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   Chapter 13 No.13

The Lances of Lynwood By Charlotte M. Yonge Characters: 32685

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


There was a village at some distance from the Chateau Norbelle, the inhabitants of which were required to furnish it with provisions. The Castellane, by paying just prices, and preventing his men from treating the peasants in the cruel and exacting manner to which they were accustomed, had gained their good-will. Prompt intelligence of the proceedings of the French army was always brought to him, and he was thus informed that a large treasure was on its way from Bayonne to Carcasonne, being the subsidy promised by Enrique, King of Castile, to his allies, Bertrand du Guesclin and Oliver de Clisson.

It became the duty of the English to intercept these supplies, and Eustace knew that he should incur censure should he allow the occasion to pass. But how divide his garrison? Which of the men-at-arms could be relied on? After consultation with d'Aubricour, it was determined that he himself should remain with John Ingram and a sufficient number of English to keep the traitors in check, while Gaston went forth in command of the party, who were certain to fight with a good will where spoil was the object. They would be absent at least two nights, since the pass of the Pyrenees, where they intended to lie in ambush, was at a considerable distance, nor was the time of the arrival of the convoy absolutely certain.

The expedition proved completely successful, and on the morning of the third day the rising sun beheld Gaston d'Aubricour riding triumphantly at the head of his little band, in the midst of which was a long line of heavily-laden baggage mules. The towers of Chateau Norbelle appeared in his view, when suddenly with a cry of amazement he perceived that the pennon of St. George and the banner of Lynwood were both absent from the Keep. He could scarcely believe his eyes, but forcing his horse onward with furious impetuosity to obtain a nearer view, he discovered that it was indeed true.

"The miscreants!" he shouted. "Oh, my Knight, my Knight!" and turning to the men who followed him, he exclaimed, "There is yet hope! Will you see our trust betrayed, our noble Knight foully murdered and delivered to his enemies, or will ye strike a bold stroke in his defence? He who is not dead to honour, follow me!"

There was a postern, of which Eustace had given Gaston the key, on his departure, and thither the faithful Squire hastened, without looking back to see whether he was followed by many or few-in fact, rather ready to die with Sir Eustace than hoping to rescue him. The ten Englishmen and some eight Frenchmen, infected by the desperation of his manner, followed him closely as he rushed up the slope, dashed through the moat, and in another moment, opening the door, burst into the court. There stood a party of the garrison, upon whom he rushed with a shout of "Death, death to the traitor!" Gaston's arm did the work of three, as he hewed down the villains, who, surprised and discomfited, made feeble resistance. Who they were, or how many, he saw not, he cared not, but struck right and left, till the piteous cries for mercy, in familiar tones, made some impression, and he paused, as did his companions, while, in a tone of rage and anguish, he demanded, "Where is Sir Eustace?"

"Ah! Master d'Aubricour, 'twas not me, 'twas the traitor, Sanchez-'twas Tristan," was the answer. "Oh, mercy, for our blessed Lady's sake!"

"No mercy, dogs! till ye have shown me Sir Eustace in life and limb."

"Alas! alas! Master d'Aubricour!" This cry arose from some of the English; and Gaston, springing towards the bartizan, beheld the senseless form of his beloved Knight lying stretched in a pool of his own blood! Pouring out lamentations in the passionate terms of the South, tearing his hair at having been beguiled into leaving the Castle, and vowing the most desperate vengeance against Clarenham and his accomplices, he lifted his master from the ground, and, as he did so, he fancied he felt a slight movement of the chest, and a faint moan fell upon his ear.

What recked Gaston that the Castle was but half taken, that enemies were around on every side? He saw only, heard only, thought only, of Sir Eustace! What was life or death, prosperity or adversity, save as shared with him! He lifted the Knight in his arms, and, hurrying up the stone steps, placed him on his couch.

"Bring water! bring wine!" he shouted as he crossed the hall. A horse-boy followed with a pitcher of water, and Gaston, unfastening the collar of his doublet, raised his head, held his face towards the air, and deluged it with water, entreating him to look up and speak.

