'_mperfect acquaintance with the features of Cedric, (who avoided his Norma_eighbours, and seldom stirred beyond his own domains,) prevented him fro_iscovering that the most important of his captives had made his escape.
  • "Gallants of England," said Front-de-Boeuf, "how relish ye your entertainmen_t Torquilstone?—Are ye yet aware what your 'surquedy' and
  • 'outrecuidance'[[25]](footnotes.xml#footnote_25) merit, for scoffing at th_ntertainment of a prince of the House of Anjou?—Have ye forgotten how y_equited the unmerited hospitality of the royal John? By God and St Dennis, a_e pay not the richer ransom, I will hang ye up by the feet from the iron bar_f these windows, till the kites and hooded crows have made skeletons o_ou!—Speak out, ye Saxon dogs—what bid ye for your worthless lives?—How sa_ou, you of Rotherwood?" "Not a doit I," answered poor Wamba—"and for hangin_p by the feet, my brain has been topsy-turvy, they say, ever since the biggi_as bound first round my head; so turning me upside down may peradventur_estore it again." "Saint Genevieve!" said Front-de-Boeuf, "what have we go_ere?" And with the back of his hand he struck Cedric's cap from the head o_he Jester, and throwing open his collar, discovered the fatal badge o_ervitude, the silver collar round his neck. "Giles—Clement—dogs and varlets!"
  • exclaimed the furious Norman, "what have you brought me here?" "I think I ca_ell you," said De Bracy, who just entered the apartment. "This is Cedric'_lown, who fought so manful a skirmish with Isaac of York about a question o_recedence." "I shall settle it for them both," replied Front-de-Boeuf; "the_hall hang on the same gallows, unless his master and this boar o_oningsburgh will pay well for their lives. Their wealth is the least they ca_urrender; they must also carry off with them the swarms that are besettin_he castle, subscribe a surrender of their pretended immunities, and liv_nder us as serfs and vassals; too happy if, in the new world that is about t_egin, we leave them the breath of their nostrils.—Go," said he to two of hi_ttendants, "fetch me the right Cedric hither, and I pardon your error fo_nce; the rather that you but mistook a fool for a Saxon franklin." "Ay, but,"
  • said Wamba, "your chivalrous excellency will find there are more fools tha_ranklins among us." "What means the knave?" said Front-de-Boeuf, lookin_owards his followers, who, lingering and loath, faltered forth their belief, that if this were not Cedric who was there in presence, they knew not what wa_ecome of him. "Saints of Heaven!" exclaimed De Bracy, "he must have escape_n the monk's garments!" "Fiends of hell!" echoed Front-de-Boeuf, "it was the_he boar of Rotherwood whom I ushered to the postern, and dismissed with m_wn hands!—And thou," he said to Wamba, "whose folly could overreach th_isdom of idiots yet more gross than thyself—I will give thee holy orders—_ill shave thy crown for thee! —Here, let them tear the scalp from his head, and then pitch him headlong from the battlements—Thy trade is to jest, cans_hou jest now?" "You deal with me better than your word, noble knight,"
  • whimpered forth poor Wamba, whose habits of buffoonery were not to be overcom_ven by the immediate prospect of death; "if you give me the red cap yo_ropose, out of a simple monk you will make a cardinal." "The poor wretch,"
  • said De Bracy, "is resolved to die in his vocation.—Front-de-Boeuf, you shal_ot slay him. Give him to me to make sport for my Free Companions.—How says_hou, knave? Wilt thou take heart of grace, and go to the wars with me?" "Ay, with my master's leave," said Wamba; "for, look you, I must not slip collar"
  • (and he touched that which he wore) "without his permission." "Oh, a Norma_aw will soon cut a Saxon collar." said De Bracy. "Ay, noble sir," said Wamba,
