Raymond’s advice was followed. Gaston had had enough of quiet and repose, and only the desire to see again the face of the woodland sprite could have detained him. Not knowing where to seek her, he was willing enough to set his face for Bordeaux; and soon the brothers had landed once again upon the shores of England.
CHAPTER XVII. THE BLACK DEATH
The glorious termination of Edward’s campaign, and the rich spoil brought home from the wars by the soldiers, had served to put the nation into a marvellous good temper. Their enthusiasm for their King amounted almost to adoration, and nothing was thought of but tourneys, jousts, and all sorts of feasting and revelry. Indeed, things came to such a pass that at last an order was given that tournaments might be held only at the royal pleasure, else the people were disposed to think of nothing else, and to neglect the ordinary avocations of life. As the King appointed nineteen in six months, to be held in various places throughout the kingdom, it cannot be said that he defrauded his subjects of their sports; and he himself set the example of the extravagant and fanciful dressing which called forth so much adverse criticism from the more sober minded, appearing at the jousts in all manner of wonderful apparel, one of his dresses being described as “a harness of white buckram inlaid with silver — namely, a tunic, and a shield with the motto:
’Hay, hay, the wythe swan!
By Goddes soul I am thy man;’
whilst he gave away on that occasion five hoods of long white cloth worked with blue men dancing, and two white velvet harnesses worked with blue garters and diapered throughout with wild men.”
Women disgraced themselves by going about in men’s attire and behaving themselves in many unseemly fashions. The ecclesiastics, too, often fell into the prevailing vices of extravagance and pleasure seeking that at this juncture characterized the whole nation, and, as Father Paul had said to Raymond, disgraced their calling by so doing far more than others who had never professed a higher code. Amongst the graver and more austere men of the day heads were gravely shaken over the wild burst of enthusiasm and extravagance, and there were not wanting those who declared that the nation was calling down upon itself some terrible judgment of God — such a judgment as so often follows upon a season of unwonted and sudden prosperity.
As for the twin brothers, they spent these months in diverse fashion, each carrying out his own tastes and preferences. Gaston attached himself to Sir James Audley once again, and travelled with him into Scotland, where the knight frequently went upon the King’s business. When in or about the Court, he threw himself into the jousting and sports with the greatest enthusiasm and delight, quickly excelling so well in each and every contest that he made a name and reputation for himself even amongst the chosen