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and refresh ye; and that done, we will fit ye with good platecoats, and tough lances, and we will ride forth this same night upon adventure. But hold! hold! I would see your judgment in this same article of horse-flesh-choose, each of ye, a charger out of the lot before ye, and if your choosing like me, why I will stand the upshot."
With many thanks, the soldiers turned to the grateful task, proceeding to the business with so much alacrity and readiness, as proved them, in their own estimation, at the least, masters of the art. It was not, however, till after much chaffering with the maquignon, and much consultation with each other, and much more examination than the knight had judged necessary before choosing his own destrier, that they pitched upon two powerful and well-bred horses, which meeting Sir Hugues' approbation, were set apart with those which he had already selected.
This matter of the horses having been thus satisfactorily arranged, it remained only to equip them and their riders with their necessary arms and housings; and scarcely had the hostlers led away the chargers to get them fitted at the saddler's with their steel-plated demipiques, and chainwork bridles, before the deacon of the armorers reappeared, accompanied by four or five stout serving-men, dividing among them the different pieces of two complete suits of armor, suited as nearly as might be guessed to the page Ermold; on trial, however, one of the two proved quite too large; while the other, which fitted perfectly, was pronounced by the knight to be of too splendid a fashion for his esquire, being all engrailed with damasking of silver.
"Ermold shall go with you," he said, "good master armorer, and I will trust to you to fit him forth becomingly; let the harness be of plate, bright steel, but without ornament; if it be of Alnayn rivet, or from a Milan forge, so much the better. A close casque of the old fashion, with a fixed avantaille, — and see there be gusset of good mail, hooked firmly to the corslet-rim and upper edge of the brassards, to guard the oxter from arrow-shot or thrust of some sharp weapon when the right arm is raised. Dost mark ine, ha? And ye, good fellows, go with him likewise; fit them, I pray you, both with your best harness of burnished Flanders iron, complete dost understand? - complete from head to foot, steelboot and taslet, brassard, vant-brace, and corslet; and see here! none of your open morions, or bacinets, but good stout cerveilleres, with beaver and mailhood. That done, I will entreat you to commend them to a leatherworker's, where they may get them each a cassock of dressed hide to wear above their mail; white, mark you, Ermold, and laid down on the seams with lace.
And see ye that the suits be of one pattern, that ye look orderly and neat; not loose, irregular companions. Furnish them likewise, thou, Herr Jacob, with double-handed swords, and dudgeon daggers of a hand's breadth, and a good battle-axe apiece of ten pounds weight or better. Now hurry, my men, hurry! for by the Lord that lives, the day is waning. Now, Vandenkopf," he added, turning to the landlord, "go in and speak with me, for I must needs draw a bill on Master Morillon of Bruges, or if it like your money-changers better, on the intendant of my estates of Tankerville, to pay for these same steeds and harness!"
This would have been at that day, in any other state of Europe, a task of no small difficulty; but even at an earlier date than that of which we write, the intelligent and industrious Flemings had been in the habit of using something analogous to bills of exchange; the invention of which is variously attributed to the Jews, the merchants of the Low Country, and the traders of the Italian republics; and to one so famous as Hugues de Coucy, there would have been no difficulty in raising even a larger sum than he required among the opulent goldsmiths and jewellers, who were in those days the bankers of Brussels.
The sun was still high above the western horizon, although it was long past noon, so rapidly had de Coucy's men, eager to gain the good opinion of a lord at the same time so liberal, and, if report spoke true, so strict in the maintenance of discipline, got through the tasks allotted to them—when the baron's party issued forth by a different gate from that which had admitted him, into the great plain beyond the city walls. They were not perhaps in all respects so complete a train as that which had accompanied the baron, previous to his encounter with the Red Bastard and his confederates; but they afforded, notwithstanding, a noble spectacle; for the horses were picked beasts, and the new men-at-arms tall well-made fellows, and good riders, bearing themselves erect and proudly in their saddles, beautifully equipped, and managing their own chargers with ease and skill, while each led a spare horse, the two Arabs before mentioned, lightly equipped, and loaded with spare armor and a few staves for lances The young Esquire for to that honorable station, by dint of gallantry, bold zeal, and approved fidelity, Ermold de Clermont was now fairly inducted — wore his beaver up, as he caracoled gayly behind his liege lord, his whole face radiant, and his eyes lightning with enthusiastic pleasure; so that no one could doubt for a moment that his young high spirit would effect far more than could be expected from his slender frame and juvenile appearance.
They had not ridden far before the knight made a sign to him; and when he rode up to him, desired him to relieve the man-atarms, called Giles, of the horse he was leading, and send him forward, as he would speak with him for a few moments. The exchange was effected in a minute, and with a deep obeisance the trooper trotted sharply up to his lord's side.
"So, Giles," the knight began, "Master Vandenkopf tells me thou art a thorough guide for all this Netherlandish country — is't so, good fellow ?"
"Nearly so, Beau Sire," the man answered; "all on this French frontier I do know foot by foot; and on the northern side there are, I do believe, few better guides than I, up to the Elbe at least, and on the Rhine as far as to Cologne, so please you."
"Well, it does please me wondrous well!-Now, sir, where lies the chateau de Verneuil - how strong is't, and how manned ?— nigh to what town or hamlet, and what chance of mustering men about it ?"
