Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The King and the Outlaw

Ethelstan left no children, so he was succeeded by his young brother Edmund, who is surnamed the Magnificent. This prince was only eighteen when he came to the throne, but he was very brave. He conquered the province of Cumbria, and gave it to Malcolm I., King of Scotland.

Edmund also defeated the Danes, who had risen up against him, and he might have done much more for his people had he not come to a very sudden death in rather a strange way. It seems that he had given strict orders that all robbers, should be driven out of the country. A noted outlaw, notwithstanding this command, once entered the king's hall and boldly sat down at his table. Angry at this impudence, Edmund sternly ordered the man to go out. The robber insolently refused to obey, and when the king's cupbearer tried to turn him out by force, he began to resist. Then, before any one else could interfere, Edmund sprang up from his seat and tried to fling the intruder out of the house.

In the scuffle that ensued, the thief stabbed the king. The latter fell, and the people attacked the robber, who, leaning against the wall, fought with the courage of despair, until he was overpowered and killed.

Edmund was only twenty-four when he died, and as his children were babies, the Witenagemot chose his brother Edred for their next king. This prince soon had his hands full; for when the Danes heard that Edmund was dead, they again rose up against the Saxons. After defeating them, Edred decided that they should no longer be ruled by one of their own princes, but by an English governor who would keep them in order.

Edred was so young when he began to reign, that he generally followed the advice of a very clever priest called Dunstan. While Dunstan was only a man like his fellow-men, he was unusually clever and able; so the common people fancied that he was gifted with powers more than human, and told strange stories about him.

They said that when he was only a boy Dunstan had already shown that he was not an ordinary child, and in proof of it they whispered that he walked in his sleep! Of course, we know that when a person is unable to sleep soundly and quietly, it is only a sign that he is not quite well; but the people in Dunstan's time fancied it was something very strange. When Dunstan saw that they admired all he said and did, he took advantage of that fact to get all he wanted, and, as he was very ambitious, he soon became the most important man in the kingdom.

Once, when his services were not needed at court, he took up his abode in a cell so small and low that he could neither lie down nor stand up in it. Here he prayed and fasted, and worked at a forge, and people came from far and near to admire him and exclaim in wonder at his great goodness. They often talked with him, and believed all he said, although we are told he once said that the devil came to visit him, and that he seized the fiend by the nose with his red-hot pincers!