Citation
Both sides the border

Material Information

Title:
Both sides the border a tale of Hotspur and Glendower
Alternate title:
Tale of Hotspur and Glendower
Creator:
Henty, G. A ( George Alfred ), 1832-1902
Peacock, Ralph ( Illustrator )
Charles Scribner's Sons
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Charles Scribner's Sons
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
6, 378, 32 p., [12] leaves of plates : ill. ; 19 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Kings and rulers -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Knights and knighthood -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Imaginary wars and battles -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Courage -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Determination (Personality trait) -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Battles -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Castles -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
War -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Prisoners -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Monks -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Courtship -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Welsh Borders (England and Wales) ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile fiction -- Wales ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1898 ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature -- 1898 ( rbgenr )
Biographical fiction -- 1898 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1898
Genre:
Publishers' catalogues ( rbgenr )
Children's literature ( fast )
Biographical fiction ( rbgenr )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Pictorial front cover and spine.
General Note:
Publisher's catalogue follows text.
Statement of Responsibility:
by G.A. Henty ; with twelve illustrations by Ralph Peacock.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
002391597 ( ALEPH )
ALZ6487 ( NOTIS )
04349297 ( OCLC )
98000490 ( LCCN )

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Full Text









See! THE ARMS
THE CREST OF THE
PERCIES

| AND THE SPEAR OF THE
WARRIOR 9 oo

AND THE LONG sckee











The Baldwin Library

University
Bre
iT Florida





BOTH SIDES THE BORDER





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



BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

@ Tale of Potspur and Glendowwer

BY
G. A. HENTY

Author of “A March on London,” “ Beric the Briton,” “ Held Fast for England,’?
*¢ Wolf the Saxon,” “A Jacobite Exile,” &c., &c,

WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY RALPH PEACOCK

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
1898



CopyrRIGHT, 1898, BY

CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS



PREEACE

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

G. A. HENTY.





CHAPTER

I.

Il.
III.
IV.
Vv.
VI.
VIL.
VIIL
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI.
XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.
XX.
XXI.

CONTENTS

A BorDER HOLD
ACROSS THE BORDER : : .
AT ALNWICK . ; ; 7 .

AN UNEQUAL JoUST .

A MISSION é ; s ° 6
AT DUNBAR . . .
Back TO HOTSPUR . ‘ . .

LupLow CASTLE

THE WELSH RISING

A BreacH oF Duty 5 ;
BaD NEws .. ‘ . .
A DANGEROUS MISSION .

ESCAPE

In HIDING

ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW

A LETTER FOR THE KING. .
KNIGHTED . 5 :
GLENDOWER

Tux BaTTLe oF HomMiLpoN HILL
THE Percys’ DISCONTENT

SHREWSBURY . ‘ .

PAGE

268
287
306
324

ee 4







ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE
It WAS WITH THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY THAT HE GUARDED

HIS HEAD . . . . : : a 5 Frontispiece
« THIg Is THE NEPHEW OF ALWYN ForRSTER” . é i . 42
THEY JOURNEYED PLEASANTLY ALONG a f . , ‘ 82
“WHO IS GOING TO TEACH ME?” 5 : ; 6 ‘ = 100
OSWALD THREW HIS ARMS ROUND TWO OF THEM. . 5 epee tks}

To OSWALD’S ASTONISHMENT TWO YOUNG WOMEN STOOD BE-

FORE HIM . é 5 . : a : . ; Tae)
ARMSTRONG TOOK HIS PLACE BY HIS SON’S PALLET . : ee 200)
“LET THE ROPE PASS GRADUALLY THROUGH YOUR HANDS eee 220
“[ AM WELL PLEASED WITH You, OSWALD)’. : . . 262
“Now, I THINK WE SHALL DO, RoGER” . ‘ : , - 290

“Tow GLAD I AM TO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY OF THANKING
you”. . . é : . : . . : ° song 22

“Do NOT SPEAK OF SUCH A THING, I PRAY YOU, MASTER” . 372







BOTH SIDES THE BORDER



CHAPTER I
A BORDER HOLD

}) LAD was: standing on the little look-out turret on
; the top of a border fortalice. The place was
evidently built solely with an eye to defence,
comfort being an altogether secondary consid-
eration. It was a square building of rough stone, the walls
broken only by narrow loopholes, and the door, which was
ten feet above the ground, was reached by broad wooden
steps, which could be hauled up in case of necessity, and were
in fact raised every night. The building was some. forty feet
square. The upper floor was divided into several chambers,
which were the sleeping-places of its lord and master, his
family, and the women of the household.

The floor below, on to which the door from without opened,
was undivided save by two rows of stone pillars that supported
the beams of the floor above. In one corner the floor, some
fifteen feet square, was raised somewhat above the general
level: this was set aside for the use of the master and the
family ; the rest of the apartment was used as the living and
I





2 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

sleeping room of the followers and hinds of the fortalice.
The basement — which, although on a level with the ground
outside, could be approached only by a trap-door and ladder
from the room above—was the store-room, and contained
sacks of barley and oatmeal, sides of bacon, firewood, sacks
of beans, and trusses of hay for the use of the horses and
cattle should the place have to stand a short siege. In the
centre was a well.

. The roof of the house was flat, and paved with square blocks
of stone; a parapet three feet high surrounded it. In the
centre was the look-out tower rising twelve feet above it, and
over the door another turret, projecting some eighteen inches
beyond the wall of the house, slits being cut in the stone floor
through which missiles could be dropped or boiling lead poured
upon any trying to assault the entrance. Outside was a court-
yard extending round the house ; it was some ten yards across,
and surrounded by a wall twelve feet high, with a square
turret at each corner. Everything was roughly constructed,
although massive and solid. With the exception of the door,
and the steps leading to it, no wood had been used in the
construction ; the very beams were of rough stone; the floors
were of the same material. It was clearly the object of the
builders to erect a fortress that could defy fire, and could only
be destroyed at the cost of enormous labour.

This was indeed a prime necessity, for the hold stood in the
wild country between the upper waters of the Coquet and the
Reed River. Harbottle and Longpikes rose but a few miles
away, and the whole country was broken up by deep ravines
and valleys, fells and crags. From the edge of the moorland,
a hundred yards from the outer wall, the ground dropped
sharply down into the valley, where the two villages of Yard-
hope lay on a little burn running into the Coquet. In other
directions the moor extended for a distance of nearly a mile.





A BORDER HOLD / 3

On this two or three score of cattle and a dozen shaggy little
horses were engaged in an effort to keep life together upon
the rough herbage that grew among the heather and blocks
of stones scattered everywhere.

Presently the lad caught sight of the flash of the sun, which
had but just risen behind him, on a spear-head at the western
edge of the moor. He ran down at once from his post to the
principal room.

“They are coming, mother,” he exclaimed; “I have just
seen the sun glint on a spear-head.”

“T trust that they are all there,” she said, and then turned
to two women by the fire and bade them put on more wood
and get the pots boiling.

“Go up again, Oswald, and as soon as you can make out
your father’s figure bring me down news. I have not closed
an eye for the last two nights, for ’tis a more dangerous enter-
prise than usual on which they have gone.”

“Father always comes home all right, mother,” the boy
said confidently, “and they have a strong band this time.
They were to have been joined by Thomas Gray and his
following, and Forster of Currick, and John Liddel, and Percy
Hope of Bilderton. They must have full sixty spears. The
Bairds are like to pay heavily for their last raid hither.”

Dame Forster did not reply, and Oswald ran up again to the
look-out. By this time the party for whom he was watching
had reached the moor. It consisted of twelve or fourteen
horsemen all clad in dark armour, carrying very long spears
and mounted on small but wiry horses. They were driving
before them a knot of some forty or fifty cattle, and three of
them led horses carrying heavy burdens. Oswald’s quick eye
noticed that four of the horsemen were not carrying their
spears.

“They are three short of their number,” he said to himself,



4 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“and those four must all be sorely wounded. Well, it might
have been worse.” Oswald had been brought up to regard
forays and attacks as ordinary incidents of life. Watch and
ward were always kept in the little fortalice, especially when
the nights were dark and misty, for there was never any say-
ing when a party of Scottish borderers might make an attack,
for the truces so often concluded between the border wardens
had but slight effect on the prickers, as the small chieftains on
both sides were called, who maintained a constant state of
warfare against each other.

The Scotch forays were more frequent than those from the
English side of the border, not because the people were more
warlike, but because they were poorer and depended more
entirely upon plunder for their subsistence. There was but
little difference of race between the peoples on the opposite
side of the border; both were largely of mixed Danish and
Anglo-Saxon blood, for when William the Conqueror carried
fire and sword through Northumbria, great numbers of the
inhabitants moved north and settled in the district beyond
the reach of the Norman arms. On the English side of the
border the population were in time leavened by Norman blood,
as the estates were granted by William to his barons. These
often married the heiresses of the dispossessed families, while
their followers found wives among the native population.

The frequent wars with the Scots, in which every man
capable of bearing arms in the Northern Counties had to take
part, and the incessant border warfare maintained a most
martial spirit among the population, who considered retalia-
tion for injuries received to be a natural and lawful act. This
was to some extent heightened by the fact that the terms of
many of the truces specifically permitted those who had
suffered losses on either side to pursue their plunderers across
the border. These raids were not accompanied by bloodshed





A BORDER HOLD 5

except when resistance was made, for between the people,
descended as they were from a common stock, there was no
active animosity, and at ordinary times there was free and
friendly intercourse between them. There were, however,
many exceptions to the mle that unresisting persons were not
injured.

Between many families on opposite sides of the border there
existed blood feuds, arising from the fact that members of
one or the other had been killed in forays, and in these cases
bitter and bloody reprisals were made on either side. The
very border line was ill defined, and people on one side fre-
quently settled on the other, as is shown by the fact that sev-
eral of the treaties contained provisions that those who had
so moved might change their nationality and be accounted as
Scotch or Englishmen as the case might be. Between the
Forsters and the Bairds such a feud had existed for three
generations. It had begun in a raid by the latter; the Fors-
ter of that time had repulsed the attack, and had with his own
hand killed one of the Bairds; six months later he was sur-
prised and killed on his own hearth-stone, at a time when his
son and most of his retainers were away on a raid.

From that time the animosity between the two families had
been unceasing, and several lives had been lost on both sides.
The Bairds with a large party had, three months: before, carried
fire and sword through the district bordering on the main
road as far as Elsdon on the east, and Alwinton on the north.
News of their coming had, however, preceded them; the
villagers of Yardhope had just time to take refuge at Forster’s
hold, and had repulsed the determined attacks made upon it,
until Sir Robert Umfraville brought a strong party to their
assistance and drove the Bairds back towards the frontier.
The present raid from which the party was returning had
been organised partly to recoup those who took part in it



6 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

for the loss of their cattle on that occasion, and partly to
take vengeance upon the Bairds.

As was the custom on both sides of the border, these expe-
ditions were generally composed of members of half a dozen
families with their followers, the one who was at once most
energetic and best acquainted with the intricacies of the
country, and the paths across fells and moors, being chosen
as leader.

Presently Oswald Forster saw one of the party wave his
hand, and at his order four or five of the horsemen rode out
and began to drive the scattered cattle and horses towards
the house. Oswald at once ran down.

“Father is all right, mother; he has just given orders to
the men, and they are driving all the animals in, so I suppose
that the Bairds must be in pursuit. I had better tell the men
to get on their armour?”

Without waiting for an answer he told six men who were
eating their breakfast at the farther end of the room to make
an end of their meal, and get on their steel caps and breast
and back pieces, and take their places in the turret over the
gate into the yard. In a few minutes the animals began to
pour in, first those of the homestead, then the captured herd,
weary and exhausted with their long and hurried journey ;
then came the master with his followers. Mary Forster and
her son stood at the top of the steps ready to greet him.
The gate into the yard was on the opposite side to that of
the doorway of the fortalice, in order that assailants who had
carried it should have to pass round under the fire of the
archers in the turrets before they could attack the building
itself. She gave a little cry as her husband came up. His
left arm was in a sling, his helmet was cleft through, and a
bandage showed beneath it.

“Do not be afraid, wife,” he said cheerily. “We have had



A BORDER HOLD 7

hotter work than we expected, but, so far as I am concerned,
there is no great harm done. I am sorry to say that we have
lost Long Hal, and Rob Finch, and Smedley. Two or three
others are sorely wounded, and I fancy few have got off alto-
gether scathless. All went well until we stopped to wait for
daybreak three miles from Allan Baird’s place. Some shep-
herd must have got sight of us as we halted, for we found him
and his men up and ready. They had not had time, how-
ever, to drive in the cattle; and seeing that we should like
enough have the Bairds swarming down upon us before we
could take Allan’s place, we contented ourselves with gather-
ing the cattle and driving them off. There were about two
hundred of them.

“We went fast, but in two hours we saw the Bairds coming
in pursuit; and as it was clear that they would overtake us,
hampered as we were with the cattle, we stood and made
defence. There was not much difference in numbers, for the
Bairds had not had time to gather in all their strength. The
fight was a stiff one. On our side Percy Hope was killed, and
John Liddel so sorely wounded that there is no hope of his
life. We had sixteen men killed outright, and few of us but
are more or less scarred. On their side Allan Baird was killed
and John was smitten down, but how sorely wounded I cannot
say for certain, for they put him on a horse and took him
away at once. They left twenty behind them on the ground
dead; and the rest, finding that we were better men than
they, rode off again.

“ William Baird himself had not come up; his hold was too
far for the news to have reached him, as we knew well enough,
but doubtless he came up with his following a few hours after
we had beaten his kinsmen. But we have ridden too fast for
him to overtake us. We struck off north as soon as we
crossed the border, travelled all night by paths by which they



8 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

will find it difficult to follow or track us, especially as we broke
up into four parties, and each chose their own way. I have
driven all our cattle in, in case they should make straight here
after losing our track. Of course there were many who fought
against us who know us all well; but even were it other than
the Bairds we had despoiled, they would hardly follow us so
far across the border to fetch their cattle. As for the Bairds,
the most notorious of the Scottish raiders, for them to claim
the right of following would be beyond all bearing. Why, I
don’t believe there was a head of cattle among the whole herd
that had not been born and bred on this side of the border.
It is we who have been fetching back stolen goods.”

By this time he and his men had entered the house, and
those who had gone through the fray scathless were, assisted
by the women, removing the armour from their wounded com-
rades. Those who had been forced to relinquish their spears
were first attended to. There was no thought of sending for
a leech. Every man and woman within fifty miles of the
border was accustomed to the treatment of wounds, and in
every hold was a store of bandages, styptics, and unguents
ready for instant use. Most of the men were very sorely
wounded, and had they been of less hardy frame and less
inured to. hardships could not have supported the long ride.
John Forster, before taking off his own armour, saw that
their wounds were first attended to by his wife and her
women.

“1 think they will all do,” he said, “and that they will live
to strike another blow at the Bairds yet. Now, Osivald, un-
buckle my harness. Your mother will bandage up my arm
and head, and Elspeth shall bring up a full tankard from be-
low for each of us. A draught of beer will do as much good
as all the salves and medicaments. Do you take the first
drink, Jock Samlen, and then go up to the watch-tower. I



A BORDER HOLD 9

gee the men have been posted in the wall-turrets. One of
them shall relieve you shortly.”

As soon as the wounds were dressed, bowls of porridge
were served round, then one of the men who had remained
at home was posted at the look-out, and after the cattle had
been seen to, all who had been on the road stretched them-
selves on some rushes at one end of the room, and were
in a few minutes sound asleep.

“I wonder whether we shall ever have peace in the land,
Oswald,” his mother said with a sigh, as, having seen that the
women had all'in readiness for the preparation of the midday
meal, she sat down on a low stool by his side.

«I don’t see how we ever can have, mother, until either we
conquer Scotland, or the Scotch shall be our masters. It is
not our fault; they are ever raiding and plundering, and heed
not the orders of Douglas or the other Lords of the Marches.”

“We are almost as bad as they are, Oswald.”

“Nay, mother, we do but try to take back our own; as
father well said, the cattle that were brought in are all English
that have been taken from us by the Bairds, and we do but
pay them back in their own coin. It makes but little differ-
ence whether we are at war or peace, these reiving caterans
are ever on the move. It was but last week that Adam Gor-
don and his bands wasted Tynedale as far as Bellingham, and
carried off, they say, two thousand head of cattle, and slew
many of the people. If we did not cross the border some-
times and give them a lesson, they would become so bold that
there would be no limit to their raids.”

“That is all true enough, Oswald; but it is hard that we
should always require to be on the watch, and that no one
within forty miles of the border can at any time go to sleep
with the surety that he will not ere morning hear the raiders
knocking at his gate.”



10 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“ Methinks that it would be dull were there nought to do
but to look after the cattle,” Oswald replied. It seemed to
him, bred up as he had been amid constant forays and excite-
ments, that the state of things was a normal one, and that
it was natural that a man should need to have his spear ever
ready at hand, and to give or take hard blows. “ Besides,”
he went on, “ though we. carry off each other’s cattle and fetch
them home again, we are not bad friends while the truces
hold, save in the case of those who have blood feuds. It was
but last week that Allan Armstrong and his two sisters were
staying here with us, and I promised that ere long I would
ride across the border and spend a week with them.”

“Yes, but that makes it all the worse. Adam Armstrong
married my sister Elizabeth, whom he first met at Goddington
fair, and indeed there are few families on either side of the
border who have not both English and Scotch blood in their
veins. It is natural we should be friends, seeing how often
we have held Berwick, Roxburgh, and Dumfries, and how
often in times of peace Scotchmen come across the border to
trade at the fairs. Why should it not be so when we speak
the same tongue, and, save for the border line, are one people?
Though indeed it is different in Kirkcudbright and Wigtown,
where they are Galwegians, and their tongue is scarce under-
stood by the border Scots. ‘Tis strange that those on one
side of the border and those on the other cannot keep the
peace towards each other.”

“ But save when the kingdoms are at war, mother, we do
keep the peace, except in the matter of cattle-lifting, and bear
no enmity towards each other save when blood is shed. In
war-time each must, of course, fight for his nation and as his
lord orders him. We have wasted Scotland again and again
from end to end, and they have swept the Northern Counties
well-nigh as often. I have heard father say that eight times







A BORDER HOLD 11

in the last hundred years this hold has been levelled to the
ground. It only escaped last time because he built it so
strongly of stone that they could not fire it, and it would have
taken them almost as long to pick it to pieces as it took him
to build it.”

“Yes, that was when you were an infant, Oswald. When
we heard the Scotch army was marching this way, we took
refuge with all the cattle and horses among the Pikes, having
first carried out and burnt all the forage and stores, and leav-
ing nothing that they could set fire to. Your father has often
laughed at the thought of how angry they must have been when
they found that there was no mischief that they could do, for,
short of a long stay, which they never make, there was no
way in which they could damage it. Ours was the only house
that escaped scot-free for thirty miles round; but indeed ’t is
generally but parties of pillagers who trouble this part of the
country even when they invade England. There is richer
booty by far to be gathered in Cumberland and Durham, for
here we have nought but our cattle and horses, and of these
they have as many on their side of the border. It is the
plunder of the towns that chiefly attracts them, and while
they go past here empty-handed, they always carry great
trains of booty on their backward way.”

“Still it would be dull work if there were no fighting,
mother.”

“There is no fighting in Southern England, Oswald, save
for those who go across the sea to fight the French, and yet
I suppose they find life less dull than we do. They have
more to do. Here there is little tillage, the country is poor;
and who would care to break up the land and to raise crops
when any night your ricks might be in flames, and your grana-
ries plundered? Thus there is nought for us to do but to
keep cattle, which need but little care and attention, and



12 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

which can be driven off to the fells when the Scots make a
great raid ; but in the south, as I have heard, there is always
much for farmers to attend to, and those who find life dull
-can always enter the service of some warlike lord and follow
him across the sea.”

Oswald shook his head. The quiet pursuits of a farmer
seemed to him to be but a poor substitute for the excitement
. of border war. “It may be as you say, mother, but for my
part I would rather enter the service of the Percys, and gain
honour under their banner, than remain here day after day
merely giving aid in driving the cattle in and out, and won-
dering when the Bairds are coming this way again.”

His mother shook her head. Her father and two brothers
had both been slain the last time a Scottish army had crossed
the border ; and although she naturally did not regard constant
troubles in the same light in which a southern woman would
have viewed them, she still longed for peace and quiet, and
was in constant fear that sooner or later the feud with the
Bairds, who were a powerful family, would cost her husband
his life. Against open force she had little fear. The hold
could resist an attack for days, and long ere it yielded, help
would arrive ; but although the watch was vigilant, and every
precaution taken, it might be captured by a sudden night
attack. William Baird had, she knew, sworn a great oath
that Yardhope Hold should one day be destroyed, and the
Forsters wiped out root and branch. And the death of his
cousin Allan in the last raid would surely fan the fire of his
hatred against them.

“One never can say what may happen,” she said after a
pause ; “but if at any time evil should befall us, and you
escape, remember that your uncle Alwyn is in Percy’s ser-
vice, and you cannot do better than go to him and place
yourself under his protection, and act as he may advise you.





A BORDER HOLD 13

I like not the thought that you should become a man-at-arms ;
and yet methinks that it is no more dangerous than that of a
householder on the fells. At least, in a strong castle a man
can sleep without fear, whereas none can say as much here.”

“If aught should happen to my father and you, mother, you
may be sure that I should share in it; the Bairds would spare
no one if they captured the hold. And although father will
not as yet take me with him on his forays, I should do my
share of fighting if the hold were attacked.”

“JT am sure that you would, Oswald; and were it captured
I have no doubt that, as you say, you would share our fate.
I speak not with any thought that it is likely things will turn
out as I say; but they may do so, and therefore I give you my
advice to seek out your uncle. As to a capture of our hold,
of that I have generally but little fear; but the fact that your
father has been wounded and three of his men killed, and that
another Baird has fallen, has brought the possibility that it
may happen more closely to my mind this morning than usual.
Now, my boy, you had best spend an hour in cleaning up your
father’s armour and arms. ‘The steel cap must go to the ar-
mourer at Alwinton for repair, but you can get some of the
dints out of his breast and back pieces, and can give them
a fresh coat of black paint;” for the borderers usually
darkened their armour, so that in their raids their presence
should not be betrayed by the glint of sun or moon upon
them.
- Oswald at once took up the armour and went down the steps
into the courtyard, so that the sound of his hammer should
not disturb the sleepers. As with slight but often-repeated
blows he got out the dints that had been made in the fray, he
thought over what his mother had been saying. ‘To him also
the death of three of the men, who had for years been his
companions, came as a shock. It was seldom, indeed, that the



14 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

forays for cattle-lifting had such serious consequences. Asa
rule they were altogether bloodless, and it was only because of
the long feud with the Bairds, and the fact that some warning
of the coming of the party had, in spite of their precaution,
reached Allan Baird, that on the present occasion such serious
results had ensued.

Had it not been for this, the cattle would have been driven
off without resistance, for Allan Baird’s own household would
not have ventured to attack so strong a party. No attempt
would have been made to assault his hold, for he had often
heard his father say that even in the case of a blood feud he
held that houses should not be attacked and their occupants
slain. If both parties met under arms, the matter was different ;
but that, in spite of the slaying of his own father by them, he
would not kill even a Baird on his hearth-stone. Still, a Baird
had been killed, and assuredly William Baird would not be
deterred by any similar scruples. His pitiless ferocity was
notorious, and even his own countrymen cried out against
some of his deeds, and the Earl of Douglas had several times
threatened to hand him over to the English authorities; but
the Bairds were powerful, and could, with their allies, place
four or five hundred men in the field, and in the difficult coun-
try in which they lived could have given a great deal of trouble
even to Douglas. Therefore nothing had come of his threats,
and the Bairds had continued to be the terror of that part of
the English border that was the most convenient for their
operations.

Oswald was now past sixteen, and promised to be as big
aman as his father, who was a fine specimen of the hardy
Northumbrian race, — tall, strong, and sinewy. He had felt
hurt when his father had refused to allow him to take part in
the foray.

“Time enough, lad, time enough,” he had said when the lad



A BORDER HOLD 15

had made his petition to do so. “You are not strong enough
yet to hold your own against one of the Bairds’ moss-troopers,
should it come to fighting. In another couple of years it will
be time enough to think of your going on such an excursion
as this. You are clever with your arms, I will freely admit,
as you ought to be, seeing that you practise for two hours a
day with the men. But strength counts as well as skill, and
you want both when you ride against the Bairds; besides, at
present you have still much to learn about the paths through
the fells and across the morasses. If you are ever to become
a leader, you must know them well enough to traverse them
on the darkest night, or through the thickest mist.”

“TJ think that I do know most of them, father.”

“Yes, I think you do, on this side of the border; but you
must learn those on the other side as well. They are, indeed,
of even greater importance, in case of pursuit or for crossing
the border unobserved. Hitherto I have forbidden you to
cross the line, but in future Mat Wilson shall go with you. He
knows the Scotch passes and defiles better than any in the
band, and so that you don’t go near the Bairds’ country you
can traverse them safely so long as the truce lasts.”

For years indeed, Oswald, on one of the hardy little horses,
had ridden over the country in company with one or other of
the men, and had become familiar with every morass, moor,
fell, and pass, down to the old Roman wall to the south, and
as far north as Wooler, being frequently absent for three or
four days at a time. He had several times ridden into Scot-
land to visit the Armstrongs and other friends of the family,
but he had ‘always travelled by the roads, and knew nothing of
the hill paths on that side. His life had, in fact, been far
from dull, for they had many friends and connections in the
villages at the foot of the Cheviots, and he was frequently
away from home.



16 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

His journeys were generally performed on horseback, but
his father encouraged him to take long tramps on foot, in
order that he might strengthen his muscles, and would not
unfrequently give him leave to pay visits on condition that he
travelled on foot instead of in the saddle. Constant exercise
in climbing, riding, and with his weapons, and at wrestling
and other sports, including the bow, had hardened every
muscle of his frame, and he was capable of standing any
fatigues; and although his father said that he could not hold
his own against men, he knew that the lad could do so against
any but exceptionally powerful ones, and believed that when
the time came he would, like himself, be frequently chosen as
leader in border forays. He could already draw the strongest
bow to the arrow-head, and send a shaft with a strength that
would suffice to pierce the light armour worn by the Scotch
borderers.

It was by the bow that the English gained the majority of
their victories over their northern neighbours, who did not
take to the weapon, and were unable to stand for a moment
against the English archers, who not only loved it as a sport,
but were compelled by many ordinances to practise with it
from their childhood. Of other education he had none, but
in this respect he was no worse off than the majority of the
knights and barons of the time, who were well content to trust
to monkish scribes to draw up such documents as were re-
quired and to affix their seal to them. He himself had once,
some six years before, expressed a wish to be sent for a year
to the care of the monks at Rothbury, whose superior was a
distant connection of his father, in order to be taught to read
and write, but John Forster had scoffed at the idea.

“You have to learn to be a man, lad,” he had said, “and
the monks will never teach you that. I do not know one letter
.from another, nor did my father, or any of my forebears, and





A BORDER HOLD 17

we were no worse for it. On the marches, unless a man means
to become a monk he has to learn to make his sword guard his
head,.to send an arrow straight to the mark, to know every
foot of the passes, and to be prepared at the order of his lord
to defend his country against the Scots. These are vastly more
important matters than reading and writing, which are, so far
as I can see, of no use to any fair man, whose word is his bond,
and who deals with honest men. I can reckon up, if I sell so
many cattle, how much has to be paid, and more of learning
than that I want not, nor do you, and every hour spent on it
would be as good as wasted. As to the monks, Heaven forfend
that you should ever become one. They are good men, I
doubt not, and I suppose that it is necessary that some should
take to it; but that a man who has the full possession of his
limbs should mew himself up for life between four walls, passing
his time in vigils and saying masses, in reading books and dis-
tributing alms, seems to me to be a sort of madness.”

“T certainly do not wish to become a monk, father; but I
thought that I should like to learn to read and write.”

‘And when you have learnt it, what then, Oswald? Books
are expensive playthings, and no scrap of writing has ever
been inside the walls of Yardhope Hold since it was first built
here, as far as I know. As to writing, it would be of still less
use. Ifa man has a message to send, he can send it by a hired
man, if it suits him not to ride himself. Besides, if he had
written it, the person he sent it to would not be able to read
it, and would have to go to some scribe for an interpretation
of its contents. No, no, my lad, you have plenty to learn
before you come to be a man, without bothering your head
with this monkish stuff. I doubt if Hotspur himself can do
more than sign his name to a parchment, and what is good
enough for the Percys is surely good enough for you.”

The idea had in fact been put into Oswald’s head by his

2



18 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

mother. At that time the feud with the Bairds had burned
very hotly, and it would have lessened her anxieties had the
boy been bestowed for a time in a convent. Oswald himself
felt no disappointment at his father’s refusal to a petition that
he would never have made had not his mother dilated to him
on several occasions upon the great advantage of learning. No
thought of repeating the request had ever entered his mind.
His father had thought more of it, and had several times
expressed grave regret to his wife over such an extraordinary
wish having occurred to their son.

“The boy has nothing of a milk-sop about him,” he said,
“and is for his age full of spirit and courage. How so strange
an idea could have occurred to him is more than I can
imagine. I should as soon expect to see an owlet in a
sparrow-hawk’s nest as a monk hatched in Yardhope Hold.”

His wife discreetly kept silence as to the fact that she her-
self had first put the idea in the boy’s head, for although Mary
Forster was mistress inside of the hold, in all other matters
John was masterful and would brook no meddling even by her.
The subject, therefore, of Oswald’s learning to read and write
was never renewed.

CHAPTER II

ACROSS THE BORDER

MOST vigilant watch was kept up for the next week at
Yardhope Hold. At night three or four of the troopers

were posted four or five miles from the hold, on the roads by
which an enemy was likely to come, having under them the
fleetest horses on the moor. When a week passed there was
some slight relaxation in the watch, for it was evident that the





ACROSS THE BORDER 19

Bairds intended to bide their time for a stroke, knowing well
that they would not be likely to be able to effect a surprise at
present. ‘The outlying posts were therefore no longer main-
tained, but the dogs of the hold, fully a dozen in number, were
chained nightly in a circle three or four hundred yards outside
it, and their barking would at once apprise the watchers in the
turrets on the walls of the approach of any body of armed
men.

Two days later Oswald started for his promised visit to the
Armstrongs. It was not considered necessary that he should
be accompanied by any of- the troopers, for Hinultie lay but a
few miles across the frontier. In high spirits he galloped
away, and riding through Yardhope was soon at Alwinton, and
thence took the track through Kidland Lee, passed round the
head of the Usmay brook, along the foot of Maiden Cross
Hill, and crossed the frontier at Windy Guile. Here he
stood on the crest of the Cheviots, and descending passed
along at the foot of Windburgh Hill, and by noon entered
the tiny hamlet of Hinultie, above which, perched on one of
the spurs of the hill, stood the Armstrongs’ hold. It was
smaller than that of Yardhope and. had no surrounding wall,
but, like it, was built for defence against a sudden attack.

Adam Armstrong was on good terms with his neighbours
across the border. Although other members of his family
were frequently engaged in forays, it was seldom indeed that
he buckled on armour, and only when there was a general call
to arms. He was, however, on bad terms with the Bairds,
partly because his wife was a sister of Forster’s, partly because
of frays that had arisen between his herdsmen and those of
the Bairds, for his cattle wandered far and wide on the moun-
tain slopes to the south, and sometimes passed the ill-defined
line, beyond which the Bairds regarded the country as their
own. Jedburgh was but ten miles away, Hawick but six or



20 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

seven, and any stay after the sun rose would speedily have
brought strong bodies of men from these towns, as well as
from his still nearer neighbours, at Chester, Abbotrule, and
Hobkirk.

Oswald’s approach was seen, and two of his cousins — Allan,
who was a lad of about the sarne age, and Janet, a year
younger —ran out from the house to meet him.

“We have been expecting you for the last ten days,” the
former exclaimed, “and had well-nigh given you up.”

“T hold you to be a laggard,” the girl added, “and unless
you can duly excuse yourself shall have nought to say to you.”

“‘ My excuse is a good one, Janet. My father made a foray
a fortnight since into the Bairds’ country, to rescue some of
the cattle they had driven off from our neighbours some days
before. There was a sharp fight, and Allan Baird was killed,
and since then we have been expecting a return visit from
them, and have been sleeping with our arms beside us.
Doubtless they will come some day, but as it is evident they
don’t mean to come at present, my father let me leave.”

“In that case we must forgive you,” the-girl said. ‘Some
rumours of the fray have reached us, and my father shook his
head gravely when he heard that another Baird had been
killed by the Forsters.”

“Tt was not only us,” Oswald replied. ‘There were some
of the Liddels, and the Hopes, and other families, engaged.
My father was chosen as chief; but this time it was not our
quarrel but theirs, for we had lost no cattle, and my father
only joined because they had aided us last time, and he could
not hold back now. Of course he was chosen as chief be-
cause he knows the country so well.” |

“Well, come in, Oswald. It is poor hospitality to keep you
talking here outside the door.”

A boy had already taken charge of Oswald’s horse, and





ACROSS THE BORDER 21

after unstrapping his valise had led it to a stable that formed
the basement of the house.

“Well, laddie, how fares it with you at home?’’? Adam
Armstrong said heartily as they mounted the steps to the
main entrance. ‘We have heard of your wild doings with
the Bairds. ’Tis a pity that these feuds should go on from
father to son, ever getting more and more bitter. But there,
we can no more change a borderer’s nature than you can
stop the tide in the Solway. I hear that it was well-nigh a
pitched battle.” .

“There was hard fighting,” Oswald replied. “Three of our
troopers and eight or ten of the others were killed. My
father was.twice wounded, one of the Hopes was killed, and a
Liddel severely wounded. But, from what they say, the Bairds
suffered more. Had they not done so there would have been
a hot pursuit, but as far as we know there was none.”

“The Bairds will bide their time,” Armstrong said gravely.
“They are dour men, and will take their turn though they
wait ten years for it.”

“ At any rate, they won’t catch us sleeping, uncle, and come
they however strong they may, they will find it hard work to
capture the hold.” i

“ Ay, ay, lad, but I don’t think they will try to knock their
heads against your wall. They are more like to sweep down
on a sudden, and your watchman will need keen eyes to make
. them out before they are thundering at the gate or climbing
up the wall. However, your father knows his danger, and it
is of no use talking more of it. What is done, is done.”

“ And how is your mother, Oswald?” Mistress Armstrong
asked.

“She is well, aunt, and bade me give her love to you.”

“Truly I wonder she keeps her health with all these troubles
and anxieties. We had hoped that, after the meeting last



22 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

March of the Commissioners on both sides, when the Lords
of the Marches plighted their faith to each other and agreed
to surrender all prisoners without ransom and to forgive all
offenders, we should have had peace on the border. As you
know, there were but three exceptions named ; namely, Adam
Warden, William Baird, and Adam French, whom the Scotch
Commissioners bound themselves to arrest and to hand over
to the English Commissioners, to be tried as being notorious
truce-breakers, doing infinite mischief to the dwellers on the
English side of the border. And yet nothing has come of it,
and these men still continue to make their raids without check
or hindrance either by the Earl of March or Douglas.”

“There are faults on both sides, wife,” her husband said.

“J do not deny it, gudeman; but I have often heard you
say these three men are the pests of the border, and that were
it not for them things might go on reasonably enough, for no
one counts a few head of cattle lifted now and again. It is
bad enough that every two or three years armies should march
across the border, one way or the other, but surely we might
live peaceably between times. Did not I nearly lose you at
Otterburn, and had you laid up on my hands for well-nigh six
months?”

“ Ay, that was a sore day for both sides.”

«“ Will you tell me about it, uncle?” Oswald asked. “ My
father cares not much to talk of it; and though I know
that he fought there, he has never told me the story of the
battle.”

«“ We are just going to sit down to dinner now,” Adam Arm-
strong said, “and the story is a long one; but after we have
done I will tell you of it. Your father need not feel so sore
about it, for since the days of the Bruce you have had as many
victories to count as we have.”

After dinner, however, Armstrong had to settle a dispute







ACROSS THE BORDER 23

between two of his tenants as to grazing rights, and it was
not until evening that he told his story.

“In 1388 there were all sorts of troubles in England, and
France naturally took advantage of them and recommenced
hostilities, and we prepared to share in the game. Word was
sent round privately, and every man was bidden to gather in
Jedburgh forest. I tell you, lad, I went with a heavy heart,
for although men of our name have the reputation of being
as quarrelsome fellows as any that dwell on the border, I am
an exception, and love peace and quiet ; moreover, the children
were but young, and I saw that the fight would be a heavy
business, and I did not like leaving them and their mother.
However, there was no help for it, and we gathered there over
40,000 strong. The main body marched away into Cumber-
land, but Douglas, March, and Moray, with 300 spears and
2,000 footmen, including many an Armstrong, entered North-
umberland.

“We marched without turning to the right or left, or staying
to attack town, castle, or house, till we crossed the river Tyne
and entered Durham. Then we began the war, burning,
ravaging, and slaying. I liked it not, for although when it
comes to fighting I am ready if needs be to bear my part, I
care not to attack peaceful people. It is true that your kings
have over and over again laid waste half Scotland, killing,
slaying, and hanging; but it does not seem to me any satis-

‘faction, because some twenty of my ancestors have been
murdered, to slay twenty people who were not born until long
afterwards, and whose forebears for aught I know may have
had no hand in the slaughter of mine. However, having
laden ourselves with plunder from Durham, we sat down for
three days before Newcastle, where we had some sharp skir-
mishes with Sir Henry and his brother Sir Ralph Percy, and
in one of these captured Sir Henry’s pennant.



24 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Then we marched away to Otterburn, after receiving
warning from Percy that he intended to win his pennant, back
again before we left Northumberland. We attacked Otterburn
Castle, but failed to carry it, for it was strong and well de-
fended. There was a council that night, and most of the
leaders were in favour of retiring at once to Scotland with the
abundance of spoil that we had gained. But Douglas per-
suaded them to remain two or three days and to capture the
castle, and not to go off as if afraid of Percy’s threats. So we
waited all the next day, and at night the Percys with 600
spears and 8,000 infantry came up. Our leaders had not been
idle; for they had examined the ground carefully, and arranged
how the battle should be fought if we were attacked.

“ Having heard nothing of the English all day, we lay down
to sleep, not expecting to hear aught of them until the morning.
It was a moonlight night, and, being in August, there was
but a short darkness between the twilights, and the English,
arriving, at once made an attack, falling first on the servants’
huts, which they took for those of the chiefs. This gave us
time to form up in good order, as we had lain down each in
his proper position. A portion of the force went down to
skirmish with the English in front, but the greater portion
marched along the mountain side and fell suddenly upon the
English flank. At first there was great confusion, but the
English being more numerous soon recovered their order and
pushed us back, though not without much loss on both sides.

“Douglas shouted his battle-cry, advanced his banner, fight-
ing most bravely, as did Sir Patrick Hepburn, but for whose
bravery the Douglas banner would have been taken, for the
Percys, hearing the cry of ‘a Douglas! a Douglas!’ pressed
to that part of the field and bore us backwards. I was in the
midst of it with ten of my kinsmen; and though we all fought
as became men, we were pressed back, and began to think that







>

ACROSS THE BORDER 25

the day would be lost. Then the young earl, furious at seeing
disaster threaten him, dashed into the midst of the English
ranks swinging his battle-axe, and for a time cutting a way
for himself. But one man’s strength and courage can go for
but little in such a fray. Some of his knights and squires had
followed him, but in the darkness it was but few who per-
ceived his advance.

“Presently three knights met him, and all their spears
pierced him, and he was borne from his horse mortally
wounded. Happily the English were unaware that it was
Douglas who had fallen. Had they known it, their courage
would have been mightily raised, and the day would assuredly
have been lost. We too were ignorant that Douglas had fallen,
and still fought on. In other parts of the field March and
Moray were holding their own bravely. Sir Ralph Percy, who
had, like Douglas, charged almost alone into Moray’s ranks,
was sorely wounded, and, being surrounded, surrendered: to
Sir John Maxwell. Elsewhere many captures were made by
both parties; ‘but as the fight went on the advantage turned
to our side, for we had rested all the day before, and began
the battle fresh, after some hours of sleep, while the English
had marched eight leagues and were weary when they began
the fight.

“‘Sir James Lindsay and Sir Walter Sinclair with some other
knights who had followed Douglas found him still alive. With
his last words he ordered them to raise his banner and to shout
‘Douglas !’ so that friends and foes should think that he was of
their party. These instructions they followed. We and others
pressed forwards on hearing the shout, and soon, a large party
being collected, resumed the battle at this point. Moray and
March both bore their arrays in the direction where they
believed Douglas to be battling, and so together we pressed
upon the English so hardly that they retreated, and for five



26 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

miles we pursued them very hotly. Very many prisoners were
taken, but all of quality were at once put to ransom and
allowed to depart, on giving their knightly word of payment
within fifteen days.

“Tt was a great victory, and in truth none of us well knew
how it had come about, for the English had fought as well and

valiantly as we did ourselves; but it is ill for wearied men.

to fight against fresh ones. Never was I more surprised than
when we found that the battle, which for a time had gone
mightily against us, was yet won in the end. Methinks that it
was to a great extent due to the fact that each Englishman
fought for himself, while we, having on the previous day re-
ceived the strictest orders to fight each man under his leader,
to hold together, and to obey orders in all respects, kept in our
companies, and so in the end gained the day against a foe as
brave and much more numerous than ourselves.”

“Thank you, Uncle Armstrong. I have often wondered how
it was that the Percys, being three to one against you, were yet
defeated, fighting on their own ground as it were. Tis long
indeed since we suffered so great a reverse.”

“That is true enough, Oswald. In the days of Wallace and
Bruce we Scots often won battles with long odds against us;
but that was because we fought on foot, and the English for
the most part on horseback, — a method good enough on an
open plain, but ill fitted for a land of morass and hill like
Scotland. Since the English also took to fighting on foot, the
chances have been equal, and we have repulsed invasions not
so much by force as by falling back, and so wasting the coun-
try that the English had but the choice of retreating or starving.
There is reason, indeed, why, when equal forces are arrayed
against each other, the chances should also be equal, for we
are come of the same stock, and the men of the northern
marches of England and those of Scotland are alike hardy and

&







ACROSS THE BORDER 27

accustomed to war. Were we but a united people as you
English are, methinks that there would never have been such
constant wars between us, for English kings would not have
cared to have invaded a country where they would find but
little spoil, and have hard work to take it. But our nobles
have always been ready to turn traitors; they are mostly of
Norman blood and Norman name, and no small part of them
have estates in England as well as in Scotland. Hence it is
that our worst enemies have always been in our midst. And
now it is time for bed, or you will be heavy in the morning ;
and I know that you intend starting at dawn with the dogs,
and have promised to bring in some hares for dinner.”

Not only Oswald and Allan, but Janet also, was afoot early,
and after taking a basin of porridge started for the hills, ac-
companied by four dogs. They carried with them bows and
arrows, in case the dogs should drive the hares within shot.
Six hours later they returned, carrying with them five hares
and a brace of birds. These had both fallen to Oswald’s bow,
being shot while on the ground, for in those days the idea that
it was unsportsmanlike to shoot game except when flying was
unknown. For a week they went out every day, sometimes
with the dogs, but more often with hawks, which were trained
to fly not only at birds in their flight, but at hares, on whose
heads they alighted, pecking them and beating them so fiercely
with their wings that they gave time for the party on foot to

“run up and despatch the quarry with an arrow.

Once or twice they accompanied Adam Armstrong when he
rode to some of the towns in the neighbourhood and spent the
day with friends of the Armstrongs there. For a fortnight the
time passed very pleasantly to the English lad, but at the end
of that time Adam Armstrong returned from a visit to Jed-
burgh with a grave face. ‘I have news,” he said, “ that your
King Richard has been deposed, that Henry, the Duke of



28 BOTH. SIDES THE BORDER

Lancaster, having landed in Yorkshire, was joined by Percy
and the Earl of Westmoreland, and has been proclaimed king.
This will cause great troubles in England, for surely there must
be many there who will not tamely see a king dethroned by
treasonable practices, and another having no just title to the
crown promoted to his place. Such a thing is contrary to all
reason and justice. A king has the same right to his crown as
a noble to his estates, and none may justly take them away
‘save for treasonable practices, and a king cannot commit
treason against himself. ‘Therefore it is like that there will be
much trouble in England, and I fear that there is no chance of
the truce that concludes at the end of this month being
continued.

“ The fact that the two great northern lords of England are
both with their forces in the south will further encourage
trouble, and the peace that with small intermissions has contin-
ued since the battle of Otterburn is like to be broken. ‘There-
fore, my lad, I think it best that you should cut short your
visit by a week, and you shall return and finish it when
matters have settled down. Here in Scotland we are not with-
out troubles ; ill-blood has arisen between March and Douglas,
owing to the Duke of Ramsay breaking his promise to marry
the Earl of March’s daughter and taking Douglas’s girl to wife.
This, too, has sorely angered one more powerful than either
Douglas or March—I mean, of course, Albany, who really
exercises the kingly power.

“But troubles in Scotland will in no way prevent war from
breaking out with England. On the contrary, the quarrel
between the two great lords of our marches will cause them to
loose their hold of the border men, .and I foresee that we shall
have frays and forays among ourselves again, as in the worst
times of old; therefore it were best that you went home.
While these things are going on, the private friendship between







ACROSS THE BORDER 29

so many families on either side of the border must be sus-
pended, and all intercourse, for maybe every man on either
side will be called to arms, and assuredly it will not be safe
for one of either nation to set foot across the border save
armed, and with a strong clump of spears at his back.”

“] shall be sorry indeed to go,” Oswald said, “ but I see
that if troubles do, as you fear, break out at the conclusion of
the peace a fortnight hence — Z

“ They may not wait for that,” Adam Armstrong interrupted
him. “A truce is only a truce so long as there are those
strong enough to enforce it, and with Douglas and March at
variance on our side, and Northumberland and Westmoreland
absent on yours, there are none to see that the truce is not
broken, and from what I hear it may not be many days before
we see the smoke of burning houses rising upon either side of
the border.”

«The more reason for my going home,” Oswald said. “My
father is not likely to be last in a fray, and assuredly he would
not like me to be away across the border when swords are
drawn. Iam very sorry, but I see that there is no help for it,
and to-morrow at daybreak I will start for home.”

That evening was the dullest Oswald had spent during his
visit. The prospect that the two nations might soon be engaged
in another desperate struggle saddened the young cousins, who
felt that a long time might elapse before they again met, and
that in the meantime their fathers, and possibly themselves,
might be fighting in opposite ranks. Although the breaches
of the truces caused, as a rule, but little bloodshed, being in
fact but cattle-lifting expeditions, it was very different in time
of war, when wholesale massacres, took place on both sides,
towns and villages were burned down, and the whole of the
inhabitants put to the sword. Ten years had sufficed to soften
the memory of these events, especially among young people,



30 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

but each had heard numberless stories of wrong and slaughter,
and felt that when war once again broke out in earnest, there
was little hope that there would be any change in the manner
in which it would be conducted.

Oswald rode rapidly until he had crossed the border. The
truce would not expire for another thirteen days, but the
raiders might be at work at any moment, for assuredly there
would be no chance of complaints being made on the eve of
recommencement of general hostilities. He met no one on the
road until he reached the first hamlet on the English side ; here
he stopped to give his horse half an hour’s rest and a feed.
As he dismounted, two or three of the villagers came up.

“Have you heard aught, lad, of any gatherings on the other
side of the border?”

“None from where I came; but there was a talk that
notices had been sent through the southern Scottish marches
for all to be in readiness to gather to the banner without delay
when the summons was received.”

“That is what we have heard,” a man said. “We have made
everything in readiness to drive off our cattle to the fells ; the
beacons are all prepared for lighting from Berwick down to
Carlisle, and assuredly the Scotch will find little near the
border to carry back with them. You are the son of stout
John Forster of Yardhope Keep, are you not? I saw you rid-
ing by his side two months since at Alwinton fair,”

“Yes, I was there with him.”

“He will have hot work if a Scotch army marches into
Tynedale. The Bairds will be sure to muster strongly, and
they won’t forgive the last raid on them, and whichever way
they go you may be sure that your father’s hold will receive
a visit.”

“Tt was but a return raid,”’ Oswald said. The Bairds. had
been down our way but a short time before and lifted all the





ACROSS THE BORDER 31

cattle and horses that they could lay hands on for miles
round.”

“That is true enough. We all know the thieving loons.
But men remember the injuries they have suffered better than
those they have inflicted, and they will count Allan Baird’s
death as more than a set-off for a score of their own
forays.”

“Tf we have only the Bairds to settle with, we can hold our
walls against them,’’ Oswald said; “but if the whole of the
Scotch army come our way, we must do as you are doing,
drive the cattle to the hills, and leave them to do what harm
they can to the stone walls, which they will find it hard work
to damage.”

“Ay, I have heard that they are stronger than ordinary,
and so they need be, seeing that you have a blood feud with
the Bairds. Well, they are not like to have much time to
waste over it, for our sheriff has already sent word here as to
the places where we are to gather when the beacon-fires are
lighted, and you may be sure that the Percys will lose no
time in marching against them with all their array; and the
Scots are like to find, as they have found before, that it is an
easier thing to cross the border than it is to get back.”

Late that evening Oswald returned home. After the first
greetings his father said: “It is high time that you were back,
Oswald. Rumour is busy all along the border; but for my-
- self, though I doubt not that their moss-troopers will be on
the move as soon as the truce ends, I think there will not be
any invasion in force for some little time. The great lords of
the Scotch marches are ill friends with each other, and until
the quarrel between Douglas and Dunbar is patched up,
neither will venture to march his forces into England. It
may be months yet before we see their pennons flying on
English soil. My brother Alwyn has been over here for a day



32 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

or two since you were away. The Percys are down south, so
he was free to ride over here.

“He wants us to send you to him without loss of time. He
Says that there is a vacancy in Percy’s household, owing to
one of his esquires being made a knight, and a page has been
promoted to an esquireship. He said that he spoke to Hot-
spur before he went south anent the matter, and asked him
to enroll you not exactly as a page, but as one who, from his
knowledge of the border, would be a safe and trusty messen-
ger to send in case of need. As he has served the Percys for
thirty years, and for ten has been the captain of their men-at-
arms, and has never asked for aught either for himself or his
relations, Percy gave him a favourable answer, and said that if
on his return he would present you to him, and he found that
you were a lad of manners that would be suitable for a mem-
ber of his household, he would grant his request, partly, too,
because my father and myself had always been stanch men,
and ready at all times to join his banner when summoned and
to fight doughtily. So there seems a good chance of prefer-
ment for you.

“Your mother is willing that you should go. She says, and
truly enough, that if you stay here it will be but to engage, as
I and my forebears have done, in constant feuds with the
Scots, harrying and being harried, never knowing when we
lie down to rest but that we may be woke up by the battle-
shout of the Bairds, and leaving behind us when we die no
more than we took from our fathers. I know not how your
own thoughts may run in the matter, Oswald, but methinks
that there is much in what she says, though for myself I wish
for nothing better than what Iam accustomed to. Percy would
have knighted me had I wished it years ago, but plain Jock
Forster I was born and so will I die when my time comes;
for it would alter my condition in no way, save that as Jock









ACROSS THE BORDER 33

Forster I can lead a raid across the border, but as Sir John
Forster it would be hardly seemly for me to do so save when
there is open war between the countries.

“It is different in your case; you are young, and can fit
yourself to another mode of life, and can win for yourself with
your sword a better fortune than you will inherit from me.
Besides, lad, I am like enough, unless a Baird spear finishes
me sooner, to live another thirty years yet, and it is always
sure to lead to trouble if there are two cocks in one farmyard.
You would have your notions as to how matters should be
done, and I should have mine; and so for many reasons it is
right that you should go out into the world. If matters go
well with you, all the better; if not, you will always be wel-
come back here, and will be master when I am gone. What
say you?”

“Tt comes suddenly upon me, father; but as I have always
thought that I should like to see something of the world be-
yond our own dales, I would gladly, for a time at least, accept
my uncle’s offer, which is a rare one and far beyond my hopes.
I should be sorry to leave you and my mother, but save for
that, it seems to me, as to you, that it would be best for me to
go out into the world for a time.”

“Then that is settled, and to-morrow you shall ride to Aln-
wick and see, at any rate, if aught comes of the matter. Do
not cry, wife; it is your counsel that I am acting upon, and
you have told me you are sure that it is best that he should
go. It is not as if he were taking service with a southern
lord. He will be but a day’s ride away from us, and doubtless
will be able to come over at times and stay a day or two with
us; and once a year, when times are peaceable, you shall ride
behind me on ‘a pillion to see how things go with him at the
Percys’ castle. At any rate, it will be better by far than if he
had carried out that silly fancy of his for putting himself in

3



84 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

the hands of the monks and learning to read and write, which
would perchance have ended in his shaving his crown and
taking to a cowl, and there would have been an end of the
Forsters of Yardhope. Now put that cold joint upon the
table again; doubtless the lad has a wolf's appetite.”

There was no time lost. The next day was spent in looking
out his clothes and packing his valise by his mother, while he
rode round the country to say good-bye to some of his friends.
The next morning at daybreak he started, and at nightfall
rode into the castle of Alnwick and inquired for Alwyn For-
ster. The two men-at-arms, who had regarded his appearance
on his shaggy border horse with scarce concealed contempt, at
once answered civilly that the captain would be found in his
room in the north turret. They then pointed out to him the
stables where he could bestow his horse, and having seen some
hay placed before it, and a feed of barley, to which the animal
was but little accustomed, Oswald made his way up the turret
to the room in which his uncle lodged.

The stately castle, and the beauty as well as the strength of
the Percys’ great stronghold, had in no small degree surprised
and almost awed the lad, accustomed only to the rough border
holds. It was situated on rising ground on the river Aln, and
consisted of a great keep, which dated back to the times of the
Saxons, and three courts, each of which were indeed separate
fortresses, the embattled gates being furnished with portcullises
and strong towers. Within the circuit of its walls it contained
some five acres of ground with sixteen towers, the outer wall
being surrounded by a moat.

The Percys were descended from a Danish chief, who was
one of the conquerors of Normandy, and settled there. The
Percy of the time came over with William the Norman, and
obtained from him the gift of large possessions in the south
of England and in Yorkshire, and, marrying a great Saxon







ACROSS THE BORDER 35

heiress, added to his wide lands in the north. One of the
Percys in the reign of Henry II. made a journey to Jerusalem,
and died in the Holy Land. None of his four sons survived
him. His eldest daughter Maude married the Earl of War-
wick, but, dying childless, her sister Agnes became sole heir to
the broad lands of the Percys. She married the son of the
Duke of Brabant, the condition of her marriage being that he
should either take the arms of the Percys instead of his own,
or continue to bear his own arms and take the name of Percy.
He chose the latter alternative. Their son was one of the
barons who forced King John to grant the Magna Charta.
The Percys always distinguished themselves in the wars against
the Scots, and received at various times grants of territory in that
country, one of them being made Earl of Carrick when Robert
the Bruce raised the standard of revolt against England.

Upon the other hand, they not unfrequently took a share in
risings against the Kings of England, and their estates were
confiscated for a time by their taking a leading part in the
action against Piers Gaveston, the royal favourite. It was in
the reign of Henry II. that the Percy of the time obtained by
purchase the Barony of Alnwick, which from that date became
the chief seat of the family. The present earl was the first
of the rank, having been created by Richard II. He was one
of the most powerful nobles in England, and it was at his invita-
tion that Henry of Lancaster had come over from France and
-had been placed on the throne by the Percys and some other
of the northern nobles, and as a reward for his service the
earl was created High Constable of England.



36 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

CHAPTER III
AT ALNWICK

OU are rarely changed, Oswald,” his uncle said as the
lad entered his apartment. “’Tis three years since
I last saw you, and you have shot up nigh a head since then.”
I should not have known you had I met you in the street, but
as I was expecting you, it is easy to recall your features. I
made sure that you would come, for although your father was
at first averse to my offer I soon found that your mother was
on my side, and I know that in the long run my brother
generally gives in to her wishes; and I was sure that as you
were a lad of spirit you would be glad to try a flight from
home. You are growing up mightily like your father, and
promise to be as big and as strong as we both are; your eyes
speak of a bold disposition, and my brother tells me that you
are already well practised with your arms. You understand
that it is Sir Henry, whom they call Hotspur, that you are to
serve. As to the earl, he is too great a personage for me to
ask a favour from, but Sir Henry is different.

“JT taught him the first use of his arms, and many a bout
have I had with him. He treats me as a comrade rather than
as the captain of his father’s men-at-arms here; and when I
spoke to him about you he said at once, ‘ Bring him here, and
we will see what we can do for him. If he is a fellow of parts
and discretion, I doubt not that we can make him useful. You
say he knows every inch of our side of the border and some-
thing of the Scottish side of it, his mother’s sister being mar-
ried to one of the Armstrongs. There is like to be trouble
before long. You know the purpose for which I am going







AT ALNWICK 387

away; and the Scots are sure to take advantage of changes
in England, and a youth who can ride, and knows the border,
and can, if needs be, strike a blow in self-defence, will not
have to stay idle in the castle long. His father is a stout with-
stander of the Scots, and the earl would have given him knight-
hood if he would have taken it, and maybe in the future the son
will win that honour. He is too old for a page, and I should
say too little versed in our ways for such a post, but I promise
you that when he is old enough he shall be one of my esquires.’
So you may soon have an opportunity of showing Hotspur
what you are made of. And now I doubt not that you are
hungry; I will send down to the buttery for a couple of
tankards and a pasty. I had my supper two hours ago, but I
doubt not that I can keep you company in another.”

He went to the window and called out, “John Horn!”
The name was repeated below, and in two minutes a servant
came up. The captain gave him directions, and they shortly
sat down to a substantial meal.

“The first thing to do, lad, will be to get you garments
more suitable to the Percys’ castle than those you have on;
they are good enough to put on under armour or when you ride
in a foray ; but here one who would ride in the train of the
Percys must make a brave show. It is curfew now, but to-morrow
early we will sally into the town, where we shall find a good
choice of garments for men of all conditions. You hold your-
self well, and you have something of your mother’s softness of |
speech, and will, I think, make a good impression on Sir
Henry when suitably clad. You see, there are many sons of
knights of good repute and standing who would be glad indeed
that their sons should obtain a post in Hotspur’s personal fol-
lowing, and who might grumble were they passed over in
favour of one who, by his appearance, was of lower condition
than themselves.



38 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

John Forster is well known on the border as a valiant
fighter and a leading man in Coquetdale. It is known, too,
that he might have been knighted had he chosen, and doubt-
less there are many who, having heard that his hold is one of
the strongest on the border, give him credit for having far
wider possessions than that bit of moor round the hold, and
grazing rights for miles beyond it. If, then, you make a brave
show, none will question the choice that Hotspur may make ;
but were you to appear in that garb you have on, they might
well deem that your father is, after all, but a moss-trooper. He
told me that you had once a fancy to learn to read and write.
What put that idea into your head? I do not say that it was
not a good one, but at least it was a strange one for a lad
brought up as you have been.”

*“T think, uncle, that it was rather my mother’s idea than
my own; she thought that it might conduce to my advance-
ment should I ever leave the hold and go out into the world.”

« She was quite right, Oswald, and ’tis a pity that you did
not go for a couple of years to a monastery. It is a good
thing to be able to read an order.or to write one, for many of
the lords and knights can dono more than make a shift to sign
their names. As for books, I say nothing, for I see not what
manner of good they are, but father Ernulf, who is chaplain
here, tells me that one who gives his mind to it can in a year
learn enough to write down, not in a clerkly hand, but in one
that can be understood, any letter or order his lord may
wish sent, or to read for him any that he receives. In most
matters, doubtless, an order by word of mouth is just as good
as one writ on vellum, but there are times when a messenger
could not be trusted to deliver one accurately as he receives it,
or it might have to be passed on from hand to hand. Other-
wise a spoken message is the best, for ifa messenger be killed
on the way none are the wiser as to the errand on which he is



AT ALNWICK 89

going, while, if a parchment is found on him, the first priest
or monk can translate its purport. The chaplain has two
younger priests with him, and should you be willing I doubt
not that one of these would give you instruction for an hour or
two of a day. The Percys may not be back for another month
or two, and if you apply yourself to it honestly you might learn
something by that time.”

“T should like it very much, uncle.”

“Then, so it shall be, lad. For two or three hours a day
you must practise in arms, ——I have some rare swordsmen
among my fellows, — but for the rest of the time you will be
your own master. I will speak with father Ernulf in the morn-
ing after we have seen to the matter of your garments.”

A straw pallet was brought up to the chamber, and after
chatting for half an hour about his visit to the Armstrongs,
Oswald took off his riding-boots and jerkin, the total amount
of disrobing usual at that time on the border, and was soon
asleep.

“T am afraid, uncle,” he said in the morning, “that the
furnishment of the purse my father gave me at starting will
not go far towards what you may consider necessary for my
outfit.”

“That need not trouble you at all, lad. I told your father
I should take all charges upon myself, having no children of
my own, and no way to spend my money, therefore I can
afford well to do as I like towards you. Once the war begins,
you will fill your purse yourself, for although the peoples of
the towns and villages suffer by the Scotch incursions, we men-
at-arms profit by a war. We have nought that they can take
from us but our lives, while we take our share of the booty,
and have the ransom of any knights or gentlemen we may
make prisoners.”

Accordingly they went into Alnwick, and Alwyn Forster



40 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

bought for his nephew several suits of clothes suitable for a
young gentleman of good family, together with armour of
much more modern fashion than that to which Oswald was
-accustomed. When they returned to the castle the lad was
told to put on one of these suits at once.

“Make your old ones up in a bundle,” his uncle said.
“There may be occasions when you may find such clothes
useful, though here assuredly they are out of place. Now I
will go with you to father Ernulf.”

The priest’s abode was in what was called the Abbots’
Tower, which was the one nearest to the large monastery out-
side the walls.

“T told you, father,” the captain said, “that belike my
nephew would join me here, as I was going to present him to
Sir Henry Percy. The good knight will not be back again
mayhap for some weeks, and the lad has a fancy to learn to
read and write, and I thought you might put him in the way
of his attaining such knowledge.”

“ He looks as if the sword will suit his hand better than the
pen,” the priest said with a smile, as his eye glanced over the
lad’s active figure. ‘“ But surely, if he is so inclined, I shall be
glad to further his wishes. There is a monk at the monastery
who, although a good scholar, is fitted rather for the army
than the Church. He was one of our teachers, but in sooth had
but little patience with the blunders of the children; but I am
sure that he would gladly give his aid to a lad like this, and
would bear with him if he really did his best. I have nought
to do at present, and will go down with him at once and talk
to friar Roger. If the latter would rather have nought to do
with it, one of my juniors shall undertake the task; but I am
sure that the friar would make a better instructor, if he would
take it in hand.

“ He is a stout man-at-arms -— for, as you know, when the



Sen

AT ALNWICK 41

Scots cross the border, the abbot always sends a party of his
stoutest monks to fight in Percy’s ranks, as is but right, seeing
that the Scots plunder a monastery as readily as a village.
Friar Roger was the senior in command under the sub-prior
of the monks who fought at Otterburn, and all say that none
fought more stoutly, and the monks were the last to fall back
on that unfortunate day. They say that he incurred many
penances for his unchurchly language during the fight, but
that the abbot remitted them on account of the valour that
he had shown.”

Accordingly the priest went off with Oswald to the monas-
tery, while Alwyn Forster remained to attend to his duties as
captain of the men-at-arms. On his saying that he wished to
see the friar Roger, the priest was shown into a waiting-room,
where the monk soon joined them. He was a tall, powerful
man, standing much over six feet in height, and of propor-
tionate width of shoulders. He carried his head erect, and
looked more like a man-at-arms in disguise than a monk. He
bent his head to the priest, and then said in a hearty tone:

“Well, father Ernulf, what would you with me to-day?
You have no news of the Scots having crossed the border, and
I fear that there is no chance at present of my donning a
cuirass over my gown?”

“ None at present, brother, though it may well be so before
long. I hope that we shall soon have the earl and his son

“back again, for the Scots are sure to take advantage of their

absence now that the truce is expired. No, I want you on
other business. This young gentleman is the nephew of
Alwyn Forster, whom you know.”
“Right well, father, a good fellow and a stout fighter.”
“He is about to enter Sir Henry’s household,” the priest
went on; “but seeing that the knight is still away, and may
be absent for some weeks yet, the young man is anxious to



42 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

learn to read and write —not from any idea of entering the
Church,” he broke off with a smile at the expression of surprise
on the monk’s face, “but that it may be useful to him in
procuring advancement. I have therefore brought him to you,
thinking that you would make a far better teacher for a lad
like him than your brothers in the school. I thought perhaps
that if I spoke to the abbot he might release you from your
attendance at some of the services for such a purpose.”

“That is a consideration,” the monk laughed. “ Well,
young sir, I tell you fairly that among my gifts is not that of
patience with fools. If you are disposed to work right heartily,
as I suppose you must be or you would not make such a
request, I on my part will do my best to teach you; but you
must not mind if sometimes you get a rough buffet to assist
your memory.”

“I should doubt whether a buffet from you would not be
more likely to confuse my memory than to assist it,’ Oswald
said with a smile; “but at any rate I am ready to take my
chance, ‘and can promise to do my best to avoid taxing your
patience to that point.”

“That will do, father,” the monk said. “He is a lad of
spirit, and it is a pleasure to train one of that kind. As to
the puny boys they send to be made monks because, forsooth,
they are likely to grow up too weak for any other calling, I
have no patience with them, and I get into sore disgrace
with the abbot for my shortness of temper.”

“Tam afraid, from what I hear,” the priest said, shaking his
head, but unable to repress a smile, “that you are often in
disgrace, brother Roger.”

“T fear that it is so, and were it not that I am useful in
teaching the lay brothers and the younger monks the use of
the carnal weapons, I know that before this I should have
been bundled out, neck and crop. ’Tis hard, father, for a



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AT ALNWICK 43

man of my inches to be shut up here when there is so much
fighting to be done abroad.”

“There is good work to be done everywhere,” the priest
said gravely. ‘Many of us may have made a mistake in
choosing our vocations, but, if so, we must make the best
we can of what is before us.”

“What time will you come?” the monk asked Oswald.

“My uncle said that he would suit my hours to yours; but
that if it was all the same to you I should practise in arms
from six o’clock till eight, and again for an hour or two in the
evening, so that I could come to you either in the morning or
afternoon.”

“ Come at both if you will,” the monk said. “If the good
father can get me off the services from eight till six, you can
be with me all that time save at the dinner-hour. You have
but a short time to learn in, and must give yourself heartily to
it. There is the chapel bell ringing now, and I must be off.
. The abbot will not be present at this. service, father, and if
you will you can see him now. I doubt not that he will grant
your request, for I know that I anger him every time I am in
chapel. I am fond of music, and I have a voice like a bull,
and do what I will it will come out in spite of me; and he says
that my roaring destroys the effect of the whole choir.”

So saying he strode away.

“ Do you wait outside the gates, my son,” the priest said.
~“T shall be only a few minutes with the abbot, who, as friar
Roger says, will, I doubt not, be glad enough to grant him
leave to abstain from attendance at the services.”

In a short time indeed he rejoined Oswald at the gate.

“That matter was managed easily enough,” he said. “The
abbot has himself a somewhat warlike disposition, which is not
to be wondered at, seeing that he comes from a family ever
ready to draw the sword, and he has therefore a liking for



44. BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

friar Roger, in spite of his contumacies, breaches of regula-
tions, and quarrels with the other monks. He is obliged to
continually punish him with sentences of seclusion, penance,
and fasting, but methinks it goes against the grain. He said
at once that he was delighted to hear that he had voluntarily
undertaken some work that would keep him out of trouble,
and that he willingly, and indeed gladly, absolved him from
attendance in chapel during the hours that he was occupied
with you.”

“ He is not without his uses,” he said. “He is in special
charge of the garden, and looks after the Jay brothers em-
ployed in it. J will put someone else in charge while he is
busy, though I doubt if any will get as much work out of the
lay brothers as he does, and indeed he himself labours harder
than any of them. With any other I should say that tucking
his gown round his waist and labouring with might and main
was unseemly, but as it works off some of his superabundant
energy, I do not interfere with him.”

“ How ever did he become a monk, father?”

“It seems that he was a somewhat sickly child, and his
father sent him to the monastery to be taught with a view to
entering the Church. He was quick and bright in his parts,
but as his health improved he grew restless, and at fifteen
refused to follow the vocation marked out for him, and re-
turned home, where, as I have heard, he took part in various
daring forays across the border. When he was five-and-twenty
he was wounded well-nigh to death in one of these, and he
took it as a judgment upon him for deserting the Church, so
he returned here and became a lay brother. He was a very
long time before he recovered his full strength, and before he
did so he became a monk, and I believe has bitterly regretted
the fact ever since. Some day, I am afraid, he will break the
bounds altogether, throw away his gown, assume a breast-plate



AT ALNWICK 45

and steel cap, and become an unfrocked monk. I believe he
fights hard against his inclinations, but they are too strong
for him. If war breaks out I fear that some day he will be
missing. He will, of course, go down south, where he will be
unknown, and where, when the hair on his tonsure has grown,
he can well pass as a man-at-arms, and take service with some
warlike lord. I trust that it may not be so, but he will
assuredly make a far better man-at-arms than he will ever
make a good monk.”

The next morning, after practising for two hours with sword
and pike, Oswald went down at eight o’clock to the monastery
and was conducted to friar Roger's cell. The latter at once
began his instruction, handing him a piece of blackened board
and a bit of chalk.

“ Now,” he said, “ you must learn to read and write together.
There are twenty-six letters, and of each there is a big one
and a little one. The big ones are only used at the beginning
ofasentence. That is where, if you were talking, you would
stop to take breath and begin afresh, and also at the first
letter of the names of people and places. The first letter is
‘A. There it is, in that horn-book, you see. It looks like
two men or two trees leaning against each other for support,
with a line which might be their hands, in the middle. Now
make a letter like that on your board. The little ‘a,’ is a
small circle with an upright with a tail to it; you might fancy
it a fish with its tail turned up. Now write each of those
twelve times.”’

So he continued with the first six letters.

“That will be as much as you will remember at first,’ he
said. ‘Now we will begin spelling with those letters, and you
will see how they are used. You see it is a mixture of the
sounds of the two: ‘ba’ makes ba, and ‘be’ be, ‘ca’ ca,
‘da’ da, ‘de’ de, and so on. Now we will work it out.”



46 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Oswald was intelligent, and anxious to learn. He had been
accustomed, when riding, to notice every irregularity of ground,
every rock and bush that might serve as a guide if lost ina
fog, and he very quickly took in the instruction given him;
and by the time the convent bell rung to dinner, he had made
a considerable progress with the variations that could be
formed with the six letters that he had learned, and the friar
expressed himself as highly satisfied with him.

“You have learned as much in one morning as many of the
boys who attend schools would learn in a month,” he said.
“Tf you go on like this, I will warrant that if Percy delays his
return for two months, you will know as much as many who
have been two years at the work. I have always said that it
is a mistake to teach children young; their minds do not take
in what you say to them. You may beat it into them, but
they get it only by rote, and painfully, because they don’t
understand how one thing leads to another, and it is their
memory only, and not their minds that are at work.”

The next day came news that the Scotch had crossed the
border, and there was great excitement in the castle; but it
was soon learned that the invasion was not on a great scale,
neither the Douglases nor the Earl of March having taken
part in it. :

“There is no fear of our being attacked here,”’ Alwyn Forster
said to Oswald. “The sheriffs of the county will call out their
levies, and will soon make head against them. At the same
time we shall make preparations against any chance of their
coming hither.”

This was done. Vast quantities of arrows were prepared,
stones collected and carried up to the points on the wall most
exposed to attack, and orders sent out by the governor of the
castle in the Percys’ absence, to the people for many miles
round, that on the approach of the Scots all were to retire to



AT ALNWICK AT

refuge, the women and children taking to the hills, while the
men capable of bearing arms were to hasten to the defence of
the castle. For a time the Scots carried all before them,
wasting and devastating the country. Oswald heard that
they had captured without resistance his father’s hold. He
rejoiced at the news, for he feared that, not knowing the
strength of the invading force, resistance might have been
attempted, in which case all in the hold might have been put
to the sword. He had no doubt now that his father and
mother had retired with their followers to the hills, as they
had always determined to do in case of an invasion by a force
too strong to resist.

Had the Percys been at home they might have held out,
confident that the Scotch would be attacked before they could
effect its capture, but as all the northern lords with their re-
tainers were away in the south it would be some time before a
force could be collected that could make head against the Scots.
A portion of the Scottish army laid siege to the castle of Wark
on the Tweed. This castle had always played a conspicuous
part in the border wars. It had been besieged and captured
by David of Scotland in the reign of Stephen, and two or
three years later was again besieged, but this time repulsed all
attacks. David, after his defeat at the battle of the Standard,
resumed the siege. It again repulsed all attacks, but at last
was reduced to an extremity by famine, and capitulated.

The castle was demolished by the Scots, but was rebuilt by
Henry the Second. In 1215 it was again besieged, this time
by King John, who resented the defection of the northern
barons, and it was captured and again destroyed. In 1318 it
was captured and destroyed by Robert Bruce. In 1341 it was
besieged by David Bruce, but held out until relieved by King
Edward himself. In 1383 it was again besieged by the Scots
and part of its fortifications demolished. On the present



48 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

occasion it was again captured and razed to the ground.
Another portion of the Scottish army, plundering and burning,
advanced along the valley of the Coquet. As they approached,
the inhabitants of the district round Alnwick began to pour
into the castle, but orders were issued that all the fighting men
should join the force of Sir Robert Umfraville, the sheriff of
the district, who was gathering a force to give the Scots battle.

“T fear that there is small chance of the Scots making their
way hither,” Oswald’s instructor said in lugubrious tones.
“Sir Robert is a stout fighter, and the Scots, laden as they
must be with booty, and having hitherto met with no resist-
ance, will be careless and like to be taken by surprise. Me-
thinks the abbot ought to send off a contingent to aid Sir
Robert.”

Oswald laughed. “I suppose he wants to keep them for
more urgent work, and thinks that the Church should only
fight when in desperate straits. However, father, you may
have an opportunity yet, for we cannot regard it as certain
that Sir Robert will defeat the Scots.”

Three days later, however, the news arrived that Sir Robert
had attacked the Scots at Fulhetlaw and utterly defeated them,
taking prisoner Sir Richard Rutherford and his five sons,
together with Sir William Stewart, John Turnbull, a noted
border reiver, and many others, and that those who had
escaped were in full flight for the border. The Scotch incur-
sion had made no change in Oswald’s work. He continued
to study hard with the monk. As a rule he fully satisfied
his teacher, but at times, when he failed to name the letters
required to make up a certain sound, the latter lost all patience
with him and more than once with difficulty restrained himself
from striking him. Spelling in those days, however, had by
no means crystallised itself into any definite form, and there
was so large a latitude allowed that if the letters used gave



AT ALNWICK 49

an approximate sound to the word, it was deemed sufficient.
The consequence was that Oswald’s education progressed at a
speed that would in these more rigid days be deemed impossible.

He was intensely interested in the work, and even his
martial exercises were for the time secondary to it in his
thoughts. He felt so deeply grateful to his instructor that
even if he had struck him he would have cared but little. In
those days rough knocks were readily given, and the idea that
there was anything objectionable in a boy being struck had
never been entertained by anyone. Wives were beaten not
uncommonly, servants frequently, and, from the highest to the
lowest, corporal punishment was regarded as the only way to
ensure the carrying out of orders. Oswald was slower in
learning to write down the letters than he was to read them.
His hands were so accustomed to the rein, the bow, and the
sword that they bungled over the work of forming letters.
Nevertheless by the time the Percys returned, three months
and a half after his arrival at the castle, he could both read
and write short and simple words, and as these formed a large
proportion of English speech at the time, he had made a con-
siderable step in the path of learning, and the monk was highly
pleased with his pupil.

“J shall not be able to come to-morrow, father,” he said to
the monk one day. “The earl and Sir Henry will be back to-
night, and my uncle says that I must keep near him to-morrow,
so that if opportunity offers he may present me to the knight.”

“J feared it would come to that,” the monk said. “I wish
they had all stopped away another three or four months, then
you would have got over your difficulty of piecing together
syllables so as to make up a long word. ‘Tis a thousand
pities that you should stop altogether, just when you are get-
ting on so well.”

« [ will come as often as I can, father, if you will let me.”

4



50 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“No, no, lad; I know what it is when the family are at
home. It will be, ‘Here, Oswald, ride with such a message ;’
or Hotspur himself may be going out with a train, and you
will have to accompany him. ‘There will always be something.
Indeed, save but for your teaching, it is high time that the
Percys were back again, for there has already been a great
deal of hot work on the border, and report says that the Scots
are mustering strongly, and that there is going to be a great
raid into Cumberland; so you will be busy and so shall I.
The lay brothers have made but a poor hand of it while I have
been busy. I went down in the evening yesterday to see them
drill, and it was as much as I could do to prevent myself from
falling upon them and giving them a lesson of a different sort.
As it was, I gave it to their instructor heartily, and was had
up before the abbot on his complaint this morning, and am to
eat Lenten fare for the next ten days, which accords but ill
either with my liking or needs.” :

In the evening the court-yard was ablaze with torches, as
amid the cheers of the garrison the Earl of Northumberland
and his son rode in with a strong body of men-at-arms. The
greater portion of the following with which they had met
Henry of Lancaster on his landing, and escorted him to Lon-
don, had long since returned to their homes, being released
from service when it was seen that no opposition was to be
looked for from the adherents of Richard. The followings of
the various nobles and knights of the northern counties had
left the main body on the way home, and Northumberland had
brought with him to Alnwick only the men-at-arms who formed
the regular force retained under his standard.

Oswald was greatly struck with the splendid appearance and
appointments of the earl and the knights who attended him,
and with the martial array of his followers. Hitherto he had
seen but the roughest side of war, the arms and armour carried



AT ALNWICK 51

not for show but for use, and valued for their strength without
any reference to their appearance. On the border there was
not the smallest attempt at uniformity in appearance, polished
armour was regarded with disfavour, and that worn was of the
roughest nature, the local armourer’s only object being to
furnish breast and back pieces that would resist the strongest
spear-thrust. Of missiles they made little account, for the
Scots had but few archers, and their bows were so inferior in
strength to those carried by the English archers that armour
strong enough to resist a spear-thrust was amply sufficient to
keep out a Scottish arrow.

There was not, even in the array of the Earl of Northum-
berland’s men-at-arms, any approach to the uniformity that
now prevails among bodies of soldiers. The helmets, breast
and back pieces, were, however, of similar form, as the men
engaged for continued service were furnished with armour by
the earl; but there was a great variety in the garments worn
under them, these being of all colours, according to the fancy
of their wearers. All, however, carried spears of the same
length, while some had swords, and others heavy axes at their
girdles. The helmets and armour were all brightly polished,
and as the lights of the torches flashed from them and from
the spear-heads, Oswald for the first time witnessed something
of the pomp of war. His uncle, as captain of the men-at-arms
left in the castle, was invited to the banquet held after the
arrival of the force. Oswald, therefore, was free to wander
about among the soldiers, listening to their talk of what they
had seen in London, and of the entertainments there in
honour of the new king, exciting thereby no small amount of
envy among those who had been left behind in garrison.
Oswald already knew that the earl had been appointed Con-
stable of England for life, and now heard that the lordship of
the Isle of Man had since been conferred on him.



52 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

CHAPTER IV
AN UNEQUAL JOUST

OU must don your best costume to-morrow, Oswald,” his
uncle said, when he returned from the banquet. “Sir
Henry Percy’s first question, after asking as to the health of
the garrison, was, ‘Has this nephew of yours, of whom you
were speaking to me, come yet?’ I told him that you had
been here well-nigh four months, that you had been practising
in arms with my best swordsmen, who spoke highly of you,
and that the whole of your spare time had been spent at the
monastery, where, you had been studying to acquire the art of
reading and writing, thinking that such knowledge must be
useful to you in his service. I told him that brother Roger
had reported that you had shown marvellous sharpness there,
and could already read from a missal, barring only some of the
long words.

“Oh, he had the fighting monk for his master!’ Sir Henry
said laughing. ‘Truly he must have been a good pupil if he
has come out of it without having his head broken a dozen
times. The friar is a thorn in the abbot’s flesh, and more than
once I have had to beg him off or he would have been sent to
the monastery of St. John, which is a place of punishment for
refractory monks. But in truth he is an honest fellow, though
he has mistaken his vocation. He is a valiant man-at-arms,
and the abbot’s contingent would be of small value without him.
Well, I will see your nephew in the morning. His perseverance
in learning, and his quickness in acquiring it, show him to be a
youth of good parts and intelligent, but until I see him I can-
not say what I will make of him.’ ”



AN UNEQUAL JOUST 53

Accordingly, the next morning the lad accompanied his
uncle to Sir Henry’s private apartment, and found the knight
alone. Sir Henry, Lord Percy, was now about forty years old.
He had received the order of knighthood at the coronation of
Richard IlI., when his father was created earl, and nine years
later he was made governor of Berwick and Warden of the
Marches, in which office he displayed such activity in following
up and punishing raiders that the Scots gave him the name of
Hotspur. He was then sent to Calais, where he showed great
valour. Two years later he was made Knight of the Garter,
and was then appointed to command a fleet sent out to repel a
threatened invasion by the French. Here he gained so great a
success that he came to be regarded as one of the first captains
of the age.

