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The Little Duke by Charlotte M. Yonge

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Away from the tall narrow gateway of Rollo's Tower, with the cluster
of friendly, sorrowful faces looking forth from it, away from the
booth-like shops of Rouen, and the stout burghers shouting with all
the power of their lungs, "Long live Duke Richard! Long live King
Louis! Death to the Fleming!"--away from the broad Seine--away from
home and friends, rode the young Duke of Normandy, by the side of the
palfrey of the King of France.

The King took much notice of him, kept him by his side, talked to
him, admired the beautiful cattle grazing in security in the green
pastures, and, as he looked at the rich dark brown earth of the
fields, the Castles towering above the woods, the Convents looking
like great farms, the many villages round the rude Churches, and the
numerous population who came out to gaze at the party, and repeat the
cry of "Long live the King! Blessings on the little Duke!" he told
Richard, again and again, that his was the most goodly duchy in
France and Germany to boot.

When they crossed the Epte, the King would have Richard in the same
boat with him, and sitting close to Louis, and talking eagerly about
falcons and hounds, the little Duke passed the boundary of his own

The country beyond was not like Normandy. First they came to a great
forest, which seemed to have no path through it. The King ordered
that one of the men, who had rowed them across, should be made to
serve as guide, and two of the men-at-arms took him between them, and
forced him to lead the way, while others, with their swords and
battle-axes, cut down and cleared away the tangled branches and
briars that nearly choked the path. All the time, every one was
sharply on the look-out for robbers, and the weapons were all held
ready for use at a moment's notice. On getting beyond the forest a
Castle rose before them, and, though it was not yet late in the day,
they resolved to rest there, as a marsh lay not far before them,
which it would not have been safe to traverse in the evening

The Baron of the Castle received them with great respect to the King,
but without paying much attention to the Duke of Normandy, and
Richard did not find the second place left for him at the board. He
coloured violently, and looked first at the King, and then at Osmond,
but Osmond held up his finger in warning; he remembered how he had
lost his temper before, and what had come of it, and resolved to try
to bear it better; and just then the Baron's daughter, a gentle-
looking maiden of fifteen or sixteen, came and spoke to him, and
entertained him so well, that he did not think much more of his
offended dignity.--When they set off on their journey again, the
Baron and several of his followers came with them to show the only
safe way across the morass, and a very slippery, treacherous, quaking
road it was, where the horses' feet left pools of water wherever they
trod. The King and the Baron rode together, and the other French
Nobles closed round them; Richard was left quite in the background,
and though the French men-at-arms took care not to lose sight of him,
no one offered him any assistance, excepting Osmond, who, giving his
own horse to Sybald, one of the two Norman grooms who accompanied
him, led Richard's horse by the bridle along the whole distance of
the marshy path, a business that could scarcely have been pleasant,
as Osmond wore his heavy hauberk, and his pointed, iron-guarded boots
sunk deep at every step into the bog. He spoke little, but seemed to
be taking good heed of every stump of willow or stepping-stone that
might serve as a note of remembrance of the path.

At the other end of the morass began a long tract of dreary-looking,
heathy waste, without a sign of life. The Baron took leave of the
King, only sending three men-at-arms, to show him the way to a
monastery, which was to be the next halting-place. He sent three,
because it was not safe for one, even fully armed, to ride alone, for
fear of the attacks of the followers of a certain marauding Baron,
who was at deadly feud with him, and made all that border a most
perilous region. Richard might well observe that he did not like the
Vexin half as well as Normandy, and that the people ought to learn
Fru Astrida's story of the golden bracelets, which, in his
grandfather's time, had hung untouched for a year, in a tree in a

It was pretty much the same through the whole journey, waste lands,
marshes, and forests alternated. The Castles stood on high mounds
frowning on the country round, and villages were clustered round
them, where the people either fled away, driving off their cattle
with them at the first sight of an armed band, or else, if they
remained, proved to be thin, wretched-looking creatures, with wasted
limbs, aguish faces, and often iron collars round their necks.
Wherever there was anything of more prosperous appearance, such as a
few cornfields, vineyards on the slopes of the hills, fat cattle, and
peasantry looking healthy and secure, there was sure to be seen a
range of long low stone buildings, surmounted with crosses, with a
short square Church tower rising in the midst, and interspersed with
gnarled hoary old apple-trees, or with gardens of pot-herbs spreading
before them to the meadows. If, instead of two or three men-at-arms
from a Castle, or of some trembling serf pressed into the service,
and beaten, threatened, and watched to prevent treachery, the King
asked for a guide at a Convent, some lay brother would take his
staff; or else mount an ass, and proceed in perfect confidence and
security as to his return homewards, sure that his poverty and his
sacred character would alike protect him from any outrage from the
most lawless marauder of the neighbourhood.

Thus they travelled until they reached the royal Castle of Laon,
where the Fleur-de-Lys standard on the battlements announced the
presence of Gerberge, Queen of France, and her two sons. The King
rode first into the court with his Nobles, and before Richard could
follow him through the narrow arched gateway, he had dismounted,
entered the Castle, and was out of sight. Osmond held the Duke's
stirrup, and followed him up the steps which led to the Castle Hall.
It was full of people, but no one made way, and Richard, holding his
Squire's hand, looked up in his face, inquiring and bewildered.

"Sir Seneschal," said Osmond, seeing a broad portly old man, with
grey hair and a golden chain, "this is the Duke of Normandy--I pray
you conduct him to the King's presence."

Richard had no longer any cause to complain of neglect, for the
Seneschal instantly made him a very low bow, and calling "Place--
place for the high and mighty Prince, my Lord Duke of Normandy!"
ushered him up to the dais or raised part of the floor, where the
King and Queen stood together talking. The Queen looked round, as
Richard was announced, and he saw her face, which was sallow, and
with a sharp sour expression that did not please him, and he backed
and looked reluctant, while Osmond, with a warning hand pressed on
his shoulder, was trying to remind him that he ought to go forward,
kneel on one knee, and kiss her hand.

"There he is," said the King.

"One thing secure!" said the Queen; "but what makes that northern
giant keep close to his heels?"

Louis answered something in a low voice, and, in the meantime, Osmond
tried in a whisper to induce his young Lord to go forward and perform
his obeisance.

"I tell you I will not," said Richard. "She looks cross, and I do
not like her."

Luckily he spoke his own language; but his look and air expressed a
good deal of what he said, and Gerberge looked all the more

"A thorough little Norwegian bear," said the King; "fierce and unruly
as the rest. Come, and perform your courtesy--do you forget where
you are?" he added, sternly.

Richard bowed, partly because Osmond forced down his shoulder; but he
thought of old Rollo and Charles the Simple, and his proud heart
resolved that he would never kiss the hand of that sour-looking
Queen. It was a determination made in pride and defiance, and he
suffered for it afterwards; but no more passed now, for the Queen
only saw in his behaviour that of an unmannerly young Northman: and
though she disliked and despised him, she did not care enough about
his courtesy to insist on its being paid. She sat down, and so did
the King, and they went on talking; the King probably telling her his
adventures at Rouen, while Richard stood on the step of the dais,
swelling with sullen pride.

Nearly a quarter of an hour had passed in this manner when the
servants came to set the table for supper, and Richard, in spite of
his indignant looks, was forced to stand aside. He wondered that all
this time he had not seen the two Princes, thinking how strange he
should have thought it, to let his own dear father be in the house so
long without coming to welcome him. At last, just as the supper had
been served up, a side door opened, and the Seneschal called, "Place
for the high and mighty Princes, my Lord Lothaire and my Lord
Carloman!" and in walked two boys, one about the same age as Richard,
the other rather less than a year younger. They were both thin,
pale, sharp-featured children, and Richard drew himself up to his
full height, with great satisfaction at being so much taller than

They came up ceremoniously to their father and kissed his hand, while
he kissed their foreheads, and then said to them, "There is a new
play-fellow for you."

"Is that the little Northman?" said Carloman, turning to stare at
Richard with a look of curiosity, while Richard in his turn felt
considerably affronted that a boy so much less than himself should
call him little.

"Yes," said the Queen; "your father has brought him home with him."

Carloman stepped forward, shyly holding out his hand to the stranger,
but his brother pushed him rudely aside. "I am the eldest; it is my
business to be first. So, young Northman, you are come here for us
to play with."

Richard was too much amazed at being spoken to in this imperious way
to make any answer. He was completely taken by surprise, and only
opened his great blue eyes to their utmost extent.

"Ha! why don't you answer? Don't you hear? Can you speak only your
own heathen tongue?" continued Lothaire.

"The Norman is no heathen tongue!" said Richard, at once breaking
silence in a loud voice. "We are as good Christians as you are--ay,
and better too."

"Hush! hush! my Lord!" said Osmond.

"What now, Sir Duke," again interfered the King, in an angry tone,
"are you brawling already? Time, indeed, I should take you from your
own savage court. Sir Squire, look to it, that you keep your charge
in better rule, or I shall send him instantly to bed, supperless."

"My Lord, my Lord," whispered Osmond, "see you not that you are
bringing discredit on all of us?"

"I would be courteous enough, if they would be courteous to me,"
returned Richard, gazing with eyes full of defiance at Lothaire, who,
returning an angry look, had nevertheless shrunk back to his mother.
She meanwhile was saying, "So strong, so rough, the young savage is,
he will surely harm our poor boys!"

"Never fear," said Louis; "he shall be watched. And," he added in a
lower tone, "for the present, at least, we must keep up appearances.
Hubert of Senlis, and Hugh of Paris, have their eyes on us, and were
the boy to be missed, the grim old Harcourt would have all the
pirates of his land on us in the twinkling of an eye. We have him,
and there we must rest content for the present. Now to supper."

At supper, Richard sat next little Carloman, who peeped at him every
now and then from under his eyelashes, as if he was afraid of him;
and presently, when there was a good deal of talking going on, so
that his voice could not be heard, half whispered, in a very grave
tone, "Do you like salt beef or fresh?"

"I like fresh," answered Richard, with equal gravity, "only we eat
salt all the winter."

There was another silence, and then Carloman, with the same
solemnity, asked, "How old are you?"

"I shall be nine on the eve of St. Boniface. How old are you?"

"Eight. I was eight at Martinmas, and Lothaire was nine three days

Another silence; then, as Osmond waited on Richard, Carloman returned
to the charge, "Is that your Squire?"

"Yes, that is Osmond de Centeville."

"How tall he is!"

"We Normans are taller than you French."

"Don't say so to Lothaire, or you will make him angry."

"Why? it is true."

