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The Abbot on the threshold stood,
And in his hand the holy rood;
Back on his shoulders flow'd his hood,
The torches' glaring ray
Shew'd, in its red and flashing light,
His wither'd cheek and amice white,
His blue eye glistening cold and bright,
His tresses scant and grey. “ Fair Lords," he said, “ Our Lady's love, And peace be with you from above,
And Benedicite ! But what means this ? no peace is here !Do dirks unsheath'd suit bridal cheer ?
these naked brands
A seemly shew for Churchman's sight,
When he comes summon'd to unite
Betrothed hearts and hands ?".
Then, cloaking hate with fiery zeal,
Proud Lorn first answerd the appeal ;
“ Thou comest, O holy Man, True sons of blessed church to greet, But little deeming here to meet
A wretch, beneath the ban Of Pope and Church, for murder done Even on the sacred altar-stone ! Well may'st thou wonder we should know Such miscreant here, nor lay him low, Or dream of greeting, peace, or truce, With excommunicated Bruce ! Yet well I grant, to end debate, Thy sainted voice decide his fate."
XXV. Then Ronald pled the stranger's cause, And knighthood's oath and honour's laws;
And Isabel, on bended knee,
Brought pray'rs and tears to back the plea ;
And Edith lent her generous aid,
And wept, and Lorn for mercy pray'd.
“ Hence," he exclaim'd, “ degenerate maid !
Was't not enough to Ronald's bower
I brought thee, like a paramour,
Or bond-maid at her master's gate,
His careless cold approach to wait ?
But the bold Lord of Cumberland,
The gallant Clifford, seeks thy hand;
His it shall be-Nay, no reply!
Hence ! till those rebel eyes be dry.”-
With grief the Abbot heard and saw,
Yet nought relax'd his brow of awe.
Then Argentine, in England's name,
So highly urged his sovereign's claim,
He waked a spark, that, long suppress’d,
Had smoulder'd in Lord Ronald's breast;
And now, as from the flint the fire,
Flash'd forth at once his generous ire.-
“ Enough of noble blood,” he said,
* By English Edward had been shed,
Since matchless Wallace first had been
In mock'ry crown'd with wreaths of green,
And done to death by felonghand,
For guarding well his father's land.
Where's Nigel Bruce ? and De la Haye,
And valiant Seton-where are they?
Where Somerville, the kind and free?
And Fraser, flower of chivalry?
Have they not been on gibbet bound,
Their quarters flung to hawk and hound,
And hold we here a cold debate,
To yield more victims to their fate ?
What! can the English Leopard's mood
Never be gorged with northern blood ?
Was not the life of Athole shed,
To sooth the tyrant's sicken'd bed ?
And must his word, at dying day,
Be nought but quarter, hang, and slay !-
Thou frown'st, De Argentine - My gage
Is prompt to prove the strife I wage.”—
« Nor deem," said stout Dunvegan's knight,
“ That thou shalt brave alone the fight !
By saints of isle and mainland both,
By Woden wild, (my grandsire's oath)
Let Rome and England do their worst,
Howe'er attainted or accursed,
If Bruce shall e'er find friends again,
Once more to brave a battle-plain,
If Douglas couch again his lance,
Or Randolph dare another chance,
Old Torquil will not be to lack,
With twice a thousand at his back.