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THE BALLAD OF MARY SCOTT
(FROM THE QUEEN’S WAKE, THE 14th BARD’S SONG).
By James Hogg (the Ettrick Shepherd)
 
 

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Lord Pringle's steed neighs in the stall,

   His panoply is irksome grown,

His plumed helm hangs in the hall,

   His broad claymore is berry-brown.

 

No more his bugle's evening-peal

   Rids vassal arm and yeoman ride,

To drive the deer of Otterdale,

   Or foray on the border-side.

 

Instead of hoop and battle-knell,

   Of warrior's song, and revel free,

Is heard the lute's voluptuous swell

   Within the halls of Torwoodlee.

 

Sick lies his heart without relief;

   'Tis love that breeds the warrior's woe.

For daughter of a froward chief,

   A freebooter, his mortal foe.

 

But oh, that maiden's form of grace,

   And eye of love, to him were dear!

The smile that dimpled on her face

   Was deadlier than the border-spear.

 

That form was not the poplar's stem,

   That smile the dawning's purple line ;

Nor was that eye the dazzling gem

   That glows adown the Indian mine.

 

But would you praise the poplar pale,

   Or morn in wreath of roses drest;

The fairest flower that wooes the vale,

   Or down that clothes the solan's breast;

 

A thousand times beyond, above,

   What rapt enthusiast ever saw ;

Compare them to that mould of love—

   Young Mary Scott of Tushilaw !

 

The war-flame glows on Ettrick Pen,

   Rounds forth the foray swift as wind,

And Tushilaw and all his men

   Have left their homes afar behind.

 

O lady, lady, learn thy creed,

   And mark the watch-dog's boisterous din;

The Abbot comes with book and bead—

   O haste, and let the father in !

 

And, lady, mark his locks so gray,

   His beard so long, and colour wan ;

O he has mourned for many a day,

   And sorrowed o'er the sins of man!

 

And yet so stately is his mien,

   His step so firm, and breast so bold ;

His brawny leg and form, I ween,

   Are wondrous for a man so old.

 

Short was his greeting, short and low,

   His blessing short as prayer could he;

But oft he sighed, and boded woe,

   And spoke of sin and misery.

 

To shrift, to shrift, now Iadies all,

   Your prayers and Ave Marias learn;

Haste, trembling, to the vesper-hall,

   For ah! the priest is dark and stern.

 

Short was the task of lady old,

   Short as confession well could be ;

The Abbot's orisons were cold.

   His absolutions frank and free.

 

Go, Mary Scott, thy spirit meek

   Lay open to the searcher's eye;

And let the tear bedew thy cheek,

   Thy sins are of a crimson dye.

 

For many a lover thou hast slain,

   And many yet lie sick for thee—

Young Gilmanscleuch and Deloraine,

   And Pringle, lord of Torwoodlee.

 

Tell every wish thy bosom near,

   No other sin, dear maid, hast thou ;

And well the Abbot loves to hear

   Thy plights of love and simple vow.

 

"Why stays my Mary Scott so long?

   What guilt can youth and beauty wail?

Of fervent thought and passion strong,

   Heavens! what a sickening tedious tale !"

 

O lady, cease ; the maiden's mind.

   Though pure as morning's cloudless beam,

A crime in every wish can find,

   In noontide-glance, and midnight-dream.

 

To woman's heart when fair and free,

   Her sins seem great and manifold;

When sunk in guilt and misery,

   No crime can then her soul behold.

 

'Tis sweet to see the opening flower

   Spread its fair bosom to the sun;

'Tis sweet to hear in vernal bower

   The thrush's earliest hymn begun:

 

But sweeter far the prayer that wrings

   The tear from maiden's beaming eye;

And sweeter far the hymn she sings

   In grateful holy ecstasy.

 

The mass was said, hut cold and dry

   That mass to Heaven the Father sent ;

With hook, and bead, and rosary,

   The Abbot to his chamber went.

 

The watch-dog rests with folded eye

   Beneath the portal's gray festoon ;

The wildered Ettrick wanders bye,

   Loud murmuring to the careless moon.

