THE BLACK PRINCE (IV)

At last the French were vanquished, and had to retire from the field. Their sacred banner, the Oriflamme, or Flame of Gold, was nearly captured, but a brave French knight broke his way through the crowd which was struggling around it, cut the banner from its staff with his sword, and winding it round his body, rode away with it in safety.

The French king, refusing to leave the field, was dragged away, almost by force, by some of his followers.

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After riding for some miles, they came to a castle and knocked at the gate.

‘Who is there?’ shouted the gate-keeper.

‘It is the Fortune of France,’ was the reply.

Then the lord of the castle came down himself and opened the gates, and let in his weary, broken-hearted king.

Night was closing in, and the English were lighting their watch-fires upon the battlefield, when King Edward rode forward to meet the son who had fought so bravely. Taking the lad in his arms, he kissed him, and he told him that he had acted nobly, and worthy of the day and of his high birth.

Next morning the king and the prince went to look at the slain, and found among them the old King of Bohemia, lying dead between his two knights. Beside the king lay his shield and helmet, bearing his device, three ostrich feathers, with the motto ‘ich dien.’

King Edward gave orders that the old hero should be borne from the field and buried with royal honours; and then he and the prince moved away in a very thoughtful mood.

‘Truly,’ said Prince Edward, ‘I think that was well said; “ich dien,” meaning that a king’s duty is to serve his country.’

‘As thou hast served it well this day, my son,’ replied his father, ‘wilt thou take this device for thine own?’

So the prince took for his crest the three ostrich feathers with the motto, in remembrance of his gallant enemy, and the device is borne by the Princes of Wales to this day.

Ten years later, the Black Prince had become a man, and the war was not yet at an end. King Philip was dead, and had been succeeded by his son John, a brave and chivalrous king.

Edward being engaged in fighting with the Scots, the Black Prince took command of the army in France. Near the town of Poitiers he believed that the French king lay somewhere in readiness to give battle; but the English could not find out where he was…

by: Hilda T. Skae

The following short story is reprinted from Stories from English History. Hilda T. Skae. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1907.

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