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Soon with calm cheek and steady eye,
The princess made composed reply :-
“I guess my brother's meaning well;
For not so silent is the cell,
But we have heard the islesmen all
Arm in thy cause at Ronald's call,
And mine eye proves that Knight Unknown
And the brave Island Lord are one.
Had then his suit been earlier made,
In his own name, with thee to aid,
(But that his plighted faith forbade)
I know not .. But thy Page so near?-
This is no tale for menial's ear.”.
Still stood that Page, as far apart
As the small cell would space afford; With dizzy eye and bursting heart,
He leant his weight on Bruce's sword,
The monarch's mantle too he bore,
And drew the fold his visage o'er.
“ Fear not for him-in murderous strife,”
Said Bruce, “ his warning saved my life;
Full seldom parts he from my side;
And in his silence I confide,
Since he can tell no tale again.
He is a boy of gentle strain,
And I have purposed he shall dwell
In Augustin the chaplain's cell,
And wait on thee, my Isabel.-
Mind not his tears ; I've seen them flow,
As in the thaw dissolves the snow.
'Tis a kind youth, but fanciful,
Unfit against the tide to pull,
And those that with The Bruce would sail,
Must learn to strive with stream and gale.-
But forward, gentle Isabel-
My answer for Lord Ronald tell.”-
“ This answer be to Ronald given
The heart he asks is fix'd on heaven.
My love was like a summer flower,
That wither'd in the wintry hour,
Born but of vanity and pride,
And with these sunny visions died.
his suit then say,
He should his plighted troth obey,
Troth plighted both with ring and word,
And sworn on crucifix and sword.
Oh, shame thee, Robert! I have seen
Thou hast a woman's guardian been !
Even in extremity's dread hour,
When press’d on thee the Southern power,
And safety, to all human sight,
Was only found in rapid flight,
Thou heard'st a wretched female plain
In agony of travail-pain,
And thou didst bid thy little band
Upon the instant turn and stand,
And dare the worst the foe might do,
Rather than, like a knight untrue,
Leave to pursuers merciless
A woman in her last distress.-
And wilt thou now deny thine aid
To an oppress'd and injured maid,
Even plead for Ronald's perfidy,
his fickle faith on me?-
So witness Heaven, as true I vow,
Had I those earthly feelings now,
Which could my former bosom move
Ere taught to set its hopes above,
I'd spurn each proffer he could bring,
Till at my feet he laid the ring,
The ring and spousal contract both,
And fair acquittal of his oath,
By her who brooks his perjured scorn,
The ill-requited Maid of Lorn!"-
With sudden impulse forward sprung
The Page, and on her neck he hung;
Then, recollected instantly,
His head he stoop'd, and bent his knee,
Kiss'd twice the hand of Isabel,
Arose, and sudden left the cell.
The princess, loosen'd from his hold,
Blush'd angry at his bearing bold;
But good King Robert cried, “Chafe not-by signs he speaks his mind, He heard the plan my care design'd,
Nor could his transports hide.
But, sister, now bethink thee well;
choice the convent cell;
Trust, I shall play no tyrant part,
Either to force thy hand or heart,
Or suffer that Lord Ronald scorn,
Or wrong for thee, the Maid of Lorn.