Beorn called his men together and distributed them along the rear wall, whil_ulf made a fresh examination of the front. He had before noticed that grea_iles of stone in blocks from fifty to a hundred pounds in weight were pile_long by the parapet, in readiness to hurl down upon any foe attempting t_scend the road, while in the courtyard below was an immense reserve of thes_issiles. He placed twenty of his men here, and posted the other ten a_entries on the side walls, and then went down through the passage to Osgod.
The bridge was entirely demolished as he had directed, with the exception of _ingle plank, which could be thrown over in a moment. Osgod had closed th_ate, and had fastened a rope from the top of the turret to the plank, so tha_his could be hauled up, without those engaged in the operation being expose_o missiles from the other side of the chasm.
"One feels almost ashamed at being so safe," Osgod said, as Wulf joined him o_he turret. "It does not give one the chance of a fight."
"You have had one good fight to-day, Osgod, and can do without another. _hould be glad if we did not have to strike a blow till we see Gurth's banne_oming down the valley."
"We have done very well," Osgod agreed; "and I should be quite contented if _ad but come across that rascal who nearly smothered me in the bog."
"You need not bear malice against him, Osgod; for if he had not deserted u_nd led Llewellyn's force away to the spot where he left us, we should not b_asters of the place as at present, and it would have been a terrible busines_ad we been obliged to take this stronghold by storm."
"That is true enough, master; except by hunger or by a surprise, such as w_arried out, I don't see how the place is to be taken if stoutly defended.
There is no reason why the Welsh should have been in such a hurry to return, for they must know as well as we do that there is but little chance of thei_etting in again. They have come to a halt now down there, and half of the_ave thrown themselves on the ground like a pack of tired hounds."
"I have no fear whatever of an open attack, Osgod. They can see for themselve_hat the bridge is destroyed, and I do not think they will dream of coming u_hat road, which, as they know, we can sweep with stones from above. If the_ttack openly at all, it will be by the wall we scaled. If they make twent_adders such as we had they may think they might gain a footing, especially a_heir archers high among the trees would be able to fire down on the defender_f the wall. But what I am really afraid of is that there may be some secre_assage."
"Do you think so?" Osgod said, startled. "Where could it come from?"
"Well, Osgod, you see they have cut this winding road up the rock and hav_ade the tunnel hence to the courtyard, so the chiefs have had abundance o_abour at their disposal. They would naturally wish to provide a means o_scape if the castle were besieged, and like to fall by force or famine; moreover it would enable them to send out messengers or receive messages fro_ithout. A passage four feet high and two feet wide would suffice. They ma_ave driven such a passage from some place in the wood behind and it may com_p somewhere in the courtyard, perhaps in one of the little huts along th_ide. Of course the entrance would be covered here by a stone, and would b_idden among the bushes at the other end. Still I do not think that this i_ikely, for a hostile force would almost certainly take up its post in tha_ood, and attack the place in the rear. If there is such a passage I thin_hat it must open somewhere on the face of the rock, on one side or the other.
It looks to us almost perpendicular, but there may be inequalities by whic_ctive men might ascend at some point or other. For a considerable distance w_ould see there were tufts of shrubs growing here and there, and one of thes_ay conceal a small opening. From this point a staircase may have been drive_p into the castle."
"That would be very awkward, master, if it were so."
"It would indeed. To-night all the force except the sentries shall gather i_he castle, where ten men by turns shall keep guard, one or two being place_n the lower chambers. In this way we shall be safe; for before more tha_hree or four can enter we should be all on foot, and as they can but come u_n single file, could repulse them without difficulty. Tomorrow we will lowe_en down with ropes from the walls, and examine every clump of bushes growin_n the face of the rock If we find any signs of a path or entrance we shal_ave no difficulty in discovering where it enters into the castle, and ca_ffectually block it up. I shall then feel much more comfortable than I do a_resent."
"I was looking forward to a good night's sleep," Osgod grumbled, "but you_dea, master, has quite done away with that. If I went off I should dream tha_ had one of those Welsh wolves at my throat. However, it is a good thing tha_ou thought of it."
"I think, my lord," one of the soldiers said, "there are a number of our me_mong the Welsh. I can make out helmets and shields, and I think many are cla_n leather jerkins."
Wulf looked attentively.
"Yes, there are certainly shields and helmets," he said. "I fear there is n_oubt they have overtaken Oswald's levies."
"And have made them prisoners?"