"Yes; but--" and Carloman sunk his voice--"there are some things
which Lothaire will not hear said. Do not make him cross, or he will
make my mother displeased with you. She caused Thierry de Lincourt
to be scourged, because his ball hit Lothaire's face."

"She cannot scourge me--I am a free Duke," said Richard. "But why?
Did he do it on purpose?"

"Oh, no!"

"And was Lothaire hurt?"

"Hush! you must say Prince Lothaire. No; it was quite a soft ball."

"Why?" again asked Richard--"why was he scourged?"

"I told you, because he hit Lothaire."

"Well, but did he not laugh, and say it was nothing? Alberic quite
knocked me down with a great snowball the other day, and Sir Eric
laughed, and said I must stand firmer."

"Do you make snowballs?"

"To be sure I do! Do not you?"

"Oh, no! the snow is so cold."

"Ah! you are but a little boy," said Richard, in a superior manner.
Carloman asked how it was done; and Richard gave an animated
description of the snowballing, a fortnight ago, at Rouen, when
Osmond and some of the other young men built a snow fortress, and
defended it against Richard, Alberic, and the other Squires.
Carloman listened with delight, and declared that next time it
snowed, they would have a snow castle; and thus, by the time supper
was over, the two little boys were very good friends.

Bedtime came not long after supper. Richard's was a smaller room
than he had been used to at Rouen; but it amazed him exceedingly when
he first went into it: he stood gazing in wonder, because, as he
said, "It was as if he had been in a church."

"Yes, truly!" said Osmond. "No wonder these poor creatures of French
cannot stand before a Norman lance, if they cannot sleep without
glass to their windows. Well! what would my father say to this?"

"And see! see, Osmond! they have put hangings up all round the walls,
just like our Lady's church on a great feast-day. They treat us just
as if we were the holy saints; and here are fresh rushes strewn about
the floor, too. This must be a mistake--it must be an oratory,
instead of my chamber."

"No, no, my Lord; here is our gear, which I bade Sybald and Henry see
bestowed in our chamber. Well, these Franks are come to a pass,
indeed! My grandmother will never believe what we shall have to tell
her. Glass windows and hangings to sleeping chambers! I do not like
it I am sure we shall never be able to sleep, closed up from the free
air of heaven in this way: I shall be always waking, and fancying I
am in the chapel at home, hearing Father Lucas chanting his matins.
Besides, my father would blame me for letting you be made as tender
as a Frank. I'll have out this precious window, if I can."

Luxurious as the young Norman thought the King, the glazing of Laon
was not permanent. It consisted of casements, which could be put up
or removed at pleasure; for, as the court possessed only one set of
glass windows, they were taken down, and carried from place to place,
as often as Louis removed from Rheims to Soissons, Laon, or any other
of his royal castles; so that Osmond did not find much difficulty in
displacing them, and letting in the sharp, cold, wintry breeze. The
next thing he did was to give his young Lord a lecture on his want of
courtesy, telling him that "no wonder the Franks thought he had no
more culture than a Viking (or pirate), fresh caught from Norway. A
fine notion he was giving them of the training he had at Centeville,
if he could not even show common civility to the Queen--a lady! Was
that the way Alberic had behaved when he came to Rouen?"

"Fru Astrida did not make sour faces at him, nor call him a young
savage," replied Richard.

"No, and he gave her no reason to do so; he knew that the first
teaching of a young Knight is to be courteous to ladies--never mind
whether fair and young, or old and foul of favour. Till you learn
and note that, Lord Richard, you will never be worthy of your golden

"And the King told me she would treat me as a mother," exclaimed
Richard. "Do you think the King speaks the truth, Osmond?"

"That we shall see by his deeds," said Osmond.

"He was very kind while we were in Normandy. I loved him so much
better than the Count de Harcourt; but now I think that the Count is
best! I'll tell you, Osmond, I will never call him grim old Bernard

"You had best not, sir, for you will never have a more true-hearted

"Well, I wish we were back in Normandy, with Fru Astrida and Alberic.
I cannot bear that Lothaire. He is proud, and unknightly, and cruel.
I am sure he is, and I will never love him."

"Hush, my Lord!--beware of speaking so loud. You are not in your own

"And Carloman is a chicken-heart," continued Richard, unheeding. "He
does not like to touch snow, and he cannot even slide on the ice, and
he is afraid to go near that great dog--that beautiful wolf-hound."

"He is very little," said Osmond.

"I am sure I was not as cowardly at his age, now was I, Osmond?
Don't you remember?"

"Come, Lord Richard, I cannot let you wait to remember everything;
tell your beads and pray that we may be brought safe back to Rouen;
and that you may not forget all the good that Father Lucas and holy
Abbot Martin have laboured to teach you."

So Richard told the beads of his rosary--black polished wood, with
amber at certain spaces--he repeated a prayer with every bead, and
Osmond did the same; then the little Duke put himself into a narrow
crib of richly carved walnut; while Osmond, having stuck his dagger
so as to form an additional bolt to secure the door, and examined the
hangings that no secret entrance might be concealed behind them,
gathered a heap of rushes together, and lay down on them, wrapped in
his mantle, across the doorway. The Duke was soon asleep; but the
Squire lay long awake, musing on the possible dangers that surrounded
his charge, and on the best way of guarding against them.


Osmond de Centeville was soon convinced that no immediate peril
threatened his young Duke at the Court of Laon. Louis seemed to
intend to fulfil his oaths to the Normans by allowing the child to be
the companion of his own sons, and to be treated in every respect as
became his rank. Richard had his proper place at table, and all due
attendance; he learnt, rode, and played with the Princes, and there
was nothing to complain of, excepting the coldness and inattention
with which the King and Queen treated him, by no means fulfilling the
promise of being as parents to their orphan ward. Gerberge, who had
from the first dreaded his superior strength and his roughness with
her puny boys, and who had been by no means won by his manners at
their first meeting, was especially distant and severe with him,
hardly ever speaking to him except with some rebuke, which, it must
be confessed, Richard often deserved.

As to the boys, his constant companions, Richard was on very friendly
terms with Carlo-man, a gentle, timid, weakly child. Richard looked
down upon him; but he was kind, as a generous-tempered boy could not
fail to be, to one younger and weaker than himself. He was so much
kinder than Lothaire, that Carloman was fast growing very fond of
him, and looked up to his strength and courage as something noble and

It was very different with Lothaire, the person from whom, above all
others, Richard would have most expected to meet with affection, as
his father's god-son, a relationship which in those times was thought
almost as near as kindred by blood. Lothaire had been brought up by
an indulgent mother, and by courtiers who never ceased flattering
him, as the heir to the crown, and he had learnt to think that to
give way to his naturally imperious and violent disposition was the
way to prove his power and assert his rank. He had always had his
own way, and nothing had ever been done to check his faults; somewhat
weakly health had made him fretful and timid; and a latent
consciousness of this fearfulness made him all the more cruel,
sometimes because he was frightened, sometimes because he fancied it

He treated his little brother in a way which in these times boys
would call bullying; and, as no one ever dared to oppose the King's
eldest son, it was pretty much the same with every one else, except
now and then some dumb creature, and then all Lothaire's cruelty was
shown. When his horse kicked, and ended by throwing him, he stood
by, and caused it to be beaten till the poor creature's back streamed
with blood; when his dog bit his hand in trying to seize the meat
with which he was teazing it, he insisted on having it killed, and it
was worse still when a falcon pecked one of his fingers. It really
hurt him a good deal, and, in a furious rage, he caused two nails to
be heated red hot in the fire, intending to have them thrust into the
poor bird's eyes.

"I will not have it done!" exclaimed Richard, expecting to be obeyed
as he was at home; but Lothaire only laughed scornfully, saying, "Do
you think you are master here, Sir pirate?"

"I will not have it done!" repeated Richard. "Shame on you, shame on
you, for thinking of such an unkingly deed."

"Shame on me! Do you know to whom you speak, master savage?" cried
Lothaire, red with passion.

"I know who is the savage now!" said Richard. "Hold!" to the servant
who was bringing the red-hot irons in a pair of tongs.

"Hold?" exclaimed Lothaire. "No one commands here but I and my
father. Go on Charlot--where is the bird? Keep her fast, Giles."

"Osmond. You I can command--"

"Come away, my Lord," said Osmond, interrupting Richard's order,
before it was issued. "We have no right to interfere here, and cannot
hinder it. Come away from such a foul sight."

"Shame on you too, Osmond, to let such a deed be done without
hindering it!" exclaimed Richard, breaking from him, and rushing on
the man who carried the hot irons. The French servants were not very
willing to exert their strength against the Duke of Normandy, and
Richard's onset, taking the man by surprise, made him drop the tongs.
Lothaire, both afraid and enraged, caught them up as a weapon of
defence, and, hardly knowing what he did, struck full at Richard's
face with the hot iron. Happily it missed his eye, and the heat had
a little abated; but, as it touched his cheek, it burnt him
sufficiently to cause considerable pain. With a cry of passion, he
flew at Lothaire, shook him with all his might, and ended by throwing
him at his length on the pavement. But this was the last of
Richard's exploits, for he was at the same moment captured by his
Squire, and borne off, struggling and kicking as if Osmond had been
his greatest foe; but the young Norman's arms were like iron round
him; and he gave over his resistance sooner, because at that moment a
whirring flapping sound was heard, and the poor hawk rose high,
higher, over their heads in ever lessening circles, far away from her
enemies. The servant who held her, had relaxed his grasp in the
consternation caused by Lothaire's fall, and she was mounting up and
up, spying, it might be, her way to her native rocks in Iceland, with
the yellow eyes which Richard had saved.

"Safe! safe!" cried Richard, joyfully, ceasing his struggles. "Oh,
how glad I am! That young villain should never have hurt her. Put
me down, Osmond, what are you doing with me?"

"Saving you from your--no, I cannot call it folly,--I would hardly
have had you stand still to see such--but let me see your face."

"It is nothing. I don't care now the hawk is safe," said Richard,
though he could hardly keep his lips in order, and was obliged to
wink very hard with his eyes to keep the tears out, now that he had
leisure to feel the smarting; but it would have been far beneath a
Northman to complain, and he stood bearing it gallantly, and pinching
his fingers tightly together, while Osmond knelt down to examine the
hurt. "'Tis not much," said he, talking to himself, "half bruise,
half burn--I wish my grandmother was here--however, it can't last
long! 'Tis right, you bear it like a little Berserkar, and it is no
bad thing that you should have a scar to show, that they may not be
able to say you did ALL the damage."

"Will it always leave a mark?" said Richard. "I am afraid they will
call me Richard of the scarred cheek, when we get back to Normandy."