 

The warder lists with hope and dread

   Far distant shout of fray begun;

The cricket tunes his tiny reed.

   And harps behind the embers dun.

 

Why does the warder bend his head.

   And silent stand the casement near?

The cricket stops his little reed.

   The sound of gentle step to hear.

 

O many a wight from Border-brake

   Has reaved the drowsy warden round :

And many a daughter lain awake.

   When parents trowed her sleeping sound.

 

The Abbot's bed is well down spread.

   The Abbot's bed is soft and fair,

The Abbot's bed is cold as lead —

   For why ?—the Abbot is not there.

 

Was that the blast of bugle, borne

   Far on the night-wind, wavering shrill?

'Tis nothing hut the shepherd's horn

   That keeps the watch on Cacra hill.

 

What means the warder's answering note ?

   The moon is west, 'tis near the day ;

I thought I heard the warrior's shout.

   'Tis time the Abbot were away!

 

The bittern mounts the morning-air.

   And rings the sky with quavering croon;

The watch-dog sallies from his lair,

   And bays the wind and setting moon.

 

'Tis not the breeze, nor bittern's wail.

   Has roused the guarder from his den;

Along the bank, in belt and mail.

   Come Tushilaw and all his men.

 

The Abbot, from his easement, saw

   The forest-chieftain's proud array;

He heard the voice of Tushilaw—

   The Abbot's heart grew cold as clay !

 

“Haste, maidens, call my lady fair,

   That room may for my warriors be ;

And bid my daughter come and share

   The cup of joy with them and me.

 

Say wo have fought and won the fray.

   Have lowered our haughty foeman's pride;

And we have driven the richest prey

   That ever lowed by Ettrick-side."

 

To hear a tale of vanquished foes.

   His lady came right cheerfully;

And Mary Scott, like morning-rose,

   Stood blushing at her father's knee.

 

Fast flowed the warrior's ruthless tale,

   And aye the red cup passed between;

But Mary Scott grew lily pale.

   And trembled like the aspen green.

 

"Now, lady, (give me welcome cheer,

   Queen of the Border thou shalt he;

For I have brought thee gold and gear,

   And humbled haughty Torwoodlee.

 

I beat his yeomen in the glen,

   I loosed his horses from the stall.

I slew the blood-hound in his den,

   And sought the chief through tower and hall.

 

'Tis said, in hamlet mean and dark

   Nightly he lies with leman dear ;

O, I would give ten thousand mark,

   To see his head upon my spear !

 

Go maidens, every mat be spread

   On heather, haum, or roegrass heap,

And make for me the scarlet bed,

   For I have need of rest and sleep."—

 

"Nay, my good lord, make other choice,

   In that you cannot rest to-day;

For there in peaceful slumber lies

   A holy Abbot, old and gray."—

 

The chieftain's cheek to crimson grew,

   Dropt from his hand the rosy wine —

"An Abbot! curse the canting crew!

   An Abbot sleep in couch of mine !

 

Now, lady, as my soul shall thrive,

   I'd rather trust my child and thee

With my two greatest foes alive,

   The King of Scots and Torwoodlee.

 

The lazy hoard of Melrose vale

   Has brought my life, my all to stake:

O, lady! I have heard a tale.

   The thought o't makes my heart to ache !

 

Go, warriors, hale the villain forth,

   Bring not his loathful form to me;

The gate stands open to the north,

   The rope hangs o'er the gallows tree.

 

There shall the burning breeze of noon

   Rock the old sensual sluggard blind ;

There let him Swing, till sun and moon

   Have three times left the world behind."—

 

O Abbot, Abbot, say thy prayers,

   With orisons load every breath;

The forest-trooper's on the stairs,

   To drag thee to a shameful death.

 

O Abbot, Abbot, quit the bed,

   Ill armed art thou to meet the strife;

Haste, don thy beard, and quoif thy head,

   And guard the door for death or life.

 

Thy arm is firm, thy heart is stout,

   Yet thou canst neither fight nor flee;

But beauty stands thy guard without,

   Yes, beauty weeps and pleads for thee.

 

Proud, ruthless man, by vengeance driven,

   Regardless hears a brother plead;

Regardless sees the brand of Heaven

   Red quivering o'er his guilty head .

