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Enter a Scout.

Brother, thou com'st in haste; what news, I pray :

Scout. Put up thy book. and bag, and wizard's wand,
This is no time for witchery and wiles.
Thy cave, I trow, will soon be fill'd with those,
Who are by present ills too roughly shent
To look thro’ vision'd spells on those to come.

Wiz. What thou woud'st tell me, tell me in plain words.

Scout. Well, plainly then, Ethwald, who thought full surely
The British, in their weak divided state,
To the first onset of his arms would yield
Their ill defended towers, has found them strengthen’d
With aid from Wessex, and unwillingly
Led back with cautious skill the Mercian troops
Meaning to tempt the foe, as it is thought,
To follow him into our open plains,
Where they must needs with least advantage fight.

Wiz. Who told thee this

Scout. Mine eyes have seen them. Scarcely three miles off,
The armies, at this moment, are engaged
In bloody battle. On my way I met
A crowd of helpless women, from their homes
Who fly with terror, each upon her back
Bearing some helpless babe or valued piece
Of household goods, snatch’d up in haste. I hear
Their crowding steps e'en now within your cave:
They follow close behind.

(Enter a crowd of women, young and old; some leading children and carrying

infants on their backs or in their arms, others carrying bundles and pieces of household stuff.)

Wiz. Who are ye, wretched women,
Who, all so pale and haggard, bear along
Those helpless infants, and those seeming wrecks,
From desolation saved What do you want?
First Wom. Nought but the friendly shelter of your cave,
For now or house, or home, or blazing hearth,
Good Wizard, we have none.
Wiz. And are the armies there so near your dwellings
First Wom. Ay, round them, in them the loud battle clangs,
Within our very walls fierce spearmen push,
And weapon'd warriors cross their clashing blades.
Second Wom. Ay, woe is me ! our warm and cheerful hearths
And rushed floors whereon our children play'd,
Are now the bloody lair of dying men.
Old Wom. Ah woe is me! those yellow thatched roofs,
Which I have seen these sixty years and ten,
Smoking so sweetly 'midst our tufted thorns,
And the turf'd graves wherein our fathers sleep !
Young Wom. Ah woe is me ! my little helpless babes
Now must some mossy rock or shading tree
Be your cold home, and the wild haws your food.

No cheerful blazing fire and seething pot
Shall now, returning from his daily toil,
Your father cheer; if that, if that indeed
Ye have a father still—(bursting into tears.)

Third Wom. Alack, alack! of all my goodly stuff
I've saved but only this my winter's webs
And all the stores that I so dearly saved'
I thought to have them to my dying day !

- (Enter a Young Man leading in an Idiot)

Young Wom. (running up to him.)
Ah, my dear Swithick 1 art thou safe indeed?
Why didst thou leave me !

Young Man. To save our idiot brother, see'st thou here?
I could not leave him in that pityless broil.

Young Wom. Well hast thou done poor helpless Balderkin
We've fed thee long, unweeting of our care,
And in our little dwelling still thou'st held
The warmest nook ; and, wheresoe'er we be,
So shalt thou still, albeit thou know'st it not.

(Enter Man carrying an Old Man on his back.)

Young Man. And see here, too, our neighbour Edwin comes,
Bearing his bed-rid father on his back.
Come in, good man. How dost thou, aged neighbour !
Cheer up again thou shalt be shelter'd still ;
The Wizard has receiv'd us.

Wiz. True, good folks;
I wish my means were better for your sakes.
But we are crowded here ; that winding passage.
Leads us into an inner cave full wide,
Where we may take our room and freely breatne;
Come let us enter there.

[Eveunt, all following the Wizard into the inner cave.

SCENE II.

A field of battle strewed with slain, and some people seen upon the background searching

amongst the dead bodies.

Enter Hereulf and Ethelbert.

Her. (stopping short and holding up his hands.)
Good mercy! see at what a bloody price
Ethwald this doubtful victory has purchased,
That in the lofty height to which he climbs
Will be a slight step of but small advantage.

