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ROBERT BROWNING

“ HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS

FROM GHENT TO AIX.

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[164] I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; Good speed !” cried the watch, as the gate-bolts

undrew; "Speed !” echoed the wall to us galloping through; Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast. Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our

place; I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight, Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique° right, 10 Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit, Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

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'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near
Lokeren,o the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom,o a great yellow star came out to see;
At Düffeld, 'twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mechelno church-steeple we heard the half-

chime,
So Joris broke silence with, " Yet there is time !"

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At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:

And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back

25 For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track; And one eye's black intelligence, - ever that glance O’er its white edge at me, his own master, askance! And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

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By Hasselt,° Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, "Stay

spur! Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her, We'll remember at Aix" for one heard the quick

wheeze Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering

knees, And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank, 35 As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Loozo and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like

chaff; Till over by Dalhemo a dome-spire sprang white, And “Gallop,” gasped Joris, “ for Aix is in sight!”

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“How they'll greet us!” — and all in a moment his

roan

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Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight 45
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.
Then I cast loose my buff-coat, each holster let fall.
Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or

good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.
And all I remember is friends flocking round
As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
Was no more than his due who brought good news from

Ghent.

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INCIDENT OF THE FRENCH CAMP

You know, we French stormed Ratisbon:

A mile or so away,
On a little mound, Napoleon

Stood on our storming-day;
With neck out-thrust, you fancy how,

Legs wide, arms locked behind,
As if to balance the prone brow

Oppressive with its mind.

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Just as perhaps he musedo “ My plans
That soar, to earth may fall,

10 Let once my army-leader Lanneso

Waver at yonder wall,".
Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew

A rider, bound on bound
Full-galloping; nor bridle drew

Until he reached the mound.
Then off there flung in smiling joy,

And held himself erect
By just his horse's mane, a boy:

You hardly could suspect -
(So tight he kept his lips compressed,

Scarce any blood came through)
You looked twice ere you saw his breast

Was all but shot in two.
Well,” cried he, “ Emperor, by God's grace
We've got you Ratisbon !
The Marshal's in the market-place,

And you'll be there anon
To see your flag-birdo flap his vans

Where I, to heart's desire,
Perched him!” The chief's eye flashed; his plans

Soared up again like fire.
The chief's eye flashed; but presently

Softened itself, as sheathes
A film the mother-eagle's eye

When her bruised eaglet breathes; “You're wounded!" "Nay," the soldier's pride

Touched to the quick, he said: “ I'm killed, Sire!” And his chief beside,

Smiling the boy fell dead.

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THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN

A CHILD'S STORY (Written for, and inscribed to, W. M. the Younger)

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HAMELIN° Town's in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;

A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But when begins my ditty,

Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so

From vermin, was a pity.

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II

Rats!

10 They fought the dogs and killed the cats,

And bit the babies in the cradles, And ate the cheeses out of the vats,

And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles, Split open the kegs of salted sprats,

15 Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, And even spoiled the women's chats

By drowning their speaking

With shrieking and squeaking In fifty different sharps and flats.

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III

At last the people in a body

To the Town Hall came flocking:

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