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* Then,” said De Rupe, after pausing again for some time, “there is but one plan, and that is to offer myself to do battle with axe and sword against Sir William Cantoun for the hand of thy daughter !"
“ It is a brave plan,” said the baron, “and one that well befits thy father's son.
But I have sworn by my knightly word, no matter what haps, to let my daughter choose for herself. If she choose thee for a hustand, then I give my consent to the trial by combat, and I doubt not but Cantoun will accept of thy challenge ; for whatever else he may be, he assuredly is brave! I will call my daughter, and do thou propose thy plan to her thyself."
The beautiful Amy Flemming was again brought into the hall.
“Fair lady,” said De Rupe, " I would wish to woo thee in another and more befitting way, but cannot, as thou seest. Wilt thou consent that I shonld do battle with Sir William Cantoun for thy hand ?
With thy bright eyes to look upon me in the struggle, I hope to do my devoir as becomes a knight, and free thy father from his worst foe !"
Amy scanned the fine face and fair proportions of the young knight with a pleased eye. There was but little time for deliberation, for even then they heard the foe hammering at the gate.
“Yes,” she said, while a blush of maiden modesty mantled her beautiful face. “My father is now brought to sore distress. An thou relieve him and me from our foe, I will be thy bride !"
That night, notwithstanding the sal case of the besieged, a merry revel was held in the hall of Glanworth castle. The fair Amy sat at the board, and as she talked to the young De Rupe, her licart confirmed the consent she was forced to give so suddenly the preceding evening. The next morning sun shone gaily down upon the many bright objects around the castle—the polished armour of the knights as they stalked to and fro, directing the movements of the besiegers, the waving banners on plain and tower, the light lances of the kern, and the ponderous swords, bucklers, and batıle-axes of the heavy footmen, who were now gathering in a mass with scaling-ladders to make a final attack upon the besieged. At this juncture a white flag was suddenly raised from the highest tower of the barbacan, and its appearance canseti for a moment a suspension of hosii. Jities on both sides. Immediately after, a herald rode forth from the gate, and demanded to be brought into the presence of the baron of Cloghlea.
“ Sir William Cantoun," said the herald, “I come to offer thee single combat on the part of Richard de Rupe, good knight and true, now in the castle, for the hand of the lady Anny!"
“ And what if I refuse ?” answered the knight of Cloghlea, with a grim smile. 6. The castle, father and daughter, champion and all, will be soon in my hands without the trouble of trial by combat.”
“ Then,” said the berald, “Sir Richard de Rupe bids une say that he will proclaim thee recreant and coward
through all the lands of Christendom, and fal:e to thy badge of knighthood !"
" That were indeed a hard alternative,” answered Cantono. “ But it shall never be said that William of Cloghlea refused the challenge of any mortal man. I accept thy defiance, sir herald, and will meet him at noon with axe and sword, on foot, on this very spot, and in sight of all !"
Noon came, and saw the besiegers all gathering round a level spot outside the barbacan gate of Glanworth, and the besieged with eager faces crowding on the walls to witness the combat, while the beautiful Amy sat with her maids at a high turret window that overlooked the scene, her face pale and her heart throbbing, and her white hands clasped in prayer for the success of her young and gallant champion. What must have been her feelings when at length she saw the two adversarics approach each other warily, under cover of their broad shields, each with axe in band, poised, and ready to begin the combat.
And now the axes were crossed, and again came down for some time alternately, with loud clanging upon the interposeil shields. Hotter and hotter grew the combat, till at last the axe of De Rupe crashed in throngh the shoulder-plate of Cantoun, making the blood flow out upon his arm and breast. This aroused the full fury of Sir William Cantoun, who was one of the most celebrated knights of his time for strength and prowess. He raised his axe snddenly as if about to deliver a heavy blow upon the hip of de Rupe, but changing the direction of the stroke, the ponderous weapon came clown with full force upon the helmet of his antagonist, making him reel backward a few paces, and at length fall to the ground over the body of a dead archer that lay behind bim. Now this archer had been slain in the very act of poising his cross-bow, which lay beside him drawn, and with the arrow in, under the very hand of De Rupe as he fell.
