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“The miserable, pitiful Normans! Prate not to an Englishman of them or their fashions, or aught that they do."
Nay, but thou wilt find they are not to be despised, an it comes to another trial than that of appetites."
“Well, well, good father, I see thou art more than half a Norman, although thou dost look like a jolly good Englishman.”
“It is because I am an Englishman, and would fain see England rise to be the great nation she might be, that I desire to see thee and all men using greater temperance in this matter of eating and drinking,” said the mons seriously.
But Leofric only laughed. “Englishmen will learn nothing from any, except it be from their kinsmen the Danes. As for these Franks, and Normans, and men of Flanders--well, thou and thy fellow-monks may prate an ye will, but we will have nought to do with them,” said Leofric contemptuously.
Of course he was only giving voice to the opinion of his master in speaking so disdainfully of foreigners, but the opinion or prejudice was not by any means confined to Gurth. The popular opinion upon this inatter was very much the same; and left to themselves, the Englishmen, or Saxons as they may at this period be called, would have kept England out of the reach of civilization, or at least she would have been ages behind the neighbouring countries of Europe.
CHAPTER X.-NEWS FROM OXFORD. LEOFRIC was ill for several weeks, mainly owing to his restless impatience to get up, and rebellion against the doctor's orders; and during this time his sister nursed him with unwearied patience.
Leofric took this very much as a matter of course, at first, but one day, when he had been more than usually trying-refusing to eat or drink anything that Githa brought, and clamouring for double ale and a slice of boar's head, which had been specially forbidden by Father Alred-he suddenly turned to his sister and said, “Thou dost think I am little better than a boar myself; why dost thou not leave me and go to thy lady's bower p”
“Because thou dost need me here,” said Githa gently.
“But it cannot be pleasant for thee to stay here," said Leofric; “the lady Hilda's bower is the best room in the house, and her maidens are always happy and merry now, they say.”
“Yes, as thou sayest, there are no happier bower-maidens than the lady Hilda's. God hath been very good to us, Leofric,” Githa ventured to say.
“Well, I know not what God hath had do with the business, but 'tis certain thou hast a good mistress, and thou dost deserve it; and now thou hadet better go and enjoy thyself in her bower, and leave me.”
But Githa shook her head. “Thou wilt take no more of this good medicine an I leave thee,” she said, with a smile.
“ And what if I did not? What could it matter to thee if I died now? The lady Hilda would protect and befriend thee, and thou wouldst be far more comfortable in her bower than listening to my grumblings."
"Nay, nay, Leofric, I could not be happy away from thee now. I do not mind the grumbling, except as it doth make thee worse to get into a passion.”
The young man looked at his sister wonderingly. “It must be true, then, that thou dost love me, although thou dost seem unkind sometimes, Githa."
“Unkind! Would it be kind to give thee what would harm thee, because thou dost clamour for it?” said Githa. “Hast thou really doubted Githa's love, my brother?” she asked tenderly.
“I-I do not doubt it now,” he said evasively; "I have been little better than a wild boar, and thou hast been very patient, Githa, and never given me one angry word for all the ill names I have called thee. Yes, yes, I do believe thou lovest me now; but oh, if thou didst know how I have longed for a draught of our good ale, and how cruel it seemed to keep it from me, and—and
thou didst sometimes laugh, and seem so cheerful, as though thou didst not care for me.”
“But I did care a great deal,” said Githa, laughing again, in spite of herself. “Father Alred said thou wert doing well, and would do better if thou didst not fret aud fume; and he bid me be cheerful to cheer thee."
Leofric could smile himself now at his mistake, but still his wilfulness was not entirely conquered, and he often gave his sister a good deal of trouble, but he did not doubt her love, as he had done before.
His convalescence was the most wearisome time he had ever known. His wound was almost healed, but he was too weak to do more than crawl a few yards beyond the stockade and bask in the autumn sunshine. He was disappointed, too, that the campaign in Northumbria was over-or rather there had been no fighting at all; and Leofric wondered what the world was coming to, when men could miss such a fine opportunity for a battle, and choose to settle a dispute by appealing to reason and justice, instead of the bow and battle-axe. That was what these degenerate Northumbrians had done-appealed to the known justice of their oppressor's brother and ally; and earl Harold, although he had an army at his back, had listened to the rebels' complaint against his brother, saw that they had just cause for their murmurs, and settled the dispute without a blow being struck, although he gave mortal offence to his brother Tostig by doing so.
