When autumn nights were long and drear,
And forest walks were dark and dim,
How sweetly on the pilgrim's ear
Was wont to steal the hermit's hymn
Devotion borrows Music's tone,
And Music took Devotion's wing;
And, like the bird that hails the sun,
They soar to heaven, and soaring sing.
The Hermit of St Clement's Well
It was after three hours' good walking that the servants of Cedric, with their mysterious
guide, arrived at a small opening in the forest, in the centre of which grew an oak-tree of
enormous magnitude, throwing its twisted branches in every direction. Beneath this tree
four or five yeomen lay stretched on the ground, while another, as sentinel, walked to
and fro in the moonlight shade.
Upon hearing the sound of feet approaching, the watch instantly gave the alarm, and
the sleepers as suddenly started up and bent their bows. Six arrows placed on the
string were pointed towards the quarter from which the travellers approached, when
their guide, being recognised, was welcomed with every token of respect and
attachment, and all signs and fears of a rough reception at once subsided.
"Where is the Miller?" was his first question.
"On the road towards Rotherham."
"With how many?" demanded the leader, for such he seemed to be.
"With six men, and good hope of booty, if it please St Nicholas."
"Devoutly spoken," said Locksley; "and where is Allan-a-Dale?"
"Walked up towards the Watling-street, to watch for the Prior of Jorvaulx."
"That is well thought on also," replied the Captain;---"and where is the Friar?"
"In his cell."
"Thither will I go," said Locksley. "Disperse and seek your companions. Collect what
force you can, for there's game afoot that must be hunted hard, and will turn to bay.
Meet me here by daybreak.---And stay," he added, "I have forgotten what is most