STRANGE, eventful, and bloody were the incidents that followed. king 
:Edward, buruing for glory, had landed in Normandy a little time before, 
had knighted on these yellow beaches that gallant boy his son, and with 
the young prince and some fourteen thousand English troops, ten 
thousand wild Welshmen, and six thousand Irish, pillaging and destroying 
as he went, he had marched straight into the heart of unready France. 
With that handfLZl of men he had burned all the ships in Eogue, Barfleur, 
and Cherbourg; he had stomed Montebourg, Carentan, St. Lo, and 
Valognes, sending a thousand sails laden with booty back to England, and 
nOW, day by day, he was pressing southward through his fair rebellious 
territories, deriding the Freneh king in his own country, and taking tithe 
and taxes in rough fashiou with fire and sword.

Nor had he who came late far to seek for the sovereign. His whereabouts 
was well enough to be told by the rolling smoke that drifted heavily to 
leeward of his marching columns, and the broad trail of desolation 
through the smiling country that marked his stern progress. To travel that 
sad road was to see naked war stripped of all her excusing pageantry, to 
see gray desolation and lean sorrow following in the gay train of Victory.

Gods! it was a sad path. Bere, as we rode along, would lie the still 
sn~oldering ashes of a burned village, black and gray in the smiling 
August sunshine. In such a hamlet, perhaps, across a threshold, his mouth 
agape and staring eyes fixed on the unmoved heavens, would lie a 
peasant herdsma~, his right hand still grasping the humble weapon 
wherewith he Lad sougbt to protect his home, and the black wound in his 
breast showing whence his spirit had hed indignant to the dim place of 

Xeither women nor babes were exempt from that fierce ruin. Once we 
passed a white and silent mother lying dead in mid-path, and the babe, 
still clasped in her stiff arms, was rundy and hungry, and beat with tiny 
hands to wake her, and crowed angry ai its failure, and whimpered so 
pitiful and small, and was so unwotting of the merry game of war and all 
it meant, that the laughter and talk died away upon the lips of those with 
me as, one by one, we paced slowly past that melancholy thing.

At another time, I remember, we came to where a little


maid of some three tender years was sitting weaving flowers on the black 
pile of a ruined cottage, that, thmlgh her small mind did not grasp it, hid 
the charred bodies of ail her people. She twined those white and yellow 
daisies with fair, smootil hands, and was so sunoy in the face and trnstful-
eyed I could not leave her to marauning Irish spears, or the cruel wolf-
dogs who would come for her at sunset. I turned my impatient charger 
into the black ruin, and, matlyle that little maid's consent, plucked her 
from the ashes, and rode with her upon my saddle-bow until we met an 
honest-seeming peasant wom~ an. To her I ga~e the waif, with a silver 
crown for patrimony.

Out in the open the broad stream of war had spread itself. The yellow 
harvests were trodden nnder foot, and hedge and fence were l~roken. 
The plow stood half-way through the furrow, and the reaper was dead 
with the sickle in his hand. Elere, as we rode, went up to heaven the 
smoke of coppice and homestead; and there, from the rocks hanging over 
our path, luckless maids and wi30wed matrons woLIld howl and spit 
upon us hl their wild grief, cursing ns in going, in coming, in peace and in 
war, while they loaded the frightened echoes with their shrieks and 

Now and then, on grass and road-side, were dark patches of new-dried 
blood, and by them, may be, lay country cloaks and caps and weapons. 
Thore we knew men had fahen  singly, and had long lain wounded or 
dead, until their friends had taken them to grave or shelter. Out ia the 
open again, where skirmishes had happened, and bill and bow or spear 
had met their like, the dead lay thicker. GLods! how drear those fair 
French fields did lie in the autumn moonlight, with their scattered dead in 
twos and threes and knots and clusters! There were some who sprawled 
upon the ground, still clutching in their dead white fiagers the grass and 
earth torn up in the moment of their agony. And here was he who 
scowled with dead white eyes on the pale starlight, one hand on his 
broken hilt and the other fast gripped npon the spear that pinned him to 
the earth. Near him was a fair boy, dead, with the shriek still seerrling 
upon his livid lips, and the horrid rent in his bosom that had let out his 
soul looming black in the gloam. Yonder a tall trooper still stared out 
grimly after the English, and smiled in death with a cloth-yard shaft 
buried to the feather in his heart. Some there were of the horrid dead who 
still lay in gral~ple as they had fahen --~it a~ stalwart Saxon and the 
bronzed Gaul with iron fingers of each other's throats, smiling their black 
hatred into each other's


bloodless white faces. Others, again, lay about whose arms were fixed in 
air, seeming still to implore with~bloody fingers compassion from the 
placid sky.