This was the news brought by the men of the earl's army who had returned home, many of them grumbling and dissatisfied because of their bootless errand.
But Leofric's young master had not come yet. He was staying with earl Harold at Oxford, and it was uncertain when he would return, which was no pleasant news to Leofric, who was heartily tired of an idle life.
It seemed that affairs of great moment were to be transacted at Oxford, for the King and all the members of the Witan were journeying thither, as well as the bishops and abbots, and the principal men of Wessex. Leofric half hoped that the old thane would have taken him with his retinue of carles and six-hand-men; but Godrith never thought of bidding his son's slave journey to his master when he could have holiday at home, and so with ill-concealed vexation and disappointment he saw the train depart.
Gurth was hardly less disappointed than Leofric himself when his father reached Oxford without his favourite henchman, and as soon as the principal business was settled he rode home with all speed to tell the news.
Leofric was the first to meet and welcome his master, and Gurth was 80 overjoyed to see him that, jumping off his horse, he embraced him as he would a brother, and then bade him follow him to his sister's bower, where he was going to tell the best news he ever had to relate.
All the household was astir with the tidings that their young master had arrived, and as many as dared pressed into the lady Hilda's bower, for that had grown to be the centre of the household—the meeting place for telling news and discussing family questions, as the servants well knew.
The tidings of her brother's arrival had scarcely reached Hilda when Gurth himself burst into the room, his favourite hawk on his wrist, and two or three dogs and half the household at his heels.
Such an invasion of her carefully rush-strewn floor would have made Hilda peevish and irritable at one time, but she had learned to consider others, until now she rather liked to see the house-carles come into her room to hear the family news.
So she greeted the whole turbulent party with a smile when they rushed into the room after Gurth, only bidding Leofric take care that his master's dogs did not fly at her maidens, and bidding the girls stop their spinning for awhile now that her brother had come.
“Why, Gurth, thou art as much a boy as ever,” she said, as her brother leaned over her couch, and kissed her again and again. She smoothed back the long golden hair that lay in clustering curls upon his shoulders, and looked into his merry blue eyes with such a world of content in her gaze, for she could see that her brother had thought no more of the anger in which they had parted, and she would not disturb him by referring to it just now.
“So, lady sister mine, thou dost think I am a boy again," said Gurth gaily, as he gazed at the heavy gold bracelets on his wrists, and the gonna which was his usual holiday attire, but which he had been too impatient to change for a plainer dress when he left Oxford. “Now what wilt thou give me for my news, lady sister ?—the best news England could hear, it is mine to tell.”
“Is it of earl Harold ?" asked Hilda, who shared in her brother's admiration of the great earl.
“ Yes, yes; he is to be crowned king of England !” exclaimed Gurth; and turning to the house-carles, he said, “Now shout for king Harold, true English. man and noble knight!"
They needed no second bidding to do this, and none shouted longer or louder than Leofric; but before it was over Hilda raised her face to her brother again.
Gurth, Gurth, what of king Edward p” she said.
“Oh, he is well,” said Gurth lightly; "that is, he is dying slowly, and will leave the throne for his noble successor in a few months.”
Hilda looked pained at this. "I cannot bear to hear thee talk of our saint. king in this heedless fashion, and to set the witless knaves shouting for earl Harold, as though he were already king, was no good thing to do,” she said.
“Nay, nay, be not angered, Hilda; but if thou knewest all-how earl Harold doth work for the good of England—thou wouldst not grudge him being king in name, as he hath long been in the hearts of all true Englishmen.”
Nay, nay, I grudge him not the honour of kingship, Gurth, but I would have thee more cautious how thou dost set about proclaiming the earl as king; for it will mightily displease king Edward an it cometh to his ears. But this choice of Harold is somewhat sudden, I trow. It was but a few weeks since thou didst tell us that the great earl and bishop Aldred were for securing the right of Edgar the Atheling."
