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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

RIVERSIDE



aT



THE ARMOURER'S PRENTICES



,s^







THE



ARMOUKEK'S PRENTICES



BY

CHARLOTTE M. YONGE,

AUTHOR OF "the HEIR OF REDCLTFFE," "UNKNOWN TO HISTORY," ETC., ETt



IN TWO VOLUMES.
VOL. L



Hontion :
MACMILLAN AND CO.

1884.

The Right oj Translation avd Beproduction is Lencrved.



MS-



LONDON :

R. Cr.AV, Sons, and Taylor.

BKtAD STREBf HILI.



PREFACE.

I HAVE attempted here to sketch citizen life in the
early Tudor days, aided therein by Stowe's Survey of
London, supplemented by Mr. Loftie's excellent history,
and Dr. Burton's English Merchants.

Stowe gives a full account of the relations of
apprentices to their masters ; though I confess that
I do not know whether Edmund Burgess could have
become a citizen of York after serving an apprentice-
ship in London. Evil May Day is closely described
in Hall's Chronicle. The ballad, said to be by
Churchill, a contemporary, does not agree with it in
all respects ; but the story-teller may surely have
license to follow whatever is most suitable to the
purpose. The sermon is exactly as given by Hall, who
is also responsible for the description of the King's
sports and of the Field of the Cloth of Gold and of



vi PREFACE.



Ardres. Knight's admirable Pictorial History of
Ungland tells of Barlow, the archer, dubbed by
Henry VIII. the King of Shoreditch.

Historic Winchester describes both St. Elizabeth
College and the Archer Monks of Hyde Abbey. The
tales mentioned as told by Ambrose to Dennet are
really New Forest legends.

The Moresco's Arabic Gospel and Breviary are
mentioned in Lady Calcott's History of Spain, but
she does not giv'e her authority. . Nor can I go
further than Knight's Pictorial History for the King's
adventure in the marsh. He does not say where it
happened, but as in Stowe's map " Dead Man's Hole"
appears in what is now Regent's Park, the marsh
was probably deep enough in places for the ad-
venture there. Brand's Popular Antiquities are the
authority for the nutting in St. John's Wood on
Holy Cross Day. Indeed, in some country parishes
I have heard that boys still think they have a license
to crack nuts at church on the ensuing Sunday.

Seebohm's Oxford Paformers and the Life of Sir
Thomas More, written by William Roper, are my other
authorities, tliuugh 1 touched somewhat unwillingly



PREFACE. vii



on ground already lighted up by Miss Manning in her
Household of Sir Thomas More.

Gait's Life of Cardinal Wolsey afforded the de-
scription of his household taken from his faithful
Cavendish, and likewise the story of Patch the Fool.
In fact, a large portion of the whole book was built
on that anecdote.

I mention all this because I have so often been
asked my authorities in historical tales, that I think
people prefer to have what the French appropriately
call jpi^ces justificatives.

C. M. YONGE.



Axigust 1st, 1884.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

TAGE
THE VERDURER's LODGE 1



CHAPTER II.

THE GRANGE OF SILKSTEDE 21

CHAPTER III.

KINSMEN AND STRANGERS 39

CHAPTER IV.
A hero's fall 63

CHAPTER V.

THE DRAGON COURT 79

CHAPTER VI.

A SUNDAY IN THE CITY 102

VOL. I. ^



X CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VII.

PAGE

YORK HOUSE 126



CHAPTER VIII.
yUIPSOME HA 1 146

CHAPTER IX.

ARM.S SPIRITUAL AND TEMPOUAI. 168

CHAPTER X.
TWO VOCATIONS 184

CHAPTER XI.

AY DI ME GRENADA 213

CHAPTER XII.

A KING IX A QUAGMir.E 233

CHAPTER XIII.

A LONDON HOLIDAY . 257



THE ARMOUKEK'S PRENTICES



THE

ARMOURER'S PRENTICES.

CHAPTER I.

THE VERDURER's LODGE.

" Give me the poor allottery my father left me by testament, with
that I will go buy me fortunes."
' ' Get you with him, you old dog. "

As Tmi Like It.

The officials of the New Forest have ever since tlie
days of tlie Conqueror enjoyed some of the pleasantest
dwellings that southern England can boast.

