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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume VI
Author: Leighton, Alexander, 1800-1874 [Editor], 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 VI" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

OF SCOTLAND, VOLUME VI***


Transcriber's note:

   In the THE ROTHESAY FISHERMAN, Charles' brother is referred
   to both as Harry and Henry on numerous occasions.



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. VI.



London:
Walter Scott, 14 Paternoster Square.
and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
1885.



CONTENTS.


                                                              Page

 THE GUIDWIFE OF COLDINGHAM,          (_John Mackay Wilson_),    1

 THE SURGEON'S TALES,                     (_Alex. Leighton_)--
        THE SOMNAMBULIST OF REDCLEUGH,                          22

 THE ROTHESAY FISHERMAN,               (_Oliver Richardson_),   47

 LEAVES FROM THE DIARY OF AN AGED SPINSTER,
                                      (_John Mackay Wilson_),   80

 GEORDIE WILLISON, AND THE HEIRESS OF CASTLE GOWER,
                                      (_Alexander Leighton_),   93

 THE SNOW STORM OF 1825,              (_Alexander Campbell_),  117

 GUILTY, OR NOT GUILTY,                            (_Anon._),  149

 THE SERGEANT'S TALES,                       (_John Howell_)--
        THE PALANTINES,                                        181

 THE PARSONAGE: MY FATHER'S FIRESIDE, (_Alexander Peterkin_),  213

 THE SEERS' CAVE,              (_William Hethrington, D.D._),  245

 THE LAIDLEY WORM OF SPINDLESTON HEUGH,
                                      (_John Mackay Wilson_),  260

 THE SABBATH WRECKS,                  (_John Mackay Wilson_),  276



 WILSON'S
 TALES OF THE BORDERS,
 AND OF SCOTLAND.


 THE GUIDWIFE OF COLDINGHAM;
 OR,
 THE SURPRISE OF FAST CASTLE.


Near where St. Abb stretches, in massive strength, into the sea, still
terrible, even in ruins, may be seen the remains of Fast Castle, one
of the most interesting in its history--as it is the most fearfully
romantic in its situation--of all the mouldering strongholds which are
still to be traced among the Borders, like monuments of war, crumbling
into nothingness beneath the silent but destroying touch of time. After
the death of the bluff Harry the Eighth of England, who had long kept
many of the corruptible amongst the Scottish nobility and gentry in his
pay, the ambitious Somerset, succeeding to the office of guardian of the
young king, speedily, under the name of Protector, acquired an authority
nothing inferior to the power of an absolute monarch. He had not long
held the reins of government when he rendered it evident, that it was a
part of his ambition to subdue Scotland, or the better portion of it,
into a mere province of England.

The then governor of Scotland, Hamilton, Earl of Arran, (for Queen Mary
was but a child,) was not ignorant of the designs of Somerset, and every
preparation was made to repel him on his crossing the Borders. It was
drawing towards evening on the first of September, 1547, when the
Protector, at the head of an army of eighteen thousand men, arrived
at Berwick; and nearly at the same instant, while the gloaming yet lay
light and thin upon the sea, a fleet, consisting of thirty-four vessels
of war, thirty transports, and a galley, were observed sailing round
Emmanuel's head--the most eastern point of Holy Island. On the moment
that the fleet was perceived, St. Abb's lighted up its fires, throwing a
long line of light along the darkening sea, from the black shore to the
far horizon: and scarce had the first flame of its alarm-fire waved in
the wind, till the Dow Hill repeated the fiery signal; and, in a few
minutes, Domilaw, Dumprender, and Arthur's Seat, exhibited tops of fire
as the night fell down on them, bearing the tidings, as if lightnings
flying on different courses revealed them, through Berwickshire and the
Lothians, and enabling Roxburghshire and Fife to read the tale; while
Binning's Craig, repeating the telegraphic fire, startled the burghers
of Linlithgow on the one hand, and on the other aroused the men of
Lanarkshire.

Before, therefore, the vessels had arrived in the bay, or the
Protector's army had encamped in the Magdalen Fields around
Berwick--Berwickshire, Roxburgh, the Lothians, Fife, and Lanark were
in arms. The cry from the hills and in the glens was, "The enemy is
come--the English--to arms!" The shepherd drove his flocks to the
inaccessible places in the mountains; he threw down his crook and
grasped his spear.

At the same time that Somerset crossed the Borders on the east, the Earl
of Lennox, who, from disappointed ambition, had proved false to his
country, entered it at the head of another English army to the west.

But I mean not to write a history of Somerset's invasion--of the
plausible proposals which he made, and which were rejected--nor of the
advantages which the Scots, through recklessness or want of discipline,
flung away, and of the disasters which followed. All the places of
strength upon the Borders fell into his hands, and he garrisoned them
from his army and set governors over them. The first place of his attack
was Fast Castle; in which, after taking possession of it, he left a
governor and strong garrison, composed of English troops and foreign
mercenaries, causing also the people around, for their own safety, to
take to him an oath of fealty, renouncing their allegiance to the young
queen. But while there were many who obeyed his command with reluctance,
there were others who chose rather to endanger or forfeit their lives
and property than comply with it. It had not, however, been two years
in the hands of the English, when, by a daring and desperate act of
courage, it was wrested from them.

A decree went forth from the English governor of the castle, commanding
them to bring into it, from time to time, all necessary provisions
for the use of the garrison, for which they should receive broad money
in return; for Somerset and his chief officers--the Lord Grey and
others--had caused it to be published, that they considered the
inhabitants of that part of Scotland as the subjects of young Edward, in
common with themselves, and not as a people with whom they were at war,
or from whom their soldiers might collect provisions and pay them with
the sword.

The English, indeed, paid liberally for whatsoever they received;
and there was policy in their so doing, for there were not a few who
preferred lucre to their country, and the effigy of a prince upon a
coin to allegiance to their lawful monarch. But, while such obeyed
with alacrity the command of the governor of Fast Castle, to bring
provisions to his garrison, there were many others who acquiesced in it
reluctantly, and only obeyed from the consciousness that disobedience
would be the price of their lives.

At this period there dwelt in Coldingham a widow, named Madge Gordon.
She was a tall and powerful woman, and her years might be a little below
fifty. Daily she indulged in invectives against the English, and spoke
contemptuously of the spirit of her countrymen in submitting to the
mandate of the governor of Fast Castle. She had two cows and more than a
score of poultry; but she declared that she would spill the milk of the
one upon the ground every day, and throw the eggs of the other over the
cliffs, rather than that either the one or the other should be taken
through the gates of the castle while an English garrison held it.

Often, therefore, as Madge beheld her neighbours carrying their baskets
on their arms, their creels or sacks upon their backs, or driving their
horses, laden with provisions, towards the castle, her wrath would rise
against them, and she was wont to exclaim--

"O ye slaves!--ye base loun-hearted beasts o' burden! hoo lang will ye
boo before the hand that strikes ye, or kiss the foot that tramples on
ye? Throw doun the provisions, and gang hame and bring what they better
deserve; for, if ye will gie them bread, feed them on the point o' yer
faithers' spears."

Some laughed as Madge spoke; but her words sank deep into the hearts of
others; and a few answered--

"Ye are as daft as ever, Madge; but a haveral woman's tongue is nae
scandal, and ye ken that the governor winna tak cognizance o' ye."

"Me ken or care for him, ye spiritless coofs, ye!" she replied; "gae
tell him that Madge Gordon defies him and a' his men, as she despises
you, and wad shake the dirt frae her shoon at baith the ane and the
other o' ye. Shame fa' ye, ye degenerate, mongrel race! for, if ye had
ae drap o' the bluid o' the men in yer veins wha bled wi' Wallace and
wi' Bruce, before the sun gaed doun, the flag o' bonny Scotland wad wave
frae the castle towers."

"Mother! mother!" said an interesting-looking girl of nineteen, who
had come to the door as the voice of Madge waxed louder and more
bitter--"dinna talk foolishly--ye will bring us a' into trouble."

"Trouble! ye silly lassie, ye!" rejoined Madge; "these are times indeed
to talk o' the like o' us being brought into trouble, when our puir
bluiding country is groaning beneath the yoke o' an enemy, and we see
them harrying us not only oot o' hoose and ha', but even those that
should be our protectors oot o' their manhood! See," added she, "do ye
see wha yon is, skulking as far as he can get frae our door wi' the
weel-filled sack upon his shouthers? It is yer ain dearie, Florence
Wilson! O the betrayer o' his country!--He's a coward, Janet, like the
rest o' them, and shall ne'er ca' ye his wife while I live to ca' ye
daughter."

"O mother!" added the maiden, in a low and agitated voice--"what could
poor Florence do? It isna wi' a man body as it is wi' the like o' us. If
he didna do as the lave do, he wad be informed against, and he maun obey
or die!"

"Let him die, then, as a man, as a Scotchman!" said the stern guidwife
of Coldingham.

Florence Wilson, of whom Madge had spoken, was a young man of three or
four and twenty, and who then held, as his fathers had done before him,
sheep lands under the house of Home. He was one of those who obeyed
reluctantly the command of the governor to bring provisions to the
garrison; and, until the day on which Madge beheld him with the sack
upon his shoulders, he had resisted doing so. But traitors had whispered
the tale of his stubbornness and discontent in the castle; and, in
order to save himself and his flocks, he that day took a part of his
substance to the garrison. He had long been the accepted of Janet
Gordon; and the troubles of the times alone prevented them, as the
phrase went, from "commencing house together." He well knew the fierce
and daring patriotism of his intended mother-in-law, and he took a
circuitous route, in order to avoid passing her door, laden with a
burden of provisions for the enemy. But, as has been told, she perceived
him.

In the evening, Florence paid his nightly visit to Janet.

"Out! out! ye traitor!" cried Madge, as she beheld him crossing her
threshold; "the shadow of a coward shall ne'er fall on my floor while I
hae a hand to prevent it."

"I'm nae coward, guidwife," retorted Florence indignantly.

"Nae coward!" she rejoined; "what are ye, then? Did not I, this very
day, wi' my ain een, behold ye skulking, and carrying provisions to the
enemy!"

"Ye might," said Florence; "but ae man canna tak a castle, nor drive
frae it five hundred enemies. Bide ye yet. Foolhardy courage isna
manhood; and, had mair prudence and caution, and less confidence, been
exercised by our army last year, we wouldna hae this day to mourn owre
the battle o' Pinkie. I tell ye, therefore, again, just bide ye yet."

"Come in, Florence," said Madge; "draw in a seat and sit doun, and tell
me what ye mean."

"Hoots, Florence," said Janet, in a tone partaking of reproach and
alarm, "are ye gaun to be as daft as my mother? What matters it to us
wha's king or wha's queen?--it will be lang or either the ane or the
ither o' them do onything for us. When ye see lords and gentry in the
pay o' England, and takin its part, what can the like o' you or my
mother do?"

"Do! ye chicken-hearted trembler at yer ain shadow!" interrupted Madge;
"though somewhat past its best, I hae an arm as strong and healthy as
the best o' them, and the blood that runs in it is as guid as the
proudest o' them."

Now, the maiden name of Madge was Home; and when her pride was touched,
it was her habit to run over the genealogical tree of her father's
family, which she could illustrate upon her fingers, beginning on all
occasions--"I am, and so is every Home in Berwickshire, descended frae
the Saxon kings o' England and the first Earls o' Northumberland." Thus
did she run on, tracing their descent from Crinan, chief of the Saxons
in the north of England, to Maldredus, his son, who married Algatha,
daughter of Uthred, prince of Northumberland, and grand-daughter of
Ethelrid, king of England; and from Maldredus to his son Cospatrick,
of whose power William the Conqueror became jealous, and who was,
therefore, forced to fly into Scotland in the year 1071, where Malcolm
Canmore bestowed on him the manor of Dunbar, and many baronies in
Berwickshire. Thus did she notice three other Cospatricks, famous and
mighty men in their day, each succeeding Cospatrick the son of his
predecessor; and after them a Waldreve, and a Patrick, whose son,
William, marrying his cousin, he obtained with her the lands of Home,
and, assuming the name, they became the founders of the clan. From the
offspring of the cousin, the male of whom took the name of Sir William
Home, and from him through eleven other successors, down to George,
the fourth Lord Home, who had fallen while repelling the invasion of
Somerset a few months before, did Madge trace the roots, shoots, and
branches of her family, carrying it back through a period of more than
six hundred years; and she glowed, therefore, with true aristocratic
indignation at the remark of her daughter to Florence--"What can the
like o' you or my mother do?" And she concluded her description of her
genealogical tree by saying--"Talk noo the like o' yer mother, hizzy!"

"Aweel, mother," said Janet, mildly--"that may a' be; but there is
nae cause for you fleeing into a tift upon the matter, for nae harm was
meant. I only dinna wish Florence to be putting his life in jeopardy for
neither end nor purpose. I'm sure I wish that oor nobility would keep to
their bargain, and allow the queen, though she is but a lassie yet, to
be married to young king Edward, and then we might hae peace in the
land, and ither folk would be married as weel as them."

"We shall be married, Janet, my doo," said Florence, gazing on her
tenderly--"only ye bide a wee."

Now, it must not be thought that Janet loved her country less than
did her mother or her betrothed husband; but, while the land of blue
mountains was dear to her heart, Florence Wilson was yet more dear; and
it was only because they were associated with thoughts of him that they
became as a living thing, as a voice and as music in her bosom. For,
whence comes our fondness for the woods, the mountains, the rivers
of nativity, but from the fond remembrances which their associations
conjure up, and the visions which they recall to the memory of those who
were dear to us, but who are now far from us, or with the dead? We may
have seen more stupendous mountains, nobler rivers, and more stately
woods--but they were not _ours_! They were not the mountains, the
rivers, and the woods, by which we played in childhood, formed first
friendships, or breathed love's tender tale in the ear of her who was
beautiful as the young moon or the evening star, which hung over us
like smiles of heaven; nor were they the fountains, the woods, and the
rivers, near which our kindred, the flesh of our flesh, and the bone of
our bone, SLEEP! But I digress.

"Tell me, Florence," said Madge, "what mean ye by 'bide a wee?' Is
there a concerted project amongst ony o' ye, an' are ye waiting for an
opportunity to carry it into effect?"

"No," answered he, "I canna say as how we hae devised ony practicable
scheme o' owrecoming our oppressors as yet; but there are hundreds o' us
ready to draw our swords an' strike, on the slightest chance o' success
offering--and the chance may come."

"An' amongst the hundreds o' hands ye speak o'," returned Madge, "is
there no a single head that can plot an' devise a plan to owrecome an'
drive our persecutors frae the castle?"

"I doot it--at least I hae ne'er heard ony feasible-like plan proposed,"
said Florence, sorrowfully.

Madge sat thoughtful for a few minutes, her chin resting on her hand. At
length she inquired--"When go ye back to sell provisions to them again?"

"This day week," was the reply.

"Then I shall tak my basket wi' eggs an' butter, an' gae wi' ye,"
answered Madge.

"O mother! what are ye sayin?" cried Janet. "Ye maun gang nae sic
gate. I ken yer temper would flare up the moment ye heard a word spoken
against Scotland, or a jibe broken on it; an' there is nae tellin' what
might be the consequence."

"Leave baith the action an' the consequence to me, Janet, my woman,"
said the patriotic mother; "as I brew, I will drink. But ye hae naething
to fear; I will be as mim in the castle as ye wad be if gieing Florence
yer hand in the kirk."

The day on which the people were again to carry provisions to the
garrison in Fast Castle arrived; and to the surprize of every one,
Madge, with a laden basket on each arm, mingled amongst them. Many
marvelled, and the more mercenary said--

"Ay, ay!--Madge likes to turn the penny as weel as ither folk. The
English will hae guid luck if ony o' them get a bargain oot o' her
baskets."

She, therefore, went to the castle, bearing provisions with the rest of
the peasantry; but, under pretence of disposing of her goods to the best
advantage, she went through and around the castle, and quitted it not
until she had ascertained where were its strongest, where its weakest
points of defence, and in what manner it was guarded.

When, therefore, Florence Wilson again visited her dwelling, she
addressed him, saying--

"Noo, I hae seen oor enemies i' the heart o' their strength; an' I hae
a word to say to ye that will try yer courage, and the courage o' the
hunders o' guid men an' true that ye hae spoken o' as only bidin' their
time to strike. Noo, is it yer opinion that, between Dunglass an'
Eyemouth, ye could gather a hundred men willing an' ready to draw the
sword for Scotland's right, an' to drive the invaders frae Fast Castle,
if a feasible plan were laid before them?"

"I hae nae doot o't," replied he.

"Doots winna do," said she; "will ye try it?"

"Yes," said he.

"Florence, ye _shall_ be my son," added she, taking his hand--"I see
there is spirit in ye yet."

"Mother," said Janet earnestly, "what dangerous errand is this ye wad
set him upon?--what do ye think it could matter to me wha was governor
o' Fast Castle, if Florence should meet his death in the attempt?"

"Wheesht! ye silly lassie, ye," replied her mother; "had I no borne ye,
I wad hae said that ye hadna a drap o' my bluid i' yer veins. What is't
that ye fear? If they'll abide by my counsel, though it may try their
courage, oor purpose shall be accomplished wi' but little scaith."

"Neither fret nor fear, dear," said Florence, addressing Janet; "I hae a
hand to defend my head, an' a guid sword to guard baith." Then turning
to her mother, he added--"An' what may be yer plan, that I may
communicate it to them that I ken to be zealous in oor country's cause?"

"Were I to tell ye noo," said she, "that ye might communicate it to
them, before we were ready to put it into execution, the story wad
spread frae the Tweed to John o' Groat's, and frae St. Abb's to the
Solway, and our designs be prevented. Na, lad, my scheme maun be laid
before a' the true men that can be gathered together at the same moment,
an' within a few hours o' its being put in execution. Do ye ken the dark
copse aboon Houndwood, where there is a narrow and crooked opening
through the tangled trees, but leading to a bit o' bonny green sward,
where a thousand men might encamp unobserved?"

"I do," answered Florence.

"And think ye that ye could assemble the hundred men ye speak o' there,
on this night fortnight?"

"I will try," replied he.

"Try, then," added she, "and I will meet ye there before the new moon
sink behind the Lammermoors."

It was a few days after this that Madge was summoned to the village of
Home, to attend the funeral of a relative; and while she was yet there,
the castle of her ancestors was daringly wrested from the hands of the
Protector's troops, by an aged kinsman of her own, and a handful of
armed men. The gallant deed fired her zeal more keenly, and strengthened
her resolution to wrest Fast Castle from the hands of the invaders. She
had been detained at Home until the day on which Florence Wilson was
to assemble the stout-hearted and trust-worthy in the copse above
Houndwood. Her kindred would have detained her longer; but she resisted
their entreaties, and took leave of them saying, that "her bit lassie,
Janet, would be growing irksome wi' being left alane, an' that, at ony
rate, she had business on hand that couldna be delayed."

She proceeded direct to the place of rendezvous, without going onwards
to her own house; and, as she drew near the narrow opening which led to
the green space in the centre of the dark copse, the young moon was
sinking behind the hills. As she drew cautiously forward she heard the
sound of voices, which gradually became audible.

"Well, Florence," said one, "what are ye waiting for? Where is the grand
project that ye was to lay before us?"

"Florence," said others, "let us proceed to business. It is gaun to be
very dark, and ye will remember we have to gang as far as the Peaths[A]
the night yet."

  [A] The Pease Bridge.

Florence answered as one perplexed, but in his wonted words--"Hae
patience--bide a wee;" and added, in a sort of soliloquy, but loud
enough to be overheard by his companions--"She promised to be here
before the moon gaed down upon the Lammermoors."

"Wha did?--wha promised to be here?" inquired half a dozen voices.

"I did!" cried Madge, proudly, as she issued from the narrow aperture in
the copse, and her tall figure was revealed by the fading moonbeams.
With a stately step, she walked into the midst of them, and gazed round
as though the blood and dignity of all the Homes had been centred in her
own person.

"Weel, Madge," inquired they, "and, since ye are come, for what hae ye
brought us here?"

"To try," added she, "whether, inheriting, as ye do, yer faithers'
bluid, ye also inherit their spirit--to see whether ye hae the manhood
to break the yoke o' yer oppressors, or if ye hae the courage to follow
the example which the men o' Home set ye the other nicht."

"What have they done?" inquired Florence.

"Hearken," said she, "ane and a' o' ye, and I will tell ye; for, wi' my
ain een, I beheld a sicht that was as joyfu' to me as the sight o' a
sealed pardon to a condemned criminal. Ye weel ken that, for near twa
years, the English have held Home Castle, just as they still hold Fast
Castle, beside us. Now, it was the other nicht, and just as the grey
gloam was darkening the towers, that an auld kinsman o' mine, o' the
name o' Home, scaled the walls where they were highest, strongest, and
least guarded; thirty gallant countrymen had accompanied him to their
foot, but before they could follow his example, he was perceived by a
sentinel, wha shouted out--'To arms!--to arms!' 'Cower, lads, cower!'
said my auld kinsman, in a sort o' half whisper, to his followers; and
he again descended the wall, and they lay down, with their swords in
their hands, behind some whin bushes at the foot o' the battlements.
There was running, clanking, and shouting through the castle for a time;
but, as naething like the presence o' an enemy was either seen or heard,
the sentry that had raised the alarm was laughed at, and some gaed back
to their beds, and others to their wine. But, after about two hours, and
when a'thing was again quiet, my kinsman and his followers climbed the
walls, and, rushing frae sentinel to sentinel, they owrecam ane after
anither before they could gie the alarm to the garrison in the castle;
and, bursting into it, shouted--'Hurra!--Scotland and Home for ever!'
Panic seized the garrison; some started frae their sleep--others reeled
frae their cups--some grasped their arms--others ran, they knew not
where--but terror struck the hearts o' ane and a'; and still, as the
cry, 'Scotland and Home for ever!' rang frae room to room, and was
echoed through the lang high galleries, it seemed like the shouting o'
a thousand men; and, within ten minutes, every man in the garrison was
made prisoner or put to the sword! And noo, neebors, what my kinsman
and a handfu' o' countrymen did for the deliverance o' the Castle o'
Home, can ye not do for Fast Castle, or will ye not--and so drive every
invader oot o' Berwickshire?"

"I dinna mean to say, Madge," answered one, who appeared to be the
most influential personage amongst her auditors--"I dinna mean to say
but that your relation and his comrades hae performed a most noble
and gallant exploit--one that renders them worthy o' being held in
everlasting remembrance by their countrymen--and glad would I be if we
could this night do the same for Fast Castle. But, woman, the thing is
impossible; the cases are not parallel. It mightna be a difficult matter
to scale the highest part o' the walls o' Home Castle, and ladders could
easily be got for that purpose; but, at Fast Castle, wi' the draw-brig
up, and the dark, deep, terrible chasm between you and the walls, like
the bottomless gulf between time and eternity!--I say, again, for my
part, the thing is impossible. Wha has strength o' head, even for a
moment, to look doun frae the dark and dizzy height o' the Wolf's
Crag?--and wha could think o' scaling it? Even if it had been possible,
the stoutest heart that ever beat in a bosom would, wi' the sickening
horror o' its owner's situation, before he was half-way up, be dead as
the rocks that would dash him to pieces as he fell! Na, na, I should hae
been glad to lend a helping and a willing hand to ony practicable plan,
but it would be madness to throw away our lives where there couldna be
the slightest possibility o' success."

"Listen," said Madge; "I ken what is possible, and what is impossible,
as weel as ony o' ye. I meant that ye should tak for example the
dauntless spirit o' my kinsman and the men o' Home, and no their manner
o' entering the castle. But, if yer hearts beat as their hearts did,
before this hour the morn's nicht, the invaders will be driven frae
Fast Castle. In the morning we are ordered to take provisions to the
garrison. I shall be wi' ye, and in the front o' ye. But, though my left
arm carries a basket, beneath my cloak shall be hidden the bit sword
which my guidman wore in the wars against King Harry; and, as I reach
the last sentinel--'Now, lads! now for Scotland and our Queen!' I shall
cry; and wha dare follow my example?"

"I dare! I will!" said Florence Wilson, "and be at yer side to strike
doun the sentinel; and sure am I that there isna a man here that winna
do or die, and drive oor enemies frae the castle, or leave his body
within its wa's for them to cast into the sea. Every man o' us, the
morn, will enter the castle wi' arms concealed about him, and hae them
ready to draw and strike at a moment's warning. Ye canny say, freends,
but that this is a feasible plan, and ye winna be outdone in bravery by
a woman. Do ye agree to it?"

There were cries of--"Yes, Florence, yes!--every man o' us!"--and "It
is an excellent plan--it is only a pity that it hadna been thocht o'
suner," resounded on all sides; but "Better late than never," said
others.

"Come round me, then," said Madge; and they formed a circle around
her. "Ye swear now," she continued, "in the presence o' Him who see'th
through the darkness o' night and searcheth the heart, that nane o' ye
will betray to oor enemies what we hae this nicht determined on; but
that every man o' ye will, the morn, though at the price o' his life, do
yer utmost to deliver oor groaning country frae the yoke o' its invaders
and oppressors! This ye swear?"

And they bowed their heads around her.

"Awa, then," added she, "ilka man to his ain hoose, and get his weapons
in readiness." And, leaving the copse, they proceeded in various
directions across the desolate moor. But Florence Wilson accompanied
Madge to her dwelling; and, as they went, she said--

"Florence, if ye act as weel the morn as ye hae spoken this nicht, the
morn shall my dochter, Janet, be yer wife, wi' a fu' purse for her
portion that neither o' ye kens aboot."

He pressed her hand in the fulness of his heart; but she added--

"Na, na, Florence, I'm no a person that cares aboot a fuss being made
for the sake o' gratitude--thank me wi' deeds. Remember I have said--a'
depends on yer conduct the morn."

When they entered the house, poor Janet was weeping, because of her
mother's absence, for she had expected her for two days; and her
apprehensions were not removed when she saw her in the company of
Florence, who, although her destined husband, and who, though he had
long been in the habit of visiting her daily, had called but once during
her mother's absence, and then he was sad and spoke little. She saw that
her parent had prevailed on him to undertake some desperate project, and
she wept for his sake.

When he arose to depart, she rose also and accompanied him to the door.

"Florence," said she, tenderly, "you and my mother hae some secret
between ye, which ye winna communicate to me."

"A' that is a secret between us," said he, "is, that she consents that
the morn ye shall be my winsome bride, if ye be willing, as I'm sure ye
are; and that is nae secret that I wad keep frae ye; but I didna wish to
put ye aboot by mentioning it before her."

Janet blushed, and again added--

"But there is something mair between ye than that, Florence, and why
should ye hide it frae me?"

"Dear me, hinny!" said he, "I wonder that ye should be sae apprehensive.
There is nae secret between yer mother an' me that isna weel-kenned to
every ane in the country-side. But just ye hae patience--bide a
wee--wait only till the morn; and, when I come to lead ye afore the
minister, I'll tell ye a'thing then."

"An' wherefore no tell me the noo, Florence?" said she. "I am sure that
there is something brewing, an' a dangerous something too. Daur ye no
trust me? Ye may think me a weak an' silly creature; but, if I am not
just so rash and outspoken as my mother, try me if I haena as stout a
heart when there is a necessity for showing it."

"Weel, Janet, dear," said Florence, "I winna conceal frae ye that there
is something brewing--but what that something is I am not at liberty
to tell. I am bound by an oath not to speak o't, and so are a hunder
others, as weel as me. But the morn it will be in my power to tell ye
a'. Noo, just be ye contented, and get ready for our wedding."

"And my mother kens," Janet was proceeding to say, when her mother's
voice was heard, crying from the house--

"Come in, Janet--what are ye doing oot there in the cauld?--ye hae been
lang enough wi' Florence the nicht--but the morn's nicht ye may speak to
him as lang as ye like. Sae come in, lassie."

As the reader may suppose, Madge was not one whose commands required to
be uttered twice; and, with a troubled heart, Janet bade Florence
"good-night," and returned to the cottage.

It was a little after sunrise on the following day, when a body of more
than a hundred peasantry, agreeably to the command of the governor,
appeared before the castle, laden with provisions. Some of them had the
stores which they had brought upon the backs of horses, but which they
placed upon their own shoulders as they approached the bridge. Amongst
them were fishermen from Eyemouth and Coldingham, shepherds from the
hills with slaughtered sheep, millers, and the cultivators of the
patches of arable ground beyond the moor. With them, also, were a few
women carrying eggs, butter, cheese, and poultry; and at the head of the
procession (for the narrowness of the drawbridge over the frightful
chasm, beyond which the castle stood, caused the company to assume the
form of a procession as they entered the walls) was Madge Gordon, and
her intended son-in-law, Florence Wilson.

The drawbridge had been let down to them; the last of the burden-bearers
had crossed it; and Madge had reached the farthest sentinel, when
suddenly dropping her basket, out from beneath her grey cloak gleamed
the sword of her dead husband!

"Now, lads!--now for Scotland and our Queen!" she exclaimed, and as she
spoke, the sword in her hand pierced the body of the sentinel. At the
same instant every man cast his burden to the ground, a hundred hidden
swords were revealed, and every sentinel was overpowered.

"Forward, lads! forward!" shouted Madge.

"Forward!" cried Florence Wilson, with his sword in his hand, leading
the way. They rushed into the interior of the castle; they divided into
bands. Some placed themselves before the arsenal where arms were kept,
while others rushed from room to room, making prisoners of those of the
garrison who yielded willingly, and showing no quarter to those who
resisted. Many sought safety in flight, some flying half-naked, aroused
from morning dreams after a night's carouse, and almost all fled without
weapons of defence. The effect upon the garrison was as if a thunderbolt
had burst in the midst of them. Within half an hour, Fast Castle was in
the hands of the peasantry, and the entire soldiery who had defended it
had either fled, were slain, or made prisoners.

Besides striking the first blow, Madge had not permitted the sword of
her late husband to remain idle in her hands during the conflict. And,
as the conquerors gathered round Florence Wilson, to acknowledge to him
that to his counsel, presence of mind, and courage, as their leader, in
the midst of the confusion that prevailed, they owed their victory, and
the deliverance of the east of Berwickshire from its invaders, Madge
pressed forward, and, presenting him her husband's sword, said--

"Tak this, my son, and keep it--it was the sword o' a brave man, and to
a brave man I gie it--and this night shall ye be my son indeed."

"Thank ye, mother--mother!" said Florence. And as he spoke a faint smile
crossed his features.

But scarce had he taken the sword in his hand, ere a voice was heard,
crying--

"Where is he?--where shall I find him?--does he live?--where is my
mother?"

"Here, love!--here! It is my Janet!" cried Florence; but his voice
seemed to fail him as he spoke.

"Come here, my bairn," cried her mother, "and in the presence of these
witnesses receive a hand that ye may be proud o'."

As part of the garrison fled through Coldingham, Janet had heard of
the surprise by which the castle had been taken, and ran towards it to
gather tidings of her mother and affianced husband; for she now knew the
secret which they would not reveal to her.

As she rushed forward, the crowd that surrounded Florence gave way,
and, as he moved forward to meet her, it was observed that he shook or
staggered as he went; but it was thought no more of; and when she fell
upon his bosom, and her mother took their hands and pressed them
together, the multitude burst into a shout and blessed them. He strove
to speak--he muttered the word "Janet!" but his arms fell from her neck,
and he sank as lifeless on the ground.

"Florence! my Florence!--he is wounded--murdered!" cried the maiden, and
she flung herself beside him on the ground.

Madge and the spectators endeavoured to raise him; but his eyes were
closed; and, as he gasped, they with difficulty could understand the
words he strove to utter--"Water--water!"

He had, indeed, been wounded--mortally wounded--but he spoke not of it.
They raised him in their arms and carried him to an apartment in the
castle; but, ere they reached it, the spirit of Florence Wilson had
fled.

Poor Janet clung to his lifeless body. She now
cried--"Florence!--Florence!--we shall be married
to-night?--yes!--yes!--I have everything ready!" And again she spoke
bitter words to her mother, and said that she had murdered her Florence.
The spectators lifted her from his body, and Madge stood as one on whom
affliction, in the midst of her triumph, had fallen as a palsy,
depriving her of speech and action.

"My poor bereaved bairn!" she at length exclaimed; and she took her
daughter in her arms and kissed her--"ye hae indeed cause to mourn,
for Florence was a noble lad!--but, oh, dinna say it was my doing,
hinny!--dinna wyte yer mother!--will ye no, Janet? It is a great comfort
that Florence has died like a hero."

But Janet never was herself again. She became, as their neighbours
said, a poor, melancholy, maundering creature, going about talking of
her Florence and the surprise of Fast Castle, and ever ending her
story--"But I maun awa hame and get ready, for Florence and I are to be
married the nicht."

Madge followed her, mourning, wheresoever she went, bearing with and
soothing all her humours. But she had not long to bear them; for, within
two years, Janet was laid by the side of Florence Wilson, in Coldingham
kirkyard; and, before another winter howled over their peaceful graves,
Madge lay at rest beside them.



THE SURGEON'S TALES.

THE SOMNAMBULIST OF REDCLEUGH.


It is now many years since I visited a patient, at the distance of some
sixty miles from the proper circuit of my practice. On one occasion,
when with him, I received a letter from a gentleman, who subscribed
himself as one of the trustees of Mr. Bernard[B] of Redcleugh,
requesting me to visit, on my return home, the widow of that gentleman,
who still resided in the old mansion, and whose mind had received a
shock from some domestic affliction, any allusion to which was, for some
reason, very specially reserved. I may remark, that I believe I owed
this application to some opinions I was known to entertain on the
subject of that species of insanity produced by moral causes, and which
is to be carefully distinguished from the diathetic mania, so often
accompanied by pathological changes in the brain. It is scarcely
necessary to inform the reader, that we have always a better chance for
a cure in the one case than in the other, insomuch indeed as, in the
first, we have merely functional derangement; in the second, organic
change. I always maintain there is no interest about insane people,
except to the man of science; and even he very soon gets to that "ass's
bridge," on the other side of which Nature, as the genius of occult
things, stands with a satirical smile on her face, as she sees the proud
savans toppling over into the Lethe of sheer ignorance, and getting
drowned for their insane curiosity. In the asylum in France, mentioned
by De Vayer, the inmates enjoyed exceedingly the imputed madness of the
visiting physician. The same play is acted in the world all throughout.
Our insanity has only a little more method in it--and while I avoid any
description of the madness of Mrs. Bernard, I will have to set forth a
story, which, leading to that madness, has in it apparently as much of
insanity as may be found in the ravings of a maniac.

  [B] I find it more convenient, in this tale, to give names to
  my personages, in place of initials.

I obeyed the call to Redcleugh, where I found the _res domi_ in a
peculiar position. There were few inmates in the large old house.
Besides the invalid herself, there was an old cook and a butler, by name
Francis, who had been in the family for many years, and whose garrulity
was supplied from an inexhaustible fountain--the fate and fortunes of
the Bernards. My patient was a lovely woman in body--a maniac in mind.
Her affliction had suddenly shot up into her brain, and left untouched
the lineaments of her beauty, excepting the expression of the eye, which
had become nervous and furtive, oscillating between the extreme of
softness and the intensity of ferocity. Having been cautioned by Francis
to make no allusion to her husband or to certain children, whom he
named, or to the word "book," and many other things, I contented myself,
in the first instance, with a general examination of her symptoms; and,
as it was late before I arrived, I resolved upon remaining all night,
which would enable me to see her again in the morning. I had supper
served up to me by Francis, who brought me some wine which had been in
the house for fifty years, and told me stories of the family, extending
back twice that period. Sometimes these old legends would be interrupted
for a moment by a shrill cry, coming from a source which we both knew.
All else in this house was under the spell of Angerana, the genius of
silence. There is something peculiar in the sound of a common voice in
a large house, filled with memorials of those who had lived in it, and
yet with no living sounds to break the dull heavy air, which seems to
thicken by not being moved. It appeared as if I had been suddenly thrown
into a region of romance, but my experiences were not pleasant. I wished
to escape to my own professional thoughts again, and desired to go to
bed.

I was accordingly, not without some efforts on the part of my
entertainer to prolong his stories, ushered into my bed-room--a large
apartment, hung with pictures, some very old, and some very new. Francis
put the candle down, and left me. It was not long before I was undressed
and under the bed-clothes; but not being sure about sleeping, I left the
candle burning, intending to rise and extinguish it when I found myself
more inclined to fall over into the rest I required. The old legends
began to pass through my mind, and I was engrossed with the spirit of
the past. Time makes poetry out of very common things, and then we are
to remember, what we do not often think of, that the most ordinary life
cannot be passed without encountering some incidents which smack of the
romantic. Nay, every man's life, as a bright gleam thrown on the dark
abyss which separates him from eternity, is all through a romance, in
the midst of that greater one, seen by us only as shadows--the negatives
of some positives, perhaps, witnessed by eyes on the other side. I
have always been tinged by something of the spirit of old Bruno,
that dreamer, whose most real realities were no other than umbery
forms--flakes of shadow--cast off by a central light from the real
objects, of which we are the mere shadowy representatives. All the
breathing, throbbing, active beings, who for two hundred years had run
along these narrow passages of the old house, and peered into half-open
doors, or out of the small skew-topped windows--danced, sang, laughed
and wept--died, and been carried out--were to each other as such umbery
things; and I, the present subsisting shadow, received them all into my
living microcosm, where, as in a mirror, they existed again, scarcely
less shadowy than before.

Somehow or another I could not get to sleep; not that I had any fears:
these were out of the question with me. My vigils were attributable to
a fancy, wrought upon by the recitals of the old butler, illustrated
by the very concrete things which had been used by the personages he
described. There were the chairs they sat on, the beds they slept on,
the piano they played on, all as they had been left. It was impossible
for me to conceive that there was yet no connection between these things
and the old family. The pictures, too, were still there, in the various
rooms, some of them in my bed-room. The light of my eyes seemed to have
disenchanted these silent staring personages. They came forth and
occupied themselves as they had been wont before they became pictures.
The chair of the first of the late Mr. Bernard's two wives--that "angel
whose look was an eternal smile," as Francis poetically described
her--appeared to have the power of drawing her down into it; but then
the attraction was not less for the second wife, "whose fate was a
terrible mystery;" and thus would I get confused. Then, to which of
these did the little dark fellow on the south wall belong--he who seemed
to have been scorched by too strong a sun--and the girl beside them, who
looked as if she had been blanched by too bright a moon--which of the
two was her mother?

At last I got out of bed, and rummaged for some stray volume to
disenchant me out of the imaginary world of these Bernards. I drew out
one or two drawers, which had been so long shut that they had lost their
allegiance to the hand. I peered into an escritoire, and another old
cabinet, which creaked and groaned at being disturbed by a hand not a
Bernard's. All was empty. There was one drawer which refused to come
out to the full extent. Something seemed to be jammed between it and
the back of the escritoire. Man is an enterprising animal; a little
resistance sets his energies a-spring. I would not be baulked. I
would know what the impediment was and work out the solution of the
difficulty. By pulling hard the obstacle gave way. The drawer followed
my hand, while my body fell back on the floor. Psha! some stray leaves
of an old pamphlet fluttered about. I had dismembered the obstacle, and
would now collect the fragments. I had got for my pains an old brochure,
embellished by dreadful woodcuts, of the old Newgate calender style, and
entitled, "The true and genuine history of the murderer, Jane Grierson,
who poisoned her mistress, and thereby became the wife of her master,
Josiah Temple;" the date 1742. I was no fancier of awful histories of
murderers, yet I would read myself asleep amidst horrors rather than
lie with my imagination in wakeful subjugation to the images of these
eternal Bernards. Bernard still! on the top of the title page was
written "Amelia Bernard." The charm was here too. Which of these fair
creatures on the wall was the proprietor of this brochure? She had read
it surely with care. She must have cherished it, or why identify it as
her own? Perhaps she was a lover of old books; it could not be that she
was a lover of cruel stories. Those eyes were made for throwing forth
the lambent light of affection and love; how unlike to the staring
blood-shot orbs of that Jane Grierson on that terrific woodcut! Yet,
true to the nature of my species, at least my sex, I found in the grim
pamphlet that inexpressible something which recommends coarse recitals
of human depravity even to cultivated minds, and which consists probably
in the conformity between the thing itself and the description of it;
the rugged words, semblances of the rugged implements, and the savage
actions of cruelty, address themselves to the latent barbarism which
lies as the lowest stratum of our many piled nature, and receive the
savage response at the moment we blush for humanity. These dire images
of the murderer's story were stronger than those of the Bernards--even
of those lovely faces on the wall--and as the candle burned down, and
the red wick grew up, I read and read on, how the cruel fiend did
destroy while she fawned upon her victim; how that victim, overcome by
the kindness of her enemy, praised her to her husband, who loved his
wife to distraction; and how she, even in her devoted gratitude,
recommended her murderer as her successor to the bed she lay on, and to
those arms where she so often had enjoyed the pressure of his love. Nor
was the recommendation ineffectual, for the said wicked Jane did become
the wife of her victim's husband. The old horrid savagery of our
criminal literature!--not yet abated--never to be abated--only glossed
with tropes and figures more hideous than the plain narrative of blood.

It was a vain thought that I should read myself asleep among the
terrible images suggested by my brochure. I was even more vigilant than
before. Then, that Francis seemed never at rest; I heard him clambering
up stairs, tramping along passages, shutting doors, speaking to himself,
just as if all the actions of his prior life were being gone over again.
I would have another visit, and another long narrative of some Bernard,
whose picture was somewhere in a red or blue room, and who had been, as
usual, with all those bearded individuals who hung on walls, either at
the crusades under Peter the hermit, or at Flodden under James, or at
Culloden under Charles. The clock struck, with a sound of grating rust,
two; and--tramp, tramp--he trudged along the passage. The door opened,
and in came my chronicler.

"Doctor, I saw your light," said he, "and you know it was always my
duty, when the family were in their old home here, to see that all the
lights were out o' nights; aye ever after the east wing was burned down,
through aunt Marjory's love of reading old romances. I hope I did not
disturb you."

"No," replied I; "pray, Francis, I need not ask which of these two
pictured beauties is Amelia, my patient? The likeness is good."

"Yes, there she is," said he, with a return of his old enthusiasm. "See
her light locks and her blue eyes. She was the mother of that fair
child. Don't you see the daughter in the mother and the mother in the
daughter? But I cannot look long on these pictures. My heart fails and
my head runs round. Look at the dark one. It was a terrible night that
when she came to Redcleugh. My wife, who now lies in Deathscroft, down
among the elms yonder, could not sleep for the screeching of the owls,
as if every horned devil of them shouted woe! woe!--to the house of
Redcleugh."

"Nonsense, Francis, omens--all nonsense," I said, interrupting him.

"So said I to Christy, just as you say, doctor. So say we all, every one
of us, here and everywhere, always, just until we are pulled up at a
jerk by some one of God's acts, when we see His finger pointed to the
sign. You are not so old as I am, and have something to learn. Signs are
made only when there are to be judgments, and judgments are not
according to the common ways of heaven."

"What did Mr. Bernard do," asked I, "to bring upon him this judgment
which appears to you to have been so fearful?"

"I am not in the secrets of God's ways with erring man," replied he.
"But who can tell how my master got Lillah--that's her there with these
dark eyes--his first wife? He had been away for years in the eastern
countries, and he never wrote to any one that he was to bring a wife
with him. He brought her, amidst the storm of that fearful night, as if
she had been a bird which he had rescued from the blast, so cowering and
timid did she appear, always clinging to the laird, and looking at him
with such beseeching eyes, and so unlike the women of our land--aye, for
it was no northern sun lighted up these eyes; and as for a heathen faith
imparting such gentleness, we could understand it no way. 'Twas all a
hurry in Redcleugh as well as a sort of fright among us in the hall,
every one whispering and wondering and questioning all to no end; for
from that night we never knew more of her home or kindred, save that it
was suspected she was a Circassian, and had left a noble home for the
love she bore to master. Nor was she ever inquired after by her friends,
except once, when a great eastern lord, as they said, came in a strange
equipage to see her; but her change to a Christian shocked and angered
him, so that high words rose and even reached our ears. He spoke of the
faith she had forsworn, of Allah, and Mahomet, and the Koran, and she
with tears responded Christ, the Saviour of all mankind, and his holy
mother, and the cross of Calvary, so that he was made more angry; and
then he spoke of Euphrosyne, her mother, as we thought, and again the
tears rolled down these cheeks, as she clung to master and lay upon his
neck, sobbing as if her heart would burst in the battle between the
daughter and the wife. The stranger departed in anger, nor did he break
his fast at Redcleugh, and many a day afterwards my young lady was in
tears. 'Twas not long till she had that boy, whom she bore after many
days of labour, with such pain that there was not a servant in the
household did not look as if her own salvation depended upon the issue
of that protracted struggle, so beloved was she, sir; so respected, so
adored, so pitied; and as for Mr. Bernard, he was not himself--scarcely
a man--and little wonder either, for his face was ever the attraction
of her eyes, and every look seemed to be watched by her as if all her
happiness hung upon one of his smiles. Such doings were the wonder of us
all in these parts; for you know we are rougher lovers in our cold land,
and neither Christy, nor I, nor any of us, could understand how, on the
face of this earth, there could be such affection--not a single drop of
bitterness, not a ruffle on the smooth surface. Why, sir! did we not
all, to satisfy our self-love, and our country's custom, call it very
idolatry; but it was only a little envy which we, as it were, stole to
ourselves, as a sweet unction to our sores, and when these were mended
we loved her the more--nay, we could do nothing less; for even the
devil's spleen couldn't detect an unevenness to hang upon it a suspicion
against her."

"You are even more partial, Francis, than the painter," said I, "whom I
have been charging with the fault of drawing upon his fancy to enable
him to draw upon our credulity. She looks scarcely earthly."

"It's no use my description, sir. There are certain perfections
we cannot attribute to God's creatures, because we suffer by the
comparison. They say if there's not now and then a little anger there's
a want. Oh! they will say God's image is not perfect if it have not a
dash of our own evil in it. But experience is the mother of wonders as
well as wisdom. Aye, sir, years of intercourse, even at a servant's
distance, are worth more than your theories in these days."

"I suspect you have been in the library, Francis," said I; "you have
opened books as well as bottles."

"Aye, sir, and _the book_ of all books," replied he seriously; "but I
hope I am not irreverend when I say that God may lead us to understand
the first image in Eden by showing us sometimes something better here
than what we can feel within our own hearts."

"Oh, I am not sceptical," said I; for I thought he was pained by my
remark, as if I doubted the qualities of his idol. "I believe all you
have said of poor Lillah; and I love for the sake of my own matrimonial
hopes to believe it, and more. But this idol died!"

"And died young, sir; perhaps because she was an idol," replied he.
"They don't live long, sir, these creatures. They're like some of those
bright winged things of the East, of which I have read, that exist only
so long as the rose blooms on which they hang and live. But my lady
Lillah never dwined--only there came a sadness over her, and master
noticed that she began to cherish more than usual a miniature which she
carried about with her in her bosom--the figure of a lady--I have seen
it often--so like herself you'd have said they were of the same
family--'twas her mother, whom she called Euphrosyne. Even now I think I
see her sitting in the rose arbour in the garden, with little Caleb by
her side, gazing at that picture, so long, so thoughtfully, so pitifully
that she seemed ready to weep; then she would, as if recalled by
remorse, hug the child, and bid him run for his father; then Mr. Bernard
would no sooner come than she would be so much more loving than was even
her wont, that he seemed oppressed by the very fervour of her affection.
Master was a quiet man, sir, and full of thought; and he soon saw that
it would be good for my lady that she should have a companion. So the
next thing we heard was that Amelia Temple, who had been governess over
the muir at Abbey Field, and had been several times at Redcleugh with
Mr. Orchardstoun's daughters, was engaged to come to us at the term. And
she came. The wind did not whistle that night, nor the owl sound his
horn; there was no omen, sir, and this will please you, though it does
not shake me in my faith in heaven's warnings. You see Amelia there
(holding up the candle, now nearly in the socket), I need not describe
what the painter has copied so faithfully. But master did not look
kindly on that face, beautiful as it is, with that flashing eye and
joyful expression. No, 'twas not till my lady grew distractedly fond of
her that he looked sweetly on her (in the right way) for the love she
gave to and got from her he loved the best of all the world. Oh! 'twas a
beautiful sight, sir, those women. The rose of the west was a match for
the lily of the east; then the pensive sweetness of the one, and the
innocent light-heartedness of the other, met and mingled in a friendship
without guile--a love without envy."

"Your last visit, Francis," I said, with a smile which I could not
conceal, "must have been to the poets of the library."

"'Tis only truth, sir," resumed he. "When one sees a beautiful thing
and feels the beauty--a privilege which is probably never denied at all
times to any of God's creatures, and does not belong exclusively to the
high born or the learned--he is a poet, be he a gauger or a butler. Aye,
sir, a man may be a poet when his nose is right over the mouth of a
bottle of burgundy, vintage '81."

"And not very poetical when he reflects that there is not a bottle left
in the house," said I.

"He has still 'the pleasures of hope,'" rejoined Francis, with a little
newborn moisture on his dry lips.

"Well," rejoined I, as I began to yawn from pure want of sleep, "there
is at least little of either poetry or pleasure in 'hope deferred.' We
will moisten these dry legends of the Bernards by a little of that
burgundy of theirs now."

And this chronicler of the Bernards, as well as of something better than
small beer, soon handed me a large glassful of this prince of wines.

"You will require all the benefit of that, sir," said he, "if I am to go
on with my story."

"I'm not afraid," said I, listlessly, "after what I have read of the
Grierson horrors."

The old man turned upon me a strange, wild look, rendered grotesque, if
not ludicrous, by the effect of the glassful he had at that moment taken
at my request. "Ah! you have heard--yet surely it is impossible. Was it
not all between me and master? Who other could know of it? And the book!
Oh, it was never found."

"I know nothing of these mysteries," replied I, not really understanding
him, yet amazed at his appearance, as with long grey locks, shaking by
his excitement, he kept staring at me in the dim light--for the candle
was now out, and the fire burned red and dull. A little more conjuring
would have brought all these pictures out into the room, and even as it
was, I was beginning to transform my companion's shadow, as it lay on
the arm chair behind him, into the very person itself of Lillah Bernard.

"Doctor," he said, gravely, "you must know the dark secret of this
apartment."

"Nothing," replied I. "Go on; you have roused my curiosity. I know
nothing of the Bernard's but what you have told me, and I request to
know more. Go on, Francis."

He was not satisfied; continued to search, so far as he could, my face;
but I wore him out.

