Shadows avaunt!---Richard's himself again.
When the Black Knight---for it becomes necessary to resume the
train of his adventures---left the Trysting-tree of the generous
Outlaw, he held his way straight to a neighbouring religious
house, of small extent and revenue, called the Priory of Saint
Botolph, to which the wounded Ivanhoe had been removed when the
castle was taken, under the guidance of the faithful Gurth, and
the magnanimous Wamba. It is unnecessary at present to mention
what took place in the interim betwixt Wilfred and his deliverer;
suffice it to say, that after long and grave communication,
messengers were dispatched by the Prior in several directions,
and that on the succeeding morning the Black Knight was about to
set forth on his journey, accompanied by the jester Wamba, who
attended as his guide.
"We will meet," he said to Ivanhoe, "at Coningsburgh, the castle
of the deceased Athelstane, since there thy father Cedric holds
the funeral feast for his noble relation. I would see your
Saxon kindred together, Sir Wilfred, and become better acquainted
with them than heretofore. Thou also wilt meet me; and it shall
be my task to reconcile thee to thy father."
So saying, he took an affectionate farewell of Ivanhoe, who
expressed an anxious desire to attend upon his deliverer. But
the Black Knight would not listen to the proposal.
"Rest this day; thou wilt have scarce strength enough to travel
on the next. I will have no guide with me but honest Wamba, who
can play priest or fool as I shall be most in the humour."
"And I," said Wamba, "will attend you with all my heart. I would
fain see the feasting at the funeral of Athelstane; for, if it be
not full and frequent, he will rise from the dead to rebuke cook,
sewer, and cupbearer; and that were a sight worth seeing.
Always, Sir Knight, I will trust your valour with making my
excuse to my master Cedric, in case mine own wit should fail."
"And how should my poor valour succeed, Sir Jester, when thy
light wit halts?---resolve me that."
"Wit, Sir Knight," replied the Jester, "may do much. He is a
quick, apprehensive knave, who sees his neighbours blind side,
and knows how to keep the lee-gage when his passions are blowing
high. But valour is a sturdy fellow, that makes all split. He
rows against both wind and tide, and makes way notwithstanding;
and, therefore, good Sir Knight, while I take advantage of the
fair weather in our noble master's temper, I will expect you to
bestir yourself when it grows rough."
"Sir Knight of the Fetterlock, since it is your pleasure so to be
distinguished," said Ivanhoe, "I fear me you have chosen a
talkative and a troublesome fool to be your guide. But he knows
every path and alley in the woods as well as e'er a hunter who
frequents them; and the poor knave, as thou hast partly seen, is
as faithful as steel."
"Nay," said the Knight, "an he have the gift of showing my road,
I shall not grumble with him that he desires to make it pleasant.
---Fare thee well, kind Wilfred---I charge thee not to attempt to
travel till to-morrow at earliest."
So saying, he extended his hand to Ivanhoe, who pressed it to his
lips, took leave of the Prior, mounted his horse, and departed,
with Wamba for his companion. Ivanhoe followed them with his
eyes, until they were lost in the shades of the surrounding
forest, and then returned into the convent.
But shortly after matin-song, he requested to see the Prior. The
old man came in haste, and enquired anxiously after the state of
"It is better," he said, "than my fondest hope could have
anticipated; either my wound has been slighter than the effusion
of blood led me to suppose, or this balsam hath wrought a
wonderful cure upon it. I feel already as if I could bear my
corslet; and so much the better, for thoughts pass in my mind
which render me unwilling to remain here longer in inactivity."
"Now, the saints forbid," said the Prior, "that the son of the
Saxon Cedric should leave our convent ere his wounds were healed!
It were shame to our profession were we to suffer it."
"Nor would I desire to leave your hospitable roof, venerable
father," said Ivanhoe, "did I not feel myself able to endure the
journey, and compelled to undertake it."
"And what can have urged you to so sudden a departure?" said the
"Have you never, holy father," answered the Knight, "felt an
apprehension of approaching evil, for which you in vain attempted
to assign a cause?---Have you never found your mind darkened,
like the sunny landscape, by the sudden cloud, which augurs a
coming tempest?---And thinkest thou not that such impulses are
deserving of attention, as being the hints of our guardian
spirits, that danger is impending?"
