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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume 2 - Historical, Traditional, and Imaginative
Author: Leighton, Alexander, 1800-1874 [Contributor], Wilson, John Mackay, 1804-1835 [Compiler]
Language: English
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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 "Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume 2 - Historical, Traditional, and Imaginative" ***

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 Wilson's
 Tales of the Borders
 AND OF SCOTLAND.

 HISTORICAL, TRADITIONARY, & IMAGINATIVE.

 WITH A GLOSSARY.

 REVISED BY
 ALEXANDER LEIGHTON,
 _One of the Original Editors and Contributors._

 VOL. II.

 LONDON:
 WALTER SCOTT, 14 PATERNOSTER SQUARE,
 AND NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.
 1884.



CONTENTS.


 A WIFE OR THE WUDDY,             (_John Mackay Wilson_),    1
 LORD DURIE AND CHRISTIE'S WILL,  (_Alexander Leighton_),   33
 RECOLLECTIONS OF BURNS,          (_Hugh Miller_),          65
 THE PROFESSOR'S TALES            (_Professor Thomas Gillespie_)--
     THE CONVIVIALISTS,                                    122
     PHILIPS GREY,                                       144
 DONALD GORM,                     (_Alexander Campbell_),  155
 THE SURGEON'S TALES,             (_Alexander Leighton_)--
     THE CURED INGRATE,  188
 THE ADOPTED SON,                 (_John Mackay Wilson_),  220
 THE FORTUNES OF WILLIAM WIGHTON, (_John Howell_),         247
 MY BLACK COAT; OR, THE BREAKING
     OF THE BRIDE'S CHINA,        (_John Mackay Wilson_),  276



 WILSON'S
 TALES OF THE BORDERS
 AND OF SCOTLAND.

THE WIFE OR THE WUDDY.

    "There was a criminal in a cart
       Agoing to be hanged--
     Reprieve to him was granted;
       The crowd and cart did stand,
     To see if he would marry a wife,
     'Oh, why should I torment my life?'
       The victim did reply;
     'The bargain's bad in every part--
       But a wife's the worst!--drive on the cart.'"


Honest Sir John Falstaff talketh of "minions of the moon;" and, truth
to tell, two or three hundred years ago, nowhere was such an order of
knighthood more prevalent than upon the Borders. Not only did the
Scottish and English Borderers make their forays across the Tweed
and the ideal line, but rival chieftains, though of the same nation,
considered themselves at liberty to make inroads upon the property
of each other. The laws of _meum_ and _tuum_ they were unable to
comprehend. Theirs was the strong man's world, and with them _might_ was
_right_. But to proceed with our story. About the beginning of the
seventeenth century, one of the boldest knights upon the Borders was
William Scott, the young laird of Harden. His favourite residence was
Oakwood Tower, a place of great strength, situated on the banks of the
Ettrick. The motto of his family was "_Reparabit cornua Phoebe_," which
being interpreted by his countrymen, in their vernacular idiom, ran
thus--"We'll hae moonlight again." Now, the young laird was one who
considered it his chief honour to give effect to both the spirit and
the letter of his family motto. Permitting us again to refer to honest
Falstaff, it implied that they were "gentlemen of the night;" and he was
not one who would loll upon his pillow when his "avocation" called him
to the foray.

It was drawing towards midnight, in the month of October, when the
leaves in the forest had become brown and yellow, and with a hard sound
rustled upon each other, that young Scott called together his retainers,
and addressing them, said--"Look ye, friends, is it not a crying sin and
a national shame to see things going aglee as they are doing? There
seems hardly such a thing as manhood left upon the Borders. A bit
scratch with a pen upon parchment is becoming of more effect than a
stroke with the sword. A bairn now stands as good a chance to hold and
to have, as an armed man that has a hand to take and to defend. Such a
state o' things was only made for those who are ower lazy to ride by
night, and ower cowardly to fight. Never shall it be said that I,
William Scott of Harden, was one who either submitted or conformed to
it. Give me the good, old, manly law, that 'they shall keep who can,'
and wi' my honest sword will I maintain my right against every enemy.
Now, there is our natural and lawful adversary, auld Sir Gideon Murray
o' Elibank, carries his head as high as though he were first cousin to a
king, or the sole lord o' Ettrick Forest. More than once has he slighted
me in a way which it wasna for a Scott to bear; and weel do I ken that
he has the will, and wants but the power, to harry us o' house and ha'.
But, by my troth, he shall pay a dear reckoning for a' the insults he
has offered to the Scotts o' Harden. Now, every Murray among them has a
weel-stocked mailing, and their kine are weel-favoured; to-night the
moon is laughing cannily through the clouds:--therefore, what say ye,
neighbours--will ye ride wi' me to Elibank? and, before morning, every
man o' them shall have a toom byre."

"Hurra!" shouted they, "for the young laird! He is a true Scott from
head to heel! Ride on, and we will follow ye! Hurra!--the moon glents
ower the hills to guide us to the spoils o' Elibank! To-night we shall
bring langsyne back again."

There were twenty of them, stout and bold men, mounted upon light
and active horses--some armed with firelocks, and others with Jeddart
staves; while, in addition to such weapons, every man had a good sword
by his side. At their head was the fearless young laird; and, at a brisk
pace, they set off towards Elibank. Mothers and maidens ran to their
cottage doors, and looked after them with foreboding hearts when they
rode along; for it was a saying amongst them, that "when young Willie
Scott o' Harden set his foot in the stirrup at night, there were to be
swords drawn before morning." They knew, also, the feud between him and
the house of Elibank, and as well did they know that the Murrays were a
resolute and a sturdy race.

Morn had not dawned when they arrived at the scene where their booty
lay. Not a Murray was abroad; and to the extreme they carried the threat
of the young laird into execution, of making "toom byres." By scores and
by hundreds, they collected together, into one immense herd, horned
cattle and sheep, and they drove them before them through the forest
towards Oakwood Tower. The laird, in order to repel any rescue that
might be attempted, brought up the rear, and, in the joy of his heart,
he sang, and, at times, cried aloud, "There will be dry breakfasts in
Elibank before the sun gets oot, but a merry meal at Oakwood afore he
gangs doun. An entire bullock shall be roasted, and wives and bairns
shall eat o' it."

"I humbly beg your pardon, Maister William," said an old retainer, named
Simon Scott, and who traced a distant relationship to the family; "I
respectfully ask your pardon; but I have been in your faither's family
for forty years, and never was backward in the hoor o' danger, or in a
ploy like this; but ye will just alloo me to observe, sir, that wilfu'
waste maks wofu' want, and I see nae occasion whatever for roasting a
bullock. It would be as bad as oor neebors on the ither side o' the
Tweed, wha are roast, roastin', or bakin' in the oven, every day o' the
week, and makin' a stane weight o' meat no gang sae far as twa or three
pounds wad hae dune. Therefore, sir, if ye will tak my advice, if we are
to hae a feast, there will be nae roastin' in the way. There was a fine
sharp frost the other nicht, and I observed the rime lying upon the
kail; so that baith greens and savoys will be as tender as a weel-boiled
three-month-auld chicken; and I say, therefore, let the beef be boiled,
and let them hae ladlefu's o' kail, and ye will find, sir, that instead
o' a hail bullock, even if ye intend to feast auld and young, male and
female, upon the lands o' Oakwood, a quarter o' a bullock will be amply
sufficient, and the rest can be sauted doun for winter's provisions. Ye
ken, sir, that the Murrays winna let us lichtly slip for this nicht's
wark; and it is aye safest, as the saying is, to lay by for a sair fit."

"Well argued, good Simon," said the young laird; "but your economy
is ill-timed. After a night's work such as this there is surely
some licence for gilravishing. I say it--and who dare contradict
me?--to-night there is not one belonging to the house of Harden, be
they old or young, who shall not eat of roast meat, and drink of
the best."

"Weel, sir," replied Simon, "wi' reverence be it spoken, but I would beg
to say that ye are wrang. Folk that ance get a liking for dainties tak
ill wi' plainer fare again; and, moreover, sir, in a' my experience, I
never kenned dainty bits and hardihood to go hand in hand; but, on the
contrary, luxuries mak men effeminate, and discontented into the
bargain."

The altercation between the old retainer and his young master ran
farther; but it was suddenly interrupted by the deep-mouthed baying of a
sleuth-hound; and its threatening howls were followed by a loud cry, as
if from fifty voices, of--"To-night for Sir Gideon and the house of
Elibank!"

But here we pause to say that Sir Gideon Murray of Elibank was a man
whose name was a sound of terror to all who were his enemies. As a foe,
he was fierce, resolute, unforgiving. He had never been known to turn
his back upon a foe, or forgive an injury. He knew the meaning of
justice in its severest sense, but not of compassion; he was a stranger
to the attribute of mercy, and the life of the man who had injured him,
he regarded as little as the life of the worm which he might tread
beneath his heel upon his path. He was a man of middle age; and had
three daughters, none of whom were what the world calls beautiful; but,
on the contrary, they were what even the dependents upon his estates
described as "very ordinary-looking young women."

Such was Sir Gideon Murray of Elibank; and, although the young laird
of Harden conceived that he had come upon him as "a thief in the
night"--and some of my readers, from the transaction recorded, may be
somewhat apt to take the scriptural quotation in a literal sense--yet I
would say, as old Satchel sings of the Borderers of those days, they
were men--

    "Somewhat unruly, and very ill to tame.
     I would have none think that I call them thieves;
     For, if I did, it would be arrant lies."

But, stealthily as the young master of Harden had made his preparations
for the foray, old Sir Gideon had got timely notice of it; and hence it
was, that not a Murray seemed astir when they took the cattle from the
byres, and drove them towards Oakwood. But, through the moonlight, there
were eyes beheld every step they took--their every movement was watched
and traced; and amongst those who watched was the stern old knight, with
fifty followers at his back.

"Quiet! quiet!" he again and again, in deep murmurs, uttered to his
dependents, throwing back his hand, and speaking in a deep and earnest
whisper, that awed even the slow but ferocious sleuth-hound that
accompanied them, and caused it to crouch back to his feet. In a yet
deeper whisper, he added, encouragingly--"Patience, my merry men!--bide
your time!--ye shall hae work before long go by."

When, therefore, the young laird and his followers began to disperse in
the thickest of the forest, as they drove the cattle before them, Sir
Gideon suddenly exclaimed--"Now for the onset!" And, at the sound of his
voice, the sleuth-hound howled loud and savagely.

"We are followed!--Halt! halt!--to arms! to arms!" cried the heir of
Harden.

Three or four were left in charge of the now somewhat scattered herd of
cattle, and to drive them to a distance; while the rest of the party
spurred back their horses as rapidly as the tangled pass in the forest
would permit, to the spot from whence the voice of their young leader
proceeded. They arrived speedily, but they arrived too late. In a
moment, and with no signal save the baying of the hound, old Sir Gideon
and his armed company had burst upon young Scott and Old Simon, and ere
the former could cry for assistance, they had surrounded them.

"Willie Scott! ye rash laddie!" cried Sir Gideon--"yield quietly, or
a thief's death shall ye die; and in the very forest through which
ye have this night driven my cattle, the corbies and you shall become
acquaint--or, at least, if ye see not them, they shall see you and feel
you too."

"Brag on, ye auld greybeard," exclaimed the youth; "but while a Scott o'
Harden has a finger to wag, no power on earth shall make his tongue say
'I am conquered!' So come on!--do your best--do your worst--here is the
hand and the sword to meet ye!--and were ye ten to one, ye shall find
that Willie Scott isna the lad to turn his back, though ten full-grown
Murrays stand before his face."

"By my sooth, then, callant," cried the old knight, "and it was small
mercy, after what ye hae done, that I intended to show ye; and after
what ye hae said, it shall be less that I will grant ye. Sae come on
lads, and now to humble the Hardens."

"Arm! every Scott to arms!" again shouted the young laird; "and now,
Sir Gideon, if ye will measure weapons, and leave your _weel-faured_
daughters as a legacy to the world, be it sae. But there are lads among
your clan o' whom they would hae been glad, and who, belike in _pity_,
might hae offered them their hands, but who will this night mak a bride
o' the green sward! Sae come on, Sir Gideon, and on you and yours be the
consequence!"

"Before sunrise," returned Sir Gideon, "and the winsome laird o' Harden
shall boast less vauntingly, and rue that he had broke his jeers upon an
auld man. Touch me, sir, but not my bairns."

The conflict began, and on each side the strife was bloody and
desperate. Bold men grasped each other by the throat, and they held
their swords to each other's breasts, scowling one upon another with
the ferocity of contending tigers, ere each gave the deadly plunge
which was to hurl both into eternity. The report of fire-arms, the
clash of swords, the clang of shields, with the neighing of maddened
horses, the lowing of affrighted cattle, the howl of the sleuth-hounds,
and the angry voices of fierce men, mingled wildly together, and, in
one fearful and discordant echo, rang through the forest. This wild
sound was followed by the low melancholy groans of the dying. But, as
I have already stated, the Scotts, and the cattle which they drove before
them, were scattered, and ere those who were in advance could arrive to
the rescue of their friends in the rear, the latter were slain, wounded,
or overpowered. They also fought against fearful odds. The young laird
himself had his sword broken in his grasp, and his horse was struck
dead beneath him. He was instantly surrounded and made prisoner by the
Murrays; and, at the same time, old Simon fell into their hands.

The few remaining retainers of the house of Harden gave way when they
found their leader a captive, and they fled, leaving the cattle behind
them. Sir Gideon Murray, therefore, recovered all that had been taken
from him; and though he had captured but two prisoners, the one was the
chief, and the other his principal adviser and second in command. The
old knight, therefore, commanded that they should be bound with cords
together, and in such rueful plight led to his castle at Elibank. It was
noon before they reached it, and Lady Murray came forth to welcome her
husband, and congratulate him upon his success. But when she beheld the
heir of Harden a captive, and thought of how little mercy was to be
expected from Sir Gideon when once aroused, she remembered that she was
a mother, and that one of her children might one day be situated as
their prisoner then was.

The young laird, with his aged kinsman and dependent, were thrust into
a dark room; and he who locked them up informed them that the next day
their bodies would be hung up on the nearest tree.

"My life and lang fasting!" exclaimed Simon, "ye surely wouldna be
speaking o' sic a thing as hanging to an auld man like me. If we were
to be shot or beheaded--though I would like neither the ane nor the
ither--it wouldna be a thing in particular to be complained o'; but to
be hanged like a dog is so disgracefu' and unchristian-like, that I
would rather die ten times in a day, than feel a hempen cravat about my
neck ance. And, moreover, I must say that hanging is not treating my
dear young maister and kinsman as he ocht to be treated. His birth, his
rank, and the memory o' his ancestors and mine, demand mair respect; and
therefore, I say, gae tell your maister, that, if he is determined that
we are to die--though I have no ambition to cut my breath before my
time--that I think, as a gentleman, it is his duty to see that we die
the death o' gentlemen.

"Silence, Simon," cried the young laird; "let Murray hang us in his
bedchamber if he will. No matter what manner o' death we die, provided
only that we die like men. Let him hang us if he dare, and the disgrace
be his that is coward enough so to make an end of his enemy.

"O sir," said Simon, "but that is poor comfort to a man that has to
leave a small family behind him.

"Simon! are you afraid to die?" cried the captive laird, in a tone of
rebuke.

"No, your honour," said Simon--"that is, I am no more afraid to die than
other men are, or ought to be--but only ye'll observe, sir, that I have
no ambition--not, as I may say, to draw my last breath upon a wuddy, but
to have it very unnaturally stopped. Begging your pardon, but you are a
young man, while I have a wife and family that would be left to mourn
for me!--and O sir! the wife and the bits o' bairns press unco sairly
upon a man's heart, when death tries to come in the way between him and
them. In exploits like that in which we were last night engaged, and
also in battles abroad, I have faced danger in every shape a hundred
times--yet, sir, to be shot in a moment, as it were, or to be run
through the body, and to die honourably on the field, is a very
different thing from deliberately walking up a ladder to the branch o'
a tree, from which we are never to come doun in life again. And mair
than that, if we had been o' Johnny Faa's gang, they couldna hae treated
us mair disrespectfully than to condemn us to the death that they have
decreed for us."

"Providing ye die bravely, Simon," said the young laird, "it is little
matter what manner o' death ye die; and as for your wife and weans, fear
not; my faither's house will provide for them. For, though I fall now,
there will be other heirs left to the estate o' Harden."

While the prisoners thus conversed in the place of their confinement,
Lady Murray spoke unto her husband, saying--"And what, Sir Gideon, if
it be a fair question, may ye intend to do wi' the braw young laird o'
Harden, now that he is in your power?"

He drew her gently by the arm towards the window, and pointing towards
a tree which grew at the distance of a few yards, he said--"Do ye see
yonder branch o' the elm tree that is waving in the wind? To-morrow,
young Scott and his kinsman shall swing there together, or hereafter say
that I am no Murray."

"O guidman!" said she, "it is because I was terrified that ye would be
doing the like o' that, that caused me to ask the question. Now, I must
say, Sir Gideon, whatever ye may think, that ye are not only acting
cruelly, but foolishly."

"I care naething about the cruelty," cried he; "what mercy did ever a
Scott among them show to me or to mine? Lady Murray, the ball is at my
foot, and I will kick it, though I deprive Scott o' Harden o' a head.
And what mean ye, dame, by saying I act foolishly?"

"Only this, guidman," said she--"that ye hae three daughters to marry,
whom the world doesna consider to be ower weel-faured, and it isna every
day that ye hae a husband for ane o' them in your hand."

"Sooth!" cried he, "and for once in your life ye are right,
guidwife--there is mair wisdom in that remark than I would hae
gien ye credit for. To-morrow, the birkie o' Harden shall have his
choice--either upon the instant to marry our daughter, Meikle-mouthed
Meg, or strap for it."

"Weel, Sir Gideon," added she, "to make him marry Meg will be mair
purpose-like than to cut off the head and the hope of an auld house, in
the very flower o' his youth; and there is nae doubt as to the choice he
will mak, for there is an unco difference between them."

"Dinna be ower sure," continued the knight; "there is nae saying what
his choice may be. There is both pluck and a spirit o' contradiction in
the callant, and I wouldna be in the least surprised if he preferred the
wuddy. I ken, had I been in his place, what my choice would hae been."

"I daresay, Sir Gideon," replied the old lady, who was jocose at the
idea of seeing one of her daughters wed, "I daresay I could guess what
that choice would hae been."

"And what, in your wisdom," said he sharply, "do ye think it would hae
been--the wife or the wuddy?"

"O Gideon! Gideon!" said she, good-humouredly, and shaking her head,
"weel do ye ken that your choice would hae been a wife."

"There ye are wrang," cried he; "I would rather die a death that was
before me, than marry a wife I had never seen. But go ye and prepare Meg
for becoming a bride the morn, and I shall see what the intended
bridegroom says to the proposal."

In obedience to his commands, she went to an apartment in which their
eldest daughter Agnes, but commonly called "Meikle-mouthed Meg," then
sat, twirling a distaff. The old dame sat down by her daughter's side,
and, after a few observations respecting the weather, and the quality of
the lint she was then torturing into threads, she said--"Weel, I'm just
thinking, Meggie, that ye mak me an auld woman. Ye would be
six-and-twenty past at last Lammas."

"So I believe, mother!" said Meggie; and a sigh, or a very deep and
long-drawn breath, followed her words.

"Dear me!" continued the old lady, "young men maun be growing very
scarce. I wanted four months and five days o' being nineteen when I
married your faither, and I had refused at least six offers before I
took him!"

"Ay, mother," replied the maiden; "but ye had a weel-faured face--there
lay the difference! Heigho!"

"Heigho!" responded her mother, as in pleasant raillery--"what is the
lassie heighoing at? Certes, if ye get a guidman before ye be six and
twenty, ye may think yoursel' a very fortunate woman."

"Yes," added the maiden; "but I see sma' prospect o' that. I doubt ye
will see the Ettrick running through the 'dowie dells o' Yarrow,' before
ye hear tell o' an offer being made to me."

"Hoot, hoot!--dinna say sae, bairn," added her mother; "there is nae
saying what may betide ye yet. Ye think ye winna be married before ye
are six and twenty; but, truly, my dear, there has mony a mair unlikely
ship come to land. Now, what wad ye think o' the young laird o' Harden?"

"Mother! mother!" said Agnes, "wherefore do ye mock me? I never saw ye
do that before. My faither has ta'en William Scott a prisoner; and, from
what I hae heard, he will hang him in the morning. Ye ken what a man my
faither is--when he says a thing he will do it; and how can you jest
about the young man, when his very existence is reduced to a matter o'
minutes and moments. Though, rather than my faither should tak his life,
if I could save him, he should take mine."

"Weel said, my bairn," replied the old woman; "but dinna ye be put about
concerning what will never come to pass. I doubtna that, before morning,
ye will find young Scott o' Harden at your feet, and begging o' you to
save his life, by giving him your hand and troth, and becoming his wife:
and then, ye ken, your faither couldna, for shame, hang or do ony harm
to his ain son-in-law."

"O mother! mother!" replied Agnes, "it will never be in my power to save
him; for what ye hae said he will never think o'; and even if I were his
wife, I question if my faither would pardon him, though I should beg it
upon my knees."

"Oh, your faither's no sae ill as that, Meggie, my doo," said the old
lady. "Mark my words--if Willie Scott consent to marry you, ye will
henceforth find him and your faither hand and glove."

While this conversation between Lady Murray and her daughter took place,
Sir Gideon entered the room where his prisoners were confined, and,
addressing the young laird, said--"Now, ye rank marauder, though death
is the very least that ye deserve or can expect from my hands, yet I
will gie ye a chance for your life, and ye shall choose between a wife
and the wuddy. To-morrow morning, ye shall either marry my daughter Meg,
or swing from the branch o' the nearest tree, and the bauldest Scott
upon the Borders shanna tak ye down, until ye drop away, bone by bone,
a fleshless skeleton."

"Good save us! most honourable and good Sir Gideon!" suddenly
interrupted Simon, in a tone which bespoke his horror; "but ye certainly
dinna intend to make an anatomy o' me too; or surely, when my honoured
maister marries Miss Murray (as I hope and trust he will), ye will
alloo me to dance at their wedding, instead o' dancing in the air, and
keeping time to the music o' the soughing wind. And, O maister! for
my sake, for your ain sake, and especially out o' regard to my sma'
and helpless family, consent to marry the lassie, though she isna
extraordinar' weel-faured; for I am sure that, rather than die a dog's
death, swinging from a tree, I would marry twenty wives, though they
were a' as auld as the hills, as ugly as a starless midnicht, and had
tongues like trumpets."

"Peace, Simon!" cried the young laird, impatiently; "if ye hae turned
coward, keep the sound o' yer fears within yer ain teeth. And ye, Sir
Gideon," added he, turning towards the old knight, "in your amazing
mercy and generosity, would spare my life, upon condition that I should
marry your _bonny_ daughter Meg! Look ye, sir--I am Scott o' Harden, and
ye are Murray o' Elibank; there is no love lost between us; chance has
placed my life in your hands--take it, for I wouldna marry your daughter
though ye should gie me life, and a' the lands o' Elibank into the
bargain. I fear as little to meet death as I do to tell you to your
teeth that, had ye fallen into my hands, I would have hung ye wi' as
little ceremony as I would bring a whip across the back o' a disobedient
hound. Therefore, ye are welcome to do the same by me. Ye have taken
what ye thought to be a sure mode o' getting a husband for ane o' your
_winsome_ daughters; but, in the present instance, it has proved a wrong
one, auld man. Do your worst, and there will be Scotts enow left to
revenge the death o' the laird o' Harden."

"There, then, is my thumb, young braggart," exclaimed Sir Gideon, "that
I winna hinder ye in your choice; for to-morrow ye shall be exalted as
Haman was; and let those revenge your death who dare."

"Maister!--dear maister!" cried Simon, wringing his hands, "will ye
sacrifice me also, and break the hearts o' my puir wife and family!
O sir, accept o' Sir Gideon's proposal, and marry his dochter."

"Silence! ye milk-livered slave!" cried the young laird. "Do ye pretend
to bear the name o' Scott, and yet tremble like an ash leaf at the
thought o' death!"

"Ye will excuse me, sir," retorted Simon, "but I tremble at no such
thing; only, as I have already remarked, I have no particular ambition
for being honoured wi' the exaltation o' the halter; and, moreover, I
see no cause why a man should die unnecessarily, or where death can be
avoided. Sir Gideon," added he, "humble prisoner as I at this moment
am, and in your power, I leave it to you if ever ye saw ony thing in my
conduct in the field o' battle (and ye have seen me there) that could
justify ony ane in calling me either milk-livered or a coward? But, sir,
I consider it would be altogether unjustifiable to deprive ane o' life,
which is always precious, merely because my maister is stubborn, and
winna marry your daughter. But, oh, sir, I am not a very auld man yet,
and if ye will set me at liberty, though I am now a married man, in the
event o' my ever becoming a widower, I gie ye my solemn promise that I
will marry ony o' your dochters that ye please!"

"Audacious idiot!" exclaimed the old knight, raising his hand and
striking poor Simon to the ground.

"Sir Gideon Murray!" cried the young laird fiercely, "are ye such a base
knave as to strike a fettered prisoner! Shame fa' ye, man! where is the
pride o' the Murrays now?"

Sir Gideon evidently felt the rebuke, and, withdrawing from the
apartment, said, as he departed--"Remember that when the sun-dial shall
to-morrow note the hour of twelve, so surely shall ye be brought
forth--and a wife shall be your lot, or the wuddy your doom."

"Leave me!" cried the youth impatiently, "and the gallows be it--my
choice is made. Till my last hour trouble me not again."

"Sir! sir!" cried Simon, "I beg, I pray that ye will alter your
determination. There is surely naething so awful in the idea o'
marriage, even though your wife should have a face not particularly
weel-favoured. Ye dinna ken, sir, but that the young woman's looks are
her worst fault; and, indeed, I hae heard her spoken o' as a lassie o'
great sense and discretion, and as having an excellent temper; and, oh,
sir, if ye kenned as weel what it is to be married as I do, ye would
think that a good temper was a recommendation far before beauty."

"Hold thy fool's tongue, Simon," cried the laird; "would ye disgrace the
family wi' which ye make it your boast to be connected, when in the
power and presence o' its enemies? Do as ye see me do--die and defy
them."

It was drawing towards midnight, when the prison-door was opened, and
the sentinel who stood watch over it admitted a female dressed as a
domestic.

"What want ye, or whom seek ye, maiden?" inquired the laird.

"I come," answered she mildly, "to speak wi' the laird o' Harden, and to
ask if he has any dying commands that a poor lassie could fulfil for
him."

"Dying commands!" responded Simon; "oh, are those no awful words!--and
can ye still be foolhardy enough to say ye winna marry?"

"Who sent ye, maiden?--or who are ye?" continued the laird.

"A despised lassie, sir," answered she, "and an attendant upon Sir
Gideon's lady, in whom ye hae a true and steadfast friend; though I
doubt that, as ye hae refused poor Meg, her intercession will avail ye
little."

"And wherefore has Lady Murray sent you here?" he continued.

"Just, sir, because she is a mother, and has a mother's heart; and, as
ye hae a mother and sisters who will now be mourning for ye at Oakwood,
she thought that, belike, ye would hae something to say that ye would
wish to hae communicated to them; and, if it be sae, I am come to offer
to be your messenger."

"Maiden!" said he, with emotion, "speak not of my poor mother, or you
will unman me, and I would wish to die as becomes my father's son."

"That's right, hinny," whispered Simon; "speak to him about his mother
again--talk about her sorrow, poor lady, and her tears, and distraction,
and mourning--and I hae little doubt but that we shall get him to marry
Meg, or do onything else, and I shall get back to my family after a'."

"What is it that ye whisper, Simon, in the maiden's ear?" inquired the
laird, sternly.

"Oh, naething, sir--naething, I assure ye," answered Simon, falteringly;
"I was only saying that, if ye sent her ower to Oakwood wi' a message to
your poor, honoured, wretched mother, that she would inquire for my poor
widow, Janet, and my bits o' bairns, and that she would tell them that
nothing troubled me upon my death-bed--no, no, not my death-bed, but--I
declare I am ashamed to think o't!--I was saying that I was simply
telling her to inform my wife and bairns, that nothing distracted me in
the hour o' death but the thought o' being parted from them."

Without noticing the evasive reply of his dependent and fellow-prisoner,
the laird, addressing the intruder, said--"Ye speak as a kind and
considerate lassie. I would like to send a scrape o' a pen to my poor
mother, and, if ye will be its bearer, she will reward ye."

"And, belike," she replied, "ye would like to hear if the good lady has
an answer back, or to learn how she bore the tidings o' your unhappy
fate."

"Before you could return," said he, "the time appointed by my adversary
for my execution will be past, and I shall feel for my mother's sorrows
with the sympathy of a disembodied spirit."

"But," added she, "if you would like to hear from your poor mother, or,
belike, to see her--for there may be family matters that ye would wish
to have arranged--I think, through the influence of my lady, Sir Gideon
could be prevailed upon to grant ye a respite for three or four days;
and, as he isna a man that keeps his passion long, perhaps by that time
he may be disposed to save your life upon terms that would be more
acceptable."

"No, maiden," he replied; "he is my enemy; and from him I wish no
terms--no clemency. Let him fulfil his purpose--I will die; but my death
shall be revenged; and tell my mother that it was my latest injunction
that she should command every follower of our house to avenge her son's
death, while there is a Murray left in all Scotland to repent the deed
o' the knight o' Elibank."

"Oh, sweet young ma'am, or mistress!" cried Simon; "bear the lady no
such message; but rather, as ye hae said, try if it be possible to get
your own good lady to persuade Sir Gideon to spare our lives for a few
days; and, as ye say, the edge o' the auld knight's revenge may be
blunted by that time, or, perhaps, my worthy young maister may be
brought to see things in a clearer light, and, perhaps, to marry Miss
Margaret, by which means our lives may be spared. For it is certainly
the height o' madness in him to sacrifice my life and his own, rather
than marry her before he has seen her."

"Simon," interrupted the laird, "the maiden has spoken kindly; let her
endeavour to procure a respite--a reprieve for you. In your death my
enemy can have no gratification; but for me--leave me to myself."

"O sir," replied Simon, "ye wrong me--ye mistake my meaning a'thegither.
If you are to die, I will die also; but do ye no think it would be as
valorous, and mair rational, at least to see and hear the young leddy
before ye determine to die rather than to marry her?"

"And hae ye," said the maiden, addressing the laird, "preferred the
gallows to poor Meg without even seeing her?"

"If I haena seen her I hae heard o' her," said he; "and by all accounts
her countenance isna ane that ony man would desire to see accompanying
him through the world like a shadow at his oxter."

"Belike," said the maiden, "she has been represented to you worse than
she looks like--if ye saw her, ye might change your opinion; and,
perhaps, after a', that she isna bonny is a' that any one can say
against her."

"Wheesht, lassie!" said he; "I winna be forced to onything. A Scott may
be led, but he winna drive. I have nae wish to see the face o' your
young mistress, for I winna hae her. But you speak as one that has a
feeling heart, and before I trust ye wi' my last letter to my poor
mother, I should like to have a glance at your face, and by your
countenance I shall judge whether or not it will be safe to trust ye."

"I doubt, sir," replied she, throwing back the hood that covered her
head, "ye will see as little in my features as ye expect to find in my
young mistress's to recommend me; but, sir, you ought to remember that
jewels are often encrusted in coarser metals, and ye will often find a
delicious kernel within an unsightly shell."

"Ye speak sweetly, and as sensibly as sweet," said he, raising the
flickering lamp, which burned before them upon a small table, and gazing
upon her countenance; "and I will now tell ye, lassie, that if your
features be not beautiful, there is honesty and kindliness written upon
every line o' them; and though ye are a dependent in the house o' my
enemy, I will trust ye. Try if I can obtain writing materials to address
a few lines to my mother, and I will confide in you to deliver them."

"Ye may confide in me," rejoined she, "and the writing materials which
ye desire I hae brought wi' me. Write, and not only shall your letter be
faithfully delivered, but, as ye hae confided in me, I will venture to
say that your life shall be spared until ye receive her answer; for I
may say that what I request, Lady Murray will try to see performed. And
if I can find any means in my power by which ye can escape, it shall not
be lang that ye will remain a prisoner."

"Thank ye!--doubly thank ye!" cried Simon; "ye are a good and a kind
creature; and though my maister refuses to marry your mistress, yet, had
I been single, I would hae married you. But, oh, when ye go wi' the
letter to his mother, my honoured lady, will ye just go away down to a
bit white house which lies by the river side, about a mile and a half
aboon Selkirk, and there ye will find my poor wife and bairns--or
rather, I should say, my unhappy widow and my orphans--and tell
them--oh, tell my wife--that I never kenned how dear she was to me till
now; but that, if she marries again, my ghost will haunt her night and
day; and tell also the bairns that, above everything, I charge them to
be good to their mother."

The young laird sat down, and, writing a letter to his mother, intrusted
it to the hands of the stranger girl. He raised her hand to his lips as
she withdrew, and a tear trickled down his cheeks as he thanked her.

It was early on the following morning that Meikle-mouthed Meg, as
she was called, requested an interview with her father, which being
granted, after respectfully rendering obeisance before him, she
said--"So, faither, I understand that it is your pleasure that I shall
this day become the wife o' young Scott o' Harden. I think, sir, that
it is due to the daughter o' a Murray o' Elibank, that she should be
courted before she gies her hand. The young man has never seen me; he
kens naething concerning me; an' never will yer dochter disgrace ye by
gieing her hand to a man who only accepted it to save his neck from a
hempen cord. Faither, if it be your command that I am to marry him, I
will an' must marry him; but, before I just make a venture upon him for
better for worse, an' for life, I wad like to hae some sma' acquaintance
wi' him, to see what sort o' a lad he is, and what kind o' temper he
has; and therefore, faither, I humbly crave that ye will put off the
death or the marriage for a week at least, that I may hae an opportunity
o' judging for mysel' how far it would be prudent or becoming in me to
consent to be his wife."

"Gie me your hand, Meg," cried the old knight; "I didna think ye had as
muckle spirit and gumption in ye as to say what ye hae said. But your
request is useless; for he has already, point blank, refused to hae ye;
an' there is naething left for him, but, before sunset, to strike his
heels against the bark o' the auld elm tree."

"Say not that, faither," said she--"let me at least hae four days to
become acquainted wi' him; and if in that time he doesna mak a request
to you to marry me without ony dowry, then will I say that I look even
waur than I get the name o' doing."

"He shall have four days, Meg," cried the old knight; "for your sake he
will have them; but if, at the end o' four days, he shall refuse to take
ye, he shall hang before this window, and his poor half-crazed companion
shall bear him company."

With this assurance Agnes, or, as she was called, Meg left her father,
and bethought her of how she might save the prisoners and secure a
husband.

The mother of the laird sat in the midst of her daughters, mourning for
him, and looking from the window of the tower, as though, in every form
that appeared in the distance, she expected to see him, or at least to
gather tidings regarding him, when information was brought to her that
he was the prisoner of Murray of Elibank.

"Then," cried she, and wept, "the days o' my winsome Willie are
numbered, and his death is determined on; for often has Sir Gideon
declared he would gie a' the lands o' Elibank for his head. My Willie is
my only son, my first-born, and my heart's hope and treasure; and, oh,
if I lose him now, if I shall never again hear his kindly voice say
'_mother_!' nor stroke down his yellow hair--wi' him that has made me
sonless I shall hae a day o' lang and fearfu' reckoning; cauld shall be
the hearth-stane in the house o' many a Murray, and loud their
lamentation."

Her daughters wept with her for their brother's fate; but they wist not
how to comfort her; and, while they sat mingling their tears together,
it was announced to them that a humble maiden, bearing a message from
the captive laird, desired to speak with her.

"Show her in!--take me to her!" cried the mother, impatiently. "Where is
she?--what does she say?--or what does my Willie say?" And the maiden
who has been mentioned as having visited the laird in his prison, was
ushered into her presence.

"Come to me, lassie--come and tell me a'," cried the old lady; "what
message does Willie Scott send to his heart-broken mother?"

"He has sent you this bit packet, ma'am," replied the bearer; "and I
shall be right glad to take back to him whatever answer ye may hae to
send."

"And wha are ye, young woman?" inquired the lady, "that speaks sae
kindly to a mother, an' takes an interest in the fate o' my Willie?"

"A despised lassie," was the reply; "but ane that would risk her ain
life to save either yours or his."

"Bless you for the words!" replied Lady Scott, as she broke the seal of
her son's letter, and read:--

"My mother, my honoured mother,--Fate has delivered me into the power of
Murray of Elibank, the enemy of our house. He has doomed me to death,
and I die to-morrow; but sit not down to mourn for me, and uselessly
to wring the hands and tear the hair; but rouse every Scott upon the
Borders to rise up and be my avenger. If ye bewail the loss o' a son,
let them spare o' the Murrays neither son nor daughter. Rouse ye, and
let a mother's vengeance nerve your arm! Poor Simon o' Yarrow-foot is
to be my companion in death, and he whines to meet his fate with the
weakness of a woman, and yearns a perpetual yearning for his wife and
bairns. On that account I forgie him the want o' heart and determination
which he manifests; but see ye to them, and take care that they be
provided for. As for me, I shall meet my doom wi' disdain for my enemy
in my eyes and on my tongue. Even in death he shall feel that I despise
him; and a proof o' this I have given him already; for he has offered to
save my life, providing I would marry his daughter, Meikle-mouthed Meg.
But I have scorned his proposal."----

"Ye were right, Willie! ye were right, lad!" exclaimed his mother, while
the letter shook in her hand; but, suddenly bursting into tears, she
continued--"No, no! my bairn was wrong--very wrong. Life is precious,
and at all times desirable; and, for his poor mother's sake, he ought to
have married the lassie, whate'er she may be like." And, turning to the
bearer of the letter, she inquired--"And what like may the leddy be, the
marrying o' whom would save my Willie's life?"

"Ye have nae doubt heard, my leddy," replied the stranger, "that she
isna what the world considers to be a likely lass--though, take her as
she is, and ye might find a hantle worse wives than poor Meg would make;
and, as to her features, I may say that she looks much the same as I do;
and if she doesna appear better, she at least doesna look ony waur."

"Then, if she be as ye say, and look as ye say," continued the lady, "my
poor headstrong Willie ought to marry her. But, oh! weel do I ken that
in everything he is just his father ower again, and ye might as weel
think o' moving the Eildon hills as force him to onything."

She perused the concluding part o' her son's letter, in which he spoke
enthusiastically of the kindness shown him by the fair messenger, and of
the promise she had made to liberate him if possible. "And if she does,"
he added, "whatever be her parentage, on the day that I should be free,
she should be my wife, though I have preferred death to the hand o' Sir
Gideon's _comely_ daughter."

"Lassie," said the lady, weeping as she spoke, "my poor Willie talks a
deal o' the kindness ye have shown him in the hour o' his distress, and
for that kindness his mother's heart thanks ye. But do you not think
that it is possible that I could accompany ye to Elibank? and, if ye can
devise no means for him to escape, perhaps, if ye could get me admitted
into his presence, when he saw his poor distressed mother upon her knees
before him, his heart would saften, and he would marry Sir Gideon's
daughter, ill-featured though she may be."

"My leddy," answered the stranger maiden, "it is little that I can
promise, and less that I can do; but if ye desire to see yer son, I
think I could answer for accomplishing yer request; an' though nae guid
micht come oot o't, I could also say that I wad see ye safe back again."

Within an hour, Lady Scott, disguised as a peasant, and carrying a
basket on her arm, set out for Elibank, accompanied by the fair
stranger.

Leaving them upon their melancholy journey, we shall return to the
young laird. From the windows of his prison-house, he beheld the sun
rise which was to be the last on which he was to look. He heard the
sentinels, who kept watch over him, relieve each other; he heard them
pacing to and fro before the grated door, and as the sun rose towards
the south, proclaiming the approach of noon, the agitation of Simon
increased. He sat in a corner of the prison, and strove to pray; and, as
the footsteps of the sentinels quickened, he groaned in the bitterness
of his spirit. At length the loud booming of the gong announced that the
dial-plate upon the turret marked the hour of twelve. Simon clasped his
hands together. "Maister! maister!" he cried, "our hour is come, an' one
word from yer lips could save us baith, an' ye winna speak it. The very
holding oot o' yer hand could do it, but ye are stubborn even unto
death."

"Simon," said the laird, "I hae left it as an injunction upon my mother,
that yer wife an' weans be provided for--she will fulfil my request.
Therefore, be ye content. Die like a man, an' dinna disgrace both
yourself an' me."

"O sir! I winna disgrace, or in any manner dishonour ye," said
Simon--"only I do not see the smallest necessity for us to die, and
especially when both our lives could be saved by yer doing yerself a
good turn."

While he spoke, the sound of the sentinels' footsteps, pacing to and
fro, ceased. The prison-door was opened; Simon fell upon his knees--the
laird looked towards the intruder proudly.

"Your lives are spared for another day," said a voice, "that the laird
o' Harden may have time to reflect upon the proposal that has been made
to him. But let him not hope that he will find mercy upon other terms;
or that, refusing them for another day, his life will be prolonged."

The door was again closed, and the bolts were drawn. The spirit of Sir
Gideon was too proud and impatient to spare the lives of his prisoners
for four days, as he had promised to his daughter to do, and he now
resolved that they should die upon the following day.

The sun had again set, and the dim lamp shed around its fitful and
shadowy lights from the table of the prison-room, when the maiden, who
had carried the letter to the laird's mother, again entered.

"This is kind, very kind, gentle maiden," said he; "would that I could
reward ye! An' hoo fares it with my puir mother?--what answer does she
send?"

"An' oh, ma'am, or mistress!" cried Simon, "hoo fares it wi' my dear
wife an' bairns? I hope ye told them all that I desired ye to say. Hoo
did she bear the news o' being made a widow? An' what did she say to my
injunction that she was never to marry again?"

"Ye talk wildly, man," said the maiden, addressing Simon; "it wasna in
my power to carry yer commands to yer wife; but, I trust, it will be
longer than ye expect before she will be a widow, or hae it in her power
to marry again."

"O ye angel! ye perfect picture!" cried Simon, "what is that which I
hear ye say? Do ye really mean to tell me that I stand a chance o' being
saved, an' that I shall see my wife an' bairns again?"

"Even so," said she; "but whether ye do or do not, rests with yer
master."

"Speak not o' that, sweet maiden," said the laird; "but tell me, what
says my mother? How does she bear the fate o' her son; an' hoo does she
promise to avenge my death?"

"She is as one whose heart-strings are torn asunder," was the reply,
"and who refuses to be comforted; but she wad rather hae another dochter
than lose an only son; an' her prayer is, that ye will live and mak her
happy, by marrying the maiden ye despise."

"What!" he cried, "has even my mother so far forgot herself as to desire
me to marry the dochter o' oor enemy, whom no other man could be found
to take! It shall never be. I wad obey her in onything but that."

"But," said the maiden, "I still think ye are wrong to reject and
despise puir Meg before that ye hae seen her. She may baith be better
an' look better than ye are aware o'. There are as guid as Scott o'
Harden who hae said, that were it in their power they wad mak her their
wife; an' ye should remember, sir, that it will be as pleasant for you
to hear the blithe laverock singing ower yer head, as for another person
to hear the wind soughing and the long grass rustling ower yer grave. Ye
hae another day to live, an' see her, an' speak to her, before ye decide
rashly. Yours is a cruel doom, but Sir Gideon is a wrathfu' man; an'
even for his ain flesh an' bluid he has but sma' compassion when his
anger is provoked. Death, too, is an awfu' thing to think aboot; an',
therefore, for yer ain sake, an' for the sake o' yer puir distressed
mother an' sisters, dinna come to a rash determination."

"Sweet lass," replied he, "I respect the sympathy which ye evince; but
never shall Sir Gideon Murray say that, in order to save my life, he
terrified me into a marriage wi' his daughter. An' when my puir mother's
grief has subsided, she will think differently o' my decision."

"Weel, sir," said the maiden, "since ye will not listen to my
advice--an' I own that I hae nae richt to offer it--I will send ane to
ye whose persuasion will hae mair avail."

"Whom will ye send?" inquired the laird; "it isna possible that ye can
hae been playing me false?"

"No," she replied, "that isna possible; an' from her that I will send to
you, you will see whether or not I hae kept my word, guid and truly, to
fulfil yer message."

So saying, she withdrew, leaving him much wondering at her words, and
yet more at the interest which she took in his fate. But she had not
long withdrawn when the prison-door was again opened, and Lady Scott
rushed into the arms of her son.

"My mother!" cried he, starting back in astonishment--"my mother!--hoo
is this?"

"Oh, joy an' gladness, an' every blessing be upon my honoured lady!
for noo I may stand some chance o' walkin' back upon my ain feet to
see my family. Oh! yer leddyship," Simon added, "join yer prayers to my
prayers, an' try if ye can persuade my maister to marry Sir Gideon's
dochter, an' thereby save baith his life an' mine."

But she fell upon the neck of her son, and seemed not to hear the words
which Simon addressed to her.

"O my son! my son!" she cried; "since there is no other way by which yer
life can be ransomed, yield to the demand o' the fierce Murray. Marry
his daughter an' live--save yer wretched mother's life; for yer death,
Willie, wad be mine also."

"Mother!" answered he, vehemently, "I will never accept life upon such
terms. I am in Murray's hands, but the day may come--yea, see ye that it
does come--when he shall fall into the hands o' the Scotts o' Harden;
an' see ye that ye do to him as he shall have done to me. But, tell
me, mother, hoo are ye here? Wherefore did ye venture, or hoo got ye
permission to see me? Ken ye not that if he found ye in his power, upon
your life also he wad fix a ransom?"

"The kind lassie," she replied, "that brought the letter from ye, at my
request conducted me here, and contrived to get me permission to see
ye; an' she says that my visit shall not come to the knowledge o' Sir
Gideon. But, O Willie! as ye love an' respect the mother that bore ye,
an' that nursed ye nicht an' day at her bosom, dinna throw awa yer life
when it is in yer power to save it, but marry Miss Murray, an' ye may
live, an' so may I, to see many happy days; for, from a' that I hae
heard, though not weel-favoured, she is a young lady o' an excellent
disposition!"

"Oh! that's richt, my leddy," interrupted Simon; "urge him to marry her,
for it would be a dreadfu' thing for him an' I to be gibbeted, as a pair
o' perpetual spectacles for the Murrays to mak a jest o'. Ye ken if he
does marry, an' if he finds he doesna like her, he can leave her; or
he needna live wi' her; or, perhaps, she may soon die; an' ye will
certainly agree that marriage, ony way ye tak it, is to be desired, a
thousand times ower, before a violent death. Therefore, urge him again,
yer leddyship, for he may listen to what ye say, though he despises my
words, an' will not hearken to my advice."

"Simon," said the laird, "never shall a Murray hae it in his power to
boast that he struck terror into the breast o' a Scott o' Harden. My
determination is fixed as fate. I shall welcome my doom, an' meet it as
a man. Come, dear mother," he added, "weep not, nor cause me to appear
in the presence o' my enemies with a blanched cheek. Hasten to avenge my
death, an' think that in yer revenge yer son lives again. Come, though I
die, there will be moonlight again."

She hung upon his breast and wept, but he turned away his head and
refused to listen to her entreaties. The young maiden again entered the
prison, and said--

"Ye must part noo, for in a few minutes Sir Gideon will be astir, an'
should he find yer leddyship here, or discover that I hae brought ye, I
wad hae sma' power to gie ye protection."

"Fareweel, dear mother!--fareweel!" exclaimed the youth, grasping her
hand.

"O Willie! Willie!" she cried, "did I bear ye to see ye come to an end
like this! Bairn! bairn! live--for yer mother's sake, live!"

"Fareweel, mother!--fareweel!" he again cried, and the sentinel
conducted her from the apartment.

It again drew towards noon. The loud gong again sounded, and Simon
sank upon his knees in despair, as the voice of the warder was heard
crying--"It is the hour! prepare the prisoners for execution!"

Again the prison-door was opened, and Sir Gideon, with wrath upon his
brow, stood before them.

"Weel, youngster," said he, addressing the laird, "yer hour is come.
What is yer choice--a wife or the wuddy?"

"Lead me to execution, ye auld knave," answered the laird, scornfully;
"an' ken, that wi' the hemp around my neck, in contempt o' you an'
yours, I will spit upon the ground where ye tread."

"Here, guards!" cried Sir Gideon; "lead forth William Scott o' Harden to
execution. Strap him upon the nearest tree, an' there let him hang until
the bauldest Scott upon the Borders dare to cut him down. As for you,"
added he, addressing Simon, "I seek not your life; depart, ye are free;
but beware hoo ye again fall into the hands o' Gideon Murray."

"No, sir!" exclaimed Simon, "though I am free to acknowledge that I hae
nae ambition to die before it is the wise will an' purpose o' nature,
yet I winna, I canna leave my dear young maister; an' if he be to
suffer, I will share his fate. Only, Sir Gideon, there is ae thing I hae
to say, an' that is, that he is young, an' he is proud an' stubborn,
like yersel', an' though he will not, o' his ain free will an' accord,
nor in obedience to yer commandments, marry yer dochter--is it not
possible to compel him, whether he be willing or no, an' so save his
life, as it were, in spite o' him?"

"Away with both!" cried the knight, striking his ironed heel upon the
ground, and leaving the apartment.

"Then, if it is to be, it must be," said Simon, folding his arms in
resignation, "an' there is no help for it! But, oh, maister! maister!
ye hae acted foolishly."

They were led from the prison-house, and through the court-yard, towards
a tall elm-tree, round which all the retainers of Sir Gideon were
assembled to witness the execution; and the old knight took his place
upon an elevated seat in the midst of them.

The executioners were preparing to perform their office, when Agnes, or
Muckle-mouthed Meg, as she was called, came forth, with a deep veil
thrown over her face, and sinking on her knee before the old knight,
said, imploringly--"A boon, dear faither--yer dochter begs a simple
boon."

"Ye tak an ill season to ask it, Meg," said the knight, angrily; "but
what may it be?"

She whispered to him earnestly for a few minutes, during which his
countenance exhibited indignation and surprise; and when she had
finished speaking, she again knelt before him and embraced his knees.

"Rise, Meg, rise!" said he, impatiently, "for yer sake, an' at yer
request, he shall hae another chance to live." And, approaching the
prisoner, he added--"William Scott, ye hae chosen death in preference to
the hand o' my dochter. Will ye noo prefer to die rather than marry the
lassie that ran wi' the letter to yer mother, an' without my consent
brought her to see ye?"

"Had another asked me the question," said the laird, "though I ken not
who she is, yet she has a kind heart, and I should hae said 'No,' an'
offered her my hand, heart, an' fortune; but to you, Sir Gideon, I only
say--do yer worst."

"Then, Willie, my ain Willie!" cried his mother, who at that moment
rushed forward, "another does request ye to marry her, an' that is yer
ain mother!"

"An'," said Agnes, stepping forward, and throwing aside the veil that
covered her face, "puir Meg, ower whom ye gied a preference to the
gallows, also requests ye!"

"What!" exclaimed the young laird, grasping her hand, "is the kind
lassie that has striven, night and day, to save me--the very Meg that I
hae been treating wi' disdain?"

"In troth am I," she replied, "an' do ye prefer the wuddy still?"

"No," answered he; and, turning to Sir Gideon, he added--"Sir, I am now
willing that the ceremony end in matrimony."

"Be it so," said the old knight, and the spectators burst into a shout.

The day that began with preparations for death ended in a joyful bridal.
The honour of knighthood was afterwards conferred upon the laird; and
Meg bore unto him many sons and daughters, and was, as the reader will
be ready to believe, one of the best wives in Scotland; while Simon
declared that he never saw a better-looking woman in Ettrick Forest,
his own wife and daughters not excepted.



LORD DURIE AND CHRISTIE'S WILL.


Who can journey, now-a-days, along the high parts of Selkirkshire, and
hear the mire-snipe whistle in the morass, proclaiming itself, in the
silence around, the unmolested occupant of the waste, or descend into
the green valley, and see the lazy shepherd lying folded up in his
plaid, while his flocks graze in peace around him and in the distance,
and not think of the bold spirits that, in the times of Border warfare,
sounded the war-horn till it rang in reverberating echoes from hill to
hill? The land of the Armstrongs knows no longer their kindred. The
hills, ravines, mosses, and muirs, that, only a few centuries ago,
were animated by the boldest spirits that ever sounded a war-cry, and
defended to the death by men whose swords were their only charters of
right, have passed into other hands, and the names of the warlike
holders serve now only to give a grim charm to a Border ballad. An
extraordinary lesson may be read on the banks of the Liddel and the
Esk--there is a strange eloquence in the silence of these quiet dales.
Stand for a while among the graves of the chief of Gilnockie and his
fifty followers, in the lonely churchyard of Carlenrig--cast a
contemplative eye on the roofless tower of that brave riever, then
glance at the gorgeous policies of Bowhill, and resist, if you can, the
deep sigh that rises as a tribute to the memories of men who, having,
by their sleepless spirits, kept a kingdom in commotion, died on the
gallows, and left no generation to claim their lands from those who,
with less bravery and no better sense of right, had the subtle policy
to rise on their ruins. Poorly, indeed, now sound the names of Johnny
Armstrong, Sim of Whittram, Sim of the Cathill, Kinmont Willie, or
Christie's Will, besides those of Dukes of Buccleuch and Roxburgh,
Scott of Harden, and Elliot of Stobbs and Wells; and yet, without
wishing to take away the _merit_ or the _extent_ of their ancestors'
own "reif and felonie," how much do they owe to their succession to the
ill-got gear of those hardy Borderers whose names and scarcely credible
achievements are all that have escaped the rapacity that, not satisfied
with their lands, took also their lives! For smaller depredations, the
old laws of the Border--and it would not be fair to exclude those of the
present day, not confined to that locality--awarded a halter; for thefts
of a larger kind, they gave a title. Old Wat of Buccleuch deserved the
honour of "the neck garter" just as much as poor Johnny Armstrong; yet
all he got was a reproof and a dukedom.

