The Sundering Flood, by William Morris

Chapter xlvi. Osberne Enters the City of the Sundering Flood

So, as aforesaid, the time wore till Marymass was over, and then came fresh tidings, to wit that the men of the Small Crafts and the lesser commons were risen against the Porte and the King, and had gotten to them the North Gate of the City, and were holding it against their foemen, together with that quarter of the city which lay round about it. The news hereof was sure, for it was brought to Longshaw one night by three of the weavers who had ridden on the spur to tell it to Sir Godrick, and these three men he knew well, and that they were trusty.

Now so it was both that it had not been easy at any time that war should find Longshaw not duly prepared, and also that at this time there was no tidings which Sir Godrick looked for more that this. Speedy therefore was his rede. For he gave into Osberne’s hands fifteen hundreds of his best men, and bade him ride to the City and the North Gate and see what the fields without the City looked like; and the very next morning the Red Lad and his rode out of Longshaw, having with them two of the said weaver-carles, but the third abode with Sir Godrick.

Now so good were the Red Lad’s wayleaders and knew all the passages and roads so inly, and so diligent was the Red Lad himself and his men so good and trusty, that by the second day about sunset he was but five miles from the North Gate, and he and his covered by some scattering woodland that lay thereabout.

Straightway Osberne sends a half score of spies to get them to the City and see what was toward, and come back, they that were not slain, and tell him thereof. Straightway they went, and had such hap that all they came back unscathed, and this was their story: That the men of the Small Crafts were not by seeming hard pressed, for still their banners hung out of the North Gate and the wall and towers thereabout; but that both within the City had been bitter battle against them all day long, and also a host of men of their foes had come out from the East Gate, and were now lying round the North Gate in no very good order, because they looked for no peril save from them within the North Gate, and deemed that as for them they had enough on their hands to keep them within their walls, and least of all things did they look for any onfall from without.

Thereon the Red Lad called to him his captains and hostleaders and asked them of rede, and to be short therewith. Some said one thing, some another, as to send back news hereof to Sir Godrick, or to array them in the best wise to fall on these men on the morrow. Nay, some were for hanging about till they should have news of Sir Godrick.

But when they were done, spake the Red Lad: “Sirs, many of these things are good to be done, and some not; for sure am I that we be not sent hither to do nothing. But now if ye will, hearken my rede: it is now well-nigh dark, and in two hours or somewhat more it will be pit-mirk, and these men outside the walls will be going to their rest with no watch and ward set outward toward the upland. Wherefore I say, let us leave our horses here and do off so much of our armour as we may go afoot lightly; for if we win we shall soon get other horses and gear, and if we lose, we shall need them not. But meseemeth if we do deftly and swiftly, all these men we shall have at our will.”

Now they all saw that it would do; so there was no more said, but they fell to arraying their men on foot, and in an hour they were on the way; and going wisely and with little noise, in two hours thence they were amidst the foe and doing their will upon them; and when they were well entered in amongst them and had slain many, they fell to the blowing of horns and crying out, The Red Lad! the Red Lad! Longshaw for the Small Crafts! Then both there was no aid to come to the men of the Porte, whereas they were far away from the East Gate, and also they of the North Gate heard the horns and the cries, and guessed what was toward; so they issued out with torches and cressets and fell upon the foe crying their cries, and so it befel that none of that host of the Porte escaped save they who might make the night their cloak. Then was the gate thrown open, and the Red Lad and his entered, and ye may think whether the townsmen were joyous and made much of them. But when the tale of his men was told, Osberne found that but three of his were missing. And so soon as it was light, he sent back a band of his men to bring on their horses and armour. Thuswise first came Osberne to the City of the Sundering Flood.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 22:07