But the tide came in, just as it always did. The water rose higher and higher. It came up around the king’s chair, and wet not only his feet, but also his robe. His officers stood about him, alarmed, and won-der-ing whether he was not mad.
Then Canute took off his crown, and threw it down upon the sand.
“I shall never wear it again,” he said. “And do you, my men, learn a lesson from what you have seen. There is only one King who is all-powerful; and it is he who rules the sea, and holds the ocean in the hollow of his hand. It is he whom you ought to praise and serve above all others.”
There was once a great king of England who was called Wil-liam the Con-quer-or, and he had three sons.
[Illustration: “Sea, I command you to come no farther!”]
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.