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That very calm and callous look,
That fiendish sneer his visage took,
As when he said, in scornful mood,
“There is a gallant in the wood –
I did not slay him as he stood—
All praise be to my Maker given :
Long suffrance is one path to heaven.”
Thus far the woful tale was heard,
When something in the thicket stirr'd.
Up Redmond sprung ; the villain Guy,
(For he it was that lurk'd so nigh,)
Drew back—he durst not cross his steel
A moment's space with brave O'Neale,
For all the treasured gold that rests
In Mortham's iron-banded chests.
Redmond resumed his seat;-he said,
Some roe was rustling in the shade.
Bertram laugh’d grimly, when he saw
His timorous comrade backward draw ;
“A trusty mate art thou, to fear
A single arm, and aid so near !
Yet have I seen thee mark a deer.
Give me thy carabine—I’ll show
An art that thou wilt gladly know,
How thou mayst safely quell a foe.”
On hands and knces fierce Bertram drew
The spreading birch and hazels through,
Till he had Redmond full in view ;
The gun he levell’d—Mark like this
Was Bertram never known to miss,
When fair opposed to aim there sate
An object of his mortal hate.
That day young Redmond's death had seen,
13ut twice Matilda came between
The carabine and Redmond's breast,
Just ere the spring his finger press'd.
A deadly oath the ruffian swore,
But yet his fell design forbore :
“It ne'er,” he mutter'd, “shall be said,
That thus I scath'd thee, haughty maid!”
Then moved to seek more open aim,
When to his side Guy Denzil came :
“Bertram, forbear !—we are undone
Forever, if thou fire the gun.
By all the fiends, an armed force
Descends the dell, of foot and horse
We perish if they hear a shot—
Madman we have a safer plot—
Nay, friend, be ruled, and bear thee back!
Behold, down yonder hollow track,
The warlike leader of the band
Comes, with his broadsword in his hand.”
Bertram look’d up; he saw, he knew
That Denzil’s fears had counsell'd true,
Then cursed his fortune and withdrew,
Threaded the woodlands undescried,
And gain'd the cave on Greta side.
XXV II. They whom dark Bertram, in his wrath, Doom'd to captivity or death, Their thoughts to one sad subject lent, Saw not nor heard the ambushment. Heedless and unconcern'd they sate, While on the very verge of fate; Heedless and unconcern'd remain'd, When Heaven the murderer's arm restrained ; As ships drift darkling down the tide, . . Nor see the shelves o'er which they glide. Uninterrupted thus they heard What Mortham's closing tale declared. IIe spoke of wealth as of a load, By Fortune on a wretch bestow'd, In bitter mockery of hate, His cureless woes to aggravate ; But yet he pray’d Matilda's care Might save that treasure for his heirHis Edith's son—for still he raved As confident his life was saved ; In frequent vision, he averr'd, He saw his face, his voice he heard, Then argued calm—had murder been, The blood, the corpses, had been seen ; Some had pretended, too, to mark On Windermere a stranger bark, Whose crew, with jealous care, yet mild, Guarded a female and a child. While these faint proofs he told and press d, Hope seem'd to kindle in his breast;
Though inconsistent, vague, and vain,
It warp'd his judgment, and his brain.”
XXVIII. These solemn words his story close – “Heaven witness for me, that I chose My part in this sad civil fight, Moved by no cause but England’s right. My country’s groans have bid me draw My sword for gospel and for law ;These righted, I fling arms aside, And seek my son through Europe wide. My wealth, on which a kinsman nigh Already casts a grasping eye, With thee may unsuspected lie. When of my death Matilda hears, Let her retain her trust three years; If none, from me, the treasure claim, Perish’d is Mortham's race and name. Then let it leave her generous hand, And flow in bounty o'er the land; Soften the wounded prisoner's lot, Rebuild the peasant's ruined cot; So spoils, acquired by fight afar, Shall mitigate domestic war.”
To that high mind, by sorrow swerved,
Gave sympathy his woes deserved;"
But Wilfrid chief, who saw reveal’d
Why Mortham wish'd his life conceal’d,
In secret, doubtless, to pursue
The schemes his wilder'd fancy drew.
Thoughtful he heard Matilda tell,
That she would share her father's cell,
IIis partner of captivity,
Where'er his prison-house should be :
Yet grieved to think that Rokeby-hall,
Dismantled, and forsook by all,
Open to rapine and to stealth,
Had now no safeguard for the wealth,
Intrusted by her kinsman kind,
And for such noble use design'd.
“Was Barnard Castle then her choice,”
Wilfrid inquired with hasty voice,
“Since there the victor's laws ordain,
Her father must a space remain *"
A flutter'd hope his accents shook,
A flutter'd joy was in his look.
Matilda hasten’d to reply,
For anger flash'd in Redmond's eye –
“Duty,” she said, with gentle grace,
• Kind Wilfrid, has no choice of place ;
Else had I for my sire assign'd
Prison less galling to his mind,
1 |xis.--To that high mind thus warp'd and swerved,
The pity gave his woes deserved.”!
WOL. IV. 13