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XIX. Before their eyes the wizard lay, As if he had not been dead a day. His hoary beard in silver rolid. Ile seem'd some seventy winters old; A palmer's amice wrapp'd him round, With a wrought Spanish baldric bound, Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea; His left hand held his book of might; A silver cross was in his right; The lamp was placed beside his knee: High and majestic was his look, At which the fellest fiends had shook, And all unruffled was his face; ' '. They trusted his soul had gotten brace. XX. Often had William of Deloraine Rode through the battle's bloody plain, And trampled down the warriors slain, And neither known remorse nor awe; Yet now remorse and awe he own'd : Ilis breath came thick, his head swam round, When this strange scene of death he saw. Bewilder'd and unnerved lie stood, And the priest pray’d fervently and loud: With eyes averted prayed he: He might not endure the sight to see of the man he had loved so brotherly. XXI. And when the priest his death-prayer had pray'd, Thus unto Deloraine lie said:— « Now speed thee what thou hast to do, Or, warrior, we may dearly rue; For those, thou mayst not look upon, Are Gathering fast round the yawning stone soThen Deloraine, in terror, took From the cold hand the mighty book, With iron clasp'd, and with iron bound: He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown'd; (16) - But the glare of the sepulchral light, Perchance, had dazzled the warrior's sight. xxii. - When the huge stone sunk o'er the tomb, The night return'd in double gloom,' For the moon had gone down,and the stars were few; And as the knight and priest withdrew, With wavering steps and dizzy brain, They hardly might the postern gain. 'T is said, as through the aisles they past, They heard strange noises on the blast; And through the cloister-galleries small, Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall, Loud sobs, and laughter louder, ran, And voices unlike the voice of man; As if the fiends kept holiday, Because these spells were brought to day. I cannot tell how the truth may be; I say the tale as 't was said to me. XXIII. « Now lie thee hence,” the father said, « And when we are on death-bed laid, O may Our dear Ladye, and sweet St John, Forgive our souls for the deed we have done!»
The monk return'd him to his cell,
XXIV. The knight breathed free in the morning wind, And strove his hardihood to find: lie was glad when he pass'd the tomb-stones gray, Which girdle round the fair abbaye; For the mystic book, to his bosom press'd, Felt like a load upon his breast; And his joints, with nerves of iron twined, Shook, like the aspen leaves in wind. Full fain was he when the dawn of day Began to brighten Cheviot gray; He joyd to see the cheerful light, And he said Ave Mary as well as he might.
XXV. The sun had brighten’d Cheviot gray, . The sun had brighten'd the Carter's ' side, And soon beneath the rising day Smiled Branksome towers and Teviot tide. The wild birds told their warbling tale, And waken'd every slower that blows; And peeped forth the violet pale, And spread her breast the mountain rose; And lovelier than the rose so red, Yet paler than the violet pale, She early left her sleepless bed, The fairest maid of Teviotdale.
- - XXVI. * Why does fair Margaret so early awake, And don her kirtle so hastilie: And the silken knots, which in hurry she would make, - Why tremble her slender fingers to tie; Why does she stop, and look often around, As she glides down the secret stair; And why does she pat the shaggy blood-hound, As he rouses him up from his lair; And though she passes the postern alone, Why is not the watchman's bugle blown?
The ladye steps in doubt and dread,
XXVIII. The knight and ladye fair are met, And under the hawthorn's boughs are set. A fairer pair were never seen To meet beneath the hawthorn green.
' A mountain on the border of England, above Jedburgh.
And sidelong bend your necks of snow : Ye ween to hear a melting tale, Of two true lovers in a dale; And how the knight, with tender fire, To paint his faithful passion strove; Swore, he might at her feet expire, But never, never, cease to love; And how she blush'd, and how she sigh'd, And, half consenting, half denied, And said that she would die a maid;— Yet, might the bloody feud be stay’d, Henry of Cranstoun, and only he, Margaret of Branksome's choice should be. - XXX. Alas! fair dames, your hopes are vain! My harp has lost the enchanting strain; Its lightness would my age reprove: My hairs are gray, my limbs are old, My heart is dead, my veins are cold: I may not, must not, sing of love.
XXXI. Beneath an oak, moss'd o'er by eld, The baron's Dwarf his courser held, (17) And held his crested helm and spear: That Dwarf was scarcely an earthly man, If the tales were true that of him ran Through all the Border, far and near. T was said, when the baron a-hunting rode Through Redesdale's glens, but rarely trod, He heard a voice cry, a Lost' lost lost!» And, like tennis-ball by racquet toss'd, A leap of thirty feet and three, Made from the gorse this elfin shape, Distorted like some dwarfish ape, And lighted at Lord Cranstoun's knee. Lord Cranstoun was some whit dismay’d; 'T is said that five good miles he rade, To rid him of his company; But where he rode one mile, the Dwarf ran four, And the Dwarf was first at the castle door.
