Historical tales


Material Information

Historical tales
Physical Description:
1 v. : ill. ; 20 cm.
Groombridge and Sons ( Publisher )
Groombridge and Sons
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
History -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1879   ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1879   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1879
Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London


General Note:
Includes 2 p. publisher's catalog.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 001545945
oclc - 22427215
notis - AHF9470
System ID:

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T was a bright, hot summer's afternoon, and
the lake in front of the Chateau de Clair-
"ville was sparkling in the sunshine as the
soft breeze rippled its surface. A boat
containing three young lads was- floating at a short
distance from the landing stage. Two of the boys
were fishing; the other, their page, was keeping the
boat in a right position by an occasional skilful move-
ment of his oars. Some time had elapsed, and not
even one rise had rewarded the patience of the
anglers, and the younger boy, Henri, put up his
rod and sat looking dreamily over the side of the
boat, whilst his brother Rodolphe, the young Marquis
de Kermel, continued his efforts. At last he began to
reel up his line, and, turning to the bright-faced
young Breton who was rowing, said-
"Pull over to the other side, Ewan, it is no use
fishing here any longer; stay in deep water just
beyond that rock, and I will throw in towards the
The boy obeyed, and began pulling steadily to-
wards the spot indicated.
"'Your patience is soon exhausted, Henri," said

the Marquis to his brother, as he seated himself
beside him.
"Well," answered the younger lad, "when one
has fished for two hours without even a rise, I think
one may give up the hope of sport."
"But I do not intend to give up so soon," said
Rodolphe; "I promised the Vicomte de Senneval a
taste of our celebrated red-fleshed trout when he dined
here this evening, and I mean to keep my word, if I
fish till dinner-time."
Ewan rowed steadily on, the breeze freshened as
they got out further into the lake, and the small
waves murmured pleasantly against the side of the
boat. At last they reached the large rock, and Ewan,
resting on his oars, allowed the boat to drift with the
The Marquis let out his line and commenced
throwing his fly towards the shore, whilst his brother
leant over the side of the boat dabbling his hot hands
in the cool water, and gazing down into the dark
depths over which the boat was drifting.
Nothing broke the silence but the lazy ripples
which murmured around, the hum of the countless
insects rejoicing in the sunshine, and the occasional
faint sound of the long line constantly and skilfully
thrown. This went on for some time, then the
Marquis changed his fly; still no success, then he
tried another, and after a few casts there was a
sudden splash in the distance, and instantly the top
of the rod was bent nearly double.
"Hurrah !" cried the angler, "I have him fast,
a three-pound fish at least, I should say from his
He carefully played the fish, which ever and anon
sprang high into the air, displaying its beautiful gold,


red-spotted sides, and each time, as it leapt into the
air, down went the top of the pliable rod, and each
time when raised again the prize was still securely
hooked. At last the fish showed signs of exhaustion,
and Rodolphe began to reel him firmly in. Up to
this time the others had been looking on at the ex-
citing contest with open mouths, but now Ewan drew
in his oars, so as to be ready to use the landing-net
which lay beside him. Just as he was taking in the
second oar the fish made a sudden swerve, shot under
the boat, the line caught upon the oar, in one instant
it snapped in two, and the prize, so nearly won, dis-
appeared in deep water.
Scelerat !" hissed the Marquis through his teeth,
as he turned with eyes of fury upon his page, I will
teach you to spoil my sport by your stupidity; go
after the fish and bring him up again," and he seized
Ewan by the collar and swung him into the lake.
Oh! Rodolphe," exclaimed his brother, witfl
horror in his face, you know he cannot swim !"
Rodolphe was secretly distressed at what he had
done, but he was still in too great a passion to say so,
and muttered that he deserved his fate, and that one
page more or less was of no consequence.
Henri made no reply, he was already undressing.
Rodolphe sat down and took up the oars to row away.
Already the unlucky Ewan had risen once to the
surface, and with despairing cries sank again. A
second time he appeared and threw up his hands as
the pitiless element sucked him down, but now Henri
was ready, clasping his hands above his head he
sprang into the lake and then swam towards the
drowning boy. Ewan rose for the last time; his head
was at some distance from his young master, and
before the swimmer could reach him, he sank again;


but the intrepid boy dived, catching him by his long
hair just as he was sinking in deep water.
It was perhaps fortunate that by this time Ewan
was insensible and unable by struggles to add to the
difficulties Henri had in saving him, for at this part
of the lake there was no possibility of landing, and
Henri had to swim nearly across the sheet of water
before he could find a shelving beach.
In the meantime, rather confused by what he had
done, Rodolphe had rowed away from the scene, and
was mooring his boat to the pier, when he turned
round and saw his brother swimming across the lake
supporting Ewan's head upon his shoulder. He then
became aware, for the first time, that the distance
which would have been nothing to Henri on ordinary
occasions was now a serious matter, heavily laden as
he was, and becoming alarmed, he called two servants
and desired them to row as fast as possible to the
rescue. More ready help, however, was at hand, for a
favourite dog, which was basking in the sunshine
before the hall door, roused by Rodolphe's call, came
bounding towards the lake, and from the raised bank
saw in the distance the head of his beloved playfellow.
Before the men could start the boat Bruno had sprung
into the water and was swimming fast towards the
now labouring boy. And well it was that he did so,
for each moment Henri was breathing more heavily
the weight he supported seemed to become intoler.
able, but the generous boy would not cast off the
burden, though that would have secured his own
safety, and with failing sight and painful breath he
struggled on. What was his delight when'he saw his
favourite hound fast approaching him! With a bark
of recognition the dog swam up to him, licked his
ace, then turning round, he kept close to his young


master, who rested one weary arm upon the faithful
creature. It would have been impossible, however,
for it to have borne the double burden long, but
fortunately the boat was now rapidly nearing them,
and the rest which Bruno had given his master
enabled him to keep up till the servants reached him,
and drew the two boys into the boat; one to all appear-
ance dead, the other just sinking into insensibility.
In the meantime Rodolphe had been into the
chateau and told his mother of the affair. Without
waiting to speak to him, she ran down to the shore and
watched the boat as it approached the pier. When
they lifted the boys out she directed the servants to
carry them both into the chateau, followed them, and
directed all the efforts made to restore them to life,
showing no difference between Ewan and her own
son: nay, when in a few minutes the colour came
back into Henri's face, and he opened his eyes with a
smile, she kissed her darling boy with a silent thanks-
giving to God for his preservation, gave careful orders,
and left him in charge of her own maid, whilst she
went into the next room and devoted herself to the
more difficult task of recovering the other sufferer.
For Ewan was not a strong boy (which was the
reason he had never learnt to swim), and he had been
so long in the water, that more than an hour elapsed
before he showed the slightest sign of life, and even
the patient Marquise began to fear that it was a hope-
less case. At last his chest began to heave, and he
opened his eyes, but they were wild with fever, and
all that night he tossed to and fro upon his bed,
watched by his tender mistress, who soothed the
excited brain with cooling lotions, and did all that
care and skill could do to relieve the sufferer.
So the Vicomte de Senneval dined at the chateau

that -evening, but. did not taste the celebrated Glair-
ville trout, and on hearing from Rodolphe the reason
of his disappointment he commended the Marquis for
having so appropriately chastised his menial, and by
his coarse wit deadened the conscience of the boy.
But when his guest was gone, the Marquise called
her son into her boudoir, and gravely but kindly talked
to him.
"It is only by God's mercy that Ewan was saved,
and not only he, but your own beloved brother-now,
if Ewan had died, Rodolphe, you would have been a
murderer !"
"That is an ugly word, mother; I never heard it
applied to De Senneval when he threw his groom over
the cliff for impertinence, and the fellow broke his
neck in the fall."
I wish, Rodolphe," said the Marquise earnestly,
you would listen to the dictates of your own heart
and conscience, without thinking so much of the
judgment of that very polished but cynical young
Vicomte. If for no higher reason, it would be well
to avoid acts of oppression, considering the excited
state of the country, the rising of the people in Paris,
the impatience they show of the power of the
"Nay! mother," said he, drawing up his proud
young head, "fear shall never make me pander to the
"I wish you to fear nothing but wrong-doing,"
said she tenderly, as she looked on her first-born with
motherly pride, "only remember that those whom
you and your companions call canaille, have rights as
well as yourself, and if they owe you loving service,
you owe them justice and care."
There were few mouths in Frauco at that time


which would have spoken thus, but the Marquise do
Kermel was an Englishwoman, and had brought from
her island home principles and virtues which, alas!
were rare in her adopted country. The late Marquis
had seen her at the Court of St. James's when there
on a diplomatic mission, and fell passionately in love
with her beauty. His polished, insinuating manners,
his devotion to her, won her young affections, and it
was only after two years of chequered happiness,
during which her two sons were born, that she dis-
covered the utter worthlessness of him to whom sho
was bound. He left her in his chateau in Brittany,
whilst he wasted his money and time in the capital,
and about four years before our tale opens he was killed
in a duel.
Whilst her husband was thus spending his life in
folly, his high-spirited, though half-broken.hearted
wife, devoted herself to the education of her sons, and
the oversight and care of the estate. In the latter
case she was much hampered at first by the ruinous
exactions which were made to supply the extravagance
of the absentee Marquis. After his death things went
more smoothly, she remitted several vexatious taxes,
improved the dwellings of her tenants, visited them
in sickness and want, and was adored by the warm-
hearted Breton peasants.
Nor was she less successful in the care of her sons,
for in an age of effeminacy and profligacy she brought
them up to be manly, pure, and religious, in which
labour of love she was helped by the family chaplain,
Pere Laroche, a simple-hearted, earnest, and good
man. But the last six months Rodolphe had become
intimate with one of the neighboring families, whom
the disturbance in Paris had driven back to their
Breton estate, and the influence of the unprincipled


De Senneval had worked grievous harm in the boy's
mind, for though Rodolphe had generous qualities,
he was passionate and easily led. Nor must we be
much surprised at this, for Rodolphe was only sixteen,
and he was flattered by the attention of one so much
older than himself, whose acquaintance with Paris and
the Court naturally gave him considerable influence
over the unsophisticated boy.
Henri, the second son, was more like his mother;
sweet-tempered, rather dreamy, yet manly withal, and
much beloved by the servants and tenantry. Ewan
was his foster-brother, and both Rodolphe and Henri
had made quite a companion of the young Breton till
De Senneval's influence made the Marquis look down
upon those beneath him as canaille, and gradually
hauteur on the one side, and fear on the other, had
estranged master and page, till the incident on the lake
made a bitter breach between them: all the more
galling on Ewan's side, because it must be hidden;
whilst Rodolphe exemplified Rochefoucauld's cynical
maxim, that we hate those whom we have injured.
It was weeks before Ewan recovered: for some
time his life was in great peril, and only the Mar-
quise's tender care and watchfulness saved him. When
he was convalescent, Monsieur Henri would visit him,
sit by his side chatting with him, reading to him, now
bringing him fruit, then flowers, helping to while away
the weary hours of weakness. And Ewan's gratitude
to them both knew no bounds, as he felt that he owed
his life to them. The Marquise had sent for his
mother, Yvonne Bergerat, who resided at the little
town of Concarnot, and the poor woman could scarcely
express her thanks to Henri for saving her only boy,
and to his mother for her unwearied care.
The summer passed away, the long winter came


with its storms and darkness; but nature's fury was
as nothing to the tempest of human passion that was
rising throughout France. Though as yet little of this
had been felt in remote Brittany, society was so dis-
organized by the oppression and sins of the aristocracy,
the ignorance and suffering of the lower orders, that
it needed little to set fire to the smouldering elements
of discord. Already, even every village contained its
little knot of Jacobin politicians-the little cloud which
was so soon to rise and cover the heavens I
Each provincial club was in connection with the
parent society in Paris, and the decrees of the central
authority soon vibrated by a thousand strings to the
remotest points. Now it happened that the late
Marquis's valet was Jean Bergerat, the husband of
Yvonne, Henri's foster-mother. When his master
died in Paris, Jean was with him, and declined to
return to the chateau, seeing in the seething state of
society fit atmosphere for a mind like his, hopeful field
wherein to labour and to rise. For bad masters gene-
rally make bad servants, and the wicked Marquis
little knew what animosity dwelt in the breast of his
too obsequious attendant, nor how the memory of each
insult was treasured up day by day, to be visited here-
after upon the heads of his innocent descendants.
Bergerat became an active member of the Jacobin
central society, and a satellite of Robespierre, a dan-
gerous man, whose enmity would be fatal.
And so the winter passed away, and Rodolphe had
forgotten the lake scene, and every other instance of
pride and oppression; but alas they dwelt in the
memory of one, and the young page's face grew
gloomy, and a secret fire burned in his mind as Do
Senneval and his master made him the butt of their
stupid jokes, or the recipient of their insults; and it


was only when the boy spoke to the Marquise or to his
foster-brother, that his face ever wore its formerly
open, pleasant expression.

ON the 29th of May, 1793, late in the evening, there
might have been seen in a small room in Concarnot
three people in earnest and somewhat excited con-
versation. One, a man whose face, equally with his
red cap, told that he was a Republican; his wife, a
sweet-faced Breton woman, was evidently entreating
some favour from him; whilst standing behind her
chair, listening, but taking no part in the discussion,
was our old acquaintance Ewan, still clad in the livery
of the De Kermels.
At last the man arose and said, I tell you,
woman, I cannot spare the boys; if I give you
the life of Citoyenne Kermel, it is all that you can
"But what harm have they done ?" asked she.
"And has not Monsieur Henri been nursed in the
same arms as thy son, and has he not saved Ewan's
life at the risk of his own, and wilt thou kill him for
the sins of his father ?"
Who put Ewan into peril ?" asked her husband
sternly. They are all alike; give even Henri time
to grow up, and he will be like his ancestors. The
young of the wolves only want their teeth to devour:
they must be got rid of."
"But, father," interposed Ewan, "I do not think
Master Henri is like other boys; let Monsieur lo
Marquis suffer, but surely you can spare my fostor-
Sbrother !"


