‘You may tell your master to come and fetch it,’ he growled.
Well, my master did fetch it, and with speed. That same night he assembled five thousand men without beat of drum in the park at Farnham, and at seven o’clock we marched off towards Basing. On the way to Crondall, we of the horse halted for an hour to let the foot regiments catch up with us, and all together headed down upon Alton. In this way, at nine in the morning, we came down upon the west of the town, while the earl kept watch on the roads to the eastwards; and charged at once.
I say that the earl kept watch; but in truth he had put this duty upon his captains, while he still fuddled himself with our general’s sack. He and his horse never gave fight, but galloped before us on the road to Winchester; along which, after close on an hour’s chase, our trumpets recalled us as our infantry forced the doors of Alton Church, and cut up Colonel Bolle’s regiment that still resisted there. The Earl of Crawford left a good half of his wine behind, and two days later our general, who had sent for me, showed me this letter—
’To Sir W. Waller.
’Sir,—I hope your gaining of Alton cost you dear. It was your lot to drink of your own sack, which I never intended to have left for you. I pray you favour me so much as to send me your own chirurgeon, and upon my honour I will send you a person suitable to his exchange.—Sir, your servant,
From this happy success it was my fortune, that same afternoon, to lead our troop back to Farnham. Coming on the way to the entrance of a lane on our right, I avoided the high-road for the by-path. It twisted downhill to the river, crossed it, and by-and-by in a dip of the farther slope, brought me in sight of a round cottage of two stories. No smoke arose from it, though the twilight was drawing in upon a frost that searched our bones as we rode. No inhabitant showed a face. But I waved a hand in passing, and I am mistaken if a hand did not respond from the upper story—by drawing a shutter close.
[August, 1644. The Story is told by Ralph Medhope, Captain of the Twenty-second (or Gray-coat) Troop of Horse in the Parliament Army, then serving in Cornwall.]
We were eight men in the picket. My cornet, Ned Penkevill, rode beside me; our trumpeter, Israel Hutson, a pace or two behind; with five troopers following. I could tell you their names, but there is no need, for I alone of the eight come into the story. The rest rode to their death that night, and met it in the dawn, like men.