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While, with set teeth and clenched hand,
And eyes that glow'd like fiery brand,
He meditated curse more dread,
And deadlier, on the clansman's head,
Who, summon'd to his chieftain's aid,
The signal saw and disobey'd.
The crosslet's points of sparkling wood
He quench'd among the bubbling blood,
And, as again the sign he rear'd,
Hollow and hoarse his voice was heard:
"When flits this cross from man to man,
Vich-Alpine's summons to his clan,
Burst be the ear that fails to heed!
Palsied the foot that shuns to speed!
May ravens tear the careless eyes,
Wolves make the coward heart their prize!
As sinks that blood stream in the earth,
So may his heart's blood drench his hearth!
As dies in hissing gore the spark,
Quench thou his light, destruction dark!
And be the grace to him denied,
Bought by this sign to all beside!"-
He ceased: no echo gave agen
The murmur of the deep amen.
Then Roderick, with impatient look,
From Brian's hand the symbol took:
"Speed, Malise, speed!" he said, and gave
The crosslet to his henchman brave.
"The muster-place be Lanric mead-
Instant the time-speed, Malise, speed!"
Like heath bird, when the hawks pursue,
A barge across Loch-Katrine flew :
High stood the henchman on the prow;
So rapidly the bargemen row,
The bubbles, where they launch'd the boat,
Were all unbroken and afloat,
Dancing in foam and ripple still,
When it had near'd the mainland hill;
And from the silver beach's side
Still was the prow three fathom wide,
When lightly bounded to the land
The messenger of blood and brand.
Speed, Malise, speed! the dun deer's hide
On fleeter foot was never tied.
Speed, Malise, speed! such cause of haste
Thine active sinews never braced.
Bend 'gainst the steepy hill thy breast,
Burst down like torrent from its crest;
With short and springing footstep pass
The trembling bog and false morass;
Across the brook like roebuck bound,
And thread the brake like questing hound;
The crag is high, the scaur is deep,
Yet shrink not from the desperate leap;
Parch'd are thy burning lips and brow,
Yet by the fountain pause not now;
Herald of battle, fate, and fear,
Stretch onward in thy fleet career!
The wounded hind thou track'st not now
Pursuest not maid through greenwood bough,
Nor pliest thou now thy flying pace,
With rivals in the mountain race;
But danger, death, and warrior deed,
Are in thy course.-Speed, Malise, speed!
Fast as the fatal symbol flies,
In arms the huts and hamlets rise;
From winding glen, from upland brown,
They pour'd each hardy tenant down.
Nor slack'd the messenger his pace;
He show'd the sign, he named the place,
And, pressing forward like the wind,
Left clamour and surprise behind.
The fisherman forsook the strand,
The swarthy smith took dirk and brand;
With changed cheer, the mower blithe
Left in the half-cut swathe his sithe;
The herds without a keeper stray'd,
The plough was in mid furrow stay'd,
The falc'ner toss'd his hawk away,
The hunter left the stag at bay;
Prompt at the signal of alarms,
Each son of Alpine rush'd to arms;
So swept the tumult and affray
Along the margin of Achray.
Alas! thou lovely lake! that e'er
Thy banks should echo sounds of fear!
The rocks, the bosky thickets, sleep
So stilly on thy bosom deep,
The lark's blithe carol, from the cloud,
Seems for the scene too gayly loud.
Speed, Malise, speed! the lake is past,
Duncraggan's huts appear at last,
And peep, like moss-grown rocks, half seen,
Half hidden in the copse so green;
There mayst thou rest, thy labour done,
Their lord shall speed the signal on.-
As stoops the hawk upon his prey,
The henchman shot him down the way.
What woful accents load the gale?
The funeral yell, the female wail !—
A gallant hunter's sport is o'er,
A valiant warrior fights no more.
Who, in the battle or the chase,
At Roderick's side shall fill his place?
Within the hall, where torches' ray
Supplied th' excluded beams of day,
Lies Duncan on his lowly bier,
And o'er him streams his widow's tear,
His stripling son stands mournful by,
His youngest weeps, but knows not why;
The village maids and matrons round
The dismal coronach* resound.
He is gone on the mountain,
He is lost to the forest,
Like a summer-dried fountain,
When our need was the sorest. The font, reappearing,
From the raindrops shall borrow, But to us comes no cheering, To Duncan no morrow!
The hand of the reaper
Takes the ears that are hoary,
But the voice of the weeper
Wails manhood in glory;
The autumn winds rushing
Waft the leaves that are searest, But our flower was in flushing, When blighting was nearest.
Fleet foot on the correi,*
Sage counsel in cumber,
Red hand in the foray,
How sound is thy slumber! Like the dew on the mountain, Like the foam on the river, Like the bubble on the fountain, Thou art gone, and for ever! XVII.
