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Eke you do. Why, he'd look upon it as little short of high treason!""

"I've no doubt of it! I've heard you say as much before; but whatever dealings you and I have together needn't be known to fiim. You want to set yourself straight, don't you?"

"I do, indeed," answered Jonas; and I sha'n't rest until I am so. But how's it to be done ?" "Why, haven't I already told you?" replied the tempter. "Join me and my mates for a night or two, and by so doing you can square yourself, and go on smoother for the future."

"For the future," replied Johas, "I'll never enter a public-house, and forswear cards and dice

for ever!"

"We shall see," thought Robert; then taking a bank-note from his pocket, he placed it carelessly in the hand of Jonas, saying: "Take that, my lad, to square matters: it's a fiver, and I reckon it will pay all damages and leave a trifle for yourself." Jonas started as his hand grasped the crisp little piece of paper, his former resolution seemed to fail him, and his thoughts wavered; besides, he could now buy Mildred some little token before they parted.

Robert Rayburn saw his advantage, and followed it up. Don't you see, Jonas," said he, "how comfortably that bit of money will smooth matters over. You know the old saying, Out of debt, out of danger. Come, come, put it in your pocket, and let us shake hands on the bargain."

Jonas was sorely tempted. There was shame and disgrace in the thought of his father becoming aware of his irregularities-of his drinking score and gambling debts; his mother, too-what would she think of her son-her only one, who had been reared with such a strict regard for the paths of rectitude and propriety? He reflected for a moment, and then felt his conduct must appear as pure in their eyes as it ever had been.

"Now, mind you, Robert Rayburn," said he; "if I consent to do as you wish me in this instance, it must not lead you to think that I intend having anything to do with you in any other matter of this kind, and I shall be quite free to cut your acquaintance for the future."

“Oh, yes, certainly quite free. I intend going to another part of the world soon, and so in a short time it will be quite a chance if we ever meet again !"

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science is an unrelenting master, ever reminding one of its presence.

The arrival of a stage-coach in a country place was wont to be a topic of interest to all classes. The next morning he dreaded meeting his The blacksmith would pause with uplifted hammer parents at the breakfast-table, where his father in- over the red-hot iron bar, and stroll to the door variably read prayers, for Jonas knew what he had to watch its progress; the shoemaker would rise pledged himself to do, and felt his unworthiness. from his seat and walk down to the inn where tho He also dreaded a lecture from his father; but, to coach changed horses, and mostly be joined by the his great relief, the meal passed off in comparative tailor, the wheelwright, and the butcher. Then silence, and Jonas felt greatly at ease when he news was eagerly sought for and discussed over found himself on the road to his employment. various jugs of the worthy host's ale, who felt Sir Michael Saxilby was overjoyed at the news honoured by the acquaintance of the guard, and his head keeper brought him. He had long been reverenced the coachman. They were looked upon wishing to secure the depredators who paid such as emperors of the road-monarchs of the highfrequent visits to his preserves, and now the oppor-way-and the passengers who sat on the box-seat beside the coachman felt they were envied men. Jonas had changed his five-pound note, paid Grogram his score, and bought Mildred a silver thimble and a pair of ear-rings to wear on holidays, while she gave him a lock of her hair formed into a true lover's knot and ornamented with blue ribbon.

tunity offered.

"Under favour, Sir Michael, don't you think it would be as well to let me warn young Fletcher that your honour is aware of the dishonest part he is about to act, and advise him to keep away ?" "By no means,” replied his stern master. "All the other rascals would escape if you did that, for Jonas would find some means of letting that fellow Rayburn know all was discovered, and then the whole gang would slip through my fingers, which I'm resolved they shall not do: no, no, I've been annoyed enough by the rascals, and now I've a chance of securing them, let Jonas Fletcher suffer with the rest."

"I don't believe the young fellow ever had anything to do with such kind of matters before, Sir Michael," pleaded the keeper

"How do you know? Certainly he always seemed quiet and respectable enough; but still waters run deep, and perhaps he's as bad as the

rest of the rascals."

"I don't think so, Sir Michael, from what I heard last night, and am almost sure it will be his first offence."

The luggage has been stowed away, the horses fed, the coachman and guard refreshed, and all is ready for departure. Thornley and his wife, with tears in their eyes, embrace their daughter and wish her a safe journey. Mildred cannot help sobbing aloud for the life of her, for she never could have thought it would have been so hard to part from her parents and dear Jonas. Rapid farewells are exchanged, hands pressed, lips kissed, and promises made to write often to each other; Mildred takes her seat outside the coach, and wishes them good-bye a score of times; the coachman cracks his whip, the guard sounds his horn, and the horses, already impatient of delay, put forth their speed, leaving a cloud of dust behind-a turn of the road closes the view, and "The Highflier" is making its way rapidly to London.

"And it shall be his last!" angrily replied the baronet. "If he had been an ignorant clod who had followed the plough all his life, and had never been taught the difference between right and wrong, I might have had some consideration for him; but his parents, forsooth, wish to pass for such good and pious people, so regular in their attend-the ance at church, while all the time, perhaps, they have been aiding in and profiting by their son's dishonesty."

“No, no, your honour," exclaimed the keeper, "I don't believe that."

Neither did the baronet believe it, but it was a little bit of spite levelled at the old folks for their opinion of him. The truth was, Sir Michael seldom made, his appearance at church, was much addicted to the bottle, and, although a married man, an eye to all the pretty girls for miles round if he thought by temptation and false promises he could bend them to his will

He had no idea of doing anything of the kind, bat merely said so to ally any reluctance that might linger in the mind of Jonas, who agreed to meet Robert Rayburn at the cross-roads the next night when the moon rose. This being under-had stood, they shook hands upon it, and were about to part, when a slight noise in the adjoining hedge

caused them both to start in alarm.

