• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Preface
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 A border hold
 Across the border
 At Alnwick
 An unequal joust
 A mission
 At Dunbar
 Back to Hotspur
 Ludlow Castle
 The Welsh rising
 A breach of duty
 Bad news
 A dangerous mission
 Escape
 In hiding
 Another mission to Ludlow
 A letter for the king
 Knighted
 Glendower
 The battle of Homildon Hill
 The Percys' discontent
 Shrewsbury
 Advertising
 Back Matter
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: Both sides the border : a tale of Hotspur and Glendower
Title: Both sides the border
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086974/00001
 Material Information
Title: Both sides the border a tale of Hotspur and Glendower
Alternate Title: Tale of Hotspur and Glendower
Physical Description: 6, 378, 32 p., 12 leaves of plates : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Henty, G. A ( George Alfred ), 1832-1902
Peacock, Ralph ( Illustrator )
Charles Scribner's Sons
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1898
 Subjects
Subject: Kings and rulers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Knights and knighthood -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Imaginary wars and battles -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Courage -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Determination (Personality trait) -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Battles -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Castles -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
War -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Prisoners -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Monks -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Courtship -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Welsh Borders (England and Wales)   ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile fiction -- Wales   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Biographical fiction -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1898
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
Biographical fiction   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- New York -- New York
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by G.A. Henty ; with twelve illustrations by Ralph Peacock.
General Note: Pictorial front cover and spine.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086974
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002391597
notis - ALZ6487
oclc - 04349297
lccn - 98000490

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Half Title
        Half Title
    Frontispiece
        Frontispiece
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Preface
        Preface
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    List of Illustrations
        List of Illustrations
    A border hold
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Across the border
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
    At Alnwick
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 42a
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    An unequal joust
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
    A mission
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 82a
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
    At Dunbar
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
    Back to Hotspur
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 106a
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
    Ludlow Castle
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
    The Welsh rising
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 148a
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
    A breach of duty
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 172a
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
    Bad news
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
    A dangerous mission
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 200a
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
    Escape
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 226a
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
    In hiding
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
    Another mission to Ludlow
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 262a
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
    A letter for the king
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
    Knighted
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 290a
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
    Glendower
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 322a
        Page 323
    The battle of Homildon Hill
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
        Page 340
    The Percys' discontent
        Page 341
        Page 342
        Page 343
        Page 344
        Page 345
        Page 346
        Page 347
        Page 348
        Page 349
        Page 350
        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
        Page 358
        Page 359
    Shrewsbury
        Page 360
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
        Page 366
        Page 367
        Page 368
        Page 369
        Page 370
        Page 371
        Page 372
        Page 372a
        Page 373
        Page 374
        Page 375
        Page 376
        Page 377
        Page 378
    Advertising
        Page 379
        Page 380
        Page 381
        Page 382
        Page 383
        Page 384
        Page 385
        Page 386
        Page 387
        Page 388
        Page 389
        Page 390
        Page 391
        Page 392
        Page 393
        Page 394
        Page 395
        Page 396
        Page 397
        Page 398
        Page 399
        Page 400
        Page 401
        Page 402
        Page 403
        Page 404
        Page 405
        Page 406
        Page 407
        Page 408
        Page 409
        Page 410
    Back Matter
        Back Matter
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text













































The Baldwin Library
FXRmBt
















BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


















































































IT WAS WITH THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY THAT HE GUARDED

HIS HEAD.


-1








BOTH SIDES THE BORDER



A Zale of 3otmpur ani t lenboter





BY
G. A. HENTY
Author of "A March on London," Beric the Briton," Held Fast for England,"
Wolf the Saxon," "A Jacobite Exile," &c., &c.






WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY RALPH PEACOCK







NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
1898

































COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS










PREFACE

THE four opening years of the fifteenth century were among
the most stirring in the history of England. Owen Glen-
dower carried fire and slaughter among the Welsh marches,
captured most of the strong places held by the English, and
foiled three invasions led by the king himself. The northern
borders were invaded by Douglas, who, after devastating a
large portion of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Durham,
was defeated and taken prisoner at the battle of Homildon
by the Earl of Northumberland and his son Hotspur. Then
followed the strange and unnatural coalition between the
Percys, Douglas of Scotland, Glendower of Wales, and Sir
Edmund Mortimer- a coalition that would assuredly have
overthrown the king, erected the young Earl of March as
a puppet monarch under the tutelage of the Percys, and
secured the independence of Wales, had the royal forces
arrived one day later at Shrewsbury, and so allowed the
confederate armies to unite. King Henry's victory there,
entailing the death of Hotspur and the capture of Douglas,
put an end to this formidable insurrection; for although the
Earl of Northumberland twice subsequently raised the banner
of revolt, these risings were easily crushed; while Glendower's
power waned, and order, never to be again broken, was at
length restored in Wales. The continual state of unrest and
chronic warfare between the inhabitants of both sides of the
border was full of adventures as stirring and romantic as that
in which the hero of the story took part.


G. A. HENTY.

















CONTENTS


CHAPTER
I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

X.

XI.

XII.

XIII.

XIV.

XV.

XVI.

XVII.

XVIII.

XIX.

XX.

XXI.


A BORDER HOLD .

ACROSS THE BORDER

AT ALNWICK .

AN UNEQUAL JOUST

A MISSION

AT DUNBAR .

BACK TO HOTSPUR .

LUDLOW CASTLE

THE WELSH RISING

A BREACH OF DUTY

BAD NEWS

A DANGEROUS MISSION .

ESCAPE .

IN HIDING .

ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW

A LETTER FOR THE KING

KNIGHTED

GLENDOWER

THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL

THE PERCYS' DISCONTENT .

SHREWSBURY .


PAGE
. I
18

S 36
52
68

87

S 105

. 123
123

S 138

S157

S77

194

S 12

231

251

S 268

S 287

306

324

S341
360



















ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE

IT WAS WITH THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY THAT HE GUARDED
HIS HEAD Frontispiece

"THIS IS TIE NEPHEW OF ALWYN FORSTER" 42
THEY JOURNEYED PLEASANTLY ALONG 82
"WHO IS GOING TO TEACH ME?" 106

OSWALD THREW HIS ARMS ROUND TWO OF THEM 48
To OSWALD'S ASTONISHMENT TWO YOUNG WOMEN STOOD BE-
FORE HIM 172

ARMSTRONG TOOK HIS PLACE BY HIS SON'S PALLET 200
"LET THE ROPE PASS GRADUALLY THROUGH YOUR HANDS" 226
"I AM WELL PLEASED WITH YOU, OSWALD" 262

"NOW, I THINK WE SHALL DO, ROGER" .290
HOW GLAD I AM TO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY OF THANKING
YOU". 322

"DO NOT SPEAK OF SUCH A THING, I PRAY YOU, MASTER" 372

















BOTH SIDES THE BORDER



CHAPTER I

A BORDER HOLD

LAD was-standing on the little look-out turret on
the top of a border fortalice. The place was
evidently built solely with an eye to defence,
comfort being an altogether secondary consid-
eration. It was a square building of rough stone, the walls
broken only by narrow loopholes, and the door, which was
ten feet above the ground, was reached by broad wooden
steps, which could be hauled up in case of necessity, and were
in fact raised every night. The building was some. forty feet
square. The upper floor was divided into several chambers,
which were the sleeping-places of its lord and master, his
family, and the women of the household.
The floor below, on to which the door from without opened,
was undivided save by two rows of stone pillars that supported
the beams of the floor above. In one corer the floor, some
fifteen feet square, was raised somewhat above the general
level: this was set aside for the use of the master and the
family; the rest of the apartment was used as the living and







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


sleeping room of the followers and hinds of the fortalice.
The basement-which, although on a level with the ground
outside, could be approached only by a trap-door and ladder
from the room above--was the store-room, and contained
sacks of barley and oatmeal, sides of bacon, firewood, sacks
of beans, and trusses of hay for the use of the horses and
cattle should the place have to stand a short siege. In the
centre was a well.
The roof of the house was flat, and paved with square blocks
of stone; a parapet three feet high surrounded it. In the
centre was the look-out tower rising twelve feet above it, and
over the door another turret, projecting some eighteen inches
beyond the wall of the house, slits being cut in the stone floor
through which missiles could be dropped or boiling lead poured
upon any trying to assault the entrance. Outside was a court-
yard extending round the house; it was some ten yards across,
and surrounded by a wall twelve feet high, with a square
turret at each corner. Everything was roughly constructed,
although massive and solid. With the exception of the door,
and the steps leading to it, no wood had been used in the
construction; the very beams were of rough stone; the floors
were of the same material. It was clearly the object of the
builders to erect a fortress that could defy fire, and could only
be destroyed at the cost of enormous labour.
This was indeed a prime necessity, for the hold stood in the
wild country between the upper waters of the Coquet and the
Reed River. Harbottle and Longpikes rose but a few miles
away, and the whole country was broken up by deep ravines
and valleys, fells and crags. From the edge of the moorland,
a hundred yards from the outer wall, the ground dropped
sharply down into the valley, where the two villages of Yard-
hope lay on a little burn running into the Coquet. In other
directions the moor extended for a distance of nearly a mile.







A BORDER HOLD 3

On this two or three score of cattle and a dozen shaggy little
horses were engaged in an effort to keep life together upon
the rough herbage that grew among the heather and blocks
of stones scattered everywhere.
Presently the lad caught sight of the flash of the sun, which
had but just risen behind him, on a spear-head at the western
edge of the moor. He ran down at once from his post to the
principal room.
"They are coming, mother," he exclaimed; "I have just
seen the sun glint on a spear-head."
"I trust that they are all there," she said, and then turned
to two women by the fire and bade them put on more wood
and get the pots boiling.
Go up again, Oswald, and as soon as you can make out
your father's figure bring me down news. I have not closed
an eye for the last two nights, for 't is a more dangerous enter-
prise than usual on which they have gone."
Father always comes home all right, mother," the boy
said confidently, "and they have a strong band this time.
They were to have been joined by Thomas Gray and his
following, and Forster of Currick, and John Liddel, and Percy
Hope of Bilderton. They must have full sixty spears. The
Bairds are like to pay heavily for their last raid hither."
Dame Forster did not reply, and Oswald ran up again to the
look-out. By this time the party for whom he was watching
had reached the moor. It consisted of twelve or fourteen
horsemen all clad in dark armour, carrying very long spears
and mounted on small but wiry horses. They were driving
before them a knot of some forty or fifty cattle, and three of
them led horses carrying heavy burdens. Oswald's quick eye
noticed that four of the horsemen were not carrying their
spears.
"They are three short of their number," he said to himself,







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


" and those four must all be sorely wounded. Well, it might
have been worse." Oswald had been brought up to regard
forays and attacks as ordinary incidents of life. Watch and
ward were always kept in the little fortalice, especially when
the nights were dark and misty, for there was never any say-
ing when a party of Scottish borderers might make an attack,
for the truces so often concluded between the border wardens
had but slight effect on the prickers, as the small chieftains on
both sides were called, who maintained a constant state of
warfare against each other.
The Scotch forays were more frequent than those from the
English side of the border, not because the people were more
warlike, but because they were poorer and depended more
entirely upon plunder for their subsistence. There was but
little difference of race between the peoples on the opposite
side of the border; both were largely of mixed Danish and
Anglo-Saxon blood, for when William the Conqueror carried
fire and sword through Northumbria, great numbers of the
inhabitants moved north and settled in the district beyond
the reach of the Norman arms. On the English side of the
border the population were in time leavened by Norman blood,
as the estates were granted by William to his barons. These
often married the heiresses of the dispossessed families, while
their followers found wives among the native population.
The frequent wars with the Scots, in which every man
capable of bearing arms in the Northern Counties had to take
part, and the incessant border warfare maintained a most
martial spirit among the population, who considered retalia-
tion for injuries received to be a natural and lawful act. This
was to some extent heightened by the fact that the terms of
many of the truces specifically permitted those who had
suffered losses on either side to pursue their plunderers across
the border. These raids were not accompanied by bloodshed







A BORDER HOLD


except when resistance was made, for between the people,
descended as they were from a common stock, there was no
active animosity, and at ordinary times there was free and
friendly intercourse between them. There were, however,
many exceptions to the rule that unresisting persons were not
injured.
Between many families on opposite sides of the border there
existed blood feuds, arising from the fact that members of
one or the other had been killed in forays, and in these cases
bitter and bloody reprisals were made on either side. The
very border line was ill defined, and people on one side fre-
quently settled on the other, as is shown by the fact that sev-
eral of the treaties contained provisions that those who had
so moved might change their nationality and be accounted as
Scotch or Englishmen as the case might be. Between the
S Forsters and the Bairds such a feud had existed for three
generations. It had begun in a raid by the latter; the Fors-
ter of that time had repulsed the attack, and had with his own
hand killed one of the Bairds; six months later he was sur-
prised and killed on his own hearth-stone, at a time when his
son and most of his retainers were away on a raid.
From that time the animosity between the two families had
been unceasing, and several lives had been lost on both sides.
The Bairds with a large party had, three months- before, carried
fire and sword through the district bordering on the main
road as far as Elsdon on the east, and Alwinton on the north.
S News of their coming had, however, preceded them; the
villagers of Yardhope had just time to take refuge at Forster's
S hold, and had repulsed the determined attacks made upon it,
until Sir Robert Umfraville brought a strong party to their
assistance and drove the Bairds back towards the frontier.
The present raid from which the party was returning had
been organised partly to recoup those who took part in it







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


for the loss of their cattle on that occasion, and partly to
take vengeance upon the Bairds.
As was the custom on both sides of the border, these expe-
ditions were generally composed of members of half a dozen
families with their followers, the one who was at once most
energetic and best acquainted with the intricacies of the
country, and the paths across fells and moors, being chosen
as leader.
Presently Oswald Forster saw one of the party wave his
hand, and at his order four or five of the horsemen rode out
and began to drive the scattered cattle and horses towards
the house. Oswald at once ran down.
"Father is all right, mother; he has just given orders to
the men, and they are driving all the animals in, so I suppose
that the Bairds must be in pursuit. I had better tell the men
to get on their armour? "
Without waiting for an answer he told six men who were
eating their breakfast at the farther end of the room to make
an end of their meal, and get on their steel caps and breast
and back pieces, and take their places in the turret over the
gate into the yard. In a few minutes the animals began to
pour in, first those of the homestead, then the captured herd,
weary and exhausted with their long and hurried journey;
then came the master with his followers. Mary Forster and
her son stood at the top of the steps ready to greet him.
The gate into the yard was on the opposite side to that of
the doorway of the fortalice, in order that assailants who had
carried it should have to pass round under the fire of the
archers in the turrets before they could attack the building
itself. She gave a little cry as her husband came up. His
left arm was in a sling, his helmet was cleft through, and a
bandage showed beneath it.
"Do not be afraid, wife," he said cheerily. "We have had







A BORDER HOLD


hotter work than we expected, but, so far as I am concerned,
there is no great harm done. I am sorry to say that we have
lost Long Hal, and Rob Finch, and Smedley. Two or three
others are sorely wounded, and I fancy few have got off alto-
gether scathless. All went well until we stopped to wait for
daybreak three miles from Allan Baird's place. Some shep-
herd must have got sight of us as we halted, for we found him
and his men up and ready. They had not had time, how-
ever, to drive in the cattle; and seeing that we should like
enough have the Bairds swarming down upon us before we
could take Allan's place, we contented ourselves with gather-
ing the cattle and driving them off. There were about two
hundred of them.
We went fast, but in two hours we saw the Bairds coming
in pursuit; and as it was clear that they would overtake us,
hampered as we were with the cattle, we stood and made
defence. There was not much difference in numbers, for the
Bairds had not had time to gather in all their strength. The
fight was a stiff one. On our side Percy Hope was killed, and
John Liddel so sorely wounded that there is no hope of his
life. We had sixteen men killed outright, and few of us but
are more or less scarred. On their side Allan Baird was killed
and John was smitten down, but how sorely wounded I cannot
say for certain, for they put him on a horse and took him
away at once. They left twenty behind them on the ground
dead; and the rest, finding that we were better men than
they, rode off again.
"William Baird himself had not come up; his hold was too
far for the news to have reached him, as we knew well enough,
but doubtless he came up with his following a few hours after
we had beaten his kinsmen. But we have ridden too fast for
him to overtake us. We struck off north as soon as we
crossed the border, travelled all night by paths by which they






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


will find it difficult to follow or track us, especially as we broke
up into four parties, and each chose their own way. I have
driven all our cattle in, in case they should make straight here
after losing our track. Of course there were many who fought
against us who know us all well; but even were it other than
the Bairds we had despoiled, they would hardly follow us so
far across the border to fetch their cattle. As for the Bairds,
the most notorious of the Scottish raiders, for them to claim
the right of following would be beyond all bearing. Why, I
don't believe there was a head of cattle among the whole herd
that had not been born and bred on this side of the border.
It is we who have been fetching back stolen goods."
By this time he and his men had entered the house, and
those who had gone through the fray scathless were, assisted
by the women, removing the armour from their wounded com-
rades. Those who had been forced to relinquish their spears
were first attended to. There was no thought of sending for
a leech. Every man and woman within fifty miles of the
border was accustomed to the treatment of wounds, and in
every hold was a store of bandages, styptics, and unguents
ready for instant use. Most of the men were very sorely
wounded, and had they been of less hardy frame and less
inured to hardships could not have supported the long ride.
John Forster, before taking off his own armour, saw that
their wounds were first attended to by his wife and her
women.
I think they will all do," he said, "and that they will live
to strike another blow at the Bairds yet. Now, Osvald, un-
buckle my harness. Your mother will bandage up my arm
and head, and Elspeth shall bring up a full tankard from be-
low for each of us. A draught of beer will do as much good
as all the salves and medicaments. Do you take the first
drink, Jock Samlen, and then go up to the watch-tower. I







A BORDER HOLD


see the men have been posted in the wall-turrets. One of
them shall relieve you shortly."
As soon as the wounds were dressed, bowls of porridge
were served round, then one of the men who had remained
at home was posted at the look-out, and after the cattle had
been seen to, all who had been on the road stretched them-
selves on some rushes at one end of the room, and were
in a few minutes sound asleep.
I wonder whether we shall ever have peace in the land,
Oswald," his mother said with a sigh, as, having seen that the
women had all in readiness for the preparation of the midday
meal, she sat down on a low stool by his side.
I don't see how we ever can have, mother, until either we
conquer Scotland, or the Scotch shall be our masters. It is
not our fault; they are ever raiding and plundering, and heed
not the orders of Douglas or the other Lords of the Marches."
We are almost as bad as they are, Oswald."
Nay, mother, we do but try to take back our own; as
father well said, the cattle that were brought in are all English
that have been taken from us by the Bairds, and we do but
pay them back in their own coin. It makes but little differ-
ence whether we are at war or peace, these reiving caterans
are ever on the move. It was but last week that Adam Gor-
don and his bands wasted Tynedale as far as Bellingham, and
carried off, they say, two thousand head of cattle, and slew
many of the people. If we did not cross the border some-
times and give them a lesson, they would become so bold that
there would be no limit to their raids."
"That is all true enough, Oswald; but it is hard that we
should always require to be on the watch, and that no one
within forty miles of the border can at any time go to sleep
with the surety that he will not ere morning hear the raiders
knocking at his gate."







