At Agincourt by G. A. Henty
Chapter X. After the Fray
On going into Dame Margaret's apartments Guy found that she had again retired to rest, and at once threw himself on his bed without disrobing himself further than taking off his armour, for he felt that it was possible the assailants might return after finding that the Burgundian knights and men-at-arms had ridden away. He had told the men-at-arms to keep watch by turns at the top of the stairs, where the barricade still remained, and to run in to wake him should they hear any disturbance whatever at the door below. He slept but lightly, and several times went out to see that the watch was being well kept, and to look up and down the street to assure himself that all was quiet.
"You did nobly last night, Guy," Dame Margaret said as she met him in the morning; "Sir Eustace himself could have done no better had he been here. When I next write to my lord I shall tell him how well you have protected us, and pray him to send word of it to your father."
"I did my best, lady; but it is to Long Tom that it is chiefly due that our defence was made good. It was his shooting that caused the long delay in breaking open the door, and that enabled us to hold the barricade below, and he also stoutly aided in the defence of the landing."
"Nevertheless, Guy, it was under your direction that all things were done. It is to the leader who directs that the first praise is due rather than to the strongest and bravest of his men-at-arms. It was, too, owing to your interference on behalf of Count Charles d'Estournel that we owe it that succour came to us; it was his friendship for you that prompted him to gather his friends to come to our aid; and it was the warning, short though it was, sent us by that strange Italian that enabled you to send to the count for aid. I must see his daughter and thank her personally for the part she played in the matter. No, Guy, had it not been for you this house would now have been an empty shell, and all of us would have been lying under its ruins. I have been thinking during the night that you must be most careful when you go abroad; you know that the son of that monster Caboche, the leader of the skinners, and doubtless many leaders of the butchers, among them Legoix, were killed, and their friends are certain to endeavour to take vengeance on you. They saw you at the window, they will know that you are my esquire, and will doubtless put down their defeat entirely to you. You cannot be too careful, and, above all, you must not venture out at night save on grave occasion. Agnes," she broke off as the girl entered the room, "you too must thank our brave esquire for having so stoutly defended us."
"I do thank you most heartily, Guy," the girl said, "though I felt it very hard that I could do nothing to help you. It was terrible sitting here and hearing the fight so close to us, and the dreadful shouts and screams of those people, and to have nothing to do but to wait. Not that I was frightened, I felt quite confident that you would beat them, but it was so hard to sit quiet. I should not have minded so much if I could have been standing there to see the brave deeds that were being done."
"Like the queen of a tournament, Agnes," her mother said with a smile. "Yes, indeed, it is one of the hardships of us women. It is only when a castle is besieged and her lord is away that a woman may buckle on armour and set an example to her retainers by showing herself on the wall and risking the enemies' bolts, or even, if necessary, taking her place with her retainers on the breach; at other times she must be passive and wait while men fight."
"If I had only had my bow," Agnes said regretfully, "I could really have done something. You would have let me go out then, mother, would you not?"
"I don't know, dear; no, I don't think I should. It was anxious work enough for me as it was. If you had gone out I must have done so, and then Charlie would have wanted to go too. No; it was much better that we all sat together as we did, waiting quietly for what might come, and praying for those who were fighting for us."
"I was glad that Madame Leroux stayed upstairs with her maid instead of coming down here as you asked her, mother; she looked so scared and white that I do think it would have been worse than listening to the fighting to have had to sit and look at her."
Dame Margaret smiled. "Yes, Agnes, but I think that she was more frightened for her husband than for herself, and I don't suppose that she had ever been in danger before. Indeed, I must say that to look out at that crowd of horrible creatures below, brandishing their weapons, shouting and yelling, was enough to terrify any quiet and peaceable woman. As a knight's wife and daughter it was our duty to be calm and composed and to set an example, but a citizen's wife would not feel the same obligation, and might show her alarm without feeling that she disgraced herself or her husband."
