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The Scabbard
by [?]

“Ainsi il avoit trouve sa mie
Si belle qu’on put souhaiter.
N’avoit cure d’ailleurs plaider,
Fors qu’avec lui manoir et estre.
Bien est Amour puissant et maistre.”


In the year of grace 1400 (Nicolas begins) King Richard, the second monarch of that name to rule in England, wrenched his own existence, and nothing more, from the close wiles of Bolingbroke. The circumstances have been recorded otherwhere. All persons, saving only Owain Glyndwyr and Henry of Lancaster, believed King Richard dead at that period when Richard attended his own funeral, as a proceeding taking to the fancy, and, among many others, saw the body of Edward Maudelain interred with every regal ceremony in the chapel at Langley Bower. Then alone Sire Richard crossed the seas, and at thirty-three set out to inspect a transformed and gratefully untrammelling world wherein not a foot of land belonged to him.

Holland was the surname he assumed, the name of his half-brothers; and to detail his Asian wanderings were both tedious and unprofitable. But at the end of each four months would come to him a certain messenger from Glyndwyr, whom Richard supposed to be the devil Bembo, who notoriously ran every day around the world upon the Welshman’s business. It was in the Isle of Taprobane, where the pismires are as great as hounds, and mine and store the gold the inhabitants afterward rob them of through a very cunning device, that this emissary brought the letter which read simply, “Now is England fit pasture for the White Hart.” Presently was Richard Holland in Wales, and then he rode to Sycharth.

There, after salutation, Glyndwyr gave an account of his long stewardship. It was a puzzling record of obscure and tireless machinations with which we have no immediate concern: in brief, the very barons who had ousted King Log had been the first to find King Stork intolerable; and Northumberland, Worcester, Douglas, Mortimer, and so on, were already pledged and in open revolt. “By the God I do not altogether serve,” Owain ended, “you have but to declare yourself, sire, and within the moment England is yours.”

More lately Richard spoke with narrowed eyes. “You forget that while Henry of Lancaster lives no other man will ever reign out a tranquil week in these islands. Come then! the hour strikes; and we will coax the devil for once in a way to serve God.”

“Oh, but there is a boundary appointed,” Glyndwyr moodily returned. “You, too, forget that in cold blood this Henry stabbed my best-loved son. But I do not forget this, and I have tried divers methods which we need not speak of–I who can at will corrupt the air, and cause sickness and storms, raise heavy mists, and create plagues and fires and shipwrecks; yet the life itself I cannot take. For there is a boundary appointed, sire, and in the end the Master of our Sabbaths cannot serve us even though he would.”

And Richard crossed himself. “You horribly mistake my meaning. Your practices are your own affair, and in them I decline to dabble. I design but to trap a tiger with his appropriate bait. For you have a fief at Caer Idion, I think?–Very well! I intend to herd your sheep there, for a week or two, after the honorable example of Apollo. It is your part merely to see that Henry knows I live alone and in disguise at Caer Idion.”

The gaunt Welshman chuckled. “Yes, Bolingbroke would cross the world, much less the Severn, to make quite sure of Richard’s death. He would come in his own person with at most some twenty followers. I will have a hundred there; and certain aging scores will then be settled in that place.” Glyndwyr meditated afterward, very evilly. “Sire,” he said without prelude, “I do not recognize Richard of Bordeaux. You have garnered much in travelling!”