The home of the Birkenholt family was not one of the
least delightful. It stood at the foot of a rising erround,
on which grew a grove of magnificent beeches, their
large silveiy boles rising majestically like columns into
a lofty vaulting of branches, covered above with tender

VOL. I. B



2 THE ARMOURER'S PRENTICES. [chap.

Gfreen foliage. Here and there the shade beneath was
broken by the gilding of a ray of sunshine on a lower
twie, or on a white trunk, but the floor of the vast
arcades was almost entirely of the russet brown of the
fallen leaves, save where a fern or holly bush made a
spot of green. At the foot of the slope lay a stretch of
pasture ground, some parts covered by " lady-smocks,
all silver white," with the course of the little stream
through the midst indicated by a perfect golden river of
shining kingcups interspersed with ferns. Beyond lay
tracts of brown heath and brilliant gorse and broom,
which stretched for miles and miles along the flats,
while the dry ground was covered with holly brake, and
here and there woods of oak and beech made a sea of
verdure, purpling in the distance.

Cultivation was not attempted, but hardy little
ponies, cows, goats, sheep, and pigs were feeding, and
picking their way about in the marshy mead below, and
a small garden of pot-herbs, inclosed by a strong fence
of timber, lay on the sunny side of a spacious I'ambling
forest lodge, oidy one story high, built of solid tindier
and roofed with shingle. It was not without strong
pretensions to beauty, as well as to picturesqueness, for



T.] THE VERDURER'S LODGE.



the posts of the door, the architecture of the deep porch,
the frames of the latticed windows, and the verge boards
were all richly carved in grotesque devices. Over the
door w^as the royal shield, between a pair of magnificent
antlers, the spoils of a deer reported to have been slain
by King Edward IV., as was denoted by the " glorious
sun of York " carved beneath the shield.

In the background among the trees were ranges of
stables and kennels, and on the grass-plat in front of
the windows was a row of beehives. A tame doe lay on
the little green sward, not far from a large rough deer-
hound, both close friends who could be trusted at large.
There was a mournful dispirited look about the hound,
evidently an aged animal, for the once black muzzle
■was touched with grey, and there was a film over one of
the keen beautiful eyes, which opened eagerly as he
pricked his ears and lifted his head at the rattle of the
door latch. Then, as two boys came out, he rose, and
with a slowly waving tail, and a wistful appealing air,
came and laid his head against one of the pair who had
appeared in the porch. They were lads of fourteen and
fifteen, clad in suits of new mourning, with the short
belted doublet, puffed hose, small ruffs and little round

B 2



4 THE ARMOURER'S PRENTICES. [chap.

caps of early Tudor times. They had dark eyes and
liair, and honest open faces, the younger ruddy and sun-
burnt, the elder thinner and more intellectual — and
they were so much the same size that the advantage
of age was always supposed to be on the side of Stephen,
though he was really the junior by nearly a year. Both
were sad and grave, and the eyes and cheeks of Stephen
showed traces of recent floods of tears, though there
was more settled dejection on the countenance of his
brother.

"Ay, Spring," said the lad, "'tis winter with tliee
now. A poor old rogue ! Did the new housewife talk
of a halter because he showed his teeth when her ill-
nurtured brat wanted to ride on him ? Nay, old Spring,
thou shalt share thy master's fortunes, changed though
they be. Oh, father ! father ! didst thou guess how it
would be with thy boys ! " And throwing himself on
the grass, he hid his face against the dog and sobbed.

" Come, Stephen, Stephen ; 'tis time to play the
man ! Wliat arc we to do out in the world if you weep
and wail ? "

" She might have let us stay for the month's mind,"
was heard from Stephen.



I.] THE VERDURER'S LODGE.



" Ay, and though we might be more glad to go, we
might carry bitterer thoughts along with us. Better be
done with it at once, say I."

" There would still be the Forest ! And I saw the
moorhen sitting yester eve ! And the wild ducklings
are out on the pool, and the woods are full of song. Oh !
Ambrose ! I never knew how hard it is to part "

" Nay, now, Steve, where be all your plots for
bravery ? You always meant to seek your fortune — not
bide here like an acorn for ever."

" I never thought to be thrust forth the very day of
our poor father's burial, by a shrewish town-bred
vixen, and a base narrow^-souled "

" Hist ! hist !" said the more prudent Ambrose.

" Let him hear who will ! He cannot do w^orse for us
than he has done ! All the Forest will cry shame on
liim for a mean-hearted skinflint to turn his brothers
from their home, ere their father and his, be cold in his
grave," cried Stephen, clenching the grass with his
hands, in his passionate sense of wrong.

" That's womanish," said Ambrose.

" Who'll be the woman when the time comes for
drawing cold steel ? " cried Stephen, sitting up.



G THE AEMOURER'S PRENTICES. [chap.

At that moment there came through the porch a
man, a few years over thirty, likewise in mourning,
with a paler, sharper countenance than the brothers,
and an uncomfortable pleading expression of self-
justification.

