Page images


Now, noble dame, perchance you ask,
How these two hostile armies met !
Deeming it were no easy task
To keep the truce which here was set ;
Where martial spirits, all on fire,
Breathed only blood and mortal ire—
—By mutual inroads, mutual blows,
By habit, and by nation foes,
They met on Teviot's strand :
They met, and sate them mingled down,
Without a threat, without a frown,
As brothers meet in foreign land.
The hands, the spear that lately grasped,
Still in the mailed guantlet clasped,
Were interchanged in greeting dear;
Visors were raised, and faces shewn,
And many a friend, to friend made known,
Partook of social cheer.
Some drove the jolly bowl about ;
With dice and draughts some chased the day;
And some with many a merry shout,
In riot, revelry and rout,
Pursued the foot-ball play.


Yet, be it known, had bugles blown,
Or sign of war been seen;
Those bands, so fair together ranged,
Those hands, so frankly interchanged,
Had dyed with gore the green ;
The merry shout by Teviot-side
Had sunk in war-cries wild and wide,
And in the groan of death;
And whingers,” now in friendship bare,
The social meal to part and share,
Had found a bloody sheath.
*Twixt truce and war, such sudden change,
Was not unfrequent, nor held strange,
In the old Border-day;
But yet on Branksome's towers and town,
In peaceful merriment sunk down
The sun's declining ray.

The blithesome signs of wassel gay
Decayed not with the dying day;
Soon through the latticed windows tall;
Of lofty Branksome's lordly hall,

* * A sort of knife, or poniard.

IDivided square by shafts of stone,
Huge flakes of ruddy lustre shone ;
Nor less the gilded rafters rang
With merry harp and beakers’ clang;
And frequent, on the darkening plain,
Loud hollo, whoop, or whistle ran,
As bands their stragglers to regain,
Give the shrill watch-word of their clan;
And revellers, o'er their bowls proclaim
Douglas or Dacre's conquering name.

[ocr errors]

Less frequent heard, and fainter still,
At length the various clamours died;
And you might hear, from Branksome hill,
No sound but Teviot's rushing tide;
Save, when the changing centinel
The challenge of his watch could tell;
And save, where, through the dark profound,
The clanging axe and hammer's sound
Rung from the nether lawn;
For many a busy hand toiled there,
Strong pales to shape, and beams to square,
The lists' dread barriers to prepare,
Against the morrow's dawn.

[ocr errors]

Margaret from hall did soon retreat,
Despite the dame's reproving eye;
Nor marked she as she left her seat,
Full many a stifled sigh.
For many a noble warrior strove
To win the flower of Teviot's love,
And many a bold ally.
With throbbing head and axious heart,
All in her lonely bower apart,
In broken sleep she lay ;
By times, from silken couch she rose,
While yet the bannered hosts repose ;
She viewed the dawning day.
Of all the hundreds sunk to rest,
First woke the loveliest and the best.

XI. She gazed upon the inner court, Which in the tower's tall shadow lay; Where coursers' clang, and stamp, and snort, Had rung the live-long yesterday. Now still as death—till, stalking slow— The iingling spurs announce his tread— | Jingung spurs a A stately warrior passed.below, But when he raised his plumed head—

[ocr errors]

Blessed Mary' can it be 2 Secure, as if in Ousenam bowers, He walks through Branksome's hostile towers, With fearless step, and free. She dare not sign, she dare not speak— Oh! if one page's slumbers break, His blood the price must pay ! Not all the pearls queen Mary wears, Not Margaret's yet more precious tears, Shall buy his life a day.

XII. .
Yet was his hazard small—for well
You may bethink you of the spell
Of that sly urchin page;
This to his lord he did impart,
And made him seem, by glamour art,
A knight from Hermitage.
Unchallenged, thus, the warder's post,
The court, unchallenged, thus he crossed,
For all the vassalage :
But, O what magic's quaint disguise
Could blind fair Margaret's azure eyes }

« PreviousContinue »