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THE BEGUE OF VILLAINES.

Sir Constable, some thought
Let us bestow on tidings whence we learn
The fears o' the adverse, and the slide this way
Of Ypres, Ghent, and Bruges.

SIR RAOUL OF RANEVAL.

Should these towns turn, A larger force the Regent were constrain'd To keep i' the west; and passing down the Scheldt By Tournay, we are less opposed.

SIR LOIS OF SANXERE.

Not so.

SIR RAOUL OF RANEVAL.

I say we meet with opposition less
Upon the Scheldt at Tournay.

SIR LOIS OF SANXERE.

I say, no. Turning our faces from these doubting towns, What can they but fall back ?

SIR RAOUL OF RANEVAL.

Wilt have it so ?
Methinks, my lords, if turning and backsliding
And lack of loyalty-
LESTOVET (to Sir FLEUREANT OF HEURLÉE).

Hilloa, sir, ho!
You cannot go, you must not quit the board ;
My lords will further question you anon.
Spake you not of the Scheldt ? doubtless

my

lords Would hear

upon that.

BOURBON.

Aye, aye, the Scheldt; What say'st thou of the Scheldt ?

SIR FLEUREANT.

My lords, your pardon; With my own eyes I have not view'd the Scheldt Higher than Oudenarde; yet what I know More sure than common rumour I may tell, That reach by reach from Elsegem to Kam, At sundry stations, say Kerckhoven first, 'Twixt Berkhem and Avelghem, where the Ronne Its tide contributes elbowing Escanaffe, At Pontespiers and Pecq, and divers points Betwixt them interposed, strong piles are driven Deep in the belly of the stream athwart. Thus neither up nor down can make their way Boat, raft, nor caravel.

BASTARD OF LANGRES.

We see, my lords, The Scheldt is no purveyor of our victual Should we proceed by Tournay.

LORD OF SAIMPI.

I surmise We shall find spears as thick upon the banks As stakes within the stream.

SIR RAOUL OF RANEVAL.

Then let us find them ! Who is it now that flinches and postpones ? I say, once pass'd the Scheldt, and better far We should confront the Flemish spears; so be it!

We'd give the villains such a taste of France
That thence for evermore · Mount Joye St. Denis'
Should be a cry to make their life-blood freeze
And teach rebellion duty.

SIR LOIS OF SANXERE.

Fee, faw, fum!

LESTOVET.

Sir Jobn de Vien would speak; Sir John de Vien
Hath not yet spoken.

SIR JOHN DE VIEN.

Here we lie, my lords, At Arras still, disputing. I am a man Of little fruitfulness in words; the days That we lie here, my lords, I deem ill spent. Once and again the time of year is told, That we are in November: whiles we vex This theme, what follows ?-why, December! True, The time of year is late, my lords; yea truly, The fall of the year, I say, my lords, November, Is a late season when it rains, my lords. I have not, as you know, the gift of speech, But thus much may a plain man say,-time flies ; The English are a people deft, my lords, And sudden in the crossing of the seas ; And should we linger here with winter coming, We were not call'd good men of war, forsooth. So truly, sirs, my voice, with humbleness, Is for short counsel ; in good truth, my lords

THE KING.

Dear uncle, what's o'clock ?

BOURBON.

'Tis noon, sweet cousin.

THE KING.

I want my dinner.

BOURBON.

Presently, fair cousin.

SIR LOIS OF SANXERE.

Your majesty is of the admiral's mind;
You love short counsel; marry, and of mine ;
I love it too; more specially I love it
With mallets at our backs and winter near.
We talk so long that what is said at first
What follows sponges from our memories.
Pass to the vote, my lords, nor waste your breath
In further talk.

BOURBON.

Then pass we to the vote.

THE CONSTABLE.
So be it; to the vote.

OTHERS.
Agreed : to the vote.

LESTOVET.

My lords, may it please you, ere your votes I gather
That briefly I rehearse what each hath said,
As noted with a hasty pen, or writ
In a weak memory.

BOURBON.

So do, so do.

LESTOVET.

First, my lord constable : he bade you

think What length of way and waters lay between

Ere you

could reach the Lis; where when you come You find no bridge, and on the further bank The Flemish power: then spake my Lord of Saimpi, Touching a passage nearer to the springs By Venay and St. Venant: whereunto My Lord of Raneval made answer meet, That though the Lis were fordable above, Yet in the lands of Cassel and Vertus There dwelt a dangerous people, sulking boors, Who, when we straggled, as perforce we must, Through bye-ways sunder'd by the branching waters, Should fall upon us, founder'd in the sloughs, And raise the country round :—thus far, my lords, Had you proceeded, when the tiding came Of Ypres, Ghent, and Bruges upon the turn, Repentant of their sins and looking back For their allegiance; with the sequel fair Of much diminish'd squadrons at Commines. Then though my lord of Raneval spake well Of clearance on the Scheldt, through direful need That now must westward suck the Flemish force, Yet in abatement came the shrewd account Of how the Scheldt was grated, gagg’d, jaw-lock’d, With here a turnpike and with there a turnpike, And Friesland horses. Said the Knight of Langres, How shall our victual reach us? To which adds Sir Hugh of Saimpi, that the banks are kept. Whereat my Lord of Raneval rejoin'd That he, as best became him, took no heed, So it were soon, to whereabouts he faced The Flemish scum in arms, or on the Scheldt, Or on the Lis

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