A few long painful gasps, and the eyes were half unclosed, while a scarce audible voice said, "Gaston! is it thou? I deemed it was over!" and then the eyes closed again. Gaston's heart was lightened at having heard that voice once more, even had that word been his last-and answering, "Ay, truly, Sir Knight, all is well so you will but look up," he succeed in pouring a little water into his mouth.

He was interrupted by several of the men-at-arms, who came trooping up to the door, looking anxiously at the wounded Knight, while the foremost said, "Master Gaston, here is gear which must be looked to. Thibault Sanchez and half a dozen more have drawn together in Montfort's tower, and swear they will not come forth till we have promised their lives."

"Give them no such pledge!-Hang without mercy!" cried another voice from behind. "Did not I myself hear the traitorous villains send off Tristan de la Fleche to bear the news to Carcassonne? We shall have the butcher of Bretagne at our throats before another hour is over."

"Cowardly traitor!" cried Gaston. "Wherefore didst thou not cut the throat of the caitiff, and make in to the rescue of the Knight?"

"Why, Master d'Aubricour, the deed was done ere I was well awake, and when it was done, and could not be undone, and we were but four men to a dozen, what could a poor groom do? But you had better look to yourself; for it is true as the legends of the saints, that Tristan is gone to Carcassonne, riding full speed on the Knight's own black charger!"

The news seemed to have greater effect in restoring Eustace than any of Gaston's attentions. He again opened his eyes, and made an effort to raise his head, as he said, almost instinctively, "Secure the gates! Warders, to your posts!"

The men stood amazed; and Eustace, rallying, looked around him, and perceived the state of the case. "Said you they had sent to summon the enemy?" said he.

"Martin said so," replied Gaston, "and I fear it is but too true."

"Not a moment to be lost!" said Eustace. "Give me some wine!" and he spoke in a stronger voice, "How many of you are true to King Edward and to the Prince? All who will not fight to the death in their cause have free leave to quit this Castle; but, first, a message must be sent to Bordeaux."

"True, Sir Eustace, but on whom can we rely?" asked Gaston.

"Alas! I fear my faithful Ingram must be slain," said the Knight, "else this could never have been. Know you aught of him?" he added, looking anxiously at the men.

The answer was a call from one of the men: "Here, John, don't stand there grunting like a hog; the Knight is asking for you, don't you hear?"

A slight scuffle was heard, and in a few seconds the broad figure of Ingram shouldered through the midst of the men-at-arms. He came, almost like a man in a dream, to the middle of the room, and there, suddenly dropping upon his knees, he clasped his hands, exclaiming, "I, John Ingram, hereby solemnly vow to our blessed Lady of Taunton, and St. Joseph of Glastonbury, that never more will I drink sack, or wine or any other sort or kind, spiced or unspiced, on holiday or common day, by day or night. So help me, our blessed Lady and St. Joseph."

"Stand up, John, and let us know if you are in your senses," said Gaston, angrily; "we have no time for fooleries. Let us know whether you have been knave, traitor, or fool; for one or other you must have been, to be standing here sound and safe."

"You are right, Sir Squire," said Ingram, covering his face with his hands. "I would I were ten feet underground ere I had seen this day;" and he groaned aloud.

"You have been deceived by their arts," said Eustace. "That I can well believe; but that you should be a traitor, never, my trusty John!"

"Blessings on you for the word, Sir Eustace!" cried the yeoman, while tears fell down his rough cheeks. "Oh! all the wine in the world may be burnt to the very dregs ere I again let a drop cross my lips! but it was drugged, Sir Eustace, it was drugged-that will I aver to my dying day."

"I believe it," said Eustace; "but we must not wait to hear your tale, John. You must take horse and ride with all speed to Bordeaux. One of you go and prepare a horse-"

"Take Brigliador!" said Gaston; "he is the swiftest. Poor fellow! well that I spared him from our journey amid the mountain passes."

"Then," proceeded Eustace, "bear the news of our case-that we have been betrayed-that Clisson will be on us immediately-that we will do all that man can do to hold out till succour can come, which I pray the Prince to send us."

