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her finger, and placing it on a stand before him, for so great was the
terror of contagion from those afflicted with leprosy, that even the
affectionate mother of Bladud avoided the touch of her child, - "this
ring was wrought by the master-hand of a Druid, a skillful worker in
precious stones, within the sacred circle of Stonehenge. It was placed
upon my finger before the mystic altar, when I became the wife of the
king, your father, and was saluted by the Arch-Druid as Queen of
Britain. In the whole world, there is not another like unto it; and,
should you bring it back to me, by that token shall I know you to be my
son, even though the lapse of thrice ten years shall have passed away,
and the golden locks of my princely boy shall be darkened with toil and
time, and no longer wave over a smooth, unfurrowed brow."


The unfortunate Bladud, having carefully suspended his mother's ring
about his neck, bade her a tearful farewell, and slowly and sorrowfully
pursued his lonely way across the hills and downs of that part of
England which is now called Somersetshire.

Evening was closing in before Bladud met with a single creature to show
him the slightest compassion. At length, he was so fortunate as to
encounter a shepherd-boy, who appeared in scarcely less distress than
himself; for one of the sheep belonging to his flock had fallen into a
ditch, the sides of which were so steep that he was unable to pull it
out without assistance.

"Stranger," said he, addressing the outcast prince, "if ever you hope
to obtain pity from others, I beseech you to lend me your aid, or I
shall be severely punished by my master, for suffering this sheep to
fall into the ditch."

Bladud required no second entreaty, but hastily divesting himself of
his princely garments, assisted the boy in extricating the sheep from
the water. The grateful youth bestowed upon him, in return, a share of
his coarse supper of oaten cakes. Bladud, who had not broken his fast
since the morning, ate this with greater relish than he had often felt
for the dainties of which he had been accustomed to partake at his
father's board.

It was a fine and lovely evening; the birds were singing their evening
song; and a delicious fragrance was diffused from the purple heath and
the blooming wild flowers. The sheep gathered round their youthful
keeper; and he took up a rustic pipe, made from the reeds that overhung
the margin of a neighboring rivulet, and played a merry tune, quite
forgetful of his past trouble.

Bladud saw that a peasant boy, while engaged in the performance of his
duties, might be as happy as a prince. Contentment and industry
sweeten every lot, while useless repining only tends to aggravate the
hardships to which it is the will of God that the human family should
be exposed.

"You appear very happy," said Bladud to his new friend.

"How should I be otherwise?" replied the shepherd-boy: "I have
wherewithal to eat and to drink; I have strength to labor, and health
to enjoy my food. I sleep soundly on my bed of rushes after the toils
of the day; and my master never punishes me except for carelessness or

"I wish I were a shepherd-boy, also," said the prince: "can you tell me
of some kind master, who would employ me to feed his flocks on these

The shepherd-boy shook his head, and replied, "You are a stranger lad
from some distant town; most probably, by your fine painted dress, the
runaway son of some great person, and unacquainted with any sort of
useful occupation. Let me hear what you can do to get an honest

Bladud blushed deeply. He had been accustomed to spend his time in
idle sports with the sons of the chieftains, and had not acquired the
knowledge of anything likely to be of service in his present situation.
He was silent for some minutes, but at length replied, "I can brighten
arrows, string bows, and shoot at a mark."

Math, the shepherd-boy, advised his new companion, in his rustic
language, not to mention these accomplishments to the peaceful herdsmen
of Caynsham, (as the spot where this conference took place is now
called,) lest it should create a prejudice against him; "neither,"
continued he, "would I counsel you to sue for service in a suit of this
fashion." He laid his sunburnt hand, as he spoke, on Bladud's painted
vest, lined with the fur of squirrels, which was only worn by persons
of royal rank.

"Will you, for charity's sake, then, exchange your sheep-skin coat for
my costly garments?" asked Bladud.

"Had you not so kindly helped me to pull my sheep out of the ditch, I
would have said to you nay," replied Math; "but as one good turn
deserves another, I will even give you my true shepherd's suit for your
finery." So saying, he exchanged suits with the young prince.