"Never mind, if they do--it will not be a mark to be ashamed of, even
if it does last, which I do not believe it will."

"Oh, no, I am so glad the gallant falcon is out of his reach!"
replied Richard, in a somewhat quivering voice.

"Does it smart much? Well, come and bathe it with cold water--or
shall I take you to one of the Queen's women?"

"No--the water," said Richard, and to the fountain in the court they
went; but Osmond had only just begun to splash the cheek with the
half-frozen water, with a sort of rough kindness, afraid at once of
teaching the Duke to be effeminate, and of not being as tender to him
as Dame Astrida would have wished, when a messenger came in haste
from the King, commanding the presence of the Duke of Normandy and
his Squire.

Lothaire was standing between his father and mother on their throne-
like seat, leaning against the Queen, who had her arm round him; his
face was red and glazed with tears, and he still shook with subsiding
sobs. It was evident he was just recovering from a passionate crying

"How is this?" began the King, as Richard entered. "What means this
conduct, my Lord of Normandy? Know you what you have done in
striking the heir of France? I might imprison you this instant in a
dungeon where you would never see the light of day."

"Then Bernard de Harcourt would come and set me free," fearlessly
answered Richard.

"Do you bandy words with me, child? Ask Prince Lothaire's pardon
instantly, or you shall rue it."

"I have done nothing to ask his pardon for. It would have been cruel
and cowardly in me to let him put out the poor hawk's eyes," said
Richard, with a Northman's stern contempt for pain, disdaining to
mention his own burnt cheek, which indeed the King might have seen
plainly enough.

"Hawk's eyes!" repeated the King. "Speak the truth, Sir Duke; do not
add slander to your other faults."

"I have spoken the truth--I always speak it!" cried Richard.
"Whoever says otherwise lies in his throat."

Osmond here hastily interfered, and desired permission to tell the
whole story. The hawk was a valuable bird, and Louis's face darkened
when he heard what Lothaire had purposed, for the Prince had, in
telling his own story, made it appear that Richard had been the
aggressor by insisting on letting the falcon fly. Osmond finished by
pointing to the mark on Richard's cheek, so evidently a burn, as to
be proof that hot iron had played a part in the matter. The King
looked at one of his own Squires and asked his account, and he with
some hesitation could not but reply that it was as the young Sieur de
Centeville had said. Thereupon Louis angrily reproved his own people
for having assisted the Prince in trying to injure the hawk, called
for the chief falconer, rated him for not better attending to his
birds, and went forth with him to see if the hawk could yet be
recaptured, leaving the two boys neither punished nor pardoned.

"So you have escaped for this once," said Gerberge, coldly, to
Richard; "you had better beware another time. Come with me, my poor
darling Lothaire." She led her son away to her own apartments, and
the French Squires began to grumble to each other complaints of the
impossibility of pleasing their Lords, since, if they contradicted
Prince Lothaire, he was so spiteful that he was sure to set the Queen
against them, and that was far worse in the end than the King's
displeasure. Osmond, in the meantime, took Richard to re-commence
bathing his face, and presently Carloman ran out to pity him, wonder
at him for not crying, and say he was glad the poor hawk had escaped.

The cheek continued inflamed and painful for some time, and there was
a deep scar long after the pain had ceased, but Richard thought
little of it after the first, and would have scorned to bear ill-will
to Lothaire for the injury.

Lothaire left off taunting Richard with his Norman accent, and
calling him a young Sea-king. He had felt his strength, and was
afraid of him; but he did not like him the better--he never played
with him willingly--scowled, and looked dark and jealous, if his
father, or if any of the great nobles took the least notice of the
little Duke, and whenever he was out of hearing, talked against him
with all his natural spitefulness.

Richard liked Lothaire quite as little, contemning almost equally his
cowardly ways and his imperious disposition. Since he had been Duke,
Richard had been somewhat inclined to grow imperious himself, though
always kept under restraint by Fru Astrida's good training, and Count
Bernard's authority, and his whole generous nature would have
revolted against treating Alberic, or indeed his meanest vassal, as
Lothaire used the unfortunate children who were his playfellows.
Perhaps this made him look on with great horror at the tyranny which
Lothaire exercised; at any rate he learnt to abhor it more, and to
make many resolutions against ordering people about uncivilly when
once he should be in Normandy again. He often interfered to protect
the poor boys, and generally with success, for the Prince was afraid
of provoking such another shake as Richard had once given him, and
though he generally repaid himself on his victim in the end, he
yielded for the time.

Carloman, whom Richard often saved from his brother's unkindness,
clung closer and closer to him, went with him everywhere, tried to do
all he did, grew very fond of Osmond, and liked nothing better than
to sit by Richard in some wide window-seat, in the evening, after
supper, and listen to Richard's version of some of Fru Astrida's
favourite tales, or hear the never-ending history of sports at
Centeville, or at Rollo's Tower, or settle what great things they
would both do when they were grown up, and Richard was ruling
Normandy--perhaps go to the Holy Land together, and slaughter an
unheard-of host of giants and dragons on the way. In the meantime,
however, poor Carloman gave small promise of being able to perform
great exploits, for he was very small for his age and often ailing;
soon tired, and never able to bear much rough play. Richard, who had
never had any reason to learn to forbear, did not at first understand
this, and made Carloman cry several times with his roughness and
violence, but this always vexed him so much that he grew careful to
avoid such things for the future, and gradually learnt to treat his
poor little weakly friend with a gentleness and patience at which
Osmond used to marvel, and which he would hardly have been taught in
his prosperity at home.

Between Carloman and Osmond he was thus tolerably happy at Laon, but
he missed his own dear friends, and the loving greetings of his
vassals, and longed earnestly to be at Rouen, asking Osmond almost
every night when they should go back, to which Osmond could only
answer that he must pray that Heaven would be pleased to bring them
home safely.

Osmond, in the meantime, kept a vigilant watch for anything that
might seem to threaten danger to his Lord; but at present there was
no token of any evil being intended; the only point in which Louis
did not seem to be fulfilling his promises to the Normans was, that
no preparations were made for attacking the Count of Flanders.

At Easter the court was visited by Hugh the White, the great Count of
Paris, the most powerful man in France, and who was only prevented by
his own loyalty and forbearance, from taking the crown from the
feeble and degenerate race of Charlemagne. He had been a firm friend
of William Longsword, and Osmond remarked how, on his arrival, the
King took care to bring Richard forward, talk of him affectionately,
and caress him almost as much as he had done at Rouen. The Count
himself was really kind and affectionate to the little Duke; he kept
him by his side, and seemed to like to stroke down his long flaxen
hair, looking in his face with a grave mournful expression, as if
seeking for a likeness to his father. He soon asked about the scar
which the burn had left, and the King was obliged to answer hastily,
it was an accident, a disaster that had chanced in a boyish quarrel.
Louis, in fact, was uneasy, and appeared to be watching the Count of
Paris the whole time of his visit, so as to prevent him from having
any conversation in private with the other great vassals assembled at
the court. Hugh did not seem to perceive this, and acted as if he
was entirely at his ease, but at the same time he watched his
opportunity. One evening, after supper, he came up to the window
where Richard and Carloman were, as usual, deep in story telling; he
sat down on the stone seat, and taking Richard on his knee, he asked
if he had any greetings for the Count de Harcourt.

How Richard's face lighted up! "Oh, Sir," he cried, "are you going
to Normandy?"

"Not yet, my boy, but it may be that I may have to meet old Harcourt
at the Elm of Gisors."

"Oh, if I was but going with you."

"I wish I could take you, but it would scarcely do for me to steal
the heir of Normandy. What shall I tell him?"

"Tell him," whispered Richard, edging himself close to the Count, and
trying to reach his ear, "tell him that I am sorry, now, that I was
sullen when he reproved me. I know he was right. And, sir, if he
brings with him a certain huntsman with a long hooked nose, whose
name is Walter, {12} tell him I am sorry I used to order him about so
unkindly. And tell him to bear my greetings to Fru Astrida and Sir
Eric, and to Alberic."

"Shall I tell him how you have marked your face?"

"No," said Richard, "he would think me a baby to care about such a
thing as that!"

The Count asked how it happened, and Richard told the story, for he
felt as if he could tell the kind Count anything--it was almost like
that last evening that he had sat on his father's knee. Hugh ended
by putting his arm round him, and saying, "Well, my little Duke, I am
as glad as you are the gallant bird is safe--it will be a tale for my
own little Hugh and Eumacette {13} at home--and you must one day be
friends with them as your father has been with me. And now, do you
think your Squire could come to my chamber late this evening when the
household is at rest?"

Richard undertook that Osmond should do so, and the Count, setting
him down again, returned to the dais. Osmond, before going to the
Count that evening, ordered Sybald to come and guard the Duke's door.
It was a long conference, for Hugh had come to Laon chiefly for the
purpose of seeing how it went with his friend's son, and was anxious
to know what Osmond thought of the matter. They agreed that at
present there did not seem to be any evil intended, and that it
rather appeared as if Louis wished only to keep him as a hostage for
the tranquillity of the borders of Normandy; but Hugh advised that
Osmond should maintain a careful watch, and send intelligence to him
on the first token of mischief.

The next morning the Count of Paris quitted Laon, and everything went
on in the usual course till the feast of Whitsuntide, when there was
always a great display of splendour at the French court. The crown
vassals generally came to pay their duty and go with the King to
Church; and there was a state banquet, at which the King and Queen
wore their crowns, and every one sat in great magnificence according
to their rank.

The grand procession to Church was over. Richard had walked with
Carloman, the Prince richly dressed in blue, embroidered with golden
fleur-de-lys, and Richard in scarlet, with a gold Cross on his
breast; the beautiful service was over, they had returned to the
Castle, and there the Seneschal was marshalling the goodly and noble
company to the banquet, when horses' feet were heard at the gate
announcing some fresh arrival. The Seneschal went to receive the
guests, and presently was heard ushering in the noble Prince, Arnulf,
Count of Flanders.

Richard's face became pale--he turned from Carloman by whose side he
had been standing, and walked straight out of the hall and up the
stairs, closely followed by Osmond. In a few minutes there was a
knock at the door of his chamber, and a French Knight stood there
saying, "Comes not the Duke to the banquet?"

"No," answered Osmond: "he eats not with the slayer of his father."

"The King will take it amiss; for the sake of the child you had
better beware," said the Frenchman, hesitating.

"He had better beware himself," exclaimed Osmond, indignantly, "how
he brings the treacherous murderer of William Longsword into the
presence of a free-born Norman, unless he would see him slain where
he stands. Were it not for the boy, I would challenge the traitor
this instant to single combat."

