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Sir Nigel & The White Company

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Sir Nigel & The White Company
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Arthur Conan Doyle
Date Published: 2008/08
Page Count: 532
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-497-3
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-498-0

A cavalcade of the medieval world within two classic novels of historical fiction

Despite his success with his famous fictional detective, Arthur Conan Doyle's first love was the historical novel and in his own estimation he wrote few better than the two collected together in this book. ‘Sir Nigel' was actually written after 'The White Company,’ but in the Leonaur edition it appears first since within it the reader is introduced to one of the principal characters of both novels—Sir Nigel Loring. The scene for these adventures is England and France in the 14th Century against a backdrop of The Hundred Years War. Young Nigel in service to his king, Edward III begins his career as a squire. It is the start a 'rites of passage' journey which will include the Black Prince among other notables of the period, skirmishes at sea and ultimately the monumental Battle of Poitiers. ‘The White Company' continues Sir Nigel's story as once again he campaigns against the French, this time in company with a new young hero, Alleyne Edricson. As usual this Leonaur edition allows collectors to own these essential novels as a combined set within a single substantial volume available in both soft back and hardcover with dust jacket.

For five hours with a light breeze behind them they lurched
through the heavy fog, the cold rain still matting their beards
and shining on their faces. Sometimes they could see a circle of
tossing water for a bowshot or so in each direction, and then the
wreaths would crawl in upon them once more and bank them thickly
round. They had long ceased to blow the trumpet for their missing
comrades, but had hopes when clear weather came to find them still
in sight. By the shipman's reckoning they were now about midway
between the two shores. <br>
Nigel was leaning against the bulwarks, his thoughts away in the
dingle at Cosford and out on the heather-clad slopes of Hindhead,
when something struck his ear. It was a thin clear clang of
metal, pealing out high above the dull murmur of the sea, the
creak of the boom and the flap of the sail. He listened, and
again it was borne to his ear.<br>
"Hark, my lord!" said he to Sir Robert. "Is there not a sound in
the fog?"<br>
They both listened together with sidelong heads. Then it rang
clearly forth once more, but this time in another direction. It
had been on the bow; now it was on the quarter. Again it sounded,
and again. Now it had moved to the other bow; now back to the
quarter again; now it was near; and now so far that it was but a
faint tinkle on the ear. By this time every man on board, seamen,
archers and men-at-arms, were crowding the sides of the vessel.
All round them there were noises in the darkness, and yet the wall
of fog lay wet against their very faces. And the noises were such
as were strange to their ears, always the same high musical
clashing.<br>
The old shipman shook his head and crossed himself.<br>
"In thirty years upon the waters I have never heard the like,"
said he. "The Devil is ever loose in a fog. Well is he named the
Prince of Darkness."<br>
A wave of panic passed over the vessel, and these rough and hardy
men who feared no mortal foe shook with terror at the shadows of
their own minds. They stared into the cloud with blanched faces
and fixed eyes, as though each instant some fearsome shape might
break in upon them. And as they stared there came a gust of wind.
For a moment the fog-bank rose and a circle of ocean lay before
them.<br>
It was covered with vessels. On all sides they lay thick upon its
surface. They were huge caracks, high-ended and portly, with red
sides and bulwarks carved and crusted with gold. Each had one
great sail set and was driving down channel on the same course at
the Basilisk. Their decks were thick with men, and from their
high poops came the weird clashing which filled the air. For one
moment they lay there, this wondrous fleet, surging slowly
forward, framed in gray vapor. The next the clouds closed in and
they had vanished from view. There was a long hush, and then a
buzz of excited voices.<br>
"The Spaniards!" cried a dozen bowmen and sailors.<br>
"I should have known it," said the shipman. "I call to mind on
the Biscay Coast how they would clash their cymbals after the
fashion of the heathen Moor with whom they fight; but what would
you have me do, fair sir? If the fog rises we are all dead men."