In the days that followed it seemed the cruse of contentment would never 
run dry, and I, foolish I, thought angry destiny had misled me, and that 
these green Saxon glades were to witness the final ending of my story. 
Vain hope, illusive expectation The hand of fate was even then raised to 

In that pleasant harborage, outside the ken of ambition, and beyond the 
limits of avarice, surrounded by almost impenetrable mazes of forest land, 
life was delightful indeed. The sun shone yellow and big in those early 
days upon our oak-crowned hillocks -- sometimes I doubt if it is ever so 
warm and ruddy now  -- and December storms told mightily in praise of 
the great yule fires wherewith we defied the winter cold. In the summer-
time, when the sunny Saxon orchards sheltered


the herds of kine in their flickering shadows, and the great drove of black 
swine lay a-basking among the ferns on the distant hangers, we lived 
more out-of-doors than in. Editha then would bring out under the oaks the 
little ruddy. cheeked Gurth, and set him upon my knee, that I might cut 
him reed whistles or bows and arrows, while the flaxen-haired Agitha 
played about her mother, turning her pretty prattle to the merry clatter of 
the distaff and the wheel.

In the winter the blaze that went leaping and crackling from our hearth-
stone shone golden upon the hair of those little ones as they sat wide-eyed 
by me, and saw among the ruddy embers the white horse of Hengist and 
the banner of his brother winning these fertile vales for a noble Saxon 
realm. Never was there a better Saxon than I! And when I told of Harold, 
and softened to those tender ears the story of his dying, the bright drops 
of sympathy stood in my small maiden's eyes, while Gurth's flashed 
hatred of the false Norman and scorn of foreign tyrants. Under such 
circumstances it will readily be understood that I ought to have had little 
wish to draw weapons again or bestride the good charger growing so 
gross and sleek in his stall all this long peace-time.

And yet the silken meshes of felicity were irksome against all reason, and I 
would grow weary of so much good-fortune, finding my pretty deckings 
and raiment heavier -- more burdensome wear -- than ever was martial 
harness. My fair Saxon wife noticed these moods and strove to mend 
them. She would take me out to the hawking, were I never so gloomy, 
and then I would envy the wild haggards of the rocks who got their living 
from day to day in the free midair, and asked no favor of either gods or 
men. Or, perhaps, she would make revelries upon the level green before 
her homestead, and thither would come all the fools and peddlers, all the 
bear-baiters, somersaulters, and wrestlers of the shire. But I was not to be 
pleasured so, and I slew the bear in single combat, and tossed, vindictive, 
the somersaulters over the hucksters' stalls, and broke the ribs in the 
wrestlers' sides -- till none would play with me, and all the people 
murmured. Then, of a night, Editha got the best gleemen in Mercia to sing 
to me, and when they sung of peace, and sheep and orchards, or each 
praised his leman's moonlike eyes and slender middles, I would not listen. 
Nor was it better when they tuned their strings to martial ditties, for that 
doubled my malady, since then their rhyming stirred my soul to new 
unrest, making worse that which they sought to cure.

I sometimes think it was all this to-do which brought Voewood


under Norman notice. But, perhaps, it was the slow and steady advance of 
the invaders' power percolating like a rising tide into all the recesses of the 
land which drew us into the fatal circle of the despoilers, and not my 
waywardness. Be this as it may, the result was the same.

Over to the northward, a score of miles away, where the great road ran 
east, we heard from wandering strollers the Normans were passing daily. 
Then, later, there came in the news-budget of a Flemish peddler tidings 
that the hungry foreigners had licked up all the fat meadows around the 
nearest town, had hung its alderman over the walls, and built a tower and 
dungeon (after their wont) in the middle of it. Yes! and these messengers 
of ill omen said there were left no men of note or Saxon blood to uphold 
the English cause -- there was no proper speech in England but the 
Norman -- there was no way of wearing a tunic but the Norman -- nothing 
now to swear by but by Our Lady of Tours and Holy St. Bridget -- all 
Saxon wives were in danger of kissing -- and all Saxon abbots were 
become barefooted monks!

