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Even bearded knights, in arms grown old,
Share in his frolic gambols bore,
Albeit their hearts, of rugged mould,
Were stubborn as the steel they wore.
For the gray warriors prophesied,
How the brave boy, in future war,
Should tame the Unicorn's pride,
Exalt the Crescents and the star.”
The ladye forgot her purpose high,
One moment, and no more ;
One moment gazed with a mother's eye
As she paused at the arched door.
Then, from amid the armed train,
She called to her William of Deloraine.
A stark mosstrooping Scott was he,
As e're couched Border lance by knee.
Through Solway sands, through Tarras moss,
Blindfold, he knew the paths to cross ;
By wily turns, by desperate bounds,
Had baffled Percy's best bloodhounds;
* Alluding to the armorial bearings, of the Scotts and Cars, C
In Eske, or Liddel, fords were none,
But he would ride them, one by one;
Alike to him was time, or tide,
December's snow or July's pride;
Alike to him was tide, or time,
Moonless midnight, or matin prime.
Steady of heart, and stout of hand,
As ever drove prey from Cumberland;
Five times outlawed had he been,
By England's king and Scotlands queen.
“Sir William of Deloraine, good at need,
Mount thee on the wightest steed;
Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride,
Until thou come to fair Tweed side ;
And in Melrose's holy pile
Seek thou the monk of St. Mary's aisle.
Greet the father well from me;
Say, that the fated hour is come,
And tonight he shall watch with thee,
To win the treasure of the tomb :
For this will be Saint Michael's night,
And, though stars be dim, the moon is bright;
And the cross, of bloody red,
Will point to the grave of the mighty dead.”
XXIII. “What he gives thee, see thou keep ;
Stay not thou for food or sleep.
Be it scroll, or be it book,
Into it, knight thou must not look;
If thou readest, thou art lorn
Better had'st thou ne'er been born "
“O swiftly can speed my dapplegray steed,
Which drinks of the Teviot clear;
Ere break of day,” the warrior 'gan say,
“Again will I be here :
And safer by none may thy errand be done,
Than, noble dame, by me;
Letter nor line know I never a one,
Wer’t my neckverse at Hairibee.”
XXV. Soon in his saddle sate he fast,
And soon the steep descent he passed ;
Soon crossed the sounding barbacan, f
And soon the Teviot side he won.
* Hairibee, the place of executing the border marauders at Carlisle. The neckverse is the beginning of the fifty first psalm, Miserere mei, &c. anciently read by
criminals, claiming the benefit of clergy.
† Barbacan, the defence of the outer gate of a feudal
IEastward the wooded path he rode ;
Green hazels o'er his basnet nod :
He passed the peel” of Goldiland,
And crossed old Borthwick's roaring strand ;
Dimly he viewed the Moathill's mound,
Where Druid shades still flitted round:
In Hawick twinkled many a light;
Behind him soon they set in night;
And soon he spurred his courser keen
Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.
The clattering hoofs the watchmen mark; “Stand ho! thou courier of the dark.” “For Branksome, ho!” the knight rejoined, And left the friendly tower behind.
He turned him now from Teviot side,
And, guided by the tinkling rill,
Northward the dark ascent did ride,
... And gained the moor at Horseliehill;
Broad on the left before him lay,
For many a mile, the Roman way.f
A moment now he slacked his speed,
A moment breathed his panting steed ;
Drew saddlegirth and corsletband,
And loosened in the sheath his brand.
On mintocrags the moonbeams glint,
Where Barnhill hewed his bed of flint;
Who flung his outlawed limbs to rest,
Where falcons hang their giddy nest,
Mid cliffs, from whence his eagle eye
For many a league, his prey could spy;
Cliffs, doubling, on their echoes borne,
The terrors of the robbers horn ;
Cliffs, which, for many a latter year,
The warbling Doric reed shall hear,
When some sad swain shall teach the grove,
Ambition is no cure for love.
Unchallenged, thence past Deloraine
To ancient Riddell's fair domain,
Where Aill from mountains freed,
Down from the lakes did raving come;
Each wave was crested with tawny foam,
Like the mane of a chesnut steed.