List Of Contents | Contents of The Little Duke by Charlotte M. Yonge
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rude table, a few chairs, and two large chests, were all it
contained.  Harcourt tried the lid of one of the chests:  it opened,
and proved to be full of wearing apparel; he went to the other, which
was smaller, much more carved, and ornamented with very handsome
iron-work.  It was locked, and putting in the key, it fitted, the
lock turned, and the chest was opened.  The Normans pressed eagerly
to see their Duke's greatest treasure.

It was a robe of serge, and a pair of sandals, such as were worn in
the Abbey of Jumieges.

"Ha! is this all?  What didst say, child?" cried Bernard the Dane,

"He told me it was his greatest treasure!" repeated Richard.

"And it was!" said Abbot Martin.

Then the good Abbot told them the history, part of which was already
known to some of them.  About five or six years before, Duke William
had been hunting in the forest of Jumieges, when he had suddenly come
on the ruins of the Abbey, which had been wasted thirty or forty
years previously by the Sea-King, Hasting.  Two old monks, of the
original brotherhood, still survived, and came forth to greet the
Duke, and offer him their hospitality.

"Ay!" said Bernard, "well do I remember their bread; we asked if it
was made of fir-bark, like that of our brethren of Norway."

William, then an eager, thoughtless young man, turned with disgust
from this wretched fare, and throwing the old men some gold, galloped
on to enjoy his hunting.  In the course of the sport, he was left
alone, and encountered a wild boar, which threw him down, trampled on
him, and left him stretched senseless on the ground, severely
injured.  His companions coming up, carried him, as the nearest place
of shelter, to the ruins of Jumieges, where the two old monks gladly
received him in the remaining portion of their house.  As soon as he
recovered his senses, he earnestly asked their pardon for his pride,
and the scorn he had shown to the poverty and patient suffering which
he should have reverenced.

William had always been a man who chose the good and refused the
evil, but this accident, and the long illness that followed it, made
him far more thoughtful and serious than he had ever been before; he
made preparing for death and eternity his first object, and thought
less of his worldly affairs, his wars, and his ducal state.  He
rebuilt the old Abbey, endowed it richly, and sent for Martin himself
from France, to become the Abbot; he delighted in nothing so much as
praying there, conversing with the Abbot, and hearing him read holy
books; and he felt his temporal affairs, and the state and splendour
of his rank, so great a temptation, that he had one day come to the
Abbot, and entreated to be allowed to lay them aside, and become a
brother of the order.  But Martin had refused to receive his vows.
He had told him that he had no right to neglect or forsake the duties
of the station which God had appointed him; that it would be a sin to
leave the post which had been given him to defend; and that the way
marked out for him to serve God was by doing justice among his
people, and using his power to defend the right.  Not till he had
done his allotted work, and his son was old enough to take his place
as ruler of the Normans, might he cease from his active duties, quit
the turmoil of the world, and seek the repose of the cloister.  It
was in this hope of peaceful retirement, that William had delighted
to treasure up the humble garments that he hoped one day to wear in
peace and holiness.

"And oh! my noble Duke!" exclaimed Abbot Martin, bursting into tears,
as he finished his narration, "the Lord hath been very gracious unto
thee!  He has taken thee home to thy rest, long before thou didst
dare to hope for it."

Slowly, and with subdued feelings, the Norman Barons left the
chamber; Richard, whom they seemed to have almost forgotten, wandered
to the stairs, to find his way to the room where he had slept last
night.  He had not made many steps before he heard Osmond's voice
say, "Here, my Lord;" he looked up, saw a white cap at a doorway a
little above him, he bounded up and flew into Dame Astrida's
outstretched arms.

How glad he was to sit in her lap, and lay his wearied head on her
bosom, while, with a worn-out voice, he exclaimed, "Oh, Fru Astrida!
I am very, very tired of being Duke of Normandy!"


Richard of Normandy was very anxious to know more of the little boy
whom he had seen among his vassals.

"Ah! the young Baron de Montemar," said Sir Eric.  "I knew his father
well, and a brave man he was, though not of northern blood.  He was
warden of the marches of the Epte, and was killed by your father's
side in the inroad of the Viscount du Cotentin, {10} at the time when
you were born, Lord Richard."

"But where does he live?  Shall I not see him again?"

"Montemar is on the bank of the Epte, in the domain that the French
wrongfully claim from us.  He lives there with his mother, and if he
be not yet returned, you shall see him presently.  Osmond, go you and
seek out the lodgings of the young Montemar, and tell him the Duke
would see him."