"I may not deny," said the Prior, crossing himself, "that such
things have been, and have been of Heaven; but then such
communications have had a visibly useful scope and tendency. But
thou, wounded as thou art, what avails it thou shouldst follow
the steps of him whom thou couldst not aid, were he to be
"Prior," said Ivanhoe, "thou dost mistake---I am stout enough to
exchange buffets with any who will challenge me to such a traffic
---But were it otherwise, may I not aid him were he in danger, by
other means than by force of arms? It is but too well known that
the Saxons love not the Norman race, and who knows what may be
the issue, if he break in upon them when their hearts are
irritated by the death of Athelstane, and their heads heated by
the carousal in which they will indulge themselves? I hold his
entrance among them at such a moment most perilous, and I am
resolved to share or avert the danger; which, that I may the
better do, I would crave of thee the use of some palfrey whose
pace may be softer than that of my 'destrier'."*
"Surely," said the worthy churchman; "you shall have mine own
ambling jennet, and I would it ambled as easy for your sake as
that of the Abbot of Saint Albans. Yet this will I say for
Malkin, for so I call her, that unless you were to borrow a ride
on the juggler's steed that paces a hornpipe amongst the eggs,
you could not go a journey on a creature so gentle and
smooth-paced. I have composed many a homily on her back, to the
edification of my brethren of the convent, and many poor
"I pray you, reverend father," said Ivanhoe, "let Malkin be got
ready instantly, and bid Gurth attend me with mine arms."
"Nay, but fair sir," said the Prior, "I pray you to remember that
Malkin hath as little skill in arms as her master, and that I
warrant not her enduring the sight or weight of your full
panoply. O, Malkin, I promise you, is a beast of judgment, and
will contend against any undue weight---I did but borrow the
'Fructus Temporum' from the priest of Saint Bees, and I promise
you she would not stir from the gate until I had exchanged the
huge volume for my little breviary."
"Trust me, holy father," said Ivanhoe, "I will not distress her
with too much weight; and if she calls a combat with me, it is
odds but she has the worst."
This reply was made while Gurth was buckling on the Knight's
heels a pair of large gilded spurs, capable of convincing any
restive horse that his best safety lay in being conformable to
the will of his rider.
The deep and sharp rowels with which Ivanhoe's heels were now
armed, began to make the worthy Prior repent of his courtesy, and
ejaculate,---"Nay, but fair sir, now I bethink me, my Malkin
abideth not the spur---Better it were that you tarry for the mare
of our manciple down at the Grange, which may be had in little
more than an hour, and cannot but be tractable, in respect that
she draweth much of our winter fire-wood, and eateth no corn."
"I thank you, reverend father, but will abide by your first
offer, as I see Malkin is already led forth to the gate. Gurth
shall carry mine armour; and for the rest, rely on it, that as I
will not overload Malkin's back, she shall not overcome my
patience. And now, farewell!"
Ivanhoe now descended the stairs more hastily and easily than his
wound promised, and threw himself upon the jennet, eager to
escape the importunity of the Prior, who stuck as closely to his
side as his age and fatness would permit, now singing the praises
of Malkin, now recommending caution to the Knight in managing her.
"She is at the most dangerous period for maidens as well as
mares," said the old man, laughing at his own jest, "being barely
in her fifteenth year."
Ivanhoe, who had other web to weave than to stand canvassing a
palfrey's paces with its owner, lent but a deaf ear to the
Prior's grave advices and facetious jests, and having leapt on
his mare, and commanded his squire (for such Gurth now called
himself) to keep close by his side, he followed the track of the
Black Knight into the forest, while the Prior stood at the gate
of the convent looking after him, and ejaculating,---"Saint Mary!
