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Chapter 9

"Oh, night of wo," she said, and wept,
"Oh, night foreboding sorrow!
"Oh, night of wo," she said and wept,
"But more I dread the morrow!"

The fatigue which had exhausted Flammock and the monk, was unfelt
by the two anxious maidens, who remained with their eyes bent, now
upon the dim landscape, now on the stars by which it was lighted,
as if they could have read there the events which the morrow was
to bring forth. It was a placid and melancholy scene. Tree and
field, and hill and plain, lay before them in doubtful light,
while at greater distance, their eye could with difficulty trace
one or two places where the river, hidden in general by banks and
trees, spread its more expanded bosom to the stars, and the pale
crescent. All was still, excepting the solemn rush of the waters,
and now and then the shrill tinkle of a harp, which, heard from
more than a mile's distance through the midnight silence,
announced that some of the Welshmen still protracted their most
beloved amusement. The wild notes, partially heard, seemed like
the voice of some passing spirit; and, connected as they were with
ideas of fierce and unrelenting hostility, thrilled on Eveline's
ear, as if prophetic of war and wo, captivity and death. The only
other sounds which disturbed the extreme stillness of the night,
were the occasional step of a sentinel upon his post, or the
hooting of the owls, which seemed to wail the approaching downfall
of the moonlight turrets, in which they had established their
ancient habitations.

The calmness of all around seemed to press like a weight on the
bosom of the unhappy Eveline, and brought to her mind a deeper
sense of present grief, and keener apprehension of future horrors,
than had reigned there during the bustle, blood, and confusion of
the preceding day. She rose up--she sat down--she moved to and fro
on the platform--she remained fixed like a statue to a single
spot, as if she were trying by variety of posture to divert her
internal sense of fear and sorrow.

At length, looking at the monk and the Fleming as they slept
soundly under the shade of the battlement, she could no longer
forbear breaking silence. "Men are happy," she said, "my beloved
Rose; their anxious thoughts are either diverted by toilsome
exertion, or drowned in the insensibility which follows it. They
may encounter wounds and death, but it is we who feel in the
spirit a more keen anguish than the body knows, and in the gnawing
sense of present ill and fear of future misery, suffer a living
death, more cruel than that which ends our woes at once."

"Do not be thus downcast, my noble lady," said Rose; "be rather
what you were yesterday, caring for the wounded, for the aged, for
every one but yourself--exposing even your dear life among the
showers of the Welsh arrows, when doing so could give courage to
others; while I--shame on me--could but tremble, sob, and weep,
and needed all the little wit I have to prevent my shouting with
the wild cries of the Welsh, or screaming and groaning with those
of our friends who fell around me."

"Alas! Rose," answered her mistress, "you may at pleasure indulge
your fears to the verge of distraction itself--you have a father
to fight and watch for you. Mine--my kind, noble, and honoured
parent, lies dead on yonder field, and all which remains for me is
to act as may best become his memory. But this moment is at least
mine, to think upon and to mourn for him."

So saying, and overpowered by the long-repressed burst of filial
sorrow, she sunk down on the banquette which ran along the inside
of the embattled parapet of the platform, and murmuring to
herself, "He is gone for ever!" abandoned herself to the extremity
of grief. One hand grasped unconsciously the weapon which she
held, and served, at the same time, to prop her forehead, while
the tears, by which she was now for the first time relieved,
flowed in torrents from her eyes, and her sobs seemed so
convulsive, that Rose almost feared her heart was bursting. Her
affection and sympathy dictated at once the kindest course which
Eveline's condition permitted. Without attempting to control the
torrent of grief in its full current, she gently sat her down
beside the mourner, and possessing herself of the hand which had
sunk motionless by her side, she alternately pressed it to her
lips, her bosom, and her brow--now covered it with kisses, now
bedewed it with tears, and amid these tokens of the most devoted
and humble sympathy, waited a more composed moment to offer her
little stock of consolation in such deep silence and stillness,
that, as the pale light fell upon the two beautiful young women,
it seemed rather to show a group of statuary, the work of some
eminent sculptor, than beings whose eyes still wept, and whose
hearts still throbbed. At a little distance, the gleaming corslet
of the Fleming, and the dark garments of Father Aldrovand, as they
lay prostrate on the stone steps, might represent the bodies of
those for whom the principal figures were mourning.

After a deep agony of many minutes, it seemed that the sorrows of
Eveline were assuming a more composed character; her convulsive
sobs were changed for long, low, profound sighs, and the course of
her tears, though they still flowed, was milder and less violent.
Her kind attendant, availing herself of these gentler symptoms,
tried softly to win the spear from her lady's grasp. "Let me be
sentinel for a while." she said, "my sweet lady--I will at least
scream louder than you, if any danger should approach." She
ventured to kiss her cheek, and throw her arms around Eveline's
neck while she spoke; but a mute caress, which expressed her sense
of the faithful girl's kind intentions to minister if possible to
her repose, was the only answer returned. They remained for many
minutes silent in the same posture,--Eveline, like an upright and
tender poplar,--Rose, who encircled her lady in her arms, like the
woodbine which twines around it.