"It's no use denying it, sir," he at length said, "but take your own
way now;" then heaving a deep sigh, which might have been heard at the
farthest end of the large room, so silent was all, he went on: "'Twas
not to last, sir, all that happiness among those three, and little Caleb
was the centre by which they were all joined. There's an enemy abroad to
such heart-unions--unseen by all but God, who views him with the eye of
anger, but lets him have his way for a season, and why we know it. Such
little Edens grow up here and there among roses, as if to remind us of
the one paradise which has gone, and to make us hope for the other which
is to come; the old tragedy is wrought within a circuit of a few feet
and the reach of a few hearts. Oh! the old fiend triumphs with the old
laugh on his dark cheek. Yes, sir, it is even so; there is nothing new
with the devil, nor nothing old, nor will there be till his neck is
fastened; but in this meanwhile of days and years of time, oh! how the
soul pants as it looks through the clouds of sorrow which rise under his
dark wing, and can see no light, save through the deep grave where lie
those once beautiful things in corruption. 'Twas the beauty did it all,
sir; the enemy cannot stand that loveliness; it makes him wild; he raves
to get between the hearts and tear them so that the sanctified temples
shall have no incense in them--nothing save the heavy odours of carrion.
My lady Lillah one day felt a drowsiness come over her; it seemed, as
Christy said, she felt only as if she had been inclined to sleep at an
unusual time; she made no complaint, but Mr. Bernard observed something
in her eye, and his watchfulness took alarm at every turn of her quiet
manner. The drowsiness increased, and then it was observed that her
pulse was slow and languid; it seemed to beat with fewer pulses every
hour, and then master became more alarmed, and Amelia could not be away
from her an instant. 'Twas strange the change which all of a sudden took
place in Miss Temple; the gay laugh which Mr. Bernard used to encourage
as a welcome light thrown on the soul of his wife was no more heard; a
pitiful sympathy took its place, and, as Christy described it, looked
like the light which we see so beautiful in the thin haze when the sun
seems to melt all through it; it was the spirit of love, sir, dissolved
in the shadows of grief. She hung over our dear lady as if she would
have poured her own spirit into her to raise the still ebbing pulses.
Nothing would stop that ebbing; the pulse would beat a little stronger
after something given to her, but never quicker. Then these long silken
eyelashes fell farther and farther down, and the voice which had ever
been all meekness, fell and fell into half whispers. At length she said
something into master's ear; and he motioned to Miss Temple to go out
for a little, but Christy remained. It was an awful moment, sir, when
she made a sign that she would speak. 'Dear Edward,' she said, as she
seemed to try to lift higher the drooping lids, 'I will never more see
the beautiful valley of the Kabarda, where stands my father's castle,
with its gardens and roses of Shiraz. Oh, strange it seems to me, as all
the things about me grow dim, the vision of those beloved scenes of my
childhood wax brighter and brighter. I hear my father's voice crying
Euphrosyne, and my mother's Lillah; my brothers and sisters take up the
cry, and the mountaineers salute the favourite daughter of their chief.
But she is here in this far land, and you, my best beloved, are there
before her. Edward, I am going to die--soon--soon. I wished the dear
Amelia away for a little--only a little--to be here again, and never to
go more. She is faithful and loving and true. Edward; listen, my love:
when I am gone, and you can forget me, take that dear girl into that
place where you treasured me--into your affections, as your wife,
Edward. The thought pleases me, for I think you will in her marry
happiness, and my life seems to ebb away in the hope that you may be
with her as you have been with me. Farewell; bring Caleb to kiss me
before I go. There is a voice in my ears; it is Allah! Allah! but it is
not listened to by the heart which whispers Jesus! the Mediator! the
Saviour!'

"And with these words in her lips she died. O, sir, had you seen
master--it was pitiful; and as for Amelia, who knew nothing of Lillah's
words, she kept weeping till her eyes were inflamed. But the grief was
everywhere throughout Redcleugh. It seemed as if some dreadful fate had
befallen the whole household; gloom--gloom and sadness all about--in
every face--in every heart; for never was a daughter of Scotland
beloved as was this dear lady of the far east; and I think somehow
it was her having died so far away from the land of her kindred that
softened the hearts of the people, and made them take on as I never saw
servants take on for a mistress. 'Twould be a sharp eye, sir, that could
distinguish now, in the vault of death's croft, the grey ashes of the
beautiful Circassian from the dust of the Bernards--ay, or that of my
poor Christian Dempster! It was now a long dark night to the house of
Redcleugh, but the longest night is at last awakened by a sun in the
morning. Mr. Bernard--always a moody man--scarcely opened his mouth for
months and months. He was like a tree, that stands erect after being
blasted--it may move by the winds, but the sun has no warmth for it, and
there is nothing inside or at the root to give it life. They say that
when a beloved wife dies, it is to the husband like the sun going away
out of the firmament, and that by-and-by she appears as a pale moon. Ay,
sir; everything here is full of change. Mr. Bernard's moon had no waning
in it, till he began to catch the echoes of Miss Amelia's voice as he
wandered among the woods. It was the grey dawn of another sun, and the
sun rose and rose, promising to gild the east again with its glory. The
long burden was taken off Amelia. Her laugh began again to enliven
Redcleugh, when she saw that Mr. Bernard was able to bear it. Then,
sir, to bear it was to begin to love it, for it was the most infectious
joyfulness that ever gladdened man's ears. The change, once begun, went
on; he hung upon her voice as if it had been music. Every laugh shook
him out of his long misery--it appeared to be to him like new life
running along the nerves of the old dead tabernacle. So might one think
of a man in the desert, as he looks down into the well, with the
reflection of the sun in it; the water is drunk in living light; he
shakes off all the horrors of his long-borne thirst, and rises renewed
and glad. It was pitiful--yea, it was pleasant too--to see how he
followed her, gazed at her, listened to her, just as if he were always
praying her, for mercy's sake, to give him some more of that medicine
of his spirit. But, perhaps, he never would have thought of marrying
Amelia, but for the parting words of Lillah. Christy, in her curious
way, said that it was Lillah's moon that lighted him on to the rising of
the new sun of Amelia; and as Christy wanted this new match, for the
sake of saving, as she thought, the life of our master--it was strange
enough that she saw no omens now save good ones; for was it not a good
one, that every living thing about Redcleugh looked as joyful as Amelia
herself? A wonderful work this world, sir! No magician could have worked
a greater wonder than the scene of that marriage after the scene of that
deathbed; yet it delighted me to see old Redcleugh all in a blaze again,
and to go down into the old catacombs for the old-crusted vintages.
Bless your heart!--it was just like the beginning of a new term of
life to me. Then the memory of Lillah threw no shade over the scene of
enjoyment, for we all knew that if her spirit were not hovering over her
beloved Circassia, it would be here looking down on the fulfilment of
her dying wish."

Here Francis drew breath, as if to prepare himself for something much
more wonderful. It may easily be conceived that he had enlisted my
sympathy, as well by the facts of his story, as his manner of telling
it; and as one turns to the woodcut of a tale to get his impressions
enlivened or verified, I felt a desire to see again, by the light of a
candle, the face of the second wife. Francis gratified me by getting
another candle, lighting it, and holding it up full in the face of
Amelia.

"'Twas all well for Redcleugh for a time," he resumed, "save for me, who
lost my dear Christy shortly after Mira was born. That's she there, sir,
as I have told you, alongside of my lady Amelia. When the grief was
still heavy upon me, I was surprised by an almost sudden change in Mr.
Bernard. I had gone up in the morning, expecting to find him in his
dressing-room, which, as you see, enters as well from the lobby as by a
door from the parlour, where breakfast was served. As I proceeded along
the passage, I saw my lady hurrying away, with her handkerchief over her
eyes, and her right hand held up, as if she were addressing Heaven; then
deep sobs came from her, and a groan, which burst from the heart as she
turned away into the west angle, sounded through the long lobbies and
corridors. Master was not in his dressing-room. I heard his voice
calling me from his bed-room, and I started at the sound, so unlike his
utterance--so deep, heart-ridden, and agonized. On entering, I found him
in his morning gown, sitting in that chair; his head thrown back, and
his eyes fixed on my lady Lillah's portrait. It seemed, also, as if
Amelia could not rest in the room in the west angle, where I thought I
had seen her hurrying. Her foot was distinctly heard as she passed again
along the lobby, which stretches along to the east tower, and passes
this room, where my master and I were. A succession of groans followed,
and died away as she receded. Mr. Bernard was too much occupied by some
heart-stupefying thought to heed these sounds, and I stood before him
not knowing what to say, far less what to do. At length he held up his
hands, and placing one on my arm, said, in a voice which seemed the
sound of one choking:--

"'Francis, you are an old friend, not a servant--not now at least. I
trust you. The house of Redcleugh is doomed, nor shall a Bernard be ever
again happy within its walls.'

"'What is wrong, master?' I inquired.

"'The core,' said he; 'the master's heart. I must go to the East again.
There may be peace there for me; here, in my father's house, there is
none. But what shall become of Caleb and Mira?'

"My heart was too full to answer, and still Amelia's groans came from
the passages, changing and changing, like the voice of a restless
spirit. My master rose, and, folding his arms, paced along the room. His
brow was knit tight as the muscles would draw. He seemed to contract his
arms, as if to compress his heart--nor did a word escape from him. A
thought seized me, that, like the older Bernards, he was under a fit of
alienation. I made for the door, to seek my lady Amelia, and even in her
agonies to consult her what was to be done. My master seized me sharply
by the arm.

"'Whither going?' he said.

"'For my lady,' replied I.

"'For Amelia?' he said--'for the murderer of my Lillah, my first love,
my angel?'

"I stood petrified, the word 'murderer' twittering on my shaking lips in
fragments.

"'Yes,' he said, 'come in, come in--bolt that door; the other is
already cared for. Francis, you know how my Lillah died; there was no
disease--she slept away as a drugged victim. Now, listen. During this
last night I was awoke by the restlessness of Amelia. I heard her leave
my side, and rise from the bed'--that on which you are now lying.--'The
rush-light burned on the mantelpiece, and I could see my wife, as she
rose and began to pace the floor. I called out gently, "Amelia;" but
got no answer. Her eyes, I saw, were fixed; and she moved her arms,
as if she were addressing some imaginary being. I concluded she was
sleep-walking, and immediately she began to speak, as she paced
backwards and forwards. Part of what she said I lost, but I could join
together enough for conviction.

"'"She stood between me and my love," she said, as she stopped for a
moment, laying one hand upon another, "and it was necessary she should
be put out of the way. A Grierson was never a waverer when a deed of
blood was to be done." "How did you do it?" "How did I do it? Poison! I
made her sleep the long sleep, which the sun never breaks, nor the moon,
nor time." "What poison did you say?" "The sleepy poison. I made for her
a draught, that I might draw the sweet life away; and"--

"'She stopped and laughed, as a sleep-walker laughs--hollow and distant.

"'"And get into the _Temple_ she occupied. Was you still kind to her
while you watched the effect of your draught?" "Was I, did you say? Yes,
very kind. Oh! I nursed her dying spirit, that he might think me a
ministering angel to his wife, whom I wanted to succeed. He was
deceived. Yes, yes; simple fool, he was deceived. Ay, and not deceived,
for I loved him."

"'She began to walk again to and fro, sometimes slowly, sometimes
quickly, then of a sudden turned and stood--"She was fair," she
continued, as she kept looking at the wall; "but so am I. He got as good
a bargain in me as in her." Then she made devious movements, turning and
returning, muttering to herself, but so thickly that I only caught words
much disjointed--"Remorse!--yes, yes!--no, no!--not till I am to be
hanged; but that cannot be; no one saw me. Say nothing, nothing!--mix
the draught--away to bed. 'Tis late, late! and I am cold."

"'She came to bed, Francis, cold and shivering. My mind began to regain
some form of thinking, after having been tossed about by the effect of
her horrible monologue, or rather part of a dialogue. The conviction was
instant, unavoidable, and certain. I never thought of awakening her to
question her, but lay distant from her as from a reptile. I slept none.
In the morning she turned to kiss me. I drew back my head in horror,
and saw that she too was horrified at my manner. I bade her begone for a
murderer, and, committed thus by my agony, told her she had confessed
the whole story in a fit of somnambulism. Then she flew from me, crying
she was innocent, tearing her hair in good acting--and there she walks
by the passages under the sting of her guilt. Oh! she dare not face me,
even were I to allow a meeting, which I wont. Francis, I am convinced.'

"My master," continued Francis, addressing me as I lay listening and
thinking of the old brochure, "was always moody, as I have said--ay, and
crotchety; no one had any power to drive from him a settled opinion or
resolution. After I had listened to him I said--

"'Master, permit me, your poor servant, to say that this is not evidence
on which I would beat a dog.'

"'I am convinced,' he replied sternly and unkindly, and he moved his
hand as a sign that I should leave him. I retreated, grieved to the
heart, for I knew master's nature. When I got to the top of the stair, I
saw my lady beckoning me from the door of the library. I went to her.

"'Francis,' she said, as she shut the door, 'what is this? Has my
husband told you anything?'

"'All,' I replied. 'He has recounted to me some strange words uttered by
you in your sleep, from which he infers that you poisoned my lady
Lillah.'

"'Repeat them--repeat them,' she said hurriedly.

"I did so, and when I mentioned the name Grierson, she seemed to
brighten a little. O how she hung upon my words!

"'Francis,' she said, 'I may be saved. You may help me. Some nights
ago I was occupied in reading the history of Jane Grierson--a little
pamphlet which you will find in the drawer of the escritoire, in
the dressing-room. There is the key. That story is the story I had
recounted in my sleep. Go get the book, and bring it to me. That will
save me, and nothing but that will save me.'

"'God be praised,' I ejaculated, and then hurried with all speed to get
the book. I searched the escritoire; it was not there. I examined other
drawers with no better success. At length I returned to my lady, and
reported my failure. Without saying a word she hurried away from me,
rushed along the lobby, and entered the parlour opening into the
dressing-room. Not doubting her word, and agitated by the hope of all
being thus satisfactorily explained when the book should be got, I flew
to my master's room through the door from the passage.

"'It is all explainable,' I cried, as I entered.

"'Indeed!' answered Mr. Bernard satirically.

"'My lady was some nights ago reading the story of Jane Grierson,' said
I, 'and her sleep-walking conversation was only a repetition of the
story.'

"'Grierson, Grierson!' cried my master, as he rose frantically, and
placed his hand on his forehead. 'Yes, yes! she mentioned the word. I
have never thought of that. Yes! yes! show me that book, and I shall be
satisfied.'

"I ran immediately to the door leading to the dressing-room, where I
heard my lady searching. Master had shut it. He opened it for me by the
key which he held in his hand, and locked it as I passed out. It seemed
he wanted no interview till the book should be got. Amelia was there,
searching and searching, trembling and sighing.

"'What means this?' she ejaculated, as she proceeded--then paused. 'I
must have placed it in the trunk, from whence I took it;' and she rushed
away to the room where the trunks lay, which she had brought with her to
Redcleugh.

"'Twas all in vain. That book could not be got, sir. That book was never
found. No copy of it could be procured. The loss of that book was the
ruin of the house of Redcleugh."

"There it is," said I, holding up the tattered brochure to the wondering
eyes of the old butler.

"Gracious Heaven!" cried the old man. "Yet not gracious--too late, too
late!" and he staggered, like one who is drunk. "Mr. Bernard is dead."

"And Amelia is mad," said I, sorrowfully.

"Yes, mad," said he, as he still gazed on the brochure, and turned it
over and over with trembling hands.

"But how did you come to get this," he inquired.

I told him, and he rose and hastened to the escritoire to examine it,
and satisfy himself of the truth of my statement.

"When that book could not be found, sir," he resumed when he came back,
"my master put his resolution into effect. He placed his children with
Mr. Gordon, one of his trustees, executed a settlement, and went to the
East. My lady Amelia never saw him from that morning, but he left word
with me, that if the pamphlet was found in the house, he should be made
acquainted with it through his trustee, Mr. Gordon. But, ah! sir, that
never happened, in God's mysterious providence; and now my poor Lady
Amelia could receive no advantage from this proof of her innocence. I
have heard from her own lips, before her reason gave way, that she was
the grand-daughter of Jane Grierson and Mr. Temple, and that was the
reason why she came to have this little book. The story haunted her, yet
she read it; while, at the same time, she concealed her possession of
it, and her connection with the parties."

Francis now left me, and if I had little inclination to sleep before, I
had less now. All the strange incidents of the story seemed to revolve
round myself; though my part in it seemed merely the result of chance, I
appeared to myself somehow as a directly-appointed agent for working
out some design of Providence. Yet what I was required to do I did not
know. I cogitated and recogitated, and came to no conclusion as to how I
should act; only I saw no great benefit in the meantime in endeavouring
to make any use of the pamphlet for the purpose of recovering the
aberrant reason of the poor lady. At length I fell asleep, and next
morning awoke to the strange recollections of what had occurred so
shortly before. I saw Amelia again; she was depressed and moody; the
fiend within her was dormant, but its weight pressed on the issues of
thought, and her vacant stare told unutterable woe.

I left Redcleugh without much hope, intending to pay another visit
shortly afterwards. About three or four days after reaching home, a
letter came to me from Francis, inclosing one from Mr. Gordon, the
latter of which contained the intelligence that there had been some
mistake as to the report of Mr. Bernard's death. A gentleman of the same
name had died at Aleppo, but the master of Redcleugh was still alive. A
gleam of the sunshine of hope darted through my mind. The dark images of
the story were illumined--even the figure of that poor lady enshrined in
the gloom of sorrow became bright with lustrous, meaning, intelligent
eyes. Within an hour I had a letter posted for Mr. Gordon, informing him
of the finding of the pamphlet, and requesting him to send for Mr.
Bernard by an express messenger.

In the meanwhile I visited Mrs. Bernard regularly, though the distance
was much beyond my usual journeys. Some parts of the intelligence were
broken to her through the medium of Francis, but without any marked
result, if exacerbations were not more frequent, ending in deeper
depression; as if a wild hope had risen and died away in the absence of
anything visible or tangible to justify it to the erring but suspicious
judgment of the victim of despair. Other preparations were made; the
old servants recalled; and Francis was glorying in the prospect of a
restoration of the old ways, if not the very continuation of that broken
happiness of which he was so full. At length Mr. Bernard arrived, along
with Caleb and Mira. Mr. Gordon was along with them, and I was sent for.
We were all assembled without Mrs. Bernard being aware of our presence
in the house. I counselled caution, and Mira was introduced to the
mother alone; but the child retreated under the fear of a scream which
might betoken either joy or despair; nor did her mother ask for her
again--a strange circumstance, and not of good omen; but we behoved to
persevere, and Mr. Bernard himself, accompanied by Mr. Gordon and me,
presented ourselves before her. Was there ever a meeting under such
circumstances? The husband clasped the unconscious wife to his bosom. I
stood to watch the effect of an act which I considered precipitate, if
not imprudent. The moment she felt herself in the arms of her husband
she struggled to release herself, uttered the loudest scream I ever
heard from her, and fell in a swoon upon the floor. That swoon gave me
hopes, for in confirmed madness we do not often find that moral causes
working on the mind show any power over the body. When she recovered,
and was placed in a chair, she panted for breath, like one choking; and
waving her hands and grasping convulsively the clothes of those next to
her, seemed as if she were testing the reality of all these appearances,
as things new and wonderful and incredible. I then held out to her the
pamphlet, in all its tattered condition. The effect was extraordinary.
She clutched it with such an intensity of grasp that she crumpled it all
up, and then tried with trembling hands to undo the crushed leaves, some
of which fell at her feet. I watched the rise of the natural expression
of wonder struggling through the look of insanity; but I could discover
no joy, only something like fear. I still augured favourably. She was
laid upon her bed, and in about an hour afterwards fell into a troubled
sleep. A day passed, yet amid my hopes I could see nothing on which I
could absolutely rely as an undoubted sign of a favourable change, till
on the evening of the second day, when she burst into a flood of tears.
I had Mr. Bernard at her side at the end of this paroxysm, and in a very
short time she was hanging upon his neck, sobbing like a child who is
reconciled to its mother.

Under a date some six months after these indications of Amelia's
convalescence, I find a note in my diary, "Dined at Redcleugh with
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard; the invalid restored, and again the object
of her husband's affection; the butler once more the pride of his
major-domoship; the old Burgundy produced and declared better than ever;
heard that musical laugh which once charmed Mr. Bernard from the depth
of his sorrow, as it now mingled, like a fluid, with the glory of a
summer sun shining through the green blinds, and spread joy throughout
the old house of Redcleugh."



THE ROTHESAY FISHERMAN.


When I was a boy, I used to pass the summer vacation in the Isle
of Bute, where my father had a small cottage, for the convenience
of sea-bathing. I enjoyed my sea-side visits greatly, for I was
passionately fond of boating and fishing and, before I was sixteen, had
become a fearless and excellent swimmer. From morning till night, I was
rambling about the beach, or either sailing upon or swimming in the
beautiful Frith. I was a prime favourite among the fishermen, with most
of whom I was on familiar terms, and knew them all by name. Among their
number was one man who particularly attracted my attention, and excited
my curiosity. He was civil and obliging, though distant and reserved in
his manners, with a shade of habitual melancholy on his countenance,
which awakened my sympathy, at the same time that his "bearing," which
was much above his station, commanded my respect. He _appeared_ to be
about sixty years of age; particularly prepossessing in his appearance;
and his language and demeanour would have done honour to any rank of
society. I felt involuntarily attracted towards him, and took every
opportunity of showing my wish to please and become better acquainted
with him; but in vain. He seemed gratified by my attentions; but I made
no nearer approach to his confidence. He went, among his companions, by
the name of "Gentleman Douglas;" but they appeared to be as ignorant of
the particulars of his history as myself. All they knew of him was, that
he had come among them a perfect stranger, some years before, no one
knew from whence; that he seemed to have some means of support
independent of his boat; and that he was melancholy, silent, and
reserved--as much as possible avoiding all communication with his
neighbours. These particulars only served to whet my boyish curiosity,
and I determined to leave no means untried to penetrate to the bottom of
Douglas' mystery. Let me do myself justice, however: my eagerness to
know his history proceeded from an earnest desire to soothe his sorrow,
whatever it might be, and to benefit him in any way in my power. Day
after day I used to stroll down to the beach, when he was preparing to
get his boat under way, and volunteer to pull an oar on board. At first
he seemed annoyed by my officiousness; and, though he always behaved
with civility, showed, by his impatient manner, that he would rather
dispense with my company; but the constant dripping of water will wear
away a stone, and hard indeed must be the heart that will not be
softened by unremitting kindness. My persevering wish to please him
gradually produced the desired effect--he _was_ pleased, and evinced it
by his increasing cordiality of manner, and by the greater interest
he seemed to take in all my movements. In a short time we became
inseparables, and his boat hardly ever left the shore without me. My
father was not at all adverse to my intimacy with Douglas; he knew him
to be a sober, industrious man, and one who bore an irreproachable
moral character; and as he was anxious that I should strengthen my
constitution as much as possible in the sea-breeze, he thought I could
not roam about under safer or less objectionable protection. On a
further acquaintance with Douglas, I found him a most agreeable
companion; for, when his reserve wore off, his conversation was amusing
and instructive; and he had tales to tell of foreign lands and of
distant seas, which he described with that minuteness and closeness
which only a personal acquaintance with them could have produced. Often,
in the course of his narration, his eye would brighten and his cheek
glow with an emotion foreign to his usual calm and melancholy manner;
and then he would suddenly stop, as if some sound he had uttered had
awakened dark memories of the past, and the gloom clouded his brow
again, his voice trembled, and his cheek grew pale. These sudden
transitions alarmed and surprised me; my suspicions were excited, and I
began to imagine that the man must have been guilty of some unknown and
dreadful crime, and that conscience was at such times busy within him.
Douglas must have observed my changing manner; but it made little
alteration in his demeanour towards myself.

"What is the matter, Douglas?" said I, one day, when I observed him
start and turn pale at some casual observation of mine.

"Do not indulge a vain and idle curiosity, Master Charles, at the
expense of another's feelings," replied he, gravely and mournfully, "nor
endeavour to rake up the ashes of the past. The heart knows its own
bitterness: long may yours be a stranger to sorrow! I have observed,
with pain, that you, as others have done, begin to look upon me with
suspicion. Be satisfied with the assurance, that I have no crimes
needing concealment, to reproach myself with; and the sorrows of age
should be sacred in the eyes of youth."

I was humbled by the old man's reproof, and hastened to express my
concern for having hurt his feelings.

"Enough said, enough said, Mr. Charles," said he; "curiosity is natural
at your age, and I am not surprised at your wishing, like some of your
elders, to learn the cause of the melancholy which hangs over me like a
cloud darkening the path of life, and embittering all its pleasures. At
some future time I will tell you the reason why you see me what I am;
but I cannot now--the very thought of it unmans me."

Time wore on; every year I returned to the sea-side during the summer,
and was always welcomed with unaffected cordiality by my old ally,
Douglas. I was now a strapping youth of nineteen, tall and powerful of
my age--thanks to the bracing sea-air and constant exercise. One day
Douglas told me he was going over to Largs, and asked if I would
accompany him.

"With all my heart," said I; and in ten minutes we were standing across
the Frith with a fine steady breeze. We were close over to the Ayrshire
coast, when a sudden puff of wind capsized the boat, and we were both
thrown into the water. When I rose to the surface again, after my
plunge, I looked around in vain for Douglas, who had disappeared. He
had on a heavy pea-jacket, and I was at first afraid the weight and
encumbrance of it must have sunk him; but, on second thoughts, I dived
under the boat, and found him floundering about beneath the sail, from
whence I succeeded with great difficulty in extricating him. He was
quite exhausted, and it required all my strength to support him to the
gunnel of the boat. After hanging on there some time, to recover breath,
we swam together to the beach, which was not far distant. When we
landed, he seated himself on a large stone, and remained silent for some
time, with his face buried in his hands.

"Douglas," said I, wondering at his long silence, "are you hurt?"

To my great surprise I heard low sobs, and saw the tears trickling
between his fingers. Thinking that he was grieved at the loss of his
boat, I said--

"Cheer up, man! If the boat be lost, we will manage among us to get
another for you."

"'Tisn't the boat, sir, 'tisn't the boat; we can soon raise _her_ again:
it is your kindness that has made a fool of me."

He then looked up in my face, and, drying his glistening cheek with one
hand, he shook mine long and heartily with the other.

"Mr. Charles, before I met you, I thought I was alone in the world;
shunned by most around me as a man of mystery. Because I could not join
in their rude sports and boisterous merriment, they attributed my
reserve and visible dejection to sinister causes--possibly to some
horrible and undiscovered crime." A blush here flitted across my
countenance; but Douglas did not remark it. "Young, and warm, and
enthusiastic, _you_ sought me out with different feelings; you were
attracted towards me by pity, and by a generous desire to relieve my
distress. It was not the mere impulse of a moment; your kindness has
been constant and unwavering--and now you have crowned all by saving
my life. I hardly know whether or not to thank you for what was so
worthless to myself; but I _do_ thank you from the bottom of my heart
for the friendly and generous feeling which actuated you. You shall know
the cause of the sorrow that weighs upon my heart; I would not that one
to whom I owe so much should look upon me with the slightest shade of
suspicion. I think, when you know my story, you will pity and sympathize
with me; but you will judge less harshly, I doubt not, than I do of
myself."

"Do not call up unnecessary remembrances, which harrow your feelings,
Douglas. That I have often thought there is mystery about you, I will
not deny; but only once did the possibility of a cause of guilt flash
across my mind. That unworthy suspicion has long past, and I am now
heartily ashamed of myself for having harboured it for a moment. But we
are forgetting the boat; we must try to get assistance to right her."

We soon fell in with one of the fishermen on the coast, with whose
assistance she was speedily righted and baled out; and, after having
done what we came for at Largs we returned homewards.

"Meet me to-morrow at ten o'clock, Mr. Charles," said Douglas, as he
grasped my hand at parting, "and you shall then hear my story, and judge
whether or not I have cause to grieve."

At the appointed hour next morning I hastened to the rendezvous. The
fisherman was already there, waiting for me.

"I daresay you are surprised to see me here so soon," said he; "but
now that I have determined to make you my confidant, I feel eager to
disburden my mind, and to seek relief from my sorrows in the sympathy of
one whom I am so proud to call my friend.

"I was not always in the humble station in which you now see me,
Mr. Stewart; but, thank Heaven! it was no misconduct of my own that
occasioned the change. My father was an English clergyman, whose
moderate stipend denied to his family the luxuries of life; but we had
reason to acknowledge the truth of the wise man's saying, that 'a dinner
of herbs, where love is, is better than more sumptuous fare where that
love is not'. We were a united and a happy family, contented with the
competence with which Providence had blessed us, and pitying, not
envying, those who, endowed with greater wealth, were exposed to
greater temptations. Oh! those happy, happy days! It sometimes almost
maddens me, Mr. Stewart, to compare myself, as I am now, with what I
was then. Every morning I rose with a light and happy heart, exulting
in the sunbeam that awakened me with its smile, and blessing, in the
gladfulness of youthful gratitude, the gracious Giver of light and life.
My heart overflowed with love to all created beings. I could look back
without regret, and the future was bright with hope. And now, what am I?
A broken-hearted man, but still, after all my sufferings, grateful to
the hand which has chastened me. I can picture the whole family grouped
on a summer evening, now, Mr. Stewart, as vividly as a sight of
yesterday, though fifty years have cast their dark shadows between. My
mother, seated beside her work-table under the neat verandah in front of
our cottage, encouraging my sisters, with her sweet smile and gentle
voice, in the working of their first sampler; my father, seated with his
book, under the shade of his favourite laburnum tree; while my brother
and I were trundling our hoops round the garden, shouting with boyish
glee; and my little fair-haired cousin, Julia, tottering along with her
little hands extended, to catch the butterfly that tempted her on from
flower to flower. My brother Henry was two years younger than myself,
and was at the time I speak of a remarkably handsome, active boy, of ten
years of age--full of fun and mischief, unsteady and volatile. My father
found considerable difficulty in confining Henry's attention to his
studies; for, though uncommonly quick and intelligent, he wanted
patience and application. He could not bear the drudgery of poring over
musty books. He used to say to me--'How I should like to be an officer,
a gallant naval officer, to lead on my men through fire and smoke to
victory!' And then the little fellow would wave his hand, while the
colour flushed his cheeks, and shout--'Come on! come on!' He had,
somehow or other, got possession of an old naval chronicle; and from
that moment his whole thoughts were of ships and battles, and his
principal amusement was to launch little fleets of ships upon the pond
at the bottom of the garden. My father, though mild and indulgent in
other matters, was a strict disciplinarian in education; and often did I
save Henry from punishment by helping him with his exercises and other
lessons. Dearly did I love my gallant, high-spirited little brother; and
he looked up to me with equal fondness.

"I will not weary you with details, but at once jump over the next twelve
years of my life. The scene was now greatly changed at the parsonage.
Death had been busy among its inmates; a contagious disorder had carried
off my mother and sisters, and my poor father was left alone in his old
age--not alone, for Julia was still with him. I forgot to say before,
that she was the orphan daughter of his elder brother. Julia, at
sixteen, was beautiful. I will not attempt to describe her, although
every feature, every expression of her lovely countenance, is vividly
pictured in my heart. She was its light, its pride, its hope. Alas!
alas! she had grown up like a sweet flower beside me, and, from her
infancy, had clung to me with a sister's confidence, and more than a
sister's affection. Was it wonderful that I loved her? Yes, I loved
her fondly and devotedly; and I soon had the bliss of knowing that my
affection was returned. I had been for some time at college, studying
for the church, when a distant relation died, and left me a comfortable
competency. My father now consented with pleasure to my union with
Julia; and a distant day was fixed for the marriage, to enable my
brother Henry to be present. He had been abroad for some time in the
merchant service, and his constant employment had prevented his visiting
home for many years; but he had written to say that he expected now to
have a long holiday with us. At length he returned, and great was my
joy at meeting my beloved brother once more. He was a fine, handsome,
manly-looking fellow--frank and boisterous in his manner, kind and
generous in his disposition, but the slave of passion and impulse. In
a week after his return, he became dull and reserved, and every one
remarked the extraordinary change that had come over him. My father and
I both thought that our quiet and monotonous life wearied and disgusted
him, and that he longed for the more bustling scenes to which he had
been accustomed. "Come, Harry!" said I to him one day, "cheer up, my
boy! we shall be merry enough soon: you must lay in a fresh stock of
spirits; Julia will quarrel with you if you show such a melancholy phiz
at our wedding." He turned from me with impatience, and, rushing out
into the garden, I saw no more of him that day. I was hurt and surprised
by his manner, and hastened to express my annoyance to Julia. She
received me with less than her usual warmth, blushed when I talked of my
brother, and soon left me on some trifling pretext. My father had gone
to visit a neighbouring clergyman, at whose house he was taken suddenly
and alarmingly ill. I hastened to his bedside, and found him in such a
precarious state, that I determined upon remaining near him. I therefore
despatched a messenger to Julia, informing her of my intention, and
intimating that it would be necessary to postpone our marriage, which
was to have taken place in the course of a week, until my father's
recovery. In answer to my letter, I received a short and hurried reply,
merely acquiescing in the propriety of my movements, and without any
expression of regret at my lengthened absence. Surprised at the
infrequency and too apparent indifference of Julia's answers to the long
and impassioned letters which I almost daily wrote to her, alarmed at
the long interval which had elapsed since I last heard from her, and
fearing that illness might have occasioned her silence, I left my
father, who was rapidly recovering, and hastened home. When I arrived at
the parsonage, I walked into the drawing-room; but as neither Julia nor
my brother was there, I concluded they were out walking, and, taking a
book, I sat down, impatiently waiting their return. Some time having
elapsed, however, without their making their appearance, I rang the
bell; and our aged servant, on entering, started at seeing me there.

"La, sir!" said she, "I did'nt expect to see _you_!"

"Where are Miss Julia and my brother?"

"Why, la, sir! I was just agoing to ask _you_. Miss Julia had a letter
from you about a week ago, and she and Mr. Henry went off in a poshay
together next day. They said they would be back to-day."

I said not a word in reply, but buried my face in my folded arms on the
table, while the cold perspiration flowed over my brow, and my heart
sickened within me, as the fatal truth by degrees broke upon me.

"Fool, fond fool, that I was, to have been so long blind!" muttered I;
"but it cannot be!--Julia!--_my_ Julia!--no, no!" And I almost cursed
myself for the unworthy suspicion. But why dwell longer upon these
moments of agony? My first surmise was a correct one. In a week's time
all was known. My brother, my brother Harry, for whom I would have
sacrificed fortune, life itself, had betrayed my dearest trust, and had
become the husband of her I had fondly thought my own. The blow was too
sudden and overpowering; I sunk beneath it. My reason became unsettled,
and for several months I was unconscious of my own misery. I awoke to
sense, an altered man. My heart was crushed, my very blood seemed to be
turned into gall; I hated my kind, and resolved to seclude myself for
ever from a world of falsehood and ingratitude. The only tie which could
have reconciled me to life had been wrenched away from me during my
unconsciousness: my brother's misconduct had broken my father's heart,
and I was left alone in the world. I paid one sad visit to my father's
grave, shed over it bitter tears of sorrow and disappointment, and from
that hour to this I have never seen the home in which I passed so many
happy days. Some months afterwards, I received a letter from a friend
residing in Wales, of a very extraordinary nature, requiring me
instantly to visit him, and stating that he had something of importance
to communicate to me. I knew the writer, and confided in him; he had
known my misfortune, and wept with me over the loss of my Julia and of
my father. I hastened to him on the wings of expectation, and, when I
arrived, was taken by him into an inner apartment of his house, with an
air of secrecy and mystery.

"Have you yet recovered from the effects of your misfortunes?" said he.
"I have often reflected on your extraordinary fate, and pitied you from
the innermost recesses of my soul. Would you believe it? I have in store
for you an antidote against the grief of your ruined affections; but I
will not say a medicine for your pain, or a balm for your sorrow."

"For a broken heart," said I, "there is no cure in this world."

He looked at me, and wept.

"Dress yourself in this suit of my mournings," he said, "and accompany
me whither I will lead you."

I gazed at him in amazement; but he left me to put on the weeds, and to
torture myself with vain thoughts.

He returned and called me out. I followed him. We went some little
distance, and joined a funeral that was slowly proceeding to the
burying-ground. My confusion prevented me from looking at the time to
see who was chief mourner. I proceeded with the mourners, and soon stood
on the brink of the grave. When the pall was taken off, and the coffin
lowered down into the earth, my eye caught the inscription on the plate;
it was--"J. M., aged 20." "So young!" muttered I; and at the same moment
I glanced at the chief mourner. He had withdrawn his handkerchief from
his face. Our eyes met--he turned deadly pale, and made a motion as if
to leave the ground; but I sprang forward, almost _shrieking_ "Henry!"
and detained him. I looked in his face. Oh, what a change was there! His
eye quailed beneath the cold, steady, withering glance of mine. I felt
that he read the meaning of that glance, for he absolutely writhed
beneath it.

"Do not revile me, brother," murmured he; "the hand of Heaven has been
heavy upon me; my crime has already met with its punishment. Oh, my
poor, poor Julia!"

"Where, where is she?" wildly exclaimed I. He pointed to the new-made
grave?

Oh, the bitterness of that hour! We wept--the betrayer and the betrayed
wept together over the grave of their buried hopes. I arose calm and
collected. "Brother," said I, giving him my hand, "my animosity shall be
buried with her; may your own heart forgive you as freely as I do the
injury you have done me! But we must never meet more." And, with slow
steps and aching heart, I turned and left the spot.

I received a letter from Henry some time afterwards, from one of the
outports, telling me that he was just on the point of leaving England
for ever, and imploring my forgiveness in the most touching terms, "for
the sake of our early days, the happy years of our boyhood." Those early
days--those happy days!--my heart softened towards him as I thought of
them. Sorely as he had wronged me, he was my brother still, and I felt
that I could, if permitted, clasp him to my heart once more.

Weary of life, and tired of the world, I dragged on a miserable
existence for some time, in a secluded situation on the shores of
Cornwall; but, by degrees, the monotony of my sedentary and recluse life
wearied me. I began to associate with the poor fishermen around me, and,
in a short time, became enthusiastically fond of their perilous and
exciting mode of life. The sea became to me quite a 'passion'--my mind
had found a new channel for its energies; and when, a short time
afterwards, I lost my little fortune through the mismanagement or
villany of my agent, I took staff in hand, and, hastening to Liverpool,
boldly launched into life again as a common seaman, on board a merchant
vessel bound to the West Indies.

I had toiled on for several years as a common seaman, during which time
I attracted the notice of my captain, by my indefatigable attention to
the duties of my station, and by the reckless indifference with which I
lavished my strength, and often risked my life, in the performance of
them.

"Douglas" (for that was the name which I had assumed), "Douglas," said
the captain to me one day, after I had been particularly active during a
heavy gale we encountered, "I must try if I cannot do something for you;
your activity and energy entitle you to promotion. I will speak to the
owners when we return, and endeavour to procure you a mate's berth." I
thanked him, and went forward again to my duty. A few days afterwards,
we were going along with a strong beaming wind; there was a high sea
running, every now and then throwing a thick spray over the weather
bulwarks; the hands were at dinner, and I was just coming up to relieve
the man at the wheel; there was no one on deck but the mate of the
watch, and the captain, who was standing on the weather bulwark, shaking
the backstays, to feel if they bore an equal strain: all at once the
ship gave a heavy weather lurch, the captain lost his footing, and was
overboard in a moment. I instantly sprang aft, cut away the life-buoy,
and knowing that he was but an indifferent swimmer, jumped overboard
after him. As I said before, the sea was running high, and a few minutes
elapsed before I caught sight of him, rising on the crest of a wave, at
some distance from me. I saw he could not hold out long; for he was
over-exerting himself, shouting and raising his hand for assistance, and
his face was pale as death. I struck out desperately towards him, and
shouted, when I got near him, "Keep up your heart, sir; be cool; don't
attempt to lay hold of me, and, please God, I will save you yet." My
advice had the desired effect, and restored his self-possession; he
became more cool and collected, and with occasional support from me,
contrived to reach the life-buoy. In the meantime, all was confusion on
board the ship; the second mate of the watch, a young hand, in the hurry
of the moment, threw the ship too suddenly up to the wind, a squall
struck her at the moment, and the foretopmast and topgallantmast went
over the side, dragging the maintopgallantmast with them. The cry of
"A man overboard!" had hurried the crew on deck, and the crash of the
falling spars, and the contradictory orders from the quarter-deck, at
first puzzled and confused them; but the _chief_ mate was a cool, active
seaman, and the moment he made his appearance order and silence were
restored; the quarter-boat was instantly lowered, numbers of the men
springing forward to volunteer to man her, for the captain was
deservedly beloved by his crew; and the rest of the hands were
immediately set to work to clear away the wreck. In a few minutes the
boat reached us, and we were safely seated in the stern sheets.

"Douglas, my gallant fellow," said the captain, shaking me cordially by
the hand, "I may thank _you_ that I am not food for the fishes by this
time. I had just resigned myself to my fate, when your voice came over
the water to me, like a messenger of hope and safety. How can I ever
repay you?"

"I am sufficiently repaid, Captain Rose, by seeing you beside me; the
only way in which you can serve me, is by giving me a lift in the way of
promotion, when we return home."

"I will, you may depend upon it," replied he; "and as long as I live,
you may apply to me as a firm and faithful friend."

I was highly gratified by this promise; for the great object of my
ambition for some time past had been to raise myself again from
obscurity into something like my former station in life. Next voyage,
through the captain's interest with the owners, I was appointed chief
mate of the Albion, Captain Rose's ship, for which I was found duly
qualified, having employed all my spare hours at sea in acquiring a
knowledge of the theory of navigation. Captain Rose was like a brother
to me, introducing me to his family and friends as the saver of his
life, and making quite a _lion_ of me in Liverpool. We sailed in company
with a large fleet, under convoy of three frigates and two sloops of
war, and had been some time at sea when a heavy gale of wind came on one
afternoon, which completely dispersed the convoy. When it commenced
there were nearly two hundred sail in sight; at the end of two days, we
were alone. The Albion was a beautiful vessel of her class, about four
hundred tons burden; an excellent sea-boat. We had a smart active crew,
besides a number of passengers, and were well furnished for defence, if
required; but we were now so near our port that we dreaded little
danger. However, it was necessary to be constantly on the alert, for
there were many piratical vessels in those seas, which, in spite of the
vigilance and activity of H.M. cruisers, were constantly on the watch to
pounce upon any stray merchantmen. Capt. Rose was, on the whole, rather
pleased at his separation from the convoy, as there were only one or two
other vessels, besides himself, bound to the Havannah, and he would have
been obliged to accompany the body of the fleet to Barbadoes. After we
had parted from the convoy, we made the best of our way towards Cuba.
One night, it was almost calm, but with every appearance of a coming
breeze; the moon was nearly at her full, but dark, heavy clouds were
drifting quickly over her, which almost entirely hid her from our view,
except when, at intervals, she threw from between them a broad flash
over the waters, as bright and almost as momentary as lightning gleams.
We were crawling slowly along, with all our small canvas set; the breeze
was blowing off the shore, the dark shadow of which lay like a shroud
upon the water; it was nearly eight bells in the first watch; the
captain and several of the passengers were still on deck, enjoying the
cool, delightful breeze; but their suspicious and anxious glances into
the dark shadow to windward, seemed to intimate that their conversation
over their grog that evening, which had been of the pirates that
infested those islands, and Cuba in particular, had awakened their
fears and aroused their watchfulness.

"Hark! Captain Rose," said I, "what noise is that?"

Every face was instantly turned over the weather gunwale, and in
breathless silence they all listened in the direction to which I
pointed. A low, murmuring, rippling sound was heard, and a kind of dull,
smothered, creaking noise repeated at short intervals; nothing was to be
seen, however, for all was in deep shadow in that quarter.

"Talk of the devil, and he'll show his horns, Douglas!" said the
captain. "I have not been so long at sea without being able to
distinguish the whispering of the smooth water when a sharp keel is
slipping through it, or the sound of muffled sweeps. There may be
mischief there, or there may not; but we'll be prepared for the worst.
Get the men quietly to their quarters, put an extra dose of grape into
the guns, and have all our tools ready."

Just at this moment the moonlight broke brightly through the clouds, and
showed us a small, black-looking schooner, slowly crawling out from the
shadow of the land. Her decks were apparently crowded with people, and
she had a boat towing astern. The men were soon at their quarters--and a
fine, active, spirited set of fellows they were--each armed with a
cutlass and a brace of pistols, while tomahawks and boarding pikes lay
at hand for use if required. The passengers were all likewise provided
with muskets, pistols, and cutlasses, and the servants were ready to
load spare fire-arms. We mustered about fifty in all; but there was not
a flincher among us.

"Now, my lads;" said Captain Rose to his crew, "we must have a brush
for it. I have no doubt those fellows are pirates; and if once they get
footing on this deck, I would not give a farthing for any man's life on
board. Be cool and quiet. Don't throw away a shot; remember that you are
fighting for your lives; I do not doubt your courage, but be cool and
steady!"

In the meantime, the dark hull of the schooner was gradually nearing us.

"Schooner ahoy!" shouted Captain Rose. No answer; but the sweeps dipped
faster into the water, which rippled up beneath her bow. "Schooner,
ahoy!--answer, or I'll fire!" Still no reply; but, almost immediately, a
bright sudden flash burst from her bow, and a shot came whizzing through
the mizen-rigging.

"I thought so," calmly said the captain; "be cool, my lads; we must not
throw away a shot; he's hardly within our range yet." The moon broke out
for a moment. "Now, my lads, take time, and a steady aim. Give it him!"
And flash, flash--bang, bang, went all our six carronades. The captain's
advice had not been thrown away; the aim had been cool and deliberate;
we heard the loud crashing of the sweeps as the grape-shot rattled among
them, and fell pattering into the water; and at the same time a yell
arose from the schooner, as if all the devils in hell were broke loose.
The next glimpse of moonlight showed us her foretopmast hanging over the
side.

"Well done, my fine fellows!" shouted Captain Rose, "bear a hand, and
give them another dose. We must keep them at arms' length as long as we
can." The schooner had by this time, braced up on the larboard tack, and
was standing the same way as ourselves, so as to bring her broadside to
bear upon us; and seemed to be trying to edge out of the range of our
guns.

"Oh, oh," said our gallant captain, "is that your play, old boy? You
want to pepper us at a distance: that'll never do. Starboard, my
boy!--So! steady! Now, my lads, fire way!"--And again our little bark
shook with the explosion. The schooner was not slow in returning the
compliment. One of her shot lodged in our hull and another sent the
splinters flying out of the boat on the booms. Immediately after she
fired, she stood away before the wind, and, rounding our stern at a
respectful distance, she crawled up on the other side of us, as fast
almost as if we had been at anchor, with a wish apparently to cut off
our escape in that direction. But he was playing a deeper game. A long,
dark, unbroken cloud was passing over the moon, which threw its black
shadow over the water, and partially concealed the movements of the
pirate. When it cleared away again, he was braced sharp up on the
larboard tack, standing across our bows, with the intention of raking
us.

"Starboard the helm!--Brace sharp up!--Bear a hand, my fine
fellows!"--And, before she had time to take advantage of her position,
the Albion again presented her broadside. The flash from the pirate's
guns was quickly followed by the report of ours, and we heard
immediately the loud clattering of blocks on board of her, as if some
sail had come down by the run. At this moment, I thought I heard some
strange noise astern, and, running aft, I plainly distinguished the
sound of muffled oars, and, immediately after, saw a small dark line
upon the water.

"Aft, here, small-arm men!" shouted I.

"Boat, ahoy!--Boat, ahoy!"--A loud and wild cheer rose from the boat;
and the men in her, finding that caution would no longer avail them,
evidently redoubled their efforts at their oars.

"Fire!" shouted the captain, while a blue light he had just ignited
threw a pale unearthly glare over the ship's tafferel, and showed us
our new and unexpected enemy It was the pirate's boat, which she had
dropped during the partial obscurity I spoke of, intending to board
us a-head herself, while the boat's crew attacked us astern. It was
fortunate that we happened to hear them--three minutes more and nothing
could have saved us. There was a set of the most ferocious-looking
desperadoes I had ever seen, armed to the teeth; and the boat (a large
one) was crowded with them. Deadly was the effect of our fire. Four or
five of the men at the oars were tumbled over on their faces; but their
places were instantly supplied by others, who, with loud yells for
revenge, bent desperately to their oars. In a few minutes the boat shot
up under the mizen-chains, while the bullets that were raining down upon
them from above only rendered them more desperate. The living trampled
upon the dying and the dead, in their eagerness to board; and, in a
thick swarm, the blood-thirsty scoundrels came yelling over the
bulwarks. A sharp and well-directed fire staggered them for a moment,
and sent several of them to their last account. We now threw aside the
muskets, for cutlasses and tomahawks. Hand to hand, foot to foot,
desperate and deadly was the struggle.

"Down with them, my lads!" shouted Rose. "Hew the blood-thirsty villains
to pieces. No quarter! no quarter!--show them such mercy as they would
show you!"

Short and bloody was the conflict; several of the pirates had been
killed, the deck was slippery with blood, and the rest were keeping
their ground with difficulty. I had a long and severe hand-to-hand fight
with one of them. We had each received desperate wounds, when his foot
slipped on the bloody deck. I gave him a severe stroke on the head with
a tomahawk, and, after a deadly struggle on the gangway, tumbled him
backwards overboard. The moon shone bright out at the moment, and fell
full upon his face. Merciful heaven!--my brain reeled, I staggered
against a gun, and became insensible--that face, Mr. Stewart, haunts my
dreams to this hour with its ghastly, despairing expression. It was the
long-lost Henry's--I was my brother's murderer! (Here the poor fellow
hid his face in his hands, and groaned with agony. I pitied him from my
heart; but I knew that sorrow such as his "will not be comforted" in the
moment of its strength; so I sat in silence beside him, till his first
burst of grief was over, and then I endeavoured calmly and coolly to
reason with him on the subject, and to persuade him, by all the
arguments I could think of, that he had no cause to reproach himself
with what had happened).

"It is kindly meant of you, Mr. Stewart (said he, mournfully shaking
his head), kindly meant, but in vain! I know that I was only acting
in self-defence--that it was life against life--that I was perfectly
justified, in the eyes of men, in taking the life of him who would have
taken mine--but I cannot drive that last despairing look from my memory.
I feel as if my brother's blood were crying out against my soul. O my
poor Harry! would that the blow had fallen on my head instead of
thine!--would that I had had time to tell thee how fondly I loved thee,
how freely I forgave thee!

But I beg pardon, Mr. Stewart;--I must go on with my tale. Ten of the
pirates were lying dead on the deck, and five of our poor fellows; the
bodies of the former were immediately thrown overboard, and the others
were laid side by side amidships, till we could find time to give them
Christian burial. Our last lucky shot had prevented the pirate from
carrying the other part of his scheme into effect: the moon was now
shining out full and clear, and by her light we saw that her throat
halyards had been shot away, and her main-sail was flapping over the
quarter; there were hands aloft, reaving new halyards, and busily
employed about the mast-head, as if it were crippled. "We have had
fighting enough for one bout," said Captain Rose; "we must run for it
now." Our main-top-gallant mast was hanging over the side, and our sails
were riddled with the schooner's shot; she had evidently been firing
high, to disable us, that she might carry us by boarding. We clapped on
all the sail we could, served out grog to the men, and lay down at our
quarters. We were not suffered to remain at peace long: the moment the
schooner perceived our intention, she edged away after us, and having
repaired her damage, set her main-sail again; and, as the wind was still
light, with the assistance of her remaining sweeps, came crawling up
again in-shore of us. "Scoundrels!" muttered the captain, "they will
stick to us like leeches as long as there is a drop of blood left on
board."

Again we saw the flash of her gun, and the smoke curling white in the
moonbeam. The shot told with fatal effect; our main-top-sail-yard
creaked, bent, and snapped in the slings, falling forward in two pieces.

The loud cheers of the pirate crew came faintly over the water; but our
brave fellows, nothing daunted, responded to them heartily.

"They have winged us, my lads!" said our gallant captain; "but we will
die game at all events." The men answered him with another cheer, and
swore they would go to the bottom rather than yield. We blazed away at
the schooner, but in vain; she had been severely taught to respect us;
our shot fell far short, while she, with her long metal, kept dropping
shot after shot into us with deadly precision. We tried to close with
her; but she saw her advantage, and kept it; all that we could do was to
stand steadily on, the men lying down under the shelter of the bulwarks.
A faint dull sound now fell upon our ears, like the report of a distant
gun. "Thank heaven!" said I, "our guns have spoken to some purpose; some
of the cruisers have taken the alarm." We immediately burnt a blue
light, and threw up a couple of rockets. In a few minutes a shout of
joy burst from the crew, a small glimmering star appeared in the
distance, which flickered for a moment, and then increased to a strong,
steady, glaring, light; at the same time, we heard a second report, much
nearer and clearer than before. Alarmed at the near approach of the
stranger, which was now distinctly visible, standing towards us under a
press of sail, the pirate, determined to have another brush with us,
bore up, and closed with us. But we were prepared for him; he was
evidently staggered by our warm reception; and, giving us a parting
broadside, hove round, stood in under the dark shadow of the land, and
we soon lost sight of him.

