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"Four years it is since first I met,
Twixt the Duchray and the Dhu, A shape whose feet clung close in a
shroud, And that shape for thine I knew. A year again, and on Inchkeith Isle I saw thee pass in the breeze, With the cerecloth risen above thy feet
And wound about thy knees. · And yet a year, in the Links of Forth,
As a wanderer without rest, Thou cam'st with both thine arms i'
the shroud That clung high up thy breast. · And in this hour I find thee here,
And well mine eyes may note That the winding-sheet hath passed thy
breast And risen around thy throat. “And when I meet thee again, O King,
That of death hast such sore drouth, -Except thou turn again on this shore, The winding-sheet shall have moved
And covered thine eyes and mouth. "O King, whom poor men bless for
their King, Of thy fate be not so fain ; But these my words for God's message
take, And turn thy steed, O King, for her sake
Who rides beside thy rein!” While the woman spoke, the King's
horse reared As if it would breast the sea, And the Queen turned pale as she heard
on the gale The voice die dolorously. When the woman ceased, the steed was
still, But the King gazed on her yet, And in silence save for the wail of the sea
His eyes and her eyes met. At last he said :-“God's ways are His
own: Man is but shadow and dust. Last night I prayed by His altar-stone; To-night I wend to the feast of His Son;
And in Him I set my trust. "I have held my people in sacred charge, And have not feared the sting
Of proud men's hate,-to His will resign'd Who has but one same death for a hind
And one same death for a King. · And if God in His wisdom have brought
close The day when I must die, That day by water or fire or air My feet shall fall in the destined snare
Wherever my road may lie. “What man can say but the Fiend hath
set Thy sorcery on my path, My heart with the fear of death to fill, And turn me against God's very will
To sink in His burning wrath ?”. The woman stood as the train rode past,
And moved nor limb nor eye ; And when we were shipped, we saw her
there Still standing against the sky. As the ship made way, the moon once
Sank slow in her rising pall ; And I thought of the shrouded wraith
of the King, And I said, • The Heavens know all." And now, ye lasses, must ye hear
How my name is Kate Barlass : But a little thing, when all the tale
Is told of the weary mass Of crime and woe which in Scotland's
realm God's will let come to pass. 'T was in the Charterhouse of Perth
That the King and all his Court Were met, the Christmas Feast being
done, For solace and disport. 'T was a wind-wild eve in February,
And against the casement-pane The branches smote like summoning
hands And muttered the driving rain. And when the wind swooped over the
lift And made the whole heaven frown, It seemed a grip was laid on the walls
To tug the housetop down.
And the king was loth to stir from her
side; For as on the day when she was his bride,
Even so he loved her yet.
And the Earl of Athole, the King's false
friend, Sat with him at the board ; And Robert Stuart the chamberlain
Who had sold his sovereign Lord.
And the Knight laughed, and the Queen
too smiled ; But I knew her heavy thought, And I strove to find in the good King's
jest What cheer might thence be wrought. And I said, “My Liege, for the Queen's
dear love Now sing the song that of old You made, when a captive Prince you
lay, And the nightingale sang sweet on the
spray, In Windsor's castle-hold.”
Then he smiled the smile I knew so weli
When he thought to please the Queen ; The smile which under all bitter frowns
Of hate that rose between,
Like the bird of love unseen.
And he kissed her hand and took his
harp, And the music sweetly rang; And when the song burst forth, it
seemed 'T was the nightingale that sang.
Yet the traitor Christopher Chaumber
there Would fain have told him all, And vainly four times that night he
strove To reach the King through the hall. But the wine is bright at the goblet's
brinn Though the poison lurk beneath ; And the apples still are red on the tree Within whose shade may the adder be.
That shall turn thy life to death. There was a knight of the King's fast
friends Whom he called the King of Love ; And to such bright cheer and courtesy
That name might best behove. And the King and Queen both loved
him well For his gentle knightliness ; Aud with him the King, as that eve
wore on, Was playing at the chess. And the King said, (for he thought to
jest And soothe the Queen thereby :) — “In a book 't is writ that this same year
A King shall in Scotland die. " And I have pondered the matter o'er,
And this have I found, Sir Flugh, There are but two Kings on Scottish
ground, And those Kings are I and you. “ And I have a wife and a newborn heir,
a And you are yourself alone; So stand you stark at my side with me
To guard our double throne.
“For here sit I and my wife and child,
As well your heart shall approve, Iu full surrender and soothfastness,
Beneath your Kingdom of Love."
Ah sweet, are ye a worldly creature
With wonder and beauteous things: And the harp was tuned to every change
But the song's end was all of his love;
And well his heart was grac'd With her smiling lips and her tear-bright
eyes As his arm went round her waist.
Of minstrel ministerings; But when he spoke of the Queen at the
last, Its strings were his own heart-strings. Unworthy but only of her grace, Upon Love's rock that's easy and sure, In querdon of all my She took me her humble creäture. Thus fell my blissful aventure In youth of love that from day to day Floucereth aye new, and further I say. " To reckon all the circumstance
As it happed when lessen gan my sore, Of my rancor and woful chance, It were too long, -I have done therefor.
And of this flower I say no more But unto my help her heart hath tended And even from death her man defended.” Aye, even from death,” to myself I
For I thought of the day when she Hail borne him the news, at Roxbro'
siege, Of the fell confederacy. But Death even then took aim as he sang
With an arrow deadly bright; And the grinning skull lurked grimly
aloof, And the wings were spread far over the
roof · More dark than the winter night. Yet truly along the amorous song
Of Love's high pomp and state, There were words of Fortune's trackless
doom And the dreadful face of Fate. And oft have I heard again in dreams
The voice of dire appeal In which the King then sang of the pit
That is uncler Fortune's wheel.
