The Black Arrow
The novel is set in the reign of “old King Henry VI” (1422–1461, 1470–1471) and during the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487). The story begins with the Tunstall Moat House alarm bell, rung to summon a militia for its absent lord Sir Daniel Brackley, to join the Battle of Risingham; at which the rebel “fellowship” known as “the Black Arrow” begins to strike with its “four black arrows” for the “four black hearts” of Brackley and three of his retainers: Nicholas Appleyard, Bennet Hatch, and Sir Oliver Oates, the parson. The rhyme posted in explanation of this attack, makes the protagonist Richard (‘Dick’) Shelton, ward of Sir Daniel, to become curious about the death of his father Sir Harry Shelton. Having been dispatched to Kettley, where Sir Daniel was quartered, and sent to Tunstall Moat House by return dispatch, he falls in with a fugitive, Joanna Sedley, disguised as a boy by the alias of John Matcham: an heiress kidnapped by Sir Daniel, to obtain guardianship over her and to retain control of Richard by giving Joanna as the latter’s bride.
As they travel through Tunstall Forest, Joanna tries to persuade Dick to turn against Sir Daniel in sympathy with the Black Arrow outlaws, whose camp they discover near the ruins of Grimstone manor. The next day they are met in the forest by Sir Daniel himself, disguised as a leper and returning to the Moat House after his side was defeated at Risingham. Dick and Joanna then follow Sir Daniel to the Moat House. Here Dick confirms that Sir Daniel is the murderer of his father, and escapes injured from the Moat House. He is rescued by the outlaws of the Black Arrow.