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Then did I swear thy ray serene
Was form'd to light some lonely dell, By two fond lovers only seen,
Reflected from the crystal well; Or sleeping on their mossy cell,
Or quivering on the lattice bright, Or glancing on their couch, to tell
How swiftly wanes the summer night!
He starts—a step at this lone hour!
Fab in the chambers of the west.
What prospects, from his watch-tower high.
And each huge trunk that, from the side,
Bertram awaited not the sight
Which sunrise shows from Barnard's height.
But from the towers, preventing day,
With Wilfrid took his early way.
While misty dawn, and moon-beam pale.
Still mingled in the silent dale.
By Barnard's bridge of stately stone.
The southern bank of Tees they won;
Their winding path then eastward cast.
And I .listones gray ruins (2) past;
Each on his own deep visions bent.
Silent and sad they onward went.
Well may you think that Bertram's mood
To Wilfrid savage seem'd and rude;
Well may you think, bold Rutingham
Held Wilfrid trivial, poor, and lame;
And small the intercourse, I ween,
Such uncongenial souls between.
Stern Bertram shunn'd the nearer way. Through Rokeby's park and chase that lay.
And, skirting high ihe valley's ridge,
Of different mood, a deeper sigh
The open vale is soon past o'er,
Rokeby, though nigh, is seen no more;
Sinking mid Greta's thickets deep,
A *ild and darker course they keep,
A stern and lone, yet lovely road.
As e'er the foot of minstrel trode! (5)
Br<wd shadows o'er their passage fell,
keper and narrower grew the dell:
It wem'd some mountain, rent and riven,
A channel for the stream had given,
*° high the cliffs of limestone gray
Hang beetling o'er the torrent's way.
Yielding, along their rugged base,
A flinty footpath's niggard space,
"here he, who winds 'twixt rock and wave,
»ay hear the headlong torrent rave,
■^d like a steed in frantic fit,
Tint flings the froth from curb and bit,
"ay view her chafe her waves to spray,
Ot every rock that bars her way,
Till foam-globes on her eddies ride.
Thick as the schemes of human pride,
That down life's current drive amain,
The cliffs, that rear the haughty head
Now from the stream the rocks recede,
But leave between no sunny mead.
No, nor the spot of pebbly sand,
Oft found by such a mountain strand.
Forming such warm and dry retreat,
As fancy deems the lonely seat.
Where hermit, wandering from his cell,
His rosary might love to tell.
But here, *twixt rock and river grew
A dismal grove of sable yew,
With whose sad tints were mingled seen
The blighted fir's sepulchral green,
Seem'd that the trees their shadows cast,
The earth that nourished them to blast,
For never knew that swarthy grove
The verdant hue that fairies love;
Nor wilding green, nor woodland flower.
Arose within its baleful bower;
The dank and sable earth receives
Its only carpet from the leaves,
That, from the withering branches cast,
Bestrew'd the ground with every blast.
Though now the sun was o'er the hill,
In this dark spot t was twilight still,
Save that on Greta's farther side
Some straggling beams through copse-wood glide.
And wild and savage contrast made
That dingle's deep and funeral shade,
With the bright tints of early day,
Which, glimmering through the ivy-spray,
On the opposing summit lay.
Ili'- lated peasant shunn'd the dell.
For superstition wont to toll
Of many a grisly sound and sight,
Scaring its path at dead of night.
When Christmas logs bhue high and wide.
Such wonders speed the festal tide,
W'lnlc curiosity and fear,
Pleasure and pain, sit crouching near.
Till childhood's check no longer glows,
And village maidens Ins.** the rose.
The thrilling interest rises higher,
The circle closes nigh and nigher.
And shuddering glance is cast behind.
As louder moans the wintry wind.
Itelieve, that fitting scene was laid
For such wild talcs in Mortliam's glade;
For who had seen on Greta's side,
By that dim light fierce Bertram stride.