"I have sworn, Ewan," said Bergerat fiercely,
with an oath, that not one of the De Kermels shall
be left alive, so say no more; Madame shall live, she
is English, she suffered from my enemy; the rest of
the family, with all aristocrats, shall be blotted
So saying, he settled his red cap firmly on his head,
and left the house, going to an inn wherein was to
meet that night the Jacobin Club of Concarnot, to
make arrangements for visiting and dealing justice
upon the chateaux of De Senneval and De Kermel.
In the meantime these doomed families were well
aware of the danger in which they were placed, though
not of the immediately impending storm. For some
weeks De Senneval had been engaged in drilling and
arming his tenants, vainly thinking that they would
shed their blood in defence of a master whom they
hated! Madame de Kermel would not allow any
warlike preparations to be made upon her estate; she
thought the affections of her peasants was a secure
safeguard than the sword. In vain she was warned
that the revolutionary fever was spreading, and that
no aristocratic family was safe. In vain her brother,
Sir George Corbett, came to Concarnot in his yacht,
and entreated her to accompany him to England with
her sons and Father Laroche. She considered her
place was at Clairville, for she could not believe that
if she discharged her duties to her dependants there
could be real danger in remaining at her post.
Late on that 29th of May, she and her boys were
walking on the terrace in front of the chateau.
Rodolphe had been urging her to let him arm their
tenants, but Madame de Kermel would not hear
of it.
"Let us not give offence by seeming to expect


such things, dear Rodolphe; let us be peace-loving,
and surely we shall be allowed to live in peace."
Rodolphe was only half-convinced, but his love and
respect for his mother were too great to permit him
to continue the topic which he saw was distressing
to her.
The night was calm and peaceful, and the full moon
shone upon a scene of great beauty; the lake lay
placidly sleeping, reflecting from its unruffled surface
the soft light of the moon; the nightingales were
singing in the woods around, and their sweet strains
were the only sounds upon the still night air. Peace
seemed to reign, peace and quiet, nature in her gentlest
mood; not the calm which precedes a storm, but the
quiet rest when all things sleep, and gather strength
for the coming day. They felt the influence of the
hour, and gazed with love and pride upon their ances-
tral home, so dear to each.
As twilight deepened into night, they entered the
chateau, and were about to retire, when the hall-bell
rang, and presently the door of the salon opened,
admitting their chaplain, Pere Laroche. They were
surprised to see him, as he had gone to Concarnot
that morning, not intending to return till the following
ciay, ard when the door was shut and he came towards
them, they saw that his face was greatly agitated.
"Madame la Marquise," said he, hurriedly, I
am come to entreat you to fly with your boys before
it is too late. Your brother is still cruising off the
coast, and I have arranged a signal whereby he can be
called to any given point. When I got to Concarnot
this afternoon, an old peasant woman came to me, and
told me that your chateau is to be attacked to-night,
that Bergerat has come with full powers from Robes-
pierre, and has been heard to swear that he will


destroy the name of De Kermel. Even now the mob
is on its way, and we must leave by the wood to avoid
our enemies. The dread of the Revolutionary Tribu-
nals is too great to let the peasants rise in your defence,
even if they had not been tampered with. Fly, my
daughter, fly, I pray you! No good can be answered
by your staying here, the lives of your sons will be
sacrificed, all will be lost; disguise yourselves, and let
us leave the chateau at once."
The Marquise was greatly moved. She looked at
her noble boys, and her mother's heart yearned to
place them in safety; the way of escape seemed plain,
and, after a short consultation, they decided to wait
till all was quiet, then dress in plain clothes, and leave
the chateau at midnight. But it was not to be! An
enemy was within the walls, and when all their arrange-
ments were complete, and they went down to the great
hall, they found the massive door securely locked, but
the key was outside! They remembered a little pos-
tern gate and hurried to it; it was locked, and the key
gone! The windows were too high from the ground
for them to jump down, and even if not so, were too
small and iron-barred to admit of their escape through
them. They looked in each other's white faces. Who
had done this ?"
"It is Ewan," said Rodolphe.
"I will never believe it," said Henri, indignantly.
I fear," said the priest, "that Rodolphe is right.
I saw Ewan amongst the servants as I came in, but I
know he spent the afternoon with his father in Con-
carnot, besides which he has absented himself from
service lately, and has been sullen and disrespectful in
Henri meantime had gone straight to Ewan's room
to awake him, and see if he knew aught of the coming

storm, so utterly unsuspicious was he. He opened the
door of the small chamber Ewan occupied, and found
it empty, the bed untouched, but lying upon it in a
heap all the livery clothes the page possessed. He
then went down into the servants' hall; no one was
to be seen; deep silence reigned around. As he was
looking in every corner for some sign, Rodolphe came
hurriedly down, and said, "Come with me to the
Eagle Tower, Henri; I hear the distant sound of
horses' hoofs, and I cannot see the road from any of
the windows."
The boys ascended a winding staircase, which led
from the hall to the summit of a lofty watch-tower,
and were followed to their place of observation by
their mother and the priest. The sounds came nearer
and nearer; not one, but many horses seemed approach-
ing at furious speed, and presently into the moon-
lighted road galloped the Vicomte de Senneval, fol-
lowed by a troop of wild-looking horsemen.
He reached the chateau first, and rung a loud peal,
but before he could observe the key in the latch and
use it, his pursuers were upon him, and after a furious
combat, in which shots were freely used and swords
flashed, he was dragged from his horse, and with loud
cries of execration and hatred, was roughly bound with
Shortly after this, a dull sound was heard, and then,
marching up the avenue to join their mounted brethren,
came a strange, motley, horrible crowd. Some were
armed with scythes bound on poles, others with mus-
kets and swords; women with hag-like faces and shrill
shrieks; men with unkempt beards and hair, with
deeper, hoarser tones. The storm had risen at last on
peaceful Clairville, and was surging up against the
walls of the chateau.


"Escape, good father!" said the Marquise, turning
to the priest, and laying her head upon his arm, sepa-
rate from us; you know every turn of the chateau, you
speak the Breton patois; if you are captured it is
certain death, we might escape."
"If I leave you," said Pere Laroche quietly, "it is
that what you say is true, and my presence would do
you more harm than good. I will try to escape, that
hereafter, if it please God, I may help you more
effectually than I can now. I go, therefore, perhaps
to death, God knows, and to His will I resign myself."
He then put his hands upon their heads, blessed them
severally, and disappeared.
The trio gazed down upon the strange scene
beneath, and heard the voices of Ewan and his father
directing the infuriated mob, as they approached to
open the treacherously unguarded door.
"We will not be found here, like miscreants and
cowards," said the brave Marquise, we will go down
into the salon, and there await our foes;" and the
boys, though pale, followed their noble mother with
undaunted hearts. The hastily-awakened servants
were flying hither and thither like frightened sheep,
too much upset to dream of resistance, which indeed
would have been worse than useless.
The house was soon filled with the roars of the
invading multitude. The Marquise lighted all the
candles in the salon, and then she and her boys stood
calmly awaiting their fate. The door was soon thrown
open, and the armed mob, headed by Bergerat, rushed
Down with the aristocrats death to the enemies
of the people! long live liberty, equality, fraternity "
shouted the unreasoning crowd.
"Take the she-wolf and her cubs prisoners," said

the practical ex-valet, " bind them and lead them away
to answer for their crimes before the tribunals of their
A wave of the insurgents rushed towards the de-
voted trio, rough hands seized the boys, and roughly
were they bound and hustled into the courtyard;
whilst with loud, bitter cries, but gentle touch, the
Marquise's hands were bound by Ewan, who,
brandishing a sword over her head with shouts of
execration, nevertheless managed to lead her quietly
away, and then she and her sons, with De Senneval,
were tied in a country cart, under the guard of some
of the insurgents. The rest of the mob, mad with
excitement, pillaged the chateau, throwing costly
furniture and valuable pictures out of the windows;
they sacked the cellars, and soon were furiously drunk
with spirits as well as madness. They then set fire to
the beautiful mansion, and all was destruction and
horror, the faces of the captives being lighted up by
the lurid flames which were destroying their beloved
At last the pale morning dawned upon this scene
of woe, and, satiated for the time, the insurgents, with
wild cries and revolutionary songs, accompanied the
cart to Concarnot. A long train of prisoners followed
them, but nowhere could our captives discern their
beloved chaplain.
When they reached Concarnot, they found the
town in the hands of the Revolutionists, and were
soon placed in the common prison, finding there a
crowd of sufferers like themselves, culled from the
best families in the neighbourhood. Their quarters
were small, close, and miserable, a sorry resting-place
for delicately nurtured people, though they were not
likely to occupy it long, as the Revolutionary Tribunal,


presided over by Bergerat, was to commence its sit
tings the next day.
After a weary day, and a still more wretched
night, the door opened, and the rough jailer sum-
moned the Citoyenne Kermel before the Tribunal.
The Marquise rose, kissed her boys, gave a parting
smile to those she knew, and followed the man into an
adjacent room.
Bergerat was seated at the head of a small table,
whilst two or three clerks sat below him; the room
was full of men in red caps, but standing behind the
chair of the President were Ewan and Yvonne.
"Read the accusation of the prisoner," said Ber-
gerat to one of his clerks.
The man proceeded to read the indictment, whereby
it was proved that the Citoyenne Kermel, sometimes
called La Marquise de Kermel, was by her very posi-
tion, an undoubted aristocrat, a harbourer of priests,
and an enemy to the sovereign people.
Upon this Ewan stepped forward and said that
doubtless this was true; but, on the other hand, she
had not oppressed her tenants when they were in
her power, she had nursed him in sickness as if he had
been her own son; and though he hated all aristocrats,
he thought the great Republic might spare one who
was so singularly different from her class.
Yvonne then appealed to the citizens present; said
she, "You are too just to punish the innocent with the
guilty. This woman remitted taxes, cared for her
poor, did not carry herself haughtily as if she were
above us; surely she is at heart a good citoyenne.
The men looked at their President's face, and read
therein that in this case they were to be lenient, so
with cries of "Vive Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite'! vive
la Citoyenne Kermel they undid her bonds, shook


her heartily by the hand, and Yvonne, taking her arm
led her away.
But as she was leaving the room, the Marquise
turned and said-
Citizens, be merciful to my boys! they are so
young, they are all that I have to live for."
"Woman," replied Bergerat sternly, be thankful
for thy own life, and leave thy sons to the justice of
the Republic."
Yvonne gently but firmly led her away, in which
kind office she was seconded by a truculent-looking
man with a great beard, grimed face, and red cap,
who accompanied the two women to Yvonne's cot-
"When they had entered the house, and the door
was shut, the man spoke in his natural voice, and the
Marquise started with delight as she recognized the
tones of her chaplain Pere Laroche, who had escaped
capture in his present disguise.
Having exchanged a few words with the Marquise,
he left her in the charge of the faithful Yvonne, whilst
he went back to the court to watch the progress of the
He found the business proceeding quickly, but so
many prisoners had been taken, that the day waned
before Rodolphe and Henri were brought before the
President. Not one voice was raised in their favour,
not one word of mercy spoken; they were malignant
aristocrats, sons of one who had ill-used even the
President of that court. Death was the sentence-
death in the general fusillade which, to-morrow, about
three o'clock in the afternoon, was to clear from the
earth some sixty men, women, and children. The
De Kermels were then taken back to prison, where
by some arrangement of Ewan's, they were confined in

a small chamber in a turret, and thus separated from
the rest of the captives.
In the meantime, Pere Laroche, on hearing the
sentence of death, hastened back to the cottage of the
Bergerats, and gently broke the fatal news to the
Marquise. When the first burst of grief was over, he
urged her to accompany him to the shore, where he
had a boat in waiting to convey her to her brother's
yacht which was cruising outside the harbour. But
this the poor mother positively refused to do. Over-
whelmed with grief, she insisted upon remaining to
see her sons die, if she could not save them; and as
for her own danger, what was her life worth when her
boys were to be taken from her?
At last Pere Laroche seemed to give way to her
wish, and begged that she would take some rest to fit
her for the coming ordeal; and he went himself into the
little kitchen to prepare her a cup of coffee, which he
shortly brought in to her.
She took it dreamily, and drank it off, then, with.
out undressing, lay down upon Yvonne's bed, and in
a few minutes fell into a deep sleep, for, as a last
chance of saving her, the coffee had been heavily
After a short consultation with Yvonne, the good
father, wrapping a shawl round the insensible Marquise,
took her in his arms, and, through the friendly dark-
ness, carried her down to the shore, accompanied by
Yvonne. There, under the shadow of a large rock,
was moored a boat in which he placed his inanimate
burden, gave his parting blessing to the poor Breton
peasant, then took the oars, and soon was rowing
steadily out of the harbour. The night was moderately
calm, and Pere Laroche was powerfully built, and used
to rowing, so that he made rapid progress. When he

had proceeded for about half an hour, he stopped,
drew in his oars, tied a blue light to ,ne of them,
lighted it, and held it up in the air. Soon he had the
joy of seeing a rocket go up in the offing towards the
north-west. It was the signal he had arranged with
the English yacht, and resuming his oars, he rowed
steadily onward in the direction indicated. Before
long the large white sails of the vessel became visible;
and shortly the priest was alongside the yacht, and
having seen his insensible charge drawn up, he fol-
lowed, and reached the deck, where master and crew
gathered round him to hear his story.
His tale was shortly told. Sir George Corbett
listened with lowering brow, and ground his teeth, as
he felt how utterly impossible it was to do anything
to save his nephews. If he had but a hundred British
soldiers, he would have stormed the prison, but with
half a dozen men only, nothing could be effected. The
priest wished to returninhisboat to Concarnot, to watch
over the last hours of the De Kermels, but this the
Englishmen would not suffer, knowing that if he did so
he would go to certain death.
So orders were given, and presently the white
sails swelled with the freshening breeze, and the yacht
wended her way northward, bearing the still insensible
fugitive to that refuge of the persecuted-our island


WE have seen that after their condemnation, Rodolphe
and Henri were conducted, under Ewan's directions,
to a cell in a turret of the prison. It was a small

round chamber, with a mere loop-hole for a window;
the walls were thick, the door strongly barred with
iron; so their jailer undid their bonds, For," said he,
laughing, you are safe here, young masters; a mouse
could scarcely get out of this room;" and having
given them a loaf of black bread and a jug of water,
he left them alone.
It was a relief to move about unshackled. The
two boys had behaved with composure and dignity in
the trying scenes through which they had passed, but
now that there were no hostile eyes to notice them,
their long pent feelings gave way, they threw them-
selves into each other's arms, and wept. Death stared
them in the face, but Rodolphe determined to meet it
bravely, as became the son of his race, and Henri
sought consolation in the only true source of help in
life's great realities, and from his deep-seated faith in
God, drew strength in this his time of need. Long
and affectionately they talked together, till twilight
faded into night; and at last the weary boys ate their
frugal meal, lay down on the bare floor, and fell fast
asleep, for youth is soon tired, and they had had no
rest the previous night. They knew that their mother
was released, at which they rejoiced, but they yearned
for her presence in this season of agony: that loving
presence which had never yet failed them, from their
cradles till now-now, when they needed it most, it
was withdrawn, and they both wept silently as they
thought of her, and in weeping fell asleep.
It was midnight: the cold moonlight was stream-
ing into their cell, when they were awakened by the
sound of heavy footsteps ascending the staircase. Then
they heard rough voices, and presently recognized
Ewan's, as he said-
"You see I have my father's order to come and

feast my eyes upon the misery of my former masters,
Citizen Laval."
Certainly, Citizen Bergerat; you are the worthy
son of a grand republican, and I honour his signature
as I would that of Robespierre himself. I would they
were to die by the guillotine; shooting is too good for
aristocrats; I should dearly love to see them looking
out of the national window," and the man laughed at
his own wit.
"Well, here we are," said Ewan, as they paused
on the top stair, now give me the key; I will lay it
on your table as I come down; do you go and drink
to the welfare of the revolution," and he slipped a coin
into the man's hand.
The jailer gave him the key, and with a nod of
thanks descended the staircase, whistling the Marsel-
When his footsteps had died away in the distance,
Ewan unlocked the door, entered, relocked it, then
turning the light of his lantern upon Rodolphe, who
had risen to his feet, he looked fixedly and fiercely
at him, but when he turned his eyes upon Henri, his
face softened, and in gentle tones, he said--
"I dare say, Monsieur Henri, you thought Ewan
a base ingrate, who forgot what he owed to you,
but I am come to prove that I have forgotten
neither goodness nor insult. I could do you no good
at the trial; my father had sworn to exterminate the
race of De Kermel, and had I said a word I should
have roused suspicion, and then been unable to help
at the eleventh hour. Your mother is safe, and I am
come to set you free. Be quick, change clothes with
me, we are about the same height; leave me here,
and as you get towards the bottom of the stairs
pull your cap over your head, blow out the light,

grumble a bit, and imitate my voice; Citizen Laval will
be too busy over his wine to notice much, bid him
good night; say 'Vive la nation!' then turn to the
right, and at the bottom of the street you will find
your foster-mother, who will provide for your further
safety, and if you reach England and your mother, you
will tell her that Ewan was not ungrateful, and speak
kindly of the poor Breton boy." There was a tremor
in his voice as he spoke, and a tear in his bright blue
eye, but he dashed it away as if ashamed of showing
feeling, and hastily began to undress.
"Stop Ewan," said Henri, starting up, I can-
not go and leave my brother to suffer alone. What
would my mother say when I reached her? Would
she not ask me for Rodolphe, her first-born, and how
could I answer her ?"
"'Monsieur Henri," said the boy with a gloomy
brow, I will save you; but if I were to gain honour
and renown instead of death, save your brother I will
not: my father's hatred to your race is not greater
than mine to the Marquis."
"Then farewell, Ewan; leave us to our fate, for
forsake my brother I will not," and Henri threw his
arm round Rodolphe's neck and looked lovingly in his
Hitherto Rodolphe had been standing by, a silent
listener, but now he took his brother's hand firmly in
his and spoke.
"( Ewan is right, Henri, you have done wrong to no
mortal creature, it is just you should be saved; surely
one son will be better to my mother than the loss of
both. Leave me to my fate; I will bear it as bravely
as I may. And, Ewan," said he, turning to the
Breton, I shall bless you with my dying breath if
you have saved my brother. Perchance," said he


thoughtfully, "if I had life given me I should not
despise those beneath me in station again; I cannot
tell, for death, not life, is before me, and I am already
in its shadow."
Ewan looked at the noble boy, whose features were
lighted up with true heroism, and his face worked with
violent emotion. At last he spoke--
Monsieur Rodolphe, I am sorry that I cannot
save even you. I see you have right staff at the
bottom of you, but look I cannot personate two at
once, and there is no possible way of saving either
except in my remaining here."
But," asked Henri, what would become of you
if I accepted your offer ?"
"Oh!" said Ewan, smiling sadly, "the number
would be all right, and even my father himself would
not lift up his finger to save his only son if he had
rescued a De Kermel."
Generous boy !" said Rodolphe impetuously, hold-
ing out his hand to Ewan, even I, proud I, can beg
your pardon for all that I ever made you suffer, for you
have taught me that you are nobler than I, and that I
was wrong; but my brother cannot accept his life on
such terms as the sacrifice of yours; you are the only
son of your mother: so farewell, good Ewan, leave us
to our fate, you shall not be ashamed of your young
masters to-morrow."
Ewan seized the outstretched hand of the Marquis
and kissed it; he was completely broken down.
"What can I do ?" said he, "I see no hope of
rescue. Stay," added he after a pause, striking his
forehead as an idea came into his mind, I will make
one effort more. The fusillade is to take place about
five to-morrow afternoon. If I do not appear before
four o'clock, know that all my exertions are in vain; if