One man I saw had died stroking the thin, pain-streaked muzzle of his 
wounded charger -- his friend, mayhap, for years in camp and march. 
luneed, among many sorrowful things of that midnight field, the dead 
and dying horses were not least. It moved me to compassion to hear their 
pain-fraught whinnies on every hand, and to see them lying so stiIf and 
stark in the bloody hollows their hoofs had scooped through hours of 
untempered anguish. what could I do for all those many? But before one I 
stopped, and regarded him with stern compassion many a minute. He 
was a splendid black horse, of magnificent size and strength; and not even 
the coat of blood and mun with which his sweating sides were covered 
could hide, here and there, the care that had but lately groomed and 
tended him. He lay dying on a great sheet of his own red blood, and as I 
looked I saw his tasseled mane had been plaited not long before by some 
soft, skillful fingers, and at every point was a bow of ribbon, such as 
might well have been taken from a lady's hair to honor the war-horse of a 
favorite knight. That great beast was moaning there, in the stinness, 
thinking himself forgotten, but when I came and stood over him he made 
a shift to lift his shapely head, and looked at'me entreatingly, with black 
hanging tongue and thirst-fiery eyes, the while his doomed sides heaved 
and his hot, dry breath came hissing forth upon the quiet air. Well I knew 
what he asked for, and, turning aside, I found a trooper's emptY helmet, 
and, filling it from the willowed brook that ran at the bottom of the slope, 
came back and knelt by that good horse, and took his head upon my knee 
and let him drink. Jove! how glad he was! Forgotten for the moment was 
the battle and his wounds, forgotten was neglect and the long hours of 
pain and sorrow. The limpid water went gurgling down his thirsty throat, 
and every happy gasp he gave spoke of that transient pleasure. And then, 
as the last bright drops hashed in the moonlight about his velvet nozzle, I 
laid one hand across his eyes and with the other drew my keen dagger, 
and, with gentle remorselessness, plunged it to the hilt into his broad 
neck, and with a single shiver the great war-horse died.

In truth, 'twas a melancholy place. On the midnight wind came the wail of 
women seeking for their kindred, and the howl and fighting of hungry 
dogs at ghastly meals, ths smell of blood and war, of smoldering huts and 
black ruh~s. 


stern pastime this, and it is as well the soldier goes back upon his tracks so 

We passed two days through such sights as I have noted, meeting many a 
heavy convoy of spoil on its way to the coast, and not a few of our own 
wounded wending back, luckless and sad, to Englaud, and then on the 
following evening we came upon the English rear, and were shortly 
afterward part and parcel of as desperate and glorious an enterprise as 
any that was ever entered in the red chronicles of war. From the coast 
right up to the white walls of the fair capital itself, King Edward's stern 
orders w ere to pillage and kill and spoil the country, so that there shothd 
be left lZO sustenance for an enemy behind. I havo told yon how the cruel 
Irish mercenaries and the loose soldiers of a baser sort accomplished the 
command. Our English archers and the light-amed W elsh, who scoured 
the front, were mild in their methods compared to them. They, mayhap, 
disturbed the quite of some rustic villages, and in thirsty frolics broached 
the kegs of red vintage in captured inns, robbed hen-roosts, and kissed 
matrons and set maids screaming, but they, unlike the others, had some 
toucli of ruth within their rugged bosoms. But as for keeps and castles, we 
stomed and sacked them as we went, and he alone was rogue and rascal 
who was last into the breach. Our wild kerns and escaladers rioting in 
those lordly halls, many a sight of cruel pillage did I see, and many a time 
watched the red flar.le bursting from the embrasures and windows of 
these fair baronial homes, and could not stay it. The Frcnchmen in these 
cases, such of them as were not away with the army we hoped to fil~d, 
fought brave and stubborn, and we piled their deD.d bodies up in their 
own court-yard. Many a comely dame andi damsel did I watch wringing 
white hands above these ghastly hea~s, and tearing loose locks o£ raven 
hair in piteous appeal to unmoved skies, the while the yellow flames of 
their comely halls went roaring from ffloor to floor, and, in mockery of 
their sobs, crashing towers and staircases mingled with the yells of the 
defenders and the shouting of the pillage.

