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A Forgotten Hero Not for Him   By: (1836-1893)

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A Forgotten Hero, or, Not for Him, by Emily Sarah Holt.

This shortish book takes us to the end of the thirteenth century, and, although the people in the book are mostly high born, the scene is a very domestic one. It gives us a good understanding of the way life was lived in those days. Recommended for its social interest.




"O pale, pale face, so sweet and meek, Oriana!"


"Is the linen all put away, Clarice?"

"Ay, Dame."

"And the rosemary not forgotten?"

"I have laid it in the linen, Dame."

"And thy day's task of spinning is done?"

"All done, Dame."

"Good. Then fetch thy sewing and come hither, and I will tell thee somewhat touching the lady whom thou art to serve."

"I humbly thank your Honour." And dropping a low courtesy, the girl left the room, and returned in a minute with her work.

"Thou mayest sit down, Clarice."

Clarice, with another courtesy and a murmur of thanks, took her seat in the recess of the window, where her mother was already sitting. For these two were mother and daughter; a middle aged, comfortable looking mother, with a mixture of firmness and good nature in her face; and a daughter of some sixteen years, rather pale and slender, but active and intelligent in her appearance. Clarice's dark hair was smoothly brushed and turned up in a curl all round her head, being cut sufficiently short for that purpose. Her dress was long and loose, made in what we call the Princess style, with a long train, which she tucked under one arm when she walked. The upper sleeve was of a narrow bell shape, but under it came down tight ones to the wrist, fastened by a row of large round buttons quite up to the elbow. A large apron which Clarice called a barm cloth protected the dress from stain. A fillet of ribbon was bound round her head, but she had no ornaments of any kind. Her mother wore a similar costume, excepting that in her case the fillet round the head was exchanged for a wimple, which was a close hood, covering head and neck, and leaving no part exposed but the face. It was a very comfortable article in cold weather, but an eminently unbecoming one.

These two ladies were the wife and daughter of Sir Gilbert Le Theyn, a knight of Surrey, who held his manor of the Earl of Cornwall; and the date of the day when they thus sat in the window was the 26th of March 1290.

It will strike modern readers as odd if I say that Clarice and her mother knew very little of each other. She was her father's heir, being an only child; and it was, therefore, considered the more necessary that she should not live at home. It was usual at that time to send all young girls of good family, not to school there were no schools in those days but to be brought up under some lady of rank, where they might receive a suitable education, and, on reaching the proper age, have a husband provided for them, the one being just as much a matter of course as the other. The consent of the parents was asked to the matrimonial selection of the mistress, but public opinion required some very strong reason to justify them in withholding it. The only exception to this arrangement was when girls were destined for the cloister, and in that case they received their education in a convent. But there was one person who had absolutely no voice in the matter, and that was the unfortunate girl in question. The very idea of consulting her on any point of it, would have struck a mediaeval mother with astonishment and dismay.

Why ladies should have been considered competent in all instances to educate anybody's daughters but their own is a mystery of the Middle Ages. Dame La Theyn had under her care three girls, who were receiving their education at her hands, and she never thought of questioning her own competency to impart it; yet, also without a question, she sent Clarice away from her, first to a neighbouring knight's wife, and now to a Princess, to receive the education which she might just as well have had at home... Continue reading book >>

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