“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?”
“A star-ling,” said Henry. “I would rather be a star-ling, because it is good-mannered and kind and a joy to every one who sees it, and it never tries to rob or abuse its neigh-bor.”
Then the wise men talked with one another for a little while, and when they had agreed among themselves, they spoke to the king.
“We find,” said they, “that your eldest son, Robert, will be bold and gallant. He will do some great deeds, and make a name for himself; but in the end he will be over-come by his foes, and will die in prison.
“The second son, William, will be as brave and strong as the eagle; but he will be feared and hated for his cruel deeds. He will lead a wicked life, and will die a shameful death.
“The youngest son, Henry, will be wise and prudent and peaceful. He will go to war only when he is forced to do so by his enemies. He will be loved at home, and re-spect-ed abroad; and he will die in peace after having gained great pos-ses-sions.”
Years passed by, and the three boys had grown up to be men. King William lay upon his death-bed, and again he thought of what would become of his sons when he was gone. Then he re-mem-bered what the wise men had told him; and so he de-clared that Robert should have the lands which he held in France, that William should be the King of England, and that Henry should have no land at all, but only a chest of gold.
So it hap-pened in the end very much as the wise men had fore-told. Robert, the Short Stocking, was bold and reckless, like the hawk which he so much admired. He lost all the lands that his father had left him, and was at last shut up in prison, where he was kept until he died.
William Rufus was so over-bear-ing and cruel that he was feared and hated by all his people. He led a wicked life, and was killed by one of his own men while hunting in the forest.
And Henry, the Handsome Scholar, had not only the chest of gold for his own, but he became by and by the King of England and the ruler of all the lands that his father had had in France.
King Henry, the Handsome Scholar, had one son, named William, whom he dearly loved. The young man was noble and brave, and every-body hoped that he would some day be the King of England.
One summer Prince William went with his father across the sea to look after their lands in France. They were wel-comed with joy by all their people there, and the young prince was so gallant and kind, that he won the love of all who saw him.
But at last the time came for them to go back to England. The king, with his wise men and brave knights, set sail early in the day; but Prince William with his younger friends waited a little while. They had had so joyous a time in France that they were in no great haste to tear them-selves away.