CHAPTER IX. REVOLT OF THE BARONAGE

All hope of progress, of any wise and statesmanlike settlement of Ireland, utterly died away when, on Easter night, 16th April 1172, Henry sailed from Wexford. The next morning he landed near St. David's. He entered its gates as a pilgrim, on foot and staff in hand, while the monks came out in solemn procession to lead him to the ancient church on the other side of the river. Suddenly a Welsh woman sprang out from among the crowd, and striking her hands together wildly, threw herself at his feet crying with a loud voice, "Avenge us to-day, Lechlavar! Avenge the people of this land!" The woman's bitter cry told the first thought of all the thronging multitudes of eager Welshmen that day, how Merlin had prophesied that an English king, the conqueror of Ireland, should die on Lechlavar, a great stone which formed a rude natural bridge across the stream, and round which the pagan superstitions of an immemorial past still clung. When the strange procession reached the river, Henry stood for a moment looking steadily at the stone, then with a courage which we can scarcely measure, he firmly set his foot on it and slowly crossed over; and from the other side, in the face of all the people he turned and flung his taunt at the prophet, "Who will ever again believe the lies of Merlin?" As he passed through Cardiff another omen met him; a white-robed monk stood before him as he came out of church. "God hold thee, Cuning!" he cried in the English tongue, and broke out into passionate warnings of evil to come unless the king would show more reverence to the Sunday, a matter about which there was at this time a great stirring of religious feeling. "Ask this rustic," said Henry in French to a knight who held his rein, "whether he has dreamed this." The monk turned from the interpreter to the king and spoke again: "Whether I have dreamed this or no, mark this day, for unless thou amendest thy life, before this year has passed thou shalt hear such news of those thou lovest best, and shalt win such sorrow from them, that it shall not fail thee till thy dying day!"