how prompt and fiery be these men of war! I would I had not
trusted Malkin to his keeping, for, crippled as I am with the
cold rheum, I am undone if aught but good befalls her. And yet,"
said he, recollecting himself, "as I would not spare my own old
and disabled limbs in the good cause of Old England, so Malkin
must e'en run her hazard on the same venture; and it may be they
will think our poor house worthy of some munificent guerdon---or,
it may be, they will send the old Prior a pacing nag. And if
they do none of these, as great men will forget little men's
service, truly I shall hold me well repaid in having done that
which is right. And it is now well-nigh the fitting time to
summon the brethren to breakfast in the refectory---Ah! I doubt
they obey that call more cheerily than the bells for primes and
So the Prior of Saint Botolph's hobbled back again into the
refectory, to preside over the stockfish and ale, which was just
serving out for the friars' breakfast. Busy and important, he
sat him down at the table, and many a dark word he threw out, of
benefits to be expected to the convent, and high deeds of service
done by himself, which, at another season, would have attracted
observation. But as the stockfish was highly salted, and the ale
reasonably powerful, the jaws of the brethren were too anxiously
employed to admit of their making much use of their ears; nor do
we read of any of the fraternity, who was tempted to speculate
upon the mysterious hints of their Superior, except Father
Diggory, who was severely afflicted by the toothache, so that he
could only eat on one side of his jaws.
In the meantime, the Black Champion and his guide were pacing at
their leisure through the recesses of the forest; the good Knight
whiles humming to himself the lay of some enamoured troubadour,
sometimes encouraging by questions the prating disposition of his
attendant, so that their dialogue formed a whimsical mixture of
song and jest, of which we would fain give our readers some idea.
You are then to imagine this Knight, such as we have already
described him, strong of person, tall, broad-shouldered, and
large of bone, mounted on his mighty black charger, which seemed
made on purpose to bear his weight, so easily he paced forward
under it, having the visor of his helmet raised, in order to
admit freedom of breath, yet keeping the beaver, or under part,
closed, so that his features could be but imperfectly
distinguished. But his ruddy embrowned cheek-bones could be
plainly seen, and the large and bright blue eyes, that flashed
from under the dark shade of the raised visor; and the whole
gesture and look of the champion expressed careless gaiety and
fearless confidence---a mind which was unapt to apprehend danger,
and prompt to defy it when most imminent---yet with whom danger
was a familiar thought, as with one whose trade was war and
The Jester wore his usual fantastic habit, but late accidents had
led him to adopt a good cutting falchion, instead of his wooden
sword, with a targe to match it; of both which weapons he had,
notwithstanding his profession, shown himself a skilful master
during the storming of Torquilstone. Indeed, the infirmity of
Wamba's brain consisted chiefly in a kind of impatient
irritability, which suffered him not long to remain quiet in any
posture, or adhere to any certain train of ideas, although he was
for a few minutes alert enough in performing any immediate task,
or in apprehending any immediate topic. On horseback, therefore,
he was perpetually swinging himself backwards and forwards, now
on the horse's ears, then anon on the very rump of the animal,
---now hanging both his legs on one side, and now sitting with
his face to the tail, moping, mowing, and making a thousand apish
gestures, until his palfrey took his freaks so much to heart, as
fairly to lay him at his length on the green grass---an incident
which greatly amused the Knight, but compelled his companion to
ride more steadily thereafter.
At the point of their journey at which we take them up, this
joyous pair were engaged in singing a virelai, as it was called,
in which the clown bore a mellow burden, to the better instructed
Knight of the Fetterlock. And thus run the ditty:---
Anna-Marie, love, up is the sun,
Anna-Marie, love, morn is begun,
Mists are dispersing, love, birds singing free,
Up in the morning, love, Anna-Marie.
Anna-Marie, love, up in the morn,
The hunter is winding blithe sounds on his horn,
The echo rings merry from rock and from tree,
'Tis time to arouse thee, love, Anna-Marie.
O Tybalt, love, Tybalt, awake me not yet,
Around my soft pillow while softer dreams flit,
For what are the joys that in waking we prove,
Compared with these visions, O, Tybalt, my love?
Let the birds to the rise of the mist carol shrill,
Let the hunter blow out his loud horn on the hill,
Softer sounds, softer pleasures, in slumber I prove,---
But think not I dreamt of thee, Tybalt, my love.
"A dainty song," said Wamba, when they had finished their carol,
"and I swear by my bauble, a pretty moral!---I used to sing it
with Gurth, once my playfellow, and now, by the grace of God and
his master, no less than a freemen; and we once came by the
cudgel for being so entranced by the melody, that we lay in bed
two hours after sunrise, singing the ditty betwixt sleeping and
waking---my bones ache at thinking of the tune ever since.