  • "and thence goes the proverb— {verse 'Norman saw on English oak, On Englis_eck a Norman yoke; Norman spoon in English dish, And England ruled as Norman_ish; Blithe world to England never will be more, Till England's rid of al_he four.'" {verse "Thou dost well, De Bracy," said Front-de-Boeuf, "to stan_here listening to a fool's jargon, when destruction is gaping for us! Sees_hou not we are overreached, and that our proposed mode of communicating wit_ur friends without has been disconcerted by this same motley gentleman tho_rt so fond to brother? What views have we to expect but instant storm?" "T_he battlements then," said De Bracy; "when didst thou ever see me the grave_or the thoughts of battle? Call the Templar yonder, and let him fight bu_alf so well for his life as he has done for his Order—Make thou to the wall_hyself with thy huge body—Let me do my poor endeavour in my own way, and _ell thee the Saxon outlaws may as well attempt to scale the clouds, as th_astle of Torquilstone; or, if you will treat with the banditti, why no_mploy the mediation of this worthy franklin, who seems in such dee_ontemplation of the wine-flagon?—Here, Saxon," he continued, addressin_thelstane, and handing the cup to him, "rinse thy throat with that nobl_iquor, and rouse up thy soul to say what thou wilt do for thy liberty." "Wha_ man of mould may," answered Athelstane, "providing it be what a man o_anhood ought.—Dismiss me free, with my companions, and I will pay a ransom o_ thousand marks." "And wilt moreover assure us the retreat of that scum o_ankind who are swarming around the castle, contrary to God's peace and th_ing's?" said Front-de-Boeuf. "In so far as I can," answered Athelstane, "_ill withdraw them; and I fear not but that my father Cedric will do his bes_o assist me." "We are agreed then," said Front-de-Boeuf—"thou and they are t_e set at freedom, and peace is to be on both sides, for payment of a thousan_arks. It is a trifling ransom, Saxon, and thou wilt owe gratitude to th_oderation which accepts of it in exchange of your persons. But mark, thi_xtends not to the Jew Isaac." "Nor to the Jew Isaac's daughter," said th_emplar, who had now joined them. "Neither," said Front-de-Boeuf, "belong t_his Saxon's company." "I were unworthy to be called Christian, if they did,"
  • replied Athelstane: "deal with the unbelievers as ye list." "Neither does th_ansom include the Lady Rowena," said De Bracy. "It shall never be said I wa_cared out of a fair prize without striking a blow for it." "Neither," sai_ront-de-Boeuf, "does our treaty refer to this wretched Jester, whom I retain, that I may make him an example to every knave who turns jest into earnest."
  • "The Lady Rowena," answered Athelstane, with the most steady countenance, "i_y affianced bride. I will be drawn by wild horses before I consent to par_ith her. The slave Wamba has this day saved the life of my father Cedric—_ill lose mine ere a hair of his head be injured." "Thy affianced bride?—Th_ady Rowena the affianced bride of a vassal like thee?" said De Bracy; "Saxon, thou dreamest that the days of thy seven kingdoms are returned again. I tel_hee, the Princes of the House of Anjou confer not their wards on men of suc_ineage as thine." "My lineage, proud Norman," replied Athelstane, "is draw_rom a source more pure and ancient than that of a beggarly Frenchman, whos_iving is won by selling the blood of the thieves whom he assembles under hi_altry standard. Kings were my ancestors, strong in war and wise in council, who every day feasted in their hall more hundreds than thou canst numbe_ndividual followers; whose names have been sung by minstrels, and their law_ecorded by Wittenagemotes; whose bones were interred amid the prayers o_aints, and over whose tombs minsters have been builded." "Thou hast it, D_racy," said Front-de-Boeuf, well pleased with the rebuff which his companio_ad received; "the Saxon hath hit thee fairly." "As fairly as a captive ca_trike," said De Bracy, with apparent carelessness; "for he whose hands ar_ied should have his tongue at freedom.—But thy glibness of reply, comrade,"
  • rejoined he, speaking to Athelstane, "will not win the freedom of the Lad_owena." To this Athelstane, who had already made a longer speech than was hi_ustom to do on any topic, however interesting, returned no answer. Th_onversation was interrupted by the arrival of a menial, who announced that _onk demanded admittance at the postern gate. "In the name of Saint Bennet, the prince of these bull-beggars," said Front-de-Boeuf, "have we a real mon_his time, or another impostor? Search him, slaves—for an ye suffer a secon_mpostor to be palmed upon you, I will have your eyes torn out, and hot coal_ut into the sockets." "Let me endure the extremity of your anger, my lord,"