See Stumah,† who, the bier beside,
His master's corpse with wonder eyed,
Poor Stumah! whom his least halloo
Could send like lightning o'er the dew,
Bristles his crest, and points his ears,
As if some stranger step he hears.
'Tis not a mourner's muffled tread,
Who comes to sorrow o'er the dead.
But headlong haste, or deadly fear
Urge the precipitate career.
All stand aghast:-unheeding all,
The henchman bursts into the hall:
Before the dead man's bier he stood,
Held forth the cross besmear'd with blood;
"The muster place is Lanric mead;
Speed forth the signal! clansmen, speed!"
Angus, the heir of Duncan's line,
Sprung forth and seized the fatal sign.
In haste the stripling to his side
His father's dirk and broadsword tied ;
But when he saw his mother's eye
Watch him in speechless agony,
Back to her open arms he flew,
Press'd on her lips a fond adieu-
"Alas!" she sobb'd-" and yet be gone,
And speed thee forth like Duncan's son !"
One look he cast upon the bier,
Dash'd from his eye the gathering tear,
Breathed deep, to clear his labouring breast,
And toss'd aloft his bonnet crest,
Then, like the high-bred colt, when, freed,
First he essays his fire and speed,
He vanish'd, and o'er moor and moss
Sped forward with the fiery cross.
Suspended was the widow's tear,
While yet his footsteps she could hear:
And when she mark'd the henchman's eye
Wet with unwonted sympathy,
"Kinsman," she said, "his race is run,
That should have sped thine errand on;
The oak has fallen-the sapling bough
Is all Duncraggan's shelter now.
* Or corri-The hollow side of the hill, where game usually lies.
Faithful-The name of a dog.
Yet trust I well, his duty done,
The orphan's God will guard my son.-
And you, in many a danger true,
At Duncan's hest your blades that drew,
To arms, and guard that orphan's head!
Let babes and women wail the dead."
Then weapon-clang, and martial call,
Resounded through the funeral hall,
While from the walls th' attendant band
Snatch'd sword and targe, with hurried hand;
And short and flitting energy
Glanced from the mourner's sunken eye,
As if the sounds, to warrior dear,
Might rouse her Duncan from his bier.
But faded soon that borrow'd force;
Grief claim'd his right, and tears their course.
Benledi saw the cross of fire,
It glanced like lightning up Strath-Ire. O'er dale and hill the summons flew, Nor rest nor pause young Angus knew; The tear that gather'd in his eye, He left the mountain breeze to dry; Until, where Teith's young waters roll, Betwixt him and a wooded knoll, That graced the sable strath with green, The chapel of Saint Bride was seen. Swoln was the stream, remote the bridge, But Angus paused not on the edge; Though the dark waves danced dizzily, Though reel'd his sympathetic eye, He dash'd amid the torrent's roar; His right hand high the crosslet bore, His left the pole-axe grasp'd, to guide And stay his footing in the tide. He stumbled twice-the foam splash'd high, With hoarser swell the stream raced by; And had he fallen-for ever there, Farewell Duncraggan's orphan heir! But still, as if in parting life, Firmer he grasp'd the cross of strife, Until th' opposing bank he gain'd, And up the chapel pathway strain'd.
A blithesome rout, that morning tide, Had sought the chapel of Saint Bride. Her troth Tombea's Mary gave To Norman, heir of Armandave, And, issuing from the Gothic arch, The bridal now resumed their march. In rude, but glad procession, came Bonnetted sire and coif-clad dame; And plaided youth, with jest and jeer, Which snooded maiden would not hear; And children, that, unwitting why, Lent the gay shout their shrilly cry; And minstrels, that in measures vied Before the young and bonny bride, Whose downcast eye and cheek disclose The tear and blush of morning rose. With virgin step, and bashful hand, She held the kerchief's snowy band; The gallant bridegroom, by her side, Beheld his prize with victor's pride,
And the glad mother in her ear
Was closely whispering word of cheer.
Who meets them at the churchyard gate?-
The messenger of fear and fate!
Haste in his hurried accent lies,
And grief is swimming in his eyes.
All dripping from the recent flood,
Panting and travel-soil'd he stood,
The fatal sign of fire and sword
Held forth, and spoke th' appointed word;
"The muster place is Lanric mead;
Speed forth the signal! Norman, speed!"-
And must he change so soon the hand
Just link'd to his by holy band,
For the fell cross of blood and brand?
And must the day, so blithe that rose,
And promised rapture in the close,
Before its setting hour, divide
The bridegroom from the plighted bride?
O fatal doom!-it must! it must!