"Take care to whom he addresses himself," said Gaston. "To some our strait will be welcome news."

"True," said Eustace. "Do thy best to see Sir John Chandos, or, if he be not at the court, prefer thy suit to the Prince himself-to any save the Earl of Pembroke. Or if thou couldst see little Arthur, it might be best of all. Dost understand my orders, John?"

"Ay, Sir," said Ingram, shaking his great head, while the tears still flowed down his cheeks; "but to see you in this case!"

"Think not of that, kind John," said Eustace; "death must come sooner or later, and a sword-cut is the end for a Knight."

"You will not, shall not die, Sir Eustace!" cried Gaston. "Your wounds-"

"I know not, Gaston; but the point is now, not of saving my life, but the Castle. Speed, speed, Ingram! Tell the Prince, if this Castle be taken, it opens the way to Bordeaux itself. Tell him how many brave men it contains, and say to him that I pray him not to deem that Eustace Lynwood hath disgraced his knighthood. Tell Arthur, too, to bear me sometimes in mind, and never forget the line he comes of. Fare thee well, good John!"

"Let me but hear that I have your forgiveness, Sir Knight."

"You have it, as freely as I hope for mercy. One thing more: should you see Leonard Ashton, let him know that I bear him no ill-will, and pray him not to leave the fair fame of his old comrade foully stained. Farewell: here is my hand-do not take it as scorn that it is my left-my right I cannot move-"

The yeoman still stood in a sort of trance, gazing at him, as if unable to tear himself away.

"See him off, Gaston," said the Knight; "then have the walls properly manned-all is in your hands."

Gaston obeyed, hurrying him to the gate, and giving him more hope of Sir Eustace's recovery than he felt; for he knew that nothing but the prospect of saving him was likely to inspire the yeoman with either speed or pertinacity enough to be of use. He fondly patted Brigliador, who turned his neck in amaze at finding it was not his master who mounted him, and having watched them for a moment, he turned to look round the court, which was empty, save for the bodies of those whom he had slain in his furious onset. He next repaired to the hall, where he found the greater part of the men loitering about and exchanging different reports of strange events which had taken place:-"He can't be a wizard, for certain," said one, "or he never would be in this case, unless his bargain was up."

"It were shame not to stand by him now in the face of the enemy," said another. "How bold he spoke, weak and wounded as he was!"

"He is of the old English stock," said a third,-"a brave, stout-hearted young Knight."

"Well spoken, old Simon Silverlocks," said Gaston, entering. "I doubt where you would find another such within the wide realm of France."

"He is brave enough, that no man doubts," answered Simon, "but somewhat of the strictest, especially considering his years. Sir Reginald was nothing to him."

"Was it not time to be strict when there was such a nest of treachery within the Castle?" said Gaston. "We knew that murderous miscreant of a Basque, and had we not kept well on our guard against him, you, Master Simon, would long since have been hanging as high from Montfort's tower as I trust soon to see him."

"But how knew you him, Master d'Aubricour? that is the question," said old Simon with a very solemn face of awe.

"How? why by means of somewhat sharper eyes than you seem to possess. I have no time to bandy words-all I come to ask is, will you do the duty of honest men or not? If not, away with you, and I and the Knight will abide here till it pleases Messire Oliver, the butcher, to practice his trade on us. I remember, if some of the Lances of Lynwood do not, a certain camp at Valladolid, when some of us might have been ill off had he not stood by our beds of sickness; nor will I easily desert that pennon which was so gallantly made a banner."

These were remembrances to stir the hearts of the ancient Lances of Lynwood, and there was a cry among them of, "We will never turn our backs on it! Lynwood for ever!"

"Right, mine old comrades. Our walls are strong; our hearts are stronger; three days, and aid must come from Bordeaux. The traitors are captives, and we know to whom to trust; for ye, of English birth, and ye, my countrymen, who made in so boldly to the rescue, ye will not fail at this pinch, and see a brave and noble Knight yielded to a pack of cowardly murderers."