  • said Giles, "if this be not a real shaveling. Your squire Jocelyn knows hi_ell, and will vouch him to be brother Ambrose, a monk in attendance upon th_rior of Jorvaulx." "Admit him," said Front-de-Boeuf; "most likely he bring_s news from his jovial master. Surely the devil keeps holiday, and th_riests are relieved from duty, that they are strolling thus wildly throug_he country. Remove these prisoners; and, Saxon, think on what thou has_eard." "I claim," said Athelstane, "an honourable imprisonment, with due car_f my board and of my couch, as becomes my rank, and as is due to one who i_n treaty for ransom. Moreover, I hold him that deems himself the best of you, bound to answer to me with his body for this aggression on my freedom. Thi_efiance hath already been sent to thee by thy sewer; thou underliest it, an_rt bound to answer me—There lies my glove." "I answer not the challenge of m_risoner," said Front-de-Boeuf; "nor shalt thou, Maurice de Bracy.—Giles," h_ontinued, "hang the franklin's glove upon the tine of yonder branche_ntlers: there shall it remain until he is a free man. Should he then presum_o demand it, or to affirm he was unlawfully made my prisoner, by the belt o_aint Christopher, he will speak to one who hath never refused to meet a fo_n foot or on horseback, alone or with his vassals at his back!" The Saxo_risoners were accordingly removed, just as they introduced the monk Ambrose, who appeared to be in great perturbation. "This is the real 'Deus vobiscum',"
  • said Wamba, as he passed the reverend brother; "the others were bu_ounterfeits." "Holy Mother," said the monk, as he addressed the assemble_nights, "I am at last safe and in Christian keeping!" "Safe thou art,"
  • replied De Bracy; "and for Christianity, here is the stout Baron Reginal_ront-de-Boeuf, whose utter abomination is a Jew; and the good Knight Templar, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, whose trade is to slay Saracens—If these are not goo_arks of Christianity, I know no other which they bear about them." "Ye ar_riends and allies of our reverend father in God, Aymer, Prior of Jorvaulx,"
  • said the monk, without noticing the tone of De Bracy's reply; "ye owe him ai_oth by knightly faith and holy charity; for what saith the blessed Sain_ugustin, in his treatise 'De Civitate Dei'———" "What saith the devil!"
  • interrupted Front-de-Boeuf; "or rather what dost thou say, Sir Priest? We hav_ittle time to hear texts from the holy fathers." "'Sancta Maria!'" ejaculate_ather Ambrose, "how prompt to ire are these unhallowed laymen!—But be i_nown to you, brave knights, that certain murderous caitiffs, casting behin_hem fear of God, and reverence of his church, and not regarding the bull o_he holy see, 'Si quis, suadende Diabolo'———" "Brother priest," said th_emplar, "all this we know or guess at —tell us plainly, is thy master, th_rior, made prisoner, and to whom?" "Surely," said Ambrose, "he is in th_ands of the men of Belial, infesters of these woods, and contemners of th_oly text, 'Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets naught of evil.'"
  • "Here is a new argument for our swords, sirs," said Front-de-Boeuf, turning t_is companions; "and so, instead of reaching us any assistance, the Prior o_orvaulx requests aid at our hands? a man is well helped of these laz_hurchmen when he hath most to do!—But speak out, priest, and say at once, what doth thy master expect from us?" "So please you," said Ambrose, "violen_ands having been imposed on my reverend superior, contrary to the hol_rdinance which I did already quote, and the men of Belial having rifled hi_ails and budgets, and stripped him of two hundred marks of pure refined gold, they do yet demand of him a large sum beside, ere they will suffer him t_epart from their uncircumcised hands. Wherefore the reverend father in Go_rays you, as his dear friends, to rescue him, either by paying down th_ansom at which they hold him, or by force of arms, at your best discretion."
  • "The foul fiend quell the Prior!" said Front-de-Boeuf; "his morning's drough_as been a deep one. When did thy master hear of a Norman baron unbuckling hi_urse to relieve a churchman, whose bags are ten times as weighty as ours?—An_ow can we do aught by valour to free him, that are cooped up here by te_imes our number, and expect an assault every moment?" "And that was what _as about to tell you," said the monk, "had your hastiness allowed me time.
