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Layamon's Brut   By:

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LAYAMON'S BRUT

At Totnes Constantin the fair and all his host came ashore; thither came the bold man well was he brave! and with him two thousand knights such as no king possessed. Forth they gan march into London, and sent after knights over all the kingdom, and every brave man, that speedily he should come anon.

The Britons heard that, where they dwelt in the pits; in earth and in stocks they hid them like badgers, in wood and in wilderness, in heath and in fen, so that well nigh no man might find any Briton, except they were in castle, or in burgh inclosed fast. When they heard of this word, that Constantin was in the land, then came out of the mountains many thousand men; they leapt out of the wood as if it were deer. Many hundred thousand marched toward London, by street and by weald all it forth pressed; and the brave women put on them men's clothes, and they forth journeyed toward the army.

When the Earl Constantin saw all this folk come to him, then he was so blithe as he was never before in life. Forth they took their way two nights and a day, so that they came full truly to Melga and Wanis. Together they rushed with stern strength, fought fiercely the fated fell! Ere the day were gone, slain was Wanis and Melgan, and Peohtes enow, and Scots without number, Danes and Norwegians, Galloways and Irish. The while that the day was light lasted ever this slaughter.

When it came to the eventime, then called the Earl Constantin, and bade that guides should ride to the waters, and active men toward the sea, for to guard them. A man should have seen the game, how the women forth marched over woods and over fields, over hills and over dales. Wheresoever they found any man escaped, that was with Melga the heathen king, the women loud laughed, and tore him all in pieces, and prayed for the soul, that never should good be to it. Thus the British women killed many thousands, and thus they freed this kingdom of Wanis and of Melga.

And Constantin the brave marched to Silchester, and held there his husting of all his British thanes, all the Britons came to the meeting, and took Constantin the noble, and made him king of Britain much was then the mirth that was among men. And afterwards they gave him a wife, one wondrous fair, born of the highest, of Britain the best of all. By this noble wife Constantin had in this land three little sons. The first son had well nigh his father's name; Constantin hight the king, Constance hight the child. When this child was waxed, that it could ride, then his father caused him to be made a monk, through counsel of wicked men, and the child was a monk in Winchester. After him was born another, who was the middle brother, he was named Aurelius, his surname hight Ambrosius. Then was last of all born a child that was well disposed, he was named Uther, his virtues were strong; he was the youngest brother, but he lived longer than the others.

Guencelm the archbishop, who toward God was full good, took charge of the two children, for love of the king. But alas! that their father might live no longer! for he had good laws the while that he lived; but he was king here but twelve years, and then was the king dead— hearken now through what chance. He had in his house a Peoht, fair knight and most brave; he fared with the king, and with all his thanes by no other wise but as it were his brother. Then became he so potent, to all his companions unlike; then thought he to betray Constantin the powerful. He came before the king, and fell on his knees, and thus lied the traitor before his lord: "Lord king, come forthright, and speak with Cadal thy knight, and I will thee tell of strange speeches, such as thou never ere on earth heardest."

Then arose the king Constantin, and went forth out with him. But alas! that Constantin's knights knew it not! They proceeded so long forward that they came in an orchard. Then said the traitor there: "Lord, be we here... Continue reading book >>




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