Old Fletcher had freely remarked on his conduct, and expressed it as his opinion that Sir "Michael was not the kind of man to be Lord of the Manor, and ought to set a good example to folks instead of leading a reprobate life.

It's only a hare or a rabbit," said Robert, after listening intently for a few moments. wish I had my gun with me, I'd risk a shot; 1 know I should bring something down among the bushes yonder."

He would indeed have brought something down-every town and village there are always some something he little expected.

They parted, and Jonas made for home, hoping he would enter his father's house unheard by his parents, for the night was growing late.

When the road was clear, a human head was seen to rise up slowly from behind the bushes: it belonged to Philip Craybrooke, Sir Michael Saxilby's head gamekeeper. He crept along under the shadow of the hedge until he came to a stile which crossed a field in the direction of the Hall, mattering as he went:

All this had been brought to Sir Michael; for in abject beings to be found ready to curry favour with their betters.

Craybrooke saw it was useless to say another word in favour of Jonas Fletcher, so he held his peace and waited to hear his instructions. Sir Michael ordered him to have the rest of the keepers backed by a dozen sturdy labourers in hiding-places near the cross-roads. They were to observe the direction taken by Robert Rayburn and his associates, and then so surround them that escape would be impossible. The good-hearted keeper "When the moon rises to morrow-night, eh! would willingly have warned Jonas had he dared, And the meeting-place to be the cross-roads. Sir but he knew were he to do so it would cost him his Michael shall know of this at once." situation; he was married, and had a large family dependant on him, and could not afford to risk being discharged from his office.

CHAPTER II.

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This conference between Sir Michael and his

Then the blacksmith returned to wield the big hammer, the shoemaker to brandish his awl, the tailor to ply his needle, the wheelwright to shave his spokes, the butcher to quarter his sheep, and Grassdale was calm and quict once again. Jonas remembered his appointment with Robert Rayburn, and his conscience smote him. The nearer time approached for the dishonest work to take place the more uneasy and regretful did he become. Once or twice he thought he would retrace his steps towards home, confess all to his parents, and brave the ordeal; but his moral courage failed him, he did not feel himself equal to the disclosure, ho dreaded his father's anger, and feared he might never be forgiven. Would it not be better to keep matters a secret from his parents if he could? Nothing would then be known, and he would be so steady and economical for the future!

The future: could he have foreseen that, it would indeed have appalled him! Looking behind him cautionsly as he made for the appointed spot, he reached the cross-roads unobserved as he thought; but a watchful eye was tracking his every movement.

The moon was slowly rising in solemn majesty over the tops of the surrounding trees, throwing them into long and dark shadows across the road. Jonas heard his name softly called, and the next moment Rayburn stood by his side as suddenly as though he had risen from beneath the ground at his feet.

"Come this way," said Rayburn, grasping him by the arm and leading the way through a gap in the hedge.

They crossed a newly-ploughed field, and made for a ruined barn that stood in the corner of an adjoining meadow.

Rayburn gave a low whistle, the barn doors opened, and Jonas, with his companion, went in. The moon's rays glancing through the chinks of the barn gave sufficient light for Jonas to discover he was amongst company. He perceived half-a-dozen rough-looking fellows, with guns under their arms and crape over their faces. Jonas thought that some of their figures were familiar to no further clue.

ROBERT RAYBURN had a secret motive in wish-keeper took place on the same evening that Cray-him; but as none of them spoke, Jonas could gain ing to make a poacher of Jonas Fletcher, or he never would have parted with his five-pound note so easily. What that motive was will presently be

séen.

By the time Jonas had reached his father's threshold, he began to think he had acted rashly in making the promise he had to Rayburn. But he felt it was too late to draw back now, and he raised the latch softly and with a trembling hand, hoping his parents were asleep, and would not hear him; but as he gently closed the door on the inside, he heard his father call to him in a chiding voice from his bed-chamber:

Late again, Jonas! I don't like this, my lad! There must be an alteration. It makes me very uneasy about you, and your mother also. Good night, my lad, and think of what I've said."

brooke overheard Robert Rayburn and Jonas Fletcher's conversation in the lane, and he had no alternative but to arrange matters so that all the offenders might be secured at any risk-at any danger: such were Sir Michael's imperative commands, and Craybrooke prepared to act accordingly. All was bustle and excitement in Thornley's cottage, for the day had arrived when Mildred was to set forth to London. One neighbour dropped in after another to wish her good-bye, and Mildred's departure was the topic of the day. "The Highflier," the London mail, was due at the Ash Tree at six o clock, and Mildred's trunk and band-boxfor what woman ever travelled without one?-were waiting at the inn door ready to be stowed away in the coach, while Mildred, her father, mother, and Jonas, were in the bar with Grogram, the landlord, who insisted upon uncorking a bottle of his best wine, so that they might drink success to Mildred's

Good night, father," answered Jonas; and his heart smote him as he spoke, for he knew he had done wrong and was about to do worse the follow-first journey to London, ing night; but then he would be enabled to free The distant sound of the guard's horn told himself from debt, and when that was accomplished them "The Highflier' was approaching, and he would never go beyond his means again. they hurried to the door as the mail-coach was

He passed an uneasy night, for a burthened con-entering the village.

Rayburn, leaving Jonas in the middle of the barn, beckoned the others into a corner, where a short and whispered conference took place. The only words Jonas could overhear were, "Fernley Copse." Several large canvas bags were taken from a place of concealment under the ruined thatch, and each man proceeded to conceal one beneath his coat, They then went singly out of the barn at short intervals, leaving Rayburn and Jonas together.

