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To waft her back to Whitby fair.
Glad was the Abbess, you may guess,
And thanked the Scottish Prioress;
And tedious were to tell, I ween,
The courteous speech that passed between.
O'erjoyed the nuns their palfreys leave;
But when fair Clara did intend,
Like them from horseback to descend,
Fitz-Eustace said, “I grieve,
Fair lady, grieve e'en from my heart,
Such gentle company to part:-
Think not discourtesy,
But lords' commands must be obeyed;
And Marmion and the Douglas said,
That you must wend with me,
Lord Marmion hath a letter broad,
Which to the Scottish Earl he shewed,
Commanding that, beneath his care,
Without delay, you shall repair,
To your good kinsman, Lord Fitz-Clare.”—
The startled Abbess loud exclaimed ;
But she, at whom the blow was aimed,
Grew pale as death, and cold as lead,
She deemed she heard her death-doom read.
“ Cheer thee, my child !” the Abbess said,
“ They dare not tear thee from my hand,
To ride alone with armed band.”—
“Nay, holy mother, nay.”
Fitz-Eustace said ; "the lovely Clare
Will be in Lady Angus' care,
In Scotland while we stay ;
And, when we move, an easy ride
Will bring us to the English side,
Female attendance to provide
Befitting Gloster's heir ;
Nor thinks, nor dreams, my noble lord,
By slightest look, or act, or word,
To harass Lady Clare.
Her faithful guardian he will be,
Nor sue for slightest courtesy
That e'en to stranger falls,
Till he shall place her, safe and free.
Within her kinsman's halls.”_
He spoke, and blushed with earnest grace ;
His faith was painted on his face,
And Clare's worst fear relieved.
The Lddy Abbess loud exclaimed
On Henry, and the Douglas blamed,
Entreated, threatened, grieved;
To martyr, saint, and prophet prayed,
Against Lord Marmion inveighed,
And called the Prioress to aid,
To curse with candle, bell, and book.
Her head the grave Cistercian shook :
“ The Douglas and the King,” she said,
“In their commands will be obeyed;
Grieve not, nor dream that harm can fall
The maiden in Tantallon Hall."-
THE Abbess, seeing strife was vain,
Assumed her wonted state again,
For much of state she had,-
Composed her veil, and raised her head,
And—“Bid,” in solemn voice she said,
“Thy master, bold and bad,
The records of his house turn o'er,
And, when he shall there written see,
That one of his own ancestry
Drove the Monks forth of Coventry,
Bid him his fate explore !
Prancing in pride of earthly trust,
His charger hurled him to the dust,
And, by a base plebeian thrust, He died his band before.
God judge 'twixt Marmion and me;
He is a chief of high degree, And I a poor recluse;
Yet oft, in holy writ, we see
Even such weak minister as me
May the uppressor bruise :
For thus, inspired, did Judith slay
The mighty in his sin,
And Jael thus, and Deborah,"
Here hasty Blount broke in :
“ Fitz-Eustace, we must march our band;
Saint Anton' fire thee! wilt thou stand
All day, with bonnet in thy hand,
To hear the Lady preach ?
By this good light! if thus we stay,
Lord Marmion, for our fond delay,
Will sharper sermon teach.
Come, don thy cap, and mount thy horse ;
The Dame must patience take perforce.”—
“ SUBMIT we then to force,” said Clare;
“ But let this barbarous lord despair
His purposed aim to win:
Let him take living, land, and life;
But to be Marmion's wedded wife
In me were deadly sin :
And if it be the King's decree,
That I must find no sanctuary,
In that inviolable dome,
Where even a homicide might come,
And safely rest his head,
Though at its open portals stood,
Thirsting to pour forth blood for blood,
The kinsmen of the dead;
Yet one asylum is my own,
Against the dreaded hour;
A low, a silent, and a lone,
Where kings have little power.
One victim is before me there.
Mother, your blessing, and in prayer
Remember your unhappy Clare!"-
Loud weeps the Abbess, and bestows
Kind blessings many a one ;
Weeping and wailing loud arose
Round patient Clare, the clamorous woes
Of every simple nun.
His eyes the gentle Eustace dried,
And scarce rude Blount the sight could bide.
Then took the squire her rein,
And gently led away her steed,
30 And, by each courteous word and deed,
To cheer her strove in vain.
But scant three miles the band had rode, xxxii
When o'er a height they passed,
And sudden, close before them showed,
His towers, Tantallon vast;
Broad, massive, high, and stretching far,
And held impregnable in war.
On a projecting rock they rose,
And round three sides the ocean flows;
The fourth did battled walls inclose,
And double mound and fosse.
By narrow drawbridge, outworks strong,
Through studded gates, an entrance long,
To the main court they cross.
It was a wide and stately square :
Around were lodgings, fit and fair,
And towers of various form,
Which on the court projected far,
And broke its lines quadrangular.
Here was square keep, there turret high,
Or pinnacle that sought the sky,
Whence oft the Warder could descry
The gathering ocean-storm.
HERE did they rest. The princely care
Of Douglas, why should I declare,
Or say they met reception fair ?
Or why the tidings say,
Which, varying, to Tantallon came,
By hurrying posts, or fleeter fame,
With every varying day?
And, first, they heard King James had won
Etall, and Wark, and Ford ; and then,
That Norham Castle strong was ta’en.
At that sore marvelled Marmion ;-
And Douglas hoped his Monarch's hand
Would soon subdue Northumberland :
But whispered news there came,
That, while his host inactive lay,
And melted by degrees away,
King James was dallying off the day
With Heron's wily dame.-
Such acts to chronicles I yield;
Go seek them there, and see:
Mine is a tale of Flodden Field,
And not a history.-
At length they heard the Scottish host
On that high ridge had made their post,
Which frowns o'er Millfield Plain ;
And that brave Surrey many a band
Had gathered in the Southern land,
And marched into Northumberland,
And camp at Wooler ta’en. Marmion, like charger in the stall, That hears, without, the trumpet-call,
Began to chafe, and swear :