Through the grey summer dawn up the shores the cry hath
"Paul Jones comes, yonder is his sail;"
And startled mothers prest their babies to their breast,
And the manliest cheeks turned to pale.
With the sou'-west blowing strong, he hath wrestled all
And the breakers roaring white upon his lee,
Now with flow of morning tide from the Atlantic wide
He is setting for our inland sea.
As from mountain-tops amain stoops the eagle to the plain,
See, with every stitch of sail unfurled,
He sweeps past Ailsa Craig with the sable pirate flag
Bearing death, from the western world.
Sheer on—he is bearing down on the little harbour town,
That crouched in its sheltered bay cloth lie;
Will he try if the roof of Kilmahoe be proof
To his guns, as he sweepeth by?
Yet what seeks he here? Is his tackle out of gear?
Is he tempest-maimed, mast or yard?
What can our small port give, where only poor men live,
To fix this cruel man' s regard?
Like men of reason reft, the fisher-folk have left
Their boats and their nets to the waves,
And are up wi' wives and bairns among the mountain
The corries and dank dripping caves.
And all the harbour bay is tumult and deray,
Men and women hurrying here and there; '
Some to cellars underground, and some have refuge found,
High aloof on the uplands bare.
Yon veterans on the steep, by the ruined castle-keep,
With their rusty guns how crousely they craw!
"Let the pirate show his beak this side the island peak,
How his Yankee kaim we will claw! "
But at bonny Kilmahoe, will they stay? will they go?
What is doing at the old farm toun?
Men stand agape and stare, lasses skirt and rive their hair;
That's what they're doing, lass and loon.
But the lone lady fair, with braided silver hair,
Down has steppit, when she heard the din,
"Do ye think that ye will flout, wi' your senseless roar and
Paul Jones from his entering in?
'Twere better lads, belyve, that ye should rise and drive
The kye and calves to the burnie clench;
And lasses, screech na here, but haste and hide our gear,
In the house, atweel, there is wark eneuch."
Then up the stair she stept to where her bairnies slept
In an upper chamber ben.
"Now, Flory! haste thee, flee, wi' my bonnie bairnies
To the hills frae thae rover men.
There tide what may, they'll be safe a' day
I' the how o' the brackeny glen."
Up the long broomy loan, wi' mickle dool and moan
And out upon the hillside track,
Nurse Flory forward bent, crooning as she went,
With the wee balm clinging on her back.
But Moira hand in hand with Marion forward ran,
Nor dool nor any care had they,
But they chased the heather bee, and they sang aloud for
As they hied up the mountain way:
When the hill-top they had clomb, one glance back to their
And awesome was the sight that they saw;
Close in shore the pirate bark on the bright sea looming
On their little hearts fell fear and awe.
One quick glance at the ship, and o'er the edge they dip,
And down to the long glen run;
Where the burnie gleams between its braes o' bracken
And one lone sheiling reeks i' the sun.
But down at Kilmahoe all was hurrying to and fro,
And stowing away of the gear,
And the lady's self bare forth the things of choicest worth,
The heirlooms that her husband held dear.
And she dug for them a tomb beneath the snowy bloom
Of the old pear tree's hugest arm,
As tho' that giant of his race, the patriarch of the place,
By power of immemorial charm,
Girt the whole orchard ground with a magic safety round,
And screened all within from harm.
"What can be done is done, weel ye've borne your part,
To her elder daughters twain spake she,—
"Now ye maun climb outright to Crochnachaorach height,
And see what the end will be.
For me, I will abide my gude auld house beside,
While my house bides by me."
From that knowe in long suspense, with eager eyes intense,
They watch the dark hull heave to and fro,
As if through the harbour mouth, that opens on the south,
She would go, and yet would not go,
O'er her purpose pausing, like a falcon poised to strike,
Yet hovering ere he stoop below.
But the breeze sprung up off shore, and round the great
With her head to the Atlantic main,
As the falcon down the wind sudden wheels, and far
Leaves his quarry, to return no more again.
From many a hidden nook, from many a high outlook,
Straining eyes westward long were bent
On the dim tower of sail, with the evening fading pale,
Where the ocean with the heaven was blent.
Let them gaze, there is one cannot gaze till all be done,
She hath taken all unseen her way,
The lady, through the still of the twilight up the hill,
Where her heart hath been yearning all the day.
And there, out owre the knowes, hair streamed back from
And the mountain flush bright upon her cheek,
Came Moira, and her face plunged deep in that embrace—
And then Marion, too full at heart to speak.
Last of all, the lady prest her wee bairn to her breast,
And their hearts of joy had their fill;
As the covey to the call of moor-hen meets at fall
Of gloamin', when the fowler leaves the hill.
Forth at morn they went and weeped, and joy at eve they
Yea, the day's pain, if tenfold more,
In the meeting of the night had found harvest of delight,
That repaid it o'er and o'er.
They who then were little ones, of the coming of Paul
And the fray of that affrighted morn,
Shall tell, as grey-haired dames, by yet unlit ingle flames,
To children that are yet to be born.
But what strange impulse bore to this secluded shore ,
That bark, none ever will make plain;
Nor what sudden fear had sway to waft him west away
Back to night and the Atlantic main.