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Famous Stories

Casabianca
There was a great battle at sea. One could hear nothing but...

Maximilian And The Goose Boy
One summer day King Max-i-mil'ian of Ba-va'ri-a was walking...

The Ungrateful Guest
Among the soldiers of King Philip there was a poor man who ...

The Black Douglas
In Scotland, in the time of King Robert Bruce, there lived ...

The Ungrateful Soldier
Here is another story of the bat-tle-field, and it is much ...

The Story Of Regulus
On the other side of the sea from Rome there was once a gre...

King Alfred And The Beggar
At one time the Danes drove King Alfred from his kingdom, a...

Arnold Winkelried
A great army was marching into Swit-zer-land. If it should ...

Horatius At The Bridge
Once there was a war between the Roman people and the E-tru...

Mignon
Here is the story of Mignon as I remember having read it in...

King Canute On The Seashore
A hundred years or more after the time of Alfred the Great ...

The King And His Hawk
Gen'ghis Khan was a great king and war-rior. He led his ...

The Bell Of Atri
A-tri is the name of a little town in It-a-ly. It is a very...

A Story Of Robin Hood
In the rude days of King Rich-ard and King John there were ...

The Inchcape Rock
In the North Sea there is a great rock called the Inch-cape...

The Blind Men And The Elephant
There were once six blind men who stood by the road-side ev...

The Story Of Cincinnatus
There was a man named Cin-cin-na'tus who lived on a little ...

Alexander And Bucephalus
One day King Philip bought a fine horse called Bu-ceph'a-lu...

Sir Humphrey Gilbert
More than three hundred years ago there lived in England a ...

The White Ship
King Henry, the Handsome Scholar, had one son, named Willia...



THE SONS OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR








There was once a great king of England who was called Wil-liam the
Con-quer-or, and he had three sons.



One day King Wil-liam seemed to be thinking of something that made him
feel very sad; and the wise men who were about him asked him what
was the matter.

"I am thinking," he said, "of what my sons may do after I am dead.
For, unless they are wise and strong, they cannot keep the kingdom
which I have won for them. Indeed, I am at a loss to know which one of
the three ought to be the king when I am gone."

"O king!" said the wise men, "if we only knew what things your sons
admire the most, we might then be able to tell what kind of men they
will be. Perhaps, by asking each one of them a few ques-tions, we can
find out which one of them will be best fitted to rule in your place."

"The plan is well worth trying, at least," said the king. "Have the
boys come before you, and then ask them what you please."

The wise men talked with one another for a little while, and then
agreed that the young princes should be brought in, one at a time, and
that the same ques-tions should be put to each.

The first who came into the room was Robert. He was a tall, willful
lad, and was nick-named Short Stocking.

"Fair sir," said one of the men, "answer me this question: If, instead
of being a boy, it had pleased God that you should be a bird, what
kind of a bird would you rather be?"

"A hawk," answered Robert. "I would rather be a hawk, for no other
bird reminds one so much of a bold and gallant knight."

The next who came was young William, his father's name-sake and pet.
His face was jolly and round, and because he had red hair he was
nicknamed Rufus, or the Red.

"Fair sir," said the wise man, "answer me this question: If, instead
of being a boy, it had pleased God that you should be a bird, what
kind of a bird would you rather be?"

"An eagle," answered William. "I would rather be an eagle, because it
is strong and brave. It is feared by all other birds, and is
there-fore the king of them all."

Lastly came the youngest brother, Henry, with quiet steps and a sober,
thought-ful look. He had been taught to read and write, and for that
reason he was nick-named Beau-clerc, or the Hand-some Schol-ar.

"Fair sir," said the wise man, "answer me this question: If, instead
of being a boy, it had pleased God that you should be a bird, what
kind of a bird would you rather be?"

"A star-ling," said Henry. "I would rather be a star-ling, because it
is good-mannered and kind and a joy to every one who sees it, and it
never tries to rob or abuse its neigh-bor."

Then the wise men talked with one another for a little while, and when
they had agreed among themselves, they spoke to the king.

"We find," said they, "that your eldest son, Robert, will be bold and
gallant. He will do some great deeds, and make a name for himself; but
in the end he will be over-come by his foes, and will die in prison.

"The second son, William, will be as brave and strong as the eagle;
but he will be feared and hated for his cruel deeds. He will lead a
wicked life, and will die a shameful death.

"The youngest son, Henry, will be wise and prudent and peaceful. He
will go to war only when he is forced to do so by his enemies. He will
be loved at home, and re-spect-ed abroad; and he will die in peace
after having gained great pos-ses-sions."

Years passed by, and the three boys had grown up to be men. King
William lay upon his death-bed, and again he thought of what would
become of his sons when he was gone. Then he re-mem-bered what the
wise men had told him; and so he de-clared that Robert should have the
lands which he held in France, that William should be the King of
England, and that Henry should have no land at all, but only a chest
of gold.

So it hap-pened in the end very much as the wise men had fore-told.
Robert, the Short Stocking, was bold and reckless, like the hawk which
he so much admired. He lost all the lands that his father had left
him, and was at last shut up in prison, where he was kept until he
died.

William Rufus was so over-bear-ing and cruel that he was feared and
hated by all his people. He led a wicked life, and was killed by one
of his own men while hunting in the forest.

And Henry, the Handsome Scholar, had not only the chest of gold for
his own, but he became by and by the King of England and the ruler of
all the lands that his father had had in France.





Next: THE WHITE SHIP

Previous: KING CANUTE ON THE SEASHORE



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