XXXII. Use lessens marvel, it is said: This elfish Dwarf with the baron staid; Little he ate, and less he spoke, Nor mingled with the menial flock: And oft apart his arms he toss'd, And often mutter'd, “Lost! lost! lost',
For the baron went on pilgrimage,
To Mary's chapel of the Lowes :
The trysting-place was Newark Lee.
They were three hundred spears and three.
XXXIV. And now, in Branksome's good green-wood, As under the aged oak he stood, The baron's courser pricks his ears, As if a distant noise he hears; The Dwarf waves his long lean arm on high, And signs to the lovers to part and fly; No time was then to vow or sigh. Fair Margaret, through the hazel grove, Flew like the startled cushat-dove: The Dwarf the stirrup held, and rein; Vaulted the knight on his steed amain, And, pondering deep that morning's scene, Rode eastward through the hawthorns green.
While thus he pour'd the lengthend tale, The Minstrel's voice began to fail: , Full slyly smiled the observant page, And gave the wither'd hand of age A goblet, crown'd with mighty wine, The blood of Velez' scorched vine. He raised the silver cup on high, And, while the big drop fill'd his eye, Pray'd God to bless the duchess long, And all who cheerd a son of song. The attending maidens smiled to see How long, how deep, how zealously, The precious juice the Minstrel quaff'd; And he, embolden'd by the draught, Look'd Gaily back to them, and laugh’d. The cordial nectar of the bowl Swell'd his old veins, and cheer'd his soul; A lighter, livelier prelude ran, Ere thus hioale again began.
WI. Stern was the dint the Borderer lent; The stately baron backwards bent; - Bent backwards to his horse's tail, And his plumes went scattering on the gale; The tough ash spear, so stout and true, Into a tuousand Ilinders thew. But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail, Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail; Through shield, and jack, and acton past, Deep in his bosom broke at last.— Still sate the warrior saddle—fast, Till, stumbling in the mortal shock, Down went,the steed, the girthing broke, Hurl’d on a heap lay man and horse. The baron onward pass'd his course; Nor knew—so giddy roll'd his brain– His foe lay stretch d upon the plain.
- VII. But when he reind his courser round, And saw his foeman on the ground Lie senseless as the bloody clay, He bade his page to staunch the wound, And there beside the warrior stay, And tend him in his doubtful state, And lead him to Branksome castle-gate: llis noble mind was inly moved For the kinsman of the maid he loved. * This shalt thou do without delay; No longer here myself may stay : Unless the swifter I speed away, , Short shrift will be at my dying day.”—
VIII. Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode: The goblin-page behind abode; His lord's command he ne'er withstood, Though small his pleasure to do good. As the corslet off he took, The Dwarf espied the mighty book! Much he marvell'd, a knight of pride Like a book-bosom'd priest should ride: (*) He thought not to search or staunch the wound, Until the secret he had found.
ix. The iron band, the iron clasp, Resisted long the elfin grasp ; For when the first he had undone, It closed as he the next begun. Those iron clasps, that iron band, Would not yield to unchristen’d hand, Till he smear'd the cover o'er With the Borderer's curdled gore; A moment then the volume spread, And one short spell therein he read. It had much of glamour" might, (3) Could make a ladye seem a knight; The cobwebs on a dungeon wall Seem tapestry in lordly hall; A nut-shell seem a gilded barge, A sheeling” seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth— All was delusion, nought was truth.
X. He had not read another spell, When on his cheek a buffet fell, So fierce, it stretch'd him on the plain, Beside the wounded Deloraine. From the ground he rose dismay’d, And shook his huge and matted head; One word he mutter d, and no more— « Man of age, thou smitest sore!, No more the elfin page durst try Into the wond rous book to pry; The clasps, though smear'd with christian gore, Shut faster than they were before, He hid it underneath his cloak.Now, if you ask who gave the stroke, I cannot tell, so mot I thrive; It was not given by man alive. (4)
XI. Unwillingly himself he address'd To do his master's high behest : He lifted up the living corse, And laid it on the weary horse; He led him into Branksome-hall, Before the beards of the warders all; And each did after swear and say, -There only pass'd a wain of hay. He took him to Lord David's tower, Even to the Ladye's secret bower; And, but that stronger spells were spread, And the door might not be opened, He had laid him on her very bed. Whate'er he did of gramarye,' Was always done maliciously; He flung the warrior on the ground, And the blood well'd freshly from the wound.
XII. As he repass'd the outer court, He spied the fair young child at sport; He thought to train him to the wood; For, at a word, be it understood, He was always for ill, and never for good. Seem'd to the boy, some comrade gay Led him forth to the woods to play; On the draw-bridge the warders stout Saw a terrier and lurcher passing out.
