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THE CAPTIVE FREED.
I- iT L. rj *. t i
LONDON EDI N BSU RCG
AND D-NEW O YOR ,
A Tale of the Times of tIe Black Prince
Author of The Chtrch and the KiTng," Loyal Hearts and True,"
The Lord of Dy nevor,"
T. NELSON AND SONS
London, Edlinburgh, and New York
THE TWIN EAGLETS,
FATHER ANSELM, ...
THE UNKNOWN WORLD, ...
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE, ...
THE KING AND THE PRINCE, ...
THE PRINCE'S EXPLOIT,
TIE RECTOR'S HOUSE, ...
THE VISIT TO THE WOODMAN,
JOAN VAVASOUR, ...
A QUIET RETREAT,
ON THE WAR-PATH, ...
WINNING HIS SPURS, ...
WINTER DAYS, ... ..
THE DOUBLE SURRENDER, ...
IN THE OLD HOME,
THE BLACK DEATH,
WITI FATHER PAUL, ...
TIHE STRICKEN SORCERER,
... ... 26
... ... ... 61
... ... 79
... ... 95
... ... 111
... ... ... 127
... ... 162
... ... 215
... ... 230
... .. ... 247
... ... 281
... ... ... 208
... ... ... 315
XX. MINISTERING SPIRITS, ...
XXI.' THE OLD, OLD STORY, ...
XXII. THE BLACK VISOR, ...
XXIII. IN THE HANDS OF HIS FOE,
XXIV. GASTON'S QUEST, ...
XXV. THE FAIRY OF THE FOREST,
XXVI. THE RESCUE OF RAYMOND, ...
XXVII. PETER SANGHURST'S WOOING,
XXVIII. GASTON'S SEARCH,
XXIX. THE FALL OF THE SANGHURST.
XXX. WITH THE PRINCE, ...
XXXI. THE SURRENDER OF SAUT, ...
XXXII. ON THE FIELD OF POITIERS,
XXXIII. AT LAST ... ..
.. ... ... 332
... ... ... 398
... ... ... 435
.. ... ... 471
... ... ... 487
... ... 506
... ... ... 544
... ... 557
IN THE DAYS OF CHIVALRY.
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
A UTU MN was upon the world-the warm and gorgeous
autumn of the south-autumn that turned the
leaves upon the trees to every hue of russet, scarlet, and
gold, that transformed the dark solemn aisles of the track-
less forests of Gascony into what might well have been
palaces of fairy beauty, and covered the ground with a
thick and soundless carpet of almost every hue of the
The sun still retained much of its heat and power, and
came slanting in between the huge trunks of the forest
trees in broad shafts of quivering light. Overhead the
soft wind from the west made a ceaseless, dreamy music;
and here and there the solemn silence of the forest was
broken by the sweet note of some singing bird or the
harsh croak of the raven. At night the savage cry of the
wolf too often disturbed the rest of the scattered dwellers
in that vast forest, and made a belated traveller look well
THE TWIN EAGL ETS.
to the sharpness of his weapons and the temper of his bow-
string; but by day and in the sunlight the forest was
beautiful and quiet enough-something too quiet, perhaps,
for the taste of the two handsome lads who were pacing
the dim aisles together, their arms entwined and their
curly heads in close proximity as they walked and talked.
The two lads were of exactly the same height, and bore
a strong likeness one to the other. Their features were
almost identical, but the colouring was different, so that no
one who saw them in a good light would be likely to
mistake or confuse them. Both had the oval face and
delicate regular features which we English sometimes call
foreign-looking ;" but then again they both possessed the
broad shoulders, the noble height, the erect carriage, and
frank, fearless bearing which has in it something distinct-
ively English, and which had distinguished these lads from
their infancy from the children of the country of their
adoption. Then, though Raymond had the dark, liquid
eyes of the south, Gaston's were as blue as the summer
skies; and again, whilst Gaston's cheek was of a swarthy
hue, Raymond's was as fair as that of an English maiden;
and both had some golden gleams in their curly brown
hair--hair that clustered round their heads in a thick,
waving mass, and gave a leonine look to the bold, eager
faces. The lion cubs" had been one of the many nick-
names given to the brothers by the people. round, who
loved them, yet felt that they would not always keep them
in their quiet forest. "The twin eaglets" was another
such name; and truly there was something. of the keen
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
wildness of the eagle's eye in the flashing blue eyes of
Gaston. The eager, delicate features and the slightly
aquiline noses of the pair added, perhaps, to this resem-
blance; and there had been many whispers of late to the
effect that the eaglets would not remain long in the nest
now, but would spread their wings for a wider flight.
Born and bred though they had been at the mill in the
great forest that covered almost the whole of the district
of Sauveterre, -they were no true children of the mill.
What had scions of the great house of the De Brocas to do
with a humble miller of Gascony ? The boys were true
sons of their house-grafts of the parent stock. The
Gascon peasants looked at them with pride, and murmured
that the day would come when they would show the
world the mettle of which they were made. Those were
stirring times for Gascony-when Gascony was a fief of
the English Crown, sorely coveted by the French monarch,
but tenaciously held on to by the Roy Outremer," as the
great Edward was called; the King who, as was rumoured,
was claiming as his own the whole realm of France. And
Gascony, it must be remembered, did not in those days hold
herself to be a part of France-not a part of the French
monarchy. She held a much more important place than
she would have done had she been a mere fief of the
French Crown. She had a certain independence of her
own-her own language, her own laws, her own customs;
and she saw no humiliation in owning the sovereignty of
England's King, since she had passed under English rule
through no act of conquest or aggression on England's part,
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
but by the peaceful fashion of marriage, when nearly two
centuries ago Eleanor of Aquitaine had brought to her lord,
King Henry the Second, the fair lands of which Gascony
formed a part. Gascony had grown and flourished apace
since then, and was rich, prosperous, and content. Her
lords knew how important she might be in days to come,
when the inevitable struggle between the rival Kings of
France and England should commence; and like an accom-
plished coquette, she made the most of her knowledge, and
played her part well, watching her opportunity for demand-
ing an increase of those rights and privileges of which she
had not a few already.
But it was not of their country's position that the twin
brothers were so eagerly talking as they wandered together
along the woodland paths. It was little indeed that they
knew of what was passing in the wide world that lay
beyond their peaceful home, little that they heard of the
strife of party or the suspicious jealousy of two powerful
monarchs-jealousy which must, as all long-sighted men
well knew, break into open warfare before long. It was
of matters nearer to their own hearts that the brothers
spoke as they sauntered through the woodland paths
together; and Gaston's blue eyes flashed fire as he paused
and tossed back the tangled curls from his broad brow.
"It is our birthright-our land-our castle. Do they
not all say that in old days it was a De Brocas, not a
Navailles, that ruled there ? Father Anselm hath told us
a thousand times how the English King issued mandate
after mandate bidding him give up his ill-gotten gains, and
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
restore the lands of his rival; -and yet he failed to do it.
I trow had I been in the place of our grandsire, I would
not so tamely have sat down beneath so great an affront !
I would have fought to the last drop of my blood to
enforce my rights, and win back my lost inheritance!
Brother, why should not thou and I do that one day ?
Canst thou be content for ever with this tame life with
honest Jean and Margot at the mill ? Are we the sons of
peasants ? Does their blood run in our veins ? Raymond,
thou art as old as I-thou hast lived as long. Canst
thou remember our dead mother ? Canst thou remember
her last charge to us ?"
Raymond had nodded his head at the first question; he
nodded it again now, a glance of strange eagerness stealing
into his dark eyes. Although the two youths wore the
dress of peasant boys,-suits of undyed homespun only very
slightly finer in make than was common in those parts,-
they spoke the English tongue, and spoke it with purity
and ease. It needed no trained eye to see that it was
something more than peasant blood that ran in their veins,
albeit the peasant race of Gascony in those days was
perhaps the freest, the finest, the most independent in the
whole civilized world.
"I remember well," answered Raymond quickly; "nay,
what then ?"
"What then ? Spoke she not of a lost heritage which
it behoved us to recover ? Spoke she not of rights which
the sons of the De Brocas had power to claim-rights
which the great Roy Outremer had given to them, and
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
which it was for them to win back when the time should
come ? Dost thou remember.? dost thou heed ? And
now that we are approaching to man's estate, shall we not
think of these things ? Shall we not be ready when.the
time comes ?"
Raymond gave a quick look at his brother. His own
eyes were full of eager light, but he hesitated a moment
"And thinkest thou, Gaston, that in speaking thus our
mother would fain have had us strive to recover the castle
and domain of Saut ? "
"In good sooth yea," answered Gaston quickly. "Was
it not reft from our grandsire by force ? Has it not been
kept from him ever since by that hostile brood of Navailles,
whom all men hate for their cruelty and oppression ?
Brother, have we not heard of dark and hideous deeds
done in that same castle-deeds that shame the very man-
hood of those that commit them, and make all honest folk
curse them in their hearts ? Raymond, thou and I have
longed this many a day to sally forth to fight for the
Holy Sepulchre against the Saracens; yet have we not a
crusade here at home that calls us yet more nearly ? Hast
thou not thought of it too by day, and dreamed of it by
night ? To plant the De Brocas ensign above the walls of
Saut-that would indeed be a thing to live for Methinks I
see the banner already waving over the proud battlements."
Gaston's eyes flashed and glowed, and Raymond's caught
an answering gleam; but still he hesitated awhile, and then
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
"I fain would think that some day such a thing might
be; but, Brother, he is a powerful and wily noble, and
they say that he is high in favour with the Roy Outremer.
What chance have two striplings like ourselves against so
strong a foe ? To take a castle, men must be found, and
money likewise, and we have neither; and all men stand
in deadly terror of the wrath of the Sieur de Navailles.
Do they not keep even our name a secret from him, lest
he should swoop down upon the mill with his armed
retainers and carry us off thence-so hates he the whole
family that bears the name of De Brocas ? What could
we do against power such as his ? I trow nothing. We
should be but as pigmies before a giant."
Gaston's face had darkened. He could not gainsay his
brother's reluctant words, but he chafed beneath them as
a restive horse beneath the curb rein tightly drawn.
"Yet our mother bid us watch and be ready. She
spoke often of our lost inheritance, and she knew all the
peril, the danger."
Raymond's eyes sought his brother's face. He looked
like one striving to recall a dim and almost lost memory.
"But thinkest thou, Gaston, that in thus speaking our
mother was thinking of the strong fortress of Saut ? I
can scarce believe that she would call that our birthright.
For we are not of the eldest branch of our house. There
must be many whose title would prove far better than our
own. We might perchance win it back to the house of
De Brocas by act of conquest; but even so, I misdoubt me
if we should hold it in peace. We have proud kinsfolk in
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
England, they tell us, whose claim,-doubtless, would rank
before ours. They care not to cross the water to win
back the lands themselves, yet I trow they would put
their claim before the King did tidings reach them that
their strong and wily foe had been ousted therefrom.
We win not back lands for others to hold, nor would we
willingly war against our own kindred. Methinks, my
Brother, that our mother had other thoughts in her mind
when she spoke of our rightful inheritance-"
"Other thoughts! nay, now, what other thoughts ? "
asked Gaston, with quick impatience. "I have never
dreamed but of Saut. I have called it in my thoughts
our birthright ever since we could walk far enow to look
upon its frowning battlements perched upon yon wooded
crag." And Gaston stretched out his hand in the direction
in which the Castle of Saut lay, not many leagues distant.
"We have heard naught save of Saut ever since we could
run alone. What but that could our mother's words have
boded ? Sure she looked to us to recover yon fortress as
our father once meant to do ?"
"I know not altogether, and yet I can scarce believe it
was so. Would that our father had left some commands
we might have followed. But, Brother, canst thou not
recall that other name she spoke so many a time and oft
as she lay a-dying? Sure it was some such name as
Basildon or Basildene-the name of some fair spot, I
trow, where she must once have lived. Gaston, canst thou
remember the day when she called us to her, and joined
our hands together, and spoke of us as 'the twin brothers
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
of Basildene' ? I have scarce thought of it from that hour
to this, but it comes back now clearly to my mind. In
sooth, it might well have been of Basildene she was think-
ing when she gave us that last charge. What could she
have known or cared for Saut and its domain ? She had
fled hither from England, I know not why. She knew
but little of the ways and the thoughts of those amongst
whom she had come to dwell. It might well have been
of her own land that she was thinking so oft. I verily
believe that Basildene is our lost inheritance."
"Basildene!" said Gaston quickly, with a start as of
recollection suddenly stirred to life; "sure I remember the
name right well now that thy words bring it back to
mind. Yet it is years since I have heard it spoke.
Raymond, knowest thou where is this Basildene ?"
In England, I well believe," was the answer of the other
brother. Methinks it was the name of our mother's home.
I seem to remember how she told us of it-the old house
over the sea, where she had lived. Perchance it was once
her own in very sooth, and some turbulent baron or jealous
kinsman drove her forth from it, even as we of the house
of De Brocas have been ousted from the Castle of Saut.
Brother, if that be so, Basildene is more our inheritance
than yon gloomy fortress can be. We are our mother's
only children, and when she joined our hands together she
called us the twins of Basildene. I trow that we have an
inheritance of our very own, Gaston, away over the blue
Gaston's eyes flashed with sudden ardour and purpose.
THE TWIN EAGLETS,
Often of late had the twins talked together of the future
that lay before them, of the doughty deeds they would
accomplish; yet so far nothing of definite purpose had
entered into their minds. Gaston's dreams had been all of
the ancient fortress of Saut, now for long years passed into
the hands of the hostile family, the terrible and redoubtable
Sieur de Navailles, who was feared throughout the length
and breadth of the country round about his house. Raymond
had been dimly conscious of other thoughts and purposes,
but memory was only gradually recalling to his mind the
half-forgotten days of childhood, when the twin eaglets
had stood at their mother's knee to talk with her in her
own tongue of the land across the water where was her
home-the land to which their father had lately passed,
upon some mission the children were too young to under-
Now the faint dim memories had returned clear and
strong. The long silence was broken. Eagerly the boys
strove to recall the past, and bit by bit things pieced
themselves together in their minds till they could not but
marvel how they had so long forgotten. Yet it is often
so in youth. Days pass by one after the other unnoticed
and unmarked. Then all in a moment some new train
of thought or purpose is awakened, a new element enters
life, making it from that day something different; and
by a single bound the child becomes a youth-the youth
Some such change as this was passing over the twin
brothers at this time. A deep-seated dissatisfaction with
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
their present surroundings had long been growing up in
their hearts. They were happy in a fashion in the humble
home at the mill, with good Jean the miller, and Margot
his wife who had been their nurse and a second mother to
them all their lives; but they knew that a great gulf
divided them from the Gascon peasants amongst whom
they lived-a gulf recognized by all those with whom they
came in contact, and in nowise bridged by the fact that
the brothers shared in a measure the simple peasant life,
and had known no other.