I come, the chance will be very slight, but I will then
give you directions which you must implicitly follow,
and may God save you, for it will be almost beyond
the power of man."
He wrung their hands, he kissed them, and
The night passed wearily enough: broken snatches
of sleep occasionally lulled the captives, and dreams of
freedom wooed them in their slumbers, to be rudely
dispelled when they awoke to the sad truth. They lay
in each other's arms-the love which had always bound
them in childhood seemed to deepen in strength and
tenderness as their time of suffering approached.
Rodolphe's stronger character was balanced by the
higher moral tone of his brother, for when the river of
life passes into the rapids and it is hard to keep up in
the rushing torrent, the victory is not always to those
who breast its smooth waters most gallantly, but to
such as reserve their strength and keep a calm col-
lected mind for the great struggle. To face death sure
and speedy, is hard to the young, but where the soul
has been well trained, where the conscience is void of
offence, and the trust in God's love is deep and true,
then the moments which would daunt the coward,
brace the nobler spirit to bear itself bravely whatever
betide. So Rodolphe, determined as he was to die
worthily as became one of his race, marvelled at his
gentle brother's firmness, and watched the heavenly
expression that came over his face as his lips silently
moved in prayer. The morning came, the hours then
seemed to fly, the great church clock told off with
horrible harshness the fast lessening minutes of their
lives. They could hear the distant murmurs and cries
of the assembling crowds and the harsh voices of those
who now ruled their destiny, but no one came near them,


But just as the clock struck four, and when the hope
of seeing Ewan was becoming faint, they heard him
ascending the stairs: they could tell his light elastic
step from the heavy tread of their sullen jailer, and
with breathless interest they heard him unlock the
door and saw him enter.
I have asked leave to come and tell you your
doom," said he briefly. You are to be fetched from
hence at five, and marched off with about sixty other
prisoners to the great plain, there to be fusilladed till
you are dead." He then added in a whisper, Now
listen earnestly, for I have not a moment to spare,
remember to do exactly what I tell you; the risk is
desperate, but there is a chance, and God grant it may
succeed. You are to stand at the end of the row with
your backs to the pit dug ready for your graves. I
have arranged to have the pleasure of shooting my late
masters, and by most bloodthirsty protestations made
everyone believe I desire no earthly good so much as
your deaths. Many of your tenants have put on the
red cap and shout 'Vive la Nation !' from sheer fear.
I have sounded them, and associated them together in
a band which I call the Company of Bergerat; we
shall stand at the end of the firing party opposite to
you, and load our muskets with blank cartridges.
The very instant the discharge takes place, fall
back into the pit, lie like the dead, speak not, move
not; the rest I will care for, but never give sign
of life till you hear my voice say, 'Monsieur le
Marquis;' then, but not till then, open your eyes.
But," said he, looking sorrowfully at Henri, the risk
is so great, the chance so small, commend your souls
to God, for I feel as if He alone can save you."
With one hurried shake of the hand he left them,
and the brothers prepared as best they might for the

coming trial. Hitherto, the almost certainty of their
fate had the effect of quieting them, but now the slight
hope there was of escape gave birth to painful, rest-
less excitement. They paced their cell; they could
not control the dreadful anticipation, the new-born
hope, the deeper conviction that it could not be
realized. At last, just before five o'clock, a heavy
tramp was heard, doors below opened and shut, sounds
of anger, grief, horror, rose from the cells beneath.
Then steps ascended their staircase, and a band of
red-capped, begrimed, savage-looking men entered,
headed by Ewan. No sign of recognition passed
between them. Rodolphe stood proudly facing his
enemies, Henri quiet and collected by his side.
Now, young enemies of our race," said Ewan
roughly, your time is come. Here, Laval, bind the
The jailer proceeded to bind the arms of the boys
tightly behind their backs.
Let me see that their bonds are secure," said
Ewan, when the operation was complete, and fumbling
behind them, he contrived to loosen the knots slightly,
but so as to relieve the almost intolerable pain the
cords produced.
Now all is ready," said he; "do you lead the
way, Laval, the prisoners will follow, and I and my
brave Clairvilleites will bring up the rear."
The jailer descended, the prisoners passed out,
and as they went through the doorway, Ewan bent
down as if to pick up something, and said in a low
voice, Courage !"
They went down the stairs, into the courtyard,
where was assembled a large crowd of victims like
themselves. Old men and young, tenderly nurtured
women, ay, even with children at their breasts, young

girls and lads of every age-none were spared. To be
rich, to be great, to be gently bred and cultivated, was
enough to make them considered enemies of their
country, now ruled by the scum which in the general
fermentation had risen to the top. The word of com-
mand was given, and in rows of six they marched,
well surrounded by revolutionary soldiers, out of the
courtyard, through the narrow street, the scanty
suburb, up to a plain above the little town where
through the centre was a long deep trench recently
With the flat of their swords, with brutal oaths and
horrible levity were the poor creatures driven to the
edge of this pit. The men generally walked steadily
to their fate, and many a woman too faced death
bravely; but some were so young, and some so weak,
that to come upon death in this sudden and violent
way was very terrible to them, and groans and cries
for mercy were raised-ah! but raised in vain Mercy,
that angel messenger of God, had fled from the black
hearts of those who in the broad sunlight were about
to do this deed of darkness.
Ewan drove the two De Kermels to the end of the
line. "With coarse oaths, with bitter execrations, he
and his companions made themselves prominent even
in this scene of brutality. Some of the more fierce
Republicans said to each other, "The young cock
crows loudly; he is a true Bergerat and deserves well
of the Revolution." "Ah," said others, there is
nothing like a taste of personal vengeance for making
a man a good Republican. Ewan and his comrades
are to have the pleasure of shooting their late masters,
the haughty De Kermels."
All was ready, the row of victims complete. Some
stood proudly facing their murderers; others sank

down on the ground in hopeless, strengthless despair.
The De Kermels stood slightly separated from the
line. Ewan had placed them close to the trench.
Rodolphe's spirit rose with the danger, and he gazed
fearlessly into the barrels of the levelled muskets,
Henri, calm and quiet, held his hand; both were very
pale, almost grey, as if the shadow of death were
already upon them.
At last the word was given, and a sharp rattle of
musketry rang out on the evening air. The Do
Kermels had disappeared, many others too, but some
were barely hurt and still stood on the fatal ridge.
Volley after volley succeeded; shrieks of suffering
were mingled with the sharp intonations of the fire-
arms; and when all were down, though still not all dead,
men went forward with fixed bayonets and put an end
to the half-killed victims. As they advanced to this
work, Ewan sprang forward and with his comrades
reached the trench first. He leaped down, and with
a concealed rag which he drew from his pocket,
smeared the faces of the De Kermels with blood, then
raising himself, he waved the ghastly trophy above his
head, and shouted, "Ah, sweet is the blood of the
aristocrats. Vive la nation!" He stood over them,
as if gloating over the sight, till the butchery was
finished and men began to cover up the dead with
boughs of trees, sods, and stones. Ewan helped
heartily, until they came to the end of the trench; he
threw a few boughs over the De Kermels, and said to
the leader of the firing party, Let us leave this end
scantily covered; I must bring my mother to see the
dead bodies of the wolves she nursed, and when she
has feasted her eyes I will throw in some more sods."
The man, knowing that Ewan's father was the
President of the Jacobin party in Concarnot, suspected


nothing, and laughingly consented: he was amused
at the zeal of the boy, and patting him on the shoulder
"Ah! Citizen Bergerat, thou art a worthy son
of thy father; if all were like thee it would not take
long to clear the country of aristocrats."

SILENCE fell upon that scene of blood. The young, tho
strong, the beautiful, the loved, lay alike in sleep,
from which on earth there would be no awakening. The
murderers went back to the town to drink to the suc-
cess of the great Republic, and then retired to rest and
gain strength for fresh deeds of blood. Night came,
and soon the midnight hour tolled forth its solemn
peal; a new day had begun-a new day for the mur-
derers, with still time for repentance; but for the
murdered, time had ceased to be. Just after the deep-
toned clock had ended, two figures approached the
scene of the fusillade. Heavy clouds hid the moon,
but there was a grey diffused light, which enabled them
to pick their way. They approached the trench.
Ewan went first, followed by his mother. Fortunately,
Bergerat was away, having gone to Quimper to con-
sult the Jacobin club there. Ewan jumped down into
the trench, knelt down and whispered, Monsieur lo
Marquis." No answer. Again he said, more dis-
tinctly, "Monsieur le Marquis." A faint sigh was
heard, and then Henri's voice replied, "Yes, Ewan."
The lad tore off the sods and boughs, and bent
over the prostrate Rodolphe, who, having been deeper
in the trench and more covered than his brother, was

insensible. Ewan took a flask from his pocket, and
moistened De Kermel's lips. A slight shiver ran
through his limbs, and he opened his eyes. Ewan
carried him out of the trench, threw off his hat,
bathed his forehead with brandy, and gave him some
to drink. Rodolphe began to breathe more freely, the
colour came back into his face, his eyes opened
naturally, and he smiled as he saw the passionate
eagerness with which his late enemy watched his re-
Meantime, Henri, who had lain on his face with
ample power of breathing, was quite himself again.
At first, of course, their limbs were stiff from the con-
strained position in which they had remained for so
many hours, and their wrists were cruelly cut by the
cords which had bound them. These Ewan cut off,
and soon, with painful tingling, the circulation returned.
After a time, during which Yvonne lavished upon them
every care, the boys looked more like themselves, and
Ewan said--
"Now, Messieurs, can you walk ? we have no
time to lose."
The two boys tried their limbs, found they could
move, though with some difficulty, and said, "We are
"I must fill up this hole in the trench," said Ewan,
"C so say good-bye to my mother, for when this is done
we must be off at once."
They took a tender leave of the good Yvonne, who
blessed them with tears in her eyes; she gave them a
loaf and a flask of wine; and now Ewan had finished
his task, and they proceeded across the plain. The
tender-hearted woman watched them till they were
out of sight, and then with a sigh, returned to her


For some time the three travellers went on in
silence, till Concarnot was out- of sight; they then
ascended a high hill, and at last came upon the top of
some cliffs overhanging the sea. Ewan now stopped.
"You must go now at the edge of these cliffs for
about three miles, then descend a ravine, ascend the
other side, and resume the path by the cliffs for
about another mile. You will then reach a cove
with a hut in it; go down without fear; there is
always a lamp burning in the window, you cannot
mistake it. Knock at the door, a gruff voice will ask
you your business, say, Is Jean Kernegat at home ?
If he replies, And what may you want with him ?
answer, There is not moonlight enough for a king's
rescue.' He will then know that you are refugees,
and all that man can do to save you he will. You
may trust him, he is my mother's brother. I can do
no more; even now I must hasten back so as to be in
before the dawn, lest I should be missed, and suspicion
The De Kermels embraced the shrinking boy, and
blessed him for his goodness.
"If you join Madame," said Ewan, in a faltering
voice, "give her my respectful duty, and sometimes
speak kindly of your late page; God bless you both !"
and in an instant he tore himself away, and sped
swiftly back to Concarnot.
The brothers went on, hand-in-hand; hope once
more beamed upon them, though thly were well aware
that there was no rest for the soles of their feet in
their native country. On they went in the still night
air, rejoicing in the glorious feeling of freedom. The
day dawned as they came to the ravine, descended and
ascended its steep sides, then saw a bay beneath them,
in which two ships were anchored, and in twenty


minutes they reached the cove to which they were
Having descended the steep side of the cliff, they
found themselves before a small hut. A little oil-lamp
burnt in the latticed window, though its feeble rays
were overpowered by the fast increasing daylight. A
strong fisherman's boat was drawn up on the sands,
and on some posts and ropes were hanging the fisher-
man's nets.
The boys knocked at the door. At first no sound
was heard, then the deep growl of a dog, then a man's
voice exclaimed, Who goes there ? "
Does Jean Kernegat live here?" cried Iodolphe.
"And if he does, what may you happen to want
with him ?"
"We are wayfarers," answered Rodolphe, "and
there is not moonlight enough for a king's rescue."
No answer, but immediately the door of the hut
was opened, and a tall powerful man in a sailor's dress
stood before them. His face was weather-beaten, his
hair grizzled, whilst a huge beard concealed the
expression of his mouth; nevertheless, there was a
kindly twinkle in his eye as he gazed at the boys,
which disposed them to place confidence in him.
When he had finished his scrutiny, he said--
"Ah! I see who you are; aristocrats the canaille call
you, flying for your life, and Jean Kernegat is blessed
if he knows how he shall save you. The captain of
' La Belle France' might, perhaps, be induced to take
you. But come in, my fine gentlemen, you look as if
you had passed through peril enough-come in and
breakfast with me, and we will see what can be done."
They entered the hut, and the fisherman lighted a
bright fire, by whose warmth they were soon much
revived. The hound which had bayed at them, now


came and licked their hands and lay down at their
feet, lazily watching its master, who prepared hot
brandy and water, took a meat-pie and some bread
from a cupboard, and placed the meal on the little
table beside them. "Eat, my children, whilst you
can," said Kernegat, kindly, "you will need your
strength, and now tell me what you wish me to do for
you? "
"We saw two ships in a bay, about a mile from
here, as we passed," said Rodolphe. Do you think
the captain of the merchant vessel would take us to
England? Our mother has been taken to her native
land, and any one who will help us to join her there
will be very amply rewarded."
Two ships," said Kernegat, taking off his red cap
and rubbing his hair-" two ships, did you say?"
"Yes, two," answered Rodolphe; "one a small
schooner, the other a war ship, I think."
Now, God be merciful !" said the old fisherman,
with deep consternation in his face; "I was going to
propose that you should take refuge in that vessel
called 'La Belle France;' I know the captain well.
If there is another ship, it is a government vessel
sent from Concarnot to overhaul 'La Belle France'
before she sails. And worse still, for I know their
cursed ways, they will come here, search every nook
Sand cranny; they will examine every ledge large
enough for a mouse to sit upon, and what is to be
done I cannot imagine. If I could hide you till the
search was over, all would be well, for the captain will
not leave the bay till he hears from me, and the
government cruiser will return to Concarnot when the
tide is high; but that is just the malice of their ways,
for they make their search at high water so that
every cave and fissure may be full and concealment