Clan-Alpine's cause, her chieftain's trust,
Her summons dread, brooks no delay;
Stretch to the race-away! away!
Yet slow he laid his plaid aside,
And, lingering, eyed his lovely bride,
Until he saw the starting tear
Speak wo he might not stop to cheer;
Then, trusting not a second look,
In haste he sped him up the brook,
Nor backward glanced till on the heath,
Where Lubnaig's lake supplies the Teith.-
What in the racer's bosom stirr'd?-
The sicken'd pang of hope deferr'd,
And memory, with a torturing train
Of all his morning visions vain.
Mingled with love's impatience, came
The manly thirst for martial fame :
The stormy joy of mountaineers,
Ere yet they rush upon the spears;
And zeal for clan and chieftain burning,
And hope, from well-fought field returning,
With war's red honours on his crest,
To clasp his Mary to his breast.
Stung by his thoughts, o'er bank and brae,
Like fire from flint he glanced away,
While high resolve, and feeling strong,
Burst into voluntary song.
The heath this night must be my bed, The bracken curtain for my head, My lullaby the warder's tread,
Far, far from love and thee, Mary! To-morrow eve, more stilly laid, My couch may be my bloody plaid, My vesper song, thy wail, sweet maid! It will not waken me, Mary!
I may not, dare not, fancy now
The grief that clouds thy lovely brow,
I dare not think upon thy vow,
And all it promised me, Mary!
No fond regret must Norman know;
When bursts Clan-Alpine on the foe,
His heart must be like bended bow,
His foot like arrow free, Mary!
A time will come with feeling fraught;
For, if I fall in battle fought,
Thy hapless lover's dying thought
Shall be a thought on thee, Mary! And if return'd from conquer'd foes, How blithely will the evening close, How sweet the linnet sing repose,
To my young bride and me, Mary!
Not faster o'er thy heathery braes,
Balquidder, speeds the midnight blaze,
Rushing, in conflagration strong,
Thy deep ravines and dells along,
Wrapping thy cliffs in purple glow,
And reddening the dark lakes below;
Nor faster speeds it, nor so far,
As o'er thy heaths the voice of war.
The signal roused to martial coil
The sullen margin of Loch-Voil,
Waked still Loch-Doine, and to the source
Alarm'd, Balvaig, thy swampy course;
Thence, southward turn'd its rapid road
Adown Strath-Gartney's valley broad,
Till rose in arms each man might claim
A portion in Clan-Alpine's name;
From the gray sire, whose trembling hand
Could hardly buckle on his brand,
To the raw boy, whose shaft and bow
Were yet scarce terror to the crow.
Each valley, each sequester'd glen,
Muster'd its little horde of men,
That met as torrents from the height
In highland dales their streams unite,
Still gathering as they pour along,
A voice more loud, a tide more strong,
Till at the rendezvous they stood
By hundreds, prompt for blows and blood;
Each train'd to arms since life began,
Owning no tie but to his clan,
No oath, but by his chieftain's hand,
No law, but Roderick Dhu's command.
That summer morn had Roderick Dhu
Survey'd the skirts of Ben-venue,
And sent his scouts o'er hill and heath,
To view the frontiers of Menteith.
All backward came with news of truce;
Still lay each martial Græme and Bruce,
In Rednock courts no horsemen wait,
No banner waved on Cardross gate,
On Duchray's towers no beacon shone,
Nor scared the herons from Loch-Con;
All seem'd at peace.-Now, wot ye why
The chieftain, with such anxious eye,
Ere to the muster he repair,
This western frontier scann'd with care?
And anxious told, how, on the morn,
The stern Sir Roderick deep had sworn
The fiery cross should circle o'er
Dale, glen, and valley, down, and moor.
Much were the peril to the Græme,
From those who to the signal came:
Far up the lake 'twere safest land,
Himself would row him to the strand.
He gave his counsel to the wind,
While Malcolm did, unheeding, bind
Round dirk, and pouch, and broads
His ample plaid in tighten'd fold,
And stripp'd his limbs to such ar
As best might suit the watery w
Then spoke abrupt: "Farewe
Pattern of old fidelity !"
The minstrel's hand he kind
"O! could I point a place
My sovereign holds in war
My uncle leads my vassal
To tame his foes, his frie
Poor Malcolm has but h
Yet, if there be one fai
Who loves the chieftai
Not long shall honour
Like hunted stag, in
Nor, ere yon pride-s
I may not give the
Teil Roderick Dhu
Not the poor servi
To wait me to yo
Then plunged he
Boid o'er the fo
And stoutly ste
And Allan stra
Far mid the la
er To which the Fast as the c The swimm Then, landi Loud shout The minst And joyi