Wulf shook his head. "They never take prisoners, you know. I fear they hav_lain them all and possessed themselves of their arms and clothes. In no othe_ay can there be Saxon shields and helmets among them."
"By St. Nicholas!" Osgod exclaimed, "it is too bad that we should be standin_ere doing nothing. Why doesn't Llewellyn attack us instead of keeping his me_aping there at the castle?"
"Because at present he can do nothing, and is not fool enough to throw awa_undreds of lives; besides, he must know that his mother and children are i_ur hands."
Presently a white flag was raised among the Welsh. Wulf had expected this, an_ad ordered a white cloth to be held in readiness to raise in reply. As soo_s this flew out to the wind three men were seen to advance with the fla_owards the foot of the road up to the castle. Wulf at once sent for the tw_nterpreters to join him.
"Shall you let them come up, master?" Osgod asked. "They are as treacherous a_nakes. See how that boy led us astray in the bog."
"You cannot get that boy out of your head, Osgod," Wulf laughed. "There is n_onceivable way by which three men could recapture this castle. There i_othing for them to learn. They know its strength and everything connecte_ith it, and they can see for themselves that we have destroyed the bridge. _hall be glad to hear what they have to say. Llewellyn himself is, mos_ikely, one of the number."
The little party mounted the road until they stood on the platform from whic_he bridge started. One of them was a tall figure, dressed in armour, and wit_ong black hair flowing down from under his helmet over his shoulders. Wulf a_nce, from the descriptions he had heard of the chief's appearance, recognize_im as Llewellyn ap Rhys.
"I would speak with the commander of the Saxons who have, in my absence, take_y castle by treachery."
"I am the commander," Wulf said.
The Welshman's fingers clenched, and he glanced furiously at the young Saxon.
By a great effort, however, he restrained his passion, and said courteously:
"I am Llewellyn ap Rhys. To whom have I the pleasure of speaking?"
"I am Wulf of Steyning, prince. I don't know altogether that I have taken you_astle by treachery, indeed I claim to have won it by fair fighting. You wen_ut with your force to attack me among the hills, and during your absence _ttacked and captured your castle. I will do your garrison credit to say the_ought bravely in spite of the surprise. I would gladly have given the_uarter, but they refused my offers, and, save a few wounded, whom I allowe_he women to carry off, died to a man fighting bravely. No women were hurt o_nsulted, save those who took up arms and fought among the men, and it was n_ault of ours that they were killed. Methinks that in your incursions int_ngland you have not always shown the same mercy."
Llewellyn was silent for a minute. He had indeed never shown any pity in hi_orays, but had never expected that his castle and family would be in th_ands of the Saxons.
"I learn," he said at last, "from the women, that my mother and my childre_re alive in your hands, and I thank you for the honorable treatment I hea_hat they have received."
"They are safe and well," Wulf replied. "We Saxons do not massacre women an_hildren in cold blood. They will be honourably treated until I can hand the_ver to the care of Earl Gurth, who will doubtless send them to England a_ostages."
"I shall try to win back my castle," Llewellyn said. "May I be sure tha_hatever happens they will be safe?"
"You may. Even were you forcing your way into the castle I will guarantee tha_o hair of their heads shall be injured. And now, prince, it is my turn t_uestion. I see Saxon helmets and shields among your followers. Whence com_hey?"
A cloud passed over Llewellyn's face. He had not reckoned on their bein_bserved from the castle. Concealment was now out of question, and he sai_oldly: "I defeated a party of your countrymen this morning. They came wit_ostile intent into my territory, and they have been destroyed." Although h_ad expected the answer, Wulf was shocked at the confirmation of his fears.
Llewellyn, indeed, had fallen on Oswald's levies and annihilated them soo_fter daybreak. Having no idea that a party had separated from them during th_ight, he was returning exulting in the idea that he had destroyed the whol_f the invaders, when the news had reached him of the capture of his castle.
Wulf was silent. "It is the fortune of war," he said gravely. "It is not to m_hat you have to reckon for the deed, but with Earl Gurth, for whom I hol_his castle."
Llewellyn made no reply, but with a wave of his hand turned and went down th_ill again.
"I am even more than before convinced, Osgod, that there is a secret passage.
I was watching him closely when the interpreter told him that I should han_is mother and children over to Gurth. He pressed his lips together, and hi_ace lighted up with exultation for a moment."
"What do you think he came here for, master?"
"He came here to assure himself if possible that their lives would not b_acrificed in the event of his attacking."
"It is a pity you told him they would be safe," Osgod said.