Whether it was according to the laws of single combat on the part of De Rupe, we will not say, but as he fell he grasped the drawn crossbow in his hand, raised it as he half lay upon the ground, and discharged it at his adversary as he allvanced to despatch him, piercing him with the arrow through one of the joints of his armour. The arrow entered Sir William Cantoun's left side, and pierced in an upward direction through his heart, on which he fell heavily to the ground, and in a few moments expired. His body was borne away with loud lamentations by his sorrowing vassals, O'Keeffe and the other chieftain departed with their followers, and Sir William Flemming was left once more in peaceable possession of his castle and domains. The lovely Amy and her young champion were soon after married. The young knights assisted at the bridal ceremony, and wondered at, and laughed heartily over the good fortune of their leader.
“ By my fay!” said Sir Gilbert Ridenfordd to Cantemar, his brother-in-arms, after they had danced a few merry measures down the great hall—“I told thee this was an enchanted land. I will ride forth to-morrow in quest of an adventure for myself, and try and win a fair bride like our leader!”
Amy was the sole heiress of Sir William Flemming, and at his death her husband, in her right, succeeded to the possession of the fair territory of Fermoy, which was in his lifetime raised to a lordship. And thus Sir Richard de Rupe or Roche, won those fertile lands, and became the first lord of Fermoy, and the progenitor of a long line of barons distinguished for their princely hospitality, their prowess, and often for their patriotic devotedness to the cause of their native land.
The above relation, from its romantic character, may to many readers appear untrue, yet it can be established by indubitable historical testimony. In the tumultuous times that succeeded the Norman conquest, such incidents were not at all rare, both in this country and in England. When some rich and powerful baron died, for instance, leaving an only daughter as heiress to his possessions, it was not an unusual thing for the English king to take the lady under his protection, and give her, whether she liked it or not, in marriage to one of his favourite nobles. But when more than one of these favourites contended for the lady's hand, the king, instead of disposing of the matter himself, often left the settlement of it to a trial of battle between the rival nobles, the lady thus becoming the bride of him who wielded the best lance in the tourney yard. Instances are also related, where some old Norman, in the decline of his days, proclaimed publicly throughout the land, by mouth of herald, his intention of bestowing his territories and the hand of his daughter, upon the knight who should prove himself victorious over all competitors. Then, from end to end of England, from Ireland, Scotland, and even from the continent, knight after knight came to the place appointed for the tournament, which in every instance ended in the marriage of the victor to the young heiress, with very little regard indeed to the feelings or the affections of the latter. It was well for them when the triumphant champions proved to be those chosen by their own hearts, as Sir Richard de Rupe did with regard to the beautiful Amy Flemming.
Pass we now over a period of some centuries, during which the successive lords of Fermoy lived, loved, fought, and died within their fair territory, like brave NormanIrish nobles as they were, till we come to that stormy time when this country and the sister island groaned beneath the iron rule of the victorious usurper, Cromwell. Maurice, eighth viscount Fermoy, was at this time a man in the prime of life. His father David, after suffering severely in the great Desmond insurrection of 1598, was recompensed for his losses in the succeeding reign. Several large grants of land, partly from the forfeited estates of the earl of Desmond, were given him by James the First, and living peaceably for a long period in his ancestral home, he at length became one of the richest noblemen in Ireland. After the accession of the unfortunate Charles to the throne of England, and the
breaking out of the great insurrection of 1641 in Ireland, this David retired to France with his family, and a regiment he had raised within his own territory, and there died, leaving his estates, worth, it is said, fifty thousand pounds yearly, to his eldest son Maurice, the eighth lord of Feimoy.
The estates to which Maurice succeeded were, however, in a very insecure position from the sad state of the country at the time. North and south, east and west, the baleful fires of war were glaring redly throughout the land. Sanctimonious Puritan, hot-headed native chief, and cautious noble of the Pale, were then battling with savage ferocity, some for the rebellious Parliament, some for the weal of their native land, some for the unfortunate King Charles, and a great many, with sorrow be it said, for themselves, and for their own aggrandizement.