Their very name of De Brocas spoke of the race of
nobles who had long held almost sovereign rights over a
large tract of country watered by the Adour and its many
tributary streams; and although at this time, the year of
grace 1343, the name of De Brocas was no more heard,
but that of the proud Sieur de Navailles who now reigned
there instead, the old name was loved and revered amongst
the people, and the boys were bred up in all the traditions
of their race, till the eagle nature at last asserted itself,
and they felt that life could no longer go on in its old
accustomed groove. Had they not been taught from in-
fancy that a great future lay before them ? and what
could that future be but the winning back of their old
ancestral lands and rights ?
Perhaps they would have spoken more of this deeply-
seated hope had it not been so very chimerical-so appa-
rently impossible of present fulfilment. To wrest from
the proud and haughty Sieur de Navailles the vast terri-
tory and strong castle that had been held by him in open
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
defiance of many mandates from a powerful King, was a
task that even the sanguine and ambitious boys knew to
be a hundred times too hard for them. If they had
dreamed of it in their hearts, they had scarce named the
hope even to each other. But to-day the brooding silence
had been broken. The twins had taken counsel one with
the other; and now burning thoughts of this other fair
inheritance were in the minds of both. What golden pos-
sibilities did not open out before them! How small a
matter it seemed to cross the ocean and claim as their own
that unknown Basildene! Both were certain that their
mother had held it in her own right. Sure,.if there were
right or justice in the kingdom of the Roy Outremer, they
would but have to show who and what they were, to
become in very fact what their mother had loved to call
them-the twin brothers of Basildene.
How their young hearts swelled with delighted expecta-
tion at the thought of leaving behind the narrow life of
the mill, and going forth into the wide world to seek fame
and fortune there! And England was no such foreign
land to them, albeit they had never been above ten leagues
from the mill where they had been born and brought up.
Was not their mother an Englishwoman? Had she not
taught them the language of her country, and begged them
never to forget it ? And could they not speak it now as
well as they spoke the language of Gascony-better than
they spoke the French of the great realm to which Gas-
cony in a fashion belonged? The thought of travel always
brings with it a certain exhilaration, especially to the
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
young and ardent, and thoughts of such a journey on such
a quest could not but be tinged with all the rainbow hues
We will go; we will go right soon!" cried Gaston.
"Would that we could go to-morrow Why have we lin-
gered here so long, when we might have been up and doing
years ago ?"
"Nay, Brother, we were but children years ago. We
are not yet sixteen. Yet methinks our manhood comes
the faster to us for that noble blood runs in our veins.
But we will speak to Father Anselm. He has always been
our kindest friend. He will best counsel us whether to
go forth, or whether to tarry yet longer at home-"
"I will tarry no longer; I pant to burst my bonds,"
cried the impetuous Gaston; and Raymond was in no whit
less eager, albeit he had something more of his mother's
prudence and self-restraint.
Methinks the holy Father will bid us go forth," he said
thoughtfully. He has oft spoken to us of England and
the Roy Outremer, and has ever bidden us speak our
mother's tongue, and not forget it here in these parts where
no man else speaks it. I trow he has foreseen the day
when we should go thither to claim our birthright. Our
mother told him many things that we were too young to
hear. Perchance he could tell us more of Basildene than
she ever did, if we go to him and question him thereupon."
Gaston nodded his head several times.
"Thou speakest sooth, Brother," said he. "We will go to
him forthwith. We will take counsel with him, albeit-"
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
Gaston did not finish his sentence, for two reasons.
One was that his brother knew so well what words were
on his lips that speech was well-nigh needless; the other,
that he was at that moment rudely interrupted. And
although the brothers had no such thought at the time,
it is probable that this interruption and its consequences
had a very distinct bearing upon their after lives, and cer-
tainly it produced a marked effect upon the counsel they
subsequently received from their spiritual father, who, but
for that episode, might strongly have dissuaded the youths
from going forth so young into the world.
The interruption came in the form of an angry hail from
a loud and gruff voice, full of impatience and resentment.
"Out of my path, ye base-born peasants!" shouted a
horseman who had just rounded the sharp angle taken by
the narrow bridle-path, and was brought almost to a stand-
still by the tall figures of the two stalwart youths, which
took up the whole of the open way between the trees and
their thick undergrowth. "Stand aside, ye idle loons!
Know ye not how to make way for your betters? Then,
in sooth, I will teach you a lesson;" and a thick hide lash
came whirling through the air and almost lighted upon the
shoulders of Gaston, who chanced to be the nearer.
But such an insult as that was not to bo borne. Even
a Gascon peasant might well have sprung upon a solitary
adversary of noble blood had he ventured to assault him
thus, without support from his train of followers. As for
Gaston, he hesitated not an instant, but with flashing eyes
he sprang at the right arm of his powerful adversary, and
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
had wrested the whip from him and tossed it far away
before the words were well out of the angry lord's mouth.
With a great oath the man drew his sword; but the
youth laughed him to scorn as he stepped back out of
reach of the formidable weapon. He well knew his advan-
tage. Light of foot, though all unarmed, he could defy any
horseman in this wooded spot. No horse could penetrate
to the right or left of the narrow track. Even if the knight
dismounted, the twin brothers, who knew every turn and
winding of these dim forest paths, could lead him a fine
dance, and then break away and let him find his way out
as best he could. Fearless and impetuous as Gaston ever
was, at this moment his fierce spirit was stirred more
deeply within him than it had ever been before, for in this
powerful warrior who had dared to insult both him and
his brother-ay, and their mother's fair fame too-he
recognized the lineaments of the hated Sieur de Navailles.
The more cautious Raymond had done the same, and
now he spoke in low though urgent accents.
"Have a care, Brother Knowest thou who it be ?"
"Know? ay, that I do. It is he who now holds by
force and tyranny those fair lands which should be ours-
lands which our forefathers held from generation to gener-
ation, which should be theirs now, were right and justice
to be had, as one day it may be, when the Roy Outremer
comes in person, as men say he will one day come, and all
men may have access to his royal presence. And he, the
tyrant, the usurper, dares to call us base-born, to call us
peasants-we who own a nobler name than he !-The day
THE TWIN EAGLETS.
will come, proud man, when thou shalt rue the hour when
thou spakest thus to me-to me who am thy equal, ay,
and more than thy equal, in birth, and who will some day
come and prove it to thee at the sword's point!"
Many expressions had flitted over the rider's face as
these bold words had been spoken-anger, astonishment,
then an unspeakable fury, which made Gaston look well to
the hand which held the shining sword; last of all an
immense astonishment of a new kind-a perplexity not
unmixed with dismay, and tinged with a lively curiosity.
As the youth ceased speaking the knight sheathed his
sword, and when he replied his voice was pitched in a
very different key.
"I pray you pardon, young sirs," he said, glancing
quickly from one handsome noble face to the other. I
knew not that I spoke to those of gentle birth. The dress
deceived me. Tell me now, good youths, who and whence
are ye ? You have spoken in parables so far; tell me
,more plainly, what is your name and kindred ?"
Raymond, who had heard somewhat of the enmity of
the Sieur de Navailles, and knew that their identity as sons
of the house of De Brocas had always been kept from his
knowledge, here pressed his brother's arm as though to
suggest the necessity for caution; but Gaston's hot blood
was up. The talk they had been holding together had
strung his nerves to the utmost pitch of tension. He was
weary of obscurity, weary of the peasant life. He cared
not how soon he threw off the mask. Asked a downright
question, even by a foe, it was natural to him to make a
THE TWIN EAGLETS. 25
straightforward answer, and he spoke without fear and
"We are the sons of Arnald de Brocas. De Brocas is
our name; we can prove it whenever such proof becomes
needful. Our fathers held these fair lands long ere you or
yours did. The day may come when a De Brocas may
reign here once more, and the cursed brood of Navailles
be rooted out for ever."
And without waiting to see the effect produced by such
words upon the haughty horseman, the two brothers dashed
off into the wood, and were speedily lost to sight.
T HE mill of Sainte-Foi, which was the home of the
twin brothers of the De Brocas line, was situated
upon a tributary stream of the river Adour, and was but
a couple of leagues distant from the town of Sauveterre-
one of those numerous bastidess or villes Anglaises "
built by the great King Edward the First of England
during his long regency of the province of Gascony in the
lifetime of his father. It was one of those so-called
" Filleules de Bordeaux" which, bound by strong ties to
the royal city, the queen of the Garonne, stood by her and
played so large a part in the great drama of the Hundred
Years' War. Those cities had been built by a great king
and statesman to do a great work, and to them were
granted charters of liberties such as to attract into their
walls large numbers of persons who helped originally in
the construction of the new townships, and then resided
there, and their children after them, proud of the rights
and immunities they claimed, and loyally true to the cause
of the English Kings, which made them what they were.
It is plain to the reader of the history of those days that
FA THEIR ANSVELM.
Gascony could never have remained for three hundred
years a fief of the English Crown, had it not been to the
advantage of her people that she should so remain. Her
attachment to the cause of the Roy Outremer, her willing
homage to him, would never have been given for so long a
period of time, had not the people of the land found that
it was to their own advancement and welfare thus to
accord this homage and fealty.
Nor is the cause for this advantage far to seek. Gascony
was of immense value to England, and of increasing value
as she lost her hold upon the more northerly portions of
France. The wine-trade alone was so profitable that the
nobility, and even the royal family of England, traded on
their own account. Bordeaux, with its magnificent harbour
and vast trade, was a queen amongst maritime cities. The
vast landes" of the province made the best possible rear-
ing-ground for the chargers and cavalry horses to which
England owed much of her warlike supremacy; whilst the
people themselves, with their strength and independence of
character, their traditions of personal and individual free-
dom which can be clearly traced back to the Roman
occupation of the province, and their long attachment to
England and her King, were the most valuable of allies;
and although they must have been regarded to a certain
extent as foreigners when on English soil, they still assimi-
lated bettor and worked more easily with British subjects
than any pure Frenchman had ever been found to do.
Small wonder then that so astute a monarch as the
First Edward had taken vast pains to draw closer the
7A THEIR ANSELM.
bond which united this fair province to England. The
bold Gascons well knew that they would find no such
liberties as they now enjoyed did they once put themselves
beneath the rule of the French King. His country was
already overgrown and almost unmanageable. He might
cast covetous eyes upon Gascony, but he would not pour
into it the wealth that flowed steadily from prosperous
England. He would not endow it with charters, each one
more liberal than the last, or bind it to his kingdom by
giving it a pre-eminence that would but arouse the jealousy
of its neighbours. No: the shrewd Gascons knew that full
well, and knew when they were well off. They could
often obtain an increase of liberty and an enlarged charter
of rights by coquetting with the French monarch, and thus
rousing the fears of the English King; but they had no
wish for any real change, and lived happily and prosper-
ously beneath the rule of the Roy Outremer; and amongst
all the freemen of the Gascon world, none enjoyed such
full privileges as those who lived within the walls of the
" villes Anglaises," of which Sauveterre was one amongst
the smaller cities.
The construction of these towns (now best seen in
Libourne) is very simple, and almost always practically
the same-a square in the centre formed by the public
buildings, with eight streets radiating from it, each guarded
by a gate. An outer ditch or moat protected the wall or
palisade, and the towns were thus fortified in a simple
but effective manner, and guarded as much by their own
privileges as by any outer bulwarks. The inhabitants
were bound together by close ties, and each smaller city
looked to the parent city of Bordeaux, and was proud of
the title of her daughter.
Sauveterre and its traditions and its communistic life
were familiar enough, and had been familiar from childhood
to the twin brothers. Half-way between the mill and the
town stood a picturesque and scattered hamlet, and to this
hamlet was attached a church, of which a pious ecclesiastic,
by name Father Anselm, had charge. He was a man of
much personal piety, and was greatly beloved through all
the country side, where he was known in every hut and
house for leagues around the doors of his humble home.
He was, as was so frequently the case in those times, the
doctor and the scribe, as well as the spiritual adviser, of his
entire flock; and he was so much trusted and esteemed that
all men told him their affairs and asked advice, not in the
confessional alone, but as one man speaking to another in
whom he has strong personal confidence.
The twin brothers knew that during the years when
their dead mother had resided at the mill with honest
Jean and Margot (they began greatly to wonder now why
she had so lived in hiding and obscurity), she had been
constantly visited by the holy Father, and that she had
told him things about herself and her history which were
probably known to no other human being beside. Brought
up as the youths had been, and trained in a measure be-
neath the kindly eye of the priest, they would in any case
have asked his counsel and blessing before taking any
overt step in life; but all the more did they feel that they
must speak to him now, since he was probably the only
person within their reach who could tell them anything
as to their own parentage and history that they did not
We will go to him upon the morrow," said Gaston
with flashing eyes. We will rise with the sun-or before
it-and go to him ere his day's work is begun. He will
surely find time to talk with us when he hears the errand
upon which we come. I trow now that when he has sat
at our board, and has bent upon our faces those glances I
have not known how to read aright, he has been wonder-
ing how long it would be ere we should awake to the
knowledge that this peasant life is not the life of the
De Brocas race, guessing that we should come to him for
counsel and instruction ere we spread our wings to flee
away. They call us eaglets in sooth; and do eaglets rest
for ever in their mountain eyry ? Nay, they spread their
wings as strength comes upon them, and soar upwards and
onwards to see for themselves the great world around;
even as thou and I will soar away, Brother, and seek other
fortunes than will ever be ours here in Sauveterre."
With these burning feelings in their hearts, it was no
wonder that the twins uttered a simultaneous exclamation
of satisfaction and pleasure when, as they approached the
mill, they were aware of the familiar figure of Father
Anselm sitting at the open door of the living-house, en-
gaged, as it seemed, in an animated discussion with the
worthy miller and his good wife.
