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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.
1002, peace was purchased for a sum of L24,000 and a large supply of provisions.  Meantime, the King and his councillors resolved to have recourse to a most atrocious expedient for their future security.  It had been the practice of the English Kings, from the time of Athelstane, to have great numbers of Danes in their pay, as guards, or household troops; and these, it is said, they quartered on their subjects, one on each house.  The household troops, like soldiers in general, paid great attention to their dress and appearance, and thus became very popular with the generality of people; but they also occasionally behaved with great insolence, and were also strongly suspected of holding secret intelligence with their piratical countrymen.  It was therefore resolved to massacre the Hus-carles, as they were called, and their families, throughout England.  Secret orders to this effect were sent to all parts, and on St. Brice’s day, November 13th, 1002, the Danes were everywhere fallen on and slain.  The ties of affinity (for many of them had married and settled in the country) were disregarded; even Gunhilda, sister to Sweyn, King of Denmark, though a Christian, was not spared, and with her last breath she declared that her death would bring the greatest evils upon England.  The words of Gunhilda proved prophetic.  Sweyn, burning for revenge and glad of a pretext for war, soon made his appearance on the south coast, and during four years he spread devastation through all parts of the country, until the King Ethelred agreed to give him L30,000 and provisions as before for peace, and the realm thus had rest for two years.  But this short peace was but a prelude to further disturbances; and indeed for two centuries, dating from the reign of Egbert, England was destined to become a prey to these fierce and fearless invaders.

[Illustration:  DANISH ENCAMPMENT AT SWINESHEAD, LINCOLNSHIRE.]

The old Abbey of Swineshead was demolished in 1610, and the present structure, known as Swineshead Abbey, was built from the materials.

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THE NAMELESS STREAM

[Illustration:  Letter B.]

    Beautiful stream!  By rock and dell
      There’s not an inch in all thy course
    I have not track’d.  I know thee well: 
      I know where blossoms the yellow gorse;
    I know where waves the pale bluebell,
    And where the orchis and violets dwell. 
    I know where the foxglove rears its head,
    And where the heather tufts are spread;
    I know where the meadow-sweets exhale,
    And the white valerians load the gale. 
    I know the spot the bees love best,
    And where the linnet has built her nest. 
    I know the bushes the grouse frequent,
    And the nooks where the shy deer browse the bent. 
    I know each tree to thy fountain head—­
    The lady birches, slim and fair;

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