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


Methinks that it would be dull were there nought to do
but to look after the cattle," Oswald replied. It seemed to
him, bred up as he had been amid constant forays and excite-
ments, that the state of things was a normal one, and that
it was natural that a man should need to have his spear ever
ready at hand, and to give or take hard blows. "Besides,"
he went on, though we. carry off each other's cattle and fetch
them home again, we are not bad friends while the truces
hold, save in the case of those who have blood feuds. It was
but last week that Allan Armstrong and his two sisters were
staying here with us, and I promised that ere long I would
ride across the border and spend a week with them."
"Yes, but that makes it all the worse. Adam Armstrong
married my sister Elizabeth, whom he first met at Goddington
fair, and indeed there are few families on either side of the
border who have not both English and Scotch blood in their
veins. It is natural we should be friends, seeing how often
we have held Berwick, Roxburgh, and Dumfries, and how
often in times of peace Scotchmen come across the border to
trade at the fairs. Why should it not be so when we speak
the same tongue, and, save for the border line, are one people ?
Though indeed it is different in Kirkcudbright and Wigtown,
where they are Galwegians, and their tongue is scarce under-
stood by the border Scots. 'Tis strange that those on one
side of the border and those on the other cannot keep the
peace towards each other."
But save when the kingdoms are at war, mother, we do
keep the peace, except in the matter of cattle-lifting, and bear
no enmity towards each other save when blood is shed. In
war-time each must, of course, fight for his nation and as his
lord orders him. We have wasted Scotland again and again
from end to end, and they have swept the Northern Counties
well-nigh as often. I have heard father say that eight times







A BORDER HOLD


in the last hundred years this hold has been levelled to the
ground. It only escaped last time because he built it so
strongly of stone that they could not fire it, and it would have
taken them almost as long to pick it to pieces as it took him
to build it."
"Yes, that was when you were an infant, Oswald. When
we heard the Scotch army was marching this way, we took
refuge with all the cattle and horses among the Pikes, having
first carried out and burnt all the forage and stores, and leav-
ing nothing that they could set fire to. Your father has often
laughed at the thought of how angry they must have been when
they found that there was no mischief that they could do, for,
short of a long stay, which they never make, there was no
way in which they could damage it. Ours was the only house
that escaped scot-free for thirty miles round; but indeed 't is
generally but parties of pillagers who trouble this part of the
country even when they invade England. There is richer
booty by far to be gathered in Cumberland and Durham, for
here we have nought but our cattle and horses, and of these
they have as many on their side of the border. It is the
plunder of the towns that chiefly attracts them, and while
they go past here empty-handed, they always carry great
trains of booty on their backward way."
"Still it would be dull work if there were no fighting,
mother."
"There is no fighting in Southern England, Oswald, save
for those who go across the sea to fight the French, and yet
I suppose they find life less dull than we do. They have
more to do. Here there is little tillage, the country is poor;
and who would care to break up the land and to raise crops
when any night your ricks might be in flames, and your grana-
ries plundered? Thus there is nought for us to do but to
keep cattle, which need but little care and attention, and







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


which can be driven off to the fells when the Scots make a
great raid; -but in the south, as I have heard, there is always
much for farmers to attend to, and those who find life dull
can always enter the service of some warlike lord and follow
him across the sea."
Oswald shook his head. The quiet pursuits of a farmer
seemed to him to be but a poor substitute for the excitement
of border war. "It may be as you say, mother, but for my
part I would rather enter the service of the Percys, and gain
honour under their banner, than remain here day after day
merely giving aid in driving the cattle in and out, and won-
dering when the Bairds are coming this way again."
His mother shook her head. Her father and two brothers
had both been slain the last time a Scottish army had crossed
the border; and although she naturally did not regard constant
troubles in the same light in which a southern woman would
have viewed them, she still longed for peace and quiet, and
was in constant fear that sooner or later the feud with the
Bairds, who were a powerful family, would cost her husband
his life. Against open force she had little fear. The hold
could resist an attack for days, and long ere it yielded, help
would arrive; but although the watch was vigilant, and every
precaution taken, it might be captured by a sudden night
attack. William Baird had, she knew, sworn a great oath
that Yardhope Hold should one day be destroyed, and the
Forsters wiped out root and branch. And the death of his
cousin Allan in the last raid would surely fan the fire of his
hatred against them.
"One never can say what may happen," she said after a
pause; "but if at any time evil should befall us, and you
escape, remember that your uncle Alwyn is in Percy's ser-
vice, and you cannot do better than go to him and place
yourself under his protection, and act as he may advise you.







A BORDER HOLD


I like not the thought that you should become a man-at-arms;
and yet methinks that it is no more dangerous than that of a
householder on the fells. At least, in a strong castle a man
can sleep without fear, whereas none can say as much here."
If aught should happen to my father and you, mother, you
may be sure that I should share in it; the Bairds would spare
no one if they captured the hold. And although father will
not as yet take me with him on his forays, I should do my
share of fighting if the hold were attacked."
"I am sure that you would, Oswald; and were it captured
I have no doubt that, as you say, you would share our fate.
I speak not with any thought that it is likely things will turn
out as I say; but they may do so, and therefore I give you my
advice to seek out your uncle. As to a capture of our hold,
of that I have generally but little fear; but the fact that your
father has been wounded and three of his men killed, and that
another Baird has fallen, has brought the possibility that it
may happen more closely to my mind this morning than usual.
Now, my boy, you had best spend an hour in cleaning up your
father's armour and arms. The steel cap must go to the ar-
mourer at Alwinton for repair, but you can get some of the
dints out of his breast and back pieces, and can give them
a fresh coat of black paint;" for the borderers usually
darkened their armour, so that in their raids their presence
should not be betrayed by the glint of sun or moon upon
them.
Oswald at once took up the armour and went down the steps
into the courtyard, so that the sound of his hammer should
not disturb the sleepers. As with slight but often-repeated
blows he got out the dints that had been made in the fray, he
thought over what his mother had been saying. To him also
the death of three of the men, who had for years been his
companions, came as a shock. It was seldom, indeed, that the







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


forays for cattle-lifting had such serious consequences. As a
rule they were altogether bloodless, and it was only because of
the long feud with the Bairds, and the fact that some warning
of the coming of the party had, in spite of their precaution,
reached Allan Baird, that on the present occasion such serious
results had ensued.
Had it not been for this, the cattle would have been driven
off without resistance, for Allan Baird's own household would
not have ventured to attack so strong a party. No attempt
would have been made to assault his hold, for he had often
heard his father say that even in the case of a blood feud he
held that houses should not be attacked and their occupants
slain. If both parties met under arms, the matter was different;
but that, in spite of the slaying of his own father by them, he
would not kill even a Baird on his hearth-stone. Still, a Baird
had been killed, and assuredly William Baird would not be
deterred by any similar scruples. His pitiless ferocity was
notorious, and even his own countrymen cried out against
some of his deeds, and the Earl of Douglas had several times
threatened to hand him over to the English authorities; but
the Bairds were powerful, and could, with their allies, place
four or five hundred men in the field, and in the difficult coun-
try in which they lived could have given a great deal of trouble
even to Douglas. Therefore nothing had come of his threats,
and the Bairds had continued to be the terror of that part of
the English border that was the most convenient for their
operations.
Oswald was now past sixteen, and promised to be as big
a man as his father, who was a fine specimen of the hardy
Northumbrian race, tall, strong, and sinewy. He had felt
hurt when his father had refused to allow him to take part in
the foray.
"Time enough, lad, time enough," he had said when the lad







A BORDER HOLD 15

had made his petition to do so. "You are not strong enough
yet to hold your own against one of the Bairds' moss-troopers,
should it come to fighting. In another couple of years it will
be time enough to think of your going on such an excursion
as this. You are clever with your arms, I will freely admit,
as you ought to be, seeing that you practise for two hours a
day with the men. But strength counts as well as skill, and
you want both when you ride against the Bairds; besides, at
present you have still much to learn about the paths through
the fells and across the morasses. If you are ever to become
a leader, you must know them well enough to traverse them
on the darkest night, or through the thickest mist."
I think that I do know most of them, father."
"Yes, I think you do, on this side of the border; but you
must learn those on the other side as well. They are, indeed,
of even greater importance, in case of pursuit or for crossing
the border unobserved. Hitherto I have forbidden you to
cross the line, but in future Mat Wilson shall go with you. He
knows the Scotch passes and defiles better than any in the
band, and so that you don't go near the Bairds' country you
can traverse them safely so long as the truce lasts."
For years indeed, Oswald, on one of the hardy little horses,
had ridden over the country in company with one or other of
the men, and had become familiar with every morass, moor,
fell, and pass, down to the old Roman wall to the south, and
as far north as Wooler, being frequently absent for three or
four days at a time. He had several times ridden into Scot-
land to visit the Armstrongs and other friends of the family,
but he had always travelled by the roads, and knew nothing of
the hill paths on that side. His life had, in fact, been far
from dull, for they had many friends and connections in the
villages at the foot of the Cheviots, and he was frequently
away from home.






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


His journeys were generally performed on horseback, but
his father encouraged him to take long tramps on foot, in
order that he might strengthen his muscles, and would not
unfrequently give him leave to pay visits on condition that he
travelled on foot instead of in the saddle. Constant exercise
in climbing, riding, and with his weapons, and at wrestling
and other sports, including the bow, had hardened every
muscle of his frame, and he was capable of standing any
fatigues; and although his father said that he could not hold
his own against men, he knew that the lad could do so against
any but exceptionally powerful ones, and believed that when
the time came he would, like himself, be frequently chosen as
leader in border forays. He could already draw the strongest
bow to the arrow-head, and send a shaft with a strength that
would suffice to pierce the light armour worn by the Scotch
borderers.
It was by the bow that the English gained the majority of
their victories over their northern neighbours, who did not
take to the weapon, and were unable to stand for a moment
against the English archers, who not only loved it as a sport,
but were compelled by many ordinances to practise with it
from their childhood. Of other education he had none, but
in this respect he was no worse off than the majority of the
knights and barons of the time, who were well content to trust
to monkish scribes to draw up such documents as were re-
quired and to affix their seal to them. He himself had once,
some six years before, expressed a wish to be sent for a year
to the care of the monks at Rothbury, whose superior was a
distant connection of his father, in order to be taught to read
and write, but John Forster had scoffed at the idea.
"You have to learn to be a man, lad," he had said, "and
the monks will never teach you that. I do not know one letter
from another, nor did my father, or any of my forebears, and







A BORDER HOLD


we were no worse for it. On the marches, unless a man means
to become a monk he has to learn to make his sword guard his
head, to send an arrow straight to the mark, to know every
foot of the passes, and to be prepared at the order of his lord
to defend his country against the Scots. These are vastly more
important matters than reading and writing, which are, so far
as I can see, of no use to any fair man, whose word is his bond,
and who deals with honest men. I can reckon up, if I sell so
many cattle, how much has to be paid, and more of learning
than that I want not, nor do you, and every hour spent on it
would be as good as wasted. As to the monks, Heaven forfend
that you should ever become one. They are good men, I
doubt not, and I suppose that it is necessary that some should
take to it; but that a man who has the full possession of his
limbs should mew himself up for life between four walls, passing
his time in vigils and saying masses, in reading books and dis-
tributing alms, seems to me to be a sort of madness."
I certainly do not wish to become a monk, father; but I
thought that I should like to learn to read and write."
"And when you have learnt it, what then, Oswald? Books
are expensive playthings, and no scrap of writing has ever
been inside the walls of Yardhope Hold since it was first built
here, as far as I know. As to writing, it would be of still less
use. If a man has a message to send, he can send it by a hired
man, if it suits him not to ride himself. Besides, if he had
written it, the person he sent it to would not be able to read
it, and would have to go to some scribe for an interpretation
of its contents. No, no, my lad, you have plenty to learn
before you come to be a man, without bothering your head
with this monkish stuff. I doubt if Hotspur himself can do
more than sign his name to a parchment, and what is good
enough for the Percys is surely good enough for you."
The idea had in fact been put into Oswald's head by his







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


mother. At that time the feud with the Bairds had burned
very hotly, and it would have lessened her anxieties had the
boy been bestowed for a time in a convent. Oswald himself
felt no disappointment at his father's refusal to a petition that
he would never have made had not his mother dilated to him
on several occasions upon the great advantage of learning. No
thought of repeating the request had ever entered his mind.
His father had thought more of it, and had several times
expressed grave regret to his wife over such an extraordinary
wish having occurred to their son.
"The boy has nothing of a milk-sop about him," he said,
"and is for his age full of spirit and courage. How so strange
an idea could have occurred to him is more than I can
imagine. I should as soon expect to see an owlet in a
sparrow-hawk's nest as a monk hatched in Yardhope Hold."
His wife discreetly kept silence as to the fact that she her-
self had first put the idea in the boy's head, for although Mary
Forster was mistress inside of the hold, in all other matters
John was masterful and would brook no meddling even by her.
The subject, therefore, of Oswald's learning to read and write
was never renewed.



