Your own good blades must win the rest.”
Pent in this fortress of the North,
Think’st thou we will not sally forth,
To spoil the spoiler as we may,
And from the robber rend the prey?
Ay, by my soul!—While on yon plain
The Saxon rears one shock of grain,
While of ten thousand herds there strays
But one along yon river’s maze,—
The Gael, of plain and river heir,
Shall with strong hand redeem his share.
Where live the mountain Chiefs who hold
That plundering Lowland field and fold
Is aught but retribution true?
Seek other cause ‘gainst Roderick Dhu.’
Answered Fitz-James: ’And, if I sought,
Think’st thou no other could be brought?
What deem ye of my path waylaid?
My life given o’er to ambuscade?’
’As of a meed to rashness due:
Hadst thou sent warning fair and true,—
I seek my hound or falcon strayed,
I seek, good faith, a Highland maid,—
Free hadst thou been to come and go;
But secret path marks secret foe.
Nor yet for this, even as a spy,
Hadst thou, unheard, been doomed to die,
Save to fulfil an augury.’
’Well, let it pass; nor will I now
Fresh cause of enmity avow
To chafe thy mood and cloud thy brow.
Enough, I am by promise tied
To match me with this man of pride:
Twice have I sought Clan-Alpine’s glen
In peace; but when I come again,
I come with banner, brand, and bow,
As leader seeks his mortal foe.
For love-lore swain in lady’s bower
Ne’er panted for the appointed hour
As I, until before me stand
This rebel Chieftain and his band!’
’Have then thy wish!’—He whistled
And he was answered from the hill;
Wild as the scream of the curlew,
From crag to crag the signal flew.
Instant, through copse and heath, arose
Bonnets and spears and bended bows
On right, on left, above, below,
Sprung up at once the lurking foe;
From shingles gray their lances start,
The bracken bush sends forth the dart,
The rushes and the willow-wand
Are bristling into axe and brand,
And every tuft of broom gives life
’To plaided warrior armed for strife.
That whistle garrisoned the glen
At once with full five hundred men,
As if the yawning hill to heaven
A subterranean host had given.
Watching their leader’s beck and will,
All silent there they stood and still.
Like the loose crags whose threatening mass
Lay tottering o’er the hollow pass,
As if an infant’s touch could urge
Their headlong passage down the verge,
With step and weapon forward flung,
Upon the mountain-side they hung.
The Mountaineer cast glance of pride
Along Benledi’s living side,
Then fixed his eye and sable brow
Full on Fitz-James: ’How say’st thou now?
These are Clan-Alpine’s warriors true;
And, Saxon,—I am Roderick Dhu!’