Rayburn then produced two pieces of crape from his pocket; and proceeding to conceal his features, advised Jonas to do the same. He thought it best to comply-for recognition would be ruin--and perceived as he proceeded to do so that Rayburn had also armed himself with a gun.

"Come, and tread softly," said Rayburn, leading the way out of the barn.

"Stay!" exclaimed Jonas, when they were outside. "How is it you and your companions are armed? If I thought there was to be any violence in this business, I'd back out of it at the last moment in spite of all I've promised and all I've to fear from your telling all you know! So

mind that, Robert Rayburn, and don't reckon on | grasp of four stout men, who, tearing the crape me if human life's in danger."

from his face, saluted him by name. At that mo"Psha! What are you thinking of ?" asked the ment Jonas felt it would have been a mercy if a poacher. "Our guns are to bring down the wild thunderbolt from Heaven had stricken him dead. creatures of the earth, not our fellow-men-unless Shame, confusion, horror, and bewilderment overwe are forced to do so in self-defence," he mut-powered him, and he fell backwards senseless in tered, aside. the arms of his captors. And then the woods rang out with shouts of alarm and defiance; shots were fired in rapid succession; a fearful conflict was raging in Fernley Copse, for the poachers had fallen into the ambush that was laid for them, and were dragged forth from the woods into the open moonlight, handcuffed prisoners, torn, bleeding, and wounded.

"I'll take your word, Rayburn. But I warn you not to reckon on me if any of you fire a shot against a fellow-creature!"

"Calm your fears, Jonas, and come along! Let us take game while the moon shines." Rayburn led the way, and Jonas followed; but it was with an anxious heart and perturbed spirit. He was within an ace of taking to his heels and braving the worst; but upon coming to the edge of the plantation he found himself in the company of the rest of the gang, and Rayburn, as if guessing his thoughts, addressed him in a calm and determined voice:

"Now look here, Jonas Fletcher," said the Ichief of the poachers. "You're new to this sort of thing, and we're all old hands. No flinching, mind!no hanging back! no running away! for, by the soul of me, if I thought you'd peach on any of us, I'd lodge the contents of this within your body where you stand!"

And as he spoke he raised his gun to the breast of Jonas and placed his finger on the trigger.

Jonas saw at once that what he had pledged himself to do he must fulfil, so he avowed his determination to do so.

"All right, then, my lad!" said Rayburn. "And now to business. Come this way."

Jonas followed him round the edge of the wood, and there saw a light cart, to which a horse was harnessed, standing beneath beech tree, by the side of a by-lane that led to the London Road.

a

"Wait here and watch well, Jonas. You have a wide prospect before you here, and can soon see if anyone crosses the fields in the direction of the woods; but if So, just make your way into the wood a short distance and blow this whistle softly and cautiously: we shall then know what to do."

As Rayburn spoke he threw a narrow leathern thong around Jonas's neck, to the

end of which was suspended a metal whistle.

"You understand me?" asked Rayburn,

in a warning voice.

"Perfectly," replied Jonas.

66

A keeper had been shot dead in the encounter, and his body was being borne along on a rude litter of boughs, hastily constructed for the sad emergency. Craybrooke and another stalwart keeper had Robert Rayburn firmly grasped by the collar. His face was deadly pale with rage at being so suddenly entrapped and discovered. He had received

The body of the murdered keeper was placed in the poacher's captured cart. Jonas, still insensible, was laid beside him; Craybrooke and his men followed with their prisoners in the direction of the village, and the amazed and excited crowd brought up the rear.

Poor old Fletcher and his wife were in blissful ignorance as to what had happened; they had retired to rest, and were sleeping peacefully when the news of the fatal affray in Fernley Copse reached the village.

The noise of many footsteps passing under their window. and the murmur of numerous voices, awoke the honest couple.

"What the dickens is the matter out-o'-doors tonight, I wonder ?" inquired he of his wife.

I can't make out; I fancy there must be a fire somewhere," replied the old woman. "Hark! isn't that some one rapping at our door ?" "Certainly it be, missus. And hark!-some one's calling to us."

HIS ARMS WERE SUDDENLY PINIONED AND THE CRAPE TORN FROM HIS FACE.

Enough, then! From what I've heard I don't think the keepers are out to-night, and we shall make a fine haul without any danger. But if such a thing should occur, mind you stick to us; for from to-night you're as deep in the mud as we are in the mire, so look out, for here goes to business!" And Rayburn, cautiously climbing the fence, struck into the recesses of Fernley Copse, where the rest of his associates were now awaiting him. The cracking of the dry twigs beneath Rayburn's feet struck with painful acuteness on the ear of Jonas as the poacher made his way into the copse. The sound gradually died away, and all was still; then a startled hare darted from the black recesses of the wood, as if surmising danger, and, crossing the moonlit glade, was lost to sight almost as quickly as it appeared.

A rapid rush of footsteps behind him caused Jonas to turn round with alarm. His arms were suddenly pinioned, and Jonas found himself in the

"Master Fletcher! -Master Fletcher!" shouted a voice beneath the window. "Get up with thee at once; here's a sad todo, I'm sorry to say!"

"What ever can be amiss ?" thought the old man, as he arose and opened the window.

A small crowd had now gathered beneath it, and he heard his son's name frequently mentioned.

"Do you want me, neighbours?" inquired John.

"Ay, ay; and for Heaven's sake let me speak with you as soon as I can!" answered Grogram, the innkeeper, for he it was who had roused the old man.

