A volume might well be written on what ~ must compress into this 
chapter. On the narrow cauvas of these few pages must be outlined the 
crowded incidents of that noble fight above Crecy, whereof your 
historians know but half the truth; and these same lines, charged with the 
note of victory, full of the joyful exultation of the melee and dear delight 
of hardfought combat -- these lines must, too, record my own illimitable 

If while I write you should hear through my poor words aught of the 
loun sonun of conflict, if you catch aught of the meeting of two great 
hosts led on by 6ingly captains, if the proun neighing of the war-steeds 
meet you through these heavy lines, and you discern aught of the thauner 
of charging squadrous, aught of the Singing wind that~plays above a sea 
of waving plumes as the chivalry of two great nations rush, lile meeting 
waves, Upon cach other, so shall you hear, amid all that joyful tumtht, one 
other sound, one piercing shriek, wherefrom not ennless scores of 
seasons have cleared my ears.

I`isten, then, to the humming bowstrings on the Crecy slopes; to the 
stinging hiss of the black rain of English arrows that kept those heights 
inviolable; to the rattle of unnumbered spears, breaking like~dry 
November reeds under the wild hog's charging feet, as rank behind rank 
of English gentlemen rush on the foe. Listen, I say, with me to the 
thaunerous roar of Prance's baffled host, wrecked by its own mightiness 
on the sharp edge of English valor; listen to the wild scream of hireling 
fear as Doria's crossbowmen see the English pikes sweep down upon 
them; listen to the thunder of proun Alenc,on sweeping round our lines 
with every glittering peer in Fr~c.


behind him, himself in gcmmy armor -- a delusive star of vic. tory. riding, 
revengef~ll, on the foremost crest of that wide, sparkling tide! Eear, if you 
can, all this, and where my poor powers fail, lend me the help of your 
bold English fancy.

t was a hard-fought day indeed! Hotly pursued by the French king, 
numbering ourselves scarce thirty thousand men, while those behind us 
were four times as many, we had fahen  back down the green banks of 
the Somme, seeking in vain for a ford by which we might pass to the 
further shore. On this morning of which I write, so near was Philip an: his 
vast array that our rear-guard, as we retreated slowly toward the north, 
saw the sheen of the spear-tops and the color on whole fields of banners, 
scarce a mile behind us. And every soldier knew that, unless we would 
fight at disadvantage, with the river at our backs, we must cross it before 
the slm was above our heads. Swiftly our pricl~ers scoured up and down 
the banks, and many a strong yeomen waded out, only to find the hostile 
water broad and deep; and thus, all that morning, with the blare of 
Philip's trumpets in our ears, we hunted about for a passage and could not 
find it, the while the great glitteril:g host canle closing up upon us like a 
mighty crescent stormeloun -- a vast, somber shadow, limned and edged 
with golden gleams.

At noon we halted in a hollow, and the king's dark face was as stern as 
stern could be. And first he turned and scowled like ~ lion at bay upon the 
oncoming Frenchmen, and then upon the broad tidal flood that shut us in 
that traE'. :Even the young prince at his right side scarce Jmew what to 
say while the clustering nobles stroked their beards and frowned, and 
looked now upon the king and now upon the water. The archers sat in 
idle groups down by the willows, and the scouts stood idle on the hills. 
Truth, 'twas a pause such as no soldier likes, but-when it was at the worst 
in came two men-at-arrns dragging along a reluctant peasant between 
them. They hauled him to the sovereign, and then it was:

"Please your mightiness, but this fellow knows a ford, and for a handful of 
silver says he'll tell it."

"A handful of silver!" laughed the joyful king. "God! let him show us a 
place where we can cross, and we will smother him with silver. On, good 
fellow! the ford! the ford! and come to us to-morrow morning, and you 
shall find him who has been friend to England may laugh henceforth at 
sulky Fortune."

Away we went down the sunburned, grassy slopes, and ere


the Sml had gone a hand-breadth to the west of his meridian little hamlet 
carne in sight upon the further shore, and behind it a mile pleasant ringes 
trending up to woods and trees. Down by the hamlet the river ran loose 
and wide, and the ebbing stream (for it was near the sea) had just then 
laid bare the new-wet, shh~gly flats, and as we looked upon them, with a 
shout that went from line to line, we recognized deliverance. So swift had 
been our coming that when the first dancing English plurlles sholle on the 
August hill-tops the women were still out washing clothes upon the 
stones, and when the English bowmen, all in King Fdward's livery, came 
brushing through the copses, the kine were standing knee-deep abont the 
shallows, and the little urchins, with noise and frolic, were bathing in the 
stream that presently ran deep and red with blood. And small maids were 
weaving chaplets among thoso meadows where kings and prhlces soon 
lay dying, and tumbling in their play about the sumly meads, little 
wotting of the crop their fields would bear by evening, or the stern 
harvest to be reaped from them before the moon got up.