“Yes, yes; and had he proved a proper little knave, and likely to make a king worthy the name, he would have been proclaimed by the Witan; but count William the Norman doth claim our English crown, and 'twere useless to set up a puppet like the Atheling against him. But who could find a better, truer, nobler man than Harold ? Even his foes say this; and not a churchman could say he ever burnt a convent, or took a hyde of abbey land. Nay, nay, the only quarrel our great earl hath with the church is, that too much money is spent in relics and such like rubbish, that might and ought to be expended in the defences of our coasts."
“But, Gurth, Edward is a good king,” said Hilda.
“He hath done little harm, I grant thee; but, Hilda, that is not enough in these days,” said Gurth.
“Not enough! To be good, not enough!" said Hilda.
“Well, well, I forgot I was talking to one who believes with the church, that their own soul is of such countless price that all others may be sacrificed for it;” and with this half-sneering remark Gurth was about to turn away, but his sister caught hold of his gonna and detained him.
“Gurth, thou art making a great mistake,” she said earnestly. “The church doth not teach us to be selfish, but to be tender and mindful of the good of others.”
“How canst thou say that, when she is always teaching that if men and women want to save their souls, they must leave the world and all their friends who do the work of the world, and retire to a convent? Thou, too, art like the rest; thou dost pine for the convent,” said Gurth fiercely.
“ But-but it was not because I desired to leave thee, but because the convent seemed the only place for a poor helpless woman like me."
This reference to her condition quite subdued her brother's anger, and he said in a gentler tone, " Thou art not helpless, Hilda; for if thou canst do little for thyself, thou doest much for others. Why, thou art the heart and soul of the household, and how could we spare thee to go to the convent ? It rouses my anger whenever I think of it.”
" Then do not think of it,” said his sister with a smile; "for I have promised to stay here as long as thou shalt need me.”
"To escape the first time thou hast a decent excuse for doing so," said Gurth, laughing.
“Nay, then, I promise this, to stay until thou dost bid me go to the convent,” said Hilda solemnly.
“Now thou art my own sister, and ever wilt be," said Gurth, kissing her fondly.” “I know I shall never bid thee go to the convent; but, Hilda, thou shalt learn some of the wisdom they teach there. I will get thee one of king Alfred's books—the Saxon scriptures, that thou mayest read to thy bower. maidens sometimes.”
“Oh, Gurth!" was all the lady could utter for some time, for it seemed that, if she could only possess such a costly treasure as this, the world could have nothing else to offer.
“There, we will say no more about quarrelling," interrupted Gurth; "thou shalt have the book, and enjoy thy opinion about king Edward; only thou must give me the same liberty of belief; and I believe that a man who works when he can, and prays when he can't, is better than a man who is always praying, but never lifts his finger to help with the work. The last is king Edward-thy saint-king. Well, he may be a saint, but he is not a man; and God hath made the world for men, I trow, and they must work an they would live.”
Hilda looked troubled, and somewhat puzzled how to answer her brother. King Edward was perfect, or nearer to perfection than any man on earth, and yet she heard every hour that it was the more practical and common-place earl that England needed; and how could she make her brother believe that the precious relics upon which the king lavished so much of the national wealth were a greater safeguard than stockades, and wooden forts, and ships to protect their island-home?
There was, however, one work of king Edward's in which his subjects took a warm interest, and that was the building of the West-Minster in the isle of Thorney, just beyond the village of Charing. This building, which had occupied years, and for which many foreign workmen belonging to the order of Masons had been brought over to direct the more ignorant native workmen, was fast approaching completion, and it was to be consecrated at Yule-tide in mid-winter; and Godrith, to please earl Harold, resolved to take his family to Charing before-hand, that they might be present at the festival, which occupied so much of the king's thought and attention.
Earl Harold was about to be married to the daughter of his family foe, Leofric of Mercia, that the old feud might be healed, and England ruled as one nation. This had been settled at Oxford; but the news did not please Gurth, and so it was not until the old thane returned that Hilda heard this interesting item of intelligence.
“Why didst thou not tell me of earl Harold and the lady Aldytha P" she said to her brother, when he came into her bower one morning.
Gurth shrugged his shoulders with something like vexation. “Earl Harold hath no right to do this thing," he said; "he could give his time and labour for our merrie England, but he hath no right to give himself, as he hath done, in taking Aldytha to be the lady of England instead of the lady Edith, to whom he hath long been betrothed.”