Never was a country turned inside out so soon or quietly; and as I looked 
over our wide, fair meadows, and upon my sweet girl and her flaxen little 
ones, and thought how already for her I had risked my life, I could not 
help wondering how soon I might have to venture it again.

On apace came the outer conquest into our inner peace. Towns and burghs 
went down, and the hungry flames of lust and avarice fed upon what they 
destroyed. All the vales and hills the swords of Hengist and Horsa had 
won, and baptized with foemen's blood, in the mighty names of old 
Norsemen and Valhalla, were being christened anew to suit a mincing, 
latter tongue. Thane and franklin uncapped them at the road-side to these 
steel-bound swarms of ruthless spoilers, and nothing was sacred, neither 
deed nor covenant, neither having nor holding, which ran counter to the 
wishes of the western scourges of our English weakness.

When I thought of all this I was extraordinarily ill at ease, and, before I 
could settle upon how best to meet the danger, it came upon us, and we 
were overwhelmed. Briefly, it was thus: About twelve years after the 
battle where Harold had died, the Norman leader had, we heard, taken it 
into his head to poll us like cattle, to find the sum and total of our fens and 
lands, our serfs and orchards, and even of our very selves! Now, few of us 
Saxons but felt this was a certain scheme to tax and oppress us even more 
severely than the people had been oppressed in the time of St. Dunstan. 
Besides this, our


free spirits rose in scorn of being counted and weighed and mulcted by 
plebeian emissaries of the usurper, so we murmured loud and long.

And those thanes who complained the bitterest were hanged by the 
divisive Normans on their own kitchen beams -- on the very same hooks 
where they cured their mighty sides of pork -- while those who complied 
but falsely with the assessor's commands were robbed of wife and 
heritage, children and lands, and shackled with the brass collar of serfdom, 
or turned out to beg their living by the wayside and sue the charity of their 
own dependents. Whether we would thus be hanged or outcast, or 
whether we would humble us to this hateful need, writing ourselves and 
our serfs down in the great "Doom's-day" book, all had to choose.

For my part, after much debating, and for the sake of those who looked to 
me, I had determined to do what was required -- and then, if it might be, 
to bring all the Saxon gentlemen together -- to raise these English shires 
upon the Normans, and with fire and sword revoke our abominable 
indenture of thralldom. But, alas, my hasty temper and my inability to 
stomach an affront in any guise undid my good resolutions

Well, this mighty book was being compiled far and wide, we heard, in 
every shire; there were some men of good standing base enough to 
countenance it, and, taking the name of the king's justiciaries, they got 
together shorn monks -- shaveling rascals who did the writing and 
computing -- with reeves hungry for their masters' woodlands, and many 
other lean forsworn villains. This jury of miscreants went round from hall 
to hall, from manor to manor, with their scrips and pens and parchment, 
until all the land was being gathered into the avaricious Norman's tax-roll.

They cast their greedy eyes at last on sunny, sleepy Voewood, though, 
indeed, I had implored every deity, old or new, I could recall, that they 
might overlook it; and one day their hireling train of two score pikemen 
came ambling down the glades with a fat abbot -- a Norman rascal -- at 
their head, and pulled up at our door-way.

"Halloo, there!" says the monk, "whose house is this?"

"Mine," I said, gruffly, with a secret fancy that there would be some heads 
broken before the census was completed.

"And who are you?"

"The Master of Voewood."

"What else?"

"Nothing else."


"Well, you are not over-civil, anyhow, my Saxon churl," said the man of 
scrolls and goose-quills.

"Frankly," I answered. "Sir Monk, the smaller civility you look for from me 
to-day the less likely you are to be disappointed. Out with that infernal 
catechism of yours, and have done, and move your black shadows from 
my porch."