impossible. Stay," said he, striking his forehead with
his hand, "$I have it; can you face a most fearful
hiding-place, my children ?"
"We stood yesterday to be fusilladed, and then
lay for hours in a trench with all our companions
murdered; so we need not mind what place of refuge
you choose for us, I think," said Rodolphe.
"Then we must be off at once, before the tide is
too high. Take the remains of that pie and the bottle
of wine; you will need to keep up your hearts, for
verily I am going to take you to a Trou d'Enfer, but
we shall cheat those miscreants, and you shall, please
God, see your mother once more."
The old man then opened a chest, and drew out
some sailor's clothes, and said-
Take off those bloody garments, and put on these
warm woollen ones; they will fit you, for I once had a
lad about your size, young master, but he was drowned,
at the age of sixteen, in the Bay de Trepasses, and I
am left alone."
The De Kermels hastily took off their stained
apparel, and were soon clad as sailors. Meantime
Kernegat had taken his oars, and was pushing his
boat down towards the sea. They joined him, helped
him, leapt lightly in, and rowed steadily out of the
They passed the high headland which sheltered the
fisherman's abode from the Atlantic waves and bitter
winds. The coast then became very grand; the rocks
of varied colours of pink and grey rose to a great
height, assuming the most fantastic forms: sometimes
they jutted out into the sea in sharp ridgs, then huge
crags frowned down upon them. Here a fissure would
cleave the very headland, there the sea had worn deep
hollows and caves. At last they reached what seemed

a large natural arch, and towards this the old man
directed his course. The sea was a deep transparent
emerald-green, the sides of the cave were of beautifully
varied coloured stones. Under the arch they passed,
the light becoming less and less, but still the old man
rowed on.
The gradually increasing darkness prevented their
seeing the nature of the place they were penetrating,
but after the first few yards the height of the cavern
evidently became much greater than at its entrance.
On they went, then as the passage narrowed the fisher-
man shipped his oars and propelled the boat by a
boat-hook. At last he stopped, as the prow grated
against rock. Through the distant entrance came a
faint shimmer of light; they seemed in perfect dark-
ness, only as they looked up a faint ray of light seemed
to struggle with the blackness which reigned around.
Kernegat struck a flint, lighted a torch, and soon
its blaze revealed somewhat of the strange scene in
which they were. Rocks above, rocks around, ridge
above ridge till the arched roof closed in this natural
vault. The sea, unlighted by the poor flame of the
torch, looked like a floor of ink, and even with three
persons and the moving boat there was an awful
silence in the place, almost intolerable.
"Ah!" said Kernegat, in a low voice, "it is truly
a Trou d'Enfer, but when dear life is the prize you
may love it as an ark of refuge. No one but myself
knows that when the entrance is filled there is a height
to which you can climb where the waves in ordinary
tides will not reach you, and that slight fissure above
will give you air enough to breathe. I discovered
it by accident, as I will tell you when I come to fetch
you out; I thought some day the secret might be of
use ; and lo! the time has come. Make haste, lads,"

continued he, holding the torch up, clamber up to-
wards that ray of light, cling fast with your hands;
when you reach the top you will find a good broad
slab upon which you will have secure footing. Then
I must leave you before the water fills the entrance,
for my absence would look suspicious and attract
attention. Keep up your courage, you will have to
wait all day, till the tide has risen and fallen, then I
will come again, and, God blessing us, you shall escape
your enemies."
He wrung their hands, seeming to feel for their
terrible position, gave them the meat-pie and wine,
and then directed them on their way. They easily
mounted from ledge to ledge, till the voice of the old
man had a strangely muffled sound, and the torch gave
a more and more feeble light. At last they reached
the slab of rock which was to form their resting-place,
and shouting to the old man that they were safe, they
heard his boat-hook striking the sides of the cavern,
then the plash of the oars; then the entrance seemed
darkened, and finally a fuller ray of light told that the
boat had passed out of the arch, and they were left
Alone! ay, and if a hundred men had been there,
there would have been a sense of loneliness. The
fissure above them admitted air enough, but its course
was so tortuous that the light struggled faintly in, like
the light which fell upon the prisoner of Chillon.
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left."
For if it just enabled them to see each other's form,
it also served more awfully than darkness itself to in-
tensify the horrors of their position; for the rocks had
*a strange, weird look, assuming to their eyes all sorts


of fantastic appearances, and then beneath them was
that moving, restless sea of ink, seething and hissing
as the waves lapped up against the sides of the
Gradually the thin stream of light which came from
the entrance lessened-the tide was rising! At last
that light was blotted out, and none remained to
them but the feeble ray above. And the advancing
waters boomed against the rocks like distant peals of
In the meantime, Kernegat rowed rapidly back
to his hut, drew up his boat, destroyed the
clothes of the De Kermels, began to net, and
awaited the visit which he felt sure he should shortly
About noon the merchantman sailed to the en-
trance of the cove and there anchored; she was fol-
lowed by the man-of-war, and a boat put off from the
latter to examine the schooner ere she finally left for
America. The revolutionary authorities overhauled
her thoroughly, every bale which was questionable was
pierced with swords, every nook was searched, then
the officer gave the captain of "La Belle France" a
permit to sail that evening.
A search was then begun, and whilst one party
went inland another rowed along the coast, its officer
examining each ridge with his glass to see that no
unhappy refugee was sheltered there. On passing the
celebrated cavern he laughed a loud laugh as he pointed
to the arch dimly visible under the waves, and said,
" If any aristocrat has hidden there, they will find that
even the sea destroys the enemies of France."
This boat afterwards visited the cove, and the
officer examined Kernegat's hut; then both parties of
soldiers returned to the ship, reported all well to the

captain, and the man-of-war sailed at once to Quim.
And how were our poor boys faring ? The time
seemed interminable. Accustomed as they became to
the dim light, their eyes could only take in one object
"-the ever-advancing, ever-rising sea of ink beneath
them. On and up it came: ridge after ridge was
covered, and still with unceasing plash it came higher
and -higher. The air rushed up the fissure with a
hissing sound as it was displaced by the encroaching
water; and still the sea rose, yea, even to the ridge
beneath the slab on which they stood, on and on until
it lapped lazily against their very feet!
Rodolphe had never known what fear was before;
he had held himself proudly when surrounded by the
mad crowd of sans culottes thirsting for his blood; he
had gazed firmly into the muzzles of their guns; but
now he trembled, and clung with passionate emotion
to his brother.
When the elements are in force man feels his little.
ness; and here in the dark, in this place of fear,
Rodolphe learnt for the first time in his life the utter
helplessness of humanity, the awful majesty of God.
"Henri," said he in a hoarse whisper, "do you
think God can be with us in this cave of darkness ?"
Henri laid his hand on Rodolphe's shoulder as he
answered, "To Him the darkness and the light are
both alike."
"But suppose Kernegat meant to destroy us!
suppose the tide should really come up to the vault !-
oh, how awful it is! "
Yes," said Henri, "it is indeed fearful; but if we
trust in Him, He will be with us here, even as I felt
He was near us at the fusillade."
Ah I said Rodolphe, but you have never done

amiss, and must have a clear conscience, whilst I have
so often sinned. Each thing that I have done, each
wrong word, each wrong deed, seems as bright as light
before me in this black darkness."
"I too have sinned," said Henri; "ah! dear
brother, who has not? Are we not all weak and
erring, and is not God strong and merciful ? Let us,
ere it is too late, throw ourselves upon His goodness
which never fails, though our faith in it may; let us
confess our sins and seek His pardon, and then if He
wills that we should die He will take us to Himself for
the sake of our dear Lord and His own great
Partly in silence, partly in broken words, the two
boys poured forth their hearts before God. In truth
they prayed, in utter child-like trust they commended
themselves to Him who was able to save; and a great
calm came over them, as they felt the presence of Him
who loveth the broken and contrite heart, and who
never faileth to hear the cry of His children.
The waves had lapped their feet as if in play,
languidly they rolled again and again upon the surface
of the rock on which they stood; but when the wrestle
of their souls was succeeded by the peace which must
come from real faith, they looked down again to mark
the advance of the tide, and lo! it had gone from
the rock, it had turned, and they were safe!
Now God be blessed for ever!" exclaimed Ro-
dolphe, as he clasped his brother in his arms, and if
He will only give me the opportunity, I vow I will
serve Ewan Bergerat at the peril of my life. I see
now how wrong I was; I see how De Senneval misled
me in teaching me to despise those beneath me; and
never again will I look down on a human being. If
ever I feel disposed to be proud, Henri, I shall remem.

ber the Tron d'Enfer, where God has taught me my
own littleness."
Down went the tide; soon was light seen to stream
in at the entrance once more. Their spirits rose; they
ate their pie and drank their wine, and eagerly awaited
the return of their preserver. But it was not till after
many hours of weary watching that the boat came up
the inky waters, and they heard the voice of the old
fisherman calling to them. Loudly and cheerily they
answered; and when the torch was lighted they care-
fully descended and jumped into the boat, fairly
embracing Kernegat in the depth of their delight.
And oh! how glorious was the daylight to their
astonished eyes! it seemed almost too beautiful for
earth, as they emerged from the darkness into the full
refulgence of the setting sun, which was lighting up
sea and land and sky in lovely colours.
The old man watched their countenances, pale and
shadowed as they were by their recent sojourn in fear
and the blackness of night.
"Ay," said he kindly, "it is almost worth staying
in the darkness to appreciate truly the beauty and
blessing of the light."
"Do tell us, dear Kernegat," said Henri, "how
you learnt the secret of that dreadful hiding-place
which has served us so well."
Ah said the old man, I can read in your faces
that you felt the Trou d'Enfer deserved its name."
"I don't know that," said Rodolphe; it was
very awful; but I should say that a Trou d'Enfer was
a place where God could not be, if that were possible."
"True, my boy," replied the fisherman; "but to
a bad conscience it would be an awful place, and even
to a good one if the nature were timorous. I will tell
you now how I came to find it. I went in one day

about three years ago to search for shells, as I thought
I should find them at the end of the hole if there were
a shelving shore. I rowed in and looked about me,
lighted a torch, and gazed at rock and ridge: found
no shore, but observed shell-fish adhering to the sides
of the cavern. After some time, during which I col-
lected large quantities, I put out my torch, and began
to return. What was my horror when I saw the en-
trance was filled-the tide was coming up I thought
it was all over with poor Jean Kernegat. My boat
rose higher and higher. I burned my torch as long
as the materials lasted, but these were soon exhausted.
I then perceived a little light above me, which gave
me hope that I might escape through the fissure that
admitted it; but no, I found the opening was too
narrow to let a cat pass, and I resigned myself to die.
My boat rested against the ledge upon which you
stood, when, after some time, I observed that it had not
risen, nay, I was sure it was lower. And so it proved;
gradually the tide sank, and I saw the blessed day-
light, which these old eyes never expected to see
again. So I noted the tide, and thought at a pinch it
would make a hiding-place indeed."
By the time the old man had finished his story the
boat neared the schooner "cLa Belle France," and
Kernegat hailed the captain, who was an old friend of
They were soon on deck, where the fisherman took
him on one side and said-
"I have brought you some refugees, and if you
will land them in England you will be amply rewarded."
"Yes," said Rodolphe; "my mother has property
in England, and will be able as well as willing to
reward any one who will take her sons in safety to

I do not need money for doing deeds of mercy,"
said the bluff honest Breton. I will gladly go out
of' my way and land you at Plymouth, if you will
guarantee the owners of the vessel, my masters,
against any loss in case of capture by the English. It
will be pleasure enough for Pierre Loban to save you.
Few, alas! escape now; you must tell me how you
have managed to do so."
They briefly related their story, then the time for
their departure came. They warmly bade adieu to the
old fisherman, with earnest thanks for his goodness to
them. He entered his boat and rowed back, whilst
they leant over the side of the schooner waving their
handkerchiefs to him. Meantime, the crew were busy>
sail after sail was unfurled, caught the freshening
breeze, and soon La Belle France was cleaving her
way through the bright green waves. They passed
the cove, the headland, the awful rocks where so lately
they had been, and from their loved but distracted
country they sailed to England, their mother, and

'fWENTY years passed away, and some degree of social
order once more reigned in France; but her very life-
blood still throbbed from the storm through which she
had struggled, and vented itself in the fever of military
And what had become of our Breton fugitives?
They reached England in safety, and deep indeed was
the joy of mother and sons, when, after their great
perils, they met again. More fortunate than most


emigrants, Madame de Kermel possessed some property
in Devonshire, and was thus able to live in comfort
and give her sons a good education. But as Rodolphe
grew to man's estate, he could not rest in the quiet
English home, and at last gained his mother's reluc-
tant consent to return to France and enter the army.
Brave, reliable, and ardent, he attracted Napoleon's
attention, rose rapidly, and his estates and title were
restored to him.
From field to field he followed the Emperor's star,
until the last great game was played and lost upon the
snow-clad plains of Russia. Now Rodolphe amid his
success never forgot Ewan; but all efforts to find his
preserver were in vain. Yvonne Bergerat still lived,
mourning for her son, who disappeared the day after
the fusillade, and had never been heard of again. Her
husband perished at the same time as his patron-the
infamous Robespierre.
But Rodolphe and Ewan were destined to meet
again. One afternoon, early in November 1812, as
Colonel de Kermel, after a desperate engagement, in
which his few surviving men were cut down, was en-
deavouring to overtake the rear-guard of the Grand
Army, he passed a wounded soldier whom the snow
was fast shrouding from view. Alas! he had already
passed so many whom he was powerless to help, for to
stop was to endanger his own life, so intense was the
bitter frost which reigned around. But something in
this man's despairing blue eyes made him pause, and
ask if he wished to send any message to friends in
A few broken sentences revealed the long-lost
Ewan! De Kermel sprang from his horse, bent over
the dying man, raised him in his arms, and gazed in
his face. The grey, haggard features could scarcely


be recognized, but the frank, though dimmed, blue
eyes, which looked up in astonishment, were unmis-
"Have I found you, Ewan?" said De Kermel, in
great agitation, and found you thus !"
Monsieur Rodolphe !" exclaimed the soldier, and
fainted away.
Colonel de Kermel poured the last drop of brandy
his flask contained down Ewan's throat, and soon his
colour returned, and he revived. Then Rodolphe
shook off the snow, bound up his wounds, lifted him
tenderly into the saddle, and guiding the steed with
one hand, supported the Breton with his right
As they pursued their way across the desolate
plain, Rodolphe spoke of his efforts all these years
to find him, and Ewan told him that he had entered
the army under a false name, ashamed of his father's
conduct, since which he had never obtained leave to
visit his mother to whom he was unable to write.
For some time they struggled on, but the snow
fell faster and faster, the cold became more and more
intense. Ewan passionately entreated De Kermel to
leave him to his fate, and save himself, but Rodolphe
firmly refused, saying, Now that I have found you,
Ewan, we will live or die together."
And yet life is sweet, and the thought of his
mother, brother, and one who was to be his wife, was
agony to him. He walked as fast as he could, he
tried to hope against hope, but he clearly saw that if
no help came, they both must die that night.
They were now approaching a forest: deep silence
reigned around, only broken by their muffled footfalls,
when suddenly, on the still evening air, rang out loud
shouts of "Hourra, hourra!" the battle-cry of the


Cossacks, and a troop of these wild horsemen sur-
rounded them.
"It is as well to be cut down as perish by cold,"
said Rodolphe calmly, as he stopped the horse, stood
quietly by its side, and commended his soul to God.
But the Cossacks seeing that no resistance was
offered to them, took the two Frenchmen prisoners,
and carried them before General Kutusoff, whose en-
campment was near at hand. Fortunately, an English
officer, Major Tremaine, an aide-de-camp of Sir R.
Wilson, was with the General when they were brought
in. He was an intimate friend of the De Kermels,
whose property adjoined his own in Devonshire, and at
once recognized Rodolphe. Through his efforts they
were both ransomed on condition of their accompany-
ing him to England, whither he was bound with dis-
patches, and engaging not to resume arms during the
It was one of those exceptional days which some-
times occur even in our dreariest English month--
November: soft and sweet was the air, bright was the
sunshine, a few birds still sang in the trees amidst the
fast falling leaves. The windows of Clairville Hall-a
large house situated on a lovely hill on the south coast
of Devonshire-were open, and Madame de Kermel,
not much changed from the time when we saw her last
in Brittany, was writing at a table; whilst Henri, a
fine gentlemanly man, was standing by her side.
Just as the clock struck twelve, a travelling carriage
drove rapidly up the hill.
Whom have we here ?" exclaimed Henri, as he
looked up. Why, mother, there is a wounded man
in the carriage !"
Madame de Kermel rose in agitation. "Can it be
Rodolphe ?" said she, breathlessly.

