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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' had it not been his ministry. All, between home and and hermitage, Talk'd of Lord Cranstoun's goblin page.
For the baron went on pilgrimage,
And took with him this elfish page,
To Mary's chapel of the Lowes ;
For there, beside our lady's lake,
An offering he had sworn to make,
And he would pay his vows.
But the ladye of Branksome gather'd a band
Of the best that would ride at her command;
The trysting place was Newark Lee.
Wat of Harden came thither amain,
And thither came John of Thirlestane,
And thither came William of Deloraine ;
They were three hundred spears and three.
Through Douglas-burn, up Yarrow stream,
Their horses prance, their lances gleam,
They came to Saint Mary's lake ere day;
But the chapel was void, and the baron away.
They burn'd the chapel for very rage,
And cursed Lord Cranstoun's goblin page.
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 !
How could I name love's very name,
Nor wake my harp to notes of fame!
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.
So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween,
While pondering deep the tender scene,
He rode through Branksome's hawthorn green.
But the page shouted wild and shrill,-
And scarce his hemlet could be don, When downward from the shady hill
A stately knight came pricking on.
That warrior's steed, so dapple-gray,
Was dark with sweat, and splash'd with clay:
His armour red with many a stain :
He scem'd in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the livelong night;
For it was William of Deloraine.
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 fy; No time was then to vow or sigh. Fair Margaret, through the hazel grove, Flew like the startled cushat dove ;* 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.
WHILE thus he pour’d the lengthen'd tale,
The minstrel's voice began to fail;
Full slyly smiled the observient 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 dutchess long,
And all who cheer'd a son of song.
The attending maidens smiled to see,
How long, how deep, how zealously,
The precious juice the minstrel quaff’d;
And he, embolden'd by the draught,
Look'd gayly 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 began.
But no whit weary did he seem,
When, dancing in the sunny beam,
He mark'd the crane on the baron's crest;
For his ready spear was in his rest.
Few were the words, and stern, and high,
That mark'd the foeman's feudal hate ;
For question fierce, and proud reply,
Gave signal soon of dire debate.
Their very coursers seem'd to know,
That each was other's mortal foe;
And snorted fire, when wheeld around,
To give each knight his vantage ground.
In rapid round the baron bent;
He sigh'd a sigh, and pray'd a prayer:
The prayer was to his patron saint,
The sigh was to his ladye fair.
Stout Deloraine por sigh'd, nor pray'd,
Nor saint nor ladye call'd to aid;
But he stoop'd his head, and couch'd his spear,
And spurr'd his steed to full career.
The meeting of these champions proud
Seem'd like the bursting thunder cloud.
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 finders 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,
Hurld on a heap lay man and horse.
The baron onward pass'd his course ;
Nor knew, so giddy roll'd his brain,
His foe lay stretch'd upon the plain.
But when he rein'd his courser round,
And saw his foeman on the ground
Lie senseless as the bloody clay,
He bade his 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 kidsman of the maid he loved.
* 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."
Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode ;
The goblin page behind abode :
His lord's commands 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 marvellid, a knight of pride,
Like a book-bosom’d 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 unchristen'd hand,
Till he smear'd 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 nutshell seem a gilded barge,
4 sheeling* seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth ;
All was delusion, naught was truth.
He had not read another spell,
When on his cheek a buffet fell,
So fierce, it stretch'd him on the plain,
Beside the wounded Deloraine.
From the ground he rose dismay'd,
And shook his huge and matted head;
One word he mutter'd, and no more-
“ Man of age, thou smitest sore!"-
No more the elfin page durst try
Into the wondrous book to pry;
The clasps, though smear'd 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 address’d,
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 pass'd a wain of hay.
He took him to Lord David's tower,
E’en to the ladye's secret bower:
And, but that stronger spells were spread,
And the door might not be opened,
He laid him on her very bed.
Whate'er he did of gramarye,*
Was always done maliciously ;
He fung the warrior on the ground,
And the blood well’d freshly from the wound.
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 drawbridge 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 finger 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;
The woodland brook he bounding cross'a,
And laughd, and shouted, “ Lost ! lost! lost!
Full sore amazed at the wondrous 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, He fear'd to see that grisly face
Glare from some thicket on his way.
Thus, starting oft, he journey'd on,
And deeper in the wood is gone,-
For aye the more he sought his way,
The farther still he went astray,
Until he heard the mountains round
Ring to the baying of a hound.
