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XIV. Sooth spoke the maid.—Amid the tide The skiff. she mark'd lay tossing sore, And shifted oft her stooping side, In weary tack from shore to shore. Yet on her destined course no more She gain'd, of forward way, Than what a minstrel may compare To the poor mccd which peasants share, \Vho toil the livelong day; And such the risk her pilot braves, That oft, before she wore, Her howsprit kiss'd the broken waves, Where in white foam the ocean raves Upon the shelving shore. Yet, to their destined purpose true, Undaunted toil‘d her hardy crew, Nor look'd where shelter lay, Nor for Artornish Castle drew, Nor steer'd for Ares-bay.
But hadst thou known who sail'd so nigh, Far other glance were in thine eye!
Far other flush were on thy brow,
That, shaded by the bonnet, now
Of bridegroom when the bride is near!
XVII. Yes, sweep they on !—We will not leave, For them that triumph, those who grieve. With that armada gay Be laughter loud andjocund shout, And bards to cheer the wassail rout, With tale, romance, and lay; And of wild mirth each clamorous art, Which, if it cannot cheer the heart, May stupify and stun its smart, For one loud busy day. Yes, sweep they on ?—-But with that skiff Abides the minstrel tale, Where there was dread of surge and cliff, Labour that strain'd each sinew stiff, And one sad maiden’s wail.
XVIII. All day with fruitless sirife they toil’d, With eve the ebbing currents boil'd More fierce from strait and lake; And mid-way through the channel met Conflicting tides that foam and fret, And high their mingled billowsjet, As spears that, in the battle set, Springnpward as they break. Then too the lights of eve were past, And louder sung the western blast On rocks of lnuinmore; Rent was the sail, and strain'd the mast, And many a leak was gaping fast, And the pale steersman stood aghast, And gave the conflict o'er.
‘T was then that one, whose lofty look
Nor labour dull'd nor terror shook,
tt Brother, how hopest thou to abide
The fury of this wilder'd tide,
Or how avoid the rock's rude side,
Didst thou not mark the vessel reel,
With quivering planks and groaning keel, At the last billow's shock !
Yet how of better counsel tell,
Though here thou seest poor Isabel
For look on sea, or look on land,
Or you dark sky, on every hand
For her alone I grieve—on me
Danger sits light by land and sea.
Either to hide the tempest's lour,
Orwend to you unfriendly tower,
Or rush amid their naval power,
With war-cry wake their wassail-hour,
1: Bold stranger, no-—’gainst claim like thine,
Be what ye will, Artornish Hall
On this glad eve is free to all.
Though ye had drawn a hostile sword
Or mail upon your shoulders borne,
To battle with the Lord of Lorn,
Or, outlaw’d, dwelt by green-wood tree
Or aided even the murderous strife,
Of that fell homicide the Bruce,
This night had been a term of truce. —
XXVII. To land these two bold brethren leapt (The weary crew their vessel kept), And, lighted by the torches‘ flare, That seaward flung their smoky glare, The younger knight that maiden bare Half lifeless up the rock; On his strong shoulder lean‘d her head, And down her long dark tresses shed, As the wild vine, in tendrils spread, Droops from the mountain oak. Him follow’cl close that elder lord, And in his hand a sheathed sword, Such as few arms could wield; But when he boun’d him to such task, Well could it cleave the strongest casque, And rend the surest shield.
And, comrades, gaze not on the maid,
And on these men who ask our aid,
A damsel tired of midnight bark,
Or Wanderers of a moulding stark,
But not for Eachin's reproof
Would page or vassal stand aloof,
As men of courtesy untaught,
Till fiery Edward roughly caught,
His chequer'd plaid, and in its shroud,
To hide her from the vulgar crowd, lnvolved his sister fair.
His brother, as the clansman bent
His sullen brow in discontent,
<t Vassal, were thine the cloak of pall
That decks thy lord in bridal hall,
XXX. Proud was his tone, but calm; his eye Had that compelling dignity, His mien that hearing haught and high, Which common spirits fear; Needed nor word nor signal more, Nod, wink, and laughter, all were o’er; Upon each other back they bore, And gazed like startled deer. But now appear’d the seneschal, Commission'd by his lord to call The strangers to the haron's hall, Where feasted fair and free That Island Prince in nuptial tide, With Edith there, his lovely bride, And her bold brother by her side, And many a chief, the flower and pride Of western land and sea.