CHAPTER II

ACROSS THE BORDER

A MOST vigilant watch was kept up for the next week at
Yardhope Hold. At night three or four of the troopers
were posted four or five miles from the hold, on the roads by
which an enemy was likely to come, having under them the
fleetest horses on the moor. When a week passed there was
some slight relaxation in the watch, for it was evident that the







ACROSS THE BORDER


Bairds intended to bide their time for a stroke, knowing well
that they would not be likely to be able to effect a surprise at
present. The outlying posts were therefore no longer main-
tained, but the dogs of the hold, fully a dozen in number, were
chained nightly in a circle three or four hundred yards outside
it, and their barking would at once apprise the watchers in the
turrets on the walls of the approach of any body of armed
men.
Two days later Oswald started for his promised visit to the
Armstrongs. It was not considered necessary that he should
be accompanied by any of- the troopers, for Hinultie lay but a
few miles across the frontier. In high spirits he galloped
away, and riding through Yardhope was soon at Alwinton, and
thence took the track through Kidland Lee, passed round the
head of the Usmay brook, along the foot of Maiden Cross
Hill, and crossed the frontier at Windy Guile. Here he
stood on the crest of the Cheviots, and descending passed
along at the foot of Windburgh Hill, and by noon entered
the tiny hamlet of Hinultie, above which, perched on one of
the spurs of the hill, stood the Armstrongs' hold. It was
smaller than that of Yardhope and. had no surrounding wall,
but, like it, was built for defence against a sudden attack.
Adam Armstrong was on good terms with his neighbours
across the border. Although other members of his family
were frequently engaged in forays, it was seldom indeed that
he buckled on armour, and only when there was a general call
to arms. He was, however, on bad terms with the Bairds,
partly because his wife was a sister of Forster's, partly because
of frays that had arisen between his herdsmen and those of
the Bairds, for his cattle wandered far and wide on the moun-
tain slopes to the south, and sometimes passed the ill-defined
line, beyond which the Bairds regarded the country as their
own. Jedburgh was but ten miles away, Hawick but six or







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


seven, and any stay after the sun rose would speedily have
brought strong bodies of men from these towns, as well as
from his still nearer neighbours, at Chester, Abbotrule, and
Hobkirk.
Oswald's approach was seen, and two of his cousins -Allan,
who was a lad of about the same age, and Janet, a year
younger--ran out from the house to meet him.
"We have been expecting you for the last ten days," the
former exclaimed, "and had well-nigh given you up."
"I hold you to be a laggard," the girl added, "and unless
you can duly excuse yourself shall have nought to say to you."
"My excuse is a good one, Janet. My father made a foray
a fortnight since into the Bairds' country, to rescue some of
the cattle they had driven off from our neighbours some days
before. There was a sharp fight, and Allan Baird was killed,
and since then we have been expecting a return visit from
them, and have been sleeping with our arms beside us.
Doubtless they will come some day, but as it is evident they
don't mean to come at present, my father let me leave."
"In that case we must forgive you," the girl said. "Some
rumours of the fray have reached us, and my father shook his
head gravely when he heard that another Baird had been
killed by the Forsters."
"It was not only us," Oswald replied. "There were some
of the Liddels, and the Hopes, and other families, engaged.
My father was chosen as chief; but this time it was not our
quarrel but theirs, for we had lost no cattle,. and my father
only joined because they had aided us last time, and he could
not hold back now. Of course he was chosen as chief be-
cause he knows the country so well."
"Well, come in, Oswald. It is poor hospitality to keep you
talking here outside the door."
A boy had already taken charge of Oswald's horse, and






ACROSS THE BORDER 21

after unstrapping his valise had led it to a stable that formed
the basement of the house.
"Well, laddie, how fares it with you at home?" Adam
Armstrong said heartily as they mounted the steps to the
main entrance. "We have heard of your wild doings with
the Bairds. 'T is a pity that these feuds should go on from
father to son, ever getting more and more bitter. But there,
we can no more change a borderer's nature than you can
stop the tide in the Solway. I hear that it was well-nigh a
pitched battle."
"There was hard fighting," Oswald replied. "Three of our
troopers and eight or ten of the others were killed. My
father was twice wounded, one of the Hopes was killed, and a
Liddel severely wounded. But, from what they say, the Bairds
suffered more. Had they not done so there would have been
a hot pursuit, but as far as we know there was none."
"The Bairds will bide their time," Armstrong said gravely.
"They are dour men, and will take their turn though they
wait ten years for it."
"At any rate, they won't catch us sleeping, uncle, and come
they however strong they may, they will find it hard work to
capture the hold."
"Ay, ay, lad, but I don't think they will try to knock their
heads against your wall. They are more like to sweep down
on a sudden, and your watchman will need keen eyes to make
them out before they are thundering at the gate or climbing
up the wall. However, your father knows his danger, and it
is of no use talking more of it. What is done, is done."
And how is your mother, Oswald? Mistress Armstrong
asked.
"She is well, aunt, and bade me give her love to you."
"Truly I wonder she keeps her health with all these troubles
and anxieties. We had hoped that, after the meeting last






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


March of the Commissioners on both sides, when the Lords
of the Marches plighted their faith to each other and agreed
to surrender all prisoners without ransom and to forgive all
offenders, we should have had peace on the border. As you
know, there were but three exceptions named; namely, Adam
Warden, William Baird, and Adam French, whom the Scotch
Commissioners bound themselves to arrest and to hand over
to the English Commissioners, to be tried as being notorious
truce-breakers, doing infinite mischief to the dwellers on the
English side of the border. And yet nothing has come of it,
and these men still continue to make their raids without check
or hindrance either by the Earl of March or Douglas."
"There are faults on both sides, wife," her husband said.
"I do not deny it, gudeman; but I have often heard you
say these three men are the pests of the border, and that were
it not for them things might go on reasonably enough, for no
one counts a few head of cattle lifted now and again. It is
bad enough that every two or three years armies should march
across the border, one way or the other, but surely we might
live peaceably between times. Did not I nearly lose you at
Otterburn, and had you laid up on my hands for well-nigh six
months? "
Ay, that was a sore day for both sides."
"Will you tell me about it, uncle? Oswald asked. "My
father cares not much to talk of it; and though I know
that he fought there, he has never told me the story of the
battle."
We are just going to sit down to dinner now," Adam Arm-
strong said, "and the story is a long one; but after we have
done I will tell you of it. Your father need not feel so sore
about it, for since the days of the Bruce you have had as many
victories to count as we have."
After dinner, however, Armstrong had to settle a dispute






ACROSS THE BORDER


between two of his tenants as to grazing rights, and it was
not until evening that he told his story.
"In 1388 there were all sorts of troubles in England, and
France naturally took advantage of them and recommended
hostilities, and we prepared to share in the game. Word was
sent round privately, and every man was bidden to gather in
Jedburgh forest. I tell you, lad, I went with a heavy heart,
for although men of our name have the reputation of being
as quarrelsome fellows as any that dwell on the border, I am
an exception, and love peace and quiet; moreover, the children
were but young, and I saw that the fight would be a heavy
business, and I did not like leaving them and their mother.
However, there was no help for it, and we gathered there over
40,000 strong. The main body marched away into Cumber-
land, but Douglas, March, and Moray, with 300 spears and
2,000 footmen, including many an Armstrong, entered North-
umberland.
".We marched without turning to the right or left, or staying
to attack town, castle, or house, till we crossed the river Tyne
and entered Durham. Then we began the war, burning,
ravaging, and slaying. I liked it not, for although when it
comes to fighting I am ready if needs be to bear my part, I
care not to attack peaceful people. It is true that your kings
have over and over again laid waste half Scotland, killing,
slaying, and hanging; but it does not seem to me any satis-
-faction, because some twenty of my ancestors have been
murdered, to slay twenty people who were not born until long
afterwards, and whose forebears for aught I know may have
had no hand in the slaughter of mine. However, having
laden ourselves with plunder from Durham, we sat down for
three days before Newcastle, where we had some sharp skir-
mishes with Sir Henry and his brother Sir Ralph Percy, and
in one of these captured Sir Henry's pennant.






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


"Then we marched away to Otterburn, after receiving
warning from Percy that he intended to win his pennant back
again before we left Northumberland. We attacked Otterburn
Castle, but failed to carry it, for it was strong and well de-
fended. There was a council that night, and most of the
leaders were in favour of retiring at once to Scotland with the
abundance of spoil that we had gained. But Douglas per-
suaded them to remain two or three days and to capture the
castle, and not to go off as if afraid of Percy's threats. So we
waited all the next day, and at night the Percys with 600
spears and 8,000 infantry came up. Our leaders had not been
idle, for they had examined the ground carefully, and arranged
how the battle should be fought if we were attacked.
Having heard nothing of the English all day, we lay down
to sleep, not expecting to hear aught of them until the morning.
It was a moonlight night, and, being in August, there was
but a short darkness between the twilights, and the English,
arriving, at once made an attack, falling first on the servants'
huts, which they took for those of the chiefs. This gave us
time to form up in good order, as we had lain down each in
his proper position. A portion of the force went down to
skirmish with the English in front, but the greater portion
marched along the mountain side and fell suddenly upon the
English flank. At first there was great confusion, but the
English being more numerous soon recovered their order and
pushed us back, though not without much loss on both sides.
Douglas shouted his battle-cry, advanced his banner, fight-
ing most bravely, as did Sir Patrick Hepburn, but for whose
bravery the Douglas banner would have been taken, for the
Percys, hearing the cry of 'a Douglas a Douglas !' pressed
to that part of the field and bore us backwards. I was in the
midst of it with ten of my kinsmen; and though we all fought
as became men, we were pressed back, and began to think that







ACROSS THE BORDER


the day would be lost. Then the young earl, furious at seeing
disaster threaten him, dashed into the midst of the English
ranks swinging his battle-axe, and for a time cutting a way
for himself. But one man's strength and courage can go for
but little in such a fray. Some of his knights and squires had
followed him, but in the darkness it was but few who per-
ceived his advance.
Presently three knights met him, and all their spears
pierced him, and he was borne from his horse mortally
wounded. Happily the English were unaware that it was
Douglas who had fallen. Had they known it, their courage
would have been mightily raised, and the day would assuredly
have been lost. We too were ignorant that Douglas had fallen,
and still fought on. In other parts of the field March and
Moray were holding their own bravely. Sir Ralph Percy, who
had, like Douglas, charged almost alone into Moray's ranks,
was sorely wounded, and, being surrounded, surrendered, to
Sir John Maxwell. Elsewhere many captures were made by
both parties; but as the fight went on the advantage turned
to our side, for we had rested all the day before, and began
the battle fresh, after some hours of sleep, while the English
had marched eight leagues and were weary when they began
the fight.
Sir James Lindsay and Sir Walter Sinclair with some other
knights who had followed Douglas found him still alive. With
his last words he ordered them to raise his banner and to shout
'Douglas !' so that friends and foes should think that he was of
their party. These instructions they followed. We and others
pressed forwards on hearing the shout, and soon, a large party
being collected, resumed the battle at this point. Moray and
March both bore their arrays in the direction where they
believed Douglas to be battling, and so together we pressed
upon the English so hardly that they retreated, and for five







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


miles we pursued them very hotly. Very many prisoners were
taken, but all of quality were at once put to ransom and
allowed to depart, on giving their knightly word of payment
within fifteen days.
It was a great victory, and in truth none of us well knew
how it had come about, for the English had fought as well and
valiantly as we did ourselves; but it is ill for wearied men
to fight against fresh ones. Never was I more surprised than
when we found that the battle, which for a time had gone
mightily against us, was yet won in the end. Methinks that it
was to a great extent due to the fact that each Englishman
fought for himself, while we, having on the previous day re-
ceived the strictest orders to fight each man under his leader,
to hold together, and to obey orders in all respects, kept in our
companies, and so in the end gained the day against a foe as
brave and much more numerous than ourselves."
"Thank you, Uncle Armstrong. I have often wondered how
it was that the Percys, being three to one against you, were yet
defeated, fighting on their own ground as it were. 'T is long
indeed since we suffered so great a reverse."
"That is true enough, Oswald. In the days of Wallace and
Bruce we Scots often won battles with long odds against us;
but that was because we fought on foot, and the English for
the most part on horseback, a method good enough on an
open plain, but ill fitted for a land of morass and hill like
Scotland. Since the English also took to fighting on foot, the
chances have been equal, and we have repulsed invasions not
so much by force as by falling back, and so wasting the coun-
try that the English had but the choice of retreating or starving.
There is reason, indeed, why, when equal forces are arrayed
against each other, the chances should also be equal, for we
are come of the same stock, and the men of the northern
marches of England and those of Scotland are alike hardy and







ACROSS THE BORDER


accustomed to war. Were we but a united people as you
English are, methinks that there would never have been such
constant wars between us, for English kings would not have
cared to have invaded a country where they would find but
little spoil, and have hard work to take it. But our nobles
have always been ready to turn traitors; they are mostly of
Norman blood and Norman name, and no small part of them
have estates in England as well as in Scotland. Hence it is
that our worst enemies have always been in our midst. And
now it is time for bed, or you will be heavy in the morning;
and I know that you intend starting at dawn with the dogs,
and have promised to bring in some hares for dinner."
Not only Oswald and Allan, but Janet also, was afoot early,
and after taking a basin of porridge started for the hills, ac-
companied by four dogs. They carried with them bows and
arrows, in case the dogs should drive the hares within shot.
Six hours later they returned, carrying with them five hares
and a brace of birds. These had both fallen to Oswald's bow,
being shot while on the ground, for in those days the idea that
it was unsportsmanlike to shoot game except when flying was
unknown. For a week they went out every day, sometimes
with the dogs, but more often with hawks, which were trained
to fly not only at birds in their flight, but at hares, on whose
heads they alighted, pecking them and beating them so fiercely
with their wings that they gave time for the party on foot to
run up and despatch the quarry with an arrow.
Once or twice they accompanied Adam Armstrong when he
rode to some of the towns in the neighbourhood and spent the
day with friends of the Armstrongs there. For a fortnight the
time passed very pleasantly to the English lad, but at the end
of that time Adam Armstrong returned from a visit to Jed-
burgh with a grave face. I have news," he said, that your
King Richard has been deposed, that Henry, the Duke of







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


Lancaster, having landed in Yorkshire, was joined by Percy
and the Earl of Westmoreland, and has been proclaimed king.
This will cause great troubles in England, for surely there must
be many there who will not tamely see a king dethroned by
treasonable practices, and another having no just title to the
crown promoted to his place. Such a thing is contrary to all
reason and justice. A king has the same right to his crown as
a noble to his estates, and none may justly take them away
save for treasonable practices, and a king cannot commit
treason against himself. Therefore it is like that there will be
much trouble in England, and I fear that there is no chance of
the truce that concludes at the end of this month being
continued.
The fact that the two great northern lords of England are
both with their forces in the south will further encourage
trouble, and the peace that with small intermissions has contin-
ued since the battle of Otterburn is like to be broken. There-
fore, my lad, I think it best that you should cut short your
visit by a week, and you shall return and finish it when
matters have settled down. Here in Scotland we are not with-
out troubles; ill-blood has arisen between March and Douglas,
owing to the Duke of Ramsay breaking his promise to marry
the Earl of March's daughter and taking Douglas's girl to wife.
This, too, has sorely angered one more powerful than either
Douglas or March I mean, of course, Albany, who really
exercises the kingly power.
"But troubles in Scotland will in no way prevent war from
breaking out with England. On the contrary, the quarrel
between the two great lords of our marches will cause them to
loose their hold of the border men, and I foresee that we shall
have frays and forays among ourselves again, as in the worst
times of old; therefore it were best that you went home.
While these things are going on, the private friendship between







ACROSS THE BORDER


so many families on either side of the border must be sus-
pended, and all intercourse, for maybe every man on either
side will be called to arms, and assuredly it will not be safe
for one of either nation to set foot across the border save
armed, and with a strong clump of spears at his back."
"I shall be sorry indeed to go," Oswald said, "but I see
that if troubles do, as you fear, break out at the conclusion of
the peace a fortnight hence "
They may not wait for that," Adam Armstrong interrupted
him. "A truce is only a truce so long as there are those
strong enough to enforce it, and with Douglas and March at
variance on our side, and Northumberland and Westmoreland
absent on yours, there are none to see that the truce is not
broken, and from what I hear it may not be many days before
we see the smoke of burning houses rising upon either side of
the border."
"The more reason for my going home," Oswald said. My
father is not likely to be last in a fray, and assuredly he would
not like me to be away across the border when swords are
drawn. I am very sorry, but I see that there is no help for it,
and to-morrow at daybreak I will start for home."
That evening was the dullest Oswald had spent during his
visit. The prospect that the two nations might soon be engaged
in another desperate struggle saddened the young cousins, who
felt that a long time might elapse before they again met, and
that in the meantime their fathers, and possibly themselves,
might be fighting in opposite ranks. Although the breaches
of the truces caused, as a rule, but little bloodshed, being in
fact but cattle-lifting expeditions, it was very different in time
of war, when wholesale massacres took place on both sides,
towns and villages were burned down, and the whole of the
inhabitants put to the sword. Ten years had sufficed to soften
the memory of these events, especially among young people,







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


but each had heard numberless stories of wrong and slaughter,
and felt that when war once again broke out in earnest, there
was little hope that there would be any change in the manner
in which it would be conducted.
Oswald rode rapidly until he had crossed the border. The
truce would not expire for another thirteen days, but the
raiders might be at work at any moment, for assuredly there
would be no chance of complaints being made on the eve of
recommencement of general hostilities. He met no one on the
road until he reached the first hamlet on the English side; here
he stopped to give his horse half an hour's rest and a feed.
As he dismounted, two or three of the villagers came up.
"Have you heard aught, lad, of any gatherings on the other
side of the border?"
"None from where I came; but there was a talk that
notices had been sent through the southern Scottish marches
for all to be in readiness to gather to the banner without delay
when the summons was received."
"That is what we have heard," a man said. "We have made
everything in readiness to drive off our cattle to the fells; the
beacons are all prepared for lighting from Berwick down to
Carlisle, and assuredly the Scotch will find little near the
border to carry back with them. You are the son of stout
John Forster of Yardhope Keep, are you not? I saw you rid-
ing by his side two months since at Alwinton fair."
"Yes, I was there with him."
"He will have hot work if a Scotch army marches into
Tynedale. The Bairds will be sure to muster strongly, and
they won't forgive the last raid on them, and whichever way
they go you may be sure that your father's hold will receive
a visit."
It was but a return raid," Oswald said. "The Bairds had
been down our way but a short time before and lifted all the







ACROSS THE BORDER


cattle and horses that they could lay hands on for miles
round."
"That is true enough. We all know the thieving loons.
But men remember the injuries they have suffered better than
those they have inflicted, and they will count Allan Baird's
death as more than a set-off for a score of their own
forays."
If we have only the Bairds to settle with, we can hold our
walls against them," Oswald said; "but if the whole of the
Scotch army come our way, we must do as you are doing,
drive the cattle to the hills, and leave them to do what harm
they can to the stone walls, which they will find it hard work
to damage."
"Ay, I have heard that they are stronger than ordinary,
and so they need be, seeing that you have a blood feud with
the Bairds. Well, they are not like to have much time to
waste over it, for our sheriff has already sent word here as to
the places where we are to gather when the beacon-fires are
lighted, and you may be sure that the Percys will lose no
time in marching against them with all their array; and the
Scots are like to find, as they have found before, that it is an
easier thing to cross the border than it is to get back."
Late that evening Oswald returned home. After the first
greetings his father said : "It is high time that you were back,
Oswald. Rumour is busy all along the border; but for my-
self, though I doubt not that their moss-troopers will be on
the move as soon as the truce ends, I think there will not be
any invasion in force for some little time. The great lords of
the Scotch marches are ill friends with each other, and until
the quarrel between Douglas and Dunbar is patched up,
neither will venture to march his forces into England. It
may be months yet before we see their pennons flying on
English soil. My brother Alwyn has been over here for a day







