"It was you who shot the arrow?"
Calverley stept from the shadow of the cliff, and beheld a meteor in the sky, brightening and expanding, as the clouds opened, until it assumed the appearance of a brilliant star, of astonishing magnitude, encircled by dazzling rays, which, in a singular manner, were all inclined in one direction, and pointing to that part of the horizon where lay the rival of England鈥擣rance.
"It is only a stranger," said Margaret, answering to Lucy's glance, "whom Stephen has promised to shelter.鈥擸ou need not fear."
The monk mingled with the multitude, and saw the merry citizens escort their sovereign to Temple-bar; and then the royal train proceeded, with somewhat less applause than had as yet attended their route. Indeed, after passing the few houses in the suburbs, the solitary dwellings of the nobles stood along the Strand, few and far between鈥攖hose on the left with their spacious gardens sloping to the river, and the three or four on the right occupying a space as extended as the wall which enclosed the capacious garden attached to the convent of the abbot of Westminster would permit. So large, indeed, was this garden, as to cover the whole space between the gardens of the Strand houses and the site of what is now Long-acre, and eastward and westward the space between Saint Martin's and Drury-lane. When they had passed the pretty village of Charing, with its cross, the procession turned to the left, leaving behind an ample extent of open country, intersected by the Oxford and Reading roads on the west, and bounded on the north by the bold and picturesque range of the Hampstead and Highgate hills.
Calverley was a good horseman, and it was but a short space ere he was within a few yards of the messenger, and shouting to him to halt. The man stopped, and, turning in his saddle, surveyed with some surprise (which could be seen even in the duskiness of twilight) the bright colours that distinguished the garb of a pursuivant.
It might be, perhaps, that this similarity in their condition had attracted them towards each other; or it might be that, as Margaret had been motherless since her birth, and Edith had nursed and reared her till she grew to womanhood, from the feelings natural to long association, love had grown and strengthened in Stephen's heart. Indeed, there were not many of her class who could have compared with this young woman. Her figure was about the middle height of her sex, and so beautifully proportioned, that even the close kerchief and russet gown could not entirely conceal the symmetrical formation of the broad white shoulders, the swelling bust, and the slender waist. Plain braids of hair of the darkest shade, and arched brows of the same hue, gave an added whiteness to a forehead smooth and high; and her full intelligent eyes, with a fringe as dark as her hair, were of a clear deep blue. The feminine occupation of a sempstress had preserved the delicacy of her complexion, and had left a soft flickering blush playing on her cheek. Such was Margaret the beloved鈥攖he betrothed鈥攚hom Holgrave was now hastening to invite, with all the simple eloquence of honest love, to become the bride of his bosom鈥攖he mistress of his home.
"But what gale drove our worthy foreman here?""O yes," replied Margaret. "I am perfectly well, but鈥擨 have been a little frightened."
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"Does he indeed hold such opinions, my Lord of Canterbury?" asked Lancaster.The smith was here interrupted by a messenger from Richard, with a proclamation for the Commons to meet him the next morning in Smithfield, when they should have every thing they required."Men of Kent!" shouted Tyler, indignant at this pacific proposal, "what, do you suppose King Richard and his council, who are cooped up yonder, will think of us while we stand talking and gaping here? Think ye they will take off the poll-tax, or free the bondman? or open the prison door of our holy prophet, while they see us waiting like so many beggars, for them to read what is written on the sheepskins? I hold, that leaving half our brave fellows here, to let them know that if we do not mount their walls, we have an eye upon them, the rest should go on and see what is to be done in other parts of London. Who knows but we might get hold of that mortal fiend, John of Gaunt; if we once had him, by St. Nicholas! we might ask for what we liked. Stephen Holgrave, do you keep watch here, and let no one come or go: should there be any thing to be said, you know what to say鈥攖hat is enough." And then, marshalling off a strong and picked body from among his followers, the smith hurried forward, accompanied by the galleyman and Kirkby, through the city, injuring neither person nor property, but only exacting from every one they encountered in their progress, a shout and a God-speed for the true commons.
"I brought a winding-sheet," replied the stranger; "and when the grave is dug, and the coast clear, I'll wrap it round poor Edith, and lay her in my cloak鈥攁nd ye will hold the corners."There was much murmuring and discontent at the tenor of this epistle; and but little disposition manifested to obey the mandate: but the example of their principal leader, Jack Straw, who instantly, as in obedience to the prophet's command, divested himself of his sword, and presented it to Sir Aubrey de Vere, intimating his submission to the king, occasioned a sort of general panic, or rather, a distrust of their own powers. This, added to the specious and equivocal promises of Richard, who now approached; and the persuasive eloquence of Oakley, operated so far on the credulous multitude, that the king, amidst a universal shout of "Long live the king of the Commons," turned his horse's head towards London, rejoicing in his heart that so far the rebels were dispersed."With King Richard and the true Commons," was the reply; and the door was instantly unclosed, and John Leicester, a tall, pale complexioned man, with an aquiline visage and sharp black eyes, accompanied by Ralph Rugge, John Kirkby, and Allan Theoder, entered the apartment.详情
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