 

But once let woman's soothing tongue

   Implore his help or clemency,

Around him let her arms be flung,

  Or at his feet her bended knee-

 

The world's a shadow ! vengeance sleeps !

   The child of reason stands revealed —

When beauty pleads, when woman weeps,

   He is not man who scorns to yield.

 

Stern Tushilaw is gone to sleep.

   Laughing at woman's dread of sin ;

But first he bade his warriors keep

   All robbers out, and abbots in.

 

The Abbot from his casement high

   Looked out to sec the peep of day;

The scene that met the Abbot's eye

   Filled him with wonder and dismay.

 

'Twas not the dews of dawning mild,

   The mountain's hues of silver gray.

Nor yet the Ettrick's windings wild.

   By belted holm and bosky brae ;

 

Nor moorland Rankleburn, that raved

   By covert, dough, and greenwood shaw;

Nor dappled flag of day, that waved

   In streamers pale from Gilmans-law :

 

But many a doubted ox there lay

   At rest upon the castle-lea;

And there he saw his gallant gray,

   And all the steeds of Torwoodlee.

 

Beshrew the wont ! the Abbot said.

   The charge runs high for lodging here;

The guard is deep, the path way laid,

   My homilies shall cost me dear.

 

Come well, come woe, with dauntless core

   I'll kneel, and con my breviary;

If Tushilaw is versed in lore,

   'Twill be an awkward game with me. —

 

Now Tushilaw he waked and slept.

   And dreamed and thought, till noontide-hour;

But aye this query upmost kept.

   What seeks the Abbot in my tower?

 

Stern Tushilaw came down the stair

   With doubtful nod indignant eye.

And found the holy man at prayer.

   With book, and cross, and rosary.

 

"To book, to bonk, thou reaver red,

   Of absolution thou hast need;

The sword of Heaven hangs o'er thy head.

   Death is thy doom, and hell thy meed!"—

 

"I'll take my chance, thou priest of sin,

   Thy absolutions I disdain ;

But I will noose thy bearded chin,

   If thus thou talkest to me again.

 

Declare thy business and thy name,

   Or short the route to thee is given !"—

"The Abbot I, of Coldinghame,

   My errand is the cause of Heaven."—

 

"That shalt thou prove ere we two part;

   Some robber thou, or royal spy :

But, villain, I will search thy heart,

   And chain thee in the deep to lie!

 

Hence with thy rubbish, hest and ban,

   Whinyards to keep the weak in awe;

The scorn of Heaven, the shame of man—

   No books nor beads for Tushilaw !"—

 

"Oh ! lost to mercy, faith, and love !

   Thy bolts and chains are nought to me;

I'll call an angel from above,

   That soon will set the pris'ner free."—

 

Bold Tushilaw, o'er stone and steep,

   Pursues the roe and dusky deer;

The Abbot lies in dungeon deep,

   The maidens wail, the matrons fear.

 

The sweetest flower on Ettrick shaw

   Bends its fair form o'er grated keep;

Young Mary Scott of Tushilaw

   Sleeps but to sigh, and wakes to weep.

 

Bold Tushilaw, with horn and hound,

   Pursues the deer o'er holt and lea ;

And rides and rules the Border round,

   From Philiphaugh to Gilnockye.

 

His page rode dawn by Melrose fair,

   His page rode down by Coldinghame ;

But not a priest was missing there,

   Nor Abbot, Friar, nor Monk of name.

 

The evening came ; it was the last

   The Abbot in this world should sec ;

The bonds are firm, the bolts are fast,

   No angel comes to set him free.

 

Yes, at the stillest hour of night

   Softly unfolds the iron door;

Beamed through the gloom unwonted light,

   That light a beauteous angel bore.

 

Fair was the form that o'er him hung,

   And fair the hands that set him free;

The trembling whispers of her tongue

   Softer than seraph's melody.

 

The Abbot's soul was all on flame,

   Wild transport through his bosom ran;

For never angel's airy frame

   Was half so sweet to mortal man.-

 

Why walks young Mary Scott so late,

   In veil and cloak of cramasye?

