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« Lord Earl,» he said, “I cannot chuse
But yield such title to the Bruce,
Though name and earldom both are gone,
Since he braced rebel's armour on-
But, earl or serf-rude phrase was thine
Of late, and launch'd at Argentine;
Such as compels me to demand
Redress of honour at thy hand.
We need not to each other tell,
That both can wield their weapons well;
Then do me but the soldier grace,
This glove upon thy helm to place,

Where we may meet in fight;
And I will say, as still I've said,
Though by ambition far misled,
Thou art a noble knight.»-

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,
Be sure the honour'd pledge you gave
In every battle-field shall wave

Upou my helmet-crest;
Believe, that if my hasty tongue
Hath done thine honour causeless wrong,

It shall be well redress'd.
Nor dearer to my soul was glove,
Bestow'd in youth by lady's love,

Than this which thou hast given!
Thus, then, my noble foe / greet;
Health and high fortune till we meet,

And then-what pleases Heaven.»

Some one glides in like midnight ghost

-Nay, strike not! 't is our noble host.»
Advancing then his taper's flame,
Ronald stept forth, and with him came
Dunvegan's chief-each bent the knee
To Bruce, in sign of fealty,

And proffer'd him his sword,
And hail'd him, in a monarch's style,
As king of main-land and of isle,

And Scotland's rightful lord.
« And 0,» said Ronald, « Own'd of Heaven!
Say, is my erring youth forgiven,
By falsehood's arts from duty driven,

Who rebel falchion drew,
Yet ever to thy deeds of fame,
Een while I strove against thy claim,

Paid homage just and true?»-« Alas! dear youth, the unhappy time, Answer'd the Bruce, « must bear the crime,

Since, quiltier far than you,
E'en (»-he paused; for Falkirk's woes
Upon his conscious soul arose. (2)
The chieftain to his breast be press'd,
And in a sigh conceald the rest.

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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;
Each main-land chieftain with his train,
Draws to his mountain towers again,
Pondering how mortal schemes prove vain,

And mortal hopes expire.
But through the castle double guard,
By Ronald's charge, kept wakeful ward,
Wicket and gate were trebly barrid,

By beam and bolt and chain;
Then of the guests, in courteous sort,
He pray'd excuse for mirth broke short,
And bade them in Artornish fort

In confidence remain.
Now torch and menial tendance led
Chieftain and knight to bower and bed,
And beads were told, and aves said,

And soon they sunk away
Into such sleep, as wont to shed"
Oblivion on the weary head,
After a toilsome day.

VIII.
But soon up-roused, the monarch cried
To Edward, slumbering by his side,
. « Awake, or sleep for aye !
Een now there jarrd a secret door-
A taper-light gleams on the floor

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.»--

XI.
«The scheme,» said Bruce, « contents me well;
Meantime, i were best that Isabel,
For safely, with my bark and crew,
Again to friendly Erin drew.
There Edward, too, shall with lier wend,
In Deed to cheer her and defend,
And master up each scatter'd friend.»---
Here seem'd it as Lord Ronald's ear
Would other council gladlier hear;
But, all achieved as soon as plann'd,
Both barks, in secret arm'd and mann'd,

From out the baven bore;
On different voyage forth they ply,
This for the coast of winged Skye,

And that for Erin's shore.

XII,
With Bruce and Ronald bides the tale.
To favouring winds they gave the sail,
Till Mall's dark headlands scarce they knew,
Add Ardnamurchan's hills were blue.
But then the squalls blew close and hard,
And, fain to strike the galley's yard,

And take them to the oar,
With these rude seas, in weary plight,
They strove the livelong day and night,
Nor till the dawning had a sight

Of Skye's romantic shore.
Where Coolin stoops him to the west,
They saw upon his shiver'd crest

The sun's arising gleam;
But such the labour and delay,
Ere they were moord in Scavigh bay
(For calmer heaven compelld to stay),

He shot a western beam.
Then Ronald said, « If true mine eye,
These are the savage wilds that lie
North of Strathnardill and Dunskye;(3) .

No human foot comes here,
And, since these adverse breezes blow,
If my good liege love hunter's bow,
What hinders that on land we go,

And strike a mountain-deer?
Allan, my page, shall with us wend,
A bow full deftly can he bend,
And, if we meet an herd, may send

A shaft shall mend our cheer.»
Then each took bow and bolts in hand,
Their row-boat laupch'd aod leapt to land,

And left their skiff and train,
Where a wild stream, with headlong shock,
Came brawling down its bed of rock,

To mingle with the main.