    "Then up and spake the noble king--
       And an angry man, I trow, was he--
    'It ill becomes ye, bauld Bucclew,
       To talk o' reif or felonie;
     For, if every man had his ain cow,
       A right puir clan yer name would be.'"

There is a change now. The bones of the bold Armstrongs lie in
Carlenrig, and the descendants of their brother-rievers who got their
lands sit in high places, and speak words of legislative command. But
these things will be as they have ever been. We cannot change the world,
far less remake it; but we can resuscitate a part of its moral wonders;
and, while the property of Christie's Will, the last of the bold
Armstrongs, is now possessed by another family, under a written title,
we will do well to commit to record a part of his fame.

It is well known that the chief of the family of Armstrongs had his
residence[A] at Mangerton in Liddesdale. There is scarcely now any
trace of his tower, though time has not exerted so cruel a hand against
his brother Johnny Armstrong's residence, which lies in the Hollows near
Langholme. We know no tumult of the emotions of what may be called
antiquarian sentiment, so engrossing and curious as that produced by
the headless skeleton of "auld Gilnockie's Tower," as it is seen in the
grey gloaming, with a breeze brattling through its dry ribs, and a stray
owl sitting on the top, and sending his eldritch screigh through the
deserted hollows. The mind becomes busy on the instant with the former
scenes of festivity, when "their stolen gear," "baith nolt and sheep,"
and "flesh, and bread, and ale," as Maitland says, were eaten and drunk
with the _kitchen_ of a Cheviot hunger, and the sweetness of stolen
things; and when the wild spirit of the daring outlaws, with Johnny
at their head, made the old tower of the Armstrongs ring with their
wassail shouts. This Border turret came--after the execution of Johnny
Armstrong, and when the clan had become what was called a broken
clan--into the possession of William Armstrong, who figured in the times
of Charles I. He was called Christie's Will, though from what reason
does not now seem very clear; neither is it at all evident why, after
the execution of his forbear, Johnny, and his fifty followers, at
Carlenrig, the Tower of Gilnockie was not forfeited to the crown, and
taken from the rebellious clan altogether; but, to be sure it was in
those days more easy to take a man's life than his property, insomuch as
the former needed no guard, while the other would have required a small
standing army to keep it and the new proprietor together. Certain,
however, it is, that Christie's Will did get possession of the Tower of
Gilnockie, where, according to the practice of the family, he lived "on
Scottish ground and English kye;" and, when the latter could not easily
be had, on the poorer land of his neighbours of Scotland.

 [A] In a MS. we have seen, as old as the end of the 15th
 century, "the Laird of Mangerton" is placed at the head of the
 Liddesdale chiefs--Harden, Buccleuch, and others coming after him
 in respectful order.

This descendant of the Armstrongs was not unlike Johnny; and, indeed, it
has been observed that throughout the whole branches of the family there
was an extraordinary union of boldness and humour--two qualities which
have more connection than may, at first view, be apparent. Law-breakers,
among themselves, are seldom serious; a lightness of heart and a turn
for wit being necessary for the sustenance of their outlawed spirits, as
well as for a quaint justification--resorted to by all the tribe--of
their calling, against the laws of the land. In the possession of these
qualities, Will was not behind the most illustrious of his race; but he,
perhaps, excelled them all in the art of "_conveying_"--a polite term
then used for that change of ownership which the affected laws of the
time denominated _theft_. This art was not confined to cattle or
plenishing, though

    "They left not spindell, spoone, nor speit,
       Bed, boster, blanket, sark, nor sheet:
     John of the Park ryps kist and ark--
       To all sic wark he is sae meet."[B]

 [B] See Maitland's curious satire on the Border robberies.--ED.

It extended to abduction, and this was far seldomer exercised on damsels
than on men, who would be well ransomed, especially of those classes,
duke, earl, or baron, any of whom Johnny offered (for his life) to
bring, "within a certain day, to his Majesty James V., either quick
or dead." This latter part of their art was the highest to which the
Borderers aspired; and there never was a riever among them all that
excelled in it so much as Christie's Will. "To steal a stirk, or wear a
score o' sheep _hamewards_," he used to say, "was naething; but to steal
a _lord_ was the highest flicht o' a man's genius, and ought never to be
lippened to a hand less than an Armstrong's;" and, certainly, if the
success with which he executed one scheme of that high kind will
guarantee Will's boasted abilities, he did not transcend the truth in
limiting lord-stealing to the Armstrongs.

Will married a distant relation of the true Border breed, named Margaret
Elliot--a lass whose ideas of hussyskep were so peculiar, that she
thought Gilnockie and its laird were going to ruin when she saw in the
kail-pot a "heugh bane" of their _own_ cattle, a symptom of waste,
extravagance, and laziness, on the part of her husband, that boded less
good than the offer made by "the Laird's Jock," (Johnny Armstrong's
henchman,) to give "Dick o' the Cow" a piece of his own ox, which he
came to ask reparation for, and, not having got it, tied with St. Mary's
knot (hamstringed) thirty good horses. To this good housewife, in fact,
might be traced, if antiquaries would renounce for it less important
investigations, the old saying, that stolen joys (qu. queys?) are
sweetest, undoubtedly a Border aphorism, and now received into the
society of legitimate moral sayings. When lazy and not inclined for
"felonie," Will would not subscribe to the truth of the dictum, and
often got for grace to the dinner he had not taken from the English, and
yet relished, the wish of the good dame, that, for his want of spirit,
it might choke him. That effect, however, was more likely to be produced
by the beef got in the regular Border way; for the laws were beginning
now to be more vigorously executed, and many a riever was astonished and
offended by the proceedings of the Justice-Ayr at Jedburgh, where they
were actually going the length of _hanging_ for the crime of _conveying_
cattle from one property to another.

It was in vain that Will told his wife these proceedings of the Jedburgh
court; she knew very well that many of the Armstrongs, and the famous
Johnny among the rest, had been strung up, by the command of their king,
for rebellion against his authority; but it was out of all question,
beyond the reach of common sense, and, indeed, utterly barbarous and
unjust to hang a man, as Gilderoy's lover said, "for gear," a thing that
never yet was known to be stationary, but, even from the times of the
Old Testament, given to taking to itself wings and flying away. It was,
besides, against the oldest constitution of things, the old possessors
being the _Tories_, who acted upon the comely principle already alluded
to, that right was might--the new lairds, again, being the Whigs, who
wished to take from the Tories (the freebooters) the good old law of
nature and possession, and regulate property by the mere conceits of
men's brains. To some such purpose did Margaret argue against Will's
allusions to the doings at Jedburgh; but, secretly, Will cared no more
for the threat of a rope, than he did for the empty bravado of a
neighbour whom he had eased of a score of cattle. He merely brought
in the doings of the Justice-Ayr at Jedburgh, to screen his fits of
laziness; those states of the mind common to rievers, thieves, writers,
and poets, and generally all people who live upon their wits, which
at times incapacitate them for using sword or pen for their honest
livelihood. But all Margaret's arguments and Will's courage were on one
occasion overturned, by the riever's apprehension for stealing a cow,
belonging to a farmer at Stobbs, of the name of Grant. He was carried
to Jedburgh jail, and indicted to stand his trial before the Lord
Justice-General at the next circuit. There was a determination, on the
part of the crown authorities, to make an example of the most inveterate
riever of the time, and Will stood a very fair chance of being hanged.

The apprehension of Will Armstrong made a great noise throughout all
Liddesdale, producing, to the class of victims, joy, and to the class
of spoilers, great dismay; but none wondered more at the impertinence
and presumption of the government authorities in attempting thus to
dislocate the old Tory principle of "might makes right," than Margaret
Elliot; who, as she sat in her turret of Gilnockie, alternately wept and
cursed for the fate of her "winsome Will," and, no doubt, there was in
the projected condemnation and execution of a man six feet five inches
high, with a face like an Adonis, shoulders like a Milo, the speed of
Mercury, the boldness of a lion, and more than the generosity of that
noble animal, for the crime of stealing a stirk, something that was very
apt to rouse, even in those who loved him not so well as did Margaret,
feelings of sympathy for his fate, and indignation against his
oppressors. There was no keeping, as the artists say, in the picture, no
proper causality in a stolen cow, for the production of such an effect
as a hanged Phaon or strangled Hercules; and though we have used some
classic names to grace our idea, the very same thought, at least as good
a one, though perhaps not so gaudily clothed, occupied the mind of
Margaret Elliot. She sobbed and cried bitterly, till the Gilnockie
ravens and owls, kindred spirits, were terrified from the riever's
tower.

"What is this o't?" she exclaimed, in the midst of her tears. "Shall
Christie's Will, the bravest man o' the Borders, be hanged because a
cow, that kenned nae better, followed him frae Stobbs to the Hollows;
and shall it be said that Margaret Elliot was the death o' her braw
riever? I had meat enough in Gilnockie larder that day I scorned him wi'
his laziness, and forced him to do the deed that has brought him to
Jedburgh jail. But I'll awa to the warden, James Stewart o' Traquair,
and see if it be the king's high will that a man's life should be ta'en
for a cow's."

Making good her resolution, Margaret threw her plaid about her
shoulders, and hied her away to Traquair House, the same that still
stands on the margin of the Tweed, and raises its high white walls,
perforated by numerous Flemish-shaped windows, among the dark woods of
Traquair. When she came to the front of the house, and saw the two stone
figures stationed at the old gate, she paused and wondered at the
weakness and effeminacy of the Lord High Steward in endeavouring to
defend his castle by fearful representations of animals.

"My faith," muttered she to herself, as she approached to request
entrance, "the warden was right in no makin' choice o' the figure o' a
_quey_ to defend his castle." And she could scarcely resist a chuckle in
the midst of her tears, at her reference to the cause of her visit.

"Is my Lord Steward at hame?" said she to the servant who answered her
call.

"Yes," answered the man; "who is it that wishes to see him?"

"The mistress o' Gilnockie," rejoined Margaret, "has come to seek a guid
word for Christie's Will, who now lies in Jedburgh jail for stealing a
tether, and I fear may hang for't."

The servant heard this extraordinary message as servants who presume to
judge of the sense of their messages ever do, with critical attention,
and, after serious consideration, declared that he could not deliver
such a message to his lord.

"I dinna want ye to deliver my message, man," said Margaret. "I merely
wished to be polite to ye, and show ye a little attention. God be
thankit, the mistress o' Gilnockie can deliver her ain errand."

And, pushing the waiting man aside by a sudden jerk of her brawnie arm,
she proceeded calmly forward to a door, which she intended to open; but
the servant was at her heels, and, laying hold of her plaid, was in the
act of hauling her back, when the Warden himself came out, and asked the
cause of the affray.

"Is the house yours, my Lord, or this man's?" said Margaret. "Take
my advice, my Lord," (whispering in his ear,) "turn him aff--he's a
traitor; would you believe it, my Lord, that, though placed there for
the purpose o' lettin' folk into yer Lordship, he actually--ay, as sure
as death--tried to keep me oot! Can ye deny it, sir? Look i' my face,
and deny it if ye daur!"

The man smiled, and his Lordship laughed; and Margaret wondered at the
easy good-nature of a Lord in forgiving such a heinous offence on the
part of a servitor.

"If ye're as kind to me as ye are to that rebel," continued Margaret, as
she followed his Lordship into his sitting chamber, "Christie's Will
winna hang yet."

"What mean you, good woman?" said the Warden. "What is it that you
want?"

"As if your Lordship didna ken," answered Margaret, with a knowing look.
"Is it likely that a Liddesdale woman frae the Hollows, should ca' upon
the great Warden for aught short o' the life and safety o' the man wha's
in Jedburgh jail?" (Another Scotch wink.)

"I am still at a loss, good woman," said the Warden.

"At a loss!" rejoined Margaret. "What! doesna a' the Forest,[C] and
Teviotdale and Tweeddale to boot, ken that Christie's Will is in
Jedburgh jail?"

 [C] Selkirkshire.

"I know, I know, good dame," replied the Warden, "that that brave riever
is in prison; but I thought his crime was the stealing of a cow, and not
a tether, as I heard you say to my servant."

"Weel, weel--the cow may have been at the end o' the tether," replied
Margaret.

"She is a wise woman who concealeth the _extremity_ of her husband's
crime," replied Lord Traquair, with a smile, "But what wouldst thou have
me to do?"

"Just to save Christie's Will frae the gallows, my Lord," answered
Margaret. And, going up close to his Lordship, and whispering in his
ear--"And sometimes a Lord needs a lift as weel as ither folk. If
there's nae buck on Traquair when your Lordship has company at the
castle, you hae only to gie Christie's Will a nod, and there will be
nae want o' venison here for a month. There's no a stouthriever in a'
Liddesdale, be he baron or bondsman, knight or knave, but Christie's
Will will bring to you at your Lordship's bidding, and a week's biding;
and if there's ony want o' a braw leddie," (speaking low,) "to keep the
bonny house o' Traquair in order, an' she canna be got for a carlin
keeper, a wink to Christie's Will will bring her here, unscathed by sun
or wind, in suner time than a priest could tie the knot, or a lawyer
loose it. Is sic a man a meet burden for a fir wuddy, my Lord?"

"By my faith, your husband hath good properties about him," replied
Traquair. "There is not one in these parts that knoweth not Christie's
Will; but I fear it is to that fame he oweth his danger. He is the last
of the old Armstrongs; and there is a saying hereaway, that

    'Comes Liddesdale's peace
     When Armstrongs cease;'

and since, good dame, it would ill become the King's Warden to let slip
the noose that is to catch peace and order for our march territories,
yet Will is too noble a fellow for hanging. Go thy ways. I'll see
him--I'll see him."

"Hech na, my Lord," answered Margaret; "I'll no budge frae this house
till ye say ye'll save him this ance. I'll be caution and surety for
him mysel', that he'll never again dine in Gilnockie on another man's
surloins. His clan has been lang a broken ane; but I am now the head
o't, and it has aye been the practice in our country to make the head
answer for the rest o' the body."

"Well, that is the practice of the hangman at Jedburgh," replied
Traquair, laughing. "But go thy ways. Will shall not hang yet. He hath
a job to do for me. There's a 'lurdon'[D] of the north he must steal for
me. I'll take thy bond."

 [D] It has been attempted to derive this word from "Lord,"
 (paper lord); but we have no faith in the etymology; it was, however,
 often applied to the wigged and gowned judges, as being, in their
 appearance, more like women than men--for "lurdon," though applied
 to a male, is generally used for a lazy woman.--ED.

"Gie me your hand then, my Lord," said the determined dame; "and the
richest lurdon o' the land he'll bring to your Lordship, as surely as
he ever took a Cumberland cow--whilk, as your Lordship kens, is nae
rieving."

Traquair gave the good dame his hand, and she departed, wondering, as
she went, what the Lord Warden was to do with a stolen lurdon. A young
damsel might have been a fair prize for the handsome baron; but an "auld
wife," as she muttered to herself, was the most extraordinary object of
rieving she had ever heard of, amidst all the varieties of a Borderer's
prey. Next day Traquair mounted his horse, and--

    "Traquair has riden up Chaplehope,
       An' sae has he doun by the Grey-Mare's-Tail;
     He never stinted the light gallop,
       Until he speered for Christie's Will."

Having arrived at Jedburgh, he repaired direct to the jail, where
Margaret had been before him, to inform her husband that the great Lord
Warden was to visit him, and get him released; but upon the condition of
stealing away a lurdon in the north--a performance, the singularity of
which was much greater than the apparent difficulty, unless, indeed, as
Will said, she was a bedridden lurdon, in which case, it would be no
easy matter to get her conveyed, as horses were the only carriers of
stolen goods in those days. But the wonder why Traquair should wish to
steal away an old woman had perplexed the wits of Will and his wife to
such an extent, that they had recourse to the most extraordinary
hypotheses; supposing at one time that she was some coy heiress of
seventy summers, who had determined to be carried off after the form of
young damsels in the times of chivalry; at another, that she was the
parent of some lord, who could only be brought to concede something to
the Warden by the force of the impledgment of his mother; and, again,
that she was the duenna of an heiress, who could only be got through the
confinement of the old hag. Be who she might, however, Christie's Will
declared, upon the faith of the long shablas of Johnny Armstrong, that
he would carry her off through fire and water, as sure as ever Kinmont
Willie was carried away by old Wat of Buccleuch from the Castle of
Carlisle.

    "Oh, was it war-wolf in the wood,
       Or was it mermaid in the sea,
     Or was it maid or lurdon auld,
       He'd carry an' bring her bodilie."

Such was the heroic determination to which Christie's Will had come,
when the jailor came and whispered in his ear, that the Lord Warden was
in the passage on the way to see him. Starting to his feet, the riever
was prepared to meet the baron, of whom he generally stood in so much
awe in his old tower of Gilnockie, but who came to him now on a visit
of peace.

"Thou'lt hang, Will, this time," said the Warden, with an affectation of
gruffness, as he stepped forward. "It is not in the power of man to save
ye!"

"Begging yer Lordship's pardon," replied Will, "I believe it, however,
to be in the power o' a woman. The auld lurdon will be in Gilnockie
tower at yer Lordship's ain time."

"And who is the 'auld lurdon?'" replied the Warden, trying to repress a
laugh, which forced its way in spite of his efforts.

"Margaret couldna tell me that," said Will; "but many a speculation we
had on the question yer Lordship has now put to me. 'Wha can she be?'
said Peggy; and 'Wha can she be?' replied I; but it's for yer Lordship
to say wha she _is_, and for me to steal the auld limmer awa, as sure as
ever I _conveyed_ an auld milker frae the land o' the Nevills. I'm nae
sooner free than she's a prisoner."

The familiarity with which Will spoke of the female personage thus
destined to durance vile, produced another laugh on the part of the
Warden, not altogether consistent, as Will thought, with the serious
nature of the subject in hand.

"Where is she, my Lord?" continued Will; "in what fortress?--wha is her
keeper?--whar will I tak her, and how long retain her a prisoner?"

"I fear, Will, she is beyond the power o' mortal," said his Lordship, in
a serious voice; "but on condition of thy making a fair trial, I will
make intercession for thy life, and take the chance of thy success. Much
hangeth by the enterprise--ay, even all my barony of Coberston dependeth
upon that 'lurdon' being retained three months in a quiet corner of
Græme's Tower. Thou knowest the place?"

"Ay, weel, weel," replied Will, who began to see the great importance of
the enterprise, while his curiosity to know who the object was had
considerably increased. "That tower has its 'redcap sly.' E'en Lord
Soulis' Hermitage is no better guarded. Ance there, and awa wi' care,
as we say o' Gilnockie as a rendezvous for _strayed_ steers. But who is
she, my Lord?"

"Thou hast thyself said she is a woman," replied the Warden, smiling,
"and I correct thee not. Hast thou ever heard, Will, of fifteen old
women--'lurdons,' as the good people call them--that reside in a large
house in the Parliament close of Edinburgh?"

"Brawly, brawly," answered Will, with a particular leer of fun and
intelligence; "and weel may I ken the limmers--real lurdons, wi' lang
gowns and curches. Ken them! Wha that has a character to lose, or a
property to keep against the claims o' auld parchment, doesna ken thae
fifteen auld runts? They keep the hail country side in a steer wi' their
scandal. Nae man's character is safe in their keeping; and they're sae
fu' o' mischief that they hae even blawn into the king's lug that my
tower o' Gilnockie was escheat to the king by the death o' my ancestor,
who was hanged at Carlenrig. They say a' the mischief that has come on
the Borders sin' the guid auld times, has its beginning in that coterie
o' weazened gimmers. Dootless, they're at the root o' the danger o' yer
bonny barony o' Coberston. By the rood! I wish I had a dash at their big
curches."

"Ay, Will," responded Traquair; "but they're securely lodged in their
strong Parliament House, and the difficulty is how to get at them."

"But I fancy ane o' the lurdons will satisfy yer Lordship," said Will,
"or do ye want them a' lodged in Græme's Tower? They would mak a bonny
nest o' screighing hoolets, if we had them safely under the care o'
the sly redcap o' that auld keep: they wad hatch something else than
scandal, and leasin-makin, and reports o' the instability o' Border
rights, the auld jauds."

"I will be content with one of them," rejoined the Warden.

"Ha! ha! I see, I see," replied Will. "Ane o' the limmers has been
sapping and undermining Coberston wi' her hellish scandal. What's the
lurdon's name, my Lord?"

"Gibson of Durie," rejoined Traquair.

"Ah! a weel-kenned scandalous runt that," replied Will. "She's the
auldest o' the hail fifteen, if I'm no cheated--Leddie President o' the
coterie. She spak sair against me when the King's advocate claimed for
his Majesty my auld turret o' Gilnockie. I owe that quean an auld score.
How lang do you want her lodged in Græme's Tower?"

"Three months would maybe change her tongue," replied the Warden;
"but the enterprise seems desperate, Will."

"Desperate! my Lord," replied the other--"that word's no kenned on the
Borders. Is it the doing o't, or the dool for the doing o't, that has
the desperation in't?"

"The consequences to you would be great, Will," said Traquair. "You are
confined here for stealing a cow, and would be hanged for it if I did
not save ye. Our laws are equal and humane. For stealing a cow one may
be hanged; but there's no such law against stealing a paper-lord."

"That shows the guid sense o' our lawgivers," replied Will, with a leer
on his face. "The legislator has wisely weighed the merits o' the twa
craturs; yet, were it no for your case, my Lord, I could wish the law
reversed. I wad be in nae hurry stealing ane o' thae cummers, at least
for my ain use; and, as for Peggy, she would rather see a cow at
Gilnockie ony day."

"Weel, Will," said his Lordship, "I do not ask thee to steal for me old
Leddie Gibson. I dare not. You understand me; but I am to save your
life; and I tell thee that, if that big-wigged personage be not, within
ten days, safely lodged in Græme's Tower, my lands of Coberston will
find a new proprietor, and your benefactor will be made a lordly
beggar."

"Fear not, my Lord," replied Will. "I'm nae suner out than she's in.
She'll no say a word against Coberston for the next three months, I
warrant ye. But, by my faith, it's as teuch a job as boilin' auld Soulis
in the cauldron at the Skelfhill; and I hae nae black spae-book like
Thomas to help my spell. Yet, after a', my Lord, what spell is like the
wit o' man, when he has courage to act up to 't!"

The Warden acknowledged the truth of Will's heroic sentiment; and,
having satisfied himself that the bold riever would perform his promise,
he departed, and in two days afterwards the prisoner was liberated, and
on his way to his residence at the Hollows. It was apparent, from Will's
part of the dialogue, that he had some knowledge of the object the Lord
Warden had in view in carrying off a Lord of Session from the middle of
the capital; yet it is doubtful if he troubled himself with more than
the fact of its being the wish of his benefactor that the learned judge
should be for a time confined in Græme's Tower; and, conforming to a
private hint of his Lordship before he departed from the jail, he kept
up in his wife Margaret's mind the delusion that it was truly "an auld
lurdon" whom he was to steal, as a condition for getting out of prison.
On the morning after his arrival at Gilnockie, Will held a consultation
with two tried friends, whose assistance he required in this most
extraordinary of all the rieving expeditions he had ever yet been
engaged in; and the result of their long sederunt was, that, within two
hours after, the three were mounted on as many prancing Galloways, and
with a fourth led by a bridle, and carrying their provisions, a large
cloak, and some other articles. They took the least frequented road to
the metropolis of Scotland. Having arrived there, they put up their
horses at a small hostelry in the Grassmarket; and, next day, Will,
leaving his friends at the inn, repaired to that seat of the law and
learning of Scotland, where the "hail fifteen" sat in grim array,
munching, with their toothless jaws, the thousand scraps of Latin
law-maxims (borrowed from the Roman and feudal systems) which then
ruled the principles of judicial proceedings in Scotland.

Planting himself in one of the litigants' benches--a line of seats in
front of the semicircle where the fifteen Lords sat--the Liddesdale
riever took a careful survey of all the wonders of that old laboratory
of law. The first objects that attracted his attention, were, of course,
the imposing semicircular line of judges, no fewer than fifteen (almost
sufficient for a small standing army for puny Scotland in those days),
who, wigged and robed, sat and nodded and grinned, and munched their
chops in each other's faces, with a most extraordinary regularity of
mummery, which yielded great amusement to the stalworth riever of the
Borders. Their appearance in the long gowns, with sleeves down to the
hands, wigs whose lappets fell on their breasts, displaying many a line
of crucified curl, and white cambric cravats falling from below their
gaucy double-chins on their bosoms, suggested at once the appellation of
lurdons, often applied to them in those days, and now vivid in the fancy
of the staring Borderer, whose wild and lawless life was so strangely
contrasted with that of the drowsy, effeminate-looking individuals who
sat before him. He understood very little of their movements, which had
all the regularity and ceremony of a raree-show. One individual (the
macer) cried out, at intervals, with a cracked voice, some words he
could not understand; but the moment the sound had rung through the
raftered hall, another species of wigged and robed individuals
(advocates) came forward, and spoke a strange mixture of English and
Latin, which Will could not follow; and, when they had finished, the
whole fifteen looked at each other, and then began, one after another,
but often two or three at a time, to speak, and nod, and shake their
wigs, as if they had been set agoing by some winding-up process on the
part of the advocates. Not one word of all this did Will understand;
and, indeed, he cared nothing for such mummery, but ever and anon fixed
his keen eye on the face of the middle senator, with an expression that
certainly never could have conveyed the intelligence that that rough
country-looking individual meditated such a thing as an abduction of the
huge incorporation of law that sat there in so much state and solidity.

"Ha! ha! my old lass," said Will to himself; "ye little ken that the
Laird o' Gilnockie, whom ye tried to deprive of his birthright, sits
afore ye; and will a' the lear 'neath that big wig tell ye that that
same Laird o' Gilnockie sits here contriving a plan to run awa wi' ye?
Faith, an' it's a bauld project; but the baulder the bonnier, as we say
in Liddesdale. I only wish I could tak her wig and gown wi' her--for, if
the lurdon were seen looking out o' Græme's Tower, wi' that lang lappet
head-gear, there would be nae need o' watch or ward to keep her there."

Will had scarcely finished his monologue, when he heard the macer cry
out, "Maxwell against Lord Traquair;" then came forward the advocates,
and shook their wigs over the bar, and at length old Durie, the
President, said, in words that did not escape Will's vigilant ear--

"This case, I believe, involves the right to the large barony of
Coberston. Seven of my brethren, you are aware, have given their
opinions in favour of the defendant, Lord Traquair, and seven have
declared for the pursuer, Maxwell. My casting vote must, therefore,
decide the case, and I have been very anxious to bring my mind to a
conclusion on the subject, with as little delay as possible; but there
are difficulties which I have not yet been able to surmount."

"Ay, and there's a new ane here, sittin' afore ye," muttered Will,
"maybe the warst o' them a'."

"I still require some new lights," continued the judge. "I have already,
as the case proceeded, partially announced an opinion against Lord
Traquair; but I wish confirmation before I pronounce a judgment that is
to have the effect of turning one out of possession of a large barony.
I am sorry that my learned friends at the bar have not been able to
relieve me of my scruples."

"Stupid fules," muttered Will; "but I'll relieve ye, my Lord Durie.
It'll ne'er be said that a Lord o' Session stood in need o' relief, and
a Border riever in the court, wha has a hundred times made the doubtin'
stirk tak ae road (maybe Gilnockie-ways) in preference to anither."

The Traquair case being the last called that day, the court broke up,
and the judges, followed still by the eye of Christie's Will, retired
into the robing-room to take off their wigs and gowns. The Borderer now
inquired, in a very simple manner, at a macer, at what door the judges
came out of the court, as he was a countryman, and was curious to see
their Lordships dressed in their usual every-day clothes. The request
was complied with; and Will, as a stupid gazing man from the Highlands,
who wished to get an inane curiosity gratified by what had nothing
curious in it, was placed in a convenient place to see the Solomons pass
forth on their way to their respective dwellings. They soon came; and
Will's lynx eye caught, in a moment, the face of the President, whom,
to his great satisfaction, he now found to be a thin, spare, portable
individual, and very far from the unwieldy personage which his judge's
dress made him appear to be when sitting on the bench--a reversing of
the riever's thoughts, in reference to the spareness and fatness of his
object of seizure, that brought a twinkle to his eye in spite of the
serious task in which he was engaged. Forth went the President with
great dignity, and Christie's Will behind him, dogging him with the
keen scent of a sleuth-hound. To his house in the Canongate he slowly
bent his steps, ruminating as he went, in all likelihood, upon the
difficulties of the Traquair case, from which his followers were so
anxious to relieve him. Will saw him ascend the steps and enter, and
his next object was to ascertain at what time he took his walk, and to
what quarter of the suburbs he generally resorted; but on this point he
could not get much satisfaction, the good judge being in his motions
somewhat irregular, though (as Will learned) seldom a day passed without
his having recourse to the country in some direction or other. Will,
therefore, set a watch upon the house. Another of his friends held the
horses at the foot of Leith Wynd, while he himself paced between the
watchman and the top of the passage, so that he might have both ends of
the line always in his eye. A concerted whistle was to regulate their
movements.

The first day passed without a single glimpse being had of the grave
senator, who was probably occupied in the consultation of legal
authorities, little conscious of the care that was taken about his
precious person by so important an individual as the far-famed
Christie's Will of Gilnockie. On the second day, about three of the
afternoon, and two hours after he had left the Parliament House, a
whistle from Will's friend indicated that the grave judge was on the
steps of his stair. Will recognised him in an instant, and, despatching
his friend to him who held the horses at the foot of the Wynd, with
instructions to keep behind him at a distance, he began to follow his
victim slowly, and soon saw with delight that he was wending his
senatorial steps down towards Leith. The unconscious judge seemed
drowned in study: his eyes were fixed on the ground; his hands placed
behind his back; and, ever and anon, he twirled a gold-headed cane that
hung suspended by a silken string from one of his fingers. Will was
certain that he was meditating the fall of Coberston, and the ruin of
his benefactor, Traquair; and, as the thought rose in his mind, the fire
of his eye burned brighter, and his resolution mounted higher and
higher, till he could even have seized his prey in Leith lane, and
carried him off amidst the cries of the populace. But his opportunity
was coming quicker than he supposed. To enable him to get deeper and
deeper into his brown study, Durie was clearly bent upon avoiding the
common road where passengers put to flight his ideas; and, turning to
the right, went up a narrow lane, and continued to saunter on till he
came to that place commonly known by the name of the Figgate Whins. In
that sequestered place, where scarcely an individual was seen to pass in
an hour, the deep thinking of the cogitative senator might trench the
soil of the law of prescription, turn up the principle which regulated
tailzies under the second part of the act 1617, and bury Traquair's
right to Coberston. No sound but the flutter of a bird, or the moan of
the breaking waves of the Frith of Forth, could there interfere with his
train of thought. Away he sauntered, ever turning his gold-headed cane,
and driving his head farther and farther into the deep hole where, like
the ancient philosopher, he expected to find truth. Sometimes he struck
his foot against a stone, and started and looked up, as if awakened from
a dream; but he was too intent on his study to take the pains to make a
complete turn of his wise head, to see if there was any one behind him.
During all this time, a regular course of signals was in progress among
Will and his friends who were coming up behind him, the horses being
kept far back, in case the sound of their hoofs might reach the ear of
the day-dreamer. He had now reached the most retired and lonely part of
the common, where, at that time, there stood a small clump of trees at
a little distance from the whin-road that gave the place its singular
name. His study still continued, for his head was still bent, and he
looked neither to the right nor to the left. In a single instant, he was
muffled up in a large cloak, a hood thrown over his face, and his hands
firmly bound by a cord. The operation was that of a moment--finished
before the prisoner's astonishment had left him power to open his mouth.
A whistle brought up the horses; he was placed on one of them with the
same rapidity; a cord was passed round his loins and bound to the
saddle; and, in a few minutes, the party was in rapid motion to get to
the back part of the city.[E]

 [E] This famous abduction was reported by Lord Fountainhall.
 Every circumstance is literally true.--ED.

During all this extraordinary operation, not a single word passed
between the three rievers, to whom the proceeding was, in a great
degree, perfectly familiar. Through the folds of the hood of the
cloak in which the President's head was much more snugly lodged than
it ever was in his senatorial wig, he contrived to send forth some
muffled sounds, indicating, not unnaturally, a wish to know what was
the meaning and object of so extraordinary a manoeuvre. At that time,
be it understood, the belief in the power of witches was general, and
Durie himself had been accessary to the condemnation of many a wise
woman who was committed to the flames; but though he had, to a great
extent, emancipated his strong mind from the thraldom of the prevailing
prejudice, the mode in which he was now seized--in broad day, in the
midst of a legal study, without seeing a single individual (his head
being covered first), and without hearing the sound of man's
voice--would have been sufficient to bring him back to the general
belief, and force the conviction that he was now in the hands of the
agents of the Devil. It is, indeed, a fact (afterwards ascertained),
that the learned judge did actually conceive that he was now in the
power of those he had helped to persecute; and his fears--bringing up
before him the burning tar-barrels, the paid prickers, the roaring
crowds, and the expiring victim--completed the delusion, and bound
up his energies, till he was speechless and motionless. There was,
therefore, no cause of apprehension from the terror-struck prisoner
himself; and, as the party scoured along, they told every inquiring
passenger on the way (for they were obliged, in some places, to ask the
road) that they were carrying an auld lurdon to Dumfries, to be burnt
for exercising the power of her art on the innocent inhabitants of that
district. It was, therefore, no uncommon thing for Durie to hear himself
saluted by all the appellations generally applied to the poor persecuted
class to which he was supposed to belong.

"Ay, awa wi' the auld limmer," cried one, "and see that the barrels are
fresh frae Norraway, and weel-lined wi' the bleezing tar."

"Be sure and prick her weel," cried another; "the foul witch may be
fireproof. If she winna burn, boil her like Meg Davy at Smithfield, or
Shirra Melville on the hill o' Garvock."

These cries coming on the ear of the astonished judge, did not
altogether agree with his preconceived notions of being committed to the
power of the Evil One; but they tended still farther to confuse him, and
he even fancied at times that the vengeance of the populace, which thus
rung in his ears, was in the act of being realized, and that he was
actually to suffer the punishment he had so often awarded to others.
Some expressions wrung from him by his fear, and overheard by the quick
ear of Will, gave the latter a clue to the workings of his mind, and he
did not fail to see how he might take advantage of it. As night began to
fall, they had got far on their way towards Moffat, and, consequently,
far out of danger of a pursuit and a rescue. Durie's horse was pricked
forward at a speed not inconsistent with his power of keeping the
saddle. They stopped at no baiting place, but kept pushing forward,
while the silence was still maintained, or, if it ever was broken, it
was to introduce, by interlocutory snatches of conversation, some
reference to the doom which awaited the unhappy judge. The darkness in
which he was muffled, the speed of his journey, the sounds and menaces
that had met his ear, all co-operating with the original sensations
produced by his mysterious seizure, continued to keep alive the terrors
he at first felt, to over-turn all the ordinary ideas and feelings of
the living world, and to sink him deeper and deeper in the confusion
that had overtaken his mind in the midst of his legal reverie at the
Figgate Whins.

The cavalcade kept its course all next day, and, towards the evening,
they approached Græme's Tower, a dark, melancholy-looking erection,
situated on Dryfe Water, not very distant from the village of Moffat. In
a deep cell of this old castle the President of the Court of Session was
safely lodged, with no more light than was supplied by a small grating,
and with a small supply of meat, only sufficient to allay at first the
pangs of hunger. Will having thus executed his commission, sat down and
wrote on a scrap of paper these expressive words--"The brock's in the
pock!" and sent it with one of his friends to Traquair House. The moment
the Earl read the scrawl, he knew that Will had performed his promise,
and took a hearty laugh at the extraordinary scheme he had resorted to
for gaining his plea. It was not yet, however, his time to commence
his proceedings; but, in a short while after the imprisonment of the
President, he set off for Edinburgh, which town he found in a state of
wonder and ferment at the mysterious disappearance of the illustrious
Durie. Every individual he met had something to say on the subject; but
the prevailing opinion was, that the unhappy President had ventured
upon that part of the sands near Leith where the incoming tide usually
encloses, with great rapidity, large sand-banks, and often overwhelms
helpless strangers who are unacquainted with the manner in which the
tide there flows. Numbers of people had exerted themselves in searching
all the surrounding parts, and some had traversed the whole coast from
Musselburgh to Cramond, in the expectation of finding the body upon the
sea-shore. But all was in vain: no President was found; and a month of
vain search and expectation having passed, the original opinion settled
down into a conviction that he had been drowned. His wife, Lady Durie,
after the first emotions of intense grief, went, with her whole family,
into mourning; and young and old lamented the fate of one of the most
learned judges and best men that ever sat on the judgment-seat of
Scotland.

There was nothing now to prevent Traquair from reaping the fruits of his
enterprise. He pressed hard for a judgment in his case; and pled that
the fourteen judges having been equally divided, he was entitled to a
decision in his favour as _defender_. This plea was not at that time
sustained; but a new president having been appointed, who was favourable
to his side of the question, the case was again to be brought before the
court, and the Earl expected to carry his point, and reap all the
benefit of Will's courage and ingenuity.

Meantime, the dead-alive President was closely confined in the old tower
of Græme, and had never recovered from the feelings of superstition
which held the sovereign power of his mind at the time of his
confinement. He never saw the face of man, his food being handed into
him by an unseen hand, through a small hole at the foot of the door. The
small grating was not situated so as to yield him any prospect; and the
only sounds that greeted his ears were the calls of the shepherds who
tended their sheep in the neighbouring moor. Sometimes he heard men's
voices calling out "Batty!" and anon a female crying "Maudge!" The
former was the name of a shepherd's dog, and the latter was the name
of the cat belonging to an old woman who occupied a small cottage
adjoining to the tower. Both the names sounded strangely and ominously
in the ears of the President, and sorely did he tax his wits as to what
they implied. Every day he heard them, and every time he heard them he
meditated more and more as to the species of beings they denominated.
Still remaining in the belief that he was in the hands of evil powers,
he imagined that these strange names, Batty and Maudge, were the earthly
titles of the two demons that held the important authority of watching
and tormenting the President of the Court of Session. He had heard these
often, and suffered so much from their cruel tyranny, that he became
nervous when the ominous sounds struck on his ear, and often (as he
himself subsequently admitted) he adjured heaven, in his prayers, to
take away Maudge and Batty, and torment him no longer by their infernal
agency. "Relieve me, relieve me, from these conjunct and confident
spirits, cruel Maudge and inexorable Batty," (he prayed,) "and any
other punishment due to my crimes I will willingly bear." Exorcisms
in abundance he applied to them, and used many fanciful tricks of
demon-expelling agency to free him from their tyranny; but all to no
purpose. The names still struck his ear in the silence of his cell,
and kept alive the superstitious terror with which he was enslaved.

Traquair, meanwhile, pushed hard for a decision, and, at last, after a
period of about three months, the famous cause was brought before the
court, and the successor of the dead-alive President having given his
vote for the defender, the wily Warden carried his point, and secured to
him and his heirs, in time coming, the fine barony in dispute, which,
for aught we know to the contrary, is in the family to this day.

It now remained for the actors in this strange drama to let free the
unhappy Durie, and relieve him from the power of his enemies. The
Warden accordingly despatched a messenger to Christie's Will, with the
laconic and emphatic demand--"Let the brock out o' the pock"--a return
of Will's own humorous message, which he well understood. Will and his
associates accordingly went about the important deliverance in a manner
worthy of the dexterity by which the imprisonment had been effected.
Having opened the door of his cell, they muffled him up in the same
black cloak in which he was enveloped at the Figgate Whins, and leading
him to the door, placed him on the back of a swift steed, while they
mounted others, with a view to accompany him. Setting off at a swift
pace, they made a circuit of the tower in which he had been confined,
and continuing the same circuitous route round and round the castle for
a period of two or three hours, they stopped at the very door of his
cell from which they had started. They then set him down upon the
ground, and again mounting their horses, took to their heels, and never
halted till they arrived at Gilnockie.

On being left alone, Durie proceeded to undo the cords by which the
cloak was fastened about his head; and, for the first time after three
months, breathed the fresh air and saw the light of heaven. He had
ridden, according to his own calculation, about twenty miles; and,
looking round him, he saw alongside of him the tower of Græme, an old
castle he had seen many years before, and recollected as being famous
in antiquarian reminiscence. The place he had been confined in must
have been some castle twenty miles distant from Græme's Tower--a
circumstance that would lead him, he thought, to discover the place
of his confinement, though he was free to confess that he was utterly
ignorant of the direction in which he had travelled. Thankful for his
deliverance, he fell on his knees, and poured out a long prayer of
gratitude for being thus freed from his enemies, Batty and Maudge. The
distance he had travelled must have taken him far away from the regions
of their influence--the most grateful of all the thoughts that now rose
in his wondering mind. No more would these hated names strike his ear
with terror and dismay, and no more would he feel the tyranny of their
demoniac sway. As these thoughts were passing through his mind a sound
struck his ear.

"Hey, Batty, lad!--far yaud, far yaud!" cried a voice by his side.

"God have mercy on me! here again," ejaculated the president.

"Maudge, ye jaud!" cried another voice, from the door of a poor woman's
cottage.

The terrified president lifted his eyes, and saw a goodly shepherd, with
a long staff in his hand, crying to his dog, Batty, to drive his sheep
to a distance; and, a little beyond, a poor woman sat at her door,
looking for her black cat, that sat on the roof of the cottage, and
would not come down for all the energies of her squeaking voice.

"What could all this mean?" now ejaculated Durie. "Have I not been for
three months tortured with these sounds, which I attributed to evil
spirits? I have ridden from them twenty miles, and here they are again,
in the form of fair honest denominations of living animals. I am in
greater perplexity than ever. While I thought them evil spirits, I
feared them as such; but now, God help me, they have taken on the forms
of a dog and cat, and this shepherd and this old woman are kindred
devils, under whose command they are. What shall I do, whither run to
avoid them, since twenty miles have been to them as a flight in the
air?"

"It's a braw morning, sir," said the shepherd. "How far hae ye come this
past night?--for I ken nae habitation near whar ye may hae rested."

"It's seldom we see strangers hereawa," said the old woman, "at this
early hour--will ye come in, sir, and rest ye?"

Durie looked first at the one and then at the other, bewildered and
speechless. The fair face of nature before him, with the forms of God's
creatures, and the sounds of human voices in his ears, were as nothing
to recollections and sensations which he could not shake from his mind.
He had, for certain, heard these dreadful sounds for three months; he
had ridden twenty miles, and now he heard them again, mixed up with the
delusive accompaniments of the enticing speeches of a man and a woman.
He would fly, but felt himself unable; and, standing under the influence
of the charm of his own terrors, he continued to look, first at the
shepherd and then at the old woman, in wonder and dismay. The people
knew as little what to think of him as he did in regard to them. He
looked wild and haggard, his eyes rolled about in his head, his voice
was mute; and the cloak, which he had partially unloosed from his head,
hung in strange guise down his back, and flapped in the wind. The old
castle had its "red cap," a fact known to both the shepherd and the old
woman, who had latterly heard strange sounds coming from it. Might not
Durie be the spirit in another form? The question was reasonable, and
was well answered by the wildly-staring president, who was still under
the spell of his terrors.

"Avaunt ye!--avaunt! in the name o' the haly rude o' St. Andrews!" cried
the woman, now roused to a state of terror.

The same words were repeated by the simple-minded shepherd, and poor
Durie's fears were, if possible, increased; for it seemed that they
were now performing some new incantation, whereby he would be again
reduced to their power; but he was now in the open air, and why not
take advantage of the opportunity of escaping from their thraldom? The
moment the idea started in his mind, he threw from him the accursed cloak,
and flew away over the moor as fast as his decayed limbs, inspired by
terror, would carry him. As he ran, he heard the old woman clapping her
hands, and crying "Shoo, shoo!" as if she had been exorcising a winged
demon. After running till he was fairly out of the sights and sounds
that had produced in him so much terror, he sat down, and took a
retrospect of what had occurred to him during the preceding three
months; but he could come to no conclusion that could reconcile all the
strange things he had experienced with any supposition based on natural
powers. It was certain, however, that he was still upon the earth, and
it was probable he was now beyond the power of his evil genius. His best
plan, therefore, under all the circumstances, was to seek home, and
Lady Durie and his loving family, who would doubtless be in a terrible
condition on account of his long absence; and even this idea, pleasant
as it was, was qualified by the fear that he might, for aught he knew,
have been away, like the laird of Comrie, for many, perhaps a hundred
years, and neither Lady Durie, nor friend or acquaintance, would be
alive to greet him on his return. Of all this, however, he must now
take his chance; and, rising and journeying forward, he came to a
house, where he asked for some refreshment by way of charity; for he
had nothing in the world to pay for what he required. He was fortunate
in getting some relief from the kind woman to whom he had applied, and
proceeded to speak to her on various topics with great sense and
propriety, as became the ex-President of the Court of Session; but when,
to satisfy his scruples, he asked her the day of the month, then the
month of the year, and then the year of the Lord, the good woman was
satisfied he was mad; and, with a look of pity, recommended him to
proceed on his way, and get home as fast as he could.

So on the president went, begging his way from hamlet to hamlet, getting
alms from one and news from another, but never gratified with the year
of the Lord in which he lived; for, when he put that question, he was
uniformly pitied, and allowed to proceed on his way for a madman. He
heard, however, several times that President Durie had been drowned in
the Frith of Forth, and that a new President of the Court of Session had
been appointed in his place. Whether his wife was married again or not,
he could not learn, and was obliged to wrestle with this and other fears
as he still continued his way to the metropolis. At last Edinburgh came
in view, and glad was he to see again the cat's head of old St.
Arthur's, and the diadem of St. Giles rearing their heights in the
distance. Nearer and nearer he approached the place of his home,
happiness, and dignity; but, as he came nearer still, he began to feel
all the effects of his supposed demise. Several of his old acquaintances
stared wildly at him as they passed, and, though he beckoned to them to
stand and speak, they hurried on, and seemed either not to recognise
him, or to be terrified at him. At last he met Lord F----, the judge who
had sat for many years next to him on the bench; and, running up to him,
he held out his hand in kindly salutation, grinning, with his long thin
jaws and pallid cheeks, a greeting which he scarcely understood himself.
By this time it was about the gloaming, and such was the extraordinary
effect produced by his sudden appearance and changed cadaverous look,
that his old brother of the bench got alarmed, and fairly took to his
heels, as if he had seen a spectre. Undaunted, however, he pushed on,
and by the time he reached the Canongate it was almost dark. He went
direct to his own house, and peeping through the window, saw Lady Durie
sitting by the fire dressed in weeds, and several of his children
around, arrayed in the same style. The sight brought the tears of joy
to his eyes, and, forgetting entirely the effect his appearance would
produce, he threw open the door, and rushed into the room. A loud scream
from the throats of the lady and the children rang through the whole
house, and brought up the servants, who screamed in their turn, and some
of them fainted, while others ran away; and no one had any idea that the
emaciated haggard being before them was other than the grim ghost of
Lord President Durie, come from the other world to terrify the good
people of this. The confusion, however, soon ceased; for Durie began to
speak softly to them, and, taking his dear lady in his arms, pressed her
to his bosom in a way that satisfied her that he was no ghost, but her
own lord, who, by some mischance, had been spirited away by some bad
angels. The children gradually recovered their confidence, and in a
short time joy took the place of fear, and all the neighbourhood was
filled with the news that Lord Durie had come alive again, and was in
the living body in his own house. Shortly after the good lord sat down
by the fire and got his supper, and, by the quantity he ate, satisfied
his lady and family still more that he carried a good body, with as
fair a capability of reception as he ever exhibited after a walk at the
Figgate Whins. He told them all he had undergone since first he was
carried away, not forgetting the two spirits, Batty and Maudge, that had
tormented him so cruelly during the period of his enchantment. The lady
and family stared with open mouths as they heard the dreadful recital;
but a goodly potation of warm spiced wine drove off the vapours produced
by the dismal story, and, by-and-by, Lord Durie and his wife retired to
bed--the one weary and exhausted with his trials, and the other with her
terrors and her joys.



RECOLLECTIONS OF BURNS.[F]

CHAPTER I.

    "Wear we not graven on our hearts
        The name of Robert Burns!"--_American Poet._


The degrees shorten as we proceed from the higher to the lower
latitudes--the years seem to shorten in a much greater ratio as we pass
onward through life. We are almost disposed to question whether the
brief period of storms and foul weather that floats over us with such
dream-like rapidity, and the transient season of flowers and sunshine
that seems almost too short for enjoyment, be at all identical with the
long summers and still longer winters of our boyhood, when day after day
and week after week stretched away in dim perspective, till lost in the
obscurity of an almost inconceivable distance. Young as I was, I had
already passed the period of life when we wonder how it is that the
years should be described as short and fleeting; and it seemed as if
I had stood but yesterday beside the death-bed of the unfortunate
Ferguson, though the flowers of four summers and the snows of four
winters had now been shed over his grave.

 [F] Our author, Hugh Miller, never communicated to the Editor
 his authority for these "Recollections." Probably it was of the same
 kind as that possessed by Lucian, Lord Lyttleton, and Walter Savage
 Lander; but whether so or not, we must at least be well satisfied that
 the parts of the conversation sustained by the principal interlocutor
 are true to the genius and character of Burns, and that, however
 searching the thoughts or beautiful the sentiments, they do not
 transcend what might have been expected from the Bard himself.--ED.

My prospects in life had begun to brighten. I served in the capacity of
mate in a large West India trader, the master of which, an elderly man
of considerable wealth, was on the eve of quitting the sea; and the
owners had already determined that I should succeed him in the charge.
But fate had ordered it otherwise. Our seas were infested at this
period by American privateers--prime sailors, and strongly armed; and,
when homeward bound from Jamaica with a valuable cargo, we were attacked
and captured when within a day's sailing of Ireland, by one of the most
formidable of the class. Vain as resistance might have been deemed--for
the force of the American was altogether overpowering--and though our
master, poor old man! and three of the crew, had fallen by the first
broadside, we had yet stood stiffly by our guns, and were only
overmastered when, after falling foul of the enemy, we were boarded by
a party of thrice our strength and number. The Americans, irritated by
our resistance, proved on this occasion no generous enemies; we were
stripped and heavily ironed, and, two days after, were set ashore on the
wild coast of Connaught, without a single change of dress, or a sixpence
to bear us by the way.

I was sitting, on the following night, beside the turf fire of a
hospitable Irish peasant, when a seafaring man, whom I had sailed
with about two years before, entered the cabin. The meeting was equally
unexpected on either side. My acquaintance was the master of a smuggling
lugger then on the coast; and on acquainting him with the details of my
disaster, and the state of destitution to which it had reduced me, he
kindly proposed that I should accompany him on his voyage to the west
coast of Scotland, for which he was then on the eve of sailing. "You
will run some little risk," he said, "as the companion of a man who has
now been thrice outlawed for firing on his Majesty's flag; but I know
your proud heart will prefer the danger of bad company at its worst, to
the alternative of begging your way home." He judged rightly. Before
daybreak we had lost sight of land, and in four days more we could
discern the precipitous shores of Carrick stretching in a dark line
along the horizon, and the hills of the interior rising thin and blue
behind, like a volume of clouds. A considerable part of our cargo,
which consisted mostly of tea and spirits, was consigned to an Ayr
trader, who had several agents in the remote parish of Kirkoswald, which
at this period afforded more facilities for carrying on the contraband
trade than any other on the western coast of Scotland; and, in a rocky
bay of the parish, we proposed unlading on the following night. It was
necessary, however, that the several agents, who were yet ignorant of
our arrival, should be prepared to meet with us; and, on volunteering my
service for the purpose, I was landed near the ruins of the ancient
castle of Turnberry, once the seat of Robert the Bruce.

I had accomplished my object; it was evening, and a party of
countrymen were sauntering among the cliffs, waiting for nightfall and
the appearance of the lugger. There are splendid caverns on the coast of
Kirkoswald; and, to while away the time, I had descended to the shore by
a broken and precipitous path, with a view of exploring what are termed
the Caves of Colzean, by far the finest in this part of Scotland. The
evening was of great beauty; the sea spread out from the cliffs to the
far horizon, like the sea of gold and crystal described by the prophet;
and its warm orange hues so harmonized with those of the sky, that,
passing over the dimly-defined line of demarcation, the whole upper and
nether expanse seemed but one glorious firmament, with the dark Ailsa,
like a thunder-cloud, sleeping in the midst. The sun was hastening to
his setting, and threw his strong red light on the wall of rock which,
loftier and more imposing than the walls of even the mighty Babylon,
stretched onward along the beach, headland after headland, till the last
sank abruptly in the far distance, and only the wide ocean stretched
beyond. I passed along the insulated piles of cliff that rise thick
along the basis of the precipices--now in sunshine, now in shadow--till
I reached the opening of one of the largest caves. The roof rose more
than fifty feet over my head--a broad stream of light, that seemed
redder and more fiery from the surrounding gloom, slanted inwards, and,
as I paused in the opening, my shadow, lengthened and dark, fell athwart
the floor--a slim and narrow bar of black--till lost in the gloom of the
inner recess. There was a wild and uncommon beauty in the scene that
powerfully affected the imagination; and I stood admiring it in that
delicious dreamy mood in which one can forget all but the present
enjoyment, when I was roused to a recollection of the business of the
evening by the sound of a footfall echoing from within. It seemed
approaching by a sort of cross passage in the rock, and, in a moment
after, a young man, one of the country people whom I had left among the
cliffs above, stood before me. He wore a broad Lowland bonnet, and his
plain homely suit of coarse russet seemed to bespeak him a peasant of
perhaps the poorest class; but, as he emerged from the gloom, and the
red light fell full on his countenance, I saw an indescribable something
in the expression that in an instant awakened my curiosity. He was
rather above the middle size, of a frame the most muscular and compact I
have almost ever seen, and there was a blended mixture of elasticity and
firmness in his tread, that to one accustomed, as I had been, to
estimate the physical capabilities of men, gave evidence of a union of
immense personal strength with great activity. My first idea regarding
the stranger--and I know not how it should have struck me--was that of a
very powerful frame, animated by a double portion of vitality. The red
light shone full on his face, and gave a ruddy tinge to the complexion,
which I afterwards found it wanted--for he was naturally of a darker hue
than common; but there was no mistaking the expression of the large
flashing eyes, the features that seemed so thoroughly cast in the mould
of thought, and of the broad, full, perpendicular forehead. Such, at
least, was the impression on my mind, that I addressed him with more of
the courtesy which my earlier pursuits had rendered familiar to me, than
of the bluntness of my adopted profession. "This sweet evening," I said,
"is by far too fine for our lugger; I question whether, in these calms,
we need expect her before midnight; but, 'tis well, since wait we must,
that 'tis in a place where the hours may pass so agreeably." The
stranger, good-humouredly, acquiesced in the remark, and we sat down
together on the dry, water-worn pebbles, mixed with fragments of broken
shells and minute pieces of wreck, that strewed the opening of the cave.