The look which the Father bent upon the two youths
as they approached betrayed a very deep and, sincere
affection for them; and when after supper they asked to
speak with him in private, he readily acceded to their
request, accepting the offer of a bed from the miller's wife,
as already the sun had long set, and his own home was
some distance away.
The faces of Jean and Margot were grave with anxious
thought, and that of the priest seemed to reflect something
of the same expression; for during the course of the simple
meal which all had shared together, Gaston had told of the
unlooked-for encounter with the proud Sieur de Navailles
in the forest, and of the defiance he had met with from the
twin eaglets. As the good miller and his wife heard how
Gaston had openly declared his name and race to the im-
placable foe of his house, they wrung their hands together
and uttered many lamentable exclamations. The present
Lord of Saut was terribly feared throughout the neigh-
bourhood in which he dwelt. His fierce and cruel temper
had broken forth again and again in acts of brutality or
oppression from which there was practically no redress.
Free as the Gascon peasant was from much of the serfdom
and feudal servitude of other lands, he was in some ways
worse off than the serf, when he chanced to have roused
the anger of some great man of the neighbourhood. The
power of the nobles and barons-the irresponsible power
they too often held-was one of the crying evils of the
age, one which was being gradually extinguished by the
growing independence of the middle classes. But such
changes were slow of growth, and long in penetrating
beyond great centres; and it was a terrible thing for a
brace of lads, unprotected and powerless as these twin
brothers, to have brought upon themselves the hostility
and perchance the jealousy of a man like the Sieur de
Navailles. If he wished to discover their hiding-place, he
would have small difficulty in doing so; and let him but
once find that out, and the lives of the boys would not be
safe either by night or day. The retainers of the proud
baron might swoop down at any moment upon the peaceful
mill, and carry off the prey without let or hindrance; and
this was why the secret of their birth and name had been
so jealously kept from all (save a few who loved the
house of De Brocas) by the devoted miller and his wife.
But Gaston little recked of the threatened peril. The
fearless nature of his race was in him, and he would have
scorned himself had he failed to speak out boldly when
questioned by the haughty foe of his house. If the De
Brocas had been ruined in all else, they had their fearless
honour left them still.
But the priest's face was grave as he let the boys lead
him into the narrow bedchamber where they slept-a room
bare indeed of such things as our eyes would seek, but
which for the times was commodious and comfortable
enough. He was pondering in his mind what step must
now be taken, for it seemed to him as though the place of
safety in the mill in which their mother had left her sons
could hide them no longer. Go they must, of that he felt
well assured; but where ? That was a question less easily
Father," began Gaston eagerly, so soon as the door had
closed behind the three, and Raymond had coaxed the dim
taper into its feeble flicker-" Father, we have come to thee
for counsel-for help. Father, chide us not, nor call us
ingrate; but it has come to this with us-we can no
longer brook this tame and idle life. We are not of the
peasant stock; why must we live the peasant life ? Father,
we long to be up and doing-to spread our wings for a
wider flight. We know that those who bear our name
are not hiding their heads in lowly cots; we know that
our sires have been soldiers and statesmen in the days that
are past. Are we then to hide our heads here till the snows
of age gather upon them? Are we, of all our race, to
live and die obscure, unknown ? Father, we cannot stand
it; it shall not be To thee we come to ask more of our-
selves than yet we know. To thee our mother commended
us in her last moments; to thee she bid us look in days to
come when we needed guidance and help. Wherefore to
thee we have come now, when we feel that there must
surely be an end to all of this. Tell us, Father, of our sire;
tell us of our kinsfolk. Where be they ? Where may we
seek them ? I trow thou knowest all. Then tell us, I
beseech thee-tell us freely all there is to know."
The good priest raised his eyes and thoughtfully scanned
the faces of the two eager youths. Gaston was actually
shivering with repressed excitement; Raymond was more
calm, but not, as it seemed, one whit less interested.
What a strong and manly pair they looked The priest's
eyes lighted with pride as they rested on the stalwart
figures and noble faces. It was hard to believe that these
youths were not quite sixteen, though man's estate was
then accounted reached at an age which we should call
marvellously immature in these more modern days.
My children," said the good old man, speaking slowly
and with no small feeling, I have long looked for this
day to come-the day when ye twain should stand thus
before me and put this self-same question."
You have looked for it !" said Gaston eagerly; then,
in very sooth, there is something to tell ?"
"Yes, my children, there is a long story to tell; and
it seemeth to me, even as it doth to you, that the time
has now come to tell it. This day has marked an era in
your lives. Methinks that from this night your child-
hood will pass for ever away, and the life of your manhood
commence. May the Holy Mother of God, the Blessed
Saints, and our gracious Saviour Himself watch over and
guard you in all the perils and dangers of the life that
lies before you! "
So solemn were the tones of the Father that the boys in-
voluntarily sank upon their knees, making the sign of the
Cross as they did so. The priest breathed a blessing over
the two, and when they had risen to their feet, he made them
sit one on each side of him upon the narrow pallet bed.
"The story is something long-the story which will tell
ye twain who and what ye are, and why ye have been thus
exiled and forced to dwell obscure in this humble home;
but I will tell all I know, and ye will then see something
of the cause.
FA THEIR ANSELM.
"My children, ye know that ye have a noble name-that
ye belong to the house of De Brocas, which was once so
powerful and great in these fair lands around this home
of yours. I wot that ye know already something of the
history of your house: how that it was high in favour
with the great King of England-that first Edward who
so long dwelt amongst us, and made himself beloved by
the people of these lands. It was in part fidelity to him
that was the cause of your kinsfolk's ruin; for whilst they
served him in other lands, following him across the sea when
he was bidden to go thither, the treacherous foe of the house
of Navailles wrested from them, little by little, all the lands
they had owned here, and not even the many mandates
from the Roy Outremer sufficed to gain them their rights
again. It might have been done had the great Edward
lived; but when he died and his son mounted the throne,
men found at once how weak were the hands that held
the sovereign power, and the Sieur de Navailles laughed in
his beard at commands he knew there was no power to
enforce. But listen again, my sons: that feeble King,
despite many and great faults, was not without some
virtues also; and he did not forget that the house of De
Brocas had ruined itself in the cause of himself and his
Did he do aught to show his gratitude ?"
Thou shalt hear, my son. The younger Edward had
not been many years upon his father's throne before a
great battle was fought by him against the Scottish race
his father had vanquished and subdued. These rebel sub-
36 FATHER ANSELM.
jects revolted from under his hand, and he fought with
them a battle on the field of Bannockburn, in which he
was overthrown and defeated, and in which your grand-
sire, Arnald de Brocas, lost his life, fighting gallantly for
"Our grandsire ?" cried both the boys in a breath.
Tell us more of him."
It is little that I know, my children, save what I have
just said. He served the King faithfully in life and death,
and his sons reaped some reward for their father's fidelity.
At first, whilst they were quite young, his three sons (of
whom your father was the third) were sent to dwell with
their mother's relatives-the De Campaines of Agen, of
whom, doubtless, ye have heard; but as they grew to man's
estate, they were recalled to the English Court, and received
offices there, as many another noble Gascon has done before
Have we then uncles in England ?" asked Raymond
eagerly. "Then, if we find but our way across the water,
we may find a home with one of them ? Is it not so, good
The priest did not exclaim at the idea of the boys
journeying forth across the seas alone, but he shook his
head thoughtfully as he continued his narrative as if there
had been no interruption.
"The English King was not unmindful of the service
done him by the father of these youths, and he promoted
them to places of honour about his Court. First, they
were all made serviens of his own royal person, and were
brought up with his son, who is now the King; then, as I
have heard, they greatly endeared themselves to the Prince
by loyalty and faithful service. When he .ascended the
throne, and purged the Court of the false favourites from
this and other lands who had done so much ill to that
country, he was ably helped in the task before him by thy
father and thy two uncles; and I can well believe that
this was so, seeing that they were speedily advanced to
posts of honour in the royal service."
"What posts ? asked the eager youths.
The head of your branch of this noble house," con-
tinued the priest, is your uncle Sir John de Brocas, who is
the King's Master of the Horse, and the lord of many fair
Manors and wide lands in England, and high in favour
with his master. Second in the line is your uncle Master
Bernard de Brocas, a clerk, and the Rector (as it is called
in the realm of England) of St. Nicholas, in or near a town
that is called Guildford-if I can frame my lips aright to
the strange words. He too is high in favour with the
Roy Outremer, and, as I have heard, is oft employed by
him in these parts to quell strife or redress grievances;
but I know not how that may be. It is of thy father
that I would fain speak to thee, Gaston, for thou art heir
to his name and estate if thou canst make good the claim,
as in time thou mayest yet. Listen whilst I tell all that
I know. Thy father-Arnald-was the youngest of the
three sons of him who died on the field of Bannockburn,
and to him was given the post of Master of the Horse to
SPrince John of Eltham. I misdoubt me if that Prince is
living yet; but of that I cannot speak with certainty.
He was also valettus or serviens to the King, and might
have carved out for himself as great a career as they, had
it not been that he estranged himself from his kindred,
and even offended the King himself, by the marriage that
he made with Mistress Alice Sanghurst of Basildene."
The brothers exchanged quick glances as the name
passed the priest's lips. Their memory had not then
played them false.
"But why were they thus offended ? Was not our
mother rightful owner of Basildene ? and is it not a fair
heritage ? "
"The reason for the ill-will, my sons, I know not.
Your mother did not fully understand it, and from her
lips it was I heard all this tale. Perchance some nobler
alliance was wished by the family and by the King himself;
perchance the young man acted something hastily, and gave
umbrage that might have been spared. I know not how
that may have been. All I for certainty know is that
your father, Arnald, brought hither his wife, flying from
some menaced peril, fearful of capture and discovery; and
that here in this lonely mill, amongst those who had ever
loved the name of De Brocas, the sweet lady was able to
hide her head, and to find a place of safe refuge. Jean,
then a youth, had been in the service of Arnald, having
been seized with a love of wandering in his boyhood, which
had led him to cross the sea to England, where he had
fallen in with your father and attached himself to his
person. The elder Jean, his father, was miller then; and
right glad was he to welcome back his son, and give a
shelter to the lady in her hour of need. Good Margot, as
you know, was your nurse when you were born; she had
married Jean a short time back, and her own babe had
died the very week before you came into the world. She
has always loved you as her own, and though your mother
was taken from you, you have never lost a mother's love.
Do not forget that, my children, in the years to come;
and if the time should ever be when you can requite the
faithful attachment of these two honest hearts, be sure
that you let not the chance slip."
We will not," answered the boys in a breath. But the
rest of your story, good Father."
"You shall hear it all, my sons. It was in the year of
grace 1329 that your father first brought his wife here,
and in the following year you twain were born. Your
father stayed till he could fold you in his arms, and bestow
upon you the blessing of a father; but then his duties to
his master called him to England, and for a whole long
year we heard no news of him. At the end of that time
a messenger arrived with despatches for his lady. She
sent to ask my help in reading these; and together we
made out that the letter contained a summons for her to
join her lord in England, where he would meet her at the
port of Southampton, into which harbour many of our
vessels laden with wine put in for safe anchorage. As for
the children, said the letter, she must either bring or leave
them, as seemed best to her at the time; and after long and
earnest debate we resolved that she should go alone, and
that you should be left to good Margot's tender care. I
myself escorted our gentle lady to Bordeaux, and there it
was easy to find safe and commodious transport for her
across the sea. She left us, and we heard no more until
more than a year had passed by, and she returned to us,
sorely broken down in mind and body, to tell a sorrowful
"Sorrowful ? Had our proud uncles refused to receive
her ?" asked Gaston, with flashing eyes. "I trow if that
But the Father silenced him by a gesture.
Wait and let me tell my tale, boy. Thou canst not
judge till thou knowest all. She came back to us, and to
me she told all her tale, piece by piece and bit by bit, not
all at once, but as time and opportunity served. And this
is what I learned. When your father summoned her back
to join him, it was because her one brother was dead-dead
without leaving children behind-and her father, now grow-
ing old, wished to see her once again, and give over to her
before he died the fair domain of Basildene, which she
would now inherit, but to which she had had no title when
she married your father. It seemed like enow to both of
them that if Arnald de Brocas could lead a well-dowered
bride to his brothers' halls, all might be well between them;
and so it came about when the old man died, and the lady
had succeeded to the lands, that he started forth to tell the
news, not taking her, as the weather was inclement, and
she somewhat suffering from the damp and fog which they
say prevail so much in England, but faring forth alone
on his embassy, trusting to come with joy to fetch her
"And did he not ?" asked the boys eagerly.
I will tell you what chanced in his absence. You
must know that your grandsire on your mother's side had
a kinsman, by name Peter Sanghurst, who had long cast
covetous eyes upon Basildene. He was next of kin after
your mother, and he, as a male, claimed to call the property
his. He had failed to make good his claim by law; but
so soon as he knew your mother to be alone in the house,
he came down upon it with armed retainers and drove her
forth ere she well knew what had befallen; and she, not
knowing whither her lord had gone, nor how to find him,
and being in sore danger from the malice of the wicked
man who had wrested from her the inheritance, and would
gladly have done her to death, knew not what better to do
than to fly back here, leaving word for her lord where she
was to be found; and thus it came that ere she had been
gone from us a year, she returned in more desolate plight
than at the first."
Gaston's face was full of fury, and Raymond's hands
were clenched in an access of rage.
"And what did our father then ? Sure he waged war
with the vile usurper, and won back our mother's lands for
her! Sure a De Brocas never rested quiet under so foul
an insult !"
"My sons, your father had been taught patience in a
hard school. He returned to Basildene, not having seen
either of his brothers, who were both absent on the King's
FA THEIR ANSELM.
business, to find his wife fled, and the place in the firm
grasp of the wily man, who well knew how to strengthen
himself in the possession of ill-gotten gains. His first care
was for your mother's safety, and he followed her hither
before doing aught else. When he found her safe with
honest Jean and Margot, and when they had taken counsel
together, he returned to England to see what could be done
to regain the lost inheritance and the favour of his kinsmen
who had been estranged. You were babes of less than
three summers when your father went away, and you never
saw him more."
