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The Little Duke by Charlotte M. Yonge

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should like it very much, if he could be good enough.

Fru Astrida sighed and shook her head, and feared the poor child
would never grow up to be anything on this earth. Great as had been
the difference at first between him and Richard, it was now far
greater. Richard was an unusually strong boy for ten years old,
upright and broad-chested, and growing very fast; while Carloman
seemed to dwindle, stooped forward from weakness, had thin pinched
features, and sallow cheeks, looking like a plant kept in the dark.

The old Baron said that hardy, healthy habits would restore the puny
children; and Lothaire improved in health, and therewith in temper;
but his little brother had not strength enough to bear the seasoning.
He pined and drooped more each day; and as the autumn came on, and
the wind was chilly, he grew worse, and was scarcely ever off the lap
of the kind Lady Astrida. It was not a settled sickness, but he grew
weaker, and wasted away. They made up a little couch for him by the
fire, with the high settle between it and the door, to keep off the
draughts; and there he used patiently to lie, hour after hour,
speaking feebly, or smiling and seeming pleased, when any one of
those he loved approached. He liked Father Lucas to come and say
prayers with him; and he never failed to have a glad look, when his
dear little Duke came to talk to him, in his cheerful voice, about
his rides and his hunting and hawking adventures. Richard's sick
guest took up much of his thoughts, and he never willingly spent many
hours at a distance from him, softening his step and lowering his
voice, as he entered the hall, lest Carloman should be asleep.

"Richard, is it you?" said the little boy, as the young figure came
round the settle in the darkening twilight.

"Yes. How do you feel now, Carloman; are you better?"

"No better, thanks, dear Richard;" and the little wasted fingers were
put into his.

"Has the pain come again?"

"No; I have been lying still, musing; Richard, I shall never be

"Oh, do not say so! You will, indeed you will, when spring comes."

"I feel as if I should die," said the little boy; "I think I shall.
But do not grieve, Richard. I do not feel much afraid. You said it
was happier there than here, and I know it now."

"Where my blessed father is," said Richard, thoughtfully. "But oh,
Carloman, you are so young to die!"

"I do not want to live. This is a fighting, hard world, full of
cruel people; and it is peace there. You are strong and brave, and
will make them better; but I am weak and fearful--I could only sigh
and grieve."

"Oh, Carloman! Carloman! I cannot spare you. I love you like my
own brother. You must not die--you must live to see your father and
mother again!"

"Commend me to them," said Carloman. "I am going to my Father in
heaven. I am glad I am here, Richard; I never was so happy before.
I should have been afraid indeed to die, if Father Lucas had not
taught me how my sins are pardoned. Now, I think the Saints and
Angels are waiting for me."

He spoke feebly, and his last words faltered into sleep. He slept
on; and when supper was brought, and the lamps were lighted, Fru
Astrida thought the little face looked unusually pale and waxen; but
he did not awake. At night, they carried him to his bed, and he was
roused into a half conscious state, moaning at being disturbed. Fru
Astrida would not leave him, and Father Lucas shared her watch.

At midnight, all were wakened by the slow notes, falling one by one
on the ear, of the solemn passing-bell, calling them to waken, that
their prayers might speed a soul on its way. Richard and Lothaire
were soon at the bedside. Carloman lay still asleep, his hands
folded on his breast, but his breath came in long gasps. Father
Lucas was praying over him, and candles were placed on each side of
the bed. All was still, the boys not daring to speak or move. There
came a longer breath--then they heard no more. He was, indeed, gone
to a happier home--a truer royalty than ever had been his on earth.

Then the boys' grief burst out. Lothaire screamed for his mother,
and sobbed out that he should die too--he must go home. Richard
stood by the bed, large silent tears rolling down his cheeks, and his
chest heaving with suppressed sobs.

Fru Astrida led them from the room, back to their beds. Lothaire
soon cried himself to sleep. Richard lay awake, sorrowful, and in
deep thought; while that scene in St. Mary's, at Rouen, returned
before his eyes, and though it had passed nearly two years ago, its
meaning and its teaching had sunk deep into his mind, and now stood
before him more completely.

"Where shall I go, when I come to die, if I have not returned good
for evil?" And a resolution was taken in the mind of the little

Morning came, and brought back the sense that his gentle little
companion was gone from him; and Richard wept again, as if he could
not be consoled, as he beheld the screened couch where the patient
smile would never again greet him. He now knew that he had loved
Carloman all the more for his weakness and helplessness; but his
grief was not like Lothaire's, for with the Prince's was still joined
a selfish fear: his cry was still, that he should die too, if not
set free, and violent weeping really made him heavy and ill.

