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While King Harold was watching for the landing of the Duke of Normandy, he learned that his own brother Tostig, aided by the Norse rover Harold Hardrada, had invaded Northumbria, from the earldom of which King Harold had deposed him. Harold, feeling that both duty and honour compelled him to drive the invaders out of England, marched his army north and defeated the enemy at Stamford Bridge on the Derwent, where both Hardrada and Tostig were slain.
[See Lytton's Harold, Book XI, Ch. 11.)
Forth from England's ranks a score of horsemen Ride, their chargers mailed, and mailed their riders. Near the Northmen's steel array up-reining, 'Where is Tostig?' shouts their kingly leader. 'I am he,' quick answer makes the fierce Earl. "To thee sends thy brother Harold greeting. Thine shall be again Northumbria's earldom; Thou, his man, shalt rule with him his kingdom.'
Friendship had ye proffered then, full surely,
Better had it been this day for England.
But if I, forgiving, take thy proffer,
What giv'st thou to Harold, King of Norway?'
Hollow from the blue helm leaps the answer,
Gift too will we give unto Hardrada.
Seven feet of English earth shall his be;
More, if more be needed by his stature.
Grimly laugh around the mailed horsemen,
Fiercely joying in the kingly answer.
But in wrath dark grows the frown of Tostig,
From his lips leap hoarse the words of thunder, 20
• Then let Harold boune him for the battle ; Never Northman this shall say of Tostig,
That, with Sigurd's son, I, warring westward,
Basely left him, left him for his foemen.'
LIKE the tall mast snapped before the storm-wind
Falls he, like the pine cleft by the woodman.
Never more the strong shall fall before him,
While behind him pours the flood of battle.
Long his Queen shall watching look to westward, 5
Look across the long waves for his coming.
Round him fight and fall the heaped-up corpse-ring,
Scorning Harold's proffered peace and mercy.
Falls fierce Tostig, grimly as the bear falls,
Fell, at bay, amid the shouting huntsmen.
Falls at last the beacon of the war-field;
The Land-waster sinks, the Raven-Standard.
* Plight your troth, no more your ocean riders,
Viking-filled, shall come with fire and slaughter.
So bear hence your kingly dead, O Olaf,
In your long ships, home, o heroes, bear him.
And with holy rites, in far-off Norway,
Tomb him, peaceful after all his battles.'
Forth to seawards sweep the Northmen's galleys,
Bearing home the restful son of Sigurd.
So fell Harold, last of all the Vikings,
Scald, by scalds sung, Harold of the fair hair.
The Curfew (couvre-feu) was a bell rung at 8 o'clock in winter and at sunset in summer, when all fires had to be extinguished. It also served as a call to prayers, and is still rung in some towns. The curfew law was instituted by William the Conqueror, to prevent sedition by keeping Englishmen within their houses after nightfall.
Dealing its dole,
The Curfew Bell
Is beginning to toll.
Cover the embers,
And put out the light;
Toil comes with the morning,
And rest with the night.
Dark grow the windows,
And quenched is the fire;
Sound fades into silence,-
All footsteps retire.
The death of William Rufus in the New Forest might be regarded as a Nemesis or poetic justice, not only on him for his cruelty in that district, but also on his father who had ruthlessly destroyed villages to make a hunting-ground there. It is not known for certain whether Rufus was killed by accident or design; probably the latter. His body was carried to Winchester Cathedral and unceremoniously buried under the tower, which fell a few years afterwards, “because so foul a body lay beneath it'.
THE King was drinking in Malwood Hall,
There came in a monk before them all :
He thrust by squire, he thrust by knight,
Stood over against the dais aright;
And, 'The word of the Lord, thou cruel Red King, 5
The word of the Lord to thee I bring.
A grimly sweven I dreamt yestreen;
I saw thee lie under the hollins green,
And through thy heart an arrow keen;
And out of thy body a smoke did rise,
Which smirched the sunshine out of the skies :
So if thou God's anointed be
I rede thee unto thy soul thou see,
For mitre and pall thou hast y-sold,
False knight to Christ, for gain and gold; 15
And for this thy forest were digged down all,
Steading and hamlet and churches tall;
And Christés poor were ousten forth,
To beg their bread from south to north.
So tarry at home, and fast and pray,
Lest friends hunt thee in the judgement-day.'
The Red King down from Malwood came;
His heart with wine was all aflame,
His eyne were shotten, red as blood,
He rated and swore, wherever he rode.
They roused a hart, that grimly brace,
A hart of ten, a hart of grease,
Fled over against the Kingés place.
The sun it blinded the Kingès ee,
A fathom behind his hocks shot he:
'Shoot thou,' quod he, ‘in the fiendès name,
To lose such quarry were seven years' shame.'
And he hove up his hand to mark the game.
Tyrrel he shot full light, God wot;
For whether the saints they swerved the shot,
Or whether by treason, men knowen not,
But under the arm, in a secret part,
The iron fled through the Kingès heart.
The turf it squelched where the Red King fell :
And the fiends they carried his soul to hell,
Quod, ‘His master's name it hath sped him well.'
Tyrrel he smiled full grim that day,
Quod, 'Shooting of kings is no bairns' play ';
And he smote in the spurs, and fled fast away.
As he pricked along by Fritham plain,
The green tufts flew behind like rain;
The waters were out, and over the sward :
He swam his horse like a stalwart lord:
Men clepen that water Tyrrel's ford.
17. Steading) farm-house.