We crossed; but an army does not cross like one, and before our rearward 
troops were over the French vanguard was on the hill-tops we had just 
quitted, while the tide was flowing in strong again from the outer sea.

"Now, God be praised for this!" said King l~dward, as he sat his charger 
and saw the strong salt water come gushing in as the last man toiled 
through. "The kind heavens smile upon our arms- -- see, theY have given 
us a breathing space! You, good Sir Andrew Kirkaby, who live by 
pleasant Sherwood, with a thousand archers stand here among the willow 
bushes and keep the ford for those few minutes that it will remain. Then, 
while Philip watches the gentle sea fill up this famous channel, and waits, 
as he must wait, Upon his opportunity, we will inland, and on yonder hill, 
by the grace of God and sweet St. George, we will lay a supper-place for 
him and his!"

So spoke the bold king, and turned his war-horse, and with all his troops 
-- seeming wounrous few by comparison with the dusky swarms 
gathering behind us -- rode north four hundred yards from Crecy. He 
pitched upon a gentle ringe sloping down to a little brook, while at top 
was woody cover Yor the kaggage-train, and near by, on the right, a 
corn-mill on a swell. 'Twas from that granary floor, sitting stern and 
watchful, his sword upon his knees, his impatient charger amed and ready 
at the door below, that the king sat and watched the long battle.


Ieanwhile we strengthened the slopes. We dug a trench along the front 
and sides) and, with the glitter of the close foeman's steel in our eyes, 
lopped the Crecy thickets. And, working in silence (while the Frenchmall's 
song and laug;hter came to us on the breeze), set the palisades, and bound 
them close as a strong fence 'gainst cha,ging squadrons, and piled our 
spears where they were handy, and put out the archer's arrows in goodly 
heaps. Jove! we worked as though each man's life depended on it, the 
prince among us, sweating at spade and ax, and then -- it was near four 
o'clock on that August afternoon -- a hush fell upon both hosts, and we 
lay about and only spoke in whispers. And you could hear the kine 
lowing in the valley a mile beyond, and the lapwing calling from the new-
shorn stubble, and the whimbrels on the hill-tops, and the river, fast 
emptying once again, now prattling to the distant sea. 'Twas a strange 
pause, a suhen , heavy silence, no longer than a score of minutes. And 
then, all in a second, a little page in the yellow fern in front of me leaped 
to his feet, and screarming in shrill trehle that scared the feeding linnets 
from the brambles, tossed his velvet cap upon the wind, and cried:

"They come, they come! St. George! St. George for merry EngIand!"

And up we all sprung to our feet, and while the proun E;hout of defiance 
ran thundering from end to end of our triple lines, a wondrous sight 
unfolded before us. The vast array of France, stretching far to right and 
left and far behind, was loosed from its roots and coming on down the 
slope, a mighty, frowning avalanche, upon us -- a flowing, angry sea, 
wave behind wave, of chief and mercenary, countless lines of spear and 
bow men, and endless banks of men-at-arms behmd; an overwhelming 
flood that hid the country as it marched, shot with the lurid gleam of light 
upon its billows, and crested with the fluttering of endless fiags that 
crowned each of those ;ong lines of cheering foemen.

That tawny fringe there in front a furlong deep and driven on ~y the host 
behind like the yellow running spume upon the lip of a flowing tide was 
Genoese crossbowmen selling their mean carcasses to manure the good 
Picardy soil for hireling pay. Far on the left rode the grim Doria, laughing 
to see the little band set out to meet his serried vassals, and on the right 
Grimaldi's olive face scowled hatred and malice at the hill where the 
English lay.

There, behind these tawny mercenaries in endless waves of steel, 
D'Alengon rode, waving his princely baton, and mar.


shaled, as he canie, rank upon rank of glittering chivalry -- a fuming, 
foamy sea of spears and helmets that flushedand glittered in the sun, and 
tossed and chafed, impatient of ignoble hesitance, and flowed in stately 
pride toward us, the white foam-streaks of twenty thousand plumed 
horsemen showing like breakers olj a shallow sea, as that great force, to 
the blare of trumpet, swept down.

And, as though all these were not enough to smother our desperate valor 
even with the shadow of their numbers, behind the French chivalry, 
again, advanced a winding forest of speamen stooping to the lie of the 
ground, and IIow rising and now falling, like water-reeds when the west 
wind plays among them. Under that innumerable host, that stretched in 
dust and turmoil two long miles back to where the gray spires of 
Abbeville were misty on the sky, the rasp of countloss feet sounded in the 
still air like the rain falling on a lealy forest.

