Red Eve by H. Rider Haggard

“Who are these?” asked the King of the Prince. “Oh, I remember, the man who overthrew Sir Ambrose and said he had a message!”

“Ay, Sire,” answered the Prince; “and this dust coloured fellow is his servant, who will not part with his bow, which he calls his wife and says he sleeps with.”

“I would all Englishmen did the same,” broke in the King. “Say, man, can you shoot straight?”

“I know not, Sire,” replied Grey Dick, “but perhaps straighter than most, for God, Who withheld all else from me, gave me this gift. At least, if I be not made drunk overnight, I’ll match myself against any man at this Court, noble or simple, and stake twenty angels on it.”

“Twenty angels! Have you so much, fellow?”

“Nay, Sire, nor more than one; but as I know I shall win, what does that matter?”

“Son,” said the King, “see that this man is kept sober to-night, and to-morrow we will have a shooting match. But, sirrah, if you prove yourself to be a boaster you shall be whipped round the walls, for I love not tall words and small deeds. And now, young Master de Cressi, what is this message of yours?”

Hugh thrust his hand into his bosom, and produced a sealed packet which was addressed to “His Grace King Edward of England, sent from Andrew Arnold, priest, by the hand of Hugh de Cressi.”

“Can you read?” the King asked of Hugh when he had spelt out this superscription.

“Ay, Sire; at least if the writing be that of Sir Andrew Arnold, for he was my master.”

“A learned one and a brave, Hugh de Cressi. Well, break seal; we listen.”

Hugh obeyed, and read as follows:


“Mayhap, Sire, you will remember me, Andrew Arnold, late master of the Templars in this town of Dunwich, in whose house, by your warrant for certain services rendered to your grandsire, your sire, and to yourself, I still dwell on as a priest ordained. Sire, the bearer of this, Hugh de Cressi, my godchild, is the son of Geoffrey de Cressi, of this town, the great wool-merchant, with whom your Highness has had dealings—”

“In truth I have!” interrupted the King, with a laugh. “Also I think the account is still open—against myself. Well, it shall be paid some day, when I have conquered France. Forward!”

“Sire, this Hugh is enamoured of Eve Clavering, daughter of Sir John Clavering of Blythburgh, a cousin of his House, a very beauteous maiden, commonly known as Red Eve, and she in turn is enamoured of and betrothed to him—”

Here Queen Philippa suddenly became interested.

“Why is the lady called Red Eve, sir?” she asked in her soft voice. “Because her cheeks are red?”

“No, Madam,” answered Hugh, blushing; “because she always loves to wear red garments.”

“Ah, then she is dark!”

“That is so, Madam; her eyes and hair are black as ash-buds.”

“God’s truth! Lady,” interrupted King Edward, “is this young man’s message of the colour of the eyes of his mistress, which, without doubt, being in love, he describes falsely? On with the letter!”

“Out of this matter,” continued Hugh, “rose a feud yesterday, during which Hugh de Cressi killed his cousin John, fighting à outrance, and his servant, Richard the Archer, who accompanies him, commonly known as Grey Dick, slew three men with as many arrows, two of them being Normans whose names are unknown to us, and the third a grieve to Sir John Clavering, called Thomas of Kessland. Also, he killed a horse, and when another Frenchman tried to grasp his master, sent a shaft through the palm of his hand.”

“By St. George,” said the King, “but here is shooting! Were they near to you, Grey Dick?”

“Not so far away, Sire. Only the light was very bad, or I should have had the fourth. I aimed low, Sire, fearing to miss his skull, and he jerked up his horse’s head to take the arrow.”

“A good trick! I’ve played it myself. Well, let us have done with the letter, and then we’ll come to archery.”

“Sire,” read on Hugh, “I ask your royal pardon to Hugh de Cressi and Richard the Archer for these slayings, believing that when you have read these letters it will be granted.”

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133

Categories: Haggard, H. Rider