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Davi d Lawr e nc e - Young

Copyright David Lawrence-Young
The right of David Lawrence-Young to be identified as author of
this work has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77
and 78 of the Copyright Designs and !atents "ct 1#88$
"%% rights reserved$ &o part of this pub%ication may be
reproduced stored in a retrieva% system or transmitted in any
form or by any means e%ectronic mechanica% photocopying
recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the
"ny person who commits any unauthori'ed act in re%ation to this
pub%ication may be %iab%e to crimina% prosecution and civi% c%aims
for damages$
" C(! cata%ogue record for this tit%e is
avai%ab%e from the )ritish Library$
ISBN 978 1 83963 122 8
*irst !ub%ished +,-1,.
"ustin / 0acau%ey !ub%ishers Ltd$
,1 Canada 23uare
Canary 4harf
516 1L)
!rinted / )ound in 7reat )ritain
8nce more unto the breach dear friends once more
8r c%ose up the wa%% with our 5ng%ish dead$$$
The game9s afoot$
*o%%ow your spirit and upon this charge
Cry :7od for ;arry< 5ng%and and 2aint 7eorge<=
;enry > "ct ((( scene 1
:$$$when a%% those %egs and arms and heads chopped off in
batt%e sha%% ?oin together at the %atter day and cry a%% :4e died
at such a p%ace= some swearing some crying for a surgeon
some upon their wives %eft poor behind them$$$=
;enry > "ct (> scene 1$
Note: The quotations above and all the quotations at the
beginning of each chapter are taken from King Henry V by
illiam !hakespeare"
Chapter One
#avey of #ollis Hill
$reatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom"
They have a king and officers of sorts"""
:Davey< 4here is the %adA= my father shouted :Davey<
4here are you %adA=
:(9m over here pa$ 8ut in the back$=
:4e%% get yourse%f over here at the front and make it
fast$ ( need some he%p with this 9ere gate$ ( can9t do
everything on my own$=
2hrugging my shou%ders ( stopped doing what ( %iked
doing best B sorting out my co%%ection of arrows in a %ong
chest and went round to the front of the yard$ There ( found
my father sing%e-handed%y trying to hang a wooden gate on
a post in front of our cottage$
:&ow you ho%d it there %ad and (9%% tighten up these two
ties top and bottom$=
"s he grasped the new%y-repaired gate by the top rai% to
put it into position ( noticed that his %eft hand was bad%y cut
and the bright red b%ood was oo'ing out of it$
:4hat happened to your hand paA=
:( missed this top rai% and hit it with the ma%%et$=
:2o go in and wash it before you get any dirt in it$ You
don9t want it to go bad= ( said$ :( can wait and there are
sti%% two hours of day%ight %eft before it gets dark$=
:&o don9t you go worrying yourse%f about that son$ (9%%
be a%% right$ (9%% get your mother to bind it up %ater$=
That9s typica% of my father$ " stubborn man especia%%y
when it comes to work and %ooking after our p%ot of %and
which we %iked to think of as a sma%% farm$ ;e had decided
that he wou%d finish hanging the gate today and come what
may that was what he was going to do$ &othing wou%d be
a%%owed to stop it not even a b%oody hand$ ;is stubbornness
had near%y cost him his %ife on more than one occasion$ The
%ong evi%-%ooking scar running down his right forearm
proved that$ 4hen ( had first asked him how he had got it
he to%d me the fo%%owing storyC
:2o there ( was Davey fighting for your king B him
that was the fourth Ding ;enry B near the 4e%sh border$ (
was an archer ?ust %ike my father and his father before him
and sudden%y ( was attacked by this huge 4e%shman
wie%ding a broadsword$=
:4as he bigger than youA=
:"ye that he was a massive fe%%ow wearing a heavy
?erkin and he had murder in his eyes too$ 2o there he was
swinging this huge sword about himse%f and then he %unged
at me$= "t that point my father c%osed his eyes for a second
and shivered as he remembered the scene$ :2o ( he%d out my
batt%eaEe to try and stop him but his b%ade s%iced right
though the hand%e ?ust be%ow the aEe-head$ (t was %ike a hot
knife going through butter$ (t was ?ust %ike my aEe wasn9t
:2o how did you get that scarA=
:That was from his sword$ Lucki%y ( was ab%e to poke
him in the eyes with the hand%e of my aEe and then he
stopped and near%y dropped his sword$ This was because of
the pain ( suppose$ ( must have poked him rea% hard for did
he cry out< ( must have been so desperate to have hurt him
so bad%y$ There was b%ood a%% over his face and he be%%owed
%ike our neighbour9s bu%% did %ast night$=
:)ut you still haven9t to%d me how he scarred you$=
:)e patient %ad$ (9m coming to that$ 2o in his agony he
started swinging that huge sword of his a%% over the p%ace
and it caught my arm and that9s what did it$ ( te%% you %ad
the b%ood was a%% over me my arm my ?erkin and some
even sp%ashed on to my face$ ( te%% you it was everywhere$ (
can sti%% see it today$ Then sudden%y ( fe%% down in a faint$ (
suppose (9d %ost a %ot of b%ood and ( was fee%ing weak$ 0y
friend Fack who was nearby saw what happened and ran his
sword into this 4e%shman9s guts$ Then he grabbed me from
the back and hau%ed me over to behind some bushes and
gave me some water from his f%ask to drink$ "fter a bit of a
rest ( got up and returned to the fight$ Lucki%y the fighting
stopped soon after that and Fack to%d me (9d acted foo%ish%y
going back to fight$ ;e said ( shou%d have craw%ed away
but you know me %ad$ ( to%d him (9d been paid by the king
to defend him and that was what ( was going to do$=
2o that was my father B 0aster Determination himse%f$
"nd now he was trying to hang this gate whi%e his hand was
a%% b%oody$ )ut ( must say my father9s determination has
served him we%%$ Twenty years ago he had persuaded the
%ord of the manor to give him this piece of %and to the north
of London even though it was thought to be a bad patch
with on%y weeds growing on it$ :(f weeds wi%% grow here=
he had dec%ared :so wi%% other things$= &ow we were
