“I would say—so please you, my Lord—that I pray you but to let me ride back to Chateau Norbelle with this honourable Knight, for I owe all service to Sir Eustace, nor could I rest till I know how it fares with him.”
“As you will, good fellow,” said the Prince; “and you, Chandos, come with me to my chamber—I would speak with you before you depart.”
“My Lord,” said Arthur, “would you but grant me one boon—to go with Sir John to Chateau Norbelle?”
“You too? You would almost make me think you all drawn by witchcraft to this Castle!” But Arthur’s eagerness extorted a consent, and he rode off amid Sir John Chandos’s troop, boldly enough at first, but by and by so sleepily, that, as night advanced, Sir John ordered him to be placed in front of a trooper, and he soon lost all perception of the rough rapid pace at which they travelled. It was broad day when he was awakened by a halt, and the first thing he heard was, “There is St. George’s pennon still safe!”
He sat upright, gazed eagerly forwards, and beheld a tall dark tower rising by the bank of a stream at some distance. “Chateau Norbelle?” he asked.
“Oh, ho! my little page,” said Chandos. “You are alive again, are you? Ay, Chateau Norbelle it is—and we are in time it seems! But let us have you on your own steed again. And let us see—if Oliver be there himself, we shall have sharp work. Ay, keep you by the side of the old master leech there—he will be sure to keep out of peril. Now—close in—lances in rest—bows bent. Forward banner!”
Arthur, by no means approving of the companionship assigned him, contrived to wedge in his pony a little in the rear of Sir John’s two Squires, as the whole squadron rode down the slope of the hill, and up the ascent on which the Castle stood. Loud cries and shrieks from within began to strike their ears—the clash of arms—all the tumult of attack and defence raging fearfully high and wild.
“Ho, ho! friend Oliver!—we have you in a trap!” said old Chandos, in high glee, as he drew up close without the walls. “Neville, guard the gates!”
He signed to about half his band to remain without, and cut off the retreat of the enemy. The Jew doctor chose his post in their rear, close to the Castle moat—but not so Arthur. Unnoticed and forgotten, he still kept close behind the Squire, who rode alongside of Sir John Chandos, as he crossed the drawbridge. The Castle gate was open, and showed a wild confused mass of struggling men and flashing arms. It was the last, most furious onset, when Clisson, enraged by the long resistance of so weak a garrison, was concentrating his strength in one effort, and, in the excitement of the assault, he had failed to remark that his sentinels had transgressed his orders, and mingled with the crowd, who were striving, by force of numbers, to overwhelm the small troop of defenders of the bartizan.