THE SEARCH FOR A GOOD CHILD
 LONG, long ago there lived, in a kingdom far
away, five knights who were so good and so wise
that each one was known by a name that meant
The first knight was called Sir Brian the Brave.
He had killed the great lion that came out of
the forest to frighten the women and children, had slain
a dragon, and had saved a princess from a burning
castle; for he was afraid of nothing under the sun.
The second knight was Gerald the Glad, who was so happy
himself that he made everybody around him happy too; for
his sweet smile and cheery words were so comforting that
none could be sad or cross or angry when he
Sir Kenneth the Kind was the third knight, and
he won his name by his tender heart. Even the
creatures of the wood knew and loved him, for he
never hurt anything that God had made.
 The fourth knight had
a face as beautiful as his name, and he was
called Percival the Pure. He thought beautiful thoughts, said beautiful
words, and did beautiful deeds, for he kept his whole
life as lovely as a garden full of flowers without
a single weed.
Tristram the True was the last knight, and
he was leader of them all.
The king of the country
trusted these five knights; and one morning in the early
spring-time he called them to him and said:—
"My trusty knights,
I am growing old, and I long to see in
my kingdom many knights like you to take care of
my people; and so I will send you through all
my kingdom to choose for me a little boy who
may live at my court and learn from you those
things which a knight must know. Only a good child
can be chosen. A good child is worth more than
a kingdom. And when you have found him, bring him,
if he will come willingly, to me, and I shall
be happy in my old age."
 Now the knights were well
pleased with the words of the king, and at the
first peep of day they were ready for their journey,
and rode down the highway with waving plumes and shining
No sooner had they started on their journey than the
news spread abroad over the country, and many fathers and
mothers who were anxious for the favor of the king
sent messengers to invite the knights to visit them.
messages were so full of praises of their children that
the knights scarcely knew where to go. Some of the
parents said that their sons were beautiful; some said theirs
were smart; but as the knights cared nothing for a
child who was not good, they did not hurry to
see these children.
On the second day, however, as they rode
along, they met a company of men in very fine
clothes, who bowed down before them; and while the knights
drew rein in astonishment, a little man stepped in front
of the others to speak to them.
 He was a fat
little man, with a fat little voice; and he told
the knights that he had come to invite them to
the castle of the Baron Borribald, whose son Florimond was
the most wonderful child in the world.
"Oh! there is nothing
he cannot do," cried the fat little man whose name
was Puff. "You must hear him talk! You must see
So the knights followed him; and when they had
reached the castle, Florimond ran to meet them. He was
a merry little fellow, with long fair curls and rosy
cheeks; and when he saw the fine horses he clapped
his hands with delight. The baron and baroness, too, were
well pleased with their visitors, and made a feast in
their honor; but early the next morning, the knights were
startled by a most awful sound which seemed to come
from the hall below.
"Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" It sounded something like the howling
of a dog; but as they listened, it grew louder
and louder, until it sounded like the roaring of a
 The knights seized their swords and rushed down to see
what was the matter; and there, in the middle of
the hall, stood Florimond, his cheeks puffed up and his
eyes swollen,—and right out of his open mouth came
that terrible noise: "Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo!"
His mamma and papa were begging him
to be quiet. The cook had run up with a
pie, and the nurse with a toy, but Florimond only
opened his mouth and screamed the louder, because the rain
was coming down, when he wanted to play out of
Then the knights saw that they were not wanted, and
they hurried upstairs to prepare for their journey. The baron
and baroness and fat little Puff all begged them to
stay, and Florimond cried again when they left him; but
the knights did not care to stay with a child
who was not good.
The knights began to think that their
mission was a difficult one; but they rode on, asking
at every house: "Is there a good boy here?" only
to be disappointed many times.
 North, south, east, and west, they
searched; and at last, one afternoon, they halted under an
oak tree, to talk, and they decided to part company.
each take his own way," said Tristram the True, "and
to-morrow we will meet, under this same tree, and tell
what we have seen; for the time draws near when
we must return to the king."
Then they bade each other
farewell, and each rode away, except Sir Tristram, who lingered
long under the oak tree; for he was the leader,
and had many things to think about.
Just as the sun
was red in the west, he saw a little boy
coming towards him, with a bundle of sticks on his
"Greeting to you, little boy," said he.
"Greeting to you, fair
sir," said the boy, looking up with eager eyes at
the knight on his splendid horse, that stood so still
when the knight bade it.
"What is your name?" asked the
"My name is little Gauvain," replied the child.
 "And can you
prove a trusty guide, little Gauvain, and lead me to
a pleasant place where I may rest to-night?" asked the
"Ay, that I can," Gauvain answered gladly, his whole face
lighting up with pleasure; but he added quickly, "I can,
if you will wait until I carry my sticks to
Granny Slowsteps, and bring her water from the spring; for
I promised to be there before the setting of the
Now little Gauvain wanted to help the good knight so
much that he was sorry to say this; but Sir
Tristram told him to run, and promised to wait patiently
until his return; and before many moments Gauvain was back,
bounding like a fawn through the wood, to lead the
way to his own home.
