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Littell's Living Age/Volume 173/Issue 2235/On the Belfry Tower

< Littell's Living Age‎ | Volume 173

"Look down the road. You see that mound Rise on the right, its grassy round Broken as by a scar?"

                   We stood,

Where every landscape-lover should, High on the gray old belfry's lead, Scored with rude names, and to the tread Waved like a sea. Below us spread Cool gravestones, watched by one great yew. To right were ricks; thatched roofs a few; Next came the rectory, with its lawn And nestling schoolhouse; next, withdrawn Beyond a maze of apple boughs, The long, low-latticed manor-house. The wide door showed an antlered hall: Then, over roof and chimney-stack, You caught the fish-pond at the back, The roses, and the old red wall. Behind, the Dorset ridges go With straggling, wind-clipped trees, and so The eye came down the slope to follow The white road winding in the hollow, Beside the mound of which he spoke.

"There," said the rector, "from the town The Roundheads rode across the down. Sir Miles — 'twas then Sir Miles's day — Was posted farther south, and lay Watching at Weymouth; but his son — Rupert by name — an only one, The veriest youth, it would appear, Scrambling about for jackdaws here, Spied them a league off. People say, Scorning the tedious turret-way, (Or else because the butler's care Had turned the key to keep him there), He slid down by the rain-pipe. Then, Arming the hinds and serving-men With half-pike and with harquebuss, Snatched from the wainscot's overplus, Himself in rusty steel-cap clad, With flapping ear-pieces, the lad Led them by stealth around the ridge, So flanked the others at a bridge. They were but six to half a score, And yet five crop-ears, if not more, Sleep in that hillock. Sad to tell, The boy, by some stray petronel, Or friend's or foe's — report is vague — Was killed; and then, for fear of plague, Buried within twelve hours or so.

"Such is the story. Shall we go? I have his portrait here below; Grave, olive-cheeked, a southern face. His mother, who was dead, had been Something, I think, about the queen, Long ere the days of that disgrace, Saddest our England yet has seen. Poor child! The last of all his race."

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1929, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.