"He did not come again ? "
"Nay, he came no more, for all too soon a call which no
man may disobey came for him, and he died before the
year was out."
"And had he accomplished naught ?"
"So little that it must needs come to naught upon his
death. He sent a trusty messenger-one of his stout
Gascon henchmen-over to us with all needful tidings.
But there was little of good to tell. He had seen his
brother, Sir John, the head of the family, and had been
received not unkindly by him; but in the matter of the
recovery of Basildene the knight had but shaken his head,
and had said that the King had too many great matters
on hand just then to have leisure to consider so small a
petition as the one concerning a Manor of no repute or
importance. If Arnald had patience to wait, or to interest
Prince John in the matter, something might in time be
done; but Peter Sanghurst would strive to make good his
claim by any means bad or good, and as he held possession
it might be difficult indeed to oust him. The property
belonged to one who had been a cause of much offence, and
perchance that weighed with Sir John and made him less
willing to bestir himself in the matter. But be that as
it may, nothing had been done when Arnald de Brocas
breathed his last; and his wife, when she heard the tale,
looked at you two young children as you lay upon the
grass at play, and she said with a sigh and a smile, 'Father,
I will wait till my boys be grown-for what can one weak
woman do alone ?-and then we will go together to the
land that is mine by birth, and my boys shall win back
for me and for themselves the lost inheritance of Basil-
"And so we will!" cried Gaston, with flashing eyes;
"and so we will! Here as I stand I vow that we will
win it back from the false and coward kinsman who holds
"Ay," answered Raymond, with equal ardour and en-
thusiasm, "that, Brother, will we do; and we will win for
ourselves the name that she herself gave to us-The Twin
Brothers of Basildene."
THE UNKNOWN WORLD.
SO that was the story of their past. That was why
they two, with the blood of the De Brocas running
in their veins, had lived all their past lives in the seclusion
of a humble mill; why they had known nothing of their
kinsfolk, albeit they had always known that they must
have kindred of their own name and race; and why their
mother upon her death-bed had spoken to them not of any
inheritance that they might look to claim from descent
through their father, but of Basildene, which was theirs in
very right, as it had been hers before, till her ambitious
and unscrupulous kinsman had driven her forth.
And now what should they do ? Whither should they
go; and what should be the object of the lives-the new
lives of purpose and resolve which had awakened within
Gaston had given voice to this feeling in vowing them
to the attempt to recover their lost heritage of Basildene,
and Father Anselm did not oppose either that desire or the
ardent wish of the youths to fare forth into the great
THE UNKNOWN WORLD.
My sons," he said a few days later, when he had come
to see if the twins held yet to their first resolve, "you are
something young as yet to sally forth into the unknown
world and carve for yourselves your fortunes there; but
nevertheless I trow the day has come, for this place is no
longer a safe shelter for you. The Sieur de Navailles, as
it is told me, is already searching for you. It cannot be
long before he finds your hiding-place, and then no man
may call your lives safe by night or day. And not only
would ye yourselves be in peril, but peril would threaten
good Jean and Margot; and methinks you would be sorely
loath that harm should come to them through the faithful
kindness they have ever shown to you and yours."
Sooner would we die than that one hair of their head
should be touched !" cried both the boys impetuously; and
Margot lives in fear and trembling ever since we told her
of the words we spoke to yon tyrant and usurper of Saut.
We told her for her comfort that he would think us too
poor and humble and feeble to vent his rage on us; but
she shook her head at that, and feared no creature bearing
the name of De Brocas would be too humble to be a mark
for his spite. And then we told her that we would sally
forth to see the world, as we had ever longed to do; and
though she wept to think that we must go, she did not
bid us stay. She said, as thou hast done, good Father,
that she had known that such day would surely come; and
though it has come something early and something sud-
denly, she holds that we shall be safer facing the perils of
the unknown world, than living here a mark for the spite
THE UNKNOWN WORLD.
and malice of the foe of our house. If no man holds us
back, why go we not forth to-morrow ?"
The priest's face was grave and even sorrowful, but he
made no objection even to so rapid a move.
My sons, if this thing is to be, it is small use to tarry
and linger. I would not that the Sieur de Navailles should
know that you have hidden your heads here so long; and
a secret, however faithfully kept, that belongs to many,
may not be a secret always. It is right that you should
go, and with the inclement winter season hard upon us,
with its dangers from heavy snows, tempests at sea, and
those raids from wolves that make the peril of travellers
when the cold once sets in, it behoves you, if go ye must,
to go right speedily. And in the belief that I should find
your minds made up and your preparations well-nigh com-
plete, I have brought to you the casket given into my
charge by your mother on her dying bed. Methinks that
you will find therein gold enough to carry you safe to
England, and such papers as shall suffice to prove to your
proud kinsmen at the King's Court that ye are in very
truth the sons of their brother, and that it is of just and
lawful right that you make your claim to Basildene."
The brothers looked eagerly at the handsome case,
wrought and inlaid with gold, in which certain precious
parchments had lain ever since they had been carried in
haste from England. The boys looked at these with a
species of awe, for they had but very scant knowledge of
letters, and such as they had acquired from the good
Father was not enough to enable them to master the con-
THE UNKNO WN WORLD.
tents of the papers. Learning was almost entirely confined
to the ecclesiastics in those days, and many were the men
of birth and rank who could scarce read or write their
But the devices upon the parchments told a tale more
easily understood. There was the golden lion rampant
upon the black ground-the arms of the De Brocas family,
as the Father told them; whilst the papers that referred
to Basildene were adorned with a shield bearing a silver
stag upon an azure ground. They would have no difficulty
in knowing the deeds apart; and good Margot sewed them
first into a bag of untanned leather, and then stitched them
safely within the breast of Gaston's leather jerkin. The
golden pieces, and a few rings and trinkets that were all
that remained to the boys of their lost inheritance, were
sewn in like manner into Raymond's clothing, and there
was little more to be done ere the brothers went forth into
the unknown world.
As for their worldly possessions, they were soon num-
bered, and comprised little more than their clothing, their
bows and arrows, and the poniards which hung at their
girdles. As they were to proceed on foot to Bordeaux, and
would probably journey in the same simple fashion when
they reached the shores of England, they had no wish to
hamper themselves with any needless encumbrances, and
all that they took with them was a single change of under-
vest and hose, which they were easily able to carry in a
wallet at their back. They sallied forth in the dress they
commonly wore all through the inclement winter season-
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an under-dress of warm blue homespun, with a strong jerkin
of leather, soft and well-dressed, which was as long as a
short tunic, and was secured by the girdle below the waist
which was worn by almost all ranks of the people in that
age. The long hose were likewise guarded by a species of
gaiter of the same strong stuff. And a peasant clad in his
own leather garments was often a match for a mailed
warrior, the tough substance turning aside sword-point or
arrow almost as effectually as a coat of steel, whilst the
freedom and quickness of motion allowed by the simpler
dress was an immense advantage to the wearer in attack
The good Father looked with tender glances at the brave
bright boys as they stood forth on the morning of their
departure, ready to sally out into the wide world with the
first glimpse of dawn. He had spent the previous night at
the mill, and many words of fatherly counsel and good advice
had he bestowed upon the lads, now about to be subjected
to temptations and perils far different from any they had
known in their past life. And his words had been listened
to with reverent heed, for the boys loved him dearly, and
had been trained by him in habits of religious exercise,
more common in those days than they became, alas in later
times. They had with them an English breviary which
had been one of their mother's most valued possessions,
and they promised the Father to study it with reverent
heed; for they were very familiar with the petitions, and
could follow them without difficulty despite their rudi-
mentary education. So that when they knelt before him
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for his last blessing, he was able to give it with a heart
full of hope and tender confidence; and he felt sure that
whether the lads went forth for weal or woe, he should (if
they and he both lived through the following years) see
their faces again in this self-same spot. They would not
forget old friends-they would seek them out in years to
come; and if fate smiled upon their path, others would
share in the sunshine of their good fortune.
And so the boys rose to their feet again to meet a proud,
glad smile from the eyes of the kind old man; and though
Margot's face was buried in her apron, and honest Jean
was not ashamed to let the tears run down his weather-
beaten face, there was no attempt made to hinder or to
sadden the eager lads. They kissed their good nurse with
many protestations of love and gratitude, telling her of
the days to come when they would return as belted knights,
riding on fine horses, and with their esquires by their side,
and how they would tell the story of how they had been
born and bred in this very mill, and of all they owed to
those who had sheltered them in their helpless infancy.
The farewells once over, with the inevitable sadness that
such scenes must entail, the boys' spirits rose with wonder-
ful celerity. True, they looked back with fond glances at
the peaceful homestead where their childhood had been
passed, as they reached the ridge of the undulating plain
from which the last glimpse of the red roofs and tumbling
water was to be had. Raymond even felt a mist rise
before his eyes as he stood and gazed, and Gaston dashed
his hand impatiently across his eyes as though something
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hindered his vision; but his voice was steady and full of
courage as he waved his right arm and cried aloud,-
"We will come back! we will see this place again!
Ah, Raymond, methinks I shall love it better then than I
do to-day; for though it has been a timely place of shelter,
it has not been-it never could be-our true home. Our
home is Basildene, in the fair realm of England's King. I
will rest neither day nor night until I have looked upon
the home our mother dwelt in, and have won the right to
call that home our own."
Then the brothers strode with light springy steps along
the road which would in time lead them to the great sea-
port city of Bordeaux, towards which all the largest roads
of the whole province converged.
The royal city of the Garonne was full forty leagues
away-over a hundred British miles-and the boys had
never visited it yet, albeit their dream had long been to
travel thither on their feet, and see the wonders of which
travellers spoke. A day's march of ten leagues or more
was as nothing to them. Had the days been longer they
would have done more, but travelling in the dark through
these forest-clad countries was by no means safe, and the
Father had bid them promise that they would always
strive to seek shelter ere the shades of night fell; for
great packs of wolves ravaged the forests of Gascony until
a much later date, and though the season of their greatest
boldness and fierceness had not yet come, they were cus-
tomers not to be trifled with at any time, and a hunting-
knife and a cross-bow would go but a small way in defence
THE UNKNO WN WORLD.
if a resolute attack were to be made by even half-a-dozen
of the fierce beasts.
But the brothers thought not of peril as they strode
through the clear crisp air, directing their course more by
the sun than by any other guide, as they pursued their
way engrossed in eager talk. They were passing through
the great grazing pastures, the Landes of Gascony, which
supplied England with so many of her best horses, and
walking was easy and they covered the ground fast. Later
on would come dark stretches of lonely forest, but here
were smiling pasture and bright sunshine; and the brothers
talked together of the golden future before them, of their
proud kinsman at the King's Court, of the Roy Outremer
himself, and of Basildene and that other treacherous kins-
man there. As they travelled they debated within thein-
selves whether it were better to seek first the countenance
of their uncles on their father's side, or whether to make
their way first to Basildene and see what manner of
place it was, and what likelihood there seemed of ousting
How to decide this point themselves the brothers did
not know; but as it chanced, fortune was to decide it
for them in her own fashion, and that before many suns
Two days of travel had passed. The brothers had long
left behind them every trace of what had been familiar to
them in the old life. The evening of the third day was
stealing fast upon them, and they were yet, as it seemed,
in the heart of the vast forest which they had entered
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soon after noon, and which they had hoped to pass com-
pletely through before the daylight waned. They had
been told that they might look, if they pushed on fast, to
reach the town of Castres by nightfall; but the paths
through the' forest were intricate: they had. several times
felt uncertain as to whether they were going right. Now
that the darkness was coming on so fast they were still
more uncertain, and more than once they had heard behind
and before them the unmistakable howl of the wolf.
The hardy twins would have thought nothing of sleeping
in the open air even at this somewhat inclement season; but
the proximity of the wolves was unpleasant. For two days
the cold had been sharp, and though it was not probable
that it had yet seriously interfered with the supplies of
the wild beasts, yet it was plain that they had emerged
from their summer retreats in the more remote parts of
the forest, and were disposed to venture nearer to the
habitable world on the outskirts. If the brothers slept
out of doors at all, it would have to be in the fork of some
tree, and in that elevated position they would be likely to
feel the cold rather keenly, though down below in some
hollow trunk they could make themselves a warm nest
enough. Mindful of their promise to the priest, they re-
solved to try yet to reach some hut or place of shelter,
however rude, before the night absolutely closed in, and
marched quickly forward with the practised tread of those
born to forest life.
Suddenly Gaston, who was a couple of paces in the
front, paused and laid a hand upon his brother's arm.
THE UNKNO WN WORLD.
Hist !" he said below his breath. "Methought I heard
Raymond stopped short and listened too. Yes; there
was certainly some tumult going on a little distance ahead
of them. The brothers distinguished the sound of human
voices raised in shrill piercing cries, and with that sound
was mingled the fierce baying note that they had heard
too often in their lives to mistake at any time.
"It is some traveller attacked by wolves!" cried the
brothers in a breath, and without a single thought of their
own peril the gallant boys tore headlong through the dark
wood to the spot whence the tumult proceeded. Guided
by the sound of shouts, cries, and the howling of the beasts,
the brothers were not long in nearing the scene of the
Shout aloud!" cried Gaston to his brother as they ran.
" Make the cowardly brutes believe that a company is ad-
vancing against them. It is the best, the only chance.
They will turn and fly if they think there be many against
Raymond was not slow to act upon this hint. The
next moment the wood rang again to the shouts and calls
of the brothers, voice answering to voice till it seemed as
though a score of men were approaching. The brothers,
moreover, knew and used the sharp fierce call employed
by the hunters of the wolves in summoning their dogs to
their aid-a call that they knew would be heard and
heeded by the savage brutes, who would well know what
it meant. And in effect the artifice was perfectly suc-
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cessful; for ere they had gained the spot upon which the
struggle had taken place, they heard the breaking up of
the wolf party, as the frightened beasts dashed headlong
through the coverts, whilst their howling and barking died
away in the distance, and a great silence succeeded.