At Otterburn his impetuosity cost him his freedom, for,
pressing forward into the midst of the Scotch army, he and his
brother Ralph were taken prisoners and carried into Scot-
land. He had just been appointed by King Henry sheriff of
Northumberland, and governor of Berwick and Roxburgh, and
received other marks of royal favour. Although of no remark-
able height, his broad shoulders and long sinewy arms testified
to his remarkable personal strength. His face was pleasant
and open, and showed but small sign of his impetuous and
fiery disposition.

“So this is the young springal,” he said with a smile, as
with a quick glance he took in every detail of Oswald’s figure
and appearance. “ By my troth you have not overpraised him.
He bears himself well, and is like to be a stout fighter when
he comes to his full strength; indeed, as the son of John
Forster of Yardhope, and as your nephew, good Alwyn, he
could scarce be otherwise, although I have not heard that
either his father or you ever showed any disposition for
letters.”



54 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“No, indeed, Sir Henry ; nor have we, as far as I have ever
seen, been any the worse for our lack of knowledge on that
head ; but with the lad here it is different. Under your good
patronage he may well hope to attain, by good conduct and
valour, a promotion where book-learning may be of use to him,
and therefore, when he expressed a desire to learn, I did my
best to favour his design.”

“ And you did well, Alwyn. And since he has gained so
much in so short a time, it were a pity he should not follow it
up; and he shall, if it likes him, so long as he is in this castle,
have two hours every morning in which he can visit the fight-
ing monk, until he can read and write freely. Now, young
sir, the question is, how can we best employ you. You are too
old for a lady’s bower, but not old enough yet for an esquire.”

“ NorcouldI aspire to such 4 position, my lord, until I have
proved myself worthy of it. My uncle told me that he had
suggested that I might be useful as a bearer of messages and
orders, and as I know every foot of the border from near Berwick
to Cumberland, methinks that I might serve you in that way.
I ride lightly, know every morass and swamp, and every road
through the fells, and have at times, when there was peace,
crossed the Cheviots by several of the passes to pay visits to
my mother’s sister, who is married to one of the Armstrongs
near Jedburgh. If your lordship will deign to employ me in
such service I can promise to do so safely and to justify my
uncle’s recommendation, and shall be ready at all times to risk
my life in carrying out your orders.”

“ Well spoken, lad. I like the tone of your voice and your
manner of speech. ‘They are such as will do no discredit to my
household, and I hereby appoint you to it; further matters I
will discuss with your uncle.”

Oswald expressed his thanks in suitable terms, and then,
bowing deeply, retired.



AN UNEQUAL JOUST 55

“ A very proper lad, Alwyn. I would have done much for
you, old friend, and would have taken him in some capacity,
whatever he might have turned out; but, frankly, I doubted
whether John Forster, valiant moss-trooper as he is, would have
been like to have had a son whom I could enroll in my house-
hold, where the pages and esquires are all sons of knights and
men of quality, It is true that his father might have been a
knight had he chosen, since the earl offered him that honour
after Otterburn, for three times he charged at the head of a
handful of his own men right into the heart of the Scottish
army, to try and rescue me; but he has always kept aloof in
his own hold, going his own way and fighting for his own
hand, and never once that I can recall has he paid a visit to us
here or at our other seats. I feared that under such a training
as he would be likely to have the lad would have been but a
rough diamond. However, from his appearance and bearing
he might well have come of a noble family.”

“Tis his mother’s doing, methinks, Sir Henry. She is of
gentle birth. Her father was Sir Walter Gillespie. He was
killed by the Scots when she was but a girl, or methinks he
would scarcely have given her in marriage to my brother John.
She went with a sister to live with an old aunt, who let the
gitls have their way without murmur, and seeing that they had
no dowry, for their father was but a poor knight, there were
not many claimants for their hands; and when she chose John
Forster, and her sister Adam Armstrong, she did not say them
nay. She has made a good wife to him, though she must have
had many an anxious hour, and doubtless it is her influence
that has made the lad what he is.”

“ How think you I had best bestow him, among the pages
or the esquires?” *

“T should say, Sir Henry, as you are good enough to ask
my opinion, that it were best among the esquires. It would

\



56 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

be like putting a hunting dog among a lady’s pets to put him
with the pages. Moreover, boys think more of birth than men
do; the latter judge by merit, and when they see that the lad
has something in him, would take to him; whereas were he
with the pages there might be quarrels, and he might fall into
disgrace.”

“T think that you are right, Alwyn. He might get a buffet
or two from the esquires, but he will be none the worse for
that; while with the pages it might be bickering and ill-will.
He shall take his chance with the squires. Bring him to me
at twelve o’clock and I will myself present him to them with
such words as may gain their good-will, and make the way as
easy as may be for him.”

Accordingly at twelve o’clock Oswald went to Hotspur’s
room, and was taken by him to the hall where the esquires,
six in number, had just finished a meal. They varied in age
from eighteen to forty. They all rose as their lord entered.

“T wish to present to you this young gentleman, my friends.
He is the son of John Forster of Yardhope, whose name is
familiar to you all as one of the most valiant of the defenders
of the border against the Scottish incursions. None distin-
guished themselves more at the battle of Otterburn, where he
performed feats of prodigious valour in his endeavours to
rescue me and my brother from the hands of the Scots. The
earl my father offered him knighthood, but he said bluntly
that he preferred remaining, like his father, plain John Forster
of Yardhope. The lad’s mother is a daughter of Sir Walter
Gillespie, and he is nephew of Alwyn, captain of the men-at-
arms here. He knows every foot of the border, its morasses,
fells, and passes, and will prove a valuable messenger when I
have occasion to send orders to the border knights and yeo-
men. I have attached him to my household. You will find
him intelligent and active. He comes of a fighting stock, and



AN UNEQUAL JOUST 57

will, I foresee, do no discredit to them in the future. I hesi-
tated whether I should place him with the pages or with you,
and have decided that, with your good-will, he will be far
more comfortable in your society, if you consent to receive
him.”

“We will do so willingly on such recommendation,” the
senior of the esquires said, “as well as for the sake of his
brave uncle, whom we ‘all respect and like, and of his valiant
father. ‘The addition of young blood to our party will indeed
not be unwelcome, and while perchance he may learn some-
thing from us he will assuredly be able to tell us much that is
new of the doings on the Darden of which nothing but vague
reports have reached our ears.’

« Thanks, Allonby,” Hotspur said. ‘I expected nothing less
from you. He will, of course, practise at arms regularly when
not occupied in carrying messages, and you will be surprised
to hear that he will go for two hours daily to the monastery,
where he has for the last three months been learning reading
and writing at the hands of brother Roger, the fighting monk.
It is his own desire, and a laudable one, and when I say that
he has succeeded in giving brother Roger satisfaction you may
well imagine that he must have made great progress.”

A smile ran round the faces of the esquires, for brother
Roger’s pugnacious instincts were widely known.

“Truly, Sir Henry, if brother Roger did not lose patience
with him, it would be hard indeed if we could not get on with
him, and in truth this desire to Eee himself speaks well
for the lad’s disposition.”

When Hotspur left, Allonby said, “Take a seat, Master
Oswald. But first, have you dined?”

“I took my meal an hour since with my uncle,” Oswald
replied. ;

«Ay, I remember that your uncle sticks to the old hours.



53 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Tell us, were you with your father in that foray he headed to
carry off some cattle that had been lifted by the Bairds? We
heard a report of it last night.”

“Twas not with him, to my great disappointment, for he
said that another year must pass before I should be fit to hold
my own ina fray. The affair was a somewhat hot one. Three
of my father’s men were killed, and some ten or twelve of
those under other leaders, and my father and several of the
band were wounded, some very sorely. It happened thus.”
And he then told the details of the affair.

“Jt might well have been worse,” Allonby said, “ for, had
the Bairds had time to assemble it would have gone hardly
with your father’s party, especially as there is, as I have heard,
a blood feud between him and them.”

«They have scored the last success,” Oswald said, “ seeing
that they accompanied Sir Richard Rutherford in his raid nigh
two months ago; and, as I hear, while the rest came on harry-
ing and plundering Coquetdale, the Bairds and their gathering
remained at our hold, which they found deserted, for indeed
my father could not hope to defend it successfully against so
large a force, and there they employed themselves in demol-
ishing the outer wall and much of the hold itself, and would
have completed their task had it not been for the defeat in-
flicted upon the rest of the Scots by Sir Robert Umfraville,
when they were forced to hasten back across the border. My
father sent me a message afterwards, saying that he and my
mother with their followers had been forced to take to the
fells, and that on their return they found the place well-nigh
destroyed, but that he was going to set to work to rebuild it
as before, and that he hoped some time to demolish the Bairds’
hold in like fashion. It will be some time before the place is
restored, for, my father’s means being limited, he and his re-
tainers would have to turn masons; but as the materials were



AN UNEQUAL JOUST 59

there he doubted not that in time they would make a good
job of it.”

“Truly it is a hard life on the border,” the squire said, “and
it is wonderful that any can be found willing to live within
reach of the Scotch raiders. I myself have done a fair share
of fighting under our lord’s banner, but to pass my life never
knowing whether I may not awake to find the house assailed
would be worse than the hardest service against an open foe.
Now, Master Oswald, we will go down to the court-yard and see
what your instructors have done for you in the matter of arms.
With whom have you been practising since you came here?”

« Principally with Godfrey Harpent, Dick Bamborough, and
William Anell, but I have had a turn with a great many of the
other men-at-arms.”

“The three men you name are all stout fellows and good
swordsmen. As a borderer I suppose that you have practised
with the lance? ”

« We call it by no such knightly term. With us it isa spear
and nought else, but all borderers carry it both for fighting
and for pricking up cattle, and from the time that I could sit
a horse I have always practised for a while every day with ~
some of my father’s troopers, or with himself, using blunt
weapons whitened with chalk so as to show where the hits fell.
Although in a charge upon footmen our border spearmen would
couch their weapons and ride straight at their foe, in skir-
mishes, where each can single out an enemy and there is a series
of single combats, they do not so fight, but circle round each
other, trusting to the agility of their horses to avoid a thrust
and to deliver one when there is an opening. Our spears are
nothing like so heavy as the knightly lances, and we thrust
with them as with the point of a sword.”

“But in that way you can hardly penetrate armour,” one of
the other esquires said.



60 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“ No, it is only in a downright charge that we try to do so.
When we are fighting as I speak of, we thrust at the face, at
the arm-pit, the joints of the armour, which in truth seldom
fits closely, or below the breastplate. ‘The Scotch use even less
armour than do our borderers, their breast-pieces being smaller,
and they seldom wear back-pieces. It is a question chiefly of
the activity of the horses as of the skill of their riders, and our
little moor horses are as active as young goats; and although
neither horse nor rider can stand a charge of a heavily-armed
knight or squire, methinks that if one of our troopers brought
him to a stand he would get the better of him, save if the
knight took to mace or battle-axe.”

** Have you your horse with you, Oswald?”

“Yes, it is in the stable. I have gone out with it every
morning as soon as the castle gates were opened, and have
ridden fora couple of hours before I began my exercises.”

“Do you take him in hand first, Marsden, ” Allonby said
to one of the younger esquires, a young man of two or three
and twenty. Light steel caps with cheeks, gorgets, shoulder
and arm pieces, and padded leathern jerkins were put on, and
then with blunted swords they took their places facing each
other. The squire took up a position of easy confidence. He
was a good swordsman, and good-naturedly determined to treat
the lad easily, and to play with him for a time before scoring
his first hit. He soon, however, found that the game was not
to be conducted on the lines that he had laid down. Oswald,
after waiting for a minute or two, finding his opponent did not
take the offensive, did so himself, and for a time Marsden had
all his work to do to defend himself. Several times, indeed, it
was with the greatest difficulty that he guarded his head; the
activity of his assailant almost bewildered him, as he continually
shifted his position, and with cat-like springs leapt in and dealt
a blow, leaping back again before his opponent’s arm had time
to fall.



AN UNEQUAL JOUST 61

Finding at last that, quick as he might be, Marsden’s blade
always met his own, Oswald relaxed his efforts, as he was grow-
ing fatigued, and as he did so Marsden took the offensive,
pressing him backwards foot by foot. Every time, however,
that he found himself approaching a barrier or other obstacle
that would prevent his further retreat, Oswald with a couple
of springs managed to shift his ground. When he saw that
Marsden was growing breathless from his exertions, he again
took the offensive, and at last landed a blow fairly on his op-
ponent’s helm.

“By my faith,” the squire said, with a laugh that had never-
theless a little mortification in it, “I would as soon fight with
a wild-cat, and yet your breath scarce comes fast, while I have
not as much left in me as would fill an egg-shell.”

“Tt was an excellent display,’ Allonby said. “Truly, lad,
your activity is wonderful, and you might well puzzle the
oldest swordsman by such tactics. Marsden did exceedingly
well too. Many times I thought that your sword would have
gone home, but up to the last his guard was always ready in
time. As for yourself, we had scarce the opportunity of seeing
how your sword would guard your head, for you trusted always
to your legs rather than your arms. Well, lad, you will do.
Your arm is like iron, or it would have tired long before with
that sword, which is a little over-heavy for you.

“As to your wind, you would tire out the stoutest swords-
man in the Percys’ train. I do not say that in the press
of a battle, where your activity would count for little, a good
man-at-arms would not get the better of you, but in a single
combat with plenty of room it would be a good man indeed
who would tackle you, especially were he clad in armour and
you fighting without it. His only chance would be to get in
one downright blow that would break down your guard. As
Marsden says, you fight like a wild-cat rather than as a man-at-



62 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

arms, but as the time may .come when you will ride in heavy
armour, and so lose the advantage of your agility, you had
best continue to practise regularly with us and the men-at-
arms, and learn to fight in the fashion that would be needed
were you engaged in a pitched battle when on horseback and
in armour.”

“IT shall be glad indeed to do so,” Oswald said modestly.
“I know that Iam very ignorant of real swordsmanship, and
the men-at-arms have me quite at their mercy when they insist
upon my not shifting my ground. At home I have only
practised with my father’s troopers, and we always fight on
foot and with stout sticks instead of swords, and without
defences save our head-pieces, but fighting in knightly fashion
I knew nothing of until I came here.”

“You will soon acquire that, lad ; with your strength of arm,
length of wind, quickness of eye, and activity, you will make a
famous swordsman in time. Ah! here is Sir Henry.”

“ Have you been trying the lad’s mettle?’ Hotspur asked, as
he saw Oswald in the act of taking off his steel cap. Marsden
had already done so.

“ That have we, Sir Henry, and find it as of proof. Mars-
den here, who is no mean blade, has taken him in hand, and
the lad has more than held his own against him, not so much
by swordsmanship as by activity and wind. It was a curious
contest. Marsden compared Oswald to a wild-cat, and the
comparison was not an ill one, for indeed his springs and leaps
were so rapid and sudden that it was difficult to follow him,
and the fight was like one between such an animal and a
hound. Marsden defended himself well against all his at-
tacks until his breath failed him, and he was dealt a down-
right blow on his helm, on which I see it has made a shrewd
dint. As for his blows, they fell upon air, for the lad was
ever out of reach before the ripostes came. In his own style



AN UNEQUAL JOUST 68

of fighting I would wager on him. against any man-at-arms in
the castle.”

«J am glad to hear it,” Hotspur said. “ I shall feel the less
scruple in sending him on missions which are not without
danger. He will need training to fit him for combat in the
tanks. No doubt he has had no opportunity for such teaching,
and would go down before a heavy-armed man with a lance
like a blade of grass before a millstone.”

“ He thinks not, Sir Henry, at least not in a single combat,
for by his accounts his horse is as nimble as himself; but of
course in charges he and his horse would be rolled over, as
you say.”

«Fe thinks not? Oh, well, we will try him! I have an
hour to spare. Do you put on a suit of full armour, Sinclair,
and we will ride out to the course beyond the castle. What
will you put on, lad?”

« ] will put on only breast-piece and steel cap; but I only
said I should have a chance against a lance, Sir Henry. I do
not pretend that I could stand against any man-at-arms armed
with sword and mace, but only that I thought that with my
horse I could evade the shock of a fully-accoutred man, and
then harass and maybe wound him with my spear.”

« Well, we will try, lad. Put on what you will and get your
horse saddled. It will be rare amusement to see so unequal
a course. We shall be ready in a quarter of an hour.”

- Qswald went up to his uncle and told him what was pro-
posed. Alwyn, who had witnessed his exercises with the
rough-riders of his father, smiled grimly. “If you can evade
his first charge, which I doubt not that you can, you will have
him at your mercy with your light spear against his lance, and
your moor horse against his charger; but put on the heaviest
of your two steel caps, and strong shoulder-pieces, ‘tis like
enough that in his temper he may throw away his lance and



64 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

betake him to his sword. I will demand that he carries
neither mace nor battle-axe, and that you should only carry
sword and spear. Your horse’s nimbleness may keep you out
of harm, which is as much as you can expect or hope for.
Put on a light breast-plate too, for in spite of the wooden
shield to his lance-head, he may hurt you sorely if he does
chance to strike you.”

Oswald saw that his horse was carefully saddled. He pro-
cured from his uncle a piece of cloth, and, removing the spear-
head, wrapped this round the head of the shaft until it formed
a ball the size of his fist. This he whitened thickly with
chalk. In a few minutes Sinclair, who was the heaviest and
strongest of the esquires, rode out into the court-yard in full
armour. Sir Henry, with his own esquires and several of the
gentlemen of the earl’s household, came down, and Hotspur
laughed at the contrast presented by the two combatants —
the one a mass of steel, with shield and lance, on a war-horse
fully caparisoned, the other a slight, active-looking figure, with
but little defensive armour, on a rough pony which had
scarce an ounce of superfluous flesh.

“Now, gentlemen,” he said, “we may be engaged in war-
fare with the Scots before long, and you will here have an
opportunity of seeing the nature of border fighting. The
combat may seem to you ridiculously unequal, but I know the
moss-trooper, and I can tell you that in a single combat like
this, activity goes far to counterbalance weight and armour.
You remember how Robert Bruce, before Bannockburn,
mounted on but a pony, struck down Sir Robert Bohun, a
good knight and a powerful one.”

As the party went out through the gates to the tilting-ground
outside the walls, the men-at-arms, seeing that something
unusual was going to take place, crowded up to the battle-
ments looking down on the ground.



AN UNEQUAL JOUST - 65

“Now, gentlemen,” Percy said, “you will take your places
at opposite ends of the field, and when I drop my scarf you
will charge. It is understood that you need not necessarily
ride straight at each other, but that it is free to each of you
to do the best he can to overthrow his opponent.”

As he gave the signal the two riders dashed at full speed
at each other, and for a moment the spectators thought that
Oswald was going to be mad enough to meet his opponent in
full course. When, however, the horses were within a length
of each other the rough pony swerved aside with a spring like
that of a deer, and wheeling round instantly, Oswald followed
his opponent. The latter tried to wheel his charger, but as
he did so, Oswald’s spear struck him in the vizor, leaving a
white mark on each side of the slit, and then he too wheeled
his horse, maintaining his position on the left hand, but some-
what in rear of his opponent, who was thereby wholly unable
to use his lance, while Oswald marked the junction of gorget
and helmet with several white circles. Furious at finding
himself incapable of either defending himself or of striking a
blow, the squire threw away his lance and drew his sword.

Hotspur shouted at the top of his voice, “ A breach of the
rules! a breach of the rules! the combat is at an end.” But
his words were unheard in the helmet. Making his horse
wheel round on his hind-legs, Sinclair rode at Oswald with
uplifted sword. ‘The latter again couched his spear under his
arm, and touching his horse with his spur, the animal sprung
forward, and before the sword could fall, the point of the
spear caught the squire under the arm-pit and hurled him
sideways from his saddle. Hotspur and those round him ran
forward. Sinclair lay without moving, stunned by the force
with which he had fallen. Oswald had already leapt from his
horse and raised Sinclair’s head and began to unlace the fast-
enings of his helmet. Hotspur’s face was flushed with anger.

5



66 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Do not upbraid him, my lord, I pray you,” Oswald said.
“He could scarce have avoided breaking the conditions, help-
less as he felt himself; and he could not have heard your
voice, which would be lost in his helmet. I pray you be not
angered with him.”

Hotspur’s face cleared. “At your request I will not, lad,”
he said ; “and, indeed, he has been punished sufficiently.”

By the time that the helmet was removed, one of the soldiers
from the battlements ran out from the castle with a ewer of
water ; this was dashed into the squire’s face. He presently
opened his eyes. A heavy fall was thought but little of in
those days, and as Sinclair was raised to his feet and looked
round in bewilderment at those who were standing round him,
Hotspur said good-temperedly, “Well, Master Sinclair, the
lad has given us all a lesson that may be useful to us. I would
scarce have believed it if I had not seen it, that a stout soldier
in full armour should have been worsted by a lad on a rough
pony, but I see now that the advantage is all on the latter’s
side in a combat like this, with plenty of room to wheel his
horse.

“Why, he would have slain you a dozen times, Sinclair.
Look at your vizor. That white mark is equal on both sides
of the slit, and had there been a spear-head on the shaft, it
would have pierced you to the brain; every joint of your
armour behind is whitened, and that thrust that brought you
from your horse would have spitted you through and through.
Now, let there be no ill-feeling over this. It is an experiment,
and a useful one ; and had I myself been in your place I do.
not know that I could have done aught more than you did.”

Sinclair was hot-tempered, but of a generous disposition,
and he held out his hand to Oswald frankly.

“It was a fair fight,” he said, “and you worsted me alto-
gether. No one bears malice for a fair fall in a joust.”



AN UNEQUAL JOUST 67

“The conditions were not at all even,’’ Oswald said; “ona
pony like mine, unless you had caught me in full career, it was
impossible that the matter could have turned out otherwise.”

“TI often wondered,” Hotspur said, as they walked towards
the gate, “that our chivalry should have been so often worsted
by the rough Scottish troopers, but now I understand it. The
Scotch always choose broken ground, and always scatter before
we get near them, and, circling round, fall upon our chivalry
when their weight and array are of no use to them. Happily,
such a misadventure has never happened to myself, but it
might well do so. The Scotch, too, have no regard for the
laws of chivalry, and once behind will spear the horse, as in-
deed happened to me at Otterburn. ’Tis a lesson in war one
may well take to heart; and when I next fight the Scots, I will
order that on no account whatever are the mounted men to
break their ranks, but whatever happens are to move in a solid
body, in which case they could defy any attacks upon them by
light-armed horse, however numerous.”

At the gate of the castle Alwyn Forster met them. “You
have given me a more useful addition to my following than
I dreamt of, Alwyn,” Hotspur said. “Did you see the
conflict?”

“‘T watched it from the wall, Sir Henry. I felt sure how
the matter would end. The lad is quick and sharp at border
exercises. I have seen him work with his father’s troopers.
There were not many of them who could hold their own against
him, and in fighting in their own way I would back the moss-
troopers against the best horsemen in Europe. ‘They are
always accustomed to fight each man for himself, and though
a score of men-at-arms would ride through a hundred of them
if they met the charge, in single combat their activity and the
nimbleness of their horses would render them more than a
match for a fully-caparisoned knight.”



68 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“So it seems,” Hotspur said ; “and yet if Sinclair had but
known that the lad was about to swerve in his course, which
indeed he ought to have known— for it would have been
madness to meet his charge—he too should have changed
his course to his left when a couple of lengths away, for he
might be sure that the lad would turn that way so as to get
on his left hand, and in that case he would have ridden over
him like a thunderbolt.”

“Yes, Sir Henry, but Oswald would have had his eye on
knee and bridle, and the moment the horse changed his direc-
tion he would have been round the other way like an arrow
from a bow, and would have planted himself, as he did, in the
squire’s rear,”

“Perhaps so,” Hotspur said thoughtfully. “At any rate,
Alwyn, the boy has given us all a lesson, and you have done
me good service by presenting him to me.”

CHAPTER V

A MISSION

OR the next three or four months Oswald was but little at
‘the castle, Percy utilising his services in the manner
most agreeable to him by sending him on errands to various
knights and gentlemen in different parts of Northumberland,
and to the fortified places held by the English across the
border. A fortnight after his contest with Sinclair, Sir Henry
formally appointed him one of his esquires.

“You are young,” he said, “ for such a post; but as you
have shown that you are well able to take cate of yourself in
arms, and as I perceive you to be shrewd and worthy of con-
fidence, your age matters but little. As my messenger, you



A MISSION 69

will be more useful travelling as one of my esquires, than as
one without settled rank, and I can not only send written com-
munications by you, but can charge you to speak fully in my
name and with my authority.”

Oswald was not slow in finding out the advantages that the
position gave him. On the first errands on which he had
been sent he had been treated as but an ordinary messenger,
had been placed at dinner below the salt, and herded with the
men-at-arms. As an esquire of Lord Percy he was treated
with all courtesy, was introduced to the ladies of the family,
sat at the high table, and was regarded as being in the confi-
dence of his lord. His youth excited some little surprise, but
acted in his favour, because it was evident that Percy would
not have nominated him as one of his esquires had he not
shown particular merit. In his journeys he often passed near
Yardhope, where the rebuilding of the wall and keep was be-
ing pushed on with much vigour, the inhabitants of the villages
in the valley lending their assistance to restore the fortalice,
which they regarded as a place of refuge in case of sudden
invasion by the Scots. His parents were both greatly pleased
at his promotion, especially his mother, who had always been
anxious that he should not settle down to the adventurous
and dangerous life led by his father.

“ By our Lady,” John Forster said, “though it be but six
months since you first left us you have changed rarely. I speak
not of your fine garments, but you have grown and widened
out, and are fast springing from a boy into a man ; and it is no
small thing that Percy should have thought so well of you as
to make you one of his esquires already.”

“It was from no merit of mine, father, but because he
thought that, as his messenger, I should be able to speak in
his name with more authority than had I been merely the
bearer of a letter from him.”



70 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“°T is not only that,” his father replied. “I received a letter
but two days since from my brother Alwyn, written by the hand
of a monk of his acquaintance, telling me that Lord Percy was
mightily pleased with you, not only because you had set your-
self to read and write, but from the way in which you had
defeated one of his esquires in a bout at arms. Alwyn said
that he doubted not that you would win knightly spurs as soon
as you came to full manhood. So it is clear that merit had
something to do with your advancement, though this may be
also due to some extent to the cause you assign for it. The
monk who wrote the letter added on his own account that he
had been your preceptor, and that, though he had often rated
you soundly, you had made wonderful progress.’’

“The monk is a good teacher,” Oswald laughed; “but he
would have made a better man-at-arms than he will ever make
amonk. I believe it pleased him more that I worsted Sinclair
—which indeed was a small thing to do, seeing that he had no
idea of fighting save of charging straight at a foe — than at the
progress I made at my books. He commands the contingent
that the monastery sends when Percy takes the field to repel
an invasion, and, could he have his own will, would gladly
exchange a monk’s robes for the harness of a man-at-arms,
I would wish for no stouter companion in the fray.’

The speed with which he had performed his journeys, and
the intelligence which he showed in carrying out his missions
and reporting on their issue, earned for the lad an increasing
amount of liking and confidence on the part of his lord. It
was not only that he delivered the replies to Hotspur’s messages
accurately, but his remarks upon the personal manner and
bearing of those to whom he was sent were of still greater
value to Percy. Naturally all had promised ‘to have their con-
tingent of fighting men ready in case of serious invasion by
the Scots; but Oswald was able to gather from their manner



A MISSION 71

whether the promises would surely be fulfilled, or whether, in
case of trouble, the knights were more likely to keep their array
for the defence of their own castles than to join Percy in any
general movement.

One day, when Oswald had been engaged six months at this
work, which had taken him several times into Cumberland and
Westmoreland as well as the north, Lord Percy summoned him
to his private apartment.

“Hitherto you have done well, Oswald, and I feel now that
I can trust you with a mission of far higher importance than
those you have hitherto performed. ‘Tis not without its
dangers, but I know that you will like it none the less for that
reason. You are young indeed for business of such importance,
but it seems to me that of those around me you would be best
fitted to carry it out. Your manner of speech has changed
much since you came here, but doubtless you can fall at will
into the border dialect, which differs little from that on the
other side, and you can pass well enough as coming from Jed-
burgh or any other place across the border.

“ All the world knows, lad, that George, Earl of March and
Dunbar, was mightily offended at Rothesay breaking off the
match with his daughter and marrying the child of his rival
Douglas ; but now I am going to tell-you what the world does
not know, and which is a secret that would cost many a life
were it to be blabbed abroad, and which I should not tell you
had I not a perfect confidence in your discretion. The anger
of March —as he is mostly called on this side of the border,
while in Scotland they more often call him Earl of Dunbar —
goes beyond mere displeasure with the Douglas and sullen
resentment against Rothesay. He has sent a confidential mes-
senger to me intimating that he is ready to acknowledge our
king as his sovereign, and place himself and his forces at his
disposal. I see you are surprised, as is indeed but natural ;



72 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

but the Marches have ever been rather for England than for
Scotland, although they have never gone so far as to throw off
their allegiance to the Scottish throne. It is not for us to
consider whether March is acting treacherously to James of
Scotland, but whether he is acting in good faith towards us.

“It was easy for him to send a messenger to me, since Scot-
land trades with England, and a ship bound for London might
well touch at one of our ports on the way down, but the
presence of an Englishman at Dunbar would not be so readily
explained. His messenger especially enjoined on me not to
send any communication in writing, even by the most trust-
-worthy hand, since an accident might precipitate matters and
drive him to take up arms before we were in a position to give
him aid. Therefore, in the first place, I wish you to journey to
Dunbar to see the earl and deliver to him the message I shall
give you, and endeavour to inform yourself how far he is to be
trusted. Say what he will, I can scarce bring myself to believe
that he will really throw off his allegiance to Scotland save in
the event of a great English army marching north, when doubt-
less he would do what most Scotch nobles have always done,
namely, hasten to give in his submission and make the best
terms he can for himself.

«Tis a business which I like not, although it is my duty to
accept a proposal that, if made in good faith, would be of vast
value to the king. You must, after seeing the earl, return here
with all speed, to bear me any message March may give you, and
to report your impressions as to his sincerity and good faith.
’T is a month since I received his message. Since then I have
communicated with the king, and have received his authority
to arrange terms with March, to guarantee him in the posses-
sion of his lordships, to hand over to him certain tracts of the
Douglas country which he bargained for, and to assure him of
our support. But he must be told that the king urges him to



A MISSION 73

delay at present from taking any open steps, as, in the first
place, he is bound by the truce just arranged for the next two
years; and in the second, because, having no just cause of
quarrel with Scotland, and being at present but newly seated
on the throne, be would have difficulty in raising an army for
the invasion of that country.

“The king is ready to engage himself not to renew the
truce, and to collect an army in readiness to act in concert
with him as soon as it is terminated. The earl has sent by his
messenger a ring, which, on being presented at Dunbar, will
gain for the person who carries it immediate access to him,
and I shall also give you my signet in token that you are come
from me. You will carry also a slip of paper that can be
easily concealed, saying that you have my full authority to
speak in my name. You yourself can explain to him that I
have selected you for the mission because of your knowledge
of border speech, and because a youth of your age can pass
unobserved where a man might excite attention and remark,
and possibly be detained until he could render a eee
account of. himself.

« Here are the conditions set down upon paper, take it and
commit them to heart, and then tear the paper into shreds
and burn them. As far as Roxburgh you can of course ride as
my squire, but beyond you must travel in disguise. This you
had better procure here and take with you, for although the
Governor of Roxburgh is a trusty knight, it were best that no
soul should know that you go ona mission to March, and I
shall simply give you a letter to him stating that you are
engaged in a venture in my service, and that your horse and
armour are to be kept for you until your return.”

Thanking Lord Percy for the honour done him in selecting
him for the mission, and promising him to carry it out to the
best of his power, Oswald retired, and, making his way up to



74 _ BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

an inner room, set about learning the contents of the paper
given him, which was indeed a copy of the royal letter to
Percy. When he had thoroughly mastered all the details and
could repeat every word, he followed Sir Henry’s instructions,
tore the letter up, and carefully burned every fragment. Then
he went out into the town and bought garments suited for
travelling unnoticed in Scotland, the dress being almost iden-
tical on both sides of the border, save for the lowland Scotch
bonnet. - On his return he found that Lord Percy had sent for
him during his absence, and he at once went to his apartments.

“T have been thinking over this matter further,” Sir Henry
said. The abbot came in just as you left me, and among
other things he mentioned that friar Roger had again fallen
into disgrace, having gone so far as to strike the sub-prior on
the cheek, almost breaking the jaw of that worthy man, and that
finding discipline and punishment of no avail with him he was
about to expel him in disgrace from the community. He said
that he had only retained him so long on account of my good-
will for the fellow, and from the fact that he would, as I had
often urged, be most valuable as leader of the abbot’s forces
in case of troubles with the Scots, but that his last offence has
passed all bearing. For the time I could say nothing, for
discipline must be maintained in a monastery as well as in the
castle; but after the abbot had left me, and I was walking
up and down in vexation over the affair — for I like the rascal
in spite of his ways, and there is no one else who could so well
lead the contingent of the monastery — a thought occurred to
me. I like not your going altogether alone, for the times are
lawless, and you might meet trouble on the road, and yet I
did not see whom I could send with you. Now it seems to
me that this stout knave would make an excellent companion
for you.

“In the first place, you like him, and he likes you; secondly,



A MISSION 7d

a monk travelling north on a mission, say from the abbot to
the prior of a monastery near Dunbar, could pass anywhere
unheeded ; and in the third place, although as a peaceful man
he could carry no military arms, he might yet take with him
a staff, with which I warrant me he would be a match for two
or three ordinary men; and lastly, I may be able to convince
the abbot that he can thus get rid of him from the monastery
for some time and avoid the scandals he occasions, and yet
hold him available on his return for military service. What
say you, lad?”

“TI should like it much, Sir Henry, I could wish for no
stouter companion ; and although he may be quarrelsome with
his fellows, it is, methinks, solely because the discipline of the
monastery frets him, and he longs for a more active life; but
I believe that he could be fully trusted to behave himself dis-
creetly were he engaged in outdoor work, and there can be
no doubt that he is a stout man-at-arms in all ways.”

“T should not trust him in any way with the object of your
mission. If I obtain the abbot’s consent I shall simply send
for him, rate him soundly for his conduct, but telling him I
make all allowances for his natural unfitness for his vocation,
and that I have, as a matter of grace, obtained from the abbot
permission to use his services for a while, and to suspend his
sentence upon him until it be seen how he comports himself,
and with that viéw I ain about to send him as your companion
on a commission with which I have intrusted you, to the town
of Dunbar. I shall hint that if he behaves to my satisfaction
I may persuade the abbot to allow him to remain in my ser-
vice until the time comes when he may be useful to the con-
vent for military work, he still undertaking to drill the lay
brothers and keep the abbot’s contingent in good order; and
that when the troubles are at an end I will obtain for him full
absolution from his vows, so that he may leave the monastery



76 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

without the disgrace of being expelled, and may then take ser-
vice with me or with another as a man-at-arms. I wish you to
be frank with me; if you would rather go alone, matters shall
remain as they are.”

“JT would much rather that he went with me, my lord.
From the many conversations that I have had with him I am
sure that he is shrewd and clever, and that once beyond the
walls of the monastery and free to use his weapon, he would
be full of resource. There is doubtless much lawlessness on
both sides of the border, and although I should seem but little
worth robbing, two travel more pleasantly than one; and the
monk has taken such pains with me, and has been so kind,
that there is no one with whom I would travel with greater
pleasure.”

“Then I will go across to the monastery at once and see the
abbot, and I doubt not that he will grant my request, for, much
and often as brother Roger has given him cause for anger, I
know that he has a sort of kindness for him, and will gladly
avoid the necessity for punishing and disgracing him. If all is
arranged, the monk shall come over here and see you.”

An hour later brother Roger came in to the captain’s
quarters.

“So you have been in trouble again, brother Roger,” Alwyn
Forster said with a laugh, as he held out his hand to him.

“That have I, and an hour ago I was lying®in a prison cell
cursing my hot temper, and with, as it seemed, the certainty
of being publicly unfrocked and turned out like a mangy dog
from a pack. It was not, mind you, that the thought of being
unfrocked was altogether disagreeable, for I own that I am
grievously ill-fitted for my vocation, and that fasts and vigils
are altogether hateful to me; but it would not be a pleasant
thing to go out into the world as one who had been kicked

~ out, and though I might get employment as a man-at-arms, I



A MISSION G7

could never hope for any promotion, however well I might be-
have. However, half an hour ago the cell door was opened
and I was taken before the abbot, whom I found closeted with
Hotspur.

“The latter rated me soundly, but said that, for the sake
of Otterburn, he had spoken for me to the abbot, and that
as he would for the present be able to make use of me in work
that would be more to my liking, the abbot had consented to
reconsider his decision and would lend me to him for a time,
in hopes that my good conduct would in the end induce him
to overlook my offences, and that in that case he might even
be induced to take steps of a less painful description than
public disgrace for freeing me of my gown. I naturally re-
plied that I was grateful for his lordship’s intercession, and
that outside monkish offices there was nothing I would not
do to merit his kindness. He told me that I was to report
myself to your nephew, who would inform me of the nature
of the service upon which I was at first to be employed.”

“It is to undertake a journey with me,” Oswald said. “I
am going on a mission for our lord, to Dunbar. The object of
my mission is one that concerns me only, but it is one of some
importance, and as the roads are lonely since March and
Douglas quarrelled, and order is but badly kept on the other
side of the border, he thought that I should be all the better
for a companion. Assuredly I could wish for none better than
yourself, for in the first place you have proved a true friend to
me ; in the second, you have so much knowledge that we shall
not lack subjects for conversation upon the journey ; and lastly,
should I get into any trouble I could reckon upon you as a
match for two or three border robbers.”

“Nothing could be more to my taste,’ the monk: said joy-
fully. “TI did not feel quite sure before whether I was glad or
sorry that my expulsion was put off, for I always thought that



18 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

it would come to that some day; but now that I learn for what
service Hotspur intends me I feel as if I could shout for joy.
Get me a flagon of beer, good Alwyn. I have drunk but
water for the last twenty-four hours, and was in too great
haste to learn what was before me even to pay a visit to
brother Anselm, the cellarer, who is a stanch friend of mine.
And do I go as a man-at-arms, Master Oswald? for, as your
mission is clearly of a private character, disguise may be
needful.” .

“No, Roger, you will go in your own capacity as a monk,
journeying on a mission from the abbot to the head of some
religious community near Dunbar. I doubt not that Lord
Percy will obtain a letter from the abbot, and though it may
be that there will be no need to deliver it, still it may help us
on the way. As you are going with me, I shall attire myself
as a young lay servitor of the convent.”

“T would that it had been otherwise,” the monk said with
a sigh. “I should have travelled far more lightly in the
heaviest mail harness than in this monk’s robe. Besides, how
can I carry arms for use in case of necessity? ”

“You can carry a staff,” Oswald said, laughing ; “and being
so big a man you will assuredly require a long and heavy one,
and even if it is heavily shod with iron no one need object.”

“That is not so bad, Master Oswald. A seven-foot staff of
the thickness of my wrist, with an iron shoe weighing a pound
or two is a carnal weapon not to be despised. As you doubt-
less know, our bishops when they ride in the field always carry
a mace instead of a sword, so that they may not shed blood,
though I say not that the cracking of a man’s skull is to be
accomplished without some loss thereof. However, if a bishop
may lawfully crack a man’s head as an egg-shell, I see not that
blame can attach to me, a humble and most unworthy son of
the Church, if some slight harm should come to any man from



A MISSION 79

the use of so peaceful an instrument as a staff. And how
about yourself, young master?”

“JT can carry a sword,’ Oswald replied. “In times like
these no man travels unarmed, and as I go as a servitor, and
an assistant to your reverence, there will be nothing unseemly
in my carrying a weapon to defend you from the attack of
“foes.”

“You can surely take a dagger too; a dagger isa meet com-
panion to a sword, and is sometimes mighty useful in a close
fignt. And mark me, take a smaller dagger also, that can be
concealed under your coat. I myself will assuredly do the
same. There are many instances in which a trifle of that kind
might come in useful, such as for shooting the lock of a door
or working out iron bars.”

« [ will do so,” Oswald said, “though I hope there will be
no occasion such as you say for its use.”

« When do we start, Master Oswald?”

“To-morrow at daybreak. We shall ride as far as Rox-
burgh. I shall go on my own horse, which, though as good
an animal as was ever saddled, has but a poor appearance.
You had best purchase a palfrey, as fat and sleek as may be
found, but with strength enough to carry your weight. I shall
be amply provided with money, and if you find a bargain let
me know and I will give you the means. Mind, buy nothing
that looks like a war-horse, but something in keeping with
your appearance.”

That evening Oswald had another interview with Percy, and
received his final instructions and a bag of money.

“ Be careful with it, lad,” he said ; “not so much because of
the use that it may be to you, but because, were you seized
and searched by robbers and others, the sight of the gold
might awake suspicions that you were not what you seemed,
and might lead to along detention. Keep your eye on brother



80 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Roger, and see that he does not indulge too much in the wine-
cups, and that he comports himself rather in keeping with his
attire than with his natural disposition, and if you have any
difficulty in restraining him, or if he does not obey your orders,
send him back at once. Will you see him again this evening?”

“He is waiting for me in my apartment now, my lord,
having come for the money for the purchase of a palfrey
which I bade him get.”

« Send him to me when you get there.”

When the monk appeared before Hotspur the latter said,
“See here, monk, I have saved you from punishment, and
become as it were your surety. See that you do not discredit
me. You will remember that although my young esquire may
ask your advice, and benefit by your experience, he is your
leader, and his orders, when he gives them, are to be obeyed
as promptly as if it were I myself who spoke to one of my
men-at-arms. He is my representative in the matter, and is
obeying my orders as you will obey his. The mission is one
of importance, and if it fails from any fault of yours, you had
better drown yourself in the first river you come to than return
to Northumberland.”

“JT think that you can trust me, my lord,” the monk said
calmly. “Iam a very poor monk, but methinks that I am
not a bad soldier, and although I go in the dress of the one I
shall really go as the other. I know that my duty as a soldier
will be to obey. Even as regards my potations, which I own
are sometimes deeper than they should be, methinks that as
a soldier I shall be much less thirsty than I was as a monk. If
the enterprise should fail from any default of mine, your lord-
ship may be sure that I shall bear your advice in mind.”

“T doubt not that you will do well, Roger. I should not
have sent you with my esquire on such a business had I not
believed that you would prove yourself worthy of my confi-



A MISSION 81

dence. I know that aman may be a good soldier, and even a
wise counsellor, though he may be a very bad monk.”

The next morning the pair rode out from the castle at day-
break. Roger was dressed in the usual monkish attire ‘of the
time, a long loose gown with a cape, and a head-covering
resembling a small turban. He rode a compactly-built little
horse, which seemed scarce capable of carrying his weight, but
ambled along with him as if it scarcely felt it. Oswald was
dressed as a lay servitor in tightly-fitting high hose, short
jerkin girt in by a band at the waist, and going half-way down
to the knee. He rode his own moorland horse, and carried
on his arm a basket with provisions for a day’s march. He
wore a small cloth cap, which fell down to his neck behind.
His uncle accompanied him to the gate, which was by his
orders opened to give them egress.

“‘ Good-bye, lad,” he said. ‘I know not, and do not wish
to know, the object of your journey. It is enough for me that
it is a confidential mission for Hotspur, and I am proud that
you should have been chosen for it, and I feel convinced that
you will prove you have merited our lord’s confidence. Good-
bye, friend Roger! Don’t let your love of fisticuffs and hard
knocks carry you away, but try and bear yourself as if you
were still in the monastery, with the abbot keeping his eye
upon you.”

Brother Roger laughed. ‘You make a cold shiver run
down my back, Alwyn. . I was feeling as if I had just got out
of a cold cellar into the sunshine, and could shout with very
lightness of heart. Iam not in the least disposed to quarrel
with anyone, so let your mind be easy as to my doings. I
shall be discretion itself; and even if I am called upon to
strike, will do so as gently as may be, putting only such
strength into the blow as will prevent an opponent from
troubling us further.”

6



§2 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

So with a wave of the hand they rode on.

“TJ had better strap that staff beside your saddle and under
your knee,” Oswald said, when they had ridden a short distance.
“You carry it as if it were a spear, and I have seen already
three or four people smile as we passed them.”

Roger reluctantly allowed Oswald to fasten the staff beside
him.

«“ One wants something in one’s hands,” he said. “On foot
it does not matter so much, but now I am on horseback again
I feel that I ought to have a spear in hand and a sword
dangling at my side.”

“You must remember that you are still a monk, Roger,
although enlarged for a season. Some day perhaps you will
be able to gratify your desires in that way. You had best
moderate the speed of your horse, for although he ambles
along merrily at present, he can never carry that great carcase
of yours at this pace through our journey.”

“J should like one good gallop,” Roger sighed as he pulled
at the rein, and the horse proceeded at a pace better suited to
the appearance of its rider.

“A nice figure you would look with your robes streaming
behind you,” Oswald laughed. “There would soon be a story
going through the country of a mad monk. Now we take this
turning to the right, and here leave the main north road, for
we are bound in the first place to Roxburgh.”

“TJ thought that it must be that or Berwick, though I asked
no questions.”

«© We shall not travel like this beyond Roxburgh, but shall
journey forward on foot.”

“J supposed that we should come to that, Master Oswald,
for otherwise you would not have told me to provide myself
with a staff.”

They journeyed pleasantly along. Whenever they approached







THEY JOURNEYED PLEASANTLY ALONG.



A MISSION 83

any town or large village Oswald reined back his horse a little,
so that its head was on a level with Roger’s stirrup. They
slept that. night at Kirknewton, where they put up at a small:
hostelry. Oswald had intended going to the monastery there,
but Roger begged so earnestly that they should put up else-
where that he yielded to him.

“T should have no end of questions asked as to our journey
across the border and its object,” Roger said; “and it always
goes against my conscience to have to lie unless upon pressing
occasions,”

“ And, moreover,” Oswald said with a laugh, “ you might be
expected to get up to join the community at prayers at mid-
night, and they might give you a monk’s bed instead of a
more comfortable one in the guest-chambers.”

“There may be something in that,” Roger admitted, “and
I have so often to sleep on a stone bench for the punishment
of my offences that I own to a weakness for a soft bed when I
can get one.”

However, Oswald was pleased to see that his follower be-
haved at their resting-place with more discretion than he
could have hoped for, although he somewhat surprised his
host by the heartiness of his appetite ; but, on the other hand,
he was moderate in his potations, and talked but little, retiring
to a bed of thick rushes at curfew.

“In truth I was afraid to trust myself,’ he said to Oswald
as they lay down side by side. “Never have I felt so free
since Otterburn —never, indeed, since that unfortunate day
when I was wounded and conceived the fatal idea of becom-
ing a monk. Two or three times the impulse to troll out a
trooper’s song was so strong in me that I had to clap my
hand over my mouth to keep it in.” :

“°T is well you did, Roger, for-assuredly if you had so com-

“mitted yourself on the first day of starting I must have sent



84 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

you back to Alnwick, feeling that it would not be safe for you
to proceed with me farther. When we get upon the Cheviots
to-morrow you may lift your voice as you choose, but it were
best that you confined yourself to a Latin canticle even there,
for the: habit of breaking into songs of the other kind might
grow upon you.”

“J will do so,” Roger said seriously. “Some of the canti-
cles have plenty of ring and go, and the words matter not,
seeing that I do not understand them.”

The next morning they resumed their journey, crossed the
Cheviots, which were here comparatively low hills, and after
four hours’ riding arrived at Roxburgh.

“Why do we come here?’ Roger asked. “It would
surely have been much shorter had we travelled through Ber-
wick and along the coast road.”

“ Much shorter, Roger; but Sir Henry thought it better
that we should go inland to Haddington and thence east to
Dunbar, as thus entering the town it would seem that we
came from Edinburgh or from some western monastery,
whereas did we journey by the coast road it might be guessed
that we had come from England.”

As before, they put up at a hostelry, and Oswald then pro-
ceeded on foot to the governor’s house. Some soldiers were
loitering at the door.

«What do you want, lad?” one of them asked as he came up.

“JT have a letter which I am charged to deliver into the
governor’s own hands.”

“A complaint, I suppose, from some worthy prior who has
lost some of his beeves?”’

“Maybe the governor will inform you if you ask him,”
Oswald replied.

“T shall pull your ear for you when you come out, young
jackanapes,” the soldier said hotly.



A MISSION 85

“That danger I must even risk. Business first and pleasure
afterwards.” And while the other soldiers burst into a fit of
laughter at the astonishment of their comrade at what he
deemed the insolence of this young servitor of a monastery,
he quietly entered.

The guard at the door, who had heard the colloquy, led
him into the governor’s room. “A messenger with a letter
desires speech with you, Sir Philip,” he said.

“ Bid him enter,” the knight said briefly.

Oswald entered and bowed deeply. .He waited until the
door closed behind the attendant and then said:

“T am the bearer of a letter, sir, from Lord Percy to you.”

The knight looked at him in surprise.

“Hotspur has chosen a strange messenger,” he muttered to
himself as he took the missive Oswald held out to him, cut
the silk that bound it with a dagger, and read its contents.
As he laid it down he rose to his feet. “ Excuse my want of
courtesy,” he said. “Lord Percy tells me that you are one
of his esquires—no slight recommendation— and that you
are intrusted with somewhat important a mission on his part
to Dunbar, a still higher recommendation — for assuredly he
would not have selected you for such a purpose had you not
stood high in his regard. But, indeed, at first I took you for
what you seemed, as the bearer of a complaint from some
abbot; for in truth such complaints are not uncommon, for
whenever a bullock is lost they put it down to my men.
Where are your horses that Percy speaks of ? You will, I hope,
take up your abode here as long as you stay in the town.”

“Thank you, Sir Philip; but I shall go forward in the
morning. I have already put up at the Golden Rose. It
would attract attention were I to come here, and it were best
that I remain as I am; and indeed I have brought no clothes
with me save those I eende Li



86 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Well, perhaps, as you do not wish to attract attention, it
were best so; and I pray you inform Lord Percy of the reason
why you declined my entertainment.”

“JT shall be glad, Sir Philip, if you will send down a couple
of your men to fetch the horses up to your stables, as I shall
start as soon as the gates are open to-morrow morning.”

“‘T will do so at once.” And the governor rang a hand-bell
on the table. ;

«Send two of the men up here,” he said, as an attendant
entered.

A minute later a door opened, and two soldiers came in and
saluted. One of them, to Oswald’s amusement, was the man
with whom he had exchanged words below.

“You will accompany this gentleman to the Golden Rose,
and bring back two horses which he will hand over to you,
and place them in the stables with mine. Are you sure,
Master Forster, that there is nothing more that I can do for
you?”

“Nothing whatever, I thank you, sir; and I am greatly
obliged by your courtesy, and with your permission I will take
my leave. I hope to return here in the course of a week or
ten days.”

So saying, Oswald shook hands with the governor and went
downstairs, followed by the soldiers, who had not yet recovered
from their surprise at seeing Oswald seated and evidently on
familiar terms with their lord. Oswald said nothing to them
until he arrived at the Golden Rose. Then he led the way to
the stables, and handed the horses over to them.

“I suppose that that pulling of the ear will be deferred for
a time?” he said, with a smile, to the soldier who had made
the remark.

The man sheepishly took hold of the bridle. “I could not
tell, sir —”’ he began.



AT DUNBAR 87

“Of course you could not,” Oswald interrupted. “ Still, it
may be a lesson to you that it is just as well not to make fun
of people until you are quite sure who they are. There, I
bear no malice; get yourselves a stoup of wine in payment for
your services.”

“J thought that there was something out-of-the-way about
him,” the other man said as they walked up the street with the
two horses, “or he would never have turned upon you as he
did. It is evident that he is someone of consequence, and is
here on some secret business or other with Sir Philip. It is
well that he did not bear malice, for you would have got it hot
from the governor had he reported what you said to him.”



CHAPTER VI

AT DUNBAR

flee journey passed without any incident of importance,
but Oswald had reason to congratulate himself on having
taken the monk with him. On one occasion, as they were
passing over a wild heath, a party of eight or ten men, on
rough ponies, rode up. They were armed with spears and
swords. They reined up with exclamations of disappointment
as Roger, who had rolled up his robe round his waist for con-
venience of walking, let it fall round him.

«You have played us a scurvy trick, monk,” the leader said
angrily. “Who was to guess it was a monk who was thus
striding along?”

“ You would find it difficult to walk yourself with this robe
dangling about your heels,” Roger said.

«Whither are you bound, and whence are you going?”



88 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“ We are travelling to Dunbar, being sent to the convent of
St. Magnus there, and come from Roxburgh.”

«*T is a shame that so stalwart a fellow as you are should be
leading a drone’s life in a convent, when every true Scotsman
is sharpening his spear in readiness for what may come when
the truce with England expires.”

‘“‘T am glad to hear that you are so well employed,” Roger
replied ; “ but methinks that in days like these it is sometimes
useful to have a few men of thews and sinews even in a re-
ligious house, for there are those who sometimes fail in the
respect they owe to the Church.”

“That is true enough,’ the men laughed. “ Well, go thy
way, there is nought to be gained from a travelling monk.”

“ Nought, good friend, save occasionally hard blows, when
the monk happens to be of my strength and stature, and
carries a staff like this.”

“Tis a goodly weapon in sooth, and you look as if you
knew how to wield it.”

“Even a monk may know that, seeing that a staff is not a
carnal weapon.”

And rolling up his sleeves Roger took the staff in the middle
with both hands, in the manner of a quarter-staff, and made it
play round his head with a speed and vigour that showed that
he was a complete master of the exercise.

“Enough, enough!” the man said, while exclamations of
admiration broke from the others. “ Truly from such a cham-
pion, strong enough to wield a weapon that resembles a
weaver’s beam rather than a quarter-staff, there would be more
hard knocks than silver to be gained; but it is all the more
pity that such skill and strength should be thrown away in a
convent. Perhaps it is as well that you are wearing a monk’s
gown, for methinks that, eight to one as we are, some of us
might have got broken heads before we gained the few pence



AT DUNBAR 89

in your pocket. Come on men; better luck next time. It is
clear that this man is not the one we are charged to capture.”
And with his followers he rode off across the moor.

“I do not think that they are what they seem, Oswald said,
as they resumed their journey. “The man’s speech was not
that of a border raider, and his followers would hardly have
sat their horses so silently and obeyed his orders so promptly
had they been merely thieving caterans; besides, you marked
that he said you were not the man they were watching for.”

“ Whom think you that they are then, Master Oswald?”

“T think it possible that they may be a party of Douglas’s
followers, led by a knight. It may be that Douglas has
received some hint of March’s being in communication with
England, and that he has sent a party to seize and search any
traveller who looked like a messenger from the south. Of
course this may be only fancy. Still, I am right glad that you
were wearing your monkish robe, for had I been alone I might
have been cross-questioned so shrewdly as to my purpose in
travelling, that I might have been held on suspicion, and
means employed to get the truth out of me.”

At the small town where they stopped next night they
learned that many complaints had been made by travellers
from the south of how they had been stopped by a party of
armed men on the border, closely questioned, and searched,
and in some cases robbed. This had been going on for some
weeks, and the sheriff of the county had twice collected an
armed force and ridden in search of the robbers, but alto-
gether without success. It was believed that they were stran-
gers to the district, and the description given of them had
not agreed with those of any noted bad characters in the
neighbourhood.

“ Certainly, Master Oswald,” the monk said, “all this seems
to support your idea. Money and valuables are soon found ;



Full Text









See! THE ARMS
THE CREST OF THE
PERCIES

| AND THE SPEAR OF THE
WARRIOR 9 oo

AND THE LONG sckee








The Baldwin Library

University
Bre
iT Florida


BOTH SIDES THE BORDER


IT WAS WITH THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY THAT HE GUARDED
HIS HEAD,
BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

@ Tale of Potspur and Glendowwer

BY
G. A. HENTY

Author of “A March on London,” “ Beric the Briton,” “ Held Fast for England,’?
*¢ Wolf the Saxon,” “A Jacobite Exile,” &c., &c,

WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY RALPH PEACOCK

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
1898
CopyrRIGHT, 1898, BY

CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
PREEACE

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

G. A. HENTY.


CHAPTER

I.

Il.
III.
IV.
Vv.
VI.
VIL.
VIIL
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI.
XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.
XX.
XXI.

CONTENTS

A BorDER HOLD
ACROSS THE BORDER : : .
AT ALNWICK . ; ; 7 .

AN UNEQUAL JoUST .

A MISSION é ; s ° 6
AT DUNBAR . . .
Back TO HOTSPUR . ‘ . .

LupLow CASTLE

THE WELSH RISING

A BreacH oF Duty 5 ;
BaD NEws .. ‘ . .
A DANGEROUS MISSION .

ESCAPE

In HIDING

ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW

A LETTER FOR THE KING. .
KNIGHTED . 5 :
GLENDOWER

Tux BaTTLe oF HomMiLpoN HILL
THE Percys’ DISCONTENT

SHREWSBURY . ‘ .

PAGE

268
287
306
324

ee 4




ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE
It WAS WITH THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY THAT HE GUARDED

HIS HEAD . . . . : : a 5 Frontispiece
« THIg Is THE NEPHEW OF ALWYN ForRSTER” . é i . 42
THEY JOURNEYED PLEASANTLY ALONG a f . , ‘ 82
“WHO IS GOING TO TEACH ME?” 5 : ; 6 ‘ = 100
OSWALD THREW HIS ARMS ROUND TWO OF THEM. . 5 epee tks}

To OSWALD’S ASTONISHMENT TWO YOUNG WOMEN STOOD BE-

FORE HIM . é 5 . : a : . ; Tae)
ARMSTRONG TOOK HIS PLACE BY HIS SON’S PALLET . : ee 200)
“LET THE ROPE PASS GRADUALLY THROUGH YOUR HANDS eee 220
“[ AM WELL PLEASED WITH You, OSWALD)’. : . . 262
“Now, I THINK WE SHALL DO, RoGER” . ‘ : , - 290

“Tow GLAD I AM TO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY OF THANKING
you”. . . é : . : . . : ° song 22

“Do NOT SPEAK OF SUCH A THING, I PRAY YOU, MASTER” . 372




BOTH SIDES THE BORDER



CHAPTER I
A BORDER HOLD

}) LAD was: standing on the little look-out turret on
; the top of a border fortalice. The place was
evidently built solely with an eye to defence,
comfort being an altogether secondary consid-
eration. It was a square building of rough stone, the walls
broken only by narrow loopholes, and the door, which was
ten feet above the ground, was reached by broad wooden
steps, which could be hauled up in case of necessity, and were
in fact raised every night. The building was some. forty feet
square. The upper floor was divided into several chambers,
which were the sleeping-places of its lord and master, his
family, and the women of the household.

The floor below, on to which the door from without opened,
was undivided save by two rows of stone pillars that supported
the beams of the floor above. In one corner the floor, some
fifteen feet square, was raised somewhat above the general
level: this was set aside for the use of the master and the
family ; the rest of the apartment was used as the living and
I


2 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

sleeping room of the followers and hinds of the fortalice.
The basement — which, although on a level with the ground
outside, could be approached only by a trap-door and ladder
from the room above—was the store-room, and contained
sacks of barley and oatmeal, sides of bacon, firewood, sacks
of beans, and trusses of hay for the use of the horses and
cattle should the place have to stand a short siege. In the
centre was a well.

. The roof of the house was flat, and paved with square blocks
of stone; a parapet three feet high surrounded it. In the
centre was the look-out tower rising twelve feet above it, and
over the door another turret, projecting some eighteen inches
beyond the wall of the house, slits being cut in the stone floor
through which missiles could be dropped or boiling lead poured
upon any trying to assault the entrance. Outside was a court-
yard extending round the house ; it was some ten yards across,
and surrounded by a wall twelve feet high, with a square
turret at each corner. Everything was roughly constructed,
although massive and solid. With the exception of the door,
and the steps leading to it, no wood had been used in the
construction ; the very beams were of rough stone; the floors
were of the same material. It was clearly the object of the
builders to erect a fortress that could defy fire, and could only
be destroyed at the cost of enormous labour.

This was indeed a prime necessity, for the hold stood in the
wild country between the upper waters of the Coquet and the
Reed River. Harbottle and Longpikes rose but a few miles
away, and the whole country was broken up by deep ravines
and valleys, fells and crags. From the edge of the moorland,
a hundred yards from the outer wall, the ground dropped
sharply down into the valley, where the two villages of Yard-
hope lay on a little burn running into the Coquet. In other
directions the moor extended for a distance of nearly a mile.


A BORDER HOLD / 3

On this two or three score of cattle and a dozen shaggy little
horses were engaged in an effort to keep life together upon
the rough herbage that grew among the heather and blocks
of stones scattered everywhere.

Presently the lad caught sight of the flash of the sun, which
had but just risen behind him, on a spear-head at the western
edge of the moor. He ran down at once from his post to the
principal room.

“They are coming, mother,” he exclaimed; “I have just
seen the sun glint on a spear-head.”

“T trust that they are all there,” she said, and then turned
to two women by the fire and bade them put on more wood
and get the pots boiling.

“Go up again, Oswald, and as soon as you can make out
your father’s figure bring me down news. I have not closed
an eye for the last two nights, for ’tis a more dangerous enter-
prise than usual on which they have gone.”

“Father always comes home all right, mother,” the boy
said confidently, “and they have a strong band this time.
They were to have been joined by Thomas Gray and his
following, and Forster of Currick, and John Liddel, and Percy
Hope of Bilderton. They must have full sixty spears. The
Bairds are like to pay heavily for their last raid hither.”

Dame Forster did not reply, and Oswald ran up again to the
look-out. By this time the party for whom he was watching
had reached the moor. It consisted of twelve or fourteen
horsemen all clad in dark armour, carrying very long spears
and mounted on small but wiry horses. They were driving
before them a knot of some forty or fifty cattle, and three of
them led horses carrying heavy burdens. Oswald’s quick eye
noticed that four of the horsemen were not carrying their
spears.

“They are three short of their number,” he said to himself,
4 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“and those four must all be sorely wounded. Well, it might
have been worse.” Oswald had been brought up to regard
forays and attacks as ordinary incidents of life. Watch and
ward were always kept in the little fortalice, especially when
the nights were dark and misty, for there was never any say-
ing when a party of Scottish borderers might make an attack,
for the truces so often concluded between the border wardens
had but slight effect on the prickers, as the small chieftains on
both sides were called, who maintained a constant state of
warfare against each other.

The Scotch forays were more frequent than those from the
English side of the border, not because the people were more
warlike, but because they were poorer and depended more
entirely upon plunder for their subsistence. There was but
little difference of race between the peoples on the opposite
side of the border; both were largely of mixed Danish and
Anglo-Saxon blood, for when William the Conqueror carried
fire and sword through Northumbria, great numbers of the
inhabitants moved north and settled in the district beyond
the reach of the Norman arms. On the English side of the
border the population were in time leavened by Norman blood,
as the estates were granted by William to his barons. These
often married the heiresses of the dispossessed families, while
their followers found wives among the native population.

The frequent wars with the Scots, in which every man
capable of bearing arms in the Northern Counties had to take
part, and the incessant border warfare maintained a most
martial spirit among the population, who considered retalia-
tion for injuries received to be a natural and lawful act. This
was to some extent heightened by the fact that the terms of
many of the truces specifically permitted those who had
suffered losses on either side to pursue their plunderers across
the border. These raids were not accompanied by bloodshed


A BORDER HOLD 5

except when resistance was made, for between the people,
descended as they were from a common stock, there was no
active animosity, and at ordinary times there was free and
friendly intercourse between them. There were, however,
many exceptions to the mle that unresisting persons were not
injured.

Between many families on opposite sides of the border there
existed blood feuds, arising from the fact that members of
one or the other had been killed in forays, and in these cases
bitter and bloody reprisals were made on either side. The
very border line was ill defined, and people on one side fre-
quently settled on the other, as is shown by the fact that sev-
eral of the treaties contained provisions that those who had
so moved might change their nationality and be accounted as
Scotch or Englishmen as the case might be. Between the
Forsters and the Bairds such a feud had existed for three
generations. It had begun in a raid by the latter; the Fors-
ter of that time had repulsed the attack, and had with his own
hand killed one of the Bairds; six months later he was sur-
prised and killed on his own hearth-stone, at a time when his
son and most of his retainers were away on a raid.

From that time the animosity between the two families had
been unceasing, and several lives had been lost on both sides.
The Bairds with a large party had, three months: before, carried
fire and sword through the district bordering on the main
road as far as Elsdon on the east, and Alwinton on the north.
News of their coming had, however, preceded them; the
villagers of Yardhope had just time to take refuge at Forster’s
hold, and had repulsed the determined attacks made upon it,
until Sir Robert Umfraville brought a strong party to their
assistance and drove the Bairds back towards the frontier.
The present raid from which the party was returning had
been organised partly to recoup those who took part in it
6 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

for the loss of their cattle on that occasion, and partly to
take vengeance upon the Bairds.

As was the custom on both sides of the border, these expe-
ditions were generally composed of members of half a dozen
families with their followers, the one who was at once most
energetic and best acquainted with the intricacies of the
country, and the paths across fells and moors, being chosen
as leader.

Presently Oswald Forster saw one of the party wave his
hand, and at his order four or five of the horsemen rode out
and began to drive the scattered cattle and horses towards
the house. Oswald at once ran down.

“Father is all right, mother; he has just given orders to
the men, and they are driving all the animals in, so I suppose
that the Bairds must be in pursuit. I had better tell the men
to get on their armour?”

Without waiting for an answer he told six men who were
eating their breakfast at the farther end of the room to make
an end of their meal, and get on their steel caps and breast
and back pieces, and take their places in the turret over the
gate into the yard. In a few minutes the animals began to
pour in, first those of the homestead, then the captured herd,
weary and exhausted with their long and hurried journey ;
then came the master with his followers. Mary Forster and
her son stood at the top of the steps ready to greet him.
The gate into the yard was on the opposite side to that of
the doorway of the fortalice, in order that assailants who had
carried it should have to pass round under the fire of the
archers in the turrets before they could attack the building
itself. She gave a little cry as her husband came up. His
left arm was in a sling, his helmet was cleft through, and a
bandage showed beneath it.

“Do not be afraid, wife,” he said cheerily. “We have had
A BORDER HOLD 7

hotter work than we expected, but, so far as I am concerned,
there is no great harm done. I am sorry to say that we have
lost Long Hal, and Rob Finch, and Smedley. Two or three
others are sorely wounded, and I fancy few have got off alto-
gether scathless. All went well until we stopped to wait for
daybreak three miles from Allan Baird’s place. Some shep-
herd must have got sight of us as we halted, for we found him
and his men up and ready. They had not had time, how-
ever, to drive in the cattle; and seeing that we should like
enough have the Bairds swarming down upon us before we
could take Allan’s place, we contented ourselves with gather-
ing the cattle and driving them off. There were about two
hundred of them.

“We went fast, but in two hours we saw the Bairds coming
in pursuit; and as it was clear that they would overtake us,
hampered as we were with the cattle, we stood and made
defence. There was not much difference in numbers, for the
Bairds had not had time to gather in all their strength. The
fight was a stiff one. On our side Percy Hope was killed, and
John Liddel so sorely wounded that there is no hope of his
life. We had sixteen men killed outright, and few of us but
are more or less scarred. On their side Allan Baird was killed
and John was smitten down, but how sorely wounded I cannot
say for certain, for they put him on a horse and took him
away at once. They left twenty behind them on the ground
dead; and the rest, finding that we were better men than
they, rode off again.

“ William Baird himself had not come up; his hold was too
far for the news to have reached him, as we knew well enough,
but doubtless he came up with his following a few hours after
we had beaten his kinsmen. But we have ridden too fast for
him to overtake us. We struck off north as soon as we
crossed the border, travelled all night by paths by which they
8 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

will find it difficult to follow or track us, especially as we broke
up into four parties, and each chose their own way. I have
driven all our cattle in, in case they should make straight here
after losing our track. Of course there were many who fought
against us who know us all well; but even were it other than
the Bairds we had despoiled, they would hardly follow us so
far across the border to fetch their cattle. As for the Bairds,
the most notorious of the Scottish raiders, for them to claim
the right of following would be beyond all bearing. Why, I
don’t believe there was a head of cattle among the whole herd
that had not been born and bred on this side of the border.
It is we who have been fetching back stolen goods.”

By this time he and his men had entered the house, and
those who had gone through the fray scathless were, assisted
by the women, removing the armour from their wounded com-
rades. Those who had been forced to relinquish their spears
were first attended to. There was no thought of sending for
a leech. Every man and woman within fifty miles of the
border was accustomed to the treatment of wounds, and in
every hold was a store of bandages, styptics, and unguents
ready for instant use. Most of the men were very sorely
wounded, and had they been of less hardy frame and less
inured to. hardships could not have supported the long ride.
John Forster, before taking off his own armour, saw that
their wounds were first attended to by his wife and her
women.

“1 think they will all do,” he said, “and that they will live
to strike another blow at the Bairds yet. Now, Osivald, un-
buckle my harness. Your mother will bandage up my arm
and head, and Elspeth shall bring up a full tankard from be-
low for each of us. A draught of beer will do as much good
as all the salves and medicaments. Do you take the first
drink, Jock Samlen, and then go up to the watch-tower. I
A BORDER HOLD 9

gee the men have been posted in the wall-turrets. One of
them shall relieve you shortly.”

As soon as the wounds were dressed, bowls of porridge
were served round, then one of the men who had remained
at home was posted at the look-out, and after the cattle had
been seen to, all who had been on the road stretched them-
selves on some rushes at one end of the room, and were
in a few minutes sound asleep.

“I wonder whether we shall ever have peace in the land,
Oswald,” his mother said with a sigh, as, having seen that the
women had all'in readiness for the preparation of the midday
meal, she sat down on a low stool by his side.

«I don’t see how we ever can have, mother, until either we
conquer Scotland, or the Scotch shall be our masters. It is
not our fault; they are ever raiding and plundering, and heed
not the orders of Douglas or the other Lords of the Marches.”

“We are almost as bad as they are, Oswald.”

“Nay, mother, we do but try to take back our own; as
father well said, the cattle that were brought in are all English
that have been taken from us by the Bairds, and we do but
pay them back in their own coin. It makes but little differ-
ence whether we are at war or peace, these reiving caterans
are ever on the move. It was but last week that Adam Gor-
don and his bands wasted Tynedale as far as Bellingham, and
carried off, they say, two thousand head of cattle, and slew
many of the people. If we did not cross the border some-
times and give them a lesson, they would become so bold that
there would be no limit to their raids.”

“That is all true enough, Oswald; but it is hard that we
should always require to be on the watch, and that no one
within forty miles of the border can at any time go to sleep
with the surety that he will not ere morning hear the raiders
knocking at his gate.”
10 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“ Methinks that it would be dull were there nought to do
but to look after the cattle,” Oswald replied. It seemed to
him, bred up as he had been amid constant forays and excite-
ments, that the state of things was a normal one, and that
it was natural that a man should need to have his spear ever
ready at hand, and to give or take hard blows. “ Besides,”
he went on, “ though we. carry off each other’s cattle and fetch
them home again, we are not bad friends while the truces
hold, save in the case of those who have blood feuds. It was
but last week that Allan Armstrong and his two sisters were
staying here with us, and I promised that ere long I would
ride across the border and spend a week with them.”

“Yes, but that makes it all the worse. Adam Armstrong
married my sister Elizabeth, whom he first met at Goddington
fair, and indeed there are few families on either side of the
border who have not both English and Scotch blood in their
veins. It is natural we should be friends, seeing how often
we have held Berwick, Roxburgh, and Dumfries, and how
often in times of peace Scotchmen come across the border to
trade at the fairs. Why should it not be so when we speak
the same tongue, and, save for the border line, are one people?
Though indeed it is different in Kirkcudbright and Wigtown,
where they are Galwegians, and their tongue is scarce under-
stood by the border Scots. ‘Tis strange that those on one
side of the border and those on the other cannot keep the
peace towards each other.”

“ But save when the kingdoms are at war, mother, we do
keep the peace, except in the matter of cattle-lifting, and bear
no enmity towards each other save when blood is shed. In
war-time each must, of course, fight for his nation and as his
lord orders him. We have wasted Scotland again and again
from end to end, and they have swept the Northern Counties
well-nigh as often. I have heard father say that eight times




A BORDER HOLD 11

in the last hundred years this hold has been levelled to the
ground. It only escaped last time because he built it so
strongly of stone that they could not fire it, and it would have
taken them almost as long to pick it to pieces as it took him
to build it.”

“Yes, that was when you were an infant, Oswald. When
we heard the Scotch army was marching this way, we took
refuge with all the cattle and horses among the Pikes, having
first carried out and burnt all the forage and stores, and leav-
ing nothing that they could set fire to. Your father has often
laughed at the thought of how angry they must have been when
they found that there was no mischief that they could do, for,
short of a long stay, which they never make, there was no
way in which they could damage it. Ours was the only house
that escaped scot-free for thirty miles round; but indeed ’t is
generally but parties of pillagers who trouble this part of the
country even when they invade England. There is richer
booty by far to be gathered in Cumberland and Durham, for
here we have nought but our cattle and horses, and of these
they have as many on their side of the border. It is the
plunder of the towns that chiefly attracts them, and while
they go past here empty-handed, they always carry great
trains of booty on their backward way.”

“Still it would be dull work if there were no fighting,
mother.”

“There is no fighting in Southern England, Oswald, save
for those who go across the sea to fight the French, and yet
I suppose they find life less dull than we do. They have
more to do. Here there is little tillage, the country is poor;
and who would care to break up the land and to raise crops
when any night your ricks might be in flames, and your grana-
ries plundered? Thus there is nought for us to do but to
keep cattle, which need but little care and attention, and
12 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

which can be driven off to the fells when the Scots make a
great raid ; but in the south, as I have heard, there is always
much for farmers to attend to, and those who find life dull
-can always enter the service of some warlike lord and follow
him across the sea.”

Oswald shook his head. The quiet pursuits of a farmer
seemed to him to be but a poor substitute for the excitement
. of border war. “It may be as you say, mother, but for my
part I would rather enter the service of the Percys, and gain
honour under their banner, than remain here day after day
merely giving aid in driving the cattle in and out, and won-
dering when the Bairds are coming this way again.”

His mother shook her head. Her father and two brothers
had both been slain the last time a Scottish army had crossed
the border ; and although she naturally did not regard constant
troubles in the same light in which a southern woman would
have viewed them, she still longed for peace and quiet, and
was in constant fear that sooner or later the feud with the
Bairds, who were a powerful family, would cost her husband
his life. Against open force she had little fear. The hold
could resist an attack for days, and long ere it yielded, help
would arrive ; but although the watch was vigilant, and every
precaution taken, it might be captured by a sudden night
attack. William Baird had, she knew, sworn a great oath
that Yardhope Hold should one day be destroyed, and the
Forsters wiped out root and branch. And the death of his
cousin Allan in the last raid would surely fan the fire of his
hatred against them.

“One never can say what may happen,” she said after a
pause ; “but if at any time evil should befall us, and you
escape, remember that your uncle Alwyn is in Percy’s ser-
vice, and you cannot do better than go to him and place
yourself under his protection, and act as he may advise you.


A BORDER HOLD 13

I like not the thought that you should become a man-at-arms ;
and yet methinks that it is no more dangerous than that of a
householder on the fells. At least, in a strong castle a man
can sleep without fear, whereas none can say as much here.”

“If aught should happen to my father and you, mother, you
may be sure that I should share in it; the Bairds would spare
no one if they captured the hold. And although father will
not as yet take me with him on his forays, I should do my
share of fighting if the hold were attacked.”

“JT am sure that you would, Oswald; and were it captured
I have no doubt that, as you say, you would share our fate.
I speak not with any thought that it is likely things will turn
out as I say; but they may do so, and therefore I give you my
advice to seek out your uncle. As to a capture of our hold,
of that I have generally but little fear; but the fact that your
father has been wounded and three of his men killed, and that
another Baird has fallen, has brought the possibility that it
may happen more closely to my mind this morning than usual.
Now, my boy, you had best spend an hour in cleaning up your
father’s armour and arms. ‘The steel cap must go to the ar-
mourer at Alwinton for repair, but you can get some of the
dints out of his breast and back pieces, and can give them
a fresh coat of black paint;” for the borderers usually
darkened their armour, so that in their raids their presence
should not be betrayed by the glint of sun or moon upon
them.
- Oswald at once took up the armour and went down the steps
into the courtyard, so that the sound of his hammer should
not disturb the sleepers. As with slight but often-repeated
blows he got out the dints that had been made in the fray, he
thought over what his mother had been saying. ‘To him also
the death of three of the men, who had for years been his
companions, came as a shock. It was seldom, indeed, that the
14 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

forays for cattle-lifting had such serious consequences. Asa
rule they were altogether bloodless, and it was only because of
the long feud with the Bairds, and the fact that some warning
of the coming of the party had, in spite of their precaution,
reached Allan Baird, that on the present occasion such serious
results had ensued.

Had it not been for this, the cattle would have been driven
off without resistance, for Allan Baird’s own household would
not have ventured to attack so strong a party. No attempt
would have been made to assault his hold, for he had often
heard his father say that even in the case of a blood feud he
held that houses should not be attacked and their occupants
slain. If both parties met under arms, the matter was different ;
but that, in spite of the slaying of his own father by them, he
would not kill even a Baird on his hearth-stone. Still, a Baird
had been killed, and assuredly William Baird would not be
deterred by any similar scruples. His pitiless ferocity was
notorious, and even his own countrymen cried out against
some of his deeds, and the Earl of Douglas had several times
threatened to hand him over to the English authorities; but
the Bairds were powerful, and could, with their allies, place
four or five hundred men in the field, and in the difficult coun-
try in which they lived could have given a great deal of trouble
even to Douglas. Therefore nothing had come of his threats,
and the Bairds had continued to be the terror of that part of
the English border that was the most convenient for their
operations.

Oswald was now past sixteen, and promised to be as big
aman as his father, who was a fine specimen of the hardy
Northumbrian race, — tall, strong, and sinewy. He had felt
hurt when his father had refused to allow him to take part in
the foray.

“Time enough, lad, time enough,” he had said when the lad
A BORDER HOLD 15

had made his petition to do so. “You are not strong enough
yet to hold your own against one of the Bairds’ moss-troopers,
should it come to fighting. In another couple of years it will
be time enough to think of your going on such an excursion
as this. You are clever with your arms, I will freely admit,
as you ought to be, seeing that you practise for two hours a
day with the men. But strength counts as well as skill, and
you want both when you ride against the Bairds; besides, at
present you have still much to learn about the paths through
the fells and across the morasses. If you are ever to become
a leader, you must know them well enough to traverse them
on the darkest night, or through the thickest mist.”

“TJ think that I do know most of them, father.”

“Yes, I think you do, on this side of the border; but you
must learn those on the other side as well. They are, indeed,
of even greater importance, in case of pursuit or for crossing
the border unobserved. Hitherto I have forbidden you to
cross the line, but in future Mat Wilson shall go with you. He
knows the Scotch passes and defiles better than any in the
band, and so that you don’t go near the Bairds’ country you
can traverse them safely so long as the truce lasts.”

For years indeed, Oswald, on one of the hardy little horses,
had ridden over the country in company with one or other of
the men, and had become familiar with every morass, moor,
fell, and pass, down to the old Roman wall to the south, and
as far north as Wooler, being frequently absent for three or
four days at a time. He had several times ridden into Scot-
land to visit the Armstrongs and other friends of the family,
but he had ‘always travelled by the roads, and knew nothing of
the hill paths on that side. His life had, in fact, been far
from dull, for they had many friends and connections in the
villages at the foot of the Cheviots, and he was frequently
away from home.
16 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

His journeys were generally performed on horseback, but
his father encouraged him to take long tramps on foot, in
order that he might strengthen his muscles, and would not
unfrequently give him leave to pay visits on condition that he
travelled on foot instead of in the saddle. Constant exercise
in climbing, riding, and with his weapons, and at wrestling
and other sports, including the bow, had hardened every
muscle of his frame, and he was capable of standing any
fatigues; and although his father said that he could not hold
his own against men, he knew that the lad could do so against
any but exceptionally powerful ones, and believed that when
the time came he would, like himself, be frequently chosen as
leader in border forays. He could already draw the strongest
bow to the arrow-head, and send a shaft with a strength that
would suffice to pierce the light armour worn by the Scotch
borderers.

It was by the bow that the English gained the majority of
their victories over their northern neighbours, who did not
take to the weapon, and were unable to stand for a moment
against the English archers, who not only loved it as a sport,
but were compelled by many ordinances to practise with it
from their childhood. Of other education he had none, but
in this respect he was no worse off than the majority of the
knights and barons of the time, who were well content to trust
to monkish scribes to draw up such documents as were re-
quired and to affix their seal to them. He himself had once,
some six years before, expressed a wish to be sent for a year
to the care of the monks at Rothbury, whose superior was a
distant connection of his father, in order to be taught to read
and write, but John Forster had scoffed at the idea.