In such a spot, at such an hour,— .
If touch'd hy superstition's power,
Might well have deem'd that hell had given
A murderer's ghost to upper heaven.
While Wilfrid's form had seem'd to glide
Like his pale victim hy his side.
Nor think to village swains alone
Then too were told, in stifled tone.
Whose lighl-arm'd shallop anchord lay
In ambush by the lonely bay.
The groan of grief, the shriek of pain,
Uing from the moon-light groves of cane;
The fierce adventurer's heart they scare.
Who wearies memory for a prayer.
Curses the roadstead, and with gale
Of early morning lifts the sail.
To give, in thirst of blood and prtv,
A legend for another bay.
Thus, as a man, a youth, a child,
Train'd in the mystic and the wild.
With this on Bertram's soul at limes
Rush'd a dark feeling of his crimes;
Such to his troubled soul their form.
As the pale death-ship to the storm.
And such their omen dim and dread,
As shrieks and voices of the dead.
That pang, whose transitory force
llovcr'd twixt horror aud remorse;
That pang, perchance, his bosom presVd,
As Wilfrid sudden he address d
« Wilfrid, this glen is ne»cr trod
Until the sun rides high abroad;
Yet twice have I beheld to^lay
A form that seem'd to dog our way;
Twice from my glance it seem'd to flee.
And shroud itself by cliff or tree;
How think'st thou?—is our path waylaid.
Or hath thy sire my trust betray d!
If so >■>—Ere, starting from hi* dream.
That turn'd upon a gentler theme,
Wilfrid had roused him to reply,
Hertram sprung forward shouting high.
H Whate'er thou an, thou now shall stand!'
And forth he darted, sword in hand.
XIV. As bursts the levin in its wrath. He shot him down the sounding path: Rock, wood, and stream, rung wildly out. To his loud step and savage shout. Seems that the object of his race Hath scaled the cliffs; his frantic chaw Sidelong he turns, and now 'tis bent Right up the rocks tall battlement; Straining each sinew to ascend, Foot, hand, and knee their aid must leu A Wilfrid, all dizzy with dismay. Views from benrath his dreadful way; Now to the oak's warp'd roots lie clings. Now trusts his weight to ivy-strings; Now, like the wild goat, must he dare An unsupported leap in air Hid in the shrubby rain-course now. You mark him by the crashing bough. And by his corslet's sullen clank, And by the stones spurn d from the bank. And by the hawk scared from her nest. And ravens croaking o'er their guest. Who deem his forfeit limbs shall pay The tribute of his bold est*v.
See. he emerges '.—desperate now
All farther course—yon beetling bn.w,
la craggy nakedness sublime,
What heart or foot shall dare to climb!
It bears no tendril for his clasp,
Presents no angle to bis grasp;
Sole stay his foot may rest upon,
h yon earth-bedded jelling stone.
Balanced on. such precarious prop,
lie strains lik grasp to resell the top.
Just as the dangerous stretch he makes,
Br heaven, his faithless foolsto&l shakes!
Beneath his tottering bulk it bends,
It prays, it loosens, it descends!
And downward holds its headlong way.
Crashing o'er rock and copse-wood spray.
Loud thunders shake the echoing dell!—
FeU it alone?—alone it fell.
Ju«t on the very Teq;e of fate,
The hardy Bertram s falling weight
fie trusted to his sinewy hands,
And on the lop unbarm'd he stands.
Wilfrid a safer path pursued,
Twas sweetly sung that roundelay, That summer morn shone blithe and gay, But morning beam, and wild bird's call, Awaked not Morlham's silent hall. No porter, by the low-brow'd gale. Took in ihe wonted niche bis seat; To the paved court no peasaut drew, Waked to their toil no menial crew; The maidens rarol was nol heard, As to her morning task she fared; lo the void offices around, Rung not a hoof, nor bay'd a hound, Nor eager sleed, with shrilling neigh, Accused the lagging groom's delay; I mnnim d, undrcss'd, neglected now, . Was alley d walk and orchard hough; All spoke the master's absetil care, All spoke neglect and disrepair.