Till the good Bruce to Ronald said,

« St Mary! what a scene is here!
I've traversed many a mountain-strand,
Abroad and in my native land,
And it has been my lot to tread
Where safety more than pleasure led;
Thus, many a waste I 've wander'd o'er,
Clombe many a crag, cross'd many a moor,

But, by my halidome,
A scene so rude, so wild as this,
Yet so sublime in barrenness,
Ne'er did my waudering footsteps press,
Where'er I happ'd to roam.»-

XIV.
No marvel thus the monarch spake;

For rarely human eye has known
A scene so stern as that dread lake,

With its dark ledge of barren stone.
Seems that primeval earthquake's sway
Hath rent a strange and shatter'd way

Through the rude bosom of the hill,
And that each naked precipice,
Sable ravine, and dark abyss,

Tells of the outrage still.
The wildest glen, but this, can show
Some touch of nature's genial glow;
On high Benmore green mosses grow,
And heath-bells bud in deep Glencroe,

And copse on Cruchan-Ben;
But here, -above, around, below,

On mountain or in glen, Nor tree, nor shrub, nor plant, nor flower, Nor aught of vegetative power,

The weary eye may ken.
For all is rocks at random thrown,
Black waves, bare crags, and banks of stone,

As if were here denied
The summer sun, the spring's sweet dew,
That clothe with many a varied hue
The bleakest mountain-side.

XV.
And wilder, forward as they wound,
Were the proud cliffs and lake profound :
Huge terraces of granite black
Afforded rude and cumber'd track;

For from the mountain hoar,
Hurl'd headlong in some night of fear,
When yelled the wolf and fled the deer,

Loose crags had toppled o'er;
And some, chance-poised and balanced, lay,
So that a stripling arm might sway

A mass no host could raise,
In nature's rage at random thrown,
Yet trembling like the Druid's Stone

On its precarious base..
The evening mists, with ceaseless change,
Now clothed the mountains' Jofty range,

Now left their foreheads bare,
And round the skirts their mantle furld,
Or on the sable waters curid,
Or, on the eddying breezes whirld,
• Dispersed in middle air.
And oft, condensed, at once they lower,
When, brief and fierce, the mountain shower
Pours like a torrent down,

XIII.

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,
This sword shall meet the treble strife;
My strength, my skill in arms, more small,
And less the loss should Ronald fall.
But islesmen soon lo soldiers grow,
Allan has sword as well as bow,
And were my monarch's order given.
Two shafts should make our number even.s-
« No! not to save my life !» he said;
« Enough of blood rests on my head,
Too rashly spilld-we soon shall know,
Whether they come as friend or foe.»

XVI.
« This lake,» said Bruce, « whose barriers drear
Are precipices sharp and sheer,
Yielding no track for goat or deer,

Save the black shelves we tread,
How term you its dark waves ? and how,
Yon northern mountain's pathless brow

And yonder peak of dread,
That to the evening sun uplifts
The grisly gulfs and slaty rifts,

Which seam its shiver'd head?»—
« Coriskin call the dark lake's name, i
Coolin the ridge, as bards proclaim,
From old Cuchullin, chief of fame.
But bards, familiar in our isles
Rather with nature's frowns than smiles,
Full oft their careless humours please
By sportive names for scenes like these.
I would old Torquil were to show
His maidens with their breasts of snow,
Or that my noble liege were nigh
To hear his nurse sing lullaby
(The Maids- tall cliffs with breakers white,
The Nurse-a torreut's roariog might),
Or that your eye could see the mood
Of Corrievrekin's whirlpool rude,
When dons the Hag her whiten'd hood -
'T is thus our Islesmen's fancy frames,
For scenes so stero, fantastic names.»—

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.

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Answer'd the Bruce, « And musing mind
Might here a graver moral find.
These mighty cliffs, that heave on high
Their naked brows to middle sky,
Indifferent to the sun or snow,
Where nought can fade, and nought can blow,
May they not mark a monarch's fate, -
Raised high 'mid storms of strife and state,
Beyond life's lowlier pleasures placed,
His soul a rock, his heart a waste?
O'er hope and love and fear aloft
High rears his crowned head- But soft!
Look, underneath yon jutting crag
Are bunters and a slaughter'd stag.
Who may they be? But late you said
No steps these desert regions tread!»