“You have to learn to be a man, lad,” he had said, “and
the monks will never teach you that. I do not know one letter
.from another, nor did my father, or any of my forebears, and


A BORDER HOLD 17

we were no worse for it. On the marches, unless a man means
to become a monk he has to learn to make his sword guard his
head,.to send an arrow straight to the mark, to know every
foot of the passes, and to be prepared at the order of his lord
to defend his country against the Scots. These are vastly more
important matters than reading and writing, which are, so far
as I can see, of no use to any fair man, whose word is his bond,
and who deals with honest men. I can reckon up, if I sell so
many cattle, how much has to be paid, and more of learning
than that I want not, nor do you, and every hour spent on it
would be as good as wasted. As to the monks, Heaven forfend
that you should ever become one. They are good men, I
doubt not, and I suppose that it is necessary that some should
take to it; but that a man who has the full possession of his
limbs should mew himself up for life between four walls, passing
his time in vigils and saying masses, in reading books and dis-
tributing alms, seems to me to be a sort of madness.”

“T certainly do not wish to become a monk, father; but I
thought that I should like to learn to read and write.”

‘And when you have learnt it, what then, Oswald? Books
are expensive playthings, and no scrap of writing has ever
been inside the walls of Yardhope Hold since it was first built
here, as far as I know. As to writing, it would be of still less
use. Ifa man has a message to send, he can send it by a hired
man, if it suits him not to ride himself. Besides, if he had
written it, the person he sent it to would not be able to read
it, and would have to go to some scribe for an interpretation
of its contents. No, no, my lad, you have plenty to learn
before you come to be a man, without bothering your head
with this monkish stuff. I doubt if Hotspur himself can do
more than sign his name to a parchment, and what is good
enough for the Percys is surely good enough for you.”

The idea had in fact been put into Oswald’s head by his

2
18 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

mother. At that time the feud with the Bairds had burned
very hotly, and it would have lessened her anxieties had the
boy been bestowed for a time in a convent. Oswald himself
felt no disappointment at his father’s refusal to a petition that
he would never have made had not his mother dilated to him
on several occasions upon the great advantage of learning. No
thought of repeating the request had ever entered his mind.
His father had thought more of it, and had several times
expressed grave regret to his wife over such an extraordinary
wish having occurred to their son.

“The boy has nothing of a milk-sop about him,” he said,
“and is for his age full of spirit and courage. How so strange
an idea could have occurred to him is more than I can
imagine. I should as soon expect to see an owlet in a
sparrow-hawk’s nest as a monk hatched in Yardhope Hold.”

His wife discreetly kept silence as to the fact that she her-
self had first put the idea in the boy’s head, for although Mary
Forster was mistress inside of the hold, in all other matters
John was masterful and would brook no meddling even by her.
The subject, therefore, of Oswald’s learning to read and write
was never renewed.

CHAPTER II

ACROSS THE BORDER

MOST vigilant watch was kept up for the next week at
Yardhope Hold. At night three or four of the troopers

were posted four or five miles from the hold, on the roads by
which an enemy was likely to come, having under them the
fleetest horses on the moor. When a week passed there was
some slight relaxation in the watch, for it was evident that the


ACROSS THE BORDER 19

Bairds intended to bide their time for a stroke, knowing well
that they would not be likely to be able to effect a surprise at
present. ‘The outlying posts were therefore no longer main-
tained, but the dogs of the hold, fully a dozen in number, were
chained nightly in a circle three or four hundred yards outside
it, and their barking would at once apprise the watchers in the
turrets on the walls of the approach of any body of armed
men.

Two days later Oswald started for his promised visit to the
Armstrongs. It was not considered necessary that he should
be accompanied by any of- the troopers, for Hinultie lay but a
few miles across the frontier. In high spirits he galloped
away, and riding through Yardhope was soon at Alwinton, and
thence took the track through Kidland Lee, passed round the
head of the Usmay brook, along the foot of Maiden Cross
Hill, and crossed the frontier at Windy Guile. Here he
stood on the crest of the Cheviots, and descending passed
along at the foot of Windburgh Hill, and by noon entered
the tiny hamlet of Hinultie, above which, perched on one of
the spurs of the hill, stood the Armstrongs’ hold. It was
smaller than that of Yardhope and. had no surrounding wall,
but, like it, was built for defence against a sudden attack.

Adam Armstrong was on good terms with his neighbours
across the border. Although other members of his family
were frequently engaged in forays, it was seldom indeed that
he buckled on armour, and only when there was a general call
to arms. He was, however, on bad terms with the Bairds,
partly because his wife was a sister of Forster’s, partly because
of frays that had arisen between his herdsmen and those of
the Bairds, for his cattle wandered far and wide on the moun-
tain slopes to the south, and sometimes passed the ill-defined
line, beyond which the Bairds regarded the country as their
own. Jedburgh was but ten miles away, Hawick but six or
20 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

seven, and any stay after the sun rose would speedily have
brought strong bodies of men from these towns, as well as
from his still nearer neighbours, at Chester, Abbotrule, and
Hobkirk.

Oswald’s approach was seen, and two of his cousins — Allan,
who was a lad of about the sarne age, and Janet, a year
younger —ran out from the house to meet him.

“We have been expecting you for the last ten days,” the
former exclaimed, “and had well-nigh given you up.”

“T hold you to be a laggard,” the girl added, “and unless
you can duly excuse yourself shall have nought to say to you.”

“‘ My excuse is a good one, Janet. My father made a foray
a fortnight since into the Bairds’ country, to rescue some of
the cattle they had driven off from our neighbours some days
before. There was a sharp fight, and Allan Baird was killed,
and since then we have been expecting a return visit from
them, and have been sleeping with our arms beside us.
Doubtless they will come some day, but as it is evident they
don’t mean to come at present, my father let me leave.”

“In that case we must forgive you,” the-girl said. ‘Some
rumours of the fray have reached us, and my father shook his
head gravely when he heard that another Baird had been
killed by the Forsters.”

“Tt was not only us,” Oswald replied. ‘There were some
of the Liddels, and the Hopes, and other families, engaged.
My father was chosen as chief; but this time it was not our
quarrel but theirs, for we had lost no cattle, and my father
only joined because they had aided us last time, and he could
not hold back now. Of course he was chosen as chief be-
cause he knows the country so well.” |

“Well, come in, Oswald. It is poor hospitality to keep you
talking here outside the door.”

A boy had already taken charge of Oswald’s horse, and


ACROSS THE BORDER 21

after unstrapping his valise had led it to a stable that formed
the basement of the house.

“Well, laddie, how fares it with you at home?’’? Adam
Armstrong said heartily as they mounted the steps to the
main entrance. ‘We have heard of your wild doings with
the Bairds. ’Tis a pity that these feuds should go on from
father to son, ever getting more and more bitter. But there,
we can no more change a borderer’s nature than you can
stop the tide in the Solway. I hear that it was well-nigh a
pitched battle.” .

“There was hard fighting,” Oswald replied. “Three of our
troopers and eight or ten of the others were killed. My
father was.twice wounded, one of the Hopes was killed, and a
Liddel severely wounded. But, from what they say, the Bairds
suffered more. Had they not done so there would have been
a hot pursuit, but as far as we know there was none.”

“The Bairds will bide their time,” Armstrong said gravely.
“They are dour men, and will take their turn though they
wait ten years for it.”

“ At any rate, they won’t catch us sleeping, uncle, and come
they however strong they may, they will find it hard work to
capture the hold.” i

“ Ay, ay, lad, but I don’t think they will try to knock their
heads against your wall. They are more like to sweep down
on a sudden, and your watchman will need keen eyes to make
. them out before they are thundering at the gate or climbing
up the wall. However, your father knows his danger, and it
is of no use talking more of it. What is done, is done.”

“ And how is your mother, Oswald?” Mistress Armstrong
asked.

“She is well, aunt, and bade me give her love to you.”

“Truly I wonder she keeps her health with all these troubles
and anxieties. We had hoped that, after the meeting last
22 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

March of the Commissioners on both sides, when the Lords
of the Marches plighted their faith to each other and agreed
to surrender all prisoners without ransom and to forgive all
offenders, we should have had peace on the border. As you
know, there were but three exceptions named ; namely, Adam
Warden, William Baird, and Adam French, whom the Scotch
Commissioners bound themselves to arrest and to hand over
to the English Commissioners, to be tried as being notorious
truce-breakers, doing infinite mischief to the dwellers on the
English side of the border. And yet nothing has come of it,
and these men still continue to make their raids without check
or hindrance either by the Earl of March or Douglas.”

“There are faults on both sides, wife,” her husband said.

“J do not deny it, gudeman; but I have often heard you
say these three men are the pests of the border, and that were
it not for them things might go on reasonably enough, for no
one counts a few head of cattle lifted now and again. It is
bad enough that every two or three years armies should march
across the border, one way or the other, but surely we might
live peaceably between times. Did not I nearly lose you at
Otterburn, and had you laid up on my hands for well-nigh six
months?”

“ Ay, that was a sore day for both sides.”

«“ Will you tell me about it, uncle?” Oswald asked. “ My
father cares not much to talk of it; and though I know
that he fought there, he has never told me the story of the
battle.”

«“ We are just going to sit down to dinner now,” Adam Arm-
strong said, “and the story is a long one; but after we have
done I will tell you of it. Your father need not feel so sore
about it, for since the days of the Bruce you have had as many
victories to count as we have.”

After dinner, however, Armstrong had to settle a dispute




ACROSS THE BORDER 23

between two of his tenants as to grazing rights, and it was
not until evening that he told his story.

“In 1388 there were all sorts of troubles in England, and
France naturally took advantage of them and recommenced
hostilities, and we prepared to share in the game. Word was
sent round privately, and every man was bidden to gather in
Jedburgh forest. I tell you, lad, I went with a heavy heart,
for although men of our name have the reputation of being
as quarrelsome fellows as any that dwell on the border, I am
an exception, and love peace and quiet ; moreover, the children
were but young, and I saw that the fight would be a heavy
business, and I did not like leaving them and their mother.
However, there was no help for it, and we gathered there over
40,000 strong. The main body marched away into Cumber-
land, but Douglas, March, and Moray, with 300 spears and
2,000 footmen, including many an Armstrong, entered North-
umberland.

“We marched without turning to the right or left, or staying
to attack town, castle, or house, till we crossed the river Tyne
and entered Durham. Then we began the war, burning,
ravaging, and slaying. I liked it not, for although when it
comes to fighting I am ready if needs be to bear my part, I
care not to attack peaceful people. It is true that your kings
have over and over again laid waste half Scotland, killing,
slaying, and hanging; but it does not seem to me any satis-

‘faction, because some twenty of my ancestors have been
murdered, to slay twenty people who were not born until long
afterwards, and whose forebears for aught I know may have
had no hand in the slaughter of mine. However, having
laden ourselves with plunder from Durham, we sat down for
three days before Newcastle, where we had some sharp skir-
mishes with Sir Henry and his brother Sir Ralph Percy, and
in one of these captured Sir Henry’s pennant.
24 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Then we marched away to Otterburn, after receiving
warning from Percy that he intended to win his pennant, back
again before we left Northumberland. We attacked Otterburn
Castle, but failed to carry it, for it was strong and well de-
fended. There was a council that night, and most of the
leaders were in favour of retiring at once to Scotland with the
abundance of spoil that we had gained. But Douglas per-
suaded them to remain two or three days and to capture the
castle, and not to go off as if afraid of Percy’s threats. So we
waited all the next day, and at night the Percys with 600
spears and 8,000 infantry came up. Our leaders had not been
idle; for they had examined the ground carefully, and arranged
how the battle should be fought if we were attacked.

“ Having heard nothing of the English all day, we lay down
to sleep, not expecting to hear aught of them until the morning.
It was a moonlight night, and, being in August, there was
but a short darkness between the twilights, and the English,
arriving, at once made an attack, falling first on the servants’
huts, which they took for those of the chiefs. This gave us
time to form up in good order, as we had lain down each in
his proper position. A portion of the force went down to
skirmish with the English in front, but the greater portion
marched along the mountain side and fell suddenly upon the
English flank. At first there was great confusion, but the
English being more numerous soon recovered their order and
pushed us back, though not without much loss on both sides.

“Douglas shouted his battle-cry, advanced his banner, fight-
ing most bravely, as did Sir Patrick Hepburn, but for whose
bravery the Douglas banner would have been taken, for the
Percys, hearing the cry of ‘a Douglas! a Douglas!’ pressed
to that part of the field and bore us backwards. I was in the
midst of it with ten of my kinsmen; and though we all fought
as became men, we were pressed back, and began to think that




>

ACROSS THE BORDER 25

the day would be lost. Then the young earl, furious at seeing
disaster threaten him, dashed into the midst of the English
ranks swinging his battle-axe, and for a time cutting a way
for himself. But one man’s strength and courage can go for
but little in such a fray. Some of his knights and squires had
followed him, but in the darkness it was but few who per-
ceived his advance.

“Presently three knights met him, and all their spears
pierced him, and he was borne from his horse mortally
wounded. Happily the English were unaware that it was
Douglas who had fallen. Had they known it, their courage
would have been mightily raised, and the day would assuredly
have been lost. We too were ignorant that Douglas had fallen,
and still fought on. In other parts of the field March and
Moray were holding their own bravely. Sir Ralph Percy, who
had, like Douglas, charged almost alone into Moray’s ranks,
was sorely wounded, and, being surrounded, surrendered: to
Sir John Maxwell. Elsewhere many captures were made by
both parties; ‘but as the fight went on the advantage turned
to our side, for we had rested all the day before, and began
the battle fresh, after some hours of sleep, while the English
had marched eight leagues and were weary when they began
the fight.

“‘Sir James Lindsay and Sir Walter Sinclair with some other
knights who had followed Douglas found him still alive. With
his last words he ordered them to raise his banner and to shout
‘Douglas !’ so that friends and foes should think that he was of
their party. These instructions they followed. We and others
pressed forwards on hearing the shout, and soon, a large party
being collected, resumed the battle at this point. Moray and
March both bore their arrays in the direction where they
believed Douglas to be battling, and so together we pressed
upon the English so hardly that they retreated, and for five
26 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

miles we pursued them very hotly. Very many prisoners were
taken, but all of quality were at once put to ransom and
allowed to depart, on giving their knightly word of payment
within fifteen days.

“Tt was a great victory, and in truth none of us well knew
how it had come about, for the English had fought as well and

valiantly as we did ourselves; but it is ill for wearied men.

to fight against fresh ones. Never was I more surprised than
when we found that the battle, which for a time had gone
mightily against us, was yet won in the end. Methinks that it
was to a great extent due to the fact that each Englishman
fought for himself, while we, having on the previous day re-
ceived the strictest orders to fight each man under his leader,
to hold together, and to obey orders in all respects, kept in our
companies, and so in the end gained the day against a foe as
brave and much more numerous than ourselves.”

“Thank you, Uncle Armstrong. I have often wondered how
it was that the Percys, being three to one against you, were yet
defeated, fighting on their own ground as it were. Tis long
indeed since we suffered so great a reverse.”

“That is true enough, Oswald. In the days of Wallace and
Bruce we Scots often won battles with long odds against us;
but that was because we fought on foot, and the English for
the most part on horseback, — a method good enough on an
open plain, but ill fitted for a land of morass and hill like
Scotland. Since the English also took to fighting on foot, the
chances have been equal, and we have repulsed invasions not
so much by force as by falling back, and so wasting the coun-
try that the English had but the choice of retreating or starving.
There is reason, indeed, why, when equal forces are arrayed
against each other, the chances should also be equal, for we
are come of the same stock, and the men of the northern
marches of England and those of Scotland are alike hardy and

&




ACROSS THE BORDER 27

accustomed to war. Were we but a united people as you
English are, methinks that there would never have been such
constant wars between us, for English kings would not have
cared to have invaded a country where they would find but
little spoil, and have hard work to take it. But our nobles
have always been ready to turn traitors; they are mostly of
Norman blood and Norman name, and no small part of them
have estates in England as well as in Scotland. Hence it is
that our worst enemies have always been in our midst. And
now it is time for bed, or you will be heavy in the morning ;
and I know that you intend starting at dawn with the dogs,
and have promised to bring in some hares for dinner.”

Not only Oswald and Allan, but Janet also, was afoot early,
and after taking a basin of porridge started for the hills, ac-
companied by four dogs. They carried with them bows and
arrows, in case the dogs should drive the hares within shot.
Six hours later they returned, carrying with them five hares
and a brace of birds. These had both fallen to Oswald’s bow,
being shot while on the ground, for in those days the idea that
it was unsportsmanlike to shoot game except when flying was
unknown. For a week they went out every day, sometimes
with the dogs, but more often with hawks, which were trained
to fly not only at birds in their flight, but at hares, on whose
heads they alighted, pecking them and beating them so fiercely
with their wings that they gave time for the party on foot to

“run up and despatch the quarry with an arrow.

Once or twice they accompanied Adam Armstrong when he
rode to some of the towns in the neighbourhood and spent the
day with friends of the Armstrongs there. For a fortnight the
time passed very pleasantly to the English lad, but at the end
of that time Adam Armstrong returned from a visit to Jed-
burgh with a grave face. ‘I have news,” he said, “ that your
King Richard has been deposed, that Henry, the Duke of
28 BOTH. SIDES THE BORDER

Lancaster, having landed in Yorkshire, was joined by Percy
and the Earl of Westmoreland, and has been proclaimed king.
This will cause great troubles in England, for surely there must
be many there who will not tamely see a king dethroned by
treasonable practices, and another having no just title to the
crown promoted to his place. Such a thing is contrary to all
reason and justice. A king has the same right to his crown as
a noble to his estates, and none may justly take them away
‘save for treasonable practices, and a king cannot commit
treason against himself. ‘Therefore it is like that there will be
much trouble in England, and I fear that there is no chance of
the truce that concludes at the end of this month being
continued.

“ The fact that the two great northern lords of England are
both with their forces in the south will further encourage
trouble, and the peace that with small intermissions has contin-
ued since the battle of Otterburn is like to be broken. ‘There-
fore, my lad, I think it best that you should cut short your
visit by a week, and you shall return and finish it when
matters have settled down. Here in Scotland we are not with-
out troubles ; ill-blood has arisen between March and Douglas,
owing to the Duke of Ramsay breaking his promise to marry
the Earl of March’s daughter and taking Douglas’s girl to wife.
This, too, has sorely angered one more powerful than either
Douglas or March—I mean, of course, Albany, who really
exercises the kingly power.

“But troubles in Scotland will in no way prevent war from
breaking out with England. On the contrary, the quarrel
between the two great lords of our marches will cause them to
loose their hold of the border men, .and I foresee that we shall
have frays and forays among ourselves again, as in the worst
times of old; therefore it were best that you went home.
While these things are going on, the private friendship between




ACROSS THE BORDER 29

so many families on either side of the border must be sus-
pended, and all intercourse, for maybe every man on either
side will be called to arms, and assuredly it will not be safe
for one of either nation to set foot across the border save
armed, and with a strong clump of spears at his back.”

“] shall be sorry indeed to go,” Oswald said, “ but I see
that if troubles do, as you fear, break out at the conclusion of
the peace a fortnight hence — Z

“ They may not wait for that,” Adam Armstrong interrupted
him. “A truce is only a truce so long as there are those
strong enough to enforce it, and with Douglas and March at
variance on our side, and Northumberland and Westmoreland
absent on yours, there are none to see that the truce is not
broken, and from what I hear it may not be many days before
we see the smoke of burning houses rising upon either side of
the border.”

«The more reason for my going home,” Oswald said. “My
father is not likely to be last in a fray, and assuredly he would
not like me to be away across the border when swords are
drawn. Iam very sorry, but I see that there is no help for it,
and to-morrow at daybreak I will start for home.”

That evening was the dullest Oswald had spent during his
visit. The prospect that the two nations might soon be engaged
in another desperate struggle saddened the young cousins, who
felt that a long time might elapse before they again met, and
that in the meantime their fathers, and possibly themselves,
might be fighting in opposite ranks. Although the breaches
of the truces caused, as a rule, but little bloodshed, being in
fact but cattle-lifting expeditions, it was very different in time
of war, when wholesale massacres, took place on both sides,
towns and villages were burned down, and the whole of the
inhabitants put to the sword. Ten years had sufficed to soften
the memory of these events, especially among young people,
30 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

but each had heard numberless stories of wrong and slaughter,
and felt that when war once again broke out in earnest, there
was little hope that there would be any change in the manner
in which it would be conducted.

Oswald rode rapidly until he had crossed the border. The
truce would not expire for another thirteen days, but the
raiders might be at work at any moment, for assuredly there
would be no chance of complaints being made on the eve of
recommencement of general hostilities. He met no one on the
road until he reached the first hamlet on the English side ; here
he stopped to give his horse half an hour’s rest and a feed.
As he dismounted, two or three of the villagers came up.

“Have you heard aught, lad, of any gatherings on the other
side of the border?”

“None from where I came; but there was a talk that
notices had been sent through the southern Scottish marches
for all to be in readiness to gather to the banner without delay
when the summons was received.”

“That is what we have heard,” a man said. “We have made
everything in readiness to drive off our cattle to the fells ; the
beacons are all prepared for lighting from Berwick down to
Carlisle, and assuredly the Scotch will find little near the
border to carry back with them. You are the son of stout
John Forster of Yardhope Keep, are you not? I saw you rid-
ing by his side two months since at Alwinton fair,”

“Yes, I was there with him.”

“He will have hot work if a Scotch army marches into
Tynedale. The Bairds will be sure to muster strongly, and
they won’t forgive the last raid on them, and whichever way
they go you may be sure that your father’s hold will receive
a visit.”

“Tt was but a return raid,”’ Oswald said. The Bairds. had
been down our way but a short time before and lifted all the


ACROSS THE BORDER 31

cattle and horses that they could lay hands on for miles
round.”

“That is true enough. We all know the thieving loons.
But men remember the injuries they have suffered better than
those they have inflicted, and they will count Allan Baird’s
death as more than a set-off for a score of their own
forays.”

“Tf we have only the Bairds to settle with, we can hold our
walls against them,’’ Oswald said; “but if the whole of the
Scotch army come our way, we must do as you are doing,
drive the cattle to the hills, and leave them to do what harm
they can to the stone walls, which they will find it hard work
to damage.”

“Ay, I have heard that they are stronger than ordinary,
and so they need be, seeing that you have a blood feud with
the Bairds. Well, they are not like to have much time to
waste over it, for our sheriff has already sent word here as to
the places where we are to gather when the beacon-fires are
lighted, and you may be sure that the Percys will lose no
time in marching against them with all their array; and the
Scots are like to find, as they have found before, that it is an
easier thing to cross the border than it is to get back.”

Late that evening Oswald returned home. After the first
greetings his father said: “It is high time that you were back,
Oswald. Rumour is busy all along the border; but for my-
- self, though I doubt not that their moss-troopers will be on
the move as soon as the truce ends, I think there will not be
any invasion in force for some little time. The great lords of
the Scotch marches are ill friends with each other, and until
the quarrel between Douglas and Dunbar is patched up,
neither will venture to march his forces into England. It
may be months yet before we see their pennons flying on
English soil. My brother Alwyn has been over here for a day
32 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

or two since you were away. The Percys are down south, so
he was free to ride over here.

“He wants us to send you to him without loss of time. He
Says that there is a vacancy in Percy’s household, owing to
one of his esquires being made a knight, and a page has been
promoted to an esquireship. He said that he spoke to Hot-
spur before he went south anent the matter, and asked him
to enroll you not exactly as a page, but as one who, from his
knowledge of the border, would be a safe and trusty messen-
ger to send in case of need. As he has served the Percys for
thirty years, and for ten has been the captain of their men-at-
arms, and has never asked for aught either for himself or his
relations, Percy gave him a favourable answer, and said that if
on his return he would present you to him, and he found that
you were a lad of manners that would be suitable for a mem-
ber of his household, he would grant his request, partly, too,
because my father and myself had always been stanch men,
and ready at all times to join his banner when summoned and
to fight doughtily. So there seems a good chance of prefer-
ment for you.

“Your mother is willing that you should go. She says, and
truly enough, that if you stay here it will be but to engage, as
I and my forebears have done, in constant feuds with the
Scots, harrying and being harried, never knowing when we
lie down to rest but that we may be woke up by the battle-
shout of the Bairds, and leaving behind us when we die no
more than we took from our fathers. I know not how your
own thoughts may run in the matter, Oswald, but methinks
that there is much in what she says, though for myself I wish
for nothing better than what Iam accustomed to. Percy would
have knighted me had I wished it years ago, but plain Jock
Forster I was born and so will I die when my time comes;
for it would alter my condition in no way, save that as Jock






ACROSS THE BORDER 33

Forster I can lead a raid across the border, but as Sir John
Forster it would be hardly seemly for me to do so save when
there is open war between the countries.

“It is different in your case; you are young, and can fit
yourself to another mode of life, and can win for yourself with
your sword a better fortune than you will inherit from me.
Besides, lad, I am like enough, unless a Baird spear finishes
me sooner, to live another thirty years yet, and it is always
sure to lead to trouble if there are two cocks in one farmyard.
You would have your notions as to how matters should be
done, and I should have mine; and so for many reasons it is
right that you should go out into the world. If matters go
well with you, all the better; if not, you will always be wel-
come back here, and will be master when I am gone. What
say you?”

“Tt comes suddenly upon me, father; but as I have always
thought that I should like to see something of the world be-
yond our own dales, I would gladly, for a time at least, accept
my uncle’s offer, which is a rare one and far beyond my hopes.
I should be sorry to leave you and my mother, but save for
that, it seems to me, as to you, that it would be best for me to
go out into the world for a time.”

“Then that is settled, and to-morrow you shall ride to Aln-
wick and see, at any rate, if aught comes of the matter. Do
not cry, wife; it is your counsel that I am acting upon, and
you have told me you are sure that it is best that he should
go. It is not as if he were taking service with a southern
lord. He will be but a day’s ride away from us, and doubtless
will be able to come over at times and stay a day or two with
us; and once a year, when times are peaceable, you shall ride
behind me on ‘a pillion to see how things go with him at the
Percys’ castle. At any rate, it will be better by far than if he
had carried out that silly fancy of his for putting himself in

3
84 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

the hands of the monks and learning to read and write, which
would perchance have ended in his shaving his crown and
taking to a cowl, and there would have been an end of the
Forsters of Yardhope. Now put that cold joint upon the
table again; doubtless the lad has a wolf's appetite.”

There was no time lost. The next day was spent in looking
out his clothes and packing his valise by his mother, while he
rode round the country to say good-bye to some of his friends.
The next morning at daybreak he started, and at nightfall
rode into the castle of Alnwick and inquired for Alwyn For-
ster. The two men-at-arms, who had regarded his appearance
on his shaggy border horse with scarce concealed contempt, at
once answered civilly that the captain would be found in his
room in the north turret. They then pointed out to him the
stables where he could bestow his horse, and having seen some
hay placed before it, and a feed of barley, to which the animal
was but little accustomed, Oswald made his way up the turret
to the room in which his uncle lodged.

The stately castle, and the beauty as well as the strength of
the Percys’ great stronghold, had in no small degree surprised
and almost awed the lad, accustomed only to the rough border
holds. It was situated on rising ground on the river Aln, and
consisted of a great keep, which dated back to the times of the
Saxons, and three courts, each of which were indeed separate
fortresses, the embattled gates being furnished with portcullises
and strong towers. Within the circuit of its walls it contained
some five acres of ground with sixteen towers, the outer wall
being surrounded by a moat.

The Percys were descended from a Danish chief, who was
one of the conquerors of Normandy, and settled there. The
Percy of the time came over with William the Norman, and
obtained from him the gift of large possessions in the south
of England and in Yorkshire, and, marrying a great Saxon




ACROSS THE BORDER 35

heiress, added to his wide lands in the north. One of the
Percys in the reign of Henry II. made a journey to Jerusalem,
and died in the Holy Land. None of his four sons survived
him. His eldest daughter Maude married the Earl of War-
wick, but, dying childless, her sister Agnes became sole heir to
the broad lands of the Percys. She married the son of the
Duke of Brabant, the condition of her marriage being that he
should either take the arms of the Percys instead of his own,
or continue to bear his own arms and take the name of Percy.
He chose the latter alternative. Their son was one of the
barons who forced King John to grant the Magna Charta.
The Percys always distinguished themselves in the wars against
the Scots, and received at various times grants of territory in that
country, one of them being made Earl of Carrick when Robert
the Bruce raised the standard of revolt against England.

Upon the other hand, they not unfrequently took a share in
risings against the Kings of England, and their estates were
confiscated for a time by their taking a leading part in the
action against Piers Gaveston, the royal favourite. It was in
the reign of Henry II. that the Percy of the time obtained by
purchase the Barony of Alnwick, which from that date became
the chief seat of the family. The present earl was the first
of the rank, having been created by Richard II. He was one
of the most powerful nobles in England, and it was at his invita-
tion that Henry of Lancaster had come over from France and
-had been placed on the throne by the Percys and some other
of the northern nobles, and as a reward for his service the
earl was created High Constable of England.
36 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

CHAPTER III
AT ALNWICK

OU are rarely changed, Oswald,” his uncle said as the
lad entered his apartment. “’Tis three years since
I last saw you, and you have shot up nigh a head since then.”
I should not have known you had I met you in the street, but
as I was expecting you, it is easy to recall your features. I
made sure that you would come, for although your father was
at first averse to my offer I soon found that your mother was
on my side, and I know that in the long run my brother
generally gives in to her wishes; and I was sure that as you
were a lad of spirit you would be glad to try a flight from
home. You are growing up mightily like your father, and
promise to be as big and as strong as we both are; your eyes
speak of a bold disposition, and my brother tells me that you
are already well practised with your arms. You understand
that it is Sir Henry, whom they call Hotspur, that you are to
serve. As to the earl, he is too great a personage for me to
ask a favour from, but Sir Henry is different.

“JT taught him the first use of his arms, and many a bout
have I had with him. He treats me as a comrade rather than
as the captain of his father’s men-at-arms here; and when I
spoke to him about you he said at once, ‘ Bring him here, and
we will see what we can do for him. If he is a fellow of parts
and discretion, I doubt not that we can make him useful. You
say he knows every inch of our side of the border and some-
thing of the Scottish side of it, his mother’s sister being mar-
ried to one of the Armstrongs. There is like to be trouble
before long. You know the purpose for which I am going




AT ALNWICK 387

away; and the Scots are sure to take advantage of changes
in England, and a youth who can ride, and knows the border,
and can, if needs be, strike a blow in self-defence, will not
have to stay idle in the castle long. His father is a stout with-
stander of the Scots, and the earl would have given him knight-
hood if he would have taken it, and maybe in the future the son
will win that honour. He is too old for a page, and I should
say too little versed in our ways for such a post, but I promise
you that when he is old enough he shall be one of my esquires.’
So you may soon have an opportunity of showing Hotspur
what you are made of. And now I doubt not that you are
hungry; I will send down to the buttery for a couple of
tankards and a pasty. I had my supper two hours ago, but I
doubt not that I can keep you company in another.”

He went to the window and called out, “John Horn!”
The name was repeated below, and in two minutes a servant
came up. The captain gave him directions, and they shortly
sat down to a substantial meal.

“The first thing to do, lad, will be to get you garments
more suitable to the Percys’ castle than those you have on;
they are good enough to put on under armour or when you ride
in a foray ; but here one who would ride in the train of the
Percys must make a brave show. It is curfew now, but to-morrow
early we will sally into the town, where we shall find a good
choice of garments for men of all conditions. You hold your-
self well, and you have something of your mother’s softness of |
speech, and will, I think, make a good impression on Sir
Henry when suitably clad. You see, there are many sons of
knights of good repute and standing who would be glad indeed
that their sons should obtain a post in Hotspur’s personal fol-
lowing, and who might grumble were they passed over in
favour of one who, by his appearance, was of lower condition
than themselves.
38 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

John Forster is well known on the border as a valiant
fighter and a leading man in Coquetdale. It is known, too,
that he might have been knighted had he chosen, and doubt-
less there are many who, having heard that his hold is one of
the strongest on the border, give him credit for having far
wider possessions than that bit of moor round the hold, and
grazing rights for miles beyond it. If, then, you make a brave
show, none will question the choice that Hotspur may make ;
but were you to appear in that garb you have on, they might
well deem that your father is, after all, but a moss-trooper. He
told me that you had once a fancy to learn to read and write.
What put that idea into your head? I do not say that it was
not a good one, but at least it was a strange one for a lad
brought up as you have been.”

*“T think, uncle, that it was rather my mother’s idea than
my own; she thought that it might conduce to my advance-
ment should I ever leave the hold and go out into the world.”

« She was quite right, Oswald, and ’tis a pity that you did
not go for a couple of years to a monastery. It is a good
thing to be able to read an order.or to write one, for many of
the lords and knights can dono more than make a shift to sign
their names. As for books, I say nothing, for I see not what
manner of good they are, but father Ernulf, who is chaplain
here, tells me that one who gives his mind to it can in a year
learn enough to write down, not in a clerkly hand, but in one
that can be understood, any letter or order his lord may
wish sent, or to read for him any that he receives. In most
matters, doubtless, an order by word of mouth is just as good
as one writ on vellum, but there are times when a messenger
could not be trusted to deliver one accurately as he receives it,
or it might have to be passed on from hand to hand. Other-
wise a spoken message is the best, for ifa messenger be killed
on the way none are the wiser as to the errand on which he is
AT ALNWICK 89

going, while, if a parchment is found on him, the first priest
or monk can translate its purport. The chaplain has two
younger priests with him, and should you be willing I doubt
not that one of these would give you instruction for an hour or
two of a day. The Percys may not be back for another month
or two, and if you apply yourself to it honestly you might learn
something by that time.”

“T should like it very much, uncle.”

“Then, so it shall be, lad. For two or three hours a day
you must practise in arms, ——I have some rare swordsmen
among my fellows, — but for the rest of the time you will be
your own master. I will speak with father Ernulf in the morn-
ing after we have seen to the matter of your garments.”

A straw pallet was brought up to the chamber, and after
chatting for half an hour about his visit to the Armstrongs,
Oswald took off his riding-boots and jerkin, the total amount
of disrobing usual at that time on the border, and was soon
asleep.

“T am afraid, uncle,” he said in the morning, “that the
furnishment of the purse my father gave me at starting will
not go far towards what you may consider necessary for my
outfit.”

“That need not trouble you at all, lad. I told your father
I should take all charges upon myself, having no children of
my own, and no way to spend my money, therefore I can
afford well to do as I like towards you. Once the war begins,
you will fill your purse yourself, for although the peoples of
the towns and villages suffer by the Scotch incursions, we men-
at-arms profit by a war. We have nought that they can take
from us but our lives, while we take our share of the booty,
and have the ransom of any knights or gentlemen we may
make prisoners.”

Accordingly they went into Alnwick, and Alwyn Forster
40 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

bought for his nephew several suits of clothes suitable for a
young gentleman of good family, together with armour of
much more modern fashion than that to which Oswald was
-accustomed. When they returned to the castle the lad was
told to put on one of these suits at once.

“Make your old ones up in a bundle,” his uncle said.
“There may be occasions when you may find such clothes
useful, though here assuredly they are out of place. Now I
will go with you to father Ernulf.”

The priest’s abode was in what was called the Abbots’
Tower, which was the one nearest to the large monastery out-
side the walls.

“T told you, father,” the captain said, “that belike my
nephew would join me here, as I was going to present him to
Sir Henry Percy. The good knight will not be back again
mayhap for some weeks, and the lad has a fancy to learn to
read and write, and I thought you might put him in the way
of his attaining such knowledge.”

“ He looks as if the sword will suit his hand better than the
pen,” the priest said with a smile, as his eye glanced over the
lad’s active figure. ‘“ But surely, if he is so inclined, I shall be
glad to further his wishes. There is a monk at the monastery
who, although a good scholar, is fitted rather for the army
than the Church. He was one of our teachers, but in sooth had
but little patience with the blunders of the children; but I am
sure that he would gladly give his aid to a lad like this, and
would bear with him if he really did his best. I have nought
to do at present, and will go down with him at once and talk
to friar Roger. If the latter would rather have nought to do
with it, one of my juniors shall undertake the task; but I am
sure that the friar would make a better instructor, if he would
take it in hand.

“ He is a stout man-at-arms -— for, as you know, when the
Sen

AT ALNWICK 41

Scots cross the border, the abbot always sends a party of his
stoutest monks to fight in Percy’s ranks, as is but right, seeing
that the Scots plunder a monastery as readily as a village.
Friar Roger was the senior in command under the sub-prior
of the monks who fought at Otterburn, and all say that none
fought more stoutly, and the monks were the last to fall back
on that unfortunate day. They say that he incurred many
penances for his unchurchly language during the fight, but
that the abbot remitted them on account of the valour that
he had shown.”

Accordingly the priest went off with Oswald to the monas-
tery, while Alwyn Forster remained to attend to his duties as
captain of the men-at-arms. On his saying that he wished to
see the friar Roger, the priest was shown into a waiting-room,
where the monk soon joined them. He was a tall, powerful
man, standing much over six feet in height, and of propor-
tionate width of shoulders. He carried his head erect, and
looked more like a man-at-arms in disguise than a monk. He
bent his head to the priest, and then said in a hearty tone:

“Well, father Ernulf, what would you with me to-day?
You have no news of the Scots having crossed the border, and
I fear that there is no chance at present of my donning a
cuirass over my gown?”

“ None at present, brother, though it may well be so before
long. I hope that we shall soon have the earl and his son

“back again, for the Scots are sure to take advantage of their

absence now that the truce is expired. No, I want you on
other business. This young gentleman is the nephew of
Alwyn Forster, whom you know.”
“Right well, father, a good fellow and a stout fighter.”
“He is about to enter Sir Henry’s household,” the priest
went on; “but seeing that the knight is still away, and may
be absent for some weeks yet, the young man is anxious to
42 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

learn to read and write —not from any idea of entering the
Church,” he broke off with a smile at the expression of surprise
on the monk’s face, “but that it may be useful to him in
procuring advancement. I have therefore brought him to you,
thinking that you would make a far better teacher for a lad
like him than your brothers in the school. I thought perhaps
that if I spoke to the abbot he might release you from your
attendance at some of the services for such a purpose.”

“That is a consideration,” the monk laughed. “ Well,
young sir, I tell you fairly that among my gifts is not that of
patience with fools. If you are disposed to work right heartily,
as I suppose you must be or you would not make such a
request, I on my part will do my best to teach you; but you
must not mind if sometimes you get a rough buffet to assist
your memory.”

“I should doubt whether a buffet from you would not be
more likely to confuse my memory than to assist it,’ Oswald
said with a smile; “but at any rate I am ready to take my
chance, ‘and can promise to do my best to avoid taxing your
patience to that point.”

“That will do, father,” the monk said. “He is a lad of
spirit, and it is a pleasure to train one of that kind. As to
the puny boys they send to be made monks because, forsooth,
they are likely to grow up too weak for any other calling, I
have no patience with them, and I get into sore disgrace
with the abbot for my shortness of temper.”

“Tam afraid, from what I hear,” the priest said, shaking his
head, but unable to repress a smile, “that you are often in
disgrace, brother Roger.”

“T fear that it is so, and were it not that I am useful in
teaching the lay brothers and the younger monks the use of
the carnal weapons, I know that before this I should have
been bundled out, neck and crop. ’Tis hard, father, for a
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AT ALNWICK 43

man of my inches to be shut up here when there is so much
fighting to be done abroad.”

“There is good work to be done everywhere,” the priest
said gravely. ‘Many of us may have made a mistake in
choosing our vocations, but, if so, we must make the best
we can of what is before us.”

“What time will you come?” the monk asked Oswald.

“My uncle said that he would suit my hours to yours; but
that if it was all the same to you I should practise in arms
from six o’clock till eight, and again for an hour or two in the
evening, so that I could come to you either in the morning or
afternoon.”

“ Come at both if you will,” the monk said. “If the good
father can get me off the services from eight till six, you can
be with me all that time save at the dinner-hour. You have
but a short time to learn in, and must give yourself heartily to
it. There is the chapel bell ringing now, and I must be off.
. The abbot will not be present at this. service, father, and if
you will you can see him now. I doubt not that he will grant
your request, for I know that I anger him every time I am in
chapel. I am fond of music, and I have a voice like a bull,
and do what I will it will come out in spite of me; and he says
that my roaring destroys the effect of the whole choir.”

So saying he strode away.

“ Do you wait outside the gates, my son,” the priest said.
~“T shall be only a few minutes with the abbot, who, as friar
Roger says, will, I doubt not, be glad enough to grant him
leave to abstain from attendance at the services.”

In a short time indeed he rejoined Oswald at the gate.

“That matter was managed easily enough,” he said. “The
abbot has himself a somewhat warlike disposition, which is not
to be wondered at, seeing that he comes from a family ever
ready to draw the sword, and he has therefore a liking for
44. BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

friar Roger, in spite of his contumacies, breaches of regula-
tions, and quarrels with the other monks. He is obliged to
continually punish him with sentences of seclusion, penance,
and fasting, but methinks it goes against the grain. He said
at once that he was delighted to hear that he had voluntarily
undertaken some work that would keep him out of trouble,
and that he willingly, and indeed gladly, absolved him from
attendance in chapel during the hours that he was occupied
with you.”

“ He is not without his uses,” he said. “He is in special
charge of the garden, and looks after the Jay brothers em-
ployed in it. J will put someone else in charge while he is
busy, though I doubt if any will get as much work out of the
lay brothers as he does, and indeed he himself labours harder
than any of them. With any other I should say that tucking
his gown round his waist and labouring with might and main
was unseemly, but as it works off some of his superabundant
energy, I do not interfere with him.”

“ How ever did he become a monk, father?”

“It seems that he was a somewhat sickly child, and his
father sent him to the monastery to be taught with a view to
entering the Church. He was quick and bright in his parts,
but as his health improved he grew restless, and at fifteen
refused to follow the vocation marked out for him, and re-
turned home, where, as I have heard, he took part in various
daring forays across the border. When he was five-and-twenty
he was wounded well-nigh to death in one of these, and he
took it as a judgment upon him for deserting the Church, so
he returned here and became a lay brother. He was a very
long time before he recovered his full strength, and before he
did so he became a monk, and I believe has bitterly regretted
the fact ever since. Some day, I am afraid, he will break the
bounds altogether, throw away his gown, assume a breast-plate
AT ALNWICK 45

and steel cap, and become an unfrocked monk. I believe he
fights hard against his inclinations, but they are too strong
for him. If war breaks out I fear that some day he will be
missing. He will, of course, go down south, where he will be
unknown, and where, when the hair on his tonsure has grown,
he can well pass as a man-at-arms, and take service with some
warlike lord. I trust that it may not be so, but he will
assuredly make a far better man-at-arms than he will ever
make a good monk.”

The next morning, after practising for two hours with sword
and pike, Oswald went down at eight o’clock to the monastery
and was conducted to friar Roger's cell. The latter at once
began his instruction, handing him a piece of blackened board
and a bit of chalk.

“ Now,” he said, “ you must learn to read and write together.
There are twenty-six letters, and of each there is a big one
and a little one. The big ones are only used at the beginning
ofasentence. That is where, if you were talking, you would
stop to take breath and begin afresh, and also at the first
letter of the names of people and places. The first letter is
‘A. There it is, in that horn-book, you see. It looks like
two men or two trees leaning against each other for support,
with a line which might be their hands, in the middle. Now
make a letter like that on your board. The little ‘a,’ is a
small circle with an upright with a tail to it; you might fancy
it a fish with its tail turned up. Now write each of those
twelve times.”’

So he continued with the first six letters.

“That will be as much as you will remember at first,’ he
said. ‘Now we will begin spelling with those letters, and you
will see how they are used. You see it is a mixture of the
sounds of the two: ‘ba’ makes ba, and ‘be’ be, ‘ca’ ca,
‘da’ da, ‘de’ de, and so on. Now we will work it out.”
46 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Oswald was intelligent, and anxious to learn. He had been
accustomed, when riding, to notice every irregularity of ground,
every rock and bush that might serve as a guide if lost ina
fog, and he very quickly took in the instruction given him;
and by the time the convent bell rung to dinner, he had made
a considerable progress with the variations that could be
formed with the six letters that he had learned, and the friar
expressed himself as highly satisfied with him.

“You have learned as much in one morning as many of the
boys who attend schools would learn in a month,” he said.
“Tf you go on like this, I will warrant that if Percy delays his
return for two months, you will know as much as many who
have been two years at the work. I have always said that it
is a mistake to teach children young; their minds do not take
in what you say to them. You may beat it into them, but
they get it only by rote, and painfully, because they don’t
understand how one thing leads to another, and it is their
memory only, and not their minds that are at work.”

The next day came news that the Scotch had crossed the
border, and there was great excitement in the castle; but it
was soon learned that the invasion was not on a great scale,
neither the Douglases nor the Earl of March having taken
part in it. :

“There is no fear of our being attacked here,”’ Alwyn Forster
said to Oswald. “The sheriffs of the county will call out their
levies, and will soon make head against them. At the same
time we shall make preparations against any chance of their
coming hither.”

This was done. Vast quantities of arrows were prepared,
stones collected and carried up to the points on the wall most
exposed to attack, and orders sent out by the governor of the
castle in the Percys’ absence, to the people for many miles
round, that on the approach of the Scots all were to retire to
AT ALNWICK AT

refuge, the women and children taking to the hills, while the
men capable of bearing arms were to hasten to the defence of
the castle. For a time the Scots carried all before them,
wasting and devastating the country. Oswald heard that
they had captured without resistance his father’s hold. He
rejoiced at the news, for he feared that, not knowing the
strength of the invading force, resistance might have been
attempted, in which case all in the hold might have been put
to the sword. He had no doubt now that his father and
mother had retired with their followers to the hills, as they
had always determined to do in case of an invasion by a force
too strong to resist.

Had the Percys been at home they might have held out,
confident that the Scotch would be attacked before they could
effect its capture, but as all the northern lords with their re-
tainers were away in the south it would be some time before a
force could be collected that could make head against the Scots.
A portion of the Scottish army laid siege to the castle of Wark
on the Tweed. This castle had always played a conspicuous
part in the border wars. It had been besieged and captured
by David of Scotland in the reign of Stephen, and two or
three years later was again besieged, but this time repulsed all
attacks. David, after his defeat at the battle of the Standard,
resumed the siege. It again repulsed all attacks, but at last
was reduced to an extremity by famine, and capitulated.

The castle was demolished by the Scots, but was rebuilt by
Henry the Second. In 1215 it was again besieged, this time
by King John, who resented the defection of the northern
barons, and it was captured and again destroyed. In 1318 it
was captured and destroyed by Robert Bruce. In 1341 it was
besieged by David Bruce, but held out until relieved by King
Edward himself. In 1383 it was again besieged by the Scots
and part of its fortifications demolished. On the present
48 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

occasion it was again captured and razed to the ground.
Another portion of the Scottish army, plundering and burning,
advanced along the valley of the Coquet. As they approached,
the inhabitants of the district round Alnwick began to pour
into the castle, but orders were issued that all the fighting men
should join the force of Sir Robert Umfraville, the sheriff of
the district, who was gathering a force to give the Scots battle.

“T fear that there is small chance of the Scots making their
way hither,” Oswald’s instructor said in lugubrious tones.
“Sir Robert is a stout fighter, and the Scots, laden as they
must be with booty, and having hitherto met with no resist-
ance, will be careless and like to be taken by surprise. Me-
thinks the abbot ought to send off a contingent to aid Sir
Robert.”

Oswald laughed. “I suppose he wants to keep them for
more urgent work, and thinks that the Church should only
fight when in desperate straits. However, father, you may
have an opportunity yet, for we cannot regard it as certain
that Sir Robert will defeat the Scots.”

Three days later, however, the news arrived that Sir Robert
had attacked the Scots at Fulhetlaw and utterly defeated them,
taking prisoner Sir Richard Rutherford and his five sons,
together with Sir William Stewart, John Turnbull, a noted
border reiver, and many others, and that those who had
escaped were in full flight for the border. The Scotch incur-
sion had made no change in Oswald’s work. He continued
to study hard with the monk. As a rule he fully satisfied
his teacher, but at times, when he failed to name the letters
required to make up a certain sound, the latter lost all patience
with him and more than once with difficulty restrained himself
from striking him. Spelling in those days, however, had by
no means crystallised itself into any definite form, and there
was so large a latitude allowed that if the letters used gave
AT ALNWICK 49

an approximate sound to the word, it was deemed sufficient.
The consequence was that Oswald’s education progressed at a
speed that would in these more rigid days be deemed impossible.

He was intensely interested in the work, and even his
martial exercises were for the time secondary to it in his
thoughts. He felt so deeply grateful to his instructor that
even if he had struck him he would have cared but little. In
those days rough knocks were readily given, and the idea that
there was anything objectionable in a boy being struck had
never been entertained by anyone. Wives were beaten not
uncommonly, servants frequently, and, from the highest to the
lowest, corporal punishment was regarded as the only way to
ensure the carrying out of orders. Oswald was slower in
learning to write down the letters than he was to read them.
His hands were so accustomed to the rein, the bow, and the
sword that they bungled over the work of forming letters.
Nevertheless by the time the Percys returned, three months
and a half after his arrival at the castle, he could both read
and write short and simple words, and as these formed a large
proportion of English speech at the time, he had made a con-
siderable step in the path of learning, and the monk was highly
pleased with his pupil.

“J shall not be able to come to-morrow, father,” he said to
the monk one day. “The earl and Sir Henry will be back to-
night, and my uncle says that I must keep near him to-morrow,
so that if opportunity offers he may present me to the knight.”

“J feared it would come to that,” the monk said. “I wish
they had all stopped away another three or four months, then
you would have got over your difficulty of piecing together
syllables so as to make up a long word. ‘Tis a thousand
pities that you should stop altogether, just when you are get-
ting on so well.”

« [ will come as often as I can, father, if you will let me.”

4
50 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“No, no, lad; I know what it is when the family are at
home. It will be, ‘Here, Oswald, ride with such a message ;’
or Hotspur himself may be going out with a train, and you
will have to accompany him. ‘There will always be something.
Indeed, save but for your teaching, it is high time that the
Percys were back again, for there has already been a great
deal of hot work on the border, and report says that the Scots
are mustering strongly, and that there is going to be a great
raid into Cumberland; so you will be busy and so shall I.
The lay brothers have made but a poor hand of it while I have
been busy. I went down in the evening yesterday to see them
drill, and it was as much as I could do to prevent myself from
falling upon them and giving them a lesson of a different sort.
As it was, I gave it to their instructor heartily, and was had
up before the abbot on his complaint this morning, and am to
eat Lenten fare for the next ten days, which accords but ill
either with my liking or needs.” :

In the evening the court-yard was ablaze with torches, as
amid the cheers of the garrison the Earl of Northumberland
and his son rode in with a strong body of men-at-arms. The
greater portion of the following with which they had met
Henry of Lancaster on his landing, and escorted him to Lon-
don, had long since returned to their homes, being released
from service when it was seen that no opposition was to be
looked for from the adherents of Richard. The followings of
the various nobles and knights of the northern counties had
left the main body on the way home, and Northumberland had
brought with him to Alnwick only the men-at-arms who formed
the regular force retained under his standard.

Oswald was greatly struck with the splendid appearance and
appointments of the earl and the knights who attended him,
and with the martial array of his followers. Hitherto he had
seen but the roughest side of war, the arms and armour carried
AT ALNWICK 51

not for show but for use, and valued for their strength without
any reference to their appearance. On the border there was
not the smallest attempt at uniformity in appearance, polished
armour was regarded with disfavour, and that worn was of the
roughest nature, the local armourer’s only object being to
furnish breast and back pieces that would resist the strongest
spear-thrust. Of missiles they made little account, for the
Scots had but few archers, and their bows were so inferior in
strength to those carried by the English archers that armour
strong enough to resist a spear-thrust was amply sufficient to
keep out a Scottish arrow.

There was not, even in the array of the Earl of Northum-
berland’s men-at-arms, any approach to the uniformity that
now prevails among bodies of soldiers. The helmets, breast
and back pieces, were, however, of similar form, as the men
engaged for continued service were furnished with armour by
the earl; but there was a great variety in the garments worn
under them, these being of all colours, according to the fancy
of their wearers. All, however, carried spears of the same
length, while some had swords, and others heavy axes at their
girdles. The helmets and armour were all brightly polished,
and as the lights of the torches flashed from them and from
the spear-heads, Oswald for the first time witnessed something
of the pomp of war. His uncle, as captain of the men-at-arms
left in the castle, was invited to the banquet held after the
arrival of the force. Oswald, therefore, was free to wander
about among the soldiers, listening to their talk of what they
had seen in London, and of the entertainments there in
honour of the new king, exciting thereby no small amount of
envy among those who had been left behind in garrison.
Oswald already knew that the earl had been appointed Con-
stable of England for life, and now heard that the lordship of
the Isle of Man had since been conferred on him.
52 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

CHAPTER IV
AN UNEQUAL JOUST

OU must don your best costume to-morrow, Oswald,” his
uncle said, when he returned from the banquet. “Sir
Henry Percy’s first question, after asking as to the health of
the garrison, was, ‘Has this nephew of yours, of whom you
were speaking to me, come yet?’ I told him that you had
been here well-nigh four months, that you had been practising
in arms with my best swordsmen, who spoke highly of you,
and that the whole of your spare time had been spent at the
monastery, where, you had been studying to acquire the art of
reading and writing, thinking that such knowledge must be
useful to you in his service. I told him that brother Roger
had reported that you had shown marvellous sharpness there,
and could already read from a missal, barring only some of the
long words.

“Oh, he had the fighting monk for his master!’ Sir Henry
said laughing. ‘Truly he must have been a good pupil if he
has come out of it without having his head broken a dozen
times. The friar is a thorn in the abbot’s flesh, and more than
once I have had to beg him off or he would have been sent to
the monastery of St. John, which is a place of punishment for
refractory monks. But in truth he is an honest fellow, though
he has mistaken his vocation. He is a valiant man-at-arms,
and the abbot’s contingent would be of small value without him.
Well, I will see your nephew in the morning. His perseverance
in learning, and his quickness in acquiring it, show him to be a
youth of good parts and intelligent, but until I see him I can-
not say what I will make of him.’ ”
AN UNEQUAL JOUST 53

Accordingly, the next morning the lad accompanied his
uncle to Sir Henry’s private apartment, and found the knight
alone. Sir Henry, Lord Percy, was now about forty years old.
He had received the order of knighthood at the coronation of
Richard IlI., when his father was created earl, and nine years
later he was made governor of Berwick and Warden of the
Marches, in which office he displayed such activity in following
up and punishing raiders that the Scots gave him the name of
Hotspur. He was then sent to Calais, where he showed great
valour. Two years later he was made Knight of the Garter,
and was then appointed to command a fleet sent out to repel a
threatened invasion by the French. Here he gained so great a
success that he came to be regarded as one of the first captains
of the age.

At Otterburn his impetuosity cost him his freedom, for,
pressing forward into the midst of the Scotch army, he and his
brother Ralph were taken prisoners and carried into Scot-
land. He had just been appointed by King Henry sheriff of
Northumberland, and governor of Berwick and Roxburgh, and
received other marks of royal favour. Although of no remark-
able height, his broad shoulders and long sinewy arms testified
to his remarkable personal strength. His face was pleasant
and open, and showed but small sign of his impetuous and
fiery disposition.

“So this is the young springal,” he said with a smile, as
with a quick glance he took in every detail of Oswald’s figure
and appearance. “ By my troth you have not overpraised him.
He bears himself well, and is like to be a stout fighter when
he comes to his full strength; indeed, as the son of John
Forster of Yardhope, and as your nephew, good Alwyn, he
could scarce be otherwise, although I have not heard that
either his father or you ever showed any disposition for
letters.”
54 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“No, indeed, Sir Henry ; nor have we, as far as I have ever
seen, been any the worse for our lack of knowledge on that
head ; but with the lad here it is different. Under your good
patronage he may well hope to attain, by good conduct and
valour, a promotion where book-learning may be of use to him,
and therefore, when he expressed a desire to learn, I did my
best to favour his design.”

“ And you did well, Alwyn. And since he has gained so
much in so short a time, it were a pity he should not follow it
up; and he shall, if it likes him, so long as he is in this castle,
have two hours every morning in which he can visit the fight-
ing monk, until he can read and write freely. Now, young
sir, the question is, how can we best employ you. You are too
old for a lady’s bower, but not old enough yet for an esquire.”

“ NorcouldI aspire to such 4 position, my lord, until I have
proved myself worthy of it. My uncle told me that he had
suggested that I might be useful as a bearer of messages and
orders, and as I know every foot of the border from near Berwick
to Cumberland, methinks that I might serve you in that way.
I ride lightly, know every morass and swamp, and every road
through the fells, and have at times, when there was peace,
crossed the Cheviots by several of the passes to pay visits to
my mother’s sister, who is married to one of the Armstrongs
near Jedburgh. If your lordship will deign to employ me in
such service I can promise to do so safely and to justify my
uncle’s recommendation, and shall be ready at all times to risk
my life in carrying out your orders.”

“ Well spoken, lad. I like the tone of your voice and your
manner of speech. ‘They are such as will do no discredit to my
household, and I hereby appoint you to it; further matters I
will discuss with your uncle.”

Oswald expressed his thanks in suitable terms, and then,
bowing deeply, retired.
AN UNEQUAL JOUST 55

“ A very proper lad, Alwyn. I would have done much for
you, old friend, and would have taken him in some capacity,
whatever he might have turned out; but, frankly, I doubted
whether John Forster, valiant moss-trooper as he is, would have
been like to have had a son whom I could enroll in my house-
hold, where the pages and esquires are all sons of knights and
men of quality, It is true that his father might have been a
knight had he chosen, since the earl offered him that honour
after Otterburn, for three times he charged at the head of a
handful of his own men right into the heart of the Scottish
army, to try and rescue me; but he has always kept aloof in
his own hold, going his own way and fighting for his own
hand, and never once that I can recall has he paid a visit to us
here or at our other seats. I feared that under such a training
as he would be likely to have the lad would have been but a
rough diamond. However, from his appearance and bearing
he might well have come of a noble family.”

“Tis his mother’s doing, methinks, Sir Henry. She is of
gentle birth. Her father was Sir Walter Gillespie. He was
killed by the Scots when she was but a girl, or methinks he
would scarcely have given her in marriage to my brother John.
She went with a sister to live with an old aunt, who let the
gitls have their way without murmur, and seeing that they had
no dowry, for their father was but a poor knight, there were
not many claimants for their hands; and when she chose John
Forster, and her sister Adam Armstrong, she did not say them
nay. She has made a good wife to him, though she must have
had many an anxious hour, and doubtless it is her influence
that has made the lad what he is.”

“ How think you I had best bestow him, among the pages
or the esquires?” *

“T should say, Sir Henry, as you are good enough to ask
my opinion, that it were best among the esquires. It would

\
56 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

be like putting a hunting dog among a lady’s pets to put him
with the pages. Moreover, boys think more of birth than men
do; the latter judge by merit, and when they see that the lad
has something in him, would take to him; whereas were he
with the pages there might be quarrels, and he might fall into
disgrace.”

“T think that you are right, Alwyn. He might get a buffet
or two from the esquires, but he will be none the worse for
that; while with the pages it might be bickering and ill-will.
He shall take his chance with the squires. Bring him to me
at twelve o’clock and I will myself present him to them with
such words as may gain their good-will, and make the way as
easy as may be for him.”

Accordingly at twelve o’clock Oswald went to Hotspur’s
room, and was taken by him to the hall where the esquires,
six in number, had just finished a meal. They varied in age
from eighteen to forty. They all rose as their lord entered.

“T wish to present to you this young gentleman, my friends.
He is the son of John Forster of Yardhope, whose name is
familiar to you all as one of the most valiant of the defenders
of the border against the Scottish incursions. None distin-
guished themselves more at the battle of Otterburn, where he
performed feats of prodigious valour in his endeavours to
rescue me and my brother from the hands of the Scots. The
earl my father offered him knighthood, but he said bluntly
that he preferred remaining, like his father, plain John Forster
of Yardhope. The lad’s mother is a daughter of Sir Walter
Gillespie, and he is nephew of Alwyn, captain of the men-at-
arms here. He knows every foot of the border, its morasses,
fells, and passes, and will prove a valuable messenger when I
have occasion to send orders to the border knights and yeo-
men. I have attached him to my household. You will find
him intelligent and active. He comes of a fighting stock, and
AN UNEQUAL JOUST 57

will, I foresee, do no discredit to them in the future. I hesi-
tated whether I should place him with the pages or with you,
and have decided that, with your good-will, he will be far
more comfortable in your society, if you consent to receive
him.”

“We will do so willingly on such recommendation,” the
senior of the esquires said, “as well as for the sake of his
brave uncle, whom we ‘all respect and like, and of his valiant
father. ‘The addition of young blood to our party will indeed
not be unwelcome, and while perchance he may learn some-
thing from us he will assuredly be able to tell us much that is
new of the doings on the Darden of which nothing but vague
reports have reached our ears.’

« Thanks, Allonby,” Hotspur said. ‘I expected nothing less
from you. He will, of course, practise at arms regularly when
not occupied in carrying messages, and you will be surprised
to hear that he will go for two hours daily to the monastery,
where he has for the last three months been learning reading
and writing at the hands of brother Roger, the fighting monk.
It is his own desire, and a laudable one, and when I say that
he has succeeded in giving brother Roger satisfaction you may
well imagine that he must have made great progress.”

A smile ran round the faces of the esquires, for brother
Roger’s pugnacious instincts were widely known.

“Truly, Sir Henry, if brother Roger did not lose patience
with him, it would be hard indeed if we could not get on with
him, and in truth this desire to Eee himself speaks well
for the lad’s disposition.”

When Hotspur left, Allonby said, “Take a seat, Master
Oswald. But first, have you dined?”

“I took my meal an hour since with my uncle,” Oswald
replied. ;

«Ay, I remember that your uncle sticks to the old hours.
53 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Tell us, were you with your father in that foray he headed to
carry off some cattle that had been lifted by the Bairds? We
heard a report of it last night.”

“Twas not with him, to my great disappointment, for he
said that another year must pass before I should be fit to hold
my own ina fray. The affair was a somewhat hot one. Three
of my father’s men were killed, and some ten or twelve of
those under other leaders, and my father and several of the
band were wounded, some very sorely. It happened thus.”
And he then told the details of the affair.

“Jt might well have been worse,” Allonby said, “ for, had
the Bairds had time to assemble it would have gone hardly
with your father’s party, especially as there is, as I have heard,
a blood feud between him and them.”

«They have scored the last success,” Oswald said, “ seeing
that they accompanied Sir Richard Rutherford in his raid nigh
two months ago; and, as I hear, while the rest came on harry-
ing and plundering Coquetdale, the Bairds and their gathering
remained at our hold, which they found deserted, for indeed
my father could not hope to defend it successfully against so
large a force, and there they employed themselves in demol-
ishing the outer wall and much of the hold itself, and would
have completed their task had it not been for the defeat in-
flicted upon the rest of the Scots by Sir Robert Umfraville,
when they were forced to hasten back across the border. My
father sent me a message afterwards, saying that he and my
mother with their followers had been forced to take to the
fells, and that on their return they found the place well-nigh
destroyed, but that he was going to set to work to rebuild it
as before, and that he hoped some time to demolish the Bairds’
hold in like fashion. It will be some time before the place is
restored, for, my father’s means being limited, he and his re-
tainers would have to turn masons; but as the materials were
AN UNEQUAL JOUST 59

there he doubted not that in time they would make a good
job of it.”

“Truly it is a hard life on the border,” the squire said, “and
it is wonderful that any can be found willing to live within
reach of the Scotch raiders. I myself have done a fair share
of fighting under our lord’s banner, but to pass my life never
knowing whether I may not awake to find the house assailed
would be worse than the hardest service against an open foe.
Now, Master Oswald, we will go down to the court-yard and see
what your instructors have done for you in the matter of arms.
With whom have you been practising since you came here?”

« Principally with Godfrey Harpent, Dick Bamborough, and
William Anell, but I have had a turn with a great many of the
other men-at-arms.”

“The three men you name are all stout fellows and good
swordsmen. As a borderer I suppose that you have practised
with the lance? ”

« We call it by no such knightly term. With us it isa spear
and nought else, but all borderers carry it both for fighting
and for pricking up cattle, and from the time that I could sit
a horse I have always practised for a while every day with ~
some of my father’s troopers, or with himself, using blunt
weapons whitened with chalk so as to show where the hits fell.
Although in a charge upon footmen our border spearmen would
couch their weapons and ride straight at their foe, in skir-
mishes, where each can single out an enemy and there is a series
of single combats, they do not so fight, but circle round each
other, trusting to the agility of their horses to avoid a thrust
and to deliver one when there is an opening. Our spears are
nothing like so heavy as the knightly lances, and we thrust
with them as with the point of a sword.”

“But in that way you can hardly penetrate armour,” one of
the other esquires said.
60 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“ No, it is only in a downright charge that we try to do so.
When we are fighting as I speak of, we thrust at the face, at
the arm-pit, the joints of the armour, which in truth seldom
fits closely, or below the breastplate. ‘The Scotch use even less
armour than do our borderers, their breast-pieces being smaller,
and they seldom wear back-pieces. It is a question chiefly of
the activity of the horses as of the skill of their riders, and our
little moor horses are as active as young goats; and although
neither horse nor rider can stand a charge of a heavily-armed
knight or squire, methinks that if one of our troopers brought
him to a stand he would get the better of him, save if the
knight took to mace or battle-axe.”

** Have you your horse with you, Oswald?”

“Yes, it is in the stable. I have gone out with it every
morning as soon as the castle gates were opened, and have
ridden fora couple of hours before I began my exercises.”

“Do you take him in hand first, Marsden, ” Allonby said
to one of the younger esquires, a young man of two or three
and twenty. Light steel caps with cheeks, gorgets, shoulder
and arm pieces, and padded leathern jerkins were put on, and
then with blunted swords they took their places facing each
other. The squire took up a position of easy confidence. He
was a good swordsman, and good-naturedly determined to treat
the lad easily, and to play with him for a time before scoring
his first hit. He soon, however, found that the game was not
to be conducted on the lines that he had laid down. Oswald,
after waiting for a minute or two, finding his opponent did not
take the offensive, did so himself, and for a time Marsden had
all his work to do to defend himself. Several times, indeed, it
was with the greatest difficulty that he guarded his head; the
activity of his assailant almost bewildered him, as he continually
shifted his position, and with cat-like springs leapt in and dealt
a blow, leaping back again before his opponent’s arm had time
to fall.
AN UNEQUAL JOUST 61

Finding at last that, quick as he might be, Marsden’s blade
always met his own, Oswald relaxed his efforts, as he was grow-
ing fatigued, and as he did so Marsden took the offensive,
pressing him backwards foot by foot. Every time, however,
that he found himself approaching a barrier or other obstacle
that would prevent his further retreat, Oswald with a couple
of springs managed to shift his ground. When he saw that
Marsden was growing breathless from his exertions, he again
took the offensive, and at last landed a blow fairly on his op-
ponent’s helm.

“By my faith,” the squire said, with a laugh that had never-
theless a little mortification in it, “I would as soon fight with
a wild-cat, and yet your breath scarce comes fast, while I have
not as much left in me as would fill an egg-shell.”

“Tt was an excellent display,’ Allonby said. “Truly, lad,
your activity is wonderful, and you might well puzzle the
oldest swordsman by such tactics. Marsden did exceedingly
well too. Many times I thought that your sword would have
gone home, but up to the last his guard was always ready in
time. As for yourself, we had scarce the opportunity of seeing
how your sword would guard your head, for you trusted always
to your legs rather than your arms. Well, lad, you will do.
Your arm is like iron, or it would have tired long before with
that sword, which is a little over-heavy for you.

“As to your wind, you would tire out the stoutest swords-
man in the Percys’ train. I do not say that in the press
of a battle, where your activity would count for little, a good
man-at-arms would not get the better of you, but in a single
combat with plenty of room it would be a good man indeed
who would tackle you, especially were he clad in armour and
you fighting without it. His only chance would be to get in
one downright blow that would break down your guard. As
Marsden says, you fight like a wild-cat rather than as a man-at-
62 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

arms, but as the time may .come when you will ride in heavy
armour, and so lose the advantage of your agility, you had
best continue to practise regularly with us and the men-at-
arms, and learn to fight in the fashion that would be needed
were you engaged in a pitched battle when on horseback and
in armour.”

“IT shall be glad indeed to do so,” Oswald said modestly.
“I know that Iam very ignorant of real swordsmanship, and
the men-at-arms have me quite at their mercy when they insist
upon my not shifting my ground. At home I have only
practised with my father’s troopers, and we always fight on
foot and with stout sticks instead of swords, and without
defences save our head-pieces, but fighting in knightly fashion
I knew nothing of until I came here.”

“You will soon acquire that, lad ; with your strength of arm,
length of wind, quickness of eye, and activity, you will make a
famous swordsman in time. Ah! here is Sir Henry.”

“ Have you been trying the lad’s mettle?’ Hotspur asked, as
he saw Oswald in the act of taking off his steel cap. Marsden
had already done so.

“ That have we, Sir Henry, and find it as of proof. Mars-
den here, who is no mean blade, has taken him in hand, and
the lad has more than held his own against him, not so much
by swordsmanship as by activity and wind. It was a curious
contest. Marsden compared Oswald to a wild-cat, and the
comparison was not an ill one, for indeed his springs and leaps
were so rapid and sudden that it was difficult to follow him,
and the fight was like one between such an animal and a
hound. Marsden defended himself well against all his at-
tacks until his breath failed him, and he was dealt a down-
right blow on his helm, on which I see it has made a shrewd
dint. As for his blows, they fell upon air, for the lad was
ever out of reach before the ripostes came. In his own style
AN UNEQUAL JOUST 68

of fighting I would wager on him. against any man-at-arms in
the castle.”

«J am glad to hear it,” Hotspur said. “ I shall feel the less
scruple in sending him on missions which are not without
danger. He will need training to fit him for combat in the
tanks. No doubt he has had no opportunity for such teaching,
and would go down before a heavy-armed man with a lance
like a blade of grass before a millstone.”

“ He thinks not, Sir Henry, at least not in a single combat,
for by his accounts his horse is as nimble as himself; but of
course in charges he and his horse would be rolled over, as
you say.”

«Fe thinks not? Oh, well, we will try him! I have an
hour to spare. Do you put on a suit of full armour, Sinclair,
and we will ride out to the course beyond the castle. What
will you put on, lad?”

« ] will put on only breast-piece and steel cap; but I only
said I should have a chance against a lance, Sir Henry. I do
not pretend that I could stand against any man-at-arms armed
with sword and mace, but only that I thought that with my
horse I could evade the shock of a fully-accoutred man, and
then harass and maybe wound him with my spear.”

« Well, we will try, lad. Put on what you will and get your
horse saddled. It will be rare amusement to see so unequal
a course. We shall be ready in a quarter of an hour.”

- Qswald went up to his uncle and told him what was pro-
posed. Alwyn, who had witnessed his exercises with the
rough-riders of his father, smiled grimly. “If you can evade
his first charge, which I doubt not that you can, you will have
him at your mercy with your light spear against his lance, and
your moor horse against his charger; but put on the heaviest
of your two steel caps, and strong shoulder-pieces, ‘tis like
enough that in his temper he may throw away his lance and
64 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

betake him to his sword. I will demand that he carries
neither mace nor battle-axe, and that you should only carry
sword and spear. Your horse’s nimbleness may keep you out
of harm, which is as much as you can expect or hope for.
Put on a light breast-plate too, for in spite of the wooden
shield to his lance-head, he may hurt you sorely if he does
chance to strike you.”

Oswald saw that his horse was carefully saddled. He pro-
cured from his uncle a piece of cloth, and, removing the spear-
head, wrapped this round the head of the shaft until it formed
a ball the size of his fist. This he whitened thickly with
chalk. In a few minutes Sinclair, who was the heaviest and
strongest of the esquires, rode out into the court-yard in full
armour. Sir Henry, with his own esquires and several of the
gentlemen of the earl’s household, came down, and Hotspur
laughed at the contrast presented by the two combatants —
the one a mass of steel, with shield and lance, on a war-horse
fully caparisoned, the other a slight, active-looking figure, with
but little defensive armour, on a rough pony which had
scarce an ounce of superfluous flesh.

“Now, gentlemen,” he said, “we may be engaged in war-
fare with the Scots before long, and you will here have an
opportunity of seeing the nature of border fighting. The
combat may seem to you ridiculously unequal, but I know the
moss-trooper, and I can tell you that in a single combat like
this, activity goes far to counterbalance weight and armour.
You remember how Robert Bruce, before Bannockburn,
mounted on but a pony, struck down Sir Robert Bohun, a
good knight and a powerful one.”

As the party went out through the gates to the tilting-ground
outside the walls, the men-at-arms, seeing that something
unusual was going to take place, crowded up to the battle-
ments looking down on the ground.
AN UNEQUAL JOUST - 65

“Now, gentlemen,” Percy said, “you will take your places
at opposite ends of the field, and when I drop my scarf you
will charge. It is understood that you need not necessarily
ride straight at each other, but that it is free to each of you
to do the best he can to overthrow his opponent.”

As he gave the signal the two riders dashed at full speed
at each other, and for a moment the spectators thought that
Oswald was going to be mad enough to meet his opponent in
full course. When, however, the horses were within a length
of each other the rough pony swerved aside with a spring like
that of a deer, and wheeling round instantly, Oswald followed
his opponent. The latter tried to wheel his charger, but as
he did so, Oswald’s spear struck him in the vizor, leaving a
white mark on each side of the slit, and then he too wheeled
his horse, maintaining his position on the left hand, but some-
what in rear of his opponent, who was thereby wholly unable
to use his lance, while Oswald marked the junction of gorget
and helmet with several white circles. Furious at finding
himself incapable of either defending himself or of striking a
blow, the squire threw away his lance and drew his sword.

Hotspur shouted at the top of his voice, “ A breach of the
rules! a breach of the rules! the combat is at an end.” But
his words were unheard in the helmet. Making his horse
wheel round on his hind-legs, Sinclair rode at Oswald with
uplifted sword. ‘The latter again couched his spear under his
arm, and touching his horse with his spur, the animal sprung
forward, and before the sword could fall, the point of the
spear caught the squire under the arm-pit and hurled him
sideways from his saddle. Hotspur and those round him ran
forward. Sinclair lay without moving, stunned by the force
with which he had fallen. Oswald had already leapt from his
horse and raised Sinclair’s head and began to unlace the fast-
enings of his helmet. Hotspur’s face was flushed with anger.

5
66 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Do not upbraid him, my lord, I pray you,” Oswald said.
“He could scarce have avoided breaking the conditions, help-
less as he felt himself; and he could not have heard your
voice, which would be lost in his helmet. I pray you be not
angered with him.”

Hotspur’s face cleared. “At your request I will not, lad,”
he said ; “and, indeed, he has been punished sufficiently.”

By the time that the helmet was removed, one of the soldiers
from the battlements ran out from the castle with a ewer of
water ; this was dashed into the squire’s face. He presently
opened his eyes. A heavy fall was thought but little of in
those days, and as Sinclair was raised to his feet and looked
round in bewilderment at those who were standing round him,
Hotspur said good-temperedly, “Well, Master Sinclair, the
lad has given us all a lesson that may be useful to us. I would
scarce have believed it if I had not seen it, that a stout soldier
in full armour should have been worsted by a lad on a rough
pony, but I see now that the advantage is all on the latter’s
side in a combat like this, with plenty of room to wheel his
horse.

“Why, he would have slain you a dozen times, Sinclair.
Look at your vizor. That white mark is equal on both sides
of the slit, and had there been a spear-head on the shaft, it
would have pierced you to the brain; every joint of your
armour behind is whitened, and that thrust that brought you
from your horse would have spitted you through and through.
Now, let there be no ill-feeling over this. It is an experiment,
and a useful one ; and had I myself been in your place I do.
not know that I could have done aught more than you did.”

Sinclair was hot-tempered, but of a generous disposition,
and he held out his hand to Oswald frankly.

“It was a fair fight,” he said, “and you worsted me alto-
gether. No one bears malice for a fair fall in a joust.”
AN UNEQUAL JOUST 67

“The conditions were not at all even,’’ Oswald said; “ona
pony like mine, unless you had caught me in full career, it was
impossible that the matter could have turned out otherwise.”

“TI often wondered,” Hotspur said, as they walked towards
the gate, “that our chivalry should have been so often worsted
by the rough Scottish troopers, but now I understand it. The
Scotch always choose broken ground, and always scatter before
we get near them, and, circling round, fall upon our chivalry
when their weight and array are of no use to them. Happily,
such a misadventure has never happened to myself, but it
might well do so. The Scotch, too, have no regard for the
laws of chivalry, and once behind will spear the horse, as in-
deed happened to me at Otterburn. ’Tis a lesson in war one
may well take to heart; and when I next fight the Scots, I will
order that on no account whatever are the mounted men to
break their ranks, but whatever happens are to move in a solid
body, in which case they could defy any attacks upon them by
light-armed horse, however numerous.”

At the gate of the castle Alwyn Forster met them. “You
have given me a more useful addition to my following than
I dreamt of, Alwyn,” Hotspur said. “Did you see the
conflict?”

“‘T watched it from the wall, Sir Henry. I felt sure how
the matter would end. The lad is quick and sharp at border
exercises. I have seen him work with his father’s troopers.
There were not many of them who could hold their own against
him, and in fighting in their own way I would back the moss-
troopers against the best horsemen in Europe. ‘They are
always accustomed to fight each man for himself, and though
a score of men-at-arms would ride through a hundred of them
if they met the charge, in single combat their activity and the
nimbleness of their horses would render them more than a
match for a fully-caparisoned knight.”
68 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“So it seems,” Hotspur said ; “and yet if Sinclair had but
known that the lad was about to swerve in his course, which
indeed he ought to have known— for it would have been
madness to meet his charge—he too should have changed
his course to his left when a couple of lengths away, for he
might be sure that the lad would turn that way so as to get
on his left hand, and in that case he would have ridden over
him like a thunderbolt.”

“Yes, Sir Henry, but Oswald would have had his eye on
knee and bridle, and the moment the horse changed his direc-
tion he would have been round the other way like an arrow
from a bow, and would have planted himself, as he did, in the
squire’s rear,”

“Perhaps so,” Hotspur said thoughtfully. “At any rate,
Alwyn, the boy has given us all a lesson, and you have done
me good service by presenting him to me.”

CHAPTER V

A MISSION

OR the next three or four months Oswald was but little at
‘the castle, Percy utilising his services in the manner
most agreeable to him by sending him on errands to various
knights and gentlemen in different parts of Northumberland,
and to the fortified places held by the English across the
border. A fortnight after his contest with Sinclair, Sir Henry
formally appointed him one of his esquires.

“You are young,” he said, “ for such a post; but as you
have shown that you are well able to take cate of yourself in
arms, and as I perceive you to be shrewd and worthy of con-
fidence, your age matters but little. As my messenger, you
A MISSION 69

will be more useful travelling as one of my esquires, than as
one without settled rank, and I can not only send written com-
munications by you, but can charge you to speak fully in my
name and with my authority.”

Oswald was not slow in finding out the advantages that the
position gave him. On the first errands on which he had
been sent he had been treated as but an ordinary messenger,
had been placed at dinner below the salt, and herded with the
men-at-arms. As an esquire of Lord Percy he was treated
with all courtesy, was introduced to the ladies of the family,
sat at the high table, and was regarded as being in the confi-
dence of his lord. His youth excited some little surprise, but
acted in his favour, because it was evident that Percy would
not have nominated him as one of his esquires had he not
shown particular merit. In his journeys he often passed near
Yardhope, where the rebuilding of the wall and keep was be-
ing pushed on with much vigour, the inhabitants of the villages
in the valley lending their assistance to restore the fortalice,
which they regarded as a place of refuge in case of sudden
invasion by the Scots. His parents were both greatly pleased
at his promotion, especially his mother, who had always been
anxious that he should not settle down to the adventurous
and dangerous life led by his father.

“ By our Lady,” John Forster said, “though it be but six
months since you first left us you have changed rarely. I speak
not of your fine garments, but you have grown and widened
out, and are fast springing from a boy into a man ; and it is no
small thing that Percy should have thought so well of you as
to make you one of his esquires already.”

“It was from no merit of mine, father, but because he
thought that, as his messenger, I should be able to speak in
his name with more authority than had I been merely the
bearer of a letter from him.”
70 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“°T is not only that,” his father replied. “I received a letter
but two days since from my brother Alwyn, written by the hand
of a monk of his acquaintance, telling me that Lord Percy was
mightily pleased with you, not only because you had set your-
self to read and write, but from the way in which you had
defeated one of his esquires in a bout at arms. Alwyn said
that he doubted not that you would win knightly spurs as soon
as you came to full manhood. So it is clear that merit had
something to do with your advancement, though this may be
also due to some extent to the cause you assign for it. The
monk who wrote the letter added on his own account that he
had been your preceptor, and that, though he had often rated
you soundly, you had made wonderful progress.’’

“The monk is a good teacher,” Oswald laughed; “but he
would have made a better man-at-arms than he will ever make
amonk. I believe it pleased him more that I worsted Sinclair
—which indeed was a small thing to do, seeing that he had no
idea of fighting save of charging straight at a foe — than at the
progress I made at my books. He commands the contingent
that the monastery sends when Percy takes the field to repel
an invasion, and, could he have his own will, would gladly
exchange a monk’s robes for the harness of a man-at-arms,
I would wish for no stouter companion in the fray.’

The speed with which he had performed his journeys, and
the intelligence which he showed in carrying out his missions
and reporting on their issue, earned for the lad an increasing
amount of liking and confidence on the part of his lord. It
was not only that he delivered the replies to Hotspur’s messages
accurately, but his remarks upon the personal manner and
bearing of those to whom he was sent were of still greater
value to Percy. Naturally all had promised ‘to have their con-
tingent of fighting men ready in case of serious invasion by
the Scots; but Oswald was able to gather from their manner
A MISSION 71

whether the promises would surely be fulfilled, or whether, in
case of trouble, the knights were more likely to keep their array
for the defence of their own castles than to join Percy in any
general movement.

