A Boy’s Ride

Produced by Patricia L. Ehler, Suzanne L. Shell, Charles
Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

[Illustration: “Yield Thee in the King’s Name”]






“Yield thee in the king’s name!”

Hugo seeks shelter within the walls

“Thou art welcome, my lad,” said Lady De Aldithely

“It is well thou hast me to lead thee”

Humphrey and Hugo in the oak tree

The little spy and Humphrey

Hugo looked about him with interest

Humphrey started up, snatching a great bunch of long, flaming reeds

None knew which way to turn to escape

Richard Wood finds Walter Skinner

Walter Skinner’s horse refused to be controlled

Richard Wood beckoned the Saxons to approach

He rode to the edge of the moat and looked down

Humphrey in priest’s garb

Bartlemy bore garments for disguise

Humphrey, half turning in his saddle, saw a priest



It was the last of May in the north of England, in the year 1209. A
very different England from what any boy of to-day has seen. A chilly
east wind was blowing. The trees of the vast forests were all in leaf
but the ash trees, and they were unfolding their buds. And along a
bridle-path a few miles southwest of York a lad of fourteen was riding,
while behind him followed a handsome deerhound. A boy of fourteen, at
that age of the world, was an older and more important personage than
he is to-day. If he were well-born he had, generally, by this time,
served his time as a page and was become an esquire in the train of
some noble lord. That this lad had not done so was because his uncle, a
prior in whose charge he had been reared since the early death of his
parents, had designed him for a priest. Priest, however, he had
declined to be, and his uncle had now permitted him to go forth
unattended to attach himself as page to some lord, if he could.

To-day he seemed very much at home in the great wood as he glanced
about him fearlessly, but so he would have been anywhere. Apparently he
was unprotected from assault save by the bow he carried. In reality he
wore a shirt of chain mail beneath his doublet, a precaution which he
the more willingly took because of his good hope one day to be a
knight, when not only the shirt of mail, but the helmet, shield, sword,
and lance would be his as well.

It was not far from noon when he came to the great open place cleared
of all timber and undergrowth which announced the presence of a castle.
And looking up, he saw the flag of the De Aldithelys flying from its

There was a rustle in the thicket, horse and deerhound pricked up their
ears, and then ran pursued by flying arrows. And now ride! ride, my
brave boy, and seek shelter within the walls! For till thou reach them,
thy shirt of mail must be thy salvation.

The drawbridge was yet down, for a small party of men-at-arms had just
been admitted, and across it rushed boy, and horse, and dog before the
warder had time to wind his horn: the horse and rider unharmed, but the
deerhound wounded.

[Illustration: Hugo Seeks Shelter within the Walls]

The warder stared upon the strange boy, and the boy stared back at him.
And then the warder crossed himself. “‘Tis some witchcraft,” he
muttered. “Here cometh the young lord, and all the time I know that the
young lord is safe within the walls.”

The grooms also crossed themselves before they drew up the bridge. But
the boy, unconcerned, rode on across the outer court and passed into
the inner one followed by the wounded dog. Here the men-at-arms were
dismounting, horses were neighing, and grooms running about. The boy,
too, dismounted, and bent anxiously over his dog.

Presently a young voice demanded, “Whence comest thou?”

The boy looked up to see his counterpart, the son of the lord of the
castle, standing imperiously before him.

“From York,” answered the stranger, briefly. “Hast thou a leech that

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