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ful conflict, in which, after displaying the most undaunted valour, the King of Norway, and Tosti, both fell with ten thousand of their bravest followers. Who would have thought that upon the proud day when this battle was won, the very gale which waved the Saxon banners in triumph, was filling the Norman sails, and impelling them to the fatal shores of Sussex ?-Who would have thought that Harold, within a few brief days, would himself possess no more of his kingdom, than the share which he allotted in his wrath to the Norwegian invader ? -Who would have thought that you, noble Athelstane—that you, descended of Harold's blood, and that I, whose father was not the worst defender of the Saxon crown, should be prisoners to a vile Norman, in the very hall in which our ancestors held such high festival !”
“ It is sad enough,” replied Athelstane; “ but I trust they will hold us to a moderate ransom At any rate it cannot be their purpose to starve us outright; and yet, although it is high noon, I see no preparations for serving dinner. Look up at the
pierced with a spear thrust through the planks from a boat beneath. Spenser and Drayton both allude to the prophecies current concerning the fatal Welland :" Which to that ominous flood much fear and reverence wan.”
window, noble Cedric, and judge by the sun-beams if it is not on the
verge of noon."
answered Cedric; " but I cannot look on that stained lattice without its awakening other reflections than those which concern the passing moment, or its privations. When that window was wrought, my noble friend, our hardy fathers knew not the art of making glass, or of staining it—The pride of Wolfganger's father brought an artist from Normandy to adorn his hall with this new species of emblazonment, that breaks the golden light of God's blessed day into so many fantastic hues. The foreigner came here, poor, beggarly, cringing, and subservient, ready to doff his
to the meanest native of the household. He returned pampered and proud, to tell his rapacious countrymen of the wealth and the simplicity of the Saxon nobles—a follý, oh Athelstane, foreboded of old, well as foreseen, by those descendants of Hengist and his hardy tribes, who retained the simplicity of their manners. We made these strangers our bosom friends, our confidential servants; we borrowed their artists and their arts, and despised the honest simplicity and hardihood with which our brave ancestors supported themselves, and we became enervated by Norman arts long ere we fell under Norman arms. Far better was our homely diet, eaten in peace and liberty, than the luxurious
dainties, the love of which hath delivered us as bondsmen to the foreigner conqueror !"
I should,” replied Athelstane,“ hold very humble diet a luxury at present; and it astonishes me, noble Cedric, that you can bear so truly in mind the memory
of past deeds, when it appeareth you forget the very hour of dinner.”
“ It is time lost,” muttered Cedric apart and impatiently,“ to speak to him of aught else but that which concerns his appetite. The soul of Hardicanute hath taken possession of him, and he hath no pleasure save to fill, to swill, and to call for more. -Alas!” said he, looking at Athelstane with compassion, “ that so dull a spirit should be lodged in so goodly a form! Alas! that such an enterprize as the regeneration of England should turn on a hinge so imperfect! Wedded to Rowena, indeed, her nobler and more generous soul may yet awake the better nature which is torpid within him. Yet how should this be, while Rowena, Athelstane, and I myself, remain the prisoners of this brutal marauder, and have been made so perhaps from a sense of the dangers which our liberty might bring to the usurped power of his nation ?”
While the Saxon was plunged in these painful reflections, the door of their prison opened, and gave entrance to a sewer, holding his white rod of office. This important person advanced into the chamber
with a grave pace, followed by four attendants, bearing in a table covered with dishes, the sight and smell of which seemed to be an instant compensation to Athelstane for all the inconvenience he had undergone. The persons who attended on the feast were masked and cloaked.
“What mummery is this ?” said Cedric;" think you that we are ignorant whose prisoners we are, when we are in the castle of your master? Tell him,” he continued, willing to use this opportunity to open a negociation for his freedom,—“Tell your master, Reginald Front-de-Bæuf, that we know no reason he can have for withholding our liberty, excepting his unlawful desire to enrich himself at our expence. Tell him that we yield to his rapacity, as in similar circumstances we should do to that of a literal robber. Let him name the ransom at which he rates our liberty, and it shall be paid, providing the exaction is suited to our means.”
The sewer made no answer, but bowed his head. “ And tell Sir Reginald Front-de-Bauf,” said Athelstane, “ that I send him my mortal defiance, and challenge him to combat with me, on foot or horseback, at any secure place, within eight days after our liberation, which, if he be a true knight, he will not, under these circumstances, venture to refuse or to delay.”
“ I shall deliver to the knight your defiance,”
answered the sewer;
“ meanwhile I leave you to your
food." The challenge of Athelstane was delivered with no good grace; for a large mouthful, which required the exercise of both jaws at once, added to a natural hesitation, considerably damped the effeet of the bold defiance it contained. Still, however, his speech was hailed by Cedric as an incontestible token of reviving spirit in his companion, whose previous indifference had begun, notwithstanding his respect for Athelstane's descent, to wear out his patience. But he now cordially shook hands with him in token of his approbation, and was somewhat grieved when Athelstane observed, " that he would fight a dozen such men as Frontde-Bouf, if, by so doing, he could hasten his departure from a dungeon where they put so much garlic into their pottage.” Notwithstanding this intimation of a relapse into the apathy of sensuality, Cedric placed himself opposite to Athelstane, and soon shewed, that if the distresses of his country could banish the recollection of food while the table was uncovered, yet no sooner were the victuals put there, than he proved that the appetite of his Saxon ancestors had descended to him along with their other qualities.
The captives had not long enjoyed their refreshment, however, ere their attention was disturbed even from this most serious occupation by the blast