"Well, I can scarce blame you," said the Knight, "but you had best
have a care how you tread. Farewell."

Richard had hardly time to express his indignation, and his wishes
that he was a man, before another message came through a groom of
Lothaire's train, that the Duke must fast, if he would not consent to
feast with the rest.

"Tell Prince Lothaire," replied Richard, "that I am not such a
glutton as he--I had rather fast than be choked with eating with

All the rest of the day, Richard remained in his own chamber,
resolved not to run the risk of meeting with Arnulf. The Squire
remained with him, in this voluntary imprisonment, and they occupied
themselves, as best they could, with furbishing Osmond's armour, and
helping each other out in repeating some of the Sagas. They once
heard a great uproar in the court, and both were very anxious to
learn its cause, but they did not know it till late in the afternoon.

Carloman crept up to them--"Here I am at last!" he exclaimed. "Here,
Richard, I have brought you some bread, as you had no dinner: it was
all I could bring. I saved it under the table lest Lothaire should
see it."

Richard thanked Carloman with all his heart, and being very hungry
was glad to share the bread with Osmond. He asked how long the
wicked Count was going to stay, and rejoiced to hear he was going
away the next morning, and the King was going with him.

"What was that great noise in the court?" asked Richard.

"I scarcely like to tell you," returned Carloman.

Richard, however, begged to hear, and Carloman was obliged to tell
that the two Norman grooms, Sybald and Henry, had quarrelled with the
Flemings of Arnulf's train; there had been a fray, which had ended in
the death of three Flemings, a Frank, and of Sybald himself--And
where was Henry? Alas! there was more ill news--the King had
sentenced Henry to die, and he had been hanged immediately.

Dark with anger and sorrow grew young Richard's face; he had been
fond of his two Norman attendants, he trusted to their attachment,
and he would have wept for their loss even if it had happened in any
other way; but now, when it had been caused by their enmity to his
father's foes, the Flemings,--when one had fallen overwhelmed by
numbers, and the other been condemned hastily, cruelly, unjustly, it
was too much, and he almost choked with grief and indignation. Why
had he not been there, to claim Henry as his own vassal, and if he
could not save him, at least bid him farewell? Then he would have
broken out in angry threats, but he felt his own helplessness, and
was ashamed, and he could only shed tears of passionate grief,
refusing all Carloman's attempts to comfort him. Osmond was even
more concerned; he valued the two Normans extremely for their courage
and faithfulness, and had relied on sending intelligence by their
means to Rouen, in case of need. It appeared to him as if the first
opportunity had been seized of removing these protectors from the
little Duke, and as if the designs, whatever they might be, which had
been formed against him, were about to take effect. He had little
doubt that his own turn would be the next; but he was resolved to
endure anything, rather than give the smallest opportunity of
removing him, to bear even insults with patience, and to remember
that in his care rested the sole hope of safety for his charge.

That danger was fast gathering around them became more evident every
day, especially after the King and Arnulf had gone away together. It
was very hot weather, and Richard began to weary after the broad cool
river at Rouen, where he used to bathe last summer; and one evening
he persuaded his Squire to go down with him to the Oise, which flowed
along some meadow ground about a quarter of a mile from the Castle;
but they had hardly set forth before three or four attendants came
running after them, with express orders from the Queen that they
should return immediately. They obeyed, and found her standing in
the Castle hall, looking greatly incensed.

"What means this?" she asked, angrily. "Knew you not that the King
has left commands that the Duke quits not the Castle in his absence?"

"I was only going as far as the river--" began Richard, but Gerberge
cut him short. "Silence, child--I will hear no excuses. Perhaps you
think, Sieur de Centeville, that you may take liberties in the King's
absence, but I tell you that if you are found without the walls
again, it shall be at your peril; ay, and his! I'll have those
haughty eyes put out, if you disobey!"

She turned away, and Lothaire looked at them with his air of
gratified malice. "You will not lord it over your betters much
longer, young pirate!" said he, as he followed his mother, afraid to
stay to meet the anger he might have excited by the taunt he could
not deny himself the pleasure of making; but Richard, who, six months
ago could not brook a slight disappointment or opposition, had, in
his present life of restraint, danger, and vexation, learnt to curb
the first outbreak of temper, and to bear patiently instead of
breaking out into passion and threats, and now his only thought was
of his beloved Squire.

"Oh, Osmond! Osmond!" he exclaimed, "they shall not hurt you. I
will never go out again. I will never speak another hasty word. I
will never affront the Prince, if they will but leave you with me!"


It was a fine summer evening, and Richard and Carloman were playing
at ball on the steps of the Castle-gate, when a voice was heard from
beneath, begging for alms from the noble Princes in the name of the
blessed Virgin, and the two boys saw a pilgrim standing at the gate,
wrapt in a long robe of serge, with a staff in his hand, surmounted
by a Cross, a scrip at his girdle, and a broad shady hat, which he
had taken off, as he stood, making low obeisances, and asking

"Come in, holy pilgrim," said Carloman. "It is late, and you shall
sup and rest here to-night."

"Blessings from Heaven light on you, noble Prince," replied the
pilgrim, and at that moment Richard shouted joyfully, "A Norman, a
Norman! 'tis my own dear speech! Oh, are you not from Normandy?
Osmond, Osmond! he comes from home!"

"My Lord! my own Lord!" exclaimed the pilgrim, and, kneeling on one
knee at the foot of the steps, he kissed the hand which his young
Duke held out to him--"This is joy unlooked for!"

"Walter!--Walter, the huntsman!" cried Richard. "Is it you? Oh, how
is Fru Astrida, and all at home?"

"Well, my Lord, and wearying to know how it is with you--" began
Walter--but a very different tone exclaimed from behind the pilgrim,
"What is all this? Who is stopping my way? What! Richard would be
King, and more, would he? More insolence!" It was Lothaire,
returning with his attendants from the chase, in by no means an
amiable mood, for he had been disappointed of his game.

"He is a Norman--a vassal of Richard's own," said Carloman.

"A Norman, is he? I thought we had got rid of the robbers! We want
no robbers here! Scourge him soundly, Perron, and teach him how to
stop my way!"

"He is a pilgrim, my Lord," suggested one of the followers.

"I care not; I'll have no Normans here, coming spying in disguise.
Scourge him, I say, dog that he is! Away with him! A spy, a spy!"

"No Norman is scourged in my sight!" said Richard, darting forwards,
and throwing himself between Walter and the woodsman, who was
preparing to obey Lothaire, just in time to receive on his own bare
neck the sharp, cutting leathern thong, which raised a long red
streak along its course. Lothaire laughed.

"My Lord Duke! What have you done? Oh, leave me--this befits you
not!" cried Walter, extremely distressed; but Richard had caught hold
of the whip, and called out, "Away, away! run! haste, haste!" and the
words were repeated at once by Osmond, Carloman, and many of the
French, who, though afraid to disobey the Prince, were unwilling to
violate the sanctity of a pilgrim's person; and the Norman, seeing
there was no help for it, obeyed: the French made way for him and he
effected his escape; while Lothaire, after a great deal of storming
and raging, went up to his mother to triumph in the cleverness with
which he had detected a Norman spy in disguise.

Lothaire was not far wrong; Walter had really come to satisfy himself
as to the safety of the little Duke, and try to gain an interview
with Osmond. In the latter purpose he failed, though he lingered in
the neighbourhood of Laon for several days; for Osmond never left the
Duke for an instant, and he was, as has been shown, a close prisoner,
in all but the name, within the walls of the Castle. The pilgrim
had, however, the opportunity of picking up tidings which made him
perceive the true state of things: he learnt the deaths of Sybald
and Henry, the alliance between the King and Arnulf, and the
restraint and harshness with which the Duke was treated; and with
this intelligence he went in haste to Normandy.

Soon after his arrival, a three days' fast was observed throughout
the dukedom, and in every church, from the Cathedral of Bayeux to the
smallest and rudest village shrine, crowds of worshippers were
kneeling, imploring, many of them with tears, that God would look on
them in His mercy, restore to them their Prince, and deliver the
child out of the hands of his enemies. How earnest and sorrowful
were the prayers offered at Centeville may well be imagined; and at
Montemar sur Epte the anxiety was scarcely less. Indeed, from the
time the evil tidings arrived, Alberic grew so restless and unhappy,
and so anxious to do something, that at last his mother set out with
him on a pilgrimage to the Abbey of Jumieges, to pray for the rescue
of his dear little Duke.

In the meantime, Louis had sent notice to Laon that he should return
home in a week's time; and Richard rejoiced at the prospect, for the
King had always been less unkind to him than the Queen, and he hoped
to be released from his captivity within the Castle. Just at this
time he became very unwell; it might have been only the effect of the
life of unwonted confinement which he had lately led that was
beginning to tell on his health; but, after being heavy and
uncomfortable for a day or two, without knowing what was the matter
with him, he was one night attacked with high fever.

Osmond was dreadfully alarmed, knowing nothing at all of the
treatment of illness, and, what was worse, fully persuaded that the
poor child had been poisoned, and therefore resolved not to call any
assistance; he hung over him all night, expecting each moment to see
him expire--ready to tear his hair with despair and fury, and yet
obliged to restrain himself to the utmost quietness and gentleness,
to soothe the suffering of the sick child.

Through that night, Richard either tossed about on his narrow bed,
or, when his restlessness desired the change, sat, leaning his aching
head on Osmond's breast, too oppressed and miserable to speak or
think. When the day dawned on them, and he was still too ill to
leave the room, messengers were sent for him, and Osmond could no
longer conceal the fact of his sickness, but parleyed at the door,
keeping out every one he could, and refusing all offers of
attendance. He would not even admit Carloman, though Richard,
hearing his voice, begged to see him; and when a proposal was sent
from the Queen, that a skilful old nurse should visit and prescribe
for the patient, he refused with all his might, and when he had shut
the door, walked up and down, muttering, "Ay, ay, the witch! coming
to finish what she has begun!"

All that day and the next, Richard continued very ill, and Osmond
waited on him very assiduously, never closing his eyes for a moment,
but constantly telling his beads whenever the boy did not require his
attendance. At last Richard fell asleep, slept long and soundly for
some hours, and waked much better. Osmond was in a transport of joy:
"Thanks to Heaven, they shall fail for this time and they shall never
have another chance! May Heaven be with us still!" Richard was too
weak and weary to ask what he meant, and for the next few days Osmond
watched him with the utmost care. As for food, now that Richard
could eat again, Osmond would not hear of his touching what was sent
for him from the royal table, but always went down himself to procure
food in the kitchen, where he said he had a friend among the cooks,
who would, he thought, scarcely poison him intentionally. When
Richard was able to cross the room, he insisted on his always
fastening the door with his dagger, and never opening to any summons
but his own, not even Prince Carloman's. Richard wondered, but he
was obliged to obey; and he knew enough of the perils around him to
perceive the reasonableness of Osmond's caution.

