It started, directly, in the London palace of Henry III, and was the result of a quarrel between the King and his powerful brother-in-law, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester.
But on this June day in the year of our Lord 1243, Henry so forgot himself as to very unjustly accuse De Montfort of treason in the presence of a number of the King's gentlemen.
My Lord King," he cried, "that you be my Lord King alone prevents Simon de Montfort from demanding satisfaction for such a gross insult.
Henry, flushing in mortification and anger, rose to advance upon De Montfort, but suddenly recollecting the power which he represented, he thought better of whatever action he contemplated, and with a haughty sneer turned to his courtiers.
As the arras fell behind the departing King, De Montfort shrugged his broad shoulders, and turning, left the apartment by another door.
So he let De Vac assume to his mind's eye the person of the hated De Montfort, and it followed that De Vac was nearly surprised into an early and mortifying defeat by the King's sudden and clever attack.
Henry III had always been accounted a good swordsman, but that day he quite outdid himself, and in his imagination was about to run the pseudo De Montfort through the heart, to the wild acclaim of his audience.
The deeds of black Agnes of Dunbar, of Lady Salisbury and of the Countess of Montfort
, were still fresh in the public minds.
I stood here, at the very spring and source of the second great period of the world's history; and could see the trickling stream of that history gather and deepen and broaden, and roll its mighty tides down the far centuries; and I could note the upspringing of adven- turers like myself in the shelter of its long array of thrones: De Montforts
, Gavestons, Mortimers, Villier- ses; the war-making, campaign-directing wantons of France, and Charles the Second's scepter-wielding drabs; but nowhere in the procession was my full- sized fellow visible.