At length Rose suddenly felt her young mistress shiver in her
embrace, and then Eveline's hand grasped her arm rigidly as she
whispered, "Do you hear nothing?"

"No--nothing but the hooting of the owl," answered Rose,

"I heard a distant sound," said Eveline,--"I thought I heard it--
hark, it comes again!--Look from the battlements, Rose, while I
awaken the priest and thy father."

"Dearest lady," said Rose, "I dare not--what can this sound be
that is heard by one only?--You are deceived by the rush of the

"I would not alarm the castle unnecessarily," said Eveline,
pausing, "or even break your father's needful slumbers, by a fancy
of mine--But hark--I hear it again--distinct amidst the
intermitting sounds of the rushing water--a low tremulous sound,
mingled with a tinkling like smiths or armourers at work upon
their anvils."

Rose had by this time sprung up on the banquette, and flinging
back her rich tresses of fair hair, had applied her hand behind
her ear to collect the distant sound. "I hear it," she cried, "and
it increases--Awake them, for Heaven's sake, and without a
moment's delay!"

Eveline accordingly stirred the sleepers with the reversed end of
the lance, and as they started to their feet in haste, she
whispered in a hasty but cautious voice, "To arms--the Welsh are
upon us!" "What--where?" said Wilkin Flammock,--"where be they?"

"Listen, and you will hear them arming," she replied.

"The noise is but in thine own fancy, lady," said the Fleming,
whose organs were of the same heavy character with his form and
his disposition. "I would I had not gone to sleep at all, since I
was to be awakened so soon."

"Nay, but listen, good Flammock-the sound of armour comes from the

"The Welsh lie not in that quarter, lady," said Wilkin; "and
besides, they wear no armour."

"I hear it--I hear it!" said Father Aldrovand, who had been
listening for some time. "All praise to St. Benedict!--Our Lady of
the Garde Doloureuse has been gracious to her servants as ever!--
It is the tramp of horses--it is the clash of armour--the chivalry
of the Marches are coming to our relief-Kyrie Eleison!"

"I hear something too," said Flammock,--"something like the hollow
sound of the great sea, when it burst into my neighbour
Klinkerman's warehouse, and rolled his pots and pans against each
other. But it were an evil mistake, father, to take foes for
friends--we were best rouse the people."

"Tush!" said the priest, "talk to me of pots and kettles?--Was I,
squire of the body to Count Stephen Mauleverer for twenty years,
and do I not know the tramp of a war-horse, or the clash of a
mail-coat?--But call the men to the walls at any rate, and have me
the best drawn up at the base-court--we may help them by a sally."

"That will not be rashly undertaken with my consent," murmured the
Fleming; "but to the wall if you will, and 111 good time. But keep
your Normans and English silent, Sir Priest, else their unruly and
noisy joy will awaken the Welsh camp, and prepare them for their
unwelcome visitors."

The monk laid his finger on his lip in sign of obedience, and they
parted in opposite directions, each to rouse the defenders of the
castle, who were soon heard drawing from all quarters to their
posts upon the walls, with hearts in a very different mood from
that in which they had descended from them. The utmost caution
being used to prevent noise, the manning of the walls was
accomplished in silence, and the garrison awaited in, breathless
expectation the success of the forces who were rapidly advancing
to their relief.

The character of the sounds which now loudly awakened the silence
of this eventful night, could no longer be mistaken. They were
distinguishable from the rushing of a mighty river, or from the
muttering sound of distant thunder, by the sharp and angry notes
which the clashing of the rider's arms mingled with the deep bass
of the horses' rapid tread. From the long continuance of the
sounds, their loudness, and the extent of horizon from which they
seemed to come, all in the castle were satisfied that the
approaching relief consisted of several very strong bodies of
horse. [Footnote: Even the sharp and angry clang made by the iron
scabbards of modern cavalry ringing against the steel-tipp'd
saddles and stirrup, betrays their approach from a distance. The
clash of the armour of knights, armed _cap-a-pie_, must have
been much more easily discernible.] At once this mighty sound
ceased, as if the earth on which they trod had either devoured the
armed squadrons or had become incapable of resounding to their
tramp. The defenders of the Garde Doloureuse concluded that their
friends had made a sudden halt, to give their horses breath,
examine the leaguer of the enemy, and settle the order of attack
upon them. The pause, however was but momentary.