  • But, God help me, I am old, and these foul onslaughts distract an aged man'_rain. Nevertheless, it is of verity that they assemble a camp, and raise _ank against the walls of this castle." "To the battlements!" cried De Bracy,
  • "and let us mark what these knaves do without;" and so saying, he opened _atticed window which led to a sort of bartisan or projecting balcony, an_mmediately called from thence to those in the apartment —"Saint Dennis, bu_he old monk hath brought true tidings! —They bring forward mantelets an_avisses,[[26]](footnotes.xml#footnote_26) and the archers muster on th_kirts of the wood like a dark cloud before a hailstorm." Reginald Front-de- Boeuf also looked out upon the field, and immediately snatched his bugle; and, after winding a long and loud blast, commanded his men to their posts on th_alls. "De Bracy, look to the eastern side, where the walls are lowest —Nobl_ois-Guilbert, thy trade hath well taught thee how to attack and defend, loo_hou to the western side—I myself will take post at the barbican. Yet, do no_onfine your exertions to any one spot, noble friends!—we must this day b_verywhere, and multiply ourselves, were it possible, so as to carry by ou_resence succour and relief wherever the attack is hottest. Our numbers ar_ew, but activity and courage may supply that defect, since we have only to d_ith rascal clowns." "But, noble knights," exclaimed Father Ambrose, amids_he bustle and confusion occasioned by the preparations for defence, "wil_one of ye hear the message of the reverend father in God Aymer, Prior o_orvaulx?—I beseech thee to hear me, noble Sir Reginald!" "Go patter th_etitions to heaven," said the fierce Norman, "for we on earth have no time t_isten to them.—Ho! there, Anselm I see that seething pitch and oil are read_o pour on the heads of these audacious traitors—Look that the cross-bowme_ack not bolts.[[27]](footnotes.xml#footnote_27) —Fling abroad my banner wit_he old bull's head—the knaves shall soon find with whom they have to do thi_ay!" "But, noble sir," continued the monk, persevering in his endeavours t_raw attention, "consider my vow of obedience, and let me discharge myself o_y Superior's errand." "Away with this prating dotard," said Front-de Boeuf,
  • "lock him up in the chapel, to tell his beads till the broil be over. It wil_e a new thing to the saints in Torquilstone to hear aves and paters; the_ave not been so honoured, I trow, since they were cut out of stone."
  • "Blaspheme not the holy saints, Sir Reginald," said De Bracy, "we shall hav_eed of their aid to-day before yon rascal rout disband." "I expect little ai_rom their hand," said Front-de-Boeuf, "unless we were to hurl them from th_attlements on the heads of the villains. There is a huge lumbering Sain_hristopher yonder, sufficient to bear a whole company to the earth." Th_emplar had in the meantime been looking out on the proceedings of th_esiegers, with rather more attention than the brutal Front-de-Boeuf or hi_iddy companion. "By the faith of mine order," he said, "these men approac_ith more touch of discipline than could have been judged, however they com_y it. See ye how dexterously they avail themselves of every cover which _ree or bush affords, and shun exposing themselves to the shot of our cross- bows? I spy neither banner nor pennon among them, and yet will I gage m_olden chain, that they are led on by some noble knight or gentleman, skilfu_n the practice of wars." "I espy him," said De Bracy; "I see the waving of _night's crest, and the gleam of his armour. See yon tall man in the blac_ail, who is busied marshalling the farther troop of the rascaille yeomen—b_aint Dennis, I hold him to be the same whom we called 'Le Noir Faineant', wh_verthrew thee, Front-de-Boeuf, in the lists at Ashby." "So much the better,"
  • said Front-de-Boeuf, "that he comes here to give me my revenge. Some hildin_ellow he must be, who dared not stay to assert his claim to the tourney priz_hich chance had assigned him. I should in vain have sought for him wher_nights and nobles seek their foes, and right glad am I he hath here show_imself among yon villain yeomanry." The demonstrations of the enemy'_mmediate approach cut off all farther discourse. Each knight repaired to hi_ost, and at the head of the few followers whom they were able to muster, an_ho were in numbers inadequate to defend the whole extent of the walls, the_waited with calm determination the threatened assault.