Nevertheless, I have played the part of Anna-Marie, to please
you, fair sir."
The Jester next struck into another carol, a sort of comic ditty,
to which the Knight, catching up the tune, replied in the like
Knight and Wamba.
There came three merry men from south, west, and north,
Ever more sing the roundelay;
To win the Widow of Wycombe forth,
And where was the widow might say them nay?
The first was a knight, and from Tynedale he came,
Ever more sing the roundelay;
And his fathers, God save us, were men of great fame,
And where was the widow might say him nay?
Of his father the laird, of his uncle the squire,
He boasted in rhyme and in roundelay;
She bade him go bask by his sea-coal fire,
For she was the widow would say him nay.
The next that came forth, swore by blood and by nails,
Merrily sing the roundelay;
Hur's a gentleman, God wot, and hur's lineage was of Wales,
And where was the widow might say him nay?
Sir David ap Morgan ap Griffith ap Hugh
Ap Tudor ap Rhice, quoth his roundelay
She said that one widow for so many was too few,
And she bade the Welshman wend his way.
But then next came a yeoman, a yeoman of Kent,
Jollily singing his roundelay;
He spoke to the widow of living and rent,
And where was the widow could say him nay?
So the knight and the squire were both left in the mire,
There for to sing their roundelay;
For a yeoman of Kent, with his yearly rent,
There never was a widow could say him nay.
"I would, Wamba," said the knight, "that our host of the
Trysting-tree, or the jolly Friar, his chaplain, heard this thy
ditty in praise of our bluff yeoman."
"So would not I," said Wamba---"but for the horn that hangs at
"Ay," said the Knight,---"this is a pledge of Locksley's
goodwill, though I am not like to need it. Three mots on this
bugle will, I am assured, bring round, at our need, a jolly band
of yonder honest yeomen."
"I would say, Heaven forefend," said the Jester, "were it not
that that fair gift is a pledge they would let us pass
"Why, what meanest thou?" said the Knight; "thinkest thou that
but for this pledge of fellowship they would assault us?"
"Nay, for me I say nothing," said Wamba; "for green trees have
ears as well as stone walls. But canst thou construe me this,
Sir Knight---When is thy wine-pitcher and thy purse better empty
"Why, never, I think," replied the Knight.
"Thou never deservest to have a full one in thy hand, for so
simple an answer! Thou hadst best empty thy pitcher ere thou
pass it to a Saxon, and leave thy money at home ere thou walk in
"You hold our friends for robbers, then?" said the Knight of the
"You hear me not say so, fair sir," said Wamba; "it may relieve a
man's steed to take of his mail when he hath a long journey to
make; and, certes, it may do good to the rider's soul to ease him
of that which is the root of evil; therefore will I give no hard
names to those who do such services. Only I would wish my mail
at home, and my purse in my chamber, when I meet with these good
fellows, because it might save them some trouble."
"WE are bound to pray for them, my friend, notwithstanding the
fair character thou dost afford them."
"Pray for them with all my heart," said Wamba; "but in the town,
not in the greenwood, like the Abbot of Saint Bees, whom they
caused to say mass with an old hollow oak-tree for his stall."
"Say as thou list, Wamba," replied the Knight, "these yeomen did
thy master Cedric yeomanly service at Torquilstone."
"Ay, truly," answered Wamba; "but that was in the fashion of
their trade with Heaven."
"Their trade, Wamba! how mean you by that?" replied his
"Marry, thus," said the Jester. "They make up a balanced account
with Heaven, as our old cellarer used to call his ciphering, as
fair as Isaac the Jew keeps with his debtors, and, like him, give
out a very little, and take large credit for doing so; reckoning,
doubtless, on their own behalf the seven-fold usury which the
blessed text hath promised to charitable loans."
"Give me an example of your meaning, Wamba,---I know nothing of
ciphers or rates of usage," answered the Knight.
"Why," said Wamba, "an your valour be so dull, you will please to
learn that those honest fellows balance a good deed with one not
quite so laudable; as a crown given to a begging friar with an
hundred byzants taken from a fat abbot, or a wench kissed in the
greenwood with the relief of a poor widow."
"Which of these was the good deed, which was the felony?"
interrupted the Knight.