Alas! no, dear mother, for I saw this person had
light hair, not Rodolphe's raven locks."
Meantime, the carriage had driven up to the
entrance, and the bell was rung violently. Directly
the door was open Rodolphe bounded into the house,
and following the direction of the butler's hand,
entered his mother's room, and was soon clasped in
her arms.
We will pass over the first few moments of emotion
too deep for speech.
Then Henri said, as he held his brother's hand,
", But, Rodolphe, I could have sworn I saw a wounded
man in the carriage, with his arm bound up in splints
--a man with light hair."
True, dear brother," said Rodolphe, "though I
come home a prisoner on parole, I have brought a prize
with me; who do you think is waiting in the hall ?"
"" Not Ewan Bergerat ?" exclaimed Henri.
The same," said Rodolphe, smiling. "I have
found him at last; he had entered the army under
another name, or I should have found him long ago."
Both Henri and his mother ran out of the room,
and soon returned, leading between them the pale,
worn, haggard Breton. They made him sit by the
fire in the easy-chair, the Marquise kissed his thin
face, and, holding his hand in hers, poured forth her
gratitude to the preserver of her sons.
",Ah !" dear madame," said he, faintly, thatt was
so long ago How could I help trying to save Mon-
sieur Henri, and the Marquis, too, when I found how
really noble he was ? and now he has saved me, for if
it had not been for him, I should have been lying
buried beneath those Russian snows."
Well," said Madame de Kermel, smiling, you
are my captive now. I shall keep you and nurse you


till you are strong and well. No want shall you feel
whilst we have bread, our home shall be yours, and
when you recover you shall choose whether you will
live with us, or with M. le Marquis in Brittany."
"Dear madame, I do so long to see my native land
once more, and my heart yearns for my poor mother,
and"--he hesitated, and looked wistfully up in Madamo
de Kermel's face-" you must not think me ungrate-
ful to you and M. Henri. I never forgot all that you
had done for me, and the thought of you often kept
me from wicked and cruel deeds, which come natu-
rally in a soldier's life; but," added he in a faltering
voice, if you had lain as I did on those dreadful wastes
with the snow coming down upon you like a shroud---
if you had felt no help could come, and then one strong
and merciful had bent over you, had cared for you
tenderly as a brother, risking his own life in so doing,
you would feel as I do, dear madame, that for that
deliverer you must live, and serve him all the rest of
your life."
I understand your feeling, Ewan," said the Mar.
quise gently, with tears in her eyes, as she glanced up
at her two noble-looking sons. "It is most natural,
and we will pray that God may send peace upon the
distracted nations, and then we will all go to Brittany,
Henri and I on a visit, you and the Marquis to spend
the rest of your days in the dear old chateau."

r -


E who have been born in England at a time
when the country is so thickly peopled,
so carefully cultivated, and so crowded
with towns, and villages, and busy cities,
find it difficult to imagine the time could ever have
been when England- was a wild and thinly-inhabited
island, the natives of which were little less barbarous
than the inhabitants of some of the South Sea Islands
whom we call savages. And yet so it was. Two
thousand years ago, this island had on it no trees or
plants which were not the natural growth of the

island, and no buildings perhaps, but a few miserable
huts. Large portions of the island were covered with
vast forests of oak, beech, and elm, with tangled
underwood of briar and hawthorn, maple and hazel,
in which wild boars, wolves, and foxes took refuge.
In other parts were large swamps and morasses, full
of reeds and rushes, where many varieties of water-
fowl harboured, as well as otters, weasels, and water-
rats. Herds of wild cattle roamed over the hills,
and the half-naked inhabitants, instead of tilling the
ground and sowing grain, were content to live by the
chase, or on the wild fruits and berries they found in
the woods. They painted their skins with the juices
of plants, and their only clothing was the skins of the
beasts which they hunted down. Rude spears and
arrows were their only weapons, and they lived for
the most part in caves hollowed out of rocks, or huts
made of the branches of trees, woven together and
plastered over with mud. The most ingenious arts
which they had among them were, perhaps, the making
of small vessels of clay to hold their food, and little
boats of wicker-work covered with skins, in which
they paddled themselves across the streams. They
were rough in their manners and ignorant, worship-
ping the sun and moon, and rude idols of wood and
stone. Their priests taught them no lessons of love
or humanity, but rather encouraged them in the most
cruel practices, such as offering up in sacrifice the
prisoners whom they took in war, under the idea that
it would be pleasing to their idols. These priests,
called Druids, dwelt in gloomy groves, and practised
strange and mysterious rites, so that they frightened
the people into obedience to their will. Their temples
were constructed with enormous blocks of stone, gene-
rally standing in circles, and within these their cruel

sacrifices were offered up by the priests. Such were
the ancient Britons. But these people, savages as
they were, must have had some good qualities in
them, which only wanted the example and teaching of
others in order to render them civilized and rational.
England was intended by a wise and over-ruling
Providence to be in the course of time the great
nation that it is now, and the events by which this
purpose was accomplished are among the most inte-
resting in history.
Perhaps the first notions which they ever acquired
of there being other people in the world cleverer and
more skilled than themselves, may have arisen from
occasional visits paid to the island by the Phoenicians,
who came from the great city of Tyre, in Syria, which
we read of in the Bible, and who landed on the coast
of Cornwall, to procure tin, a metal which abounds in
that part of the island. They traded with the Britons
for the tin, and as their money could be of no use to
the islanders, we may imagine that they gave in
change some of the articles of clothing, utensils, and
ornaments, in the manufacture of which they were so
skilled. Many of these things they would give in
exchange for lumps of tin; each time that they came,
perhaps, leaving behind them some newly-fashioned
garment, weapon, or vessel which served as a pattern
for the poor islanders, and made the cleverest among
them set to work to try and imitate them. The Britons
did not, however, make any very decided advance
towards civilization until about fifty-five years before
the birth of our Saviour, when what was then thought
by them to be a terrible calamity, proved afterwards
to have been an advantage, and helped them greatly
onwards. The Romans, then the greatest and most
powerful, as well as the most highly-civilized people

in the world, having conquered Gaul, or France, heard
there of the fertile island called Britain, which lay on
the other side of the sea to the north-west. They
made several attempts to land upon the island, but
were always beaten off by the natives, who crowded
down to the shore to repel them. At last, however,
the Romans came in such formidable numbers, that a
landing was effected, and the Britons finally overcome.
After this the Romans remained in the island for
nearly five hundred years, adding to their conquests
from time to time, until the whole people were under
their dominion. Different governors were sent from
Rome to rule over them, and some of these being wise
and good, they did much to improve the condition of
the country and people. They not only built towns
and fortresses, but they made good roads from one
end of the land to the other, and taught the Britons
many useful arts. Even to this day, remains of these
roads and fortresses are to be found, and here and
there even the remains of dwelling-houses, which must
have been constructed with both convenience and
beauty. It was difficult, however, for the Romans to
govern an island so far from Rome as Britain, and
when that empire began to lose some of its power, it
was obliged to withdraw its forces, and leave the
islanders to themselves. Now the Britons might have
managed to govern themselves, but they were quite
unable at that time to prevent the invasion of some
rude tribes of barbarians called the Picts and Scots,
who dwelt in the mountainous regions of Scotland,
and were constantly coming down in hordes to disturb
the more peaceful inhabitants of the south. After
many unsuccessful efforts to get rid of these trouble-
some neighbours, they were obliged to apply for
assistance to the Saxons, a warlike people in the north

of Germany, the fame of whose skill in war had reached
them. The Saxons came, headed by two valiant chiefs
called Hengist and Horsa; but after conquering the
Picts and Scots, and driving them back to their
mountains, they were not so ready to return home
again. Seeing how fair and fertile was the land, and
how helpless the inhabitants, they determined to make
a settlement in it; and inviting over more and more
of their fellow-countrymen to join them, they took
such complete possession of the island that its original
inhabitants could never again recover their authority.
Many of the Britons retired to Wales and Cornwall,
and continued a distinct people almost to this day;
but the greater number of the inhabitants of Britain
became so mixed up with the Saxon settlers, that they
were in future but one people. For a long time the
southern part of the island was called West Saxony;
but another tribe from Germany, called the Angles,
almost as powerful as the Saxons, came and settled in
the eastern part, and called it East Anglia. This led
to the whole people being called Anglo-Saxons, and
lastly it came to pass that in time the whole island
was named the Land of the Angles," or England.
The Saxons and Angles were a clever, hardy, and in-
dustrious race of people, and did more for the land
than ever the Romans had done, for they paid more
attention to its cultivation, and their habits and ways
of life suited the climate of the country better than
those of the luxurious Romans; while their many good
qualities make us English people of the present day
feel proud of being descended from the Anglo-Saxon
races of men.
We have thus seen that the islanders received
assistance in their progress, first from the Phoenicians,
.then from the Romans, and, lastly, from the Angles

and Saxons; but it was after the settlement of the
latter people in the island, that a yet greater good
came to the people in the introduction of Christianity,
which tended we believe more than anything to make
them less rude and barbarous. An interesting story
is told of the manner in which this first came about.
It would seem that even after the Saxons and Angles
had settled in Britain, it was a custom to send chil-
dren to Rome to be sold as slaves. It might be that
they were orphans, or the children of prisoners taken
in battle, or it may have been that some parents were
inhuman enough to sell their own children: at all
events, it so happened that some beautiful fair-haired
and rosy-cheeked children were exposed for sale in
the market-place of Rome, and that their looks at.
tracted the notice of Gregory, who was then the
chief bishop of Rome, so that he inquired from what
part of the world they had been brought.
They are Angles," said the bystanders, in answer
to his question.
"Angels, you must mean, not Angles 1" exclaimed
ho; and then turning his attention to the state of the
native country of the little children, he grieved to
think that its inhabitants had never heard the name
of God, nor of his Son Jesus Christ, and he would
fain have gone to Britain to teach the people the
" good tidings which had been brought by Christ.
The duties of his office, however, prevented Bishop
Gregory from doing this himself, so he deputed a
monk of the name of Augustine to travel through
France and cross the sea to the land of the Angles, in
order to make the people Christians, and induce them
to destroy their idols and heathen temples; and, in
their stead, build churches for the worship of the one
true God, and monasteries or holy houses, where those

who devoted themselves to the services of religion
could live in safety, and spend their time in instructing
the young, and taking care of the sick and infirm.
And this was done; and though for many cen-
turies afterwards, the islanders, whether called Britons,
Saxons, Angles, or English, were still too fond of
war, and even in the name of their religion committed
many crimes, yet still there was much good influence
always at work over the minds and habits of the people,
according as they understood and followed the precepts
of the Saviour, whom Augustine taught them to know
and love.

MANY years passed after the Saxons and Angles
settled in Britain, before it became one country under
the rule of one king. For a long time it was divided
into several different states or provinces, governed by
chiefs, who took upon themselves the title of king;
but at length, in 827, one of them named Egbert,
became more powerful than the rest, and making the
others subject to him, he called himself the king of all
England. It was during the reign of Egbert that the
island was first visited by the Danes, a people from
Denmark, who at that time were little better than
pirates or sea-robbers. They had attained great skill
in navigation, and built themselves many ships, in
which, coming down to the coasts of England and
Gaul, they would land and commit all kinds of depre-
dations. At first, these visits of the Danes to the
island were like those of robbers only; and after
having plundered one of the holy houses, or carried

off the herds and grain stores of some village on the
eastern coast, they would be satisfied to retire to their
vessels and set sail again; but we shall presently see
what very formidable enemies to the Anglo-Saxons
these Danes were in the end, and how it became the
whole business of both rulers and people to resist their
King Egbert was succeeded in the government of
the island by his son Ethelwolf, a prince who was less
remarkable for his warlike exploits than most of the
Saxon princes. He was, on the contrary, of a devout
turn of mind, and very strict in his observance of all
the religious ceremonies and customs introduced into
the country by the monks, who had now come over in
great numbers from Rome and settled in England;
and although these monks were too anxious to impose
upon the newly-converted people many kinds of super-
stitious observances, and thought more of teaching
them Latin prayers which they did not understand,
than reading or explaining the Scriptures to them,
they still had been able to awaken in the minds of
both the princes and people whom they taught, much
real piety and love of a holy life.
And thus it was with King Ethelwolf and Queen
Osburga his wife, a Saxon princess of great piety and
virtue. They had already three sons and a daughter,
when, in the year 849, at their royal palace at Wantage
in Berkshire, was born to them a little son, whom they
named zE1fred, or Alfred. Now, there must have been
something about the character or disposition of this
youngest son of Ethelwolf which, from his very earliest
childhood, caused him to be an object of great care
and love to his parents, and either because he had
shown marks of piety and goodness as a very young
child, or because they hoped it might have the effect

of making him disposed for holy things, he was sent,
when only six years old, all the way to Rome, to
receive the blessing of the chief bishop there, which
at that time was looked upon as a great religious
advantage. Escorted by a numerous train of attend-
ants to protect him from harm, the young prince went
and returned again; but though he was a thoughtful
and observing child, all that he saw of the great city
of Rome, and the countries he passed through, would
fade quickly out of his mind at that early age; and
though there might be left a faint impression of having
seen something far greater and grander than anything
around him in England, he would like nothing so well
as that old palace where he was born, and those
pleasant meadows and woods around it, where he could
again resume his childish sports.
And then the education of the young prince began;
such at least as was at that time customary among the
Saxon youths. He learned to use the bow, and to
throw the dart, and became expert in the chase, and
at all kinds of games and bodily exercises, for he was
brave and fearless; but no one thought of teaching
him to read or write. Of books, indeed, at that time
the Saxons had few, and scarcely any one but the
monks was acquainted with the Latin tongue, in which
the greater number of them were written. But
though there was little reading going on among them,
the Saxons were remarkable for their love of music
and poetry. The warriors and princes liked to keep
up the remembrance of all their warlike deeds and
exploits, by means of songs and poems. These were
sung or recited to the people by a race of men called
bards or glee-men, who played as they sang on a rude
kind of harp. The young Alfred loved to hear the
songs of the bards as they sat in his father's halls, and

sang songs and recited tales about the great deeds of
his forefathers, and the warriors who sat around would
each, in their turn, take the harp and sing some song
or recite some story as they struck its chords. And
Alfred learned to play the harp, and was soon as skil-
ful as the rest in bringing forth its sounds, while he
took delight in committing to memory the songs and
stories that he heard from the bards. This was a kind
of knowledge which pleased him better than acquiring
skill in the chase, or dexterity in the use of the bow
and lance, and the more he learned of these songs and
tales the more he wished to hear.
It happened one day, that his mother, who was
also very fond of Saxon poetry, called to her the young
princes, her sons, that she might show to them a
beautiful book of poems which had come into her
possession. It was beautifully written, and was, more-
over, adorned with gaily-coloured pictures and orna-
ments, so that it called forth the admiration of the
youths, who had never before seen so choice a volume.
Whichever of you children," said the queen,
"can first learn to read this book, and say it by heart,
shall have it for your own;" and she probably told
them, at the same time, how fall its pages were of
interesting stories, or spirited songs about the great
deeds of the Saxon warriors and heroes from whom
they were descended.
The elder princes, however, were silent, and
thought to themselves, perhaps, that after all, the
promised reward would not be equal to the trouble it
would cost them-they hesitated to undertake the
task. Then,.as if all at once struck with an ambition
which ever after was to fill his mind-the ambition to
learn and know-the little Prince Alfred stepped for-
ward and asked eagerly, "Will you really give it to

