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Full fain was he when the dawn of day,
Began to brighten Cheviot grey;
He joyed to see the cheerful light,
And he said Ave Mary, as well as he might.
The sun had brightened Cheviot grey,
The sun had brightened the Carter's side ;*
And soon beneath the rising day
Smiled Branksome towers and Teviot's tide. The wild birds told their warbling tale,
And wakened every flower that blows; And peeped forth the violet pale,
And spread her breast the mountain rose. And lovelier than the rose so red,
Yet paler than the violet pale, She early left her sleepless bed,
The fairest maid of Teviotdale.
Why does fair Margaret so early awake,
And don her kirtle so hastilie;
And the silken knots, which in hurry she would make,
Why tremble her slender fingers to tie;
Why does she stop, and look often around,
As she glides down the secret stair;
And why does she pat the shaggy bloodhound,
As she rouses him up from his lair;
And, though she passes the postern alone,
Why is not the watchman's bugle blown?
The ladye steps in doubt and dread,
Lest her watchful mother hear her tread;
Carter Fell, one of the Border hills,
The ladye caresses the rough bloodhound,
Lest his voice should waken the castle round;
The watchman's bugle is not blown,
For he was her foster-father's son;
And she glides through the greenwood at dawn of light,
To meet Baron Henry, her own true knight.
The knight and ladye fair are met,
And under the hawthorn's boughs are set.
A fairer pair were never seen
To meet beneath the hawthorn green.
He was stately, and young, and tall;
Dreaded in battle, and loved in hall:
And she, when love, scarce told, scarce hid,
Lent to her cheek a livelier red;
When the half sigh her swelling breast
Against the silken ribbon pressed;
When her blue eyes their secret told,
Though shaded by her locks of gold-
Where would you find the peerless fair,
With Margaret of Branksome might compare !
And now, fair dames, methinks I see
You listen to my minstrelsy;
Your waving locks ye backward throw,
And sidelong bend your necks of snow:
Ye ween to hear a melting tale,
Of two true lovers in a dale;
And how the knight, with tender fire,
To paint his faithful passion strove;
Swore he might at her feet expire,
But never, never cease to love;
And how she blushed and how she sighed.
And, half consenting, half denied,
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 grey, 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 scarce 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 trode.
He heard a voice cry, Lost! lost! lost!'
And, like tennis-ball by racket 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 some 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 stayed:
Little he ate, and less he spoke,
Nor mingled with the menial flock:
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 for 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 Thirlestane. 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.
XXXIV. And now, in Branksome's good greenwood, 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 started 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' scorchèd 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.
The attending maidens smiled to see
How long, how deep, how zealously,
The precious juice the minstrel quaffed;
And he, emboldened by the draught,
Looked gaily back to them, and laughed.
The cordial nectar of the bowl
Swelled his old veins, and cheered his soul;
A lighter, livelier prelude ran,
Ere thus his tale again began.