"A good gibe! a good gibe!" said Wamba; "keeping witty company
sharpeneth the apprehension. You said nothing so well, Sir
Knight, I will be sworn, when you held drunken vespers with the
bluff Hermit.---But to go on. The merry-men of the forest set
off the building of a cottage with the burning of a castle,---the
thatching of a choir against the robbing of a church,---the
setting free a poor prisoner against the murder of a proud
sheriff; or, to come nearer to our point, the deliverance of a
Saxon franklin against the burning alive of a Norman baron.
Gentle thieves they are, in short, and courteous robbers; but it
is ever the luckiest to meet with them when they are at the
"How so, Wamba?" said the Knight.
"Why, then they have some compunction, and are for making up
matters with Heaven. But when they have struck an even balance,
Heaven help them with whom they next open the account! The
travellers who first met them after their good service at
Torquilstone would have a woeful flaying.---And yet," said Wamba,
coming close up to the Knight's side, "there be companions who
are far more dangerous for travellers to meet than yonder
"And who may they be, for you have neither bears nor wolves, I
trow?" said the Knight.
"Marry, sir, but we have Malvoisin's men-at-arms," said Wamba;
"and let me tell you, that, in time of civil war, a halfscore of
these is worth a band of wolves at any time. They are now
expecting their harvest, and are reinforced with the soldiers
that escaped from Torquilstone. So that, should we meet with a
band of them, we are like to pay for our feats of arms.---Now, I
pray you, Sir Knight, what would you do if we met two of them?"
"Pin the villains to the earth with my lance, Wamba, if they
offered us any impediment."
"But what if there were four of them?"
"They should drink of the same cup," answered the Knight.
"What if six," continued Wamba, "and we as we now are, barely two
---would you not remember Locksley's horn?"
"What! sound for aid," exclaimed the Knight, "against a score of
such 'rascaille' as these, whom one good knight could drive
before him, as the wind drives the withered leaves?"
"Nay, then," said Wamba, "I will pray you for a close sight of
that same horn that hath so powerful a breath."
The Knight undid the clasp of the baldric, and indulged his
fellow-traveller, who immediately hung the bugle round his own
"Tra-lira-la," said he, whistling the notes; "nay, I know my
gamut as well as another."
"How mean you, knave?" said the Knight; "restore me the bugle."
"Content you, Sir Knight, it is in safe keeping. When Valour and
Folly travel, Folly should bear the horn, because she can blow
"Nay but, rogue," said the Black Knight, "this exceedeth thy
license---Beware ye tamper not with my patience."
"Urge me not with violence, Sir Knight," said the Jester, keeping
at a distance from the impatient champion, "or Folly will show a
clean pair of heels, and leave Valour to find out his way through
the wood as best he may."
"Nay, thou hast hit me there," said the Knight; "and, sooth to
say, I have little time to jangle with thee. Keep the horn an
thou wilt, but let us proceed on our journey."
"You will not harm me, then?" said Wamba.
"I tell thee no, thou knave!"
"Ay, but pledge me your knightly word for it," continued Wamba,
as he approached with great caution.
"My knightly word I pledge; only come on with thy foolish self."
"Nay, then, Valour and Folly are once more boon companions," said
the Jester, coming up frankly to the Knight's side; "but, in
truth, I love not such buffets as that you bestowed on the burly
Friar, when his holiness rolled on the green like a king of the
nine-pins. And now that Folly wears the horn, let Valour rouse
himself, and shake his mane; for, if I mistake not, there are
company in yonder brake that are on the look-out for us."
"What makes thee judge so?" said the Knight.
"Because I have twice or thrice noticed the glance of a motion
from amongst the green leaves. Had they been honest men, they
had kept the path. But yonder thicket is a choice chapel for the
Clerks of Saint Nicholas."
"By my faith," said the Knight, closing his visor, "I think thou
be'st in the right on't."
And in good time did he close it, for three arrows, flew at the
same instant from the suspected spot against his head and breast,
one of which would have penetrated to the brain, had it not been
turned aside by the steel visor. The other two were averted by
the gorget, and by the shield which hung around his neck.
