« EdellinenJatka »
"_No, by my word ;-of bands prepared
To guard King James's sports I heard;
Nor doubt I aught, but when they hear
This muster of the mountaineer,
Their pennons will abroad be flung,
Which else in Doune had peaceful hung.”
“ Free be they flung !—for we were loth
Their silken folds should feast the moth.
Free be they flung !-as free shall wave
Clan-Alpine's pine in banner brave.
But, stranger, peaceful since you came.
Bewilder'd in the mountain game,
Whence the bold boast by which you show
Vich Alpine's vow'd and mortal foe?"'--
“Warrior, but yester.morn, I knew
Nought of thy Chieftain, Roderick Dhu,
Save as an exiled desperate man,
The chief of a rebellious clan,
Who, in the Regent's court and sight,
With ruffian dagger stabbed a knight.
Yet this alone might from his part
Sever each true and loyal heart.”-
Wrathful at such arraignment foul,
Dark lower'd the clansman's sable scowl:
A space he paused, then sternly said,
“ And heardst thou why he drew his blade ?
Heardst thou that shameful word and blow
Brought Roderick's vengeance on his foe?
What reck'd the Chieftain, if he stood
On highland heath, or Holy-Rood ?
He rights such wrong where it is given,
If it were in the court of heaven.”
“ Still was it outrage ;-yet, 'tis true,
Not then claimed sovereignty his due ;
While Albany, with feeble hand,
Held borrowed truncheon of command,
The young King, mew'd in Stirling tower,
Was stranger to respect and power.
But then, thy Chieftain's robber life :-
Winning mean prey by causeless strife,
Wrenching from ruin'd lowland swain
His herds and harvest reared in vain.-
Methinks a soul, like thine, should scorn
The spoils from such foul foray borne."
The Gael beheld him grim the while,
And answer'd with disdainful smile,-
“ Saxon, from yonder mountain high,
I marked thee send delighted eye,
Far to the south and east, where lay,
Extended in succession gay,
Deep waving fields and pastures green,
With gentle slopes and groves between.
These fertile plains, that softened vale, .
Were once the birthright of the Gael;
The stranger caine with iron hand,
And from nur fathers reft the land.
Where dwell we now! See rudely swell
Crag over crag, and fell o'er fell.
Ask we this savage hill we tread,
For fatten'd steer or household bread;
Ask we for flocks these shingles dry,
And well the mountain might reply,-
- To you, as to your sires of yore,
Belong the target and claymore!
I give you shelter in my breast,
Your own good blades must win the rest.”
Pent in this fortress of the North,
Think'st thou we will not sally forth,
To spoil the spoiler as we may,
And from the robber rend the prey ?
Ay, by my soul !-While on yon plain
The Saxon rears one shock of grain ;''
While, of ten thousand herds, there strays
But one along yon river's maze,
The Gael, of plain and river heir,
Shall with strong hand, redeem his share.
Where live the mountain chiefs who hold,
That plundering lowland field and fold
Is aught but retribution true ? ii...
Seek other cause 'gainst Roderick Dhu."
Answered Fitz-James,—" And, if I sough
Think'st thou no other could be brought ? What deem ye of my path waylaid, My life given o'er to ambuscade ?” “ As of a meed to rashness due : Hadst thou sent warning fair and true, I seek my hound, or falcon strayed, I seek, good faith, a highland maid, Free hadst thou been to come and go But secret path marks secret foe. Nor yet, for this, even as a spy, Hadst thou unheard, been doom'd, to die, Save to fulfil an augury." “ Well, let it pass ; nor will I now Fresh cause of enmity avow, To chafe thy mood and cloud thy brow.
Enough, I am by promise tied
To match me with this man of pride :
Twice have I sought Clan-Alpine's glen
In peace; but, when I come agen,
I come with banner, brand, and bow,
As leader seeks his mortal foe.
For lovelorn swain, in lady's bower,
Ne'er panted for the appointed hour,
As I, until before me stand
This rebel Chieftain and his band.”-
“Have then thy wish !” he whistled shrill,
And he was answer'd from the hill;
Wild as the scream of the curlew,
From crag to crag the signal flew.
Instant, through copse and heath, arose
Bonnets and spears and bended bows;
On right, on left, above, below,
Sprung up at once the lurking foe;
From shingles gray their lances start,
The bracken-bush sends forth the dart,
The rushes and the willow-wand
Are bristling into axe and brand,
And every tuft of broom gives life
To plaided warrior arm’d for strife.