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


or two since you were away. The Percys are down south, so
he was free to ride over here.
He wants us to send you to him without loss of time. He
says that there is a vacancy in Percy's household, owing to
one of his esquires being made a knight, and a page has been
promoted to an esquireship. He said that he spoke to Hot-
spur before he went south anent the matter, and asked him
to enroll you not exactly as a page, but as one who, from his
knowledge of the border, would be a safe and trusty messen-
ger to send in case of need. As he has served the Percys for
thirty years, and for ten has been the captain of their men-at-
arms, and has never asked for aught either for himself or his
relations, Percy gave him a favourable answer, and said that if
on his return he would present you to him, and he found that
you were a lad of manners that would be suitable for a mem-
ber of his household, he would grant his request, partly, too,
because my father and myself had always been stanch men,
and ready at all times to join his banner when summoned and
to fight doughtily. So there seems a good chance of prefer-
ment for you.
"Your mother is willing that you should go. She says, and
truly enough, that if you stay here it will be but to engage, as
I and my forebears have done, in constant feuds with the
Scots, harrying and being harried, never knowing when we
lie down to rest but that we may be woke up by the battle-
shout of the Bairds, and leaving behind us when we die no
more than we took from our fathers. I know not how your
own thoughts may run in the matter, Oswald, but methinks
that there is much in what she says, though for myself I wish
for nothing better than what I am accustomed to. Percy would
have knighted me had I wished it years ago, but plain Jock
Forster I was born and so will I die when my time comes;
for it would alter my condition in no way, save that as Jock







ACROSS THE BORDER


Forster I can lead a raid across the border, but as Sir John
Forster it would be hardly seemly for me to do so save when
there is open war between the countries.
"It is different in your case; you are young, and can fit
yourself to another mode of life, and can win for yourself with
your sword a better fortune than you will inherit from me.
Besides, lad, I am like enough, unless a Baird spear finishes
me sooner, to live another thirty years yet, and it is always
sure to lead to trouble if there are two cocks in one farmyard.
You would have your notions as to how matters should be
done, and I should have mine; and so for many reasons it is
right that you should go out into the world. If matters go
well with you, all the better; if not, you will always be wel-
come back here, and will be master when I am gone. What
say you?"
It comes suddenly upon me, father; but as I have always
thought that I should like to see something of the world be-
yond our own dales, I would gladly, for a time at least, accept
my uncle's offer, which is a rare one and far beyond my hopes.
I should be sorry to leave you and my mother, but save for
that, it seems to me, as to you, that it would be best for me to
go out into the world for a time."
"Then that is settled, and to-morrow you shall ride to Aln-
wick and see, at any rate, if aught comes of the matter. Do
not cry, wife; it is your counsel that I am acting upon, and
you have told me you are sure that it is best that he should
go. It is not as if he were taking service with a southern
lord. He will be but a day's ride away from us, and doubtless
will be able to come over at times and stay a day or two with
us; and once a year, when times are peaceable, you shall ride
behind me on a pillion to see how things go with him at the
Percys' castle. At any rate, it will be better by far than if he
had carried out that silly fancy of his for putting himself in
3







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


the hands of the monks and learning to read and write, which
would perchance have ended in his shaving his crown and
taking to a cowl, and there would have been an end of the
Forsters of Yardhope. Now put that cold joint upon the
table again; doubtless the lad has a wolfs appetite."
There was no time lost. The next day was spent in looking
out his clothes and packing his valise by his mother, while he
rode round the country to say good-bye to some of his friends.
The next morning at daybreak he started, and at nightfall
rode into the castle of Alnwick and inquired for Alwyn For-
ster. The two men-at-arms, who had regarded his appearance
on his shaggy border horse with scarce concealed contempt, at
once answered civilly that the captain would be found in his
room in the north turret. They then pointed out to him the
stables where he could bestow his horse, and having seen some
hay placed before it, and a feed of barley, to which the animal
was but little accustomed, Oswald made his way up the turret
to the room in which his uncle lodged.
The stately castle, and the beauty as well as the strength of
the Percys' great stronghold, had in no small degree surprised
and almost awed the lad, accustomed only to the rough border
holds. It was situated on rising ground on the river Aln, and
consisted of a great keep, which dated back to the times of the
Saxons, and three courts, each of which were indeed separate
fortresses, the embattled gates being furnished with portcullises
and strong towers. Within the circuit of its walls it contained
some five acres of ground with sixteen towers, the outer wall
being surrounded by a moat.
The Percys were descended from a Danish chief, who was
one of the conquerors of Normandy, and settled there. The
Percy of the time came over with William the Norman, and
obtained from him the gift of large possessions in the south
of England and in Yorkshire, and, marrying a great Saxon







ACROSS THE BORDER


heiress, added to his wide lands in the north. One of the
Percys in the reign of Henry II. made a journey to Jerusalem,
and died in the Holy Land. None of his four sons survived
him. His eldest daughter Maude married the Earl of War-
wick, but, dying childless, her sister Agnes became sole heir to
the broad lands of the Percys. She married the son of the
Duke of Brabant, the condition of her marriage being that he
should either take the arms of the Percys instead of his own,
or continue to bear his own arms and take the name of Percy.
He chose the latter alternative. Their son was one of the
barons who forced King John to grant the Magna Charta.
The Percys always distinguished themselves in the wars against
the Scots, and received at various times grants of territory in that
country, one of them being made Earl of Carrick when Robert
the Bruce raised the standard of revolt against England.
Upon the other hand, they not unfrequently took a share in
risings against the Kings of England, and their estates were
confiscated for a time by their taking a leading part in the
action against Piers Gaveston, the royal favourite. It was in
the reign of Henry II. that the Percy of the time obtained by
purchase the Barony of Alnwick, which from that date became
the chief seat of the family. The present earl was the first
of the rank, having been created by Richard II. He was one
of the most powerful nobles in England, and it was at his invita-
tion that Henry of Lancaster had come over from France and
"had been placed on the throne by the Percys and some other
of the northern nobles, and as a reward for his service the
earl was created High Constable of England.







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


CHAPTER III

AT ALNWICK

" Y{OU are rarely changed, Oswald," his uncle said as the
S lad entered his apartment. 'T is three years since
I last saw you, and you have shot up nigh a head since then.
I should not have known you had I met you in the street, but
as I was expecting you, it is easy to recall your features. I
made sure that you would come, for although your father was
at first averse to my offer I soon found that your mother was
on my side, and I know that in the long run my brother
generally gives in to her wishes; and I was sure that as you
were a lad of spirit you would be glad to try a flight from
home. You are growing up mightily like your father, and
promise to be as big and as strong as we both are; your eyes
speak of a bold disposition, and my brother tells me that you
are already well practised with your arms. You understand
that it is Sir Henry, whom they call Hotspur, that you are to
serve. As to the earl, he is too great a personage for me to
ask a favour from, but Sir Henry is different.
"I taught him the first use of his arms, and many a bout
have I had with him. He treats me as a comrade rather than
as the captain of his father's men-at-arms here; and when I
spoke to him about you he said at once, 'Bring him here, and
we will see what we can do for him. If he is a fellow of parts
and discretion, I doubt not that we can make him useful. You
say he knows every inch of our side of the border and some-
thing of the Scottish side of it, his mother's sister being mar-
ried to one of the Armstrongs. There is like to be trouble
before long. You know the purpose for which I am going






AT ALNWICK 37

away; and the Scots are sure to take advantage of changes
in England, and a youth who can ride, and knows the border,
and can, if needs be, strike a blow in self-defence, will not
have to stay idle in the castle long. His father is a stout with-
stander of the Scots, and the earl would have given him knight-
hood if he would have taken it, and maybe in the future the son
will win that honour. He is too old for a page, and I should
say too little versed in our ways for such a post, but I promise
you that when he is old enough he shall be one of my esquires.'
So you may soon have an opportunity of showing Hotspur
what you are made of. And now I doubt not that you are
hungry; I will send down to the buttery for a couple of
tankards and a pasty. I had my supper two hours ago, but I
doubt not that I can keep you company in another."
He went to the window and called out, "John Horn!"
The name was repeated below, and in two minutes a servant
came up. The captain gave him directions, and they shortly
sat down to a substantial meal.
"The first thing to do, lad, will be to get you garments
more suitable to the Percys'.castle than those you have on;
they are good enough to put on under armour or when you ride
in a foray; but here one who would ride in the train of the
Percys must make a brave show. It is curfew now, but to-morrow
early we will sally into the town, where we shall find a good
choice of garments for men of all conditions. You hold your-
self well, and you have something of your mother's softness of
speech, and will, I think, make a good impression on Sir
Henry when suitably clad. You see, there are many sons of
knights of good repute and standing who would be glad indeed
that their sons should obtain a post in Hotspur's personal fol-
lowing, and who might grumble were they passed over in
favour of one who, by his appearance, was of lower condition
than themselves.






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


"John Forster is well known on the border as a valiant
fighter and a 1ldiL: man in Coquetdale. It is known, too,
that he might have been knighted had he chosen, and doubt-
less there are many who, having heard that his hold is one of
the strongest on the border, give him credit for having far
wider possessions than that bit of moor round the hold, and
grazing rights for miles beyond it. If, then, you make a brave
show, none will question the choice that Hotspur may make;
but were you to appear in that garb you have on,-they might
well deem that your father is, after all, but a moss-trooper. He
told me that you had once a fancy to learn to read and write.
What put that idea into your head? I do not say that it was
not a good one, but at least it was a strange one for a lad
l_,..,,,Lht up as you have been."
"I think, uncle, that it was rather my mother's idea than
my own; she tli...u-g!t that it might conduce to my advance-
ment should I ever leave the hold and go out into the world."
'I,- was quite right, Oswald, and 'tis a pity that you did
not go for a couple of years to a monastery. It is a good
ilin to be able to read an order.or to write one, for many of
the lords and knights can do no more than make a shift to sign
their names. As for books, I say nc-:hin;. for I see not what
manner of ,I.<-I1 tl, y :arc, but father Erli.it, who is chaplain
w, .,.. t..-i~ me that one who ti s his mind to it can in a year
learn enough to write down, not in a :ir:'..y 1- i.nd. but in one
that can be understood, ..u letter or order his lord r_:.y
wish sent, or to read for him c..n' that he receives. In most
. .u, i '.- il .,-, an order by '...: i of mouth is just as good
as one writ on u llnII. but there are times .- :n a messenger
could not be i :., to I.. Ul. r one .s:a t ir.tl .1 as Ir; r,.: ivces it,
or it minl : have to be 1 .-.-i on from hand to hand. -'.h:r-
wise a spoken message is the 1- :.t, t. i f a messenger be killed
on the way none are te wiser as to the errand on which he is






AT ALNWICK 89

going, while, if a parchment is found on him, the first priest
or monk can translate its purport. The chaplain has two
younger priests with him, and should you be willing I doubt
not that one of these would give you instruction for an hour or
two of a day. The Percys may not be back for another month
or two, and if you apply yourself to it honestly you might learn
something by that time."
I should like it very much, uncle."
Then, so it shall be, lad. For two or three hours a day
you must practise in arms, I have some rare swordsmen
among my fellows, but for the rest of the time you will be
your own master. I will speak with father Ernulf in the morn-
ing after we have seen to the matter of your garments."
A straw pallet was brought up to the chamber, and after
chatting for half an hour about his visit to the Armstrongs,
Oswald took off his riding-boots and jerkin, the total amount
of disrobing usual at that time on the border, and was soon
asleep.
"I am afraid, uncle," he said in the morning, "that the
furnishment of the purse my father gave me at starting will
not go far towards what you may consider necessary for my
outfit."
"That need not trouble you at all, lad. I told your father
I should take all charges upon myself, having no children of
my own, and no way to spend my money, therefore I can
afford well to do as I like towards you. Once the war begins,
you will fill your purse yourself, for although the peoples of
the towns and villages suffer by the Scotch incursions, we men-
at-arms profit by a war. We have nought that they can take
from us but our lives, while we take our share of the booty,
and have the ransom of any knights or gentlemen we may
make prisoners."
Accordingly they went into Alnwick, and Alwyn Forster






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


bought for his nephew several suits of clothes suitable for a
young gentleman of good family, together with armour of
much more modern fashion than that to which Oswald was
accustomed. When they returned to the castle the lad was
told to put on one of these suits at once.
"Make your old ones up in a bundle," his uncle said.
"There may be occasions when you may find such clothes
useful, though here assuredly they are out of place. Now I
will' go with you to father Ernulf."
The priest's abode was in what was called the Abbots'
Tower, which was the one nearest to the large monastery out-
side the walls.
I told you, father," the captain said, "that belike my
nephew would join me here, as I was going to present him to
Sir Henry Percy. The good knight will not be back again
mayhap for some weeks, and the lad has a fancy to learn to
read and write, and I thought you might put him in the way
of his attaining such knowledge."
"He looks as if the sword will suit his hand better than the
pen," the priest said with a smile, as his eye glanced over the
lad's active figure. But surely, if he is so inclined, I shall be
glad to further his wishes. There is a monk at the monastery
who, although a good scholar, is fitted rather for the army
than the Church. He was one of our teachers, but in sooth had
but little patience with the blunders of the children; but I am
sure that he would gladly give his aid to a lad like this, and
would bear with him if he really did his best. I have nought
to do at present, and will go down with him at once and talk
to friar Roger. If the latter would rather have nought to do
with it, one of my juniors shall undertake the task; but I am
sure that the friar would make a better instructor, if he would
take it in hand.
He is a stout man-at-arms for, as you know, when the







AT ALNWICK


Scots cross the border, the abbot always sends a party of his
stoutest monks to fight in Percy's ranks, as is but right, seeing
that the Scots plunder a monastery as readily as a village.
Friar Roger was the senior in command under the sub-prior
of the monks who fought at Otterburn, and all say that none
fought more stoutly, and the monks were the last to fall back
on that unfortunate day. They say that he incurred many
penances for his unchurchly language during the fight, but
that the abbot remitted them on account of the valour that
he had shown."
Accordingly the priest went off with Oswald to the monas-
tery, while Alwyn Forster remained to attend to his duties as
captain of the men-at-arms. On his saying that he wished to
see the friar Roger, the priest was shown into a waiting-room,
where the monk soon joined them. He was a tall, powerful
man, standing much over six feet in height, and of propor-
tionate width of shoulders. He carried his head erect, and
looked more like a man-at-arms in disguise than a monk. He
bent his head to the priest, and then said in a hearty tone :
"Well, father Ernulf, what would you with me to-day?
You have no news of the Scots having crossed the border, and
I fear that there is no chance at present of my donning a
cuirass over my gown?"
None at present, brother, though it may well be so before
long. I hope that we shall soon have the earl and his son
back again, for the Scots are sure to take advantage of their
absence now that the truce is expired. No, I want you on
other business. This young gentleman is the nephew of
Alwyn Forster, whom you know."
"Right well, father, a good fellow and a stout fighter."
"He is about to enter Sir Henry's household," the priest
went on; "but seeing that the knight is still away, and may
be absent for some weeks yet, the young man is anxious to







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


learn to read and write- not from any idea of entering the
Church," he broke off with a smile at the expression of surprise
on the monk's face, but that it may be useful to him in
procuring advancement. I have therefore brought him to you,
thinking that you would make a far better teacher for a lad
like him than your brothers in the school. I thought perhaps
that if I spoke to the abbot he might release you from your
attendance at some of the services for such a purpose."
"That is a consideration," the monk laughed. "Well,
young sir, I tell you fairly that among my gifts is not that of
patience with fools. If you are disposed to work right heartily,
as I suppose you must be or you would not make such a
request, I on my part will do my best to teach you; but you
must not mind if sometimes you get a rough buffet to assist
your memory."
"I should doubt whether a buffet from you would not be
more likely to confuse my memory than to assist it," Oswald
said with a smile; "but at any rate I am ready to take my
chance,*and can promise to do my best to avoid taxing your
patience to that point."
"That will do, father," the monk said. "He is a lad of
spirit, and it is a pleasure to train one of that kind. As to
the puny boys they send to be made monks because, forsooth,
they are likely to grow up too weak for any other calling, I
have no patience with them, and I get into sore disgrace
with the abbot for my shortness of temper."
I am afraid, from what I hear," the priest said, shaking his
head, but unable to repress a smile, "that you are often in
disgrace, brother Roger."
"I fear that it is so, and were it not that I am useful in
teaching the lay brothers and the younger monks the use of
the carnal weapons, I know that before this I should have
been bundled out, neck and crop. 'Tis hard, father, for a












I
7--

~-2i


11!


THISS IS THE NEPHEW OF ALWYN FORSTER."


