Hynde Horn by Mary MacGregor
Hynde Horn was a little prince. It was because he was so
courteous, so kind a little lad that Prince Horn was always
called Hynde Horn. For hend or hynde in the days of long ago
meant just all the beautiful things which these words, courteous,
kind, mean in these days.
Hynde Horn lived a happy life in his home in the distant East.
For it was in the bright glowing land of the sun that his father,
King Allof, reigned.
The Queen Godylt loved her little son too well to spoil him. She
wished him to learn to share his toys, to play his games with
Thus, much to the delight of little Prince Horn, two boys, almost
as old as he was, came to live with him in the palace. Athulph
and Fykenyld were their names.
They were merry playmates for the little prince, and, as the
years rolled by, Athulph and Fykenyld thought there was no one to
equal their prince Hynde Horn. They would serve him loyally when
he was king and they were men.
All went well in the palace of this far-off eastern land until
Hynde Horn was fifteen years of age. Then war came, without
warning, into this country of blue sky and blazing sun.
Mury, King of the Turks, landed in the kingdom of King Allof, who
was all unprepared for fight. And King Mury, with his fierce
soldiers, pillaged the land, killed the good King Allof, seized
his crown, and placed it on his own head.
Then poor Queen Godylt fled from the palace, taking with her
Hynde Horn and his two playmates Prince Athulph and Prince
I cannot tell you what became of the beautiful queen, but Mury,
the cruel king, captured Hynde Horn and made him and his two
What should he do with Prince Horn, who was heir to the kingdom
he had seized?
Should he kill the lad, he wondered. Yet cruel as King Mury was,
he could not do so dastardly a deed.
But Hynde Horn was tall and strong, and Hynde Horn was loved by
the people. He must certainly be sent out of the country.
So King Mury planned, and King Mury plotted, and at length he
thought of a way, by which he hoped to be for ever rid of the
gallant prince and his two companions.
He ordered the prisoners to be brought down to the seashore, and
there the lads were thrust into an open boat, and pushed out to
sea. It seemed as though they must perish, for King Mury had
given orders that no provisions were to be placed in the boat.
There was neither helm nor oar for the little craft. The lads
could do nothing to guide her on her dangerous course. Now they
would drift gently on the swell of the quiet sea, now they would
whirl giddily on the crest of a storm-tossed wave. Faint and
weary grew Hynde Horn and his two companions. It seemed to them
that they would perish from hunger or be devoured by the storm.
Yet every day the little boat was drifted by soft breezes or
driven by wild storm-clouds westward and always westward. At
length one day a great wave came and lifted it high up on to the
coast. The boys had reached Scotland, the country over which King
Now it chanced that King Alymer was passing along the sea-coast,
and seeing the lads lying there, pale and bruised, he ordered
that they should be carried to the palace, that they might be fed
and that their wounds might be bathed.
So carefully were they tended in the palace of King Alymer that
soon roses bloomed again on the cheeks of Hynde Horn and his two
companions, strength crept back to their bruised bodies.
Ere many weeks had passed all in the palace loved Hynde Horn and
knew that he was a prince worthy of his name.
When the prince was well, King Alymer listened to the story the
lad had to tell, the story of his ruined home, his lost kingdom,
his suffering at the hands of the cruel King Mury.
And King Alymer, for he was gentle at heart, shed a tear as he
'Thou shalt stay at our court, Hynde Horn,' he said, 'and learn
all that a prince should learn. Then, when thou art older, thou
shalt go to war with Mury, the cruel king of the Turks. Thou
shalt win back thine own kingdom and rule over it.'
Then the king called for Athelbras, his steward, and bade him
care for Prince Horn and his two companions.
A suite of rooms was given to the prince in the palace, and here
he and his playfellows were trained in all courtly ways.
When his studies were over, Hynde Horn would go out to hawk and
hunt. Often, too, he would wrestle and tilt with his companions,
so that in days to come he would be able to take his place in
battle and in tournament.
