תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

them to discovery and interception, they the approach of the party had retreatsoon reached Preston Candover Downs.ed to the brake to observe their moThe sun shone with that intense fierce- tions, or pick up what he could of their ness which it sometimes does in the har- conversation as they passed. This vest season, about an hour or so before ill-timed and unexpected halt, he inits declension ; there was not a breath terpreted as a sign that the hand of of air, and the occasional barking of a heaven was linked with his enterprize. shepherd's dog alone broke the silence " I know you are a good sportsman," of the scene, which seemed to have observed Lester to Trevanion's last infused itself into the party, none of observation," but what place is that?" whom had for some time uttered a pointing in a particular direction. word, when they were aroused by Jan “ That is Preston Candover," said Schontz, on whom the heat and the Trevanion, “and if you look down ale began to operate, and who, it not the hill as far as you can to the left; being in his bond,” struck up a Dutch you will see the windows of a large Kicksysaiaw, the monotonous mazes of house reflecting, with more than golden which he lilted with no ordinary vigour. lustre, the rays of the setting sun, that “I hope Smallcraft,” said' Lester, is Popbam Lane.” : “ This is the best " that fellow may not have had more route then," said Lester, “and we will than bas done him good.” They had abide by it." "I see nothing to the now reached the crest of the Downs, contrary," said Trevanion, “ but before from whence the country for miles we resume our journey, I will try how was visible, and below them lay a large Smallcraft's charge of Cognac would sheepfold belonging to a farm-house qualify some of the water of a fine about a mile distant. “We are now spring which I observed about a huuhalf-way," said Trevanion, “and though dred yards off as we approuched this it is a good fault, we have time by the spot.” They accordingly turned from forelock--had we not better halt here the chalk-pit towards the spring. to reconnoitre, and let our horses Rabishaw, taking advantage of their feed ?" “ Certainly," replied Lester, departure, crept like a snake from his " for we command the whole country; hiding-place, and keeping on his we will avail ourselves of the cover of hands and knees along-side a wall, this sheepfold.". So saying, they alight- reached a tall hedge-row which led ed under the side which appeared down to the farm-house, under cover to them least discernible, and leaving of which he joined his men undisthe horses to graze under the care of covered. Having allayed their thirst, Smallcraft and Schontz, the two young the young men took horse, and had men advanced to the brow of the hill, the vexation of perceiving, that Jan where, directly underneath, was one of Schontz, though he was not quite those immense chalk-pits so common drunk, was just upon the point of not to that part of Hampshire, and on the being sober. They proceeded leisurely opposite side of which was a strong, and carefully-a chilly evening suethough small brake of thorns and ceeded to the great heat, and the briars. “I never saw a more likely second harvest moon appeared in all place for a hare," said Trevanion, at its splendour , about two hours quiet the same time jerking a stone into it riding brought them to the wood, as far as he was able to throw, and already mentioned, and here they which alighted, not on the back of again dismounted to deliberate. poor puss, but close by Solas Rabishaw Having adopted precaution against who lay there lurking for his prey, surprise, they took short rest, and precouched like a tyger in a jungle. pared to proceed on their way, Lester When he promised Colonel Miller arranging that Smallcraft, being best that he would deliver them into his mounted, should bear Sir William hands, he spoke not at random, for the Ogle's letter which he had written to farm-house to which the sheepfold be- De Lacy, and if they should unfortulonged, was in the possession of a par- nately light upon any of the enemy's ticular friend of his, and there his men parties, he should be intent on nothing were at that moment concealed; as he but effecting his escape. Previously knew that the sheepfold commanded a to getting into their saddles, they laid view of the roads to Basing, he had their ears to the ground to catch any been there on the look out, and on sound which might awaken suspicion,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

but nothing reached them but the call moment, and then sent him at it with of the partridge or the bleating of the such determination and impetus, that sheepfold. They set their arms in or- the animal was unable to refuse it, but der and mounted. There was nothing springing short, struck the top bar, and but a cart track through the wood, came down on his nose and knees on which they followed at a brisk trot, and the other side ; Smallcraft kept his with spirits rising at every horse's seat, and this accident again saved him, length they gained, had got three parts for his pursuer who was not up to such through, when as they approached a a feat, slipping his sword under his left track which crossed at right angles that arm, let fly a shot at him just as the which they were pursuing, four men horse was rising, which passed right dashed out before them from the right, through his high-crowned hat. This and ere they could pull up their horses last danger escaped, he struck spurs five more sprung out from the left upon into his horse and got clear away.-their rear, and completely intercepted Meantime the skirmish was stoutly carthem. “A fine night this, friend," said ried on behind ; the two men who were Solas Rabishaw to Smalleraft, but ere in front of Rabishaw turned when he he could utter a reply, the clash of fell

