’Meantime, my child, take this purse and equip thyself at York or whenever thou canst. Nay, thou needst not shrug and refuse! How like thy father the gesture, though I would it were more gracious and seemly. But this is mine, mine own, none of my husband’s, though he would be willing. It comes from the De Vesci lands, and those will be thine after me, and thine if thou winnest not back thy Clifford inheritance. And oh! my son, crave of Sir Giles to teach thee how to demean thyself that they may not say thou art but a churl.’
‘I trust to be no churl in heart, if I be in manners,’ said Hal, looking down on his small clinging mother.
’Only be cautious, my son. Remember that you are the last of the name, and it is your part to bring it to honour.’
‘Which I shall scarce do by being cautious,’ he said, with something of a smile. ‘That was not my father’s way.’
‘Ah me! You have his spirit in you, and how did it end?’
‘My Lord of Clifford,’ said a voice from the court, ’you are waited for!’
‘And remember,’ cried his mother, with a last embrace, ’there will be safety here whenever thou shalt need it.’
‘With God’s grace, I am more like to protect you and your husband,’ said the lad, bending for another kiss and hurrying away.
And sickerlie she was of great disport,
And full pleasant and amiable of port;
Of small hounds had she that she fed
With roasted flesh and milk and wastel bread.—Chaucer.
Sir Giles Musgrave of Peelholm was an old campaigner, and when Hal came out beyond the gate of the Threlkeld fortalice, he found him reviewing his troop; a very disorderly collection, as Sir Lancelot pronounced with a sneer, looking out on them, and strongly advising his step-son not to cast in his lot with them, but to wait and see what would befall, and whether the Nevils were in earnest in their desertion of the House of York.
Hal restrained himself with difficulty enough to take a courteous leave of his mother’s husband, to whose prudence and forbearance he was really much beholden; though, with his spirit newly raised and burning for his King, it was hard to have patience with neutrality.
He found Sir Giles employed in examining his followers, and rigidly sending home all not properly equipped with bow, sheaf of arrows, strong knife or pike, buff coat, head-piece and stout shoes; also a wallet of provisions for three days, or a certain amount of coin. He would have no marauding on the way, and refused to take any mere lawless camp follower, thus disposing of a good many disreputable-looking fellows who had flocked in his wake. Sir Lancelot’s steward seconded him heartily by hunting back his master’s retainers; and there remained only about five-and-twenty—mostly, in fact, yeomen or their sons—men who had