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“Either he must take ship,” said a third, “and look for adventures elsewhere, or I must.”
Martin Lightfoot heard those words; and knowing that envy and hatred, like all other vices in those rough-hewn times, were apt to take very startling unmistakable shapes, kept his eye accordingly on those three knights.
“He must be knighted— he shall be knighted, as soon as Sir Gilbert comes home,” said all the ladies in chorus.
“I should be sorry to think,” said Hereward, with the blundering mock humility of a conceited boy, “that I had done anything worthy of such an honor. I hope to win my spurs by greater feats than these.”
A burst of laughter from the knights and gentlemen followed.
“How loud the young cockerel crows after his first scuffle!”
“Hark to him! What will he do next? Eat a dragon ? Fly to the moon? Marry the Sophy of Egypt's daughter?”
This last touched Hereward to the quick, for it was just what he thought of doing; and his blood was heated enough already, as some one cried, with the evident intent of picking a quarrel :
“That was meant for us. If the man who killed the bear has not deserved knighthood, what must we have deserved, who have not killed him? You understand his meaning, gentlemen — do not forget it !”
Hereward looked down, and setting his foot on the bear's head, wrenched out of it the sword, which he had left till now, with pardonable pride, fast set in the skull.
Martin Lightfoot, for his part, drew stealthily from his bosom the little magic ax, keeping his eye on the brain-pan of the last speaker.
The lady of the house cried “Shame!” and ordered the knights away with haughty words and gestures, which, be
cause they were so well deserved, only made the quarrel more deadly.
Then she commanded Hereward to sheathe his sword. He did so; and turning to the knights, said with all courtesy, “You mistake me, sirs. You were where brave knights should be, within the beleaguered fortress, defending the ladies. Had you remained outside, and been eaten by the bear, what must have befallen them had he burst open the door? As for this little lass, whom you left outside, she is too young to requite knight's prowess by lady's love; and therefore beneath your attention, and only fit for the care of a boy like me.” And taking up Alftruda in his arms, he carried her in and disappeared.
Who now but Hereward was in all men's mouths? The minstrels made ballads on him; the lasses sang his praises (says the chronicler) as they danced upon the green. Gilbert's lady would need give him the seat, and all the honors of a belted knight, though knight he was none. And daily and weekly the valiant lad grew and hardened into a valiant man, and a courteous one withal, giving no offense himself, and not over ready to take offense at other men.
Study the spelling and meaning of these words :
stealthily Why did Hereward want to kill the white bear? How had the bear shown his strength before Hereward came? After he strikes the bear, how does he realize the animal's size? Criticize the action of the knights in regard to the boy's valiant deed. Is Kingsley's picture of a knight the usual one? How does the author secure suspense in this story? What is the climax? Outline each point leading to the climax.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ORAL AND WRITTEN ENGLISH
THEME SUBJECTS Relate Hereward's adventure as if you had been present. Relate the adventure as if you were Hereward himself. Select one of the theme subjects suggested below. Decide what you consider the most exciting point, i.e. the climax, and try to “work up” your hearers' interest to that point. Write an incident and stop short of the climax, letting the class suggest what it shall be, and how it shall end. A Rescue.
How the Bear Fights. How I Tamed a Wild Animal. The Best and Worst Way to “Get When I was Most Terrified.
Even.” A Brave Deed.
The Best Captain for a Football How I Got my Nickname.
Team. When the Bear Escaped.
A Friend in Need.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL READINGS
Hereward the Wake. Charles Kingsley.
THE PARTING OF MARMION AND DOUGLAS
SIR WALTER Scott
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was born in Edinburgh. On account of lameness, he could not run and play with other boys; so gathering them about him, he recited stories from the Scottish ballads in Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. He was educated for the profession of law, but adopted that of letters. In addition to history and poetry, he wrote twenty-nine novels, all of which show the love of romance which had been fostered by his reading when a boy. At the age of fifty-four, when a publishing firm with which he was connected failed, he honorably set himself to work to pay the debts. He nearly achieved the heroic task, but died from the long strain of unremitting toil.
The poem Marmion, from which this selection was taken, was published in 1808. The Lay of the Last Minstrel, The Lady of the Lake, and Marmion form his best poetic works. See also:
Halleck's New English Literature, pp. 374-398, 444, 445.
[At the period of this story, the relations between England and Scotland were strained. Marmion has been sent by the king of England, Henry VIII, as envoy to the court of Scotland to complain of the depredations of the Scotch on the border between the two countries, and to warn James II not to interfere with Henry's continental affairs. Douglas at the command of his sovereign has been Marmion's host during his stay in Scotland. This particular incident begins with the departure of Marmion from Douglas's castle. The poem, Marmion, ends with the battle of Flodden Field (1513), one of the greatest disasters in Scotch history, for the English completely routed the Scotch, slaying their king and almost exterminating their nobility.)
The train from out the castle drew,
“Though something I might plain,” he said, “Of cold respect to stranger guest, Sent hither by your king's behest,
While in Tantallon's towers I stayed;
Burned Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire,
And — “This to me!” he said, -
To cleave the Douglas head!
Even in thy pitch of pride,
I tell thee, thou’rt defied !