The little corpse, embalmed and lapped in lead, was to be sent back
to France, that it might rest with its forefathers in the city of
Rheims; and Lothaire seemed to feel this as an additional stroke of
desertion. He was almost beside himself with despair, imploring
every one, in turn, to send him home, though he well knew they were
unable to do so.


"Sir Eric," said Richard, "you told me there was a Parlement to be
held at Falaise, between Count Bernard and the King of Denmark. I
mean to attend it. Will you come with me, or shall Osmond go, and
you remain in charge of the Prince?"

"How now, Lord Richard, you were not wont to love a Parlement?"

"I have something to say," replied Richard. The Baron made no
objection, only telling his mother that the Duke was a marvellous
wise child, and that he would soon be fit to take the government

Lothaire lamented the more when he found that Richard was going away;
his presence seemed to him a protection, and he fancied, now Carloman
was dead, that his former injuries were about to be revenged. The
Duke assured him, repeatedly, that he meant him nothing but kindness,
adding, "When I return, you will see, Lothaire;" then, commending him
to the care and kindness of Fru Astrida, Osmond, and Alberic, Richard
set forth upon his pony, attended by Sir Eric and three men-at-arms.

Richard felt sad when he looked back at Bayeux, and thought that it
no longer contained his dear little friend; but it was a fresh bright
frosty morning, the fields were covered with a silvery-white coating,
the flakes of hoar-frost sparkled on every bush, and the hard ground
rung cheerily to the tread of the horses' feet. As the yellow sun
fought his way through the grey mists that dimmed his brightness, and
shone out merrily in the blue heights of the sky, Richard's spirits
rose, and he laughed and shouted, as hare or rabbit rushed across the
heath, or as the plover rose screaming above his head, flapping her
broad wings across the wintry sky.

One night they slept at a Convent, where they heard that Hugh of
Paris had passed on to join the conference at Falaise. The next day
they rode on, and, towards the afternoon, the Baron pointed to a
sharp rocky range of hills, crowned by a tall solid tower, and told
Richard, yonder was his keep of Falaise, the strongest Castle in

The country was far more broken as they advanced--narrow valleys and
sharp hills, each little vale full of wood, and interspersed with
rocks. "A choice place for game," Sir Eric said and Richard, as he
saw a herd of deer dash down a forest glade, exclaimed, "that they
must come here to stay, for some autumn sport."

There seemed to be huntsmen abroad in the woods; for through the
frosty air came the baying of dogs, the shouts and calls of men, and,
now and then, the echoing, ringing notes of a bugle. Richard's eyes
and cheeks glowed with excitement, and he pushed his brisk little
pony on faster and faster, unheeding that the heavier men and horses
of his suite were not keeping pace with him on the rough ground and
through the tangled boughs.

Presently, a strange sound of growling and snarling was heard close
at hand: his pony swerved aside, and could not be made to advance;
so Richard, dismounting, dashed through some briars, and there, on an
open space, beneath a precipice of dark ivy-covered rock, that rose
like a wall, he beheld a huge grey wolf and a large dog in mortal
combat. It was as if they had fallen or rolled down the precipice
together, not heeding it in their fury. Both were bleeding, and the
eyes of both glared like red fiery glass in the dark shadow of the
rock. The dog lay undermost, almost overpowered, making but a feeble
resistance; and the wolf would, in another moment, be at liberty to
spring on the lonely child.

But not a thought of fear passed through his breast; to save the dog
was Richard's only idea. In one moment he had drawn the dagger he
wore at his girdle, ran to the two struggling animals, and with all
his force, plunged it into the throat of the wolf, which, happily,
was still held by the teeth of the hound.

The struggles relaxed, the wolf rolled heavily aside, dead; the dog
lay panting and bleeding, and Richard feared he was cruelly torn.
"Poor fellow! noble dog! what shall I do to help you?" and he gently
smoothed the dark brindled head.

A voice was now heard shouting aloud, at which the dog raised and
crested his head, as a figure in a hunting dress was coming down a
rocky pathway, an extremely tall, well-made man, of noble features.
"Ha! holla! Vige! Vige! How now, my brave hound?" he said in the
Northern tongue, though not quite with the accent Richard was
accustomed to hear "Art hurt?"

"Much torn, I fear," Richard called out, as the faithful creature
wagged his tail, and strove to rise and meet his master.