Bewildered and terrified, he knew not why, old Fletcher proceeded to throw on a

few articles of cloth-
ing, and as he did so a
horrid thought struck
with painful certainty
on his heart, and he
sank into a chair with
a cry of anguish.
"Why, John, what's
the matter ?" asked
his wife.

"Jonas-our son!" gasped the old man. What are you troubling about him for, John? The lad's in bed and sound asleep long ago, I warrant."

"Do you think so? I'll go and see."

A gleam of hope crossed the old man's mind as he tottered rather than walked to his son's bed-chamber. He raised the latch with a trembling hand, and entered the room.

The moonbeams fell full upon the bed, and he saw it was unoccuOur son is not here, wife!"

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a severe blow on the forehead from the butt-end of | pied. "He is gone.
Craybrooke's gun, and as the blood slowly trickled "What's that you say, John ?-not here? Oh,
down his face he muttered curses on the ill-luck deary me! I fear we're going to hear bad news.'
that had befallen him.
She arose and dressed herself in haste, descended
the stairs, and with a trembling hand opened the
street door.

"We've got you at last, my bold ranger of the woods!" said Craybrooke. "We've been looking for you and your mates a long time. They say it's a long lane that has no turning; and though the pitcher goes often to the well, it may be broken at last."

By this time the news had spread; the village was alarmed, and numbers were flocking to the scene of action. Grogram, of the Ash Tree Inn, was the first to hear the news, and was first on the spot, followed by Diggs the sexton, Flint the ciseman, and Dobbins the constable.

Grogram, with two or three neighbours, entered the house and begged her to be as calm as she could. John Fletcher stood listening with a beating heart at the top of the stairs.

What was he about to hear?

The sad news was soon told. Who can describe the agony those honest hearts felt that dreadful ex-night! Their son-their only one-an accomplice of lawless men-a sharer in their evil deeds of robbery and murder!

The surprise of all when they found Jonas Fletcher was one of the prisoners may well be Some of the neighbours attended to the unimagined, and, as ill news travels apace, a by- happy parents that dreadful night, for they were stander was soon on the road to inform the un-stricken low by what they had heard-cast down, fortunate young man's parents of what had helpless, powerless, and broken-hearted. occurred. [To be continued.]

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THE SEA KINGS:

tery were chiefly aged men and children," but their confidence was in Heaven, which they trusted would deliver them from the hand of the AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE OF THE TIME OF strong and merciless invader. Cheerfully then they

ALFRED.

CHAPTER I.

It was in the month of September, 870, and on the morning of the second day after the feast of St. Maurice, that the monks of Croyland Monastery were, with cheerful voices, performing the matin service. There were but few of the society present, for upwards of two hundred of the most vigorous, under the command of Tollius-himself a monk of the fraternity, but in years gone by a distinguished military leader-had, a few days before, marched to oppose the Northern hordes, who were cruelly ravaging the country. The hearts of the venerable abbot, and of the community with him, were filled with joyful hope; for, on the morning before, they had received intelligence that the Earl Algar, who commanded the Saxon army, had gained a decisive victory over a considerable body of the Northmen, and had driven them at night to their intrenchments, with the loss of three of their Sea Kings. Those who remained in the monas

sang; and the voice of the solemn organ rolled its thunders through the vaulted pile.

But a vehement knocking at the great gate disturbed them; and the song of praise suddenly ceased. For a moment no one stirred, though the blows upon the oaken portal were incessant and increasing. All looked upon the gray-haired abbot, and expected his command.

The heart of the old man beat with unusual

violence; and, for an instant, he stood irresolute what to do.

"Was another victory obtained over the pagan destroyer? and did the messengers of the glad tidings, in the ardour of their joy, forget the reverence due to the place and the solemn worship? or were the tidings evil that so strangely disturbed the bringer? -or was, indeed, the enemy himself at the gate ?"

Such were the thoughts that in an instant glanced through the mind of the astonished abbot; but as instantly he felt that, good or evil,

Children were sent to the monasteries for protection and education.

the tidings must be heard, and themselves must abide the event. Collecting then his spirits, and assuming a look and tone of apparent calmness, he said to those around him:

"Fear not, my brethren, nor let your hearts be sunk within you. Haply the tidings may be good, and our fears may be turned into rejoicing; but, if they be evil, let us not forget that we are the servants of Him who knoweth best that which it is good for us to do or to suffer. Undo the gate, therefore, and let us know the worst."

While he spoke, the strokes upon the door were incessantly repeated, and voices were heard without, exclaiming;

"Open the gate! open the gate, or ye are all dead men!"

Two aged porters now moved tremblingly to the door, and drew up the massive iron bars which secured it. They had no sooner done this, than three youths, with terror in their lookspanting for breath, and covered with blood and dust-rushed into the chapel. They were clad in light armour; and their whole appearance bespoke that they had come from some desperate conflict. In an instant they were recognised as three of the younger monks, who, a few days before, had gone forth with Tollius against the in

vaders; but, at the first glance, all knew that their tidings were disastrous. With rapid step they went up the echoing aisle; and, as they approached the abbot and the monks, who stood near the altar, the foremost of the three, Osbald of Bardeney, cried out:

"The enemy is at hand! Holy father, we must flee swiftly, or perish! The valiant Earl has fallen! Tollins, Morcard, Osgot, the brave Sheriff of Lincoln, Leofric, and Wibert, have perished! Every man that was with them, save us alone, hath fallen: and we have fled all night to warn you of the danger. Stand not amazed, holy father and brethren. Take what you can of value, and leave this place; for assuredly, ere the fourth hour, the destroyer will be upon you!" Osbald paused a moment for breath; and his companion, Bernred, instantly pursued: "Speed you now, holy father-speed you! There is no hope but in flight; for there is not one man left to oppose the horrid crew, save us

alone!"