"And now," said Bladud, "do you think I may venture to ask one of the
herdsmen of the valley to trust me with the care of a flock?"

"Trust you with the care of a flock, forsooth!" cried Math, laughing;
"I wonder at your presumption in thinking of such a thing, when you
confess yourself ignorant of all the duties of a shepherd-boy!"

"They are very simple, and can easily be learned, I should think," said

"Ay," replied Math, "or you had not seen them practiced by so simple a
lad as Math, the son of Goff. But as all learners must have a
beginning, I would not have you aspire at first to a higher office than
that of a swineherd's boy; for remember, as no one knows who you are,
or whence you come, you must not expect to obtain much notice from
those who are the possessors of flocks and herds."

Bladud sighed deeply at this remark; but as he felt the truth of what
Math said, he did not evince any displeasure at his plain speaking.
He, therefore, mildly requested Math to recommend him to some master
who would give him employment.

Math happened to know an aged swineherd who was in want of a lad of
Bladud's age to attend on his pigs. He accordingly introduced his new
friend, Bladud, as a candidate for that office; and his mild and sedate
manners so well pleased the old man, that he immediately took him into
his service.

Bladud at first felt the change of his fortunes very keenly, for he had
been delicately fed and nurtured, and surrounded by friends, servants,
and busy flatterers. He was now far separated from all who knew and
loved him; exposed to wind and weather, heat and cold, and compelled to
endure every species of hardship. He had no other bed than straw or
rushes; his food was far worse than that which is now eaten by the
poorest peasants, who deem their lot so hard; and he was clothed in
undressed sheep-skins, from which the wool had been shorn. His drink
was only water from the brook, and his whole time was occupied in his
attendance on the swine.

At the earliest peep of dawn he was forced to rise, and lead forth into
the fields and woods a numerous herd of grunting swine in quest of
food, and there to remain till the shades of evening compelled him to
drive them to the shelter of the rude sheds built for their
accommodation, round the wretched hovel wherein his master dwelt.
Bladud was sure to return weary and hungry, and often wet and
sorrowful, to his forlorn home. Yet he did not murmur, though
suffering at the same time under a most painful, and, as he supposed,
an incurable disease.

He endeavored to bear the hardships of his lot with patience, and he
derived satisfaction from the faithful performance of the duties which
he had undertaken, irksome as they were. The greatest pain he endured,
next to his separation from his parents, was the discovery that several
of his master's pigs were infected with the same loathsome disease
under which he was laboring; and this he feared would draw upon him the
displeasure of the old herdsman.

But the leprosy, and its contagious nature, were evils unknown to the
herdsmen of Caynsham, or Bladud would never have been able to obtain
employment there. His master was an aged man, nearly blind, who, being
convinced of the faithful disposition of his careful attendant, left
the swine entirely to his management; so the circumstance of several of
the most valuable of them being infected with leprosy, was never
suspected by him. Bladud continued to lead them into the fields and
forests in quest of their daily food, without incurring either question
or reproach from him, or, indeed, from any one, for it was a
thinly-inhabited district, and there were no gossiping neighbors to
bring the tale of trouble to the old herdsman.

But though Bladud's misfortune remained undetected, he was seriously
unhappy, for he felt himself to be the innocent cause of bringing the
infection of a sore disease among his master's swine. He would have
revealed the whole matter to him, only that he feared the evil could
not now be cured.

From day to day he led his herd deeper into the forests, and further
a-field; for he wished to escape the observation of every eye.
Sometimes, indeed, he did not bring them back to the herdsmen's
enclosure above once in a week. In the meantime he slept at night,
surrounded by his uncouth companions, under the shade of some
wide-spreading oak of the forest, living like them, upon acorns, or the
roots of the pig-nuts, which grew in the woods and marshes, and were,
when roasted, sweet and mealy, like potatoes, with the flavor of the
chestnut. These were dainties in comparison to the coarse, black
unleavened cakes on which poor Bladud had been used to feed ever since
his unhappy banishment.