"Ha, lad! what art thou?" exclaimed the hunter, amazed at seeing the
boy between the dead wolf and wounded dog. "You look like one of
those Frenchified Norman gentilesse, with your smooth locks and
gilded baldrick, yet your words are Norse. By the hammer of Thor!
that is a dagger in the wolf's throat!"

"It is mine," said Richard. "I found your dog nearly spent, and I
made in to the rescue."

"You did? Well done! I would not have lost Vige for all the plunder
of Italy. I am beholden to you, my brave young lad," said the
stranger, all the time examining and caressing the hound. "What is
your name? You cannot be Southern bred?"

As he spoke, more shouts came near; and the Baron de Centeville
rushed through the trees holding Richard's pony by the bridle. "My
Lord, my Lord!--oh, thank Heaven, I see you safe!" At the same
moment a party of hunters also approached by the path, and at the
head of them Bernard the Dane.

"Ha!" exclaimed he, "what do I see? My young Lord! what brought you
here?" And with a hasty obeisance, Bernard took Richard's
outstretched hand.

"I came hither to attend your council," replied Richard. "I have a
boon to ask of the King of Denmark."

"Any boon the King of Denmark has in his power will be yours," said
the dog's master, slapping his hand on the little Duke's shoulder,
with a rude, hearty familiarity, that took him by surprise; and he
looked up with a shade of offence, till, on a sudden flash of
perception, he took off his cap, exclaiming, "King Harald himself!
Pardon me, Sir King!"

"Pardon, Jarl Richart! What would you have me pardon?--your saving
the life of Vige here? No French politeness for me. Tell me your
boon, and it is yours. Shall I take you a voyage, and harry the fat
monks of Ireland?"

Richard recoiled a little from his new friend.

"Oh, ha! I forgot. They have made a Christian of you--more's the
pity. You have the Northern spirit so strong. I had forgotten it.
Come, walk by my side, and let me hear what you would ask. Holla,
you Sweyn! carry Vige up to the Castle, and look to his wounds. Now
for it, young Jarl."

"My boon is, that you would set free Prince Lothaire."

"What?--the young Frank? Why they kept you captive, burnt your face,
and would have made an end of you but for your clever Bonder."

"That is long past, and Lothaire is so wretched. His brother is
dead, and he is sick with grief, and he says he shall die, if he does
not go home."

"A good thing too for the treacherous race to die out in him! What
should you care for him? he is your foe."

"I am a Christian," was Richard's answer.

"Well, I promised you whatever you might ask. All my share of his
ransom, or his person, bond or free, is yours. You have only to
prevail with your own Jarls and Bonders."

Richard feared this would be more difficult; but Abbot Martin came to
the meeting, and took his part. Moreover, the idea of their hostage
dying in their hands, so as to leave them without hold upon the King,
had much weight with them; and, after long deliberation, they
consented that Lothaire should be restored to his father, without
ransom but only on condition that Louis should guarantee to the Duke
the peaceable possession of the country, as far as St. Clair sur
Epte, which had been long in dispute; so that Alberic became,
indisputably, a vassal of Normandy.

Perhaps it was the happiest day in Richard's life when he rode back
to Bayeux, to desire Lothaire to prepare to come with him to St.
Clair, there to be given back into the hands of his father.

And then they met King Louis, grave and sorrowful for the loss of his
little Carloman, and, for the time, repenting of his misdeeds towards
the orphan heir of Normandy.

He pressed the Duke in his arms, and his kiss was a genuine one as he
said, "Duke Richard, we have not deserved this of you. I did not
treat you as you have treated my children. We will be true lord and
vassal from henceforth."

Lothaire's last words were, "Farewell, Richard. If I lived with you,
I might be good like you. I will never forget what you have done for

When Richard once more entered Rouen in state, his subjects shouting
round him in transports of joy, better than all his honour and glory
was the being able to enter the Church of our Lady, and kneel by his
father's grave, with a clear conscience, and the sense that he had
tried to keep that last injunction.


Years had passed away. The oaths of Louis, and promises of Lothaire,
had been broken; and Arnulf of Flanders, the murderer of Duke
William, had incited them to repeated and treacherous inroads on
Normandy; so that Richard's life, from fourteen to five or six-and-
twenty, had been one long war in defence of his country. But it had
been a glorious war for him, and his gallant deeds had well earned
for him the title of "Richard the Fearless"--a name well deserved;
for there was but one thing he feared, and that was, to do wrong.