At this the clerk shrugged his shoulders -- no doubt he did not look to be a 
very welcome guest -- and coughed and spit, and then unfurled in our free 
sunshine a great roll of questions, and forthwith proceeded to expound 
them in bastard Latin, smacking of moldy cathedral cells and cloister 

"Now, mark me, Sir Voewood, and afterward answer truly in everything. 
Here, first, I will read you the declaration of your neighbor, the worthy 
thane Sewin, in order that you may see how the matter should go, and 
then afterward I will question you yourself," and, taking a parchment from 
a junior, he begun "Here is what Sewin told us: 'Rex tend in Dominio 
Sohurst; de firma Regis Edwardi fuit. Tune se defendebat pro 17 Hidis; nihil 
geldaverunt. Terra est 16 Carucatae; in Dominio sunt 2oe Curacatae, and 
24 Villani, and 10 Bordarij cum 20 Carucis. Ibi Eclesia quam Willelmus tenet 
de Rege cum dimidia Hida in Elemosina. Silva 40 Porcorum et ipsa est in 
parco Regis --'"

But hardly had my friend got so far as this in displaying the domesticity of 
Sewin the thane, when there broke a loud uproar from the rear of 
Voewood, and the tripping Latin came to a sudden halt as there emerged 
in sight a rabble of Saxon peasants and Norman prickers freely exchanging 
buffets. In the midst of them was our bailiff, a very stalwart fellow, hauling 
along and beating as he came a luckless soldier in the foreign garb just 
then so detestable to our eyes.

"Why," I said, "what may all this be about? What has the fellow done, Sven, 
that your Saxon cudgel makes such friends with his Norman cape?"

"What? why, the graceless yonker, not content with bursting open the 
buttery door and setting all these scullion men at-arms drinking my lady's 
ale and rioting among her stores, must needs harry the maidens, scaring 
them out of their wits, and putting the whole place in all uproar! As I am 
an honest man, there has been more good ale spilled this half hour, more 
pottery broken, more linen torn, more roasts upset, more maids set 
screaming, than since the Danes last came round this way and pillaged us 
from roof to cellar!"'

"Why, you fat Saxon porker!" cried the leader of the troops, pushing to the 
front, "what are you good for but for pillage?"


"Drunken serf! And if it were not for the politic heart of yonder king, I and 
mine  would make you and yours sigh again for your Danish ravishers, 
looking back from our mastery to their red fury with sickly longing! Out 
on you! Unhand the youth, or, by St. Bridget! there will be a fat carcass for 
your crows to peck at!" and he put his hand upon his dagger.

Thereon I stepped between them, and, touching my jeweled belt, said, 
"Fair sir, I think the youth has had no less than his deserts, and as for the 
Yoewood crows, they like Norman carrion even better than Saxon flesh."

The soldier frowned, as well he might, at my retort, but before we could 
draw, as assuredly we would have done, the monk pushed in between us, 
and the athelings of the commission, who had orders to carry out their 
work with peace and dispatch as long as that were possible, quieted their 
unruly rabble, and presently a muttering, surly order was restored 
between the glowering crowds.

"Now," said the scribe, propitiatingly, anxious to got through with his task, 
"you have heard how amiably Sewin answered. Of you I will ask a 
question or two in Saxon since, likely enough, you do not know the 
blessed Latin." (By the soul of Hengist, though, I knew it before the stones 
of that confessor's ancient monastery were hewn from their native rock!) 
"Answer truly, and all shall be well with you. First, then, how much land 
hast thou?"

But I could not stand it. My spleen was roused against these braggart 
bullies, and, throwing discretion to the wind, I burst out, "Just so much as 
serves to keep me and mine in summer and winter."

"And how many plows?"

"So many as need to till our corn-lands."

"Rude boar!" said the monk, backing off into the group of his friends, and 
frowning from that vantage in his turn. "How many serfs acknowledge 
your surly leadership?"

"Just so many," I said, boiling over, "as can work the plows and reap the 
corn, and keep the land from greedy foreign clutches. There, put up your 
scroll and begone. I will not answer you. I will not say how many pigeons 
there are in our dove-cotes, how many fowls roost upon their perches, 
how many earthen pots we have, or how many maids to scrub them. Get 
you back to the conqueror: tell him I deride and laugh at him for the 
second time. Say I have lived a longish life, and I never yet saw the light of 
that day when I profited by humility. Say I, the smart stranger who 


his ruffian courtier and galloped away with the white maid, Editha of 
Voewood  -- I, who plucked that flower from the very saddle-bow of his 
favorite, and thundered derisive through his first camp there on the 
eastern downs -- say, even I will find a way to keep and wear her in scorn 
of all that he can do. Out with you -- begone!"

