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Better we had through mire and bush
Been lanthorn-led by Friar Rush."*
Fitz-Eustace, who the cause but guessed,
Nor wholly understood, His comrades' clamourous 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.
• Alias Will o' the Wisp. See Note.
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 broad sword 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 shewing forth the way,
They journeyed all the morning day.
The green-sward 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 over head
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 shew 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, shewed
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,