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Title: Hunted and Harried
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hunted and Harried" ***

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On a brilliant summer morning in the last quarter of the seventeenth
century a small troop of horsemen crossed the ford of the river Cairn,
in Dumfriesshire, not far from the spot where stands the little church
of Irongray, and, gaining the road on the western bank of the stream,
wended their way towards the moors and uplands which lie in the
neighbourhood of Skeoch Hill.

The dragoons, for such they were, trotted rapidly along the road that
led into the solitudes of the hills, with all the careless dash of men
whose interests are centred chiefly on the excitements of the passing
hour, yet with the unflagging perseverance of those who have a fixed
purpose in view--their somewhat worn aspect and the mud with which they
were bespattered, from jack-boot to iron headpiece, telling of a long
ride over rugged ground.

The officer in command of the party rode a little in advance.  Close
behind him followed two troopers, one of whom was a burly middle-aged
man with a stern, swarthy countenance; the other a youth whose tall
frame was scarcely, if at all, less powerful than that of his
comrade-in-arms, though much more elegant in form, while his youthful
and ruddy, yet masculine, countenance suggested that he must at that
time have been but a novice in the art of war.

This youth alone, of all the party, had a somewhat careworn and sad
expression on his brow.  It could hardly have been the result of
fatigue, for there was more of ease and vigour in his carriage than in
that of any of his companions.

"We should be near the river by this time, Glendinning," said the leader
of the party, reining in and addressing the swarthy trooper.

"Ay, sir, the Cluden rins jist ayont the turn o' the road there,"
replied the man.  "Ye'll hear the roar o' the fa' in a meenit or twa."

Even as he spoke the dull growl of a cataract was heard, and, a few
minutes later, the party came upon the ford of the river.

It was situated not many yards below the picturesque waterfall, which is
now spanned by the Routen Bridge, but which, at that time, was
unbridged--at all events, if a bridge had previously existed, it had
fallen in or been carried away--and the wild gorge was impassable.

The sound of the fall alone told of its vicinity, for a dense mass of
foliage hid it completely from the troopers' view until they had
surmounted the steep bank on the other side of the stream.

"Are you well acquainted with this man Black?" asked the leader of the
party as they emerged from the thick belt of trees and shrubs by which
the Cluden was shaded, and continued their journey on the more open
ground beyond.

"I ken him weel, sir," answered the trooper.  "Andrew Black was an auld
freend o' mine, an' a big, stoot, angry man he is--kindly disposed, nae
doot, when ye let him alane, but a perfe't deevil incarnate when he's
roosed.  He did me an ill turn ance that I've no paid him off for

"I suppose, then," said the officer, "that your guiding us so willingly
to his cottage is in part payment of this unsettled debt?"

"Maybe it is," replied the trooper grimly.

"They say," continued the other, "that there is some mystery about the
man; that somehow nobody can catch him.  Like an eel he has slipped
through our fellows' fingers and disappeared more than once, when they
thought they had him quite safe.  It is said that on one occasion he
managed even to give the slip to Claverhouse himself, which, you know,
is not easy."

"That may be, sir, but he'll no slip through my fingers gin I ance git a
grup o' his thrapple," said the swarthy man, with a revengeful look.

"We must get a grip of him somehow," returned the officer, "for it is
said that he is a sly helper of the rebels--though it is as difficult to
convict as to catch him; and as this gathering, of which our spies have
brought information, is to be in the neighbourhood of his house, he is
sure to be mixed up with it."

"Nae doot o' that, sir, an' so we may manage to kill twa birds wi' ae
stane.  But I'm in a diffeeculty noo, sir, for ye ken I'm no acquaint
wi' this country nae farer than the Cluden ford, an' here we hae come to
a fork i' the road."

The party halted as he spoke, while the perplexed guide stroked his
rather long nose and looked seriously at the two roads, or bridle-paths,
into which their road had resolved itself, and each of which led into
very divergent parts of the heathclad hills.

This guide, Glendinning, had become acquainted with Black at a time when
the latter resided in Lanarkshire, and, as he had just said, was
unacquainted with the region through which they now travelled beyond the
river Cluden.  After a short conference the officer in command decided
to divide the party and explore both paths.

"You will take one man, Glendinning, and proceed along the path to the
right," he said; "I will try the left.  If you discover anything like a
house or cot within a mile or two you will at once send your comrade
back to let me know, while you take up your quarters in the cottage and
await my coming.  Choose whom you will for your companion."

"I choose Will Wallace, then," said Glendinning, with a nod to the young
trooper whom we have already introduced.

The youth did not seem at all flattered by the selection, but of course
obeyed orders with military promptitude, and followed his comrade for
some time in silence, though with a clouded brow.

"It seems to me," said the swarthy trooper, as they drew rein and
proceeded up a steep ascent at a walk, "that ye're no' sae pleased as ye
might be wi' the wark we hae on hand."

"Pleased!" exclaimed the youth, whose tone and speech seemed to indicate
him an Englishman, "how can I be pleased when all I have been called on
to do since I enlisted has been to aid and abet in robbery, cruelty, and
murder?  I honour loyalty and detest rebellion as much as any man in the
troop, but if I had known what I now know I would never have joined

Glendinning gazed at his companion in amazement.  Having been absent on
detached service when Will Wallace had joined--about three weeks
previously--he was ignorant both as to his character and his recent
experiences.  He had chosen him on the present occasion simply on
account of his youth and magnificent physique.

"I doot I've made a mistake in choosin' _you_," said Glendinning with
some asperity, after a few moments, "but it's ower late noo to
rectifee't.  What ails ye, lad?  What hae ye seen?"

"I have seen what I did not believe possible," answered the other with
suppressed feeling.  "I have seen a little boy tortured with the
thumbscrews, pricked with bayonets, and otherwise inhumanly treated
because he would not, or could not, tell where his father was.  I have
seen a man hung up to a beam by his thumbs because he would not give up
money which perhaps he did not possess.  I have seen a woman tortured by
having lighted matches put between her fingers because she would not, or
could not, tell where a conventicle was being held.  I did not, indeed,
see the last deed actually done, else would I have cut down the coward
who did it.  The poor thing had fainted and the torture was over when I
came upon them.  Only two days ago I was ordered out with a party who
pillaged the house of a farmer because he refused to take an oath of
allegiance, which seems to have been purposely so worded as to make
those who take it virtually bondslaves to the King, and which makes him
master of the lives, properties, and consciences of his subjects--and
all this done in the King's name and by the King's troops!"

"An' what pairt did _you_ tak' in these doin's?" asked Glendinning with
some curiosity.

"I did my best to restrain my comrades, and when they were burning the
hayricks, throwing the meal on the dunghill, and wrecking the property
of the farmer, I cut the cords with which they had bound the poor fellow
to his chair and let him go free."

"Did onybody see you do that?"

"I believe not; though I should not have cared if they had.  I'm
thoroughly disgusted with the service.  I know little or nothing of the
principles of these rebels--these fanatics, as you call them--but
tyranny or injustice I cannot stand, whether practised by a king or a
beggar, and I am resolved to have nothing more to do with such fiendish

"Young man," said the swarthy comrade in a voice of considerable
solemnity, "ye hae obviously mista'en your callin'.  If you werena new
to thae pairts, ye would ken that the things ye objec' to are quite
common.  Punishin' an' harryin' the rebels and fanatics--_Covenanters_,
they ca' theirsels--has been gaun on for years ower a' the land.  In my
opeenion it's weel deserved, an' naething that ye can do or say wull
prevent it, though what ye do an' say is no' unlikely to cut short yer
ain career by means o' a rope roond yer thrapple.  But losh! man, I
wonder ye haena heard about thae matters afore now."

"My having spent the last few years of my life in an out-of-the-way part
of Ireland may account for that," said Wallace.  "My father's recent
death obliged my mother to give up her farm and return to her native
town of Lanark, where she now lives with a brother.  Poverty and the
urgency of a cousin have induced me, unfortunately, to take service with
the dragoons."

"After what ye've said, hoo am I to coont on yer helpin' me e'noo?"
asked Glendinning.

"As long as I wear the King's uniform you may count on my obeying orders
unless I am commanded to break the plainest laws of God," answered the
young man.  "As our present business is only to discover the cottage of
Andrew Black, there seems likely to be no difficulty between us just

"H'm!  I'm no' sure o' that; but if ye'll tak' my advice, lad, ye'll
haud yer tongue aboot thae matters.  If Clavers heard the half o' what
ye've said to me, he'd send ye into the next warl' withoot gieing ye
time to say yer prayers.  Freedom of speech is no permitted at the
present time in Scotland--unless it be the right kind of speech, and--"

He stopped, for at that moment two young girls suddenly appeared at a
bend of the road in front of them.  They gazed for a moment at the
soldiers in evident surprise, and then turned as if to fly, but
Glendinning put spurs to his horse and was beside them in a moment.
Leaping to the ground, he seized the girls roughly by their arms as they
clung together in alarm.  One of the two was a dark-eyed little child.
The other was fair, unusually pretty, and apparently about fifteen or
sixteen years of age.

The trooper proceeded to question them sharply.

"Be gentle," said Will Wallace sternly, as he rode up, and, also
dismounting, stood beside them.  "No fear of their running away now."

The swarthy trooper pretended not to hear, but nevertheless relaxed his
grip and merely rested his hand upon the fair girl's shoulder as he said
to the other--

"Now, my wee doo, ye canna be far frae hame, I's be sworn.  What's yer

"Aggie Wilson," answered the child at once.

"And yours?"

"Jean Black," replied the blonde timidly.

"Oho! an' yer faither's name is Andrew, an' his hoose is close by, I'll
be bound, so ye'll be guid eneuch to show us the way till't.  But first,
my bonny lass, ye'll gie me a--"

Slipping his arm round the waist of the terrified blonde, the trooper
rudely attempted to terminate his sentence in a practical manner; but
before his lips could touch her face he received a blow from his comrade
that sent him staggering against a neighbouring tree.

Blazing with astonishment and wrath, Glendinning drew his sword and
sprang at his companion, who, already full of indignation at the memory
of what he had been so recently compelled to witness, could ill brook
the indignity thus offered to the defenceless girl.  His weapon flashed
from its sheath on the instant, and for a few moments the two men cut
and thrust at each other with savage ferocity.  Wallace, however, was
too young and unused to mortal strife to contemplate with indifference
the possibility of shedding the blood of a comrade.  Quickly recovering
himself, he stood entirely on the defensive, which his vigorous activity
enabled him easily to do.  Burning under the insult he had received,
Glendinning felt no such compunctions.  He pushed his adversary
fiercely, and made a lunge at last which not only passed the sword
through the left sleeve of the youth's coat, but slightly wounded his
arm.  Roused to uncontrollable anger by this, Will Wallace fetched his
opponent a blow so powerful that it beat down his guard, rang like a
hammer on his iron headpiece, and fairly hurled the man into the ditch
at the roadside.

Somewhat alarmed at this sudden result, the youth hastily pulled him
out, and, kneeling beside him, anxiously examined his head.  Much to his
relief he found that there was no wound at all, and that the man was
only stunned.  After the examination, Wallace observed that the girls
had taken advantage of the fray to make their escape.

Indignation and anger having by that time evaporated, and his judgment
having become cool, Wallace began gradually to appreciate his true
position, and to feel exceedingly uncomfortable.  He had recklessly
expressed opinions and confessed to actions which would of themselves
ensure his being disgraced and cast into prison, if not worse; he had
almost killed one of his own comrades, and had helped two girls to
escape who could probably have assisted in the accomplishment of the
duty on which they had been despatched.  His case, he suddenly
perceived, was hopeless, and he felt that he was a lost man.

Will Wallace was quick of thought and prompt in action.  Carefully
disposing the limbs of his fallen comrade, and resting his head
comfortably on a grassy bank, he cast a hurried glance around him.

On his left hand and behind him lay the rich belt of woodland that
marked the courses of the rivers Cluden and Cairn.  In front stretched
the moors and hills of the ancient district of Galloway, at that time
given over to the tender mercies of Graham of Claverhouse.  Beside him
stood the two patient troop-horses, gazing quietly at the prostrate man,
as if in mild surprise at his unusual stillness.

Beyond this he could not see with the physical eye; but with the mental
orb he saw a dark vista of ruined character, blighted hopes, and dismal
prospects.  The vision sufficed to fix his decision.  Quietly, like a
warrior's wraith, he sheathed his sword and betook himself to the covert
of the peat-morass and the heather hill.

He was not the first good man and true who had sought the same shelter.

At the time of which we write Scotland had for many years been in a
woeful plight--with tyranny draining her life-blood, cupidity grasping
her wealth, hypocrisy and bigotry misconstruing her motives and
falsifying her character.  Charles the Second filled the throne.
Unprincipled men, alike in Church and State, made use of their position
and power to gain their own ends and enslave the people.  The King,
determined to root out Presbytery from Scotland, as less subservient to
his despotic aims, and forcibly to impose Prelacy on her as a
stepping-stone to Popery, had no difficulty in finding ecclesiastical
and courtly bravos to carry out his designs; and for a long series of
dismal years persecution stalked red-handed through the land.

Happily for the well-being of future generations, our covenanting
forefathers stood their ground with Christian heroism, for both civil
and religious liberty were involved in the struggle.  Their so-called
fanaticism consisted in a refusal to give up the worship of God after
the manner dictated by conscience and practised by their forefathers; in
declining to attend the ministry of the ignorant, and too often vicious,
curates forced upon them; and in refusing to take the oath of allegiance
just referred to by Will Wallace.

Conventicles, as they were called--or the gathering together of
Christians in houses and barns, or on the hillsides, to worship God--
were illegally pronounced illegal by the King and Council; and
disobedience to the tyrannous law was punished with imprisonment,
torture, confiscation of property, and death.  To enforce these
penalties the greater part of Scotland--especially the south and west--
was overrun by troops, and treated as if it were a conquered country.
The people--holding that in some matters it is incumbent to "obey God
rather than man," and that they were bound "not to forsake the
assembling of themselves together"--resolved to set the intolerable law
at defiance, and went armed to the hill-meetings.

They took up arms at first, however, chiefly, if not solely, to protect
themselves from a licentious soldiery, who went about devastating the
land, not scrupling to rob and insult helpless women and children, and
to shed innocent blood.  Our Scottish forefathers, believing--in common
with the lower animals and lowest savages--that it was a duty to defend
their females and little ones, naturally availed themselves of the best
means of doing so.

About this time a meeting, or conventicle, of considerable importance
was appointed to be held among the secluded hills in the neighbourhood
of Irongray; and Andrew Black, the farmer, was chosen to select the
particular spot, and make the preliminary arrangements.

Now this man Black is not easily described, for his was a curiously
compound character.  To a heart saturated with the milk of human
kindness was united a will more inflexible, if possible, than that of a
Mexican mule; a frame of Herculean mould, and a spirit in which profound
gravity and reverence waged incessant warfare with a keen appreciation
of the ludicrous.  Peacefully inclined in disposition, with a tendency
to believe well of all men, and somewhat free and easy in the formation
of his opinions, he was very unwilling to resist authority; but the love
of truth and justice was stronger within him than the love of peace.

In company with his shepherd, Quentin Dick--a man of nearly his own size
and build--Andrew Black proceeded to a secluded hollow in Skeoch Hill to
gather and place in order the masses of rock which were to form the
seats of the communicants at the contemplated religious gathering--which
seats remain to this day in the position they occupied at that time, and
are familiarly known in the district as "the Communion stones of



The night was dark and threatening when Andrew Black and his shepherd
left their cottage, and quickly but quietly made for the neighbouring
hill.  The weather was well suited for deeds of secrecy, for gusts of
wind, with an occasional spattering of rain, swept along the hill-face,
and driving clouds obscured the moon, which was then in its first

At first the two men were obliged to walk with care, for the light was
barely sufficient to enable them to distinguish the sheep-track which
they followed, and the few words they found it necessary to speak were
uttered in subdued tones.  Jean Black and her cousin Aggie Wilson had
reported their _rencontre_ with the two dragoons, and Quentin Dick had
himself seen the main body of the troops from behind a heather bush on
his way back to the farm, therefore caution was advisable.  But as they
climbed Skeoch Hill, and the moon shed a few feeble rays on their path,
they began to converse more freely.  For a few minutes their intercourse
related chiefly to sheep and the work of the farm, for both Andrew and
his man were of that sedate, imperturbable nature which is not easily
thrown off its balance by excitement or danger.  Then their thoughts
turned to the business in hand.

"Nae fear o' the sodgers comin' here on a nicht like this," remarked
Andrew, as a squall nearly swept the blue bonnet off his head.

"Maybe no," growled Quentin Dick sternly, "but I've heard frae Tam
Chanter that servants o' that Papist Earl o' Nithsdale, an' o' the
scoondrel Sir Robert Dalziel, hae been seen pokin' their noses aboot at
Irongray.  If they git wund o' the place, we're no likely to hae a quiet
time o't.  Did ye say that the sodgers ill-used the bairns?"

"Na!--ane o' them was inclined to be impident, but the ither, a
guid-lookin' young felly, accordin' to Jean, took their pairt an'
quarrelled wi' his comrade, sae that they cam to loggerheeds at last,
but what was the upshot naebody kens, for the bairns took to their heels
an' left them fechtin'."

"An' what if they sud fin' yer hoose an' the bairns unproteckit?" asked
the shepherd.

"They're no likely to fin' the hoose in a nicht like this, man; an' if
they do, they'll fin' naebody but Ramblin' Peter there, for I gied the
lassies an' the women strick orders to tak' to the hidy-hole at the
first soond o' horses' feet."

By this time the men had reached a secluded hollow in the hill, so
completely enclosed as to be screened from observation on all sides.
They halted here a few moments, for two dark forms were seen in the
uncertain light to be moving about just in front of them.

"It's them," whispered Andrew.

"Whae?" asked the shepherd.

"Alexander McCubine an' Edward Gordon."

"Guid an' safe men baith," responded Quentin; "ye better gie them a

Andrew did so by imitating the cry of a plover.  It was replied to at

"The stanes are big, ye see," explained Andrew, while the two men were
approaching.  "It'll tak' the strength o' the fowr o' us to lift some o'

"We've got the cairn aboot finished," said McCubine as he came up.  He
spoke in a low voice, for although there was no probability of any one
being near, they were so accustomed to expect danger because of the
innumerable enemies who swarmed about the country, that caution had
almost become a second nature.

Without further converse the four men set to work in silence.  They
completed a circular heap, or cairn, of stones three or four feet high,
and levelled the top thereof to serve as a table or a pulpit at the
approaching assembly.  In front of this, and stretching towards a
sloping brae, they arranged four rows of very large stones to serve as
seats for the communicants, with a few larger stones between them, as if
for the support of rude tables of plank.  It took several hours to
complete the work.  When it was done Andrew Black surveyed it with
complacency, and gave it as his opinion that it was a "braw kirk,
capable o' accommodatin' a congregation o' some thoosands, mair or
less."  Then the two men, Gordon and McCubine, bidding him and the
shepherd good-night, went away into the darkness from which they had

"Whar'll they be sleepin' the nicht?" asked the shepherd, as he and
Andrew turned homeward.

"I' the peat-bog, I doot, for I daurna tak' them hame whan the dragoons
is likely to gie us a ca'; besides, the hidy-hole wull be ower fu' soon.
Noo, lad," he added, as they surmounted a hillock, from which they had
a dim view of the surrounding country, "gang ye doon an' see if ye can
fin' oot onything mair aboot thae sodgers.  I'll awa' hame an see that
a's right there."

They parted, the shepherd turning sharp off to the right, while the
farmer descended towards his cottage.  He had not advanced above half
the distance when an object a little to the left of his path induced him
to stop.  It resembled a round stone, and was too small to have
attracted the attention of any eye save one which was familiar with
every bush and stone on the ground.  Grasping a stout thorn stick which
he carried, Andrew advanced towards the object in question with catlike
caution until quite close to it, when he discovered that it was the head
of a man who was sleeping soundly under a whin-bush.  A closer
inspection showed that the man wore an iron headpiece, a soldier's coat,
and huge jack-boots.

"A dragoon and a spy!" thought Andrew, while he raised his cudgel, the
only weapon he carried, and frowned.  But Andrew was a merciful man; he
could not bring himself to strike a sleeping man, even though waking him
might entail a doubtful conflict, for he could see that the trooper's
hand grasped the hilt of his naked sword.  For a few moments he surveyed
the sleeper, as if calculating his chances, then he quietly dropped his
plaid, took off his coat, and untying his neckcloth, laid it carefully
on one side over a bush.  Having made these preparations, he knelt
beside Will Wallace--for it was he--and grasped him firmly by the throat
with both hands.

As might have been expected, the young trooper attempted to spring up,
and tried to use his weapon; but, finding this to be impossible at such
close quarters, he dropped it, and grappled the farmer with all his
might; but Andrew, holding on to him like a vice, placed his knee upon
his chest and held him firmly down.

"It's o' nae manner o' use to strive, ye see," said Andrew, relaxing his
grip a little; "I've gotten ye, an' if ye like to do my biddin' I'll no
be hard on ye."

"If you will let me rise and stand before me in fair fight, I'll do your
business if not your bidding," returned Wallace in a tone of what may be
termed stern sulkiness.

"Div ye think it's likely I'll staund before you in fair fecht, as you
ca'd--you wi' a swurd, and me wi' a bit stick, my lad?  Na, na, ye'll
hae to submit, little though ye like it."

"Give me the stick, then, and take you the sword, I shall be content,"
said the indignant trooper, making another violent but unsuccessful
effort to free himself.

"It's a fair offer," said Andrew, when he had subdued the poor youth a
second time, "an' reflec's favourably on yer courage, but I'm a man o'
peace, an' have no thirst for bloodshed--whilk is more than ye can say,
young man; but if ye'll let me tie yer hands thegither, an' gang
peaceably hame wi' me, I's promise that nae mischief'll befa' ye."

"No man shall ever tie my hands together as long as there is life in my
body," replied the youth.

"Stop, stop, callant!" exclaimed Andrew, as Will was about to renew the
struggle.  "The pride o' youth is awful.  Hear what I've gotten to say
to ye, man, or I'll hae to throttle ye ootright.  It'll come to the same
thing if ye'll alloo me to tie ane o' _my_ hands to ane o' yours.  Ye
canna objec' to that, surely, for I'll be your prisoner as muckle as
you'll be mine--and that'll be fair play, for we'll leave the swurd
lyin' on the brae to keep the bit stick company."

"Well, I agree to that," said Wallace, in a tone that indicated surprise
with a dash of amusement.

"An' ye promise no' to try to get away when you're tied to--when _I'm_
tied to _you_?"

"I promise."

Hereupon the farmer, reaching out his hand, picked up the black silk
neckcloth which he had laid aside, and with it firmly bound his own left
wrist to the right wrist of his captive, talking in a grave, subdued
tone as he did so.

"Nae doot the promise o' a spy is hardly to be lippened to, but if I
find that ye're a dishonourable man, ye'll find that I'm an
uncomfortable prisoner to be tied to.  Noo, git up, lad, an' we'll gang
hame thegither."

On rising, the first thing the trooper did was to turn and take a steady
look at the man who had captured him in this singular manner.

"Weel, what d'ye think o' me?" asked Andrew, with what may be termed a
grave smile.

"If you want to know my true opinion," returned Wallace, "I should say
that I would not have thought, from the look of you, that you could have
taken mean advantage of a sleeping foe."

"Ay--an' I would not have thought, from the look o' _you_," retorted
Andrew, "that ye could hae sell't yersel' to gang skulkin' aboot the
hills as a spy upon the puir craters that are only seekin' to worship
their Maker in peace."

Without further remark Andrew Black, leaving his coat and plaid to keep
company with the sword and stick, led his prisoner down the hill.

Andrew's cottage occupied a slight hollow on the hillside, which
concealed it from every point of the compass save the high ground above
it.  Leading the trooper up to the door, he tapped gently, and was
promptly admitted by some one whom Wallace could not discern, as the
interior was dark.

"Oh, Uncle Andrew!  I'm glad ye've come, for Peter hasna come back yet,
an' I'm feared somethin' has come ower him."

"Strike a light, lassie.  I've gotten haud o' a spy here, an' canna weel
do't mysel'."

When a light was procured and held up, it revealed the pretty face of
Jean Black, which underwent a wondrous change when she beheld the face
of the prisoner.

"Uncle Andrew!" she exclaimed, "this is nae spy.  He's the man that cam'
to the help o' Aggie an' me against the dragoon."

"Is that sae?" said Black, turning a look of surprise on his prisoner.

"It is true, indeed, that I had the good fortune to protect Jean and her
friend from an insolent comrade," answered Wallace; "and it is also true
that that act has been partly the cause of my deserting to the hills,
being starved for a day and a night, and taken prisoner now as a spy."

"Sir," said Andrew, hastily untying the kerchief that bound them
together, "I humbly ask your pardon.  Moreover, it's my opeenion that if
ye hadna been starvin' ye wadna have been here 'e noo, for ye're
uncommon teuch.  Rin, lassie, an' fetch some breed an' cheese.  Whar's
Marion an' Is'b'l?"

"They went out to seek for Peter," said Jean, as she hastened to obey
her uncle's mandate.

At that moment a loud knocking was heard at the door, and the voice of
Marion, one of the maid-servants, was heard outside.  On the door being
opened, she and her companion Isabel burst in with excited looks and the
information, pantingly given, that the "sodgers were comin'."

"Haud yer noise, lassie, an' licht the fire--pit on the parritch pat.
Come, Peter, let's hear a' aboot it."

Ramblin' Peter, who had been thus named because of his inveterate
tendency to range over the neighbouring hills, was a quiet, undersized,
said-to-be weak-minded boy of sixteen years, though he looked little
more than fourteen.  No excitement whatever ruffled his placid
countenance as he gave his report--to the effect that a party of
dragoons had been seen by him not half an hour before, searching
evidently for his master's cottage.

"They'll soon find it," said the farmer, turning quickly to his
domestics--"Away wi' ye, lassies, and hide."

The two servant-girls, with Jean and her cousin Aggie Wilson, ran at
once into an inner room and shut the door.  Ramblin' Peter sat stolidly
down beside the fire and calmly stirred the porridge-pot, which was
nearly full of the substantial Scottish fare.

"Noo, sir," said Black, turning to Will Wallace, who had stood quietly
watching the various actors in the scene just described, "yer
comrades'll be here in a wee while.  May I ask what ye expect?"

"I expect to be imprisoned at the least, more probably shot."

"Hm! pleasant expectations for a young man, nae doot.  I'm sorry that
it's oot o' my power to stop an' see the fun, for the sodgers have
strange suspicions aboot me, so I'm forced to mak' mysel' scarce an'
leave Ramblin' Peter to do the hospitalities o' the hoose.  But before I
gang awa' I wad fain repay ye for the guid turn ye did to my bairns.  If
ye are willin' to shut yer eyes an' do what I tell ye, I'll put you in a
place o' safety."