"Was there ever a lovelier evening!" he exclaimed; "the waters above the
firmament seem all of a piece with the waters below. And never surely
was there a scene of wilder beauty. Only look inwards, and see how the
stream of red light seems bounded by the extreme darkness, like a river
by its banks, and how the reflection of the ripple goes waving in golden
curls along the roof!"

"I have been admiring the scene for the last half hour," I said;
"Shakspeare speaks of a music that cannot be heard, and I have not yet
seen a place where one might better learn to comment on the passage."

Both the thought and the phrase seemed new to him.

"A music that cannot be heard!" he repeated; and then, after a momentary
pause, "you allude to the fact," he continued, "that sweet music, and
forms such as these, of silent beauty and grandeur, awaken in the mind
emotions of nearly the same class. There is something truly exquisite in
the concert of to-night."

I muttered a simple assent.

"See," he continued, "how finely these insulated piles of rock,
that rise in so many combinations of form along the beach, break and
diversify the red light, and how the glossy leaves of the ivy glisten
in the hollows of the precipices above! And then, how the sea spreads
away to the far horizon, a glorious pavement of crimson and gold!--and
how the dark Ailsa rises in the midst, like the little cloud seen by
the prophet! The mind seems to enlarge, the heart to expand, in the
contemplation of so much of beauty and grandeur. The soul asserts its
due supremacy. And, oh! 'tis surely well that we can escape from those
little cares of life which fetter down our thoughts, our hopes, our
wishes, to the wants and the enjoyments of our animal existence; and
that, amid the grand and the sublime of nature, we may learn from the
spirit within us that we are better than the beasts that perish!"

I looked up to the animated countenance and flashing eyes of my
companion, and wondered what sort of a peasant it was I had met with.
"Wild and beautiful as the scene is," I said, "you will find, even among
those who arrogate to themselves the praise of wisdom and learning, men
who regard such scenes as mere errors of nature. Burnet would have told
you that a Dutch landscape, without hill, rock, or valley, must be the
perfection of beauty, seeing that Paradise itself could have furnished
nothing better."

"I hold Milton as higher authority on the subject," said my companion,
"than all the philosophers who ever wrote. Beauty, in a tame unvaried
flat, where a man would know his country only by the milestones! A very
Dutch Paradise, truly!"

"But would not some of your companions above," I asked, "deem the scene
as much an error of nature as Burnet himself? They could pass over these
stubborn rocks neither plough nor harrow."

"True," he replied; "there is a species of small wisdom in the world
that often constitutes the extremest of its folly; a wisdom that would
change the entire nature of _good_, had it but the power, by vainly
endeavouring to render that good universal. It would convert the entire
earth into one vast corn field, and then find that it had ruined the
species by its improvement."

"We of Scotland can hardly be ruined in that way for an age to come," I
said. "But I am not sure that I understand you. Alter the very nature of
good in the attempt to render it universal! How?"

"I daresay you have seen a graduated scale," said my companion,
"exhibiting the various powers of the different musical instruments, and
observed how some of limited scope cross only a few of the divisions,
and how others stretch nearly from side to side. 'Tis but a poor truism,
perhaps, to say that similar differences in scope and power obtain
among men--that there are minds who could not join in the concert of
to-night--who could see neither beauty nor grandeur amid these wild
cliffs and caverns, or in that glorious expanse of sea and sky; and
that, on the other hand, there are minds so finely modulated--minds that
sweep so broadly across the scale of nature, that there is no object,
however minute, no breath of feeling, however faint, but that it awakens
their sweet vibrations--the snow-flake falling in the stream, the daisy
of the field, the conies of the rock, the hysop of the wall. Now, the
vast and various frame of nature is adapted not to the lesser, but to
the larger mind. It spreads on and around us in all its rich and
magnificent variety, and finds the full portraiture of its Proteus-like
beauty in the mirror of genius alone. Evident, however, as this may
seem, we find a sort of levelling principle in the inferior order
of minds, and which, in fact, constitutes one of their grand
characteristics--a principle that would fain abridge the scale to their
own narrow capabilities--that would cut down the vastness of nature to
suit the littleness of their own conceptions and desires, and convert it
into one tame, uniform, _médiocre good_, which would be _good_ but to
themselves alone, and ultimately not even that."

"I think I can now understand you," I said; "you describe a sort of
swinish wisdom that would convert the world into one vast sty. For my
own part, I have travelled far enough to know the value of a blue hill,
and would not willingly lose so much as one of these landmarks of our
mother land, by which kindly hearts in distant countries love to
remember it."

"I daresay we are getting fanciful," rejoined my companion; "but
certainly, in man's schemes of improvement, both physical and moral,
there is commonly a littleness and want of adaptation to the general
good that almost always defeats his aims. He sees and understands but a
minute portion--it is always some partial good he would introduce; and
thus he but destroys the just proportions of a nicely-regulated system
of things by exaggerating one of the parts. I passed of late through
a richly-cultivated district of country, in which the agricultural
improver had done his utmost. Never were there finer fields, more
convenient steadings, crops of richer promise, a better regulated system
of production. Corn and cattle had mightily improved; but what had man,
the lord of the soil, become? Is not the body better than food, and life
than raiment? If that decline for which all other things exist, it
surely matters little that all these other things prosper. And here,
though the corn, the cattle, the fields, the steadings had improved, man
had sunk. There were but two classes in the district: a few cold-hearted
speculators, who united what is worst in the character of the landed
proprietor and the merchant--these were your gentleman farmers; and
a class of degraded helots, little superior to the cattle they
tended--these were your farm servants. And for two such extreme
classes--necessary result of such a state of things--had this
unfortunate, though highly-eulogized district, parted with a moral,
intelligent, high-minded peasantry--the true boast and true riches of
their country."

"I have, I think, observed something like what you describe," I said.

"I give," he replied, "but one instance of a thousand. But mark how the
sun's lower disk has just reached the line of the horizon, and how the
long level rule of light stretches to the very innermost recess of the
cave! It darkens as the orb sinks. And see how the gauze-like shadows
creep on from the sea, film after film!--and now they have reached the
ivy that mantles round the castle of The Bruce. Are you acquainted with
Barbour?"

"Well," I said; "a spirited, fine old fellow, who loved his country and
did much for it. I could once repeat all his chosen passages. Do you
remember how he describes King Robert's rencounter with the English
knight?"

My companion sat up erect, and, clenching his fist, began repeating the
passage, with a power and animation that seemed to double its inherent
energy and force.

"Glorious old Barbour!" ejaculated he, when he had finished the
description; "many a heart has beat all the higher when the bale-fires
were blazing, through the tutorage of thy noble verses! Blind Harry,
too--what has not his country owed to him!"

"Ah, they have long since been banished from our popular literature," I
said; "and yet Blind Harry's 'Wallace,' as Hailes tells us, was at one
time the very Bible of the Scotch. But love of country seems to be
getting old-fashioned among us, and we have become philosophic enough to
set up for citizens of the world."

"All cold pretence," rejoined my companion; "an effect of that small
wisdom we have just been decrying. Cosmopolitism, as we are accustomed
to define it, can be no virtue of the present age, nor yet of the next,
nor perhaps for centuries to come. Even when it shall have attained to
its best, and when it may be most safely indulged in, it is according
to the nature of man, that, instead of running counter to the love of
country, it should exist as but a wider diffusion of the feeling, and
form, as it were, a wider circle round it. It is absurdity itself to
oppose the love of our country to that of our race."

"Do I rightly understand you?" I said. "You look forward to a time when
the patriot may safely expand into the citizen of the world; but, in the
present age, he would do well, you think, to confine his energies within
the inner circle of country."

"Decidedly," he rejoined; "man should love his species at all times,
but it is ill with him if, in times like the present, he loves not his
country more. The spirit of war and aggression is yet abroad--there are
laws to be established, rights to be defended, invaders to be repulsed,
tyrants to be deposed. And who but the patriot is equal to these things?
We are not yet done with the Bruces, the Wallaces, the Tells, the
Washingtons--yes, the Washingtons, whether they fight for or against
us--we are not yet done with them. The cosmopolite is but a puny
abortion--a birth ere the natural time, that at once endangers the life
and betrays the weakness of the country that bears him. Would that he
were sleeping in his elements till his proper time! But we are getting
ashamed of our country, of our language, our manners, our music, our
literature; nor shall we have enough of the old spirit left us to assert
our liberties or fight our battles. Oh, for some Barbour or Blind Harry
of the present day, to make us, once more, proud of our country!"

I quoted the famous saying of Fletcher of Salton--"Allow me to make the
songs of a country, and I will allow you to make its laws."

"But here," I said, "is our lugger stealing round Turnberry Head. We
shall soon part, perhaps for ever, and I would fain know with whom I
have spent an hour so agreeably, and have some name to remember him by.
My own name is Matthew Lindsay; I am a native of Irvine."

"And I," said the young man, rising and cordially grasping the proffered
hand, "am a native of Ayr; my name is Robert Burns."


CHAPTER II.

    If friendless, low, we meet together,
    Then, sir, your hand--my friend and brother!
                              _Dedication to G. Hamilton._


A light breeze had risen as the sun sunk, and our lugger, with all her
sails set, came sweeping along the shore. She had nearly gained the
little bay in front of the cave, and the countrymen from above, to the
number of perhaps twenty, had descended to the beach, when, all of a
sudden, after a shrill whistle, and a brief half minute of commotion
among the crew, she wore round and stood out to sea. I turned to the
south, and saw a square-rigged vessel shooting out from behind one
of the rocky headlands, and then bearing down in a long tack on
the smuggler. "The sharks are upon us," said one of the countrymen,
whose eyes had turned in the same direction--"we shall have no sport
to-night." We stood lining the beach in anxious curiosity; the breeze
freshened as the evening fell; and the lugger, as she lessened to our
sight, went leaning against the foam in a long bright furrow, that,
catching the last light of evening, shone like the milky way amid the
blue. Occasionally we could see the flash, and hear the booming of a gun
from the other vessel; but the night fell thick and dark; the waves too
began to lash against the rocks, drowning every feebler sound in a
continuous roaring; and every trace of both the chase and the chaser
disappeared. The party broke up, and I was left standing alone on the
beach, a little nearer home, but in every other respect in quite the
same circumstances as when landed by my American friends on the wild
coast of Connaught. "Another of Fortune's freaks!" I ejaculated; "but
'tis well she can no longer surprise me."

A man stepped out in the darkness as I spoke, from beside one of the
rocks; it was the peasant Burns, my acquaintance of the earlier part of
the evening.

"I have waited, Mr. Lindsay," he said, "to see whether some of the
country folks here, who have homes of their own to invite you to, might
not have brought you along with them. But I am afraid you must just be
content to pass the night with me. I can give you a share of my bed
and my supper, though both, I am aware, need many apologies." I made a
suitable acknowledgment, and we ascended the cliff together. "I live,
when at home with my parents," said my companion, "in the inland parish
of Tarbolton; but, for the last two months, I have attended school here,
and lodge with an old widow woman in the village. To-morrow, as harvest
is fast approaching, I return to my father."

"And I," I replied, "shall have the pleasure of accompanying you in at
least the early part of your journey, on my way to Irvine, where my
mother still lives."

We reached the village, and entered a little cottage, that presented its
gable to the street, and its side to one of the narrower lanes.

"I must introduce you to my landlady," said my companion, "an excellent,
kind-hearted old woman, with a fund of honest Scotch pride and shrewd
good sense in her composition, and with the mother as strong in her
heart as ever, though she lost the last of her children more than
twenty years ago."

We found the good woman sitting beside a small but very cheerful fire.
The hearth was newly swept, and the floor newly sanded; and, directly
fronting her, there was an empty chair, which seemed to have been drawn
to its place in the expectation of some one to fill it.

"You are going to leave me, Robert, my bairn," said the woman, "an' I
kenna how I sall ever get on without you; I have almost forgotten, sin
you came to live with me, that I have neither children nor husband." On
seeing me, she stopped short.

"An acquaintance," said my companion, "whom I have made bold to bring
with me for the night; but you must not put yourself to any trouble,
mother; he is, I daresay, as much accustomed to plain fare as myself.
Only, however, we must get an additional pint of _yill_ from the
_clachan;_ you know this is my last evening with you, and was to be
a merry one at any rate." The woman looked me full in the face.

"Matthew Lindsay!" she exclaimed--"can you have forgotten your poor old
aunt Margaret!" I grasped her hand.

"Dearest aunt, this is surely most unexpected! How could I have so much
as dreamed you were within a hundred miles of me?" Mutual congratulation
ensued.

"This," she said, turning to my companion, "is the nephew I have so
often told you about, and so often wished to bring you acquainted with.
He is, like yourself, a great reader and a great thinker, and there is
no need that your proud, kindly heart should be jealous of him; for he
has been ever quite as poor, and maybe the poorer of the two." After
still more of greeting and congratulation, the young man rose.

"The night is dark, mother," he said, "and the road to the clachan a
rough one; besides you and your kinsman will have much to say to one
another. I shall just slip out to the clachan for you; and you shall
both tell me on my return whether I am not a prime judge of ale."

"The kindest heart, Matthew, that ever lived," said my relative, as he
left the house; "ever since he came to Kirkoswald, he has been both son
and daughter to me, and I shall feel twice a widow when he goes away."

"I am mistaken, aunt," I said, "if he be not the strongest minded man I
ever saw. Be assured he stands high among the aristocracy of nature,
whatever may be thought of him in Kirkoswald. There is a robustness of
intellect, joined to an overmastering force of character, about him,
which I have never yet seen equalled, though I have been intimate with
at least one very superior mind, and with hundreds of the class who pass
for men of talent. I have been thinking ever since I met with him, of
the William Tells and William Wallaces of history--men who, in those
times of trouble which unfix the foundations of society, step out from
their obscurity to rule the destiny of nations."

"I was ill about a month ago," said my relative--"so very ill that I
thought I was to have done with the world altogether; and Robert was
both nurse and physician to me--he kindled my fire, too, every morning,
and sat up beside me sometimes for the greater part of the night. What
wonder I should love him as my own child? Had your cousin Henry been
spared to me, he would now have been much about Robert's age."

The conversation passed to other matters, and in about half an hour, my
new friend entered the room; when we sat down to a homely, but cheerful
repast.

"I have been engaged in argument, for the last twenty minutes, with
our parish schoolmaster," he said--"a shrewd, sensible man, and a
prime scholar, but one of the most determined Calvinists I ever knew.
Now, there is something, Mr. Lindsay, in abstract Calvinism, that
dissatisfies and distresses me; and yet, I must confess, there is so
much of good in the working of the system, that I would ill like to see
it supplanted by any other. I am convinced, for instance, there is
nothing so efficient in teaching the bulk of a people to think as a
Calvinistic church."

"Ah, Robert," said my aunt, "it does meikle mair nor that. Look round
ye, my bairn, an' see if there be a kirk in which puir sinful creatures
have mair comfort in their sufferings or mair hope in their deaths."

"Dear mother," said my companion, "I like well enough to dispute with
the schoolmaster, but I must have no dispute with you. I know the heart
is everything in these matters, and yours is much wiser than mine."

"There is something in abstract Calvinism," he continued, "that
distresses me. In almost all our researches we arrive at an ultimate
barrier, which interposes its wall of darkness between us and the last
grand truth, in the series which we had trusted was to prove a
master-key to the whole. We dwell in a sort of Goshen--there is light
in our immediate neighbourhood, and a more than Egyptian darkness all
around; and as every Hebrew must have known that the hedge of cloud
which he saw resting on the landscape, was a boundary not to things
themselves, but merely to his view of things--for beyond there were
cities, and plains, and oceans, and continents--so we in like manner
must know that the barriers of which I speak exist only in relation to
the faculties which we employ, not to the objects on which we employ
them. And yet, notwithstanding this consciousness that we are
necessarily and irremediably the bound prisoners of ignorance, and that
all the great truths lie outside our prison, we can almost be content
that, in most cases, it should be so--not, however, with regard to
those great unattainable truths which lie in the track of Calvinism.
They seem too important to be wanted, and yet want them we must--and we
beat our very heads against the cruel barrier which separates us from
them."

"I am afraid I hardly understand you," I said;--"do assist me by some
instance of illustration."

"You are acquainted," he replied, "with the Scripture doctrine of
Predestination, and, in thinking over it, in connection with the
destinies of man, it must have struck you that, however much it may
interfere with our fixed notions of the goodness of Deity, it is
thoroughly in accordance with the actual condition of our race. As far
as we can know of ourselves and the things around us, there seems,
through the will of Deity--for to what else can we refer it?--a fixed,
invariable connection between what we term cause and effect. Nor do we
demand of any class of mere effects, in the inanimate or irrational
world, that they should regulate themselves otherwise than the causes
which produce them have determined. The roe and the tiger pursue,
unquestioned, the instincts of their several natures; the cork rises,
and the stone sinks; and no one thinks of calling either to account for
movements so opposite. But it is not so with the family of man; and yet
our minds, our bodies, our circumstances, are but combinations of
effects, over the causes of which we have no control. We did not
choose a country for ourselves, nor yet a condition in life--nor did we
determine our modicum of intellect, or our amount of passion--we did
not impart its gravity to the weightier part of our nature, or give
expansion to the lighter--nor are our instincts of our own planting.
How, then, being thus as much the creatures of necessity as the denizens
of the wild and forest--as thoroughly under the agency of fixed,
unalterable causes, as the dead matter around us--why are we yet the
subjects of a retributive system, and accountable for all our actions?"

"You quarrel with Calvinism," I said; "and seem one of the most
thorough-going necessitarians I ever knew."

"Not so," he replied; "though my judgment cannot disprove these
conclusions, my heart cannot acquiesce in them--though I see that I am
as certainly the subject of laws that exist and operate independent of
my will, as the dead matter around me, I feel, with a certainty quite as
great, that I am a free, accountable creature. It is according to the
scope of my entire reason that I should deem myself bound--it is
according to the constitution of my whole nature that I should feel
myself free. And in this consists the great, the fearful problem--a
problem which both reason and revelation propound; but the truths which
can alone solve it, seem to lie beyond the horizon of darkness--and we
vex ourselves in vain. 'Tis a sort of moral asymptotes; but its lines,
instead of approaching through all space without meeting, seem receding
through all space, and yet meet."

"Robert, my bairn," said my aunt, "I fear you are wasting your strength
on these mysteries to your ain hurt. Did ye no see, in the last storm,
when ye staid out among the caves till cock-crow, that the bigger and
stronger the wave, the mair was it broken against the rocks?--it's just
thus wi' the pride o' man's understanding, when he measures it against
the dark things o' God. An' yet it's sae ordered, that the same
wonderful truths which perplex and cast down the proud reason, should
delight and comfort the humble heart. I am a lone, puir woman, Robert.
Bairns an' husband have gone down to the grave, one by one; an' now, for
twenty weary years, I have been childless an' a widow. But trow ye that
the puir lone woman wanted a guard, an' a comforter, an' a provider,
through a' the lang mirk nichts, an' a' the cauld scarce winters o'
these twenty years? No, my bairn--I kent that Himsel' was wi' me. I kent
it by the provision He made, an' the care He took, an' the joy He gave.
An' how, think you, did He comfort me maist? Just by the blessed
assurance that a' my trials an' a' my sorrows were nae hasty chance
matters, but dispensations for my guid, an' the guid o' those He took to
Himsel', that, in the perfect love and wisdom o' His nature, He had
ordained frae the beginning."

"Ah, mother," said my friend, after a pause, "you understand the
doctrine far better than I do! There are, I find, no contradictions in
the Calvinism of the heart."


CHAPTER III.

    "Ayr, gurgling, kissed his pebbled shore,
       O'erhung with wild woods thick'ning green;
     The fragrant birch and hawthorn hoar
       Twined, amorous, round the raptured scene;

     The flowers sprang wanton to be prest,
       The birds sang love on every spray--
     Till, too, too soon, the glowing west
      Proclaimed the speed of winged day."
                               _To Mary in Heaven_.


We were early on the road together; the day, though somewhat gloomy, was
mild and pleasant, and we walked slowly onward, neither of us in the
least disposed to hasten our parting by hastening our journey. We had
discussed fifty different topics, and were prepared to enter on fifty
more, when we reached the ancient burgh of Ayr, where our roads
separated.

"I have taken an immense liking to you, Mr. Lindsay," said my
companion, as he seated himself on the parapet of the old bridge,
"and have just bethought me of a scheme through which I may enjoy your
company for at least one night more. The Ayr is a lovely river, and you
tell me you have never explored it. We shall explore it together this
evening for about ten miles, when we shall find ourselves at the
farm-house of Lochlea. You may depend on a hearty welcome from my
father, whom, by the way, I wish much to introduce to you, as a man
worth your knowing; and, as I have set my heart on the scheme, you
are surely too good-natured to disappoint me." Little risk of that, I
thought; I had, in fact, become thoroughly enamoured of the warm-hearted
benevolence and fascinating conversation of my companion, and acquiesced
with the best good-will in the world.

We had threaded the course of the river for several miles. It runs
through a wild pastoral valley, roughened by thickets of copse-wood, and
bounded on either hand by a line of swelling, moory hills, with here and
there a few irregular patches of corn, and here and there some little
nest-like cottage peeping out from among the wood. The clouds, which
during the morning had obscured the entire face of the heavens, were
breaking up their array, and the sun was looking down, in twenty
different places, through the openings, checkering the landscape with a
fantastic, though lovely carpeting of light and shadow. Before us there
rose a thick wood, on a jutting promontory, that looked blue and dark in
the shade, as if it wore mourning; while the sunlit stream beyond shone
through the trunks and branches, like a river of fire. At length the
clouds seemed to have melted in the blue--for there was not a breath of
wind to speed them away--and the sun, now hastening to the west, shone
in unbroken effulgence over the wide extent of the dell, lighting up
stream and wood, and field and cottage, in one continuous blaze of
glory. We had walked on in silence for the last half hour; but I could
sometimes hear my companion muttering as he went; and when, in passing
through a thicket of hawthorn and honeysuckle, we started from its perch
a linnet that had been filling the air with its melody, I could hear him
exclaim, in a subdued tone of voice, "Bonny, bonny birdie! why hasten
frae me?--I wadna skaith a feather o' yer wing." He turned round to me,
and I could see that his eyes were swimming in moisture.

"Can he be other," he said, "than a good and benevolent God, who gives
us moments like these to enjoy? Oh, my friend, without these sabbaths of
the soul, that come to refresh and invigorate it, it would dry up within
us! How exquisite," he continued, "how entire the sympathy which exists
between all that is good and fair in external nature, and all of good
and fair that dwells in our own! And, oh, how the heart expands and
lightens! The world is as a grave to it--a closely-covered grave--and
it shrinks, and deadens, and contracts all its holier and more joyous
feelings under the cold, earth-like pressure. But, amid the grand and
lovely of nature--amid these forms and colours of richest beauty--there
is a disinterment, a resurrection of sentiment; the pressure of our
earthly part seems removed, and those _senses of the mind_, if I may
so speak, which serve to connect our spirits with the invisible world
around us, recover their proper tone, and perform their proper office."

"_Senses of the mind_," I said, repeating the phrase; "the idea is new
to me; but I think I catch your meaning."

"Yes; there are--there must be such," he continued, with growing
enthusiasm; "man is essentially a religious creature--a looker beyond
the grave, from the very constitution of his mind; and the sceptic who
denies it is untrue not merely to the Being who has made and who
preserves him, but to the entire scope and bent of his own nature
besides. Wherever man is--whether he be a wanderer of the wild forest
or still wilder desert, a dweller in some lone isle of the sea, or
the tutored and full-minded denizen of some blessed land like our
own--wherever man is, there is religion--hopes that look forward and
upward--the belief in an unending existence, and a land of separate
souls."

I was carried away by the enthusiasm of my companion, and felt, for the
time, as if my mind had become the mirror of his. There seems to obtain
among men a species of moral gravitation, analogous, in its principles,
to that which regulates and controls the movements of the planetary
system. The larger and more ponderous any body, the greater its
attractive force, and the more overpowering its influence over the
lesser bodies which surround it. The earth we inhabit carries the moon
along with it in its course, and is itself subject to the immensely more
powerful influence of the sun. And it is thus with character. It is a
law of our nature, as certainly as of the system we inhabit, that the
inferior should yield to the superior, and the lesser owe its guidance
to the greater. I had hitherto wandered on through life almost
unconscious of the existence of this law, or, if occasionally rendered
half aware of it, it was only through a feeling that some secret
influence was operating favourably in my behalf on the common minds
around me. I now felt, however, for the first time, that I had come in
contact with a mind immeasurably more powerful than my own; my thoughts
seemed to cast themselves into the very mould--my sentiments to modulate
themselves by the very tone of his. And yet he was but a russet-clad
peasant--my junior by at least eight years--who was returning from
school to assist his father, an humble tacksman, in the labours of
the approaching harvest. But the law of circumstance, so arbitrary in
ruling the destinies of common men, exerts but a feeble control over
the children of genius. The prophet went forth commissioned by Heaven to
anoint a king over Israel, and the choice fell on a shepherd boy who was
tending his father's flocks in the field.

We had reached a lovely bend of the stream. There was a semicircular
inflection in the steep bank, which waved over us, from base to summit,
with hawthorn and hazle; and while one half looked blue and dark in the
shade, the other was lighted up with gorgeous and fiery splendour by the
sun, now fast sinking in the west. The effect seemed magical. A little
grassy platform that stretched between the hanging wood and the stream,
was whitened over with clothes, that looked like snow-wreathes in the
hollow; and a young and beautiful girl watched beside them.

"Mary Campbell!" exclaimed my companion, and in a moment he was at her
side, and had grasped both her hands in his. "How fortunate, how very
fortunate I am!" he said; "I could not have so much as hoped to have
seen you to-night, and yet here you are! This, Mr. Lindsay, is a loved
friend of mine, whom I have known and valued for years; ever, indeed,
since we herded our sheep together under the cover of one plaid. Dearest
Mary, I have had sad forebodings regarding you for the whole last month
I was in Kirkoswald, and yet, after all my foolish fears, here you are,
ruddier and bonnier than ever."

She was, in truth, a beautiful, sylph-like young woman--one whom I would
have looked at with complacency in any circumstances; for who that
admires the fair and the lovely in nature--whether it be the wide-spread
beauty of sky and earth, or beauty in its minuter modifications, as we
see it in the flowers that spring up at our feet, or the butterfly that
flutters over them--who, I say, that admires the fair and lovely in
nature, can be indifferent to the fairest and loveliest of all her
productions? As the mistress, however, of by far the strongest-minded
man I ever knew, there was more of scrutiny in my glance than usual, and
I felt a deeper interest in her than mere beauty could have awakened.
She was, perhaps, rather below than above the middle size; but formed in
such admirable proportion, that it seemed out of place to think of size
in reference to her at all. Who, in looking at the _Venus de Medicis_,
asks whether she be tall or short? The bust and neck were so exquisitely
moulded, that they reminded me of Burke's fanciful remark, viz., that
our ideas of beauty originate in our love of the sex, and that we
deem every object beautiful which is described by soft-waving lines,
resembling those of the female neck and bosom. Her feet and arms, which
were both bare, had a statue-like symmetry and marble-like whiteness;
but it was on her expressive and lovely countenance, now lighted up by
the glow of joyous feeling, that nature seemed to have exhausted her
utmost skill. There was a fascinating mixture in the expression of
superior intelligence and child-like simplicity; a soft, modest light
dwelt in the blue eye; and in the entire contour and general form of the
features, there was a nearer approach to that union of the straight and
the rounded, which is found in its perfection in only the Grecian face,
than is at all common in our northern latitudes, among the descendants
of either the Celt or the Saxon. I felt, however, as I gazed, that when
lovers meet, the presence of a third person, however much the friend of
either, must always be less than agreeable.

"Mr. Burns," I said, "there is a beautiful eminence a few hundred yards
to the right, from which I am desirous to overlook the windings of the
stream. Do permit me to leave you for a short half hour, when I shall
return; or, lest I weary you by my stay, 'twere better, perhaps, you
should join me there." My companion greeted the proposal with a
good-humoured smile of intelligence; and, plunging into the wood, I
left him with his Mary. The sun had just set as he joined me.

"Have you ever been in love, Mr. Lindsay?" he said.

"No, never seriously," I replied. "I am, perhaps, not naturally of the
coolest temperament imaginable; but the same fortune that has improved
my mind in some little degree, and given me high notions of the sex, has
hitherto thrown me among only its less superior specimens. I am now in
my eight-and-twentieth year, and I have not yet met with a woman whom I
could love."

"Then you are yet a stranger," he rejoined, "to the greatest happiness
of which our nature is capable. I have enjoyed more heartfelt pleasure
in the company of the young woman I have just left, than from every
other source that has been opened to me from my childhood till now.
Love, my friend, is the fulfilling of the whole law."

"Mary Campbell, did you not call her?" I said. "She is, I think, the
loveliest creature I have ever seen; and I am much mistaken in the
expression of her beauty, if her mind be not as lovely as her person."

"It is, it is," he exclaimed--"the intelligence of an angel with the
simplicity of a child. Oh, the delight of being thoroughly trusted,
thoroughly beloved by one of the loveliest, best, purest-minded of all
God's good creatures! To feel that heart beating against my own, and to
know that it beats for me only! Never have I passed an evening with my
Mary without returning to the world a better, gentler, wiser man. Love,
my friend, is the fulfilling of the whole law. What are we without
it?--poor, vile, selfish animals; our very virtues themselves, so
exclusively virtues on our own behalf as to be well nigh as hateful as
our vices. Nothing so opens and improves the heart, nothing so widens
the grasp of the affections, nothing half so effectually brings us out
of our crust of self, as a happy, well-regulated love for a pure-minded,
affectionate-hearted woman!"

"There is another kind of love, of which we sailors see somewhat," I
said, "which is not so easily associated with good."

"Love!" he replied--"no, Mr. Lindsay, that is not the name. Kind
associates with kind in all nature; and love--humanizing,
heart-softening love--cannot be the companion of whatever is low, mean,
worthless, degrading--the associate of ruthless dishonour, cunning,
treachery, and violent death. Even independent of its amount of evil
as a crime, or the evils still greater than itself which necessarily
accompany it, there is nothing that so petrifies the feeling as illicit
connection."

"Do you seriously think so?" I asked.

"Yes, and I see clearly how it should be so. Neither sex is complete of
itself--each was made for the other, that, like the two halves of a
hinge, they may become an entire whole when united. Only think of the
scriptural phrase, _one flesh_--it is of itself a system of philosophy.
Refinement and tenderness are of the woman, strength and dignity of
the man. Only observe the effects of a thorough separation, whether
originating in accident or caprice. You will find the stronger sex lost
in the rudenesses of partial barbarism; the gentler wrapt up in some
pitiful round of trivial and unmeaning occupation--dry-nursing puppies,
or making pincushions for posterity. But how much more pitiful are the
effects when they meet amiss--when the humanizing friend and companion
of the man is converted into the light degraded toy of an idle hour;
the object of a sordid appetite that lives but for a moment, and then
expires in loathing and disgust! The better feelings are iced over at
their source, chilled by the freezing and deadening contact--where
there is nothing to inspire confidence or solicit esteem; and, if these
pass not through the first, the inner circle--that circle within which
the social affections are formed, and from whence they emanate--how can
they possibly flow through the circles which lie beyond? But here, Mr.
Lindsay, is the farm of Lochlea, and yonder brown cottage, beside the
three elms, is the dwelling of my parents."



CHAPTER IV.

    "From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur springs,
     That makes her lov'd at home, revered abroad."
                                     _Cotter's Saturday Night._


There was a wide and cheerful circle this evening round the hospitable
hearth of Lochlea. The father of my friend, a patriarchal-looking old
man, with a countenance the most expressive I have almost ever seen,
sat beside the wall on a large oaken settle, which also served to
accommodate a young man, an occasional visitor of the family, dressed
in rather shabby black, whom I at once set down as a probationer of
divinity. I had my own seat beside him. The brother of my friend (a lad
cast in nearly the same mould of form and feature, except, perhaps, that
his frame, though muscular and strongly set, seemed in the main less
formidably robust, and his countenance, though expressive, less
decidedly intellectual) sat at my side. My friend had drawn in his
seat beside his mother, a well-formed, comely brunette, of about
thirty-eight, whom I might almost have mistaken for his elder sister;
and two or three younger members of the family were grouped behind
her. The fire blazed cheerily within the wide and open chimney; and,
throwing its strong light on the faces and limbs of the circle, sent
our shadows flickering across the rafters and the wall behind. The
conversation was animated and rational, and every one contributed his
share. But I was chiefly interested in the remarks of the old man,
for whom I already felt a growing veneration, and in those of his
wonderfully-gifted son.

"Unquestionably, Mr. Burns," said the man in black, addressing the
farmer, "politeness is but a very shadow, as the poet hath it, if the
heart be wanting. I saw, to-night, in a strictly polite family, so
marked a presumption of the lack of that natural affection of which
politeness is but the portraiture and semblance, that truly I have been
grieved in my heart ever since."

"Ah, Mr. Murdoch," said the farmer, "there is ever more hypocrisy in
the world than in the church, and that, too, among the class of fine
gentlemen and fine ladies who deny it most. But the instance"--

"You know the family, my worthy friend," continued Mr. Murdoch--"it is a
very pretty one, as we say vernacularly, being numerous, and the sons
highly genteel young men; the daughters not less so. A neighbour of the
same very polite character, coming on a visit when I was among them,
asked the father, in the course of a conversation to which I was privy,
how he meant to dispose of his sons; when the father replied that he had
not yet determined. The visitor said, that were he in his place, seeing
they were all well-educated young men, he would send them abroad; to
which the father objected the indubitable fact, that many young men lost
their health in foreign countries, and very many their lives. 'True,'
did the visitor rejoin; 'but, as you have a number of sons, it will be
strange if some one of them does not live and make a fortune.' Now,
Mr. Burns, what will you, who know the feelings of paternity, and the
incalculable, and assuredly I may say, invaluable value of human souls,
think when I add, that the father commended the hint, as showing the
wisdom of a shrewd man of the world!"

"Even the chief priests," said the old man, "pronounced it unlawful to
cast into the treasury the thirty pieces of silver, seeing it was the
price of blood; but the gentility of the present day is less scrupulous.
There is a laxity of principle among us, Mr. Murdoch, that, if God
restore us not, must end in the ruin of our country. I say laxity of
principle; for there have ever been evil manners among us, and waifs
in no inconsiderable number, broken loose from the decencies of
society--more, perhaps, in my early days than there are now. But
our principles at least were sound; and not only was there thus a
restorative and conservative spirit among us, but, what was of not less
importance, there was a broad gulf, like that in the parable, between
the two grand classes, the good and the evil--a gulf which, when it
secured the better class from contamination, interposed no barrier
to the reformation and return of even the most vile and profligate,
if repentant. But this gulf has disappeared, and we are standing
unconcernedly over it, on a hollow and dangerous marsh of neutral
ground, which, in the end, if God open not our eyes, must assuredly
give way under our feet."

"To what, father," inquired my friend, who sat listening with the
deepest and most respectful attention, "do you attribute the change?"

"Undoubtedly," replied the old man, "there have been many causes at
work; and, though not impossible, it would certainly be no easy task to
trace them all to their several effects, and give to each its due place
and importance. But there is a deadly evil among us, though you will
hear of it from neither press nor pulpit, which I am disposed to rank
first in the number--the affectation of gentility. It has a threefold
influence among us: it confounds the grand eternal distinctions of
right and wrong, by erecting into a standard of conduct and opinion that
heterogeneous and artificial whole which constitutes the manners and
morals of the upper classes; it severs those ties of affection and
good-will which should bind the middle to the lower orders, by disposing
the one to regard whatever is below them with a true contemptuous
indifference, and by provoking a bitter and indignant, though natural
jealousy in the other for being so regarded; and, finally, by leading
those who most entertain it into habits of expense, torturing their
means, if I may so speak, on the rack of false opinion--disposing
them to think, in their blindness, that to be genteel is a first
consideration, and to be honest merely a secondary one--it has the
effect of so hardening their hearts, that, like those Carthaginians of
whom we have been lately reading in the volume Mr. Murdoch lent us,
they offer up their very children, souls and bodies, to the unreal,
phantom-like necessities of their circumstances."

"Have I not heard you remark, father," said Gilbert "that the change you
describe has been very marked among the ministers of our church?"

"Too marked and too striking," replied the old man; "and in affecting
the respectability and usefulness of so important a class, it has educed
a cause of deterioration, distinctly from itself, and hardly less
formidable. There is an old proverb of our country--'Better the head of
the commonality than the tail of the gentry.' I have heard you quote it,
Robert, oftener than once, and admire its homely wisdom. Now, it bears
directly on what I have to remark--the ministers of our church have
moved but one step during the last sixty years; but that step has been
an all-important one--it has been from the best place in relation to the
people, to the worst in relation to the aristocracy."

"Undoubtedly, worthy Mr. Burns," said Mr. Murdoch, "there is great
truth, according to mine own experience, in that which you affirm. I
may state, I trust, without over-boasting or conceit, my respected
friend, that my learning is not inferior to that of our neighbour the
clergyman--it is not inferior in Latin, nor in Greek, nor yet in French
literature, Mr. Burns, and probable it is he would not much court a
competition, and yet, when I last waited at the manse regarding a
necessary and essential certificate, Mr. Burns, he did not so much as
ask me to sit down."

"Ah!" said Gilbert, who seemed the wit of the family, "he is a highly
respectable man, Mr. Murdoch--he has a fine house, fine furniture, fine
carpets--all that constitutes respectability, you know; and his family
is on visiting terms with that of the laird. But his credit is not so
respectable, I hear."

"Gilbert," said the old man, with much seriousness, "it is ill with a
people when they can speak lightly of their clergymen. There is still
much of sterling worth and serious piety in the Church of Scotland; and
if the influence of its ministers be unfortunately less than it was
once, we must not cast the blame too exclusively on themselves. Other
causes have been in operation. The church, eighty years ago, was the
sole guide of opinion, and the only source of thought among us. There
was, indeed, but one way in which a man could learn to think. His mind
became the subject of some serious impression:--he applied to his Bible,
and, in the contemplation of the most important of all concerns, his
newly awakened faculties received their first exercise. All of
intelligence, all of moral good in him, all that rendered him worthy of
the name of man, he owed to the ennobling influence of his church; and
is it wonder that that influence should be all-powerful from this
circumstance alone? But a thorough change has taken place;--new sources
of intelligence have been opened up; we have our newspapers, and our
magazines, and our volumes of miscellaneous reading; and it is now
possible enough for the most cultivated mind in a parish to be the
least moral and the least religious; and hence necessarily a diminished
influence in the church, independent of the character of its ministers."

I have dwelt too long, perhaps, on the conversation of the elder
Burns; but I feel much pleasure in thus developing, as it were, my
recollections of one whom his powerful-minded son has described--and
this after an acquaintance with our Henry Mackenzies, Adam Smiths, and
Dugald Stewarts--as the man most thoroughly acquainted with the world he
ever knew. Never, at least, have I met with any one who exerted a more
wholesome influence, through the force of moral character, on those
around him. We sat down to a plain and homely supper. The slave question
had, about this time, begun to draw the attention of a few of the more
excellent and intelligent among the people, and the elder Burns seemed
deeply interested in it.

"This is but homely fare, Mr. Lindsay," he said, pointing to the simple
viands before us, "and the apologists of slavery among us would tell you
how inferior we are to the poor negroes, who fare so much better. But
surely 'man liveth not by bread alone!' Our fathers who died for Christ
on the hillside and the scaffold were noble men, and never, never shall
slavery produce such, and yet they toiled as hard, and fared as meanly
as we their children."

I could feel, in the cottage of such a peasant, and seated beside such
men as his two sons, the full force of the remark. And yet I have heard
the miserable sophism of unprincipled power against which it was
directed--a sophism so insulting to the dignity of honest poverty--a
thousand times repeated.

Supper over, the family circle widened round the hearth; and the old
man, taking down a large clasped Bible, seated himself beside the iron
lamp which now lighted the apartment. There was deep silence among us as
he turned over the leaves. Never shall I forget his appearance. He was
tall and thin, and though his frame was still vigorous, considerably
bent. His features were high and massy--the complexion still retained
much of the freshness of youth, and the eye all its intelligence; but
the locks were waxing thin and grey round his high, thoughtful forehead,
and the upper part of the head, which was elevated to an unusual height,
was bald. There was an expression of the deepest seriousness on the
countenance, which the strong umbery shadows of the apartment served to
heighten; and when, laying his hand on the page, he half turned his face
to the circle, and said, "_Let us worship God_," I was impressed by a
feeling of awe and reverence to which I had, alas! been a stranger for
years. I was affected too, almost to tears, as I joined in the psalm;
for a thousand half-forgotten associations came rushing upon me; and my
heart seemed to swell and expand as, kneeling beside him when he prayed,
I listened to his solemn and fervent petition, that God might make
manifest his great power and goodness in the salvation of man. Nor was
the poor solitary wanderer of the deep forgotten.

On rising from our devotions, the old man grasped me by the hand. "I
am happy," he said, "that we should have met, Mr. Lindsay. I feel an
interest in you, and must take the friend and the old man's privilege
of giving you an advice. The sailor, of all men, stands most in need
of religion. His life is one of continued vicissitude--of unexpected
success, or unlooked-for misfortune; he is ever passing from danger to
safety, and from safety to danger; his dependence is on the ever-varying
winds, his abode on the unstable waters. And the mind takes a peculiar
tone from what is peculiar in the circumstances. With nothing stable in
the real world around it on which it may rest, it forms a resting-place
for itself in some wild code of belief. It peoples the elements with
strange occult powers of good and evil, and does them homage--addressing
its prayers to the genius of the winds, and the spirits of the waters.
And thus it begets a religion for itself;--for what else is the
professional superstition of the sailor? Substitute, my friend, for
this--(shall I call it unavoidable superstition?)--this natural religion
of the sea, the religion of the Bible. Since you must be a believer in
the supernatural, let your belief be true; let your trust be on Him who
faileth not--your anchor within the vail; and all shall be well, be your
destiny for this world what it may."

We parted for the night, and I saw him no more.

Next morning, Robert accompanied me for several miles on my way. I saw,
for the last half hour, that he had something to communicate, and yet
knew not how to set about it; and so I made a full stop.

"You have something to tell me, Mr. Burns," I said: "need I assure you I
am one you are in no danger from trusting." He blushed deeply, and I saw
him, for the first time, hesitate and falter in his address.

"Forgive me," he at length said--"believe me, Mr. Lindsay, I would be
the last in the world to hurt the feelings of a friend--a--a--but you
have been left among us penniless, and I have a very little money which
I have no use for--none in the least;--will you not favour me by
accepting it as a loan?"

I felt the full and generous delicacy of the proposal, and, with
moistened eyes and a swelling heart, availed myself of his kindness. The
sum he tendered did not much exceed a guinea; but the yearly earnings of
the peasant Burns fell, at this period of his life, rather below eight
pounds.


CHAPTER V.

    "Corbies an' clergy are a shot right kittle."--_Brigs of Ayr_.


The years passed, and I was again a dweller on the sea; but the
ill-fortune which had hitherto tracked me like a bloodhound, seemed at
length as if tired in the pursuit, and I was now the master of a West
India trader, and had begun to lay the foundation of that competency
which has secured to my declining years the quiet and comfort which, for
the latter part of my life, it has been my happiness to enjoy. My vessel
had arrived at Liverpool in the latter part of the year 1784, and I had
taken coach for Irvine, to visit my mother, whom I had not seen for
several years. There was a change of passengers at every stage; but I
saw little in any of them to interest me, till within about a score of
miles of my destination, when I met with an old respectable townsman, a
friend of my father's. There was but another passenger in the coach, a
north country gentleman from the West Indies. I had many questions to
ask my townsman, and many to answer--and the time passed lightly away.

"Can you tell me aught of the Burnses of Lochlea?" I inquired, after
learning that my mother and other relatives were well. "I met with the
young man Robert about five years ago, and have often since asked myself
what special end providence could have in view in making such a man."

"I was acquainted with old William Burns," said my companion, "when he
was gardener at Denholm, an' got intimate wi' his son Robert when he
lived wi' us at Irvine, a twalmonth syne. The faither died shortly ago,
sairly straitened in his means, I'm feared, and no very square wi' the
laird--an' ill wad he hae liked that, for an honester man never
breathed. Robert, puir chield, is no very easy either."

"In his circumstances?" I said.

"Ay, an' waur:--he got entangled wi' the kirk on an unlucky sculduddery
business, an' has been writing bitter, wicked ballads on a' the guid
ministers in the country ever syne. I'm vexed it's on them he suld hae
fallen; an' yet they hae been to blame too."

"Robert Burns so entangled, so occupied!" I exclaimed; "you grieve and
astonish me."

"We are puir creatures, Matthew," said the old man; "strength an'
weakness are often next door neighbours in the best o' us; nay, what is
our vera strength taen on the ae side, may be our vera weakness taen on
the ither. Never was there a stancher, firmer fallow than Robert Burns;
an' now that he has taen a wrang step, puir chield, that vera stanchness
seems just a weak want o' ability to yield. He has planted his foot
where it lighted by mishanter, and a' the guid an' ill in Scotland wadna
budge him frae the spot."

"Dear me! that so powerful a mind should be so frivolously engaged!
Making ballads, you say?--with what success?"

"Ah, Matthew lad, when the strong man puts out his strength," said my
companion, "there's naething frivolous in the matter, be his object what
it may. Robert's ballads are far, far aboon the best things ever seen in
Scotland afore; we auld folk dinna ken whether maist to blame or praise
them, but they keep the young people laughing frae the ae nuik o' the
shire till the ither."

"But how," I inquired, "have the better clergy rendered themselves
obnoxious to Burns? The laws he has violated, if I rightly understand
you, are indeed severe, and somewhat questionable in their tendencies;
and even good men often press them too far."

"And in the case of Robert," said the old man, "our clergy have been
strict to the very letter. They're guid men an' faithfu' ministers; but
ane o' them, at least, an' he a leader, has a harsh, ill temper, an'
mistakes sometimes the corruption o' the auld man in him for the proper
zeal o' the new ane. Nor is there ony o' the ithers wha kent what they
had to deal wi' when Robert cam afore them. They saw but a proud,
thrawart ploughman, that stood uncow'ring under the glunsh o' a hail
session; and so they opened on him the artillery o' the kirk, to bear
down his pride. Wha could hae told them that they were but frushing
their straw an' rotten wood against the iron scales o' Leviathan? An'
now that they hae dune their maist, the record o' Robert's mishanter is
lying in whity-brown ink yonder in a page o' the session-buik, while the
ballads hae sunk deep deep intil the very mind o' the country, and may
live there for hunders and hunders o' years."

"You seem to contrast, in this business," I said, "our better with what
you must deem our inferior clergy. You mean, do you not, the higher and
lower parties in our church? How are they getting on now?"

"Never worse," replied the old man; "an', oh, it's surely ill when the
ministers o' peace become the very leaders o' contention! But let the
blame rest in the right place. Peace is surely a blessing frae
Heaven--no a guid wark demanded frae man; an' when it grows our duty
to be in war, it's an ill thing to be in peace. Our Evangelicals are
stan'in', puir folk, whar their faithers stood; an' if they maun either
fight or be beaten frae their post, why, it's just their duty to fight.
But the Moderates are rinnin' mad a'thegither amang us: signing our auld
Confession, just that they may get intil the kirk to preach against it;
paring the New Testament doun to the vera standard o' heathen Plawto;
and sinking ae doctrine after anither, till they leave ahint naething
but deism that might scunner an infidel. Deed, Matthew, if there comena
a change among them, an' that sune, they'll swamp the puir kirk a'
thegither. The cauld morality that never made ony ane mair moral, taks
nae hand o' the people; an' patronage, as meikle's they roose it, winna
keep up either kirk or manse o' itsel. Sorry I am, sin' Robert has
entered on the quarrel at a', it suld hae been on the wrang side."

"One of my chief objections," I said, "to the religion of the Moderate
party is, that it is of no use."

"A gey serious ane," rejoined the old man; "but maybe there's a waur
still. I'm unco vexed for Robert, baith on his worthy faither's account
and his ain. He's a fearsome fellow when ance angered, but an honest,
warm-hearted chield for a' that; an' there's mair sense in yon big head
o' his, than in ony ither twa in the country."

"Can you tell me aught," said the north country gentleman, addressing my
companion, "of Mr. R----, the chapel minister in K----? I was once one
of his pupils in the far north; but I have heard nothing of him since he
left Cromarty."

"Why," rejoined the old man, "he's just the man that, mair nor a' the
rest, has borne the brunt o' Robert's fearsome waggery. Did ye ken him
in Cromarty, say ye?"

"He was parish schoolmaster there," said the gentleman, "for twelve
years; and for six of these I attended his school. I cannot help
respecting him; but no one ever loved him. Never surely was there a man
at once so unequivocally honest and so thoroughly unamiable."

"You must have found him a rigid disciplinarian," I said.

"He was the most so," he replied, "from the days of Dionysius, at least,
that ever taught a school. I remember there was a poor fisher boy among
us named Skinner, who, as is customary in Scottish schools, as you must
know, blew the horn for gathering the scholars, and kept the catalogue
and the key; and who, in return, was educated by the master, and
received some little gratuity from the scholars besides. On one
occasion, the key dropped out of his pocket; and, when school-time came,
the irascible dominie had to burst open the door with his foot. He raged
at the boy with a fury so insane, and beat him so unmercifully, that the
other boys, gathering heart in the extremity of the case, had to rise
_en masse_ and tear him out of his hands. But the curious part of the
story is yet to come: Skinner has been a fisherman for the last twelve
years; but never has he been seen disengaged, for a moment, from that
time to this, without mechanically thrusting his hand into the key
pocket."

Our companion furnished us with two or three other anecdotes of Mr.
R----. He told us of a lady who was so overcome by sudden terror on
unexpectedly seeing him, many years after she had quitted his school, in
one of the pulpits of the south, that she fainted away; and of another
of his scholars, named M'Glashan, a robust, daring fellow of six feet,
who, when returning to Cromarty from some of the colonies, solaced
himself by the way with thoughts of the hearty drubbing with which he
was to clear off all his old scores with the dominie.

"Ere his return, however," continued the gentleman, "Mr. R----
had quitted the parish; and, had it chanced otherwise, it is
questionable whether M'Glashan, with all his strength and courage, would
have gained anything in an encounter with one of the boldest and most
powerful men in the country."

Such were some of the chance glimpses which I gained, at this time, of
by far the most powerful of the opponents of Burns. He was a good,
conscientious man; but unfortunate in a harsh, violent temper, and in
sometimes mistaking, as my old townsman remarked, the dictates of that
temper for those of duty.


CHAPTER VI.

    "It's hardly in a body's pow'r
     To keep at times frae being sour,
         To see how things are shar'd--
     How best o' chiels are whiles in want,
     While coofs on countless thousands rant,
         And kenna how to wair't."--_Epistle to Davie._


I visited my friend, a few days after my arrival in Irvine, at the
farm-house of Mossgiel, to which, on the death of his father, he had
removed, with his brother Gilbert and his mother. I could not help
observing that his manners were considerably changed: my welcome seemed
less kind and hearty than I could have anticipated from the warm-hearted
peasant of five years ago, and there was a stern and almost supercilious
elevation in his bearing, which at first pained and offended me. I had
met with him as he was returning from the fields after the labours of
the day; the dusk of twilight had fallen; and, though I had calculated
on passing the evening with him at the farm-house of Mossgiel, so
displeased was I, that, after our first greeting, I had more than half
changed my mind. The recollection of his former kindness to me, however,
suspended the feeling, and I resolved on throwing myself on his
hospitality for the night, however cold the welcome.

"I have come all the way from Irvine to see you, Mr. Burns," I said.
"For the last five years, I have thought more of my mother and you than
of any other two persons in the country. May I not calculate, as of old,
on my supper and a bed?"

There was an instantaneous change in his expression.

"Pardon me, my friend," he said, grasping my hand; "I have, unwittingly,
been doing you wrong; one may surely be the master of an Indiaman and
in possession of a heart too honest to be spoiled by prosperity!"

The remark served to explain the haughty coldness of his manner which
had so displeased me, and which was but the unwillingly assumed armour
of a defensive pride.

"There, brother," he said, throwing down some plough irons which he
carried, "send _wee Davoc_ with these to the smithy, and bid him tell
Rankin I won't be there to-night. The moon is rising, Mr. Lindsay--shall
we not have a stroll together through the coppice?"