That whistle garrison'd the glen
At once with full five hundred men,
As if the yawning hill to heaven
A subterranean host had given.
Watching their leader's beck and will,
All silent there they stood, and still;
Like the loose crags, whose threat'ning mass
Lay tottering o'er the hollow pass,
Is if an infant's touch could urge
C'heir headlong passage down the verge,
With step and weapon forward flurg,
Jpon the mountain-side they hung.
Che mountaineer cast glance of pride
Along Benledi's living side,
Then fixed his eye and sable brow
Full on Fitz-James- How say'st thou now?
These are Clan-Alpine's warriors true;
And, Saxon, I am Roderick Dhu !”
Fitz-James was brave :-Though to his heart
The life-blood thrilled with sudden start,
He mann'd himself with dauntless air,
Return'd the chief his haughty stare,
His back against a rock he bore,
And firmly placed his foot before :
“Come one, come all! this rock shall fly
From its firm base as soon as I.”—
Sir Roderick marked-and in his eyes
Respect was mingled with surprise,
And the stern joy which warriors feel
In foeman worthy of their steel.
Short space he stood—then waved his hand
Down sunk the disappearing band;
Each warrior vanished where he stood,
In broom or bracken, heath or wood;
Sunk brand and spear and bended bow,
In osiers pale and copses low;
It seem'd as if their mother Earth
Had swallowed up her warlike birth.
The wind's last breath had toss'd in air,
Pennon, and plaid, and plumage fair,-
The next but swept a lone hill-side,
Where heath and fern were waving wide ;
The sun's last glance was glinted back,
From lance and glaive, from targe and jack,
The next, all unreflected, shone
On bracken green, and cold gray stone.
Fitz-James looked round—yet scarce believed
The witness that his sight received ; .
Such apparition well might seem
Delusion of a dreadful dream.
Sir Roderick in suspense he eyed,
And to his look the chief replied,
“ Fear nought-nay, that I need not say-
But-doubt not aught from mine array,
Thou art my guest; I pledg'd my word
As far as Coilantogle ford :
Nor would I call a clansman's brand
For aid against one valiant hand,
Though on our strife lay every vaie
Rent by the Saxon from the Gael.
So move we'on; I only meant
To show the reed on which you leant, .
Deeming this path you might pursue
Without a pass from Roderick Dhu."
They moved-I said Fitz-James was brave,
As ever knight that belted glaive;
Yet dare not say, that now his blood
Kept on its wont and temper'd flood,
As, following Roderick's strides, he drew
That seeming lonesome pathway through,
Which yet, by fearful proof, was rife
With lances, that to take his life
Waited but signal from a guide,
So late dishonor'd and defied.
Ever, by stealth, his eye sought round
The vanish'd guardians of the ground,
And still from copse and heather deep,
Fancy saw spear and broadsword peep,
And in the plover's shrilly strain,
The signal whistle heard again."
Nor breathed he free till far behind
The pass was left ; for them they wind
Along a wide and level green,
Where neither tree nor tuft was seen,
Nor rush, nor bush of broom was near,
To hide a bonnet or a spear.
The chief in silence strode before,
And reach'd that torrent's sounding shore
Which, daughter of three mighty lakes,
From Vennachar in silver breaks,
Sweeps through the plain, and ceaseless mines
On Bochastle the mouldering lines,
Where Romé, the Empress of the world,
Of yore her eagle wings unfurld.
And here his course the Chieftain staid,
Threw down his target and his plaid,
And to the lowland warrior said :-
“ Bold Saxon! to his promise just,
Vich Alpine has discharged his trust.
This murderous chief, this ruthless man,
This head of a rebellious clan,
Hath led thee safe, through watch and ward,
Far past Clan-Alpine's outmost guard.
Now, man to man, and steel to steel,
A ehieftain's vengeance thou shalt feel.
See, here all vantageless I stand,
Armed, like thyself, with single brand ;
For this is Coilantogle ford,
And thou must keep thee with thy sword.
The Saxon paused :- I ne'er delayed,
When foemän bade me draw my blade;
Nay more, brave Chief, I vow'd thy death :
Yet sure thy fair and generous faith,
And my deep debt for life preserved,
A better meed have well desery'd :
Can nought but blood our feud atone ?
Are there no means ?" No, Stranger, none!