working it and %iving off it$ 2ometimes there was even an
eEtra amount of vegetab%es for us to se%% in the %oca% market$
"t the centre of our %itt%e farm stood our cottage and at
the centre of that was my mother$ " short and p%ump
woman with %arge brown eyes cur%y hair and a p%easant
smi%e for most peop%e$ 2he %oved cooking as we%% as
working in her %itt%e vegetab%e garden behind the cottage$
&othing gave her greater ?oy than to see the satisfied %ooks
on the faces of her fami%y after a good mea%$ &ow she was
ca%%ing me to come in to eat$
:You9ve finished he%ping your fatherA= she asked$ :(f
so come in and have some %eek pottage$ (9ve ?ust made it
and so eat it whi%e it9s hot$=
:4hat about fatherA=
:*ear not son$ ;e9%% not go without$ )ut ( daren9t
disturb him whi%e he9s working$ You shou%d know that by
0y father said ( cou%d go into the cottage and eat$ &ow
that we had finished tying up the first part of the gate he
cou%d carry on by himse%f$
8ur cottage isn9t anything specia% around here$ Like a%%
of the others it9s made of watt%e and daub and any
unwanted ho%es in the wa%%s are fi%%ed in with more dry mud$
(t has a thatched roof with a ho%e in it to %et the smoke from
the cooking fire escape$ 4e use some of the beams to hang
up our pots and farm too%s as we%% as our hats and coats$ 0y
father hangs his %arge knife on the back door and ( keep my
%ongbow there as we%% but (9%% te%% you more about that %ater$
:4e%% son how9s the pottageA (s it as good as usua%A=
:&o mother= ( said and shook my head$ )ut ( cou%dn9t
stand watching her face fa%% so ( immediate%y said :(t9s
much better$ &o-one can beat your %eek pottage<=
2he smi%ed and bent down to hug me and ( cou%d sme%%
the sme%% of cooking on her c%othes$
:You said you9ve finished he%ping your pa nowA= she
:Yes he can finish off on his own$ ;e prefers working
that way$=
:2o go and find Tom and "%ice and send them in to eat$
They9re out on the hi%% by the river %ooking after the sheep$=
( didn9t need to be to%d twice$ 5ven though ( %iked doing
everything on the farm everything that is eEcept mi%king
our two cows my favorite way of passing the time was to
sit on the top of Do%%is ;i%% on a sunny day %ike today watch
the sheep gra'ing and ?ust sit think and dream$ ( hurried out
and ten minutes %ater ( saw my younger brother and sister
on the top of the hi%% out%ined against the sky$ They were
sitting on a fa%%en %og watching over our f%ock and p%aying
a chi%dren9s game with some %eaves and pieces of stick$
:Litt%e Tom and "%ice= ( said ruff%ing my younger
sister9s b%onde hair$ :0other wants to feed you now$ 2o you
go home and (9%% stay here$=
:Don9t ca%% me Litt%e Tom= my younger brother said
pushing out his skinny chest$
:(9m Tom and (9m not %itt%e and (9m bigger than Gobert
Thatcher$ Fust 9cos you9re eighteen and a few years o%der
than me you think (9m %itt%e$=
:&o it9s not %ike that$ (t9s ?ust that there are so many
Toms and Thomases around here that we ca%% you Litt%e
Tom$= "nd before he cou%d say anything e%se ( to%d him to
take "%ice and run home$ :0other9s made some good %eek
pottage for you so off you go$=
They ran off scampering rather %ike %itt%e rabbits when
they are at p%ay$ &ow ( was %eft a%one sitting on the top of
the hi%%$ ( %ooked out over the who%e area$ (t was green and
hi%%y fie%ds and woods pasture%and and vi%%ages soft and
p%easant$ To the north ( cou%d see the steep%e of 2t 0ary9s
parish church in ;arrow high up on top of ;arrow ;i%%$
This hi%% was the highest one around here and ( was not
surprised to hear that the "rchbishops of Canterbury had
bought a%% the %and around here perhaps so that they cou%d
a%so en?oy the view which stretched out for mi%es$ 8f course
( a%so knew that they had bought this %and so that they cou%d
earn good money from its farms and mi%%s$
)e%ow me f%owed the Giver )rent$ 2ometimes ( went
fishing there but ( never caught anything worthwhi%e$
8ccasiona%%y ( caught a few stick%ebacks and once ( hooked
a s%imy o%d tunic which someone must have thrown away
but that was the %imit to my %uck with fishing$ 8n the other
side of the river to the south ( cou%d make out the vi%%ages of
&easden and ;ar%esden and ( cou%d a%so see the s3uare
tower of another 2t 0ary9s church B but this was 2t$ 0ary9s
in 4i%%esden$ "nd if ( s3uinted and %ooked hard ( cou%d ?ust
about see the church towers and spires of London some
seven mi%es away from me to the south down there in the
Thames va%%ey$
8f course being a vi%%age boy (9ve never been to these
p%aces but ( do know how to get to London not that that9s
%ike%y to happen$ 8nce our priest had to%d me how to get
:You wa%k east out of the vi%%age unti% you come across
a %ong straight road ahead of you$ (t9s ca%%ed 4at%ing 2treet
and it was bui%t by the Gomans one thousand years ago$=
:8ne thousand years ago<= ( cou%dn9t imagine such a
%ong stretch of time$
:That9s right %ad$ They bui%t it from Dover in the south
to somewhere in the far north-west$ They say it9s over two
hundred and fifty mi%es %ong and it9s as straight as a rod for
the most part$=
:"nd so if ( wanted to go to London once ( got to
4at%ing 2treet ( wou%d have to turn south ( suppose$ To my
:That9s right %ad$ )ut much of it is overgrown now and
there are deep ruts and ho%es in it$ ( can te%% you Davey
those Goman %egions wou%dn9t be ab%e to move their
so%diers a%ong it today as 3uick%y as they did when they first
bui%t it$ )ut if you9d ever want to go to London that9s the
way you9d go$ Down 4at%ing 2treet and then you9d go past
the sett%ements of 4i%%esden and Di%burn$=
( %aughed at the thought of %eaving my vi%%age$ 4hy
shou%d ( ever want to %eave here my vi%%age of Do%%is ;i%%A (
have everything here that (9ve ever needed$ 0y fami%y my
friends my home and of course 0eg my sweetheart$ +(9%%
te%% you about her now but you must promise not to te%%
anybody e%se about her$ "greedA.
