List Of Contents | Contents of The Little Duke by Charlotte M. Yonge
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up, my Lord, look up!  You are in your own dukedom again, and this is
Alberic's castle."

"Welcome, indeed, most noble Lord Duke!  Blessings on the day!" cried
the Seneschal.  "What joy for my Lady and my young Lord!"

"He is sorely weary," said Osmond, looking anxiously at Richard, who,
even at the welcome cries that showed so plainly that he was in his
own Normandy, scarcely raised himself or spoke.  "He had been very
sick ere I brought him away.  I doubt me they sought to poison him,
and I vowed not to tarry at Laon another hour after he was fit to
move.  But cheer up, my Lord; you are safe and free now, and here is
the good Dame de Montemar to tend you, far better than a rude Squire
like me."

"Alas, no!" said the Seneschal; "our Dame is gone with young Alberic
on a pilgrimage to Jumieges to pray for the Duke's safety.  What joy
for them to know that their prayers have been granted!"

Osmond, however, could scarcely rejoice, so alarmed was he at the
extreme weariness and exhaustion of his charge, who, when they
brought him into the Castle hall, hardly spoke or looked, and could
not eat.  They carried him up to Alberic's bed, where he tossed about
restlessly, too tired to sleep.

"Alas! alas!" said Osmond, "I have been too hasty.  I have but saved
him from the Franks to be his death by my own imprudence."

"Hush!  Sieur de Centeville," said the Seneschal's wife, coming into
the room.  "To talk in that manner is the way to be his death,
indeed.  Leave the child to me--he is only over-weary."

Osmond was sure his Duke was among friends, and would have been glad
to trust him to a woman; but Richard had but one instinct left in all
his weakness and exhaustion--to cling close to Osmond, as if he felt
him his only friend and protector; for he was, as yet, too much worn
out to understand that he was in Normandy and safe.  For two or three
hours, therefore, Osmond and the Seneschal's wife watched on each
side of his bed, soothing his restlessness, until at length he became
quiet, and at last dropped sound asleep.

The sun was high in the heavens when Richard awoke.  He turned on his
straw-filled crib, and looked up.  It was not the tapestried walls of
his chamber at Laon that met his opening eyes, but the rugged stone
and tall loop-hole window of a turret chamber.  Osmond de Centeville
lay on the floor by his side, in the sound sleep of one overcome by
long watching and weariness.  And what more did Richard see?

It was the bright face and sparkling eyes of Alberic de Montemar, who
was leaning against the foot of his bed, gazing earnestly, as he
watched for his waking.  There was a cry--"Alberic! Alberic!"  "My
Lord! my Lord!" Richard sat up and held out both arms, and Alberic
flung himself into them.  They hugged each other, and uttered broken
exclamations and screams of joy, enough to have awakened any sleeper
but one so wearied out as Osmond.

"And is it true?  Oh, am I really in Normandy again?" cried Richard.

"Yes, yes!--oh, yes, my Lord!  You are at Montemar.  Everything here
is yours.  The bar-tailed hawk is quite well, and my mother will be
here this evening; she let me ride on the instant we heard the news."

"We rode long and late, and I was very weary," said Richard! "but I
don't care, now we are at home.  But I can hardly believe it!  Oh,
Alberic, it has been very dreary!"

"See here, my Lord!" said Alberic, standing by the window.  "Look
here, and you will know you are at home again!"

Richard bounded to the window, and what a sight met his eyes! The
Castle court was thronged with men-at-arms and horses, the morning
sun sparkling on many a burnished hauberk and tall conical helmet,
and above them waved many a banner and pennon that Richard knew full
well.  "There! there!" he shouted aloud with glee.  "Oh, there is the
horse-shoe of Ferrieres! and there the chequers of Warenne!  Oh, and
best of all, there is--there is our own red pennon of Centeville!  O
Alberic!  Alberic! is Sir Eric here?  I must go down to him!"

"Bertrand sent out notice to them all, as soon as you came, to come
and guard our Castle," said Alberic, "lest the Franks should pursue
you; but you are safe now--safe as Norman spears can make you--thanks
be to God!"

"Yes, thanks to God!" said Richard, crossing himself and kneeling
reverently for some minutes, while he repeated his Latin prayer;
then, rising and looking at Alberic, he said, "I must thank Him,
indeed, for he has saved Osmond and me from the cruel King and Queen,
and I must try to be a less hasty and overbearing boy than I was when
I went away; for I vowed that so I would be, if ever I came back.
Poor Osmond, how soundly he sleeps! Come, Alberic, show me the way to
Sir Eric!"

