Andrew Lang.

A monk of Fife: a romance of the days of Jeanne d'Arcdone into English from the manuscript in the Scots college Ratisbon online

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Online LibraryAndrew LangA monk of Fife: a romance of the days of Jeanne d'Arcdone into English from the manuscript in the Scots college Ratisbon → online text (page 1 of 25)
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and reeling she fell into my arras. — p. 155.


3 Romance of tije soa^a of 3|eant« SD'are







Copyright, 1895,

All rights reserved.

Typography by J. S. Cushing & Co., Norwood, Mass.




I. How this Book was written, and how Norman

Leslie fled out of Fife 1-2

II. How Norman Leslie met Noirottfle the Corde-
lier, called Brother Thomas in Religion :
and of Miracles wrought by Brother Thomas 11

III. What befell outside of Chinon Town . . 28

IV. In what Company Norman Leslie entered Chi-


Service 44

V. Of the Fray on the Drawbridge of Chinon

Castle 52

VI. How Norman Leslie escaped out of Chinon

Castle 62

VII. Concerning the Wrath of Elliot, and the Jeop-
ardy of Norman Leslie 70

VIH. * Of Certain Quarrels that came on the Hands

of Norman Leslie 86

IX. Of the Winning of Elliot 100

X. How Madame St. Catherine saved Michael Ham-
ilton by Miracle, and how Norman Leslie
found a Way to ride to the Wars . . .114

XI. How the Maid came to Orleans, and of the
Dolorous Stroke that first she struck in

War 128





XII. Of the Fighting at the Bridge Fort and of

what Norman Leslie won from the River . 142

XIII. How Norman Leslie was absolved by Brother

Thomas 162

XIV. How Sorrow came on Norman Leslie and Jot


XV. How Elliot lost her Jackanapes . . . 193

XVI. How Norman Leslie rode to the War again . 207

XVII. How a Hundred Scots went about to take

Paris Town . 219

XVIII. How Norman Leslie fared in Paris Town . 232

XIX. How Elliot's Jackanapes came Home . . 247

XX. How the Maid heard III Tidings from her

Voices, and of the Onfall at Pont l'Eveque 258

xxi. how, and by whose device, the maid was

taken at Compiegne 269

XXII. How Norman Leslie fared in Compiegne, with

the End of that Leaguer .... 28]

XXIII. How the Burgundians hunted Hares, and the

End of that Hunting. Also, how Noble
was the Duke of Burgundy .... 295

XXIV. How Norman Leslie took Service with the

English 307

XXV. How the Maid was delivered with Great

Victory, and the Ending of this Chronicle 317







Not of my own will, nor for my own glory, do I,
Norman Leslie, sometime of Piteullo, and in religion
called Brother Norman, of the Order of Benedictine, of
Dunfermline, indite this book. But on my coming out
of France, in the year of our Lord One thousand four
hundred and fifty nine it was laid on me by my Superior,
Richard, Abbot in Dunfermline, that I should abbreviate
the Great Chronicle of Scotland, and continue the same
down to our own time.* He bade me tell, moreover, all
that I knew of that glorious Maid of France, called
Jeanne la Pucelle, in whose company I was, from her
beginning even till her end.

Obedient, therefore, to my Superior, I wrote, in this
our cell of Pluscarden, a Latin book containing the his-
tories of times past, but when I came to tell of matters
wherein, as Maro says, pars magna fui, I grew weary of
such rude barbarous Latin as alone I am skilled to indite,
for of the manner Ciceronian, as it is now practised by
clerks of Italy, I am not master : my book, therefore, I
left unfinished, breaking off in the middle of a sentence.
Yet, considering the command laid on me, in the end I
am come to this resolve, namely, to write the history of

* Several copies of this book, the Liber Pluscardensis, are extant,
but the author's original MS. is lost.



the wars in France, and the history of the blessed Maid
(so far at least as I was an eyewitness and partaker
thereof), in the French language, being the most com-
monly understood of all men, and the most delectable.
It is not my intent to tell all the story of the Maid,
and all her deeds and sayings, for the world would
scarcely contain the books that should be written. But
what I myself beheld, that I should relate, especially
concerning certain accidents not known to the general,
by reason of which ignorance the whole truth can scarce
be understood. For, if Heaven visibly sided with France,
and the Maid, no less did Hell most manifestly take part
with our old enemy of England. And often, in this life,
if we look not the more closely, and with the eyes of
faith, Sathanas shall seem to have the upper band in
the battle, whose very imp and minion I myself was con-
versant with, to my sorrow, as shall be shewn.