The old herdsman was perfectly satisfied with Bladud's management of
the swine, and glad to find that he took the trouble of leading them
into fresh districts for change of food, of which swine are always

So Bladud continued to penetrate into new and untrodden solitudes with
his grunting charge, till one day he saw the bright waters of the river
Avon sparkling before him in the early beams of the morning sun. He
felt a sudden desire of crossing this pleasant stream. It was the
fruitful season of autumn, and the reddening acorns, with which the
rich oaken groves that crowned the noble hills on the opposite side
were laden, promised an abundant feast for his master's swine, of whose
wants he was always mindful.

He would not, however, venture to lead them across the river without
first returning to acquaint his master, for he had already been abroad
more than a week. So he journeyed homeward, and reached his master's
hovel, with his whole herd, in safety. He then reported to the good
old man, that he had wandered to the side of a beautiful river, and
beheld from its grassy banks a rich and smiling country, wherein, he
doubted not, that the swine would find food of the best kind, and in
great abundance. "Prithee, master," quoth he, "suffer me to drive the
herd across that fair stream, and if aught amiss befall them, it shall
not be for want of due care and caution on the part of your faithful

"Thou art free to lead the herd across the fair stream of which thou
speakest, my son," replied the herdsman, "and may the blessing of an
old man go with them and thee; for surely thou hast been faithful and
wise in all thy doings since thou hast been my servant."

That very day he set out once more to the shores of the silvery Avon,
and crossed it with the delighted pigs, at a shallow spot, which has
ever since that time, in memory thereof, been called Swinford, or

No sooner, however, had they reached the opposite shore, than the whole
herd set off, galloping and scampering, one over the other, as if they
had one and all been seized with a sudden frenzy. No less alarmed than
astonished at their sudden flight, Bladud followed them at his quickest
speed, and beheld them rapidly descending into a valley, towards some
springs of water, that seemed to ooze out of the boggy land in its
bottom, amidst rushes, weeds, and long rank grass. Into this swamp the
pigs rushed headlong, and here they rolled and reveled, tumbling,
grunting, and squeaking, and knocking each other head over heels, with
evident delight, but to the utter astonishment of Bladud, who was
altogether unconscious of the instinct by which the gratified animals
had been impelled.

All the attempts which Bladud made to, drive or entice them from this
spot were entirely useless. They continued to wallow in their miry
bed, until at length the calls of hunger induced them to seek the woods
for food; but after they had eaten a hearty meal of acorns, they
returned to the swamp, to the increasing surprise of Bladud. As for
his part, having taken a supper of coarse black bread and roasted
acorns, he sought shelter for the night in the thick branches of a
large oak-tree.

Now poor Bladud was not aware that, guided by superior Wisdom, he had,
unknown to himself, approached a spot wherein there existed a
remarkable natural peculiarity. This was no other than some warm,
springs of salt water, which ooze out of the earth, and possess certain
medicinal properties which have the effect of curing various diseases,
and on which account they are sought by afflicted persons even to the
present day.


Bladud awoke with the first beams of morning, and discovered his
grunting charge still actively wallowing in the oozy bed in which they
had taken such unaccountable delight on the preceding day.

Bladud, however, who was accustomed to reason and to reflect on
everything he saw, had often observed that the natural instinct of
animals prompted them to do such things as were most beneficial to
them. He had noticed that cats and dogs, when sick, had recourse to
certain herbs and grasses, which proved effectual remedies for the
malady under which they labored; and he thought it possible that pigs
might be endowed with a similar faculty of discovering an antidote for
disease. At all events he resolved to watch the result of their
revelings in the warm ooze bath, wherein they continued to wallow,
between whiles, for several days.

The wisdom of this proceeding was shortly manifested; for Bladud soon
observed that a gradual improvement was taking place in the appearance
of the swine.

The leprous scales fell off by degrees, and in the course of a few
weeks the leprosy gradually disappeared, and the whole herd being
cleansed, was restored to a sound and healthy state.

The heart of the outcast prince was buoyant with hope and joy when the
idea first presented itself to his mind, that the same simple remedy
which had restored the infected swine might be equally efficacious in
his own case. Divesting himself of his humble clothing and elate with
joy and hope, he plunged into the warm salt ooze bed, wherein his pigs
had reveled with so much advantage.