On going out Guy found their host already engaged in a conference with a master carpenter as to the construction of the new doors. They were to be very strong and heavy, made of the best oak, and protected by thick sheets of iron; the hinges were to be of great strength to bear the weight. A smith had also arrived to receive instructions for making and setting very strong iron bars before the shop, the front of which would require to be altered to allow of massive shutters being erected on the inside. Iron gates were also to be fixed before the door.
"That will make something like a fortress of it, Master Aylmer," the silversmith said, "and it will then need heavy battering-rams to break into it. Several others of my craft similarly protect their shops; and certainly no one can blame me, after the attack of last night, for taking every means to defend myself. I intend to enlist a party of ten fighting men to act as a garrison until these troubles are all over."
"I think that you will act wisely in doing so," Guy said. "Your servants all bore themselves bravely last night, but they had no defensive armour and were unaccustomed to the use of weapons. Only I would advise you to be very careful as to the men that you engage, or you may find your guard within as dangerous as the mob without."
"I will take every pains as to that, you may be sure, and will engage none save after a careful inquiry into their characters."
The streets had already been cleared of the slain. All through the night little parties had searched for and carried off their dead, and when at early morning the authorities sent a party down to clear the street there remained but some twenty-five bodies, evidently by their attire belonging to the lowest class, and presumably without friends. That day petitions and complaints were sent to the king by the provosts of the merchants, the gold and silver smiths, the cloth merchants, the carpenters and others, complaining of the tumults caused by the butchers and their allies, and especially of the attack without cause or reason upon the house of Maitre Leroux, the worshipful provost of the silversmiths. Several skirmishes occurred in the evening between the two parties, but an order was issued in the name of the king to the Maire and syndics of Paris rebuking them for allowing such disturbances and tumults, and ordering them to keep a portion of the burgher guard always under arms, and to repress such disturbances, and severely punish those taking part in them.
Maitre Leroux and his wife paid a formal visit to Dame Margaret early in the day to thank her for the assistance that her retainers had given in defending the house.
"You were good enough to say, madame," the silversmith said, "that you regretted the trouble that your stay here gave us. We assured you then, and truly, that the trouble was as nothing, and that we felt your presence as an honour; now you see it has turned out more. Little did we think when you came here but a few days since that your coming would be the means of preserving our lives and property, yet so it has been, for assuredly if it had not been for your esquire and brave retainers we should have been murdered last night. As it is we have not only saved our lives but our property, and save for the renewal of the doors we shall not have been the losers even in the value of a crown piece. Thus, from being our guests you have become our benefactors; and one good result of what has passed is, that henceforth you will feel that, however long your stay here, and however much we may try to do for you, it will be but a trifle towards the discharge of the heavy obligation under which we feel to you."
After a meeting of the city council that afternoon, a guard of ten men was sent to the silversmith's to relieve the Burgundian men-at-arms. Five of these were to be on duty night and day until the house was made secure by the new doors and iron grill erected in front of the shop. Guy proposed to Dame Margaret that he should give up his visit to the salle d'armes, but this she would not hear of.
"I myself and the children will go no more abroad until matters become more settled, but it is on all accounts well that you should go to the school of arms. Already the friends that you have made have been the means of saving our lives, and it is well to keep them. We know not what is before us, but assuredly we need friends. Maitre Leroux was telling me this morning that the Armagnacs are fast approaching, and that in a few days they will be within a short distance of Paris. Their approach will assuredly embitter the hostility between the factions here, and should they threaten the town there may be fierce fighting within the walls as well as without. At present, at any rate, there are likely to be no more disturbances such as that of last night, and therefore no occasion for you to remain indoors. Even these butchers, arrogant as they are, will not venture to excite the indignation that would be caused by another attack on this house. That, however, will make it all the more likely that they will seek revenge in other ways, and that the house will be watched at night and any that go out followed and murdered.
