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“This shalt thou do without delay;
No longer here myself may stay:
Unless the swifter I speed away,
Short shrift will be at my dying day.”
VIII. Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode ; The goblin-page behind abode: His Lord's command he ne'er withstood, Though small his pleasure to do good. As the corslet off he took, The dwarf espied the mighty book' Much he marvelled a knight of pride, Like a book-bosomed priest, should ride: He thought not to search or stanch the wound, Until the secret he had found.
The iron band, the iron clasp,
Resisted long the elfin grasp ;
For when the first he had undone,
It closed as he the next begun.
Those iron clasps, that iron band,
Would not yield to unchristened hand,
Till he smeared the cover o'er
With the Borderer's curdled gore;
A moment then the volume spread,
And one short spell therein he read.
It had much of glamour” might,
Could make a ladye seem a knight;
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall,
Seem tapestry in lordly hall;
A nut-shell seem a gilded barge,
A sheeling f seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth—
All was delusion, nought was truth.
He had not read another spell,
When on his cheek a buffet fell,
* Magical delusion. f A shepherd's hut.
So fierce, it stretched him on the plain,
Beside the wounded Deloraine.
From the ground he rose dismayed,
And shook his huge and matted head;
One word he muttered, and no more—
“Man of age, thou smitest sore s”
No more the elfin page durst try
Into the wonderous book to pry;
The clasps, though smeared with Christian gore,
Shut faster than they were before.
He hid it underneath his cloak—
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive ;
It was not given by man alive.
Unwillingly himself he addressed,
To do his master's high behest :
He lifted up the living corse,
And laid it on the weary horse;
He led him into Branksome hall,
Before the beards of the warders all;
And each did after swear and say,
There only passed a load of hay.
He took him to Lord David's tower,
Even to the Ladye's secret bower;
And, but that stronger spells were spread,
And the door might not be opened,
He had laid him on her very bed.
Whate'er he did of gramarye *,
Was always done maliciously.
He flung the warrior on the ground,
And the blood welled freshly from the wound.
As he repassed the outer court,
He spied the fair young child at sport.
He thought to train him to the wood;
For, at a word, be it understood,
He was always for ill, and never for good.
Seemed to the boy some comrade gay;
Led him forth to the woods to play;
On the draw-bridge the warders stout
Saw a terrier and lurcher passing out.
He led the boy o'er bank and fell,
Until they came to a woodland brook; The running stream dissolved the spell,
And his own elvish shape he took. Could he have had his pleasure vilde, He had crippled the joints of the noble child; Or, with his fingers long and lean, Had strangled him, in fiendish spleen: But his awful mother he had in dread, And also his power was limited; So he but scowled on the startled child, And darted through the forest wild; The woodland brook he bounding crossed, And laughed and shouted, "Lost! lost! lost!"