The British, so alert at surprising their enemies, were
themselves, on many occasions, liable to surprise. Their men were
undisciplined, and sometimes negligent of the patient duties of
the sentinel; and, besides, their foragers and flying parties, who
scoured the country during the preceding day, had brought back
tidings which had lulled them into fatal security. Their camp had
been therefore carelessly guarded, and confident in the smallness
of the garrison, they had altogether neglected the important
military duty of establishing patrols and outposts at a proper
distance from their main body. Thus the cavalry of the Lords
Marchers, notwithstanding the noise which accompanied their
advance, had approached very near the British camp without
exciting the least alarm. But while they were arranging their
forces into separate columns, in order to commence the assault, a
loud and increasing clamour among the Welsh announced that they
were at length aware of their danger. The shrill and discordant
cries by which they endeavoured to assemble their men, each under
the banner of his chief, resounded from their leaguer. But these
rallying shouts were soon converted into screams, and clamours of
horror and dismay, when the thundering charge of the barbed horses
and heavily armed cavalry of the Anglo-Normans surprised their
undefended camp.

Yet not even under circumstances so adverse did the descendants of
the ancient Britons renounce their defence, or forfeit their old
hereditary privilege, to be called the bravest of mankind. Their
cries of defiance and resistance were heard resounding above the
groans of the wounded, the shouts of the triumphant assailants,
and the universal tumult of the night-battle. It was not until the
morning light began to peep forth, that the slaughter or
dispersion of Gwenwyn's forces was complete, and that the
"earthquake voice of victory" arose in uncontrolled and unmingled
energy of exultation.

Then the besieged, if they could be still so termed, looking from
their towers over the expanded country beneath, witnessed nothing
but one widespread scene of desultory flight and unrelaxed
pursuit. That the Welsh had been permitted to encamp in fancied
security upon the hither side of the river, now rendered their
discomfiture more dreadfully fatal. The single pass by which they
could cross to the other side was soon completely choked by
fugitives, on whose rear raged the swords of the victorious
Normans. Many threw themselves into the river, upon the precarious
chance of gaining the farther side, and, except a few, who were
uncommonly strong, skilful, and active, perished among the rocks
and in the currents; others, more fortunate, escaped by fords,
with which they had accidentally been made acquainted; many
dispersed, or, in small bands, fled in reckless despair towards
the castle, as if the fortress, which had beat them off when
victorious, could be a place of refuge to them in their present
forlorn condition; while others roamed wildly over the plain,
seeking only escape from immediate and instant danger, without
knowing whither they ran.

The Normans, meanwhile, divided into small parties, followed and
slaughtered them at pleasure; while, as a rallying point for the
victors, the banner of Hugo de Lacy streamed from a small mount,
on which Gwenwyn had lately pitched his own, and surrounded by a
competent force, both of infantry and horsemen, which the
experienced Baron permitted on no account to wander far from it.

The rest, as we have already said, followed the chase with shouts
of exultation and of vengeance, ringing around the battlements,
which resounded with the cries, "Ha, Saint Edward!--Ha, Saint
Dennis!--Strike--slay--no quarter to the Welsh wolves--think on
Raymond Berenger!"

The soldiers on the walls joined in these vengeful and victorious
clamours, and discharged several sheaves of arrows upon such
fugitives, as, in their extremity, approached too near the castle.
They would fain have sallied to give more active assistance in the
work of destruction; but the communication being now open with the
Constable of Chester's forces, Wilkin Flammock considered himself
and the garrison to be under the orders of that renowned chief,
and refused to listen to the eager admonitions of Father
Aldrovand, who would, notwithstanding his sacerdotal character,
have willingly himself taken charge of the sally which he

At length, the scene of slaughter seemed at an end. The retreat
was blown on many a bugle, and knights halted on the plain to
collect their personal followers, muster them under their proper
pennon, and then march them slowly back to the great standard of
their leader, around which the main body were again to be
assembled, like the clouds which gather around the evening sun--a
fanciful simile, which might yet be drawn farther, in respect of
the level rays of strong lurid light which shot from those dark
battalions, as the beams were flung back from their polished

The plain was in this manner soon cleared of the horsemen, and
remained occupied only by the dead bodies of the slaughtered
Welshmen. The bands who had followed the pursuit to a greater
distance were also now seen returning, driving before them, or
dragging after them, dejected and unhappy captives, to whom they
had given quarter when their thirst of blood was satiated.

It was then that, desirous to attract the attention of his
liberators, Wilkin Flammock commanded all the banners of the
castle to be displayed, under a general shout of acclamation from
those who had fought under them. It was answered by a universal
cry of joy from De Lacy's army, which rung so wide, as might even
yet have startled such of the Welsh fugitives, as, far distant
from this disastrous field of flight, might have ventured to halt
for a moment's repose.