Never did such a horde set out -before to crush a desperate band of 
raiders. And that all khe warlike show might not lack its head and 
consummation, between their rear-guard ranks came Philip, the vassal 
monarch who held the mighty fiefs that Edward coveted. Lord! how he 
and his did shine and glint in the sunshine! How their flags did flutter and 
their heralds blow as the resplendent group -- a deep, strong ring of peers 
and princes curveting in the hickering shade of a score of rmighty blazons 
-- came over the hill-crest and rode out to the foremost tire of battle and 
took places there to see the English lion flaved. With a mighty shont, a 
portentous roar from rear to front which thundered along their van and 
died away among the host behind, the French heralded the entry of their 
king upon the field, and with one fatal accord the whole vast baying pack 
broke loose from order and restraint and came at us.

We stood aghast to see~them. Fools! SIadmen! They swept down to the 
river -- a hundred thousand horse and footmen bent upon one narrow 
passage -- and rushed in, every chief and captain scrambling with his 
neighbor to be first -- troops, squadrons, ranks, all lost in one seething 
crowd -- disordered, unwarlike. And thus, quivering and chaotic, heaving 
with the stress of its OWII vast bull;, mlder a hundred jealous leaders, the 
great army rushed upon us.

While they struggled thns' out galloped King Edward to our front, 
bareheaded, his jeweled warden staft held in his mailed fist, and, riding 
down our ranks, and checking the wanton fire of that gray charger, who 
curveted and prounly


bent his glossy neck in answer to our cheering, proun, calm. eyed, and 
happy, King Edward spoke:

"My dear comrades and lieges linked with me in this adventure -- you, my 
gallant English peers, whose shinY bucklers are the bright bulwarks Of 
our throne, whose bold sp.rits and matchless constancy havo made this 
just quarrel possible -- oh! well I know I need not urge you to that valor 
which is yonr native breath. ELight well I know how true your hearts do 
beat under their steely panoply; and there is false Philip ~vatching you, 
and here am 1. Yonder, behind us, the gray sea lies, and if we fall or fail it 
will be no broader for them than 'tis for us. Stand firm to-day, then, dear 
friends and cousins. Remember, every blow that's struck is struck for 
England, every foot you give of this fair hill-side presages the giving of an 
ell of England. Remember, Philip's hungry hordes, like ragged lurchers in 
the slip, are lean with waiting for your patriolouies. Remember all this, 
and stand as strong to-day for me as I and mine shall stand for you. And 
you, my trusty English yeomen," said the soldier king, "you whose strong 
limbs were grown in pleasant England, oh, show me here the mettle of 
those same pastures! God! when I do turn from yonder hireling sea of 
shiny steel and mark how square your sturdy valor stands unto it, how 
your clear iEnglish eyes do look unfaltering into that yeasty flood of 
treachery, why, I would not one single braggart yonder the less for you 
to lop and drive; I would not have that broad butt that Pl~ilip sets for us 
to shoot at the narrower by one single coward tunic. Yonder, I say, ride 
the lank lusty Frenchmen who thirst to reeve ypur acres and father to-
morrow, if so they may, your waitin~ wives and chil(lren. To it, then, dear 
comrades -- upon them, for King Edward and for fair England's honor! 
Strike home upon these braggart bullies who would heir the lion's den 
even while the lion lives; strike for St. George and England! And nl3V the 
sweet God who gives the fortunes of each day junge now 'tween them 
and us!"

As the king finished five thousand English archers went forward in a long 
gray lble, aun, getting into shot of the first ranks of the enemy, drew out 
their long-bows from their cowhide cases and set the b~wfeet to the 
ground and bent and strung them; and then it wonld have done you good 
to see the glint of the sunshine on the hail of arrows that swept the hillside 
and plunged into those seething ranks below. The closemassed foemen 
writhed and winced under that remorseless storm. The Genoese in front 
halted and slung their crossbows, and fired whole sheaves of bolts upon 
us that fell a'


stingless as reed Javelins on a village green, for 3 passmg rain-storm had 
wet their bowstrings, and the slack sinews scarce sent a bolt inside our 
fences, while every shaft we sped plunged deep and fatal. Lond laughed 
the English archers at this, and plied their biting flights of arrows with 
fierce energy, and, all in wild confusion, the mercenaries yelled and 
screamed and pulled their ineffectual weapons, and, stern shut off from 
advance by the flying rain of good gray shafts, and crushed from behind 
by the crowding throng, tossed in wilct confusion, and broke and fled.

Then did I see a sight to spoil a soldier's dreams. As the coward bowmen 
fell back, the men-at-arms behind them, wroth to be so long shut ofl the 
foe, and pressed in turn by the troops in rear, fell m1 them, and there, 
under our eyes, we saw the first rank of Philip's splendid host at war with 
the second; we saw the billmell of fair Bascquerard and Bruneval lop 
down the olive mercenaries from Roquemaure and the cities of the 
midland sea; we saw the savage Genoese falcons rip open the gay livery 
of Lyons and Bavonne, and all the while our shafts rained thick and fast 
among them, and men fell dead by scores in that hideous turmoil; and 
none could tell whether 'twas friends or foes that slew them.