The Island Chieftain feasted high;
But there was in his troubled eye
A gloomy fire, and on his brow
Now sudden tlush'd, and faded now,
Like distant sounds which dreamers hear.
And call for pledge and lay,
Yet nought amiss the bridal throng l\Iark'd in brief mirth, or musing long; The vacant brow, the nnlistening ear, They gave to thoughts of raptures near, And his fierce starts of sudden glee, Seem'd hunts of bridegroom's ecstacy. Nor thus alone misjudged the crowd, Since lofty Lorn, suspicious, proud, Andjealous of his Imnour'd line,
And that keen knight, De Argentine (t)
But one sad heart, one tearful eye,
Her wayward bridegroom's varied cheer.
She watch'd—yet fear'd to meet his glance, And he shunn'd her's;—till when by chance They met, the point of focman’s lance
Ilad given a milder pang!
And from the table sprang.
Of Lorn this pledge I drink-
By this fair bridal-link!»—
VI. IA Brother of Lorn,» with hurried voice He said, M and you, fair lords, rejoice I Here, to augment our glee, Come wandering knights from travel far, Well proved, they say, in strife of war, And tempest on the sea.—Ho! give them at your board such place As best their presences may grace, And bid them welcome free !»— With solemn step, and silver wand, The seneschal the presence scann‘d Of these strange guests; (3) and well he knew How to assign their rank its due; For, though the costly furs That erst had deek'd their caps were torn, And their gay robes were over-worn, And s0il'd their gilded spurs, Yet such a high commanding grace Was in their mien and in their face, As suited best the princely dais, And royal canopy; And there he marshall'd them their place, First of that company.
Then lords and ladies spake aside,
And angry looks the error chide,
_That gave to guests unnamed, unknown,
A place so near their prince's throne;
a For forty years a seneschal,
To marshal guests in bower and hall
Worship and birth to me are known,
By look, by hearing, and by tone,
Not by furr'd robe or hroider'd zone;
I 'll gage my silver wand of state,
That these three strangers oft have sate In higher place than now.»
VIII. (1 I, too,» the aged Ferrand said, it Am qualified by minstrel trade Of rank and place to tell;—Mark'd ye the younger stranger's eye, My mates, how quick, how keen, how high, How fierce its flashes fell, Glancing among the noble rout As if to seek the noblest out, Because the owner might not brook On any save his peers to look‘! And yet it moves me more, That steady, calm, majestic brow, With which the elder chief e'en now Scann‘d the gay presence o'er,
Like being of superior kind, _
The mantle veil both face and eye,
Nor could her form's fair symmetry.»
IX. Suspicious doubt and lordly scorn Lour'd on the haughty front of Lorn, From underneath his brows-of pride, The stranger guests he sternly eyed, And whisper'd closely what the ear Of Argentine alone might hear; Then question'd, high and brief,
If, in their voyage, aught they knew Of the rebellious Scottish crew,
Vvho to Ilath-Erin's shelter drew,
With Carrick‘s out_law’d chief‘! (4)
And if, their winter's exile o'er,
They harbour'd still by Ulster's shore, Or launch‘d their galleys on the main, To vex their native land again‘!
That younger stranger, fierce and high,
With look of equal sc0rn;—
I warn thee he has sworn,
To Allaster of Low.“-
Then whisper'd Argentine,—
If right this guess of mine.»-
Or the mermaid of the wave,
XII. sono comlnuen.
<< No !—tl|y splendours nothing tell, Foreign art or faery spell.
Moulded thou for monarch's use,
When the royal robe he lied
O'er a heart of wrath and pride; Thence in triumph wert thou torn, By the victor hand of Lorn !
it When the gem was won and lost,
Hung aloud Bendourish Fell,
Hardly 'scaped with scathe and scorn,
XIII. some concnunsn.
u Vain was then the Douglas brand, i Vain the Campbell's vaunted hand, (7)
Vain Kirkpatrick's bloody dirk,
Fled the fiery De la [I-aye, (9)
When this broach, triumphant borne,
(K Farthest fled, its former lord
Left his men to brand and cord,
Let him fly from coast to coast,
As glares the tiger on his foes,
I'lemm'd in by hunters, spears, and bows,
Selects the object of his spring,—
Now on the hard, now on his lord,
So Edward glared and grasp'd his sword—
After high deeds and sufferings long,
To chafe thee for a menial'si song 7
Well hast thou framed, old man, thy strains,
Of Lorn's three vassals, true and bold,
Who rent their lord from Bruce's hold,
As underneath his knee he lay,
And died to save him in the fray.