"Never! never! We will stand by him to the last drop of our blood," they replied; for the sight of the brave wounded Knight, as well as the example of Gaston's earnestness and devotion, had had a powerful effect, and they unanimously joined the Squire in a solemn pledge to defend both Castle and Knight to the last extremity.

"Then up with the good old banner!" said Gaston, "and let us give Messire Oliver such a reception as he will be little prepared for." He then gave some hasty directions, appointed old Silverlocks, a skilled and tried warrior, to take the place of Seneschal for the time, and to superintend the arrangements; and sending two men to guard the entrance of Montfort's tower, where Sanchez and his accomplices had shut themselves up, he returned to the Castellane's chamber.

Never was there an apartment more desolate. Chateau Norbelle was built more to be defended than to be inhabited, and the rooms were rather so much inclosed space than places intended for comfort. The walls were of unhewn stone, and, as well as the roof, thickly tapestried with cobwebs,-the narrow loophole which admitted light was unglazed,-and there was nothing in the whole chamber that could be called furniture, save the two rude pallets which served the Knight and Squire for beds, and a chest which had been forced open and rifled by the mutineers. They had carried off Eustace's beloved books, to burn them in the court as instruments of sorcery, and a few garments it had likewise contained lay scattered about the room. Gaston hastened to the side of his beloved Knight, almost dreading, from his silence and stillness, to find him expiring. But he was only faint and exhausted, and when Gaston raised him, and began to examine his wounds, he looked up, saying, "Thanks, thanks, kind Gaston! but waste not your time here. The Castle! the Castle!"

"What care I for the Castle compared to your life!" said Gaston.

"For my honour and your own," said Eustace, fixing his eyes on his Squire's face. "Gaston, I fear you," he added, stretching out his hand and grasping that of d'Aubricour; "if you survive, you will forget the duty you owe the King, for the purpose of avenging me upon Clarenham. If ever you have loved me, Gaston, give me your solemn promise that this shall not be."

"It was the purpose for which I should have lived," said Gaston.

"You resign it?" said Eustace, still retaining his hold of his hand. "You touch not one of my wounds till you have given me your oath."

"I swear it, then," said Gaston, "since you will ever have your own way, and I do it th

e rather that Messire Oliver de Clisson will probably save me the pain of keeping the pledge."

"You have taken all measures for defence?"

"Yes. The men-at-arms, such as are left, may be trusted, and have all taken an oath to stand by us, which I do not think they will readily break. The rest either made off with the baggage-mules, or were slain when we broke in to your rescue, or are shut up with Le Borgne Basque in Montfort's tower. I have sent the men to their posts, put them under Silverlock's orders, and told him to come to me for directions."

Eustace at last resigned himself into the Squire's hands. A broken arm, a ghastly-looking cut on the head, and a deep thrust with a poniard in the breast, seemed the most serious of the injuries he had received; but there were numerous lesser gashes and stabs which had occasioned a great effusion of blood, and he had been considerably bruised by his fall.

Gaston could attempt nothing but applying some ointment, sold by a Jew at Bordeaux as an infallible cure for all wounds and bruises; and, having done all he could for the comfort of his patient, quitted him to attend to the defence of the Castle.

His first visit was to Montfort's tower, one of the four flanking the main body of the Castle.

"Well, Master Thibault Sanchez, or, if you like it better, Le Borgne Basque," cried he, "thank you for saving us some trouble. You have found yourself a convenient prison there, and I hope you are at your ease."

"We shall see how you are at your ease, Master Gaston le Maure," retorted Sanchez from the depths of the tower, "when another Borgne shall make his appearance, and string you up as a traitor to King Charles, your liege lord."

"Le Borgne Basque talking of traitors and such gear!" returned Gaston; "but he will tell a different tale when the succours come from the Prince."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Thibault, "a little bird whispered in mine ear that you may look long for succour from Bordeaux."

This was, in a great measure, Gaston's own conviction; but he only replied the more vehemently that it could not fail, since neither Knights nor Castles were so lightly parted with, and that he trusted soon to have the satisfaction of seeing the inhabitants of the tower receive the reward of their treachery.

