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But when Melrose he reached, 'twas silence all ;
He meetly stabled his steed in stall,
And sought the convent's lonely wall.
Here paused the harp; and with its swell
The master's fire and courage fell:
Dejectedly, and low, he bowed,
And, gazing timid on the crowd,
He seemed to seek, in every eye,
If they approved his minstrelsy ;
And, diffident of present praise,
Somewhat he spoke of former days,
And how old age, and wandering long,
Had done his hand and harp some wrong.
The Dutchess and her daughters fair,
And every gentle ladye there,
Each after each, in due degree,
Gave praises to his melody;
His hand was true, his voice was clear,
And much they longed the rest to hear.
Encouraged thus, the aged man,
After meet rest, again began.
If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins gray.
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruined central tower;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave, -
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's
Then go—but go alone the while—
Then view Saint David's ruined pile;
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair
Short halt did Deloraine make there;
Little recked he of the scene so fair.
With dagger's hilt, on the wicket strong,"
He struck full loud, and struck full long.
The porter hurried to the gate—
“Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?”
“From Branksome I,” the warrior cried;
And straight the wicket opened wide:
For Branksome's chiefs had in battle stood,
To fence the rights of fair Melrose;
And lands and livings, many a rood,
Had gifted the shrine for their souls' repose.
Bold Deloraine his errand said;
The porter bent his humble head;
With torch in hand, and feet unshod,
And noiseless step, the path he trod:
The arched cloisters, far and wide,
Rang to the warrior's clanking stride;
Till, stooping low his lofty crest,
He entered the cell of the ancient priest,
And lifted his barred aventayle,”
To hail the monk of Saint Mary's aisle,
“The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me;
Says, that the fated hour is come,
And that to might I shall watch with thee,
To win the treasure of the tomb.”
From sackcloth couch the monk arose,
With toil his stiffened limbs he reared;
A hundred years had flung their snows
On his thin locks and floating beard.
And strangely on the knight looked he,
And his blue eyes gleamed wild and wide;
“And, darest thou, warrior' seek to see
What heaven and hell alike would hide?
My breast, in belt of iron pent,
With shirt of hair, and scourge of thorn;
For threescore years, in penance spent,
My knees those flinty stones have worn;
Yet all too little to atone
For knowing what should ne'er be known.
Wouldst thou thy every future year
In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,
Yet wait thy latter end with fear—
Then, daring warrior, follow me!”
“Penance, father, will Inone;
Prayer know I hardly one;
For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,
Save to patter an Ave Mary,
When I ride on a Border foray:
Other prayer can I none;
Sospeed me my errand, and let me be gone."