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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)

TITLE: Lord Cobham's Wrath
By David Butler
08/07/07


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“Shackle him!”

It took four sturdy men-at-arms to hold the bellowing prisoner while they manacled his wrists. Sir James Delaware leaned against the dungeon door and laughed derisively. This was his greatest triumph.

“Thou’rt full welcome to my donjon, my lord Cobham! We pray thou shalt find wondrous refreshment and rest ere thou standest before my lord sheriff on the morrow.”

Cobham’s bloodstained black whiskers stood out starkly and his eyes blazed red.

“Treacherous dog! Dastard! Thou wert too cowardly to face my challenge to single combat! As treacherous as thy thrice-cursed king Richard art thou! I own him as king no more!”

Delaware’s leer never wavered.
“’Ware lest thine unruly tongue be cut off ere justice be served, my lord malapert! High treason it is - and mayhap heresy also if thou recant not! Death in torment shall be thy portion if thou be not treatable! Seek counsel of the rats if thou heedest none else. In especial the Lollard rat yonder – thy father confessor!”

Cobham’s eyes widened as he saw the unobtrusive figure in the ragged russet gown in the corner.

“Father Lawrence?”

“My lord?”

Cobham’s head snapped back toward his enemy.

“Rood of God!” he growled through gritted teeth. “Not content with mine head art thou, but would burn godly men also? One who sued for thy life? O, bravely done, valiant Sir James Delaware!”

Sir James’ mocking smirk soured.
“I keep no bargains with cursed heretics! Faugh! ‘Tis sleeveless to have speech with such a losel! I misdoubt me thou shalt boast as heartily at the gallows, or the stake! Farewell!”

He stormed out, followed by his soldiers, and by strident curses from his prisoner.

Thou shalt burn, treacherous swine - in Hell!! One day thy king shall fall, and thou and all thy like shall know God’s justice…! Nithings all are ye!”

After a while, his tirade gave way to angry mutterings, then he fell silent, exhausted.

He stopped straining on his chains and slumped wearily against the filthy wall. The furious momentum that had carried him through the last two years was draining away.

Where were his cheering followers now? Dead or captured, after their abortive attempt at the most ambitious kidnapping plot in history. And was Eleanor safe?

At the thought of his wife and family, he wept as he had not done for a long time.

“My lord, suffer me..”
A kindly hand washed away the blood and grime from his face.

“Blessings upon thee, good father. Thou’rt mine only friend in this evil hour. Yea, even God hath forsaken me.”

“Say not so, my lord. Did we not speak of this five years gone?”

“Yea, verily thou didst show me the way to God’s heart but .. Nay, I can no longer deceive myself. I lost Him in my mindless fury and tumults. This demon of rage conquered me, hence have I not known peace, God forgive me!”

The old fire flared up momentarily.
“But Richard betrayed me! His friend!”

The flame died down again, to be replaced by anguish of heart. He shook his bowed head in frustration.

“I have failed, grievously! Yea, ‘tis true that bitter vengeance hath been my goad, but …..I had deemed that change would come if we were but bold and valiant …. that God would aid us in our cause…”

Lawrence said as gently as he could.
“God will not aid the arm of flesh, Sir John…”

Cobham was forced to concede the truth of this, although it took a while to sink in. He dropped his head on his knees and whispered.
“…Then, my life hath been naught but folly …vanity..?”

“Say not so! Do not thy folk call thee ‘the Good Lord Cobham’? Thine open-handedness … thou’rt of the blessed company of Lollard Knights. I, and many of my brethren preachers owe thee our very lives!”

“Thy words bring comfort, father.” He looked up. “Thine own fate? It is sure…?”

Lawrence nodded, bright-eyed but solemn. He’d known it was coming for quite a while, but he was ready. His present concern was to shepherd the troubled nobleman into the same state of readiness for eternity.

“My lord, drink no longer the cup of bitterness. It shall poison none but thee.”


In 1413 Sir John Oldcastle, later Lord Cobham led a rebellion to impose Lollard reforms upon church and state. He died at the stake, firm in his faith. Other characters here are fictitious.

© 2007


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This article has been read 792 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/09/07
This is a creative page of history, the vocabulary just right, and the message one of grace and hope.
Lynda Schultz 08/09/07
Forsooth, it's been a while since I've read any old English, but it was indeed a fascinating journey into the past. Nice work (and I'll bet lots of work to get all that vocabulary right!).
Betty Castleberry08/10/07
This is something I wasn't familiar with, so I appreciate the footnote. I had a bit of trouble with the dialogue, but that's my problem. We don't talk like that in Texas. ;0)
I think this piece is well written.
Kristen Hester08/12/07
This is very well written. I'm a Texan like Betty and has to read slowly to make sure I understood. Perhaps an introduction to set up the story would have been helpful. I really wanted to know more, read more, understand more because it was so interesting. Great job.
Joanne Sher 08/12/07
Also some trouble following this one (my fault, not yours!), but was absolutely fascinated! Excellent.
Peter Stone08/14/07
Wonderful use of Old English. I loved the last line too, about how bitterness hurts us more than anyone else. Well done.
Linda Watson Owen08/14/07
Loved this! You transported this reader right back into the days of yore in the land of 'THE Bard'! The historical footnote was helpful to me too. And yes, the last line is perfect! Well done!
Val Clark08/16/07
I enjoyed this, David. God is to be found in every place, huh. And in every point of history. Just two things to consider. I. You had your MC sleeping in one para, straining at his chains in the next. Would like to see you work on that transition. 2. POV shift in the last paragraph. The dialogue read well in a short story. Would be over the top in a longer piece, though, slowing the story down too much. See the edition of Writers Digest, at present in our newsagents, for a treatice on writing dialogue.
Val Clark08/16/07
Errr... read penultimate paragraph. :-)
Sara Harricharan 08/17/07
Heehee...this is so real I have to take a moment after reading this. The dialouge, the characters, so well written! Good job. ^_^
Dianne Janak08/18/07
David, what I loved here was the contrast of good and evil, and yet developing the character of Cobham as a person who struggles between flesh and spirit. How on earth do you do that dialogue so easily? What a gift you have. Texans talk slower, so we read slower, and I had to also, but just think you are a brilliant writer at home in Masters now! You belong there David.
Dianne Janak08/18/07
I reread your piece and personally I did not and do now see a problem with POV. That did not stump me a bit. Your gift of using dialogue is a rare gift that not all good writers have. I noticed that when I first started reading your work. It takes us back to another time, and the setting just falls into place just because the dialogue sets it. I did read that staying with same POV is usually recommended, but I think it works well with this piece. BRAVO... Ya'll!! From Texas to Australia.... Dianne
Gregory Kane11/19/07
I love the dialogue here and the way you use the 'goody' and the 'baddy' as effective foils. The olde english is a delight to read and seems to me to flow naturally. My concern over the story is that you have made it all but impossible to understand why Lord Cobham (John Oldcastle) has been imprisoned and whether his actions were justified or not. The Lollards are all but forgotten as a pre-Reformation protest movement, much as would be the case for the Waldensians or the Hussites. I suspect that your story would have had more of an impact had you used Lawrence to explain some of the concerns of the Lollards so as to gain the sympathy of the reader.