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In gloomy opposition set,
Eyes, hands, and brandish'd weapons met ;
Blue gleaming o'er the social board,
Flash'd to the torches many a sword;
And soon those bridal lights may shine
On purple blood for rosy wine.

XVIII.
While thus for blows and death prepared,
Each heart was up, each weapon bared,
Each foot advanced,—a surly pause
Still reverenced hospitable laws.
All menaced violence, but alike
Reluctant each the first to strike,
(For aye accursed in minstrel line
Is he who brawls ’mid song and wine,)
And, match'd in numbers and in might,
Doubtful and desperate seem'd the fight.
Thus threat and murmur died away,
Till on the crowded hall there lay
Such silence, as the deadly still,
Ere bursts the thunder on the hill.
With blade advanced, each Chieftain bold
Show'd like the Sworder's form of old,
As wanting still the torch of life,
To wake the marble into strife.

XIX. That awful pause the stranger maid, And Edith, seized to pray for aid. As to De Argentine she clung, Away her veil the stranger flung, And, lovely 'mid her wild despair, Fast stream'd her eyes, wide flow'd her hair.

" ( thou, of knighthood once the flower,
Sure refuge in distressful hour
Thou, who in Judah well hast fought
For our dear faith, and oft hast sought
Renown in knightly exercise, .
When this poor hand has dealt the prize,
Say, can thy soul of honour brook
On the unequal strife to look,
When, butcher'd thus in peaceful hall,
Those once thy friends, my brethren, fall!"
To Argentine she turn'd her word,
But her eye sought the Island Lord.
A flush like evening's setting flame
Glow'd on his cheek; his hardy frame,
As with a brief convulsion, shook :
With hurried voice and eager look,
“ Fear not,” he said, “my Isabel !
What said I-Edith !-all is well —
Nay, fear not-I will well provide

The safety of my lovely bride-
My bride ?”— but there the accents clung
In tremor to his faltering tongue.

Fear nod IEdi will wel

XX.

Now rose De Argentine, to claim
The prisoners in his sovereign's name,
To England's crown, who, vassals sworn,
'Gainst their liege lord had weapon borne-
(Such speech, I ween, was but to hide
His care their safety to provide ;
For knight more true in thought and deed
Than Argentine ne'er spurr'd a steed)

And Ronald, who his meaning guess'd,
Seem'd half to sanction the request. -
This purpose fiery Torquil broke ;-
“Somewhat we've heard of England's yoke,”
He said, “and, in our islands, Fame
Hath whisper'd of a lawful claim,
That calls the Bruce fair Scotland's Lord,
Though dispossess'd by foreign sword.
This craves reflection — but though right
And just the charge of England's Knight,
Let England's crown her rebels seize
Where she has power;- in towers like these,
'Midst Scottish Chieftains summon'd here
To bridal mirth and bridal cheer,
Be sure, with no consent of mine,
Shall either Lorn or Argentine
With chains or violence, in our sight,
Oppress a brave and banish'd Knight.”

XXI.
Then waked the wild debate again,
With brawling threat and clamour vain.
Vassals and menials, thronging in,
Lent their brute rage to swell the din' ;
When, far and wide, a bugle-clang
From the dark ocean upward rang.

• The Abbot comes!” they cry at once,
“ The holy man, whose favour'd glance

Hath sainted visions known; Angels have met him on the way Beside the blessed martyrs' bay,

And by Columba's stone.

His monks have heard their hymnings high
Sound from the summit of Dun-Y,

To cheer his penance lone,
When at each cross, on girth and wold,
(Their number thrice a hundred-fold,)
His prayer he made, his beads he told,

With Aves many a one —
He comes our feuds to reconcile,
A sainted man from sainted isle ;
We will his holy doom abide,
The Abbot shall our strife decide.”

XXII.
Scarcely this fair accord was o'er,
When through the wide revolving door

The black-stoled brethren wind;
Twelve sandalld monks, who relics bore,
With many a torch-bearer before,

And many a cross behind.
Then sunk each fierce uplifted hand,
And dagger bright and flashing brand

Dropp'd swiftly at the sight;
They vanish'd from the Churchman's eye,
As shooting stars, that glance and die,

Dart from the vault of night.

XXIII.
The Abbot on the threshold stood,
And in his hand the holy rood;
Back on his shoulders flow'd his hood,

The torch's glaring ray
Show'd, in its red and flashing light,
His wither'd cheek and amice white,

His blue eye glistening cold and bright,

His tresses scant and grey. “ Fair Lords," he said, “Our Lady's love, And peace be with you from above,

And Benedicite!- But what means this? no peace is here!Do dirks unsheathed suit bridal cheer?

Or are these naked brands
A seemly show for Churchman's sight,
When he comes summond to unite
Betrothed hearts and hands ? "

XXIV.
Then, cloaking hate with fiery zeal,
Proud Lorn first answer'd the appeal;—

“ Thou comest, O holy Man,
True sons of blessed church to greet,
But little deeming here to meet

A wretch, beneath the ban
Of Pope and Church, for murder done
Even on the sacred altar-stone !-
Well mayst thou wonder we should know
Such miscreant here, nor lay him low,
Or dream of greeting, peace, or truce,
With excommunicated Bruce!
Yet well I grant, to end debate,
Thy sainted voice decide his fate.”

XXV.
Then Ronald pled the stranger's cause,
And knighthood's oath and honour's laws;
And Isabel, on bended knee,
Brought pray’rs and tears to back the plea:

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