Scene-27 The Outskirts of Rudolph's Camp,
where Hugo offers a single fight between himself and Jarl Osric
to decide the strife.
This is refused, and war is declared.


RUDOLPH


Lord Hugo! thy speech is madness;
Thou hast tax'd our patience too far:
We offer'd thee peace-- with gladness,
We gladly accept thy war.

DAGOBERT
And the clemency we extended   
To thee and thine we recall;
And the treaty 'twixt us is ended--
We are ready to storm the wall.

OSRIC
Now tear yon parchment to tatters;
Thou shalt make no further use
Of our safeguard; the wind that scatters
The scroll shall scatter the truce.

HUGO
Jarl Osric, to save the spilling
Of blood, and the waste of life,
I am willing, if thou art willing,
With thee to decide this strife;
 
Let thy comrades draw their force back;
I defy thee to single fight,
I will meet thee on foot or horseback,
And God shall defend the right.

RUDOLPH
No single battle shall settle
This strife; thou art overbold--
Thou hast put us all on our mettle,
Now the game in our hands we hold.

DAGOBERT
Our lances round thee have hover'd,
Have seen where thy fellows bide;
Thy weakness we have discover'd,
Thy nakedness we have spied.

OSRIC
And hearken, knight, to my story--
When sack'd are the convent shrines,
When the convent thresholds are gory,
And quaff'd are the convent wines:

When our beasts with pillage are laden,
And the clouds of our black smoke rise
From yon tower, one fair-haired maiden
Is singled as Osric's prize.
I will fit her with chain and collar
Of red gold, studded with pearls;
With bracelet of gold, Sir Scholar,
The queen of my captive girls.

HUGO (savagely)
May the Most High God of battles,
The Lord and Ruler of fights,
Who breaketh the shield that rattles,
Who snappeth the sword that smites,
In whose hands are footmen and horsemen,
At whose breath they conquer or flee,
Never show me His mercy, Norseman!
If I show mercy to thee.

OSRIC
What, ho! art thou drunk, Sir Norman?
Has the wine made thy pale cheek red?
Now, I swear by Odin and Thor, man,
Already I count thee dead.

RUDOLPH
I crave thy pardon for baulking
The flood of thine eloquence,
But thou canst not scare us with talking,
I therefore pray thee go hence.

OSRIC
Though I may not take up thy gauntlet,
Should we meet where the steel strikes fire,
"Twixt thy casque and thy charger's frontlet
The choice will perplex thy squire.

HUGO
When the Norman rowels are goading,
When glitters the Norman glaive,
Thou shalt call upon Thor and Odin:
They shall not hear thee nor save.

'Should we meet!' Aye, the chance may fall so,
In the furious battle drive,
So may God deal with me--more, also!
If we separate, both alive!
                 Adam Lindsay Gordon



...TO ASHTAROTH INDEX......BACK TO SCENE 26......FORWARD TO SCENE 28...