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A Forgotten Tale


From Songs of Action (1898).

[The scene of this ancient fight, recorded by Froissart, is still
called 'Altura de los Inglesos.' Five hundred years later
Wellington's soldiers were fighting on the same ground.]


'Say, what saw you on the hill,
Campesino Garcia?'
'I saw my brindled heifer there,
A trail of bowmen, spent and bare,
And a little man on a sorrel mare
Riding slow before them.'

'Say, what saw you in the vale,
Campesino Garcia?'
'There I saw my lambing ewe
And an army riding through,
Thick and brave the pennons flew
From the lances o'er them.'

'Then what saw you on the hill,
Campesino Garcia?'
'I saw beside the milking byre,
White with want and black with mire,
The little man with eyes afire
Marshalling his bowmen.'

'Then what saw you in the vale,
Campesino Garcia?'
'There I saw my bullocks twain,
And amid my uncut grain
All the hardy men of Spain
Spurring for their foemen.'

'Nay, but there is more to tell,
Campesino Garcia!'
'I could not bide the end to view;
I had graver things to do
Tending on the lambing ewe
Down among the clover.'

'Ah, but tell me what you heard,
Campesino Garcia!'
'Shouting from the mountain-side,
Shouting until eventide;
But it dwindled and it died
Ere milking time was over.'

'Nay, but saw you nothing more,
Campesino Garcia?'
'Yes, I saw them lying there,
The little man and sorrel mare;
And in their ranks the bowmen fair,
With their staves before them.'

'And the hardy men of Spain,
Campesino Garcia?'
'Hush! but we are Spanish too;
More I may not say to you:
May God's benison, like dew,
Gently settle o'er them.'


Arthur Conan Doyle