Thank Heaven for a timely rescue they heard a voice
say in the English tongue; "for by my troth, good Malcolm,
I had thought that thou and I would not live to tell this
tale to others. But where are our good friends and res-
cuers ? Verily, I have seen nothing, yet there must have
been a good dozen or more. Light thy lantern, an thou
canst, and let us look well round us, for by the mass I
shall soon think we have been helped by the spirits of the
Nay, fair sir, but only by two travellers," said Gaston,
advancing from the shadow of the giant trees, his brother
closely following him. "We are ourselves benighted in
this forest, having by some mischance lost our road to
Castres, which we hoped to have sighted ere now. Hear-
ing the struggle, and the shouts with which you doubtless
tried to scare off the brutes, we came to see if we might
not aid, and being well acquainted with the calls of the
hunters of the wolves, succeeded beyond our hopes. I trust
the cowardly and treacherous beasts have done you no
By my troth, it is strange to hear my native tongue in
these parts, and so fairly spoken withal. I trust we are
not bewitched, or the sport of spirits. Who art thou, brave
boy ? and whence comest thou ? How comes it that thou,
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being, as it seems, a native of these parts, speakest so well
a strange language ?"
It was our mother's tongue," answered Gaston, speak-
ing nevertheless guardedly, for he had been warned by the
Father not to be too ready to tell his name and parentage
to all the world. "We are bound for Bordeaux, and
thence to England, to seek our mother's kindred, as she
bid us ere she died."
If that be so, then let us join forces and travel on
together," said he whom they had thus succoured, a man
well mounted on a fine horse, and with a mounted servant
beside him, so that the brothers took him for a person of
quality, which indeed he was, as they were soon to learn.
"There is safety in numbers, and especially so in these in-
hospitable forest tracks, where so many perils beset the
traveller. I have lost my other stout fellows in the wind-
ings of the wood, and it were safer to travel four than
two. Riding is slow work in this gloom. I trow ye will
have no trouble in keeping pace with our good chargers."
The hardy Gascon boys certainly found no difficulty
about that. Gaston walked beside the bridle-rein of the
master, whilst Raymond chatted amicably to the man,
whose broad Scotch accent puzzled him a little, and led in
time to stories of Border warfare, and to the tale of Ban-
nockburn, told from a Scotchman's point of view; to all of
which the boy listened with eager interest. As for Gaston,
he was hearing of the King's Court, the gay tourneys, the
gallant feats of arms at home and abroad which character-
ized the reign of the Third Edward. The lad drank in
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every item of intelligence, asking such pertinent questions,
and appearing so well informed upon many points, that his
interlocutor was increasingly surprised, and at last asked
him roundly of his name and kindred.
Now the priest had warned the boys at starting not to
speak with too much freedom to strangers of their private
affairs, and had counselled them very decidedly not to lay
claim at starting to the name of De Brocas, and thus draw
attention to themselves at the outset. There was great
laxity in the matter of names in ages when penmanship
was a recondite art, and even in the documents of the
period a name so well known as that of De Brocas was
written Broc and Brook, Brocaz and Brocazt, and half-
a-dozen more ways as well. Wherefore it mattered the
less what the lads called themselves, and they had agreed
that Broc, without the De before it, would be the best and
safest patronymic for them in the present.
"We are twin brothers, may it please you, fair sir;
English on our mother's side, though our father was a
Gascon. Our father was much in England likewise, and,
as we hear, held some office about the Court, though of its
exact nature we know not. Both our parents died many
long years since; but we have never ceased to speak the
tongue of England, and to dream of one day going thither.
Our names are Gaston and Raymond Broc, and we are
going forth at last in search of the adventures which men
say in these warlike days may be found by young and old,
by rich and poor. Our faces are set towards England.
What may befall us there kind Fortune only knows."
THE UNKNOWN WORLD.
Something in the frank and noble bearing of the lad
seemed to please the knightly stranger. He laid a friendly
hand on Gaston's shoulder as the youth paced with springy
strides beside him.
"I trow thou art a mettlesome knave, and I owe thee
and thy brother something more than fair words for the
service ye have rendered me this night. I have lost three
or four of my followers by disease and accident since I left
the shores of England. Boy, what sayest thou to taking
service with me for a while-thou and thy brother like-
wise-and journeying to fair England as two of my young
esquires ? I like you well, and in these days it is no small
thing to rank in one's train those to whom the language of
Gascony is familiar. I trow ye be able to speak the French
tongue likewise, since ye be so ready with our foreign
"Ay, we can both speak and understand it," answered
Gaston, whose cheeks had crimsoned with eager delight;
" but we speak English better. Good Sir, we could desire
nothing better than to follow you to the world's end; but
we have not been trained to the use of arms, nor to
knightly exercises. I know not if we could make shift to
please you, be our service never so faithful."
"In such a case as that, sure I should be a hard master
to please," returned the other, and Gaston knew from his
voice that he was smiling. "But we need not settle it all
out here in this dark wood. You must wait awhile to see
what manner of man it is you speak of serving. And you
may at least be my companions of voyage across the sea,
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though once on English shores you shall please yourselves
whether or not you serve me farther. As for my name, it
is James Audley, and I am one of the King's knights. I
am now bound for Windsor-thou hast doubtless heard of
Windsor, the mighty fortress where the King holds his
Court many a time and oft. Well, it hath pleased his
Majesty of late to strive to bring back those days of
chivalry of which our bards sing and of which we hear
from ancient legend-days that seem to be fast slipping
away, and which it grieves our most excellent King to see
die out in his time. Hast heard, boy, of the great King
Arthur of whom men wrote and sung in days gone by ?
Has his fame reached as far as thy Gascon home ?"
Yea, verily," answered Gaston eagerly. Our mother
in long-past days would speak to us of that great King,
and of his knights, and of the Round Table at which they
sat together, their King in their midst-"
"Ay, truly thou knowest well the tale, and it is of this
same Round Table I would speak. The King has thought
good to hold such a Round Table himself, and has sent
forth messages to numbers of his knights to hold themselves
in readiness to attend it early in the year which will soon
be upon us. Men say that he is building a wondrous
round tower at his fortress of Windsor, wherein his Round
Table will be placed and the feast celebrated. I know not
with what truth they rumour this, but it is like enough,
for his Majesty hath the love of his people and a kingly
mind; and what he purposes he makes shift to carry out,
and that right speedily. But be that as it may, there is
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no mistaking his royal summons to his Round Table, and I
am hastening back across the water to be at Windsor on
the appointed day; and if it will pleasure you twain to
journey thither with me, I trow you will see things the
like of which you have never dreamed before; and sure a
better fashion of entering life could .'scarce be found than
to follow one of the King's knights to one of the fairest
assemblies of chivalry that the world has ever looked
And indeed Gaston thought so too. His breath was
taken away by the prospect. He was dazzled by the very
thought of such a thing, and his words of eager thanks
were spoken with the falterings of strong emotion. The
road had widened out here, and the travellers had got
free of the forest. Lights sparkled pleasantly in front
of them, and Raymond had come up in time to hear the
offer just made. The eager delight of the two lads
seemed to please the brave Sir James, who was not much
more than a youth himself, as we should reckon things
now, though four-and-twenty appeared a more advanced
As the travellers at last found themselves within the
precincts of a fairly comfortable hostelry, and the horsemen
dismounted at the door and entered the inn, Sir James
pushed the two lads into the lighted roon before him, and
looked them well over with a pair of searching but kindly
blue eyes. He was himself a fine man, of noble stature
and princely bearing. His face was pleasant, though it
could be stern too on occasion, and the features were
60 THE UNKNO WN WORLD.
regular and good. The boys had never seen such a kingly-
looking man, and their hearts went out to him at once.
As for him,-he looked from one bright face to the other,
and nodded his head with a smile.
Methinks you will make a pair of gallant squires," he
said. "So long as it' pleases you to remain in my service,
you may call yourselves my men, and receive from my
hands what my other servants do."
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
WHAT a wonderful experience it was for the twin
brothers to find themselves for the first time in
their lives upon the great ocean of which they had so
many times heard! As the little vessel, with her cargo
of wine, plunged merrily through the white-crested waves.
bearing her freight northward through the stormy Bay of
Biscay to the white shores of Albion, the brothers loved to
stand in the pointed prow of the brave little craft, feeling the
salt spray dashing in their faces, and listening to the swirl
of water round the ship's sides as she raced merrily on her
way. Now indeed were they well embarked upon a career
of adventure and glory. Were they not habited like the
servants of an English knight-their swords by their
sides (if need be), their master's badge upon their sleeves?
Were they not bound for the great King's Court-for the
assembly of the Round Table, of which, as it seemed, all
men were now talking? Would they not see their own
kinsmen, feel their way perhaps to future friendship with
those who bore their own name ? For the present they
were dubbed Brook by the English servants with whom
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
they associated, though more frequently they went by their
Christian names alone. It was the fashion in these times
to think well of the Gascon race. The King set the ex-
ample, knowing how useful such men were like to be to
him in days to come; and these lads, who spoke English
almost as their mother-tongue, and were so full of spirit,
grace, and vivacity, rapidly rose in favour both with Sir
James himself and with his retinue. No auspices could
well have been more favourable for the lads upon their
first entrance into the great world, and they only wished
that Father Anselm could hear of their good fortune.
They had settled now to let the visit to Basildene stand
over for a time. They had but the vaguest idea where to
seek their mother's home. The priest could not help them
to any information on this point, and the way to Windsor
was open. Their kinsfolk there could possibly give them
news of Basildene, even did they decide to keep their own
true name a secret for a time. There could be no doubt
as to the wisdom of learning something of their mother's
country and the ways of its sons before they launched
themselves upon a difficult and possibly dangerous quest.
With what strange feelings did the brothers first set
eyes upon the shores of England, as the little sloop slid
merrily into the smoother Solent, after a rough but not
unpleasant passage! How they gazed about them as they
neared the quays of Southampton, and wondered at the
contrast presented by this sea-port with the stately and
beautiful city of Bordeaux, which they had seen a fort-
night back Certainly this English port could not compare
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
with her a single moment, yet the boys' hearts bounded
with joyful exhilaration as they first set foot on English
soil. Was not the first step of their wild dream safely and
prosperously accomplished ? Might they not augur from
this a happy and prosperous career till their aim and object
was accomplished ?
Their master had some business to transact in and about
Southampton which detained him there many days; but
the Gaston lads found no fault with this arrangement, for
everything they saw was new and full of interest; they
were well lodged and well fed without cost to themselves,
and had full license to go where they would and do what they
would, as their master had no present use for their services.
Gaston and Raymond had no desire to idle away their
time without profit to themselves, and after taking counsel
with honest Malcolm, who had a great liking for the boys,
they put themselves under the instruction of a capable
swordsman, who undertook to teach them the art of using
those weapons with skill and grace. As their natural
quickness of eye and strength of hand made them quickly
proficient in this exercise, they became anxious to try their
skill at the more difficult sport of tilting, then so much in
vogue with both knights and gentlemen-a sport which
the King greatly encouraged as likely to be excellent
training for those charges of his picked horsemen which
so often turned the fortunes of the day in his favour in
the sterner game of war.
Both the Gascon youths were good horsemen; not that
they had ever owned a horse themselves, or had ridden
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
upon a saddle after the fashion of knights and their es-
quires, but they had lived amongst the droves of horses
that were bred upon the wide pasture lands of their own
country, and from childhood it had been their favourite
pastime to get upon the back of one of these beautiful,
unbroken creatures, and go careering wildly over the sweep-
ing plain. That kind of rough riding was as good a train-
ing as they could have had, and when once they had grown
used to the feel of a saddle between their knees, and had
learned the right use of rein and spur, they became almost
at once excellent and fearless riders, and enjoyed shivering
a lance or carrying off a ring or a handkerchief from a
pole as well as any of their comrades. So that the month
they passed in the sea-port town was by no means wasted
on them, and when they took to horse once again to
accompany Sir James on his way to Windsor, they felt
that they had made great strides, and were very different
from the country-bred Gascon youths of two months back.
There was one more halt made in London, that wonder-
ful city of which time fails us to speak here; and in that
place a new surprise awaited the young esquires, for they
and their comrades who wore Sir James Audley's livery
were all newly equipped in two new suits of clothes, and
these of such a sumptuous description as set the boys
agape with wonder.
Truly as we read of the bravery in which knights and
dames and their servants of old days were attired, one
marvels where the money came from to clothe them all.
It could have been no light thing to be a great man
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
in such times, and small wonder was it that those who
lived in and about the Court, whose duty it was to make
a brave show in the eyes of royalty, were so often rewarded
for trifling services by the gifts of Manors, benefices, or
wardships; for the cost of keeping up such state as was
required was great indeed, and could not have been done
without some adequate compensation.
Sir James had always been a favourite with the King,
as he was with the Prince of Wales-the Black Prince of
the days to come. He had at various times received marks
of the royal favour by substantial grants, and was resolved
to appear at this festival of the Round Table in such guise
as should be fitting to his rank and revenues.
Thus it came about that the Gascon youths found them-
selves furnished with tunics of blue and silver, richly em-
broidered with their master's cognizances, and trimmed
with costly fur, with long mantles of blue cloth fastened
with golden clasps, with rich girdles, furnished with gip-
ciere and anelace, and hose and long embroidered shoes,
such as they began to see were the fashion of the day in
England. Their stout nags, which had carried them
bravely thus far, were now exchanged for handsome ani-
mals of a better breed, horses trained to knightly exercises,
and capable of carrying their masters bravely through any
game of battle or tourney such as the King loved to organize
when he had his knights round him. It was often that
the esquires as well as the knights competed in these con-
tests of skill and strength, or followed their masters into
some great me^lde, and it was a point of honour with the
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
latter that their followers should be well and suitably
equipped for the sport.
"By my faith, but I wish good Margot and the holy
Father could see us now," quoth Gaston, laughing, as Sir
James and his followers sallied forth one bright December
morning to take their last stage on the journey to Windsor.
They had traversed the' main distance the day previously,
for Sir James had no wish to arrive weary and travel-
stained at the King's Court. Orders had been given for
every man to don his best riding-dress and look well to
the trappings of his steed, and it was a gallant-looking
company indeed that sallied out from the door of the way-
side hostelry and took the road towards the great Castle,
glimpses of which began from time to time to be visible
through the trees. "I trow they would scarce know us!
There be moments, Raymond, when I scarce know myself
for the same. It seems as though years had passed since
we left the old home, and by the Mass I feel as though I
were a new being since then !"