Among those that held stoutly and faithfully to the last, to the colours of both king and country, was Maurice of Fermoy. When the oppressed Catholics at length banded together, formed the confederation, and sent their deputies to Kilkevny to redress their wrongs, Viscount Fermoy took his place in the parliament then formed among the peers, while several gentlemen of his own name attended the commons. This was in the stormy
After the breaking up of the confederation, Viscount Fermoy, with many of the gentlemen of his hou-e, again took up arms against Cromwell and his generals; but gained by his loyalty only defeat and forfeiture. He and most of his relations were out. lawed, and
" When all was done that man could do,
And all was done in vain," he filed an outlawed man to Flanders, and thus lost the castled home and fair patrimony won so gallantly by
is great ancestor, Sir Richard de Rupe. We will follow him a little further, however, and show how faithfully he still adhered to his unscrupulous monarch, and how he was rewarded for his devotedness.
In a somewhat small room in an ancient Flemish town, towards the close of the last year of King Charles Il's. banishment, that monarch sat with a few of his exiled nobles around a table, on one end of which were arranged the materials for a supper. Charles and his comrades at this time led a somewhat rakish life, notwithstanding their poverty and their many troubles. On the evening in question, he and two of his favourites were sitting at the head of the table, and deeply engaged in a game, then very fashionable, namely, primero. A small heap of gold coins was placed before each of the players, while another—the stake-lay at the foot of the little lamp that gave them light for their game. A jovial smile played over the features of the “5
merry monarch," as he raised the last card of his deal, and threw it triumphantly upon those of his companions.
“ Ha!” he exclaimed, laughing, two hearts_two hearts, and my bonnie ace, upon their necks! By my sovereign word, an' I win this, I shall be a second The cards were removed by one of the young
noblemen, and the king and his companions were seated innocently at supper as the stranger entered. The latter was muffled in the long military cloak of the period, and as he stepped over respectfully and dropped on his one knee before the king, the young noblemen could not help casting a glance of approval at each other at his stately bearing, tall figure, and handsome bronzed
Cræsus ere the morning! The game is mine !" and he swept the stake over to his side.
“My lord,” said one of the players, smiling, “ fortune seems to smile continually upon thy head to-night. And touching that same golden monarch your majesty was pleased to name just now; had we him here, thon wert sure to succeed to his treasures. But with us poor spendthrifts, thou wilt not be much richer an thou win all our store !"
“ By my father's wise head, no!” said the monarch, glancing at the diminutive heaps of gold. “But, come, another game, and a fig for dame Fortune, that will not stand to me in sterner play than this !” and he took up the cards, and began shuffling and dealing them with no inexpert hand.
Game after game now, lowever, went against the monarch. The heap of gold, whose size he had augmented in the beginning of the evening, now began to dwindle away gradually, till at last he was reduced to one solitary coin. The cards were dealt once more, and began to fly down quickly upon the table.
Now, for a dash in dame Fortune's face!" said the king, as he held again his last card in his hand, and threw it—"ha! by my kingly hand, lost-lost!” con. tinued he, as he saw the game go against him. “ And now, to borrow—to borrow, who will lend ?”
“Borrow and beg!” exclaimed the young nobleman to his left, with a careless laugh, “ by my knightly word, but they are trades we are all expert in now-ddays. I will become your majesty's treasurer for the present, and unlike the stubborn, crop-eared parliament, supply thy wants to the uttermost of my poor means ;" and he commenced to hand over the greater part of his supply to the king. At that moment a lackey entered the apartment, and stood respectfully near the door.
“Ha! Hilson, what now ?” said the king, after arranging the little heap of gold before him.
“Sire," answered the attendant, "a gentleman is now in the waiting-room, who craves speech with your majesty.”
“His name—his name?" inquired the king, with a lazy yawn.
" He gave no name, sire," answered the attendant, " but he bade me tell your majesty that he was your friend of Mayence."