One day, when Oswald had been engaged six months at this
work, which had taken him several times into Cumberland and
Westmoreland as well as the north, Lord Percy summoned him
to his private apartment.

“Hitherto you have done well, Oswald, and I feel now that
I can trust you with a mission of far higher importance than
those you have hitherto performed. ‘Tis not without its
dangers, but I know that you will like it none the less for that
reason. You are young indeed for business of such importance,
but it seems to me that of those around me you would be best
fitted to carry it out. Your manner of speech has changed
much since you came here, but doubtless you can fall at will
into the border dialect, which differs little from that on the
other side, and you can pass well enough as coming from Jed-
burgh or any other place across the border.

“ All the world knows, lad, that George, Earl of March and
Dunbar, was mightily offended at Rothesay breaking off the
match with his daughter and marrying the child of his rival
Douglas ; but now I am going to tell-you what the world does
not know, and which is a secret that would cost many a life
were it to be blabbed abroad, and which I should not tell you
had I not a perfect confidence in your discretion. The anger
of March —as he is mostly called on this side of the border,
while in Scotland they more often call him Earl of Dunbar —
goes beyond mere displeasure with the Douglas and sullen
resentment against Rothesay. He has sent a confidential mes-
senger to me intimating that he is ready to acknowledge our
king as his sovereign, and place himself and his forces at his
disposal. I see you are surprised, as is indeed but natural ;
72 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

but the Marches have ever been rather for England than for
Scotland, although they have never gone so far as to throw off
their allegiance to the Scottish throne. It is not for us to
consider whether March is acting treacherously to James of
Scotland, but whether he is acting in good faith towards us.

“It was easy for him to send a messenger to me, since Scot-
land trades with England, and a ship bound for London might
well touch at one of our ports on the way down, but the
presence of an Englishman at Dunbar would not be so readily
explained. His messenger especially enjoined on me not to
send any communication in writing, even by the most trust-
-worthy hand, since an accident might precipitate matters and
drive him to take up arms before we were in a position to give
him aid. Therefore, in the first place, I wish you to journey to
Dunbar to see the earl and deliver to him the message I shall
give you, and endeavour to inform yourself how far he is to be
trusted. Say what he will, I can scarce bring myself to believe
that he will really throw off his allegiance to Scotland save in
the event of a great English army marching north, when doubt-
less he would do what most Scotch nobles have always done,
namely, hasten to give in his submission and make the best
terms he can for himself.

«Tis a business which I like not, although it is my duty to
accept a proposal that, if made in good faith, would be of vast
value to the king. You must, after seeing the earl, return here
with all speed, to bear me any message March may give you, and
to report your impressions as to his sincerity and good faith.
’T is a month since I received his message. Since then I have
communicated with the king, and have received his authority
to arrange terms with March, to guarantee him in the posses-
sion of his lordships, to hand over to him certain tracts of the
Douglas country which he bargained for, and to assure him of
our support. But he must be told that the king urges him to
A MISSION 73

delay at present from taking any open steps, as, in the first
place, he is bound by the truce just arranged for the next two
years; and in the second, because, having no just cause of
quarrel with Scotland, and being at present but newly seated
on the throne, be would have difficulty in raising an army for
the invasion of that country.

“The king is ready to engage himself not to renew the
truce, and to collect an army in readiness to act in concert
with him as soon as it is terminated. The earl has sent by his
messenger a ring, which, on being presented at Dunbar, will
gain for the person who carries it immediate access to him,
and I shall also give you my signet in token that you are come
from me. You will carry also a slip of paper that can be
easily concealed, saying that you have my full authority to
speak in my name. You yourself can explain to him that I
have selected you for the mission because of your knowledge
of border speech, and because a youth of your age can pass
unobserved where a man might excite attention and remark,
and possibly be detained until he could render a eee
account of. himself.

« Here are the conditions set down upon paper, take it and
commit them to heart, and then tear the paper into shreds
and burn them. As far as Roxburgh you can of course ride as
my squire, but beyond you must travel in disguise. This you
had better procure here and take with you, for although the
Governor of Roxburgh is a trusty knight, it were best that no
soul should know that you go ona mission to March, and I
shall simply give you a letter to him stating that you are
engaged in a venture in my service, and that your horse and
armour are to be kept for you until your return.”

Thanking Lord Percy for the honour done him in selecting
him for the mission, and promising him to carry it out to the
best of his power, Oswald retired, and, making his way up to
74 _ BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

an inner room, set about learning the contents of the paper
given him, which was indeed a copy of the royal letter to
Percy. When he had thoroughly mastered all the details and
could repeat every word, he followed Sir Henry’s instructions,
tore the letter up, and carefully burned every fragment. Then
he went out into the town and bought garments suited for
travelling unnoticed in Scotland, the dress being almost iden-
tical on both sides of the border, save for the lowland Scotch
bonnet. - On his return he found that Lord Percy had sent for
him during his absence, and he at once went to his apartments.

“T have been thinking over this matter further,” Sir Henry
said. The abbot came in just as you left me, and among
other things he mentioned that friar Roger had again fallen
into disgrace, having gone so far as to strike the sub-prior on
the cheek, almost breaking the jaw of that worthy man, and that
finding discipline and punishment of no avail with him he was
about to expel him in disgrace from the community. He said
that he had only retained him so long on account of my good-
will for the fellow, and from the fact that he would, as I had
often urged, be most valuable as leader of the abbot’s forces
in case of troubles with the Scots, but that his last offence has
passed all bearing. For the time I could say nothing, for
discipline must be maintained in a monastery as well as in the
castle; but after the abbot had left me, and I was walking
up and down in vexation over the affair — for I like the rascal
in spite of his ways, and there is no one else who could so well
lead the contingent of the monastery — a thought occurred to
me. I like not your going altogether alone, for the times are
lawless, and you might meet trouble on the road, and yet I
did not see whom I could send with you. Now it seems to
me that this stout knave would make an excellent companion
for you.

“In the first place, you like him, and he likes you; secondly,
A MISSION 7d

a monk travelling north on a mission, say from the abbot to
the prior of a monastery near Dunbar, could pass anywhere
unheeded ; and in the third place, although as a peaceful man
he could carry no military arms, he might yet take with him
a staff, with which I warrant me he would be a match for two
or three ordinary men; and lastly, I may be able to convince
the abbot that he can thus get rid of him from the monastery
for some time and avoid the scandals he occasions, and yet
hold him available on his return for military service. What
say you, lad?”

“TI should like it much, Sir Henry, I could wish for no
stouter companion ; and although he may be quarrelsome with
his fellows, it is, methinks, solely because the discipline of the
monastery frets him, and he longs for a more active life; but
I believe that he could be fully trusted to behave himself dis-
creetly were he engaged in outdoor work, and there can be
no doubt that he is a stout man-at-arms in all ways.”

“T should not trust him in any way with the object of your
mission. If I obtain the abbot’s consent I shall simply send
for him, rate him soundly for his conduct, but telling him I
make all allowances for his natural unfitness for his vocation,
and that I have, as a matter of grace, obtained from the abbot
permission to use his services for a while, and to suspend his
sentence upon him until it be seen how he comports himself,
and with that viéw I ain about to send him as your companion
on a commission with which I have intrusted you, to the town
of Dunbar. I shall hint that if he behaves to my satisfaction
I may persuade the abbot to allow him to remain in my ser-
vice until the time comes when he may be useful to the con-
vent for military work, he still undertaking to drill the lay
brothers and keep the abbot’s contingent in good order; and
that when the troubles are at an end I will obtain for him full
absolution from his vows, so that he may leave the monastery
76 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

without the disgrace of being expelled, and may then take ser-
vice with me or with another as a man-at-arms. I wish you to
be frank with me; if you would rather go alone, matters shall
remain as they are.”

“JT would much rather that he went with me, my lord.
From the many conversations that I have had with him I am
sure that he is shrewd and clever, and that once beyond the
walls of the monastery and free to use his weapon, he would
be full of resource. There is doubtless much lawlessness on
both sides of the border, and although I should seem but little
worth robbing, two travel more pleasantly than one; and the
monk has taken such pains with me, and has been so kind,
that there is no one with whom I would travel with greater
pleasure.”

“Then I will go across to the monastery at once and see the
abbot, and I doubt not that he will grant my request, for, much
and often as brother Roger has given him cause for anger, I
know that he has a sort of kindness for him, and will gladly
avoid the necessity for punishing and disgracing him. If all is
arranged, the monk shall come over here and see you.”

An hour later brother Roger came in to the captain’s
quarters.

“So you have been in trouble again, brother Roger,” Alwyn
Forster said with a laugh, as he held out his hand to him.

“That have I, and an hour ago I was lying®in a prison cell
cursing my hot temper, and with, as it seemed, the certainty
of being publicly unfrocked and turned out like a mangy dog
from a pack. It was not, mind you, that the thought of being
unfrocked was altogether disagreeable, for I own that I am
grievously ill-fitted for my vocation, and that fasts and vigils
are altogether hateful to me; but it would not be a pleasant
thing to go out into the world as one who had been kicked

~ out, and though I might get employment as a man-at-arms, I
A MISSION G7

could never hope for any promotion, however well I might be-
have. However, half an hour ago the cell door was opened
and I was taken before the abbot, whom I found closeted with
Hotspur.

“The latter rated me soundly, but said that, for the sake
of Otterburn, he had spoken for me to the abbot, and that
as he would for the present be able to make use of me in work
that would be more to my liking, the abbot had consented to
reconsider his decision and would lend me to him for a time,
in hopes that my good conduct would in the end induce him
to overlook my offences, and that in that case he might even
be induced to take steps of a less painful description than
public disgrace for freeing me of my gown. I naturally re-
plied that I was grateful for his lordship’s intercession, and
that outside monkish offices there was nothing I would not
do to merit his kindness. He told me that I was to report
myself to your nephew, who would inform me of the nature
of the service upon which I was at first to be employed.”

“It is to undertake a journey with me,” Oswald said. “I
am going on a mission for our lord, to Dunbar. The object of
my mission is one that concerns me only, but it is one of some
importance, and as the roads are lonely since March and
Douglas quarrelled, and order is but badly kept on the other
side of the border, he thought that I should be all the better
for a companion. Assuredly I could wish for none better than
yourself, for in the first place you have proved a true friend to
me ; in the second, you have so much knowledge that we shall
not lack subjects for conversation upon the journey ; and lastly,
should I get into any trouble I could reckon upon you as a
match for two or three border robbers.”

“Nothing could be more to my taste,’ the monk: said joy-
fully. “TI did not feel quite sure before whether I was glad or
sorry that my expulsion was put off, for I always thought that
18 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

it would come to that some day; but now that I learn for what
service Hotspur intends me I feel as if I could shout for joy.
Get me a flagon of beer, good Alwyn. I have drunk but
water for the last twenty-four hours, and was in too great
haste to learn what was before me even to pay a visit to
brother Anselm, the cellarer, who is a stanch friend of mine.
And do I go as a man-at-arms, Master Oswald? for, as your
mission is clearly of a private character, disguise may be
needful.” .

“No, Roger, you will go in your own capacity as a monk,
journeying on a mission from the abbot to the head of some
religious community near Dunbar. I doubt not that Lord
Percy will obtain a letter from the abbot, and though it may
be that there will be no need to deliver it, still it may help us
on the way. As you are going with me, I shall attire myself
as a young lay servitor of the convent.”

“T would that it had been otherwise,” the monk said with
a sigh. “I should have travelled far more lightly in the
heaviest mail harness than in this monk’s robe. Besides, how
can I carry arms for use in case of necessity? ”

“You can carry a staff,” Oswald said, laughing ; “and being
so big a man you will assuredly require a long and heavy one,
and even if it is heavily shod with iron no one need object.”

“That is not so bad, Master Oswald. A seven-foot staff of
the thickness of my wrist, with an iron shoe weighing a pound
or two is a carnal weapon not to be despised. As you doubt-
less know, our bishops when they ride in the field always carry
a mace instead of a sword, so that they may not shed blood,
though I say not that the cracking of a man’s skull is to be
accomplished without some loss thereof. However, if a bishop
may lawfully crack a man’s head as an egg-shell, I see not that
blame can attach to me, a humble and most unworthy son of
the Church, if some slight harm should come to any man from
A MISSION 79

the use of so peaceful an instrument as a staff. And how
about yourself, young master?”

“JT can carry a sword,’ Oswald replied. “In times like
these no man travels unarmed, and as I go as a servitor, and
an assistant to your reverence, there will be nothing unseemly
in my carrying a weapon to defend you from the attack of
“foes.”

“You can surely take a dagger too; a dagger isa meet com-
panion to a sword, and is sometimes mighty useful in a close
fignt. And mark me, take a smaller dagger also, that can be
concealed under your coat. I myself will assuredly do the
same. There are many instances in which a trifle of that kind
might come in useful, such as for shooting the lock of a door
or working out iron bars.”

« [ will do so,” Oswald said, “though I hope there will be
no occasion such as you say for its use.”

« When do we start, Master Oswald?”

“To-morrow at daybreak. We shall ride as far as Rox-
burgh. I shall go on my own horse, which, though as good
an animal as was ever saddled, has but a poor appearance.
You had best purchase a palfrey, as fat and sleek as may be
found, but with strength enough to carry your weight. I shall
be amply provided with money, and if you find a bargain let
me know and I will give you the means. Mind, buy nothing
that looks like a war-horse, but something in keeping with
your appearance.”

That evening Oswald had another interview with Percy, and
received his final instructions and a bag of money.

“ Be careful with it, lad,” he said ; “not so much because of
the use that it may be to you, but because, were you seized
and searched by robbers and others, the sight of the gold
might awake suspicions that you were not what you seemed,
and might lead to along detention. Keep your eye on brother
80 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Roger, and see that he does not indulge too much in the wine-
cups, and that he comports himself rather in keeping with his
attire than with his natural disposition, and if you have any
difficulty in restraining him, or if he does not obey your orders,
send him back at once. Will you see him again this evening?”

“He is waiting for me in my apartment now, my lord,
having come for the money for the purchase of a palfrey
which I bade him get.”

« Send him to me when you get there.”

When the monk appeared before Hotspur the latter said,
“See here, monk, I have saved you from punishment, and
become as it were your surety. See that you do not discredit
me. You will remember that although my young esquire may
ask your advice, and benefit by your experience, he is your
leader, and his orders, when he gives them, are to be obeyed
as promptly as if it were I myself who spoke to one of my
men-at-arms. He is my representative in the matter, and is
obeying my orders as you will obey his. The mission is one
of importance, and if it fails from any fault of yours, you had
better drown yourself in the first river you come to than return
to Northumberland.”

“JT think that you can trust me, my lord,” the monk said
calmly. “Iam a very poor monk, but methinks that I am
not a bad soldier, and although I go in the dress of the one I
shall really go as the other. I know that my duty as a soldier
will be to obey. Even as regards my potations, which I own
are sometimes deeper than they should be, methinks that as
a soldier I shall be much less thirsty than I was as a monk. If
the enterprise should fail from any default of mine, your lord-
ship may be sure that I shall bear your advice in mind.”

“T doubt not that you will do well, Roger. I should not
have sent you with my esquire on such a business had I not
believed that you would prove yourself worthy of my confi-
A MISSION 81

dence. I know that aman may be a good soldier, and even a
wise counsellor, though he may be a very bad monk.”

The next morning the pair rode out from the castle at day-
break. Roger was dressed in the usual monkish attire ‘of the
time, a long loose gown with a cape, and a head-covering
resembling a small turban. He rode a compactly-built little
horse, which seemed scarce capable of carrying his weight, but
ambled along with him as if it scarcely felt it. Oswald was
dressed as a lay servitor in tightly-fitting high hose, short
jerkin girt in by a band at the waist, and going half-way down
to the knee. He rode his own moorland horse, and carried
on his arm a basket with provisions for a day’s march. He
wore a small cloth cap, which fell down to his neck behind.
His uncle accompanied him to the gate, which was by his
orders opened to give them egress.

“‘ Good-bye, lad,” he said. ‘I know not, and do not wish
to know, the object of your journey. It is enough for me that
it is a confidential mission for Hotspur, and I am proud that
you should have been chosen for it, and I feel convinced that
you will prove you have merited our lord’s confidence. Good-
bye, friend Roger! Don’t let your love of fisticuffs and hard
knocks carry you away, but try and bear yourself as if you
were still in the monastery, with the abbot keeping his eye
upon you.”

Brother Roger laughed. ‘You make a cold shiver run
down my back, Alwyn. . I was feeling as if I had just got out
of a cold cellar into the sunshine, and could shout with very
lightness of heart. Iam not in the least disposed to quarrel
with anyone, so let your mind be easy as to my doings. I
shall be discretion itself; and even if I am called upon to
strike, will do so as gently as may be, putting only such
strength into the blow as will prevent an opponent from
troubling us further.”

6
§2 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

So with a wave of the hand they rode on.

“TJ had better strap that staff beside your saddle and under
your knee,” Oswald said, when they had ridden a short distance.
“You carry it as if it were a spear, and I have seen already
three or four people smile as we passed them.”

Roger reluctantly allowed Oswald to fasten the staff beside
him.

«“ One wants something in one’s hands,” he said. “On foot
it does not matter so much, but now I am on horseback again
I feel that I ought to have a spear in hand and a sword
dangling at my side.”

“You must remember that you are still a monk, Roger,
although enlarged for a season. Some day perhaps you will
be able to gratify your desires in that way. You had best
moderate the speed of your horse, for although he ambles
along merrily at present, he can never carry that great carcase
of yours at this pace through our journey.”

“J should like one good gallop,” Roger sighed as he pulled
at the rein, and the horse proceeded at a pace better suited to
the appearance of its rider.

“A nice figure you would look with your robes streaming
behind you,” Oswald laughed. “There would soon be a story
going through the country of a mad monk. Now we take this
turning to the right, and here leave the main north road, for
we are bound in the first place to Roxburgh.”

“TJ thought that it must be that or Berwick, though I asked
no questions.”

«© We shall not travel like this beyond Roxburgh, but shall
journey forward on foot.”

“J supposed that we should come to that, Master Oswald,
for otherwise you would not have told me to provide myself
with a staff.”

They journeyed pleasantly along. Whenever they approached




THEY JOURNEYED PLEASANTLY ALONG.
A MISSION 83

any town or large village Oswald reined back his horse a little,
so that its head was on a level with Roger’s stirrup. They
slept that. night at Kirknewton, where they put up at a small:
hostelry. Oswald had intended going to the monastery there,
but Roger begged so earnestly that they should put up else-
where that he yielded to him.

“T should have no end of questions asked as to our journey
across the border and its object,” Roger said; “and it always
goes against my conscience to have to lie unless upon pressing
occasions,”

“ And, moreover,” Oswald said with a laugh, “ you might be
expected to get up to join the community at prayers at mid-
night, and they might give you a monk’s bed instead of a
more comfortable one in the guest-chambers.”

“There may be something in that,” Roger admitted, “and
I have so often to sleep on a stone bench for the punishment
of my offences that I own to a weakness for a soft bed when I
can get one.”

However, Oswald was pleased to see that his follower be-
haved at their resting-place with more discretion than he
could have hoped for, although he somewhat surprised his
host by the heartiness of his appetite ; but, on the other hand,
he was moderate in his potations, and talked but little, retiring
to a bed of thick rushes at curfew.

“In truth I was afraid to trust myself,’ he said to Oswald
as they lay down side by side. “Never have I felt so free
since Otterburn —never, indeed, since that unfortunate day
when I was wounded and conceived the fatal idea of becom-
ing a monk. Two or three times the impulse to troll out a
trooper’s song was so strong in me that I had to clap my
hand over my mouth to keep it in.” :

“°T is well you did, Roger, for-assuredly if you had so com-

“mitted yourself on the first day of starting I must have sent
84 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

you back to Alnwick, feeling that it would not be safe for you
to proceed with me farther. When we get upon the Cheviots
to-morrow you may lift your voice as you choose, but it were
best that you confined yourself to a Latin canticle even there,
for the: habit of breaking into songs of the other kind might
grow upon you.”

“J will do so,” Roger said seriously. “Some of the canti-
cles have plenty of ring and go, and the words matter not,
seeing that I do not understand them.”

The next morning they resumed their journey, crossed the
Cheviots, which were here comparatively low hills, and after
four hours’ riding arrived at Roxburgh.

“Why do we come here?’ Roger asked. “It would
surely have been much shorter had we travelled through Ber-
wick and along the coast road.”

“ Much shorter, Roger; but Sir Henry thought it better
that we should go inland to Haddington and thence east to
Dunbar, as thus entering the town it would seem that we
came from Edinburgh or from some western monastery,
whereas did we journey by the coast road it might be guessed
that we had come from England.”

As before, they put up at a hostelry, and Oswald then pro-
ceeded on foot to the governor’s house. Some soldiers were
loitering at the door.

«What do you want, lad?” one of them asked as he came up.

“JT have a letter which I am charged to deliver into the
governor’s own hands.”

“A complaint, I suppose, from some worthy prior who has
lost some of his beeves?”’

“Maybe the governor will inform you if you ask him,”
Oswald replied.

“T shall pull your ear for you when you come out, young
jackanapes,” the soldier said hotly.
A MISSION 85

“That danger I must even risk. Business first and pleasure
afterwards.” And while the other soldiers burst into a fit of
laughter at the astonishment of their comrade at what he
deemed the insolence of this young servitor of a monastery,
he quietly entered.

The guard at the door, who had heard the colloquy, led
him into the governor’s room. “A messenger with a letter
desires speech with you, Sir Philip,” he said.

“ Bid him enter,” the knight said briefly.

Oswald entered and bowed deeply. .He waited until the
door closed behind the attendant and then said:

“T am the bearer of a letter, sir, from Lord Percy to you.”

The knight looked at him in surprise.

“Hotspur has chosen a strange messenger,” he muttered to
himself as he took the missive Oswald held out to him, cut
the silk that bound it with a dagger, and read its contents.
As he laid it down he rose to his feet. “ Excuse my want of
courtesy,” he said. “Lord Percy tells me that you are one
of his esquires—no slight recommendation— and that you
are intrusted with somewhat important a mission on his part
to Dunbar, a still higher recommendation — for assuredly he
would not have selected you for such a purpose had you not
stood high in his regard. But, indeed, at first I took you for
what you seemed, as the bearer of a complaint from some
abbot; for in truth such complaints are not uncommon, for
whenever a bullock is lost they put it down to my men.
Where are your horses that Percy speaks of ? You will, I hope,
take up your abode here as long as you stay in the town.”

“Thank you, Sir Philip; but I shall go forward in the
morning. I have already put up at the Golden Rose. It
would attract attention were I to come here, and it were best
that I remain as I am; and indeed I have brought no clothes
with me save those I eende Li
86 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Well, perhaps, as you do not wish to attract attention, it
were best so; and I pray you inform Lord Percy of the reason
why you declined my entertainment.”

“JT shall be glad, Sir Philip, if you will send down a couple
of your men to fetch the horses up to your stables, as I shall
start as soon as the gates are open to-morrow morning.”

“‘T will do so at once.” And the governor rang a hand-bell
on the table. ;

«Send two of the men up here,” he said, as an attendant
entered.

A minute later a door opened, and two soldiers came in and
saluted. One of them, to Oswald’s amusement, was the man
with whom he had exchanged words below.

“You will accompany this gentleman to the Golden Rose,
and bring back two horses which he will hand over to you,
and place them in the stables with mine. Are you sure,
Master Forster, that there is nothing more that I can do for
you?”

“Nothing whatever, I thank you, sir; and I am greatly
obliged by your courtesy, and with your permission I will take
my leave. I hope to return here in the course of a week or
ten days.”

So saying, Oswald shook hands with the governor and went
downstairs, followed by the soldiers, who had not yet recovered
from their surprise at seeing Oswald seated and evidently on
familiar terms with their lord. Oswald said nothing to them
until he arrived at the Golden Rose. Then he led the way to
the stables, and handed the horses over to them.

“I suppose that that pulling of the ear will be deferred for
a time?” he said, with a smile, to the soldier who had made
the remark.

The man sheepishly took hold of the bridle. “I could not
tell, sir —”’ he began.
AT DUNBAR 87

“Of course you could not,” Oswald interrupted. “ Still, it
may be a lesson to you that it is just as well not to make fun
of people until you are quite sure who they are. There, I
bear no malice; get yourselves a stoup of wine in payment for
your services.”

“J thought that there was something out-of-the-way about
him,” the other man said as they walked up the street with the
two horses, “or he would never have turned upon you as he
did. It is evident that he is someone of consequence, and is
here on some secret business or other with Sir Philip. It is
well that he did not bear malice, for you would have got it hot
from the governor had he reported what you said to him.”



CHAPTER VI

AT DUNBAR

flee journey passed without any incident of importance,
but Oswald had reason to congratulate himself on having
taken the monk with him. On one occasion, as they were
passing over a wild heath, a party of eight or ten men, on
rough ponies, rode up. They were armed with spears and
swords. They reined up with exclamations of disappointment
as Roger, who had rolled up his robe round his waist for con-
venience of walking, let it fall round him.

«You have played us a scurvy trick, monk,” the leader said
angrily. “Who was to guess it was a monk who was thus
striding along?”

“ You would find it difficult to walk yourself with this robe
dangling about your heels,” Roger said.

«Whither are you bound, and whence are you going?”
88 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“ We are travelling to Dunbar, being sent to the convent of
St. Magnus there, and come from Roxburgh.”

«*T is a shame that so stalwart a fellow as you are should be
leading a drone’s life in a convent, when every true Scotsman
is sharpening his spear in readiness for what may come when
the truce with England expires.”

‘“‘T am glad to hear that you are so well employed,” Roger
replied ; “ but methinks that in days like these it is sometimes
useful to have a few men of thews and sinews even in a re-
ligious house, for there are those who sometimes fail in the
respect they owe to the Church.”

“That is true enough,’ the men laughed. “ Well, go thy
way, there is nought to be gained from a travelling monk.”

“ Nought, good friend, save occasionally hard blows, when
the monk happens to be of my strength and stature, and
carries a staff like this.”

“Tis a goodly weapon in sooth, and you look as if you
knew how to wield it.”

“Even a monk may know that, seeing that a staff is not a
carnal weapon.”

And rolling up his sleeves Roger took the staff in the middle
with both hands, in the manner of a quarter-staff, and made it
play round his head with a speed and vigour that showed that
he was a complete master of the exercise.

“Enough, enough!” the man said, while exclamations of
admiration broke from the others. “ Truly from such a cham-
pion, strong enough to wield a weapon that resembles a
weaver’s beam rather than a quarter-staff, there would be more
hard knocks than silver to be gained; but it is all the more
pity that such skill and strength should be thrown away in a
convent. Perhaps it is as well that you are wearing a monk’s
gown, for methinks that, eight to one as we are, some of us
might have got broken heads before we gained the few pence
AT DUNBAR 89

in your pocket. Come on men; better luck next time. It is
clear that this man is not the one we are charged to capture.”
And with his followers he rode off across the moor.

“I do not think that they are what they seem, Oswald said,
as they resumed their journey. “The man’s speech was not
that of a border raider, and his followers would hardly have
sat their horses so silently and obeyed his orders so promptly
had they been merely thieving caterans; besides, you marked
that he said you were not the man they were watching for.”

“ Whom think you that they are then, Master Oswald?”

“T think it possible that they may be a party of Douglas’s
followers, led by a knight. It may be that Douglas has
received some hint of March’s being in communication with
England, and that he has sent a party to seize and search any
traveller who looked like a messenger from the south. Of
course this may be only fancy. Still, I am right glad that you
were wearing your monkish robe, for had I been alone I might
have been cross-questioned so shrewdly as to my purpose in
travelling, that I might have been held on suspicion, and
means employed to get the truth out of me.”

At the small town where they stopped next night they
learned that many complaints had been made by travellers
from the south of how they had been stopped by a party of
armed men on the border, closely questioned, and searched,
and in some cases robbed. This had been going on for some
weeks, and the sheriff of the county had twice collected an
armed force and ridden in search of the robbers, but alto-
gether without success. It was believed that they were stran-
gers to the district, and the description given of them had
not agreed with those of any noted bad characters in the
neighbourhood.

“ Certainly, Master Oswald,” the monk said, “all this seems
to support your idea. Money and valuables are soon found ;
90 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

but by what these men say of the way in which the clothes and
belongings of these travellers were searched, it would seem to
show that money was not the object of the band, but rather
the discovery of correspondence, and that money was only
taken as a cloak.”

“T have no doubt that they were there to intercept some-
one, Roger, though it may not have been Percy’s messengers ;
still, we are well rid of them, and I hope that we shall meet no
more on our way.”

The hope was fulfilled, and they reached Dunbar without
further interruption. Here they deemed it better to separate.
The monk went to a convent and gave out there that he was
on the way to Edinburgh, being on a journey thither to see his
aged father, who was in his last sickness. Oswald went to a
shop and bought clothes suited for the son of a trader in a fair
position, and changing his things at the inn where he had put
up, made his way to the castle.

“TI would have speech with the earl,” he said to the warder
at the gate. ‘I have his orders to wait upon him.”

« What is your name and condition?”

“That matters not. I am here by the earl’s orders. He
sent me a ring by which it might be known that I am author-
ised to have access to him.”

On seeing the ring the warder at once called to one of
the servitors and bade him conduct Oswald to the earl’s
apartment.

“Whom shall I say?” he asked when he reached the door.

“ Give this ring to him, and say the bearer awaits admittance
to him.”

The man entered the room, and then opening the door again
motioned to Oswald to enter. The earl, a tall and powerfully-
built man, looked with a keen scrutiny at him.

“From whom come you, young sir?”
AT DUNBAR 91

“From the holder of that ring, my Lord Earl,” Oswald said,
presenting the ring that Percy had given him. “My name is
Oswald Forster, and I have the honour to be one of Lord
Percy’s esquires.”

“Come you alone?” the earl asked.

“IT came with a companion, a monk. I was in the disguise
of a young servitor of his convent. We came on foot from
Roxburgh.”

He then unscrewed the handle of a dagger Percy had given
him for the purpose, and pulled out a small roll of paper, which
he handed to the earl. It contained only the following words:
“Do not intrust undue confidence in the bearer. The matters
you wot of are in good train; of them my messenger knows
nothing.”

“ This was so writ by Sir Henry Percy,” said Oswald, “in
order that if I were detained and searched on the way, and
this paper found on me, I might not be forced by torture to
say aught of my message.”

“ But this signet-ring would have shown to whom you were
coming.”

“Tt was concealed in my staff, my lord, and could not have
been discovered had not that been split open. Had it been
so I should have admitted that Lord Percy had indeed com-
mitted the signet and the writing to me to carry, and had bid
me travel as the servitor of a monk on his journey north, but
that, more than that these were to be delivered to you, I knew
nothing. Lord Percy selected me as his messenger partly be-
cause from my youth I should not be likely to be suspected
of being a messenger between two great lords, and in the
second place, because, if arrested, and these matters found on
me, the statement of the letter would be readily believed. It
would not be supposed that important state secrets would be
committed to a lad like myself.”
92 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

The earl made no reply for a time, but sat with his eyes
fixed on Oswald’s face, as if he were reading him thoroughly.

“Then you do know the matters in question? ”

“1 do, my lord. Iam the bearer of a further communication
to you.”

“ Say on, then.”

* Lord Percy bids me say that on the receipt of your message
to him, he forwarded it by one of his knights to the king at
Westminster, and that the matter was discussed by his majesty
with two or three of his most trusted councillors. After full
consideration the king has accepted your offer, and will grant
all its conditions. He sent, my lord, also a document with his
royal seal attached, engaging to observe all the conditions of
the compact. This document Lord Percy holds, to be given to
you on a convenient occasion, but he deemed it of so important
a nature that it would be too hazardous to send it to you. The
king, in a letter to Lord Percy, begged him to tell you that so
long as the truce continued he could not collect an army to sup-
port you, but that, as the time for its termination approached,
he would begin to do so, and would be in readiness to take the
field in the north immediately you move in the matter.”

The earl sat for some time in thought. ‘Do you know the
conditions of the compact?” he asked suddenly.

Oswald had expected this question, and felt sure that the
earl, who was, when not inflamed by anger, a cool and cautious
man, would highly disapprove of Hotspur’s frankness, and might
possibly detain him if he knew that he possessed so important
a secret. He therefore replied, “As to such grave matters,
it was not necessary that I should know more than I have
said to you, my Lord Earl. As it is no secret that you and the
Douglases have personal enmity, I deemed that the compact
referred to our king giving you aid should you need it against
the Douglases.”
AT DUNBAR 93

The answer was apparently satisfactory. The earl asked
no further questions on this head.

“Were there other reasons than those you have stated why
he chose you as his messenger? ”

“Another reason he gave me, my lord, was that as I came
of a family who reside within a few miles of the border, and
had relatives on this side whom I sometimes visited, my
language was similar to that spoken in Roxburghshire, so
that I could therefore pass as a Lowland Scot without diffi-
culty. No one, in fact, at the various places at which we
have stopped has taken me for aught but a countryman,
though the monk with me was often taxed with being an
Englishman, though belonging to a monastery at Roxburgh.”

Again the earl was silent for some time. “I must think
over the message that I shall give you for Percy,” he said. “I
like not the delay, though I see that there is good reason for
it. As one of Hotspur’s esquires I would fain treat you with
all courtesy and lodge you here, but this might cause question
as to who you are, and it were therefore better that you should
lodge in the town. Have you put up anywhere?”

“T rested for an hour at the sign of the Lion, my lord,
engaging a room there in order to effect a change in my
clothes. I left by the back entrance in order that the change
should not be observed.”

“Tt were best that you fetched those you travelled in away,
or rather that you returned unnoticed, and as it is getting
dark now, this can doubtless be managed, and when you sally
out place that cloak over your shoulders to hide your dress as
a servitor, and go to the other inn, the Falcon. Say there
that you are staying for a few days in Dunbar, having come
here on business with me, and that I bade you go there so
that I might know where to send for you if necessary. You
can pass for what you seem, a young trader who has come
94 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

from Edinburgh to arrange, on the part of your father, a cloth
merchant there, for a supply of stuffs for the clothing of my
retainers.”

Oswald carried out his instructions, walked about until it
was quite dark, then entered the inn, made his way unobserved
to the chamber where he had left his clothes, put these on,
made the others up into a bundle, and then went downstairs
again and paid his bill, saying as he did so, that he had found
the friends he came to see, and that they had room to take
him in. After leaving the house he threw the cloak, which he
had carried on his arm, over his shoulders, and put on the cap
that belonged to his other dress, and then went to the Falcon
Inn, and repeating to the landlord the statement the earl had
made, was at once shown to a chamber with some deference.

“Will your worship have supper here or in the room
below?”

“JT will come down,” he said ; “it is dull work sitting alone.”

Having ordered his supper, with a flask of wine, Oswald
again donned his attire as a trader and went downstairs.
Just as he entered the room, in which several persons were
sitting, a soldier came in from the outer door. He looked
round the room.

“T have a message from the earl for the person who was
with him this afternoon.”

Oswald at once rose and went across to him. “The earl
bade me tell you,” the soldier said in a low voice, “that his
present furnisher is Robert Micklethwaite, and that his place
of business is near the castle gate at Edinburgh.”

“Please thank the earl for the information,’ Oswald replied,
and then returned to his seat.

He had, indeed, while dressing been wondering what name
he should give. It was like enough that in Dunbar many
might know the names of the principal traders in Edinburgh
AT DUNBAR 95

and that were he to give an unknown one he might be ques-
tioned as to his place of business. ‘The message, therefore,
relieved him of this difficulty. After he had finished his supper,
which was an excellent one, he beckoned to the landlord.

“T am a stranger here, landlord,” he said; “I pray you to
drink a cup with me, and tell me the news of the place. You
may know the name of Micklethwaite,” he went on, as the land-
lord sat down, “and that he comes or sends regularly to arrange
for the supply of cloth, its quality and price, required for the
earl’s retainers.”

“Master Micklethwaite always puts up here when he visits
Dunbar,” the landlord said. “I must have misunderstood him,
for one day when he was talking with me he said that it was
a trouble to him that he had no sons.”

“Nor has he,” Oswald said ; “luckily for me, who am but
a nephew.”

“He is a good customer,” the landlord went on, “ and good
company too; but he cares not for French wines, and does
not trouble my cellarer much.”

“He is a careful man,”: Oswald said, with a smile, “and
though he is a good trencherman, he does not waste his
money on such matters. However, he lets me have a freer
hand than he uses himself, and asks not, when I return, for a
close account of my outgoings. What do they say here as to
the chances of another war with England?”
~ ©T fear the worst,” the landlord replied. ‘These wars are
ruin to us, and we have had the English at the gates of Dun-
bar over many times already, and the town sacked and burnt
over our heads more than once. Though I do not say that it
might not have been worse, for our earls have ever stood aloof
as much as possible, and have often inclined towards the
English side. Still, even then it is bad enough, for the whole
country from Berwick has often been wasted to check the
96 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

progress of the armies, and our trade well-nigh ruined. A
pest on all wars, say I!”

“And which way think you that the present earl’s leanings.
would go?”

“I think not about it one way or the other. My business
is to sell food and liquor, the earl’s to take part in affairs of
state. In days like these it is quite enough for each man to
attend to his own business without troubling about that of
other people, more especially when that other is a powerful
noble, who thinks little enough of slitting a tongue that wags
too freely. No, no, lad; John Sanderson is no fool, and
knows better than to open his mouth touching the affairs of
great nobles. I know not how it may be with you and the
burghers of Edinburgh, but here we are content to cool our
own porridge, and let others take their food hot or cold as
they choose.”

« T was not wishing you to give me so much your own ideas
as the common talk of the town; but I see that my question
was indiscreet, and I ask your pardon.”

“T know you meant no harm, lad, and that your question
was just one that any young man of your age might ask with-
out thinking that there was harm in it, or that the answering
of it might lead to harm. I can tell you that whatever folk
may think here in Dunbar, they say nought about it to their
nearest neighbour. We can talk of war with England, that is
too common a thing for there to be harm in it, and as no one
knows aught, one man’s opinion is as good as another’s; but
the talk is general, and assuredly no man asks his neighbour
what this great lord will do, or how matters will go. There
is no harm in two gossips wondering whether, if the English
come, the town will hold out till help comes, or whether they
will batter down the walls first.

“Tt is a kind of riddle, you see, and all the more that no


AT DUNBAR 97

one knows who may be by the king’s side when the storm
breaks. A generation back men might make a fair guess, but
now it were beyond the wisest head to say, and for my part I
leave the thinking to those whom it concerns. You from
Edinburgh ought to know more than we do, for in great cities
men can talk more freely, seeing that no one lord has the
place in his hands, and that the citizens have rights, and hold
to them. The general thought is that we shall have war
directly the truce is over. Among us who live by peaceful
trade we still hope for peace, for we see not what good comes
of war, save to those who make raids in England, and as often
as not these get more hard knocks than plunder; but to the
quiet trader it means loss, and may well mean ruin if the
English army again marches through Scotland. We can dis-
cover no reason why the two countries should not live peace-
ably together, each going about its own business. I have
heard it said before now that it would be a good thing for
both countries if the border districts on both sides were
stripped altogether of their people, and allowed to lie
desolate.

« Ah, it would be a rare thing, that. It is thieving loons on
both sides of the border that keep up the ill-feeling, and the
loss would not be great, seeing that there are plenty of waste
tracts where the people might be bestowed, and pass their
time more profitably in raising crops and cattle than in destroy-
ing or carrying off those of their neighbours. However, young
sir, that is not like to be in our time.” *

“Tam afraid not, Sanderson, and we must needs make the
best we can of things as they stand. I think that ’t would be
well, if the English do come north again and capture Edin-
burgh, and ruin trade for years, to cross the seas to France and
take service there.” ,

“Scarce spoken like a peaceful trader,” the landlord

7
Uiien BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

. laughed ; “ but I doubt not you would make a good soldier,
and that a sword would suit your hand to the full as well as a
yard measure. Well, it makes not so much difference to me.
Men must eat and drink, and though my wine would be drunk
up without payment, and I should have to run the risk of being
killed on the walls if the English came, I should know that in
a short time men would come and go as before, and that they
will drink good wine if they have money to pay for it, and in
six months my trade would be as brisk as ever; but men seem
to think that this time it will be the Scots who will invade
England, for the English barons have had enough of wars in
France, and will be slow in furnishing their quota when called
on, and that we shall carry fire and sword through the north-
ern counties.”

“That we may do, though Northumberland and Hotspur
will doubtless have something to say to it. I fear it will be as
it has been many a time before. Our armies will march back
with their plunder, the news of the damage done will inflame
all England, and then a great army will march north. The
nobles will hasten to make terms for themselves, and the harm
and damage will fall upon quiet people who had nought what-
ever to do with the invasion.”

“True enough, young sir, true enough, though it is a shame
that it should be said. Had the cities a voice in the matter
of peace and war, you may be right sure that we should hear
no more of invasions and troubles from this side of the border. —
I say not that there would be peace, for the claims of the Eng-
lish kings to authority in Scotland, although we have not heard
so much of them since Bannockburn, are but in abeyance, and
the first time that there is really peace between them ana
France, you may be. sure that we shall hear of them again,
and then the towns as well as the country would join heartily
in repelling an invasion.”
AT DUNBAR 99

“They never did so in the past time, Sanderson. They
generally opened their gates at once, or if they closed them it
was because there was a strong garrison, under some knight
or noble who, and not the townspeople, had the say in the
matter. Now, methinks, I will to bed, for I have had a long
day’s travel.”

The next day passed without any message from the earl,
but on the following morning one of the retainers from the
castle came in with the message that the earl desired the pres-
ence of Mr. Micklethwaite.

Oswald went up at once. The earl was, as before, alone.

“J have been thinking, Master Forster, that it would be
safer both for you and for me were you to tarry here for a
while. You came through safely, it is true, but you might not
have such good fortune on your return ; and even though I
sent no written answer, it would be enough, were Percy’s signet
found upon you, to ensure your imprisonment and perhaps
death. At any rate they would have the means of wringing
from you the mission of which you were in charge, while I
could send equally well a message by sea as I did before.”

“J see that there might be some slight danger, my Lord
Earl,” Oswald said quietly, “but I as well as another might
take passage down by ship touching at Berwick or other port.”

The earl’s brow clouded. “’Tis a matter to be thought
over,” he said moodily. “A ship might be captured, seeing
that there are often French freebooting vessels on the coast.
And what were your orders from Lord Percy?”

“That I was to return immediately I had conveyed his
message to you.”

«J would gladly hasten your departure,” the earl said after
a moment’s pause, “but you see great issues hang upon this
affair. However, I will think the matter over again, and will
see how it can be best managed.”
100 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

After leaving the castle, Oswald went to the convent where
the monk was lodged and asked for speech with brother Roger.
In a minute or two the latter came out.

« Are we off, young master?” he asked. In truth, it is as
bad here as at Alnwick, and after a taste of liberty I am long-
ing to be out again; and, indeed, I have had some trouble in
accounting for my stay here instead of continuing my journey
to see my aged father.”

“Tf it depénded upon me I would say that we would start
forthwith, but what I have somewhat feared all along has
come to pass. I was the bearer of a certain message of much
importance from Hotspur to the earl, and I fear that the latter
will detain me. He thinks that I know more than I have
said, which indeed is true, and likes not that one who is so
entirely cognisant of his secret counsels and intentions should
go free. He put it down to the fact that I might be captured
on my way back and forced to confess the whole details of the
mission with which I am charged. It is possible that this is
so, but it is more likely that he dislikes that anyone should
know secrets that concern his safety ; and although he has not
said as much at present, I believe that it is his intention to
hold me here as prisoner, though doubtless with due courtesy
as befits Percy’s messenger and esquire, until affairs come to
a head, which may not be for a year or two yet.”

«‘ Js there a guard over you at present?”

“ Not that I know of, Roger, but it may be that the inn is
watched. At any rate, he would try to overtake me did I
attempt to leave without his permission.”

«Then, Master Oswald, I should say let us be off at once.”

“ But how, Roger? On foot we should. be speedily over-
taken, and if not watched at present, doubtless I shall be, after
my interview with the earl this morning. Were I to try and
buy horses I might be arrested at once. However, I have
AT DUNBAR 101

been thinking that the best plan would be for you to go
round to the port and to bargain for a passage for us to Edin-
burgh. Then we would slip on board quietly half an hour
before she sailed. Methinks it were as well that you did not
go in your robes. I will purchase a dress suitable to a cattle
drover for you, and a similar one for myself. I will bring
yours for you here in an hour’s time if you will wait a hundred
yards from the gate for me. Then you can go to some quiet
spot and change your garments, and then go down to the port.
I will be standing at the door of my inn, and as you pass say,
without checking your pace, the hour at which a boat sails to-
day or to-morrow, and then do you be near the hotel again an
hour before that time. Do not speak to me as I come out, but
keep a short distance behind me, and if you see that I am
followed by anyone, you must do your best to rid me of him.
You had better bring your present garments along with you,
they may be useful.”

Roger assented joyously. The thought that at any rate for
a time he was to get rid of his robes filled him with joy, and
the possibility that there might be danger in the enterprise
only added to his pleasure. Feeling the need for great care,
Oswald walked for some little time before entering a shop,
passing through several quiet streets, and when assured that
he was not followed, he went into the booth of a clothier.

“J have occasion for two suits of clothes such as would be
worn by cattle drovers,” he said. ‘Iam about to travel, and
having money about me can best do so safely in such a gar-
ment. I want one suit to fit me, and another for a com-
panion who is a big stout man, a good deal above the ordinary
height.”

“°T is a wise precaution, your honour, for the roads are by
no means safe at present. I can fit you with ease, and will pick
out the largest clothes I have in stock for your companion.”
102 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

The purchase was soon made. It consisted of a rough smock
of blue cloth reaching to the knees and girded in by a strap at
the waist, and breeches of the same material reaching below
the knees, with strips of grey cloth to be wound round and
round the leg from the knee to the ankle. In addition, Oswald
bought two pairs of rough sandals and two lowland bonnets.
Each suit was done up at his request in a separate parcel, and
then, retracing his steps, he joined Roger and handed his
clothes to him.

“J will go outside the gates and change my things,” Roger
said, “and then go down to the port. I will then come to
your hotel as you said. If no ship sails until to-morrow I have
only to put my robe on over these garments and return to the
convent. If there is one sailing this evening I shall not go
back there again, but will be on the look-out for you half an
hour before the boat leaves the port.”

“The nearer the time of sailing the better, Roger, for if I
am watched, and there is any trouble with the man who follows
me, the sooner we are on board before any alarm is raised the
better. But I should hardly think a boat would start in the
evening.”

“I don’t know, Master Oswald. I was down at the port
yesterday and the tide was high at three o’clock, and methinks
that a boat would put out an hour or two before low tide, so
as to take the water with it as far as New Berwick and there
catch the flood flowing into the Firth. In that case the boat
would put out at six or maybe seven o'clock.”

“J would that it had been two hours later, Roger. After
dark it were easy enough to silence a man without attracting
much attention, but in broad daylight it would not be so easily
done.”

“Not if we went straight from the inn to the port, master,
but there is no need for you to take that route.”
AT DUNBAR | 103

« You are right, Roger. Indeed, it would be better not to
do so, for were they to have an idea that we had escaped by
water the earl might send a fast boat after us. ‘Therefore,
when I come out I will turn off and go by unfrequented streets
and lanes in the opposite direction. In that way you will be
better able to see if I am followed, and may find some quiet
place where you can give a man a clout on the head that will
rid us of him.”

«Will you come out, Master Oswald, in your present attire,
or in your disguise ?”’

“T will wear this cloak and head-gear, and will put these
leggings over the others, so that I shall have but to take them
off and fling them aside, and to throw off my cloak and cap and
put on this bonnet, all of which will not take a minute and can
be done in a doorway or passage without attracting observa-
tion. I should be afraid to go out in the drover’s attire; the
servants at the inn know me now, and, moreover, a man of
such condition would not think of going to the Falcon. Were
I to be noticed coming out it might be thought that I had
entered it for some evil purpose.”

“T shall be on hand, master. I had thought of not return-
ing to the monastery, but I must do so, for I have left my staff
there and it will be as suitable for a drover as a monk. I shall
go to the harbour as soon as I have seen you, and if it is this
evening a boat sails, I shall go back at once and bid them
farewell, saying that a ship is sailing for Leith, and that I have
taken passage in her.”

Oswald returned to the inn, and half an hour later went
down to the doorway, where he stood as if idly watching the
flow of traffic. A quarter of an hour later he saw Roger
approaching. He looked the character that he had assumed
to the life. He had dirtied his hands and face, and smudged
his smock with stains of mud. He strolled along with a free
104 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

step and head erect. He did not look at Oswald as he passed,
but said, “ Boat sails at seven to-night.”

Oswald stood for some time longer. A short distance down
the street he observed two of the earl’s retainers. ‘They were
standing apparently looking at the goods in a mercer’s window.
After a time they moved on a short distance, passed the inn
and stopped again to look in another shop twenty or thirty

yards away. Then Oswald left the door. ‘The landlord was
Naa in the passage and beckoned to him to enter his
private room.

“Young sir,” he said, “I know not whether you have done
anything that has displeased the earl, nor is it any business of
mine, but you are a fair-spoken young gentleman, and I would
not that any ill came to you. I like not to meddle in the
earl’s affairs, for he would think nothing of ordering my house
to be burnt over my head. However, I may warn you that he
is making inquiries about you. One of his retainers has been
here, two hours ago, with a confidential message from the earl
to inquire whether you had said anything about leaving, and
to bid me send a message to him secretly should you do so.”

“TI thank you warmly, my good host,” Oswald replied. “I
have had no quarrel with the earl, but we have differed as to
the value of the goods he requires. He would fain have them
at last year’s prices; but wool has gone up, and we could not
sell them save at a loss. It may be that he thinks I shall go
away, and that if he finds I am about to do so he will send for
me and agree to my terms, which indeed are so low that they
leave but little profit. However, it were well that you should
let me know how much I owe you, and I will pay that at once.
Do not make up the account, but tell me roundly there or
thereabouts, and then should I leave suddenly you can say
truly that I had not asked for my bill, and that you were
altogether ignorant of my intention of leaving.”
BACK TO HOTSPUR 105

“ There can be no occasion for that,” the host said. “You
can pay me the next time you come should you decide to leave
suddenly.”

“‘ Nay, I would rather settle obligations, for if I do not do
business with the earl it may be some time before I return.”

The landlord made rapid calculations and named a sum,
which Oswald at once handed to him, with warm thanks for
the warning he had given him.

“‘T may stay here three or four days longer,” he said mean-
ingly, ‘as the earl may at the last moment come to an agree-
ment as to the price of the goods. I should be sorry to return
to my uncle without getting an order, for the earl has for years
been one of our best customers.”

The landlord nodded. “I understand,” he said. “It
would be as well, perhaps, that you should say as much in the
hearing of one of the drawers, so that if questioned I shall have
a witness who can bear me out.”

CHAPTER VII

BACK TO HOTSPUR

T was still broad daylight when at half-past six Oswald left
the inn and sauntered at a leisurely pace down the street.

His eye at once fell on Roger’s tall figure, and he also saw two
retainers of the earl loitering about. They were not the same
men he had seen in the morning, but doubtless had relieved
those on watch. He took the first turning off the main street,
and after passing through several lanes found himself at the
foot of the town-wall. A narrow lane ran between it and a
106 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

row of small houses. No one was about, and he thought that
Roger would take advantage of the loneliness of the spot to
endeavour to rid him of his followers, whose footsteps he could
hear some distance behind him. Presently he glanced care-
lessly round. The men were some thirty or forty yards behind
him, and coming up with them at a rapid step was Roger. A
minute later he heard a voice raised in anger.

“Where are you going, fellow? There is plenty of room
to pass without pushing between us. You want teaching
manners.”

Roger gave aloud laugh. “Who is going to teach me?”
he said.

“J will!” one of the men said, angrily placing his hand
upon his sword-hilt.

As he did so he was levelled to the ground by a tremendous
blow from Roger’s staff. With a shout the other soldier drew
his sword, but before he could guard himself the staff again
descended, and he fell senseless beside his comrade. Roger
at once knelt beside them, tore off strips of their garments,
and, rolling them up, pressed them into their mouths, and with
string which he had brought for the purpose tied them in
their place ; then taking out a few pieces of cord he tied their
hands behind them and their ankles together, dragged them
into a dark entry, and left them lying there. The whole trans-
action had occupied but two or three minutes, and had
attracted no attention whatever. The soldiers’ shout might
have been heard, but there was no clashing of weapons, and a
shout was too unimportant a matter for anyone within hearing
to take any trouble about. Oswald, seeing that Roger needed
no assistance, had occupied himself with stripping off the
outer pair of leggings, and had made these, with his cloak and
cap, into a bundle, and, pressing the drover’s cap down over
his eyes, was ready by the time Roger came up to him.


““WHO IS GOING TO TEACH ME?”
BACK TO HOTSPUR 107

“ Tt was splendidly managed, Roger.”

“Tt did well enough,” the other said carelessly. “It may
be an hour before anyone stumbles over them, and long before
that we shall be at sea.”

They made their way back through quiet lanes until near
the port, and then boldly went down to the side of a small
craft.

“You are just in time, my men,” the skipper said. “In
another five minutes we should be throwing off the ropes and
hoisting sails. Now that you have come, we shall do so at
once. The tide is just right for us, and we have nothing
further to stop for.”

The boat was a large fishing smack, and had put into
Dunbar but that afternoon with the intention of disposing of
the catch. Two others had, however, come in still earlier.
The market being glutted, the skipper had determined to take
his catch, which was a heavy one, on to Leith, and had agreed,
for a very small sum, to carry the two drovers to that port.
Oswald and Roger aided in getting up the sails, and in a few
minutes the smack was at sea. The wind was from the south-
west, and the boat ran rapidly up the coast.

«The earl will be in a nice way when he finds that you have
gone,”’ Roger said as he stood in the stern to watch the rapidly
receding towers of Dunbar. “There will be a hot hue and cry
for you. The earl is not accustomed to be thwarted, and they
say that he is a mighty hot-tempered man. I have no doubt
that as soon as his fellows bring him word of what has hap-
pened to them, and he finds that you have quitted the inn, he
‘will send parties of horse out to scour the roads to Berwick
and Haddington, and to search the country far and near.”

“He is welcome to do that,’ Oswald said. ‘My fear is,
that he will send down to the port to inquire if any craft put
out about the hour at which his men were attacked. But
108 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

even if he does so, there is no great chance of our being over-
taken. We are travelling fast and in another hour it will be
dark, and long before daybreak we shall reach Leith, having
both wind and tide in our favour all the way.”

They kept an anxious watch as long as there was light
enough for them to make out if a vessel left Dunbar. Both
fancied that they could see a sail just as twilight was falling,
but neither could be sure that it was not the effect of imagina-
tion. They were already ten miles away, and as the tide had
now begun to make along the shore it was certain that for
some time at least a ship, however fast she might be, would
gain but little upon them until she had fairly entered the
Firth. There would be no moon, and even should she over-
take them she might well pass them in the dark. When they
lay down they agreed that they would keep awake in turns,
and that if they made out a ship apparently pursuing them
they would offer the skipper the full value for his boat and
betake themselves to it and row for shore.

“The greatest danger,” Roger said, “would be of their
passing us unseen and then lying-to near the entrance of the
port and overhauling us as we came in.”

“That is a danger that we cannot guard against. Can you
swim, Roger?”

“Tt is years since I have done so,” the monk replied, “ but
T used to do so in the old days.”

“There is an empty cask here by my side,” Oswald went
on. “Ifwe are challenged, the best plan would be to lower
it down quietly into the water and to hold on by it. The boat
would certainly go some distance before she had lost her way
and brought up, and we should be out of sight of both ships
before they came together.”

“That is a good idea. If we hear a hail I will at once cut
a good length of rope and twist it round a barrel for us to hold
BACK TO HOTSPUR 109

on by. But I don’t think there is any chance of our being
overhauled.”

“J agree with you in that respect ; still, it is just as well to
have our plans prepared in case it should happen.”

They kept a vigilant watch through the night. without catch-
ing sight of any craft proceeding in the same direction as
themselves.

It was still dark when the helmsman hailed the skipper,
“T see the lights of Leith ahead,” and later they passed the
beacon fire that marked the entrance to the port. Five
minutes later Oswald and his companion, after paying the
sum agreed on, stepped on shore. *

“That danger is over. I did not think that there was any
real cause for fear. I should like to see the earl as his bands
of horsemen ride in to-day with the news that they can hear
nothing of us.”

“T should like to hit him just such a clout with my staff as
I gave his two retainers,” Roger said. “ Earl as he is, it was
scandalous, and contrary to all usages, to arrest a messenger,
especially when that messenger is an esquire of one of equal
rank to himself, and his message, as I suppose, a friendly
one.”

“J don’t so much blame him. He had no means of judg-
ing my discretion, and the consequences to him and others
had I fallen into the hands of Douglas, or those of a marauding
leader, might have been serious indeed. I doubt not that, had
I been content to stay with him, he would have treated me
with all honour. I might even have done so, and have got
him to send another messenger to Percy, but the latter bade
me to return at once, and, moreover, said that he had another
mission as soon as I had carried the present one to a successful
termination.”

« And have you done so, Master Oswald?”
110 BOTH SIDES. THE BORDER

“Ves, I think so, Roger. I was to ascertain the earl’s real
intentions regarding certain matters, and I think that he means
honestly to adhere to an offer he made. ‘The very fear that
he has shown lest his intentions should be betrayed, seems to
prove that he is most anxious that nought should occur to
interfere with his plans.”

«The Earls of Dunbar have ever been a treacherous race,”
Roger said earnestly, “and ready to betray their own country-
men in order to curry favour with England and continue in
possession of their estates. However, as we have benefited
from it, we need not grumble if the Scots are contented.
Now, Master Oswald, what are we to do next?”

“J should say that we had better find a corner to lie down
until daybreak; I don’t think that either of us have slept.
Then we will go into a tavern and breakfast, and afterwards go
on to Edinburgh. I should like to see the town and castle,
and the chance may never come again tome. Then to-mor-
row morning we will start in earnest. We shall have plenty of
opportunities to talk over our plans, so let us lose no time
now in looking for a bed.”

Fortunately, they soon came upon some fishing-nets care-
lessly piled under the lee of a stack of timber. Here they
threw themselves down, and were soon fast asleep. When
they woke the sun was well up. Fishermen were preparing to
get up sail, and those who had, like themselves, come in during
the night were commencing to unload their cargoes.

“ Look there !”” Oswald exclaimed, as he pointed to a vessel
from whose mast-head floated a flag with the arms of the Earl
of March. ‘She is just entering the port. They did chase
us after all, you see, but they did not gain on our fishing-
boat.”

“Well, methinks that we had better be off at once,’ Roger
said. ‘They will soon learn which boat has come from
BACK TO HOTSPUR 111

Dunbar, and find out from the men what were the disguises
worn by us. So we had best lose no time in getting out of
Leith.”

“ They would never dare to seize us here,’”’ Oswald said.

“JT don’t know that. If they have strict orders to bring us
back they would not feel much hesitation in seizing us wher-
ever they found us, knowing well enough that the burghers
of Leith would not concern themselves greatly about the cap-
ture of two drovers, who would probably be charged with all
sorts of crime. Were it one of their own citizens it would be
different ; but it is scarce likely that the burghers would care
to quarrel with a powerful noble for the sake of two strangers
of low degree. The gates will be open before this, and we
shall be safer in Edinburgh than we are here.”

Accordingly they postponed their breakfast, and, passing
through the town without a pause, issued out by the south
gate, and walked briskly to Edinburgh. As soon as they
arrived they found a small tavern, and partook of a hearty
meal. Listening while they ate to the conversation going on
around them, they found that the young Duke of Rothesay
was at present staying at the castle.

“Men say that the disputes between him and his uncle, the
Duke of Albany, have of late grown hotter.”

“That might well be,” another said. ‘ Rothesay is a man
now. He has shown himself a brave soldier, and it is not
likely that he would support with patience the haughtiness
and overbearing manner of Albany. It was an evil day for
Scotland when our good king, who was then but prince, lamed
himself for life, and so was forced on his accession to leave the
conduct of affairs to Albany, then Earl of Fife. The king, as
all men know, is just and good, and has at heart the welfare of
his subjects, but his accident has rendered him unfit to take
part in public affairs, and he loves peace and quiet as much as
112 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Albany loves intrigues and dark and devious ways. ’Tisa
sore pity that the king cannot make up his mind to throw
himself into the arms of Douglas, and call upon the nobility
to join in expelling Albany from his councils, and to give the
charge of affairs into the hands of Rothesay, or even to bestow
upon him the kingly dignity, while he himself retires to the
peaceful life he loves.”

“That would have better done,” the other said, “ before
the young duke married, for many of the nobles, who would
have otherwise supported him, would hold aloof, seeing that
the accession of Rothesay would be but handing over the real
power of the state from Albany to Douglas. Men say that
the feud between March and Douglas grows hotter and hotter,
and that the boldness with which March upbraided the king for
the breaking off by Rothesay of his marriage with Elizabeth of
Dunbar, has so angered him, Rothesay, and Albany, who had
aided in bringing about the match with Elizabeth Douglas,
that’t is like that March will ere long be arraigned for his con-
duct and the threats that he uttered in his passion.”

“Well, gossips, it matters little to us,” an elderly man
said, “whether king or prince or duke is master, we have to
pay; and assuredly, were Rothesay king, our taxes would not
abate, seeing that he is extravagant and reckless, though I say
not that he has not many good qualities. But these benefit
in no way men like ourselves, while the taxation to support
extravagance touches us all.”

There was a murmur of assent from the little group who
were talking, who struck Oswald as being farmers who had
come in from the country to sell cattle to the butchers of the
town. They were interrupted in their talk by the landlord,
who came across to them.

“ My good friends,” he said, “I pray you talk not so loudly
concerning princes and nobles. It is true that we are a royal
BACK TO HOTSPUR 113

city, and that the burghers of Edinburgh have their rights and
their liberties, nevertheless it were dangerous to talk loud con-
cerning nobles. We are quiet people all, and none here wear
the cognisance of Douglas or Albany, still, it would do me
much harm were it reported that there had been talk here
concerning such powerful nobles, and, though the Douglas
might care little what was said of him, methinks that there are
others —I name no names —who would spare neither great
nor small who incurred their resentment.”

«T knew not that we were talking loudly, John Ker, and
methinks that none save the two men at the near table have
heard our words, and they look honest fellows enough. Still,
what you say is right, and while we may talk of these things
by our firesides ’tis best to keep a silent tongue while
abroad.”

« You need not disquiet yourself about us,’’ Roger broke in,
“we have no communion with lords or princes, and so that we
can drive our herds safely down into Cumberland, we care not
whether one noble or another has the king’s ear. We have
but just returned from England.”

“Well, man, I may put you in the way of getting a job if
you want one,” the eldest of the party said. “I myself have
asmall farm near Lavingston, and but breed cattle for the
Edinburgh market, but I have a brother at Lanark who buys
cattle up in the north, and, when there is peace between the
countries, sends the droves down to Carlisle and makes a good
profit on their sales. I saw him but two hours ago, and he
told me that he was daily expecting a lot of cattle from the
north, and that he intended to send them on without delay to
Carlisle. If you say to him that you have seen me, and that
I recommended you to call on him and see if he wanted any
drovers to aid in taking them down, I doubt not he will take
you on unless he has already engaged men.”
114 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“I thank you for the offer,” Roger said, “ but our home lies
near Roxburgh, and we intend to abide there for a time, for
the roads are by no means safe at present. Douglas is think-
ing more of his quarrel with Dunbar than of keeping down
border freebooters. We escaped them this time ; but we heard
of their taking heavy toll from some herds that followed
us, and of their killing two or three drovers who offered objec-
tion, so we have determined to abide at home fora time to
see how matters go.”

After taking a brief view of the town, they started in the
afternoon to walk to Dalkeith, where they slept, and leaving
there at daybreak crossed a lofty range of hills and came down
into Lauderdale. They had no fear of any interruption such
as they had experienced before — as, had Douglas news of
negotiations going on between March and England, he would
not think it necessary to watch the road between Edinburgh
and the border — and late in the evening they arrived at An-
crum, on the Teviot, having done fully fifty miles since start-
ing. Ten miles in the morning took them to Roxburgh.
Here they put up at a small tavern, and Oswald donned the
servitor’s suit that he had brought with him from Dunbar,
while Roger, to his great disgust, resumed his monk’s gown,
which he put on over the drover’s suit. Oswald then went to
the governor’s. His former acquaintance happened to be at
the door, and endeavoured to atone for his former rudeness
by at once ushering him to the governor’s room.

“Welcome back, Master Forster!” the latter said; “your
mission, whatever it was, is speedily terminated. From what
you said I had not looked for you for another fortnight.”

“Tf I had not come when I did,” Oswald said, « my absence
might have been prolonged for months. However, all has
gone well, and I purpose starting at once for Alnwick, and
would fain reach Wooler by nightfall.”
BACK TO HOTSPUR 115

« That you can do easily enough. I will order the horses
to be saddled at once.”

«J thank you, Sir Philip. I will mount here in the court-
yard. I care not now what notice may be taken of me, seeing
that there is but some ten miles to be ridden to the frontier.”

« Nor, I warrant me, will you meet with interference on
the road,” the knight said, “I have not heard of anyone being
stopped for toll for the past year between this and the border.”

A quarter of an hour later they left Roxburgh, and travel-
ling at an easy pace arrived at Wooler before sunset, and on
the following evening entered Alnwick. They could have
reached it earlier, but Oswald thought it as well not to enter
the castle until after dark, as he did not wish to be noticed in
his present attire. Fastening the horses to hooks in the court-
yard, Oswald ran up to his apartment, which was next to that
of his uncle.

« Welcome back, Oswald!” the latter said, as he opened his
door on hearing his footstep. “I had thought that you
would be longer away.”

“Tam back sooner than I expected, uncle. Will you order
supper to be brought up here for Roger and myself; we are
both hard set, though, indeed, we had a meal of bread and
cheese at noon at a wayside tavern.”

“Brother Roger has behaved well?”

“Excellently ; he has cracked but two sconces since we
left, and these were on my behalf. He will sleep on some
rushes in my room to-night ; he hates the thought of returning
to the monastery, and has begged me most earnestly to ask
Percy to continue him in his employment.”

As soon as Oswald had donned his ordinary attire he went
to Lord Percy’s quarters.

“You are back sooner than I had expected, Oswald,” Hot-
spur said as he entered; “nothing has gone wrong, I hope? 2
116 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Nothing, my lord, but I was forced to leave Dunbar after
but three days’ stay there, for the earl was so fearful that 1
might be detected on my way back that he would have
retained me with him until the time for action came, sending
down another messenger by sea to you. As your orders were
to return with all speed I gave him the slip and made my way
back as quickly as possible.”

“ And March?”

“T think that the earl is in earnest in his professions, my
lord, and that you can rely upon him for such aid as he can
render ; but from what I heard in Edinburgh —”’

“Jn Edinburgh!” Hotspur said in surprise ; “what took
you there?”

“TJ will tell you, my lord; but the point is that men said
openly there, that there was a report that he would be attainted
and deprived of his land for treasonable words spoken by him
to the king, the Duke of Albany, and the Duke of Rothesay.
If this is so, he will have to fly, for assuredly he has at present
no force gathered that could resist those of the king and
Douglas.”

“Give me an account of what has happened,” Hotspur said,
frowning. “I feared that March’s impetuous temper would
lead him into trouble before we were in a position to march to
his assistance, and I heard rumours of a stormy scene between
him and Rothesay when he learned that he had been fooled,
but I knew not that the king himself was present.”

Oswald related the story of his journey and the interruption
on the moor, and the reports that he had afterwards heard of
the stoppage of all travellers coming from the south by the
same band.

“The leader was evidently above the rank of an ordinary
marauder, and his followers obeyed him as men-at-arms would
obey an officer; and it seemed to me, my lord, that Douglas
BACK TO HOTSPUR 117

must have heard a vague report that the earl was in communi-
cation with England, and sought to intercept some messenger
on whom he might find a letter, or from whom he could
extract proofs of the earl’s treachery.”

“?T is like enough,’ Hotspur said. “When a man is so
rash as to upbraid the king, and still more Albany, he must
needs fall under suspicion. Now go on with your story.”

When Oswald had brought his narration to an end, Percy
said: “You have done very well, Oswald, and have deserved
the confidence that I placed in you. You have shown much
circumspection, and you did well in escaping from Dunbar as
you did. The mad monk, too, seems to have behaved well.
I doubted your wisdom in taking him, but he has certainly
proved a useful fellow.”

“TJ would petition, my lord, that you should continue him in
your service, and that, should you employ me upon another
mission, you will again allow me to take him with me. He is
a shrewd fellow as well as a stout one, and I could wish for no
better companion; though I own that, since he put on his
gown again at Roxburgh and rode hither, his spirits have
greatly failed him.”

“TJ will arrange that with the abbot,” Hotspur said; “ but
tell him that while he is here he must continue to wear his
robe. His face is too well known for him to pass as a man-
at-arms without being recognised by half the garrison. The
Lord Abbot would well object to one of his monks turning into
a swaggering man-at-arms at his very door. At any rate, I
shall tell the abbot that if he will consent quietly to the monk’s
unfrocking himself until he can obtain for him release from his
vows, I will send him away to one of the other castles, whence
I can fetch him if you need him to accompany you on any
errand, and where he can form part of the regular garrison.
But the knave must be informed that it were best that he say
118 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

nought about his former profession, and that he comport him-
self as quietly as is in his nature. I will give him a small
command as soon as may be; for although a very bad.monk,
he has proved himself to be a good soldier.”

“T thank you greatly, my lord,” Oswald said, “and will talk
seriously to the monk, who will be delighted when he hears that
the abbot will take steps to allow him to lay aside his gown.”

Roger was indeed delighted when he heard the news, and
still more so when, three days later, Oswald informed him that
Hotspur had obtained from the abbot what was practically a
release from his vows. The good abbot said that he felt that
harm rather than good would ensue from keeping the monk a
member of the monastery.

“ He infects the lay brothers with his talk,” he said. “He
is a good instructor in arms, but he teaches not as one who
feels that it is a dire necessity to carry arms, but as one who
delights in it. Moreover, he causes scandals by his drinking
bouts, and does not add to the harmony of the place. Ata
time like this, when the Scots may at any moment fall across
the border, such a fellow may do good service to his country,
and it is surely better that a man should be a good soldier
than that he should be a bad monk. Therefore I will let him
go, my lord; but keep him away from here. It would be a
grave scandal were he to be brawling in the town, where he is
known. Therefore, I pray you, take him elsewhere. I have
striven long to make him a worthy member of his order, but
I feel that it is beyond me; and it would be best, therefore,
that he should go his own way. He may come to be a worthy
soldier, and so justify me in allowing him to unfrock himself.
As he is abiding in your castle, I pray you bid him present
himself here to-morrow. I would fain speak to him, and give
him such advice concerning his future conduct as may be of
benefit to him.”


BACK TO HOTSPUR 119

When Roger returned from the-monastery the next day he
wore a much more serious face than usual.

“The abbot has done me more good by his talk this morn-
ing,” he said to Oswald, “than by all the lectures and pen-
ances he has ever imposed on me. In truth he is a good
man, and I had half a mind to say that I would return to the
convent and do my best to comport myself mildly and becom-
ingly. But I felt that it would not do, Oswald, the thing is
too strong for me, and, however I might strive, I know that
when the temptation came I should break out again, and so
I held my peace.”

“ What did he say to you, Roger?”

“He said many things, but the gist of it was that there
were as good men outside the walls of a monastery as there
were within it, and that a soldier has as many opportunities
—indeed many more opportunities of showing himself a
good man as a monk has, In battle, he said, a soldier must
act as such and fight stoutly against the enemy, and take life
as well as risk his own; but after the fight is over he should
show himself merciful, and if he cannot follow out the precept
to love his enemies, he should at least be compassionate and
kind to them. But above all, he should never oppress the
helpless, should comport himself honourably and kindly to
women and children, and, if necessary, draw sword in their
defence against those who would ill-use them. And though
the. spoils of war were honourable and necessary when cap-
tured in fair fight, yet the oppression and robbery of the poor
were deadly crimes.

“«Comport yourself always, Roger, as if, though a soldier
in arms, you were still a monk at heart. You are brave and
strong, and may rise to some honour; but whether or no, you
may bear yourself as if you were of gentle blood and wore
knightly spurs. Not all who are so are honourable and merci-
120 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

ful, as they have vowed to be. Remember, I shall hear of you
from time to time through my Lord Percy, and that it will
gladden me to have a good account of you, and to feel that I
have not done wrong in letting you go forth from this house of
rest to take part in the turmoil and strife of the world.’ He
said more than this, but this is the pith of it. I knelt down
and swore that I would strive to the utmost in my power to do
as he bade me, and he put his hands on my head and bade me
go in peace; and I tell you I mean to prove to him that his
words have not been in vain.”

Two days later Oswald started with Roger, and rode to
Warkworth Castle, some ten miles away, bearing an order to
the governor to add Roger to the strength of the garrison,
telling him that he had shown himself to be a brave soldier
and a skilful one, and that he could place confidence in him
and appoint him to any sub-command that might become
vacant. On the way they entered a wood, Here Roger took
off his monastic garb and clad himself in armour such as was
worn by the garrison of Alnwick. The monk’s clothes were
made up into a bundle and left in the wood, Oswald saying,
“] will carry them back with me on my return, Roger. It
may be that they may come in useful yet if you and I travel
together again in the Percys’ service.”

A month passed, and then the Earl of March came by sea to
Alnwick. Douglas and the regent had marched against him
with an overwhelming force, and as they were both personal
enemies he knew that his fate would be sealed if he fell into
their hands, and he had therefore been driven to declare
himself openly as a vassal of the English king. On the day
after his arrival he happened to be in Hotspur’s room when
Oswald entered.

“Ah! ah!” he said, “this is your messenger, Percy. You
left me with scant notice, sir.”’? And he smiled.






BACK TO HOTSPUR 121

“‘T was forced to do so, my lord earl, for in truth I was not
sure that you would not prevent me from following my lord’s
orders to return after seeing you.”

“You were right. In the first place I was not sure that you
were a true messenger, and in the second place I feared that
you might on return fall into the hands of the Douglases, who
would speedily find means to wring from you an account of
your mission. Therefore I thought that it were best that you
should tarry a while with me at Dunbar. The young fellow
has a good head, Lord Percy, and is as hard to hold as a wild-
cat. I put the matter of watching him into the hands of two
or three of my men whose wits I have tried more than once,
and know them to be among the most trustworthy of my
followers. This lad, however, outwitted them, — how, they have
never been able to explain; but my fellows were found trussed
up like fowls for roasting, in an alley into which they had been
thrown, having, as they declared, been knocked down by a
giant fellow, who sprung from they knew not where, just as
they were about to lay hands upon your messenger. After
they had vanished none had seen him pass the walls, and we
judged that he must have started in a craft that sailed up the
Forth. Fearing that if they landed he might speedily fall into
the hands of Douglas, I sent a vessel in chase, but they missed
him ; and indeed from that time to this I knew not, save by
your letter to me, whether he had reached here safely.”

After a short stay the Earl of March was about to return to
Dunbar, when he heard that the king himself was coming north
with an army for the invasion of Scotland, and would then
confer with him and consider the terms on which he proposed °
to transfer his allegiance to him.

A month later the king arrived at Alnwick, and there George
Dunbar, Earl of March, entered into an agreement with him,
in which he renounced all fealty to the King of Scotland, in
122 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

consideration for which he was granted an estate in Lincoln-
shire and other revenues. It was also agreed that the subjects
of the King of England should support the earl in time of
necessity, and should be supported by him and received into
his fortresses.

He was not now in a position to render any very efficient
aid to the king, for Robert Maitland, his nephew, to whom he
had committed the castle of Dunbar, had been summoned by
Douglas, who had marched there with a strong force by order
of the king, and had surrendered the stronghold to him. How-
ever, he brought Dunbar’s wife and family, and a considerable
force of his retainers, safely across the border. He and Percy
together then made a raid into the Douglas territory, and pene-
trated as far as Haddington, and collected much spoil from the
country round. Douglas, however, came suddenly upon them
in great force, and they were obliged to retreat hastily across
the frontier again, abandoning their baggage and booty.

The king’s invasion was no more satisfactory. The Earl of
March was unable to place Dunbar in his hands, and as the
Scots declined battle in the open he laid siege to Edinburgh,
but without success. Dunbar being closed to him, he was
unable to obtain provisions, and was forced to fall back to
England, having accomplished nothing.

During his invasion he had shown much more leniency than
had been the custom with his predecessors. He had taken
what was necessary to support the army, but had abstained
from wasting the country, destroying villages and towns, and
slaughtering the country people; and so far from embittering
the animosity between the two nations he had produced a
better state of feeling, and a truce was in consequence con-
cluded for a year at Kelso by special commissioners from both
kings on the 21st of December, 1400.
LUDLOW CASTLE 123

CHAPTER VIII
LUDLOW CASTLE

SWALD FORSTER had not been present when, in June,
1400, the king arrived at Alnwick. A few days after the
coming of the Earl of March, Hotspur received a letter from
Sir Edmund Mortimer, the brother of his wife, asking him to
send a body of men-at-arms under an experienced captain who
could aid him to drill newly-raised levies, for that one Owen
Glendower had taken up arms against the Lord Grey de
Ruthyn, and that turbulent men were flocking to his standard,
and it was feared that serious trouble might ensue. Percy
was in a position to send but few men, for with war with the
Scotch imminent he could not weaken himself by sending off
a large force. However, he sent for Alwyn Forster.

“T need twenty picked men for the service of Sir Edmund
Mortimer, Alwyn. I would send more were it not for the
position of affairs here. What say you to taking the command
of them?” hae

“J would gladly do so, my lord, if it be that there is a
chance of something more lively than drilling hinds and
turning them into men-at-arms, which has been my business
for years now, without a chance of striking a blow in earnest.”

“J think that there will be a certainty of fighting, Alwyn.
The Welshmen are growing troublesome again, and Sir Ed-
mund thinks that there may be tough work on the Welsh
marches, and has written to me for aid. With the king com-
ing hither, there is a chance that the Earl of March and my-
self will open the war by harrying the Douglas’s lands. I can
spare no great force, but even twenty tried men-at-arms would
no doubt be welcome. As the king is going to march into
124 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Scotland, there is no fear that there will be any serious inva-
sion by the Scots, and therefore you can be spared for a while.
I think not that any of my knights would care to go in com-
mand of so small an array, but I thought that you might like
to take it.”

“I shall be right glad to do so, my lord.”

“T shall send your nephew with you. He is a shrewd and
gallant young fellow, and I know he would far rather be tak-
ing part in active service against the Welsh than spending his
time in idleness here. He has been too long used to a life on
horseback to rest contented to be cooped up in a castle.
Besides, there will be a good opportunity of distinguishing him-
self, and of learning something of a warfare even wilder and
more savage than that in these northern marches.”

“T should like much to have him with me, my lord. Me-
thinks that he has the making of a right good knight; and,
young as he is, I am sure that his head is better than mine,
and I should not be too proud to take counsel of him if needs
be.”

“That is settled then, Alwyn. Choose your men and set
off to-morrow morning. Ralph Peyton, your lieutenant, shall-
take the command of the garrison until you return.”

Oswald was delighted when his uncle told him of the mis-
sion with which he was charged, and that he himself was to
accompany him.

“You are to have the choice of the men-at-arms, uncle? ”

“Yes, Oswald. I know what you are going to say. You
would like to have that mad monk of yours as one of them.”

“That should I, uncle. You have no stouter man-at-
arms in all your band, and he has proved that he can be
discreet when he chooses, and did me good service in my last
expedition.”

“Very well, lad, we will take him. JI will send one of the
LUDLOW CASTLE 125

men over at once for him to join us on the road to-morrow.
I shall choose young and active fellows, of whom we have
plenty. I have never fought against the Welsh; but they are
light-footed and agile, and their country is full of hills and
swamps. The older men would do as good service here were
the castle besieged in our absence, of which, however, there is
but slight chance ; but for work against the Welsh they would
be of little use.”

Hotspur himself spoke to Oswald that evening.

“ere is a missive to give to Sir Edmund Mortimer. I
have commended you to him, telling him that, though young,
there is not one of my squires in whom I could more implicitly
trust, and that you had carried out a delicate mission for me
with rare discretion and courage. Your uncle, as an old
retainer and a good fighter and the captain of my garrison,
goes in command of the men-at-arms, and in regular fighting
one could need no better officer; but in such warfare as that
against the Welsh is like to be, yours will be the better head
to plan, and as my squire you will represent me ; I have spe-
cially commended you to him as one always to be depended
upon.”

“JT am greatly beholden to your lordship,” Oswald said,
“and will try to justify the commendations that you have
given me.”

At daybreak on the following morning the little party rode
out from the castle. Oswald with his uncle rode in front, the
former in the highest spirits, while the sturdy old soldier was
himself scarce less pleased at this change from the monotony
of life in garrison.

“ Years seem to have fallen off my shoulders, lad,” he said,
«and I feel as young as I did when I fought at Otterburn.”