“But-but it may be"
“Nay, Hilda, we will not talk of this. I am vexed. I hold that the earl is wrong; but I would not hear another say this. Now tell me, art thou pleased that my father will carry us all to this Thorney minster at Yule-tide ?"
Pleased,” exclaimed Hilda; “how canst thou ask me, when I have so often longed to go to church that I have often shed tears when I heard the bells ringing; and now, to think I am to see the great minster, the glory of England, for my father saith my litter shall be carried in, and set down in some quiet corner, where I may see the king and the bishops and the great altar ? Oh, Gurth, it will be almost like heaven,” said Hilda, in an excited whisper.
Gurth nodded ; but, truth to tell, he was looking forward to the feasting and carousing rather than the religious part of the ceremony; and speaking of this to Leofric afterwards, they agreed that women were religious dreamers, quite unfit for the every-day work of the world.
Compartment 1. For the young people.
Answers to questions of last month :-(16) Caleb belonged to the tribe of Judah ; Joshua to that of Ephraim-Numb. xiii. 6, 8. (17) At Bethel-1 Kings xiii. 30, 31 ; 2 Kings xxiii. 15, 17, 18. (18) John, apparently a member of the Sanhedrim, or chief council of the Jews-Acts iv. 6. John, the apostle, was brought before him. The abstemious preacher was John the Baptist-Matt. iii. 4. The cowardly minister was John Mark-Acts xv. 37, 38.
New Questions :-(19) Who gave the timber for the building of the second temple, and whence was it obtained ?
(20) What was the last question the apostles asked our Lord while He was upon the earth ?
(21) Who published a decree that “every man should bear rule in his own house”? Compartment II. For the general reader.
What the meaning of 1 Cor. xi. _“For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels"?—EDITA.
THE EARLY DAYS OF HANS SACHS.Many friends will be interested in knowing that the paper with this title in last month's Magazine, containing so graphic a picture of Life in Germany nearly 400 years ago, was from the pen of Rev. J. Salisbury, M.A., of Hinckloy. By an editorial oversight, the name of the writer was not appended to the article, as it should have boon.
JOHN WYCLIFFE.-As some brethren may be thinking of giving a lecture to their congregations or S. schools in connection with the quincentennial anniversary of the great Reformer's death, they may be glad to know of sources whenco reliable information may be obtained. The writer of the Life of Wycliffe in the present number of the Magazine consulted Dr. Robert_Vaughan's Life of Wycliffe, 2 vols.—Tracts and Treatises of John de Wycliffe, edited for the Wycliffe Society by Dr. Vaughan-Milman's History of Latin ChristianityJ. R. Green's History of the English People - Fasciculus Zizaniorum, etc., edited by Professor Shirley—and other books; but he found that the cream of the whole was contained in the small volume prepared by Dr. S. G. Groen, entitled “ Wycliffe Anecdotes," price 1s. 6d, published by the Religious Tract Society. From this book, combined with a capital penny tract by the same author, entitled "The Morning Star of the Reformation,” also published by the R. T. S., brethren may obtain all the facts they
need for a very interesting and instructive lecture. The best picture of England in the Times of Wycliffe will be found in J. R. Green's “Short History of the English People."
“HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD." Wo are doing a service to our young people by calling attention to an “Address to Senior Scholars," on the subject just named, delivered by our friend Dr. John Clifford on the 5th of May last, and now published under the auspices of the Sunday School Union (price ld.) Young men, in particular, ought to read it; and conductors of young men's classes cannot do better than order a number of copies. “ Young friends, hold fast!" says Dr. Clifford. “Fear not the empty laughter of the foolish. Do not be jeered out of wealth of sincerity and robbed of character and hope. Bo steadfast in the workroom, young women, oven though ridiculed ten hours a day as a Moody and Sankey.' Don't yield to the enemy, young man, for fear of being called
goody-goody.' You know that the Christian life is the one and only way to a manly, muscular, masterly, world-conquering, and good-doing manhood. Be courageous!"
THE SALE OF ADVOWSONS.—And what are they? An advowson is the right of presentation to an ecclesiastical benefice; in other words, the right of saying who shall be the clergyman of a parish or district. A fow months ago an advowson