“Nay, that was no merit of mine. Had not the rest come up, my wars had soon been over, and I had been spared this grief.”
“I know what most youths would have done in your place, and been esteemed never the worse. Dropped the pennon at that first round blow that brought you to your knee, and called for quarter. Poor pennon, I deemed it gone, and would have come to your aid, but before I could recover my feet, the fight was over, and I am glad the glory is wholly yours. Knighted under a banner in a stricken field! It is a chance which befalls not one man in five hundred, and you in your first battle! But he heeds me not. He thinks only of his brother! Look up, Sir Eustace, ’tis but the chance of war. Better die under sword and shield, than like a bed-ridden old woman; better die honoured and lamented, than worn out and forgotten. Still he has not a word! Yea, and I could weep too for company, for never lived better Knight, nor one whom Squire had better cause to love!”
A battle in the days of chivalry was far less destructive than those of modern times. The loss in both armies at Navaretta did not amount to six hundred; and on Pedro’s side but four Knights had fallen, of whom Sir Reginald Lynwood was the only Englishman.
On the following day all the four were buried in solemn state, at the church of the village of Navaretta, Sir Eustace following his brother’s bier, at the head of all the men-at-arms.
On returning to his tent, Eustace found Gaston sitting on his couch, directing Guy, and old Poitevin, who had the blue crossletted pennon spread on the ground before him. Eustace expressed his wonder. “What,” exclaimed Gaston, “would I see my Knight Banneret, the youngest Knight in the army, with paltry pennon! A banneret are you, dubbed in the open field, entitled to take precedence of all Knight Bachelors. Here, Leonard, bring that pennon to me, that I may see if it can be cut square.”
“Poor Eleanor’s pennon!” said Eustace, sadly.
“Nay, what greater honour can it have than in becoming a banner? I only grieve that this bloodstain, the noblest mark a banner can bear, is upon the swallow-tail. But what do I see? You, a belted Knight, in your plain Esquire’s helmet, and the blood-stained surcoat! Ay, and not even the gilded spurs!” he exclaimed indignantly. “Would that I had seen you depart! But it was Leonard’s fault. Why, man, knew you not your duty?”
“I am no Squire of Eustace Lynwood,” said Ashton.
“Every Squire is bound to serve the Knight in whose company he finds himself,” said d’Aubricour. “Know you not thus much of the laws of chivalry? Come, bestir yourself, that he may be better provided in future. You must present yourself to the Prince to-morrow, Sir Eustace.”
“One of his Squires bade me to his presence,” said the young Knight, “but I must now write these heavy tidings to my poor sister, and I am going to Father Waleran’s tent to seek parchment and ink.”