‘Never fear, goodwife,’ said Giles Musgrave; ’he shall be looked to as mine own son.’
’And what’s that to a gentle lad that has always been tended as becomes him?’
’Heed not, mother! Be comforted! I must have gone to the wars, anyway. If so be I thrive, I’ll send for thee to mine own castle, to reign there as I remember of old. Here now! Comfort Piers as thou only canst do.’
Piers, poor fellow, wept bitterly, only able to understand that something had befallen his comrade of seven years, which would take him away from field and moor. He clung to Hal, and both lads shed tears, till Hob roughly snatched Piers away and threw him to his aunt, with threats that drew indignant, though useless, interference from Hal, though Simon Bunce was muttering, ’As lief take one lad as the other!’ while Dolly’s angry defence of her nursling’s wisdom broke the sadness of the parting.
CHAPTER XII. A PRUDENT RECEPTION
So doth my heart misgive me in these conflicts,
What may befall him to his harm and ours.—Shakespeare.
Through the woods the party went to the fortified house of Threlkeld, where the gateway was evidently prepared to resist any passing attack, by stout gates and a little watch-tower.
Sir Giles blew a long blast on his bugle-horn, and had to repeat it twice before a porter looked cautiously out at a wicket opening in the heavy door, and demanded ‘Who comes?’
’Open, porter, open in the name of King Harry, to the Lords of Clifford and of Peelholm.’
The porter fell back, observing, ’Sir, pardon, while I have speech with my master, Sir Lancelot Threlkeld.’
Some delay and some sounds of conversation were heard, then, on a renewed and impatient blast on Sir Giles’s horn, Sir Lancelot Threlkeld himself came to the wicket, and his thin anxious voice might be heard demanding, ‘What madness is this?’
‘The madness is past, soundness is come,’ responded Sir Giles. ’King Harry is on his throne, the traitors are fled, and your own fair son comes forth in his proper person to uphold the lawful sovereign; but he would fain first see his lady mother, and take her blessing with him.’
’And by his impatience destroy himself, after all the burthen of care and peril he hath been to me all these years,’ lamented Sir Lancelot. ’But come in, fair lad. Open the gates, porter. I give you welcome, Lord Musgrave of Peelholm. But who are these?’ he added, looking at the troop of buff-coated archers in the rear.
’They are bold champions of the Red Rose, returned Sir Giles, ’who have lived with me in the wolds, and now are on the way to maintain our King’s quarrel.’’