The stranger proved to be H.M. sloop Porcupine. She hove to when she
neared us, and sent a boat on board. She had heard the report of our
guns, and hastened to the scene of action, just in the very nick of time
to save us. The lieutenant complimented the captain and crew on their
gallant defence, and hastened on board the sloop again, to make his
report. The boat soon returned, with a gang of hands to assist in
repairing our damages; and on the evening of the next day, we were
safely at anchor. When the excitement of the action was over, the pain
of my wounds and the agitation of my mind brought on a violent attack of
fever. During my delirium, the vision of my dying brother was ever
before me; and in my madness I twice made an attempt upon my own life.
At length the goodness of my constitution triumphed over the violence of
my disorder; but my peace of mind was gone for ever. My worthy friend,
the captain, to whom I confided my story, did everything in his power to
rouse me from my sorrow, and to reconcile me to myself; but in vain. The
sight of my brother had recalled the vivid recollection of by-gone
scenes, which I had been for years steeling my heart to forget; my
spirit was broken, I became listless and indifferent, and no longer felt
any interest in my profession. I did my duty, to be sure; but it was
mechanically--from the force of habit. Captain Rose was ceaseless in his
kindness. When, on our return home, I expressed my determination not to
go to sea again, he represented my conduct during the action, and on
other occasions, in such glowing terms, to the owners, that they settled
a small annuity upon me, in consideration of the wounds I had received
in their service. It was with the deepest regret I took leave of my
worthy friend and captain.

"I can never forget," said he, "that, but for you, my children would
have been fatherless, my wife a widow; whenever you need the assistance
of a friend, Douglas, apply to me with as much confidence as to a
brother."

He then offered to evince his regard in a more substantial manner, which
I firmly but gratefully declined. I wrote to him afterwards, telling him
that I had settled in this neighbourhood, and requesting him to make
arrangements that my annuity might be made payable to a certain firm in
Glasgow. In reply, he wrote me a long and affectionate letter. It was
the first and last I ever had from him; he died soon afterwards. It is
now five years since I took up my abode here, and I feel the weakness
and infirmities of age creeping fast upon me. Oh! how happily will I lay
down the weary load of life!

"Douglas," said I, when he had finished his story, "you certainly have
had grievous sorrows and trials; but you have borne them nobly, except
in wilfully attaching the odium of crime to the unfortunate
circumstances of your brother's death."

"Would that I could think as you do!" said he.

We parted: and four years elapsed before we met again. I had, in
the meantime, commenced practice as a surgeon in Glasgow, and my
professional avocations kept me too constantly employed to allow of my
leaving the town. At last, after a severe attack of illness, I was
recommended to go to the sea-side for a few months; and my thoughts
immediately recurred to my old friend. I took a lodging in Rothesay, and
next morning went down to the beach, where I saw the old man just
preparing to put off.

"Here I am again, Douglas," said I.

"Sir!" replied he, looking at me at first doubtingly, for illness had
greatly reduced me. "Ah! Mr. Stewart, is that you? I thought you had
forgotten me."

"Then you did me injustice, Douglas; I have often and often regretted
that the pressure of business prevented my visiting you again. By the
by, I was reminded of you in rather an extraordinary way lately."

"How was that, sir?"

"On my way down here, a few days since, the steamer touched at Greenock.
I was standing on the quay when a poor fellow, a passenger in a vessel
just arrived, fell from the gangway, and was taken up insensible. I
immediately bled him; and, seeing that he appeared to be seriously
injured, I determined, as I had no other particular call upon my time,
to remain beside him till he recovered. I had him carried to a small
lodging in the neighbourhood, where he soon partially recovered; and,
having prescribed for him, I left him, desiring that I might be sent for
if any change took place. During the night he had a violent attack of
fever. I was sent for; when I arrived, I found him delirious; he was
raving about Cuba, and ships, and pirates, and fifty other things that
immediately recalled you to my remembrance. When he came to his senses
again--

"'Doctor! tell me the truth,' said he: 'am I not dying?'

"'No,' replied I; 'your present symptoms are favourable; everything
depends upon your keeping your mind and body quiet.'

"'Quiet mind!' muttered he, with a bitter smile on his countenance. 'It
is not that I fear death, doctor; I think I could willingly depart in
peace, if I had but been allowed time to find the person whom I came to
Scotland in search of.'

"'And who is that?'

"'A fisherman at Rothesay.'

"He mentioned the name; but at this moment I forget it. Let me see--it
was--ay, it was Ponsonby--Charles Ponsonby."

Douglas started, and turned pale.

"Ponsonby!" exclaimed he; "that was _my_ name, my father's name! Who can
he be? Perhaps some old shipmate of poor Harry's. I will go directly and
see him." And he turned as if to depart.

"Gently, gently, my friend," said I, detaining him; "I must go with
you. When I left the poor fellow under the charge of a medical man at
Greenock, he was greatly better; but he had received some severe
internal injury, and he cannot live long. A sudden surprise might hasten
his death. I must go with you to prevent accidents."

We went on board the next steamer that started, and in two hours we
landed at Greenock. I led the way to the small lodging in which I had
left my patient; and leaving Douglas at the door, went in to inquire
into the state of the sufferer's health, and to prepare him for
his visitor. I found him asleep; but his was not the slumber that
refreshes--the restless and unquiet spirit within was disturbing the
rest of the fevered and fatigued body. His flushed cheek lay upon one
arm, while his other was every now and then convulsively raised above
his head, and his lips moved with indistinct mutterings.

"He is asleep," said I to Douglas; "we must wait till he awakens."

"Oh, let me look at him," said he; "it can do no harm. He must be an old
shipmate of poor Harry's; perhaps he has some memento of him for me."

"Very well," said I; "you may come in; but make as little noise as
possible."

We walked up gently to the bed; Douglas looked earnestly at the sleeper,
and, suddenly raising his clasped hands, he exclaimed--

"Merciful heaven! it is Henry himself!"

The poor patient started with a wild and fevered look.

"Who called me? I thought I heard Charles' voice! Where am I? Give way
in the boat!--oh, spare me, spare me, Charles!--Fire!--Down with them!
Hurra!"--And, waving his hands above his head, he sunk down again on has
bed, exhausted.

He soon fell into a deep slumber, which lasted for some hours. I was
sitting by his bedside when he awoke.

"How do you feel now?" said I.

"O doctor! I am dying. I have been dreaming: I thought I heard the voice
of one I have deeply injured--nay, I dreamt I _saw_ him; but changed,
how changed!--and I--I have been the cause of it."

Here he was interrupted by the smothered sobs of poor Douglas, or
Charles, as I now must call him.

"Who is that? there is somebody else in the room," said he; and,
drawing the curtain aside, he saw his brother. "Then it was no dream! O
Charles!" and, turning round, he buried his face in the pillow. Douglas
sprang forward, and, throwing himself on the bed, gave way to a violent
burst of emotion.

"Henry! dear Henry! look at me--it _is_ your brother, Henry!"

The dying man groaned. "I cannot look you in the face, Charles," said
he, "till you say you have forgiven me."

"Forgiven you!" replied the other; "bless you! bless you, Henry! if you
did but know the load of remorse that the sight of you has relieved me
from! Thank heaven I was _not_ your murderer!"

"And can you forget the past, Charles?" said Henry. "Do not my ears
deceive me? Do you really forgive me?"

"Freely, fully, from my heart!" was the reply; "the joy of meeting you
again, even thus, repays me for all I have suffered."

"O Charles!" again ejaculated Henry, "you were always generous and
forgiving; but this is more than I expected from you."

I was now going to leave the room; but my patient, noticing my
intention, begged me to remain.

"Stay, doctor, and listen to my confession; concealment is no longer
necessary, for I feel that the hand of death is upon me, and that, in a
few short hours, my career of sin, and shame, and sorrow, will be at an
end."

"My poor fellow," said I, "I have heard the first part of your story
from your brother; you had better defer the remainder till you have
recovered from your present agitation; I will come again to-morrow."

"To-morrow, sir!" said he; "where may I be before to-morrow? Oh, let me
speak now, while time and strength are allowed. It will do me good, sir;
it will relieve my mind, and be a comfort to my troubled spirit."

Feeling that he was right, I seated myself, while he thus commenced his
tale:--

"You remember, Charles, our last sad parting--when we stood"----

"Mention it not, Harry!" groaned his brother--"there is agony in the
recollection. Poor Julia!"

"When I left you, I was maddened with sorrow and remorse; all night long
I wandered about in a state of distraction, and, when morning dawned, I
fell down by the roadside, overcome with fatigue and misery. How long I
lay I know not; when I awoke, the sun was high in the heaven; and,
during one brief moment of forgetfulness, I rejoiced in his brightness.
Alas! it was but for a moment; my guilty love, my treachery, my loss,
all flashed upon my mind at once, and I started to my feet, and hurried
madly onwards, as if I hoped, by the rapidity of my movements, to escape
from my own thoughts. Hunger at last compelled me to enter a small
public-house, where I fell in with a poor sailor, who was on his way to
Liverpool in search of a ship. The sight of this man turned my thoughts
into another channel. 'Double-dyed traitor that I am,' muttered I,
'England is no longer a home for me. She for whose love I broke a
father's heart and betrayed a brother's confidence, has been torn from
me; and what more have I to live for here?' My mind was made up.

"'My lad,' said I to the sailor, 'if you have no objection, we will
travel together; I am bound to Liverpool myself.'

"'With all my heart,' said he; 'I like to sail in company.'

"I engaged to work my passage out before the mast, in a ship bound
to Jamaica, intending to turn my education to some account there if
possible, or, at all events, to remain there as long as my money lasted.
When I saw the shores of my native land sink in the distance, I felt
that I was a forlorn and miserable outcast--that the last link was
severed that bound me to existence. A dark change came over me; a spirit
of desperation and reckless indifference; a longing wish to end my
miseries at once. I strove against the evil spirit; and for a while
succeeded. On our arrival at Kingston, I endeavoured in vain to obtain
employment; my stock of money was fast decreasing; and when that was
gone, where was I to turn for more? Poverty and wretchedness threatened
me from without; remorse was busy within. 'Why should I bear this weary
load of life?' said I, as I madly paced the shore, 'when one bold plunge
would bury it for ever?'

"I threw myself headlong into the water; and, though an excellent
swimmer, I resolutely kept my face beneath the surface; yes, with
desperate determination, I strove to _force_ myself into the presence of
that dread Being whom I had so grievously offended. When I came to my
senses again, I was lying on a part of the beach I was unacquainted
with; a tall, handsome, dark-featured young man, was bending over me,
and, within a few yards of where I lay, a small light boat was drawn up
on the shore.

"'So you have opened your eyes at last, my friend,' said the man; 'you
have had a narrow squeak for it. When I dragged you out of the water,
like a drowned rat, I thought all was over with you. Have you as many
lives as a cat that you can afford to throw away _one_ in such a foolish
manner?'

"'Life! I am sick of it,' answered I.

"'Well,' said he, 'if that is the case, why not throw it away like a
man, among men? Come with me, and I will furnish you with active
employment to drive the devil out of your mind. But here, before we
start, take some of the cordial to cheer you.'

"I was chilled and exhausted, and took a hearty draught. I felt its
warmth steal through my frame--it mounted to my brain--I laughed aloud;
I felt that I was equal to any act of desperation. Alas! I little knew
the snare I was falling into. We launched the boat and sprang into it;
and my companion, seizing the oars, pulled rapidly along the beach.
After rowing some distance, we saw a light glimmering amid the bushes;
it was now nearly dusk; my companion lay on his oars, and gave a long,
low, peculiar whistle, which was immediately answered. He then ran the
boat ashore; two men sprang in, who relieved him at the oars; and we
again held on our way. There was a great deal of conversation carried on
in a low tone; and from what I heard of it, half tipsy as I was, I
inferred that my companion, whom the other men addressed with great
respect, was a naval officer on some secret duty. Just as we were
crossing the mouth of a narrow creek, a light four-oared gig dashed out
after us, a voice hailed us in English to lie on our oars, and, when we
still held on our course, a musket ball whizzed over us, to enforce
obedience.

"'The piratical rascals!' exclaimed the young man; 'if they lay hold of
us, we are all dead men.' 'Here!' continued he, seizing a musket, which
lay in the stern sheets, and giving me another, 'fire for your life!'

"I was half mad with fever, and the effects of my late draught; and,
under the persuasion that our lives were in danger, I fired. The bowman
of the gig fell, and we rapidly left her. We came at last to a narrow
lagune, close to the low shore of which lay a small schooner at anchor,
with sails bent, and every preparation for a start.

"'Welcome on board the little Spitfire, my man!' said the young
stranger; 'we want hands--will you ship?'

"'What colours do you sail under,' replied I.

"'Oh, not particular to a shade,' said he; 'any that happens to suit us
for the time being: black is rather a favourite.'

"'Black!' exclaimed I; 'I thought you were king's men. I won't go with
you.'

"'It is too late, my lad--go you must! Besides, there is no safety for
you on shore now; you shot one of the crew of the cruiser's gig, and
they will have life for life, depend upon it.'

"The whole horror of my situation now burst upon me. I was in a fearful
strait; but I made up my mind at once, to deceive the pirates, by
appearing to be contented with my situation, and to take advantage of
the first opportunity that presented itself to escape.

"'Well,' said I, 'if that's the case, I had better die fighting bravely
like a man, than hang like a dog from the yard-arm of a man-of-war.'

"'Bravely said, my hearty!' replied the young leader; 'but we must be
moving--the blue jackets will be after us; that shot of yours will bring
the whole hornet's nest about our ears.'

"We got under way; and, after rounding the east end of Jamaica, we stood
away for the Cuba shore. The very first time we came to an anchor, I
made an attempt to escape; I had saved part of my provisions for some
days before, and concealed it, in readiness to take with me. We were
lying close to the shore, and the darkness of the night would, I
thought, conceal my movements; I was just slipping over the schooner's
side, to swim ashore, when I felt a touch upon my shoulder, and, turning
round, a dark lantern flashed in my face, and I saw the young pirate
standing beside me. He held a cocked pistol to my head. 'One touch of
this trigger,' said he, 'and you would require no more looking after. My
eye has been upon you all along; you cannot escape me; do not attempt it
again--the consequences may be fatal.'

"From that hour I was aware that I was constantly and narrowly watched.
Except in the one instance of the gig's man, whom I had fired at under
a delusion, it was my good fortune as yet to have escaped imbruing my
hands in blood. During the action with the Albion, I was sent in the
boat, under the particular charge of the mate. 'Keep your eye on this
fellow,' said the captain; 'If he flinches for a moment, blow his brains
out instantly; we must _glue him_ to us with blood. I will keep her in
play till you creep alongside; and, once on board, cut every one down
before you--give no quarter.'

"My blood ran cold at this horrible order, and I determined upon doing
all in my power to counteract its execution. I was delighted when you
discovered our approach and the blue light flashed from your stern; for
I dreaded the scene of massacre that must have ensued, if we had
boarded you unawares. I sprang on deck with the rest, in hopes that I
might be able to prevent some bloodshed; but, when I was violently
attacked, my passions were aroused, and I fought desperately for my
life. Just as you tumbled me over the gangway, the gleam of moonshine
showed me your face. I recognised you immediately; and, when I rose to
the surface of the water again after my plunge, I blessed heaven that I
had been spared the guilt of murder. I reached the boat which was still
hanging under your quarter, cut the painter, and in the confusion,
escaped unnoticed. I immediately made for the shore; and after many
hair-breadth escapes from my old associates, I volunteered on board one
of the cruisers on the Jamaica station. At length she returned home, the
crew were paid off, and I determined to seek you out. On inquiring at
the office of the owners of the Albion, in Liverpool, they told me that
the late chief mate had settled, some years before, in the neighbourhood
of Rothesay, in the Isle of Bute, and was still alive. Thank heaven! I
have found you at last! I should like to live, Charles, to prove to you
my sorrow and repentance for the past; but, as heaven has willed it
otherwise, the blessed assurance of your forgiveness will lighten death
of half its terrors."

The poor fellow breathed his last a few days afterwards. Douglas mourned
long and deeply for his brother's death; but after time had soothed his
grief, he became quite an altered man. His mind and spirits recovered
their elasticity, after the load which had so long weighed them down
was removed. He did not resume his own name; but lived many years
afterwards, contented and happy, in the humble station of a fisherman;
and it was not till after his death that his old companions discovered
how justly the name of "Gentleman Douglas" had been applied to him. His
tombstone bore the simple inscription, "Charles Douglas Ponsonby,
eldest son of the late Reverend T. Ponsonby."

I often wander, in the calm summer evenings, to the quiet churchyard,
and return a sadder, but, I hope, a better man, after meditating upon
the troublous and adventurous life, and peaceful and Christian death of
the ROTHESAY FISHERMAN.



LEAVES
FROM
THE DIARY OF AN AGED SPINSTER.


The poet of THE ELEGY _par excellence_, hath written two lines, which
run thus--

    "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
     And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

Now, I never can think of these lines but they remind me of the tender,
delicate, living, breathing, and neglected flowers that bud, blossom,
shed their leaves, and die, in cold unsunned obscurity--flowers that
were formed to shed their fragrance around a man's heart, and to charm
his eye--but which, though wandering melancholy and alone in the
wilderness where they grow, he passeth by with neglect, making a
companion of his loneliness. But, to drop all metaphor--where will you
find a flower more interesting than a spinster of threescore and ten, of
sixty, of fifty, or of forty? They have, indeed, "wasted their sweetness
on the desert air." Some call them "old maids;" but it is a malicious
appellation, unless it can be proved that they have refused to be wives.
I would always take the part of a spinster; they are a peculiar people,
far more "sinned against than sinning." Every blockhead thinks himself
at liberty to crack a joke upon them; and when he says something, that
he conceives to be wondrous smart, about Miss Such-an-One and her cat or
poodle dog, he conceives himself a marvellous clever fellow; yea, even
those of her own sex who are below what is called a "certain age" (what
that age is, I cannot tell), think themselves privileged to giggle at
the expense of their elder sister. Now, though there may be a degree of
peevishness (and it is not to be wondered at) amongst the sisterhood,
yet with them you will find the most sensitive tenderness of heart,
a delicacy that quivers, like the aspen leaf, at a breath, and a
kindliness of soul that a mother might envy--or rather, for envy, shall
I not write _imitate_? But ah! if their history were told, what a
chronicle would it exhibit of blighted affections, withered hearts,
secret tears, and midnight sighs!

The first spinster of whom I have a particular remembrance, as belonging
to her caste, was Diana Darling. It is now six and twenty years since
Diana paid the debt of nature, up to which period, and for a few years
before, she rented a room in Chirnside. It was only a year or two before
her death that I became acquainted with her; and I was then very young.
But I never shall forget her kindness towards me. She treated me as
though I had been her own child, or rather her grandchild, for she was
then very little under seventy years of age. She had always an air of
gentility about her; people called her "a betterish sort o' body." And,
although _Miss_ and _Mistress_ are becoming general appellations now,
twenty or thirty years ago, upon the Borders, those titles were only
applied to particular persons or on particular occasions; and whether
their more frequent use now is to be attributed to the schoolmaster
being abroad or the dancing-master being abroad, I cannot tell, but
Diana Darling, although acknowledged to be a "betterish sort o' body,"
never was spoken of by any other term but "auld Diana," or "auld Die."
Well do I remember her flowing chintz gown, with short sleeves, her
snow-white apron, her whiter cap, and old kid gloves, reaching to her
elbows; and as well do I remember how she took one of the common _blue
cakes_ which washer-women use, and tying it up in a piece of woollen
cloth, dipped it in water, and daubed it round and round the walls of
her room, to give them the appearance of being papered. I have often
heard of and seen _stenciling_ since; but, rude as the attempt was, I am
almost persuaded that Diana was the first who put it in practice. To
keep up gentility putteth people to strange shifts, and often to
ridiculous ones--and to both of these extremities she was driven. But I
have hinted that she was a kind-hearted creature; and, above all, do I
remember her for the fine old ballads which she sang to me. But there
was one that was an especial favourite with her, and a verse of which,
if I remember correctly, ran thus--

    "Fie, Lizzy Lindsay!
       Sae lang in the mornins ye lie,
     Mair fit ye was helping yer minny
       To milk a' the ewes and the kye."

Diana, however, was a woman of some education; and to a relative she
left a sort of history of her life, from which the following is an
extract:--

"My father died before I was eighteen (so began Diana's narrative), and
he left five of us--that is, my mother, two sisters, a brother, and
myself--five hundred pounds a-piece. My sisters were both younger than
me; but, within six years after our father's death, they both got
married; and my brother, who was only a year older than myself, left the
house also, and took a wife, so that there was nobody but me and my
mother left. Everybody thought there was something very singular in
this; for it was not natural that the youngest should be taken and the
auldest left; and, besides, it was acknowledged that I was the best
faured,[C] and the best tempered in the family; and there could be no
dispute but that my siller was as good as theirs.

  [C] Best-looking, or most beautiful.

I must confess, however, that, when I was but a lassie o' sixteen, I had
drawn up wi' one James Laidlaw--but I should score out the word _one_,
and just say that I had drawn up wi' _James Laidlaw_. He was a year, or
maybe three, aulder than me, and I kenned him when he was just a laddie,
at Mr. Wh----'s school in Dunse; but I took no notice o' him then in
particular, and, indeed, I never did, until one day that I was an errand
down by Kimmerghame, and I met James just coming out frae the gardens.
It was the summer season, and he had a posie in his hand, and a very
bonny posie it was. 'Here's a fine day, Diana,' says he. 'Yes, it is,'
says I.

So we said nae mair for some time; but he keepit walking by my side, and
at last he said--'What do ye think o' this posie?' 'It is very bonny,
James,' said I. 'I think sae,' quoth he; 'and if ye will accept it,
there should naebody be mair welcome to it.' 'Ou, I thank ye,' said I,
and I blushed in a way--'why should ye gie me it?' 'Never mind,' says
he, 'tak it for auld acquaintance sake--we were at the school together.'

So I took the flowers, and James keepit by my side, and cracked to me a'
the way to my mother's door, and I cracked to him--and I really wondered
that the road between Kimmerghame and Dunse had turned sae short. It
wasna half the length that it used to be, or what I thought it ought to
be.

But I often saw James Laidlaw after this; and somehow or other I aye met
him just as I was coming out o' the kirk, and weel do I recollect that,
one Sabbath in particular, he said to me--'Diana, will ye no come out
and tak a walk after ye get your dinner?' 'I dinna ken, James,' says
I; 'I doubt I daurna, for our folk are very particular, and baith my
faither and my mother are terribly against onything like gaun about
stravaigin on the Sundays.' 'Oh, they need never ken where ye're gaun,'
says he. 'Weel, I'll try,' says I, for by this time I had a sort o'
liking for James. 'Then,' said he, 'I'll be at the Penny Stane at four
o'clock.' 'Very weel,' quoth I.

And, although baith my faither and mother said to me, as I was gaun
out--'Where are ye gaun, lassie?'--'Oh, no very far,' said I; and, at
four o'clock, I met James at the Penny Stane. I shall never forget the
grip that he gied my hand when he took it in his, and said--

'Ye hae been as good as your word, Diana.'

We wandered awa doun by Wedderburn dyke, till we came to the Blackadder,
and then we sauntered down by the river side, till we were opposite
Kelloe--and, oh, it was a pleasant afternoon. Everything round about us,
aboon us, and among our feet, seemed to ken it was Sunday--everything
but James and me. The laverock was singing in the blue lift--the
blackbirds were whistling in the hedges--the mavis chaunted its loud
sang frae the bushes on the braes--the lennerts[D] were singing and
chirming among the whins--and the shelfa[E] absolutely seemed to follow
ye wi' its three notes over again, in order that ye might learn them.

  [D] Linnets

  [E] Chaffinch

It was the happiest afternoon I ever spent. James grat, and I grat. I
got a scolding frae my faither and my mother when I gaed hame, and they
demanded to ken where I had been; but the words that James had spoken to
me bore me up against their reproaches.

Weel, it was very shortly (I daresay not six months after my faither's
death), that James called at my mother's, and as he said, to bid us
_farewell!_ He took my mother's hand--I mind I saw him raise it to his
lips, while the tears were on his cheeks; and he was also greatly put
about to part wi' my sisters; but to me he said--

'Ye'll set me down a bit, Diana.'

He was to take the coach for Liverpool--or at least, a coach to take him
on the road to that town, the next day; and from there he was to proceed
to the West Indies, to meet an uncle who was to make him his heir.

I went out wi' him, and we wandered away down by our auld walks; but,
oh, he said little, and he sighed often, and his heart was sad. But mine
was as sad as his, and I could say as little as him. I winna, I canna
write a' the words and the vows that passed. He took the chain frae his
watch, and it was o' the best gold, and he also took a pair o' Bibles
frae his pocket, and he put the watch chain and the Bibles into my hand,
and--'Diana,' said he, 'take these, dear--keep them for the sake o' your
poor James, and, as often as ye see them, think on him.' I took them,
and wi' the tears running down my cheeks--'O James,' cried I, 'this is
hard!--hard!'

Twice, ay thrice, we bade each other '_farewell_,' and thrice, after he
had parted frae me, he cam running back again, and, throwing his arms
round my neck, cried--

'Diana! I canna leave ye!--promise me that ye will never marry onybody
else!'

And thrice I promised him that I wouldna.

But he gaed awa, and my only consolation was looking at the Bibles, on
one o' the white leaves o' the first volume o' which I found written, by
his own hand, '_James Laidlaw and Diana Darling vowed, that, if they
were spared, they would become man and wife; and that neither time,
distance, nor circumstances, should dissolve their plighted troth.
Dated, May 25th, 17--_.'

These were cheering words to me; and I lived on them for years, even
after my younger sisters were married, and I had ceased to hear from
him. And, during that time, for his sake, I had declined offers which my
friends said I was waur than foolish to reject. At least half a dozen
good matches I let slip through my hands, and a' for the love o' James
Laidlaw who was far awa, and the vows he had plighted to me by the side
o' the Blackadder. And, although he hadna written to me for some years,
I couldna think that ony man could be so wicked as to write words o'
falsehood and bind them up in the volume o' everlasting truth.

But, about ten years after he had gane awa, James Laidlaw came back to
our neighbourhood; but he wasna the same lad he left--for he was now a
dark-complexioned man, and he had wi' him a mulatto woman, and three
bairns that called him _faither!_ He was no longer my James!

My mother was by this time dead, and I expected naething but that the
knowledge o' his faithlessness would kill me too--for I had clung to
hope till the last straw was broken.

I met him once during his stay in the country, and, strange to tell, it
was within a hundred yards o' the very spot where I first foregathered
wi' him, when he offered me the posie.

'Ha! Die!' said he, 'my old girl, are you still alive? I'm glad to see
you. Is the old woman, your mother, living yet?' I was ready to faint,
my heart throbbed as though it would have burst. A' the trials I had
ever had were naething to this; and he continued--'Why, if I remember
right, there was once something like an old flame between you and me.'
'O James! James!' said I, 'do you remember the words ye wrote in the
Bible, and the vows that ye made me by the side of the Blackadder?'
'Ha! ha!' said he, and he laughed, 'you are there, are you? I do mind
something of it. But, Die, I did not think that a girl like you would
have been such a fool as to remember what a boy said to her.'

I would have spoken to him again; but I remembered he was the husband
of another woman--though she was a mulatto--an' I hurried away as fast
as my fainting heart would permit. I had but one consolation, and that
was, that, though he had married another, naebody could compare her face
wi' mine.

But it was lang before I got the better o' this sair slight--ay, I may
say it was ten years and mair; and I had to try to pingle and find a
living upon the interest o' my five hundred pounds, wi' ony other thing
that I could turn my hand to in a genteel sort o' way.

I was now getting on the wrang side o' eight and thirty; and that is an
age when it isna prudent in a spinister to be throwing the pouty side o'
her lip to any decent lad that hauds out his hand, and says--'Jenny,
will ye tak me?' Often and often, baith by day and by night, did I think
o' the good bargains I had lost, for the sake o' my fause James Laidlaw;
and often, when I saw some o' them that had come praying to me, pass me
on a Sunday, having their wives wi' their hands half round their waist
on the horse behint them--'O James! fause James!' I have said, 'but for
trusting to you, and it would hae been me that would this day been
riding behint Mr. ----.'

But I had still five hundred pounds, and sic fend as I could make, to
help what they brought to me. And, about this time, there was one that
had the character of being a very respectable sort o' a lad, one Walter
Sanderson; he was a farmer, very near about my own age, and altogether a
most prepossessing and intelligent young man. I first met wi' him at my
youngest sister's goodman's kirn,[F] and I must say, a better or a more
gracefu' dancer I never saw upon a floor. He had neither the jumping o'
a mountebank, nor the sliding o' a play-actor, but there was an ease in
his carriage which I never saw equalled. I was particularly struck wi'
him, and especially his dancing; and it so happened that he was no less
struck wi' me. I thought he looked even better than James Laidlaw used
to do--but at times I had doubts about it. However, he had stopped all
the night at my brother-in-law's as weel as mysel; and when I got up to
gang hame the next day, he said he would bear me company. I thanked him,
and said I was obliged to him, never thinking that he would attempt such
a thing. But, just as the pony was brought out for me to ride on (and
the callant was to come up to Dunse for it at night), Mr. Walter
Sanderson mounted his horse, and says he--

'Now, wi' your permission, Miss Darling, I will see you hame.'

  [F] Harvest Home.

It would hae been very rude o' me to hae said--'No, I thank you, sir,'
and especially at my time o' life, wi' twa younger sisters married that
had families; so I blushed, as it were, and giein my powny a twitch, he
sprang on to his saddle, and came trotting along by my side. He was very
agreeable company; and, when he said, 'I shall be most happy to pay you
a visit, Miss Darling,' I didna think o' what I had said, until after
that I had answered him, 'I shall be very happy to see ye, sir.' And
when I thought o' it my very cheek bones burned wi' shame.

But, howsoever, Mr. Sanderson was not long in calling again--and often
he did call, and my sisters and their guid-men began to jeer me about
him. Weel, he called and called, for I daresay as good as three quarters
of a year; and he was sae backward and modest a' the time that I thought
him a very remarkable man; indeed, I began to think him every way
superior to James Laidlaw.

But at last he made proposals--I consented--the wedding-day was set, and
we had been cried in the kirk. It was the fair day, just two days before
we were to be married, and he came into the house, and, after he had
been seated a while, and cracked in his usual kind way--

'Oh,' says he, 'what a bargain I hae missed the day! There are four lots
o' cattle in the market, and I might hae cleared four hundred pounds,
cent. per cent., by them.'

'Losh me! Walter, then,' says I, 'why didna ye do it? How did ye let sic
a bargain slip through your fingers?'

'Woman,' said he, 'I dinna ken; but a man that is to be married within
eight and forty hours is excusable. I came to the Fair without any
thought o' either buying or selling--but just to see you, Diana--and I
kenned there wasna meikle siller necessary for that.'

'Losh, Walter, man,' said I, 'but that is a pity--and ye say ye could
mak cent. per cent. by the beasts?'

''Deed could I,' quoth he--'I am sure o' that.'

'Then, Walter,' says I, 'what is mine the day is to be yours the morn, I
may say; and it would be a pity to lose sic a bargain.'

Therefore I put into his hands an order on a branch bank, that had been
established in Dunse, for every farthing that I was worth in the world,
and Walter kissed me, and went out to get the money frae the bank and
buy the cattle.

But he hadna been out an hour, when ane o' my brothers-in-law called,
and I thought he looked unco dowie. So I began to tell him about the
excellent bargain that Walter had made, and what I had done. But the man
started frae his seat as if he were crazed, and, without asking me ony
questions, he only cried--'Gracious! Diana! hae ye been sic an idiot?'
and, rushing out o' the house, ran to the bank.

He left me in a state that I canna describe; I neither kenned what to do
nor what to think. But within half an hour he returned, and he cried out
as he entered--'Diana, ye are ruined! He has taken in you and everybody
else. The villain broke yesterday. He is off! Ye may bid fare weel to
your siller!' 'Wha is off?' cried I, and I was in sic a state I was
hardly able to speak. 'Walter Sanderson!' answered my brother-in-law.

I believe I went into hysterics; for the first thing I mind o' after his
saying so, was a dozen people standing round about me--some slapping at
the palms o' my hands, and others laving water on my breast and temples,
until they had me as wet as if they had douked me in Pollock's Well.

I canna tell how I stood up against this clap o' misery. It was near
getting the better o' me. For a time I really hated the very name and
the sight o' man, and I said, as the song says, that

    'Men are a' deceivers.'

But this was not the worst o' it--I had lost my all, and I was now
forced into the acquaintanceship of poverty and dependence. I first went
to live under the roof o' my youngest sister, who had always been my
favourite; but, before six months went round, I found that she began to
treat me just as though I had been a servant, ordering me to do this
and do the other; and sometimes my dinner was sent ben to me into the
kitchen; and the servant lassies, seeing how their mistress treated me,
considered that they should be justified in doing the same--and they did
the same. Many a weary time have I lain down upon my bed and wished
never to rise again, for my spirit was weary o' this world. But I put up
wi' insult after insult, until flesh and blood could endure it no
longer. Then did I go to my other sister, and she hardly opened her
mouth to me as I entered her house. I saw that I might gang where I
liked--I wasna welcome there. Before I had been a week under her roof, I
found that the herd's dog led a lady's life to mine. I was forced to
leave her too.

And, as a sort o' last alternative, just to keep me in existence, I
began a bit shop in a neighbouring town, and took in sewing and washing;
and, after I had tried them awhile, and found that they would hardly
do, I commenced a bit school, at the advice of the minister's wife, and
learned bairns their letters and the catechism, and knitting and sewing.
I also taught them (for they were a' girls) how to work their samplers,
and to write, and to cast accounts. But what vexed and humbled me more
than all I had suffered, was, that one night, just after I had let my
scholars away, an auld hedger and ditcher body, almost sixty years o'
age, came into the house, and 'How's a' wi' ye the nicht?' says he,
though I had never spoken to the man before. But he took off his bonnet,
and, pulling in a chair, drew a seat to the fire. I was thunderstruck!
But I was yet mair astonished and ashamed, when the auld body, sleeking
down his hair and his chin, had the assurance to make love to me!

'There is the door, sir!' cried I. And when he didna seem willing to
understand me, I gripped him by the shouthers, and showed him what I
meant.

Yet quite composedly he turned round to me and said, 'I dinna see what
is the use o' the like o' this--it is true I am aulder than you, but you
are at a time o' life now that ye canna expect ony young man to look at
ye. Therefore, ye had better think twice before ye turn me to the door.
Ye will find it just as easy a life being the wife o' a hedger as
keeping a school--rather mair sae I apprehend, and mair profitable too.'
I had nae patience wi' the man. I thought my sisters had insulted me;
but this offer o' the hedger's wounded me mair than a' that they had
done.

'O James Laidlaw!' cried I, when I was left to mysel, 'what hae ye
brought me to! My sisters dinna look after me. My parting wi' them has
gien them an excuse to forget that I exist. My brother is far frae me,
and he is ruled by a wife; and I hae been robbed by another o' the
little that I had. I am like a withered tree in a wilderness, standing
its lane--I will fa' and naebody will miss me. I am sick, and there are
none to haud my head. My throat is parched and my lips dry, and there
are none to bring me a cup o' water. There is nae _living thing_ that I
can ca' mine. And some day I shall be found a stiffened corpse in my
bed, with no one near me to close my eyes in death or perform the last
office of humanity! For I am alone--I am by myself--I am forgotten in
the world; and my latter years, if I have a long life, will be a burden
to strangers.'"

But Diana Darling did not so die. Her gentleness, her kindness, caused
her to be beloved by many who knew not her history; and, when the last
stern messenger came to call her hence, many watched with tears around
her bed of death, and many more in sorrow followed her to the grave. So
ran the few leaves in the diary of a spinster--and the reader will
forgive our interpolations.



GEORDIE WILLISON,
AND THE HEIRESS OF CASTLE GOWER.


Antiquaries know very well that one of the oldest of the Nova Scotia
knights, belonging to Scotland, was Sir Marmaduke Maitland of Castle
Gower, situated in one of the southern counties of the kingdom; but they
may not know so well that Sir Marmaduke held his property under a strict
entail to heirs male, whom failing, to heirs female, under the condition
of bearing the arms and name of the Castle Gower family; or that he was
married to Catherine Maxwell, a near relative of the family of Herries,
in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright--a person of no very great beauty,
but sprightly, and of good manners. This woman had been brought up in
France, and was deeply tinged with French feelings. She had French cooks
and French milliners about her in abundance; and a French lackey was
considered by her as indispensable as meat and drink. Then she was
represented as being a proud, imperious woman, with a bad temper; which
was rendered worse by her continued fretting, in consequence of not
having any children to her husband; whereby the property would go away
to a son of her husband's brother. Sir Marmaduke and his lady had a
town-house in Edinburgh, in which they lived for the greater part of the
year, situated so as to look to the North Back of the Canongate, and
with an entry to it from that street, but the principal gate was from
the north side. A garden was attached to the house; and the stables
and coach-houses were situated at the foot of the garden. All these
premises are now removed; but Sir Marmaduke Maitland's house--or, as it
was styled, the Duke's house--at the period of this story, was a very
showy house, and very well known to the inhabitants of Edinburgh.

Now, at the foot of Leith Wynd, there lived, about the same time, a
poor widow woman, called Widow Willison, who had a son and a daughter.
She was the widow of a William Willison, who earned a livelihood by
the humble means of serving the inhabitants of Edinburgh with water,
which he conveyed to their doors by the means of an ass; and was, in
consequence, called Water Willie--a good, simple, honest creature; much
liked by his customers, from whom he never wanted a good diet; and had
no fault, but that of disliking the element in which he dealt. He liked
he said very well to drive water to the great folks, and he wished them
"meikle guid o't; but, for his ain pairt, he preferred whisky, which, he
thocht, was o' a warmer and mair congenial nature, and better suited to
the inside o' a rational animal, like man."

Strange enough, it was to William Willison's dislike to water that
people attributed his death. It would have been more logical--but
scandal is a bad logician--to have debited that event to the water; for,
though it will not conceal that Willie was drunk when he died, it was as
notorious that it was not because he was drunk that he died--but that he
died because his water-cart went over him when he was drunk. However
that may be, and there is no use in wasting much reasoning on the point,
William left, at his death, a widow and two children, with nothing to
support them.

Widow Willison was a good, religious woman, of the old school, believing
in the transcendent influence of mere faith, as carrying along with it
all the minor points of justification by works, election, and others,
in the same way that a river takes with it the drops of rain that
fall from the heavens, and carries all down to the ocean. She was an
excellent example of the influence of a pure religion--kind and generous
in her sentiments; and, though left with two children, and no food to
satisfy their hunger, patient and hopeful--placing implicit trust and
confidence in the Author of all good, and viewing murmuring as a sin
against His providence.

Let us introduce, now, George Willison, her son, an extraordinary
individual, apparently destined to be more notorious than his father,
in so much as his character was composed of that mixture of simplicity,
bordering on silliness, and shrewd sagacity in the ordinary affairs of
life, which is often observed in people of Scotland. Though common, the
character is nearly inexplicable to the analyst; for the individual
seems conscious of the weaker part of his character, but he appears to
love it, and often makes it subservient to the stronger elements of his
mind, by using it at once as a cloak and a foil to them. George, like
the other individuals of his peculiar species, followed no trade.
Sometimes he acted as a cadie, a letter-carrier, a messenger, a porter,
a water-carrier--in any capacity, in short, in which he could, with no
continuous labour, earn a little money. To work at any given thing for
longer time than a day, was a task which he generally condemned, as
being wearisome and monotonous, and more suited to the inferior animals
than to man. His clothes, like his avocations, were many-coloured, and
suited the silly half of his character, without altogether depriving him
of the rights of a citizen, or making him the property and sport of
school-boys. Like his employments, his earnings were chancy and various,
ranging between a shilling to five shillings a-week, including
gratuities, which his conceit prompted him to call "helps," with a view
to avoid the imputation of living upon alms--a name, in the Scotch
language "awmous," which did not sound agreeably in the ears of Geordie
Willison.

The very reverse of George was his sister--a black-eyed beauty, of great
intelligence, who earned a little money, to support the family, by means
of her needle. She was a great comfort to her mother, seldom going out,
and felt much annoyed by the strange character of her brother, whom she
often endeavoured to improve, with a view to his following some trade.
He was twenty years of age, and if he did not "tak' himself up" now, she
said, "he would be a vagrant a' his days." Geordie, on the other hand,
quietly heard his sister, but he never saw--at least, he pretended not
to see, which was the same thing--the force of her argument. The weak
half of his constitution was always presented to any attack of logic;
and the adroitness with which he met his opponent by this soft
buckler--which, like a feather-bed presented to a canon bullet,
swallowed the force and the noise at the same time--was worthy of
Aristotle, or Thomas Scotus, or any other logical warrior. Take an
example:--

"Whar hae ye been the day, Geordie?" said his mother to him one day.

"I hae been convoying Sir Marmaduke Maitland a wee bit on his way to
France," said Geordie. "He asked me to bear him company and carry his
luggage to Leith, and I couldna refuse sic a favour to the braw knight."

"An' what got ye frae him?" said his mother; "for I hae naething i' the
house for supper."

"Twa or three placks," said Geordie, throwing down some coppers on the
table.

"This is the 21st day o' April--your birthday, Geordie," said the
mother; "an' as it has aye been our practice to hae something by common
on that occasion, I'll gang down to Widow Johnston's an' get a pint o'
the best, to drink yer health wi'." And Widow Willison did as she said.

"Is Lady Maitland no awa wi' Sir Marmaduke, Geordie?" resumed his
mother, when they were taking their meagre supper.

"Na! na!" said Geordie; "they dinna like ane anither sae weel; an' I
dinna wonder at Sir Marmaduke no likin' her, for I dinna like her
mysel."

"For what reason, Geordie?" asked his mother.

"Because she doesna like me," answered the casuist.

Now it happened that on the 19th day of February, after the conversation
here detailed, that George Willison was wandering over the grounds of
Warriston, on the north side of Edinburgh. He had been with a letter to
the Laird of Warriston, and, in coming back, as was not uncommon with
him, was musing, in a half dreaming, listless kind of state, as he
sauntered through the planted grounds in the neighbourhood. His
attention was in an instant arrested by the sounds of voices, and he
stood, or rather sat down, behind a hedge and listened. The speakers
were very near to him; for it was so very dark that they could not
observe him.

"I will stand at a little distance, Louise," said a voice, "and thou
canst do the thing thyself. I could despatch thine, but I cannot do that
good work to myself; for the mother rises in me, and unnerves me quite.
Besides, thou didst promise to do me this service for the ten gold
pieces I gave thee, and the many more I will yet give thee."

"_Oui! oui!_ my lady; but de infant is so _fort_, so trong, dat it will
be difficult for me to trottle her. Death, _la mort_, does not come ever
when required; but I vill do my endeavour to trangle de leetle jade, vit
as much activity as I can. Ha! ha! de leetle baggage tinks she is
already _perdir_--she tombles so--be quiet, you _petite_ leetle deevil.
It vill be de best vay, I tink, to do it on de ground. Hark! is dere not
some person near?--my heart goes _en palpitant_."

"It is nobody, thou fool," answered the lady; "it is only a rustling
produced by a breath of wind among the trees."

"Very vell, very vell, my Lady Maitland; dat is right. Now for de vork."

"Stop until I am at a little distance; and, when thou hearest me cry
'Now,' finish the thing cleverly."

The rustling of the lady's gown betokened that she had done as she said.
The rustling ceased; and the word "Now," came from the mouth of the
mother.

All was silent for a minute; a quick breath, indicating the application
of a strong effort, was now heard, mixed with the sound of a convulsed
suspiration, something like that of a child labouring under
hooping-cough, though weaker. The rustling of clothes indicated a
struggle of some violence; and several ejaculations escaped at
intervals:--"_Mon dieu!_ dis is de _triste_ vork; how trong de leetle
she velp is!--now, now--not yet--how trange!--_diable!_ she still
breats!"

"Hast thou finished, Louise?" asked the lady, impatiently.

"Not yet, my lady," said Louise; "give me your hair necklace; de leetle
she velp vont die vitout tronger force dan my veak hands can apply."

"I cannot go to thee," said the lady; "thou must come to me. Lay the
babe on the ground, and come for the necklace."

Louise did as she was desired.

The sounds of a struggle again commenced, mixed with Louise's
ejaculations:--"Now, now--dis vill do for you--_une fois_--vonce, twice,
trice round--dat vill do--quite sufficient to kill de giant, or Sir
Marmaduke himself. Now, my lady, I tink de ting is pretty vell done; I
vill trow her into de hedge--dere--now, let us go."

The two ladies went away, and Geordie rushed forward to the place where
they had thrown the child. It was still convulsed. He loosened the
necklace, which had been left by mistake, and blew strongly into the
child's mouth. He heard it sigh, and in a little time breathe; and,
carrying it with the greatest care, he took it home with him to his
mother's house.

"Whar hae ye been, man, and what is this ye hae in your airms?" said
Widow Willison to Geordie, when he went in.

"It's a wee bit birdie I fand in a nest amang the hedges o' Warriston,"
said Geordie. "Its mither didna seem to care aboot it, and I hae brought
it hame wi' me. Gie't a pickle crowdie, puir thing."

Astonished, and partly displeased, Widow Willison took the child out of
her son's arms, and seeing its face swoln and blue, and marks of
strangulation on its neck, her maternal sympathies arose, and she
applied all the articles of a mother's pharmacopoeia with a view to
restore it.

"But whar got ye the bairn, man?" she again inquired. "Gie us nane o'
yer nonsense about birds and hedges. Tell us the story sae as plain folk
can understand it."

"I hae already tauld ye," said Geordie, dryly and slowly; "and it's no
my intention at present to tell ye ony mair aboot it. Ye didna ask whar
_I_ came frae when ye got me first."

"An' wha's to bring up the bairn?" asked the mother, who knew it was in
vain to put the same question twice to Geordie.

"Ye didna ask that question at my faither when _I_ cam hame," replied
the stoic, with one of his peculiar looks; "but, if ye had, maybe ye
wadna hae got sae kind an answer as I'll gie ye: Geordie Willison will
pay for bringing up the bairn; and I'll no answer ony mair o' yer
questions."

Strictly did Geordie keep his word with his mother. He would tell
neither her nor his sister anything about the child. They knew his
temper and disposition, and gradually resigned an importunity which had
the effect of making him more obstinate. At night, when the child's
clothes were taken off, with a view to putting it to bed, Geordie got
hold of them and carried them off, unknown to his mother. He locked them
up in his chest, and, in the morning, when his mother asked him if he
had seen them, he said he knew nothing about them. Annoyed by this
conduct on the part of her son, his mother threatened to throw the child
upon the parish as a foundling; and yet, when she reflected on the
extreme sagacity which was mixed up with her son's peculiarities, and
read in his looks, which she well understood, a more than ordinary
confidence of power to do what he had said, as to bringing up the child,
she hesitated in her purpose, and at last resolved to go in with the
humour and inclinations of her son, and do the duty of a mother to the
babe.

We now change the scene.

"It's a braw day this, my Leddy Maitland," said Geordie, bowing to the
very ground, and holding in his hand a clean sheet of paper, which he
had folded up like a letter, as a passport to her ladyship's presence.

Lady Maitland, who was sitting at her work-table, stared at the person
thus saluting her, and seeing it was Geordie Willison, who had offended
her at the time of his carrying down Sir Marmaduke's luggage, by asking,
jocularly, if "ony o' the bairns were gaun wi' their father," she asked
him sternly what he wanted, and, thinking he had the letter in his hand
to deliver to her, snatched it in a petted manner and opened it. On
finding it a clean sheet of paper, with her address on the back of it,
she got into a great rage, and ran to the bell to call up a lackey to
kick Geordie down stairs.

"Canny, my braw leddy--canny," said Geordie, seizing her hand; "ye are
hasty--maybe no quite recovered yet--the wet dews o' Warriston are no
for the tender health o' the bonny Leddy Maitland; for even Geordie
Willison, wha can ban a' bield i' the cauldest nicht o' winter, felt
them chill and gruesome as he passed through them yestreen."

On hearing this speech, Lady Maitland changed, in an instant, from a
state of violent passion to the rigidity and appearance of a marble
statue.

Eyeing her with one of his peculiar looks, as much as to say, "I know
all," Geordie proceeded.

"I dinna want to put your leddyship to ony trouble by this veesit; but,
being in want o' some siller in thir hard times, I thocht I would tak
the liberty o' ca'in upon yer leddyship, as weel for the sake o' being
better acquainted wi' a leddy o' yer station and presence, as for the
sake o' gettin' the little I require on my first introduction to high
life."

"How much money dost thou require?" asked the lady, with a tremulous
voice.

"Twunty pund, my leddy, twenty pund at the present time," answered
Geordie, with the same simple look; "ye ken the folk haud me for a
natural, and ower fu' a cup is no easy carried, even by the wise. Sae, I
wadna like to trust mysel' wi' mair than twenty pund at a time."

Without saying a word, Lady Maitland went, with trembling steps, and a
hurried and confused manner, to her bureau: she took out her keys--tried
one, then another, and, with some difficulty, at last got it opened. She
counted out twenty pounds, and handed it over to Geordie, who counted it
again with all the precision of a modern banker.

"Thank ye, my leddy," said Geordie; "an' whan I need mair, I'll just tak
the liberty o' makin yer leddyship my banker. Guid day, my leddy." And,
with a low bow, reaching nearly to the ground, he departed.

The result of this interview satisfied Geordie that what he had
suspected was true. Sir Marmaduke had not yet returned, and his lady,
having been unfaithful to him, and given birth to a child, had resolved
upon putting it out of the way, in the manner already detailed. He had
no doubt that the lady thought the child was dead; and he did not wish,
in the meantime, to disturb that notion; for, although he knew that the
circumstance of the child being alive would give him greater power over
her, in the event of her becoming refractory, he was apprehensive that
she would not have allowed the child to remain in his keeping; and
might, in all likelihood, resort to some desperate scheme to destroy it.

On returning home, Geordie drew his seat to the fire, and sat silent.
His mother, who was sitting opposite to him, asked him if he had earned
any money that day, wherewith he could buy some clothes for the child he
had undertaken to bring up. With becoming gravity, and without appearing
to feel that any remarkable change had taken place upon his finances,
Geordie slowly put his hand into his pocket, drew out the twenty pounds,
and gave his mother one for interim expenditure. As he returned the
money into his pocket, he said, with an air of the most supreme
nonchalance, "If ye want ony mair, ye can let me ken."

The mother and daughter looked at each other with surprise and
astonishment, mixed with some pleasure, and, perhaps, some apprehension.
Neither of them put any question as to where the money had been got; for
Geordie's look had already informed them that any such question would
not be answered.

Meanwhile, no great change seemed to have been produced in Geordie
Willison's manner of living, in consequence of his having become
comparatively rich. He lounged about the streets, joking with his
acquaintances--went his messages--sometimes appeared with a crowd of
boys after him--dressed in the same style--and, altogether, was just the
same kind of person he used to be.

Time passed, and precisely on the same day next year he went to Lady
Maitland's. In the passage, he was met by the housekeeper, Louise
Grecourt, who asked him what he wanted. He looked at her intently, and
recognised in this person's voice the same tones which had arrested his
ears so forcibly on the night of the attempted murder of the child. To
make himself more certain of this, Geordie led her into conversation.

"I want my Leddy Maitland," answered Geordie--"are ye her leddyship?"

"No," answered the housekeeper, with a kick of her head, which Geordie
took as a sign that his bait had been swallowed; "I am not Lady
Maitland--I am in de charge of her ladyship's house. Vat you vant vit
her ladyship? Can Louise Grecourt not satisfy a fellow like you?"

"No exactly at present," answered Geordie; "tell her leddyship that
Geordie Willison wants to speak to her."

Louise started when he mentioned his name, certifying Geordie that she
was in the secret of his knowledge. Her manner changed. She became all
condescension; and, leading him up stairs, opened a door, and showed him
into a room where Lady Maitland was sitting.