The porter opens wide the gate,

   His bonnet moves, and bends his knee.

 

Long may the wondering porter wait,

   Before the lady-form return;

Speed, Abbot, speed, nor halt nor bate,

   Nor look thou back to Rankleburn.

 

The day arrives, the ladies plead

   In vain for yon mysterious wight ;

For Tushilaw his doom decreed,

   Were he an Abbot, Lord, or Knight.

 

The chieftain called his warriors stout,

   And ranged them round the gallows tree.

Then bade them bring the Abbot out.

   The fate of fraud that all might see.

 

The men return of sense bereft,

   Falter their tongues, their eye-balls glare ;

The door was locked, the fetters left—

   All close ! the Abbot was not there !

 

The wondering warriors bow to God,

   And matins to the Virgin hum ;

But Tushilaw he gloomed and strode

   And walked into the castle dumb.

 

But to the Virgin's sacred name

   The vow was paid in many a cell ;

And many a rich oblation came

   For that amazing miracle.

 

Lord Pringle walked his glens alone,

   Nor flock nor lowing herd he saw ;

But even the king upon the throne

   Quaked at the name of Tushilaw.

 

Lord Pringle's heart was all on flame,

   Nor peace nor joy his bosom knew,

'Twas for the kindest, sweetest dame,

   That ever brushed the forest-dew.

 

Gone is one month with smile and sigh.

   With dream by night and wish by day;

A second came with moistened eye ;

   Another came and passed away.

 

Why is the flower of yonder pile

   Bending its stem to court decay,

And Mary Scott's benignant smile

   Like sun-beam in a winter-day?

 

Sometimes her colour's like the rose,

   Sometimes 'tis like the lily pale;

The flower that in the forest grows

   Is fallen before the summer-gale.

 

A mother's fostering breast is warm,

   And dark her doubts of love, I ween:

For why ?— she felt its early harm—

   A mother's eye is sharp and keen !

 

'Tis done ! the woman stands revealed !

   Stern Tushilaw is waked to see;

The bearded priest so well concealed,

   Was Pringle, lord of Torwoodlee!

 

Oh, never was the thunder's jar,

   The red tornado's wasting wing,

Nor all the elemental war,

   Like fury of the Border-king.

 

He laughed aloud—his faulchion eyed—

   A laugh of burning vengeance born!—

"Does thus the coward trow," he cried,

   "To hold his conqueror's power to scorn!

 

Thinks Tushilaw of maids or wives,

   Or such a thing as Torwoodlee!

Had Mary Scott a thousand lives,

   These lives were all too few for me !

 

Ere midnight, in the secret cave,

   This sword shall pierce her bosom's core,

Though I go childless to my grave,

   And rue the deed for evermore!

 

O had I lulled the imp to rest

   When first she lisped her name to me,

Or pierced her little guileless breast

   When smiling on her nurse's knee!"—

 

"Just is your vengeance, my good lord,

   'Tis just and meet our daughter die;

For sharper than a foeman's sword

   Is family-shame and injury.

 

But trust the ruthless deed to me;

   I have a vial potent, good ;

Unmeet that all the Scotts should see

   A daughter's corse embalmed in blood!

 

Unmeet her gallant kinsmen know

   The guilt of one so fair and young;

No cup should to her mem'ry flow,

   No requiem o'er her grave be sung.

 

My potent draught has erst proved true

   Beneath my own and husband's eye;

Trust me, ere falls the morning-dew.

   In dreamless sleep shall Mary lie!"—

 

"Even go thy way, thy words are true,

   I knew thy dauntless soul before ;

But list—if thou deceivest me too,

   Thou hast a head ! I say no more."—

 

Stern Tushilaw strode o'er the ley,

   And, wondering, by the twilight saw

A crystal tear drop from his eye,

   The first e'er shed by Tushilaw!

 

O grievous are the bonds of steel,

   And blasted hope 'tis hard to prove ;

More grievous far it is to feel

   Ingratitude from those we love.

 

"What brings my lady mother here,

   Pale as the morning-shower and cold?

In her dark eye why stands the tear ?