"Thank you, Mr. Black," returned Wallace; "of course I shall only be too
glad to escape from the consequences of my unfortunate position; but do
not misunderstand me: although neither a spy nor a Covenantor I am a
loyal subject, and would not now be a deserter if that character had not
been forced upon me, first by the brutality of the soldiers with whom I
was banded, and then by the insolence of my comrade-in-arms to your

"Niece; niece," interrupted Black; "I wish she _was_ my dauchter, bless
her bonny face!  Niver fear, sir, I've nae doot o' yer loyalty, though
you an' yer freends misdoot mine.  I claim to be as loyal as the best o'
ye, but there's nae dictionary in _this_ warld that defines loyalty to
be slavish submission o' body an' sowl to a tyrant that fears naether
God nor man.  The quastion noo is, Div ye want to escape and wull ye
trust me?"

The sound of horses galloping in the distance tended to quicken the
young trooper's decision.  He submitted to be blindfolded by his captor.

"Noo, Peter," said Andrew, as he was about to lead Wallace away, "ye ken
what to dae.  Gie them plenty to eat; show them the rum bottle, let them
hae the rin o' the hoose, an' say that I bade ye treat them weel."

"Ay," was Ramblin' Peter's laconic reply.

Leading his captive out at the door, round the house, and re-entering by
a back door, apparently with no other end in view than to bewilder him,
Andrew went into a dark room, opened some sort of door--to enter which
the trooper had to stoop low--and conducted him down a steep, narrow

The horsemen meanwhile had found the cottage and were heard at that
moment tramping about in front, and thundering on the door for

Wallace fancied that the door which closed behind him must be of amazing
thickness, for it shut out almost completely the sounds referred to.

On reaching the foot of the staircase, and having the napkin removed
from his eyes, he found himself in a long, low, vaulted chamber.  There
was no one in it save his guide and a venerable man who sat beside a
deal table, reading a document by the light of a tallow candle stuck in
the mouth of a black bottle.

The soldiers, meanwhile, having been admitted by Ramblin' Peter,
proceeded to question that worthy as to Andrew Black and his household.
Not being satisfied of the truth of his replies they proceeded to apply
torture in order to extract confession.  It was the first time that this
mode of obtaining information had been used in Black's cottage, and it
failed entirely, for Ramblin' Peter was staunch, and, although inhumanly
thrashed and probed with sword-points, the poor lad remained dumb,
insomuch that the soldiers at length set him down as an idiot, for he
did not even cry out in his agonies--excepting in a curious,
half-stifled manner--because he knew well that if his master were made
aware by his cries of what was going on he would be sure to hasten to
the rescue at the risk of his life.

Having devoured the porridge, drunk the rum, and destroyed a
considerable amount of the farmer's produce, the lawless troopers, who
seemed to be hurried in their proceedings at that time, finally left the

About the time that these events were taking place in and around Black's
cottage, bands of armed men with women and even children were hastening
towards the same locality to attend the great "conventicle," for which
the preparations already described were being made.

The immediate occasion of the meeting was the desire of the parishioners
of the Reverend John Welsh, a great-grandson of John Knox, to make
public avowal, at the Communion Table, of their fidelity to Christ and
their attachment to the minister who had been expelled from the church
of Irongray; but strong sympathy induced many others to attend, not only
from all parts of Galloway and Nithsdale, but from the distant Clyde,
the shores of the Forth, and elsewhere; so that the roads were crowded
with people making for the rendezvous--some on foot, others on
horseback.  Many of the latter were gentlemen of means and position,
who, as well as their retainers, were more or less well armed and
mounted.  The Reverend John Blackadder, the "auld" minister of
Troqueer--a noted hero of the Covenant, who afterwards died a prisoner
on the Bass Rock--travelled with his party all the way from Edinburgh,
and a company of eighty horse proceeded to the meeting from Clydesdale.

Preliminary services, conducted by Mr. Blackadder and Mr. Welsh, were
held near Dumfries on the Saturday, but at these the place of meeting on
the Sabbath was only vaguely announced as "a hillside in Irongray," so
anxious were they to escape being disturbed by their enemies, and the
secret was kept so well that when the Sabbath arrived a congregation of
above three thousand had assembled round the Communion stones in the
hollow of Skeoch Hill.

Sentinels were posted on all the surrounding heights.  One of these
sentinels was the farmer Andrew Black, with a cavalry sword belted to
his waist, and a rusty musket on his shoulder.  Beside him stood a tall
stalwart youth in shepherd's costume.

"Yer ain mother wadna ken ye," remarked Andrew with a twinkle in his

"I doubt that," replied the youth; "a mother's eyes are keen.  I should
not like to encounter even Glendinning in my present guise."

As he spoke the rich melody of the opening psalm burst from the great
congregation and rolled in softened cadence towards the sentinels.



The face of nature did not seem propitious to the great gathering on
Skeoch Hill.  Inky clouds rolled athwart the leaden sky, threatening a
deluge of rain, and fitful gusts of wind seemed to indicate the approach
of a tempest.  Nevertheless the elements were held in check by the God
of nature, so that the solemn services of the day were conducted to a
close without discomfort, though not altogether without interruption.

Several of the most eminent ministers, who had been expelled from their
charges, were present on this occasion.  Besides John Welsh of Irongray,
there were Arnot of Tongland, Blackadder of Troqueer, and Dickson of
Rutherglen--godly men who had for many years suffered persecution and
imprisonment, and were ready to lay down their lives in defence of
religious liberty.  The price set upon the head of that "notour traitor,
Mr. John Welsh," dead or alive, was 9000 merks.  Mr. Arnot was valued at

These preached and assisted at different parts of the services, while
the vast multitude sat on the sloping hillside, and the mounted men drew
up on the outskirts of the congregation, so as to be within sound of the
preachers' voices, and, at the same time, be ready for action on the
defensive if enemies should appear.

Andrew Black and his companion stood for some time listening, with bowed
heads, to the slow sweet music that floated towards them.  They were too
far distant to hear the words of prayer that followed, yet they
continued to stand in reverent silence for some time, listening to the
sound--Black with his eyes closed, his young companion gazing wistfully
at the distant landscape, which, from the elevated position on which
they stood, lay like a magnificent panorama spread out before them.  On
the left the level lands bordering the rivers Cairn and Nith stretched
away to the Solway, with the Cumberland mountains in the extreme
distance; in front and on the right lay the wild, romantic hill-country
of which, in after years, it was so beautifully written:--

  "O bonnie hills of Galloway oft have I stood to see,
  At sunset hour, your shadows fall, all darkening on the lea;
  While visions of the buried years came o'er me in their might--
  As phantoms of the sepulchre--instinct with inward light!
  The years, the years when Scotland groaned beneath her tyrant's hand!
  And 'twas not for the heather she was called `the purple land.'
  And 'twas not for her _loveliness_ her children blessed their God--
  _But for secret places of the hills, and the mountain heights_

"Who was the old man I found in what you call your hidy-hole?" asked
Wallace, turning suddenly to his companion.

"I'm no' sure that I have a right to answer that," said Black, regarding
Will with a half-serious, half-amused look.  "Hooever, noo that ye've
ta'en service wi' me, and ken about my hidy-hole, I suppose I may trust
ye wi' a' my secrets."

"I would not press you to reveal any secrets, Mr. Black, yet I think you
are safe to trust me, seeing that you know enough about my own secrets
to bring me to the gallows if so disposed."

"Ay, I hae ye there, lad!  But I'll trust ye on better grunds than that.
I believe ye to be an honest man, and that's enough for me.  Weel, ye
maun ken, it's saxteen year since I howkit the hidy-hole below my hoose,
an' wad ye believe it?--they've no fund it oot yet!  Not even had a
suspeecion o't, though the sodgers hae been sair puzzled, mony a time,
aboot hoo I managed to gie them the slip.  An' mony's the puir body,
baith gentle and simple, that I've gien food an' shelter to whae was
very likely to hae perished o' cauld an' hunger, but for the hidy-hole.
Among ithers I've often had the persecuited ministers doon there,
readin' their Bibles or sleepin' as comfortable as ye like when the
dragoons was drinkin', roarin', an' singin' like deevils ower their
heids.  My certies! if Clavers, or Sherp, or Lauderdale had an inklin'
o' the hunderd pairt o' the law-brekin' that I've done, it's a gallows
in the Gressmarkit as high as Haman's wad be ereckit for me, an' my heed
an' hauns, may be, would be bleachin' on the Nether Bow.  Humph! but
they've no' gotten me yet!"

"And I sincerely hope they never will," remarked Wallace; "but you have
not yet told me the name of the old man."

"I was comin' to him," continued Black; "but wheniver I wander to the
doin's o' that black-hearted Cooncil, I'm like to lose the threed o' my
discoorse.  Yon is a great man i' the Kirk o' Scotland.  They ca' him
Donald Cargill.  The adventures that puir man has had in the coorse o'
mair nor quarter o' a century wad mak' a grand story-buik.  He has no
fear o' man, an' he's an awfu' stickler for justice.  I'se warrant he
gied ye some strang condemnations o' the poors that be."

"Indeed he did not," said Wallace.  "Surely you misjudge his character.
His converse with me was entirely religious, and his chief anxiety
seemed to be to impress on me the love of God in sending Jesus Christ to
redeem a wicked world from sin.  I tried to turn the conversation on the
state of the times, but he gently turned it round again to the
importance of being at peace with God, and giving heed to the condition
of my own soul.  He became at last so personal that I did not quite like
it.  Yet he was so earnest and kind that I could not take offence."

"Ay, ay," said Black in a musing tone, "I see.  He clearly thinks that
yer he'rt needs mair instruction than yer heed.  Hm! maybe he's right.
Hooever, he's a wonderfu' man; gangs aboot the country preachin'
everywhere altho' he kens that the sodgers are aye on the look-oot for
him, an' that if they catch him it's certain death.  He wad have been at
this communion nae doot, if he hadna engaged to preach somewhere near
Sanquhar this vera day."

"Then he has left the hidy-hole by this time, I suppose?"

"Ye may be sure o' that, for when there is work to be done for the
Master, Donal' Cargill doesna let the gress grow under his feet."

"I'm sorry that I shall not see him again," returned the ex-trooper in a
tone of regret, "for I like him much."

Now, while this conversation was going on, a portion of the troop of
dragoons which had been out in search of Andrew Black was sent under
Glendinning (now a sergeant) in quest of an aged couple named Mitchell,
who were reported to have entertained intercommuned, iúeú outlawed,
persons; attended conventicles in the fields; ventured to have family
worship in their cottages while a few neighbours were present, and to
have otherwise broken the laws of the Secret Council.

This Council, which was ruled by two monsters in human form, namely,
Archbishop Sharp of Saint Andrews and the Duke of Lauderdale, having
obtained full powers from King Charles the Second to put down
conventicles and enforce the laws against the fanatics with the utmost
possible rigour, had proceeded to carry out their mission by inviting a
host of half, if not quite, savage Highlanders to assist them in
quelling the people.  This host, numbering, with 2000 regulars and
militia, about 10,000 men, eagerly accepted the invitation, and was let
loose on the south and western districts of Scotland about the beginning
of the year, and for some time ravaged and pillaged the land as if it
had been an enemy's country.  They were thanked by the King for so
readily agreeing to assist in reducing the Covenanters to obedience to
"Us and Our laws," and were told to take up free quarters among the
disaffected, to disarm such persons as they should suspect, to carry
with them instruments of torture wherewith to subdue the refractory, and
in short to act very much in accordance with the promptings of their own
desires.  Evidently the mission suited these men admirably, for they
treated all parties as disaffected, with great impartiality, and
plundered, tortured, and insulted to such an extent that after about
three months of unresisted depredation, the shame of the thing became so
obvious that Government was compelled to send them home again.  They had
accomplished nothing in the way of bringing the Covenanters to reason;
but they had desolated a fair region of Scotland, spilt much innocent
blood, ruined many families, and returned to their native hills heavily
laden with booty of every kind like a victorious army.  It is said that
the losses caused by them in the county of Ayr alone amounted to over
11,000 pounds sterling.

The failure of this horde did not in the least check the proceedings of
Sharp or Lauderdale or their like-minded colleagues.  They kept the
regular troops and militia moving about the land, enforcing their
idiotical and wicked laws at the point of the sword.  We say idiotical
advisedly, for what could give stronger evidence of mental incapacity
than the attempt to enforce a bond upon all landed proprietors, obliging
themselves and their wives, children, and servants, as well as all their
tenants and cottars, with their wives, children, and servants, to
abstain from conventicles, and not to receive, assist, or even speak to,
any forfeited persons, intercommuned ministers, or vagrant preachers,
but to use their utmost endeavours to apprehend all such?  Those who
took this bond were to receive an assurance that the troops should not
be quartered on their lands--a matter of considerable importance--for
this quartering involved great expense and much destruction of property
in most cases, and absolute ruin in some.

After the battle of the Pentland Hills (in 1666), in which the
Covenanters, driven to desperation, made an unsuccessful effort to throw
off the tyrannical yoke, severer laws were enacted against them.  Their
wily persecutor, also being well aware of the evil influence of
disagreement among men, threw a bone of contention among them in the
shape of royal acts of _Indulgence_, as they were styled, by which a
certain number of the ejected ministers were permitted to preach on
certain conditions, but only within their own parishes.  To preach at a
separate meeting in a private house subjected the minister to a fine of
5000 merks (about 278 pounds).  To preach in the fields was to incur the
penalty of death and confiscation of property.  And these arbitrary laws
were not merely enacted for intimidation.  They were rigorously
enforced.  The curates in many cases became mere spies and Government
informers.  Many of the best men in the land laid down their lives
rather than cease to proclaim the Gospel of love and peace and goodwill
in Jesus Christ.  Of course their enemies set them down as self-willed
and turbulent fanatics.  It has ever been, and ever will be, thus with
men who are indifferent to principle.  They will not, as well as cannot,
understand those who are ready to fight, and, if need be, die for truth!
Their unspoken argument seems to be: "You profess to preach peace,
love, submission to authority, etcetera; very good, stand to your
principles.  Leave all sorts of carnal fighting to us.  Obey us.
Conform humbly to our arrangements, whatever they are, and all will be
well; but dare to show the slightest symptom of restiveness under what
you style our injustice, tyranny, cruelty, etcetera, and we will teach
you the submission which you preach but fail to practise by means of
fire and sword and torture and death!"

Many good men and true, with gentle spirits, and it may be somewhat
exalted ideas about the rights of Royalty, accepted the Indulgence as
being better than nothing, or better than civil war.  No doubt, also,
there were a few--neither good men nor true--who accepted it because it
afforded them a loophole of escape from persecution.  Similarly, on the
other side, there were good men and true, who, with bolder hearts,
perhaps, and clearer brains, it may be, refused the Indulgence as a
presumptuous enactment, which cut at the roots of both civil and
religious liberty, as implying a right to withhold while it professed to
give, and which, if acquiesced in, would indicate a degree of abject
slavery to man and unfaithfulness to God that might sink Scotland into a
condition little better than that of some eastern nations at the present
day.  Thus was the camp of the Covenanters divided.  There were also
more subtle divisions, which it is not necessary to mention here, and in
both camps, of course there was an infusion, especially amongst the
young men, of that powerful element--love of excitement and danger for
their own sake, with little if any regard to principle, which goes far
in all ages to neutralise the efforts and hamper the energies of the

Besides the acts of Indulgence, another and most tyrannical measure,
already mentioned, had been introduced to crush if possible the
Presbyterians.  _Letters of intercommuning_ were issued against a great
number of the most distinguished Presbyterians, including several ladies
of note, by which they were proscribed as rebels and cut off from all
society.  A price, amounting in some instances to 500 pounbds sterling,
was fixed on their heads, and every person, not excepting their nearest
of kin, was prohibited from conversing with or writing to them, or of
aiding with food, clothes, or any other necessary of life, on pain of
being found guilty of the same crimes as the intercommuned persons.

The natural result of such inhuman laws was that men and women in
hundreds had to flee from their homes and seek refuge among the dens and
caves of the mountains, where many were caught, carried off to prison,
tried, tortured, and executed; while of those who escaped their foes,
numbers perished from cold and hunger, and disease brought on by lying
in damp caves and clefts of the rocks without food or fire in all
weathers.  The fines which were exacted for so-called offences tempted
the avarice of the persecutors and tended to keep the torch of
persecution aflame.  For example, Sir George Maxwell of Newark was fined
a sum amounting to nearly 8000 pounds sterling for absence from his
Parish Church, attendance at conventicles, and disorderly baptisms--iúeú
for preferring his own minister to the curate in the baptizing of his
children!  Hundreds of somewhat similar instances might be given.  Up to
the time of which we write (1678) no fewer than 17,000 persons had
suffered for attending field meetings, either by fine, imprisonment, or

Such was the state of matters when the party of dragoons under command
of Sergeant Glendinning rode towards the Mitchells' cottage, which was
not far from Black's farm.  The body of soldiers being too small to
venture to interrupt the communion on Skeoch Hill, Glendinning had been
told to wait in the neighbourhood and gather information while his
officer, Captain Houston, went off in search of reinforcements.

"There's the auld sinner himsel'," cried the Sergeant as the party came
in sight of an old, whitehaired man seated on a knoll by the side of the
road.  "Hallo!  Jock Mitchell, is that you?  Come doon here directly, I
want to speak t'ye."

The old man, being stone deaf, and having his back to the road, was not
aware of the presence of the dragoons, and of course took no notice of
the summons.

"D'ye hear!" shouted the Sergeant savagely, for he was ignorant of the
old man's condition.

Still Mitchell did not move.  Glendinning, whose disposition seemed to
have been rendered more brutal since his encounter with Wallace, drew a
pistol from his holster and presented it at Mitchell.

"Answer me," he shouted again, "or ye're a deed man."

Mitchell did not move...  There was a loud report, and next moment the
poor old man fell dead upon the ground.

It chanced that Ramblin' Peter heard the report, though he did not
witness the terrible result, for he was returning home from the
Mitchells' cottage at the time, after escorting Jean Black and Aggie
Wilson thither.  The two girls, having been forbidden to attend the
gathering on Skeoch Hill, had resolved to visit the Mitchells and spend
the Sabbath with them.  Peter had accompanied them and spent the greater
part of the day with them, but, feeling the responsibility of his
position as the representative of Andrew Black during his absence, had
at last started for home.

A glance over a rising ground sufficed to make the boy turn sharp round
and take to his heels.  He was remarkably swift of foot.  A few minutes
brought him to the cottage door, which he burst open.

"The sodgers is comin', grannie!"  (He so styled the old woman, though
she was no relation.)

"Did ye see my auld man?"


"Away wi' ye, bairns," said Mrs. Mitchell quickly but quietly.  "Oot by
the back door an' doon the burnside; they'll niver see ye for the

"But, grannie, we canna leave you here alone," remonstrated Jean with an
anxious look.

"An' I can fecht!" remarked Peter in a low voice, that betrayed neither
fear nor excitement.

"The sodgers can do nae harm to _me_," returned the old woman firmly.
"Do my bidding, bairns.  Be aff, I say!"

There was no resisting Mrs. Mitchell's word of command.  Hastening out
by the back door just as the troopers came in sight, Peter and his
companions, diving into the shrubbery of the neighbouring streamlet,
made their way to Black's farm by a circuitous route.  There the girls
took shelter in the house, locking the door and barring the windows,
while Peter, diverging to the left, made for the hills like a hunted

Andrew was standing alone at his post when the lithe runner came in
sight.  Will Wallace had left him by that time, and was listening
entranced to the fervid exhortations of Dickson of Rutherglen.

"The sodgers!" gasped Peter, as he flung himself down to rest.

"Comin' this way, lad?"

"Na.  They're at the Mitchells."

"A' safe at the ferm?" asked Andrew quickly.

"Ay, I saw the lasses into the hoose."

"Rin to the meetin' an' gie the alarm.  Tell them to send Wallace an'
Quentin here wi' sax stoot men--weel airmed--an' anither sentry, for I'm
gaun awa'."

Almost before the sentence was finished Ramblin' Peter was up and away,
and soon the alarming cry arose from the assembly, "The dragoons are
upon us!"

Instantly the Clydesdale men mounted and formed to meet the expected
onset.  The men of Nithsdale were not slow to follow their example, and
Gordon of Earlstoun, a tried and skilful soldier, put himself at the
head of a large troop of Galloway horse.  Four or five companies of
foot, also well armed, got ready for action, and videttes and single
horsemen were sent out to reconnoitre.  Thus, in a moment, was this
assembly of worshippers transformed into a band of Christian warriors,
ready to fight and die for their families and liberties.

But the alarm, as it turned out, was a false one.  Glendinning, informed
by spies of the nature of the gathering, was much too sagacious a
warrior to oppose his small force to such overwhelming odds.  He
contented himself for the present with smaller game.

After continuing in the posture of defence for a considerable time, the
assembly dispersed, those who were defenceless being escorted by armed
parties to the barns and cottages around.  As they retired from the
scene the windows of heaven were opened, and the rain, which had been
restrained all day, came down in torrents, and sent the Cairn and Cluden
red and roaring to the sea.

But long before this dispersion took place, Andrew Black, with Quentin
Dick, Will Wallace, Ramblin' Peter, and six sturdy young men, armed with
sword, gun, and pistol, had hurried down the hill to succour the
Mitchells, if need be, and see to the welfare of those who had been left
behind in the farm.



Being ignorant, as we have said, of the cruel murder of old Mitchell,
Ramblin' Peter's report had not seriously alarmed Black.  He concluded
that the worst the troopers would do would be to rob the poor old couple
of what money they found in their possession, oblige them to take the
Oath of Supremacy, drink the health of King and bishops, and otherwise
insult and plunder them.  Knowing the Mitchells intimately, he had no
fear that their opposition would invite severity.  Being very fond of
them, however, he resolved, at the risk of his life, to prevent as far
as possible the threatened indignity and plunder.

"They're a douce auld pair," he remarked to Will Wallace as they strode
down the hillside together, "quiet an' peaceable, wi' naething to speak
o' in the way of opeenions--somethin' like mysel'--an' willin' to let-be
for let-be.  But since the country has been ower-run by thae Hielanders
an' sodgers, they've had little peace, and the auld man has gie'n them a
heap o' trouble, for he's as deaf as a post.  Peter says the pairty o'
dragoons is a sma' ane, so I expect the sight o' us'll scare them away
an' prevent fechtin'."

"It may be so," said Wallace, "and of course I shall not fail you in
this attempt to protect your old friends; but, to tell you the truth, I
don't quite like this readiness on the part of you Covenanters to defy
the laws, however bad they may be, and to attack the King's troops.  The
Bible, which you so often quote, inculcates longsuffering and patience."

"Hm! there speaks yer ignorance," returned the farmer with a dash of
cynicism in his tone.  "Hoo mony years, think ye, are folk to submit to
tyranny an' wrang an' fierce oppression for nae sin whatever against the
laws o' God or the land?  Are twunty, thretty, or forty years no' enough
to warrant oor claim to lang-sufferin'?  Does submission to law-brekin'
on the pairt o' Government, an' lang-continued, high-handed oppression
frae King, courtier, an' prelate, accompanied wi' barefaced plunder and
murder--does _that_ no' justifiee oor claim to patience?  To a' this the
Covenanters hae submitted for mony weary years withoot rebellion, except
maybe in the metter o' the Pentlands, when a wheen o' us were driven to
desperation.  But I understand your feelin's, lad, for I'm a man o'
peace by natur', an' would gladly submit to injustice to keep things
quiet--_if possable_; but some things are _no'_ possable, an' the Bible
itsel' says we're to live peaceably wi' a' men only `as much as in us

The ex-trooper was silent.  Although ignorant of the full extent of
maddening persecution to which not merely the Covenanters but the people
of Scotland generally had been subjected, his own limited experience
told him that there was much truth in what his companion said; still,
like all loyal-hearted men, he shrank from the position of antagonism to

"I agree with you," he said, after a few minutes' thought, "but I have
been born, I suppose, with a profound respect for law and legally
constituted authority."

"Div ye think, lad," returned Black, impressively, "that naebody's been
born wi' a high respec' for law but yersel'?  I suppose ye admit that
the King is bound to respec' the law as weel as the people?"

"Of course I do.  I am no advocate of despotism."

"Weel then," continued the farmer with energy, "in the year saxteen
forty-ane, an' at ither times, kings an' parliaments hae stamped the
Covenants o' Scotland as bein' pairt o' the law o' this land--whereby
freedom o' conscience an' Presbyterian worship are secured to us a'.
An' here comes Chairles the Second an' breks the law by sendin' that
scoondrel the Duke o' Lauderdale here wi' full poors to dae what he
likes--an' Middleton, a man wi' nae heart an' less conscience, that was
raised up frae naething to be a noble, nae less!  My word, nobles are
easy made, but they're no' sae easy unmade!  An' this Lauderdale maks a
cooncil wi' Airchbishop Sherp--a traiter and a turncoat--an' a wheen
mair like himsel', and they send sodgers oot ower the land to eat us up
an' cram Prelacy doon oor throats, an' curates into oor poo'pits whether
we wull or no'.  An' that though Chairles himsel' signed the Covenant at
the time he was crooned!  Ca' ye _that_ law or legally constituted

Although deeply excited by this brief recital of his country's wrongs,
Black maintained the quiet expression of feature and tone of voice that
were habitual to him.  Further converse on the subject was interrupted
by their arrival at the farm, where they found all right save that Jean
and Aggie were in a state of tearful anxiety about their poor

While the farmer was seeing to the security of his house and its
arrangements, preparatory to continuing the march to the Mitchells'
cottage, the rest of the party stood about the front door conversing.
Will Wallace was contemplating Jean Black with no little admiration, as
she moved about the house.  There was something peculiarly attractive
about Jean.  A winsome air and native grace, with refinement of manner
unusual in one of her station, would have stamped her with a powerful
species of beauty even if she had not possessed in addition a modest
look and fair young face.

The ex-trooper was questioning, in a dreamy way, whether he had ever
before seen such a pretty and agreeable specimen of girlhood, when he
experienced a shock of surprise on observing that Jean had gone to a
neighbouring spring for water and was making something very like a
signal to him to follow her.

The surprise was mingled with an uncomfortable feeling of regret, for
the action seemed inconsistent with the maiden's natural modesty.

"Forgie me, sir," she said, "for being so bold, but oh! sir, if ye knew
how anxious I am about Uncle Black, ye would understand--he is wanted so
much, an' there's them in the hidy-hole that would fare ill if he was
taken to prison just now.  If--ye--would--"

"Well, Jean," said Will, sympathising with the struggle it evidently
cost the girl to speak to him--"don't hesitate to confide in me.  What
would you have me do?"