"That of all things," I replied; and, parting from Gilbert, we struck
into the wood.

The evening, considering the lateness of the season, for winter had set
in, was mild and pleasant. The moon at full was rising over the Cumnock
hills, and casting its faint light on the trees that rose around us, in
their winding-sheets of brown and yellow, like so many spectres, or
that, in the more exposed glares and openings of the wood, stretched
their long naked arms to the sky. A light breeze went rustling through
the withered grass; and I could see the faint twinkling of the falling
leaves, as they came showering down on every side of us.

"We meet in the midst of death and desolation," said my companion--"we
parted when all around us was fresh and beautiful. My father was with me
then, and--and Mary Campbell--and now"----

"Mary! your Mary!" I exclaimed--"the young--the beautiful--alas! is she
also gone?"

"She has left me," he said--"left me. Mary is in her grave!"

I felt my heart swell, as the image of that loveliest of creatures came
rising to my view in all her beauty, as I had seen her by the river
side; and I knew not what to reply.

"Yes," continued my friend, "she's in her grave;--we parted for a few
days, to re-unite, as we hoped, for ever; and, ere these few days had
passed, she was in her grave. But I was unworthy of her--unworthy even
then; and now---- But she is in her grave!"

I grasped his hand. "It is difficult," I said, "to _bid_ the heart
submit to these dispensations, and, oh, how utterly impossible to bring
it to _listen_! But life--_your_ life, my friend--must not be passed in
useless sorrow. I am convinced, and often have I thought of it since our
last meeting, that yours is no vulgar destiny--though I know not to what
it tends."

"Downwards!" he exclaimed--"it tends downwards;--I see, I feel it;--the
anchor of my affection is gone, and I drift shoreward on the rocks."

"'Twere ruin," I exclaimed, "to think so!"

"Not half an hour ere my father died," he continued, "he expressed a
wish to rise and sit once more in his chair; and we indulged him. But,
alas! the same feeling of uneasiness which had prompted the wish,
remained with him still, and he sought to return again to his bed. 'It
is not by quitting the bed or the chair,' he said, 'that I need seek for
ease: it is by quitting the body.' I am oppressed, Mr. Lindsay, by a
somewhat similar feeling of uneasiness, and, at times, would fain cast
the blame on the circumstances in which I am placed. But I may be as
far mistaken as my poor father. I would fain live at peace with all
mankind--nay, more, I would fain love and do good to them all; but the
villain and the oppressor come to set their feet on my very neck, and
crush me into the mire--and must I not resist? And when, in some
luckless hour, I yield to my passions--to those fearful passions that
must one day overwhelm me--when I yield, and my whole mind is darkened
by remorse, and I groan under the discipline of conscience, then comes
the odious, abominable hypocrite--the devourer of widows' houses and
the substance of the orphan--and demands that my repentance be as
public as his own hollow, detestable prayers. And can I do other than
resist and expose him? My heart tells me it was formed to bestow--why
else does every misery that I cannot relieve render me wretched? It
tells me, too, it was formed not to receive--why else does the proffered
assistance of even a friend fill my whole soul with indignation? But ill
do my circumstances agree with my feelings. I feel as if I were totally
misplaced in some frolic of nature, and wander onwards in gloom and
unhappiness, seeking for my proper sphere. But, alas! these efforts of
uneasy misery are but the blind gropings of Homer's Cyclops round the
walls of his cave."

I again began to experience, as on a former occasion, the o'ermastering
power of a mind larger beyond comparison than my own; but I felt it my
duty to resist the influence. "Yes, you are misplaced, my friend," I
said--"perhaps more decidedly so than any other man I ever knew; but is
not this characteristic, in some measure, of the whole species? We are
all misplaced; and it seems a part of the scheme of deity, that we
should work ourselves up to our proper sphere. In what other respect
does man so differ from the inferior animals as in those aspirations
which lead him through all the progressions of improvement, from the
lowest to the highest level of his nature?"

"That may be philosophy, my friend," he replied, "but a heart ill at
ease finds little of comfort in it. You knew my father: need I say he
was one of the excellent of the earth--a man who held directly from
God Almighty the patent of his honours? I saw that father sink
broken-hearted into the grave, the victim of legalized oppression--yes,
saw him overborne in the long contest which his high spirit and his
indomitable love of the right had incited him to maintain--overborne by
a mean, despicable scoundrel, one of the creeping things of the earth.
Heaven knows I did my utmost to assist in the struggle. In my fifteenth
year, Mr. Lindsay, when a thin, loose-jointed boy, I did the work of a
man, and strained my unknit and overtoiled sinews as if life and death
depended on the issue, till oft, in the middle of the night, I have had
to fling myself from my bed to avoid instant suffocation--an effect of
exertion so prolonged and so premature. Nor has the man exerted himself
less heartily than the boy--in the roughest, severest labours of the
field, I have never yet met a competitor. But my labours have been all
in vain--I have seen the evil bewailed by Solomon--the righteous man
falling down before the wicked." I could answer only with a sigh. "You
are in the right," he continued, after a pause, and in a more subdued
tone: "man is certainly misplaced--the present scene of things is below
the dignity of both his moral and intellectual nature. Look round
you--(we had reached the summit of a grassy eminence which rose over
the wood, and commanded a pretty extensive view of the surrounding
country)--see yonder scattered cottages, that, in the faint light, rise
dim and black amid the stubble fields--my heart warms as I look on them,
for I know how much of honest worth, and sound, generous feeling
shelters under these roof-trees. But why so much of moral excellence
united to a mere machinery for ministering to the ease and luxury of a
few of, perhaps, the least worthy of our species--creatures so spoiled
by prosperity that the claim of a common nature has no force to move
them, and who seem as miserably misplaced as the myriads whom they
oppress?"

    "If I'm designed yon lordling's slave--
       By nature's law designed--
     Why was an independent wish
       E'er planted in my mind?

     If not, why am I subject to
       His cruelty and scorn?
     Or why has man the will and power
       To make his fellow mourn?"

"I would hardly know what to say in return, my friend," I rejoined, "did
not you, yourself, furnish me with the reply. You are groping on in
darkness, and it may be unhappiness, for your proper sphere; but it
is in obedience to a great though occult law of our nature--a law,
general as it affects the species, in its course of onward
progression--particular, and infinitely more irresistible, as it
operates on every truly superior intellect. There are men born to wield
the destinies of nations--nay, more, to stamp the impression of their
thoughts and feelings on the mind of the whole civilized world. And by
what means do we often find them roused to accomplish their appointed
work? At times hounded on by sorrow and suffering, and thus in the
design of providence, that there may be less of sorrow and suffering in
the world ever after--at times roused by cruel and maddening oppression,
that the oppressor may perish in his guilt, and a whole country enjoy
the blessings of freedom. If Wallace had not suffered from tyranny,
Scotland would not have been free."

"But how apply the remark?" said my companion.

"Robert Burns," I replied, again grasping his hand, "yours, I am
convinced, is no vulgar destiny. Your griefs, your sufferings, your
errors even, the oppressions you have seen and felt, the thoughts which
have arisen in your mind, the feelings and sentiments of which it has
been the subject, are, I am convinced, of infinitely more importance in
their relation to your country than to yourself. You are, wisely and
benevolently, placed far below your level, that thousands and ten
thousands of your countrymen may be the better enabled to attain to
theirs. Assert the dignity of manhood and of genius, and there will be
less of wrong and oppression in the world ever after."

I spent the remainder of the evening in the farm-house of Mossgiel, and
took the coach next morning for Liverpool.


CHAPTER VII.

    "His is that language of the heart
       In which the answering heart would speak--
     Thought, word, that bids the warm tear start,
       Or the smile light up the cheek;
     And his that music to whose tone
       The common pulse of man keeps time,
     In cot or castle's mirth or moan,
       In cold or sunny clime."--_American poet._


The love of literature, when once thoroughly awakened in a reflective
mind, can never after cease to influence it. It first assimilates our
intellectual part to those fine intellects which live in the world of
books, and then renders our connection with them indispensable, by
laying hold of that social principle of our nature which ever leads us
to the society of our fellows as our proper sphere of enjoyment. My
early habits, by heightening my tone of thought and feeling, had tended
considerably to narrow my circle of companionship. My profession, too,
had led me to be much alone; and now that I had been several years the
master of an Indiaman, I was quite as fond of reading, and felt as deep
an interest in whatever took place in the literary world, as when a
student at St. Andrew's. There was much in the literature of the period
to gratify my pride as a Scotchman. The despotism, both political and
religious, which had overlaid the energies of our country for more than
a century, had long been removed, and the national mind had swelled and
expanded under a better system of things, till its influence had become
co-extensive with civilized man. Hume had produced his inimitable
history, and Adam Smith his wonderful work, which was to revolutionise
and new-model the economy of all the governments of the earth. And
there, in my little library, were the histories of Henry and Robertson,
the philosophy of Kaimes and Reid, the novels of Smollett and Mackenzie,
and the poetry of Beattie and Home. But, if there was no lack of
Scottish intellect in the literature of the time, there was a decided
lack of Scottish manners; and I knew too much of my humble countrymen
not to regret it. True, I had before me the writings of Ramsay and my
unfortunate friend Ferguson; but there was a radical meanness in the
first that lowered the tone of his colouring far beneath the freshness
of truth, and the second, whom I had seen perish--too soon, alas! for
literature and his country--had given us but a few specimens of his
power when his hand was arrested for ever.

My vessel, after a profitable, though somewhat tedious voyage, had again
arrived in Liverpool. It was late in December, 1786, and I was passing
the long evening in my cabin, engaged with a whole sheaf of pamphlets
and magazines which had been sent me from the shore. _The Lounger_ was,
at this time, in course of publication. I had ever been an admirer of
the quiet elegance and exquisite tenderness of Mackenzie; and, though I
might not be quite disposed to think, with Johnson, that "the chief
glory of every people arises from its authors," I certainly felt all
the prouder of my country, from the circumstance that so accomplished
a writer was one of my countrymen. I had read this evening some of the
more recent numbers, half disposed to regret, however, amid all the
pleasure they afforded me, that the Addison of Scotland had not done for
the manners of his country what his illustrious prototype had done for
those of England, when my eye fell on the ninety-seventh number. I read
the introductory sentences, and admired their truth and elegance. I had
felt, in the contemplation of supereminent genius, the pleasure which
the writer describes, and my thoughts reverted to my two friends--the
dead and the living. "In the view of highly superior talents, as in
that of great and stupendous objects," says the essayist, "there is a
sublimity which fills the soul with wonder and delight--which expands
it, as it were, beyond its usual bounds, and which, investing our nature
with extraordinary powers and extraordinary honours, interests our
curiosity and flatters our pride."

I read on with increasing interest. It was evident, from the tone of the
introduction, that some new luminary had arisen in the literary horizon,
and I felt somewhat like a schoolboy when, at his first play, he waits
for the drawing up of the curtain. And the curtain at length rose. "The
person," continues the essayist, "to whom I allude"--and he alludes to
him as a genius of no ordinary class--"is Robert Burns, an Ayrshire
ploughman." The effect on my nerves seemed electrical; I clapped my
hands, and sprung from my seat: "Was I not certain of it! Did I not
foresee it!" I exclaimed. "My noble-minded friend, Robert Burns!" I ran
hastily over the warm-hearted and generous critique, so unlike the cold,
timid, equivocal notices with which the professional critic has greeted,
on their first appearance, so many works destined to immortality. It was
Mackenzie, the discriminating, the classical, the elegant, who assured
me that the productions of this "heaven-taught ploughman were fraught
with the high-toned feeling and the power and energy of expression
characteristic of the mind and voice of the poet"--with the solemn, the
tender, the sublime; that they contained images of pastoral beauty which
no other writer had ever surpassed, and strains of wild humour which
only the higher masters of the lyre had ever equalled; and that the
genius displayed in them seemed not less admirable in tracing the
manners than in painting the passions, or in drawing the scenery of
nature. I flung down the essay, ascended to the deck in three huge
strides, leaped ashore, and reached my bookseller's as he was shutting
up for the night.

"Can you furnish me with a copy of Burns' Poems," I said, "either for
love or money?"

"I have but one copy left," replied the man, "and here it is."

I flung down a guinea. "The change," I said, "I shall get when I am less
in a hurry."

'Twas late that evening ere I remembered that 'tis customary to spend at
least part of the night in bed. I read on and on with a still increasing
astonishment and delight, laughing and crying by turns. I was quite in a
new world; all was fresh and unsoiled--the thoughts, the descriptions,
the images--as if the volume I read was the first that had ever been
written; and yet all was easy and natural, and appealed, with a truth
and force irresistible, to the recollections I cherished most fondly.
Nature and Scotland met me at every turn. I had admired the polished
compositions of Pope, and Gray, and Collins, though I could not
sometimes help feeling that, with all the exquisite art they displayed,
there was a little additional art wanting still. In most cases the
scaffolding seemed incorporated with the structure which it had served
to rear; and, though certainly no scaffolding could be raised on surer
principles, I could have wished that the ingenuity which had been tasked
to erect it, had been exerted a little further in taking it down. But
the work before me was evidently the production of a greater artist; not
a fragment of the scaffolding remained--not so much as a mark to show
how it had been constructed. The whole seemed to have risen like an
exhalation, and, in this respect, reminded me of the structures of
Shakspeare alone. I read the inimitable "Twa Dogs." Here, I said, is the
full and perfect realization of what Swift and Dryden were hardy enough
to attempt, but lacked genius to accomplish. Here are dogs--_bona fide_
dogs--endowed indeed with more than human sense and observation, but
true to character, as the most honest and attached of quadrupeds, in
every line. And then those exquisite touches which the poor man, inured
to a life of toil and poverty, can alone rightly understand! and those
deeply-based remarks on character, which only the philosopher can justly
appreciate! This is the true catholic poetry, which addresses itself not
to any little circle, walled in from the rest of the species by some
peculiarity of thought, prejudice, or condition, but to the whole human
family. I read on:--"The Holy Fair," "Hallow E'en," "The Vision," the
"Address to the Deil," engaged me by turns; and then the strange,
uproarious, unequalled "Death and Dr. Hornbook." This, I said, is
something new in the literature of the world. Shakspeare possessed above
all men the power of instant and yet natural transition, from the
lightly gay to the deeply pathetic--from the wild to the humorous; but
the opposite states of feeling which he induces, however close the
neighbourhood, are ever distinct and separate; the oil and the water,
though contained in the same vessel, remain apart. Here, however, for
the first time, they mix and incorporate, and yet each retains its whole
nature and full effect. I need hardly remind the reader that the feat
has been repeated, and even with more completeness, in the wonderful,
"Tam o' Shanter." I read on. "The Cotter's Saturday Night" filled my
whole soul--my heart throbbed and my eyes moistened; and never before
did I feel half so proud of my country, or know half so well on what
score it was I did best in feeling proud. I had perused the entire
volume from beginning to end, ere I remembered I had not taken supper,
and that it was more than time to go to bed.

But it is no part of my plan to furnish a critique on the poems of my
friend. I merely strive to recall the thoughts and feelings which my
first perusal of them awakened, and thus only as a piece of mental
history. Several months elapsed from this evening ere I could hold them
out from me sufficiently at arms' length, as it were, to judge of their
more striking characteristics. At times the amazing amount of thought,
feeling, and imagery which they contained--their wonderful continuity of
idea, without gap or interstice--seemed to me most to distinguish them.
At times they reminded me, compared with the writings of smoother poets,
of a collection of medals which, unlike the thin polished coin of the
kingdom, retained all the significant and pictorial roughness of the
original die. But when, after the lapse of weeks, months, years, I found
them rising up in my heart on every occasion, as naturally as if they
had been the original language of all my feelings and emotions--when I
felt that, instead of remaining outside my mind, as it were, like the
writings of other poets, they had so amalgamated themselves with my
passions, my sentiments, my ideas, that they seemed to have become
portions of my very self--I was led to a final conclusion regarding
them. Their grand distinguishing characteristic is their unswerving and
perfect truth. The poetry of Shakspeare is the mirror of life--that of
Burns the expressive and richly modulated voice of human nature.


CHAPTER VIII.

     "Burns was a poor man from his birth, and an exciseman from
     necessity; but--I _will say_ it!--the sterling of his honest
     worth, poverty could not debase; and his independent British
     spirit oppression might bend, but could not subdue."--_Letter
     to Mr. Graham_.


I have been listening for the last half hour to the wild music of an
Eolian harp. How exquisitely the tones rise and fall!--now sad, now
solemn--now near, now distant. The nerves thrill, the heart softens, the
imagination awakes as we listen. What if that delightful instrument be
animated by a living soul, and these finely-modulated tones be but the
expression of its feelings! What if these dying, melancholy cadences,
which so melt and sink into the heart, be--what we may so naturally
interpret them--the melodious sinkings of a deep-seated and hopeless
unhappiness! Nay, the fancy is too wild for even a dream. But are there
none of those fine analogies, which run through the whole of nature and
the whole of art, to sublime it into truth? Yes, _there have_ been such
living harps among us; beings, the tones of whose sentiments, the melody
of whose emotions, the cadences of whose sorrows, remain to thrill, and
delight, and humanize our souls. They seem born for others, not for
themselves. Alas, for the hapless companion of my early youth! Alas, for
him, the pride of his country, the friend of my maturer manhood!--But my
narrative lags in its progress.

My vessel lay in the Clyde for several weeks during the summer of 1794,
and I found time to indulge myself in a brief tour along the western
coasts of the kingdom, from Glasgow to the Borders. I entered Dumfries
in a calm, lovely evening, and passed along one of the principal
streets. The shadows of the houses on the western side were stretched
half-way across the pavement, while, on the side opposite, the bright
sunshine seemed sleeping on the jutting irregular fronts, and high
antique gables. There seemed a world of well-dressed company this
evening in town; and I learned, on inquiry, that all the aristocracy of
the adjacent country, for twenty miles round, had come in to attend a
county ball. They went fluttering along the sunny side of the street,
gay as butterflies--group succeeding group. On the opposite side, in the
shade, a solitary individual was passing slowly along the pavement. I
knew him at a glance. It was the first poet, perhaps the greatest man,
of his age and country. But why so solitary? It had been told me that he
ranked among his friends and associates many of the highest names in the
kingdom, and yet to-night not one of the hundreds who fluttered past
appeared inclined to recognise him. He seemed too--but perhaps fancy
misled me--as if care-worn and dejected; pained, perhaps, that not one
among so many of the _great_ should have humility enough to notice a
poor exciseman. I stole up to him unobserved, and tapped him on the
shoulder; there was a decided fierceness in his manner as he turned
abruptly round, but, as he recognised me, his expressive countenance
lighted up in a moment, and I shall never forget the heartiness with
which he grasped my hand.

We quitted the streets together for the neighbouring fields, and, after
the natural interchange of mutual congratulations--"How is it," I
inquired, "that you do not seem to have a single acquaintance among all
the gay and great of the country?"

"I lie under quarantine," he replied; "tainted by the plague of
liberalism. There is not one of the hundreds we passed to-night whom I
could not once reckon among my intimates."

The intelligence stunned and irritated me. "How infinitely absurd!" I
said. "Do they dream of sinking you into a common man?"

"Even so," he rejoined. "Do they not all know I have been a gauger for
the last five years!"

The fact had both grieved and incensed me long before. I knew, too, that
Pye enjoyed his salary as poet laureate of the time, and Dibdin, the
song writer, his pension of two hundred a-year, and I blushed for my
country.

"Yes," he continued--the ill-assumed coolness of his manner giving way
before his highly excited feelings--"they have assigned me my place
among the mean and the degraded, as their best patronage; and only
yesterday, after an official threat of instant dismission, I was told
it was my business to act, not to think. God help me! what have I done
to provoke such bitter insult? I have ever discharged my miserable
duty--discharged it, Mr. Lindsay, however repugnant to my feelings,
as an honest man; and though there awaited me no promotion, I was
silent. The wives or sisters of those whom they advanced over me had
bastards to some of the ---- family, and so their influence was
necessarily greater than mine. But now they crush me into the very dust.
I take an interest in the struggles of the slave for his freedom; I
express my opinions as if I myself were a free man; and they threaten
to starve me and my children if I dare so much as speak or think."

I expressed my indignant sympathy in a few broken sentences; and he went
on with kindling animation:--

"Yes, they would fain crush me into the very dust! They cannot forgive
me, that, being born a man, I should walk erect according to my nature.
Mean-spirited and despicable themselves, they can tolerate only the
mean-spirited and the despicable; and were I not so entirely in their
power, Mr. Lindsay, I could regard them with the proper contempt. But
the wretches can starve me and my children--and they _know_ it; nor does
it mend the matter that I _know_ in turn, what pitiful, miserable,
little creatures they are. What care I for the butterflies of
to-night?--they passed me without the honour of their notice; and I, in
turn, suffered them to pass without the honour of mine; and I am more
than quits. Do I not know that they and I are going on to the fulfilment
of our several destinies?--they to sleep, in the obscurity of their
native insignificance, with the pismires and grasshoppers of all the
past, and I to be whatever the millions of my unborn countrymen shall
yet decide. Pitiful little insects of an hour! what is their notice to
me! But I bear a heart, Mr. Lindsay, that can feel the pain of treatment
so unworthy; and I must confess it moves me. One cannot always live upon
the future, divorced from the sympathies of the present. One cannot
always solace one's self under the grinding despotism that would
fetter one's very thoughts, with the conviction, however assured, that
posterity will do justice both to the oppressor and the oppressed. I am
sick at heart; and were it not for the poor little things that depend so
entirely on my exertions, I could as cheerfully lay me down in the grave
as I ever did in bed after the fatigues of a long day's labour. Heaven
help me! I am miserably unfitted to struggle with even the natural evils
of existence--how much more so when these are multiplied and exaggerated
by the proud, capricious inhumanity of man!"

"There is a miserable lack of right principle and right feeling," I
said, "among our upper classes in the present day; but, alas for poor
human nature! it has ever been so, and, I am afraid, ever will. And
there is quite as much of it in savage as in civilized life. I have seen
the exclusive aristocratic spirit, with its one-sided injustice, as
rampant in a wild isle of the Pacific as I ever saw it among ourselves."

"'Tis slight comfort," said my friend, with a melancholy smile, "to be
assured, when one's heart bleeds from the cruelty or injustice of our
fellows, that man is naturally cruel and unjust, and not less so as a
savage than when better taught. I knew you, Mr. Lindsay, when you were
younger and less fortunate; but you have now reached that middle term of
life when man naturally takes up the Tory and lays down the Whig; nor
has there been aught in your improving circumstances to retard the
change; and so you rest in the conclusion that, if the weak among us
suffer from the tyranny of the strong, 'tis because human nature is so
constituted, and the case therefore cannot be helped."

"Pardon me, Mr. Burns," I said, "I am not quite so finished a Tory as
that amounts to."

"I am not one of those fanciful declaimers," he continued, "who set out
on the assumption that man is free-born. I am too well assured of the
contrary. Man is not free-born. The earlier period of his existence,
whether as a puny child or the miserable denizen of an uninformed and
barbarous state, is one of vassalage and subserviency. He is not born
free, he is not born rational, he is not born virtuous; he is born to
_become_ all these. And woe to the sophist who, with arguments drawn
from the unconfirmed constitution of his childhood, would strive to
render his imperfect, because immature, state of pupilage a permanent
one! We are yet far below the level of which our nature is capable, and
possess in consequence but a small portion of the liberty which it is
the destiny of our species to enjoy. And 'tis time our masters should be
taught so. You will deem me a wild Jacobin, Mr. Lindsay; but persecution
has the effect of making a man extreme in these matters. Do help me to
curse the scoundrels!--my business to act, not to think!"

We were silent for several minutes.

"I have not yet thanked you, Mr. Burns," I at length said, "for the most
exquisite pleasure I ever enjoyed. You have been my companion for the
last eight years."

His countenance brightened.

"Ah, here I am boring you with my miseries and my ill-nature," he
replied; "but you must come along with me and see the bairns and Jean;
and some of the best songs I ever wrote. It will go hard if we hold not
care at the staff's end for at least one evening. You have not yet seen
my stone punch-bowl, nor my Tam o'Shanter, nor a hundred other fine
things beside. And yet, vile wretch that I am, I am sometimes so
unconscionable as to be unhappy with them all. But come along."

We spent this evening together with as much of happiness as it has ever
been my lot to enjoy. Never was there a fonder father than Burns, a more
attached husband, or a warmer friend. There was an exuberance of love
in his large heart, that encircled in its flow, relatives, friends,
associates, his country, the world; and, in his kinder moods, the
sympathetic influence which he exerted over the hearts of others seemed
magical. I laughed and cried this evening by turns; I was conscious of
a wider and warmer expansion of feeling than I had ever experienced
before; my very imagination seemed invigorated by breathing, as it were,
in the same atmosphere with his. We parted early next morning--and when
I again visited Dumfries, I went and wept over his grave. Forty years
have now passed since his death, and in that time many poets have arisen
to achieve a rapid and brilliant celebrity; but they seem the meteors of
a lower sky; the flush passes hastily from the expanse, and we see but
one great light looking steadily upon us from above. It is Burns who is
exclusively the poet of his country. Other writers inscribe their names
on the plaster which covers for the time the outside structure of
society; his is engraved, like that of the Egyptian architect, on the
ever-during granite within. The fame of the others rises and falls with
the uncertain undulations of the mode on which they have reared it;
his remains fixed and permanent, as the human nature on which it is
based. Or, to borrow the figures Johnson employs in illustrating the
unfluctuating celebrity of a scarcely greater poet--"The sand heaped by
one flood is scattered by another, but the rock always continues in its
place. The stream of time, which is continually washing the dissoluble
fabrics of other poets, passes, without injury, by the adamant of
Shakspeare."



THE PROFESSOR'S TALES.

THE CONVIVIALISTS.


We must introduce our readers, with an apology for our abruptness, into
a party of about half-a-dozen young gallants, who had evidently been
making deep and frequent libations at the shrine of Bacchus. The loud
bursts of hearty laughter which rang round the room like so many triple
bobmajors, the leering eyes, the familiar diminutives with which the
various parties addressed each other, and the frequent locking of hands
together in a grasp the force of which was meant to express an ardour of
social friendship which words were too weak to convey--all showed that
the symposiasts had cleared the fences which prudence or selfishness set
up in the sober intercourse of life, and were now, with loosened reins,
spurring away over the free wild fields of fancy and fun. An immense
quantity of walnut-shells--which the mercurial compotators had been
amusing themselves by throwing at each other--lay scattered about the
table and on the floor; two or three shivered wine glasses had been
shoved into the centre of the table, the fragments glittering upon a
pile of glorious Woodvilles, all speckled over, like Jacob's sheep; each
man had one of the weeds stuck rakishly in the corner of his mouth, and
was knocking off the ashes upon his deviled biscuits; and, to the right
of the president's chair, a long straggling regiment of empty bottles
gave dumb but eloquent proof of the bibulous capabilities of the
company. Each man was talking vehemently to his neighbour, and every one
for himself; in order, as a wag among them said, to get through the
work quickly, and jump at once to a conclusion. They were, as Sheridan
has it, "arguing in platoons." There was one exception, however, to the
boisterous mirth of the convivialists, in the person of Frank Elliot, in
celebration of whose obtaining his medical degree the feast had been
given. He was leaning back in his chair, gazing, with a slight curl
of contempt on his lip, at the rude glee of his associates. He had
distinguished himself so highly among his fellow-students, that one of
the professors had, in the ceremony of the morning, singled him out,
before all his contemporaries, with the highest eulogiums, and had
predicted, in the most flattering manner, his certain celebrity in his
profession. Perhaps the natural vanity which these public honours had
created, the bright prospect which lay before him, and his being less
excited than his companions--caused him to turn, with disgust, from the
silly ribaldry and weak witticisms which circled round his table. Amid
the uproar his silence was for some time unheeded; but at length Harry
Whitaker, his old college chum, now lieutenant in his Majesty's navy,
and with a considerable portion of broad sailor's humour and slang,
observed it, and slapping him roundly on the back, cried, "Hilloa,
Frank! what are you dodging about?--quizzing the rig of your convoy,
because they have too much light duck set to walk steadily through the
water?"

"Frank! why, isn't he asleep all this time? I haven't heard his voice
this half hour," exclaimed another.

    "'Parce meum, quisquis tanges cava marmora somnum
      Rumpere; sive bibas, sive lavere, tace,'"

said Elliot beseechingly.

"Come, come," said Harry, "none of your heathenish lingo over the
mahogany. Boys! I move that Frank be made to swallow a tumbler of port
for using bad language, and to make him fit company for the rest of us
honest fellows."

"_Fiat experimentum in corpore vili_," squeaked a first year medical
student, shoving the lighted end of his cigar, by mistake, into his
mouth when he had delivered his sentence, and then springing up and
sputtering out a mighty oath and a quantity of hot tobacco ashes.

"Ashes to ashes," cried Harry, filling up a tumbler to the brim; "we'll
let you off this time, as you're a fire-eater; but rally round, lads,
and see this land shark swallow his grog."

"Nay, but, my friends"----began Frank, seeing, with horror,
that the party had gathered round him, and that Harry held the glass
inexorably in his mouth.

"Get a gag rigged," shouted the young sailor; "we'll find a way into his
grog shop."

"Upon my word, Whitaker," said Frank, with a ludicrous intonation of
voice, between real anger and distress, "this is too hard on one who has
filled fairly from the first--to punish him without an inquiry into the
justice of the case."

"Jeddart justice--hang first, and judge after!" roared a student from
the sylvan banks of the Jed.

"No freeman can, under any pretence," hiccupped a young advocate, who
was unable to rise from his chair, "be condemned, except by the legal
decision of his peers, or by the law of the land. So sayeth the Magna
Charta--King John--(_hic_)--right of all free-born Englishmen--including
thereby all inhabitants of Great Britain, incorporated at the
Union--_hic_--and Ireland."

Whitaker set the tumbler down in despair, finding that his companions,
like the generality of raw students, were so completely wedded to their
pedantry, that the fine, if insisted on, would have to go all round.

"Let's have a song, Rhimeson," cried Frank, very glad to escape from
his threatened bumper, and still fearful that it might be insisted upon,
"a song extempore, as becomes a poet in his cups, and in thine own vein;
for what says Spenser?--

    'For Bacchus' fruit is friend to Phoebus wise;
     And when, with wine, the brain begins to sweat,
     The numbers flow as fast as spring doth rise.'"

"By Jove, boys! you shall have it," cried Rhimeson, filling his glass
with unsteady hand, and muttering, from the same prince of poets--

    "'Who can counsell a thirstie soule,
      With patience to forbeare the offred bowle?'"

"That is the pure well of English undefiled, old fellows, and so here
goes--'The Lass we Love!'

      TUNE--'_Duncan Davison._'

    "Come, fill your glass, my trusty friend,
     And fill it sparkling to the brim--
     A flowing bumper, bright and strong--
     And push the bottle back again;
     For what is man without his drink?
     An oyster prison'd in his shell;
     A rushlight in the vaults of death;
     A rattlesnake without his tail.

                CHORUS.

        This world, we know, is full of cares,
        And sorrow darkens every day;
        But wine and love shall be the stars
        To light us on our weary way.

     Beyond yon hills there lives a lass,
     Her name I dare not even speak;
     The wine that sparkles in my glass
     Was ne'er so rosy as her cheek.
     Her neck is clearer than the spring
     That streams the water lilies on;
     So, here's to her I long have loved--
     The fairest flower in Albion.

     Let knaves and fools this world divide,
     As they have done since Adam's time;
     Let misers by their hoards abide,
     And poets weave their rotten rhyme;
     But ye, who, in an hour like this,
     Feel every pulse to rapture move,
     Fill high! each lip the goblet kiss--
     The pledge shall be--'The Lass we Love!'"

After a good deal of roaritorious applause, the young gentlemen began to
act upon the hint contained in the song, and each to give, as a toast,
the lady of his heart. When it came to Elliot's turn, he declared he was
unable to fulfil the conditions of the toast, as there was not a woman
in the world for whom he had the slightest predilection.

"Why, thou personified snowball! thou human icicle!" cried Whitaker.

"Say an avalanche," interrupted Frank; "for, when once my heart is
shaken, it will be as irresistible in its course as one of these
'thunderbolts of snow.'"

"Still, it's nothing but cold snow, for all that," cried Harry.

"Who talks of Frank Elliot and love in the same breath?" cried Rhimeson;
"why, his heart is like a rock, and love, like a torpid serpent,
enclosed in it."

"True," replied Frank; "but, you know, these same serpents sting as hard
as ever when once they get into the open air; besides, love, as the
shepherd in Virgil discovered, is an inhabitant of the rocks."

"Confound the fellow! he's a walking apothegm--as consequential as a
syllogism!" muttered Harry; "but come now, Frank, let us have the
inexpressive she, without backing and filling any longer."

"Upon my word, Harry, it is out of my power; but, in a few weeks, I hope
to"----said Elliot.

"Hope, Frank, hope, my good fellow, is a courtier very pleasant and
agreeable in his conversation, but very much given to forget his
promises. But I'll tell you, Frank, since you won't give a toast, I
will, because I know it will punish you--so, gentlemen"----

The toast was only suited for the meridian of the place in which it
was given, and we will, therefore, be excused from repeating it. But
Whitaker had judged rightly that he had punished his friend, who,
from the strictness of his education, and a certain delicacy in his
opinions respecting women, could never tolerate the desecration of these
opinions by the libertine ribaldry which forms so great a part of the
conversation of many men after the first bottle. Frank's brow darkened,
his keen eye turned with a glance of indignation to Harry; and he was
prevented only by the circumstance of being in his own house, from
instantly kicking him out of the room.

"Look at Frank now, gentles," continued the young sailor, when the mirth
had subsided; "his face is as long as a ropewalk, while every one of
yours is as broad as the main hatchway. He has a reverence for women as
great as I have for my own tight, clean, sprightly craft; but because a
fellow kicks one of my loose spars, or puts it to a base use, I'm not to
quarrel with him, as if he had called my vessel a collier, eh? Frank, my
good fellow, you're too sober; you're thinking too much of yourself;
you're looking at the world with convex glasses; and thus the world
seems little--you yourself only great; but, recollect, everybody looks
through a convex glass; and that's vanity, Frank:--there, now! the
murder's out."

"Nay, Harry," cried Rhimeson, good-naturedly; for he saw Elliot's nether
lip grow white with suppressed passion; "don't push Frank too hard, for
charity's sake."

"Charity, to be sure!" interrupted Harry; "but consider what I must have
suffered if I had not got that dead weight pitched overboard. I was
labouring in the trough, man, and would have foundered with that spite
in my hold. Charity begins at home."

"'Tis a pity that the charity of many persons ends there too," said
Frank drily.

"Frank's wit is like the King of Prussia's regiment of death," said the
young seaman--"it gives no quarter. But come now, my lads, rig me out a
female craft fit for that snow-blooded youngster to go captain of in the
voyage of matrimony; do it shipshape, and bear a hand. I would try it
myself; but the room looks, to my eyes, as it were filled with dancing
logarithms; and then he's so cold, slow, misty-hearted"----

"That if," cried Rhimeson, interrupting him, "he addresses a lady as
cold, slow, and misty-hearted as himself, they may go on courting the
whole course of their natural lives, like the assymptotes of a
hyperbola, which approach nearer and nearer, _ad infinitum_, without
the possibility of ever meeting."

"Ha, ha, ha!--ay," shouted Harry; "and if he addresses one of a sanguine
temperament, there will be a pretty considerable traffic of quarrels
carried on between them, typified and illustrated very well by the
constant commerce of heat which is maintained between the poles and the
equator, by the agency of opposite currents in the atmosphere. By Jove!
Frank, matrimony presents the fire of two batteries at you; one rakes
you fore and aft, and the other strikes between wind and water."

"And pray, Harry, what sort of a consort will you sail with yourself?"
inquired Rhimeson. This was, perhaps, a question, of all others, that
the young sailor would have wished to avoid answering at that time. He
was the accepted lover of the sister of his friend Elliot--and, at the
moment he was running Frank down, to be, as he himself might have said,
brought up standing, was sufficiently disagreeable.

"Come, come, Harry," cried the young poet, seeing the sailor hesitate;
"let's have her from skysail-mast fid to keel--from starboard to
larboard stunsails--from the tip of the flying, jib-boom to the
taffrail."

"They're all fireships, Rhimeson!" replied Harry, with forced
gaiety--for he was indignant at Elliot's keen and suspicious
glance--"and, if I do come near them, it shall always be to windward,
for the Christian purpose of blowing them out of the water."

"A libertine," said Frank, significantly, "reviles women just in the
same way that licentious priests lay the blame of the disrespect with
which parsons are treated on the irreligion of the laity."

"I don't understand either your wit or your manner, Frank," replied
Harry, giving a lurch in his chair; "but this I know, that I don't care
a handful of shakings for either of them; and I say still, that women
are all fireships--keep to windward of them--pretty things to try your
young gunners at; but, if you close with them, you're gone, that's all."

"I'll tell you what you're very like, just now, Harry," said Frank--who
had been pouring down glass after glass of wine, as if to quench his
anger--"you're just like a turkey cock after his head has been cut off,
which will keep stalking on in the same gait for several yards before he
drops."

"Elliot! do you mean to insult me?" cried Whitaker, springing furiously
from his seat.

"I leave that to the decision of your own incomparable judgment, sir,"
replied Elliot, bowing, with a sneer just visible on his features.

"If I thought so, Frank, I would----but it's impossible; you
are my oldest friend." And the young sailor sat down with a moody brow.

"What would you, sir?" said Elliot, in a tone of calm contempt; "bear
it meekly, I presume? Nay, do not look big, and clench your hands, sir,
unless, like Bob Acres, you feel your valour oozing out at your palms,
and are striving to retain it!"

"I'll tell you what, Elliot," cried the young sailor, again springing to
his feet, and seizing a decanter of wine by the neck, "I don't know what
prevents me from driving this at your head."

"It would be quite in keeping with the rest of your gentlemanly conduct,
sir," replied Frank, still keeping his seat, and looking at Harry with
the most cool and provoking derision; "but I'll tell you why you
don't--you dare not!"

"But that you are Harriet Elliot's brother"----began Harry,
furiously.

"Scoundrel!" thundered Elliot, rising suddenly, and making a stride
towards the young sailor, while the veins of his brow protruded like
lines of cordage; "utter that name again, before me, with these
blasphemous lips"----

Elliot had scarce, however, let fall the opprobrious epithet, ere the
decanter flew, with furious force, from Whitaker's hand, and, narrowly
missing Frank's head, was shivered on the wall beyond.

In a moment the young sailor was in the nervous grasp of Frank, who,
apparently without the slightest exertion of his vast strength, lifted
up the comparatively slight form of Whitaker, and laid him on his back
on the floor.

"Be grateful, sir," said he, pressing the prostrate youth firmly down
with one hand; "be grateful to the laws of hospitality, which, though
you may think it a slight matter to violate, prevent me from striking
you in my own house, or pitching you out of the window. Rise, sir, and
begone."

Harry rose slowly; and it was almost fearful to see the change which
passion had wrought in a few moments on his features. The red flush of
drunken rage was entirely gone, and the livid cheek, the pale quivering
lip, and collected eye, which had usurped its place, showed that the
degradation he had just undergone had completely sobered him, and given
his passion a new but more malignant character. He stood for a brief
period in moody silence, whilst the rest of the young men closed round
him and Frank, with the intention of reconciling them. At length he
moved away towards the door, pushing his friends rudely aside; but
turning, before he left the room, he said, in a voice trembling with
suppressed emotion--

"I hope to meet Mr. Elliot where his mere brute strength will be laid
aside for more honourable and equitable weapons."

"I shall be happy, at any place or time, to show my sense of Mr.
Whitaker's late courtesy," replied Frank, bowing slightly, and then
drawing up his magnificent figure to its utmost height.

"Let it be _now_, then, sir," said the young sailor, stepping back into
the centre of the room, and pointing to a brace of sharps, which, among
foils and masks, hung on one of the walls.

"Oh, no, no!--for God's sake, not now!" burst from every one except
Frank.

"It can neither be now nor here, sir," replied he, firmly, motioning
Whitaker haughtily to the door.

"Gentlemen," said Harry, turning round to his friends with a loud laugh
of derision, "you see that vanity is stronger than valour. Pompey's
troops were beaten at the battle of Pharsalia, only because they were
afraid of their pretty faces. Upon my soul, I believe Mr. Elliot's
handsome features stand in the way of his gallantry."

"Begone, trifler!" cried Frank, relapsing into fury.

"Coward!" shouted the young sailor at the top of his voice.

"Ha!" exclaimed Elliot, starting, as if an adder had stung him; then,
with a convulsive effort controlling his rage, he took down the swords,
threw one of them upon the table, and putting his arm into Rhimeson's,
beckoned the young sailor to follow him, and left the apartment. As it
was in vain that the remainder of the young men attempted to restrain
Whitaker, they agreed to accompany him in a body, in order, if possible,
to prevent mischief; all but the young advocate whom we have before
mentioned, who, having too great a respect for the law to patronise
other methods of redressing grievances, ran off to secure the assistance
of the city authorities.

The moon, which had been wading among thick masses of clouds, emerged
into the clear blue sky, and scattered her silver showers of light on
the rocks and green sides of Arthur's Seat, as the young men reached a
secluded part in the valley at its foot.

"Gracious Heaven!" exclaimed the young poet to Frank, as they turned to
wait for Whitaker and his companions, "how horrible it is to desecrate
a scene and hour like this by violence--perhaps, Elliot, by _murder_!"
Frank did not reply; his thoughts were at that time with his aged mother
and his now unprotected sister; and he bitterly reflected that to
whoever of them, in the approaching contest, wounds or death might fall,
poor Harriet would have equally to suffer. But the young sailor, still
boiling with rage, at that moment approached, and throwing his cloak on
a rock, cried, "Now, sir!" and placed himself in attitude.

Their swords crossed, and, for a brief space, nothing was heard but the
hard breathing of the spectators and the clashing of the steel, as the
well-practised combatants parried each other's thrusts. Elliot was,
incomparably, the cooler of the two, and he threw away many chances in
which his adversary placed himself open to a palpable hit, his aim being
to disarm his antagonist without wounding him. An unforeseen accident
prevented this. Whitaker, pressing furiously forward, struck his foot
against a stone, and falling, received Elliot's sword in his body, the
hilt, striking with a deep, quick, sullen sound against his breast. The
young sailor fell with a sharp aspiration of anguish; and his victorious
adversary, horrified by the sight, and rendered silent by the sudden
revulsion of his feelings, stood, for some time, gazing at his sword,
from the point of which the blood drops trickled slowly, and fell on the
dewy sward. "'Tis the blood of my dearest, oldest friend--of my brother;
and shed by my hand!" he muttered at length, flinging away the guilty
blade. His only answer was the groans of his victim, and the shrill
whistle of the weapon as it flew through the air.

"Harry, my friend, my brother!" cried the young man, in a tone of
unutterable anguish, kneeling down on the grass, and pressing the
already cold clammy hand of his late foe.

"Your voice is pleasant to me, Frank, even in death," muttered the young
sailor, in a thick obstructed voice. "I have done you wrong--forgive me
while I can hear you; and tell Harriet--oh!"

"I do, I do forgive you; but, oh! how shall I forgive myself? Speak to
me, Harry!" And Elliot, frantic at the sight of the bloody motionless
heap before him, repeated the name of his friend till his voice rose
into a scream of agony that curdled the very blood of his friends, and
re-echoed among the rocks above, like the voices of tortured demons.
Affairs were in this situation when the young advocate came running
breathless up to them, and saw, at a glance, that he was too late. "Fly,
for Heaven's sake! fly, Elliot; here is money; you may need it," he
cried; "the officers will be here instantly, and your existence may be
the forfeit of this unhappy chance. Fly! every moment lost is a stab at
your life!"

"Be it so," replied the wretched young man, rising and gazing with
folded arms down upon his victim; "what have I to do with life?--_he_
has ceased to live. I will not leave him."

His friends joined in urging Elliot to instant flight; but he only
pointed to the body, and said, in the low tones of calm despair: "Do you
think I can leave him now, and thus? Let those fly who are in love with
life; I shall remain and meet my fate."

"Frank Elliot!" muttered the wounded man, reviving from the fainting fit
into which he had fallen; "come near to me, for I am very weak, and
swear to grant the request I have to make, as you would have my last
moments free from the bitterest agony."

Elliot flung himself on the ground by the side of his friend, and, in a
voice broken by anguish, swore to attend to his words. "Then leave this
spot immediately," said the young sailor, speaking slowly and with
extreme difficulty; "and should this be my last request--as I feel it
must be--get out of the country till the present unhappy affair is
forgotten; and moreover, mark, Frank--and, my friends, attend to my
words:--I entreat, I _command_ you to lay the entire blame of this
quarrel and its consequences on me. One of you will write to my poor
father, and say it was my last request that he should consider Elliot
innocent, and that I give my dying curse to any one who shall attempt to
revenge my death. Ah! that was a pang! How dim your faces look in the
moonlight! Your hand, dearest Frank, once more; and now away! Keep this,
I charge you, from my Harriet--_my_ Harriet! O God!" And, with a
shudder, that shook visibly his whole frame, the unfortunate youth
relapsed into insensibility. There was a brief pause, during which
the feelings of the spectators may be better imagined than described,
though, assuredly, admiration of the generous anxiety of the young
sailor to do justice to his friend was the prevailing sentiment of
their minds. At length the stifled sound of voices, and the dimly seen
forms of two or three men stealing towards them, within the shadow of
the mountain, roused them from their reverie; and Rhimeson, who had
not till now spoken, entreated Elliot to obey the dying request of his
friend, and fly before the police reached them. "I have not before urged
you to this," he said, "lest you should think it was from a selfish
motive; for, as your second, I am equally implicated with you in this
unhappy affair; but _now_," continued he, with melancholy emphasis,
"there is nothing to be gained and everything to be hazarded by
remaining."

The generous argument of the poet at length overcame Elliot's
resolution; he bent down quickly and kissed the cold lips of his friend,
then waving a silent adieu to the others, he quitted the melancholy
scene. The police--for it proved to be they--were within a hundred
yards of the spot when the young men left the rest of the group, and,
instantly emerging from the shadow which had till now partially
concealed them, the leader of the party directed one of his attendants
to remain with the body, and set off, with two or three others, in
pursuit of the fugitives.

"Follow me," cried Rhimeson, when he saw this movement of the pursuers;
and springing as he spoke towards the entrance of a narrow defile which
lay entirely in the shadow of the mountain. A deep convulsive sob burst
from the pent-up bosom of Elliot ere he replied: "Leave me to my fate,
my friend; I cannot fly; the weight of his blood crushes me!"

"This is childish, unjust," said Rhimeson, with strong emotion; "but
once more, Frank, will you control this weakness and follow me, or will
you slight the last wish of one friend, and sacrifice another, by
remaining? for without you I will not stir. Now, choose."

"Lead on," said Elliot, rousing himself with a convulsive effort; and,
striking into the gloom, the two young men sped forward with a step as
fleet as that of the hunted deer.

Their pursuers having seen them stand, had slackened their pace, or it
is probable the fugitives would have been captured before Rhimeson had
prevailed on his friend to fly; but now, separating so as to intercept
them if they deviated from the direct path, the policemen raised a loud
shout and instantly gave chase. But the young poet, in his solitary
rambles amid the noble scenery of Arthur's Seat and the adjoining
valleys, had become intimately acquainted with every path which led
through their romantic recesses; and he now sped along the broken
footway which skirted the mountain-side with as much confidence as if
he had trod on a level sward in the light of noonday. Elliot, having
his mind diverted by the necessity of looking to his immediate
preservation--for the path, strewed with fragments of rock, led along
what might well be termed a precipice, of two or three hundred feet in
height--roused up all his energies, and followed his friend with a speed
which speedily left their pursuers far behind. Thus they held on for
about a quarter of an hour, gradually and obliquely ascending the
mountain side, until the voices of the policemen, calling to each other
far down in the valley, proved that they had escaped the immediate
danger which had threatened them. Still, however, Rhimeson kept on,
though he relaxed his pace in order to hold some communication with his
companion.

"We have distanced the bloodhounds for the nonce, Frank," he said;
"these ale-swilling rascals cannot set a stout heart to a stey brae; but
whither shall we go now? Edinburgh, perhaps Scotland, is too hot to hold
us, and the point is how to get out of it. What do you advise?"

"I am utterly careless about it, Rhimeson; do as you think best,"
replied Elliot, in a tone of deep despondency.

"Cheer up, cheer up! my dear Frank," said the young poet, feigning a
confidence of hope which his heart belied. "Whitaker may still recover;
he is too gallant a fellow to be lost to us in a drunken brawl; and even
if the worst should happen, it must still keep you from despair to
reflect that you were forced into this rencontre, and that it was
an unhappy accident, resulting from his own violence and not your
intention, which deprived him of his life." Elliot stopped suddenly, and
gazing down from the height which they had now reached into the valley,
seemed to be searching for the spot where the fatal accident had taken
place, as if to assist him in the train of thought which his friend's
words had aroused. The dark group of human beings were seen dimly in the
moonlight, moving with a slow pace along the hollow of the gorge towards
the city, bearing along with them the body of the young sailor.

"Dear, dear Frank," said Rhimeson, deeply commiserating the anguish
which developed itself in the clasped uplifted hands and shuddering
frame of his unhappy friend, "bear up against this cruel accident like
a man--he may still recover." Elliot moved away from the ridge which
overlooked the valley, muttering, as if unconsciously--

                  "'Action is momentary--
    The motion of a muscle this way or that;
    Suffering is long, obscure, and infinite!'[G]

How profound and awful is that sentiment!"

 [G] Wordsworth.

The sound of a piece of rock dislodged from the mountain side, and
thundering and crashing down the steep, awakened Rhimeson from his
contemplation of Elliot's grief; and, springing again to the brink of
the almost precipitous descent, he saw that one of their pursuers had
crept up by the inequalities of the rock, and was within a few yards of
the summit.

"Dog!" cried the young man, heaving off a fragment of rock, and in the
act of dashing it down upon the unprotected head of the policeman,
"offer to stir, and I will scatter your brains upon the cliffs!"

A shrill cry of terror burst from the poor fellow's lips as he gazed
upwards at the frightful attitude of his enemy, and expected every
moment to see the dreadful engine hurled at his head. The cry was
answered by the shouts of his companions, who, by different paths, had
arrived within a short distance of the fugitives.

"Retire miscreant! or I will send your mangled carcass down to the foot
without your help," shouted Rhimeson, swinging the huge stone up to the
extent of his arms. His answer was a pistol shot, which, whistling past
his cheek, struck the uplifted fragment of rock with such force as to
send a stunning feeling up to his very shoulders. The stone fell from
his benumbed grasp, and, striking the edge of the cliff, bounded
innocuous over the head of the policeman, who, springing upwards, was
within a few feet of Rhimeson before he had fully recovered himself.
"Away!" he cried, taking again the path up the mountain, and closely
followed by Elliot, who, during the few moments in which the foregoing
scene was being enacted, had remained almost motionless--"Away! give
them a flying shot at least," continued he, feeling all the romance of
his nature aroused by the circumstances in which he was placed. The
policeman, however, who had only fired in self-defence, refrained from
using his other pistol, now that the danger was past; but grasping it
firmly in his hand, he followed the steps of the young men with a
speed stimulated by the desire of revenge, and a kind of professional
eagerness to capture so daring an offender. But, in spite of his
exertions, the superior agility of the fugitives gradually widened the
distance between them; and at length, as they emerged from the rocky
ground upon the smooth short grass, where a footfall could not be
heard, the moon became again obscured by dark clouds, and Rhimeson,
whispering his companion to observe his motions, turned short off the
path they had been following, and struck eastward among the green hills
towards the sea. They could hear the curse of the policeman, and the
click of his pistol lock, as if he had intended to send a leaden
messenger into the darkness in search of them. But the expected report
did not follow; and, favoured by the continued obscurity of the night,
they were, in a short time, descending the hill behind Duddingstone,
which lies at the opposite extremity of the King's Park. Still
continuing their route eastward, they walked forward at a rapid pace,
consulting on their future movements. The sound of wheels rapidly
approaching, interrupted their conversation. It was the south mail.

In a short time they were flying through the country towards Newcastle,
at the rate of ten miles an hour, including stoppages. Elliot was at the
river side, searching for a vessel to convey them to some part of the
continent, and Rhimeson was dozing over a newspaper in the Turk's Head
in that town, when a policeman entered, and, mistaking him for Elliot,
took him into custody. How their route had been discovered, Rhimeson
knew not; but he was possessed of sufficient presence of mind to
personate his friend, and offer to accompany the police officer
instantly back to Edinburgh, leaving a letter and a considerable sum of
money for Elliot. In a few minutes, the generous fellow leaped into the
post-chaise, with a heart as light as many a bridegroom when flying on
the wings of love and behind the tails of four broken-winded hacks to
some wilderness, where "transport and security entwine"--the anticipated
scene of a delicious honeymoon. Elliot, while in search of a vessel, had
fallen in with a young man whom he had known as a medical student at
Edinburgh, and who was now about to go as surgeon of a Greenland vessel,
in order to earn, during the summer, the necessary sum for defraying his
college expenses. He accompanied Elliot to his inn, and heard, during
the way, the story of his misfortunes. It is unnecessary to describe
Frank's surprise and grief at the capture of his friend, Rhimeson. At
first, he determined instantly to return and relieve him from durance.
But, influenced by the entreaties contained in Rhimeson's note, and by
the arguments of the young Northumbrian, he at length changed this
resolution, and determined on accepting the situation of surgeon in the
whaling vessel for which his present companion had been about to depart.
Frank presented the Northumbrian with a sum more than equal to the
expected profits of the voyage, and received his thanks in tones wherein
the natural roughness of his accent was increased to a fearful degree by
the strength of his emotion. All things being arranged, Frank shook his
acquaintance by the hand, and remarked that it would be well for him to
keep out of the way for a while. So bidding the man of harsh aspirations
adieu, he made his way to the coach, and, in twenty-four hours, was
embarked in the _Labrador_, with a stiff westerly breeze ready to carry
him away from all that he loved and dreaded.

