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And, on the verge that beetled o'er
The ocean-tide's incessant roar,
Dreamed calmly out their dangerous dream,
Till wakened by the morning beam;
Wben, dazzled by the eastern glow,
Such startler cast his glance below,
And saw unmeasured depth around,
And heard unintermitted sound,
And thought the battled fence so frail,
It waved like cobweb in the gale;
Amid his senses' giddy wheel,
Did he not desperate impulse feel,
Headlong to plunge himself below,
And meet the worst bis fears foreshow -
Thus, Ellen, dizzy and astound,
As sudden ruin yawned around,
By crossing terrors wildly tossed,
Still for the Douglas fearing most,
Could scarce the desperate thought withstand,
To buy his safety with her hand.
Such purpose dread could Malcolm spy
In Ellen's quivering lip and eye,
And eager rose to speak-but ere
His tongue could hurry forth his fear,
Had Douglas marked the hectic strife,
Where death seemed combating with life;
For to her cheek, in feverish flood,
One instant rushed the throbbing blood,
Then ebbing back, with sudden sway,
Left its domain as wan as clay.
“ Roderick, enough! enough! ” he cried,
“My daughter cannot be thy bride;
Not that the blush to wooer dear,
Nor paleness that of maiden fear.
It may not be--forgive her, Chief.
Nor hazard aught for our relief.
Against his sovereign, Douglas ne'er
Will level a rebellious spear.
'Twas I that taught his youthful hand
To rein a steed and wield a brand;
I see him yet, the princely boy!
Not Ellen more my pride and joy;
I love him still, despite my wrongs,
By hasty wrath, and slanderous tongues.
O seek the grace you well may find,
Without a cause to mine combined.”—
XXXIII, Twice through the hall the Chieftain strode; The waving of his tartans broad, And darkened brow, where wounded pride With ire and disappointment vied,
Seemed, by the torch's gloomy light,
Like the ill Dæmon of the night,
Stooping his pinions' shadowy sway
Upon the nighted pilgrim's way:
But, unrequited Love! thy dart
Plunged deepest its envenomed smart,
And Roderick, with thine anguish stung,
At length the hand of Douglas wrung,
While eyes, that mocked at tears before,
With bitter drops were running o'er.
The death-pangs of long-cherished hope
Scarce in that ample breast had scope,
But, struggling with his spirit proud,
Convulsive heaved its chequered shroud,
While every sob-50 mute were all-
Was heard distinctly through the hall.
The scn's despair, the mother's look,
Ill might the gentle Ellen brook;
She rose, and to her side there came,
To aid her parting steps, the Græme.
Then Roderick from the Douglas broke-
As flashes flame through sable smoke,
Kindling its wreaths, long, dark, and low,
To one broad blaze of ruddy glow,
So the deep anguish of despair
Burst, in fierce jealousy, to air.
With stalwart grasp bis hand he laid
On Malcolm's breast and belted plaid :
“ Back, beardless boy!” he sternly said,
“ Back, minion ! hold'st thou thus at naught
The lesson I so lately taught ?
This roof, the Douglas, and that maid,
Thank thou for punishment delayed."-
Eager as greyhound on his game,
Fiercely with Roderick grappled Græme.
“ Perish my name, if aught afford
Its chieftain safety, save his sword !”–
Thus as they strove, their desperate hand
Griped to the dagger or the brand,
And death had been, but Douglas rose,
And thrust between the struggling foes
His giant strength:-“Chieftains, forego!
I hold the first who strikes, my foe.
Madmen, forbear your frantic jar!
What! is the Douglas fallen so far,
His daughter's hand is deemed the spoil
Of such dishonourable broil !”-
Sullen and slowly, they unclasp,
As struck with shame, their desperate grasp,
And each upon his rival glared,
With foot advanced, and blade half bared.
Ere yet the brands aloft were flung,
Margaret on Roderick's mantle hung,
And Malcolm heard his Ellen's scream,
As faltered through terrific dream.
Then Roderick plunged in sheath his sword,
And veiled his wrath in scornful word.
“Rest safe till morning; pity 'twere
Such cheek should feel the midnight air !
Then mayest thou to James Stuart tell,
Roderick will keep the lake and fell,
Nor lackey, with his free-born clan,
The pageant pomp of earthly man.
More would he of Clan-Alpine know,
Thou canst our strength and passes show.-
Malise, what ho!”-his hench-man came;
“ Give our safe conduct to the Græme.” –
Young Malcolm answered, calm and bold,
“ Fear nothing for thy favourite hold;
The spot, an angel deigned to grace,
Is blessed, though robbers haunt the place.
