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I'll place thee in a lovely bower,
Ellen, thy hand--the ring is thine;
XX. All in the Trosach's glen was still, Noontide was sleeping on the hill: Sudden his guide whoop'd loud and high“ Murdoch! was that a signal cry?” He stammer'd forth," I shout to scare Yon raven from his dainty fare." He look'd-he knew the raven's prey, His own brave steed:- Ah! gallant gray! For thee-for me, perchance-twere well We ne'er had left the Trosach's dell. Murdoch, move first-but silently; Whistle or whoop, and thou shalt die." Jealous and sullen on they fared, Each silent, each upon his guard.
XVIII. Fitz-James knew every wily train A lady's fickle heart to gain, But here he knew and felt them vain, There shot no glance from Ellen's eye, To give her steadfast speech the lie ; In maiden confidence she stood, Though mantled in her cheek the blood, And told her love with such a sigh Of deep and hopeless agony, As death had seal'd her Malcolm's doom, And she sat sorrowing on his tomb. Hope vanish'd from Fitz-James's eye, But not with hope fled sympathy. He proffer'd to attend her side, As brother would a sister guide."0! little know'st thou Roderick's heart! Safer for both we go apart. O haste thee, and from Allan learn, If thou may'st trust yon wily kern."With hand upon his forehead laid, The conflict of his mind to shade, A parting step or two he made ; 'Then, as some thought had cross'd his brain He paused, and turn'd, and came again.
XXI. Now wound the path its dizzy ledge Around a precipice's edge. When lo! a wasted female form, Blighted by wrath of sun and storm, In tatter'd weeds and wild array, Stood on a cliff beside the way, And glancing round her restless eye, Upon the wood, the rock, the sky, Seem'd naught to mark, yet all to spy. Her brow was wreath'd with gaudy broom ; With gesture wild she waved a plume Of feathers, which the eagles fling To crag and cliff from dusky wing; Such spoils her desperate step had sought, Where scarce was footing for the goat. The tartan plaid she first descried, And shriek'd till all the rocks replied ; As loud she laugh'd when near they drew, For then the lowland garb she knew; And then her hands she wildly wrung, And then she wept, and then she sung.She sung :-the voice, in better time, Perchance to harp or lute might chime; And now, though strain'd and roughen'd, stil. Rung wildly sweet to dale and hill.
XIX. Hear, lady, yet, a parting word !It chanced in fight that my poor sword Preserved the life of Scotland's lord. This ring the grateful monarch gave, And bade, when I had boon to crave, To bring it back, and boldly claim The recompense that I would name. Ellen, I am no courtly lord, But one who lives by lance and sword, Whose castle is his helm and shield, His lordship the embattled field. What from a prince can I demand, Who neither reck of state nor land?
“ They bid me sleep, they bid me pray,
They say my brain is warp'd and wrungI cannot sleep on highland brae,
I cannot pray in higbland tongue. But were I now where Allan glides, Or heard my native Devan's tides,
3 N 2
The bows they bend, and the knives they whet
Hunters live so cheerily. “ It was a stag, a stag of ten,*
Bearing his branches sturdily; He came stately down the glen,
Ever sing hardily, hardily. “ It was there he met with a wounded doe,
She was bleeding deathfully; She warn'd him of the toils below,
0, so faithfully, faithfully!
Ever sing warily, warily;
Hunters watch so narrowly.”
So sweetly would I rest, and pray
They bade me to the church repair ;
And my truelove would meet me there.
Thanks, champion, thanks !" the maniac cried, And press'd her to Fitz-James's side. “ See the gray pennons I prepare, To seek my truelove through the air! I will not lend that savage groom, To break his fall, one downy plume ! No!-deep among disjointed stones The wolves shall batten on his bones, And then shall his detested plaid, By bush and brier in mid air stay'd, Wave forth a banner fair and free, Meet signal for their revelry."
XXVI. Fitz-James's mind was passion-toss'd When Ellen's hints and fears were lost; But Murdoch's shout suspicion wrought, And Blanche's song conviction brought.Not like a stag that spies the snare, But lion of the hunt aware, He waved at once his blade on high, “ Disclose thy treachery, or die !"Forth at full speed the clansman iew, But in his race his bow he drew: The shaft just grazed Fitz-James's crest, And thrill'd in Blanche's faded breast. Murdoch of Alpine, prove thy speed, For ne'er had Alpine's son such need! With heart of fire and foot of wind, The fierce avenger is bebind ! Fate judges of the rapid strifeThe forfeit death-the prize is life! Thy kindred ambush lies before, Close couch'd upon the heathery moor; Them couldst thou reach it may not be Thine ambush'd kin thou ne'er shalt see, The fiery Saxon gains on thee ! -Resistless speeds the deadly thrust, As lightning strikes the pine to dust; With foot and hand Fitz-James must strain, Ere he can win his blade again. Bent o'er the fallen, with falcon eye, He grimly smiled to see him die ; Then slower wended back his way, Where the poor maiden bleeding lay.
