| Gabriel and the Hour Book|
|by Evaleen Stein|
|Relates the story of the making of an hour book as a wedding gift from King Louis of France to Lady Anne of Brittany and the good fortune it brought to little Gabriel, Brother Stephen's color grinder. Ages 8-10 |
THE BOOK GOES TO LADY ANNE
ND it was well that the beautiful book was finished, for
the very next afternoon a nobleman, with several
attendants, arrived at the Abbey to see if the work
were done. The nobleman was Count Henri of Lisieux, who
had been sent by King Louis to bear to Lady Anne a
precious casket of jewels as part of his bridal gifts
to her; and the count had also received orders from the
king to go to St. Martin's Abbey
 on his way, and if the book of hours were finished, to
take it along to the Lady Anne.
Count Henri was greatly pleased when they showed the
work to him, and he said that he knew both King Louis
and his bride could not help but be delighted with it.
And then, after it had been duly looked at and admired,
the book was wrapped up in a piece of soft, rich silk
and laid on a shelf in the chapter-house to wait until
the next morning, when Count Henri would take it away.
For he had come far, and the Abbot had invited him to
stay overnight in the Abbey before going on with his
While all this was taking place, and the book was being
 Gabriel had been quietly at work in one corner of the
chapter-house, grinding some gold; and when he heard
that Count Henri was going away the next morning, he
knew that if he expected to put his own little page in
the book, he must do so some time before he went home
that evening; and he did not quite see how he could
Late in the afternoon, however, a little before dusk,
all the others left the chapter-house, Brother Stephen
to go to his own cell, while the Abbot took Count Henri
out to show him over the Abbey. And just as soon as
they were gone, Gabriel hastily put down the stone
mortar in which he was grinding the gold,
 and, going over to the work-table, opened the drawer in
which he kept his own things, and took out the page on
which he had written his little prayer.
He then went to the shelf and took down the book. He
felt guilty as he unfolded the silk wrappings, and his
hands trembled as he loosened the golden clasps, and
hurriedly slipped in his piece of parchment. He put it
at the very back of the book, after Brother Stephen's
last page. Then carefully refastening the clasps,
and again folding it up in its silken cover, he
replaced the book on the shelf.
Poor Gabriel did not know whether he had done very
wrong or not in taking this liberty with
 the painted book. He only knew that he could not bear
to have it go away without his little prayer between
its covers; and he thought that now God would surely
notice it, as he had written it as nicely as he knew
how, and had placed it next to Brother Stephen's.
By this time it was growing dark, and so Gabriel left
the Abbey and took his way home. When he reached their
forlorn little cottage, he found only a scanty supper
awaiting him, and very early he went to bed; for they
had but little fire and were too poor to afford even a
single candle to burn through the long winter evening.
As Gabriel lay shivering in his cold little bed, he
 long it would be before God would grant his prayer for
help. And then he wondered if God would be displeased
because he had dared to put it in the beautiful book
without asking permission from Brother Stephen or the
Abbot. And the more he thought of the possibility of
this, and of all their other troubles, the more
miserable he felt, till at last he sobbed himself to
"Taking down the book . . . he unwrapped it and unclasped it"
The poor little boy did not know that after he himself
had been sleeping for several hours, Brother Stephen,
who had not slept, came out of his cell in the Abbey,
and, carrying in his hand a small lamp, passed softly
down the corridor and into the chapter-house. For
 like many another true artist who has worked long and
lovingly upon some exquisite thing, found it very hard
to part with that which he had made. He did not expect
ever again to see the beautiful book after it left the
Abbey, and so he felt that he must take a farewell look
at it all by himself.
As he entered the chapter-house, he set the lamp on the
table; and then taking down the book and placing it
also on the table, he unwrapped and unclasped it, and
seating himself in front of it, looked long and
earnestly at each page as he slowly turned them over,
one by one.
When at last he came to the end, and found a loose
 picked it up in dismay, wondering if his binding could
have been so badly done that one of the pages had
already become unfastened. But his look of dismay
changed to bewilderment as he examined the page more
closely, and saw Gabriel's little prayer. He read this
over twice, very slowly; and then, still holding the
page in his hand, he sat for a long time with his head
bowed; and once or twice something that looked very
like a tear fell on the stone floor at his feet.
After awhile the lamp began to burn low; and Brother
Stephen rising, gave a tender look to the loose page he
had been holding, and then carefully put it back in the
book, taking pains to place
 it, as nearly as he could, exactly as Gabriel had done.
Then, with a sigh, he shut the velvet covers, once more
fastened the golden clasps, and, replacing the silken
wrappings, laid the book on the shelf, and went back to
The next morning Count Henri and his escort made ready
for their journey to Bretagne. Count Henri himself
placed the precious book in the same velvet bag which
held the casket of jewels for the Lady Anne, and this
bag he hung over his saddle-bow directly in front of
him, so that he could keep close watch and see that no
harm befell King Louis's gifts.
And then he and his soldiers mounted their horses, and,
 a courteous leave of the Abbot and the brotherhood of
St. Martin's, they trotted off along the frosty road.
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