Thy churlish courtesy for those
Reserve, who fear to be thy foes.
As safe to me the mountain way
At midnight, as in blaze of day,
Though with his boldest at his back,
Even Roderick Dhu beset the track,
Brave Douglas,-lovely Ellen,-nay,
Nought here of parting will I say.
Earth does not hold a lonesome glen,
So secret, but we meet agen.-
Chieftain! we too shall find an hour."-
He said, and left the sylvan bower.
Old Allan followed to the strand,
(Such was the Douglas's command,)
And anxious told, how, on the morn,
The stern Sir Roderick deep had sworn,
The Fiery Cross should circle o'er
Dale, glen, and valley, down, and moor.
Much were the peril to the Græmne,
From those who to the signal came;
Far up the lake 'twere safest land,
Himself would row him to the strand.
He gave bis counsel to the wind,
While Malcolm did, unheeding, bind,
Round dirk and pouch and broad-sword rolled,
His ample plaid in tightened fold,
And stripped his limbs to such array,
As best might suit the watery way.
Then spoke abrupt: " Farewell to thee,
Pattern of old fidelity!"-
The minstrel's hand he kindly pressed, -
"O! could I point a place of rest!
My sovereign holds in ward my land,
My uncle leads my vassal band;
To tame his foes, his friends to aid,
Poor Malcolm has but heart and blade.
Yet, if there be one faithful Græme,
Who loves the Chieftain of his name,
Not long shall honoured Douglas dwell,
Like hunted stag in mountain cell;
Nor, ere yon pride-swollen robber dare,—
I may not give the rest to air!
Tell Roderick Dhu, I owed him nought,
Not the poor service of a boat,
To waft me to yon mountain side."-
Then plunged he in the flashing tide.
Bold o'er the flood his head he bore,
And stoutly steered him from the shore;
And Allan strained his anxious eye,
Far 'mid the lake his form to spy.
Darkening across each puny wave,
To which the moon her silver gave,
Fast as the cormorant could skim,
The swimmer plied each active limb;
Then landing in the moonlight dell,
Loud shouted of his weal to tell.
The Minstrel heard the far halloo,
And joyful from the shore withdrew.
Tine rolls his ceaseless course. The race of yore
Who danced our infancy upon their knee, And told our marvelling boyhood legends store,
Of their strange ventures happed by land or sea, How are they blotted from the things that be!
How few, all weak and withered of their force,
Wait, on the verge of dark eternity,
Like stranded wrecks, the tide returning hoarse,
To sweep them from our sight! Time rolls his cease-
Yet live there still who can remember well,
How, when a mountain chief his bugle blew,
Both field and forest, dingle, cliff, and dell,
And solitary heath, the signal knew;
And fast the faithful clan around him drew,
What time the warning note was keenly wound,
What time aloft their kindred banner flew,
While clamorous war-pipes yelled the gathering sound, And while the Fiery Cross glanced, like a meteor, round.
II. The summer dawn's reflected hue To purple changed Loch-Katrine blue; Mildly and soft the western breeze Just kissed the lake, just stirred the trees, And the pleased lake, like maiden coy, Trembled but dimpled not for joy; The mountain shadows on her breast Were neither broken nor at rest; In bright uncertainty they lie, Like future joys to Fancy's eye. The water lily to the light Her chalice reared of silver bright; The doe awoke, and to the lawn, Begemmed with dew-drops, led her fawn; The grey mist left the mountain side, The torrent showed its glistening pride; Invisible in flecked sky, The lark sent down her revelry; The black-bird and the speckled thrush Good-morrow gave from brake and bush; In answer cooed the cushat dove, Her notes of peace, and rest, and love,
No thought of peace, no thought of rest,
Assuaged the storm in Roderick's breast.
With sheathèd broad-sword in his hand,
Abrupt he paced the islet strand,
And eyed the rising sun, and laid
His hand on his impatient blade.
Beneath a rock, his vassals' care
Was prompt the ritual to prepare,
With deep and deathful meaning fraught;
For such Antiquity had taught
Was preface meet, ere yet abroad
The Cross of Fire should take its road.
The shrinking band stood oft aghast
At the impatient glance he cast;-
Such glance the mountain eagle threw,
As, from the cliffs of Ben-venue,
She spread her dark sails on the wind,
And, high in middle heaven reclined.
With her broad shadow on the lake,
Silenced the warblers of the brake.
A heap of withered boughs was piled,
Of juniper and rowan wild,
Mingled with shivers from the oak,
Rent by the lightning's recent stroke.
Brian, the Hermit, by it stood,
Bare-footed, in his frock and hood.