"But they will be safe, and even if we are surprised and slain I would no_hat Llewellyn should say that it was only the suddenness of his attack tha_aved their lives. I will place two of our best men at their door with order_hat come what may they are to prevent anyone from entering. But I don't thin_t will come to that. Should the passage enter into the castle, as, if i_xists, I have no doubt it does, we shall be prepared to deal with them, if i_pens elsewhere we shall have all our force save a few sentries assembled, an_hough all the walls fall into their hands, we ought to be able to hold i_uccessfully till Gurth arrives to our rescue."
Wulf returned to the castle, and then joined Beorn at his post on the wal_acing the wood. He communicated to him his ideas as to the probable existenc_f a secret passage.
"We must provide a mode of retreat for your men on guard here, Beorn, in cas_he Welsh enter by either of these yards instead of by the castle. Thes_lanking towers at the angles of the walls cut off all passage. We wil_onstruct bridges with two or three planks across these towers, so that you_entries can retreat from the rear wall to the next, and again on to the inne_all. The doors between the courtyards shall be closed, so that should the_nter either of these outer courts they will be delayed, and your men wil_ave plenty of time to join us in the defence of the last wall. However, I a_onvinced the castle itself will be the scene of action. Five sentries will b_nough to place on this wall. I will put two on each of the cross walls, s_hat if your men give the alarm it will be passed along speedily. I shal_emove the last plank of the bridge at nightfall, and have Osgod and four me_n the turret and two on the wall above them. We shall therefore have fifty- five men in the castle, and that should be ample. They can keep watch an_atch, so there will be over twenty-five men under arms, and ready to thro_hemselves upon the Welsh wherever they may enter."
These arrangements were carried out. At ten o'clock all lights wer_xtinguished, save a torch burning in each room on the ground floor. Th_loors and walls had been carefully examined and sounded, but nothin_uspicious had been discovered. Four men were told off to each room except th_reat hall, where twenty were gathered in reserve. Half were to keep watch, but all were to lie down. The orders to those who were to keep awake wer_trict If they heard a noise or saw a stone move they were to keep silent, until two or three men had stepped out, then they were to give the alarm, lea_p, and throw themselves upon them.
"Were the alarm given," he said, "before they fairly issued out the ston_ight be moved back again, and it would give us immense trouble before w_ould demolish it or find the secret of the spring. Therefore, let them get _ooting first."
From time to time either Beorn or Wulf got up and went noiselessly round t_he different rooms to see that the watch was vigilant. As had been arranged, each of those on guard raised a hand as they entered a room, so as to sho_hat they were awake. Wulf did not expect that any attempt would be mad_efore midnight. After that hour he sat in a corner of the dais, leaning as i_sleep, but with his eyes wandering round the room watching every stone, an_is ears listening for the faintest sound. He had no feeling of sleepines_hatever, his senses being all strung up to the highest pitch.
From time to time he held up a hand, and ten others were at once elevated, showing that the watchers were as vigilant as himself. It was, he thought, about one o'clock when he heard a faint creaking sound. It did not seem to hi_o be in the hall itself, but in a room adjoining it, the doors having al_een left open. He rose to his feet, touched Beorn, who lay a pace or tw_way, and stole noiselessly out, grasping his sword in his hand. He stoppe_efore he got to the open door of the next room and listened. All seeme_erfectly quiet. He stood motionless, until a minute later there was a sudde_hout, followed almost instantly by a clash of arms.
With a shout to his followers Wulf ran into the room. The four Saxons were o_heir feet, and were attacking three men, who, as he entered, were joined by _ourth from behind. He and Beorn threw themselves into the fray just as one o_he Saxons fell with his head cloven by a sweeping blow from the tall figur_pposed to him. One after another in rapid succession the Welsh poured in fro_ narrow opening, but the Saxons rushed up in overwhelming numbers. There wa_ brief fierce fight, and the Welsh were slain or overpowered. The men wh_ast emerged turned to fly, but meeting those crowding up from behind wer_nable to do so. Others ran in only to be cut down as soon as they appeared; _ound of fierce shouting and angry struggle came through the opening. When n_ore showed themselves, Wulf called for torches, and a dozen were soon a_and. Seizing one he passed through the narrow opening. A winding staircas_et his view. With Beorn and some Saxons following close behind him, h_escended for a considerable distance, then he found himself in a low an_arrow passage, and following this for twenty yards stepped out into the ope_ir.
"We need do no more to-night, Beorn," he said. "We will see where this come_ut and block it up in the morning, though they are not likely to try again.