   Why in her hand a cup of gold ? "—

 

"My Mary, thou art ill at rest,

   Fervid and feverish is thy blood ;

Still yearns o'er thee thy mother's breast,

   Take this, my child, 'tis for thy good!"—

 

O sad, sad was young Mary's plight!

   She took the cup — no word she spake:

She had even wished that very night

   To sleep, and never more to wake.

 

She took the cup—she drank it dry,

   Then pillowed soft her beauteous head,

And calmly watched her mother's eye ;

   But oh that eye was hard to read !

 

Her moistened eyes, so mild and meek,

   Soon sunk their auburn fringe beneath ;

The ringlets on her damask cheek

   Heaved gentler with her stealing breath !

 

She turned her face unto the wall,

   Her colour changed to pallid clay;

Long ere the dews began to fall,

   The flower of Ettrick lifeless lay!

 

Why underneath her winding-sheet

   Does broidered silk her form enfold?

Why are cold Mary's buskined feet

   All laced with belts and bands of gold?—

 

"What boots to me those robes so gay?

   To wear them now no child have I !

They should have graced her bridal day.

   Now they must in the church-yard lie !

 

I thought to see my daughter ride,

   In golden gear and cramasye.

To Mary's fane, the loveliest bride

   E'er to the Virgin bent the knee.

 

Now I may by her funeral wain

   Ride silent o'er the mountain gray:

Her revel-hall, the gloomy fane;

   Her bridal bed, the cheerless clay !"—

 

Why that rich snood, with plume and lace,

   Round Mary's lifeless temples drawn?

Why is the napkin o'er her face,

   A fragment of the lily-lawn?—

 

"My Mary has another home ;

   And far, far though her journey be,

When she to Paradise shall come,

   Then will my child remember me!"—

 

O many a flower was round her spread,

   And many a pearl and diamond bright,

And many a window round her head

   Shed on her form a bootless light!

 

Lord Pringle sat on Maygill brae,

   Pondering on war and vengeance meet ;

The Cadan toiled in narrow way.

   The Tweed rolled far beneath his feet.

 

Not Tweed, by gulf and whirlpool mazed,

   Through dark wood-glen, by him was seen,

For still his thought-set eye was raised

   To Ettrick mountains, wild and green.

 

Sullen he sat, unstaid, unblest.

   He thought of battle, broil, and blood;

He never crossed, he never wist

   Till by his side a Palmer stood.

 

"Haste, my good lord, this letter read,

   III bodes it listless thus to be;

Upon a die I've set my head.

   And brought this letter far to thee."—

 

Lord Pringle looked the letter on.

   His face grew pale as winter-sky;

But, ere the half of it was done.

   The tear of joy stood in his eye.

 

A purse he to the Palmer threw,

   Mounted the cleft of aged tree.

Three times aloud his bugle blew,

   And hasted home to Torwoodlee.

 

'Twas scarcely past the hour of noon

   When first the foray-whoop began;

And, in the wan light of the moon.

   Through March and Teviotdale it ran.

 

Far to the south it spread away.

   Startled the hind by fold and tree;

And aye the watch-word of the fray

   Was, "Ride for Ker and Torwoodlee!"

 

When next the day began to fade,

   The warriors round their chieftains range ;

And many a solemn vow they made,

   And many an oath of fell revenge.

 

The Pringles' plumes indignant dance—

   It was a gallant sight to see;

And many a Kit, with sword and lance,

   Stood rank and file on Torwoodlee.

 

As they fared up yon craigy glen,

   Where Tweed sweeps round the Thorny hill,

Old Gideon Murray and his men

   The foray joined with right good-will.

 

They hasted up by Plora side,

   And north above Mount-Benger turn,

And lothly forced with them to ride

   Black Douglas of the Craigy-burn.

 

When they came nigh Saint Mary's lake

   The day-sky glimmered on the dew;

They hid their horses in the brake,

   And lurked in heath and braken clough.

 

The lake one purple valley lay,

   Where tints of glowing light were seen

The ganza waved his cuneal way,

   With yellow oar and quoif of green.

 

The dark cock bayed above the coomb,

   Throned 'mid the wavy fringe of gold,

Unwreathed from dawning's fairy loom.