"I houp yer leddyship," began Geordie, with a low bow, "has been quite
weel sin' I had the honour o' yer acquaintanceship, whilk is now a year,
come twa o'clock o' this day. Ye micht maybe be thinking we were gaun to
fa' out o' acquaintanceship; but I'm no ane o' yer conceited creatures
wha despise auld freends, and rin after new anes, merely because they
may think them brawer--sae ye may keep yer mind easy on that score; and
I wad farther tak the liberty to assure yer leddyship that, if ye hae
ony siller by ye at present, I winna hesitate to gie ye a proof o' the
continuance o' my freendship, by offerin' to tak frae ye as meikle as I
may need."

"How much is that?" asked Lady Maitland.

"Twunty pund, my leddy, twunty pund," answered Geordie.

The money was handed to him by the lady, without saying a word; and,
having again made a low bow, he departed.

Next year, Geordie Willison went and paid a visit to Lady Maitland, got
from her the same sum of money, and nothing passed to indicate what it
was paid for. The lady clearly remained under the impression that the
child was not in existence.

It happened that, some time after the last payment, Geordie was on the
pier of Leith, with a view to fall in with some chance message or
carriage to Edinburgh. A vessel had newly arrived from the Continent,
and one of the passengers was Sir Marmaduke Maitland. Geordie was
employed to assist in getting his luggage removed to Edinburgh. On
arriving at the house, Lady Maitland, with Louise behind her, was
standing on the landing-place to receive her husband. They saw Geordie
walking alongside of him, and talking to him in the familiar manner
which his alleged silliness in many cases entitled him to do; but
whatever they may have felt or expressed, by looks or otherwise, Geordie
seemed not to be any way out of his ordinary manner, and they soon
observed, from the conduct of Sir Marmaduke, that Geordie had said
nothing to him. Geordie bustled about, assisting to take out the
luggage, while Sir Marmaduke was standing in the lobby with his lady
alongside of him.

"Is there any news stirring in these parts, Geordie, worth telling to
one who has been from his own country so long as I have been."

"Naething worth mentioning, Sir Marmaduke," answered Geordie; "a'thing
quiet, decent, and orderly i' the toun and i' the country--no excepting
your ain house here, whar I hae missed mony a gude luck-penny sin' your
honour departed."

"Has Lady Maitland not been in the habit of employing you, then,
Geordie?" asked Sir Marmaduke.

"No exactly, Sir Marmaduke," answered Geordie; "the last time I ca'ed
on her leddyship, she asked me what I wanted. I didna think it quite
ceevil, and I haena gane back; but I canna deny that she paid me
handsomely for the last thing I carried for her. She's a fine leddy, Sir
Marmaduke, and meikle credit to ye."

At any subsequent period, when Geordie's yearly pension was due, he
generally contrived to call for Lady Maitland when Sir Marmaduke was out
of the way. He took always the same amount of money. The only departure
he made from this custom was in the year of his sister's marriage, when
he asked and got a sum of forty pounds, twenty of which he gave to her.
Her husband, George Dempster, had at one time been a butler in Lady
Maitland's family; but her ladyship did not know either that he was
acquainted with George Willison, or that he was now married to his
sister. We may explain that George Dempster was in the family at
the time when Geordie brought home the child; and, in some of his
conversations with his wife, he did not hesitate to say that he
suspected that Lady Maitland bore a child to a French lackey, who was
then about the house; but the child never made its appearance, and
strong grounds existed for believing that it was made away with. Geordie
himself sometimes heard these stories; but he affected to be altogether
indifferent to them, putting a silly question to Dempster, as if he had
just awakened from sleep, and had forgot the thread of the discourse,
and, when he got his answer, pretending to fall asleep again.

In the meantime the young foundling, who had been christened Jessie
Warriston, by Geordie's desire, grew up to womanhood. She became,
in every respect, the picture of her mother--tall and noble in her
appearance. Her hair was jet black, and her eye partook of the same
colour, with a lustre that dazzled the beholder. Her manners were
cheerful and kind; and she was grateful for the most ordinary attentions
paid to her by Widow Willison, or her daughter--the latter of whom often
took her out with her to the house of Ludovic Brodie, commonly called
Birkiehaugh, a nephew of Sir Marmaduke Maitland, with whom George
Dempster was serving as butler, in his temporary house, about a mile
south from Edinburgh.

This young laird had seen Jessie Warriston, and been struck with her
noble appearance. He asked Dempster who she was, and was told that she
was a young person who lived with one of his wife's friends. Brodie,
whose character was that of a most unprincipled rake, often endeavoured
to make up to Jessie, as she went backwards and forwards between his
house and Widow Willison's. In all endeavours he had been unsuccessful;
for Jessie--independently of being aware, from the admonitions of the
pious Widow Willison, that an acquaintanceship with a person above her
degree was improper and dangerous--had a lover of her own, a young man
of the name of William Forbes, a clerk to Mr. Carstairs, an advocate,
at that time in great practice at the Scotch bar. Forbes generally
accompanied Jessie when she went out at night, after she told him that
Brodie had insulted her; and she discontinued her visits to George
Dempster.

Foiled by the precautions which Jessie took to avoid him, Brodie only
became more determined to get his object gratified. He meditated various
schemes for this purpose. He turned off Dempster, who might have been a
spy upon his conduct; and it was remarked, by the people living near
to Widow Willison's, that a woman, rolled up in a cloak, had been seen
watching about the door. Geordie, though apparently not listening to any
of these transactions, was all alive to the interests of his foundling.
He kept a constant eye upon the neighbourhood, and did not fail to
observe, that a woman, of the description stated, came always, at a
certain hour, near his mother's door, about the time that Jessie
generally went out.

Now, Geordie was determined to know, by some means, who this woman was;
and, as the day was drawing in, he thought he might disguise himself in
such a way as to get into conversation with her.

Having equipped himself in the garb of a cadie, of more respectable
appearance than he himself exhibited, and put a black patch over his
eye, and a broad slouched hat over his head, Geordie took his station to
watch the woman in the cloak.

"Wha may ye be waitin' for?" said Geordie, in a feigned voice, to the
woman, whom he at last found.

"Are you von of de cadies?" asked the woman.

"Yes," answered Geordie.

"Do you live in de neighbourhood?" asked again the woman.

"I wadna live in ony ither place war ye to pay me for't," answered
Geordie.

"Very good--dat is a very good answer," said the woman; "dere is a
little money for you."

"I dinna tak siller for tellin' folk whar I live," said Geordie; "but,
if there's onything else I can, in my capacity o' cadie, do for ye,
maybe I may then condescend to tak yer siller."

"_Mon Dieu!_ vat a trange fellow!" ejaculated the woman. "Vell, can you
tell me if a young woman, carrying the name of Jessie Varriston, lives
up dat stair?" pointing with her hand.

"I ken the lassie as weel as I ken mysel," answered Geordie; "she lives
just whar ye hae said."

"Very goot--very goot--dat is just vat I vant--_un sage homme_
dis--excellent goot chap. Now, tell me if de girl lives vit an imbecile
that is von idiot, called George Villison, and how long she has lived
vit him, vere she comes from, and vat is her history."

"Ye hae asked four questions a' in ae breath," said Geordie, who wanted
a prologue, to give him time to consider how much he could say, so as to
serve the two purposes of safety and drawing out the woman at the same
time. "It's no quite fair, to an ignorant man like me, to put sae mony
questions at a time; but it's my wish to serve ye, an' I'll do my best
to answer them. Jessie Warriston lives wi' the idiot cratur Geordie
Willison's mither, and she has lived wi' her for seventeen years, that
is, since she was a bit bairn. I'm thinking she'll be a granddochter o'
Widow Willison's--dinna ye think sae yersel'?"

"De brute!" muttered the woman to herself--"de brute is begun, like all
de rest of his countrymen, to put de interrogation ven he should give de
respond. You do not know den de girl's history, do you not?"

"No, but maybe I may be able to get it for ye," answered Geordie,
unwilling to be dismissed _simpliciter_.

"Very vell, anoter time--I vish you, in de meantime, to carry dis letter
to Ludovic Brodie, Esq. of Birkiehaugh. Do you know vere he lives?"

"I will carry it wi' the greatest o' pleasure, madam," answered Geordie.

The woman handed him the letter, with some more money, and departed.

Geordie got the letter speedily read to him by a person in his
confidence. It was in these terms:--

"Mon cher Ludovic,--Jessie Varriston lives vit de idiot, Geordie
Villison, in Leit Vynd. De bearer of dis knows her very vell, and vill
assist you in de abduction. My Lady Maitland and I both tink we know her
too; bot we do not vish at present to let any von know dis, for certain
reasons, vich we cannot explain to you. Ven you arrange vit de bearer to
carry her off, let me know, and I vill do every ting in my power to
assist you, as my lady has a grand vish for de abduction of de vench
vithout procrastination. My lady does not know of my having given you
intelligence of her being up to de affair.--Yours till death.

"LOUISE GRECOURT."

From this letter, Geordie saw plainly that Lady Maitland and Louise had,
at last, got some information regarding Jessie, which had led them to
suspect that she was the child they had supposed to be dead. It was
clear, however, that Brodie knew nothing of their suspicions, and the
two parties were, undoubtedly, after the same game, with different
objects and for different reasons. Having folded the letter and sealed
it, so as to avoid suspicion, Geordie went out and delivered it into the
hands of Birkiehaugh.

Brodie, having read the letter, examined Geordie from head to
heel--"Canst thou be trusted, man, in an affair requiring secrecy and
ability to execute it?" asked he.

"Do you see ony thing aboot me to produce ony doubt o' my ability or my
secrecy?" answered Geordie. "Nae man will coup wi' Peter Finlayson in
ony expedition whar death, danger, or exposure are to be avoided, or
whar ability to plan, an' quickness to execute, and cunnin' to conceal,
are things o' consideration or importance."

"Well, Peter, I believe thou art the man. I wish to carry off the girl,
Jessie Warriston, to-morrow night--canst thou assist me in that
enterprise?"

"It's just in the like o' thae bits o' ploys that the genius o' Peter
Finlayson lies," answered Geordie. "I ken the lassie maist intimately,
and can bring her to ony appointed spot at ony hour ye please to name."

"To-morrow night, then," said Brodie, "at eight o'clock, at the
resting-stone at the top of the Leith Lone; knowest thou the place?"

"I do," answered Geordie; "and shall attend; but ye ken, I suppose, the
difference that lies atween the ordinary jobs o' us cadies, and the
like o' thae michty emprises, whar life and limb, and honour and
reputation, are concerned. In the first case, the pay comes after
the wark--in the ither, the wark comes after the pay; an' it's richt
natural, whan ye think o't; because I hae often seen the city guard kick
the wark and the warkmen to the deevil in an instant, and the puir cadie
gets only broken banes for his pains."

"There, then," said Brodie, "there is half of thy fee; the other shall
be given when thou bringest the girl."

"Vera weel," said Geordie, counting the gold pieces; "and thank ye. I
wunna fail in my duty, I warrant ye."

Next night, at the time and place appointed, Geordie attended with his
charge. He found Brodie in waiting with a carriage, in which was seated
Louise. Jessie was told to enter, and complied. Brodie jumped in, and
Geordie held out his hand for the other half of the fee, which he
received. He now slipped a piece of twine round the handle of the
carriage, so as to prevent it from being opened; and, in a moment
vaulted up beside the coachman, whose hat, as if by mere accident, he
knocked off.

"Gie me up my bannet, ye whelp," said the coachman, angrily.

"Cadies are no cadies to coachmen," answered Geordie, dryly; "your
brains maun be far spent, man, when they canna keep a house ower their
head."

The coachman jumped down for his hat, and Geordie, applying the whip to
the horses, was off in an instant. The coachman cried, "Stop the coach!"
Brodie, thinking it was a chase, cried to drive like the devil. Geordie
obeyed to the letter, and dashed on like lightning.

The coach stopped, and was instantly surrounded by a number of people,
who opened the door, and pulling the three inmates out, led them into
a large building, the door of which was double-bolted, and made a
tremendous noise as it revolved on its hinges. The party were taken up
stairs, and introduced (Geordie leading the way with his hat in his
hand) into a large room, where several people were present, apparently
waiting for them.

"I beg leave to introduce," said Geordie, bowing low, "to yer lordship,
the sheriff--wha has dune us the honour to receive us at this time in
sae safe a place as the jail, whar we are perfectly free frae a'
interruption--his honour, Ludovic Brodie, Esq. o' Birkiehaugh, and her
highness, Louise Grecourt, a French leddy o' repute. They are anxious to
receive yer opinion on a point o' law, in whilk they are personally
concerned, a favour, I doutna, yer honour will condescend to grant."

The sheriff immediately set about taking a precognition, for which he
had been, by Geordie, previously prepared. Brodie was committed on a
charge of abduction; but Louise, on the intercession of Geordie and his
ward, was allowed to get off. Some time afterwards, Brodie was tried,
and sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

Geordie had now occasion to call upon Lady Maitland for his yearly
allowance. Louise having been liberated without trial, it had not yet
reached the ears of her or Lady Maitland that Peter Finlayson was, in
fact, Geordie Willison. Brodie had made no communication of that fact
as yet, and neither Louise nor Lady Maitland could have any idea that
Geordie knew of the hand they had in the attempted abduction, or of
their knowledge or suspicion that Jessie Warriston was the intended
victim of their cruelty.

"My leddy," began Geordie, with his accustomed bow, but with more than
his usual significancy of look, "this is the first time for these
seventeen years that I hae been awantin' in my attention and duty as yer
leddyship's freend; for I am ae day ahint the usual time o' my veesit to
yer leddyship, for whilk mark o' disrespect I beg leave to solicit yer
leddyship's pardon, upon the condition that I offer, that I shall
promise, as I here most solemnly do, that I shall not be again wantin'
in my duty to yer leddyship. Can I say I hae yer leddyship's pardon?"

Crucified by Geordie's cruel humour, but compelled to be silent, Lady
Maitland signified her favour.

"Yer leddyship's condescension is a great relief to me," resumed
Geordie. "They say Sir Marmaduke's nevey, Brodie o' Birkiehaugh, is in
jail for attempting to rin awa' wi' a young lassie. What he was to do
wi' her, God only kens, but there can be nae doubt that he would get
sma' favour and grace frae yer leddyship to ony attempt on the puir
cratur's life. Na, na--a nobility sae michtie as yer leddyship's, an' a
saftness o' heart whilk far excels that o' the bleatin' ewe for the puir
lambie that lies deein' by its side, couldna patroneeze onything like
the takin' awa o' God's breath frae the nostrils o' innocence."

Geordie, whose cruelty was refined, paused, and fixed his eyes on the
lady, who appeared to be in agony. She rose quickly, and went, as usual,
to her bureau to give him money.

"Stop," said Geordie; "I haena asked ye for't yet. I dinna like awmous.
It's only when I want to favour yer leddyship that I tak siller fra ye,
and naething I hae yet said could warrant yer leddyship in supposing
that I was to confer sic a favour on ye, at least at the particular time
when ye rose to open yer kist; and I dinna need to say, that favours
quickly conferred are sune repented o'. Weel, the bit lassie wham
Birkiehaugh was after, is a young creature, ca'ed Jessie Warriston, wha
lives wi' my mither. Few folk on earth ken meikle about her; but my
mither swears that her mither maun hae been hanged, for she has a ring
round her bonny white craig, like that on the neck o' the turtle doo. I
laugh, an' say to the bonny bairn, that it will stan' in place o' a
coral or cornelian necklace to her.--Ha! ha! I see your leddyship's
inclined to laugh too--eh?"

And Geordie again eyed the lady, who was as far from laughing as the
criminal at the stake.

"Weel," resumed the crucifier, "Birkiehaugh didna succeed--thanks to
Peter Finlayson, honest fallow--and the lassie is safe again; but I hae
made a vow, and I hope sae gude a ane will be regularly recorded whar it
should be, that the first person wha tries to lay sae meikle as a finger
on that bonny bairn's head, or blaw a single breath o' suspicion against
her reputation, will meet wi' the just indignation o' Geordie Willison.
An' noo, my leddy, I will favour ye by accepting, at yer hands, twenty
pund."

Geordie received, and counted the money, as usual, and, with a bow,
retired.

The six months of Birkiehaugh's confinement expired, and, about the same
time, Sir Marmaduke Maitland died. Having had no children by his wife,
the title and fine property of Castle Gower fell to Brodie, who was his
brother's son--Brodie being the name of the family who had succeeded to
the title. No time was lost by Brodie's man of business to take out a
brief from Chancery, for getting him served heir male of taillie to the
estate and honours. The brief was published, and no doubt anywhere
prevailed of the verdict which would be pronounced under it.

About this time it was observed that Geordie Willison had long
interviews with Advocate Carstairs; but neither his mother, nor his
sister, nor, indeed, any person, could get him to say a word on the
subject. His manner, in regard to the story of Jessie, had been all
along quite uniform, and many years had passed since his mother had
given up in despair all attempts to get him to divulge it. He was, at
present, apparently very absent, as if something of great importance
occupied his mind.

One day, on leaving the advocate, he went direct for the house of Lady
Maitland. He was admitted as usual. He said he wished to see her
ladyship and Louise together.

"I hae heard," began Geordie, "that my worthy freend, Sir Marmaduke,
is dead. He was a gude man, and may the Lord deal mercifully wi' him!
Ludovic Brodie, they say, is the heir, an' I dinna say he has nae richt
to that title--though, maybe, it may cost some wigs a pickle flour to
mak that oot. Noo, ye see, my Leddy Maitland, I hae dune ye some
favours, and I'm just to take the liberty to ask ane in return. You an'
yer freend, Louise, maun admit, in open court, that yer leddyship bore,
upon the 19th day of February o' the year 16--, a dochter, and that that
dochter is Jessie Warriston."

Geordie waited for an answer, fixing his eyes on Lady Maitland.

Louise immediately began to make indications of a spirit of opposition;
and Lady Maitland herself, gathering up any traces of dignity, which the
presence of Geordie generally dispersed, replied--

"Thou hast no proof, sir, of the extraordinary charge, thou hast now,
for the first time, brought against me; and I cannot convict myself of a
crime."

Louise blustered and supported her lady.

"Vat, in the name of God, is de meaning of dis fellow's demand?
_Parbleu!_ He is mad--_de fou_--bad--vicked--mechant. Vere I your
ladyship, I would trust him out, and give him de grand kick, and tomble
him down de marche de stairs. Vy, sir, could you have de grand impudence
to tell my lady she be de bad woman."

Geordie heard all this with calmness and silence.

"It's o' sma importance to me," he resumed, "whether yer leddyship
comply wi' my request or no; for, indeed, though politeness made me ca'
it a favour conferred upon me, the favour is a' the ither way. Let yer
leddyship be silent, an' I'll prove that yer leddyship bore the bairn;
but ye maun ken that Geordie Willison has nae power ower the law--when
the seals are broken, the judgment will come; and I canna prove the
birth o' the bairn without, at the same time, and by the same prufe,
proving that ye attempted to strangle it, and left it for dead in the
hedges o' Warriston. Here is yer leddyship's necklace, whilk I took fra
the craig o' the struggling cratur, and here are the claes it had on,
marked wi' draps o' blude that cam frae its little mouth. I show thae
things no as proofs on whilk I mean a'thegither to rest, but only to
testify to ye what ye sae weel ken, that what I say is true. Speak, noo,
my leddies--your lives are i' the hands o' the idiot cratur Geordie
Willison. If ye gang to the court, ye are saved--if ye winna, ye are
lost. Will ye gang, or will ye hang?"

The women were both terrified by the statement of Geordie. Reluctant to
make any such admission, they struggled with the various emotions of
indignation, pride, and fear, which took, by turns, possession of their
bosoms. Lady Maitland fainted, and Louise was totally unable to render
her assistance; for she lay in a hysterical state of excitement on the
floor. Geordie locked the door, and kept his eyes fixed on the females.
He yielded them no aid; but stood like a destroying angel, witnessing
the effects of his desolation. Lady Maitland at last opened her eyes,
and having collected her senses, resolved to comply with Geordie's
request. She said to him, that, provided nothing was asked beyond the
questions, whether she bore the child on the day mentioned, and whether
Jessie Maitland, whom she had secretly seen, was that child--she would
answer them in the affirmative. This satisfied Geordie, and he departed.

On the day of the service of Ludovic Brodie, a brief was taken out in
name of Jessie Warriston or Maitland, as heir female of taillie to the
estate and title of Maitland of Castle Gower. Brodie and his agents had
no notice of the brief until they came into court.

The briefs being read, Brodie's propinquity was proved, and no person
had any idea that the existence of a nearer heir could be established.
But the door of the court opened, and Lady Maitland and Louise Grecourt
stood before the inquest. They swore to the birth of the child on the
day mentioned, and that Jessie Maitland, who was presented to them in
court by Geordie Willison himself, was that child.

An objection was taken by Brodie's agents, that the child was
illegitimate, because it was born ten months, minus two days, after Sir
Marmaduke went to the continent; but the judge overruled the objection,
stating that it was the law of Scotland, that every child born within
ten months of the husband's departure, is a legal child.

Jessie Warriston was, therefore, served heir, according to the terms of
her brief. She went in her own carriage, in which sat Geordie Willison,
to take possession of her estates and titles. She was now Lady Jessie
Maitland of Castle Gower, and was soon afterwards united to William
Forbes, her old lover.



THE SNOW STORM OF 1825.


Our readers will recollect the dreadful snow storm that occurred in the
year 1825. Indeed, it is impossible that any one, who was above the
years of childhood at the time, can have forgot it, or can ever forget
it. It was the most tremendous with which this country has been visited
for a century. For nearly six weeks, and in some places for a much
longer period, every road, excepting those in the immediate vicinity of
large towns, was blocked up, and rendered impassable, by either horse
or foot; and one consequence was, that scores of travellers, of all
descriptions, were suddenly arrested in their several places of
temporary sojournment on the road, and held in durance during the whole
period of the storm, without the possibility of communicating with their
friends, or, in the case of mercantile travellers, with their employers.

It was a weary time, on the whole, to those who were thus laid under
embargo; but not without its pleasures either; for each house thus
situated, having perhaps a dozen strangers in it, from and going to
all parts of the kingdom, became a distinct and independent little
community, from which its local exclusion from the busy world had shut
out, also, for the time at any rate, much of its cares and troubles--a
philosophic spirit soon prevailing, after the first day or two's
confinement, to make the most of what could not be helped.

The writer of this sheet happened to be one of nine who were shut up in
the way alluded to, in an inn in the south of Scotland; and although, as
already said, it was rather a weary thing on the whole, yet was it not
without its enjoyments. Our _ennui_ was often delightfully relieved by
the diversity of character as developed in our little community; for we
had, if we may so speak, the salt, the pepper, and the vinegar of human
dispositions, sprinkled throughout the party, which not only took from
the cold insipidity of our confinement, but gave to it a rich and
pleasant relish. Our host's cellar and larder happened to be well
stored, while the house was, in all other respects, an excellent one;
so, what with the produce of the former, and the roaring fires kept up
by Jamie, the waiter, we had really nothing to complain of on the score
of creature comforts--and it is amazing how far the possession of these
will go to reconcile men to otherwise very unpleasant situations. In
this case, they were enhanced by the dreary prospect from without--the
howling storm, the drifting snow, and the wide, dismal, monotonous waste
of dazzling white that lay all around us.

The consciousness of the comforts we enjoyed, in short, put us all in
good humour with one another; while a fellowship in misfortune, and a
community of feeling, as well as of persons, introduced a degree of
friendliness and intimacy, to which few other circumstances, perhaps,
would have given rise. We had our small round of standard jokes,
peculiar to our situation, which few else could have understood, and
fewer still have appreciated, though they did understand them. We had,
too, a small round of harmless tricks, which we regularly played off
every day on some one or other of the corps. But, notwithstanding all
this--the larder, the cellar, the fire, the jokes, and the tricks--time
did occasionally hang rather heavily upon our hands, especially in the
evenings. To lessen this weight, we latterly fell upon the contrivance
of telling stories, one or two of us each night, by turns. The idea is a
borrowed one, as the reader will at once perceive, but we humbly think
not a pin the worse on that account. There was no limitation, of course,
as to the subject. Each was allowed to tell what story he liked; but it
was the general understanding that these stories should be personal,
if possible--that is, that each should relate the most remarkable
circumstances in his own life. Those who had nothing of the kind to
communicate, were, of course, allowed to get off with anything else they
chose to substitute. The first to whose lot it fell to entertain us in
this way, was a fat, good-humoured, good-natured, little, hunch-backed
gentleman, with a short leg, and a bright yellow waistcoat. He was a
mercantile traveller, and, if I recollect right, a native of Newcastle.

When the little man was asked to open his budget, "Why, gentlemen," said
he, "I do not see that I can do better than comply with the understood
wish of the company, by giving you a sketch of my own life, which you
will find to present, I think, as curious a race, or struggle, or
whatever else you may choose to call it, between luck and misfortune,
as perhaps you have heard of:--

You must know, then, my friends (went on the little gentleman in the
bright yellow waistcoat), that the indications of my future good fortune
began to exhibit themselves as early as they well could. I was born with
a caul upon my head, gentlemen, which all of you know is an indubitable
token that the little personage to whom it belongs will be singularly
fortunate in life. Well, gentleman, I was favoured, as I have already
said, with one of those desirable headpieces; and great was the joy the
circumstance gave rise to amongst the female friends and gossips who
were assembled on the occasion. The midwife said that everything I
should put my hand to would prosper, and that I would be, to a
certainty, at the very least, a general, a bishop, or a judge; the nurse
to whom I was subsequently consigned, on the same ground, dubbed me a
duke, and would never call me by any other title; whilst my poor mother
saw me, in perspective, sitting amongst the great ones of the earth,
surrounded with power, wealth, and glory. Such were the bright visions
of my future prosperity, to which my caul gave rise; and probably they
might have been realized, had it not been for an unlucky counteracting
or thwarting power that always stepped in, seemingly for no other
purpose but to disappoint my own hopes and those of my friends;
sometimes baulking my expectations altogether, when on the point of
fruition--sometimes converting that to evil in me which would assuredly
have produced good to any other person. But to proceed with my history.
I grew up a fine, stout, well-made child. Ay, you may laugh, gentlemen
(said the little man, good-humouredly, seeing a titter go round at this
personal allusion, which so ill accorded with his present deformed
appearance), but it was the case, I assure you, until I met with the
accidents that altered my shape to what you now see it. Well, I repeat,
that I grew a fine promising child, and, to the inexpressible amazement
and delight of my parents, showed symptoms of taking unusually early to
my legs.

Nor were these symptoms unfaithful. I took to my pins, on my own
account, before I was ten months old; but, unfortunately, my first walk
was into a draw-well, where I would infallibly have been drowned, if it
had not been for a large Newfoundland dog which my father kept, and
which was close by me at the time of the accident. The faithful creature
leapt in after me, and kept me afloat, until my father came and
extricated me. After this, I was never trusted a moment out of sight;
and thus, instead of this precocious developement of my physical powers
proving a blessing to me, it proved a curse; for it deprived me of all
liberty. As I grew up, however, this restraint became less rigorous, and
I was permitted to ramble in the garden; and one of my first feats,
after obtaining this freedom, was, to climb a high wall, to come at an
uncommonly fine apple that had long tempted me with its rosy cheeks, and
I had just succeeded in getting near enough to the prize to grasp it,
when, in making this effort, down I came; and this leg, gentlemen (said
the little man, holding out his deformed limb), was the consequence. I
fell and broke my leg, just as I was about to grasp the apple. Fatal
type of all my subsequent misfortunes!

I have now, gentlemen (went on the little man), to account for the other
deformity that disfigures me, viz.,--my hump-back. This befell me in the
following manner. Playing one day with a number of boys, of about my own
age, which was then six or seven, a big fellow, of double the size
of any of us, came in amongst us, and began to plunder us of our
playthings; and he was in the very act of robbing me of a hoop, when
another lad, still stronger and bigger, who saw the attempted robbery,
generously ran to my assistance, and aimed a tremendous blow with a
stick at my assailant. The blow, however, missed him at whom it was
aimed, and took me exactly on the small of the back, which it broke in
two as if it had been a pipe shank; and the consequence was, as you see,
gentlemen (said the little man in the bright yellow waistcoat, edging
round, at the same time, to indicate his hump).

Well, then, gentlemen (he went on), up to my ninth year, this was
all the good fortune that my caul brought me--that is, being first
half-drowned, then breaking my leg, and lastly my back. To compensate,
however, in some measure, for these mischances, I turned out an
excellent scholar; and, especially, became a very expert Latinist--a
circumstance which my father, who had a great veneration for the
language, thought sufficient alone to make my fortune; and it certainly
procured me--that is, very nearly procured me--in the meantime, some of
the chief honours of the school. I say very nearly--for I did not
actually obtain them; but it was only by the merest accident in the
world that I did not. The misapprehension of a single word deprived me
of a prize which was about to be awarded to me, and gave it to one of my
competitors. This was reckoned a very hard case; but there was no help
for it.

Still there was luck in the caul, gentlemen (continued the little man in
the bright yellow waistcoat), as you shall hear. Going home from school
one day, a distance of about a mile and a half, I found a very handsome
gold watch, with valuable appendages, lying upon the road. I was at
first afraid to lift the glittering treasure, hardly believing it
possible that so rich and splendid a thing could be without an owner;
but, gradually picking up courage, I seized on the watch, hurried it
into my pocket, and ran onwards like a madman. I had not run far,
however, when a man, respectably dressed, but who seemed the worse of
liquor, or rather like one just recovering from a debauch, met me, and,
seizing me by the breast, fiercely asked me if I had seen anything of a
gold watch. I instantly confessed that I had found such a thing; and,
trembling with apprehension, for the fellow continued to look furiously
at me, produced the watch.

"Very well," said he, taking it from me. "Now, you little villain you,
confess. You did not find the watch, but stole it from me whilst I slept
on the roadside."

I protested that it was not so--that I had found it as I had said. To
this protest the fellow replied by striking me a violent blow on the
side of the head, which stretched me on the road; where, after
administering two or three parting kicks, to teach me honesty, as he
said, he left me in a state of insensibility. I was shortly afterwards
picked up and carried home; but so severe had been the drubbing I got,
that I was obliged to keep my bed for three weeks after. And this was
all I gained by finding a gold watch. Had any other person found it,
they would have been allowed to keep it, or, at the worst, have got a
handsome reward for giving it up; but such things were to be not in any
case in which I should be concerned.

Still I say, gentlemen (continued the little man in the bright yellow
waistcoat), there _was_ luck in the caul; for, soon after, a distant
relation of my mother's, who had been long in the West Indies, and had
there realized a large fortune, having come to England on some business,
paid us a visit, and was so well pleased with the attention shown him,
and with the society he got introduced to, that he spent the whole
subsequent period of his temporary residence in this country with us.
During this time, he became remarkably fond of me--so fond that he could
never be without me. I was obliged to accompany him in all his walks,
and even to sleep with him. In short, he became so attached to me, that
it was evident to every one that some good would come out of it; for he
was immensely rich, and had no family of his own, never having been
married. Indeed, that I would be the better for the old boy's love was
not matter of conjecture, for he frequently hinted it very broadly. He
would often take me on his knee, and, while fondling me, would say, in
presence of my father and mother--"Well, my little fellow, who knows but
you may ride in your carriage yet? As odd things have happened." Then,
"Would you like to be a rich man, Bobby?" he would inquire, looking
archly at me. "If you continue as good a boy as you are just now, I'll
undertake to promise that you will." In short, before leaving us, our
wealthy friend, whose name was Jeremiah Hairsplitter, held out certain
hopes to my parents of my being handsomely provided for in his will.
This so affected us all, that we wept bitterly when the good old man
left us to return to the West Indies; where, however, he told us, he now
intended remaining only a short time, having made up his mind to come
home and spend the remainder of his days with us.

Well, gentlemen (said the little hump-backed man in the bright yellow
waistcoat), here was a very agreeable prospect, you'll all allow; and
it was one in which there appeared so much certainty, that it cost my
father--who had been led to believe he should get a handsome slice
too--many serious thoughts as to how we should dispose of the money--how
lay it out to the best advantage. My father, who was a very pious man,
determined, for one thing, to build a church; and, as to me and my
fortune, he thought the best thing I could do, seeing, from my
deformities, that I was not very well adapted for undergoing the
fatigues of a professional life, was, when I should become a little
older, to turn country gentleman; and with this idea he was himself
so well pleased, that he began, thinking it best to take time by the
forelock, to look around for a suitable seat for me when I should come
of age and be ready to act on my own account; and he fortunately
succeeded in finding one that seemed a very eligible investment. It was
a very handsome country house, about the distance of three miles from
where we lived, and to which there was attached an estate of 1000 acres
of land, all in a high state of cultivation. The upset price of the
whole--for the property was at that moment on sale--was £20,000; a dead
bargain, as the lawyer who had the management of the property assured
us. It was worth at least double the money, he said; and in this Mr.
Longshanks, the land-measurer, whom my father also consulted on the
subject, perfectly agreed; but was good enough to give my father a quiet
hint to hold off a bit, and, as the proprietor was in great distress for
money, he might probably get the estate for £18,000, or something, at
any rate, considerably below the price named. Grateful for this hint, my
father invited Mr. Longshanks to dine with him, and gave him a bottle
of his best wine. Now, gentlemen, please to observe (said the little
hunch-backed gentleman in the bright yellow waistcoat) that while we
were thus treating about an estate worth £20,000, we had not a sixpence
wherewith to buy it; so that Mr. Longshanks' hint about holding off was
rather a superfluous one. But then our prospects were good--nay,
certain; there was, therefore, no harm--nay, it was proper and prudent
to anticipate matters a little in the way we did; so that we might at
once have the advantage of sufficient time to do things deliberately,
and be prepared to make a good use of our fortune the moment we got
possession of it.

That our prospects were excellent, I think you will all allow,
gentlemen, when you take into account what I have already told regarding
our worthy relative; but that they really were so, you will still more
readily admit, when I tell you that we received many letters from Mr.
Hairsplitter, after his arrival in Jamaica (for he now opened a regular
correspondence with us), in all of which he continued not only to keep
our hopes alive, as to the destination of his wealth, but to increase
them; so that I--for the bulk of his fortune, there was no doubt, was
intended for me--was already looked upon as a singularly lucky young
dog; and of this opinion, in the most unqualified sense, and in a most
especial manner, was my mother, my nurse, and the lady who ushered me
into the world--all of whom exultingly referred to my caul, and to their
own oft-expressed sentiments regarding the luck that was to befall me.

But, to return to my story. After a lapse of about two or three years,
during which, as I have said, we received many letters from our worthy
relative, one came, in which he informed us that it was the last we
should have from him from Jamaica, as he had wound up all his affairs,
and was about to leave the island, to return home and spend the
remainder of his days with us, or in our immediate neighbourhood.

Well, gentlemen, you see matters were gradually approaching to a very
delightful crisis; and we, as you may believe, saw it with no small
satisfaction. We indulged in the most delicious dreams; indeed, our
whole life was now one continued reverie of the most soothing and balmy
kind. From this dreamy state, however, we were very soon awakened by the
following paragraph in a newspaper, which my father accidentally
stumbled on, one morning as we were at breakfast. It was headed
"Dreadful Shipwreck," and went on thus:--"It is with feelings of the
most sincere regret we inform our readers, that the Isabella, from
Jamaica to London, has foundered at sea, and every one on board
perished, together with the whole of a most valuable cargo. Amongst the
unfortunate passengers in this ill-fated vessel was a Mr. Jeremiah
Hairsplitter, a well-known Jamaica planter, who was on his return, for
good and all, to his native land. The whole of this gentleman's wealth,
which was enormous, will now go, it is said (he having died intestate),
to a poor man in this neighbourhood [Liverpool], who is nearest of kin."

Well, gentlemen (continued the little hump-backed man in the bright
yellow waistcoat), here was a pretty finish to all our bright
anticipations! For some time, indeed, we entertained hopes that the
reports, especially the last, might be false; but, alas! they turned out
too true. True, true were they, to the letter. My father, unwilling to
believe that all was lost, called upon a lawyer in the town where we
resided, who had a good deal to do with our late relative's affairs;
and, after mentioning to him the footing we were on with the deceased,
and the expectations he had led us to indulge in, inquired if _nothing_
would arise to us from Mr. Hairsplitter's effects.

"Not a rap!" was the laconic and dignified reply--"not a cross, not
a cowrie! You haven't a shadow of claim to anything. All that Mr.
Hairsplitter may have said goes for nothing, as it is not down in black
and white, in legal phrase."

So, my friends (said the narrator, with a sigh) here was an end to this
fortune and to my luck, at that bout, at any rate. Still, gentlemen
(went on the little hump-backed man in the bright yellow waistcoat), I
maintain there was luck in the caul.

I was now, you must know, my friends, getting up in years--that is to
say, I was now somewhere about one-and-twenty. Well, my father, thinking
it full time that I should be put in a way of doing something for
myself, applied, in my behalf, to a certain nobleman who resided in our
neighbourhood, and who was under obligations to my father for some
election services. When my father called on the peer alluded to, and
informed him of his object--"Why, sir," said his lordship, "this is
rather a fortunate circumstance for both of us. I am just now in want of
precisely such a young man as you describe your son to be, to act as my
secretary and amanuensis, and will therefore be very glad to employ
him." His lordship then mentioned his terms. They were liberal, and, of
course, instantly accepted. This settled, my father was desired to send
me to Cram Hall, his lordship's residence, next day, to enter on my new
duties.

Here, then, you see, was luck at last, gentlemen (said the little
hump-backed gentleman in the bright yellow waistcoat); for the nobleman
was powerful, and there was no saying what he might do for me. Next day,
accordingly, I repaired to Cram Hall with a beating, but exulting heart;
for I was at once proud of my employment, and terrified for my employer,
who was, I knew, a dignified, pompous, vain, conceited personage.

"Show off your Latin to him, Dick, my boy," said my father, before I set
out: "it will give him a good opinion of your talents and erudition." I
promised that I would.

Well, on being introduced to his lordship, he received me with the most
affable condescension; but there was something about his affability, I
thought, which made it look extremely like as if it had been assumed for
the purpose of showing how a great man could descend.

"Glad to see you, young man," he said. "I hope you and I shall get on
well together. But there was just one single question regarding you,
which I quite forgot to put to your father. Do you understand Latin
thoroughly?--that is, can you translate it readily?"

Feeling my own strength on this point, and delighted that he had
afforded me so early an opportunity of declaring it, I replied, with a
degree of exultation which I had some difficulty in repressing--"I
flatter myself, my lord, that you will not find me deficient in that
particular. I understand Latin very well, and will readily undertake to
translate anything in that language which may be presented to me."

"In that case," replied his lordship, gravely, "I am sorry to say, young
man, you will not suit me."

"How, my lord!" said I, with a look of mingled amazement and
disappointment--"because I understand Latin? I should have thought that
a recommendation to your lordship's service."

"Quite otherwise, sir," replied his lordship, coolly. "It may appear to
you, indeed, sir, rather an odd ground of disqualification. But the
thing is easily explained. I have often occasion, sir," he went on, with
increasing dignity, "to write on matters of importance to my friends in
the cabinet; and, when I have anything of a very particular nature to
say, I always write my sentiments in Latin. It would therefore, sir, be
imprudent of me to employ any one in transcribing such letters, who is
conversant with the language alluded to; or, indeed, otherwise exposing
them to the eye of such a person. You will, therefore, young man,"
continued the peer--now rising from his seat, as if with a desire that I
should take the movement as a hint that he wished the interview to
terminate--"present my respects to your father, and say that I am very
sorry for this affair--very sorry, indeed."

Saying this, he edged me towards the door; and, long before I reached
it, bowed me a good morning, which there was no evading. I acknowledged
it the best way I could, left the house, and returned home--I leave you,
gentlemen, to conceive with what feelings. My Latin, you see, of which I
was so vain, and which, with anybody else, would have been a help to
success in the world in many situations, and in none could have been
against it, was the very reverse to me.

That there was luck in the caul, gentlemen, nevertheless, I still
maintain (said the little hump-backed man in the bright yellow
waistcoat, laughing); and you will acknowledge it when I tell you that,
soon after the occurrence just related, I bought a ticket in the
lottery, which turned out a prize of £20,000."

"Ha, ha! at last!" here shouted out, with one voice, all the little
man's auditors. "So you caught it at last!"

"Not so fast, gentlemen, if you please--not so fast," said the little
man, gravely. "The facts certainly were as I have stated. I did buy a
ticket in the lottery. I recollect the number well, and will as long as
I live. I chose it for its oddity. It was 9999, and it did turn out a
£20,000 prize. But there is a trifling particular or two regarding it
which I have yet to explain. A gentleman, an acquaintance of mine, to
whom I had expressed some regret at having ventured so much money on a
lottery ticket, offered not only to relieve me of it, but to give me a
premium of five pounds, subject to a deduction of the price of a bowl of
punch. "A bird in hand's worth two in the bush," thought I, and at once
closed with his offer. Nay, so well pleased was I with my bargain, that
I insisted on giving an additional bowl, and actually did so.

Next day, my ticket was drawn a twenty thousand pound prize! and I
had the happiness (added the little man, with a rueful expression of
countenance) of communicating to my friend his good luck, as the letter
of advice on the subject came, in the first instance, to me.

However, gentlemen, luck there was in the caul still, say I (continued
the little hump-backed gentleman in the bright yellow waistcoat). Love,
gentlemen--sweet, dear, delightful love!--(here the little man looked
extremely sentimental)--came to soothe my woes and banish my regrets.
Yes, my friends he said (observing a slight smile of surprise and
incredulity on the countenance of his auditors, proceeding, we need
hardly say, from certain impressions regarding his personal appearance),
I say that love--dear, delightful love--came now to my aid, to reconcile
me to my misfortunes, and to restore my equanimity. The objects of my
affections--for there were two----"

"Oh, unconscionable man!" we here all exclaimed in one breath. "Two! Ah!
too bad that."

"Yes, I repeat, two," said the little man composedly--"the objects of my
passion were two. The one was a beautiful girl of three-and-twenty--the
other, a beautiful little fortune of £10,000, of which she was in full
and uncontrolled possession. Well, gentlemen, to make a long story
short, we loved each other most devotedly; for she was a girl of
singular judgment and penetration, and placed little store by mere
personal appearance in those she loved: the mind, gentlemen--the mind
was what this amiable girl looked to. Well, as I was saying, we loved
each other with the fondest affection, and at length I succeeded in
prevailing upon her to name the happy day when we should become one.
Need I describe to you, gentleman, what were my transports--what the
intoxicating feelings of delight with which my whole soul was absorbed
by the contemplation of the delicious prospect that lay before me! A
beautiful woman and a fortune of £10,000 within my grasp! No. I'm sure I
need not describe the sensations I allude to, gentlemen--you will at
once conceive and appreciate them.

Well, my friends, all went smoothly on with me this time. The happy day
arrived--we proceeded to church. The clergyman began the service. In
three minutes more, gentleman, I would have been indissolubly united to
my beloved and her £10,000, when, at this critical moment, a person
rushed breathless into the church, forced his way through the crowd of
friends by whom we were surrounded, and caught my betrothed in his arms,
exclaiming--"Jessie, Jessie! would you forsake me? Have you forgot your
vows?" Jessie replied by a loud shriek, and immediately fainted.

Here, then, you see, gentlemen (continued the little hump-backed man in
the bright yellow waistcoat), was a pretty kick-up all in a moment.

In a twinkling, the bevy of friends by whom we were accompanied
scattered in all directions--some running for water, some for brandy,
some for one thing and some for another, till there was scarcely one
left in the church. The service was, of course, instantly stopped; and
my beloved was, in the meantime, very tenderly supported by the arms of
the stranger; for such he was to me at any rate, although by no means
so either to the lady herself or to her friends. I was, as you may well
believe, all astonishment and amazement at this extraordinary scene, and
could not at all conceive what it meant; but it was not long before I
was very fully informed on this head. To return, however, in the
meantime, to the lady. On recovering from her fainting fit, the
stranger, who had been all along contemplating her with a look of the
most tender affection, asked her, in a gentle voice, "If she would still
continue true to him." And, gentlemen, she answered, though in a voice
scarcely audible, "Yes;" and, immediately after, the two walked out of
the church arm in arm, in spite of the remonstrances and even threats
of myself and my friends--leaving us, and me in particular, to such
reflections on the uncertainty of all human events as the circumstance
which had just occurred was calculated to excite. In three weeks after,
the stranger and Jessie were married. Who he was is soon explained. He
had been a favoured lover of Jessie's some seven years before, and had
gone abroad, where it was believed he had died, there having been no
word from him during the greater part of that period. How this was
explained I never knew; but that he was not dead, you will allow was now
pretty clearly established.

Now, gentlemen (added our little friend), I have brought my mishaps up
to the present date. What may be still in store for me, I know not; but
I have now brought myself to the peaceful and most comfortable condition
of having no hopes of succeeding in anything, and therefore am freed, at
least, from all liability to the pains of disappointment." And here
ended the story of the little hump-backed gentleman in the bright yellow
waistcoat.

We all felt for his disappointments, and wished him better luck.

The person to whose turn it came next to entertain us, was a quiet,
demure looking personage, of grave demeanour, but of mild and pleasant
countenance. His gravity, we thought, partook a little of melancholy;
and he was, in consequence, recognised generally in the house by the
title of the melancholy gentleman. He was, however, very far from being
morose; indeed, on the contrary, he was exceedingly kind and gentle in
his manner, and would not, I am convinced, have harmed the meanest
insect that crawls, let alone his own species.

"Well, gentlemen," said this person, on being informed that it was his
turn to divert us with some story or other, "I will do the best I can
to entertain you, and will follow the example of my unfortunate
predecessor of the evening, by choosing a subject of something of a
personal nature."

"To begin, then, my friends," went on the melancholy gentleman--"I do
not, I think, arrogate too much when I say that I am as peaceable and
peace-loving a man as ever existed. I have always abhorred strife and
wrangling; and never knowingly or willingly interfere in any way with
the affairs of my neighbours or of others. I would, in short, at any
time, rather sacrifice my interests than quarrel with any one; while I
reckon it the greatest happiness to be let alone, and to be allowed to
get through the world quietly and noiselessly. From my very infancy, my
friends (said the melancholy gentleman), I loved quiet above all things;
and there is a tradition in our family, strikingly corroborative of
this. The tradition alluded to bears that I never cried while an infant,
and that I never could endure my rattle. Well, gentlemen, such were and
such still are my dispositions. But, offending no one, and interfering
with no one, how have I been treated in my turn? You shall hear.

At school, I was thrashed by the master for not interfering to prevent
my companions fighting; and I was thrashed by my companions for not
taking part in their quarrels: so that, between them, I had, I assure
you, a very miserable life of it. However, these were but small matters,
compared to what befell me after I had fairly embarked in the world.

My first experience after this, of how little my peaceful and
inoffensive disposition would avail me, was with an evening club which I
joined. For some time I got on very well with the persons who composed
this association, and seemed--at least I thought so--to be rather a
favourite with them, on account of my quiet and peaceable demeanour;
and, under ordinary circumstances, perhaps I might have continued so.
But the demon of discord got amongst them, and I became, in consequence
of my non-resisting qualities, the scapegoat of their spleen; or rather,
I became the safety-valve by which their passions found a harmless
egress. But, to drop metaphor, my friends (said the melancholy
gentleman), the club got to loggerheads on a certain political
question--I forget now what it was--and for some nights there was a
great deal of angry discussion and violent altercation on the subject.
In these debates, however, in accordance with my natural disposition, I
took no part whatever, except by making some fruitless attempts to abate
the resentment of the parties, by thrusting in a jocular remark or so,
when anything particularly severe was said. Well, gentlemen, how was I
rewarded for this charitable conduct, think you? Why, I'll tell you.

On the third or fourth night, I think it was, of the discussion alluded
to, a member got up and said, addressing the club--"My friends, a good
deal of vituperation and opprobrious language has been used in this here
room, regarding the question we have been discussing these three or four
nights back; but we have all spoke our minds freely, and stood to it
like men who isn't afeard to speak their sentiments anywhere. Now, I
says that's what I likes. I likes a man to stand to his tackle. But I
hates, as I do the devil, your snakes in the grass, your smooth-chopped
fellows, who hears all and never says nothing, so as how you can't tell
whether he is fish or flesh. I say, I hate such dastardly, sneaking
fellows, who won't speak out; and I says that such are unfit for this
company;" (here the speaker looked hard at me); "and I move that he be
turned out directly, neck and heel."

Well, this speech, my friends (went on the melancholy gentleman), which
you will perceive was levelled at me, was received with a shout of
applause by both parties. The ruffing and cheering was immense; and
most laudably prompt was the execution of the proposal that excited
it. Before I had time to evacuate the premises quietly and of my own
accord, which I was about to do, I was seized by the breast by a tall
ferocious-looking fellow, who sat next me, and who was immediately aided
by three or four others, and dragged over every obstacle that stood in
the way to the door, out of which I was finally kicked with particular
emphasis.

Such, then, my friends (said the melancholy gentleman), was the first
most remarkable instance of the benefits I was likely to derive from my
inoffensive non-meddling disposition. However, it was my nature; and
neither this unmerited treatment, nor any other usage which I afterwards
experienced, could alter it.

Some time after this, I connected myself with a certain congregation in
our town, and it unfortunately happened that, soon after I joined them,
they came all to sixes and sevens about a minister. One party was for a
Mr. Triterite, the other a Mr. White. These were distinguished, as
usual, in such and similar cases, by the adjunct _ite_, which had, as
you may perceive, a most unhappy effect in the case of the name of the
first gentleman, whose followers were called Triteriteites, and those of
the other Whiteites. However, this was but a small matter. To proceed.
In the squabbles alluded to, gentlemen, I took no part; it being a
matter of perfect indifference to me which of the candidates had the
appointment. All that I desired was, that I might be let alone, and not
be called upon to interfere in any way in the dispute. But would they
allow me this indulgence, think you? No, not they. They resolved,
seemingly, that my unobtrusive conduct should be no protection to me.
Two or three days after the commencement of the contest, I was waited
upon by a deputation from a committee of the Triteriteites, and
requested to join them in opposing the Whiteites. This I civilly
declined; telling them, at the same time, that it was my intention and
my earnest wish to avoid all interference in the pending controversy;
that I was perfectly indifferent to which of the candidates the church
was given, and would be very glad to become a hearer of either of them;
that, in short, I wished to make myself no enemies on account of any
such contest.

"Oh, very well, Mr. B----," said the spokesman, reddening with anger,
"we understand all this perfectly, and think very little, I assure you,
of such mean evasive conduct. Had you said boldly and at once that you
favoured the other party, we would at least have given you credit for
honesty. But you may depend upon it, sir," he added, "White never will
get the church. That you may rely upon."

"Scurvy conduct," muttered another of the committee, as he was retiring
after the speaker.

"Shabby, sniveling, _drivelling_ conduct," muttered a third.

"Low, mean, _sneaking_ conduct," said a fourth.

"Dirty subterfuge," exclaimed a fifth. And off the gentlemen went.

But they had not yet done with me. One of the number was a person with
whom I had some acquaintance, and the next day I received from him the
following note:--"Sir, your unmanly (I will not mince the matter with
you), your unmanly and disingenuous conduct yesterday, when called upon
by Mr. Triterite's committee, has so disgusted me that I beg you to
understand that we are friends no longer. A candid and open avowal of
opposite sentiments from those which I entertain, I trust, I shall be
always liberal enough to tolerate in any one, without prejudice to
previous intimacy; but I cannot remain on terms of friendship with a man
who has the meanness to seek to conciliate the party he opposes, by
concealing his adherence to that which he has espoused.--I am, sir,"
&c.