We can sleep now without fear of interruption."
His first step was to examine the bodies of the fallen Welshmen. He ha_ecognized in the tall man with whom he had crossed swords Llewellyn ap Rhys, and found him lying beneath four of his followers, who had stood over him an_efended him to the last. He was glad to find that the Welsh prince stil_ived, and directed that he should be at once carried to a room and that ever_ttention should be shown him. None of the other fourteen Welshmen who ha_allen showed any signs of life.
Ordering their bodies to be carried out into the courtyard, Wulf placed fou_en on guard at the upper opening of the secret passage. They were to b_elieved every hour. He then went out and saw to the relief of the sentries o_he walls, and called down to Osgod that the attack had been made an_epulsed. He then went back and slept soundly till daybreak On going to th_alls he learned that there had been a great commotion down in the valley.
Fierce shouts, loud wailing cries, and a confused sound of running and talkin_ad been heard. At daybreak the Welsh were still there, and their fires ha_een lighted: one party were seen to march away as soon as it was light, bu_thers arrived, and their numbers appeared about the same as on the previou_vening. There was no general movement, but it could be seen that the_athered in clusters, and listened to men who addressed them with animate_estures.
"They don't know what to do," Wulf said to Osgod, whom he had joined in th_urret. "They believe their chief to be dead; they know that his mother an_hildren are prisoners in our hands; they can have little hope of capturin_his place, which they believe to be impregnable to open attack. At presen_hey must be without a leader, and yet they must be so animated by a spirit o_ate and revenge, and by the desire to wipe out their humiliation by retakin_his place, that they will not stir from in front of it."
As he spoke a messenger came from Beorn, saying that the Welsh were pourin_rrows and javelins from the hill upon his sentries on the walls, and tha_hese were unable to show a head above the parapet. In one of the sheds _arge quantity of hides had been found, and taking a party laden with the_ulf proceeded to the wall at the rear. Here he directed the ladders that wer_till lying there to be cut up into lengths of eight feet. These were fixed a_ntervals upon the parapet, and a cord fastened along the top, the men engage_n the operations being protected by the shields of their comrades from th_ain of missiles from the trees. Hides were thrown over the ropes, and thes_id those on the wall from the view of the enemy, while they themselves coul_eep out from time to time between the hides to see that no preparations wer_eing made for an attack.
The secret passage was next investigated; it was found that the opening wa_bout half-way down the rock, and that the assailants must have climbed up b_ path that a goat could scarce traverse. Wulf set a party to work to carr_own stones from the courtyard, and to block up the passage solidly for te_eet from the opening, a sentry being posted on the wall above. After th_rection of the shelter of hides the Welsh only sent an occasional javeli_rom the trees, but by the loud yells that were from time to time raised, there was no doubt they were still there in force.
"It is evident that they are going to besiege us, Beorn," Wulf said when the_at down to breakfast together. "The question is, are we to remain here unti_umour carries the report of our capture of the place to Gurth, or shall w_espatch messengers to him?"
"As you yourself said yesterday, the messengers could never get away, Wulf. _ould give a year's revenue if we could do so, for it may be a long tim_efore news comes to Gurth's ears. He may possibly hear of the annihilation o_swald's force, for any Welsh woman taken captive might mention that i_riumph, but they would certainly say nothing of such a grievous blow to th_elsh cause as the capture of Porthwyn and the death of Llewellyn in a_ttempt to recapture it. Gurth, therefore, naturally supposing that we ha_een involved in Oswald's disaster, may abandon all idea of moving agains_his place until the greater part of the country was reduced to obedience."
"I see, Beorn, that the difficulty of a messenger getting through would b_ndeed enormous; the Welsh must know that we are but a small band, and tha_ur first aim would be to communicate with Gurth. You may be sure, therefore, that they will keep a vigilant guard all round the place at night to see tha_o messenger makes his way out. Our two interpreters do not know anything lik_nough Welsh to pass as natives, none of our people know a word of th_anguage, it would be sending anyone to almost certain death. I think we mus_e content to depend upon ourselves. Gurth is sure to learn the news sooner o_ater, for it will make a great stir all through the country. I have just see_lewellyn, he is very sorely wounded. I think it would be a good thing to le_he Welsh know that he is in our hands, it will render them more chary o_ttacking us. We might hang out a flag of truce, and when they come up i_eply tell them that he is alive but sorely wounded, and that they may send u_ leech, who would better attend to his wounds than we can do."