Thus they parted-Thibault, perfectly well satisfied to remain where he was, since he had little doubt that Oliver de Clisson's speedy arrival would set him at liberty, and turn the tables upon Gaston; and Gaston, glad that, since he could not at present have the satisfaction of hanging him, he was in a place where he could do no mischief, and whence he could not escape.

Now the warder on the watch-tower blew a blast, and every eye was turned towards the eastern part of the country, where, in the direction of Carcassonne, was to be seen a thick cloud of dust, from which, in due time, were visible the flashes of armour, and the points of weapons. Gaston, having given his orders, and quickened the activity of each man in his small garrison, hurried down to bear the tidings to Sir Eustace, and to array himself in his own brightest helmet and gayest surcoat.

Ascending again to the battlements, he could see the enemy approaching, could distinguish the banner of Clisson, and count the long array of men-at-arms and crossbow-men as they pursued their way through the bright green landscape, now half hidden by a rising ground, now slowly winding from its summit.

At last they came to the foot of the slope. Gaston had already marked the start and pause, which showed when they first recognized the English standard; and there was another stop, while they ranged themselves in order, and, after a moment's interval, a man-at-arms rode forward towards the postern door, looked earnestly at it, and called "Sanchez!"

"Shoot him dead!" said Gaston to an English crossbow-man who stood beside him; "it is the villain Tristan, on poor Ferragus."

The arblast twanged, and Tristan fell, while poor Ferragus, after starting violently, trotted round to the well-known gate, and stood there neighing. "Poor fellow!" said Gaston, "art calling Brigliador? I would I knew he had sped well."

The French, dismayed by the reception of their guide, held back; but presently a pursuivant came forward from their ranks, and, after his trumpet had been sounded, summoned, in the name of the good Knight, Messire Oliver de Clisson, the garrison of Chateau Norbelle to surrender it into his hands, as thereto commissioned by his grace, Charles, King of France.

The garrison replied by another trumpet, and Gaston, standing forth upon the battlements, over the gateway, demanded to speak with Sir Oliver de Clisson, and to have safe-conduct to and from the open space at the foot of the slope. This being granted, the drawbridge was lowered, and the portcullis raised. Ferragus entered, and went straight to his own stall; and Gaston d'Aubricour came forth in complete armour, and was conducted by the pursuivant to the leader of the troop. Sir Oliver de Clisson, as he sat on horseback with the visor of his helmet raised, had little or nothing of the appearance of the courteous Knight of the period. His features were not, perhaps, originally as harsh and ill-formed as those of his compeer, Bertrand du Guesclin, but there was a want of the frank open expression and courteous demeanour which so well suited the high chivalrous temper of the great Constable of France. They were dark and stern, and the loss of an eye, which had been put out by an arrow, rendered him still more hard-favoured. He was, in fact, a man soured by early injuries-his father had been treacherously put to death by King John of France, when Duke of Normandy, and his brother had been murdered by an Englishman-his native Brittany was torn by dissensions and divisions-and his youth had been passed in bloodshed and violence. He had now attained the deserved fame of being the second Knight in France, honourable and loyal as regarded his King, but harsh, rigid, cruel, of an unlovable temper, which made him in after years a mark for plots and conspiracies; and the vindictive temper of the Celtic race leading him to avenge the death of his brother upon every Englishman who fell into his hands.

"So, Sir Squire!" exclaimed he, in his harsh voice, "what excuse do you come to make for slaying my messenger ere he had time to deliver his charge?"

"I own him as no messenger," returned Gaston. "He was a renegade traitor from our own Castle, seeking his accomplice in villainy!"

"Well, speak on," said Oliver, to whom the death of a man-at-arms was a matter of slight importance. "Art thou come to deliver up the Castle to its rightful lord?"

"No, Messire Oliver," replied Gaston. "I come to bring the reply of the Castellane, Sir Eustace Lynwood, that he will hold out the Castle to the last extremity against all and each of your attacks."

