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Thy kindred ambush lies before,
By Him whose word is truth! I swear,
– But hark! what means you faint halloo ?
XXVII. She had withdrawn the fatal shaft, And gazed on it, and feebly laugh'd; Her wreath of broom and feathers gray, Daggled with blood, beside her lay. The knight, to staunch the life-stream tried,
Stranger, it is in vain!» she cried, « This hour of death has given me more Of reason's power
years before; For, as these ebbing veins decay, My frenzied visions fade away. A helpless injured wretch I die, And something tells me in thine eye, That thou wert my avenger born. Seest thou this tress?-0! still I've worn This little tress of yellow hair, Through danger, frenzy, and despair! It once was bright and clear as thine, But blood and tears have dimm'd its shine. I will not tell thee when 't was shred, Nor from what guiltless victim's head-, My brain would turn !- but it shall wave Like plumage on thy helmet brave, Till sun and wind shall bleach the stain, And thou wilt bring it me again.I waver still. -O God! more bright Let reason beam her parting light!0! by thy knighthood's honour'd sign, And for thy life preserved by mine, When thou sbalt see a darksome man, Who boasts him chief of Alpine's clan, With tartans broad and shadowy plume, And hand of blood, and brow of gloom, Be thy heart bold, thy weapon strong, And wreak poor Blanche of Devan's wrong! They watch for thee by pass and fellAvoid the path-O God !-farewell !»–
XXIX. The shades of eve come slowly down, The woods are wrapp'd in deeper brown, The owl awakens from her dell, The fox is heard upon the fell; Enough remains of glimmering light, To guide the wanderer's steps aright, Yet not enough from far to show His figure to the watchful foe. With cautious step, and ear awake, He climbs the crag, and threads the brake; And not the summer solstice, there, Temper'd the midoight mountain air, But every breeze, that swept the wold, Benumb'd his drenched limbs with cold. Jo dread, in danger, and alone, Famish'd and chill'd, through ways unknown, Tangled and steep, he journey'd on; Till, as a rock's huge point he turn'd, A watch-fire close beside him burn'd.
XXVIII. A kindly heart had brave Fitz-James; Fast pour'd his eye at pity's claims, And now, with mingled grief and ire, He saw the murder'd maid expire. « God, in my need, be my relief, As I wreak this on yonder chief !»— A lock from Blanche's tresses fair He blended with her bridegroom's hair; The mingled braid in blood he dyed, And placed it on his bonnet-side:
Thy name and purpose! Saxon, stand!» « A stranger.»-« What dost thou require ?»— « Rest and a guide, and food and fire. My life's beset, my path is lost, The gale has chill'd my limbs with frost.»« Art thou a friend to Roderick?»-« No.»-« Thou darest not call thyself a foe?»--« I dare! to him and all the band He brings to aid his murderous hand.»—« Bold words !--but, though the beast of game The privilege of chase may claim, Though space and law the stag we lend, Ere hound we slip, or bow we bend,
And lights the fearful path on mountain side;
Fair as that beam, although the fairest far, Giving to horror grace, tò danger pride,
Shine martial Faith, and Courtesy's bright star, Through all the wreckful storms that cloud the brow
Who ever reck'd where, how, or when,
say thou camest a secret spy!»-« They do, by leaven!--Come Roderick Dhu, And of his clan the boldest two, And let me but till morning rest, I write the falsehood on their crest.» « If by the blaze I mark aright, Thou bear'st the belt and spur of knight.» « Then by these tokens mayst thou know Each proud oppressor's mortal foe.»-« Enough, enough ; sit down and share A soldier's couch, a soldier's fare ---
fave him of his Highland clieer,
Stranger, I am to Roderick Dhu
way, O'er stock and stone, through watch and ward, Till past Clan-Alpine's outmost guard, As far as Coilantogle's ford; From thence thy warrant is thy sword.»— « I take thy courtesy, by Heaven, As freely as 't is nobly given !»« Well, rest thee; for the bittern's
