Page:The Yeomen of the Guard.djvu/6

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


Dame. Busy, aye ! the fire in the Beauchamp last night has given me work enough. A dozen poor prisoners—Richard Colfax, Sir Martin Byfleet, Colonel Fairfax, Warren the preacher-poet, and half-a-score others—all packed into one small cell, not six feet square. Poor Colonel Fairfax, who's to die to-day, is to be removed to No. 14 in the Cold Harbour that he may have his last hour alone with his confessor ; and I've to see to that.
2nd Yeo. Poor gentleman ! He'll die bravely. I fought under him two years since, and he valued his life as it were a feather !
Phœ. He's the bravest, the handsomest, and the best young gentleman in England ! He twice saved my father's life ; and it's a cruel thing, a wicked thing, and a barbarous thing that so gallant a hero should lose his head—for it's the handsomest head in England !
Dame. For dealings with the devil. Aye ! if all were beheaded who dealt with him, there 'd be busy doings on Tower Green.
Phœ. You know very well that Colonel Fairfax is a student of alchemy—nothing more, and nothing less ; but this wicked Tower, like a cruel giant in a fairy-tale, must be fed with blood, and that blood must be the best and bravest in England, or it's not good enough for the old Blunderbore. Ugh !
Dame. Silence, you silly girl ; you know not what you say. I was born in the old keep, and I've grown grey in it, and, pleaso God, I shall die and be buried in it ; and there's not a stone in its walls that is not as dear to me as my own right hand.

SONG, WITH CHORUS.— Dame Carruthers and Yeomen.

When our gallant Norman foes
Made our merry land their own,
And the Saxons from the Conqueror were flying,
At his bidding it arose,
In its panoply of stone,
A sentinel unliving and undying.
Insensible, I trow,
As a sentinel should be,
Though a queen to save her head should come a-suing,
There's a legend on its brow
That is eloquent to me,
And it tells of duty done and duty doing.

"The screw may twist and the rack may turn,
And men may bleed and men may burn,
O'er London town and its golden hoard
I keep my silent watch and ward ! "


The screw may twist, &c.