XV. And hark ! and hark! the deep-mouth'd bark
Comes nigher still, and nigher;
Bursts on the path a dark bloodhound,
His tawny muzzle track'd the ground,
And his red eye shot fire.
Soon as the wilder'd child saw he,
He flew at him right furiouslie.
I ween, you would have seen with joy
The bearing of the gallant boy,
When, worthy of bis noble sire,
His wet cheek glow'd 'twixt fear and ire!
He faced the bloodhound manfully,
And held his little bat on high ;
So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,
At cautious distance hoarsely bay'd,
But still in act to spring;
When dash'd an archer through the glade,
And when he saw the hound was stay'd,
He drew his tough bowstring :
But a rough voice cried, “Shoot not, hoy!
Ho! sboot not, Edward—'tis a boy!"
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 Saint George,” the archer cries,
“Edward, methinks we have a prize!
This boy's fair face, and courage free,
Show he is come of high decree.”
“ Yes, I am come of high decree,
For I am the heir of bold Buccleuch; And, if thou dost not set me free,
False southron thou shalt dearly rue !
For Walter of Harden shall come with speed,
And William of Deloraine, good at need,
And every Scott from Esk to tweed;
And, if thou dost not let me go,
Despite thy arrows and thy bow,
I'll have thee hang'd to feed the crow !"
“Gramercy, for thy good will, fair boy!
My mind was never set so high ;
But if thou art chief of such a clan,
And art the son of such a man,
And ever comest to thy command,
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."
The speaker issued from the wood,
And check'd his fellow's surly mood,
And quell’d the ban-dog's ire ;
He was an English yeoman good,
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.
His coal-black hair, shorn round and close,
Set off his sunburn'd face; Old England's sign, Saint George's cross, His barret-cap did grace ; His bugle-horn hung by his side, All in a wolf-skin baldric tied: And his short falchion, sharp and clear, Had pierced the throat of many a deer.
XXI. Although the child was led away, In Branksome still he seem'd to stay, For so the dwarf his part did play ; And, in the shape of that young boy, He wrought the castle much annoy. The comrades of the young 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 bandelier, * And wofully scorch'd the backbutteer ;t 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 possessid !
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:
His buckler scarce in breadth a span,
No larger fence had he:
He never counted him a man
Would strike below the knee;
His slacken'd bow was in his hand,
Adid the leash, that was his bloodhound's band.
Well, I ween, the charm he held
The noble ladye had soon dispellid:
But she was deeply busied then
To tend the wounded Deloraine.
Much she wonder'd to find him lie,
On the stone threshold stretch'd along; She thought some spirit of the sky
Had done the bold mosstrooper wrong:
* Bandelier, belt for carrying ammunition.
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.
Sbe drew the splinter from the wound,
And with a charm she stanch'd the blood : 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.
William of Deloraine, in trance,
Whene'er she turn'd it round and round,
Twisted, as if she gall’d his wound.
Then to her maidens she did say,
That he should be whole man and sound,
Within the course of a night and day. Full long she toil'd; for she did rue Mishap to friend so stout and true.
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 Priesthaughswire ;
Ride out, ride eut,
The foe to scout,
Mount, mount, for Branksome,* every man!
Thou, Todrig, warn the Johnstone clan,
That ever are true and stout.
Ye need not send to Liddesdale;
For, when they see the blazing bale,
Elliots and Armstrongs never fail.-
Ride, Alton, ride, for death and life!
And warn the warden of the strife.
Young Gilbert, let our beacon blaze.
Our kin, and clan, and friends to raise.”
XXIV. So pass'd the day-the evening fell, Twas 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; Par 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.
Fair Margaret, from the turret head,
Heard far below, the coursers' tread.
While loud the harness rang,
As to their seats, with clamour dread,
The ready borsemen sprang;
And trampling hoofs, and iron coats,
And leaders' voices, mingled notes,
And out! and out!
In hasty route,
The horsemen gallop'd forth;
Dispersing to the south to scout,
And east, and west, and north,
To view their coming enemies,
And warn their vassals and allies.
XXIX. The ready page, with hurried hand Awaked the need-fire'st 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, Haunted by the lonely earn ; S On many a cairn's gray pyramid, Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid Till high Dunedin the blazes saw, From Soltra and Dumpender law; And Lothian heard the regent's order, That all should bownel them for the Border.
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 20, 'tis the beacon blaze of war! Scarce could she draw her tighten'd breath, For well she knew the fire of death!
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 rung around.