XXIV. “Hush thee, poor maiden, and be still !" “O! thou look'st kindly, and I will. Mine eye has dried and wasted been, But still it loves the Lincoln green; And though mine ear is all unstrung, Still, still it loves the lowland tongue. “For O, my sweet William was forester true,
He stole poor Blanche's heart away! His coat it was all of the greenwood hue,
And so blithely he trill'd the lowland lay! " It was not that I meant to tell But thou art wise, and guessest well.” Then, in a low and broken tone, And hurried note, the song went on. Still on the clansman, fearfully, She fix'd her apprehensive eye ; Then turn'd it on the knight, and then Her look glanced wildly o'er the glen.
XXVII. She sate beneath the birchen tree, Her elbow resting on her knee ; She had withdrawn the fatal shaft, And gazed on it and feebly laughed ; Her wreath of broom and feathers gray, Daggled with blood, beside her lay. The knight to stanch the life-stream tried :“ Stranger, it is in vain !" she cried, “ This hour of death has given me more Of reason's power than years before ; For, as these ebbing veins decay, My frenzied visions fade away.
XXV “ The toils are pitch'd, and the stakes are set,
Ever sing merrily, merrily;
* Having len branches on his antlers.
A helpless injured wretch I die,
XXIX. The shades of eve come slowly down, The woods are wrapp'd in deeper brown, The owl awakens from her dell, The fox is heard upon the fell ; Enough remains of glimmering light, To guide the wanderer's steps aright, Yet not enough from far to show His figure to the watchful foe. With cautious step and ear awake, He climbs the crag, and threads the brake; And not the summer solstice there, Temper'd the midnight mountain air, But every breeze that swept the wold, Benumb'd his drenched limbs with cold. In dread, in danger, and alone, Famish'd and chill'd, through ways unknown, Tangled and steep, he journey'd on ; Till, as a rock's huge point be turn'd, A watch-fire close beside him burn'd.
XXX. Beside its embers red and clear, Bask'd in his plaid, a mnountaineer; And up he sprung with sword in hand“ Thy name and purpose ! Saxon, stand!” “A stranger.”—“What dost thou require ?” “ Rest and a guide, and food and fire. My life's beset, my path is lost, The gale has chillid my limbs with frost.” “ Art thou a friend to Roderick ?"_" No.”— “ Thou dar’st not call thyself a foe?” “ I dare ! to him and all the band He brings to aid his murderous hand.” “Bold words !-but, though the beast of game The privilege of chase may claim, Though space and law the stag we lend, Ere hound we slip, or bow we bend, Who ever reck'd where, how, or when, The prowling fox was trapp'd and slain ? Thus treacherous scouts ;-yet sure they lie, Who say thou cam'st a secret spy ! “ They do, by heaven -Come Roderick Dhu, And of his clan the boldest two, And let me but till morning rest, I write the falsehood on their crest.”— “ If by the blaze I mark aright, Thou bear’st the belt and spur of knight." “ Then by these tokens may’st thou know Each proud oppressor's mortal foe.” “ Enough, enough; sit down and share A soldier's couch, a soldier's fare.”
XXVIII. A kindly heart had brave Fitz-James ; Fast pour'd his eye at pity's claims, And now, with mingled grief and ire, He saw the murder'd maid expire. “God, in my need, be my relief, As I wreak this on yonder chief !” A lock from Blanche's tresses fair He blended with her bridegroom's hair ; The mingled braid in blood he died, And placed it on his bonnet side ; “ By him whose word is truth ! I swear No other favour will I wear, Till this sad token I imbrue In the best blood of Roderick Dhu! -But hark! what means yon faint halloo ? The chase is up-but they shall know, The stag at bay's a dangerous foe.” Barr'd from the known but guarded way, Through copse and cliffs Fitz-James must stray, And oft must change his desperate track, By stream and precipice turn'd back. Heartless, fatigued, and faint, at length, From lack of food and loss of strength, He couch'd him in a thicket hoar, And thought his toils and perils o'er : “Of all my rash adventures past, This frantic feat must prove the last ! Who e'er so mad but might have guess'd, That all this highland hornet's nest Would muster up in swarms so soon As e'er they heard of bands at Doune? Like bloodhounds now they search me out.Hark to the whistle and the shout! If farther through the wilds I go, I only fall upon the foe; I'll couch me here till evening gray, Then darkling try my dangerous way."