~ wonderful day, indeed; but hard was the fighting ere it was done. My 
poor pen fails before all the crowled incidents that comes before me, all 
the splendid episodes of a stirring combat, all the glitter and joy and 
misery, the proun exultation of that August harvest, and the black chagrin 
of its evening. Truth; but you must take, as said, a hundred times as much 
as I can tell you, and line continually my bare suggestions with your 
goncrous understanding.

NVell thoagh our archers stood the first brunt, the day was not left all to 
them. Soon the French footmen, thirsting for vengeance, had overriden 
and trampled down their Genoese illies, and came at us up the slope, 
driving back our skirmish;`rs as the white squall drives the wheeling sea-
mews before it, .-`nd surged against our palisades, and came tossing and 
glinting down upon our halberdiers. The loun English cheer echoed the 
wild yelling of the southerners; bill and pike, and sivord and mace and 
dagger sent up a thunderous roar all down our front, while overhead the 
pennons gleamed in the dustg sunlight, and the carrion-crows wheeled 
and laughed with hungry pleasure above that surging line. Gods! 'twas a 
good shock, and the crimson blood went smoking down to the rivulets, 
and the savage scream of battle vrent up into the sky as that long front of 
ours, locked fast in the burnished arm~


of France, heaved and strove, and bGnt DOW this way and now that, like 
some strong, well-matched wrestlers.

A good shock indeed! A wilcl, tremeodous scene of confusion there on the 
loug grass of that autumn hill, with the dark woods behind on the ringe, 
and, down in front, the babbling river and the smoking houses of the 
ruined village. So sast was the extent of Philip's array that at times we saw 
it extend far to right aml left of us; and so deep was it that we who battled 
amid the thunder of its front could hear a mile back to their rear the angry 
hum of rage and disappointulent as the chaotic troops, in the bitterness of 
the spreading confusion, struggled blindly to come at us. Their Yery 
number was our salvation. 'That half of the great army which had safely 
crossed the stream lay along outside our palisades like some splendid, 
writhing, helple~ss monster, and the long swell of their dead-locked 
masses, the long writhe of their fatal confusion, you could see heaving 
that glittering tide like the golden pulse of a summer sea pellt in a crescent 
shore. And we were that shore! All along our front the StOllt, unblanehing 
Loglish yeomen stood to it -- the white English tunic was breast to breast 
with the leathe n kirtles of Genoa and Turin. Before the frightful blows of 
those stalwart pikemen the yellow mail of the gay troopers of 
Chateauroux and Besanc,on crackled like dry December leaves; the 
rugged boar-skius on the svide shoulders of Vosges peasants were less 
protection 'gainst their fiery thrust than a thickness of lady's lawn. Down 
they lopped them, one and all, those strong, good English hedgement, till 
our bloody fosse was full -- full of olive mercenaries from Tarascon and 
Arles -- full of writhing Bisc and hideous screaming Genoese. And still we 
slew them, shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot, and still they swamed 
against us, while we piled knight and vassal, serf and master, prdlceling 
and slave, all into that ditch in front. The fair young boy and gray-bearded 
sire, the freeman and the serf, the living and the dead, all went down 
together, till a broad rampart stretched along our swinging shouting 
front, and the glittering might of France surged up to that human dam 
and broke upon it like the futile waves, and went to pieces, and fell back 
under the curling yellow storm-cloun of mid-battle.

Meanwhile, on right and left, the day was fiercely fought. Far upon the 
one hand the wild Irish kerns were repelling all the efforts of Beaupreau's 
light footmen, and pulling down the gay horsemen of fair Bcurges by the 
distant Loire. Three times those squadrons were all among them, and 
three !inles the wild red sons of Shannon and the dim Atlantic h~lls fel


on them like the wolves of their own rugged glens, ana ham. strung the 
sleek southern chargers, and lopped the fahen  viders, and repelled each 
desperate foray, making war doubly hideotls with their clamor and the 
bloody scenes of butchery that befell among their priSQnerS after each 

