The vacant purse shall be my share,
Which in my barrel-cap I’ll bear,
Perchance, in jeopardy of war,
Where gayer crests may keep afar.’
With thanks—’twas all she could—the maid
His rugged courtesy repaid.
When Ellen forth with Lewis went,
Allan made suit to John of Brent:—
’My lady safe, O let your grace
Give me to see my master’s face!
His minstrel I,—to share his doom
Bound from the cradle to the tomb.
Tenth in descent, since first my sires
Waked for his noble house their Iyres,
Nor one of all the race was known
But prized its weal above their own.
With the Chief’s birth begins our care;
Our harp must soothe the infant heir,
Teach the youth tales of fight, and grace
His earliest feat of field or chase;
In peace, in war, our rank we keep,
We cheer his board, we soothe his sleep,
Nor leave him till we pour our verse—
A doleful tribute!—o’er his hearse.
Then let me share his captive lot;
It is my right,—deny it not!’
‘Little we reck,’ said John of Brent,
’We Southern men, of long descent;
Nor wot we how a name—a word—
Makes clansmen vassals to a lord:
Yet kind my noble landlord’s part,—
God bless the house of Beaudesert!
And, but I loved to drive the deer
More than to guide the labouring steer,
I had not dwelt an outcast here.
Come, good old Minstrel, follow me;
Thy Lord and Chieftain shalt thou see.’
Then, from a rusted iron hook,
A bunch of ponderous keys he took,
Lighted a torch, and Allan led
Through grated arch and passage dread.
Portals they passed, where, deep within,
Spoke prisoner’s moan and fetters’ din;
Through rugged vaults, where, loosely stored,
Lay wheel, and axe, and headsmen’s sword,
And many a hideous engine grim,
For wrenching joint and crushing limb,
By artists formed who deemed it shame
And sin to give their work a name.
They halted at a Iow-browed porch,
And Brent to Allan gave the torch,
While bolt and chain he backward rolled,
And made the bar unhasp its hold.
They entered:—’twas a prison-room
Of stern security and gloom,
Yet not a dungeon; for the day
Through lofty gratings found its way,
And rude and antique garniture
Decked the sad walls and oaken floor,
Such as the rugged days of old
Deemed fit for captive noble’s hold.
‘Here,’ said De Brent, ’thou mayst remain
Till the Leech visit him again.
Strict is his charge, the,warders tell,
To tend the noble prisoner well.’
Retiring then the bolt he drew,
And the lock’s murmurs growled anew.
Roused at the sound, from lowly bed
A captive feebly raised his head.
The wondering Minstrel looked, and knew—
Not his dear lord, but Roderick Dhu!
For, come from where Clan-Alpine fought,
They, erring, deemed the Chief he sought.