, and thus mainly contributed to weapons commenced. The mare on Smallcraft's escape, but Lester and which Jan Schotnz rode was faulty in Trevanion were at liberty to oppose her fore legs, and at the moment Ra- them, for Jan Schontz verified the chabishaw spoke, she nearly came on her racter De Lacy had given of him, head ; Jan rapped out a thundering to the strength of a Hercules he added oath, and Isaac Yalden, the farmer, the activity of a Mercury, and he kept (who had joined Rabishaw) cried out, the rear completely at bay. Several "behold the men !”--they were the shots struck him, but rebounded off last words he ever uttered, for in the his cuirass which he wore under his half drunken conviction that he had cloak, to the terror and dismay of his done wrong, Jan instantly unsheathed opponents, who regarded him as someand clove Yalden's skull to his shoul- thing supernatural. Escape being their ders, anhorsed the next man who op- main object, Lester and Trevanion, afposed him, and then the fray became ter a sharp struggle, succeeded in brushgeneral. " Do your duty, if possible !" ing by their antagonists, calling loudly

cried Lester to Smallcraft, who, throw- on Jan to follow them, which he did sing his sword across his body to the but apparently with reluctance ; he re

left, the point guarding his horse's treated like a Parthian, severely markshoulder, made a dash by Rabishaw ing his opponents as they came up, unto his right into the wood ; for this, til they relinquished the pursuit. however, the latter had been prepared, They pushed on as hard as they were and his petronel was up to the level in able, when in descending a small hill, a moment, but Lester struck down his Jan Schontz's mare, who had been searm with a blow which, had it not been verely wounded, fell headlong down. for a shirt of mail worn under his “ Are you hurt said Trevanion, who clothes, would have disabled him for instantly dismounted. Jan made no ever-the shot went off, however, and reply, but gave his kecksies an assentRabishaw's horse rearing up perpendi- ing lug up. Trevanion's horse being cularly, fell with him into the bushes wounded also, Lester took Jan Schontz on the left. Smallcraft had dashed by behind him, and slowly proceeding, two of the three men who were ahead they got into the high road, and almost of Rabishaw, and slightly wounded the immediately heard the swift approach headmost of the party, in doing which of horse. Giving themselves up for he regained the track, and set forward lost, they forced their horses through a full speed, closely followed by the par- hedge, and endeavoured to conceal liamentarians : a small four-barred gate themselves in the shadow of a large closed in the wood, and being an old oak, but their apprehension was speesportsman, as the moon shone bril- dily converted into joy, as the wellliantly

, he resolved on attempting to known voices of Smallcraft and Courtclear it: he drew his horse up for a nay reached their gladdened ears.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

“ And have they not withal my blessing?
Do I not consecrate their banner?
Am I not Church militant ?"

11 Maid Marian. 16

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Revolving in his mind the dangers Farm-house with the body, and reto which his express might be subject- 'mounting his-horse, whichi, after the ed, and the difficulty of joining him, firing had ceased, rejoined its compashould Sir William Ogle decline his nioris, set out to put Norton on his reinforcement, De Lacy had sent guard in case any attack was meditated. Courtnay forward from Banghurst, He passed directly through the towa with directions to patrol the high-way of Basingstoke, but by the time he had between Basingstoke, and the turn of reached, and just entered the hamlet the road leading down to Basing-house of Old Basing, the conflict had begun. for a certain time, and should he then Mortified and disappointed as De Lacy fall in with the despatch, to retrace his was at Sir William Ogle's non-complisteps until he joined the main body, ance, he was nevertheless prepared for but, at the same time to use the utmost it, and had settled in his own mind caution. In pursuance of these orders, several different plans of attack, -as he had drawn up his small troop at the circumstances might call for them. bottom of a green lane, as soon as he He, therefore, no sooner read Sir heard the firing on his left; when William's letter, than he halted for a Smallcraft dashing down the road, met small space, and sent å hundred borse, this new support of friends, and they each carrying a footman behind, under were returning to the wood, when they Bunckley, to the hamlet of Old Basing, thus happily fell in with their compa- with orders to possess himself of it. nions. They now counter-marched as It was occupied by about three hun Courtnay had been directed, and met dred of the parliament's foot, but they the advance under Bunckley, in about were so completely surprised, that the half an hour.