Thus several days had passed, the King had returned, and Richard was
so much recovered, that he had become very anxious to be allowed to
go down stairs again, instead of remaining shut up there; but still
Osmond would not consent, though Richard had done nothing all day but
walk round the room, to show how strong he was.

"Now, my Lord, guard the door--take care," said Osmond; "you have no
loss to-day, for the King has brought home Herluin of Montreuil, whom
you would be almost as loth to meet as the Fleming. And tell your
beads while I am gone, that the Saints may bring us out of our

Osmond was absent nearly half an hour, and, when he returned, brought
on his shoulders a huge bundle of straw. "What is this for?"
exclaimed Richard. "I wanted my supper, and you have brought straw!"

"Here is your supper," said Osmond, throwing down the straw, and
producing a bag with some bread and meat. "What should you say, my
Lord, if we should sup in Normandy to-morrow night?"

"In Normandy!" cried Richard, springing up and clapping his hands.
"In Normandy! Oh, Osmond, did you say in Normandy? Shall we, shall
we really? Oh, joy! joy! Is Count Bernard come? Will the King let
us go?"

"Hush! hush, sir! It must be our own doing; it will all fail if you
are not silent and prudent, and we shall be undone."

"I will do anything to get home again!"

"Eat first," said Osmond.

"But what are you going to do? I will not be as foolish as I was
when you tried to get me safe out of Rollo's tower. But I should
like to wish Carloman farewell."

"That must not be," said Osmond; "we should not have time to escape,
if they did not still believe you very ill in bed."

"I am sorry not to wish Carloman good-bye," repeated Richard; "but we
shall see Fru Astrida again, and Sir Eric; and Alberic must come
back! Oh, do let us go! O Normandy, dear Normandy!"

Richard could hardly eat for excitement, while Osmond hastily made
his arrangements, girding on his sword, and giving Richard his dagger
to put into his belt. He placed the remainder of the provisions in
his wallet, threw a thick purple cloth mantle over the Duke, and then
desired him to lie down on the straw which he had brought in. "I
shall hide you in it," he said, "and carry you through the hall, as
if I was going to feed my horse."

"Oh, they will never guess!" cried Richard, laughing. "I will be
quite still--I will make no noise--I will hold my breath."

"Yes, mind you do not move hand or foot, or rustle the straw. It is
no play--it is life or death," said Osmond, as he disposed the straw
round the little boy. "There, can you breathe?"

"Yes," said Richard's voice from the midst. "Am I quite hidden?"

"Entirely. Now, remember, whatever happens, do not move. May Heaven
protect us! Now, the Saints be with us!"

Richard, from the interior of the bundle heard Osmond set open the
door; then he felt himself raised from the ground; Osmond was
carrying him along down the stairs, the ends of the straw crushing
and sweeping against the wall. The only way to the outer door was
through the hall, and here was the danger. Richard heard voices,
steps, loud singing and laughter, as if feasting was going on; then
some one said, "Tending your horse, Sieur de Centeville?"

"Yes," Osmond made answer. "You know, since we lost our grooms, the
poor black would come off badly, did I not attend to him."

Presently came Carloman's voice: "O Osmond de Centeville! is Richard

"He is better, my Lord, I thank you, but hardly yet out of danger."

"Oh, I wish he was well! And when will you let me come to him,
Osmond? Indeed, I would sit quiet, and not disturb him."

"It may not be yet, my Lord, though the Duke loves you well--he told
me so but now."

"Did he? Oh, tell him I love him very much--better than any one
here--and it is very dull without him. Tell him so, Osmond."

Richard could hardly help calling out to his dear little Carloman;
but he remembered the peril of Osmond's eyes and the Queen's threat,
and held his peace, with some vague notion that some day he would
make Carloman King of France. In the meantime, half stifled with the
straw, he felt himself carried on, down the steps, across the court;
and then he knew, from the darkness and the changed sound of Osmond's
tread, that they were in the stable. Osmond laid him carefully down,
and whispered--"All right so far. You can breathe?"

"Not well. Can't you let me out?"

"Not yet--not for worlds. Now tell me if I put you face downwards,
for I cannot see."

He laid the living heap of straw across the saddle, bound it on, then
led out the horse, gazing round cautiously as he did so; but the
whole of the people of the Castle were feasting, and there was no one
to watch the gates. Richard heard the hollow sound of the hoofs, as
the drawbridge was crossed, and knew that he was free; but still
Osmond held his arm over him, and would not let him move, for some
distance. Then, just as Richard felt as if he could endure the
stifling of the straw, and his uncomfortable position, not a moment
longer, Osmond stopped the horse, took him down, laid him on the
grass, and released him. He gazed around; they were in a little
wood; evening twilight was just coming on, and the birds sang

"Free! free!--this is freedom!" cried Richard, leaping up in the
delicious cool evening breeze; "the Queen and Lothaire, and that grim
room, all far behind."

"Not so far yet," said Osmond; "you must not call yourself safe till
the Epte is between us and them. Into the saddle, my Lord; we must
ride for our lives."

Osmond helped the Duke to mount, and sprang to the saddle behind him,
set spurs to the horse, and rode on at a quick rate, though not at
full speed, as he wished to spare the horse. The twilight faded, the
stars came out, and still he rode, his arm round the child, who, as
night advanced, grew weary, and often sunk into a sort of half doze,
conscious all the time of the trot of the horse. But each step was
taking him further from Queen Gerberge, and nearer to Normandy; and
what recked he of weariness? On--on; the stars grew pale again, and
the first pink light of dawn showed in the eastern sky; the sun rose,
mounted higher and higher, and the day grew hotter; the horse went
more slowly, stumbled, and though Osmond halted and loosed the girth,
he only mended his pace for a little while.

Osmond looked grievously perplexed; but they had not gone much
further before a party of merchants came in sight, winding their way
with a long train of loaded mules, and stout men to guard them,
across the plains, like an eastern caravan in the desert. They gazed
in surprise at the tall young Norman holding the child upon the worn-
out war-horse.

"Sir merchant," said Osmond to the first, "see you this steed?
Better horse never was ridden; but he is sorely spent, and we must
make speed. Let me barter him with you for yonder stout palfrey. He
is worth twice as much, but I cannot stop to chaffer--ay or no at

The merchant, seeing the value of Osmond's gallant black, accepted
the offer; and Osmond removing his saddle, and placing Richard on his
new steed, again mounted, and on they went through the country which
Osmond's eye had marked with the sagacity men acquire by living in
wild, unsettled places. The great marshes were now far less
dangerous than in the winter, and they safely crossed them. There
had, as yet, been no pursuit, and Osmond's only fear was for his
little charge, who, not having recovered his full strength since his
illness, began to suffer greatly from fatigue in the heat of that
broiling summer day, and leant against Osmond patiently, but very
wearily, without moving or looking up. He scarcely revived when the
sun went down, and a cool breeze sprang up, which much refreshed
Osmond himself; and still more did it refresh the Squire to see, at
length, winding through the green pastures, a blue river, on the
opposite bank of which rose a high rocky mound, bearing a castle with
many a turret and battlement.

"The Epte! the Epte! There is Normandy, sir! Look up, and see your
own dukedom." "Normandy!" cried Richard, sitting upright. "Oh, my
own home!" Still the Epte was wide and deep, and the peril was not
yet ended. Osmond looked anxiously, and rejoiced to see marks of
cattle, as if it had been forded. "We must try it," he said, and
dismounting, he waded in, leading the horse, and firmly holding
Richard in the saddle. Deep they went; the water rose to Richard's
feet, then to the horse's neck; then the horse was swimming, and
Osmond too, still keeping his firm hold; then there was ground again,
the force of the current was less, and they were gaining the bank.
At that instant, however, they perceived two men aiming at them with
cross-bows from the castle, and another standing on the bank above
them, who called out, "Hold! None pass the ford of Montemar without
permission of the noble Dame Yolande." "Ha! Bertrand, the Seneschal,
is that you?" returned Osmond. "Who calls me by my name?" replied
the Seneschal. "It is I, Osmond de Centeville. Open your gates
quickly, Sir Seneschal; for here is the Duke, sorely in need of rest
and refreshment."

"The Duke!" exclaimed Bertrand, hurrying down to the landing-place,
and throwing off his cap. "The Duke! the Duke!" rang out the shout
from the men-at-arms on the battlements above and in an instant more
Osmond had led the horse up from the water, and was exclaiming, "Look
up, my Lord, look up! You are in your own dukedom again, and this is
Alberic's castle."

"Welcome, indeed, most noble Lord Duke! Blessings on the day!" cried
the Seneschal. "What joy for my Lady and my young Lord!"

"He is sorely weary," said Osmond, looking anxiously at Richard, who,
even at the welcome cries that showed so plainly that he was in his
own Normandy, scarcely raised himself or spoke. "He had been very
sick ere I brought him away. I doubt me they sought to poison him,
and I vowed not to tarry at Laon another hour after he was fit to
move. But cheer up, my Lord; you are safe and free now, and here is
the good Dame de Montemar to tend you, far better than a rude Squire
like me."

"Alas, no!" said the Seneschal; "our Dame is gone with young Alberic
on a pilgrimage to Jumieges to pray for the Duke's safety. What joy
for them to know that their prayers have been granted!"

Osmond, however, could scarcely rejoice, so alarmed was he at the
extreme weariness and exhaustion of his charge, who, when they
brought him into the Castle hall, hardly spoke or looked, and could
not eat. They carried him up to Alberic's bed, where he tossed about
restlessly, too tired to sleep.

"Alas! alas!" said Osmond, "I have been too hasty. I have but saved
him from the Franks to be his death by my own imprudence."

"Hush! Sieur de Centeville," said the Seneschal's wife, coming into
the room. "To talk in that manner is the way to be his death,
indeed. Leave the child to me--he is only over-weary."

Osmond was sure his Duke was among friends, and would have been glad
to trust him to a woman; but Richard had but one instinct left in all
his weakness and exhaustion--to cling close to Osmond, as if he felt
him his only friend and protector; for he was, as yet, too much worn
out to understand that he was in Normandy and safe. For two or three
hours, therefore, Osmond and the Seneschal's wife watched on each
side of his bed, soothing his restlessness, until at length he became
quiet, and at last dropped sound asleep.

