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The End Of Saxon England
by [?]

We have two pictures to draw, preliminary scenes to the fatal battle of Hastings Hill. The first belongs to the morning of September 25, 1066. At Stamford Bridge, on the Derwent River, lay encamped a stalwart host, that of Harold Hardrada, king of Norway. With him was Tostig, rebel brother of King Harold of England, who had brought this army of strangers into the land. On the river near by lay their ships.

Here Harold found them, a formidable force, drawn up in a circle, the line marked out by shining spears. The English king had marched hither in all haste from the coast, where he had been awaiting the coming of William of Normandy. Tostig, the rebel son of Godwin, had brought ruin upon the land.

Before the battle commenced, twenty horsemen rode out from Harold’s vanguard and moved towards the foe. Harold, the king, rode at their head. As they drew near they saw a leader of the opposing host, clad in a blue mantle and wearing a shining helmet, fall to the earth through the stumbling of his horse.

“Who is the man that fell?” asked Harold.

“The king of Norway,” answered one of his companions.

“He is a tall and stately warrior,” answered Harold, “but his end is near.”

Then, under command of the king, one of his noble followers rode up to the opposing line and called out,–

“Is Tostig, the son of Godwin, here?”

“It would be wrong to say he is not,” answered the rebel Englishman, stepping into view.

The herald then begged him to make peace with his brother, saying that it was dreadful that two men, sons of the same mother, should be in arms against each other.

“What will Harold give me if I make peace with him?” asked Tostig.

“He will give you a brother’s love and make you earl of Northumberland.”

“And what will he give to my friend, the king of Norway?”

“Seven feet of earth for a grave,” was the grim answer of the envoy; “or, as he seems a very tall man, perhaps a foot or two more.”

“Ride back, then,” said Tostig, “and bid Harold make ready for battle. Whatever happens, it shall never be said of Tostig that he basely gave up the friend who had helped him in time of need.”

The fight began,–and quickly ended. Hardrada fought like a giant, but an arrow in his throat brought him dead to the ground. Tostig fell also, and many other chiefs. The Northmen, disheartened, yielded. Harold gave them easy terms, bidding them take their ships and sail again to the land whence they had come.

This warlike picture on the land may be matched by one upon the sea. Over the waves of the English Channel moved a single ship, such a one as had rarely been seen upon those waters. Its sails were of different bright colors; the vanes at the mast-heads were gilded; the three lions of Normandy were painted here and there; the figure-head was a child with a bent bow, its arrow pointed towards the land of England. At the mainmast-head floated a consecrated banner, which had been sent from Rome.

It was the ship of William of Normandy, alone upon the waves. Three thousand vessels in all had left with it the shores of France, six or seven hundred of them large in size. Now, day was breaking, and the king’s ship was alone. The others had vanished in the night.

William ordered a sailor to the mast-head to report on what he could see.

“I see nothing but the water and the sky,” came the lookout’s cry from above.

“We have outsailed them; we must lay to,” said the duke.

Breakfast was served, with warm spiced wine, to keep the crew in good heart. After it was over the sailor was again sent aloft.

“I can see four ships, low down in the offing,” he proclaimed.

A third time he was sent to the mast-head. His voice now came to those on deck filled with merry cheer.