Rose Hartwick Thorpe Picture

Rose Hartwick Thorpe

July 18, 1850 - July 19, 1939


The Luck Of Muncaster.

by Rose Hartwick Thorpe

A legend of merrie England.

Beside the crystal well she stood,
Fair Margaret, Lowther's daughter,
Clear hazel eyes smiled back at her
Up from the sparkling water.
The sunlight fell on tresses bright,
Tresses half brown, half golden,
While at her feet Lord William knelt,
And told the story olden.

An outlaw border chieftain he,
Of haughty mien and carriage,
With earnest words on bended knee
Besought her hand in marriage.
My life with thine, the lady said,
Can never be united;
To brave Sir John of Muncaster
This hand of mine is plighted.

My vengeance, cried the dark-browed Scot,
On thee, proud Lowther's daughter!
This lord of thine shall not be safe
From me on land or water!

Disdainful smiled the lady then:
Thy threats are unavailing;
While Sir John owns the sacred cup,
Mischance can ne'er assail him.

'T was Henry Sixth pronounced the charm
(A glass cup was the token),
'In Muncaster good luck shall reign
Till this charmed cup is broken!'
A hundred years the charm hath held
Its power beyond undoing;
Good luck attends Muncaster lords
In battle and in wooing.

And this the luck of Muncaster?
Said the rejected lover.
The charm hath stood a hundred years,
It shall not stand another.

Then straight to Carlisle tower he rode:
My lord, he cried, make ready,
For Douglas comes with Scottish hordes!
Each arm is strong and steady.

Prepare to give them battle now,
And mete out justice measure;
Or send some trusted messenger
For thy most valued treasure.

Small treasure have I, Sir John said,
But one in casket oaken
I fain would save from plundering hand,
Untarnished and unbroken.

Go thou and bring the gem I prize;
Thou art no foe or stranger,
Else why hast rode this weary way
To warn me of my danger?

And ere the bat had winged its flight
Across night's sable curtain
The dark-browed knight of Liddersdale
Had done the message certain.

Now, by my lady's lips, I swear,
Thy friendship is amazing,

Cried gay Sir John of Muncaster,
Into the dark face gazing.
Swear not by lips of her you love, --
You never more shall press them;
Bright are the locks of Margaret's hair, --
No more shalt thou caress them.

Exclaimed the fiery Scot in glee,
I hold the precious token
That binds good luck to thee and thine, --
That charmed spell shall be broken.
Behold I dash it to the earth!
In vain thy deepest regret;
Douglas shall win thy palace tower,
And I the lady Marg'ret.

The traitor fled; Sir John sank down
Beside the casket oaken:
O miracle! the crystal cup
Lay there unharmed, unbroken!
Two thousand soldiers came in time
To stay the Douglas slaughter,
And gay Sir John was married to
Fair Margaret, Lowther's daughter.


Ringing Ballads
Copyright 1887
D Lothrop Company,Franklin And Hawley Streets,Boston