"Only to keep him back frae the sodgers if ye can.  He's such an awfu'
man to fecht when he's roosed, that he's sure to kill some o' them if
he's no' killed himsel'.  An' it'll be ruin to us a' an' to the
Mitchells too, if--"

She was interrupted at this point by Black himself calling her name.

"Trust me," said Wallace earnestly, "I understand what you wish, and
will do my best to prevent evil."

A grateful look was all the maiden's reply as she hurried away.

Our hero's perplexity as to how this promise was to be fulfilled was,
however, needless, for on reaching the Mitchells' hut it was found that
the troopers had already left the place; but the state of things they
had left behind them was enough to stir deeply the pity and the
indignation of the party.

Everything in confusion--broken furniture, meal and grain scattered on
the floor, open chests and cupboards--told that the legalised brigands
had done their worst.  Poor Mrs. Mitchell had objected to nothing that
they said or did or proposed to her.  She feebly drank the health of
King and prelates when bidden to do so, and swore whatever test-oaths
they chose to apply to her till they required her to admit that the King
was lord over the kirk and the conscience.  Then her spirit fired, and
with a firm voice she declared that no king but Christ should rule over
her kirk or conscience--to which she boldly added that she _had_
attended conventicles, and would do so again!

Having obtained all they wanted, the dragoons went away, leaving the old
woman among the ruins of her home, for they probably did not consider it
worth while carrying off a prisoner who would in all likelihood have
died on the road to prison.

In the midst of all the noise and confusion it had struck the old woman
as strange that they never once asked about her husband.  After they had
gone, however, the arrival of two neighbours bearing his dead body
revealed the terrible reason.  She uttered no cry when they laid his
corpse on the floor, but sat gazing in horror as if turned to stone.
Thus Black and his friends found her.

She could not be roused to speak, and looked, after a few minutes, like
one who had not realised the truth.

In this state she was conveyed to Black's cottage and handed over to
Jean, whom every one seemed intuitively to regard as her natural
comforter.  The poor child led her into her own room, sat down beside
her on the bed, laid the aged head on her sympathetic bosom and sobbed
as if her heart was breaking.  But no response came from the old woman,
save that once or twice she looked up feebly and said, "Jean, dear, what
ails ye?"

In the Council Chamber at Edinburgh, Lauderdale, learning on one
occasion that many persons both high and low had refused to take the
bond already referred to, which might well have been styled the bond of
slavery, bared his arm in fury, and, smiting the table with his fist,
swore with a terrific oath that he would "force them to take the bond."

What we have described is a specimen of the manner in which the force
was sometimes applied.  The heartless despot and his clerical coadjutors
had still to learn that tyranny has not yet forged the weapon that can
separate man from his God.

"What think ye noo?" asked Andrew Black, turning to Wallace with a quiet
but stern look, after old Mrs. Mitchell had been carried in, "what think
ye _noo_, lad, o' us Covenanters an' oor lack o' lang-sufferin' an' oor
defyin' the laws?  Aren't these laws we _ought_ to defy, but havena
properly defied yet, laws illegally made by a perjured King and an
upstart Cooncil?"

"Mr. Black," said the ex-trooper, seizing his companion's hand with an
iron grip, "from this day forward I am with you--heart and soul."

Little did Wallace think, when he came to this decision, that he had
still stronger reason for his course of action than he was aware of at
the moment.

It was night when Mrs. Mitchell was brought into the farm-house, and
preparations were being made for a hasty meal, when Ramblin' Peter came
in with the news that a number of people in the Lanarkshire district had
been intercommuned and driven from their homes--amongst others David
Spence, Will Wallace's uncle, with whom his mother had taken up her

The distracted looks of poor Wallace on hearing this showed the powerful
effect the news had upon him.

"Keep yersel' quiet, noo," said Black in an encouraging tone, as he took
the youth's arm and led him out of the house.  "These are no' times to
let our hearts rin awa wi' oor heids.  Yer mither must be looked after;
but i' the meantime let me tell ye that yer uncle Daavid is a douce,
cliver felly, an' fears naething i' this warld.  If he did, he wadna be
amang the intercommuned.  Be sure he's no' the man to leave his sister
Maggie in trouble.  Of course ye'll be wantin' to be aff to look after

"Of course--instantly," said Wallace.

"Na.  Ye'll hae yer supper first--an' a guid ain--for ye'll need it.
Have patience, noo, an' listen to me, for I'll do the very best I can
for ye in this strait--an' it's no muckle ye can do for yersel' withoot

There was something so decided yet kindly and reassuring in the farmer's
tone and manner that Wallace felt relieved in spite of his anxieties,
and submitted to his guidance in all things.  Black then explained that
he had a friend in Lanark who owed him money on lambs sold to him the
previous year; that he meant to send his man Quentin Dick first to
collect that money, and then proceed to Edinburgh, for the purpose of
making further arrangements there about cattle.

"Noo," continued Black, "I've gotten a mither as weel as you, an' she
lives in the Can'lemaker Raw, close to the Greyfriars' Kirkyaird--where
they signed the Covenants, ye ken.  Weel, I wad advise you to gang to
Lanark wi' Quentin, an' when ye find yer mither tak' her to Edinbro' an'
let her live wi' my mither i' the meantime, till we see what the Lord
has in store for this puir persecuted remnant.  I'm sorry to pairt wi'
ye, lad, sae unexpectedly, but in thae times, when folk are called on to
pairt wi' their heids unexpectedly, we mauna compleen."

"I'll take your advice gladly," said Wallace.  "When will Quentin Dick
be ready to start?"

"In less than an hour.  The moon'll be up soon after that.  It's o' nae
use startin' on sae dark a nicht till she's up, for ye'll hae to cross
some nasty grund.  Noo, lad, though I'm no a minister, my advice to ye
is, to gang doon into the hidy-hole an' pray aboot this matter.  Niver
mind the folk ye find there.  They're used to prayin'.  It's my opeenion
that if there was less preachin' an' mair prayin', we'd be a' the better
for 't.  It's a thrawn warld we live in, but we're bound to mak' the
best o't."

Although not much in the habit of engaging in prayer--save at the formal
periods of morning and evening--our ex-trooper was just then in the mood
to take his friend's advice.  He retired to the place of refuge under
Black's house, where he found several people who had evidently been at
the communion on Skeoch Hill.  These were engaged in earnest
conversation, and took little notice of him as he entered.  The place
was very dimly lighted.  One end of the low vaulted chamber was involved
in obscurity.  Thither the youth went and knelt down.  From infancy his
mother had taught him "to say his prayers," and had sought to induce him
to pray.  It is probable that the first time he really did so was in
that secret chamber where, in much anxiety of soul, he prayed for

After a hasty but hearty supper, he and Quentin Dick set out on their
night journey.  They carried nothing with them except two wallets,
filled, as Wallace could not help thinking, with a needlessly large
amount of provisions.  Of course they were unarmed, for they travelled
in the capacity of peaceful drovers, with plaids on their shoulders, and
the usual staves in their hands.

"One would think we were going to travel for a month in some wilderness,
to judge from the weight of our haversacks," observed Wallace, after
trudging along for some time in silence.

"Maybe we'll be langer than a month," returned Quentin, "ann the
wulderness hereaway is warse than the wulderness that Moses led his folk
through.  They had manna there.  Mony o' us hae _naething_ here."

Quentin Dick spoke with cynicism in his tone, for he was a stern
straightforward man, on whom injustice told with tremendous power, and
who had not yet been taught by adversity to bow his head to man and
restrain his indignation.

Before Wallace had time to make any rejoinder, something like the
appearance of a group of horsemen in front arrested them.  They were
still so far distant as to render their tramp inaudible.  Indeed they
could not have been seen at all in so dark a night but for the fact that
in passing over the crest of a hill they were for a moment or two dimly
defined against the sky.

"Dragoons--fowr o' them," muttered Quentin.  "We'll step aside here an'
let them gang by."

Clambering up the somewhat rugged side of the road, the two men
concealed themselves among the bushes, intending to wait till the
troopers should pass.

"What can they be doing in this direction, I wonder?" whispered Wallace.

"My freend," answered Quentin, "dinna whisper when ye're hidin'.  Of a'
the sounds for attractin' attention an' revealin' secrets a whisper is
the warst.  Speak low, if ye maun speak, but sometimes it's wiser no to
speak ava'.  Dootless the sodgers'll be giein' Andrew Black a ca', but
he kens brawly hoo to tak' care o' himsel'."

When the horseman approached it was seen that they were driving before
them a boy, or lad, on foot.  Evidently they were compelling him to act
as their guide.

"It's Ramblin' Peter they've gotten haud o', as sure as I'm a leevin'
man," said the shepherd with a low chuckle; "I'd ken him amang a
thoosand by the way he rins."

"Shall we not rescue him?" exclaimed Wallace, starting up.

"Wheesht! keep still, man.  Nae fear o' Peter.  He'll lead them in amang
the bogs o' some peat-moss or ither, gie them the slip there, an' leave
them to find their way oot."

Just as the troop trotted past an incident occurred which disconcerted
the hiders not a little.  A dog which the soldiers had with them scented
them, stopped, and after snuffing about for a few seconds, began to bark
furiously.  The troop halted at once and challenged.

"Tak' nae notice," remarked Quentin in a low voice, which went no
farther than his comrade's ear.

A bright flash and sharp report followed the challenge, and a ball
whistled through the thicket.

"Ay, fire away," soliloquised Quentin.  "Ye seldom hit when ye can see.
It's no' likely ye'll dae muckle better i' the dark."

The dog, however, having discovered the track of the hidden men, rushed
up the bank towards them.  The shepherd picked up a stone, and, waiting
till the animal was near enough, flung it with such a true aim that the
dog went howling back to the road.  On this a volley from the carbines
of the troopers cut up the bushes all around them.

"That'll dae noo.  Come awa', Wull," said the shepherd, rising and
proceeding farther into the thicket by a scarce visible footpath.  "The
horses canna follow us here unless they hae the legs an' airms o'
puggies.  As for the men, they'd have to cut a track to let their big
boots pass.  We may tak' it easy, for they're uncommon slow at loadin'."

In a few minutes the two friends were beyond all danger.  Returning then
to the road about a mile farther on, they continued to journey until
they had left the scene of the great communion far behind them, and when
day dawned they retired to a dense thicket in a hollow by the banks of a
little burn, and there rested till near sunset, when the journey was
resumed.  That night they experienced considerable delay owing to the
intense darkness.  Towards dawn the day following Quentin Dick led his
companion into a wild, thickly-wooded place which seemed formed by
nature as a place of refuge for a hunted creature--whether man or beast.

Entering the mouth of what seemed to be a cavern, he bade his companion
wait.  Presently a sound, as of the cry of some wild bird, was heard.
It was answered by a similar cry in the far distance.  Soon after the
shepherd returned, and, taking his companion by the hand, led him into
the cave which, a few paces from its mouth, was profoundly dark.  Almost
immediately a glimmering light appeared.  A few steps farther, and
Wallace found himself in the midst of an extraordinary scene.

The cavern at its inner extremity was an apartment of considerable size,
and the faint light of a few lanterns showed that the place was clouded
by smoke from a low fire of wood that burned at the upper end.  Here,
standing, seated, and reclining, were assembled all sorts and conditions
of men--some in the prime and vigour of life; some bowed with the weight
of years; others, both young and old, gaunt and haggard from the
influence of disease and suffering, and many giving evidence by their
aspect that their days on earth were numbered.  Some, by the stern
contraction of brow and lip, seemed to suggest that submission was the
last thought that would enter their minds, but not a few of the party
wore that look of patient endurance which is due to the influence of the
Spirit of God--not to mere human strength of mind and will.  All seemed
to be famishing for want of food, while ragged clothes, shaggy beards,
hollow cheeks, and unkempt locks told eloquently of the long years of
bodily and mental suffering which had been endured under ruthless



Immediately on entering the cave in which this party of Covenanters had
found a temporary shelter, Will Wallace learned the reason of the large
supply of provisions which he and his comrade had carried.

"I've brought this for ye frae Andrew Black," said Quentin, taking the
wallet from his shoulder and presenting it to a man in clerical costume
who advanced to welcome him.  "He thought ye might stand in need o'

"Ever thoughtful of his friends; I thank him heartily," said the
minister, accepting the wallet--as also that handed to him by Wallace.
"Andrew is a true helper of the persecuted; and I thank the Lord who has
put it into his heart to supply us at a time when our provisions are
well-nigh exhausted.  Our numbers have been unexpectedly increased by
the arrival of some of the unfortunates recently expelled from Lanark."

"From Lanark!" echoed Wallace as he glanced eagerly round on the forlorn
throng.  "Can you tell me, sir, if a Mr. David Spence and a Mrs. Wallace
have arrived from that quarter?"

"I have not heard of them," returned the minister, as he emptied the
wallets and began to distribute their contents to those around
him.--"Ah, here is milk--I'm glad our friend Black thought of that, for
we have a poor dying woman here who can eat nothing solid.  Here,
Webster, take it to her."

With a sudden sinking at the heart Wallace followed the man to whom the
milk had been given.  Might not this dying woman, he thought, be his own
mother?  True, he had just been told that no one with her name had yet
sought refuge there; but, there was a bare possibility and--anxiety does
not reason!  As he crossed to a spot where several persons were bending
over a couch of straw, a tremendous clap of thunder shook the solid
walls of the cavern.  This was immediately followed by a torrent of
rain, the plashing of which outside suggested that all the windows of
heaven had been suddenly opened.  The incident was natural enough in
itself, but the anxious youth took it as a bad omen, and trembled as he
had never before trembled at the disturbances of nature.  One glance,
however, sufficed to relieve his mind.  The dying woman was young.
Delicate of constitution by nature, long exposure to damp air in caves,
and cold beds on the ground, with bad and insufficient food, had sealed
her doom.  Lying there, with hollow cheeks, eyes closed and lips deathly
pale, it seemed as if the spirit had already fled.

"Oh, my ain Lizzie!" cried a poor woman who knelt beside her.

"Wheesht, mither," whispered the dying woman, slowly opening her eyes;
"it is the Lord's doing--shall not the Judge of a' the earth do right?
We'll understand it a' some day--for ever wi' the Lord!"

The last words were audible only to the mother's ear.  Food for the
body, even if it could have availed her, came too late.  Another moment
and she was in the land where hunger and thirst are unknown--where the
wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

The mourners were still standing in silence gazing on the dead, when a
loud noise and stamping of feet was heard at the entrance of the cave.
Turning round they saw several drenched and haggard persons enter, among
them a man supporting--almost carrying--a woman whose drooping figure
betokened great exhaustion.

"Thank you, O thank you; I--I'm better now," said the woman, looking up
with a weary yet grateful expression at her protector.

Will Wallace sprang forward as he heard the voice.  "Mother! mother!" he
cried, and, next moment, he had her in his arms.

The excitement coupled with extreme fatigue was almost too much for the
poor woman.  She could not speak, but, with a sigh of contentment,
allowed her head to fall upon the broad bosom of her son.

Accustomed as those hunted people were to scenes of suffering, wild
despair, and sometimes, though not often, to bursts of sudden joy, this
incident drew general attention and sympathy--except, indeed, from the
mother of the dead woman, whose poor heart was for the moment stunned.
Several women--one of whom was evidently a lady of some position--
crowded to Will's assistance, and conveyed Mrs. Wallace to a recess in
the cave which was curtained off.  Here they gave her food, and changed
her soaking garments.  Meanwhile her brother, David Spence--a
grand-looking old man of gentle manners and refined mind--gave his
nephew an account of the manner in which they had been driven from their

"What is the matter with your hands, uncle?" asked Will, observing that
both were bandaged.

"They tried the thumbscrews on me," said Spence with a pitiful smile,
glancing at his injured members.  "They wanted to force me to sign the
Bond, which I declined to do--first, because it required me to perform
impossibilities; and, second, because it was such as no Government in
the world has a right to exact or freeman to sign.  They were going to
put the boot on me at first, but the officer in command ordered them to
try the thumbscrews.  This was lucky, for a man may get along with
damaged thumbs, but it would have been hard to travel with crippled
legs!  I held out though, until the pain became so great that I couldn't
help giving a tremendous yell.  This seemed to touch the officer with
pity, for he ordered his men to let me be.  Soon afterwards your mother
and I managed to give them the slip, and we came on here."

"But why came you here, uncle?" asked Will.

"Because I don't want to be taken to Edinburgh and hanged.  Besides,
after hearing of your temporary settlement with Black, I thought the
safest place for your mother would be beside yourself."

When Wallace explained the cause of his own journey, and the condition
of the district around Black's farm, the plans of David Spence had to be
altered.  He resolved, after consideration and prayer, to take to the
mountains and remain in hiding, while Mrs. Wallace should go to
Edinburgh, as already planned, and live with Mrs. Black.

"But it will never do to take her along with yourself, Will," said
Spence.  "She cannot walk a step farther.  We must try to get her a
horse, and let her journey along with some o' the armed bands that
attended the conventicle at Skeoch Hill.  They will be sure to be
returning this way in a day or two."

"You are right," said the minister who has already been introduced, and
who overheard the concluding remark as he came forward.  "The armed men
will be passing this way in a day or two, and we will take good care of
your mother, young sir, while she remains with us."

"Just so," rejoined Spence.  "I'll see to that; so, nephew, you and your
comrade Quentin may continue your journey with easy minds.  You'll need
all your caution to avoid being taken up and convicted, for the tyrants
are in such a state of mind just now that if a man only _looks_
independent they suspect him, and there is but a short road between
suspicion and the gallows now."

"Humph! we'll be as innocent-lookin' an' submissive as bairns," remarked
Quentin Dick, with a grim smile on his lips and a frown on his brow that
were the reverse of childlike.

Convinced that Spence's arrangement for his mother's safety was the best
in the circumstances, Wallace left her, though somewhat reluctantly, in
the care of the outlawed Covenanters, and resumed his journey with the
shepherd after a few hours' rest.

Proceeding with great caution, they succeeded in avoiding the soldiers
who scoured the country until, towards evening, while crossing a rising
ground they were met suddenly by two troopers.  A thicket and bend in
the road had, up to that moment, concealed them from view.  Level
grass-fields bordered the road on either side, so that successful flight
was impossible.

"Wull ye fecht?" asked Quentin, in a quick subdued voice.

"Of course I will," returned Wallace.

"Ca' canny at first, then.  Be humble an' _awfu'_ meek, till I say

The troopers were upon them almost as soon as this was uttered.

"Ho! my fine fellows," exclaimed one of them, riding up to Quentin with
drawn sword, "fanatics, I'll be bound.  Where from and where away now?"

"We come, honoured sir, frae Irongray, an' we're gaun to Ed'nbury t' buy
cattle," answered Quentin with downcast eyes.

"Indeed, oho! then you must needs have the cash wherewith to buy the
cattle.  Where is it?"

"In ma pooch," said the shepherd with a deprecating glance at his

"Hand it over, then, my good fellow.  Fanatics are not allowed to have
money or to purchase cattle nowadays."

"But, honoured sir, we're no fannyteeks.  We're honest shepherds."

The lamb-like expression of Quentin Dick's face as he said this was such
that Wallace had considerable difficulty in restraining an outburst of
laughter, despite their critical position.  He maintained his gravity,
however, and firmly grasped his staff, which, like that of his
companion, was a blackthorn modelled somewhat on the pattern of the club
of Hercules.

"Here, Melville," said the first trooper, "hold my horse while I ease
this `honest shepherd' of his purse."

Sheathing his sword, he drew a pistol from its holster, and, handing the
reins to his companion, dismounted.

"NOO!" exclaimed Quentin, bringing his staff down on the trooper's iron
headpiece with a terrific thwack.  Like a flash of lightning the club of
Wallace rang and split upon that of the other horseman, who fell
headlong to the ground.

Strong arms have seldom occasion to repeat a well-delivered blow.  While
the soldiers lay prone upon the road their startled horses galloped back
the way they had come.

"That's unfort'nit," said Quentin.  "Thae twa look like an
advance-gaird, an' if so, the main body'll no be lang o' gallopin' up to
see what's the maitter.  It behoves us to rin!"

The only port of refuge that appeared to them as they looked quickly
round was a clump of trees on a ridge out of which rose the spire of a

"The kirk's but a puir sanctuary nooadays," remarked the shepherd, as he
set off across the fields at a quick run, "but it's oor only chance."

They had not quite gained the ridge referred to when the danger that
Quentin feared overtook them.  A small company of dragoons was seen
galloping along the road.

"We may gain the wood before they see us," suggested Will Wallace.

"If it _was_ a wud I wadna care for the sodgers," replied his comrade,
"but it's only a bit plantation.  We'll jist mak' for the manse an' hide
if we can i' the coal-hole or some place."

As he spoke a shout from the troopers told that they had been seen, and
several of them leaving the road dashed across the field in pursuit.

Now, it chanced that at that quiet evening hour the young curate of the
district, the Reverend Frank Selby, was enjoying a game of quoits with a
neighbouring curate, the Reverend George Lawless, on a piece of ground
at the rear of the manse.  The Reverend Frank was a genial Lowlander of
the muscular type.  The Reverend George was a renegade Highland-man of
the cadaverous order.  The first was a harum-scarum young pastor with a
be-as-jolly-as-you-can spirit, and had accepted his office at the
recommendation of a relative in power.  The second was a mean-spirited
wolf in sheep's clothing, who, like his compatriot Archbishop Sharp, had
sold his kirk and country as well as his soul for what he deemed some
personal advantage.  As may well be supposed, neither of those curates
was a shining light in the ministry.

"Missed again!  I find it as hard to beat you, Lawless, as I do to get
my parishioners to come to church," exclaimed the Reverend Frank with a
good-humoured laugh as his quoit struck the ground and, having been
badly thrown, rolled away.

"That's because you treat your quoits carelessly, as you treat your
parishioners," returned the Reverend George, as he made a magnificent
throw and ringed the tee.

"Bravo! that's splendid!" exclaimed Selby.

"Not bad," returned Lawless.  "You see, you want more decision with the
throw--as with the congregation.  If you will persist in refusing to
report delinquents and have them heavily fined or intercommuned, you
must expect an empty church.  Mine is fairly full just now, and I have
weeded out most of the incorrigibles."

"I will never increase my congregation by such means, and I have no wish
to weed out the incorrigibles," rejoined Selby, becoming grave as he
made another and a better throw.

At that moment our fugitive shepherds, dashing round the corner of the
manse, almost plunged into the arms of the Reverend Frank Selby.  They
pulled up, panting and uncertain how to act.

"You seem in haste, friends," said the curate, with an urbane smile.

"Oot o' the fryin'-pan into the fire!" growled Quentin, grasping his
staff and setting his teeth.

"If you will condescend to explain the frying-pan I may perhaps relieve
you from the fire," said Selby with emphasis.

Wallace observed the tone and grasped at the forlorn hope.

"The dragoons are after us, sir," he said eagerly; "unless you can hide
us we are lost!"

"If you are honest men," interrupted the Reverend George Lawless, with
extreme severity of tone and look, "you have no occasion to hide--"

"Bub we're _not_ honest men," interrupted Quentin in a spirit of almost
hilarious desperation, "we're fannyteeks,--rebels,--Covenanters,--born

"Then," observed Lawless, with increasing austerity, "you richly

"George!" said the Reverend Frank sharply, "you are in my parish just
now, and I expect you to respect my wishes.  Throw your plaids, sticks,
and bonnets behind that bush, my lads--well out of sight--so.  Now, cast
your coats, and join us in our game."

The fugitives understood and swiftly obeyed him.  While they were
hastily stripping off their coats Selby took his brother curate aside,
and, looking him sternly in the face, said--"Now, George Lawless, if you
by word or look interfere with my plans, I will give you cause to repent
it to the latest day of your life."

If any one had seen the countenance of the Reverend George at that
moment he would have observed that it became suddenly clothed with an
air of meekness that was by no means attractive.

At the time we write of, any curate might, with the assistance of the
soldiers, fine whom he pleased, and as much as he pleased, or he might,
by reporting a parishioner an absentee from public worship, consign him
or her to prison, or even to the gallows.  But though all the curates
were in an utterly false position they were not all equally depraved.
Selby was one who felt more or less of shame at the contemptible part he
was expected to play.

When the troopers came thundering round the corner of the manse a few
minutes later, Quentin Dick, in his shirt sleeves, was in the act of
making a beautiful throw, and Will Wallace was watching him with
interest.  Even the Reverend George seemed absorbed in the game, for he
felt that the eyes of the Reverend Frank were upon him.

"Excuse me, gentlemen," said the officer in command of the soldiers,
"did you see two shepherds run past here?"

"No," answered the Reverend Frank with a candid smile, "I saw no
shepherds run past here."

"Strange!" returned the officer, "they seemed to enter your shrubbery
and to disappear near the house."

"Did you see the path that diverges to the left and takes down to the
thicket in the hollow?" asked Selby.

"Yes, I did, but they seemed to have passed that when we lost sight of

"Let me advise you to try it now," said Selby.

"I will," replied the officer, wheeling his horse round and galloping
off, followed by his men.

"Now, friends, I have relieved you from the fire, as I promised," said
the Reverend Frank, turning to the shepherds; "see that you don't get
into the frying-pan again.  Whether you deserve hanging or not is best
known to yourselves.  To say truth, you don't look like it, but, judging
from appearance, I should think that in these times you're not unlikely
to get it.  On with your coats and plaids and be off as fast as you
can--over the ridge yonder.  In less than half-an-hour you'll be in
Denman's Dean, where a regiment of cavalry would fail to catch you."

"We shall never forget you--"

"There, there," interrupted the Reverend Frank, "be off.  The troopers
will soon return.  I've seen more than enough of hanging, quartering,
and shooting to convince me that Presbytery is not to be rooted out, nor
Prelacy established, by such means.  Be off, I say!"

Thus urged, the fugitives were not slow to avail themselves of the
opportunity, and soon were safe in Denman's Dean.

"Now, Lawless," said the Reverend Frank in a cheerful tone, "my
conscience, which has been depressed of late, feels easier this evening.
Let us go in to supper; and _remember_ that no one knows about this
incident except you--and I.  So, there's no chance of its going

"The two rebels know it," suggested Lawless.

"No, they don't!" replied the other airily.  "They have quite forgotten
it by this time, and even if it should recur to memory their own
interest and gratitude would seal their lips--so we're quite safe, you
and I; quite safe--come along."

Our travellers met with no further interruption until they reached
Edinburgh.  It was afternoon when they arrived, and, entering by the
road that skirts the western base of the Castle rock, proceeded towards
the Grassmarket.

Pushing through the crowd gathered in that celebrated locality, Quentin
and Wallace ascended the steep street named Candlemaker Row, which led
and still leads to the high ground that has since been connected with
the High Street by George the Fourth Bridge.  About half-way up the
ascent they came to a semicircular projection which encroached somewhat
on the footway.  It contained a stair which led to the interior of one
of the houses.  Here was the residence of Mrs. Black, the mother of our
friend Andrew.  The good woman was at home, busily engaged with her
knitting needles, when her visitors entered.