By and by, success and peace came; and then Arnulf of Flanders,
finding open force would not destroy him, three times made attempts
to assassinate him, like his father, by treachery. But all these had
failed; and now Richard had enjoyed many years of peace and honour,
whilst his enemies had vanished from his sight.

King Louis was killed by a fall from his horse; Lothaire died in
early youth, and in him ended the degenerate line of Charlemagne;
Hugh Capet, the son of Richard's old friend, Hugh the White, was on
the throne of France, his sure ally and brother-in-law, looking to
him for advice and aid in all his undertakings.

Fru Astrida and Sir Eric had long been in their quiet graves; Osmond
and Alberic were among Richard's most trusty councillors and
warriors; Abbot Martin, in extreme old age, still ruled the Abbey of
Jumieges, where Richard, like his father, loved to visit him, hold
converse with him, and refresh himself in the peaceful cloister,
after the affairs of state and war.

And Richard himself was a grey-headed man, of lofty stature and
majestic bearing. His eldest son was older than he had been himself
when he became the little Duke, and he had even begun to remember his
father's project, of an old age to be spent in retirement and peace.

It was on a summer eve, that Duke Richard sat beside the white-
bearded old Abbot, within the porch, looking at the sun shining with
soft declining beams on the arches and columns. They spoke together
of that burial at Rouen, and of the silver key; the Abbot delighting
to tell, over and over again, all the good deeds and good sayings of
William Longsword.

As they sat, a man, also very old and shrivelled and bent, came up to
the cloister gate, with the tottering, feeble step of one pursued
beyond his strength, coming to take sanctuary.

"What can be the crime of one so aged and feeble?" said the Duke, in

At the sight of him, a look of terror shot from the old man's eye.
He clasped his hands together, and turned as if to flee; then,
finding himself incapable of escape, he threw himself on the ground
before him.

"Mercy, mercy! noble, most noble Duke!" was all he said.

"Rise up--kneel not to me. I cannot brook this from one who might be
my father," said Richard, trying to raise him; but at those words the
old man groaned and crouched lower still.

"Who art thou?" said the Duke. "In this holy place thou art secure,
be thy deed what it may. Speak!--who art thou?"

"Dost thou not know me?" said the suppliant. "Promise mercy, ere
thou dost hear my name."

"I have seen that face under a helmet," said the Duke. "Thou art
Arnulf of Flanders!"

There was a deep silence.

"And wherefore art thou here?"

"I delayed to own the French King Hugh. He has taken my towns and
ravaged my lands. Each Frenchman and each Norman vows to slay me, in
revenge for your wrongs, Lord Duke. I have been driven hither and
thither, in fear of my life, till I thought of the renown of Duke
Richard, not merely the most fearless, but the most merciful of
Princes. I sought to come hither, trusting that, when the holy
Father Abbot beheld my bitter repentance, he would intercede for me
with you, most noble Prince, for my safety and forgiveness. Oh,
gallant Duke, forgive and spare!"

"Rise up, Arnulf," said Richard. "Where the hand of the Lord hath
stricken, it is not for man to exact his own reckoning. My father's
death has been long forgiven, and what you may have planned against
myself has, by the blessing of Heaven, been brought to nought. From
Normans at least you are safe; and it shall be my work to ensure your
pardon from my brother the King. Come into the refectory: you need
refreshment. The Lord Abbot makes you welcome." {17}

Tears of gratitude and true repentance choked Arnulf's speech, and he
allowed himself to be raised from the ground, and was forced to
accept the support of the Duke's arm.

The venerable Abbot slowly rose, and held up his hand in an attitude
of blessing: "The blessing of a merciful God be upon the sinner who
turneth from his evil way; and ten thousand blessings of pardon and
peace are already on the head of him who hath stretched out his hand
to forgive and aid him who was once his most grievous foe!"


{1} Richard's place of education was Bayeaux; for, as Duke William
says in the rhymed Chronicle of Normandy, -

"Si a Roem le faz garder
E norir, gaires longement
Il ne saura parlier neiant
Daneis, kar nul n l'i parole.
Si voil qu'il seit a tele escole
Qu l'en le sache endoctriner
Que as Daneis sache parler.
Ci ne sevent riens fors Romanz
Mais a Baieux en a tanz
Qui ne sevent si Daneis non."

{2} Bernard was founder of the family of Harcourt of Nuneham.
Ferrieres, the ancestor of that of Ferrars.

