Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
 
The Story of Count Leopold
By John Capgrave (1393–1464)
 
CONRARDUS PRIMUS reigned twenty years. He loved peace above all things; and therefore he made a law, that who that breaketh peace betwixt any princes, he should lose his head.  1
  There was an earl in this land they cleped Lupoid. He was accused to the emperor that he had broke this statute. Wherefore he fled into a wilderness, and lived as a hermit with wife and children. No man wist where he was. And happed afterward the king hunted in the same forest, lost his meny; 1 night fell on, and for very need he was lodged with this hermit; and that same night the countess had child; and a voice heard the emperor that this same child should be his successor. And the emperor had scorn that so poor a child should reign after him, commanded his servants to bear the child into the wood, slay him, and bring him the heart. They thought of pity they might not fulfil this: they laid the child in the leaves, and brought him the heart of a hare. A duke they cleped Herri found the child, bare it to his house, and, because his wife was barren, they feigned it was hers. When the child was grown, the emperor dined with this duke. The child stood before him, and he gan remember the face of that child which he commanded to be slain, desired him of the Duke, led him forth, sent him to the empress with such a letter, “That day that ye receive this child, ordain for him that he be dead.” So happed the child for to sleep in a priest’s house by the way, and the priest read the letter: of pity he erased the clause, and changed it into this sentence, “That day ye receive this child, in most goodly haste wed him to our daughter.” When the emperor came home, and saw that God’s ordinance would not be broke, he took it more at ease; specially when he knew what man was his father.  2
 
Note 1. meny = retinue. [back]
 
 
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