Pieces People Ask For/Jamie Douglas
It was in the days when Claverhouse
Was scouring moor and glen,
To change, with fire and bloody sword,
The faith of Scottish men.
They had made a covenant with the Lord
Firm in their faith to bide,
Nor break to him their plighted word,
Whatever might betide.
The sun was well-nigh setting,
When o'er the heather wild,
And up the narrow mountain path,
Alone there walked a child.
He was a bonny, blithesome lad,
Sturdy and strong of limb:
A father's pride, a mother's love,
Were fast bound up in him.
His bright blue eyes glanced fearless round,
His step was firm and light:
What was it underneath' his plaid
His little hands grasped tight?
It was bannocks which, that very morn,
His mother made with care,
From out her scanty store of meal,
And now, with many a prayer,
Had sent by Jamie, her ane boy,
A trusty lad and brave,
To good old Pastor Tanxmus Roy,
Now hid in yonder cave,
And for whom the bloody Claverhouse
Had hunted long in vain,
And swore they would not leave that glen
Till old Tam Roy was slain.
So Jamie Douglas went his way
With heart that knew no fear:
He turned the great curve in the rock,
Nor dreamed that death was near.
And there were bloody Claverhouse men
Who laughed aloud with glee,
When, trembling now within their power,
The frightened child they see.
He turns to flee, but all in vain:
They drag him back apace
To where their cruel leader stands,
And set them face to face.
The cakes concealed beneath his plaid
Soon tell the story plain—
"It is old Tam Roy the cakes are for!"
Exclaimed the angry man.
"Now guide me to his hiding-place,
And I will let you go."
But Jamie shook his yellow curls,
And stoutly answered, "No!"
"I'll drop you down the mountain side,
And there upon the stones
The old gaunt wolf and carrion crow
Shall battle for your bones."
And in his brawny, strong right hand
He lifted up the child,
And held him where the clefted rocks
Formed a chasm deep and wild.
So deep it was, the trees below
Like stunted bushes seemed.
Poor Jamie looked in frightened maze.
It seemed some horrid dream.
He looked at the blue sky above,
Then at the men near by:
Had they no little boys at home,
That they could let him die?
But no one spoke, and no one stirred,
Or lifted hand to save
From such a fearful, frightful death,
The little lad so brave.
"It is woful deep!" he shuddering cried;
"But, oh! I canna tell!
So drop me down, then, if you will—
It is nae so deep as hell!"
A childish scream, a faint, dull sound—
O Jamie Douglas true!
Long, long within that lonely cave
Shall Tain Roy wait for you.
Long for your welcome coming-
Waits the mother on the moor,
And watches and calls, "Come, Jamie, lad,"
Through the half-open door.
No more adown the rocky path
You come with fearless tread,
Or, on moor or mountain, take
The good man's daily bread.
But up in heaven the shining ones
A wond'rous story tell,
Of a child snatched up from a rocky gulf
That is nae so deep as hell.
And there before the great white throne,
Forever blessed and glad,
His mother dear and old Tarn Roy
Shall meet their bonny lad.