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the cakes, will make an excellent supper : but, mercy on us, how they are burnt! black as my shoe; they have not once been turned: you oaf, you lubber, you lazy loon
Alfred. Indeed, dame, I am sorry for it: but my mind was full of sad thoughts.
Gubba. Come, wife, you must forgive him; perhaps he is in love. I remember when I was in love with thee
Gandelin. You remember!
Gubba. Yes, dame, I do remember it, though it is many a long year since; my mother was making a kettle of furmety
Gandelin. Prithee, hold thy tongue, and let us eat our suppers.
Alfred. How refreshing is this sweet new milk, and this wholesome bread.
Gubba. Eat heartily, friend. Where shall we lodge him, Gandelin?
Gandelin. We have but one bed you
know; but there is fresh straw in the barn.
Alfred ( aside.) If I shall not lodge like a king, at least I shall ladge like a soldier. Alas! how many of my poor soldiers are stretched on the bare ground!
Gandelin. What noise do I hear! It is the trampling of horses. Good husband, go and see what is the matter.
Alfred. Heaven forbid my misfortunes should bring destruction on this simple family! I had rather have perished in the wood.
GUBBA returns followed by ELLA, with
his sword drawn. Gandelin. Mercy defend us, a sword!
Gubba. The Danes! the Danes! O do not kill us !
Ella (lineeling.) My liege, my Lord, my Sovereign! have I found you?
Alfred ( embracing him.) My brave Ella!
Ella. I bring you good news, my Sovereign! Your troops that were shut up
in Kinwith Castle made a desperate sally—the Danes were slaughtered. The fierce Hubba lies gasping on the plain.
Alfred. Is it possible! Am I yet a king?
Ella. Their famous standard, the Danish raven, is taken ; their troops are panic struck; the English soldiers call aloud for Alfred. Here is a letter which will inform you of more particulars. (Gives a letter.)
Gubba ( aside.) What will become of us? Ah! dame, that tongue of thine has undone us!
Gandelin. O, my poor dear husband! we shall all be hanged, that's certain. But who could have thought it was the King ?
Gubba. Why, Gandelin, do you see, we might have guessed he was born to be a king, or some such great man, because, you know, he was fit for nothing else.
Alfred (coming forward.) God be praised for these tidings! Hope is sprung up out of the depths of despair. 0, my friend ! shall I again shine in arms, -again fight at the head of my brave Englishmen,--lead them on to victory! Our friends shall now lift their heads again.
Ella. Yes, you have many friends, who have long been obliged, like their master, to skulk in deserts and caves, and wander from cottage to cottage. When they hear you are alive and in arms again, they will leave their fastnesses, and flock to your standard.
Alfred. I am impatient to meet them: my people shall be revenged.
Gubba and Gandelin (throwing them
selves at the feet of ALFRED.) O my lord
Gandelin. We hope your majesty will put us to a merciful death. Indeed, we did not know your majesty's grace.
Gubba. If your majesty could but pardon my wife's tongue; she means
; no harm, poor woman !
Alfred. Pardon you, good people! I not only pardon you, but thank you. You have afforded me protection in my distress; and if ever I am seated again on the throne of England, my first care shall be to reward your hospitality. I am now going to protect you. Come my faithful Ella, to arms ! to arins! My bosom burns to face once more the haughty Dane; and here I vow to Heaven, that I will never sheath the sword against these robbers, till either I lose my
life in this just cause, or Till dove-like Peace return to England's shore, And war and slaughter vex the land no more.