Well, my friends (said the melancholy gentleman), was not this an
extremely hard case? To be thus abused, and reviled, and scouted, for
merely desiring to be allowed to live in peace, and to have nothing to
do with a squabble in which I did not feel in any way interested. But
this was not all. I was lampooned, caricatured, and paragraphed in the
newspapers, in a thousand different ways. In the first, I was satirized
as the _fair_ dealer; in the second, I was represented as a wolf in
sheep's clothing; and in the last, I was hinted at as "a certain quiet
double-faced gentleman, not a hundred miles from hence."

But still this was not all. Two or three days after I had been waited on
by the Triteriteites, the same honour was done me by the Whiteites, and
with similar views. To the gentlemen of this party, I said precisely
what I had said to those of the opposite faction, and begged of them, in
heaven's name, to let me alone, and settle the matter amongst them as
they best could.

"Well," replied one of the gentlemen, when I had done, "I must say, I
did not expect this of you, Mr. B. I thought I could have reckoned
on your support; but it doesn't signify. We can secure Mr. White's
appointment without you. But I must say, if you had been the candid man
I took you for, you would have told me, ere this, that you meant to have
supported the other party. I really cannot think very highly, Mr. B., of
your conduct in this matter; but it doesn't signify, sir--it doesn't
signify. We now know who are our friends and who are not. Mr. Triterite,
you may depend upon it, will never get the church, even though he has
you to support him." Saying this, he turned on his heel and left me,
followed by his train, who, precisely as the others had done, muttered
as they went, "shabby fellow," "mean scamp," "shuffling conduct," "snake
in the grass" (favourite phrase this), &c. &c.

Well, my friends, here you see (said the melancholy gentleman), without
giving any one the smallest offence, and desiring nothing so much as
peace and the good will of my neighbours--here was I, I say, become
obnoxious to heaven knows how many people; for my reputation naturally
extended from the committees to the other members of the congregation,
and from them again to their friends and acquaintances; so that I had,
in the end, a pretty formidable array of enemies. The consequence of
this affair was, that I soon found myself compelled, from the petty
persecutions and annoyances of all sorts, to which I was subsequently
exposed, to leave the congregation altogether. However, to compensate
for all these troubles and vexations, I had the good fortune, about this
time, to become acquainted with a very amiable young lady, as peaceably
inclined and as great a lover of quiet as myself. This lady I married,
having previously secured a house in one of the quietest and most
retired places in the town, so as to be out of the way of all noise and
din. Immediately beneath this house, however, there was an empty unlet
shop, which I could not help regarding with a suspicious eye, from an
apprehension that it might be taken by a person of some noisy calling or
other; and so much at last did this fear alarm me, that I determined on
taking the shop into my own hands, and running myself the risk of its
letting--thus securing the choice of a tenant. Having come to this
resolution, then, I called upon the landlord and inquired the rent.

"O sir," said he, "the shop is let."

"Let, sir!" replied I; "I saw a ticket on it yesterday."

"That might well be, sir, for it was only let this morning."

"And to whom, sir, is it let, may I ask? I mean, sir, what is his
business?"

"A tinsmith, sir," said the landlord, coolly.

"A tinsmith!" replied I, turning pale. "Then my worse fears are
realized!"

The landlord looked surprised, and inquired what I meant. I told him,
and had a laugh from him for my pains.

Yes, my friends (said the melancholy gentleman), a tinsmith had taken
the shop--a working tinsmith--and a most industrious and hard-working
one he was, to my cost. But this was not the worst of it. The tinsmith
was not a week in his new shop, when he received a large West India
order; and when I mention that this piece of good fortune, as I have
no doubt he reckoned it, compelled him to engage about a score of
additional hands, I may safely leave it to yourselves, gentlemen, to
conceive what sort of a neighbourhood I soon found myself in. On this
subject, then, I need only say, that, in less than a week thereafter, I
was fairly hammered out of the house, and compelled to look out for
other quarters. But this, after all, was merely a personal matter--one
which did not involve the inimical feelings of others towards me; and,
therefore, though an inconvenience at the time, it did not disturb my
quiet beyond the moment of suffering, as those unhappy occurrences did
in which I had, however unwittingly, provoked the enmity of others; and,
therefore, after I had been fairly settled in my new house, I thought
very little more about the matter, and was beginning to enjoy the calm,
quiet life which I so much loved, as nobody had meddled with me for
upwards of three weeks. But, alas! this felicity was to be but of short
duration. The election of a member of Parliament came on, and I had a
vote--but I had determined to make no use of it; for, being but little
of a politician, and, above all things, desiring to be on good terms
with everybody, whatever might be their religious or political
persuasions, I thought the best way for me was to take no share whatever
in the impending contest; it being a mere matter of moonshine to me
whether Whig or Tory was uppermost. In adopting this neutral course, I
expected, and I think not unreasonably, to get quietly through with the
matter, and that I should avoid giving offence to any one. I will
further confess, that, besides this feeling, I was guided to a certain
extent by interest. I had many customers of opposite political
tenets--Whig, Tory, and Radical--and I was desirous of retaining the
custom and good will of them all, by taking part with none. Grievous
error--dreadful mistake!

Soon after, the candidates started, and there happened to be one of each
of the three classes just mentioned--that is, Whig, Tory, and Radical. I
received a card from one of my best customers, a Whig, containing a
larger order than usual for tea, wine, spirits, &c.--such being the
articles in which I deal, gentlemen (said our melancholy friend); but,
at the bottom of the slip, there was the following note:--"Mr. S----
hopes he may count on Mr. B.'s supporting the Liberal interest in the
ensuing election, by giving his vote to Lord Botherem. Mr. S---- is
perfectly aware of Mr. B.'s indifference to political matters; but it is
on this very account that Mr. S---- reckons on his support, as it can be
a matter of no moment to him to whom he gives his vote."

Well, gentleman, here you see was the first attack upon me; and the
second soon followed. I saw the storm that was gathering. In the course
of the very same day, I was waited on by another customer, an inveterate
Tory.

"Well, Mr. B.," he said, on entering my shop, "I am come to solicit a
very important favour from you; but still one which I am sure you will
not refuse an old friend and a tolerably good customer. In short, Mr.
B.," he went on, "knowing it is a matter of moonshine to you who is
member for this burgh--for I've heard you say so--I have come to ask
your vote for Mr. Blatheringham, the Tory candidate."

"My dear sir," I replied, "you are quite right in saying that it is a
matter of moonshine to me what may be the political tenets of our
member; but I have resolved--and I have done so for that very
reason--not to interfere in the matter at all. I do not mean to vote
on any side." And I laughed; but my friend looked grave.

"Oh! you don't, Mr. B.!" he said. "Then am I to understand that you
won't oblige me in this matter, although it is on a point which is of no
consequence to you, on your own confession, and, therefore, requiring no
sacrifice of political principle."

"My dear sir," replied I, in the mildest and most conciliating manner
possible, anxious to turn away wrath--"I have already said"----

"Oh! I know very well, sir, what you have said, and I'll recollect it,
too, you may depend upon it, and not much to your profit. My account's
closed with you, sir. Good morning!" And out of the shop he went in a
furious passion. On the day following this, I received a note from
the Whig canvasser, in reply to one from me on the subject of _his_
solicitation, in which I had expressed nearly the same sentiments which
I delivered verbally to my Tory friend: and in this note I was served
with almost precisely the same terms which the Tory had used in return,
only he carried the matter a little farther--telling me plainly that he
would not only withdraw his own custom from me, but do his endeavour to
deprive me of the custom of those of his friends who dealt with me,
who were of the same political opinions with himself. This I thought
barefaced enough; and I daresay you will agree with me, my friends (said
the melancholy gentleman), that it was so.

Here then, were two of my best customers lost to me for ever. Nay, not
only their own custom, but that of all their political partisans who
happened to deal with me; for the one was fully as good as his word, and
the other a great deal better: that is to say, the one who threatened
to deprive me of the custom of his friends, as well as his own, did so
most effectually; while the other, who held out no such threat, did
precisely the same thing by his friends, and with at least equal
success.

In truth, I wanted now but to be asked to support the Radical interest
to be fairly ruined; and this was a piece of good fortune that was not
long denied me. "My dear Bob,"--thus commenced a note, which I had, on
this unhappy occasion, from an intimate friend, a rattling, rough,
outspoken fellow--"As I know your political creed to be couched in the
phrase--'Let who likes be king, I'll be subject'--that is, you don't
care one of your own figs what faction is uppermost--I request, as a
personal favour, your support for Mr. Sweepthedecks; and this I do the
more readily, that I know there is no chance of your being pre-engaged.
Now, you musn't refuse me, Bob, else you and I will positively quarrel;
for I have promised to secure you."

Here then, you see, my friends (said the melancholy gentleman), was
a climax. The unities in the system of persecution adopted against
me were strictly observed. There was beginning, middle, and end
complete--nothing wanting. Well--still determined to maintain my
neutrality--I wrote a note to my friend, expressing precisely the same
sentiments to which I have so often alluded. To this note I received no
answer; and can only conjecture the effect it had upon him by the
circumstance of his withdrawing his custom from me, and never again
entering my shop.

Observe, however, my friends (here said the melancholy gentleman), that,
in speaking of the persecutions I underwent on this occasion, I have
merely selected instances--you are by no means to understand that the
cases just mentioned included all the annoyance I met with on the
subject of my vote. Not at all. I have, as already said, merely
instanced these cases. I was assailed by scores of others in the same
way. Indeed, there was not a day, for upwards of three weeks, that I was
not badgered and abused by somebody or other--ay, and that too, in my
own shop. But my shop was now not worth keeping; for Whig, Tory, and
Radical had deserted me, and left me to the full enjoyment of my
reflections on the course I had pursued. In short, I found that, in
endeavouring to offend no one, I had offended everybody; and that, in
place of securing my own peace, I had taken the most effectual way I
possibly could to make myself unhappy.

Well, in the meantime, you see, my friends (continued the melancholy
gentleman), the election came on, and was gained by the Whig candidate.
The streets were on the occasion paraded by the partisans of each of the
parties; and, as is not unusual in such cases, there was a great deal of
mischief done, and of which, as a sufferer, I came in for a very liberal
share. The Whig mob attacked my shop, and demolished everything in it,
to celebrate their triumph, as they said, by plucking a _hen_--in other
words, one who would not support them. The Tory mob, again, attacked my
house, and smashed every one of my windows, alleging that, as I was not
a Tory, I must be a Whig; and, finally, the third estate came in, and
finished what the other two had left undone, because I was not a
Radical.

Here, then, gentlemen, was I, I repeat, who had offended no one, or,
at least, had given no one any reasonable grounds of offence, but who,
on the contrary, was most anxious to remain on friendly terms with
everybody--here, I say, then, was I, surrounded with enemies, persecuted
at all hands, my business dwindled away to nothing, and, lastly, my
effects destroyed, to the extent of nearly all I possessed in the world.
There was still, however, a small residue left; and with this I now
determined to retire to the country, and to take a small house in some
sequestered place, at a distance from all other human habitations, with
the view of ascertaining if I could not there secure the peace and
quietness which I found the most harmless and inoffensive conduct could
not procure me in society. I determined, in short, to fly the face of
man. Well, such a house as I wished, I, after some time, found; and to
it I immediately retired. It was situated in a remote part of the
country, in a romantic little glen, and several miles distant, on all
hands, from any other residence--just the thing I wanted. Here at last,
thought I, as I gazed on the solitude around me, I will find that peace
and quiet that are so dear to me; here is no one to quarrel with me
because I do not choose to think as he does--none to disturb me because
I seek to disturb no one. Fatal error again!

There was a small trouting stream at a short distance from the house. I
was fond of angling. I went to the river with rod and line, threw in (it
was the very next day after I had taken possession of my new residence),
and in the next instant found myself seized by the cuff of the neck. I
had trespassed; and an immediate prosecution, notwithstanding all the
concession I could make, was the consequence. The proprietor, at whose
instance this proceeding took place, was a brute--a tyrant. To all my
overtures, his only reply was, that he was determined to make an example
of me; and this he did, to the tune of about a score of pounds. This
occurrence, of course, put an immediate stop to my fishing recreations;
and, at the same time, excited some suspicion in my mind as to the
perfect felicity which I was likely to enjoy in my retirement. Having
given up all thoughts of angling, I now took to walking, and determined
to make a general inspection of the country in my neighbourhood; taking
one direction one day, and another the next, and so on, till I should
have seen all around me to the extent of some miles--"And surely this,"
thought I to myself, "will give offence to nobody." Well, in pursuance
of this resolution, I started on my first voyage of discovery; but had
not proceeded far, when a beautiful shady avenue, with its gate flung
invitingly open, tempted me to diverge. I entered it, and was sauntering
luxuriously along, with my hat in my hand, enjoying the cool shade of
the lofty umbrageous trees by which it was skirted, and admiring the
beauties around me--for it was, indeed, a most lovely place. I was, in
short, in a kind of delightful reverie, when all of a sudden I found
myself again seized by the cuff of the neck, by a ferocious-looking
fellow with a gun in his hand.

"What do you want here, sir?" said the savage, looking at me as if he
would have torn me to pieces.

"Nothing, my good fellow," replied I, mildly. "I want nothing. I came
here merely to enjoy a walk in this beautiful avenue."

"Then, you'll pay for your walk, I warrant you. Curse me, if you don't!
You have no right here, sir. Didn't you see the ticket at the entrance,
forbidding all strangers to come here?"

I declared I did not; which was true.

"Then I'll teach you to look sharper next time. Your name, sir?"

I gave it; and, in three days after, was served with a summons for
another trespass, and was again severely fined.

"Strange land of liberty this!" thought I on this occasion--as, indeed,
I had done on some others before--"where one dare not think as they
please without making a host of enemies, and where you can neither turn
to the right or the left without being taken by the neck."

I now, in short, found, gentlemen (said our melancholy friend), that I
had only exchanged one scene of troubles for another; and that even my
remote and sequestered situation was no protection to me whatever from
annoyance and persecution; and I therefore resolved to quit and return
once more to the town, to make another trial of the justice of mankind;
and in this resolution I was confirmed by a letter which I shortly after
this received from the proprietor whose lands adjoined the small patch
of ground that was attached to the house I resided in.

"Sir," began this new correspondent, "you must be aware that it is the
business of the tenant of the house you occupy to keep the drain which
passes your garden in an efficient state, throughout the length of its
passage by your ground. Now, sir, it is, at present, far from being in
such a condition; and the consequence is, that a large portion of my
land in your neighbourhood is laid under water, to my serious loss. I
therefore request that you will instantly see to this, to prevent
further trouble. I am, sir," &c.

Well, gentlemen (continued our melancholy friend), to prevent this
further trouble, and to keep, if possible, on goods terms with my
neighbour, I went, immediately on receipt of his letter, and examined
the drain in question; resolving, at the same time, to do what he
requested, or rather commanded, if it could be done at a reasonable
cost, although I conceived that it was a matter with which I had
nothing to do. It was an affair of my landlord's altogether, I thought,
especially as nothing had been said to me about the drain when I took
the house--at least nothing that I recollected. However, as I have said,
I determined, for peace's sake, to repair it in the meantime, and to
take my landlord in my own hand for restitution. On looking at the
drain, I found it indeed in a very bad state, and immediately sent for a
person skilled in such matters to give me an idea of what might be the
cost of putting it in a proper order; and was informed that it might be
put in very good condition, in such a state as my neighbour could not
object to, for about fifty pounds. Now, gentlemen, this was precisely
equal to two years' rent of my house, and, I thought, rather too large a
price to pay for the good will of my neighbour; and I resisted, at the
same time referring him to my landlord. My landlord said he had nothing
to do with it, and that I must settle the affair with Mr. T---- the best
way I could. Well, I took advice in the matter, for I thought it looked
very like a conspiracy against my simplicity and good nature; and was
advised by all means to resist. The result was, that my neighbour, Mr.
T----, immediately commenced a suit against me; and, in my own defence,
I was compelled to raise an action of relief against my landlord; so
that, when I returned to town, I brought with me from my sweet, calm,
peaceable retirement, a couple of full blown law pleas of the most
promising dimensions. Who would have thought it--who would have dreamt
it--that, in this seclusion, this desert, as I may call it, I should
have got involved in such a world of troubles? Well, gentlemen, what do
you think was the result? Why, both cases were given against me. In the
one, I had to pay costs--and in the other, to pay costs and repair the
drain too; and (added the melancholy gentleman with a sigh) I am at
this moment on my way to Edinburgh to pay the last instalment of these
ruinous and iniquitous claims." And, with this, the melancholy gentleman
ended the sad story of his sufferings.

We all pitied him from our hearts, and each in his own way offered him
the condolence that his case demanded.

He thanked us for the sympathy we expressed, and said that he felt
encouraged by it to ask our advice as to how he should conduct himself
in future, so as to obtain the peace and quiet he so earnestly desired.

"What would you recommend me to do, gentlemen--where would you advise me
to go," he said, in an imploring and despairing tone--nay, we thought
half crying--"to escape this merciless and unprovoked persecution?"

We were all much affected by this piteous appeal, and felt every desire
to afford such counsel to our ill-used friend as might be of service to
him; but, while we did so, we felt also the extreme difficulty of the
case; for we did not see by what possible line of conduct he could
escape persecution, if the very harmless and inoffensive one which he
had hitherto, of his own accord, adopted, had been found ineffectual for
his protection.

Indeed, it was the very, nay, the only one, which, _a priori_, we would
have recommended to him; but, as he had clearly shown us that it was an
ineffectual one, we really felt greatly at a loss what to say; and,
under this difficulty, we all remained for some time thoughtful and
silent. At length, however, it was agreed amongst us, as the case was
a poser, that we should sleep on the matter, and in the morning come
prepared with such advice as our intervening cogitations should suggest.

The melancholy gentleman again thanked us for the kind interest we
took in his unhappy case; adding, that he was now so disheartened, so
depressed in spirits, by the usage he had met with, that he almost felt
it an obligation to be allowed to live.

As it was now wearing late, and our landlord had just come in to
announce that supper was ready, and would be served up when ordered,
we agreed to rest satisfied for the night with the extempore
autobiographies, as I may call them, of our two worthy companions--the
little hunch-backed personage in the bright yellow waistcoat, and the
melancholy gentleman; but we, at the same time, resolved that we would
resume the same mode of entertainment on the following evening, and
continue it till every one had contributed his quota.



GUILTY, OR NOT GUILTY.


On the 15th of September, 17--, an unusual stir was observable in our
village. The people were gathered in little groups in the streets, with
earnest and awe-stricken countenances; and even the little children had
ceased their play, and, clinging to their mothers, looked up as if
wondering what strange thing had happened. In some parts of the town the
crowds were larger, but the remarks less audible; at times, two or three
individuals were seen passing along, in grave conversation, while the
women stood in groups at their own or their neighbour's doors, many of
them with tears in their eyes, and giving utterance occasionally to
sounds of lamentation. It was evident, to the most casual observer, that
something unusual had occurred--something that had stricken a feeling
approaching to alarm into all hearts--and that all were engaged in the
discussion of one common topic. There was that gathering together, as if
for mutual support, or for the purposes of sympathy and consultation,
which usually attends the appearance of public danger, the extent of
which is unknown. It seemed, indeed, as if the occurrence of an
earthquake, however much it might have increased the alarm, could not
have deepened the gloom. The night at length gradually thickened, and,
one by one, the villagers crept into their dwellings. Many a fearful
tale was told by the firesides that night; and not a door but was more
carefully barred than it had been perhaps for years before.

Our village was like many other villages in Scotland; it was long,
dirty, and irregular, and wholly wanting in those qualities of neatness
and taste which give a character of comfort and rustic beauty to the
generality of English hamlets. The odour that rose from the fronts of
the cottages was not from flowers, and was certainly much less agreeable
to the senses. The situation, however, was romantic; and there was a
character of rusticity about the place which harmonised well with the
surrounding scenery. On one side it was skirted by a water, which, in
rainy seasons, struggled into some importance, and turned two or three
respectable mills. On the other, the country undulated gracefully, and
rose at one point into a wooded hill, which formed no inconsiderable
feature in the landscape. Striking off the main road, at a point about
half-a-mile distant, was a rough by-road, which crossed near the summit
of the hill, and wound upwards till it disappeared in a ridge of still
loftier mountains. This road formed a favourite walk with the young
people of the village. It was rough, and shaded, and retired, and led to
many a green spot and glorious upland. On very dark nights, however, it
was usually avoided. A considerable part of it was over-arched with
thick foliage; and however pleasant at noonday, when the hot breezes
came panting thither for relief, it needed rather a stout heart to pass
whistling through it, when not even a gleam of starlight was visible,
and when every sound of the rustling branches came to the ear of the
listener, as a groan, a shriek, or a wailing.

It was towards this road, on the morning succeeding the ominous
appearances we have described, that many of the villagers directed their
steps. A good number were hastening thither soon after daybreak, and one
and all seemed bent on the same errand. They entered the road, now
chequered with the wakening glints of the sun, and proceeded onwards
till they came to a break in the rough wall, which bounded it on either
side. They here struck off, and followed the windings of a narrow
footpath, till they reached an open place which looked into the fields
beyond. There was a bush of underwood a good deal dashed and torn; and
those who had a better eyesight, or a more active fancy than the rest,
declared they could trace the sprinklings of blood upon the grass. On
that spot, not many hours before, a murder had been committed. A young
woman, one of the loveliest and liveliest of the village, had been
desperately and cruelly murdered.

The affair was involved in mystery.

Jessie Renton, the deceased, was the daughter of respectable parents in
the village, and a favourite with young and old. She was warm-hearted
and playful; and, pass her when you might, she always greeted you with
a kind glance or a merry word. On the evening which closed on her for
ever, she had gone out alone, as she had done a thousand times before,
with a laughing eye and a light step. Her father had not returned from
his daily toil, and her mother had not ceased from hers. The latter was
busy at her wheel when Jessie left, and not a parting word was exchanged
between them. They knew not that they were never to see each other alive
again in this world, and they parted without thought or word. It was not
known where the unfortunate girl had gone. She had passed the doctor's
shop while his apprentice boy was squirting water from a syringe; and,
joking, she had told him she would "tell his maister o' his tricks." She
had chatted with two girls who were fetching water from the well, and
hinted something about an approaching wedding. An old man had seen her
at the outskirts of the village; and a cow-herd urchin thought--but
"wasna sure"--that he had seen her entering the road leading through the
wood; and that was all. Some hours after she had been thus traced, a
couple of strolling pedlars had been making for the village, and were
startled by a shriek and a cry of murder in the thicket. They rushed in;
but had some difficulty in finding the spot whence the cry proceeded.
The figure of a man dashed by them at some yards distance. They
hallooed to him; but he passed on, and was out of sight in a moment. A
few stifled cries led them to the fatal spot, where they found the
wretched girl stretched upon the ground, faint from the loss of blood,
and unable to articulate. One of the men supported her, while the other
ran for help. The latter had scarcely reached the main road, when he met
some labourers plodding homewards, and with them he returned to the
dying girl; but what assistance could they render? Life was fast ebbing
away; and, in a few moments afterwards, they bent in dumb horror and
amazement, over a mangled corpse. After some consultation, they carried
the body towards the village; and one of them hastened before and
procured a vehicle to relieve them of their burthen. The news of what
had occurred spread in all directions; and, by the time the mournful
procession entered the village, the inhabitants were all astir. The body
was soon recognised; tears and wailings followed; and dark suspicions
and dismal regrets mingled with the hurried inquiries of every new
comer.

Old James Renton and his wife, as decent a couple as lived in the
village, were seated by the fire, enjoying their quiet evening chat,
when the awful intelligence reached them. Some considered it strange
that they had been talking but a few minutes before of their daughter,
and her prospects. But it was not strange: they had no other child: they
had had no other theme so interesting. It was not a new thing with them.
For themselves they had but little to hope, but little to dream over:
their own ambition had long since died out, but it revived in their
child. She was a link which bound them anew to this world, and seemed to
open up to them, once more, bright prospects on this side of the grave.
Often and often had they conversed upon her hopes, as they had aforetime
done of their own; and with an interest only heightened from having
become less selfish. Was it remarkable that they should do so on that
evening? Jessie was growing to a most interesting age. She had arrived
at that point in life from which many roads diverge, and where the path
is often difficult to choose. For her sake, more than one homely hind
had become a poet in his feelings. Indeed, she had many admirers, and
was even what some might call a flirt. But, although her smiles were
shed like the free and glad sunshine on all, there was one who, to
appearance, was more favoured than the rest. This young man had known
her from her childhood, and his attachment was of the most ardent kind.
At school, he had been her champion, and certainly showed himself a true
knight--ready to encounter, nay, courting danger for her sake, and
conceiving himself sufficiently rewarded by her smile. She had recently
been solicited in marriage by another, a man of retired and somewhat
gloomy habits, who dwelt near; but it was understood that she had
refused his offer, and that George Merrideth was the chosen one of her
heart.

It was on these things that the unconscious parents were conversing,
when one of their neighbours entered with the frightful intelligence.
Both started up and rushed to the door. The crowd were hastening on,
bearing with them the melancholy evidence of the truth of what they had
just heard. It came on still--it stopt--it was at their own door it
stopt. The old man could not speak, but his wife rushed forward with a
distressful shriek. The truth was soon all known. They had no child.
They had only a dead body to weep over--to lay in the grave. Is it
necessary to say more? A few days passed. They were the bitterest days
the bereaved parents had ever known; but they passed, and their minds
became comparatively calm. Neither the efforts of their own minds, nor
the commiseration of their friends and neighbours, could subdue their
grief: but it took free vent, and subsided from very exhaustion. They
evinced but little anxiety to discover who had destroyed their child: it
was enough to them that she was gone; and revenge, they said, would not
bring her back. Their chief solace was to visit and linger in the
church-yard--their chief hope to abide there.

To discover the murderer, and drag him to justice, soon occupied the
attention, not only of the authorities, but of many active men in the
village. Rigorous inquiries were instituted, every scrap of evidence was
collected, and suspicion fell at length upon one man. This individual
was, to appearance, about thirty years of age, of a thoughtful
disposition, and retired mode of life. He had been settled in the
village for several years; and no sooner was the suspicion raised, than
many circumstances were bruited to confirm it. His general conduct and
bearing were remarked to have been mysterious. He had rarely associated
with his neighbours; and had often been observed, in lonely places and
at silent hours, muttering and musing, by himself. For some time back,
he had been noticed watching the deceased, and following her whenever
she had any distance to go; and the general belief was, that she had
crossed his affections, and that he had taken this cowardly revenge. On
the evening of the murder, he had been seen returning home only a few
minutes after the time when the deed must have been perpetrated, and his
air and manner were said to have been wild and agitated. The consequence
was, that he was apprehended and thrown into prison. In a few months
afterwards, he was tried. In his defence, he stated that the unfortunate
girl had rather encouraged his suit than otherwise; and mentioned, in
proof of this, that Merrideth, whose grief for her loss had excited
general commiseration, had on the very afternoon of the day on which the
murder took place, quarrelled him on the subject, and accused him of
seeking him to supplant him in her affections. Ultimately, a verdict of
not proven was returned, and he was dismissed from the court.

Jones--for such was his name--returned to the village; but the suspicion
still clung to him. As he went through the streets, the people avoided
him, or gazed at him as a world's wonder. Wherever he passed, they spoke
to each other in whispers. These whispers he seldom heard, but the
thought of their import haunted him. He was restless and unhappy, and
sought relief in motion. No sooner was the sun risen, than he was up and
away to the fields. He wandered about alone for hours, and then came
back to the village. He felt as if a curse rested on him; a stain on his
name, which he could not wipe off. So unhappy did he seem, that some men
began to take compassion on him, and even to converse with him. He felt
grateful; the tears rushed to his eyes; and they left him with their
suspicions confirmed. Night came, and he felt that he could not sleep.
He sometimes tried to read, but in vain: and would suddenly dash down
the book and hurry into the street.

In one of his rambles, an incident occurred, which, although trifling in
itself, may yet be related as showing the kind of feeling with which he
was regarded. Miss Manners, the daughter of the village clergyman,
accompanied by another young lady, was coming along in a direction in
which they could not avoid meeting him. Jones observed the latter
hesitate, on beholding him, and apparently refuse to go on, till
encouraged by her companion. They met, however, and passed each other;
but Jones had not proceeded many yards, when he observed a silk bag
which one of them had dropped. He picked it up and hastened after them.
The young lady, on hearing his footsteps, glanced round and screamed
outright. Jones paused. When the affrighted damsel had somewhat
recovered herself, he said in a soft voice--

"Young lady! I am sorry if my politeness has alarmed you. I thought this
might be your bag, which I found lying on the road."

Miss Manners stepped towards him, and received it, saying--"Thank you,
sir. My companion is foolish."

"I cannot blame her," he replied, "for she does not know me. I have
rather to thank you, than wonder at her."

His voice was rather tremulous as he spoke; and Miss Manners regarded
him with a look of the tenderest compassion. Nothing more, however, was
said. They simply bowed to each other and parted. Jones walked on for a
short distance, then, leaning over a rustic gate by the roadside, mused
till his eyes filled.

The violent emotion exhibited by the unhappy man was not allowed to pass
unnoticed by the villagers. It was looked upon only as the writhing of a
tortured spirit; and whatever doubts existed as to his guilt, they were
soon all removed. There was hardly a soul in the village but shunned and
feared him.

Sometimes Jones would drop into one or two shops where he had been
accustomed to visit, and talk freely on matters of common interest. But
those who formerly saw nothing odd in his manner, now discovered a
thousand peculiarities. They imagined they detected an unnatural
wildness in his eye, and set him down as a deep and dangerous man. At
one time the villagers would stand gazing after him, at others they
would pass him with a scowl. Little children, whom he used sometimes to
pat on the head were taught to fear and avoid him; and often, when he
approached, would run away screaming to their homes.

The unhappy man, at length, resolved to leave the place. He pursued his
journey to Edinburgh, and took lodgings in a street in the Old Town. The
reflection, however, that he had not succeeded in vindicating his
character--that he had left behind him a blasted reputation--poisoned
all his enjoyments. He walked backward and forward in Princes Street,
crossed the North Bridge, and wandered about the Canongate and High
Street, and tried to lose himself in the crowd. Again he returned to his
lodging, and felt that his loneliness and misery were increased.

He next set off for Glasgow, and pursued there the same course. He
traversed the Trongate and Argyle Street for hours, and strode down to
the Broomielaw, and stared vacantly at the bustle going on on the river.
But in nothing could he take any interest. Change of scene could bring
no change to his mind. Weeks and months were spent in this rambling and
unsatisfactory life, and again he resolved to retrace his steps to the
village.

The coach in which he took his seat set him down within about a mile and
a half of the place; and he finished the journey on foot. It was on a
Saturday afternoon that he entered, and with feelings which can hardly
be described. Many of the villagers were sitting at their doors,
enjoying the cool air of the evening, when the mysterious man walked up
the main street. His appearance attracted general attention. One rumour
had stated that he had fled to America; another, that he had taken away
his own life. At all events, the people had congratulated themselves on
his sudden departure; and felt irritated, as well as surprised, at his
return. As he walked quietly along, he was followed by a number of boys,
some of whom threw pieces of turf at him; and, by the time he reached
the centre of the town a considerable crowd was collected. A disposition
to riot was soon exhibited, and stones began to be thrown. Jones turned
coolly round and folded his arms, as if in defiance of his persecutors.
At that moment, a stone of a pretty large size struck him on the
forehead, and some blood trickled from the wound. He was a man of a
quick eye and muscular frame. He singled out the person who threw it,
and dashed through the crowd--never once losing sight of him until he
had him firmly in his grasp. A struggle ensued, and Jones threw his
opponent with great force on the ground. Loud threats, and angry
imprecations followed; and "Villain!--Murderer!" burst from a hundred
tongues. Ten or a dozen men sprang forward upon him at once; but he
started back and eluded their grasp.

"Stand back!" he cried in a loud voice. "I shall strike the first man to
the earth who dares to lay a finger on me!"

For a moment his pursuers were awed; but only for a moment. Two or three
hands were in an instant at his throat, and a violent struggle and
altercation ensued.

"Villain!--villain!" cried one man, older than the rest, "ye hae killed
ane o' the sweetest bairns that ever drew breath. It was an evil hour
when ye took up your abode in this village!"

"Hold off, old man!" exclaimed Jones; "why do you persecute me so?"

Groans and yells followed.

"I swear before God," he continued, shaking himself free, "that I am
innocent of this crime!"

The crowd, however, were not to be deterred from giving vent to their
rage; and matters might have proceeded to an alarming height, had not
Mr. Manners, the parish minister, who chanced to be passing at the time,
interfered in his behalf. The old man pushed his way through the crowd,
and taking Jones by the arm, succeeded in dragging him away. They
proceeded in the direction of the manse; but, as the mob still followed,
Mr. Manners did not think it safe to leave him. He accordingly took him
in along with him; and, closing the garden gate, exhorted the crowd to
return peaceably to their homes.

For a few moments, some shouting and noise were heard; but they died
away by degrees, and Jones and his protector stood alone in the quiet
and secluded garden. The former grasped Mr. Manners by the hand, and
thanked him cordially.

"Sir," he said, "I have been sorely abused. An unhappy suspicion has
clung to my name; but innocent I declare I am, although suffering the
worst consequences of guilt. All men have some sins to weep for; but, as
I shall answer to my Maker, I swear that I am as innocent of the great
crime laid to my charge as the unborn child is."

Mr. Manners was a kind-hearted man. He was struck with the
earnestness--the quiet and subdued fervour with which Jones addressed
him--and, taking him kindly by the hand--

"Young man," he said, "I am bound to believe what I cannot disprove, and
what you so solemnly affirm. If there be no truth in your words, you may
yet repent having so solemnly sworn; but whether true or false, I can
never repent doing you an act of kindness."

Jones was invited into the house to rest--an invitation which he gladly
accepted. On entering the lobby, they were met by Miss Manners, who
started involuntarily on beholding the stranger; but instantly recovered
herself, and opened the door of the parlour for him to enter. The latter
bowed politely to her; and, blushing, she returned the salutation. Her
father desired her to walk in and set some wine upon the table, which
she did with alacrity and grace.

Miss Manners was a young lady of rather an eccentric disposition. She
was high-minded, and high-spirited, and not without a dash of romance.
She was, of course, familiar with the story of the murder, and knew
Jones well by sight. His appearance, which others regarded as at least
mysterious-looking, seemed, in her eyes, rather prepossessing than
otherwise; and when she heard the old women in the village imprecating
curses on his head, she had uniformly reproved them for judging without
adequate proof. On the present occasion, there was something in Jones'
looks and manner peculiarly calculated to confirm her good impression,
and engage her sympathy. His collar was loosened, and his dress a
good deal dashed by the rough treatment he had experienced; but the
expression of his countenance seemed to plead for compassion, and spoke
eloquently to her heart. She addressed him in a kindly tone of voice;
inquired what was the matter, and hoped that no accident had occurred.
The stranger put his hand to his brow, from which the blood had been
previously wiped, and turned towards the window; while her father
briefly explained the circumstances of their meeting, of the harsh
treatment to which Jones had been subjected, and of his own
interference.

"You did well father!" said the girl; "the people may be mistaken!"

"They _are_ mistaken!" said Jones, turning round with moist eyes. "I
know not why suspicion should have settled upon me. I led a quiet
life in the village, harming no one, offending no one; neither had I
exhibited any of those vices in which great crimes usually originate.
I was not cruel, revengeful, or choleric: least of all had I shown
unkindness to her whom they accuse me of having murdered. Lady, I cannot
expect that you will believe the word of an accused, I may almost say a
condemned, man; but I shall live in hope that something may yet arise to
convince you that I am innocent!"

A reply rushed to her lips, but she checked it, and pressed the stranger
to take some refreshment.

Mr. Manners expressed a hope that the people would not annoy him
farther; and his daughter ventured to question him as to his returning
to a place where he was exposed to such insult and persecution.

"Madam," he replied, "where else could I be happy, with such a stigma on
my character? A man's evil deeds are always more widely trumpeted than
his good ones; and go where I would, I know that the slander would
follow me. I have taken a solemn vow, never again to leave this place
till I can do so with an unsullied character. The feeling that makes a
man eager to trace a calumny to its source, and exculpate himself in the
eyes of the world, deters me from flying from reproach. No! I will meet
my accusers boldly. I have done nothing to cause me to leave the place;
and what others may say or do, will not drive me from it."

Both Mr. Manners and his daughter pressed him to stay to supper, but he
declined. He expressed, as well as words could express, how grateful he
felt for their kindness, and was about to depart, when the old gentleman
laid one hand on his shoulder, and, grasping his hand frankly with the
other, said--

"Till it has been proved that you are undeserving of my hospitality, my
door shall always be open to you; and the more readily, that others are
closed!"

Jones was a good deal affected, but struggled to conceal his emotion.

"No," he articulated, with a slightly faltering voice, but a steady eye,
"I will not trouble you with a friendship which might bring odium on
you. I need not say how delightful it would be to me; but"----

"My father," interrupted Miss Manners, "can easily bear a little burden
to lighten another's great one. Can you not, father?"

"My good child," he replied, "you know me, and can speak for me. Sir,"
he added, "my good wishes and prayers attend you."

Jones took his leave, with many expressions of gratitude, when Mr.
Manners came running after him, with his hat on, to see whether the
crowd had wholly dispersed, and resolved to accompany him if necessary.
On reaching the road, however, it was discovered that everything was
perfectly quiet; and the good man, having escorted him only a short
distance on his way, left him to his reflections.

It would be difficult to describe the train of thought which passed
through Jones' mind, as he directed his steps towards the centre of the
village. Buoyant feelings and hopes, such as he had not experienced for
years before, suddenly filled his breast: glimmerings of bright thought
flashed on his mind; were speedily checked, and again burst forth. Some
of the people were lounging about their doors as he passed; but he
heeded not--he cared not. He felt happy. Visions of mild grey eyes and
chesnut ringlets engrossed his senses. They were Miss Manners'. A low
but sweet voice filled his ears. It was hers. His memory recalled
certain kindly expressions; and it was her lips that had uttered them.
On arriving at his lodging, he thought the way had been short; he
entered, and was welcomed by his old landlady, with whom he had lived
for years, and who was one of the few who would listen to nothing to his
discredit.

That night, Jones sat up long, and thought much. The window of his room
looked down upon the glen, the stream, the corn-mill, and across to the
high and wooded banks, and upwards to where, on this particular night,
the full round moon climbed, and threw a glittering bar of light upon
the water; and never, to the eye of our lonely muser, looked so lonely,
or shone upon so fair a scene. If, at that moment, he harboured an evil
thought or an angry feeling, it soon melted in the rising tide of holier
emotions. The quiet and softness of the night became, for the time, a
portion of his own being; and the pale light, resting on his features,
communicated to them much of its gentleness and beauty. For several
hours he continued in deep reverie. At length he began to feel chilly,
as the thin watery light, which precedes the dawn, made its appearance;
and he reluctantly withdrew to rest; but only to dream over the images
of beauty with which his mind was surcharged.

Next morning broke forth--a benign and balmy Sabbath. He was the
earliest at church, and lingered the latest in the church-yard. The
subject of Mr. Manners' discourse was charity; but when the people came
out, they passed by Jones with a scowl, and went on their several ways,
talking mysteriously together. Jones, however, had again seen Miss
Manners. It is uncertain whether or not he threw himself in her way;
but, whether from design or accident, their eyes met. She bowed
gracefully to him; but he was not prepared for this public recognition.
For the moment he felt confused, his heart fluttered, and he passed on
with two or three hurried steps. This incident, trifling as it was,
deprived him of a whole night's sleep. He feared he had betrayed some
awkwardness on the occasion; and yet, somehow or other, he had no
fear of obtaining her forgiveness. Often and often he walked in the
neighbourhood of the manse, avoiding being seen by her, but still seeing
her; or, if not, indulging the delight of being near her. He had no
heart to walk in any other direction. If he strolled out in the morning,
or in the quiet of the evening, he proceeded almost instinctively
towards the manse; and if he passed any distance beyond it, an
irresistible impulse caused him to retrace his steps.

These lonely walks, often at unseasonable hours, and without any
apparent object, were not unobserved by the villagers, and gave rise to
much speculation. Many weeks passed, and still the mystery continued;
and Jones found, ere long, that he was regarded not only with suspicion,
but terror. All the petty crimes, too, which occurred in the
neighbourhood, were set down to his charge; and time, which he thought
would clear his name, seemed only to blacken it the more. Every means,
too, were taken to persecute him, and drive him from the place; but
absence to him was now despair. He was chained to the spot by an
uncontrollable destiny; and felt that, although pressed to the
uttermost, he was yet wholly incapable of retreat.

Jones was proprietor of a small property in the village, which had
been left him by an uncle, and which first induced him to take up his
residence in that quarter; he had also a small sum of money laid out at
interest; and, both together, had hitherto yielded him a sufficient
competency.

One by one, however, the houses on which he chiefly relied became
tenantless, and nothing seemed to await him but poverty and
wretchedness.

But then Miss Manners! Like a star in the heavens, she became brighter
as his prospects darkened; and yet he feared that, like a star, he could
only admire her at a distance. He had told his love to the listening
winds; he had whispered it to his pillow; he had mingled his plaint
with that of the running brooks. But, to human ear, he had breathed it
neither in sighs nor words. Him, a wanderer and an outcast, what maid
could ever love? Could he have asked Miss Manners to share happiness
with him, the case might have been otherwise; but what must be his fate
when he had only wretchedness to offer? He thought of her till she
became purely a being of his imagination; and, being all that his
imagination could paint her, she became too much for him to hope ever
to possess.

It is difficult to say what, at this early stage of their acquaintance,
were Miss Manners' feelings towards Jones. Certain it is, however, that
she had conceived for him a kind of romantic interest. She was eccentric
in her disposition, but fervent in her attachments; and, without knowing
much about him, she had, partly from compassion and partly, perhaps,
from a secret love of being regarded singular, uniformly advocated his
cause whenever occasion offered.

One evening, two or three young girls were assembled at the manse. They
were the daughters of a person of some consideration in the place, and
Miss Manners' occasional associates. After tea, Mr. Manners withdrew to
his studies; and, as the evening had set in rather cold, the ladies drew
near the fire to converse.

"Come, now," said Miss Manners, as she stirred the fire till it blazed
and crackled right merrily, "let us make ourselves comfortable and
happy. Emily, here"--sitting down beside the dullest of her
guests--"looks as sad as if she had just lost her sweetheart."

"Oh, she'll be thinking of Willie Green!" said another of the girls.

A third giggled. Emily looked sad; and Miss Manners cheered her by
remarking that Willie was a very decent fellow.

"He's no sweetheart of mine," said Emily, indifferently, at the same
time glancing up to the ceiling.

An enormous "Good gracious!" or some such expression, rushed to the eyes
of another of the girls; but, as Miss Manners had checked her, she did
not get telling how often she had seen her and Willie together, and how
well known it was that the day was all but fixed.

"Now, don't tease her," said Miss Manners. "I see we must change the
subject."

Accordingly, Willie Green was dismissed, and William Jones introduced.
Every one, except Miss Manners, had something to say against him--some
frightful story to relate in which he had acted a principal part. One
told how, on one evening--darker than all other evenings--he had been
seen lounging in the neighbourhood of such and such a farm; and how,
next morning, one of the farmer's children died. Another related how he
had been heard to rave to himself when he thought no one was near; and
many were the extraordinary casualties in which he was declared to have
been concerned.

"Pshaw! idle tales," said Miss Manners, who had sat for some time
silent. "I have seen the man, and do not think him one-half so bad as he
is represented. Never yet have I met any one who had seen him do a wrong
action; and yet every one will swell the cry against him. O world!
world!"

The young ladies were somewhat surprised at the serious tone in which
Miss Manners spoke, but laughed it off, without attempting to argue
the matter. How little did they know--how little did Miss Manners
know--that, at that very time, the man they spoke of was wandering in
the darkness, not far off, with his eyes fixed on the lighted window of
the room in which they sat! And, O, what feelings would have filled the
breast of poor Jones, if he had known that the light on which he gazed
so intently was rendered still brighter by those eyes which he loved
best in the world being kindled in his defence.

However, the conversation soon took a lighter turn; and was only
interrupted, at length, by the appearance of Willie Green, who was
ushered in "by accident," and seemed very desirous to impress upon all
present that he had no particular errand. Sly looks were interchanged,
which no one, of course, saw; and Willie was speedily inducted as one of
the party. Supper followed, at which Mr. Manners was present; and, when
the hour of departure came, Miss Manners threw on her bonnet, to trot
them, as she expressed it, to the garden gate.

On going down the walk, Mr. Green, who was the pink of politeness,
offered Miss Manners his arm; but the latter knew she would not offend
him by refusing. One by one, he applied to the other girls; till, as a
last resource, he made an appeal to Emily, who, after some feeble show
of following their example, relented; and, while Miss Manners and the
rest proceeded onwards, Green and Emily lagged gradually behind. Miss
Manners escorted the party a considerable distance on their way, and
then bade them good night. Mr. Green offered to accompany her back; but
she broke off, saying she was not afraid. The night was rather dark;
but, in truth, it was not late; and she tripped on her way homewards
without fear of molestation.

As she approached the garden, however, she saw the figure of a man
walking on before her, with that slow and apparently lounging step which
indicates the absence of any pressing or definite object. It was Jones.
Her heart failed her for a moment; but, instantly recovering herself,
she proceeded on her way, and passed him. It was dark. There was no one
else near. A rush of frightful thoughts came upon her mind; her step
faltered; and she felt as if about to faint.

This was a moment, with Jones, of intense--of overwhelming emotion. He
had heard her light step behind him, but knew not that it was hers. No
sooner, however, had her graceful form caught his eye, than a strange
wildness of thought and feeling seized him, approaching almost to
delirium. She was alone. He had long wished for such an opportunity to
declare his passion; and yet, now that it had arrived, he trembled to
embrace it. To allow it to pass was, in all probability, to entail upon
himself many more weeks or months of racking anxiety, uncertainty, and
suspense; and yet to embrace it was, perhaps, to set the last seal to
his despair. On such a subject he could have debated for weeks; but now,
the least hesitation, and the opportunity was lost.

While these contending thoughts distracted his mind, Miss Manners
started, and almost paused, as if seized with a sudden panic. This fixed
his resolution.

"Dear lady!" he said, in a bland and tremulous voice, "you seem
frightened. I trust it is not of me you are afraid. Believe me, you are
near one who would protect, not harm you."

"Who are you?" she inquired, faintly.

"Who am I?" he replied. "In truth, I can hardly tell you who I am. I am
one, madam, lost both to himself and the world--an outcast--a wanderer
in solitary places--a madman--a dreamer! O, sweet lady!--but I am wrong
to speak thus."

"I know you now," she said, gaining courage; "your name is Jones, is it
not?"

"Ay, madam," he answered, "that is my unfortunate name; but, if the
world knew all--or if you knew all, I would not care for the world."

"Tell me," she said, but with some hesitation, as if in doubt whether it
was proper to stay.

"I will, if you'll forgive me," he said; "but my story is, perhaps,
long. Will you walk on?"

Miss Manners proceeded slowly along, with Jones at her side.

"I have now," resumed the latter, "resided for nearly six years in this
village. In my intercourse with the world I had been unfortunate, and
retirement was what I sought. I found it here; and, between the study of
books and nature, I felt myself happy, and associated but little with my
neighbours. I do not weary you?"

"No," said Miss Manners; "go on."

"At length," he continued, "I began to feel that marriage would be an
addition to my happiness; and, accordingly, I cast my eyes round among
the fair maidens of the village. They fell upon the unfortunate Jessie
Renton. She lived within a few doors of me, and I had often seen and
admired her in my walks. I thought I loved her--for, at that time, I had
not learned what true love was--and offered to make her my wife. I
dealt candidly and openly with her. In education, I need not say that I
knew she was much beneath me; but she seemed warm-hearted and docile,
and I thought it would be a loving pastime for me to make her my pupil.
I was not ignorant, however, that she had other lovers; and, although
she certainly encouraged my addresses, I saw reason to discontinue my
suit. About this time, the awful event took place, the particulars of
which are already known to you; and, simply because I had been abroad on
the evening of the murder, and near the fatal spot, and partly, no
doubt, from the circumstance of my attachment, which I had taken no
pains to conceal, suspicion fastened upon me. I will not--indeed I
cannot--tell you what laceration of feeling--what distraction of mind--I
have since suffered. But you--you, O lady! is it wonderful that I should
love you?--you who, when all the world was against me, spoke kindly to
me?--you----forgive me, but I love--I adore you; day and night you have
been my dream--my idol! But I rave; and yet, do not think me quite mad;
for I know I am partly so, and madness knows not itself. O lady!--pardon
me! but my heart will not let my tongue speak, lest it should wrong
it--could my _heart_ speak, could"----

"Sir--sir!" interrupted Miss Manners; "this is frenzy! I beg, sir, you
will desist. So sudden--so"----

"Sudden!" exclaimed Jones. "My love may have been sudden; but, for
weeks, for months, it has taken possession of me. But, pardon me,
madam," he added, in a calmer tone. "Do not mistake me. I know too well
that I dare not hope; but an humble offering may be laid upon a lofty
shrine. All I ask is your compassion; say only you pity me, and I shall
embalm the words in my memory for ever!"

Miss Manners _did_ pity him; but begged him, as he valued his own
happiness, to banish from his mind all such thoughts as he had
expressed.

"Ah, madam," said he, "ask me to part with life, and I may obey you;
but, while life remains, I never can cease to love you."

They had now reached the entrance to the garden; and Miss Manners held
out her hand, saying--

"Good night."

Jones took the hand. There was no glove on it; and, gently raising it,
he pressed it to his lips.

"Madam," he articulated, "good night; farewell. While you are asleep, I
shall be thinking of you. On this road, gazing on the window of the room
in which I think you are, I shall enjoy more rest than anywhere else I
can go."

He was about to add something more; but his utterance became choked;
and, again pressing her hand to his lips, while a tear fell on it, he
turned abruptly away. Miss Manners said not a word--her heart was too
full--but closed the gate behind her and disappeared. Jones listened. He
heard her step as she went up the gravel walk, and he heard nothing
more. The night was, by this time, fearfully dark, and everything around
him was silent. He walked on a short distance, returned, and again
walked on. His mind was whirling and confused. He tried to recollect
every word which Miss Manners had said, and by this means to get at the
real state of her feelings; but he was too much agitated for reflection.
On gaining his lodging, he felt faint, and put himself immediately to
bed. All night long he tossed about in sleepless excitement; and, in the
morning, fell into a feverish doze, broken by unintelligible dreams.
When he awoke, he rose up, and felt so giddy as to be unable to stand,
and again went to bed. During the day, he felt shivering and unwell;
and, the next day, the same symptoms continued, and with increased
violence. Another day arrived--another, and another--and all
consciousness left him. Several weeks elapsed, and found him still
bedridden, but convalescent; and it was nearly three months before he
was enabled to venture out, and then only when the sun was warm.

"You have been long out, Marion," said Mr. Manners to his daughter, as
she returned from her accidental interview with Jones. "I was afraid
some accident had befallen you."

"No," said Miss Manners, whose eyes were slightly inflamed; for, somehow
or other, she had wept before entering the house: "no accident."

"Child," said her father, "what has happened--you look ill!"

Miss Manners told all--her meeting with Jones, and his passionate
declaration; but, notwithstanding that her father conjured her not to
think of him, she thought of him all night long.

The news of Jones' illness spread rapidly through the village; but, as
might be expected, excited little sympathy. With the exception of Mr.
Manners and the surgeon of the village, no one looked near his abode;
and many were the remarks made by the gossips, that few tears would be
shed for him, and that he might bless heaven he was allowed to die in
bed. From the manse, however, he received much attention. Anxious
inquiries concerning the state of his health were made almost daily,
accompanied, occasionally, with presents of wine and jellies. This
afforded Jones delightful materials for reflection; and, while his
health continued to improve, he occupied his mind with dreams of the
future, which his better judgment told him were too bright ever to be
realised.