whichever of us can learn quickest to read it and say
it by heart ?" Osburga, his mother, smiled with plea-
sure, and said, "Yes, I will."
Then Alfred took the book from her hands, and
going to one of the monks who lived at his father's
court, he begged that he would teach him to read;
and it is said, that in an almost incredibly short space
of time, he had not only learned to read the contents
of the volume, but bringing it to his mother, was able
to repeat to her the whole of its contents. But this
was only one book, and Alfred soon found that there
were many more books of the kind stored up in the
holy house which stood near the palace, and he deter-
mined that he would also make himself acquainted with
their contents.
What has come over the Prince Alfred," may
some one of his companions have asked at this
time, "that he comes to the sports so seldom, and
has left off following the king and nobles to the
chase ?"
"Know you not," would one of the other princes
reply, "that our brother Alfred is busy learning to
read books with the monks? He is never so happy
now as when he is at his studies."
Books, forsooth!" the thoughtless youths exclaim,
who cared for nothing so much as throwing the spear,
or shooting at a mark. It is well for the country
that all have not the same fancies as the Prince Alfred,
or how should we make any stand against these fierce
barbarians, the Danes, when they come again. It is
well that there are those who like handling the bow and
battle-axe better than vellum books !"
There were others, however, who looked upon the
studies of Prince Alfred with more satisfaction and
pleasure. His father, the king, was pleased to see that

he was so anxious to acquire knowledge, and the heart
of his mother was gladdened by the reports which
reached her of his quickness and perseverance. But
the good Osburga was not destined to remain on earth
to watch over her beloved son in his passage to man-
hood, nor was she to see how the promise of his youth
was fulfilled. She died before Alfred was twelve
years old. It was then that King Ethelwolf deter-
mined to put into execution a desire which he had long
nourished in secret, of making a pilgrimage to Rome;
and he resolved that his son Alfred should be his com-
panion, while he gave up the government of his king-
dom to his eldest son Ethelbald. Considering the
unsettled state of the country at that time, owing to the
constant invasions of the Danes, it was, perhaps, neither
right nor prudent in the king to take such a step; but
the Romish monks who were in England at that time
encouraged a great veneration for the city of Rome,
and persuaded the king that nothing could be more
pleasing to God than visiting its churches and shrines,
while they also represented that it would be a great
advantage to the young Prince to spend some time
there, now that he was old enough to profit by the
instructions of the priests and bishops who dwelt in
the Imperial city.
They accordingly set off with a large retinue of
nobles and followers, and, passing through France,
visited the court of the French king, and stopped at
all the monasteries which were scattered over the land,
and wherever there were holy men of reputation for
sanctity and learning. Then crossing the Alps, they
proceeded on to Rome, where they sojourned a whole
year. This time Alfred was able to turn his visit to
more account than he had done before. He had
acquired, not only a habit of observing carefully, but

of reflecting on what he saw. In viewing the splendid
buildings that adorned the city of Rome, and noticing
the habits of its people, he perceived how backward
were his own countrymen in many useful arts and
acquirements, how much knowledge they were ignorant
of which it was desirable to know; and it may be that
even then there arose in the mind of the young Prince
a deep desire that his native land might improve, and
a determination that when he grew up he would en-
deavour to do something towards that improvement
himself. All the course of his after-life would seem to
prove that this was his good resolve, even at that
early age.



THE year spent by Ethelwolf at Rome was almost
entirely occupied in acts of devotion and piety; and
at his departure he left behind him the most costly
presents for the churches and religious houses there.
On his way home, he stopped for some time at the
court of the King of France, who gave him his young
daughter in marriage, and with this new queen, who
was almost as youthful as his son Alfred, he returned
to England, to find that his son Ethelbald had become
so fond of authority that he was unwilling to relinquish
again the government of the kingdom; and all the
remaining years of the king's life were disturbed by
quarrels with this undutiful son. Then Ethelwolf died,
and Ethelbald became the lawful King of England,
only to reign a few short years, during which he dis-
pleased his people by marrying his father's young

widow. He died at an early age, and was succeeded
by his next brother Ethelbert.
It was during the reign of this second brother that
the greater part of the youth of Alfred was passed.
He took no share in the affairs of the kingdom, and
at that time could have little expected that he would
ever be called upon to reign himself, for there was yet
another brother between him and the throne. It must
be in other ways that he was to serve his country, and
in the meantime he must seek to improve himself. He
determined to make himself so well acquainted with
the Latin language as to be able some day to translate
into the every-day tongue of the people some of the
books of the Bible, of whose contents they were so
ignorant, and he spent most of his time for many
years in quiet seclusion with his books and tutors;
while he dwelt in one of the royal palaces at Wantage
or at Reading, in Berkshire. It is not easy to picture
to ourselves what a palace of these Saxon kings was
like, with its rude architecture, and want of resem-
blance to the kingly residences of our times. The prin-
cipal apartment was perhaps only a large hall, at one
end of which the flooring was raised so as to make a
distinction between the place where sat the king and
his nobles, and the rest of the retainers and servants
when they took their meals. Narrow slits in the walls,
and the open door, were the only apertures by which
light could enter, for glass had not yet been used for
windows. In the middle of the hall was a large stone
hearth, upon which faggots were high piled, and which
as they burned sent up the smoke through an opening
in the ceiling, for there were no chimneys then. The
floor was strewn with rushes and fir-twigs, and only
perhaps in some inner apartment devoted to the use of
the queen and her ladies, was there anything like soft

couches or hangings of tapestry. At the table of the
king, placed across the end of the hall, would indeed
be seen cups of gold and silver, and even vessels of
crystal and glass; but at the board of the retainers
and vassals, only drinking cups of horn were used,
and dishes of the coarsest pottery, out of which tho
men helped themselves to the meats with their rudo
But while it is difficult to picture to ourselves the
interior of Alfred's home, it is pleasant to remember
that out of doors much, even at that remote period,
must have been as it is in the present day with us.
Then as now, around the old Saxon palace, where so
much of his youth was passed, must have been rich
forest glades, where wide-spreading oaks and tall
beeches and elms gave refreshing shade on sultry
summer days. Then as now, the meadows in spring
would be yellow with cowslips and buttercups, and
primroses and violets crown the banks. And though
the people of those days spoke a language which wo
could not now understand, yet there was no difference
in the notes of the blackbird and thrush, as they
warbled in the hedges; nor of the wood-pigeon as it
cooed in the forest shade, nor in the hum of the bees
as they filled the sultry air with their murmurings--all
such pleasant sounds would fall on the ear of Alfred
then as they do on ours now. And full of sweet influ-
ences would be such objects and such sounds upon the
heart of the pious young Prince as he wandered away
from the noisy revellers in the halls of his brother the
king, and sat on sunny banks on the upland, or sought
the shade in the forest glades. Alfred had provided
himself at this time with a little book-he called it his
hand-book, which he always carried about with him in
the bosom of his dress, and into which he would write

down from time to time verses from the Bible which
pleased him, or good and wise thoughts from other
books which he read, or it may be thoughts and re-
flections which passed through his own mind. We can
fancy him in his walks among the beautiful objects
of nature by which he was surrounded, noting down
in his hand-book pious thoughts of God's mercy in
making the world so beautiful for his creatures; or
poring over some verse in Latin from the Bible which
he had copied into it, and coming to a clearer and
truer knowledge of its meaning when helped by such
feelings-as when he read the words of David, "0
Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou
made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." But
if Alfred met with words in the sacred writings which
expressed his own happy and grateful feelings, there
were others which gave utterance to the trust in God
which he needed when bowed down by pain and
suffering. Alfred was not healthy. From his earliest
youth he had been troubled with a very painful disease
which not only caused him great agony at times, but
made him sometimes despair of growing up useful to
others. He feared that he might become lame and
disfigured. He had passed through the days of his
childhood and youth under this affliction, when relief
was at length granted him for a time. He was riding
one day with a party of attendants, and came to a
chapel where were buried the remains of a holy man
or saint, who had attained a great reputation for heal-
ing all kinds of diseases. The story of his wonderful
cures was told to Alfred as he stood before the altar
which had been raised over the tomb of the saint.
Moved by a sudden feeling of hope, Alfred threw him-
self down upon the ground and prayed earnestly to
God for relief from the fate which he so much dreaded

and then arose and went his way. It would seem as if
his prayer had been heard, for though not on a sudden,
yet not very long after, the disease left him, and he
was restored to health and strength at a time when it
became necessary for him to enter into more active
life. Perhaps the first use he made of his newly re-
covered health, was to make himself better acquainted
with his native land.
The Saxons from the time of their settlement, had
done much to improve the general aspect of the
country. There were now towns and villages very
thickly scattered over the land. Churches and monas-
teries had been built of stone, which though only in a
rude style of architecture, were looked upon in those
days with great wonder and admiration. The town of
Winchester, which was considered the capital of the
kingdom, ruled over by the descendants of Egbert, was
remarkable for its churches and religious houses. At
Wimbourne and Sherbourne were churches or minsters
built with great care and skill, in which were deposited
all kinds of relics from Rome and the Holy Land, and
costly utensils of gold and silver, for the use of the
priests in the services of the church, besides valuable
collections of books and manuscripts in Saxon and
Latin. In other parts of the kingdom were still to be
seen the fortresses and other buildings left by the
Romans, such as at London, on the banks of the
Thames, where the Romans had at first built a fort,
and then round about it laid the foundation of a town.
At Canterbury, in Kent, Alfred would take pleasure in
visiting the first Christian church that was raised in
the island, and which was named after Augustine, who
brought into England the knowledge of the Christian
religion, and he would look with respect upon what
remained of the palace of Ethelbert, King of Kent,-

the first of his ancestors who was baptized and became
a Christian.
All these places in the south, Alfred will have
visited, it is likely, and then, perhaps, travelled through
East Anglia, which took in the counties we now call
Norfolk and Suffolk, and he would be able to observe
the difference between its inhabitants, who were
descended from the Angles, and those of the Saxon
settlers. Here, too, had been built rich monasteries
at Ely and Croyland, and Bardsey, filled with monks
and teachers from Rome, with whom Alfred would
converse in Latin, and who would exhibit to him all
their treasures. It was at Gainsborough, in Lincoln-
shire, which belonged to the province of Mercia, that
Alfred became acquainted with a young Saxon lady of
the name of Ealswith, the daughter of an earl. She
was remarkable not only for her beauty, but also for
her sense and goodness; and becoming attached to
her, Alfred demanded her hand in marriage. As the
lady was descended on her mother's side from the
kings of Mercia, it was considered quite a suitable
connection for the young prince to form, and the
wedding was celebrated with great pomp and revelry.
After his marriage, which took place when he was
about twenty, Alfred lived for a short time in happy
seclusion with the gentle Ealswith, and indulged for
yet little while longer his own quiet tastes and pur-
suits. Seated by her side he would delight in reciting
to her, while he accompanied himself on his harp, the
songs and poems he had learned in his childhood, or
he would recall to mind, and relate for her amuso-
ment, the account of all he had seen as a boy at
Rome, or at the court of the King of France, or he
would read to her some of the verses and wise sen-
tences which he had transcribed in his hand-book, At

such time the fingers of Ealswith, we may be sure,
were never idle, for the Saxon ladies of that time were
the most expert and industrious needle-women. They
spent much of their time in spinning, weaving, and
embroidering. Beautiful borders to garments were
worked by them in gold and silver thread and gaily.
dyed wool, besides large pieces of tapestry for hangings
to walls on which the deeds of their ancestors were
recorded; or they worked curious devices for the
banners which their fathers, husbands, and brothers
carried in battle. At such times, Ealswith may have
worked for Alfred the banner which was afterwards so
celebrated, which bore as its device a golden dragon,
little thinking, perhaps, as she worked at it, how soon
it was to be used by her young husband. But this
period of quiet happiness was soon brought to a close,
by events which obliged Alfred to sacrifice his own
feelings to the good of his country.
His brother Ethelbert died in 866, and Ethelred,
third son of Ethelwolf, became king, having inherited
the crown of England at a time when it brought upon
its wearer many cares and difficulties, for the land was
in a state of the greatest peril. All that the former
kings had done to repel the encroachments of the
Danes had been in vain. Not content with occasional
visits to the island, they had now become its regular
invaders. Large bodies of them, under powerful chiefs,
landed from time to time upon its shores, penetrating
into the very heart of the country, and seeking to make
a settlement. So sudden and ruthless were these attacks
of the Danes, that the inhabitants were never secure
for a single day of their possessions. The poor Saxon
peasant, who had by his industry and toil made him-
self a comfortable hut or cabin, and collected round
him convenient utensils for his daily use, and who had

sown corn and reared sheep and cattle, might, when
he least expected it, have his dwelling surrounded
with bands of armed Danes, who would trample down
his corn, and carry off his flocks and herds; and
would, perhaps, have to consider himself fortunate
if his wife and children were not carried off, or put
to death. And then the peasants would cease to till
the ground or tend flocks, for each one was obliged to
turn soldier, and take up arms against the enemy.
When, therefore, Ethelred, the king, called upon his
brother Alfred to come to his assistance in endeavour-
ing to resist the foe, he did not for a moment hesitate.
He had at one time intended to do quite different things
for the country's welfare, but he now began to feel that
perhaps it was after all the will of God that he should
be the one to deliver it from its present most terrible
scourge, and restore the people to peace and comfort.
Just at that time there was much reason to fear
that the Danes might be making such a settlement in
the country, that nothing could oppose their power.
A vast host of them had recently landed on the coast
of East Anglia, under Ingvar and Ubba, two of their
most skilful and ferocious chiefs. "Ingvar of the
mighty mind," and "Ubba of the wonderful daring,"
as they were called. In every direction had the bands
under these chiefs spread fear and desolation, plunder-
ing the rich monasteries of all the treasures they con-
tained, killing the monks, and then setting fire to the
sacred buildings. And when the whole of the east of
England had thus become a prey to their ravages,
they began to penetrate still further inland, and even
reached Nottingham, where they took possession of
its castle or fortress. Then the two royal brothers
mustered together all the forces they could collect, and
advancing towards the north, forced the greater part of

the Danish troops to retreat into Northumberland,
while such of them as had taken refuge in the fort of
Nottingham, they were obliged to leave there, not
having the means of laying siege to so strong a place.
The winter also came on, during which time the Saxons
did what they could to recruit their forces, and make
strong their places of defence against any farther in-
roads of the enemy. But before this season was well
over, they were surprised by the arrival of large bodies
of Danes, who sailed up the Thames in their ships,
and spread themselves over the southern parts of the
The king and Prince Alfred could not prevent
their progress, being in another part of the country
at the time, when they learned that the Danes had
attacked and made themselves masters of the royal
palace at Reading. This building, which stood just
where a small river falls into the Thames, was con-
verted by the invaders into a kind of fortress, and
protected by the rivers on two of its sides, they had
raised a great dyke or bank on the others. They
thought that here they would at all times be able to
have easy communication with the sea by means of
their vessels, which could sail backwards and forwards
down the Thames, whilst they could send out parties
at any time in search of booty into the forests around
them. When, however, the two brothers found that
the Danes had actually taken possession of their royal
palace-the happy home of their childhood-they
determined that all their efforts should be united to
dislodge them from so important a post; and within
four days they appeared with their forces before
Reading, and attacked the enemy. It was not so easy,
however, to dislodge the crafty Danes from a position
which afforded them so many advantages, and many


conflicts took place before there could be said to be
victory on either side.
At last, however, it seemed as if both parties were
anxious to come to a decided engagement, and the
Saxons observing that the Danes divided their forces
into two separate bodies, resolved to do the same, and
each of the brothers took the command of half the
army. It was this division of the English forces which
gave Alfred the first opportunity of proving his skill
and courage; for it so happened, that one morning
early, while the king was in his tent at prayers, the
Danes commenced their attack upon his portion of
the troops. Nothing could be more unfortunate than
the position of the Saxons on this occasion, for they
were encamped at the foot of a hill called Ashdown,
while the Danes, who were placed upon it, and were
concealed and protected by thick underwood, began
pouring down their arrows from above. For a short
time Alfred waited in painful suspense, hoping that
his brother would join him and take the lead in the
attack on the enemy, but his coming being still de-
layed, he gave the signal for assault, and rushing up
the hill at the head of his bowmen, as "boldly as a
boar," it is said, was soon engaged with the enemy
hand to hand. Then, at last, the king and his forces
joined the combat, and nothing could be more fierce
or desperate than the encounter. The Danes fought
with all the savage cruelty of their natures, bent on
conquest, for the sake of dominion and plunder. The
English fought for life and land, for their native
country, their religion, and all they held most dear.
Never since the Saxons had landed in Britain had
there ever been such a battle fought, and this time
right prevailed over might. Many of the Danish chiefs
fell during the combat; and then, on seeing so many

of their leaders slain, the rest fled in confusion, and
were pursued by the English to the castle of Reading,
where a large party were again able to establish them-
selves. This victory at Ashdown raised for a time the
hopes of the two brothers, and gave fresh courage to
the people; but the enemy was still very formidable,
and as long as they remained in possession of their
fortress at Reading, fresh hordes of them could sail up
the Thames and join their forces. And this was soon
the case; the Danish ranks were filled up, and fights
and skirmishes between the two armies took place,
with success first on one side and then on the other,
until another more important battle was fought between
them at Merton, in Surrey, in which the Saxons were
several times victorious during the fight, but which
ended in leaving the Danes the masters of the field.
It was in this engagement that Ethelred the king
received wounds, of which he shortly after died, leav-
ing his brother Alfred heir to the crown, and sole
defender of the kingdom.