When they came there the little
dog ran out to meet them, and the cat rubbed
up against Gauvain, and the mother called from the kitchen:—
that my sunbeam coming home to roost?" which made Gauvain
and the knight both laugh.
AND THE MOTHER CALLED FROM THE KITCHEN:—
"IS THAT MY SUNBEAM COMING HOME TO ROOST?"
 Then the mother came out in
haste to welcome the stranger; and she treated him with
honor, giving him the best place at the table and
the hottest cakes.
She and little Gauvain lived all alone, for
the father had gone to the wars when Gauvain was
a baby, and had died fighting for the king.
cows, horses, and pigs, hens, chickens, and a dog and
a cat, and one treasure greater than a kingdom, for
she had a good child in her house.
Sir Tristram found
this out very soon, for little Gauvain ran when he
was called, remembered the cat and dog when he had
eaten his own supper, and went to bed when he
was told, without fretting, although the knight was telling of
lions and bears and battles, and everything that little boys
like to hear about.
Sir Tristram was so glad of this
that he could hardly wait for the time to come
when he should meet his comrades under the oak tree.
"I have found a child whom you must
 see," he said,
as soon as they came together.
"And so have I," cried
Gerald the Glad.
"And I," exclaimed Kenneth the Kind.
"And I," said
Brian the Brave.
"And I," said Percival the Pure; and they
looked at each other in astonishment.
"I do not know the
child's name," continued Gerald the Glad; "but as I was
riding in the forest I heard some one singing the
merriest song! And when I looked through the trees I
saw a little boy bending under a heavy burden. I
hastened to help him, but when I reached the spot
he was gone. I should like to hear him sing
"I rode by the highway," said Sir Brian the Brave,
"and I came suddenly upon a crowd of great, rough
fellows who were trying to torment a small black dog;
and just as I saw them, a little boy ran
up, as brave as a knight, and took the dog
in his arms, and covered it with his coat. The
rest ran away when I rode up; but the child
stayed, and told me his name—Gauvain."
 "Why!" exclaimed Kenneth the Kind,
"he is the boy who brings wood and water for
Granny Slowsteps. I tarried all night at her cottage, and
she told me of his kindness."
"I saw a lad at
the spring near by," said Percival the Pure. "He hurried
to fill his bucket, and some rude clown muddied the
water as the child reached down; but he spoke no
angry words, and waited patiently till the water was clear
again. I should like to find his home and see
Now Sir Tristram had waited to hear them all;
but when Sir Percival had finished, he arose and cried:—
and I will carry you to the child!" And when
the knights followed him, he led them to the home
where little Gauvain was working with his mother, as happy
as a lark and as gentle as a dove.
noonday, and the sun was shining brightly on the shields
of the knights, and their plumes were waving in the
breeze; and when they reached the gate, Sir Tristram blew
a loud blast on a silver trumpet.
Then all the hens
began to cackle, and the dog began to bark, and
the horse began to neigh, and the pigs began to
grunt; for they knew that it was a great day.
And little Gauvain and his mother ran out to see
what the matter was.
When the knights saw Gauvain they looked
at each other, and every one cried out: "He is
the child!" And Tristram the True said to the mother:—
to you! The king, our wise ruler, has sent us
here to see your good child; for a good child
is more precious than a kingdom. And the king offers
him his love and favor if you will let him ride with
us to live at the king's court and learn to
be a knight."
Little Gauvain and his mother were greatly astonished.
They could scarcely believe that such a thing had happened;
for it seemed very wonderful and beautiful that the king
should send messengers to little Gauvain. After the knights had
repeated it, though, they understood; and little Gauvain ran to
his mother and put his arms
 around her; for he
knew that if he went with the knights he must
leave her, and the mother knew that if she let
him go she must live without him.
The rooster up on
the fence crowed a very loud "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" to let everybody
know he belonged to Gauvain; and a little chick that
had lost its mother cried, "Peep! peep!" And when the
mother heard this, she answered the knights and said:—
spare my good child from my home. The king's love
is precious; but I love my child more than the
whole world, and he is dearer to me than a
Little Gauvain was so glad when he heard her
answer that he looked again at the knights with a
smiling face, and waved his hand to them as they
rode away. All day and all night they rode, and
it was the peep of day when they came to
the king's highway. Then they rode slowly, for they were
sad because of their news; but the king rejoiced when
he heard it, for he
 said: "Such a child, with
such a mother, will grow into a knight at home."
king's words were true; for when the king was an
old, old man, Gauvain rode to his court and was
Gauvain had a beautiful name of his own then, for
he was called "Gauvain the Good"; and he was brave,
happy, kind, pure, and true. And he was beloved by
all the people in the world, but most of all
by his mother.