A glance sufficed to show Wallace whence Andrew Black derived his grave,
quiet, self-possessed character, as well as his powerful frame and
courteous demeanour.

She received Quentin Dick, to whom she was well known, with a mixture of
goodwill and quiet dignity.

"I've brought a freend o' Mr. Black's to bide wi' ye for a wee while, if
ye can take him in," said Quentin, introducing his young companion as
"Wull Wallace."

"I'm prood to receive an' welcome ony freend o' my boy Andry," returned
the good woman, with a slight gesture that would have become a duchess.

"Ay, an' yer son wants ye to receive Wallace's mither as weel.  She'll
likely be here in a day or twa.  She's been sair persecooted of late,
puir body, for she's a staunch upholder o' the Covenants."

There have been several Covenants in Scotland, the most important
historically being the National Covenant of 1638, and the Solemn League
and Covenant of 1643.  It was to these that Quentin referred, and to
these that he and the great majority of the Scottish people clung with
intense, almost superstitious veneration; and well they might, for these
Covenants--which some enthusiasts had signed with their blood--contained
nearly all the principles which lend stability and dignity to a people--
such as a determination to loyally stand by and "defend the King," and
"the liberties and laws of the kingdom," to have before the eyes "the
glory of God, the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ, the honour and happiness of the King and his posterity, as
well as the safety and peace of the people; to preserve the rights and
privileges of Parliament, so that arbitrary and unlimited power should
never be suffered to fall into the hands of rulers, and to vindicate and
maintain the liberties of the subjects in all these things which concern
their consciences, persons, and estates."  In short, it was a testimony
for constitutional government in opposition to absolutism.

Such were the principles for which Mrs. Black contended with a
resolution equal, if not superior, to that of her stalwart son; so that
it was in a tone of earnest decision that she assured her visitors that
nothing would gratify her more than to receive a woman who had suffered
persecution for the sake o' the Master an' the Covenants.  She then
ushered Wallace and Quentin Dick into her little parlour--a humble but
neatly kept apartment, the back window of which--a hole not much more
than two feet square--commanded a view of the tombstones and monuments
of Greyfriars' Churchyard.



Mrs. Black was a woman of sedate character and considerable knowledge
for her station in life--especially in regard to Scripture.  Like her
son she was naturally grave and thoughtful, with a strong tendency to
analyse, and to inquire into the nature and causes of things.  Unlike
Andrew, however, all her principles and her creed were fixed and well
defined--at least in her own mind, for she held it to be the bounden
duty of every Christian to be ready at all times to give a "reason" for
the hope that is in him, as well as for every opinion that he holds.
Her natural kindness was somewhat concealed by slight austerity of

She was seated, one evening, plying her ever active needle, at the same
small window which overlooked the churchyard.  The declining sun was
throwing dark shadows across the graves.  A ray of it gleamed on a
corner of the particular tombstone which, being built against her house,
slightly encroached upon her window.  No one was with the old woman save
a large cat, to whom she was in the habit of addressing occasional
remarks of a miscellaneous nature, as if to relieve the tedium of
solitude with the fiction of intercourse.

"Ay, pussie," she said, "ye may weel wash yer face an' purr, for there's
nae fear o' _you_ bein' dragged before Airchbishop Sherp to hae yer
thoombs screwed, or yer legs squeezed in the--"

She stopped abruptly, for heavy footsteps were heard on the spiral
stair, and next moment Will Wallace entered.

"Well, Mrs. Black," he said, sitting down in front of her, "it's all
settled with Bruce.  I'm engaged to work at his forge, and have already
begun business."

"So I see, an' ye look business-like," answered the old woman, with a
very slight smile, and a significant glance at our hero's costume.

A considerable change had indeed taken place in the personal appearance
of Will Wallace since his arrival in Edinburgh, for in place of the
shepherd's garb, with which he had started from the "bonnie hills of
Galloway," he wore the leathern apron and other habiliments of a
blacksmith.  Moreover his hair had been allowed to grow in luxuriant
natural curls about his head, and as the sun had bronzed him during his
residence with Black, and a young beard and moustache had begun to
assert themselves in premature vigour, his whole aspect was that of a
grand heroic edition of his former self.

"Yes, the moment I told your friend," said Wallace, "that you had sent
me to him, and that I was one of those who had good reason to conceal
myself from observation, he gave me a hearty shake of the hand and
accepted my offer of service; all the more that, having already some
knowledge of his craft, I did not require teaching.  So he gave me an
apron and set me to work at once.  I came straight from the forge just
as I left off work to see what you would think of my disguise."

"Ye'll do, ye'll do," returned Mrs. Black, with a nod of approval.  "Yer
face an' hands need mair washin' than my pussie gies her nose!  But
wheesht!  I hear a fit on the stair.  It'll be Quentin Dick.  I sent him
oot for a red herrin' or twa for supper."

As she spoke, Quentin entered with a brown paper parcel, the contents of
which were made patent by means of scent without the aid of sight.

The shepherd seemed a little disconcerted at sight of a stranger, for,
as Wallace stood up, the light did not fall on his face; but a second
glance sufficed to enlighten him.

"No' that bad," he said, surveying the metamorphosed shepherd, "but I
doot yer auld friends the dragoons wad sune see through 't--considerin'
yer size an' the soond o' yer voice."

So saying he proceeded to place the red herrings on a gridiron, as if he
were the recognised cook of the establishment.

Presently Bruce himself--Mrs. Black's friend the blacksmith--made his
appearance, and the four were soon seated round a supper of oat-cakes,
mashed potatoes, milk, and herring.  For some time they discussed the
probability of Wallace being recognised by spies as one who had attended
the conventicle at Irongray, or by dragoons as a deserter; then, as
appetite was appeased, they diverged to the lamentable state of the
country, and the high-handed doings of the Privy Council.

"The Airchbishop cam' to the toon this mornin'," remarked Mrs. Black,
"so there'll be plenty o' torterin' gaun on."

"I fear you're right," said Bruce, who, having sojourned a considerable
time in England, had lost much of his northern language and accent.
"That horrible instrument, the _boot_, was brought this very morning to
my smiddy for repair.  They had been so hard on some poor wretch, I
suppose, that they broke part of it, but I put a flaw into its heart
that will force them to be either less cruel or to come to me again for

"H'm! if ye try thae pranks ower often they'll find it oot," said
Quentin.  "Sherp is weel named, and if he suspects what ye've done,
ye'll get a taste of the buit yersel'."

The hatred with which by far the greater part of the people of Scotland
regarded Archbishop Sharp of Saint Andrews is scarcely a matter of
wonder when the man's character and career is considered.  Originally a
Presbyterian, and Minister of Crail, he was sent to Court by his
brethren and countrymen as their advocate and agent, and maintained
there at their expense for the express purpose of watching over the
interests of their church.  Sharp not only betrayed his trust but went
over to what might well at that time be described as "the enemy," and
secretly undermined the cause which he was bound in honour to support.
Finally he threw off all disguise, and was rewarded by being made
Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Primate of Scotland!  This was bad
enough, but the new Prelate, not satisfied with the gratification of his
ambition, became, after the manner of apostates, a bitter persecutor of
the friends he had betrayed.  Charles the Second, who was indolent,
incapable and entirely given over to self-indulgence, handed over the
affairs of Scotland to an unprincipled cabal of laymen and churchmen,
who may be fittingly described as drunken libertines.  By these men--of
whom Middleton, Lauderdale, and Sharp were the chief--all the laws
passed in favour of Presbytery were rescinded; new tyrannical laws such
as we have elsewhere referred to were enacted and ruthlessly enforced;
Prelacy was established; the Presbyterian Church was laid in ruins, and
all who dared to question the righteousness of these transactions were
pronounced rebels and treated as such.  There was no impartial tribunal
to which the people could appeal.  The King, who held Presbyterianism to
be unfit for a gentleman, cared for none of these things, and even if he
had it would have mattered little, for those about him took good care
that he should not be approached or enlightened as to the true state of
affairs in Scotland.

Sharp himself devised and drafted a new edict empowering any officer or
sergeant to kill on the spot any armed man whom he found returning from
or going to a conventicle, and he was on the point of going to London to
have this edict confirmed when his murderous career was suddenly

In the days of James the Sixth and Charles the First, the bishops,
although forced on the Scottish Church and invested with certain
privileges, were subject to the jurisdiction of the General Assembly,
but soon after Charles the Second mounted the throne ecclesiastical
government was vested entirely in their hands, and all the ministers who
refused to recognise their usurped authority were expelled.

It was in 1662 that the celebrated Act was passed by Middleton and his
colleagues in Glasgow College.  It provided that all ministers must
either submit to the bishops or remove themselves and families out of
their manses, churches, and parishes within a month.  It was known as
the "Drunken Act of Glasgow," owing to the condition of the legislators.
Four hundred brave and true men left their earthly all at that time,
rather than violate conscience and forsake God.  Their example
ultimately saved the nation from despotism.

The Archbishop of Saint Andrews was chief in arrogance and cruelty among
his brethren.  He afterwards obtained permission to establish a High
Commission Court in Scotland--in other words, an Inquisition--for
summarily executing all laws, acts, and orders in favour of Episcopacy
and against recusants, clergy and laity.  It was under this authority
that all the evil deeds hitherto described were done, and of this
Commission Sharp was constant president.

It may be well to remark here that the Prelacy which was so detested by
the people of Scotland was not English Episcopacy, but Scotch Prelacy.
It was, in truth, little better at that time than Popery disguised--a
sort of confused religio-political Popery, of which system the King was
self-constituted Pope, while his unprincipled minions of the council
were cardinals.

No wonder, then, that at the mere mention of Sharp's name Mrs. Black
shook her head sorrowfully, Bruce the blacksmith frowned darkly, and
Quentin Dick not only frowned but snorted vehemently, and smote the
table with such violence that the startled pussie fled from the scene in

"Save us a'!  Quentin," said Mrs. Black, "ye'll surely be hanged or shot
if ye dinna learn to subdue yer wrath."

"Subdue my wrath, wumman!" exclaimed the shepherd, grinding his teeth;
"if ye had seen the half o' what I've seen ye wad--but ye ken 'maist
naething aboot it!  Gie me some mair tatties an' mulk, it'll quiet me

In order that the reader may know something of one of the things about
which Mrs. Black, as well as Quentin Dick himself, was happily ignorant
at that time, we must change the scene once more to the neighbourhood of
Andrew Black's cottage.

It was early in the day, and the farmer was walking along the road that
led to Cluden Ford, bent on paying a visit to Dumfries, when he was
overtaken by a troop of about twenty horsemen.  They had ridden out of
the bush and come on the road so suddenly that Black had no time to
secrete himself.  Knowing that he was very much "wanted," especially
after the part he had played at the recent conventicle on Skeoch Hill,
he at once decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and
took to his heels.

No man in all the country-side could beat the stout farmer at a race
either short or long, but he soon found that four legs are more than a
match for two.  The troopers soon gained on him, though he ran like a
mountain hare.  Having the advantage, however, of a start of about three
hundred yards, he reached the bend in the road where it begins to
descend towards the ford before his pursuers overtook him.  But Andrew
felt that the narrow strip of wood beside which he was racing could not
afford him shelter and that the ford would avail him nothing.  In his
extremity he made up his mind to a desperate venture.

On his right an open glade revealed to him the dark gorge through which
the Cluden thundered.  The stream was in flood at the time, and
presented a fearful aspect of seething foam mingled with black rocks, as
it rushed over the lynn and through its narrow throat below.  A path led
to the brink of the gorge which is now spanned by the Routen Bridge.
From the sharp-edged cliff on one side to the equally sharp cliff on the
other was a width of considerably over twenty feet.  Towards this point
Andrew Black sped.  Close at his heels the dragoons followed,
Glendinning, on a superb horse, in advance of the party.  It was an
untried leap to the farmer, who nevertheless went at it like a
thunderbolt and cleared it like a stag.  The troopers behind, seeing the
nature of the ground, pulled up in time, and wheeling to the left, made
for the ford.  Glendinning, however, was too late.  The reckless
sergeant, enraged at being so often baulked by the farmer, had let his
horse go too far.  He tried to pull up but failed.  The effort to do so
rendered a leap impossible.  So near was he to the fugitive that the
latter was yet in the midst of his bound when the former went over the
precipice; head foremost, horse and all.  The poor steed fell on the
rocks below and broke his neck, but the rider was shot into the deep
dark pool round which the Cluden whirled in foam-flecked eddies.  In the
midst of its heaving waters he quickly arose flinging his long arms
wildly about, and shouting for help with bubbling cry.

The iron helm, jack-boots, and other accoutrements of a seventeenth
century trooper were not calculated to assist flotation.  Glendinning
would have terminated his career then and there if the flood had not
come to his aid by sweeping him into the shallow water at the lower end
of the pool, whence some of his men soon after rescued him.  Meanwhile,
Andrew Black, plunging into the woods on the opposite side of the river,
was soon far beyond the reach of his foes.

But escape was not now the chief anxiety of our farmer, and selfishness
formed no part of his character.  When he had left home, a short time
before, his niece Jean was at work in the dairy, Ramblin' Peter was
attending to the cattle, Marion Clark and her comrade, Isabel Scott were
busy with domestic affairs, and old Mrs. Mitchell--who never quite
recovered her reason--was seated in the chimney corner calmly knitting a

To warn these of their danger was now the urgent duty of the farmer, for
well he knew that the disappointed soldiers would immediately visit his
home.  Indeed, he saw them ride away in that direction soon afterwards,
and started off to forestall them if possible by taking a short cut.
Glendinning had borrowed the horse of a trooper and left the dismounted
man to walk after them.

But there was no particularly short cut to the cottage, and in spite of
Andrew's utmost exertions the dragoons arrived before him.  Not,
however, before the wary Peter had observed them, given the alarm, got
all the inmates of the farm--including Mrs. Mitchell--down into the
hidy-hole and established himself in the chimney corner with a look of
imbecile innocence that was almost too perfect.

Poor Peter! his heart sank when the door was flung violently open and
there entered a band of soldiers, among whom he recognised some of the
party which he had so recently led into the heart of a morass and so
suddenly left to find their way out as they best could.  But no
expression on Peter's stolid countenance betrayed his feelings.

"So, my young bantam cock," exclaimed a trooper, striding towards him,
and bending down to make sure, "we've got hold of you at last?"

"Eh?" exclaimed Peter interrogatively.

"You're a precious scoundrel, aren't you?" continued the trooper.

"Ay," responded Peter.

"I told you the lad was an idiot," said a comrade.  The remark was not
lost upon the boy, whose expression immediately became still more
idiotic if possible.

"Tell me," said Glendinning, grasping Peter savagely by one ear, "where
is your master?"

"I dinna ken, sir."

"Is there nobody in the house but you?"

"Naebody but me," said Peter, "an' _you_," he added, looking vacantly
round on the soldiers.

"Now, look 'ee here, lad, I'm not to be trifled with," said the
sergeant.  "Where are the rest of your household hidden?  Answer;

Peter looked into the sergeant's face with a vacant stare, but was
silent.  Glendinning, whose recent misfortune had rendered him unusually
cruel, at once knocked the boy down and kicked him; then lifting him by
the collar and thrusting him violently into the chair, repeated the
question, but received no answer.

Changing his tactics he tried to cajole him and offered him money, but
with similar want of success.

"Hand me your sword-belt," cried the sergeant to a comrade.

With the belt he thrashed Peter until he himself grew tired, but neither
word nor cry did he extract, and, again flinging him on the floor, he
kicked him severely.

"Here's a rope, sergeant," said one of the men at this point, "and
there's a convenient rafter.  A lad that won't speak is not fit to

"Nay, hanging is too good for the brute," said Glendinning, drawing a
pistol from his belt.  "Tie a cloth over his eyes."

Peter turned visibly paler while his eyes were being bandaged, and the
troopers thought that they had at last overcome his obstinacy, but they
little knew the heroic character they had to deal with.

"Now," said the sergeant, resting the cold muzzle of his weapon against
the boy's forehead, "at the word three your brains are on the floor if
you don't tell me where your people are hid--one--two--"

"Stop, sergeant, let him have a taste of the thumbscrews before you
finish him off," suggested one of the men.

"So be it--fetch them."

The horrible instrument of torture was brought.  It was constantly used
to extract confession from the poor Covenanters during the long years of
persecution of that black period of Scottish history.  Peter's thumbs
were placed in it and the screw was turned.  The monsters increased the
pressure by slow degrees, repeating the question at each turn of the
screw.  At first Peter bore the pain unmoved, but at last it became so
excruciating that his cheeks and lips seemed to turn grey, and an
appalling shriek burst from him at last.

Talk of devils!  The history of the human race has proved that when men
have deliberately given themselves over to high-handed contempt of their
Maker there is not a devil among all the legions in hell who could be
worse: he might be cleverer, he could not be more cruel.  The only
effect of the shriek upon Glendinning was to cause him to order another
turn of the screw.

Happily, at the moment the shriek was uttered Andrew Black arrived, and,
finding the troop-horses picketed outside, with no one apparently to
guard them, he looked in at the window and saw what was going on.

With a fierce roar of mingled horror, surprise, and rage, he sprang into
the room, and his huge fist fell on the brow of Glendinning like the
hammer of Thor.  His left shot full into the face of the man who had
worked the screws, and both troopers fell prone upon the floor with a
crash that shook the building.  The act was so quick, and so
overpoweringly violent that the other troopers were for a moment
spellbound.  That moment sufficed to enable Black to relieve the screws
and set Peter free.

"C'way oot, lad, after me!" cried Andrew, darting through the doorway,
for he felt that without more space to fight he would be easily
overpowered.  The dragoons, recovering, darted after him.  The farmer
caught up a huge flail with which he was wont to thresh out his oats.
It fell on the headpiece of the first trooper, causing it to ring like
an anvil, and stretching its owner on the ground.  The second trooper
fared no better, but the head of the flail broke into splinters on his
iron cap, and left Andrew with the stump only to continue the combat.
This, however, was no insignificant weapon, and the stout farmer laid
about him with such fierce rapidity as to check for a few moments the
overwhelming odds against him.  Pistols would certainly have been used
had not Glendinning, recovering his senses, staggered out and shouted,
"Take him _alive_, men!"  This was quickly done, for two troopers leaped
on Andrew behind and pinioned his arms while he was engaged with four in
front.  The four sprang on him at the same instant.  Even then Andrew
Black's broad back--which was unusually "up"--proved too strong for
them, for he made a sort of plunging somersault and carried the whole
six along with him to the ground.  Before he could rise, however, more
troopers were on the top of him.  Samson himself would have had to
succumb to the dead weight.  In a few seconds he was bound with ropes
and led into the house.  Ramblin' Peter had made a bold assault on a
dragoon at the beginning of the fray, but could do nothing with his poor
maimed hands, and was easily secured.

"Let him taste the thumbscrews," growled Glendinning savagely, and
pointing to Black.

"Dae yer warst, ye born deevil," said Black recklessly--for oppression
driveth even a wise man mad.

"Very good--fetch the boot," said the sergeant.

The instrument of torture was brought and affixed to the farmer's right
leg; the wedge was inserted, and a blow of the mallet given.

Black's whole visage seemed to darken, his frowning brows met, and his
lips were compressed with a force that meant endurance unto the death.

At that moment another party of dragoons under Captain Houston galloped
up, the captain entered, and, stopping the proceedings of his
subordinate, ordered Black and Peter to be set on horseback and bound

"Fire the place," he added.  "If there are people in it anywhere, that
will bring them out."

"Oh dear!" gasped Peter, "the hidy--"

"Wheesht, bairn," said Black in a low voice.  "They're safe enough.  The
fire'll no' touch them, an' besides, they're in the Lord's hands."

A few minutes more and the whole farm-steading was in flames.  The
dragoons watched the work of destruction until the roof of the cottage
fell in; then, mounting their horses, they descended to the road with
the two prisoners and turned their faces in the direction of Edinburgh.



One day, about a week after the burning of Black's farm, a select
dinner-party of red-hot rebels--as Government would have styled them;
persecuted people as they called themselves--assembled in Mrs. Black's
little room in Candlemaker Row.  Their looks showed that their meeting
was not for the purpose of enjoyment.  The party consisted of Mrs.
Black, Mrs. Wallace, who had reached Edinburgh in company with her
brother David Spence, Jean Black, Will Wallace, Quentin Dick, and Jock
Bruce the blacksmith.

"But I canna understand, lassie," said Mrs. Black to Jean, "hoo ye
werena a' roasted alive i' the hidy-hole, or suffocated at the best; an'
hoo did ye ever get oot wi' the ruckle o' burning rafters abune ye?"

"It was easy enough," answered the girl, "for Uncle Andry made the roof
o' the place uncommon thick, an' there's a short tunnel leadin' to some
bushes by the burn that let us oot at a place that canna be seen frae
the hoose.  But oh, granny, dinna ask me to speak aboot thae things, for
they may be torturin' Uncle Andry at this vera moment.  Are you sure it
was him ye saw?" she added, turning to Bruce.

"Quite sure," replied the smith.  "I chanced to be passing the Tolbooth
at the moment the door opened.  A party of the City Guard suddenly came
out with Black in the midst, and led him up the High Street."

"I'm _sure_ they'll torture him," said the poor girl, while the tears
began to flow at the dreadful thought.  "They stick at naethin' now."

"I think," said Will Wallace, in a tone that was meant to be comforting,
"that your uncle may escape the torture, for the Archbishop does not
preside at the Council to-day.  I hear that he has gone off suddenly to
Saint Andrews."

"That won't serve your uncle much," remarked Bruce sternly, "for some of
the other bishops are nigh as bad as Sharp, and with that raving monster
Lauderdale among them they're likely not only to torture but to hang
him, for he is well known, and has been long and perseveringly hunted."

In his indignation the smith did not think of the effect his foreboding
might have on his friend's mother, but the sight of her pale cheeks and
quivering lips was not lost upon Wallace, whose sympathies had already
been stirred deeply not only by his regard for Black, but also by his
pity for tender-hearted Jean.

"By heaven!" he exclaimed, starting up in a sudden burst of enthusiasm,
"if you will join me, friends, I am quite ready to attempt a rescue at

A sort of pleased yet half-cynical smile crossed the grave visage of
Quentin Dick as he glanced at the youth.

"Hoots, man! sit doon," he said quietly; "ye micht as weel try to rescue
a kid frae the jaws o' a lion as rescue Andry Black frae the fangs o'
Lauderdale an' his crew.  But something may be dune when they're takin'
him back to the Tolbooth--if ye're a' wullin' to help.  We mak' full
twunty-four feet amangst us, an' oor shoothers are braid!"

"I'm ready," said David Spence, in the quiet tone of a man who usually
acts from principle.

"An' so am I," cried Bruce, smiting the table with the fist of a man who
usually acts from impulse.

While Wallace calmed his impatient spirit, and sat down to hatch a plot
with his brother conspirators, a strange scene was enacting in the
Council Chamber, where the perjured prelates and peers were in the habit
of practising cruelty, oppression, and gross injustice under the name of

They sat beside a table which was covered with books and parchments.  In
front of them, seated on a chair with his arms pinioned, was Andrew
Black.  His face was pale and had a careworn look, but he held his head
erect, and regarded his judges with a look of stern resolution that
seemed to exasperate them considerably.  On the table lay a pair of
brass-mounted thumbscrews, and beside them the strange-looking
instrument of torture called the boot.  In regard to these machines
there is a passage in the Privy Council Records which gives an idea of
the spirit of the age about which we write.  It runs thus: "Whereas the
_boots_ were the ordinary way to explicate matters relating to the
Government, and there is now a new invention and engine called the
_Thumbkins_, which will be very effectual to the purpose aforesaid, the
Lords ordain that when any person shall by their order be put to the
torture, the said boots and thumbkins be applied to them, as it shall be
found fit and convenient."

Lauderdale on this occasion found it fit and convenient to apply the
torture to another man in the presence of Black, in order that the
latter might fully appreciate what he had to expect if he should remain
contumacious.  The poor man referred to had not been gifted with a
robust frame or a courageous spirit.  When asked, however, to reveal the
names of some comrades who had accompanied him to a field-preaching he
at first loyally and firmly refused to do so.  Then the boot was
applied.  It was a wooden instrument which enclosed the foot and lower
limb of the victim.  Between it and the leg a wedge was inserted which,
when struck repeatedly, compressed the limb and caused excruciating
agony.  In some cases this torture was carried so far that it actually
crushed the bone, causing blood and marrow to spout forth.  It was so in
the case of that well-known martyr of the Covenant, Hugh McKail, not
long before his execution.

The courage of the poor man of whom we now write gave way at the second
stroke of the mallet, and, at the third, uttering a shriek of agony, he
revealed, in short gasps, the names of all the comrades he could recall.
Let us not judge him harshly until we have undergone the same ordeal
with credit!  A look of intense pity overspread the face of Andrew Black
while this was going on.  His broad chest heaved, and drops of
perspiration stood on his brow.  He had evidently forgotten himself in
his strong sympathy with the unhappy martyr.  When the latter was
carried out, in a half fainting condition, he turned to Lauderdale, and,
frowning darkly, said--

"Thou meeserable sinner, cheeld o' the deevil, an' enemy o' a'
righteousness, div 'ee think that your blood-stained haund can owerturn
the cause o' the Lord?"

This speech was received with a flush of anger, quickly followed by a
supercilious smile.

"We shall see.  Get the boot ready there.  Now, sir," (turning to
Black), "answer promptly--Will you subscribe the oath of the King's

"No--that I wull _not_.  I acknowledge nae king ower my conscience but
the King o' Kings.  As for that perjured libertine on the throne, for
whom there's muckle need to pray, I tell ye plainly that I consider the
freedom and welfare o' Scotland stands higher than the supposed rights
o' king and lords.  Ye misca' us rebels!  If ye ken the history o' yer
ain country--whilk I misdoot--ye would ken that the Parliaments o' baith
Scotland an' England have laid it doon, in declaration and in practice,
that resistance to the exercise o' arbitrary power is _lawfu'_,
therefore resistance to Chairles and you, his shameless flunkeys, is nae
mair rebellion than it's rebellion in a cat to flee in the face o' a
bull-doug that wants to worry her kittens.  Against the tyrant that has
abused his trust, an' upset oor constitution, an' broken a' the laws o'
God and man, I count it to be my bounden duty to fecht wi' swurd an' lip
as lang's I hae an airm to strike an' a tongue to wag.  Noo, ye may dae
yer warst!"

At a signal the executioner promptly fitted the boot to the bold man's
right leg.

