THE WHITE SHIP
King Henry, the Handsome Scholar, had one son, named William, whom he
dearly loved. The young man was noble and brave, and every-body hoped
that he would some day be the King of England.
One summer Prince William went with his father across the sea to look
after their lands in France. They were wel-comed with joy by all
their people there, and the young prince was so gallant and kind, that
he won the love
of all who saw him.
But at last the time came for them to go back to England. The king,
with his wise men and brave knights, set sail early in the day; but
Prince William with his younger friends waited a little while. They
had had so joyous a time in France that they were in no great haste to
tear them-selves away.
Then they went on board of the ship which was waiting to carry them
home. It was a beau-ti-ful ship with white sails and white masts, and
it had been fitted up on purpose for this voyage.
The sea was smooth, the winds were fair, and no one thought of danger.
On the ship, every-thing had been ar-ranged to make the trip a
pleasant one. There was music and dancing, and everybody was merry and
The sun had gone down before the white-winged vessel was fairly out of
the bay. But what of that? The moon was at its full, and it would give
light enough; and before the dawn of the morrow, the narrow sea would
be crossed. And so the prince, and the young people who were with him,
gave themselves up to mer-ri-ment and feasting and joy.
The ear-li-er hours of the night passed by; and then there was a cry
of alarm on deck. A moment after-ward there was a great crash. The
ship had struck upon a rock. The water rushed in. She was sinking. Ah,
where now were those who had lately been so heart-free and glad?
Every heart was full of fear. No one knew what to do. A small boat was
quickly launched, and the prince with a few of his bravest friends
leaped into it. They pushed off just as the ship was be-gin-ning to
settle beneath the waves. Would they be saved?
They had rowed hardly ten yards from the ship, when there was a cry
from among those that were left behind.
"Row back!" cried the prince. "It is my little sister. She must be
The men did not dare to disobey. The boat was again brought along-side
of the sinking vessel. The prince stood up, and held out his arms for
his sister. At that moment the ship gave a great lurch forward into
the waves. One shriek of terror was heard, and then all was still save
the sound of the moaning waters.
Ship and boat, prince and prin-cess, and all the gay com-pa-ny that
had set sail from France, went down to the bottom together. One man
clung to a floating plank, and was saved the next day. He was the only
person left alive to tell the sad story.
When King Henry heard of the death of his son his grief was more than
he could bear. His heart was broken. He had no more joy in life; and
men say that no one ever saw him smile again.
Here is a poem about him that your teacher may read to you, and
perhaps, after a while, you may learn it by heart.