South of the gale an arrow-flight.
,, It vanish d, like a fluting ghosl!
Hut seek some charncl, when, at full.
There dig and tomb your precious heap,
And hid the dead your treasure keep; (12)
Sure stewards they, if filling spell
Their service lo the task compel.
Lacks there such charncl '.-kill a slave,
Or prisoner, on the treasure-grave;
And bid his discontented ghost
Slalk nightly on his lonely post.—
Such was his tale. I Is truth, I ween,
Is in my morning vision seen.»
Wilfrid, who scorn'd the legend wild,
But it is spoken—nor will I
Deed done, or spoken word, deny.
I slew htm, I! for thankless pride;
T was by this hand thai Mortham died.» —
Wilfrid, of gentle hand and heart,
Averse to every active part.
But most averse to martial broil,
From danger shrunk, and turn'd from toil;
Yet the meek lover of the lyre
Nursed one brave spark of noble fire;
Against injustice, fraud, or wroug,
His blood beat high, his hand waxd'strong.
Not bis the nerves that could sustain,
Unshaken, danger, toil, and pain;
But when that sp.irk blazed forth to flame,
He rose superior to his frame.
And now it came, that generous mood;
And, in full current of his blood,
Ou Bertram he laid desperate hand,
Placed firm his foot, and drew his brand.
« Should every fiend to whom thou'rt sold,
Rise in thine aid, I keep my hold.—
Arouse there, ho! take spear and sword!
Attach the murderer of your lord!»—
XXI. A moment, fix'd as by a spell, Stood Bertram—it seem'd miracle, That one so feeble, soft, and tame, Set grasp on warlike Risingham. But when he frit a feeble stroke. The ficud within the ruffian woke! To wrench the sword from Wilfrid's hand, To dash him headlong on the sand. Was but one moment's work,—one more Had drench'd the blade in Wilfrid's gore; But, iu the instant it arose, To end his life, his love, his woes, A warlike form, that mark'd the scene, Presents his rapier sheath'd between, Parries the fast-descending blow, And steps "twiitt Wilfrid and his foe; Nor then unscabharded his brand, But sternly pointing with his hand, With monarch's voice forbade the fight, And moiion'd Bertram from his sight. ,« Go, and>cpcnt,»—he said, « while time Is given thee; add not crime to crime.*
. Mutt and uncertain, and amaied,
What spectre can the charuel send,
So dreadful as an injured friend?
Then, too, the habit of command,
t'sed by the leader of the band.
When Risingham, for many a day,
Had tnarch'd and fought beneath his sway.
Tamed him—and, with reverted face.
Backwards he bore his sullen pace.
Oft stopp'd, and oft on Mortham stared,
And dark as rated mastiff glared;
But when the tramp of steeds was heard.
Plunged in the glen, and dtsapjAr d.
Nor longer there the warrior stood.
Retiring eastward through the wood;
But first to Wilfrid warning gives,
« Tell thou to none that Mortham lives.*
Still rung these words in Wilfrid's car,
Hinting he knew not what of fear,
When nearer came the coursers' tread,
And, with his father at their head,
Of horsemen arm'd a gallant power
Rein'd up their steeds before the tower.
M Whence these pale looks, my son ?» he said
« Where 's Bertram T why that naked blade?*
Wilfrid ambiguously replied
(For Mortham's charge his honour tied),
« Bertram is gone—the villain's word
Avouch'd him murderer of his lord!
Even now we fought—but, when your tread
Announced you nigh, the felon fled.**—
In Wycliffe's conscious eye appear
A guilty hope, a guilty fear;
On his pale brow the dew-drop broke*.
And his lip quivcr'd as he spoke.
« A murderer!—Philip Mortham died
M Yes! I beheld his bloody fall.