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And many a sheaf of arrows spent,
Ere Scotland's King shall cross the Trent.
Yet pause, brave Prince, while yet you may !”.
The monarch lightly turned away,
And to his nobles loud did call, -
“Lords, to the dance, - a hall! a hall!”
Himself his cloak and sword flung by,
And led Dame Heron gallantly;
And minstrels, at the royal order,
Rung out, 6 Blue Bonnets o'er the Border."
Leave we these revels now, to tell
What to Saint Hilda's maids befell,
Whose galley, as they sailed again
To Whitby, by a Scot was ta’en.
Now at Dun-Edin did they bide,
Till James should of their fate decide;
And soon, by his command,
Were gently summoned to prepare
To journey under Marmion's care,
As escort honored, safe, and fair,
Again to English land.
The Abbess told her chaplet o’er,
Nor knew which saint she should implore;
For, when she thought of Constance, sore
She feared Lord Marmion's mood.
And judge what Clara must have felt!
The sword, that hung in Marmion's belt,
Had drunk De Wilton's blood.
Unwittingly King James had given,
As guard to Whitby's shades,
The man most dreaded under Heaven
By these defenceless maids :
Yet what petition could avail,
Or who would listen to the tale
Of woman, prisoner and nun,
'Mid bustle of a war begun ?
They deemed it hopeless to avoid
The convoy of their dangerous guide.
Their lodgings, so the King assigned,
To Marmion's, as their guardian, joined;
And thus it fell, that, passing nigh,
The Palmer caught the Abbess' eye,
Who warned him by a scroll,
She had a secret to reveal,
That much concerned the Church's weal
And health of sinner's soul,
And, with deep charge of secrecy,
She named a place to meet, Within an open
That hung from dizzy pitch and high
Above the stately street;
To which, as common to each home,
At night they might in secret come.
At night in secret there they came,
The Palmer and the holy dame.
The moon among the clouds rose high,
And all the city hum was by.
Upon the street, where late before
Did din of war and warriors roar,
You might have heard a pebble fall,
A beetle hum, a cricket sing,
An owlet flap his boding wing
On Giles’s steeple tall.
The antique buildings, climbing high,
Whose Gothic frontlets sought the sky,
Were here wrapt deep in shade;
There on their brows the moonbeam broke,
Through the faint wreaths of silvery smoke,
And on the casements played.
And other light was none to see,
Save torches gliding far,
Before some chieftain of degree,
Who left the royal revelry
To bowne him for the war. —
A solemn scene the Abbess chose,
A solemn hour, her secret to disclose.
“0, holy Palmer!" she began, -
“For sure he must be sainted man,
Whose blessed feet have trod the ground
Where the Redeemer's tomb is found,
For His dear Church's sake, my tale
Attend, nor deem of light avail,
Though I must speak of worldly love, -
How vain to those who wed above!
De Wilton and Lord Marmion wooed
Clara de Clare, of Gloster's blood
(Idle it were of Whitby's dame
To say of that same blood I came);
And once, when jealous rage was high,
Lord Marmion said despiteously,
Wilton was traitor in his heart,
And had made league with Martin Swart,
When he came here on Simnel's part;
And only cowardice did restrain
His rebel aid on Stokefield's plain, -
And down he threw his glove: - the thing
Was tried, as wont, before the King;
Where frankly did De Wilton own
That Swart in Guelders he had known;
And that between them then there went
Some scroll of courteous compliment.
For this he to his castle sent;
But when his messenger returned,
Judge how De Wilton's fury burned !
For in his packet there were laid
Letters that claimed disloyal aid
And proved King Henry's cause betrayed.
His fame, thus blighted, in the field
He strove to clear by spear and shield;
To clear his fame in vain he strove,
For wondrous are His ways above!
Perchance some form was unobserved;
Perchance in prayer or faith, he swerved;
Else how could guiltless champion quail,
Or how the blessed ordeal fail ?
“His squire, who now De Wilton saw
As recreant doomed to suffer law,
Repentant, owned in vain
That, while he had the scrolls in care,
A stranger maiden, passing fair,
Had drenched him with a beverage rare;
His words no faith could gain.
With Clare alone he credence won,
Who, rather than wed Marmion,
Did to Saint Hilda's shrine repair,
To give our house her livings fair
And die a vestal vot’ress there.
The impulse from the earth was given,
But bent her to the paths of heaven.
A purer heart, a lovelier maid,
Ne'er sheltered her in Whitby's shade,
No, not since Saxon Edelfled;
Only one trace of earthly stain,
That for her lover's loss
She cherishes a sorrow vain,
And murmurs at the cross.
And then her heritage; - it goes
Along the banks of Tame;
Deep fields of grain the reaper mows,
In meadows rich the heifer lows;
The falconer and huntsman knows
Its woodlands for the game.
Shame were it to Saint Hilda dear,
And I, her humble vot’ress here,
Should do a deadly sin,
Her temple spoiled before mine eyes,
If this false Marmion such a prize
By my consent should win;
Yet hath our boisterous monarch sworn
That Clare shall from our house be torn,
And grievous cause have I to fear
Such mandate doth Lord Marmion bear.