Presently after this greeting had been exchanged, a single rider
advanced from the Constable's army towards the castle, showing,
even at a distance, an unusual dexterity of horsemanship and grace
of deportment. He arrived at the drawbridge, which was instantly
lowered to receive him, whilst Flammock and the monk (for the
latter, as far as he could, associated himself with the former in
all acts of authority) hastened to receive the envoy of their
liberator. They found him just alighted from the raven-coloured
horse, which was slightly flecked with blood as well as foam, and
still panted with the exertions of the evening; though, answering
to the caressing hand of its youthful rider, he arched his neck,
shook his steel caparison, and snorted to announce his unabated
mettle and unwearied love of combat. The young man's eagle look
bore the same token of unabated vigour, mingled with the signs of
recent exertion. His helmet hanging at his saddle-bow, showed a
gallant countenance, coloured highly, but not inflamed, which
looked out from a rich profusion of short chestnut-curls; and
although his armour was of a massive and simple form, he moved
under it with such elasticity and ease, that it seemed a graceful
attire, not a burden or encumbrance. A furred mantle had not sat
on him with more easy grace than the heavy hauberk, which complied
with every gesture of his noble form. Yet his countenance was so
juvenile, that only the down on the upper lip announced decisively
the approach to manhood. The females, who thronged into the court
to see the first envoy of their deliverers, could not forbear
mixing praises of his beauty with blessings on his valour; and one
comely middle-aged dame, in particular, distinguished by the
tightness with which her scarlet hose sat on a well-shaped leg and
ankle, and by the cleanness of her coif, pressed close up to the
young squire, and, more forward than, the rest, doubled the
crimson hue of his cheek, by crying aloud, that Our Lady of the
Garde Doloureuse had sent them news of their redemption by an
angel from the sanctuary;--a speech which, although Father
Aldrovand shook his head, was received by her companions with such
general acclamation, as greatly embarrassed the young man's

"Peace, all of ye!" said Wilkin Flammock--"Know you no respects,
you women, or have you never seen a young gentleman before, that
you hang on him like flies on a honeycomb? Stand back, I say, and
let us hear in peace what are the commands of the noble Lord of


"These," said the young man, "I can only deliver in the presence
of the right noble demoiselle, Eveline Berenger, if I may be
thought worthy of such honour."

"That thou art, noble sir," said the same forward dame, who had
before expressed her admiration so energetically; "I will uphold
thee worthy of her presence, and whatever other grace a lady can
do thee."

"Now, hold thy tongue, with a wanion!" said the monk; while in the
same breath the Fleming exclaimed, "Beware the cucking-stool,
Dame Scant-o'-Grace!" while he conducted the noble youth across
the court. "Let my good horse be cared for," said the cavalier,
as he put the bridle into the hand of a menial; and in doing so
got rid of some part of his female retinue, who began to pat and
praise the steed as much as they had done the rider; and some, in
the enthusiasm of their joy, hardly abstained from kissing the
stirrups and horse furniture.

But Dame Gillian was not so easily diverted from her own point as
were some of her companions. She continued to repeat the word
_cucking-stool_, till the Fleming was out of hearing, and
then became more specific in her objurgation.--"And why
_cucking-stool_, I pray, Sir Wilkin Butterfirkin? You are the
man would stop an English mouth with a Flemish damask napkin, I
trow! Marry quep, my cousin the weaver! And why the cucking-stool,
I pray?--because my young lady is comely, and the young squire is
a man of mettle, reverence to his beard that is to come yet! Have
we not eyes to see, and have we not a mouth and a tongue?"

"In troth, Dame Gillian, they do you wrong who doubt it," said
Eveline's nurse, who stood by; "but I prithee, keep it shut now,
were it but for womanhood."

"How now, mannerly Mrs. Margery?" replied the incorrigible
Gillian; "is your heart so high, because you dandled our young
lady on your knee fifteen years since?--Let me tell you, the cat
will find its way to the cream, though it was brought up on an
abbess's lap."

"Home, housewife--home!" exclaimed her husband, the old huntsman,
who was weary of this public exhibition of his domestic termagant
--"home, or I will give you a taste of my dog lash--Here are both
the confessor and Wilkin Flammock wondering at your impudence."

"Indeed!" replied Gillian; "and are not two fools enough for
wonderment, that you must come with your grave pate to make up the
number three?"

There was a general laugh at the huntsman's expense, under cover
of which he prudently withdrew his spouse, without attempting to
continue the war of tongues, in which she had shown such a decided
superiority. This controversy, so light is the change in human
spirits, especially among the lower class, awakened bursts of idle
mirth among beings, who had so lately been in the jaws of danger,
if not of absolute despair.

Sir Walter Scott