'I


-a---.
t







AT ALNWICK


man of my inches to be shut up here when there is so much
fighting to be done abroad."
"There is good work to be done everywhere," the priest
said gravely. "Many of us may have made a mistake in
choosing our vocations, but, if so, we must make the best
we can of what is before us."
"What time will you come? the monk asked Oswald.
My uncle said that he would suit my hours to yours; but
that if it was all the same to you I should practise in arms
from six o'clock till eight, and again for an hour or two in the
evening, so that I could come to you either in the morning or
afternoon."
"Come at both if you will," the monk said. "If the good
father can get me off the services from eight till six, you can
be with me all that time save at the dinner-hour. You have
but a short time to learn in, and must give yourself heartily to
it. There is the chapel bell ringing now, and I must be off.
The abbot will not be present at this service, father, and if
you will you can see him now. I doubt not that he will grant
your request, for I know that I anger him every time I am in
chapel. I am fond of music, and I have a voice like a bull,
and do what I will it will come out in spite of me; and he says
that my roaring destroys the effect of the whole choir."
So saying he strode away.
Do you wait outside the gates, my son," the priest said.
" I shall be only a few minutes with the abbot, who, as friar
Roger says, will, I doubt not, be glad enough to grant him
leave to abstain from attendance at the services."
In a short time indeed he rejoined Oswald at the gate.
"That matter was managed easily enough," he said. "The
abbot has himself a somewhat warlike disposition, which is not
to be wondered at, seeing that he comes from a family ever
ready to draw the sword, and he has therefore a liking for







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


friar Roger, in spite of his contumacies, breaches of regula-
tions, and quarrels with the other monks. He is obliged to
continually punish him with sentences of seclusion, penance,
and fasting, but methinks it goes against the grain. He said
at once that he was delighted to hear that he had voluntarily
undertaken some work that would keep him out of trouble,
and that he willingly, and indeed gladly, absolved him from
attendance in chapel during the hours that he was occupied
with you."
He is not without his uses," he said. "He is in special
charge of the garden, and looks after the lay brothers em-
ployed in it. I will put someone else in charge while he is
busy, though I doubt if any will get as much work out of the
lay brothers as he does, and indeed he himself labours harder
than any of them. With any other I should say that tucking
his gown round his waist and labouring with might and main
was unseemly, but as it works off some of his superabundant
energy, I do not interfere with him."
"How ever did he become a monk, father? "
"It seems that he was a somewhat sickly child, and his
father sent him to the monastery to be taught with a view to
entering the Church. He was quick and bright in his parts,
but as his health improved he grew restless, and at fifteen
refused to follow the vocation marked out for him, and re-
turned home, where, as I have heard, he took part in various
daring forays across the border. When he was five-and-twenty
he was wounded well-nigh to death in one of these, and he
took it as a judgment upon him for deserting the Church, so
he returned here and became a lay brother. He was a very
long time before he recovered his full strength, and before he
did so he became a monk, and I believe has bitterly regretted
the fact ever since. Some day, I am afraid, he will break the
bounds altogether, throw away his gown, assume a breast-plate






AT ALNWICK


and steel cap, and become an unfrocked monk. I believe he
fights hard against his inclinations, but they are too strong
for him. If war breaks out I fear that some day he will be
missing. He will, of course, go down south, where he will be
unknown, and where, when the hair on his tonsure has grown,
he can well pass as a man-at-arms, and take service with some
warlike lord. I trust that it may not be so, but he will
assuredly make a far better man-at-arms than he will ever
make a good monk."
The next morning, after practising for two hours with sword
and pike, Oswald went down at eight o'clock to the monastery
and was conducted to friar Roger's cell. The latter at once
began his instruction, handing him a piece of blackened board
and a bit of chalk.
Now," he said, you must learn to read and write together.
There are twenty-six letters, and of each there is a big one
and a little one. The big ones are only used at the beginning
of a sentence. That is where, if you were talking, you would
stop to take breath and begin afresh, and also at the first
letter of the names of people and places. The first letter is
'A.' There it is, in that horn-book, you see. It looks like
two men or two trees leaning against each other for support,
with a line which might be their hands, in the middle. Now
make a letter like that on your board. The little 'a,' is a
small circle with an upright with a tail to it; you might fancy
it a fish with its tail turned up. Now write each of those
twelve times."
So he continued with the first six letters.
"That will be as much as you will remember at first," he
said. Now we will begin spelling with those letters, and you
will see how they are used. You see it is a mixture of the
sounds of the two: 'b a' makes ba, and 'be' be, 'c a' ca,
'da' da, 'd e' de, and so on. Now we will work it out."







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


Oswald was intelligent, and anxious to learn. He had been
accustomed, when riding, to notice every irregularity of ground,
every rock and bush that might serve as a guide if lost in a
fog, and he very quickly took in the instruction given him;
and by the time the convent bell rung to dinner, he had made
a considerable progress with the variations that could be
formed with the six letters that he had learned, and the friar
expressed himself as highly satisfied with him.
"You have learned as much in one morning as many of the
boys who attend schools would learn in a month," he said.
If you go on like this, I will warrant that if Percy delays his
return for two months, you will know as much as many who
have been two years at the work. I have always said that it
is a mistake to teach children young; their minds do not take
in what you say to them. You may beat it into them, but
they get it only by rote, and painfully, because they don't
understand how one thing leads to another, and it is their
memory only, and not their minds that are at work."
The next day came news that the Scotch had crossed the
border, and there was great excitement in the castle; but it
was soon learned that the invasion was not on a great scale,
neither the Douglases nor the Earl of March having taken
part in it.
There is no fear of our being attacked here," Alwyn Forster
said to Oswald. "The sheriffs of the county will call out their
levies, and will soon make head against them. At the same
time we shall make preparations against any chance of their
coming hither."
This was done. Vast quantities of arrows were prepared,
stones collected and carried up to the points on the wall most
exposed to attack, and orders sent out by the governor of the
castle in the Percys' absence, to the people for many miles
round, that on the approach of the Scots all were to retire to







AT ALNWICK


refuge, the women and children taking to the hills, while the
men capable of bearing arms were to hasten to the defence of
the castle. For a time the Scots carried all before them,
wasting and devastating the country. Oswald heard that
they had captured without resistance his father's hold. He
rejoiced at the news, for he feared that, not knowing the
strength of the invading force, resistance might have been
attempted, in which case all in the hold might have been put
to the sword. He had no doubt now that his father and
mother had retired with their followers to the hills, as they
had always determined to do in case of an invasion by a force
too strong to resist.
Had the Percys been at home they might have held out,
confident that the Scotch would be attacked before they could
effect its capture, but as all the northern lords with their re-
tainers were away in the south it would be some time before a
force could be collected that could make head against the Scots.
A portion of the Scottish army laid siege to the castle of Wark
on the Tweed. This castle had always played a conspicuous
part in the border wars. It had been besieged and captured
by David of Scotland in the reign of Stephen, and two or
three years later was again besieged, but this time repulsed all
attacks. David, after his defeat at the battle of the Standard,
resumed the siege. It again repulsed all attacks, but at last
was reduced to an extremity by famine, and capitulated.
The castle was demolished by the Scots, but was rebuilt by
Henry the Second. In 1215 it was again besieged, this time
by King John, who resented the defection of the northern
barons, and it was captured and again destroyed. In 1318 it
was captured and destroyed by Robert Bruce. In 1341 it was
besieged by David Bruce, but held out until relieved by King
Edward himself. In 1383 it was again besieged by the Scots
and part of its fortifications demolished. On the present







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


occasion it was again captured and razed to the ground.
Another portion of the Scottish army, plundering and burning,
advanced along the valley of the Coquet. As they approached,
the inhabitants of the district round Alnwick began to pour
into the castle, but orders were issued that all the fighting men
should join the force of Sir Robert Umfraville, the sheriff of
the district, who was gathering a force to give the Scots battle.
"I fear that there is small chance of the Scots making their
way hither," Oswald's instructor said in lugubrious tones.
"Sir Robert is a stout fighter, and the Scots, laden as they
must be with booty, and having hitherto met with no resist-
ance, will be careless and like to be taken by surprise. Me-
thinks the abbot ought to send off a contingent to aid Sir
Robert."
Oswald laughed. "I suppose he wants to keep them for
more urgent work, and thinks that the Church should only
fight when in desperate straits. However, father, you may
have an opportunity yet, for we cannot regard it as certain
that Sir Robert will defeat the Scots."
Three days later, however, the news arrived that Sir Robert
had attacked the Scots at Fulhetlaw and utterly defeated them,
taking prisoner Sir Richard Rutherford and his five sons,
together with Sir William Stewart, John Turnbull, a noted
border river, and many others, and that those who had
escaped were in full flight for the border. The Scotch incur-
sion had made no change in Oswald's work. He continued
to study hard with the monk. As a rule he fully satisfied
his teacher, but at times, when he failed to name the letters
required to make up a certain sound, the latter lost all patience
with him and more than once with difficulty restrained himself
from striking him. Spelling in those days, however, had by
no means crystallised itself into any definite form, and there
was so large a latitude allowed that if the letters used gave







AT ALNWICK


an approximate sound to the word, it was deemed sufficient.
The consequence was that Oswald's education progressed at a
speed that would in these more rigid days be deemed impossible.
He was intensely interested in the work, and even his
martial exercises were for the time secondary to it in his
thoughts. He felt so deeply grateful to his instructor that
even if he had struck him he would have cared but little. In
those days rough knocks were readily given, and the idea that
there was anything objectionable in a boy being struck had
never been entertained by anyone. Wives were beaten not
uncommonly, servants frequently, and, from the highest to the
lowest, corporal punishment was regarded as the only way to
ensure the carrying out of orders. Oswald was slower in
learning to write down the letters than he was to read them.
His hands were so accustomed to the rein, the bow, and the
sword that they bungled over the work of forming letters.
Nevertheless by the time the Percys returned, three months
and a half after his arrival at the castle, he could both read
and write short and simple words, and as these formed a large
proportion of English speech at the time, he had made a con-
siderable step in the path of learning, and the monk was highly
pleased with his pupil.
I shall not be able to come to-morrow, father," he said to
the monk one day. The earl and Sir Henry will be back to-
night, and my uncle says that I must keep near him to-morrow,
so that if opportunity offers he may present me to the knight."
I feared it would come to that," the monk said. I wish
they had all stopped away another three or four months, then
you would have got over your difficulty of piecing together
syllables so as to make up a long word. 'T is a thousand
pities that you should stop altogether, just when you are get-
ting on so well."
I will come as often as I can, father, if you will let me."







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


"No, no, lad; I know what it is when the family are at
home. It will be, Here, Oswald, ride with such a message;'
or Hotspur himself may be going out with a train, and you
will have to accompany him. There will always be something.
Indeed, save but for your teaching, it is high time that the
Percys were back again, for there has already been a great
deal of hot work on the border, and report says that the Scots
are mustering strongly, and that there is going to be a great
raid into Cumberland; so you will be busy and so shall I.
The lay brothers have made but a poor hand of it while I have
been busy. I went down in the evening yesterday to see them
drill, and it was as much as I could do to prevent myself from
falling upon them and giving them a lesson of a different sort.
As it was, I gave it to their instructor heartily, and was had
up before the abbot on his complaint this morning, and am to
eat Lenten fare for the next ten days, which accords but ill
either with my liking or needs."
In the evening the court-yard was ablaze with torches, as
amid the cheers of the garrison the Earl of Northumberland
and his son rode in with a strong body of men-at-arms. The
greater portion of the following with which they had met
Henry of Lancaster on his landing, and escorted him to Lon-
don, had long since returned to their homes, being released
from service when it was seen that no opposition was to be
looked for from the adherents of Richard. The followings of
the various nobles and knights of the northern counties had
left the main body on the way home, and Northumberland had
brought with him to Alnwick only the men-at-arms who formed
the regular force retained under his standard.
Oswald was greatly struck with the splendid appearance and
appointments of the earl and the knights who attended him,
and with the martial array of his followers. Hitherto he had
seen but the roughest side of war, the arms and armour carried







AT ALNWICK


not for show but for use, and valued for their strength without
any reference to their appearance. On the border there was
not the smallest attempt at uniformity in appearance, polished
armour was regarded with disfavour, and that worn was of the
roughest nature, the local armourer's only object being to
furnish breast and back pieces that would resist the strongest
spear-thrust. Of missiles they made little account, for the
Scots had but few archers, and their bows were so inferior in
strength to those carried by the English archers that armour
strong enough to resist a spear-thrust was amply sufficient to
keep out a Scottish arrow.
There was not, even in the array of the Earl of Northum-
berland's men-at-arms, any approach to the uniformity that
now prevails among bodies of soldiers. The helmets, breast
and back pieces, were, however, of similar form, as the men
engaged for continued service were furnished with armour by
the earl; but there was a great variety in the garments worn
under them, these being of all colours, according to the fancy
of their wearers. All, however, carried spears of the same
length, while some had swords, and others heavy axes at their
girdles. The helmets and armour were all brightly polished,
and as the lights of the torches flashed from them and from
the spear-heads, Oswald for the first time witnessed something
of the pomp of war. His uncle, as captain of the men-at-arms
left in the castle, was invited to the banquet held after the
arrival of the force. Oswald, therefore, was free to wander
about among the soldiers, listening to their talk of what they
had seen in London, and of the entertainments there in
honour of the new king, exciting thereby no small amount of
envy among those who had been left behind in garrison.
Oswald already knew that the earl had been appointed Con-
stable of England for life, and now heard that the lordship of
the Isle of Man had since been conferred on him.







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


CHAPTER IV

AN UNEQUAL JOUST

"\7OU must don your best costume to-morrow, Oswald," his
I uncle said, when he returned from the banquet. "Sir
Henry Percy's first question, after asking as to the health of
the garrison, was, 'Has this nephew of yours, of whom you
were speaking to me, come yet?' I told him that you had
been here well-nigh four months, that you had been practising
in arms with my best swordsmen, who spoke highly of you,
and that the whole of your spare time had been spent at the
monastery, where, you had been studying to acquire the art of
reading and writing, thinking that such knowledge must be
useful to you in his service. I told him that brother Roger
had reported that you had shown marvellous sharpness there,
and could already read from a missal, barring only some of the
long words.
"' Oh, he had the fighting monk for his master !' Sir Henry
said laughing. Truly he must have been a good pupil if he
has come out of it without having his head broken a dozen
times. The friar is a thorn in the abbot's flesh, and more than
once I have had to beg him off or he would have been sent to
the monastery of St. John, which is a place of punishment for
refractory monks. But in truth he is an honest fellow, though
he has mistaken his vocation. He is a valiant man-at-arms,
and the abbot's contingent would be of small value without him.
Well, I will see your nephew in the morning. His perseverance
in learning, and his quickness in acquiring it, show him to be a
youth of good parts and intelligent, but until I see him I can-
not say what I will make of him.' "







AN UNEQUAL JOUST


Accordingly, the next morning the lad accompanied his
uncle to Sir Henry's private apartment, and found the knight
alone. Sir Henry, Lord Percy, was now about forty years old.
He had received the order of knighthood at the coronation of
Richard II., when his father was created earl, and nine years
later he was made governor of Berwick and Warden of the
Marches, in which office he displayed such activity in following
up and punishing raiders that the Scots gave him the name of
Hotspur. He was then sent to Calais, where he showed great
valour. Two years later he was made Knight of the Garter,
and was then appointed to command a fleet sent out to repel a
threatened invasion by the French. Here he gained so great a
success that he came to be regarded as one of the first captains
of the age.
At Otterburn his impetuosity cost him his freedom, for,
pressing forward into the midst of the Scotch army, he and his
brother Ralph were taken prisoners and carried into Scot-
land. He had just been appointed by King Henry sheriff of
Northumberland, and governor of Berwick and Roxburgh, and
received other marks of royal favour. Although of no remark-
able height, his broad shoulders and long sinewy arms testified
to his remarkable personal strength. His face was pleasant
and open, and showed but small sign of his impetuous and
fiery disposition.
"So this is the young springal," he said with a smile, as
with a quick glance he took in every detail of Oswald's figure
and appearance. By my troth you have not overpraised him.
He bears himself well, and is like to be a stout fighter when
he comes to his full strength; indeed, as the son of John
Forster of Yardhope, and as your nephew, good Alwyn, he
could scarce be otherwise, although I have not heard that
either his father or you ever showed any disposition for
letters."







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


No, indeed, Sir Henry; nor have we, as far as I have ever
seen, been any the worse for our lack of knowledge on that
head; but with the lad here it is different. Under your good
patronage he may well hope to attain, by good conduct and
valour, a promotion where book-learning may be of use to him,
and therefore, when he expressed a desire to learn, I did my
best to favour his design."
"And you did well, Alwyn. And since he has gained so
much in so short a time, it were a pity he should not follow it
up; and he shall, if it likes him, so long as he is in this castle,
have two hours every morning in which he can visit the fight-
ing monk, until he can read and write freely. Now, young
sir, the question is, how can we best employ you. You are too
old for a lady's bower, but not old enough yet for an esquire."
Nor could I aspire to such i position, my lord, until I have
proved myself worthy of it. My uncle told me that he had
suggested that I might be useful as a bearer of messages and
orders, and as I know every foot of the border from near Berwick
to Cumberland, methinks that I might serve you in that way.
I ride lightly, know every morass and swamp, and every road
through the fells, and have at times, when there was peace,
crossed the Cheviots by several of the passes to pay visits to
my mother's sister, who is married to one of the Armstrongs
near Jedburgh. If your lordship will deign to employ me in
such service I can promise to do so safely and to justify my
uncle's recommendation, and shall be ready at all times to risk
my life in carrying out your orders."
Well spoken, lad. I like the tone of your voice and your
manner of speech. They are such as will do no discredit to my
household, and I hereby appoint you to it; further matters I
will discuss with your uncle."
Oswald expressed his thanks in suitable terms, and then,
bowing deeply, retired.






