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" I am ready to serve thee in good and in ill: I am ready to live and to die with thee ; but it were sheer madness, with thy single force, to"
The Chief interrupted him by unfolding his letters and pointing to several names which were mentioned in them, speaking -hastily as he went on. « Archetil is up in arms; Ferrars is with us-Roger de Moubray hath good bowmen-Hamo de Mascie will not flinch-Hugh Bigod will not be idle in a rising—Clare and Glocester may be won ;-and, let but Williams hear the news of our arming, the North shall see an hundred thousand Scottish spears ere an hundred men are afoot against us. It is no time for dallying; and this place, though for forty-eight hours it hath concealed our ill-assorted levy, is no safe abode for men engaged in this warfare. We must endeavour to join my brother at the setting of to-morrow's sun.” Eustace bowed, and was preparing to withdraw, but was recalled. A few sentences were exchanged, in which the name of Reginald was frequently mentioned, and he was then summoned before his Captor.
« Reginald d’Arennes,” said the Knight, in a low tone of voice, “ thou seest before thee Richard de Mallory. For himself he hath little claim to expect that his name should have been breathed in thine ear, but thou wilt know him better as the brother of the renowned Archetil de Mallory, who, with many brave companions, which at a more fitting time shall be enumerated to thee, is now in arms against usurpation and tyranny. What sayest thou ? wilt thou continue to disgrace, by thine inactivity, the name of thine ancestor ; or wilt thou join thy name to the list of these valiant nobles, buckle thy fortune to thy sword, and win an Earldom by my side ?”
Now Reginald was by no means deficient in natural penetration, although he had not the firmness of character which was requisite to act upon its suggestions ; he saw, therefore, that the attempt of these “ valiant nobles,” like the many other conspiracies by which the reign of Henry II. was perpetually threatened, would probably have for its conclusion confiscation and death. He was not very ready to embark in an undertaking of this nature, until he had conferred with the Baron upon its expediency, and had calculated the chances for and against success. Upon the present occasion, therefore, he succeeded with much difficulty in pleading his approaching bridal as an excuse for declining the offer of his new acquaintance.
Richard de Mallory, however, appeared by no means satisfied with the apology; the less so, when upon inquiry he heard that the Lady, whose unseen charms detained the young Lord from the field, was of Şaxon descent. That the scion of so illustrious a stock should intermarry with that contemned race, was an idea
heath. "Quld on the alla
which startled the prejudices of the proud Norman ; insomuch that he evidently entertained serious doubts of the truth of the narration. “ Elfrida of Kennet-hold !” he muttered to himself, “ named not the Saxon whom our spies brought hither this morning the name of Kennet-hold ? ”
“ He did,” replied Eustace.
“ Lead him hither,” said de Mallory; and instantly, from one of the avenues which led into the forest, some armed men brought forth a captive Saxon, in whom Reginald immediately recognized the messenger who had escaped from his baffled followers in the morning. The Saxon also bestowed a glance of recognition upon his fellow-captive. “ Saxon," said de Mallory scornfully, “what, saidst thou, was thy name? for in truth the appellations of thy race dwell not long in Norman remembrance.”
“ I am called," said the prisoner, looking on Reginald as he spoke, “ Lothaire; the first-born of Leofwyn of Kennet-hold. Thy name, Richard de Mallory, is not unknown to me: thou art one of those who have raised up the subjects against the King, and the sons against the father. But the work needed not thine agency. It shall be long ere a Norman shall know peace on the throne of Harold ; long, ere the gods of the Saxons shall cease to revenge upon the head of his descendants the usurpation of the first William.”.
“ I asked not for thy forebodings ; nor knew I that I had a prophet in my camp. One more question shall I ask thee. Shall Reginald d'Arennes wed thy father's daughter ?”
Lothaire seemed much embarrassed by the question : he hesitáted for some time; until at last, smiling, as if he had found the means of releasing himself from some difficulty, he looked at Reginald with an unintelligible expression of countenance, and replied, “ He rideth with that purpose.”
« It is enough,” exclaimed the chief. “ The Norman Knight that can stoop to wed with the daughter of a Saxon Franklin, is no fellow in arms for Richard de Mallory. Let them wend on their way together. Where is the fool ? it were pity to deny him to such fit company?”
And with this sarcasm the three captives were suffered to depart; being first obliged to swear a binding oath not to divulge what they had seen and heard in their confinement. Reginald suffered himself to be reconducted to the place where he had been seized, without betraying any unusual emotion either of joy or resentment; but Lothaire cast back upon the Norman leader frequent glances expressive of the most determined hate, and a disposition to make a speedy and an ample return for his discourteous hospitality. Their horses were brought to them, and
they again set forward upon their errand with no injury than what was occasioned by the long delay they had experienced. It was near sunset, and there seemed little possibility of their reaching Kennet-hold before nightfall. They pushed on, however, at a brisk pace. It may be doubted whether Reginald was altogether pleased with the new companion he had met with in the person of Lothaire; who accompanied him unasked, and threw upon him at whiles a look which spoke any thing rather than brotherly love. Robin kept a respectful distance ; for he seemed to have for the Saxon youth nó stronger predilection than his master. . · Meantime the mind of the rebel chief was little disturbed by the disastrous intelligence which he had received. The leader, upon whom his party had placed the greatest reliance, was taken; and the easy defeat of the Flemings had taught him a lesson which every one that embarks in a great undertaking should learn betimes,—that it is a perilous thing to put trust in foreign . auxiliaries. Yet so accustomed was he to this irregular mode of warfare, and so inured to all the vicissitudes to which the fickle temper of Dame Fortune might subject him, that his mind was at this moment perfectly calm, and hardly rested a thought upon the perilous situation in which he found himself placed. He seated himself at the rude banquet which his followers were now preparing with perfect indifference, although the possibility of his enjoying another tranquil meal was at least a matter of doubt. After some time spent in noisy revelling,—for when their assistance was required in an affair of so much danger, the Chief thought it no scorn to join in the merriment and court the goodwill of his vassals,—Richard began to reflect upon his interview with his two captives; and, with a contemptuous smile, he asked who was the Saxon Divinity to whom they must attribute the loss of so able a coadjutor in the person of Reginald D’Arennes ?