First concerning myself, I must say some few words,
to the end that what follows may be the more readily

I was born in the kingdom of Fife, being, by some
five years, the younger of two sons of Archibald Leslie,
of Pitcullo, near St. Andrews, a cadet of the great
House of Rothes. My mother was an Englishwoman of
the Debatable Land, a Graham of ISTetherby, and of me,
in our country speech, it used to be said that I was "a
mother's bairn." For I had ever my greatest joy in her,
whom I lost ere I was sixteen years of age, and she in
me : not that she favoured me unduly, for she was very
just, but that, within ourselves, we each knew who was
nearest to her heart. She was, indeed, a saintly woman,
yet of a merry wit, and she had great pleasure in read-
ing of books, and in romances. Being always, when I
might, in her company, I became a clerk insensibly, and


without labour I could early read and write, wherefore
my father was minded to bring me up for a churchman.
For this cause I was some deal despised by others of
my age, and, yet more, because from my mother I had
caught the Southron trick of the tongue. They called
me " English Norman, " and many a battle I have fought
on that quarrel, for I am as true a Scot as any, and
I hated the English (my own mother's people though
they were), for taking and holding captive our King,
James I. of worthy memory. My fancy, like that of
most boys, was all for the wars, and full of dreams
concerning knights and ladies, dragons and enchanters,
about which the other lads were fain enough to hear me
tell what I had read in romances, though they mocked
at me for reading. Yet they oft came ill speed with
their jests, for my brother had taught me to use my
hands, and to hold a sword. I was instructed by our
smith, who had been prentice to Harry G-ow, the Burn-
the-Wind of Perth, and the best man at his weapon in
broad Scotland. From him I got many a trick of fence
that served my turn later.

But now the evil time came when my dear mother sick-
ened and died, leaving to me her memory and her great
chain of gold. A bitter sorrow is her death to me still;
but anon my father took to him another wife of the
Bethunes of Blebo. I blame myself, rather than this
lady, that we dwelt not happily in the same house. My
father therefore, still minded to make me a churchman,
sent me to Bobert of Montrose's new college that stands
in the South Street of St. Andrews, a city not far from
our house of Pitcullo. But there, like a wayward boy, I
took more pleasure in the battles of the " nations " — as
of Fife against Galloway and the Lennox; or in games
of catch-pull, football, wrestling, hurling the bar, arch-


ery, and golf — than in divine learning — as of logic,
and Aristotle his analytics.

Yet I loved to be in the scriptorium of the abbey, and
to see the good Father Peter limning the blessed saints
in blue, and red, and gold, of which art he taught me a
little. Often I would help him to grind his colours,
and he instructed me in the laying of them on paper or
vellum, with white of egg, and in fixing and burnishing
the gold, and in drawing flowers, and figures, and strange
beasts and devils, such as we see grinning from the walls
of the cathedral. In the French language, too, he
learned me, for he had been taught at the great Uni-
versity of Paris; and in Avignon had seen the Pope
himself, Benedict XIII., of uncertain memory.

Much I loved to be with Father Peter, whose lessons
did not irk me, but jumped with my own desire to read
romances in the French tongue, whereof there are many.
But never could I have dreamed that, in days to come,
this art of painting would win me my bread for a while,
and that a Leslie of Pitcullo should be driven by hunger
to so base and contemned a handiwork, unworthy, when
practised for gain, of my blood.

Yet it would have been well for me to follow even this
craft more, and my sports and pastimes less: Dickon
Melville had then escaped a broken head, and I, per-
chance, a broken heart. But youth is given over to
vanities that war against the soul, and among others,
to that wicked game of the Golf, now justly cried down
by our laws,* as the mother of cursing and idleness, mis-
chief and wastery, of which game, as I verily believe,
the devil himself is the father.

It chanced, on an October day of the year of grace
Fourteen hundred and twenty-eight, that I was playing

* This was written after the Act of the Scots Parliament of 1467.


myself at this accursed sport with one Eichard Melville,
a student of like age with myself. We were evenly
matched, though Dickon was tall and weighty, being
great of growth for his age, whereas I was of but scant
inches, slim, and as men said, of a girlish countenance.
Yet I was well skilled in the game of the Golf, and have
driven a Holland ball the length of an arrow-flight, there
or thereby. But wherefore should my sinful soul be
now in mind of these old vanities, repented of, I trust,
long ago?