"You and Tom the archer are no doubt safe enough from the attack of ordinary street ruffians, but no two men, however strong and valiant, can hope to defend themselves successfully against a score of cut-throats. But I pray you on your way to the school go round and thank, in my name, this Italian and his daughter, and say that I desire much to thank the young lady personally for the immense service she has rendered me and my children. Take the archer with you, for even in the daytime there are street brawls in which a single man who had rendered himself obnoxious could readily be despatched."
"In faith, Master Guy," Long Tom said as they sallied out, "it seems to me that if our stay in Paris is a prolonged one I shall return home rich enough to buy me an estate, for never did money so flow into my pocket. We have been here but a short time, and I have gained as much and more than I should do in a year of hard service. First there was that young French count, the very next morning when he called here he gave me a purse with thirty crowns, telling me pleasantly that it was at the rate of five crowns for each skull I cracked on his behalf. Then this morning Maitre Leroux came to me and said, 'Good fellow, it is greatly to your skill and valour that I owe my life, and that of my wife; this will help you to set up housekeeping; when you return home,' and he gave me a purse with a hundred crowns in it; what think you of that, master? The other three also got purses of fifty crowns each. If that is the rate of pay in Paris for a couple of hours' fighting, I do not care how often I take a share in a fray."
"You are doing well indeed, Tom, but you must remember that sooner or later you might go into a fray and lose your life, and with it the chance of buying that estate you speak of."
"We must all take our chances, master, and there is no winning a battle without the risk of the breaking of casques. Are we going to the house we went to the first night we came here, Master Guy? Methinks that this is the street we stopped at."
"Yes, Tom. It was the man who lives here who sent me word that the butchers were going to attack the provost's house, by the same messenger who met us before Notre Dame, and who last night, after warning me, carried my message to Count Charles, praying him to come to our aid."
"Then he did us yeoman service," the archer said warmly, "though I think not that they would have carried the barricade had they fought till morning."
"Perhaps not, though I would not say so for certain, for they might have devised some plan such as they did for covering themselves while they assaulted the door. But even had they not done so they would have been sure before they retired to have fired the house."
"That is what I thought of when they were attacking us," the archer said, "and wondered why they should waste men so freely when a torch would have done their business just as well for them."
"That would have been so, Tom, had they only wished to kill us; but though, no doubt, the leaders desired chiefly the life of the provost, the mob simply fought for plunder. If they had found all the jeweller's store in his shop, they would have fired the house very quickly when they discovered that they could not get at us. But it was the plunder that they wanted, and it was the sight of those chests full of silver-ware that made them venture their lives so freely, in order to have the handling of it. I do not think that I shall be long here, Tom. Do not wait for me at the door, but stroll up and down, keeping a short distance away, so that I can see you when I come out."
A decrepit old woman opened the door, and on Guy giving his name she said that she had orders to admit him if he called. The girl came out dressed in her female attire as he went upstairs.
"Ah, signor," she said, "I am glad indeed to see that you are safe."
"Thanks to you," he said warmly; "we are all your debtors indeed."
"I had but to run a mile or two," she said; "but what was there in that? But indeed I had an anxious time, I so feared that I should be too late. When I had seen the Count d'Estournel and delivered your message to him and had shown him your ring, and he and his friends had declared that they would call up their men and come at once to your aid, I could not go back and wait until this morning to learn if they arrived in time, so I ran to your street again and hid in a doorway and looked out. Just as I got there they broke in the door and I saw some of them rush in. But there was a pause, though they were all pressing to enter. They went in very slowly, and I knew that you must be defending the entrance. At last there was a sudden rush, and I almost cried out. I thought that it was all over. A great many entered and then there was a pause again. The crowd outside became more and more furious; it was dreadful to hear their shouts and to see the waving of torches and weapons.