4e%% she %ives in the vi%%age on the other side to be
eEact over where Do%%is ;i%% meets the woods$ 2he is
younger than me so that means she is about siEteen and
she9s very pretty$ 2he has %ong %ight-brown hair that is wavy
and shiny and during the spring and summer months she
often decorates it with sma%% f%owers$ 2he is a bit shorter
than me and she9s a%ways smi%ing as if she9s ?ust heard a
funny ?oke or a c%ever ridd%e$ 2he9s got a dimp%e in each
cheek which makes her %ook even more specia% but most of
a%% she9s got these magica% inte%%igent %ooking eyes$ They
are dark brown shining and sharp and they seem to spark%e
especia%%y when she %ooks at me$
( started wa%king out with her %ast year at the harvest
festiva%$ 2he was standing by the church wa%% chatting and
%aughing with some of her friends$ ( don9t know how or
why especia%%y as (9d never done it before but sudden%y (
found myse%f neEt to her asking if she wou%d %ike to ?oin in
the neEt dance on the vi%%age green$
:8f course= she smi%ed$ :( %ove dancing$= Then %eaving
her friends she wa%ked on to the green with me turned
around to face me and curtseyed$ ( bowed as if ( was a nob%e
at court and we ?oined in with the other dancers$ (n fact we
danced a %ot that day near%y a do'en dances before we %eft
the happy rings of peop%e to sit on a sma%% bench behind the
:You are a very good dancer Davey even though
you9re a big %ad for your age= she comp%imented me$ :You
trod on my foot on%y once$=
( b%ushed$ :;ow do you know my name9s DaveyA=
:8h come on now$ 5veryone knows you around here=
she said$ :;ow you work on your father9s farm and how
good you are with a bow and arrow and how you9ve won
%ots of archery competitions$ Don9t you know there are
never any rea% secrets in a vi%%ageA=
That was true and then ( to%d her a few things ( knew
about her and her fami%yC how she was good at sewing how
her father was good at curing sick%y sheep and how her
mother was we%%-known for her pies and cakes$
:Yes= she agreed$ :You a%so know what9s going on
here$ "nd if we9re ta%king about who9s good at doing what
(9ve heard that you can read and write %etters and work with
numbers= she continued taking my rough hands in her
sma%%er smoother ones and stroking the back of them$
:4ho to%d you thatA=
:The priest$ You know he can9t keep his mouth c%osed
inside the church or out$=
:True B he does %ike to give %ong sermons= ( said$ :"nd
yes it is true he has taught me my %etters and how to write
numbers and do simp%e sums$ ( can read but much more
s%ow%y than he does$=
:"h so you9re not ?ust a simp%e farm worker %ike my
brothers after a%%$ Come= she said standing up and pu%%ing
me up at the same time$ :Let9s have another dance or two
before the sun goes down$=
*or these %ast few dances ( had to put my arms around
her waist and then twir% her round and round and then catch
her$ (t gave me a good fee%ing to fee% her smooth and
warmth neEt to me$ 2udden%y at the end of the %ast dance
she %eaned over and kissed me$ ( stepped back in surprise$
:Davey of Do%%is ;i%%= she whispered pu%%ing me c%oser$
:;ave you never been kissed beforeA &ow you kiss me
back$= 2he pushed her pretty face toward me and my %ips
cou%d fee% her sweet softness$ ;er %ips and skin were so
smooth ?ust %ike the peta%s on the pink f%owers near our
2ince then we9ve been sweethearts and our big secret is
that we p%an to get married neEt 5aster$ +)ut remember this
is our secretH we haven9t to%d anyone yet and you have
promised to do the same$.