And, on the other crescent of our battle, my dear, tuneful, licentious 
Wrelshmen were out Upon the slope, driving off with their nati-ve ardor 
one and all that came against them, and, worked up to a fine fury by their 
chanting minstrels, whose shrill piping came ever and anon Upon the 
wind, the~ pressed the southerners hard, and again and again drove them 
down the hill ~a good, a gallant crew that I have ever liked, with half a 
dozen vices and a score of virtues. I had charged by them one time in the 
day, and, cantering back with my troop behind their ranks, I saw a young 
Welsh chieftain on a rock beside himself with valor and battle. Oe was 
leaping and shouting as nolle but a W elshman could or would, and 
beating his sword upon his round Clymric shield, the while he yelled to 
his fighting vassals below a fierce old British battle-song. Oh, it was very 
strange for me, pel~t in that shining Plantagenet mail, to listen to thoso 
wild, hot words of scorn and hatred; I, who had heard those words so 
often when the ancestors of that chanting boy were not begotten; I, who 
had heard those fierce verses SUllg in the red confusion of forgotten wars 
-- I could not hell~ pulling rein a moment as that song of exultation, full of 
words and phrases nono but I could fully understand, swelled up through 
the eddying war-dust; over the Welshmen's reeling line. I, so strong and 
young; I, who yet was more ancient than the singer's vaguest traditions -- 
I stopped a moment and listened to him, full of remembrance and sad 
wonder while the pfean-dirge of victory and death swelled to the sky 
over the clamor of the combat. And then -- as a mavis drops into the 
covert when his morning SOllg is done -- the welshmall finished, and, mad 
with the wine of battle, leaped straight into the tossing sea below, and was 
ingulfed and swallowed up like a white spume-flako on the bosom of a 

For three long ho~lrs the battlo raged from oast to wost, and men fought 
foot to foot and harnd to hand, and 'twas stab and hack and thurst, and 
the pounding of ownerless horsos, and the wail of dying men, and the 
husky cries of captains, and the interminable clash of steel on steel, so that 
no man could see all the fight at once, save the good king alone, who sat 
back there at his vantage-point. It was all this, I say; and then about soyen 
in the evening, when the sun was near his setting,


it soomod, all in a socond, as though the wholo west were in a glow, and 
there was Lord Alenc,ol-l sweeping down upon our right with the 
splondid array of l'llilip's chivalry, their~pennons a-dance above and their 
endf ss ranks of spearS in serried ranks below. There was no time to 
think, it seemed. A wild shout of fear and wonder w: ut up from all the 
lEnglish host. Our reserves were turned to meet the new danger; the 
archers poured their gray-goose shafts Upon the thundering squadrons; 
princes and peers and knights were littered on the road that brilliant host 
v,-as treading; and then they were among the English yeomen with a 
frightful crash of flesh and blood and horse and steel that drowned all 
other sound of battle with its cruel import. Jove! what strong stuff the 
English valor is! Those good Saxon countrymen, sure in the confidence of 
our great brothorhood, kept their line undor that hideous shock as 
though each fought for a crown; and, shoulder to shoulder and hand to 
hand, an impenetrable living wall, derided the terrors of the golden 
torrent that burst upon them. Each man there was a hero, and when one 
hero died another stepped into his placo, aAnd another and another. 
Happy king, to yield such stuff! thrice-happy country that can rear it! In 
vain wave upon wave burst upon those hardy islauners; in vain the stern 
voice of Alenc,on sent rank after rank of proun lords and courtly gallants 
upon those rugged English husbandmen; they would not move, and 
when they would not the Frenchmen hesitated.

'Twas our moment! I had had my leave just thon now from the king, and 
did uot neod it twico. I saw that groat front of Fronch cavalry heaving 
slow upon our hither faco, galled by the arrow-rain that novor ceased, 
and irresolute whethor to come on once again or go back, and I turned to 
the cohort of my dear voterans. I do not know what I said, the voice came 
thick and husky in my throat, I could but wave my iron mace abovo my 
head and point to the Frenchmen. And then all those good gray spears 
went down as though 'twere ono hand that lowered them, and all the 
chargers movod at onco. I led them round the nnglish front, and there, 
clapping spurs to our ready coursers' flanks, five hundred of us, knit closo 
together, with cuo heart beating one measuro, shot out into array, and, 
sweeping across the slope, charged boldly ten thousand Frenchmen.

Wo raced across the Crecy slope, drinking the fierce wine of expectant 
couflict with every breath, our straining chargers thundering in 
tumultuous rhythm over the short space between, and in anothor minuto 
we broke upon the oemen,