ALFREi became king at the age of twenty-three-but
the land was at that time so completely in the posses-
sion of the Danes, that the title was little more than a
name. He became king, too, it would seem, not to
reign, but to fight, and all eyes and hearts were turned
to him as their only hope. The people had heard of
his courage on the day of the fight at Ashdown, and
they knew that their young king had also made him*
self remarkable for his piety and wisdom, and they

could not but hope that he would prove their deliverer
and preserver.
The first duty performed by Alfred on finding
himself king was to bury his unfortunate brother, with
all due solemnity, in the minster at Wimborne, in
Dorsetshire. No rejoicings or grand ceremonials could
take place to celebrate his own accession to the throne,
for at such a perilous and critical moment nothing
could be thought of or attempted, but the levying of
fresh troops and the making of new weapons of war-
fare. For one month only after his brother's death
did Alfred allow himself a period of repose, when he
felt obliged to take the field again; but the troops
which he had been able to collect were quite unequal
to encounter the vast numbers of Danes who were
coming up the Thames, and penetrating farther and
farther into the country. They fought and conquered
one body of Danes only to be attacked directly after-
wards by another, and after a year of such unsatis-
factory warfare, the people seemed to feel disappointed
that their young king should not have been more
successful, while such as had only recently become
soldiers got tired of fighting, and longed to return to
their former peaceful occupations. The whole army
seemed to have lost heart and courage. Perhaps
Alfred himself, in seeing this state of things, began
also to despair of conquering the enemy in battle, for
he determined about this time to try what he could
effect by means of money. Having gained the con-
sent of his nobles, he resolved on bribing the Danes
to leave his territories, and conclude a treaty of peace,
by the offer of a large sum of money, and some of the
principal chiefs were invited to come to a parley.
Tempted by the sight of gold, the Danes consented
very willingly to the terms proposed by Alfred, and,

as was the custom in those times, the most solemn
oaths were taken on both sides that the treaty should
be kept. Alfred, on his side, swore by the bones of
some saint or holy martyr; while the Danes swore by
their golden bracelets, which were the things they
held most sacred. It was soon found, however, that
there was little dependence to be placed on the solemn
promises of such barbarians. No reverence for truth
or sense of honour could bind them. Their vows were
no sooner made than broken. One party of Danes to
whom money had been given, on condition that they
should leave the country, took to their ships and sailed
away, only to land again on the coast of Northumber-
land; and another Danish chief allowed his troops, the
very same day, to attack a body of Saxon horsemen,
and put them to death.
One resource only was left to Alfred on finding
how little the word of his enemies could be relied on.
He determined to see what he could do with the Danes
on the ocean, and he gave orders that all the vessels
that could be collected along the coasts should be
manned and armed, and sent out to sea, so as to
prevent, at least, the landing of any more Northmen.
This was done; and we may look upon this attempt of
King Alfred to protect the coast of England with his
ships as the first beginning of the English navy, which
has been for so many centuries the defence and the
glory of England. Ill adapted as his small vessels
were to compete with the larger and more skilfully-
built ships of the Danish sea-kings, the plan was for a
time successful; and in one or two encounters of the
English and Danish fleets, the former had the victory
on their side, while some very terrible storms did great
mischief to the ships of the invaders, which the English
were able to escape from, being better acquainted with

the coast. The Danes, however, made greater efforts
than ever after these losses, and breaking through all
their promises, and quite setting at defiance the treaty
of peace which they had entered into, they united all
their strength for an attack both by sea and land at
the same time. On this occasion the forces of Alfred
were so considerably reduced, that he could make no
further stand against the numbers opposed to him. In
vain did he send through the towns and villages mes-
sengers of war to raise more soldiers, carrying in their
hands an arrow and a naked sword as tokens of their
errand. In vain did he publish the old proclamation,
which in former days no Saxon who was old enough
or strong enough to fight was able to resist, for it
said, Let every man that is not worthless, whether in
a town or out of a town, leave his house and come!!"
This time the summons produced no effect, for the
people had grown weary of war, and began to think it
would be better to submit to the Danes than fight any
longer. The army of Alfred was thus completely
broken up, and his followers fled wherever they thought
there would be safety from the pursuit of the enemy.
Many of the Saxon nobles took refuge in the moun-
tains of Wales and Cornwall, or passed over into
France; and monks and abbots left their monasteries
and escaped thither too, taking with them as many of
the treasures out of their monasteries as they could
save. The churches even were deserted by the priests,
and for a time it seemed as if the land would cease
to be Christian, and that the worship of the heathen
gods, Odin and Thor, would be restored by the
Those, however, who, like Alfred, had more trust in
God, and who felt sure that truth and right would at
last prevail, did not quite despair; but it is certain that


at this time many of the inhabitants of the country
thought it would be better to submit, for a while at
least, to the enemy, rather than endure the evils of
war any longer. They had lost sight, too, of their
young king, upon whom they had at first placed such
reliance. After the last desperate attack of the Danes,
Alfred had disappeared with a few followers, and no
one knew what had become of him. There was no
one around whom they could rally-no one to receive
orders from or obey. People asked one another what
had become of the king, and no one seemed to know;
and for a time it was even suspected that he must have
left the kingdom, or, what was still worse, that he had
been slain in battle.
It was when things were in this state, that, late in
the autumn, when the trees of the forest were begin-
ning to be bare, and when the swine had to furrow up
with their snouts a thick covering of brown and yellow
leaves, to get at the chestnuts and acorns which lay
beneath;-it was at this season of the year that a
young Saxon warrior of noble bearing, but with travel-
soiled garments, presented himself at the door of a
peasant's hut in the county of Somerset. He asked
for shelter, and though the owner of the hut was
absent, his wife bade the stranger welcome. He might
sit by the hearth, she said, and share their frugal supper
at the return of her husband, who had gone to drive
in the cows that had strayed away in the forest. The
stranger seated himself near the burning faggots on
the hearth, before which some cakes of bread were
baking, and then his hostess left him while she busied
herself in preparations for the evening meal. Only a
few weeks before had that tired traveller been in the
thickest of a furious combat with the Danes, and he
had since wandered about without shelter or restia

place. He was sad and weary. As he strung his bow
and tried the strength of its string, or looked at the
points of his arrows to see if they were sharp, he
turned over in his mind many sorrowful thoughts, and
mused on his strange and uncertain fate. He thought
of an absent young wife and child, knowing not if he
should ever see them again. He thought of plans
which when he was a boy had filled his mind, but
which he now feared could never be carried out; and,
above all, he thought of a whole people crushed and
suffering under ruthless oppressors, whom he would
fain help, and for whom he still hoped. On a sudden
he was roused from his reflections by the return of
his hostess, who, bustling into the cottage with a fresh
faggot for the fire, saw at a glance that her cakes on
the hearth were burning. Hallo thou varlet," cried
she, rushing angrily at the stranger, who sat by the
hearth, dost thou not see that the cakes burn?
Why, then, dost thou not turn them ? Ready enough
though, I trow, wilt thou be to eat them hot from the
baking !"
Luckily, her husband came in at this moment, who
recognizing the stranger, and shocked at his wife's
rude manner of speech, threw himself at his feet, and
implored forgiveness. Then it was that the old woman
first discovered that the young man to whom she had
given shelter, and whom she had scolded so rudely,
was Alfred the king. Only too pleased was she then,
after receiving his ready forgiveness, to treat her royal
guest with all the respect and distinction that she was
able, and to help to conceal him from the bands of
Danes that were prowling about. Assisted by the
cowherd, too, Alfred was enabled to summon around him
such of his followers as were in the neighbourhood, and
from whom he had been accidentally separated. Being


resolved on remaining some time in concealment, he
concerted with them how they might contrive for them-
selves a place of refuge, where he could be safe from
the pursuit of the Danes. Now, not far from the cow-
herd's cottage was a tract of marshy land, which, by
the joining together of two rivers, the Parret and the
Tone, might be called an island; and it was so sur-
rounded with rushes, and brambles, and swamps, that
there was little chance of the enemy being able to
penetrate it. Here, on a little plot of more solid
ground, Alfred determined to build something like a
fortress, in which he and his little band of followers
could take refuge, at all events, during the coming
winter. Quickly and secretly an edifice was raised of
wood, stones, clay, or whatever material they could
find. Such of the Saxons as dwelt in the country
round, and were in the secret of the king's hiding-
place, sent, no doubt, all they could spare of their own
comforts to make it habitable,-such things as could be
removed to the island without exciting the notice of
the Danes. After awhile the king was able to despatch
one of his most trusty nobles to fetch his young wife
and child, from whom he had been so long parted;
and there on the island of Athelney, as it was called,
after all the dangers to which they had been exposed
for so many months, Alfred and Ealswith met again;
not like the king and queen of a powerful kingdom,
but as houseless fugitives, with little hope at that time
of ever being able to recover their lost power and pos-
sessions. Nothing, indeed, could be more destitute of
the luxuries that usually surround a king and queen
than their present hiding-place. A rude sort of bridge
was constructed in one part of the island, by which
they passed to and from it in their expeditions in search
of provender, and this bridge was made where the


thick brambles and osiers would hide it from the eyes
of all but those who were in the king's confidence.
And difficult was it in such a place to get provisions
enough for those who were on the island, so that par-
ties were obliged to be out whole days together ex-
ploring the country round before they could bring
home a few bushels of corn, or capture a deer, or bring
down wild-fowl enough to replenish their stores for a
week or two. The winter was cold and dreary, and,


for fear of discovery, the king and queen were obliged
to remain almost like prisoners on the little island.
Like the humblest of her subjects, too, Ealswith would
perform the most menial occupations, in order to add
to the comforts of her husband and child. Often, for
hours together, would the king and queen be left in
the fortress while their attendants and followers were
away, and it was on one of these occasions that an
occurrence took place which showed that misfortune
had but increased the natural kindness and benevolence

of their hearts. One afternoon, when all had left the
island but the king and queen, a wandering beggar.
man, who had perhaps crossed over one of the streams
on the ice, came to the door of the fortress to ask for
alms. He was starving, and was very likely one who
had been reduced to this state by the cruelty of the
Danes. Little imagining what was their rank, he
begged of the king and queen for a crust of bread;
and, moved by compassion, Alfred and Ealswith went
to the place where their stores were kept to seek for
some food. They found nothing left but one loaf of
bread, and a few drops of wine at the bottom of a
flask, They knew not when their attendants might
return, nor indeed whether they might not, as had
happened before, return empty-handed; but disre-
garding their own destitution, which was almost as
great as that of the beggar, they divided with him
their last loaf, and poured out for him those last drops
of wine.
But Alfred, while in this place of retreat, was not
idle nor indifferent to the condition of his country.
He had felt that a period of rest was needed to prepare
for another and more determined effort to free the
country from its invaders; and he was all this time
making what preparations he could for it. As spring
opened upon them, and it became more easy to com-
municate with distant parts of the island, he sent out
trusty messengers to announce to all the well-disposed
that their king still lived. News reached Alfred, too,
of Guthrum, one of the most powerful of the Danish
chiefs, having penetrated with a large army so far into
the west of England as to be at that time not very
distant from the island of Athelney, while from the
south the encouraging tidings were brought him that
" Ingvar of the mighty mind," after landing with a

large body of D anes upon the coast of D evon ; ad
been defeated and put to death by one of his brave
Saxon earls. In this engagement, too, had been taken
from the enemy, the celebrated Danish banner of the
black raven called the Reafon, which had been worked
by the sisters of Ingvar and Ubba, and which had
been supposed to possess a magical power.
And spring came, and even in the "Isle of
Princes "-for this was the meaning of the word
Athelney-there were many of the pleasant signs of
its approach. The sallows and willows which grew
around put forth their silvery catkins, and the water-
violets and marsh marigold blossomed in the shallow
swamps. It was the time of all others for hearts to
feel hopeful, and courage to get strong, just when
nature was beginning to show new life and vigour.
Alfred and his followers prepared themselves for
battle. Busily went on the making of bows and
sharpening arrows and battle-axes, and the weaving
of shields with the pliant osiers which grew around.
The little island became too small for the numbers who
crowded upon it to pay homage to their king, and to
take oaths of obedience to his word of command in
battle. His well-known banner of the golden dragon
was once more unfurled, and the hearts of all beat high
at the thought that it might again lead them on to
victory, as on the day of the fight at Ashdown. Then
came the news of how Guthrum was now encamped,
with all his army, on the borders of Selwood Forest,
not very far from Athelney. Various rumours came,
too, about the numbers of his army, and the manner
in which it was distributed. Alfred feared to plan an
attack until he knew how the forces were disposed,
and what were the numbers he would have to contend
against. He determined, therefore, to visit the camp

of Guthrum himself, to make sure of these important
matters. He resolved to go in the disguise of a Saxon
gleeman, or minstrel, and to make his way through
the soldiers into the very presence of the Danish Sea-
king. And he did so.
Taking with him only a single attendant to carry
his harp, Alfred set out on foot, and crossed the
country to where Guthrum lay encamped near the
borders of Selwood, and when within sight of the
Danish tents, he dismissed his follower, and slinging
his harp on his back, made his way through the sol-
diery. The Danes, who were almost as fond of music
as the Saxons, crowded round the Saxon gleeman, and
were delighted with the spirited songs which he sung,
and the skill with which he struck his harp. The
news of his arrival spread quickly through the camp,
and reached the ears of the king. Guthrum and his
followers were in the midst of revelry and feasting.
Success and conquest had made them careless and
confident. Though the invader had heard that Alfred
still lived, and was in concealment somewhere in the
west of the island, he did not fear that he could make
again any very powerful stand against him. He lived
a riotous and intemperate life in his royal tent. All
the valuable things of which he had despoiled the holy
houses and churches were now serving for his own
luxury and convenience. Gold and silver vessels, which
had been used in the religious services, were now filled
with wine at his board, and as Alfred stepped within
the tent, he could see around him much of the furni-
ture which had once belonged to the royal palaces of
his family. The Danish king sat at the banquet sur-
rounded by gaily-dressed women, and by his warriors
and chiefs, now habited only in loose robes, and with
little signs of war about them, for their armour and


helmets were thrown off for the sake of greater ease.
Alfred did not think that they looked too formidable
for his own troops to conquer. He was commanded
to play and sing, and he delighted the king and his
companions with his old ballads and poems; and as he


sang his own spirits and courage rose high at the
thought that he might yet be able to drive from the
shores of England these ruthless invaders. Little did
any one think that the meanly-habited bard, whose
songs so charmed them, was the wise and valiant

