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He was stately, and young, and tall,
you find the peerless fair With Margaret of Branksome might compare ?
He was waspish, arch, and litherlie,
But well Lord Cranstoun served he: And he of his service was full fain; For once he had been ta'en or slain,
An it had not been his ministry. All between Home and Hermitage Talk'd of Lord Cranstoun's goblin-page.
To paint his faithful passion strove;
But never, never, cease to love; And how she blush'd, and how she sigh'd, And, half consenting, half denied, And said that she would die a maid;— Yet, might the bloody feud be stay'd, Henry of Cranstoun, and only he, Margaret of Branksome's choice should be.
To Mary's chapel of the Lowes:
And he would pay his vows.
The trysting-place was Newark Lee.
They were three hundred spears and three.
XXX. Alas! fair dames, your hopes are vain! My harp has lost the enchanting strain;
Its htness would my age reprove : My hairs are gray, my limbs are old, My heart is dead, my veins are cold :
I may not, must not, sing of love.
XXXIV. And now, in Branksome's good green-wood, As under the aged oak he stood, The baron's courser pricks his ears, As if a distant noise he hears; The Dwarf waves his long lean arm on high, And signs to the lovers to part and fly; No time was then to vow or sigh. Fair Margaret, through the hazel grove, Flew like the startled cushat-dove: 1 The Dwarf the stirrup held, and rein; Vaulted the knight on his steed amain, And, pondering deep that morning's scene, Rode eastward through the hawthorns green.
And held his crested helm and spear :
Through all the Border, far and
«Lost! lost! lost! And, like tennis-ball by racquet toss'd,
A leap of thirty feet and three, Made from the gorse this elfin shape, Distorted like some dwarfish ape,
AŅd lighted at Lord Cranstoun's knee. Lord Cranstoun was some whit dismay'd; 'T is said that five good miles he rade,
To rid him of his company; But where he rode one mile, the Dwarf ran four, And the Dwarf was first at the castle door.
While thus he pour'd the lengthen'd tale, The Minstrel's voice began to fail : Full slyly smiled the observant page, And gave
the wither'd hand of age A goblet, crown'd with mighty wine, The blood of Velez' scorched vine. He raised the silver cup on high, And, while the big drop fill'd his eye, Pray'd God to bless the duchess long, And all who cheer'd a son of song. The attending maidens smiled to see llow long, how deep, how zealously, The precious juice the Minstrel quaffd; And he, embolden'd by the draught, Look'd gaily back to them, and laugh’d. The cordial nectar of the bowl Swell’d his old veins, and cheer'd his soul; A lighter, livelier prelude ran, Ere thus his tale again bcgan.
XXXII. Use lessens marvel, it is said: This elfish Dwarf with the baron staid; Little he ate, and less he spoke, Nor mingled with the menial flock: And oft apart his arms lie toss'd, And often mutter'd, « Lost! lost! lost!»
I. And said I that my limbs were old; And said I that my blood was cold; And that my kindly fire was fled, And my poor wither'd heart was dead,
And that I might not sing of love? How could I to the dearest theme That ever warm'd a minstrel's dream,
So foul, so false a recreant prove! Flow could I name Love's
very name, Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!
VI. Stern was the dint the Borderer lent; The stately baron backwards bent; Bent backwards to his horse's tail, And his plumes went scattering on the gale; The tough ash spear, so stout and true, Into a thousand flinders flew. But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail, Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail; Through shield, and jack, and acton past, Deep in his bosom broke at last. Still sate the warrior saddle-fast, Till, stumbling in the mortal shock, Down went the steed, the girthing broke, Hurl'd on a heap lay man and horse. The baron onward pass'd his course; Nor knew-so giddy rolld his brainHis foe lay stretch'd upon the plain.
JI. In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed; In war, he mounts the warrior's steed; In halls, in gay attire is seen; In hamlets, dances on the
green. Love rules the court, the camp, the
grove, And men below, and saints above; For love is heaven, and heaven is love.
III. So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween, While, pondering deep the tender scene, Ile rode through Branksome's hawthorn green.
But the page shouted wild and shrillAnd scarce his helmet could he don,
When downward from the shady hill
His armour red with many a stain :
For it was William of Deloraine.
VII. But when he rein'd his courser round, And saw his foeman on the ground
Lie senseless as the bloody clay, He bade liis page to staunch the wound,
And there beside the warrior stay, And tend him in his doubtful state, And lead him to Branksome castle-gate : His noble mind was inly moved For the kinsman of the maid he loved. « This shalt thou do without delay; No longer here myself may stay : Unless the swifter I speed away, Short slırift will be at my dying day.»
VIII. Away in speed Lord Crapstoun rode; The goblin-page behind abode; His lord's command be ne'er withstood, Though small his pleasure to do good. As the corslet off he took, The Dwarf espied the mighty book ! Much be marvell’d, a knight of pride Like a book-bosom'd priest should ride : (2) He thought not to search or staunch the wound, Until the secret he had found.
A sheeling2 seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youthAll was delusion, nought was truth.
The woodland brook he bounding cross'd, And laugh'd, and shouted « Lost! lost! lost!»
the stroke, I cannot tell, so mot I thrive; It was not given by man alive. (4)
XIV. Full sore amazed at the wond'rous change,
And frighten'd, as a child might be, At the wild yell and visage strange,
And the dark words of gramarye, The child, amidst the forest bower, Stood rooted like a lily flower, And when at length, with trembling pace,
He sought to find where Branksome lay, Hle fear'd to see that grisly face
Glare from some thicket on his way.
XI. Unwillingly himself he address'd To do his master's high behest : He lifted
the living corse, And laid it on the weary horse; He led him into Branksome-ball, Before the beards of the warders all; And each did after swear and say, There only pass'd a wain 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 well’d freshly from the wound.