Bravely they met us. They turned when we were two hundred paces 
distant, and advancing their silkenJlet~r-cle-lis, and pricking up their 
chargers, weary with pursuit and battle, and came at us as you will see a 
rock-thwarted wave run angry back to meet another strong incoming 
sr~rge. And as thoso two waves meet, and toss and leap together, and 
dash their strength into each other, the while the whito spume fies a`~ay 
behind them, and with thunderous arrogarlce the stronger bursts through 
the other, and goes streauling on triamphant through all the white boil 
and litter of the fight, so fell we on those princelings. 'Twas just a blinding 
c~-ash -- the coming together of two great walls of steel. I felt I was being 
lifted like a dry leaf on the summit of that tremendous con junction, and I 
could but ply my mace blindly on those glittering casques that shone all 
round me, and, I now remember, cracked under its meteor sweep like 
ripe nuts under an urchin's hammer. So dense were the first moments of 
that shock of chivalry that eten our horses fought. I saw my own charger 
rip open the glossy neck of another that bore a :Frenchman; and near by, 
though I thought naught of it then, a great black Flemish stallion, mad 
with battle, had a wounded soldier in his teeth, and was worrying and 
Ehalking him as a lurcher worries a screaming leveret. So dense was the 
throng we scarce could ply our weapons, and one dead knight fell right 
athwart my saddle-bow; and a flying hand, lopped by some mighty blow, 
still grasping the hilt of a broken blade, struck me on the helm. The warm 
red blood spurting from a headless trunk half blinded me; and, all the 
time, overhead the French lilies kept stooping at the English lion, and now 
one went down, and then the other, and the roar of the host went up into 
the sky, and the dust and turmoil, the savage uproar, the unheard, 
unpitied shriek of misery and the cruel exultation of the victor, and then -- 
how soon I know not -- we were braveling.

Ah! by the great God of battles, we were mosing, and forward; the 
mottled gronun was slipping by us, and the French were giving. I rose in 
my stirrups, and, hoars~e as any raven that ever dipped a black wing in 
the crimson pools of battle, shouted to my veterans. It did not need. I had 
fought least vwell of any in that grim company, and now with one accord 
we pushed the foeman hard. We saw the great roan Flanders jennets slide 
back upon their haunches, and slip and plu~nge in the purple quagmire 
we had made, and then -- each like a good ship well freighted -- lurch and 
go down, and we stamped beribboned horse and jeweled rider alike into 


red, frothy marsh under our hoofs. And the 7Yettr-de-1Is sunk, and the 
silver roe of ~layenne, proun Montereau's azure falcon, and the white 
crescent of Donzenac went down, and Bernay's yellow corn-sheaf and 
Sarreburg's golden blazon, v.,ith many another gauny pennon; and then, 
somehow, the foemen broke and dissolved before our heavy,-foam-
streaked chargers, anLI, as we gaspsd the hot breath through our close 
helmet-bars, there came a clear space before us, with flying horsemen 
scouring off on every haun.

rl~he day was well-nigh won, and I could see that far to left the English 
ycomen were drisring the scattered clouns of Philip's footmen pell-meh 
~lown the lfill, and then we went again after his horsemen who were 
gathering suhen ly upon the lower slopes. Over the grass we scoured like 
a brown whirlwind, and in a minute were all among the French lordlings. 
And dow~1 they went, horse and foot, riders and banners, crowding ans) 
crushing each other in a confusion terrible to behold, now SU~ering 
OVOn more from their own chaos than from our lances. Jovel brother 
trod brother down that day, and comrade lay heaped on living comra~e 
under that red confusion. The pennons -- such as had ontlived the storm 
so far -- were all entangled sheaves, and sunk, whole stocks at once, into 
the floundering sea below. And kings and princes, hinds and yeomen, 
gasped and choked and glowered at us, so fast-locked in the deadly 
wedge that went slowly roaring back before our fiery onsets they could 
not move an arm or foot.

The tale is nearly told. Everywhere the English were victorious, and the 
Frenchmen fell in wild dismay before them. Many a bold attempt they 
made to turn the tide, and many a diesperate sally and gallant stand the 
fading daylight witnessed. 'l~he old King of Bohemia, to whom daylight 
and night y ere all as one, with fifty knights, their reins l(notted fast 
togeiller, chargod us, and died, one and all, like the good soldie~ s tlmt 
they were. And Philip, over yonder, wrung his whits hands, and pawned 
his revenue in vows to the unmoved saints; and the soft, braggart peers 
that cronded round him gnawed their lips and frowned and looked first at 
the ruined, smoldering fight, then back -- far back -- to where, in the 
south, friendly evening was already holding out to them the dusky cover 
of the coming night. It was a good day, indeed, and may England at her 
need ever fight so well.

Would that I might in this truthful chronicle have turned to other things 
while the long roar of exultation goes up from famous Crecy and the 
strong wine of well-deserved victory


filled my heart. Alas! there is that to tell which mars the tale and dims the 
shine of conquest.

Already thirty thousand Frenchmen were slain, and the long swathes lay 
all across the swelling ground like the black rims of weed when the sea 
goes back. Only here and there the battle still went on, where groups and 
knots of men were fighting, and I, with my good comrade Flamaucceur, 
IIow, at sunset, was in sach a melee on the right. All through the day he 
had been like a shadow to me, and shame that I ha`7e said so little of it. 
Where I went there he was, Hitting in his close gray armor close behind 
me; quick, watchful, faithful, all through the turmoil and dusty war-mist; 
escaping, ITeaven knows how, a thousand dangers; riding his light war-
horse down the bloody lanes of war as he ever rode it, as if they two were 
one; gentie, retiring, more expert in parrying thrust and blow than in 
giving -- that dear friend of mine, with a heart made stout by consuming 
love against all its native fears, had followed me.