It was on a mild spring morning that the poor invalid sallied forth, for
the first time, since his illness. He was still rather pale and feeble;
but the air was warm for the season, and he felt happy on being released
from his confinement. His appearance, as he walked through the village,
brought the people to their doors as before; and the old remarks about
"the man that was tried for murder," were made from mouth to mouth.
Nevertheless, he was allowed to pass unmolested, and was soon clear
of the houses. The effect of natural scenery, and more particularly,
perhaps, of the weather, on the animal spirits, has often been remarked,
and the pleasing train of thought which now passed through the mind of
our hero, might partly have arisen from this cause. The sun was
unshaded, and the road warm and dry. On either side, the leaves were
budding from the hedges, and the cheerful warbling of birds infused a
delicious and summer-like feeling into his heart. He had gone out
without any precise object, and merely to enjoy a walk in the fresh
air--so delightful after long confinement to a sick chamber; but his
steps had led him almost involuntarily in the direction of the manse. On
reaching the gate, he stopped, loitered on for a few yards, and again
stopped. He then turned back and hesitated, and at last made bold to
enter. As he wound his way slowly up the walk, which was neatly laid off
on either side with flowers and shrubbery, he felt more collected than,
under the circumstances, he could have imagined possible; and, in a few
moments, he was seated in the neat drawing-room of the manse, pouring
out his gratitude to Miss Manners for the kindness and attention he had
experienced during his illness.

While the two sat conversing together, Mr. Manners entered. He
congratulated Jones on his recovery; but the latter did not fail to
observe that his manner towards him was less frank than formerly. The
truth is, that the old man was a good deal alarmed for his daughter,
whom he had warned to discourage his addresses; and, although desirous
to treat him with kindness, endeavoured to avoid everything which might
seem an approval of his suit. Jones had the good sense not to prolong
his visit; and, after cordially repeating his thanks for the various
acts of kindness he had experienced, rose up and took his leave.

To her poor lover, Miss Manners had never appeared so lovely as on this
occasion. He left the house with the intention of never beholding her
more; but scarcely had he quitted her presence, than he felt that to
remain long away were impossible. Her beauty; her goodness; her kind
words; her kinder looks; all--all rushed to his mind; and his feelings,
which had been somewhat calmed by his illness, acquired even more than
their wonted fire. Day after day, as he continued to gather strength, he
revisited all his old haunts, and felt as if he had just returned from a
sojourn in a distant land. Everything was new and fresh; but, with every
scene, old feelings were associated. To him Miss Manners was still the
presiding genius of the place, from whom it derived all its beauty, and
to whom the worship of his heart was involuntarily offered.

Meanwhile, Miss Manners had received strict injunctions from her father
not to receive his visits except when he himself was at home. To this
course he had been urged, not so much by his own feelings towards him,
as by the advice of his friends. Indeed, Jones was rather a favourite
with him. He would willingly have done much to serve him; and yet, when
the happiness of his daughter was at stake, he often reflected on the
awful consequences which might ensue, if he were really the guilty
wretch whom so many suspected he was.

About this time a circumstance occurred, which put an end to his doubts.

Among those who mourned the unhappy fate of the poor village maiden,
the grief of her lover, George Merrideth, had been observed to be the
wildest. For some days, he had wandered about like one demented; and
all who witnessed, respected and commiserated his anguish. Latterly,
however, he had disappeared entirely from the public view; and it was
hinted by some, that his mind had been seriously affected by the
occurrence. One morning, Mr. Manners was suddenly sent for to attend at
his deathbed. When he entered, the patient had fallen into a kind of
dozing sleep; and he was motioned to a seat near the bed. The light was
almost entirely excluded from the chamber; and the only other person
present was the mother of the dying lad, who was a widow. She was wasted
with grief and watching, and seemed just such a figure as a painter
would have chosen to heighten the melancholy of such a scene. As she
came round and whispered some scarcely articulate words into the
clergyman's ear, her son murmured in his sleep, became restless, and
woke as in terror. Mr. Manners spoke to him in soothing words, and
referred to a state of happiness hereafter.

"Aha!" cried he, "can I enter heaven with my hand bloody? Her spirit is
sainted. I could not go near it. Oh no--no--never--never."

"Of what is it he speaks?" inquired Mr. Manners.

"Oh, sir!" answered his mother, "his thoughts are wandering. I canna
think he killed the lassie he loved."

"Ay, mother," said the youth, with an effort, "this hand did it. O
fool!--cut it off--off with it--it is not my hand--my hand never would
have done it. Oh--oh--mother--Jessie."

Mr. Manners was dumb with amazement. It was but too evident from whence
the agony of the youth flowed, and he sat regarding him with looks of
awe and terror.

"It grows dark," continued the patient; "but, softly. You know I loved
you when you were a child; but now you love another!--ay, that's it--you
will not be mine! It grows still darker!--ha, ha, ha!--fly--fly!--it is
done! O God! if I could draw back!"

The dying man waxed wilder in his ravings. After a time, however, he
became comparatively calm; and, on Mr. Manners addressing him,
recognised his voice.

"Ah, that voice!" he said. "I have often heard it. I have not attended
to its counsel; but if it could console--oh, no, I cannot be consoled.
Your hand, sir!--forgive--forgive."

"Do not ask forgiveness of me," said Mr. Manners. "May God in his mercy
pardon you!"

The wretched youth muttered a kind of incoherent prayer, while his
mother dropped on her knees by the bed-side. All afterwards was wildness
and despair, only relieved by intervals of exhaustion. Mr. Manners
continued to administer such consolation as the circumstances of the
case admitted of, and did not leave the house till the voice of the
guilty man had become hushed in death, and nothing broke the silence but
the moanings of the afflicted mother.

Several days had now passed since Jones visited the manse; and he could
hold out no longer. On the very day on which Mr. Manners was engaged in
the melancholy duty we have described, the unhappy lover bent his steps
thither, with an anxious and fluttering heart. As he walked up the
garden, he observed Miss Manners watering a small bed, in which she
had planted some favourite flowers. The young lady was a good deal
embarrassed on beholding him. Her father's injunctions against receiving
his visits had made a deep impression on her mind, and she had directed
the servant, the next time he called, to say that she could not be seen.
Now, however, there was no escape. Jones walked towards her with a
smile of mingled fear and admiration; and, if not with cordiality, she
received him at least with politeness. Their conversation, as they
strolled through the garden, was at first embarrassed, but became more
free by degrees, and assumed at length an almost confidential tone. To
a person of a romantic disposition, Jones' conversation was in a high
degree fascinating; and his companion in this delightful walk did not
conceal the pleasure with which she listened to it. His candour and
unreserve she admired; his misfortunes she commiserated; and, with much
that he said she could not fail to be both interested and flattered.
Nevertheless, she avoided any word by which she thought she might give
encouragement to his hopes; while he, on the other hand, although freely
expressing his passion, was careful to avoid a syllable which might lead
her to believe that, in his present disgrace and poverty, he presumed to
the honour of her hand. After wandering about for some time, their souls
melting into each other, Miss Manners could not resist inviting him into
the house to rest. Scarcely, however, had they seated themselves in the
parlour, when Mr. Manners appeared. He entered with rather a hasty step,
and his manner was a good deal agitated. On perceiving Jones, he bowed
to him, then turning to his daughter--

"My child!" he said.

"What is it?" inquired Miss Manners, in a tone of alarm.

"Have you," he continued, "forgotten my injunctions?"

Miss Manners cast her eyes on the ground, and seemed displeased at being
taken to task before a stranger.

Jones, observing her embarrassment, said--

"Sir, I shall be sorry if my presence here should occasion you any
uneasiness. Believe me, I am the last person in the world to intrude
where I am not welcome. It will, no doubt, cost me a pang, sir; but if
it be your wish that I should not see your daughter more, I shall try to
tear my heart from her--I shall go and hide myself in obscurity, and
endeavour to forget all I have most loved in this world!"

Mr. Manners raised his hand, as if commanding silence, and gazed
stedfastly on his daughter. The latter looked up to him with tears in
her eyes, and exclaimed--

"I think Mr. Jones is innocent!"

"He _is_ innocent," said the old man, emphatically. "Come to my arms,
both!"

Both moved forward and took the hand he offered, but with amazement
depicted on their countenances.

"Oh, my children!" he said, "I have witnessed such a scene!"

The old man sat down on the sofa, and, for a few moments, covered his
eyes with his hands.

"I have been," he, at length, proceeded, "by the dying bed of the poor
village maiden's murderer--I have heard the fearful confession from his
own lips. O God! may I never behold such another deathbed!"

Jones dropped on his knee, and Miss Manners clasped her hands as in mute
prayer.

"Thank God!" at length exclaimed the latter; "the innocent will no
longer suffer for the guilty!"

"No!" said the old man. "Mr. Jones, you have been deeply wronged."

"Ay," said Jones; "but not by you. From you only have I received
kindness--kindness often better deserved, but never more needed--often,
perhaps, bestowed, but never received with deeper gratitude. While every
door was barred against me, yours was open--while every heart"----

His utterance became choked, and he was altogether unable to proceed.
Mr. Manners shook him warmly by the hand; and, with many expressions of
thankfulness, Jones withdrew, leaving Miss Manners in tears.

On returning homewards, it was obvious that the news of Merrideth's
death, together with its fearful revelations, had spread like wildfire
through the village. How different was Jones' reception!--nods,
recognitions, congratulations, cheers, wherever he passed! Of these,
however, he thought not: he thought only of the girl he had left behind
him weeping. That very night he again repaired to the manse. He went
often; and every succeeding time seemed to be made more welcome.

A pleasant--a delightful change had now taken place in his feelings. The
consciousness of having outlived the slander which had so long sullied
his name, filled his bosom with a sensation of honest pride, and
inspired him with a degree of ease and confidence which he had not
previously experienced. Miss Manners was scarcely less gratified by the
mystery having been at length cleared up, and the public mind disabused.
From her first interview with Jones, she had entertained a strong
impression of his innocence; and the fact of her good opinion of
him being confirmed, she regarded with feelings almost of triumph.
Accordingly, their meetings were mutually delightful. If, at any
time, the latter doubted the propriety of encouraging his visits, the
reflection that she had done right, in the first instance, in following
the dictates of her heart, caused her to continue in the same course.
The truth is, she pitied Jones; and pity, it is well known, is akin to a
still tenderer emotion.

Two or three weeks after the scene we have described, there was a small
evening party at the manse. It was given in honour of Mr. and Mrs.
Green, who had just been a few days married. The young couple were
ushered into the drawing-room in gay attire, and with their faces
wreathed into still gayer smiles; and, in the fair bride, Jones, who
was, of course, present, recognized the lady who had, on one occasion,
betrayed so much alarm on his doing her a trifling act of kindness. The
affair, in the absence of more important topic of conversation, was
talked and laughed over; and the bride acknowledged herself to have
been a very silly girl. All the company were soon in high spirits, and
the merriment was kept up till it was near midnight. On separating, the
company could not help expressing their admiration of the serenity of
the night. It was a clear, lovely moonlight; and the exquisite stillness
and beauty of the scene caused some of the younger individuals of the
party to regret that they had spent so much time within doors. When they
reached the gate, Miss Manners, who had accompanied them through the
garden, bade them "good night." "Good night," said they, and parted; but
Jones, who was the last to shake hands with her, could not part. He
lingered, pressed her hand, wished her "good night," and still lingered.

"I must escort you a little way back," he at length said; and,
accordingly, the two strolled up the garden, hand in hand--she speaking
of the lateness of the hour, and he of the loveliness of the moon and
stars, until night, moon, and stars, were all forgotten.

After a few moments' silence, Jones suddenly paused, and, pressing her
hand in both of his, said--

"Marion, I would we might never part. I never leave you without pain."

"I know not why it should be so," she said; "but you must just come back
the oftener."

"Ay," said he; "but even to be absent from you a little while, is
torture."

"I fear," she said, "you are but a poor philosopher."

"Ah," he replied, "philosophy can do many things, but it cannot cure the
heartache. O Marion! I love to call you by that name! It is in your
power to end all my anxieties: a word--a word will do it! How say you?
May I hope? Nay, I do hope; but, may I call you by that name?"

"What name?" interrupted Miss Manners, tremulously.

"That name, dear heart, which is the tenderest man can bestow on woman?"

Her reply was inaudible. Jones, however, kissed her lips, and she
forbade him not. On parting, he again kissed her, and returned to his
lodgings with feelings of unmixed ecstacy.

A few weeks passed--they were weeks of delicious expectancy, of
unrestrained intercourse, of active preparation; and the event which was
to crown their happiness was duly solemnized. It was a day of great
rejoicing in the village; and, as they dashed off on their marriage
jaunt, they were honoured with the blessings and cheers of a large crowd
of people who had assembled to wish them joy. On returning, a few days
afterwards, similar demonstrations of respect awaited them; and they
continued to live in the neighbourhood, greatly esteemed and beloved by
all who knew them--esteemed for their many virtues, and beloved for
their simple and unostentatious manners.

One little incident, which happened many years afterwards, is perhaps
worth relating. An old man, who had been long unable to work, and to
whom Jones had shown much kindness, grasped him one day by the hand, and
said--

"Sir, I once struck you on the head with a stone; do you forgive me?"

"I do," was the reply; "but you must not do so again."



THE SERGEANT'S TALES.

THE PALANTINES.[G]


Of all the countless numbers that take their pleasure walks upon the
Calton Hill of Edinburgh, none that do not remember it an isolated spot,
of awkward access, can have any recollection of Sergeant Square's tall
and gaunt figure, his cue, cocked hat, gaiters, and military appearance,
as he took his daily promenade around the airy and delightful walks, or
sat upon its highest point, where Nelson's Monument now stands, in
stately solitude, as if he had been the genius of the hill, resting his
square and bony chin on the top of his gold-headed cane, with his
immense hands serving as a cushion between. Thus would he sit for hours,
gazing on the busy scene beneath, as if he knew what occupied the
bustling crowds, and directed their labours according to the impulse of
his will. We had passed and repassed each other in our walks for weeks,
before any approach to recognition took place between us. I was the
first to make an advance, by giving him a slight bow, as we passed; this
he returned, and an acquaintance soon ripened into intimacy. Under his
stiff and formal air, I found one of the most kind and communicative
hearts I ever communed with. It is long since I laid his head in the
grave; and I never visit the hill, but memory conjures up his
remarkable figure, as vividly as if we stood face to face, till I almost
think I may meet him at each turn, while I saunter along, lost in musing
on days that are gone. I may meet with new piles of stone and mortar
profaning the sacred spot; but, Sergeant Square I shall never meet there
again! But to proceed. It was on that day the 42d regiment marched into
Edinburgh, after their return from Egypt, that we were enjoying our
usual walk. It was a spirit-stirring time, and our talk was of war, and
the gallant exploits of our countrymen. His eye flashed; his gold-headed
cane rested on his shoulder as if it had been a musket; his walk became
a march; he was evidently thinking of the battles he had been in;
when, embracing the opportunity, I requested a short account of his
adventures. It was some time before he took any notice of my request,
so completely was his mind absorbed in his own recollections. We had
reached the north-east angle of the hill before he spoke. At length he
seated himself on the smooth green turf--I by his side; and, after a
pause--

"If you have the patience to listen to me," he said, "I do not care if I
do give you some account of what I have seen, suffered, and enjoyed in
this strange world."

  [G] Palantine--a name given by the Americans and seamen, to
  kidnapped individuals, or those who went out voluntarily to be indented,
  for a time agreed upon, with any person in America willing to pay the
  sum of money required by the captain for their passage out. The famous
  Williamson, who first invented the penny-post and directories, obtained
  damages from the magistrates of Aberdeen for suppressing his narrative,
  in which he exposed them for this traffic.--ED.

"It is of small importance," he began, "where a man was born, or who was
his father--his own actions must bring him fame or shame. The first
sounds that ever attracted my particular attention, were those of the
music bells of old St. Giles', and the firing of the guns in Edinburgh
Castle. I had reached my twelfth year, when my father, who was a
Jacobite, joined the Highland army at Duddingstone, while Prince Charles
was in Holyrood House, and I never saw him again. My mother, who was
weakly at the time, and our circumstances very poor--for my father was
only a day-labourer--took it so much to heart that she survived only a
few months, and I was thrown destitute upon my own resources, which,
God knows, were scant enough. I was tall and stout for my age, and
roughed it out, ragged, hungry, and cold, about the city, for three
years and some months--running messages, or doing any little thing I
could get to do for a piece of bread or a mouthful of victuals; and
choosing the warmest stair, or any other convenient place, for a
bedroom. Rough as this training was, I was far from being unhappy; for I
had my enjoyments, humble as they were--as yet innocent, and as keenly
relished as if they had been those of luxury. These few years of
hardships were soon to be of eminent service to me--perhaps the means of
saving my life.

It was the spring of the year. The winter had been very severe, and I
was rejoicing in the thought of summer, which, for the poor, has fewer
wants and less of suffering. Loitering, as usual, upon the High Street,
hungry enough, and looking for some little job to earn a breakfast, I
was accosted by a rough-looking man, rather genteelly dressed, who
inquired if I would carry a parcel for him to Leith, and he would give
me a sixpence. My heart bounding with joy at the rich reward, I said I
would. Whereupon he inquired if my parents would not be angry at my
going, or my master, if I had one. I told him I had neither parent nor
master, not even a friend in the world to find fault with me how I spent
my time. A grim smile of satisfaction came over his countenance; he put
the offered sixpence again into his pocket, and gave me a small paper
parcel, with the direction where I was to carry it; adding, as I stood
waiting for my reward--'Run quick, like a good boy. Tell them to give
you some breakfast, and wait until I come and give you the sixpence.'
Away I ran, like a greyhound from the slip, to get a breakfast and earn
my sixpence. Swift as was my flight, never did the Canongate or the
Easter Road--the only one to Leith from Edinburgh at this time--appear
so long to me. When I arrived at the house to which I had been
directed, in one of the dark alleys near the shore, I was ushered into a
small, darkened room. A stout, thick-set man, in a seaman's dress, heard
my message, received my parcel, without once opening his lips, and
locked the door.

Hungry, disappointed, and alarmed at this unlooked-for reception, I
stood for some time lost in amazement. At length I looked around; there
was no furniture in the room, not even so much as a seat of any kind. My
fears became excessive. I screamed to be set at liberty, and beat upon
the door with my hands and feet, until I sank upon the floor from
fatigue, and burst out into a fit of weeping. No answer was made, nor
any notice taken of my efforts. I looked through my tears at the window;
but it was high, small, and strongly secured with iron stanchels. I had
lain thus on the floor for an hour or two, when I heard the key turn in
the lock. I sprung to my feet as the door opened; and the same person
entered, bearing a pewter tankard of beer, some bread, and salt beef. A
thick stick under his arm caught my eye, and excited new terrors. He set
the victuals upon the floor, and then, brandishing the bludgeon over
my head, threatened to beat my brains out if I made such a noise
again--giving, in pure cruelty and wantonness of power, a few blows
across the shoulders, to teach me, as he said, what I might expect if I
did not attend to his orders. Pointing to the food, he surlily ordered
me to eat, and immediately again locked the door. Hungry as I had been a
short time before, my heart was too full for me to eat; and the blows I
had received pained me very much. I sat down and wept more bitterly than
I had done; but the hunger of a boy is keener than his grief--so I at
length made a hearty meal, moistened by my tears, and wept myself
asleep.

How long I had lain thus I had no means of ascertaining. I was roused
by the voice of mirth and singing in another apartment. All was dark; so
much so, I could not even distinguish the small grated window from the
dead walls. I listened for some time in surprise, and would fain have
persuaded myself I had been in an unpleasant dream; but my shoulders
were still sore, and the small basket and tankard, I felt, were still at
my side. For some time I revolved in my mind what step to take--whether
to remain quiet, or knock upon the door, and implore my liberty--at
least to be made acquainted with the cause of my being detained. At
length my suspense became so unbearable that I resolved to brave every
danger, and began to knock at the door, for which I had groped, tapping
gently at first, and gradually knocking louder and louder. The voice of
my jailor, evidently in extreme anger, again sounded fearfully through
the key-hole--'Be quiet, or I will come in and beat your noisy body to a
mummy.' I shrunk from the door, and leaned upon the wall, as far from
him as the small dimensions of the room would admit, trembling, in
fearful expectation of his entrance. While I stood thus, a prey to the
keenest anguish, the mirth and jollity for a time increased, and at
length grew fainter and fainter, until it ceased. All was still for a
little; then I heard the noise of footsteps approaching the door of my
prison-room, and a sound as if something was in the act of being dragged
along the passage. The key was placed in the door, and it opened. My
heart beat as if it would have burst my bosom, when I saw the ruffian
who had locked me up, and another like himself, dragging what appeared
to me to be the dead body of a man. I uttered a suppressed scream, and
must have fallen to the ground, had I not been pent up in the corner. My
eyes were as if they would have started from their sockets, and I could
not withdraw them from the horrid sight. One of the men held a lanthorn
in his left hand, which threw a feeble light upon the group; while,
with his right hand, he grasped the left arm of the body; and, his
companion exerting all his strength, they dragged it to the side of the
room, and dropped it upon the floor. A stifled groan issued from it,
which thrilled through my ears like an order for my execution; and I
would have darted from the spot, wild with despair, although I saw the
eyes of both watching me, as they deposited the body, with a malignant
grin of satisfaction; but my limbs refused to obey my will, and I stood
the image of despair. The men spoke not a word, but, retiring, locked
the door upon me, and left me with a thing my nature revolted from.
Scarce were they gone when similar sounds fell upon my ear, and they
again entered with a second victim. This was more than I could endure: a
wild energy came over me; I sank upon my knees, and implored them not to
murder me, or leave me alone with the bodies, for mercy's sake! I sank
upon the floor, and grasped their legs in the fervency of my
supplications. With a fiendish laugh, they spurned me from them; and,
as they locked the door, growled--

'What does the fool mean?--beware, the cudgel!'

As the sound of the closing and locking of the door died away, I was
roused from my stupor of fear to an agony of terror, that drove me
almost to madness. A movement in one of the bodies, accompanied by deep
guttural sounds, indicated that the objects of my terror were coming to
life again, or were not yet quite dead. This produced new terrors, and I
dashed myself upon the door, uttering the most piercing cries. The
ruffians again entered, and beat me without mercy; but I was now beyond
the fear of personal suffering; and I really believe, so intense was my
feeling of fear and horror, that I would have leaped into a furnace to
avoid or free myself from my situation. Their threats and blows were
vain. I reiterated my cries more intensely; for I saw both the bodies
become apparently animated, and turn their dull, stupid gaze on me, as
I struggled to wrench myself from the grasp of the ruffians. Our
struggle was short; for one of them set down the lanthorn, forced down
my arms behind me, and held me fast, while the other dropped the cudgel
with which he had been beating me, and, taking a piece of rope-yarn from
his jacket pocket, bound my wrists behind my back; he then deliberately
took the large key out of the lock of the door, placed it in my mouth,
across between my teeth, tied it firm behind my head, and so effectively
gagged me, that I could not utter a sound. How I retained my reason at
this fearful period I know not, for I expected death every moment; and
there was a misty vagueness about my fate that had even greater terror
than death itself. As soon as I was thus silenced, they stood grinning
at my agony for a minute before either spoke. At length--

'This is a troublesome customer enough, for noise part,' said the first
ruffian to the other; 'but he will now be quiet enough, I think. I wish
the boat were come, or we shall have plenty on our hands soon, when
these two have slept it off. It is full tide now, and they were to have
been here an hour ere flow. What can detain the lubbers, think you?'

'Can't say,' replied the other; 'perhaps something is in their way.
There they are.'

At this moment a low whistle sounded faintly into the room, as if coming
from under the window. One of the men answered by a similar whistle, and
both left the room; and in a few minutes four sailors entered, and,
taking up one of the objects of my dread, carried it out. One of the
ruffians then assisted me to rise, and, holding me by the collar,
dragged me out of the house after them, down to the Ferry-boat Stairs at
the quay, more dead than alive. The four seamen had placed their burden
in a boat that lay there. I was placed beside it. It lay inanimate; and
I, seated on one of the thwarts, was guarded by two seamen, who kept
watch, while the four were away for the other victim. At length they
came, deposited their burden beside the other, pushed off from the pier,
and rowed out of the harbour's mouth. As they pulled along, I felt my
spirits revive, the fear of immediate death passed from my mind; and,
besides, I was in company with living beings like myself, however cruel
they might be. Before we reached the beacon, the ruffian who had first
locked me up, and who was now in the boat with us, loosened the key from
my mouth, and undid the cord from my hands, which had begun to swell,
from the tight manner in which they were tied. This act almost relieved
me of my fears; still all was silence in the boat, not a word had as yet
been spoken by any one; but afterwards, as we gained distance from the
shore, they began to converse.

'So the Betsy sails to-morrow, without fail,' said the first ruffian.

'She does,' was the answer of the seaman.

'Why has her stay been so short this trip?' again asked the man. 'We
will make but a poor job of it. We have only nabbed five.'

'Why, I think you have done pretty well,' answered the sailor;
'twenty-five pounds for two days' work is good pay. Old Satan, you are
never content.'

'None of your slack, mate,' rejoined the other; 'I won't stand it. Two
days more would have made it fifty or better; and no man, more than I,
would be content with one half of what he might and ought to have.'

'I believe we are full, old Grumbler,' said the tar; 'others are more
active than you; but here, we are just alongside of the Betsy. Ship,
ahoy! Throw us a rope! Are you all asleep?'

In a few minutes, a rope was thrown; it was made fast by the fore
thwarts, when the ruffians and mate went on board, and remained for
some time. At length the mate returned, and, holding the end of the rope
from the vessel, ordered me to ascend, which I did with difficulty. My
two companions were then hoisted on board, being fastened to a rope, and
dragged up by the crew of the vessel. As soon as they were on deck, the
ruffians descended into a boat without speaking a word, and put off for
the harbour.

When it was gone, I was conducted to the hold of the vessel; and the
two companions of my adventure were carried, and placed beside me. My
terror of them had now entirely fled; for, from their contortions and
half-muttered expressions, I had perceived they were not dead, but in a
beastly state of intoxication. Even to be from under the same roof with
the cause of my sufferings was to me a change much for the better. With
a mind comparatively at ease, I fell asleep upon the hard deck, where I
had at first taken my station, and remained in happy unconsciousness
until I was awoke after sunrise, in consequence of the bustle and noise
around me. For a few minutes I revolved the events of the preceding day
and night in my mind, and shuddered as the recollection dawned upon me.
Raising myself upon my elbow, I gazed around as well as the obscurity
would permit (for the main hatch was closed), and saw the two young men
who had caused me so much alarm, lying close beside me, in a profound
sleep, and breathing very heavily. I attempted to rise; but felt so sick
and giddy that I could not keep my feet, from the motion of the vessel.
I longed for the presence of some of the crew; but none of them came
near us. The two lads at length awoke from their sleep, bewildered and
sick almost to death; they gazed around them with a vacant stare, as if
they had just passed into a new state of existence. They spoke not a
word; their minds were occupied in examining all around them, and, as I
thought, ascertaining their own identity. Young as I was, had I been at
ease, I could have enjoyed the extraordinary scene before me; but, alas!
I was a partaker of all the feelings that were passing in their minds.
At length they broke silence--

'Willie, Willie, what's come owre us now?' cried Peter.

'Indeed I do not know, Peter,' replied he; 'but I fear it is no good.'

'What good can be expected from such company as we were in last night?'
continued the first, 'and such drinking as we had. O Willie, had you
come away when I wanted--but I am as bad as you, or I would have left
you when I threatened.'

'There is no use to reflect upon what is done, when it cannot be
undone,' said his friend. 'I fear the deceitful scoundrels drugged our
liquor; for I have no recollection of anything that occurred after your
proposing to leave them.'

Then, addressing me, he asked if I knew where they were, or in what
ship. I answered that I did not, further than that, from what I had seen
and heard, I thought we were on board of a vessel they called the Betsy;
and then gave them an account of all I had witnessed the evening before.
The younger of the two began to weep like a child; while the other,
whose rage knew no bounds, swore fearfully at the two ruffians who had
betrayed them into their present situation. When he became more calm, I
requested him to explain himself; and learned from him his own history
and that of his companion. They were schoolfellows, cousins, and
fellow-apprentices; had served their time as joiners; and then left
their native village, to pursue their calling in the capital, with some
views, though not matured, of emigrating to America. Having been
unsuccessful in obtaining work in the city, they had come down to Leith
to make inquiries about a passage to America; and were so unfortunate
as to fall into the hands of one of the notorious plantation-crimps,
who, pretending to be intimate with the captain of a trading vessel
about to sail, enticed them to his den, that they might obtain all the
information they required. They were plied with liquor; robbed of all
the money they had; and placed in the situation in which I now saw them.
From the inquiries they had made in Leith, and our mutual explanations,
it was too evident to us all three that we had been kidnapped and sold
to a palantine vessel, to be carried out to Virginia, and there sold as
slaves, to the highest bidder. The young men were inconsolable; as
for me, I cared little about it, now that I was assured there was no
immediate personal violence to be feared: hard fare and hard living were
my lot--I knew no other. While others, bred to better things, were in
misery, I was comparatively in happiness. Such is the influence of
habit. To have my provisions regularly served, with nothing to do but
lie upon the floor of the hold, or walk about in its narrow limits, was
to me sufficient recompense for an evil, which to others would have
appeared irremediable.

The next tide after we were put on board, the Betsy left Leith Roads,
and sailed for Aberdeen, on her progress north. Our number was there
augmented to eighteen--the recruits being all boys about my own age,
who, not being kidnapped, but trepanned with false promises, came on
board in great spirits, and full of hope. I could notice the various
operations going forward, in consequence of my cheerful and contented
manner having obtained for me permission to come on deck and range over
the vessel. My slight sickness went off as soon as we were under way;
and, pleased with my new mode of life, I began to make myself as useful
to the crew as I could; but the two lads were not so fortunate; for
they were continually abusing the captain, or importuning him to put
them on shore. In the forenoon of the day before we sailed from Aberdeen,
a boat, containing a quantity of luggage, came alongside, and a
genteelly-dressed couple came on board, and were ushered into the cabin.
The female appeared very dejected; and, hanging upon the male with
anxious fondness, expressed through her silent tears, bent her gaze,
alternately looking towards the shore with an expression of regret,
and then in his face with a languid smile. He was as well-made and
good-looking a man as I have ever seen in all my wanderings; but there
was a marble-like rigidity in his features, only enlivened by a peculiar
cast of his piercing black eyes, that created a peculiar feeling of
uneasiness in me as I looked at him. He left the vessel; but when I know
not; for we sailed before sunset; and I never again saw the female he
left until we had passed Cape Wrath, some few days after. As for myself,
I was quite happy, and felt myself more at home than I had done since my
mother's death. The ship was a home to me. I had my allowance with the
other palantines; slept in the hold with them at night; and enjoyed,
along with many of them, the pleasure of building castles in the
air--anticipations of the wealth and comforts we were to enjoy in the
land of promise. It was, indeed, by delusive accounts of America, that
most of them had been induced to embark.

We were now careering over the blue waves of the vast Atlantic, as if we
were far above the earth. Nothing was there for the weary eye to rest
upon but a dreary expanse of ocean and sky. All was still as death, save
the hissing at the bows of the vessel, as she parted the unfathomable
deep. The crew loitered upon the decks listlessly; and we, as
palantines, huddled together around the mainmast, were whiling away the
time in songs, or talking of the homes we had left behind, and future
hopes in a foreign land. We were suddenly interrupted by the female I
have already mentioned, who came rushing up the companion, from the
cabin, and crouched amongst us like a frightened hare. I could not have
believed that so short a period of time could have wrought so great a
change upon a human being. She was thin, pale; her eyes red, and sunk in
her head; her hair dishevelled; and her whole appearance exhibiting the
extreme of neglect. We all looked upon her in astonishment; for, indeed,
we were not aware that there was a female on board. Her sobs and
distracted looks moved our young hearts almost to tears. She spoke
nothing; fear had chained up her tongue; her eyes were either bent
imploringly upon us, or turned, in aversion and terror, towards the
quarter from whence she had come. All on deck was dumb show; the sailors
looked on, apparently as much surprised as we were; and, in the midst
of the silent scene, the captain came on deck, apparently in great
agitation. He was coming towards us, when the female sank on her knees,
and, raising her clasped hands, called on God to save her from that bad
man; then, looking around to us, implored us, in the most thrilling
accents, not to deliver her up to him. We were ourselves slaves; yet,
such is the force of a woman's appeal, that we placed ourselves between
her and him, while the crew stood apart, and looked silently on. The
captain affected to laugh.

'Lady, what are you afraid of, that you have left the cabin?' he said.
'It was all in jest, upon my honour! You are as safe there as in your
father's house. Come, madam, I shall have the pleasure to lead you
back.'

'Oh, never!' screamed the female. 'Leave me! leave me! if you would not
drive me mad, or into this boundless ocean. What on earth have I now to
care for? I know I am your slave, by the basest and cruellest means, but
worse I shall never be. A favour from your hands would be hateful to me.
With these, my fellow-sufferers, I can alone feel myself secure from
insult. Your cabin I shall never enter. Foolish--oh, how foolishly
confiding I have been!--but criminal I shall never be. So, leave me,
for mercy sake!'

While she spoke, my eyes were fixed upon him. I saw the working of
passion deeply depicted on his countenance; pity had no place there. A
faint shade of shame passed over him; but disappointment settled into
fierce rage. Stamping upon the deck, and in a voice hoarse from
emotion--

'It is well, madam,' he cried. 'You have made your choice, and shall
abide by it; and those who, by their looks, indicate their resolution to
abet your folly, shall not fare the better for their interference. Mate,
call the crew! force the palantines below; and batten them down, as base
mutineers.'

Not one of us had as yet spoken one word; the whole was the affair of a
few minutes. The mate ordered us below; and we were obeying the order as
fast as we could--the distressed female huddling in the midst of us,
fearful to be on the deck alone--when William, in his undaunted manner,
stepped up to the captain, and began to upbraid him, both for his
conduct in having kidnapped us, and for his present conduct towards an
unprotected female. He even threatened him with exposure as soon as we
reached the shores of America. Peter, his friend, in vain urged him to
refrain from irritating the captain; but the hot-headed youth heeded not
the advice, and stood by his point, till the captain, who uttered not
one word, bit his lip, and, hurrying to his cabin, returned with a
cocked pistol in each hand. The mate, who was a good-hearted kind of
lad, was, at the moment, persuading William to go below quietly; but his
blood was up; and, even at sight of the pistols, he quailed not. I
looked on with fear, for the captain's stern silence looked ominous. He
levelled one of the pistols, and fired; the ball passed close by his
intended victim, and went right through the fore-sail. The second he was
in the act of raising, when William struck his hand down, and it went
off, sending the ball through the deck. The furious man now called to
the mate and crew to place poor William in irons. The youth stood still
resolute, and would have rushed upon the captain and hurled him to the
deck, or perhaps overboard (for he was a powerful lad), had not Peter
held him back. The irons were now produced from the cabin--William and
the captain eyeing each other meanwhile like two tigers; and three of
the crew and the mate, set on by the captain, who kept blaspheming in a
fearful manner, rushed to secure the young man. Peter at once loosed his
hold of William, and stood in his defence; whereupon the captain,
starting to give personal aid, uttered a shrill cry of pain, and fell
upon the deck, which was stained with his blood. The ball had passed
through his foot before it entered the wood. As many of us as the
hatchway would admit, witnessed the scene; but none of us had any mind
to be partakers in it. William and Peter were secured and put in irons
before the vindictive villain would allow himself to be removed from the
deck. It was no matter, in his anger, that his foot bled. He even stood,
while the deck was streaming, till we were also battened down into the
dark hold--the two companions remaining in irons above. As soon as we
were all settled below, in which there was not even proper accommodation
for us poor palantines, the female retired to one corner; and, seating
herself on the bare boards, leaned her head to the side of the vessel,
and wept bitterly. We were deeply affected by her situation and
distress; but had nothing in our power whereby to alleviate her sorrow,
save, indeed, our sympathy; and that we only gave in secret; for her
ladylike appearance, in a great measure, overawed us, and made us retire
from her. The greater part of us composed ourselves to sleep. Before
morning, it blew a dreadful gale, as we could perceive by the pitching
of the vessel and the noise of the rigging, which sounded fearfully in
our ears. All of us became very sick. The poor lady I thought would have
died; her weakness was extreme; and her suffering apparently beyond
any present remeid. Two days and nights we remained in this dreadful
situation, without a mouthful of food or a drop of water. Our sufferings
increased hourly, and were almost more than we could endure. We shouted
for help, or to be liberated from our noisome prison. Our cries were
either unheeded or drowned by the noise and tumult of the storm. I and
a few more had recovered from the sickness only to feel, in greater
horror, our painful situation. The heat of the hold was intense, and
aggravated our thirst tenfold. The air even became offensive; our
breathing a kind of painful spasm of the windpipe. We crept to the foot
of the ladder under the main hatch and, holding by it, sucked in some
fresh air. I had been here for some time, and felt my sufferings
alleviated; and the poor female's situation in the distant corner,
selfish as we had all become, moved us so much to pity, that two of us
agreed to relinquish our envied post, to ascertain whether she still
survived.

We found her extended upon the hard boards, to all appearance dead; I
placed my hand upon her heart, to ascertain if life was extinct. She
opened her eyes, and made a motion with her hand as if she wished me to
retire. Humanity forbade compliance; and, in the best manner we could,
we conveyed her to the foot of the ladder, where she gradually began to
recover and breathe more freely. This was now the third day of our
confinement. The storm had almost subsided, as we could feel from the
vessel lying more steady in the water; and, to our unspeakable joy, the
hatch was opened, and a supply of water and biscuit given to us. Next to
the water, the pure air of heaven was most welcome to us. I wet the
parched lips of the pale sufferer, then held the beverage to them. She
swallowed a few mouthfuls, blessed me for my kindness, then sank into
her usual melancholy. We were now told by the mate that we were not to
come on deck; but he would leave the hatch open. We obeyed this command,
which came from the captain. William and Peter, who had witnessed and
endured the whole storm, in irons, lashed at the foot of the mainmast to
a ring bolt, were also liberated, and came down amongst us. We learned
from them that we had been in great danger, and that the mate and crew
had been alarmed for the safety of the vessel. The captain was still
unable to leave his cabin; and, from all accounts, he was very bad of
the wound. This was so far fortunate; for the mate, who was of a humane
disposition, brought some coffee for the female, which William, with
great difficulty, prevailed upon her to take. She gradually began to
recover; and the more passionate bursts of her grief having subsided, we
were anxious to learn how she had been reduced to her present situation,
and thought of making a delicate inquiry into her history. At length the
frank and generous William put the question to her in the most gentle
manner; a burst of tears followed the request.

'Much as it will pain me,' she said, 'I am so indebted to you all for
your kindness and humanity, that I cannot refuse your desire. I almost
feel it a duty to myself; for appearances are strongly against me. So
low as I must appear at present to you all, I was born in affluence,
though not of an ancient family. My father was a wealthy merchant, and
the best of parents. My sainted mother died before I had reached my
tenth year, leaving us both inconsolable for her loss. My father, who
could scarce endure to have me out of his sight--for I was an only
child--engaged a governess to complete my education. She was a young
woman of engaging manners, and possessed of every accomplishment; yet
under these she concealed a selfish disposition and hardness of heart,
which neither my father nor myself suspected could have existed in
one so young and bland in her speech. To me she was most kind and
unremitting in her duties--more, indeed, like a mother than a hireling;
and I loved her as if she had stood in that relation to me. This won my
father's esteem for her, which, unfortunately, soon ripened into love.
One day, I recollect, as I was walking in the garden, accompanied by
him, he led me to an arbour, and, placing me beside him, said--

'Eliza, do you love Marian?'

I artlessly threw my arms around his neck, and exclaiming--

'Oh, yes, papa; how much I thank you for getting me so good a
governess!'

I had pleased him; for he smiled and said--

'My dear Eliza, I mean to bind her to you by a stronger tie. I have
watched her maternal care and affection for you, and mean to give her
the right to call you daughter.'

I was delighted. The marriage was solemnised, and we lived in harmony
and mutual love, so far as I could perceive, for six years. At this
period my father fell into a bad state of health, which threatened to
terminate fatally. Our attentions to him, unremitting and anxious, were
repaid by a gratitude and love which seemed equally divided between his
young wife and the child of his first love. Marian showed no jealousy;
and my heart was incapable of any feelings but those of affection.
Meanwhile, my dear parent, to prepare for the worst, settled his
affairs. We were both in the room with him along with the lawyer. He was
dissolved in tears, and asked us if we were satisfied with the manner in
which he dictated the disposal of his wealth. I could only answer by my
sobs. My grief was excessive. The making of a will, to my young and
inexperienced mind, had all the appearance of the last act of a living
person. Death soon closed the scene. By the settlement, it was provided
that we were to be treated as sisters, only a greater share of power
(as if she had been the elder sister) was given to his wife. It ran
thus:--If neither married, we were to live together, and the survivor
was to enjoy and have the disposal of all. If Marian married, she was,
during her life, to enjoy one-half, which was to revert to me or my
children at her death. If I married during her life, without her
consent, I was to be cut off from any part of my father's property,
except what she might choose to give me. This was a hard condition. I
was to have no claim at law; and, in the event of me or my husband
instituting an action, I was to be cut off with a shilling. This fatal
clause, which I heard read to me at the time with indifference, has been
the cause of all my misfortunes, and since then I have had every reason
to believe my confiding father was prompted to insert it, at the
suggestion of my artful stepmother. For some time, she had, at every
opportunity, been speaking of foolish marriages made by young women, and
their fatal consequences, illustrating them by numerous anecdotes and
examples, whereby she invidiously prepared him for her selfish purpose,
and at last compassed her object without the appearance of a dictation
which he would have spurned. I was thus left at the mercy of this
designing woman, who, when she put on her widow's robes, put off her
hypocrisy towards me, and began to appear in her true colours. Alas! I
have every reason to think that her acting had all along been irksome to
her. She became harsh and cruel, doing all she could to make the house
and her presence disagreeable to me. She became gay, and frequented
company, of which I was forced to partake; and when I could scarce
refrain from tears at the remembrance of some cutting speech she had
used to me only a few hours before, I was forced to smile to hide my
chagrin. Before strangers, there was no change towards me, neither was
there anything I could complain of to my acquaintance; for so artfully
did she manage to make me miserable, that every fault was imputable to
my own apparent bad temper. It was when alone that I experienced her
bitter manner. All was wrong I said or did, and her admonitions for my
amendment were more cutting than her reproofs and abuse. I had several
eligible offers for my hand; all of which she refused, under one
pretence or another--covering her designs against me by the mask of an
anxiety for my happiness; so that she was looked upon by all who were
acquainted with her as the best of stepmothers--the kindest protector of
youth. At length, her wishes were accomplished. A nephew of her own, by
her invitation, came to reside with us for a short time, upon a visit.
As if my good genius warned me of my fate, I disliked him so much at
first, that I felt unhappy in his presence; but his assiduities
gradually won upon me. I contrasted him with his aunt; love succeeded
to aversion; and I was ruined.'

Here a burst of tears for a time choked her utterance. After some time,
she resumed--

'I was now, for a time, happy in the delirium of youthful love. His
tender attentions had completely won my heart. With a thrill of
pleasure, covered by maiden modesty, I heard his first declaration of
unalterable love for me. He saw too plainly the power he had over me.
His aunt refused, as usual, her consent to our union; and, after
upbraiding me for seducing the affections of her nephew, locked me up
in my room, while she retained him in the house. Stolen interviews
were the natural consequence. He was all indignation at his aunt for
her unkindness to me; and, if possible, more tender and respectful than
ever. To escape the tyranny I had so long suffered, I unfortunately
agreed to elope with him, and be privately married. I explained to him
the situation in which I was placed, by my father's will--he declared he
loved me for myself alone. I was now completely in the toils; gave my
consent; on the third night left my late father's house in his company,
and set off in a postchaise, which was drawn up at a short distance from
the gate. Next forenoon, we were lawfully married--his aunt taking no
steps to prevent it by following us, but contenting herself by putting
on the appearance of grief for my folly and ingratitude to her, for all
the care and attention she had bestowed upon my education, and the base
return I had made for all her kindness. Can there be a doubt she was
the cause of all? Nay--she was the first to make known to me the prior
history of my husband--the man whom she had first introduced to me, and
to whom she gave every facility to win my unsuspecting heart. She
herself now blushed not to say that he was a reprobate, without
principle, addicted to every vice, and one whom his friends had found
it out of their power to reclaim. With well-feigned tears of regret,
she upbraided herself for having ever allowed him to enter her
house--ascribing her motive to humanity, and a desire to reclaim him
from his errors; and hinting, when she could, that I had defeated her
good intentions, and ruined myself. Alas! how true the latter part has
proved to me! I and my husband wrote to her letter after letter, in
vain. She refused, in the most insulting manner, to allow me a shilling
of my father's fortune. All I obtained was my own personal effects, and
a few of the jewels that had belonged to my mother. Poverty came fast
upon us, and debts increased. My husband had become unkind, and often
absent from me for days--excusing himself by fears for his creditors. In
our extremity, he spoke of emigration to America, describing the country
in glowing colours, and dwelling on the happy prospects he anticipated
from the assistance of some relations he had there. I offered no
objection; for I had now no partiality for one country more than
another--where my husband was, there was my heart and home; and, with a
severe pang, not for their value, but for the sake of her who now was
unconscious of my situation, I parted with the last of my mother's
jewels, to defray the expense of our voyage. My own jewels had been long
since disposed of, to supply our urgent wants. We left Edinburgh, like
guilty creatures, under the cloud of night, for fear of his being
arrested, and proceeded to join the vessel at Aberdeen. I can proceed no
further, lest my heart should burst. My heartless husband had sold me to
the captain, to be disposed of in America--trepanned me north for his
wicked purpose. The rest you know.'

Here her tears could no longer be suppressed; nor could we restrain
ours; yet no one spoke to interrupt her grief. William alone uttered a
few execrations against the aunt and nephew.

The weather continued rough, and the wind contrary, and we suffered much
for a few days from the pitching of the vessel. We were still confined
to the hold by the captain's orders; yet we had no other cause of
complaint, for the mate supplied all our wants in abundance. The
captain, who had continued very ill from the wound in his foot, at
length fevered, and his life was in danger; at his request, the lady
left the hold and waited upon him. He begged forgiveness for the insult
he had offered her; we were all allowed the freedom of the vessel; and
she continued to nurse and watch over him with all that care and
assiduity that belong to women. After a tedious passage of nine weeks,
we arrived off Baltimore, in the State of Maryland; the captain, who
recovered, being still very lame, though able to come upon deck. As soon
as we cast anchor off the mouth of the harbour (for we did not enter) a
message was sent to the town by the captain; and, on the following day,
a regular market was held upon our deck, when we were put up to sale,
and knocked down by an auctioneer to the highest bidder. William and
Peter brought large sums, being expert tradesmen, and their time of
service was short, compared with the rest. The others, like myself, were
fit only for field work, and our time, to make up the sum of forty
pounds, which we averaged, was three years. We all thought the captain
would have given the injured lady her liberty, and a present, for her
care of him; but avarice was his ruling passion, and stifled gratitude.
He had paid her unprincipled husband a large sum for his victim, and was
determined to reimburse himself. All the favour he conferred upon her
was, that he did not dispose of her with the same regardlessness as to
who was the purchaser, but kept her on board several days, while he made
inquiries as to an eligible situation. Those who knew him gave him
little credit for his endeavours, and did not scruple to say that he was
as anxious to drive a good bargain for himself as to find a good master
for her. Whatever was his motive, it turned out very fortunate for her,
as I heard afterwards; for a rich shipowner of the city, whose wife had
died a few months before, satisfied the captain's cupidity, and took
her to his house as a governess to his children, three of whom were
daughters. Before I left Maryland, I heard that she had learned, through
the English papers, which her master regularly got, by one or other of
the many vessels that traded to this port, that her unprincipled husband
had been condemned and executed for robbing his aunt of a large sum of
money, and forging an order upon her banker, not many weeks after we had
left Scotland. Many years afterwards, I learned, in Edinburgh, from
William, who had returned, after a long stay in Baltimore, with a
considerable sum of money, and had commenced builder, that before he
left the city, she had married her master, and was as wealthy and happy
as any lady in the province. But what struck me most forcibly was, the
just retribution that had taken place in her singular fortunes. Her
stepmother was, when he left, actually living an humble dependent upon
her bounty, in Baltimore. It appeared that, after she had succeeded in
forcing her stepdaughter into the fatal marriage with her nephew,
and obtained the object she plotted for--possession of the whole
property--she herself fell a victim to a husband nearly as bad--a
gambler and adventurer, of a most prepossessing figure and address; the
consequence was, that all she possessed was lost by him at play, or
squandered in dissipation. Both had been living in London in extreme
want, when he was detected in swindling transactions to a considerable
amount. Whether guilty or innocent of the fraudulent acts of her
husband, there were many suspicious circumstances which she could not
explain to the satisfaction of a jury, and both were convicted and
banished to the plantations. By good fortune for them, the vessel that
brought them out, bound for Norfolk, in Virginia, had suffered much in
a storm, put into Baltimore in a leaky state, and there landed the
convicts, handing them over to the governor of Maryland. Eliza's
husband, who was in the magistracy of the city, got the list of their
names when they were transferred from the ship to the prison. Several
of them had died on the voyage, from bad fare, confinement, and harsh
treatment; mostly all were sickly, more or less; and Marian was very
ill. From her manners and appearance, Eliza's husband became interested
in her; and, to save her life, had her removed from the hospital in the
jail, to his own house. You may form your own conjectures of the
astonishment of both when they met. Eliza was the most forgiving and
gentle of creatures, as she had shown in her attention to the captain
after his bad usage of her; and, at her request, her husband got from
the governor a grant of their services, during the term the law had
condemned them to serve. The husband ran from the country a few months
after his arrival, and had not been heard of when William came away; but
the wife remained under the protection of her she had attempted to ruin.

To return to myself after this long digression, I and other two of
the young Aberdeen lads were purchased by a farmer, and removed that
afternoon to his home, about twelve miles from Baltimore. A more
pitiable figure, as regards dress, never landed on any shore. I had
still the same remnant of clothes with which I had left Edinburgh; but
now they scarcely held together, and were besmeared with tar; my feet
and legs were clean, but shoes or stockings were a luxury I had been
long unused to. My long yellow hair hung down my back, but covering I
had none for my head. My heart was light and joyous, as was that of my
companions. Our three years of bondage, we thought, would soon pass
away, and the golden period commence. During our ride over the rough
and ill-made road, in a waggon in which our master had brought a load
of tobacco to town, our whole conversation was of our future golden
prospects; but, alas! we were soon awakened from our pleasant
dreams--for, upon our arrival at the farm, which was not until some time
after nightfall, we were placed in a dark out-house, and the door barred
upon us. Our master was a sour-looking, taciturn man, who had scarcely
spoken to us all the way, save to inquire our ages, and what kind of
work we could best perform. For some time we stood close by the door,
unable to speak from surprise and fear. So dark was the place where we
were confined, that we could not see our own hands, even when they
touched our faces. After standing thus, melancholy and terrified, the
bars were withdrawn, and our master entered with a lanthorn and a
basket, in which was abundance of pork and Indian corn, boiled whole,
and still warm, to be eaten as bread. In a surly manner, he ordered us
to take our supper quickly, that we might be ready to turn out in the
morning to work. Young and hungry, we were not long in dispatching our
meal, when, pointing to a quantity of dry grass at one end of our prison
(for I can call it by no other name), he lifted his lanthorn, and left
us to ruminate upon our melancholy situation and dreary prospects under
such a taskmaster. None of us felt inclined to speak; yet it was some
time ere any of us could close our eyes, in consequence of the noise
made by the bull-frogs in a swamp near the farm. If we had not heard
them as we approached the place, and inquired what caused the, to us,
strange sounds, we would have been terribly alarmed. Tired nature at
length prevailed, and I sank asleep. Before sunrise next morning, the
harsh voice of our master, whip in hand, roused us from repose. We
started up, and followed him into the enclosure in front of his barn
and house.

