Page:Yule Logs.djvu/348

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332
SIR RICHARD'S SQUIRES

very greatness would hinder it, for want of discipline and order, either in victory or defeat.

So all were cheered, and though there is nothing at which men wonder more than at the swiftness of the advance of the Scots, we were ready for them before they came. Yet, but for Alan, it is certain that our army would have been surprised, and may-be cut to pieces, before any battle array could have been drawn up.

As the Scots came, they burnt and plundered on all sides, and at last our outposts could see the light of burning farms on the skyline, and we knew they were very near. Next night none were to be seen, and it seemed as if the Scots had halted and drawn together on finding that we were ready. Then the day following broke darkly and grey, with a dense fog everywhere that seemed to make it impossible that an army could move through it. Yet every horseman who could be spared was sent to patrol the hills to our northward, and Alan and I rode out together to our appointed stations with the rest, in the early morning.

We crossed valley and stream by tracks we knew well by this time, and as it happened, went further that day than any other, for one could see nothing but a few yards of stony track before one, and the cries of the curlews sounded wild round us, like the whistle of men to one another in the fog.

"What water is that I hear?" I said presently. There was a sound of a heavy rushing, but I knew of no brook here that would make that sound.

"It is more like the sound of a great flock of sheep," answered Alan, "but we have driven every one for miles."

Then our horses pricked their ears, and stared into the mist to our right front in a way that told us that other horses were near.

Alan held up his hand, "I hear voices!" he said. We listened, and presently I knew that what we heard