XXXI. He gave him of his highland cheer, The harden'd flesh of mountain deer; Dry fuel on the fire he laid, And bade the Saxon share his plaid. He tended him like welcome guest, Then thus his further speech address'd. “ Stranger, I am to Roderick Dhu A clansman born, a kinsman true; Each word against his honour spoke Demands of me avenging stroke;
Then, sunk in copse, their farthest glance
Yet more-upon thy fate, 'tis said,
I take thy courtesy, by heaven,
III. At length they came where, stern and steep The hill sinks down upon the deep. Here Venpachar in silver flows, There, ridge on ridge, Benledi rose; Ever the hollow path twined on, Beneath steep bank and threatening stone; An hundred men might hold the post With bardihood against a host. The rugged mountain's scanty cloak Was dwarfish shrubs of birch and oak, With shingles bare, and cliffs between, And patches bright of bracken green, And heather black, that waved so high, It held the copse in rivalry. But where the lake slept deep and still, Dank osiers fringed the swamp and hill; And oft both path and hill were torn, Where wintry torrents down had borne, And heap'd upon the cumber'd land Its wreck of gravel, rocks, and sand. So toilsome was the road to trace, The guide, abating of his pace, Led slowly through the pass's jaws, And ask'd Fitz-James, by what strange cause He sought these wilds, travers’d by few, Without a pass from Roderick Dhu.
When first by the bewilderd pilgrim spied,
And silvers o'er the torrent's foaming tide, And lights the fearful path on mountain side ;
Fair as that beam, although the fairest far, Giving to horror grace, to danger pride,
Shine martial faith, and courtesy's bright star, Through all the wreckful storms that cloud the brow of war.
IV. “ Brave Gael, my pass, in danger tried, Hangs in my belt, and by my side ; Yet, sooth to tell,” the Saxon said, “I dream'd not now to claim its aid. When here, but three days since, I came, Bewilderd in pursuit of game, All seem'd as peaceful and as still, As the mist slumbering on yon bill ; Thy dangerous chief was then afar, Nor soon expected back from war. Thus said, at least, my mountain guide, Though deep, perchance, the villain lied.” “ Yet why a second venture try?”— “A warrior thou, and ask me why! Moves our free course by such fix'd cause, As gives the poor mechanic laws ? Enough, I sought to drive away The lazy hours of peaceful day; Slight cause will then suffice to guide A knight's free footsteps far and wide,A falcon flown, a grayhound stray'd, The merry glance of mountain maid ; Or, if a path be dangerous known, The danger's self is lure alone.”—
* The Scottish highlander calls himself Gael, or Gaul, and terms the lowlanders Sassenach, or Saxons.
V. Thy secret keep, I urge thee not;Yet, ere again ye sought this spot,
Say, heard ye naught of lowland war
No, by my word; of bands prepared
Ask we for flocks these shingles dry,
VI. Wrothful at such arraignment foul, Dark lour'd the clansman's sable scowl. A space he paused, then sternly said, * And heard'st thou why he drew his blade ? Heard'st thou that shameful word and blow Brought Roderick's vengeance on his foe? What reck'd the chieftain if he stood On highland heath, or Holy-Rood? He rights such wrong where it is given, If it were in the court of heaven." “ Still was it outrage ;-yet 'tis true, Not then claim'd sovereignty his due; While Albany, with feeble hand, Held borrow'd truncheon of command, The young king, mew'd in Stirling tower, Was stranger to respect and power. But then, thy chieftain's robber life! Winning mean prey by causeless strife, Wrenching from ruin'd lowland swain His herds and harvest rear'd in vainMethinks a soul like thine should scorn The spoils from such foul foray borne.”
VIII. Answer'd Fitz-James,—“ And, if I sought, Think'st thou no other could be brought ? What deem ye of my path waylaid? My life given o’er to ambuscade ?” “As of a meed to rashness due ; Hadst thou sent warning fair and true, I seek my hound, or falcon stray'd, I seek, good faith, a highland maid ; Free hadst thou been to come and go ; But secret path marks secret foe. Nor yet, for this, e'en as a spy, Hadst thou, unheard, been doom'd to die, Save to fulfil an augury.” “ Well, let it pass ; nor will I now Fresh cause of enmity avow, To chase thy mood and cloud thy brow Enough, I am by promise tied To match me with this man of pride : Twice have I sought Clan-Alpine's glen In peace; but when I come agen, I come with banner, brand, and bow, As leader seeks his mortal foe. For lovelorn swain in lady's bower, Ne'er panted for th' appointed hour As I, until before me stand This rebel chieftain and his band.”
VII. The Gael beheld him grim the while, And answer'd with disdainful smile“Saxon, from yonder mountain high, I mark's thee send delighted eye, Far to the south and east, where lay, Extended in succession gay, Deep waving fields and pastures green, With gentle slopes and groves between ; These fertile plains, that soften’d vale, Were once the birthright of the Gael; The stranger came with iron hand, And from our fathers reft the land, Where dwell we now? See, rudely swell Crag over crag, and fell o'er fell. Ask we this savage hill we tread, For fattep'd steer or household bread;
IX. “ Have, then, thy wish !"-he whistled shrill And he was answer'd from the hill ; Wild as the scream of the curlew, From crag to crag the signal few. Instant, through copse and heath, arose Bonnets, and spears, and bended bows; On right, on left, above, below, Sprung up at once the lurking foe; From shingles gray their lances start, The bracken bush sends forth the dart, The rushes and the willow wand Are bristling into axe and brand, And every tuft of broom gives life To plaided warrior arm'd for strife. That wbistle garrison'd the glen At once with full five hundred men,