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"But whence thy captives, friend? such spoil
As theirs must needs reward thy toil.
Old dost thou wax, and wars grow sharp;
Thou now hast glee-maiden and harp!
Get thee an ape,
and trudge the land, The leader of a juggler band.”.
“No, comrade; - no such fortune mine.
After the fight, these sought our line,
That aged harper and the girl,
And, having audience of the Earl,
Mar bade I should purvey them steed,
And bring them hitherward with speed.
Forbear your mirth and rude alarm,
For none shall do them shame or harm."
“Hear ye his boast?” cried John of Brent,
Ever to strife and jangling bent;
“Shall he strike doe beside our lodge,
And yet the jealous niggard grudge
the forester his fee?
I'll have my share howe'er it be,
Despite of Moray, Mar, or thee.”
Bertram his forward step withstood;
And, burning in his vengeful mood,
Old Allan, though unfit for strife,
Laid hand upon his dagger-knife;
But Ellen boldly stepp'd between,
And dropp'd at once the tartan screen:
So, from his mourning cloud, appears
The sun of May, through summer tears.
The savage soldiery, amazed,
As on descended angel gazed;
Even bardy Brent, abash’d and tamed,
Stood half admiring half ashamed.
Boldly she spoke, -"Soldiers, attend!
My father was the soldier's friend;
Cheer'd him in camps, in marches led,
And with him in the battle bled.
Not from the valiant, or the strong,
Should exile's daughter suffer wrong."
Answer'd De Brent, most forward still
In every feat or good or ill,
“I shame me of the part I play'd;
And thou an outlaw's child, poor maid !
An outlaw I by forest laws,
And merry Needwood knows the cause.
Poor Rose, Rose be living now,"
He wiped his iron eye and brow,
“Must bear such age, I think as thou.
Hear ye, my mates;
The Captain of our watch to hall:
There lies my halberd on the floor;
And he that steps my halberd o'er,
To do the maid injurious part,
My shaft shall quiver in his heart!
Beware loose speech, or jesting rough:
Ye all know John de Brent. Enough.”
Their Captain came, a gallant young, (Of Tullibardine's house he sprung) Nor wore he yet the spurs of knight; Gay was his mien, his humour light, And, though by courtesy controllid, Forward his speech, his bearing bold. The high-born maiden ill could brook The scanning of his curious look And dauntless eye: - and yet, in sooth, Young Lewis was a generous youth; But Ellen's lovely face and mien, Ill suited to the garb and scene, Might lightly bear construction strange, And give loose fancy scope to range. “Welcome to Stirling towers, fair maid ! Come ye to seek a champion's aid, On palfrey white, with harper hoar, Like errant damosel of yore? Does thy high quest a knight require, Or may the venture suit a squire?” Her dark eye flash'd ; -- she paused and sigh'd, “O what have I to do with pride!
Through scenes of sorrow, shame, and strife,
A suppliant for a father's life,
I crave an audience of the King.
Behold, to back my suit, a ring,
The royal pledge of grateful claims,
Given by the monarch to Fitz-James."
The signet-ring young Lewis took
With deep respect and alter'd look;
And said — "This ring our duties own;
And pardon, if to worth unknown,
In semblance mean obscurely veild,
Lady, in aught my folly fail'd.
Soon as the day flings wide his gates,
The King shall know what suitor waits.
Please you, meanwhile, in fitting bower
Repose you till his waking hour;
Female attendance shall obey
Your hest, for service or array:
Permit I marshal
But, ere she follow'd, with the grace
And open bounty of her race,
She bade her slender purse be shared
Among the soldiers of the guard.
The rest with thanks their guerdon took;
But Brent, with shy and awkward look,
On the reluctant maiden's hold
Forced bluntly back the proffer'd gold; -
“Forgive a haughty English heart,
And O forget its ruder part!
The vacant purse shall be my share,
Which in my barret-cap I'll bear,
Perchance in jeopardy of war,
Where gayer crests may keep afar.”
With thanks - 'twas all she could the maid
His rugged courtesy repaid.
When Ellen forth with Lewis went, Allan made suit to John of Brent: “My lady safe, O let your grace
Give me to see my master's face.
His minstrel I, – to share his doom
Bound from the cradle to the tomb.
Tenth in descent, since first
Waked for his noble house their lyres,
Nor one of all the race was known
But prized its weal above their own.
With the Chief's birth begins our care,
Our harp must soothe the infant heir,
Teach the youth tales of fight, and grace
His earliest feat of field or chase;
In peace, in war, our rank we keep,
We cheer his board, we soothe his sleep,
Nor leave him till we pour our verse
A doleful tribute! - o'er his hearse.
Then let me share his captive lot;
It is my right - deny it not!”.
“Little we reck," said John of Brent,
“We Southern men, of long descent;
Nor wot we how a name.
Makes clansmen vassals to a lord:
Yet kind my noble landlord's part,
God bless the house of Beaudesert!
And, but I loved to drive the deer,
More than to guide the labouring steer,
I had not dwelt an outcast here.
Come, good old Minstrel, follow me;
Thy Lord and Chieftain shalt thou see,
Then, from a rusted iron hook,
A bounch of ponderous keys he took,
Lighted a torch, and Allan led
Through grated arch and passage dread.
Portals they pass'd, where, deep within,
Spoke prisoner's móan, and fetters' din;
Through rugged vaults, where, loosely stored,
Lay wheel, and axe, and headsman's sword,
And many a hideous engine grim,
For wrenching joint, and crushing limb,
By artist form'd who deem'd it shame
And sin to give their work a name.
Scolt, Poetical Works. I.
They halted at a low-brow'd porch,
And Brent to Allan gave the torch,
While bolt and chain he backward rolld,
And made the bar unhasp its hold.
They enter'd: - 'twas a prison-room
Of stern security and gloom,
Yet not a dungeon; for the day
Through lofty gratings found its way,
And rude and antique garniture
Deck'd the sad walls and oaken floor;
Such as the rugged days of old
Deem'd fit for captive noble's hold.
“Here,” said De Brent, “thou mayest remain
Till the Leech visit him again.
Strict is his charge, the warders tell,'
To tend the noble prisoner well.”
Retiring then, the bolt he drew,
And the lock's murmurs growl'd anew.
Roused at the sound, from lowly bed
A captive feebly raised his head;
The wondering Minstrel look'd, and knew -
Not his dear lord, but Roderick Dhu!
For, come from where Clan-Alpine fought,
They, erring, deem'd the Chief he sought.
As the tall ship, whose lofty prore
Shall never stem the billows more,
Deserted by her gallant band,
Amid the breakers lies astrand, -
So, on his couch, lay Roderick Dhu!
And oft his fever'd limbs he threw
In toss abrupt, as when her sides
Lie rocking in the advancing tides,
That shake her frame with ceaseless beat,
Yet cannot heave her from the seat;
O! how unlike her course at sea!
Or his free step on hill and lea!
Soon as the Minstrel he could scan, “What of thy lady?
of my clan? My mother? — Douglas ? — tell me all ? Have they been ruin'd in my fall?