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The Herd Boy and His Hermit   By: (1823-1901)

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THE HERD BOY AND HIS HERMIT

BY

CHARLOTTE M. YONGE

Henry, thou of holy birth, Thou, to whom thy Windsor gave Nativity and name and grave Heavily upon his head Ancestral crimes were visited. Meek in heart and undefiled, Patiently his soul resigned, Blessing, while he kissed the rod, His Redeemer and his God. SOUTHEY

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. IN THE MOSS

II. THE SNOW STORM

III. OVER THE MOOR

IV. A SPORTING PRIORESS

V. MOTHER AND SON

VI. A CAUTIOUS STEPFATHER

VII. ON DERWENT BANKS

VIII. THE HERMIT

IX. HENRY OF WINDSOR

X. THE SCHOLAR OF THE MOUNTAINS

XI. THE RED ROSE

XII. A PRUDENT RECEPTION

XIII. FELLOW TRAVELLERS

XIV. THE JOURNEY

XV. BLETSO

XVI. THE HERMIT IN THE TOWER

XVII. A CAPTIVE KING

XVIII. AT THE MINORESSES

XIX. A STRANGE EASTER EVE

XX. BARNET

XXI. TEWKESBURY

XXII. THE NUT BROWN MAID

XXIII. BROUGHAM CASTLE

THE HERD BOY AND HIS HERMIT

CHAPTER I. IN THE MOSS

I can conduct you, lady, to a low But loyal cottage where you may be safe Till further quest. MILTON.

On a moorland slope where sheep and goats were dispersed among the rocks, there lay a young lad on his back, in a stout canvas cassock over his leathern coat, and stout leathern leggings over wooden shoes. Twilight was fast coming on; only a gleam of purple light rested on the top of the eastern hills, but was gradually fading away, though the sky to the westward still preserved a little pale golden light by the help of the descending crescent moon.

'Go away, horned moon,' murmured the boy. 'I want to see my stars come out before Hob comes to call me home, and the goats are getting up already. Moon, moon, thou mayst go quicker. Thou wilt have longer time to morrow and be higher in the sky, as well as bigger, and thou mightst let me see my star to night! Ah! there is one high in the sunset, pale and fair, but not mine! That's the evening star one of the wanderers. Is it the same as comes in the morning betimes, when we do not have it at night? Like that it shines with steady light and twinkles not. I would that I knew! There! there's mine, my own star, far up, only paling while the sun glaring blazes in the sky; mine own, he that from afar drives the stars in Charles's Wain. There they come, the good old twinkling team of three, and the four of the Wain! Old Billy Goat knows them too! Up he gets, and all in his wake "Ha ha ha" he calls, and the Nannies answer. Ay, and the sheep are rising up too! How white they look in the moonshine! Piers deaf as he is waking at their music. Ba, they call the lambs! Nay, that's no call of sheep or goat! 'Tis some child crying, all astray! Ha! Hilloa, where beest thou? Tarry till I come! Move not, or thou mayst be in the bogs and mosses! Come, Watch' to a great unwieldy collie puppy 'let us find her.'

A feeble piteous sound answered him, and following the direction of the reply, he strode along, between the rocks and thorn bushes that guarded the slope of the hill, to a valley covered with thick moss, veiling treacherously marshy ground in which it was easy to sink.

The cry came from the further side, where a mountain stream had force enough to struggle through the swamp. There were stepping stones across the brook, which the boy knew, and he made his way from one to the other, calling out cheerily to the little figure that he began to discern in the fading light, and who answered him with tones evidently girlish, 'O come, come, shepherd! Here I am! I am lost and lorn! They will reward thee! Oh, come fast!'

'All in good time, lassie! Haste is no good here! I must look to my footing.'

Presently he was by the side of the wanderer, and could see that it was a maiden of ten or twelve years old, who somehow, even in the darkness, had not the air of one of the few inhabitants of that wild mountain district.

'Lost art thou, maiden,' he said, as he stood beside her; 'where is thine home?'

'I am at Greystone Priory,' replied the girl... Continue reading book >>




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