Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Hereward is the son of the powerful lord of Bourne, a Saxon nobleman of a family close to the throne. A high-spirited, rebellious youth, he is a source of constant worry to his mother, Lady Godiva. Hereward lacks a proper respect for the Church and its priests and lives a boisterous life with boon companions who give him their unquestioning loyalty.
One day, a friar comes to Lady Godiva and reveals that Hereward and his friends attacked him and robbed him of what the priest insists was money belonging to the Church. Lady Godiva is angry and hurt. When Hereward admits his crime to her, she says that there is no alternative but that he be declared a wake, or outlaw, for his own good. Upon Hereward’s promise not to harm his mother’s messenger—for Hereward really does not mind being outlawed, as he wishes to see more of the world—Lady Godiva sends Martin Lightfoot, a servant, to carry the news of Hereward’s deed to his father and to the king. Hereward is then declared an outlaw subject to imprisonment or death upon capture.
Before Hereward leaves his father’s house, he releases his friends from their oath of allegiance. Martin Lightfoot begs to be allowed to follow him, not as his servant but as his companion. Then Hereward sets out to live among the rude and barbarous Scottish tribes of the north. His first adventure occurs when he kills a huge bear that is threatening the life of Alftruda, ward of a knight named Gilbert of Ghent. He...
(The entire section is 1147 words.)
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