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The Tavern Knight

After Worcester Field
The morn of the third of September - that date so propitious to Cromwell, so disastrous to
Charles - found Crispin the centre of a company of gentlemen in battle-harness,
assembled at The Mitre Inn. For a toast he gave them "The damnation of all crop-ears."
"Sirs," quoth he, "a fair beginning to a fair day. God send the evening find us as merry."
It was not to be his good fortune, however, to be in the earlier work of the day. Until
afternoon he was kept within the walls of Worcester, chafing to be where hard knocks
were being dealt - with Montgomery at Powick Bridge, or with Pittscottie on Bunn's Hill.
But he was forced to hold his mood in curb, and wait until Charles and his advisers
should elect to make the general attack.
It came at last, and with it came the disastrous news that Montgomery was routed, and
Pittscottie in full retreat, whilst Dalzell had surrendered, and Keith was taken. Then was
it that the main body of the Royal army formed up at the Sidbury Gate, and Crispin found
himself in the centre, which was commanded by the King in person. In the brilliant
charge that followed there was no more conspicuous figure, no voice rang louder in
encouragement to the men. For the first time that day Cromwell's Ironsides gave back
before the Royalists, who in that fierce, irresistible charge, swept all before them until
they had reached the battery on Perry Wood, and driven the Roundheads from it hell-to-
leather.
It was a glorious moment, a moment in which the fortunes of the day hung in the balance;
the turn of the tide it seemed to them at last.
Crispin was among the first to reach the guns, and with a great shout of "Hurrah for
Cavaliers!" he had cut down two gunners that yet lingered. His cry lacked not an echo,
and a deafening cheer broke upon the clamorous air as the Royalists found themselves
masters of the position. Up the hill on either side pressed the Duke of Hamilton and the
Earl of Derby to support the King. It but remained for Lesley's Scottish horse to follow
and complete the rout of the Parliamentarian forces. Had they moved at that supreme
moment who shall say what had been the issue of Worcester field? But they never stirred,
and the Royalists waiting on Perry Wood cursed Lesley for a foul traitor who had sold his
King.
With bitterness did they then realize that their great effort was to be barren, their gallant
charge in vain. Unsupported, their position grew fast untenable.
And presently, when Cromwell had gathered his scattered Ironsides, that gallant host was
driven fighting, down the hill and back to the shelter of Worcester. With the Roundheads
pressing hotly upon them they gained at last the Sidbury Gate, but only to find that an
overset ammunition wagon blocked the entrance. In this plight, and without attempting to
move it, they faced about to make a last stand against the Puritan onslaught.
 
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