give you my word ye will be quit of him right soon. Ye will find
him with an arrow in his back."
Meantime the two gentlemen were walking briskly forward over the
down; the three torches going before them, stooping against the
wind and scattering clouds of smoke and tufts of flame, and the
rear brought up by the six archers.
Close upon the heels of these, Dick followed. He had, of course,
heard no word of this conversation; but he had recognised in the
second of the speakers old Lord Shoreby himself, a man of an
infamous reputation, whom even Sir Daniel affected, in public, to
Presently they came close down upon the beach. The air smelt salt;
the noise of the surf increased; and here, in a large walled
garden, there stood a small house of two storeys, with stables and
The foremost torch-bearer unlocked a door in the wall, and after
the whole party had passed into the garden, again closed and locked
it on the other side.
Dick and his men were thus excluded from any farther following,
unless they should scale the wall and thus put their necks in a
They sat down in a tuft of furze and waited. The red glow of the
torches moved up and down and to and fro within the enclosure, as
if the link bearers steadily patrolled the garden.
Twenty minutes passed, and then the whole party issued forth again
upon the down; and Sir Daniel and the baron, after an elaborate
salutation, separated and turned severally homeward, each with his
own following of men and lights.
As soon as the sound of their steps had been swallowed by the wind,
Dick got to his feet as briskly as he was able, for he was stiff
and aching with the cold.
"Capper, ye will give me a back up," he said.
They advanced, all three, to the wall; Capper stooped, and Dick,
getting upon his shoulders, clambered on to the cope-stone.
"Now, Greensheve," whispered Dick, "follow me up here; lie flat
upon your face, that ye may be the less seen; and be ever ready to
give me a hand if I fall foully on the other side."
And so saying he dropped into the garden.
It was all pitch dark; there was no light in the house. The wind
whistled shrill among the poor shrubs, and the surf beat upon the
beach; there was no other sound. Cautiously Dick footed it forth,
stumbling among bushes, and groping with his hands; and presently
the crisp noise of gravel underfoot told him that he had struck
upon an alley.
Here he paused, and taking his crossbow from where he kept it
concealed under his long tabard, he prepared it for instant action,
and went forward once more with greater resolution and assurance.
The path led him straight to the group of buildings.
All seemed to be sorely dilapidated: the windows of the house were
secured by crazy shutters; the stables were open and empty; there
was no hay in the hay-loft, no corn in the corn-box. Any one would
have supposed the place to be deserted. But Dick had good reason
to think otherwise. He continued his inspection, visiting the
offices, trying all the windows. At length he came round to the
sea-side of the house, and there, sure enough, there burned a pale
light in one of the upper windows.
He stepped back a little way, till he thought he could see the
movement of a shadow on the wall of the apartment. Then he
remembered that, in the stable, his groping hand had rested for a
moment on a ladder, and he returned with all despatch to bring it.
The ladder was very short, but yet, by standing on the topmost
round, he could bring his hands as high as the iron bars of the
window; and seizing these, he raised his body by main force until
his eyes commanded the interior of the room.
Two persons were within; the first he readily knew to be Dame
Hatch; the second, a tall and beautiful and grave young lady, in a
long, embroidered dress - could that be Joanna Sedley? his old wood-
companion, Jack, whom he had thought to punish with a belt?
He dropped back again to the top round of the ladder in a kind of
amazement. He had never thought of his sweetheart as of so
superior a being, and he was instantly taken with a feeling of
diffidence. But he had little opportunity for thought. A low
"Hist!" sounded from close by, and he hastened to descend the
"Who goes?" he whispered.
"Greensheve," came the reply, in tones similarly guarded.
"What want ye?" asked Dick.
"The house is watched, Master Shelton," returned the outlaw. "We
are not alone to watch it; for even as I lay on my belly on the
wall I saw men prowling in the dark, and heard them whistle softly
one to the other."
"By my sooth," said Dick, "but this is passing strange! Were they
not men of Sir Daniel's?"
"Nay, sir, that they were not," returned Greensheve; "for if I have
eyes in my head, every man-Jack of them weareth me a white badge in
his bonnet, something chequered with dark."
