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XXIV. The stranger smiled: “Since to your home A destined errand-knight I come, Announced by prophet sooth and old, Doom’d, doubtless, for achievement bold, I’ll lightly front each high emprise, For one kind glance of those bright eyes. Permit me, first, the task to guide Your fairy frigate o'er the tide.” The maid, with smile suppress'd and sly, The toil unwonted saw him try; For seldom sure, if e'er before, His noble hand had grasp'd an oar :" Yet with main strength his strokes he drew, And o'er the lake the shallop flew ; With heads erect, and whimpering cry, The hounds behind their passage ply. Nor frequent does the bright oar break The dark’ning mirror of the lake, Until the rocky isle they reach, And moor their shallop on the beach.
Until the mountain-maiden show’d
1 The Celtic chieftains, whose lives were continually exposed to peril, had usually, in the most retired spot of their domains, some place of retreat for the hour of necessity, which, as circumstances would admit, was a tower, a cavern, or a rustic hut, in a strong and secluded situation. One of these last gave refuge to the unfortunate Charles Edward, in his perilous wanderings after the battle of Culloden.
“It was situated in the face of a very rough, high, and rocky mountain, called Letternilichk, still a part of Benalder, full of great stones and crevices, and some scattered wood interspersed. The habitation called The Cage, in the face of that mountain, was within a small thick bush of wood. There were first some rows of trees laid down, in order to level the floor for a habitation: and as the place was steep, this raised the lower side to an equal height with the other: and these trees, in the way of joists or planks, were levelled with earth and gravel. There were betwixt the trees, growing naturally on their own roots, some stakes fixed in the earth, which, with the trees, were interwoven with ropes, made of heath and birch twigs, up to the top of The Cage, it being of a round or rather oval shape; and the whole thatched and covered over with fog. The whole fabric hung, as it were, by a large tree, which reclined from the one end, all along the roof, to the other, and which gave it the name of The Cage; and by chance there happened to be two stones at a small distance from one another, in the side next the precipice, resembling the pillars of a chimney, where the fire was placed. The smoke had its vent out here, all along the fall of the rock, which was
It was a lodge of ample size, But strange of structure and device; Of such materials, as around The workman's hand had readiest found. Lopp'd of their boughs, their hoar trunks bared. And by the hatchet rudely squared, To give the walls their destined height, The sturdy oak and ash unite; While moss and clay and leaves combined To fence each crevice from the wind. The lighter pine-trees, overhead, Their slender length for rafters spread, And wither'd heath and rushes dry Supplied a russet canopy. Due westward, fronting to the green, A rural portico was seen, Aloft on native pillars borne, Of mountain fir with bark unshorn, Where Ellen's hand had taught to twine The ivy and Idaean vine, The clematis, the favour'd flower Which boasts the name of virgin-bower, And every hardy plant could bear Loch Katrine's keen and searching air. An instant in this porch she staid, And gayly to the stranger said,
so much of the same colour, that one could discover no difference in the clearest day.”—HoME's History of the Rebellion. Lond. 1802, 4to, p. 381.
“On heaven and on thy lady call,
XXVII. “My hope, my heaven, my trust must be, My gentle guide, in following thee.”— He cross'd the threshold—and a clang Of angry steel that instant rang. To his bold brow his spirit rush'd, But soon for vain alarm he blush'd, When on the floor he saw display’d, Cause of the din, a naked blade Dropp'd from the sheath, that careless flung Upon a stag's huge antlers swung ; For all around the walls to grace, Hung trophies of the fight or chase: A target there, a bugle here, A battle-axe, a hunting spear, And broadswords, bows, and arrows store, With the tusk’d trophies of the boar. Here grins the wolf as when he died," And there the wild-cat's brindled hide The frontlet of the elk adorns, Or mantles o'er the bison's horns; Pennons and flags defaced and stain'd, That blackening streaks of blood retain'd,
1 [MS.—“Here grins the wolf as when he died, There hung the wild-cat's brindled hide, Above the elk's branch'd brow and skull, And fontlet of the forest bull.”]
And deer-skins, dappled, dun and white,
XXIX. The mistress of the mansion came, Mature of age, a graceful dame; Whose easy step and stately port Had well become a princely court,