I fear long ages begin to sap my fiber. There was a time when I would 
have sat my war-horse in the court-yard, and could have watched the red 
blood streaming down the gutters and listened to the shrieking, as cold 
amid the ruin as any viking on a hostile conquered strand. But, somehow, 
with this steel panoply of mine I had put on softer moods; I am 
degenerate by the pretty theories of what they called their chivalry.

Far be it from me to say the English army w~~4 all o~ pacl;


of blood-hounds. War is ever a rough game, the country was foreign, and 
the adventure we were on was bold and desperate; therefore these things 
were done, and chiefly by the unruly regiments and the scullion Irish who 
followed in our rear, ed by knights of ill repute, or none. These hung like 
carrion crorys about our ilanl~s and rcar, and, after each fight, stole armor 
from dead warriors bolder hands had slain, and burned, and thieved from 
high aild low, and butchered, like the beasts of prey they were.

On one occasion, I remember, a skirmish befell shortly after we joined the 
main army, and a French noble, in their ~ hargc, was unhorsed Upon 
OU1- front by an English archer. :Now, I happened to be the only 
mounted man just there, and as this silver shining prize staggered to his 
feet, and went scampering back toward his friends with all his rich 
sheathing safe upon his back, his gold chains rattling Ol!. his iron bosom, 
and his jeweled belt sparkling as he fled, a savage old h"~glish 
swashbuckler, whose horse was hamstrung -- Sir John EIkington they 
called him -- fairly wrung his hands.

"After him, Sir Knight," screamed that unchivalrous ruD;an to me -- "after 
him, in the name of h -- n! If thou rid'st hard he can not get away, and run 
thy spear i~t q~i~der 71is ~crget so as qiot to spoil his armor -- 'tis worth 
at least a hundred shillings,"

I never moved a mnscle -- did not even deign to look down at that cruel 
churl; whereon the grizzly old boar-hound clapped his hand upon his 
dagger and turned on me -- ah! by the light of heaven, he did.

"What! not going, you lazy braggart!" he shouted, beside himself with 
rage--" not going, for such a prize? Beast -- scullion -- coward!"

"Coward!" Had I lived more than a thousand years in a soldier-saddle to 
be cowarded by such a hoary whelp of butchery -- such a d -- -- d old taint 
on the honorable trade of arrms? I spun my charger round, and with my 
gloved left h~md seized tha,t bully by his ragged beard, and perked him 
here and there; lifted him fairly off his feet; stretched his corded, knotted 
throttle till his breath came thick and hard; jerked and pulled and twisted 
him; then cast the ruffian loose, and, drawing my square iron foot from 
my burnished stirrup, spurned him here and there, and kicked and 
~ommeled him, and so at last drove him howling down the hill, all 
forgetful for the moment of prize and pillage.

These lawless soldiers were the disgrace of our camp, they did so rant and 
roar if all went well and when the battle was


fairly won whereto they had not entered; they were so cowardly and 
cruel among the prisoners or helpless that we wouid gladly nave been rid 
of them if we could.

But, after the manner of the time, the war was open to all; behUld the 
flower of English chivalry who rorle round the sovereign's standard, and 
the gallaut bill and bow men wh6 wore his livery and took his pay, 
ubserving the deconcies of war, came hustling and crowding after us a 
host of rune mercouaries, a horde Gf ragged advouturers, who knew 
nothing of honor or chivalry, and had no canons but to plunder, ravish, 
and destroy.

They made a trade of every villainy just outside the camp, where, with 
scoundrel hawkers who followed behind us like lean vultures, they dealt 
in dead mou's goods, bought maids and matrons, and sold armor or 
plunder under our marshal's very eyes.

