Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/204

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198 BATTLE OF HASTINGS.


as it appeared on the morning of the fourteenth of October, seven hundred and eighty-five years ago. The Norman host is pouring forth from its tents, and each troop and each company is forming fast under the banner of its leader. The masses have been sung, which were finished betimes in the morning; the barons have all assembled round Duke William; and the duke has ordered that the army shall be formed in three divisions, so as to make the attack upon the Saxon position in three places. The duke stood on a hill where he could best see his men; the barons surrounded him, and he spake to them proudly. He told them how he trusted them, and how all that he gained should be theirs, and how sure he felt of conquest, for in all the world there was not so brave an army, or such good men and true as were then forming around him. Then they cheered him in turn, and cried out, "'You will not see one coward; none here will fear to die for love of you, if need be.' And he answered them, 'I thank you well. For God's sake, spare not; strike hard at the beginning; stay not to take spoil; all the booty shall be in common, and there will be plenty for every one. There will be no safety in asking quarter or in flight; the English will never love or spare a Norman. Felons they were, and felons they are; false they were, and false they will be. Show no weakness toward them, for they will have no pity on you: neither the coward for running well, nor the bold man for smiting well, will be the better liked by the English, nor will any be the more spared on either account. You may fly to the sea, but you can fly no farther; you will find neither ships nor bridge there; there will be no sailors to receive you; and the English will overtake you there, and slay you in your shame. More of you will die in flight than in battle. Then, as flight will not secure you, fight, and you will conquer. I have no doubt of the victory: we are come for glory; the victory is in our hands, and we may make sure of obtaining it if we so please.' As the duke was speaking thus, and would yet have spoken more, William Fitz Osber rode up with his horse all coated with iron: 'Sire,' said he, 'we tarry here too long; let us all arm ourselves. Allons! allons!

"Then all went to their tents, and armed themselves as they best might; and the duke was very busy, giving every one his orders; and he was courteous to all the vassals, giving away many arms and horses to them. When he prepared to arm him-