A dozen sturdy voices were lifted up at once, in commendation of the Lady Elfrida. Her tall and commanding stature-her long flaxen hair-her dignified countenance ; her cheeks, whose bright complexion invited the flattery which they blushed to hearand her light blue eye, whose glance beamed so mildly on the meek, and met so proudly the gazes of the proud ;-were alternately the themes of admiration. At last the Chieftain, impatient of these rapturous effusions, which he began to think were endless, poured out his last cap “ to the health of the Rose of Kennet-hold,” and deserted the board. He busied himself for a time in giving the necessary orders for their departure early in the ensuing morning; and then, calling Eustace aside, exclaimed, “ We will ourselves look upon this Saxon beauty : by our Lady, if she deserve but one half of the praises of these boors, she may
haply be the companion of our onward march." And with these words, attended by his Esquire, de Mallory strode from the enclosure.
While this scene was going on, Reginald and his companion had made considerable progress on their journey, and were within a few miles of its termination; yet not a word had been exchanged between them. They looked from time to time towards each other, apparently with a mutual feeling of dislike, if not of apprehension. At last Lothaire led the way to conversation, in a tone which betrayed a strong disposition to offer an insult, although the disposition appeared to be checked or subdued for a time by the counteragency of some equally powerful motive.
“ Sir Reginald,” said he, “ knowest thou the qualities which are required in him who would sue for the hand of my sister Elfrida ?”
“I have doubts touching this matter," replied Reginald. “ Methinks,” rejoined his companion, “ it were worth the while to instruct thyself further, ere thou settest foot on my father's threshold; for, of a truth, Elfrida hath a right Saxon spirit, and a right Saxon speech: she hath proud eyes, that smile on whom they list, and frown on whom they will; and proud thoughts, that respect not so much the glittering of the corselet as the valour of
respectight that weariat'ike a thu
This was somewhat like a thunderclap to poor Reginald. He had anticipated no difficulties of this nature : the timidity of his nature would have shrunk back with horror from the mention of à protracted courtship. In short, he had expected a path strewd with roses, and he found it beset with briars; he came to wed an obedient and passive bride, and he began to suspect she was little better than an intractable virago. After having spent some moments in reflections of this nature, he gave utterance to his secret musings in a brief soliloquy.
“ I am doubting whether or no I shall proceed.”
He was answered by a loud laugh from his intended brotherin-law; who proceeded forthwith to dispel the apprehensions which he had himself excited.
« Cheer thee, noble Knight; be not afraid for a woman. Thou hast, princely Reginald, many valorous and knightly qualities; the least of which might win a richer bride than the daughter of Leofwyn and the sister of Lothaire. Surely thou dost obtain honour at those splendid jousts, from which thou knowest our Saxon habits do utterly revolt; and, doubtless, thou hast skill in foreign music, which thou knowest our Saxon ears do utterly detest; and thou art also skilled in that foreign language which thou knowest a Saxon doth so loath, that he would have his
tongue torn from his throát rather than give utterance to its accents.”
“ Brother,” said Reginald, who began to perceive the necessity of conciliating Lothaire, “ I have meddled but little with courts; and, in my ignorance of these accomplishments, I am a perfect Saxon. But I prithee tell me, in love and fellowship, by what means or endeavours it is possible for me to win the goodwill of thy sister.”
" I will show thee,” said Lothaire: “ First, thou must learn to speak, not tardily through thy teeth, as is thy present method, but boldly, openly, and fearlessly, as one man should do to another."
“ Whether this be possible, I doubt,” observed Reginald.
“ Secondly,” said his instructor, “ at my father's board thou must not be too ready to relinquish the goblet.”
“ I will do thee reason I will do thee reason, Sir Lothaire," returned Reginald," Marry; I shall need but little instruction upon that head :” and he strained his eye, as he spoke, in the direction of Kennet-hold, as if he would measure the space which lay between his lip and the flagon.
“ Thirdly,” resumed Lothaire, “ thou must hate a Norman as thou wouldest hate the foul fiend."
“ I do,” cried Reginald, “ I do hate a Norman : the Norman we-parted from e'en now-Richard de Mallory. A blight upon · him! he hath bound me, scoffed at me, worried my body and my mind, until I can scarcely keep my saddle on my journey, or recollect whither the journey tendeth. A murrain on the proud knight! Doth he fancy that I care aught whether the father or the son hath the better? whether the Henry I serve be called the second or the third ?”
“ If I may risk prophecy,” muttered the Saxon, " thou wilt never see the third Henry wearing his father's crown. We have worn the yoke of your tyrants long enough ; and it is time that the throne of Alfred should be again filled by one of his descendants. Despised and oppressed as we are, there are still true Saxons enow to drive ye headlong from the land ye have spoiled.”
The two young men had continued to ride as far apart as courtesy and their road would permit; and the line of conversation into which they had fallen did not seem likely to promote kinder feelings between them. Reginald's national prejudices began to rise high within him, and to overpower the want of energy which was his failing. “ Sir Lothaire,” he replied doggedly, “ methinks thou hast forgotten Hastings.”
“ Sir Knight,” said his companion, in a melancholy voice, “it is not possible for thee or for me to forget Hastings. Thine