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HERE followed after this time a series of very rapid and sudden reverses, by
which first one party and then the other became alternately the victors and the
vanquished, through changes of fortune of the most extraordinary character.
At the end of the battle described in the last chapter, Margaret found herself,
with the little prince, a helpless fugitive. There were only eight persons to
accompany her in her flight, and so defenseless were they, and such was the wild
and lawless condition of the country, that it was said her party was stopped
while on their way to Wales, and the queen was robbed of all her jewels and
other valuables. Both she and the prince would very probably, too, have been
made prisoners and sent to London, had it not been that, while the marauders
were busy with their plunder, she contrived to make her escape.
She remained a very short time in Wales, and then proceeded by sea to Scotland,
where her party, and she herself personally, had
pow-  werful friends. By the aid of these friends, and through the influence of the
indomitable spirit and resolution which she displayed, she was soon supplied
with a new force. At the head of this force she crossed the frontier into
England. The people seemed every where to pity her misfortunes, and they were so
struck with the energy and courage she displayed in struggling against them, and
in braving the dreadful dangers which surrounded her in defense of the rights of
her husband and child, that they flocked to her standard from all quarters, and
thus in eight days from the time that the mandate was issued from London
commanding her to surrender herself a prisoner, she appeared in the vicinity of
the city of York, the largest and strongest city in all the north of England, at
the head of an overwhelming force.
The Duke of York was astounded when this intelligence reached him in London.
There was not a moment to be lost. He immediately set out with all the troops
which he could command, and marched to the northward to meet the queen. At the
same time, he sent orders to the other leaders of his party, in different parts
of England, to move to the northward as rapidly as possible, and join him there.
The duke himself arrived first in the vicinity
 of the queen's army, but he thought he was not strong enough to attack her, and
he accordingly concluded to wait until his re-enforcements should come up. The
queen advanced with a much superior force to meet him. The two armies came
together near the town of Wakefield, and here, after some delay, during which
the queen continually challenged the duke to come out from his walls and
fortifications to meet her, and defied and derided him with many taunts and
reproaches, a great battle was finally fought.
Margaret's troops were victorious. Two thousand out of five thousand of the
duke's troops were left dead upon the field, and the duke himself was slain!
Margaret's heart was filled with the wildest exultation and joy when she heard
that her inveterate and hated foe at last was dead. She could scarcely restrain
her excitement. One of the nobles of her party, Lord Clifford, whose father had
been killed in a previous battle under circumstances of great atrocity, cut off
the duke's head from his body, and carried it to Margaret on the end of a pike.
She was for a moment horror-stricken at the ghastly spectacle, and turned her
face away; but she finally ordered the head to be set up upon a pole on the
walls of York, in view of all beholders.
A young son of the duke's, the Earl of
Rut-  land, who was then about twelve years old, was also killed, or rather
massacred, on the field of battle, after the fight was over, as he was
endeavoring to make his escape, under the care of his tutor, to a castle near,
where he would have been safe. This was the castle of Sandal. It was a very
strong place, and was in the possession of the Duke of York's party. The poor
boy was cut down mercilessly by the same Lord Clifford who has already been
spoken of, notwithstanding all that his tutor could do to save him.
Other most atrocious murders were committed at the close of this battle. The
Earl of Salisbury was beheaded, and his head was set up upon a pike on the walls
of York, by the side of the duke's. Margaret was almost beside herself at the
results of this victory. Her armies triumphant, the great leader of the party of
her enemies, the man who had been for years her dread and torment, slain, and
all his chief confederates either killed or taken prisoners, and nothing now
apparently in the way to prevent her marching in triumph to London, liberating
her husband from his thraldom, and taking complete and undisputed possession of
the supreme power, there seemed, so far as the prospect now before her was
concerned, to be nothing more to desire.
MURDER OF RICHARD'S CHILD.