And now the spe~lt battle went smoldering out, and we there thought 
'twas all extinguished, when all on a sunden -- I tell it less briefly than it 
happened -- a desperate band of foemen bore down on us, and, as we 
joined, my charger took a hurt, and went crashing over, and threw me 
full into the rank tangle of the under fight. Thereon, the yeomen, seeing 
me fall, set up a cry, and, with a rush, bore the Frenchmell four spear-
lengths back, and lifted me, unhurt, from the littered ground. They gave 
me a sword, and as I turned, from the foemen's ranks, waving a beamy 
sword, plumed by a towering crest of nodding feathers and covered by a 
mighty shield, a gigantic warrior stepped out. Hoth! I can see him now, 
mad with defeat and shame, striding on foot toward us -- a giant in 
glittering pearly armor, that shone and glittered in the last rays of the 
level sun against the black backing of the evening rky, as though its 
wearer had been the Archallgel Gabriel himseif! It did not need to look 
upon him twice; 'twas the Lord High Constable of France himself -- the 
best swordsman, the sternest soldier, and the brightest star of chivalry in 
the whole French firmament. And if that noble peer was hot for fight, no 
less was I. Stung by my fall, and glorying in such a foeman, I ran to meet 
him, and there, in a little open space, while our soldiers leaned idly on 
their weapons and watched, we fought. The first swoop of the great 
constable's humming falchion lighted slanting on my shield and shore my 
crest; had it been otherwise this tale had never been told. Then I let out, 
and the blow fell on his shield, and sent the giant


etaggering back, and chipped the pretty quarterings of a hun. dred 
ancestors from that gilded target. At it again we went, and round and 
romld, raining our thunderous blows upon each other with noise like 
bowlders orashing down a mountain valley. I did not think there was a 
man within the four seas who could have stood against me so long as that 
fierce and bulky Frenchman did. For a long time we fought so hard and 
stubborn that the blootl-miry soil was stamped into a circle where we v, 
ent r ound and round, raining our blows so strong, quick, and heavy that 
the air was full of tumult, and glaring at each other over our morion bars, 
while our burnished scales and links flew from us at every deadly contact, 
and the hot breath steamed into the air, and the warm, smarting blood 
crept from between our jointed harness. Yet neither would bate a jot, but 
with fiery hearts and heaving breasts and painbursting muscles, l~ept to 
it, and stamped round and round those grimy, steaming lists, 
redoubtable, indomitable, and mad with the lust of killing.

And then -- Jove! how near spent I was! -- the great constable, on a 
sunden, threw away his many-quartered shield, and, whirling up his 
sword with both hands high above his head, a~imed a frightful blow at 
me. No mortal blade or shield or helmet could have withstood that 
mighty stroke! I did not try, but, as it fell, stepped nimbly back -- 'twas a 
good Sa::on trick, learned in the distant time -- and then, as the 
falchionpoint buried itself a foot deep in the ground, and the giant 
staggered forward, I flew at him like a wild cat, and through the closed 
helmet bars, through teeth and skull and the threefold solid brass behind, 
thrust my sword so straight and fiercely the smoking point came two feet 
oat behind his nape, and, with a lurch and cry, the great peer tottered and 
fell dead before rse.

Now comes that thing to which all other things are little, the fellest gleam 
of augry steel of all the steel that had shone since noon, the cruelest stab 
of ten tl-lousand stabs, the bitterest cry of any that had marred the full 
yellow circle of that August day! I had dropped on one knee by the 
champion, and taken his hand, had loosed his visor, and shouted to two 
monks, who were pattering with bare feet about the field (for, indeed, I 
was sorry, if perchance any spark of life remained, so brave a knight 
should die unshliven to his contentment), and thus was forgotten for the 
moment the fight, the confronting rows of foemell, and how near I was to 
those who had seen their great captain fall by my hands. Miserable, 
aon.ursed oversight! ~ had not knelt by my fahen  enemy


moment, when sundenly my men set up a cry behind me, there was a 
rush of hoofs, and ere I could regain my feet or snatch my sword or shield 
a great black French rider, like a shadowy fury dropped from the suhen  
evening sky, his plumes all streaming~behind him, his head low down 
between his horse's ears, and his long blue spear in rest, was thundering 
in midcareer against me not a dozen paces distant. As I am a soldier, and 
have lived many ages by my sword, that chaige must have been fatal. 
And would that it had been! now can I write it? liven as I started to my 
feet, before I cmild lift a brand or offer one light parry to that swift, l~een 
point' the horseman was upon me. And as he closed, as that great 
vengeance-driven tower of steel and flesh loomed above me, there was a 
scream -- a wild scream of fear and love -- (and I clap my hands to my 
ears now, cenntries afterward, to deaden the undying vibrations of that 
sound) -- and Flamaucoeur had thrown himself 'tween me and the spear-
point, had taken it, fenceless, unwarded, fall in his sidc, and I saw the cruel 
shaft break short off by his mail as those Iou~; both horses and both 
riders, went headlong to the ground.