II. That early beam, so fair and sheen, Was twinkling through the hazel screen, When, rousing at its glimmer red, The warriors left their lowly bed, Look'd out upon the dappled sky, . Mutter'd their soldier matins by, And then a waked their fire, to steal, As short and rude, their soldier meal. That o'er, the Gael around him threw His graceful plaid of varied hue, And, true to promise, led the way, By thicket green and mountain gray. A wildering path!- they winded now Along the precipice's brow, Commanding the rich scenes beneath, The windings of the Forth and Teich, And all the vales between that lie, Till Stirling's turrets melt in sky; Then, sunk in copse, their farthest glance Gain'd not the length of horseman's lance. *T was oft so steep, the foot was fain Assistance from the hand to gain; So tangled oft, that, bursting through, Each hawthorn shed her showers of dew,That diamond dew, so pure and clear, It rivals all but beauty's tear'
NII. At length they came where, stern and steep, The hill sinks down upon the deep. Here Vennachar in silver flows, There, ridge on ridge, Benledi rose; Ever the hollow path twined on, Beneath steep bank and threatening stone; An hundred men might hold the post With hardihood against a host. The rugged mountain's scanty cloak Was dwarfish shrubs of birch and oak, With shingles bare, and cliffs between, And patches bright of bracken green, And heather black, that waved so high, It held the copse in rivalry. But where the lake slept deep and still, Dank osiers fringed the swamp and hill; And oft both path and hill were torn, Where wintry torrent down had borne, And heap'd upon the cumber'd land Its wreck of rocks, and sand. So toilsome was the road to trace, The guide, abating of his
pace, Led slowly through the pass's jaws, And ask'd Fitz-James, by what strange cause He sought these wilds, traversed by few, Without a pass from Roderick Dhiu.
1. Fair as the earliest beam of castern light,
When first, by the bewilder'd pilgrim spied, It smiles upon the dreary brow of night,
And silvers o'er die torrent's foaming lide,
The Scottish Highlander calls himself Gacl, or Gaul, and terms the Lowlanders, Sassenach, or Saxons.
« Still was it outrage ;-yet 't is true,
IV. « Brave Gael, my pass, in danger tried, Hangs in my belt, and by my side; Yet, sooth to tell,» the Saxon said, «I dream'd not now to claim its aid. When here, but three days since, I came, Bewilderd in pursuit of game, All secm'd as peaceful and as still,' As the mist slumbering on yon bill; Thy dangerous chief was then afar, Nor soon expected back from war. Thus said, at least, my mountain guide, Though deep, perchance, the villain lied.»— « Yet why a second venture try?»— « A warrior thou, and ask me why!Moves our free course by such fix'd cause, As gives the poor mechanic laws? Enough, I sought to drive away The lazy hours of peaceful day; Slight cause will then suffice to guide A knight's free footsteps far and wide,-A falcon flown, a greyhound stray'd, The merry glance of mountain maid; Or, if a path be dangerous known, The danger's self is lure alone.»—.
morn I knew
VI. Wrothful at such arraignment foul, Dark lourd the clansman's sable scowl. A space he paused, then sternly said, « And heard'st thou wliy he drew his blade? Heard'st thou that shameful word and blow Brought Roderick's vengeance on his foc? What reck'd the chieftain if he slood On Highland heath, or Holyrood ? lle rights such wrong where it is given, If it were in the court of heaven.»--
VII. Answer'd Fitz-James,--« And, if I sought, Think'st thou no other could be brought? What deem ye of my path way-laid? My life given o'er to ambuscade?»«As of a meed to rashness due: Hadst thou sent warning fair and truc,— I seek my hound, or falcon stray'd, I seek, good faith, a lighland maid, Free hadst thou been to come and go; But sccret path marks secret foe. Nor yet, for this, even as a spy, Hadst thou, unheard, been doom'd to die, Save to fulfil an augury.»