AN UNEQUAL JOUST


A very proper lad, Alwyn. I would have done much for
you, old friend, and would have taken him in some capacity,
whatever he might have turned out; but, frankly, I doubted
whether John Forster, valiant moss-trooper as he is, would have
been like to have had a son whom I could enroll in my house-
hold, where the pages and esquires are all sons of knights and
men of quality. It is true that his father might have been a
knight had he chosen, since the earl offered him that honour
after Otterburn, for three times he charged at the head of a
handful of his own men right into the heart of the Scottish
army, to try and rescue me; but he has always kept aloof in
his own hold, going his own way and fighting for his own
hand, and never once that I can recall has he paid a visit to us
here or at our other seats. I feared that under such a training
as he would be likely to have the lad would have been but a
rough diamond. However, from his appearance and bearing
he might well have come of a noble family."
"'T is his mother's doing, methinks, Sir Henry. She is of
gentle birth. Her father was Sir Walter Gillespie. He was
killed by the Scots when she was but a girl, or methinks he
would scarcely have given her in marriage to my brother John. -
She went with a sister to live with an old aunt, who let the
girls have their way without murmur, and seeing that they had
no dowry, for their father was but a poor knight, there were
not many claimants for their hands; and when she chose John
Eorster, and her sister Adam Armstrong, she did not say them
nay. She has made a good wife to him, though she must have
had many an anxious hour, and doubtless it is her influence
that has made the lad what he is."
How think you I had best bestow him, among the pages
or the esquires? "
"I should say, Sir Henry, as you are good enough to ask
my opinion, that it were best among the esquires. It would






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


be like putting a hunting dog among a lady's pets to put him
with the pages. Moreover, boys think more of birth than men
do; the latter judge by merit, and when they see that the lad
has something in him, would take to him; whereas were he
with the pages there might be quarrels, and he might fall into
disgrace."
I think that you are right, Alwyn. He might get a buffet
or two from the esquires, but he will be none the worse for
that; while with the pages it might be bickering and ill-will.
He shall take his chance with the squires. Bring him to me
at twelve o'clock and I will myself present him to them with
such words as may gain their good-will, and make the way as
easy as may be for him."
Accordingly at twelve o'clock Oswald went to Hotspur's
room, and was taken by him to the hall where the esquires,
six in number, had just finished a meal. They varied in age
from eighteen to forty. They all rose as their lord entered.
"I wish to present to you this young gentleman, my friends.
He is the son of John Forster of Yardhope, whose name is
familiar to you all as one of the most valiant of the defenders
of the border against the Scottish incursions. None distin-
guished themselves more at the battle of Otterburn, where he
performed feats of prodigious valour in his endeavours to
rescue me and my brother from the hands of the Scots. The
earl my father offered him knighthood, but he said bluntly
that he preferred remaining, like his father, plain John Forster
of Yardhope. The lad's mother is a daughter of Sir Walter
Gillespie, and he is nephew of Alwyn, captain of the men-at-
arms here. He knows every foot of the border, its morasses,
fells, and passes, and will prove a valuable messenger when I
have occasion to send orders to the border knights and yeo-
men. I have attached him to my household. You will find
him intelligent and active. He comes of a fighting stock, and







AN UNEQUAL JOUST


will, I foresee, do no discredit to them in the future. I hesi-
tated whether I should place him with the pages or with you,
and have decided that, with your good-will, he will be far
more comfortable in your society, if you consent to receive
him."
"We will do so willingly on such recommendation," the
senior of the esquires said, "as well as for the sake of his
brave uncle, whom we all respect and like, and of his valiant
father. The addition of young blood to our party will indeed
not be unwelcome, and while perchance he may learn some-
thing from us he will assuredly be able to tell us much that is
new of the doings on the border, of which nothing but vague
reports have reached our ears."
Thanks, Allonby," Hotspur said. I expected nothing less
from you. He will, of course, practise at arms regularly when
not occupied in carrying messages, and you will be surprised
to hear that he will go for two hours daily to the monastery,
where he has for the last three months been learning reading
and writing at the hands of brother Roger, the fighting monk.
It is his own desire, and a laudable one, and when I say that
he has succeeded in giving brother Roger satisfaction you may
well.imagine that he must have made great progress."
A smile ran round the faces of the esquires, for brother
Roger's pugnacious instincts were widely known.
"Truly, Sir Henry, if brother Roger did not lose patience
wifh him, it would be hard indeed if we could not get on with
him, and in truth this desire to improve himself speaks well
for the lad's disposition."
When Hotspur left, Allonby said, "Take a seat, Master
Oswald. But first, have you dined? "
"I took my meal an hour since with my uncle," Oswald
replied.
Ay, I remember that your uncle sticks to the old hours.







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


Tell us, were you with your father in that foray he headed to
carry off some cattle that had been lifted by the Bairds? We
heard a report of it last night."
I was not with him, to my great disappointment, for he
said that another year must pass before I should be fit to hold
my own in a fray. The affair was a somewhat hot one. Three
of my father's men were killed, and some ten or twelve of
those under other leaders, and my father and several of the
band were wounded, some very sorely. It happened thus."
And he then told the details of the affair.
It might well have been worse," Allonby said, for, had
the Bairds had time to assemble it would have gone hardly
with your father's party, especially as there is, as I have heard,
a blood feud between him and them."
They have scored the last success," Oswald said, seeing
that they accompanied Sir Richard Rutherford in his raid nigh
two months ago; and, as I hear, while the rest came on harry-
ing and plundering Coquetdale, the Bairds and their gathering
remained at our hold, which they found deserted, for indeed
my father could not hope to defend it successfully against so
large a force, and there they employed themselves in demol-
ishing the outer wall and much of the hold itself, and would
have completed their task had it not been for the defeat in-
flicted upon the rest of the Scots by Sir Robert Umfraville,
when they were forced to hasten back across the border. My
father sent me a message afterwards, saying that he and my
mother with their followers had been forced to take to the
fells, and that on their return they found the place well-nigh
destroyed, but that he was going to set to work to rebuild it
as before, and that he hoped some time to demolish the Bairds'
hold in like fashion. It will be some time before the place is
restored, for, my father's means being limited, he and his re-
tainers would have to turn masons; but as the materials were






AN UNEQUAL JOUST


there he doubted not that in time they would make a good
job of it."
Truly it is a hard life on the border," the squire said, and
it is wonderful that any can be found willing to live within
reach of the Scotch raiders. I myself have done a fair share
of fighting under our lord's banner, but to pass my life never
knowing whether I may not awake to find the house assailed
would be worse than the hardest service against an open foe.
Now, Master Oswald, we will go down to the court-yard and see
what your instructors have done for you in the matter of arms.
With whom have you been practising since you came here? "
Principally with Godfrey Harpent, Dick Bamborough, and
William Anell, but I have had a turn with a great many of the
other men-at-arms."
"The three men you name are all stout fellows and good
swordsmen. As a borderer I suppose that you have practised
with the lance? "
We call it by no such knightly term. With us it is a spear
and nought else, but all borderers carry it both for fighting
and for pricking up cattle, and from the time that I could sit
a horse I have always practised for a while every day with
some of my father's troopers, or with himself, using blunt
weapons whitened with chalk so as to show where the hits fell.
Although in a charge upon footmen our border spearmen would
couch their weapons and ride straight at their foe, in skir-
mishes, where each can single out an enemy and there is a series
of single combats, they do not so fight, but circle round each
other, trusting to the agility of their horses to avoid a thrust
and to deliver one when there is an opening. Our spears are
nothing like so heavy as the knightly lances, and we thrust
with them as with the point of a sword."
"But in that way you can hardly penetrate armour," one of
the other esquires said.







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


No, it is only in a downright charge that we try to do so.
When we are fighting as I speak of, we thrust at the face, at
the arm-pit, the joints of the armour, which in truth seldom
fits closely, or below the breastplate. The Scotch use even less
armour than do our borderers, their breast-pieces being smaller,
and they seldom wear back-pieces. It is a question chiefly of
the activity of the horses as of the skill of their riders, and our
little moor horses are as active as young goats; and although
neither horse nor rider can stand a charge of a heavily-armed
knight or squire, methinks that if one of our troopers brought
him to a stand he would get the better of him, save if the
knight took to mace or battle-axe."
Have you your horse with you, Oswald? "
Yes, it is in the stable. I have gone out with it every
morning as soon as the castle gates were opened, and have
ridden for a couple of hours before I began my exercises."
"Do you take him in hand first, Marsden, Allonby said
to one of the younger esquires, a young man of two or three
and twenty. Light steel caps with cheeks, gorgets, shoulder
and arm pieces, and padded leather jerkins were put on, and
then with blunted swords they took their places facing each
other. The squire took up a position of easy confidence. He
was a good swordsman, and good-naturedly determined to treat
the lad easily, and to play with him for a time before scoring
his first hit. He soon, however, found that the game was not
to be conducted on the lines that he had laid down. Oswald,
after waiting for a minute or two, finding his opponent did not
take the offensive, did so himself, and for a time Marsden had
all his work to do to defend himself. Several times, indeed, it
was with the greatest difficulty that he guarded his head; the
activity of his assailant almost bewildered him, as he continually
shifted his position, and with cat-like springs leapt in and dealt
a blow, leaping back again before his opponent's arm had time
to fall.







AN UNEQUAL JOUST


Finding at last that, quick as he might be, Marsden's blade
always met his own, Oswald relaxed his efforts, as he was grow-
ing fatigued, and as he did so Marsden took the offensive,
pressing him backwards foot by foot. Every time, however,
that he found himself approaching a barrier or other obstacle
that would prevent his further retreat, Oswald with a couple
of springs managed to shift his ground. When he saw that
Marsden was growing breathless from his exertions, he again
took the offensive, and at last landed a blow fairly on his op-
ponent's helm.
"By my faith," the squire said, with a laugh that had never-
theless a little mortification in it, "I would as soon fight with
a wild-cat, and yet your breath scarce comes fast, while I have
not as much left in me as would fill an egg-shell."
It was an excellent display," Allonby said. Truly, lad,
your activity is wonderful, and you might well puzzle the
oldest swordsman by such tactics. Marsden did exceedingly
well too. Many times I thought that your sword would have
gone home, but up to the last his guard was always ready in
time. As for yourself, we had scarce the opportunity of seeing
how your sword would guard your head, for you trusted always
to your legs rather than your arms. Well, lad, you will do.
Your arm is like iron, or it would have tired long before with
that sword, which is a little over-heavy for you.
As to your wind, you would tire out the stoutest swords-
man in the Percys' train. I do not say that in the press
of a battle, where your activity would count for little, a good
man-at-arms would not get the better of you, but in a single
combat with plenty of room it would be a good man indeed
who would tackle you, especially were he clad in armour and
you fighting without it. His only chance would be to get in
one downright blow that would break down your guard. As
Marsden says, you fight like a wild-cat rather than as a man-at-







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


arms, but as the time may .come when you will ride in heavy
armour, and so lose the advantage of your agility, you had
best continue to practise regularly with us and the men-at-
arms, and learn to fight in the fashion that would be needed
were you engaged in a pitched battle when on horseback and
in armour."
I shall be glad indeed to do so," Oswald said modestly.
" I know that I am very ignorant of real swordsmanship, and
the men-at-arms have me quite at their mercy when they insist
upon my not shifting my ground. At home I have only
practised with my father's troopers, and we always fight on
foot and with stout sticks instead of swords, and without
defences save our head-pieces, but fighting in knightly fashion
I knew nothing of until I came here."
You will soon acquire that, lad; with your strength of arm,
length of wind, quickness of eye, and activity, you will make a
famous swordsman in time. Ah here is Sir Henry."
"Have you been trying the lad's mettle? Hotspur asked, as
he saw Oswald in the act of taking off his steel cap. Marsden
had already done so.
"That have we, Sir Henry, and find it as of proof. Mars-
den here, who is no mean blade, has taken him in hand, and
the lad has more than held his own against him, not so much
by swordsmanship as by activity and wind. It was a curious
contest. Marsden compared Oswald to a wild-cat, and the
comparison was not an ill one, for indeed his springs and leaps
were so rapid and sudden that it was difficult to follow him,
and the fight was like one between such an animal and a
hound. Marsden defended himself well against all his at-
tacks until his breath failed him, and he was dealt a down-
right blow on his helm, on which I see it has made a shrewd
dint. As for his blows, they fell upon air, for the lad was
ever out of reach before the ripostes came. In his own style







AN UNEQUAL JOUST


of fighting I would wager on him against any man-at-arms in
the castle."
I am glad to hear it," Hotspur said. I shall feel the less
scruple in sending him on missions which are not without
danger. He will need training to fit him for combat in the
ranks. No doubt he has had no opportunity for such teaching,
and would go down before a heavy-armed man with a lance
like a blade of grass before a millstone."
"He thinks not, Sir Henry, at least not in a single combat,
for by his accounts his horse is as nimble as himself; but of
course in charges he and his horse would be rolled over, as
you say."
"He thinks not? Oh, well, we will try him I have an
hour to spare. Do you put on a suit of full armour, Sinclair,
and we will ride out to the course beyond the castle. What
will you put on, lad? "
I will put on only breast-piece and steel cap; but I only
said I should have a chance against a lance, Sir Henry. I do
not pretend that I could stand against any man-at-arms armed
with sword and mace, but only that I thought that with my
horse I could evade the shock of a fully-accoutred man, and
then harass and maybe wound him with my spear."
Well, we will try, lad. Put on what you will and get your
horse saddled. It will be rare amusement to see so unequal
a course. We shall be ready in a quarter of an hour."
SOswald went up to his uncle and told him what was pro-
posed. Alwyn, who had witnessed his exercises with the
rough-riders of his father, smiled grimly. If you can evade
his first charge, which I doubt not that you can, you will have
him at your mercy with your light spear against his lance, and
your moor horse against his charger; but put on the heaviest
of your two steel caps, and strong shoulder-pieces, 't is like
enough that in his temper he may throw away his lance and







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


betake him to his sword. I will demand that he carries
neither mace nor battle-axe, and that you should only carry
sword and spear. Your horse's nimbleness may keep you out
of harm, which is as much as you can expect or hope for.
Put on a light breast-plate too, for in spite of the wooden
shield to his lance-head, he may hurt you sorely if he does
chance to strike you."
Oswald saw that his horse was carefully saddled. He pro-
cured from his uncle a piece of cloth, and, removing the spear-
head, wrapped this round the head of the shaft until it formed
a ball the size of his fist. This he whitened thickly with
chalk. In a few minutes Sinclair, who was the heaviest and
strongest of the esquires, rode out into the court-yard in full
armour. Sir Henry, with his own esquires and several of the
gentlemen of the earl's household, came down, and Hotspur
laughed at the contrast presented by the two combatants-
the one a mass of steel, with shield and lance, on a war-horse
fully caparisoned, the other a slight, active-looking figure, with
but little defensive armour, on a rough pony which had
scarce an ounce of superfluous flesh.
Now, gentlemen," he said, we may be engaged in war-
fare with the Scots before long, and you will here have an
opportunity of seeing the nature of border fighting. The
combat may seem to you ridiculously unequal, but I know the
moss-trooper, and I can tell you that in a single combat like
this, activity goes far to counterbalance weight and armour.
You remember how Robert Bruce, before Bannockburn,
mounted on but a pony, struck down Sir Robert Bohun, a
good knight and a powerful one."
As the party went out through the gates to the tilting-ground
outside the walls, the men-at-arms, seeing that something
unusual was going to take place, crowded up to the battle-
ments looking down on the ground.







AN UNEQUAL JOUST


"Now, gentlemen," Percy said, "you will take your places
at opposite ends of the field, and when I drop my scarf you
will charge. It is understood that you need not necessarily
ride straight at each other, but that it is free to each of you
to do the best he can to overthrow his opponent."
As he gave the signal the two riders dashed at full speed
at each other, and for a moment the spectators thought that
Oswald was going to be mad enough to meet his opponent in
full course. When, however, the horses were within a length
of each other the rough pony swerved aside with a spring like
that of a deer, and wheeling round instantly, Oswald followed
his opponent. The latter tried to wheel his charger, but as
he did so, Oswald's spear struck him in the vizor, leaving a
white mark on each side of the slit, and then he too wheeled
his horse, maintaining his position on the left hand, but some-
what in rear of his opponent, who was thereby wholly unable
to use his lance, while Oswald marked the junction of gorget
and helmet with several white circles. Furious at finding
himself incapable of either defending himself or of striking a
blow, the squire threw away his lance and drew his sword.
Hotspur shouted at the top of his voice, "A breach of the
rules a breach of the rules the combat is at an end." But
his words were unheard in the helmet. Making his horse
wheel round on his hind-legs, Sinclair rode at Oswald with
uplifted sword. The latter again couched his spear under his
arm, and touching his horse with his spur, the animal sprung
forward, and before the sword could fall, the point of the
spear caught the squire under the arm-pit and hurled him
sideways from his saddle. Hotspur and those round him ran
forward. Sinclair lay without moving, stunned by the force
with which he had fallen. Oswald had already leapt from his
horse and raised Sinclair's head and began to unlace the fast-
enings of his helmet. Hotspur's face was flushed with anger.
5







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


Do not upbraid him, my lord, I pray you," Oswald said.
"He could scarce have avoided breaking the conditions, help-
less as he felt himself; and he could not have heard your
voice, which would be lost in his helmet. I pray you be not
angered with him."
Hotspur's face cleared. "At your request I will not, lad,"
he said; "and, indeed, he has been punished sufficiently."
By the time that the helmet was removed, one of the soldiers
from the battlements ran out from the castle with a ewer of
water; this was dashed into the squire's face. He presently
opened his eyes. A heavy fall was thought but little of in
those days, and as Sinclair was raised to his feet and looked
round in bewilderment at those who were standing round him,
Hotspur said good-temperedly, "Well, Master Sinclair, the
lad has given us all a lesson that may be useful to us. I would
scarce have believed it if I had not seen it, that a stout soldier
in full armour should have been worsted by a lad on a rough
pony, but I see now that the advantage is all on the latter's
side in a combat like this, with plenty of room to wheel his
horse.
"Why, he would have slain you a dozen times, Sinclair.
Look at your vizor. That white mark is equal on both sides
of the slit, and had there been a spear-head on the shaft, it
would have pierced you to the brain; every joint of your
armour behind is whitened, and that thrust that brought you
from your horse would have spitted you through and through.
Now, let there be no ill-feeling over this. It is an experiment,
and a useful one; and had I myself been in your place I do
not know that I could have done aught more than you did."
Sinclair was hot-tempered, but of a generous disposition,
and he held out his hand to Oswald frankly.
"It was a fair fight," he said, "and you worsted me alto-
gether. No one bears malice for a fair fall in a joust."