“That was a bad business, uncle, and I trust that no such
misfortune as that will befall us this time.”
126 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“T hope not indeed, Oswald. It was a sore fight, and we
are scarce likely to have a pitched battle with these Welsh
carls. They fight not much in our fashion as I have heard,
but dash down from their hills and carry fire and sword
through a district, and are off again before.a force can be
gathered to strike a blow. Then there are marches to and
fro among their hills, but it is like chasing a will-o’-the-wisp,
and like enough just when you think you have got them
cooped up, and prepare to strike a heavy blow, they are a
hundred miles away plundering and ravaging on our side of
the frontier.. They are half-wild men, short in stature, and
no match for us when it comes to hand-to-hand fighting, but
broad in the shoulder, tireless, and active as our shaggy ponies,
and well-nigh as untamable. ’Tis fighting in which there is
little glory and many hard knocks to be obtained, but it is a
good school for war. It teaches a man to be ever watchful
and on his guard, prepared to meet sudden attacks, patient
under difficulties, and, what is harder, to be able to go without
eating or drinking for a long time, for they say that you
might as well expect to find corn and ale on the crest of the
Grampians as you would on the Welsh hills.”

«The prospect does n’t look very pleasant, uncle,” Oswald
laughed. “ However, their hills can scarcely be more barren
than ours, nor can they be quicker on the stroke than the
border raiders, and for such work we of the northern marches
have proved far more useful than the beefy men of the south.”

“No doubt, no doubt; and maybe that for that reason Sir
Edmund prayed Hotspur to send a detachment to his aid, for
he would know that we are accustomed to a country as rough
and to a foe as active as he has now to meet. I wonder what
has stirred up the Welsh now, knowing as they do that although
they may gain successes at first, it always ends in the harrying
of their lands and the burning of their castles and villages.
LUDLOW CASTLE 127

They have been quiet for some years. But they are always like
a swarm of bees; they will work quietly enough till they take
offence at something, then they will pour out in a fury, attack-
ing all they come across, and caring nothing about death, so
that they can but prick an enemy with their stings. Maybe
it is the report that the king is engaging in another Scotch war,
and they think that it is a good time to gather spoil from their
neighbours. They used to be mightily given to warring among
themselves, but of late I have heard but little of this.

“It is a hundred years now since they were really trouble-
some, and rose under Morgan ap Madoc, and Edward II.
had himself to reduce them to submission, and build strong
castles at Conway, Beaumaris, and other places. There have
been one or two partial risings since then, but nothing of much
consequence. It may well be that the present generation, who
have not themselves felt the power of English arms, may have
decided to make another stroke for independence, and if so,
it will need more than Mortimer’s force or that of the other
border barons to bring them to reason, and as for our little
detachment, it will be but a drop in the ocean. However, it
may be that this isa mere quarrel between Mortimer and some
of his neighbours. I have heard somewhat of the Welshman
Owen Glendower, who lives in those parts. He has a griev-
ance against Lord Grey of Ruthyn, who, as he says, unjustly
seized a small estate of his. I know that he petitioned Parlia-
ment for redress, but thaf his petition was lately refused.”

«*T is strange that such a man should have known enough of
English law to have made a petition to our Parliament.”

“Yes; but he isnocommon man. He went to England and
studied at our universities, and even lived in the inns of court,
and learned the laws of this country. Then, strangely enough,
he became an esquire in the household of King Richard, and
did good service to him, and when the court was broken up on
128 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Richard being dethroned, he went away to his estate in Wales.
Since then I have not heard of him, save as to this dispute
with Lord Grey and his petition to Parliament thereon; but
men who were at Richard’s court have told me that he was a
courteous gentleman of excellent parts and, it was said, of
much learning.”

“Such a man might be a formidable enemy,” Oswald said,
“and if he has been robbed by Lord Grey, he might well head
an insurrection to recover his estates from that noble.”

In the course of their ride they were joined by Roger, who
warmly thanked Alwyn for having selected him as one of his
band. ‘The other soldiers received him heartily, for the fight-
ing monk had been a familiar personage at Alnwick, and his
mighty strength and jovial disposition rendered him very
popular among the soldiers of the garrison. There had been
general satisfaction among them when it was known that he
had laid aside his monk’s gown and had become one of the
Percys’ men-at-arms, and there had been many expressions of
regret that he had been sent off, instead of forming one of the
garrison of Alnwick. Two or three of them addressed him as
usual as monk, but he said:

“ Look here, comrades, I have been a monk, and a bad one,
and the less said about it the better. J am no longer a monk,
but a man-at-arms, and as I am not proud of my doings asa
monk, I have given up the title as I have given up the garb.
Therefore I give fair notice that whosoever in future shall
address me as monk will feel the weight of my arm. My
name is Roger, and as Roger let me be called henceforth.”” So
saying, he fell into his place in the line, when the cavalcade
continued their way.

The journey was along one. Oswald had been well supplied
with funds, and seldom found difficulty in obtaining lodgings
for the party. The sight of an esquire with a small troop of
LUDLOW CASTLE 129

men-at-arms wearing the Percy cognisance excited no curiosity
as they rode south, but when they turned westward it was
otherwise, and at their halting-places Oswald and his uncle,
who dined apart from the others, were always questioned as
to their destination. But when it was known that they were
travelling to the castle of Mortimer, whose sister was the wife
of their lord, none were surprised, for rumours were already
current of troubles on the Welsh border; and when they
entered Shropshire they heard that Owen Glendower with a
considerable force had fallen suddenly upon the retainers of
Lord Grey de Ruthyn, had killed many, and had reocccupied
the estates of which he had been deprived by that nobleman.
On the fifteenth day after leaving Alnwick they arrived at
Ludlow Castle, of which Mortimer was the lord. Oswald was
at once conducted to the hall where the knight was sitting.

«“T am bearer of a message from Sir Henry Percy,” he said ;
“he has sent hither a party of twenty men-at-arms under the
command of the captain of his garrison at Alnwick.”

“‘T had hoped for more,” the knight said, taking the missive
and opening it; “but I can understand that now the king is
marching against Scotland Percy cannot spare troops to de-
spatch so long a distance. I trust that he and my sister, his
wife, and the earl are in good health?”

“TJ left them so, sir.”

The knight read Hotspur’s letter.

“« He speaks in terms of high commendation of you, young
sir,” he said as he laid the letter down on the table. “Such
commendation is rarely bestowed on one so young. I mar-
velled somewhat, when you entered, that Sir Henry Percy
should have sent so young a squire, but from what he says I
doubt not that his choice is a good one ; and indeed it is plain
that your muscles have had rare exercise, and that you can
stand fatigue and hardship better than many older men. It is

9
130 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

like that you will have your share, for the whole border seéms
to be unsettled. Vou have heard that this Glendower has
boldly attacked and driven out Lord Grey’s retainers from the
estates he had taken.

“As to the rights of that matter I have nought to say.
Lord Grey manages the affairs with the Welsh in his own
county of Denbighshire and along the north, and I keep their
eastern border, and I meddle not with his affairs nor he with
mine. I know that this Glendower is a supporter of King
Richard, of whom there are many tales current, some saying
that he escaped from Pomfret, and is still alive, though I doubt
not that the report that he died there is true. We know that
there is in Scotland a man whom it pleases Albany to put for-
ward as Richard, but this, methinks, is but a device to trouble
our king. Whether this Glendower believes in this man or
not I know not, but certain it is that he would embrace any
opportunity to prove his hostility to Henry, whom he professes
to regard as a usurper. Whether it is on account of his hold-
ing such opinions, and foolishly giving expression to them, that
Lord Grey thought fit to seize his estates I know not, nor in-
deed doI care. Now, however, that the man has taken up
arms, and by force has dispossessed Lord Grey, the matter
touches all of us who are responsible for the keeping of peace
in the Welsh marches.

«Were it only a quarrel between Lord Grey and this man,
it would matter but little, but from all I hear he exercises a
strange influence over his countrymen, who deem that he has
mysterious powers, and can call up spirits to aid him. For
myself, I have never known an instance where necromancy or
spirits have availed in any way against stout arms and good
armour, but such is not assuredly the opinion of the unlearned
either in this country or in Wales. But these mountaineers
are altogether without learning, and are full of superstitions.
LUDLOW CASTLE 1381

Even with us a man more learned than the commonalty is
deemed by them to dabble in the black art, and it may well be
that this reputation Glendower has obtained is altogether due
to the fact that he has much knowledge, whereas the people
have none. However that may be, there is no doubt that the
Welsh people are mostly ignorant, and that at the call of this
Glendower men from all parts are hastening to join his banner.
Even on this side of the border there are complaints that the
Welsh servants are leaving, not openly and after a due termi-
nation of service, but making off at night and without a word
of warning.

“ All this would seem to show that there is trouble on hand,
and it behoves us to be watchful, and to hold ourselves in
readiness lest at any time they should, as in the days of old,
cross the border, and carry fire and sword through Shropshire
and Hereford. The royal castles in Wales could doubtless
hold out against all attacks, but the garrisons would have to
remain pent up within their walls until succour reached them.
Fortunately most of them are situated near the sea, and could
be relieved without the troops having to march through places
where a heavily armed man can scarce make his way, and
where these active and half-clad Welshmen can harass them
night and day without ever giving them a chance of coming to
close quarters. A messenger from Lord Grey arrived here
yesterday. Indeed, since the attack on his retainers we have
been in constant communication. At first he made light of
the matter, and said that he should like to have the Welshman
hanging from the battlements of his castle, but during the last
week his messages have been less hopeful. Glendower had
disappeared from the neighbourhood altogether, leaving a sort
of proclamation to Lord Grey affixed to the door of his house,
saying that next time he heard of him no mercy would be
shown, and every man would be slain. He now says that
1382 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

rumours reach him of large gatherings and that there are bon-
fires nightly on the hill-tops. He doubts not that the troubles
will soon be suppressed, but admits that much blood may have
to be spilt ere it is done. I can bear testimony to the bon-
fires, for from the top of the keep a dozen can be seen any
night blazing among the hills.”

“ Of course, sir, your messenger, asking Lord Percy to send
a body of men-at-arms here, was despatched before Glendower’s
attack on Lord Grey?”

“Certainly ; but it is three months now since Parliament
refused Glendower’s appeal for justice against Lord Grey, and
rumours have been busy ever since. Some said that he was
travelling through the valleys, accompanied by some of the.
harpers, who have always taken a leading part in stirring up
the Welsh to insurrection. Some avow that he has retired to a
fortress, and was there weaving designs for the overthrow of
Lord Grey, and even of the whole of the English castles. Some
say that he claims to be a descendant of Llewellyn, and the
rightful king of Wales. There is some foundation for this, for
I have talked to some of the better class of Welsh, who have,
like Glendower, studied in our universities. The Welsh are,
above all things, fond of long pedigrees, and can trace, or
pretend to trace, the lineage of all their principal families up
to Noah; and some of them admit that there is some ground
for the claim Glendower is said to have made.

“Still, all these rumours make me feel uneasy. As we have
had many years of quiet here, it has not been necessary to
keep up more than a sufficient number of men-at-arms for the
defence of this castle. I might have increased the force, for
the people of these parts bear a deep animosity against the
Welsh, and dread them greatly, as they may well do from the
many wrongs and outrages they have suffered at their hands.
One reason why I have not taken on many men since the talk
LUDLOW CASTLE 133

of coming troubles began is that, close to the border as we are,
many have connections with the Welsh by business or marriage,
and these, if enrolled in the garrison, might serve as spies, and
give warning of any movement we might undertake. I had
hoped that Percy could have spared me a hundred good men-
at-arms. I would rather have had his men than others, because
they have been trained in border warfare by the constant
troubles in Scotland, and would, moreover, come to me with a
better heart than others, since Sir Henry’s wife is my sister,
and it is therefore almost a family quarrel upon which they
have entered.
_ Had I known, when I wrote, that the king was on his way
north, I should have taken steps to raise my strength else-
where, as of course Percy would have occasion to use every
lance he could muster. Lord Grey has sent off a messenger to
the king begging him to denounce this fellow as an outlaw,
and should he be troublesome, he himself may, after he has
done with the Scots, send hither a force, for although we may
hope, with the aid of the levies of the border counties, to
drive back the Welsh in whatever force they may come, ’t is
another thing to march into the mountains. The matter has
been tried again and again, and has always taxed the power of
England to the utmost.

“’T is of no use lamenting over spilt milk, but for my part
I regret that Parliament did not give a fair hearing to Glen-
dower’s complaint against Lord Grey. The refusal to do so
was a high-handed one. It has driven this man to desperation,
and has enlisted the sympathies. of all Welshmen who have
English neighbours; for they cannot but say among themselves,
‘If he is to be plundered and despoiled and his complaints
refused a hearing, what is to prevent our being similarly de-
spoiled? ’Tis surely better to take up the sword at once and
begin again the fight for our independence,’ As it is, it may
134 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

cost thousands of lives, immense efforts, and vast trouble before
things are placed on their former footing. Doubtless the cap-
tain of the men-at-arms you have brought is a good soldier,
since Percy says that he is captain of his garrison at Alnwick?”

“He bears a high reputation in Northumberland, Sir Ed-
mund. I may say that he is my uncle, and ’tis from his
recommendation that Lord Percy in the first place took me
into his household.”

“I will go down and speak with him,” the knight said. “I
gave orders, as soon as I heard who had arrived, that proper
entertainment should be given to all; yet it is but right that
I should myself go down to thank them for having come so far,
and to welcome their captain, whose experience will be of no
small use to my own men, who have never been engaged in
border war. Some have fought in France, but under conditions
so different that their experience will aid them but little, save,
indeed, if the Welsh grow so strong and so bold that they
venture to attack this castle.’

Percy’s men, when the knight descended, had indeed sat
down to supper with the retainers of the castle, while Alwyn
was being entertained by the captain of his men-at-arms. All
rose to their feet when Sir Edmund entered, but he waved
his hand to them to be seated.

“Finish your meal,” he said, “and afterwards if you will
muster in the court-yard I will inspect you and see what stout
Northumberland men Lord Percy. has sent me.” He then
went up to the top of the keep with Oswald, pointed out the
distant hills, and told him what valleys and villages lay among
them, and the direction in which such roads as there were ran.
By the time they had descended, Percy’s men were drawn up
in the court-yard.

“This is my uncle, Captain Alwyn F orster,” Oswald said,
“of whom Lord Percy has written to you.”
LUDLOW CASTLE 1385

“J am glad to see so stout a soldier here,” the knight said,
holding out his hand to Alwyn, “and I am grateful to Lord
Percy for sending, in answer to my request, one in whom he
has such perfect confidence: and I specially thank you for
having willingly relinquished so important a post, to head so
small a following.”

“T was glad to come, Sir Edmund, for I had rested so long
at Alnwick that I longed for some brisk action, and fell gladly
into my lord’s view when he requested me to come hither. I
can answer for my men, for they are all picked by myself from
among the stoutest of Sir Henry’s following.”

“That I can well believe,” the knight said, as he looked at
the twenty troopers. ‘Tall, strong men all, and as brave as
they are strong, I doubt not. I shall be glad to have so stout
a band to ride behind me if these Welshmen break out. You
are all accustomed to border warfare, but this differs a good
deal from that in Northumberland. While the northern forays
are mostly made by horsemen, it is rare that your Welshman
adventures himself on horseback. But they are as active as
your wild ponies, and as swift, and if the trouble increases they
will give you plenty to do. I learn from your lord’s letter that
you will be, as usual, under pay from him while you are with
me. I shall pay you as much more. ‘Tis meet that if you
render me service I should see that you are comfortable and
well contented.”

There was a murmur of satisfaction among the men, and
after recommending them to the care of the captain of the
garrison, and bidding Alwyn speak in the name of his men
fearlessly for anything that should be lacking, Sir Edmund
left the court-yard. The seneschal of the castle, Sir John
Wyncliffe, requested Oswald to follow him. He first showed
him the chamber in one of the turrets that he was to occupy,
and then took him down to the hall, where two other knights,
136 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

four esquires, and two or three pages were assembled in readi-
ness for the supper. Mortimer, with his wife and two daugh-
ters, presently came down and took his place at the head of
the table, at which the others sat down in order of their rank.
As a guest, Oswald was placed among the knights. Before
sitting down, Sir Edmund presented him to his wife and
daughters.

“ This is one of Sir Henry Percy’s esquires,” he said, “ and
can give you more news of Sir Percy’s wife, of whom, beyond
saying that she sends her greetings to you all, Hotspur tells us
nothing.”

“Have you been long a member of Sir Henry Percy’s
household?”

« But a year, my lady.”

“Hotspur speaks of him in very high terms, and says that
he has rendered him great services, and that he has the
highest confidence in him.”

“To what family do you belong, sir?” the dame asked.
“From my husband’s sister who was staying here some
months since, I learned much of your northern families.”

“T am the son of John Forster of Yardhope, who has the
reputation of being as hard a fighter as any on the border.
He is not a knight, though of fair estates; for, although Earl
Percy offered him knighthood for his services at the battle of
Otterburn, he said that he preferred remaining plain John
Forster, as his fathers had been before him. My mother was
a daughter of Sir Walter Gillespie, and my uncle is captain of
the garrison of Alnwick, and it was for his good-will towards
him and my father that Sir Henry appointed me one of his
esquires, thinking, moreover, that I might be more useful than
some, because I know every foot of the border, having rela-
tions on the Scottish side of it.”

They now sat down to supper. After it was over, Sir
LUDLOW CASTLE 137

Edmund took Oswald with him to his wife’s bower. ‘“‘ There,”
he said, “ you can talk at your ease, and tell us how my sister,
your mistress is, and the children.”

“Did you not say, Sir Edmund,” his wife asked, “that it
was the captain of his men-at-arms that Sir Hotspur sent
hither in command of the band?”

«That is so, dame.”

“Then surely he should have been at our table.”

“T asked him,” Sir Edmund replied, “ but he said that he
would rather, with my permission, lodge with John Baldry,
who is, like himself, a stout soldier, but who likes better his
own society than that of the high table. He said that except
upon rare and special occasions he always has been accus-
tomed to take his meals alone or with some comrades whom
he could take to his room. As this is also John Baldry’s
habit, he prayed me to allow him to accept his invitation to
share his room.”

“What he says about his habits is true, my lady. I can
well understand my uncle cares not for company where it
would not be seemly for him to raise his voice or to enter into
a hot argument on some point of arms.”

“ What were the services of which Sir Henry speaks?”

“Tt was a mission with which he charged me, and which
involved some danger.”

“By the way,’ Dame Mortimer said, “my sister-in-law
wrote to me some time since, telling us of a strange conflict
that was held between one of the squires and another who
had been newly appointed, and who on one of the mountain
ponies worsted his opponent, although the latter was much
older, and moreover clad in full armour and riding a heavy
war-horse. Was it you who were the victor on that occasion?”

“TI can scarce be said to have been the victor, my lady. It
was indeed hardly a combat. But I maintained that one ac-
138 BOTH SIDES. THE BORDER

customed to the exercises in use among our border men, and
mounted on one of our ponies accustomed to move with great
rapidity and to turn and twist at the slightest movement of
the rider’s knee, would be a match for a heavy-armed knight
in single combat, although a number would have no chance
against the charge of a handful of mailed knights, and Sir
Henry put it to the proof at once.”



CHAPTER IX

THE WELSH RISING

OR atime the garrison at the castle had but little to do.
Lord Grey had taken no steps to recover the estates from
which his retainers had been so unceremoniously ejected. He
had, indeed, marched a strong force through them, but the
Welsh had entirely withdrawn, and it would be necessary to
keep so large a force unemployed, were he to reoccupy the
land, that he abstained from taking any decisive action prior
to the return of the messenger whom he had despatched to
inform the king of the forcible measures that Glendower had
taken to recover the estate. It would have been no trifling
step to take to carry his arms into Wales, and so bring on a
fresh struggle after so many years of peace, and he would not
move in the matter until he had the royal authority.

Henry lost no time in replying. Glendower had been an
‘open supporter of Richard, and had retired from court rather
than own his successor as king. He had made his complaints
against Lord Grey before Parliament, and his appeal had been
rejected by an overwhelming majority. His attack upon Lord
Grey was therefore viewed in the light of an insult to the
THE WELSH RISING 189

royal power, and a fortnight after Oswald and his party
arrived at Sir Edmund’s a messenger arrived with a royal
order to all barons holding castles on the border to proclaim
Owen Glendower an outlaw, and to take all measures neces-
sary to capture him. Sir Edmund shook his head as he read
the proclamation, copies of which were to be fixed to the
castle gate and in other conspicuous places.

“Lord Grey has stirred up a fire that it will be difficult to
extinguish. It were as wise to kick over a hive of bees when
naked to the waist as to set Wales in a ferment again. Had
this proclamation been sent to me only, I would have taken it
upon myself to hold it over until I had myself made a journey
north to see the king, and to submit to him my views on the
subject, and to point out how dire might be the consequences
to the inhabitants of our marches, and how great would be the
effort required if Glendower should be supported by the whole
of his countrymen, as I believe he will be. However, as it has
been sent to all the keepers of the marches, this cannot be
done, and I shall at once send orders to the sheriffs of Shrop-
shire and Hereford to warn the militia that they may be called
out at any moment and must hold themselves in preparedness,
having every man his arms and accoutrements in good condi-
tion and fit for service according to the law. I shall also
issue orders to my own tenants to be ready to take up arms,
and to drive their herds away, and bring their wives and
families into the castle, as soon as the beacon fire is lighted
on the summit of the keep.”

This was said to Oswald, to whom Sir Edmund had taken
a strong liking, and to whom he spoke more freely than he
might have done to his own knights and officers, as being in
Earl Percy’s service and having no personal interest in the
matters in debate.

“You yourself have heard the tales that have been brought
140 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

in to me, showing how greatly the people have been stirred by
the belief in Glendower’s powers of necromancy ; how blue
flames have been seen to issue from every window and loop-
hole of his house; how red clouds of various strange shapes
hover over it, and mysterious sounds are heard throughout the
night. For myself, I believe not these tales, though I would
not take upon myself to say they are false, since everyone
knows that there are men who have dealings with the powers
of darkness; still, I should have myself to see these things
before I gave credence to them. That, however, makes no
difference in the matter; true or not, they seem to be believed
by the Welsh, and cannot but increase his power. Well, we
shall soon hear what reply he makes to the proclamation,
of which he will certainly hear within a few hours of its
posting.”

The answer, indeed, was not long in coming, for within a
week a copy of the reply sent by Glendower to the king ap-
peared side by side with every proclamation put up, none
knowing who were daring enough to affix them. In this,
Glendower no longer spoke of his grievance against Lord Grey,
but declared that with the will of the people he had assumed
the sovereignty of Wales, to which he was legally entitled by
his descent from her kings. He called upon every Welshman
in England to resort at once to his standard.

“The die is cast now,” Sir Edmund said, as he read the
paper affixed to the castle gate. ‘It is no longer a question
whether Glendower is wrongfully treated by Lord Grey, it is
a matter touching the safety of the realm and the honour of
our lord the king. There is, I have now learned, some founda-
tion for Owen’s claim to be the representative of the kings
of Wales, through his mother, Elinor. She was the eldest
daughter of Elinor the Red, who was daughter and heiress of
Catharine, one of the daughters of Llewellyn, the last Prince
THE WELSH RISING 141

of Wales. For aught I know there may be others who have
a better claim than he, but at least he has royal blood in his
veins. At present that matters little. He has usurped the
title of King of Wales, and is evidently a most ambitious and
dangerous fellow, and none can doubt that this scheme has
not just sprung from his brain, but has long been prepared,
and that his quarrel with Lord Grey has but hastened the out-
break.

“I shall myself ride to Ruthyn and consult with Lord Grey
as to the measures to be taken. It may be that our forces may
be sufficient to crush the movement ere it gains strength, though
I greatly doubt it. Still, it would be well that we should act in
concert. Sir John Burgon and Sir Philip Haverstone, do you
take half a dozen men-at-arms and ride through the country,
bidding all the tenants assemble here next Saturday in their
arms and harness that I myself may inspect them. You may
tell them that a third of their number must be in readiness to-
night, and must ride hither by morning. The others must, on
an alarm being given, gather in strong houses, selected by them-
selves as the most defensible in their district, with their wives
and families, so as to repel any attack the Welsh may make,
leaving behind them the boys and old men to drive off their
flocks and herds either towards the nearest castle, or to Here-
ford or Shrewsbury, as may be nearest to them.”

When the knights had left, messengers were sent out to all
the owners of castles in Radnor, Hereford, and Shropshire,
bidding them assemble in four days’ time at Ludlow. On the
day of the meeting nearly three hundred tenants and vassals
presented themselves. To them Sir Edmund, having first in-
spected them and their arms, explained the situation. Then
each man was asked how many he could bring into the field
in accordance with the terms of his holding, and it was found
the total amounted to nigh eight hundred men,
142 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“T know not when the affair is likely to begin, and will there-
fore call only for a quarter of your force. Send your sons and
unmarried men. At the end of a month they can return to
you, and ifneeds be you can send as many more in their places.
It may be that I shall not require these, but possibly every
man may have to come out; but you must bear in mind it is
not for the defence of this town and castle that men are
required, for the garrison and burghers can hold out against
any attack,.but to save your homesteads from destruction.”

The news had created a deep sensation. Although none of
those present had experienced the horrors of border warfare,
there was not one but had heard from their fathers tales of
burning, massacre, and wholesale destruction by the Welsh
forays. But so long a time had passed since the last serious
insurrection, that the news that Wales might shortly be in arms
again, came as a terrible blow to them. All agreed to send in
their proportion of men at once, and to see that the rest were
all ready to assemble immediately the summons came. The
next day some forty knights, owners of the castles thickly
scattered through the border counties, assembled in Ludlow
Castle. There was a long consultation; arrangements were
made for the despatch of messengers by those nearest to the
frontier with news of any Welsh raid ; points were fixed upon
where each should assemble with what force he could gather,
thence to march to any threatened place, or to assemble at
Ludlow Castle, Mortimer being the warden of the marches
along that line of the border.

On the following day Sir Edmund rode with two of his
knights to hold council with Lord Grey at Ruthyn. The
distance was considerable, and he was absent six days from his
castle. Before he returned, an event happened that showed
Glendower was in earnest, and intended to maintain his pre-
tensions by the sword. At daybreak, on the third day after
THE WELSH RISING 143

Mortimer had left, a messenger arrived at the castle with
news that a large body of Welsh had, the evening before,
entered Radnor by the road across the hills from Llanidloes,
and were marching towards Knighton, burning the villages as
they went, and slaying all who fell into their hands. The
horn was at once sounded, and Sir John Wyncliffe and the
other knights hastily assembled in the court-yard. Here, after
a short consultation, it was determined that a mounted party
should be at once despatched to endeavour to harass the
advance of the Welsh, the troop consisting of Alwyn’s men-
at-arms, twenty men of the garrison, and fifty mounted men
who formed part of the new levy. Four hundred foot-
men were to follow at once. Sir John Wyncliffe at first
thought of taking the command himself, but it was pointed
out to him that his presence would be required in Ludlow to
marshal the forces that would speedily arrive from all the
country round. Sir John Burgon, therefore, a valiant knight,
who had greatly distinguished himself against the French, was
unanimously chosen by his companions as leader of the whole
party, while with him rode Sir Philip Haverstone and Sir
William Bastow,

“This reminds one of one’s doings at home, Oswald,’ his
uncle said, as he formed up his little troop. “I trust the
Welsh will not retreat until we have had a taste of their
quality ; but I doubt much if they will prove as formidable
foes as the Scotch borderers.”

For a considerable portion of the distance the roads led
through forests, which at that time covered the greater part
of the country. Oswald, at the invitation of the knights, rode
with them at the head ofthe cavalcade. The way was beguiled
by anecdotes, that had been passed down from mouth to mouth,
of the last Welsh war. They reached Knighton by nine
o’clock. The enemy had not as yet come within sight of the
144 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

town, but throughout the night the sky to the west had been
red with the flames of the burning villages and homesteads.
The male inhabitants were all under arms; many had already
sent their wives and children in waggons towards Ludlow, but
as the town had a strong wall the men were determined upon
making a stout defence.

They crowded round the newly arrived troops with loud
cheers, which were raised again and again when they heard
that by mid-day four hundred footmen would arrive to their
assistance. It had been arranged that Sir Philip Haverstone
should remain in the town to take charge of the defence, and
that the mounted men should, under Sir John Burgon, en-
deavour to check the Welsh plundering parties in the open.
Sir William Bastow was to remain to assist Haverstone in the
defence of the town. There was no great fear of this falling,
as before the day was out four or five thousand men would be
assembled at Ludlow, and would be able to march to its re-
lief. These matters being arranged, Sir John Burgon led his
little troop out of the town.

The accounts of the Welsh forces were very conflicting, but
the balance of opinion was that there were not less than four
or five thousand of them. Beyond the fact that they were
skirting the hills and advancing towards Knighton the terrified
fugitives could say nothing save of their own experiences. It
was evident, however, that the Welsh force was not keeping
together, but after crossing the border had broken up and
scattered over the country, burning and slaying. Some of the
bands had approached to within five miles of the town, and
they might not improbably come in contact with fresh bands
of the enemy crossing the hills near the source of the Severn.
As soon as they had sallied from the castle and left the town
behind them Sir John halted his party.

“Now, men,” he said, “there is one thing that you should
THE WELSH RISING 145

remember — these Welshmen are not to be despised. Doubt-
less you will be able to ride over them, but do not think that
when you have done so you have defeated them. They will
throw themselves down on the ground, leap up as you pass
over them, stab your horses from below, seize your legs and
try to drag you from your saddles, leap up on to the crupper
behind you, and stab you to the heart. This is what makes
them so dangerous a foe to horsemen, and at Crecy they did
terrible execution among the French chivalry; therefore be
careful and wary. Spit all you see on the ground with your
lances, and hold your swords ever in readiness to strike them
down as they rise up beside you. Keep in as close order as
you can, for thus you will make it more difficult for them to
rise from the ground as you pass over.”

He then formed his troop into two lines. In the centre of
the front line he placed the twenty men-at-arms from the
castle, with fifteen of the tenants on either hand. Oswald’s
troop formed the centre of the second line, with ten of the
tenants on either flank. Another of the knights was in com-
mand in this line. They were to ride some fifty paces behind
the first, to cut down all who rose to their feet after the first
line had passed; and if the resistance were strong, and the
first line brought to a stand, they were to ride up and rein-
force them. They had ridden some three miles when they
saw a column of smoke rise half a mile away. The pace was
quickened, and they had gone but a short distance when some
panic-stricken men came running down the road.

“How many Welshmen have attacked your village?” Sir
John asked.

“Hundreds of them, Sir Knight,” one of the men panted
out, “at least, so it seemed to me; but indeed we were this
side of the village when they rushed into it, and, seeing that

nought could be done to resist them, we fled at once.”
10
146 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

When within three hundred yards of the village they entered
open ground, and at once formed up in the order the knight
had directed. Oswald took his place by the side of his uncle,
a couple of lengths in advance of their own troop. Scarce a
word was spoken in the ranks. Here and there dead bodies
were scattered over the ground, showing that the pursuit of
the fugitives had been maintained thus far. From the village
the wild shouts of the triumphant Welsh sounded plainly, but
mingled with these came occasionally a cry of pain, that seemed
to show that either the work of slaughter was not yet com-
pleted, or that some of the villagers still held one of the houses,
and were defending themselves until the last.

Every face was set and stern. The tenants knew that at
any moment similar scenes might be enacted in their own
villages ; while the men-at-arms were eager to get at the foe
and take vengeance for the murders they had perpetrated.

“ Be sure you keep your ranks,” Sir John said; “remember
that any who straggle may be attacked by a score of these
wild men, and slain before others can come to their help.
Ride forward in perfect silence till we are within striking
distance.”

At a gallop the troop swept down upon the village. As they
reached the first houses they saw that the road was full of wild
figures. Some were emerging from the houses laden with such
spoil as could be gathered there, chiefly garments ; others with
torches were setting fire to the thatched roofs; while in the
middle of the village a number were attacking a house some-
what larger and more massively built than the rest. Sir John
raised his sword with the shout of “A Mortimer ! a Mortimer !”
The shout was re-echoed by his followers, and a moment later
they dashed into the midst of the Welsh. At first they swept
all before them; but speedily the mountaineers, running out
from the houses, gathered thickly on each side of the road,
THE WELSH RISING 147

and as the first line passed, closed in behind it, and running
even more swiftly than the charging horses, strove to leap up
behind.

Some struck at the horses with their swords, hamstringing
several of them, and slaying their riders as they fell.

“ Ride, ride!” the knight in command of the second line
shouted, and at even greater speed than before his followers
rode hotly forward, and came ere long on the straggling mass,
for the first line were now endeavouring to turn so as to face
their assailants. With a great shout the second line fell upon
them, the war-cries of “ A Percy! a Percy!” being mingled with
those of “A Mortimer!” Their approach had been unnoticed
by the Welsh, and their onslaught was irresistible. The Welsh
were hurled to the ground by the impetus of the charge, and
the two lines joined hands.

“ Forward again!” Sir John shouted, and the troop dashing
forward were soon hotly engaged with the enemy, who were
in strong force at the point where they were attacking the
house. The orders of their commander were now impossible
to follow. It wasa fierce mélée, where each fought for himself.

“Face round!’ Oswald shouted. “Now, men, lay about
you. A Percy! a Percy!”

The active little horses swung round instantly and faced the
crowd surging up against them. This was the style of fighting
to which the border men were accustomed. Active as the
Welsh were, the border ponies were as quick in their move-
ments, wheeling and turning hither and thither, but keeping
ever within a short distance of each other. ‘The troopers
_ héwed down the foe with their heavy swords, and being partly
protected by their armour they possessed a great advantage
over their opponents. Oswald and his uncle fought slightly in
advance of the others, lending a helping hand to each other
when the pressure was greatest. On one occasion a Welshman
148 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

seized Alwyn’s leg while he was engaged with a foeman on the
other side, and strove to throw him from his horse.

Oswald wheeled his pony, and with a sweeping blow rid his
uncle of his foe; but at the same moment a man leapt up
behind him, while two others assailed him in front. The
Welshman’s sinewy arms prevented him from again raising his
sword, and he would have been slain by those in front had he
not at the moment slipped his right foot from his stirrup and
thrown himself from his horse, his leg sweeping off the man
who held him behind, and hurled him to the ground beneath
him. The Welshman’s grasp instantly relaxed, but as Oswald
tried to rise, a blow fell upon his helmet, and four Welshmen
threw themselves upon him. He threw his arms around two
of them and rolled over and over with them, thereby frus-
trating the efforts of their companions to strike or ‘stab him
through some unguarded point in his armour, when suddenly
there was a mighty shout, two tremendous blows were struck
in quick succession, then there was a shout, “Hold them still,
Master Oswald, hold them still!”

Oswald tightened his grasp on his assailants, who were now
striving to rise. There was another crashing blow, and then
his last opponent slipped from his grasp and fled.

“Thanks, Roger,” he said, as he leapt to his feet, “you
were but just in time; another minute and those fellows
would have got their knives into me.”

“JT have had my eye upon you, master, all the time, and
while doing a little on my own account have kept myself in
readiness to come to your aid if need be.”

Roger was fighting with a heavy mace, and the number of
men lying round with their skulls crushed in showed with
what terrible effect he had been using it. Oswald again leapt
on to his horse, which had been too well trained to leave his
master’s side, and had indeed in no small degree aided him,


OSWALD THREW HIS ARMS ROUND TWO OF THEM.
THE WELSH RISING 149

by kicking furiously at the Welsh as they strove to aid their
comrades on the ground. By this time the combat was well-
nigh over. ‘he protection afforded by Alwyn’s band against
any attack on their rear had enabled Sir John’s men-at-arms
and the tenants to clear the street in front of them; but the
Welsh, though unable to hold their own in open fight, had
now betaken themselves to their bows and arrows, and from
behind every house shot fast.

The door of the house that had still resisted had been
thrown open, and eight men had come out followed by some
twenty women and children.

“Do each of you leap up behind one of us!” Sir John
shouted. ‘Help the women up, men, then right-about and
ride out of the village. It is getting too hot for us here.”

The order was quickly obeyed, and placing the horses carry-
ing a double burden in the centre, the troop rode out in a
compact body. The Welsh poured out into the road behind
them.

“Level your spears!” Alwyn shouted to his men, who had
by his orders fallen in, in the rear of the others. The long
spears were levelled and with a shout the twenty men rode
down on their pursuers, bursting their way through them as if
- they had been but a crowd of lay figures; then, wheeling, they
returned again, none venturing to try to hinder them, and
rejoined the main body.

‘“Well done, indeed!” Sir John Burgon exclaimed, “ and
in knightly fashion. Verily those long border spears of yours
are right good weapons when so stoutly used.”

Once outside the village the troop rode quietly on to the
spot at which they had first charged, then the villagers
dismounted.

“You made a stout defence, men,” Sir John said. “ It was
well that you had time to gain that house.”
150 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Tt was agreed that all should take to it, Sir Knight,” one
of the men said; “but the attack was so sudden that only we
and these women had time to reach it before they were on us,
and had it not been for your arrival they must soon have
mastered us, for they were bringing up a tree to burst in the
door; and as none of us had time to catch up our bows and
arrows. we had no way of hindering them. Still, methinks
many would have fallen before they forced their way in.”

‘The men now fell in again. Their numbers were counted.
The losses were by far the heaviest in the front line. Five of
the castle men-at-arms and fourteen of the levy were killed,
several others had gashes from the long knives and light axes
of the Welsh. Five of the tenants in the second line had
fallen, but none of Alwyn’s band, although most of the latter
had received wounds more or less serious in their combat with
the Welsh.

“The loss is heavy,” Sir John said, “but it is as nought to
that inflicted upon the Welsh. I did not count them as we
rode back, but assuredly over a hundred have fallen, not count-
ing those who were slain in that last charge of yours, Alwyn;
truly your men have fought gallantly, as was shown by the pile
of dead where your men-at-arms defended our rear. The
Welsh will be moving ere long. Half the village is already
burning, and you may be sure that there is nothing left to
sack in the other houses. If they come this way we must fall
back, for in the forest we shall be no match for them. If they
move across the open country we may get an opportunity of
charging them again.”

He told two of his men to dismount and to crawl cautiously
along, one on each side of the burning village, and to bring
back news the moment the Welsh began to leave it. In
twenty minutes both returned saying that the enemy were
streaming out at the other end of the village laden with
THE WELSH RISING 151

plunder of all kinds. There seemed to be no order or disci-
pline among them, each trooping along at his pleasure.

“Good!” the knight said; “we will give them another
lesson, and this time on more favourable terms than the last.”

The troops formed into column and galloped at a canter
through the burning village. At the other end they came
upon a number of stragglers who were at once killed. Then
they emerged into the fields beyond and formed line. The
plain was dotted with men, the nearest but a hundred yards
away, the farthest nearly half a mile. In a single line the
horsemen swept along. The rearmost Welshmen turned
round at the tramp of the horses, and at once, throwing to
the ground the bundles that they carried, took to their heels
with shouts of warning. As these were heard the alarm spread
among the rest, who, believing that their foes had ridden away
through the forest, were taken completely by surprise.

A panic seized them; leaders in vain shouted orders, their
voices were unheard among the cries of the men. Some, in-
deed, gathered together as they ran; but the greater portion
fled in various directions, to escape the line of spears venge-
fully following them. Those unable to avoid the charge stood
at bay like wild animals. First shooting their arrows, they
drew their short axes or their knives as the horsemen came
within a short distance of them. Few had a chance of striking,
most of them falling pierced through and through by the
spears. Those who by swiftness of eye escaped this fate
sprung at the horses like wild-cats, clinging to the saddles,
while they strove to bury their knives in the riders’ bodies.

Their back-pieces now served the troopers in good stead, as
did their superior personal strength. Some beat their assail-
ants down on to the pommel of their saddles and throttled or
stabbed them, while in many cases where they were hard
pressed the sword of a comrade rid them from their foes. So
152 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

the line held on its way until they reached the head of the
body of fugitives, then in obedience to the shout of Sir John
Burgon they turned, broke up into small bodies and scoured
the plain, cutting down the flying foe, and did not draw bridle
until what remained of the enemy had gained the shelter of
the wood. Then, at the sound of their leader’s trumpet they
gathered around him in the centre of the plain. Two or three
had fallen from the Welsh arrows, and not a few had received
ugly slashes: from their knives, but with these exceptions all
had come scathless through the fray. At least two hundred
dead Welshmen were scattered on the plain.

« You have done your work well, men,” Sir John said, “and
taught them a lesson that they will not forget. Now, let us
ride back to Knighton and see how matters go there.”

On arriving at the little town they found that all was quiet
and that no bodies of Welsh had approached the town. The
party of horse were again sent out in various directions, the
smoke serving them as a guide; the villages were found to
be entirely deserted, but pushing farther on many fugitives
came out from hiding-places. Their reports were all of the
same character. The Welsh were in full retreat for their own
country. By the time the troops returned with the news to
Knighton, the footmen from Ludlow had marched in and were
being entertained by the inhabitants, who, now that the danger
had passed, had returned.

“Retired, have they, Sir John?” his two fellow-knights
said, as he arrived with his following. “It was but a raid for
plunder then, and not an invasion. Doubtless Glendower
merely wished to warm their blood, and to engage them so
far in his enterprise that they could no longer draw back.
They must have carried off some hundreds of cattle and sheep,
to say nothing of other plunder, and had it not been for our
having the news soon enough to get here before they retired,
THE WELSH RISING 153

they would have got off scathless. As it is, they have learned
that even a well-planned foray cannot be carried out with im-
punity, but the loss of three hundred lives will not affect them
greatly, when it is clear that they have murdered twice that
number as well as enriched themselves with plunder.”

«T think not that we shall hear of them again,” Sir John
said. “Glendower has shown us without doubt what are his
intentions, and he may now wait to see what comes of last
night’s work. I expect that he will keep among the hills,
where he can fight to better advantage, for horsemen are of
little use where there are mountains and forests.”

After a consultation between the knights it was agreed that
two hundred of the footmen were to remain for two or three
days at Knighton in case the retreat of the Welsh might be a
feigned one, intended to lull the inhabitants into a state of
security and then to make a sudden night attack upon the
walls. The whole force remained until the next morning, and
then, leaving Sir Philip Haverstone in command of the party
remaining at Knighton, the rest, horse and foot, marched back
to Ludlow.

“Your band have indeed distinguished themselves, Oswald,”
Sir John had said on the previous evening as they talked on
the events of the day. “Truly they are as stout men as I
have ever seen fighting. And you have escaped without a
wound, though I marked that your armour and clothes were
covered with mire, as if you had been rolling in the road.”

“That is just what I have been doing, Sir John. One of
them leaped on to the horse behind me and pinioned my arms,
while two or three others made at me with axes and staves.
The clasp of the fellow was like an iron band, and, seeing that
my only chance was to rid myself of him, I slung my leg over
my horse, and we came down together, he undermost. Whether
the fall killed him or not I cannot say, but his arms relaxed ;
154 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

half a dozen sprang on me, and in another minute I should
have been killed had not that big trooper of mine come to my
aid, and with a mighty mace dashed out their brains well-nigh
before they knew that they were attacked.”

“ A stout fellow indeed,” Sir John said, “and one I should
like to have to ride behind me on the day of battle. I had
marked him before, and thought that I had never seen a more
stalwart knave, though methinks that he would look better did
he not crop his hair so wondrously short.”

Oswald laughed. “He does it not to beautify himself, Sir
John, but to hide the fact that the hair on his crown is but of
six weeks’ growth,”

And then he related the circumstances under which ‘Roger
came to be a member of his troop.

«By my faith, he has done well!” Sir John said ; “a man
with such sinews as that is lost in a cloister. He is a merry
fellow too. I have often marked him at the castle, and his
laugh is a veritable roar that would sound strange echoing
along the galleries of a monastery. The abbot did well to let
him go, for such a fellow might well disturb the peace and
quiet of a whole convent. You say that he has skill in
war?”

“ Yes, Sir John. He has been the instructor in arms of the
lay brothers, and of some of the monks too, and he led the
contingent of the abbey at Otterburn; and although the day
went against the English he and his followers greatly distin-
guished themselves.”

“If you would part with him I would better his condition,
Master Oswald, for on my recommendation Sir Edmund would,
I am sure, make him captain of a company.” |

“J should be sorry indeed to part with him, Sir John, and
the more so since he has saved my life to-day; but even were
I willing I feel sure he would not leave me, as we have gone
THE WELSH RISING 155

through some adventures together, and he believes that it is to
me that he owes his escape from the convent.”

‘“* What were these adventures, Oswald?”

“Tt was a matter touching the Earl of March —not Sir
Edmund’s nephew, now in the care of the king, but the Scot-
tish earl, George, Earl of Dunbar, also bearing the title of Earl
of March.. Now that he has taken the oath to King Henry
there is no reason why I should not speak of it.’ And he
then gave them an account of his visit to Dunbar and of his
escape.

“ And why did the earl wish to keep you?”

“Maybe, sir, that he had not then made up his mind, and
thought that affairs might yet have been accommodated be-
tween himself, Douglas, and the Scottish king.”

“ Perhaps that was so,” Sir John agreed; “he is a crafty as
well as a bold man. However, you were well out of Dunbar,
and you and your monk managed the affair well. Think you
that the earl is to be trusted?”

“T should say so. These great Scottish nobles deem them-
selves well-nigh the king’s equal, and carry on their wars
against each other as independent lords. His castle of Dunbar
is in the hands of his bitterest enemy, and Douglas will come
into no small portion of his estates. Without the aid of
England he could not hope to recover them, and _ his interests
therefore are wholly bound up with ours.”

“Tis strange that there should be two Earls of March of
different families and names, and now that Dunbar has become
a vassal of the king it will make the matter stranger. How-
ever, at present no mistakes can arise, seeing that the one is
an able warrior and the other a mere boy. But in the future,
were the two Earls of March at the same time at the court of
our king, mistakes might well be made and strange complica-
tions take place.
156 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“ Doubtless you are aware that Sir Edmund’s nephew is by
right of birth King of England. He was, you know, sprung
from the Duke of Clarence, the elder brother of the Duke of
Lancaster. The duke died without male issue, and his rights
fell to Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, the husband of his
daughter Philippa. From their marriage was born the Roger
Mortimer who was lord-lieutenant of Ireland during a part of
King Richard’s reign, and was killed in the wars of that country.
He left two sons, of whom the elder was but eight or nine
years old when Richard was dethroned, and he and his brother
are now living at Windsor, and are well treated there by the
king. Had my lord’s nephew attained the age of manhood at
the deposition of Richard, many would doubtless have sup-
ported his right to the throne, but for a child of eight to rule
this realm and keep in check the turbulence of the great lords
would be so absurd that no one even mentioned his name,
and Henry of course ascended the throne as if by right of
conquest.”

“JT have heard something of this before, Sir John, but as
the Percys were among the chief supporters of Henry the fact
that there was one who had greater rights to the throne was
never talked of at Alnwick, although by Percy’s marriage with
Sir Edmund’s sister he became uncle of the young Earl of
March.”

“J can understand that, and indeed Sir Edmund himself
has never in the most intimate conversation with us expressed
any opinion that the young earl would, if he had his rights,
be King of England.”
A BREACH OF DUTY 157

CHAPTER X
A BREACH OF DUTY

WO or three hours after the return of the force to Ludlow

Sir Edmund Mortimer returned, having ridden almost

without a halt since he received the news of the Welsh incur-
sion. His knights met him in the court-yard.

“Well, my friends, I hear you have sent the Welsh back
again as fast as they came.”

“We cannot say that, Sir Edmund,” Sir John Wiynclife
replied. ‘Sir John Burgon went out with ninety horse, and,
coming upon a party of five or six hundred of them, killed
half their number and put the rest to flight, but their main
body left of their own free-will and without any urging. ’T is
a pity that they were so hurried, for in another twenty-four
hours we should have had some four thousand men on the
march against them, besides those who first went on.”

“* Have they done much damage?”

“ There is scarce a house left standing between the hills on
this side of Llanidloes and Knighton. From what we can
gather they must have slain three or four hundred at least.
At first the total was put much higher, but as soon as they
retired many fugitives made their way into Knighton, having
slipped away in the darkness when their villages were attacked,
and concealed themselves in the woods or among the rocks.”

«There has been fighting up in the north too,” Sir Edmund
said. “When I got to Ruthyn I found that Lord Grey was
away, but I talked over matters with his knights. I was to
have left on the morning of the fifth day alter leaving here,
but at night Glendower’s men raided almost up to the gates of
158 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

the castle. Their plans were well laid, for just at midnight an
alarm was given by a sentry on the walls. Everyone ran to
arms the instant the warder’s horn was sounded, but when I
reached the top of the walls fires were bursting out in twenty
places. It was not long before the knights rode out with a
hundred and fifty men-at-arms, but the Welsh were already
gone. It seems that they had laid an ambuscade round every
village, and on the signal being given, fell at once upon the
sleeping inhabitants, put all to the sword, fired the houses,
and in ten minutes from the first alarm made off, driving
horses, cattle, and sheep before them. I was with the party,
and we rode hard and fast, but we came up with none of them.
Each party must have gone its own way, striking off into the
hills, As soon as we returned to the castle I started with my
four men-at-arms, and we have lost no time on the road,
especially after the rumour reached us that there had been a
Welsh raid here also. Now, Sir John Burgon, will you give
me an account of the doings of your party?”

The knight reported their proceedings after leaving Ludlow,
and concluded :

“Tt is like that the story would not have so run, Sir Edmund,
had it not been for the bravery shown by the northern men
under the young squire Oswald and his captain, Alwyn. So
furiously did the Welsh assail us in rear that we should have
suffered heavily, indeed, even if we had not met with a grave
disaster, had it not been that this band covered our rear while
we charged forward, fighting so stoutly that the spot where they
posted themselves was thickly covered with dead. I found
time to look round now and then, for they made but a poor
resistance to our advance. Never did I see stronger fighting.
I have questioned the men. All say that none fought more
bravely than young Oswald, and his uncle gives him warm praise.
The lad, however, would have lost his life had it not been for
A BREACH OF DUTY 159

that stout fellow who stands half a head above his comrades,
and is avery giant in strength. Oswald himself told me how
it came about,” and he repeated the account of the incident.

“Tt wasa quick thought to throw himself and the fellow who
held him off the horse, though it would not have availed him
much had not this stout man-at-arms been at hand. Still, in
no case could he have defended himself single-handed against
five of these knaves, though doubtless he would have given a
good account of some of them had not his arms been held.
Alwyn said that three times during the fray the young esquire
saved his life by cutting down men who were attacking him
from behind while he was occupied by other opponents in
front.”

“He will make a valiant knight some day, Sir John. Sir
Henry Percy would not have written so strongly about him
had he not good reason for feeling that he would not do dis-
credit to his recommendation. Well, Sir Knights, you have
all merited my thanks for the manner in which you have dis-
charged your duties during my absence. Of course you were
perfectly right, Wyncliffe, in remaining here until, at any rate,
the knights brought in their following from the country round.
It was important to save Knighton, but vastly more so to pre-
vent their overspreading the whole country, which might, for
aught we can tell, have been Glendower's object; and it is
as well that Haverstone and Bastow should have remained at
Knighton. Now, as I have not broken my fast, and have
ridden since midnight without a stop, I will breakfast, and
we can then talk over the plans to be pursued, for there is no
disguising the fact that the Welsh are up in arms, and that we
have long and heavy work before us.

“ However, it is a matter too serious for us to undertake by
ourselves, but is for the king himself to take in hand. A raid
can be punished by a counter-raid ; but now that Glendower
160 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

has declared himself sovereign of Wales, and that everything
points to the fact that the men of his nation are all ready to
support him, it is a matter that touches his majesty very
closely, and I doubt not that as soon as he has finished this
war with the Scots he will march hither at the head of his
army. However, I shall send out a summons to the tenants
of all my nephew’s estates in Herefordshire, and order them to
hold themselves in readiness should Glendower venture to in-
vade us; but I think not that he will do so. He knows that
these counties bristle with castles in which the people could
find refuge, and that if he undertook to besiege them he would
speedily lose the best part of his army.
“ None of his people have experience of war, and to besiege

a strong place needs machines of all kinds, and of these Glen-
dower has none, nor is it likely that he can construct them.
Besides, while marching out he would be exposed to an attack
by the garrisons of these castles sallying out in his rear. There-
fore I think not that he will be foolish enough to undertake
any great enterprises, though he may make raids and carry off
booty and cattle as he has now done. Moreover, I cannot
keep the vassals in the field longer than their feudal obliga-
tions compel them to stay, unless I pay and feed them, which
might be done readily enough for two or three months; but
the war may last for years, and I must reserve my means and
strength till they are urgently needed. Lord Grey will doubt-
less be of my opinion, but is sure to do what he can to capture
Glendower, as he will consider him not only as an enemy of
the king but as a personal foe. However, powerful as he is, I
think not that he will venture alone to lead an army into the
Welsh hills until he receives assistance from the king.”

- Two days later news came that the king, as soon as he heard
of Glendowe1’s proclamation, had sent orders to Lord Grey
and Lord Talbot to punish him.
A BREACH OF DUTY 161

“They will reach Chester two days hence,” Sir Edmund
said. “After the raid they made here, I would gladly take
some small share in punishing this rebel. You, Sir John
Burgon, have had a full share of honour by your defeat of
him the other day; therefore I will send Sir William Bastow.
Do you, Sir William, take thirty of the best mounted men of
the garrison, together with Lord Percy’s troop, and ride to
Chester. I will give you a letter to Lord Talbot, saying that,
being anxious to aid in the punishment of the rebel who has
just raided my marches, I have sent you in all haste, with fifty
stout men, to aid him in striking a blow, and, if possible, in
effecting Glendower’s capture before he can do further harm
to the king’s loyal subjects.”

Half an hour later the troop mounted. Oswald was in high
spirits, for Sir Edmund had spoken a few words to him, when
telling him of the service to which he had appointed him.

“JT am sending your troop with Sir William Bastow,” he said,
“chiefly in order that I may give you another opportunity of
distinguishing yourself, and also because I am sure that Percy
would be glad that his men should take part in an enterprise
in which there may be honour and credit. Lastly, because I
would that my party should do me credit, and the fighting the
other day showed me that your followers better understand
warfare of this kind than do mine.”

The troop arrived at Chester the second day after leaving,
and rested their horses for twenty-four hours. On the arrival
of the Earl of Talbot and Lord Grey, Sir William Bastow called
at the inn where they put up and delivered the letter from
Sir Edmund Mortimer.

“Tis well done of Sir Edmund,” the Earl of Talbot said ;
“and although Ruthyn lies beyond his government of the
marches, he is defending his own command by aiding Lord
Grey and myself against this presumptuous traitor. I will

II
162 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

gladly take your clump of spears with me, among whom are, I
see, a small party of Lord Percy’s men-at-arms. I hear that
Sir Edmund’s men inflicted a sharp blow upon the Welsh near
Knighton. I met his messenger bearing his report to the king,
as we came along, and he gave me the particulars, from which
it seems that the fight was for a time a hard one, and that the
Welshmen fought, as they used to do, with much bravery.”

“They did, my lord. I was not with the party that defeated
them, having been left at Knighton to aid in the defence there
should the Welsh attack the town; but Sir John Burgon, who
commanded, said that in the village they fought as if they
cared not for their lives, though they made scarce any defence
when he fell upon them as they retired in disorder. The
success he gained he attributes in no small degree to Percy’s
little troop, led by their captain, a stout soldier who commands
the garrison of Alnwick, and by a young squire of Sir Henry
Percy, who, though but a lad, fought with extreme bravery.
He is with me now. Sir Henry places great trust in him,
and wrote most warmly concerning him to Sir Edmund.
Mortimer.”

“We are just going to supper, sir,” the earl said; “I hope
that you will join us. And I pray you tell me where this
young squire is lodging, that I may send for him at once, as I
would fain learn from his lips some closer account of the fight-
ing, which may be of utility to us in our adventure.”

Oswald arrived just as supper was brought in, and was intro-
duced to the earl and Lord Grey by Sir William Bastow.

«Sit down with us, young sir,” the earl said kindly. “You
are an esquire, I hear, of my good friend Sir Henry Percy.
As you eat, I pray you tell me about this fight with the Welsh.
Sir Edmund himself was not in command, I hear.”

“No, my lord, he was away at the time, having ridden to
Ruthyn to hold council with Lord Grey.”
A BREACH OF DUTY 163

« Ah! I had not heard that he had been there,” Earl Grey
said.

“He arrived the day before the Welsh raid on your estate,
sir. Finding that you were absent, he intended to return
home the next morning; but the matter delayed him fora
day, as he rode out with your knights to punish the ma-
rauders, who, however, made off before they could be
overtaken.”

“When you see him, I pray you give him my thanks for so
doing ; and now tell us what happened.”

“ Sir William Bastow can better inform you, sir, of what
took place until we rode away from Knighton, where he
remained with Sir Philip Haverstone to take command of the
townspeople in case the Welsh should arrive before strong aid
should come.”

Sir William then related the measures that had been decided
upon and the steps taken to call out the levies, and how he
and his brother knights had ridden to Knighton with the
intent to hinder as far as possible the Welsh advance, until the
footmen could reach the town, to be followed shortly after-
wards by the troops that would come in from the castles of
Radnor. Oswald then continued the story, and gave an
account of the fight in the village, and the manner in which
the Welsh were attacked while retiring with their booty, and
completely routed.

~« Their tactics have in nowise changed, then,” the earl said,
“since the days of Griffith and Llewellyn. Against a direct
charge they were unable to stand, but they attacked with fury
whenever there was an opportunity of fighting under cir-
cumstances when our weight and discipline gave us little
advantage. I hear from Sir William Bastow that your little
band covered the rear of Sir John Burgon’s troop, and suc-
ceeded in keeping them at bay until he had broken the resist-
164 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

ance in front, and carried off a small party of villagers who
were still defending themselves.”

“That was so, my lord. Our men were all accustomed to
border warfare, and had for the most part, before entering
Percy’s service, been often engaged in border forays, and had
taken to soldiering after their own homes had been burnt and
their cattle driven off by Scottish raiders. Therefore they were
accustomed to fight each for himself, instead of in close order.
Their horses, too, bred on the moors, are far more active and
nimble than are the heavier horses of the south, and enter
heart and soul into a fray, kicking and plunging and striking
with their fore-legs at any who approached to assail their riders.
Thus. it was that they were able to hold the Welsh carles at
bay far better than men otherwise trained and mounted would
have been. Another thing is, that in these Border conflicts
each man is accustomed to keep his eye on his neighbour, and,
if he sees him hard pressed, to give him aid. Therefore it is
not surprising that, while the men slew many of the Welsh,
they themselves escaped with but a few cuts from blows and
hatchets.”

“But you yourself were unhorsed, Sir William tells me, and
were in great peril. How did that come about?” -

“ Both my unhorsing, sir, and my rescue were the result of
what I just said, our habit of keeping an eye on our neigh-
bours. A Welshman was on the point of attacking Captain
Alwyn when he was engaged with two others in front; I struck
the man down, but as I did so a Welshman sprang on to my
horse behind and pinned my arms to my side, while four
others rushed at me.”

He then related how he had thrown himself and: his assail-
ant off his horse, and had been saved by Roger.

“Tt was a good device, and quickly carried into effect,” Earl
Talbot said, “though it was well that the man-at-arms next to
A BREACH OF DUTY 165

you was watching you, just as you had watched. his captain,
else it must have gone hard with you. It is evident that if you
continue as you have begun you will turn out a right valiant
knight. Your narrative is useful, and I see that when we fall
in with the Welsh it will be necessary to have a picked body
of men-at-arms, whose duty shall be to cover the rear of the
main attack, for it seems that this is the real point of danger.
Should we come into conflict with them, I will assign to you a
body of men-at-arms, who with Percy’s men shall, under your
command, fulfil that duty. This would at once be of signal
benefit to us, and will give you another opportunity of distin-
guishing yourself, and winning your spurs when the time
comes.”

“T thank you greatly, my lord, and trust that I may so bear
myself as to merit your approbation.”

The next morning the force mounted at daybreak. It con-
sisted of two hundred horse that the earl had brought with
him, and which was to be joined at Chirk by a hundred and
fifty of Lord Grey’s men from Ruthyn, orders having been
already sent on for them to hold themselves in readiness.
This was to be done quietly and without stir, as word would be
sure to be sent to Glendower were it to be known in the town
that preparations had been made for an expedition. They
were to start from the castle at ten o’clock at night, when the
town would be wrapped in sleep, and would arrive at Chirk
before daybreak.

On arriving at the castle it was found that the troops from
Ruthyn had duly come in. They were received by the senes-
chal of William Beauchamp, Lord of Abergavenny. Chirk
Castle had passed through many hands, having been several
times granted to royal favourites, being a fine building, stand-
ing on a lofty eminence, which afforded a view of no less than
seventeen counties, It was square and massive, with five
166 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

flanking towers, and its vast strength was calculated to defy
the utmost efforts of the Welsh to capture it. It was but a
short distance thence to the valley of the Dee, in which was
the estate of Glendower, extending for some eight miles north
into what is now the neighbourhood of Llangollen.

As one of the detachments had arrived before daybreak, and
the other two hours after dark, it was improbable that their
advent had been noticed, and at the request of the knight who
commanded the troop from Ruthyn the gates of the castle had
been kept closed all day, no one being allowed to enter or
leave. At daybreak the next morning the whole force sallied
out. Three-quarters of an hour later they dashed down into
the valley at a point about half a mile distant from Glendower’s
dwelling. This was a very large and stately building. Near it
stood a guest-house and a church, and all the appurtenances
of a man of high rank. It was called Sycharth. Here Glen-
dower maintained an almost princely hospitality, for in addition
to this estate he possessed others in South Wales. ,

More especially bards were welcomed here; some resided
for months, others, who simply paused on their rambles through
the country, remained but for a few days; but all were received
with marked honour by Glendower, who was well aware of the
important services that they could render him. Indeed it was
on them that he relied to no small extent to arouse the feelings
of the populace, and his hospitality was well repaid by the
songs they sung in hall and cottage in his praise, and by their
prophecies that he was destined to restore the ancient glories
of the country. The house was surrounded by a moat and
wall, but had otherwise no defensive works, as for a hundred
years the English and Welsh had dwelt peaceably side by side ;
many of the castles were indeed held by Welshmen, and there
were few garrisons but had a considerable proportion of Welsh
in their ranks.
A BREACH OF DUTY 167

It was singular that Glendower should, after his defiance of
the king, and the raids that had lately been made, have con-
tinued to dwell in a spot so open to attack, and within striking
distance of the three great castles of Ruthyn, Chirk, and Holt.
Certain it is that he kept no garrison that would suffice to offer
a stout defence against a strong band, although the precaution
was taken of keeping a watchman night and day in one of the
turrets. The sound of his horn was heard by the horsemen as
soon as they began to descend the hill.

“A pest on the knave!” Lord Grey exclaimed. “ He will
slip through our fingers yet.”

It was scarce a minute later when a mounted man was seen
to dash out at full speed from the other side of the building.
He was evidently well mounted, and although the pursuit was
hotly kept up for two miles, he gained the forest while they
were still a quarter of a mile behind him, and was lost to view,
for although they beat the wood for some distance they could
find no traces of him. When passing by the house a detach-
ment of a hundred men were ordered to surround it, and to
suffer none to enter or leave it. On the return of the pursuing
party the house was entered, and ransacked from end to end.
The male retainers found in it were ruthlessly killed; the fur-
niture, which showed at once the good taste and wealth of the
owner, was smashed into pieces, the hangings torn down, and
the whole place dismantled. Only two female attendants were
found, and these were suffered by Earl Talbot’s orders to go
free.

“This is evidently the ladies’ bower when they happen
to be here,” Lord Grey said, as an hour later he entered a
room in one of the turrets which had been already plundered
by the soldiers. “’T is a pity that we did not find one or two
of Glendower’s daughters here ; they would have been invalu-
able as hostages. We were too hasty, Talbot. We should
168 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

have closely questioned some of the men or those two women,
and should have found means to learn whether they were stay-
ing here. It may be that it was so, and that they are even
now concealed in some secret hiding-place hard by.”

He at once called up several of his men, and set them to
search every room in the turret for some sign of an entrance
to a secret chamber; but although the walls were all tapped,
and the floors examined stone by stone, no clue was found to
such an entrance if it existed. The house, which was built
entirely of stone, offered no facilities for destroying it by fire.
The doors were all hewn down, the gates in the wall taken off
their hinges and thrown into the moat, being too massive to
be destroyed by the arms of the soldiers. The outlying
buildings were all burned down, the vineyard rooted up, and
the water turned out of the fish-pond. Then, greatly vexed at
their failure to seize Glendower himself, the two nobles rode
“back to Chirk, leaving a hundred men, of whom the band
from Ludlow formed part, under two of Earl Talbot’s knights,
to retain possession of the house until it should be decided
whether it should be levelled stone by stone, or left stand-
ing to go with the estate to whomsoever the king might
assign it.

By Lord Grey’s advice, sentries were posted outside the
walls from nightfall till daybreak, to prevent any risk of sur-
prise by Glendower, whose spies might take him word that the
main body of the assailants had left. One of the great halls
had been left untouched to serve for the use of the garrison,
and as an abundance of victuals were found in the house and
the cellar was well stocked with wines, it was but a short time
before the garrison made themselves thoroughly comfortable.
As soon as it became dark twenty men were placed on watch.
Oswald with his party were to take the third watch at midnight,
and Mortimer’s men-at-arms the second. The captain of each
A BREACH OF DUTY 169

band was to place the men at such points as he might select.
Alwyn talked the matter over with his nephew.

“Tt seems to me,” the former said, “that there is but a
small chance of anyone trying to leave the castle, and at any
rate if they did so it would scarcely be over the wall, for a
splash in the moat would at once betray them. Moreover, I
love not killing in cold blood, and should any poor fellows be
stowed away somewhere, I should be willing enough to let
them go free.”’

“T agree with you altogether, Alwyn,” Oswald, who had
not heard the talk between Grey and Talbot concerning Glen-
dower’s daughters, replied heartily. “I would have gladly
saved the men who were killed to-day. It is one thing to
slay in battle, but to slaughter unresisting men goes altogether
against my grain.”

“Then as we are agreed on that, Oswald, I should say that
we had best place the greater portion of our men well away
from the wall. We can leave two at the gate, and set two
others to march round and round the moat. I should say we
had best plant the others in pairs a quarter of a mile round
the house. It is vastly more important to prevent Glendower
from recapturing his house by surprise than it is to take
prisoners two or three fellows making their escape.”

“T agree with you, Alwyn.”

Accordingly when they filed out from the gate four were
posted as Alwyn had suggested; the rest were disposed in
pairs in a circle at a distance round the house.”

“J will keep watch with Roger,” Oswald said. “’T is some
time since I have had an opportunity for a talk with him. I
will take the next post if you like. The wood comes closer
to the house there than at any other point, and there are
patches, behind which an enemy might creep up. My eyes
and ears are both good; and as for Roger, if he lifts. that
170 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

mighty voice of his in tones of alarm it will reach the ears of
all the others, and be the signal for them to run back to the
gate at the top of their speed.”

“Very well, Oswald. I shall walk round the ground and
see that all are vigilant. We know not where Glendower’s
men were lying ; it may hap they were twenty miles away, but
even so he would have had plenty of time to have brought
them up by now. I don’t think there is much chance of any
of our men being surprised, most of them having in their time
been so used to midnight rides across moor and hill, and so
accustomed to see in the dark, that, crafty as the Welshmen
may be, I do not think there is a chance of their getting within
a hundred yards of any of our posts without being seen, espe-
cially as the moon is still half full.’

“Do you think that there is any chance of our being dis-
turbed, Master Oswald?” Roger said, as they took up their
post under a low, stunted tree.

“T do not think so. If Glendower’s spies have told him
that the main body of those who surprised him this morning
have returned to Chirk, he may be sure that enough have been
left to hold the place successfully against him and his wild fol-
lowers till’assistance can reach us; and he would have nothing
to gain by recapturing his house, for he could not hold it long
against the force assembled at Chirk. Besides, he must know ~
well enough that if he is to fight successfully it must be in the
woods. Whether he has studied the black art or no, there is
little doubt that he has turned his attention greatly to military
matters, and that he is a foe who is not to be despised. He is
playing a deep game, and will give us a deal of trouble, unless
I am greatly mistaken, before we have done with him.”

“J hear all sorts of strange stories of his powers, Master
Oswald.”

“Yes; but you see, Roger, the spirits who, as they say,
A BREACH OF DUTY 171

serve him, cannot be of much use, or they would have warned
him of the coming of Talbot, and we should not have taken
him unawares this morning.”

«That is true enough,” Roger said in a tone of relief. “ For
my part I am not greatly alarmed at spirits. The good abbot
used to threaten me that I should be carried off by them unless
I mended my ways, but I always slept soundly enough, and
never saw aught to frighten me. They used to say that the
spirits of some of the dead monks used to walk in the convent
garden, but though my cell looked down upon it, and I have
often stood there by the hour, never did I see anything to
frighten me. If the Welsh do come, what are we to do,
master? — fight them?”

“By no means, Roger. Our duty is to watch and not to
fight. You must lift up your voice and shout as loud as you
can, and then we must run to the gate. There we can make a
fight till the rest join us. But, whatever you do, do not shout
until I tell you. A false alarm would raise the whole garri-
son, and, if nought came of it, would make us a laughing-
stock.”

While they were talking, both were keeping a close look-out
on the ground in front of them, and also to the right and left,
for the watches were two hundred yards apart, and they had
to make sure that no party of the enemy slipped unseen be-
tween them. Suddenly Roger plucked Oswald’s sleeve, and
said in a whisper:

“Unless my eyes deceive me, master, I saw two dark figures
flit from that clump of bushes some forty yards away to those
next to them. ‘There they go again!”

“TJ see them, Roger. It may be that they are spies who
have crept up close. Let us give chase to them.”

«Shall I shout, master?”

“No, no. This is not an attack. Stoop as low as you can,
172 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

or if they look back they will see that great figure of yours and
be off like hares. Run as softly as you can.”

Stooping low they set off at a run, and being certain that
the figures were making straight for the forest, they did not
pause to get another glimpse of them, but ran straight on.
‘They had gone some seventy or eighty yards when they heard
a stifled exclamation, and then, without further attempt at
concealment, two figures rose from a bush twenty yards ahead
and fled for the forest. There was no more occasion for stoop-
ing, and at the top of their speed Oswald and Roger pursued
the fugitives. These ran fast, but Oswald, who had outpaced
his heavier companion, came up to them when within fifty
yards of the edge of the forest, and, passing them, drew his
sword and faced them.

_ “Surrender,” he said, “or I will cut you down.”

Instead of the fierce spring that he had anticipated, the two
figures stopped suddenly, exchanged a word in Welsh, and then
dropped their cloaks. To Oswald’s astonishment two young
women stood before-him. They evidently belonged to the
upper class. Both were richly dressed ; they wore heavy gold
chains round their necks, and bracelets of the same metal set,
as Oswald noticed by the reflection of the moon, with jewels.
They had also brooches, and their girdles were held in with
massive gold clasps.

By this time Roger had come up and stood staring with
astonishment.

“Take these, good fellows,” the girl said in English, as she
began to unfasten her necklace. Take these and let us gO;
they will make you rich.”

“J am an esquire of Sir Henry Percy,” Oswald said, “and I
rob not women. By your appearance I should judge you to
be daughters of Glendower.”

“It would be useless to deny it,” one of the Bie said
proudly.
TO OSWALD’S ASTONISHMENT TWO YOUNG WOMEN STOOD
BEFORE HIM.


A BREACH OF DUTY 173

“Why do you come spying here?” Oswald said. « Surely
among your father’s warriors others better suited for such
work might have been found.”

“We were not spying,” the girl replied. “We have lain
hidden all day, and were but making our escape.”

“ How can that be, madam? We had a guard all round the
castle, and know that none can have escaped.”

“ Being an esquire, you are a gentleman, sir, and will not
disclose what I am about to tell you; though, indeed, now that
our father’s. house is in your hands, it boots not much whether
the secret is known. There is a secret passage from the
castle that opens into these bushes, and it was through that
that we issued out, having been in hiding all day in the secret
chamber from which it leads. Well, sir, we are your prisoners,
and shall, I suppose, be sent to London, there to be held until
our father is in the usurper’s hands, which will not be, believe
me, for years yet.”

Oswald was silent. The two girls, some seventeen or
eighteen years of age, both possessed singular beauty they
had inherited from their father, and bore themselves with an
air of fearlessness that won his admiration. He was still but a
lad ; and thinking of the years these fair girls might pass in a
prison, he felt a deep pity for them. He drew Roger aside.

“What think you, Roger, must we send these fair young
girls to prison?”

- “Tn faith, I know not, master. Having been shut up many
a time in a cell, I have a sort of fellow-feeling for prisoners ;
and indeed two fairer maidens I have never seen. Our orders
were to look after Welshmen, and see that they did. not
attack us; no word was.said of Welsh women. And besides,
they were running away, and not thinking of attacking us.”

“That is all very well, Roger, but I cannot deceive myself,
There is no doubt that it is our duty to take these two
174 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

maidens prisoners, but my heart aches at the thought that
they might pass years of their lives in a prison. They are not
responsible for their father’s misdeeds and ambition, and it
may be that, if they are restored, Glendower may be induced
to treat those who fall into his hands mercifully. None but
ourselves know of this, and no one need ever know. I will
risk it anyhow,” he said after a short pause 3 “I know that
I am not doing my duty in letting them go, and that were
it ever known, I should lose all chance of further advance-
ment, if indeed I did not lose my life. However, it need never
be known, and my conscience would sorely trouble me whenever
I thought of them shut up in one of King Henry’s prisons.”

He turned to the girls again.

“Think you, ladies,” he asked, “ that were you in the king’s
hands your father would make terms and submit himself?”

“Certainly not,” the one who had spoken before said.
“He has other children—sons and daughters — and he
would not dream of abandoning his rights and betraying his
country to obtain the liberty of two of us.”

“In that case, then, your imprisonment would in no degree
stop this war or bring about a renewal of peace between the
two countries? ”

“ Certainly not; and as for us, we would strangle ourselves
in prison did we think that any thought of us would turn our
father from his noble purpose.”

“Then én that case,” Oswald said quietly, “it is clear that
your captivity would do nought to bring about peace or to
allay the troubles that have now begun. Therefore I will take
on me to let you go, though in so doing I may be failing some-
what in my duty. Only promise me, that in the future you
will use what influence you may possess with your father to
obtain kind treatment for prisoners who may fall into his
hands.”
A BREACH OF DUTY 175

The expression of haughty defiance that they had hitherto
worn faded from the girls’ faces.

“We shall never forget your kindness, sir,” one said in a
low voice. “We thank you with all our hearts, not so much
for our own sake as for our father’s. He has been cruelly ill-
used, he has much to trouble him, and although I know that our
captivity would not turn him from his purpose, it could not
but greatly grieve and trouble him, and he has already troubles
enough on his shoulders. Will you accept one of these jewels
as a token only of our gratitude for your kindness shown this
night to us?”

“Thanks, lady, but no gift will I take. Iam failing in my
duty, but at least it shall not be said that I received aught for
doing so.”

“Then at least —”’ the girl began, turning to Roger.

“ No, lady,” the man-at-arms said. “I am neither knight
nor esquire, but a simple soldier, but I take no presents for
saving two maidens from capture and captivity. I have been
a monk all my life, though now a man-at-arms. Never before
have I had an opportunity of doing aught of kindness for a
woman, and I am glad that the chance has fallen in my way.”

“May I ask the name of one who has done us such kind-
ness?’ the girl said, turning to Oswald.

“Tt were best not, lady. It is a service that might cost’me
my head were it to be bruited about. "Tis best, then, that
even you should not know it. I doubt not that you would
preserve the secret; but you would perhaps mention it to
your father, and it were best that it were known to none.”

The girls were silent for a minute.

“Sir,” the elder said, after exchanging a word or two with
her sister, “we would ask a boon of you. The successes in a
war are not always on one side. My sister and J will think
often of one who has so greatly befriended us, and were you
176 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

by any.accident of war to fall into the Welsh hands, and
should evil befall you, it would be a deep grief to us. We
pray you then, sir, to accept this little gold necklet. Its value
is small indeed, but it was given to me when a child by my
father. My name and his are engraved on the clasp. Should
you at any time of stress send this to my father, right sure am
I that on recognising it he would treat as dear friends those
who have done so much for his daughters. I pray you to
accept it, and to wear it always round your neck or wrist, and
if it should never prove useful to you it will at least recall us
to your thoughts.”

“‘T cannot be so churlish, lady, as to refuse your token so
offered ; and though I hope that it will not be needful to use it
as you say — for indeed, I expect to return very shortly to my
lord in Northumberland — it will be a pleasant remembrance
of the service that a good fortune has enabled me to render to
two fair maidens. Be assured that I shall ever keep your
necklet for the sake of the givers. And now, farewell! We
must be back at our post, for the captain of the guard will be
going his round, and we might be missed.”

“We shall never forget you, sir. May the blessing of God
fall on you for your kind deed !”

“ May all good fortune attend you!” Oswald answered ; and

then with Roger he made his way back to his post, while the —

girls hurried on and entered the forest.
col

BAD NEWS 17

CHAPTER XI
BAD NEWS

G4 HIS has been a strange adventure, Roger.”

“A very strange one, master. Lord Grey would tear
his hair if he knew that those two pretty birds had been
hiding in the cage all day and he never knew it. However, I
see not that it can do us harm; nay, more, there is a proba--
bility that it may even benefit us, for if it should happen by
ill-fortune we should ever fall into the hands of the Welsh,
and they should abstain from cutting our throats then and
there, perchance these young ladies would repay the service
we have rendered them by taking us under their protection.”

«Tt may be so, indeed, Roger, though I hope that I shall
never hear more of to-night’s adventure. We may reason as
we will, but there is no doubt that although we had no instruc-
tions touching the capture of women we have failed in our
duty.”

“That will in no way trouble me, Master Oswald. When I
was a monk I failed in my duty scores of times, and am no
whit the worse for it, rather the better indeed, since it is
owing to my failures that I am now a free man-at-arms, in-
stead of being mewed up for life in a convent. I shall not
sleep one wink less for having saved two of the prettiest girls
I ever saw from having been shut up for years in a prison.”

“TJ am afraid your sense of duty is not strong, Roger.”

“T am afraid not, master, saving in the matter of doing my
duty in face of an enemy.”

“You mean, Roger, that you will do your duty when it so

pleases you, and not otherwise.”
12
178 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“T expect that is the way with a good many of us,” Roger
laughed. “I wonder whether Lord Grey had any idea that
Glendower’s daughters were in the house when we arrived
there?”

“T know not, but I remember now that they had men
searching for some time for signs of secret passages, — whether
it was from any idea that Glendower’s daughters might be
hidden away I know not.”

“Truly it might have been,” Roger said, “ for I saw among
the spoil that was carried off, when the others rode for Chirk,
some silks and stuffs that looked like feminine garments.
There is somebody coming across from the next post,” he
broke off. “Doubtless it is the captain. You would not tell
him what we have done?”

“Certainly not, Roger. My uncle is an old soldier, and
though he would not for my sake say anything about it, I
think not that he would approve of what has been done. Tis
best, at any rate, to keep it entirely to ourselves.”

“All quiet here as elsewhere?” Alwyn asked as he came up.

“ All quiet, uncle.”

“Tis well; for, although methinks that we could hold the
place against the Welshmen, we could hardly hope that some
of our posts would not be cut off before they could reach the
house. It is well to keep watch, but the more I think of it
the more I feel that Glendower will scarce attack us. He
could not hold the place did he gain it, and it might well be
that after we were turned out again the place would be de-
stroyed, seeing that it would need two or three hundred men
to be shut up herein garrison.”

After waiting half an hour Alwyn again made. the round of
the posts, and then went in to rouse the party that were to
relieve them. As soon as these issued out the sentries were
called in, and stretched themselves for three hours’ sleep.

°
BAD NEWS 179

Before day dawned a messenger rode in from Chirk, bearing
Earl Talbot’s orders for the eyacuation of the house, as there
could be no advantage in retaining it, and were it empty
Glendower might return there and afford them another oppor-
tunity for capturing him. On the following day the party
broke up. Lord Grey rode with his men to Ruthyn, and the
forty men-at-arms from Ludlow returned to that town, where
a few days later the news arrived that Glendower with a large
following had established himself on the rugged height of
Corwen, and was engaged in strengthening the ancient for-
tifications on its summit.

For a time there was quiet on the border, and then came
the startling news that Glendower had suddenly surprised,
plundered, and burnt to the ground the town of Ruthyn,
where a fair was being held at the time. Then, having ob-
tained great booty and greatly injured his enemy, Lord Grey,
he again retired. It was evident that no local force of suffi-
cient strength could be found to pursue Glendower into his
fastnesses on the ranges of Berwyn and Snowdon, and noth-
ing was done until, three months later, the king, on his return
from Scotland, marched into Wales with the levies of War-
wickshire, Leicestershire, and eight other adjacent counties,
while orders were issued to the people of Shrewsbury and
other towns.on the eastern border to hold themselves in readi-
ness to repel any movement of the Welsh in that direction.

The king, however, accomplished nothing. Glendower with
his following took refuge among the forests of Snowdon, and
the English army marched along the north coast, putting to
the sword a few bands of peasantry who ventured to oppose
them, crossed to the Isle of Anglesey, and entering the Fran-
ciscan monastery of Llanfaes slew some of the monks and
carried the rest to England, and established a community of
English monks in the convent. This was done because the
180 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Franciscans had been supporters of the late king, and were
believed to have given aid and encouragement to Glendower.
The Welsh expedition was therefore no more successful than
the Scotch had been.