Up rose the English with an angry shout, and swept past us, killing the 
black champion as they went, and driving the French before them far 
down into the valley. Then ran I to my dear comrade, and knelt and lifted 
him against my knee. He had swooned, and I groaned in hitterness and 
fear when I saw the strong red tide that was pulsing from his wound and 
quilting his bright English armor. With quick, ncrvous fingers -- bursting 
such rivets as would not yield, all forgetful of his secret, and that I had 
never seen him unhelmed before -- I unloosed his casque, and then gently 
drew it from his head.

With a cry I dropped the great helm, and well-nigh let e'en my fair burden 
fall, for there, against my knee, her white, sweet face against my iron 
bosom, her fair yellow hair, that had been coiled in the emptiness of her 
helmet, all adrift about us, those dear curled lips that had smiled so tender 
and indulgent on me, her gentle life ebbing from her at every throe, was 
not I'lamaueeour, the unlknown knight, the foolish and love-sick boy, but 
that wayward, lucl~less girl -- Isobel of Oswaldston herself!

And if I had been sorry for my companion in arms, think how the pent 
grief and surprise filled my heart, as there, dying genily in my arms, was 
the fair girl whom, by a tardy, late-born love, new sprung in my empty 
heart, I had come to look upon as the point of my ionely world, u~y fair 
heritage in an empty epoch, for the asking!


Soon she moved a little, and sighed, and looked up straight into my eyes. 
As she did so the color burned for a moment with a pale glow in her 
cheeks, and I felt the tremor of her body as she knew her secret was a 
secret no longer. Sl e lay there bleeding and gasping painfully upon my 
breast, aa~ ~hen she smiled, and pulled my plumed head down to her and 

"You are not angry?"

Angry? Gods! my heart was heavier than it had been all that day of dint 
and caruage, and my eyes were dim and my lips were dry with a 
knowledge of the coming grief as I bent and kissed her. She took the kiss 
unresisting, as though it were her right, and gasped again:

"And you understand now all -- everything? Why I ransomed the l'rench 
maiden? Why I would not write for thee to thy unknown mistress?"

"I know -- I know, sweet girl!"

"And you bear no ill thought of me?"

"The great Heaven you believe in be my witness, sweet Isobel! I love you, 
and know of nothing else."

She lay back upon me, seeming to sleep for a moment or two; then 
started up and clapped her hands to her ears, as if to shut out the sound of 
by-gone battle that no doubt was still thundering through then~; then 
swooned again, while I bent in sorrow over her and tried in vaiu to 
soothe and stauch the great wound that was draining out her gentle life.

She lay so still and white that I thought she were already dead; but 
presently, with a gasp, her eyes opened, and she looked wistfully to 
where the western sky was hanging pale over the narrow English sea.

"How far to England, dear friend?"

"A few leagues of land and water, sweet maid."

"Could I reach it, dost thou think?" But then, on an instant, shaking her 
head, she went on, "Nay, do not answer; I was foolish to ask. Oh, dearest, 
dearest sister Alianora! My father -- my gentlest father! Oh, tell them, sir, 
from me -- and beg them to forgive!" And she lay back white upon my 

She lay, breathing slow, upon me for a spell; then, on a sunden, her fair 
fingers tightened in my mailed hand, and she signed that she would speak 

"Remember that I loved thee!" whispered Isobel, and with those last 
words the yellow head fell back npon my shoulder, the blue eyes 
wavered and sunk, and her spirit fled,


Back by the lines of gleeful shouting troops -- back by where the laughing 
:English knights, with visors up, were talking of the day's achievements -- 
back by where the proun king, hand in hand with his brave boy, was 
thanking the stout lEnglish yeoma, lol Orecy and another kingdom -- back 
by where the champing, toamy charges were picketed in rows -- back by 
the knots of archers, all, like honest workmen, wiping down their 
unstrung bows -- back by groups of suhen  prisoners and gauny heaps of 
captured pennons, we passed.

In front four good yeomen bore lsobel upon their trestled spears; then 
came I, bareheaded -- I, kinsmanless, to her in all that camp the only kin; 
and then our drooping chargers, empty-saddled, led by young squires 
behind, and Seeffling -- good beasts! -- to sniff and scent the sorrow of 
that fair burden on ahead So we went throagh the victorious camp to our 
lodgment, and there they placed Isobel on her bare soldier oouch, her feet 
to the door of her soldier tent, and left us.

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Chapter 16