Let the reader imagine that six months have passed over--and let him
imagine, also, if he can, the anguish which the mother and sister of
Elliot suffered on account of his mysterious disappearance. It was now
September. The broad harvest moon was shining full upon the bosom of
Teviot, and glittering upon the rustling leaves of the woods that
overhang her banks, and pouring a flood of more golden light upon the
already golden grain that waved--ripe for the sickle--along the margin
of the lovely stream, the stars, few in number, but most brilliant, had
taken their places in the sky; the owl was whooping from the ivied
tower; the corn-craik was calling drowsily; now and then the distant
baying of a watch-dog startled the silence, otherwise undisturbed, save
by the plaintive murmuring of the stream, which, as it flowed past,
uttered such querulous sounds, that, as some one has happily expressed
it, "one was almost tempted to ask what ailed it." A traveller was
moving slowly up the side of the river, and ever and anon stopping, as
if to muse over some particular object. It was Elliot. He had returned
from Greenland, and, in disguise, had come to the place of his birth--to
the dwelling of his mother and his sister; he had heard that his mother
was ill--that anxiety, on his account, had reduced her almost to the
grave--and that she was now but slowly recovering. He had been able to
acquire no information respecting Whitaker; and the weight of his
friend's blood lay yet heavy on his soul, for he considered himself as
his murderer. It was with feelings of the most miserable anxiety that he
approached the place of his birth. The stately beeches that lined the
avenue which led to his mother's door were in sight; they stooped and
raised their stately branches, with all the gorgeous drapery of leaves,
as if they welcomed him back; the very river seemed to utter, in accents
familiar to him, that he was now near the hall of his fathers. Oh! how
is the home of our youth enshrined in our most sacred affections! by
what multitudinous fibres is it entwined with our heart-strings!--it is
part of our being--its influences remain with us for ever, though years
spent in foreign lands divide us from "our early home that cradled life
and love." Elliot was framed to feel keenly these sacred influences--and
often, even after brief absences from home, he had experienced them in
deep intensity; but now the throb of exultation was kept down by the
crushing weight of remorse, and the gush of tenderness checked by bitter
fears. He entered the avenue which led up to the house. Yonder were the
windows of his mother's chamber--there was a light in it. He would have
given worlds to have seen before him the interior. As he quickened his
pace, he heard the sound of voices in the avenue. He turned aside out of
the principal walk; and, standing under the branches of a venerable
beech, which swept down almost to the ground, and fully concealed him,
he waited the approach of the speakers, in hopes of hearing some
intelligence respecting his family. Through the screen of the leaves he
presently saw that it was a pair of lovers, for their arms were locked
around each other, and their cheeks were pressed together as they came
down the avenue--treading as slowly as though they were attempting to
show how much of rest there might be in motion.

"To-morrow, then, my sweet Harriet," said the young man, "I leave you;
and though it is torture to me to be away from your side, yet I have
resolved never again to see you until I have made the most perfect
search for your brother; until I can win a dearer embrace than any I
have yet received, by placing him before you."

"Would to heaven it may be so!" replied the young lady; "but my
mother--how will I be able to support her when you are gone, dearest
Henry? She is kept up only by the happy strains of hope which your
very voice creates. How shall I, myself unsupported, ever keep her from
despondency? Oh! she will sink--she will die! Remain with us, Henry; and
let us trust to providence to restore my brother to us--if he be yet
alive!"

"Ask it not, my beloved Harriet, I beseech you," said the young man,
"lest I be unable to deny you. If your brother, as is likely, has sought
some foreign land, and remains in ignorance of my recovery from the
wounds I received from him, how shall I answer to myself--how shall I
even dare to ask for this fair hand--how shall I ever hope to rest upon
your bosom in peace--if I do not use every possible means to discover
him? O my dear Elliot--friend of my youth--if thou couldest translate
the language of my heart, as it beats at this moment--if thou couldest
hear my sacred resolve!"--

"Whitaker, my friend! Harriet, my beloved sister!" cried Elliot,
bursting out from beneath the overspreading beech, and snatching his
sister in his arms--"I am here--I see all--I understand the whole of the
events--how much too graciously brought about for me, Father of mercies!
I acknowledge. Let us now go to my mother."

It is in scenes such as this that we find how weak words are to describe
the feelings of the actors--the rapid transition of events--the passions
that chase one another over the minds and hearts of those concerned,
like waves in a tempest. Nor is it necessary. The reader who can feel
and comprehend such situations as those in which the actors in our
little tale are placed, are able to draw, from their own hearts and
imaginations, much fitter and more rapidly sketched portraitures of the
passions which are awakened, the feelings that develop themselves in
such situations and with such persons, than can be painted in words.

The harvest moon was gone, and another young moon was in the skies, when
Whitaker, and the same young lady of whom we before spoke, trode down
the avenue, locked in each other's arms, and with cheek pressed to
cheek. They talked of a thousand things most interesting to persons
in their situation--for they were to be married on the morrow--but,
perhaps, not so interesting to our readers, many of whom may have
performed in the same scenes.

Elliot's mother was recovered; and he himself was happy, or, at least,
he put on all the trappings of happiness; for, in a huge deer-skin
Esquimaux dress, which he had brought from Greenland, he danced at his
sister's wedding until the great bear had set in the sea, and the autumn
sun began to peer through the shutters of the drawing-room of his
ancient hall.



PHILIPS GREY.

            "Death takes a thousand shapes:
    Borne on the wings of sullen slow disease,
    Or hovering o'er the field of bloody fight,
    In calm, in tempest, in the dead of night,
    Or in the lightning of the summer moon;
    In all how terrible!"


Among the many scenes of savage sublimity which the lowlands of Scotland
display, there is none more impressive in its solitary grandeur, than
that in the neighbourhood of Loch Skene, on the borders of Moffatdale.
At a considerable elevation above the sea, and surrounded by the
loftiest mountains in the south of Scotland, the loch has collected
its dark mass of waters, astonishing the lovers of nature by its great
height above the valley which he has just ascended, and, by its still
and terrible beauty, overpowering his mind with sentiments of melancholy
and awe. Down the cliffs which girdle in the shores of the loch, and
seem to support the lofty piles of mountains above them, a hundred
mountain torrents leap from rock to rock, flashing and roaring, until
they reach the dark reservoir beneath. A canopy of grey mist almost
continually shrouds from the sight the summits of the hills, leaving the
imagination to guess at those immense heights which seem to pierce the
very clouds of heaven. Occasionally, however, this veil is withdrawn,
and then you may see the sovereign brow of Palmoodie encircled with his
diadem of snow, and the green summits of many less lofty hills arranged
round him, like courtiers uncovered before their monarch. Amid this
scene, consecrated to solitude and the most sombre melancholy, no sound
comes upon the mountain breeze, save the wail of the plover, or the
whir of the heathcock's wing, or, haply, the sullen plunge of a trout
leaping up in the loch.

At times, indeed, the solitary wanderer may be startled by the scream of
the grey eagle, as dropping with the rapidity of light from his solitary
cliff, he shoots past, enraged that his retreat is polluted by the
presence of man, and then darts aloft into the loftiest chambers of
the sky; or, dallying with the piercing sunbeams, is lost amid their
glory.[H] At the eastern extremity of the loch, the superfluous waters
are discharged by a stream of no great size, but which, after heavy
showers, pours along its deep and turbid torrent with frightful
impetuosity.

 [H] Round about the shores of Loch Skene the Ettrick Shepherd
 herded the flocks of his master, and fed his boyish fancies with the
 romance and beauty which breathes from every feature of the scene. One
 day, when we were at Loch Skene on a fishing excursion with him, he
 pointed up to the black crag overhanging the water, and said--"You see
 the edge o' that cliff; I ance as near dropped frae it intil eternity as
 I dinna care to think o'. I was herdin' aboot here, and lang and lang I
 thocht o' speelin' up to the eyry, frae which I could hear the young
 eagles screamin' as plain as my ain bonny Mary Gray (his youngest
 daughter) when she's no pleased wi' the colley; but the fear o' the auld
 anes aye keepit me frae the attempt. At last, ae day, when I was at the
 head o' the cliff, and the auld eagle away frae the nest, I took heart
 o' grace, and clambered down (for there was nae gettin' up). Weel, sir,
 I was at the maist kittle bit o' the craig, wi' my foot on a bit ledge
 just wide enough to bear me, and sair bothered wi' my plaid and stick,
 when, guid saf's! I heard the boom o' the auld eagle's wings come whaff,
 whaffing through the air, and in a moment o' time she brought me sic a
 whang wi' her wing, as she rushed enraged by, and then turning short
 again and fetching me anither, I thought I was gane for ever; but
 providence gave me presence o' mind to regain my former resting-place,
 and there flinging off my plaid, I keepit aye nobbing the bird wi' my
 stick till I was out o' danger. It was a fearsome time!" It would have
 been dreadful had the pleasure which "Kilmeny," "Queen Hynde," and the
 hundred other beautiful creations which the glorious old bard has given
 us, been all thus destroyed "at one fell swoop."

After running along the mountain for about half a mile, it suddenly
precipitates itself over the edge of a rocky ridge which traverses its
course, and, falling sheer down a height of three hundred feet, leaps
and bounds over some smaller precipices, until, at length, far down in
Moffatdale, it entirely changes its character, and pursues a calm and
peaceful course through a fine pastoral country. Standing on the brow
of a mountain which overlooks the fall, the eye takes in at once the
whole of the course which we have described; and, to a poetical mind,
which recognises in mountain scenery the cradle of liberty and the
favourite dwelling-place of imagination, the character of the stream
seems a type of the human mind: stormy, bounding, and impetuous, when
wrapped up in the glorious feelings which belong to romantic countries;
peaceful, dull, and monotonous, amid the less interesting lowlands. Yet,
after indulging in such a fancy for a time, another reflection arises,
which, if it be less pleasing and poetical, is, perhaps, more
useful--that the impetuous course of the mountain torrent, though
gratifying to the lover of nature, is unaccompanied with any other
benefit to man, while the stream that pursues its unpretending path
through the plains, bestows fertility on a thousand fields. Such
thoughts as these, however, only arise in the mind when it has become
somewhat familiar with the surrounding scenes. The roar of the cataract,
the savage appearance of the dark rocks that border the falling waters,
and that painful feeling which the sweeping and inevitable course of the
stream produces, at first paralyze the mind, and, for some time after it
has recovered its tone, occupy it to the exclusion of every other
sentiment.

And now, gentle reader, let us walk toward the simple stone seat, which
some shepherd boy has erected under yon silvery-stemmed birch tree,
where the sound of the waterfall comes only in a pleasant monotone, and
where the most romantic part of old Scotland is spread beneath our feet.
There you see the eternal foam of the torrent, without being distracted
with its roar; and you can trace the course of the stream till it
terminates in yon clear and pellucid pool at the foot of the hill,
which seems too pure for aught but--

    "A mirror and a bath for beauty's youngest daughters;"

yet, beautiful in its purity as it seems, it is indeed the scene of the
following true and terrible tale:--

Philips Grey was one of the most active young shepherds in the parish of
Traquair. For two or three years he had carried off the medal given at
the St. Ronan's border games to him who made the best high leap; and,
at the last meeting of the games, he had been first at the running
hop-step-and-jump; had beat all competitors in running; and, though but
slightly formed, had gained the second prize for throwing the hammer--a
favourite old Scottish exercise, but almost unknown in England. Athletic
sports were, indeed, his favourite pursuit, and he cultivated them with
an ardour which very few of our readers will be able to imagine. But
among the shepherds, and, indeed, all inhabitants of pastoral districts,
he who excels in these sports possesses a superiority over his
contemporaries, which cannot but be gratifying in the highest degree to
its possessor. His name is known far and wide; his friendship is courted
by the men; and his hand, either as a partner in a country dance, or in
a longer "minuet of the heart," marriage, is coquetted for by the
maidens: he, in fact, possesses all the power which superiority of
intellect bestows in more populous and polished societies. But it is by
no means the case, as is often said, that ardour in the pursuit of
violent sports is connected with ignorance or mediocrity of intellect.
On the contrary, by far the greater number of victors at games of
agility and strength, will be found to possess a degree of mental
energy, which is, in fact, the power that impels them to corporeal
excitement, and is often the secret of their success over more muscular
antagonists. Philips Grey, in particular, was a striking instance of
this fact. Notwithstanding his passion for athletic sports, he had found
time, while on the hillside tending his flock, or in the long winter
nights, to make himself well acquainted with the Latin classics. This
is by no means uncommon among the Scottish peasantry. Smith, and Black,
and Murray, are not singular instances of self-taught scholars; for
there is scarce a valley in Scotland in which you will not hear of one
or more young men of this stamp. Philips also played exquisitely on the
violin, and had that true taste for the simple Scottish melody which
can, perhaps, be nowhere cultivated so well as among the mountains and
streams which have frequently inspired them. Many a time, when you ask
the name of the author of some sweet ballad which the country girl is
breathing amongst these hills, the tear will start into her eye as she
answers--"Poor Philips Grey, that met a dreadful death at the Grey
Mare's Tail." With these admirable qualities, Philips unfortunately
possessed a mood of mind which is often an attendant on genius--he was
subject to attacks of the deepest melancholy. Gay, cheerful, humorous,
active, and violent in his sports as he was, there were periods when the
darkest gloom overshadowed his mind, and when his friends even trembled
for his reason. It is said that he frequently stated his belief that he
should die a dreadful death. Alas! that this strange presentiment should
have indeed been prophetic! It is not surprising that Philips Grey, with
his accomplishments, should have won the heart of a maiden somewhat
above his own degree, and even gained the consent of her father to his
early marriage. The old man dwelt in Moffatdale; and the night before
Philips' wedding-day, he and his younger brother walked over to his
intended father-in-law's house, in order to be nearer the church. That
night the young shepherd was in his gayest humour; his bonny bride was
by his side, and looking more beautiful than ever; he sang his finest
songs, played his favourite tunes, and completely bewitched his
companions. All on a sudden, while he was relating some extraordinary
feat of strength which had been performed by one of his acquaintances,
he stopped in the middle of the story, and exchanged the animation with
which he was speaking for silence and a look of the deepest despair. His
friends were horror-struck; but as he insisted that nothing was the
matter with him, and as his younger brother said that he had not been in
bed for two nights, the old man dismissed the family, saying--"Gang awa
to bed, Philips, my man, and get a sound sleep; or if you do lie wauken
a wee bittie, it's nae great matter: odd! it's the last nicht my bonny
Marion 'll keep ye lying wauken for her sake. Will't no, my bonnie doo?"

"Deed, faither, I dinna ken," quoth Marion, simply, yet archly; and the
party separated.

Philips, however, walked down the burn side, in order to try if the cool
air would dissipate his unaccountable anxiety. But, in spite of his
efforts, a presentiment of some fatal event gathered strength in his
mind, and he involuntarily found himself revolving the occurrences of
his past life. Here he found little to condemn, for he had never
received an unkind word from his father, who was now in the grave; and
his mother was wearing out a green and comfortable old age beneath his
own roof. He had brought up his younger brothers, and they were now in
a fair way to succeed in life. He could not help feeling satisfied at
this, yet why peculiarly at this time he knew not. Then came the thought
of his lovely Marion, and the very agony which at once rushed on his
heart had well nigh choked him. Immediately, however, the fear which had
hung about him seemed to vanish; for, strange and mysterious as it was,
it was not sufficiently powerful to withstand the force of that other
horrible imagination. So he returned to the house, and was surprised to
find himself considering how his little property should be distributed
after his death. When he reached the door, he stopped for a moment,
overcome with this pertinacity in the supernatural influence which
seemed exercised over him; and at length, with gloomy resolution,
entered the house. His brother was asleep, and a candle was burning on
the table. He sank down into a chair, and went on with his little
calculations respecting his will. At length, having decided upon all
these things, and having fixed upon the churchyard of St. Mary's for his
burial place, he arose from his chair, took up the candle and crossed
the room towards his brother, intending to convey his wishes to him.

The boy lay on the front side of one of those beds with sliding doors,
so common in Scotland; and beyond him there was room for Philips to lie
down. Something bright seemed gleaming in the dark recess of the bed. He
advanced the candle, and beheld--oh, sight of horror!--a plate upon what
bore the shape of a coffin, bearing the words--"Philips Grey, aged 23."
For a moment he gazed steadily upon it, and was about to stretch out his
hand towards it, when the lid slowly rose, and he beheld a mutilated and
bloody corpse, the features of which were utterly undistinguishable, but
which, by some unearthly impulse, he instantly knew to be his own. Still
he kept a calm and unmoved gaze at it, though the big drops of sweat
stood on his brow with the agony of his feelings; and, while he was thus
contemplating the dreadful revelation, it gradually faded away, and at
length totally vanished. The power which had upheld him seemed to depart
along with the phantom; his sight failed him, and he fell on the floor.

Presently he recovered, and found himself in bed, with his brother by
his side chafing his temples. He explained everything that had occurred,
seemed calm and collected, shook his head when his brother attempted to
explain away the vision, and finally sank into a tranquil sleep.

Whether the horrible resemblance of his own coffin and mutilated corpse
was in reality revealed to him by the agency of some supernatural power,
or whether it was (as sceptics will say) the natural effect of his
hypochondriac state of mind, producing an optical deception, we will not
take upon us to determine; certain, however, it is, that with a calm
voice and collected manner he described to his brother James, a scene
the dreadful reality of which was soon to be displayed.

In the morning Philips awoke, cheerful and calm, the memory of last
night's occurrences seeming but a dreadful dream. On the grass before
the door he met his beloved Marion, who, on that blessed Sabbath, was to
become his wife. The sight of her perfect loveliness, arrayed in a white
dress, emblem of purity and innocence, filled his heart with rapture;
and as he clasped her in his arms, every sombre feeling vanished away.
It is not our intention to describe the simplicity of the marriage
ceremony, or the happiness which filled Philips Grey's heart during that
Sabbath morning, while sitting in the church by the side of his lovely
bride.

They returned home, and, in the afternoon, the young couple, together
with James Grey and the bride's-maid, walked out among the glades of
Craigieburn wood, a spot rendered classic by the immortal Burns.
Philips had gathered some of the wild flowers that sprang among their
feet--the pale primrose, the fair anemone, and the drooping blue bells
of Scotland--and wove them into a garland. As he was placing them on
Marion's brow, and shading back the long flaxen tresses that hung across
her cheek, he said, gaily--"There wants but a broad water lily to place
in the centre of thy forehead, my sweet Marion; for where should the
fairest flower of the valley be, but on the brow of its queen? Come with
me, Jamie, and in half an hour we will bring the fairest that floats on
Loch Skene." So, kissing the cheek of his bride, Philips and his
brother set off up the hill with the speed of the mountain deer. They
arrived at the foot of the waterfall, panting, and excited with their
exertions. By climbing up the rocks close to the stream, the distance to
the loch is considerably shortened; and Philips, who had often clambered
to the top of the Bitch Craig, a high cliff on the Manor Water, proposed
to his brother that they should "speel the height." The other, a supple
agile lad, instantly consented. "Gie me your plaid then, Jamie, my
man--it will maybe fash ye," said Philips; "and gang ye first, and keep
weel to the hill side." Accordingly the boy gave his brother the plaid
and began the ascent. While Philips was knotting his brother's plaid
round his body above his own, a fox peeped out of his hole half way up
the cliff, and thinking flight advisable, dropped down the precipice.
Laughing till the very echoes rang, Philips followed his brother.
Confident in his agility, he ascended with a firm step till he was
within a few yards of the summit. James was now on the top of the
precipice, and looking down on his brother, and not knowing the cause of
his mirth, exclaimed--"Daursay, callant, ye're fey."[I] In a moment the
memory of his last night's vision rushed on Philips Grey's mind, his
eyes became dim, his limbs powerless, he dropped off the very edge of
the giddy precipice, and his form was lost in the black gulf below. For
a few minutes, James felt a sickness of heart which rendered him almost
insensible, and sank down on the grass lest he should fall over the
cliff. At length, gathering strength from very terror, he advanced to
the edge of the cataract and gazed downwards. There, about two-thirds
down the fall, he could perceive the remains of his brother, mangled and
mutilated; the body being firmly wedged between two projecting points of
rock, whereon the descending water streamed, while the bleeding head
hung dangling, and almost separated from the body--and, turned upwards,
discovered to the horrified boy the starting eye-balls of his brother,
already fixed in death, and the teeth clenched in the bitter agony which
had tortured his passing spirit.

 [I] "Fey," a Scottish word, expressive of that unaccountable
 and violent mirth which is supposed frequently to portend sudden
 death.--ED.

It is scarcely necessary to detail the consequences of this cruel
accident. Assistance was procured, and the mangled body conveyed to
the house of Marion's father, whence, a few short hours ago, the young
shepherd had issued in vigour and happiness. When the widowed bride saw
James Grey return to them with horror painted on his features, she
seemed instantly to divine the full extent of her misfortune; she sank
down on the grass, with the unfinished garland of her dead lover in her
hand, and in this state was carried home. For two days she passed from
one fit to another; but on the night of the second day she sank into a
deep sleep. That night, James Grey was watching the corpse of his
brother; the coffin was placed on the very bed where they had slept
two nights ago. The plate gleamed from the shadowy recess, and the
words--"Philips Grey, aged 23," were distinctly visible. While James was
reflecting on the prophetic vision of his brother, a figure, arrayed in
white garments, entered the room and moved towards the dead body. It was
poor Marion.

She slowly lifted the lid of the coffin, and gazed long and intently on
the features of her dead husband. Then, turning round to James, she
uttered a short shrill shriek, and fell backwards on the corpse. She
hovered between life and death for a few days, and at length expired.
She now lies by the side of her lover, in the solitary burial ground of
St. Mary's.

Such is the event which combines, with others not less dark and
terrible, to throw a wild interest around those gloomy rocks. Many a
time you will hear the story from the inhabitants of those hills; and,
until fretted away by the wind and rain, the plaid and the bonnet of the
unfortunate Philips Grey hung upon the splintered precipice to attest
the truth of the tale.



DONALD GORM.


In a remote corner of Assynt, one of the most remote and savage
districts in the Highlands of Scotland, there is a certain wild and
romantic glen, called Eddernahulish. In the picturesqueness of this
glen, however, neither wood nor rock has any share; and, although it may
be difficult to conceive of any place possessing that character without
these ordinary adjuncts, it is, nevertheless, true, that Eddernahulish,
with neither tree nor precipice, is yet strikingly picturesque. The wide
sweep of the heath-clad hills whose gradual descents form the spacious
glen, and the broad and brawling stream careering through its centre,
give the place an air of solitude and of quiet repose that,
notwithstanding its monotony, is exceedingly impressive.

On gaining any of the many points of elevation that command a view of
this desolate strath, you may descry, towards its western extremity, a
small, rude, but massive stone bridge, grey with age; for it was erected
in the time of that laird of Assynt who rendered himself for ever
infamous by betraying the Duke of Montrose, who had sought and obtained
the promise of his protection, to his enemies.

Close by this bridge stands a little highland cottage, of, however, a
considerably better order than the common run of such domiciles in this
quarter of the world; and bespeaking a condition, as to circumstances,
on the part of its occupants, which is by no means general in the
Highlands.

"Well what of this cottage?" says the impatient reader.

"What of it?" say we, with the proud consciousness of having something
worth hearing to tell of it. "Why, was it not the birthplace of Donald
Gorm?"

"And, pray, who or what was Donald Gorm?"

"We were just going to tell you when you interrupted us; and we will now
proceed to the fulfilment of that intention."

Donald Gorm was a rough, rattling, outspoken, hot-headed, and
warm-hearted highlander, of about two-and-thirty years of age. Bold as a
lion, and strong as a rhinoceros, with great bodily activity, he feared
nobody; and having all the irascibility of his race, would fight with
anybody at a moment's notice. Possessing naturally a great flow of
animal spirits and much ready wit, Donald was the life and soul of every
merry-making in which he bore a part. In the dance, his joyous whoop and
haloo might be heard a mile off; and the hilarious crack of his finger
and thumb, nearly a third of that distance. Donald, in short, was one of
those choice spirits that are always ready for anything, and who, by the
force of their individual energies, can keep a whole country-side in a
stir. As to his occupations, Donald's were various--sometimes farming,
(assisting his father, with whom he lived,) sometimes herring fishing,
and sometimes taking a turn at harvest work in the Lowlands--by which
industry he had scraped a few pounds together; and, being unmarried,
with no one to care for but himself, he was thus comparatively
independent--a circumstance which kept Donald's head at its highest
elevation, and his voice, when he spoke, at the top of its bent.

The tenor of our story requires that we should now advert to another
member of Donald's family. This is a brother of the latter's, who bore
the euphonious and high-flavoured patronymic of Duncan Dhu M'Tavish
Gorm, or, simply, Duncan Gorm, as he was, for shortness, called,
although certainly baptized by the formidable list of names just given.

This Duncan Gorm was a man of totally different character from his
brother Donald. He was of a quiet and peaceable disposition and
demeanour--steady, sober, and conscientious; qualities which were
thought to adapt him well for the line of life in which he was
placed. This was as a domestic servant in the family of an extensive
highland proprietor, of the name of Grant. In this capacity Duncan
had, about a year or so previous to the precise period when our story
commences--which, by the way, we beg the reader to observe, is now some
ninety years past--gone to the continent, as a personal attendant on the
elder son of his master, whose physicians had recommended his going
abroad for the benefit of his health.

It was, then, about a year after the departure of Duncan and his master,
that Donald's father received a letter from his son, intimating the
death of his young master, which had taken place at Madrid, and, what
was much more surprising intelligence, that the writer had determined on
settling in the city just named, as keeper of a tavern or wine-house, in
which calling he said he had no doubt he would do well. And he was not
mistaken; in about six months after, his family received another letter
from him, informing them that he was succeeding beyond his most sanguine
expectations--and hereby hangs our tale.

On Donald these letters of his brother's made a very strong impression;
and, finally, had the effect of inducing him to adopt a very strange and
very bold resolution. This was neither more nor less than to join his
brother in Madrid--a resolution from which it was found impossible to
dissuade him, especially after the receipt of Duncan's second letter,
giving intimation of his success.

With most confused and utterly inadequate notions, therefore, of either
the nature, or distance, or position of the country to which he was
going, Donald made preparations for his journey. But they were merely
such preparations as he would have made for a descent on the Lowlands,
at harvest time. He put up some night-caps, stockings, and shirts in a
bundle, with a quantity of bread and cheese, and a small flask of his
native mountain dew. This bundle he proposed to suspend, in the usual
way, over his shoulder on the end of a huge oak stick, which he had
carefully selected for the purpose. And it was thus prepared--with,
however, an extra supply of his earnings in his pocket, of which he
had a vague notion he would stand in need--that Donald contemplated
commencing his journey to Madrid from the heart of the Highlands of
Scotland. In one important particular, however, did Donald's outfit on
this occasion, differ from that adopted on ordinary occasions. On the
present, he equipped himself in the full costume of his country--kilt,
plaid, bonnet and feather, sword, dirk, and pistols; and thus arrayed,
his appearance was altogether very striking, as he was both a stout and
exceedingly handsome man.

Before starting on his extraordinary expedition, Donald had learned
which was the fittest seaport whereat to embark on his progress to
Spain; and it was nearly all he had learned, or indeed cared to inquire
about, as to the place of his destination. For this port, then, he
finally set out; but over his proceedings, for somewhere about three
weeks after this, there is a veil which our want of knowledge of facts
and circumstances will not enable us to withdraw. Of all subsequent to
this, however, we are amply informed; and shall now proceed to give the
reader the full benefit of that information.

Heaven knows how Donald had fought his way to Madrid, or what particular
route he had taken to attain this consummation; but certain it is, that,
about the end of the three weeks mentioned, the identical Donald Gorm
of whom we speak, kilted and hosed as he left Eddernahulish, with a huge
stick over his shoulder bearing a bundle suspended on its farthest
extremity, was seen, early in the afternoon, approaching the gate of
Alcala, one of the principal and most splendid entrances into the
Spanish capital. Donald was staring about him, and at everything he saw,
with a look of the greatest wonder and amazement; and strange were the
impressions that the peculiar dresses of those he met, and the odd
appearance of the buildings within his view, made upon his
unsophisticated mind and bewildered sensorium.

He, in truth, felt very much as if he had by some accident got into the
moon, or some other planet than that of which he was a born inhabitant,
and as if the beings around him were human only in form and feature. The
perplexity and confusion of his ideas were, indeed, great--so great that
he found it impossible to reduce them to such order as to give them one
single distinct impression. There were, however, two points in Donald's
character, which remained wholly unaffected by the novelty of his
position. These were his courage and bold bearing. Not all Spain, nor
all that was in Spain, could have deprived Donald of these for a moment.
He was amazed, but not in the least awed. He was, in truth, looking
rather fiercer than usual, at this particular juncture, in consequence
of a certain feeling of irritation, caused by what he deemed the
impertinent curiosity of the passers-by, who, no less struck with his
strange appearance than he with theirs, were gazing and tittering at him
from all sides--treatment this, at which Donald thought fit to take
mortal offence. Having arrived, however, at the gate of Alcala, Donald
thought it full time to make some inquiries as to where his relative
resided. Feeling impressed with the propriety of this step, he made
up to a group of idle, equivocal-looking fellows, who, wrapped up in
long buttoned dilapidated cloaks, were lounging about the gate; and,
plunging boldly into the middle of them, he delivered himself thus, in
his best English:--

"I say, freens, did you'll know, any of you, where my broder stops?"

The men, as might be expected, first stared at the speaker, and then
burst out a-laughing in his face. They, of course, could not comprehend
a word of what he said; a circumstance on the possibility of which
it had never struck Donald to calculate, and to which he did not
now advert. Great, therefore, was his wrath, at this, apparently,
contemptuous treatment by the Spaniards. His highland blood mounted to
his face, and with the same rapidity rose his highland choler. Donald,
in truth, already contemplated doing battle in defence of his insulted
consequence, and at once hung out his flag of defiance.

"You tam scarecrow-lookin rascals!" he sputtered out, in great fury,
at the same time shaking his huge clenched brown fist in the faces
of the whole group, their numbers not in the least checking his
impetuosity--"You cowartly, starvation-like togs! I've a goot mind to
make smashed potatoes o' the whole boilin o' ye. Tam your Spanish noses
and whiskers!"

The fierce and determined air of Donald had the effect of instantly
restoring the gravity of the Spaniards, who, totally at a loss to
comprehend what class of the human species he represented, looked at him
with a mingled expression of astonishment and respect. At length, one of
their number discharged a volley of his native language at Donald; but
it was, apparently, of civil and good-natured import, for it was
delivered in a mild tone, and accompanied by a conciliatory smile. On
Donald, the language was, of course, utterly lost--he did not comprehend
a word of it; but not so the indications of a friendly disposition to
which we have alluded; these he at once appreciated, and they had the
effect of allaying his wrath a little, and inducing him to make another
attempt at a little civil colloquy.

"Well," said Donald, now somewhat more calmly, "I was shust ask you a
ceevil question, an' you laugh in my face, which is not ceevil. In my
country we don't do that to anybody, far less a stranger. Noo, may pe,
you'll not know my broder, and there's no harm in that--none at all; but
you should shust have say so at once, an' there would be no more apout
it. Can none of you speak Gaelic?"

To this inquiry, which was understood to be such, there was a general
shaking of heads amongst the Spaniards.

"Oich, oich, it must be a tam strange country where there's no Gaelic.
But, never mind--you cannot help your misfortunes. I say, lads, will ye
teuk a tram. Hooch, hurra! prof, prof! Let's get a dram." And Donald
flung up one of his legs hilariously, while he gave utterance to these
uncouth expletives, which he did in short joyous shouts. "Where will we
go, lads? Did you'll know any decen' public-house, where we'll can
depend on a goot tram?"

To this invitation, and to the string of queries by which it was
accompanied, Donald got in reply only a repetition of that shake of the
head which intimated non-comprehension. But it was an instance of the
latter that surprised him more than all the others.

"Well, to be surely," he said, "if a man'll not understand the offer of
a tram, he'll understand nothing, and it's no use saying more. Put maybe
you'll understand the sign, if not the word." And, saying this, he
raised his closed hand to his lips and threw back his head, as if taking
off a _caulker_ of his own mountain dew; pointing, at the same time, to
a house which seemed to him to have the appearance of one of public
entertainment. To Donald's great satisfaction, he found that he had now
made himself perfectly intelligible; a fact which he recognised in the
smiles and nods of his auditory, and, still more unequivocally, in the
general movement which they made after him to the "public-house," to
which he immediately directed his steps.

At the head, then, of this troop of tatterdemallions, and walking with
as stately a step as a drum-major, Donald may be said to have made his
entrance into Madrid; and rather an odd first appearance of that worthy
there, it certainly was. On entering the tavern or inn which he had
destined for the scene of his hospitalities, he strode in much in
the same style that he would have entered a public-house in
Lochaber--namely, slapping the first person he met on the shoulder, and
shouting some merry greeting or other appropriate to the occasion. This
precisely Donald did in the present instance, to the great amazement and
alarm of a very pretty Spanish girl, who was performing the duty of
ushering in customers, inclusive of that of subsequently supplying
their wants. On feeling the enormous paw of Donald on her shoulder,
and looking at the strange attire in which he was arrayed, the girl
uttered a scream of terror, and fled into the interior of the house.
Unaccustomed to have his rude but hearty greetings received in this way,
or to find them producing an effect so contrary to that which, in his
honest warm-heartedness, he intended them to produce, Donald was rather
taken aback by the alarm expressed by the girl; but soon recovering his
presence of mind--

"Oich, oich!" he said, laughing, and turning to his ragged crew behind
him, "ta lassie's frightened for Shon Heelanman. Puir thing! It's weel
seen she's no peen procht up in Lochaber, or maype's no been lang in the
way o' keepin a public. It's--

    "'Haut awa, bite awa,
       Haut awa frae me, Tonal;
     What care I for a' your wealth,
       An' a' that ye can gie, Tonal?'"

And, chanting this stanza of a well-known Scottish ditty, at the top of
his voice, Donald bounced into the first open door he could find, still
followed by his tail. These having taken their seats around a table
which stood in the centre of the apartment, he next commenced a series
of thundering raps on the board with the hilt of his dirk, accompanied
by stentorian shouts of, "Hoy, lassie! House, here! Hoy, hoy, hoy!" a
summons which was eventually answered by the landlord in person, the
girl's report of Donald's appearance and salutation to herself having
deterred any other of the household from obeying the call of so wild and
noisy a customer.

"Well, honest man," said Donald, on the entrance of his host, "will you
pe bringing us two half mutchkins of your pest whisky. Here's some
honest lads I want to treat to a tram."

The landlord, as might be expected, stared at this strange guest, in
utter unconsciousness of the purport of his demand. Recollecting
himself, however, after a moment, his professional politeness returned,
and he began bowing and simpering his inability to comprehend what had
been addressed to him.

"What for you'll boo, boo, and scrape, scrape there, you tam ass!"
exclaimed Donald, furiously. "Co and pring us the whisky. Two half
mutchkins, I say."

Again the polite landlord of the Golden Eagle, which was the name of the
inn, bowed his non-comprehension of what was said to him.

"Cot's mercy! can you'll not spoke English, either?" shouted Donald,
despairingly, on his second rebuff, and at the same time striking the
table impatiently with his clenched fist. "Can you'll spoke Gaelic,
then?" he added; and, without waiting for a reply, he repeated his
demand in that language. The experiment was unsuccessful. Mine host of
the Golden Eagle understood neither Gaelic nor English. Finding this,
Donald had once more recourse to the dumb show of raising his hand to
his mouth, as if in the act of drinking; and once more he found the sign
perfectly intelligible. On its being made, the landlord instantly
retired, and in a minute after returned with a couple of bottles in
hand, and two very large-sized glasses, which he placed on the table.
Eyeing the bottles contemptuously:--"It's no porter; it's whisky I'll
order," exclaimed Donald, angrily, conceiving that it was the former
beverage that had been brought him. "Porter's drink for hocs, and not
for human podies." Finding it wholly impossible, however, to make this
sentiment understood, Donald was compelled to content himself with the
liquor which had been brought him. Under this conviction, he seized one
of the bottles, filled up a glass to the brim, muttering the while "that
it was tam white, strange-looking porter," started to his feet, and,
holding the glass extended in his hand, shouted the health of his ragged
company, in Gaelic, and bolted the contents. But the effect of this
proceeding was curious. The moment the liquor, which was some of the
common wine of Spain, was over Donald's throat, he stared wildly, as
if he had just done some desperate deed--swallowed an adder by mistake,
or committed some such awkward oversight. This expression of horror
was followed by the most violent sputterings and hideous grimaces,
accompanied by a prodigious assemblage of curses of all sorts, in Gaelic
and English, and sometimes of an equal proportion of both.

"Oich, oich! poisoned, by Cot!--vinekar, horrid vinekar! Lanlort, I
say, what cursed stuffs is this you kive us?" And again Donald sputtered
with an energy and perseverance that nothing but a sense of the utmost
disgust and loathing could have inspired. Both the landlord and Donald's
own guests, at once comprehending his feelings regarding the wine,
hastened, by every act and sign they could think of, to assure him that
he was wrong in entertaining so unfavourable an opinion of its character
and qualities. Mine host, filling up a glass, raised it to his mouth,
and, sipping a little of the liquor, smacked his lips, in token of high
relish of its excellences. He then handed the glass round the company,
all of whom tasted and approved, after the same expressive fashion; and
thus, without a word being said, a collective opinion, hollow against
Donald, was obtained.

"Well, well, trink the apominations, and be curst to you!" said Donald,
who perfectly understood that judgment had gone against him, "and much
goot may't do you! but mysel would sooner trink the dirty bog water of
Sleevrechkin. Oich, oich! the dirts! But I say, lanlort, maype you'll
have got some prandies in the house? I can make shift wi' that when
there's no whisky to be cot."

Fortunately for Donald, mine host of the Golden Eagle at once understood
the word brandy, and, understanding it, lost no time in placing a
measure of that liquor before him; and as little time did Donald lose
in swallowing an immense bumper of the inspiring alcohol.

"Ay," said Donald, with a look of great satisfaction, on performing
this feat, "that's something like a human Christian's trink. No your
tam vinekar, as would colic a horse." Saying this, he filled up and
discussed another modicum of the brandy; his followers, in the meantime,
having done the same duty by the two bottles of wine, which were
subsequently replaced by another two, by the order of their hospitable
entertainer. On Donald, however, his libations were now beginning to
produce, in a very marked manner, their usual effects. He was first
getting into a state of high excitation; thumping the table violently
with his fist, and sputtering out furious discharges of Gaelic and
English, mingled in one strange and unintelligible mess of words, and
seemingly oblivious of the fact that not a syllable of what he said
could be comprehended by his auditory. This, then, was a circumstance
which did not hinder him from entertaining his friends with a graphic
description of Eddernahulish, and a very animated account of a
particular deer-chase in which he had once been engaged. In short, in
the inspiration of the hour, Donald seemed to have entirely forgotten
every circumstance connected with his present position. He appeared to
have forgotten that he was in a foreign land; forgotten the purpose that
brought him there; forgotten his brother; forgotten those associated
with him were Spaniards, not Atholemen; in truth, forgotten everything
he should have recollected. In this happy state of obfuscation, Donald
continued to roar, to drink, and to talk away precisely as he was wont
to do in Rory M'Fadyen's "public" in Kilnichrochokan. From being
oratorical, Donald became musical, and insisted on having a song from
some of his friends; but failing to make his request intelligible, he
volunteered one himself, and immediately struck up, in a strong nasal
twang, and with a voice that made the whole house ring:--

    "Ta Heelan hills are high, high, high,
     An' ta Heelan miles are long;
     But, then, my freens, rememper you,
     Ta Heelan whisky's strong, strong, strong!
            Ta Heelan whisky's strong,

    "And who shall care for ta length o' ta mile,
     Or who shall care for ta hill,
     If he shall have, 'fore he teukit ta way,
     In him's cheek one Heelan shill?
            In him's cheek one Heelan shill?

    "An' maype he'll pe teukit twa;
     I'll no say is no pe tree;
     And what although it should pe four?
     Is no pussiness you or me, me, me--
              Is no pussiness you or me."

Suiting the action to, at least, the spirit of the song, Donald tossed
off another bumper of the alcohol, which had the rather odd effect of
recalling him to some sense of his situation, instead of destroying, as
might have been expected, any little glimmering of light on that subject
which he might have previously possessed. On discussing the last glass
of brandy--

"Now, lads," said Donald, "I must pe going. It's gettin late, and I must
find oot my brother Tuncan Gorm, as decen' a lad as between this and
Eddernahulish." Having said this, and paid his reckoning, Donald began
shaking hands with his friends, one after the other, previous to leaving
them; but his friends had no intention whatever of parting with him in
this way. Donald had incautiously exposed his wealth when settling with
the landlord; and of his wealth, as well as his wine, they determined on
having a share. The ruffians, in short, having communicated with each
other, by nods and winks, resolved to dog him; and, when fitting place
and opportunity should present themselves, to rob and murder him.
Fortunately for Donald, however, they had not exchanged intelligence so
cautiously as to escape his notice altogether. He had seen and taken
note of two or three equivocal acts and motions of his friends; but had
had sufficient prudence, not only to avoid all remark on them, but to
seem as if he had not observed them. Donald, indeed, could not well
conceive what these secret signals meant; but he felt convinced that
they meant "no goot;" and he therefore determined on keeping a sharp
look-out, not only while he was in the presence of his boon companions,
but after he should have left them; for he had a vague notion that they
might possibly follow him for some evil purpose.

Under this latter impression--which had occurred to him only at the
close of their orgie, no suspicion unfavourable to the characters of his
guests having before struck him--Donald, on parting from the latter at
the door of the inn in which they had been regaling, might have been
heard muttering to himself, after he had got to some little distance:--

"Tam rogues, after all, I pelieve."

Having thus distinctly expressed his sentiments regarding his late
companions, Donald pursued his way, although he was very far from
knowing what that way should be. Street after street he traversed,
making frequent vain inquiries for his "broder, Tuncan Gorm," until
midnight, when he suddenly found himself in a large, open space,
intersected by alleys formed by magnificent trees, and adorned by
playing fountains of great beauty and elegance. Donald had got into the
Prado, or public promenade of Madrid; but of the Prado Donald knew
nothing; and much, therefore, did he marvel at what sort of a place he
had got into. The fountains, in particular, perplexed and amazed him;
and it was while contemplating one of these, with a sort of bewildered
curiosity, that he saw a human figure glide from one side to the other
of the avenue in which the object of his contemplation was situated,
and at the distance of about twenty yards. Donald was startled by the
apparition; and, recollecting his former associates, clapped his right
hand instinctively on the hilt of his broadsword, and his left on the
butt of a pistol--one of those stuck in his belt--and in this attitude
awaited the re-appearance of the skulker; but he did not make himself
again visible. Donald, however, felt convinced that there was danger at
hand, and he determined to keep himself prepared to encounter it.

"Some o' ta vinekar-drinking rascals," muttered Donald. "It was no
honest man's drink; nor no goot can come o' a country where they swallow
such apominable liquors."

Thus reasoned Donald with himself, as he stood vigilantly scanning
the localities around him, to prevent a sudden surprise. While thus
engaged, four different persons, all at once, and as if they had acted
by concert, started each from behind a tree, and approached Donald from
four different points, with the purpose, evidently, of distracting his
attention. At once perceiving their intention, and not doubting that
their purposes were hostile, the intrepid Celt, to prevent himself
being surrounded, hastily retreated to a wall which formed part of the
structure of the fountain on which he had been gazing, and, placing his
back against it, awaited, with his drawn sword in one hand and a pistol
in the other, the approach of his enemies, as he had no doubt they were.

"Well, my friends," said Donald, as they drew near him, and discovered
to him four tall fellows, swathed up to the eyes in their cloaks, and
each with a drawn sword in his hand, "what you'll want with me?" No
answer having been returned to this query, and the fellows continuing to
press on, although now more cautiously, as they had perceived that their
intended victim was armed, and stood on the defensive: "Py Shoseph!"
said Donald, "you had petter keep your distance, lads, or my name's no
Tonal Gorm if I don't gif some of you a dish of crowdy."

And, as good as his word, he almost instantly after fired at the
foremost of his assailants, and brought him down. This feat performed,
instead of waiting for the attack of the other three, he instantly
rushed on them sword in hand, and, by the impetuosity of his attack, and
fury of his blows, rendered all their skill of fence useless. With his
huge weapon and powerful arm, both of which he plied with a rapidity and
force which there was no resisting, he broke through their guards as
easily as he would have beat down so many osier wands, and wounded
severely at every blow. It was in vain that Donald's assailants kept
retiring before him, in the hope of getting him at a disadvantage--of
finding an opportunity of having a cut or a thrust at him. No time
was allowed them for any such exploit. Donald kept pressing on, and
showering his tremendous blows on them so thickly, that not an instant
was left them for aggression in turn. They were, besides, rapidly losing
relish for the contest, from the ugly blows they were getting, without a
possibility of returning them. Finding, at length, that the contest was
a perfectly hopeless one, Donald's assailants fairly took to their
heels, and ran for it; but there was one of their number who did not
run far--a few yards, when he fell down and expired. His hurts had been
mortal.

"Oich, oich, lad!" said Donald, peering into the face of the dead man,
"you'll no pe shust that very weel, I'm thinkin. The heelan claymore 'll
not acree with your Spanish stomach. But it's goot medicine for rogues,
for all that." Having thus apostrophized the slain man, Donald sheathed
his weapon, muttering as he did so: "Ta cowartly togs can fight no
more's a turkey hens."

And, cocking his bonnet proudly, he commenced the task of finding his
way back to the city; a task which, after a good many unnecessary, but,
from his ignorance of the localities, unavoidable deviations, he at
length accomplished.

Donald's most anxious desire now was to find a "public" in which to
quarter for the night; but, the hour being late, this was no easy
matter. Every door was shut, and the streets lonely and deserted. At
length, however, our hero stumbled on what appeared to him to be
something of the kind he wanted, although he could have wished it to
have been on a fully smaller and humbler scale. This was a large hotel,
in which every window was blazing with light, and the rooms were filled
with mirthful music. Donald's first impression was that it was a penny
wedding upon a great scale. It was, in truth, a masquerade; and as the
brandy which he had drunk in the earlier part of the evening was still
in his head, he proposed to himself taking a very active part in the
proceedings. On entering the hotel, however, which he did boldly, he was
rather surprised at the splendours of various kinds which greeted his
eyes--marble stairs, gorgeous lamps, gilt cornices, &c., &c., and sundry
other indications of grandeur which he had never seen equalled even in
Tain or Dingwall, to say nothing of his native parish of Macharuarich,
and he had been in his time in every public-house of any repute in all
of them. These circumstances did not disabuse Donald of his original
idea of its being a penny-wedding. He only thought that they conducted
these things in greater style in Spain than in Scotland, and with this
solution of the difficulty, suggested by the said splendours, Donald
mounted the broad marble staircase, and stalked into the midst of a
large apartment filled with dancers. The variety and elegance of the
dresses of these last again staggered Donald's belief in the nature of
the merry-making, and made him doubt whether he had conjectured aright.
These doubts, however, did not for an instant shake his determination to
have a share in the fun. It was a joyous dancing party, and that was
quite enough for him. In the meantime he contented himself with staring
at the strange but splendid figures by whom he was surrounded, and who
were, in various corners of the apartment, gliding through the "mazy
dance." But if Donald's surprise was great at the costumes which he was
now so intently marking, those who displayed them were no less surprised
at that which he exhibited. Donald's strange, but striking attire, in
truth, had attracted all eyes; and much did those who beheld it wonder
in all the earth to what country it belonged. But simple wonder and
admiration were not the only sensations which Donald's garb produced
on the masquers. His kilt had other effects. It drove half the ladies
screaming out of the apartment, to its wearer's great surprise and no
small displeasure. The guise which Donald wore, however, and which all
believed to have been donned for the occasion, was, on the whole, much
approved of, and the wearer, in more than one instance, complimented for
his taste in having selected so novel and striking a garb. But even his
warmest applauders objected to the scantiness of the kilt, and hinted
that, for decorum's sake, this part of his dress should have been
carried down to his heels. This improvement on his kilt was suggested,
in the most polite terms, to Donald himself, by a Spanish gentleman, who
spoke a little English, and who had ascertained that our hero was a
native of Great Britain, and whom he believed to be a man of note. To
this suggestion Donald made no other reply than by a look of the utmost
indignation and contempt. The Spanish gentleman, whose name was Don
Sebastanio, seeing that his remark had given offence, hastened to
apologise for the liberty he had taken--assuring Donald that he meant
nothing disrespectful or insulting. This apology was just made in time,
as the irritable Celt had begun to entertain the idea of challenging
the Spaniard to mortal combat. As it was, however, his good nature
at once gave way to the pacific overture that was made him. Seizing
the apologist by the hand, with a gripe that produced some dismal
contortions of countenance on the part of him on whom it was inflicted--

"Is no harm done at all, my friend. You'll not know no petter, having
never peen, I dare say, in our country, or seen a heelanman pefore."

The Spaniard declared he never had had either of these happinesses, and
concluded by inviting Donald to an adjoining apartment to have some
refreshment--an invitation which Donald at once obeyed.

"Now, my good sir," said his companion, on their entering a sort of
refectory where were a variety of tables spread with abundance of the
good things of this life and of Madrid, "what shall you prefer?"

"Herself's not fery hungry, but a little thirsty," said Donald, flinging
himself down on a seat in a free-and-easy way, with his legs astride, so
as to allow free suspension to his huge goat-skin purse, and doffing his
bonnet, and wiping the perspiration from his forehead--"Herself's no
fery hungry, but a little thirsty; and she'll teukit, if you please, a
fery small drop of whisky and water."

The Spaniard was nonplussed. He had never even heard of whisky in his
life, and was therefore greatly at a loss to understand what sort of
liquor his friend meant. Donald, perceiving his difficulty, and guessing
that it was of the same nature with the one which he had already
experienced, hastily transmuted his demand for whisky into one for
brandy, which was immediately supplied him, when Donald, pouring into
a rummer a quantity equal to at least six glasses, filled up with
water, and drank the whole off, to the inexpressible amazement of his
companion, who, however, although he looked unutterable things at the
enormous draught, was much too polite to say anything.

Thus primed a second time, Donald, seeing his new friend engaged with
some ladies who had unexpectedly joined him, returned alone to the
dancing apartment, which he entered with a whoop of encouragement to the
performers that startled every one present, and for an instant arrested
the motions of the dancers, who could not comprehend the meaning of his
uncouth cries. Regardless of this effect of his interference in the
proceedings of the evening, Donald, with a countenance beaming with
hilarity, and eyes sparkling with wild and reckless glee, took up a
conspicuous position in the room, and from thence commenced edifying the
dancers by a series of short abrupt shouts or yells, accompanied by a
vigorous clapping of his hands, at once to intimate his satisfaction
with the performances, and to encourage the performers themselves to
further exertions. Getting gradually, however, too much into the spirit
of the thing to be content with being merely an onlooker, Donald all at
once capered into the middle of the floor, snapping his fingers and
thumbs, and calling out to the musicians to strike up "Caber Feigh;"
and, without waiting to hear whether his call was obeyed, he commenced a
vigorous exhibition of the highland fling, to the great amazement of the
bystanders, who, instantly abandoning their own pursuits, crowded around
him to witness this to them most extraordinary performance. Thus
occupied, and thus situated--the centre of a "glittering ring"--Donald
continued to execute with unabated energy the various strongly-marked
movements of his national dance, amidst the loud applauses of the
surrounding spectators. On concluding--

"Oich, oich!" exclaimed Donald, out of breath with his exertion, and
looking laughingly round on the circle of bystanders. "Did ever I think
to dance ta heelan fling in Madrid! Och, no, no! Never, by Shoseph! But,
I dare say, it'll pe the first time that it was ever danced here."

From this moment Donald became a universal favourite in the room, and
the established lion of the night. Where-ever he went he was surrounded
with an admiring group, and was overloaded with civilities of all kinds,
including frequent offers of refreshment; so that he speedily found
himself in most excellent quarters. There was, however, one drawback in
his happiness. He could get no share in the dancing excepting what he
chose to perform solus, as there was nothing in that way to be seen in
the room in the shape of a reel, nor was there a single tune played of
which he could make either head or tail--nothing but "your foreign
trash, with neither spunk nor music in them." Determined, however,
since his highland fling had been so much approved of, to give a
specimen of the highland reel, if he could possibly make it out, Donald,
as a first step, looked around him for a partner; and seeing a very
handsome girl seated in one of the corners of the apartment, and
apparently disengaged, he made up to her, and, making one of his best bows,
solicited the honour of her joining him in a reel. Without understanding
the language in which she was addressed, but guessing that it conveyed
an invitation to the floor, the young lady at once arose and curtsied an
acquiescence, when Donald, taking her gallantly by the hand, led her up
to the front of the orchestra, in order that he might bespeak the
appropriate music for the particular species of dance he contemplated.
On approaching sufficiently near to the musicians--

"Fittlers," he shouted, at the top of his voice, "I say, can you'll kive
us 'Rothiemurchus' Rant,' or the 'Trucken Wives of Fochabers?'"

Then turning to his partner, and flinging his arms about her neck in an
ecstasy of Highland excitation, capering at the same time hilariously in
anticipation of the coming strain--

"Them's the tunes, my lass, for putting mettle in your heels."

