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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 142



" A Pullani," exclaimed Eleanor, her curiosity at once excited. " I met many of this class in Palestine. Gomes he direct from the Holy Land ?" " Nay, he was horn in London, and except some of the characteristics of his wily race, is as good a Christian as ever attended mass. His father, Guilbert Becket, was taken captive in the first crusade, and confined in the palace of an emir. The daughter of the Infidel fell vio-lently in love with the young Christian, liberated him by night, and pawned her jewels to a band of roving pirates, to engage them to convey him safe to Europe. Thither she followed him through a great variety of dangers, re-plying only 'London,' 'Guilbert,' to all who questioned her. These two magic words brought her to the metropolis, where she found the object of her search. She was bap-tized by the Saxon name of Matilda, and Becket rewarded her devotion by marrying her. Thomas à Becket was their only son. He passed his childhood under the care of the canons of Morton ; he has studied in the schools of Oxford and Paris, frequented the lectures on Philosophy at Bologna, been bred in a thorough knowledge of the civil and canon law, has visited Borne, stands high in the favor of pope and primate, and with all these qualifications," added Henry, in a tone of exultation, "he is not a priest." Eleanor was delighted with the story, and Becket was im-mediately installed as tutor of Prince Henry. Becket's romantic origin, affable manners, but more especially his nice tact in exhibiting intelligence or ignorance, according to the demands of delicate emergencies, recommended him at once to the favor of both king and queen. The princi-pal residences of the royal family were Westminster palace, Winchester, and the country palace of Woodstock, the favorite abode of Henry Beauclerk and Matilda the good. In this charming retirement, Eleanor amused herself and the ladies of her court, with mysteries and mummeries, contrived and acted by the priests and parish clerks. Even the miracles of the holy volume were degraded from their sacred character, and made the subjects of ELEANOR. 151


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