Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 3 St. Bride’s Cross

  • St. Bride’s cross stood a little way back from Shoreby, on the skirts o_unstall Forest. Two roads met: one, from Holywood across the forest; one,
  • that road from Risingham down which we saw the wrecks of a Lancastrian arm_leeing in disorder. Here the two joined issue, and went on together down th_ill to Shoreby; and a little back from the point of junction, the summit of _ittle knoll was crowned by the ancient and weather-beaten cross.
  • Here, then, about seven in the morning, Dick arrived. It was as cold as ever;
  • the earth was all grey and silver with the hoarfrost, and the day began t_reak in the east with many colours of purple and orange.
  • Dick set him down upon the lowest step of the cross, wrapped himself well i_is tabard, and looked vigilantly upon all sides. He had not long to wait.
  • Down the road from Holywood a gentleman in very rich and bright armour, an_earing over that a surcoat of the rarest furs, came pacing on a splendi_harger. Twenty yards behind him followed a clump of lances; but these halte_s soon as they came in view of the trysting-place, while the gentleman in th_ur surcoat continued to advance alone.
  • His visor was raised, and showed a countenance of great command and dignity,
  • answerable to the richness of his attire and arms. And it was with som_onfusion of manner that Dick arose from the cross and stepped down the ban_o meet his prisoner.
  • “I thank you, my lord, for your exactitude,” he said, louting very low. “Wil_t please your lordship to set foot to earth?”
  • “Are ye here alone, young man?” inquired the other,
  • “I was not so simple,” answered Dick; “and, to be plain with your lordship,
  • the woods upon either hand of this cross lie full of mine honest fellows lyin_n their weapons.”
  • “Y’ ’ave done wisely,” said the lord. “It pleaseth me the rather, since las_ight ye fought foolhardily, and more like a salvage Saracen lunatic than an_hristian warrior. But it becomes not me to complain that had the undermost.”
  • “Ye had the undermost indeed, my lord, since ye so fell,” returned Dick; “bu_ad the waves not holpen me, it was I that should have had the worst. Ye wer_leased to make me yours with several dagger marks, which I still carry. An_n fine, my lord, methinks I had all the danger, as well as all the profit, o_hat little blind-man’s mellay on the beach.”
  • “Y’ are shrewd enough to make light of it, I see,” returned the stranger.
  • “Nay, my lord, not shrewd,” replied Dick, “in that I shoot at no advantage t_yself. But when, by the light of this new day, I see how stout a knight hat_ielded, not to my arms alone, but to fortune, and the darkness, and the surf
  • - and how easily the battle had gone otherwise, with a soldier so untried an_ustic as myself \- think it not strange, my lord, if I feel confounded wit_y victory.”
  • “Ye speak well,” said the stranger. “Your name?”
  • “My name, an’t like you, is Shelton,” answered Dick.
  • “Men call me the Lord Foxham,” added the other.
  • “Then, my lord, and under your good favour, ye are guardian to the sweetes_aid in England,” replied Dick; “and for your ransom, and the ransom of suc_s were taken with you on the beach, there will be no uncertainty of terms. _ray you, my lord, of your goodwill and charity, yield me the hand of m_istress, Joan Sedley; and take ye, upon the other part, your liberty, th_iberty of these your followers, and (if ye will have it) my gratitude an_ervice till I die.”
  • “But are ye not ward to Sir Daniel? Methought, if y’ are Harry Shelton’s son,
  • that I had heard it so reported,” said Lord Foxham.
  • “Will it please you, my lord, to alight? I would fain tell you fully who I am,
  • how situate, and why so bold in my demands. Beseech you, my lord, take plac_pon these steps, hear me to a full end, and judge me with allowance.”
  • And so saying, Dick lent a hand to Lord Foxham to dismount; led him up th_noll to the cross; installed him in the place where he had himself bee_itting; and standing respectfully before his noble prisoner, related th_tory of his fortunes up to the events of the evening before.
  • Lord Foxham listened gravely, and when Dick had done, “Master Shelton,” h_aid, “ye are a most fortunate-unfortunate young gentleman; but what fortun_’ ’ave had, that ye have amply merited; and what unfortune, ye have noway_eserved. Be of a good cheer; for ye have made a friend who is devoid neithe_f power nor favour. For yourself, although it fits not for a person of you_irth to herd with outlaws, I must own ye are both brave and honourable; ver_angerous in battle, right courteous in peace; a youth of excellen_isposition and brave bearing. For your estates, ye will never see them til_he world shall change again; so long as Lancaster hath the strong hand, s_ong shall Sir Daniel enjoy them for his own. For my ward, it is anothe_atter; I had promised her before to a gentleman, a kinsman of my house, on_amley; the promise is old - ”
  • “Ay, my lord, and now Sir Daniel hath promised her to my Lord Shoreby,”
  • interrupted Dick. “And his promise, for all it is but young, is still th_ikelier to be made good.”
  • “’Tis the plain truth,” returned his lordship. “And considering, moreover,
  • that I am your prisoner, upon no better composition than my bare life, an_ver and above that, that the maiden is unhappily in other hands, I will s_ar consent. Aid me with your good fellows” -
  • “My lord,” cried Dick, “they are these same outlaws that ye blame me fo_onsorting with.”
  • “Let them be what they will, they can fight,” returned Lord Foxham. “Help me,
  • then; and if between us we regain the maid, upon my knightly honour, she shal_arry you!”
  • Dick bent his knee before his prisoner; but he, leaping up lightly from th_ross, caught the lad up and embraced him like a son.
  • “Come,” he said, “an y’ are to marry Joan, we must be early friends.”