"They seemed to be almost mad to get in. The crush round the door was terrible, and it was only when two or three horsemen rode in among them shouting, that the press ceased a little. One horseman obtained silence for a moment by holding up his hand. He told them that their friends inside were attacking a barricade, and would soon carry it, and then there would be silver enough for all; but that by pressing forward they did but hamper the efforts of their comrades. It seemed, oh, such a long, long time before I saw the Burgundians coming along, and I could not help throwing my cap up and shouting when they charged into the crowd. I waited until it was all over, and then I ran back home and had a rare scolding for being out so late; but I did not mind that much, after knowing that you were all safe."
At this moment a voice from the landing above said: "Are you going to keep Master Aylmer there all day with your chattering, Katarina?" The girl made a little face and nodded to Guy to go upstairs.
"Katarina is becoming a madcap," the astrologer said, as he led Guy into the room. "I cannot blame her altogether; I have made a boy of her, and I ought not to be shocked at her acting like one. But she gave me a rare fright last night when she did not return until close on midnight. Still, it was natural for her to wish to see how her mission had turned out."
"Her quickness saved all our lives," Guy said. "Had it not been for her carrying my message to the Count d'Estournel we should have been burnt alive before morning."
"It was unfortunate that I sent you the message so late, Master Aylmer. I was busy when a medical student who sometimes gathers news for me in the butchers' quarter came here, and left a missive for me. Had he sent up a message to me that it was urgent, I would have begged the personage I had with me to wait a moment while I read the letter. As it was, it lay downstairs till my visitor departed. When I learned the news I sent off Katarina at once. She had but a short time before come in, and was fortunately still in her boy's dress, so there was no time lost. I went out myself at ten o'clock to see what was going on, and must have been close to her without either of us knowing it. I looked on for a short time; but seeing that nothing could be done, and feeling sure that the house must be taken,--knowing nothing of the chance of the Burgundians coming to the rescue,--I returned here and was surprised to find that Katarina had not returned.
"I did not think that she could have reached the shop and warned you before the mob arrived, and therefore I became greatly alarmed as the time went by without her appearing. Indeed, my only hope was that she must have been looking on at the fight and would return when it was all over, as indeed it turned out; and I should have rated her much more soundly than I did had she not told me how she had fetched the Burgundians and that they had arrived in time. I hear that there is a great stir this morning. The number of men they have lost, and specially the deaths of Legoix and of the young Caboche, have infuriated the butchers and skinners. They have already sent off two of their number to lay their complaint before the Duke of Burgundy of the conduct of some of his knights in attacking them when they were assailing the house of a noted Armagnac. But they feel that they themselves for the moment must remain quiet, as the royal order has emboldened the Maire, supported by the traders' guilds, and notably by the carpenters, who are a very strong body, to call out a portion of the city guard, and to issue an order that all making disturbances, whomsoever they may be and under whatsoever pretext they are acting, will be summarily hung if captured when so engaged.
"In spite of this there will no doubt be troubles; but they will not venture again to attack the house of the silversmith, at any rate until an order comes from the Duke of Burgundy to forbid his knights from interfering in any way with their doings."
"Which I trust he will not send," Guy said; "and I doubt if the knights will obey it if it comes. They are already much enraged at the insolence of the butchers, and the royal proclamation this morning will justify them in aiding to put down disturbances whatsoever may be the duke's orders. And now, Sir Count, I have come hither this morning on behalf of my lady mistress to thank you for sending the news, and still more for the service your daughter rendered in summoning the knights to her assistance. She desires much to return thanks herself to your daughter, and will either call here to see her or would gladly receive her at her lodging should you prefer that."
"I should prefer it, Master Aylmer. Your lady can scarce pass through the streets unnoticed, for her English appearance marks her at once; and as all know she lodges at the silversmith's, she will be more particularly noticed after the events of last night, and her coming here will attract more attention to me than I care for. Therefore I will myself bring Katarina round and will do myself the honour of calling upon your lady. I can wrap the girl up in a cloak so that she shall not attract any observation, for no one knows, save the old woman below, that I have a daughter here; and with so many calling at the house, and among them some reckless young court gallants, I care not that it should be known, if for no other reason than, were it so, it would be soon suspected that the lad who goes so often in and out is the girl in disguise, and I could then no longer trust her in the streets alone."
