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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 188

His Strength and Leadership

When he reached the age of sixteen or seventeen he became the terror of the Fen Country, for at his father’s Hall of Bourne he gathered a band of youths as wild and reckless as himself, who accepted him for their leader, and obeyed him implicitly, however outrageous were his commands. The wise Earl Leofric, who was much at court with the saintly king, understood little of the nature of his second son, and looked upon his wild deeds as evidence of a cruel and lawless mind, a menace to the peace of England, while they were in reality but the tokens of a restless energy for which the comparatively peaceable life of England at that time was all too dull and tame.

Leofric and Hereward

Frequent were the disputes between father and son, [Pg 337] and sadly did Lady Godiva forebode an evil ending to the clash of warring natures whenever Hereward and his father met; yet she could do nothing to avert disaster, for though her entreaties would soften the lad into penitence for some mad prank or reckless outrage, one hint of cold blame from his father would suffice to make him hardened and impenitent; and so things drifted from bad to worse. In all


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