"Sir Eustace Lynwood? What means this, Master Squire? Yonder knave declared he was dead!"

"Hear me, Sir Oliver de Clisson," said Gaston. "Sir Eustace Lynwood hath a pair of mortal foes at the Prince's court, who prevailed on a part of the garrison to yield him into your hands. In my absence, they in part succeeded. By the negligence of a drunken groom they were enabled to fall upon him in his sleep, and, as they deemed, had murdered him. I, returning with the rest of the garrison, was enabled to rescue him, and deliver the Castle, where he now lies-alive, indeed, but desperately wounded. Now, I call upon you, Sir Oliver, to judge, whether it be the part of a true and honourable Knight to become partner of such miscreants, and to take advantage of so foul a web of treachery?"

"This may be a fine tale for the ears of younger knights-errant, Sir Squire," was the reply of Clisson. "For my part though I am no lover of treason, I may not let the King's service be stayed by scruples. For yourself, Sir Squire, I make you a fair offer. You are, by your tongue and countenance, a Gascon-a liegeman born of King Charles of France. To you, and to every other man of French birth, I offer to enter his service, or to depart whither it may please you, with arms and baggage, so you will place the Castle in our hands-and leave us to work our will of the island dogs it contains!"

"Thanks, Sir Oliver, for such a boon as I would not vouchsafe to stoop to pick up, were it thrown at my feet!"

"Well and good, Sir Squire," said Clisson, rather pleased at the bold reply. "We understand each other. Fare thee well."

And Gaston walked back to the Castle, muttering to himself, "Had it been but the will of the Saints to have sent Du Guesclin hither, then would Sir Eustace have been as safe and free as in Lynwood Keep itself! But what matters it? If he dies of his wounds, what good would my life do me, save to avenge him-and from that he has debarred me. So, grim Oliver, do thy worst!-Ha!" as he entered the Castle-"down portcullis-up drawbridge! Archers, bend your bows! Martin, stones for the mangonel!"

Nor was the assault long delayed. Clisson's men only waited to secure their horses and prepare their ladders, and the attack was made on every side.

It was well and manfully resisted. Bravely did the little garrison struggle with the numbers that poured against them on every side, and the day wore away in the desperate conflict.

Sir Eustace heard the loud cries of "Montjoie St. Denis! Clisson!" on the one side, and the "St. George for Merry England! A Lynwood!" with which his own party replied; he heard the thundering of heavy stones, the rush of combatants, the cries of victory or defeat. Sometimes his whole being seemed in the fight; he clenched his teeth, he shouted his war-cry, tried to raise himself and lift his powerless arm; then returned again to the consciousness of his condition, clasped either the rosary or the crucifix, and turned his soul to fervent prayer; then, again, the strange wild cries without confounded themselves into one maddening noise on his feverish ear, or, in the confusion of his weakened faculties, he would, as it were, believe himself to be his brother dying on the field of Navaretta, and scarce be able to rouse himself to a feeling of his own identity.

So passed the day-and twilight was fast deepening into night, when the cries, a short time since more furious than ever, and nearer and more exulting on the part of the French, at length subsided, and finally died away; the trampling steps of the men-at-arms could be heard in the hall below, and Gaston himself came up with hasty step, undid his helmet, and, wiping his brow, threw himself on the ground with his back against the chest, saying, "Well, we have done our devoir, at any rate! Poor Brigliador! I am glad he has a kind master in Ingram!"

"Have they won the court?" asked Eustace. "I thought I heard their shouts within it."

"Ay! Even so. How could we guard such an extent of wall with barely five and twenty men? Old Silverlocks and Jaques de l'Eure are slain Martin badly wounded, and we all forced back into the inner court, after doing all it was in a man to do."

"I heard your voice, bold and cheerful as ever, above the tumult," said Eustace. "But the inner court is fit for a long defence-that staircase parapet, where so few can attack at once."

