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Gaping for fear and ruth, they saw
The charger panting on his straw;
Till one, who would seem wisest, cried -
“What else but evil could betide,
With that cursed Palmer for our guide ?
Better we had through mire and bush
Been lantern-led by Friar Rush.”
Fitz-Eustace, who the cause but guessed,
Nor wholly understood,
His comrades' clamorous plaints suppressed;
He knew Lord Marmion's mood.
Him, ere he issued forth, he sought,
And found deep plunged in gloomy thought,
And did his tale display
Simply as if he knew of nought
To cause such disarray.
Lord Marmion gave attention cold,
Nor marvelled at the wonders told, -
Passed them as accidents of course,
And bade his clarions sound to horse.
Young Henry Blount, meanwhile, the cost
Had reckoned with their Scottish host;
And, as the charge he cast and paid,
“Ill thou deserv'st thy hire,” he said :
“Dost see, thou knave, my horse's plight?
Fairies have ridden him all the night,
And left him in a foam !
I trust that soon a conjuring band,
With English cross and blazing brand,
Shall drive the devils from this land
To their infernal home:
For in this haunted den, I trow,
All night they trampled to and fro."
The laughing host looked on the hire,
“Gramercy, gentle Southern squire,
And if thou com’st among the rest,
With Scottish broadsword to be blest,
Sharp be the brand, and sure the blow,
And short the pang to undergo."
Here stayed their talk,--for Marmion
Gave now the signal to set on.
The Palmer showing forth the way,
They journeyed all the morning-day.
The greensward way was smooth and good,
Through Humbie's and through Saltoun's wood;
A forest glade, which varying still,
Here gave a view of dale and hill,
There narrower closed, till overhead,
A vaulted screen the branches made.
“A pleasant path," Fitz-Eustace said;
“Such as where errant-knights might see
Adventures of high chivalry;
Might meet some damsel flying fast,
With hair unbound and looks aghast;
And smooth and level course were here,
In her defence to break a spear.
Here, too, are twilight nooks and dells;
And oft, in such, the story tells,
The damsel kind, from danger freed,
Did grateful pay her champion's meed.”
He spoke to cheer Lord Marmion's mind :
Perchance to show his lore designed ;
For Eustace much had pored
Upon a huge romantic tome,
In the hall-window of his home,
Imprinted at the antique dome
Of Caxton or De Worde.
Therefore he spoke, - but spoke in vain,
For Marmion answered nought again.
Now sudden, distant trumpets shrill,
In notes prolonged by wood and hill,
Were heard to echo far;
Each ready archer grasped his bow,
But by the flourish soon they know,
They breathed no point of war.
Yet cautious, as in foeman's land,
Lord Marmion's order speeds the band,
Some opener ground to gain;
And scarce a furlong had they rode,
When thinner trees receding showed
A little woodland plain.
Just in that advantageous glade,
The halting troop a line had made,
As forth from the opposing shade
Issued a gallant train.
First came the trumpets at whose clang
So late the forest echoes rang
On prancing steeds they forward pressed,
With scarlet mantle, azure vest;
Each at his trump a banner wore,
Which Scotland's royal scutcheon bore:
Heralds and pursuivants, by name
Bute, Islay, Marchmount, Rothsay, came,
In painted tabards, proudly showing
Gules, argent, or, and azure glowing,
Attendant on a King-at-arms,
Whose hand the armorial truncheon held
That feudal strife had often quelled,
When wildest its alarms.
He was a man of middle age;
In aspect manly, grave, and sage,
As on king's errand come;
But in the glances of his eye,
A penetrating, keen, and sly
Expression found its home;
The flash of that satiric rage,
Which, bursting on the early stage,
Branded the vices of the age,
And broke the keys of Rome.
On milk-white palfrey forth he paced;
His cap of maintenance was graced
With the proud heron-plume.
From his steed's shoulder, loin, and breast,
Silk housings swept the ground,
With Scotland's arms, device, and crest,
Embroidered round and round.
The double tressure might you see,
First by Achaius borne,
The thistle and the fleur-de-lis,
And gallant unicorn.
So bright the King's armorial coat,
That scarce the dazzled eye could note,
In living colors, blazoned brave,
The Lion, which his title gave;
A train which well beseemed his state,
But all unarmed, around him wait,
Still is thy name in high account,
And still thy verse has charms,
Sir David Lindesay of the Mount,
Lord Lion King-at-arms!
Down from his horse did Marmion spring,
Soon as he saw the Lion-King;
For well the stately Baron knew
To him such courtesy was due,
Whom royal James himself had crowned,
And on his temples placed the round
Of Scotland's ancient diadem :
And wet his brow with hallowed wine.
And on his finger given to shine
The emblematic gem.
Their mutual greetings duly made,
The Lion thus his message said:
“ Though Scotland's King hath deeply swore
Ne'er to knit faith with Henry more,
And strictly hath forbid resort
From England to his royal court;
Yet, for he knows Lord Marmion's name
And honors much his warlike fame,
My liege hath deemed it shame and lack
Of courtesy, to turn him back;