And they went, for I was clearly in no mood to be dallied with, while 
behind me the serfs and vassals were now mustering strongly, an angry 
array, armed with such weapons as they could snatch up in their haste, and 
wanting but a word or look to fall upon the little band of assessors and 
slay them us they stood. Thus we won that hour -- and many a long day 
had we to regret the victory.

My luck was against me that time. I hoped, so far as there was any hope or 
reason in my thoughtless anger, to have had a space to rouse the 
neighboring thanes and their vassals upon these our tyrants, and I had 
dreamed, so combustible was the country just then, somehow perhaps the 
flame would have spread far and wide. I saw that abominable thing, 
Rebellion, for once linked hand in hand with her sweet rival, Patriotism; I 
saw the red flames of vengeance in the quarrel I had made my own 
sweeping through the land and lapping up with its hundred tongues every 
evidence of the spoilers! Yes; and even I had fancied that, and there were 
no true Saxon princes for our English throne, there was still Editha, my 
wife; and if there were no swords left to fence a throne so filled, yet there 
was the sword of Phra the Phoenician! Vain fantasy. The faces of the Fates 
were averted.

Those hateful inquisitors had not gone many hours' journey northward, 
when, as ill-luck would have it, they fell in with a Norman captain, Godfrey 
de Boville, and two hundred men-at-arms, marching to garrison a western 
city. To these they told their tale, and, ever ready for pillage and 
bloodshed, the band halted, and then turned into the woodlands where we 
had our lair.

The sun was low that afternoon when an affrighted herdsman came 
running in to me with the news that he knew not how many soldiers were 
in the glades beyond. And before he could get his breath or quite tell his 
hasty message their prickers came out of the wood -- the gallant Norman 
array (whose glitter has since grown dearer to me than the shine of a 
mistress's eyes) rode from under our oak-trees; their banners and 
bannerets fluttered upon the evening wind; their trumpets brayed until 
our very rafters echoed to that warlike sound; the level twilight rays 
flashed back from those serried ranks


and the steel panoply of the warriors in as goodly a martial show as ever, 
to that day, I had seen.

What need I tell you of the negotiations which followed while this silver 
cloud, charged with ruin and cruelty, hung on the dusky velvet side of the 
twilight hill above us? What need be said of how I swore between my 
teeth at the chance which had brought this swarm hither in a day rather 
than in the week I had hoped for, or how my heart burned with 
smothered anger and pride when we had to tamely answer their haughty 
summons to unconditional surrender?

Yet by one saving clause they did not attack us at once. Only to me was it 
clear how utterly impossible was it with a few rugged serfs at my 
command to defend even for one single onset that great straggling house 
against their overwhelming force. To them our strength was quite 
unknown: this and the gathering darkness tempted the Norman to put off 
the attack until the daylight came again, and the respite was our saving. It 
was not a saving upon which I wish to dwell long, for 'twas no more 
glorious than the retreat of a wolf from his hiding-place when the 
shepherds fire the brake behind him.

All along the edge of the hill their watch-fires presently twinkled out, and 
as Editha and Sven the Strong came to me in gloomy conference upon the 
turret we could see the soldiers pass now and again before the blaze, we 
could hear their laughter and the snatches of their drinking-song, the 
hoarse cry of the wardens, and the champing and whinny of the chargers 
picketed under the starlight in lines upon our free Saxon turf. And for Sven 
and all his good comrade hinds we knew to-morrow would bring the 
riveting of new and heavier collars than any they had worn as yet. For me 
and my contumacy, though I feared it not, there could be naught but the 
swift absolution of a Norman sword; while for her -- for her, that gentle, 
stately lady, to whose pale sweetness my rough, unworthy pen can do no 
sort of justice -- there was nameless degradation and half a wandering 
bully's tent.

