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Ronald keeps ward till midnight pasty
Then wakes the King, young Allan last;
Thus rank’d, to give the youthful Page
The rest required by tender age. :--:
-What is Lord Ronald's wakeful thought,
To chase the languor toil had brought ?
(For deem not that he deign'd to throw
Much care upon such coward foe,)
He thinks of lovely Isabel, 1:..
When at her foeman's feet she fell,
Nor less when, placed in princely selle,
She glanced on him with favouring eyes,
At Woodstocke when he won the prize.
Nor, fair in joy, in sorrow fair,
In pride of place as ʼmid despair,
Must she alone engross his care.
His thoughts to his betrothed bride,
To Edith, turn-O how decide,
When here his love and heart are given,
And there his faith stands plight to Heaven!
No drowsy ward 'tis his to keep,
For seldom lovers long for sleep.
Till sung his midnight hymn the owl,
Answer'd the dog-fox with his howl,
Then waked the King—at his request,
Lord Ronald stretch'd himself to rest.
XXVII. What spell was good King Robert's, say, To drive the weary night away? His was the patriot's burning thought, Of Freedom's battle bravely fought, Of castles storm'd, of cities freed, Of deep design and daring deed, Of England's roses reft and torn, And Scotland's cross in triumph worn, Of rout and rally, war and truce As heroes think, so thought the Bruce. No marvel, ʼmid such musings high, Sleep shunn'd the monarch's thoughtful eye.
Now over Coolin's eastern head
The greyish light begins to spread,
The otter to his cavern drew,
And clamour'd shrill the wakening mew;
Then watch'd the Page—to needful rest The King resign’d his anxious breast.
To Allan's eyes was harder task,
The weary watch their safeties ask.
He trimm'd the fire, and gave to shine
With bickering light the splinter'd pine ;
Then gazed awhile, where silent laid
Their hosts were shrouded by the plaid.
But little fear waked in his mind,
For he was bred of martial kind,
And, if to manhood he arrive,
May match the boldest knight alive.
Then thought he of his mother's tower,
His little sisters' green-wood bower,
How there the Easter-gambols pass,
And of Dan Joseph's lengthen'd mass.
But still before his weary eye
In rays prolong'd the blazes die-
Again he roused him on the lake
Look'd forth, where now the twilight-flake
Of pale cold dawn began to wake.
On Coolin's cliffs the mist lay furld,
The morning breeze the lake had curl'd,
The short dark waves, heaved to the land,
With ceaseless plash kiss'd cliff or sand :-?
It was a slumb'rous sound-he turn'd
To tales at which his youth had burn'd,
Of pilgrim's path by demon crossid,
Of sprightly elf or yelling ghost,
Of the wild witch's baneful cot,
And mermaid's alabaster grot,
Who bathes her limbs in sunless well
Deep in Strathaird's enchanted cell.
Thither in fancy rapt he flies,
And on his sight the vaults arise ;
That hut's dark walls he sees no more,
His foot is on the marble floor,
And o'er his head the dazzling spars
Gleam like a firmament of stars!
-Hark! hears he not the sea-nymph speak
Her anger in that thrilling shriek ?-
No! all too late, with Allan's dream
Mingled the captive's warning scream.
As from the ground he strives to start,
A ruffian's dagger finds his heart!
Upward he casts his dizzy eyes, ...
Murmurs his master's name, ...and dies !
Not so awoke the King ! his hand
Snatch'd from the flame a knotted brand,
The nearest weapon of his wrath ;
With this he cross’d the murderer's path,
And venged young Allan well!