Eustace raised the cross hilt of his sword, and with a broken voice, commenced the Miserere. Sir Reginald at first followed it with his lips, but soon they ceased to move, his head sank back, his hand fell powerless, and with one long gasping breath his faithful and noble spirit departed. For several moments Eustace silently continued to hold the lifeless form in his arms, then raising the face, he imprinted an earnest kiss on the pale lips, laid the head reverently on the ground, hung over it for a short space, and at last, with an effort, passed his hand over his face, and turned away.
His first look was towards d’Aubricour, who sat resting his head on his hand, his elbow supported on his knee, while with the other hand he dashed away his tears. His countenance was deathly pale, and drops of blood were fast falling from the deep gash in his side. “O Gaston!” exclaimed Eustace, with a feeling of self-reproach at having forgotten him, “I fear you are badly wounded!”
“You would think little of it, had you seen more stricken fields, young Knight,” said Gaston, attempting to smile; “I am only spent with loss of blood. Bring me a draught of water, and I can ride back to the tent. But look to your prisoner, Sir Eustace.”
Eustace turned to see what had become of his illustrious captive, and saw him at a little distance, speaking to a Knight on horseback. “Sir Eustace,” said Bertrand, stepping towards him, “here is Sir William Beauchamp, sent by the Prince to inquire for your gallant brother, and to summon me to his tent. I leave you the more willingly that I think you have no mind for guests this evening. Farewell. I hope to be better acquainted.”
Eustace had little heart to answer, but he took up Du Guesclin’s sword, as if to return it to him. “Keep it, Sir Knight,” said Bertrand, “you know how to wield it. I am in some sort your godfather in chivalry, and I owe you a gift. Let me have yours, that my side may not be without its wonted companion. Farewell.”
“And, Sir Eustace Lynwood,” said Sir William Beauchamp, riding up, “you will advance to Navaretta, where we take up our quarters in the French camp. I grieve for the loss which has befallen us this day; but I trust our chivalry has gained an equally worthy member.”
Eustace bowed and, whilst Messire Bertrand mounted a horse that had been brought for his use, turned back to his own melancholy duties. The body of Sir Reginald was raised from the ground, and placed on the levelled lances of four of his men, and Eustace then assisted Gaston to rise. He tottered, leant heavily against the young Knight, and was obliged to submit to be lifted to the saddle; but neither pain, grief, nor faintness could check his flow of talk.
“Well, Eustace,—Sir Eustace, I would say,—you have seen somewhat of the chances of war.”
“The mischances you mean, Gaston.”
“I tell you, many a man in this host would have given his whole kindred for such luck as has befallen you. To cross swords with Du Guesclin is honour enough. This cut will be a matter of boasting to my dying day; but, to take him prisoner—”