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And hence, in fair remembrance worn,
An aged knight, to danger steeled,
Marauding chief! his sole delight
Scotts of Eskdale, a stalwart band,
By the sword they won their land,
Hearken, Ladye, to the tale,
How thy sires won fair Eskdale,—
Earl Morton was lord of that valley fair,
The Beattisons were his vassals there.
The Earl was gentle, and mild of mood,
The vassals were warlike, and fierce, and rude;
High of heart, and haughty of word,
Little they recked of a tame liege lord.
The Earl to fair Eskdale came,
Homage and seignory to claim:
Of Gilbert the Galliard, a heriot* he sought,
Saying, "Give thy best steed as a vassal ought."
—" Dear to me is my bonny white steed,
Oft has he helped me at pinch of need;
Lord and Earl though thou be, I trow,
I can rein Bucksfoot better than thou."—
Word on word gave fuel to fire,
Till so highly blazed the Beattisons' ire,
But that the Earl the flight had ta'en,
The vassals there their lord had slain.
* The feudal superior, in certain cases, was entitled to the
best horse of the vassal, in name of Heriot, or Herezeld.
Sore he plied both whip and spur,
As he urged his steed through Eskdale muir
And it fell down a weary weight, Just on the threshold of Branksome gate.
The Earl was a wrathful man to see, Full fain avenged would he be. In haste to Branksome's lord he spoke, Saying—" Take these traitors to thy yoke;For a cast of hawks, and a purse of gold, All Eskdale I'll sell thee, to have and hold:Beshrew thy heart, of the Beattisons' clan If thou leavest on Eske a landed man;But spare Woodkerrick's lands alone, For he lent me his horse to escape upon."— A glad man then was Branksome bold, Down he flung him the purse of gold;
To Eskdale soon he spurred amain, And with him five hundred riders has ta'en.
He left his merrymen in the mist of the hill,
And bade them hold them close and still;
And alone he wended to the plain,
To meet with the Galliard and all his train.
To Gilbert the Galliard thus he said:—
"Know thou me for thy liege lord and head;
Deal not with me as with Morton tame,
For Scotts play best at the roughest game.
Give me in peace my heriot due,
Thy bonny white steed, or thou shalt rue.
If my horn I three times wind,
Eskdale shall long have the sound in mind."—
Loudly the Beattison laughed in scorn;—"Little care we for thy winded horn. Ne'er shall it be the Galliard's lot, To yield his steed to a haughty Scott. Wend thou to Branksome back on foot, With rusty spur and miry boot."—