This was an oblong square, enclosed with stout wooden paling, very
thickly set, on the banks of a beautiful stream. At one side were the
buildings, composed entirely of wood--the forest, which extended as far
as the eye could reach, was at no great distance in the rear--everything
around indicated the greatest plenty of all that was necessary for the
enjoyment of life, as far as food could administer to it; there were
several cows and horses, sleek and fat, feeding under a shed; brood
sows, with numerous progenies; and fowls actually swarming around. The
morning was beautiful; the air, filled with a thousand grateful odours
from the fields, imparting to our young minds a buoyancy we had been
strangers to since we had left our own native shores. Our hasty survey
was made in a few minutes, while we stood waiting further orders. Our
master, who had entered another part of the building, returned,
accompanied by two of the most miserable-looking men I had ever
seen--as wretchedly clad as I was myself, with the exception that they
had broad straw-hats upon their heads. Misery and they seemed to have
been long intimates; my heart sank within me at their appearance; both
had wooden clogs, consisting of a cut of about a foot long from the
branch of a tree, chained to their right leg at the ancle; and this they
carried over their arm. In addition, one of them had a stout collar
round his neck, from which projected three iron hooks, about a foot
from his head. We burst into tears, thinking we were to be similarly
equipped, and would have fled, had flight been possible; all the riches
in the world we would have counted a mean reward to the person who would
have transported us from the tyrant's farm-yard to the beautiful hills
and valleys of Scotland. As they came to where we stood gazing through
our tears, three tall, bony, sallow-looking lads, sons of the
proprietor, issued from the principal building, with implements upon
their shoulders, one of which was given to each of us, and we were now
to begin our work. Before we proceeded, our master said to us, in his
harsh manner--

'Mind ye, lads, you are my bound servants for three years, to do my
will--mayhap for more. If you offer to run away, I will catch you again;
and, besides punishment, dress you so--and he pointed with malicious
triumph to his victims--to prevent your running; and, mark me, for every
day you are absent, you serve me two.'

In spite of his threat, I believe there was not one of us who did not
resolve to make his escape from him the first opportunity. Had he
treated us kindly, we would have obeyed him with pleasure, nor thought
of anything but completing our period of service; but humanity was
foreign to his nature, and short-sighted avarice alone possessed all his
thoughts. He had himself been a convict in his youth; but had for many
years been free, and had purchased, when it was yet part of the forest,
the lot of land he now cultivated. All had been the creation of his own
labour, and he was proud of it to excess. When in good humour, which was
seldom the case, his feats against, and escapes from, the Indians, and
praises of his lands, were the only things upon which he was loquacious.

We soon learned that our two companions in misery were government
convicts, and very bad characters; both had been guilty of many crimes,
and were so hardened that nothing but the strictest surveillance and
coercion could keep them in subjection. They were like tigers in chains,
and threatened the most fearful revenge, as soon as the period of their
servitude expired. This they did openly to his face; and not a day
passed without an altercation, or without some punishment being
inflicted upon them, when they would threaten again until they were
tired, and wish that the Indians might give us a hot wakening before
morning, and yield them an opportunity of making tobacco pouches of the
scalps of the master and his sons.

I often wondered how he kept his temper; he seemed to treat them with
scorn--for his cool, calculating mind had so long been familiar with the
perils of his situation, that he heeded them not so long as he conceived
himself secure. To us three youths, who trembled at his voice, he was
not excessively cruel, further than working us almost beyond our
strength. From sunrise to sunset, we were allowed no intervals but a few
minutes to swallow our food, of which we had abundance and to spare.

'Eat well, work well,' he used to say, 'is American fashion.'

I had been with him about six months, and was literally naked; my skin
had become hard and brown as an Indian's; all my clothing consisted of
some pieces of sheep skin I had contrived for winter wear, and a straw
hat of coarse enough manufacture, which I had plaited and made for
myself on the Sabbath-days, to screen me from the intolerable glare
and heat of the sun. Our appearance gave us no concern, for we were
completely excluded from all intercourse with human beings, except
those upon the plantation; and strangers were seldom seen in our
neighbourhood. At the time I speak of, our master had been down to
Baltimore, with a waggon load of produce, consisting of pork and salted
beef, &c. He had made an excellent market, and returned in a fit of good
humour; at our return from labour, he called us three into the house, as
we were passing to our prison, to be locked up for the night. We were
surprised at the invitation, for we had never been within the walls of
the dwelling-house. As soon as we entered, he inquired if we would
purchase any clothing from him, seeing we were so much in want of them.
Scarcely could we believe our ears and eyes, when, opening a box, he
displayed canvas jackets, trousers, and check shirts.

'You surely mean to make sport with us,' said I; 'for you know well that
we have not one farthing among us three to purchase the smallest
necessary.'

'That, I guess, is not of much matter,' he replied, in his quiet, husky
manner, 'if I choose to give you a long credit.'

We at once agreed to his own terms, and I signed a bond for one hundred
dollars, for a pair of coarse canvas trousers, a jacket of the same, two
check shirts, and a good straw hat. My heart misgave me when I saw his
peculiar smile, as he placed my bond in his pocket-book. Pleased as I
was with my finery, I feared I had done wrong, but did not know to what
extent until next morning, when we joined the convicts at labour. As
soon as they saw us in our new dresses, they burst out into a loud
laugh.

'Oh!' said they, 'has the old villain limed his birds already? Poor
greenhorns, you have sold yourselves for years to come. How are you to
redeem the debts you have incurred, and others you must yet incur, but
by new engagements? He has you in his toils.' And they again laughed
aloud.

We resumed our labour with heavy hearts; despondency came upon us, and
we began to droop and pine. At night, when we retired to rest, and,
until overpowered by fatigue and sleep, we talked of nothing but plans
of escape. Numbers were formed and abandoned; to fly to the forests, we
must perish through hunger and fatigue, or wander on, unknowing where to
go; in the direction of the coast, was still more impracticable, for all
the planters were in league with each other, to prevent the escape of
the convicts and palantines, and no one could travel unmolested, without
a certificate of his freedom. Our situation appeared to us truly without
remeid, and bitterly did we lament our cruel fate.

Fortunately for us, we had--more to have something to keep a lingering
hope of escape awake, than with any prospect of success--for several
Sundays employed ourselves in undermining a part of the clay floor under
the dried grass upon which we slept. The hole passed under the logs; and
we had ascertained that it would be opened behind a wild vine that
spread its luxuriance over a great part of the side and roof of our
prison. We did not open it at the outside, but contented ourselves by
pushing a thin piece of a branch through, lest we had been discovered by
the lynx eyes of our master and his sons. For weeks, things had remained
in this state, we resolving to run for it, and again our hearts failing
us, when one night we were aroused out of our sleep by fearful cries,
mixed with the firing of rifles. It was the war-whoop of the Indians,
who had come down on a plundering expedition, and to avenge some old
aggression our master had perpetrated upon them. So well had they
concerted their plans, that the house was surrounded before any one
knew of their being in the neighbourhood. We lay still and trembled, nor
knew what was passing without. Rifle after rifle cracked, amidst the
whooping of the Indians; no one came to release us from our confined
place, and we were afraid to venture out by our hole, lest we should be
perceived by the savages, and murdered; for we had been informed that,
in a case like the present, they gave no quarter to man, woman, or
child. At length, we could both smell and hear the crackling of fire
raging without. In agony we dashed upon the door; it resisted our utmost
effort; even death by the Indians, was preferable to death by fire in
our present situation--it was horrible and astounding--the noise, too,
was dreadful--animals and men, all the inmates of the enclosure, were
uttering their wildest cries, and rushing round it in distraction. The
fire had caught the place we were in. I entered our mine, and, by
convulsive efforts, forced off the little turf and earth we had left. I
crawled out, never rising from my belly, for I could perceive the
Indians, like fiends, running about in all directions, anxiously gazing
upon every object. The glare of the burning buildings cast a deep red
ray of light around, rendering all fearfully distinct--my companions
followed me--fortunately some tall bushes concealed us from the Indians
as we crawled along the ground like serpents. The building we had left
we saw was now burning most furiously; and the yelling continued. Thus
we lay along upon the ground, trembling lest we would be discovered
every moment. The Indians were passing and repassing where we lay,
with their piercing eyes bent upon the smouldering ruins. The roof
fell in, and no one appearing to issue out, they retired towards the
dwelling-house, where the fire of rifles was still kept up, and the
flames making fearful progress. I have been in several battles, both by
sea and land; but no sound ever met my ears so appalling as the shout
that arose when the unfortunate inmates burst forth to force their way
through their foes, or sell their lives as dearly as they could. The
firing almost immediately ceased, and a fearful stillness ensued, almost
as unbearable in our present situation as the former tumult. The ruins
still continued to smoulder, and we feared even to breathe, lest we
should betray ourselves to the Indians.

At length the sun shone forth in all his glory upon the smoking
ruins--our drooping spirits were partly revived, and we crept to the
edge of the bushes, and timidly looked around--no human being was to be
seen, and, after some time, we ventured to rise to our feet. The Indians
appeared to have retired to the forest with their booty, and we ventured
forth. A sight the most appalling soon met our eyes--there, close by
each other, the old man and two of his sons lay mangled and scalped; the
other had been consumed in the house, having doubtless been shot from
without, and unable to leave it with the others. Soon the nearest
proprietors began to ride up to the scene of murder and desolation,
armed to the teeth, but too late to give any assistance. The bodies of
the two convicts were not found; many believed they had either gone off
or been carried off by the Indians. Being heartily sick of America, I
returned to Baltimore, where I did labouring work for a few months,
until I had got myself well clothed; then agreed with the captain of a
Greenock vessel to work my passage to Scotland, where I arrived, after
an absence of two years and three months. Such is an instance of the
nefarious system of which I was a victim."



THE PARSONAGE:
MY FATHER'S FIRESIDE.


After the lapse of about thirty years, I lately paid a visit to what had
once been my father's fireside. It was in the month of October that I
visited the manse of Kirkhall. My father had been minister of that
parish; and I received a kindly welcome from his worthy successor--one
of the warmest-hearted and most learned men in the Church of Scotland,
whom I have long known and esteemed as a brother. I found myself again
seated beside the hearth in the little parlour which was once gladdened
with a mother's smile--which was once cheered with the childish sports
of brothers and sisters--which was hallowed by the prayers and presiding
virtues of an affectionate father. They are all departed to the land of
spirits!

Yet, on looking round me, every object seemed to assure me that they
were still near--for almost everything else was unchanged. On looking
through the window from the elbow-chair in which I sat, the old and
magnificent lime tree, which, in the days of my youth, spread its
branches and foliage in wide luxuriance over the court, and gave
assurance of shade and shelter, was still unscathed. Its sweet-scented
flowers were indeed faded--for the breath of approaching winter had
touched its verdure; but its variegated green and yellow leaves were the
same as when I had seen them, and attempted, with boyish hands, to
imitate, nearly half a century ago. A little farther off, the "decent
church" peered from among the majestic ash, elm, and chestnut trees,
with which it was surrounded--the growth of centuries--casting a deep
and solemn shadow over the place of graves. The humble offices, and the
corn-yard in which I had rejoiced to mingle in rural occupations and
frolic, were near; and nothing was wanted to realize the scenes of my
youth, save the presence of the venerable patriarch and my mother, and
their little ones grouping around their knees, or at the frugal board.

But the illusion was short-lived. A holly tree, in the adjoining
parterre, caught my eye. When I knew it of old, it was a little bush, in
which the goldfinch and the linnet nestled, and were protected under my
juvenile guardianship; but, now it had grown up to a stately tree. I
saw, in the mirror over the mantelpiece, the image of my own visage, in
which there were lines that time and the world's cares imprint on the
smoothest brow and the most blooming cheek. The yellow locks of my
forehead were fled, and the few remaining hairs were beginning to be
silvered with grey. My son, too, rising almost to manhood, stood up
before me, unconscious of the recollections and visions which flitted
through my mind. These things dispelled my reverie; and my wandering
thoughts were recalled to the realities of the passing hour.

It was on a Saturday evening that I thus revisited Kirkhall; and my
melancholy meditations were soon partially dissipated by the cheerful,
but moderate hospitalities of my host; which were truly such as to make
me feel that I was, as it were, among mine own kindred, and at my
_father's fireside_.

What a flood of emotions and remembrances spring forth at the mental
utterance of these words! On retiring from the parlour, I was ushered
into what was, of old, denominated, in the quaint colloquial language of
Scotland, "The Prophet's Cham'er"--that is, the apartment for study,
which was to be found thus distinguished in all the old manses of our
clergy. It was now a bedroom, the library being established in another
apartment; and I laid my head upon the pillow in a chamber which was
consecrated, in my memory, by the recollection that within its walls
good men had often thought of "the ways of God to man," and prepared
their spirits, in the depths of silence and seclusion, for proclaiming
in the sanctuary the glad tidings of salvation.

It was a tempestuous night; and, though the blast was completely
excluded from the manse by the dense masses of trees with which it was
surrounded, the wind howled and moaned through their branches and on
their summits, and, like the thunder, gave forth a solemn music to the
soul. I did not sleep, but listened to the sounds of the tempest with
that pleasure which philosophy cannot explain. Ere long, the current of
thought reverted to my own former relations, to the dwelling in which I
reposed; and busy memory, in the watches of the night, supplied, with
all the freshness of a recent event, the circumstances which chequered
the life and marked the character of my father. Though, perhaps, in the
estimation of many, these were commonplace, yet, to me, they were still
full of interest; and, as they seem to afford a true and undistorted
picture of a Scottish clergyman's real character and fortunes, I have
written them down to fill a spare corner in the _Tales of the Borders_.

William Douglas was the eldest son of a farmer in one of the northern
counties of Scotland. The family had been tenants of the farm of Mains
for five successive generations; and, so far as tradition and the humble
annals of the parish could be relied on, had borne an unspotted name,
and acquired that hereditary character for worth, which, in their humble
station, maybe regarded as constituting the moral nobility of human
nature. Just and devout in their lives--sincere, unpretending, and
unaffected in their manners--they were never spoken of but with respect
and goodwill by their neighbours; and were often, in the domestic and
rural affairs of the vicinity, the counsellors and umpires, in whose
good sense, and integrity, and kindness of heart, their humble friends
trusted with confidence. Such characters and families are to be found in
almost every rural district of this country; for, "though grace gangs
no' by generation, yet there is sic a thing as a hawk o' a guid nest." I
believe in the homely proverb, though some metaphysicians may dispute
it, but whether debatable or not in the abstract, William Douglas had
the good fortune, as he deemed it, to grow up in the bosom of a family
in which the characteristic of worth was cherished and transmitted as an
heirloom.

The eldest son of the guidman of Mains showed an early fondness for his
school exercises, and acquired, under the tuition of _Roaring Jock_, the
dominie of the parish, a tolerable proficiency in the rudiments of
literature. The guidman, being an elder of the kirk, was often at the
minister's manse, and the bairns from Mains were occasionally invited to
tea on the Saturdays and play-days; and Paplay, the minister, (was so
denominated, from the name of a small estate of which he was the laird),
showed great favour to the "auldest callant," and often conversed with
him about the subject of his reading. In these circumstances, and
considering the religious character of the Mains family, it was almost
a matter of course that Willie should be destined by his parents, and
prompted by his own predilections, to "the ministry." And, by the advice
of Paplay and Roaring Jock, Willie was sent to the Marischal College at
Aberdeen, where he gained a bursary at the competition, and prosecuted
his studies with assiduity, until, at length, in the fulness of time, he
became a licentiate of the church.

The only thing I remember to have heard connected with this period of my
father's life, was his anecdotes of Paplay's eccentricities, which were
numerous--some of them personal, and some of them the peculiarities of
the old school of clergy in Scotland. He was a pious and orthodox man;
but withal had a tincture of the Covenanter about him, blended with
the aristocratic and chivalrous feeling of a country gentleman of old
family. In the troubled times, about the years 1745-6, he was a staunch
Whig; and so very decided in his politics, that, when "Prince Charlie's
men" had the ascendancy in Scotland, he was either in arms or in hiding;
and when he ventured to preach, he wore his sword in the pulpit, and a
blue coat, girt with a belt, in which a pair of pistols were hung--more
like a man of war than a preacher of peace! Even after the defeat at
Culloden, the Jacobitism of the north was so strong, and Paplay was so
obnoxious, by reason of his vehement preaching against popery, and
prelacy, and the Pretender, that he continued long after to wear his
sword (in the pulpit and elsewhere), which was rather a formidable
concern to the nonjurors about him, in the hand of a brave and athletic
champion of true Whiggery. He assigned three reasons for wearing his
sword after it seemed to some of his friends to be unnecessary:--"First,
because I am a gentleman; secondly, because I can use it; and, thirdly,
because, if you doubt, you may try." Among some of his oddities, he had
a great admiration of a well-spring, a white calf, and a bonny lass; and
he never passed any of them in his way without doing them homage. Though
travelling on horseback, he would dismount to bathe his feet in a limpid
stream, as it gushed from the earth, or to caress a white calf, or to
salute a female--all which fantasies were united with the most primitive
innocence. And he never ate a meal, even in his own house, or when he
was a refugee in a hay stack or kiln barn, without exacting from his
wife and friends the most urgent _pressing_.

It was under the auspices of this warlike and singular apostle that my
father was ushered into the sacred office of a minister of the gospel.
He preached his first sermon in the church of his native parish; and,
according to the fashion of the times, at the close of the service, the
parish minister publicly criticised the discourses of the day. The young
preacher, in this instance, found favour in Paplay's eyes; and his
testimony in favour of the _plant_ which had sprung up among them was so
emphatic, and rendered so piquant by his odd figures of speech, that
William Douglas was long distinguished among his friends and neighbours
by the familiar designation of _Paplay's Plant_.

But there was another _plant_ that graced the manse, which was not
unobserved or unadmired by the young preacher--Jane Malcolm (the
daughter of a clergyman in a more remote parish, and niece of Paplay's
lady), a sweet flower, that had grown up in the wilderness, like "a
daisy on the mountain's side." It was in the nature of things that "the
loves of the plants" should be illustrated by the juxtaposition of the
two favourite flowers of the chivalrous parson. An affectionate but
secret attachment naturally grew out of the frequent visits which
"Paplay's Plant" paid to the manse; and these were multiplied in
consequence of William Douglas being appointed assistant to his
spiritual patron, whose decline into the vale of years had begun to
abate the energy of his character, and to render assistance necessary.
The attachment between the young people might be suspected, but was
not formally made known to Paplay and "the lady," as she was called,
according to the courtesy of the olden time. Indeed, such a promulgation
would have been idle; for the "half-reverend" assistant (as Paplay was
wont to address the young probationers of the church) had no immediate
prospect of a benefice, although he was an acceptable preacher,
throughout the bounds of the presbytery. But an incident occurred
which facilitated the union, of which the preliminaries were thus
established.

The Earl of Bellersdale,[H] a nobleman in the neighbouring county, who
affected to be descended from an ancient family that flourished in the
days of good King Duncan, but who had really no more connection with it
than with Hercules or the Man in the Moon, reared a village or sea-port
at a short but convenient distance from his magnificent castle. Among
the other items in the arrangements which were destined to immortalise
the munificence of the Earl in the establishment of Bellerstown, a
church was deemed necessary for political, to say nothing of moral
considerations; and the earl, being a man of taste, thought that a
church, placed in a particular position, would make a fine vista from
various points in the noble park which surrounded the Castle of
Bellersdale. A picturesque chapel was accordingly built on a rising
knoll, separated from the pleasure grounds and the castle by a river,
over which a handsome bridge made no mean addition to the lordly scene.

  [H] A little reflection will enable the reader to see what true
  name this fictitious one is intended to cover.--ED.

The chapel being built, and endowed with a stipend of "forty pounds
a-year" (the hint, I suppose, was taken from Oliver Goldsmith), it was
necessary to provide a clergyman to officiate in it; and William Douglas
being one of the most approved young men in the district, had the honour
to be preferred by the patron. The period to which I now refer was long
before the church, in its wisdom, enacted a law for regulating chapels
of ease; and not only the amount of stipend, but the continuance of
clergymen who officiated in such chapels, depended on the arbitrary and
sovereign will of their pious founders. Bellerstown, though a step in
William Douglas' professional progress, yielded too scanty a revenue to
admit of matrimony; but the talents, respectability, and prepossessing
manners of the chaplain made him a favourite at the castle, and
rendered it practicable to eke out the slender living by the addition
of a small farm, at what was called a moderate rent. But this appendage,
too, was held by the same precarious tenure--Lord Bellersdale's will.
The probationer was inducted as pastor of the Bellerstown chapel,
according to the rules of the church; and, after the lapse of a few
months, he and Miss Jane Malcolm thought--although no other person
thought--that they might venture to enter into the holy bands of
wedlock, and, with frugality and mutual love in their household, look
forward to happiness in their humble and unambitious sphere of life.
This thought ended in deed--and they were married.

The tenor of a clergyman's life is, in general, even and unvaried,
consisting of a faithful and regular discharge of his peculiar duties.
Such, for some years, was the fate of William Douglas. He acquired the
confidence and affections of his humble flock--the esteem of his
brethren--the countenance of the neighbouring gentry--and even the
patronage of the great man, at whose table he was a frequent and
welcomed guest. Mrs. Douglas had presented him with two sons: and his
parents, advanced in years, were gathered to their fathers. This
bereavement was not unlooked for; but the first trial of life which
wrung his heart to the core, was a fatal illness which, in a few days,
snatched the object of his most tender affection from him.

Time passed on, and "brought healing on its wings." After the lapse of
several years, my father felt that it was not meet for man to be alone;
and, whilst he cherished the fondest remembrance of his first domestic
companion, he had too much good sense to go into the affectation of
continuing single during the rest of his life "for her sake;" more
especially as he had no female relative to whom he could confide the
maternal charge of his boys in their nursery days. He accordingly
discerned, in the daughter of one of his flock, a respectable farmer in
the neighbourhood, those personal attractions and amiable dispositions
which awakened his manly sympathies; and, too high-minded to stoop to
mercenary considerations, he married a second time, without hunting for
a _tocher_, as is sometimes imputed sarcastically to the Scottish
clergy. Isobel Wilson was lovely and virtuous.

About the time the American war ended, I came into this earthly part of
the universe; but nothing occurred for several years of my father's life
to diversify the peaceful enjoyments of his domestic life, or to
interrupt the conscientious and zealous discharge of his pastoral
duties. At length, however, a cloud gathered in the firmament, which
ere long burst on his head, in the wrath of his patron, the Earl of
Bellersdale.

Local, rather than general politics agitated the district in which his
humble life was cast; and there was a vehement struggle betwixt his
lordship and a neighbouring nobleman for ascendancy in the county. The
ranks of either party were swelled by the multiplication of freehold
qualifications, for the purpose of acquiring votes. One of the
expedients, as is well known, for the attainment of such objects, is the
creation of nominal and fictitious voters, by conferring on the
_friends_ of a political party an apparent, but not a real interest in a
landed estate; and this is practised and justified by a legal fiction,
and a little casuistry, with which political agents are quite familiar.
The ordinary mode in these cases, is to confer such _parchment_
franchises on dependents and personal connections of the great man who
needs their support--and the Earl of Bellersdale, who had the patronage
of many churches of greater or less value, found, even among the clergy
who had hopes of preferment from his hand, several individuals
sufficiently unscrupulous to accept of such discreditable titles to a
political franchise as freeholders.[I] Amongst others, my father, who
was in good odour at the castle, was deemed a _likely_ person to be
intrusted with so precious a privilege as a right to vote for any tool
of the earl who might be brought forward as a candidate for representing
the shire in Parliament. The factor was despatched to Bellerstown to
offer this high behest to the poor parson, whose ready compliance was
expected, _as a matter of course_. But he calmly and peremptorily
refused the proffered vote, and intimated that he held it derogatory to
the sacred nature of his office to pollute himself with such politics,
and inconsistent with every principle of honour, morality, and religion,
to take an oath, as required by law, that he was possessed of a landed
estate, while, in truth, he had no earthly title to an inch of it. This
scrupulosity gave mortal offence at the castle; and the recusant parson
was doomed to ridicule as a pious fool, and to ruin. And as, in such
cases, when an offending individual is completely dependent on the
offended party, pretexts are never wanting for cloaking the lurking
purpose of mischief: these were soon and easily discovered. If the
minister of Bellerstown discoursed on integrity and truth as Christian
virtues, or on the sacredness of an oath, the earl's underlings bore the
tidings to the castle, where such doctrine was deemed high treason
against the electioneering morality; and the faithful and fearless
minister of religion having rebuked, from the pulpit, some gross and
public enormities and violations of the Sabbath by the canvassers for
the earl's candidate, within the precincts of his pastoral charge, this
was a sad and unpardonable aggravation of his rebellion. Nay, having
published a little tract on the duty of attending public worship, of
which he was the known author, this was regarded as a direct personal
insult to the lord of the manor--because his lordship was so much
engrossed with politics and his other affairs, that he had, for some
time, ceased entirely to go to church. These little incidents were
aggravated by the perfidy of the parson of the parish within which Mr.
Douglas' chapel was situated. That gentleman had formed a scheme for
transferring his residence from the ancient manse, in a remote part of
the parish, to the more populous and flourishing burgh of barony of
Bellerstown--intending to officiate himself in the chapel (receiving,
of course, the additional accommodation applicable to that cure),
and consigning the care of the souls in the parish church to the
schoolmaster--a preacher whom he satisfied with a bonus of £10 or £12
a-year. And for the accomplishment of this object, it was no difficult
thing, as matters stood, to ingratiate himself into the patron's favour,
and to accomplish his own personal objects, by whispering into the
earl's greedy ear every remark that would suit his purpose, made by Mr.
Douglas, in the most unbounded confidence of private intercourse and
seeming friendship.

  [I] This was written in 1829, before the Reform Act was dreamt
  of.--ED.

When the wrath which had accumulated in the heart of the earl was fanned
to its height, he issued his orders to the factor in the following
decree:--"Rackrent--_Us_"--(a grammatical singularity which his lordship
always used, surpassing even the royal or editorial majesty, indicated
by the first person plural)--"_Us_ is determined to root out that
rebellious fellow Douglas, and to banish him from our grounds. Rackrent,
order Spulzie, the scribe, instantly to serve the fellow with a summons
of removing from Stablebarns; and, do you hear, go to Bellerstown, lock
and nail up the chapel door, and tell the fellow that he shall never
preach there again against _us_. Tell him to go to the devil, as _us_
will not suffer rebels against our will."

This mandate was instantly obeyed. Mr. Douglas received the intimation
from Rackrent with surprise, but undismayed; and, his "courage swelling
as the danger swells," he accepted the intimation as a testimony to his
fidelity, and pitied the tyrant who had thus abused his authority. The
earl had the uncontrolled power--there was no appeal from his heartless
decree. Rackrent speedily promulgated in the burgh the purport of his
mission, and ostentatiously performed his task of shutting up the
chapel--putting the key in his pocket. Consternation, and sympathy with
their "ain guid minister and his wife and bairns," spread from house to
house; and it was not till the shadow of night afforded shelter from
observation, that even a few true friends mustered courage to venture
into the house of a proscribed man, and to cheer him with their
condolence.

Mr. Douglas had an instinctive courage, which prompted him to bear
Rackrent's message without a quiver on his countenance, save perhaps a
momentary expression of scorn on his lip, and a sparkle of indignation
in his keen blue eye. But, after the minion of power had retired, and he
felt himself alone, a cold and chilling emotion gathered round his
heart. He went immediately to the nursery, where his wife was busied in
tending and amusing her children; and having desired Grace Grant (our
attached and only servant, who never was in any other service) to look
after her matters in the kitchen, he communicated to his dear Isobel,
that she and her little ones were thrown destitute. I was too young
(being only four or five years of age at the time) to understand the
import of what he said. But my mother and the elder children knew it
well; and I need not describe the scene. The tears which a brave man
sheds are only those of tenderness and affection--but these are, indeed,
tears of bitterness. Such scenes of love and agony are too sacred to
be disclosed to an unfeeling world; and all I remember of the one now
alluded to, was, that my heart was like to break when I saw those around
me embracing and embraced, in tears and in silence, save the sounds of
sobs which burst from every bosom.

It was a day of sorrow. Even the youngsters forgot, for a time, that
they required their wonted frugal dinner; and it was not until twilight
succeeded the last blaze of the setting sun, that Grace Grant called
her mistress from the nursery (having heard from a neighbour the
adversity which had befallen), to remind her that tea was ready. My
mother was now much composed, and invited the minister to go to the
parlour. It was a silent procession. My eldest brother carried me in
his arms; and my father led his wife in one hand, while he bore their
younger babe on his other arm. On reaching the parlour, we found tea
prepared by the careful hands of Grace Grant; but, before sitting down
to partake of that comforting refreshment, the minister proposed to
offer up a prayer of resignation to the will of God, and of hope and
trust in his providence.

    "Then kneeling down to Heaven's eternal King,
       The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
     Hope 'springs exulting on triumphant wing,'
       That thus they all shall meet in future days;
     There, ever bask in uncreated rays,
       No more to sigh or shed the bitter tear;
     Together hymning their Creator's praise--
       In such society yet still more dear,
     While circling time moves round in an eternal sphere."

These devout aspirations being ended, an air of calm composure reigned
around my "Father's Fireside." He seated himself in his arm-chair, while
my mother busied herself in preparing tea, and each little one took his
appointed place around the oval wainscot table. The turf fire burned
cheerily on the hearth. The tea-kettle gave out its hissing sounds,
indicative of comfort; and the solitary candle diffused light on the
fair young faces which brightened as the oat-cake and the "buttered
pieces" began to disappear. But the minister's wonted playfulness was
gone; and the decent silence of a Sabbath afternoon was observed even by
the younger boys.

The visits of their friends were a solace in the first hour of their
unlooked-for adversity. But, after their retirement the vague,
undefined, and gloomy shadows which rose to the contemplation of my
parents, with respect to their future prospects, yielded only a troubled
and unutterable anxiety. Repining and supineness, however, were not
suited to my father's character; for, with mildness, he united decision
and even boldness of spirit. He had, for several years previous to this
explosion of lordly despotism in the patron of his chapel, corresponded
with some of his college friends in the new Republic of America; and
had been encouraged by them, and through them, by one of the most
distinguished of the American patriots, to leave his meagre benefice and
cross the Atlantic. These invitations he had declined; being warmly
attached to his flock, to the Established Church of Scotland, to his
friends at home, and to his country. In his altered circumstances,
however--severed as he was by an arbitrary act over which there was no
moral or legal control, cast destitute from the altar at which he had
ministered with usefulness and acceptance, and having no claims to
immediate patronage in the church--he resolved, with a heavy heart, to
betake himself to that field of exertion in a foreign land to which he
had been so courteously invited. Having adopted this resolution, he
did not waste time in idle whining, but prepared to encounter all the
inconveniences and perils of a long voyage across the deep; aggravated,
unspeakably, by the accompaniments of a wife and six young children, and
hampered by the scanty means which remained to him amidst this wreck of
his hopes of happiness at home.

But before his final departure from the cold and rocky shore of Scotland
for ever, he wished to take a public leave of his flock. His own chapel
had been shut up; but a reverend friend, in a closely adjoining burgh,
acceded at once to his request, that he might have the use of his pulpit
on the Sunday after the act of ejection which I have already mentioned.
The villagers of Bellerstown were speedily apprised of their minister's
intention; and they and many others attended to hear his farewell
sermon. The church was crowded with an affectionate and even somewhat
exasperated multitude, and the service of the day was characterised by a
more than usual solemnity. All the energy of the preacher's spirit was
called up to sustain him on so trying an occasion; and the unaffected,
earnest, and native eloquence of his pulpit appearances, were heightened
by the emotions which struggled within his bosom.

His brief but christianlike and dignified address, in which the
tremulous voice of deep emotion was occasionally mingled with the manly
tones of bolder elocution, was listened to in silence deep as death; and
when he descended from the pulpit, Mr. Douglas was surrounded by a
throng of elders, and young men, and humble matrons, who were eager to
manifest their heartfelt reverence for their beloved pastor.

It were tedious and profitless to detail all the painful circumstances
which intervened betwixt the time now referred to and that of the
minister's embarkation. He experienced, on the one hand, all the
petty vexations which the earl's sycophants could devise for his
annoyance--and, on the other, much of that comfort which springs from
spontaneous tokens of disinterested goodwill and of gratitude, even from
the poor and humble; but the _mens conscia sibi recti_ enabled him to
bear the former with composure, and the latter without vain presumption.

The day of departure at length arrived--and, young as I was, I still
remember as well as yesterday some of the circumstances. The family
proceeded from the only home I had ever known, towards the harbour,
accompanied by some of the most respectable inhabitants of the village.

After passing by the chapel, which stood conspicuously on a rising
ground, the party descended a steep road--like a patriarch of old going
on a pilgrimage through the world, with his children around him--to the
quay at which the vessel that was to bear us away was moored. The sea
beach and quays were crowded. The entire population of the burgh seemed
assembled. There were no shouts; but uncovered heads, and outstretched
hands, and old visages glistening with tears of kindness, spoke a
language more eloquent than words can utter. I was carried with my
mother on board the ship. The sails were unfurled, while we were grouped
on the quarter-deck. Most of the family went into the cabin; but my
father sat on a coil of ropes, and I stood between his knees, encircled
by his arm, and looking up in his face, which was occasionally convulsed
with marks of strong but suppressed feeling. The vessel bounded over the
waves of the German Ocean. My father spake not. His eye was still bent
on the rocky cliffs (near which stood his church and dwelling of peace),
after it could not discern the people that clustered on their summits.
He wrapped me in his cloak, and held me to his bosom; and, for the first
time, I felt a sad consciousness that I was without a home in the world.

My first voyage in life was a rough one. The "Good Intent" of
Bellerstown, in which my father and his family had embarked, as already
stated, was a coasting trader, and was bound on this occasion for Leith,
whence the patriarch of this intended emigration, and his partner, and
little ones, were meant to be transferred to Greenock, as the port of
final embarkation for the United States. To those who have had occasion
to sojourn in such bottoms as the "Good Intent," ere yet the Berwick
smacks and other vessels of a superior class had been established in the
coasting trade of Scotland, it is needless to offer any description of
such a vehicle for the conveyance of human beings--and those who have
never experienced such a transit, can form no adequate conception of the
misery which it exhibits. Let them, however, imagine a small and dirty
cabin, into which no one is admitted save by the companion-door and a
small sky-light that cannot be opened in rough weather--let them
imagine, if they can, the "villanous compound of smells," produced by
confined air, the flavour of bilge water, agitated in the hold of the
ship, and diffused through every creaking crevice, and pitch, and
effluvia of rancid salt meat and broth, and the products of universal
sea-sickness, altogether inevitable in such circumstances--let them
figure such a confined hole filled with human beings, crammed into
smaller holes all around, called beds, or laid on shakedowns upon the
floor, or stretched upon the lockers, in that state of despondency which
overwhelming sickness induces;--and they have a picture of the Good
Intent's cabin and _state-room_ during the voyage to which I refer. Nor
was this all. The weather was boisterous, being the vernal equinox; the
winds cross and tempestuous; and the waves of the sea so tremendous that
the little vessel sunk, and rose, and rolled, as if each succeeding
shock were the last ere she sank for ever into the roaring abyss; while
each convulsion of the bark called forth involuntary moans and shrieks
of distress, which were heard commingled with the whistling of the
tempest, and the dash of the waves, that ever and anon burst on and
swept over the deck. And thus, for the space of fourteen days went the
Good Intent and her inmates, tossed to and fro on the German Ocean, with
no comfort to mitigate the extreme of such unwonted sufferings, save the
rough but hearty kindness of the skipper and crew, when their cares on
deck left them a moment to go below, and offer any attention in their
power. I have made many rough voyages since the time alluded to; but
this one dwells on my memory like the visions in a wild and troubled
dream, surpassing all I have since weathered in intensity of horror and
dismay.

At length, the expected haven came in sight; and we entered it--safe but
sad enough, the Good Intent entered the Water of Leith at morning tide,
and my childish wonderment was strangely excited by what seemed to my
inexperienced eye a forest of masts and "leviathans afloat," as we were
towed through among the vessels in harbour, until, amidst bawling and
swearing on board and ashore, the Good Intent got a berth at the
Coalhill of Leith. The emigrant party were all speedily taken on shore,
and conveyed to a small inn, where soap and water, and clean clothes,
and breakfast, revived, in no inconsiderable degree, the spirits of the
whole party, after the exhaustion of such a voyage: and the youngsters,
especially, were very speedily interested in the rude bustle which the
shore of Leith usually exhibits.

Leaving the little colony at Mrs. Monro's ship tavern, on the Coalhill,
my father proceeded to the dwelling of his cousin, Mr. Pearson, who
resided in one of the western suburbs of Edinburgh (where he and his
were expected), in order to announce the advent to a temporary home. It
was after noon ere he returned with his cousin to conduct the rest of
the family; and the whole party proceeded on foot up Leith Walk, and
through a part of Edinburgh, towards Mr. Pearson's hospitable abode,
astonished and bewildered in a scene so new. There we all received a
warm welcome from the good old man and his daughters, and experienced
every attention and kindness which good hearts and the ties of kindred
could suggest.

Before proceeding to Greenock, to make the necessary arrangements for
the final emigration, Mr. Douglas, while his family were refreshing with
their relatives for a longer voyage than they had already encountered,
paid a visit to an old friend, a clergyman in the country, in whose
parish was situated the noble mansion of Earl H----. The countess of
H---- was a relative of Lady B----, to whom Mr. Douglas had long been
known as an exemplary clergyman, and who, in the day of his adversity
and unmerited persecution, had taken a lively interest in his fate.
Amongst other acts of kindness, she had not only given him an
introductory letter to the countess of H----, but had written
previously, recommending him earnestly to her good offices with the earl
(who was, in all respects, a complete contrast to Lord Bellersdale), and
soliciting some one of the numerous benefices in the church of which the
earl was patron, when a vacancy might occur. Mr. Douglas visited his
friend before delivering his introduction at the great house, and
preached on the Sabbath which intervened during his stay: and the
services of the day having been conducted with that simple and unfeigned
devoutness which lends its highest power to pulpit eloquence, the noble
family, who regularly attended on religious ordinances in their parish
church, were much affected and gratified with the ministration of the
stranger on this occasion; and this effect was not marred to "ears
polite," even by the slight "accents of the northern tongue." Next
morning, the pastor of the parish received an invitation to dine at
H---- House that day, and was requested to bring along with him the
friend who had officiated for him on the preceding Sunday. The
invitation was, of course, accepted; and, on being introduced to the
earl and countess of H----, and his name being announced, Lady H----
inquired if he were of the north country, when he took the opportunity
of delivering Lady B.'s introductory letter, which showed that Mr.
Douglas was the same person of whom Lady B. had previously written. His
reception by both the noble personages of the mansion was more than
polite; it was kind in the highest degree, and every way worthy of a
generous and high-minded race, whose good qualities have, in various
periods of our history, given lustre to the nobility of Scotland. The
day was spent with mutual satisfaction; and the earl, before parting,
gave Mr. Douglas a cordial shake by the hand, and assured him that the
first benefice that should fall in his gift, should be conferred on
him. Thus they parted; but Mr. Douglas returned to Mr. Pearson's, with
the unaltered purpose of pursuing his voyage to America--the hopes
inspired by the earl's spontaneous promise being too faint and remote,
in their possible accomplishment, to induce procrastination in his
proceedings. The love of his native country yearned in his bosom, and
all the perils and privations to which his little fireside-flock might
be exposed, passed through his thoughts as he drove along the southern
shore of the Forth, on his return; but he could see no immediate
alternative, save to go onward in the path which he had previously
chalked out for himself in his present circumstances.

Accordingly, after a few days' repose, he set out to Greenock, to make
arrangements for the passage to New York of himself and family. He
applied to an eminent merchant there on the subject, in whose service,
as a clerk, a favourite brother had lived and died. From that gentleman
he received every courtesy and counsel suited to the occasion, and was
offered the passage contemplated gratuitously. He had spent a day or two
only in Greenock, making preparations for the voyage, when, having gone
into the vessel in which he was destined to embark, to hold some
necessary consultation with the master, a packet was brought to him
which had been forwarded by Mr. Pearson to the care of Mr. B. the
merchant. On unsealing it, Mr. Douglas found inclosed a presentation
in his favour, by the Earl of H., to a living in one of the southern
counties of Scotland!

It were idle in any one who has never experienced a sudden and
unexpected transition in the endless vicissitudes of human life--from a
position encompassed with doubts and darkness, into scenes and prospects
of brighter omen--to attempt any delineation of Mr. Douglas' emotions on
this occasion; for, who can express in language the throb of gratitude
to benefactors, which, in such circumstances, swells the heart beyond
the power of utterance?--or who can convey any adequate notion of the
devout and silent thankfulness which exalts the soul of a good man,
when he sees and feels, in such an event, the manifestation of that
overruling Providence which it is his habitual principle to acknowledge
and adore?

The American expedition was now abandoned, and Mr. Douglas returned from
Greenock to Edinburgh, with all the despatch which the _Flies_ of those
days rendered practicable. The tidings were soon told, not with proud
exultation, but with the chastened gladness which these were calculated
to impress on his own spirit and all around him; and, instead of packing
up for Greenock, and preparing for crossing the wide Atlantic, nothing
was now talked of in Pearson's kind circle but _plenishing_ for the
manse.

The day of departure at length arrived, ere yet the young folks had
recovered from the astonishment which everything in the northern
metropolis presented to them as wonders, and before they had become
familiar with the splendours of long rows of lamps, and dazzling
scattered lights over the dusky horizon of the "Auld Toun" in an
evening. One of the most startling of these marvels, I well remember,
was the Cowgate, with its rows of lamps extending beneath the South
Bridge, and seen through the iron balustrades! This was perfect
enchantment to some of us; and I don't believe I have ever seen any
scene of artificial magnificence, since I first looked down on the
Cowgate, that made so strong an impression on me, as a specimen of city
grandeur!

The vehicle for our conveyance was not, as in these latter days, a
dashing stage-coach and four--for there was nothing of the kind on the
public roads of Scotland fifty years ago--but a caravan or wagon, having
a sort of rail round three sides of it, and covered overhead with a
canvas cloth on strong hoops, with an aperture behind to let in the
travellers, and the fresh air, and the light. Under this primitive
pavilion sat ensconced the parson and spouse on trusses of straw, and
with blankets to keep warmth, if necessary--the bairns being all packed
in and about them, according to their dimensions; and in this fashion on
jogged the cavalcade, consisting of the caravan, and another long cart
with furniture. Two or three days were required for the journey--the
carriers stopping each night at convenient distances in country inns for
the "entertainment of men and horses," where slight and rough
accommodation only was to be had.

At length, on the third day, the caravansary reached the promised
land--not like that in the Orient, flowing with milk and honey, and
glowing in all the richness of natural beauty; but a long straggling
village of heath-thatched cottages, with about half-a-dozen slated
houses, including the kirk; and, though placed in a valley, on the banks
of a rivulet, yet surrounded on all sides for many miles with the
wildest moorlands in one of the most elevated situations inhabited in
Scotland by human beings. But, what of all this? It afforded a _home_ in
our native land--and we soon learnt by experience that its inhabitants
were among the most kind-hearted and intelligent of the sons of
Caledonia.

The humble parsonage of Muirden was but a chapel of ease, yielding an
income under one hundred pounds per annum. Yet, with this limited
benefice, the Rev. William Douglas was enabled, by the frugal
housewifery of the mistress, to maintain a decent, and, in his sphere,
even a hospitable household, and to discharge the petty obligations to
friends which he had incurred while "out of bread," and preparing to
cross the deep to a foreign land. Until this last, and, in his
estimation, sacred duty was accomplished, the strictest economy was
observed. The "muckle wheel" and the "little wheel" were heard humming
incessantly in the kitchen; and the bairns were clad in the good
home-made cloths of the domicile; while they were early taught
practically that plain and wholesome, though humble fare at the board,
was all that they ought to desire, and that luxuries and delicacies,
such as load "the rich man's table," were truly a matter of small
moment, and utterly despicable when compared with those luxuries of the
mind, and that superiority of character, which are derived from moral
and intellectual culture. These latter, accordingly, were day by day
pressed on their attention as the proper business of their early
life--and all were habituated to regular and constant attention to
their "lessons," at home as well as in school.

Nor was this remote parsonage destitute of some strong and interesting
attractions to a generous mind. Muirden was situated in a region which
is consecrated by many events and traditions of "the persecuted times."
There are hill-sides and moss-hags in its vicinity, still known to the
peasant as the places of worship and of refuge to the Covenanters in
days of peril and alarm; and some of Scotland's martyrs were immolated
at the doors of their own huts, the foundation of which may still be
traced, overgrown with the green turf or the heather-bell. To a Scottish
pastor such scenes are classic, grand even in a higher sense than those
of Marathon or Thermopylæ--for it was the immutable and holy spirit
which was there kindled, and formed into a flame, that finally won for
Scotland not only the blessings of civil liberty, but the triumphs of
religious truth.

It was an inspiriting task to serve at the altar among a people who,
though humble, cherished with fondness the memory of their godly
forefathers; and was, indeed, a labour of love, in which the teacher and
the taught found mutual comfort and advantage. Nor were the exercises
of the pulpit the only parts of pastoral duty to which Mr. Douglas
directed his attention and his heart. He visited and soon became
acquainted with all his flock--not formally and pompously, but frankly
and in unaffected kindness; and ere long became the friend and trusted
counsellor of his parishioners, not merely in spiritual, but in their
temporal concerns. And, as a proof of the impression which such a truly
evangelical course of conduct made among his people, I may state that,
within these few years, after the lapse of nearly fifty, I had a call
from a respectable old man, who, having heard I was in Edinburgh, had
found me out, and announced himself to be Mr. ----, who had taught
me the alphabet, and first guided my hand to wield the pen which now
records this incident. I have rarely met with an occurrence more
gratifying to my feelings, than when the old gentleman (for he was a
gentleman in the best sense of the term, though a country schoolmaster)
told me that years had not effaced from his heart and his memory the
kindly affection which he bore to my father and all his children, who
were the objects of his careful tuition, and that he had sought and
found me to give utterance to that feeling. I need not say he got a warm
welcome. He had then retired from the laborious duties of his office,
with a moderate competency, and in a green old age. He has since paid
the debt of nature. Peace to his ashes! It would be well if our
parochial clergy would thus cultivate, not the vulgar arts of wordly
popularity, but, by acts of real kindness, the confidence and the
respect of their flocks. It is thus that the human heart is to be won;
and it is thus that a Christian pastor most effectually

    "Allures to brighter realms, and leads the way."

There was a peculiarity in the village of Muirden which I must not omit
to notice. It was, perhaps, the first locality in Scotland, so entirely
rural, that had a library established in it. I do not know precisely
the history of that institution; but its supporters were the general
community of the place, who were, in different grades, employed chiefly
in the working of some mines in the vicinity, who devoted a small
portion of their wages, periodically, for the purchase of books for the
library. The fruits of this establishment were visible in the decent and
orderly habits, and in the superior information of the whole population;
presenting a moral picture exactly the reverse of that which too often
characterises the now liberated _ascripti glebæ_ who are usually engaged
in such occupations, and who are proverbially the most barbarous and
ignorant class of the community of Scotland--thus furnishing an example,
which is now become pretty general, of supplying an interesting and
improving employment of the hours of relaxation from labour, instead of
misspending the precious intervals at the alehouse or other houses of
debauchery.

The village of Muirden, too, had the advantage of a resident country
gentleman in its immediate neighbourhood--Mr. Sterling. Such an
auxiliary to the clergyman and schoolmaster in a rural district, is
generally of unspeakable advantage to the moral condition of the
locality, more especially when, as in this instance, he was a man
everyway worthy of his rank and position in society. He possessed an
estate of his own in one of the most beautiful provinces in Scotland;
but, being a man distinguished in science, he had a general supervision
of the works to which I have alluded; and, being thus clothed with
authority, as well as a magistrate in the county, he was ever ready to
co-operate in every measure which was beneficial, and in the repression
of whatever was pernicious, in this little colony. The society and
friendly intercourse which naturally arose betwixt such a country
gentleman and the pastor, formed no slight addition to the enjoyments of
the latter, in a sphere shut out by its position from much personal
intercourse with well-educated men; and, in short, amid mountain and
moor all around, Muirden presented one of the most pleasing pictures
that this country affords of a rural parsonage.

Mr. Douglas' zealous and faithful discharge of his pastoral duties
did not remain unknown to his noble patron. From the time, indeed,
of his induction at Muirden, the moral movements of that hamlet were
occasionally reported by its guardian, Mr. Sterling, to the family that
was interested in its prosperity; and the unremitting but unobtrusive
ministrations of the village pastor were not of course overlooked. These
were duly appreciated; and, after the lapse of only two or three years,
the Earl of H---- spontaneously, and without any previous communication,
presented Mr. Douglas to the benefice of Eccleshall, which had fallen
vacant by the demise of its minister. This change had the double
advantage of being on the regular establishment of the church, beyond
the risk of any such casualty as had formerly befallen the presentee,
and of having a stipend nearly double the salary at Muirden--a
consideration of no slight moment to a man with a family, however
moderate in his views with regard to temporalities; and it possessed the
further superiority over Muirden, that it was situated on the southern
shore of the Firth of Forth, in a district of country highly cultivated,
and within a few hours' ride of the metropolis. It had the charm of the
most perfect seclusion from the great and bustling world--the church and
manse being situated in a sheltered valley, embosomed amidst a cluster
of ancient trees, which probably were planted ere the Reformation dawned
in Scotland.

The tidings of this promotion, as it may be deemed, produced, in the
humble dwelling of the pastor of Muirden, that measure of gladness which
is inspired by the smiles of fortune--varying in degree among the
different members of the family according to their intelligence and
their years. To the heads of it, the promised improvement in their
condition afforded the calm, yet exquisite satisfaction which the
prospect of a competence for their little ones, and the means of
educating and preparing them to act their part in life, naturally
awakens; and in the younger members of it, the reported beauties of the
new parish, and the approach of a new journey, excited that joyousness
and vivacity of hope which even invests what is unknown with the
attribute of magnificence.

After a little while devoted to necessary arrangements--after many
visits paid to all the dwellings of the humble flock of Muirden--after
the interchange of kindly hospitalities among the superior classes of
his neighbours--and after a public and affectionate farewell to all--Mr.
Douglas once more set out with his family on this, his last migration;
and, with the aid of caravan and cart, the family party went on their
way from Muirden to Edinburgh, retracing thus far their steps, on their
journey to Eccleshall; and, in a few days, they were set down in the
court before the manse of Eccleshall, over which two stately lime trees
formed a cooling shade from the fervours of a summer sun.

Whether the reality corresponded with the several anticipations of the
new comers or not, I will not pretend to affirm; but the arrival had
scarcely been accomplished, ere every room and recess of the manse was
explored, and the neat and beautiful gardens were traversed, and the
glebe surveyed, and the "bonny burnside" visited, and the water
laved from its channel. It was, in truth, a new world to its young
visitants--and appeared, in the superior house accommodation and
rural amenity around, a terrestrial paradise, contrasted with the
circumscribed dwelling on the rocky shore of the German Ocean in the
north, or in the hamlet of Muirden amid the wilderness on the southern
border of Scotland. The sensations and sympathies of that day, and of
seven years which followed it, are yet fresh in my recollection, and
still swell in my heart, as marking the brightest and the happiest
period of my existence. Everything connected with that season of my
life, is still invested in my memory with charms which I have never
since tasted; and my young imagination clothed the vale of Eccleshall
with a brighter verdure and gayer flowers than ever to me bloomed
elsewhere on earth; and the heaven glowed in more resplendent sunshine
than has ever since poured its golden radiance on my vision--for it was
the sunshine of the young spirit still unclouded by a speck on its moral
horizon, and undimmed by a tear of real suffering and sorrow. Are such
youthful enchantments realities in the condition of man? or are they
visions of fancy, which are kindled by a gracious dispensation of
Providence, as a solace to the heart in riper years, when the cares, and
toils, and anxieties of manhood are strewed thick in our path, and frown
heavily in clouds over every stage of our progress?