place was gained in much less time In the meanwhile Rabishaw had re- than under any other circumstances covered from the stupor occasioned by could have been hoped ; and it was his fall, which had effectually stunned just as this attack commenced, which him for the time ; he found his men lasted about twenty minutes, that Rabigathered together in the wood, most shaw reached it. Exasperated at his

of them hurt more or less, canet via manter for not having apprized him of menting over the body of Isaac den, who exhibited a ghastly specimen the despatch passing Aldermaston, inof the Dutchman's prowess. Solas stead of taking that affair into his own sternly regarded the deceased for hands ; but, above all, dreading the rea moment in silence, and then said, lease of the mighty heathen, as he - Thy wife looketh for thee, and termed the Marquis of Winchester, thus shalt thou meet her sight ; and whom, as a man of influence and thy little ones call unto thee, yet thou rank in the country, his republican soul hearest them not--but, verily their execrated, his enthusiasm rose almost cries shall be heard. The race is not to insanity, and he threw himself into to the swift, nor the battle to the the midst of the combatants. Regardstrong.' and I swear unto thy chosen less alike of friend or foe he seemed to soul, now among the departed faithful," bear a charmed life," for protected by that I will avenge thee!" So saying, his secret shirt of mail, he escaped as he ordered the men to return to the by miracle the shower of balls which

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

dlew in all directions, and dyed alike in and brandishing a naked sword, asthe blood of cavalier or roundhead, as cended by “sound of drum ecclesiasthey crossed his headlong course, tic," to address his brethren in arms.reached Norton just as that officer was After a few moments spent in silent uproused to the knowledge that he was prayer, he exclaimed with stentorian surprised. By the timely occupation voice“ He that hath ears to hear let of this post, where was a large mill af him hear," and gave his text from the fording ample means of defence, De 32d chapter of Exodus, 27th verse : Lacy not only conveyed to the garri. *Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, son the soul-heartening intelligence put every man his sword by his side, that they were relieved, but placed and go in and out from gate to gatė Norton between two fires, and effec- throughout the camp, and slay every tually cut off his communication with man his brother, and every man his Basingstoke.

companion, and every man his neigh" How has this escaped your vigi- bour." One would imagine that this lance ?" demanded Norton, as Rabi- portion of the Bible was not sealed to shaw approached his tent.-" It hath the Black and Whitefeet of our day not, it did not,” replied Solas; " but I by their priests, and that the papists of sought to deliver unto thee the secret Ireland in 1833, have their Rousewells workers of iniquity-verily, they were to evil and bloody deeds, as the Puritans sent forward unto Winchester, and I of England had in 1643. On this text, did essay their capture”—“And you the fanatie preacher dilated in terms have failed," said Norton ; " is their well calculated to arouse their enthuforce from thence po “ No," replied siasm, and dispel any compassionate Rabishaw, “ of that thou mayest rest emotions which the idea of joining isassured : each line of communication sue with their own countrymen unight thitherward was under my espial, but give rise to. He showed them to be even now." I know thy zeal, albeit similarly situated as were Gods own it hath erred," replied Norton ; " but chosen people alluded to in the text, even thus I rejoice to behold you, and threatened with everlasting venhave a trust of especial value and con- geance those who might shrink from fidence to deliver unto you, which the combat, while he held out eternal must be imparted to your private ear.” glory to all who might perish in the So saying they retired into Norton's fight. With quibbling reference to tent, and meanwhile the arrival of the their respective names, he compared fugitives from Old Basing, announced Colonel Norton and himself to Joshua the loss of that position.