{3} In the same Chronicle, William Longsword directs that, -

"Tant seit apris qu'il lise un bref
Kar ceo ne li ert pas trop gref."

{4} Hako of Norway was educated by Ethelstane of England. It was
Foulques le Bon, the contemporary Count of Anjou, who, when derided
by Louis IV. for serving in the choir of Tours, wrote the following
retort: "The Count of Anjou to the King of France. Apprenez,
Monseigneur, qu'un roi sans lettres est une ane couronne."

{5} The Banner of Normandy was a cross till William the Conqueror
adopted the lion.

{6} "Sire, soies mon escus, soies mes defendemens."
Histoire des Ducs de Normandie (MICHEL).

{7} The Cathedral was afterwards built by Richard himself.

{8} Sus le maistre autel del iglise
Li unt sa feaute juree.

{9} Une clef d'argent unt trovee
A sun braiol estreit noee.
Tout la gent se merveillont
Que cete clef signifiont.
* * * *
Ni la cuoule e l'estamine
En aveit il en un archete,
Que disfermeront ceste clavete
De sol itant ert tresorier
Kar nul tresor n'vait plus cher.

The history of the adventures of Jumieges is literally true, as is
Martin's refusal to admit the Duke to the cloister:-

Dun ne t'a Deus mis e pose
Prince gardain de sainte iglise
E cur tenir leial justise.

{10} An attack, in which Riouf, Vicomte du Cotentin, placed Normandy
in the utmost danger. He was defeated on the banks of the Seine, in
a field still called the "Pre de Battaille," on the very day of
Richard's birth; so that the Te Deum was sung at once for the victory
and the birth of the heir of Normandy.

{11} "Biaus Segnors, vees chi vo segneur, je ne le vous voel tolir,
mais je estoie venus en ceste ville, prendre consel a vous, comment
je poroie vengier la mort son pere, qui me rapiela d'Engletiere. Il
me fist roi, il me fist avoir l'amour le roi d'Alemaigne, il leva mon
fil de fons, il me fist toz les biens, et jou en renderai au fill le
guerredon se je puis."--MICHEL.

{12} In a battle fought with Lothaire at Charmenil, Richard saved
the life of Walter the huntsman, who had been with him from his

{13} At fourteen years of age, Richard was betrothed to Eumacette of
Paris, then but eight years old. In such esteem did Hugues la Blanc
hold his son-in-law, that, on his death-bed, he committed his son
Hugues Capet to his guardianship, though the Duke was then scarcely
above twenty, proposing him as the model of wisdom and of chivalry.

{14} "Osmons, qui l'enfant enseognoit l'eu mena i jour en riviere,
et quant il revint, la reine Gerberge dist que se il jamais
l'enmenait fors des murs, elle li ferait les jeix crever."--MICHEL.

{15} "Gules, two wings conjoined in lure, or," is the original coat
of St. Maur, or Seymour, said to be derived from Osmond de
Centeville, who assumed them in honour of his flight with Duke
Richard. His direct descendants in Normandy were the Marquises of
Osmond, whose arms were gules, two wings ermine. In 1789 there were
two survivors of the line of Centeville, one a Canon of Notre Dame,
the other a Chevalier de St. Louis, who died childless.

{16} Harald of Norway, who made a vow never to trim his hair till he
had made himself sole king of the country. The war lasted ten years,
and he thus might well come to deserve the title of Horrid-locks,
which was changed to that of Harfagre, or fair-haired, when he
celebrated his final victory, by going into a bath at More, and
committing his shaggy hair to be cut and arranged by his friend Jarl
Rognwald, father of Rollo.

{17} Richard obtained for Arnulf the restitution of Arras, and
several other Flemish towns. He died eight years afterwards, in 996,
leaving several children, among whom his daughter Emma is connected
with English history, by her marriage, first, with Ethelred the
Unready, and secondly, with Knute, the grandson of his firm friend
and ally, Harald Blue-tooth. His son was Richard, called the Good;
his grandson, Robert the Magnificent; his great-grandson, William the
Conqueror, who brought the Norman race to England. Few names in
history shine with so consistent a lustre as that of Richard; at
first the little Duke, afterwards Richard aux longues jambes, but
always Richard sans peur. This little sketch has only brought
forward the perils of his childhood, but his early manhood was
likewise full of adventures, in which he always proved himself brave,
honourable, pious, and forbearing. But for these our readers must
search for themselves into early French history, where all they will
find concerning our hero will only tend to exalt his character.

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