"Yea, verily, and I also," answered Raymond, looking
round him with eager eyes. Gaston, look well about
thee; for by what Malcolm says, these very woods through
which we shall pass, and the Manor of old Windsor hard
by, are the property of our uncle Sir John de Brocas, the
King's Master of the Horse; and by what I hear, methinks
we shall see him in the flesh ere the day has passed."
"Ha !" exclaimed Gaston, with interest; "if that be so
let us heed him well, for much of our future may hang on
him. He is in the King's favour, they say, and if he did
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
but plead our cause with the Roy Outremer, we might
well look to call Basildene our home ere long."
"We must call him no longer the Roy Outremer," said
Raymond, with a smile. "If we are to be the brothers of
Basildene, we must be English subjects and he our liege
"True," answered Gaston readily; "and methinks, if he
be what all men say, it will be no hardship to own our-
selves his subjects. I would ten thousand times sooner
call myself so than be servant to yon weak and treach-
erous King of France."
At that moment an interruption occurred to delay the
little cavalcade for a few moments. The road they were
traversing led them past a solid gateway, which showed
that upon one side at least the property was that.of a
private individual; and just as they were approaching this
gateway the portal swung open, and out of it rode a fine-
looking man of middle age and imposing aspect, followed
by three youths richly attired, and by some dozen mounted
attendants. The leader of the party wore a dress that
was evidently the livery of some office-a tunic of blue
and a cape of white Brussels cloth. His cap was of white
and blue, and the King's badge of a silver swan was
fastened in the front. As he rode out, the esquires round
Gaston and Raymond drew rein and whispered one to
"It is the King's Master of the Horse!"
Eagerly and curiously the two lads gazed at the face and
figure of the kinsman now before them, whilst Sir James
68 THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
spurred his horse forward, a smile lighting up the grave
face of the King's servant.
"Marry well met, good Sir James!" was the hearty
greeting of the latter, as the two men grasped hands. "I
warrant you will be welcome at the Castle, whither, I doubt
not, your steps are bent. It was but two days since that
his Majesty was asking news of you, no man knowing
rightly whither you had gone, nor upon what errand.
There be fine musterings already at the Court, and every
day brings some fresh faces to the gathering assembly.
I trow that such a sight as will shortly be witnessed within
those walls has scarce been seen by England before."
"Nay, nor since the days of good King Arthur, if all be
true that I have heard," answered Sir James. Be these
gallant youths your sons, Sir John ? Verily time flies !
I have not been in these parts for full three years. I scarce
know them once again."
"Yes, these be my three sons," answered the father, with
a proud glance at the handsome youths, who came up at a
sign from him to be presented to the knight. It may well
be many long years since you saw them, for they have
often been away from my side, travelling in foreign parts
with my good brother, and learning the lessons of life as I
have been able to see occasion. This is John, my first-born.
Oliver and Bernard follow after him. I trust in years to
come they will live to win their spurs in the King's service.
They are often about the Court, and the Prince has chosen
them amongst his serviens. But they have not yet seen
war, albeit I trow they will not be missing when the day
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
for fighting shall come, which I verily believe will not be
The youths made their salute to the knight, and then
dropped behind. Sir James rode in advance, still in
earnest converse with the Master of the Horse; whilst the
attendants of the two bands, some of whom were acquainted,
mixed together indiscriminately, and rode after their masters
in amicable converse.
Sir John's three sons rode a few paces behind the knights,
and as it chanced the Gascon brothers were the next behind
them, studying these cousins of theirs with natural interest
and curiosity. They had heard their names distinctly as
their father had presented them to his friend, and gladly
would they have fallen into converse with them had they
felt certain that the advance would be taken in good part.
As it was, they were rather fearful of committing breaches
of good manners, and restrained themselves, though their
quick, eager glances towards each other betrayed what they
All of a sudden something unseen by the rider caused
Gaston's horse to take fright. It was a very spirited and
rather troublesome animal, which had been passed on by
two or three riders as too restive for them, and had been
ridden more successfully by Gaston than by any of its
former masters. But the creature wanted close watching,
and Gaston had been for a time off his guard. The know-
ing animal had doubtless discovered this, and had hoped to
take advantage of this carelessness to get rid of his rider
and gain the freedom of the forest himself. With a sudden
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
plunge and bound, which almost unseated Gaston, the horse
made a dash for the woodland aisles; and when he felt that
his rider had regained his seat and was reining him in
with a firm and steady hand, the fiery animal reared almost
erect upon his hind legs, wildly pawing the air, and utter-
ing fierce snorts of anger and defiance. But Gaston's
blood was up now, and he was not going to be mastered
by his steed, least of all in presence of so many witnesses.
Shouting to Raymond, who had dismounted and appeared
about to spring at the horse's head, to keep away, he
brought the angry creature down by throwing himself
upon his neck; and though there were still much plunging
and fierce kicking and struggling to be encountered before
the day was won, Gaston showed himself fully equal to
the demands made upon his horsemanship; and before
many moments had passed, had the satisfaction of riding
the horse quietly back to the little cavalcade, which had
halted to witness the struggle.
"That was good riding, and a fine animal," remarked
the Master of the Horse, whose eyes were well trained to
note the points of any steed. I trow that lad will make
a soldier yet. Who is he, good Sir James ?"
"One Gaston Brook, a lad born and brought up in
Gascony, together with his twin brother who rides by his
side. They came to my help in the forest round Castres;
and as I was in need of service, and they were faring forth
to seek their fortunes, I bid them, an it pleased them,
follow me. One parent was a native of Gascony, their
mother I trow, since their name is English. I did hear
THE MASTERi OF THE HORSE.
somewhat of their simple tale, but it has fled my memory
"They are proper youths," said Sir John, not without a
passing gleam of interest in any persons who hailed from
his own country. Half Gascon and half English makes a
fine breed. The lads may live to do good service yet."
Meantime the three sons of Sir John had entered into
conversation with the two youthful esquires, and were
making friends as fast as circumstances would allow.
They were some years older than the Gascon brothers-that
is to say that John was close upon twenty, and Oliver and
Bernard followed, each a year younger than his predecessor.
They had seen far more of the world than these country-
bred lads, and had been reared more or less in the atmos-
phere of the Court; still they were bright, high-spirited,
and unaffected youths, who were ready enough to make
advances to any comrades of their own standing across
whose path they might be thrown. Gaston and Raymond
had about them an air of breeding which won them notice
wherever they went. Their speech was refined for the
times, and their handsome figures and faces gained them
speedy and favourable attention. Very soon the five
youths were chatting and laughing together as though
they were old friends. The sons of Sir John heard all
about the encounter in the forest, and how the wolves
had been scared away; whilst the Gascon brothers, on their
side, heard about the vast round tower built by the King
for his Round Table to assemble at, and how busily every-
body had been employed in hastening on the work and
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
getting everything in readiness for the great festival that
was at hand.
Shall we see the feast ?" asked Gaston eagerly. Men
say it will be a sight not to be forgotten."
"We shall see it like enough," answered John, "but
only belted knights will sit at the board. Why, even the
Prince of Wales himself will not sit down at the table,
but will only stand to serve his father; for his spurs are
not yet won, though he says he will not be long in winning
them if kind fortune will but give him the chance he
craves. A great assembly of esquires will be in attendance
on their masters, and I trow ye twain might well be
amongst these, as we hope ourselves to be. Your master
is one of the bidden knights, and will sit not very far
from the King himself. If you can make shift to steal in
through the press and stand behind his chair, I doubt not
but what ye will see all right well; and perchance the
King himself may take note of you. He has a marvellous
quick eye, and so has the Prince; and he is ever on the
watch for knightly youths to serve him as valettus-as
We are going to win our spurs together," cried Bernard,
who in some ways was the leading spirit amongst the
brothers, as he was afterwards the most noted man of his
house. "We have talked of it a thousand times, and the
day will come ere long. The King has promised that when
next he is called forth to fight the recreant King of France,
he will take the Prince with him, and he has promised
that we shall go with him. The day will come when he
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
will lay claim once more to that crown of France which
by rights is his to wear, and we shall all sally forth to
drive the coward Louis from the throne, and place the
crown on Edward's royal brow."
Bernard's eyes flashed fire at the bare thought of the
unchecked career of victory he saw for England's arms when
once she had set foot on the long-talked-of expedition
which was to make Edward king over the realm of France.
And we will fight for him too!" cried Gaston and
Raymond in a breath; "and so, I trow, will all Gascony.
We love the English rule there. We love the Roy
Outremer, as he is called there. If he would but come to
our land, instead of to treacherous Flanders or feeble, storm-
torn Brittany, for his soldiers and for his starting-place, I
trow his arms would meet with naught but victory. The
Sieur d'Albret, men whisper, has been to the Court, and
has looked with loving eyes upon one of the King's
daughters for his son. That hope would make him
faithful to the English cause, and he is the greatest Lord
in Gascony, where all men fear his name."
"Thou shalt tell all that to the King or to the Prince,"
said John in a low tone to Raymond, as they fell a little
behind, for the road grew rough and narrow. "I trow he
will be glad to learn all he may from those who know
what the people of the land speak and think-the humbler
folks, of whom men are growing now to take more account,
at least here in England, since it is they, men now say,
who must be asked ere even the King himself may dare to
go to war. For money must be found through them, and
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
they will not always grant it unless they be pleased with
what has already been done. The great nobles say hard
things of them they call the 'Commons;' they say that
England's doom will surely come if she is to be answerable
to churls and merchant folk for what her King and barons
choose to do. But for my part it seems but just that
those who pay the heavy burden of these long wars should
know somewhat about them, and should even have the
power to check them did they think the country oppressed
beyond what she could bear. A bad king might not care
for the sufferings of his people. A weak king might be
but the tool of his barons-as we have heard the King's
father was-and hear nothing but what they chose for
him to know. For my own part, I think it right and just
enough that the people should have their voice in these
things. They always grant the King a liberal supply;
and if they demand from him the redress of grievances
and the granting of certain privileges in return, I can see
in that naught that is unfair; nor would England be
happier and more prosperous, methinks, were she governed
by a tyrant who might grind her down to the dust."
John de Brocas was a very thoughtful youth, very
different in appearance from his younger brothers, who
were fine stalwart young men,-well versed in every kind
of knightly exercise, and delighting in nothing so much as
the display of their energies and skill. John was cast in
quite a different mould, and possibly it was something of a
disappointment to the father that his first-born should be
so unlike himself and his other sons. John had had weak
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
health from his cradle, which might account in part for
his studious turn of mind; and the influence of his uncle's
training may have had still greater effect. As the damp
air of Windsor did not appear to agree with the boy, he
had been sent, when seven years old, to his uncle's Rectory
of St. Nicholas, and brought up in the more healthy and
bracing air of Guildford. Master Bernard de Brocas,
though by no means a man of exclusively scholarly tastes,
was for the days he lived in a learned man, and feeling
sure that his eldest nephew would never make a soldier,
he tried to train him for a statesman and for an ecclesiastic
-the two offices being in those days frequently combined.
The great statesmen were nearly always men in the
Church's employ, and the scholarship and learning of the
age were almost entirely in their keeping.
John showed no disposition to enter the Church-probably
the hope of winning his spurs was not yet dead within him;
but he took very kindly to book-lore, and had often shown
a shrewdness and aptness in diplomatic negotiation which
had made Master Bernard prophesy great things for him.
Raymond had never heard such matters discussed before,
and knew little enough about the art of government. He
looked with respect at his companion, and John, catching
the glance, smiled pleasantly in reply.
I trow thou wouldest sooner be with the rest, hearing
of the King's Round Table and the knightly jousts to
follow. Let me not weary thee with my graver words.
Go join the others an thou wilt."
Nay, I will stay with thee," answered Raymond, who
76 THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
was greatly attracted by John's pale and thoughtful face,
and could not but pity him for his manifest lack of
strength and muscle. The youth was tall and rode well,
but he was slight to the verge of attenuation, and the
hollow cheek and unnaturally bright eyes sunk in deep
caverns told a tale that was not hard to read. Young De
Brocas might make a student, a clerk, a man of letters,
but he would never be a soldier; and that in itself appeared
to Raymond the greatest deprivation that could befall a
man. But he liked his companion none the less for this
sense of pity "I would fain hear more of England-
England's laws, England's ways. I have heard that in
this land men may obtain justice better than in any other.
I have heard that.justice is here administered to poor as
well as rich. I would learn more of this. I would learn
more of you. Tell me first of yourself. I know well the
name of De Brocas. We come from the very place where
once you held sway. The village (as you would call it)
of Brocas was not so very far away. Tell me of yourself,
your father, your uncle. I know all their names right
well. I would hear all that you can tell."
John's face lighted with interest. He was willing
enough to tell of himself, his two brothers, two sisters, and
their many homes in and about the Castle of Windsor.
Besides his post as Master of the Horse, John explained to
Raymond, his father held the office of Chief Forester of
Windsor Forest (equivalent to the modern Ranger), and
besides the Manor of Old Windsor, possessed property and
Manors at Old and New Bray, Didworth and Clewer. He
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
was high in the King's favour and confidence, and, as may
well be believed, led a busy and responsible life. Upon him
devolved the care of all those famous studs of horses on
which the King relied when he sent his armies into the
field; and if his expenditure in these matters has been
condemned in more recent days, the best answer will be
found in the disasters and the ruinous expenditure of the
later campaigns of the reign, when the King, thinking that
he had reduced his French possessions to complete order,
and that his magnificent cavalry would not longer be
wanted to career over the plains of France, broke up and
sold off his studs; so that when his calculation as to the
future proved mistaken, he had no longer any organized
supply of war-horses to draw upon.
Raymond's interest in John's talk so won the heart of
that youth that a warm friendship sprang up rapidly
between them, whilst the younger brothers appeared to
take almost the same liking for Gaston. By-and-by it
became known that the Castle was crowded almost beyond
its capacity for accommodation; and as much of the re-
sponsibility of seeing to the lodging of guests fell upon
Sir John de Brocas, he gave up his house at Clewer for the
time being for the use of some of the guests of humbler
rank, his son John acting as host there; and to this house
the Gaston brothers were asked, amongst many other
youthful esquires of like degree. Thus it came about that
the merry yule-tide season was spent by them actually
beneath their uncle's roof, although he had no idea that he
was entertaining kinsmen unawares.
