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OUTLINE OF CANTO FIFTH.

AFTER a hasty morning meal the two start upon their journey, and the Gael's enquiries as to the knight's object in thus venturing in these wilds without a pass from the chief lead to an interesting conversation betwixt them. Fitz-James shows that Roderick's suspicions of a war-gathering are mistaken, but hints that his preparations may possibly lead to an encounter which had not been intended. He avows his enmity against Roderick, with whom he has vowed to match himself, and expresses the keenest desire to meet "the rebel chieftain and his band." 66 Have, then, thy wish," is the reply. His companion's shrill signal makes the whole hillside bristle with armed men, who have been lying concealed among the heather and the bracken, and the guide proclaims himself the very man whom he seeks. At a fresh sign the warriors disappear as suddenly as they sprang to light, and the two pursue their course. They pass the foot of Lake Vennachar, and at last reach the ford, which is the limit of Roderick's protection. There Fitz-James must defend himself with his own sword. The Gael, to make the fight more equal, throws away his targe, and thus the science which makes the good blade both sword and shield gives the knight the advantage over his adversary. The latter, thrice severely wounded, loses his sword, but makes a final effort, and springs at his opponent's throat. Clasped in his strong arms the knight falls under him, and the issue of the fight would have been changed had not Roderick turned giddy from loss of blood and missed his aim. Poor Blanche is thus revenged. The victor winds his bugle, and four attendants come galloping to the spot. Leaving two of them to look to the wounded man, he hastes with the others back to Stirling. As they come to the castle they catch sight of the Douglas, who comes to give himself up to the king

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in the hope of liberating the Græme, and of saving Roderick from a calamitous war. On his arrival he finds the town in a bustle of preparation for the burghers' sports, and determines to take part in them, and so introduce himself to the king. He proves victor in all that he undertakes, so that the multitude begin to suspect who he is; but the king gives him the prize as to an utter stranger. All this he bears patiently; but when his hound, Ellen's playfellow, is maltreated by the king's huntsman, he can bear it no longer, and, with a sound cuff, stretches the offender on the ground, and proclaims himself and his purpose in coming. He is carried off captive to the castle. The people attempt a rescue, but are appeased by Douglas himself, and retire, though with gloomy forebodings of his fate.

While the king is brooding over the fickleness of the crowd, a messenger comes from the Earl of Mar to warn him that ClanAlpine is rising, and that he must confine his sport to guarded ground. The earl himself is gone to quell the rising, and hopes soon to encounter the foe. James sends in all speed to stay the army's march, as Roderick is already a captive, and the people must not suffer for his crimes. But the message, as will be seen, comes too late. — TAYLOR.

Canto Fifth.

THE COMBAT.

I.

FAIR as the earliest beam of eastern light,
When first, by the bewildered pilgrim spied,
It smiles upon the dreary brow of night,

And silvers o'er the torrent's foaming tide,
And lights the fearful path on mountain-side, —
Fair as that beam, although the fairest far,
Giving to horror grace, to danger pride,

Shine martial Faith, and Courtesy's bright star, Through all the wreckful storms that cloud the brow of War.

II.

That early beam, so fair and sheen,

Was twinkling through the hazel screen,
When, rousing at its glimmer red,
The warriors left their lowly bed,
Looked out upon the dappled sky,
Muttered their soldier matins by,
And then awaked their fire, to steal,
As short and rude, their soldier meal.
That o'er, the Gael around him threw

8. Martial.

10

15

Warlike.-14. Dappled. Spotted.-16. To steal their

meal. To eat hurriedly.-18. Gael. The Highlander is called Gael, and

the Lowlander Saxon.

His graceful plaid of varied hue,
And, true to promise, led the way,
By thicket green and mountain gray.
A wildering path!— they winded now
Along the precipice's brow,

Commanding the rich scenes beneath,
The windings of the Forth and Teith,
And all the vales between that lie,
Till Stirling's turrets melt in sky;
Then, sunk in copse, their farthest glance
Gained not the length of horseman's lance.
'Twas oft so steep, the foot was fain
Assistance from the hand to gain;

So tangled oft that, bursting through,
Each hawthorn shed her showers of dew, -`
That diamond dew, so pure and clear,
It rivals all but Beauty's tear!

III.

At length they came where, stern and steep,
The hill sinks down upon the deep.

Here Vennachar in silver flows,
There, ridge on ridge, Benledi rose;
Ever the hollow path twined on,

Beneath steep bank and threatening stone;
A hundred men might hold the post
With hardihood against a host.
The rugged mountain's scanty cloak
Was dwarfish shrubs of birch and oak,
With shingles bare, and cliffs between,
And patches bright of bracken green,
46. Shingles. Gravel.

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And heather black, that waved so high,
It held the copse in rivalry.

But where the lake slept deep and still,
Dank osiers fringed the swamp and hill;
And oft both path and hill were torn,
Where wintry torrent down had borne,
And heaped upon the cumbered land
Its wreck of gravel, rocks, and sand.
So toilsome was the road to trace,
The guide, abating of his pace,

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"Brave Gael, my pass, in danger tried,

Hangs in my belt and by my side;

Yet, sooth to tell," the Saxon said,

"I dreamt not now to claim its aid.

When here, but three days since, I came,
Bewildered in pursuit of game,

All seemed as peaceful and as still
As the mist slumbering on yon hill;
Thy dangerous Chief was then afar,
Nor soon expected back from war.
Thus said, at least, my mountain-guide,
Though deep perchance the villain lied.”
"Yet why a second venture try?"
"A warrior thou, and ask me why!-

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51. Dank osiers. Damp willows.

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