AN UNEQUAL JOUST


"The conditions were not at all even," Oswald said; "on a
pony like mine, unless you had caught me in full career, it was
impossible that the matter could have turned out otherwise."
I often wondered," Hotspur said, as they walked towards
the gate, that our chivalry should have been so often worsted
by the rough Scottish troopers, but now I understand it. The
Scotch always choose broken ground, and always scatter before
we get near them, and, circling round, fall upon our chivalry
when their weight and array are of no use to them. Happily,
such a misadventure has never happened to myself, but it
might well do so. The Scotch, too, have no regard for the
laws of chivalry, and once behind will spear the horse, as in-
deed happened to me at Otterburn. 'T is a lesson in war one
may well take to heart; and when I next fight the Scots, I will
order that on no account whatever are the mounted men to
break their ranks, but whatever happens are to move in a solid
body, in which case they could defy any attacks upon them by
light-armed horse, however numerous."
At the gate of the castle Alwyn Forster met them. "You
have given me a more useful addition to my following than
I dreamt of, Alwyn," Hotspur said. "Did you see the
conflict?"
I watched it from the wall, Sir Henry. I felt sure how
the matter would end. The lad is quick and sharp at border
exercises. I have seen him work with his father's troopers.
There were not many of them who could hold their own against
him, and in fighting in their own way I would back the moss-
troopers against the best horsemen in Europe. They are
always accustomed to fight each man for himself, and though
a score of men-at-arms would ride through a hundred of them
if they met the charge, in single combat their activity and the
nimbleness of their horses would render them more than a
match for a fully-caparisoned knight."







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


So it seems," Hotspur said ; "and yet if Sinclair had but
known that the lad was about to swerve in his course, which
indeed he ought to have known for it would have been
madness to meet his charge-he too should have changed
his course to his left when a couple of lengths away, for he
might be sure that the lad would turn that way so as to get
on his left hand, and in that case he would have ridden over
him like a thunderbolt."
"Yes, Sir Henry, but Oswald would have had his eye on
knee and bridle, and the moment the horse changed his direc-
tion he would have been round the other way like an arrow
from a bow, and would have planted himself, as he did, in the
squire's rear."
"Perhaps so," Hotspur said thoughtfully. "At any rate,
Alwyn, the boy has given us all a lesson, and you have done
me good service by presenting him to me."



CHAPTER V
A MISSION
FOR the next three or four months Oswald was but little at
the castle, Percy utilising his services in the manner
most agreeable to him by sending him on errands to various
knights and gentlemen in different parts of Northumberland,
and to the fortified places held by the English across the
border. A fortnight after his contest with Sinclair, Sir Henry
formally appointed him one of his esquires.
"You are young," he said, "for such a post; but as you
have shown that you are well able to take care of yourself in
arms, and as I perceive you to be shrewd and worthy of con-
fidence, your age matters but little. As my messenger, you







A MISSION


will be more useful travelling as one of my esquires, than as
one without settled rank, and I can not only send written com-
munications by you, but can charge you to speak fully in my
name and with my authority."
Oswald was not slow in finding out the advantages that the
position gave him. On the first errands on which he had
been sent he had been treated as but an ordinary messenger,
had been placed at dinner below the salt, and herded with the
men-at-arms. As an esquire of Lord Percy he was treated
with all courtesy, was introduced to the ladies of the family,
sat at the high table, and was regarded as being in the confi-
dence of his lord. His youth excited some little surprise, but
acted in his favour, because it was evident that Percy would
not have nominated him as one of his esquires had he not
shown particular merit. In his journeys he often passed near
Yardhope, where the rebuilding of the wall and keep was be-
ing pushed on with much vigour, the inhabitants of the villages
in the valley lending their assistance to restore the fortalice,
which they regarded as a place of refuge in case of sudden
invasion by the Scots. His parents were both greatly pleased
at his promotion, especially his mother, who had always been
anxious that he should not settle down to the adventurous
and dangerous life led by his father.
By our Lady," John Forster said, "though it be but six
months since you first left us you have changed rarely. I speak
npt of your fine garments, but you have grown and widened
out, and are fast springing from a boy into a man; and it is no
small thing that Percy should have thought so well of you as
to make you one of his esquires already."
"It was from no merit of mine, father, but because he
thought that, as his messenger, I should be able to speak in
his name with more authority than had I been merely the
bearer of a letter from him."






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


"'T is not only that," his father replied. "I received a letter
but two days since from my brother Alwyn, written by the hand
of a monk of his acquaintance, telling me that Lord Percy was
mightily pleased with you, not only because you had set your-
self to read and write, but from the way in which you had
defeated one of his esquires in a bout at arms. Alwyn said
that he doubted not that you would win knightly spurs as soon
as you came to full manhood. So it is clear that merit had
something to do with your advancement, though this may be
also due to some extent to the cause you assign for it. The
monk who wrote the letter added on his own account that he
had been your preceptor, and that, though he had often rated
you soundly, you had made wonderful progress."
"The monk is a good teacher," Oswald laughed; "but he
would have made a better man-at-arms than he will ever make
a monk. I believe it pleased him more that I worsted Sinclair
- which indeed was a small thing to do, seeing that he had no
idea of fighting save of charging straight at a foe than at the
progress I made at my books. He commands the contingent
that the monastery sends when Percy takes the field to repel
an invasion, and, could he have his own will, would gladly
exchange a monk's robes for the harness of a man-at-arms.
I would wish for no stouter companion in the fray."
The speed with which he had performed his journeys, and
the intelligence which he showed in carrying out his missions
and reporting on their issue, earned for the lad an increasing
amount of liking and confidence on the part of his lord. It
was not only that he delivered the replies to Hotspur's messages
accurately, but his remarks upon the personal manner and
bearing of those to whom he was sent were of still greater
value to Percy. Naturally all had promised to have their con-
tingent of fighting men ready in case of serious invasion by
the Scots; but Oswald was able to gather from their manner







A MISSION


whether the promises would surely be fulfilled, or whether, in
case of trouble, the knights were more likely to keep their array
for the defence of their own castles than to join Percy in any
general movement.
One day, when Oswald had been engaged six months at this
work, which had taken him several times into Cumberland and
Westmoreland as well as the north, Lord Percy summoned him
to his private apartment.
Hitherto you have done well, Oswald, and I feel now that
I can trust you with a mission of far higher importance than
those you have hitherto performed. 'T is not without its
dangers, but I know that you will like it none the less for that
reason. You are young indeed for business of such importance,
but it seems to me that of those around me you would be best
fitted to carry it out. Your manner of speech has changed
much since you came here, but doubtless you can fall at will
into the border dialect, which differs little from that on the
other side, and you can pass well enough as coming from Jed-
burgh or any other place across the border.
"All the world knows, lad, that George, Earl of March and
Dunbar, was mightily offended at Rothesay breaking off the
match with his daughter and marrying the child of his rival
Douglas; but now I am going to tell you what the world does
not know, and which is a secret that would cost many a life
were it to be blabbed abroad, and which I should not tell you
had I not a perfect confidence in your discretion. The anger
of March- as he is mostly called on this side of the border,
while in Scotland they more often call him Earl of Dunbar-
goes beyond mere displeasure with the Douglas and sullen
resentment against Rothesay. He has sent a confidential mes-
senger to me intimating that he is ready to acknowledge our
king as his sovereign, and place himself and his forces at his
disposal. I see you are surprised, as is indeed but natural;







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


but the Marches have ever been rather for England than for
Scotland, although they have never gone so far as to throw off
their allegiance to the Scottish throne. It is not for us to
consider whether March is acting treacherously to James of
Scotland, but whether he is acting in good faith towards us.
It was easy for him to send a messenger to me, since Scot-
land trades with England, and a ship bound for London might
well touch at one of our ports on the way down, but the
presence of an Englishman at Dunbar would not be so readily
explained. His messenger especially enjoined on me not to
send any communication in writing, even by the most trust-
-worthy hand, since an accident might precipitate matters and
drive him to take up arms before we were in a position to give
him aid. Therefore, in the first place, I wish you to journey to
Dunbar to see the earl and deliver to him the message I shall
give you, and endeavour to inform yourself how far he is to be
trusted. Say what he will, I can scarce bring myself to believe
that he will really throw off his allegiance to Scotland save in
the event of a great English army marching north, when doubt-
less he would do what most Scotch nobles have always done,
namely, hasten to give in his submission and make the best
terms he can for himself.
"'T is a business which I like not, although it is my duty to
accept a proposal that, if made in good faith, would be of vast
value to the king. You must, after seeing the earl, return here
with all speed, to bear me any message March may give you, and
to report your impressions as to his sincerity and good faith.
'T is a month since I received his message. Since then I have
communicated with the king, and have received his authority
to arrange terms with March, to guarantee him in the posses-
sion of his lordships, to hand over to him certain tracts of the
Douglas country which he bargained for, and to assure him of
our support. But he must be told that the king urges him to







A MISSION


delay at present from taking any open steps, as, in the first
place, he is bound by the truce just arranged for the next two
years; and in the second, because, having no just cause of
quarrel with Scotland, and being at present but newly seated
on the throne, he would have difficulty in raising an army for
the invasion of that country.
"The king is ready to engage himself not to renew the
truce, and to collect an army in readiness to act in concert
with him as soon as it is terminated. The earl has sent by his
messenger a ring, which, on being presented at Dunbar, will
gain for the person who carries it immediate access to him,
and I shall also give you my signet in token that you are come
from me. You will carry also a slip of paper that can be
easily concealed, saying that you have my full authority to
speak in my name. You yourself can explain to him that I
have selected you for the mission because of your knowledge
of border speech, and because a youth of your age can pass
unobserved where a man might excite attention and remark,
and possibly be detained until he could render a satisfactory
account of himself.
Here are the conditions set down upon paper, take it and
commit them to heart, and then tear the paper into shreds
and burn them. As far as Roxburgh you can of course ride as
my squire, but beyond you must travel in disguise. This you
had better procure here and take with you, for although the
Governor of Roxburgh is a trusty knight, it were best that no
soul should know that you go on a mission to March, and I
shall simply give you a letter to him stating that you are
engaged in a venture in my service, and that your horse and
armour are to be kept for you until your return."
Thanking Lord Percy for the honour done him in selecting
him for the mission, and promising him to carry it out to the
best of his power, Oswald retired, and, making his way up to






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


an inner room, set about learning the contents of the paper
given him, which was indeed a copy of the royal letter to
Percy. When he had thoroughly mastered all the details and
could repeat every word, he followed Sir Henry's instructions,
tore the letter up, and carefully burned every fragment. Then
he went out into the town and bought garments suited for
travelling unnoticed in Scotland, the dress being almost iden-
tical on both sides of the border, save for the lowland Scotch
bonnet. On his return he found that Lord Percy had sent for
him during his absence, and he at once went to his apartments.
"I have been thinking over this matter further," Sir Henry
said. "The abbot came in just as you left me, and among
other things he mentioned that friar Roger had again fallen
into disgrace, having gone so far as to strike the sub-prior on
the cheek, almost breaking the jaw of that worthy man, and that
finding discipline and punishment of no avail with him he was
about to expel him in disgrace from the community. He said
that he had only retained him so long on account of my good-
will for the fellow, and from the fact that he would, as I had
often urged, be most valuable as leader of the abbot's forces
in case of troubles with the Scots, but that his last offence has
passed all bearing. For the time I could say nothing, for
discipline must be maintained in a monastery as well as in the
castle; but after the abbot had left me, and I was walking
up and down in vexation over the affair for I like the rascal
in spite of his ways, and there is no one else who could so well
lead the contingent of the monastery a thought occurred to
me. I like not your going altogether alone, for the times are
lawless, and you might meet trouble on the road, and yet I
did not see whom I could send with you. Now it seems to
me that this stout knave would make an excellent companion
for you.
In the first place, you like him, and he likes you; secondly,







A MISSION


a monk travelling north on a mission, say from the abbot to
the prior of a monastery near Dunbar, could pass anywhere
unheeded; and in the third place, although as a peaceful man
he could carry no military arms, he might yet take with him
a staff, with which I warrant me he would be a match for two
or three ordinary men; and lastly, I may be able to convince
the abbot that he can thus get rid of him from the monastery
for some time and avoid the scandals he occasions, and yet
hold him available on his return for military service. What
say you, lad?"
"I should like it much, Sir Henry, I could wish for no
stouter companion; and although he may be quarrelsome with
his fellows, it is, methinks, solely because the discipline of the
monastery frets him, and he longs for a more active life; but
I believe that he could be fully trusted to behave himself dis-
creetly were he engaged in outdoor work, and there can be
no doubt that he is a stout man-at-arms in all ways."
"I should not trust him in any way with the object of your
mission. If I obtain the abbot's consent I shall simply send
for him, rate him soundly for his conduct, but telling him I
make all allowances for his natural unfitness for his vocation,
and that I have, as a matter of grace, obtained from the abbot
permission to use his services for a while, and to suspend his
sentence upon him until it be seen how he comports himself,
and with that viw I am about to send him as your companion
on a commission with which I have intrusted you, to the town
of Dunbar. I shall hint that if he behaves to my satisfaction
I may persuade the abbot to allow him to remain in my ser-
vice until the time comes when he may be useful to the con-
vent for military work, he still undertaking to drill the lay
brothers and keep the abbot's contingent in good order; and
that when the troubles are at an end I will obtain for him full
absolution from his vows, so that he may leave the monastery






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


without the disgrace of being expelled, and may then take ser-
vice with me or with another as a man-at-arms. I wish you to
be frank with me; if you would rather go alone, matters shall
remain as they are."
"I would much rather that he went with me, my lord.
From the many conversations that I have had with him I am
sure that he is shrewd and clever, and that once beyond the
walls of the monastery and free to use his weapon, he would
be full of resource. There is doubtless much lawlessness on
both sides of the border, and although I should seem but little
worth robbing, two travel more pleasantly than one; and the
monk has taken such pains with me, and has been so kind,
that there is no one with whom I would travel with greater
pleasure."
Then I will go across to the monastery at once and see the
abbot, and I doubt not that he will grant my request, for, much
and often as brother Roger has given him cause for anger, I
know that he has a sort of kindness for him, and will gladly
avoid the necessity for punishing and disgracing him. If all is
arranged, the monk shall come over here and see you."
An hour later brother Roger came in to the captain's
quarters.
So you have been in trouble again, brother. Roger," Alwyn
Forster said with a laugh, as he held out his hand to him.
"That have I, and an hour ago I was lyingsin a prison cell
cursing my hot temper, and with, as it seemed, the certainty
of being publicly unfrocked and turned out like a mangy dog
from a pack. It was not, mind you, that the thought of being
unfrocked was altogether disagreeable, for I own that I am
grievously ill-fitted for my vocation, and that fasts and vigils
are altogether hateful to me; but it would not be a pleasant
thing to go out into the world as one who had been kicked
out, and though I might get employment as a man-at-arms, I







A MISSION


could never hope for any promotion, however well I might be-
have. However, half an hour ago the cell door was opened
and I was taken before the abbot, whom I found closeted with
Hotspur.
"The latter rated me soundly, but said that, for the sake
of Otterburn, he had spoken for me to the abbot, and that
as he would for the present be able to make use of me in work
that would be more to my liking, the abbot had consented to
reconsider his decision and would lend me to him for a time,
in hopes that my good conduct would in the end induce him
to overlook my offences, and that in that case he might even
be induced to take steps of a less painful description than
public disgrace for freeing me of my gown. I naturally re-
plied that I was grateful for his lordship's intercession, and
that outside monkish offices there was nothing I would not
do to merit his kindness. He told me that I was to report
myself to your nephew, who would inform me of the nature
of the service upon which I was at first to be employed."
It is to undertake a journey with me," Oswald said. I
am going on a mission for our lord, to Dunbar. The object of
my mission is one that concerns me only, but it is one of some
importance, and as the roads are lonely since March and
Douglas quarrelled, and order is but badly kept on the other
side of the border, he thought that I should be all the better
for a companion. Assuredly I could wish for none better than
yourself, for in the first place you have proved a true friend to
me; in the second, you have so much knowledge that we shall
not lack subjects for conversation upon the journey; and lastly,
should I get into any trouble I could reckon upon you as a
match for two or three border robbers."
"Nothing could be more to my taste," the monk- said joy-
fully. "I did not feel quite sure before whether I was glad or
sorry that my expulsion was put off, for I always thought that