"How now, lads!" he said, "what means this
passion ? You have taken the matter too hastily.
There was no thought that ye should part till you had
some purpose in view. Nay, we should be fain for
Ambrose to bide on here, so he would leave his portion
for me to deal with, and teach little Will his primer and
accidence. You are a quiet lad, Ambrose, and can rule
your tongue better than Stephen."

" Thanks, brother John," said Ambrose, somewhat
sarcastically, " but where Stephen goes I go."

" I would — I would have found Stephen a ])lace
among the prickers or rangers, if — " hesitated John.
"In sooth, I would yet do it, if he would make it ti])
with the housewife."

" My father looked higher for his son than a pricker's
office," returned Ambrose.

"That do i wot," said John, "and therefore, 'tis
for his own good that I would send him forth. His



1.] THE VEEDURER'S LODGE.



godfather, our uncle Birkenliolt, he will assuredly
provide for him, aud set him forth "

The door of the house was opened, and a shrewish
voice cried, " Mr. Birkenholt, here, husband ! You
are wanted. Here's little Kate crying to have yonder
smooth pouch to stroke, and I cannot reach it for
her."

" Father set store by that otter-skin pouch, for poor
Prince Arthur slew the otter," cried Stephen. " Surely,
John, you'll not let the babes make a toy of that ? "

John made a helpless gesture, and at a renewed
call, went indoors.

"You are right, Ambrose," said Stephen, " this is no
place for us. Why should we tarry any longer to see
evervthing moiled and set at nought ? I have couched

I/O o

in the forest before, and 'tis summer time."

"Nay," said Ambrose, "we must make uj^ our
fardels and have our money in our pouches before we
can depart. We must tarry the night, and call John to
his reckoning, and so might we set forth early enough
in the morning to lie at Winchester that night and
take counsel with our uncle Birkenholt."

" I would not stop short at Winchester," said Stephen.



8 THE ARMOURER'S PRENTICES. [chap.

" London for me, where uncle Randall will find us
preferment ! "

" And what wilt do for Spring ! "

" Take him with me, of course ! " exclaimed
Stephen. " What ! would I leave him to be kicked
and pinched by Will, and hanged belike by Mistress
Maud?"

" I doubt me whether the poor old hound will brook
the journey."

" Then I'll carry him ! "

Ambrose looked at the big dog as if he thought it
woidd be a serious undertaking, but he had known and
loved Sjjring as his brother's property ever since his
memory began, and he scarcely felt that they could be
separable for ^yeal or woe.

The verdurers of the New Forest were of gentle
blood, and their office was well-nigh hereditary. The
Birkenholts had held it for many generations, and the
reversion passed as a matter of course to the eldest son
of the late holder, who had newly been laid in the
burial ground of BcauHeu Abbey. John Birkenholt,
whose mother had been of knightly lineage, had re-
sented his father's second marriage with the dauijhter



I.] THE VERDURER'S LODGE. 9

of a yeoman on the verge of the Forest, suspected of a
strain of gipsy blood, and had lived little at home,
becoming a sort of agent at Southampton for business
connected with the timber which was yearly cut in the
Forest to supj^ly material for the shipping. He had
wedded the daughter of a person engaged in law busi-
ness at Southampton, and had only been an occasional
visitor at home, ever after the death of his stepmother.
She had left these two boys, unwelcome appendages in
his sight. They had obtained a certain amount of
education at Beaulieu Abbey, where a school was kept,
and where Ambrose daily studied, though for the last
few months Stephen had assisted his father in his
forest duties.

Death had come suddenly to break up the household
in the early spring of 1515, and John Birkenholt had
returned as if to a patrimony, bringing his wife and
children with him. The funeral ceremonies had been
conducted at Beaulieu Abbey on the extensive scale of
the sixteenth century, the requiem, the feast, and the
dole, all taking place there, leaving the Forest lodge in
its ordinary quiet.

It had always been understood that on their father's



10 THE ARMOUREE'S PRENTICES. [chap.

death the two younger sons must make their own way
in the world ; but he had hoped to hve until they were
a little older, when he might himself have started them
in life, or expressed his wishes respecting them to their
elder brother. As it was, however, there was no com-
mendation of them, nothing but a strip of parchment,
drawn up by one of the monks of Beaulieu, leaving
each of them twenty crowns, with a few small jewels
and properties left by their own mother, while every-
thing else went to their brother.