The serf suggested with his rugged northern valor we should set light to 
the hall, and, with the women and children in our midst, sally out and cut a 
way to freedom, and I knew the path he would choose would have been 
through the hostile camp. But his lady suggested better. She proposed 
both hind and bondsmen should steal away in the darkness. and, since 
valor here was hopeless, disperse over the country-side, and there, secure 
in their humbleness, await our future returning. We, on the other hand, 
would follow them through


the friendly shadows that lay deep and nigh to the house on the 
unguarded side, and then turn us to a monastery some few miles away, 
where, if we could reach it, in sanctuary and the care of one of the few 
remaining Saxon abbots, we might bide our chance, or at least make terms 
with our conquerors.

So it was settled, and soon I had all those kind, shaggy villains in the 
dining-hall, standing there uncapped upon the rushes in the torch-light, 
and listening in melancholy silence to the plan, and then presently, with the 
dispatch our situation needed, they were slipping in twos and threes out of 
the little rearward portal and slinking off to the thickets.

Presently our turn came, and as I stood gloomy and stern in that noiseless, 
empty hall that was wont to be so bright and noisy, fingering my itching 
dagger and scowling out of the lattice upon the red gleam in the night air 
hanging over the Norman camp-fires, there came the fall of my wife's feet 
upon the stairway. In either hand she had a baby, swaddled close up 
against the night air, and naught but their bright wonder-brimming eyes 
showing as she hugged them tight against her sides. For them, for them 
alone, the frown gave way, and I stooped to that escape. We crept away, 
and Editha's heart was torn at leaving thus the hall where she had been 
born and reared, and when, presently, in the shadows of the crowded 
oaks, she found all her slaves and bondsmen in a knot to wish her farewell, 
the tears that had been brooding long overflowed unrestrainedly.

Even I, who had dwelt among them but a space on my way from the 
further world of history toward the unknown future could not but be 
moved by their uncouth love and loyalty There were men there who had 
stood in arms with her father when the cruel Danes had ravished these 
valleys for a score of miles inland, and some who had grown with her in 
the goodly love and faith of thane and servitor as long as she herself had 
lived. These rugged fellows wept like children, called me father, hlafod, 
"bread-bestower," and pressed upon her in silent sorrow, kissing her hands 
and the hem of her robe, and taking the little ones from her arms, and 
pressing their rude unshaven faces to their rosebud cheeks until I feared 
that Gurth or Agitha might cry out, or some wail from that secret scene of 
sorrow would catch the ears of our watchful foemen.

So, as gently as might be, I parted the weeping mistress and her 
bondsmen, and set her upon a good horse Sven had stolen from the 
paddock, and, springing into the saddle of my own strong charger, gave 
my broad jeweled belt to the Saxon that he might divide it among his 
comrades, and, taking a


long tough spear from his faithful hand, turned northward with Editha 
upon our dangerous journey.

We stole along as quietly as might be for some distance in safety, riding 
where the moss was deepest and the shadows thick, and then, just when 
we were at the nearest to the Norman camp in the curve we were making 
toward the monastery beyond, those ill-conditioned invaders set up their 
evening trumpet-call. As the shrill notes came down into the dim starlight 
glade, strong, clear, and martial in the evening quiet, they thrilled that 
gallant old charger I had borrowed from the camp at Hastings down to his 
inmost warlike fiber. He recognized the familiar sound -- mayhap it was 
the very trumpet-call which had been fodder and stable to him for years -- 
and, with ears pricked forward and feet that beat the dewy turf in union to 
his pleasure, he whinnied loud and long!

Nothing it availed me to smite my hand upon my breast at this deadly 
betrayal, or lay a warning finger upon his brave, unwitting, velvet nozzle. 
Luckless, accursed horse, the mischief was done! But yet, I will not abuse 
him, for the grass grows green over his strong, sleek limbs, and right well 
that night he amended his error. Hardly had his neigh gone into the 
stillness when the chargers in the camp answered it, and in a moment the 
men-at-arms and squires by the nearest fire were all on foot, and in 
another they had espied us and set up a shout that woke the ready camp in 
a moment.