The aged abbot stood for a moment speechless; then turned to the monks and said: "My children, we are in the hands of God; and that which He willeth for us is best. Not the less, my children, may we justly strive to escape from the clutches of this fearful and accursed onomy; and to save from pollution and from spoil our costly vessels. Bestir ye, then, my children, ye that have strength and youthtake yo your charters, your holy relics, and your jewels-get ye into your boats, and flee to the marshes and the hiding-places, and there remain till this tempest hath passed by. Fling ye also your household goods into the waters, that they may lie unseen; so, haply, if ye return hither, they may again be found, and made fit for your use. But delay not, nor let your strength fail ye."

At these words, every monk, with the exception of about thirty aged and feeble men, set instantly and strenuously to the work. The children also, animated by a boy ten years of age, of remarkable beauty, and ever the foremost in their childish sports and enterprises, exerted themselves to the utmost of their strength in the removal of such lighter things as were entrusted to them.

The abbot, meantime, with the aged monks, having hastily withdrawn to the refectory, took his seat amid the brethren, and motioned to the three young soldiers to be seated also upon a

bench before them.

Ye are worn down, my sons," he said, "with fatigue and watching; and your limbs fail ye that ye cannot toil with the brethren. Ye are hungered also, and parched with thirst, and, if ye take not food and drink, how shall ye have strength to escape? Brother Kenwulf," he continued, addressing an aged monk, who had formerly held the office of kitchener, "make speed, and set before the youths food and drink, the wheaten loaf, and the flesh meat-although the day be a fast of the church-and horns filled with the odoriferous pigment. Meantime, do thou, Osbald-for thou art more fluent of speech than these-tell unto me and my brethren how this thing hath befallen."

While he spake the concluding words, the old man folded his arms on his breast, and reverentially bowed till his long white hair fell, and shadowed his face. Rising then, and with both hands putting back the thin locks, he anxiously awaited the reply.

Osbald, having taken the helmet from his head while the abbot spoke, and passed the skirt of his cloak over his flaming brow, proceeded immediately, but with the tone of one wholly exhausted, to recount the disaster of the preceding day.

"It is grievous to us, holy father, that we cannot, for very weariness, lend our aid to the work of the brethren; but, of a truth, we have fought for two days past, and all the night we have journeyed; so that much weariness is upon us let us then stand excused that, for a little while, we rest from labour."

"Ye are excused, my son," replied the abbot; "waste no words upon this, but tell us briefly how so great an evil hath come upon us."

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"Send then first, holy father," said Osbald, some trusty brother to the western turret, that he may look forth, and give us warning when the enemy is beheld; for his coming on is swift as the spring of the wild beast; and if he be not shunned while yet far off, thou, holy father, and these our brethren, who are feeble and slow of foot, may not be able to escape."

The abbot answered him by a smile and an upward glance of the eye that bespoke a resolution already formed cad not to be broken; then, turning to two of the least feeble monks, he bade them climb the steps of the western turret, and bring them word when they beheld the enemy approaching.

Osbald then, having hastily swallowed a horn- | walked among the ranks, and spake words of ful of the fragrant wine which the monk had encouragement to all. But when, after awhile, presented to him, went on as follows: new and yet more terrible shoutings came from the Northmen, and the dreaded name of Ingwar was heard, and the clashing of arms, then some of the soldiers cried out, Fly! fly! or we shall perish every man!' and, themselves setting the example, instantly fled from the camp. In vain did the valiant Algar, and Tollius, and the Lord of Brunne, strive to recall them. The panic spread, and of our small army nearly the half abandoned us and fled in the night."

"Ye have heard, holy father and brethren, how, on the feast of St. Maurice, we attacked the advanced bands of the accursed invaders, and drove them at night to the gates of their intrenchments, with the loss of three of their Sea Kings. But the bravest and the strongest had short time to boast. We had returned to our intrenchments, and betaken us to rest, hoping that the new day would bring to us new glory. Our little band of monks, under the guidance of Tollius, had distinguished themselves so much as to call forth the peculiar applause of the brave Earl Algar. Stronger arms there were in the field, and soldiers better trained to the discipline of battle, but hearts not more undaunted. Their blood hath steamed to Heaven, and will bring down its wrath upon their murderers! Forgive me, holy father, that these tears fall at the recollection of their heroic devotion and their early fats; but they were my brethren at the altar and in the fearful hour of battle, and my heart is not yet steeled to look on the death of such with indifference."

"I honour thy feelings, my son," said the abbot, wiping the tears from his hoary cheek; "nevertheless, we ourselves haply deserve more to be pitied, who remain to witness the crimes and the sufferings from which those our brethren are now released. Go on, my son, lest the time serve us not to hear the tale of sorrow."

"We had retired to rest," resumed Osbald, "and our little band were stationed near to those of the Earl, in honour of their feats in the day. I myself, having, however undeservedly, met with the especial notice of our pious chief, had been honoured with a couch next to his own, that, if aught chanced requiring it, I might be instantly at his call. The watchers were at their posts: I had once heard their cheering signal that all was well, and then fallen into a deep sleep. But not long had I slept when a hand upon my shoulder, and a voice in my ear, aroused me; and, half-stupified, I saw, by the dim light of the watch-fire, that the brave Tollius knelt by my side.