« Well, let it pass; nor will I now
IX. « Have, then, thy wish!»-he whistled shrill, And he was answer'd from the hill; Wild as the scream of the curlieu, From crag to crag the signal tlew. Instant, through copse and heath, arose Bonnets and spears and bended bows; On right, on left, above, below, Sprung up at once the lurking foe; From shingles gray their lances start, The bracken-bush sends forth the dart, The rushes and the willow-wand Are bristling into axe and brand, And every tuft of broom gives life To plaided warrior arm d for strife. That whistle garrison'd the glen At once with full five hundred men, As if the yawning hill to heaven A subterranean host had given. Watching their leader's beck and will, All silent there they stood and still. Like the loose crags whose threatening mass Lay tottering o'er the hollow pass, As if an infant's touch could urge Their headlong passage down the verge, With step and weapon forward flung, Upon the mountain side they hung. The mountaineer cast glance of pride Along Benledi's living side, Then fix'd his cye and sable brow Full on Fitz-James—« How say'st thou now? These are Clan-Alpine's warriors true; , And, Saxon, “I am Roderick Dhu!»-
XI. Fitz-James look'd round-yet scarce believed The witness that his sight received; Such apparition well might seem Delusion of a dreadful dream. Sir Roderick in suspense hie eyed, And to his look the chief replied, « Fear nought-nay, that I need not sayBut doubt not aught from mine array. Thou art my guest;-) pledged my word As far as Coilantogle ford: Nor would I call a clansman's brand For aid against one valiant hand, Though on our strife lay every
X. Fitz-James was brave:— Though to his heart The life-blood thrillid with sudden start, He mann'd himself with dauntless air, Return'd the chief his haughty stare, His back against a rock he bore, And firmly placed his foot before:« Come one, come all! this rock shall fly From its firm base as soon as I.»Sir Roderick mark'd-and in his eyes Respect was mingled with surprise, And the stern joy which warriors feel In foemen worthy of their steel. Short space he stood-then waved his hand: Down sunk the disappearing band; Each warrior vanish'd where he stood, In broom or bracken, heath or wood;
XII. The chief in silence strode before, And reach'd that torrent's sounding shore, Which, daughter of three mighty lakes, From Venpachar in silver breaks, Sweeps through the plain, and ceaseless mines On Bochastle the mouldering lines, Where Rome, the empress of the world, Of
yore her eagle wings unfurl d. (4) And here his course the chicftain staid,
Threw down his target and his plaid,
Though not from copse, or heath, or cairn,
party conquers in the strife.'»-
XV. III fared it then with Roderick Dhu, That on the field his targe he threw, (6) Whose brazen studs and tough bull-hide Had death so often dash'd aside, For, train'd abroad his arms to wield, Fitz-James's blade was sword and shield. (7) He practised every pass and ward, To thrust, to strike, to feint, to guard; While less expert, though stronger far, The Gael maintain d unequal war. Three times in closing strife they stood, And thrice the Saxon blade drank blood ; No stinted draught, no scanty tide, The gushing flood the tartans dyed. Fierce Roderick felt the fatal drain, And shower'd his blows like wintry rain; And, as firm rock, or castle-roof, Against the winter shower is proof, The foe, invulnerable still, Foil'd his wild rage by steady skill; Till, at advantage ta’en, his brand Forced Roderick's weapon from his hand, And, backward borne upon the lea, Brought the proud chieftain to his knee.
XIV. Dark lightning flash'd from Roderick's eye« Soars thy presumption then so high, Because a wretched kern ye slew, Homage to name to Roderick Dhu? He yields not, he, to man nor Fate ! Thou add'st but fuel to my hate:My clansman's blood demands revenge.Not yet prepared ?-By Heaven, I change My thought, and hold thy valour light As that of some vain carpet knight, Who ill deserved my courteous care, And whose best boast is but to wear A braid of his fair lady's hair.»— -«I thank thee, Roderick, for the word! It nerves my heart, it steels my sword; For I have sworn, this braid to stain In the best blood that warms thy vein. Now, truce, farewell! and, ruth, beyone!Yet think not that by thee alone, Proud chicf! can courtesy be shown;
XVI. « Now, yield thee, or, by Him who made The world, thy heart's blood dyes my blade !». « Thy threats, thy mercy, I defy! Let recreant yield, who fears to die.»-Like adder darting from his coil, Like wolf that dashes through the toil, Like mountain-cat who guards her young, Full at Fitz-James's throat he sprung; (8) Received, but reck'd not of a wound, And lock'd his arms his foeman round. Now, gallant Saxon, hold thine own! No maiden's hand is round thee thrown! That desperate grasp thy frame might feel, Through bars of brass and triple steel! They tag, they strain! down, down, they go, The Gael above, Fitz-James below, The chieftain's gripe his throat compress'd, His knee was planted in his breast; His clotted locks he backward threw, Across his brow his hand he drew, From blood and mist to clear his sight, Then gleam'd aloft his dagger bright! -But hate and fury ill supplied The stream of life's exhausted tide, And all too late the advantage came, To turn the odds of deadly game;