"Thanks, trusty armourers," said the Knight.---"Wamba, let us
close with them,"---and he rode straight to the thicket. He was
met by six or seven men-at-arms, who ran against him with their
lances at full career. Three of the weapons struck against him,
and splintered with as little effect as if they had been driven
against a tower of steel. The Black Knight's eyes seemed to
flash fire even through the aperture of his visor. He raised
himself in his stirrups with an air of inexpressible dignity, and
exclaimed, "What means this, my masters!"---The men made no other
reply than by drawing their swords and attacking him on every
side, crying, "Die, tyrant!"
"Ha! Saint Edward! Ha! Saint George!" said the Black Knight,
striking down a man at every invocation; "have we traitors here?"
His opponents, desperate as they were, bore back from an arm
which carried death in every blow, and it seemed as if the terror
of his single strength was about to gain the battle against such
odds, when a knight, in blue armour, who had hitherto kept
himself behind the other assailants, spurred forward with his
lance, and taking aim, not at the rider but at the steed, wounded
the noble animal mortally.
"That was a felon stroke!" exclaimed the Black Knight, as the
steed fell to the earth, bearing his rider along with him.
And at this moment, Wamba winded the bugle, for the whole had
passed so speedily, that he had not time to do so sooner. The
sudden sound made the murderers bear back once more, and Wamba,
though so imperfectly weaponed, did not hesitate to rush in and
assist the Black Knight to rise.
"Shame on ye, false cowards!" exclaimed he in the blue harness,
who seemed to lead the assailants, "do ye fly from the empty
blast of a horn blown by a Jester?"
Animated by his words, they attacked the Black Knight anew, whose
best refuge was now to place his back against an oak, and defend
himself with his sword. The felon knight, who had taken another
spear, watching the moment when his formidable antagonist was
most closely pressed, galloped against him in hopes to nail him
with his lance against the tree, when his purpose was again
intercepted by Wamba. The Jester, making up by agility the want
of strength, and little noticed by the men-at-arms, who were
busied in their more important object, hovered on the skirts of
the fight, and effectually checked the fatal career of the Blue
Knight, by hamstringing his horse with a stroke of his sword.
Horse and man went to the ground; yet the situation of the Knight
of the Fetterlock continued very precarious, as he was pressed
close by several men completely armed, and began to be fatigued
by the violent exertions necessary to defend himself on so many
points at nearly the same moment, when a grey-goose shaft
suddenly stretched on the earth one of the most formidable of
his assailants, and a band of yeomen broke forth from the glade,
headed by Locksley and the jovial Friar, who, taking ready and
effectual part in the fray, soon disposed of the ruffians, all
of whom lay on the spot dead or mortally wounded. The Black
Knight thanked his deliverers with a dignity they had not
observed in his former bearing, which hitherto had seemed rather
that of a blunt bold soldier, than of a person of exalted rank.
"It concerns me much," he said, "even before I express my full
gratitude to my ready friends, to discover, if I may, who have
been my unprovoked enemies.---Open the visor of that Blue Knight,
Wamba, who seems the chief of these villains."
The Jester instantly made up to the leader of the assassins, who,
bruised by his fall, and entangled under the wounded steed, lay
incapable either of flight or resistance.
"Come, valiant sir," said Wamba, "I must be your armourer as well
as your equerry---I have dismounted you, and now I will unhelm
So saying, with no very gentle hand he undid the helmet of the
Blue Knight, which, rolling to a distance on the grass, displayed
to the Knight of the Fetterlock grizzled locks, and a countenance
he did not expect to have seen under such circumstances.
"Waldemar Fitzurse!" he said in astonishment; "what could urge
one of thy rank and seeming worth to so foul an undertaking?"
"Richard," said the captive Knight, looking up to him, "thou
knowest little of mankind, if thou knowest not to what ambition
and revenge can lead every child of Adam."
"Revenge?" answered the Black Knight; "I never wronged thee---On
me thou hast nought to revenge."
"My daughter, Richard, whose alliance thou didst scorn---was that
no injury to a Norman, whose blood is noble as thine own?"
"Thy daughter?" replied the Black Knight; "a proper cause of
enmity, and followed up to a bloody issue!---Stand back, my
masters, I would speak to him alone.---And now, Waldemar
Fitzurse, say me the truth---confess who set thee on this
"Thy father's son," answered Waldemar, "who, in so doing, did but
avenge on thee thy disobedience to thy father."
