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The Red Romance Book   By: (1860-1941)

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Transcriber's Note

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. A list of changes is found at the end of the book.

[Illustration: HOW GUNNAR MET HALLGERDA]

THE RED ROMANCE BOOK

EDITED BY ANDREW LANG

[Illustration]

LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. 39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON FOURTH AVENUE AND 30TH STREET, NEW YORK

1921

PREFACE

WHAT ROMANCES ARE

(TO CHILDREN AND OTHERS)

I once read a book about a poor little lonely boy in a great house with a large library. This boy was pale, dull, and moping. Nobody knew what was the matter with him. But somebody tracked him into the library and saw him take a huge thick black book, half as tall as himself, out of a bookcase, and sit down and read it. The name of the book was Polexander . So he sat and sobbed over Polexander , because it was so very dull and so very long. There were 800 pages, and he had only read sixty seven. But some very stupid grown up person had told him that he must always begin a book at the beginning, and, if he once began, he must read every word of it, and read nothing else till he had finished every word of it.

The boy saw that he would die of weariness long before he reached the end of Polexander , but he stuck to it like the other boy who stood by the burning deck long after it was 'time for him to go.' So Polexander was taken away from him and locked up, and so his life was saved.

Now, in the first place Polexander was a romance, but it was not like the romances in this book, for it was dreadfully long, and mainly about the sorrows of lovers who cannot get married. That could not amuse a small boy. In the second place, every boy should stop reading a book as soon as he finds that he does not like it, just as you are not expected to eat more mutton than you want to eat. Lesson books are another thing; you have to read them, and if you do not you will get into trouble. They are not meant to be amusing, but to teach Latin grammar, or geography, or arithmetic, which are not gay. As to this book of Romances, if you do not like one story, give it up and try another. If you do not like any of them, read something else that you do like.

Now what are romances? They are grown up people's fairy tales or story books, but they are the kind of story books that grown up people read long ago, when there were castles and knights, and tournaments, and the chief business of gentlemen was to ride about in full armour, fighting, while ladies sat at home doing embroidery work, or going to see the men tilt at tournaments, just as they go to see cricket matches now. But they liked tournaments better, because they understood the rules of the game. Anybody could see when one knight knocked another down, horse and all, but many ladies do not understand leg before wicket, or stumping.

The stories that they read were called 'romances,' but were in prose. Before people could read they were not in prose but in poetry, and were recited by minstrels. Mrs. Lang, who did the stories in this book, says: 'Many hundreds of years ago, when most of these stories were told in the halls of great castles, the lives of children were very different from what they are now. The little girls were taught by their mothers' maidens to spin and embroider, or make simple medicines from the common herbs, and the boys learnt to ride and tilt, and shoot with bows and arrows; but their tasks done, no one paid any further heed to them. They had very few games, and in the long winter evenings the man who went from house to house, telling or singing the tales of brave deeds, must have been welcome indeed. From him the children, who early became men and women, heard of the evil fate that awaited cowardice and treachery, and grew to understand that it was their duty through life to help those that were weaker than themselves.' That was long, long ago, when nobody but priests and a very few gentlemen could read and write... Continue reading book >>




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