2o now (9ve to%d you something about 0eg and my
fami%y ( must te%% you about my Inc%e 4i%%$ ;e is my
father9s o%der brother and he often stays with us in the
vi%%age but when he9s not here he9s off on his trave%s which
is 3uite often as he is a pedd%er$ "s we%% as se%%ing pots and
pans he a%so se%%s spices such as gar%ic and pepper$ ;e is
a%so very good at mending chairs and tab%es and anything
e%se made of wood$ 4hen he %eaves our cottage he9s a%ways
%oaded down %ike a packhorse with things to se%% but this
never bothers him$ ;e a%ways te%%s us not to worry because
he9%% se%% it a%% and then come back with a pouch fu%% of
money instead$
)ut the best thing about my Inc%e 4i%% is that he a%ways
knows about what is happening outside our vi%%age$ ;e9s
been to London so many times and the %ast time he was
there he saw the king B the fifth Ding ;enry<
:4hat9s he %ikeA= ( asked when he returned a few days
ago$ :4as he wearing a big crown fu%% of ?ewe%sA 4as he
carrying a big swordA 4ere a%% his nob%es with himA Did
:4hoa s%ow down$ 8ne 3uestion at a time %ad= 4i%%
%aughed$ :&o he wasn9t wearing a big crown ?ust a sma%%
one a circ%et ( think it9s ca%%ed$ The big ones are ?ust for
processions and grand occasions$ "nd he wasn9t wearing a
big sword eitherH in fact he was wearing no sword at a%% B
big or sma%%$=
:)ut what if someone attacked himA 4hat wou%d he do
:*ear not young Davey$ There are a%ways armed guards
around wherever he goes and besides no one wou%d be so
foo%ish as to attack him$ ;e9s a popu%ar king and the
Londoners %ike and respect him$ They say he9s a firm but
fair ru%er$ Gemember he9s not %ike his father$$$=
:The fourth Ding ;enryA=
:That9s right %ad$ This one seems to be a good Christian
fe%%ow and$$$=
:4e%% what does he %ook %ikeA=
:(t9s a shame ( cannot draw you a %ikeness so you9%%
have to use your imagination$ ;mm %et me see$ ;e9s the
usua% height for a man of his age$ ;e9s twenty-eight years
o%d now and everyone says that he9s a good-%ooking fe%%ow$
&ot fat and with chins %ike his father and not with his
father9s spotty skin either$ ;e9s got thick dark-brown hair
maybe a bit %ike yours and he wears it cut %ike a mushroom$
;e9s got a ruddy face and a straight nose$ 2ome peop%e say
that he used to be 3uite a mischief-maker when he was a
young %ad$ They ca%%ed him !rince ;a% then$ )ut since he
became king two years ago he9s become very serious and
responsib%e$ (n fact ( wou%d say$$$=
:"nd is he brave unc%eA (s he %ike a genera%A (s he a
good warriorA=
:Yes (9d say so$ ;e9s been fighting for years now even
though he isn9t very o%d$ ;e9s been a rea% so%dier and
commander for these past ten years or so$=
:That means he was a commander when he was about
my ageA=
:That9s right$ ;e was fighting with his father against
that ;otspur rebe% and his men at 2hrewsburyJ=
:4here9s thatA=
:8h somewhere near the 4e%sh border$ "nyway
;enry our present king that is was wounded in the face by
an arrow$ )ut did that stop himA 8h no$ ;e continued
fighting and %eading his men and in the end the fourth
Ding ;enry B that is his father B won$ "h and another
thing$ This ;otspur fe%%ow was a%so hit in the face by an
arrow but he wasn9t so %ucky$ (t ki%%ed him$ "nyway after
that the batt%e was soon over$ 4hen ;otspur9s men saw
that their %eader had been ki%%ed they ?ust stopped fighting
and ran away$ 8f course there were the usua% scenes of
ki%%ing the enemy9s so%diers who were sti%% wounded and
%ooking for %oot and then of course burying the dead in %arge
:"nd eEecutions of course$=
:8f course$ The rebe% %eaders were eEecuted and a%%
their %ands and properties were confiscated$ &o doubt the
king he%ped himse%f to some of those and gave the rest to
his chief supporters$ "nd did you know that one of the
rebe%s who was eEecuted was the "rchbishop of YorkA You
see he9d given the rebe%s a %ot of he%p and the king thought
that this was too much and so he decided to make an
eEamp%e of him$=
:)ut unc%e B to eEecute an archbishop< 4asn9t that
going too farA=
:4e%% %ad maybe you9re right and that9s what a %ot of
peop%e at the time a%so thought$ They were rea%%y shocked
by this$ 2o when the fourth Ding ;enry was struck down a
few years %ater by some horrib%e disease something %ike
%eprosy they said it was a punishment from 7od$=
:(9m not surprised$ "nd was that the end of the
:0ore or %ess$ There was sti%% a bit more fighting in
2cot%and and 4a%es but nothing %ike that batt%e in
2hrewsbury$ That was a rea%%y b%oody batt%e$ 2ome peop%e
say that about two thousand men were ki%%ed$ "nyway that
Ding ;enry the fourth one that is died ten years %ater so
his son the fifth Ding ;enry became our king the king we
have today$=
:The one you saw in LondonA=
:That9s right$ "nd a brave king he is too$ Can you
imagine yourse%f commanding hundreds of men at your age
and on a batt%efie%d tooA=
:&o Inc%e 4i%%$ That ( can9t$ ( cannot even imagine
myse%f serving as an ordinary so%dier$ ( know (9m good with
a bow and arrow and that ( shot that sheep stea%er %ast year B
but me a so%dierA "n archer in the king9s armyA &o unc%e
that9s not for me<=
)ut how wrong ( was$ Time and fate were soon to prove
there was a %ot of truth in that o%d saying :0an proposes
7od disposes$= "nd it was to happen much sooner than
anyone cou%d guess$
