The Lord of Dynevor_ A Tale of the Times of Edward the First
THE LORD OF DYNEVOR:
A Tale of the Times of Edward the First
by Evelyn Everett-Green.
CHAPTER I. DYNEVOR CASTLE.
CHAPTER II. THE BROTHERS
CHAPTER III. THE EAGLE'S CRAG.
CHAPTER IV. WENDOT'S REWARD.
CHAPTER V. THE KING'S CHILDREN.
CHAPTER VI. WELSH WOLVES.
CHAPTER VII. THE KING'S JUDGMENT.
CHAPTER VIII. TURBULENT SPIRITS.
CHAPTER IX. THE RED FLAME OF WAR.
CHAPTER X. CARNARVON CASTLE.
CHAPTER XI. THE KING'S CLEMENCY.
CHAPTER XII. A STRANGE BRIDAL.
CHAPTER XIII. THE NEW LORD OF DYNEVOR.
CHAPTER I. DYNEVOR CASTLE.
Far down the widening valley, and up the wild, picturesqueravine, rang the strange but not unmusical call. It awoke theslumbering echoes of the still place, and a hundred voices seemedto take up the cry, and pass it on as from mouth to mouth. But theboy's quick ears were not to be deceived by the mocking voices ofthe spirits of solitude, and presently the call rang out again withgreater clearness than before:
The boy stood with his head thrown back, his fair curls floatingin the mountain breeze, his blue eyes, clear and bright and keen asthose of a wild eaglet, fixed upon a craggy ridge on the oppositeside of the gorge, whilst his left hand was placed upon the collarof a huge wolfhound who stood beside him, sniffing the wind andshowing by every tremulous movement his longing to be off and away,were it not for the detaining hand of his young master.
The lad was very simply dressed in a tunic of soft, well-dressedleather, upon the breast of which was stamped some device whichmight have been the badge of his house. His active limbs wereencased in the same strong, yielding material, and the only thingabout him which seemed to indicate rank or birth was a belt with arichly-chased gold clasp and a poniard with a jewelled hilt.
Perhaps the noble bearing of the boy was his best proof of rightto the noble name he bore. One of the last of the royal house ofDynevor, he looked every inch a prince, as he stood bare-headed inthe sunlight amidst the everlasting hills of his well-loved home,too young to see the clouds which were settling so darkly and sosurely upon the bright horizon of his life -- his dreams still ofglory and triumph, culminating in the complete emancipation of hiswell-loved country from the hated English yoke.
The dog strained and whined against the detaining clasp upon hisneck, but the boy held him fast.
"Nay, Gelert, we are not going a-hunting," he said. "Hark! isnot that the sound of a horn? Are they not even now returning? Overyon fell they come. Let me but hear their hail, and thou and I willbe off to meet them. I would they heard the news first from mylips. My mother bid me warn them. I wot she fears what Llewelyn andHowel might say or do were they to find English guests in our halland they all unwarned."
Once more the boy raised his voice in the wild call which hadawakened the echoes before, and this time his practised eardistinguished amongst the multitudinous replies an answering shoutfrom human lips. Releasing Gelert, who dashed forward with a bay ofdelight, the lad commenced springing from rock to rock up thenarrowing gorge, until he reached a spot where the dwindling streamcould be crossed by a bound; from which spot a wild path, more likea goat track than one intended for the foot of man, led upwardstowards the higher portions of the wild fell.
The boy sped onwards with the fleetness and agility of a bornmountaineer. The hound bounded at his side; and before either hadtraversed the path far, voices ahead of them became distinctlyaudible, and a little group might be seen approaching, laden withthe spoils of the chase.
In the van of the little party were three lads, one of whom boreso striking a resemblance to the youth who now hastened to meetthem, that the relationship could not be for a moment doubted. As amatter of fact the four were brothers; but they followed twodistinct types -- Wendot and Griffeth being fair and bright haired,whilst Llewelyn and Howel (who were twins) were dark as night, withblack hair and brows, swarthy skins, and something of the wildnessof aspect which often accompanies such traits.
Wendot, the eldest of the four, a well-grown youth of fifteen,who was walking slightly in advance of his brothers, greetedGriffeth's approach with a bright smile.
"Ha, lad, thou shouldst have been with us! We have had raresport today. The good fellows behind can scarce carry the bootyhome. Thou must see the noble stag that my bolt brought down. Wewill have his head to adorn the hall -- his antlers are worthlooking at, I warrant thee. But what brings thee out so far fromhome? and why didst thou hail us as if we were wanted?"
"You are wanted," answered Griffeth, speaking so that all thebrothers might hear his words. "The mother herself bid me go insearch of you, and it is well you come home laden with meat, for weshall need to make merry tonight. There are guests come to thecastle today. Wenwynwyn was stringing his harp even as I came away,to let them hear his skill in music. They are to be lodged for solong as they will stay; but the manner of their errand I knownot."
"Guests!" echoed all three brothers in a breath, and veryeagerly; "why, that is good hearing, for perchance we may now learnsome news. Come these strangers from the north? Perchance we shallhear somewhat of our noble Prince Llewelyn, who is standing out soboldly for the rights of our nation. Say they not that the Englishtyrant is on our borders now, summoning him to pay the homage herepudiates with scorn? Oh, I would that this were a messagesummoning all true Welshmen to take up arms in his quarrel! Wouldnot I fly to his standard, boy though I be! And would I not shedthe last drop of my blood in the glorious cause of liberty!"