As we twain, Dickon and I, were known for fell cham-
pions at this unholy sport, many of the other scholars
followed us, laying wagers on our heads. They were
but a wild set of lads, for, as then, there was not, as
now there is, a house appointed for scholars to dwell in
together under authority. We wore coloured clothes,
and our hair long; gold chains, and whingers * in our
belts, all of which things are now most righteously for-
bidden. But I carried no whinger on the links, as con-
sidering that it hampered a man in his play. So the
game went on, now Dickon leading " by a hole, " as they
say, and now myself, and great wagers were laid on us.

Now, at the hole that is set high above the Eden,
whence you see far over the country, and the river
mouth, and the shipping, it chanced that my ball lay
between Dickon's and the hole, so that he could in no
manner win past it.

"You laid me that stimy of set purpose," cried
Dickon, throwing down his club in a rage; "and this is
the third time you have done it in this game."

"It is clean against common luck," quoth one of his
party, " and the game and the money laid on it should be

* Daggers.


"By the blessed bones of the Apostle," I said, "no
luck is more common. To-day to me, to-morrow to
thee! Lay it of purpose, I could not if I would."

" You lie ! " he shouted in a rage, and gripped to his

It was ever my father's counsel that I must take the
lie from none. Therefore, as his steel was out, and I
carried none, I made no more ado, and the word of shame
had scarce left his lips when I felled him with the iron
club that we use in sand.

" He is dead ! " cried they of his party, while the lads
of my own looked askance on me, and had manifestly
no mind to be partakers in my deed.

Now, Melville came of a great house, and, partly in
fear of their feud, partly like one amazed and without any
counsel, I ran and leaped into a boat that chanced to lie
convenient on the sand, and pulled out into the Eden.
Thence I saw them raise up Melville, and bear him
towards the town, his friends lifting their hands against
me, with threats and malisons. His legs trailed and his
head wagged like the legs and the head of a dead man,
and I was without hope in the world.

At first it was my thought to row up the river-mouth,
land, and make across the marshes and fields to our house
at Pitcullo. But I bethought me that my father was an
austere man, whom I had vexed beyond bearing with my
late wicked follies, into which, since the death of my
mother, I had fallen. And now I was bringing him no
college prize, but a blood-feud, which he was like to
find an ill heritage enough, even without an evil and
thankless son. My step-mother, too, who loved me
little, would inflame his anger against me. Many
daughters he had, and of gear and goods no more than
enough. Bobin, my elder brother, he had let pass to


France, where he served among the men of John Kirk-
michael, Bishop of Orleans — he that smote the Duke of
Clarence in fair fight at Bauge.

Thinking of my father, and of my step-mother's ill
welcome, and of Robin, abroad in the wars against our
old enemy of England, it may be that I fell into a kind
of half dream, the boat lulling me by its movement on
the waters. Suddenly I felt a crushing blow on my
head. It was as if the powder used for artillery had
exploded in my mouth, with flash of light and fiery
taste, and I knew nothing. Then, how long after I
could not tell, there was water on my face, the blue
sky and the blue tide were spinning round — they spun
swiftly, then slowly, then stood still. There was a
fierce pain stounding in my head, and a voice said —

" That good oar-stroke will learn you to steal boats ! "

I knew the voice ; it was that of a merchant sailor-man
with whom, on the day before, I had quarrelled in the
market-place. Now I was lying at the bottom of a boat
which four seamen, who had rowed up to me and had
broken my head as I meditated, were pulling towards a
merchant vessel, or carrick, in the Eden-mouth. Her
sails were being set; the boat wherein I lay was tow-
ing that into which I had leaped after striking down
Melville. For two of the ship's men, being on shore, he
hailed their fellows in the carrick, and they had taken
vengeance upon me.

"You scholar lads must be taught better than your
masters learn you," said my enemy.