"White, chequered with dark," repeated Dick. "Faith, 'tis a badge
I know not. It is none of this country's badges. Well, an that be
so, let us slip as quietly forth from this garden as we may; for
here we are in an evil posture for defence. Beyond all question
there are men of Sir Daniel's in that house, and to be taken
between two shots is a beggarman's position. Take me this ladder;
I must leave it where I found it."
They returned the ladder to the stable, and groped their way to the
place where they had entered.
Capper had taken Greensheve's position on the cope, and now he
leaned down his hand, and, first one and then the other, pulled
Cautiously and silently, they dropped again upon the other side;
nor did they dare to speak until they had returned to their old
ambush in the gorse.
"Now, John Capper," said Dick, "back with you to Shoreby, even as
for your life. Bring me instantly what men ye can collect. Here
shall be the rendezvous; or if the men be scattered and the day be
near at hand before they muster, let the place be something farther
back, and by the entering in of the town. Greensheve and I lie
here to watch. Speed ye, John Capper, and the saints aid you to
despatch. And now, Greensheve," he continued, as soon as Capper
had departed, "let thou and I go round about the garden in a wide
circuit. I would fain see whether thine eyes betrayed thee."
Keeping well outwards from the wall, and profiting by every height
and hollow, they passed about two sides, beholding nothing. On the
third side the garden wall was built close upon the beach, and to
preserve the distance necessary to their purpose, they had to go
some way down upon the sands. Although the tide was still pretty
far out, the surf was so high, and the sands so flat, that at each
breaker a great sheet of froth and water came careering over the
expanse, and Dick and Greensheve made this part of their inspection
wading, now to the ankles, and now as deep as to the knees, in the
salt and icy waters of the German Ocean.
Suddenly, against the comparative whiteness of the garden wall, the
figure of a man was seen, like a faint Chinese shadow, violently
signalling with both arms. As he dropped again to the earth,
another arose a little farther on and repeated the same
performance. And so, like a silent watch word, these
gesticulations made the round of the beleaguered garden.
"They keep good watch," Dick whispered.
"Let us back to land, good master," answered Greensheve. "We stand
here too open; for, look ye, when the seas break heavy and white
out there behind us, they shall see us plainly against the foam."
"Ye speak sooth," returned Dick. "Ashore with us, right speedily."
CHAPTER II - A SKIRMISH IN THE DARK
Thoroughly drenched and chilled, the two adventurers returned to
their position in the gorse.
"I pray Heaven that Capper make good speed!" said Dick. "I vow a
candle to St. Mary of Shoreby if he come before the hour!"
"Y' are in a hurry, Master Dick?" asked Greensheve.
"Ay, good fellow," answered Dick; "for in that house lieth my lady,
whom I love, and who should these be that lie about her secretly by
night? Unfriends, for sure!"
"Well," returned Greensheve, "an John come speedily, we shall give
a good account of them. They are not two score at the outside - I
judge so by the spacing of their sentries - and, taken where they
are, lying so widely, one score would scatter them like sparrows.
And yet, Master Dick, an she be in Sir Daniel's power already, it
will little hurt that she should change into another's. Who should
"I do suspect the Lord of Shoreby," Dick replied. "When came
"They began to come, Master Dick," said Greensheve, "about the time
ye crossed the wall. I had not lain there the space of a minute
ere I marked the first of the knaves crawling round the corner."
The last light had been already extinguished in the little house
when they were wading in the wash of the breakers, and it was
impossible to predict at what moment the lurking men about the
garden wall might make their onslaught. Of two evils, Dick
preferred the least. He preferred that Joanna should remain under
the guardianship of Sir Daniel rather than pass into the clutches
of Lord Shoreby; and his mind was made up, if the house should be
assaulted, to come at once to the relief of the besieged.
But the time passed, and still there was no movement. From quarter
of an hour to quarter of an hour the same signal passed about the
garden wall, as if the leader desired to assure himself of the
vigilance of his scattered followers; but in every other particular
the neighbourhood of the little house lay undisturbed.
Presently Dick's reinforcements began to arrive. The night was not
yet old before nearly a score of men crouched beside him in the
Separating these into two bodies, he took the command of the
smaller himself, and entrusted the larger to the leadership of
"Now, Kit," said he to this last, "take me your men to the near
angle of the garden wall upon the beach. Post them strongly, and
wait till that ye hear me falling on upon the other side. It is
those upon the sea front that I would fain make certain of, for
there will be the leader. The rest will run; even let them. And
now, lads, let no man draw an arrow; ye will but hurt friends.
