Page images
PDF
EPUB

Loud sobs, and laughter louder, ran,
And voices unlike the voice of man;
As if the fiends kept holiday,
Because these spells were brought to day.
I cannot tell how the truth may be;
I say the tale as 'twas said to me.

XXIII."Now, hie thee hence," the Father said,"And when we are on death-bed laid, O may our dear Ladye, and sweet St John, Forgive our souls for the deed we have done !"—

The Monk returned him to his cell, And many a prayer and penance sped;When the convent met at the noontide bell— The Monk of St Mary's aisle was dead! Before the cross was the body laid, With hands clasped fast, as if still he prayed.

XXIV. The Knight breathed free in the morning wind, And strove his hardihood to find: He was glad when he passed the tombstones gray, Which girdle round the fair Abbaye; For the mystic Book, to his bosom prest, Felt like a load upon his breast; And his joints, with nerves of iron twined, Shook, like the aspen leaves in wind. Full fain was he when the dawn of day Began to brighten Cheviot gray; He joyed to see the chearful light, And he said Ave Mary, as well as he might.

XXV.

The sun had brightened Cheviot gray,

The sun had brightened the Carter's* side; And soon beneath the rising day

Smiled Branksome Towers and Teviot's tide. * A mountain on the border of England, above Jedburgh,

[graphic]

The wild birds told their warbling tale,

And wakened every flower that blows; And peeped forth the violet pale,

And spread her breast the mountain rose. And lovelier than the rose so red,

Yet paler than the violet pale, She early left her sleepless bed,

The fairest maid of Teviotdale.

XXVI.

Why does fair Margaret so early awake,

And don her kirtle so hastilie; And the silken knots,which in hurry shewould make,

Why tremble her slender fingers to tie; Why does she stop, and look often around,

As she glides down the secret stair;
And why does she pat the shaggy blood-hound,

As he rouses him up from his lair;
And, though she passes the postern alone,
Why is not the watchman's bugle blown f

11

XXVII.

The ladye steps in doubt and dread,
Lest her watchful mother hear her tread;
The ladye caresses the rough blood-hound,
Lest his voice should waken the castle round;
The watchman's bugle is not blown,
For he was her foster-father's son;
And she glides through the greenwood at dawn of
light, To meet Baron Henry, her own true knight.

The Knight and Ladye fair are met,
And under the hawthorn's boughs are set.
A fairer pair were never seen
To meet beneath the hawthorn green.
He was stately, and young, and tall;
Dreaded in battle, and loved in hall:
And she, when love, scarce told, scarce hid,
Lent to her cheek a livelier red;

XXVIII.

[graphic][graphic][graphic]

When the half sigh her swelling breast
Against the silken ribband prest;
When her blue eyes their secret told,
Though shaded by her locks of gold—
Where would you find the peerless fair,
With Margaret of Branksome might compare!

XXIX.

And now, fair dames, methinks I see
You listen to my minstrelsy;
Your waving locks ye backward throw,
And sidelong bend your necks of snow;
Ye ween to hear a melting tale,
Of two true lovers in a dale;
And how the Knight, with tender fire, To paint his faithful passion strove;
Swore, he might at her feet expire, But never, never cease to love;
And how she blushed, and how she sighed,
And, half consenting, half denied,

« PreviousContinue »