Friday, 22 April 2016

DOES THE KING'S HORSE RING A BELL WITH ANYONE...?



One day back in the late '60s, my father brought home a
book for me which contained various children's stories.  The
book wasn't new, so he'd most likely bought it in a jumble sale
or 'The Barras'.  Amongst the tales within its pages were The
Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Little Red Hen, one about
two kids looking after a hedgehog, and The King's Horse
(Or it may've been The King's Bell.)  There were others
of course, but those are the ones I remember.

My favourite story was The King's Horse (or Bell), which
was about a King who installed a bell in the town square, for
any of his subjects to ring in order to obtain justice in matters
where they had been wronged.  The way I remember it, the King
had a horse who, when it was no longer of use to him, was turned
out into the street to fend for itself.  One cold winter's night, the
bell is heard ringing in the square, and when the King turns up to
see who needs his help, is ashamed to see that he himself is the
guilty party, is overcome with remorse, and the horse re-
turns to its comfy stable to live happily ever after.

The tale is based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's
poem The Bell Of Atri, which has been rewritten as a prose
story more than once, I believe.  However, in the original ver-
sion, the horse doesn't belong to the King, but a knight (or sol-
dier), so I'm left to wonder if I might be mis-remembering the
details, or a little artistic license had been taken with events in
order to provide an ironic ending to the tale.  (Y'know, King
who wants justice for others is himself guilty of inflicting
an injustice on another - in this case his horse.)

So Criv-ites, the call goes out.  Have any of you ever
read the version I remember, or owned the book of which
I speak?  If any of you actually have the book, I'd be pre-
pared to purchase it for a more than reasonable price.
You know where the comments section is.

2 comments:

Norman said...

That's a new one on me Kid
For those, like me, driven to find it, try this

Kid said...

Thanks for providing that link for others, Norman - I should have done that myself. You should also read Longfellow's poem of the same name - I think you'll enjoy it. Here's the link:

http://www.hwlongfellow.org/poems_poem.php?pid=2050

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