Chapter Two
The $all to %rms
No& all the youth of 'ngland are on fire"
" few days after Inc%e 4i%% had to%d me about the fourth
Ding ;enry and the batt%e at 2hrewsbury ( went to the %oca%
market with my father and younger brother$ 0y mother
stayed home to make some cheese and %itt%e "%ice decided
to stay home with her to %earn something new$ 8f course (
wou%d have %iked to go together with 0eg but ( didn9t want
anyone to know about her yet so ( ?ust hoped that ( wou%d
be %ucky and meet her in the market$
4e had a good time there$ 0y father was p%eased that
he was ab%e to se%% some eggs onions and cabbages for a
good price$ Then he met an o%d friend and the two of them
went off to the tavern to have a drink of a%e and ta%k about
o%d times$ ;e took Tom with him after my young brother
had promised he wou%dn9t disturb the two men$ )ut this was
after Tom in his turn had made my father promise to buy
him a toy wooden horse and rider as a present$ Lucki%y ?ust
before my father set off with his o%d friend ( saw 0eg with
her mother$ They were standing near the churchyard ?ust
beyond the gravestones$ ( managed to attract 0eg9s
attention without her mother seeing me and ( gave her a
sign to sneak off$ 2he succeeded and we met behind an o%d
broken down cottage where we hugged each other and
eEchanged a few kisses$
2udden%y she broke off$ :Kuick Davey ( must get
back= she said in a f%ustered voice$ :0y mother wi%% be
%ooking for me$=
:Yes= ( admitted %etting go of her hand$ :0y father
wi%% be %ooking for me as we%%$ ( know he doesn9t want to
spend too much time in the tavern$ ;e wants to get home
soon because he wants to finish off some work on the farm
before sunset$=
:Yes and my mother wants me to he%p her choose a
piece of c%oth for a skirt so (9d better be running a%ong as
:4e%% (9%% on%y %et you go if you give me another kiss$=
2o after another kiss and a hug we both went our separate
ways and soon ( was in the tavern with my father and Tom$
They were sitting at a wooden tab%e with four or five other
men and the sme%% of a%e was heavy in the air$ They were
discussing po%itics or :the affairs of state= as my father
%iked to ca%% it$ ;e a%ways en?oyed these meetings with his
friends because Inc%e 4i%% kept him we%% informed about
what was happening in the big wide wor%d beyond our
vi%%age$ ;e wou%d sit there te%%ing the others what 4i%% had
to%d him and his friends wou%d %ap up these morse%s as if my
father was a priest te%%ing them about the ;o%y )ib%e$
:2o (9m te%%ing you= my father was saying as he %eaned
over the tab%e$ :There9s going to be a war with *rance soon$
Fust you mark my words$=
:4hat another oneA= answered a fat man with a bright
red face$ :;aven9t we beaten them enough times in the
:Too true= someone %aughed$
:"ye we beat them at Crecy under the third Ding
5dward= my father said$
:True but that was seventy years ago= the fat man said
ho%ding out his pudgy hand for another tankard of a%e$
:"ye and then we had the )%ack !rince fighting on our
:That9s right= ( added$ :"nd we rea%%y hammered those
*renchies then$=
0y father %ooked at me proud%y$ ;e was p%eased when (
cou%d ?oin in these conversations$ ;e said it was a sign that (
was growing up$ ( continued$ :Yes and the kings of
)ohemia and 0a?orca were ki%%ed as we%%$ Those
*renchmen didn9t stand a chance against our 5ng%ish
:4e%sh= my father corrected me$ :0any of them were
4e%sh$ )ut no matter %ad 4e sti%% beat those *renchies$=
:"ye but they didn9t %earn their %esson either$ Ten years
%ater we beat them again at !otty$$$=
:"t !oitiers= the fat man said$ :!oitiers$ (t9s a%so in
*rance$ 2outh of !aris ( think$=
:True enough$ "nd again we hammered a much bigger
*rench army$ That Ding 5dward and his )%ack !rince
certain%y knew how to fight$=
:4e%% you cannot say that about the *rench= my father
said$ :Their Ding Fohn and his son !hi%ip ended up being
our prisoners$=
:That9s true= ( added$ :"nd with %ots of his knights as
we%%$ You know ( bet some peop%e got a great dea% of
ransom money after that$ (t was ?ust %ike the batt%e of Crecy
a%% over again$=
:4hat do you mean 5ng%ish archers against *rench
knightsA= the fat man9s friend asked$
:Yes that9s right= ( said and took a sip of my father9s
:"nd do you think that those *rench %earned after that
second batt%eA= my father said %ooking around$ :8h no$
They certain%y didn9t$ " few years %ater their neEt king
Ding Char%es the *ifth ( be%ieve he was ca%%ed invaded our
5ng%ish territory of "3uitaine and then we were a%% at it
:"ye you9re right there= the fat man said$ :0y
grandfather was a so%dier then and he a%most %ost his right
arm in that fight$=
:4e%% anyway it was the king9s son who did it= my
father said$
:4hich king9s son and who did whatA= a sma%% man
said who had come to ?oin us asked$
:The third Ding 5dward9s son Fohn of 7aunt= my
father said as if it was obvious to everyone$ :;e went
through *rance %ike a hot knife goes through butter$
Chopped and s%iced his way a%% the way through *rance$
*rom the north to the south$ *rom Ca%ais to )ordeauE$ (f
you were *rench in those days it wou%d have been best to
stay out of his way that is if you wanted to stay a%ive and
not have your house burned down around your ears$=
:4e%% what you say may be true Fack but it didn9t stop