466

Arise, Osbald,' said he, but in a suppressed tone, as fearing to awaken those hear us. Arise instantly, and tell me what sounds are those in the direction of the enemy's camp? Surely it seems like the coming on of a host, and I fear me that strong succours may be hasting to the foe: tell me, nevertheless, thy thoughts before I arouse the Earl, for sorry indeed should I be to disturb, upon slight cause, the slumbers of our wearied mon.'.

"I started up, and listened breathlessly: but my head whirled, and my heart beat so loud with the suddenness of the surprise, that for a time I could hear nothing. He, however, cooler than I, still caught the sounds, and in another direction also, as if of two distinct bodies of men in quick motion. While we stood thus listening, a watchman from the outposts came hastily to ward the tent of the Earl. We met him, and Tollius inquired his errand.

"There is a noise as of the tread of armed men marching from the north and from the west,' he replied; and we thought it best that the Earl should know it.'

"Tollius instantly entered the tent of the chief, and communicated to him the intelligence. Wrapped in his cloak, the majestic Earl came forth, and listened to the sounds, which were now distinct, and every instant increasing.

"Call up the Lord of Brunne, and the Sheriff of Lincoln, and Harding of Rehale,' said the Earl. The enemy is gathering in force, and we must take counsel together. Bid them hither instantly, and lot the soldiers be awakened that they may arm themselves before the enemy is upon us.'

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'He had scarcely finished when a loud shout from the camp of the Northmen came to our ears, and we plainly distinguished the name of Hubbo.

"Strike on the drum,' cried the earl; 'get on your armour: we shall have hot work before the morning if that pestilence is coming against us. What ho! awake! awake!'

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Having criod cut thus, the Earl rapidly retired to his tent to put on his armour. In a moment our army was stirring, and, for awhile, their hearts were cheerful. The chiefs were soon in council within the tent of the Earl, and the soldiers were armed and awaiting the end, resolved to conqner cr to fall for their country. Bat again a shout arose from the pagan host, and the name of Sidroc was heard from unnumbere savage voices. Fear then came upon many among us, and the soldiers stood here and there in low talk together; but, as yet, none spoke openly of retreat, and no man went from ang us. The valiant Earl, and Tollius, and th other leaders, now came from the tent, and

"Cowards!" cried the aged abbot, striking with his weak hand upon the table-" cowards and traitors! But how then fared ye "

While Osbald was preparing to reply, some of the monks came in to tell the abbot that a part of the golden-plated table of the great altar, which they had flung into the water, rose above the waves.

"Draw it then forth," said the abbot, "and replace it in the chapel; and take special heed, my sons, that nonght of those things which ye cast into the water shall be visible to the eye of the spoiler, lest it betray to him the rest, and our labour be vain. I will myself ere long go forth among you, and then shall I see if you have well done your task."

While the abbot was speaking, one of the aged monks, who had been sent to keep watch on the western turret, returned to tell him that the flatnes of the villages of Kesteven (one of the three districts into which Lincolnshire was anciently divided) were visible for miles around; and that, even while they had looked upon them, two others, at no great distance, had burst forth; but that, as yet, no army was seen approaching, though their shouts and yells were distinetly audible.

"Nay, then," cried the abbot, "we must not longer tarry. Come with me, some of you, my brethren, that we may bear away the holy vessels, and the crucifix of fine gold, from the altar. Nay, stir hot then, my son," addressing Osbald, who, with evident pain, was rising to follow him. "Stir not thou; hands enough for labour like this are among us. Sit and refresh thyself, thou and thy companions, with food and with wine, till I return; and afterward, if the time will serve, shalt thou finish the story of this woful event."

So speaking, the old man arose; and, attended by a few of the monks, with slow and feeble steps quitted the apartment. When, after a little while, he returned, wearied with his slight but unwonted labour, and had resumed his seat

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Now, my son," he said, “proceed with what briefness thou mayst: our boat hath put off with the relics, the charters, and the costly jewels, to the wood of Ancarig, en the south of the island; and many of our younger monks have betaken themselves to the marshes, whither the enemy, for ignorance of the swamps, will not dare to pursue them. Ye, also, my children, when the boat shall return, must embark, or surely would ye perish, when these accursed men come upon us. Make speed then, Osbald, that we may hear thy tale."

We are now refreshed with meat and with wine, holy father," replied Osbald, "and our service might perhaps not be useless to you; nevertheless, I will yet stay to obey your commands, and with all briefness conclude my tragical story."

As Osbald pronounced this, his two companions, arising, bowed to the abbot and the aged monks, and desired leave to go forth that they might see if they could in any way render assistance to their brethren without. The abbot gave his sanction, and Osbald immediately went on thus:

"But for this unhappy falling off of nearly half our strength, we might still, holy father, have preserved our intrenchments, and resisted the advance of the enemy. Our small band waited all night under arms, expecting the assanlt. But it was not till the enemy had buried, with solemn pomp, the three kings, who on the day before had fallen, that they came against us. We did not fear them: the dress had purged itself from us; every feeble heart that had been among nз was now gone, and the noble few that remained were resolute to stand till the last man against the remorseless enemy. The Northman is brave, holy father, though cruel and treacherous; his foot is swift as the deer, and the stroke of his weapon is terrible; but, impatient of command, and unordered in discipline of war, they could not have prevailed in the battle against us, had not our numbers been so few, and had not our own blind impetuosity led us on to destruction. The brave and wise Algar had so skilfully arranged us in the battle, that all the day the disorderly assaults of the foe had not broken our ranks. They had expended their darts, and their horsemen were

