Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/213

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

BATTLE OF HASTINGS. 207


less you can cross the sea at a leap, or can drink it dry, your sons and daughters are lost to you.'

"The Normans bore it all; but, in fact, they knew not what the English said: their language seemed like the baying of dogs, which they could not understand. At length they stopped and turned round, determined to recover their ranks; and the barons might be heard crying DEX AIE! for a halt. Then the Normans resumed their former position, turning their faces toward the enemy; and their men were to be seen facing round and rushing onward to a fresh melee, the one party assaulting the other; this man striking, another pressing onward. One hits, another misses; one flies, another pursues; one is aiming a stroke, while another discharges his blow. Norman strives with Englishman again, and aims his blows afresh. One flies, another pursues swiftly: the combatants are many, the plain wide, the battle and the melee, fierce. On every hand they fight hard, the blows are heavy, and the struggle becomes fierce.

"The Normans were playing their part well, when an English knight came rushing up, having in his company a hundred men, furnished with various arms. He wielded a northern hatchet, with the blade a full foot long, and was well armed after his manner, being tall, bold, and of noble carriage. In the front of the battle, where the Normans thronged most, he came bounding on swifter than the stag, many Normans falling before him and his company. He rushed straight upon a Norman who was armed and riding on a war-horse, and tried with his hatchet of steel to cleave his helmet; but the blow miscarried, and the sharp blade glanced down before the saddle-bow, driving through the horse's neck down to the ground, so that both horse and master fell together to the earth. I know not whether the Englishman struck another blow; but the Normans who saw the stroke were astonished, and about to abandon the assault, when Roger de Montgomeri came galloping up, with his lance set, and heeding not the long-handled ax which the Englishman wielded aloft, struck him down, and left him stretched on the ground. Then Roger cried out, 'Frenchmen, strike! the day is ours!' And again a fierce melee, was to be seen, with many a blow of lance and sword; the English still defending themselves, killing the horses and cleaving the shields.

"There was a French soldier of noble mien, who sat his horse