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"Would any baron of mine kneel to me if I were witless, discrowned, and alone, and Harold had my throne?"

'"No," said Rahere. "I am the sole fool that might do it, Brother, unless"--he pointed at De Aquila, whom he had only met that day--"yonder tough Norman crab kept me company.

This is from "The Tree of Justice" in "Rewards and Faires" by Kipling. http://www.telelib.com/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/RewardsFaries/treejustice.html

I do not understand the meaning of below.

yonder tough Norman crab kept me company.

I am glad if somebody kindly teach me.

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  • As a side note: unless...kept. Feb 18 '18 at 10:54
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Taking this word by word:

  • “yonder” means “that over there” (similar to Japanese あの). It is old fashioned and not used much in modern English.

  • “tough Norman” is literal, De Aquila is a tough Norman knight, he is not a Saxon.

  • "crab“ is a metaphor. Crabs have a tough outer shell (as knights wear armour). Being crabby means being grumpy and stubborn.

  • "kept me company“ in this context means that De Aquila would also kneel down before the king.

In modern words, Rahere means “I would serve you even if you lost the throne. The only other person who might serve you if you lost the throne would be that tough grumpy Norman Knight called De Aquila. We would serve you together.” Rahere is the King's jester and is probably making fun of De Aquila by substituting "crab" for "knight", as both are creatures with a tough outer shell.

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    If I read correctly, Rahere is the King's jester and is probably making fun of De Aquila by substituting "crab" for "knight", as both are creatures with a tough outer shell. This of course in addition to the other implications of "crab".
    – Andrew
    Feb 18 '18 at 0:59
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De Aquila, I assume, is a Norman.

Norman (adj): belonging or relating to the people from northern France, especially those who invaded England in 1066 and became its rulers

Rahere likens him to a "tough crab" because, possibly, he is difficult to kill and has a "crabby" nature ("disagreeable, sour, or peevish") but mostly as a humorous analogy. Crabs have a tough outer shell, like a knight has armor.

"Kept me company", in this context, means "joined with me".

Note that Rahere is the King's jester, or fool, meaning that it is his job to entertain the king by making pointed and witty comments, and teasing those around him with various insults.

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  • The reason the word means what it does would probably be more clear if we mention that that part of France is called Normandy.
    – The Photon
    Feb 27 '18 at 22:53

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