And therewith they carried me on board the vessel,
the St. Margaret, of Berwick, laden with a cargo of dried
salmon from Eden-mouth. They meant me no kindness,
for there was an old feud between the scholars and the
sailors ; but it seemed to me, in my foolishness, that now


I was in luck's way. I need not go back, with blood on
my hands, to Pitcullo and my father. I had money in
my pouch, my mother's gold chain about my neck, a
ship's deck under my foot, and the seas before me. It
was not hard for me to bargain with the shipmaster for
a passage to Berwick, whence I might put myself aboard
a vessel that traded to Bordeaux for wine from that
country. The sailors I made my friends at no great
cost, for indeed they were the conquerors, and could
afford to show clemency, and hold me to slight ransom
as a prisoner of war.

So we lifted anchor, and sailed out of Eden-mouth,
none of those on shore knowing how I was aboard the
carrick that slipped by the bishop's castle, and so under
the great towers of the minster and St. Eule's, forth to
the Northern Sea. Despite my broken head — which
put it comfortably into my mind that maybe Dickon's
was no worse — I could have laughed to think how clean
I had vanished away from St. Andrews, as if the fairies
had taken me. Now having time to reason of it quietly,
I picked up hope for Dickon's life, remembering his
head to be of the thickest. Then came into my mind
the many romances of chivalry which I had read, wherein
the young squire has to flee his country for a chance
blow, as did Mess ire Patroclus, in the Eomance of Troy,
who slew a man in anger over the game of the chess,
and many another knight, in the tales of Charlemagne
and his paladins. For ever it is thus the story opens, and
my story, methought, was beginning to-day like the rest.

Now, not to prove more wearisome than need be, and
so vex those who read this chronicle with much talk
about myself, and such accidents of travel as beset all
voyagers, and chiefly in time of war, I found a trading
ship at Berwick, and reached Bordeaux safe, after much


sickness on the sea. And in Bordeaux, with, a very sore
heart, I changed the links of my mother's chain that
were left to me, — all but four, that still I keep, — for
money of that country ; and so, with a lighter pack than
spirit, I set forth towards Orleans and to my brother

On this journey I had good cause to bless Father Peter
of the abbey for his teaching me the French tongue, that
was of more service to me than all my Latin. Yet my
Latin, too, the little I knew, stood me in good stead at
the monasteries, where often I found bed and board, and
no small kindness; I little deeming that, in time to
come, I also should be in religion, an old man and weary,
glad to speak with travellers concerning the news of
the world, from which I am now these ten years retired.
Yet I love even better to call back memories of these
days, when I took my part in the fray. If this be a sin,
may God and the Saints forgive me, for if I have fought,
it was in a rightful cause, which Heaven at last has pros-
pered, and in no private quarrel. And methinks I have
one among the Saints to pray for me, as a friend for a
friend not unfaithful. But on this matter I submit me
to the judgment of the Church, as in all questions of the



The ways were rude and long from Bordeaux town to
Orleans, whither I had set my face, not knowing, when I
left my own country, that the city was beleaguered by
the English. For who could guess that lords and knights
of the Christian faith, holding captive the gentle Duke of
Orleans, would besiege his own city ? — a thing unheard
of among the very Saracens, and a deed that God pun-
ished. Yet the news of this great villany, namely the
leaguer of Orleans, then newly begun, reached my ears
on my landing at Bordeaux, and made me greatly fear
that I might never meet -my brother Robin alive. And
this my doubt proved but too true, for he soon after this
time fell, with many other Scottish gentlemen and archers,
deserted shamefully by the French and by Charles cle
Bourbon, Comte de Clermont, at the Battle of the Her-
rings. But of this I knew nothing — as, indeed, the
battle was not yet fought — and only pushed on for
France, thinking to take service with the Dauphin
against the English. My journey was through a country
ruinous enough, for, though the English were on the
further bank of the Loire, the partisans of the Dauphin
had made a ruin round themselves and their holds, and,
not being paid, they lived upon the country.



The further north I held, by ways broken and mined
with rains and suns, the more bare and rugged grew the
whole land. Once, stopping hard by a hamlet, I had sat
down to munch such food as I carried, and was sharing
my meal with a little brown herd-boy, who told me that
he was dinnerless. A few sheep and lean kine plucked
at such scant grasses as grew among rocks, and herbs
useless but sweet-scented, when suddenly a horn was
blown from the tower of the little church. The first
note of that blast had not died away, when every cow
and sheep was scampering towards the hamlet and a kind
of barmkyn* they had builded there for protection, and
the boy after them, running with his bare legs for dear
life. For me, I was too amazed to run in time, so lay
skulking in the thick sweet-smelling herbs, whence I saw
certain wild men-at-arms gallop to the crest of a cliff
hard by, and so ride on with curses, for they were not of
strength to take the barmkyn.

