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clan.; od the sound of many workmen. The great pavilion brought there yestereve is being raised, and carpenters are busy nailing tiers of seats, while 'prentices from London town are there with many-colored stuffs and silks and cloth of gold and silver.
And now, lo! down upon the road that winds along the river's bank from Staines there come toward us, laughing and talking together in deep gutteral bass, a half a score of stalwart halbertmen-Barons' men, these -and halt at a hundred yards or so above us, on the other bank, and lean upon
and wait. And so, from hour to hour, march up along the road ever fresh groups and bands of armed men, their casques and breastplates flashing back the long low lines of morning sunlight, until, as far as eye can reach, the way seems thick with glittering steel and prancing steeds. And shouting horsemen are galloping from group to group, and little banners are fluttering lazily in the warm breeze, and every now and then there is a deeper stir as the ranks make way on either side, and some great Baron on his war-horse, with his guard of squires around him, passes along to take his station at the head of his serfs and vassals.
And up the slope of Cooper's Hill, just opposite, are gathered the wondering rustics and curious townsfolk, who have run from Staines, and none are quite sure what the bustle is about, but each one has a different version of the great event that they have come to see; and some say that much good to all the people will come from this day's work; but the old men shake their heads, for they have heard such tales before.
And all the river down to Staines is dotted with sinal] craft and boats and tiny coracles. Over the rapids, where in after years trim Bell Weir lock will stand, they hi ve been forced or dragged by their sturdy rowers, and n'w are crowding up as near as they dare come to the great covered barges, which lie in readiness to bear King John to where the fateful charter waits his signing.
It is noon, and we and all the people have been waiting patient for many an hour, and the rumor has run round that slippery John has again escaped from the Barons'
grasp, and has stolen away from Duncroft Hall with his mercenaries at his heels, and will soon be doing other work than signing charters for his people's .iberty.
Not so! This time the grip upon him has been one of iron, and he has slid and wriggled in vain. Far down the road a little cloud of dust has risen, and draws ney rer and grows larger, and the pattering of many hoofs grows louder, and in and out between the scattered groups of drawn-up-men, there pushes on its way a brilliant cavalcade of gay-dressed lords and knights. And front and rear, and either flank, there ride the yeomen of the Barons, and in the midst King John.
He rides to where the barges lie in readiness, and the great Barons step forth from their ranks to meet him. He greets them with a smile and laugh, and pleasant honeyed words, as though it were some feast in his honor to which he had been invited. But as he rises to dismount, he casts one hurried glance from his own French mercenaries, drawn up in the rear, to the grim ranks of the Barons' men that hem him in.
Is it too late? One fierce blow at the unsuspecting horsemen at his side, one cry to his French tronps, one desperate charge upon the unready lines before him, and these rebellious Barons might rue the day they dared to thwart his plans! A bolder hand might have turned the game even at that point. Had it been a Richard there, the cup of liberty might have been dashed from England's lips, and the taste of freedom held back for a hundred years.
But the heart of King John sinks before the stern faces of the English fighting men, and the arm of King John drops back on to his rein, and he dismounts and takes his seat in the foremost barge. And the Barons follow in, with each mailed hand upon the sword-bilt, and the word is given to let go.
Slowly the heavy, bright-decked barges leave the shore of Runningmede. Slowly against the swift current they work their ponderous way, till, with a low grumble, they grate against the bank of the little island that from this day will bear the name of Magna Charta Island. And King John has stepped upon the shore, and we wait in breathless silence till a great shout cleaves the air, and the great corner-stone in England's temple of liberty has, now we know, been firmly laid.
DAVY AND GOLIAR.-WILLIAM EDWARD PENNEY.
I'm tellin' this jest ez I heard it, y' know,
'Nd I reckon that most of the story is so,
Because the old feller who told it tu me
Aint much in the habit of lyin', y' see.
It 'pears thar wuz once, quite a long time ago,
Ezzactly how long now I really don't know,
Two armies, all ready 'nd spilin' tu fight
Each other 'bout sumthin', ’nd one side wuz right
Both sides of a valley called Elah they camped,
'Nd 'bout every mornin’’nd evenin' thar tramped
Out on the divide a big feller from Gath,
Who dared any man tu stand up in his path.
They called him Goliar, sum nickname, I 'spose;
What his other name wuz, p'raps nobody knows,
But I reckon a nickname like that oughter show
What sort of a critter he wuz-aint it so?
