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Amid the strings his fingers strayed,
The old man raised his face, and smiled ;
And lightened up his faded eye,
And the Ladye had gone to her secret bower ;
No living wight, save the Ladye alone,
Had dared to cross the threshold stone.
The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all;
Knight, and page, and household squire, Loitered through the lofty hall,
Or crowded round the ample fire. The stag-hounds, weary with the chace,
Lay stretched upon the rushy floor, And urged, in dreams, the forest-race,
From Teviot-stone to Eskdale-moor.
Nine-and-twenty knights of fame
Hung their shields in Branksome Hall;
Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall
They were all knights of mettle true,
Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch,
Ten of them were sheathed in steel,
With belted sword, and spur on heel :
They lay down to rest,
Pillowed on buckler cold and hard ;
They carved at the meal
With gloves of steel, And they drank the red wine through the helmet
Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men,
Waited the beck of the warders ten;
Thirty steeds, both fleet and wight,
And with Jedwood-axe at saddle-bow;
A hundred more fed free in stall :
Such was the custom of Branksome Hall.
Why do these steeds stand ready dight ?
Lest Scroop, or Howard, or Percy's powers,
Threaten Branksome's lordly towers, From Warkworth, or Naworth,or merry Carlisle.
Such is the custom of Branksome-Hall.
Many a valiant knight is here;
Beside his broken spear.