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The helpless youth is Ronald's charge,
His couch my plaid, his fence my targe.”-
He ceased; for many an eager hand
Had urged the barges from the strand.
Their number was a score and ten,
They bore thrice three-score chosen men.
With such small force did Bruce at last
The dye for death or empire cast !
Now on the darkening main afloat,
Ready and mann'd rocks every boat ;
Beneath their oars the ocean's might
Was dash'd to sparks of glimmering light.
Faint and more faint, as off they bore,
Their armour glanced against the shore,
And, mingled with the dashing tide,
Their murmuring voices distant died.-
6 God speed them !” said the Priest, as dark
On distant billows glides each bark;
6 O Heaven! when swords for freedom'shine,
And monarch's right, the cause is thine !
Edge doubly every patriot blow!'.
Beat down the banners of the foe!
And be it to the Nations known,
That Victory is from God alone !"-
the hill his path he drew,
He turn'd his blessings to renew,
Oft turn’d, till on the darken'd coast
All traces of their course were lost;
Then slowly bent to Brodičk tower,
To shelter for the evening hour.
In night the fairy prospects sink,
Where Cumray's isles with verdant link
Close the fair entrance of the Clyde ;
The woods of Bute, no more descried,
Are gone and on the placid sea
The rowers ply their task with glee,
While hands that knightly lances bore
Impatient aid the labouring oar.
The half-faced moon shone dim and pale,
And glanced against the whiten'd sail;
But on that ruddy beacon-light
Each steersman kept the helm aright,
And oft, for such the King's command,
That all at once might reach the strand,
From boat to boat loud shout and hail
Warn'd them to crowd or slacken sail.
South and by west the armada bore,
And near at length the Carrick shore.
As less and less the distance grows,
High and more high the beacon rose; The light, that seem'd a twinkling star, Now blazed portentous, fierce, and far. Dark-red the heaven above it glow'd, Dark-red the sea beneath it flow'd,
Red' rose the rocks on ocean's brim,
In blood-red light her islets swim;
Wild scream the dazzled sea-fowl
gave, Dropp'd from their crags on plashing wave, The deer to distant covert drew, The black-cock deem'd it day, and crew. Like some tall castle given to flame, O'er half the land the lustre came. “ Now, good my Liege, and brother sage, What think of mine elfin page ?" “ Row on!” the noble King replied, « We'll learn the truth whate'er betide;
Yet sure the beadsman and the child
Could ne'er have waked that beacon wild.".
With that the boats approach'd the land,
But Edward's grounded on the sand;
The eager knight leap'd in the sea
Waist-deep, and first on shore was he,
Though every barge's hardy band
Contended which should gain the land,
When that strange light, which, seen afar,
Seem'd steady as the polar star,
Now, like a prophet's fiery chair,
Seem'd travelling the realms of air.
Wide o'er the sky the splendour glows,
As that portentous meteor rose;
Helm, axe, and falchion glitter'd bright,
And in the red and dusky light
His comrade's face each warrior saw,
Nor marvell'd it was pale with awe.
Then high in air the beams were lost,
And darkness sunk
Ronald to Heaven a prayer address'd,
And Douglas cross'd his dauntless breast;
“ Saint James protect us !" Lennox cried,
But reckless Edward spoke aside,
“ Deem'st thou, Kirkpatrick, in that flame
Red Comyn's angry spirit came,
Or would thy dauntless heart endure
Once more to make assurance sure ?"