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And said that she would die a maid;—
Yet, might the bloody feud be stayed,
Henry of Cranstoun, and only he,
Margaret of Branksome's choice should be.
Alas! fair dames, your hopes are vain!
My harp has lost the enchanting strain;
Its lightness would my age reprove:
My hairs are gray, my limbs are old,
My heart is dead, my veins are cold:—
I may not, must not, sing of love.
Beneath an oak, mossed o'er by eld,
The Baron's Dwarf his courser held,
And held his crested helm and spear:
That Dwarf was scarcely an earthly man,
If the tales were true, that of him ran
Through all the Border, far and near.
'Twas said, when the Baron a hunting rode
Through Reedsdale's glens, but rarely trod,
He heard a voice cry, " Lost! lost! lost!"
And, like tennis-ball by raquel tossed,
A leap, of thirty feet and three,
Made from the gorse this elfin shape,
Distorted like some dwarfish ape,
And lighted at Lord Cranstoun's knee. Lord Cranstoun was spme whit dismayed; 'Tis said, that five good miles he rade, To rid him of his company; But where he rode one mile, the Dwarf ran four, And the Dwarf was first at the castle door.
Use lessens marvel, it is said.
This elvish Dwarf with the Baron staid:
Little he ate, and less he spoke,
Nor mingled with the menial flock j
And oft apart his arms he tossed,
And often muttered, " Lost! lost! lost!"
He was waspish, arch, and litherlie,
But well Lord Cranstoun served he:
And he of his service was full fain;
For once he had been ta'en or slain,
An' it had not been his ministry.
All, between Home and Hermitage,
Talked of Lord Cranstoun's Goblin Page.
For the Baron went on pilgrimage,
And took with him this elvish Page,
To Mary's chapel of the Lowes:
For there, beside Our Ladye's lake,
An offering he had sworn to make,
And he would pay his vows. But the Ladye of Branksome gathered a band, Of the best that would ride at her command;
The trysting place was Newark Lee.
Wat of Harden came thither amain,
And thither came John of Thirlestaine,
And thither came William of Deloraine;
They were three hundred spears and three.
Through Douglas-burn, up Yarrow stream,
Their horses prance, their lances gleam.
They came to St Mary's lake ere day;
But the chapel was void, and the Baron away.
They burned the chapel for very rage,
And cursed Lord Cranstoun's Goblin Page.
And now, in Branksome's good green wood,
As under the aged oak he stood,
The Baron's courser pricks his ears,
As if a distant noise he hears.
The Dwarf waves his long lean arm on high,
And signs to the lovers to part and fly;
No time was then to vow or sigh.
Fair Margaret, through the hazel grove,
Flew like the startled cushat-dove*.
The Dwarf the stirrup held and rein;
Vaulted the knight on his steed amain,
And, pondering deep that morning's scene,
Rode eastward through the hawthorns green.
While thus he poured the lengthened tale,
The Minstrel's voice began to fail:
Full slyly smiled the observant page,
And gave the withered hand of age
A goblet, crowned with mighty wine,
The blood of Velez' scorched vine.
He raised the silver cup on high,
And, while the big drop filled his eye,
Prayed God to bless the Duchess long,
And all who cheered a son of song.
* Wood pigeon.