Page images
PDF
EPUB

The fiend receive their souls therefor!

It had not been burned this year and more.

Barn-yard and dwelling, blazing bright,

Served to guide me on my flight;

But I was chased the live-long night.

Black John of Akeshaw, and Fergus Graeme,

Fast upon my traces came,

Until I turned at Priesthaugh Scrogg,

And shot their horses in the bog,

Slew Fergus with my lance outright—

I had him long at high despite,

He drove my cows last Fastern's night."—

VII.

Now weary scouts from Liddesdale,
Fast hurrying in, confirmed the tale;
As far as they could judge by ken,

Three hours would bring to Teviot's strand Three thousand armed Englishmen.— Meanwhile, full many a warlike band,

From Teviot, AilL and Ettrick shade,
Came in, their Chiefs defence to aid.
There was saddling and mounting in haste,

There was pricking o'er moor and lea j
He that was last at the trysting place
Was but lighdy held of his gay ladye.

VIII.

From fair St Mary's silver wave,

From dreary Gamescleuch's dusky height, His ready lances Thirlestane brave

Arrayed beneath a banner bright
The tressured fleur-de-luce he claims
To wreathe his shield, since royal James,
Encamped by Fala's mossy wave,
The proud distinction grateful gave,

For faith 'mid feudal jars;
What time, save Thirlestane alone,
Of Scotland's stubborn barons none

Would march to southern wars;

And hence, in fair remembrance worn,
Yon sheaf of spears his crest has borne;
Hence his high motto shines revealed—
"Ready, aye ready," for the field.

IX.

An aged Knight, to danger steeled,

With many a moss-trooper, came on; And azure in a golden field, The stars and crescent graced his shield,

Without the bend of Murdieston. Wide lay his lands round Oakwood tower, And wide round haunted Castle-Ower High over Borthwick's mountain-flood, His wood-embosomed mansion stood; In the dark glen, so deep below, The herds of plundered England low, His bold retainers' daily food, And bought with danger, blows, and blood.

Marauding chief! his sole delight
The moonlight raid, the morning right;
Not even the flower of Yarrow's charms,
In youth might tame his rage for arms;
And still, in age, he spurned at rest,
And still his brows the helmet pressed,
Albeit the blanched locks below
Were white as Dinlay's spotless snow:

Five stately warriors drew the sword
Before their father's band;

A braver knight than Harden's lord
Ne'er belted on a brand.

X.

Scotts of Eskdale, a stalwart band,
Came trooping down the Todshawhill

By the sword they won their land,
And by the sword they hold it stilL

Harken, 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 his 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.

« PreviousContinue »