There stood proud forms before
The stately and the brave;
But who could fill the place of one,—
That one beneath the wave?
Before him passed the young and fair,
In pleasure’s reckless train;
But seas dashed o’er his son’s bright hair—
He never smiled again.
He sat where festal bowls
He heard the minstrel sing;
He saw the tour-ney’s victor crowned
Amid the knightly ring.
A murmur of the restless deep
Was blent with every strain,
A voice of winds that would not sleep—
He never smiled again.
Hearts, in that time, closed
o’er the trace
Of vows once fondly poured,
And strangers took the kins-man’s place
At many a joyous board;
Graves which true love had bathed with tears
Were left to heaven’s bright rain;
Fresh hopes were born for other years—
He never smiled again!
I. The three questions.
There was once a king of England whose name was John. He was a bad king; for he was harsh and cruel to his people, and so long as he could have his own way, he did not care what became of other folks. He was the worst king that England ever had.
Now, there was in the town of Can’ter-bur-y a rich old abbot who lived in grand style in a great house called the Abbey. Every day a hundred noble men sat down with him to dine; and fifty brave knights, in fine velvet coats and gold chains, waited upon him at his table.
When King John heard of the way in which the abbot lived, he made up his mind to put a stop to it. So he sent for the old man to come and see him.
“How now, my good abbot?” he said. “I hear that you keep a far better house than I. How dare you do such a thing? Don’t you know that no man in the land ought to live better than the king? And I tell you that no man shall.”
“O king!” said the abbot, “I beg to say that I am spending nothing but what is my own. I hope that you will not think ill of me for making things pleasant for my friends and the brave knights who are with me.”
“Think ill of you?” said the king. “How can I help but think ill of you? All that there is in this broad land is mine by right; and how do you dare to put me to shame by living in grander style than I? One would think that you were trying to be king in my place.”
“Oh, do not say so!” said the abbot “For I”—
“Not another word!” cried the king. “Your fault is plain, and unless you can answer me three questions, your head shall be cut off, and all your riches shall be mine.”
“I will try to answer them, O king!” said the abbot.
“Well, then,” said King John, “as I sit here with my crown of gold on my head, you must tell me to within a day just how long I shall live. Sec-ond-ly, you must tell me how soon I shall ride round the whole world; and lastly, you shall tell me what I think.”