The sun was high in the heavens when Richard awoke. He turned on his
straw-filled crib, and looked up. It was not the tapestried walls of
his chamber at Laon that met his opening eyes, but the rugged stone
and tall loop-hole window of a turret chamber. Osmond de Centeville
lay on the floor by his side, in the sound sleep of one overcome by
long watching and weariness. And what more did Richard see?

It was the bright face and sparkling eyes of Alberic de Montemar, who
was leaning against the foot of his bed, gazing earnestly, as he
watched for his waking. There was a cry--"Alberic! Alberic!" "My
Lord! my Lord!" Richard sat up and held out both arms, and Alberic
flung himself into them. They hugged each other, and uttered broken
exclamations and screams of joy, enough to have awakened any sleeper
but one so wearied out as Osmond.

"And is it true? Oh, am I really in Normandy again?" cried Richard.

"Yes, yes!--oh, yes, my Lord! You are at Montemar. Everything here
is yours. The bar-tailed hawk is quite well, and my mother will be
here this evening; she let me ride on the instant we heard the news."

"We rode long and late, and I was very weary," said Richard! "but I
don't care, now we are at home. But I can hardly believe it! Oh,
Alberic, it has been very dreary!"

"See here, my Lord!" said Alberic, standing by the window. "Look
here, and you will know you are at home again!"

Richard bounded to the window, and what a sight met his eyes! The
Castle court was thronged with men-at-arms and horses, the morning
sun sparkling on many a burnished hauberk and tall conical helmet,
and above them waved many a banner and pennon that Richard knew full
well. "There! there!" he shouted aloud with glee. "Oh, there is the
horse-shoe of Ferrieres! and there the chequers of Warenne! Oh, and
best of all, there is--there is our own red pennon of Centeville! O
Alberic! Alberic! is Sir Eric here? I must go down to him!"

"Bertrand sent out notice to them all, as soon as you came, to come
and guard our Castle," said Alberic, "lest the Franks should pursue
you; but you are safe now--safe as Norman spears can make you--thanks
be to God!"

"Yes, thanks to God!" said Richard, crossing himself and kneeling
reverently for some minutes, while he repeated his Latin prayer;
then, rising and looking at Alberic, he said, "I must thank Him,
indeed, for he has saved Osmond and me from the cruel King and Queen,
and I must try to be a less hasty and overbearing boy than I was when
I went away; for I vowed that so I would be, if ever I came back.
Poor Osmond, how soundly he sleeps! Come, Alberic, show me the way to
Sir Eric!"

And, holding Alberic's hand, Richard left the room, and descended the
stairs to the Castle hall. Many of the Norman knights and barons, in
full armour, were gathered there; but Richard looked only for one.
He knew Sir Eric's grizzled hair, and blue inlaid armour, though his
back was towards him, and in a moment, before his entrance had been
perceived, he sprang towards him, and, with outstretched arms,
exclaimed: "Sir Eric--dear Sir Eric, here I am! Osmond is safe! And
is Fru Astrida well?"

The old Baron turned. "My child!" he exclaimed, and clasped him in
his mailed arms, while the tears flowed down his rugged cheeks.
"Blessed be God that you are safe, and that my son has done his

"And is Fru Astrida well?"

"Yes, right well, since she heard of your safety. But look round, my
Lord; it befits not a Duke to be clinging thus round an old man's
neck. See how many of your true vassals be here, to guard you from
the villain Franks."

Richard stood up, and held out his hand, bowing courteously and
acknowledging the greetings of each bold baron, with a grace and
readiness he certainly had not when he left Normandy. He was taller
too; and though still pale, and not dressed with much care (since he
had hurried on his clothes with no help but Alberic's)--though his
hair was rough and disordered, and the scar of the burn had not yet
faded from his check--yet still, with his bright blue eyes, glad
face, and upright form, he was a princely, promising boy, and the
Norman knights looked at him with pride and joy, more especially
when, unprompted, he said: "I thank you, gallant knights, for coming
to guard me. I do not fear the whole French host now I am among my
own true Normans."

Sir Eric led him to the door of the hall to the top of the steps,
that the men-at-arms might see him; and then such a shout rang out of
"Long live Duke Richard!"--"Blessings on the little Duke!"--that it
echoed and came back again from the hills around--it pealed from the
old tower--it roused Osmond from his sleep--and, if anything more had
been wanting to do so, it made Richard feel that he was indeed in a
land where every heart glowed with loyal love for him.

Before the shout had died away, a bugle-horn was heard winding before
the gate; and Sir Eric, saying, "It is the Count of Harcourt's note,"
sent Bertrand to open the gates in haste, while Alberic followed, as
Lord of the Castle, to receive the Count.

The old Count rode into the court, and to the foot of the steps,
where he dismounted, Alberic holding his stirrup. He had not taken
many steps upwards before Richard came voluntarily to meet him (which
he had never done before), held out his hand, and said, "Welcome,
Count Bernard, welcome. Thank you for coming to guard me. I am very
glad to see you once more."

"Ah, my young Lord," said Bernard, "I am right glad to see you out of
the clutches of the Franks! You know friend from foe now, methinks!"

"Yes, indeed I do, Count Bernard. I know you meant kindly by me, and
that I ought to have thanked you, and not been angry, when you
reproved me. Wait one moment, Sir Count; there is one thing that I
promised myself to say if ever I came safe to my own dear home.
Walter--Maurice--Jeannot--all you of my household, and of Sir Eric's-
-I know, before I went away, I was often no good Lord to you; I was
passionate, and proud, and overbearing; but God has punished me for
it, when I was far away among my enemies, and sick and lonely. I am
very sorry for it, and I hope you will pardon me; for I will strive,
and I hope God will help me, never to be proud and passionate again."

"There, Sir Eric," said Bernard, "you hear what the boy says. If he
speaks it out so bold and free, without bidding, and if he holds to
what he says, I doubt it not that he shall not grieve for his journey
to France, and that we shall see him, in all things, such a Prince as
his father of blessed memory."

"You must thank Osmond for me," said Richard, as Osmond came down,
awakened at length. "It is Osmond who has helped me to bear my
troubles; and as to saving me, why he flew away with me even like an
old eagle with its eaglet. I say, Osmond, you must ever after this
wear a pair of wings on shield and pennon, to show how well we
managed our flight." {15}

"As you will, my Lord," said Osmond, half asleep; "but 'twas a good
long flight at a stretch, and I trust never to have to fly before
your foes or mine again."

What a glad summer's day was that! Even the three hours spent in
council did but renew the relish with which Richard visited Alberic's
treasures, told his adventures, and showed the accomplishments he had
learnt at Laon. The evening was more joyous still; for the Castle
gates were opened, first to receive Dame Yolande Montemar, and not
above a quarter of an hour afterwards, the drawbridge was lowered to
admit the followers of Centeville; and in front of them appeared Fru
Astrida's own high cap. Richard made but one bound into her arms,
and was clasped to her breast; then held off at arm's-length, that
she might see how much he was grown, and pity his scar; then hugged
closer than ever: but, taking another look, she declared that Osmond
left his hair like King Harald Horrid-locks; {16} and, drawing an
ivory comb from her pouch, began to pull out the thick tangles,
hurting him to a degree that would once have made him rebel, but now
he only fondled her the more.

As to Osmond, when he knelt before her, she blessed him, and sobbed
over him, and blamed him for over-tiring her darling, all in one; and
assuredly, when night closed in and Richard had, as of old, told his
beads beside her knee, the happiest boy in Normandy was its little


Montemar was too near the frontier to be a safe abode for the little
Duke, and his uncle, Count Hubert of Senlis, agreed with Bernard the
Dane that he would be more secure beyond the limits of his own duchy,
which was likely soon to be the scene of war; and, sorely against his
will, he was sent in secret, under a strong escort, first to the
Castle of Coucy, and afterwards to Senlis.

His consolation was, that he was not again separated from his
friends; Alberic, Sir Eric, and even Fru Astrida, accompanied him, as
well as his constant follower, Osmond. Indeed, the Baron would
hardly bear that he should be out of his sight; and he was still so
carefully watched, that it was almost like a captivity. Never, even
in the summer days, was he allowed to go beyond the Castle walls; and
his guardians would fain have had it supposed that the Castle did not
contain any such guest.

Osmond did not give him so much of his company as usual, but was
always at work in the armourer's forge--a low, vaulted chamber,
opening into the Castle court. Richard and Alberic were very curious
to know what he did there; but he fastened the door with an iron bar,
and they were forced to content themselves with listening to the
strokes of the hammer, keeping time to the voice that sang out, loud
and cheerily, the song of "Sigurd's sword, and the maiden sleeping
within the ring of flame." Fru Astrida said Osmond was quite right--
no good weapon-smith ever toiled with open doors; and when the boys
asked him questions as to his work, he only smiled, and said that
they would see what it was when the call to arms should come.

They thought it near at hand, for tidings came that Louis had
assembled his army, and marched into Normandy to recover the person
of the young Duke, and to seize the country. No summons, however,
arrived, but a message came instead, that Rouen had been surrendered
into the bands of the King. Richard shed indignant tears. "My
father's Castle! My own city in the hands of the foe! Bernard is a
traitor then! None shall hinder me from so calling him. Why did we
trust him?"

"Never fear, Lord Duke," said Osmond. "When you come to the years of
Knighthood, your own sword shall right you, in spite of all the false
Danes, and falser Franks, in the land."

"What! you too, son Osmond? I deemed you carried a cooler brain than
to miscall one who was true to Rollo's race before you or yon varlet
were born!" said the old Baron.

"He has yielded my dukedom! It is mis-calling to say he is aught but
a traitor!" cried Richard. "Vile, treacherous, favour-seeking--"

"Peace, peace, my Lord," said the Baron. "Bernard has more in that
wary head of his than your young wits, or my old ones, can unwind.
What he is doing I may not guess, but I gage my life his heart is

Richard was silent, remembering he had been once unjust, but he
grieved heartily when he thought of the French in Rollo's tower, and
it was further reported that the King was about to share Normandy
among his French vassals. A fresh outcry broke out in the little
garrison of Senlis, but Sir Eric still persisted in his trust in his
friend Bernard, even when he heard that Centeville was marked out as
the prey of the fat French Count who had served for a hostage at

"What say you now, my Lord?" said he, after a conference with a
messenger at the gate. "The Black Raven has spread its wings. Fifty
keels are in the Seine, and Harald Blue-tooth's Long Serpent at the
head of them."

"The King of Denmark! Come to my aid!"

"Ay, that he is! Come at Bernard's secret call, to right you, and
put you on your father's seat. Now call honest Harcourt a traitor,
because he gave not up your fair dukedom to the flame and sword!"