Black's look of indignant defiance passed away, and was replaced by an
expression of humility that, strangely enough, seemed rather to
intensify than diminish his air of fixed resolve.  While the instrument
of torture was being arranged he turned his face to the Bishop of
Galloway, who sat beside Lauderdale silently and sternly awaiting the
result, and with an almost cheerful air and quiet voice said--

"God has, for His ain wise ends, made the heart o' the puir man that has
just left us tender, an' He's made mine teuch, but tak' notice, thou
wolf in sheep's clothing, that it's no upon its teuchness but upon the
speerit o' the Lord that I depend for grace to withstand on this evil

"Strike!" said the Duke, in a low stern voice.

The mallet fell; the wedge compressed the strong limb, and Andrew
compressed his lips.


A second time the mallet fell, but no sign did the unhappy man give of
the pain which instantly began to shoot through the limb.  After a few
more blows the Duke stayed the process and reiterated his questions, but
Black took no notice of him whatever.  Large beads of sweat broke out on
his brow.  These were the only visible signs of suffering, unless we
except the deathly pallor of his face.

"Again!" said the merciless judge.

The executioner obeyed, but the blow had been barely delivered when a
loud snap was heard, and the tortured man experienced instant relief.
Jock Bruce's little device had been successful, the instrument of
torture was broken!

"Thanks be to Thy name, O God, for grace to help me thus far," said
Black in a quiet tone.

"Fix on the other boot," cried Lauderdale savagely, for the constancy as
well as the humility of the martyr exasperated him greatly.

The executioner was about to obey when a noise was heard at the door of
the Council Chamber, and a cavalier, booted and spurred and splashed
with mud, as if he had ridden fast and far, strode hastily up to the
Duke and whispered in his ear.  The effect of the whisper was striking,
for an expression of mingled surprise, horror, and alarm overspread for
a few moments even his hard visage.  At the same time the Bishop of
Galloway was observed to turn deadly pale, and an air of consternation
generally marked the members of Council.

"Murdered--in cold blood!" muttered the Duke, as if he could not quite
believe the news,--and perhaps realised for the first time that there
were others besides the Archbishop of Saint Andrews who richly deserved
a similar fate.

Hastily ordering the prisoner to be removed to the Tolbooth, he retired
with his infamous companions to an inner room.

The well-known historical incident which was thus announced shall
receive but brief comment here.  There is no question at all as to the
fact that Sharp was unlawfully killed, that he was cruelly slain,
without trial and without judicial condemnation, by a party of
Covenanters.  Nothing justifies illegal killing.  The justice of even
legal killing is still an unsettled question, but one which does not
concern us just now.  We make no attempt to defend the deed of those
men.  It is not probable that any average Christian, whether in favour
of the Covenanters or against them, would justify the killing of an old
man by illegal means, however strongly he might hold the opinion that
the old man deserved to die.  In order to form an unprejudiced opinion
on this subject recourse must be had to facts.  The following are
briefly the facts of the case.

A merchant named William Carmichael, formerly a bailie of Edinburgh, was
one of Sharp's favourites, and one of his numerous commissioners for
suppressing conventicles in Fife.  He was a licentious profligate,
greedy of money, and capable of undertaking any job, however vile.  This
man's enormities were at last so unbearable that he became an object of
general detestation, and his excessive exactions had ruined so many
respectable lairds, owners, and tenants, that at last nine of these (who
had been outlawed, interdicted the common intercourse of society, and
hunted like wild beasts on the mountains) resolved, since all other
avenues of redressing their unjust sufferings were denied them, to take
the law into their own hands and personally chastise Carmichael.
Accordingly, hearing that the commissioner was hunting on the moors in
the neighbourhood of Cupar, they rode off in search of him.  They failed
to find him, and were about to disperse, when a boy brought intelligence
that the coach of Archbishop Sharp was approaching.

Baffled in their previous search, and smarting under the sense of their
intolerable wrongs, the party regarded this as a providential
deliverance of their arch-enemy into their hands.  Here was the chief
cause of all their woes, the man who, more almost than any other, had
been instrumental in the persecution and ruin of many families, in the
torture and death of innumerable innocent men and women, and the
banishment of some of their nearest and dearest to perpetual exile on
the plantations, where they were treated as slaves.  They leaped at the
sudden and unexpected opportunity.  They reasoned that what had been
done in the past, and was being done at the time, would continue to be
done in the future, for there was no symptom of improvement, but rather
of increasing severity in the Government and ecclesiastics.  Overtaking
the coach, which contained the Prelate and his daughter, they stopped
it, made Archbishop Sharp step out, and slew him there on Magus Moor.

It was a dark unwarrantable deed, but it was unpremeditated, and
necessarily unknown, at first, to any but the perpetrators, so that it
would be inexcusably unfair to saddle it upon the great body of the
Covenanters, who, as far as we can ascertain from their writings and
opinions, condemned it, although, naturally, they could not but feel
relieved to think that one of their chief persecutors was for evermore
powerless for further evil, and _some_ of them refused to admit that the
deed was murder.  They justified it by the case of Phinehas.  A better
apology lies in the text, "oppression maketh a wise man mad."

This event had the effect, apparently, of causing the Council to forget
our friends Black and Ramblin' Peter for a time, for they were left in
the Tolbooth for about three weeks after that, whereat Andrew was much
pleased, for it gave his maimed limb time to recover.  As Peter remarked
gravely, "it's an ill wund that blaws naebody guid!"

A robust and earnest nation cannot be subdued by persecution.  The more
the Council tyrannised over and trampled upon the liberties of the
people of Scotland, the more resolutely did the leal-hearted and brave
among them resist the oppressors.  It is ever thus.  It ever _should_ be
thus; for while an individual man has a perfect right, if he chooses, to
submit to tyranny on his own account, he has no right to stand tamely by
and see gross oppression and cruelty exercised towards his family, and
neighbours, and country.  At least, if he does so, he earns for himself
the character of an unpatriotic poltroon.  True patriotism consists in a
readiness to sacrifice one's-self to the national well-being.  As far as
things temporal are concerned, the records of the Scottish Covenanters
prove incontestably that those long-tried men and women submitted with
unexampled patience for full eight-and-twenty years to the spoiling of
their goods and the ruin of their prospects; but when it came to be a
question of submission to the capricious will of the King or loyalty to
Jesus Christ, thousands of them chose the latter alternative, and many
hundreds sealed their testimony with their blood.

When at last the question arose, "Shall we consent to the free preaching
of the Gospel being suppressed altogether, or shall we assert our rights
at the point of the sword?" there also arose very considerable
difference of opinion among the Covenanters.  Many of those who held the
peace-at-almost-any-price principle, counselled submission.  Others,
such as Richard Cameron, Donald Cargill, and Thomas Douglas, who
believed in the right of self-defence, and in such a text as "smite a
scorner and the simple will beware," advocated the use of carnal weapons
for _protection alone_, although, when driven to desperation, they were
compelled to go further.  Some of the ejected ministers, such as
Blackadder and Welsh, professed to be undecided on this point, and leant
to a more or less submissive course.

Matters were now hastening to a crisis.  A lawless Government had forced
a law-abiding people into the appearance, though not the reality, of
rebellion.  The bands of armed men who assembled at conventicles became
so numerous as to have the appearance of an army.  The council,
exasperated and alarmed, sent forth more troops to disperse and suppress
these, though they had been guilty of no act of positive hostility.

At this crisis, Cargill and his friends, the "ultra-Covenanters," as
they were styled, resolved to publish to the world their "Testimony to
the cause and truth which they defended, and against the sins and
defections of the times."  They chose the 29th of May for this purpose,
that being the anniversary of the King's birth and restoration.  Led by
Robert Hamilton, a small party of them rode into the royal burgh of
Rutherglen; and there, after burning various tyrannical Acts--as their
adversaries had previously burnt the Covenants--they nailed to the cross
a copy of what is now known as the Declaration of Rutherglen, in which
all their grievances were set forth.

The news of this daring act spread like wildfire, and the notorious
Graham of Claverhouse was sent to seize, kill, and destroy, all who took
any part in this business.  How Claverhouse went with his disciplined
dragoons, seized John King, chaplain to Lord Cardross, with about
fourteen other prisoners, in passing through Hamilton, tied them in
couples, drove them before the troops like sheep, attacked the
Covenanters at Drumclog, received a thorough defeat from the
undisciplined "rebels," who freed the prisoners, and sent the dragoons
back completely routed to Glasgow, is matter of history.

While these stirring events were going on, our friend Andrew Black and
Ramblin' Peter were languishing in the unsavoury shades of the Tolbooth

One forenoon Andrew was awakened from an uneasy slumber.  They bade him
rise.  His arms were bound with a rope, and he was led up the Canongate
towards the well-remembered Council Chamber, in company with Ramblin'
Peter, who, owing to his size and youth, was not bound, but merely held
in the grasp of one of the guards.

At the mouth of one of the numerous closes which lead down to the
Cowgate and other parts of the old town stood Will Wallace, Quentin
Dick, David Spence, and Jock Bruce, each armed with a heavy blackthorn.
Bruce had been warned by a friendly turnkey of what was pending--hence
their opportune presence.

As soon as the prison party was opposite the close, the rescue party
made a united rush--and the united rush of four such strapping fellows
was worth seeing.  So thought the crowd, and cheered.  So thought not
the City Guard, four of whom went down like ninepins.  Black's bonds
were cut and himself hurried down the close almost before the guard had
recovered from the surprise.  No doubt that guard was composed of brave
men; but when they met two such lions in the mouth of the close as
Wallace and Quentin--for these two turned at bay--they paused and
levelled their pikes.  Turning these aside like lightning the lions
felled their two foremost adversaries.  The two who followed them met a
similar fate.  Thinking that four were sufficient to block the entry, at
least for a few moments, our heroes turned, unlionlike, and fled at a
pace that soon left the enemy far behind.

This delay had given time to Black and his other friends to make good
their retreat.  Meanwhile Ramblin' Peter, taking advantage of the
confusion, wrenched himself suddenly free from the guard who held him,
and vanished down another close.  The rescue having been effected, the
party purposely scattered.  Black's leg, however, prevented him from
running fast.  He therefore thought it best to double round a corner,
and dash into a doorway, trusting to having been unobserved.  In this,
however, he was mistaken.  His enemies, indeed, saw him not, but
Ramblin' Peter chanced to see him while at some distance off, and made
for the same place of refuge.

Springing up a spiral stair, three steps at a time, Black did not stop
till he gained the attics, and leaped through the open doorway of a
garret, where he found an old woman wailing over a bed on which lay the
corpse of a man with a coffin beside it.

"What want ye here?" demanded the old creature angrily.

"Wow! wumman, I'm hard pressed!  They're at my heels!" said Black,
looking anxiously at the skylight as if meditating a still higher

"Are ye ane o' the persecuted remnant?" asked the woman in a changed

"Ay, that am I."

"Hide, then, hide, man--haste ye!"

"Where?" asked the perplexed fugitive.  "There," said the woman,
removing the coffin lid.  Andrew hesitated.  Just then hurrying
footsteps were heard on the stair.  He hesitated no longer.  Stepping
into the coffin he lay down, and the woman covered him up.

"Oh, wumman!" said Black, lifting the lid a little, "tak' care ye dinna
meddle wi' the screw-nails.  They may--"

"Wheesht!  Haud yer tongue!" growled the woman sharply, and reclosed the
lid with a bang, just as Ramblin' Peter burst into the room.

"What want ye here, callant?"

Peter drew back in dismay.

"I'm lookin' for--I was thinkin'--Did 'ee see a man--?"

The lid of the coffin flew off as he spoke, and his master sprang out.

"Man, Peter," gasped the farmer, "yours is the sweetest voice I've heard
for mony a day.  I verily thocht I was doomed--but come awa', lad.
Thank 'ee kindly, auld wife, for the temporary accommodation."

The intruders left as abruptly as they had entered.  That night the
whole party was reassembled in Mrs. Black's residence in Candlemaker
Row, where, over a supper "o' parritch an' soor mulk," Andrew Black
heard from Jock Bruce all about the Declaration of Rutherglen, and the
defeat of Claverhouse by the Covenanters at Drumclog.

"The thundercloods are gatherin'," said Black with a grave shake of the
head, as the party broke up and were about to separate for the night.
"Tak' my word for 't, we'll hear mair o' this afore lang."

We need scarcely add that on this occasion Andrew was a true prophet.



Matters had now come to such a pass that it was no longer possible to
defer the evil day of civil war.

Persecuted inhumanly and beyond endurance, with every natural avenue of
redress closed, and flushed with recent victory, the Covenanters
resolved not only to hold together for defensive purposes, but to take
the initiative, push their advantage, and fight for civil and religious
liberty.  It was the old, old fight, which has convulsed the world
probably since the days of Eden--the uprising of the persecuted many
against the tyrannical few.  In the confusions of a sin-stricken world,
the conditions have been occasionally and partially reversed; but, for
the most part, history's record tells of the abuse of power on the part
of the few who possess it, and the resulting consequence that:--

  "Man's inhumanity to man
  Makes countless thousands mourn--"

Until the down-trodden have turned at bay, and, like the French in 1793,
have taken fearful vengeance, or, as in the case of the Covenanters at
the time of which we write, have reaped only disaster and profounder

There were, however, two elements of weakness among the Covenanters in
1679 which rendered all their efforts vain, despite the righteousness of
their cause.  One was that they were an undisciplined body, without
appointed and experienced officers; while their leader, Robert Hamilton,
was utterly unfitted by nature as well as training for a military
command.  The other weakness was, that the unhappy differences of
opinion among them as to lines of duty, to which we have before
referred, became more and more embittered, instead of being subordinated
to the stern necessities of the hour.

The earnest men of God amongst them could no doubt have brought things
to a better state in this crisis if their counsels had prevailed, but
the men whose powers of endurance had at last given way were too many
and strong for these; so that, instead of preparing for united action,
the turbulent among them continued their dissensions until too late.

After Drumclog, Hamilton led his men to Glasgow to attack the enemy's
headquarters there.  He was repulsed, and then retired to Hamilton,
where he formed a camp.

The Privy Council meanwhile called out the militia, and ordered all the
heritors and freeholders to join with the Regulars in putting down the
insurrection.  A good many people from all quarters had joined the
Covenanters after the success at Drumclog; but it is thought that their
numbers never exceeded 4000.  The army which prepared to meet them under
the command of the Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch was said to be 10,000
strong--among them were some of the best of the King's troops.

The Duke was anxious to delay matters, apparently with some hope of
reconciliation.  Many of the Covenanters were like-minded; and it is
said that Mr. Welsh visited the royal camp in disguise, with a view to a
peaceful solution; but the stern spirits in both camps rendered this
impossible.  Some from principle, others from prejudice, could not see
their way to a compromise; while the unprincipled on either side "cried
havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!"

It was on Sabbath the 22nd of June that the Duke's army reached Bothwell
Moor; the advanced guards entering Bothwell town within a quarter of a
mile of the bridge which spans the Clyde.  The Covenanters lay encamped
on Hamilton Moor, on the southern side of the river.

That morning a company of stalwart young men, coming from the direction
of Edinburgh, had crossed Bothwell Bridge before the arrival of the
royal army and joined the Covenanters.  They were preceded by two men on

"It seems a daft-like thing," said one horseman to the other as they
traversed the moor, "that the likes o' me should be ridin' to battle
like a lord, insteed o' trudgin' wi' the men on futt; but, man, it's no'
easy to walk far efter wearin' a ticht-fittin' buit--though it was only
for a wee while I had it on.  It's a' verra weel for you, Wull, that's
oor eleckit captain, an' can sit yer horse like a markis; but as for me,
I'll slip aff an' fecht on my legs when it comes to that."

"There's no military law, Andrew, against fighting on foot," returned
the captain, who, we need scarcely say, was Will Wallace; "but if you
are well advised you'll stick to the saddle as long as you can.  See,
yonder seems to be the headquarters of the camp.  We will report our
arrival, and then see to breakfast."

"Ay--I'll be thankfu' for a bite o' somethin', for I'm fair famished;
an' there's a proverb, I think, that says it's ill fechtin' on an emp'y
stammack.  It seems to me there's less order an' mair noise yonder than
befits a camp o' serious men--specially on a Sabbath mornin'."

"The same thought occurred to myself," said Wallace.  "Perhaps they have
commenced the services, for you know there are several ministers among

"Mair like disputation than services," returned the farmer with a grave
shake of his head.

Finding that Andrew was correct, and that the leaders of the little army
were wasting the precious moments in irrelevant controversy, the
Edinburgh contingent turned aside and set about preparing a hasty
breakfast.  This reinforcement included Quentin Dick, Jock Bruce, David
Spence, and Ramblin' Peter; also Tam Chanter, Edward Gordon, and
Alexander McCubine, who had been picked up on the march.

Of course, while breaking their fast they discussed the _pros_ and
_cons_ of the situation freely.

"If the King's troops are as near as they are reported to be," said
Wallace, "our chances of victory are small."

"I fear ye're richt," said Black.  "It becomes Ignorance to haud its
tongue in the presence o' Knowledge, nae doot--an' I confess to bein' as
ignorant as a bairn o' the art o' war; but common sense seems to say
that haverin' aboot theology on the eve o' a fecht is no sae wise-like
as disposin' yer men to advantage.  The very craws might be ashamed o'
sic a noise!"

Even while he spoke a cry was raised that the enemy was in sight; and
the confusion that prevailed before became redoubled as the necessity
for instant action arose.  In the midst of it, however, a few among the
more sedate and cool-headed leaders did their best to reduce the little
army to something like order, and put it in battle array.  There was no
lack of personal courage.  Men who had, for the sake of righteousness,
suffered the loss of all things, and had carried their lives in their
hands for so many years, were not likely to present a timid front in the
hour of battle.  And leaders such as John Nisbet of Hardhill, one of the
most interesting sufferers in the twenty-eight years' persecution;
Clelland, who had fought with distinguished courage at Drumclog; Henry
Hall of Haughhead; David Hackston of Rathillet; John Balfour of Burley;
Turnbull of Bewlie; with Major Learmont and Captain John Paton of
Meadowhead--two veterans who had led the Westland Covenanters in their
first battle at the Pentland Hills--such men were well able to have led
a band of even half-disciplined men to victory if united under a capable
general.  But such was not to be.  The laws of God, whether relating to
physics or morals, are inexorable.  A divided army cannot conquer.  They
had assembled to fight; instead of fighting they disputed, and that so
fiercely that two opposing parties were formed in the camp, and their
councils of war became arenas of strife.  The drilling of men had been
neglected, officers were not appointed, stores of ammunition and other
supplies were not provided, and no plan of battle was concerted.  All
this, with incapacity at the helm, resulted in overwhelming disaster and
the sacrifice of a body of brave, devoted men.  It afterwards
intensified persecution, and postponed constitutional liberty for many

In this state of disorganisation the Covenanters were found by the royal
troops.  The latter were allowed quietly to plant their guns and make
arrangements for the attack.

But they were not suffered to cross Bothwell Bridge with impunity.  Some
of the bolder spirits, leaving the disputants to fight with tongue and
eye, drew their swords and advanced to confront the foe.

"It's every man for himsel' here," remarked Andrew Black indignantly,
wiping his mouth with his cuff, as he rose from the meal which he was
well aware might be his last.  "The Lord hae mercy on the puir
Covenanters, for they're in sair straits this day.  Come awa', Wull
Wallace--lead us on to battle."

Our hero, who was busily forming up his men, needed no such exhortation.
Seeing that there was no one in authority to direct his movements, he
resolved to act "for his own hand."  He gave the word to march, and set
off at a quick step for the river, where the fight had already begun.
Soon he and his small band were among those who held the bridge.  Here
they found Hackston, Hall, Turnbull, and the lion-like John Nisbet, each
with a small band of devoted followers sternly and steadily defending
what they knew to be the key to their position.  Distributing his men in
such a way among the coppices on the river's bank that they could assail
the foe to the greatest advantage without unnecessarily exposing
themselves, Wallace commenced a steady fusillade on the King's
foot-guards, who were attempting to storm the bridge.  The Covenanters
had only one cannon and about 300 men with which to meet the assault;
but the gun was effectively handled, and the men were staunch.

On the central arch of the old bridge--which was long and narrow--there
stood a gate.  This had been closed and barricaded with beams and trees,
and the parapets on the farther side had been thrown down to prevent the
enemy finding shelter behind them.  These arrangements aided the
defenders greatly, so that for three hours the gallant 300 held the
position in spite of all that superior discipline and numerous guns
could do.  At last, however, the ammunition of the defenders began to

"Where did ye tether my horse?" asked Will Wallace, addressing Peter,
who acted the part of aide-de-camp and servant to his commander.

"Ayont the hoose there," replied Peter, who was crouching behind a

"Jump on its back, lad, and ride to the rear at full speed.  Tell them
we're running short of powder and ball.  We want more men, too, at once.
Haste ye!"

"Ay, an' tell them frae me, that if we lose the brig we lose the day,"
growled Andrew Black, who, begrimed with powder, was busily loading and
firing his musket from behind a thick bush, which, though an admirable
screen from vision, was a poor protection from bullets, as the passage
of several leaden messengers had already proved.  But our farmer was too
much engrossed with present duty to notice trifles!

Without a word, except his usual "Ay," Ramblin' Peter jumped up and ran
to where his commander's steed was picketed.  In doing so he had to pass
an open space, and a ball striking his cap sent it spinning into the
air; but Peter, like Black, was not easily affected by trifles.  Next
moment he was on the back of Will's horse--a great long-legged
chestnut--and flying towards the main body of Covenanters in rear.

The bullets were whistling thickly past him.  One of these, grazing some
tender part of his steed's body, acted as a powerful spur, so that the
alarmed creature flew over the ground at racing speed, much to its
rider's satisfaction.  When they reached the lines, however, and he
attempted to pull up, Peter found that the great tough-mouthed animal
had taken the bit in its teeth and bolted.  No effort that his puny arm
could make availed to check it.  Through the ranks of the Covenanters he
sped wildly, and in a short time was many miles from the battlefield.
How long he might have continued his involuntary retreat is uncertain,
but the branch of a tree brought it to a close by sweeping him off the
saddle.  A quarter of an hour later an old woman found him lying on the
ground insensible, and with much difficulty succeeded in dragging him to
her cottage.

Meanwhile the tide of war had gone against the Covenanters.  Whatever
may be said of Hamilton, unquestionably he did not manage the fight
well.  No ammunition or reinforcements were sent to the front.  The
stout defenders of the bridge were forced to give way in such an unequal
conflict.  Yet they retired fighting for every inch of the ground.
Indeed, instead of being reinforced they were ordered to retire; and at
last, when all hope was gone, they reluctantly obeyed.

"Noo this bates a'!" exclaimed Black in a tone of ineffable disgust, as
he ran to the end of the bridge, clubbed his musket, and laid about him
with the energy of despair.  Will Wallace was at his side in a moment;
so was Quentin Dick.  They found Balfour and Hackston already there; and
for a few moments these men even turned the tide of battle, for they
made an irresistible dash across the bridge, and absolutely drove the
assailants from their guns, but, being unsupported, were compelled to
retire.  If each had been a Hercules, the gallant five would have had to
succumb before such overwhelming odds.  A few minutes more and the
Covenanters were driven back.  The King's troops poured over the bridge
and began to form on the other side.

Then it was that Graham of Claverhouse, seeing his opportunity, led his
dragoons across the bridge and charged the main body of the Covenanters.
Undisciplined troops could not withstand the shock of such a charge.
They quickly broke and fled; and now the battle was changed to a regular

"Kill! kill!" cried Claverhouse; "no quarter!"

His men needed no such encouragement.  From that time forward they
galloped about the moor, slaying remorselessly all whom they came

The gentle-spirited Monmouth, seeing that the victory was gained, gave
orders to cease the carnage; but Claverhouse paid no attention to this.
He was like the man-eating tigers,--having once tasted blood he could
not be controlled, though Monmouth galloped about the field doing his
best to check the savage soldiery.

It is said that afterwards his royal father--for he was an illegitimate
son of the King--found fault with him for his leniency after Bothwell.
We can well believe it; for in a letter which he had previously sent to
the council Charles wrote that it was "his royal will and pleasure that
they should prosecute the rebels with fire and sword, and all other
extremities of war."  Speaking at another time to Monmouth about his
conduct, Charles said, "If I had been present there should have been no
trouble about prisoners."  To which Monmouth replied, "If that was your
wish, you should not have sent me but a _butcher_!"

In the general flight Black, owing to his lame leg, stumbled over a
bank, pitched on his head, and lay stunned.  Quentin Dick, stooping to
succour him, was knocked down from behind, and both were captured.
Fortunately Monmouth chanced to be near them at the time and prevented
their being slaughtered on the spot, like so many of their countrymen,
of whom it is estimated that upwards of four hundred were slain in the
pursuit that succeeded the fight--many of them being men of the
neighbourhood, who had not been present on the actual field of battle at
all.  Among others Wallace's uncle, David Spence, was killed.  Twelve
hundred, it is said, laid down their arms and surrendered at discretion.

Wallace himself, seeing that the day was lost and further resistance
useless, and having been separated from his friends in the general
_melee_, sought refuge in a clump of alders on the banks of the river.
Another fugitive made for the same spot about the same time.  He was an
old man, yet vigorous, and ran well; but the soldiers who pursued soon
came up and knocked him down.  Having already received several dangerous
wounds in the head, the old man seemed to feel that he had reached the
end of his career on earth, and calmly prepared for death.  But the end
had not yet come.  Even among the blood-stained troops of the King there
were men whose hearts were not made of flint, and who, doubtless,
disapproved of the cruel work in which it was their duty to take part.
Instead of giving the old man the _coup de grace_, one of the soldiers
asked his name.

"Donald Cargill," answered the wounded man.

"That name sounds familiar," said the soldier.  "Are not you a

"Yea, I have the honour to be one of the Lord's servants."

Upon hearing this the soldiers let him go, and bade him get off the
field as fast as possible.

Cargill was not slow to obey, and soon reached the alders, where he fell
almost fainting to the ground.  Here he was discovered by Wallace, and
recognised as the old man whom he had met in Andrew Black's hidy-hole.
The poor man could scarcely walk; but with the assistance of his stout
young friend, who carefully dressed his wounds, he managed to escape.
Wallace himself was not so fortunate.  After leaving Cargill in a place
of comparative safety, he had not the heart to think only of his own
escape while uncertain of the fate of his friends.  He was aware,
indeed, of his uncle's death, but knew nothing about Andrew Black,
Quentin Dick, or Ramblin' Peter.  When, therefore, night had put an end
to the fiendish work, he returned cautiously to search the field of
battle; but, while endeavouring to clamber over a wall, was suddenly
pounced upon by half a dozen soldiers and made prisoner.