This was accordingly done. Two Welshmen of rank came up to the broken bridg_nd were informed that their prince was sorely wounded, and that a leech woul_e allowed to enter to attend upon him. An hour later a man with a bo_arrying a large basket came up the hill and crossed the plank into th_urret. The basket, which contained various herbs and medicaments, was take_rom the boy, who was then sent back again, while the leech was taken up t_he room where Llewellyn was lying, in the care of his mother and her maids.
Three days passed without any change. The force in the valley was seen to b_onsiderably diminished, no hostile demonstration had taken place; but twent_en always remained in the courtyard in the rear, in readiness to run up t_he wall in case the sentries gave an alarm.
On the fourth morning, just as day was breaking, a man ran into the castl_ith the news that the Welsh were attacking the wall. Beorn and Wulf sprung t_heir feet, and with every man except those on duty as sentries ran off to th_cene of attack. That it was a serious assault was evident by the wild yell_nd shouts that were heard.
Wulf ran up the stairs to the wall. A storm of missiles was striking agains_he hides; many of them failed to penetrate, but others did so, and several o_he men were lying wounded under shelter of the parapet, while the rest wer_urling down javelins between the openings of the hides.
"What are they doing?" he asked the sub-officer in command of the party.
"They are preparing to scale the wall, my lord; they have numbers of ladders."
Wulf was about to look out between the hides, but the officer exclaimed, "D_ot so risk your life, my lord; you can see down without danger;" and h_ushed out the lower side of one of the skins from the wall, so that Wul_ould look down without being seen by the Welsh archers. The fosse in the roc_nd the narrow platform at the foot of the wall were alike crowded with foes, who were planting a number of ladders side by side. These were strongl_onstructed, and were each wide enough for two men to mount abreast. Eight o_en of these ladders were already planted against the wall, and the enemy wer_limbing up them. Wulf turned, and waving his sword shouted to the men runnin_nto the courtyard from the walls and castle to hasten up. Already a dozen ha_oined him, and scarce had these placed themselves along the battlements whe_he heads of the Welshmen appeared above it.
For a minute or two it seemed that these would overmaster the defence. Severa_ucceeded in crossing the parapet, but they were either cut down or cas_eadlong into the courtyard. By this time the whole of the Saxons, save th_uard in the turret by the bridge, were on the wall, and were able to form _lose line along the parapet against which the ladders were placed. The Wels_ought with an utter disregard of life; as fast as those at the top were cu_own or hurled backwards others took their place. So closely did they swarm u_he ladders that several of these broke with their weight, killing many o_hose clustered below as well as those on the rungs. But for an hour there wa_o pause. It was well for the defenders that they had the protection of th_ine of hides, and were therefore screened from the arrows of the bowmen o_he hill; but these soon ceased to shoot, as many of their comrades were hi_y their missiles, while they were unable to see whether the arrows had an_ffect whatever upon the hidden defenders. At length the leaders of th_ssailants saw that the task could not be achieved, and gave the signal by th_lowing of cow-horns that the attack should cease; but so furious were thei_ollowers that many disregarded the summons, and continued their efforts t_ain a footing upon the wall, or at least to kill one of its defenders, fo_ome time after the main body had withdrawn. As soon as the last of these wa_illed the garrison hurled the ladders backwards and then gave a shout o_riumph, which was answered by renewed yells of defiance by the Welsh.
"It has been a hard fight, Wulf," Beorn said, as he removed his helmet.
"It has indeed. It was a well-planned attack, and was nearly successful. W_ught to have had a stronger guard there; but I did not think that they woul_enture to attack at daylight, nor that they could have so quickly run forwar_nd placed their ladders. Had we been but a minute later in arriving here the_ould have gained this wall and the courtyard. They would, indeed, have got n_arther, but their success would have so excited them that we should have ha_o fight night and day. What has been our loss?"
Five of the men were killed; many of the others had received severe wounds o_he head and shoulders from the knives of their assailants, and had it no_een for the protection afforded by the leathern helmets and jerkins th_umber of killed would have been very much larger.
"I would as lief fight with a troop of wild cats," exclaimed Osgod—who, a_oon as he saw that there was no movement down on the plain, had run up wit_alf his little garrison to join in the defence of the wall,—as he tried t_taunch a deep wound that extended from his ear to his chin. "Over and ove_gain I saw a shock head come up above the wall, and before I had time to tak_ fair blow at it the man would hurl himself over upon me like a wild animal.
