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He led him into Branksome hall,
Before the beards of the warders all;
And each did after swear and say,
There only passed a wain of hay.
He took him to Lord David's tower,
Even to the Ladye's secret bower;
And, but that stronger spells were spread,
And the door might not be opened,
He had laid him on her very bed.
Whate'er he did of gramarye,*
Was always done maliciously; <
He flung the warrior on the ground,
And the blood welled freshly from the wound.
As he repassed the outer court,
He spied the fair young child at sport:
He thought to train him to the wood;
For, at a word, be it understood,
He was always for ill, and never for good.
Seemed to the boy, some comrade gay
He led the boy o'er bank and fell,
Until they came to a woodland brook; The running stream dissolved the spell,
And his own elvish shape he took. Could he have had his pleasure vilde, He had crippled the joints of the noble child; Or, with his fingers long and lean, Had strangled him in fiendish spleen; But his awful mother he had in dread, And also his power was limited; So he but scowled on the startled child, And darted through the forest wild; The woodland brook he bounding crossed, And laughed, and shouted, " Lost! lost! lost!" XIV.
Full sore amazed at the wonderous change,
And frightened, as a child might be, At the wild yell and visage strange,
And the dark words of gramarye, The child, amidst the forest bower, Stood rooted like a lily flower;
And when at length, with trembling pace, He sought to find where Branksome lay,
He feared to see that grisly face
Glare from some thicket on his way.
And hark! and hark! the deep-mouthed bark
Comes nigher still, and nigher;
And his red eye shot fire.
But still in act to spring;
He drew his tough bow-string 5
But a rough voice cried, " Shoot not, hoy! Ho! shoot not, Edward—.'Tis a boy !"—
The speaker issued from the wood,
And quelled the ban-dog's ire:
And born in Lancashire. Well could he hit a fallow deer
Five hundred feet him fro; With hand more true, and eye more clear,
No archer bended bow.
Set off his sun-burned face;
His barret-cap did grace;
All in a wolf-skin baldric tied;