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


it would come to that some day; but now that I learn for what
service Hotspur intends me I feel as if I could shout for joy.
Get me a flagon of beer, good Alwyn. I have drunk but
water for the last twenty-four hours, and was in too great
haste to learn what was before me even to pay a visit to
brother Anselm, the cellarer, who is a stanch friend of mine.
And do I go as a man-at-arms, Master Oswald? for, as your
mission is clearly of a private character, disguise may be
needful."
"No, Roger, you will go in your own capacity as a monk,
journeying on a mission from the abbot to the head of some
religious community near Dunbar. I doubt not that Lord
Percy will obtain a letter from the abbot, and though it may
be that there will be no need to deliver it, still it may help us
on the way. As you are going with me, I shall attire myself
as a young lay servitor of the convent."
"I would that it had been otherwise," the monk said with
a sigh. "I should have travelled far more lightly in the
heaviest mail harness than in this monk's robe. Besides, how
can I carry arms for use in case of necessity? "
"You can carry a staff," Oswald said, laughing; and being
so big a man you will assuredly require a long and heavy one,
and even if it is heavily shod with iron no one need object."
"That is not so bad, Master Oswald. A seven-foot staff of
the thickness of my wrist, with an iron shoe weighing a pound
or two is a carnal weapon not to be despised. As you doubt-
less know, our bishops when they ride in the field always carry
a mace instead of a sword, so that they may not shed blood,
though I say not that the cracking of a man's skull is to be
accomplished without some loss thereof. However, if a bishop
may lawfully crack a man's head as an egg-shell, I see not that
blame can attach to me, a humble and most unworthy son of
the Church, if some slight harm should come to any man from







A MISSION 79

the use of so peaceful an instrument as a staff. And how
about yourself, young master?"
"I can carry a sword," Oswald replied. "In times like
these no man travels unarmed, and as I go as a servitor, and
an assistant to your reverence, there will be nothing unseemly
in my carrying a weapon to defend you from the attack of
foes."
You can surely take a dagger too; a dagger is a meet com-
panion to a sword, and is sometimes mighty useful in a close
fight. And mark me, take a smaller dagger also, that can be
concealed under your coat. I myself will assuredly do the
same. There are many instances in which a trifle of that kind
might come in useful, such as for shooting the lock of a door
or working out iron bars."
I will do so," Oswald said, "though I hope there will be
no occasion such as you say for its use."
"When do we start, Master Oswald? "
"To-morrow at daybreak. We shall ride as far as Rox-
burgh. I shall go on my own horse, which, though as good
an animal as was ever saddled, has but a poor appearance.
You had best purchase a palfrey, as fat and sleek as may be
found, but with strength enough to carry your weight. I shall
be amply provided with money, and if you find a bargain let
me know and I will give you the means. Mind, buy nothing
that looks like a war-horse, but something in keeping with
your appearance."
That evening Oswald had another interview with Percy, and
received his final instructions and a bag of money.
Be careful with it, lad," he said ; "not so much because of
the use that it may be to you, but because, were you seized
and searched by robbers and others, the sight of the gold
might awake suspicions that you were not what you seemed,
and might lead to a long detention. Keep your eye on brother







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


Roger, and see that he does not indulge too much in the wine-
cups, and that he comports himself rather in keeping with his
attire than with his natural disposition, and if you have any
difficulty in restraining him, or if he does not obey your orders,
send him back at once. Will you see him again this evening? "
He is waiting for me in my apartment now, my lord,
having come for the money for the purchase of a palfrey
which I bade him get."
"Send him to me when you get there."
When the monk appeared before Hotspur the latter said,
"See here, monk, I have saved you from punishment, and
become as it were your surety. See that you do not discredit
me. You will remember that although my young esquire may
ask your advice, and benefit by your experience, he is your
leader, and his orders, when he gives them, are to be obeyed
as promptly as if it were I myself who spoke to one of my
men-at-arms. He is my representative in the matter, and is
obeying my orders as you will obey his. The mission is one
of importance, and if it fails from any fault of yours, you had
better drown yourself in the first river you come to than return
to Northumberland."
"I think that you can trust me, my lord," the monk said
calmly. I am a very poor monk, but methinks that I am
not a bad soldier, and although I go in the dress of the one I
shall really go as the other. I know that my duty as a soldier
will be to obey. Even as regards my potations, which I own
are sometimes deeper than they should be, methinks that as
a soldier I shall be much less thirsty than I was as a monk. If
the enterprise should fail from any default of mine, your lord-
ship may be sure that I shall bear your advice in mind."
"I doubt not that you will do well, Roger. I should not
have sent you with my esquire on such a business had I not
believed that you would prove yourself worthy of my confi-







A MISSION


dence. I know that a man may be a good soldier, and even a
wise counsellor, though he may be a very bad monk."
The next morning the pair rode out from the castle at day-
break. Roger was dressed in the usual monkish attire of the
time, a long loose gown with a cape, and a head-covering
resembling a small turban. He rode a compactly-built little
horse, which seemed scarce capable of carrying his weight, but
ambled along with him as if it scarcely felt it. Oswald was
dressed as a lay servitor in tightly-fitting high hose, short
jerkin girt in by a band at the waist, and going half-way down
to the knee. He rode his own moorland horse, and carried
on his arm a basket with provisions for a day's march. He
wore a small cloth cap, which fell down to his neck behind.
His uncle accompanied him to the gate, which was by his
orders opened to give them egress.
Good-bye, lad," he said. I know not, and do not wish
to know, the object of your journey. It is enough for me that
it is a confidential mission for Hotspur, and I am proud that
you should have been chosen for it, and I feel convinced that
you will prove you have merited our lord's confidence. Good-
bye, friend Roger Don't let your love of fisticuffs and hard
knocks carry you away, but try and bear yourself as if you
were still in the monastery, with the abbot keeping his eye
upon you."
Brother Roger laughed. "You make a cold shiver run
down my back, Alwyn. I was feeling as if I had just got out
of a cold cellar into the sunshine, and could shout with very
lightness of heart. I am not in the least disposed to quarrel
with anyone, so let your mind be easy as to my doings. I
shall be discretion itself; and even if I am called upon to
strike, will do so as gently as may be, putting only such
strength into the blow as will prevent an opponent from
troubling us further."







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


So with a wave of the hand they rode on.
I had better strap that staff beside your saddle and under
your knee," Oswald said, when they had ridden a short distance.
"You carry it as if it were a spear, and I have seen already
three or four people smile as we passed them."
Roger reluctantly allowed Oswald to fasten the staff beside
him.
One wants something in one's hands," he said. On foot
it does not matter so much, but now I am on horseback again
I feel that I ought to have a spear in hand and a sword
dangling at my side."
"You must remember that you are still a monk, Roger,
although enlarged for a season. Some day perhaps you will
be able to gratify your desires in that way. You had best
moderate the speed of your horse, for although he ambles
along merrily at present, he can never carry that great carcase
of yours at this pace through our journey."
"I should like one good gallop," Roger sighed as he pulled
at the rein, and the horse proceeded at a pace better suited to
the appearance of its rider.
A nice figure you would look with your robes streaming
behind you," Oswald laughed. There would soon be a story
going through the country of a mad monk. Now we take this
turning to the right, and here leave the main north road, for
we are bound in the first place to Roxburgh."
I thought that it must be that or Berwick, though I asked
no questions."
We shall not travel like this beyond Roxburgh, but shall
journey forward on foot."
I supposed that we should come to that, Master Oswald,
for otherwise you would not have told me to provide myself
with a staff."
They journeyed pleasantly along. Whenever they approached








































































THEY JOURNEYED PLEASANTLY ALONG.







A MISSION


any town or large village Oswald reined back his horse a little,
so that its head was on a level with Roger's stirrup. They
slept that night at Kirknewton, where they put up at a small
hostelry. Oswald had intended going to the monastery there,
but Roger begged so earnestly that they should put up else-
where that he yielded to him.
I should have no end of questions asked as to our journey
across the border and its object," Roger said; "and it always
goes against my conscience to have to lie unless upon pressing
occasions."
And, moreover," Oswald said with a laugh, you might be
expected to get up to join the community at prayers at mid-
night, and they might give you a monk's bed instead of a
more comfortable one in the guest-chambers."
"There may be something in that," Roger admitted, "and
I have so often to sleep on a stone bench for the punishment
of my offences that I own to a weakness for a soft bed when I
can get one."
However, Oswald was pleased to see that his follower be-
haved at their resting-place with more discretion than he
could have hoped for, although he somewhat surprised his
host by the heartiness of his appetite; but, on the other hand,
he was moderate in his potations, and talked but little, retiring
to a bed of thick rushes at curfew.
In truth I was afraid to trust myself," he said to Oswald
as they lay down side by side. "Never have I felt so free
since Otterburn -never, indeed, since that unfortunate day
when I was wounded and conceived the fatal idea of becom-
ing a monk. Two or three times the impulse to troll out a
trooper's song was so strong in me that I had to clap my
hand over my mouth to keep it in."
"'T is well you did, Roger, for assuredly if you had so com-
mitted yourself on the first day of starting I must have sent







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


you back to Alnwick, feeling that it would not be safe for you
to proceed with me farther. When we get upon the Cheviots
to-morrow you may lift your voice as you choose, but it were
best that you confined yourself to a Latin canticle even there,
for the- habit of breaking into songs of the other kind might
grow upon you."
I will do so," Roger said seriously. "Some of the canti-
cles have plenty of ring and go, and the words matter not,
seeing that I do not understand them."
The next morning they resumed their journey, crossed the
Cheviots, which were here comparatively low hills, and after
four hours' riding arrived at Roxburgh.
"Why do we come here?" Roger asked. "It would
surely have been much shorter had we travelled through Ber-
wick and along the coast road."
Much shorter, R6ger; but Sir Henry thought it better
that we should go inland to Haddington and thence east ,to
Dunbar, as thus entering the town it would seem that we
came from Edinburgh or from some western monastery,
whereas did we journey by the coast road it might be guessed
that we had come from England."
As before, they put up at a hostelry, and Oswald then pro-
ceeded on foot to the governor's house. Some soldiers were
loitering at the door.
"What do you want, lad ? one of them asked as he came up.
"I have a letter which I am charged to deliver into the
governor's own hands."
"A complaint, I suppose, from some worthy prior who has
lost some of his beeves? "
Maybe the governor will inform you if you ask him,"
Oswald replied.
"I shall pull your ear for you when you come out, young
jackanapes," the soldier said hotly.







A MISSION


"That danger I must even risk. Business first and pleasure
afterwards." And while the other soldiers burst into a fit of
laughter at the astonishment of their comrade at what he
deemed the insolence of this young servitor of a monastery,
he quietly entered.
The guard at the door, who had heard the colloquy, led
him into the governor's room. "A messenger with a letter
desires speech with you, Sir Philip," he said.
"Bid him enter," the knight said briefly.
Oswald entered and bowed deeply. He waited until the
door closed behind the attendant and then said:
"I am the bearer of a letter, sir, from Lord Percy to you."
The knight looked at him in surprise.
"Hotspur has chosen a strange messenger," he muttered to
himself as he took the missive Oswald held out to him, cut
the silk that bound it with a dagger, and read its contents.
As he laid it down he rose to his feet. Excuse my want of
courtesy," he said. Lord Percy tells me that you are one
of his esquires no slight recommendation and that you
are intrusted with somewhat important a mission on his part
to Dunbar, a still higher recommendation for assuredly he
would not have selected you for such a purpose had you not
stood high in his regard. But, indeed, at first I took you for
what you seemed, as the bearer of a complaint from some
abbot; for in truth such complaints are not uncommon, for
whenever a bullock is lost they put it down to my men.
Where are your horses that Percy speaks of ? You will, I hope,
take up your abode here as long as you stay in the town."
"Thank you, Sir Philip; but I shall go forward in the
morning. I have already put up at the. Golden Rose. It
would attract attention were I to come here, and it were best
that I remain as I am; and indeed I have brought no clothes
with me save those I stand in."






BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


"Well, perhaps, as you do not wish to attract attention, it
were best so; and I pray you inform Lord Percy of the reason
why you declined my entertainment."
"I shall be glad, Sir Philip, if you will send down a couple
of your men to fetch the horses up to your stables, as I shall
start as soon as the gates are open to-morrow morning."
"I will do so at once." And the governor rang a hand-bell
on the table.
Send two of the men up here," he said, as an attendant
entered.
A minute later a door opened, and two soldiers came in and
saluted. One of them, to Oswald's amusement, was the man
with whom he had exchanged words below.
You will accompany this gentleman to the Golden Rose,
and bring back two horses which he will hand over to you,
and place them in the stables with mine. Are you sure,
Master Forster, that there is nothing more that I can do for
you?"
"Nothing whatever, I thank you, sir; and I am greatly
obliged by your courtesy, and with your permission I will take
my leave. I hope to return here in the course of a week or
ten days."
So saying, Oswald shook hands with the governor and went
downstairs, followed by the soldiers, who had not yet recovered
from their surprise at seeing Oswald seated and evidently on
familiar terms with their lord. Oswald said nothing to them
until he arrived at the Golden Rose. Then he led the way to
the stables, and handed the horses over to them.
I suppose that that pulling of the ear will be deferred for
a time?" he said, with a smile, to the soldier who had made
the remark.
The man sheepishly took hold of the bridle. I could not
tell, sir he began.






AT DUNBAR


Of course you could not," Oswald interrupted. Still, it
may be a lesson to you that it is just as well not to make fun
of people until you are quite sure who they are. There, I
bear no malice; get yourselves a stoup of wine in payment for
your services."
I thought that there was something out-of-the-way about
him," the other man said as they walked up the street with the
two horses, or he would never have turned upon you as he
did. It is evident that he is someone of consequence, and is
here on some secret business or other with Sir Philip. It is
well that he did not bear malice, for you would have got it hot
from the governor had he reported what you said to him."




CHAPTER VI

AT DUNBAR

THE journey passed without any incident of importance,
but Oswald had reason to congratulate himself on having
taken the monk with him. On one occasion, as they were
passing over a wild heath, a party of eight or ten men, on
rough ponies, rode up. They were armed with spears and
swords. They reined up with exclamations of disappointment
as Roger, Who had rolled up his robe round his waist for con-
venience of walking, let it fall round him.
"You have played us a scurvy trick, monk," the leader said
angrily. "Who was to guess it was a monk who was thus
striding along?"
You would find it difficult to walk yourself with this robe
dangling about your heels,!" Roger said.
Whither are you bound, and whence are you going?"







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


"We are travelling to Dunbar, being sent to the convent of
St. Magnus there, and come from Roxburgh."
"'T is a shame that so stalwart a fellow as you are should be
leading a drone's life in a convent, when every true Scotsman
is sharpening his spear in readiness for what may come when
the truce with England expires."
"I am glad to hear that you are so well employed," Roger
replied ; but methinks that in days like these it is sometimes
useful to have a few men of thews and sinews even in a re-
ligious house, for there are those who sometimes fail in the
respect they owe to the Church."
"That is true enough," the men laughed. "Well, go thy
way, there is nought to be gained from a travelling monk."
"Nought, good friend, save occasionally hard blows, when
the monk happens to be of my strength and stature, and
carries a staff like this."
"'T is a goodly weapon in sooth, and you look as if you
knew how to wield it."
"Even a monk may know that, seeing that a staff is not a
carnal weapon."
And rolling up his sleeves Roger took the staff in the middle
with both hands, in the manner of a quarter-staff, and made it
play round his head with a speed and vigour that showed that
he was a complete master of the exercise.
"Enough, enough!" the man said, while exclamations of
admiration broke from the others. Truly from such a cham-
pion, strong enough to wield a weapon that resembles a
weaver's beam rather than a quarter-staff, there would be more
hard knocks than silver to be gained; but it is all the more
pity that such skill and strength should be thrown away in a
convent. Perhaps it is as well that you are wearing a monk's
gown, for methinks that, eight to one as we are, some of us
might have got broken heads before we gained the few pence







AT DUNBAR


in your pocket. Come on men; better luck next time. It is
clear that this man is not the one we are charged to capture."
And with his followers he rode off across the moor.
I do not think that they are what they seem, Oswald said,
as they resumed their journey. The man's speech was not
that of a border raider, and his followers would hardly have
sat their horses so silently and obeyed his orders so promptly
had they been merely thieving caterans; besides, you marked
that he said you were not the man they were watching for."
"Whom think you that they are then, Master Oswald? "
I think it possible that they may be a party of Douglas's
followers, led by a knight. It may be that Douglas has
received some hint of March's being in communication with
England, and that he has sent a party to seize and search any
traveller who looked like a messenger from the south. Of
course this may be only fancy. Still, I am right glad that you
were wearing your monkish robe, for had I been alone I might
have been cross-questioned so shrewdly as to my purpose in
travelling, that I might have been held on suspicion, and
means employed to get the truth out of me."
At the small town where they stopped next night they
learned that many complaints had been made by travellers
from the south of how they had been stopped by a party of
armed men on the border, closely questioned, and searched,
and in some cases robbed. This had been going on for some
weeks, and the sheriff of the county had twice collected an
armed force and ridden in search of the robbers, but alto-
gether without success. It was believed that they were stran-
gers to the district, and the description given of them had
not agreed with those of any noted bad characters in the
neighbourhood.
"Certainly, Master Oswald," the monk said, all this seems
to support your idea. Money and valuables are soon found;




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