A various scene the clansmen made:
Some sat, some stood, some slowly strayer):
But most, with mantles folded round,
Were couched to rest upon the ground,
Scarce to be known by curious eye
From the deep heather where they lie,
So well was matched the tartan screen
With heath-bell dark and brackens green;
Unless where, here and there, a blade
Or lance’s point a glimmer made,
Like glow-worm twinkling through the shade.
But when, advancing through the gloom,
They saw the Chieftain’s eagle plume,
Their shout of welcome, shrill and wide,
Shook the steep mountain’s steady side.
Thrice it arose, and lake and fell
Three times returned the martial yell;
It died upon Bochastle’s plain,
And Silence claimed her evening reign.
The rose is fairest when ’t is budding new,
And hope is brightest when it dawns from fears;
The rose is sweetest washed with morning dew
And love is loveliest when embalmed in tears.
O wilding rose, whom fancy thus endears,
I bid your blossoms in my bonnet wave,
Emblem of hope and love through future years!’
Thus spoke young Norman, heir of Armandave,
What time the sun arose on Vennachar’s broad wave.
Such fond conceit, half said, half sung,
Love prompted to the bridegroom’s tongue.
All while he stripped the wild-rose spray,
His axe and bow beside him lay,
For on a pass ’twixt lake and wood
A wakeful sentinel he stood.
Hark!—on the rock a footstep rung,
And instant to his arms he sprung.
’Stand, or thou diest!—What, Malise?—soon
Art thou returned from Braes of Doune.
By thy keen step and glance I know,
Thou bring’st us tidings of the foe.’—
For while the Fiery Cross tried on,
On distant scout had Malise gone.—
‘Where sleeps the Chief?’ the henchman said.
’Apart, in yonder misty glade;
To his lone couch I’ll be your guide.’—
Then called a slumberer by his side,
And stirred him with his slackened bow,—
’Up, up, Glentarkin! rouse thee, ho!
We seek the Chieftain; on the track
Keep eagle watch till I come back.’
Together up the pass they sped:
‘What of the foeman?’ Norman said.—
’Varying reports from near and far;
This certain,—that a band of war
Has for two days been ready boune,
At prompt command to march from Doune;
King James the while, with princely powers,
Holds revelry in Stirling towers.
Soon will this dark and gathering cloud
Speak on our glens in thunder loud.
Inured to bide such bitter bout,
The warrior’s plaid may bear it out;
But, Norman, how wilt thou provide
A shelter for thy bonny bride?’’—