"You will find my lady in at whatever hour you come, signor, for she has resolved not to go abroad again until order is restored in Paris."
"The decision is a wise one," the Italian said; "though indeed I think not that she would be in any danger, save that which every good-looking woman runs in troubled times like these, when crime is unpunished, and those in authority are far too occupied with their own affairs to trouble their heads about a woman being carried off. But it is different with you and your comrade. The butchers know well enough that it was your work that caused their failure last night. Your appearance at the window was noticed, and it was that tall archer of yours who played such havoc among them. Therefore I advise you to be ever on your guard, and to purchase a mail shirt and wear it under your doublet; for, however watchful you may be, an assassin may steal up behind you and stab you in the back. You may be sure that Caboche and the friends of Legoix will spare no pains to take vengeance upon you."
Guy presently rejoined the archer in the street. "Henceforth, Tom," he said, "you must always put on breast-and-back piece when you go out. I have been warned that our lives will almost surely be attempted, and that I had best put on a mail shirt under my doublet."
"Perhaps it would be best, Master Guy. I fear not three men if they stand up face to face with me, but to be stabbed in the back is a thing that neither strength nor skill can save one from. But as I care not to be always going about in armour I will expend some of my crowns in buying a shirt of mail also. 'Tis better by far than armour, for a man coming up behind could stab one over the line of the back-piece or under the arm, while if you have mail under your coat they will strike at you fair between the shoulders, and it is only by striking high up on the neck that they have any chance with you. A good coat of mail is money well laid out, and will last a lifetime; and even if it cost me all the silversmith's crowns I will have a right good one."
Guy nodded. He was wondering in his own mind how he should be able to procure one. His father had given him a purse on starting, but the money might be needed for emergencies. He certainly could not ask his mistress for such a sum, for she too might have need of the money that she had brought with her. He was still turning it over in his mind when they reached the fencing-school. He was greeted with acclamations as he entered by the young count and his friends.
"Here is our defender of houses," the former exclaimed. "Truly, Guy, you have given a lesson to the butchers that they sorely needed. They say that the king himself, who is in one of his good moods to-day, has interested himself mightily in the fray last night, and that he has expressed a wish to hear of it from the esquire who he has been told commanded the defence. So it is not unlikely that there will be a royal message for you to attend at the palace. Fortunately we had the first say in the matter this morning. My father returned last night, and as he is rather a favourite of his majesty, we got him to go to the king and obtain audience as soon as he arose, to complain of the conduct of the butchers in attacking the house of the provost of the silversmiths, and where, moreover, Dame Villeroy, who had arrived here in obedience to his majesty's own commands, was lodged. The king when he heard it was mightily offended. He said he had not been told of her coming, and that this insult to her touched his honour. He sent at once for the Maire and syndics, and upbraided them bitterly for allowing such tumults to take place, and commanded them to put a stop to them under pain of his severe displeasure.
"That accounts, you see, for the Maire's proclamation this morning. The king desired my father to thank me and the other knights and gentlemen for having put down the riot, and said that he would at once send off a message to the Duke of Burgundy commanding him to pay no attention to any reports the butchers might send to him, but to give them a stern answer that the king was greatly displeased with their conduct, and that if any fresh complaint about them was made he would straightway have all their leaders hung.
"It is one thing to threaten, and another to do, Guy; but at any rate, so long as the duke is away they will see that they had best keep quiet; for when the king is in his right senses and is not swayed by others, he is not to be trifled with.
"You can imagine what an excitement there was last night when that boy you sent arrived. The ring was sent up first, and when I gave orders that he should be admitted he came in well-nigh breathless. There were six or eight of us, and all were on the point of leaving. Thinking that it might be something private, they had taken up their hats and cloaks. The boy, as he came in, said, 'Which of you is Count Charles d'Estournel?' 'I am,' I said. 'You are the bearer of a message from Guy Aylmer?' 'I am, my lord. He prays you hasten to his assistance, for the butchers and skinners are attacking Maitre Leroux's house, and had begun to hammer on the door when I was still in the street. If they make their way in, they will surely kill all they find in there. They are shouting, 'Death to the Armagnacs! Death to the English spies!'
