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« Lord Earl,» he said, “I cannot chuse
Where we may meet in fight;
VI. « And I,» the princely Bruce replied, « Might term it stain on knighthood's pride, That the bright sword of Argentine Should in a tyrant's quarrel shine;
But, for your brave request,
Upou my helmet-crest;
It shall be well redress'd.
Than this which thou hast given!
And then-what pleases Heaven.»
Some one glides in like midnight ghost
-Nay, strike not! 't is our noble host.»
And proffer'd him his sword,
And Scotland's rightful lord.
Who rebel falchion drew,
Paid homage just and true?»-« Alas! dear youth, the unhappy time, Answer'd the Bruce, « must bear the crime,
Since, quiltier far than you,
They proffer'd aid, by arms and might, To repossess him in his right; But well their counsels must be weigh'd, Ere banners raised and musters made, For English biro and Lorn's intrigues Bound many chiefs in southern leagues. In answer, Bruce his purpose bold To his new vassals frankly told. « The wioter worn in exile o'er, I long'd for Carrick's kindred shore; I thought upon my native Ayr, And longd to see the burly fare That Clifford makes, whose lordly call Now echoes through my father's hall. But first my course to Arran led, Where valiant Lennox gathers head, And on the sea, by tempest toss d, Our barks dispersed, our purpose crossd Mine owo, a hostile sail to shun, Far from her destined course had run, When that wise will, which masters ours, Compellid us to your friendly towers >>
VII. Thus parted they--for now, with sound Like waves rollid back from rocky ground,
The friends of Lorn retire;
And mortal hopes expire.
By beam and bolt and chain;
In confidence remain.
And soon they sunk away
Up, Edward, up, I say!
Then Torquil spoke: « The time craves speed! We must not linger in our deed, But instant pray our sovereign liege To shun the perils of a siege. The vengeful Lorn, with all his powers, Lies but too bear Artornish towers, And England's light-arm'd vessels ride, Not distant far, the waves of Clyde, Prompt at these tidings to unmoor, And sweep each strait, and guard each shore; Then, till this fresh alarm pass by, Secret and safe my liege mast lie In the far bounds of friendly Skye, Torquil thy pilot and thy guide.» « Not so, brave chieftain, Ronald cried ;
Myself will on my sovereign wait, And raise in arms the men of Sleate, Whilst thou, renowa'd where chiefs debate, Shalt sway their souls by council sage, And awe them by thy locks of age.» —“And if my words in weight shall fail, This ponderous sword shall turn the scale.»--
From out the baven bore;
And that for Erin's shore.
And take them to the oar,
Of Skye's romantic shore.
The sun's arising gleam;
He shot a western beam.
No human foot comes here,
And strike a mountain-deer?
A shaft shall mend our cheer.»
And left their skiff and train,
To mingle with the main.
Till the good Bruce to Ronald said,
« St Mary! what a scene is here!
But, by my halidome,
For rarely human eye has known
With its dark ledge of barren stone.
Through the rude bosom of the hill,
Tells of the outrage still.
And copse on Cruchan-Ben;
On mountain or in glen, Nor tree, nor shrub, nor plant, nor flower, Nor aught of vegetative power,
The weary eye may ken.
As if were here denied
For from the mountain hoar,
Loose crags had toppled o'er;
A mass no host could raise,
On its precarious base..
Now left their foreheads bare,
Awhile their roule they silent made,
As men who stalk for mountain-deer,
And when return the sun's glad beams, Whitend with foam a thousand streams
Leap from the mountain's crown.
« Not so, my liege-for by my life,
Save the black shelves we tread,
And yonder peak of dread,
Which seam its shiver'd head?»—
XIX. Nigh came the strangers, and more nigh; Still less they pleased the monarch's eye. Men were they all of evil mien, Down-look'd, unwilling to be seen ;(4) They moved with half-resolved pace, And bent on earth each gloomy face. The foremost two were fair array'd, With brogue and bonget, trews and plaid, And bore the arms of mountaineers, Daggers and broadswords, bows and spears, The three, that laggd small space behind, Seem'd serfs of more degraded kind; Goat-skins or deer-hides, o'er them cast, Made a rude fence against the blast; Their arms and feet and heads were bare, Matted their beards, unshorn their hair; For arms, the caitiffs bore in hand, A club, an axe, a rusty brand.
Answer'd the Bruce, « And musing mind
XX. Onward, still mute, they kept the track ; u Tell who ye be, or else stand back, Said Bruce ; « In deserts when they meet, Men pass not as in peaceful street.» Still, at his stern command, they stood, And proffer'd greeting brief and rude, But acted courtesy so ill, As seem'd of fear, and not of will. « Wanderers we are, as you may be ; Men hither driven by wind and sea, Who, if you list to taste our clieer, Will share with you this fallow deer.» « If from the sea, where lies your barko« Ten fathom deep in ocean dark ! Wreck'd yesternight; but we are men, Who little seuse of peril ken. The shades come down-the day is shutWill you go with us to our huts« Our vessel waits us in the bay; Thanks for your proffer-have good day. « Was that your galley, then, which rode Not far from shore when evening glow'd !-« It was.»-« Then spare your needless pain, There will she now be sought in vain. We saw her from the mountain-head, When with St George's blazon red A southern vessel bore in sight, And yours raised sail, and look to flight.»