There might have been some jealousy excited by the
estimation in which Stephen's efficiency — boy as he was
— was evidently held by the plain-spoken underlings
of the vcrdurcr ; and this added to Mistress Birken-
holt's dislike to the presence of her husband's half-
brothers, whom she regarded as interlopers without a
right to exist. Matters were brouglit to a climax by
old Spring's resentment at being roughly teased by her
spoilt children. He had done nothing worse than
growl and show his teeth, but the town-bred dame had
taken alarm, and half in terror, half in spite, had
insisted on his instant execution, since he was too old
to be valuable. Stephen, who loved the dog only less



i] THE VERDURER'S LODGE. 1]

than he loved his brother Ambrose, had come to high
words with her ; and the end of the altercation had
been that she had declared that she would suffer no
great lubbers of the half-blood to devour her children's
inheritance, and teach them ill manners, and that go
they must, and that instantly. John had muttered a
little about " not so fast, dame," and " for very shame,"
but she had turned on him, and rated him with a
violence that demonstrated who was ruler in the house,
and took away all disposition to tarry long under the
new dynasty.

The boys possessed two uncles, one on each side of
the house. Their father's elder brother had been a
man-at-arms, having preferred a stirring life to the
Forest, and had fought in the last surges of the Wars of
the Roses. Having become disabled and infirm, he had
taken advantage of a corrody, or right of maintenance,
as being of kin to a benefactor of Hyde Abbey at Win-
chester, to which Birkenholt some generations back had
presented a few roods of land, in right of which, one
descendant at a time might be maintained in the
Abbey. Intelligence of his brother's death had been
sent to Richard Birkenholt, but answer had been



12 THE ARMOURER'S PRENTICES. [chap.



returned that he was too evil-disposed with the gout to
attend the buriah

The other uncle, Harry Randall, had disappeared from
the country under a cloud connected with the king's deer,
leaving behind him the reputation of a careless, thrift-
less, jovial fellow, the best company in all the Forest,
and capable of doing every one's work save his own.

The two brothers, who were about seven and six
years old at the time of his flight, had a lively recollec-
tion of his charms as a playmate, and of their mother's
grief for him, and refusal to believe any ill of her Hal.
Rumours had come of his attainment to vague and
unknown greatness at court, under the patronage of the
Lord Archbishop of York, which the Yerdurer laughed
to scorn, thouofh his wife crave credit to them. Gifts
had come from time to time, passed through a succes-
sion of servants and officials of the king, such as a coral
and silver rosary, a jewelled bodkin, an agate carved
with St. Catherine, an ivory pouncet box witli a pierced
gold coin as the lid ; but no letter with them, as
indeed Hal Randall had never been induced to learn to
read or write. Master Birkenholt looked doubtfully at
the tokens and hoped Hal had come honestly by them ;



I.] THE VERDURER'S LODGE. 13

but his wife had thoroughly imbued her sons with the
belief that Uncle Hal was shining in his proper sphere,
where he was better appreciated than at home. Thus
their one plan was to go to London to find Uncle Hal,
who was sure to put Stephen on the road to fortune,
and enable Ambrose to become a great scholar, his
favourite ambition.

His gifts would, as Ambrose observed, serve them as
tokens, and with the purpose of claiming them, they
re-entered the hall, a long low room, with a handsome
open roof, and walls tapestried with dressed skins, inter-
spersed with antlers, hung with weapons of the chase.
At one end of the hall was a small polished barrel,
always replenished with beer, at the other a hearth
with a wood fire constantly burning, and there was a
table running the whole length of the room ; at one
end of this was laid a cloth, with a few trenchers on it,
and horn cups, surrounding a barley loaf and a cheese,
this meagre irregular supper being considered as a
sufficient supplement to the funeral baked meats which
had abounded at Beaulieu. John Birkenholt sat at the
table with a trencher and horn before him, uneasily
using his knife to crumble, rather than cut, his bread.



14 THE ARMOURER'S PRENTICES. [chap

His wife, a thin, pale, shrewish-looking woman, was
warming her child's feet at the fire, before putting him
to bed, and an old woman sat spinning and nodding on
a settle at a little distance.

" Brother," said Stephen, " we have thought on what
you said. We Avill put our stuff together, and if you
will count us out our portions, we will be afoot by
sunrise to-morrow."

" Nay, nay, lad, I said not there was such haste ; did
I, mistress housewife?" — (she snorted); "only that
thou art a well-grown lusty fellow, and 'tis time thoii
wentest forth. For thee, Ambrose, thou wettest I
made thee a fair offer of bed and board."

" That is," called out the wife, " if thou wilt make
a fair scholar of little "Will. 'Tis a mighty good offer.
There are not many who would let their child be taught
by a mere stripling like thee I"

" Nay," said Ambrose, who could not bring himself
to thank her, " I go with Stephen, mistress ; I would
mend my scholarship ere I teach."