There was small time to think. I clapped my hand upon Editha's bridle rein 
and gave my own a shake, and away we went across the chequered 
moonlight glade. But so close had we been that a bowstring or two 
hummed in the Norman tents, and before we were fairly started I heard 
the rustle of the shafts in the leaves overhead. It was more than arrows we 
had to dread, and, turning my head for a moment ere we plunged again 
into dark vistas of the forest road, there, sure enough, was the pursuit 
streaming out after us, and gallant squires and knights tumbling into their 
saddles and shouting and cheering as they came galloping and glittering 
down behind us -- a very pretty show, but a dangerous one.

By the souls of St. Dunstan and his forty monks! but I could have enjoyed 
that midnight ride had it not been for the pale, brave rider at my side, and 
the little ones that lay fearfully a-nestling on our saddle-bows. For hours 
the swift, keen gallop of our horses swallowed the unseen ground in 
tireless rhythm -- all through the night field and coppice and hanger swept 
by us as we passed from glade to glade and woodland to


woodland -- now 'twas a lonely forester's hut that shone for a moment in 
ghostly whiteness between the tree-sterns with the night-shine on its 
lifeless face, and anon we sped through droves of Saxon swine, sleeping 
upon the road-way under their oak-trees, round a muffled swineherd. And 
the great forest stags stayed the fraying of their antlers against the tree 
trunks in the dark coppices as we flew by, and the started wolf yelped and 
snarled upon our path as our fleeting shadows o'ertook him; and then, 
there, ever behind, low, remorseless, stern, came the murmuring hoof-
beats of our pursuers, now rising and now falling upon the light breath of 
the night wind, but ever, as our panting steeds strode shorter and shorter, 
coming nearer and nearer, clearer and clearer.

Had this somber race, whereof Death held the stakes, continued so as it 
began, straight on end, I do not think we could have got away. But when 
we had ridden many an hour, and the heavy streaks of white foam were 
marking Editha's horse with dreadful suggestion, and his breath was 
corning hot and husky through his wide red nostrils, for a moment or two 
the sound of the pursuers stopped. Blessed respite! They had missed the 
woodland road -- but for all too short a space. We had hardly made good 
four or five hundred yards of advantage, when, terribly near to us, 
sounded the call of one of their horsemen, and soon all the others were in 
his footsteps again. This one, he who now led the pursuers by, perhaps, a 
quarter of a mile, gained on us stride by stride, until I could stand the thud 
of his horse-hoofs on the turf behind no more. "Here!" I said, fiercely, to 
:Editha, "take Gurth," and put him with his sister in her arms; then, bidding 
them ride slowly forward, turned my good charger and paced him slowly 
back toward the oncoming knight, with stern anger smoldering in my 

There was a smooth, wide bit of grassy road between us in that center 
midnight Saxon forest. And never a gleam of light fell upon that ancient 
thoroughfare; never the faintest, thin white finger of a star pierced the 
black canopy of boughs overhead; it was as black as the kennel of 
Cerberus; and as I sat on my panting war-horse I could not see my own 
hand stretched out before me -- yet there, in that grim blackness, I met the 
Norman lance to lance, and sent his spirit whirling into the outer space.

I let him come within two hundred yards, then suddenly rose in my 
stirrups, and shouting Harold's war-cry. Since I did not deign to fall upon 
him unawares, "Out! Out! England! England!" awaited his answer. It came 
in a moment,


strange and inhuman in the black stillness, "Rou! Ha Rou! Notre Dame!" 
and then, muttering between my tight-set teeth that surely that road was 
the road to hell for one of us, I bent my head down almost to my horse's 
ears, drove the spurs into him, and, gripping my long keen spear, 
thundered back upon my unseen Norman. With a shock that startled the 
browsing hinds a mile away, we were together. The Norman spear broke 
into splinters athwart my body -- but mine, more truly held, struck him 
fair and full -- I felt him like a great dead weight upon it, I felt his saddle-
girths burst and fly, and then, as my own strong haft bent like a willow 
wand and snapped close by my hand, that midnight rider and his visionary 
steed went crashing to the ground. Bitterly I laughed as I turned my horse 
northward once more, and from a black cavern mouth on the hill-side an 
owl echoed my grim merriment with ghastly glee.

Well, the night was all but done, yet were we not out of the toils. A little 
further on, Editha's floundering steed gave out, and, just as we saw the 
pale turrets of the monastery shining in the open a mile ahead of us, the 
horse rolled over dead upon the grass and bracken.