He led the boy oer bank and fell, ,
Until they came to a woodland brook; The running stream dissolved the spell, (5)
And his own elvish shape he took. Could he have had his pleasure vilde, He had crippled the joints of the noble child; Or, with his fingers long and lean, Had strangled him in fiendish spleen. But his awful mother he had in dread, And also his power was limited; So he but scow!'d on the startled child, And darted through the forest wild;
The woodland brook he bounding cross'd, And laugh'd, and shouted a Lost' lost lost!»
XIV. Full sore amazed at the wond rous change, And frighten d, as a child might be, At the wild yell and visage strange, And the dark words of Bramarye, The child, amidst the forest bower, Stood rooted like a lily flower; And when at length, with trembling pace, He sought to find where Branksome lay, He fear'd to see that grisly face Glare from some thicket on his way. Thus, starting oft, he journey'd on, And deeper in the wood is gone,— For aye the more he sought his way, The farther still he went astray,+ Until he heard the mountains round Ring to the baying of a hound.
- , XW.
And hark' and hark! the deep-mouth'd bark
Comes nigher still, and nigher;
And his red eye shot fire.
But still in act to spring;
- XVI. The speaker issued from the wood, And check'd his fellow's surly mood, And quell'd the ban-dog's ire : He was an English yeoman good, And born in Lancashire. Well could he hit a fallow deer Five hundred feet him fro; With hand more true, and eye more clear, No archer bended bow. His coal-black hair, shorn round and close, Set off his sunburnt face; Old England's sign, St George's cross, His barret-cap did grace; His bugle-horn hung by his side, All in a wolf-skin baldric tied ; And his short falchion, sharp and clear, Had pierced the throat of many a deer.
XVII. His kirtle, made of forest green, Reach'd scantly to his knee;
And, at his belt, of arrows keen
And the leash, that was his blood-hound's band.
XVIII. Ile would not do the fair child harm, But held him with his powerful arm, That he might neither fight nor slee; For when the red cross spied he, The boy strove long and violently. o * Now, by St George,” the archer cries, • Edward, methinks we have a prize! This boy's fair face, and courage free, Show he is come of high degree."
* Yes! I am come of high degree,
For I am the heir of bold Buccleuch; And if thou dost not set me free,
False southron, thou shalt dearly rue! For Walter of Harden shall come with speed, And William of Deloraine, good at need, And every Scott from Esk to Tweed; And, if thou dost not let me go, Despite thy arrows and thy bow, I'll have thee hang'd to feed the crow !»
• Gramercy, for thy good will, fair boy!
Our wardens had need to keep good order: My bow of yew to a hazel wand,
Thou'lt make them work upon the Border. Meantime, be pleased to come with me, For good Lord Dacre shalt thou see : I think our work is well begun, When we have taken thy father's son.”—
XXI. Although the child was led away, In Branksome still he seem'd to stay, For so the Dwarf his part did play; f And, in the shape of that young boy, He wrought the castle much annoy. The comrades of the young Buccleuch He pinch'd, and beat, and overthrew; Nay, some of them he well nigh slew. He tore Dame Maudlin's silken tire, And, as Sym Hall stood by the fire, He lighted the match of his bandelier, And woefully scorch'd the hackbutteer.” It may be hardly thought or said, The mischief that the urchin made, Till many of the castle guess'd That the young baron was possess'd!
• Bandelier, belt for carrying ammunition. * Hackbutteer, musketeer.
Well I ween, the charm he held
‘On the stone threshold stretch'd along; a She thought some spirit of the sky
Had done the bold moss-trooper wrong;
- - xxiii. She drew the splinter from the wound, And with a charm she staunch'd the blood; (7) She bade the gash be cleansed and bound: No longer by his couch she stood; But she has ta'en the broken lance, And wash'd it from the clotted gore, And salved the splinter o'er and o'er. (8) William of Deloraine, in trance, Whene'er she turn'd it round and round, Twisted as if she gall'd his wound. Then to her maidens she did say, That he should be whole man and sound, Within the course of a night and day. Full long she toil'd; for she did rue Mishap to friend so stout and true.
XXIV. So pass'd the day—the evening fell. T was near the time of curfew bell; The air was mild, the wind was calm, The stream was smooth, the dew was balm; Een the rude watchman, on the tower, Enjoyd and bless'd the lovely hour; Far more fair Margaret loved and bless'd The hour of silence and of rest. On the high turret sitting lone, She waked at times the lute's soft tone; Touch'd a wild note, and, all between, Thought of the bower of hawthorns green. Her golden hair stream'd free from band, Her fair cheek rested on her hand, Her blue eyes sought the west afar, For lovers love the western star.
XXV. Is yon the star, o'er Penchryst Pen, That rises slowly to her ken, And, spreading broad its wavering light, Shakes its loose tresses on the night? Is yon red glare the western star?– O,'t is the beacon-blaze of war! scarce could she draw her tighten’d breath, For well she knew the fire of death
XXVI. The warder view'd it blazing strong, And blew his war-note loud and long, Till, at the high and haughty sound, Rock, wood, and river, rung around. The blast alarm'd the festal hall, And startled forth the warriors all;