"No traitor to me," said Richard, pausing. "No, verily, but what
more would you say?"

"I think, when I come to my dukedom, I will not be so politic," said
Richard. "I will be an open friend or an open foe."

"The boy grows too sharp for us," said Sir Eric, smiling, "but it was
spoken like his father."

"He grows more like his blessed father each day," said Fru Astrida.

"But the Danes, father, the Danes!" said Osmond. "Blows will be
passing now. I may join the host and win my spurs?"

"With all my heart," returned the Baron, "so my Lord here gives you
leave: would that I could leave him and go with you. It would do my
very spirit good but to set foot in a Northern keel once more."

"I would fain see what these men of the North are," said Osmond.

"Oh! they are only Danes, not Norsemen, and there are no Vikings,
such as once were when Ragnar laid waste--"

"Son, son, what talk is this for the child's ears?" broke in Fru
Astrida, "are these words for a Christian Baron?"

"Your pardon, mother," said the grey warrior, in all humility, "but
my blood thrills to hear of a Northern fleet at hand, and to think of
Osmond drawing sword under a Sea-King."

The next morning, Osmond's steed was led to the door, and such men-
at-arms as could be spared from the garrison of Senlis were drawn up
in readiness to accompany him. The boys stood on the steps, wishing
they were old enough to be warriors, and wondering what had become of
him, until at length the sound of an opening door startled them, and
there, in the low archway of the smithy, the red furnace glowing
behind him, stood Osmond, clad in bright steel, the links of his
hauberk reflecting the light, and on his helmet a pair of golden
wings, while the same device adorned his long pointed kite-shaped

"Your wings! our wings!" cried Richard, "the bearing of Centeville!"

"May they fly after the foe, not before him," said Sir Eric. "Speed
thee well, my son--let not our Danish cousins say we learn Frank
graces instead of Northern blows."

With such farewells, Osmond quitted Senlis, while the two boys
hastened to the battlements to watch him as long as he remained in

The highest tower became their principal resort, and their eyes were
constantly on the heath where he had disappeared; but days passed,
and they grew weary of the watch, and betook themselves to games in
the Castle court.

One day, Alberic, in the character of a Dragon, was lying on his
back, panting hard so as to be supposed to cast out volumes of flame
and smoke at Richard, the Knight, who with a stick for a lance, and a
wooden sword, was waging fierce war; when suddenly the Dragon paused,
sat up, and pointed towards the warder on the tower. His horn was at
his lips, and in another moment, the blast rang out through the

With a loud shout, both boys rushed headlong up the turret stairs,
and came to the top so breathless, that they could not even ask the
warder what he saw. He pointed, and the keen-eyed Alberic exclaimed,
"I see! Look, my Lord, a speck there on the heath!"

"I do not see! where, oh where?"

"He is behind the hillock now, but--oh, there again! How fast he

"It is like the flight of a bird," said Richard, "fast, fast--"

"If only it be not flight in earnest," said Alberic, a little
anxiously, looking into the warder's face, for he was a borderer, and
tales of terror of the inroad of the Vicomte du Contentin were rife
on the marches of the Epte.

"No, young Sir," said the warder, "no fear of that. I know how men
ride when they flee from the battle."

"No, indeed, there is no discomfiture in the pace of that steed,"
said Sir Eric, who had by this time joined them.

"I see him clearer! I see the horse," cried Richard, dancing with
eagerness, so that Sir Eric caught hold of him, exclaiming, "You will
be over the battlements! hold still! better hear of a battle lost
than that!"

"He bears somewhat in his hand," said Alberic.

"A banner or pennon," said the warder; "methinks he rides like the
young Baron."

"He does! My brave boy! He has done good service," exclaimed Sir
Eric, as the figure became more developed. "The Danes have seen how
we train our young men."

"His wings bring good tidings," said Richard. "Let me go, Sir Eric,
I must tell Fru Astrida."

The drawbridge was lowered, the portcullis raised, and as all the
dwellers in the Castle stood gathered in the court, in rode the
warrior with the winged helm, bearing in his hand a drooping banner;
lowering it as he entered, it unfolded, and displayed, trailing on
the ground at the feet of the little Duke of Normandy, the golden
lilies of France.

A shout of amazement arose, and all gathered round him, asking
hurried questions. "A great victory--the King a prisoner--Montreuil

Richard would not be denied holding his hand, and leading him to the
hall, and there, sitting around him, they heard his tidings. His
father's first question was, what he thought of their kinsmen, the

"Rude comrades, father, I must own," said Osmond, smiling, and
shaking his head. "I could not pledge them in a skull-goblet--set in
gold though it were."

"None the worse warriors," said Sir Eric. "Ay, ay, and you were
dainty, and brooked not the hearty old fashion of tearing the whole
sheep to pieces. You must needs cut your portion with the fine
French knife at your girdle."

Osmond could not see that a man was braver for being a savage, but he
held his peace; and Richard impatiently begged to hear how the battle
had gone, and where it had been fought.

"On the bank of the Dive," said Osmond. "Ah, father, you might well
call old Harcourt wary--his name might better have been Fox-heart
than Bear-heart! He had sent to the Franks a message of distress,
that the Danes were on him in full force, and to pray them to come to
his aid."

"I trust there was no treachery. No foul dealing shall be wrought in
my name," exclaimed Richard, with such dignity of tone and manner, as
made all feel he was indeed their Duke, and forget his tender years.

"No, or should I tell the tale with joy like this?" said Osmond.
"Bernard's view was to bring the Kings together, and let Louis see
you had friends to maintain your right. He sought but to avoid

"And how chanced it?"

"The Danes were encamped on the Dive, and so soon as the French came
in sight, Blue-tooth sent a messenger to Louis, to summon him to quit
Neustria, and leave it to you, its lawful owner. Thereupon, Louis,
hoping to win him over with wily words, invited him to hold a
personal conference."

"Where were you, Osmond?"

"Where I had scarce patience to be. Bernard had gathered all of us
honest Normans together, and arranged us beneath that standard of the
King, as if to repel his Danish inroad. Oh, he was, in all seeming,
hand-and-glove with Louis, guiding him by his counsel, and, verily,
seeming his friend and best adviser! But in one thing he could not
prevail. That ungrateful recreant, Herluin of Montreuil, came with
the King, hoping, it seems, to get his share of our spoils; and when
Bernard advised the King to send him home, since no true Norman could
bear the sight of him, the hot-headed Franks vowed no Norman should
hinder them from bringing whom they chose. So a tent was set up by
the riverside, wherein the two Kings, with Bernard, Alan of Brittany,
and Count Hugh, held their meeting. We all stood without, and the
two hosts began to mingle together, we Normans making acquaintance
with the Danes. There was a red-haired, wild-looking fellow, who
told me he had been with Anlaff in England, and spoke much of the
doings of Hako in Norway; when, suddenly, he pointed to a Knight who
was near, speaking to a Cotentinois, and asked me his name. My blood
boiled as I answered, for it was Montreuil himself! 'The cause of
your Duke's death!' said the Dane. 'Ha, ye Normans are fallen sons
of Odin, to see him yet live!'"

"You said, I trust, my son, that we follow not the laws of Odin?"
said Fru Astrida.

"I had no space for a word, grandmother; the Danes took the vengeance
on themselves. In one moment they rushed on Herluin with their axes,
and the unhappy man was dead. All was tumult; every one struck
without knowing at whom, or for what. Some shouted, 'Thor Hulfe!'
some 'Dieu aide!' others 'Montjoie St. Denis!' Northern blood
against French, that was all our guide. I found myself at the foot
of this standard, and had a hard combat for it; but I bore it away at

"And the Kings?"

"They hurried out of the tent, it seems, to rejoin their men. Louis
mounted, but you know of old, my Lord, he is but an indifferent
horseman, and the beast carried him into the midst of the Danes,
where King Harald caught his bridle, and delivered him to four
Knights to keep. Whether he dealt secretly with them, or whether
they, as they declared, lost sight of him whilst plundering his tent,
I cannot say; but when Harald demanded him of them, he was gone."

"Gone! is this what you call having the King prisoner?"

"You shall hear. He rode four leagues, and met one of the baser sort
of Rouennais, whom he bribed to hide him in the Isle of Willows.
However, Bernard made close inquiries, found the fellow had been seen
in speech with a French horseman, pounced on his wife and children,
and threatened they should die if he did not disclose the secret. So
the King was forced to come out of his hiding-place, and is now fast
guarded in Rollo's tower--a Dane, with a battle-axe on his shoulder,
keeping guard at every turn of the stairs."

"Ha! ha!" cried Richard. "I wonder how he likes it. I wonder if he
remembers holding me up to the window, and vowing that he meant me
only good!"

"When you believed him, my Lord," said Osmond, slyly.

"I was a little boy then," said Richard, proudly. "Why, the very
walls must remind him of his oath, and how Count Bernard said, as he
dealt with me, so might Heaven deal with him."

"Remember it, my child--beware of broken vows," said Father Lucas;
"but remember it not in triumph over a fallen foe. It were better
that all came at once to the chapel, to bestow their thanksgivings
where alone they are due."


After nearly a year's captivity, the King engaged to pay a ransom,
and, until the terms could be arranged, his two sons were to be
placed as hostages in the hands of the Normans, whilst he returned to
his own domains. The Princes were to be sent to Bayeux; whither
Richard had returned, under the charge of the Centevilles, and was
now allowed to ride and walk abroad freely, provided he was
accompanied by a guard.

"I shall rejoice to have Carloman, and make him happy," said Richard;
"but I wish Lothaire were not coming."

"Perhaps," said good Father Lucas, "he comes that you may have a
first trial in your father's last lesson, and Abbot Martin's, and
return good for evil."

The Duke's cheek flushed, and he made no answer.

He and Alberic betook themselves to the watch-tower, and, by and by,
saw a cavalcade approaching, with a curtained vehicle in the midst,
slung between two horses. "That cannot be the Princes," said
Alberic; "that must surely be some sick lady."

"I only hope it is not the Queen," exclaimed Richard, in dismay.
"But no; Lothaire is such a coward, no doubt he was afraid to ride,
and she would not trust her darling without shutting him up like a
demoiselle. But come down, Alberic; I will say nothing unkind of
Lothaire, if I can help it."

Richard met the Princes in the court, his sunny hair uncovered, and
bowing with such becoming courtesy, that Fru Astrida pressed her
son's arm, and bade him say if their little Duke was not the fairest
and noblest child in Christendom.

With black looks, Lothaire stepped from the litter, took no heed of
the little Duke, but, roughly calling his attendant, Charlot, to
follow him, he marched into the hall, vouchsafing neither word nor
look to any as he passed, threw himself into the highest seat, and
ordered Charlot to bring him some wine.

