IT must have been a sight well worth seeing when a knight mounted his horse and galloped away from a castle. Of course his armor was polished and shining, and, as Lowell says of Sir Launfal, he "made morn through the darksome gate." The children of the castle especially must have watched him with the greatest interest. The girls looked wistfully at the scarf or glove on his helmet, each one hoping that he who would some day wear her colors would be the bravest man that ever drew a sword. As for the boys, they could hardly wait for the day to come when they, too, could don glittering armor and sally forth into the world in quest of adventures.
Even the youngest of these children knew that a boy must pass through long years of training before he could become a knight. This began when he was a small child, perhaps not more than seven years old. It was not the custom for the son of a noble to be brought up in the home of his father. He was sent for his education and training to the castle of some lord of higher rank or greater reputation, sometimes to the court of the king. He was taught to look with the utmost respect upon the man who trained him to be a knight, to reverence him as a father, and to behave toward him with humility and meekness. Even if the time ever came when they were fighting on opposite sides, the foster son must never harm the man whose castle had been his home. In those days of warfare and bloodshed, the king himself might well be glad to have as devoted supporters and friends a band of young men who had been carefully trained in the practice of arms. It is no wonder that kings and nobles looked upon it as a privilege to receive these boys into their castles. Indeed, when their fathers were inclined to keep them at home, the king sometimes demanded that they be sent to him.
The boys of the days of knighthood were not so very different from those of to-day, and many of their amusements were the same as now. They had various games of ball, they played marbles, they see-sawed, and walked on stilts, much as if they belonged to the twentieth century. Of course they played at being knights, just as boys to-day play at being merchants or manufacturers. There is an old picture of some pages, as these boys were called, playing that two toy knights mounted on wooden horses are having a contest. The two horses are pushed toward each other, and if either knight is struck by the spear of the other and thrust out of his place he is vanquished.