   In many a soft vermilion fold.

 

The tiny skiffs of silver mist

   Lingered along the slumbering vale;

Belled the gray stag with fervid breast

   High on the moors of Meggat-dale.

 

There, hid in clough and hollow den.

   Gazing around the still sublime,—

There lay Lord Pringle and his men

   On beds of heath and moorland thyme.

 

That morning found rough Tushilaw

   In all the father's guise appear;

An end of all his hopes he saw

   Shrouded in Mary's gilded bier.

 

No eye could trace without concern

   The suffering warrior's troubled look ;

The throbs that heaved his bosom stern

   No ear could bear, no heart could brook.

 

"Woe be to thee, thou wicked dame!

   My Mary's prayers and accents mild

Might well have rendered vengeance lame—

   This hand could ne'er have slain my child !

 

But thou, in frenzied fatal hour,

   Reft the sweet life, thou gavest, away.

And crushed to earth the fairest flower

   That ever breathed the breeze of day.

 

My all is lost, my hope is fled.

   The sword shall ne'er be drawn for me;

Unblest, unhonoured my gray head —

   My child ! would I had died for thee !"—

 

The bell tolls o'er a new-made grave ;

   The lengthened funeral-train is seen

Stemming the Yarrow's silver wave,

   And darkening Dryhope-holms so green.

 

When nigh the Virgin's fane they drew,

   lust by the verge of holy ground.

The Kers and Pringles left the clough,

   And hemmed the wondering Scotts around.

 

Vassal and peasant, seized with dread,

   Sped off, and looked not once behind;

And all who came for wine and bread,

   Fled like the chaff before the wind.

 

But all the Scotts together flew,

   For every Scott of name was there,—

In sullen mood their weapons drew,

   And back to back for fight prepare.

 

Rough was the onset—boast, nor threat,

   Nor word, was heard from friend or foe;

At once began the work of fate.

   With perilous thrust and deadly blow.

 

O but the Harden lads were true.

   And bore them bravely in the broil !

The doughty laird of wild Buccleuch

   Raged like a lion in the toil.

 

His sword on bassenet was broke,

   The blood was streaming to his heel,

But soon, to ward the fatal stroke.

   Up rattled twenty blades of steel.

 

Young Raeburn tilted gallantly ;

   But Ralph of Gilmanscleuch was slain,

Philip and Hugh of Baillilee,

   And William laird of Deloraine.

 

Red Will of Thirlestane came on

   With his long sword and sullen eye ;

Jealous of ancient honours won.

   Woe to the wight that came him nigh!

 

He was the last the ranks to break,

   And flying, fought full desperately ;

At length within his feudal lake

   He stood, and fought, unto the knee.

 

Wild looked he round from side to side ;

   No friendly skiff was there that day !

For why? the knight in bootless pride,

   Had driven them from the wave away.

 

Sore did he rue the stern decree!

   Red rolled the billow from the west !

And fishes swam indignantly

   Deep o'er the hero's boardly breast.

 

When loud has roared the wintry storm,

   Till winds have ceased, and rains are gone,

There oft the shepherd's trembling form

   Stands gazing o'er gigantic bone ;

 

Pondering of Time's unstaying tide ;

   Of ancient chiefs by kinsmen slain,

Of feudal rights, and feudal pride,

   And reckless Will of Thirlestane.

 

But long shall Ettrick rue the strife

   That reft her brave and generous son,

Who ne'er in all his restless life

   Did unbecoming thing—but one.

 

Old Tushilaw, with sword in hand,

   And heart to fiercest woes a prey,

Seemed courting every foeman's brand,

   And fought in hottest of the fray.

 

In vain the gallant kinsmen stood

   Wedged in a firm and bristled ring ;

Their funeral weeds are bathed in blood,

   No corslets round their bosoms cling.

 

Against the lance and helmed file

   Their courage, might, and skill were vain.

Short was the conflict, short the while

   Ere all the Scotts were bound or slain.

 

When first the hostile band upsprung,

   The body in the church was laid,

Where vows were made, and requiems sung,

   By matron, monk, and weeping maid.

