Page images

with you,

it has not yet dipped behind the old barn. But who have you

I trow?

Alfred. Good mother, I am a stranger; and entreat you to afford me food and shelter.

Gandelin. Good mother, quotha ! Good wife, if you please, and wel

But I do not love strangers; and the land has no reason to love them. It has never been a merry day for Old England since strangers came


into it.

Alfred. I am not a stranger in England, though I am a stranger here. I am a true-born Englishman.

Gubba. And do you hate those wicked Danes, that eat us up, and burn our houses, and drive away our cattle?

Alfred. I do hate them.

Gandelin. Heartily! he does not speak heartily, husband,

Alfred. Heartily I hate them ; most heartily.

Gubba. Give me thy hand, then; thou art an honest fellow.

Alfred. I was with King Alfred in the last battle he fought.

Gandelin. With King Alfred ? Heaven bless him!

Gubba. What is become of our good King ? Alfred. Did

you love him, then ? Gubba. Yes, as much as a poor man may love a King'; and kneeled down and prayed for him every night, that he might conquer those Danish wolves; but it was not to be so.

Alfred. You could not love Alfred better than I did.

Gubba. But what is become of him?
Alfred. He is thought to be dead.
Gubba. Well, these are sad times

; Heaven help us! Come, you shall be welcome to share the brown loaf with



suppose you are too sharp set to be nice.

Gandelin. Aye, come with us : you shall be as welcome as a prince! But hark ye, husband; though I am very

, willing to be charitable to this stranger (it would be a sin to be otherwise,) yet there is no reason he should not do something to maintain himself: he looks strong and capable.

Gubba. Why, that's true. What can you do, friend ?

Alfred. I am very willing to help you in any thing you choose to set me • about. It will please me best to earn my bread before I eat.

Gubba. Let me see. Can you tie ur faggots neatly?

Alfred. I have not been used to it. I am afraid I should be aukward.

Gubba. Can you thatch? There is a piece blown off the cow-house.

Alfred. Alas! I cannot thatch.

[blocks in formation]

Gandelin. Ask him if he can weave rushes : we want some new baskets.

Alfred. I have never learned.
Gubba. Can you stack hay?
Alfred. No.

Gubba. Why, here's a fellow! and yet he hath as many pair of hands as his neighbours. Dame, can you employ him in the house ? He might lay wood on the fire, and rub the tables.

Gandelin. Let him watch these cakes then: I must go and milk the kine. .

Gubba. And I'll go and stack the wood, since supper is not ready.

Gandelin. But pray, observe, friend! do not let the cakes burn; turn them often on the hearth.

Alfred. I shall observe your direc- . tions.

ALFRED alone. Alfred. For myself, I could bear it: but England, my bleeding country, for thee my heart is wrung with bitter anguish From the Humber to the Thames the rivers are stained with blood.----My brave soldiers cut to pieces!—My poor people---some massacred, others driven from their warm homes, stripped, abused, insulted;---and I, whom Heaven appointed their shepherd, unable to rescue my defenceless dock from the ravenous jaws of these devourers! Gracious Heaven! if I am not worthy to save this land from the Danish sword, raise up some other hero to fight with more success than I have done, and let me spend my life in this obscure cottage, in these servile offices: I shall be content, if England is happy. -0! here come my blunt host and hostess.

Enter GUBBA and GANDELIN, Gandelin. Help me down with the pail, husband. This new milk, with

« PreviousContinue »