“Hither, Samson d’Anville,” said he; “here is brave work for thee, that I was near taking for mine own. Thou shalt be admiral and captain of an expedition that I send with all speed to sweep out with all force the pirates that infest our Norman seas. In great pride they are gathered in Guernsey to defy my power. Take men, take ships, all that thou wilt need, and delay not thy journey, for certain monks and islanders are hard set with famine. See me again to-morrow. Vicomte, good youth, farewell.”
So Duke William returned to his archers.
* * * * *
We had but just left the duke’s presence, and were even considering whether I should return with mine uncle to St. Sauveur or tarry there at Valognes, if I could find a lodging, when none other than Samson d’Anville, that had been placed in command of the expedition, came after us, and would have me to be his guest until, all preparations having been made in a week’s time, we should sail from Barfleur.
“Come now, little soldier,” said he, “and we on this expedition will be true brothers-in-arms.”
With that he wound his arm into mine, and I noted that, though he called me “little soldier,” I was almost a head taller than he.
So at his bidding, for he would take no denial, I took a hearty and reverent leave of the vicomte, who assured me that when this matter were over he would welcome me in his retinue for the French war, and linked arm-in-arm with Samson, returned to the camp.
Now I had time to see more closely what manner of man this d’Anville was. I have said he was short and stout, but I should have said that in so small a frame one seldom saw such activity and strength. Like some pollard oak, he seemed all knotted with muscle and vigour. He went bearded and wore his hair unshaven, and thus amid those Norman lords, shorn back and front, he looked wild and unkempt.
But the merry easy smile that lived in his black eyes was enough to show me that, though a great warrior, and terrible in battle, he would be a sweet comrade in time of peace. This was that Samson d’Anville that so swiftly broke down the arrogance of Geoffroy, and for this and other noble deeds was given that estate hard by the Vale, which his sons hold yet.
And so it came to pass that within a week of my arriving, by great good luck and marvellous dispatch in preparation, the order was given that we should sail for Guernsey.
Of the journey of our ships to relieve the Brethren of the Vale, and how we fought a great battle with the Moors outside the Bay of L’Ancresse.
As I remember, children, our armament made an exceeding fair show as we sailed with a fair wind out of Barfleur Harbour, and great joy I had that such good fortune had attended my embassage to our great governor.