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And, spreading broad its wavering light,
Shakes its loose tresses on the night?

Is yon red glare the western star?—

O, 'tis the beacon-blaze of war!

Scarce could she draw her tightened breath,

For well she knew the fire of death!

XXVI.

The Warder viewed it blazing strong,
And blew his war-note loud and long,
Till, at the high and haughty sound,
Rock, wood, and river, rung around.
The blast alarmed the festal hall,
And startled forth the warriors all;
Far downward, in the castle-yard,

Full many a torch and cresset glared;
And helms and plumes, confusedly tossed,
Were in the blaze half-seen, half-lost;
And spears in wild disorder shook,

Like reeds beside a frozen brook.

XXVII.

The Seneschal, whose silver hair

Was reddened by the torches' glare,
Stood in the midst, with gesture proud,
And issued forth his mandates loud.-

"On Penchryst glows a bale✶ of fire,

And three are kindling on Priesthaughswire;

Ride out, ride out,

The foe to scout!

Mount, mount for Branksome, † every man!

Thou, Todrig, warn the Johnstone clan,

That ever are true and stout.

Ye need not send to Liddesdale;

For, when they see the blazing bale,
Elliots and Armstrongs never fail.—
Ride, Alton, ride, for death and life!
And warn the warden of the strife.

Young Gilbert, let our beacon blaze,

Our kin, and clan, and friends, to raise."

Bale, beacon-faggot.

+ Mount for Branksome was the gathering word of the Scotts.

XXVIII.

Fair Margaret, from the turret head,

Heard, far below, the coursers' tread,
While loud the harness rung,

As to their seats, with clamour dread,
The ready horsemen sprung;

And trampling hoofs, and iron coats,
And leaders' voices, mingled notes,

And out! and out!

In hasty route,

The horsemen galloped forth; Dispersing to the south to scout,

And east, and west, and north,

To view their coming enemies,

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And ruddy blushed the heaven:

For a sheet of flame, from the turret high,

Waved like a blood-flag on the sky,

All flaring and uneven;

And soon a score of fires, I ween,

From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen; Each with warlike tidings fraught;

Each from each the signal caught;

Each after each they glanced to sight,

As stars arise upon the night.

They gleamed on many a dusky tarn,*
Haunted by the lonely earn;

On many a cairn's gray pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid;
Till high Dunedin the blazes saw,
From Soltra and Dumpender Law;

And Lothian heard the Regent's order,

That all should bowne || them for the Border.

* Tarn, a mountain lake. Cairn, a pile of stones.

+ Earn, a Scottish eagle. || Bowne, make ready.

XXX.

The livelong night in Branksome rang

The ceaseless sound of steel;

The castle-bell, with backward clang,
Sent forth the larum peal;

Was frequent heard the heavy jar,
Where massy stone and iron bar

Were piled on echoing keep and tower,
To whelm the foe with deadly shower;
Was frequent heard the changing guard,
And watch-word from the sleepless ward;
While, wearied by the endless din,
Blood-hound and ban-dog yelled within.

XXXI.

The noble Dame, amid the broil,

Shared the gray Seneschal's high toil,

And spoke of danger with a smile;

Cheered the young knights, and council sage

Held with the chiefs of riper age.

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