Eth. (not attending to him, and after gazing for some time on the field)
So thus ye lie, who, with the morning sun, -
Rose cheerily, and girt your armour on
With all the vigour, and capacity,
And comeliness of strong and youthful men.
Ye also, taken in your manhood's wane,
With grizzled pates, from mates, whose wither'd hands
For some good thirty years had smooth'd your couch :
Alas! and ye whose fair and early growth
Did give you the similitude of men

Ere your fond mothers ceas'd to tend you still,
As nurselings of their care, ye lie together
Alas, alas ! and many now there be,
Smiling and crowing on their mother's breast,
Turning, with all their little infant ways,
Around her hopeful heart, who shall, like these,
Be laid i' the dust.
Her. Ay, so it needs must be, since Mollo's son
Thinks Mercia all too strict for his proud sway.
But here come those who search amongst the dead
For their lost friends; retire, and let us mark them.
they withdraw to one side.)
Enter two Cairls, meeting a third, who enters by the opposite side.
First Cairl. (to third) Thou hast been o'er the field
Third Cairl. I have, good friend.
Second Cairl. Thou'st seen a rueful sight.
Third Cairl. Yes, I have seen that which no other sight
Can from my fancy wear. Oh there be some
Whose writhed features, fix’d in all the strength
Of grappling agony, do stare upon you,
With their dead eyes half open'd.—
And there be some, stuck through with bristling darts,
Whose clenched hands have torn the pebbles up;
Whose gnashing teeth have ground the very sand.
Nay, some I’ve seen among those bloody heaps,
Defaced and ‘reft e'en of the form of men,
Who in convulsive motion yet retain
Some shreds of life more horrible than death:
I’ve heard their groans, oh, oh!
(A voice from the ground.) Baldwick
Third Cairl. What voice is that ? it comes from some one near.
First Cairl. See, yon stretch'd body moves its bloody hand:
It must be him.
(Voice again.) Baldwick
Third Cairl (going up to the body from whence the voice came.)
Who art thou, wretched man I know thee not.
Voice. Ah, but thou dost I have sat by thy fire,
And heard thy merry tales, and shar'd thy meal.
Third Cairl, Good holy saints 1 and art thou Athelbald?
Woe woe is me to see thee in such case !
What shall I do for thee 7
Voice. If thou hast any love of mercy in thee,
Turn me upon my face that I may die;
For lying thus, see'st thou this flooded gash?
The glutting blood so bolsters up my life
I cannot die.
Third Cairl. I will, good Athelbald. Alack the day !
That I should do for thee so sad a service ;
(Turns the soldier on his face)
Voice. I thank thee, friend, farewell ! (dies)
Third Cairl. Farewell farewell a merry soul thou wert,
And sweet thy ploughman's whistle in our fields.