"Ay," said Gaston, "it was that and the darkness that stopped them. There I can detain them long enough to give the chance of the succours, so those knaves below do not fail in spirit-and they know well enough what chance they have from yon grim-visaged Breton! But as to those succours, I no more expect them than I do to see the Prince at their head! A hundred to one that he never hears of our need, or, if he should, that Pembroke and Clarenham do not delay the troops till too late."

"And there will be the loss of the most important castle, and the most faithful and kindest heart!" said Eustace. "But go, Gaston-food and rest you must need after this long day's fight-and the defences must be looked to, and the men cheered!"

"Yes," said Gaston, slowly rising, and bending over the Knight; "but is there nought I can do for you, Sir Eustace?"

"Nought, save to replenish my cup of water. It is well for me that the enemy have not cut us off from the Castle well."

Gaston's supper did not occupy him long. He was soon again in Eustace's room, talking over his plan of defence for the next day; but with little, if any, hope that it would be other than his last struggle. At last, wearied out with the exertions of that day and the preceding, he listened to Eustace's persuasions, and, removing the more cumbrous portions of his armour, threw himself on his bed, and, in a moment, his regular breathings announced that he was sound asleep.

It was in the pale early light of dawn that he awoke, and, starting up while still half asleep, exclaimed, "Sir Eustace, are you there? I should have relieved guard long since!" Then, as he recalled his situation, "I had forgot! How is it with you, Sir Eustace? Have you slept?"

"No," said Eustace. "I have not lost an hour of this last night I shall ever see. It will soon be over now-the sun is already reddening the sky; and so, Gaston, ends our long true-hearted affection. Little did I think it would bring thee to thy death in the prime of they strength and manhood!" and he looked mournfully on the lofty stature and vigorous form of the Squire, as he stood over him.

"For that, Sir Eustace, there is little cause to grieve. I have been a wanderer, friendless and homeless, throughout my life; and save for yourself, and, perhaps, poor little Arthur's kind heart, where is one who would cast a second thought on me, beyond, perhaps, saying, 'He was a brave and faithful Squire!' But little, little did I think, when I saw your spurs so nobly won, that this was to be the end of it-that you were to die, defamed and reviled, in an obscure den, and by the foul treachery of-"

"Speak not of that, Gaston," said Eustace. "I have dwelt on it in the long hours of the night, and I have schooled my mind to bear it. Those with whom we shall soon be, know that if I have sinned in many points, yet I am guiltless in that whereof they accuse me-and, for the rest, there are, at least, two who will think no shame of Eustace Lynwood. And now, if there is yet time, Gaston, since no Priest is at hand, I would pray thee to do me the last favour of hearing the confession of my sins."

And Gaston kneeling down, the Knight and Squire, according to the custom of warriors in extremity, confessed to each other, with the crucifix raised between them. Eustace then, with his weak and failing voice, repeated several prayers and psalms appropriate to the occasion, in which Gaston joined with hearty devotion. By this time, a slight stir was heard within the Castle; and Gaston, rising from his knees, went to the loophole, which commanded a view of the court, where the French had taken up their quarters for the night in some of the outbuildings-and the lion rampant of Clisson was waving in triumph on the gateway tower.

"All silent there," said he; "but I must go to rouse our knaves in time to meet the first onset." And, as he clasped on his armour, he continued, "All that is in the power of man will we do! Rest assured, Sir Eustace, they reach you not save through my body; and let your prayers be with me. One embrace, Sir Eustace, and we meet no more-"

"In this world." Eustace concluded the sentence, as Gaston hung over him, and his tears dropped on his face. "Farewell, most faithful and most true-hearted! Go, I command thee! Think not on me-think on thy duty-and good angels will be around us both. Farewell, farewell."

Gaston, for the first time in his life, felt himself unable to speak. He crossed the room with slow and lingering step; then, with a great effort, dashed out at the door, closing his visor as he did so, and, after a short interval, during which he seemed to have stopped on the stairs, Eustace could hear his gay bold tones, calling, "Up! up! my merry men, all! Let not the French dogs find the wolf asleep in his den. They will find our inner bartizan a hard stone for their teeth-and it will be our own fault, if they crack it before the coming of our brave comrades from Bordeaux!"

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