Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Dark Gordon's bride


Dark Gordon's Bride - John Everett Millais.png

Young Helen has heard the fatal order,
Her English lover must banish’d be,
For Gordon, Chief on the Scottish border,
Comes hither to bend the wooer’s knee.

She wildly vows to the heavens above her
She’ll wed young Nevill, whate’er betide;
But her father has banish’d her landless lover,
And the haughty chieftain claims his bride.

In after days they have met: far better
That parted lovers should meet no more,
When one is bound by that golden fetter,
With the love still warm at each true heart’s core.

So sadly he touch’d her lily finger,
Weeping she look’d on her ring of gold:
Ah, fatal thus by his side to linger!
Fatal to sigh for the days of old!

“I saw thee kneeling before the altar,
My haughty rival was by thy side,
But I could not hear thy dear voice falter
When vowing to be his faithful bride!”

“What, Nevill! can’st thou be cruel-hearted?
A father’s blessing I could not win,
Unless we two for aye were parted,—
But, O, I have wept for that deadly sin!

“Vowing to honour, I scorned and hated,
Dreaming on all I had loved and lost,
But, ah! more bitter, more darkly fated,
That ever again our paths have cross’d!”

She felt the clasp of his hand so tender,
One kiss he press’d on her cheek so fair,—
Hark to that curse! May heaven defend her!
Dark Gordon is standing before the pair!

Proudly he lifted his Scottish bonnet,
O, but his smile was dark to see:
“What ho! Sir Nevill, my life upon it,
Thou comest to win my bride from me!”

Now foot to foot, as the sun was sinking,
Both lover and husband frowning stood,
The fiery chieftain’s blade is drinking
The brave young Nevill’s knightly blood.

She tore the ring from her lily finger,
With, “Nevill, beloved, I come to thee!
In the Gordon’s halls no more I linger
If this weak hand can set me free!”

She pluck’d the dirk from her bleeding lover,
She buried it deep in her breast so white,—
With, “Nevill, beloved, our woes are over!—
To the Gordon’s thrall a glad good-night!”

The chief look’d down on the hapless lovers;—
O, but his frown was dark to see:
“I would give the best of my lands, proud Nevill,
To hold the heart thou hast lured from me!”

He knelt him down as her life was ebbing,
On the trampled heather he bent the knee;
“I would pluck the heart from my breast, false Ellen,
For one soft smile of love from thee!”

B. S. Montgomery