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And how the Ladye prayed them dear,
That all would stay the fight to see,
And deign, in love and courtesy,

To taste of Branksome cheer. s
Nor, while they bade to feast each Scot,
Were England's noble Lords forgot;
Himself, the hoary Seneschal, |
Rode forth, in seemly terms to call. -
Those gallant foes to Branksome Hall.
Accepted Howard, than whom kuight
Was never dubbed, more bold in fight;
Nor, when from war and armour free,
More famed for stately courtesy:
But angry Dacre rather chose
In his pavilion to repose.

VI.

Now, noble Dame, perchance you ask, ,
How these two hostile armies met
Deeming it were no easy task
To keep the truce which here was set;
Where martial spirits, all on fire,
Breathed only blood and mortal ire—
By mutual inroads, mutual blows,
By habit, and by nation, foes,
They met on,Teviot's strand:
They met, and sate them mingled down;
Without a threat, without a frown,
As brothers meet in foreign land:
The hands, the spear that lately grasped,
Still in the mailed gauntlet clasped,
Were interchanged in greeting dear;

Visors were raised, and faces shown,
And many a friend, to friend made known,
Partook of social cheer.
Some drove the jolly bowl about;
With dice and draughts some chased the
day; .. : .oz.
And some, with many a merry shout,
In riot, revelry, and rout,
Pursued the foot-ball play.
Yet, be it known, had bugles blown,
Or sign of war been seen,
Those bands, so fair together ranged,
Those hands, so frankly interchanged,
Had dyed with gore the green:
The merry shout by Teviotside
Had sunk in war-cries wild and wide,
And in the groan of death;
And whingers,” now in friendship bare,
The social meal to part and share,
Had found a bloody sheath.
"Twixt truce and war, such sudden change
Was not unfrequent, nor held strange,
In the old Border-day;
But yet on Branksome's towers and town,
In peaceful merriment, sunk down
The sun's declining ray.

VIII.

The blithesome signs of wassel gay
Decayed not with the dying day;

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Soon through the latticed windows tall
Of lofty Branksome's lordly hall,
Divided square by shafts of stone,
Huge flakes of ruddy lustre shone;
Nor less the gilded rafters rang
With merry harp, and beakers' clang;
And frequent, on the darkening plain,
Loud hollo, whoop, or whistle ran,
As bands, their stragglers to regain,
Give the shrill watch-word of their clan:
And revellers, o'er their bowls, proclaim
Douglas or Dacre's conquering name.

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Less frequent heard, and fainter still,
At length the various clamours died;
And you might hear, from Branksome hill,
No sound but Teviot's rushing tide;
Save, when the changing centinel
The challenge of his watch could tell;
And save, where, through the dark profound,
The clanging axe and hammer's sound
Rung from the nether lawn;
For many a busy hand toiled there,
Strong pales to shape, and beams to square,
The lists' dread barriers to prepare
Against the morrow's dawn.

X.
Margaret from hall did soon retreat,
Despite the Dame's reproving eye;
Nor marked she, as she left her seat,
Fill many a stifled sigh;

For many a noble warrior strove
To win the Flower of Teviot's love,
And many a bold ally.—
With throbbing head and anxious heart,
All in her lonely bower apart,
In broken sleep she lay:
By times, from silken couch she rose;
While yet the bannered hosts repose,
She viewed the dawning day:
Of all the hundreds sunk to rest,
First woke the loveliest and the best.

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She gazed upon the inner court,
Which in the tower's tall shadow lay;
Where coursers’ clang, and stamp, and snort,
Had rung the live-long yesterday;
Now still as death; till, stalking slow,
The jingling spurs announced his tread,
A stately warrior passed below;
But when he raised his plumed head—
Blessed Mary! can it be?—
Secure, as if in Ousenam bowers,
He walks thro’ Branksome's hostile towers,
With fearless step and free.
She dared not sign, she dared not speak—
Oh! if one page's slumbers break,
His blood the price must pay
Not all the pearls Queen Mary wears,
Nor Margaret's yet more precious teats,
Shall buy his life a day.

XII.

Yet was his hazard small; for well
You may bethink you of the spell
Of that sly urchin Page;
This to his lord he did impart,
And made him seem, by glamour'art,
A knight from Hermitage.
Unchallenged, thus, the warder's post,
The court, unchallenged, thus he crossed,
For all the vassalage:
But, O! what magic's quaint disguise
Could blind fair Margaret's azure eyes!
She started from her seat;
While with surprise and fear she strove,
And both could scarcely master love—
Lord Henry's at her feet.

XIII.

Oft have I mused, what purpose bad
That foul malicious urchin had
To bring this meeting round;
For happy love's a heavenly sight,
And by a vile malignant sprite
In such no joy is found; -
And oft I've deemed, perchance he thought
Their erring passion might have wrought
Sorrow, and sin, and shame;
And death to Cranstoun's gallant Knight,
And to the gentle Ladye bright,
Disgrace, and loss of fame.
But earthly spirit could not tell
The heart of them that loved so well,

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