wenried out with infectual labour. But the crafty en my saw at length where the secret of our strength lay. They despaired of breaking, our phalanx of shield and of spears by their ill phannel attacks, but they knew that, if they conll disorder our array, their greater number must give them the victory. Suddenly, then, they set up the ery of flight and withdrew as if vanquished. Alas! for our valiant but unguided man! They saw flight, and they ha toned to snatch victory. In vain did our wiser leaders a jure them to remain in their ranks; in vain did they proclaim to them that rain would overwhelm them! Intoxicated with ardour, and burning with thirst of conquest, the soldiers rushed on. The Northmen saw their hope accomplished. With wild yells they turned to the attack, and our soldiers fell before them! I also, foolish as the rest, had sprung forward; but the voice of Tollius reached me, and I returned to his side. He, with the Earl and four other chiefs, stood resolved to fall on the field: but, while a cloud of the fierce warriors was about to sweep over us, he charged me instantly to flee, and bring to you the t! lings of the day, lest ye might have no time to escape. His look was as that of some being greater than man, and his voice had an energy that I could not resist. Oar brother Cynowulf, who was at my side, called to me to haste, and himself turned to go with me. We fled together, but I was swifter than he; and when, after awhile, I looked back, he was not with me! I reached a clump of trees on a gentle ascent, and turned my eyes towards the field where the self-devoting chiefs had stood, but, alas! all had fallen. The yells of victory were sent up by the savage pagans, and I had nought to do but to call upon God for strength, and to hasten upon my way. On the borders of a wood I overtook the two who were my companions hither. We strove to cheer each other as we laboured wearily through the night: and our toil will not have been in vain if it shall aid you, holy father and brethren, to escape from the fangs of the wild beast that pursues you." Osbald paused, and the abbot and the aged monks bent their heads upon their breasts and seemed overwhelmed in sorrow.

"Their blood hath not sunk into the earth in vain!" said at length the hoary prior; in His good time God will avenge them! But, reverend father," addressing the abbot, who with upraised hands sat in silent prayer, "gird thy loins now, and flee, lest the unbelievers bring upon themselves, by our death, a deeper damnation!"

Brother Ored," replied the abbot to the prior, "my limbs are too feeble to bear me hence; and if my hour to die be come, here shall it find me. But, beasts as they are, the enemy, will not make slaughter of us, and of the infants who remain with us. The tender child, and the aged man, cannot injure them; and whereforo then should they wreak their vengeance upon such? Surely would so black a guilt draw fire from heaven upon them, even as upon the accursed cities! No, brother Osred," continued he, with a firm voice and a kindling eye; "for three score years and ten these walls have been my sanctuary, my only world. Here did my boyhood blossom into youth, my youth ripen into manhood, my manhood wither into age and decrepitude, and here, finally, will I yield up my spirit into the hands of its Creator. Before that altar, where for thirty years, unworthy as I am, I have ministered the most solemn rites of our holy religion, even there will I stand and await-whether it be good or whether it be evil -that which shall this day be done unto me. But, if there be among you, my aged brethren, any that would rather trust to his feeble limbs that life of which so short a term can remain unto him, than to the Almighty and All-wise Power, who giveth life unto all things, and who, in His own time, requirǝth that life again at their hands-if there be, my brethren, among you any sach-let him depart. From me shall he have no blame. Do, then, my brethren, every one of you even as each seeth best unto himself. The young, and strong, and swift of foot such as may struggle against toil, and difficulty, and danger such as may yet, in happier day, stand with stout heart to fight the battles of the church against the pagan destroyer-them have I charged to get hence, and to seek where they may for the safety which here they could not hope to find. The arm that could itself bear the sword, would assuredly fall by the sword; but for us if we flee, we shall perish by the way; if we abide here, and put our trust in God, haply the hearts of our enemies may be softened to wards us, and they may shame to injure our gray hairs."

Bat the children, holy father," said the prior: shall not they be borne to some place of safety, if such we can find? Surely their lives

will hereafter be required at orr hands, if we
take not the means to preserve them?”

Our boat is drawing nigh, brother Osred,"
replied the abbot. Let the elder and stronger
of the children be put on board, and God be
their speed; but for the young children that
have not strength for the way, let them abide
with us; and their tender innocence shall be
their strength and their shield."

CHAPTER II.

WHEN the abbot had thus spoken, the prior,
with O-ball and a few of the monks, went out
to place on board the boat such costly things as
yet remained, and as many of the elder children
as they deemed most likely to endure the fatigue
and the privations to which they must be sub-
jected during the period of their concealment
amid woods and marshes, where for days they
might hunger, and for long nights make their
couch upon the earth.

The abbot, meantime, and his aged brethren
were interrupted by the entrance of one of the
monks who had been stationed at the western
turret. Urging his feeble limbs to their utmost
speed, and striking his iron-pointed walking
staff upon the ringing pavement as he strove to
quicken his step, he tottered up the long apart-
ment, and, with looks of terror, and a feeble and
faltering voice lifted to the utmost pitch of its
strength, cried, as he came on:

"Away, holy father!-away, my brethren!away! They come like ravenous wolves-they pour down towards the morass and the water; they glister like serpents as they sweep along. Away! away! They will thread the swamp-they will be upon you ere you can flee! Speed to the boat, my brethren-up and begone! Wherefore do yo linger ?"

Crying out thus, the old man hasted towards his aged brethren, who sat unmoved and silent. As he concluded, he stood among them, and gazed wildly in their faces.

Brother Wihtred," said the abbot to him, "we have taken up our lot here; and, by the blessing of God, here will unfearingly await the end. But if thou, brother, wilt rather trust | for safety to thy weak limbs in the woods and the desert morasses, than share with us in weal and in woe, we pray thee not to tarry; speed thee to the cove where the boat waiteth, and will bear thee away. But from what quarter cometh the enemy, brother? For, if they have espied the bark, then assuredly

"From the north-from the north!" cried the terrified old man. "They cannot have beheld the blessed boat! Get ye away-get yo away! I cannot stay among you! I cannot die-I cannot die!''