At an earlier part of the evening he would certainly have been murdered
on the spot, but by that time the royalists were probably tired of
indiscriminate slaughter, for they merely bound his arms and led him to
a spot where those Covenanters who had been taken prisoners were

The guarding was of the strangest and cruellest.  The prisoners were
made to lie flat down on the ground--many of them having been previously
stripped nearly naked; and if any of them ventured to change their
positions, or raise their heads to implore a draught of water, they were
instantly shot.

Next day the survivors were tied together in couples and driven off the
ground like a herd of cattle.  Will Wallace stood awaiting his turn, and
watching the first band of prisoners march off.  Suddenly he observed
Andrew Black coupled to Quentin Dick.  They passed closed to him.  As
they did so their eyes met.

"Losh, man, is that you?" exclaimed Black, a gleam of joy lighting up
his sombre visage.  "Eh, but I _am_ gled to see that yer still leevin'!"

"Not more glad than I to see that you're not dead," responded Will
quickly.  "Where's Peter and Bruce?"

A stern command to keep silence and move on drowned the answer, and in
another minute Wallace, with an unknown comrade-in-arms, had joined the

Thus they were led--or rather driven--with every species of cruel
indignity, to Edinburgh; but the jails there were already full; there
was no place in which to stow such noxious animals!  Had Charles the
Second been there, according to his own statement, he would have had no
difficulty in dealing with them; but bad as the Council was, it was not
quite so brutal, it would seem, as the King.

"Put them in the Greyfriars Churchyard," was the order--and to that
celebrated spot they were marched.

Seated at her back window in Candlemaker Row, Mrs. Black observed, with
some surprise and curiosity, the sad procession wending its way among
the tombs and round the church.  The news of the fight at Bothwell
Bridge had only just reached the city, and she knew nothing of the
details.  Mrs. Wallace and Jean Black were seated beside her knitting.

"Wha'll they be, noo?" soliloquised Mrs. Black.

"Maybe prisoners taken at Bothwell Brig," suggested Mrs. Wallace.

Jean started, dropped her knitting, and said in a low, anxious voice, as
she gazed earnestly at the procession, "If--if it's them, uncle Andrew
an'--an'--the others may be amang them!"

The procession was not more than a hundred yards distant--near enough
for sharp, loving eyes to distinguish friends.

"I see them!" cried Jean eagerly.

Next moment she had leaped over the window, which was not much over six
feet from the ground.  She doubled round a tombstone, and, running
towards the prisoners, got near enough to see the head of the procession
pass through a large iron gate at the south-west corner of the
churchyard, and to see clearly that her uncle and Quentin Dick were
there--tied together.  Here a soldier stopped her.  As she turned to
entreat permission to pass on she encountered the anxious gaze of Will
Wallace as he passed.  There was time for the glance of recognition,
that was all.  A few minutes more and the long procession had passed
into what afterwards proved to be one of the most terrible prisons of
which we have any record in history.

Jean Black was thrust out of the churchyard along with a crowd of others
who had entered by the front gate.  Filled with dismay and anxious
forebodings, she returned to her temporary home in the Row.



The enclosure at the south-western corner of Greyfriars Churchyard,
which had been chosen as the prison of the men who were spared after the
battle of Bothwell Bridge, was a small narrow space enclosed by very
high walls, and guarded by a strong iron gate--the same gate, probably,
which still hangs there at the present day.

There, among the tombs, without any covering to shelter them from the
wind and rain, without bedding or sufficient food, with the dank grass
for their couches and graves for pillows, did most of these
unfortunates--from twelve to fifteen hundred--live during the succeeding
five months.  They were rigorously guarded night and day by sentinels
who were held answerable with their lives for the safe keeping of the
prisoners.  During the daytime they stood or moved about uneasily.  At
nights if any of them ventured to rise the sentinels had orders to fire
upon them.  If they had been dogs they could not have been treated
worse.  Being men, their sufferings were terrible--inconceivable.  Ere
long many a poor fellow found a death-bed among the graves of that
gloomy enclosure.  To add to their misery, friends were seldom permitted
to visit them, and those who did obtain leave were chiefly females, who
were exposed to the insults of the guards.

A week or so after their being shut up here, Andrew Black stood one
afternoon leaning against the headstone of a grave on which Quentin Dick
and Will Wallace were seated.  It had been raining, and the grass and
their garments were very wet.  A leaden sky overhead seemed to have
deepened their despair, for they remained silent for an unusually long

"This _is_ awfu'!" said Black at last with a deep sigh.  "If there was
ony chance o' makin' a dash an' fechtin' to the end, I wad tak' comfort;
but to be left here to sterve an' rot, nicht an' day, wi' naethin' to do
an' maist naethin' to think on--it's--it's awfu'!"

As the honest man could not get no further than this idea--and the idea
itself was a mere truism--no response was drawn from his companions, who
sat with clenched fists, staring vacantly before them.  Probably the
first stage of incipient madness had set in with all of them.

"Did Jean give you any hope yesterday?" asked Wallace languidly; for he
had asked the same question every day since the poor girl had been
permitted to hold a brief conversation with her uncle at the iron gate,
towards which only one prisoner at a time was allowed to approach.  The
answer had always been the same.

"Na, na.  She bids me hope, indeed, in the Lord--an' she's right there;
but as for man, what can we hope frae _him_?"

"Ye may weel ask that!" exclaimed Quentin Dick, with sudden and bitter
emphasis.  "Man indeed!  It's my opeenion that man, when left to
hissel', is nae better than the deevil.  I' faith, I think he's waur,
for he's mair contemptible."

"Ye may be right, Quentin, for a' I ken; but some men are no' left to
theirsel's.  There's that puir young chiel Anderson, that was shot i'
the lungs an' has scarce been able the last day or twa to crawl to the
yett to see his auld mither--he's deeing this afternoon.  I went ower to
the tombstane that keeps the east wund aff him, an' he said to me,
`Andry, man,' said he, `I'll no' be able to crawl to see my mither the
day.  I'll vera likely be deid before she comes.  Wull ye tell her no'
to greet for me, for I'm restin' on the Lord Jesus, an' I'll be a free
man afore night, singing the praises o' redeeming love, and waitin' for
_her_ to come?'"

Quentin had covered his face with his hands while Black spoke, and a low
groan escaped him; for the youth Anderson had made a deep impression on
the three friends during the week they had suffered together.  Wallace,
without replying, went straight over to the tomb where Anderson lay.  He
was followed by the other two.  On reaching the spot they observed that
he lay on his back, with closed eyes and a smile resting on his young

"He sleeps," said Wallace softly.

"Ay, he sleeps weel," said Black, shaking his head slowly.  "I ken the
look o' _that_ sleep.  An' yonder's his puir mither at the yett.  Bide
by him, Quentin, while I gang an' brek it to her."

It chanced that Mrs. Anderson and Jean came to the gate at the same
moment.  On hearing that her son was dead the poor woman uttered a low
wail, and would have fallen if Jean had not caught her and let her
gently down on one of the graves.  Jean was, as we have said, singularly
sympathetic.  She had overheard what her uncle had said, and forthwith
sat down beside the bereaved woman, drew her head down on her breast and
tried to comfort her, as she had formerly tried to comfort old Mrs.
Mitchell.  Even the guards were softened for a few minutes; but soon
they grew impatient, and ordered them both to leave.

"Bide a wee," said Jean, "I maun hae a word wi' my uncle."

She rose as she spoke, and turned to the gate.

"Weel, what luck?" asked Black, grasping both her hands through the

"No luck, uncle," answered Jean, whimpering a little in spite of her
efforts to keep up.  "As we ken naebody o' note here that could help us,
I just went straight to the Parliament Hoose an' saw Lauderdale himsel',
but he wouldna listen to me.  An' what could I say?  I couldna tell him
a lee, ye ken, an' say ye hadna been to conventicles or sheltered the
rebels, as they ca' us.  But I said I was _sure_ ye were sorry for what
ye had done, an' that ye would never do it again, if they would only let
you off--"

"Oh, Jean, Jean, ye're a gowk, for that was twa lees ye telt him!"
interrupted Black, with a short sarcastic laugh; "for I'm no' a bit
sorry for what I've done; an' I'll do't ower again if ever I git the
chance.  Ne'er heed, lass, you've done your best.  An' hoo's mither an'
Mrs. Wallace?"

"They're baith weel; but awfu' cast doon aboot you, an'--an'--Wull and
Quentin.  An'--I had maist forgot--Peter has turned up safe an' soond.
He says that--"

"Come, cut short your haverin'," said the sentinel who had been induced
to favour Jean, partly because of her sweet innocent face, and partly
because of the money which Mrs. Black had given her to bribe him.

"Weel, tell Peter," said Black hurriedly, "to gang doon to the ferm an'
see if he can find oot onything aboot Marion Clerk an' Isabel Scott.
I'm wae for thae lassies.  They're ower guid to let live in peace at a
time like this.  Tell him to tell them frae me to flee to the hills.
Noo that the hidy-hole is gaen, there's no' a safe hoose in a' the land,
only the caves an' the peat-bogs, and even they are but puir

"Uncle dear, is not the Lord our hiding-place until these calamities be
overpast?" said Jean, while the tears that she could not suppress ran
down her cheeks.

"Ye're right, bairn.  God forgi'e my want o' faith.  Rin awa' noo.  I
see the sentry's getting wearied.  The Lord bless ye."

The night chanced to be very dark.  Rain fell in torrents, and wind in
fitful gusts swept among the tombs, chilling the prisoners to the very
bone.  It is probable that the guards would, for their own comfort, have
kept a slack look-out, had not their own lives depended a good deal on
their fidelity.  As it was, the vigil was not so strict as it might have
been; and they found it impossible to see the whole of that long narrow
space of ground in so dark a night.  About midnight the sentry fancied
he saw three figures flitting across the yard.  Putting his musket
through the bars of the gate he fired at once, but could not see whether
he had done execution; and so great was the noise of the wind and rain
that the report of his piece was not audible more than a few paces from
where he stood, except to leeward.  Alarms were too frequent in those
days to disturb people much.  A few people, no doubt, heard the shot;
listened, perchance, for a moment or two, and then, turning in their
warm beds, continued their repose.  The guard turned out, but as all
seemed quiet in the churchyard-prison when they peered through the iron
bars, they turned in again, and the sentinel recharged his musket.

Close beside one of the sodden graves lay the yet warm body of a dead
man.  The random bullet had found a billet in his heart, and "Nature's
sweet restorer" had been merged into the sleep of death.  Fortunate man!
He had been spared, probably, months of slow-timed misery, with almost
certain death at the end in any case.

Three men rose from behind the headstone of that grave, and looked
sorrowfully on the drenched figure.

"He has passed the golden gates," said one in a low voice.  "A wonderful

"Ay, Wull," responsed another of the trio; "but it's noo or niver wi'
us.  Set yer heid agin' the wa', Quentin."

The shepherd obeyed, and the three proceeded to carry out a plan which
they had previously devised--a plan which only very strong and agile men
could have hoped to carry through without noise.  Selecting a suitable
part of the wall, in deepest shadow, where a headstone slightly aided
them, Quentin planted his feet firmly, and, resting his arms on the
wall, leaned his forehead against them.  Black mounted on his shoulders,
and, standing erect, assumed the same position.  Then Wallace, grasping
the garments of his friends, climbed up the living ladder and stood on
Black's shoulders, so that he could just grip the top of the wall and
hang on.  At this point in the process the conditions were, so to speak,
reversed.  Black grasped Wallace with both hands by one of his ankles,
and held on like a vice.  The living ladder was now hanging from the top
of the wall instead of standing at the foot of it, and Quentin--the
lowest rung, so to speak--became the climber.  From Wallace's shoulders,
he easily gained the top of the wall, and was able to reach down a
helping hand to Black as he made his way slowly up Wallace's back.  Then
both men hauled Wallace up with some trouble, for the strain had been
almost too much for him, and he could hardly help himself.

At this juncture the sentinel chanced to look up, and, dark though it
was, he saw the three figures on the wall a little blacker than the sky
behind.  Instantly the bright flash of his musket was seen, and the
report, mingled with his cry of alarm, again brought out the guard.  A
volley revealed the three prisoners for a moment.

"Dinna jump!" cried Black, as the bullets whizzed past their heads.
"Ye'll brek yer legs.  Tak' it easy.  They're slow at loadin'; an' `the
mair hurry the less speed!'"

The caution was only just in time, for the impulsive Wallace had been on
the point of leaping from the wall; instead of doing which he assisted
in reversing the process which has just been described.  It was much
easier, however; and the drop which Wallace had to make after his
friends were down was broken by their catching him in their arms.
Inexperience, however, is always liable to misfortune.  The shock of
such a heavy man dropping from such a height gave them a surprise, and
sent them all three violently to the ground; but the firing, shouting,
and confusion on the other side of the wall caused them to jump up with
wonderful alacrity.

"Candlemaker Raw!" said Black in a hoarse whisper, as they dashed off in
different directions, and were lost in blackness of night.

With a very sad face, on which, however, there was an air of calm
resignation, Mrs. Black sat in her little room with her Bible open
before her.  She had been reading to Mrs. Wallace and Jean, preparatory
to retiring for the night.

"It's awful to think of their lying out yonder, bedless, maybe
supperless, on a night like this," said Mrs. Wallace.

Jean, with her pretty face in that condition which the Scotch and
Norwegian languages expressively call begrutten, could do nothing but

Just then hurried steps were heard on the stair, and next moment a loud
knocking shook the door.

"Wha's that?" exclaimed Mrs. Black, rising.

"It's me, mither.  Open; quick!"

Next moment Andrew sprang in and looked hastily round.

"Am I the first, mither?"

Before the poor woman could recover from her joy and amazement
sufficiently to reply, another step was heard on the stair.

"That's ane o' them," said Black, turning and holding the door, so as to
be ready for friend or foe.  He was right.  Mrs. Wallace uttered a
little scream of joy as her son leaped into the room.

"Whaur's Quentin?" asked Black.

The question was scarcely put when the shepherd himself bounded up the

"They've gotten sight o' me, I fear," he said.  "Have ye a garret,
wummin--onywhere to hide?"

"No' a place in the hoose big enough for a moose to hide in," said Mrs.
Black with a look of dismay.

As she spoke a confused noise of voices and hurrying steps was heard in
the street.  Another moment and they were at the foot of the stair.  The
three men seized the poker, tongs, and shovel.  Mrs. Black opened her
back window and pointed to the churchyard.

"Yer only chance!" she said.

Andrew Black leaped out at once.  Wallace followed like a harlequin.
Quentin Dick felt that there was no time for him to follow without being
seen.  Dropping his poker he sprang through the doorway, and, closing
the door on himself, began to thunder against it, just as an officer
leading some of the town-guard reached the landing.

"Open, I say!" cried Quentin furiously, "I'm _sure_ the rebels cam in
here.  Dinna be keepin' the gentlemen o' the gaird waitin' here.  Open,
I say, or I'll drive the door in!"

Bursting the door open, as though in fulfilment of his threat, Quentin
sprang in, and looking hastily round, cried, as if in towering wrath,
"Whaur are they?  Whaur are thae pestiferous rebels?"

"There's nae rebels here, gentlemen," said Mrs. Black.  "Ye're welcome
to seek."

"They maun hae gaen up the next stair," said Quentin, turning to the

"And pray, who are you, that ye seem so anxious to catch the rebels?"

"Wha am I?" repeated Quentin with glaring eyes, and a sort of grasping
of his strong fingers that suggested the idea of tearing some one to
pieces.  "Div 'ee no see that I'm a shepherd?  The sufferin's than I hae
gaen through an' endured on accoont o' thae rebels is past--But c'way,
sirs, they'll escape us if we stand haverin' here."

So saying the bold man dashed down the stair and into the next house,
followed by the town-guards, who did not know him.  The prisoners'
guards were fortunately searching in another direction.  A strict search
was made in the next house, at which Quentin assisted.  When they were
yet in the thick of it he went quietly down-stairs and walked away from
the scene, as he expressed it, "hotchin'"--by which he meant chuckling.

But poor Andrew Black and Will Wallace were not so fortunate.  A search
which was made in the outer churchyard resulted in their being
discovered among the tombs, and they were forthwith conducted to the
Tolbooth prison.

When Ramblin' Peter, after many narrow escapes, reached the farm in
Dumfries in a half-famished state, he sat down among the desolate ruins
and howled with grief.  Having thus relieved his feelings, he dried his
eyes and proceeded in his usual sedate manner to examine things in
detail.  He soon found that his master had been wrong in supposing that
the hidy-hole had been discovered or destroyed.  As he approached the
outer end of the tunnel a head suddenly appeared above ground, and as
suddenly vanished.

"Hallo!" exclaimed Peter in surprise.

"Hallo!" echoed the head, and reappeared blazing with astonishment.  "Is
that you, Peter?"

"Ay, McCubine, that's me.  I thought ye was a' deid.  Hae ye ony
parritch i' the hole?  I'm awfu' hungry."

"C'way in, lad: we've plenty to eat here, an guid company as weel--the
Lord be thankit."

The man led the way--familiar enough to Peter; and in the hidy-hole he
found several persons, some of whom, from their costume, were evidently
ministers.  They paid little attention to the boy at first, being
engaged in earnest conversation.

"No, no, Mr. Cargill," said one.  "I cannot agree with you in the stern
line of demarcation which you would draw between us.  We are all the
servants of the most high God, fighting for, suffering for, the truth as
it is in Jesus.  It is true that rather than bow to usurped power I
chose to cast in my lot with the ejected; but having done that, and
suffered the loss of all things temporal, I do not feel called on to
pronounce such absolute condemnation on my brethren who have accepted
the Indulgence.  I know that many of them are as earnest followers of
Christ as ourselves--it may be more so--but they think it right to bow
before the storm rather than risk civil war; to accept what of
toleration they can get, while they hope and pray for more."

"In that case, Mr. Welsh," replied Cargill, "what comes of their
testimony for the truth?  Is not Christ King in his own household?
Charles is king in the civil State.  The oath which he requires of every
minister who accepts the Indulgence distinctly recognises him--the
king--as lord of the conscience, ruler of the spiritual kingdom of this
land.  To take such an oath is equivalent to acknowledging the justice
of his pretensions."

"They do not see it in that light," returned Mr. Welsh.  "I agree with
your views, and think our Indulged brethren in the wrong; but I counsel
forbearance, and cannot agree with the idea that it is our duty to
refuse all connection with them, and treat them as if they belonged to
the ranks of the malignants.  See what such opinions have cost us
already in the overwhelming disaster at Bothwell Brig."

"Overwhelming disaster counts for nothing in such a cause as this,"
rejoined Cargill gravely.  "The truth has been committed to us, and we
are bound to be valiant for the truth--even to death.  Is it not so, Mr.

The young man to whom the old Covenanter turned was one of the most
noted among the men who fought and died for the Covenant.  An earnest
godly young minister, he had just returned from Holland with the
intention of taking up the standard which had been almost dropped in
consequence of the hotter persecutions which immediately followed the
battle of Bothwell Bridge.

"Of course you know that I agree with you, Mr. Cargill.  When you
licensed me to preach the blessed Gospel, Mr. Welsh, you encouraged me
to independent thought.  Under the guidance, I believe, of the Holy
Spirit, I have been led to see the sinfulness of the Indulgence, and I
am constrained to preach against it.  Truly my chief concern is for the
salvation of souls--the bringing of men and women and children to the
Saviour; but after that, or rather along with that, to my mind, comes
the condemnation of sin, whether public or private.  Consider what the
Indulgence and persecution together have done now.  Have they not
well-nigh stopped the field-preaching altogether, so that, with the
exception of yourselves and Mr. Thomas Douglas and a few others, there
is no one left to testify?  Part of my mission has been to go round
among the ministers on this very point, but my efforts have been in vain
as far as I have yet gone.  It has been prophesied," continued Cameron
with a sad smile, "that I shall yet lose my head in this cause.  That
may well be, for there is that in my soul which will not let me stand
still while my Master is dishonoured and sin is triumphant.  As to the
King, he may, so far as I know, be truly descended from the race of our
kings, but he has so grievously departed from his duty to the people--by
whose authority alone magistrates exist--and has so perjured himself,
usurped authority in Church matters, and tyrannised in matters civil,
that the people of Scotland do no longer owe him allegiance; and
although I stand up for governments and governors, such as God's Word
and our covenants allow, I will surely--with all who choose to join me--
disown Charles Stuart as a tyrant and a usurper."

The discussion had continued so long that the ministers, as if by mutual
consent, dropped it after this point, and turned to Ramblin' Peter, who
was appeasing his hunger with a huge "luggie o' parritch."  But the poor
boy had no heart to finish his meal on learning that Marion Clark and
Isabel Scott--of whom he was very fond--had been captured by the
soldiers and sent to Edinburgh.  Indeed nothing would satisfy him but
that he should return to the metropolis without delay and carry the bad
news to his master.

That same night, when darkness rendered it safe, Cargill, Cameron,
Welsh, and Douglas, with some of their followers, left Black's place of
concealment, and went off in different directions to risk, for a brief
space, the shelter of a friendly cottage, where the neighbours would
assemble to hear the outlawed ministers while one of them kept watch, or
to fulfil their several engagements for the holding of conventicles
among the secret places of the hills.



After his escape, Quentin Dick, hearing of the recapture of his
comrades, and knowing that he could not in any way help them, resolved
to go back to Dumfries to make inquiries about the servant lassies
Marion and Isabel, being ignorant of the fact that Ramblin' Peter had
been sent on the same errand before him.

Now, although the one was travelling to, and the other from, Edinburgh,
they might easily have missed each other, as they travelled chiefly at
night in order to escape observation.  But, hearing on the way that the
much-loved minister, Mr. Welsh, was to preach in a certain locality,
they both turned aside to hear him, and thus came together.

A price of 500 pounds sterling had been set on the head of Mr. Welsh,
and for twenty years he had been pursued by his foes, yet for that long
period he succeeded in eluding his pursuers--even though the resolute
and vindictive Claverhouse was among them,--and in continuing his work
of preaching to the people.  Though a meek and humble man, Welsh was
cool, courageous, and self-possessed, with, apparently, a dash of humour
in him--as was evidenced by his preaching on one occasion in the middle
of the frozen Tweed, so that either he "might shun giving offence to
both nations, or that two kingdoms might dispute his crime!"

The evening before the meeting at which Quentin and Peter unwittingly
approached each other, Mr. Welsh found himself at a loss where to spend
the night, for the bloodhounds were already on his track.  He boldly
called at the house of a gentleman who was personally unknown to him,
but who was known to be hostile to field-preachers in general, and to
himself in particular.  As a stranger Mr. Welsh was kindly received.
Probably in such dangerous times it was considered impolite to make
inquiry as to names.  At all events the record says that he remained
unknown.  In course of conversation his host referred to Welsh and the
difficulty of getting hold of him.

"I am sent," said Welsh, "to _apprehend rebels_.  I know where Mr. Welsh
is to preach to-morrow, and will give you the rebel by the hand."

Overjoyed at this news the gentleman agreed to accompany him to the
meeting on the morrow.  Arriving next day at the rendezvous, the
congregation made way for the minister and his host.  The latter was
then invited to take a seat, and, to his great amazement, his guest of
the previous night stood up and preached.  At the close of the sermon
Mr. Welsh held out his hand to his host.

"I promised," he said, "to give you Mr. Welsh by the hand."

"Yes," returned the gentleman, who was much affected, as he grasped the
hand, "and you said that you were sent to apprehend rebels.  Let me
assure you that I, a rebellious sinner, have been apprehended this day."

It was at this interesting moment that Quentin and Peter recognised each
other, and, forgetting all other points of interest, turned aside to
discuss their own affairs.

"Then there's nae use o' my gaun ony farer," said the shepherd

"Nane whatever," said Peter; "ye'd best c'way back t' toon wi' me.
Ye'll be safer there nor here, an' may chance to be o' service to the

Alas for the poor lassies!  They were in the fangs of the wolves at that
very time.  In that council-room where, for years, the farce of "trial"
and the tragedy of cruel injustice had been carried on, Marion Clark and
Isabel Scott were standing before their civil and clerical inquisitors.
The trial was nearly over.  Proceeding upon their mean principle of
extracting confession by the method of entrapping questions, and thus
obtaining from their unsuspecting victims sufficient evidence--as they
said--to warrant condemnation, they had got the poor serving-maids to
admit that they had attended field-preachings; had conversed with some
whom the Government denounced as rebels; and other matters which
sufficed to enable them to draw up a libel.  Those two innocent girls
were then handed over to the Justiciary Court, before which they were
charged with the crime of receiving and corresponding with Mr. Donald
Cargill, Mr. Thomas Douglas, Mr. John Welsh, and Mr. Richard Cameron;
with the murderers of Archbishop Sharp; and with having heard the said
ministers preach up treason and rebellion!

When the indictment was read to them the poor things meekly admitted
that it was correct, except in so far as it called the ministers rebels
and asserted that they preached up treason.  The jury were exceedingly
unwilling to serve on the trial, but were compelled to do so under
threat of fine.  After deliberating on the evidence they found the girls
both guilty, by their own confession, of holding the opinions charged
against them, but that as actors, or receivers of rebels, the charge was
not proven.

Upon this they were condemned to die, but before leaving the court
Isabel Scott said impressively: "I take all witness against another at
you to your appearance before God, that your proceeding against us this
day is only for owning Christ, His Gospel, and His members."  [See _A
Cloud of Witnesses_, page 122 (edition 1871.)] They were then led back
to prison.

When Quentin and Peter arrived in Edinburgh, two days later, they passed
under the West Port, which was decorated with the shrivelled heads and
hands of several martyrs, and made their way to the Grassmarket, which
they had to traverse in going towards Candlemaker Row.  Here they found
a large crowd surrounding the gallows-tree which did such frequent
service there.  Two female figures were swinging from the beam.

"The auld story," said the shepherd in a low sad voice.  "What was their
crime?" he inquired of a bystander.

"They tried to serve the Lord, that was a'," replied the man bitterly.
"But they ended their coorse bravely.  Ane sang the 84th Psalm and the
ither spake of God's great love an' free grace to her and to sinfu'

"Puir things!" exclaimed Quentin with tremulous voice.  "It's ower noo.
They're fairly inside o' the celestial gates."

The sight was all too common in those dark days to induce delay, but the
two friends had to pass near the gallows, and naturally looked up in

"Quentin!" gasped Peter, stretching out both hands towards the martyrs,
whose now soulless frames were hanging there, "it's--it's Marion an'--"

A low wail followed, as the poor boy fell over in a swoon.

The shepherd's heart almost stood still, and his great chest quivered
for a moment as he gazed, but he was a man of strong will and iron
mould.  Stooping, he picked up his little friend and carried him
silently away.

Their grief was, however, diverted to other channels on reaching the
abode of Mrs. Black, for there they found her and Mrs. Wallace and Jean
in deepest sorrow over the terrible news just brought to them by Jock

Andrew Black, he told them, had been sent a prisoner to the Bass Rock,
and Will Wallace, with two hundred others, had been banished to the
plantations in Barbadoes, where they were to be sold as slaves.

