| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
HENRY III.—THE STORY OF THE POISONED DAGGER
 IN far-off Palestine the army of the crusaders lay encamped
before the town of Acre. The air was hot and stifling, the
sun seemed a ball of fire hung in the still blue sky. Having
put off his heavy armour for the sake of coolness Prince
Edward lay within his tent, wearing only a
long, loose robe of linen. He lay idle, thinking perhaps of
the mighty deeds which his great-uncle, Richard Cœur de
Lion, had done in this same place, eighty years before;
wondering, too, if he would be able to do as great things.
Presently the curtains of the doorway parted. "My lord
prince," said a soldier, bowing low, "the Emir of Jaffa hath
sent his servant yet again. He craves to be admitted to your
"I will receive him," replied the prince, and the soldier
once more left the tent.
Edward had been fighting with the Emir of Jaffa, but now,
pretending that he wished to become a Christian, this Emir
sent daily messages and presents to the prince. And the
prince, noble and honest himself, believed the Emir to be
In a few minutes the curtains of the doorway parted once
more and the Emir's dark slave crept in. He bowed himself to
the ground, then, kneeling humbly before the prince, drew
out a letter.
 Edward took the letter and, as the prince read, the slave
crouched on the ground watching him with his bright dark
eyes. Then slowly, slowly his brown hand crept to the belt
of his white dress. So slowly it crept that it seemed hardly
Suddenly, as quick as lightning, a keen bright blade flashed
in the air and fell. But Edward, too, was quick and strong.
He threw up his hand and caught upon it the blow which had
been aimed at his heart. Then, springing from the couch, he
overthrew the slave, and placing his foot upon the man's
neck, wrenched the dagger from his grasp. In another moment
the slave lay still and dead upon the sand. At the noise of
the struggle, several frightened servants came running into
the tent, and one of them, seeing the slave upon the sand,
seized a stool, and dashed his brains out.
"Foolish man," said Prince Edward, "see you not that the
slave is already dead? What you do is neither brave nor
honourable, but the action of a coward."
Prince Edward's wound was slight, but the dagger had been a
poisoned one. When his wife, the beautiful Princess Eleanor,
heard of it, she hurried to her husband's tent. Before those
about her knew what she meant to do, she knelt down and,
putting her lips to the wound, sucked it. It was said that
if the blood from a poisoned wound was sucked at once after
the wound was made, the wounded person would not die. It was
a brave thing for Princess Eleanor to do, for she might
herself have died. But she loved Edward so much that she was
willing to risk her own life. Yet the wound grew worse, and
it seemed likely that Edward would die.
He was very calm and brave, and did not fear death, but
tried to comfort his friends and servants, for they were all
 But the princess sat beside him weeping, and
would not be comforted. Then, calling for parchment and ink,
Prince Edward wrote down all that he wished to be done with
his money and lands, after he was dead. This
was called making his will.
Now a clever doctor came to the prince and said, "I think I
can cure you, only you will have to suffer a great deal of
"Do what you think best," said the prince, "and cure me if
Then the princess threw herself upon him, crying bitterly,
and would not let any one touch him. "I know you only want
to hurt him more," she sobbed, "I cannot bear it."
But Edward gently put her away, "Hush, hush," he said, and
gave her into his brother Edmund's arms.
"Do you love your lord and brother?" asked the doctor,
turning to Edmund.
"Ay, that I do," replied he.
"Then take this lady away, and do not let her lord see her
again until I tell you."
So Princess Eleanor was led away weeping.
"Ah, weep, lady," said Edmund gently. "It is better that you
should weep than that all England should mourn."
But England did not mourn, for the doctor was clever, and in
less than a fortnight Prince Edward was again quite well.
The false Emir sent messengers to Edward to say that he was
sorry that the prince had been wounded, and was glad that he
was better. But Edward no longer trusted the Emir. He looked
gravely at the messengers. "You bow before me," he said,
"but you do not love me, therefore go."
 And they were allowed to go in peace. Although Edward's
soldiers longed to be revenged upon them and kill them, the
prince would not allow it.
After this Edward did not stay long in Palestine. He heard
that his father was ill, so he made a ten years' peace with
the Sultan, as the king of the Turks is called, and sailed
back to England. On his way home he heard of his father's
death. He knew that that meant he was
now King of England, but he was very sad, for Edward had
loved his father, although he could not help knowing that in
many things he was foolish and untrustworthy.
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