THE MASTER OF THE HORSE.
Mindful of the good priest's warning, and knowing their
ignorance of the new life and the new people amongst
whom their fortunes had led them, the twins still carefully
preserved the secret of their identity. They knew too
little of the cause of estrangement between their father
and his brothers to have any confidence how his sons
would be received. They were both of opinion that by
far their wisest course was to wait quietly and patiently,
and watch what befell them; and the only question which
Raymond ever dared to put to John in the days that
followed which savoured of their own affairs, was an
inquiry as to whether he had ever heard of a place called
Basildene ?" repeated John slowly. Yes, I have heard
the name. It is the name of a Manor not very many
miles from my uncle's house in Guildford. Dost thou
know aught of it ? "
Nay; I knew not rightly if there were such a spot.
But I have heard the name. Knowest thou to whom it
"Yes, I know that too. It belongs to one Peter Sang-
hurst, of whom no man speaks aught but evil."
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
K ING EDWARD'S assembly of knights that met at
his first Round Table was as typical a gathering as
could well have been found of that age of warlike chivalry.
The King's idea was likewise typical of the age he lived
in. He had begun to see something of that decline of
chivalry which was the natural outcome of a real advance
in general civilization, and of increasing law and order,
however slow its progress might be. Greatly deploring any
decay in a system so much beloved and cherished by
knights and warriors, and not seeing that its light might
merely be paling in the rise of something more truly
bright and beneficent, the King resolved to do everything
in his power to give an impetus to all chivalrous under-
takings by assembling together his knights after the fashion
of the great King Arthur, and with them to take counsel
how the ways and usages of chivalry might best be pre-
served, the old spirit kept alive, and the interests of piety
and religion (with which it should ever be blended) be
How far this festival succeeded in its object can scarcely
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
be told now. The days of chivalry (in the old acceptation
of the term) were drawing to a close, and an attempt to
galvanize into life a decaying institution is seldom attended
with any but very moderate success. From the fact that
we hear so little of the King's Round Table, and from the
few times it ever met, one is led to conclude that the
results were small and disappointing. But the brilliance
of the first assembly cannot be doubted; and for the twins
of Gascony it was a wonderful day, and marked an epoch
in their lives; for on that occasion they saw for the first
time the mighty King, whose name had been familiar to
them from childhood, and had actual speech with the
Prince of Wales, that hero of so many battle-fields, known
to history as the Black Prince.
So great was the crowd of esquires who waited upon
the knights sitting around the huge Round Table, that
the Gascon brothers only struggled for a few minutes
into the gay assemblage to look at what was going on
there. The table was itself a curiosity-a huge ring
round which, in beautifully carved seats, the knights sat,
each seat fitting into the next, with an arm to divide them,
the backs forming a complete circle round the table. The
King's seat was adorned with a richer carving, and had
a higher back, than the others, but that was its only
distinction. Within the circle of the table were pages
flitting about, attending on the guests; and the esquires
who thronged the corridors or supplemented the attentions
of the pages were considerably more numerous than the
occasion required, so that these were to be seen gathering
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
in groups here and there about the building in the vicinity
of the feast, discussing the proceedings or talking of public
or private matters.
Very wonderful was all this to Gaston and Raymond,
but not quite so bewildering as it would have been a month
ago. They had been about the Court some little time now,
and were growing used to the fine dresses, the English
ways of speech, and the manners and customs which had
perplexed them not a little at first. They were greatly
entertained by watching the shifting throng of courtiers,
and their one glimpse at the royal countenance of the King
had been fraught with keen pleasure and satisfaction; but
so far as they knew it, they had not yet seen the Prince
of Wales, and they had not caught sight either of their
cousins Oliver or Bernard, though they had found John
sitting in the embrasure of a window in the corridor,
watching the scene with the same interest which they felt
in it themselves.
When they saw him they joined him, and asked the
names of some of the gay personages flitting about. John
good-naturedly amused them with a number of anecdotes
of the Court; and as the three were thus chatting together,
they were suddenly joined by another group of three, who
advanced along the corridor talking in low tones but with
Here comes the Prince," said John, rising to his feet,
and the twin brothers turned eagerly round.
They knew in an instant which of the three was the
Prince, for his companions were John's two brothers, Oliver
(3 R) 6
82 THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
and Bernard. Young Edward was at that time not quite
fourteen, but so strong, so upright, so well grown, and of
such a kingly presence, that it was hard to believe he had
scarcely left his childhood behind. His tunic was of cloth
of gold, with the royal arms embroidered upon it. He
wore a golden collar round his neck, and his golden girdle
held a dagger with a richly-jewelled hilt. A short velvet
mantle lined with ermine hung over his shoulder, and was
fastened by a clasp richly chased and set with rubies. His
face was flushed as if with some great purpose, and his
eyes shone brightly with excitement.
It shall never be true-I will not believe it! he was
saying, in urgent accents. "Let chivalry once die out, and
so goes England's glory. May I die ere I live to see that
day! Better a thousand times death in some glorious
warfare, in some knightly deed of daring, than to drag out
a life of ease and sloth with the dying records of the
glorious past alone to cheer and sustain one. Good John,
thou art a man of letters-thou canst read the signs of
the times-prithee tell me that there be no truth in this
dark whisper. Sure the days of chivalry are not half
lived through yet !"
"Nor will be so long as you are spared to England,
gentle Prince," answered John, with his slight peculiar
smile. "You and your royal Sire together will keep alive
the old chivalry at which was dealt so sore a blow in your
grandsire's days. A reign like that of weakness and folly
and treachery leaves its mark behind; but England's
chivalry has lived through it-"'
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
"Ay, and she shall awake to new and fuller life !" cried
the ardent boy. What use in being born a prince if some-
thing cannot thus be done to restore what has been lost ?
And why should princes stand idle when the world is all
in arms ? Comrades, do ye long as I do to show the
world that though we have not yet won our knighthood's
spurs, we are yet ready and willing to sally forth, even as
did the knights of old, upon some quest of peril or adven-
ture ? Why is it that I, who should by rights be one to
show what may be done by a boy's arm with a stout heart
behind, am ever held back from peril and danger, have
never seen fighting save in the tilt-yard, or wound worse
than what splintered spear may chance to inflict ? I burn
to show the world what a band of youths can do who go
forth alone on some errand of true chivalry. Comrades,
give me your ears. Let me speak to you of the purpose
in my heart. This day has my father, in the hearing of
all men, lamented the wane of chivalry, has spoken brave
words of encouragement to those who will strive with him
to let it be no hollow name amongst us. Then who more
fit than his own son to go forth now-at once, by stealth
if need be-upon such a quest of peril and glory ? nay, not
for the glory-that may or may not be ours-but upon a
mission of chivalrous service to the weak and helpless ?
This thing I purpose to do myself, together with some few
chosen comrades. Brothers of Brocas, will ye go with
"We will! we will!" cried the three brothers in a
84 THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
"We will!" echoed the twins of Gascony, forgetting all
but their eager desire to share the peril and the glory of
the Prince's enterprise, whatever it might be.
Young Edward heard the sound of the strange voices,
and turned a quick glance of inquiry upon the youths. He
saw that they wore the livery of Sir James Audley, who
was a great favourite even then with the Prince. The true
kingly courtesy of the Plantagenets was ingrained in the
nature of this princely boy, and he looked with a smile at
the two eager faces before him.
"And who be ye, fair gentlemen ? he asked. Me-
thinks the badge you wear is answer almost enough. I
know your good lord well, and love him well, and sure
there be none of his esquires, be they never so young, who
would disgrace their master by fleeing in an hour of peril.
Wherefore if ye would fain be of the band I seek to muster
round me, I will bid you ready welcome. I seek none that
be above twenty years of age.-Good John, you shall be
the wise man of our party. These lads have not lived
many more years than I have myself, or I am much mis-
We are twin brothers," said Gaston frankly, and we
are nigh upon sixteen. We have been with Sir James a
matter of two months. We-"
"They met him in the woods of Gascony," cried Oliver,
"and rescued him from the attacks of a pack of fierce
wolves. I trow they would bear themselves bravely be
your quest what it may."
"Are you Gascons ?" asked the Prince, looking with
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
keener interest at the two youths; for he shared some of
his father's instincts of government, and was always well
disposed towards Gascon subjects.
"We are half Gascon and half English, may it please
you, fair Prince," answered Gaston readily, "and we will
follow you to the death."
"I well believe it, my good comrades," answered the
Prince quickly; "and right glad shall we be of your com-
pany and assistance. For our errand lies amidst dark
forests with their hidden perils and dangers, and I wat that
none know better what such dangers are nor how they may
be escaped than our brethren of Gascony."
"Then you know on what quest we are bent, sweet
Edward nodded his head as he looked over his shoulder.
"Ay, that I do right well, and that will I tell you in-
continently if no eavesdroppers be about. Ye know that
of late days brave knights and gentlemen have been mus-
tering to our Court from all parts of this land ? Now
amongst these is one Sir Hugh Vavasour, who comes from
his house of Woodcrych, not half a day's ride from our
Royal Palace of Guildford; and with him he has brought
his son, one Alexander, with whom I yestere'en fell into
converse. I say not that I liked the youth himself. He
seemed to me something over-bold, yet lacking in those
graces of chivalry that are so dear to us. Still it was- in
talking with him that I heard this thing which has set my
blood boiling in my veins."
What thing is that, fair Prince ?" asked John.
86 THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
And then the young Edward told his tale. It was such
a tale as was only too often heard in olden days, though it
did not always reach the ears of royalty. The long and
expensive, and as yet somewhat fruitless, wars in which
Edward had been engaged' almost ever since he came to the
throne, had greatly impoverished his subjects, and with
poverty there arose those other evils inseparable from
general distress-robbery, freebooting, crime in its darkest
and ugliest aspects; bands of hungry men, ruined and
beggared, partly perhaps through misfortune, but partly
through their own fault, wandering about the country
ravaging and robbing, leaving desolation behind them, and
too often, if opposed, committing acts of brutal cruelty
upon defenceless victims, as a warning to others.
A band such as this was just now scouring the woods
around Guildford. Young Vavasour had heard of depre-
dations committed close against the walls of his own home,
and had heard of many outrages which had been suffered
by the poor folks around. Cattle had been driven off, their
hardly-gathered fuel had vanished in the night; sometimes
lonely houses were attacked, and the miserable inhabitants,
if they offered resistance, stabbed to the heart by the
marauders. One or two girls had been missed from their
homes, and were said to have fallen a prey to the robber
band. All these things, and the latter item especially,
stirred the hot blood in the young Prince's veins, and he
was all on fire to do some doughty deed that should at
once exterminate such evil-doers from the face of the earth,
strike terror into the hearts of other bands, and show that
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
the spirit of chivalry was yet alive in the kingdom, and
that the King's son was the first to fly to the succour of
the distressed and the feeble.
"For I will go myself and hunt these miscreants as
though they were dogs or wolves-beasts of prey that
needs must be put down with a strong hand. I will not
tell my father the tale, else might he appoint warriors of
his own to see to the matter, and the glory be theirs and
not ours. No, this is a matter for my arm to settle. I
will collect around me a band of our bravest youths-they
shall all be youths like myself. Our good John knows
well the country around our Palace of Guildford-in truth
I know it indifferently well myself. We will sally forth
together-my father will grant me leave to go thither with
a body of youths of my own choosing-and thence we will
scour the forests, scatter or slay these vile disturbers of the
peace, restore the lost maidens to their homes, and make
recompense to our poor subjects for all they have suffered
at their hands."
It was just the scheme to fascinate the imagination and
fire the ardour of a number of high-spirited and generous
boys. The proximity of the Royal Palace of Guildford
gave them every facility for carrying out the plan speedily
and yet secretly, and the Prince had quickly enlisted a
score of well-trained, well-equipped lads to follow him on
his chivalrous quest. Sir James gave ready consent to his
petition that the Gascon twins might join his train for a
few days. The King, when he gave his sanction to the
proposed expedition to Guildford, believed that his son was
88 THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
going there bent on sport or some boyish pastime, and
scarce bestowed a second thought upon the matter. The
royal children had each their own attendants and estab-
lishment, following wherever their youthful master or mis-
tress went; and to the eldest son of the King a very decided
liberty was given, of which his father had never yet had
cause to repent.
Thus it came about that three days after the King's
great feast of the Round Table had ended, the Prince of
Wales, with a following of twenty young comrades, in ad-
dition to his ordinary staff of attendants, rode forth from
the Castle of Windsor in the tardy winter's dawn, and
before night had fallen the gay and gallant little band
had reached the Palace of Guildford, which had received
due notice of the approach of the King's son. Those who
were sharp-eyed amongst the spectators of this departure
might have noted that the Prince and his immediate fol-
lowers each wore round his arm a band of black ribbon
with a device embroidered upon it. The device was an
eagle worked in gold, and was supposed to be emblematic
of the swiftness and the strength that were to characterize
the expedition of the Prince, when he should swoop down
upon the dastardly foes, and force them to yield up their
ill-gotten gains. These badges had been worked by the
clever fingers of Edward's sisters, the youthful princesses
Isabella and Joanna. Joanna, as the wardrobe rolls of the
period show, was a most industrious little maiden with her
needle, and must have spent the best part of her time in
her favourite pastime of embroidery, judging by the amount
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
of silk and other material required by her for her own
private use. -Both the sisters were devotedly attached to
their handsome brother, and were the sharers of his con-
fidences. They knew all about this secret expedition, and
sympathized most fully with it. It was Joanna's ready
wit which had suggested the idea of the badge, which idea
was eagerly caught up by Edward; for to go forth with
a token woven by the fair hands of ladies would give to
the exploit a spice of romantic chivalry that would cer-
tainly add to its zest. So for the past three days the royal
sisters had been plying their needles with the utmost dili-
gence, and each of the gallant little band knew that he
wore upon his arm a token embroidered for him by the
hands of a youthful princess.
Of the Royal Palace of Guildford nothing now remains;
even the site is not known with any certainty, though it
is supposed to have occupied the spot where Guildford Park
farm now stands. Its extensive park covered a large area
of ground, and was a favoured hunting-ground for many
of the illustrious Plantagenets.