"Quick, quick!" I said, "daughter of Hardicanute," and the good Saxon-girl 
had passed the little ones to the pommel and put her own foot upon my 
toe and sprung on to my saddle crupper sooner than it takes to tell. Ah! 
and the nearer we came to our goal the closer seemed to be the throb and 
beat of the pursuing hoofs behind. And many an anxious time did I turn 
my head to watch the rogues closing with us, now ever and anon in sight, 
and many a word of encouragement did I whisper to the gallant charger 
whose tireless courage was standing us in such good case.

Noble beast! right well had he atoned his mistake that evening, and in a 
few minutes more we left the greenwood, and now he swept us over the 
abbot's fat meadows, while the white morning mist was lying ghostly in 
wreaths and wisps upon the tall wet grass, and then we staggered into the 
fosse and spurned the short turf, and so past the chequered cloisters, and 
pulled up finally at a low postern door I had espied as we approached the 
nearest wall of the noble Saxon monastery. Surely, never was a traveler in 
such a hurry to be admitted as I, and I beat upon that iron-studded door 
with the knob of my dagger in a way which must have been heard in 
every cell of that sacred pile.

"My friend," said a reverend head, which soon appeared


at a little window above, "is this not unseemly haste at such an hour, and 
my lord abbot not yet risen to matins?"

"For the love of Heaven, father," I said, "come down and let us in!" for by 
this time the Normans were not a bow-shot away, and it still looked as if 
we might fall into their hands.

"Why," said the unwotting monk, "no doubt the hospitality of St. Olaf's 
walls was never yet refused to weary strangers, but you must go round to 
the lodge and rouse the porter there -- truly he sleeps a little heavy, but no 
doubt he will admit you eventually."

"Sir Priest," I shouted in my rage and fear, as the good old fellow went 
meandering on, "our need is past all nicety of etiquette. Here is Editha of 
Voewood, the niece of your holy abbot himself, and yonder are they who 
would harry and take her. Come down, come down, or by the holy rood 
our blood will forever stain your ungenerous lintel!"

By this time the horsemen were breasting the smooth green glacis that led 
up to the monastery walls -- half a dozen of them had outlived that wild 
race -- the reins were upon their smoking chargers' necks, their reeking 
spurs red and ruddy with their haste, the spattered clay and loam of many 
a woodland rivulet chequering their horses to the shoulders, and each 
rider as he came shouting and clapping his hands upon the foam-speckled 
neck of these panting steeds, that strained with thundering feet to the last 
hundred yards of greensward and the prize beyond.

Nearer and nearer they came, and my fair, tall Saxon wife put down her 
little ones by the opening: of the door and covered them with her skirt as 
she turned her pale, white, tearless face to the primrose flush of the 
morning. And I -- with bitterness and despair in my heart unsheathed my 
Saxon sword and cast the scabbard fiercely to the ground, and stood out 
before them -- my bare and heaving breast a fair target for those 
glistening oncoming Norman lances.

And then -- just when that game was all but lost -- there came the sweet 
patter of sandaled feet within; bolt by bolt was drawn back; willing hands 
were stretched out; the mother and her babies were dragged from the 
steps -- even my charger was swallowed by the friendly shelter, and I 
myself was pulled back lastly - - the postern slammed to, and, as the great 
locks turned again, and the iron bars fell into their stony sockets, we heard 
the Norman chargers' hoofs ringing on the flagstones, and the angry 
spear-heads rattling on the outer studs of that friendly oaken door.


Thus was the gentle franklin saved; but little did I think in saving her how 
long I was to lose her. I had but stabled my noble beast down by the 
abbot's own palfrey, and fed and watered him with loving gratitude, and 
then had gone to Editha and my own supper (waited on by many a 
wondering, kindly one of these corded, russet brothers), when that 
strange fate of mine overtook me once again. I know not how it was, but 
all on a sudden the world melted away into a shadowy fantasy, my head 
sunk upon the supper-board, and there -- between the goodly abbot and 
the fair Saxon lady -- I fell into a pleasant, dreamless sleep.

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Chapter 8