Meanwhile, Richard, looking into the litter, saw Carloman crouching
in a corner, sobbing with fright.

"Carloman!--dear Carloman!--do not cry. Come out! It is I--your own
Richard! Will you not let me welcome you?"

Carloman looked, caught at the outstretched hand, and clung to his

"Oh, Richard, send us back! Do not let the savage Danes kill us!"

"No one will hurt you. There are no Danes here. You are my guest,
my friend, my brother. Look up! here is my own Fru Astrida."

"But my mother said the Northmen would kill us for keeping you
captive. She wept and raved, and the cruel men dragged us away by
force. Oh, let us go back!"

"I cannot do that," said Richard; "for you are the King of Denmark's
captives, not mine; but I will love you, and you shall have all that
is mine, if you will only not cry, dear Carloman. Oh, Fru Astrida,
what shall I do? You comfort him--" as the poor boy clung sobbing to

Fru Astrida advanced to take his hand, speaking in a soothing voice,
but he shrank and started with a fresh cry of terror--her tall
figure, high cap, and wrinkled face, were to him witch-like, and as
she knew no French, he understood not her kind words. However, he
let Richard lead him into the hall, where Lothaire sat moodily in the
chair, with one leg tucked under him, and his finger in his mouth.

"I say, Sir Duke," said he, "is there nothing to be had in this old
den of yours? Not a drop of Bordeaux?"

Richard tried to repress his anger at this very uncivil way of
speaking, and answered, that he thought there was none, but there was
plenty of Norman cider.

"As if I would taste your mean peasant drinks! I bade them bring my
supper--why does it not come?"

"Because you are not master here," trembled on Richard's lips, but he
forced it back, and answered that it would soon be ready, and
Carloman looked imploringly at his brother, and said, "Do not make
them angry, Lothaire."

"What, crying still, foolish child?" said Lothaire. "Do you not know
that if they dare to cross us, my father will treat them as they
deserve? Bring supper, I say, and let me have a pasty of ortolans."

"There are none--they are not in season," said Richard.

"Do you mean to give me nothing I like? I tell you it shall be the
worse for you."

"There is a pullet roasting," began Richard.

"I tell you, I do not care for pullets--I will have ortolans."

"If I do not take order with that boy, my name is not Eric," muttered
the Baron.

"What must he not have made our poor child suffer!" returned Fru
Astrida, "but the little one moves my heart. How small and weakly he
is, but it is worth anything to see our little Duke so tender to

"He is too brave not to be gentle," said Osmond; and, indeed, the
high-spirited, impetuous boy was as soft and kind as a maiden, with
that feeble, timid child. He coaxed him to eat, consoled him, and,
instead of laughing at his fears, kept between him and the great
bloodhound Hardigras, and drove it off when it came too near.

"Take that dog away," said Lothaire, imperiously. No one moved to
obey him, and the dog, in seeking for scraps, again came towards him.

"Take it away," he repeated, and struck it with his foot. The dog
growled, and Richard started up in indignation.

"Prince Lothaire," he said, "I care not what else you do, but my dogs
and my people you shall not maltreat."

"I tell you I am Prince! I do what I will! Ha! who laughs there?"
cried the passionate boy, stamping on the floor.

"It is not so easy for French Princes to scourge free-born Normans
here," said the rough voice of Walter the huntsman: "there is a
reckoning for the stripe my Lord Duke bore for me."

"Hush, hush, Walter," began Richard; but Lothaire had caught up a
footstool, and was aiming it at the huntsman, when his arm was

Osmond, who knew him well enough to be prepared for such outbreaks,
held him fast by both hands, in spite of his passionate screams and
struggles, which were like those of one frantic.

Sir Eric, meanwhile, thundered forth in his Norman patois, "I would
have you to know, young Sir, Prince though you be, you are our
prisoner, and shall taste of a dungeon, and bread and water, unless
you behave yourself."

Either Lothaire did not hear, or did not believe, and fought more
furiously in Osmond's arms, but he had little chance with the
stalwart young warrior, and, in spite of Richard's remonstrances, he
was carried from the hall, roaring and kicking, and locked up alone
in an empty room.

"Let him alone for the present," said Sir Eric, putting the Duke
aside, "when he knows his master, we shall have peace."

Here Richard had to turn, to reassure Carloman, who had taken refuge
in a dark corner, and there shook like an aspen leaf, crying
bitterly, and starting with fright, when Richard touched him.

"Oh, do not put me in the dungeon. I cannot bear the dark."

Richard again tried to comfort him, but he did not seem to hear or
heed. "Oh! they said you would beat and hurt us for what we did to
you! but, indeed, it was not I that burnt your cheek!"

"We would not hurt you for worlds, dear Carloman; Lothaire is not in
the dungeon--he is only shut up till he is good."

"It was Lothaire that did it," repeated Carloman, "and, indeed, you
must not be angry with me, for my mother was so cross with me for not
having stopped Osmond when I met him with the bundle of straw, that
she gave me a blow, that knocked me down. And were you really there,

Richard told his story, and was glad to find Carloman could smile at
it; and then Fru Astrida advised him to take his little friend to
bed. Carloman would not lie down without still holding Richard's
hand, and the little Duke spared no pains to set him at rest, knowing
what it was to be a desolate captive far from home.

"I thought you would be good to me," said Carloman. "As to Lothaire,
it serves him right, that you should use him as he used you."

"Oh, no, Carloman; if I had a brother I would never speak so of him."

"But Lothaire is so unkind."

"Ah! but we must be kind to those who are unkind to us."

The child rose on his elbow, and looked into Richard's face. "No one
ever told me so before."

"Oh, Carloman, not Brother Hilary?"

"I never heed Brother Hilary--he is so lengthy, and wearisome;
besides, no one is ever kind to those that hate them."

"My father was," said Richard.

"And they killed him!" said Carloman.

"Yes," said Richard, crossing himself, "but he is gone to be in

"I wonder if it is happier there, than here," said Carloman. "I am
not happy. But tell me why should we be good to those that hate us?"

"Because the holy Saints were--and look at the Crucifix, Carloman.
That was for them that hated Him. And, don't you know what our Pater
Noster says?"

Poor little Carloman could only repeat the Lord's Prayer in Latin--he
had not the least notion of its meaning--in which Richard had been
carefully instructed by Father Lucas. He began to explain it, but
before many words had passed his lips, little Carloman was asleep.

The Duke crept softly away to beg to be allowed to go to Lothaire; he
entered the room, already dark, with a pine torch in his hand, that
so flickered in the wind, that he could at first see nothing, but
presently beheld a dark lump on the floor.

"Prince Lothaire," he said, "here is--"

Lothaire cut him short. "Get away," he said. "If it is your turn
now, it will be mine by and by. I wish my mother had kept her word,
and put your eyes out."

Richard's temper did not serve for such a reply. "It is a foul shame
of you to speak so, when I only came out of kindness to you--so I
shall leave you here all night, and not ask Sir Eric to let you out."

And he swung back the heavy door with a resounding clang. But his
heart smote him when he told his beads, and remembered what he had
said to Carloman. He knew he could not sleep in his warm bed when
Lothaire was in that cold gusty room. To be sure, Sir Eric said it
would do him good, but Sir Eric little knew how tender the French
Princes were.

So Richard crept down in the dark, slid back the bolt, and called,
"Prince, Prince, I am sorry I was angry. Come out, and let us try to
be friends."

"What do you mean?" said Lothaire.

"Come out of the cold and dark. Here am I. I will show you the way.
Where is your hand? Oh, how cold it is. Let me lead you down to the
hall fire."

Lothaire was subdued by fright, cold, and darkness, and quietly
allowed Richard to lead him down. Round the fire, at the lower end
of the hall, snored half-a-dozen men-at-arms; at the upper hearth
there was only Hardigras, who raised his head as the boys came in.
Richard's whisper and soft pat quieted him instantly, and the two
little Princes sat on the hearth together, Lothaire surprised, but
sullen. Richard stirred the embers, so as to bring out more heat,
then spoke: "Prince, will you let us be friends?"

"I must, if I am in your power."

"I wish you would be my guest and comrade."

"Well, I will; I can't help it."

Richard thought his advances might have been more graciously met,
and, having little encouragement to say more, took Lothaire to bed,
as soon as he was warm.


As the Baron had said, there was more peace now that Lothaire had
learnt to know that he must submit, and that no one cared for his
threats of his father's or his mother's vengeance. He was very sulky
and disagreeable, and severely tried Richard's forbearance; but there
were no fresh outbursts, and, on the whole, from one week to another,
there might be said to be an improvement. He could not always hold
aloof from one so good-natured and good-humoured as the little Duke;
and the fact of being kept in order could not but have some
beneficial effect on him, after such spoiling as his had been at

Indeed, Osmond was once heard to say, it was a pity the boy was not
to be a hostage for life; to which Sir Eric replied, "So long as we
have not the training of him."

Little Carloman, meanwhile, recovered from his fears of all the
inmates of the Castle excepting Hardigras, at whose approach he
always shrank and trembled.

He renewed his friendship with Osmond, no longer started at the
entrance of Sir Eric, laughed at Alberic's merry ways, and liked to
sit on Fru Astrida's lap, and hear her sing, though he understood not
one word; but his especial love was still for his first friend, Duke
Richard. Hand-in-hand they went about together, Richard sometimes
lifting him up the steep steps, and, out of consideration for him,
refraining from rough play; and Richard led him to join with him in
those lessons that Father Lucas gave the children of the Castle,
every Friday and Sunday evening in the Chapel. The good Priest stood
on the Altar steps, with the children in a half circle round him--the
son and daughter of the armourer, the huntsman's little son, the
young Baron de Montemar, the Duke of Normandy, and the Prince of
France, all were equal there--and together they learnt, as he
explained to them the things most needful to believe; and thus
Carloman left off wondering why Richard thought it right to be good
to his enemies; and though at first he had known less than even the
little leather-coated huntsman, he seemed to take the holy lessons in
faster than any of them--yes, and act on them, too. His feeble
health seemed to make him enter into their comfort and meaning more
than even Richard; and Alberic and Father Lucas soon told Fru Astrida
that it was a saintly-minded child.

Indeed, Carloman was more disposed to thoughtfulness, because he was
incapable of joining in the sports of the other boys. A race round
the court was beyond his strength, the fresh wind on the battlements
made him shiver and cower, and loud shouting play was dreadful to
him. In old times, he used to cry when Lothaire told him he must
have his hair cut, and be a priest; now, he only said quietly, he

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