them *rench from trying to invade us thirty years ago did
:True but then they had the brains to give up that idea
before they started and go home again$=
:"ye= the fat man said finishing off his tankard and
wondering if he shou%d order another$ :"%% ( can say is that
it9s a good thing we %ive on an is%and and that a%% the
fighting took p%ace over there in *rance$ *ighting9s a bad
thing$ ( saw some near 2hrewsbury over ten years ago and
that9s what made me decide to become a farmer and not a
:" fat farmer= someone %aughed$ :( can9t see you being
a so%dier anyway$ You %ike your food and drink too much$=
:True= someone added$ :You can9t fight if you9re fat$
&ot even your wife<=
:Let9s %eave my wife out of this= the fat man rep%ied
with a smi%e$ :2he9s a good woman$=
:2he must be$ To feed and put up with you= his friend
:"nyway enough of this my friends= my father
announced getting up from the tab%e$ :(9ve got work to
finish off at the farm and ( can9t sit around drinking with
you id%e fe%%ows a%% day<= he said with a wink$ :Come
Davey$ Come Tom$ (t9s time to go$ Your mother wi%% be
wondering what9s happened to us$=
( was p%eased to go$ Litt%e Tom had offered to he%p my
father with some of the easier ?obs on the farm and ( wanted
to practise my archery$ ( knew that ( was pretty good at it
but ( a%so knew that :practice makes perfect$=
That summer evening ( was shooting arrows at a straw
dummy set up by a fence behind our cottage$ ( had taken my
bow out of its %ong bag and had carefu%%y %ooped the
bowstring over its top end$ Then ( bent the bow using my
foot to stop it s%ipping away and %ooped the other end of the
bowstring around the %ower nock the groove at the bottom$
0y bow was as ta%% as me and made of good yew wood$ (
then p%anted a do'en bodkin-pointed arrows in the soft
ground in front of me$ Then as 3uick%y as ( cou%d ( picked
up each arrow in turn and %et f%y$ Ten arrows hit the dummy
in the head and the be%%yH one hung %oose on the %ower part
of the %eg and the %ast one went wi%d and was somewhere in
the %ong grass in our neighbour9s fie%d$ Lost$
( was fee%ing pretty p%eased with myse%f when ( rea%ised
that ( was not a%one$ ( turned around and saw )ig Tom
standing behind me$ 4e ca%% him that so we don9t miE him
up with my young brother$ "%though he is two years o%der
than me we have been friends since ( was a sma%% kid when
he had carried me home one day after ( had fa%%en out of a
tree and twisted my %eg and cut my face$ ;e was %ooking at
me approving%y and c%apped his hands$
:You9re a good shot Davey$ (9%% grant you that$ The king
wi%% be p%eased with you %ad$=
:4hat kingA !%eased with whatA=
Then )ig Tom to%d me his news$
:Davey= he said :(9m ?oining the army< (9m going to
fight for the king< (9m going to London tomorrow< (magine
that< 0e fighting for the king and going to London as we%%<=
:2top< 2top<= ( said ho%ding him$ :Fust s%ow down a
minute and te%% me what9s happening$ 4hy are you ?oining
the army and who are you going to fightA=
:The *rench of course$=
:4hy the *renchA 4hat have they done nowA=
:(t9s not what they9ve done %ad it9s what we9re going to
do to them<= he rep%ied$
:;ere= ( said$ :2it down and te%% me a%% about it$=
:"%% right Davey it9s %ike this$= )ig Tom sat himse%f
down on a %og stretched out his %ong %egs took a deep
breath and started to te%% me$
;e to%d me of how a messenger a s3uire he thought
had come down to the few cottages where he %ived near the
Giver )rent and had said that he needed a score of men
preferab%y strong ones who were good archers who wou%d
?oin the king9s army$ They wou%d a%% be we%% paid and that
there was a chance of coming back with a %ot of booty as
:)ut why does our Ding ;enry want to fight the *rench
at a%%A= ( asked$ :"ren9t we now at peace with themA=
:( know Davey$ (9ve heard that one before$ )ut there9s
a rumour that the *rench think that our king is soft and
weak and that there9s this story that they sent him a boE of
tennis ba%%s as a present$=
:Tennis ba%%sA 4hat sort of present is thatA=
:Don9t you get it %adA (t9s not a present it9s an insu%t$
They think that because he is young and has been king for
on%y two years a%% he9s interested in is %adies at court and
sport$ "nd indoor sports to boot$ They said it was better for
him to p%ay tennis and dance with the %adies than to be
interested in going to war with them$=
:(s this a true story TomA "bout the tennis ba%%s (
:( don9t know Davey$ (9m on%y te%%ing you what the
messenger to%d me$ ;e said that the king threw the *rench
ambassador out and said that he wou%d use gunstones
against the *rench instead and not tennis ba%%s$=
:4e%% ( can see that the king wou%d have been insu%ted
by a%% that if what you and the messenger say is true but
why does the king want to attack *rance anywayA Fust
because he was insu%tedA 2ure%y he shou%d act as a true
Christian as our parish priest wou%d say and turn the other
:( know ( know= Tom said getting up to stretch his
%egs$ :)ut the messenger said more$=
:4hy what did he sayA=
:;e said that the king thinks it9s about time he took
contro% of his o%d %ands in *rance again$=
:4hich %andsA=
:8h Davey$ You don9t know much do youA ( thought
your Inc%e 4i%% te%%s you everything$=
:4e%% it seems that he didn9t te%% me about that$=