For a time matters settled down. Glendower was occupied
in strengthening his position. So much had his reputation
spread that large numbers of Welshmen who had settled in
England now sold their property, gave up their positions and
abandoned their careers, and made their way across the border
to join him. Still, for some months no operations were under-
taken on either side, and a week after the return of the king
and his forces Sir Edmund Mortimer said to Oswald :

“T will no longer keep you and your following from your
lord’s side. I have largely strengthened my garrison, and
twenty men, however valiant, are no longer of importance.
As you know, I should not have asked Percy to aid me had I
not thought that perchance he might have come himself, bring-
ing with him two or three hundred men, and that my sister
might have accompanied him. Maybe, if matters go on quietly
on the northern marches, he may be able to do so yet; but I
fear that the Scotch will take advantage of the troubles here,
and may, for aught I know, have entered into communication
with Glendower so that they may together harass the kingdom.
I have written several times to him telling him what good
service you and his men have rendered, and that I would I
had five hundred such good fighters with me, in which case I
would undertake single-handed to bring this fellow to reason.

“JT have written a letter which I will hand you to deliver,
saying that, as at present things are quiet and Glendower is in
hiding among the mountains, I have sent you back to him, not
without the hope that, should greater events take place, he
himself will come hither for a while to give me the benefit of
his knowledge of border warfare, even if he comes accom-
BAD NEWS 181

panied only by my sister and a dozen spears. I may tell you
that some two months since he wrote saying that he should be
glad to have you and the captain of his garrison of Alnwick
back again, and I then wrote to him saying that while the
king was in Wales I would hold you, seeing that Glendower
might make a great foray here while the king was hunting for
him in the north, but that as soon as he left with his army |
would send you home.”

Alwyn and the men were all well pleased when they heard
that they were to return, for since the raid on Glendower’s
house their life had been a dull one, to which even the fact
that they were receiving pay from Sir Edmund as well as from
Percy was insufficient to reconcile them, and it was with light
hearts that they started on the following morning for the
north, arriving at Alnwick ten days after leaving. Sir Hotspur
came down into the court-yard as they rode into the castle.

“Welcome back, Oswald, and you, my trusty Alwyn! I
thank you all, my men, for the manner in which you have
borne yourselves, and that you have shown the men of the
west how stoutly we Northumbrians can hold our own in the
day of battle. I am glad indeed to find that all that went
have returned home, some bearing scars indeed, but none dis-
abled. Iwill instruct your captain to grant all of you a month’s
leave to pay a visit to your families. You must sup with us
to-night, Alwyn, and give us a full account of your doings, and
also your frank opinion as to the state of things in the west,
and the probability of long trouble with this strange Welshman
who has so boldly taken up arms and defied the strength
of England.”

It was nearly a year since the party had left Alnwick, and
Oswald had in that time greatly increased in height and
strength. He was now eighteen, and as he was nearly six feet
in height, and his figure had filled out greatly since he had
182 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

left his home, he might well have passed as three or four years
older than his real age. That evening Alwyn gave a full
account of their fray with the Welsh.

“ These men fight stoutly, Alwyn,” Percy said, when he had
concluded his story.

“Right stoutly, Sir Henry, and were their discipline equal
to their bravery they would be formidable opponents indeed ;
but as it is, they are quite unable to stand against men-at-arms
in a set battle. In this respect they are by no means equal to
the Scotch, but for surprises or irregular fighting I could wish
to see no better men.”

“Jt is an unfortunate affair,” Percy said. “It seemed that
we had finished with Wales at Llewellyn’s death, and that the
two nations had become one. In London and many other
places they were settled among us. Numbers of them studied
at our universities, and in Shropshire, Radnor, Flint, and other
border counties I have heard that most of the labouring men
were Welsh and have come to speak our language, and indeed
they form no small portion of the garrisons of the castles ; so
much so that I fear that should the Welsh really ravage the
border counties ’t is like that not a few of the castles will fall
into their hands by the treachery of their fellow-countrymen
in the garrisons. Sir Edmund speaks very highly of you,
Oswald, not only for your behaviour in the fight, which was
reported to him by Sir James Burgon, a knight well fitted to
judge in such matters, but as an inmate of his castle. He
said that, from your conversation, he has conceived a high
opinion of you. At present things are somewhat quiet here,
and it were well that you should, like your uncle, take a
holiday for a time and visit your father and mother. They
have sent over several times for news of you.”

The next morning Oswald mounted and rode off, attended
by Roger, who had asked Oswald to take him with him, as
BAD NEWS 1838

he had no relations he cared to visit. Alwyn was going for a
few days only, and indeed would probably have declined to
take a holiday at all had not Oswald earnestly begged him to
go with him.

“?Tis two years since you have been there,’’ Oswald said.

“That is so, Oswald, but I have often been longer without
seeing my brother; and, in truth, of late I have had so little
to do, with but twenty men to look after, that I long for reg-
ular work and drill again. Still, it were best that I went with
you. There are turbulent times on hand, both on this border,
in Wales, and maybe in France. I may get myself killed, and
your father’s house may be harried again by the Bairds, and
he may not succeed in getting off scathless as he did last time,
and I should blame myself afterwards if I had not seen him
and shaken his hand when I had an opportunity such as the
present.”

Oswald had seen so much during the two years that had
passed since he first left the hold, that, as he rode towards it,
it seemed strange that everything should be going on as if it
was but the day before that he had ridden away — the only
difference being that the hold looked strangely small and of
little account after the many strong castles he had seen. As
soon as they reached the moor within sight of the hold a
horseman was seen to leave it, and ride at a gallop towards
them.

- “That is ever the way,” Oswald said; “we like to know,
when a visitor is seen, whether he comes as friend or foe.””

As the moss-trooper rode up and was about to put the cus-
tomary question, he recognised Oswald, and wheeling his pony
without a word dashed off at full gallop, waving his spear and
shouting as he approached the hold. They rode at a canter
after him, and as they reached the entrance his father and
mother appeared at the door at the top of the steps. The
184 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

latter ran down the steps, and as Oswald leapt from his horse,
threw her arms around his neck.

“Thank God you are back again, my boy!” she cried;
“though as yet I can hardly believe that this tall fellow is my
Oswald. But otherwise you are in no way changed.”

“T think, mother, that you are looking bétter than when I
saw you last.”

“T am well, dear,” she said. “We have had a quiet year,
and no cause for anxiety, and things have gone well with us;
and it has been pleasant indeed for us to have received such
good news of your doings, and to know that you stood so well
with Hotspur.” -

Oswald now ran up the steps to greet his father, who was
already talking with Alwyn, who had slipped off his horse and
run to speak to his brother while Oswald was occupied with
his mother.

“ Well, lad,” John Forster said, laying his hand upon his
shoulder and looking him up and down, “you have grown
well-nigh into manhood. I always said that you would over-
top me, and though methinks that I have still three inches
of advantage, you have yet time to grow up to look down
on me. Well, you have done credit to us, boy, and your
monkish reading and writing has not harmed you, as I was
afraid it would. Alwyn tells me that no man of Percy’s troop
did better than you in that fight with the Welsh, save, may-
hap, that big man-at-arms down there, who, he tells me,
cracked the skulls of four Welshmen who were trying to stab
you, besides those he disposed of on his own account.”

“T owe him my life, indeed, father. He is a man after
your own heart, strong and brave and hearty, even jovial
when occasion offers. He can troll out a border lay with the
best, and can yet read and write as well as an abbot. His
name is Roger.”
BAD NEWS 185

“ Come up, Roger,” John Forster shouted, “and give me a
grip of your hand. You have saved my son’s life, as he tells
me, and so long as you live there will be a nook by the fire
here and a hearty welcome when you are tired of soldiering.
In truth, you are a mighty man,” he went on, after he and
Roger had exchanged a grip that would have well-nigh broken
the bones of an ordinary man. “I have been looked upon as
one able to strike as hard a blow as any on the border, but
assuredly you would strike a heavier one. Why, man, you
must be five or six inches bigger round the chest than I
am.”

“You have been an active man from your youth,” Roger
replied, “ever on horseback and about, while I spent years
with nought to do but eat and drink and build up my frame
in a monastery.”

“ Oswald told us in his letters that you had been a monk,
but had, with the consent of the abbot, unfrocked yourself.”

“Tt was so,” Roger replied with a laugh. “ Methinks that
it was a happy day for the abbot as well as for myself when
I laid aside my gown, for I fear that I gave him more trouble
than all the rest of his convent. Besides, it was as if a wolf’s
cub had been brought up among a litter of ladies’ lap-dogs — it
was sure to be an ill time for both.”

“And for how long are you at home with us, brother
Alwyn?” John Forster asked presently.

“Tam here for a week only, John; but Oswald has leave
for a month, seeing that at present there is no great charice
of Hotspur needing his services. The Scotch are quiet since
the king returned, I hear.”

“Ay, they are as quiet as is their nature to be, but ’tis not
likely to last long. I went not with the army, but I hear
that Henry behaved so gently that the Scotch feel that it
would be almost an act of ingratitude to meddle with us for
186 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

atime. However, that will not last long; next spring they
will doubtless be storming down over the hills again.”

The holiday passed delightfully to Oswald. Roger enjoyed
it even more. It was so long since the latter had been per-
mitted the freedom of riding at will over mountain and moor
that he was like a schoolboy enjoying an altogether unwonted
holiday. He and Oswald scoured the country, sometimes re-
turning late in the afternoon, but often staying for the night
at the houses of one or other of Oswald’s friends. Once they
crossed the border, and rode to the Armstrongs’, where they
stopped for a couple of days, bringing Allan and Janet back
with them; for Roxburgh was still held by the English, and
unless when hostilities were actively going on, the people of
the border, save the marauders who were always ready to seize
any opportunity that offered of carrying off booty, were on
friendly terms and maintained frequent intercourse with each
other.

Alwyn had returned to Alnwick when his leave was up. He
had spent his time quietly at the hold. He and his brother
had discussed many plans by which its defences could be
strengthened, but arrived at the same conclusion, that it could
defend itself at present against any small party, but must yield,
however much its defences were increased, at the approach of
an invading army, since, even with the assistance of the inhabi-
tants of the surrounding districts, it could not maintain itself
until an army was gathered and the invaders driven out.
Occasionally an afternoon was devoted to sports on the moor,
and on one occasion John Forster sent messengers down to
Yardhope and other villages on the Coquet, and to the hoids
of his neighbours, inviting them to come.to a gathering at
which there would be prizes for riding, wrestling, running,
shooting, and feats of arms on horseback and foot, and at which
all comers would be entertained.
BAD NEWS 187

The result was a gathering such as had not taken place in
that part of the country for years. Over a thousand people
assembled, comprising women as well as men. The sports be-
gan early, and the various events were all eagerly contested.
Ralph Gray won the horse-race, a horse which he had brought
‘from the south being far superior in speed to any of the smaller
border horses, although, had the trial been for endurance, it
would have had but small chance with them. The shooting
was close, one of Percy Hope’s men winning at last. The
quarter-staff prize was awarded to Long Hackett, one of John
Forster’s retainers. At wrestling Roger bore off the palm.
Some of his opponents were, in the opinion of lookers-on,
more skilled at the sport, but his weight and strength more
than counterbalanced this, and one after another tried in vain
to throw him to the ground, succumbing themselves as soon as
he put out his strength and theirs began to be exhausted, when,
drawing them up to him with irresistible strength, he laid them
quietly on the ground.

Oswald himself carried off the palm in a mile foot-race. At
one o’clock the sports were concluded. While they had been
going on a score of men were attending to the great joints
roasting over bonfires, six bullocks having been slaughtered
the day before. Ducks, geese, and chickens innumerable were
also cooking ; while, for the table in the hold, at which the
principal guests sat down, were trout, game, and venison
pasties. Here wine was provided, while outside a long row
of barrels of beer were broached for the commonalty. Dinner
over, there was singing and dancing. Alwyn had engaged
and sent from Alnwick a score of musicians. These were
divided into five parties, stationed at some little distance apart,
and round these the younger portion of the gathering soon
grouped themselves; while the elders listened to border lays
sung by wandering minstrels. The days were shortening fast,
188 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

and as many of those present had twenty miles to ride, by six
o’clock the amusements came to an end, and the gathering
scattered in all directions, delighted with the day’s proceed-
ings, which, although they would have been thought of but
small account in the southern counties, were rare indeed in a
district so thinly populated and so frequently engaged in tur-
moil and strife.

Except in the running match, Oswald had engaged in none
of the contests, he being fully occupied in aiding his mother
in welcoming the guests and seeing to their comfort, while his
father, assisted by his friends, Hope, Gray, and Liddel, super-
intended the arrangements for the sports and acted as judges.
In the afternoon Oswald and his cousins had joined heartily in
the dances, and enjoyed the day to the full as much as their
visitors.

Gatherings of this kind were not uncommon. Shooting,
wrestling, and sword-playing for the men, and dancing on the
green for the young people, took place at most of the village
fairs, but the gathering at Yardhope was long talked about
as a special occasion, from the hospitality in which all were
included, and the number of the heads of the border families
who were present and took part in the proceedings. Oswald’s
mother had been the prime mover in the matter. She was
proud of her son, and thought that it was a good occasion to
present him to the countryside as one who was now arriving
at manhood, and was likely in time to make a figure on the
border. John Forster had at first declared that it was wholly
unnecessary, and that such a thing had never taken place in
his time or in his father’s before him.

“That may be, husband,” she said, “ but Oswald has been
away from us for two years, and it may be as much more
before he returns. He is like to become a knight before long
— Alwyn said that the lad was sure to win his spurs —and it
BAD NEWS 189

would be well that he should not slip out of the memory of
folks here. Besides, we have his cousins, and it is well that
they should carry back news that in spite of the troublous
times we can yet be merry on suitable occasions. The cost
will not be very great. The meat can scarcely be counted,
seeing that we have as many cattle on the moor as can pick up
a living there. Moreover, our neighbours all gave us a helping
hand to repair the hold after it was sacked last year, and ’tis
but right that we should hold some sort of gathering, and this
will do for the two purposes.”

The last argument had more weight with John Forster than
the former ones. Once having consented, he took as much
interest in it as did his wife, and dug up the pot in which
he stowed away any sums that remained at the end of each
year over and above the expenses of the hold, and provided
all that was required without stinting. Three days after the
gathering, the Armstrongs returned home, and Oswald rode
with Roger to Alnwick. The next three months passed quietly
and uneventfully. Snow was lying deep on the Cheviots, and
until spring there was little chance of the Scotch making a
foray.

Oswald worked hard in the hall, where the knights kept
themselves in exercise, practised with the young squires, and
superintended the drilling and practice of the men-at-arms, of
whom the number at the castle had been much increased, for
“none doubted that in the spring the Scots would, after Henry’s
invasion, pay a return visit to England, and that the northern
counties would need avery strong force to hold them in check.
He was several times sent by Percy with messages to the
governors of Roxburgh and Jedburgh, and to other com-
manders, calling upon them to be vigilant, and to send in lists
of arms and stores required, so that all should be in good order
to make a stout resistance when the need came. When he
19Q BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

had received no special orders to return with speed to Alnwick,
Oswald generally found time to pay a visit of a few hours to
the Armstrongs.

On these excursions Roger and another man-at-arms always
rode with him, for it would not have been becoming for a squire
and messenger of Hotspur to ride without such escort. Alwyn
had picked out for Roger’s use one of the strongest horses in
the castle. It was not a showy animal, having a big ugly head
and being vicious in temper; therefore, after some trial, it had
been handed over to the men-at-arms, instead of being retained
for the service of the knights. It had at first tried its best to
establish a mastership over the trooper, but it soon found that
its efforts were as nothing against the strength of its rider, and
that it might as well try to shake off its saddle as to rid itself
of the trooper, the grip of whose knees almost stopped its
breathing.

Oswald, too, was very well mounted, Sir Edmund Mortimer
having presented him with one of the best horses in the stable
upon his leaving him. Upon nearing Hiniltie one day, just as
the new year had begun, Oswald was alarmed at seeing smoke-
wreaths ascending from the knoll behind the village upon
which the Armstrongs’ hold stood. Galloping on he:soon saw
that his first impressions were correct, and that his uncle’s
tower was on fire. He found the village in confusion.

“What has happened?” he asked, reining in his horse for
a moment.

“The hold was suddenly attacked two hours ago,” a man
said. ‘A party of reivers rode through here. None had seen
them coming, and there was no time for us to take our women
and children and hurry to the shelter of the hold. Adam’:
Armstrong is away at Roxburgh. Young Allan, with what few
men there were at the hold, had but just time to shut the
gates, but these were hewed down in a short time by the
BAD NEWS i 191

troopers. There was a stout fight as they entered. Allan was
cut down and left for dead, and the troopers were all killed.
Dame Armstrong was slain and her daughters carried off by
the reivers, and these, as soon as they had sacked the house,
set it alight and galloped off. Most of the men here were
away in the fields or with the flocks in the valleys, and we were
too few to hinder them, and could but shut ourselves up in
the houses until they had gone.”

Oswald had dropped his reins in speechless dismay. ‘It is
terrible,” he said at last. “Aunt killed, Janet and Jessie
carried away, and Allan wounded, perhaps to death!”

«¢ Whence came these villains?” he asked suddenly. “ From
beyond the Cheviots? It can hardly be so, for this part is
under the governor of Roxburgh, and no English raiders would
dare to meddle with any here. Besides, my uncle has always
been on good terms with them, holding himself aloof from all
quarrels, and having friends and relations on both sides of the
border.”

“We believe that it was the Bairds,” a man said. ‘“ There
has long been a standing quarrel between them and the Arm-
strongs, partly about stolen cattle, but more, methinks, because
_ of the relationship between the Armstrongs and your people”’
— for Oswald’s visits to his uncle had made his face familiar
to the villagers — “and they say that the Bairds have sworn
that they will never rest until they have slain the last of the
*Forsters.”

“Where is Allan Armstrong?”

“ They have carried him down to the last house in the vil-
lage. The priest and Meg Margetson, who knows more of
wounds and simples than anyone here, are with him.”

“Has his mother’s body been recovered?”

The man shook his head.

“The hold was on fire from roof to cellar before they left,”
192 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

he said. “I and others ran up there directly they had
galloped away. The house was like a furnace. And indeed
we knew not of her death until a boy who had seen her slain,
and had dropped from a window and hidden himself till they
had gone, came out and told us. He and two or three others
are the only ones left alive of those in the hold when we arrived ©
and saved young Allan; and, indeed, whether he lives now or
not I know not. The priest said, when we carried him in,
that his state was almost beyond hope.”

Oswald galloped on to the end of the village, leapt from his
horse, and threw the reins to Roger, who had been muttering
words that he certainly would not have found in the missals or
the books of the monastery.

“Ts there nothing to be done, Master Oswald?”

“ Not at present. We must wait till my uncle returns,”

Then he entered the house. He had met the priest fre-
quently during his stay with the Armstrongs; as he entered
the room he was standing by a pallet on which Allan was laid,
while a very old woman was attending to a decoction that was
boiling over the fire.

“Ts there any hope, father?”

“T know not,” the priest replied, shaking his head sorrow-
fully. ‘We have stanched the wounds, but his head is well-
nigh cleft open. I have some skill in wounds, for they are
common enough in this unfortunate country, and I should say
that there was no hope; but Meg here, who is noted through
the country round for her knowledge in these matters, thinks
that it is possible he may yet recover. She is now making a
poultice of herbs that she will lay on the wound, or rather on
the wounds, for he has no less than four.” F

“JT think that he will live, young master,” the old woman
said in a quavering, high-pitched voice. “’T is hard to kill an
Armstrong. They have ever been a hardy race, and, save the
BAD NEWS 193

lad’s father, have ever been prone to the giving and taking of
blows. I watched by his grandfather’s bed when he was in as
sore a strait as this, but he came round, and was none the
worse for it, though the blow would have killed any man with
a softer skull. A curse upon the Bairds, I say; they have
ever been a race of thieves and raiders, and it is their doings
that have brought trouble on the border as long as I can
remember.”

“Has any gone to bear the news to Adam Armstrong,
father?”

“Ves. I sent off a messenger on horseback as soon as they
had gone. Adam left early, and the man will meet him on his
way back.”

Half an hour later, indeed, Adam Armstrong rode in.
Oswald met him outside. His face was set and hard, and
Oswald would scarce have recognised the kindly, genial man
who had always received him so heartily.

“There are hopes that he will live,” Oswald said. There
was a slight change in the expression of Armstrong’s face.

“?Tis well,” he said, “that one should be saved to take
revenge for this foul business. All the others are gone.”

“J hope we may rescue my cousins.”

“We might as well try to rescue a young lamb that had been
carried off by an eagle,’”’ he said bitterly. “Even could an
archer send a shaft through the bird’s breast-bone, the lamb
- would be bleeding and injured beyond all hope ere it touched
the ground. We may revenge, Oswald, but I have no hope
of rescue.’ Then he went into the house without further
word,

33
194 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

CHAPTER XII
A DANGEROUS MISSION

ALF an hour later Adam Armstrong came out of the

cottage where his son was lying. His mood had changed.

He had gathered hope from Meg Margetson’s confident assur-
ances that there was ground for it.

“Now, let us talk of what had best be done, Oswald,” he
said, as he led the way into the next cottage, where the
woman at once turned her children out and cleared a room
for him. :

“What force could you gather, uncle?”

“In my grandfather’s time,” he said, “two hundred Arm-
strongs and their followers could gather in case of need; but
the family was grievously thinned in the days when Edward
carried fire and sword through Scotland, and for the last fifty
years Roxburgh and these parts have been mostly under English
rule, and in that time we have never gathered as a family.
Still, all my kin would, I know, take up this quarrel, and I
should say that in twelve hours we could gather fifty or sixty
stout fighting men. But the Bairds would be expecting us,
and can put, with the families allied to them and _ their
retainers, nigh three hundred men under arms. Their hold is
so strong a one that it took fifteen hundred Englishmen under
Umfraville three weeks to capture it. It was destroyed then,
but it is stronger now than ever. Could we get aid from Rox-
burgh, think you?”

“T fear not, uncle. I know that the governor has strict
orders not to give Douglas any pretext for invading us, and to
hold his garrison together, since the earl may at any moment
endavour to capture the town before help could arrive. And
A DANGEROUS MISSION 195

even were he to send four or five hundred men, the Bairds could
hold out for a fortnight at least, and long before this Douglas
would be down with an array to his rescue. I have been talk-
ing it over with my trusty companion here, and he agrees with
me that unless a body of men-at-arms that would avail to cap-
ture the fortalice by a sudden assault can be raised, we must
trust to guile rather than force; and I propose that he and I
shall at once start for the hold and see how matters stand, and
where the prisoners are confined, and what hope there is of
getting them free. I propose to send my other man to Yard-
hope to tell my father what has happened, and to ask him to
warn his friends to be ready to cross the border and to join
any force you can gather for an attack on the Bairds. It is
true that stringent orders have been issued that there is to be
no raiding in Scotland, but my father would not heed that for
a moment: the attack that has been made upon you, the killing
of his wife’s sister, the wounding of Allan, and carrying off of
his nieces would be deemed by him a grievance sufficient to
justify his disregarding all orders. Besides which he has the
old grievance against the Bairds, which is all the more bitter
since they led the Scots to attack Yardhope. I can guarantee
that when he gets word from you as to the day and place he
will meet you there with at least a hundred spears. It is true
that with this force and that which you can bring he could not
hope to capture the Bairds’ hold, but together you could carry
- sword and fire through his district before he could gather a
force to meet you in the field.”

“JT fear that would not do, Oswald; William Baird would
be capable of hanging the girls from the battlements when
the first fire was lit.”

Oswald was silent. From the tales he had heard of the
ferocity of these dreaded marauders, he felt that it was more
than probable that his uncle was right.
196 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Tt seems to me,” he said after a pause, “that it were best
for you to send two men to Parton, which is, as I have heard,
though I have never been there, ten miles south of the Bairds’.
Let them give the name of Johnstone, and at the tavern where
they put up say they expect a relative of the same name. As
soon as I can find out how the affair had best be managed,
I will give them instructions as to the plans I propose; one
will carry them to you and the other to my father. Will Parton
be a good place for you to join forces?”

“As well as any other, Oswald. Your plan seems to mea
good one, at any rate I can think of nothing better, my brain
is deadened by this terrible misfortune. Had I my own will
I would ride straight to the Bairds’ hold and challenge him
and his brothers and sons to meet me one after another in fair
combat, and should be well contented if I could slay one or
two of them before being myself killed.”

“T can quite understand that, uncle; but your death would
be in no way an advantage to the girls, nay, would rather
render them more helpless, therefore I pray you to let me
carry things out as I have planned.”

His uncle nodded. “T shall send out a dozen runners to my
friends,” he said, “and beg them to be here to-morrow morn-
ing early. Then, when I have talked matters over with
them, I shall ride to Roxburgh and lay the matter before the
governor. I know that I shall get no help from him, but at
least when he hears of a gathering here, he will know that ’t is
with no evil intention against the English.”

Ten minutes later Oswald’s messenger started for Yardhope
with a full account of the step he was taking, and of the
arrangements that had been made. This done he had a long
talk with Roger.

“ Now, Roger,” he said, “this will be the most dangerous
business in whith we have been concerned, and I should not
A DANGEROUS MISSION 197

venture to undertake it did I not know that I could rely
absolutely upon you.”

“T will do my best, master, and will adventure my life all
the more willingly since it is in the service of Allan and Janet
Armstrong. They were always pleasant and friendly with me
at Yardhope, and I like them for themselves as well as be-
cause they are your cousins. Now, master, what is to be
done?”

“ Have you your gown with you, Roger!”

“No, master. I know you always told me to take it with
me, thinking that it might come in useful, and I carried it
under my saddle all the time we were in Wales; but, seeing
that this was but a ride to Jedburgh and back, I thought that
there would be no occasion for it.”

“That is unfortunate, Roger, for it is upon this that we
must depend to get an entry into the Bairds’ hold.”

“Well, master, I can doubtless get some rough cloth of the
colour at Jedburgh; and indeed there is a small monastery
about three miles hence on the road, and it may be that if
Adam Armstrong will go with us and say wherefore it is
wanted, the prior will let him have one.”

“T will see him at once, no time must be lost. While he is
away you must shave your head again.”

Roger’s face fell. ‘Tis hard, master, after it has grown so
well to match the rest ; still, for so good a purpose I must even
give in.”

On hearing what was wanted Armstrong mounted and rode
off at once, and while he was away one of the villagers shaved
the top of Roger’s head again. In an hour Armstrong brought
back a monk’s gown.

“ He was loath to let me have it even for such a purpose,
though I told him that you were once a monk of the order.
Finally he said that his conscience would not allow him to lend
198 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

it, but that he would sell it to me for six pennies, which I
gladly gave him.”

“ Tt is dark now,” Oswald said, “and I know not the road.
Can you give me some man to put me on the way? We will
not make straight for the Bairds’, but will strike the road from
Glasgow some ten or twelve miles north of his place, so that
we can come down from that direction; then our guide, after
taking us on to the road, had best take charge of the horses
and lead them to Parton, there to remain with them until
your messenger and the one from Yardhope arrive. It would
be as well to have the horses there, for we cannot know what
need we may have of them.”

“That I will arrange at once, Oswald; is there aught
else?”

“Yes, uncle, I must leave my armour and clothes here, and
borrow others that will pass as a disguise.”

“ How would you go, Oswald?”

“In truth it is a difficult matter. That of a minstrel would
be the best passport, but I know nought of harp or other
instrument, I might go as a vender of philters and charms,
a sort of half-witted chap, whose mother concocted such
things.”

“They would never let you into the Bairds’ castle, Oswald.”

“Then I must be a rough man-at-arms, one who had been
in the service of the Earl of March, and who, when he turned
traitor and went over to the English, found himself without
employment, and asked nothing better than to enter the ser-
vice of someone who will give him bread and meat in return
for any services that he can render, whether in hunting up any
cattle among the hills or striking a shrewd blow in the service
of his employer if needs be.”

“That must do if we can think of nothing better, Oswald.
I will speedily bring you the things you require, as they will
A DANGEROUS MISSION 199

be found in every house in the village, and some, alas! will be
needed no more by those who wore them.”

“They must be of good size, uncle.”

“Ay, ay, lad. There must have been some tall fellows
among those they slew to-day.”

Half an hour later Roger and Oswald mounted. His uncle
sent two of his men with them, saying that it would look
strange were one man to come with two horses to Parton, but
that two, saying that their masters would follow, would seem a
more probable tale.

“ They will, if they can, find some quiet farmhouse a mile
out of the village, and there get lodgings for themselves and
beasts. You can arrange with them to take up their station
on the road, so that you can, if needs be, find them.”

It was with a sigh that Roger flung himself into the saddle.
It was not the horse on which he had ridden there, but a
strong shaggy pony.

“ He does not look much,” one of the men said, “ but there
is no better horse of the sort in the country; he has both
speed and bottom, and can carry you up or down hill, and is
as sure-footed as a goat.”

Roger had assented to the change, for his own horse was as
unlike one that a monk would have bestrode as could be well
imagined. He had obtained a stout staff, to which the village
smith had added two or three iron rings at. each end, render-
ing it a formidable weapon indeed in such hands.

“Tt reminds me of our start for Dunbar, master,’ he said.
“One might have a worse weapon than this; ” and he swung
it round his head in quarter-staff fashion; “still I prefer a
mace.”

“That staff will do just as well, Roger. A man would need
a hard skull indeed to require more than one blow from such
a weapon.”
200 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Now that Adam Armstrong had done all that there was to
do, he went again to the cottage where Allan lay. He had
paid several visits there in the afternoon, but there was nought
for him to do, and no comfort to be gained from the white face
of the insensible lad. Meg assured him, however, that he was
going on as well as could be expected.

“He is in a torpor at present,” she said, “and may so lie
for two or three days; but so long as there is no fever he will,
I hope, know you when he opens his eyes. There is nought
to do but to keep wet cloths round his head, and to put on a
fresh poultice over the wound every hour.”

Now Armstrong took his place by his son’s pallet. Fora
time the work of making preparations for Oswald’s departure,
and of sending off messages to his friends, had prevented his
thoughts from dwelling upon his loss. Throughout the night
the picture of his home as he had left it when he rode out
that morning, and the thought that it was now an empty
shell, his wife dead, his daughters carried off, and his son lying
between life and death, came to him with full force and well-
nigh broke him down. In the meantime the little party were
making across the hills, and before morning they came upon
the northern road fifteen miles from the Bairds’ hold. Here
Oswald and Roger dismounted. It was arranged that the men
should return with the horses into the hills and should there
rest until late in the afternoon, and then mount and ride for
Parton. One or other of them was to come down at seven
o’clock each evening to the road half a mile from the village,
and was there to watch till nine. If no one came along they
were then to return to their lodging.

“T feel stiff in the legs, master,” Roger said; “a fifty-mile
ride up and down the hills is no joke after a hard day’s work.”

“They will soon come right again, Roger ; I feel stiff myself,
though pretty well accustomed to horse exercise. However,
ARMSTRONG TOOK HIS PLACE BY HIS SON’S PALLET.


A DANGEROUS MISSION 201

when we present ourselves at the hold dusty and footsore we
shall look our characters thoroughly.” Neither were sorry
when they arrived at a small village a quarter of a mile from
the Bairds’ hold. They went in together to the little ale- house
and vigorously attacked the rough fare set before them.

“Hast thou travelled far?” their host asked as he watched
them eating.

“ Tndifferently far,” the monk said: “’tis five-and-twenty
miles hence to Moffat, and it would have seemed farther to

. me had not this good fellow overtaken me and ell in with my
pace. He is good company, though monkish gowns have but
little in common with steel-pot and broadsword ; but his talk
and his songs lightened the way.”

“Whither are you going, father?”

“TY am making my way to Carlisle,” he said. ‘I have a
brother who is prior in a small monastery there, and it is long
since I have seen him. Who lives at the stronghold I saw on
the hills but a short distance away?”

“Tt is the hold of William Baird, the head of that family, of
whom doubtless you may have heard.”

“TJ have heard his name as that of a noted raider across the
border,” the monk said, “a fierce man and a bold one. Has
he regard for the Church? if so, I would’ gladly take up my
abode there for a day or two, for in truth I am wearied out,
it being some years since my feet have carried me so long a
journey.”

“As to that I say nothing,” the host said. “It would
depend on his humour whether he took you in or shut the
gates in your face without ceremony; but methinks at present
the latter were more likely than the former, for his hold is full
of armed men, and I should say it were wisest to leave him
alone, even if you had but the bare moor to sleep upon.”

“Nevertheless I can but try,” the monk said; “he may
202 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

be in one of those good tempers you spoke of. And I suppose
he has also a priest in his fortalice?”

“ Ay, the Bairds are not —; but I would rather not talk of
them. They are near neighbours, and among my very best
customers.” As he spoke four armed men came in at the
door.

“ Good-day, Wilson! whom have you here? An ill-assorted
couple surely, a monk, though a somewhat rough one, and a
man-at-arms.”

“ Fellow-travellers of a day,” Roger said calmly. “We met
on the road, and as I love not solitude, having enough and to
spare of it, I accosted him. He turned out a good com-
_panion.”

“You are a man of sinew yourself, monk, and methinks that
you would have made a better soldier than a shaveling.”

“TI thought so sometime, myself,” the monk said; “ but my
parents thought otherwise, and it is too late to take up another
vocation now.”

“Ts that staff yours?” the soldier asked, taking it up and
handling it.

“Yes, my son. In these days even a quiet religious man
like myself may meet with rough fellows by the way, and while
that staff gives support to my feet, it is an aid to command
decent behaviour from those I fall in with. I have not much
to lose, having with me but sufficient to buy me victuals for
my journey to Carlisle, where, as I have just told our host,
I am journeying to see a brother, who is prior at a convent
there.”

“ This fellow — where did you fall in with him?”

“ He overtook me some twenty miles north on the road to
Glasgow.”

“ And are you travelling to Carlisle too?” the man said to
Oswald.
A DANGEROUS MISSION 203

“ Nay,” he said, “I purpose not going beyond the border.
I have lost my employment, and have tried in vain to find
another as much to my liking. I have come south to seek
service with one who will welcome a strong arm to wield a
sword.”

“ Hast tried the Douglas?”

“No,” he said, “the Douglas has men enough of his own,
and methinks I should not care to be mewed up in one of his
castles. I have had enough of that already, seeing that I was
a man-at-arms with George Dunbar till he turned traitor and:
went over to the English.”

“You look a likely fellow; but, you know, we do not pay
men here to do our fighting for us. ’Tis all very well for
great nobles like Dunbar and Douglas to keep men always in
arms, and ready to ride at a moment’s notice to carry fire and
sword where they will. War is not our business, save when
there is trouble in the air, or mayhap we run short of cattle or
horses, and have to go and fetch them from across the border.
It is true that there are always a score or two of us up there,
for somehow the Bairds have enemies, but most of the fol-
lowers of the house live on their holdings, raise cattle and
mountain sheep, grow oats, and live as best they can.”

“For myself, I would rather live with others,” Oswald said.
“Tam used to it, and to live in a hut on the moors would in
no way be to my fancy; and if I cannot get a place where I
‘have comrades to talk to and crack a joke with, I would rather
cross the seas, take service with an Irish chieftain, or travel to
Wales, where I hear men say there is fighting.”

“You need not go very far if it is fighting that you want,”
the man said. “Those who ride with the Bairds have their
share and more of it. If you like to stop here a day or two I
will take an opportunity to talk to William Baird, or to one of
his sons, if I find a chance; but I cannot take you up there
204 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

now. At the best of times they are not fond of visitors, and
would be less so than usual now.”

Other armed men had come in while the conversation was
going on. No further attention was paid to the travellers.
The others, sitting down at a table across the room, talked
among themselves.

“I care not for the work,” one said presently, raising his
voice to a higher pitch than that in which the others had
spoken. ‘Across the border I am as ready for work as
another, but when it comes to Scot against Scot I like it
not.”

“ Why, man,” another said, “ what qualms are these? Isn’t
Scot always fighting against Scot, ay, and has been so as far
back as one has ever heard. It does not take much for a
Douglas or a Dunbar to get to loggerheads; and as to the
wild clans of the north, they are always fighting among
themselves.”

“Yes, that is all very well,” the other said, “and there is
no reason why neighbours should not quarrel here; but I
would rather that they each summoned their friends, and met
in fair fight and had it out, than that one should pounce upon
the other when not expected, and slay and burn unopposed.”

“ Ay, ay,” two or three others of the men agreed, “ it were
doubtless better so, when it is Scot against Scot.” ,

“*T is border fashion,” another put in. “There is no law on
the border, and we fight in our own fashion. To-day it is our
turn, to-morrow it may be someone else’s. We follow our
chiefs, just as the northern clansmen do; and whether it is a
Musgrave or a Baird, a Fenwick or an Armstrong, he is chief
in his own hold, and cares neither for king nor earl, but fights
out his quarrel as it may please him. I am one of William
Baird’s men, and his quarrel is mine; and whether we ride
against the King of Scotland or the King of England, against
re

A DANGEROUS MISSION 205

a Douglas or a Percy, an Armstrong or a Musgrave, it matters
not the value of a stoup of ale.”

“That is so, Nigel, and so say we all. But methinks that
one may have a preference for one sort of fighting over
another, and I myself would rather fight a matter out man
against man than fall suddenly on a hold where none are
ready to encounter us.”

Roger, during a pause in the conversation at the other table,
got up from his seat and stretched himself.

« Well, friend,” he said to Oswald, “I will go up and see if
they will make me welcome at the hold. If they do, I may
see you no more ; if not, I shall return here to sleep: ‘There-
fore I bid you good-day, and hope that you may find such
service as will suit you. Benedicite!” And, paying for his
refreshment, Roger took his staff from the corner and went out.

«A hearty fellow and a stalwart one,” the man who had
spoken to him said. “T should not care to have a crack over
the crown with that staff of his. You met him coming down
from the north, comrade?”

“Yes, some twenty miles away. It was near Moffat that I
overtook him. I would rather drink with him than fight with
him. Seldom have I seen a stronger-looking man.”

“Tam of your opinion, comrade ; and some of these monks
are not bad fighters either. There have been bishops who
have led the monks to battle before now, and they proved
themselves stout men-at-arms.”

After the others had gone out Oswald strolled through the
village, and then mounted an eminence whence he could take
a view across the valley and of some of the hill-tops to the
north-east. On one of these, two miles away, he could make
out a man standing by a horse. He watched him for some
little time, but beyond taking a few steps backwards and for-
wards the man did not move.
206 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“He is a look-out,” he said to himself, “and is no doubt
watching some road from Kelso and Jedburgh. Baird will
hardly think that the Armstrongs can have so soon gathered
a force sufficient to attack him, but he may have thought it as
well to place one of his men on the watch. I wonder how
Roger is getting on! I think they must have taken him in, or
he would have been back before this.”

Roger had walked quietly up the hill on which the Bairds’
hold was perched. A man stepped forward from the gate as
he neared it.

“ None enter here,” he said, “‘ without permission from the
master.” -

“Will you tell him that a poor monk of the order of St.
Benedict, on his way from his convent at Dunbar to one near
Carlisle, of which his brother is prior, prays hospitality for a
day or two, seeing that he is worn out by long travel.”

The sentry spoke to a man behind him, and the latter took
the message to William Baird. The latter was in a good
humour. He himself had not taken part in the raid on the
Armstrongs, which had been led by Thomas Baird, a cousin,
but the fact that the latter had been entirely successful, and
had burned down Armstrong’s house and brought back his
daughters, had given him the greatest satisfaction. There
was a long-standing feud between the two families, and the
fact that the Armstrongs were on good terms with their English
neighbours, and still more that one of them had married the
sister-in-law of a Forster of Yardhope, had greatly embittered
the feeling on his side. He had long meditated striking a
blow at them, and the present time had been cxceptionally
favourable. ;

Douglas had his hands full. He was on ill terms with
Rothesay, whose conduct to his daughter had deeply offended
him. The newly-acquired land of the Earl of March gave
A DANGEROUS MISSION 207

much trouble. He was jealous of the great influence of
Albany at court, and was moreover making preparations for
a serious raid into England. It was not likely, then, that he
would pay any attention to the complaints the Armstrongs
might make of any attack upon them, especially as their aid
was of small use to him, while the Bairds could at any moment
join him in an invasion across the border with three hundred
good fighting men.

William Baird had not as yet even considered what he
should do with his captives. He might give them in mar-
riage to some of the younger men of his family, or he might
hold them as hostages. As to injuring them personally, he
did not think of it. Slaughter in a raid was lightly regarded,
but to ill-treat female prisoners would arouse a general feeling
of dissatisfaction along the border. Reprisals might be made
by the Armstrongs and their friends, and in any case there
would be such wide-spread reprobation excited, as William Baird,
reckless as he was, could hardly afford to despise. Therefore
when Roger’s request was brought to him he said at once:

“Take him up to Father Kenelm ; tell him to look after the
monk’s comfort. This evening he can bring him down to the
hall, and I will question him as to his journey.”

Roger followed the man through the court-yard. He paid
apparently no attention to what was going on there, but a
quick glance enabled him to perceive that the hold was full of
men. He followed his guide up a winding stair to a turret on
the wall, the lower story of which was inhabited by the priest.
The soldier knocked at the door, and on its being opened by
the priest, he gave Baird’s message to him. He was a tall
man, spare and bony. He himself was a Baird, and report
said that in his youth he had ridden on many a foray in Eng-
land. But fighting men were common in the family, and it
had been thought well that one should enter the church, as it
208 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

was always good to have a friend who could represent them
there, and, should any complaint be made, explain matters,
and show that the family were in no wise to blame. And,
moreover, as it was necessary to have a priest at the chief
fortalice of the family, it was best that it should be one who
would not be too strict in his penances, and could be con-
veniently silent as to the doings within its walls.

The priest had accepted the rdle not unwillingly. He was
an ambitious man, and saw that as one of the fighting Bairds
there was but small opportunity of rising to aught beyond the
command of one of the holds. Douglas regarded them with
no friendly eye, for their breaches of the truces brought upon
him constant complaints from the English wardens, who might
some day or other lead a force to punish the family, which
had been one of the few exempted from the general pardon at
the last truce. As a priest he would have better opportuni-
ties, for the Bairds had much influence along the border, and
might some day or other exert it in his favour. So far no such
opportunity had occurred. It had been a disappointment to
him that Henry in his last invasion had kept along the eastern
coast, and he hoped that the war, which assuredly would ere
long break out violently, would give him the chance he longed
for, and he might be sent by his uncle to Douglas with offers
of service, or might even go north and have an interview with
Albany. Once fairly away from Liddesdale, he was resolved
that it would be a long time indeed before he returned. He
was now some thirty years of age, with a hard, keen face.

“ Well, brother,” he said, “it is not often that any of your
order sojourn here. Iam glad to have one with whom I can
converse of other matters than arms and armour, forays and
wars.”

“These matters are indeed too much in men’s mouths,”
Roger said, “though I own that I myself in some degree am
A DANGEROUS MISSION 7 209

interested in them, for had I had the choice of a vocation I
would rather have been a man-at-arms than a monk.”

“T wonder not at that,” the other said, “seeing that nature
has been bountiful to you in the matter of height and strength,
and I doubt not that you could in case of need use that staff
you carry with good effect.”

“Methinks that I might do so, but happily none have
molested me on my way, seeing perhaps that my wallet was
not likely to be a full one, and that mayhap it was hardly
worth while to meddle with me with so small a prospect of
plunder.”

“ But come in and sit down,” the priest said; “my uncle
has consigned you to my care. We shall sup in half an
hour.”

“T shall not be sorry,” Roger replied, “for though I broke
my fast on black bread and small beer down in the village, ’t is
but poor nourishment for a man who has travelled far, and who
has a large frame to support.”

« But how come you to be here?”

Roger again repeated his story.

“Tt would have been shorter for you to have travelled down
through Berwick, brother.” ,

«The difference was not great,” Roger replied ; “and I had
to carry a message to Edinburgh, and from there it was shorter
to keep west of the Pentlands, and come down to Lanark, and
thence through Moffat.”

“Yes, I suppose it is as short. And you had no trouble on
your way?”

Roger shook his head. “No; I generally join some traveller
or other, and that makes the journey pass all the quicker, I
came down here to-day with a stout young fellow, who over-
took me this side of Moffat. He was somewhat out at elbow,
and J looked askance at him at first, but he turned out a blithe

14
210 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

companion, and we got on well together. He could troll a
good song, and my own voice is not wanting in power. It was
curious that he also was from Dunbar, though not immediately,
having, it would seem, wandered for some time on the look-out
for service.”

“What was he, a cattle drover?”

“No, he had been a man-at-arms of George of Dunbar — at
least, so I understood — and when the earl fled and Douglas
took possession of Dunbar, he lost his living. He told me
that he had made his way down here in hopes of finding em-
ployment on the border, where blows were common and a
good blade was of more use than it was farther north. I said
that he might have found employment under Albany, or under
some other great lord, but he said that he had seen the Earl
of March a fugitive, and that he cared not to enter the service
of another noble, who might in turn be ousted from his place
and lose his life; but as for Albany, he thought from what he
heard that he would rather serve him than any other master.
I said, ‘Why not Rothesay, who would be King of Scotland?’
He laughed lightly, and said as Rothesay had managed to get
upon ill friendship, not only with the Earl of March but
with Douglas, and, as he heard, with Albany, he thought that
his chances of becoming King of Scotland were not worth
considering.” d

“Fe must be a bold varlet thus to speak irreverently of
great ones.”

“T think not that he was bold,” Roger said, “but only a
merry thoughtless young fellow, who in such company as mine
let his tongue loose, and said what first came into his head.
As to the matter, methought he spoke not without warrant.”

« And he came from the north now?”

“T know not whence he came last, but I think that he was at
Edinburgh, and had taken service there when the English king
A DANGEROUS MISSION 211

sat down before it; but, as you know, nought came of the
siege.”

At this moment ahorn blew. “ There is supper,” the priest
said. <“ We will go down.”

The meal was laid in the hall, which, however, was not large
enough to contain more than the ordinary retainers of the
hold. These and the men who had come in at the summons
of Baird were provided for in the court-yard, the table being
occupied entirely by members of the Baird family and others
who always acted with them. These had not yet taken their
seats when the priest entered with his companion, whom he at
once took up to Sir William Baird.

“By St. Andrew! monk, I have seen no finer figure for
many a day. A pity that a monk’s gown should clothe such
limbs as yours.”

“That has always been mine own opinion,” Roger said with
a heartiness that raised a smile on the hard faces of the men
standing round.

“ You look as if you had carried arms.”

“J did so in my wild youth,” Roger said, “and had no
thought of ever donning monk’s hood, but I was grievously
wounded in a foray in Northumberland, and when I reached
my home at Lauder I well-nigh died of the fever of the wound,
and I swore that if my life was saved I would become a monk.
I got well, and I kept my vow; but methinks had I but known
how dull the life was, I would rather have died of the fever.”

As this story was perfectly true, save the name of his birth-
place, Roger spoke so heartily that no one doubted his story.

«And your monastery is at Dunbar? You have been at
Dunbar, Rotherglen, ask him where the convent stood.”

As Roger had stayed there when with Oswald he was at
Dunbar he was able to answer this and other questions satis-
factorily. The party then took their places at table, the priest
212 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

and Roger sitting at the bottom of it. The conversation at
the upper end naturally turned on the foray, and a general
disbelief was expressed as to the chance of the Armstrongs
retaliating.

“?T is out of the question,” one of the Bairds said, “they
could not raise fifty men. Doubtless they will send a com-
plaint to Douglas, but he has his hands well full, and is not
likely to quarrel with us about such a trifle, when he may want
our aid at any moment either against Albany or against the
English.”

“What do you intend to do with the girls?”

“1 have not settled yet,” William Baird said shortly. “ At
any rate for the present I shall hold them as hostages. I don’t
think that anything is likely to come of the affair; but if we
should hear of any force approaching likely to give us trouble
we could send word to them that if an arrow is loosened at our
walls we will hang the girls out as marks for their archers. I
fancy that will send them trooping off again at once.”

As soon as the meal was over and the carousal began the
priest rose, and accompanied by Roger retired to his chamber.

CHAPTER XIII

ESCAPE

Qe who was thoroughly fatigued with the events of

the last thirty-six hours, slept soundly on an armful of
rushes that his host threw down in a corner of the room for
him. At eight o’clock the man who had spoken to him on the
previous evening came in.
ESCAPE 213

“T have spoken to William Baird,” he said. “TI told him
that you seemed a likely fellow. He called down the monk
and asked him several questions about you, and he told me at
last that I could bring you up to see him. So come along at
once.”

“Thanks, comrade,” Oswald said, as he slung his long two-
handed sword from his shoulder.

“A likely-looking young fellow indeed,” Baird said to
Rotherglen, whom he had sent for to be present; “ over six
feet, and I should fancy has not attained his full width. So
you would fain take service with me?” he said.

«‘T want a master,” Oswald replied, “and from what I hear
I am more likely to see fighting under you than under any
other on the border.”

«And you were with George Dunbar?”

““T was,” Oswald replied. But indeed the service was not
altogether to my taste, for we were always pent up in Dunbar,
and save in a street broil there was no need to draw a sword.
I was glad enough to leave his service, though in truth I have
fared but badly since.”

“ Now do you question him, Rotherglen.”

A number of questions were put to Oswald, concerning the
names of the streets, the direction, the names of the principal
inns, and the approaches to the castle. All these were satis-
factorily replied to.

- He knows Dunbar, there is no question about that. And
you can use your arms?”

“T think so.”

“We will have a trial,” Baird said. “A man is no use to
me who cannot use his weapon. Send Robert here.’

In a minute one of the young Bairds entered. He was a
man of about twenty-five, tall and sinewy, and was accounted
the best swordsman of his family.
214 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Cousin Robert,” William Baird said, “this young fellow
would enter our service ; but before I take him I must see that
he knows his business. Do you take a turn with the sword
with him. No, no, not a two-handed sword; I don’t want
him to be slain. Take acouple of swords from the wall. Give
him another steel-cap and full body-armour, that of his own
would not keep out a good downright stroke.”

By the time that Oswald was armed a number of the Bairds
and their friends had assembled in the hall, hearing of what
was going to take place.

“A fine young fellow, truly,” Rotherglen said. “In height
and width he matches Robert well, though of course your
cousin must be the more powerful, seeing that he is some four
or five years older than this young fellow, who, when he
reaches his age, bids fair to be well-nigh as strong a man as
that monk.”

Roger had just entered with the priest. “Well, monk,”
Baird said, “we are going to try the mettle of your com-
panion of yesterday.”

“T answer not for his mettle,”’ Roger said ; “but if he fights
as well as he talks, he will not do discredit to himself.”

As they took their places facing each other, the lookers-on,
men well qualified to judge of strength and sinew, murmured
to each other that it would be difficult to find a better-matched
pair. They were about the same height, both stood lightly on
their feet, and their figures seemed full of life and activity.
Both were smiling, Robert Baird with a smile of confidence
and of assurance in his skill, while Oswald’s face expressed
only good temper, and, as the others took it, a belief that he
would at any rate be able to make such a defence as would
assure his being taken into the Bairds’ service.

The first rally indeed proved more than this. Robert Baird
had at once taken the offensive, and showered his blows
ESCAPE 215

heavily down, while springing backwards and forwards with
wonderful quickness and activity ; but Oswald’s blade ever met
his, and he did not give way an inch, even when Baird most
fiercely attacked him. Then suddenly he adopted the same
tactics as his opponent, and pressed him so hotly that he was
several times obliged to give ground. Oswald could twice
have got in a heavy blow, but he abstained from doing so.
He could see that his antagonist was a favourite among his
kinsmen, and felt that, were he to discomfit him, he would
excite a feeling of hostility against himself. Both, panting
from their exertions, drew a step backwards and lowered
their swords.

“Enough!” William Baird said, “the matter need be
pushed no further. ’Tis long since I have seen so good a
bout of sword-play. This young fellow has learned his busi-
ness, and if in other respects he does as well, he will make a
good recruit indeed. What say you, lad? Will you join us
for a month, till you see whether you like our service, and we
can judge how your service will suit us? For that time you
will have your. living here and drink-money. After that, if
we agree, you can either be a retainer here, or we will give
you a holding on the moor, build you a shelter, give you a
horse, and, after our next foray, a clump of cattle.”

“That will suit me well,” Oswald said; “and I like well
the month of trial you propose.” 5

“T will take him, if you will let me, uncle, as my own man,”
Robert Baird said, “if at the end of the month he chooses
service with us, and likes better to follow a master with half a
dozen men than to live alone on the moors. Methinks he
would make a cheery companion, and one I could take to
heartily; and indeed, during the long winters, ’t is no slight
thing to have one merry fellow who can keep one alive, and
of whose mettle and skill you are well assured.”
216 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“ So let it be, then, Robert ; you have tried ‘him, and yours
should be the advantage. But for the month he shall remain
here under Malcolm’s eye.”

Oswald went down with the man, who was Baird’s tight
hand in the hold.

« What will be my duties?” he asked.

“To keep your arms and armour ready for service.”

“That will be an easy task, methinks, for I see that instead of
being polished and bright, as were ours at Dunbar, the others
keep their steel caps and back-pieces painted a sombre colour.”

The other nodded. “Yes, our arms are for use and not
for show, and when we ride by moonlight we care not to have
our presence shown miles away by the glint of the moon on
our armour. You will do your turn of keeping watch and
ward. Just at present there will be a good deal of that, for
we have been stirring up a wasps’ nest, and mayhap they may

come and try to sting. When you are off duty you will be

your own master, save that you had best be within sound of
the warder’s horn. I will hand over a horse to you. For
the present it is at that croft on the opposite hill. Each of
the tenants keeps two or three at our service. We have only
the Bairds’ own horses kept in the hold. It would be too
much trouble to gather forage for those of the twenty men
who always live here, and indeed we have no room for such
number. Mind that you drink not too much over in the
village there, for though the Bairds care not on feast-days if
the whole garrison gets drunk, so that there are enough sober
to keep watch and ward, they set their faces against it at
other times, seeing that it leads to broils and quarrels.”

“J will take care. I like my cup occasionally, and can
drink with others without my head getting addled, but as a rule
I care not overmuch for it.”

After being roughly introduced to several of the retainers as
ESCAPE 217

a new comrade, Oswald was left to follow his own devices.
Presently Roger came out into the court-yard.

«So you have got service, comrade,” he said in a voice that
could be heard by any of those standing near. “You had
better fortune than I had expected.”

“That have I,” he replied. “ Still I thought that it would
be hard if one who could use his sword indifferently well, and
puts no great value on his life, could not find service on the
border. How long do you stay here?” This was a question
that had been arranged, for had they been seen speaking pri-
vately together it might have aroused suspicion.

“Methinks I shall stay here two days, to get rid of my leg-
weariness. [am not so accustomed to long marching as you
are.” The real meaning of the question, as arranged, was,
“ Have you found out where the prisoners are kept?” The
answer meant “ Yes, and it will not be difficult to get at them.”
The evening before, indeed, when he returned with the priest
to his chamber, they had broached a bottle together. The
priest on his part had asked many questions as to the state of
things in Edinburgh and Dunbar, what were the opinions of
people with regard to the Duke of Albany and the Prince, and
what would probably come of the coldness that was said to
exist between them.

Roger was able to conceal his ignorance of these matters by
saying that he knew little of what was passing, for that he had
been the cellarer in the convent and went out but little.
Nevertheless he had kept his ears open; as they rode north to
Jedburgh he had heard a good deal of talk and speculation,
and was able to give various pieces of news that had not before
reached the ears of the priest. He was not long in discover-
ing that the latter was ill satisfied with his present position,
and was ambitious to take part in more important affairs, and
he presently said :
218 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“1 wonder, father, that a man of your ability should be con-
tent to remain as chaplain in a border hold when there are so
many opportunities beyond for one like you to make his way
in the Church.” :

“In truth,” the priest said, “I have had such thoughts
myself, and hope some day to see a little more of the world.
By the way, can you read and write, brother?” he asked.
suddenly.

“ Assuredly,” Roger replied. He guessed at once that the
question had been put at the instigation of William Baird, who
perhaps still had some doubts whether he was really a monk,
and an affirmative answer would be an almost conclusive proof
that he was so, for very few outside the walls of the convents,
even among the nobles and knights, possessed any knowledge
of letters.

«‘T have a missal here,” the priest said carelessly, “that has
somewhat troubled me, being written in a cramped hand ; per-
haps you could read it for me,” and, getting up, he took a roll
from a closet.

Roger smiled quietly as he turned it over. By a private
mark upon it he knew that it had been written at Alnwick,
and was doubtless the proceed of some foray upon a monastery
across the border. He ran his eye over it, and then in a
sonorous voice proceeded to read it aloud. :

“J thank you,’ the priest said when he had finished.
“Truly you are an admirable reader, and well skilled in
deciphering. I wonder that you held not some more impor-
tant post than that of cellarer.”

Roger laughed. “I might have done so,” he said, “ but, in
truth, Iam not strict enough in matters of discipline to suit
our prior, and am somewhat over-fond of the wine-cup. More
than once, when it seemed that I might have been chosen as
reader to the monastery, I fell into disgrace, and lost my
ESCAPE 219

chance; and, indeed, I was far better pleased with my post
there than if they had appointed me sub-prior.”

Any vestige of doubt there might have been in the priest’s
mind had vanished as Roger read, for he was conscious that
he himself could not have picked up a manuscript and have
deciphered it so easily and fluently.

“Tt must be trying to you, good father,” Roger went on,
“to be among men who, if reports speak truly, are somewhat
lawless, and hold even the Church in but slight respect.
Surely among them there can be but little scope for your
abilities?”

‘Tis true, brother; but they are, you know, kinsmen of
mine. They have many foes across the border, and some on
this side, and are forced to hold their own as they may. It
was but two days ago that they were obliged to punish a family
that have long been at feud with them, and who might well
have fallen upon their holds if they marched into England
with Douglas. However, they have brought off two hostages
for the good behaviour of these people.”

“Yes, I heard a chance word in the village that a party had
just returned from a foray and had brought back a number of
prisoners.”

“ Not a number, brother, but two girls.”

“JT have seen no women in the castle,” Roger said.

“No. William Baird lost his wife years ago, and cares not
to have women in the hold. There is not a married man among
the garrison. Ifa man takes him a wife he must go and settle
on the lands. The women are in a safe place of keeping ; they
are overhead. There are wild young fellows among the Bairds,
and the girls are good-looking, therefore he thought it best to
place them in my charge, and that is why you see two sentries
marching on the battlements, one on each side of this turret.
He himself keeps the key of their chamber, handing it over to
220 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

me every morning, and receiving it again at night—a precau-
tion wholly unnecessary, methinks.”

“Surely, surely,” Roger said. ‘I wonder that you are not
offended.”

“T told him that it was strange he could not trust me, a
priest, with the charge of them, but he laughed and said, ‘ As
a priest you are well enough, father Kenelm, but remember
also that you are a Baird. ‘Though a priest, I would trust you
to ride with me on a foray across the border, but as a Baird
I would not entrust you with the custody of women. You may
take it as a compliment that I have trusted you as far as I do.’ ”

Roger’s answer to Oswald had been eminently satisfactory to
the latter. Still more pleased was he when, later on in the
day, Roger repeated as he passed him, “ They are lodged in
the turret over my chamber.” Oswald was scarcely surprised,
for he had noticed that two sentries were on the wall on that
side, although it was the one farthest removed from the direc-
tion in which any foes were likely to appear. He had, more-
over, just before dinner, observed one of the kitchen men go
up with two dishes in his hand by the steps leading to the top
of the wall on that side. There was no hindrance to the men
going freely in and out of the hold, and as no duty had been
assigned to him that evening he strolled out of the gate when
. it became dusk, soon after six o’clock, for it was now the be-
ginning of April, 1401, and walked down through the village,
and then, taking off his armour and steel cap, and laying them
down under a bush by the roadside, set off at the top of his
. speed in the direction of Parton. He did the ten miles under
an hour, and nearly ran against a man who was standing in the
middle of the road, a short distance from the little town.

“Ts that you, Fergus?”

“No, I am John, master. Fergus will take the watch to-
morrow evéning.”’
ESCAPE 221

“Good. Keep the horses saddled at this time every even-
ing, and hold them in readiness all night; things are going on
well, and I may be here any night. Which is the house?”

“That is it, master, where you see the light, a quarter of a
mile farther up the hill.”

«Where are you sleeping?”

“In the stables with the horses. It is some ten yards off
the right of the house.”

“Then you must keep watch through the night by turns, and
get your sleep in the daytime. I hope we shall get them away
without waiting for a force to come. The hold is a very strong
one, and a strict watch is kept at night, and before we could
carry it we should have all the Bairds on the country-side
down upon us. Can you get mearope? I want a long and
a strong one.”

«© There are some ropes in the stable, master, but they are
in use and would be missed.”

“Then run at the top of your speed down to the town
and buy a rope strong enough to hold the weight of half a
dozen men. I shall want a hundred feet of it. Here is
money.”

The man shot away into the darkness, and in a little over a
quarter of an hour was back again with the rope. Oswald
took off his doublet.

«Wind it round and round me,” he said. “ Begin under

the arms. Wind it neatly and closely so that it will make no
more show than necessary.”

This was soon done, and then Oswald started on his way,
and an hour later entered the tavern and took his seat with
three or four of the men from the hold and called for wine for
the party. He sat there for some time, and then one said :
“Tt is half-past eight ; we had best be going. Atseveno *clock
the gates are shut, but they are opened for those who belong
222 " BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

to the hold till nine, after which none are admitted till morning,
and any who come in then are reported to Baird, and they are
lucky if they get off with halfa dozen extra goes of sentry
duty. Baird is a good master in many things, but he is a bad
man to deal with when he is angry, and if anyone was to be
out a second time, and he did it too soon after the first offence,
he would have his skin nearly flayed off his back with a stirrup
leather. ‘There is-no fooling with the Bairds.”

Oswald arranged with Roger that if the latter remained in
the castle he should always come down half an hour before
the garrison were moving, as they might then exchange a word
or two unseen, and accordingly he took his place at an angle
of a building where he could keep his eye on the steps leading
up to the battlements on the north side. Presently he saw
Roger descending; he waved his hand and caught his fol-
lower’s eye, and the latter on reaching the court-yard at once
joined him.

“I have a rope, Roger,” Oswald began, “that will reach
from the turret to the foot of the craig. I took it off during
the night, and have just hidden it away behind a pile of rub-
bish in the stable. Are the girls locked up?”

SVE Se

“Ts there any getting the key?”

“No, William Baird himself keeps it.”

“Then we must have something to force the door open or
to saw round the lock.”

“The door is studded with iron.”

“ Are the windows barred? ”

“No; but they are mere loopholes, and there is no getting
through them.”

“TI suppose there are steps from their room on to the plat-
form above?”

“No doubt; in fact there are sure to be.”
ESCAPE : 223

“T suppose that you will have no difficulty: in silencing the
priest?”

Roger smiled. “No; I think I can answer for him.”

“ Could you speak to the girls through the keyhole, Roger?”

“There would be no difficulty about that, master. I have
but to choose a time when the priest is out.”

“Then tell them that we are here, Roger, and they are to
be ready to escape whenever we give the signal. Ask them
if the trap-door leading on to the platform is fastened, and
whether they can unfasten it. If not, we must break it in
from above. We can get on to the top of the turret easily
enough by throwing the rope up with a hook attached. Of
course the two sentries must be first silenced. I would wait
till I myself should be on sentry there, but that might not
occur for a week, and you cannot prolong your stay here more
than another day; therefore we will try it to-night. I have
given the men with the horses notice. Do you get the priest
bound and gagged by ten o’clock; everything will be quiet by
that time. I will come noiselessly up the steps. At that hour
do you be at the door and on the look-out for me. The sen-
tries will have to be silenced — that is the most difficult part
of the business.”

“We can manage that,” Roger said confidently ; “ one blow
with my quarter-staff on the back of the head under the steel
cap will do that noiselessly enough.”

-“ That would not do, Roger; the man would go down with
such a crash that the fall of his armour on the flags would be
heard all over the castle. He must be gripped by the throat
so that he cannot holloa, and then bound tightly, and gagged
before he has time to get breath.”

“T suppose that would be the best way,” Roger said regret-
fully ; “but I should like to have struck two good blows, one
for the sake of Dame Armstrong and one for Allan. How-
224 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

ever, your plan is the best; the only difficulty will be the trap-
door.”

« Well, we must look about to-day and get a couple of bits
of iron that we can use asa prise. Still, 1 hope that it will
not be needed. I saw a bit of iron in the stables that I think
I can bend into a hook for the rope, and if I can’t I have no
doubt that you can. ‘That is all. You had better move away
now, people will be stirring directly.”

That night at ten o’clock, when all in the hold had been
asleep half an hour, Oswald rose quietly from the rushes on
which He and a dozen of his comrades were sleeping and made
his way noiselessly out of the room, went into the stables and
fetched the piece of iron, which he had during the day placed
so that he could feel it in the dark, took the coil of rope in
his hands, and ascended the steps. The top was but some
ten feet from the turret. He stood quiet until he heard the
sentry moving away from him, then he mounted the last steps,
and in a moment reached the foot of the turret stairs. Roger
was standing there.

“ All right, master!” he whispered. “I took the priest by
surprise, and he was gagged before he knew what was happen-
ing. I tore the blanket up into strips and tied him down on
to his pallet with them. He is safe enough. Now for the
sentries. I will take the one to the right first. I will go out
and stand in the angle; it is a dark night, and there is no
chance of his seeing me. When you hear his walk cease you
will know that I have got him. I have managed to bring up
a rope that I have cut into handy lengths. Here are two of
them. ‘There, he has just turned, so I will go at once.”

“ How about the trap-door?”

“Tt is all right, master; it is bolted on the inside. They
have tried the bolts, and find they can move them ;” and with
these words he at once stepped noiselessly out. Oswald stood
ESCAPE 225

listening. Presently he heard the returning steps of the sentry.
They came close up to the turret and then suddenly ceased.
He at once hurried round. ‘The sentry hung limp in Roger’s
grasp. Oswald bound his hands tightly, and twisted the rope
three or four times round his body, and securely knotted it.
Then he tied the ankles tightly together.

“J will lay him down,” Roger whispered when he had done
so. Oswald bent the man’s legs, and, trussing him up, fastened
the rope from the ankles to that which bound the wrists.
Roger now relaxed his grip of the man’s throat, thrust a piece
of wood between his teeth, and fastened it by a string going
round the back of the head ; he then took off his steel cap and
laid it some distance away.

“That will do for him, master. I reckon that he will be an
hour or two before he will get breath enough to holloa, even
without that gag.”

The other man was captured as silently as the former had
been. When he was bound, Roger said, ‘‘ Now for the hook,
master.”

“ Here is the iron. It was too strong for me to bend.”

Roger took it, and exerting his great strength bent it across
his knee. Then he took the coil of rope and tied a knot at
the end, and with some smaller cord lashed it securely along
the whole length of the hook.

“Now, master, do you get on to my shoulders, and I think
you will be able to hook it to the battlements. It is not above
twelve feet. If you find that you cannot, step on my head.”

“J am sure I can reach it without that, Roger.” And,
indeed, he found that he could do so easily ; and having fixed
it firmly he got hold of the rope and hoisted himself to the top
of the turret. In a minute Roger was beside him. Feeling
about, they soon discovered the trap-door, on which Roger
knocked three times. Then they heard a grating sound below,

15
226 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

and shortly one end of the heavy trap-door was slightly raised.
The two men got their fingers under it and pulled it up, and
Janet and Jessie ran out, both crying with joy and excitement.

“ Hush !’? Oswald whispered. “Do not utter a sound;
there are sentries on other parts of the walls, and the slightest
noise might be heard. Now we will knot this rope.”

He and Roger set to work, and before long knots were tied
a foot apart along the whole length of the rope.

“T will take you down first, Jessie, for you are the lightest,”
Oswald said. “Now, Roger, tie us together.”

One of the pieces of rope Roger had brought was passed
round and round them, tying them firmly face to face.

“ Now, Jessie, you had best take hold of the rope too, and
take as much of your weight off me as you can. It is a long
way down, and though I think that I could carry your weight
that distance, it is best that you should help me as much as
you are able.”

The rope was shifted to the outside of the turret. Roger,
after fixing it firmly, helped them over the battlements, hold-
ing Oswald by the collar until he had a firm grasp of the rope
in his hands, and obtained a hold with his feet.

“That is right, Jessie,” he whispered as the girl also took a
firm hold of the rope. “You are no weight like that. Now,
let the rope pass gradually through your hands, and, when I
tell you, hold tight by one of the knots.”

After lowering himself forty feet, Oswald found that he was
standing on a ledge of rock three inches wide at the foot of
the wall.

“ Now, dear, it will be more difficult,” he said. “ You must
use one of your hands to push yourself off from any rugged
points. There are not many of them. I had a look at the
rock to-day, and its face is almost smooth. I will do the best
I can to keep you from it.”
““LET THE ROPE PASS GRADUALLY THROUGH YOUR HANDS,”


ESCAPE 227

In another three minutes they stood at the foot of the craig.
Oswald shook the rope violently to let those above know that
they were down. Then he untied the cord that bound him to
his cousin, who at once sat down, sobbing hysterically. Oswald
put his hand upon her shoulder.

“ Steady, Jessie, steady. You have been brave and quiet
coming down.” The danger is over now, but we have a long
walk and a longer ride before us, and you will need all your
strength.”

In a very short time Roger and Janet joined them. As
soon as she was untied, Janet threw her arms round Oswald’s
neck and spoke for the first time.

“Oh, Oswald, from what you have saved us! How brave
and good of you to risk so much!”

«Tut, tut, Janet, as if we should leave you here in the hands
of the Bairds without making an effort to free you! Now, come
along, dear. Be very careful how you walk till we get down
to the bottom. It is pretty steep, and if you were to set a
stone rolling we might have them after us in no time. As it
is, we shall only have an hour and a half start, for the sentries
will be relieved at midnight. However, by that time we shall
be on horseback, and of course they won’t know which road
we have taken.”

As soon as they came to level ground they set off at a run.
They were but a mile from the village when they heard, on
the still night air, distant shouts, followed half a minute later
by the winding of a horn, then almost immediately a glimmer-
ing light appeared on the highest turret of the hold, and this
rapidly broadened out into a sheet of flame.

“They have discovered our escape by some misfortune or
other,” Oswald exclaimed, “and they will be after us before
many minutes have passed. You must run in earnest now,
girls.”
228 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Do you run on, Oswald,” Janet said, “you and Roger.
We will turn and walk back; they will do us no harm.”

Oswald thought of the murder of the girls’ mother, and
knew that, in their fury at having been tricked, the Bairds
were capable of anything.

“Tt is not to be thought of,” he said. Such a watch would
henceforth be kept that there would be no possibility whatever
of effecting your rescue. We must take our chance together.
What think you had best be done, Roger?”

“In sooth I know not. I am ready to do whatever you
think best.”

“We cannot hope to reach Parton before they overtake us,”
Oswald said. “Besides, the Bairds are sure to have many
friends there, and the lighted beacon will warn all the country-
side that something unusual has happened. No, we cannot
think of going there.”

“ But you said that there were horses,” Janet said.

“They are but a short distance on this side of the town.
We could not hope to get there before the Bairds, and even
if we did, it would be a quarter of an hour before we could
mount and be off.”

“Could we not hide and get the horses after they have
passed, master?” Roger suggested.

“It would be useless, Roger. The road Jeads up and down
this valley, and there would be no possibility of riding’ the
horses across the hills at night, so that we should have either
to ride down through Parton or up past the Bairds’ hold. No,
the horses must be given up for the present. The only thing
that I can see is to cross the Esk and to take refuge in the
hills. I know not if there are any fords, or where they are, but
were we to turn to the right we should be getting farther and
farther away. The Esk is no great width, and we can carry
them across it easily enough.”
ESCAPE 229

“The water will be dreadfully cold,” Jessie said with a
shiver, for it was now the beginning of April.

“ Hush, Jessie!” her sister said; “what matters a little
cold when our lives are at stake?” 4

«No, that is our only hope,’”’ Oswald said. “ Quick, girls,
there is no time to lose.”

The river was but some fifty yards from the road, and they
ran down to it.

“Now, girls,” Oswald said when they reached it, “you
must take off your cloaks and all upper garments. Were you
to get these wet you would before morning die of cold. Don’t
lose a moment; undress under the shelter of these bushes.
Now, Roger, let us move a few yards away and then take off
our doublets and shirts and swim across, holding them above
the water. By the time that we are back the girls will be
ready.” :

“T will carry them across, master. It is of no use two of
us going with so light a burden. I shall make nothing of it.”

Oswald made no opposition, and a minute later the shirts
and doublets were made into a bundle and bound on Roger’s
head. He waded into the water until it reached his chin and
then swam out. The distance to be traversed was but some
fifteen yards, and a few strokes of his brawny arms brought
him to the opposite bank. Having laid down his bundle
there he swam quickly back again.

Are you ready, girls?’ Oswald asked.

“Ves,” Janet replied, and two white figures came out from
the bushes, each carrying a bundle.

“Do you go into the bushes again for a minute. We can-
not take you and the bundles over together, and it is better
that you should stand here in dry things than wait in wet
ones over there.”

A minute sufficed to tie the bundles on the heads of the
230 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

two men. They soon swam across to the other side, left
them there, and returned.

“The water is bitterly cold for the girls,” Oswald said, as
they swam across together.

“Tt is, master, but they will only be in it for a minute,
and they will soon be warm again.”

“ Now, girls.”

“We have just heard the sound of horses in the distance,
Oswald,” Janet said.

He listened. ‘Sound travels far this still night,” he said;
they can only just have started. We shall be across long
before they come along. Now, Jessie, we will take you first.
The stream runs strongly, and it were best that you went
over separately. All you have to do is to put a hand on a
shoulder of each of us. Come along.”

“JT will carry her till we get into deep water,’ .Roger
said, catching the girl up in his arms and running into the
stream.

Jessie gasped as the water reached her.

“Tt will be over in a minute,” Oswald said encouragingly.
“Now, we are going to swim; put your hands upon our
shoulders. ‘That is right.”

‘Striking out strongly they easily carried her until she was
in her depth. :

‘«* Now, dear, get ashore and stand behind those bushes, and
take off your wet things and put on your dry ones; we will
have Janet across in no time.”

The girl was carried across as easily as her sister had been.

“Here is your bundle, dear; Jessie has taken hers. Dress
as quickly as you can. Stoop down as soon as you reach the
bushes ; they will be here directly.”

Janet ran to the thicket, and Oswald and Roger threw them-
selves down behind a great stone. Two minutes later they
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IN HIDING 231

could hear the thunder of hoofs go along the road opposite,
but could not make out the figures.

“ How many are there of them, do you think, Roger?”

“A dozen or so, master.”

“Yes, I should think you are right. However, it makes no
difference ; were there ten times as many, they would not
catch us to-night.”

CHAPTER XIV
IN HIDING

Pee moment the horsemen had gone by, Oswald and

Roger hastily dressed again. It was three or four
minutes before the girls joined them.

“We have been a long time, Oswald, but our fingers are so
cold that we could not tie the strings.”

“You will soon be warm; climbing the hill will set your
blood in motion.”

There was no hurry now, they were safe until the morning.

“We will make up the hill until you are thoroughly warm,
and then we will discuss matters.” é

Before they were very far up the ascent both girls declared
that they were comfortably warm again.

“Well, Roger, what do you think our best course will be?
The Bairds have of course sent horsemen along the other road ;
they will have heard from the priest that we have but a i
minutes’ start, and will know that we cannot have gone far.
The party who passed us will doubtless stop at Parton, the
other at the next village higher up, and they will be sure that
either we concealed ourselves as they passed, or have taken to
232 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

the hills on one side or other of the valley. They will natu-
rally suppose that it is this side, as it would be madness for us
to plunge farther into the country to the west, and you may be
sure there will be scores of men out on these hills to-morrow
searching for us, and some of them may ride nearly to Hiniltie
to cut us off there in case we escape the searchers on the hills.
I think that the only plan will be to hide up for a couple of
days or so, then to make our way down again to where the
horses are, and then make a dash through Parton.”

“That would certainly be far the best way,” Roger said ;
“but how are we to manage for food for the ladies?”

“We will go on until we get to the top of the hill, Roger,
and then find a sheltered spot where they can stop. It is of
no use trying to go on much farther, for the night is cloudy
and there are no stars to be seen, and we should lose our way
directly, for there is no wind that would serve as a guide as
to which way we were travelling. When we find a good
shelter we must stop with them, and I will make my way
down to the place where the horses are and warn the men as
to what has happened, and tell them to lie quiet till [ come
again. I will bring back whatever food they may have with
them, a big jug of water, and the four horse-cloths.”

“T will go, master.”

“J would rather go myself, Roger. I am accustomed to
traverse the moors at night, and am sure that I can find this
place again without difficulty.”

On nearing the top of the hill they came upon a number
of rough stones.

“We cannot do better than stop here,” Oswald said; “it
will be bare on the top of the hill. Now, Roger, help me to
pile a few of these stones together so as to make a sort of
shelter.”

They set to work at once, Roger’s strength enabling him
IN HIDING 233

to lift stones that ordinary men could scarcely have moved.
In a quarter of an hour a little inclosure, six feet long by four
wide and three high, had been constructed. An armful of dry
heather was then pulled up and laid on the ground.

“There, girls, I think you will be able to manage to keep
yourselves warm by lying close together.”

“What are you going to do, Oswald?”

“We shall be all right, and we can if we like make another
shelter, and if we feel cold can walk about to warm ourselves.
Now, Roger, get a half dozen sticks and lay across the top.”

While Roger was away getting the sticks Oswald helped the
girls over the wall, for no entrance had been left.

“Now, Janet, give me those two wet smocks; I see that
you have brought them with you.”

«What do you want them for, Oswald?”

“T want them for the roof, Janet; it is beginning to freeze
hard, and it is of no use having walls if you have not a roof.”

“Won't you take my cloak instead?”

“Certainly not, Janet, you will want your cloak for a cover-
ing; don’t be silly, but hand them over.”

By this time Roger had returned with the sticks. They
were laid across the top, and the girls’ smocks spread over
them.

“Now, go to sleep,’ Oswald said; “we must be on foot an
hour before dawn.”

-Oswald then started down the hill for Parton. When he
got within a mile of the town he could see lights moving about
on the road, and guessed that the Bairds had got torches and
were making sure that the fugitives had not hidden themselves
anywhere close to the road, for they must have felt certain that
they could not have reached the town before being overtaken.
When the lights had gone along the road he descended to
the river, took off his doublet and shirt as before, and swam
234 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

over, crossed the road, and was not long in finding the trees
that marked the spot where he was to turn off to the farm-
house. He made his way to the stable, raised the latch, and
entered. A lamp was burning, and the two men sitting and
talking together. They leapt up with an exclamation of
pleasure as Oswald entered.

“We were afraid that something might have gone wrong,
for as I was waiting for you in the road I heard a- body of
horsemen coming along, and hid behind the trees. As they
went by one of them said, ‘We must have passed them long
ago if they came by this road. They had not more than a
quarter of an hour’s start.’ I heard no more, but it suggested
that maybe you had managed to escape with the ladies, and
that the Bairds were in pursuit of you.”

“That was exactly the case. We have got them out of the
hold, and methought that we should have got two hours’ start
at least, in which case they would not have overtaken us be-
fore we had crossed the Liddel at the ford, six miles above
the junction of the Esk with it, and were well on our road
towards Longtown ; but by some accident, I know not what,
the matter was discovered before we had been gone ten min-
utes. As it was certain that they would overtake us long be-
fore we got to Parton, we swam the Esk, and I have left the
ladies on the hill over there in charge of Roger while I came
here. We know that by morning the countryside will be up
and searching the hills, and that with the two lasses it would
be hopeless for us to try and make our way on to Hiniltie,
therefore we decided to hide up for two or three days, then to
make our way down here at night, mount, and ride through.
By that time the search down in the valley here will have
slackened, and we shall get through Parton all right, and our
only danger will be at the ford across the Liddel, where, pos-
sibly, the Bairds may set a guard lest we find our way down
IN HIDING 235

there. I had intended that we should take the four horses,
and that you should make your way to Himiltie across the
hills, but as there will now be no great occasion for speed,
one of you had best ride with us, while the other bears the
news to Hiniltie that we have carried off the girls. You had
better settle between yourselves which shall go with us. You
may take it that there is about equal danger both ways, for
the one that goes to Hiniltie must travel cautiously, as it will be
a week before the Bairds give up the search among the hills.”

«We had best decide by lot.”

Oswald picked up a piece of straw and broke off two frag-
ments, one an inch longer than the other, and, closing his hand
on them, he held the two ends out. “Do you draw,” he said,
holding it out to Fergus; “the longest straw goes to Hiniltie,
and shortest with us.”

The man drew. ‘I have the longest,” he said, “and per-
haps it were best that it should be so, for I know the way
thoroughly, having often been over the hills in search of miss-
ing cattle.”

“ You will both remain here till we come. Now, what food
have you?”’

“We bought a supply in Parton yesterday evening, and
have enough for a week, for we thought that some might be
needed by the whole party on our way, and, moreover, we
care not to go down often to the town, as we might attract
attention.”

“That is good; keep enough for to-morrow for yourselves ;
I will take the rest.”

“There is no need for that. We-can get what we want from
the house, and to-morrow evening one of us will go down into
Parton again.”