One day, I remember, I and my shadow Flamaucceur were riding home 
after scouting some miles along the French lines without adventure, 
when, entering our camp by the pickets furthest removed from the royal 
quarter, we saw a crowd of Irish kerns behind the wood where the king 
had stocked his baggage, all laughing rouun some common object. Now, 
these Irish were the olOSt turbulent and dissolute fighters in the army. 
Such shook-headed, fiery ruf~lalls never before called themselves 
Christian soldiers. They and the Welsh were foreTier at foun; but. 
whereas the Welshmen were brave and submissive to their chie£s, keen in 
war, tender of honor, fond of wine-cups and minstrels -- gallant, free 
soldiers, indecd, just as I had known their kin a. thousand years bofore -- 
these savage kerus, on the other hand, were remorseless villains, rune 
and wild in camp, and cut-throat rascals, without compunction, when a 
fight was over. In ordinary circum. sta~lces we should have ridden by 
these noisy rogues, for they cared not a jot for any one less than the camp 
marshal with a string of bitlmen behind him, and feuns between knights 
of King Edward's table and thtse shock-haired kerns were unseemly. But 
on this occasion, over the hustling ring of rough soldiers, as we sat high-
perched upon our Flemish chargers, we saw a woman's form, and craned 
our necks and turned a. little from our course to watch what new devilry 
they were up to.

There, in the midst of that lawless gang of ruffian soldiers, their bronzed 
and grimling faces hedging a space in with a leering, compassionless wall, 
was a fair French girl, all wild


and torn with misadventure, her smooth cheeks unwashed and scarred 
with tears, her black hair wild and tangled on her back, her skirt and 
bodice rent and mundy, fear and shame and anger Hying alternate over 
the white field of her comely face, while her wistful eyes kept wandering 
here and there amid that grinning crowd for a look of compunction or a 
chance of rescue. The poor maid was standing upon an overturned box 
such as was used to carry cross-bow bolts in, her hands tied hard together 
in front, her captor by her side, and s~s we came near unnoticed he put 
her up for sale.

"By Congal of the Bloody Fingers!" said that cruel kern, in answer to the 
laughing questions of his comrades, interlarding his speech with many 
fiery and horrid oaths, the which I spare you, "I found this accursed little 
witch this morning hiding among the rubbish of yonder cottages our 
boys pulled to pieces in the valley, and, as I could Dot light on better ware, 
I dragged her here. But may I roast forever if I will have anything more to 
do with her. She is a tigress, a little she-devil! I have thrashed and beat and 
kicked her, but I can not get the spirit out; let some other fellow try, and 
may Heaven wither him if he turns her loose near me again! Now then, 
what will the best of you give? She is a little travelstained, perhaps -- that 
comes of our march hither, and our subsequent disagreements -- but all 
right otherwise, and, an some one could cure her of her spitfire nature, 
and make her amenable to reason, she would be an ornament to any tent. 
Now you, Borghil, for instance -- it was you, I think, who split the 
mother's skull this morning -- give me a bid for the daughter; you are not 
often bashful in such a case as this."

"A penny, then!" sung out Borghil of the Red Beard; "and, with maids as 
cheap as they be hereabouts, she's dear at that;" and, while the laughter 
and jest went round, those rune islanders bid point by point for the 
unhappy girl who writhed and crouched before them. what could I do? 
Well I knew the vows my golden spurs put upon me, and the policy my 
borrowed knighthood warranted; and yet she was not of gentle birth -- 
'twas but the fortune of war. lf men risk lives in that stern game, why 
should not maids risk something too? King Edward hated turmoil in the 
eamp, and here on desperate venture, far in a hostile country, my soldier 
instinct rose against kindling such a blaze as would have burst out among 
these lawless hot-tempered kerns had I but drawn my sword a foot from 
its scabbard. And, thinking thus, I sat there with bent head, scowling 
behind my visorbars, and turning my eyes now to my ready hilt that 
shone ~o


convenient at my thigh, and anon to the tall ~ormandy maid, so fair, so 
piti ul, and in such sorry straits.