But one day King Alymer heard the young prince's voice as he
sang. So pure, so sweet rang the voice that the king said to
himself, 'Hynde Horn shall be trained by the best harpist in our
Then happy days began for the young prince. Rather would he sing,
as he touched softly the cords of the harp, than would he fight
or tilt; rather would he sing and play, than go to hunt and hawk.
Yet well had he loved these sports in former days.
Now, King Alymer had one daughter, the Princess Jean. Dearly did
the king love his daughter, and ofttimes he stroked her hair and
wished that she had a playfellow to cheer her in his absence. For
when the king would journey from city to city to see that justice
and right ruled throughout the land, his child was left alone.
But now that Hynde Horn and his companions had come, the king
knew that the Princess Jean would no longer be dull while he was
She, too, in the early days after the prince came to the palace,
would ride to hunt and hawk, Hynde Horn by her side. And later
she would listen as he talked to her of his beautiful home under
the eastern sky, of his dear lost mother, Godylt, and his father,
King Allof, who was slain by the cruel Mury.
She would listen, her eyes dim with tears, for she knew how well
he had loved his home in the far-off East.
But her eyes would flash as he told of the cruel King Mury, and
of how one day he would go back to his kingdom and win it from
the hand of the evil king.
Her eyes would flash and her heart would beat, yet when she was
alone she would weep. For what would she do if Hynde Horn went
away to the far East and she was left alone? To the Princess Jean
it seemed that the palace would be empty were Prince Horn no
longer dwelling there.
Well, the years rolled on and Hynde Horn was no longer a boy,
Princess Jean no longer a girl. They both had changed in many
ways, but in one way both were still as they had been when they
were boy and girl together. They had loved each other then, they
loved each other now. So well did they love one another that they
went to King Alymer and told him that they wished to marry, and
that without delay.
Now the king was well pleased that Hynde Horn should marry his
beautiful daughter the Princess Jean, but he was not willing that
the wedding should be at once.
'Thou must wait, my daughter,' said the king; 'thou must wait to
wed Hynde Horn until he has journeyed to the far East and won
back the kingdom Mury so unjustly wrested from him. Then, when he
has shown himself as brave as he is courteous, then shall the
wedding be without delay.'
Thus it was that a few days later Hynde Horn and Princess Jean
stood together to say farewell one to another. Hynde Horn was
going away to win his spurs, to show himself worthy of the lady
whom he loved.
Before he left her, he gave her a beautiful silver wand, and on
the wand were perched seven living larks. They would warble to
the Princess Jean when Hynde Horn was no longer near to sing to
her, as had been his wont, in his soft sweet voice.
And the Princess Jean drew from her own finger a ring, and seven
diamonds shone therein. She placed it on the finger of her dear
Hynde Horn, and said, 'As long as the diamonds in this ring flash
bright, thou wilt know I love thee as I do now. Should the gleam
of the diamonds fade and grow dim, thou wilt know, not that my
love grows less, for that may never be, but thou wilt know that
evil hath befallen me.'
Then sadly they parted and Hynde Horn, the ring on his finger,
hastened down to the shore. Swiftly he embarked in the ship that
awaited him, and sailed away. On and on for many a long day he
sailed, until he reached the kingdom which Mury the king had
seized when he killed King Allof.
Here Hynde Horn warred against King Mury until he overcame him
and won again the kingdom of the East for himself, the rightful
heir. And the people over whom he ruled rejoiced, for Hynde Horn,
though he no longer was prince but king, did not forget his kind
and courteous ways.
For seven years King Horn ruled in this distant land, doing many
a deed of daring meanwhile, and winning both gold and glory for
Ofttimes during these long years he would glance at the diamond
ring which the Princess Jean had given to him, and always the
diamonds flashed back bright. Then one day, when his work was
over and he knew he was free to go again to the princess, his
heart wellnigh stopped for fear. He had looked downward at his
ring, and lo! the diamonds were dull and dim. Their lustre had
The Princess Jean must be in trouble, or already evil had
Hynde Horn hastened down to the seashore, and there he hired a
ship to sail speedily to Scotland, where King Alymer ruled.
The ship sailed swiftly, yet the days seemed long to King Horn.