“ Or, better still,” Oswald said, give the oo to the hind
here. I suppose there is one?”
236 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Yes; he sleeps in the house.”

« Give him money, then, and a present for himself, and get
him to fetch it for you. Some of the Bairds may remain there,
and-you may be sure that every stranger will be strictly ques-
tioned. I want also the four horse-cloths, which please make
into a bundle. Is your water-skin full?”

“We filled it this afternoon, thinking it possible that we
might make a hasty start to-night.”

“ How much does it hold?”

“ About two gallons.”

“Tt would have been better had it been four. However, we
must manage with it. Now, do you know of any ford across
the river? for I certainly could not swim across with this load.”

“ There is one half a mile farther up. We were asking the
hind about it the other day, thinking that it might be useful
should we have to fly suddenly. I will go down with you;
and indeed I shall be glad to go the whole way with you, for
the provisions and those blankets and the skin will be no light
weight, and as I am going to Hiniltie, it will cheer Armstrong
if I could tell him that I saw his daughters.”

“Jt would be a good plan, Fergus, though in truth the
weight would be no great burden; but certainly Armstrong
would be pleased to know that you had seen his daughters.”

A few minutes later they set out, forded the river breast-
high, carrying the loads on their heads, and then, climbing the
hill, made their way to the shelter, whose exact position Oswald
had marked on starting by a huge boulder that stood on the
crest of the hill some fifty feet above it. Roger was on the
look-out. Seeing two figures approaching when he expected
but one, he grasped his staff firmly.

“Who comes there?” he asked.

“Tt is I, Roger. I have brought one of the men with me
to help carry the things. He is going to Hiniltie, and thought
IN HIDING 237

that Armstrong would be pleased to know he had seen his
daughters. I have got plenty of food, and a skin of water.”

“That is capital,’ Roger said cheerfully. “I was fearing that
having so many things to think of you might forget water.”

Oswald went to the shelter.

“ Are you awake, Janet?”

“Yes,” she replied; “I have been anxious while you were
away.”

“ Are you cold?”

«TI am not very warm,” she answered ; “ but do not trouble
about it, we shall do very well.”

‘¢ T have two blankets here,” he said as he removed the cover-
ing. “One of these I will put over you both, and tuck it well
in each side to keep out the wind that comes in between the
stones. Then I will lay your smocks over that. I wrung them
well before putting them on the sticks, and although I cannot
say they are dry, yet they are not damp enough to matter, and
will help keep you warm. ‘The other blanket I will put over
the sticks.”

«“ Thank you indeed, Oswald,” the girl said gratefully. “ That
feels very much more comfortable.”

«“ Now, Roger, there is a blanket for you, and one for me, to
wrap round us plaid fashion.”

“JT do not need one, master; in faith I have more respect
for this gown than I ever had before — it is wondrously warm,
and with the hood over my head I want nothing more.”

“That is all very well, Roger; if you don’t need it for
your shoulders, you need it for your legs, for being without
hose and with nought but those sandals you must be freezing.
We will walk up and down here for a bit, and do you wrap it
round your legs like a Highlander’s petticoat. When we have
tired ourselves we will lie down and try to get a sleep for an
hour or two.”
238 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

As they walked they talked over their plans, and Oswald
decided that before daybreak he would set out on the search
for a place of concealment.

“T will leave my helmet and breast- and back-piece behind
me,” he said, “and will take your staff. Then ifI am caught ~
sight of by any party in the distance, I shall look like a shep-
herd, while, had I on my iron harness, they would at once sus-
pect me of being of the party, even though I were alone. As
for you, your monk’s robe would be detected miles off.”

“T could leave it behind me,” Roger said.

“You have not much on underneath, Roger, and your bare-
ness in such weather as this would be as noticeable as your
gown. Mind, before it gets light get the ladies up, and carry
our bag of victuals and the water-skin over the crest. You
may be sure that as soon as it is light there will be many sharp
eyes watching the hillside all along here.”

The man who had come up with them had already wrapped
himself in the blanket he had brought with him, had crawled |
in among the bushes, and was, as they could hear by his
heavy breathing, already sound asleep. After a time Oswald
said that, as they had nothing more to settle, he would try
and get a few hours’ rest. There was not the slightest fear
of surprise, and Roger and he were not long before they were
both sound asleep. Oswald woke two or three times, and at
first sign of dawn shook Roger.

“You had better wake the ladies in a few minutes, Roger,
and get them over the crest. Let their man, as soon as he has
seen them, start at once, keeping along behind the ridge, and
warn him not to go down into the valley until he is fully a mile
beyond Parton. Tell him to look carefully along the road
before he begins to descend, and to see that it is clear. Even
then let him hide as much as may be behind brushwood and
rock until he gets down. When he has swum the river let him
IN HIDING 239

make a wide detour round Parton, so as to come down to the
stables without being noticed. I shall not be very long away.
*Tis scarce likely among these hills that I shall find any place
that we can crawl into, and I think we shall have to content
ourselves with lying down among the heather. I must find a
spot where no one on any hill above can look down onus. We
shall be quite safe from any party moving along on the same
level as ourselves.”

Oswald had gone but a little distance when he determined
that no better place could be found than the plateau itself.
This extended for two or three hundred yards from the edge
looking down into the valley. Beyond, the ground sloped
sharply down again into a deep hollow, and beyond it was
broken into rounded swells rising one above another. A party
lying among the heather where he was standing could not be
seen by watchers from any other point. Moreover, it was
most important that all should be in shelter before it was
fairly daylight. He therefore, as soon as it was light enough
to take in the principal features of the scene, hurried back to
his companions.

“We can do no better, girls, than to lie down together two
hundred yards away. Pick your way through the bushes
where they are thinnest, so as not to disturb them; please be
off at once, and choose a spot close to where the ground falls
away on the other side. Roger and I must tumble this shelter
down and scatter the sticks, for if anyone searching the hillside
came along he would guess that we had slept here, and there
would be a hue and cry at once.”

The man had left some time before for the valley, having
gone off as soon as he had spoken to the girls. Oswald and
Roger ran down to the shelter, speedily threw the stones into
a heap, and scattered the sticks; then, after glancing round
to see that nothing had been left, they collected the blankets,
240 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

provisions, and water-skin, and taking up these and Oswald’s
armour ran in the direction that Oswald had pointed out to
the girls. The ground was thickly covered with heather, and
they had to step carefully to avoid pressing it down. They
reached the edge of the plateau without seeing the girls, and
after looking round for a minute or two Oswald called aloud.
He was answered by a merry laugh, and Jessie’s head rose
above the heather. They had indeed passed within five or
six yards-of the girls.

«That is good indeed,” Oswald said, as he lay down beside
them. “If I could not see you when I was sure that you were
quite near, there is no fear of any searchers lighting upon you.
The sun has just risen and a mist still hangs on the top of the
hills,” he went on, “and I am convinced that we cannot have
been seen, for men placed on the watch are sure to be high
up on the hills, and it will be some time yet before the sun
rises high enough to drive away the mist.”

Although it was freezing sharply they felt by no means cold
as they lay wrapped in their blankets, with the heather rising
well above them and sheltering them from a light breeze that
had sprung up at sunrise.

After chatting with the girls for a time, Roger and Oswald
left them, and crawling along on their stomachs got to the
edge of the descent. By this time the sun was well above the
hills, the mist had cleared off, and they had an extensive view.
From time to time they caught sight of groups of three or four
mounted men moving about, searching the vallays, while single
men on foot rambled over the hills.

“They are keeping up an active search, Roger. ’T is well
that we went no farther. They will scarce suspect us of lying
close to the valley we left. I expect the main body has gone
much farther. I have no doubt the Bairds have a couple of
hundred men and boys out. They would call out every man
IN HIDING 241

and boy from their holdings, and most likely get a couple of
score of men from their village, and perhaps twice as many
from Parton. No doubt they will think that if we came in this
direction we should last night have found our way to one of
the tracks across the hills, and it is near these that their search
will be the keenest. Fortunately they cannot know that I am
here, nor guess that it is to Yardhope that we intend to take
them, and not to Hiniltie. Still, they may expect that we
shall try to cross the border, and I fancy we shall scarcely
get through without a fight.”

« All the better,” Roger grumbled. “ My fingers tingle to
bring down this staff on the head of some of the Bairds after
all the trouble they have given us.”

They remained watching until it became dusk, except that
twice during the day they crawled back and partook of a meal
with the girls. The last time they joined them Oswald
said :

“Now, in half an hour it will be quite dark, and then we
can safely get up and walk about for a bit. I am sure you
must feel stiff lying still so long.”

“JT have never kept quiet for so long a time since I can
remember,” Jessie said laughing.

“That shows that you have had no illnesses, Jessie. How-
ever, I shall be glad to get up and stretch my limbs myself.
Half an hour will be enough, and then we will have a good
long night. Another day of it and I think it will be safe to
start.”

The next afternoon they saw a number of parties searching
the hills in all directions.

“T expect they have become convinced that we have not
tried to get straight through, Roger, and are hunting back for
us. It is as well that it will be dark in another half-hour, and

they will then have to give up their search for the night. If
16
24.2 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

there were a couple of hours more light I should feel very
uneasy.”

“So should I, master. You and I would have little chance
of mercy if we fell into their hands. It might well be that in
their anger they might slay the ladies also.”

“That would be like enough, Roger. However, there can
be no chance of their coming here before it is dark.”

At nine o’clock they started and made their way down, with
some difficulty and many slips and falls, into the valley. Then
they kept along near the river, till Oswald was sure they were
close to the ford. He bade them halt here, and went forward
alone. Before he had gone fifty yards he nearly stumbled
against a man.

“Ts it you, John?”

sVessitnis le?”

“Ts all well?”

“It is all well, but I had a fright yesterday morning. The
Bairds searched every cottage and hut over the hills on this
side, and they say their men rode almost as far as Galloway ;
but they gave up the search before they got here, feeling
assured that they must have passed you very soon after you left
the hold, and you could never have got as far down as this.”

“Tis well they did not search, indeed,” Oswald said.
“Your story about the horses might do well enough for those
who have no interest in the matter, but it would never have
done for the Bairds. All has been quiet to-day?”

“They seem to have given up searching on this side. I
hear that they feel sure now the ladies have made for Hiniltie,
and they have had great forces out among the hills, and feel
confident that they must catch them soon.”

“Have you got the horses saddled?”

“They are saddled and brought down close to the road 5
Fergus is with them.”
IN HIDING 243

“Then bring them across at once. The sooner we are off
now the better. Are there any of the Bairds’ men in the
town?”

«“ There are a few of them, but as no one has any idea that
you are like to pass through there, they will not be on the
look-out. Besides, all will have been among the hills from
daybreak this morning, and I expect by this time there is
scarce a soul awake in Parton.”

Oswald returned to the girls, and they went out together
to the ford. In a couple of minutes the men were seen
making their way across, riding two horses and leading the
others.

“We thank you heartily,” Janet said, “ for having so risked
your lives for us, for had you been caught with the four horses,
they would at once have connected you with us, and it would
have gone hard with you.”

«We have been keeping away from the horses yesterday and
to-day, just going to a distance and lying down where, without
being seen ourselves, we could watch anyone who went up to
the farm. We could have done no good, and thought that it
was better, that we should be able to warn you if they had
come and taken the horses away.”

After crossing the river, Fergus at once started on foot for
Hiniltie.

They had already discussed how they should ride, and it
had been settled that at starting Janet should ride the fourth
horse, and that Jessie should ride behind the others by turns.
If an attack was threatened, Jessie was to mount behind her
sister, and they were to take their place between Oswald and
Roger, while their own man rode close behind them. It was
just ten o’clock as they rode through Parton; not a light was
to be seen; the whole place appeared wrapt in sleep. They
went through at a walk, so that if any heard them they would
244. BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

suppose that it was a belated party of the searchers, and
would give the matter no further thought. After riding for a
short distance, they put the horses into a trot. . Four hours
later they halted at the point where the road down the Esk
valley divided, one going to the ferry a few hundred yards
farther on, while the other turned to the left and followed the
bank of the Liddel.

John had inquired about the ferry, and learned that the
ferry-boat no longer plied, as, since the troubles began, there
was so little traffic that it did not pay the ferryman to remain
there. As they had already decided to cross by the ford four
miles higher up, this did not matter. As none of them was
aware of its exact position, they decided to wait where they
were until daylight. Searching about they found a deserted
hut, with a shed adjoining it. The horses were led into this,
and the party then gathered in the hut, and John struck a light,
while Oswald and Roger broke up a fallen gate and the fire
was soon blazing. Although there was not the slightest chance
of anyone travelling the road at this hour, they hung one of
the thick blankets across the window, thus keeping out the
cold air, as well as preventing the light from being seen.
Then the party lay down, the men taking it by turns to stand
guard outside, being relieved every two hours.

As soon as day dawned they again mounted. It was about
four miles’ ride to the point where the road divided, one branch
going towards the river, some seventy or eighty yards away.
Here stood a square building of some size, used as a refuge by
travellers who arrived when the Liddel was swollen and the
ford impracticable. When the riders had come within a few
yards of this building two men, hearing the sound of horses’
hoofs, came out. As their eye fell upon the party they gave a
shout, ran out into the road, and drew their swords. Roger
and Oswald rode at them. Parrying a thrust of one of the
IN HIDING 245

men, Oswald cut him down, while Roger with a tremendous
blow from his staff stretched the other man on the road.

“ Ride on, girls ! we will follow you,” Oswald shouted.

Jessie was sitting behind John, and they and Janet dashed
forward and rode into the water. Oswald and Roger followed,
as six men armed with spear and sword ran out from the house.
Seeing that they were too late, the leader shouted to the others :

“Fetch out the horses and chase them!” and before the
party had gained the opposite bank their pursuers dashed into
the water.

“Don’t press your horses too hardly,” Oswald said, as they
galloped along. “They are too close behind us for us to get
help from any of the small villages, but they dare not follow
us into Longtown, and we have barely a ten miles’ ride.”

They had some two hundred yards’ start, and for the first
four miles held their own; then their pursuers began to gain
upon them. One of the horses was carrying double, and
Roger and Oswald were both heavier than any of the moss-
troopers.

“We shall have a fight for it, Roger.”

“That is just what I was thinking, master. Well, there
are three of us, and as there are only six of them we ought
not to have much trouble. John will be a match for one.
Methinks you and I can each make short work of a man when
they first come up, and with but three of them against two it
will be mere child’s play.”

The road was a narrow one and little used, and when they
came to the foot of a sharp rise Oswald called to those ahead
to stop.

“ Jump down, Jessie, and mount behind Janet, and ride on
ahead; we will soon get rid of these fellows. Be quick!”

The moss-troopers were now but seventy or eighty yards
behind.
246 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“T shall fight on foot,” Roger said, as he leapt off his horse.
“T want both hands for this staff.” Turning his horse, and
bidding John to do the same, Oswald reined back his animal
three or four lengths, and when the Bairds’ party were within
twenty yards, touched it with his spur and dashed at them,
meeting them just abreast of Roger. The first man he met
thrust at him with his spear, but Oswald parried with his
sword, and with a back-handed blow smote the man just under
the chin, and he fell with a crash from his horse. At the same
moment he heard a blow like that of a smith’s hammer, as
Roger’s staff fell upon the steel cap of the first who attacked
him. John was less fortunate, for his opponent’s spear struck
him in the throat, and he fell heavily from his saddle.

“Well stricken, Jock!” one of them shouted. “Ride on
after the women; we will settle with these fellows.”

But before the moss-trooper could obey the order, Oswald,
with a touch of the spur and the bridle, caused his horse to
curvet round, and smote the man so mighty a blow on the
shoulder as well-nigh to sever his arm from his body. As he
wheeled his horse again he was nigh unseated by a spear-
thrust that struck him on the breast-piece ; but, upon recover-
ing, he struck his opponent as he passed so heavy a blow in
the face with the pommel of his sword that he sent him sense-
less to the ground. The other two men had furiously attacked
Roger, but, whirling his staff round his head, he had kept them
both at bay; then the staff descended between the ears of one
of the horses, which fell headlong, and before the rider could
get his foot from the stirrup the staff struck him below the
steel cap, just in front of the ear, and without a cry he fell
dead beside his horse. At that the last of the moss-troopers
turned his horse and galloped off at full speed.

“We have not taken long over that, master,’”’ Roger said
with a grim smile. “ Five men in a minute is not so bad.”
IN HIDING 247

“JT am afraid John is killed, Roger; see to him.”

“ Ay, he is sped,” Roger replied, as he turned the body
over. “The spear struck him full in the throat. That is
what Comes of not. learning to use your weapons. What shall
we do with him?”

« He was a faithful fellow, Roger, and as there is no need
for haste now, we will give him some sort of burial, and not
let him lie here in the road.”

« We have nought to dig a grave with,” Roger remarked.

“No, but there are plenty of stones about.”

He dismounted, and with Roger’s-help carried the dead
man a short distance away, laid him down by the side of a
great boulder, and then piled stones around and over him.

« That will do, Roger; ’tis not like that anyone will dis-
turb those stones for years to come. He will rest as well there
as if he lay in a grave. Now let us look to the others.”

The man he had struck across the throat, and the last
Roger had hit, were both dead. Two of the others were
but stunned, while the one upon whose shoulder Roger’s blow
had fallen was lying insensible, and evidently was fast bleeding
to death.

«We can do nought for him,” Oswald said. “Even had
we the king’s leech here we could not save him. Now let us
be off.”

“Shall we take the horses, master?”

“No, they will be but an incumbrance, and now that poor
fellow has gone, we have one apiece. Bring his horse along
with you.”

Mounting they rode quickly on, and at the top of the hill
came up with the girls, who, having seen the result of the
combat, had waited for them.

“ Now we are safe and free, thanks to you both ” Janet said.
“Jessie looked back and saw the fight as we rode. How
248 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

quickly it was over! But I am grieved indeed that John
has fallen. We saw you carrying off his body and covering it.
Jessie had noticed him fall, and we feared ’t was all over with
him. He was an old retainer of our father’s and a faithful
one.”

“T am sorry indeed that he has been slain, Janet; but we
could hardly expect to come out altogether scathless.”

« Are all the others killed? ” Jessie asked.

“No. ‘Two of them are but stunned, and will ere long be
able to mount and ride off again.”

“Master Oswald has gained the most honours in the fight.
I killed one and stunned another. He has stunned one also,
but has slain two.”

“T had a better arm, Roger.”

“T know not that,” Roger replied. “A quarter-staff of
that weight is a fine weapon. I say not that it is to be com-
pared to a mace, but when on foot I would as lief have it as a
sword.”

“ Now, Jessie, do you mount John’s horse. We can ride
quietly, for Longtown is but some three miles ahead.”

They rested there for a couple of hours, then mounted
again and crossed the Pentlands by a horse-track between
Cristindury and Gele Craigs. Coming down into Tynedale
they put up for the night at the first place they came to. At
daybreak they set off northwards, crossed Reddesdale, and
came down in the afternoon into the valley of the Coquet,
within two miles of Yardhope. Great indeed was the surprise
and joy of John Forster and his wife when they made out the
two girls riding with Oswald towards the hold.

“What miracle is this, lad?’’ the former said, while his wife
was embracing her nieces. “We heard but two days since of
the raid on the Armstrongs, and how the girls were carried off
by the Bairds,”
IN HIDING 249

Here Oswald put his finger to his lips to stop him from say-
ing aught of Jane Armstrong’s death. He had, after dis-
mounting, whispered in his mother’s ear before she had time
to speak to the girls, that as yet they knew nought of their
mother’s death, and that he had left it to her to break it to
them.

“TI have been since scouring the country,” his father went
on, “to try to get my friends to take the matter up, but in
truth they were not over-willing to do so. All know that it is
no slight enterprise to attack the Bairds in their stronghold.
We fared but badly last time we went there, though that was
but a blow and a retreat; but all know that the Bairds’ hold is
not to be taken like a country tower. ’Tis greatly bigger
and stronger than ours, and scarce to be attempted save by
a royal army, especially as the whole countryside would be
swarming round us in a few hours after we crossed the
border. This time, too, it is no quarrel of my people; and,
as they say, the risk would be indeed great, and the loss very
heavy.

“T sent off a messenger this morning to Armstrong, to tell
him that I feared I could not raise more than sixty spears, but
with these I would ride to Hiniltie and join any force he
could collect, and try with him to surprise the Bairds’ hold and
rescue the girls, though it seemed to be a mighty dangerous
enterprise.”

“He will have learnt yesterday morning, father, that we
have carried them off. We could have brought you the news
last night, but to do so we must have ridden fast, and the
girls being with us, we thought it were better to take two
days over the journey, so we slept in Tynedale last night.”

« And how did you manage it? For unless you and Roger
flew into the Bairds’ hold, and carried them off on your backs,
I see not how it could be managed. Why, the place is so
250 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

strong that even the Douglases have not cared to carry out the
terms of the treaty for the arrest of William Baird as a noto-
rious breaker of the truce between the two countries.”

“Tt was because I knew Armstrong deemed that it was
scarce likely a force could be gathered by you and his friends
strong enough to undertake such an enterprise, that we de-
cided to rescue them by strategy. The affair turned out to
be easy enough.”

And he ‘then related in detail the manner in which he and
Roger had obtained entry into the hold and had succeeded in
rescuing his cousins.

“By the bones of St. Oswald, from whom you got your
name, lad,” John Forster exclaimed when he had finished
his story, “you have carried out the matter marvellously well !
Hotspur himself could not have contrived it better ; and I own
that I was wrong, and that that fancy of yours to be able to
read and write has not done you the damage that I feared it
would. Henceforth I will maintain with all my might that
these things in no way tend to soften a man, but on the con-
trary, in some way sharpen his wits, and enable him to carry
out matters with plans and contrivances such as would scarce
be conceived by men who had not such advantage. But why
do we not go inside?”

“T have been keeping you here, father, because I doubt not
that my mother has been breaking the news to the girls of their
mother’s slaughter. I said nought to them about it. They
knew the hold was burnt, and I told them that Allan was
wounded ; but I thought that if I gave them the worst part of
the news, it would throw them into such deep grief as to unfit
them for the journey. It might not have been discovered till
two hours after we had started that they had escaped, and in
that case we should have been mounted before the Bairds over-
took us, and it would have been a ride for life, and the girls
ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 251

would have needed all their strength and courage to keep
them up.”

“Tt was as well so, Oswald, and doubtless your mother will
break it more easily to them than you could have done.
Women are better at such things than men, who are given to
speak bluntly and straight what has to be told.”

CHAPTER XV

ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW

HILE Oswald was talking with his father, Roger had

taken the four horses round to the long shed that ran

along one side of the wall, and had there been telling the

moss-troopers the same story Oswald had been relating to his
father, whom he now joined.

“ Well, friend Roger,” John Forster said, as he came up,
shaking him heartily by the hand, “by my faith my son is
fortunate in having so stout a fellow as his henchman.”

«?T is rather that I am fortunate in having him as a master,”’
Roger replied. ‘I have but to strike as he bids me, and there
is no need for me to think, for my brain bears no proportion
to my bulk; and indeed even in the matter of strength he
bids fair to equal me, for he seems to me to grow taller and
stronger every month, which is not surprising seeing that you
are yourself much beyond the common. — In all this matter
there is no credit due to me, save that I have, as faithfully as
I could, carried out his orders.”

“All men can try to carry out orders, Roger, but it is not
all who can do it with intelligence. Doubtless it has some-
thing to do with the book-learning that you have, and in
which you were his instructor.”
252 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“TI think not that it is so in any way, Master Forster,”
Roger replied quickly, for he liked not the thought that he
had gained any advantage whatever from his stay in the con-
vent. “It might likely be useful to a man of small stature,
whose thoughts would naturally turn to being a scribe, and to
making his living by such finicking ways instead of by bearing
himself as a man should ; but for one like myself ’tis but time
thrown away. Yet I say not that it may not be useful to
Master Oswald, who will some day be a knight and go to court,
and have occasion to write letters when he has no scribe at
hand to do it for him; but a good downright blow is more
advantage to the man that strikes it than all the book-learning
that he can get.”

“I have done well enough without it, Roger; but I think
that it must be of some use, else why is it that Oswald is so
good at devising plans? Had I been in his place when he
heard the news of the harrying of Hiniltie, and the carrying
off of Armstrong’s daughters, I should never have thought of
starting on such an adventure as he did.”

“It may be that it may improve the mind, Master Forster,
just as wielding a mace strengthens the muscles of the arm.
I only speak from my own experience, and so far as I can see
all the hours I spent on these matters have been as good as
wasted.”

“ Nay, Roger,” Oswald, who had been an amused listener
to the conversation, broke in, “you have had evidence but
lately that it is not so. Had you not been able to read the
priest’s missal he would have seen at once that you were not
a monk; but the fact that you did so, and that much better
and more fluently than he could himself have read a strange
manuscript, was to him a confirmation of your story, which
not only enabled us to rescue my cousins, but probably saved
your own skin, to say nothing of mine, for had Baird learned
ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 253

that you were deceiving him, he would as likely as not have
hung us both over the gateway of his hold as spies.”

Roger scratched his head in some embarrassment.

“TJ cannot gainsay it, Master Oswald, though I did not think
of it before, and it is certainly a proof that the time I spent in
learning was not thrown away ; for, as you say, had I not been
able to read that missal, doubtless it would have gone hard
with both of us. Iam not ashamed to own when I am wrong ;
it would not be English or honest not to do so; reading cer-
tainly came in mightily useful there.”

“And you must also remember, Roger,” Oswald said with
a smile, “that if it had not been that you read and wrote
better than most of the other monks, the abbot would not
have picked you out as my instructor, I should not have
asked for you to come with me to Scotland, and Sir Henry
Percy would never have begged the abbot to allow you to go
forth into the world.”

«Say no more, Master Oswald; never again will I say a
word against reading and writing —I see that they are excel-
lent things, and it never entered my thick head how greatly
I have benefited by acquiring them — but will maintain, against
all who say the contrary, that they are of great value, and that
they in no way tend to soften a man, as I can prove in my
own person and also in yours.”

At this moment Mary Forster appeared at the top of the
steps. “Supper is ready,” she said. “I have broken the
news to the girls; they are quite broken-hearted, poor things,
and I have sent them to bed. I suppose you are not leaving
us to-morrow morning, Oswald?”

« No, I shall be off at daybreak the next day. I must not
stay longer, for I ought to have been back three days ago, and
Sir Henry will be wondering what has befallen me.”

Talking the matter over that evening as to what had best
254 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

be done with the girls, Mary Forster said that they had
expressed great anxiety to get back as soon as they could,
in order that they might try and comfort their father and
nurse Allan; and John Forster said that he would ride with
them with four of his men to Hiniltie ina day or two. The
next evening, however, there was a knock at the outside gate,
and on its being opened Adam Armstrong himself entered.

“TI could not rest for thinking of the girls,’ he said, as he
entered the house. ‘ The man arrived safely yesterday morn-
ing, after having, with great difficulty, made his way unobserved
through the Bairds, who had some fifty or sixty men scattered
all over the hills.”

“Do you go to them, wife, and tell them that their father
has arrived. They have been terribly upset,” John went on as
his wife left the room ; “they were only told of the loss of their
mother after they arrived yesterday. Oswald thought that
they would need all their strength for the journey, and that
it were better that Mary should break the news to them when
they got here. We have all felt for you sorely, Adam, since
your messenger brought the news.”

Armstrong pressed his hand silently. “She was a good wife
to me, John, a right good wife. We buried what seemed to
be her remains yesterday morning. It was that that kept me
from starting the moment the man came in with the news that
Oswald had got the girls out of the hands of the Beis: me

“And how is Allan? ”

“JT trust he will get right now; he has come a to his
senses, though he is still dazed. We had him carried in a
litter to the monastery where I obtained the rnonk’s robe for
your man, for I feared to leave him in the village lest the
Bairds, furious at the escape of the girls, might return to finish
their work.”

He was about to speak to Oswald when the door opened
ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 255

and the girls ran in, and it was some time before Adam Arm-
strong again turned to him.

* Now, lad,” he said, “do not think because I am a long
time coming to the point that I think lightly of the service
you have rendered me. Ah, lad! I could scarce believe my
ears when Fergus told me that you and your henchman had
got the lasses out of the Bairds’ hands, and had gone off on
horseback with them. I had to put the question again and
again as to whether he was sure that it was really the girls you
had’ with you. It seemed to me to be altogether impossible ;
but I had to believe him at last, though how it came about he
could not tell me.”

“We had no time for talking,” Oswald said ; “ every moment
was of importance. But the matter was simple enough and
worth but a few words’ telling.” And he then related the
manner in which he and Roger had obtained entrance to the
hold, and had succeeded in getting the girls away.

“It sounds simple enough in the telling,” Armstrong said ;
“but it. needed stout hearts and good nerves to enter the
Bairds’ den on such an errand. You carried your lives in your
hands, and well must you have borne out your story to have
passed without suspicion. It was well thought of indeed, and
well carried out, and would have done credit to the boldest
and craftiest leader on the border. What say you, John?”
. “Iam proud of him, Adam. As for myself, I should never
have thought of such a plan. IfI had had the matter in hand
I might have taken twenty stout fellows and tried to scale the
walls unseen, and to fall upon them with spear and sword, and
in the confusion carry the girls off; but it would have been a
desperate plan with but small hope of success.”

«Small indeed, John, small indeed,” Armstrong said, shak-
ing hishead. ‘With prisoners in the hold the Bairds were not
likely to be caught sleeping, and had they been, accustomed to
256 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

surprises as they are, the whole garrison would have been afoot
in a minute, and not a man of ye would have lived to tell the
story. Some such mad thought passed through my brain when
I first heard the news, but it was not for long. Even with
your spears and others you might gather, and all my friends in
‘Tweeddale, we should have had but a small chance of captur-
ing the Bairds’ hold. We should have had all Annandale and
Nithsdale down on us before we could have done it. At any
rate we should have had to bide our time, and wait until
the Bairds were away to England with all their dalesmen ;
and by that time none could say what would have become of
the girls. In fact there was but one way of doing it, and that
is the way Oswald hit upon. Well, lad, I fear I shall never
have an opportunity of repaying the debt I owe you; but after
this there is not an Armstrong on the border, on our side or
yours — for we are half English and half Scotch — but will hold
you as among our closest of kin, and will give you welcome
and aid whensoever you may need it. And where is your
man Roger?”

“T will call him,” Oswald said, and, stepping to the door, he
shouted to his follower, who came out at once from one of the
outhouses occupied by the retainers of the hold.

“Come up, Bonet !”? Oswald said; ‘* Master ASmISHONS
wishes to see you.”

Roger caine up, and as he entered Adam grasped him by the
hand. “Whenever your time for fighting is over, my brave
fellow, remember that there is a home for you at Hiniltie so
long as an Armstrong dwells there. I thought when I fetched
that monk’s gown for you that you and my nephew Oswald
might be able to gather some news, and let me know possibly
how the girls were faring, but little did I think that alone
and unaided you would rescue them from the hands of the
Bairds.”
ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 257

“Tt was a merry business, Master Armstrong, and pleased
me hugely, save that it went against my heart to have this
bald patch on my head again just when the hair had so well
grown and covered it; but it was well-nigh as good as fighting
to trick the Bairds in their own hold, when they, as they
thought, were so mightily sure that I was but a harmless
brother of a monastery. For the rest it was an easy business,
and scarce worth talking of.”

“Tt was done easily because it was done well, Roger ; it was
well planned and well carried out.”

“T had nought to do with the planning, and the carrying
out was simple enough. There were those there who tested
me as to my knowledge of Dunbar, and of the monastery I
came from, and who further tested my knowledge of reading.
Once assured that my story was true they paid no further
attention to me, believing that I should stay but a day or two
to rest myself on my way south.”

“You had occasion, however, to use that heavy staff you
carried.”

“Some slight occasion, but I would that I had had the
chance to have used it on the heads of some of the Bairds.
For what little I did, Master Armstrong, your daughters thanked
me very prettily and more than enough, and therefore, I pray
thee, say no more of it. And how is your son?”

. “He is going on well, and both Meg Margetson and the
monks, in whose hands I have put him, say that they hope
he is out of danger.”

The next morning Oswald and Roger mounted soon after
daybreak and rode to Alnwick. It had the night before been
arranged that the girls should, for the present, remain at Yard-
hope until the hold at Hiniltie was repaired and put in a state
of stronger defence. It was agreed, too, that it was as well
that no word should be said by Armstrong on his return as

17
258 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

to the whereabouts of his daughters, as the Bairds might then,
in their anger, make an attack on Vardhope; whereas at
present they could have no reason whatever for suspecting
that they were there, and, if they obtained news that they were
not with their father at Hiniltie, would suppose that they had
been lodged with some of the family elsewhere, or perhaps
placed for safety in Jedburgh.

“T had wondered what had become of you,” Hotspur said
when Oswald entered his apartments to report his return. “TI
expected you two or three days since, and I indeed wanted
you for other business.”

“Tam sorry, my lord; but after having fulfilled the orders
you gave me to the governors of Roxburgh and Jedburgh I
became engaged in an affair of my uncle, Adam Armstrong,
of so pressing a character that I deemed you would excuse
me when you heard its nature.” And he then briefly related
how he had been occupied since leaving Jedburgh.

“Tis a good excuse indeed,” Hotspur, said, “and you must
tell me more of it this evening, when the earl and my wife can
also hear it. As to the business I spoke of, it is of no conse-
quence at all; it was but to carry a message to the Earl of
Westmoreland. This I have now sent by another hand.”

The winter passed quietly. Oswald’s work was light. He
more than once rode home for a few days, and once paid a.
visit to Hiniltie. Here a number of men were at work. The
exterior walls had in no way suffered, and the shell of the
central building had so far resisted the fire that it was not
necessary to rebuild it. The roof and floors had been replaced ©
and the defences considerably strengthened. A portcullis had
been placed above the door, so that in case of the outer wall
being carried or the gate forced it could at once be lowered.
A projecting battlement had been thrown out over this, with
openings below through which boiling lead and pitch could be
ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 259

poured on an enemy trying to break in. Flanking turrets for
archers had been built at each corner of the house, and the
exterior walls had been strengthened by towers in the centre
of each face and on either side of the gateway.

“We shall be safe now, I think, Oswald,” said Allan, who
had almost recovered. ‘The place can hardly be taken by a
sudden attack, even by all the forces the Bairds could bring
against it, and we could get help from Jedburgh long before
they could gain even the outside wall. My father and I are
going in a fortnight to fetch the girls. I rode over there a
week or two since, and found them looking very well and
happy with your people ; but of course they are anxious to get
back again, especially as you are so seldom at home.”

“Tf you will fix the day before I go, I will try to be there to
meet you. I suppose, as soon as spring sets in fairly, we shall
be having troubles again, and it is certainly as well that Janet
and Jessie should be at home again before they begin; for al-
though Yardhope is strong enough to resist any attack by the
Bairds, or any other border rangers, it can scarcely hold out
against a regular invasion.”

Four days after his return to Alnwick, Oswald was sent for
by Percy.

“The Scots do not seem to be moving yet,” the latter said,
“but Glendower is ever increasing in strength and boldness.
I have received startling news this morning. A party of
‘Welshmen were seen near Ruthyn, and Earl Grey with a body
of mounted men rode out against them. They retired at once,
and he, briskly pursuing, fell into an ambush and was captured.
’T would have been thought that Glendower would have put
his chief enemy to death at once, but it was not so, and it is
said he holds the earl to ransom. Glendower has plenty of
men, but no doubt needs money sorely. He can draw no
revenue from his estates in Denbigh, and those in South Wales
260 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

cannot suffice for the expenses of feeding the body of men
always under arms. Doubtless he will ask for a great sum and
"tis like that he will get it. Grey is a favourite of the king,
and the latter will doubtless aid him, for he needs his services
to hold Flint and Denbighshire against the Welsh. Moreover,
methinks that the king would, for another reason, make every
effort to buy Lord Grey’s freedom, for it is no secret that he
has no great love for Mortimer; for although he holds the
young Earl of March a prisoner at Windsor, he cannot forget
that the lad is the rightful heir to the throne, and that the
friends of Richard would place him there had they the oppor-
tunity. Mortimer is the boy’s uncle, and, not only from. his
own estates, but as guardian of the young earl’s wide posses-
sions in Hereford and in Shropshire, is a very powerful
noble. ,

“The king has no real reason for doubting him, for I know
that Mortimer has no thought of supporting the Earl of March’s
claim to the throne, having held with the rest of the kingdom
that Henry, who is wise and politic, is a far fitter ruler than the
lad could be. Doubtless Henry is well aware of this, but he sees
that when the young earl grows to manhood he might become
dangerous and might supplant him, as he supplanted Richard.
Thus, then, I have no doubt the king will use every effort to
obtain the release of Lord Grey, in order that he may act as.a
counterpoise in the Welsh marches to the influence of Mortimer.
However, that is not now the question. It is evident by this
daring deed of Glendower that he will be busy this year, and
the success of his first attempt will assuredly add to his follow-
ing. Therefore, as the Scots are at present quiet, I would that
you ride again to Ludlow, and sojourn there a while.

“Sir Edmund sends me but scant news, and I would fain
know more closely how matters are going there, and how great
this insurrection is like to grow. It may well be that the
ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 261

Scots, seeing how powerful Glendower is becoming will enter
into agreement with him, that while he invades the west coun-
try, they shall pour across the border with all their forces, in
which case we should be hard pressed, for the king’s power in
the south might be fully engaged against the Welsh, and we
should have to battle with the whole strength of Scotland alone.
Therefore write at length, giving me full reports of the talk of
the country as to the bearing of the Welsh, not only beyond
the border, but those settled in the west counties. You will, of
course, take the fighting monk with you, and he can aid you in
this matter, being a good scholar though a bad monk ; so when
you are weary of holding the pen, you can dictate the matter
to him. I will send two well-mounted couriers with you, and
will have relays of horses placed on the road, so that you can
despatch me a letter once a week, and they will also of course
carry any letters Sir Edmund Mortimer may wish to send.”

“Very well, Sir Henry. Shall I start to-day?”

“ Nay, the matter is not so urgent as all that.”

“ Then I will ride to-morrow morning.”

“Good. I am well pleased with you, Oswald. That affair
in which you rescued your cousins showed that you have
discretion and ability as well as skill and courage, and you see
the knowledge that you gained at the monastery is coming in
useful to you now. As a mark of my approbation, I will order
that one of my war-horses shall be saddled and be in readiness
for you in the morning. The steed that Mortimer gave you is
a good one, but you have need of another, for one may fall
lame or be killed or wounded, and ’t is well to have a second
string to the bow. Moreover, riding as you do in my service,
’tis but meet that I should provide you with horseflesh. I
marked you on your horse to-day, the one you rode when you
came here, and in truth you have outgrown it altogether, and
though I doubt not that the sturdy little beast would even yet
262 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

carry you for a long day’s journey, ’tis scarce in accordance
with your position as our representative.”

Oswald thanked Hotspur heartily for the gift, for he himself
had felt that he needed a second charger, but had been re-
luctant to ask his father for the money required to buy one,
for the expenses of repairing the hold after the last Scotch
invasion had been heavy, and gold was a scarce commodity at
Yardhope. He started at daybreak the next morning, riding
the fine horse Hotspur had given him. Roger rode behind
him, and was followed by the two lightly-armed men who were
to act as messengers. One of these led Oswald’s second horse.
As soon as they had left the castle, Oswald called Roger up to
his side.

“Well, Roger, I dare say you are as pleased as I am that
we are on the move again. °Tis nigh five months since we
returned from Ludlow, and save for our adventure with the
Bairds we have had a quiet time since.” ;

“Think you there will be work with the Welsh again,
master?” .

“I think so indeed, Roger. They say that Glendower’s
forces are greatly increasing, and he has captured Lord Grey
and holds him to ransom. The king must regret now that Par-
- liament refused to listen to Glendower’s complaints because he

had been one of Richard’s men, and. had perhaps spoken more
hotly than was prudent touching the king’s murder.” ;

“ But they say that Richard is still alive, and that he is with
the Scots.”

“They may say so, Roger, but think you that it is likely?
The king’s figure was well known to hundreds of men. Why
does he not show himself? Even in Scotland there are many
nobles who, during the truces between the kingdoms, have

_ been to London, and have known King Richard, and had this
man been he, they would have recognised him at once. Be-
“‘T AM WELL PLEASED WITH YOU, OSWALD.”


ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 2638

sides, think you that when the king had Richard caged in Pom-
fret there was any chance of his getting free again? It may
suit Albany at present to set up some puppet or other in order
to cause uneasiness to Henry, and to render Richard’s friends
here unwilling to obey the orders of the king, and to take the
field against the Scots; but had he been Richard, ’tis not in
Scotland that he would have shown himself, but in France,
where he would gladly have been received as Anne of Bo-
hemia’s husband, and would have had aid and support to urge
his claims.”

“ Well, master, I care not what takes us to Wales. At any
rate, I am glad to journey thither, for it seems at present as if
there only is there a chance of giving and taking hard knocks.
How is it that you do not take a party of men-at-arms, as you
did last time?”

“‘ Mortimer has plenty of men without them, and the hand-
ful that Percy can spare would be of little use. I am going
principally because Hotspur is anxious to be kept well in-
formed of what happens in the west, for he feels sure that if
Glendower’s power increases it will be needful to send a strong
English army there. The Scots will make a great invasion,
and it will behove all the northern counties and lords to hold
themselves in readiness.”

They travelled fast, and in five ‘aye after leaving Alnwick
arrived at Ludlow.

“ Welcome back again, Master Oswald!” Sir Edmund said
when he arrived. “I thought that maybe Sir Henry Percy
would send you’hither. Matters here are becoming serious,
and ’tis said that there have been. Scotch emissaries with Glen-
dower, though for the truth of this [cannot answer; but Percy |
will certainly wish to know well what passes in the west, and _
I am but a poor hand with the pen, and, moreover, too.
much busied to write often. He knows that right well, and
264 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

I doubt not you are instructed to inform him of all that
passes.”

“You are right, Sir Edmund ! it is-for that purpose that he
has sent me hither, charging me to write to him frequently
as to the situation and the power of Glendower, which must
needs be on the increase, since nought has been done to bring
him to reason. And I have also his commands to place myself
at your service, and to obey you in all respects as if I had
been your squire.”

“J shall be glad for you to ride with my knights,” Sir
Edmund replied courteously. ‘I have not forgotten that you
did good service last year, and trust that you may find oppor-
tunity for winning your spurs.”

“I shall be glad indeed to do so, Sir Edmund. May I ask
where Glendower is supposed to be at present?”

“He has his head-quarters on the summit of Plinlimmon,
a great hill on the borders of Montgomery, and thence ravages
and plunders all the country round him, slaying all who are
supposed to be attached to the English cause. Unfortunately
he meets with but little resistance, for the castles have for the
most part been suffered to get into a bad state, since fora hun-
dred years it has seemed that they would no longer be required
against the Welsh, who appeared to have become as peaceful
as the people in our own counties. Many of the knights
have built themselves more convenient houses, and have let
the castles become almost ruins. Then, too, the garrisons,
where garrisons are kept, are for the most part composed
of Welshmen. ‘These can be no longer trusted, and it is no
easy matter to obtain Englishmen in their places, for so great
is the terror caused by the slaughter by Glendower of those
who fall into his hands, that few even of adventurous spirit
would at present care to leave their homes beyond the Severn
to take up such desperate service. Glendower’s movements
ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 265

are so rapid that there is no notice of his coming, and it is not
until he and his band suddenly appear, burning and slaughter-
ing, that any know of his approach.”

“ Surely it must be difficult to victual so large a force on the
summit of a mountain?”

“Tt would assuredly be so, only he keeps but a hundred and
fifty chosen men with him. But, were his beacon fires to be
lighted, there would in a few hours be ten thousand men on
the mountain. Then again, as the whole population are with
him, were I to start with five hundred men from here, the
news would reach him by means of smokes on the hills before
I had marched five miles away. *T is a warfare in which there
is no credit to be gained and much loss to be sustained, and I
see not that with anything less than an army large enough to
march through Wales from end to end, burning the towns and
villages, and putting to the sword all who resist, the affair can
be brought to an end.

“Tt was only thus that Harold brought Wales to reason,
and that so strongly that it was two generations ere they
ventured again to cross the border. It was so that Edward
finally stamped out their rebellions, and methinks that the
work will have to be done again in the same manner. So far
from doing good, the king’s invasion last autumn has but
encouraged them, for, though so numerous, his army effected
nothing, and showed the Welsh how powerless the troops were
to enter the mountains or to take the offensive anywhere save
on level ground.”

.Oswald’s life at Ludlow differed in no way from that at
Alnwick. He took his meals at the high table, sitting below
the knights with Sir Edmund’s squires. He practised arms
with them, tilted in the court-yard of the castle, occasionally
rode out hunting and hawking with a party of knights and
ladies, helped to drill the bodies of tenants who, a hundred at
266 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

a time, came in to swell the garrison. Sometimes he carried
Mortimer’s orders to the governors of the castles, or rode with
a strong party into Hereford or Radnor. A short time after
his arrival Montgomery was taken by storm by Glendower,
and all Englishmen and Welshmen suspected of friendship for
the English slain. Shortly afterwards the suburbs of Welsh-
pool were burnt by him, to the great loss of the Earl of Powys,
whose annoyance was all the greater since most of his own
tenants were under arms with Glendower. Following hard
upon these pieces of bad news came word that he had fallen
upon the Abbey of Cwmbhir, six miles from Rhayader, in Rad-
norshire, which he entirely destroyed. The news caused great
indignation, and the reason for this sacrilegious act was warmly
discussed at the castle.

“The reason, methinks,’ Sir Edmund said after he had
listened to the knights for some time, “is twofold. In the
first place the ecclesiastics for the most part, and the monks
of all the orders save the Franciscans, favoured King Henry
against Richard; but the chief reason is the long animosity
between the Church and the Bards, of whom Glendower is a
great patron, and who have done him great service by stirring
up the people with their songs. The bards have ever been
foremost in instigating insurrections in Wales. Edward I.
attempted to suppress them altogether, and his edict for exe-
cuting them by martial law is still unrepealed, and they dare
not venture to show themselves in any castle or town held by
us. But they have to a man rallied round Glendower., His
house was always open to them, and he was even distinguished
by some Welsh name meaning the protector of the bards.
Now, after being hunted fugitives for so many years, they
have no doubt used their influence with him to stir him up.
against the religious houses.”

But a heavier blow still was struck by Glendower, and the
ANOTHER MISSION TO LUDLOW 267

feeling at Ludlow was nothing short of consternation when
a fugitive arrived from the town of New Radnor, saying that
the strong castle there had been carried by assault, the garri-
son of threescore men all beheaded, and the town laid in ashes.
This was the heaviest blow yet struck by Glendower. The
castle was of ‘great strength, and the town had been walled by
the Lords of the Marches. That such a place should have
been carried by Welsh kerns seemed well-nigh incredible, and
the execution of the whole of the garrison aroused the most
lively indignation.

“This is war to the knife indeed,’ Sir Edmund Mortimer
said; “and yet, abhorrent as is this wholesale murder of the
garrison, I cannot but own that it is a politic step on the part
of Glendower. The news will spread throughout Wales, and
if so strong a place as New Radnor could not defend itself,
how can lesser castles hope to do so? —nor, indeed, will gar-
risons care to man the walls, since resistance means death.
Doubtless there were many Welsh among those men who were
murdered, and you may be sure that their compatriots in other
castles will hasten to desert and join Glendower.”

This indeed proved to be the case, the garrisons of the
castles dwindled away, and hold after hold fell without resist-
ance. Even in Ludlow every precaution was taken; all
Welshmen were expelled from the town, and the garrison was
. also purged of them, although some of the men-at-arms had
served for many years. These men were told that after the
troubles were over they should again be taken into the service
if they chose, but that in the present state of things one traitor
might endanger the safety of the castle and town; and that as
it was impossible to tell who were true men and who had
been corrupted by Glendower’s agents, it was necessary that
all should suffer, even if innocent. Among the tenants of
Mortimer’s estate and those of the young earl were many
268 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

Welsh. Against them no measures were taken. They and
their fathers, sometimes indeed three generations of them, had
lived peaceably, and had rendered military service when re-
quired in the troubles of England, and Mortimer was reluctant
to treat them harshly, especially as all declared their readiness
to serve and prove their devotion to their English lord.

“They are not sufficiently numerous,” he said, “to be a
source of any danger. Were Glendower to invade England in
great force doubtless they would join him to save their lives
and those of their families, but being but one to four or five
of the English tenants I see not that they can be a source of
danger to us.”

CHAPTER XVI
A LEITER FOR THE KING

LARGE number of Flemings had settled in Wales, having
left their own country in consequence of the constant
troubles there, and many of these had set up cloth-mills at
Welshpool and other places. Having suffered great destruction
of property at the hands of Glendower, and seeing no hope of
the insurrection being put down by the English, they resolved
to take the matter into their own hands. Fifteen hundred of
them gathered secretly and surrounded Glendower in one of his
mountain intrenchments. He repulsed their attacks, but the
situation was desperate; provisions ran short; he was unable
to summon help, and at last determined with his little body
of followers to endeavour to cut his way out through the
besiegers.
The attack was sudden and fierce. The Flemings, who,
A LEITER FOR THE KING 269

knowing the smallness of his force, had made no preparations
to repel an attack, were seized with a panic at the fierce ap-
pearance and the wild cries of the Welsh, who fell upon them
with such fury that two hundred of the Flemings were slain,
and the Welsh cut their way through the beleaguering line.
The news of this feat was received with immense enthusiasm
throughout the principality, great numbers flocked to Glen-
dower’s standard, the bards sung songs of his victory at every
village in Wales, and so formidable did his position become
that the Lords of the Marches wrote to the king, saying that the
matter had gone altogether beyond them, and that his presence
with an army was urgently needed. Even in Ludlow extra
sentries were placed upon the walls, the garrison was kept in
a constant state of vigilance, and mounted men were stationed
miles out to bring in the news of the approach of any hostile
force.

“°T is a thousand pities,” Sir Edmund said, when the news _
of the defeat of the Flemings reached him, “ that these fellows
did not send news to me a day or two before they undertook
this business, for in that case I would have myself headed a
force of a couple of hundred of my best men-at-arms, and
joined them at some spot in the mountains, and had we been
there you may be sure that Glendower would never have
fought his way out. The F lemings are doubtless stout fighters,
as they have proved over and over again in their own country,
but they are all unused to mountain warfare, or to fight with
wild men, and were doubtless scared by the shrill cries with
which the Welsh always advance to battle. Doubtless, too,
these men Glendower keeps with him are his best fighters, and
they knew that if they did not succeed in making their way
out no mercy would be shown to them, seeing that they have
shown none themselves. Had the battle been on a plain I
doubt not that the Flemings would have stood against many
270 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

times the number of Welshmen that Owen had with him; but
this hill warfare was altogether strange to them, and of course
they had not the habit of quickly rallying and meeting the
attack that is second nature with our men-at-arms. The
affair is serious, and unless the king comes hither with an army,
Glendower is likely to have it all his own way on his side of
the border, and ere long there won’t be an Englishman left
west of the Severn.”

However, Henry, when informed of the danger, lost no time
in assembling another great army, and in the beginning of June
advanced into Wales and ravaged a wide extent of country,
carrying his arms into Cardiganshire and destroying the Abbey
of Strata Florida, one of the most venerable and famous abbeys
in Wales. Founded in 1164, it was burnt down in 1294 dur-
ing the wars of King Edward I. with the Welsh, but was soon
rebuilt. Here Llewellyn in 1237 convened all the chieftains
of Wales to take the oath of allegiance. There were two
copies of the national records, one of which was kept at this
abbey, and the other at that of Conway. The abbey having
fallen, Henry’s army met with scarcely any resistance, Glen-
dower knowing that his wild followers were no match for the
royal troops; he therefore contented himself with harassing
them continually, and the army suffered greatly by this contin-
ued annoyance, as well as from fatigue and famine. ‘Thus the
king returned across the border without having achieved any
success whatever.

The Lords of the Marches were not now ordered to contri-
bute any troops, but were to hold their castles strongly, lest,
when the army was fairly entangled among the mountains,
Glendower should make a great incursion into England. The
only advantage gained by the. English invasion was that the
king, by promises of pardon and rewards, drew away a number
of the leading men who had hitherto acted with Glendower.
A LETTER FOR THE KING 271

Their defection, however, was more than made up by the en-
thusiasm excited by the spectacle of the second retirement of
a great English army without having effected anything of im-
portance.

So evident was this that in October Henry again advanced
with the contingents of no fewer than twenty-two counties.
‘The season, however, was already unfavourable for operations,
and after enduring great hardships and suffering, the army
again fell back, having effected even less than the two which
had preceded it. Things, however, turned out fortunately for
Oswald. The army had advanced a week across the border
when a messenger arrived at Ludlow with a letter from London
for the king.

«Tt will be no easy matter to forward it,” Sir Edmund said,
as the despatch was handed to him. “Indeed, I see not how
it is to be done. Beyond the fact that the king intended to
march west, I know nothing whatever of his intentions or of
the exact road he was likely to take. His orders were strict
that we were to keep our forces well in hand, and to send the
letter forward would need two hundred men at least as an
escort. It places me in an awkward position indeed.”

“If it so please you, Sir Edmund,” said Oswald, who was
one of the group standing round when the messenger handed
the letter to Mortimer, “I will endeavour to carry the despatch
for you. Methinks that while fifty men would not succeed in
getting through to the army, two might perchance manage to
do so. I shall of course ride first to Shrewsbury, through
which the king passed, and so follow up the course he took.
There should be no great difficulty in doing that, for the
march of so great a body of men must have left many traces
behind. They will doubtless have harried the country for
some distance each side of the line they followed, and it is not
likely that I should meet any of the Welsh until I was near the
272 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

army. Then, of course, great caution would have to be used,
for it is like enough that there are parties of Glendower’s men
hanging on its skirts to cut off stragglers, and plunder any
waggons whose horses may have fallen by the way.”

“°Tis a terribly dangerous service,” Sir Edmund said
gravely, “but in truth I see no other way of forwarding this
letter, which, for aught I know, may be of high importance.
But if this'is a desperate enterprise, it is also one that will
bring you great credit if safely carried through. I will myself,
if you go, give you a letter to the king, saying that you have
volunteered for this desperate undertaking from your loyalty
to his person, and because it is possible that the letter may
contain matter of the highest importance to him and the realm
in general. I shall add that you have already greatly distin-
guished yourself in service against the Welsh, and are the trusty
esquire of my brother-in-law, Sir Henry Percy.”

“T quite feel, Sir Edmund, that the enterprise is a danger-
ous one, but I am, nevertheless, determined, with your permis-
sion, to undertake it. My henchman and myself have together
gone through dangers as great, and may pass through this as
well.”

«JT will give you my answer in half an hour, Master Oswald,
when I have talked it over with my knights, and heard their
opinions as to whether any better plan can be devised.” ©

Oswald bowed and retired, and seeking out Roger, told him
of the offer that he had made.

“Well, master, if you are bent upon this enterprise you will
not find me backward; and indeed I am so sick of this six
months of idleness, and of seeing others marching to Wales to
fight while we do nothing here, that, by St. Bride, were you
to ask me to go into Glendower’s stronghold and pluck him
by the beard, I would willingly go with you.”

Oswald laughed.
A LETTER FOR THE KING 273

“’Tis not so bad as that, Roger, and yet ’tis a service of
great danger. How think you that we had best set about it,
on horse or- on foot?”

Roger looked surprised at the question.

“Tt would surely be better to go on horseback, master, for
if we met too many Welshmen to fight, we might at least ride
away from them.”

“There is truth in that, Roger; but, on the other hand, our
feet will carry us up and down mountains and fells where our
horses could not go. If mounted we must travel by beaten
tracks, and might be seized by parties of Welsh lurking in
the woods before we knew of their presence. Without horses we
could ourselves keep within shelter of the trees, and could so
evade the observation of any who might be stationed on
lofty hills to watch if any body of troops were following the
track of the army. Moreover, we should have no trouble
about forage and water for our steeds.”

« Enough, master, I see which way your inclinations lie; and
as my legs have had a long holiday, it is but right that they
should carry me for a bit, and assuredly ’tis easier for footmen
to hide than it is for horsemen.”

TT should say, Roger, that it would be best to leave armour
as well as horses behind. If we are attacked by numbers our
armour will serve us but little, while if without it, we may be
- able, even if chased, to avoid the hands of these Welshmen.
They say that they are swift of foot; but, as we can hold our
own with the Northumbrian border men, we ought to be able
to do so against these Welsh, especially as our legs are nigh a
foot longer than those of the greater part of them.”

“Very well, master. I myself have no great love for travel-
ling in armour, and would almost as soon march in a monk’s
gown again as in breastplate and back-piece.”

“Very well, so we will arrange it. We shall have to carry

18
274 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

our provisions, for you may be sure that we shall get no-
thing whatever while we are following the army. They will
strip the country clean. You know how terribly they have
suffered by famine on the two previous expeditions, and it will
assuredly be no better now. Food, however, we can procure
at Shrewsbury, from which point we shall take our start.”

A retainer at this moment came out from the hall and
informed Oswald that Sir Edmund would speak with him.
When he entered Mortimer said:

“My knights and I agree that this letter ought to be sent
forward to the king, for if it contains matters of importance
great harm might result from delay, and the king’s anger be
excited against us for not having sent it to him. His orders
to me were strict, that neither I nor any of my force should
join him; therefore I accept your offer with thanks. Have
you formed any plan for your proceeding?”

Oswald repeated the substance of what he had said to Roger.

“T think, perhaps, you are right,’’ Mortimer said, “and that
you may have more chance of getting safely through on foot
than if you rode with but a small force to escort you. When
you are ready to start I will speak to you in private, touching
some things connected with your journey.”

When Oswald returned, Mortimer said to him, “You see,
Master Oswald, the position is by no means simple. There
can be no doubt that the king regards me with no favourable eye.
He holds my nephews in his keeping, and doubtless imagines
that I bear him ill-will. As their uncle, he supposes that,
should at any time a party be formed to place the Earl of
March on the throne, I should be the leader in the matter,
though assuredly I have never given him any reason to doubt
my loyalty. I say not that I approved of the deposition of King
Richard, and indeed I have not, like Lord Grey and many other
nobles, among them the Percys, been a warm supporter of
A LETTER FOR THE KING 275

King Henry’s cause. I hold myself altogether neutral in that
matter. I saw that nothing would be more ruinous for the
country than that a boy like my nephew should mount the
throne ; and hada party been formed to make him king instead
of Henry.I would have taken no share in it. Nevertheless,
there is no getting over the fact that by right the Earl of
March is King of England, and there is no saying what may
come about in the future; but assuredly at the present time
I am as ready to do my duty towards King Henry as are:
those who are louder in their expressions of attachment to
him.

“ Nevertheless, I am well aware that the king distrusts me.
As you see, he has not, these three times that he has invaded
Wales, come near Ludlow; he has not summoned me to join
his banner; nay, more, has strictly ordered me not to send a
man-at-arms to join him. I own that this letter troubles me
somewhat. Why should it not have been carried to Shrews-
bury instead of being brought hither ? It has, indeed, come
from London, and those who sent it may not know that the
king would move by Shrewsbury and not by this line, which
would indeed be more direct for him in advancing into Mont-
gomery and Cardiganshire; on the other hand, it may be a
snare. If I send it not forward, he might blame me greatly
for holding it back ; if I send it forward, and perchance it falls
on the way into the hands of the Welsh, he might harbour
‘the thought, even if he did not accuse me openly, of con-
niving with Glendower. One pretext is as good as another,
however unlikely it may be, when a king desires to make a
quarrel with one of his vassals. Your offer to carry it is
then a very seasonable one, and goes far to get me out of the
difficulty.

“Tn the first place, by sending it by you I afford no ground
for him to say that I have disobeyed his orders to send no one
276 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

of my following to his army; and in the next place, whatever
suspicion he may have of me, assuredly he can have none of
the Percys, to whom he so largely owes his crown; and that a
trusted squire of Hotspur should be the bearer of the letter is
sufficient proof that all that could be done was done for its safe
carriage. Should you fail to deliver it, he can at least not put
it down to any fault of mine. Sir James Burgon and Sir Philip
Haverstone both offered to carry it, urging that the danger
should fall on them and not upon you, who are still an esquire,
and have no duty towards me in the affair, and that it were a
shame that they should remain here idle while you rode per-
haps to your death.

“Assuredly my feelings were with them, and were it not
for the circumstances in which I am placed, I should certainly
intrust the enterprise to them; but on my laying the whole
matter before them, and pointing out that the coming of two
of my knights to him would be a breach of the king’s orders,
they saw that since you were willing to undertake it, it were
best that it should be so. I doubt not that Henry would not
unwillingly fasten some quarrel on me; he has his army at
hand, and did he march hither, he could seize my lands and
those of my nephew and partition them out among his friends,
for I am in no condition to strike a single blow in my defence.
We know well enough that when a king wishes to get rid of
one of his nobles, there is never any great difficulty in finding
a pretext for his arrest and execution.”

“T quite understand, Sir Edmund, and for my part I will
assuredly do my best to place this letter in the hands of the
king. I shall say that, being of Sir Henry Percy’s household,
and knowing that my lord would be glad that I should have
the opportunity of striking a blow under the king’s leading,
I volunteered at once, when the letter arrived, to bear it to
him, and that, seeing his majesty had laid his orders on you to
A LETTER FOR THE KING ih

keep all your force in readiness to repel Glendower, should he
issue out in this quarter, you granted my request that I should
be its bearer.”

“That will do well, Oswald. I know that the danger is by
no means small, but I trust that you may surmount it. I shall
send off a letter to-day to Hotspur. Doubtless you will your-
self be writing to him, and explain to him why I have suffered
you to undertake so dangerous an enterprise.”

Two hours later, Oswald, having despatched the messenger
to Hotspur with his own letter and that of Mortimer, mounted,
and with Roger rode to Shrewsbury. Here he was able to
gather but little news as to the present position of the army.
For four days no messengers had arrived from the king. The
last news was to the effect that the army was marching forward
through Montgomeryshire. On first starting they had made a
long march to Welshpool, and thence had proceeded to New-
town. On the way the Welsh had rushed down from the hills
and had fallen on the baggage, slain many of the drivers, and
killed so many horses that it had been necessary to leave some
of the waggons behind. __

At Newtown they halted, and parties had been sent out in
all directions to harry the country, while a part of the force
left at Welshpool marched upon Llanfair. This was the last
news that had come through from the king. But from Welsh-
pool they heard next day that there had been several skir- -
mishes with the Welsh, and that heavy rains had made the
roads all but impassable. No more messages had come.
This was not surprising, as it was certain that the Welsh would
close in behind the army as it advanced; and as there would
be no great occasion to send news back, the king would not
care to weaken himself by detaching escorts of sufficient
strength to make their way down.

“ If we could have been sure which way the king had been
278 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

going, Roger, it would have been much shorter for us to have
made direct for Llanidloes.”

“ Certainly it would, Master Oswald ; but you see he might
have turned more to the north, in which case we should have
perhaps been unable to gather news of his whereabouts,
while we should have run no small risk of getting our throats
cut.”

“Tt is evident, Roger, that the king is marching at present
in the direction of Plinlimmon. No doubt he hopes that
Glendower will come down and give him battle, but methinks
he will not be foolish enough to do so. The weather and the
hills will fight far better for him than the Welsh themselves
can do, and he has but to leave the army to wander about
through the mountains and forests, as he did last time, to
ensure that they must ere long fall back.”

At daybreak the next morning they set out and rode to
Welshpool. ‘This being a walled town, and the population
almost entirely English, they could leave their horses here in
safety. They first went to the governor’s, and upon Oswald’s
explaining that they were the bearers of a letter for the king,
and asking whether he could give them any information as to
the direction they had best take, he shook his head.

“No news has come hither for the last five days,” he said.
«A herd of bullocks arrived here three days since, and were
to have been forwarded on to the army, but the Welsh are out
in force and every road beset. Parties have come down from
the hills overlooking us, and have fired several houses that
escaped when they last attacked us. My force is sufficient to
hold the town against any attacks, but I cannot spare so many
men as would be required to convoy the cattle. I told the
king so before he went on, but he said that no Welshman
would dare show himself when the army had once passed on,
and that every Welsh house and village would be destroyed
A LETTER FOR THE KING 279

and all within them put to the sword, so that I should have no
difficulty in sending forward cattle and other supplies.

“That the villages have been destroyed I have no doubt,
for the messengers who came in from Llanfair told me that as
they passed over the hills they could see smoke rising from
the forests in all directions; but whether the inhabitants
remained quietly awaiting the arrival of the troops is more
than doubtful. There were beacon fires on all the hills the
night before the army left Shrewsbury and again on the next
night. Since then we have seen no more from here, but those
who came from Llanfair told us that they were burning on
every hill the night they got there, so I have no doubt that
the old men, women, and children were at once sent off, prob-
ably to shelter in the Plinlimmon district, or mayhap in the
forests of Cader Idris; at any rate, we may be sure that very
few will be found at their villages. It was so the last time the
king’s army marched along, and the same when he made his
way through Denbigh to Anglesey.

“The Welsh care little for the burning of their houses;
it takes but two or three days’ work to rebuild them. The
harrying of the villages will not bring the matter a day nearer
to a conclusion. It is by destroying the castles and houses of
the better class that an effect will be produced. The peasants
have little to lose, the Welsh gentry have houses and estates,
and the fear of losing these may drive them to abandon
Glendower and to come over to us. Many did so after the
king’s last invasion. Methinks the best policy would be to
spare the villagers and give the peasants no cause for com-
plaint, and to war only against theirleaders. But as to yourself,
sir, there is not the most remote chance of your getting through,
and you had best wait here until the army returns or some
levies who may have arrived late at Shrewsbury come up on
their way to join the king.”
280 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“TJ inquired at Shrewsbury last night, sir, but I heard that
no more parties were expected, the contingents from all the
counties having joined the king at Worcester on the day
ordered. My intention is that I and my man-at-arms will
leave our horses here and go forward on foot. In that way we
can travel for the most part through the forests, and may escape
being seen. We have already left our armour behind us at
Ludlow, so as to be able to move more rapidly. We are both
Northumbrians, and are accustomed to traverse moors and
fells, and even should we be seen by any straggling party of
the enemy, we shall have a fair chance of outrunning them
and throwing them off our track. At any rate it is my duty to
endeavour to carry the letter to the king.”

“Ts it a matter of life and death?”

“That I know not, sir. A royal messenger brought it from
London to Ludlow. He had ridden with relays of horses, but
had no means of getting farther, and begged Sir Edmund
Mortimer to forward it. I myself, an esquire of Sir Henry
Percy, was staying as a guest with Sir Edmund, who is, as
you know, my lord’s brother-in-law, and I volunteered to carry
it, being anxious to have an opportunity of doing service to
the king.”

“Tt was a bold offer, young man, and doubtless when you
made it you were scarce aware how dangerous was the business
that you undertook. Did I think that it would be of any use
I would furnish you with twenty men-at-arms to ride with
you, but I know that such a force would in no way add to
your safety. You might get as far as Llanidloes or Llanfair,
whichever route you might choose, though I think not that
you would do so, but beyond that it would be hopeless for any
force of less than five hundred good fighting men to attempt to
make their way through. From what I hear there are at least
fifteen thousand Welshmen in arms. Many, doubtless, are
A LETTER FOR THE KING 281

with Glendower himself, the rest will be scattered among the
hills ready to pounce upon any party who may be moving up
the valleys to join the king; and there are plenty of places
where a couple of hundred men could check the advance of
an army.”

“Then it is all the more necessary, sir, that we should trust
to good fortune and to making our way unseen. May I pray
you to take care of our horses till we return to claim them?
Should we never do so there are doubtless many upon whom
you could bestow them; and they are both rarely good
animals, for one was presented to me by Sir Henry Percy and
the other by Sir Edmund Mortimer.”

“I will take care of them willingly. If you do not return
before the king marches back, and I find when he comes that
you did not reach him, I will use the horses myself, holding
them always as your property should you at any time return
to claim them. Is there aught else that I can do to help
you?”

“No, sir; what would of all other things be most valuable to
us would be a guide, but from what I have seen and heard
of the Welsh I fear that no reliance whatever can be placed
on one of them.”

“Certainly not at present; did you take one he would but
slip away at the first opportunity ; and there is no Englishman,
sq faras I know, who could guide you through the mountains.”

“In that case, sir, we must perforce travel close to the
roads so as to be sure that we do not wander from the track,
but keeping in the shelter of the forest.”

“That is the only possible course,” the governor agreed ;
“to be lost among those hills would be certain death. If you
failed to fall in with anyone you would die of hunger ; if you
did meet anyone you would be killed 3 Glendower spares no
Englishman who falls into his hands.”
282 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“T don’t know that he can be greatly blamed for that, sir,”
Oswald said with a smile, “seeing that the Welsh meet with
such scant mercy from us.”

“Tis a savage war,” the governor said, shrugging his
shoulders, “and it seems to me that it will continue until the
last Welshman is exterminated.”

“That will be a difficult thing indeed to effect,” Oswald
laughed, “as difficult as was the extermination of wolves in
England; but I hope that matters will arrange themselves
long before that. Surely in time the Welsh leaders will see
that the struggle is a hopeless one, and that they will lose
their homes and their possessions and their lives if they con-
tinue it. Brave as the Welsh may be, they cannot withstand
the whole strength of England. They may exist in the forests
for a time, but, with all the valleys and fertile lands in English
hands, they will at last be forced to submit.”

“Tt would seem so; but Edward said the same thing of
Scotland. He carried fire and sword through it time after
time, and yet Scotland has still its king and holds its own on
the border.”

“That is so, sir; but Scotland is a large country, whereas
Wales is a small one, and the towns and castles are English,
as are all the ports, and the people themselves, although
brave, are wholly without discipline, and are able to fight only
in the mountains, while the Scots are strong enough to give
battle to us on level ground, and have defeated us more than
once.”

“My advice to you is to leave the town at night,” the
governor said as Oswald rose to leave. “There may be
many of the Welsh lying round us now, and doubtless they
learn from their countrymen here all that is doing. I will give
you a scroll ordering that you are allowed to pass out at any
time by night or day.”
A LETTER FOR THE KING , ' 283

«Thank you, sir. I had intended to start to-morrow morn-
ing two hours before daybreak, so as to get well into the
forest before sunrise. I shall, of course, go first to Llanidloes,
where doubtless a strong guard will have been left. As far as
that I cannot well miss my way, as I shall have but to keep
along the side of the valley.”

“ That is so. Beyond that the river is a mere streamlet,
and you will have to make across the hills.”

“ Do you know, sir, whether the force that went to Llanfair
was to effect a junction with the king?”

“No, I believe not; at any rate not for the present. The
party was to march west, the king’s force was to move south
of Plinlimmon, Lord Talbot’s to cross the range of hills and
come down upon the river Dovey, and if possible prevent
Glendower, if he is still on Plinlimmon, from making his way
to Dinas Mowddwy or Cader Idris, or up to Snowdon again.
The plan is doubtless as good as another, but I doubt whether
Talbot’s force, if ten times as numerous as it is, could prevent
Glendower from slipping away.”

That evening Oswald bought a supply of bread and meat
sufficient to last Roger and himself for three days. This was
divided in halves and placed in bags which would be slung over
their shoulders. The horses had already been sent up to the
castle, and after sleeping for a few hours the two left the
town, and, turning to the right, ascended the hill. Oswald
carried his sword and dagger. Roger, in addition to these,
had a heavy oaken quarter-staff. “This,” he said, “may be
of service in mountain work, and may suffice to crack the
skulls of any half-dozen Welshmen we may fall in with.”

Both had put on plain leather jerkins and cloth caps, and
wore, underneath theit own, suits with the Percy cognisance
embroidered on them, in order that they might present them-
selves in proper attire should they arrive at the king’s camp.
284. ° BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

The weather was already becoming cold, and the double suit
was therefore not uncomfortable. As the dress of the Welsh
in the towns and valleys was very similar to that worn by
English villagers, they would attract but little attention should
they have cause to take to the road for any short distance.
Keeping within the edge of the belt of trees, they followed the
valley down past the ruins of Montgomery, and passed New-
town without entering it. Many times during the morning
they heard loud shouts from the woods in which they were,
answered by similar cries from the other side of the valley,
and were obliged to move with great caution, for it was evi-
dent that a considerable number of Welsh were in ambush in
the woods in readiness to attack any party who might be pro-
ceeding up or down the valley.

Towards noon they were obliged to leave the edge of the
forest and to ascend to the brow of the hills, as it was certain
that any parties of the enemy who might be in the forest
would be assembled near its edge in readiness to pour suddenly
down. More than once they heard voices but a short distance
away, and paused for a time to allow parties of men to cross
ahead of them. ‘Their greatest danger lay in crossing the side
valleys, but as the Welsh would be expecting no one to come
down these, they succeeded in crossing without being observed.
They were well content when, just as night was falling, they
came down upon Llanidloes. Crossing the wooden bridge
over the stream they entered the town boldly, for, looking
down upon it, they had seen many men in armour in the
streets, and knew that the place was occupied by the English.

At the gate at the end of the bridge they were asked their
business, but they replied that they could only answer that to
the officer commanding, and were taken before him.

«Whence come you, friends?” the latter said. “ Surely you
must be English by your height, but what you are doing here
A LETTER FOR THE KING 285

in times like the present I know not. Come you from the
king’s army or from the north?”

“We left Welshpool before daybreak,” Oswald said, “and
have travelled through the forest.”

“Then you must be as bold as you are tall, sirs, for the
woods are full of these wild Welsh.”

“Of that we are aware, sir, and we had some difficulty in
making our way through them unobserved. I would not
answer the guard when we entered, for we are going farther,
and had it been mentioned in the hearing of a Welshman,
news might have been sent on ahead.”

“T think not that you can reach the king. When we last
heard, his foremost divisions were marching forward, and
devastating the country on both sides of their line of march.
We have heard reports that some of the parties have been
attacked and well-nigh destroyed, and certain it is that Glen-
dower’s men are scattered all over the country. We were
three days without news, but this morning a strong party
came in escorting sick and wounded. ‘They had to fight
hard, but beat off their opponents, and got in with the loss
of a third of their number. They had started at night, and
fortunately arrived within five miles of here before they were
attacked.”

« And where is the king now, sir?”

“The king himself is at Capel Bangor, and the army lies
between that place and Yspetty Cynfyn.”

“Then ’tis but a day’s march from here?”

“Tt would be but a short day’s march could you follow the
road, but it would be impossible to do so, for ’tis beset every-
where, and ’tis so rough and hilly that in places the men-at-
arms had to dismount. You will have to wait here till a large
force sets out with provisions, for those who came in declare
that they will not attempt to return, so great is the number
286 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

of Welshmen along there and so fierce and reckless are they.
But you have not yet told me who you are, and why you
would push on to the army thus rashly.”

Oswald opened his jerkin and showed the handsome attire
beneath it, embroidered with the Percy cognisance. “Tam
an esquire of Sir Henry Percy,” he said, “and have been stay-
ing for a while with Sir Edmund Mortimer, whose sister is my
lord’s wife. A royal messenger arrived at Ludlow with a
letter for the king, and as there was no other way of bringing
it forward, I volunteered to carry it with my man-at-arms
here.”

“Tt was a brave offer, young sir, but I fear that you will
scarce be able to carry it into effect. The men who came
here report that it is unsafe to stir a yard from the camp, for
those who wander away, for however short a distance, are sure
to be slain by the lurking Welshmen. No resistance is offered
when strong parties go out, but less than two hundred men-at-
arms cannot hope to move unattacked.”

“Tis for that reason that I have come on foot,” Oswald
said. “I saw that it would be hopeless for two horsemen to
get through, but on foot we may travel through the woods
without being discovered ; while if we are seen, methinks it
would need speedy feet to catch us.”

« Well, since you bear a royal letter I cannot stop you, but
it seems to me that your chance of getting through is small
indeed.”
KNIGHTED 287

CHAPTER XVII
KNIGHTED

HE rain was coming down in torrents when Oswald and
Roger started the next morning. On leaving the town
they turned to the left with the intention of making a consid-
erable detour, keeping well away from the road, as it was near
this that the Welsh would be most likely watching. They
- chose this side because to the right of the road the country was
more broken, rising swell after swell towards Plinlimmon, and
it was likely that the largest portion of the Welsh would be on
that side, so that they could at any time retire to their fast-
nesses. They were soon in the woods; the streams they met
with were turbid and full to the brim.

“We shall have trouble with this water, Roger,” Oswald
said, as they waded across one waist-deep. “This is but a
little stream, but if there are larger ones, as is like enough, we
shall have to swim before we are done. ‘There is one advantage
in such weather as this, even the Welsh will scarce be active.”

« They have not got much clothing to wet,’ Roger said.
“Their dress is better suited than ours for such weather.”

The way was a rough one. Hills, although of no great

-height, had to be crossed, and many streams to be waded.
Fortunately they met with few larger than that they had first
crossed, for the water from that’ side of the hills made its way
for the most part direct into the Severn, while that which came
down from the slopes of Plinlimmon towards the road fell
into a stream, dry in fine weather, but now a raging torrent,
which ran past Llandulas and into the Severn at Llanidloes.

“Do you think that we are going right, Roger?’ Oswald
said, after they had been walking for six or seven hours, “ for
288 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

what with these ups and downs and turnings and windings,
there is no saying which is east and which is west. If the
sun were shining we should be sure of our direction, but with
these dull leaden clouds there is no saying.”

“T have no idea, master. If we were out on a moor we
should be able to judge and to make a fairly straight course,
keeping the wind and rain on one side of us, but in this thick
forest, though most of the leaves have fallen, those that remain
on the branches break up the rain, and it seems to come
straight down upon us.”

Presently they came to another water-course.

“Why, Roger, the water is going in the other direction!”

“So it is, master. How can that be?”

“Tt is just possible that we have crossed some dividing point,
and the water is making its way towards the south and will
fall into some other river; but I am very much afraid that the
real explanation is that we have entirely lost our way, and are
going in the opposite direction to that in which we started.
The question is, shall we cross it or shall we follow it down?”

“Just as you like,” Roger said.“ For myself, I think that
the best way would be to find some place where we could
shelter. To-morrow the sun may be out again, and that will
tell us which way to go. If we start at daybreak and keep it
to our back we can’t go far wrong.” ;

“Except that we may pass the army altogether, Roger.
They told us that the rearmost division was not more than ten
miles ahead.”

«We must have walked double that already, I should say,
master.”

«Not so much as that. We have been a long time over it,
but it is slow travelling over this broken ground and _ thick
wood. Iam sure I hope that we have not gone twenty miles,
or anything like it, for in that case, if we have been keeping
KNIGHTED 289

fairly in the right direction, we must have passed the army.
If we have been going in the wrong direction there is no
saying where we may be. Still, I think that your suggestion
is a good one. It is of no use our going on when we may
be getting farther away at every step. It is lucky that we
bought these thick cloaks at Welshpool, for without them we
should have been soaked to the skin hours ago.”

** Well, as we have been wetted to the waist a score of times
in the streams, I don’t see that it would have mattered much
if the rest of us had been wet through.”

“Well, now let us look for a shelter.”

After searching for half an hour they found a spot where a
wall of shaly rock barred their way. At one spot some of
this had fallen in, forming a sort of shallow cave some three
feet deep.

“This is not a bad beginning, Roger, but we must try and
make it a great deal more snug.”

They first cut down some young fir poles and placed them
so as to form a sort of pent-house against the wall. On these
they piled a number of branches of the same trees until it
was over a foot in thickness.

“So far so good,” Oswald said. “ Now, Roger, look about
for a fallen tree. We have passed scores on our way. You
must get a thoroughly rotten one, and cut away a portion of

.the under side ; it will be dry enough there.”

“You might get a little of that to start with,” Roger said ;
“but the ground is covered everywhere with fir cones, and
there is no better stuff for fires.”

Taking off his cloak he laid it down, and they both piled
the fir cones on this until a great heap was collected. This
they carried into their shelter through an opening they had
left in the pent-house.

“We must have something dry to start it with; these

19
290 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

cones are a great deal too wet to burn without a good heat
to start them. ‘There is nothing better than the fir needles,
master, if we can find some dry ones.”

After some searching a considerable number of these needles
were collected, some lying under fallen trees, and others
swept by the wind into rocky corners, where the rain had not
reached them.

“ Now I think that we shall do, Roger.”

As soon as they were inside, Roger produced a large lump
of dry fungus he had found on the other side of the Severn,
and, by the aid of his flint and steel, soon succeeded in
striking sparks upon it. As soon as these began to spread,
he put a little pile of fir needles on it, and, blowing gently,
bright flames soon darted up. A few more handfuls of fuel
were added, and fir cones placed at the top, and in a quarter
of an hour a clear, bright fire was burning. The dripping
cloaks were hung up to the fir poles to dry, and the jerkins,
which were also damp, although the water had not penetrated
through them, were spread near the fire.

“Tt was well that I bought this little skin of wine last
night,” Roger said. “You thought it was better to be without
such a burden, but the weight of a gallon of wine doesn’t
count for much, and it makes all the difference in our com-
fort here.”

The rain had soaked through their provision bags, but the
bread and meat in the centre were dry, and of these they
made a hearty meal, and, laying the wetted food round the fire
to dry, they wound up the repast with a long draught of wine.

“Now, as soon as our breeches are dry, Master Oswald,
we shall be thoroughly comfortable.”

“Yes, one can wish for nothing better. But we must not
forget that some Welshmen may come along, and if so, will
be sure to want to know what is inside.”
THINK WE SHALL DO, ROGER.”