Take to the steel, and keep to the steel; and if we have the
uppermost, I promise every man of you a gold noble when I come to
Out of the odd collection of broken men, thieves, murderers, and
ruined peasantry, whom Duckworth had gathered together to serve the
purposes of his revenge, some of the boldest and the most
experienced in war had volunteered to follow Richard Shelton. The
service of watching Sir Daniel's movements in the town of Shoreby
had from the first been irksome to their temper, and they had of
late begun to grumble loudly and threaten to disperse. The
prospect of a sharp encounter and possible spoils restored them to
good humour, and they joyfully prepared for battle.
Their long tabards thrown aside, they appeared, some in plain green
jerkins, and some in stout leathern jacks; under their hoods many
wore bonnets strengthened by iron plates; and, for offensive
armour, swords, daggers, a few stout boar-spears, and a dozen of
bright bills, put them in a posture to engage even regular feudal
troops. The bows, quivers, and tabards were concealed among the
gorse, and the two bands set resolutely forward.
Dick, when he had reached the other side of the house, posted his
six men in a line, about twenty yards from the garden wall, and
took position himself a few paces in front. Then they all shouted
with one voice, and closed upon the enemy.
These, lying widely scattered, stiff with cold, and taken at
unawares, sprang stupidly to their feet, and stood undecided.
Before they had time to get their courage about them, or even to
form an idea of the number and mettle of their assailants, a
similar shout of onslaught sounded in their ears from the far side
of the enclosure. Thereupon they gave themselves up for lost and
In this way the two small troops of the men of the Black Arrow
closed upon the sea front of the garden wall, and took a part of
the strangers, as it were, between two fires; while the whole of
the remainder ran for their lives in different directions, and were
soon scattered in the darkness.
For all that, the fight was but beginning. Dick's outlaws,
although they had the advantage of the surprise, were still
considerably outnumbered by the men they had surrounded. The tide
had flowed, in the meanwhile; the beach was narrowed to a strip;
and on this wet field, between the surf and the garden wall, there
began, in the darkness, a doubtful, furious, and deadly contest.
The strangers were well armed; they fell in silence upon their
assailants; and the affray became a series of single combats.
Dick, who had come first into the mellay, was engaged by three; the
first he cut down at the first blow, but the other two coming upon
him, hotly, he was fain to give ground before their onset. One of
these two was a huge fellow, almost a giant for stature, and armed
with a two-handed sword, which he brandished like a switch.
Against this opponent, with his reach of arm and the length and
weight of his weapon, Dick and his bill were quite defenceless; and
had the other continued to join vigorously in the attack, the lad
must have indubitably fallen. This second man, however, less in
stature and slower in his movements, paused for a moment to peer
about him in the darkness, and to give ear to the sounds of the
The giant still pursued his advantage, and still Dick fled before
him, spying for his chance. Then the huge blade flashed and
descended, and the lad, leaping on one side and running in, slashed
sideways and upwards with his bill. A roar of agony responded,
and, before the wounded man could raise his formidable weapon,
Dick, twice repeating his blow, had brought him to the ground.
The next moment he was engaged, upon more equal terms, with his
second pursuer. Here there was no great difference in size, and
though the man, fighting with sword and dagger against a bill, and
being wary and quick of fence, had a certain superiority of arms,
Dick more than made it up by his greater agility on foot. Neither
at first gained any obvious advantage; but the older man was still
insensibly profiting by the ardour of the younger to lead him where
he would; and presently Dick found that they had crossed the whole
width of the beach, and were now fighting above the knees in the
spume and bubble of the breakers. Here his own superior activity
was rendered useless; he found himself more or less at the
discretion of his foe; yet a little, and he had his back turned
upon his own men, and saw that this adroit and skilful adversary
was bent upon drawing him farther and farther away.
Dick ground his teeth. He determined to decide the combat
instantly; and when the wash of the next wave had ebbed and left
them dry, he rushed in, caught a blow upon his bill, and leaped
right at the throat of his opponent. The man went down backwards,
with Dick still upon the top of him; and the next wave, speedily
succeeding to the last, buried him below a rush of water.
