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XXV.

The stranger viewed the shore around;
'Twas all so close with copse wood bound,
Nor track nor pathway might declare
That human foot frequented there,
Until the mountain maiden showed
A clambering unsuspected road,
That winded through the tangled screen,
And opened on a narrow green,
Where weeping birch and willow round
With their long fibres swept the ground.
Here, for retreat in dangerous hour,
Some chief had framed a rustic bower.

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XXVI.

It was a lodge of ample size,

But strange of structure and device;

Of such materials as around

The workman's hand had readiest found.

covered with a thick undergrowth of shrubbery, ferns, honeysuckle, and heather, with a few native birches and pines. The landing is in a slight recess hidden by trees. The ascent is up a steep bank, the roots of the trees forming steps in the winding path well trodden by the thousands of travellers yearly visiting this wild and romantic spot. As the traveller lingers here he recalls the events of this poem more as matters of history than the creation of the great Poet. Beautiful as are lake, isle, and "silver strand." one is glad to yield a grateful tribute to the memory of him who has invested this spot with a charm that shall endure so long as the love of knight and maiden shall interest mortals.

504. For retreat in dangerous hour. The Celtic chieftains, whose lives were continually exposed to peril, had usually, in the most retired spot of their domains, some place of retreat for the hour of necessity, which, as circumstances would admit, was a tower, a cavern, or a rustic hut, in a strong and secluded situation. One of these last gave refuge to the unfortunate Charles Edward, in his perilous wanderings after the battle of Culloden. SCOTT.-507. Device. Design.

Lopped of their boughs, their hoar trunks bared, 510
And by the hatchet rudely squared,

To give the walls their destined height,
The sturdy oak and ash unite;

While moss and clay and leaves combined

To fence each crevice from the wind.
The lighter pine-trees overhead

Their slender length for rafters spread,
And withered heath and rushes dry
Supplied a russet canopy.

Due westward, fronting to the green,
A rural portico was seen,

Aloft on native pillars borne,

Of mountain fir with bark unshorn,

Where Ellen's hand had taught to twine
The ivy and Idæan vine,

The clematis, the favored flower

Which boasts the name of virgin-bower,

And every hardy plant could bear

Loch Katrine's keen and searching air.
An instant in this porch she stayed,
And gayly to the stranger said:
“On heaven and on thy lady call,
And enter the enchanted hall!"

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XXVII.

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My hope, my heaven, my trust must be,
My gentle guide, in following thee!"-
He crossed the threshold, and a clang

Of angry steel that instant rang.

525. Idæan vine. Red whortleberry. Ida is a mountain in Crete. 528. Which could bear; relative omitted.

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To his bold brow his spirit rushed,
But soon for vain alarm he blushed,
When on the floor he saw displayed,
Cause of the din, a naked blade

Dropped from the sheath, that careless flung
Upon a stag's huge antlers swung;
For all around, the walls to grace,

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Hung trophies of the fight or chase:
A target there, a bugle here,

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A battle-axe, a hunting-spear,

And broadswords, bows, and arrows store,
With the tusked trophies of the boar.

Here grins the wolf as when he died,

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And there the wild-cat's brindled hide
The frontlet of the elk adorns,
Or mantles o'er the bison's horns;
Pennons and flags defaced and stained,
That blackening streaks of blood retained,
And deer-skins, dappled, dun, and white,
With otter's fur and seal's unite,
In rude and uncouth tapestry all,
To garnish forth the sylvan hall.

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XXVIII.

The wondering stranger round him gazed,

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And next the fallen weapon raised:

Few were the arms whose sinewy strength
Sufficed to stretch it forth at length.

And as the brand he poised and swayed,

"I never knew but one," he said,

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545. Trophies. Things taken as signs of victory. -546. Target. A small shield used for defence in battle. -556. Dun. Dark brown.

559. Garnish. Decorate or furnish.

"Whose stalwart arm might brook to wield
A blade like this in battle-field."
She sighed, then smiled and took the word:
"You see the guardian champion's sword;
As light it trembles in his hand
As in my grasp a hazel wand:

My sire's tall form might grace the part
Of Ferragus or Ascabart,

But in the absent giant's hold

Are women now, and menials old.”

XXIX.

The mistress of the mansion came,
Mature of age, a graceful dame,
Whose easy step and stately port

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566. Brook. Endure. -573. Ferragus and Ascabart. Fabled giants. 575. Menials. Servants.-578. Port. Bearing, deportment.

580. More than kindred knew. Ellen's mother being dead, she loved this Lady Margaret, her maternal aunt, as though she were her mother, and treated her as such. S. & M.

585. Unasked his birth and name. The Highlanders, who carried hospitality to a punctilious excess, are said to have considered it as churlish to ask a stranger his name or lineage, before he had taken refreshment. Feuds were so frequent among them, that a contrary rule would in many cases have produced the discovery of some circumstance which might have excluded the guest of the benefit of the assistance he stood in need of. SCOTT.

Such then the reverence to a guest,
That fellest foe might join the feast,
And from his deadliest foeman's door
Unquestioned turn, the banquet o'er.
At length his rank the stranger names,
"The Knight of Snowdoun, James Fitz-James;
Lord of a barren heritage,

Which his brave sires, from age to age,

By their good swords had held with toil
His sire had fallen in such turmoil,
And he, God wot, was forced to stand
Oit for his right with blade in hand.
This morning with Lord Moray's train
He chased a stalwart stag in vain,

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Outstripped his comrades, missed the deer,
Lost his good steed, and wandered here."

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XXX.

Fain would the Knight in turn require

The name and state of Ellen's sire.
Well showed the elder lady's mien
That courts and cities she had seen;
Ellen, though more her looks displayed
The simple grace of sylvan maid,
In speech and gesture, form and face,
Showed she was come of gentle race.
'Twas strange in ruder rank to find

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Such looks, such manners, and such mind.
Each hint the Knight of Snowdoun gave,

Dame Margaret heard with silence grave;

587. Fellest. Most cruel. 591. Snowdoun. Name of Stirling Castle. See Canto VI., line 789.592. Heritage. Inheritance.-596. Wot. Knows.

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