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The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne

Chapter X
THE Count was walking on the ramparts of the castle, involved in thought, when
Osbert approached; whose lingering step and disappointed air spoke to his heart
the rejection of his suit. He told the Count that Mary did not at present feel for him
those sentiments of affection which would justify her in accepting his proposals.
This information, though it shocked the hopes of the Count, did not entirely
destroy them; for he yet believed that time and assiduity might befriend his
wishes. While these Noblemen were leaning on the walls of the castle, engaged
in earnest conversation, they observed on a distant hill a cloud emerging from
the verge of the horizon, whose dusky hue glittered with sudden light; in an
instant they descried the glance of arms, and a troop of armed men poured in
long succession over the hill, and hurried down its side to the plains below. The
Earl thought he recognized the clan of the Baron. It was the Baron himself who
now advanced at the head of his people, in search of that revenge which had
been hitherto denied him; and who, determined on conquest, had brought with
him an host which he thought more than sufficient to overwhelm the castle of his
enemy.
The messenger, who had been sent with the challenge, had been detained a
prisoner by Malcolm; who in the mean time had hastened his preparations to
surprize the castle of Athlin. The detention of his servant had awakened the
suspicions of the Earl, and he had taken precautions to guard against the
designs of his enemy. He had summoned his clan to hold themselves in
readiness for a sudden attack, and had prepared his castle for the worst
emergency. He now sent a messenger to the clan with such orders as he judged
expedient, arranged his plans within the walls, and took his station on the
ramparts to observe the movements of his enemy. The Count, clad in arms,
stood by his side. Alleyn was posted with a party within the great gate of the
castle.
The Baron advanced with his people, and quickly surrounded the walls. Within
all was silent; the castle seemed to repose in security; and the Baron, certain of
victory, congratulated himself on the success of the enterprize, when observing
the Earl, whose person was concealed in armour, he called to him to surrender
himself and his Chief to the arms of Malcolm. The Earl answered the summons
with an arrow from his bow, which missing the Baron, pierced one of his
attendants. The archers who had been planted behind the walls, now discovered
themselves, and discharged a shower of arrows; at the same time every part of
the castle appeared thronged with the soldiers of the Earl, who hurled on the
heads of the astonished besiegers, lances and other missile weapons with
unceasing rapidity. The alarum bell now rung out the signal to that part of the
clan without the walls, and they immediately poured upon the enemy, who,
confounded by this unexpected attack, had scarcely time to defend themselves.
The clang of arms resounded through the air, with the shouts of the victors, and
the groans of the dying. The fear of the Baron, which had principally operated on
the minds of his people, was now overcome by surprize, and the fear of death;
 
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