While I sat thus uncertain the girl's price had gone up to livepence, and, 
there being no one to give more, she was about to be handed over to an 
evil-looking fellow with a scar destroying one eye and dividing his nose 
with a hideous yellow seam that went across his face from temple to chin. 
This gross mercenary had almost told the five coins into the 
bloodsmunged hand of the other Irishman, and the bargain was near 
complete, when, to my surprise, Flamaueecur, who had been watching 
behind me, pushed his charger boldly to the front, and cried out in that 
smooth voice of his, "Wait a spell, my friends I think the maid is worth 
another coin or two!" and he plunged his hand into the wallet that hurlg 
boside his dagger.

This interruption surprised every one, and for a moment there was a hush 
in the circle. Then he of the one eye, with a very wicked scowl, produced 
and bid another pelmy, the which Flamaucceur immediately capped by 
yet another. Each put down two more, and then the Celt came to the 
bottom of his store, and, with a monstrous oath, swept back his money, 
and commending the maid and Flamaueecur to the bottomles6 pit of hell, 
backed off amid his laughing friends.

Not a whit disconcerted, my peaceful gallant rode up to the grim 
purveyor of that melancholy chattel, and having paid the silver, with a 
calm indifference which it shocked me much to see, unwound a few feet 
of the halter-rope depending from his Flemish crupper. The loose end of 
this the man wonun round and tied upon the twisted wiLbes wherewith 
the maid's white wrists were fastened.

Such an escape from the difficulty had never occurred to my slower mind, 
and now, when my lad turned toward the quarter where his tent lay, and 
apparently mighty content with himself, stepped his charger out with the 
unhappy girl trailing along at his side, his lightness greatly pained me. 
Nor was I pleasured by the laughter and gibes of English squires and 
knights who met us.

"Halloo! youvaloroustwo," called out a mounted captain, "whose hen-
roosts have you been robbing?" And then, another said, "Faith! they've 
been recruiting;" and again, "'Tis a new page they've got to buckle them 
up and smooth their soldier pillows." All this was hard to bear, and I saw 
that even Fia~naucceur haug his head a little and presenily rode along by 
by-ways less frequented. At one time he turned to me most in~locc2lt like 
and said:


"Such a friend as this is just what I have been needing ever since I left the 
English shore."

"Iuneed," I answered, sardonically, "I do confess I am more surprised than 
perhaps I should be. It is as charming a handmaid as any knight could 
wish. Shall you send one of those long raven tresses home to thy absent 
lady with thy uext bunget of sighs and true-love tokens?"

Bwt Flamaucceur shook his head, and said I misunderstood him bitterly. 
He was going on to say he meant to free the ma~d ' to-morrow or the 
next day," when we turued a coruer in our martial village street, and 
pulled up at our owu tent doors.

Now, that Breton girl had submitted so far to be dragged along in a 
manner of lethargy born of her sick heart and misery, but when we 
stayed our chargers the very pause arowsed her. She drew her poor 
frightened wits together and glared first at us, and then at our knightly 
pennons fluttering over the white lhltels of our lodgment; then, jumping 
to some dreadful, sad conclusion, she fired up as fierce and sunden as a 
trapped tigress when the last outlet is closed upan her. She stamped and 
raged, and twisted her fair white arms until the rough withes or1 her 
wrists cut deep into the tender flesh, and the red blood went twining 
down to her torn and opcn bodice; she screamed, and writhed, and 
struggled against the glossy side of that gentle and mighty war-horse, 
who looked back wmldering on her, and snided her flagrant sorrow with 
wide velvet nostrils, no more moved than a gray crag by the beating of 
the sumruer sea, and then she turned on us.

Gads! she swore at us in such mellow Bisque as might have made a 
hardened trooper envious; cursed us and our chivalry, called us forsworn 
knights, stains upon manhood, dogs and vampires; then dropped upon 
her knee, and there, Suppliant, locked her swohen  and bloody hands, 
and, with the hot white tears sparkling in her red and weary eyes, knelt to 
us, and in the wild, tearful grief of her peo~ple, "for the honor of our 
mothers, and for the sake of the bright distant maid we loved,'3 begged 
mercy and freedom.