Richard had never had a playfellow of his own age, and his eagerness
to see Alberic de Montemar was great.  He watched from the window,
and at length beheld Osmond entering the court with a boy of ten
years old by his side, and an old grey-headed Squire, with a golden
chain to mark him as a Seneschal or Steward of the Castle, walking

Richard ran to the door to meet them, holding out his hand eagerly.
Alberic uncovered his bright dark hair, bowed low and gracefully, but
stood as if he did not exactly know what to do next.  Richard grew
shy at the same moment, and the two boys stood looking at each other
somewhat awkwardly.  It was easy to see that they were of different
races, so unlike were the blue eyes, flaxen hair, and fair face of
the young Duke, to the black flashing eyes and olive cheek of his
French vassal, who, though two years older, was scarcely above him in
height; and his slight figure, well-proportioned, active and agile as
it was, did not give the same promise of strength as the round limbs
and large-boned frame of Richard, which even now seemed likely to
rival the gigantic stature of his grandfather, Earl Rollo, the

For some minutes the little Duke and the young Baron stood surveying
each other without a word, and old Sir Eric did not improve matters
by saying, "Well, Lord Duke, here he is.  Have you no better greeting
for him?"

"The children are shame-faced," said Fru Astrida, seeing how they
both coloured.  "Is your Lady mother in good health, my young sir?"

Alberic blushed more deeply, bowed to the old northern lady, and
answered fast and low in French, "I cannot speak the Norman tongue."

Richard, glad to say something, interpreted Fru Astrida's speech, and
Alberic readily made courteous reply that his mother was well, and he
thanked the Dame de Centeville, a French title which sounded new to
Fru Astrida's ears.  Then came the embarrassment again, and Fru
Astrida at last said, "Take him out, Lord Richard; take him to see
the horses in the stables, or the hounds, or what not."

Richard was not sorry to obey, so out they went into the court of
Rollo's tower, and in the open air the shyness went off.  Richard
showed his own pony, and Alberic asked if he could leap into the
saddle without putting his foot in the stirrup.  No, Richard could
not; indeed, even Osmond had never seen it done, for the feats of
French chivalry had scarcely yet spread into Normandy.

"Can you?" said Richard; "will you show us?"

"I know I can with my own pony," said Alberic, "for Bertrand will not
let me mount in any other way; but I will try with yours, if you
desire it, my Lord."

So the pony was led out.  Alberic laid one hand on its mane, and
vaulted on its back in a moment.  Both Osmond and Richard broke out
loudly into admiration.  "Oh, this is nothing!" said Alberic.
"Bertrand says it is nothing.  Before he grew old and stiff he could
spring into the saddle in this manner fully armed.  I ought to do
this much better."

Richard begged to be shown how to perform the exploit, and Alberic
repeated it; then Richard wanted to try, but the pony's patience
would not endure any longer, and Alberic said he had learnt on a
block of wood, and practised on the great wolf-hound.  They wandered
about a little longer in the court, and then climbed up the spiral
stone stairs to the battlements at the top of the tower, where they
looked at the house-tops of Rouen close beneath, and the river Seine,
broadening and glittering on one side in its course to the sea, and
on the other narrowing to a blue ribbon, winding through the green
expanse of fertile Normandy.  They threw the pebbles and bits of
mortar down that they might hear them fall, and tried which could
stand nearest to the edge of the battlement without being giddy.
Richard was pleased to find that he could go the nearest, and began
to tell some of Fru Astrida's stories about the precipices of Norway,
among which when she was a young girl she used to climb about and
tend the cattle in the long light summer time.  When the two boys
came down again into the hall to dinner, they felt as if they had
known each other all their lives.  The dinner was laid out in full
state, and Richard had, as before, to sit in the great throne-like
chair with the old Count of Harcourt on one side, but, to his
comfort, Fru Astrida was on the other.

After the dinner, Alberic de Montemar rose to take his leave, as he
was to ride half way to his home that afternoon.  Count Bernard, who
all dinner time had been watching him intently from under his shaggy
eye-brows, at this moment turned to Richard, whom he hardly ever
addressed, and said to him, "Hark ye, my Lord, what should you say to
have him yonder for a comrade?"

"To stay with me?" cried Richard, eagerly.  "Oh, thanks, Sir Count;
and may he stay?"

"You are Lord here."

"Oh, Alberic!" cried Richard, jumping out of his chair of state, and
running up to him, "will you not stay with me, and be my brother and

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