While he was still submerged, Dick forced his dagger from his
grasp, and rose to his feet, victorious.
"Yield ye!" he said. "I give you life."
"I yield me," said the other, getting to his knees. "Ye fight,
like a young man, ignorantly and foolhardily; but, by the array of
the saints, ye fight bravely!"
Dick turned to the beach. The combat was still raging doubtfully
in the night; over the hoarse roar of the breakers steel clanged
upon steel, and cries of pain and the shout of battle resounded.
"Lead me to your captain, youth," said the conquered knight. "It
is fit this butchery should cease."
"Sir," replied Dick, "so far as these brave fellows have a captain,
the poor gentleman who here addresses you is he."
"Call off your dogs, then, and I will bid my villains hold,"
returned the other.
There was something noble both in the voice and manner of his late
opponent, and Dick instantly dismissed all fears of treachery.
"Lay down your arms, men!" cried the stranger knight. "I have
yielded me, upon promise of life."
The tone of the stranger was one of absolute command, and almost
instantly the din and confusion of the mellay ceased.
"Lawless," cried Dick, "are ye safe?"
"Ay," cried Lawless, "safe and hearty."
"Light me the lantern," said Dick.
"Is not Sir Daniel here?" inquired the knight.
"Sir Daniel?" echoed Dick. "Now, by the rood, I pray not. It
would go ill with me if he were."
"Ill with YOU, fair sir?" inquired the other. "Nay, then, if ye be
not of Sir Daniel's party, I profess I comprehend no longer.
Wherefore, then, fell ye upon mine ambush? in what quarrel, my
young and very fiery friend? to what earthly purpose? and, to make
a clear end of questioning, to what good gentleman have I
But before Dick could answer, a voice spoke in the darkness from
close by. Dick could see the speaker's black and white badge, and
the respectful salute which he addressed to his superior.
"My lord," said he, "if these gentlemen be unfriends to Sir Daniel,
it is pity, indeed, we should have been at blows with them; but it
were tenfold greater that either they or we should linger here.
The watchers in the house - unless they be all dead or deaf - have
heard our hammering this quarter-hour agone; instantly they will
have signalled to the town; and unless we be the livelier in our
departure, we are like to be taken, both of us, by a fresh foe."
"Hawksley is in the right," added the lord. "How please ye, sir?
Whither shall we march?"
"Nay, my lord," said Dick, "go where ye will for me. I do begin to
suspect we have some ground of friendship, and if, indeed, I began
our acquaintance somewhat ruggedly, I would not churlishly
continue. Let us, then, separate, my lord, you laying your right
hand in mine; and at the hour and place that ye shall name, let us
encounter and agree."
"Y' are too trustful, boy," said the other; "but this time your
trust is not misplaced. I will meet you at the point of day at St.
Bride's Cross. Come, lads, follow!"
The strangers disappeared from the scene with a rapidity that
seemed suspicious; and, while the outlaws fell to the congenial
task of rifling the dead bodies, Dick made once more the circuit of
the garden wall to examine the front of the house. In a little
upper loophole of the roof he beheld a light set; and as it would
certainly be visible in town from the back windows of Sir Daniel's
mansion, he doubted not that this was the signal feared by
Hawksley, and that ere long the lances of the Knight of Tunstall
would arrive upon the scene.
He put his ear to the ground, and it seemed to him as if he heard a
jarring and hollow noise from townward. Back to the beach he went
hurrying. But the work was already done; the last body was
disarmed and stripped to the skin, and four fellows were already
wading seaward to commit it to the mercies of the deep.
A few minutes later, when there debauched out of the nearest lanes
of Shoreby some two score horsemen, hastily arrayed and moving at
the gallop of their steeds, the neighbourhood of the house beside
the sea was entirely silent and deserted.
Meanwhile, Dick and his men had returned to the ale-house of the
Goat and Bagpipes to snatch some hours of sleep before the morning
CHAPTER III - ST. BRIDE'S CROSS
St. Bride's cross stood a little way back from Shoreby, on the
skirts of Tunstall Forest. Two roads met: one, from Holywood
across the forest; one, that road from Risingham down which we saw
the wrecks of a Lancastrian army fleeing in disorder. Here the two
joined issue, and went on together down the hill to Shoreby; and a
little back from the point of junction, the summit of a little
knoll was crowned by the ancient and weather-beaten cross.