And all through that storm of wild, sweet grief that callous libertine, 
Flamaucoeur, made no show of freeing her. He sat his prick-eared, 
wondering charger, stared at the maid, and fingered his dagger-chain as 
tl~nugn,ll perplexed and doubtful. The hot torrent of tLat psor gi~ l's niisc, 
v st - med to daze and tie his tongue; he ma~le no sign of cor~l~niselation 
and no movement, until at last I cowld stand it no longer. Wheeling


round my war-horse, so that I could shake my mailed fist in the face of 
that saplblg villain:

"By the light of day!" I burst out, half in wrath and half in amused 
bewildement, "this goes too far. Why, Flamaueecur, can you not see this is 
a maid in a hundred, and one who well deserves to keep that which she 
asks for? Jove! man, if you must have a hand-maiden, why the country 
swarms with forlorn ones who will glad compound with fate by accepting 
the protection of thy tent. But this one -- come, let my friennship go in 
pawn against her, and free the maid. lf you musl; have something more 
solid still, set her free, unhuimed, and I will give thee a helmetful of 
pennies that is to say, on the first time that I own so many,"

But Flamaueecur laughed more scornfully than he often did, and, 
muttering that we were " all fools together," turned from me to the wild 
thing at his side.

"Look here," he said, "yml mad girl. Come into my tent, and I will explain 
everything. You shall be all unhamed, I vow it, an`1 £ree to leave me if 
you will not stop; this is all mad folly, though out here I can not tell you 

"I will not trust you," she screamed, in arms again, straining at those 
horrid red wrists of hers and glaring on us. "Mother of Christ!" she 
shouted, turning to a lknot of squires and captains who had gathered 
around us; " for the dear Light of neaven, some of you free my wretched 
spirit with your maces; here -- here -- some friendly spear for this 
friendless bosom! one dagger-thrust to rid me from these cursed tyrants, 
and I will take the mamory of my slayer straight to the seat of merc~r and 
mix it forever with my grateful prayers. ~h, itl Christian charity unsheathe 
a weapon!"

I heard that slim soldier Flan~aueecur groan within his helmet at this; then 
down he bent. "Mad, mad girl!" I heard him saN, and then followed a 
whisper which was lost between his h~ilow helmet and his prisoner's ear. 
Whatever it was, the etRect was instantaneous and wo~ldcrful.

"Impossible'" burst ont the French girl, starting away as far as the cords 
would let her, and eying her captor with surprise and amazement.

"'Tis truth, I swear it!"

"Oh, impossible! Thon a -- "

"Hush, hush!" cried Flamaucceur, putting his hand upon the girl's mouth, 
and speaking again to her in his soft low voice, and as he did so her eyes 
ran over him, the fear and wonder slowly melted away, and then, 
presently, with a delighted smile at length shining behind her undried 
tears, she


clasped and kissed his hand with a vast show of delight as ungoverned as 
her grief had been, and when he had freed her and descended from his 
charger, to our amazement led rather than followed that knight most 
willingly to his tent, and there let fall the flap behind them

"NGW that," said the king's jester, who had come up while this matter was 
passing -- "that is what I call a truly persuas~ve tongue. I would give half 
my silver bells to know what magic that gentleman has that will get 
reason so quickly into an angry woman's head."

"If you knew that'" quoth a stern old knight through the steel bare of his 
morion, "you might live a happy life, although you knew nothing else,"

"Poor De Burgh!" whispered a soldier near me. "He speaks with 
knowledge, fo~men say he owns a vixen, and is more honored and feared 
here by the proun Frenchman than at hs own fireside."

"Perhaps," suggested another to the laughing group, "he of the burning 
heart whispered that he had a double indulgence in his tent. Women will 
go anywhere and do anything when it is the Church which leads thenj by 
the nose,"

"Or, perhaps," put in another, looking at the last speaker, "perhaps he 
hinted that if the maid escaped from his hated clutches she would fall into 
thine, St. C)aen, and she chose the lesser evil. It were an argument that 
would well warrant so sunden a conversion."

"Well, well," quoth the fool, "we will not quarrel over the remembrance of 
the meat which another dog has carried off. Good-bye, fair sirs, and may 
Glod give you all as efficient tongues as Sir Flamaueecur's when next you 
are bowered with your distant ladies. "And laughing and jesting among 
themselves, the soldiers strolled away, leaving me to seek my solitary tent 
in no good frame of mind.
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Chapter 14