Walter Tyrrel and William Rufus

[ Scene: The New Forest, August 2, 1100.]

  Rufus . Tyrrel, spur onward! we must not await
The laggard lords: when they have heard the dogs
I warrant they will follow fast enough,
Each for his haunch. Thy roan is mettlesome;
How the rogue sidles up to me, and claims
Acquaintance with young Yorkshire! not afraid
Of wrinkling lip, nor ear laid down like grass
By summer thunder shower on Windsor mead.
  Tyrrel . Behold, my liege! hither they troop amain,
Over yon gap.
  Rufus . Over my pales! the dolts
Have broken down my pales!
  Tyrrel . Please you, my liege,
Unless they had, they must have ridden round
Eleven miles.
  Rufus . Why not have ridden round
Eleven miles? or twenty, were there need.
By our Lady! they shall be our carpenters
And mend what they have marred. At any time
I can make fifty lords; but who can make
As many head of deer, if mine escape?
And sure they will, unless they too are mad.
Call me that bishop . . him with hunting-cap
Surcharged with cross, and scarlet above knee.
   Tyrrel ( galloping forward ). Ho! my lord bishop!
  Bishop . Who calls me?
  Tyrrel . Your slave.
  Bishop . Well said, if toned as well and timed as well.
Who art thou? citizen or hind? what wantest?
  Tyrrel . My lord! your presence; but before the king;
Where it may grow more placid at its leisure.
The morn is only streakt with red, my lord!
You beat her out and out: how prettily
You wear your stocking over head and ears!
Keep off the gorse and broom! they soon catch fire!
  Bishop . The king shall hear of this! I recognise
Sir Walter Tyrrel.
  Tyrrel . And Sir Walter Tyrrel
By the same token duly recognises
The Church's well-begotten son, well-fed,
Well-mounted, and all well, except well-spoken,
The spiritual lord of Winchester.
  Bishop . Ay, by God's grace! pert losel!
  Tyrrel . Prick along
Lord bishop! quicker! catch fresh air! we want it;
We have had foul enough till dinner-time.
  Bishop . Varlet! I may chastise this insolence.
  Tyrrel . I like those feathers: but there crows no cock
Without an answer. Though the noisiest throat
Sings from the bellfrey of snug Winchester,
Yet he from Westminster hath stouter spurs.
  Bishop . God's blood! were I no bishop. . .
  Tyrrel . Then thy own
Were cooler.
  Bishop . Whip that hound aside! O Christ!
The beast has paw'd my housings! What a day
For dirt!
  Tyrrel . The scent lies well; pity no more
The housings; look, my lord! here trots the king!
  Rufus . Which of you broke my palings down?
  Bishop . God knows,
Most gracious sir.
  Rufus . No doubt he does; but you,
Bishop! could surely teach us what God knows.
Ride back and order some score handicrafts
To fix them in their places.
  Bishop . The command
Of our most gracious king shall be obeyed.
( Riding off .) Malisons on the atheist! Who can tell
Where are my squires and other men! confused
Among the servitors of temporal lords!
I must e'en turn again and hail that brute.
Sir Walter! good Sir Walter! one half-word!
[ Tyrrel rides toward him .
Sir Walter! may I task your courtesy
To find me any of my followers!
  Tyrrel . Willingly.
  Rufus . Stay with me; I want thee, Tyrrel!
What does the bishop boggle at?
  Tyrrel . At nothing.
He seeks his people, to retrieve the damage.
  Rufus . Where are the lords?
  Tyrrel . Gone past your Grace, bare-headed,
And falling in the rear.
  Rufus . Well, prick them on.
I care but little for the chase to-day,
Although the scent lies sweetly. To knock down
My paling is vexatious. We must see
Our great improvements in this forest; what
Of roads blockt up, of hamlets swept away,
Of lurking dens called cottages, and cells,
And hermitages. Tyrrel! thou didst right
And dutifully, to remove the house
Of thy forefathers. 'Twas an odd request,
To leave the dovecote, for the sake of those
Flea-bitten blind old pigeons. There it stands!
But, in God's name! what mean these hives? the bees
May sting my dogs.
  Tyrrel . They hunt not in the summer.
  Rufus . They may torment my fawns.
  Tyrrel . Sir! not unless
Driven from their hives: they like the flowers much better.
  Rufus . Flowers! and leave flowers too?
