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He grieved, that day their games cut short,
And marred the dicer's brawling sport,
And shonted loud, “Renew the bowl !
And, while a merry catch I troll,
Let each the buxom chorus bear,
Like brethren of the brand and spear.”
Soldier's Song. Our vicar still preaches that Peter and Poule Laid a swinging long curse on the bonny brown bowl, That there's wrath and despair in the jolly black jack, And the seven deadly sins in a flaggon of sack; Yet whoop, Barnaby ! off with thy liquor, Drink upsees * out, and a fig for the vicar!
Our vicar he calls it damnation to sip
The ripe ruddy dew of a woman's dear lip,
Says, that Beelzebub lurks in her kerchief so sly,
And A pollyon shoots darts from her merry black eye;
Yet whoop, Jack ! kiss Gillian the quicker,
Till she bloom like a rose, and a fig for the vicar!
Our vicar thus preaches—and why should be not?
For the dues of his cure are the placket and pot ;
And 'tis right of his office poor laymen to lurch,
Who infringe the domains of our good mother Church.
Yet whoop, bully-boys ! off with your liquor,
Sweet Marjorie's the word, and a fig for the vicar !
The warder's challenge, heard without,
Stayed in mid roar the merry shout.
A soldier to the portal went,-
“ Here is old Bertram, sirs, of Ghent:
And, beat for jubilee the drum !
A maid and minstrel with him come."-
Bertran, a Fleming, grey and scarred,
Was entering now the Court of Guard,
A harper with him, and, in plaid
All muffled close a mountain maid,
Who backward shrunk to 'scape the view
Of the loose scene and boisterous crew.
“ What news!” they roared :-“I only know,
From noon till eve we fought with foe,
As wild and as untameable,
As the rude mountains where they dwell.
On both sides store of blood is lost,
Nor much success can either boast."
“But whence thy captives, friend ? such spoil
As theirs must needs reward thy toil.
* A Bacchanalian interjection, borrowed from the Dutch.
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
To pay 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 stepped between,
And dropped at once the tartan screen ;-
So, from his morning cloud, appears
The sun of May, through summer tears.
The savage soldiery, amazed,
As on descended angel gazed ;
Even hardy Brent, abashed and tamed,
Stood half admiring, half ashamed.
VIII. Boldly she spoke,—"Soldiers, attend! My father was the soldier's friend ; Cheered 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."-Answered De Brent, most forward still In every feat or good or ill, “I shame me of the part Í played: And thou an outlaw's child, poor maid ! An outlaw I by forest laws, And merry Needwood knows the cause. Poor Rose, --if Rose be living now,"He wiped his iron eye and brow, “ Must bear such age, I think, as thou. Hear ye, my mates; - I go to call The Captain of our watch to hall: There lies my halbert on the floor ; And he that steps my halbert 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 controlled,
Forward his speech, his bearing bold.
The high-born maiden ill could brook
The scanning of his curious look
tauntless 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 hoár,
Like arrant damosel of yore?
Does thy high quest a knight require,
Or may the venture suit a squire ?"-
Her dark eye flashed ;she paused and sighed, - -
“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 altered look;
And said, “This ring our duties own;
And, pardon, if to worth unknown,
In semblance mean obscurely veiled,
Lady, in aught my folly failed.
Soon as the day Alings 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 you the way."-
But, ere she followed, 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 proffered gold;
“Forgive a haughty English heart,
And 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,-'t was 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 door
Bound from the cradle to the tomb.
Tenth in descent, since first my sires
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 a word
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 bunch of ponderous keys he took,
Lighted a torch, and Allan led
Through grated arch and passage dread.
Portals they passed, where deep within,
Spoke prisoner's moan, and fetter's din;
Through rugged vaults, where, loosely stored,
Lay wheel, and axe, and headsman's sword,
And many an hideous engine grim,
For wrenching joint, and crushing limb,
By artists formed, who deemed it shame
And sin to give their work a name.
They halted at a low-browed porch,
And Brent to Allan gave the torch,
While bolt and chain he backward rolled,
And made the bar unhasp its hold.
They entered:-'twas a prison-room
Of stern security and gloom,
Yet not a dungeon; for the day
Through lofty gratings found its way,
And rude aud antique garniture
Decked the sad walls and oaken fluor;
Such as the rugged days of old,
Deemed fit for captive noble's hold.
“ Here,” said De Brent, “thou may'st remain
Till thé 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 growled anew.
Roused at the sound, from lowly bed
A captive feebly raised his head;
The wondering Minstrel looked, and knew
Not his dear lord, but Roderick Dhu!
For, come from where Clan-Alpine fought,
They, erring, deemed 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 fevered 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 her seat: O ! how unlike her course on 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 2-Douglas ?-tell me all ! Have they been ruined in my fall ? Ah, yes ! or wherefore art thou here ! Yet speak,-speak boldly,- do not fear."(For Allan, who his mood well knew, Was choked with grief and terror too.) “ Who fought-who fled !-Old man, be brief;-Some might-for they had lost their Chief. Who basely live ?—who bravely died?” “o, calm thee, Chief !” the Minstrel cried, “Ellen is safe;"_“For that, thank heaven!" “And hopes are for the Douglas given ;