So saying, the old man hasted from them to escape to the boat; but before he could reach the door, fell heavily upon the pavement. When the monks hasted to raise him, they saw that he was dead.

At this moment the prior entered, holding by the arm the boy whom we have before mentioned as the first to incite his fellows to give their little aid towards the removal of the lighter articles which the monks were transporting to the boat. The face of the boy was glistening with tears, but his whole expression was that of enthusiastic devotedness and resolu-, tion.

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'Holy father," cried the prior, when he had approached the abbot, "lay your commands upon this headstrong child, who scorns my words, and whose strength I cannot overcome. The boat is prepared and waits for him alone. Of all that have embarked, none so likely to do well as he, yet will he not go with them. Command him, holy father, for thou knowest his life may one day be precious. Do thou command him, and he dare not disobey."

"Edmund, my child," said the hoary abbot, while the tears came to his eyes, "haste thee away while yet there is time; thou art strong and active, and mayst escape, and live to be a blessing to many; but, if thou abidest with us, the cruel Northmen will put thee instantly to death."

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They have slain my father Cynewulf," said the boy, bursting again into tears; "they killed him yesterday. Osbald has told me. They will kill you too, and all my little playfellows. I will not go into the boat and leave them. I will stay and tell those wicked men how God will punish them. I will tell them of

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"Hush! hush! my dear boy," said the abbot, interrupting him, and gently pushing him to be gone, "obey the command which may perhaps be my last. Run to the boat; this defay may cost the lives of all these, should the Northmen see it, and may cause the death of many that are already landed, if they should pursue."

The abbot was here interrupted by the voice of the other monk who had been left on the turret to keep watch, and who hastened in great alarm to say that the enemy had brought several boats round the northern point of land, and were pushing forward to the island.

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Edmund!" said the abbot, "thy obstinacy may have been fatal to thy companions, if their boat cannot turn the southern headland before the enemy comes up! Fly instantly, or their blood be upon thy head!"

The energy of the old man's voice and look alarmed and overpowered the boy, who, suddenly turning pale as death, rushed out at the door.

**Come with me now, my brethren," said the venerable abbot-"come with me; and let us stand before the altar, and lift up our voices to God. Bring also the tender infants, that they may join with us in prayer."

As he spoke, he looked around with a smiling face; then, taking the arm of the prior, walked toward the chapel. He had not proceeded many steps when he turned to the monks who followed him, and said:

"Look forth at the postern door, some of you, my brethren, and see if the boat has put off; surely they will escape the eye of the enemy, else evil will it be to them and to us!"

Two or three of the hoary monks, in prompt obedience, moved towards the door, but paused as they beheld Edmund enter.

"They are gone," said the boy, his beautiful countenance filled with gladness-"they are gone, and I have not brought harm upon them. Holy father," he continued, as he approached the abbot, "they were far on their way when I returned to the cove; and our good God will protect them. Let me live with you, or die as iny father Cynewulf died."

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Poor child!" said the abbot, placing his white and withered hand upon the luxuriant yellow tresses of the boy, who stood looking up to him-" poor child! The blessing of Heaven be upon thee! Thou knowest not what thou hast done."

Having said these words, the abbot took the hand of the boy in his and walked to the chapel. There they found some of the monks with the young children already awaiting them. The abbot placed Edmund among them, and solemnly took his place at the altar, surrounded by the venerable fraternity. There was for a time a dead silence among them. Each looked upon the other like men who are about to part for ever. The young children, alarmed, yet not knowing well what it was they had to fear, stood with trembling limbs, and faces pale as marble, locking up at the venerable abbot and the hoary men, whose protection they still thought defence enough against every danger. Edmund alone stood firm among them, but his eyes were turned anxiously to the door.

"Fling wide the gates," said the abbot, at length, with a solemn tone-"fling them wide, for our strength is not in resistance, but in our weakness and in the might of the Lord."

The gates were opened, and the enemy were heard approaching.

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Lift we now our voices unto God," said the venerable man, "and let our hosannahs go up to the throne!" With a strength and clearness of tone, such as he had not for years before possessed, he then began a sublime Magnificat, and the brethren and the children joined with him.

But, as they went on, the shouts and the yells of the savage hordes without increased; and, before they had concluded, a howl and a laugh, as of demons, burst upon them; and a torrent of armed men rushed in at the gate.

Ha, ha!" shouted the terrible and gigantic Hubbo, bounding like a wild bull toward the now silent, but unmoving brethren. “Ha, ha! Christian priests? A feast for the steel! Hew them to pieces! A sacrifice to Odin! A pleasant offering to the god of battles!"

Brandishing his terrible sword, he flew to the altar where, with the cross uplifted in his hand, the abbot stood calmly awaiting the result.

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Your treasures, priest-your gold, and silver, and jewels!" roared the pagan, as with uplifted weapon he stood before the hoary father. His eye was fierce and bright as the angry serpent's, a thick foam stood on his lips, and his large and savage face looked red as the sun through a dun vapour. Your golden chalice-your incensepots, old mass babbler," he cried, "bring them

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before us!"

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"Thou wilt find neither gold, nor silver, nor jewels here, profane man," answered the abbot; nor are such our treasure. In this," said he, lifting the cross, "our treasure is, and in yon heaven where thou

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"There seek it then!" replied the brutal soldier, breaking upon his words, and instantly

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