Richard's eyes sparkled with indignation, but his better nature
overcame it. He pressed his hand against his brow, and remained
an instant gazing on the face of the humbled baron, in whose
features pride was contending with shame.
"Thou dost not ask thy life, Waldemar," said the King.
"He that is in the lion's clutch," answered Fitzurse, "knows it
"Take it, then, unasked," said Richard; "the lion preys not on
prostrate carcasses.---Take thy life, but with this condition,
that in three days thou shalt leave England, and go to hide thine
infamy in thy Norman castle, and that thou wilt never mention the
name of John of Anjou as connected with thy felony. If thou art
found on English ground after the space I have allotted thee,
thou diest---or if thou breathest aught that can attaint the
honour of my house, by Saint George! not the altar itself shall
be a sanctuary. I will hang thee out to feed the ravens, from
the very pinnacle of thine own castle.---Let this knight have a
steed, Locksley, for I see your yeomen have caught those which
were running loose, and let him depart unharmed."
"But that I judge I listen to a voice whose behests must not be
disputed," answered the yeoman, "I would send a shaft after the
skulking villain that should spare him the labour of a long
"Thou bearest an English heart, Locksley," said the Black Knight,
"and well dost judge thou art the more bound to obey my behest
---I am Richard of England!"
At these words, pronounced in a tone of majesty suited to the
high rank, and no less distinguished character of Coeur-de-Lion,
the yeomen at once kneeled down before him, and at the same time
tendered their allegiance, and implored pardon for their
"Rise, my friends," said Richard, in a gracious tone, looking on
them with a countenance in which his habitual good-humour had
already conquered the blaze of hasty resentment, and whose
features retained no mark of the late desperate conflict,
excepting the flush arising from exertion,---"Arise," he said,
"my friends!---Your misdemeanours, whether in forest or field,
have been atoned by the loyal services you rendered my distressed
subjects before the walls of Torquilstone, and the rescue you
have this day afforded to your sovereign. Arise, my liegemen,
and be good subjects in future.---And thou, brave Locksley---"
"Call me no longer Locksley, my Liege, but know me under the
name, which, I fear, fame hath blown too widely not to have
reached even your royal ears---I am Robin Hood of Sherwood
* From the ballads of Robin Hood, we learn that this
celebrated outlaw, when in disguise, sometimes assumed
the name of Locksley, from a village where he was born,
but where situated we are not distinctly told.
"King of Outlaws, and Prince of good fellows!" said the King,
"who hath not heard a name that has been borne as far as
Palestine? But be assured, brave Outlaw, that no deed done in
our absence, and in the turbulent times to which it hath given
rise, shall be remembered to thy disadvantage."
"True says the proverb," said Wamba, interposing his word, but
with some abatement of his usual petulance,---
"'When the cat is away,
The mice will play.'"
"What, Wamba, art thou there?" said Richard; "I have been so long
of hearing thy voice, I thought thou hadst taken flight."
"I take flight!" said Wamba; "when do you ever find Folly
separated from Valour? There lies the trophy of my sword, that
good grey gelding, whom I heartily wish upon his legs again,
conditioning his master lay there houghed in his place. It is
true, I gave a little ground at first, for a motley jacket does
not brook lance-heads, as a steel doublet will. But if I fought
not at sword's point, you will grant me that I sounded the
"And to good purpose, honest Wamba," replied the King. "Thy good
service shall not be forgotten."
"'Confiteor! Confiteor!'"---exclaimed, in a submissive tone, a
voice near the King's side---"my Latin will carry me no farther
---but I confess my deadly treason, and pray leave to have
absolution before I am led to execution!"
Richard looked around, and beheld the jovial Friar on his knees,
telling his rosary, while his quarter-staff, which had not been
idle during the skirmish, lay on the grass beside him. His
countenance was gathered so as he thought might best express the
most profound contrition, his eyes being turned up, and the
corners of his mouth drawn down, as Wamba expressed it, like the
tassels at the mouth of a purse. Yet this demure affectation of
extreme penitence was whimsically belied by a ludicrous meaning
which lurked in his huge features, and seemed to pronounce his
fear and repentance alike hypocritical.