 

Lord Pringle came—before his eye

   The monks and maidens kneeled in fear;

But Lady Tushilaw stood bye,

   And pointed to her Mary's bier!

 

"Thou lord of guile and malice keen,

   What boots this doleful work to thee!

Could Scotland such a pair have seen

   As Mary Scott and Torwoodlee?"—

 

Lord Pringle came,—no word he spake,

   Nor owned the pangs his bosom knew;

But his full heart was like to break,

   In every throb his bosem drew.

 

"O I had weened with fondest heart—

   Woe to the guileful friend who lied!—

This day should join us ne'er to part,

   This day that I should win my bride !

 

But I will see that face so meek,

   Cold, pale, and lifeless though it be;

And I will kiss that comely cheek,

   Once sweeter than the rose to me."—

 

With trembling hand he raised the lid,

   Sweet was the perfume round that flew;

For there were strewed the roses red,

   And every flower the forest knew.

 

He drew the fair lawn from her face,

   'Twas decked with many a costly wreath;

And still it wore a soothing grace

   Even in the chill abodes of death.

 

And aye he prest the cheek so white,

   And aye he kissed the lips beloved,

Till pitying maidens wept outright,

   And even the frigid monks were moved.

 

Why starts Lord Pringle to his knee?

   Why bend his eyes with watchful strain ?

The maidens shriek his mien to see;

   The startled priests inquire in vain!

 

Was that a sob, an earthly sigh,

   That heaved the flowers so lightly shed ?

'Twas but the wind that wandered bye,

   And kissed the bosom of the dead ;

 

Are these the glowing tints of life

   O'er Mary's check that come and fly?

Ah, no! the red flowers round are rife,

   The rose-bud flings its softened dye.

 

Why grows the gazer's sight so dim?

   Stay, dear illusion, still beguile !

Thou art worth crowns and worlds to him—

   Last, dear illusion, last awhile!

 

Short was thy sway, frenzied and short,

   For ever fell the veil on thee;

Thy startling form, of fears the sport,

   Vanished in sweet reality!

 

'Tis past! and darkly stand revealed

   A mother's cares and purpose deep:

That kiss, the last adieu that sealed,

   Waked Mary from her death-like sleep !

 

Slowly she raised her form of grace,

   Her eyes no ray conceptive flung ;

And O, her mild, her languid face,

   Was like a flower too early sprung !

 

"O I lie sick and weary here,

   My heart is bound in moveless chain ;

Another cup, my mother dear,

   I cannot sleep though I would fain!"—

 

She drank the wine with calm delay,

   She drank the wine with pause and sigh :

Slowly, as wakes the dawning day,

   Dawned long-lost thought in Mary's eye.

 

She looked at pall, she looked at bier,

   At altar, shrine, and rosary;

She saw her lady mother near,

   And at her side brave Torwoodlee!

 

'Twas all a dream, nor boded good,

   A phantom of the fevered brain!

She laid her down in moaning mood,

   To sooth her woes in sleep again.

 

Needs not to paint that joyful hour,

   The nuptial vow, the bridal glee,

How Mary Scott, the Forest-flower,

   Was borne a bride to Torwoodlee.

 

Needs not to say, how warriors prayed

   When Mary glided from the dome;

They thought the Virgin's holy shade

   In likeness of the dead had come.

 

Diamond and ruby rayed her waist,

   And twinkled round her brow so fair;

She wore more gold upon her breast

   Than would have bought the hills of Yair.

 

A foot so light, a form so meet,

   Ne'er trode Saint Mary's lonely lea;

A bride so gay, a face so sweet,

   The Yarrow braes shall never see.

 

Old Tushilaw deigned not to smile,

   No grateful word his tongue could say,

He took one kiss, blest her the while,

   Wiped his dark eye, and turned away.

 

The Scotts were freed, and peace restored;

   Each Scott, each Ker, each Pringle swore,

Swore by his name, and by his sword,

   To be firm friends for evermore.

 

Lord Pringle's hills were stocked anew,

   Drove after drove came nightly free ;

But many a Border-baron knew

   Whence came the dower to Torwoodlee.

 

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