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He was waspish, arch, and litherlie,
But well Lord Cranstoun served he:
And he of his service was full fain;
For once he had been ta'en or slain,
An' it had not been his ministry.
All between Home and Hermitage,
Talked of Lord Cranstouu's Goblin Page.
For the Baron went on pilgrimage,
And took with him this elvish Page,
To Mary's Chapel of the Lowes :
For there, beside Our Ladye's lake,
An offering he had sworn to make,
And he would pay his vows.
But the Ladye of Branksome gathered a band
Of the best that would ride at her command ;
The trysting place was Newark Lee.
Wat of Harden came thither amain,
And thither came John of Thirlestaine,
And thither came William of Deloraine ;
They were three hundred spears and three.
Through Douglas-burn, up Yarrow stream,
Their horses prance, their lances gleam.
They came to St Mary's lake ere day;
But the chapel was void, and the Baron away.
They burned the chapel for very rage,
And cursed Lord Cranstoun's Goblin-Page.
xxxiv. And now, in Branksome's good green wood, As under the aged oak he stood, The Baron's courser pricks his ears, As if a distant noise he hears. The Dwarf waves his long lean arm on high, And signs to the lovers to part and fly; No time was then to vow or sigh. Fair Margaret, through the hazel grove, Flew like the startled cushat-dove:* The Dwarf the stirrup held and rein; . Vaulted the knight on his steed amain, And, pondering deep that morning's scene, Rode eastward through the hawthorns green. While thus he poured the lengthened tale, The Minstrel's voice began to fail : Full slyly smiled the observant page, And gave the withered hand of age A goblet, crowned with mighty wine, The blood of Velez' scorchèd vine. He raised the silver cup on high, And, while the big drop filled his eye,
Prayed God to bless the Duchess long,
And all who cheered a son of song.
The attending maidens smiled to see,
How long, how deep, how zealously,
The precious juice the Minstrel quaffed ;
And he, emboldened by the draught,
Looked gaily back to them, and laughed.
The cordial nectar of the bowl
Swelled his old veins, and cheered his soul;
A lighter, livelier prelude ran,
Ere thus his tale again began.
AND said I that my limbs were old;
And said I that my blood was cold,
And that my kindly fire was fled,
And my poor, withered heart was dead,
And that I might not sing of love ?
How could I to the dearest theme,
That ever warmed a minstrel's dream,
So foul, so false a recreant prove ! How could I name love's very name, Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!
In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed;
In war, he mounts the warrior's steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
In hamlets, dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above;
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.
So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween,
While, pondering deep the tender scene,
He rode through Branksome's hawthorn green.
But the Page shouted wild and shrill-
And scarce his helmet could he don. When downward from the shady hill
A stately knight came pricking on.
That warrior's steed, so dapple-grey,
Was dark with sweat, and splashed with clay;
His armour red with many a stain:
He seemed in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the live-long night;
For it was William of Deloraine.'
But no whit weary did he seem,
Wben, dancing in the sunny beam,
He marked the crane on the Baron's crest;
For his ready spear was in his rest.
Few were the words, and stern and high,
That marked the foemen's feudal hate
For question fierce, and proud reply.
Gave signal soon of dire debate.
Their very coursers seemed to know
That each was other's mortal foe,
And snorted fire, when wheeled around,
To give each knight his vantage-ground.
In rapid round the Baron bent ;
He sighed a sigh, and prayed a prayer ; The prayer was to his patron saint,
The sigh was to his ladye fair. Stout Deloraine nor sighed nor prayed, Nor saint, nor ladye, called to aid; But he stooped his head, and conched his spear, And spurred his steed to full career. The meeting of these champions proud Seemed like the bursting thunder-cloud.
Stern was the dint the Borderer lent!
The stately Baron backwards bent;
Bent backwards to his horse's tail,
And his plumes went scattering on the gale;
The tough ash spear, so stout and true,
Into a thousand finders flew.
But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail,
Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail;
Through shield, and jack, and acton past,
Deep in his bosom broke at last. —
Still sate the warrior saddle-fast,
Till stumbling in the mortal shock.
Down went the steed, the girthing broke,
Hurled on a heap lay man and horse.
The Baron onward passed his course ;
Nor knew-so giddy rolled his brain
His foe lay stretched upon the plain.
But when he reined his courser round,
And saw his foeman on the ground
Lie senseless as the bloody clay.
He bade his Page to staunch the wound,
And there beside the warrior stay,
And tend him in his doubtful state,
And lead him to Branksome castle-gate:
His noble mind was inly moved
For the kinsman of the maid he loved.
" This sbalt thou do without delay;
No longer here myself may stay:
Unless the swifter I speed away,
Short shrift will be at my dying day.”—
Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode ;
The Goblin-Page behind abode;
His lord's command he ne'er withstood,
Though small his pleasure to do good."
As the corslet off he took,
The Dwarf espied the Mighty Book !
Much he marvelled, a knight of pride
Like a book-bosomed priest should ride :
He thought not to search or staunch the wound,
Until the secret he had found.
The iron band, the iron clasp,
Resisted long the elfin grasp;
For when the first he had undone,
It closed as he the next begun.
Those iron clasps, that iron band,
Would not yield to unchristened hand,
Till he smeared the cover o'er
With the Borderer's curdled gore :
A moment then the volume spread,
And one short spell therein he read.
It had much of glamour * might,
Could make a ladye seem a knight;
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
Seem tapestry in lordly hall;
A nut-shell seem a gilded barge,
A sheelingt seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth-
All was delusion, nought was truth.
He had not read another spell,
When on his cheek a buffet fell,
So fierce, it stretched him on the plain,
Beside the wounded Deloraine.
From the ground he rose dismayed,
And shook his huge and matted head;
One word he muttered, and no more--
“Man of age, thou smitest sore !"-
No more the Elfin Page durst try
Into the wondrous Book to pry;
The clasps, though smeared with Christian gore,
Shut faster than they were before.
He bid it underneath his cloak.-
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive ;
It was not given by man alive.
Unwillingly himself he addressed,
To do his master's high behest :
He lifted up the living corse,
And laid it on the weary horse ;
He led him into Branksome hall.
Before the beards of the warders all ;
And each did after swear and say,
There only passed a wain of hay.
He took him to Lord David's tower,
Even to the Ladye's secret bower;
And, but that stronger spells were spread,
And the door might not be opened,
He had laid him on her very bed.
W bate'er he did of gramarye, *
Was always done maliciously;
He flung the warrior on the ground,
And the blood welled freshly from the wound.
As he repassed the outer court,
He spied the fair young child at sport:
He thought to train him to the wood;
For, at a word, be it understood,
He was always for ill, and never for good.
Seemed to the boy, some comrade gay,
Led him forth to the woods to play;
On the draw-bridge the warders stout
Saw a terrier and lurcher passing out.
He led the boy o'er bank and fell,
Until they came to a woodland brook ;
The running stream dissolved the spell,
. And his own elvish shape he took.
Could he have had his pleasure vilde,
He had crippled the joints of the noble child :
Or, with his fingers long and lean,
Had strangled him in fiendish spleen :
But his awful mother he had in dread,
And also his power was limited;
So he but scowled on the startled child,
And darted through the forest wild :
The woodland brook he bounding crossed,
And laughed, and shouted, “ Lost ! lost I lost !"
Full sore amazed at the wondrous change,
And frightened as a child might be,
At the wild yell and visage strange,
And the dark words of gramarye,