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Chapter 13 The Battle of the Valley
Jeremy Stickles had a plan for the great attack on the Doones in their valley. He had 155 men and three small cannons. Thirty-five of the men were from the king’s own guards, and they had horses. There were also horses to pull the cannons. Then there were sixty men from Somerset and sixty men from Devon who were not soldiers and had no horses.
The plan was that the Somerset men, with one cannon, would attack from the eastern hills. The Devon men, with the second cannon, would attack from the west. Jeremy Stickles and I took thirty-five men and one cannon. We intended to attack through the southern entrance to the Doone valley. That was our plan.
But things did not happen as we had intended.
We reached the Doone gate and started to prepare the cannon.
As we had hoped, we heard the noise of shooting from the east and the west. Suddenly, ten or twelve guns fired at us, and several of our men fell.
Jeremy and I were at the front, and the cannon was pulled behind us by some of my own horses. We saw that the enemy were hidden in some bushes, and we ran forward to fight them.
Suddenly there was a loud noise behind us and a terrible cry from the men and the horses. A great tree had been dropped down from the top of the hill onto the horses and the cannon. It had fallen on two men and had broken the back of one of the horses and the leg of another.
I loved these horses, and this made me wild with anger. I ran towards the place where the tree had fallen. Then I saw Jeremy.
He was lying on the ground with a wounded leg, unable to move. I picked him up and carried him to a safer place.
A boy came running towards me. ‘We’ve lost the battle!’ he cried. ‘The men of Devon and Somerset are fighting each other.
The Doones have beaten us!’
Later, I discovered why these men had fought against each other. When the Devon men reached the top of the western hill, they prepared their cannon. Then, without aiming the gun, they fired. The shot flew across the valley and hit the Somerset men on the other side, killing two men.
Of course, the Somerset men were very angry. They aimed their gun at the Devon men and fired. Four or five men fell. Then a battle began between the two groups. Suddenly, the Doones appeared - they had come up a secret path. They attacked the Somerset men, killed four and took their cannon. The Devon men pulled their cannon home, and that was the end of the battle.
Jeremy Stickles was very ill for several weeks, but he slowly got better. In May, Annie and Tom Faggus got married and moved to his farm, which was not far from ours.
Because Jeremy Stickles was still weak, I went away for some months to do government work for him.When I returned to the farm, Lorna did not come out to meet me.
‘Where’s Lorna?’ I asked.
‘Lady Lorna Dugal has gone to London,’ said Lizzie. ‘I don’t think she’ll come back again.’
‘What? Has she gone?’ I cried wildly. ‘Has Lorna gone ? She never said goodbye to me!’
‘She wept, but she had to go,’ Lizzie said. ‘She left a letter for you. It’s in her room.’
I ran to Lorna’s room and found the letter.
My Dear One,
I have to leave and cannot even say goodbye to you.
The men will not wait. My uncle, a great lord, is waiting for me at Dunster. The king has ordered him to take care of me until I am twenty-one years old. It is very cruel. I said that I did not want my lands or my money; I only wanted to stay here. But they told me that I have to obey the king’s order. Nothing will ever take me away from you. I will always be your own Lorna Dugal.
‘It has all ended,’ I thought. But my heart answered sweetly, ‘No, you’ll be happy again.’
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