He was soon sensible of an abatement of the irritable and painful
symptoms of his loathsome malady; and, in a short time, by persevering
in the use of the remedy which the natural sagacity of his humble
companions had suggested, he became wholly cured of the leprosy and was
delighted to find himself restored to health and vigor.

After bathing, and washing away in the river the stains of the ooze, he
first beheld the reflection of his own features in the clear mirror of
the stream. He perceived that his skin, which had been so lately
disfigured by foul blotches and frightful scales, so as to render him
an object of abhorrance to his nearest and dearest friends, was now
smooth, fair, and clear.

"Oh, my mother!" he exclaimed, in the overpowering rapture of his
feelings on this discovery, "I may then hope to behold thy face once
more! and thou wilt no longer shrink from the embrace of thy son, as in
the sad, sad hour of our sorrowful parting!"

He pressed the agate ring which she had given him as her farewell token
of remembrance, to his lips and to his bosom, as he spoke; then
quitting the water, he once more arrayed himself in the miserable garb
of his lowly fortunes, and guided his master's herd homeward.

The old man, who was beginning to grow uneasy at the unwonted length of
Bladud's absence, and fearing that some accident had befallen the
swine, was about to set forth in search of him, when he heard the
approach of the noisy herd, and perceived Bladud advancing toward him.

"Is all well with thyself and with the herd my son?" inquired the old

"All is well, my father," replied Bladud, bowing himself before his
lowly master, "yea, more than well; for the blessing of the great
Disposer of all that befalleth the children of men, hath been with me.
I left you as a poor destitute, afflicted with a sore disease, that had
rendered me loathsome to my own house, and despised and shunned by all
men. I was driven forth from the dwellings of health and gladness, and
forced to seek shelter in the wilderness. From being the son of a
king, I was reduced to become the servant of one of the humblest of his
subjects, and esteemed myself fortunate in obtaining the care of a herd
of swine, that I might obtain even a morsel of coarse food, and a place
wherein to lay my head at night. But, behold, through this very thing
have I been healed of my leprosy!"

"And who art thou, my son?" demanded the old herdsman, in whose ears
the words of his youthful servant sounded like the language of a dream.

"I am Bladud, the son of Lud Hurdebras, thy king," replied the youth.
"Up - let us be going, for the time seemeth long to me, till I once more
look upon his face, and that of the queen, my mother."

"Thou hast never yet in aught deceived me, my son," observed the
herdsman, "else should I say thou wert mocking me with some wild fable;
so passing all belief doth it seem, that the son of my lord the king
should have been contented to dwell with so poor and humble a man as
myself in the capacity of a servant."

"In truth, the trial was a hard one," replied Bladud; "but I knew that
it was my duty to submit to the direction of that heavenly Guardian who
has thus shaped my lot after His good pleasure; and now do I perceive
that it was in love and mercy, as well as in wisdom, that I have been
afflicted." Bladud then proposed to his master that he should
accompany him to his father's court; to which the old herdsman, who
scarcely yet credited the assertion of his young attendant, at length
consented; and they journeyed together to the royal city.

In these days, many a mean village is in appearance a more important
place than were the royal cities wherein the ancient British kings kept
court; for these were merely large straggling enclosures, surrounded
with trenches and hedge-rows, containing a few groups of wattled huts,
plastered over with clay. The huts were built round the king's palace,
which was not itself a more commodious building than a modern barn, and
having neither chimneys nor glazed windows, must have been but a
miserable abode in the winter season.

At the period to which our story has now conducted us, it was, however,
a fine warm autumn day. King Hurdebras and his queen were therefore
dwelling in an open pavilion, formed of the trunks of trees, which were
covered over with boughs, and garlanded with wreaths of wild flowers.

Bladud and his master arrived during the celebration of a great
festival, held to commemorate the acorn-gathering, which was then
completed. All ranks and conditions of people were assembled in their
holiday attire, which varied from simple sheep-skins to the fur of
wolves, cats, and rabbits.