Such was the face of France in many counties. The
fields lay weedy and untilled ; the starving peasant-folk
took to the highway, every man preying on his neigh-
bour. Woods had grown up, and broken in upon the
roads. Howbeit, though robbers harboured therein, none
of them held to ransom a wandering poor Scots scholar.

Slowly I trudged, being often delayed, and I was now
nearing Poictiers, and thought myself well on my road
to Chinon, where, as I heard, the Dauphin lay, when I
came to a place where the road should have crossed a
stream — not wide, but strong, smooth, and very deep.
The stream ran through a glen ; and above the road I
had long noted the towers of a castle. But as I drew
closer, I saw first that the walls were black with fire and
roofless, and that carrion birds were hovering over them,
* Rude wall surrounding a keep.


some enemy having fallen upon the place : and next,
behold, the bridge was broken, and there was neither
ford nor ferry ! All the ruin was fresh, the castle still
smouldering, the rooks flocking and calling above the
trees, the stones of the bridge showing that the destruc-
tion was but of yesterday.

This matter of the broken bridge cost me little thought,
for I could swim like an otter. But there was another
traveller down by the stream who seemed more nearly
concerned. When I came close to him, I found him
standing up to his waist in the water, taking soundings
with a long and heavy staff. His cordelier's frock was
tucked up into his belt, his long, brown legs, with black
hairs thick on them, were naked. He was a huge, dark
man, and when he turned and stared at me, I thought
that, among all men of the Church and in religion whom
I had ever beheld, he was the foulest and most fierce to
look upon. He had an ugly, murderous visage, fell eyes
and keen, and a right long nose, hooked like a falcon's.
The eyes in his head shone like swords, and of all eyes
of man I ever saw, his were the most piercing and most
terrible. On his back he carried, as I noticed at the
first, what I never saw on a cordelier's back before, or
on any but his since — an arbalest, and he had bolts
enough in his bag, the feathers showing above.

" Pax vobiscum" he cried, in a loud, grating voice, as
he saw me, and scrambled but to shore.

" Et cum anima tua" I answered.

" Nom de Dieu!" he said, "you have bottomed my
Latin already, that is scarce so deep as the river here.
My malison on them that broke the bridge ! "

Then he looked me over fiercely.

" Burgundy or Armagnac ? " he asked.

I thought the question strange, as a traveller would


scarce care to pronounce for Burgundy, in that country.
But this was a man who would dare anything, so I
deemed it better to answer that I was a Scot, and, so
far, of neither party.

" Tug-mutton, wine-sack ! " he said, these being two of
many ill names which the French gave our countrymen ;
for, of all men, the French are least grateful to us, who,
under Heaven and the Maid, have set their King on his
throne again.

The English knew this, if the French did not; and
their great King, Harry the Fifth, when he fell ill of
St. Fiacre's sickness, after plundering that saint's shrine
of certain horse-shoes, silver-gilt, said well, that, "go
where he would, he was bearded by Scots, dead or alive.''
But the French are not a thankful people.

I had no answer very ready to my tongue, so stepped
down silent to the water-edge, and was about taking off
my doublet and hose, meaning to carry them on my head
and swim across. But he barred the way with his staff,
and, for me, I gripped to my whinger, and watched my
chance to run in under his guard. For this cordelier was
not to be respected, I deemed, like others of the Order of
St. Francis, and all men of Holy Church.

"Answer a civil question," he said, "before it comes to
worse : Armagnac or Burgundy ? "

" Armagnac," I answered, " or anything else that is not
English. Clear the causeway, mad friar ! "

At that he threw down his staff.

" I go north also," he said, " to Orleans, if I may, for
the foul manants and peasant dogs of this country have
burned the castle of Alfonse Kodigo, a good knight that
held them in right good order this year past. He was
worthy, indeed, to ride with that excellent captain, Don
Kodrigo de Villadras. King's captain or village labourer,


all was fish that came to Ms net, and but two days ago I
was his honourable chaplain. But he made the people
mad, and a great carouse that we kept gave them their

Online LibraryAndrew LangA monk of Fife: a romance of the days of Jeanne d'Arcdone into English from the manuscript in the Scots college Ratisbon → online text (page 1 of 25)