OVER two hundred years ago England was governed by King Charles the First. His reign was characterized by a long and obstinate contest between himself and his people, resulting in a civil war, in which the king was defeated and taken prisoner, and in the end beheaded on a block, before one of his own palaces. Sometime before the war began, he was a fugitive and an outlaw in his own dominions. His successor was Charles, his oldest son, who then became King Charles the Second. He was only seventeen when he became king in name, and was with his mother in France. She, being a sister of the French king, had gone there for protection during her husband's war with the people of England. Charles the Second did not obtain his crown, however, until he was thirty years of age, although he made great efforts for it. He went to his dominion of Scotland when he was twenty years old, raised an army there, and marched into England with the intention of subduing that portion of his realm. But he was defeated, and to save his life, was obliged to conceal himself for a long time, until he could finally make his escape from the country. The king's enemies were so persevering in their search that he found it extremely difficult to keep out of their way. He was always in disguise, and at one time stayed for two days in the woods during a rain. His friends carried him food, but he dared not go to the house to dry his clothes.

His pursuers finally suspected his hiding-place, and determined to hunt the wood. He was informed by friends of other places to hide, but none was thought safe except an oak tree, which had a very, dense foliage, and stood in the midst of a field.

In the morning before daylight the king, with an officer, climbed into the top, where they stayed during the day, and watched the men who were hunting the king. Charles endured a great many other hardships and privations, but at last succeeded in returning safely to France, where he remained until his subjects called him back to England, and crowned him their king. Then his political troubles were ended. From that time the tree which sheltered the king so faithfully has been called the Royal Oak. In after years, when the monarch was restored to his throne, and the story of his dangers and escape was known, thousands of visitors came to look, at the tree which had so effectually concealed his Majesty. Every one took away a leaf or a sprig as a memorial, until there was danger of its being all carried away, and the proprietors found it necessary to build a defense around it. The 'Royal' Oak has been the subject of many narratives, and its praises have been sung by many bards. It is still standing, about twenty-two miles from the city of Worcester.

L. R