AMUSEMENTS FOR EVERYBODY 127
Ethelred, followed by Minstrel). Out of this house you go this very moment! ... I will have no more to do with you and your lazy, wasteful ways. ...
Alfred (interrupting).—Ah! At last! My friend, my friend, what news ?
Ethelred.—Good news, my Lord!
Good-Wife (open-mouthed).—My Lord! What next, I wonder!
The Minstrel (kneeling and kissing the King's hand).—Ah! your Majesty! How good it is to find you safe and well!
Good-Wife.—Your Majesty! The man's mad!
King Alfred.—The news! I pray you, if you love me, speak! I know nothing!
Ethelred.—Hubba the Dane is dead!
King Alfred.—God be praised!
The Minstrel.—Their Raven Standard is taken. We have it.
Ethelred.—Hubba grew too bold. Wales he invaded, leaving every town in flames: then came he to Devon, and there he met his fate at Ken worth Castle.
The Minstrel.—The Devon men were few but desperate, they determined to conquer or to die. . . .
King Alfred (impatiently).—Yes, yes!
Ethelred.—By night they rushed on the enemy, and took them unawares. Hubba was slain, the Standard taken, and their whole armv fled in breathless fear. . . .
The Minstrel (triumphantly).—'Tis said their Raven Standard brings them fortune; now they have lost it, now the tide is turned. I will make a song of it, O King! . . .
Good-Wife (very much frightened).—King!
The Minstrel.—And I will sing it to thee, King, on the day when thou shalt come again to thy throne.
King Alfred.—Ay, the tide is turned. ... I feel it ... we shall conquer now. Do you, each of you, take a different path over the country and spread the news far and wide. Bid all who love England and King Alfred come swiftly and well armed to Selwood Forest.
Good-Wife.—King Alfred! Burned my cakes black as cinders ... oh, mercy . . . mercy . . . and I boxed his ears for it! . . . Woe's me! . . . woe's me! . . .