The Water of Weir is rushing down,
Foaming and furious, muddy and brown,
From the heights where the laughing Naeiads dwell,
And cascades leap from the craggy fell,
Where the mountain streamlets brattle and brawl,
‘Midst the mountain maidens’ echoing call,
Through pools where the water-kelpies wait
For the rider who dares the roaring spate.
Rain-fed, proud, turgid, and swollen,
Now foaming wild, now sombre and sullen;
Dragging the rushes from banks and braes,
Tearing the drooping branches of trees,
Rolling them down by scallop and scaur,
Involving all in a watery war—
Turned, and whirled, and swept along,
Down to the sea to be buried and gone.
The peregrine, fixed on the wader’s back,
Is carried along in her devious track,
As with a weak and a wailing scream
The victim crosses the raging stream.
“I will lose, I will lose my gay peregrine!”
Cried shrilly the Ladye Tomasine:
She will hurry across the bridge of wood,
With its rail of wattle which long hath stood;
Her nimble feet are upon the plank
That will bear her over from bank to bank;
She has crossed it times a thousandfold:
Time brings youth and Time makes old;
The wattles have rotted while she was growing,
The wind is up and the waters rowing,
And to keep her feet she must use her hand.
“Come back! come back!” was the baron’s command,
Too late!—go wattles—a piercing scream!
And the maid falls into the roaring stream!
Round and round, in eddying whirl,
Who shall save the perishing girl?
Round and round, and down and away,
Nothing to grasp, and nothing to stay.
The baron stands fixed and wrings his hands,
And looks to Sir Hubert, who trembling stands.
Sir Hubert! one moment now is thine—
The next! and a power no less than divine
Can save this maid of so many charms
From the grasp of Death’s enfolding arms.
Spring! spring! Sir Hubert, the moment is thine
To save a life, and a love to win.
No! no! the dastard kestrel kite
Aye hugs the earth in his stealthy flight.
Hope gone! the pool at the otter’s cave
Will prove the Ladye Tomasine’s grave.
Ho! ho! see yonder comes rushing down
A lithe young hind, though a simple clown—
Off bonnet and shoes, and coat and vest,
A plunge! and he holds her round the waist!
Three strokes of his arm, with his beautiful prize
All safe, although faint, on the bank she lies!
A cottager’s wife came running down,
“Take care of the ladye,” said the clown.
He has donned his clothes, and away he has gone,
His name unuttered, his home unknown.