  Tyrrel . Only some half-wild,
In tangled knots; balm, clary, marjoram.
  Rufus . What lies beyond this close briar hedge, that smells
Through the thick dew upon it, pleasantly?
  Tyrrel . A poor low cottage: the dry marl-pit shields it,
And, frail and unsupported like itself,
Peace-breathing honeysuckles comfort it
In its misfortunes.
  Rufus . I am fain to laugh
At thy rank minstrelsy. A poor low cottage!
Only a poor low cottage! where, I ween,
A poor low maiden blesses Walter Tyrrel.
  Tyrrel . It may be so.
  Rufus . No; it may not be so.
My orders were that all should be removed,
And, out of special favour, special trust
In thee, Sir Walter, I consigned the care
Into thy hands, of razing thy own house
And those about it; since thou hast another
Fairer and newer, and more lands around.
  Tyrrel . Hall, chapel, chamber, cellar, turret, grange,
Are level with the grass.
  Rufus . What negligence
To leave the work then incomplete, when little
Was there remaining! Strip that roof, and start
Thy petty game from cover.
  Tyrrel . O my liege!
Command not this!
  Rufus . Make me no confidant
Of thy base loves.
  Tyrrel . Nor you, my liege! nor any:
None such hath Walter Tyrrel.
  Rufus . Thou 'rt at bay;
Thou hast forgotten thy avowal, man!
  Tyrrel . My father's house is (like my father) gone:
But in that house, and from that father's heart
Mine grew into his likeness, and held thence
Its rich possessions . . God forgive my boast!
He bade me help the needy, raise the low . .
  Rufus . And stand against thy king!
  Tyrrel . How many yokes
Of oxen, from how many villages
For miles around, brought I, at my own charge,
To bear away the rafters and the beams
That were above my cradle at my birth,
And rang when I was christened, to the carouse
Of that glad father and his loyal friends!
  Rufus . He kept good cheer, they tell me.
  Tyrrel . Yonder thatch
Covers the worn-out woman at whose breast
I hung, an infant.
  Rufus . Ay! and none beside?
  Tyrrel . Four sons have fallen in the wars.
  Rufus . Brave dogs!
  Tyrrel . She hath none left.
  Rufus . No daughter?
  Tyrrel . One.
  Rufus . I thought it.
Unkennel her.
  Tyrrel . Grace! pity! mercy on her!
  Rufus . I will not have hot scents about my chase.
  Tyrrel . A virtuous daughter of a virtuous mother
Deserves not this, my liege!
  Rufus . Am I to learn
What any subject at my hand deserves?
  Tyrrel . Happy, who dares to teach it and who can!
  Rufus . And thou, forsooth!
  Tyrrel . I have done my duty, sire!
  Rufus . Not half: perform the rest, or bide my wrath.
  Tyrrel . What, break athwart my knee the staff of age!
  Rufus . Question me, villain!
  Tyrrel . Villain I am none.
  Rufus . Retort my words! By all the saints! thou diest,
False traitor.
  Tyrrel . Sire, no private wrong, no word
Spoken in angriness, no threat against
My life or honour, urge me . .
  Rufus . Urge to what?
  Tyrrel . On my knees, as best beseems,
I ask . . not pardon, sire! but spare, oh spare
The child devoted, the deserted mother!
  Rufus . Take her; take both.
  Tyrrel . She loves her home; her limbs
Fail her; her husband sleeps in that churchyard;
Her youngest child, born many years the last,
Lies (not half-length) along the father's coffin.
Such separate love grows stronger in the stem
(I have heard say) than others close together,
And that, where pass these funerals, all life's spring
Vanishes from behind them, all the fruits
Of riper age are shrivelled, every sheaf
Husky; no gleaning left. She would die here,
Where from her bed she looks on his, no more
Able to rise, poor little soul! than he.
  Rufus . Who would disturb them, child or father? where
Is the churchyard thou speakest of?
  Tyrrel . Among
Yon nettles: we have levelled all the graves.
  Rufus . Right: or our horses might have stumbled on them.
  Tyrrel . Your grace oft spares the guilty; spare the innocent!
  Rufus . Up from the dew! thy voice is hoarse already.
  Tyrrel . Yet God hath heard it. It entreats again,
Once more, once only; spare this wretched house.
  Rufus . No, nor thee neither.
  Tyrrel . Speed me, God! and judge
O thou! between the oppressor and opprest!
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