XVIII. « So said I-and believed, in sooth, » Ronald replied, « I spoke the truth. Yet now I spy, by yonder stone, Five men-they mark us, and come on; And by their badge on bonnet borne, I guess them of the land of Lorn, Foes to my liege.»-« So let it be; I've faced worse odds than five to three---But the poor page can little aid; Then be our battle thus array'd, If our free passage they contest; Cope thou with two, I'll match the rest.»
XXI. « Now, by the rood, unwelcome news' Thus with Lord Ronald communed Bruce;
& Nor rests there light enough to show
And there, on entering, found
Low seated on the ground.
His eyes in sorrow drown'd.
And wildly gazed around;
For know, that on a pilgrimage
--« Then say we, that our swords are steel!
XXIII. ~ Whose is the boy !» again he said.« By cbance of war our captive made; He may be yours, if you should hold That music has more charms than gold; For, though from earliest childhood mute, The lad can deftly touch the lute, And on the role and viol play, And well can drive the time away
For those who love such glee; For me, the favouring breeze, when loud It pipes upon the galley's shroud,
Makes blither melody. Hath be, then, sense of spoken sound ?n
--- Ay; so his mother bade us know, A crone in our late shipwreck drown'd,
Aod hence the silly stripling's woe. More of the youth I cannot say,' Our captive but since yesterday; When wind and weather wax'd so grim, We little listed think of him.But why waste time in idle words ? Sit to your cheer-unbelt your swords.»Sudden the captive turo'd his head, And one quick glance to Ronald sped. It was a keen and warning look, And well the chief the signal took.
XXV. Their fire at separate distance burns, By turns they eat, keep guard by turns ; For evil seem'd that old man's eye, Dark and designing, fierce yet shy. Still he avoided forward look, But slow and circumspectly took A circling, never-ceasing glance, By doubt and cunning mark'd at once, Which shot a mischief-boding ray, From under eye-brows shagg'd and gray. The younger, too, who seem'd his son, Had that dark look the timid shun; The half-clad serfs behind them sate, And scowld a glare 'twixt fear and hateTill all, as darkness onward crepl, . Couch'd down and seem'd to sleep, or slept. Nor he, that boy, whose powerless tongue Must trust his eyes to wail his wrong, A longer watch of sorrow made, But stretch'd his limbs to slumber laid..
XXVI. Not in his dangerous host confides The king, but wary watch provides. Ronald keeps ward till midnight past, Then wakes the king, young Allan last; Thus rank'd, to give the youthful page The rest required by tender age. - What is Lord Ronald's wakeful thought, To chase the languor toil had brought?(For deem not that he deign'd to throw Much care upon such coward foe)He thinks of lovely Isabel, When at her foeman's feet she fell, Nor less when, placed in princely selle,
XXIV. - kind hostys he said, « our needs require A separate board and separate fire ;
She glanced on him with favouring eyes,
Who bathes her limbs in sunless well
--Hark! hears he not the sea-nymph speak
XXVII. What spell was good King Robert's, say, To drive the weary night away? His was the patriot's burning thought, Of freedom's battle bravely fought, Of castles stormd, of cities freed, Of deep design and daring deed, of England's roses reft and toro, And Scotland's cross in triumph worn, Of rout and rally, war and truce, As heroes think, so thought the Bruce. No marvel, 'mid such musings high, Sleep shunnid the monarch's thoughtful eye. Now over Coolin's eastern head The grayish light begins to spread, The otter to his cavern drew, And clamour'd shrill the wakening mew; Then watch'd the page-to needful rest The king resigu'd bis anxious breast.
And venged young Allan well!
The miscreant gasp'd and fell!
-O for a moment's aid,
Above his comradę laid !
And, ere he shook him loose,
While o'er him stands the Bruce.
. XXVIII. To Allan's eyes was harder task, The weary watch their safeties ask. He trimm'd the fire, and gave to shine With bickering light the splinter'd pine, Then gazed awhile where, silent laid, Their hosts were shrouded by the plaid. But little fear waked in his mind, For he was bred of martial kind, And, if to manhood he arrive, May match the boldest knight alive. Then thought be of his mother's tower, His little sisters' green-wood bower, How there the Easter-gambols pass, And of Dan Joseph's lengthen'd mass. But still before his weary eye . In rays prolong'd the blazes die Again he roused him-on the lake Look'd forth, where now the twilight flake Of pale cold dawn began to wake. On Coolin's cliffs the mist lay furld, The morning breeze the lake had curl'd; The short dark waves, heaved to the land, With ceaseless plash kiss'd cliff or sand;It was a slumb'rous sound-he turn'd To tales at which his youth had burn'd, Of pilgrim's path by demon cross'd, Of sprightly elf or yelling ghost, Of the wild witch's baneful cot, And mermaid's alabaster grot,
. XXX. « Miscreant! while lasts thy flitting spark, Give me to know the purpose dark, That arm'd thy hand with murderous knife, Against offenceless stranger's life ?» « No stranger thou !» with accents fell, Murmur'd the wretch, « I know thee well; And know thee for the focman sworn Of my high chief, the mighty Lorn.»
-« Speak yet again, and speak the truth For thy soul's sake!- from whence this youth? His country, birth, and name declare, And thus one evil deed repair.» --- Vex me no more!--my blood runs coldNo more I know than I have told. We found him in a bark we sought With different purpose--and I thought»Fate cut him short; in blood and broil, As he had lived, died Cormac Doil.