KNIGHTED 291

“Then, unless there happen to be more than a dozen of
them, their curiosity may cost them dear,” Roger said grimly. -
“T don’t think there is much fear of it. We have neither seen
nor heard of any since we started, and it would be evil fortune
indeed if a party happened to come along just at this spot.”

“The fact that we have heard no one is a bad sign, Roger,
for it would seem to show that we must have gone a long way
out of our course.” :

The rain continued to fall heavily all that afternoon and
throughout the night, and no change of the weather was
discernible the next morning.

“We had best stop here for another day, Roger, unless the
sky clears ; we are not likely to find so good a place for shelter,
and it is of no use to wander about when every step may be
taking us farther away. However, we can climb up to the top
of this hill, at whose foot we are, and endeavour to get a view
‘over the country.”

Roger shook his head. “In this heavy mist we should not
see a quarter of a mile away. We have got all our clothes dry
now, and it would be a pity to get them wet again without
need or profit. Anyhow, we will find some more of those fir
cones,. our supply is nearly gone.”

In half an hour they had got sufficient to last them all day.
There was nothing for them then to do but sleep, one or other
-keeping watch, so as to prevent the chance of their being
surprised.

Before lying down for the night, Roger looked out. “ Me-
thinks that the rain has stopped, though it would be difficult
to say, for the drops keep pattering down from the trees.
Well, I mightily hope that it will bea fine morning.”

Oswald was first upon his feet, and, on going out uttered an
exclamation of satisfaction. The morning was breaking, and
though light clouds were moving across the sky glimpses of the
292 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

blue were visible here and there. Already the light showed
where the sun would presently rise. Food was hastily eaten,
and they then started on their way again. There could be no
mistake now as to the general direction ; and, keeping the sun
on their right hand, they made their way north. From the
top of a hill somewhat higher than the others, they caught a
view of Plinlimmon.

“Tf we make straight for it,’ Oswald said, “we ought to
come down on the road near the camp. We can go on fear-
lessly for some time, for the Welsh were hardly likely to be
moving about yesterday or the day before, and I have no
doubt they sheltered themselves as best they could in arbours
like ours.”

After walking for another two hours they heard the distant
sound of a trumpet.

“That cannot be more than two or three miles away, Roger.
Now we shall have to be careful.”

They had walked a mile when, as they descended into a
glen, they came suddenly on a party of twenty Welshmen sit-
ting round a fire. These had been concealed from them by
the thick undergrowth, and were not twenty yards away when
they first saw them. The Welsh had evidently heard them
coming by the rustle of leaves and the breaking of twigs, and
two or three were standing up looking in their direction
when they caught sight of them. These gave a loud yell, which
brought the rest to their feet.

“ Run, Roger, run ; it is a question of legs now; ” and turn-
ing, they darted up the hill they had just descended. Looking
back for a moment as, after running for about a mile, they
reached the crest of a swell, Oswald saw that five of their
pursuers had distanced their comrades, but were no nearer
than when they started.

“T think we can hold them, Roger. Take it a little more
KNIGHTED 293

easily now. We are all right as far as speed goes, it is simply
a question of bottom.”

Their pursuers, however, still stuck to them, and after run-
ning for another half-mile the five men were still but some
thirty yards behind, while their comrades’ shouts could be
heard through the forest, and from time to time the men close
behind them joined in a loud quavering cry.

“We must stand and rid ourselves of these fellows, Roger,
or we shall have half the Welsh nation down on us.”

“So I have been thinking for some time.”

“Don’t stop suddenly. We will slacken our pace, and they
will think that our strength is failing, and will redouble their
efforts. Then when they are close to us we will turn sud-
denly.”

They heard a yell of exultation as their pursuers found that
they were gaining upon them. “Choose a clear space, Roger,
with room to swing our weapons.”

The Welsh were running in a close body but ten yards
behind them when they arrived at a spot clear of trees.

“Now, Roger!” As he spoke, Oswald drew his sword and
swung round facing his pursuers, while Roger did the same.
The Welsh, taken by surprise, endeavoured to check themselves,
but before they could do so Roger’s staff fell upon the head
of one of them, while Oswald cleft another to the chin. With
the quickness of an adroit player with the quarter-staff, Roger
followed up his blow by almost instantaneously driving the
other end of the staff with all his force against the chest of
another who was at the point of leaping upon him, and the
man fell as if struck with a thunderbolt. So swift had been
the movements that the remaining two men were paralysed by
the sudden fall of their companions, but before they could
turn to fly the weapons descended again with as fatal result
as before,
294. BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“To the right!” Oswald exclaimed, and he dashed off into
the forest again at a right angle to the line that they had before
taken. A minute later they heard an outburst of yells of
fury from the spot they had quitted. ©

“JT don’t think they will be quite so ready to follow now,”
Roger said. ‘They are like to be some time before they take
up our track again.”

“ We will break into a walk in a few minutes, Roger, and
then go along quietly and keep our ears open. Their yells will
be bringing others down from all directions, and we might run
right into the middle of another party if we kept on at this
rate.”

In another five minutes they dashed down a steep descent,
at whose foot a streamlet, swelled now into a rushing stream
five or six feet wide, was running.

“We will follow this down,”’ Oswald said as he stepped into
it. It was a little over two feet deep, and they waded along
it for a couple of hundred yards and then stepped out where

. some rock cropped out by the side of the stream. It had not
yet dried after the rain, and their feet therefore left no marks
on it.

«That was a sharp run, Roger,” Oswald said, as with rapid
but stealthy steps they strode along.

“Ay, it was. My breath was coming short when you. gave
the word to stop. Another half-mile would have finished me.
Those Welshmen run well.” i

“JI have no doubt we should have beaten them easily
enough on the open ground, Roger, but they are more accus-
tomed to this forest work than we are. Mind where you
tread, and don’t put your foot on fallen sticks. There must
be scores of them in the forest behind yet, though I don’t
think that they have struck our track. The nearest must
be a quarter of a mile away. I am not afraid of their over-
KNIGHTED | 295
taking us, it is the risk of eine in with other parties that
I am afraid of.”

They now bore away to the right again. More than once
they heard parties moving near them, and stood quiet until
their voices died away, which they quickly did, as all were
hurrying towards the spot whence the shouting still continued.

For an hour they kept straight onward, and then the trees
thinned ; and as they stepped out from the edge of the forest
they saw, to their delight, a few tents in front of them, and
a large number of soldiers scattered about. As they were
seen, some of the soldiers caught up their arms, but when
they saw that but two men were approaching they laid them
down again, and proceeded with the work on which most of
them were engaged, in polishing up their arms and armour,
whose brightness had been grievously dimmed by the rain.
A sub-officer with four men came up to them as they reached
the line.

“Who are you, sirs?” he asked.

“TI am an esquire of Sir Henry Percy, and have brought
hither a letter for the king.” The man looked doubtfully at
him, and Oswald continued, “I know not whether the Earl of
Talbot is in the camp, but if so he will, I think, recognise
Mess

“The earl arrived with five hundred of his men yesterday,”
the officer said with a tone of more respect than he had before
used ; “T will take you to his tent ;’’ and he led the way toa
tent pitched a short distance away from that before which the
royal standard waved. Oswald took off his cloak, which was
rolled up over his shoulder, and handed it to Roger, and then
opened his jerkin. As they came up to the tent the front
opened and the earl himself came out.

“Whom have we here?” he asked the officer.

“They have just come out of the forest, my lord, and this
296 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

gentleman asked to be taken to you, saying that you would
recognise him.”

The earl looked scrutinisingly at Oswald. “I seem to know
your face, sir,” he said, “ but I cannot recall where I have.
seen it.”

“My name is Oswald Forster, an esquire of Sir Henry
Percy. I joined you at Chester, my Lord Talbot, with a band
of his men, and some of Sir Edmund Mortimer’s, led by one
of his knights.”

“T remember now,” the earl said. “Yes, I see you wear
the Percy badge; but how have you got here, and why have
you come?”

*T come as a simple messenger, my lord. A royal courier
arrived at Ludlow, with a letter from London for the king.
His majesty had laid his commands on Sir Edmund Mortimer
that he was not to weaken his force by a single lance, and as,
for aught Sir Edmund knew, the letter might be of great im-
portance, I volunteered to endeavour to carry it through,
taking with me only this man-at-arms, on whom I could wholly
rely, whatever might happen, he having accompanied me on
more than one dangerous expedition. Sir Edmund consented.
We rode first to Shrewsbury to obtain information as to the
course the king had taken. At Welshpool we left our horses
behind us, thinking it easier to make our way through the
woods on foot, seeing that the roads were said to be beset by
the Welsh. So we reached Llanidloes, and then hearing where
the king was then posted from a convoy of wounded that had
been brought in that day, and who had been attacked and
very hardly treated as they came along, we thought to make a
detour through the woods so’as to get behind any Welshmen
who might be watching the road.

“Unfortunately in the storm of rain, having no guide, we ~
lost our way, and were so detained near two days in the forest.
“KNIGHTED 297

This morning the weather having changed and the sun come
out, we learned the direction that we must take. On the way
we fell in with a party of some twenty Welshmen who pursued
us hotly ; we outran all but five. As their shouts would have
brought large numbers upon us, we stopped and slew them,
and though search was hot for us we succeeded in making our
way through without adventure, until we came out from the
forest close by.”

“Truly it was an adventure of great peril,” the earl said,
“for the Welsh are swarming round us, though we see nought
of them when we are once in the saddle. Assuredly you
would never have got through, even as far as Llanidloes, if
you had followed the road on horseback, for the last party that
came along brought word that the Welsh had felled trees across
it in many places, and had broken down the bridges. It
was a gallant exploit, sir. I will myself take you in to the
king.”

Oswald took off his jerkin.

“Tam but in poor plight to show myself before his majesty,”
he said as he handed it to Roger.

“Ah! IT remember this good fellow,” the earl said. “He
is not one easily forgotten, for ’tis seldom one sees so stout a
man-at-arms. As to your dress, ’tis nought, and indeed it
is in better order than most in camp, for the soldiers have no
tents, and have for the last forty-eight hours been over their
ankles in mud and water. Have you been with Mortimer ever
since we harried Glendower’s valley? ”

“No, my lord, I returned after that to the north, and was
at Alnwick for nine months. Then Sir Henry sent me back
again to Ludlow, in order that I might keep him well informed
of the extent of this rebellion, concerning which but few tidings
came to him.”

They had by this time arrived at the entrance of the king’s
298 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

tent. The two sentries on duty there stood back and saluted
as the earl entered, followed by Oswald.

“This, sire, is a messenger, one Master Oswald Forster, an
esquire of Sir Henry Percy’s. He had been sent by his lord
to Ludlow to keep him acquainted with the extent of this re-
bellion. Some few days since a royal messenger reached the
town with a letter for you, as doubtless in London they cannot
have known which way you were marching, and directed it
there, so that it might be forwarded to you thence. Sir
Edmund, having your royal order not to send any force away,
would have been at a loss how to forward it, deeming that it
would need a strong body of men-at-arms to penetrate to you,
as he knew from what had happened on the two last expedi-
tions that the Welsh, being unable to oppose your advance,
would swarm behind you so as to prevent reinforcements or
convoys of provisions from reaching you. He was, therefore,
doubtful as to what course to adopt, when this gentleman
volunteered to carry it to you; and this he has accomplished,
attended by but a single follower. Knowing that he could
only hope to reach you on foot, he and his man-at-arms left
their horses at Welshpool, and have made their way through
the woods on foot, not without adventure, having lost their
way in the storm, and having slept in the wood for two days
and killed five Welshiien, scarcely escaping a crowd of others
as they came in.’

“ A very gallant deed, sir,” the king said to Oswald as the
latter bent upon one knee and handed the letter to him. “ By
Our Lady, it was no slight thing to venture through the woods,
swarming with these wild Welshmen. How long have you
been an esquire to Percy?” E

“Over three years, sire.”

“I met Master Forster at Chester,” the earl said. “He
commanded a score of Percy’s men, and rode with us when we
KNIGHTED 299

captured Glendower’s house. The knights with him told me
that he and his little band had done excellent service in the
fight when the Welsh made’ their first irruption, and that Sir
Henry Percy had written in the warmest terms to Mortimer,
saying that the gentleman stood high in his regard, and that
he had the most perfect confidence in him, and had selected
him for the service since he was able to write well, and could,
therefore, communicate freely with him as to the troubles on
the Welsh border.”

« And have you been at Mortimer’s ever since that time?”
the king asked. :

Oswald noticed that each time Mortimer $s name was men-
tioned the king’s brow was somewhat clouded.

“Not so, your Majesty. I returned to the north with
Percy’s men a few days after the capture of Glendower’s house.
I came back to Ludlow in the spring.”

“Why did Sir Henry Percy despatch you there again?” the
king asked sharply.

“From what he said, sire, it was because he was anxious to
know whether the rebellion was growing, fearing that there
might be some correspondence between Glendower and the
Scots; and that if it should come to a point when you might
have to lead the whole force of the south to put the Welsh
down, the Scots might make a great irruption into the north-
-ern counties, and it would be needful for him to keep a larger
body of men than usual under arms, as the earl, his father, and
the Earl of Westmoreland would have to stand the whole brunt
of the matter for a time without aid from the south.”

The king’s brow cleared.

“Tt was a thoughtful act of Sir Henry,” he said; “and ’t is
like enough that the Scots will, as you say, take advantage of
our troubles here, and it is well therefore that the Lords of the

. Northern Marches should hold themselves in readiness. What
300 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

think you, Talbot? It seems to me that the bold service this
esquire has performed merits reward.”

“T think so indeed,” the earl said. “It was a singular act
of courage.”

The king drew his sword from his scabbard. “ Kneel, sir,”
he said. And as Oswald knelt the king laid-the sword across
his shoulder and said, “ Rise, Sir Oswald Forster.”

Oswald rose.

“T thank you, my Lord King,” he said, “and trust that I
may live for many years to do worthy knightly service to my
liege, who has so highly honoured me.”

“ My lord,” the king said to Talbot, “I leave it to you to
see that this young knight is provided with horse and armour.
Unfortunately there is more than one suit without an owner
at present. You will do well to wait with me while I open
this letter, which maybe contains matter of moment.”

-Feeling that his audience was over, Oswald bowed deeply
and left the tent to rejoin Roger.

“What said the king, master?”

“He spoke much more highly of what we had done, Roger,
than it deserved, and as a reward for the service he has just
knighted me.”

“T think that he has done well, master!’ Roger exclaimed
joyously. ‘I had hoped that Hotspur would have done ‘it
after that adventure with the Bairds, of which, as Alwyn told
me, he spoke to him in tones of wondrous praise.”

“That was a private business, Roger, and he would know
that I would much rather that, when knighthood came, I should
receive it for service in the field. The king regards our com-
ing here as a service to himself, and therefore rewarded me;
but I would rather that it should have been for service in
the field against the enemy than for tramping through the
forest.”
KNIGHTED 301

«“ Yes, but a forest full of Welshmen,” Roger said, “ who are
more to be feared in that way than when met in open fight.”

« Earl Talbot spoke very kindly of me, and said that he had
heard that with Percy’s men I had done good service in that
fight with the Welsh near Knighton.”

“That was certainly pretty hot work, master—I shall get
to say Sir Oswald in time, but at present my tongue is not
used to it. What are we to do now?”

“The king asked Lord Talbot to provide me with armour
and a horse, so we must wait until he comes this way.”

It was half an hour before the earl came out.

“The letter was of importance,” he said, “and it is well
that it was brought on. Now, Sir Oswald, let us see to your
matter. Two days ago Sir William Baxter was killed by a
sudden attack of the Welsh while he was burning a village.
His men rallied, beat off the Welsh, and brought his body in,
and methinks his armour will fit you, though he was shorter
by two or three inches than yourself.”

He accompanied Oswald to one of a small group of tents
standing a quarter of a mile farther down the road.

“Ts Sir William Baxter’s squire here?”

A young man at once came up. “I was his esquire, my
lord.”

“JT have the king’s orders,” the earl said, “that his arms,
armour, and horses are to be handed over forthwith to Sir
Oswald Forster here, who will take command of his troop.
He will take over all the other belongings of the knight.”

The young squire bowed. “I will hand them over to you,
sir.””

“You will, of course, take possession of the tent also, Sir
Oswald. Sir William was one of my knights. He was un-
wedded, and has no male kin; therefore you need have no
hesitation in taking his belongings, which indeed we should in
3802 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

any case have little chance of taking back with us, for our
waggons are but few and will daily become fewer ; for on such
roads as these both waggons and horses break down, and it
will be as much as we can do to carry even necessities with us.
Come to my tent at noon, it lacks but an hour of it, and I will
present you at dinner to some of my knights, among whom for
the present I shall rank you.”

So saying he turned away. The young squire held open
the entrance of the tent for Oswald to enter, and followed him
in.

“Tt seems a strange thing to be thus possessed of another
man’s goods,” he said.

“Tt is often so,” the squire said, “and sometimes even his
estates go with them also; as the earl said, Sir William Baxter
had none to whom these things could have been given, seeing
that he had, so far as I know, only one sister, to whom armour
and horses could be of no use. She is one of the Countess of
Talbot’s ladies.”

“And what are you going to do yourself?”

“For the present I know not,” the squire said. “I had
been with Sir William Baxter but three years. The knight I
served with before was thrown from his horse and killed, and
Sir Walliatny who had been just knighted, took me into his
service.’

“Flow long have you been a squire?”

“Six years, and I hoped that in this campaign I might have
done something to win my spurs.”

“Tam but a poor knight, Master —” and he paused.

“ Flenry Pemberton,” the squire said.

“And being but knighted to-day, and having no lands to
keep up my knighthood, it may be that the earl will appoint
you to another of his knights; but should he not do so I shall
be glad if, for the rest of this campaign, you will ride with me,
KNIGHTED 803

and trust that you too may have an opportunity of gaining
knighthood before it is over. But whether or no, as soon as
we cross the border again I doubt not that you will be able to
find some lord under whom you may gain advancement.”

“‘T will gladly do so, Sir Oswald. "Tis strange that I should
not have seen your face before, for since we left Worcester I
have come to know the greater part of the esquires here.”

“JT arrived but an hour ago,’”’ Oswald replied, “ having made
my way through the Welsh on foot with that tall fellow you
saw without.”

«That was a dangerous deed, truly,” Pemberton said in
tones of surprise. ‘“ May I ask you why you essayed so
perilous a feat?”

“T was the bearer of a despatch for the king. I was.an
esquire to Sir Henry Percy, but have for some time been stay-
ing with his brother-in-law, Sir Edmund Mortimer. Had Sir
William a man-at-arms who served as his servant? for I shall
make my man-at-arms, who has gone through many adventures
with me, has fought by my side, and saved my life, my second
squire.”

“Yes, a very good and trusty fellow.”

“Then of course I shall keep him on. Now, will you tell
my man to come in?”

“Roger,” he said, “you doubtless heard the earl’s words,
and Iam now master of this tent, together with the armour,
horses, and clothes of Sir William Baxter. Master Henry
Pemberton will act as my squire during the campaign. You
will be my second squire.”

“Well, master, I never looked so high as to become an
esquire, and would rather remain a simple man-at-arms were
it not that it will keep me near you.”

“You will find Roger a good comrade, Master Pemberton.
He has been a man-at-arms at his own choice, for, as he can
804 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

read and write as well as any clerk, he might have done better
for himself.”’

Pemberton looked with some surprise at Roger. He him-
self had not these accomplishments, and he was surprised at
finding a man-at-arms so well endowed. _

“As you-may tell by his speech,’’ Oswald went on, “he is,
like myself, a Northumbrian, and has done good service in the
wars with the Scots.”

“That I can well imagine,” the squire said with a smile.
“IT would certainly wish for no stouter comrade.”

“We must see about arms and armour for you, Roger,”
Oswald said.

“There will be no difficulty about that, none whatever,
Sir Oswald. We have lost fully three hundred men since we
crossed the border, and a hundred and fifty since we came
here four days since. There is a pile of harness and arms
lying by the roadside, and there, methinks, it is likely it will
lie. You have but to go with him when you have attired
yourself and buckled on spurs, and you can pick and choose
among it; assuredly no one will gainsay you.”

Oswald now changed his attire. The clothes were hand-

some and fitted him well. Then he. buckled on the golden
spurs, put on the knightly armour, for he had observed that
the earl and the knights that he had seen in the camp all kept
on full armour, being ever in expectation of sudden attack.
' “Truly you make a handsome figure, Sir Oswald,” said
Roger, who had been assisting him. “Little did I think
when I used to rail at you at your books that you would grow
into so stalwart a man, and that I should follow you in the
field as your squire. Your armour fits you as if made for you,
save that these cuishes scarce meet your body armour. In
truth, though bad for him, it was lucky for you that the master
of this tent came to his death when he did.”
KNIGHTED 805

“T like a steel cap better than this helmet, though I say not
that it looks so well.”

“Not by a long way,” Roger said. “ Nought could become
you better. What cognisance do you mean to take?”

“TJ have not thought about it yet; there will be time enough
for that after the war is over.”

“Well, at any rate, master, I will to-day set about getting
Sir William Baxter’s off the shield. Methinks that with some
sand from the river bed I shall be able to manage it with
an hour’s rubbing.”

«“ Now, come along, Roger, there is no time to be lost, for I
dine at midday with the Earl of Talbot. Master Pemberton
will show us where the armour is lying.”

There was indeed a large pile. Oswald then said, “As you
are known, Master Pemberton, you had better stop here, for
it will take some picking before Roger is suited. As it is but
two minutes to twelve, I must hurry back to Lord Talbot’s
tent.”

Some seven or eight knights were already there. Lord
Talbot introduced him to them, and, as they dined, Oswald
related at their request more particularly how he had got
through the Welsh, —a task that seemed to them well-nigh
impossible, since the soldiers dared not venture even to the
edge of the forest, so thickly were the Welsh posted there.

“ That man-at-arms must be a stalwart fellow indeed,” said
one, “to kill three Welshmen with nought but a quarter-
staff.”

“Tf you had seen the man and the staff, Sir Victor, you
would not be surprised,” Lord Talbot said. “ He stands some
six feet four, and has shoulders that might rival Samson’s. As
to his quarter-staff, I marked it. It was of oak, and full two
inches across, and a blow with it from such arms would crack
an iron casque, to say nothing of a Welsh skull.”

20
806 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

CHAPTER XVIII

GLENDOWER

OR the next ten days the weather was so bad that no
operations could be carried on. Every little stream was
swollen to a raging torrent. Horses, carrying men in full
armour, could scarce keep their feet on the slippery moor,
and even the footmen had the greatest difficulty in getting
about ; and all excursions were given up, for the Welsh, bare-
footed and unweighted with armour, would have been able to
fall upon them to great advantage, and could then evade pur-
suit with ease. The number of sick increased rapidly, and it
became necessary to send another convoy back to Llanidloes,
where the guard were to join the force that had gone there
ten days before, and to escort some waggons of flour and a
number of cattle that had been brought there from Welshpool
by a strong levy from Shropshire.

Ten knights, a hundred mounted men-at-arms, as many on
foot, and fifty archers were considered sufficient to escort the
sick, who, to the number of two hundre::, were closely. packed
in the ten waggons that were to return with flour. Three of
Lord Talbot’s knights were to form part of the escort, and
among these Oswald was chosen by the earl. It was hoped
that the convoy would reach the town without being attacked,
for great pains had been taken to prevent the news of its
approaching departure getting about, for there were many
Welshmen in the camp employed in looking after the baggage
animals and in other offices. They had all been hired for the
service on the other side of the border, but it was believed
that some of them at least must be in communication with the
GLENDOWER 807

enemy, who were thereby enabled to gather in force to oppose
any parties who sallied out from the camp.

The consequence was that, until half an hour before it left,
none save a few of the leaders were aware of the starting of
the convoy. Then orders were rapidly issued; the knights
and men-at-arms who had been selected for the service had
but a few minutes to prepare themselves. The horses were
harnessed to the waggons, and the sick and wounded carried
out and placed in them with the greatest expedition, and the
party set out in less than half an hour after the first order
had been given. It had gone but a quarter of a mile when
the shouts among the woods on either side showed that the
Welsh were vigilant. Horns were blown in all directions, the
sound growing fainter and fainter in the hills.

“ We shall not get through undisturbed,” one of the knights
said to Oswald, who was riding next to him,

“ No, I think we shall have fighting. It would have been
better had we and the men-at-arms been told to leave our
horses behind. In this deep soil they will be of little use in a
fight, and we should do better on foot.”

“It would be terrible marching in our heavy armour.”

“Doubtless it would have been so, but I should not have
minded that. The distance is but six miles, and although in
this slippery plain the toil would have been great, methinks
that we could have made a better fight than on horseback ;
and as these waggons travel but slowly, we could have kept up
with them.”

“ We can dismount if necessary,” the knight said ; “ but, for
my part, I would rather ride than tramp through this deep mud.”

Their progress was indeed slow, the waggons frequently sank
almost up to their axles in the mud, and it needed all the
efforts of the dismounted men to get them out. A deep si-
lence had succeeded the outcry in the woods.
308 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“TT like not this silence, Sir Oswald,” the knight said, when
after an hour’s hard work they were still but two miles from
the camp.

“Nor do I,” Oswald said ; “it seems unnatural. Do you not
think, Sir William, that it would be well if all were to take
the picket ropes from their horses’ necks and knot them two
and two, fastening one end to a waggon and the other to a
horse’s girth? In that way fifty men-at-arms might be roped
on to the waggons, and would aid those drawing them greatly.”

“The idea is a very good one,” the knight said. He rode
forward to Sir Eustace de Bohun, who was in command, and
informed him of Oswald’s suggestion, which was at once
adopted. As soon as it was carried out the dismounted men
were ordered to push behind the waggons, which now pro-
ceeded at a much faster rate than before. They were just
half-way to the town, and beginning to entertain hopes that
they should get through without being attacked, when a horn
sounded, and from the forest on both sides a crowd of men
rushed out and poured a volley of arrows into the convoy.
Hasty orders were shouted by Sir Eustace, the ropes were
thrown off, and the troops formed up in a double line on each
side of the waggons.

The knights and mounted men formed the outside line, and
the footmen stood a pace or two behind them, so as to cover
them from attack should the Welsh break through. Oswald’s
esquire was on one side of him, Roger on the other. The
waggons continued to move forward, for at this point the road
was better, running across a bare rock, and the horses were
therefore able to draw them along without any assistance. Sir
Eustace therefore gave the order for the escort to continue
their way, marching on each side of the train.

“We must fight our way through, men,” he shouted ; “ every
minute will doubtless add to their numbers.”






GLENDOWER 3809

For a short time the arrows flew fast. But the Welsh bows
were not to be compared in point of strength with those used
by the English archers, and the arrows fell harmlessly upon the
armour of the men-at-arms, while on the other hand the Eng-
lish archers shot so strongly and truly that after a short time
the Welsh bowmen fell back. As they did so, however, a crowd
of footmen poured out from the forest, and with loud shouts
and yells rushed forward.

“Halt the waggons!” Sir Eustace cried. “Keep good
order, men, and we shall soon drive this rabble off.”

The archers had time but to send three flights of arrows
among their assailants when these threw themselves upon the
line. They were armed with short axes, heavy clubs, and
other rough weapons, and for a time the horsemen kept their
order and beat them back; but as the horns continued to
sound the Welsh swarmed down in such numbers that they
broke in between their mounted foes, some trying to tear them
from their saddles, while others crept beneath the horses and
drove their long knives into their stomachs, or tried to ham-

. string them with their axes. Then the dismounted men-at-

arms joined in the fight, and drove the enemy back beyond
the line. Many of the horsemen were, however, dismounted ;
these joined their mounted comrades when Sir Eustace gave
the word to charge the multitude before they could rally for a
fresh attack.

The Welsh went down in numbers before their lances, but
so close was the throng that the horsemen were brought to a
stand, and slinging their spears behind them betook themselves
to sword and mace. Great was the slaughter of their opponents,
but these pursued their former tactics. Horse after horse
rolled over in mortal agony, and as they fell the riders were
stabbed before they could recover their feet. Soon they were
broken up into knots, and their dismounted companions with
310 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

one accord left the waggons and rushed into the fray, for a
time beating back the Welsh.

“It were best to dismount,” Oswald cried, and he swung
himself from the saddle just as one of the enemy hamstrung
his horse. Roger and the squire did the same, and joined
the ranks of the footmen.

“ Keep together !’’ Oswald shouted to those within hearing ;
“we can cut ourselves a passage through in that way, while
separately we shall perish.”

‘Ten or twelve men followed his orders, and gathering in a
ring, for a time beat off every attack. Looking round, Oswald
saw that scarce a man remained mounted. The shouts of the
English and the wild war-cries of the Welsh rang through the
air. Ina dozen places fierce contests were raging — swords
and axes rose and fell on helmet and steel cap. In obedience
to the shouts of Sir Eustace, who, with three or four men-at-
arms around him, was still mounted, the English bands tried
to join each other, and in several cases succeeded. Oswald
had been near the rear of the convoy when the fight began, and
the party with whom he fought were separated by some dis-
tance from the others, and the prospect became more and more
hopeless. His squire had fallen, and fully half the men who
had joined him, and although the loss of the Welsh had been
many times as great, the number of their assailants had in no
way diminished. He and Roger strove in vain to cut a way
through, and their height and strength enabled them to main-
tain a forward movement, their opponents shrinking from the
terrible blows of Roger’s mace and the no less destructive fall
of Oswald’s sword; but the men-at-arms behind them fared
worse, having to retreat with their face to the foe, and more
than one, falling over the bodies of those slain by their leaders,
were stabbed before they could rise. Several times the two
men turned and covered the rear, but at last they stood alone.


GLENDOWER 811

“Now, make one effort to break through, Roger ;”’ and they
flung themselves with such fury upon the Welsh that for some
twenty yards they cut their way through them. Then Roger
exclaimed, “I am done ‘for, master,’ and fell. Oswald stood
over him and for a time kept a clear circle ; then he received a
tremendous blow on the back of his helmet with a heavy club
and fell prostrate over Roger. When he recovered his senses
the din of battle had moved far away. The other groups had
gathered together, and moving down had joined those who
still resisted on the other side of the road, and keeping ina
close body were fighting their way steadily along. A number
of the Welsh were going over the battle-field stabbing all whom
they found to be still living. The sick men in the waggons
had already been murdered.

A Welshman, whose appearance denoted a higher rank than
the others, approached Oswald as soon as he sat up, and called
to four or five of his countrymen. Oswald with difficulty rose
to his feet. He still wore round his wrist the chain that Glen-
dower’s daughter had given him, and he now pulled this off and
held it up, loudly calling out the name of Glendower several
times. The Welsh leader waved his followers back. Oswald
was unarmed and evidently incapable of defending himself.
He came up to him. Oswald held out the chain: “ Glendower,
Glendower,” he repéated. The man took the chain and ex-
amined it carefully. Some Welsh words were engraved upon
the clasp. Oswald was unaware what they were, but the words
were, “Jane Glendower, from her father.” The Welshman
looked much surprised, and presently called to another some
distance away. The man came up, and he spoke to him in
Welsh. :

“How did you obtain this?”? the man asked Oswald in
English. : %

“Tt was given in token of service rendered by me and my
312 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

squire here to Glendower’s daughter. She told me that it
would be of service if at any time I were taken prisoner by
her father’s followers.”

This was translated to the Welshman, who said: “ These
men must be taken to Glendower. The story may be true or
not; the chain may have been stolen. At any rate, the prince
must decide as to their fate.” He now bade the men round
him take off Oswald’s armour. As soon as this was done the
latter knelt down by Roger’s side, and removed his helmet. An
arrow shot from behind had struck Roger just above the back-
piece —which, being short for him, did not reach to his helmet
—and had gone through the fleshy part of his neck, while at
the same moment a blow with an axe had cleft the helmet in
sunder and inflicted a deep gash on the back of the head. At
a word from their leader the men at once aided Oswald, who
drew out the arrow. The wound bled but slightly, and one of
the Welshmen, tearing off a portion of his garment, bandaged
it up. Water was fetched from the stream below, and a pad
of wet cloth laid on the wound at the back of the head, and
kept in its place by bandages; as this was done Roger gave a
faint groan, and a minute after opened his eyes.

«Do not try to move, Roger,” Oswald said; ‘ you are
wounded, but not, I trust, to death. We are prisoners in the
hands of the Welsh, but that chain Glendower’s daughter gave
me has saved our lives.” i

A rough litter was constructed of boughs; on this Roger,
after his armour had been taken off, was laid. At their
leader’s orders six Welshmen took it up, while two placed
themselves one on each side of Oswald. Then the leader
took the head of the party and moved away into the forest.
Oswald’s head still swam from the effects of the blow, but as
they went on the feeling gradually ceased, and he was able to
keep up with his captors. Their course was ever uphill, and
GLENDOWER 8138

after an hour’s walking they arrived at a farmhouse situated
just at the upper edge of the forest. The litter was laid down
outside the house. The Welshman went in, saying something to
his men, who at once sat down on the ground, for the journey,
with Roger’s weight, had been a toilsome one. He made signs
for Oswald to seat himself by the side of Roger. The latter
was now perfectly sensible.

“What has happened, master?” he asked.

“We have been badly beaten, Roger; but when I last saw
them our men had got together and were fighting their way
along the road. I fancy more than half have been killed, but,
as far as I could see of the field, I should say that three or four
times as many Welsh had fallen.”

“ That was a lucky thought of yours, Sir Oswald, about that
chain.”

“T had always an idea that it might be found useful, and it
at once occurred to me as soon as I recovered my senses.”

“Are you wounded too?” Roger asked anxiously.

“No; I was beaten down by a heavy club, and my head still
rings from the blow, otherwise I am uninjured.”

“What has happened to me, master?”

“You had an arrow through your neck, Roger, but fortu-
nately it was on one side; an inch to the right and it would
have struck your spine, or perhaps gone through your wind-
pipe. As it is, it does not seem to have done much harm.
Very little blood flowed when I pulled the arrow out. You
have got a bad gash on the back of the head, but your head-
piece broke the force of the blow; it has laid your skull bare,
but has not, so far as I can see, penetrated it.’’

“Then we need think no more about it,” Roger said.
“ Well, that was a fight! the one we had at Knighton was as
nothing to it.”

“ Yes, I think that even you could not want a harder one,
Roger.”

\
314 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“No; this was quite enough for one day’s work. I should
like a drink of water if I could get one.”

Oswald made signs to one of the men, who went into the
house and returned with a large jug of water, of which Roger
took a deep draught, and Oswald then finished the contents,
for he too was parched with thirst. Half an hour later, a tall
man in full armour, followed by a number of Welsh chiefs,
issued from the forest. He was some five-and-forty years old
and of noble presence. The leader of the party who had
brought Oswald up advanced to meet him, and saluting him
most respectfully, spoke to him for a moment, and then pro-
duced the chain. Glendower, for it was the prince, examined
it, and then at once walked up to Oswald, who had risen to
his feet.

“ How became you possessed of this, Sir Knight?”

“Tt was given me by one of your daughters, sir. I and my
squire here were on guard round your house on the night after
the Earl of Talbot took it. We were at some distance from the
other guards when two figures rose from the bushes near us.
We pursued them, and coming up to them found they were
two ladies, and they at once avowed that they were your
daughters. My instructions were to watch and see that no
Welshmen approached the house ; and nought had been said
to me of arresting any leaving it, seeing that. it was not sup-
posed that any were there. J war not with women. Being
myself from Northumbria, I have no enmity with your people,
therefore I let them proceed on their way, — a breach of duty
for which, doubtless, I should have suffered had it been known.
Happily none but my follower here, who was then but a man-
at-arms and I a squire, knew of it, and to this moment I have
spoken of it to no one. As they left us, one of the ladies gave
me this chain, saying that some day it might be of use to me
should I ever fall into the hands of their people. I have
GLENDOWER 315

carried it on my wrist ever since; and when your follower
came up, and I saw the necessity had arisen, I showed it to
him.”

“J have heard the story from my daughters,” Glendower
said warmly, holding out his hand. “They told me how
courteously you had treated them, and that you had refused
to accept the jewels they offered you. They said that you
had also declined to tell them your name, as it might do you
injury should it become known; and I have often regretted
that I did not know the name of the gentleman who had
behaved so nobly to them, and had saved them from an Eng-
lish prison. Had they been captured, it would have been a
sore blow to me, not only in my affections but to my cause ;
for had he held them in his power, Henry could have put a
heavy pressure upon me. May I ask now what is your name,
Sir Knight?”

“Sir Oswald Forster. I was at that time a squire of Sir
Henry Percy’s.”

“ Of Hotspur!’ Glendower said in surprise. ‘I did not
know that we had levies from the north fighting against us.”

“You have not, sir. I had simply been sent with twenty
men-at-arms by Sir Henry to Sir Edmund Mortimer — who is,
as you are doubtless aware, of kin to Sir Henry, who had married
his sister — and was sent by Sir Edmund to join the Earl of
Talbot and Lord Grey when they made that foray upon your
house. After that I returned to the north, but was some
months since again sent to Ludlow to keep Sir Henry informed
of the doings on this border.”

“But I had heard that Mortimer had sent no troops to
Henry’s army.”

“That is so, sir. I am here by an accident. A despatch
came from London to Ludlow for the king, and as there was
no other way of forwarding it, I volunteered to carry it here,
316 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

and succeeded in doing so; for which service the king
conferred knighthood upon me, upon my arrival ten days
since.”

“ Ah, then, it was you that I heard of! I was told that
two great men had been seen in the woods some distance
south of the camp, and that they had succeeded in making
their escape after slaying five of my followers, and that, though
none knew for certain, it was supposed they had reached
Henry’s camp.”

« You are right, sir; the two men were my companion here ~
and myself.”

“It was a notable feat. I think not that any other messen-
ger has got through my scouts since the king left Welshpool.
You must be swift of foot as well as brave and courteous, for I
heard that you had outrun the greatest part of those who
followed you.”

«We in the north have to be swift of foot,’’ Oswald said
with a smile, “for the Scots keep us in practice, either in
escaping them when they come in too great a force to be
resisted, or in following them when it is our turn to pursue.
I trust, sir, that you will put myself and my squire to ransom,
and will take my word for the payment, for until I go north I
have no means of satisfying it.”

“That will I not,’ Glendower said. “Or rather I will take
a ransom, since, were I to release you without one, it might
cause surprise and inquiry; and it were well that your noble
conduct to my daughters should not be known, for Henry
would not be likely to regard it favourably. Therefore we
will put you to ransom at the sum of a crown for yourself,
and a penny for your squire.” /

“T thank you indeed, sir, and shall ever feel beholden to
you; and I will, moreover, give you my knightly word that
whatever service I may have to perform, I will never again
GLENDOWER 817

war with the Welsh. May I ask if any of our party succeeded
in reaching Llanidloes?”

«Yes, some sixty or seventy of them got in. They fought
very well; and indeed in close combat my Welshmen cannot
at present hold their own against your armour-clad men.
Still, though it would have pleased me better had we annihi-
lated the force, our success has been sufficient to give Henry
another lesson that though he may march through Wales, he
holds only the ground on which he has encamped. Now, Sir
Oswald, I pray you to enter my abode. ’T is a poor place in-
deed, after my house in the Vale of the Bards, but it suffices
for my needs.”

Before entering he gave orders that Roger should be carried
to an upper room, and despatched a messenger to order his
own leech, as soon as he had done with the wounded, to come
up and attend to him. Then he led the way into a room,

“where a meal was prepared. In a few words in Welsh he
explained to his chiefs, who had been much surprised at the
manner in which he had received Oswald, that the young
knight had at one time rendered a great service to his daugh-
ters, Jane and Margaret, but without mentioning its precise
nature. His experience had taught him that even those
most attached to his cause might yet turn against him, and
were they to relate the story, it might do serious injury to
Oswald.

“Vou must, on your way back,” he said presently to the
young knight, “call and see my daughters, who are at present
staying with their sister, who is married to Adda ap Iorwerth
Ddu. They would be aggrieved indeed if they heard that you
had been here, and that I had not given them the opportunity
of thanking you in person.”

Oswald remained for a fortnight with Glendower while
Roger’s wound was healing. At the end of that time he
818 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

learned that Henry, having marched into Cardigan and rav-
aged the country there, was already retiring, his army having
suffered terribly from the effects of the weather, the impossi-
bility of obtaining supplies, and the constant and harassing
attacks by the Welsh. Glendower was often absent, but when
at the house he conversed freely with Oswald, who was no
longer surprised at the influence that he had obtained over his
countrymen. .His manners were courteous in the extreme,
and his authority over his followers absolute. ‘They not only
reverenced him as their prince, the representative of their
ancient kings, and their leader in war, but as one endowed
with supernatural power.

The bards had fanned this feeling to the utmost by their
songs of marvels and portents at his birth, and by attributing
to him a control even over the elements. This belief was not
only of great importance to him, as binding his adherents
closer to him, but it undoubtedly contributed to his success
from the fact of its being fully shared in by the English
soldiery, who assigned it as the cause of the exceptionally bad
weather that had been experienced in each of the three ex-
peditions into the country, and of the failure to accomplish
anything of importance against him. This side of the charac-
ter of Glendower puzzled Oswald. Several times, when talking
to him, he distinctly claimed supernatural powers, and from
the tone in which he spoke, and the strange expression his
face at this time assumed, Oswald was convinced that he
sincerely believed that he did possess these powers.

Whether he originally did so, or whether it had arisen from
the adulation of the bards, the general belief in it, and the
successes he had gained, Oswald could not determine. Later,
when Glendower sullied his fair fame by the most atrocious
massacres, similar to that which had already taken place at the
storming of New Radnor, atrocities that seemed not only
GLENDOWER 3819

purposeless, but at utter variance with the courtesy and gen-
tleness of his bearing, Oswald came to believe that his brain
had to some extent become unhinged by excitement, flattery,
and superstition.

At the end of the fortnight Roger’s wound, although not
completely healed, was in such a state that it permitted his
sitting on horseback, and Oswald became anxious to be off.
Glendower, who was about to set out to harass the rear of the
army as it retired from Cardiganshire, at once offered to send
a strong escort with him, as it would have been dangerous in
the extreme to have attempted to traverse the country without
such a protection. Two excellent horses, that had been cap-
tured in the engagement with the English, were handed over
to him for his own use and that of Roger.

Oswald’s own armour was returned to him, and he was
pleased to find that it had been carefully attended to, and
was as brightly burnished as when it came into his possession.
When Glendower bid them adieu, he presented each of them
with rings similar to those he himself wore.

“You have promised that you will not fight against me
again; but it may be that on some errand or other you may
ride into Wales, or that you may be staying, as you did before,
at some castle or town near the border when we attack it. You
have but to show these rings to any Welshman you may
come across, and you may be sure of being well treated as
one of my friends. I trust that when we meet again the war
will be over, and that my title to the kingdom of Wales may
be recognised by your king and people as it is on this side
of the border.”

“Well, Sir Oswald,” Roger said as they rode away, accom-
panied by twenty of Glendower’s followers under the orders of
an officer, “ we have got out of that scrape better than could
have been expected. When you and I were alone in the
320 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

midst of that crowd of Welshmen, I thought that it was all
over with us.”

“So did I, Roger. You see that matter of our getting Glen-
dower’s daughters away uninjured has borne good fruit.”

“Tt has indeed,” Roger agreed. “I thought it much more
likely, too, that it would have gone the other way.”

«Be sure you keep a silent tongue as to that, Roger, and
remember that our story is, that I have been put at knightly
ransom, and on the condition that I will never serve in Wales
again. When we once get across the border we will ride
straight for Northumberland, without going near Ludlow. I
observed that the king much doubted the Mortimers, and
were we to return there, and the news came to his ears, he
might take it as a proof that there was an understanding
between Glendower and Mortimer, and that it was to this that
leniency, such as had been shown to no other prisoners, was
due; whereas if we go straight to Percy, ’tis not likely that
the matter will ever come to his hearing, and at any rate,
if it did so, he would scarce connect Mortimer with our
escape.”

“J understand, Sir Oswald, and will, you may be sure, keep
silent as to aught beyond what you have bade me say.”

Two days’ journey brought them to the house of Glen-
dower’s married daughter. On the officer stating that the
knight with him had been sent under his escort by Glendower
himself, she requested that he should be shown in. Her
husband was away.

«What is the knight’s name?” she asked.

“ Sir Oswald Forster, Lady.”

“JT have never, so far as I know, heard it before. Me-
thought that he might be one whom I may have met in the
houses of my two sisters married to Englishmen in Hereford,
but I have no memory of the name. Show him in, sir.”
GLENDOWER 821

Roger had removed Oswald’s helmet while the officer was
away.

“Come with me, Roger,” he said, “since we were both
concerned in this affair.”

He bowed deeply to the Lady Isabel, who, as she returned
his salute, saw with surprise that his face was quite strange
to her.

“It seems, Sir Oswald,” she said, “from the tenor of the
message given me by the officer, that you have come to me
as a visitor, and that ’tis as an escort only that he has been
sent with you?”

“That is so, Lady, but ’tis as a visitor rather to your
sisters, the Ladies Jane and Margaret, that I am here; I had
once the pleasure of meeting them.”

Glendower’s daughter at once told a maid, who was work-
ing with her when the officer had entered, to request her
sisters to come to her; and these entered the room a minute
later.

Isabel, seeing that they did not appear to recognise the
young knight, said, “ Our father has sent this gentleman, Sir
Oswald Forster, whom you know, to visit you.”

The two girls looked with surprise at Oswald.

“Do you not know this gentleman?” their sister asked in
equal surprise.

“He is not known to us,” Jane replied. “I have never
seen him before — at least, that I can remember.”

“We have met before, nevertheless, Lady,” Oswald said
with a smile, “though it may well be that you do not remem-
ber my face, or that of my squire there, seeing that we were
together but a few minutes and that in the moonlight.”

The girls looked up at him puzzled, and then their eyes fell
upon Roger.

“Now I know!” Margaret exclaimed. ‘Look at the

21
822 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

squire’s height. Surely, Jane, these are the two soldiers
who allowed us to pass them that night when we fled from
Sycharth.”

“ That is so,” Oswald said; “I thought that you were more
likely to recognise my squire than myself, seeing that I have
grown several inches since then, and have but lately assumed
this knightly armour in which you see me.”

“Oh, sir,” Jane said, going swiftly up to him and holding
out her hand, which he raised to his lips, as he did that of
Margaret as she followed her sister, “ we have thought of you
so often, and have prayed that you should both be rewarded
for your kindness tous! How glad I am to see you again, and
have an opportunity of thanking you! You have heard, Isabel,
of our adventure, and how we escaped by the kindness of two
Englishmen on guard near the edge of the forest from being
carried as prisoners to London, where but for them we should
now be lodged in some dungeon of the usurper ; but till now I
have never known the name of our preserver.

“Thanks also to you, good squire,” she said, turning to
Roger.

“T but carried out the orders of my master,” Roger said,
colouring like a boy, as she held out her hand to him; “ there
is no credit due to me.”

“But how came you here?” Lady Isabel asked Oswald.

“ Your sisters have, although they know it not, more than
repaid their obligations to me; for while they may perhaps
owe their liberty to me, I owe my life to them. See, ladies,”
and he turned to Jane, “there is the chain you gave me. I
have worn it always on my wrist. I and my squire were
beaten down by your father’s followers, my squire grievously
wounded and insensible, while I had been left for dead, though
but stunned from a blow. I luckily recovered my senses just
as those employed in despatching the wounded came up; and
or



F THANKING YOU

ITY O

M TO HAVE AN OPPORTUN

“HOW GLAD I A
GLENDOWER 323

happily remembering your bracelet, I took it off and held it
up, calling out your father’s name. Struck, I suppose, by the
action and words, an officer examined the bracelet closely, and
making out the inscription on the clasp, had my squire and
myself taken to the house where your father lodged, so that
the manner of my being possessed of the trinket might be ex-
plained. On your father’s return he recognised it ; and having
heard from you the circumstances of our meeting, treated us
with the greatest kindness and hospitality, and freed us with-
out ransom, save a nominal one in order that on my return I
could say that I had been put to ransom. On the recovery of
my squire from his wounds he restored our armour to us, pre-
sented us with horses, and sent us here under escort, deeming
that you might be glad to see us.”

«There he was indeed right,” Jane said. ‘We have oft
regretted that you would not accept a more valuable jewel
than that little chain, which was given to me by my father
when I was but a child. But ’t is well indeed that you so
withstood us, for had it been any other of our jewels but this
it would not have been recognised.”

“That is so, Lady, and since my capture I often thought
that it was strange it so happened.”

After staying a day there Oswald continued his journey, to
the regret of the ladies, who were glad to hear that he would
never again fight against the Welsh. His escort accompanied
him as near the border as it was safe for them to go. The
next day they rode into Chester, and then by easy stages up
to Alnwick.

Oswald went to Hotspur’s apartments as soon as he entered
the castle. “I congratulate you heartily,” Hotspur said as he
entered. “Isee that you have won your spurs. I said to myself
when I received your letter, saying that you were starting to
carry a letter to the king, that your enterprise would bring you
824 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

either death or a pair of gold spurs. I am glad indeed to see
that it was the latter. I hear that the king’s army is falling
back. A messenger brought me news from my kinsman. He
said that it was but a rumour that had reached him, but that
it seemed likely enough, for it was said that they had suffered
terribly, both from the weather and the attacks of the Welsh.”

“That rumour is true, Sir Henry, and also that the army is
retiring.”

“ And they have done no more than they did before?”

“No more indeed, Sir Henry. They have burnt many
villages, and slain many Welshmen, but they have done noth-
ing whatever towards subduing Glendower.”

CHAPTER XIX

THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL

“ T)UT how have you made your way back ahead of the
army?” Hotspur asked, after Oswald had given him
full information as to the military operations.

“ Roger and I were left for dead in that fight I have told
you of near Llanidloes, and we fell into the hands of the
Welsh and were taken before Glendower, who treated us well
and put me to ransom, with the engagement that I was not
again to bear arms in Wales.”

“That was a strange leniency on his part,’ Hotspur ex-
claimed, “ for I hear he puts to the sword all who fall into his
hands, without any regard for the rules of civilised: war.”

“He is a strange man, Sir Henry, and subject, I fancy, to
changeable moods. When I was brought before him he was
in a happy one over the success he had gained, and it may be
THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL 325

that he took a liking for me. At any rate, he fixed my ransom
at a very small sum.”

“Which I will, of course, pay,” Hotspur said, “since you
were my squire and were at Ludlow on my service.”

“T thank you much, Sir Henry, but ’tis so small a sum that
I myself discharged it without difficulty.”

“T is strange, most strange, that you should have gone into
the lion’s den and have come out unscathed. Strange indeed
that Glendower, who, as we know, is greatly in want of money,
should have fixed your ransom at a low sum. How much was
it, Sir Oswald?”

“J will tell you the story, Sir Henry, though I would tell
no one else, for my freedom is due to something that happened
nigh two years ago, when I was first with Sir Edmund
Mortimer. I failed in what was my strict duty, although I
disobeyed no orders that I had received, and my conscience
altogether acquits me of wrong.”

“You may be sure, Sir Oswald, that the matter will go no
further, and knowing you as I do I feel sure that whatever the
matter was it was not to your discredit.”

“So I trust, myself, my lord, but it might have cost me my
head had the king come to know it. I will first tell you that my
ransom was fixed at a crown, and that of Roger at a penny.”

Hotspur, who had been looking a little grave, laughed.
“ Surely never before was so much bone and sinew appraised
at so small a sum.”

“Tt was so put, simply that I might with truth avow that I
was put to ransom. However, I paid the crown and the penny,
and have so discharged my obligations. This was how the
matter came about;” and he related the whole circumstances
to Sir Henry, and the manner in which the little chain given
to him by Glendower’s daughter had been the means of saving
his life.
326 . BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“T blame you in no way, Sir Oswald,” Hotspur said cordially
when he had heard the story, “though I say not that the king
would have viewed the matter in the same light. Still, you
held to the letter of your orders. You were placed there to
give warning of the approach of any hostile body, and nought
was said to you as to letting any man, still less any women,
depart from the place. But indeed how could I blame you,
since heaven itself has assoiled you; for assuredly it was not
chance that ‘placed on your arm the little trinket that alone
could have saved your life from the Welsh. Now to yourself,
Sir Oswald; you will, I hope, continue my knight as you have
been my squire.”

“ Assuredly, Sir Henry, I have never thought of anything
else.”

“Very well, then, I will as soon as may be appoint to you
a double knight’s feu. I say a double feu, because I should
like to have you as one of the castle knights, and so have much
larger service from you than that which a knight can be called
upon to render for an ordinary feu. I will bid Father Ernulf
look through the rolls and see what feus are vacant. One of
these I will make an hereditary feu to pass down from you
to your heirs irrevocably; the other will be a service feu,
to support the expenses caused by your extra services, and
revocable under the usual conditions.”

A week later there was a formal ceremenil at the castle,
and in the presence of the earl, Hotspur, and the knights and
gentlemen of their service, Oswald took the oath of allegiance
to Sir Henry Percy, and afterwards, as required by law, to
the king, and received from Hotspur deeds appointing him to
two knight’s feus, including the villages of -Stoubes and
Rochester in Reddesdale. There were at the time six knight’s
feus vacant, and as Percy had left it to him to choose which he
liked, he had selected these, as they lay but a twelve miles’ ride
THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL 327

over the hills from his father’s place in Coquetdale. The
oath of allegiance to the king as well as to the feudal lord
was enacted by Henry II. with the intention of curbing to
some extent the power of the great vassals ; but although taken
by all knights on being presented with a feu, it was deemed of
no effect in the case of the immediate lord being at war with
the king, and whenever troubles arose the lord’s vassals always
sided with him, it being universally understood that the oath
to him from whom they had received their land was para-
mount over that to the king.

There having been several formalities to be observed and
matters to be discussed, Oswald was unable to ride home until
after this ceremony had taken place, but upon the following
morning he and Roger started early and arrived that evening
at Yardhope. His welcome was a warm one, and the satisfac-
tion of his father and the delight of his mother at seeing him
in knightly armour was great indeed, and it increased when he
told them that he had received knighthood at the hands of the
king himself, and that Hotspur had granted him the feus of
Stoubes and Rochester.

“Then we shall have you within a ride of us,” his mother
exclaimed. “That will be pleasant indeed.”

“The feus have always gone together,” John Forster said,
“and Stoubes castle, although small, is a strong one. How
many tenants will you have?” :

“Twenty-three. That at least was the number of names set
down in the parchments.”

“That is. not bad as a beginning. Of course you will keep
some ten or twelve retainers in the castle, and with such men
as will come in from the villages at the approach of danger you
will be able to muster fifty or sixty in all for the defence.”

“T shall live chiefly at Alnwick, father. Rochester is given
to me as an hereditary feu, but I shall hold Stoubes for extra
828 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

service at the castle ; and I have little doubt that Percy will, if
I do him good service, make it also hereditary. He as much
as said so.”

“Jt will make a good portion, lad. Yardhope is a knight’s

‘feu, though I have never taken up the knighthood, and the

Percys know that I should fight just as stoutly as John
Forster as if 1 wore knightly armour; but though the lands
are wide they are poor, while yours are fertile, lying down by
the river. Moreover, Coquetdale is more liable to Scotch in-
cursions than Reddesdale, as the road into Scotland runs along
it. If needs be we can lend a hand to each other, though both
together we could not hold either your place or mine against
a strong invasion. Now, tell us how it was that you won our
spurs, and how it was that the king himself knighted you.”

« After I have eaten and drank I will do so, father, for
indeed Roger and I are well-nigh famishing.”

After the meal he related the whole story of his adventures.

« Well, lad, you were in luck,” his father said when he had
finished. “The help you gave those maidens might have
brought your head to the block; but it turned out well and was
the saving of your life, so I will say nought against the deed,
especially as you owed no allegiance either to Mortimer or
to Talbot, and were, save 1c the orders that Hotspur had
given you, your own master.’

Two days later, having sent over on the morning after his
arrival a message to the tenants to present themselves at
Stoubes to take their oaths to him, Oswald, accompanied by
his father, rode into Reddesdale. He found the castle a much
stronger place than Yardhope, which was but a fortified house,
while this was a moated building with strong walls and flanking
towers, and a keep that could be held successfully even if the
walls were captured by a sudden assault. At twelve o’clock
the tenants assembled. Oswald read to them the two parch-
THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL 829

ments, and they then took the oaths to him. They were well
satisfied to have a young knight as their lord, for the feus had
been held by a minor, who had died two years before, and had
not been at the castle since he was taken away as a child to be
brought up at the town of Alnwick, where he had remained
under the eye of the Percys. It had long been understood,
however, that the feu would not be granted to him, for he was
weakly from his birth and wholly unfitted for the charge of a
castle so near the Scottish border. According to feudal usage
each tenant expected that he would be called upon to pay a
heavy sum under the name of a relief, as was customary in
the case of a new lord taking possession, and they were greatly
relieved when Oswald told them that, as he already possessed
armour and horses, he would quit them for a fourth part of the
usual amount, although he should of course require their ser-
vices to enable him to repair such dilapidations as the castle
had suffered during the long term that it had stood empty.

For the next three months he stayed in Stoubes. Roger
had been sent off at once with two men-at-arms to bring the
horses and armour that had been left at Welshpool, bearing a
letter to the governor from Oswald thanking him much for
having taken care of them, and saying briefly that he had
been left on the field for dead after the fight near Llanidloes,
but had recovered and been well treated by Glendower, who
had put him to ransom. He took money with him to pay the
expenses for the keep of the horses, and returned with them
and the armour after an absence of three weeks. Passing
through Worcester on his way back, he had at Oswald’s order
purchased for himself clothes suitable for his position as an
esquire. As for armour, it had been arranged that he should
have it made for him at Alnwick, as it would be difficult to
obtain a suit sufficiently large for him.

At the end of the three months the necessary repairs to the
330 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

castle were finished, the gates had been greatly strengthened
with thick bands of iron, the moat cleared out, and at various
points the defences had been strengthened. The small amount
of furniture then deemed necessary still remained there, and
where needful had been repaired and put in good order.
Eight men-at-arms had been taken by Oswald into his ser-
vice, and a trusty man appointed as seneschal. Then, after
paying another visit to Yardhope, Oswald rode with Roger
and two well-mounted men-at-arms to Alnwick.

It was now April, and bad news had just arrived. Glen-
dower had commenced the campaign with great vigour, as the
appearance of a comet had been interpreted by the bards as
an omen most favourable to him, and his force had greatly
increased during the winter. He had destroyed the houses
and strong places of all Welshmen who had not taken up arms
at his orders, and had closely blockaded Carnarvon. He
marched to Bangor, levelled the cathedral and that of St.
Asaph by fire, burnt the episcopal palaces and canons’ houses.
So formidable did he become that the king issued writs to the
lieutenants of no fewer than thirty-four counties to assemble
their forces at Lichfield to crush Glendower. ‘The latter had
now taken the offensive and advanced towards Hereford, and
carried fire and sword through Mortimer’s lands. Sir Edmund
gathered his own and his nephew’s tenants and retainers frorn
Herefordshire and Radnorshire and advanced against Glen-
dower. The armies met on the 22nd of June, 1402, at a
short distance from Knighton. The battle was obstinately
fought, but was decided by the desertion of the Welsh tenants,
and by the Welsh bowmen in Mortimer’s service turning their
bows against his men-at-arms, and finally the’ English were
defeated with the loss of eleven hundred men, Sir Edmund
himself being made a prisoner.

After the battle the Welsh behaved with the greatest sav-
THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL 331

agery, killing all the wounded, stripping the fallen, and horribly
mutilating their bodies. The news created great excitement
at Alnwick, and had not the situation in the north been criti-
cal Percy would have gathered his forces and marched with
all speed to avenge the defeat and capture of his brother-in-
law. The Earl of Dunbar, with many of the tenants of his
former estates, and numbers of the English borderers, had en-
tered Scotland and carried out considerable raids. In revenge
for this Douglas despatched Thomas Halliburton and Patrick
Hepburn, each with a considerable force, to invade Northum-
berland. Halliburton ravaged the country as far as Bam-
borough, collected great spoils and returned with them.
Hepburn, who had a still larger force, penetrated farther into
England, carried his ravages to within a few miles of Alnwick,
and then retired north with an enormous amount of booty.

When, however, he had crossed the border into the country
known as the Merse, north of Berwick, the Earl of Dunbar fell
upon him at West Nesbit, and completely defeated him. Hep-
. burn himself with a large number of his men fell in the battle,
and many important prisoners were captured. ‘This battle was
fought on the same day that Glendower defeated Mortimer.
The victory caused great exultation on the border; but Alwyn
said to his nephew:

“ Although this is good as far as it goes, Oswald, you may
be sure that Douglas will not brook this disaster with patience,
but will gather the Scottish forces, and we may expect him ere
long at the head of twenty thousand men, and we shall have a
fight as stiff as that of Otterburn. We shall have Northumber-
land ablaze, and you will see that the earl and Hotspur will
soon be preparing to meet the storm. ‘These last forays took
them by surprise, and as lords of the marches they have suf-
fered serious humiliation, for this victory was not theirs, but
the work of Dunbar, and had he not intercepted the Scots on
3832 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

their own side of the border they would have returned scath-
less with the spoils of our northern districts. ‘This disgrace
will spur them on to make great efforts, and these will be
needed or we shall see Northumberland, Cumberland, and
Durham in flames.”

Alwyn was not mistaken. Messengers were sent off to all
those holding knights’ feus throughout the county, bidding
them to prepare to answer to the Percys’ call, and to hold
themselves and their tenants in readiness to march to any
point fixed upon for a general rendezvous. They were to warn
all the countryside that directly news arrived that the Scots
were in motion they were to drive their cattle and horses to
the nearest fortified town, or to take them to hiding-places
among the hills. Everything of value was to be taken away
or hidden, so that the enemy should find but empty houses.
Oswald rode to Yardhope with the message to his father.

“TI know, father,” he said, “that it needed not to warn
you, but as it was but a short distance out of my way to come
round here I thought that I would pay you a day’s visit.”

“No, lad; directly I heard of the victory of Dunbar I said
to myself, this will bring the Scots upon us in force. Douglas
will never put up with the defeat, and will make every effort to
turn the tables. I shall send all there is worth taking away
to a shepherd’s hut among the fells, and shall; as soon as I
hear that Douglas’s preparations are well-nigh complete, jour-
ney with your mother to Alnwick, and leave her there. I
shall return, and with my men will drive the cattle and horses
to places where there is little chance of the Scots finding them,
and will then, after leaving three or four men to look after
them, come back to Alnwick. What do you propose to do?”

“JT shall do much the same, father. Stoubes is strong
enough to hold out against any ordinary raid, but not against
an army led by Douglas. I shall remove the furnishing and
THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL 333

tapestry, and shall send the most valuable into Alnwick and
have the rest of them hidden in the woods. These are the
orders that have been sent all along the border. Any whose
places are so strong that they may well defend themselves for
some time are to gather all their neighbours there; the rest
are to repair to Alnwick to join Percy’s force. You see there
is no knowing where the storm may break; the Scots may
cross the Cheviots anywhere between Berwick and Carlisle,
and until their movements are known the earl and Hotspur
must keep their forces at Alnwick in readiness to march where-
soever required.

“Hotspur has sent messengers down to the Midlands to
engage as many archers as he can get. Of course we have
many here, but the borderers are spearmen rather than archers,
and it were well to strengthen our force. Still, however large
a force he may raise, we cannot hope to check their first incur-
sion. The whole country is open to them, and if they enter
near Carlisle they may be in the heart of Cumberland or Dur-
ham before we are fairly in motion. We may count, however,
on meeting them as they retire, if not before.”

Oswald then rode to his own place, bade all the tenants
prepare to ride with him to Alnwick at an hour’s notice, and
either to send their women and children on there as soon as it
was known that the Scotch army was gathering strongly on the
border, or else to gather stores of provisions up in the hills, and
to send the women and children there the moment word came
that the Scots were on the move. The news of Mortimer’s
defeat and capture had been received by the time Oswald re-
turned to Alnwick.

“’T is bad news indeed,’ Percy said to him, “and I know
that as you have been staying so long at Ludlow you will be
deeply grieved at the misfortune that has befallen Mortimer.
However, I doubt not that he will soon be ransomed. I know
884 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

that the king appointed a commission of knights to treat at
once with Glendower for Lord Grey’s ransom, and has given
orders for the raising of the great sum demanded. It is to be
gathered from a tax on church properties and in other ways,
and doubtless he will do the same for Mortimer, whose lands
have been so harried by the Welsh that it will be impossible
to raise any large sum from the tenants.”

“JT fear, Sir Henry,” Oswald said, “ that the king will be
lukewarm on the subject. During his three invasions he has
never once summoned Sir Edmund to join him, nor has he
passed through Ludlow, as he might well have done, seeing
that it is a central position and the nearest way for an army
marching towards Plinlimmon. I remarked, too, that when I
mentioned Mortimer’s name in my discourse with him, the
king’s brow clouded as if ill-pleased at the name.”

“Then he acts wrongly,” Hotspur said angrily. Mortimer
has given no cause for offence. He has never in any way up-
held the cause of the young Earl of March, and knows well
enough that it would be madness to set up his claim to the
throne when Henry has given no cause for complaint, and-that
the boy’s existence seems to be well-nigh forgotten by the
country. However, as soon as this business is over, I will
myself to London, and will beg the king to exercise the same
benevolence in the case of Mortimer as he has shown on behalf
of Lord Grey. Why, he might as well suspect us, to whom
he largely owes his kingdom, as Mortimer, seeing that my wife
is aunt to the young earl.”

Early in August it became known that preparations were
being made upon a great scale by Douglas for the invasion of
England, and that as Military Governor of Scotland he had
summoned all the great nobles to join with their forces, and it
was even said that numbers of French knights were, on ac-
count of the long friendship between France and Scotland,
THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL 535

crossing the seas to fight under Douglas against their old
enemies.

“ Methinks,” Hotspur said to his knights, “there can be
little doubt that there is an agreement between Scotland and
Glendower, and this would account for the fury the Welshmen
have been showing, and the manner in which they have
destroyed the cathedrals, churches and castles alike, and so
forced Henry to march against them with the forces of the
greater part of England, just when Douglas is preparing to
assail us here.

“The forces of Westmoreland, Cumberland, Durham, and
Northumberland, if together, might hope to make a stout re-
sistance even against so large a force as Douglas is collecting,
but we cannot so gather. The Earl of Westmoreland, who
commands the forces of his own county and Cumberland,
must needs hold them together, lest the Scots pour down,
besiege Carlisle, and carry fire and sword through those
counties. From here up to Berwick the country has been so
plundered and devastated that it is almost a desert, and I can
draw no strength from there. As to Durham, they urge, and
with some truth, that as the Scots have before now laid portions
of their county waste, they cannot send their forces so far
north as this place, as it would leave them unprotected should
the enemy march through Tynedale into their county.

“The king has entered Wales with the fighting men of thirty-
four counties, so from him no aid can be expected, and it
seems to me that we shall be quite unable to make head against
the invasion, though assuredly when we have gathered our
forces, and are joined by those Dunbar will bring us, we will
meet them as they return spoil-laden to the border.”

Well-mounted messengers had been placed on every road
by which the Scots could cross the border, and on the 18th of
August one came with the news that twelve hours before they
386 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

had crossed into Cumberland at Kirksop Foot, that they were
reported to be ten thousand strong, and that a dozen villages
were already in flames. Another portion of their army had
crossed near Tynehead, and were pouring into Tynedale.

John Forster and his wife had arrived some days before ;
Oswald had found comfortable lodgings for his mother in the
town, which was already crowded with women and children
from the border. His father had left again at once, but re-
turned with twenty spears twelve hours after the messenger had
brought the news.

«J had two or three of my men out,” he said to Oswald as
he rode in and dismounted in the castle yard, “ but as soon as
I heard that the Scots had entered Tynedale I knew that it
was time to be off, for they are sure to send over strong parties
to ravage Coquetdale. The road was well-nigh blocked in some
places with fugitives. In spite of the warnings that have been
issued, most of the people seem to have thought that the Scots
could never come in their direction, and the news has caused
a panic. However, near the border the Scots will find but
little plunder. We have had so many invasions that no man
is foolish enough to spend money on aught that he cannot
easily carry away, and the raiders will there find but empty
houses. They may sweep in some of the cattle from the hills
to supply them with food on their march, but more than this
they will not take as they go south, as it would be but an
encumbrance.”

In a few days a strong force was collected at Alnwick, but
though chafing at the news of the terrible devastations that
were being made by the Scots in Cumberland and Durham,
the earl and Hotspur could at present do nothing. The in-
vasion was indeed one of the most disastrous that had ever
taken place, and after having almost devastated the two coun-
ties, Douglas, with the united force, and an enormous train
THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL 337

of waggons laden with plunder, great quantities of cattle and
other spoil, turned north again at the end of the second week
of September. In the meanwhile Percy’s force had been
steadily growing. He had early resolved that upon the return
of the Scots the battle must be fought, and contented himself
with sending small bodies of well-mounted knights and horse-
men to hover in the neighbourhood of the Scotch army, and
to keep him informed of their intentions and the route they
seemed disposed to take.

Douglas had carried his devastations up to the walls of New-
castle, but had not attempted to attack that strongly-defended
town. He had indeed gathered as much spoil as could pos-
sibly be taken along, and he moved north in a quiet and lei-
surely way, being greatly hampered by the enormous train of
loaded waggons. As soon as the Earl of Northumberland and
his son saw that he intended to march up through Northumber-
land instead of returning by the line that he had come through
Tynedale, they set their force in motion, and marched out,
leaving a sufficient strength to hold Alnwick should Douglas
attack it. Being joined two days later by the Earl of Dunbar,
they posted themselves in a position whence they could march
to intercept the Scots upon any road they might follow on their
way north.

On the rath they learned for certain that the Scots were
following the road that would take them through Wooler.
Moving instantly, the earl with his forces came up to them
posted on a hill a mile to-the north-west of Homildon. He
at once seized a hill facing it, and disposed his knights, men-
at-arms, and spearmen along the crest. Hotspur would straight-
way have charged down and attacked the Scots in their
position, but Dunbar put his hand on his bridle, and urged
him strongly to await the assault, and to provoke the Scots

into taking the offensive by galling them with his archers, in
22
338 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

which he was far superior to them, while on the other hand
they were much stronger in spears and horsemen.

Hotspur, seeing the goodness of the advice, assented to it,
and ordered the archers to descend at once into the valley
between the two hills, and to launch their arrows against the
Scots. On descending, it was found that the Scottish bowmen
were already in the valley. These they speedily drove up the
hill, and then sent their arrows thick and fast among the
Scottish men-at-arms. Douglas had, like the Earl of Dunbar,
perceived at what disadvantage the party who took the offen-
sive would have to fight, and had determined to stand on the
defensive, especially as, if he moved forward, the English
could detach bodies of horsemen to work round the hill and
fall upon his immense train of waggons.

For a time he refused to accede to the earnest entreaties
of his knights to advance, but as man after man fell under
the English arrows, their impatience increased, until one of
his best knights, Sir John Swinton, rode a few paces out of
the ranks and in a loud voice said, “ My brave comrades, what
fascinates you to-day that you stand like deer and fawns in
a park to be shot, instead of showing your ancient valour and
meeting your foes hand tohand? Let those who will, descend
with me, and, in the name of God, we will break that. host
and conquer, or, if not, we will at least die with honour like
soldiers.”

A mighty shout followed his words, and the whole Scottish
host dashed down the hill. The English archers fell back a
little, still shooting as they did so, but halted a short way up
the hill, and shot so hotly and strongly that. they pierced
helmet and armour with their arrows. Nothing could with-
stand these missiles, shot by the finest and strongest bowmen
in the world. The Scots rolled over in heaps. Douglas,
although clad in the most perfect steel armour, was wounded
THE BATTLE OF HOMILDON HILL 889

in five places, one arrow destroying the sight of one of his
eyes. He fell from his horse, and utter confusion reigned in
the Scottish ranks. Swinging their bows behind them the
archers drew their axes and rushed into the crowd, effecting
a terrible slaughter.

Douglas was made prisoner, as was the Earl of Fife, a son of
the Regent Albany, the Earls of Moray and Angus and Orkney.
‘Two barons, eighty knights, among whom were several French-
men, and several other persons of rank were also captured ;
while Swinton, Gordon, and many other knights and gentlemen
were slain, together with seven hundred of the commonalty.
With the exception only of Flodden, no battle on the border
was so fatal to the Scottish nobility, whose defeat was effected
by the archers only. The confusion was so terrible that the
Earl of Northumberland refused to allow-his knights and men-
at-arms to charge, seeing that they must trample down both
friend and foe; therefore they stood as passive spectators of
the desperate fight, not a lance being couched nor a blow struck
by any of them. When all was over they took up the pursuit
of the fugitives ; many of these were overtaken and killed, and
the pursuit was continued to the Tweed, where, not knowing
the fords, many of the fugitives were drowned while endeav-
ouring to swim the river.

“Roger, what say you to that? ’’ Oswald asked, as he and his
squire drew rein after pursuing the enemy for some distance.

Roger’s face expressed the strongest disgust. “Well, Sir
Oswald, I don’t call it a battle at all, Who ever heard of a
battle where neither knight nor man-at-arms drew sword?
"Tis out of all reason to fight in that manner.”

“Nevertheless, Roger, as we have won a great victory, what
matter is it whether we or the archers bore the chief hand in
it? The last battle we fought in was a different matter. We
had plenty of fighting, but no victory.”
3840 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

“Tt was more to my taste, nevertheless,” Roger grumbled,
“even though the Welsh well-nigh made an end of me; and,
for myself, I could not help hoping that the archers would be
beaten, and leave it to us to take our part in the fighting.
They had done more than their share when they had broken
the Scottish ranks, and slain I know not how many, and it
would have been fair of them after that to draw back and
leave it to us to finish the business.”

“Tis well as it is, Roger, and for one I am well satisfied.
We have given the Scots a lesson that will keep them quiet .
for along time. We have recovered all the spoil they were
carrying off, and we could have won nothing more had we
been in the thick of the mélée, and come out of it perhaps
sorely wounded again.”

Roger, however, was by no means satisfied, and to the end
of his life always fell into a bad temper when the battle of
Homildon was spoken of. All the prisoners of consequence
were taken to Alnwick, where the army fell back, much to the
disgust of some of the more eager spirits, who would fain have
crossed the frontier and made reprisals for the woes the Scots
had inflicted. Northumberland, however, was well satisfied
with what had been won, and did not wish to provoke the
Scots to extremities, feeling that with so many of their leaders
in his hands he might be able to arrange terms that would
ensure peace for a considerable time on the border.

The prisoners were all treated with great kindness and
consideration. They were lodged in the castle and were
treated as guests rather than as prisoners. Oswald and his
father were both pleased to hear, two days after the battle,
that when the Scottish dead were examined, the bodies of
William Baird and ten of his kinsmen were found lying
together. They had resisted desperately to the last, refusing
to surrender themselves, well knowing that their misdeeds
THE PERCYS’ DISCONTENT 841

and many depredations in England would bring them to the
gallows if taken alive.

“Well, father, we shall be able to live in peace for a time
now. No doubt the Bairds have brought with them every
spear they could muster, for none would willingly have stayed
at home when there was a promise of gathering so much
booty ; therefore their strength must be altogether broken,
and it will be long indeed before the Bairds ride in a raid
into Northumberland.”

His father nodded. _“’T is a good thing, Oswald, assuredly,
though I would rather that we had had the attacking of them
in their own hold. Still, at any rate there is an end of the
feud for years to come, and I shall be able to lie down to
sleep without wondering whether they will be knocking at the
gate before morning.”

CHAPTER XX
THE PERCYS’ DISCONTENT

URING the time that had elapsed between his receiving
the news of Mortimer’s capture by Glendower and the
battle of Homildon Hill, Percy had written several times to
the king with reference to his taking the same steps to ransom
Mortimer that he had taken on behalf of Lord Grey. The
king, however, answered very coldly, and one of his letters
more than hinted that he believed that Mortimer had volun-
tarily placed himself in Glendower’s hands, and that an agree-
ment existed between them. Not only was Hotspur furious at
such an accusation, but the earl himself was deeply angered.
“°T is past all belief,” Hotspur said, “that such a charge
842 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

should be made. Had Mortimer wished to join Glendower he
could have gone to him, not as a prisoner, but at the head of
three thousand good fighting men. Why should he have
thrown away the lives of twelve hundred of his own vassals
and those of his nephew? Nay, more, had Mortimer intended
treachery, he might have marched and fallen on the rear of
the king’s army, entangled among the Welsh mountains and
forests, while Glendower fell upon him from in front. ’Tis a
lie, and bears its mark on its face; ’tis but an excuse for
refusing to ransom Mortimer, who he hopes will be kept a
prisoner for years, and whose estates he will thus be able to
appropriate. ’Tis an insult not only to Mortimer but to us,
to whom he owes his crown. But let him beware ; those who
built up_can pull down.”

The knights standing round put their hands on their sword-
hilts significantly. The king was to the followers of great
barons a person of but small consequence in comparison with
their lord, and they would draw their swords at the latter’s
order as willingly against a king as against a foreign foe.
That it was their duty to do so was so fully recognised that,
in the troubles between the king and his nobles, while the
latter were, if defeated, executed for treason, their vassals were
permitted to return home unmolested ; and it was not until
the battle of Barnet that Edward, enraged at the humiliation
that he had suffered when he had been obliged to fly to France,
gave orders that no quarter was to be shown to Warwick’s
vassals and retainers.

Northumberland and Hotspur were still smarting under this
treatment of Mortimer when, eight days after the battle, the
messenger they had despatched to the king in Wales with the
report of their great victory and the capture of Douglas and
other important nobles, returned with an order from the king
that these prisoners were not to be ransomed.



a RE


THE PERCYS’ DISCONTENT 843

This order was received with passionate indignation by the
earl and Hotspur. Although not altogether contrary to the
usages of the age, since similar orders had more than once
been issued by Edward III., the ransom of prisoners taken
in battle was regarded as one of the most important sources of
revenue, and as the means of defraying the expenses that
nobles and knights were put to in aiding with their vassals
the king in his wars. Occasionally, however, in the case of
prisoners of importance, monarchs deemed it necessary for poli-
tical reasons to forbid the ransom of prisoners. ‘The Scottish
nobles were as indignant as the Percys. They had regarded
it as a matter of course that they would be shortly liberated.
Their ransom, however heavy, would be soon forthcoming, for
it was one of the conditions on which land was held that in
case of the lord being taken prisoner, each of his tenants must
contribute largely, in proportion to his holding, towards the
payment of his ransom.

The order of the king clearly meant that they were to be
taken to London and held there as hostages perhaps for years,
and so not only to ensure England against another invasion, but
to further any designs of conquest that the king might enter-
tain. With three of the great earls of Scotland — one of them
the son of the Regent —and Douglas, the military leader of the
Scots, in his hands, and with the Earl of Dunbar as his ally,
Scotland would be practically at his mercy. An important
meeting was held at Alnwick, at which the Scottish nobles, the
Earl of Northumberland, and Hotspur were alone present,
and here matters of vital interest to the kingdom were
arranged.

For six months things remained in the same state. The
king’s fourth expedition into Wales had effected no more than
the preceding. Glendower was still virtually master of Wales.
Cardiff had been burned by him, with its numerous priories
344 BOTH SIDES THE BORDER

and convents, with the exception of that of the Franciscans ;
the castle of Penmarc and the town and castle of Abergavenny
had been burned, and other strong places captured. The
Percys remained during this time sullen and inactive, although
somewhat mollified by the thanks voted them by Parliament.
The king, as a reward for their services, bestowed upon them
the estates of Douglas. This, however, they treated with scorn,
for as well might he have presented to them the city of Naples
or Paris, since, unless all Scotland was conquered they could
not come into peaceful mastership of the Douglas estates.
Nor, indeed, could the king have intended it in earnest, for he
was far too politic to think of adding so great an increase of
territory to the estates of the Percys, who had already shown
their power by placing him on the throne, and who might some
day take back what they had given him by declaring in favour
of the Earl of March.

One day in February, 1403, Oswald was summoned from
Stoubes to Alnwick, and on his arrival there was requested to
go to the earl’s chamber. Such a summons was extremely
unusual. Hotspur had his own estates and his own retinue
and following, and was jointly with his father warden of the
marches, and though he dwelt generally with him at Alnwick,
he had his own portion of the castle. Thus it was seldom
that the earl had any communication with Hotspur’s knights.
Hastening to obey, Oswald found Hotspur with his father.

“T have a mission for you, Sir Oswald,” Hotspur said, “on
the part of the earl and myself. You know that for a long
time there has been a disputation between my father and the
Earl of Westmoreland respecting the Scottish prisoners. The
earl sent a small force to fight under me at Homildon, but it
was a mere handful, and on the strength of this he advanced
a claim to a considerable share of the ransoms of the prisoners ;
or, since they could not be ransomed, to the custody of the
THE PERCYS’ DISCONTENT 845

persons of the Earls of Moray and Angus. The king has
now, contrary to all reason, inflicted upon us the indignity of
appointing four commissioners, two of whom are but knights
and the other two men of no consequence, to inquire into
the question between my father and my uncle, the Earl of
Westmoreland.

“ Does he think that two of his earls are going to submit
themselves to so gross an indignity — we, who are as much
masters in the north of England as he is in the south? — and
even that he owes to us. I have ridden over and seen West-
moreland, who is as indignant as we are, and we at once
arranged the little matter in which we are at variance, and
agreed upon common measures. But this is not all. Seeing
that the king absolutely ref