In the Wars of the Roses by Evelyn Everett-Green


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Page 2

"O mother, yes; I had not thought of that. But I do so long to see
the little prince. Oh, if he were to notice me--to speak to me--how
happy I should be! We were born on the same day, were we not, dear
mother--on the thirteenth of October? But I am older, am I not?"

"Yes, my child; by two years. You will be eight upon your next
birthday, and he six. But I hear he is such a forward, kingly,
noble child, that both in appearance and discretion he is far in
advance of his actual age. Those who are brought up with royalty
early learn the lessons which to others come but with advancing
years."

"I love the little prince, our good king's son," cried Paul with
kindling eyes; "I would that I had been called Edward, too. Mother,
why was I not given his name, as I was born on his day, and that of
the good St. Edward too?"

The mother fondly caressed the golden curls of the beautiful child
as she answered:

"Ah, my son, we knew not till long afterward that our gracious
queen had borne a little son on thy natal day. Paul is a name which
many of our race have borne before, and so we called our child by
it. It is the man that makes the name, not the name the man."

"I know that, mother; yet I would fain have borne the name of the
little prince. But hark! I hear the sounds of the horses' feet.
They are bringing them round to the door. Sweet mother, lose no
time. Let us mount and depart. I would fain have been in the
gallant band of gentlemen who rode out this morning at dawn to
welcome and escort the king and queen; as my father and brothers
were. But let us not delay. I should be sorely grieved were we to
miss seeing the entry into the city."

Lady Stukely smiled at the impatience of the child, knowing well
that many hours must elapse before the royal party would reach the
city walls; but she was willing to gratify the ardent desires of
her little son, and as she was already dressed for the saddle, she
rose and took him by the hand and led him out to the courtyard,
where some half dozen of the good knight's retainers were awaiting
their lady and her son.

Stukely Hall was no very large or pretentious place, but it was
built in that quadrangular form so common to that age, and
accommodated within its walls the dependents and retainers that
every man of rank had about him under the old feudal system, which
obliged him to bring to his lord's service on demand a certain
following of armed and trained soldiers.

In those days, when every article of common consumption was made at
home, the household of even a knight or gentleman of no great
wealth or note was no inconsiderable matter, and even the field
labourers almost always dwelt within the walls of their lord's
house, eating his bread, and growing old in his service as a matter
of course, without thinking of such a thing as change.

So that although the greater part of the retainers had ridden off
at dawn with the knight and his sons, there were still a good
half-dozen stout fellows ready to escort their lady to the town;
and besides these were many menials of lower grade standing about
to see the start. Little Paul, who had grown up amongst them, ran
from one to the other, telling them excitedly how he was going to
see the prince that day, and eagerly accepting from the hands of
his old nurse a beautiful bunch of red roses which she had gathered
that morning, in the hope that her darling might have the chance to
offer them to queen or prince.

Mother and son each wore the red rose broidered upon their state
robes, and the boy had stuck the crimson blossom in his velvet cap.
He was a perfect little picture in his white velvet tunic sloshed
with rose colour, his white cloth hosen laced with gold from ankle
to thigh, a short cloak flowing jauntily from his shoulders, and
his bright golden curls flowing from beneath the crimson and white
cap.

No wonder that his stately mother regarded him with looks of fond
pride, or that his old nurse breathed a benediction on his pretty
head, and invoked the saints and the blessed Virgin on his behalf.
They little knew that the gallant child was riding forth to an
encounter which would be fraught for him with strange results; and
that the long-hoped-for meeting with the little prince would be the
first step in one of those passionate attachments which almost
always cost the owner of them dear.

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