The next morning Dick was afoot before
the sun, and having dressed himself to the best advantage
with the aid of the Lord Foxham’s baggage, and
got good reports of Joan, he set forth on foot to walk
away his impatience.
For some while he made rounds among
the soldiery, who were getting to arms in the wintry
twilight of the dawn and by the red glow of torches;
but gradually he strolled further afield, and at length
passed clean beyond the outposts, and walked alone
in the frozen forest, waiting for the sun.
His thoughts were both quiet and happy.
His brief favour with the Duke he could not find
it in his heart to mourn; with Joan to wife, and my
Lord Foxham for a faithful patron, he looked most happily
upon the future; and in the past he found but little
As he thus strolled and pondered,
the solemn light of the morning grew more clear, the
east was already coloured by the sun, and a little
scathing wind blew up the frozen snow. He turned
to go home; but even as he turned, his eye lit upon
a figure behind, a tree.
“Stand!” he cried. “Who goes?”
The figure stepped forth and waved
its hand like a dumb person. It was arrayed
like a pilgrim, the hood lowered over the face, but
Dick, in an instant, recognised Sir Daniel.
He strode up to him, drawing his sword;
and the knight, putting his hand in his bosom, as
if to seize a hidden weapon, steadfastly awaited his
“Well, Dickon,” said Sir
Daniel, “how is it to be? Do ye make war
upon the fallen?”
“I made no war upon your life,”
replied the lad; “I was your true friend until
ye sought for mine; but ye have sought for it greedily.”
replied the knight. “And now, boy, the
news of this battle, and the presence of yon crooked
devil here in mine own wood, have broken me beyond
all help. I go to Holywood for sanctuary; thence
overseas, with what I can carry, and to begin life
again in Burgundy or France.”
“Ye may not go to Holywood,” said Dick.
“How! May not?” asked the knight.
“Look ye, Sir Daniel, this is
my marriage morn,” said Dick; “and yon
sun that is to rise will make the brightest day that
ever shone for me. Your life is forfeit doubly
forfeit, for my father’s death and your own
practices to meward. But I myself have done amiss;
I have brought about men’s deaths; and upon
this glad day I will be neither judge nor hangman.
An ye were the devil, I would not lay a hand on you.
An ye were the devil, ye might go where ye will for
me. Seek God’s forgiveness; mine ye have
freely. But to go on to Holywood is different.
I carry arms for York, and I will suffer no spy within
their lines. Hold it, then, for certain, if
ye set one foot before another, I will uplift my voice
and call the nearest post to seize you.”
“Ye mock me,” said Sir Daniel. “I
have no safety out of Holywood.”
“I care no more,” returned
Richard. “I let you go east, west, or south;
north I will not. Holywood is shut against you.
Go, and seek not to return. For, once ye are
gone, I will warn every post about this army, and
there will be so shrewd a watch upon all pilgrims that,
once again, were ye the very devil, ye would find
it ruin to make the essay.”
“Ye doom me,” said Sir Daniel, gloomily.
“I doom you not,” returned
Richard. “If it so please you to set your
valour against mine, come on; and though I fear it
be disloyal to my party, I will take the challenge
openly and fully, fight you with mine own single strength,
and call for none to help me. So shall I avenge
my father, with a perfect conscience.”
“Ay,” said Sir Daniel, “y’
have a long sword against my dagger.”
“I rely upon Heaven only,”
answered Dick, casting his sword some way behind him
on the snow. “Now, if your ill-fate bids
you, come; and, under the pleasure of the Almighty,
I make myself bold to feed your bones to foxes.”
“I did but try you, Dickon,”
returned the knight, with an uneasy semblance of a
laugh. “I would not spill your blood.”
“Go, then, ere it be too late,”
replied Shelton. “In five minutes I will
call the post. I do perceive that I am too long-suffering.
Had but our places been reversed, I should have been
bound hand and foot some minutes past.”
“Well, Dickon, I will go,”
replied Sir Daniel. “When we next meet,
it shall repent you that ye were so harsh.”
And with these words, the knight turned
and began to move off under the trees. Dick
watched him with strangely-mingled feelings, as he
went, swiftly and warily, and ever and again turning
a wicked eye upon the lad who had spared him, and
whom he still suspected.
There was upon one side of where he
went a thicket, strongly matted with green ivy, and,
even in its winter state, impervious to the eye.
Herein, all of a sudden, a bow sounded like a note
of music. An arrow flew, and with a great, choked
cry of agony and anger, the Knight of Tunstall threw
up his hands and fell forward in the snow.
Dick bounded to his side and raised
him. His face desperately worked; his whole
body was shaken by contorting spasms.
“Is the arrow black?” he gasped.
“It is black,” replied Dick, gravely.
And then, before he could add one
word, a desperate seizure of pain shook the wounded
man from head to foot, so that his body leaped in Dick’s
supporting arms, and with the extremity of that pang
his spirit fled in silence.
The young man laid him back gently
on the snow and prayed for that unprepared and guilty
spirit, and as he prayed the sun came up at a bound,
and the robins began chirping in the ivy.
When he rose to his feet, he found
another man upon his knees but a few steps behind
him, and, still with uncovered head, he waited until
that prayer also should be over. It took long;
the man, with his head bowed and his face covered
with his hands, prayed like one in a great disorder
or distress of mind; and by the bow that lay beside
him, Dick judged that he was no other than the archer
who had laid Sir Daniel low.
At length he, also, rose, and showed
the countenance of Ellis Duckworth.
“Richard,” he said, very
gravely, “I heard you. Ye took the better
part and pardoned; I took the worse, and there lies
the clay of mine enemy. Pray for me.”
And he wrung him by the hand.
“Sir,” said Richard, “I
will pray for you, indeed; though how I may prevail
I wot not. But if ye have so long pursued revenge,
and find it now of such a sorry flavour, bethink ye,
were it not well to pardon others? Hatch he
is dead, poor shrew! I would have spared a better;
and for Sir Daniel, here lies his body. But for
the priest, if I might anywise prevail, I would have
you let him go.”
A flash came into the eyes of Ellis Duckworth.
“Nay,” he said, “the
devil is still strong within me. But be at rest;
the Black Arrow flieth nevermore the fellowship
is broken. They that still live shall come to
their quiet and ripe end, in Heaven’s good time,
for me; and for yourself, go where your better fortune
calls you, and think no more of Ellis.”