"For what art thou cast down, mad Priest?" said Richard; "art
thou afraid thy diocesan should learn how truly thou dost serve
Our Lady and Saint Dunstan?---Tush, man! fear it not; Richard of
England betrays no secrets that pass over the flagon."
"Nay, most gracious sovereign," answered the Hermit, (well known
to the curious in penny-histories of Robin Hood, by the name of
Friar Tuck,) "it is not the crosier I fear, but the sceptre.
---Alas! that my sacrilegious fist should ever have been applied
to the ear of the Lord's anointed!"
"Ha! ha!" said Richard, "sits the wind there?---In truth I had
forgotten the buffet, though mine ear sung after it for a whole
day. But if the cuff was fairly given, I will be judged by the
good men around, if it was not as well repaid---or, if thou
thinkest I still owe thee aught, and will stand forth for another
"By no means," replied Friar Tuck, "I had mine own returned, and
with usury---may your Majesty ever pay your debts as fully!"
"If I could do so with cuffs," said the King, "my creditors
should have little reason to complain of an empty exchequer."
"And yet," said the Friar, resuming his demure hypocritical
countenance, "I know not what penance I ought to perform for that
most sacrilegious blow!------"
"Speak no more of it, brother," said the King; "after having
stood so many cuffs from Paynims and misbelievers, I were void of
reason to quarrel with the buffet of a clerk so holy as he of
Copmanhurst. Yet, mine honest Friar, I think it would be best
both for the church and thyself, that I should procure a license
to unfrock thee, and retain thee as a yeoman of our guard,
serving in care of our person, as formerly in attendance upon the
altar of Saint Dunstan."
"My Liege," said the Friar, "I humbly crave your pardon; and you
would readily grant my excuse, did you but know how the sin of
laziness has beset me. Saint Dunstan---may he be gracious to us!
---stands quiet in his niche, though I should forget my orisons
in killing a fat buck---I stay out of my cell sometimes a night,
doing I wot not what---Saint Dunstan never complains---a quiet
master he is, and a peaceful, as ever was made of wood.---But to
be a yeoman in attendance on my sovereign the King---the honour
is great, doubtless---yet, if I were but to step aside to comfort
a widow in one corner, or to kill a deer in another, it would be,
'where is the dog Priest?' says one. 'Who has seen the accursed
Tuck?' says another. 'The unfrocked villain destroys more
venison than half the country besides,' says one keeper; 'And is
hunting after every shy doe in the country!' quoth a second.
---In fine, good my Liege, I pray you to leave me as you found
me; or, if in aught you desire to extend your benevolence to me,
that I may be considered as the poor Clerk of Saint Dunstan's
cell in Copmanhurst, to whom any small donation will be most
"I understand thee," said the King, "and the Holy Clerk shall
have a grant of vert and venison in my woods of Warncliffe.
Mark, however, I will but assign thee three bucks every season;
but if that do not prove an apology for thy slaying thirty, I am
no Christian knight nor true king."
"Your Grace may be well assured," said the Friar, "that, with the
grace of Saint Dunstan, I shall find the way of multiplying your
most bounteous gift."
"I nothing doubt it, good brother," said the King; "and as
venison is but dry food, our cellarer shall have orders to
deliver to thee a butt of sack, a runlet of Malvoisie, and three
hogsheads of ale of the first strike, yearly---If that will not
quench thy thirst, thou must come to court, and become acquainted
with my butler."
"But for Saint Dunstan?" said the Friar---
"A cope, a stole, and an altar-cloth shalt thou also have,"
continued the King, crossing himself---"But we may not turn our
game into earnest, lest God punish us for thinking more on our
follies than on his honour and worship."
"I will answer for my patron," said the Priest, joyously.
"Answer for thyself, Friar," said King Richard, something
sternly; but immediately stretching out his hand to the Hermit,
the latter, somewhat abashed, bent his knee, and saluted it.
"Thou dost less honour to my extended palm than to my clenched
fist," said the Monarch; "thou didst only kneel to the one, and
to the other didst prostrate thyself."
But the Friar, afraid perhaps of again giving offence by
continuing the conversation in too jocose a style---a false step
to be particularly guarded against by those who converse with
monarchs--- bowed profoundly, and fell into the rear.
At the same time, two additional personages appeared on the