Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/35

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25
THE READING-CLUB.

His warriors stand about him, a bold and gallant band,
No general e'er had truer men to follow his command.
He seeks the best and bravest; on D'Assas falls his glance,—
On brave and lordly D'Assas, bold chevalier of France.

"Advance, my lord," cried Auvergne; D'Assas is at his side.
"Of all the knights who form my train, who 'neath my banner ride,
None hold the place of trust the king our sovereign gives to thee,—
Wilt thou accept a fearful charge that death or fame shall be?
"Wilt thou, O D'Assas! ride to-night close to the foemen's line,
And see what strength he may oppose to these proud hosts of mine?"
Then D'Assas bows his stately head. "Thy will shall soon be done.
Back will I come with tidings full e'er dawns the morning sun."

'Tis midnight. D'Assas rideth forth upon his well-tried steed.
Auvergne hath made a worthy choice for this adventurous deed.
But stop! what means this silent host? How stealthily they come!
No martial music cleaves the air, no sound of beaten drum.
Like spectre forms they seem to glide before his wondering eyes;
Well hath he done, the wary foe, to plan this wild surprise.
Back D'Assas turns; but ah! too late,—a lance is laid in rest:
The knight can feel its glittering point against his corselet prest.

"A Frenchman! Hist!" A heavy hand has seized his bridle-rein.
"Hold close thy lips, my gallant spy; one word, and thou art slain.