A scream from the lady with whom Donald was using these unwarrantable
personal liberties, and a violent attempt on her part to escape
from them, suddenly arrested Donald's hilarity, and excited his
utmost surprise. In the next instant he was surrounded by at least
half-a-dozen angry cavaliers, amongst whom there was a brandishing of
swords and much violent denunciation, all directed against Donald, and
excited by his unmannerly rudeness to a lady. It was some seconds before
Donald could comprehend the meaning of all this wrath, or believe that
he was at once the cause and the object of it. But on this becoming
plain--

"Well, shentlemen," he said, "I did not mean anything wrong. No offence
at all to the girl. It was just the fashion of my country; and I'm sorry
for it."

To this apology of Donald's, of which, of course, not a word was
understood, the only reply was a more fierce flourishing of brands, and
a greater volubility and vehemence of abuse; the effect of which was at
once to arouse Donald's choler, and to urge him headlong on extremities.

"Well, well," he said, "if you'll not have satisfaction any other way
than py the sword, py the sword you shall have it."

And instantly drawing, he stood ready to encounter at once the whole
host of his enemies. What might have been the result of so unequal a
contest, had it taken place, we cannot tell--and this simply because
no encounter did take place. At the moment that Donald was awaiting
the onset of the foe--a proceeding, by the way, which they were now
marvellously slow in adopting, notwithstanding the fury with which
they had opened the assault, a party of the king's guard, with fixed
bayonets, rushed into the apartment, and bore Donald forcibly out into
the street, where they left him, with angry signs that if he attempted
to return, he would meet with still worse treatment. Donald had prudence
enough to perceive that any attempt to resent the insult that had been
offered him--seeing that it was perpetrated by a dozen men armed with
musket and bayonet--would be madness, and therefore contented himself
with muttering in Gaelic some expressions of high indignation and
contempt. Having delivered himself to this effect, he proudly adjusted
his plaid, and stalked majestically away.

It was now so far advanced in the morning that Donald abandoned all idea
of seeking for a bed, and resolved on prosecuting an assiduous search
for his brother. This he accordingly commenced, and numerous were the
calls at shops, and frequent the inquiries he made for Tuncan Gorm; but
unavailing were they all. No one understood a word of what he addressed
to them; and thus, of course, no one could give him the information he
desired. It was in vain, too, that Donald carefully scanned every sign
that he passed, to see that it did not bear the anxiously looked for
name. On none of them did it appear. They were all, as Donald himself
said, Fouros, and Beuros, and Lebranos, and Dranos, and other outlandish
and unchristian-like names. Not a heeland or lowland shopkeeper amongst
them. No such a decent and civilized name to be met with as Gorm, or
Brolachan, or M'Fadyen, or Macharuarich, or M'Cuallisky.

Tired and disappointed, Donald, after wandering up and down the streets
for several hours, bethought him of adjourning to a tavern to have
something to eat, and probably something to drink also. Seeing such a
house as he wanted, he entered, and desired the landlord to furnish him
with some dinner. In a few seconds two dishes were placed before him;
but what these dishes were, Donald could not at all make out. They
resembled nothing in the edible way he had ever seen before, and the
flavour was most alarming. Nevertheless, being pretty sharp-set, he
resolved to try them, and for this purpose drew one of the dishes
towards him, when, having peered as curiously and cautiously into it for
a few seconds as if he feared it would leap up in his face and bite him,
and curling his nose the while into strong disapprobation of its odour,
he lifted several spoonfuls of the black greasy mess on his plate. At
this point Donald found his courage failing him; but, as his host stood
behind his chair and was witness to all his proceedings, he did not like
either to express the excessive disgust he was beginning to feel, nor to
refuse tasting of what was set before him. Mustering all his remaining
courage, therefore, he plunged his spoon with desperate violence into
the nauseous mess, which seemed to Donald to be some villanous compound
of garlic, rancid oil, and dough; and raising it to his lips, shut his
eyes, and boldly thrust it into his mouth. Donald's resolution, however,
could carry him no farther. To swallow it he found utterly impossible,
now that the horrors of both taste and smell were full upon him. In this
predicament, Donald had no other way for it but to give back what he had
taken; and this course he instantly followed, adding a large interest,
and exclaiming--

"My Cot! what sort of a country is this? Your drinks is poison, and your
meats is poison, and everything is apominations apout you. Oich, oich! I
wish to Cot I was back to Eddernahulish again; for I'll pe either
poisoned or murdered amongst you if I remain much longer here. That's
peyond all doubt."

And having thus expressed himself, Donald started to his feet, and was
about to leave the house without any farther ceremony, when the landlord
adroitly planted himself between him and the door, and demanded the
reckoning. Donald did not know precisely what was asked of him, but
he guessed that it was a demand for payment, and this demand he was
determined to resist, on the ground that what he could not eat he ought
not to be called on to pay for. Full of this resolution, and having no
doubt that he was right in his conjecture as to the landlord's purpose
in preventing his exit--

"Pay for ta apominations!" said Donald, wrathfully. "Pay for ta poison!
It's myself will see you at Jericho first. Not a farthing, not one tam
farthing, will I pay you for ta trash. So stand out of the way, my
friend, pefore worse comes of it."

Saying this, Donald advanced to the door, and seizing its guardian by
the breast, laid him gently on his back on the floor, and stepping over
his prostrate body, walked deliberately out of the house, without
further interruption, mine host not thinking it advisable to excite
further the choler of so dangerous a customer, and one who had just
given him so satisfactory a specimen of his personal prowess. Another
day had now nearly passed away, and Donald was still as far, to all
appearance, from finding the object of his search as ever he had
been. He was, moreover, now both hungry and thirsty; but these were
evils which he soon after succeeded in obviating for the time, by
a more successful foray than the last. Going into another house of
entertainment, he contrived to make a demand for bread and cheese
intelligible--articles which he had specially condescended on, that
there might be "no mistake;" and with these and a pretty capacious
measure of brandy, he managed to effect a very tolerable passover.
Before leaving this house, Donald made once more the already oft
but vainly-repeated inquiry, whether he knew (he was addressing his
landlord) where one Duncan Gorm stopped. It did not now surprise Donald
to find that his inquiry was not understood; but it did both surprise
and delight him when his host, who had abruptly left the room for an
instant, returned with a person who spoke very tolerable English. This
man was a muleteer, and had resided for some years in London, in the
service of the Spanish ambassador. His name--a most convenient one for
Donald to pronounce--was Mendoza Ambrosius. On being introduced to this
personage, Donald expressed the utmost delight at finding in him one
who spoke a Christian language, as he called it; and, in the joy of
his heart with his good fortune, ordered in a jorum of brandy for the
entertainment of himself and Mr. Ambrosius. The liquor being brought,
and several horns of it discussed, Donald and his new friend got as
thick as "ben' leather." And on this happy understanding being
established, the former began to detail, at all the length it would
admit of, the purpose of his visit to Madrid, and the occurrences that
had befallen him since his arrival; prefacing these particulars with a
sketch of his history, and some account of the place of his nativity;
and concluding the whole by asking his companion if he could in any way
assist him to find his brother, Duncan Gorm.

The muleteer replied, in the best English he could command, that he did
not know the particular person inquired after, but that he knew the
residences of two or three natives of Britain, some of whom, he thought
it probable, might be acquainted with his brother; and that he would
have much pleasure in conducting him to these persons, for the purpose
of ascertaining this. Donald thanked his friend for his civility; and,
in a short time thereafter, the brandy having been finished in the
interim, the two set out together on their expedition of inquiry. It was
a clear, moonlight night; but, although it was so, and the hour what
would be considered in this country early, the streets were nearly
deserted, and as lonely and quiet as if Madrid were a city of the dead.
This stillness had the effect of making the smallest sound audible even
at a great distance, and to this stillness it was owing that Donald and
his friend suddenly heard, soon after they had set out, the clashing of
swords, intermingled with occasional shouts, at a remote part of the
street they were traversing.

"What's tat?" exclaimed Donald, stopping abruptly, and cocking his ears
at the well-known sound of clashing steel. His companion, accustomed to
such occurrences, replied, with an air of indifference, that it was
merely some street brawl.

"It'll pe these tam vinekar drinkers again," said Donald, with a lively
recollection of the assault that had been made upon himself; "maybe some
poor shentleman's in distress. Let us go and see, my tear sir." To this
proposal, the muleteer, with a proper sense of the folly of throwing
himself in the way of mischief unnecessarily, would at first by no means
accede; but, on being urged by Donald, agreed to move on a little with
him towards the scene of conflict. This proceeding soon brought them
near enough to the combatants to perceive that Donald's random
conjecture had not been far wrong, by discovering to them one person,
who, with his back to the wall, was bravely defending himself against
no fewer than four assailants, all being armed with swords.

"Did not I tell you so!" exclaimed Donald, in great excitation, on
seeing how matters stood. "Noo, Maister Tozy Brozy, shoulder to
shoulder, my tear, and we'll assist this poor shentleman." Saying this,
Donald drew his claymore, and rushed headlong on to the rescue, calling
on Tozy Brozy to follow him; but Tozy Brozy's feelings and impulses
carried him in a totally different direction. Fearing that his friend's
interference in the squabble might have the effect of directing some of
the blows his way, he fairly took to his heels, leaving Donald to do by
himself what to himself seemed needful in the case. In the meantime, too
much engrossed by the duty before him to mind much whether his friend
followed him or not, Donald struck boldly in, in aid of the "shentleman
in distress," exclaiming, as he did so--

"Fair play, my tears! Fair play's a shewel everywhere, and I suppose
here too." And, saying this, with one thundering blow that fairly split
the skull of the unfortunate wight on whom it fell in twain, Donald
lessened the number of the combatants by one. The person to whose aid he
had thus so unexpectedly and opportunely come, seeing what an effectual
ally he had got, gave a shout of triumphant joy, and, although much
exhausted by the violence and length of his exertions in defending
himself, instantly became the assailant in his turn. Inspired with new
life and vigour, he pressed on his enemies with a fury that compelled
them to give way; and, being splendidly seconded by Donald, whose
tremendous blows were falling with powerful effect on those against whom
they were directed, the result was, in a few seconds, the flight of the
enemy; who, in rapid succession, one after the other, took to their
heels, although not without carrying along with them several authentic
certificates of the efficiency of Donald's claymore.

On the retreat of the bravos--for such they were--the person whom Donald
had so efficiently served in his hour of need, flew towards him, and,
taking him in his arms, poured out a torrent of thanks for the prompt
and gallant aid he had afforded him. But, as these thanks were expressed
in Spanish, they were lost on him to whom they were addressed. Not so,
however, the indications of gratitude evinced in the acts by which they
were accompanied. These Donald perfectly understood, and replied to them
as if their sense had been conveyed to him in a language which he
comprehended.

"No thanks at all, my tear sir. A Heelantman will always assist a freend
where a few plows will do him goot. You would shust do the same to me,
I'm sure. But," added Donald, as he sheathed his most serviceable
weapon, "this is the tam place for fechtin' I have ever seen. I thocht
our own Heelants pad enough, but this is ten times worse, py Shoseph! I
have no peen more than four-and-twenty hours in Ma-a-treed, and I'll
have peen in tree fecht already."

More of this speech was understood by the person to whom it was
addressed, than might have been expected under all these circumstances.
This person was a Spanish gentleman of rank and great wealth, of the
name of Don Antonio Nunnez, whose acquirements included a very competent
knowledge of the English language, which, although he spoke it but
indifferently, he understood very well. Yet it certainly did require
all his knowledge of it, to recognise it in the shape in which Donald
presented it to him. This, however, to a certain extent, he did, and, in
English, now repeated his sense of the important obligation Donald had
conferred on him. But it was not to words alone that the grateful and
generous Spaniard meant to confine his acknowledgments of the service
that had been rendered him. Having ascertained that Donald was a perfect
stranger in the city, he insisted on his going home with him, and
remaining with him during his stay in Madrid, and further requesting
that he would seek at his hands, and no other's, any service or
obligation, of whatever nature it might be, of which he should stand
in need during his stay.

To these generous proffers, Donald replied, that the greatest service
that could be done him was to inform him where he could find his
brother, Duncan Gorm. Don Antonio first expressed surprise to learn that
Donald had a brother in Madrid, and then his sorrow that he did not
know, nor had ever heard of such a person.

"He'll keep a public," said Donald.

"What is that, my friend?" inquired Don Antonio.

"Sell a shill, to be sure--I'll thocht everybody know that," said
Donald, a good deal surprised at the other's ignorance.

"Shill? shill?" repeated the Spaniard--"and pray, my friend, what is a
shill?"

"Cot pless me! don't you'll know what a shill is?" rejoined Donald, with
increased amazement. "If you'll come with me to Eddernahulish, I'll show
you what a shill is, and help you to drink it too."

"Well, well, my friend," said Don Antonio. "I'll get an explanation of
what a 'shill' is from you afterwards; but, in the meantime, you'll come
with me, if you please, as I am anxious to introduce you to some friends
at home!"

Saying this, he took Donald's arm, in order to act as his conductor,
and, after leading him through two or three streets, brought him to the
door of a very large and handsome house. Don Antonio having knocked at
this door, it was immediately opened by a servant in splendid livery,
who, on recognising his master--for such was Donald's friend--instantly
stepped aside, and respectfully admitted the pair. In the vestibule, or
passage, which was exceedingly magnificent, were a number of other
serving men in rich liveries, who drew themselves up on either side, in
order to allow their master and his friend to pass; and much did they
marvel at the strange garb in which that friend appeared. Don Antonio
now conducted Donald up the broad marbled staircase, splendidly
illuminated with a variety of elegant lamps, in which the vestibule
terminated; and, on reaching the top of the first flight, ushered him
into a large and gorgeously-furnished apartment, in which were two
ladies dressed in deep mourning. To these ladies, one of whom was the
mother, the other the sister of Don Antonio, the latter introduced his
amazed and awe-stricken companion, as a person to whom he was indebted
for his life. He then explained to his relations what had occurred, and
did not fail to give Donald's promptitude and courage a due share of his
laudations. With a gratitude not less earnest than his own had been, the
mother and sister of Don Antonio took Donald by the hand; the one
taking the right, and the other the left, and, looking in his face,
with an expression of the utmost kindness, thanked him for the great
obligation he had conferred on them. These thanks were expressed in
Spanish; but, on Don Antonio's mentioning that Donald was a native of
Britain, and that he did not, as he rather thought, understand the
Spanish language, his sister, a beautiful girl of one or two-and-twenty,
repeated them, in somewhat minced, but perfectly intelligible English.
Great as Donald's perturbation was at finding himself so suddenly and
unexpectedly placed in a situation so much at variance with anything
he had been accustomed to, it did not prevent him marking, in a very
special manner, the dark sparkling eyes and rich sable tresses of Donna
Nunnez, the name of Don Antonio's sister. Nor, we must add, did the
former look with utter indifference on the manly form, so advantageously
set off as it was by his native dress, of Donald Gorm. But of this anon.
In a short time after, a supper, corresponding in elegance and splendour
to all the other elegances and splendours of this lordly mansion, was
served up; and, on its conclusion, Donald was conducted, by Don Antonio
himself, to a sleeping apartment, furnished with the same magnificence
that prevailed throughout the whole house. Having ushered him into his
apartment, Donald's host bade him a kind good-night, and left him to his
repose.

What Donald's feelings were on finding himself thus so superbly
quartered, now that he had time to think on the subject, and could do so
unrestrained by the presence of any one, we do not precisely know; but,
if one might have judged by the under-breath exclamations in which he
indulged, and by the looks of amazement and inquiry which he cast around
him, from time to time, on the splendours by which he was surrounded,
especially on the gorgeous bed, with its gilt canopy and curtains of
crimson silk, which was destined for his night's resting-place, these
feelings would appear to have been, after all, fully more perplexing
than pleasing. It was, in truth, just too much of a good thing; and
Donald felt it to be so. But still the whole had a smack of good fortune
about it that was very far from being disagreeable, and that certainly
had the effect of reconciling Donald to the little discordance between
former habits and present circumstances, which his position for the time
excited.

While at breakfast on the following morning with Don Antonio and his
mother and sister, the first asked Donald if he had any particular ties
in his own country that would imperatively demand his return home; and
on Donald's replying that there were none, Don Antonio immediately
inquired whether he would accept a commission in the King of Spain's
body-guards:--"Because," said he, "if you will, I have, I believe,
influence enough to procure it for you."

Donald said he had no objection in the world to try it for a year or
two, at any rate--only he would like to consult his "broder Tuncan"
first.

"True, true," said Don Antonio; "I promised to assist you in finding out
your relative--and I shall do so."

As good as his word in this particular, and a great deal better in many
others in which Donald was interested, Don Antonio instantly set an
inquiry on foot, which, in less than two hours, brought the brothers
together. The sequel of our story, although containing the very essence
of Donald's good fortune, is soon told. His brother, highly approving of
his accepting the commission offered to him, Don Antonio lost no time in
procuring him that appointment; and in less than three weeks from his
arrival in Madrid, Donald Gorm figured as a captain in the King of
Spain's body-guards, in which service he ultimately attained the rank
of colonel, together with a title of honour, which enabled him to ask,
without fear of giving offence, and to obtain, the hand of Donna Nunnez,
with a dowry second to that of no fair damsel in Spain. Donald never
again returned to Eddernahulish, but continued in the country of his
adoption till his death; and in that country some of his descendants
to this hour bear amongst the proudest names of which it can boast.



THE SURGEON'S TALES.

THE CURED INGRATE.


Every person who has studied, even in the most cursory manner, the
checkered page of human life, must have observed that there are in
continual operation through mankind some great secret moral agents,
the powers of which are exerted within the heart, and beyond the reach
of the consciousness or observation of the individual himself who is
subject to their influence. There is a steadfastness of virtue in some
high-minded men, which enables them to resist the insidious temptations
of the bad demon; there is also a stern stability of vice often found
in the unfortunate outlaw, which disregards, for a time, the voice of
conscience, and spurns the whispered wooing of the good principle,
"charm it never so wisely;" yet the real confessions of the hearts of
those individuals would show traces enough of the agency of the unseen
power to prove their want of title to an exception from the general rule
which includes all the sons of Adam. We find, also, that extraordinary
moral effects are often produced, in a dark and mysterious manner, from
physical causes: every medical man has the power of recording, if he has
had the faculty of observing, changes in the minds, principles, and
feelings of patients who have come through the fiery ordeal of a
terrible disease, altogether unaccountable on any rules of philosophy
yet discovered.

Not many years ago, a well-dressed young woman called one evening
upon me, and stated that her lady, whose name, she said, would be
communicated by herself, had been ill for some days, and wished me to
visit her privately. I asked her when she required my attendance; and
got for answer, that she, the messenger, would conduct me to the
residence of the patient, if it was convenient for me to go at that
time. I was disengaged, and agreed to accompany the young woman as soon
as I had given directions to my assistant regarding the preparation of
some medicines which required the application of chemical rules. To be
ingenuous, I was a little curious to know the secret of this private
call; for that there was a secret about it was plain, from the words,
and especially the manner, of the young woman, who spoke mysteriously,
and did not seem to wish any questions put to her on the subject of her
mission. The night was dark, but the considerate messenger had provided
a lantern; and, to anticipate my scruples, she said that the distance we
had to go would not render it necessary for me to take my carriage--a
five-minutes' walk being sufficient to take us to our destination.

Resigning myself to the guidance of my conductress, I requested her
to lead the way, and we proceeded along two neighbouring streets
of considerable length, and then turned up to ---- Square--a
place where the rich and fashionable part of the inhabitants of the town
have their residences. At the mouth of a coach entry, which ran along
the gable of a large house, and apparently led to the back offices
connected with the residence, the young woman stopped, and whispered to
me to take care of my feet, as she was to use the liberty of leading me
along a meuse lane to a back entrance, through which I was to be
conducted into the chamber of the sick lady. I obeyed her directions;
and, keeping close behind her, was led along the lane, and through
several turns and windings which I feared I might not again be able to
trace without a guide, until we came to a back door, when the young
woman--begging my pardon for her forwardness--took hold of my hand,
and led me along a dark passage, then up a stair, then along another
passage, which was lighted by some wax tapers placed in recesses in the
wall; at the end of which, she softly opened a door, and ushered me into
a very large bedroom, the magnificence of which was only partly revealed
to me by a small lamp filled with aromatic oil, whose fragrance filled
the apartment. The young woman walked quickly forward to a bed, hung
with light green silk damask curtains fringed with yellow, and
luxuriously ornamented with a superfluity of gilding; and, drawing aside
the curtains, she whispered a few words into the ear of some one lying
there, apparently in distress; then hurried out of the room, leaving me
standing on the floor, without introduction or explanation.

The novelty of my position deprived me for a moment of my
self-possession, and I stood stationary in the middle of the room,
deliberating upon whether I should call back my conductress, and ask
from her some explanation, or proceed forward to the couch, where,
no doubt, my services were required; but my hesitation was soon
resolved, by the extraordinary appearance of an Indian-coloured female
countenance, much emaciated, and lighted up with two bright orbs,
occupying the interstice between the curtains, and beckoning on me,
apparently with a painful effort, forward. I obeyed, and, throwing open
the large folds of damask, had as full a view of my extraordinary
patient as the light that emanated from the perfumed lamp, and shone
feebly on her dark countenance, would permit. She beckoned to me to take
a chair, which stood by the side of the bed; and, having complied with
her mute request, I begged to know what was the complaint under which
she laboured, that I might endeavour to yield her such relief as was in
the power of our professional art. I thus limited my question to the
nature of her disease, in the expectation that she herself would clear
up the mystery which hung around the manner in which I was called, and
introduced to so extraordinary a scene as that which was now before me.
Her great weakness seemed to require some composure, and a collecting of
her scattered and reduced energies, before she could answer my simple
question. I now observed more perfectly than I had yet done the
character and style of the room into which I had been introduced--its
furniture, ornaments, and luxuries; and, above all, the extraordinary,
foreign-looking invalid who seemed to be the mistress of so much
grandeur. Though a bedroom, the apartment seemed to have had lavished
upon its fitting-up as much money as is often expended on a lord's
drawing-room--the bed itself, the wardrobes, pier-glasses, toilets,
and dressing-cases, being of the most elaborate workmanship and costly
character--the pictures numerous, and magnificently framed; while on all
sides were to be seen foreign ornaments, chiefly Chinese and Indian, of
brilliant appearance, and devoted to purposes and uses of refined luxury
of which I could form no adequate conception. On a small table, near the
bed, there was a multiplicity of boxes, vials, trinkets, and bijouterie
of all kinds; and fragrant mixtures, intended to perfume the apartment,
were exposed in various quarters, and even scattered exuberantly on
spread covers of satin, with a view to their yielding their sweets
more freely, and filling all the corners of the room. In full contrast
with all this array of grandeur and luxury, lay the strange-looking
individual already mentioned, on the gorgeous bed. She was apparently
an East Indian; and, though possessed of comely features, she was even
darker than the fair Hindoos we often see in this country. The sickness
under which she laboured, and which appeared to be very severe, had
rendered her thin and cadaverous-looking--making the balls of her
brilliant eyes assume the appearance of being protruded, and imparting
to all her features a sharp, prominent aspect, the very reverse of the
natural Indian type; yet, true to her sex and the manners of her
country, she was splendidly decorated, even in this state of dishabille
and distress; the coverlet being of rich Indian manufacture, and
resplendent with the dyes of the East--her gown and cap decorated with
costly needlework--her fingers covered with a profusion of rings, while
a cambric handkerchief, richly embroidered, in her right hand, had
partly enveloped in its folds a large golden vinegarette, set profusely
with glittering gems.

The rapid survey which enabled me to gather this general estimate of
what was presented to me, was nearly completed before the invalid had
collected strength enough to answer my question; and she was just
beginning to speak--having as yet pronounced only a few inarticulate
syllables--when she was interrupted by the entrance of the same young
woman who had acted as my conductress, and who now exhibited a manner
the very opposite of the soft, quiet, slipping nature of her former
carriage. The suddenness, and even impetuosity of her entry, was
inconsistent with the character of nurse to a lady in so distressed a
condition as that of her apparent mistress; but her subsequent conduct
was much more incomprehensible and extraordinary; for, without speaking
and without stopping, she rushed forward, and, taking me by the arm,
hurried me away through the door by which I had entered, along the
lighted passage, down the stair, and never stopped until she landed me
on the threshold of the back-door by which I entered the house. At this
time I heard the bell of, as I thought, the fore or street door of the
house ringing violently; and my conductress, without saying a word, ran
away as fast as the darkness would permit, leaving me, perplexed and
confounded at what I had seen and heard, to find my way home in the best
way I could.

In my professional capacity I had not been accustomed to any mysterious
or secret practice of our art, which, being exercised ostensibly and in
reality for the benefit of mankind, requires no cloak to cover its
operations; and, though I was curious to know the secret of such
incomprehensible proceedings, I felt no admiration of, or relish
for adventures so unsuited to the life and manners of a sober,
practical man. One thing, however, was clear, and seemed sufficient
to reconcile my practical, every-day notions of life with this mysterious
negotiation, and even to solve the doubt I entertained whether I should
again trust myself as a party to the devices of secrecy--and that was,
that the individual I had been thus called to see professionally was in
such a condition of body as required urgently the administrations of a
medical practitioner. On the following day, I resolved upon making some
inquiries, with a view to ascertain who and what the individual was that
occupied the house to which I had been introduced, and which, upon a
survey in daylight, I could have no difficulty in tracing; but I
happened to be too much occupied to be able to put my purpose into
execution; and was thus obliged to remain, during the day, in a state
of suspense and ignorance of the secret involved in my previous night's
professional adventure. In the evening, however, and about the same hour
at which the messenger called for me on the previous occasion, the
same individual waited on me, with an apology for the apparently
unceremonious treatment I had received, and which, she said, would be
explained to my satisfaction; and a renewed request that I would again
accompany her to the same house, and on the same errand. I told the
messenger that I bore no great love to these secret adventures, but that
I would consent, on this occasion, to make a sacrifice of my principles
and feelings to the hope of being able to be of some use, in a
professional way, to the distressed lady I had seen on the previous
occasion, whose situation, so far as I could judge from appearances, was
not far removed from the extremity of danger. I again, accordingly,
committed myself to the guidance of the young woman; and, after a
repetition of the windings and evolutions of the previous visit, soon
found myself again seated in the chair that stood by the gorgeous bed of
the strange invalid. Everything seemed to be in the same situation as
before: the lamp gave out its weak light, the perfumes exhaled their
sweets, and the distressed lady exhibited the same strange contrast
between her reduced sickly condition and the superb finery of her
dishabille.

I had not been long seated, when she struggled to inform me, in a very
weak voice, that she was much beholden to me for my attention, and
grieved for the unceremonious treatment I had received on my last
visit. I replied, that I laid my account with much greater personal
inconvenience, in the pursuit of my profession, than any to which she
had subjected or could subject me--all such considerations being, in my
apprehension, of small importance in comparison with the good we had
often the power of administering to individuals in distress; and begged
to know the nature of the complaint under which she too evidently
laboured, that I might endeavour to ameliorate her sufferings, and
restore her to that health without which the riches she apparently was
mistress of, could be of small avail in rendering her happy. She
appeared grateful for the sentiments I expressed; and proceeded to tell
me, still with the same struggling difficulty of utterance, arising from
her extreme weakness, that she was the wife of Colonel P----, the
proprietor of the mansion into which I had been thus secretly
introduced, for reasons she would explain in the course of her
narrative. She had been married to her husband, she proceeded, in the
East Indies, of which country she was a native; and, having succeeded
to a large fortune on the death of her father, had given it all freely
without bond, contract, or settlement, to her husband, whom she loved,
honoured, and worshipped, beyond all earthly beings, and with an ardour
which had never abated from the first moment she had become his wife.
Nor was the affection limited to one side of the house; for she was
more than satisfied that her lord and master--grateful, no doubt, for
the rank, honour, riches, and independence to which she had raised
him--loved her with an affection at least equal to her own. But all
these advantages (and she sighed deeply as she proceeded) were of little
consequence to the production of happiness, if the greatest of all
blessings, health, were denied to the possessor; and that too she had
enjoyed, uninterruptedly, until about a month previously, when she was
seized with an illness, the nature of which she could not comprehend;
and which, notwithstanding all the anxious efforts of her husband, had
continued unabated to that hour.

She paused, and seemed much exhausted by the struggle she made to let
me thus far into her history. The concluding part of her statement,
combined with the still unexplained secrecy of my call, surprised me,
and defied my powers of penetration. This lady had been dangerously ill
for a month, during all which time no medical man had been called to
her aid; and even now, when her body was attenuated, and her strength
exhausted to the uttermost, professional assistance had been introduced
into the house by stealth, as if it were against the laws to ameliorate
human sufferings by curing diseases. This apparent anomaly in human
conduct struck me so forcibly that I could not refrain from asking the
patient, even before she recovered strength enough to answer me, what
was her or her husband's reason for not calling assistance; and why that
assistance was at last requested under the cloud of secrecy and
apprehension.

"That I intended to explain to you," she said, after a pause. "When I
felt myself ill (and my complaint commenced by excruciating pains in my
stomach, accompanied with vomiting), I told my husband that I feared it
would be necessary to call a doctor; but, ah, sir! the very thought
of the necessity of medical aid to the object of so much love and
tenderness, put him almost frantic. He confessed that it was a weakness;
but declared his inability to conquer it. Yet, alas! his unremitting
kindness has not diminished my disease. Though I have taken everything
his solicitude has suggested and offered to me, my pains still continue,
my appetite is entirely gone, and the weakness of my body has approached
that of the helpless infant. Three days ago I thought I would have
breathed my last; and parting thoughts of my native country, and the
dear friends I left there to follow the fortunes of a dearer stranger,
passed through my mind with the feeling of a long and everlasting
farewell. My husband wept over me, and prayed for my recovery; but he
could not think me so ill as to make the call of the doctor imperative;
and I did not press a subject which I saw was painful to him. No, sir,
I would rather have died than have produced in him the slightest
uneasiness; and my object in calling you in the secret manner you have
witnessed, was simply to avoid causing to him the pain of thinking that
my illness was so great as to render your services absolutely
necessary."

The communication I now heard, which was spoken in broken sentences
and after considerable pauses, in place of clearing up my difficulty,
increased it, and added to my surprise. Some light was, no doubt, thrown
on the cause which produced the secret manner of my visitation; but
every other circumstance attending the unfortunate lady's case was
merged in deeper gloom and mystery. The circumstance of a husband who
loved his wife refusing to call professional assistance, appeared to be
not less extraordinary than the reason assigned for it--even with all
the allowances, justified by a very prevailing prejudice, in some weak
minds, against the extremity of calling a doctor. I had heard something
of Colonel P----; that he was considered to be immensely rich, and known
to be a deep gambler, but I never understood that he was a victim of
weak or imaginary fears, and I was therefore inclined to doubt the truth
of the reason assigned by the unsuspecting invalid, for the scrupulous
delicacy of her husband's affection and solicitude. I pondered for a
moment, and soon perceived that the nature of her complaint, and the
kind of restoratives or medicines she might have been receiving, would,
in all likelihood, yield me more information on the subject of my
difficulty than I could procure from her broken sentences, which, at the
best, only expressed the sentiments of a mind clouded with the prejudice
of a devoted love and unbounded credulity. I proceeded, therefore, to
ascertain the nature of her complaint; and soon discovered that the seat
of it was, as she had said, in the region of the stomach, which not only
produced to her great pain internally, but felt sore on the application
of external pressure on the _præcordia_. Other symptoms of a disease in
this principal organ were present: such as fits of painful vomiting
after attempting to eat, her great emaciation, anxiety of countenance,
thirst, restlessness, and debility; and, in ordinary circumstances, I
would have been inclined to conclude that she laboured under some
species of what we denominate _gastritis_, or inflammation of the
stomach, though I could not account for such a disease not having been
resolved and ended in much shorter time than the period which embraced
her sufferings.

I next proceeded to ascertain what she had been taking in the form of
medicaments; and discovered that her husband, proceeding on the idea
that her stomach laboured under weakness and required some tonic
medicine, had administered to her, on several occasions, what we term
_limatura ferri_ (iron filings)--a remedy for cases of dyspepsia and bad
stomachs, but not suited to the inflammatory disorders of the kind under
which she was suffering. I asked her if she had any of the medicine
lying by her, and she replied, with simplicity, that her husband
generally took charge of it himself; but that he had that evening laid
a small paper, containing a portion of it, on the top of a side-table,
until he administered to her the dose she was in the habit of receiving,
and had gone away without laying it past, according to his custom. I
took up the paper, examined it, and found, according to the rapid
investigation I bestowed on it, without the aid of any tests, that it
possessed all the appearances of the genuine medicine. I, however, took
the precaution of emptying a small portion of it into another paper, and
slipping it into my pocket unobserved by the patient. I then told her
that I thought she should discontinue the use of the powder, which was
entirely unsuited to her ailment.

"That is a cruel advice, sir," she cried, in a tone of great excitement.
"How can I discontinue a medicine offered to me by the hands of a
husband, without being able to give any reason for rejecting his
kindness? I tremble to think of repaying all the attentions of that dear
man with ingratitude, and wounding his sensibility by rejecting this
testimony of his solicitude and affection. I cannot--I feel I cannot.
The grief I would thereby produce to him would be reflected, by
sympathy, on this weak frame, which is unable to struggle much longer
with the pains of flesh alone, far less with the additional anguish of a
wounded mind, grieved to death at causing sorrow to the man I so dearly
love. Do not, oh! do not, sir, make me an ingrate."

I was struck with the devotion of this gentle being, who actually
trembled at the idea of producing uneasiness to the man whom she had
raised to affluence, and who yet would not allow her the benefit of a
doctor in her distress; but, while I was pleased with this exhibition of
a feature in the female character I had never before seen so strongly
developed, though I had read and heard much of the fidelity and
affection of the women of the east, I was much chagrined at the idea
that so fair and beautiful a virtue would probably prevent me from doing
anything effectual for a creature who, independently of her distance
from her country, had so many other claims on my sympathy. I told her
that I feared I could be of little service to her if she could not
resolve upon discontinuing her husband's medicine; and tried to impress
upon her the necessity of conforming to my advice, if she wished to make
herself well--the best mode, assuredly, of making her husband happy;
but she replied that she expected I would have been able to give her
something to restore her to health independently of what she got from
her husband--a result she wished above all things, as she sighed for the
opportunity of delighting him, by attributing to his medicines and care
her restoration and happiness. I replied that that was impossible--a
statement that stung her with disappointment and pain.

"Then I will take my beloved's medicines, and die!" she cried, with a
low struggling voice--resigning herself to the power of her weakness.

This extraordinary resolution of a female devotee put me in mind of the
immolating custom of her countrywomen, called the _suttee_. It was a
complete _ultima ratio_, and put all my remedial plans at fault in an
instant. Her extreme weakness, or her devoted resolution, prevented her
from speaking, and I sat by her bedside totally at a loss what to do,
whether to persevere in my attempt to get her to renounce her husband's
medicine and to conform to my prescriptions, or to leave her to the fate
she seemed to court. I put several more questions to her, but received
no other answer than a wave of the hand--a plain token of her wish that
I should leave her to the tender mercies of her husband. I had now no
alternative; and, rising, I bowed to her, and took my leave. I had some
difficulty in finding my way out of the house; but, after several
ineffectual turns through wrong passages, I reached the door through
which I had entered, and returned home.

The extraordinary scene I had witnessed engaged my attention during the
evening, but all my efforts at clearing up the mystery that enveloped
the proceedings of these individuals were met by difficulties which for
a time seemed insuperable. I sat cogitating and recogitating various
theories and probabilities, and had several times examined the iron
powder, which, for better observation, I had scattered on a sheet of
white paper that lay on my table. My intention was to test it, and I
waited the incoming of my assistant to aid me in my experiment. As I
looked at it at intervals between my trains of thought, I was struck
with a kind of glittering appearance it exhibited, and which was more
observable when it caught my eye obliquely and collaterally, during the
partial suspension of my perception by my cogitations. Roused by this
circumstance, I proceeded instantly to a more minute investigation; and
having, by means of a magnet, removed all the particles of iron, what
was my surprise to find a residuum of triturated glass--one of the most
searching and insidious poisons known in toxicology. Good God! what were
my thoughts and feelings when the first flash of this discovery flared
upon my mind--solving, in an instant, by the intensity of its painful
light, all my doubts, and realizing all my suspicions. Every
circumstance of this mysterious affair stood now revealed in clear
relief--a dark scheme of murder, more revolting in its features than
any recorded in the malefactor's journal, was illumined and exposed by a
light which exhibited not only the workings of the design itself, but
the reason which led to its perpetration. This man had married the
confiding and devoted foreigner for the sake of her immense wealth,
which raised him in an instant from mediocrity to magnificence; and,
having attained the object of his ambition, he had resolved--with a view
to the concealment of the means whereby he effected his purpose, and
regardless of the sacred obligation of gratitude he owed to her who had
left her country, her relations, and friends, to trust herself to his
protection and love--to immolate the faithful, kind-hearted, and
affectionate creature, by a cruel and protracted murder. In her own
country the cowardly wretch could not have braved the vengeance of her
countrymen; but, in a distant land, where few might be expected to stand
up for the rights of the injured foreigner, he had thought he might
execute his scheme with secrecy and success. But now it was discovered!
By one of those extraordinary detached traces of the finger of the
Almighty, exposed to the convicting power of divine intellect, it was
discovered!

The great excitement produced in my mind by this miraculous discovery
prevented me for some time from calmly deliberating on the steps I ought
to pursue, with the view of saving the poor foreigner from the designs
of her murderer. The picture of the devoted being lying, like a queen,
in the midst of the wealth she had brought to her husband, and trembling
at the very thought of rejecting his poison, for fear of giving him the
slightest pain--yet on the very point of being sacrificed; her wealth,
love, confidence, and gentleness, repaid by death, and her body
consigned, unlamented by friends--who might never hear of her fate--to
foreign dust, rose continually on my imagination, and interested my
feelings to a degree incompatible with the exercise of a calm judgment.
In proportion as my emotion subsided, the difficulty of my situation
appeared to increase. I was, apparently, the only person who knew
anything of this extraordinary purpose, and I saw the imprudence of
taking upon myself the total responsibility of a report to the public
authorities in a case where the chances of conviction would be
diminished to nothing by the determination of the victim to save her
destroyer, whom she never would believe guilty, and by the want of
evidence of a direct nature that the powder I had tested was truly
destined for her reception; while, in the event of an impeachment and
acquittal of the culprit, I would be exposed to his vengeance, and his
poor wife would be for ever subjected to his tyranny and oppression. On
the other hand, I was at a loss to know how I could again get access to
the sick victim, whom I had left without being requested to repeat my
visit; and, even if that could be accomplished, I had many doubts
whether she would pay the slightest attention or regard to my statement,
that her husband, whom she seemed to prefer to her own divine Brama,
designed to poison her. Yet it was clear that the poor victim behoved to
be saved, in some way, from the dreadful fate which impended over her;
and the necessity of some steps being taken with rapidity and efficacy,
behoved to resolve scruples and doubts which otherwise might have been
considered worthy of longer time and consideration.

Next day I found I had made little progress in coming to a resolution
what step to pursue, yet every hour and minute that passed reproached me
with cruelty, and my imagination brought continually before my eyes the
poor victim swallowing the stated periodical quota of her death-drug. I
could have no rest or peace of mind till something was done, at least to
the extent of putting her on her guard against the schemes of her cruel
destroyer; and, after all my cogitations, resolutions, and schemes, I
found myself compelled to rest satisfied with seeing her, laying before
her the true nature of her danger, and leaving to the operation of the
instinctive principle of self-preservation the working out of her
ultimate safety. At the same hour of the evening at which my former
visit was made, I repaired to the back entrance of the large mansion,
and, upon rapping at the door, was fortunate enough to be answered by
the young woman who acted formerly as my guide. She led me, at my
request, instantly to the sickroom of her lady, who, having immediately
before been seized with an attack of vomiting, was lying in a state of
exhaustion approaching to the inanity of death. I spoke to her, and she
languidly opened her eyes. I saw no prospect of being able to impress
upon her comatose mind the awful truth I had come to communicate; yet I
had no alternative but to make the attempt; and I accordingly proceeded,
with as few words as possible, and in a tone of voice suited to the
lethargic state of her mind and senses, to inform her that the medicines
she was getting from the hands of her husband were fraught with deadly
poison, which was alone the cause of all her sufferings and agonies, and
would soon be the means of a painful death. These words I spoke slowly
and impressively, and watched the effect of them with anxiety and
solicitude. A convulsive shudder passed over her, and shook her
violently. She opened her eyes, which I saw fill with tears, and fixed
a steady look on my countenance.

"_It is impossible_," she said, with a low, guttural tone, but with much
emphasis; "and if it _were_ possible, I would still take his medicine,
and die, rather than outlive the consciousness of love and fidelity."

These words she accompanied with a wave of her hand, as if she wished
me to depart. I could not get her to utter another syllable. I had
discharged a painful duty; and, casting a look upon her, which I verily
believed would be the last I would have it in my power to bestow on this
personification of fidelity and gentleness, I took my departure.

I felt myself placed in a very painful position for two or three days
after this interview, arising from a conviction that I had not done
enough for the salvation of this poor victim, and yet without being able
to fix upon any other means of rendering her any assistance, unless I
put into execution a resolution that floated in my mind, to admonish her
husband, by an anonymous communication, and threaten to divulge the
secret of his guilt, unless he instantly desisted from his nefarious
purpose--a plan that did not receive the entire sanction of my honour,
however much it enlisted the approbation of my feelings. Some further
time passed, and added, with its passing minutes, to my mental
disquietude. One evening, when I was sitting meditating painfully on
this sombre subject, a lackey, superbly dressed, was introduced to me by
my servant, and stated that he had been commanded by his master Colonel
P----, to request my attendance at his house without delay. I started
at the mention of the name, and the nature of the message; and the
man stared at me, as I exhibited the irresolution of doubt and the
perturbation of surprise, in place of returning him a direct answer.
Recovering myself, I replied, that I would attend upon the instant;
and, indeed, I felt a greater anxiety to fly to that house on which my
thoughts were painfully fixed, than I ever did to visit the most valued
friend I ever attended in distress. As I hurried along, I took little
time to think of the object of my call; but I suspected, either that
Colonel P---- had got some notice of my having secretly visited,
in my professional capacity, his wife, and being therefore privy to
his design--a state of opposing circumstances, which he was now to
endeavour in some way to counteract--or that, finding, from the
extremity to which his wife was reduced, that he was necessitated to
call a doctor, as a kind of cloak or cover to his cruel act, he had thus
made a virtue of necessity, when, alas! it would be too late for my
rendering the unfortunate creature any service. "He shall not, however,
escape," muttered I, vehemently, through my teeth, as I proceeded. "He
little knows that he is now calling to his assistance the man that shall
hang him."

I soon arrived at the house, and rung the front door bell. The same
powdered lackey who had preceded me, opened the door. I was led up two
pair of stairs, and found myself in the same lobby with which I had
already become somewhat familiar. I proceeded forward, thinking I was
destined for the sick chamber of the lady; but the servant opened a door
immediately next to that of her room, and ushered me into an apartment
furnished in an elegant style, but much inferior to that occupied by his
wife. In a bed lay a man of a genteel, yet sinister cast of countenance,
with a large aquiline nose, and piercing black eyes. He appeared very
pale and feverish, and threw upon me that anxious eye which we often
find in patients who are under the first access of a serious disease;
as if nature, while she kept her secret from the understanding,
communicated it to the feelings, whose eloquence, expressed through the
senses, we can often read with great facility. I knew, in an instant,
that he was committed, by a relentless hand, to suffering, in all
likelihood, in the form of a fever. He told me he was Colonel P----, and
that, having been very suddenly taken ill, he had become alarmed for
himself, and sent for me to administer to him my professional services.
I looked at him intently; but he construed my stare into the eagerness
of professional investigation. At that instant, a piercing scream rang
through the house, and made my ears tingle. I asked him who had uttered
that scream, which must have come from some creature in the very
extremity of agony, and made an indication as if I would hasten to
administer relief to the victim. In an instant, I was close and firm in
the trembling clutch of the sick man, who, with a wild and confused
look, begged me not to sacrifice him to any attention to the cause
of this disturbance, which was produced by a servant in the house
habitually given, through fits of hysterics, to the utterance of these
screams. I put on an appearance of being satisfied with this statement;
but I fixed my eye relentlessly on him, as he still shook, from the
combined effects of his incipient disease, and his fear of my
investigating the cause of the scream. I proceeded to examine into the
nature of his complaint. The symptoms described by him, and detected by
my observation, satisfied me that he had been seized with an attack
of virulent typhus; and from the intensity of some of the
indications--particularly his languor and small pulse, his loss of
muscular strength, violent pains in the head, the inflammation of his
eyes, the strong throbbing of his temporal arteries, his laborious
respiration, parched tongue, and hot breath--I was convinced he had
before him the long sands of a rough and rapid race with death. At the
close of my investigation he looked anxiously and wistfully in my face,
and asked me what I conceived to be the nature of his complaint. I told
him at once, and with greater openness and readiness than I usually
practise, that I was very much afraid he was committed for a severe
course of virulent typhus. He felt the full force of an announcement
which, to those who have had any experience of this king of fevers,
cannot fail to carry terror in every syllable; and falling back on his
pillow, turned up his eye to heaven. At this moment, a succession of
screams, or rather yells, sounded through the house; but as I now saw
that I had a chance of saving the innocent sufferer, I pretended not to
regard the dreadful sounds, and purposely averted my eyes to escape the
inquiring, nervous look of the sick man. I gave him some directions,
promised to send some medicines, and took my leave.

As I shut the door, the waiting-maid, whom I had seen before, was
standing in the door of her mistress's apartment, and beckoned me in,
with a look of terror and secrecy. I was as anxious to visit her gentle
mistress as she was to call me. On entering, which I did slowly and
silently, to escape the ear of her husband, I found the unfortunate
creature in the most intense state of agony. The ground glass she had
swallowed, and a great part of which, doubtless, adhered to the stomach,
was too clearly the cause of her screams; but, to my surprise, I
discovered, from her broken ejaculations, that the grief of her
husband's illness had been able, in its strength, to fight its way to
her heart, through all her bodily agonies produced by his poison. My
questions regarding her own condition were answered by hysterical
sobs, mixed with ejaculations of pity, and requests to know how he
was, and what was the nature of the complaint by which he had been
attacked--hinting, in dubious terms, that she had been the cause of his
illness, by entailing upon him the necessity of attending her, and
wounding his sensitive heart by her distress. My former communications
to her concerning the poison, and my caution against her acceptance of
it from the hands of her intended murderer, had produced no effect upon
a mind predetermined to believe nothing against the man she loved and
trusted beyond all mortals. She had received it again from him after my
communication; the effects of it were now exhibited in her tortured,
burning viscera; and yet, in the very midst of her agonies, her faith,
confidence, and love stood unshaken; a noble yet melancholy emblem of
the most elevated, yet often least valued and most abused virtues of her
sex. I endeavoured to answer her fevered inquiries about her husband, by
telling her that he stood in great _need of her attendance_; and that,
if she would agree to follow my precepts, and put herself entirely under
my advice and direction, she might, in a very short time, be enabled to
perform her duty of a faithful wife and a kind nurse to her distressed
partner. The first perception she caught of the meaning of my
communication, lighted up her eye, even in the midst of her wringing
pains; and, starting up, she cried, that she would be the most abject
slave to my will, and obey me in all things, if I could assure her of
the blessing of being able to act as nurse and comforter to her husband.
Now I saw my opportunity. On the instant I called up and despatched the
waiting-maid to my home, with directions to my assistant, to send me
instantly an oleaginous mixture, and some powerful emetics, which
I described in a _recipe_. I waited the return of the messenger,
administered the medicines, and watched for a time their operation and
effects. Notwithstanding the continued attacks that had been made on her
system by the doses of an active poison, I was satisfied that, if my
energies were not, in some unforeseen way, thwarted and opposed, I would
be able to bring this deserving wife and pattern of her sex from the
brink of the grave that had been dug for her by the hand of her husband.
After leaving with the waiting-maid some directions, I proceeded home,
for the purpose of preparing the necessary medicines for my other
patient.

I now commenced a series of regular visits to my two patients--the
illness of the husband affording me the most ample scope for saving his
wife. As he gradually descended into the unavoidable depths of his
inexorable disease, she, by the elastic force of youth and a good
constitution, operating in unison with my medicines, which were
administered with the greatest regularity, gradually threw off the
lurking poison, and advanced to a state of comparative safety and
strength. I was much pleased to observe the salutary effects of my
professional interference in behalf of my interesting patient; but could
scarcely credit my own perceptions, as I had exhibited to me the most
undoubted proofs, that the desire to minister to the wants and comforts
of her sick husband, engrossed so completely every other feeling that
might have been supposed consequent upon a restoration to health, that
she seemed to disregard all other considerations. Her questions about
the period when she might be able to attend him were unremitting; and
every hour she was essaying to walk, though her efforts often ended in
weak falls, or sinkings on the ground, when some one was required to
assist her in getting up and returning to bed. She entreated me to allow
her to be _carried_ to his bedside; where, she said, they might mix
their tears and console each other; and all my arguments against the
impropriety of such an obvious mode of increasing her husband's illness,
and augmenting those sufferings she was so solicitous to ameliorate,
were scarcely sufficient to prevent her from putting her design into
execution.

The husband's disease, which often runs a course of two months,
though the crisis occurs generally between the third and fourth week,
progressed steadily and relentlessly, mocking, as the fevers of that
type generally do, all the boasted art of our profession. His pulse rose
to the alarming height of 120; he exhibited the oppression at the chest,
increased thirst, blackfurred tongue, and inarticulate, muttering
speech, which are considered to be unfavourable indications; and there
was, besides, a clear tendency to delirium--a common, yet critical
symptom--leaving, even after the patient has recovered, and often for
years, its marks in the weakened intellect. One evening I was standing
by his bedside, studying his symptoms; witnessing the excess of his
sufferings, and listening to the bursts of incoherent speech which, from
time to time, came from him, as if expelled from his sick spirit by some
internal power. He spoke often of his wife, whom he called by the name
of Espras; and, in the midst of his broken ejaculations, gushes of
intense feeling came on him, filling his yellow sunken eyes with rheumy
tears, and producing heavy sobs, which, repressed by his loaded chest,
assumed sounds unlike anything I ever heard, and beyond my power of
description. I could not well understand these indications of the
working of his spirit; but I fancied that, when he felt his own agonies,
became conscious of what it is to suffer a certain extremity of pain,
and learned, for the first time in his life, the sad experience of an
inexorable disease, which presented to him the prospect of a lingering
death, his mind recurred to the situation of his wife, who, as he
thought, was, or might be, enduring tortures produced by his hand,
transcending even his sufferings. There seemed to be less of conscience
in his mental operations, than a new-born sorrow or sympathy, wrung out
of a heart naturally obdurate, by the anguish of a personal experience
of the pain he himself had produced in another, who had the strongest
claims on his protection and love. His mind, though volatile and
wandering, and not far from verging on delirium, was not yet deranged;
and I was about to put a question to him concerning his wife, whom he
had not directly mentioned to me, when the door opened, and the still
pale and emaciated figure of Mrs. P----, dressed in a white morning
gown, entered the apartment, struggling with her weakness to get
forward, and clutching, in her breathless efforts, at whatever presented
itself to her nerveless arms, to support her, and aid her in her
progress to the sick-bed of her husband. The bed being in the middle of
a large room, she was necessitated to trust partly to the weak powers of
her limbs, which having failed her, she, in an attempt to spring forward
and reach it before sinking, came short of her aim, and fell with a
crash on the floor, uttering, as she stumbled, a scream of sorrow,
wrung from her by the sight of her husband lying extended on a bed of
sickness. The noise started the invalid, who turned his eyes wildly in
the direction of the disturbance; and I rushed forwards to raise in
my arms the exhausted victim. I had scarcely got her placed on her
feet, when she again struggled to reach the bed; and having, by my
assistance, got far enough forward, she threw herself on the body of
the fever-ridden patient, ejaculating, as she seized him in her arms,
and bedewed his pale face with tears--

"Frederick! my honoured husband, whom I am bound to cherish and nurse
as becomes the fondest of wives, why is it that I have been deprived
of this luxury of the grief-stricken heart--to watch your looks, and
anticipate your wants? Thanks to the blessed powers of your faith and of
mine, I have you now in my arms, and no mortal shall come between me and
my love! Night and day I will watch and tend you, till the assiduities
of my affection weary out the effects of your cruel disease brought on
you--O God!--by your grief for me, your worthless Espras."

And she buried her head in the bosom of the sick man, and sobbed
intensely. This scene, from the antithesis of its circumstances,
appeared to me the most striking I had ever beheld; and, though it was
my duty to prevent so exciting a cause of disturbance to the patient, I
felt I had no power to stop this burst of true affection. I watched
narrowly the eye of the patient; but it was too much clouded by the
effects of the fever, and too nervous and fugacious, to enable me to
distinguish between the effects of disease and the working of the
natural affections. But that his mind and feelings were working, and
were responding to this powerful moral impulse, was proved fearfully by
his rapid indistinct muttering and jabbering, mixed with deep sighs, and
the peculiar sound of the repressed sobs which I have already mentioned,
but cannot assimilate to any sound I ever heard. All my efforts to
remove the devoted wife by entreaty were vain; she still clung to him,
as if he had been on the eve of being taken from her by death. Her
sobbing continued unabated, and her tears fell on his cheek. These
intense expressions of love and sorrow awoke the sympathy which I
thought had previously been partially excited, for I now observed that
he turned away his head, while a stream of tears flowed down his face.
It was now, I found, necessary, for the sake of the patient, to remove
the excited lady; and I was obliged to apply a gentle force before I
could accomplish my purpose. She insisted, however, upon remaining in
the room, and beseeched me so piteously for this privilege, that I
consented to a couch being made up for her at a little distance from the
bed of her husband, whom it was her determination to tend and nurse, to
the exclusion of all others. I was not, indeed, ill pleased at this
resolution, for I anticipated, from her unexampled love and devotedness,
an effect on the heart of her husband which might cure its vices and
regenerate its affections.