“My friend of Mayence," said the king. "AL!” continued he to his companions, “I have good reason to remember him. He is one of my wild Irish lords, who, not content to lose bis patrimony in my cause, still contrives to help me in my troubles. Marry! I would wish there were many like him. Send him into our presence, Hilson—but ere he comes,” and he gave a light and careless laugh, we must put our trump3 and aces from before his roving eyes. Away with them, for I know what he brings; and now to supper.”
“ Arise, my lord of Fermoy," said the king, “thou art welcome to our poor lodging. It grieves us we cannot welcome thee in better state, but come-arise and partake with us of this sorry fare our rebellious subjects have driven us to subsist on!”
“My liege," answered Maurice, lord of Fermoy, for it was he, * before I rise, let me present your majesty with this," and he produced a heavy bag of gold from under his long cloak. “ It is the poor pay of myself and some of my kinsmen. Small as it is—it is all we have—I trust it may relieve thy necessities for a short time. A day will soon come, I trust, when thou wilt hold thine own again, and have small need of the poor contributions of thy devoted subjects !” and he laid the bag of gold upon the table before the king.
“We accept of it, my lord of Fermoy," said the king, raising him “and with the more pleasure, that the day is coming-yes, times are changing momently in our favour—when we can recompense thee tenfold for this and many another kindness. The day that sees us restored to our throne and to our rights, shall also see thee in the enjoyment of thy lost lands and thy native home. Arise, and let us to supper!”
And thus Maurice, lord of Fermoy, and his bravekinsmen spent
their pay during their military service in Flanders. They shared it with their king during his exile, and when the Protector died, and Charles II. was restored to his throne, they naturally expected a reversal of their attainder, and a return to their native land, and to their homes and properties. But when Visconnt Fermoy, and the numerous kinsmen of his that had lost their estates in the cause of the king and his unfortunate predecessor, presented their petition at court, the light and faithless Charles the Second, instead of remembering their devotedness, and his own plighted word, only laughed at them, put them off from day to day, and at length, in his “ Declaration of Royal Gratitude," named one of that gallant house, Captain Miles Roche, only as eligible for reward for “services beyond the sea.” Viscount Fermoy, after the failure of his hopes and the loss of his noble patrimony, lest these countries for ever, and died with a broken heart, far away in a foreign land, illustrating a lesson that was well taught to the head of many a gallant house in those troublous days by the "merry monarch," King Charles the Second.
". For me you shall not break that kind heart;
Man's love I had heard was untrue ;
I offer my first love to you.'
A purple cloud shadowed her charms,
A woman! was clasped in his arms.
The stars were beginning to peep,
Were lulling their young ones to sleep.
She flew like strange bird from my side* And the strange bird comes back to her fond mate!'
The voice of his Neema replied.
"Oh thin, sure 'tis the wonderful story;
An' how did you come by her name? An'
say were they wed-had they children? Or, are you of me “makin' game?'” "Wed ? yes they were buckled an’ coupled
Like birds in the saison of spring-
"Come, come to this heart that adores you ;
Where are you, O Neema, my love? He gazed all around, there was nothing
Save perched on the thorn a white dove. 0 wonder of wonders 'twas Neema !
She flew straight to Maurice's breast; She nestled there, whisp’ring in music, 'Once more your own Neema is blest.'
My husband, to see you again,
If with you I choose to remain ; 'Neath these wings feel my little heart beating
A woman's in love it is still ;
" An' so with young Maurice. For six years
They lived an red true man an' wife; An' a fine little daughter resembled
The mother, they said, to the life. Well, just as it might be this ev'nin',
An' in the same time o' the year, Himself an' herself were below there
The child by the thorn tree was near.
"• And so on your breast while I'm resting,
A fluttering, fond, faithful dove, Abandoning home and my kindred,
Content I shall live for your love.' The sweet bird grew fonder and fonder,
On his heart faintly drooping its head, One sigh, like the pote of a wild harp, And poor fairy Neema was dead !"
Greeshach- turf ashes.