Among all this concourse of people, Bladud was remarked for the poverty
of his garments, which were of the rude fashion and coarse material of
those of the humblest peasant. As for the old herdsman, his master,
when he observed the little respect with which Bladud was treated by
the rude crowds who were thronging to the royal city, he began to
suspect either that the youth himself had been deluded by some strange
dream respecting his royal birth and breeding, or that for knavish
purposes he had practiced on his credulity, in inducing him to
undertake so long a journey.

These reflections put the old man into an ill humor, which was greatly
increased when, on entering the city, he became an object of boisterous
mirth and rude jest to the populace. On endeavoring to ascertain the
cause of this annoyance, he discovered that one of his most valuable
pigs, that had formed a very powerful attachment to Prince Bladud, had
followed them on their journey, and was now grunting at their very

The herdsman's anger at length broke out in words, and he bitterly
upbraided Bladud for having beguiled him into such a wild-goose
expedition. "And, as if that were not enough," quoth he, "thou couldst
not be contented without bringing thy pet pig hither, to make a fool
both of thyself and me. Why, verily, we are the laughing-stock of the
whole city."

Bladud mildly assured his master that it was through no act of his that
the pig had followed them to his father's court.

"Thy father's court, forsooth!" retorted the old man, angrily; "I do
verily believe it is all a trick which thou hast cunningly planned, for
the sake of stealing my best pig. Else why shouldst thou have
permitted it to follow thee thither?"

Bladud was prevented from replying to this unjust accusation by a
rabble of rude boys, who had gathered round them, and began to assail
the poor pig with sticks and stones. Bladud at first mildly requested
them to desist from such cruel sport; but finding that they paid no
attention to his remonstrances, he began to deal out blows, right and
left, with his stout quarter-staff, by which he kept the foremost at
bay, calling at the same time on his master to assist him in defending
the pig.

But Bladud and his master together were very unequally matched against
this lawless band of young aggressors. They certainly would have been
very roughly handled, had it not been for the unexpected aid of a
shepherd-lad who came to their assistance, and, with the help of his
faithful dog, succeeded in driving away the most troublesome of their

In this brave and generous ally, Bladud had the satisfaction of
discovering his old friend Math of the Downs. So completely, however,
was Bladud's appearance changed in consequence of his being cleansed of
the leprosy, that it was some time before he could convince Math that
he was the wretched and forlorn outcast with whom he had changed
clothes, nearly a twelvemonth before on the Somersetshire Downs.

Math, however, presently remembered his old clothes, in the sorry
remains of which Bladud was still dressed; and Bladud also pointed with
a smile to the painted vest of a British prince, in which the young
shepherd had arrayed himself to attend the festival of the
acorn-gathering. Strange to say, the generous boy had altogether
escaped infection from the clothes of his diseased prince.

Bladud now briefly explained his situation to the astonished Math, whom
he invited to join himself and his master in their visit to the royal
pavilion, in order that he might be a witness of his restoration to the
arms of his parents, and the honors of his father's court.

Math, though still more incredulous than even the old herdsman, was
strongly moved by curiosity to witness the interview. He stoutly
assisted Bladud in making his way through the crowd, who appeared
resolutely bent on impeding their progress to the royal pavilion,
which, however, they at length approached, still followed by the
persevering pig.


The last load of acorns, adorned with the faded branches of the noble
oak, and crowned with the mistletoe, a plant which the Druids taught
the ancient Britons to hold in superstitious reverence, was now borne
into the city, preceded by a band of Druids in their long white robes,
and a company of minstrels, singing songs, and dancing before the wain.
The king and queen came forth to meet the procession, and, after
addressing suitable speeches to the Druids and the people, re-entered
the pavilion, where they sat down to regale themselves.

Bladud, who had continued to press forward, now availed himself of an
opportunity of entering the pavilion behind one of the queen's favorite
ladies, whose office it was to fill her royal mistress' goblet with
mead. This lady had been Bladud's nurse, which rendered her very dear
to the queen, whom nothing could console for the loss of her son.

Bladud, concealed from observation by one of the rude pillars that
supported the roof of the building, contemplated the scene in silence,
which was broken only by the agitated beating of his swelling heart.

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