:4e%% Davey it seems that the *rench have overrun
some of the %ands that the king says are right%y his$ You
know %ands in northern *rance and &ormandy that the
Dings of 5ng%and have had since the time of 4i%%iam the
:"nd now he wants them backA=
:"ye$ "nd to do so he9s taking an army with him$ "nd
(9m going to be in it$ (9%% come home rich$$$=
:8r dead$=
)ig Tom ignored this %ast remark and continued$ :(9%%
have money and ?ewe%%ery and then ( can marry my Fu%iet$
Think of that Davey$ Foin me and then you9%% have enough
money to marry your 0eg$=
:0egA 0egA= ( b%ustered$ :4hat 0egA=
:8h come now Davey$ 5veryone knows you are sweet
on 0eg$ Don9t forget my friend you %ive in a sma%% vi%%age
where everyone knows about everyone e%se$ (f ( Tom can
know what9s happening in London and at the king9s court
to boot then to know what is happening here in Do%%is ;i%%
cannot rea%%y be a prob%em now can itA=
( had to admit that he was right$ "nd at the same time (
was thinking about having enough money to marry 0eg$
4hat a way to start %ife B as a farmer who owned his own
farm$ 8r at %east his own cottage$ 2ince the )%ack Death had
wiped out who%e vi%%ages and farms farmers now had more
power to get what they wanted than in the past$ To own my
own farm was no %onger a dream$ ( wou%d not have to ask
my parents for he%p$ (t was too good to be true<
)ut now Tom9s words had rea%%y miEed me up$ 0y
brain was racing round and round$ Fust %ike the way my
mother churned up the mi%k to make cream and butter$ 8n
the one hand becoming a so%dier and returning with
pouches fu%% of money and ?ewe%%ery for my dear 0eg was a
dream come true$ 0e Davey of Do%%is ;i%% a so%dier and a
hero returning from the war with pouches fu%% of go%d coins
and trinkets<
)ut on the other hand ( might get ki%%ed or even worse$
( might end up bad%y wounded and come home without an
arm or %eg$ ( certain%y didn9t want to end up %ike the o%d
so%dier who sat outside our vi%%age tavern every day begging
for a%ms$ 0y father had to%d me that he9d %ost a %eg and
received a deep disfiguring gash down the right side of his
face fighting at the )att%e of 2hrewsbury ten years ago$
:"nd you know what %adA ;e doesn9t even remember
which side he was fighting on$ )ut he thinks it was the
king9s side$ That9s what fighting in a king9s batt%e can do to
you$ ;e ?ust said he remembered a %ot of noise and shouting
and then he found himse%f %ying in a muddy ditch near a
church$ "fter he9d managed to pu%% himse%f out he dragged
himse%f away then passed out again$=
:"nd what happened to his %egA=
:4e%% when he woke up he was %ying on a tab%e in
some church bui%ding without it$ ;e doesn9t know what
happened to it if he %ost it in the batt%e or afterwards$
"nyway my son= my father had said :that9s often what
happened to so%diers be they fighting for the king or be
they rebe%s$ 4hen you fight you may be a hero and
everyone wants to know you but when you9re a use%ess
inva%id no one wants to know you and you end up as a poor
beggar instead$=
"nd ?ust as ( was sitting on the o%d %og thinking about
the so%dier who was now begging for a%ms outside the
tavern the sun burst out from behind the c%ouds and burned
out the dark thoughts from my mind$
That was it< ( &as going to be a so%dier and fight for the
king< ( knew ( was strong and cou%d hand%e a sword
batt%eaEe or %ongbow without any prob%ems$ "%% ( had to do
now was to te%% my parents of my decision$ "nd 0eg of
course$ ( knew that there wou%d be arguments and strong
words$ 0y mother and 0eg wou%d cry and beg me to
change my mind but ( wou%d stand firm$ ( &ould go to
London on the morrow with )ig Tom$
( was right$ That night as the sun was setting ( to%d my
parents of my p%ans$ 0y father started te%%ing me of the
dangers of war and how wou%d ( %ike to end up %ike the
beggar at the tavern that is if ( wasn9t ki%%ed in batt%e$ 0y
mother ?ust sat there saying nothing ho%ding her hands
tight%y together$ Then sudden%y she started crying$
:&o no Davey$ You mustn9t go$ You mustn9t go= she
kept saying to herse%f$ Then she took my hands and he%d
them fast as if by doing so she wou%d be ab%e to keep me
safe at home by her side forever$
)ut ( was determined to go$ ( to%d them that ( was strong
and knew how to %ook after myse%f$
:( know a%% that= my father said 3uiet%y$ :)ut up to now
you9ve never had to fight other men armed with swords and
daggers have youA=
( had to agree with him for he was speaking the truth$
)ut ( didn9t %et this put me off$ ( to%d them about 0eg and
my mother asked me if ( thought that she wou%d marry me if
( came back %ooking %ike the beggar at the tavern with a
hideous%y gashed and %opsided face$
:&ow you9re a good-%ooking %ad who can do a good
day9s work= she said between sobs$ :Do you want to spend
the rest of your days being pitied and peop%e not %ooking at
you because of your woundsA=
( was si%ent$ There was nothing ( cou%d say in answer to
this$ ( ?ust c%enched my fists$
:Gemember= my mother added$ &ot everyone in this
wor%d is a good and Christian sou%$ They9%% not remember
why you9%% be %ooking %ike that poor beggar$ They9%% ?ust
move out of your way and %ook away$=
:"ye %ad$ 8r ?ust throw you a coin to c%ear their
consciences= my father said$
:)ut father= my brother interrupted$ :Davey wi%% be
