Flemish Legend Sir Halewyn by Charles de Coster Chapter 3

Of Sir Halewyn and how he carried himself in his youth

But to this strong Crow were born children of a quite other kind.

For they were all, strangely enough, men of the quill and writing-desk, caring nothing for the fine arts of war, and despising all arms.

These great clerks lost a good half of their heritage. For each year some stronger neighbour would rob them of a piece of it.

And they begot puny and miserable children, with pale faces, who passed their time, as clerks are wont, lurking in corners, sitting huddled on stools, and whining chants and litanies in a melancholy fashion.

Thus came to an end the good men of the line.

Siewert Halewyn, who was the wretch of whom I am to tell you this tale, was as ugly, puny, woebegone, and sour-faced as the others, or even worse than they.

And like them he was always lurking and hiding in corners, and shirking company, hated the sound of laughter, sweated ill-humour, and, moreover, was never seen to lift his head skywards like an honest man, but was all the while looking down at his boots, wept without reason, grumbled without cause, and never had any satisfaction in anything. For the rest he was a coward and cruel, delighting during his childhood in teasing, frightening and hurting puppies and kittens, sparrows, thrushes, finches, nightingales, and all small beasts.

And even when he was older, he hardly dared to attack so large a thing as a wolf, though he were armed with his great sword. But as soon as the beast was brought down he would rain blows on it with high valour.

So he went on until he was old enough to marry.