"I called upon my comrades to join me, and all were eager to do so. We had long been smarting under the conduct of these ruffians, and moreover I was glad to discharge a part of my debt to you. So each ran to his lodgings and despatched servitors to summon their men-at-arms, and to order the horses to be saddled, and to gather in front of my lodging with all speed. Two or three of my friends who had left earlier were also summoned; but though we used all the speed we could it was more than an hour before all were assembled. The men-at-arms were scattered, and had to be roused; then there was the work of getting the stables open, and we had to force the doors in some places to do it. I was on thorns, as you may well imagine, and had little hope when we started that we should find any of you alive. Delighted indeed we were when, on getting near enough, we could see the crowd were stationary, and guessed at once that you were still holding out--though how you could have kept so large a number at bay was beyond us. We struck heartily and heavily, you may be sure, and chased the wolves back to their dens with a will. I hear that, what with those you slew in the house and street and those we cut down, it is reckoned that a couple of hundred were killed; though as to this none can speak with certainty, seeing that so many bodies were carried away before morning."
"I trust that none of you received wounds, Count Charles?"
"None of us; though several of the men-at-arms had gashes from the rascals' weapons, but naught, I think, that will matter."
At this moment one of the attendants of the salon came in.
"An usher from the palace is here, my lords and gentlemen. He has been to the lodging of Master Guy Aylmer, and has learned that he will most likely be here. If so, he has the king's command to conduct him to the palace, as His Majesty desires to have speech with him."
"I told you so, Guy; my father's story has excited the king's curiosity, and he would fain hear all about it. Make the most of it, for His Majesty loves to be entertained and amused."
"Had I better ask the usher to allow me to go back to my lodging to put on a gayer suit than this?" Guy asked.
"Certainly not; the king loves not to be kept waiting. Fortunately no time has been wasted so far, as this is on the road from the silversmith's to the palace."
The Louvre at that time bore no resemblance to the present building. It was a fortress surrounded by a strong embattled wall, having a lofty tower at each corner and others flanking its gates. On the water-face the towers rose from the edge of the river, so that there was no passage along the quays. The building itself was in the castellated form, though with larger windows than were common in such edifices. Eight turret-shaped buildings rose far above it, each surmounted with very high steeple-like roofs, while in the centre rose another large and almost perpendicular roof, terminating in a square open gallery. The building was further protected by four embattled towers on each side, so that if the outer wall were carried it could still defend itself. In the court-yard between the outer wall and the palace were rows of low barracks, where troops were lodged. Two regiments of the best soldiers of Burgundy were quartered here, as the duke feared that some sudden rising of the Armagnac party might put them in possession of the king's person, in which case the Orleanists would easily persuade him to issue proclamations as hostile to Burgundy as those which were now published in, his name against the Orleanists. The Louvre, indeed, differed but slightly from palaces of several of the great nobles within the walls of Paris, as all of these were to some extent fortified, and stood as separate fortresses capable of offering a stout resistance to any attack by the populace.
"I would rather face those villains of last night for another hour than go before the king," Guy said, as he prepared to follow the attendant; "but I trust that good may come of my interview, and that I can interest the king in the case of my mistress."
Joining the usher, who was waiting at the entrance, and who saluted him courteously--for the manner in which the message had been communicated to the usher showed him that the young squire was in no disgrace with the king--Guy walked with him to the Louvre, which was a short half-mile distant. Accompanied as he was by a royal officer, the guard at the gate offered no interruption to his passage, and proceeding across the court- yard he entered the great doorway to the palace, and, preceded by the usher, ascended the grand staircase and followed him along a corridor to the apartments occupied by the king.