"As you please," said Mistress Maud, shrugging her
shoulders, " only never say that a fair offer was not
made to you."



1.] THE VERDURER'S LODGE. ]5

"And," said Stephen, " so please you, brother John,
hand us over our portions, and the jewels as bequeathed
to us, and we will be gone."

" Portions, quotha ? " returned John. " Boy, they be
not due to you till you be come to years of discretion,"

The brothers looked at one another, and Stephen
said, " Nay, now, brother, I know not how that may be,
but I do know that you cannot drive us from our
father's house without maintenance, and detain what
belongs to us."

And Ambrose muttered something aboiit " my Lord
of Beaulieu."

"Look you, now," said John, "did I ever speak of
driving you from home without maintenance ? Hath
not Ambrose had his choice of staying here, and
Stephen of waiting till some office be found for him ?
As for putting forty crowns into the hands of striplings
like you, it were mere thro\\ing it to the robbers."

" That being so," said Ambrose turning to Stephen,
" we will to Beaulieu, and see what counsel my lord
will give us."

"Yea, do, like the vipers ye are, and embroil us with
my Lord of Beaulieu," cried Maud from the fire.



16 THE ARMOURER'S PRENTICES. [chap.

" See," said John, in his more caressing fashion, " it
is not well to carry family tales to strangers, and —
and — "

He was disconcerted by a laugh from the old nurse,
" Ho ! John Birkenholt, thou wast ever a lad of smooth
tongue, but an thou, or madam here, think that thy
brothers can be put forth from thy father's door without
their due before the good man be cold in his grave,
and the Forest not ring with it, thou art mightily out
in thy reckoning ' "

"Peace, thou old hag; what matter is't of thine?"
began Mistress Maud, but again came the harsh laugh.

" Matter of mine ! Why, whose matter should it be
but mine, that have nursed all three of the lads, ay, and
their father before them, besides four more that lie in
the graveyard at BeauHeu ? Rest their sweet souls !
And I tell thee, Master John, an thou do not riojhteouslv
by these thy brothers, thou mayst back to thy parch-
ments at Southampton, for not a man or beast in the
Forest will give thee good day."

They all felt the old woman's authority. She was
able and spirited in her homely way, and more mistress
of the house tlian Mrs. Birkenholt herself; and such



I.] THE VERDURER'S LODGE. 17



were the terms of domestic service, that there was no
peril of losing her place. Even Maud knew that to
turn her out was an impossibility, and that she must be
accepted like the loneliness, damp, and other evils of
Forest life. John had been under her dominion, and
proceeded to persuade her. " Good now, Nurse Joan,
what have I denied these rash striplings that my father
would have granted them ? Wouldst thou have them
carry all their portion in their hands, to be cozened of
it at the first ale-house, or robbed on the next heath ? "

" I would have thee do a brother's honest part, John
Birkenholt. A loving part I say not. Thou wert
always like a very popple for hardness, and smoothness,
ay, and slipperiness. Heigh ho ! But what is right
by the lads, thou slialt do."

John cowered under her eye as he had done at six years
old, and faltered, " I only seek to do them right, nurse."

Nurse Joan uttered an emphatic grunt, but Mistress
Maud broke in, " They are not to hang about here in
idleness, eating my poor child's substance, and teaching
him ill manners."

" We would not stay here if you paid us for it,"
returned Stephen.

VOL. I. C



18 THE ARMOURER'S PRENTICES. [chap.

" And whither would you go ? " asked John.

" To Winchester first, to seek counsel with our uncle
Birkenholt. Then to London, where uncle Randall will
help us to our fortunes."

" Gipsy Hal ! He is more like to help you to a halter,"
sneered John, sotto voce, and Joan herself observed,
" Their uncle at Winchester will show them better than
to run after that there go-by-chance."

However, as no one wished to keep the youths, and
they were equally determined to go, an accommodati(3n
was come to at last, John was induced to give them
three crowns apiece and to yield them up the five small
trinkets specified, though not without some murmurs
from his wife. It was no doubt safer to leave the rest
of the money in his hands than to carry it with them,
and he undertook that it should be forthcoming, if
needed for any fit purpose, such as the purchase of an
office, an apprentice's fee, or an outfit as a squire. It
was a vague promise that cost him nothing just then,
and thus could be readily made, and John's great desire
was to get them away so that he could aver that they
had gone by their own free will, without any hardship,
for he had seen enough at his father's obsequies to show



I.] THE YERUURER'S LODGE. 19

him that the love and sympathy of all the scanty
dwellers in the Forest was with them.

Nnrse Joaa had fought their battles, but with the
sore heart of one who was parting with her darlings


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