So we started up the cliff side by a little path that wound upward amid the gorse. And still all the time as we toiled with foot and hand at climbing, upon the summit sat the Sarrasin, as though with a proud air deriding our attack.
“Whom seek you, good gentlemen?” he cried to us as we climbed below.
“A vile knave and caitiff!” Hugo cried back.
“He hath not passed this way,” shouted the Sarrasin, “so lose not your labour, good sirs, at this boys’ play of climbing.”
“It is not boys’ play down yonder!” returned Hugo. “Oh, villain, cursed villain, we will mete you the same measure!”
“Then you must rival my Pearl of Seville!” he cried, just galloping lightly away as we landed on the summit.
So he had got away to some secret place, of which there were so many on the coast, had he not met full-tilt a strong band of the Normans that were even now on the road, being sent down by Samson to see that we were not worsted.
These he met tramping to Moulin Huet Bay, and, wheeling hastily at the sight of them, found us behind him. Like a spent hare that runs into a hole, he spurred to the house at Blanchelande that lay at the head of All Saints’ Bay, and we that followed at a run heard his beast clatter over the drawbridge of the moat. We rolled a great stone on to the bridge that none could draw it up, and, with the Normans following behind, pursued him into his cover. The good steed stood riderless before the gate. With all our weight we burst the door, and ran in a great body into the hall wherein I had visited my Lord of Rouen.
No man was to be seen therein, and for a while we stood at fault, Normans and islanders alike, and then went through the house, battering with lusty strokes, that echoed again, every part of wall or wainscot that might afford concealment.
Had all our struggle been for naught, and would the arch-villain escape us thus? We came back to the great hall, and stood therein while our followers ran riot in the house. I took up, as we stood by my lord’s table, that very curious box or optic-glass, wherein he showed me far things brought close, and curiously raised it to my eyes, and gazed down upon the bay. It was brought wondrous clear, and the waves seemed dancing before mine eyes. Suddenly I saw what made me drop the glass, and hastily drag Hugo with me out of the house. The glass showed me the Sarrasin stealing along the shadows of the glen downwards to where a little boat lay moored by the rocks.
We tracked him like a quarry; and ere long he knew we were behind him, and hasted, sore hindered with his great bulky body, to the shore. There we overtook him, and at once he faced us, and made with his sword a great lunge at Hugo that well-nigh took his life. But even so, Hugo was quick with his parry, and kept him at fence.
“This is no fair fight ’twixt man and man, false monk!” cried the Sarrasin, as I had a stroke at his undefended side, so hot was I for his blood.