and a long struggle for religion and dominion ensued between these warlike chiefs. Oswald was slain in battle; Penda led his conquering host far into the Christian realm; but a new king, Oswi by name, overthrew Penda and his army in a great defeat, and the worship of the older gods in England was at an end. But a half-century of struggle and bloodshed passed before the victory of Christ over Odin was fully won.
KING ALFRED AND THE DANES.
In his royal villa at Chippenham, on the left bank of the gently-flowing Avon, sat King Alfred, buried in his books. It was the evening of the 6th of January, in the year 878, a thousand years and more backward in time. The first of English kings to whom a book had a meaning,--and the last for centuries afterwards,--Alfred, the young monarch, had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, a thirst then difficult to quell, for books were almost as rare as gold-mines in that day. When a mere child, his mother had brought to him and his brothers a handsome
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