Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/20

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On the helpless Flemish village
Cruel Alva swooped and fell;
And the peace of trade and tillage
Turned to martial clank and yell.
In the town-house, tall and handsome,
Stood the great duke looking down
On the burghers proffering ransom
For the safety of the town.

O'er his brow gray locks were twining,
For his casque was laid aside,
And his good sword carved and shining
From the sword-belt was untied.
Prince he seemed of born commanders;
Pride and power each gesture told;
As he cried, "Ye men of Flanders,
Bring me twenty casks of gold!"

Then upon them fell a sadness,
And a shadow like a pall,
While they murmured, "'Tis rank madness
Such a sum from us to call!"
And the spokesman of the village
Murmured feebly, "Sure you jest."
Answered Alva, "Gold or pillage,
Choose whiche'er may suit you best!"

Faint and stunned they turned despairing,
When arose a laugh of joy,
And before their startled staring
In there pranced a little boy;
On his curls the duke's helm rested,
As with noisy glee he roared,
And his good steed mailed and crested
Was great Alva's mighty sword!