Imágenes de páginas


The summer and autumn had been so wet,
That in winter the corn was growing yet,
'Twas a piteous sight to see all around
The grain lie rotting on the ground.
Every day the starving poor
Crowded round Bishop Hatto's door,
For he had a plentiful last-year's store,
And all the neighbourhood could tell
His granaries were furnish'd well.
At last Bishop Hatto appointed a day
To quiet the poor without delay;
He bade them to his great Barn repair,
And they should have food for the winter there.
Rejoiced such tidings good to hear,

folk flock'd from far and near;
The great Barn was full as it could hold
Of women and children, and young and old.
Then when he saw it could hold no more,
Bishop Hatto he made fast the door;
And while for mercy with shrieks they call,
He set fire to the Barn and burnt them all.
“I' faith 'tis an excellent bonfire !” quoth he,
“ And the country is greatly obliged to me,
For ridding it in these times forlorn
Of rats that only consume the corn.”
So then to his palace returned he,
And he sat down to supper merrily,

And he slept that night like an innocent man;
But Bishop Hatto never slept again.
In the morning as he entered the hall
Where his picture hung against the wall,
A sweat like death all over him came,
For the rats had eaten it out of the frame.

As he looked, there came a man from his farm,
He had a countenance white with alarm;
“My Lord, I open'd your granaries this morn,
And the rats had eaten all your corn.”
Another came running presently,
And he was pale as pale could be.

“ Fly! my Lord Bishop, fly,” quoth he,
“Ten thousand rats are coming this way,...
May heaven forgive you for yesterday !
"I'll go to my tower on the Rhine," replied he,
“ 'Tis the safest place in Germany ;
The walls are high and the shores are steep,
And the stream is strong and the water deep.”
Bishop Hatto fearfully hasten'd away,
And he crost the Rhine without delay,
And reach'd his tower, and barr'd with care
All the windows, doors, and loop-holes there.
He laid him down and closed his eyes ; ...
But soon a scream made him arise.
He started and saw two eyes of flame
On his pillow from whence the screaming came.
He listen'd and look'd; was only the Cat;
But the Bishop he grew more fearful for that,
For she sat screaming, mad with fear
At the Army of Rats that were drawing near.

For they have swam over the river so deep,
And they have climbed the shores so steep.
And up the tower their way is bent,
To do the work for which they were sent.

They are not to be told by the dozen or score,
By thousands they come, and by myriads and more,
Such numbers had never been heard of before,
Such a judgment had never been witness'd of yore.
Down on his knees the Bishop fell,
And faster and faster his beads did he tell,
As louder and louder drawing near
The gnawing of their teeth he could hear.
And in at the windows and in at the door,
And through the walls helter-skelter they pour,
And down from the ceiling, and up through the floor.
From the right and the left, from behind and before,
From within and without, from above and below,
And all at once to the Bishop they go.

They have whetted their teeth against the stones,
And now they pick the Bishop's bones;
They gnaw'd the flesh from every limb, ,
For they were sent to do judgment on him !





The child, amidst the forest bower,
Stood rooted like a lilye flower;
And when at length, with trembling pace

He sought to find where Branksome ay,
He feared to see that grisly face

Glare from some thicket on his way.
Thus, starting oft, he journeyed on,
And deeper in the wood is gone
For aye the more he sought his way,
The farther still he went astray-
Until he heard the mountains round
Ring to the baying of a hound.

[ocr errors]

And hark! and hark! the deep-mouthed bark

Comes nigher still, and nigher;
Bursts on the path a dark blood-hound,
His tawny muzzle tracked the ground,

And his red eyes shot fire.
Soon as the wildered child saw he,
He flew at him right furiouslie.
I ween you would have seen with joy
The bearing of the gallant boy,
When, worthy of his noble sire,
His wet cheek glowed 'twixt fear and ire !
He faced the blood-hound manfully,
And held his little bat on high ;
So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,
At cautious distance hoarsely bayed

But still in act to spring;


When dashed an archer through the glade,
And when he saw the hound was stayed,

He drew his tough bow-string;
But a rough voice cried, “Shoot not, hoy!”

Ho! shoot not, Edward-'tis a boy!”
The speaker issued from the wood,
And checked his fellow's surly mood,

And quelled the ban-dog's ire;
He was an English yeoman good,

And born in Lancashire.
Well could he hit a fallow deer,

Five hundred feet him fro;
With hand more true, and eye more clear,

No archer bended bow.
His coal-black hair, shorn round and close,

Set off his sun-burnt face;
Old England's sign, St. George's cross,

His barret-cap did grace;
His bugle-horn hung by his side,

All in a wolf-skin baldrick tied;
And his short faulchion, sharp and clear,

Had pierced the throat of many a deer.
His kirtle, made of forest green,

Reached scantly to his knee;
And, at his belt, of arrows keen

A furbished sheaf bore he ;
His buckler scarce in breadth a span,

No longer fence had he;
He never counted him a man,

Would strike below the knee ; His slackened bow was in his hand, And the leash, that was his blood-hound's band. He would not do the fair child harm,

But held him with his powerful arm,

« AnteriorContinuar »