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xx. Now every English eye, intent On Branksome's armèd towers was bent; So near they were, that they might know The straining harsh of each crossbow; On battlement and bartizan Gleamed axe, and spear, and partisan; Falcon and culver, on each tower, Stood prompt their deadly hail to shower; And flashing armour frequent broke From eddying whirls of sable smoke, Where upon tower and turret head, The seething pitch and molten lead Reeked, like a witch's cauldron red. While yet they gaze, the bridges fall, The wicket opes, and from the wall Rides forth the hoary seneschal.
Armèd he rode, all save the head,
‘Ye English warden lords, of you
ΧΧΙΙΙ. A wrathful man was Dacre's lord, But calmer Howard took the word : • May 't please thy Dame, Sir Seneschal, To seek the castle's outward wall, Our pursuivant-at-arms shall show Both why we came, and when we go.' The message sped, the noble Dame To the wall's outward circle came; Each chief around leaned on his spear, To see the pursuivant appear. All in Lord Howard's livery dressed, The lion argent decked his breast; He led a boy of blooming hueO sight to meet a mother's view! It was the heir of great Buccleuch. Obeisance meet the herald made, And thus his master's will he said :
XXIV. It irks, high Dame, my noble lords, 'Gainst ladye fair to draw their swords; But yet they may not tamely see, All through the Western Wardenry, Your law-contemning kinsmen ride, And burn and spoil the Border-side ; And ill beseems your rank and birth To make your towers a flemens-firth. We claim from thee William of Deloraine, That he may suffer March-treason pain. It was but last St. Cuthbert's even He pricked to Stapleton on Leven, Harried the lands of Richard Musgrave, And slew his brother by dint of glaive. Then, since a lone and widowed dame These restless riders may not tame, Either receive within thy towers Two hundred of my master's powers, Or straight they sound their warrison. And storm and spoil thy garrison : And this fair boy, to London led, Shall good King Edward's page be bred.'
xxv. He ceased and loud the boy did cry, And stretched his little arms on high; Implored for aid each well-known face, And strove to seek the Daine's embrace. A moment changed that Ladye's cheer, Gushed to her eye the unbidden tear; She gazed upon the leaders round, And dark and sad each warrior frowned : Then, deep within her sobbing breast, She locked the struggling sigh to rest;
Unaltered and collected stood,
XXVI. "Say to your lords of high emprize, Who war on women and on boys,
That either William of Deloraine Will cleanse him, by oath, of March-treason stain, Or else he will the combat take 'Gainst Musgrave, for his honour's sake. No knight in Cumberland so good, But William may count with him kin and blood. Knighthood he took of Douglas' sword, When English blood swelled Ancram's ford; And but Lord Dacre's steed was wight, And bare him ably in the flight, Himself had seen him dubbed a knight. For the young heir of Branksome's line, God be his aid, and God be mine; Through me no friend shall meet his doom; Here, while I live, no foe finds room. Then if thy lords their purpose urge,
Take our defiance loud and high ; Our slogan is their lyke wake dirge,
Our moat, the grave where they shall lie.'
xxvII. Proud she looked round, applause to claimThen lightened Thirlestane's eye of flame;
His bugle Wat of Harden blew; Pensils and pennons wide were flung, To heaven the Border slogan rung,
'St. Mary for the young Buccleuch ! The English war-cry answered wide,
And forward bent each Southern spear;
Each Kendal archer made a stride,
And drew the bowstring to his ear;
A horseman galloped from the rear.
Have to proud Angus come;
Have risen with haughty Home.
In Liddesdale I've wandered long;
And cannot brook my country's wrong;
The mustering of coming foe.'