Alfred, of whom they had heard so much, and who, it
may be, some of them had even seen at a distance,
when at the head of his troops in battle. No one sus-
pected who he was, and he came and went unharmed
from the presence of Guthrum. He returned to
Athelney, and took back with him all the particulars
which were wanted of the forces of the enemy, and
they were such as to lead him to determine on making
a very decided attack as soon as possible. Easter was
then near at hand, and Alfred only waited until the
services and ceremonials of the Church peculiar to that
season had been performed, as well as their situation
would allow, before he renewed his preparations for
Once again he sent his heralds round into all the
towns and villages, and once again they made the
customary proclamation, Let every man who is not
worthless, come !" This time Englishmen were not
worthless, for they obeyed the summons very promptly.
Weary of the oppressions of the Danes, and full of joy
to find their young king was still living, and well
rested, too, after the long time that had elapsed since
they had last encountered the Danes, they gladly
equipped themselves for battle, and crowded round
the banner of Alfred.
Every heart beat high with hope and courage,
while the prudent and wise arrangements made by the
king, and even the very sight of him once more among
his nobles, filled them with confidence in his success.
And this time the Anglo-Saxons were able to effect a
decided conquest of the Danes.
It was in the month of May that, Alfred's pre-
parations being completed, he marched forth from his
fortress of Athelney, at the head of the troops which
had collected around him; and at Brixton, near Sel-

wooa, he met all those which came from Wiltshire
and Hampshire, and other parts of the south, to fight
under his command. With cries of joy did they all
recognize their beloved king again, who seemed risen
from the dead. After resting for the night, with the
very first streaks of daylight the army proceeded on
its march until they came to where the Danish host
were encamped. Guthrum had scarcely time to
assemble his troops, after hearing that Alfred was
advancing with his army, when a most terrible en-
counter took place. The troops of Alfred were not so
numerous as those of the enemy, but they were in
much better order than the Danes; and this, together
with the great courage with which they fought, enabled
the Saxons to gain a most complete victory. Such of the
Danes as were not killed or taken prisoners retreated
into a fortress at Chippenham, and then Alfred sur-
rounded this place, and laid siege to it. For more
than a fortnight were the Danes shut up in the fort,
until at last they were reduced to submission by hunger.
Guthrum offered to give up as many men as hostages
as Alfred chose, and promised to keep a treaty of peace
more faithfully than his countrymen had done before,
if he only would let them depart.
To convince Alfred of his being ready to begin
quite another course of conduct, Guthrum also sent
word that he was ready to become a Christian, which,
as the Saxons had been fighting for their religion as
well as their country, was hailed by all as a most joyful
event. It was a proud moment for Alfred, when, a
short time after, Guthrum, accompanied by thirty of
his followers, appeared in the camp, and underwent
the rite of baptism, the English king standing sponsor.
Nothing, too, could be more generous, or more Chris-
tian-like, than the way in which Alfred behaved to.

wards Guthrum. He trusted to his promises that he
would never molest him again, and not only allowed
him to retain possession of that part of the island
which was called East Anglia, which he had before
subdued, but sent him away loaded with rich pre-
sents, and was willing from that time to treat him as
a friend and ally; and although Guthrum did not
keep his promises as strictly as he might have done,
he was never again able to disturb very seriously the
rule and reign of Alfred.

"" GREAT."
IT is pleasant to know that soon after the events we
have just related, Alfred was able to turn his attention
to the condition of his people, and to carry out some
of the plans which had filled his mind from his earliest
childhood, and for which his studies had so well pre-
pared him during his youth. Other kings have fought
bravely like Alfred to recover or defend their king-
doms, and governed wisely afterwards, in order to
retain possession of them, but we know of none who
so earnestly desired to make his people wiser and
better, and who, loving wisdom and virtue himself,
saw so clearly that they alone would make his subjects
happy, and his kingdom great and powerful.
And nothing could be more lamentable than the
state of the country after the long wars in which the
people had been engaged, and the ravages of the
Danes. Not only had the cultivation of the country


been neglected, but all law had ceased to be obeyed,
and people had got so accustomed to taking by force
from others what they wanted, that no one respected
the property of another or could make sure of keeping
his own. Being so long familiar with bloodshed also
had a bad effect on the minds of men, and murders
and violence of all kinds had become common. The
king's subjects, too, were composed of several differ-
ent races of people, which made it yet more difficult

HJ- 1

to govern them. Here were the remains of the Ancient
Britons, his own Saxons and Angles, and numbers of
Danes, who, following the example of Guthrum, became
Christians, and settled in the country. With all these
difficulties to contend with, Alfred was obliged at first
to be very strict; to establish severe punishments for
all kinds of crime, and to see that the laws were duly
The first thing that he did was to order a survey
of the whole kingdom to be made, and caused it to be
divided into counties or shires; the shires to be divided

into hundreds, and the hundreds into tenths or tith-
ings. Over all these he appointed different officers,
who were to be accountable to one another, and lastly
to himself, for keeping peace and order. Before this
time there had been laws among the Saxons in Eng-
land, but hitherto they had been enforced by the kings,
or his Earls and Ealdormen, but now, for the first time,
were regular judges appointed, who were to examine
into all crimes committed, and punish the offenders;
and the punishments were to be not according to the
fancies of the judges, but in conformity with written
laws, which Alfred very carefully collected. In making
his book or code of laws, Alfred began with many
extracts from the Old and New Testaments. First of
all his people were to obey the Ten Commandments,
and he added also the Commandment given by Christ
himself; "All things whatsoever ye would that men
should do unto you, do ye unto them." For," said
Alfred, "according to this one Commandment, man
shall remember that he shall judge every one rightly,
and then he requires no other law." Then followed
such of the old Saxon laws as he deemed to be good,
and afterwards such as he had made himself, and at
the conclusion of the book in which they were written,
he added the words, "I, King Alfred, caused all these
laws to be collected and written, those which our fore-
fathers observed, and those which appeared to me to be
good, and I showed them to my Witan, and they said
they were willing they should be obeyed."
Now, the Witan was the council or assembly which
the Saxon kings always assembled around them on
any important occasions, that they might deliberate
upon what was to be done. Sometimes it was called
the Witana-gemot," or assembly of wise men."
"When Alfred had completed his code of laws, and

they began to be enforced, nothing gave the people
more love and respect for their king, than his anxiety
to see that justice was done as much to the poor and
oppressed as to the rich and powerful; and if any
doubt arose about the justice of any sentence, they
could always appeal to the king himself, who would
take the greatest pains to look into the affair and
decide according to truth and right.
And thus order was restored in the land by the
wise rule of this good king, and the people grew peace-
ful and industrious in their habits, and honest above
all things. In after times it was said that during the
reign of Alfred a traveller might lose a purse full of
gold upon the highway, and find it untouched a month
afterwards, while it is told of Alfred himself, that to
make trial of the honesty of his people, he caused
golden bracelets to be hung upon the branches of
trees by the side of high roads, confident that no way-
farer would dare to remove them.
Alfred's next care was to provide for the education
of the people, which during the disturbed times had
been greatly neglected. The priests, whose business
it had been to instruct the youth in their monasteries,
had for the most part been dispersed or put to death
by the Danes. At that time all the services and
prayers of the churches were in Latin, and when
Alfred came to the throne he lamented greatly over
the fact that there were very few who knew the English
of their prayers. "There were so few," said he after-
wards, in looking back to this time, "that I do not
actually remember one south of the Thames, when I
began to reign."
The better to carry out his views for the instruc-
tion of his people, the king summoned around him the
most learned monks that he could hear of, either in his


own country, or in France or Rome. One of these,
called Asser, he kept as a sort of tutor in his own
family, and the rest he distributed about the island in
all the monasteries still remaining, while he built many
new ones, and established in them schools of learning.
Much of his own time that he could spare from the cares
of government was spent in translating into the lan.
guage used by the people, not only parts of the Bible,
but many other good and pious books, as well as
works on history and geography; and in some of
those very schools of learning founded by Alfred, such
as the University of Oxford, are there to be seen, even
at the present day, the book of laws written by him
and many of his translations from the Latin. But
these are not in English such as we can read and
understand now, but in the old Anglo-Saxon tongue,
from which the language we use at present is derived.
The whole country became one large school, when
all the plans of Alfred were carried out, and every
one was made to be ashamed of ignorance. It is said,
that when the king found out sometimes that the old
judges who came before him could not even read the
laws that they had to execute, he would reprove them
very severely, bidding them go home and learn to read,
or give up their offices to younger men, who were better
But in addition to all these efforts to improve the
people, Alfred had many other things to attend to
which required great foresight and careful govern-
ment. Towards the end of his reign, the country
was again disturbed by an invasion from the cele-
brated Danish pirate or Sea-king Hastings, and it was
only after many engagements, both by sea and land,
that Hastings was finally driven from the English
shores. At one time, his wife and children who ac.

companies him, fell into the hands of Alfred, and it
might have been expected, perhaps, that he would
revenge himself upon them, for the injury done to his
country by Hastings; but Alfred remembered the
Christian commandment which he had made one of
his laws, and not only treated his captives kindly, but
restored them safely into the hands of his enemy.
It was after the last invasion of the Danes, that
Alfred turned his attention to the protection of the
country by means of a navy, and he caused numbers
of vessels larger and more skilfully constructed to be
built at London and Rochester. He sent, too, to the
opposite coasts of Holland and Flanders, for sailors to
man them, who understood navigation better than his
own people, and in fact, laid the foundation of that
navy which we sometimes call the Wooden Walls of
England," from the defence which it has proved to our
little island.
In many other ways, did Alfred by his wise arrange-
ments increase the power of England, at the same time
that he helped to civilize his people and made them a
free and great nation. He overlooked nothing. To
make the very best use of his time, he divided it into
three portions; one of which it was his delight to
spend in prayer and religious services; another he
gave to sleep and exercise; and the third to duty and
the cares of government. But there were no clocks
nor watches in those days, to mark the passing away
'of time, and the sky of England is too apt to be
clouded over for time to be measured by the sun or
stars. Alfred had, therefore, recourse to a very in-
genious expedient for supplying these wants. He took
wax tapers of equal lengths, and divided thom by
marks into twelve inches. These tapers were to burn
in succession through the twenty-four hours of day and


night, and he took them with him wherever he went.
But the wind and rain in travelling, or even that which
came through the unglazed windows or cracks in walls,
or the covering of his tent, made his tapers burn un-
equally, or blew them out; so Alfred invented lanterns.
He caused these to be made of the finest sheets of
horn pared down so as to be quite transparent, with
doors that could be closely shut, and in these he placed
his time-measuring tapers, which, as they burnt, told
him how his well-spent days were passed.
Many other useful inventions belong to the time
of Alfred. He sent to foreign countries for skilful
workmen of all kinds to come and teach his people
ingenious arts; and houses and churches began to be
erected in a better style of architecture, and the in-
sides of dwellings to be more conveniently furnished.
Among the many other things told of Alfred, it is said
that he sent monks to assist in the spreading of Chris-
tianity in India, and that these missionaries brought
back with them many precious stones, spices, and
perfumes, and other productions of the East, before
unknown in England.

No shade of doubt obscureth thee,
Whose living fame to farthest Ind
Was wafted on the exulting wind
That filled thy sails with victory I

0 old heroic scorn of ease!
Hope rises, ne'er so often slaiin'
Despair flees with the routed Danet
An English navy guards the seas.

Yon glittering jewel on thy hand
Place boldly in the public way,
And find it there at latest day:
For Alfred's justice walks the land.

And Learning keeps her open school
Upon the steps of Alfred's throne.
Speak from thy glory, Valour's Own!
Instruct our statesmen how to rule.

But it would take many such little books as this
to tell all that was done by this good and wise king,
to benefit his people. He died in 901, when at the
age of fifty-three, to the great grief of the nation;
but he left behind to succeed him as king, his son
Edward, whom he had very carefully educated, and
who was also wise and good.
In the libraries and museums of our colleges, are
treasured up in remembrance of Alfred, the very books
which he wrote, the coins that bear his name, and even
ornaments that he is supposed to have worn; but we
have no need of such relics to remind us of him; for
when we look around and see what a powerful and
civilized country England has become, we may call to
mind, that no one man has ever done so much to secure
us our advantages and blessings, as he whom we so
justly call, ALFRED THE GREAT.



HO has not heard of the country called Italy,
a beautiful and fertile land lying to the
south of the high mountains called the
Alps ? Who has not heard of its grapes
and oranges, its groves of olive-trees and myrtles, and
its fields of rice and maize; and who has not heard
too of the grand old cities of Italy with their beautiful
buildings and fine sculpture and paintings ? All these
things make it most interesting to visit and read about,
and it becomes still more so, when we remember that
in Italy much of the present civilization of. the world


was, as it were, begun; for not only were many arts
and sciences first practised and studied there, but also
many useful discoveries and inventions were made
there and brought to perfection, which have since been
highly useful to mankind. The great prosperity of
Italy, is, however, past and gone, and through bad
government, and what we think mistaken views of
religion, it is now very far behind many other countries
of the world, so that while grapes and oranges still
grow and ripen there, and groves of olives and myrtles
and fields of rice and maize are still to be seen, just as
they were perhaps two or three hundred years ago;
yet in all other respects, we admire Italy for what it
was, and visit it and read about its cities in order to
find the traces of what they once were in the days of
their prosperity and greatness.
And now we are about to tell a story of some things
that happened in one of these cities of Italy, after
what may be called its best days were past. Things
which concerned one of the greatest men of the time,
whose name is well known, and which happened also
to two children whose names have certainly never been
heard before, but who might have done and said all
that is related here.
It was in a city called Pisa, about two hundred and
sixty years ago, that there lived a man named Bertano,
who was celebrated at that time as a manufacturer of
glass. He had originally come from Venice, in which
city glass was first made in Italy, and which was very
celebrated for its looking-glasses and mirrors; and
when he settled at Pisa, glass was still quite a novelty
to the people, and only the rich had glass windows to
their houses, or drinking vessels of glass for their
tables, while a looking-glass was considered one of
the most curious and costly of ornaments; indeed it


was looked into almost with a feeling of awe, so wonder.
ful was it thought that a person's face could be reflected
so accurately.
Bertano was not only a maker of glass for windows
and mirrors, but he was also acquainted with the art
of staining glass with rich and beautiful colours, and
at the time of our story was engaged in making some
beautiful coloured glass windows for a church in Pisa,
on which different scriptural subjects were represented.
He inhabited a large old house near one of the gates
of the city, and round a court-yard at the back were
workshops and furnaces, where, assisted by workmen,
he carried on his employment very industriously, and
earned much money.
Bertano had lost his wife before he came to Pisa,
and his family consisted only of two children, a boy
and a girl, who were taken care of by an old house-
keeper or nurse, who generally went by the name of
Dame Ursula. Now, the real names of the children
were Lancilotto and Fiammina, but as these were
rather long even for the Italians to pronounce, the usual
names by which they were known at home were Lotto
and Mina, and such I shall always call them. How
different were the brother and sister! At the time I
am writing about, Lotto was a lively active boy of
twelve, while Mina at ten was a poor little sickly
cripple, moving each morning with difficulty from her
bed to a chair, and in the evening from her chair back
again to her bed. Lotto was here, there, and every-
where, seeing and hearing and meddling in everything;
Mina sat the long and weary day through, in the deep
recess of a window which looked across the street only
to the opposite house, and through which little light
and little air came. This window had to be sure a
casement of glass of small diamond-shaped panes,

which her father had put in for her, but only a little
portion of it would open to admit the air, and it was so
high that there was little possibility of even getting a
peep from it down into the street to see the passers-
by; and only a little patch of blue sky could be seen
over the top of the opposite house, in which at night
Mina, as she lay on her bed, could sometimes see a
few stars twinkling, but never by any chance the sun
or moon.
It would have been a weary life indeed for this
little girl, being thus shut up a prisoner in one room,
and seeing as she did only Dame Ursula at those times
when she had to be dressed or undressed, or have her
meals, and seldom seeing her father more than once a
day, if it had not been for Lotto. Happily for her,
Lotto was a good kind brother, and very luckily too
for her, Lotto was a great talker. In the midst of all
his occupations and amusements he never forgot his
sister Mina, and all he heard and saw was repeated
and described to her, so that Mina lived in the world
as it were through the eyes, and ears, and tongue of
Lotto, and had almost left off wishing that she could
see and hear for herself, so well did he describe and tell.
All that he could find likely to give her pleasure or
amusement would Lotto bring up to her little gloomy
room, so that Lotto's visits often enabled her to fill up
well the time of his absence. The ripest melon to be
had in the market, or the most tempting bunch of
grapes, would be sure to find their way to her, while
the seasons were marked to her by the fresh bunches of
flowers that Lotto would gather for her in the fields
and woods around the city. Mina's most favourite
playthings, however, were the scraps and fragments of
glass that Lotto collected for her out of his father's
workshops. He was a favourite with the workmen,