Oft he would gaze at his ring, but only to find the diamonds
growing always more dull, more dim. Hynde Horn longed as he had
never longed before to be once more beside the Princess Jean that
he might guard her from all harm.
Fair blew the wind, onward sailed the ship, and at length Hynde
Horn saw land, and knew that he was drawing near to Scotland.
A little later he had reached the coast and had begun his journey
towards the palace.
As he hastened on, King Horn met a beggar man.
'Old man,' cried Hynde Horn, 'I have come from far across the
sea. Tell me what news there is in this country, for it is many a
long day since I have been in Scotland.'
'There is little news,' said the beggar, 'little news, for we
dwell secure under our gracious King Alymer. To be sure, in the
palace there is rejoicing. The feast has already been spread for
forty days and more. To-day is the wedding-day of the king's
daughter, the Princess Jean.'
Ah, now Hynde Horn understood why his diamonds had grown dull and
dim. His beautiful princess had not forgotten him. Of that he was
quite sure. But King Alymer and his people had grown weary of
waiting for his return. Seven years had seemed a long, long time,
and now the king was anxious that his daughter should marry and
wait no longer for the return of Hynde Horn.
And, but this King Horn did not know, Fykenyld, his old
companion, loved the princess, and had wooed her long and was
waiting to marry her. False to Hynde Horn was Fykenyld, for ever
did he say, 'Hynde Horn is dead,' or 'Hynde Horn hath forgotten
the Princess Jean,' or 'Hynde Horn hath married one of the
dark-haired princesses in the far-off East.' And never did he
leave the palace to go in search of his old playfellow, whom he
had once longed to serve.
Now King Alymer had listened to Fykenyld's words, and though he
did not believe Hynde Horn would forget his daughter, he did
believe that Hynde Horn might be dead. Thus it was that he
commanded Princess Jean to look no longer for the return of Hynde
Horn, but without more delay to marry Prince Fykenyld.
And the princess, pale and sad, worn out by long waiting,
promised to look no more for Hynde Horn. To please her father and
his people, she even promised to marry Hynde Horn's old
playfellow, Prince Fykenyld.
Ah, but had they only known, King Horn was already hastening
towards the palace. Already he had learned that the wedding had
not yet taken place.
Now he was speaking to the beggar again, quickly, impatiently.
'Old man, lend me your torn and tattered coat. Thou shalt have my
scarlet cloak in its place. Thy staff, too, I must have. Instead
of it thou shalt have my horse.'
You see the young king had made up his mind to go to the palace
dressed as a beggar.
But the old man was puzzled. Could the young prince from across
the sea really wish to dress in his torn rags? Well, it was a
strange wish, but right glad would he be to have the scarlet
cloak, the gallant steed.
When King Horn had donned his disguise, he cried, 'Tell me now,
how dost thou behave thyself when thou comest to the palace to
'Ah, sir,' said the old man, 'thou must not walk thus upright.
Thou must not look all men boldly in the face. As thou goest up
the hill, thou must lean heavily on thy staff, thou must cast
thine eyes low to the ground. When thou comest to the gate of the
palace, thou must tarry there until the hour for the king to
dine. Then mayest thou go to the great gate and ask an alms for
the sake of St. Peter and St. Paul, but none shalt thou take from
any hand, save from the hand of the young bride herself.'
Hynde Horn thanked the old beggar man, and, bidding him farewell,
set off up the hill toward the palace gate. And no one looking at
him in the tattered coat, bending half double over his staff, no
one could have guessed that this beggar man was the brave and
courteous Hynde Horn.
Now when at length King Horn reached the palace gate, the wedding
feast was spread.
Princess Jean was sitting on the throne beside her father, Prince
Fykenyld on her other side, smiling to himself.
He would soon be wedded to the princess, he thought, and in days
to come he would reign with her over King Alymer's wide domains.
