About nine in the morning, Lord Foxham
was leading his ward, once more dressed as befitted
her sex, and followed by Alicia Risingham, to the
church of Holywood, when Richard Crookback, his brow
already heavy with cares, crossed their path and paused.
“Is this the maid?” he
asked; and when Lord Foxham had replied in the affirmative,
“Minion,” he added, “hold up your
face until I see its favour.”
He looked upon her sourly for a little.
“Ye are fair,” he said
at last, “and, as they tell me, dowered.
How if I offered you a brave marriage, as became
your face and parentage?”
“My lord duke,” replied
Joanna, “may it please your grace, I had rather
wed with Sir Richard.”
“How so?” he asked, harshly.
“Marry but the man I name to you, and he shall
be my lord, and you my lady, before night. For
Sir Richard, let me tell you plainly, he will die
“I ask no more of Heaven, my
lord, than but to die Sir Richard’s wife,”
“Look ye at that, my lord,”
said Gloucester, turning to Lord Foxham. “Here
be a pair for you. The lad, when for good services
I gave him his choice of my favour, chose but the
grace of an old, drunken shipman. I did warn
him freely, but he was stout in his besottedness.
’Here dieth your favour,’ said I; and
he, my lord, with a most assured impertinence, ‘Mine
be the loss,’ quoth he. It shall be so,
by the rood!”
“Said he so?” cried Alicia.
“Then well said, lion-driver!”
“Who is this?” asked the duke.
“A prisoner of Sir Richard’s,”
answered Lord Foxham; “Mistress Alicia Risingham.”
“See that she be married to a sure man,”
said the duke.
“I had thought of my kinsman,
Hamley, an it like your grace,” returned Lord
Foxham. “He hath well served the cause.”
“It likes me well,” said
Richard. “Let them be wedded speedily.
Say, fair maid, will you wed?”
“My lord duke,” said Alicia,
“so as the man is straight” And
there, in a perfect consternation, the voice died
on her tongue.
“He is straight, my mistress,”
replied Richard, calmly. “I am the only
crookback of my party; we are else passably well shapen.
Ladies, and you, my lord,” he added, with a
sudden change to grave courtesy, “judge me not
too churlish if I leave you. A captain, in the
time of war, hath not the ordering of his hours.”
And with a very handsome salutation
he passed on, followed by his officers.
“Alack,” cried Alicia, “I am shent!”
“Ye know him not,” replied
Lord Foxham. “It is but a trifle; he hath
already clean forgot your words.”
“He is, then, the very flower of knighthood,”
“Nay, he but mindeth other things,”
returned Lord Foxham. “Tarry we no more.”
In the chancel they found Dick waiting,
attended by a few young men; and there were he and
Joan united. When they came forth again, happy
and yet serious, into the frosty air and sunlight,
the long files of the army were already winding forward
up the road; already the Duke of Gloucester’s
banner was unfolded and began to move from before the
abbey in a clump of spears; and behind it, girt by
steel-clad knights, the bold, black-hearted, and ambitious
hunchback moved on towards his brief kingdom and his
lasting infamy. But the wedding party turned
upon the other side, and sat down, with sober merriment,
to breakfast. The father cellarer attended on
their wants, and sat with them at table. Hamley,
all jealousy forgotten, began to ply the nowise loth
Alicia with courtship. And there, amid the sounding
of tuckets and the clash of armoured soldiery and
horses continually moving forth, Dick and Joan sat
side by side, tenderly held hands, and looked, with
ever growing affection, in each other’s eyes.
Thenceforth the dust and blood of
that unruly epoch passed them by. They dwelt
apart from alarms in the green forest where their love
Two old men in the meanwhile enjoyed
pensions in great prosperity and peace, and with perhaps
a superfluity of ale and wine, in Tunstall hamlet.
One had been all his life a shipman, and continued
to the last to lament his man Tom. The other,
who had been a bit of everything, turned in the end
towards piety, and made a most religious death under
the name of Brother Honestus in the neighbouring
abbey. So Lawless had his will, and died a friar.