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EDWARD IV.—THE STORY OF QUEEN MARGARET AND THE ROBBERS
 IT was in 1461 A.D. that the people chose Edward IV. as
their King, and so there were two kings in England—Henry
VI. the head of the Red Rose, and Edward IV. the head of the
White Rose party.
There could be no peace in the country so long as there were
two kings each claiming the throne, so, without waiting to
be crowned, Edward marched to meet the Red Rose army and to
fight for the crown.
On a cold, bleak day in March the two forces met at Towton
in Yorkshire, and fought amid a wild storm of wind and snow.
For ten hours the battle raged. The white snow was stained
and the river which flowed near ran red with blood, till it
seemed as if the earth and the sky had taken sides with the
red and white roses. Never since Hastings had such a
terrible battle been fought on English ground.
The White Rose was victorious. Henry's cause seemed utterly
lost and he and his wife and their little son fled to
If Henry had been left to himself he would have given up
fighting for the crown, for he loved quiet and peace. But
Queen Margaret loved power and would not rest until she had
again won the kingdom. She got help
 from the French king and
in three years was back in England once more.
But Edward and the great Earl of Warwick, who had helped to
put Edward upon the throne, were too strong for Margaret,
and she was utterly defeated.
Without a single friend or servant, Margaret and her little
son, who was now about eleven years old, fled into the
forest to hide. The night came on, it grew dark, and they
lost their way among the winding paths. Hungry and tired,
they did not know which way to turn. Afraid to stop, afraid
to go on, starting and shrinking at every sound, they clung
to each other trembling.
Presently they heard men's voices and saw the glimmer of a
fire. Margaret whispered to her little son to be very, very
still, as they crept near to find out who these people were,
whether friends or enemies.
Hidden by the trees, the Queen and her little boy came quite
close to the fire and stood listening and watching.
In a few minutes they found out that these men were robbers.
Holding the Prince tight by the hand, Queen Margaret made
ready to run away. But suddenly one of the robbers looked
towards them. He saw the glitter of jewels in the firelight.
With a cry he made a spring at the Queen and, in spite of
her screams and struggles, she was dragged into the circle
round the fire.
"Ah, ah, what have we here?" cried one robber.
"A fine prize, truly," said another.
"Here is gold enough," said a third, roughly pulling at the
chain round Margaret's neck.
"Come, lady, we will have all these things," he went on,
pointing to her jewels.
The Queen began to take off her rings and jewels, for she
was very much afraid. But one robber pushed the
 other aside.
"Let be," he said, "the prize is mine. I took her."
"Nay, nay, share and share alike."
"It is mine, I say."
"I took her, I say, it is mine."
So the robbers began to quarrel fiercely about the treasure,
and while they quarrelled, Margaret took the Prince in her
arms and ran away.
Where she ran she did not know. On and on she went, stumbling
through the dark forest. At last, breathless and weary,
unable to go another step, she sank down on a grassy bank.
Scarcely had she done so when another robber appeared.
Seeing no escape, Margaret went towards this robber putting
the little Prince into his arms, "Friend," she said, "take
care of him, he is the son of your true King."
The hard, rough man, accustomed only to murder and rob, felt
sorry for the poor, tired lady and her little boy. He held
the Prince in his arms saying, "Lady, I will not hurt you.
Come with me and I will show you where you can rest safely."
The robber led the Queen and Prince through the forest till
he came to his secret cave. There he fed them and kept them
safe for some days, and at last took them to the shore,
where they found a ship in which to sail over the sea.
But King Henry was not so fortunate. He escaped and hid in
various places for nearly a year, but he was discovered at
last and taken prisoner to London.
As he rode a prisoner into the city, he was met by the Earl
of Warwick, and the poor unfortunate King was made to ride
through the streets like a common criminal, with his feet
tied under his horse. Then he was shut up in the Tower of