On the next occasion of my stated visit, I found my patient had at last
fallen into a state of absolute delirium. On a soft arm-chair, situated
by his bedside, sat his wife, the picture of despair, wringing her
hands, and indulging in the most extravagant demonstrations of grief
and affection. The wretched man exhibited the ordinary symptoms of that
unnatural excitement of the brain under which he laboured--relapsing
at times into silence, then uttering a multiplicity of confused
words--jabbering wildly--looking about him with that extraordinary
expression of the eye, as if every individual present was viewed as a
murderer--then starting up, and, with an overstrained and choking voice,
vociferating his frenzied thoughts, and then again relapsing into
silence. It is but little we can do for patients in this extreme
condition; but the faith his wife reposed in professional powers that
had already saved her, suggested supplications and entreaties which I
told her she had better direct to a higher Dispensator of hope and
relief. The tumultuous thoughts of the raving victim were still at
intervals rolling forth; and, all of a sudden, I was startled by a great
increase of the intensity and connectedness of his speech. He had struck
the chord that sounded most fearfully in his own ears. His attempt to
murder the creature who now sat and heard his wild confession, was
described by himself in intelligible, though broken sentences:--

"The fortune brought me by Espras," he vociferated, "is loaded by the
burden of herself--that glass is not well ground--you are not so ill, my
dear Espras, as to require a doctor--I cannot bear the thought of you
labouring under that necessity--who can cure you so well as your devoted
husband? Take this--fear not--why should love have suspicions? When she
is gone, I shall have a wife of whom I may not be ashamed--yet, is she
not a stranger in a foreign land? Has she not left her country, her
relations, her friends, her gods, for me, whom she has raised to
opulence? Cease, cease--I cannot stand these thoughts--there is a strife
in this heart between the powers of hell and heaven--when will it
terminate, and who shall rule my destiny?"

These words, which he accompanied with wild gestures, were followed by
his usual indistinct muttering and jabbering. I directed my gaze upon
his wife. She sat in the chair, motionless, with her eyes fixed on the
ground as if she had been struck with death in that position, and been
stiffened into a rigidity which retained her in her place. The issues
of her tenderness and affection seemed to have been sent back upon the
heart, whose pulses they stopped. The killing pain of an ingratitude,
ingeniously heightened to the highest grade of that hell-king of all
human crimes, operating upon a mind rendered so sensitively susceptible
of its influences, paralyzed the whole moral constitution of the devoted
creature, and realized the poetical creation of despair. I felt inclined
to soften the sternness of her grief, by quickening her disbelief of the
raving thoughts of a fever-maniac; but I paused as I thought of the
probable necessity of her suspicion for her future safety from the
schemes of a murderer, whose evil desires might be resuscitated by the
return of health. I could do nothing more at that time for the dreadful
condition of the wretched husband, and less for the more dreadful state
of the miserable wife; and the personal pain I experienced in witnessing
this high-wrought scene of terror, forced me to depart, leaving the one
still raving in his madness, and the other bound in the stern grasp of
the most awful of all moral visitations.

I expected that on my next visit I would find such a change on my
patient as would enable me to decide whether he would live or die; but
he was still delirious, with the crowded thoughts of the events of his
past life careering through his fevered brain, as if their restlessness
and agitation were produced by the burning fires that chased them from
their legitimate territory of the mind. There was, however, a change
in one quarter. His wife's confidence and affection had withstood and
triumphed over the attack of the previous day, and she was again
occupied in hanging over her raving husband, shedding on his unconscious
face the tear of pity, and supplying, by anticipation, every want that
could be supposed incident to his miserable condition. This new and
additional proof of the strength of this woman's steadfastness, in her
unparalleled fidelity and love, struck me even more forcibly than the
previous indications she had given of this extraordinary feature in her
character. But I was uncertain yet whether to construe her conduct as
salutary or dangerous to her own personal interests--a circumstance
depending on the further development of the sentiments of her husband.
On that same evening the change suspected took place: the delirium
abated, and consciousness, that had been driven forcibly from her
throne, hastened to assume the sceptre of her authority. The crisis was
past, and the patient began to be sensible of those attentions on the
part of his devoted wife, which had not only the merit of being
unremitting, but that of being sweetened by the tears of solicitude and
the blandness of love. I marked attentively the first impressions made
by her devotedness on the returning sense. I saw his look following her
eye, which was continually inflamed and bedewed by the effects of her
grief; and, after he had for a period of time fixed his half-conscious,
half-wondering gaze on her, he turned it suddenly away, but not before
he gave sufficient indications of sympathy and sorrow in a gush of
tears. These manifestations were afterwards often repeated; but I
thought I sometimes could perceive an abruptness in his manner, and a
painful impatience of the minute, refined, and ingenious attentions of a
highly-impassioned affection, which left me in doubt whether, after his
disease was removed, sufficient reliance could be placed on the
stability of his regeneration.

In my subsequent visits I kept up my study of the operations of his mind
as well as the changes of his disease. His wife's attentions seemed
rather to increase with the improvement of his health and her increased
ability to discharge the duties of affection. He had improved so far as
to be in a condition to receive medicines for the recovery of the tone
of his stomach. I seized the opportunity of his wife leaving for a short
time his sick room, and, as I seated myself on her chair by the bedside,
I took from my pocket the powder of iron-filings and triturated glass he
had prepared for the poisoning of her who had latterly been contributing
all the energies of love to the saving of his life.

"A chalybeate mixture," said I, while I fixed my eyes on his
countenance, "has been recommended for patients in your condition, for
improving the power of the stomach weakened by the continued nausea of
a protracted fever. Here is a powder composed of iron-filings, a good
chalybeate, which I found lying in your wife's apartment. I have none
better in my laboratory, and would recommend to you a full dose of it
before I depart."

The electric effect of this statement was instantaneous and remarkable.
He seemed like one who had felt the sharp sting of a musket bullet sent
into his body by a hand unseen--uncertain of the nature of the wound, or
of the aim by which it is produced. A sudden suspicion relieved his
still fevered eye, which threw upon me the full blaze of staring wonder
and terror, while an accompanying uncertainty of my intention sealed his
mouth and added curiosity to his look. But I followed up my intention
resolutely and determinedly.

"Here is on the table," continued I, "a mucilaginous vehicle for its
conveyance into the stomach. I shall prepare it instantly. To seize
quickly the handle of an auspicious occasion is the soul of our
art."--(Approaching the bed with the medicine in my hand.)

"I cannot, I cannot take that medicine," he cried, wildly. "What means
this? Help me, Heaven, in this emergency! I cannot, I dare not take that
medicine."

"Why?" said I, still eyeing him intently. "Is it because there is
ground glass in it? That cannot be; because I understand it was intended
for Espras, your loving, faithful wife; and who would administer so
dreadful a poison to a creature so gentle and interesting? She is,
besides, a foreigner in our land; and who would treat the poor
unprotected stranger with the dainty that has concealed in it a lurking
death? Is this the hospitality of Britain?"

Every word was a thunderstroke to his heart. All uncertainty fled before
these flaming sarcasms, which carried, on the bolt of truth, the
keenness of his own poison. His pain became intense, and exhibited the
peculiarity of a mixture of extreme terror, directed towards me as one
that had the power of hanging him, and of intense sorrow for the injury
he had produced to the wife of his bosom, whose emaciated figure,
hanging over him in his distress, must have been deeply imprinted on
his soul. Yet it was plain that his sorrow overcame his fear; for I
saw his bosom heaving with an accumulation of hysterical emotions, which
convulsed his frame in the intense manner of the aerial ball that chokes
the female victim of excited nerves. The struggle lasted for several
minutes, and at last a burst of dissolving tenderness, removing all the
obstructions of prudence or terror, and stunning my ear with its loud
sound, afforded him a temporary relief. Tears gushed down his cheeks,
and groans of sorrow filled the room, and might have been heard in the
apartment of his wife, whose entry, I feared, might have interrupted the
extraordinary scene. Looking at me wistfully, he held out his hands, and
sobbed out, in a tone of despair--

"Are you my friend, or are you my enemy?"

I answered him that I was the friend of his wife--one of the brightest
patterns of female fidelity I had ever seen; and if by declaring myself
his friend I would save her from the designs of the poisoner, and him
from the pains of the law and the fire of hell, I would instantly sign
the bond of amity.

"You have knocked from my soul the bonds of terror," he cried out, still
sobbing; "and if I knew and were satisfied of one thing more, I would
resign myself to God and my own breaking heart. Did Espras--yet why
should I suspect one who rejects suspicion as others do the poison she
would swallow from my hand, though labelled by the apothecary?--did
Espras tell you what you have so darkly and fearfully hinted to me?"

I replied to him that, in place of telling me, the faithful unsuspecting
creature had to that hour rejected and spurned the suspicion, as
unworthy of her pure, confiding spirit.

"It is over!--it is over!" cried the changed man. "O God! How powerful
is virtue! How strong is the force of those qualities of the heart which
we men often treat as weak baubles to toy with, and throw away in our
fits of proud spleen--the softness, the gentleness, the fidelity and
devotedness of woman! How strangely, how wonderfully formed is the heart
of man, which, disdaining the terrors of the rope of the executioner,
breaks and succumbs at the touch of the thistle-down of a woman's love!
This creature, sir, gave me my fortune, made me what I am, left for me
her country and her friends, adhered to me through good and evil
report--and I prepared for her a cruel death! Dreadful contrast! Who
shall describe the shame, the sorrow, the humiliation, of the ingrate
whose crime has risen to the fearful altitude of this enormity; and who,
by the tenderness and love of his devoted victim, is forced to turn his
eye on the grim reward of death for love, riches, and life? Gentle,
beloved, injured Espras! that emaciated form, these trembling limbs,
these sunken eyes, and these weak and whispering sounds of pity and
affection have touched my heart with a power that never was vouchsafed
to the tongue of eloquence. Transcending the rod of Moses, they have
brought from the rock streams of blood; and every pulse is filled with
tenderness and pity. Wretched fool! I was ashamed of your nativity,
and of the colour you inherited from nature, and never estimated the
qualities of your heart; but when shall the red-and-white beauty of
England transcend my Espras in her fidelity and love, as she does in the
skin-deep tints of a beguiling, treacherous face? God! what a change has
come over this heart! Thanks, and prayers, and tears of blood, never can
express the gratitude it owes to the great Author of our being for this
miraculous return to virtue, effected by the simple means of a woman's
confidence and love."

As he finished this impassioned speech, which I have repeated as
correctly as my memory enabled me to commit to my note-book, he turned
his eyes upwards, and remained for at least five minutes in silent
prayer. As he was about finishing his wife entered. Her appearance
called forth from his excited mind a burst of affection, and seizing her
in his arms, he wept over her like a child. He was met as fervently by
the gentle and affectionate creature, who, grateful to God for this
renewed expression of her husband's love, turned up her eyes to heaven,
and wept aloud. I never witnessed a scene like this. I left them to
their enjoyment, and returned home.

I was subsequently a constant visitor at the house of Colonel P----;
and, about eighteen months after his recovery, I officiated as
accoucheur to his wife on the occasion of the birth of a son. Other
children followed afterwards, and bound closer the bonds of that
conjugal love which I had some hand in producing, and which I saw
increase daily through a long course of years.



THE ADOPTED SON.

A TALE OF THE TIMES OF THE COVENANTERS.


"Oh, for the sword of Gideon, to rid the land of tyrants, to bring down
the pride of apostates, and to smite the ungodly with confusion!"
muttered John Brydone to himself, as he went into the fields in the
September of 1645, and beheld that the greater part of a crop of oats,
which had been cut down a few days before, was carried off. John was the
proprietor of about sixty acres on the south bank of the Ettrick, a
little above its junction with the Tweed. At the period we speak of,
the talented and ambitious Marquis of Montrose, who had long been an
apostate to the cause of the Covenant--and not only an apostate, but
its most powerful enemy--having, as he thought, completely crushed its
adherents in Scotland, in the pride of his heart led his followers
towards England, to support the tottering cause of Charles in the south,
and was now with his cavalry quartered at Selkirk, while his infantry
were encamped at Philiphaugh, on the opposite side of the river.

Every reader has heard of Melrose Abbey--which is still venerated
in its decay, majestic in its ruins--and they have read, too, of the
abode of the northern wizard, who shed the halo of his genius over
the surrounding scenery. But many have heard of Melrose, of Scott,
and of Abbotsford, to whom the existence of Philiphaugh is unknown.
It, however, is one of those places where our forefathers laid the
foundation of our freedom with the bones of its enemies, and cemented it
with their own blood. If the stranger who visits Melrose and Abbotsford
pursue his journey a few miles farther, he may imagine that he is still
following the source of the Tweed, until he arrive at Selkirk, when he
finds that for some miles he has been upon the banks of the Ettrick, and
that the Tweed is lost among the wooded hills to the north. Immediately
below Selkirk, and where the forked river forms a sort of island, on the
opposite side of the stream, he will see a spacious haugh, surrounded by
wooded hills, and forming, if we may so speak, an amphitheatre bounded
by the Ettrick, between the Yarrow and the Tweed. Such is Philiphaugh;
where the arms of the Covenant triumphed, and where the sword of
Montrose was blunted for ever.

Now, the sun had not yet risen, and a thick, dark mist covered the face
of the earth, when, as we have said, John Brydone went out into his
fields, and found that a quantity of his oats had been carried away. He
doubted not but they had been taken for the use of Montrose's cavalry;
and it was not for the loss of his substance that he grieved, and that
his spirit was wroth, but because it was taken to assist the enemies of
his country, and the persecutors of the truth; for than John Brydone,
humble as he was, there was not a more dauntless or a more determined
supporter of the Covenant in all Scotland. While he yet stood by the
side of his field, and, from the thickness of the morning, was unable to
discern objects at a few yards' distance, a party of horsemen rode up to
where he stood. "Countryman," said one who appeared to be their leader,
"can you inform us where the army of Montrose is encamped?"

John, taking them to be a party of the Royalists, sullenly
replied--"There's mony ane asks the road they ken," and was proceeding
into the field.

"Answer me!" demanded the horseman angrily, and raising a pistol in his
hand--"Sir David Lesly commands you."

"Sir David Lesly!" cried John--"the champion of the truth!--the defender
of the good cause! If ye be Sir David Lesly, as I trow ye be, get yer
troops in readiness, and, before the mist vanish on the river, I will
deliver the host o' the Philistines into your hand."

"See that ye play not the traitor," said Lesly, "or the nearest tree
shall be unto thee as the gallows was to Haman which he prepared for
Mordecai."

"Do even so to me, and more also," replied John, "if ye find me false.
But think ye that I look as though I bore the mark of the beast upon my
forehead?" he continued, taking off his Lowland bonnet, and gazing
General Lesly full in the face.

"I will trust you," said the General; and, as he spoke, the van of his
army appeared in sight.

John having described the situation of the enemy to Sir David, acted as
their guide until they came to the Shaw Burn, when the General called a
halt. Each man having partaken of a hurried repast, by order of Sir
David, the word was given along the line that they should return thanks
for being conducted to the place where the enemy of the Kirk and his
army slept in imaginary security. The preachers at the head of the
different divisions of the army gave out a psalm, and the entire host of
the Covenanters, uncovering their heads, joined at the same moment in
thanksgiving and praise. John Brydone was not a man of tears, but, as he
joined in the psalm, they rolled down his cheeks, for his heart felt,
while his tongue uttered praise, that a day of deliverance for the
people of Scotland was at hand. The psalm being concluded, each preacher
offered up a short but earnest prayer; and each man, grasping his
weapon, was ready to lay down his life for his religion and his liberty.

John Brydone, with his bonnet in hand, approaching Sir David,
said--"Now, sir, I that ken the ground, and the situation o' the enemy,
would advise ye, as a man who has seen some service mysel', to halve
your men; let the one party proceed by the river to attack them on the
one side, and the other go round the hills to cut off their retreat."[J]

 [J]
    "But halve your men in equal parts,
       Your purpose to fulfil;
     Let ae half keep the water-side,
       The rest gae round the hill."
                _Battle of Philiphaugh--Border Ballad._

"Ye speak skilfully," said Sir David, and he gave orders as John Brydone
had advised.

The Marquis of Montrose had been disappointed in reinforcements from his
sovereign. Of two parties which had been sent to assist him in his raid
into England, one had been routed in Yorkshire, and the other defeated
on Carlisle sands, and only a few individuals from both parties joined
him at Selkirk. A great part of his Highlanders had returned home to
enjoy their plunder; but his army was still formidable, and he imagined
that he had Scotland at his feet, and that he had nothing to fear from
anything the Covenanters could bring against him. He had been writing
despatches throughout the night; and he was sitting in the best house
in Selkirk, penning a letter to his sovereign, when he was startled
by the sounds of cannon and of musketry. He rushed to the street. The
inhabitants were hurrying from their houses--many of his cavalry were
mingling, half-dressed, with the crowd. "To horse!--to horse!" shouted
Montrose. His command was promptly obeyed; and, in a few minutes, at
the head of his cavalry, he rushed down the street leading to the river
towards Philiphaugh. The mist was breaking away, and he beheld his army
fleeing in every direction. The Covenanters had burst upon them as a
thunderbolt. A thousand of his best troops lay dead upon the field.[K]
He endeavoured to rally them, but in vain; and, cutting his way through
the Covenanters, he fled at his utmost speed, and halted not until he
had arrived within a short distance of where the delightful watering
town of Innerleithen now stands, when he sought a temporary
resting-place in the house of Lord Traquair.

 [K] Sir Walter Scott says that "the number of slain in the field did
 not exceed three or four hundred." All the authorities I have seen state
 the number at a thousand. He also accuses Lesly of abusing his victory
 by slaughtering many of his prisoners in cold blood. Now, it is true that
 a hundred of the Irish adventurers were shot; but this was in pursuance
 of an act of both Parliaments, and not from any private revenge on the
 part of General Lesly.

John Brydone, having been furnished with a sword, had not been idle
during the engagement; but, as he had fought upon foot, and the greater
part of Lesly's army were cavalry, he had not joined in the pursuit;
and, when the battle was over, he conceived it to be as much his duty
to act the part of the Samaritan, as it had been to perform that of a
soldier. He was busied, therefore, on the field in administering, as he
could, to the wounded; and whether they were Cavalier or Covenanter, it
was all one to John; for he was not one who could trample on a fallen
foe, and in their hour of need he considered all men as brothers. He was
passing within about twenty yards of a tent upon the Haugh, which had a
superior appearance to the others--it was larger, and the cloth which
covered it was of a finer quality; when his attention was arrested by a
sound unlike all that belonged to a battle-field--the wailing and the
cries of an infant! He looked around, and near him lay the dead body of
a lady, and on her breast, locked in her cold arms, a child of a few
months old was struggling. He ran towards them--he perceived that
the lady was dead--he took the child in his arms--he held it to his
bosom--he kissed its cheek--"Puir thing!--puir thing!" said John; "the
innocent hae been left to perish amang the unrighteous." He was bearing
away the child, patting its cheek, and caressing it as he went, and
forgetting the soldier in the nurse, when he said unto himself--"Puir
innocent!--an' belike yer wrang-headed faither is fleeing for his life,
an' thinking aboot ye an' yer mother as he flees! Weel, ye may be
claimed some day, an' I maun do a' in my power to gie an account o' ye."
So John turned back towards the lifeless body of the child's mother; and
he perceived that she wore a costly ring upon her finger, and bracelets
on her arms; she also held a small parcel, resembling a book, in her
hands, as though she had fled with it, without being able to conceal it,
and almost at the door of her tent she had fallen with her child in her
arms, and her treasure in her hand. John stooped upon the ground, and
took the ring from her finger, and the bracelets from her arms; he took
also the packet from her hands, and in it he found other jewels, and a
purse of gold pieces. "These may find thee a faither, puir thing," said
he; "or if they do not, they may befriend thee when John Brydone
cannot."

He carried home the child to his own house, and his wife having at that
time an infant daughter at her breast, she took the foundling from her
husband's arms, and became unto it as a mother, nursing it with her own
child. But John told not his wife of the purse, nor the ring, nor the
rich jewels.

The child had been in their keeping for several weeks, but no one
appeared to claim him. "The bairn may hae been baptized," said John;
"but it wud be after the fashion o' the sons o' Belial; but he is a
brand plucked from the burning--he is my bairn noo, and I shall be unto
him as a faither--I'll tak upon me the vows--and, as though he were
flesh o' my ain flesh, I will fulfil them." So the child was baptized.
In consequence of his having been found on Philiphaugh, and of the
victory there gained, he was called Philip; and as John had adopted him
as his son, he bore also the name of Brydone. It is unnecessary for
us to follow the foundling through his years of boyhood. John had two
children--a son named Daniel, and Mary, who was nursed at his mother's
breast with the orphan Philip. As the boy grew up, he called his
protectors by the name of father and mother; but he knew they were not
such, for John had shown him the spot upon the Haugh where he had found
him wailing on the bosom of his dead mother. Frequently, too, when he
quarrelled with his playfellows, they would call him the "Philiphaugh
foundling," and "the Cavalier's brat;" and on such occasions Mary was
wont to take his part, and, weeping, say "he was her brother." As he
grew up, however, it grieved his protector to observe that he manifested
but little of the piety, and less of the sedateness of his own children.
"What is born i' the bane, isna easily rooted oot o' the flesh," said
John; and in secret he prayed and wept that his adopted son might be
brought to a knowledge of the truth. The days of the Commonwealth had
come, and John and his son Daniel rejoiced in the triumphs of the
Parliamentary armies, and the success of its fleets; but, while they
spoke, Philip would mutter between his teeth--"It is the triumph of
murderers!" He believed that but for the ascendancy of the Commonwealth,
he might have obtained some tidings of his family; and this led him to
hate a cause which the activity of his spirit might have tempted him to
embrace.

Mary Brydone had always been dear to him; and, as he grew towards
manhood, he gazed on her beautiful features with delight; but it was not
the calm delight of a brother contemplating the fair face of a sister;
for Philip's heart glowed as he gazed, and the blush gathered on his
cheek. One summer evening they were returning from the fields together,
the sun was sinking in the west, the Ettrick murmured along by their
side, and the voice of the wood-dove was heard from the copse-wood which
covered the hills.

"Why are you so sad, brother Philip?" said Mary; "would you hide
anything from your own sister?"

"Do not call me _brother_, Mary," said he earnestly--"do not call me
_brother_!"

"Who would call you brother, Philip, if I did not?" returned she
affectionately.

"Let Daniel call me brother," said he, eagerly; "but not you--not you!"

She burst into tears. "When did I offend you, Philip," she added, "that
I may not call you brother?"

"Never, Mary!--never!" he exclaimed; "call me Philip--_your_
Philip!--anything but brother!" He took her hand within his--he pressed
it to his bosom. "Mary," he added, "I have neither father, mother,
brother, nor kindred--I am alone in the world--let there be something
that I can call _mine_--something that will love me in return! Do you
understand me, Mary?"

"You are cruel, Philip," said she, sobbing as she spoke; "you know I
love you--I have always loved you!"

"Yes! as you love Daniel--as you love your father; but not as"----

"You love Mr. Duncan," he would have said; but his heart upbraided him
for the suspicion, and he was silent. It is here necessary to inform the
reader that Mr. Duncan was a preacher of the Covenant, and John Brydone
revered him much. He was much older than Mary, but his heart cleaved to
her, and he had asked her father's consent to become his son-in-law.
John, though a stern man, was not one who would force the inclination
of his daughter; but Mr. Duncan was, as he expressed it, "one of the
faithful in Israel," and his proposal was pleasing to him. Mary,
however, regarded the preacher with awe, but not with affection.

Mary felt that she understood Philip--that she loved him, and not as a
brother. She hid her face upon his shoulder, and her hand returned the
pressure of his. They entered the house together, and her father
perceived that his daughter's face was troubled. The manner of both was
changed. He was a shrewd man as well as a stern man, and he also
suspected the cause.

"Philip," said he calmly, "for twenty years hae I protected ye, an'
watched ower ye wi' a faither's care, an' I fear that, in return
for my care, ye hae brought sorrow into the bosom o' my family, an'
instilled disobedience into the flesh o' my ain flesh. But though
ye hae cleaved--as it maun hae been inherent in your bluid--into the
principles o' the sons o' this warld, yet, as I ne'er found ye guilty
o' a falsehood, an' as I believe ye incapable o' are, tell me truly,
why is your countenance an' that o' Mary changed--and why are ye baith
troubled to look me straight in the face? Answer me--hae ye taught her
to forget that she is your sister?"

"Yes!" answered Philip; "and can it offend the man who saved me, who has
watched over me, and sheltered me from infancy till now, that I should
wish to be his son in more than in name?"

"It does offend me, Philip," said the Covenanter; "even unto death it
offends me! I hae consented that my dochter shall gie her hand to a
guid an' a godly man, who will look after her weelfare baith here and
hereafter. And ye kenned this--she kenned it, and she didna refuse; but
ye hae come like the son o' darkness, an' sawn tares amang the wheat."

"Father," said Philip, "if you will still allow me to call you by that
name--foundling though I am--unknown as I am--in what am I worse than
him to whom you would sacrifice your daughter's happiness?"

"Sacrifice her happiness!" interrupted the old man; "hoo daur ye speak
o' happiness, wha kens nae meanin' for the word but the vain pleasures
o' this sinfu' warld! Think ye that, as a faither, an' as ane that has
my offspring to answer for, that I daur sacrifice the eternal happiness
o' my bairn, for the gratification o' a temporary feelin' which ye
encourage the day and may extinguish the morn? Na, sir; they wha wad ken
what true happiness is, maun first learn to crucify human passions.
Mary," added he, sternly, turning to his daughter, "repeat the fifth
commandment."

She had been weeping before, and she now wept aloud.

"Repeat it!" replied her father yet more sternly.

"Honour thy father and thy mother," added she, sobbing as she spoke.

"See, then, bairn," replied her father, "that ye remember that
commandment in yer heart, as weel as on yer tongue. Remember, too, that
o' a' the commands, it's the only ane to which a promise is attached;
and, noo, mark what I say, an', as ye wadna disobey me, see, at yer
peril, that ye ne'er permit this young man to speak to ye again, save
only as a brither."

"Sir," said Philip, "we have grown up together like twin tendrils on the
same vine, and can ye wonder that our hearts have become entwined round
each other, or that they can tear asunder because ye command it! Or,
could I look on the face of an angel"----

"Out on ye, blasphemer!" interrupted the Covenanter--"wad ye apply
siccan epithets to a bairn o' mine? Once for all, hear me, Philip; there
are but twa ways o't, and ye can tak yer choice. It's the first time I
hae spoken to ye roughly, but it isna the first time my spirit has
mourned ower ye. I hae tried to lead ye in the right path; ye hae had
baith precept and example afore ye; but the leaven o' this warld--the
leaven o' the persecutors o' the Kirk and the Covenant--was in yer very
bluid; an' I believe, if opportunity had offered, ye wad hae drawn yer
sword in the unholy cause. A' that I could say, an' a' that I could do,
religion has ne'er had ony place in yer heart; but ye hae yearned aboot
yer faither, and ye hae mourned aboot yer mother--an' that was natural
aneugh--but oh! ye hae also desired to cling to the cauld formality o'
Episcopacy, as they nae doot did: an' should ye e'er discover that yer
parents hae been Papists, I believe that ye wad become ane too! An'
aften, when the conversation turned upon the apostate Montrose, or the
gallant Lesly, I hae seen ye manifest the spirit an' the very look o' a
persecutor. Were I to gie up my dochter to such a man, I should be worse
than the heathen wha sacrifice their offspring to the abomination o'
idols. Noo, Philip, as I hae tauld ye, there are but twa ways o't.
Either this very hour gie me your solemn promise that ye will think o'
Mary as to be yer wife nae mair, or, wi' the risin' o' to-morrow's sun,
leave this house for ever!"

"Sir," said Philip bitterly, "your last command I can obey, though it
would be with a sad heart--though it would be in despair--your first I
cannot--I will not!"

"You must--you _shall_!" replied the Covenanter.

"Never," answered Philip.

"Then," replied the old man, "leave the roof that has sheltered ye frae
yer cradle!"

"I will!" said Philip, and the tears ran down his cheeks. He walked
towards Mary, and, with a faltering voice, said--"Farewell,
Mary!--Farewell! I did not expect this; but do not forget me--do
not give your hand to another--and we shall meet again!"

"You shall not!" interrupted the inexorable old man.

Mary implored her father, for her sake, and for the sake of her departed
mother, who had loved Philip as her own son, that he would not drive him
from the house, and Daniel, too, entreated; but their supplications were
vain.

"Farewell, then!" said Philip; "and, though I depart in misery, let it
not be with thy curse, but let the blessing of him who has been to me a
father until now, go with me."

"The blessin' o' Heaven be wi' ye and around ye, Philip!" groaned the
Covenanter, struggling to conceal a tear: "but, if ye will follow the
dictates o' yer rebellious heart and leave us, tak wi' ye yer property."

"My property!" replied Philip.

"Yer property," returned the old man. "Twenty years has it lain in that
drawer, an' during that time eyes hae not seen it, nor fingers touched
it. It will assist ye noo; an' when ye enter the warld, may throw some
light upon yer parentage."

He went to a small drawer, and, unlocking it, took out the jewels, the
bracelet, the ring, and the purse of gold, and, placing them in Philip's
hands, exclaimed--"Fareweel!--fareweel!--but it maun be!" and he turned
away his head.

"O Mary!" cried Philip, "keep--keep this in remembrance of me," as he
attempted to place the ring in her hand.

"Awa, sir!" exclaimed the old man, vehemently, "wad ye bribe my bairn
into disobedience, by the ornaments o' folly an' iniquity! Awa, ye son
o' Belial, an' provoke me not to wrath!"

Philip groaned, he dashed his hand upon his brow, and rushed from the
house. Mary wept long and bitterly, and Daniel walked to and fro across
the room, mourning for one whom he loved as a brother. The old man went
out into the fields to conceal the agony of his spirit; and, when he had
wandered for a while, he communed with himself, saying, "I hae dune
foolishly, an' an ungodly action hae I performed this nicht; I hae
driven oot a young man upon a wicked warld, wi' a' his sins an' his
follies on his head; an', if evil come upon him, or he plunge into the
paths o' wickedness, his bluid an' his guilt will be laid at my hands!
Puir Philip!" he added; "after a', he had a kind heart!" And the stern
old man drew the sleeve of his coat across his eyes. In this frame of
mind he returned to the house. "Has Philip not come back?" said he, as
he entered. His son shook his head sorrowfully, and Mary sobbed more
bitterly.

"Rin ye awa doun to Melrose, Daniel," said he, "an' I'll awa up to
Selkirk, an' inquire for him, an' bring him back. Yer faither has
allowed passion to get the better o' him, an' to owercome baith the man
an' the Christian."

"Run, Daniel, run!" cried Mary eagerly. And the old man and his son went
out in search of him.

Their inquiries were fruitless. Days, weeks, and months rolled on, but
nothing more was heard of poor Philip. Mary refused to be comforted; and
the exhortations, the kindness, and the tenderness shown towards her by
the Rev. Mr. Duncan, if not hateful, were disagreeable. Dark thoughts,
too, had taken possession of her father's mind, and he frequently sank
into melancholy; for the thought haunted him that his adopted son, on
being driven from his house, had laid violent hands upon his own life;
and this idea embittered every day of his existence.

More than ten years had passed since Philip had left the house of John
Brydone. The Commonwealth was at an end, and the second Charles had been
recalled; but exile had not taught him wisdom, nor the fate of his
father discretion. He madly attempted to be the lord and ruler of the
people's conscience, as well as King of Britain. He was a libertine with
some virtues--a bigot without religion. In the pride, or rather folly of
his heart, he attempted to force Prelacy upon the people of Scotland;
and he let his bloodhounds loose, to hunt the followers of the Covenant
from hill to hill, to murder them on their own hearths, and, with the
blood of his victims, to blot out the word _conscience_ from the
vocabulary of Scotchmen. The Covenanters sought their God in the desert
and on the mountains which He had reared; they worshipped him in the
temples which His own hands had framed; and there the persecutor sought
them, the destroyer found them, and the sword of the tyrant was bathed
in the blood of the worshipper! Even the family altar was profaned; and
to raise the voice of prayer and praise in the cottage to the King of
kings, was held to be as treason against him who professed to represent
Him on earth. At this period, too, Graham of Claverhouse--whom some have
painted as an angel, but whose actions were worthy of a fiend--at the
head of his troopers, who were called by the profane, _the ruling elders
of the kirk_, was carrying death and cold-blooded cruelty throughout the
land.

Now, it was on a winter night in the year 1677, a party of troopers were
passing near the house of old John Brydone, and he was known to them not
only as being one who was a defender of the Covenant, but also as one
who harboured the preachers, and whose house was regarded as a
conventicle.

"Let us rouse the old psalm-singing heretic who lives here from his
knees," said one of the troopers.

"Ay, let us stir him up," said the sergeant who had the command of the
party; "he is an old offender, and I don't see we can make a better
night's work than drag him along, bag and baggage, to the captain. I
have heard as how it was he that betrayed our commander's kinsman, the
gallant Montrose."

"Hark! hark!--softly! softly!" said another, "let us dismount--hear how
the nasal drawl of the conventicle moans through the air! My horse
pricks his ears at the sound already. We shall catch them in the act."

Eight of the party dismounted, and, having given their horses in charge
to four of their comrades, who remained behind, walked on tiptoe to the
door of the cottage. They heard the words given and sung--

    "When cruel men against us rose
     To make of us their prey!"

"Why, they are singing treason," said one of the troopers. "What more do
we need?"

The sergeant placed his forefinger on his lips, and for about ten
minutes they continued to listen. The song of praise ceased, and a
person commenced to read a chapter. They heard him also expound to his
hearers as he read.

"It is enough," said the sergeant; and, placing their shoulders against
the door, it was burst open. "You are our prisoners!" exclaimed the
troopers, each man grasping a sword in his right hand, and a pistol in
the left.

"It is the will of Heaven!" said the Rev. Mr. Duncan; for it was he
who had been reading and expounding the Scriptures; "but, if ye stretch
forth your hands against a hair o' our heads, HE, without whom a sparrow
cannot fall to the ground, shall remember it against ye at the great day
o' reckoning, when the trooper will be stripped of his armour, and his
right hand shall be a witness against him!"

The soldiers burst into a laugh of derision. "No more of your homily,
reverend oracle," said the sergeant; "I have an excellent recipe for
short sermons here; utter another word and you shall have it!" The
troopers laughed again, and the sergeant, as he spoke, held his pistol
in the face of the preacher.

Besides the clergyman, there were in the room old John Brydone, his son
Daniel, and Mary.

"Well, old greybeard," said the sergeant, addressing John, "you have
been reported as a dangerous and disaffected Presbyterian knave, as
we find you to be; you are also accused of being a harbourer and an
accomplice of the preachers of sedition; and, lo! we have found also
that your house is used as a conventicle. We have caught you in the act,
and we shall take every soul of you as evidence against yourselves. So
come along, old boy--I should only be doing my duty by blowing your
brains against the wall; but that is a ceremony which our commander may
wish to see performed in his own presence!"

"Sir," said John, "I neither fear ye nor your armed men. Tak me to the
bloody Claverhouse, if you will, and at the day o' judgment it shall be
said--'_Let the murderers o' John Brydone stand forth!_'"

"Let us despatch them at once," said one of the troopers.

"Nay," said the sergeant; "bind them together, and drive them before us
to the captain: I don't know but he may wish to _do justice_ to them
with his own hand."

"The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel," groaned Mr. Duncan.

Mary wrung her hands--"Oh, spare my father!" she cried.

"Wheesht, Mary!" said the old man; "as soon wad a camel pass through the
eye o' a needle, as ye wad find compassion in the hands o' these men!"

"Bind the girl and the preacher together," said the sergeant.

"Nay, by your leave, sergeant," interrupted one of the troopers, "I
wouldn't be the man to lift a hand against a pretty girl like that, if
you would give me a regiment for it."

"Ay, ay, Macdonald," replied the sergeant--"this comes of your serving
under that canting fellow, Lieutenant Mowbray--he has no love for the
service; and confound me if I don't believe he is half a Roundhead in
his heart. Tie the hands of the girl, I command you."

"I will not!" returned Macdonald; "and hang me if any one else shall!"
And, with his sword in his hand, he placed himself between Mary and his
comrades.

"If you do not bind her hands, I shall cause others to bind yours," said
the sergeant.

"They may try that who dare!" returned the soldier, who was the most
powerful man of the party; "but what I've said I'll stand to."

"You shall answer for this to-morrow," said the sergeant, sullenly, who
feared to provoke a quarrel with the trooper.

"I will answer it," replied the other.

John Brydone, his son Daniel, and the Rev. Mr. Duncan, were bound
together with strong cords, and driven from the house. They were
fastened, also, to the horses of the troopers. As they were dragged
along, the cries and the lamentations of Mary followed them; and the
troopers laughed at her wailing, or answered her cries with mockery,
till the sound of her grief became inaudible in the distance, when again
they imitated her cries, to harrow up the feelings of her father.

Claverhouse, and a party of his troops, were then in the neighbourhood
of Traquair; and before that man, who knew not what mercy was, John
Brydone, and his son, and the preacher were brought. It was on the
afternoon of the day following that on which they had been made
prisoners, that Claverhouse ordered them to be brought forth. He was
sitting, with wine before him, in the midst of his officers; and amongst
them was Lieutenant Mowbray, whose name was alluded to by the sergeant.

"Well, knaves!" began Claverhouse, "ye have been singing, praying,
preaching, and holding conventicles.--Do ye know how Grahame of
Claverhouse rewards such rebels?"

As the prisoners entered, Lieutenant Mowbray turned away his head, and
placed his hand upon his brow.

"Sir," said John, addressing Claverhouse, "I'm neither knave nor
rebel--I hae lifted up my voice to the God o' my faithers, according to
my conscience; and, unworthy as I am o' the least o' His benefits, for
threescore years and ten he has been my shepherd and deliverer, and, if
it be good in His sight, He will deliver me now. My trust is in Him, and
I fear neither the frown nor the sword o' the persecutor."

"Have done, grey-headed babbler!" cried Claverhouse.

Lieutenant Mowbray, who still sat with his face from the prisoners,
raised his handkerchief to his eyes.

"Captain," said Mr. Duncan, "there's a day coming when ye shall stand
before the great Judge, as we now stand before you; and when the
remembrance o' this day, and the blood o' the righteous which ye hae
shed, shall be written with letters o' fire on yer ain conscience, and
recorded against ye; and ye shall call upon the rocks and mountains to
cover ye"----

"Silence!" exclaimed Claverhouse. "Away with them!" he added, waving his
hand to his troopers--"shoot them before sunrise!"

Shortly after the prisoners had been conveyed from the presence of
Claverhouse, Lieutenant Mowbray withdrew; and having sent for the
soldier who had interfered on behalf of Mary--"Macdonald," he began,
"you were present yesterday when the prisoners, who are to die
to-morrow, were taken. Where did you find them?"

"In the old man's house," replied the soldier; and he related all that
he had seen, and how he had interfered to save the daughter. The heart
of the officer was touched, and he walked across his room, as one whose
spirit was troubled. "You did well, Macdonald!" said he, at length--"you
did well!" He was again silent, and again he added--"And you found the
preacher in the old man's house--_you found_ HIM _there_!" There was an
anxious wildness in the tone of the lieutenant.

"We found him there," replied the soldier.

The officer was again silent--again he thoughtfully paced across the
floor of his apartment. At length, turning to the soldier, he added--"I
can trust you, Macdonald. When night has set in, take your horse and
ride to the house of the elder prisoner, and tell his daughter--the
maiden whom you saved--to have horses in readiness for her father,
her brother, and--and her--her _husband!_" said the lieutenant,
faltering as he spoke; and when he had pronounced the word _husband_,
he again paused, as though his heart were full. The soldier was
retiring--"Stay," added the officer, "tell her, her father, her brother,
and--the preacher, shall not die; before daybreak she shall see them
again; and give her this ring as a token that ye speak truly."

He took a ring from his finger, and gave it into the hands of the
soldier.

It was drawing towards midnight. The troops of Claverhouse were
quartered around the country, and his three prisoners, still bound
to each other, were confined in a small farm-house, from which the
inhabitants had been expelled. They could hear the heavy and measured
tread of the sentinel pacing backward and forward in front of the house;
the sound of his footsteps seemed to measure out the moments between
them and eternity. After they had sung a psalm and prayed together--"I
am auld," said John Brydone, "and I fear not to die, but rather glory to
lay down my life for the great cause; but, oh, Daniel! my heart yearns
that yer bluid also should be shed--had they only spared ye, to hae been
a protector to our puir Mary!--or had I no driven Philip frae the
house"----

"Mention not the name of the cast-away," said the minister.

"Dinna mourn, faither," answered Daniel, "an arm mair powerful than that
of man will be her supporter and protector."

"Amen!" responded Mr. Duncan. "She has aye been cauld to me, and has
turned the ear o' the deaf adder to the voice o' my affection; but even
noo, when my thochts should be elsewhere, the thocht o' her burns in my
heart like a coal."

While they yet spoke, a soldier, wrapt up in a cloak, approached the
sentinel, and said--

"It is a cold night, brother."

"Piercing," replied the other, striking his feet upon the ground.

"You are welcome to a mouthful of my spirit-warmer," added the first,
taking a bottle from beneath his cloak.

"Thank ye!" rejoined the sentinel; "but I don't know your voice. You
don't belong to our corps, I think."

"No," answered the other; "but it matters not for that--brother soldiers
should give and take."

The sentinel took the bottle and raised it to his lips; he drank, and
swore the liquor was excellent.

"Drink again," said the other; "you are welcome; it is as good as a
double cloak around you." And the sentinel drank again.

"Good night, comrade," said the trooper. "Good night," replied the
sentinel; and the stranger passed on.

Within half an hour, the same soldier, still muffled up in his cloak,
returned. The sentinel had fallen against the door of the house, and was
fast asleep. The stranger proceeded to the window--he raised it--he
entered. "Fear nothing," he whispered to the prisoners, who were bound
to staples that had been driven into the opposite wall of the room. He
cut the cords with which their hands and their feet were fastened.

"Heaven reward ye for the mercy o' yer heart, and the courage o' this
deed," said John.

"Say nothing," whispered their deliverer, "but follow me."

Each man crept from the window, and the stranger again closed it behind
them. "Follow me, and speak not," whispered he again; and, walking at
his utmost speed, he conducted them for several miles across the hills;
but still he spoke not. Old John marvelled at the manner of their
deliverer; and he marvelled yet more when he led them to Philiphaugh,
and to the very spot where, more than thirty years before, he had found
the child on the bosom of its dead mother; and there the stranger stood
still, and, turning round to those he had delivered--"Here we part,"
said he; "hasten to your own house, but tarry not. You will find horses
in readiness, and flee into Westmoreland; inquire there for the person
to whom this letter is addressed; he will protect you." And he put a
sealed letter into the hands of the old man, and, at the same time,
placed a purse in the hands of Daniel, saying, "This will bear your
expenses by the way--Farewell!--farewell!" They would have detained him,
but he burst away, again exclaiming, as he ran--"Farewell!"

"This is a marvellous deliverance," said John; "it is a mystery, an'
for him to leave us on this spot--on _this very spot_--where puir
Philip"---- And here the heart of the old man failed him.

We need not describe the rage of Claverhouse, when he found, on the
following day, that the prisoners had escaped; and how he examined and
threatened the sentinels with death, and cast suspicious glances upon
Lieutenant Mowbray; but he feared to accuse him, or quarrel with him
openly.

As John, with the preacher and his son, approached the house, Mary heard
their footsteps, rushed out to meet them, and fell weeping upon her
father's neck. "My bairn!" cried the old man; "we are restored to ye as
from the dead! Providence has dealt wi' us in mercy an' in mystery."

His four farm-horses were in readiness for their flight; and Mary told
him how the same soldier who had saved her from sharing their fate, had
come to their house at midnight, and assured her that they should not
die, and to prepare for their flight; "and," added she, "in token that
he who had sent him would keep his promise towards you, he gave me this
ring, requesting me to wear it for your deliverer's sake."

"It is Philip's ring!" cried the old man, striking his hand before his
eyes--"it is Philip's ring!"

"_My_ Philip's!" exclaimed Mary; "oh, then, he lives!--he lives!"

The preacher leaned his brow against the walls of the cottage and
groaned.

"It is still a mystery," said the old man, yet pressing his hands before
his eyes in agony; "but it is--it maun be him. It was Philip that saved
us--that conducted us to the very spot where I found him! But, oh," he
added, "I wad rather I had died, than lived to ken that he has drawn his
sword in the ranks o' the oppressor, and to murder the followers after
the truth."

"Oh, dinna think that o' him, father!" exclaimed Mary; "Philip wadna--he
couldna draw his sword but to defend the helpless!"

Knowing that they had been pursued and sought after, they hastened their
flight to England, to seek the refuge to which their deliverer had
directed them. But as they drew near to the Borders, the Rev. Mr. Duncan
suddenly exclaimed--"Now, here we must part--part for ever! It is not
meet that I should follow ye farther. When the sheep are pursued by
the wolves, the shepherd should not flee from them. Farewell, dear
friends--and, oh! farewell to you, Mary! Had it been sinful to hae loved
you, I would hae been a guilty man this day--for, oh! beyond a' that is
under the sun, ye hae been dear to my heart, and your remembrance has
mingled wi' my very devotions. But I maun root it up, though, in so
doing, I tear my very heart-strings. Fareweel!--fareweel! Peace be wi'
you--and may ye be a' happier than will ever be the earthly lot o'
Andrew Duncan!"

The tears fell upon Mary's cheeks; for, though she could not love, she
respected the preacher, and she esteemed him for his worth. Her father
and brother entreated him to accompany them. "No! no!" he answered; "I
see how this flight will end. Go--there is happiness in store for you;
but my portion is with the dispersed and the persecuted." And he turned
and left them.

Lieutenant Mowbray was disgusted with the cold-blooded butchery of the
service in which he was engaged; and, a few days after the escape of
John Brydone and his son, he threw up his commission, and proceeded to
Dumfriesshire. It was a Sabbath evening, and near nightfall; he had
wandered into the fields alone, for his spirit was heavy. Sounds of rude
laughter broke upon his ear; and, mingled with the sound of mirth, was a
voice as if in earnest prayer. He hurried to a small wood from whence
the sounds proceeded, and there he beheld four troopers, with their
pistols in their hands, and before them was a man, who appeared to be
a preacher, bound to a tree.

"Come, old Psalmody!" cried one of the troopers, raising his pistol, and
addressing their intended victim, who was engaged in prayer; "make
ready--we have other jobs on hand--and we gave you time to speak a
prayer, but not to preach."

Mowbray rushed forward. He sprang between the troopers and their victim.
"Hold! ye murderers, hold!" he exclaimed. "Is it thus that ye disgrace
the name of soldiers by washing your hands in the blood of the
innocent?"

They knew Mowbray, and they muttered, "You are no officer of ours now;
he is our prisoner, and our orders ere to shoot every conventicle knave
who falls into our hands."

"Shame on him who would give such orders!" said Mowbray; "and shame on
those who would execute them! There," added he, "there is money! I will
ransom him."

With an imprecation, they took the money that was offered them, and left
their prisoner to Mowbray. He approached the tree where they had bound
him--he started back--it was the Rev. Andrew Duncan!

"Rash man!" exclaimed Mowbray, as he again stepped forward to unloose
the cords that bound him. "Why have ye again cast yourself into the
hands of the men who seek your blood? Do you hold your life so cheap,
that, in one week, ye would risk to sell it twice? Why did not ye, with
your father, your brother, and your _wife_, flee into England, where
protection was promised!"

"My father!--my brother!--my wife!--mine!--mine!" repeated the preacher
wildly. "There are no such names for my tongue to utter!--none!--none to
drop their love as morning dew upon the solitary soul o' Andrew Duncan!"

"Are they murdered?" exclaimed Mowbray, suddenly, in a voice of agony.

"Murdered!" said the preacher, with increased bewilderment. "What do you
mean?--or wha' do you mean?"

"Tell me," cried Mowbray, eagerly; "are not you the husband of Mary
Brydone?"

"Me!--me!" cried the preacher. "No!--no!--I loved her as the laverock
loves the blue lift in spring, and her shadow cam between me and my ain
soul--but she wadna hearken unto my voice--she is nae wife o' mine!"

"Thank Heaven!" exclaimed Mowbray; and he clasped his hands together.

It is necessary, however, that we now accompany John Brydone and his
family in their flight into Westmoreland. The letter which their
deliverer had put into their hands was addressed to a Sir Frederic
Mowbray; and, when they arrived at the house of the old knight, the
heart of the aged Covenanter almost failed him for a moment; for it was
a proud-looking mansion, and those whom he saw around wore the dress of
the Cavaliers.

"Who are ye?" inquired the servant who admitted them to the house.

"Deliver this letter into the hands of your master," said the
Covenanter; "our business is with him."

"It is the handwriting of Master Edward," said the servant, as he took
the letter into his hand; and, having conducted them to a room, he
delivered it to Sir Frederic.

In a few minutes the old knight hurried into the room, where the
Covenanter, and his son and his daughter, stood. "Welcome, thrice
welcome!" he cried, grasping the hand of the old man; "here you shall
find a resting-place and a home, with no one to make you afraid."

He ordered wine and food to be placed before them, and he sat down with
them.

Now John marvelled at the kindness of his host, and his heart burned
within him; and, in the midst of all, he thought of the long-lost
Philip, and how he had driven him from his house--and his cheek glowed
and his heart throbbed with anxiety. His son marvelled also, and Mary's
bosom swelled with strange thoughts--tears gathered in her eyes, and she
raised the ring that had been the token of her father's deliverance to
her lips.

"Oh, sir," said the Covenanter, "pardon the freedom o' a plain blunt
man, and o' ane whose bosom is burning wi' anxiety; but there is a
mystery, there is _something_ attending my deliverance, an' the
letter, and your kindness, that I canna see through--and I hope, and
I fear--and I canna--I _daurna_ comprehend how it is!--but, as it were,
the past--the lang bygane past, and the present, appear to hae met
thegither! It is makin' my head dizzy wi' wonder, for there seems in a'
this a something that concerns you, and that concerns me, and _one_ that
I mayna name."

"Your perplexity," said Sir Frederic, "may be best relieved, by stating
to you, in a few words, one or two circumstances of my history. Having,
from family affliction, left this country, until within these four
years, I held a commission in the army of the Prince of Orange. I was
present at the battle of Seneff; it was my last engagement; and in the
regiment which I commanded, there was a young Scottish volunteer, to
whose bravery, during the battle, I owed my life. In admiration and
gratitude for his conduct, I sent for him after the victory, to present
him to the prince. He came. I questioned him respecting his birth and
his family. He was silent--he burst into tears. I urged him to speak.
He said, of his real name he knew nothing--of his family he knew
nothing--all that he knew was, that he had been the adopted son of a
good and a Christian man, who had found him on Philiphaugh, on the
lifeless bosom of his mother!"

"Merciful Heaven! my puir, injured Philip!" exclaimed the aged
Covenanter, wringing his hands.

"My brother!" cried Daniel eagerly. Mary wept.

"Oh, sir!" continued Sir Frederic, "words cannot paint my feelings as he
spoke! I had been at the battle of Philiphaugh! and, not dreaming that a
conflict was at hand, my beloved wife, with our infant boy, my little
Edward, had joined me but the day before. At the first noise of Lesly's
onset, I rushed from our tent--I left my loved ones there! Our army was
stricken with confusion--I never beheld them again! I grasped the hand
of the youth--I gazed in his face as though my soul would have leaped
from my eyelids. 'Do not deceive me!' I cried; and he drew from his
bosom the ring and the bracelets of my Elizabeth!"

Here the old knight paused and wept, and tears ran down the cheeks of
John Brydone, and the cheeks of his children.

They had not been many days in Westmoreland, and they were seated around
the hospitable hearth of the good knight in peace, when two horsemen
arrived at the door.

"It is our friend, Mr. Duncan, and a stranger!" said the Covenanter, as
he beheld them from the window.

"They are welcome--for your sake, they are welcome," said Sir Frederic;
and while he yet spoke, the strangers entered. "My son, my son!" he
continued, and hurried forward to meet him.

"Say also your _daughter_!" said Edward Mowbray, as he approached
towards Mary, and pressed her to his breast.

"Philip!--my own Philip!" exclaimed Mary, and speech failed her.

"My brother!" said Daniel.

"He was dead, and is alive again--he was lost, and is found," exclaimed
John. "O, Philip, man! do ye forgi'e me?"

The adopted son pressed the hand of his foster-father.

"It is enough," replied the Covenanter.

"Yes, he forgives you!" exclaimed Mr. Duncan; "and he has forgiven me.
When we were in prison and in bonds waiting for death, he risked his
life to deliver us, and he did deliver us; and a second time he has
rescued me from the sword of the destroyer, and from the power of the
men who thirsted for my blood. He is no enemy o' the Covenant--he is the
defender o' the persecuted; and the blessing o' Andrew Duncan is all he
can bequeath, for a life twice saved, upon his deliverer, and Mary
Brydone."

Need we say that Mary bestowed her hand upon Edward Mowbray? but, in the
fondness of her heart, she still called him "her Philip!"



THE FORTUNES OF WILLIAM WIGHTON.


My departure from Edinburgh was sudden and mysterious; and it was high
time that I was away, for I was but a reckless boy at the best. My uncle
was both sore vexed and weary of me, for I was never out of one mishap
until I was into another; but one illumination night in the city put
them all into the rear--I had, by it, got far ahead of all my former
exploits. Very early next morning, I got notice from a friend that the
bailies were very desirous of an interview with me; and, to do me more
honour, I was to be escorted into their presence. I had no inclination
for such honour, particularly at this time. I saw that our discourse
could not be equally agreeable to both parties; besides they, I
knew, would put questions to me I could not well answer to their
satisfaction--though, after all, there was more of devilry than
roguery in anything I had been engaged in.