the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Colonel Joshua Norton's conference Jephunnah, whom the Lord had apwith Solas Rabishaw lasted not five pointed to lead them in triumph over minutes : though surprised he was not their foes. He assured them, while dismayed ; he sent down a piquet to be waved his gleaming falchion over reconnoitre Old Basing, who reported his head, that he would consecrate it strongly occupied, drew his men himself that day to the Lord;" and from the works, and disposed them to concluded with this portion of holy the best advantage-advanced bodies writ-“ Accursed be he that keepeth were planted to give immediate notice back his sword from blood !" A uniof the enemy's slightest movement, and versal deep guttural sound rung through meanwhile, as was usual with the pare the ranks as he concluded, which, howliamentarian troops, they prepared for ever, almost instantly subsided into the worship. A large pollard oak was di- most profound silence, and the warrior vested of its branches, and by the help priest gave out, line by line, the followof a ladder, the Rev. Caleb Rouse- ing battle hymn in which every indiviwell, his right arm bared to the elbow, dual joined:

" Hark to thy people here around,
God of our Father's, Israel's might!
As erst on Edrei's holy ground,
Gigantic Bashan thou didst smite,
Hurl thy avenging bolts among
Our false blaspheming foes profane,

Idolatrous of heart and tongue,
VOL. I.

4 P

[ocr errors][merged small]

Thy glory's taint, thy people's bane :
Let thy pale horse his rider cold
Resistless bear their ranks upon
Thy vengeance grant us to behold,

Avenge thyself, thou Mighty One !" The firing at Old Basing corrobora- gradually accelerating their pace until ting the intelligence conveyed in the within about a hundred yards of the Marchioness's despatch, which had enemy, and then with a rattling cheer reached the garrison of Basing-house, dashed at them full tilt. This onslaught the Marquess of Winchester prepared the attacked party waited not to reto act accordingly. The last sounds of ceive-they went about quickly, and the enemy's voices at the close of the retreated in good order, while their war-hymn had died away, when De rear suffered severely from the elated Lacy moved forward to the attack. cavaliers: this took place down a gerAbout half a mile from the village, the tle slope, at the bottom of which the advance, under Bunckley, drove in the parliamentarians endeavoured to come enemy's picquet, and he there halted to to their original front, but the cavaliers make his final disposition. A long bore them in hand so roughly for a thick hedge separated two fields, one considerable distance, before they could of which they now occupied, and which effect that manœuvre, that it brought led from the lane by which they had them under the fire of Basinghouse. marched out of Old Basing to the park, It was by Norton's order that White the palings of which had every where head and Miller, who commanded the been broken down. To avoid passing horse, had fallen back, but they had tnis was not possible, although they not calculated on being forced to such were apprehensive that it was occupied an unfortunate distance beyond the by skirmishers : De Lacy, therefore, point he had marked out, for at the ordered Bunckley and Webb to divide moment they succeeded in facing their the horse into equal wings, and pass it, opponents, the fire of the garrison was one on each side, in divisions, and then given on their rear with such precision form when they got to the top, the and effect, that it threw them into conground being a gradual ascent. To his fusion, and before they could recover, left, on the top of this hill was a small the Marquess dashed out at the head of copse which he had ascertained was his whole force, and fell upon them. unoccupied, and he determined on gain- Norton now moved to their assistance, ing it under cover of their movement. and at that moment De Lacy advanced The cry of Love and Loyalty!“ St. from the wood. This diverted NorGeorge and the King!" ran through ton's purpose he changed his front their small but gallant ranks as they and attacked him. As the parliament's moved on to these respective positions, troops advanced firing as they closed, and immediately a sharp but ill-directed De Lacy slowly fell back into the fire was opened on the horse, the hedge, wood, and as the opposing party en. as was suspected, being lined with foot. tered they were received with a heavy This they sustained without flinching, and well-directed fire which staggered to the surprise and admiration of their them for the moment; they pressed Leaders, and quickly forming on the forward, however, determinately, and top of the hill, came in sight of the a desperate conflict raged in the wood, Parliament's army:

their horse, con- which was carried and regained sevesisting of seven troops, distinguishable ral times. The rout of the horse was by their respective coronets or stand- by this time complete, and they were ards flying, on a plain about two thou- vigorously pursued by the Marquis sand paces from them, while their foot and Bunckley; but Webb, more cool was posted on a small height beyond, and collected, rallied his small force, and nearer to the house. De Lacy, in and returned to the assistance of De the interim, gained his desired position, Lacy. and instantly sent Trevanion to desire Like a crusader of old, no man Bunckley and Webb to unite and charge fought with a more desperate courage their horse, when he would move for- than the Rev. Caleb Rousewell, mountward or not, as they might succeed or ed on a strong but small horse ; he led fail.

They broke into a gentle trot, the left wing of the foot, and exposed

« הקודםהמשך »