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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

George Walter Thornbury 1828–76

The Three Troopers

INTO the Devil tavern

Three booted troopers strode,

From spur to feather spotted and splash’d

With the mud of a winter road.

In each of their cups they dropp’d a crust,

And star’d at the guests with a frown;

Then drew their swords, and roar’d for a toast,

“God send this Crum-well-down!”

A blue smoke rose from their pistol locks,

Their sword blades were still wet;

There were long red smears on their jerkins of buff,

As the table they overset.

Then into their cups they stirr’d the crusts,

And curs’d old London town;

Then wav’d their swords, and drank with a stamp,

“God send this Crum-well-down!”

The ’prentice dropp’d his can of beer,

The host turn’d pale as a clout;

The ruby nose of the toping squire

Grew white at the wild men’s shout.

Then into their cups they flung the crusts,

And show’d their teeth with a frown;

They flash’d their swords as they gave the toast,

“God send this Crum-well-down!”

The gambler dropp’d his dog’s-ear’d cards,

The waiting-women scream’d,

As the light of the fire, like stains of blood,

On the wild men’s sabres gleam’d.

Then into their cups they splash’d the crusts,

And curs’d the fool of a town,

And leap’d on the table, and roar’d a toast,

“God send this Crum-well-down!”

Till on a sudden fire-bells rang,

And the troopers sprang to horse;

The eldest mutter’d between his teeth,

Hot curses—deep and coarse.

In their stirrup cups they flung the crusts,

And cried as they spurr’d through town,

With their keen swords drawn and their pistols cock’d,

“God send this Crum-well-down!”

Away they dash’d through Temple Bar,

Their red cloaks flowing free,

Their scabbards clash’d, each back-piece shone—

None lik’d to touch the three.

The silver cups that held the crusts

They flung to the startled town,

Shouting again, with a blaze of swords,

“God send this Crum-well-down!”