I was not long in making up my mind; for I saw Archibald Campbell and
two of the town-guard at the head of the close as I stepped out at the
stair-foot. I had no doubt that I was the person they wished to honour
with their accompaniment to the civic authorities. I was out at the
bottom of the close like thought. I believe they never got sight of me.
I kept in hiding all day--neither my uncle nor any of my friends knew
where I was to be found. After it was dark, I ventured into town; but no
farther than the Low Calton, where dwelt an old servant of my father's,
who had been my nurse after the death of my mother. She was a widow, and
lived in one of the ground flats, where she kept a small retail shop.
Poor creature! she loved me as if I had been her own child, and wept
when I told her the dilemma I was in. She promised to conceal me until
the storm blew over, and to make my peace once more with my uncle, if I
would promise to be a good boy in future. She made ready for me a
comfortable supper, and a bed in her small back room. Weary sitting
alone, I went to rest, and soon fell into a sound sleep. I had lain
thus, I know not how long, when I was roused by a loud noise, as if some
person or persons had fallen on the floor above; and voices in angry
altercation struck my ear.

The weather being cold, my nurse had put on a fire in the grate, which
still burned bright, and gave the room a cheerful appearance. I looked
up--the angry voices continued, and there was a continued beating upon
the floor at intervals, and, apparently, a great struggling, as if two
people were engaged in wrestling. I attempted to fall asleep again, but
in vain. For half an hour there had been little intermission of the
noise. The ceiling of the room was composed only of the flooring of the
story above; so that the thumping and scuffling were most annoying,
reminding one of the sound of a drum overhead. I rose in anger from my
bed, and, seizing the poker, beat up upon the ceiling pretty smartly.
The sound ceased for a short space, and I crept into bed again. I was
just on the point of falling asleep when the beating and struggling were
renewed, and with them my anger. I rose from bed in great fury, resolved
at least to make those who annoyed me rise from the floor. I looked
round for something sharp, to prick them through the joinings of the
flooring-deals. By bad luck, I found upon the mantel-piece an old worn
knife, with a thin and sharp point. I mounted upon the table, and thus
reached the ceiling with my hand. The irritating noise seemed to
increase. I placed the point in one of the joints, and gave a push
up--it would not enter. I exerted my strength, when--I shall never
forget that moment--it ran up to the hilt!--a heavy groan followed; I
drew it back covered with blood! I stood upon the table stupified with
horror, gazing upon the ensanguined blade; two or three heavy drops of
blood fell upon my face and went into my eyes. I leaped from the table,
and placed the knife where I had found it. The noise ceased; but heavy
drops of blood continued to fall and coagulate upon the floor at my
feet. I felt stupified with fear and anguish--my eyes were riveted upon
the blood which--drop, drop, drop--fell upon the floor. I had stood thus
for some time before the danger I was in occurred to me. I started,
hastily put on my clothes, and, opening the window, leapt out, fled by
the back of the houses, past the Methodist chapel, up the back stairs
into Shakspeare square, and along Princes' street; nor did I slacken my
pace until I was a considerable way out of town.

I was now miserable. The night was dark as a dungeon; but not half so
dark as my own thoughts. I had deprived a fellow-creature of life! In
vain did I say to myself that it was done with no evil intention on my
part. I had been too rash in using the knife; and my conscience was
against me. I was at this very time, also, in hiding for my rashness
and folly in other respects. I trembled at the first appearance of
day, lest I should be apprehended as a murderer. Dawn found me in the
neighbourhood of Bathgate. Cold and weary as I was, I dared not approach
a house or the public road, but lay concealed in a wood all day, under
sensations of the utmost horror. Towards evening, I cautiously emerged
from my hiding-place. Compelled by hunger, I entered a lonely house
at a distance from the public road, and, for payment, obtained some
refreshment, and got my benumbed limbs warmed. During my stay, I avoided
all unnecessary conversation. I trembled lest they would speak of the
murder in Edinburgh; for, had they done so, my agitation must have
betrayed me. After being refreshed, I left the hospitable people, and
pursued, under cover of the night, my route to Glasgow, which I reached
a short time after daybreak. Avoiding the public streets, I entered the
first change-house I found open at this early hour, where I obtained a
warm breakfast and a bed, of both which I stood greatly in need. I soon
fell asleep, in spite of the agitation of my mind; but my dreams were
far more horrifying than my waking thoughts, dreadful as they were. I
awoke early in the afternoon, feverish and unrefreshed.

After some time spent in summoning up resolution, I requested my
landlady to procure for me a sight of any of the Edinburgh newspapers
of the day before. She brought one to me. My agitation was so great
that I dared not trust myself to take it out of her hand, lest she had
perceived the tremor I was in; but requested her to lay it down, while
I appeared to be busy adjusting my dress--carefully, all the time,
keeping my back to her. I had two objects in view: I wished to see the
shipping-list, as it was my aim to leave the country for America by the
first opportunity; and, secondly, to see what account the public had got
of my untoward adventure. I felt conscious that all the city was in
commotion about it, and the authorities despatched for my apprehension;
for I had no doubt that my nurse would at once declare her innocence,
and tell who had done the deed. With an anxiety I want words to express,
I grasped the paper as soon as the landlady retired, and hurried over
its columns until I reached the last. During the interval, I believe I
scarcely breathed; I looked it over once more with care; I felt as if a
load had been lifted from my breast--there was not in the whole paper a
single word of a death by violence or accident. I thought it strange,
but rejoiced. I felt that I was not in such imminent danger of being
apprehended; but my mind was still racked almost to distraction.

I remained in my lodging for several days, very ill, both from a severe
cold I had caught and distress of mind. I had seen every paper during
the time. Still there was nothing in them applicable to my case. I was
bewildered, and knew not what to think. Had the occurrences of that
fearful night, I thought, been only a delusion--some horrid dream or
nightmare? Alas! the large drops of blood that still stained my shirt,
which, in my confusion, I had not changed, drove from my mind the
consoling hope; they were damning evidence of a terrible reality. My
mind reverted back to its former agony, which became so aggravated by
the silence of the public prints that I was rendered desperate. The
silence gave a mystery to the whole occurrence, more unendurable than if
I had found it narrated in the most aggravated language, and my person
described, with a reward for my apprehension.

As soon as my sickness had a little abated, and I was able to go out, I
went in the evening, a little before ten o'clock, to the neighbourhood
of where the coach from Edinburgh stopped. I walked about until its
arrival, shunning observation as much as possible. At length it came. No
one descended from it whom I recollected ever to have seen. Rendered
desperate, I followed two travellers into a public-house which they
entered, along with the guard. For some time, I sat an attentive
listener to their conversation. It was on indifferent subjects; and I
watched an opportunity to join in their talk. Speaking with an air of
indifference, I turned the conversation to the subject I had so much at
heart--the local news of the city. They gave me what little they had;
but not one word of it concerned my situation. I inquired at the guard
if he would, next morning, be so kind as take a letter to Edinburgh, for
Widow Neil, in the Low Calton.

"With pleasure," he said--"I know her well, as I live close by her shop;
but, poor woman, she has been very unwell for these two or three days
past. There has been some strange talk of a young lad who vanished from
her house, no one can tell how; she is likely to get into trouble from
the circumstance, for it is surmised he has been murdered in her house,
and his body carried off, as there was a quantity of blood upon the
floor. No one suspects her of it; but still it is considered strange
that she should have heard no noise, and can give no account of the
affair."

This statement of the guard surprised me exceedingly. Why was the affair
mentioned in so partial and unsatisfactory a manner? Why was I, a
murderer, suspected of being myself murdered? Why did not this lead to
an investigation, which must have exposed the whole horrid mystery of
the death of the individual up stairs? I could not understand it. My
mind became the more perplexed, the more I thought of it. Yet, so
far, I had no reason to complain. Nothing had been said in any respect
implicating me. Perhaps I had killed nobody; perhaps I had only wounded
some one who did not know whence the stab came; or perhaps the person
killed or wounded was an outlaw, and no discovery could be made of his
situation. All these thoughts rushed through my mind as I sat beside the
men. I at last left them, being afraid to put further questions.

I went to my lodgings and considered what I should do. I conceived it
safest to write no letters to my friends, or say anything further on the
subject. I meditated upon the propriety of going to America, and had
nearly made up my mind to that step. Every day, the mysterious affair
became more and more disagreeable and painful to me. I gave up making
further inquiries, and even carefully avoided, for a time, associating
with any person or reading any newspaper. I gradually became easier, as
time, which brought no explanation to me, passed over; but the thought
still lay at the bottom of my heart, that I was a murderer.

I went one day to a merchant's counting-house, to take my passage for
America. The man looked at me attentively. I shook with fear, but he
soon relieved me by asking--"Why I intended to leave so good a country
for so bad a one?" I replied, that I could get no employment here. My
appearance had pleased him. He offered me a situation in his office. I
accepted it. I continued in Glasgow, happy and respected, for several
years, and, to all likelihood, was to have settled there for life. I was
on the point of marriage with a young woman, as I thought, every way
worthy of the love I had for her. Her parents were satisfied; the day of
our nuptials was fixed--the house was taken and furnished wherein we
were to reside, and everything prepared. In the delirium of love, I
thought myself the happiest of men, and even forgot the affair of the
murder.

It was on the Monday preceding our union--which was to take place
in her father's house on the Friday evening--that business of the utmost
importance called me to the town of Ayr. I took a hasty farewell of my
bride, and set off, resolved to be back upon the Thursday at farthest.
Early in the forenoon of Tuesday, I got everything arranged to my
satisfaction; but was too late for the first coach. To amuse myself
in the best manner I could, until the coach should set off again, I
wandered down to the harbour; and, while there, it was my misfortune to
meet an old acquaintance, Alexander Cameron, the son of a barber in the
Luckenbooths. Glad to see each other, we shook hands most cordially;
and, after chatting about "auld langsyne" until we were weary wandering
upon the pier, I proposed to adjourn to my inn. To this proposal he at
once acceded, on condition that I should go on board of his vessel
afterwards, when he would return the visit in the evening. To this I had
no objection to make. The time passed on until the dusk. We left the
inn; but, instead of proceeding to the harbour, we struck off into the
country for some time, and then made the coast at a small bay, where I
could just discern, through the twilight, a small lugger-rigged vessel
at anchor. I felt rather uneasy, and began to hesitate; when my friend,
turning round, said--

"That is my vessel, and as fine a crew mans her as ever walked a
deck;--we will be on board in a minute."

I wished, yet knew not how, to refuse. He made a loud call; a boat with
two men pushed from under a point, and we were rowing towards the vessel
ere I could summon resolution to refuse. I remained on board not above
an hour. I was treated in the most kindly manner. When I was coming
away, Cameron said--

"I have requested this visit from the confidence I feel in your honour.
I ask you not, to promise not to deceive me--I am sure you will not. My
time is very uncertain upon this coast, and I have papers of the utmost
importance, which I wish to leave in safe hands. We are too late to
arrange them to-night; but be so kind as promise to be at the same spot
where we embarked to-morrow morning, at what hour you please, and I will
deliver them to you. Should it ever be in my power to serve you, I will
not flinch from the duty of gratitude, cost what it may."

There was a something so sincere and earnest in his manner, that I could
not refuse. I said, that as I left Ayr on the morrow, I would make it an
early hour--say, six o'clock; which pleased him. We shook hands and
parted, when I was put on shore, and returned to my inn, where I
ruminated upon what the charge could be I was going to receive from my
old friend in so unexpected a manner.

I was up betimes, and at the spot by the appointed hour. The boat was in
waiting; but Cameron was not with her. I was disappointed, and told one
of the men so; he replied that the captain expected me on board to
breakfast. With a reluctance much stronger than I had felt the preceding
night, I consented to go on board. I found him in the cabin, and the
breakfast ready for me. We sat down, and began to converse about the
papers. Scarce was the second cup filled out, when a voice called down
the companion, "Captain, the cutter!" Cameron leaped from the table, and
ran on deck. I heard a loud noise of cordage and bustle; but could not
conceive what it was, until the motion of the vessel too plainly told
that she was under way. I rose in haste to get upon deck; but the cover
was secured. I knocked and called; but no one paid any attention to my
efforts. I stood thus knocking, and calling at the stretch of my voice,
for half an hour, in vain. I returned to my seat, and sat down, overcome
with anger and chagrin. Here was I again placed in a disagreeable
dilemma--evidently going far out to sea, when I ought to be on my way to
Glasgow to my wedding. In the middle of my ravings, I heard first one
shot, then another; but still the ripple of the water and the noise
overhead continued. I was now convinced that I was on board of a
smuggling lugger, and that Cameron was either sole proprietor or
captain. I wished with all my heart that the cutter might overtake and
capture us, that I might be set ashore; but all my wishes were vain--we
still held on our way at a furious rate. As I heard no more shots, I
knew that we had left the cutter at a greater distance. Again,
therefore, I strove to gain a hearing, but in vain: I then strove to
force the hatch, but it resisted all my efforts. I yielded myself at
length to my fate; for the way of the vessel was not in the least
abated.

Towards night, I could find, by the pitching of the vessel and the
increased noise above, that the wind had increased fearfully, and that
it blew a storm. It was with difficulty that I could keep my seat, so
much did she pitch. During the whole night and following day, I was so
sick that I thought I would have died. I had no light; there was no
human creature to give me a mouthful of water; and I could not help
myself even to rise from the floor of the cabin, on which I had sunk.
The agony of my mind was extreme: the day following was to have been
that of my marriage; I was at sea, and knew not where I was. I blamed
myself for my easy, complying temper; my misery increased; and, could I
have stood on my feet, I know not what I might have done in my desperate
situation. Thus I spent a second night; and the day which I had thought
was to shine on my happiness, dawned on my misery.

Towards the afternoon, the motion of the vessel ceased, and I heard the
anchor drop. Immediately the hatch was opened, and Cameron came to me. I
rose in anger, so great that I could not give it utterance. Had I not
been so weak from sickness, I would have flown and strangled him. He
made a thousand apologies for what had happened. I saw that his concern
was real; my anger subsided into melancholy, and my first utterance was
employed to inquire where we were.

"I am sorry to say," replied he, "that I cannot but feel really grieved
to inform you that we are at present a few leagues off Flushing."

"Good God!" I exclaimed, as I buried my face in my hands, while I
actually wept for shame--"I am utterly undone! What will my beloved
Eliza say? How shall I ever appear again before her and her friends?
Even now, perhaps, she is dressing to be my wife, or weeping in the arms
of her bridesmaid. The thought will drive me mad. For Godsake, Cameron,
get under way, and land me again either at Greenock or where you first
took me up, or I am utterly undone. Do this, and I will forget all I
have suffered and am suffering."

"I would, upon my soul," he said, "were it in my power, though I should
die in a jail; but, while this gale lasts, it were folly to attempt it.
Besides, I am not sole proprietor of the lugger--I am only captain. My
crew are sharers in the cargo. I would not get their consent. The
thought of the evil I was unintentionally doing you, gave me more
concern than the fear of capture. Had the storm not come on, I would
have risked all to have landed you somewhere in Scotland; but it was so
severe, and blowing from the land, that there was no use to attempt it.
I hope, however, the weather will now moderate, and the wind shift, when
I will run you back, or procure you a passage in the first craft that
leaves for Scotland."

I made no answer to him, I was so absorbed in my own reflections. I
walked the deck like one distracted, praying for a change in the
weather. For another three days it blew, with less or more violence,
from the same point--during which time I scarcely ever ate or drank, and
never went to bed. On the forenoon of Monday, the wind shifted. I went
immediately ashore in the boat, and found a brig getting under way for
Leith. I stepped on board, and took farewell of Captain Cameron, whom I
never saw again, and wish I had never seen him in my life.

After a tedious passage of nine days, during which we had baffling winds
and calms, we reached Leith Roads about seven in the evening. It was low
water, and the brig could not enter the harbour for several hours. I was
put ashore in the boat, and hastened up to the Black Bull Inn, in order
to secure a seat in the mail for Glasgow, which was to start in a few
minutes. As I came up Leith Walk, my feelings became of a mixed nature.
I thought of Widow Niel and the murder, as I looked over at the Calton;
then my mind reverted to my bride. I got into the coach, and was soon
on the way to Glasgow. I laid myself back in a corner, and kept a
stubborn silence. I could not endure to enter into conversation with my
fellow-travellers: I scarce heard them speak--my mind was so distracted
by what had befallen me, and what might be the result.

Pale, weary, and exhausted, I reached my lodgings between three and four
o'clock of the morning of the seventeenth day from that in which I had
left it in joy and hope. After I had knocked, and was answered, my
landlady almost fainted at the sight of me. She had believed me dead;
and my appearance was not calculated to do away the impression, I looked
so ghastly from anxiety and the want of sleep. Her joy was extreme when
she found her mistake. I undressed and threw myself on my bed, where I
soon fell into a sound sleep, the first I had enjoyed since my
involuntary voyage.

I did not awake until about eight o'clock, when I arose and dressed. I
did not haste to Eliza, as my heart urged me, lest my sudden appearance
should have been fatal to her. I wrote her a note, informing her I was
in health, and would call and explain all after breakfast. I sent off my
card, and immediately waited upon my employers. They were more surprised
than pleased at my return. Another had been placed in my situation, and
they did not choose to pay him off when I might think proper to return
after my unaccountable absence. My soul fired at the base insinuation;
my voice rose, as I demanded to know if they doubted my veracity. With
an expression of countenance that spoke daggers, one of them said--"We
doubt, at least, your prudence in going on board an unknown vessel; but
let us proceed to business--we have found all your books correct to a
farthing, and here is an order for your salary up to your leaving. Good
morning!"

I received it indignantly; and, bowing stiffly, left them. I was not
much cast down at this turn my affairs had taken so unexpectedly. I had
no doubt of finding a warm reception from Eliza, hurried to her parent's
house, and rung the bell for admittance. Judge my astonishment when her
brother opened the door, with a look as if we had never met, and
inquired what I wanted. The blood mounted to my face--I essayed to
speak; but my tongue refused its office; I felt bewildered, and stood
more like a statue than a man. In the most insulting manner, he
said--"There is no one here who wishes any intercourse with you." And he
shut the door upon me.

Of everything that befell me for a length of time, from this moment, I
am utterly unconscious; when I again awoke to consciousness, I was in
bed at my lodgings, with my kind landlady seated at my bedside. I was so
weak and reduced I could scarce turn myself; the agitation I had
undergone, and the cruel receptions I had met on my return, had been too
much for my mind to bear; a brain fever had been the consequence, and my
life had been despaired of for several days. I would have questioned
my landlady; but she urged silence upon me, and refused to answer my
inquiries. I soon after learned all. I had been utterly neglected by
those to whom I might have looked for aid or consolation; but the
bitterest thought of all was, that Eliza should cast me off without
inquiry or explanation. I could not bring my mind to believe she did
so of her own accord. She must, I thought, be either cruelly deceived
or under restraint; for she and her friends could not but know the
situation I was in. I vainly strove to call my wounded pride to my aid,
and drive her from my thoughts; but the more I strove, the firmer hold
she took of me. As soon as I could hold my pen, I wrote to her in the
most moving terms; and, after stating the whole truth and what I had
suffered, begged an interview, were it to be our last--for my life or
death, I said, appeared to depend upon her answer. In the afternoon I
received one: it was my own letter, which had been opened, and enclosed
in an envelope. The writing was in her own hand. Cruel woman! all it
contained was, that she had read, and now returned my letter as of her
own accord, and by the approbation of her friends; for she was firmly
resolved to have no communication with one who had used her so cruelly,
and exposed her to the ridicule of her friends and acquaintances. This
unjust answer had quite an opposite effect from what I could have
conceived a few hours before; pity and contempt for the fickle creature
took the place of love; my mind became once more tranquil; I recovered
rapidly, and soon began to walk about and enjoy the sweets of summer. I
met my fickle fair by accident more than once in my walks, and found I
could pass her as if we had never met. Her brother I had often a mind
to have horsewhipped; but the thought that I would only give greater
publicity to my unfortunate adventure, and be looked upon as the guilty
aggressor, prevented me from gratifying my wish.

Glasgow had now become hateful to me, otherwise I would have commenced
manufacturer upon my own account, as was my intention had I married
Eliza. In as short a period as convenient, I sold off the furniture of
the house I had taken, at little or no loss, and found that I still was
master of a considerable sum. Having made a present to my landlady for
her care of me, I bade a long adieu to Glasgow, and proceeded by the
coach to Leeds, where I procured a situation in a house with which our
Glasgow house had had many transactions.

As I fear I am getting prolix, I shall hurry over the next few years I
remained in Leeds. I became a partner of the house; our transactions
were very extensive, more particularly in the United States of America,
where we were deeply engaged in the cotton trade. It was judged
necessary that one of the firm should be on the spot, to extend the
business as much as possible. The others being married men, I at once
volunteered to take this department upon myself, and made arrangements
accordingly. I proceeded towards Liverpool by easy stages on horseback,
as the coaches at that period were not so regular as they are at
present.

On the second day after my leaving Leeds, the afternoon became extremely
wet towards evening; so that I resolved to remain all night in the first
respectable inn I came to. I dismounted, and found it completely filled
with travellers, who had arrived a short time before. It was with
considerable difficulty I prevailed upon the hostess to allow me to
remain. She had not a spare bed; all had been already engaged; the
weather continued still wet and boisterous, and I resolved to proceed no
farther that night, whether I could obtain a bed or not. I, at length,
arranged with her that I should pass the night by the fireside, seated
in an arm-chair. Matters were thus all set to rights, and supper over,
when a loud knocking was heard at the door. An additional stranger
entered the kitchen where I sat, drenched with rain and benumbed with
cold; and, after many difficulties upon the side of the hostess, the
same arrangements were made for him.

As our situations were so similar, we soon became very intimate. I felt
much interest in him. He was of a frank and lively turn in conversation,
and exceedingly well informed on every subject we started. A shrewd
eccentricity in the style and matter of his remarks, forced the
conviction upon his hearers, that he was a man of no mean capacity;
there was also a restless inquietude in his manner, which gave him the
appearance of having a slight shade of insanity. At one time his bright
black eye was lighted up with joy and hilarity, as he chanted a few
lines of some convivial song. In a few minutes, a change came over him,
and furtive, timid glances stole from under his long dark eyelashes.
Then would follow a glance so fierce, that it required a firm mind to
endure it unmoved. These looks became more frequent as his libations
continued; for he had consumed a great quantity of liquor, and seemed to
me to be in that frame of mind when one strives in vain to forget his
identity.

The other inmates of the house had long retired, and all was hushed save
the voice of my companion. I felt no inclination to sleep; the various
scenes of my life were floating over my mind, as I gazed into the bright
fire that glowed before me, while the storm raged without. My companion
had at length sunk into a troubled slumber; his head resting upon his
hand, which was supported by the table, and his intelligent face half
turned from me. While I sat thus, my attention was roused by a low,
indistinct murmuring from the sleeper: he was evidently dreaming--for,
although there were a few disjointed words here and there pronounced, he
still slept soundly.

Gradually his articulation became more distinct and his countenance
animated; but his eyes were closed. I became much interested; for this
was the first instance of a dreamer talking in his sleep I had ever
witnessed. I watched him. A gleam of joy and pleasure played around
his well-formed mouth, while the few inarticulate sounds he uttered
resembled distant shouts of youthful glee. Gradually the tones became
connected sentences; care and anxiety, at times, came over his
countenance; in heart-touching language, he bade farewell to his parent
and the beloved scenes of his youth; large drops of moisture stole from
under his closed eyelids. The transitions of his mind were so quick,
that it required my utmost attention to follow them; but I never heard
such true eloquence as came from this dreamer. I had seen most of the
performers of our modern stage, and appreciated their talents; but what
I at this time witnessed, in the actings of genuine nature, surpassed
all their efforts.

Gradually the shades of innocence departed from his countenance; his
language became adulterated by slang phrases, and his features assumed
a fiendish cast that made me shudder. He showed that he was familiar
with the worst of company; care and anxiety gradually crept over his
countenance; he had, it seemed, commenced a system of fraud upon his
employers and been detected; grief and despair threw over him their
frightful shadows; pale and dejected, he pleaded for mercy, for the sake
of his father, in the most abject terms. He now spoke with energy and
connection--it was to his companions in jail; but hope had fled, and a
shameful death seemed to him inevitable.

His trial came on. He proceeded to court--his lips appeared pale and
parched--a convulsive quiver agitated the lower muscles of his face and
neck--he seemed to breathe with difficulty--his head sank lower upon
the hand that supported it--he had been condemned--he was now in his
solitary cell--his murmurs breathed repentance and devotion--his
sufferings appeared to be so intense that large drops of perspiration
stood upon his forehead--he was engaged with the clergyman, preparing
for death. Remembering what I had suffered in my own dreams, I resolved
to awake him, and, to do so, gave the arm that lay upon the table a
gentle shake. A shudder passed over his frame, and he sank upon the
floor.

All that I have narrated had occurred in a space of time remarkably
short. I rose to lift him to his seat, and make an apology for the
surprise I had given him; but he was quite unconscious. The noise of his
fall had alarmed the landlady, who, with several of the guests, entered
as I was stooping with him in my arms, attempting to raise him. I was so
much shocked when I found the state he was in, that I let him drop, and
recoiled back in horror, exclaiming, "Good God! have I killed him! Send
for a surgeon." The idea that I had endeavoured to awake him in an
improper time came with strong conviction upon me, and forced the words
out of my mouth.

They raised him up and placed him on his seat. I could not offer the
smallest assistance. Every effort was used to restore him in vain, and a
surgeon sent for, but life had fled. During all this time I had remained
in a stupor of mind; suspicion fell upon me that I had murdered him; I
had been alone with him, and seen stooping over the body when they
entered; and my exclamation at the time, and my confusion, were all
construed as sure tokens of my guilt. I was strictly guarded until a
coroner's inquest could be held upon the body.

I told the whole circumstances as they had occurred; but my narrative
made not the smallest impression. I was not believed--an incredulous
smile, or a dubious shake of the head, was all that I obtained from my
auditors. I then kept silence, and refused to enter into any further
explanation, conscious that my innocence would be made manifest at the
inquest, which must meet as soon as the necessary steps could be taken.
I was already tried and condemned by those around me--every circumstance
was turned against me, and the most prominent was that I was Scotch.
Many remarks were made, all to the prejudice of my country, but aimed
at me. My heart burned to retort their unjust abuse; but I was too
indignant to trust myself to utter the thoughts that swelled my heart
almost to bursting.

The surgeon had come, and was busy examining the body of the unfortunate
individual, when a new traveller arrived. He appeared to be about sixty
years of age, of a pleasing countenance, which was, however, shaded by
anxiety and grief. Sick and weary of those around me, I had ceased to
regard them, but I raised my eyes as the new comer entered; and was
at once struck by a strong resemblance, as I thought, between him
and the deceased. The stranger appeared to take no interest in what
was going on, but urged the landlady to make haste and procure him
some refreshment, while his horse was being fed. He was in the utmost
hurry to depart, as important business required his immediate attendance
in London. The loquacious landlady forced him to listen to a most
exaggerated account of the horrid murder which the Scotchman had
committed in her house. The story was so much distorted by her
inventions, that I could not have recognised the event, if the time and
place, and her often pointing to me and the bed on which the body was
laid, had not identified it. I could perceive a faint shudder come over
his frame, as she finished her romance. The surgeon came from his
examination of the body. He was a man well advanced in years, of an
intelligent and benevolent cast of countenance. She inquired with what
instrument the murder had been perpetrated.

"My good lady," said the surgeon, "I can find no marks of violence upon
the body, and I cannot say whether the individual met his death by
violence or the visitation of God."

"Oh, sir," cried the hostess, "I am certain he was murdered; for I saw
them struggling on the floor as I entered the room; and he said himself
that he had murdered him."

"Peace, good woman," said the surgeon, who turned to me, and requested
to know the particulars from myself; "for I am persuaded," he continued,
"that no outward violence has been sustained by the deceased."

I once more began to narrate to him the whole circumstance. As I
proceeded with the dream, the stranger suddenly became riveted in his
attention; his eyes were fixed upon me; the muscles of his face were
strangely agitated, as if he was restraining some strong emotion; wonder
and anxiety were strongly expressed by turns, until I mentioned one of
the names I had heard in the dream. Uttering a heart-rending groan, or
rather scream, he rose from his seat and staggered to the bed, where he
fell upon the inanimate body, and sobbed audibly as he kissed the cold
forehead, and parted the long brown hair that covered it.

"Oh, Charles," he cried, "my son, my dear lost son! have I found you
thus, who was once the stay and hope of my heart!"

There was not a dry eye in the room after this burst of agonized nature.
He rose from the bed and approached me. Looking mildly in my face, he
said--

"Stranger, be so good as to continue your account of this sad accident;
for both our sakes, I hope you are innocent of any violence upon my
son."

Overcome by his manner, in kindness to him I suggested that it would be
better were only the surgeon and himself present at the recital. Several
of those present protested loudly against my proposal, saying I would
make my escape if I was not guarded. My anger now rose--I could restrain
myself no longer--I cast an indignant glance around, and, in a voice at
its utmost pitch, dared any one present to say I had used violence
against the unfortunate young man. All remained silent. In a calmer
manner, I declared I had no wish to depart, urgent as my business was,
until the inquest was over; and, if they doubted my word, they were
welcome to keep strict watch at the door and windows.

The old man perceived the kindness of my motive for withdrawing with
him, and his looks spoke his gratitude as we retired.

I once more stated every circumstance as it had occurred, from the time
of his son's arrival until he fell from the chair. As I repeated the
words I could make out in the early part of the dream, his father wept
like a child, and said--"Would to God he had never left me!" When I came
to the London part, he groaned aloud and wrung his hands. I was inclined
more than once to stop; but he motioned me to proceed, while tears
choked his utterance. When I had made an end, he clasped his hands, and,
raising his face to heaven, said--"I thank Thee, Father of mercies! Thy
will be done. He was the last of five of Thy gifts. I am now childless,
and have nothing more worth living for but to obey Thy will. I thank
Thee that in his last moments it can be said of him as it was of thy
apostle--'Behold, he prayeth!'"

For some time we remained silent, reverencing the old man's grief. The
surgeon first broke silence:--"Stranger," he said, "I have not a doubt
of your innocence of any intention to injure the person of the deceased,
but your humane intention to awaken him was certainly the immediate
cause of his death; for, had you tried to rouse him from sleep, either
sooner or later in his dream, all might have been well. The gentle shake
you gave his arm, in all likelihood, was felt as the fatal fall of the
platform or push of the executioner, which caused, from fright, a sudden
collapse of the heart, that put a final stop to the circulation and
caused immediate death. We regret it; but cannot say there was any bad
intention on your part."

I thanked the surgeon for the justice he had done me in his remarks; and
then addressing the bereaved father, I begged his forgiveness for my
unfortunate interference with his son; I only did so to put a period to
his dream, as his sufferings appeared to me to be of the most acute
description.

He stretched out his hand, and grasping mine, which he held for some
time, while he strove to overcome his emotions, he at length said--

"Young man, from my heart I acquit you of every evil intention, and
believe you from evidence that cannot be called in question. What you
have told coincides with facts I already possess. For some time back the
conduct of Charles gave me serious cause of uneasiness; but I knew not
half the extent of his excesses, although his requests for money were
incessant. I supplied them as far as was in my power; for he accompanied
them with dutiful acknowledgments and plausible reasons. Until of late
I had fulfilled his every wish; but I found I could no longer comply
with prudence. Alas! you have let me at length understand that the
gaming-table was the gulf that swallowed up all. I had for some time
resolved to go personally and reason with him upon the folly of his
extravagances; but, unfortunately, delayed it from day to day and week
to week. I felt it to be my duty as a parent; but my heart shrunk from
it. Fatal delay! Oh, that I had done as my duty urged me!" (Here his
feelings overpowered him for a few minutes.) "Had I only gone even a few
days before I received that fatal letter that at once roused me from my
guilty supineness," (here he drew a letter from his pocket and gave it
me,) "he might have been saved! Read it."

I complied. It was as follows:--

     "WORTHY FRIEND,--I scarce know how to communicate the
     information; but, I fear, no one here will do so in so gentle
     a manner. Your son Charles, I am grieved to say, has not been
     acting as I could have wished for this some time back. One of
     the partners called here this morning to inquire after him,
     as he had absconded from their service on account of some
     irregularity that had been discovered in his cash entries, and
     made me afraid, by his manner, that there might be something
     worse. Do, for your own and his sake, come to town as quickly
     as possible. In the meantime, I shall do all in my power to
     avert any evil that may threaten.--Adieu!

                                       "JOHN WALKER."



"I was on my way," he proceeded, "to save my poor Charles from shame,
had even the workhouse been my only refuge at the close of my days.
Alas! as he told in his dream, I fear he had forfeited his life by that
fatal act, forgery, for which there is no pardon with man. If so, the
present dispensation is one of mercy, for which I bless His name, who in
all things doeth right."

My heart ached for the pious old man. We left the room, he leaning upon
my arm. The surgeon and parent both pronounced me innocent of the young
man's death. Those who still remained in the house, more particularly
the hostess, appeared disappointed, and did not scruple to hint their
doubts. Until the coroner's inquest sat, which was in the afternoon,
the father of the stranger never left my side, but seemed to take a
melancholy pleasure in conversing about his son. The jury, after a
patient investigation, returned their verdict, "Died by the visitation
of God."

I immediately bade farewell to the surgeon and the parent of the young
man, and proceeded for Liverpool, musing upon my strange destiny. It
appeared to me that I was haunted by some fatality, which plunged me
constantly into misfortune. I rejoiced that I was on the point of
leaving Britain, and hoped that in America I should be freed from my
bad fortune.

When I arrived in Liverpool I found the packet on the eve of sailing;
and, with all expedition, I made everything ready and went on board. We
were to sail with the morning tide. There were a good many passengers;
but all of them appeared to be every-day personages--all less or more
studious about their own comforts. After an agreeable voyage of five
weeks, we arrived safe, and all in good health, in Charleston. In a few
months I completed our arrangement satisfactorily, and began to make
preparations for my return to England again. A circumstance, however,
occurred, which overturned all my plans for a time, and gave a new turn
to my thoughts. Was it possible that, after the way in which I had been
cast off before by one of the bewitching sex, I could ever do more than
look upon them again with indifference? I did not hate or shun their
company, but a feeling pretty much akin to contempt, often stole over me
as I recollected my old injury. I could feel the sensation at times give
way for a few hours in the company of some females, and again return
with redoubled force upon the slightest occasion, such as a single word
or look. I was prejudiced, and resolved not again to submit to the power
of the sex. But vain are the resolves of man. This continued struggle, I
really believe, was the reason of my again falling more violently in
love than ever, and that, too, against my own will. When I strove to
discover faults, I only found perfections.

I had boarded in the house of a widow lady who had three daughters, none
of them exceeding twelve years of age. A governess, one of the sweetest
creatures that I had ever seen, or shall ever see again, had the charge
of them. On the second evening after my arrival, I retired to my
apartment, overcome by heat and fatigue. I lay listlessly thinking of
Auld Reekie, the mysterious murder, and all the strange occurrences of
my past life. My attention was awakened by a voice the sweetest I had
ever heard. I listened in rapture. It was only a few notes, as the
singer was trying the pitch of her voice, and soon ceased. I was
wondering which of the family it could be who sang so well, when I heard
one of the daughters say, "Do, governess, sing me one song, and I will
be a good girl all to-morrow. Pray do!" I became all attention--again
the voice fell upon my ear. It was low and plaintive--the air was
familiar to me--my whole soul became entranced--the tear-drop swam in
my eyes--it was one of Scotland's sweetest ditties--"The Broom o' the
Cowdenknowes." No one who has not heard, unexpected, in a foreign land
the songs he loved in his youth, can appreciate the thrill of pleasing
ecstasy that carries the mind, as it were, out of the body, when the
ears catch the well-known sounds.

Next day I was all anxiety to see the individual who had so fascinated
me the evening before. I found her all that my imagination had pictured
her. A new feeling possessed me. In vain I called pride to my aid--I
could not drive her from my thoughts. Sleeping or waking, her voice and
form were ever present. I left the town for a time to free myself from
these unwelcome feelings, pleasing as they were. I felt angry at myself
for harbouring them; but all my endeavours were vain--go where I would,
I was with my Mary on the Cowdenknowes.

I know not how it was. I had loved with more ardour in my first passion,
and been more the victim of impulse; a dreamy sensation occupied my
mind, and my whole existence seemed concentrated in her alone; now, my
mind felt cool and collected--I weighed every fault and excellence;
still I was hurried on, and felt like one placed in a boat in the
current of a river, pulling hard to get out of the stream in vain. I at
length laid down my oars, and yielded to the impulse. In short, I made
up my mind to win the esteem and love of Mary; nor did I strive in vain.
My humble attentions were kindly received, and dear to my heart is the
remembrance of the timid glances I first detected in her full black
eyes. For some weeks I sought an opportunity to declare my love. She
evidently shunned being alone with me; and I often could discern, when I
came upon her by surprise, that she had been weeping. Some secret sorrow
evidently oppressed her mind, and, at times, I have seen her beautiful
face suffused with scarlet and her eyes become wet with tears, when
my pompous landlady spoke of the ladies of Europe and "the _true_
white-blooded females of America." I dreamed not at this time of the
cause; but the truth dawned upon me afterwards.

It was on a delightful evening, after one of the most sultry days in
this climate, I had wandered into the garden to enjoy the evening
breeze, with which nothing in these northern climes will bear
comparison; the fire-flies sported in myriads around, and gave animation
to the scene; the fragrance of plants and the melody of birds filled the
senses to repletion. I wanted only the presence of Mary to be completely
happy. I heard a low warbling at a short distance, from a bower covered
with clustering vines. It was Mary's voice! I stood overpowered with
pleasure--she sung again one of our Scottish tunes.

As the last faint cadence died away, I entered the arbour; the noise
of my approach made her start from her seat; she was hurrying away in
confusion, when I gently seized her hand, and requested her to remain,
if it were only for a few moments, as I had something to impart of the
utmost importance to us both. She stood; her face was averted from my
gaze; I felt her hand tremble in mine. Now that the opportunity I so
much desired had been obtained, my resolution began to fail me. We had
stood thus for sometime.

"Sir, I must not stay here longer," she said. "Good evening!"

"Mary," said I, "I love you. May I hope to gain your regard by any
length of service? Allow me to hope, and I shall be content."

"I must not listen to this language," she replied. "Do not hope. There
is a barrier between us that cannot be removed. I cannot be yours. I am
unworthy of your regard. Alas! I am a child of misfortune."

"Then," said I, "my hopes of happiness are fled for ever. So young, so
beautiful, with a soul so elevated as I know yours to be, you can have
done nothing to render you unworthy of me. For heaven's sake, tell me
what that fatal barrier is. Is it love?"

"I thank you," she replied. "You do me but justice. A thought has never
dwelt upon my mind for which I have cause to blush; but Nature has
placed a gulf between you and me, you will not pass." She paused, and
the tears swam in her eyes.

"For mercy's sake, proceed!" I said.

"_There is black blood in these veins_," she cried, in agony.

A load was at once removed from my mind. I raised her hand to my
lips:--"Mary, my love, this is no bar. I come from a country where the
aristocracy of blood is unknown, where nothing degrades man in the eyes
of his fellow-man but vice."

Why more? Mary consented to be mine, and we were shortly after wed. I
was blessed in the possession of one of the most gentle of beings.

We had been married about six or seven weeks, when business called me
from Charleston to one of the northern States. I resolved to take Mary
with me, as I was to go by sea; and our arrangements were completed. The
vessel was to sail on the following day. I was seated with her, enjoying
the cool of the evening, when a stranger called and requested to see me
on business of importance. I immediately went to him, and was struck
with the coarseness of his manners, and his vulgar importance. I bowed,
and asked his business.

"You have a woman in this house," said he, "called Mary De Lyle, I
guess."

"I do not understand the purport of your question," said I. "What do you
mean?"

"My meaning is pretty clear," said he. "Mary De Lyle is in this house,
and she is my property. If you offer to carry her out of the State, I
will have her sent to jail, and you fined. That is right ahead, I
guess."

"Wretch," said I, in a voice hoarse with rage, "get out of my house, or
I will crush you to death. Begone!"

I believe I would have done him some fearful injury, had he not
precipitately made his escape. In a frame of mind I want words to
express, I hurried to Mary, and sank upon a seat, with my face buried in
my hands. She, poor thing, came trembling to my side, and implored me to
tell her what was the matter. I could only answer by my groans. At
length, I looked imploringly in her face:--

"Mary, is it possible that you are a slave?" said I.

She uttered a piercing shriek, and sank inanimate at my feet. I lifted
her upon the sofa; but it was long before she gave symptoms of returning
life.

As soon as I could leave her, I went to a friend to ask his advice and
assistance. Through him, I learned that what I feared was but too true.
By the usages and laws of the State, she was still a slave, and liable
to be hurried from me and sold to the highest bidder, or doomed to any
drudgery her master might put her to, and even flogged at will. There
was only one remedy that could be applied; and the specific was dollars.
My friend was so kind as to negotiate with the ruffian. One thousand was
demanded, and cheerfully paid. I carried the manumission home to my
sorrowing Mary. From her I learned, as she lay in bed--her beautiful
face buried in the clothes, and her voice choked by sobs--that the
wretch who had called on me was her own father, whose avarice could not
let slip this opportunity of extorting money. With an inconsistency
often found in man, he had given Mary one of the best of educations,
and for long treated her as a favoured child, during the life of her
mother, who was one of his slaves, a woman of colour, and with some
accomplishments, which she had acquired in a genteel family. At her
death, Mary had gone as governess to my landlady; but, until the day of
her father's claim, she had never dreamed of being a slave. I allowed
the vessel to sail without me, wound up my affairs, and bade adieu for
ever to the slave States. 'Tis now twenty years since I purchased a
wife, after I had won her love, and I bless the day she was made mine;
for I have had uninterrupted happiness in her and her offspring. The
slave is now the happy wife and mother of five lovely children, who
rejoice in their mother. After remaining some years in Leeds, I returned
to Edinburgh. Widow Neil was dead; but one day I discovered, by mere
chance, that the murder I committed in her house was on a _sheep_.



MY BLACK COAT;

OR,

THE BREAKING OF THE BRIDE'S CHINA.


Gentle reader, the simple circumstances I am about to relate to you,
hang upon what is termed--a bad omen. There are few amongst the
uneducated who have not a degree of faith in omens; and even amongst the
better educated and well informed there are many who, while they profess
to disbelieve them, and, indeed, do disbelieve them, yet feel them in
their hours of solitude. I have known individuals who, in the hour of
danger, would have braved the cannon's mouth, or defied death to his
teeth, who, nevertheless, would have buried their heads in the
bedclothes at the howling of a dog at midnight, or spent a sleepless
night from hearing the tick, tick, of the spider, or the untiring song
of the kitchen-fire musician--the jolly little cricket. The age of
omens, however, is drawing to a close; for truth in its progress is
trampling delusion of every kind under its feet; yet, after all, though
a belief in omens is a superstition, it is one that carries with it a
portion of the poetry of our nature. But to proceed with our story.

Several years ago I was on my way from B---- to Edinburgh; and
being as familiar with every cottage, tree, shrub, and whin-bush on the
Dunbar and Lauder roads as with the face of an acquaintance, I made
choice of the less-frequented path by Longformacus. I always took a
secret pleasure in contemplating the dreariness of wild spreading
desolation; and, next to looking on the sea when its waves dance to the
music of a hurricane, I loved to gaze on the heath-covered wilderness,
where the blue horizon only girded its purple bosom. It was no season
to look upon the heath in the beauty of barrenness, yet I purposely
diverged from the main road. About an hour, therefore, after I had
descended from the region on the Lammermoors, and entered the Lothians,
I became sensible I was pursuing a path which was not forwarding my
footsteps to Edinburgh. It was December; the sun had just gone down; I
was not very partial to travelling in darkness, neither did I wish to
trust to chance for finding a comfortable resting-place for the night.
Perceiving a farm-steading and water-mill about a quarter of a mile from
the road, I resolved to turn towards them, and make inquiry respecting
the right path, or, at least, to request to be directed to the nearest
inn.

The "town," as the three or four houses and mill were called, was
all bustle and confusion. The female inhabitants were cleaning and
scouring, and running to and fro. I quickly learned that all this note
of preparation arose from the "maister" being to be married within three
days. Seeing me a stranger, he came from his house towards me. He was a
tall, stout, good-looking, jolly-faced farmer and miller. His manner of
accosting me partook more of kindness than civility; and his inquiries
were not free from the familiar, prying curiosity which prevails in
every corner of our island, and, I must say, in the north in particular.

"Where do you come fra, na--if it be a fair question?" inquired he.

"From B----," was the brief and merely civil reply.

"An' hae ye come frae there the day?" he continued.

"Yes," was the answer.

"Ay, man, an' ye come frae B----, do ye?" added he; "then, nae doot,
ye'll ken a person they ca' Mr. ----?"

"Did he come originally from Dunse?" returned I, mentioning also the
occupation of the person referred to.

"The vera same," rejoined the miller; "are ye acquainted wi' him, sir?"

"I ought to be," replied I; "the person you speak of is merely my
father."

"Your faither!" exclaimed he, opening his mouth and eyes to their
full width, and standing for a moment the picture of surprise--"Gude
gracious! ye dinna say sae!--is he really your faither? Losh, man, do
you no ken, then, that I'm your cousin! Ye've heard o' your cousin,
Willie Stewart."

"Fifty times," replied I.

"Weel, I'm the vera man," said he--"Gie's your hand; for, 'odsake, man,
I'm as glad as glad can be. This is real extraordinar'. I've often heard
o' you--it will be you that writes the buiks--faith ye'll be able to mak
something o' this. But come awa' into the house--ye dinna stir a mile
far'er for a week, at ony rate."

So saying, and still grasping my hand, he led me to the farm-house. On
crossing the threshold--

"Here, lassie," he cried, in a voice that made roof and rafters ring,
"bring ben the speerits, and get on the kettle--here's a cousin that I
ne'er saw in my life afore."

A few minutes served mutually to confirm and explain our
newly-discovered relationship.

"Man," said he, as we were filling a second glass, "ye've just come in
the very nick o' time; an' I'll tell ye how. Ye see I'm gaun to be
married the day after the morn; an' no haein' a friend o' ony kin-kind
in this quarter, I had to ask an acquaintance to be the best man. Now,
this was vexin' me mair than ye can think, particularly, ye see, because
the sweetheart has aye been hinting to me that it wadna be lucky for me
no to hae a bluid relation for a best man. For that matter, indeed,
luck here, luck there, I no care the toss up o' a ha'penny about omens
mysel'; but now that ye've fortunately come, I'm a great deal easier,
an' it will be ae craik out o' the way, for it will please her; an' ye
may guess, between you an' me, that she's worth the pleasin', or I wadna
had her; so I'll just step ower an' tell the ither lad that I hae a
cousin come to be my best man, an' he'll think naething o't."

On the morning of the third day, the bride and her friends arrived. She
was the only child of a Lammermoor farmer, and was in truth a real
mountain flower--a heath blossom; for the rude health that laughed upon
her cheeks approached nearer the hue of the heather-bell, than the rose
and vermillion of which poets speak. She was comely withal, possessing
an appearance of considerable strength, and was rather above the middle
size--in short, she was the very belle ideal of a miller's wife!

But to go on. Twelve couples accompanied the happy miller and his bride
to the manse, independent of the married, middle-aged, and grey-haired
visitors, who followed behind and by our side. We were thus proceeding
onward to the house of the minister, whose blessing was to make a couple
happy, and the arm of the blooming bride was through mine, when I heard
a voice, or rather let me say a sound, like the croak of a raven,
exclaim--

"Mercy on us! saw ye e'er the like o' that!--the best man, I'll declare,
has a black coat on!"

"An' that's no lucky!" replied another.

"Lucky!" responded the raven voice--"just perfectly awfu'! I wadna it
had happened at the weddin' o' a bairn o' mine for the king's
dominions."

I observed the bride steal a glance at my shoulder; I felt, or thought I
felt, as if she shrunk from my arm; and when I spoke to her, her speech
faltered. I found that my cousin, in avoiding one omen, had stumbled
upon another, in my black coat. I was wroth with the rural prophetess,
and turned round to behold her. Her little grey eyes, twinkling through
spectacles, were wink, winking upon my ill-fated coat. She was a crooked
(forgive me for saying an ugly), little, old woman; she was "bearded
like a pard," and walked with a crooked stick mounted with silver. (On
the very spot[L] where she then was, the last witch in Scotland was
burned.) I turned from the grinning sibyl with disgust.

 [L] The last person burned for witchcraft in Scotland was at
 Spot--the scene of our present story.

On the previous day, and during part of the night, the rain had fallen
heavily, and the Broxburn was swollen to the magnitude of a little
river. The manse lay on the opposite side of the burn, which was
generally crossed by the aid of stepping-stones, but on the day in
question the tops of the stones were barely visible. On crossing the
burn the foot of the bride slipped, and the bridegroom, in his eagerness
to assist her, slipped also--knee-deep in the water. The raven voice was
again heard--it was another omen.

The kitchen was the only room in the manse large enough to contain the
spectators assembled to witness the ceremony, which passed over smoothly
enough, save that, when the clergyman was about to join the hands of the
parties, I drew off the glove of the bride a second or two before the
bridesmaid performed a similar operation on the hand of the bridegroom.
I heard the whisper of the crooked old woman, and saw that the eyes of
the other women were upon me. I felt that I had committed another omen,
and almost resolved to renounce wearing "blacks" for the future. The
ceremony, however, was concluded; we returned from the manse, and
everything was forgotten, save mirth and music, till the hour arrived
for tea.

The bride's mother had boasted of her "daughter's double set o' real
china" during the afternoon; and the female part of the company
evidently felt anxious to examine the costly crockery. A young woman was
entering with a tray and the tea equipage--another, similarly laden,
followed behind her. The "sneck" of the door caught the handle of the
tray, and down went china, waiting-maid, and all! The fall startled her
companion--their feet became entangled--both embraced the floor, and the
china from both trays lay scattered around them in a thousand shapes and
sizes! This was an omen with a vengeance! I could not avoid stealing a
look at the sleeve of my black coat. The bearded old woman seemed
inspired. She declared the luck of the house was broken! Of the double
set of real china not a cup was left--not an odd saucer. The bridegroom
bore the misfortune as a man; and, gently drawing the head of his young
partner towards him, said--

"Never mind them, hinny--let them gang--we'll get mair."

The bride, poor thing, shed a tear; but the miller threw his arm round
her neck, stole a kiss, and she blushed and smiled.

It was evident, however, that every one of the company regarded this as
a real omen. The mill-loft was prepared for the joyous dance; but scarce
had the fantastic toes (some of them were not light ones) begun to move
through the mazy rounds, when the loft-floor broke down beneath the
bounding feet of the happy-hearted miller; for, unfortunately, he
considered not that his goodly body was heavier than his spirits. It was
omen upon omen--the work of breaking had begun--the "luck" of the young
couple was departed.

Three days after the wedding, one of the miller's carts was got in
readiness to carry home the bride's mother. On crossing the unlucky
burn, to which we have already alluded, the horse stumbled, fell, and
broke its knee, and had to be taken back, and another put in its place.

"Mair breakings!" exclaimed the now almost heart-broken old woman. "Oh,
dear sake! how will a' this end for my puir bairn!"

I remained with my new-found relatives about a week; and while there
the miller sent his boy for payment of an account of thirty pounds, he
having to make up money to pay a corn-factor at the Haddington market on
the following day. In the evening the boy returned.

"Weel, callant," inquired the miller, "hae ye gotten the siller?"

"No," replied the youth.

"Mercy me!" exclaimed my cousin, hastily, "hae ye no gotten the siller?
Wha did ye see, or what did they say?"

"I saw the wife," returned the boy; "an' she said--'Siller! laddie,
what's brought ye here for siller?--I daresay your maister's daft! Do ye
no ken we're broken! I'm sure a'body kens that we broke yesterday!'"

"The mischief break them!" exclaimed the miller, rising and walking
hurriedly across the room--"this is breaking in earnest."

I may not here particularize the breakings that followed. One misfortune
succeeded another, till the miller broke also. All that he had was put
under the hammer, and he wandered forth with his young wife a broken
man.

Some years afterwards, I met with him in a different part of the
country. He had the management of extensive flour mills. He was again
doing well, and had money in his master's hands. At last there seemed to
be an end of the breakings. We were sitting together when a third person
entered, with a rueful countenance.

"Willie," said he, with the tone of a speaking sepulchre, "hae ye heard
the news?"

"What news, now?" inquired the miller, seriously.

"The maister's broken!" rejoined the other.

"An' my fifty pounds?" responded my cousin, in a voice of horror.

"Are broken wi' him," returned the stranger. "Oh, gude gracious!" cried
the young wife, wringing her hands, "I'm sure I wish I were out o' this
world!--will ever thir breakings be done!--what tempted my mother to buy
me the cheena?"

"Or me to wear a black coat at your wedding," thought I.

A few weeks afterwards a letter arrived, announcing that death had
suddenly broken the thread of life of her aged father, and her mother
requested them to come and take charge of the farm which was now theirs.
They went. The old man had made money on the hills. They got the better
of the broken china and of my black coat. Fortune broke in upon them. My
cousin declared that omens were nonsense, and his wife added that she
"really thought there was naething in them. But it was lang an' mony a
day," she added, "or I could get your black coat and my mother's cheena
out o' my mind."

They began to prosper and they prosper still.


END OF VOLUME II.


_Tubbs, Brook, & Chrystal, Printers, Manchester._





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