Fykenyld had no thought to spare for his old playmate, save to be
glad that he had never returned from the far East to claim his
But though seven long years had rolled away, Princess Jean had
not forgotten Hynde Horn. Forgotten! Nay, day and night he was in
her thought, in her heart. Yet was she sure that he would never
It is true that in her despair she had yielded to her father's
wishes; she had promised to wed Prince Fykenyld that very day. It
was no wonder then that she sat on the throne sad at heart, pale
Hynde Horn had knocked at the palace gate. It was no humble
beggar's rap he gave, but a bold, impatient knock. King Horn had
forgotten for the moment that he was only a beggar man.
The palace gate was flung wide. One of the noble guests had
arrived, thought the porter. But when he saw a beggar standing
before him, he wellnigh slammed the gate in the poor man's face.
Before he could do this Hynde Horn spoke, and his voice made the
porter pause to listen, so sweet, so soft it was. It brought back
to the rough old man the thought of Hynde Horn, for he had been
used to speak in just such a tone.
The porter cleared his voice, wiped his eyes, for he, as all
others who dwelt in the palace, had loved Hynde Horn, and grieved
sorely for his absence.
For the sake of Hynde Horn it was that the porter listened to the
beggar man's request.
'I have come to ask for alms, yet will I take them from none save
from the hand of the Princess Jean herself, and from across the
sea,' said the beggar man.
Still hearing the sound of the lost prince's voice, the porter
bade the beggar wait, and stealing up into the hall unnoticed, he
passed through the crowd of gay lords and ladies until he reached
'Drink,' she said gently, 'drink'
'A beggar from across the sea begs alms, yet none will he have
save from the hand of the Princess Jean herself,' said the porter
boldly. Then—for he had known the princess from the time that
she was only a tiny little girl—then he added in a whisper: 'The
man hath a voice soft and sweet as that of our lost Prince Horn.'
Princess Jean heard, and not a moment did she pause.
She stepped down from the throne, took a cup of red wine in her
hand, and heeding not the astonished stare of lord and lady, she
hastened out to the palace gate.
Very beautiful she looked in her long white robe, her gold combs
glinting in her hair.
'Drink,' she said gently, as she stood before the beggar, 'drink,
and then haste to tell me what tidings thou dost bring from
across the sea.'
The beggar took the cup of wine and drank. As he handed back the
cup to the princess he dropped into it the diamond ring, which
had been dull and dim for many a long day now.
Princess Jean saw the ring. She knew it was the very one she had
given to Hynde Horn. Her heart bounded. Now at least she would
hear tidings of her long-lost love.
'Oh tell me, tell me quick,' she cried, 'where didst thou find
this ring? Was it on the sea or in a far-off country that thou
didst find it, or was it on the finger of a dead man? Tell me, oh
tell me quick!' cried the Princess Jean.
'Neither by sea nor by land did I find the ring,' answered the
beggar, 'nor on a dead man's hand. It was given to me by one who
loved me well, and I, I give it back to her on this her
wedding-day.' As Hynde Horn spoke he stood up, straight and tall,
and looked straight into the eyes of the Princess Jean.
Then, in a flash, she understood. In spite of the tattered coat,
she knew her own Hynde Horn.
Her pale cheeks glowed, her dim eyes shone.
'Hynde Horn!' she cried, 'my own Hynde Horn, I will never let
thee leave me again. I will throw away my golden combs, I will
put on my oldest gown, and I will come with thee, and together we
will beg for bread.'
King Horn smiled, and his voice was soft as he answered, 'No need
is there to take the gold combs from thy hair or to change thy
white robe for one less fair. This is thy wedding-day, and I have
come to claim my bride.' And King Horn flung aside the old torn
coat, and the Princess Jean saw that beneath the rags Hynde Horn
was clothed as one of kingly rank.
Then throughout the palace the tidings spread, 'Hynde Horn hath
come back, Hynde Horn hath come back, and now is he king of his
And that very day King Horn was wedded to the beautiful Princess
Jean, with her father's blessing, and amid the rejoicings of the
And Prince Fykenyld slunk away, ashamed to look his old playmate
in the face.
Not many months passed ere King Horn and Queen Jean sailed away
to reign together in the far East. And never again in the years
to come did the diamonds on King Horn's ring grow dull or dim.