Quentin sat down, covered his face with both hands, and groaned aloud on
hearing this.  Peter, who had recovered by that time, looked about him
with the expressionless face of one whose reason has been unseated.
Observing that Jean was sitting apart, sobbing as if her heart would
break, he went quietly to her, and, taking one of her hands, began to
stroke it gently.  "Dinna greet, Jean," he said; "the Lord will deliver
them.  Marion aye telt me that, an' I believe she was richt."

Truly these unfortunate people needed all the consolation that the Word
could give them, for banishment to the plantations usually meant
banishment for life, and as to the hundreds who found a prison on the
bleak and rugged Bass Rock at the mouth of the Forth, many of these also
found a grave.

After the battle of Bothwell Bridge the persecutions which had been so
severe for so many years were continued with intensified bitterness.
Not only were all the old tyrannical laws carried into force with
increased severity, but new and harsher laws were enacted.  Among other
things the common soldiers were given the right to carry these laws into
effect--in other words, to murder and plunder according to their own
will and pleasure.  And now, in 1680, began what has been termed _the
killing-time_; in which Graham of Claverhouse (afterwards Viscount
Dundee), Grierson of Lagg, Dalziel, and others, became pre-eminently
notorious for their wanton cruelty in slaughtering men, women, and even

On 22nd June 1680 twenty armed horsemen rode up the main street of the
burgh of Sanquhar.  The troop was headed by Richard Cameron and his
brother Michael, who, dismounting, nailed to the cross a paper which the
latter read aloud.  It was the famous "Declaration of Sanquhar," in
which Charles Stuart was publicly disowned.

While the fields of Scotland were being traversed and devastated by a
lawless banditti, authorised by a lawless and covenant-breaking king and
Government, those indomitable men who held with Cameron and Cargill
united themselves more closely together, and thus entered into a new
bond pledging themselves to be faithful to God and to each other in
asserting their civil and religious rights, which they believed could
only be secured by driving from the throne that "perfidious
covenant-breaking race, untrue both to the most high God and to the
people over whom for their sins they were set."

If the Cameronians were wrong in this opinion then must the whole nation
have been wrong, when, a few years later, it came to hold the same
opinion, and acted in accordance therewith!  As well might we find fault
with Bruce and Wallace as with our covenanting patriots.

Be this as it may, Richard Cameron with his followers asserted the
principle which afterwards became law--namely, that the House of Stuart
should no longer desecrate the throne.  He did not, however, live to see
his desire accomplished.

At Airsmoss--in the district of Kyle--with a band of his followers,
numbering twenty-six horse and forty foot, he was surprised by a party
of upwards of one hundred and twenty dragoons under command of Bruce of
Earlshall.  The Cameronians were headed by Hackston of Rathillet, who
had been present at the murder of Sharp, though not an active
participator.  Knowing that no mercy was to be expected they resolved to
fight.  Before the battle Cameron, engaging in a brief prayer, used the
remarkable words: "Lord, take the ripe, but spare the green."  The issue
against such odds was what might have been expected.  Nearly all the
Covenanters were slain.  Richard Cameron fell, fighting back to back
with his brother.  Some of the foot-men escaped into the moss.  Hackston
was severely wounded and taken prisoner.  Cameron's head and hands were
cut off and taken to Edinburgh, where they were cruelly exhibited to his
father--a prisoner at the time.  "Do ye know them?" asked the wretch who
brought them.  The old man, kissing them, replied, "Ay, I know them!
They are my son's--my own dear son's!  It is the Lord; good is the will
of the Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but has made goodness and
mercy to follow us all our days."  A wonderful speech this from one
suffering under, perhaps, the severest trial to which poor human nature
can be subjected.  Well might be applied to him the words--slightly
paraphrased--"O man, great was thy faith!"

Hackston was taken to Edinburgh, which he entered on a horse with his
head bare and his face to the tail, the hangman carrying Cameron's head
on a halter before him.  The indignities and cruelties which were
perpetrated on this man had been minutely pre-arranged by the Privy
Council.  We mention a few in order that the reader may the better
understand the inconceivable brutality of the Government against which
the Scottish Covenanters had to contend.  Besides the barbarities
connected with poor Cameron's head and hands, it was arranged that
Hackston's body was to be drawn backward on a hurdle to the cross of
Edinburgh, where, in the first place, his right hand was to be struck
off, and after some time his left hand.  Thereafter he was to be hanged
up and cut down alive; his bowels to be taken out and his heart shown to
the people by the hangman, and then to be burnt in a fire on the
scaffold.  Afterwards his head was to be cut off, and his body, divided
into four quarters, to be sent respectively to Saint Andrews, Glasgow,
Leith, and Burntisland.

In carrying out his fiendish instructions the bungling executioner was a
long time mangling the wrist of Hackston's right arm before he succeeded
in separating the hand.  Hackston quietly advised him to be more careful
to strike in the joint of the left.  Having been drawn up and let fall
with a jerk, three times, life was not extinct, for it is said that when
the heart was torn out it moved after falling on the scaffold.

Several others who had been with Cameron were betrayed at this time, by
apostate comrades, tried under torture, and executed; and the
persecution became so hot that field-preaching was almost extinguished.
The veteran Donald Cargill, however still maintained his ground.

This able, uncompromising, yet affectionate and charitable man had
prepared a famous document called the "Queensferry Paper," of which it
has been said that it contains "the very pith of sound constitutional
doctrine regarding both civil and ecclesiastical rights."  Once,
however, he mistook his mission.  In the presence of a large
congregation at Torwood he went so far as to excommunicate Charles the
Second; the Dukes of York, Lauderdale, and Rothes; Sir Cú McKenzie and
Dalziel of Binns.  That these despots richly deserved whatever
excommunication might imply can hardly be denied, but it is equally
certain that prolonged and severe persecution had stirred up poor
Cargill upon this occasion to overstep his duty as a teacher of love to
God and man.

Heavily did Cargill pay for his errors--as well as for his long and
conscientious adherence to duty.  Five thousand merks were offered for
him, dead or alive.  Being captured, he was taken to Edinburgh on the
15th of July, and examined by the Council.  On the 26th he was tried and
condemned, and on the 27th he was hanged, after having witnessed a good
confession, which he wound up with the words: "I forgive all men the
wrongs they have done against me.  I pray that the sufferers may be kept
from sin and helped to know their duty."

About this time a _test_ oath was ordered to be administered to all men
in position or authority.  The gist of it was that King Charles the
Second was the only supreme governor in the realm over all causes, as
well ecclesiastical as civil, and that it was unlawful for any subject
upon pretence of reformation, or any pretence whatever, to enter into
covenants or leagues, or to assemble in any councils, conventicles,
assemblies, etcetera, ecclesiastical or civil, without his special

Pretty well this for a king who had himself signed the covenant--without
which signing the Scottish nation would never have consented to assist
in putting him on the throne!  The greater number of the men in office
in Scotland took the oath, though there were several exceptions--the
Duke of Argyll, the Duke of Hamilton, John Hope of Hopetoun, the Duchess
of Rothes, and others--among whom were eighty of the conforming clergy
whose loyalty could not carry them so far, and who surrendered their
livings rather than their consciences.

It would require a volume to record even a bare outline of the deeds of
darkness that were perpetrated at this time.  We must dismiss it all and
return to the actors in our tale.

Will Wallace, after being recaptured, as already stated, was sent off to
the plantations in a vessel with about two hundred and fifty other
unfortunates, many of whom were seriously ill, if not dying, in
consequence of their long exposure in the Greyfriars' Churchyard.
Packed in the hold of the ship so closely that they had not room to lie
down, and almost suffocated with foul air and stench, the sufferings
which they endured were far more terrible than those they experienced
when lying among the tombs; but God sent most of them speedy
deliverance.  They were wrecked on the coast of Orkney.  At night they
were dashed on the rocks.  The prisoners entreated to be let out of
their prison, but the brutal captain ordered the hatches to be chained
down.  A tremendous wave cleft the deck, and a few of the more energetic
managed to escape and reach the shore.  The remainder--at least two
hundred--were drowned in the hold.  Will Wallace was among the saved,
but was taken to Leith and transferred to another vessel.  After several
months of tossings on the deep he reached his destination and was sold
into slavery.

Many months--even years--passed away, but no news reached Candlemaker
Row regarding the fate of the banished people.  As to Andrew Black, the
only change that took place in his condition during his long captivity
was his transference--unknown to his kindred--from the gloomy prison of
the Bass Rock to the still gloomier cells of Dunnottar Castle.

During all this time, and for some years after, the persecutions were
continued with ever-increasing severity: it seemed as if nothing short
of the extirpation of the Covenanters altogether was contemplated.  In
short, the two parties presented at this period an aspect of human
affairs which may well be styled monstrous.  On the one hand a people
suffering and fighting to the death to uphold law, and on the other a
tyrant king and arrogant ecclesiastics and nobles, with their paid
slaves and sycophants, deliberately violating the same!

Quentin Dick and Ramblin' Peter had been drawn closer together by
powerful sympathy after the imprisonment of Black and the banishment of
Will Wallace.  They were like-minded in their aspirations, though very
dissimilar in physical and mental endowment.  Feeling that Edinburgh was
not a safe place in which to hide after his recent escape, Quentin
resolved to return to Dumfries to inquire after, and if possible to aid,
his friends there.

Peter determined to cast in his lot with him.  In size he was still a
boy though he had reached manhood.

"We maun dae our best to help the wanderers," said the shepherd, as they
started on their journey.

"Ay," assented Peter.

Arrived in Galloway they were passing over a wide moorland region one
afternoon when a man suddenly appeared before them, as if he had dropped
from the clouds, and held out his hand.

"What!  McCubine, can that be you?" exclaimed Quentin, grasping the
proffered hand.  "Man, I _am_ glad to see ye.  What brings ye here?"

McCubine explained that he and his friend Gordon, with four comrades,
were hiding in the Moss to avoid a party of dragoons who were pursuing
them.  "Grierson of Lagg is with them, and Captain Bruce is in command,"
he said, "so we may expect no mercy if they catch us.  Only the other
day Bruce and his men dragged puir old Tam McHaffie out o' his bed, tho'
he was ill wi' fever, an' shot him."

Having conducted Quentin and Peter to the secret place where his friends
were hidden, McCubine was asked anxiously, by the former, if he knew
anything about the Wilsons.

"Ay, we ken this," answered Gordon, "that although the auld folk have
agreed to attend the curates for the sake o' peace, the twa lassies have
refused, and been driven out o' hoose an' hame.  They maun hae been
wanderin' amang the hills noo for months--if they're no catched by this

Hearing this, Quentin sprang up.

"We maun rescue them, Peter," he said.

"Ay," returned the boy.  "Jean Black will expect that for Aggie's sake;
she's her bosom freend, ye ken."

Refusing to delay for even half an hour, the two friends hurried away.
They had scarcely left, and the six hunted men were still standing on
the road where they had bidden them God-speed, when Bruce with his
dragoons suddenly appeared--surprised and captured them all.  With the
brutal promptitude peculiar to that well-named "killing-time," four of
them were drawn up on the road and instantly shot, and buried where they
fell, by Lochenkit Moor, where a monument now marks their resting place.

The two spared men, Gordon and McCubine, were then, without reason
assigned, bound and carried away.  Next day the party came to the Cluden
Water, crossing which they followed the road which leads to Dumfries,
until they reached the neighbourhood of Irongray.  There is a field
there with a mound in it, on which grows a clump of old oak-trees.  Here
the two friends were doomed without trial to die.  It is said that the
minister of Irongray at that time was suspected of favourable leanings
toward the Covenanters, and that the proprietor of the neighbouring farm
of Hallhill betrayed similar symptoms; hence the selection of the
particular spot between the two places, in order to intimidate both the
minister and the farmer.  This may well have been the case, for history
shows that a very strong and indomitable covenanting spirit prevailed
among the parishioners of Irongray as well as among the people of the
South and West of Scotland generally.  Indeed Wodrow, the historian,
says that the people of Irongray were the first to offer strenuous
opposition to the settlement of the curates.

When Gordon and McCubine were standing under the fatal tree with the
ropes round their necks, a sorrowing acquaintance asked the latter if he
had any word to send to his wife.

"Yes," answered the martyr; "tell her that I leave her and the two babes
upon the Lord, and to his promise: `A father to the fatherless and a
husband to the widow is the Lord in His holy habitation.'"

Hearing this, the man employed to act the part of executioner seemed
touched, and asked forgiveness.

"Poor man!" was the reply, "I forgive thee and all men."

They died, at peace with God and man.  An old tombstone, surrounded by
an iron rail, marks to this day the spot among the old oak-trees where
the bodies of McCubine and Gordon were laid to rest.

Commenting on this to his friend Selby, the Reverend George Lawless gave
it as his opinion that "two more fanatics were well out of the world."

To which the Reverend Frank replied very quietly:

"Yes, George, well out of it indeed; and, as I would rather die with the
fanatics than live with the godless, I intend to join the Covenanters
to-night--so my pulpit shall be vacant to-morrow."



In February 1685 Charles the Second died--not without some suspicion of
foul play.  His brother, the Duke of York, an avowed Papist, ascended
the throne as James the Second.  This was a flagrant breach of the
Constitution, and Argyll--attempting to avert the catastrophe by an
invasion of Scotland at the same time that Monmouth should invade
England--not only failed, but was captured and afterwards executed by
the same instrument--the "Maiden"--with which his father's head had been
cut off nigh a quarter of a century before.  As might have been
expected, the persecutions were not relaxed by the new king.

When good old Cargill was martyred, a handsome fair young man was
looking on in profound sorrow and pity.  He was a youth of great moral
power, and with a large heart.  His name was James Renwick.  From that
hour this youth cast in his lot with the persecuted wanderers, and,
after the martyrdom of Cameron and Cargill, and the death of Welsh, he
was left almost alone to manage their affairs.  The "Strict Covenanters"
had by this time formed themselves into societies for prayer and
conference, and held quarterly district meetings in sequestered places,
with a regular system of correspondence--thus secretly forming an
organised body, which has continued down to modern times.

It was while this young servant of God--having picked up the mantle
which Cargill dropped--was toiling and wandering among the mountains,
morasses, and caves of the west, that a troop of dragoons was seen, one
May morning, galloping over the same region "on duty."  They swept over
hill and dale with the dash and rattle of men in all the pride of youth
and strength and the panoply of war.  They were hasting, however, not to
the battlefield but to the field of agriculture, there to imbrue their
hands in the blood of the unarmed and the helpless.

At the head of the band rode the valiant Graham of Claverhouse.  Most
people at that time knew him as the "bloody Clavers," but as we look at
the gay cavalier with his waving plume, martial bearing, beautiful
countenance, and magnificent steed, we are tempted to ask, "Has there
not been some mistake here?"  Some have thought so.  One or two literary
men, who might have known better, have even said so, and attempted to
defend their position!

"Methinks this is our quarry, Glendinning," said Claverhouse, drawing
rein as they approached a small cottage, near to which a man was seen at
work with a spade.

"Yes--that's John Brown of Priesthill," said the sergeant.

"You know the pestilent fanatic well, I suppose?"

"Ay.  He gets the name o' being a man of eminent godliness," answered
the sergeant in a mocking tone; "and is even credited with having
started a Sabbath-school!"

John Brown, known as the "Christian carrier," truly was what Glendinning
had sneeringly described him.  On seeing the cavalcade approach he
guessed, no doubt, that his last hour had come, for many a time had he
committed the sin of succouring the outlawed Covenanters, and he had
stoutly refused to attend the ministry of the worthless curate George
Lawless.  Indeed it was the information conveyed to Government by that
reverend gentleman that had brought Claverhouse down upon the
unfortunate man.

The dragoons ordered him to proceed to the front of his house, where his
wife was standing with one child in her arms and another by her side.
The usual ensnaring questions as to the supremacy of the King, etcetera,
were put to him, and the answers being unsatisfactory, Claverhouse
ordered him to say his prayers and prepare for immediate death.  Brown
knew that there was no appeal.  All Scotland was well aware by that time
that soldiers were empowered to act the part of judge, jury, witness,
and executioner, and had become accustomed to it.  The poor man obeyed.
He knelt down and prayed in such a strain that even the troopers, it is
said, were impressed--at all events, their subsequent conduct would seem
to countenance this belief.  Their commander, however, was not much
affected, for he thrice interrupted his victim, telling him that he had
"given him time to pray, but not to preach."

"Sir," returned Brown, "ye know neither the nature of preaching nor
praying if ye call this preaching."

"Now," said Claverhouse, "take farewell of your wife and children."

After the poor man had kissed them, Claverhouse ordered six of his men
to fire; but they hesitated and finally refused.  Enraged at this their
commander drew a pistol, and with his own hand blew out John Brown's

"What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?" he said, turning to the

"I ever thought much good of him," she answered, "and as much now as

"It were but justice to lay thee beside him," exclaimed the murderer.

"If you were permitted," she replied, "I doubt not but your cruelty
would go that length."

Thus far the excitement of the dreadful scene enabled the poor creature
to reply, but nature soon asserted her sway.  Sinking on her knees by
the side of the mangled corpse, the widow, neither observing nor caring
for the departure of the dragoons, proceeded to bind up her husband's
shattered skull with a kerchief, while the pent-up tears burst forth.

The house stood in a retired, solitary spot, and for some time the
bereaved woman was left alone with God and her children; but before
darkness closed in a human comforter was sent to her in the person of
Quentin Dick.

On his arrival in Wigtown, Quentin, finding that his friends the Wilson
girls had been imprisoned with an old covenanter named Mrs. McLachlan,
and that he could not obtain permission to see them, resolved to pay a
visit to John Brown, the carrier, who was an old friend, and who might
perhaps afford him counsel regarding the Wilsons.  Leaving Ramblin'
Peter behind to watch every event and fetch him word if anything
important should transpire, he set out and reached the desolated cottage
in the evening of the day on which his friend was shot.

Quentin was naturally a reserved man, and had never been able to take a
prominent part with his covenanting friends in conversation or in public
prayer, but the sight of his old friend's widow in her agony, and her
terrified little ones, broke down the barrier of reserve completely.
Although a stern and a strong man, not prone to give way to feeling, he
learned that night the full meaning of what it is to "weep with those
that weep."  Moreover, his tongue was unloosed, and he poured forth his
soul in prayer, and quoted God's Word in a way that cheered, in no small
degree, his stricken friend.  During several days he remained at
Priesthill, doing all in his power to assist the family, and receiving
some degree of comfort in return; for strong sympathy and fellowship in
sorrow had induced him to reveal the fact that he loved Margaret Wilson,
who at that time lay in prison with her young sister Agnes, awaiting
their trial in Wigtown.

Seated one night by the carrier's desolated hearth, where several
friends had assembled to mourn with the widow, Quentin was about to
commence family worship, when he was interrupted by the sudden entrance
of Ramblin' Peter.  The expression of his face told eloquently that he
brought bad news.  "The Wilsons," he said, "are condemned to be drowned
with old Mrs. McLachlan."

"No' baith o' the lasses," he added, correcting himself, "for the
faither managed to git ane o' them off by a bribe o' a hundred pounds--
an' that's every bodle that he owns."

"Which is to be drooned?" asked Quentin in a low voice.

"Marget--the auldest."

A deep groan burst from the shepherd as the Bible fell from his hands.

"Come!" he said to Peter, and passed quickly out of the house, without a
word to those whom he left behind.

Arrived in Wigtown, the wretched man went about, wildly seeking to move
the feelings of men whose hearts were like the nether millstone.

"Oh, if I only had siller!" he exclaimed to the Wilsons' father,
clasping his hands in agony.  "Hae ye nae mair?"

"No' anither plack," said the old man in deepest dejection.  "They took
all I had for Aggie."

"Ye are strang, Quentin," suggested Peter, who now understood the reason
of his friend's wild despair.  "Could ye no' waylay somebody an' rob
them?  Surely it wouldna be coonted wrang in the circumstances."

"Sin is sin, Peter.  Better death than sin," returned Quentin with a
grave look.

"Aweel, we maun just dee, then," said Peter in a tone of resignation.

Nothing could avert the doom of these unfortunate women.  Their judges,
of whom Grierson, Laird of Lagg, was one, indicted this young girl and
the old woman with the ridiculous charge of rebellion, of having been at
the battles of Bothwell Bridge and Airsmoss and present at twenty
conventicles, as well as with refusing to swear the abjuration oath!

The innocent victims were carried to the mouth of the river Bladenoch,
being guarded by troops under Major Winram, and followed by an immense
crowd both of friends and spectators.  Quentin Dick and his little
friend Peter were among them.  The former had possessed himself of a
stick resembling a quarter-staff.  His wild appearance and bloodshot
eyes, with his great size and strength, induced people to keep out of
his way.  He had only just reached the spot in time.  No word did he
speak till he came up to Major Winram.  Then he sprang forward, and said
in a loud voice, "I forbid this execution in the name of God!" at the
same time raising his staff.

Instantly a trooper spurred forward and cut him down from behind.

"Take him away," said Winram, and Quentin, while endeavouring to stagger
to his feet, was ridden down, secured, and dragged away.  Poor Peter
shared his fate.  So quickly and quietly was it all done that few except
those quite close to them were fully aware of what had occurred.  The
blow on his head seemed to have stunned the shepherd, for he made no
resistance while they led him a considerable distance back into the
country to a retired spot, and placed him with his back against a cliff.
Then the leader of the party told off six men to shoot him.

Not until they were about to present their muskets did the shepherd seem
to realise his position.  Then an eager look came over his face, and he
said with a smile, "Ay, be quick!  Maybe I'll git there first to welcome

A volley followed, and the soul of Quentin Dick was released from its
tenement of clay.

Peter, on seeing the catastrophe, fell backwards in a swoon, and the
leader of the troop, feeling, perhaps, a touch of pity, cast him loose
and left him there.  Returning to the sands, the soldiers found that the
martyrdom was well-nigh completed.

The mouth of the Bladenoch has been considerably modified.  At this time
the river's course was close along the base of the hill on which Wigtown
stands.  The tide had turned, and the flowing sea had already reversed
the current of the river.  The banks of sand were steep, and several
feet high at the spot to which the martyrs were led, so that people
standing on the edge were close above the inrushing stream.  Two stakes
had been driven into the top of the banks--one being some distance lower
down the river than the other.  Ropes of a few yards in length were
fastened to them, and the outer ends tied round the martyrs' waists--old
Mrs. McLachlan being attached to the lower post.  They were then bidden
prepare for death, which they did by kneeling down and engaging in
fervent prayer.  It is said that the younger woman repeated some
passages of Scripture, and even sang part of the 25th Psalm.

At this point a married daughter of Mrs. McLachlan, named Milliken, who
could not believe that the sentence would really be carried out, gave
way to violent lamentations, and fainted when she saw that her mother's
doom was fixed.  They carried the poor creature away from the dreadful

The old woman was first pushed over the brink of the river, and a
soldier, thrusting her head down into the water with a halbert, held it
there.  This was evidently done to terrify the younger woman into
submission, for, while the aged martyr was struggling in the agonies of
death, one of the tormentors asked Margaret Wilson what she thought of
that sight.

"What do I see?" was her reply.  "I see Christ in one of His members
wrestling there.  Think ye that we are sufferers?  No! it is Christ in
us; for He sends none a warfare on his own charges."

These were her last words as she was pushed over the bank, and, like her
companion, forcibly held, down with a halbert.  Before she was quite
suffocated, however, Winram ordered her to be dragged out, and, when
able to speak, she was asked if she would pray for the King.

"I wish the salvation of all men," she replied, "and the damnation of

"Dear Margaret," urged a bystander in a voice of earnest entreaty, "say
`God save the King,' say `God save the King.'"

"God save him if He will," she replied.  "It is his salvation I desire."

"She has said it! she has said it!" cried the pitying bystanders

"That won't do," cried the Laird of Lagg, coming forward at the moment,
uttering a coarse oath; "let her take the test-oaths."

As this meant the repudiation of the Covenants and the submission of her
conscience to the King--to her mind inexcusable sin--the martyr firmly
refused to obey.  She was immediately thrust back into the water, and in
a few minutes more her heroic soul was with her God and Saviour.

The truth of this story--like that of John Brown of Priesthill, though
attested by a letter of Claverhouse himself [See Dr. Cunningham's
_History of the Church of Scotland_, volume two, page 239.]--has been
called in question, and the whole affair pronounced a myth!  We have no
space for controversy, but it is right to add that if it be a myth, the
records of the Kirk-sessions of Kirkinner and Penninghame--which exist,
and in which it is recorded--must also be mythical.  The truth is, that
both stories have been elaborately investigated by men of profound
learning and unquestionable capacity, and the truth of them proved "up
to the hilt."

As to Graham of Claverhouse--there are people, we believe, who would
whitewash the devil if he were only to present himself with a dashing
person and a handsome face!  But such historians as Macaulay, McCrie,
McKenzie, and others, refuse to whitewash Claverhouse.  Even Sir Walter
Scott--who was very decidedly in sympathy with the Cavaliers--says of
him in _Old Mortality_: "He was the unscrupulous agent of the Scottish
Privy Council in executing the merciless seventies of the Government in
Scotland during the reigns of Charles the Second and James the Second;"
and his latest apologist candidly admits that "it is impossible
altogether to acquit Claverhouse of the charges laid to his account."
We are inclined to ask, with some surprise, Why should he wish to acquit
him?  But Claverhouse himself, as if in prophetic cynicism, writes his
own condemnation as to character thus: "In any service I have been in, I
never inquired further in the laws than the orders of my superior
officer."  An appropriate motto for a "soldier of fortune," which might
be abbreviated and paraphrased into "Stick at nothing!"

Coupling all this with the united testimony of tradition, and nearly all
ancient historians, we can only wonder at the prejudice of those who
would still weave a chaplet for the brow of "Bonnie Dundee."

Turning now from the south-west of Scotland, we direct attention to the
eastern seaboard of Kincardine, where, perched like a sea-bird on the
weatherbeaten cliffs, stands the stronghold of Dunnottar Castle.

Down in the dungeons of that rugged pile lies our friend Andrew Black,
very different from the man whose fortunes we have hitherto followed.
Care, torment, disease, hard usage, long confinement, and desperate
anxiety have graven lines on his face that nothing but death can smooth
out.  Wildly-tangled hair, with a long shaggy beard and moustache,
render him almost unrecognisable.  Only the old unquenchable fire of his
eye remains; also the kindliness of his old smile, when such a rare
visitant chances once again to illuminate his worn features.  Years of
suffering had he undergone, and there was now little more than skin and
bone of him left to undergo more.

"Let me hae a turn at the crack noo," he said, coming forward to a part
of the foul miry dungeon where a crowd of male and female prisoners were
endeavouring to inhale a little fresh air through a crevice in the wall.
"I'm fit to choke for want o' a breath o' caller air."

