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Malcolm’s Ride
by Alison Bucklin


"Arise, arise, my bonny boy,
And set yersel' for flight:
An hour past the King was slain;
Ye're no' a prince this night.

Ye're no' a prince this night, lad,
Nor king shall ever be,
If he who slew your father
Should turn his hand to thee.

So I will saddle up the brown,
And ye shall have the black,
For we must ride to England;
And dinna ye look back."

They fled the darkened land across
For mile on hardpressed mile,
And seven times seven doughty men
Were on their heels the while.

And ever on the twain they rode;
It lacked an hour till dawn
When Donal cried, "My bonny boy,
I fear I canna go on!"

He fell upon the rocky ground;
The blood ran down his side.
"O, I will hold them here a while,
But onward ye must ride.

And dinna let yersel' be ta'en'
Though ye be wearied sore,
For they're the men o' the man who washed
His hands in yer father's gore.

Ride on, ride on to England,
And when ye are fu' grown,
Ye'll come again to Scotland
And claim what is your own."

The boy rode till the black horse fell,
All lamed upon a stone;
Unbridled him, and left him there,
And then ran on alone.

He came at last to a crofter's gate
When he could run no more;
"Awake! arise! and let me in,
O, do not bar your door!

Awake! arise! o let me in!
I beg your courtesy;
I'm hunted by a band of men
Who seek to murder me."

The good man rose and took the boy
And hid him in the loft,
And covered him all up with straw,
And men came to the croft.

"O, have you seen an outlaw lad
That through the hills doth flee?
An' you shall have a fine reward
If you but give him to me."

"And how old is this outlaw lad,
And wherefore does he run?"
"O, he is full nine years of age,
And treason he has done."

"O, treason is a wicked deed;
I'm sure there is no thing
That I would do to aid a man
Who would betray his King.

But I have here no traitor lad,
As ye may plainly see.
Should a one come to my croft,
I'd surely give him to thee.

But there are caves in the western hills
Where hunted men may hide;
If you would find your traitor lad
It's westward ye must ride."

The sound of their horses' hooves had died
Ere the honest crofter stood
And cried, "Come down, my little outlaw,
They are na' gone for good.

I dinna know yer name or style,
But noble ye must be,
So if ye swear to Scotland's king
Then I will succor thee."

The boy slid from beneath the straw
And, blinking in the sun,
Young Malcolm, son of Duncan, gazed
At Malcolm, Friskin's son.

"Ye little know what deed ye did
When ye protected me,
But when I come into my crown
I will remember thee.

For I am Malcolm, Duncan's son,
And Malcolm king to be,
Though Macbeth hath my father slain,
And now seeks after me.

And ye shall be the Cunninghame,
Wi, title, lands, and a',
And ye shall have the fork for arms
That covered me with straw."

Now twice ten years did pass before
Young Malcolm King became
But he remembered his true oath
And knighted Cunninghame

Copyright © 1979 Alison Bucklin


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