Llewelyn was the speaker, and his black eyes were glowingfiercely under their straight bushy brows. His face was the leastboyish of any of the four, and his supple, sinewy frame had much ofthe strength of manhood in it. The free, open-air life that allthese lads had lived, and the training they had received in allmartial and hardy exercises, had given them strength and heightbeyond their years. It was no idle boast on the part of Llewelyn tospeak of his readiness to fight. He would have marched against thefoe with the stoutest of his father's men-at-arms, and doubtlesshave acquitted himself as well as any; for what the lads lacked instrength they made up in their marvellous quickness andagility.
The love of fighting seemed born in all these hardy sons ofWales, and something of warfare was known to them even now, fromthe never-ending struggles between themselves, and their resistanceof the authority, real or assumed, of the Lords of the Marches. Butpetty forays and private feuds with hostile kinsmen was not thekind of fighting these brothers longed to see and share. They hadtheir own ideas and aspirations, and eager glances were turned uponGriffeth, lest he might be the bearer of some glorious piece ofnews that would mean open warfare with England.
But the boy's face was unresponsive and even a little downcast.He gave a quick glance into the fierce, glowing face of Llewelyn,and then his eyes turned upon Wendot.
"There is no news like that," he said slowly. "The guests whohave come to Dynevor are English themselves."
"English!" echoed Llewelyn fiercely, and he turned away with asmothered word which sounded like an imprecation upon all the raceof foreigners; whilst Howel asked with quick indignation:
"What right have English guests at Dynevor? Why were theyreceived? Why did not our good fellows fall upon them with thesword or drive them back the way they came? Oh, if we had but beenthere --"
"Tush, brother!" said young Griffeth quickly; "is not our fatherlord of Dynevor? Dost think that thou canst usurp his authority?And when did ever bold Welshmen fall upon unarmed strangers tosmite with the sword? Do we make war upon harmless travellers --women and children? Fie upon thee! it were a base thought. Let notour parents hear thee speak such words."
Howel looked a little discomfited by his younger brother'srebuke, though he read nothing but sympathy and mute approbation inLlewelyn's sullen face and gloomy eyes. He dropped a pace or sobehind and joined his twin, whilst Wendot and Griffeth led the wayin front.
"Who are these folks?" asked Wendot; "and whence come they? Andwhy have they thus presented themselves unarmed at Dynevor? Is itan errand of peace? And why speakest thou of women andchildren?"
"Why, brother, because the traveller has his little daughterwith him, and her woman is in their train of servants. I know notwhat has brought them hither, but I gather they have lost theirroad, and lighted by chance on Dynevor. Methinks they are on avisit to the Abbey of Strata Florida; but at least they come assimple, unarmed strangers, and it is the boast of Wales that evenunarmed foes may travel through the breadth and length of the landand meet no harm from its sons. For my part I would have it alwaysso. I would not wage war on all alike. Doubtless there are those,even amongst the English, who are men of bravery and honour."
"I doubt it not," answered Wendot, with a gravity rather beyondhis years. "If all our mother teaches us be true, we Welshmen havebeen worse enemies to one another than ever the English have been.I would not let Llewelyn or Howel hear me say so, and I would fainbelieve it not. But when we see how this fair land has been tornand rent by the struggles after land and power, and how our ownkinsman, Meredith ap Res, is toying with Edward, and striving totake from us the lands we hold yet -- so greatly diminished fromthe old portion claimed by the lords of Dynevor -- we cannot callthe English our only or even our greatest foes. Ah, if Wales wouldbut throw aside all her petty feuds, and join as brothers fightingshoulder to shoulder for her independence, then might there be somehope! But now --"
Griffeth was looking with wide-open, wondering eyes into hisbrother's face. He loved and reverenced Wendot in a fashion thatwas remarkable, seeing that the elder brother was but two years anda half his senior. But Wendot had always been grave and thoughtfulbeyond his years, and had been taken much into the counsels of hisparents, so that questions which were almost new to the younger ladhad been thought much of by the eldest, the heir of the house ofDynevor.
"Why, brother, thou talkest like a veritable monk for learning,"he said. "I knew not thou hadst the gift of such eloquent speech.Methought it was the duty of every free-born son of Wales to hatethe English tyrant."
"Ay, and so I do when I think of his monstrous claims," criedWendot with flashing eyes. "Who is the King of England that heshould lay claim to our lands, our homage, our submission? My bloodboils in my veins when I think of things thus. And yet there aremoments when it seems the lesser ill to yield such homage to onewhom the world praises as statesman and soldier, than to see ourland torn and distracted by petty feuds, and split up into ahundred hostile factions. But let us not talk further of this; itcuts me to the heart to think of it. Tell me more of these sametravellers. How did our parents receive them? And how long purposethey to stay?"
"Nay, that I have not heard. I was away over yon fell withGelert when I saw the company approach the castle, and ere I couldfind entrance the strangers had been received and welcomed. Thefather of the maiden is an English earl, Lord Montacute they callhim. He is tall and soldier-like, with an air of command like untoour father's. The damsel is a fair-faced maiden, who scarce opensher lips; but she keeps close to our mother's side, and seems loathto leave her for a moment. I heard her father say that she had nomother of her own. Her name, they