And hark! and hark! the deep-mouth'd bark
Comes nigher still, and nigher;
And his red eye shot fire.
But still in act to spring;
XII. As he repass'd 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. Seem'd 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.
Until they came to a woodland brook;
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 scowl'd on the startled child, And darted through the forest wild;
And quell’d the ban-dog's ire:
And born in Lancashire. Well could he hit a fallow-deer
Five hundred feet him fro; With hand more true, and eye more clear,
No archer bended bow.
Set off his sunburnt face;
XVII. His kirtle, made of forest green,
Reach'd scantly to his knee;
And, at his belt, of arrows keen
A furbish'd sheaf bore he:
No larger fence had he;
Would strike below the knee; (6) His slacken'd bow was in his hand, And the leash, that was his blood-hound's band.
On the stone threshold stretch'd along; She thought some spirit of the sky
Had done the bold moss-trooper wrong; Because, despite her precept dread, Perchance he in the book had read; But the broken lance in his bosom stood, And it was earthly steel and wood.
XVIII. He would not do the fair child harm, But held him with his powerful arm, That he might neither fight nor flee; For when the red cross spied he, The boy strove long and violently. « Now, by St George,» the archer cries, « Edward, methinks we have a prize! This boy's fair face, and courage free, Show he is come of high degree.»
XIX. « Yes! I am come of high degree,
For I am the heir of bold Buccleuch; And if thou dost not set me free,
False southron, thou shalt dearly rue!
Scott from Esk to Tweed;
And with a charm she staunchi'd the blood; (6) She bade the gash be cleansed and bound:
No longer by his couch she stood; But she has ta'en the broken lance,
And wash'd it from the clotted gore,
And salved the splinter o'er and o’er. (8)
Then to her maidens she did say,
Within the course of a night and day.
Our wardens had need to keep good order : My bow of yew to a hazel wand,
Thou ’lt make them work upon the Border. Meantime, be pleased to come with me, For good Lord Dacre shalt thou see: I think our work is well begun, When we have taken thy father's son.»—
XXIV. So pass'd the day-the evening fell. 'T was near the time of curfew bell; The air was mild, the wind was calm, The stream was smooth, the dew was balm; E'en the rude watchman, on the tower, Enjoy'd and bless’d the lovely hour; Far more fair Margaret loved and bless'd The hour of silence and of rest. On the high turret sitting lone, She waked at times the lute's soft tone; Touch'd a wild note, and, all between, Thought of the bower of hawthorns green. Her golden hair stream'd free from band, Her fair cheek rested on her hand, Her blue eyes sought the west afar, For lovers love the western star.
Buccleuch He pinch'd, and beat, and overthrew; Nay, some of them he well nigh slew. He tore Dame Maudlin's silken tire, And, as Sym Hall stood by the fire, He lighted the match of his handelier, And woefully scorch'd the hackbutteer. 2 It may be hardly thought or said, The mischief that the urchin made, Till many of the castle guess'd That the
young baron was possess'd !
XXV. Is yon the star, o'er Penchryst Pen, That rises slowly to her ken, And, spreading broad its wavering light, Shakes its loose tresses on the night? Is yon red glare the western star?0, 't is the beacon-blaze of war! Scarce could she draw her tighten'd breath, For well she knew the fire of death!
XXYI. The warder view'd it blazing strong, And blew his war-note loud and long, Till, at the high and haughty sound, Rock, wood, and river, rang around. The blast alarm'd the festal ball, And startled forth the warriors all;
1 Bandelier, belt for carrying ammunition. 2 Hackbutteer, musketeer.
And Lothian heard the regent's order,
Far downward, in the castle-yard,
The ceaseless sound of steel;
Sent forth the larum peal;
XXVII. The seneschal, whose silver hair Was redden'd by the torches' glare, Stood in the midst, with gesture proud, And issued forth his mandates loud. « On Penchryst glows a bale' of fire, And three are kindling on Priesthaugh-swire ; (9)
Ride out, ride out,
The foe to scout!
That ever are true and stout.-
The ready horsemen sprang ;
And out! and out!
In hasty route,
And east, and west, and north,
XXXI. The noble dame, amid the broil, Shared the gray seneschal's high toil, And spoke of danger with a smile; Cheer'd the young knights, and council sage Held with the chiefs of riper age. No tidings of the foe were brought, Nor of their numbers knew they aught, Nor in what time the truce he sought.
Some said, that there were thousands ten, And others ween'd that it was nought
But Leven Clans, or Tynedale men,
Might drive them lightly back agen.
Ceased the high sound-the listening throng
Ay, once he had—but he was dead !---
XXIX. The ready page, with hurried hand, Awaked the need-fire's3 slumbering brand,
And ruddy blush'd the heaven; For a sheet of flame, from the turret high, Waved like a blood-flag on the sky,
All flaring and uneven. And soon a score of fires, I ween, From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen; Each with warlike tidings fraught; Each from each the signal caught; Each after each they glanced to sight, As stars arise upon the night. They gleam'd on many a dusky tarn, 4 Haunted by the lonely earn;5 On many a cairn's gray pyramid, Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid; (11) Till high Dunedin the blazes saw, From Soltra and Dumpender Law;
Bale, beacon-fagot. ? Mount for Branksome was the gathering word of the Scotts. 3 Need-fire, beacon. 4 Tarn, a mountain lake. 5 Earn, a Scottish eagle. 6 Cairn, a pile of stones.
The glaring bale-fires blaze no more;
Along thy wild and willow'd shore; Where'er thou wind’st, by dale or hill, All, all is peaceful, all is still, Bowne, make ready. ? Protection-money exacted by freebooters.