Second Cairl. (starting with horror.) Good heaven forfend it moves | First Cairl. What dost thou see ? Second Cairl. Look on that bloody corse, so smear'd and mangled, That it has lost all form of what it was ; It moves it moves! there is life in it still. First Cairl. Methought it spoke, but faint and low the sound. Third Cairl. Ha! did'st thou hear a voice we'll go to it. Who art thou? oh! who art thou? (to a fallen warrior, who makes signs to him to pull something from his breast.) Yes, from thy breast ; I understand the sign. (pulling out a band or 'kerchief from his breast.) It is some maiden's pledge. Fallen Warrior. (making signs.) Upon mine arm. I pray thee, on mine arm. Third Cairl. I’ll do it, but thy wounds are past all binding. Warrior. She who will search for me doth know this sign. Third Cairl. Alack, alack 1 he thinks of some sad maid! A rueful sight she'll see he moves again: Heaven grant him peace I'd give a goodly sum To see thee dead, poor wretch (Enter a woman wailing and wringing her hands. Second Carl. Ha! who comes wailing here 7 Third Cairl. Some wretched mother who has lost her son. I met her searching 'midst the farther dead, And heard her piteous moan. Mother. I rear'd him like a little playful kid, And ever by my side, where’er I went, He blithely trotted. And full soon, I ween, His little arms did strain their growing strength To bear my burden. Ay, and long before He had unto a stripling's height attain'd, He ever would my widow's cause maintain With all the steady boldness of a man. I was no widow then. Second Cairl. Be comforted, good mother. Mother. What say'st thou to me? knowest thou where he lies 7 If thou hast kindness in thee tell me truly; For dead or living still he is mine all, And let me have him. Third Cairl. (aside to Second.) Send her away, good friend; I know her now. Her boy is lying with the farther dead, Like a fell'd sapling; lead her from the field. (Ereunt Mother and Second Cairo. First Cairl. But who comes now, with such distracted gait, Tossing her snowy arms unto the wind, And gazing wildly o'er each mangled corse ? (Enter a young woman searching distractedly amongst the dead.) Young Woman. No, no thou art not here ! thou art not here t Yet if thou be like these I shall not know thee Oh! if they have so gash'd thee o'er with wounds And marr'd thy comely form 1 I'll not believe it

Until these very eyes have seen thee dead, These very hands have press'd on thy cold heart I'll not believe it. Third Cairl. Ah, gentle maiden many a maiden's love, And many a goodly man lies on this field. Young Woman. I know, too true it is, but none like him. Liest thou, indeed, amongst those grisly heaps ? O thou who ever wert of all most fair: If heaven have suffer'd this, amen, amen Whilst I have strength to crawl upon the earth I'll search thee out, and be where'er thou art, Thy mated love, e'en with the grisly dead. (&arching again amongst the dead she perceives the band round the arm of the fallen warrior, and uttering a loud shriek falls senseless upon the ground. The Cairls run to her assistance, with Ethelbert and Hereulf, who come forward from the place they had withdrawn to ; Hereulf clenching his hand and muttering curses upon Mollo's son, as he crosses the stage. The scene closes.) 15.-THE CONVERSION OF ETHELBERT. (From “The Penny Magazine.') Bede, “the Venerable,” without whose writings we should know next to nothing of the early history of our church, or of the first introduction of Christianity into the island, was born about the year 675 on the lands which afterwards belonged to the two abbeys of St. Peter and St. Paul in the bishopric of Durham, near the mouth of the river Tyne. At seven years of age he was taken into the monastery of St. Peter at Jarrow to be educated for a priest. After twelve years of diligent study he took deacon's orders, and eleven years after that period, or when he was in his thirtieth year, he was ordained a priest. His fame now reached Rome, and he was invited by Pope Sergius to repair to that city in order to assist in the promulgation of certain points of ecclesiastical discipline. But Bede, loving study better than travel, and being strongly attached to his own cell and quiet monastery declined the invitation, and remained at Jarrow to make himself master of all the learning which was then accessible, and to write the ecclesiastical history of the English nation. The materials within his reach consisted of a few chronicles, and a few annals preserved in different religious houses; but he had also access to living prelates and other churchmen, some of whom had been principal actors in a part of the events and scenes he had to describe, while others inherited from their own fathers all the traditional lore relating to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon people, and more particularly of that part of the nation which was settled to the north of the Humber. Hence we find that Bede's narrative is fullest when he treats of the introduction and establishment of Christianity in Northumbria. He lived so near to the time that his history has much of the charm of a contemporary narrative. The date of his birth was within eighty years after the first landing of Augustin, and within half a century of the date assigned to the conversion of the Northumbrian king Edwin. He must have known, in his youth, persons who were living at the time of that conversion, and many that were alive when King Oswald revived the Christian faith and brought the monks from Iona to Lindisfarne. He published his ecclesiastical history (if we may apply the term publication to the very limited means which then existed of making a literary work known) about the year 734 - but previously to this he hed written and put forth many other books and treatie whole life indeed appears to have been absorbed by his literary labours,

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