As he spoke a groan from a dark corner attracted his attention.  At once
forgetting his own distress, he went to the place and discovered one of
the prisoners, a young man, with his head pillowed on a stone, and mire
some inches deep for his bed.

"Eh, Sandy, are ye sae far gane?" asked Black, kneeling beside him in
tender sympathy.

"Oh, Andry, man--for a breath o' fresh air before I dee!"

"Here! ane o' ye," cried Black, "help me to carry Sandy to the crack.
Wae's me, man," he added in a lower voice, "I could hae carried you ye
wi' my pirlie ance, but I'm little stronger than a bairn noo."

Sandy was borne to the other side of the dungeon, and his head put close
to the crevice, through which he could see the white ripples on the
summer sea far below.

A deep inspiration seemed for a moment to give new life--then a
prolonged sigh, and the freed happy soul swept from the dungeons of
earth to the realms of celestial, light and liberty.

"He's breathin' the air o' Paradise noo," said Black, as he assisted to
remove the dead man from the opening which the living were so eager to

"Ye was up in the ither dungeon last night," he said, turning to the man
who had aided him; "what was a' the groans an' cries aboot?"

"Torturin' the puir lads that tried to escape," answered the man with a
dark frown.

"Hm!  I thoucht as muckle.  They were gey hard on them, I dar'say?"

"They were that!  Ye see, the disease that's broke oot amang them--
whatever it is--made some o' them sae desprit that they got through the
wundy that looks to the sea an' creepit alang the precipice.  It was a
daft-like thing to try in the daylight; but certain death would hae been
their lot, I suspec', if they had ventured on a precipice like that i'
the dark.  Some women washin' doon below saw them and gied the alarm.
The gairds cam', the hue and cry was raised, the yetts were shut and
fifteen were catched an' brought back--but twenty-five got away.  My
heart is wae for the fifteen.  They were laid on their backs on benches;
their hands were bound doon to the foot o' the forms, an' burnin'
matches were putt atween every finger, an' the sodgers blew on them to
keep them alight.  The governor, ye see, had ordered this to gang on
withoot stoppin' for three oors!  Some o' the puir fallows were deid
afore the end o' that time, an' I'm thinkin' the survivors'll be
crippled for life."

While listening to the horrible tale Andrew Black resolved on an attempt
to escape that very night.

"Wull ye gang wi' me?" he asked of the only comrade whom he thought
capable of making the venture; but the comrade shook his head.  "Na," he
said, "I'll no' try.  They've starved me to that extent that I've nae
strength left.  I grow dizzy at the vera thoucht.  But d'ye think the
wundy's big enough to let ye through?"

"Oo ay," returned Black with a faint smile.  "I was ower stoot for't
ance, but it's an ill wund that blaws nae guid.  Stervation has made me
thin enough noo."

That night, when all--even the harassed prisoners--in Dunnottar Castle
were asleep, except the sentinels, the desperate man forced himself with
difficulty through the very small window of the dungeon.  It was
unbarred, because, opening out on the face of an almost sheer precipice,
it was thought that nothing without wings could escape from it.  Black,
however, had been accustomed to precipices from boyhood.  He had
observed a narrow ledge just under the window, and hoped that it might
lead to something.  Just below it he could see another and narrower
ledge.  What was beyond that he knew not--and did not much care!

Once outside, with his breast pressed against the wall of rock, he
passed along pretty quickly, considering that he could not see more than
a few yards before him.  But presently he came to the end of the ledge,
and by no stretching out of foot or hand could he find another
projection of any kind.  He had now to face the great danger of sliding
down to the lower ledge, and his heart beat audibly against his ribs as
he gazed into the profound darkness below.  Indecision was no part of
Andrew Black's character.  Breathing a silent prayer for help and
deliverance, he sat down on the ledge with his feet overhanging the
abyss.  For one moment he reconsidered his position.  Behind him were
torture, starvation, prolonged misery, and almost certain death.  Below
was perhaps instantaneous death, or possible escape.

He pushed off, again commending his soul to God, and slid down.  For an
instant destruction seemed inevitable, but next moment his heels struck
the lower ledge and he remained fast.  With an earnest "Thank God!" he
began to creep along.  The ledge conducted him to safer ground, and in
another quarter of an hour he was free!

To get as far and as quickly as possible from Dunnottar was now his
chief aim.  He travelled at his utmost speed till daybreak, when he
crept into a dry ditch, and, overcome by fatigue, forgot his sorrow in
profound unbroken slumber.  Rising late in the afternoon, he made his
way to a cottage and begged for bread.  They must have suspected what he
was and where he came from, but they were friendly, for they gave him a
loaf and a few pence without asking questions.

Thus he travelled by night and slept by day till he made his way to
Edinburgh, which he entered one evening in the midst of a crowd of
people, and went straight to Candlemaker Row.

Mrs. Black, Mrs. Wallace, Jean Black, and poor Agnes Wilson were in the
old room when a tap was heard at the door, which immediately opened, and
a gaunt, dishevelled, way-worn man appeared.  Mrs. Black was startled at
first, for the man, regardless of the other females, advanced towards
her.  Then sudden light seemed to flash in her eyes as she extended both

"Mither!" was all that Andrew could say as he grasped them, fell on his
knees, and, with a profound sigh, laid his head upon her lap.



Many months passed away, during which Andrew Black, clean-shaved,
brushed-up, and converted into a very respectable, ordinary-looking
artisan, carried on the trade of a turner, in an underground cellar in
one of the most populous parts of the Cowgate.  Lost in the crowd was
his idea of security.  And he was not far wrong.  His cellar had a way
of escape through a back door.  Its grated window, under the level of
the street, admitted light to his whirling lathe, but, aided by dirt on
the glass, it baffled the gaze of the curious.

His evenings were spent in Candlemaker Row, where, seated by the window
with his mother, Mrs. Wallace, and the two girls, he smoked his pipe and
commented on Scotland's woes while gazing across the tombs at the glow
in the western sky.  Ramblin' Peter--no longer a beardless boy, but a
fairly well-grown and good-looking youth--was a constant visitor at the
Row.  Aggie Wilson had taught him the use of his tongue, but Peter was
not the man to use it in idle flirtation--nor Aggie the girl to listen
if he had done so.  They had both seen too much of the stern side of
life to condescend on trifling.

Once, by a superhuman effort, and with an alarming flush of the
countenance, Peter succeeded in stammering a declaration of his
sentiments.  Aggie, with flaming cheeks and downcast eyes, accepted the
declaration, and the matter was settled; that was all, for the subject
had rushed upon both of them, as it were, unexpectedly, and as they were
in the public street at the time and the hour was noon, further
demonstration might have been awkward.

Thereafter they were understood to be "keeping company."  But they were
a grave couple.  If an eavesdropper had ventured to listen, sober talk
alone would have repaid the sneaking act, and, not unfrequently,
reference would have been heard in tones of deepest pathos to dreadful
scenes that had occurred on the shores of the Solway, or sorrowful
comments on the awful fate of beloved friends who had been banished to
"the plantations."

One day Jean--fair-haired, blue-eyed, pensive Jean--was seated in the
cellar with her uncle.  She had brought him his daily dinner in a tin
can, and he having just finished it, was about to resume his work while
the niece rose to depart.  Time had transformed Jean from a pretty girl
into a beautiful woman, but there was an expression of profound
melancholy on her once bright face which never left it now, save when a
passing jest called up for an instant a feeble reminiscence of the sweet
old smile.

"Noo, Jean, awa' wi' ye.  I'll never get thae parritch-sticks feenished
if ye sit haverin' there."

Something very like the old smile lighted up Jean's face as she rose,
and with a "weel, good-day, uncle," left the cellar to its busy

Black was still at work, and the shadows of evening were beginning to
throw the inner end of the cellar into gloom, when the door slowly
opened and a man entered stealthily.  The unusual action, as well as the
appearance of the man, caused Black to seize hold of a heavy piece of
wood that leaned against his lathe.  The thought of being discovered and
sent back to Dunnottar, or hanged, had implanted in our friend a
salutary amount of caution, though it had not in the slightest degree
affected his nerve or his cool promptitude in danger.  He had
deliberately made up his mind to remain quiet as long as he should be
let alone, but if discovered, to escape or die in the attempt.

The intruder was a man of great size and strength, but as he seemed to
be alone, Black quietly leaned the piece of wood against the lathe again
in a handy position.

"Ye seem to hae been takin' lessons frae the cats lately, to judge from
yer step," said Black.  "Shut the door, man, behint ye.  There's a draft
i' this place that'll be like to gie ye the rheumatiz."

The man obeyed, and, advancing silently, stood before the lathe.  There
was light enough to reveal the fact that his countenance was handsome,
though bronzed almost to the colour of mahogany, while the lower part of
it was hidden by a thick beard and a heavy moustache.

Black, who began to see that the strange visitor had nothing of the
appearance of one sent to arrest him, said, in a half-humorous,
remonstrative tone--

"Maybe ye're a furriner, an' dinna understan' mainners, but it's as weel
to tell ye that I expec' men to tak' aff their bannets when they come
into _my_ hoose."

Without speaking the visitor removed his cap.  Black recognised him in
an instant.

"Wull Wallace!" he gasped in a hoarse whisper, as he sprang forward and
laid violent hands on his old friend.  "Losh, man! are my een leein'?
is't possable?  Can this be _you_?"

"Yes, thank God, it is indeed--"

He stopped short, for Andrew, albeit unaccustomed, like most of his
countrymen, to give way to ebullitions of strong feeling, threw his long
arms around his friend and fairly hugged him.  He did not, indeed,
condescend on a Frenchman's kiss, but he gave him a stage embrace and a
squeeze that was worthy of a bear.

"Your force is not much abated, I see--or rather, feel," said Will
Wallace, when he was released.

"Abated!" echoed Black, "it's little need, in thae awfu' times.  But,
man, _your_ force has increased, if I'm no mista'en."

"Doubtless--it is natural, after having toiled with the slaves in
Barbadoes for so many years.  The work was kill or cure out there.  But
tell me--my mother--and yours?"

"Oh, they're baith weel and hearty, thank the Lord," answered Black.
"But what for d'ye no speer after Jean?" he added in a somewhat
disappointed tone.

"Because I don't need to.  I've seen her already, and know that she is

"Seen her!" exclaimed Andrew in surprise.

"Ay, you and Jean were seated alone at the little window in the
Candlemaker Raw last night about ten o'clock, and I was standing by a
tombstone in the Greyfriars Churchyard admiring you.  I did not like to
present myself just then, for fear of alarming the dear girl too much,
and then I did not dare to come here to-day till the gloamin'.  I only
arrived yesterday."

"Weel, weel!  The like o' this bates a'.  Losh man!  I hope it's no a
dream.  Nip me, man, to mak sure.  Sit doon, sit doon, an' let's hear a'
aboot it."

The story was a long one.  Before it was quite finished the door was
gently opened, and Jean Black herself entered.  She had come, as was her
wont every night, to walk home with her uncle.

Black sprang up.

"Jean, my wummin," he said, hastily putting on his blue bonnet, "there's
no light eneuch for ye to be intryduced to my freend here, but ye can
hear him if ye canna see him.  I'm gaun oot to see what sort o' a night
it is.  He'll tak' care o' ye till I come back."

Without awaiting a reply he went out and shut the door, and the girl
turned in some surprise towards the stranger.

"Jean!" he said in a low voice, holding out both hands.

Jean did not scream or faint.  Her position in life, as well as her
rough experiences, forbade such weakness, but it did not forbid--well,
it is not our province to betray confidences!  All we can say is, that
when Andrew Black returned to the cellar, after a prolonged and no doubt
scientific inspection of the weather, he found that the results of the
interview had been quite satisfactory--eminently so!

Need we say that there were rejoicing and thankful hearts in Candlemaker
Row that night?  We think not.  If any of the wraiths of the Covenanters
were hanging about the old churchyard, and had peeped in at the
well-known back window about the small hours of the morning, they would
have seen our hero, clasping his mother with his right arm and Jean with
his left.  He was encircled by an eager group--composed of Mrs. Black
and Andrew, Jock Bruce, Ramblin' Peter, and Aggie Wilson--who listened
to the stirring tale of his adventures, or detailed to him the not less
stirring and terrible history of the long period that had elapsed since
he was torn from them, as they had believed, for ever.

Next morning Jean accompanied her lover to the workshop of her uncle,
who had preceded them, as he usually went to work about daybreak.

"Are ye no feared," asked Jean, with an anxious look in her companion's
face, "that some of your auld enemies may recognise you?  You're so big
and--and--" (she thought of the word handsome, but substituted)

"There is little fear, Jean.  I've been so long away that most of the
people--the enemies at least--who knew me must have left; besides, my
bronzed face and bushy beard form a sufficient disguise, I should

"I'm no sure o' that," returned the girl, shaking her head doubtfully;
"an' it seems to me that the best thing ye can do will be to gang to the
workshop every mornin' before it's daylight.  Have ye fairly settled to
tak' to Uncle Andrew's trade?"

"Yes.  Last night he and I arranged it while you were asleep.  I must
work, you know, to earn my living, and there is no situation so likely
to afford such effectual concealment.  Bruce offered to take me on
again, but the smiddy is too public, and too much frequented by
soldiers.  Ah, Jean!  I fear that our wedding-day is a long way off yet,
for, although I could easily make enough to support you in comfort if
there were no difficulties to hamper me, there is not much chance of my
making a fortune, as Andrew Black says, by turning parritch-sticks and

Wallace tried to speak lightly, but could not disguise a tone of

"Your new King," he continued, "seems as bad as the old one, if not
worse.  From all I hear he seems to have set his heart on bringing the
country back again to Popery, and black will be the look-out if he
succeeds in doing that.  He has quarrelled, they say, with his bishops,
and in his anger is carrying matters against them with a high hand.  I
fear that there is woe in store for poor Scotland yet."

"It may be so," returned Jean sadly.  "The Lord knows what is best; but
He can make the wrath of man to praise Him.  Perhaps," she added,
looking up with a solemn expression on her sweet face, "perhaps, like
Quentin Dick an' Margaret Wilson, you an' I may never wed."

They had reached the east end of the Grassmarket as she spoke, and had
turned into it before she observed that they were going wrong, but
Wallace explained that he had been directed by Black to call on Ramblin'
Peter, who lived there, and procure from him some turning-tools.  On the
way they were so engrossed with each other that they did not at first
observe the people hurrying towards the lower end of the market.  Then
they became aware that an execution was about to take place.

"The old story," muttered Wallace, while an almost savage scowl settled
on his face.

"Let us hurry by," said Jean in a low tone.  At the moment the unhappy
man who was about to be executed raised his voice to speak, as was the
custom in those times.

Jean started, paused, and turned deadly pale.

"I ken the voice," she exclaimed.

As the tones rose in strength she turned towards the gallows and almost
dragged her companion after her in her eagerness to get near.

"It's Mr. Renwick," she said, "the dear servant o' the Lord!"

Wallace, on seeing her anxiety, elbowed his way through the crowd
somewhat forcibly, and thus made way for Jean till they stood close
under the gallows.  It was a woeful sight in one sense, for it was the
murder of a fair and goodly as well as godly man in the prime of life;
yet it was a grand sight, inasmuch as it was a noble witnessing unto
death for God and truth and justice in the face of prejudice, passion,
and high-handed tyranny.

The martyr had been trying to address the crowd for some time, but had
been barbarously interrupted by the beating of drums.  Just then a
curate approached him and said, "Mr. Renwick, own our King, and we will
pray for you."

"It's that scoundrel, the Reverend George Lawless," murmured Wallace in
a deep and bitter tone.

"I am come here," replied the martyr, "to bear my testimony against you,
and all such as you are."

"Own our King, and pray for him, whatever ye say of us," returned the

"I will discourse no more with you," rejoined Renwick.  "I am in a
little to appear before Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, who
shall pour shame, contempt, and confusion on all the kings of the earth
who have not ruled for Him."

After this Renwick--as was usual with the martyrs when about to finish
their course--sang, read a portion of Scripture, and prayed, in the
midst of considerable interruption from the drums.  He also managed to
address the spectators.  Among the sentences that reached the ears of
Jean and Wallace were the following:--

"I am come here this day to lay down my life for adhering to the truths
of Christ...  I die as a Presbyterian Protestant...  I own the Word of
God as the rule of faith and manners...  I leave my testimony against
... all encroachments made on Christ's rights, who is the Prince of the
kings of the earth."

The noise of the drums rendered his voice inaudible at this point, and
the executioner, advancing, tied a napkin over his eyes.  He was then
ordered to go up the ladder.  To a friend who stood by him he gave his
last messages.  Among them were the words--

"Keep your ground, and the Lord will provide you teachers and ministers;
and when He comes He will make these despised truths glorious in the

His last words were--"Lord, into thy hands I commit my spirit; for thou
hast redeemed me, Lord God of truth."

Thus fell the last, as it turned out, of the martyrs of the Covenants,
on the 17th of February 1688.  But it did not seem to Will Wallace that
the storm of twenty-eight long years had almost blown over, as he
glanced at the scowling brows and compressed lips of the upturned faces
around him.

"Come--come away, Jean," he said quickly, as he felt the poor girl hang
heavily on his arm, and observed the pallor of her face.

"Ay, let's gang hame," she said faintly.

As Will turned to go he encountered a face that was very familiar.  The
owner of it gazed at him inquiringly.  It was that of his old comrade in
arms, Glendinning.  Stooping over his companion as if to address her,
Wallace tried to conceal his face and pushed quickly through the crowd.
Whether Glendinning had recognised him or not, he could not be sure, but
from that day forward he became much more careful in his movements, went
regularly to his work with Andrew Black before daylight, and did not
venture to return each night till after dark.  It was a weary and
irksome state of things, but better--as Black sagaciously remarked--than
being imprisoned on the Bass Rock or shut up in Dunnottar Castle.  But
the near presence of Jean Black had, no doubt, more to do with the
resignation of our hero to his position than the fear of imprisonment.

As time passed, things in the political horizon looked blacker than
ever.  The King began to show himself more and more in his true
colours--as one who had thoroughly made up his mind to rule as an
absolute monarch and to reclaim the kingdom to Popery.  Among other
things he brought troops over from Ireland to enforce his will, some of
his English troops having made it abundantly plain that they could not
be counted on to obey the mandates of one who wished to arrogate to
himself unlimited power, and showed an utter disregard of the rights of
the people.  Indeed, on all hands the King's friends began to forsake
him, and even his own children fell away from him at last.

Rumours of these things, more or less vague, had been reaching Edinburgh
from time to time, causing uneasiness in the minds of some and hope in
the hearts of others.

One night the usual party of friends had assembled to sup in the
dwelling of Mrs. Black.  It was the Sabbath.  Wallace and Black had
remained close all day--with the exception of an hour before daylight in
the morning when they had gone out for exercise.  It was one of those
dreary days not unknown to Auld Reekie, which are inaugurated with a
persistent drizzle, continued with a "Scotch mist," and dismissed with
an even down-pour.  Yet it was by no means a dismal day to our friends
of Candlemaker Row.  They were all more or less earnestly religious as
well as intellectual, so that intercourse in reference to the things of
the Kingdom of God, and reading the Word, with a free-and-easy
commentary by Mrs. Black and much acquiescence on the part of Mrs.
Wallace, and occasional disputations between Andrew and Bruce, kept them
lively and well employed until supper-time.

The meal had just been concluded when heavy footfalls were heard on the
stair outside, and in another moment there was a violent knocking at the
door.  The men sprang up, and instinctively grasped the weapons that
came first to hand.  Wallace seized the poker--a new and heavy one--
Andrew the shovel, and Jock Bruce the tongs, while Ramblin' Peter
possessed himself of a stout rolling-pin.  Placing themselves hastily in
front of the women, who had drawn together and retreated to a corner,
they stood on the defensive while Mrs. Black demanded to know who
knocked so furiously "on a Sabbath nicht."

Instead of answering, the visitors burst the door open, and half-a-dozen
of the town-guard sprang in and levelled their pikes.

"Yield yourselves!" cried their leader.  "I arrest you in the King's

But the four men showed no disposition to yield, and the resolute
expression of their faces induced their opponents to hesitate.

"I ken o' nae King in this realm," said Andrew Black in a deep stern
voice, "an' we refuse to set oor necks under the heel o' a usurpin'

"Do your duty, men," said a man who had kept in the background, but who
now stepped to the front.

"Ha! this is your doing, Glendinning," exclaimed Wallace, who recognised
his old comrade.  The sergeant had obviously been promoted, for he wore
the costume of a commissioned officer.

"Ay, I have an auld score to settle wi' you, Wallace, an' I hope to see
you an' your comrades swing in the Grassmarket before lang."

"Ye'll niver see that, my man," said Black, as he firmly grasped the
shovel.  "Ye ha'ena gotten us yet, an' it's my opeenion that you an'
your freends'll be in kingdom-come before we swing, if ye try to tak' us
alive.  Oot o' this hoose, ye scoondrels!"

So saying, Black made a spring worthy of a royal Bengal tiger, turned
aside the pike of the foremost man, and brought the shovel down on his
iron headpiece with such force that he was driven back into the passage
or landing, and fell prostrate.  Black was so ably and promptly seconded
by his stalwart comrades that the room was instantly cleared.
Glendinning, driven back by an irresistible blow from the rolling-pin,
tripped over the fallen man and went headlong down the winding stairs,
at the bottom of which he lay dead, with his neck broken by the fall.

But the repulse thus valiantly effected did not avail them much, for the
leader of the guard had reinforcements below, which he now called up.
Before the door could be shut these swarmed into the room and drove the
defenders back into their corner.  The leader hesitated, however, to
give the order to advance on them, partly, it may be, because he wished
to induce submission and thus avoid bloodshed, and partly, no doubt,
because of the terrible aspect of the four desperate men, who, knowing
that the result of their capture would be almost certain death, preceded
by imprisonment, and probably torture, had evidently made up their minds
to fight to the death.

At that critical moment a quick step was heard upon the stair, and the
next moment the Reverend Frank Selby entered the room.

"Just in time, I see," he said in a cool nonchalant manner that was
habitual to him.  "I think, sir," he added, turning to the leader of the
guard, "that it may be as well to draw off your men and return to the

"I'll do that," retorted the man sharply, "when I receive orders from my
superiors.  Just now I'll do my duty."

"Of course you will do what is right, my good sir," replied the Reverend
Frank; "yet I venture to think you will regret neglecting my advice,
which, allow me to assure you, is given in quite a friendly and
disinterested spirit.  I have just left the precincts of the Council
Chamber, where I was told by a friend in office that the Councillors
have been thrown into a wild and excusable state of alarm by the news
that William, Prince of Orange, who, perhaps you may know, is James's
son-in-law and nephew, has landed in Torbay with 15,000 Dutchmen.  He
comes by invitation of the nobles and clergy of the kingdom to take
possession of the Crown which our friend James has forfeited, and James
himself has fled to France--one of the few wise things of which he has
ever been guilty.  It is further reported that the panic-stricken Privy
Council here talks of throwing open all the prison-doors in Edinburgh,
after which it will voluntarily dissolve itself.  If it could do so in
prussic acid or some chemical solvent suited to the purpose, its exit
would be hailed as all the more appropriate.  Meanwhile, I am of opinion
that all servants of the Council would do well to retire into as much
privacy as possible, and then maintain a careful look-out for squalls."

Having delivered this oration to the gaping guard, the Reverend Frank
crossed the room and went through the forbidden and dangerous
performance of shaking hands heartily with the "rebels."

He was still engaged in this treasonable act, and the men of the
town-guard had not yet recovered from their surprise, when hurrying
footsteps were again heard on the stair, and a man of the town-guard
sprang into the room, went to his chief, and whispered in his ear.  The
result was, that, with a countenance expressing mingled surprise and
anxiety, the officer led his men from the scene, and left the
long-persecuted Covenanters in peace.

"Losh, man! div 'ee railly think the news can be true?" asked Andrew
Black, after they had settled down and heard it all repeated.

"Indeed I do," said the Reverend Frank earnestly, "and I thank God that
a glorious Revolution seems to have taken place, and hope that the long,
long years of persecution are at last drawing to a close."

And Frank Selby was right.  The great Revolution of 1688, which set
William and Mary on the throne, also banished the tyrannical and
despotic house of Stuart for ever; opened the prison gates to the
Covenanters; restored to some extent the reign of justice and mercy;
crushed, if it did not kill, the heads of Popery and absolute power, and
sent a great wave of praise and thanksgiving over the whole land.
Prelacy was no longer forced upon Scotland.  The rights and liberties of
the people were secured, and the day had at last come which crowned the
struggles and sufferings of half a century.  As Mrs. Black remarked--

"Surely the blood o' the martyrs has not been shed in vain!"


But what of the fortunes of those whose adventures we have followed so
long?  Whatever they were, the record has not been written, yet we have
been told by a man whose name we may not divulge, but who is an
unquestionable authority on the subject, that soon after the persecution
about which we have been writing had ceased, a farmer of the name of
Black settled down among the "bonnie hills of Galloway," not far from
the site of the famous Communion stones on Skeoch Hill, where he took to
himself a wife; that another farmer, a married man named Wallace, went
and built a cottage and settled there on a farm close beside Black; that
a certain Rú Peter became shepherd to the farmer Black, and, with his
wife, served him faithfully all the days of his life; that the families
of these men were very large, the men among them being handsome and
stalwart, the women modest and beautiful, and that all of them were
loyal subjects and earnest, enthusiastic Covenanters.  It has been also
said, though we do not vouch for the accuracy of the statement, that in
the Kirk-session books of the neighbouring kirk of Irongray there may be
found among the baptisms such names as Andrew Wallace and Will Black,
Quentin Dick Black, and Jock Bruce Wallace; also an Aggie, a Marion, and
an Isabel Peter, besides several Jeans scattered among the three

It has likewise been reported, on reliable authority, that the original
Mr. Black, whose Christian name was Andrew, was a famous teller of
stories and narrator of facts regarding the persecution of the
Covenanters, especially of the awful killing-time, when the powers of
darkness were let loose on the land to do their worst, and when the
blood of Scotland's martyrs flowed like water.

Between 1661, when the Marquis of Argyll was beheaded, and 1668, when
James Renwick suffered, there were murdered for the cause of Christ and
Christian liberty about 18,000 noble men and women, some of whom were
titled, but the most of whom were unknown to earthly fame.  It is a
marvellous record of the power of God; and well may we give all honour
to the martyr band while we exclaim with the "Ayrshire Elder":--

  "O for the brave true hearts of old,
  That bled when the banner perished!
  O for the faith that was strong in death--
  The faith that our fathers cherished.

  "The banner might fall, but the spirit lived,
  And liveth for evermore;
  And Scotland claims as her noblest names
  The Covenant men of yore."


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