William Morris Archive

Rejected fragment from Sir Peter Harpdon's End

Pub. CW, I, xxvi-xxx.
Draft in Morris's hand at Yale University Library, MS 1595.

[CW, I, xxvi]

In the Castle on the walls.

   And yet their hammering is grown fainter now;
An hour might be something, Sir.

                          No fear
But they'll be ready by the daylight, John.
Far better let this matter have its way;
Don't think of it, your heart grows heavy so.

        Sir, truly? Well, I know not, just as if
I were a builder and knew what would strain
And yet not break, or perhaps might not break.
Just so, you see, Sir, do I hold this; as for death
It makes my heart jump when I say the word,
But otherwise my thoughts keep off from it
Without much driving.

                        John, where were you born?
You never told me yet, whose son were you.

        At Goring by the Thames, a pleasant place:
So many sluices on from lock to lock,
All manner of slim trees—'tis now ten years
Since I was there, and I was young that time,
For I look older than I am, fair Sir.
My father holds a little manor there,
He's alive still: I mind once—pardon me,
I trouble you.

                No, Curzon, on my word.

        I mind once when my sister Anne was wed—
And she has children now: Why, what's to-day?
Tenth of November—we shall mind it long
Hereafter when we sit at home in peace—
The tenth to-day then, or to-morrow—which is it?
I never could keep these things in my mind—
Is poor Anne's birthday—hope it is to-day,
I shouldn't like them to be holding feast
While—God, Sir Peter, those men are in shot.
I'll fetch some archers, hold you still the while
[xxviij] The Green Tower men will be the least tired out
And John of Waltham draws the stronger bow.
No noise, Sir, I'll be back soon.         
He goes.

                                        That man now,
His thoughts go back in such a simple way,
Without much pain, I think, while mine—I feel
As if I were shut up in [a] close room
Steaming and stifling with no hope to reach
The free air outside—O if I had lived
To think of all the many happy days
I should have had, the pleasant quiet things,
Counted as little then, but each one now
Like lost salvation—Say I see her head
Turned round to smile at cheery word of mine;
I see her in the dance her gown held up
To free her feet, going to take my hand,
I see her in some crowded place bend down,
She is so tall, lay her hand flat upon
My breast beneath my chin as who should say,
Come here and talk apart: I see her pale,
Her mouth half open, looking on in fear
As the great tilt-yard fills; I see her, say,
Beside me on the dais; by my hearth
And in my bed who should have been my wife;
Day after day I see the French draw on;
Hold after hold falls as this one will fall,
Knight after knight hangs gibbeted like me,
Pennon on pennon do they drain us out
And I not there to let them. Lambert too,
I know what things he'll say—ah well, God grant
That he gets slain by these same arrows here
That come up now.      

Enter John Curzon.
                                So, Curzon; little noise,
Wind the big perriere that they call Torte Bouche.
I think we shall just reach them there: see now,
[xxix] You mark their beffroi by the loose ox-skins
If you strain hard your eyes; now aim well up
To the windward and you'll hit the midmost.
Set the staff—So, another inch this way of it,
Hands to the winch all ready. Now, Long Wat,
Stand with your six well on the right side
And aim about the little red bombard,
I mark them gathering there; you'll see them too
Within a little, when your eyelashes
Are well freed, so no hurry. By the Lordl
Here John of Waltham on [the] left, see here!
About the chestnut perriere I saw
The fellow with the red Montauban hat
Who did so well the first day—bend this way,
Lend me your arrow, there by the eightbarb
He's stooping.

        Yea, fair Sir, I see right well.

Curzon, all's over; they're quite ready now—
Are going to assault, I think, at once,
Here in the dark. (Aloud.) Yea, draw the catch when I
Cry out aloud whatever cry comes first.
Lads, draw to the barb points for the King's sake.
—St. Edward for Lord Richard of Bordeaux!
Broad arrows for the King!—Shout, boys, hurrah!
The beffroy's down.

                The Red Montauban hat
Hath got a token not a lady's, Sir.

By God they're moving though, their cries, Curzon—
"Our Lady for the Constable of France,"
[xxx]"Sanxere, Sanxere," "the Marshal for KingCharles,"
"St. Ives for Clisson—" Curzon, did you hear?

Yea, Sir, and felt; a good round ton, I doubt,
Has fallen from the wall. I'm ready.

Among the men then, by Lord Clisson's tent.

        St. George Guienne! Long Wat and all you
Shoot all you may.

                St. George! Why again there,
It comes away like dried mud; at this rate
They will not need the beffroi. By daybreak
May God have mercy on our souls, fair Sir!
They have made a breach—hark there, they know it too.

For PDF, see Rejected fragment from Sir Peter Harpdon's End