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And—“ This to me!” he said, — “ An 'twere not for thy hoary beard, Such hand as Marmion's had not spared
To cleave the Douglas' head! And, first, I tell thee, haughty Peer, He, who does England's message here, Although the meanest in her state, May well, proud Angus, be thy mate : And, Douglas, more I tell thee here,
Even in thy pitch of pride,
Here in thy hold, thy vassals wear,
(Nay, never look upon your lord,
And lay your hands upon your sword,)
I tell thee, thou’rt defied!
And if thou said’st, I am not peer
To any lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or Highland, far or near,
Lord Angus, thou hast lied !"-
On the Earl's cheek the flush of rage
O’ercame the ashen hue of age :
Fierce he broke forth :-“ And dar’st thou then To beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall ?
And hop'st thou hence unscathed to go ?--
No, by Saint Bryde of Bothwell, no!-
Up drawbridge, grooms—what, Warder, ho!
Let the portcullis fall.”—
Lord Marmion turned,—well was his need!
And dashed the rowels in his steed,
Like arrow through the arch-way sprung,
The ponderous grate behind him rung:
To pass there was such scanty room,
The bars, descending, razed his plume.
The steed along the drawbridge flies,
Just as it trembled on the rise ;
Not lighter does the swallow skim
Along the smooth lake's level brim: .
And when Lord Marmion reached his band,
He halts, and turns with clenched hand,
And shout of loud defiance pours,
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.
“ Horse! horse !" the Douglas cried, “ and chase !"
But soon he reined his fury's pace :
“ A royal messenger he came,
Though most unworthy of the name.
A letter forged! Saint Jude to speed!
Did ever knight so foul a deed!
At first in heart it liked me ill,
When the King praised his clerkly skill.
Thanks to Saint Bothan, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line :
So swore I, and I swear it still,
Let my boy-bishop fret his fill.
Saint Mary' mend my fiery mood !
Old age ne'er cools the Douglas blood,
I thought to slay him where he stood.
'Tis pity of him too,” he cried;
“ Bold can he speak, and fairly ride :
I warrant him a warrior tried."
With this his mandate he recals,
And slowly seeks his castle halls.
The day in Marmion's journey wore ;
Yet, ere his passion's gust was o'er,
They crossed the heights of Stanrig-moor.
His troop more closely there he scann'd,
And missed the Palmer from the band.
" Palmer or not,” young Blount did say,
“ He parted at the peep. of day;
Good sooth, it was in strange array." —
“ In what array ?” said Marmion, quick.
“ My lord, I ill can spell the trick;
But all night long, with clink and bang;
Close to my couch did hammers clang ;
At dawn the falling drawbridge rang,
And from a loop-hole while I peep,
Old Bell-the-Cat came from the Keep,
Wrapped in a gown of sables fair,
As fearful of the morning air ;
Beneath, when that was blown aside,
A rusty shirt of mail I spied,
By Archibald won in bloody work,
Against the Saracen and Turk:
Last night it hung not in the hall; .
I thought some marvel would befal.
And next I saw them saddled lead
Old Cheviot forth, the Earl's best steed;
A matchless horse, though something old,
Prompt to his paces, cool and bold.
I heard the Sheriff Sholto.say, .
The Earl did much the Master * pray
To use him on the battle day;
But he preferred”—“ Nay, Henry, cease!
Thou sworn horse-courser, hold thy peace.-
Eustace, thou bear'st a brain- I pray,
What did Blount see at break of day?"..
XVII. “ In brief, my lord, we both descried , (For I then stood by Henry's side)
* His eldest son, the Master of Angus.