‘I’ll bet it’s to knight you, Captain,’ said Williams as they approached the King’s tent.
Fluellen was coming towards them. ‘God’s will and pleasure, Captain,’ he said, when he saw them. ‘I beg you, now, hurry to the King. There’s more good things coming your way, perhaps, than it’s possible for you to dream of.’
Williams was looking at him with growing anger and he suddenly burst out with: ‘Sir! Do you know this glove?’
Fluellen was bewildered. ‘Know the glove? I know the glove is a glove.’
Williams snatched the glove from Fluellen’s cap. ‘I know this one!’ he cried. ‘Here’s my challenge.’ He swung the glove and smacked Fluellen in the face with it.
‘God’s blood!’ roared Fluellen. ‘As barefaced a traitor as any as is in the universal world, or in France, or in England!’
Gower had been so taken aback that he’d been unable to do anything but he sprang forward now. ‘What are you doing man? You villain!’ He got between them.
‘Do you think I’m going to let him defame me?’ cried Williams trying to get round him.
‘Stand aside, Captain Gower,’ said Fluellen. ‘I’ll give treason his payment in blows, I promise you!’
‘I’m no traitor!’ insisted Williams.
‘That’s a barefaced lie!’ said Fluellen. ‘Arrest him in the name of His Majesty. He’s a friend of the Duke of Alencon.’
‘Now now!’ – the voice of Warwick. ‘What’s the matter?’
When he saw Warwick and Gloucester Williams immediately gave up his effort to get to Fluellen.
‘My lord of Warwick,’ said Fluellen, ‘here is – praise be to God for it – the most contagious treason come to light, look you, as you could desire on a summer’s day. Here is His Majesty.’
The King and the Duke of Exeter joined them. ‘What?’ said Henry. ‘What’s the matter?’
‘My liege, here is a villain and a traitor, that, look Your Grace, has struck the glove Your Majesty took from Alencon’s helmet,’ said Fluellen.
‘My liege, this was my glove,’ said Williams, holding up the one he had taken from Fluellen’s cap. Then he held up the other one – ‘and here is its fellow. And he that I gave it to me in exchange promised to wear it in his cap. I promised to strike him if he did. I met this man with my glove in his cap and I have been as good as my word.’
‘Your Majesty, hear now, with respect to Your Majesty’s manhood, what an arrant, rascally, beggarly, lousy knave this is. I hope Your Majesty will bear me testimony and witness and will vouchsafe that this is the glove that Your Majesty gave me, in your conscience now.’
Henry put his hand on Williams’ shoulder. ‘Give me your glove, soldier,’ he said. ‘Look, here is its fellow. It was I, indeed, that you promised to strike. You have spoken very critically of me.’
Fluellen nodded furiously. ‘If Your Majesty doesn’t mind, he should hang for it, if there’s any military law in the world.’
The King looked sternly at Williams. ‘How can you give me satisfaction?’
‘All offences, my lord, come from the heart. None ever came from mine that might offend Your Majesty.’
‘It was ourself personally that you abused,’ said Henry.
‘Your Majesty came in disguise,’ protested Williams. ‘You appeared to me as a common man. Witness the time of night, your clothes, your lowly manner. And what Your Highness suffered in that guise, I beg you, consider it your own fault and not mine because if you had been what I took you for you wouldn’t have been offended. So I beg Your Highness to forgive me.’
Henry waved the glove at Exeter. ‘Here, Uncle Exeter, fill this glove with crowns and give it to this fellow.’ He tossed the glove to Williams. ‘Keep it fellow, and wear it in your cap as an honour until such time as I challenge it.’ An aid brought a purse full of golden crowns. ‘Give him the crowns,’ said Henry. ‘And Captain, you must make friends with him.’
Fluellen responded with his usual enthusiasm: ‘By this day and this light, the fellow has guts! Wait.’ Fluellen opened his purse and withdrew a handful of coins. ‘Here is twelve pence for you: and I hope you’ll serve God and keep out of brawls and squabbles and quarrels and dissentions, and I promise you that’s the best for you.’
‘I don’t want anything to do with your money,’ growled Williams.
Fluellen insisted. ‘It’s given willingly.’ He looked down at Williams’ gaping shoes and laughed. ‘You could have your shoes mended, I can tell you.’ Williams still refused. ‘Come on, don’t be so bashful,’ said Fluellen. ‘Your shoes is not so good. The coins are genuine, I guarantee you, or I’ll change them.’
Williams took the money.
The King’s herald was coming towards them. ‘Now Herald,’ said Henry, ‘are the dead counted?’
The herald handed him a document. ‘Here is the tally of the slaughtered French.’
‘What prisoners of high rank have we taken, Uncle?’ said Henry.
‘Charles, Duke of Orleans, nephew to the King,’ said Exeter: ‘John, Duke of Bourbon, and Lord Boucicault, and fifteen hundred more lords and barons, knights and squires, apart from the common men.’
Henry had been perusing the document he held. ‘This note tells that ten thousand French lie slain on the battlefield. Among them are one hundred and twenty-six princes and banner-carrying nobles. And you can add eight thousand four hundred knights, esquires and brave gentlemen, of which five hundred were knighted only yesterday. So of the ten thousand they have lost there are only sixteen hundred mercenaries: the rest are princes, barons, lords, knights, squires and gentlemen of rank and good breeding. The names of the nobles who lie dead are: Charles Delabret, High Constable of France: Jacques of Chatillon, Admiral of France: the Master of the Crossbows, Lord Rambures: the brave Sir Guiscard Dolfin, Master of the Royal Household: John, Duke of Alencon: Antony, Duke of Brabant, the Duke of Burgundy’s brother: and Edward, Duke of Bar. ‘Of high-spirited earls: Grandpre and Roussi, Fauconbridge and Foix, Beaumont and Marle, Vaudemont and Lestrelles. Here was a royal comradeship in death! Where is the number of English dead?’
The herald gave him another document.
‘Edward, Duke of York: the Earl of Suffolk, Sir Richard Ketley: Davey Gam, Esquire. No-one else of noble birth, and only twenty-five other men. Oh God, your power was present here, and to that alone, and not to us, we attribute everything. Not counting ambushes, when in the plain course of battle, was so great and so little loss known on either side? Take credit for it God, for it is no-one’s but yours.’
‘It’s wonderful,’ said Exeter.
‘Come, we’ll go in procession to the village,’ said Henry. ‘Announce it to our army that to glorify this victory will mean death, or to take that praise from God which is his only.’
‘Is it not lawful, if it pleases Your Majesty, to mention how many were killed?’
‘Yes, Captain, but with this acknowledgement – that God fought for us.’
Fluellen nodded furiously. ‘Yes, I agree, he gave us a lot of help.’
‘We’ll celebrate all the holy rites,’ said Henry. ‘Let the Non Nobis and Te Deum be sung. The dead will be interred with charity. Then we’ll go to Calais, and from there to England, where happier men never arrived.’