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As wanting still the torch of life,
To wake the marble into strife.
That awful pause the stranger maid,
And Edith, seized to pray for aid.
As to De Argentine she clung,
Away her veil the stranger flung,
And, lovely 'mid her wild despair,
Fast stream'd her eyes, wide flow'd her hair.
“O thou, of knighthood once the flower,
Sure refuge in distressful hour,
Thou, who in Judah well hast fought
For our dear faith, and oft hast sought
Renown in knightly exercise,
When this poor hand has dealt the prize,
Say, can thy soul of honour brook
On the unequal strife to look,
When, butcher'd thus in peaceful hall,
Those once thy friends, my brethren, fall !"
To Argentine she turn'd her word,
But her eye sought the Island Lord.
A flush like evening's setting flame
Glow'd on his cheek ; his hardy frame,
As with a brief convulsion, shook :
With hurried voice and eager look,
“ Fear not,” he said, “ my Isabel I
What said I-Edith all is well
Nay, fear not-I will well provide
The safety of my lovely bride-
My bride?”—but there the accents clung
In tremor to his fault'ring tongue,
Now rose De Argentine, to claim The prisoners in his sovereign's name, To England's crown, who, vassals sworn, 'Gainst their liege lord had weapon borne (Such speech, I ween, was but to hide His care their safety to provide ;
For knight more true in thought and deed
Than Argentine ne'er spurr'd a steed)—
And Ronald, who, his meaning guess'd,
Seem'd half to sanction the request.
This purpose fiery Torquil broke;
“ Somewhat we've heard of England's yoke,"
He said, “and, in our islands, Fame
Hath whisper'd of a lawful claim,
That calls The Bruce fair Scotland's Lord,
Though dispossess'd by foreign sword.
This craves reflection-but though right
And just the charge of England's Knight,
Let England's crown her rebels seize,
Where she has power; in towers like these,
'Midst Scottish Chieftains summon'd here
To bridal mirth and bridal cheer,
Be sure, with no consent of mine,
Shall either Lorn or Argentine
With chains or violence, in our sight,
Oppress a brave and banish'd knight.”
Then waked the wild debate again,
With brawling threat and clamour vain.
Vassals and menials, thronging in,
Lent their brute rage to swell the din;
When, far and wide, a bugle-clang
From the dark ocean upward rang.
• The Abbot comes !” they cry at once,
“ The holy man, whose favour'd glance
Hath sainted visions known,
Angels have met him on the way,
Beside the blessed martyrs' bay,
And by Columba's stone.
His monks have heard their hymnings high
Sound from the summit of Dun-Y,
To cheer his penance lone,
When at each cross, on girth and wold,
(Their number thrice an hundred-fold,)
His prayer he made, his beads he told,
With Aves many a one-
He comes our feuds to reconcile,
A sainted man from sainted isle;
We will his holy doom abide,
The Abbot shall our strife decide."
Scarcely this fair accord was o'er,
When through the wide revolving door
The black-stoled brethren wind; Twelve sandall'd monks, who reliques bore, With many a torch-bearer before,
And many a cross behind.
Then sunk each fierce up-lifted hand,
And dagger bright and flashing brand
Dropp'd swiftly at the sight;
They vanish'd from the Churchman's eye,
As shooting stars, that glance and die,
Dart from the vault of night.