Well, he was a buster, 'bout fourteen foot high;
He wore a brass hat, if this feller don't lie,
With a jacket of brass, ’nd britches to match,
While a telegraph pole to his spear wa’n't a patch.
Well, he'd strut up ’nd down, ’nd dare 'tother sido
Tu send out a feller ’nd he'd tan his hide,
But not a blamed man wuz anywhar found
Who'd tackle the bully for even one round.
Well, it 'pears that a man wuz livin' near thar
Who'd sent seven sons outer eight to the war,
But thought that the youngest at hum he would keep
Tu help about chores ’nd look arter the sheep.
So this man, one mornin', he sez tu the boy:
“Perhaps, my son Davy, for a change you'd enjoy
Goin' down tu the camp ’nd takin' some grub
Tu yer brothers, who 're havin' a purty hard rub."
Well, Davy (dunno what his other name wuz)
Jest ached to git inter the scrimmage ’nd buzz;
So packed in a wagon some corn, bread, ’nd cheese,
'Nd started for camp, jest ez crank ez y' please.
When he got tu the trenches the fight had begun,
'Nd all Davy's brothers war deep in the fun;
But the oldest, Eliab, when Davy he spied,
Got mad ’nd he threatened tu tan Davy's hide.
He reckoned that Davy had jest run away,
'Nd left his dad's sheep, tu get inter the fray;
But Davy remarked that he wuz all right,
He'd come tu bring grub, not expectin' tu fight.
Well, purty soon out came Goliar, ’nd he
Went struttin' around feelin' big ez could be,
'Nd Davy's big brothers war'fraid tu go out
'Nd tackle him-twuz a big contract, no doubt.
Then Dave heerd him tellin' how Gineral Saul
Had promised his darter, likewise a big haul
Of greenbacks tu any man livin' who'd lick
Goliar of Gath, and du him up slick.
Well, Dave slipped away ’nd his steps he then bent,
Right straight tu the gineral's well guarded tent,
'Nd when he got in thar the gineral smiled
'Nd said he wuz really a bright han’sum child.
But when Davy offered to fight big Goliar,
Then Saul ’nd his officers thought they'd expire
With lafter, but Davy he told them right thar,
He'd killed empty-handed a lion ’nd b’ar.
Well, he seemed so anxious, the gineral said,
He could try it, of course; ’nd then on Dave's head
Put his own golden helmet, his gold overcoat
On his shoulders, 'nd give him his sword for tu tote.
Well, sir! with all them ar toggins on, he
Looked like a brass foundry gone off on a spree
'Nd they wuz so heavy he couldn't no more
Walk off than ez if he wuz spiked tu the floor.
So he kicked 'em all off ez quick ez he could,
Said they war for his style of fightin' no good,
'Nd that if he done any fightin' that day,
He'd go ez he pleased ’nd fight his own way.
Then in his shirtsleeves he walked out on the piain
Where bully Goliar wuz prancin' again;
He stopped for a minute and car'fully took
Five leetle smooth stuns from outer a brook,
Well, when big Goliar saw Davy out thar,
You jest oughter heerd the old Philistine swar;
He thought they wuz playin' a joke on tu him,
So he raised his big spear and looked mighty grim.
Well, Davy talked back at Goliar, you bet,
'Nd told him he'd have his old head cut off yet;
The bully he raved ’nd stomped on the ground
Till you'd thought an airthquake hed bruk loose around
You'd a bet on Goliar just then, I guess, but
Dave came o'er the plain at him lickity cut;
He was brave 'cause he had the right side of the mess
'Nd he thought of Saul's darter ’nd greenbacks, I guess.
Goliar he waited, with spear in the air,
Expectin' to chaw Davy up then and thar;
He looked so blamed little 'nd hadn't a thing
In his hands tu fight him with, 'ceptin’a sling.
When Davy got purty well out to’ard Goliar,
He stopped jest ez if he wuz 'fraid to go nigher;
Then, pullin' a smooth stun out of his pocket,
Got ready right straight at Goliar tu sock it.
Ez they stood all alone out thar on the plain,
Dave looked like a chippin' bird fightin' a crane,
'Nd both them great armies stood silent ez death,
With every man watchin' ’nd holdin' his breath.
Goliar stood lookin' at Dave with a sneer,
Fer what he wuz up tu, tu him wasn't clear;
But round whirls the sling, ’nd away the stun flies,
'Nd takes old Goliar between his two eyes.
'Twas a beautiful shot, ’nd bruk the big head
Of bully Goliar, ’nd down he fell dead.