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
If this their tale be true or no.
The men seem bred of churlish kind.
Yet rugged brows have bosoms kind;
We will go with them-food and fire
And sheltering roof our wants require.
Sure guard 'gainst treachery will we keep,
And watch by turns our comrades' sleep. -
Good fellows, thanks; your guests we 'll be,
And well will pay the courtesy.
Come, lead us where your lodging lies -
-Nay, soft! we mix not companies.-
Show us the path o'er crag and stone,
And we will follow you;---lead on.»—

XXII.
They reach'd the dreary cabin, made
Of sails against a rock display'd,

And there, on entering, found
A slender boy, whose form and mien
Il suited with such savage scene,
la cap and cloak of velvet green,

Low seated on the ground.
His garb was such as minstrels wear,
Dark was bis hue, and dark his hair,
His youthful cheek was marr d by care,

His eyes in sorrow drown'd.
Whence this poor boy in--As Ronald spoke,
The voice his trance of anguish broke;
As if awaked from ghastly.dream,
He raised his head with start and scream,

And wildly gazed around;
Then to the wall his face he turn'd,
And his dark neck with blushes buro'd.

For know, that on a pilgrimage
Wend I, my comrade, and this page.
And sworn to vigil and to fast,
Long as this hallow'd task shall last,
We never doff the plaid or sword,
Or feast us at a stranger's board;
And never share one common sleep,
But one must still his vigil keep.
Thus, for our separate use, good friend,
We'll hold this hut's remoter end.»---
« A churlish vow,» the eldest said,
« And hard, methipks, to be obey'd.
How say you, if, to wreak the scorn,
That pays our kindness harsh return,
We should refuse to share our meal?»

--« Then say we, that our swords are steel!
And our vow binds us not to fast,
Where gold or force may buy repast.»-
Their host's dark brow grew keen and fell,
His teeth are clench'd, his features swell;
Yet sunk the felon's moody ire,
Before Lord Ronald's glance of fire,
Nor could his craven courage brook
The monarch's calm and dauntless look.
With laugh constrain d, ---« Let every man
Follow the fashion of his clan!
Each to his separate quarters keep,
And feed or fast, or wake or sleep.»

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,
At Woodstock when he won the prize.
Nor, fair in joy, in sorrow fair,
In pride of place as 'mid despair,
Must she alone engross his care.
His thoughts to his betrothed bride,
T6 Edith, turn-O how decide,
When here his love and heart are given,
And there his faith stands plight to Heaven!
No drowsy ward 't is bis to keep,
For seldom Jovers long for sleep.
Till sung his midnight hymn the owl,
Answer'd the dog-fox with his howl,
Then waked the king-at his request,
Lord Ronald stretch'd himself to rest.

Who bathes her limbs in sunless well
Deep in Strathaird's enchanted cell: (5)
Thither in fancy rapt he flies,
And on his sight the vaults arise ;
That hut's dark walls he sees no more,
His foot is on the marble floor,
And o'er his head the dazzling spars
Gleam like a firmament of stars!

--Hark! hears he not the sea-nymph speak
Her anger in that thrilling shriek 1–
No! all too late, with Allan's dream
Mingled the captive's warning scream.
As from the ground he strives to start,
A ruffian's dagger finds his heart!
Upwards he casts his dizzy eyes, -
Murmurs his master's name,-and dies!

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.

XXIX.
Not so awoke the king! his hand
Snatch'd from the flame a knotted brand,
The nearest weapon of his wrath ;
With this he crossd the murderer's path,

And venged young Allan well!
The spatter'd brain and bubbling blood
Hiss'd on the half-extinguish'd wood,

The miscreant gasp'd and fell!
Nor rose in peace the Island Lord;
One caitiff died upon his sword,
And one beneath his grasp lies prone,
Jo mortal grapple overthrown.
But while Lord Ronald's dagger drank
The life-blood from his panting flank,
The father-ruffian of the band
Behind him rears a coward hand!

-O for a moment's aid,
Till Bruce, who deals no double blow,
Dash to the earth another foe,

Above his comradę laid !
And it is gain'd- the captive sprung
On the raised arm, and closely clung,

And, ere he shook him loose,
The master'd felon press'd the ground,
And gasp'd beneath a mortal wound,

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.

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