It need hardly be said with what interest and curiosity
the twin brothers gazed about them as they neared the little
town of Guildford, where their uncle, Master Bernard de
Brocas, possessed a gradually increasing property. They
felt that this journey was the first step towards Basildene;
and utterly ignorant as they were of its exact locality,
they wondered if they might not be passing it by when-
ever some ancient Manor-House reared its chimneys or
gables above the bare encircling trees, and their hearts
90 THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
beat high at the thought that they were drawing near to
their own lost inheritance.
The Palace was warmly lighted in honour of the arrival
of the Prince of Wales; and as the little cavalcade dis-
mounted at the door and entered the noble hall, a figure,
habited after the fashion of the ecclesiastics of the day,
stepped forth to greet the scion of royalty, and the twin
brothers heard their comrades mutter,-
It is the good Rector, Master Bernard de Brocas !"
The young Prince plainly knew the Rector well, and
after just bending his knee to ask the blessing, as was his
reverent custom, he led him into the banqueting-hall, where
a goodly meal lay spread, placing him in a seat at his
own right hand, and asking him many things as the meal
progressed, leading the talk deftly to the robbers' raids,
and seeking, without betraying his purpose, to find out
where these miscreants might most readily be found.
The good Rector had heard much about them, but knew
little enough of their movements. One day they were
heard of in one place, and again they would vanish, and
no man would know whither they had gone till they ap-
peared in another. Everywhere they left behind them
desolated homes, and bloodshed and ruin followed in their
track. Master Bernard had heard too many such tales
from all parts of the kingdom to heed overmuch what
went on in this particular spot. He knew that the winter's
privation and cold acted upon savage men almost as it did
upon wolves and ravenous beasts, and that in a country
harassed and overtaxed such things must needs be. He
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
never suspected the cause of the Prince's eagerness. He
believed that the youths had come down bent on sport,
and that they would take far more interest in the news he
had to give them, that a wild boar had recently been seen
in the forest aisles of the Royal Park, and that the hunts-
men would be ready to sally forth to slay it at a single
word from the Prince.
Edward's eyes lighted at this. It seemed to him a for-
tunate coincidence. Also he would be glad enough to see
the killing of the boar, though he was more interested in
the expedition it would involve into the heart of the forest.
"Prithee give orders, good Master Bernard, that the
huntsmen be ready to-morrow morning at dawn of day.
I trow there be horses and to spare to mount us all, as our
own beasts will be something weary from the journey they
have taken to-day. We will be ready ere the sun is up,
and if kind fortune smiles upon us, I trust I shall have
the good fortune to have a pair of fine tusks to offer to my
sisters when they join us here, as they shortly hope to do."
Master Bernard, who was a man of no small importance
all through this neighbourhood, hastened away to give the
needful orders. He had come from his own Rectory hard
by to receive the Prince and his comrades, and he sus-
pected that the King would be well pleased for him to
remain beneath the roof of the castle so long as this gay
and youthful party did so.
When night came and the youths sought the rooms
which had been made ready for them, the Prince signed
to a certain number of his comrades to repair with him to
THE KING AND THE PRINCE
his chamber, as though he desired their services at his
toilet. Amongst those thus summoned were the three sons
of Sir John de Brocas, and also the Gascon twins, for whom
young Edward appeared to have taken a great liking, and
who on their part warmly returned this feeling. Shut-
ting the door carefully, and making sure that none but
friends were round him, the Prince unfolded his plan.
He had learned from the Master Huntsman, whom
he had seen for a few minutes before going to his room,
that the boar lay concealed for the most part in some
thick underwood lying in the very heart of the forest
many miles distant, right away to the south-west in the
direction of Woodcrych. This part of the forest was
fairly well known to the Prince from former hunting ex-
peditions, and he and John both remembered well the hut
of a lonely woodman that lay hidden in the very depths
of the wood near this spot. It had occurred to Edward
as likely that old Ralph would be better acquainted with
the habits of the robbers than any other person could be.
He was too poor to be made a mark for their rapacity, yet
from his solitary life in the forest he might likely enough
come across their tracks, and be able to point out their
hiding-places. Therefore the Prince's plan was that he
and the picked companions he should choose should slip
away from the main body of the huntsmen, and make their
way to this lonely cabin, joining their comrades later when
they had discovered all that they could do from the old
man. The shouts of the huntsmen and the baying of the
dogs would guide them to the scene of the chase, and if
THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
the rest who remained all the while with the foresters and
the dogs missed the Prince from amongst their ranks, they
were not to draw attention to the fact, but were rather
to strive to conceal it from the Master Huntsman, who
might grow uneasy if he found the young Edward missing.
It was of importance that all inquiries respecting the rob-
bers should be conducted with secrecy, for if the Prince's
curiosity on the subject were once to be known, suspicion
might be aroused, or a regular expedition against them or-
ganized, the glory and credit of which would not belong
in anything but empty name to the Prince.
It was not, perhaps, unnatural that the six lads who had
first conned over the plan together should be selected as
the ones to make this preliminary inquiry. John was
chosen for his seniority and the prudence of his counsels,
his brothers for their bravery and fleetness of foot, and the
Gascon twins for their close acquaintance with forest tracks,
and their greater comprehension of the methods employed
in following the trail of foes or fugitives through tangled
woods. They would likely enough understand the old man's
counsel better than any of the others; and as the sport of
hunting the boar was more esteemed by the other youths
than the expedition to the woodman's hut, no jealousy was
aroused by the Prince's choice, and the scheme was quickly
made known to the whole of the party.
The morrow proved a first-rate day for a hunting-party
in the forest. A light crisp snow lay on the ground, melt-
ing where exposed to the sun's rays, but forming a spark-
ling white carpet elsewhere. It was not deep enough to
94 THE KING AND THE PRINCE.
inconvenience either men or horses, and would scarce have
fallen to any depth beneath the trees of the forest; but
there was just sufficient to be an excellent guide in track-
ing down the quarry, and all felt confident that the wily
old boar had seen his last sunrise.
Merrily rode the party forth through the great gateway
and across the fine park in the direction of the forest. The
Prince and his five chosen comrades rode together, some-
times speaking in low tones, sometimes joining in the gay
converse on the subject of hunting which went on around
them. But the Prince's thoughts were far less with sport
than with the wrongs of his father's subjects, and the cruel
outrages which they had suffered unredressed and almost
unpitied. His heart burned within him to think that in
merry England, as he liked to call it, and in the days of
chivalry, such things were possible; and to put down cruelty
and rapacity with a strong hand seemed of infinitely more
importance to him than the pursuit of a fine sport. Thus
musing, and thus talking in low tones to the thoughtful
John, the Prince dropped a little behind the muster of
huntsmen. His chosen comrades followed his example,
and straggled rather aimlessly after the main body, till at
last a turn in the forest shut these completely from their
"Now," said the Prince, turning to his five selected com-
rades, "this, if I mistake not, is our road. We will soon
see if we cannot get upon the track of the miscreants whom
I am burning to punish and destroy !"
THE PRINCE'S EXPLOIT
T HE woodman's cottage was quickly reached. It was
a little rush-thatched cabin of mud, lying in the
very heart of the dim wood. The party had to dismount
and tie up their horses at some short distance from the
place; but they had the good fortune to find the occupant
at home, or father just outside his cabin, gathering a few
dried sticks to light his fire.
He was a grizzled, uncouth-looking old man, but a
certain dignity was imparted to him by a look of deep and
unspeakable melancholy upon his face, which gave it pathos
and character of its own. The rustic face is apt to become
vacant, bovine, or coarse. Solitude often reduces man
almost to the level of the beasts. This old man, who for
many years had lived hidden away in this vast forest,
might well have lost all but the semblance of humanity;
but such was not the case. His eyes had light in them;
his very melancholy showed that the soul was not dead.
As he saw the bright-faced boys approaching him, he first
gave a great start of surprise, eagerly scanning one face
after another; then, as he did so, the light of hope
THE PRINCE'S EXPLOIT
died out from his eyes, and the old despairing look came
Something of this was observed by the Prince and his
followers, but they were at present too much bent upon
their own mission to have thought to spare for any other
concerns. They formed a circle round him, and asked him
of the robbers-if he ever saw them; if he knew their
haunts; if they had been near these parts during the past
For a moment it seemed as though the old man was
disappointed by the questions asked him. He muttered
something they did not rightly comprehend about robbers
worse than these, and a quick fierce look passed across his
face, and then died out again. The young Prince was
courteous and patient: he allowed the old man's slow wits
time to get to work; and when he did begin to speak he
spoke to some purpose, and the boys listened and ques-
tioned with the most eager attention.
It took some time to extract the necessary information,
not from any reluctance to speak on the old man's part,
but from his. inability to put his thoughts into words.
Still when this was by degrees achieved, the information
was of the highest possible importance.
The robbers, said the old man, were at that very moment
not far away. He had seen them sally forth on one of
their nocturnal raids about dusk the previous evening;
and they had returned home laden with spoil two hours
before the dawn. He was of the opinion that they had
carried off some captive with them, for he had heard sounds
THE PRINCE'S EXPLOIT
as of bitter though stifled weeping as they passed his hut
on their return. Did he know where they lay by day ?
Oh yes, right well he did! They had a hiding-place in a
cave down in a deep dingle, so overgrown with brushwood
that only those who knew the path thither could hope to
penetrate within it. Once there, they felt perfectly safe,
and would sleep away the day after one of their raids,
remaining safely hidden there till supplies were exhausted,
when they sallied forth again. The old woodman showed
them the tracks of the party that had passed by that
morning, and to the eyes of the Gascon brothers these
tracks were plain enough, and they undertook to follow
them unerringly to the lair. The old woodman had no
desire to be mixed up in the matter. If he were to be
seen in the company of the trackers, he firmly believed
that he should be skinned alive before many days had
passed. He plainly did not put much faith in the power
of these lads to overcome a large band of desperate men,
and strongly advised them to go home and think no more
of the matter. But his interest was only very partially
aroused, and it was plain that there was something on his
own mind which quite outweighed with him the subject of
the forest outlaws.
John would fain have questioned him about himself,
being a youth of kindly spirit; but the moment was not
propitious, for the Prince was all on fire with a new idea.
Comrades," he said, gravely and firmly, the hour has
come when we must put our manhood to the proof. This
very day, without the loss of a needless moment, we must
THE PRINCE'S EXPLOIT
fall, sword in hand, upon yon dastard crew, and do to
them as they have done. You have heard this honest
man's tale. Upon the day following a midnight raid they
lie close in their cave asleep-no doubt drunken with the
excesses they indulge in, I warrant, when they have re-
plenished their larder anew. This, then, is the day they
must be surprised and slain. If we wait we may never
have such another chance. My brothers in arms, are you
ready to follow me? Shall the eagles fail for lack of
courage when the prey is almost within sight? "
An unanimous sound of dissent ran through the group.
All were as eager as the Prince for the battle and the
victory; but the face of John wore an anxious look.
"We must not go alone," he said. "We must summon
our comrades to join us. They are bound on the quest as
much as we."
True," answered the Prince, looking round him. It
were madness, I trow, for the six of us to make the attack
alone. Yet did not Jonathan and his armour-bearer fall
unawares upon a host and put them to flight ? Methinks
some holy Father has told such a tale to me. Still thou
art right, good John. We must not risk losing all because
it has been given to godly men in times of old to work
a great deliverance. See here, friends, what we will do.
Our comrades cannot be very far away. Hark Surely it
is the baying of the hound I hear yonder over that wooded
ridge Good Bernard, do thou to horse, gallop to them as
fast as thou canst, and tell them of the hap upon which
we have fallen. Bid them follow fast with thee, but leave
THE PRINCE'S EXPLOIT
the dogs and horses behind with the huntsmen, lest their
noise betray our approach. Master Huntsman may seek
to withhold them from the quest, but when he knows that
I, the Prince, with but four of my comrades to help me,
have gone on in advance, and that we are even then
approaching the robbers' cave, he will not only bid them
all go, but will come himself doubtless, with the best of
his followers, and give us what help he may. Lose no
time. To horse, and away! And when thou hast called
the band together, come back in all haste to this spot.
The forest-trackers will be put upon the trail, and will
follow us surely and swiftly. You will find us there
before you, lying in ambush, having fully reconnoitred.
Be not afraid for us. Honest John will see that we run
not into too great peril ere we have help. Is it under-
stood? Good! Then lose not a moment. And for the
rest of us, we will follow these sturdy Gascons, who will
secretly lead us to the haunt of the outlaws."
Bernard was off almost before the last words had been
spoken, and very soon they heard from the sounds that he
had mounted his horse and was galloping in the direction
in which, from the faint baying of the hounds, he knew
the hunting-party to be.
John looked somewhat anxious as the Prince signed to
Gaston and Raymond to lead the way upon the robbers'
track; but he knew the determined nature of the Prince,
and did not venture open remonstrance. Yet Edward's
quick eye caught the uneasy glance, and he replied to it
with frank good-will.
THE PRINCE'S EXPLOIT.
Nay, fear not, honest John; I will run into no reckless
peril, for my sweet mother hath ever been forward to
counsel me that recklessness is not true bravery. Some
peril there must needs be-without it there could be no
glory; but that danger shall not be added to by any hardi-
hood such as my royal Sire would chide in me. Trust me;
I will be prudent, as I trust I may yet show that I can be
bold. We will use all due caution in approaching this
hiding-place, and if it will pleasure thee, I will promise
not to leave thy side before our friends come to our aid."
John was glad enough of this promise. As the eldest
of this ardent band, and the one who would be most
harshly taken to task did any harm come of the enter-
prise, he was anxious above all things to insure the safety
of the Prince. If Edward would remain beside him, he
could certainly make sure of one thing-that he himself
did not survive his royal master, but died at his side
fighting for his safety. The younger spirits thought only
of the glory of victory. John, with his feebler physique
and more thoughtful mind, saw another possible ending to
the day's adventure. Still his heart did not fail; only his
unspoken prayer was that no harm should befall the brave
young Prince, who was so eager to show the world that
chivalry was not yet dead.
The brothers from Gascony had no trouble whatever in
finding and keeping the trail the robbers had left behind
them. Slowly but surely they pursued their way through
the labyrinth of the gloomy forest. Neither John nor any
of his companions had ever been here before. The dense