: True Stories Of Wonderful Deeds
In our days, all people in our land, except prisoners, are free to go
where they will, and to do what work they please. In olden times it was
not so. Then, the poorer people were treated like slaves by the nobles;
they had to work hard for their masters, and they were not allowed to
move from one place to another without asking leave.
This was hard, and it made the people very angry. In the days of the
-king Richard II, a great many workmen made up their minds to obey
the nobles no longer. They banded themselves together in a large army,
chose a man named Wat Tyler for their leader, and marched to London.
The Mayor of London tried to stop them, by pulling up the drawbridge
which crossed the river Thames, but they forced him by threats to let it
down again. Then they rushed through the streets of London, frightening
all the people they met by their wild looks and cries. They broke open
the prisons, and set the prisoners free, and burned the palaces of the
nobles, but they killed no man and robbed none.
The nobles were much alarmed. With young King Richard at their head,
they rode out to meet this army, and to ask the people what they wanted.
"We want to be free, and we want our children to be free after us," said
"I promise you that you shall have your wish, if you will return quietly
to your homes," said the king.
At this, the people shouted with joy, and all might have been well; but
the mayor, seeing Wat Tyler raise his hand, and fearing that he was
going to strike the king, drew his sword, and killed the leader of the
Then the joyful shouts changed to cries and growls of anger. Arms were
raised, and the crowd began to press forward. In a minute the little
band of nobles would have been attacked, but the boy-king saw the
danger. Boldly riding to meet the angry people, he put himself at their
head. "What need ye, my masters?" cried he. "I am your captain and your
king. Follow me."
The crowd stopped, surprised by this bold act; the loud cries ceased,
and swords and staves were lowered. These rough men did not wish to harm
their young sovereign, but to free him from the nobles who gave him evil
counsel. They were greatly pleased to find him upon their side, and,
with perfect trust and loyalty, they followed where he led; and so for a
time the danger was past.