An ugly Pit as deep as hell,
Anul this I heard, that who therein fell
These words of the changeful song :Wist thou thy pain and thy trarà il To come, well might'st thuit weep and
wail!” And our wail, O God ! is long.
And on the swell of her long fair throat
Close clung the necklet-chain
He kissed her lips full fain.
The very red of the rose
In the summer sunlight glows. And all the wondrous things of love
That sang so sweet through the song Were in the look that met in their eyes,
And the look was deep and long. ’T was then a knock came at the outer
gate, And " The woman you met by the Scottish
Sea, My Liege, would tell you a thing; And she says that her present need for
speech Will bear no gainsaying."
And that Fate might win sure way from
afar, He had drawn out every bolt and bar
That made the entrance fast.
And yet my voice must rise to thine
ears ; But alas! it comes too late !
And now at midnight he stole his way
To the moat of the outer wall, And laid strong hurdles closely across
Where the traitors' tread should fall.
“Last night at mid-watch, by Aberdour,
When the moon was dead in the skies O King, in a death-light of thine own
I saw thy shape arise. “ And in full season, as erst I said,
The doom had gained its growth; And the shroud had risen above this neck
And covered thine eyes and mouth,
But we that were the Queen's bower
maids Alone were left behind; And with heed we drew the curtains
close Against the winter wind. And now that all was still through the
hall, More clearly we heard the rain That clamored ever against the glass
And the boughs that beat on the pane. But the fire was bright in the ingle-nook,
And through empty space around The shadows cast on the arras'd wall 'Mid the pictured kings stood sudden and
tali Like spectres sprung from the ground. And the bed was dight in a deep alcove;
And as he stood by the fire The king was still in talk with the Queen
While he doffed his goodly attire. And the song had brought the image
back Of many a bygone year; And many a loving word they said With hand in hand and head laid to
head; And none of us went anear. But Love was weeping outside the house,
A child in the piteous rain ; And as he watched the arrow of Death, He wailed for his own shafts close in the
sheath That never should fly again. And now beneath the window arose
A wild voice suddenly : And the King reared straight, but the
Queen fell back As for bitter dule to dree; And all of us knew the woman's voice
Who spoke by the Scottish Sea. " () King,” she cried, “in an evil hour
They drove me from thy gate;
· And no moon woke, but the pale dawni
broke, And still thy soul stood there ; And I thought its silence cried to my
soul As the first rays crowned its hair. · Since then have I journeyed fast and
fain In very despite of Fate, Lest Hope might still be found in Gols
will: But they drove me from thy gate. * For every man on God's ground, 0
King, His death grows up from his birth In a shadow-plant perpetually; And thine towers high, a black ye
tree, O'er the Charterhouse of Perth!"
That room was built far out from th:
house; And none but we in the room Might hear the voice that rose beneath,
Nor the tread of the coming doom. For now there came a torchlight-glare,
And a clang of arms there came; And not a soul in that space but thought
Of the foe Sir Robert Græme. Yea, from the country of the Wild Scots,
O'er mountain, valley, and glen, He had brought with him in murderous
league Three hundred armed men. The King knew all in an instant's flasi
And like a King did he stand;
Nor weapon lay to his hand.
And thought to have made it fast:
the bolts were gone and the bars
were gone id the locks were riven and brast.
he caught the pale queen in his
arms 5 the iron footsteps fell, a loosed her, standing alone, and
said, Our bliss was our farewell!"
Then the Queen cried, " Catherine, keep
the door, And I to this will suffice!” At her word I rose all dazed to my
feet, And my heart was fire and ice. And louder ever the voices grew,
And the tramp of men in mail; Until to my brain it seemed to be As though I tossed on a ship at sea
In the teeth of a crashing gale.
We strove with sinews knit
But we might not compass it.
hall To the place of the hearthstone-sill; And the Queen bent ever above the
For the plank was rising still.
twixt his lips he murmured a
prayer, nd he crossed his brow and breast;
proudly in royal hardihood n so with folded arms he stood, the prize of the bloody quest. non me leaped the Queen like a
deer : Catherine, help!” she cried. 1 low at his feet we clasped his knees ogether side by side. h! even a King, for his people's
sake, rom treasonous death must bide !" or her sake most !” I cried, and I
marked he pang that my words would wring. I the iron tongs from the chimney.
nook snatched and held to the King :rench up the plank ! and the vault
beneath hall yield safe harboring." th brows low-bent, from my eager
hand the heavy heft did he take; d the plank at his feet he wrenched
and tore; d as he frowned through the open
floor, igain I said, “ For her sake!” en he cried to the Queen, “God's will
be done!" for her hands were clasped in prayer. i down he sprang to the inner crypt; d straight we closed the plank he had
rippu And toiled to smoothe it fair. las! in that vault a gap once was Wherethro' the King might have fled ; t three days since close-walled had it been
[therein his will; for the ball would roll When without at the palm he play'd.)
And now the rush was heard on the
stair, And God, what help?” was our cry. And was I frenzied or was I bold ? I looked at each empty stanchion-hold,
And no bar but my arm had I ! Like iron felt my arm, as through The staple I made it
pass :Alack! it was flesh and bone-no more! "T was Catherine Douglas sprang to the
door, But I fell back Kate Barlass.
With that they all thronged into the
hall, Half dim to my failing ken; And the space that was but a void before
Was a crowd of wrathful men. Behind the door I had fall'n and lay,
Yet my sense was wildly aware, And for all the pain of my shattered
arm I never fainted there. Even as I fell, my eyes were cast Where the King leaped down to the
pit; And lo! the plank was smooth in its
place. And the Queen stood far from it. And under the litters and through the
bed And within the presses all