fighting for the king<=
:>ery true my boy$ "nd do you think the king wi%%
thank him for itA Do you think he9%% make our Davey a
knight or give him a fine horseA 8h no my %ad$ "s soon as
the fighting9s over the king and his %ords that is if they are
sti%% a%ive wi%% be rushing back to London to p%an their neEt
war$ "nd do you think they9%% be worrying about our
DaveyA 8h no< They9%% be off again %ooking for more %oot
and g%ory$ Fust you see$ That9s the way of the wor%d my son$
There9s one %aw for the rich and another for the poor$ The
knights wi%% come home on their horses with sack%oads of
%oot and the poor o%d foot so%diers and archers wi%% have to
make their own way home as best as they can$ You
remember what ( to%d you about my o%der brother GobertA=
There was si%ence$ 4e a%% knew the story$ *ather had
to%d it often enough how Gobert had been bad%y wounded in
a fight in &ormandy *rance$ ;e9d been a so%dier in the
Duke of C%arence9s army and had been ambushed
somewhere in a forest$ The attackers had %eft him for dead$
*ortunate%y they hadn9t made sure he rea%%y was that is by
running their swords though him as he was %ying on the
" few hours after the *rench had %eft Inc%e Gobert
started heading north and it took him 3uite a %ong time to
reach the coast$ ;e had to wa%k of course or rather %imp as
a deep sword s%ash on his right %eg had become infected$ ;e
a%so had to move at night as he didn9t want to meet any of
the %oca% *rench vi%%agers on the way$ The on%y *rench
words he knew were bon(our and bon which mean Lgood
day9 and Lgood$9
To stay a%ive he sto%e fruit from orchards and food that
peop%e had thrown out$ "t one point he was so hungry that
he even took food from a pigsty< 5ventua%%y he reached a
sma%% port where he was %ucky$ "fter waiting around for a
coup%e of days he found a merchant and begged him to take
him back to 5ng%and$
Then when he arrived at Dover he had to %imp home in
most%y rainy weather$ The on%y time he had a ride was when
he was %imping through 0aidstone in Dent where a carter
took pity on him and %et him ride on his cart for about ten
mi%es$ "t %ast he arrived home as weak as a newborn %amb$
;e then began coughing up b%ood and died two weeks %ater$
;e was buried in the graveyard at 2t Catherine9s church$
)ut ( decided that none of this wou%d stop me$ ( was
determined to go and ( %et my parents know it$ 0y mother
started crying and wringing her hands again and my father
?ust sat there saying nothing$ ;e knew he had tried to make
me change my mind and had fai%ed$ ;e ?ust %ooked down at
the f%oor$ 0y brother %ooked at me with a miEture of
admiration and ?ea%ousy in his eyes whi%e %itt%e "%ice ?ust
snugg%ed up to my mother and hid herse%f in her soft skirt$
( got up and %ooked around$ ( then wa%ked over to the
door without saying anything and set out for 0eg9s cottage$
(t was the first time (9d ever done that$ Fust got up and
wa%ked out$ 2he must have seen me coming for she was
waiting outside her front door by the vegetab%e garden$
4ithout saying anything ( took her by the hand and we
wa%ked up to the c%ump of trees a %itt%e way away from her
cottage$ Then before she cou%d say anything ( took ho%d of
both of her hands and to%d her everything$ 2he didn9t say a
word for a few moments$ 2he ?ust %ooked at me with those
great big dark brown eyes of hers and he%d my hands even
tighter$ Then she put my hand to her cheek and sudden%y
kissed me hard on the %ips$
)efore ( cou%d do or say anything she had broken away
from me and had run ha%fway back to the cottage$ 2he
stopped for a moment turned her head and ca%%ed out
:7ood %uck$ 7od be with you$= 2he ran to the cottage and
went inside without %ooking back again$ ( wa%ked s%ow%y
back to her front door and stopped$ ( waited for a few
minutes and heard her crying and then ( heard her parents
saying something but ( cou%dn9t make out the words$ 2eeing
there was nothing e%se ( cou%d do or say ( s%ow%y made my
way home$
!erhaps to put off seeing my parents again ( wa%ked
home by the %ong way$ "%ong the banks of the stream which
f%owed into the )rent and then skirted the woods on the far
side of Do%%is ;i%%$ )y the time ( got home everyone was
as%eep$ ( cou%d hear my father9s regu%ar heavy snoring and
my brother9s %ight breathing$ 4hen wou%d ( hear these
noises againA ( asked myse%f$ ( was too eEcited to s%eep and
so ( went out and sat down on the broken tree stump by the
front door$ 4ou%d ( come home a rich hero or as a broken
wreck %ike Inc%e Gobert or the beggar by the tavernA 4ou%d
( fight we%% or wou%d ( try and f%ee at the first chanceA
4ou%d the king notice me or wou%d ( ?ust be one of the
thousands of archers on the batt%efie%dA
( sat outside for about an hour thinking a%% the thoughts
so%diers had a%ways thought over the centuries before going
off to war$ 4ou%d ( be brave or wou%d ( be a cowardA
4ou%d ( stand and fight or wou%d ( run %ike a frightened
rabbitA 4ou%d ( be any good with my %ongbowA Did ( have
it in me to face the enemy and ki%% himA 8n%y time wou%d
answer these 3uestions$ ( got up %ooked up at the stars and
went inside$ The %ast thought ( had in my head that night
was that tomorrow morning when ( %eft home and c%osed the
door behind me was that it may be for the very %ast time$