The blast alarm'd the festal hall,
And startled forth the warriors all;
Fa downward, in the castle-yard,
Fuil many a torch and cresset glared ;
And helms and plumes, confusedly toss'd,
Were in the blaze half seen, half lost;
And spears in wild disorder shook,
Like reeds beside a frozen brook.
The seneschal, whose silver hair
Was redden'd by the torches' glare,
XXX. The livelong night in Branksome rang
The ceaseless sound of steel :
The castle-bell, with backward clang,
Sent forth the larum peel ;
Was frequent heard the heavy jar,
Where massy stone and iron bar
* Mount for Branksome was the gathering word of the Scolis.
† Need-fire, beacon. # Tarn, a mountain lake. § Earn, the Scottish eagle 1 Borne, make ready
Were piled on echoing keep and tower, To whelm the foe with deadly shower ; Was frequent heard the changing guard, And watchword from the sleepless ward; While, wearied by the endless din, Bloodhound and ban-dog yell’d within.
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 his 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 naught,
But Leven clans, or Tynedale men,
Who came to gather in black mail,*
And Liddesdale, with small avail,
Might drive them lightly back agen.
So pass’d the anxious night away,
And welcome was the peep of day.
CEASED the high sound—the listening throng
Applaud the master of the song ;
And marvel much, in helpless age,
So hard should be his pilgrimage.
Had he no friend, no daughter dear,
Hia wandering toil to share and cheer;
No son, to be his father's stay,
And guide him on the rugged way?
“Ay, once he had—but he was dead !”—
Upon the harp he stoop'd his head,
And busied himself the strings withal,
To hide the tear that fain would fall.
In solemn measure, soft and slow,
Arose a father's notes of wo.
Why! when the volleying musket play'd
Against the bloody Highland blade,
Why was I not beside him laid ?-
Enough—he died the death of fame;
Enough—he died with conquering Græme!
Now over border, dale, and fell,
Full wide and far was terror spread;
For pathless march and mountain cell,
The peasant left his lowly shed.
The frighten'd flocks and herds were pent
Beneath, the peel's rude battlement;
And maids and matrons dropt the tear,
While ready warriors seized the spear.
From Branksome's towers the watchman's eye
Dun wreaths of distant smoke can spy,
Which, curling in the rising sun,
Show'd southern ravage was begun.
Now loud the heedful gateward cried-
“ Prepare ye all for blows and blood ! Wat Tinlinn, from the Liddel-side,
Comes wading through the flood.
Full oft the Tynedale snatchers knock
At his lone gate, and prove the lock;
It was but last Saint Barnabright
They sieged him a whole summer night,
But fled at morning; well they knew,
In vain he never twang'd the yew.
Right sharp has been the evening shower,
That drove him from his Liddel tower;
And, by my faith,” the gateward said,
“I think ’twill prove a warden-raid."*
While thus he spoke, the bold yeoman
Enter'd the echoing barbican.
He led a small and shaggy nag,
That through a bog, from hag to hagt
Could bound like any Bilhope stag,
It bore his wife and children twain.
A half-clothed serft was all their train :
His wife, stout, ruddy, and dark-brow'd,
Of silver brooch and bracelet proud,
Laugh'd to her friends among the crowd.
He was of stature passing tall,
But sparely form’d, and lean withal;
A batter'd morion on his brow;
A leathern jack, as fence enow,
On his broad shoulders loosely hung;
A border axe behind was slung;
His spear, six Scottish ells in length,
Seem'd newly died with gore ;
His shafts and bow, of wondrous strength,
His hardy partner bore.
Thus to the ladye did Tinlinn show
The tidings of the English foe.-
“ Belted Will Howard is marching here,
And hot lord Dacre, with many a spear,
And all the German hagbut-men,
Who long have lain at Askerten :
SWEET Teviot! on thy silver tide
The glaring bale-fires blaze no more;
No longer steel-clad warriors ride
Along thy wild and willow'd shore: Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill, All, all is peaceful, all is still,
As if thy waves, since time was born, Since first they roll’d their way to Tweed, Had only heard the shepherd's reed, Nor started at the bugle-horn.
II. Unlike the tide of human time,
Which, though it change in ceaseless flow, Retains each grief, retains each crime,
Its earliest course was doom'd to know
And, darker as it downward bears,
Is stain'd with past and present tears.
Low as that tide has ebb'd with me,
It still reflects to memory's eye
The hour my brave, my only boy,
• Fell by the side of great Dundee.
• Protection money exacted by freebooters.
* An inroad comanded by the warden in person. + The broken ground in a bog. # Bondens