“Then do you think the cause is lost?”
“I say not that. Pembroke has a strong force in Wales, and if the West rises, and Queen Margaret on landing can join him, we may yet prevail; but I fear that the news of the field of Barnet will deter many from joining us. Men may risk lands and lives for a cause which seems to offer a fair prospect of success, but they can hardly be blamed for holding back when they see that the chances are all against them. Moreover, as a Frenchwoman, it cannot be denied that Margaret has never been popular in England, and her arrival here, aided by French gold and surrounded by Frenchmen, will tell against her with the country people. I went as far as I could on the day before I left Amboise, urging her on no account to come hither until matters were settled. It would have been infinitely better had the young prince come alone, and landed in the West without a single follower. The people would have admired his trust in them, and would, I am sure, have gathered strongly round his banner. However, we must still hope for the best. Fortune was against us today: it may be with us next time we give battle. And with parties so equally divided throughout the country a signal victory would bring such vast numbers to our banners that Edward would again find it necessary to cross the seas.”
CHAPTER II THE BATTLE OF TEWKESBURY
Riding fast, Sir Thomas Tresham crossed the Thames at Reading before any news of the battle of Barnet had arrived there. On the third day after leaving St. Albans he reached Westbury, and there heard that the news had been received of the queen’s landing at Plymouth on the very day on which her friends had been defeated at Barnet, and that she had already been joined by the Duke of Somerset, the Earl of Devon, and others, and that Exeter had been named as the point of rendezvous for her friends. As the Lancastrians were in the majority in Wiltshire and Somerset, there was no longer any fear of arrest by partisans of York, and after resting for a day Sir Thomas Tresham rode quietly on to Exeter, where the queen had already arrived.
The battle of Barnet had not, in reality, greatly weakened the Lancastrian cause. The Earl of Warwick was so detested by the adherents of the Red Rose that comparatively few of them had joined him, and the fight was rather between the two sections of Yorkists than between York and Lancaster. The Earl’s death had broken up his party, and York and Lancaster were now face to face with each other, without his disturbing influence on either side. Among those who had joined the queen was Tresham’s great friend, the Grand Prior of St. John’s. Sir Thomas took up his lodgings in the house where he had established himself. The queen was greatly pleased at the arrival of Dame Tresham, and at her earnest request the latter shared her apartments, while Gervaise remained with his father.