Three times was I knocked down, and I am no chicken either; if it had not bee_or my comrades on each side it would have gone hard with me. I was able t_eturn the service several times, but had the Welsh been imps they could no_ave been more active or more fierce. There must be a hundred lying slai_long here or in the courtyard. I do not wonder that Oswald's men were al_illed by them, though after our previous fights I held them in but smal_espect."
"It is a different thing, Osgod," Beorn said. "In the field we have always ha_he advantage from our order and our discipline; but here it was man agains_an. We had the advantage of position and they of numbers; but discipline wen_or nothing on either side, and I doubt if we should have done as well as the_id had we been the assailants."
"I am ready to own that," Osgod agreed. "I like to fight with my feet on fir_round, and should make but a poor figure balanced on the top of a ladder."
When the tumult in the wood had died away Wulf raised a white flag, an_rdered one of the men who spoke Welsh to shout to the enemy that they migh_pproach without molestation and remove their wounded and dead from the foo_f the wall, and also said that the Saxon leaders desired to speak to a_fficer of rank.
Two of these came out from the trees. "Hitherto," the interpreter cried with _oud voice, "my lords, the noble thanes, Beorn of Fareham and Wulf o_teyning, have given the most honourable treatment to your chief, Llewellyn a_hys, wounded and a prisoner in their hands, and to his family. Nor have the_ltered that treatment while you were attacking our walls; but they bid m_arn you and all others in arms against the authority of our sovereign lor_he king, that henceforth they will hold them as hostages, and that thei_ives will be forfeited if any fresh attack be made upon the castle."
Three days passed without any further acts of hostility by the Welsh. At th_nd of that time Llewellyn was sufficiently recovered to sit up supported b_illows on his couch. He had already heard of the defeat, with terribl_laughter, of the attempt of his countrymen to recapture the castle, and o_he warning that had been given the Welsh that if the attack was renewed th_ives of himself and his family would be forfeited. Beorn and Wulf paid him _isit as soon as they heard that he was in a condition to talk to them.
"Prince," Wulf said through his interpreter, "it is, you must see, hopeles_or your followers to attempt to recapture this castle. The bridge i_estroyed, the secret passage by which you entered blocked up, and we ca_esist any attack upon the rear wall. We have shown you and yours a mercy suc_s you would certainly not have extended to English men and women unde_imilar circumstances, and grieved as we should be to be obliged to proceed t_xtremities with prisoners, yet were the castle again attacked, and were we t_ee that there was a prospect of its being recaptured, we should not hesitat_o slay you, as it would be treachery to the king to allow so formidable a_nemy as yourself to regain his freedom.
"Your cause is hopeless. Harold, Tostig, and Gurth are carrying fire and swor_hrough your valleys, and your people will have to choose between submissio_nd death. Why should so hopeless a struggle continue? Gurth will be her_hortly, and then the fate that has befallen the districts already subdue_ill light upon yours. Surely it will be better for yourself and your peopl_hat this should be averted. This can only be done by your sending orders t_our followers to scatter to their homes and to lay down their arms. We wil_t once in that case send a messenger to the earl to tell him that th_istrict has submitted. I must request that in order the message shall reac_im you shall bid two officers of rank accompany our messenger to Gurth'_amp; we giving them our undertaking that they shall be allowed to leave i_nmolested."
"Your offer tallies with my own intentions," Llewellyn said. "Had I been fre_ would have resisted to the last, but as a prisoner, and with my mother an_hildren in your hands, I am powerless. My harper tells me that fully fou_undred of my followers fell in the attack, and with my stronghold in you_ower, my tribesmen without a leader, and your armies desolating the land, _ee that further resistance here would but add to the misfortunes of m_eople. I am ready, therefore, to send down my harper and doctor to bid fou_f my chiefs come up here, under your safe conduct. I shall lay the matte_efore them, and tell them that I being a prisoner can no longer give the_rders, but shall point out to them that in my opinion further resistance ca_ut bring terrible disasters upon the district. This, on their return, the_ill lay before their men, and if, as I trust, these will agree to scatter t_heir homes, they will furnish the escort you desire for your messenger."
Two hours later three of the chiefs summoned arrived, the fourth having falle_n the assault. They had a private interview with Llewellyn and then left. _reat meeting was held down in the valley, and in the afternoon the thre_hiefs and six others came up to the castle and formally made their submissio_efore Beorn and Wulf, and besought them to send a messenger to the ear_raying him to forgive past offences and to have mercy on the people. An hou_ater two of the Saxons bearing a letter from Beorn and Wulf to Gurth starte_nder an escort provided by the chiefs.