"It lies some ten leagues hence north-westerly, in the very thicket of the forest, not very far from Tirlemont and Hannut; at least those are the nearest places to it. There be a few small tenures round about it, and a little, oh, a very little village at the hill-foot. Then as for its strength--it is but one square keep, with a few out-buildings in a court-yard, surrounded by a low wall with some half dozen turrets at the angles. The present Seigneur has indeed dug a new moat, and filled it from a neighboring rivulet, and built a low barbican over against the gate-but the Lord love you! it has no strength at all. Why twenty men might carry it, and as for help, there is no help to be got nigher than Hannut, and that must be four leagues. I have heard too that the Sieur de Floris, he is the Chatelain, you know, sir,-has ridden thence some months ago to join the English queen at Mirepoix, where she is waiting, as they say, her bad son John's arrival-I do believe there are but scant ten spears in the chateau, and no better captain than the young lady!"
"And they will be attacked at day-break to-morrow by forty Routiers at the least, under that ruffian Talebard-"
"Ha! Talebardin," said the man-" and the Red Bastard, I will warrant it, and like enough the gray priest too!-well, Beau Seigneur, however you may know it, of this be sure, if they do attack the chateau, then they will carry it, most surely."
"No! no! good fellow; the Red Bastard will couch lance no more, nor the gray brother either, nor shall they carry the chateau so readily!—
The trooper looked bewildered for a few seconds, as if he were at a loss to comprehend de Coucy's meaning; and then taking courage, asked, "How, my lord ?—how shall they no more couch lance when it is their trade alway?—"
"Because my spear-point went in at his gorget-joint and came out through his back-piece yestermorn-the Red Bastard's, I would say and as for the gray brother, my good companion and true friend a saint in heaven nowmesnil slew him in the same hour, beside the headless cross." •
- Matthieu de Mont
"Pardieu!" exclaimed the soldier, "but this shall be glad news for Brussels; they have harassed its merchants sorely these past years and now, Seigneur-"
"And now," returned Hugues, "thou must guide me, as straight as thou canst ride, to the chateau of Verneuil; I vow to Heaven and good St. Paul, if we get thither ere they reach the castle, they shall not win it scatheless. Is she so young, this lady Chatelaine, is she so young, Giles Ivernois ?"
"Scarce eighteen years, Beau Sire, I've heard them tell!She was but wed last Shrove-tide. The Sieur de Floris brought her home from some place in Provence or Languedoc. Her name, methinks, was de Navailles; Gabrielle de Navailles !"
"Ha! Tête de Dieu! Gabrielle de Navailles!" exclaimed the knight, a deep red flush crossing his brow, and passing instantly away so as to leave him paler than before. "Ha! is it so ? - So much the more need then of speed to rescue her," he added, muttering to himself in a low voice. "Well, guide me thither straightway, and with all warrantable haste to boot; I would be there by midnight."
"And it is now four after noon, I trow," replied the trooper, gazing toward the sun, the lower limb of which was already sinking into the topmost boughs of the tall forest-trees. "We must ride hard then, Beau Sire; but we'll be there ere midnight, my head on't. I fain would counter blows with Talebard; I knew him long since when he was an honest man and a brave soldier, as now he is a foul thief and accursed murderer. I fain would counter blows with him. He is a stout lance, and a valorous a right good man-at-arms. Yet it should go hard with me but I would match him. There were great los to be won and glory, and no small guerdon either; why, his head now is worth forty pounds of silver well weighed out; and under such a leader as Monseigneur, I fear not we could win it. Well! we will reach Verneuil ere midnight, or I'll die for't."
THE PENNY-POSTMAN — NO. III.
TO ANDREW JACKSON.
(With a fine engraving on steel.)
MY DEAR OLD GENERAL:-God bless your brave and honest old heart, but it is refreshing to sit down for a half-hour's chat with you again, though it be but by letter and across many a hundredmile! There are bonds of sympathy which link our hearts to you, which no distance of space can sunder or weaken wherever we may be scattered over the ever-spreading expanse of this our glorious Union of free republics. Nor, independent as it is of space, will time have any greater power to destroy that sentiment, at least in the breasts of the generation that has known you. And with the records of the noble deeds, in your country's service, of your civil as of your military life, and with the deep and lasting traces left by them upon her history, we will bequeath to posterity the duty of long continuing to cherish the venerated memory of your name - with but little fear that they will soon prove forgetful of the sacred trust.
I rejoice most sincerely, my dear old General, that your life has yet been spared to us to witness another return of the anniversary of your memorable day of New Orleans - for it will be probably just about on that day that this congratulation from one of the humblest but most attached of your old friends, will reach you. Through all the darkness of the year which witnessed the political revolution of the late Presidential election, I trembled lest the infirmities which have been so long gathering upon you, might bid us mourn your loss before that season of gloom should give place again to the brighter hour which I knew full well was soon destined to succeed it. The reports of your failing strength, and more frequent attacks of illness, came threateningly upon us from the Hermitage during that period; and we feared that that earnest and painful excitement of feeling, with which you must have watched its gathering disasters, crowned by their final consummation, might too probably precipitate that event for which at such a time our grief would have been heavy and bitter indeed. What cognizance the departed spirit may retain of the course of events amidst the scenes of its past action and life here, we have no means of conjecture; but at least its parting hours must have been sadly darkened, with disappointment for the past and foreboding for the future, had our alarm been realized; and had your last looks rested on the trophies of the recent political victory,