Here, then, about seven in the morning, Dick arrived. It was as
cold as ever; the earth was all grey and silver with the hoarfrost,
and the day began to break in the east with many colours of purple
Dick set him down upon the lowest step of the cross, wrapped
himself well in his tabard, and looked vigilantly upon all sides.
He had not long to wait. Down the road from Holywood a gentleman
in very rich and bright armour, and wearing over that a surcoat of
the rarest furs, came pacing on a splendid charger. Twenty yards
behind him followed a clump of lances; but these halted as soon as
they came in view of the trysting-place, while the gentleman in the
fur surcoat continued to advance alone.
His visor was raised, and showed a countenance of great command and
dignity, answerable to the richness of his attire and arms. And it
was with some confusion of manner that Dick arose from the cross
and stepped down the bank to meet his prisoner.
"I thank you, my lord, for your exactitude," he said, louting very
low. "Will it please your lordship to set foot to earth?"
"Are ye here alone, young man?" inquired the other,
"I was not so simple," answered Dick; "and, to be plain with your
lordship, the woods upon either hand of this cross lie full of mine
honest fellows lying on their weapons."
"Y' 'ave done wisely," said the lord. "It pleaseth me the rather,
since last night ye fought foolhardily, and more like a salvage
Saracen lunatic than any Christian warrior. But it becomes not me
to complain that had the undermost."
"Ye had the undermost indeed, my lord, since ye so fell," returned
Dick; "but had the waves not holpen me, it was I that should have
had the worst. Ye were pleased to make me yours with several
dagger marks, which I still carry. And in fine, my lord, methinks
I had all the danger, as well as all the profit, of that little
blind-man's mellay on the beach."
"Y' are shrewd enough to make light of it, I see," returned the
"Nay, my lord, not shrewd," replied Dick, "in that I shoot at no
advantage to myself. But when, by the light of this new day, I see
how stout a knight hath yielded, not to my arms alone, but to
fortune, and the darkness, and the surf - and how easily the battle
had gone otherwise, with a soldier so untried and rustic as myself-
-think it not strange, my lord, if I feel confounded with my
"Ye speak well," said the stranger. "Your name?"
"My name, an't like you, is Shelton," answered Dick.
"Men call me the Lord Foxham," added the other.
"Then, my lord, and under your good favour, ye are guardian to the
sweetest maid in England," replied Dick; "and for your ransom, and
the ransom of such as were taken with you on the beach, there will
be no uncertainty of terms. I pray you, my lord, of your goodwill
and charity, yield me the hand of my mistress, Joan Sedley; and
take ye, upon the other part, your liberty, the liberty of these
your followers, and (if ye will have it) my gratitude and service
till I die."
"But are ye not ward to Sir Daniel? Methought, if y' are Harry
Shelton's son, that I had heard it so reported," said Lord Foxham.
"Will it please you, my lord, to alight? I would fain tell you
fully who I am, how situate, and why so bold in my demands.
Beseech you, my lord, take place upon these steps, hear me to a
full end, and judge me with allowance."
And so saying, Dick lent a hand to Lord Foxham to dismount; led him
up the knoll to the cross; installed him in the place where he had
himself been sitting; and standing respectfully before his noble
prisoner, related the story of his fortunes up to the events of the
Lord Foxham listened gravely, and when Dick had done, "Master
Shelton," he said, "ye are a most fortunate-unfortunate young
gentleman; but what fortune y' 'ave had, that ye have amply
merited; and what unfortune, ye have noways deserved. Be of a good
cheer; for ye have made a friend who is devoid neither of power nor
favour. For yourself, although it fits not for a person of your
birth to herd with outlaws, I must own ye are both brave and
honourable; very dangerous in battle, right courteous in peace; a
youth of excellent disposition and brave bearing. For your
estates, ye will never see them till the world shall change again;
so long as Lancaster hath the strong hand, so long shall Sir Daniel
enjoy them for his own. For my ward, it is another matter; I had
promised her before to a gentleman, a kinsman of my house, one
Hamley; the promise is old - "