The moonlight led the way across the cobbled stable yard. The driving rain swinging the lantern. The creak of stable doors disturbed the hound. Sniffing the way to the prey he slide in behind his master ready to be his guard. The Inn was mid way from the Gates of York with its many heads of spikes .Traitors all of them who fought against their Duke. Edward was King now and golden haired golden voiced and giant to his subjects was more a God to his troops.
The thin line of soldiers traversed the mountain track down into the valley behind their leader.The Road from Wakefield had been long and this patrol Scottish loyal and Edwards faithful friends.
The wind howled thin and restless as from under the hay came the stable lad sleepily. The riders hand quick to the blade saw in time the need to relax. The horse hot and steaming white on the blue black mare shone in the moonlight as a ghost .The boy rubbed her down with a straw whip and curry comb in hand he began his task. She spluttered with vapor as much to say thanks. His touch told her to trust.
In the Inn now her able master was being fed a gruel of lamb and carrots in barley. Red wine in goblet he was engaged well in silent meaning. Over the cobbles iron shoes rattled to a stop .His men now arrived .He raised a hand to tell the landlord to make haste with grooms and feed for his horses and men.
In the gloom of the yard no one noticed the lean and quick figure of a beggar in rags pass out of the way into the barn of hay. He was Robert the servant of Phillip the Bold the disguised spy ready to listen at cracks in doors for the slightest clue to race the wind back to his master with news of the young Kings army.
Captain Crompton was a leader born .He sat now watching his men eat. A pipe of baccy hanging from his lips a hand steady with the taper ,he drew the hot smoke into his body and exhailed with ease.
The inn was full of travelers and one young boy was listening to the landlords wife.A big strong and no messing lass from Devils Bridge. She roared to the cooks to hurry with the food. More had arrived and Crompton was busy deploying his men as horses filled the cobbled yard and sparks flew as iron hooves scraped and pawed at the uneven stone floor.
Inside that inn sat a silent hooded man. His cloak of ragged ends had once been noble cloth. He had ridden hard in it from way back in time. He was known to the Landlord as Black Jack a man who was best left alone.
The boy was interested in the traveler and served him a dish of food. Ale not wine and he handed over a golden crown telling the boy to tell him when it was all gone. Not once did the boy see his face his voice was gravel hard and he decided not to befriend him.
The morning broke clear and bright the last dregs of the storm no more. The horses mounted the post horn broke in as a stagecoach rattled in to the yard just as the troops raced out. Confusion as bags and trunks remained as grooms and ostlers flew to clean the overnight bays and mess of many horse.
The stage guard and Whip non to happy flung the passengers trunks and bags down and without warning raced the team and coach out and away.
The Landlord came out to help saying his peace on go. The passengers upset slid in the horse muck and down went one fine lady crying as her husband helped her up asked if anything was broken to be moaned at about the ruined dress.
That man was Simon Best the Judge and the landlord was reeling with un ease as he was put in his place.
The yard soon was back to normal and the stable boys darted back in the hay to rest. A stable wicked creaked and behind it the spy was ready to listen to the boys talking.
He learned that Cromptons men had spoken over common news of battle expected but he learned nothing he had not guessed.
Over the moor lay the city of York and the other way led down to Pickering. it was sun up and soon the guests were at table dining. All was back as normal and no one noticed the beggar slip away into the thickets and and over the gypsy lane to York.
Black Jack had seen him leave and was soon mounted and spurring lightly his horses flanks he headed to the west.
That evening a tawny sunset had him back at table hood over his eyes in his usual corner. The boy asked if the ride was good. The travelers hand shot out like lightening and grasped hard the boys arm. Pulling him close he whispered in his ear. ‘ Mind yer business lad .What you do not know will not hurt you. ”
It was never enough to scare him well and being released from the Travelers iron grip he slipped by silent in the night from that day forth.
Black Jack never showed his face but was known far and wide for his voice was that distinct and his walk long stride and fast. His sword as sharp and long as his stride Black Jack was a strange man who all who had him in their camp asked no questions so told no lies.
The day had come for the battle ahead. The great armies combined in the mingled mass of uniforms. The roar of battle heard 20 miles off in the town of Taunton. Yellow the sun ,thin in a grayblue dishwater sky. The dead lay like fallen carrion all over that land but only the commanders rode fast back to hide. The rain clouds building over head as the long knifes of the local wives cut ring fingers of the dead and clothing and boots able to be worn as the dead no longer need them. The rains fell with avenging rage ,bouncing like lambs off the dead.
From the hiding place of General Fowler in the forest above Monmouth to the north he and four officers played cards over a barrel of strong beer taken by force of the retreat.
Blacker that the forest glades a rider softly approached . Within moments the cards lay spread over the ground .The barrel on its side and five dead men spoke not another word in this life.
This dark rider mounted and rode fast to reach London by morning. His entrance in the war office of Royal Edward was at 11am and the great oaken doors slammed shut behind him. In talks only the council and the spy master sat. By 2.13pm that day a rider on a black mount slid out of that room and raced the Kings highway to the town on Monmouth on border of Wales. Here his mark , a strong hearted farmer who was forming a revolt against the new young King was addressing his men. Twenty or so plough boys and farm horse men. None had any idea that the hooded rider in their midst was Black Jack.
Six days later the son of York rose to the throne of England as an 18 year old general six foot six inches tall towering as a hero blonde and golden to be King Edward 1V. He was the Sun in Splendour King, long before the French Louis was ever born.