And, holding Alberic's hand, Richard left the room, and descended the
stairs to the Castle hall.  Many of the Norman knights and barons, in
full armour, were gathered there; but Richard looked only for one.
He knew Sir Eric's grizzled hair, and blue inlaid armour, though his
back was towards him, and in a moment, before his entrance had been
perceived, he sprang towards him, and, with outstretched arms,
exclaimed:  "Sir Eric--dear Sir Eric, here I am! Osmond is safe!  And
is Fru Astrida well?"

The old Baron turned.  "My child!" he exclaimed, and clasped him in
his mailed arms, while the tears flowed down his rugged cheeks.
"Blessed be God that you are safe, and that my son has done his

"And is Fru Astrida well?"

"Yes, right well, since she heard of your safety.  But look round, my
Lord; it befits not a Duke to be clinging thus round an old man's
neck.  See how many of your true vassals be here, to guard you from
the villain Franks."

Richard stood up, and held out his hand, bowing courteously and
acknowledging the greetings of each bold baron, with a grace and
readiness he certainly had not when he left Normandy.  He was taller
too; and though still pale, and not dressed with much care (since he
had hurried on his clothes with no help but Alberic's)--though his
hair was rough and disordered, and the scar of the burn had not yet
faded from his check--yet still, with his bright blue eyes, glad
face, and upright form, he was a princely, promising boy, and the
Norman knights looked at him with pride and joy, more especially
when, unprompted, he said:  "I thank you, gallant knights, for coming
to guard me.  I do not fear the whole French host now I am among my
own true Normans."

Sir Eric led him to the door of the hall to the top of the steps,
that the men-at-arms might see him; and then such a shout rang out of
"Long live Duke Richard!"--"Blessings on the little Duke!"--that it
echoed and came back again from the hills around--it pealed from the
old tower--it roused Osmond from his sleep--and, if anything more had
been wanting to do so, it made Richard feel that he was indeed in a
land where every heart glowed with loyal love for him.

Before the shout had died away, a bugle-horn was heard winding before
the gate; and Sir Eric, saying, "It is the Count of Harcourt's note,"
sent Bertrand to open the gates in haste, while Alberic followed, as
Lord of the Castle, to receive the Count.

The old Count rode into the court, and to the foot of the steps,
where he dismounted, Alberic holding his stirrup.  He had not taken
many steps upwards before Richard came voluntarily to meet him (which
he had never done before), held out his hand, and said, "Welcome,
Count Bernard, welcome.  Thank you for coming to guard me.  I am very
glad to see you once more."

"Ah, my young Lord," said Bernard, "I am right glad to see you out of
the clutches of the Franks! You know friend from foe now, methinks!"

"Yes, indeed I do, Count Bernard.  I know you meant kindly by me, and
that I ought to have thanked you, and not been angry, when you
reproved me.  Wait one moment, Sir Count; there is one thing that I
promised myself to say if ever I came safe to my own dear home.
Walter--Maurice--Jeannot--all you of my household, and of Sir Eric's-
-I know, before I went away, I was often no good Lord to you; I was
passionate, and proud, and overbearing; but God has punished me for
it, when I was far away among my enemies, and sick and lonely.  I am
very sorry for it, and I hope you will pardon me; for I will strive,
and I hope God will help me, never to be proud and passionate again."

"There, Sir Eric," said Bernard, "you hear what the boy says.  If he
speaks it out so bold and free, without bidding, and if he holds to
what he says, I doubt it not that he shall not grieve for his journey
to France, and that we shall see him, in all things, such a Prince as
his father of blessed memory."

"You must thank Osmond for me," said Richard, as Osmond came down,
awakened at length.  "It is Osmond who has helped me to bear my
troubles; and as to saving me, why he flew away with me even like an
old eagle with its eaglet.  I say, Osmond, you must ever after this
wear a pair of wings on shield and pennon, to show how well we
managed our flight." {15}

"As you will, my Lord," said Osmond, half asleep; "but 'twas a good
long flight at a stretch, and I trust never to have to fly before
your foes or mine again."

What a glad summer's day was that! Even the three hours spent in
council did but renew the relish with which Richard visited Alberic's
treasures, told his adventures, and showed the accomplishments he had
learnt at Laon.  The evening was more joyous still; for the Castle
gates were opened, first to receive Dame Yolande Montemar, and not
above a quarter of an hour afterwards, the drawbridge was lowered to
admit the followers of Centeville; and in front of them appeared Fru
Astrida's own high cap.  Richard made but one bound into her arms,
and was clasped to her breast; then held off at arm's-length, that
she might see how much he was grown, and pity his scar; then hugged
closer than ever:  but, taking another look, she declared that Osmond
left his hair like King Harald Horrid-locks; {16} and, drawing an
ivory comb from her pouch, began to pull out the thick tangles,
hurting him to a degree that would once have made him rebel, but now

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