In a few days after the house was put in order, the induction of Mr.
Douglas took place; and, although not so impressive as a Presbyterian
ordination, it was to all, his own family at least, an interesting
scene. A numerous assemblage of the parishioners and the reverend
brethren was convened; and the arrival of the latter, successively or in
groups--their friendly greetings in the parlour, their progress to the
church, and their solemn devoir during the service of the day--bore a
character of dignity and impressiveness which does not now generally
belong to such ceremonials. It may, perhaps, be unphilosophical, and not
in accordance with more modern sentiment, to ascribe any efficacy to
mere externals of costume. But it is a principle deeply implanted in
human nature, and not to be stifled by any cold reasoning in the matter,
that external decorum and suitable habiliments in any of the solemnities
of religion and the administration of justice, have a powerful effect
on the great mass of mankind, which it is not wise to cast aside or
contemn.

It were an easy, and would be a pleasant task, to paint some of the
scenes and characters which presented themselves to my observation even
at that early period of life; but it would be foreign to the object I
had in view, and would swell this humble narrative beyond the limits
assigned to it. That object was merely to delineate some of the features
in the character of a faithful Scottish clergyman, and to exhibit some
of the "lights and shadows" which cheer or cloud his existence, like
that of other men. I have traced his progress through various
alternations of adversity and prosperity, and have placed him in
circumstances such as usually fill up the measure of a Christian's
ambition--a position of usefulness to those within the sphere of his
influence, and of comfort in his temporal condition. During the space of
seven years, it was the lot of the individual who, in real life, was the
prototype of our story, to enjoy health, and strength, and domestic
felicity, and to discharge his duties with zeal and advantage in the
parish of Eccleshall; but, returning home after nightfall, from
attending a meeting of synod in Edinburgh, he caught a severe cold in
riding during a stormy night, which affected his lungs; and, ere long,
his indisposition assumed all the symptoms of pulmonary consumption.

Our tale of humble life now draws to a close. In the course of a few
months, the indisposition of Mr. Douglas assumed all the symptoms of
a settled consumption, which continued to present to his family and
friends the alternations of hope and of fear, that are the unfailing
companions of that subtle visitation. A sea voyage, native air, and all
other expedients suggested by skill or affection, were tried in vain;
and, in the fiftieth year of his age, the minister of Eccleshall
returned to the bosom of his family, with a full anticipation that the
distemper under which he lingered would, ere long, prove fatal. His
eyes sparkled with more than wonted lustre--his benevolent and
intelligent countenance glowed with the delicate hectic flush which so
often marks the progress of consumption--and the healthy, but not robust
frame of its victim, became emaciated and feeble. The fall of the year
179-, brought the chilling blasts of November to quench the flickering
spark of life in his bosom.

I was despatched one cold morning on the pony for Mr. Blythe, a
neighbouring clergyman and friend, to pay my father a visit. We rode
together from his manse to Eccleshall; and, on his arrival, he remained
alone with my father, engaged in those hallowed communings betwixt a
dying man and his spiritual comforter which it is unseemly and
sacrilegious in any case to disclose to mortal eyes. After a
considerable space thus spent, the whole family, including the servants,
were, by my father's directions, summoned to the side of his couch, in
the Red Room, where he reposed. When all were assembled, he intimated,
with composure and resignation, that he was conscious of the near
approach of death, and addressed a few sentences of admonition and
affection to them all; and, having done so, he requested Mr. Blythe to
unite with his household in prayer and praise--requesting that the last
hymn in the beautiful collection of sacred lyrics attached to our
national psalmody, might be sung. My father's pulpit psalm-book was
brought to Mr. Blythe. It is now before me, and I transcribe, from its
page, with a vivid recollection of the scene now referred to, one of the
solemn stanzas of that touching anthem:--

    "The hour of my departure's come,
     I hear the voice that calls me home;
     At last, O Lord! let troubles cease,
     And let thy servant die in peace!"

Mr. Blythe breathed, rather than sung the hymn, in the notes of
Luther's hundredth psalm; and he did it with the accompaniment of
tremulous and broken accents from all around the couch. The tears of
unutterable sorrow were shed by all, save my mother, whose grief could
not find a vent in tears. The voice of psalms was quenched amid the sobs
which burst from every heart; and, during the singing of the last
portion of it, the pious man who guided these orisons, sympathized so
deeply in the passion of lamentation which encompassed him, that his
accents were scarcely audible. The overpowering scene was closed by a
brief and pathetic prayer to the Most High, that to His dying servant he
would "stretch out His everlasting arms," and "to the friendless prove a
friend."

A few hours more, and the scene of life had passed away from the mortal
vision of William Douglas. I saw him die. It was the first deathbed I
had ever seen. There are many occurrences in life which fill the mind
with awe; but I have never been conscious of any emotion so profound and
solemn as that which possessed me during the last day of my father's
life. I witnessed the expiring flame in those dread moments when time is
blent with eternity, and when the last sigh seems to waft the immortal
spirit into a state of existence of which no adequate conception can be
formed. After all was over, and the breath of life had fled, I could not
believe my senses, that the prop of my affections was gone from my love
and my embrace, and that all which remained on earth of my father,
protector, and gentle monitor, was a lifeless wreck on the shore of
time. The world appeared to my young eye and heart as a wide scene of
mere darkness and desolation.

I will not dwell on subsequent events. The funeral obsequies performed,
the family councils were of a melancholy description. As to worldly
matters, it was ascertained that there was very little debt--not more
than could be fully paid by the current stipend and other limited
means; but, beyond this, all was a dreary blank. The only means of
subsistence to which my widowed mother could look with certainty, was
her small annuity of £25 a-year; while one only of the family (the
eldest boy, who had been educated as a surgeon, and had got an
appointment in the East India Company's service) could do ought to eke
out the means of life for the family. In the depth of her affliction,
she would say, with pious confidence, in the language of scripture, "I
have never seen the righteous man forsaken, or his seed begging their
bread."

But, leaving these painful retrospects, it may not be inappropriate to
note briefly the career of the earl of Bellersdale, whom I had occasion
to advert to in the earlier part of this story. He survived my father
many years, and spent his life devoid of domestic happiness or public
respect, in the accumulation of wealth and the pursuits of sordid
ambition. He lived detested and despised of mankind; and, dying
unlamented by any one human being, he destined the vast treasures which
he had amassed, to constant accumulation, not to be enjoyed fully by his
heirs, but for the creation of a princedom of indefinite extent and
wealth. But the honours of the Bellersdale family were speedily
tarnished. A spendthrift successor squandered all the revenues which he
could touch; and the last time I visited that part of the country, the
splendid mansion of Bellersdale Castle was stripped of all its movables;
the collections of many years of aristocratic pride--the pictures, the
statues, the very board destined for baronial hospitality--were all
brought to the hammer for payment of a tailor's bill for gewgaws to
grace a court pageant; and the nominal inheritor of the wide domains and
honours of his lordship's house, is an obscure and useless, though
good-natured dependent upon Hebrew usurers and Gentile pettifoggers--a
mere cumberer of the ground--a sycophant of the vulgar!

I need not point the moral of my tale.



THE SEERS' CAVE.

    "The desert gave him visions wild--
     The midnight wind came wild and dread,
     Swell'd with the voices of the dead;
     Far on the future battle-heath
     His eye beheld the ranks of death:
     Thus the lone seer, from mankind hurl'd,
     Shap'd forth a disembodied world."
                                       SCOTT.


In a certain wild and romantic glen in the Highlands of Scotland, there
is a cave opening beneath the brow of a huge overhanging cliff, and half
concealed by wreathed roots and wild festoons of brier and woodbine.
Several indistinct traditions remain of this cave's having been, in
former days, the abode of more than one holy hermit and gifted
seer. From these it derived the name which it commonly received,
Coir-nan-Taischatrin, or, The Cave of the Seers. At a little distance
within the glen, upon its sunny side, stood Castle Feracht. The
elevation on which it was built, gave it a prospect of the whole glen,
without detaching it from the hills and woods around; and a space had
been cleared of trees, so that, though completely surrounded, their
leafy screen only curtained, not obscured it.

Castle Feracht had long been the residence of a powerful branch of the
Macphersons. In that far retirement repeated generations of that daring
family had grown up and rushed forth, like young eagles from their
mountain-eyrie, to the field of strife; and not unfrequently never to
return. Such had been the fate of Angus Macpherson, in consequence of an
accidental encounter with the Gordons, between whom and the Macphersons
there had long subsisted a deadly feud. The death of his father had the
effect of fixing upon the mind of his son Ewan Macpherson a feeling of
stern and deadly resentment against all who had ever been the foes of
his turbulent clan. The stripling seemed to fret at the slow pace of
time, and to long for those years in which his arm might have sufficient
force to wield his father's broadsword, that he might rush to vengeance.
Such had often been his secret thoughts, when he at length reached a
period of life which made him able to put the suggestions of his
vindictive mind into execution; but a strong and arousing spirit, to
which we need not farther allude, passed over the land, and he forgot
for a time his personal animosities, in feelings and purposes of a more
general and absorbing nature. The powerful sympathy of thousands,
lending all their united energies towards one point, and laying aside
their individual pursuits, in order to contribute to the advancement of
that all-engrossing aim, laid its influence upon his soul, and he joined
the company, and aided in the general plans of those whom he would have
joyed to have met in deadly combat. Those against whom his hostility had
been less violent, he had learned to meet almost on terms of friendship,
though dashed at times with looks of coldness.

Among those half-forgiven foes, was Allan Cameron, a younger son of that
family of the Camerons which stood next in hereditary dignity to the
chief. The feud between the Macphersons and Camerons had never been very
deadly, and might, perhaps, have been forgotten, had Macpherson been
less accustomed to "rake up the ashes of his fathers." Cameron, though
still a very young man, had been obliged early to mingle with the world,
and had acquired that habit of ready decision which gives its possessor
an ascendancy over almost all with whom he has any intercourse.
Notwithstanding his youth, therefore, he was of considerable influence,
and being brought repeatedly into contact with Macpherson, there was
something of a shy and distant friendship between them. Cameron soon
perceived the coldness of Macpherson; but, as his own generous and
cultivated mind was far superior to the influence of prejudices, such
as had thrown a gloom over the whole being of Macpherson, he knew not,
never dreamt, that he was an object of secret dislike to him; and, with
his usual frank kind-heartedness, exerted himself to win the favour of a
man so distinguished for personal daring as the dark-browed lord of Glen
Feracht.

During the course of the operations in which they were engaged, the
decisive resolution and activity of Cameron had repeatedly attracted the
notice of Macpherson. Several times had he said to himself, "Were he not
a Cameron, he would be a gallant fellow!" At length, one day Macpherson
was severely wounded, and rescued from immediate death by the fearless
intrepidity and fiery promptness of Cameron. Macpherson's stern
sullenness was subdued. Ere yet recovered from his wounds, he clasped
Cameron's hand in token of cordial friendship; and so far laid aside his
distant coldness, as to invite Allan Cameron to accompany him to Glen
Feracht, when their present enterprise should have come to a
termination.

That termination came sooner than had been expected; and Cameron found
it not only convenient but prudent to accompany his fellow soldier to
the secret retreat of Castle Feracht. Cameron, an ardent admirer of
nature's beauties, yielded all his soul to the emotions inspired by the
wild and rugged entrance to Glen Feracht; nor could he suppress repeated
exclamations of delight when all the softer beauties of the quiet glen
opened upon his sight. Macpherson observed his admiration, and paced
over the daisied sward of his own valley with a more lofty step. Nor was
there less proud satisfaction in his heart and eye as he conducted his
guest to the hall of his fathers, and presented to him his only sister,
bidding her, at the same time, know in Allan Cameron the preserver of
her brother's life.

Elizabeth Macpherson rose and stepped blushing forward to receive her
young and gallant guest. She was just on the verge of womanhood--that
most fascinating period, when the tender and deep sensibilities of the
woman begin to give a timid dignity to the liveliness of the girl. The
open and rather ardent expression of her happy countenance was sweetly
repressed and tempered by the pure veil of maidenly modesty; yet her
graceful and commanding stature, the fire of her bright blue eye, and
her free and stately step and gesture, told that the spirit of her
fathers dwelt strong in the bosom of their lovely daughter. The heart of
Allan Cameron bounded and fluttered in his breast, as he advanced to
salute this beautiful mountain-nymph. He had braved, undaunted, the brow
of man when darkened with the frown of deadly hostility, but he shrank
with a new and undefinable tremor before the blushing smile of a
youthful maiden's cheek and eye. His self-possession seemed for once to
have forsaken him; and had Macpherson been acquainted with the human
heart, he must have seen that a new and irresistible feeling was rapidly
taking possession of his generous preserver's bosom. He saw in it,
however, but the awkwardness of a first interview between two strangers
of different sexes; and, in order to relieve Cameron, led him away to
see all the beautiful and romantic scenery of the glen, particularly
Coir-nan-Taischatrin.

But it was not long ere the graceful person and fascinating manners of
Cameron made an impression upon the artless and warm-hearted maiden. At
first, her brother's intimate friend, the preserver of his life, had, in
her view, just claims to her attention and grateful kindness; but she
soon felt that she esteemed, not to say loved him for himself. The
preserver of her brother would at all times have been dear to her; but
Allan Cameron woke in her heart a feeling inexpressibly more deep, more
tender, more intense.

Art had little influence in directing the conduct of the youthful
lovers; and it was not long till they experienced all that heaven of
delight which arises in the heart upon being assured of the mutual
return of affection. They had, however, kept their love hid from Ewan
Macpherson; both because his dark and gloomy manner forbade all
approaches to familiar confidence, and because, from the peculiar nature
of love, mystery and concealment are necessary to give it its highest
zest. Whatever might be the cause, certain it was that Allan Cameron and
Elizabeth Macpherson planned the little excursions, which they now
frequently made together, in such a manner that they might, as much as
possible, avoid being seen by Ewan.

At length, however, the suspicions of the proud chieftain were
aroused. It had never entered into his mind that Cameron might, by any
possibility, raise his presumptuous hopes so high as to dream of loving
the sister of Ewan Macpherson; and no sooner did he suspect the truth,
than he dashed from his mind every friendly and grateful feeling towards
the man who had saved his life; and saw in Allan Cameron only the
hereditary foe of his clan, whose daring insolence had attempted to
disgrace the name of Macpherson, by seeking to win the heart of its most
loftily descended maiden. Full of resentment at what he deemed so deep
an insult, he was ranging the groves and thickets of Glen Feracht in
quest of Cameron, like a wolf prowling for his unconscious victim.

The evening sun was at that time throwing his long lines of slanting
glory across the summits of the mountains, and lighting the clouds of
the west with a radiance too dazzling to be gazed upon, yet too
magnificent to permit the eye and the excited soul to wander for a
moment from the contemplation of its celestial splendour. Upon a gentle
eminence, whence the castle and the greater part of the glen might be
distinctly viewed, stood the lovers. They gazed with silent delight on
the beauty and magnificence of the scene around them; yet, amidst their
engrossing raptures, they had still enough of individual feeling
remaining to be sensible of that warm palpitation of the heart, which,
in the presence of a beloved object, so greatly enhances every feeling
of delight. On a sudden, they were startled by a rustling noise in the
adjoining thicket; and immediately forth bounded Bran, Macpherson's
staghound, his master's constant attendant.

"My brother must be near," said Elizabeth, in an anxious whisper; "and
we shall be discovered. Good Heavens! what shall we do?"

"Perhaps he may not have seen us," replied Cameron: "you can hasten to
the castle, and I shall attempt to detain him here till you shall have
reached it."

She gave no answer; but, casting around a glance of great alarm, and
fixing one tender, anxious look for one moment upon Cameron, she
hastened away through secret but well-known paths. She did not, however,
escape the eye of Ewan Macpherson, who had thus unseasonably approached
the lovers in their retirement. At this discovery, madness swelled in
his heart and boiled along his veins; but, suppressing his passion, he
approached with haughty stateliness the spot where Cameron stood,
apparently fixed in deep and all-engrossing admiration of the glowing
beauties of earth and heaven.

"The beauties of animated nature appear to have charms in the tasteful
eyes of Allan Cameron," said Macpherson, as he advanced.

"They have," replied Cameron; "and who could stand on this lovely spot
and witness so much beauty and magnificence, without feeling a glow
of rapture pervade his whole frame, and chain him to the place in
delighted admiration! How happy ought the man to be who can call a place
of such loveliness and grandeur his own!"

"Stay! hold! Allan Cameron; let us understand each other. Does Allan
Cameron mean to say that these woods and streams of Glen Feracht, the
lofty mountains around him, the tints of the evening sky over his head,
and these alone, have stirred up his soul to this pitch of enthusiasm?
Or must Ewan Macpherson flatter himself that his sister's charms have
also had some slight influence in producing these rapturous emotions?"

Uncertain whether Macpherson was in earnest or in jest, Cameron
hesitated to answer; and continued gazing on the mountain top, bright,
and crimson, and airy, as if it terminated in an edge of flame.

"Dishonour blast the name of Macpherson, if I endure this!" exclaimed
the fierce Ewan, bursting into a tumult of fury. "Proud Cameron! dost
thou disdain to answer the chief of the Macphersons? Are we fallen so
low that a Cameron shall despise us? Speak! answer me! else I strike
thee to my foot like a base hound! Hast thou dared to mention love--even
to think of love for the sister of Macpherson?"

"And where were the mighty offence, though a Cameron should aspire so
high as to love the sister of Macpherson?"

"Where were the offence?--I tell thee, boy, he had better never have
seen the light. But I will not trifle with thee. Hast _thou_ so dared?"

"I am little used to answer such interrogations. But I would not
willingly quarrel with Ewan Macpherson. My heart must have been colder
than it is, could I have enjoyed the company of Elizabeth Macpherson
without yielding me to that influence of witching beauty which softens
and subdues the soul."

"Thou hast not said--thou dost not dare to say--thou lovest her!
Cameron, I have felt friendship for thee. Thou hast resided in the hall
of my fathers. My hand is withheld from thee. But, if thou dost not
renounce, at once and for ever, all pretensions to the love of Elizabeth
Macpherson, thou hast looked thy last on this green earth and those
glorious heavens."

"Renounce all pretensions to the love of Elizabeth Macpherson! I tell
thee, proud man, that the daughter of the highest Macpherson might think
herself honoured by an alliance with a Cameron."

"Insolent serf! unsay thy words, or maintain them with thy
sword!--Crouch, like a low-born slave as thou art, and beg Macpherson's
pardon, if thou darest not bare thy coward blade."

"Macpherson, thou didst not call me slave or coward, when, side by side,
we two stemmed the stream of battle in its wildest rage;--nor was it a
coward blade that hewed out a safe retreat for thee, when thine own arm
waxed weak and thy steps were unequal on the field of the slain."

"Thou dost well to speak of what thou knowest will prevent me from
chastising thy base treachery. 'Tis what I might have expected;--'tis
done like a cowardly Cameron!"

"But that thou hast a sister, Macpherson, that taunt had cost thee dear.
Thou knowest that thou speakest falsely."

"Falsely!--defend thee, villain, or die like a slave! The feud of our
fathers is but renewed--their spirits behold our strife!" cried
Macpherson, and, drawing his claymore, rushed upon Cameron almost before
his blade was bared for the combat.

Macpherson, transported to a pitch of frenzy, thought not of artful
skill, dreamt not of personal danger. He showered blow on blow with the
intemperate fury of a maniac; all his aim, every effort, being directed
to destroy his foe. Cameron, with less bodily strength, was possessed of
calm and dauntless courage, superior skill in the use of his weapon, and
unmatched personal activity. Unwilling to harm the brother of the object
of his affection, he only defended himself, retiring and warding off the
furious but aimless blows of Macpherson. The frowning cheek and brow of
the baffled chief waxed grimmer with disappointed hate; and, changing
his mode of attack, he swept circling round his young and agile
antagonist, endeavouring thus to throw him off his guard. Cameron,
turning dexterously on his heel, held him still at the sword's point,
and allowed him to expend his strength in desperate efforts of fierce
but ineffectual violence. During their combat, however, some of
Macpherson's _gillies_ approached the spot; and Cameron perceived them
nearing him with kindling eyes, and holding in their impatient hands the
_skean dhu_ half unsheathed. He knew that Macpherson was as honourable
as brave; and he knew that he might with perfect safety trust his life
to the honour of any highlander, under any circumstance where the
peculiar honour of his clan was not concerned. But he also knew that no
clansman would esteem any deed a crime which should preserve the life or
the reputation of his chief. There was, he saw, but one means of saving
his life. Collecting all his strength, he beat aside one of Macpherson's
furious blows, and bounding upon him as a crouching tiger springs upon
his prey, he wrenched his claymore from his hand, dashed him to the
earth with the mere violence of the assault; wielding a weapon in either
hand, he struck to the ground two of the opposing clansmen, plunged into
the thickets as a mountain stag bursts through his covert when the
opening pack is near, and disappeared in an instant among the crashing
and closing boughs of the underwood. Foaming with disappointed rage,
Macpherson sprung from the ground, snatched a _skean dhu_ from one of
his prostrated followers, and shouting, "Revenge!" rushed into the
thickets in headlong pursuit. In vain. A fleeter foot than that of Allan
Cameron never pressed the mountain heath, and, in a short time, he was
far beyond all danger from his enraged pursuer; who, after ranging every
dell and nook in vain, returned to Castle Feracht, chafing and foaming
with impotent rage, and uttering dire but unavailing threats of
vengeance.

What would it avail to relate the chieftain's wrath, when he found
himself compelled to forego his hopes of sweet revenge, and to endure
what he esteemed a new and a more daring insult? Fret and chafe as he
might, he knew that his high-souled sister would not be deterred, by
threats of personal injury, from following the bent of her own
inclination. He therefore assembled his followers in her presence, and
caused them all to bind themselves, by a deep oath, to avenge the
quarrel of their chief upon Allan Cameron, should he ever dare to set
foot within Glen Feracht; enforcing his commands by threats of deadliest
vengeance, should any clansman show him favour, hold intelligence with
him, or meet him in terms of peace. Elizabeth Macpherson saw his
purpose; but she scorned to display her emotion. A flush indeed mantled
her brow, and her eye shed one sparkle of indignation--but she remained
silent. Fraternal affection was banished the halls of Castle Feracht. An
increasing gloom and moodiness of heart began to sink upon the rugged
chief; and, at length, to prevent his dark soul's loneliness from
becoming altogether insupportable, he began to take an interest in the
affairs, first of his own clan, next of the neighbouring clans, and
finally of the nation. He thus became acquainted with many a wild and
many a wondrous legend, which might otherwise never have reached his
observation; and his rather uncultivated mind was not able to resist the
encroachments of superstition. Among others, a firm belief in the
reality of the _taisch_, or second-sight, took possession of his mind;
and he listened to the many almost incredible relations concerning it,
with a wild excitement of spirit. These changes in the manners and
pursuits of Macpherson, were, from time to time, reported to Allan
Cameron, in spite of the stern threats which had been denounced against
all who should hold intercourse with him. A youth, the cho-alt (foster
brother) of Allan Cameron, had repeatedly, under the assumed character
of a wandering hunter, entered within the precincts of Glen Feracht,
where he was unknown; and, picking up all the information that could be
obtained, without awakening suspicion, returned with it to his youthful
chief.

Ewan Macpherson was one day informed, by his aged _henchman_, Ranald
Glas, that a second-sighted man had arrived in the glen, conducted,
according to his own account, by the power of the taisch: that he was
extremely old, and his visions were appallingly vivid: his thoughts were
terror, and his words were fire. The revelations of things to come
passed frequent and powerful across his soul, bright and living as
realities; and his language was that of one who constantly held strange
communication with scenes and beings not of this world. Though his foot
had never before trod the heath of Glen Feracht, he described, with the
most perfect accuracy, its castle, stream, and cave; saying that he was
come to lay his bones beside those of the ancient seers and holy men who
had inhabited Coir-nan-Taischatrin. This was enough to rouse the
curiosity of Macpherson. Pursuing his inquiries, he learned that the
seer had taken up his abode in the cave, and that he had already
foretold to some of the clan things, part of which were accomplished,
and the rest expected with the utmost confidence. In order to satisfy
his curiosity, Macpherson determined to visit the hoary seer, and learn
from himself the nature of his visions.

The shadows of the pine and oak were stretching far across the ravine in
the slant evening sunshine, when Ewan Macpherson appeared in front of
the cave. His eye could not penetrate the deep darkness within it; and,
yielding to a feeling of indescribable awe which crept over his soul, he
remained for some time silent and motionless before its entrance. At
length he ordered one of his gillies to acquaint the wondrous inmate
that Ewan Macpherson wished to hold some converse with him. Forward came
the venerable man; and his appearance, in the dimming twilight, had no
tendency to diminish the strange delirium of superstitious feelings
which had absorbed the whole mind of the bewildered chief. The sage bent
one searching glance upon his visitor; and, seeming to have penetrated
the state of his mind, advanced into more open view.

A long and squared rod seemed to support his shaking frame as he came
forward, tottering and halting at every step. The shaggy hide of an
enormous wolf, thrown loosely over his shoulders, served partly to
clothe him, partly to disguise his form by the air of savage wildness
which a garment so uncouth gave its wearer. From his belt depended some
instruments, with the use of which Macpherson was entirely unacquainted;
together with a _skean dhu_ of exquisite and uncommon workmanship. His
bonnet alone was like that of other men; for what could a true
highlander substitute for the blue bonnet? but he neither doffed it,
nor made any motions of obeisance as he approached. A long white beard
flowed half down his bosom, waving heavily and solemnly as he moved. The
fire of an intensely bright eye was half hid by his deep, grey, shaggy
eyebrows; yet, from beneath that grim penthouse, they emitted occasional
sparklings like diamonds in the dark.

"Chief of Macpherson!" said he, in a deep hollow voice, "man of the
dark brow and ruthless hand! what seekest thou with Moran of the Wild?"
But, ere Macpherson could reply, the sage cast the wolf hide back from
his right shoulder--extended the long square rod in his firmly clenched
hand--raised himself up to his full height, while his eyes seemed
starting from their sockets, and gleaming like two balls of living fire,
and his whole frame agitated, and as if it were dilating with the
internal workings of his wild visionary spirit. Macpherson shook and
shrunk in his presence.

"They come! they come!" exclaimed the seer--"the wild, the dreadful, the
undefinable, the unutterable, the shadowy forms and seemings of things
and actions to be! They crowd upon me in powers and numbers unendurable,
inconceivable! Words never formed by human breath sound within my heart,
and tell of things that mortal tongue may never utter. Eyes, clear,
cold, dead, bright, and chill as winter moonshine, look into my soul,
and fill it with all their lucid meanings! Oh, scene of blood and woe!
when wilt thou end? Thou bright-haired angel, must the doom be thine!
Fair lady of the stately brow! oh! let me see no more!" His lips
quivered, but he uttered not another word. He remained fixed, rigid,
statue-like, as if chilled into stone, bereft of life and motion, by the
terrible vision. At length his extended arm dropped by his side; and,
heaving a long, shuddering sigh, he leaned his drooping frame upon his
rod, trembling and exhausted.

After a considerable pause, Macpherson ventured to address him, with the
intention of inquiring into the nature of his vision. "Speak not to me,
Ewan Macpherson," said he. "Seek not to know the fate thou wilt and must
know all too soon. Thy path through life has been blood-stained and
devious. No warnings may now avail thee. But that lady--might she be
rescued from misery and horror! Chief! if the safety and happiness of
thy father's daughter be dear to thee, bid her assume the spirit of her
race, and come alone to Coir-nan-Taischatrin. Tell her that Moran of the
Wild has that to reveal to her which concerns her, and thee, too,
deeply. And mark me, Chief! unless thou ceasest to pursue the feuds of
thy fathers, thy course will be brief, and bloody will be its close."
Thus saying, he turned and feebly dragged his spent and tottering form
into the dark and awe-inspiring cave.

Stunned and bewildered, incapable of thought or reflection, and
staggering like one who walks in his sleep, Macpherson wandered back
towards Castle Feracht. With a strange expression of vague astonishment
and hesitation he gazed upon his sister. At length he found words:
"Elizabeth Macpherson, if the honour of thy name, if thy own safety
and happiness can move thee; if thy brother's life--but that is a
trifle--assume the spirit of thy fathers, and go alone to
Coir-nan-Taischatrin. Moran of the Wild has that to tell thee which
deeply concerns thy safety and happiness. Canst thou execute his desire?
He is a fearful man!" At his first words the blood forsook her cheek,
and her heart sank within her; but, ere he ceased speaking, a wild
surmise flashed gleaming across her soul.

"Brother!" replied she, "the daughter of Angus Macpherson dare go alone
to Coir-nan-Taischatrin, and hear whatever the sage may have to tell.
Fear not for me. Do not, by impatience or needless anxiety for my
safety, rashly interrupt our interview. Ere long, you shall know what
warnings or what information the seer has to impart." Then, with a
stately and determined step, and an eye kindled with an ambiguous
expression of ardent hope or daring resolution, she bent her way to
the dreaded cave.

The fearless maiden approached the cave. She spoke; but the voice that
answered was that of Allan Cameron. The wolf's hide was soon thrown
aside, and he stood before her in the graceful garb of a mountain
warrior; his noble countenance beaming with courage and triumphant
love. Taking advantage of the time which Macpherson would delay at the
castle, awaiting the expiration of their interview, they hastily fled
from the hostile glen, and soon reached a concealment where the faithful
cho-alt had horses prepared for their escape. Words would be feeble to
express the fury of Ewan Macpherson when, after waiting till his
patience was exhausted, he explored the cave, and found that he had been
deceived, and that by the man whom he had begun to consider as his
deadliest foe. He determined to take fearful vengeance upon Cameron, and
all of his clan whom he might be able to overpower. Before he could get
his purpose put in execution, he chanced to meet a small party of the
Gordons; when, forgetting every other thought but that of his burning
desire of vengeance on those who slew his father, he rushed upon them;
and, bursting into the midst of them, was assailed on all sides, and
wounded so severely that, though he was rescued by his own followers,
and was completely victorious, he died ere he could be brought back to
Castle Feracht. Dying unmarried, his estate and power passed to his
sister, and from her to one of her younger sons, upon his dropping the
name of Cameron, and retaining that of Macpherson alone. An amicable
termination was thus put to the feud between the two families. A
descendant from this auspicious union still resides in Castle Feracht,
and occasionally relates, with considerable pleasure, the tradition of
Coir-nan-Taischatrin.



THE LAIDLEY WORM OF SPINDLESTON HEUGH.

A TALE OF THE ANGLO-SAXONS.

    "Word went east, and word went west,
       And word is gone over the sea,
     That a Laidley Worm in Spindleston Heugh
       Would ruin the north countrie.

    "All folks believe within the shire
       This story to be true,
     And they all run to Spindleston
       The cave and trough to view.

    "This fact now Duncan Frazier,
       Of Cheviot, sings in rhyme,
     Lest Bamboroughshire-men should forget
       Some part of it in time."--_Ancient Ballad._[J]

  [J] The popular Ballad of the Laidley (or loathly) Worm of
  Spindleston Heugh, was composed by Duncan Frazier, the Cheviot bard,
  more than five hundred years ago, and had rendered the legend familiar
  far beyond the Borders. The tradition has doubtless been commemorated by
  the ancient Saxon bards, when old Duncan turned it into rhyme; and it is
  under this supposition that the present tale is told, the narrator being
  understood to be a wandering bard of the Saxon race.


"Tell me, old man," said a Northumbrian chief to a Saxon bard who
claimed his hospitality, "tell me a tale of the olden time--a legend of
the race of Woden."

The bard bowed his head and began:--Great was Ida, the flame-bearer,
above all the kings of the isles. His ships covered the sea in shoals,
and his warriors that launched them on the deep were stronger than its
waves. He built the towers of Bamborough on the mighty rock whose shadow
darkens the waters. He reared it as a habitation for his queen, and he
called it by her name.[K] Wheresoever he went, strong places were
consumed, kings were overthrown and became his servants, and nations
became one. But Ida, in the midst of his conquests, fell in battle, by
the red sword of Owen, the avenging Briton. Then followed six kings who
reigned over Bernicia, from the southern Tyne even to the Frith of Dun
Edin. But the duration of their sovereignty was as a summer cloud or
morning dew. Their reigns were as six spans from an infant's hand, and
peaceful as an infant's slumber.

  [K] According to the venerable Bede, the name of Ida's queen
  was Bidda, and the original name of Bamborough, Biddaburgh.

But to them succeeded Ethelfrith the Fierce--the grandson of Ida--the
descendant of the immortal Woden. His voice, when his ire was kindled,
was like the sound of deep thunder, and his vengeance fleeter than the
lightning. He overthrew princes as reeds, and he swept armies before him
as stubble. His conquests extended from where clouds sleep on the brow
of Cheviot, to where the heights of terrific Snowdon pierce heaven. Men
trembled at his name; for he was as a wolf in the fold, as an eagle
among the lesser birds of heaven.

Now, the wife of Ethelfrith's bosom died; she departed to the place of
spirits--to the company of her fathers. She left behind her a daughter,
Agitha,[L] with the tresses of the raven's wing; and she was beautiful
as sunbeams sparkling from morning dew amongst the flowers of spring.
Her eyes were bright as the falcon's, but with their brightness was
mingled the meekness of the dove's. The breath of sixteen summers had
fanned her cheeks. Her bosom was white as the snow that lay in winter on
the hills, and soft as the plumage of the sea-fowl that soared over the
rocks of her lofty dwelling.

  [L] In the old ballad she is called Margaret.

A hundred princes sighed for the hand of the bright-haired Agitha; but
their tales of love had no music for her ear, and they jarred upon her
soul as the sounds of a broken instrument. She bent her ear only to
listen to the song of affection from the lips of the Chylde Wynde--even
to Chylde Wynde of the sharp sword and the unerring bow, who was her own
kinsman, the son of her father's brother. His voice was to her as the
music of water brooks to the weary and fainting traveller--dear as the
shout of triumph to a conquering king. Great was the Chylde Wynde among
the heroes of Bernicia. He had honoured the shield of his father. He had
rendered his sword terrible. Where the battle raged fiercest, there was
his voice heard, there was his sword seen; war-horses and their riders
fell before it--it arrested the fury of the chariots of war. Bards
recorded his deeds in immortal strains, and Agitha sang them in secret.

Yet would not Ethelfrith listen to the prayer of his kinsman, but his
anger was kindled against him. The fierce king loved his daughter, but
he loved dominion more. It was dearer to him than the light of heaven,
than the face of the blessed sun. He waded through blood as water, even
the blood of his victims, to set his feet upon thrones. He said unto
himself--"Agitha is beautiful--she is fairer than her mother was. She is
stately as a pine, lifting its head above the sacred oaks. She is lovely
as the moon when it blesseth the harvest fields. A king only shall
possess her hand, and give a kingdom in exchange for it."

Thus spoke her father, the mighty Ethelfrith, whose word was power,
and whose purpose was fixed as the everlasting rocks on which the
foundations of the earth are built. He said, therefore, unto the Chylde
Wynde--"Strong art thou in battle, son of my brother; the mighty bend
before thy spear, and thy javelins pierce through the shields of our
enemies. As an eagle descendeth on its prey, so rusheth my kinsman to
the onset. But thou hast no nation to serve thee--no throne to offer
for my daughter's hand. Whoso calleth himself her husband, shall for
that title exchange the name of king, and become tributary unto me--even
as my sword, before which thrones shake and nations tremble, has caused
others to do homage. Go, therefore, son of my brother, take with thee
ships and warriors, and seek thee a people to conquer. Go, find a land
to possess; and when with thy sword and with thy bow thou hast done
this, return ye to me, bringing a crown in thy left hand, and in thy
right will I place the hand of Agitha with the bright hair, whose eyes
are as stars."

"O king!" answered the Chylde--"thou who holdest the fate of princes
in thy hands, and the shadow of whose sceptre stretcheth over many
nations--the uplifting of whose arm turneth the tide of battle--swear
unto me, by the spirit of mighty Woden, that while I am doing that which
thou requirest, and ere I can return to lay a crown at thy feet, swear
that thou will not bless another king, for an offered kingdom, with the
hand of Agitha, in whom my soul liveth!"

Then did the wrath of the king wax terrible; his eyes were as consuming
fires, even as the fire of heaven when it darteth from the dark clouds
of midnight. His countenance was fierce as the sea, when its waves boil
and are lifted up with the tempest. In his wrath he dashed his heel upon
the floor; and the armour of conquered kings, the spoils of a hundred
battles, rang round the halls of Ida.

"Shall the blood of my brother," he cried "stain the floor of his
father? Boy! ask ye an oath from a king, the descendant of Woden?[M]
Away! do as I command thee, lest ye perish!"

  [M] It may be necessary to mention, that the imaginary deities
  of the Saxons were named Woden, Tuisco, Thor, Frea, and Seator. They
  also worshipped the sun and moon. Woden was their god of war; and from
  him Ida and his descendants professed to spring. We need hardly add that
  it is after these objects of pagan worship that we still name the days
  of the week; as Woden's day (Wednesday), Thor's day (Thursday), Frea's
  day (Friday), &c. &c.

Then did the Chylde Wynde withdraw from before the anger of the great
king, in the presence of whom, in his wrath, the life even of his
kindred was as a spider's thread. He sought Agitha with the rainbow
smile, where she sat with her maidens, in the groves of Budle,
ornamenting a robe of skins for her father, the mighty Ethelfrith. The
sea sang its anthem of power along the shore, and the caves of the rocks
resounded with the chorus of the eternal hymn. The farthest branches of
the grove bent over the cliff that overhung the sounding sea. The birds
of heaven sang over her head, and before her the sea-birds wheeled in
myriads, countless as the sand upon the shore, like burnished clouds
over the adjacent isles. Their bright wings flashed in the sun, like the
fitful fires that light the northern heavens.

The warrior Chylde drew near where the princess sat. There was gloom and
sorrow on his brow. The echoes of the grove answered to his sighs.
Agitha heard them. She beheld the cloud of anguish that was before his
countenance. The robe of skins dropped from her hand. Her eyes, that
were as the morning light, became dim. She arose and went forward to
meet him.

"Wherefore," she inquired, "does my hero sigh, and why sits heaviness on
the brightness of his face? Art not thou renowned in song as the warrior
of the dauntless heart and the resistless sword? Art not thou the envy
of princes--the beloved of the people--the admired by the daughters of
kings? And can sadness dwell upon thy soul? Oh! thou who art as the
plume of my father's warriors, and as the pride of his host, if grief
hath entered into thy bosom, let it be buried in mine."

Then thus replied the warrior Chylde:--"Agitha--thou that art fairer,
milder than the light that plays around the brows of the summer moon,
and dearer to me than a mother's milk to the lips of her babe--it is for
thee that my countenance is sad, and my soul troubled. For thy father
has pierced my spirit with many arrows; yea, even with the poisoned
arrows of a deadly foe. He hath wrung my soul for thee, Agitha. Thou
didst give me thy heart when the sacred moon rose over the rocky Ferns
and beheld us; and while the ministering spirits that dwell in its beams
descended as a shower of burning gold upon the sea, and, stretching to
the shore, heard us. We exchanged our vows beneath the light of the
hallowed orb, while the stars of heaven hid their faces before it. Then,
Agitha, while its beams glowed on my father's sword, upon that sword I
swore to love thee. But our vows are vain. Daughter of kings! our love
is sorrow. Thy father hath vowed, by the mighty Woden, that thou shalt
be the wife of a king, and that a kingdom shall be the price of thy
hand. Yet will I gather my warriors together. They number a thousand
spears; they have a thousand bows. The charge of their spears is as the
rushing of the whirlwind. The flight of their arrows hides the face of
the sun. Foes perish at their approach. Victory goeth before their face.
Therefore will I go forth into a far country. I will make war upon a
strange people, that I may take the kingdom from their ruler, and
present his crown unto thy father for the hand of my Agitha."

The maiden wept. Her head sank on her bosom like a fair flower weighed
down with dew. Tears stood in the eyes of the warrior.

"Weep not, daughter of heroes!" he said; "the tide of battle is in the
hands of Woden. He will not turn it against a descendant of his race. I
will return to thee in triumph. I will throw a crown at thy father's
feet, and rush to the arms of Agitha. Thou wilt greet me again with thy
smile of love--with thy voice that is sweeter than the music of spring.
Thy heart, which is dearer than life, shall be my kingdom; and thy
bosom, that is whiter than the breast of the wild swan, my throne. I
will fly to thee as the hunted deer to its covert--as a bird to its nest
where its young await it."

Thus departed the warrior, and Agitha returned to her maidens; she sat
down amongst them and mourned.

Gormack, the weird, a thane of the Pictish race, had his dwelling near
the giddy cliffs where the young eagles scream to the roar of the dark
waters of the Forth. He had a daughter whose beauty was the theme of all
tongues. Her fame went over the land like the sound of shells--yea, like
the sound of shells when the wind is hushed, and the moon is bright in
the heavens. Fair was the daughter of Gormack as the lily that groweth
by the brook. Her hair was as the finest fleece when it is purified. It
fell down her back in ringlets. It was bright as the golden clouds that
encircle the throne of the rising sun--as the golden clouds when they
are dipped in silver. Her father held counsel with spirits of evil. They
were obedient to his will. He invoked them to endue his daughter with
more than mortal beauty, that she might inflame the soul of princes, and
sit upon their throne. Such was the tale of men. Her beauty was the
burden of the song of bards. In their chorus to swell the praise of
others, they said that they were "lovely as the fair daughter of
Gormack."

The tale of her charms was heard by Ethelfrith. It was heard by the
fierce in war--the impetuous in love--the victor in battle--yea, even
by Ethelfrith, king of Bernicia. "I will see the fair daughter of the
thane," said the proud king, to whose will even war and the mighty in
war did homage. Moreover, Gormack the thane was his vassal. He had sworn
to his obedience.

The king went forth to the dwelling of Gormack, among the cliffs.
Ealdormen,[N] comites,[O] and thanes,[P] attended him. The weird thane
came forth to meet him; he bowed his head and made obeisance.

  [N] Earls.

  [O] Companions.

  [P] Thanes signified men high in power, of various degrees of rank.

Ethelfrith beheld Bethoc the Beautiful; and the songs that he had heard
in her praise were as an idle tale, for her loveliness exceeded the
power of song. The soul of the fierce king melted within him. It was
subdued by the sorcery of her charms.

"Give me," said he unto her father--and commandments ever fell from his
lips--"give me Bethoc to be my wife; for she is more lovely than the
morning star. She is fit for a warrior's bride; she shall be THE LADY[Q]
of Bernicia."

  [Q] THE LADY was the appellation given to a queen amongst the
  Anglo-Saxons.

Again the weird bowed his head. He knelt upon his knee. He presented his
daughter to the king. Then did Ethelfrith take her by the hand. He led
her forth to his chariot of war, through the midst of his ealdormen, his
comites, and his thanes, who were in great power and resistless in war,
and they made obeisance to her as she passed through the midst of them.
They saluted her as their queen. Her breast swelled with exultation.
Pride flashed from her eyes, as the sun bursting from a cloud dazzleth
the eye of the gazer. The king gazed upon her beauty as a dreamer upon a
fair vision.

Now, the beauty of Bethoc was sin made lovely. Her bosom was as a hill
where the vine and the cedar grew, and where flowers shed forth perfume;
but beneath which a volcano slept. To the eye was beauty, beyond were
desolation and death. Pride, hatred, and envy, encircled her soul. She
was sold unto evil, even as her father was. The spirit of destruction,
in answer to her father's prayer, had formed her a beautiful destroyer.
Whatsoever was lovely that she looked upon in envy, withered as though
an east wind passed over it--the destroying wind which blighteth the
hopes of the husbandman.

At the going down of the sun, the king, and his fair queen, Bethoc, with
his mighty men, drew near to the tower which Ida had built on the
mountain-rock, and all the people of the city came forth to meet him,
and to greet their queen.

The bards lifted up their voice; they styled her the fairest of women.

"Fair is the wife of the king," replied an aged thane, "but fairer is
Agitha, his daughter! Bethoc, the queen, is a bright star, but Agitha is
the star of the morning--fairest of the heavens!"

Queen Bethoc heard the words of the aged thane, and she hated Agitha
because of them. The spirit of evil spread his darkness over her soul.
He filled her breast with the poison of asps, her eyes with the venom of
the adder that lures to destruction.

At the entrance of the tower of kings stood Agitha, lovely as the
spirits that dwell among the stars, and give beauty to the beings of
earth. She knelt before the queen. She offered her a daughter's homage.

"Rise, beautiful one! inspirer of song!" said the queen; "kneel not to
me, for I am but a star--thou art the star of the morning. Hide not thy
face from before men. Let them serve and worship thee."

Cold were her words as water which droppeth from the everlasting
icicles in the caves of the north. As is the mercy of the tears of the
crocodile, so was the kindness of her looks. Envy and hatred gleamed in
her eyes, like lightnings round the sides of a dark cloud.

The countenance of Agitha fell; for she knew that her father in his
wrath was fiercer than the wild boar of the forest when at bay; and she
feared to reply to the sneer of the wife in whom his eyes delighted.

Queen Bethoc, the daughter of Gormack, knew that men said she was less
beautiful than Agitha, the daughter of the king. When they walked by the
clear fountains or the crystal brooks together, the fountains and the
brooks whispered to her the words which men spoke--"Agitha is the most
lovely." Therefore did the queen hate Agitha with a great and deadly
hatred. As the sleuth-hound seeketh its prey, so did she seek her
destruction. As the fowler lureth the bird into his net, so did she lie
in wait for her. Yet she feared to destroy her openly, because that she
was afraid of the fierce anger of her husband Ethelfrith, and his love
for his daughter was great.

Sleep fled from her eyes, and colour forsook her cheeks, because of her
envy of the beauty of Agitha, and the hatred which she bore her. She
spoke unto her father Gormack, the weird thane, that he would aid her
with his sorceries against her. Then did they practise their unclean
spells, and perform their dark incantations to destroy her; but their
spells and incantations prevailed not, for the spirit of Woden protected
Agitha.

Now, there resided at that time in a dark cave, in the heugh which is
called Spindleston, an enchantress of great power, named Elgiva--the
worker of wonders. Men said that she could weave ropes of sand, and
threads from the motes of the sunbeams. She could call down fire from
the clouds, and transform all things by the waving of her magic wand.
Around her hung a loose robe, composed of the skins of many beasts. Her
feet and her arms were bare, and they were painted with strange figures.
On her face, also, was the likeness of the spirits that ministered to
her will. She was fearful to look upon. Men fled at her approach. The
beasts of the field were scared by her shadow. Round her head was
wreathed a crown of fantastic hemlock--round her neck a corslet of
deadly nightshade. On her left arm coiled a living snake, and it rested
its head upon her bosom. In her right hand she held a wand dipped in the
poison of all things venomous. Whatsoever it touched died--whatsoever it
waved over was transformed. No human foot approached her cave--no mortal
dared. The warrior, who feared not a hundred foes, quailed at the sight
of Elgiva, the enchantress, the worker of wonders. Unclean reptiles
crawled around her cave--the asp, the loathsome toad, and the hissing
adder. Two owls sat in the farthest corner of the cave, and their eyes
were as lamps in its darkness. They sat upon skulls of the dead. A tame
raven croaked in the midst of it. It was told that the reptiles, the
owls, and the raven, were objects of her enchantment--warriors, and the
daughters of warriors, transformed by the waving of her wand.

Now, when Bethoc could find no rest because of the greatness of her
hatred for Agitha, and, moreover, as she herself had communed with
impure spirits, she overcame the terror which the name of Elgiva spread.
She sought her aid. In the dead of night, when the moon had gone to
rest, yea, when clouds and darkness had blotted out the stars that were
left to watch in the heavens, she went forth from the tower of kings.
She stood before the cave of the enchantress. She lifted up her voice
and cried--"Elgiva--worker of wonders! the feared of mortals--come
forth!"

The owls clapped their wings and screamed; the ravens croaked, and
the adders hissed. From the darkness of her cave the voice of the
enchantress came forth--it came forth as a voice from the grave,
saying--"Who amongst the children of mortals dareth to call upon the
name of Elgiva?--or, what deed of sin bringeth thee hither?"

"The queen," answered Bethoc, "the wife of the mighty Ethelfrith, she
calleth thee, she invoketh thine aid. The strongest spirits obey
thee--the spirits of the earth, of the air, and of the sea. Then help
me, thou that art more powerful than the kings of the earth, that art
stronger than the fate of the stars; help--rid me of mine enemy whom I
hate, even of Agitha, the daughter of the king. Make her as one of the
poisoned worms that crawl within thy cave. Or, if thou wilt not do this
thing to serve me, when my right hand hath shed her blood, turn from me
the fierce wrath of her father the king."

Again the voice of the enchantress came forth from the cave, saying--"In
seven days come unto me again--bring with thee the Princess Agitha; and
Elgiva, the enchantress, will do towards her as Bethoc, the daughter of
the weird thane, hath requested."

Thus did the queen, while Ethelfrith, her lord, was making war against a
strange king in a far country.

Darkness lay heavy on the hills, it concealed the objects on the plains.
The seven days, of which the enchantress had spoken, were expired.

"Maiden," said the queen unto Agitha, "rise and follow me."

Agitha obeyed; for the fear and the commandment of her father were upon
her. Two servants, men of the Pictish race, also followed the queen. She
went towards the cave of the enchantress. Agitha would have shrunk back,
but the queen grasped her hand. The swords of the men of the Pictish
race waved over her. They dragged her forward. They stood before the
cave of the potent Elgiva.

"Elgiva! worker of wonders!" exclaimed the queen; "Bethoc, thy servant,
is come. The victim also is here--Agitha, the morning-star. By thy
power, which is stronger than the lightning, and invisible as the wind,
render loathsome her beauty; yea, make her as a vile worm which crawleth
on the ground, with venom in its mouth."

Again was heard the deep voice of the enchantress, mingled with the
croaking of the raven, and the screeching of the owls, as she rushed
from her cave, crying--"It shall be as thou hast said."

Terror had entranced the soul of the fair Agitha--it had brought a sleep
over her senses. The enchantress grasped her hand. She threw her arm
around her.

"Away, accursed!" she exclaimed unto Bethoc the queen; "fly! lest the
power of the enchantment fall upon thee also. Fly! lest it overtake thee
as darkness overtaketh the benighted traveller. Fly! ere the wand of the
worker of wonders is uplifted, and destruction come upon thee."

The followers of Bethoc quaked with dismay. They turned with her and
fled to the tower of Ida. Of their outgoing and their incoming none
knew.

The maidens of Bernicia wept when the loss of Agitha was known.
"Beauty," said they, "hath perished. Agitha, whose face was as the face
of heaven when its glories appear--as the face of the earth when its
flowers give forth their fragrance--Agitha is not!" And because she was
not, the people mourned. Queen Bethoc alone rejoiced, and was silent.

Dismay and wonder spread over the land--for a tale was told of a
serpent-worm, fearful in magnitude and of monstrous form, which was seen
at Spindleston, by the cave of Elgiva--the worker of wonders--the woman
of power.

The people trembled. They said of the monster--"It is Agitha, the
beloved!--the daughter of our king, of conquering Ethelfrith. Elgiva,
the daughter of destruction, who communeth with the spirits of the air,
and defeateth armies by the waving of her wand, hath done this. She hath
cast her enchantments over Agitha, the fairest of women--the meekest
among the daughters of princes."

The bards raised songs of lamentation for her fate. "Surely," said
they, "when the Chylde Wynde cometh, his sword, which maketh the brave
to fall and bringeth down the mighty, will break the enchantment." And
the burden of the songs was--"Return, O valiant Chylde, conqueror of
nations--thou who makest kings captives, return! Free the enchanted!
Deliver the beautiful!"

Now, the people of the land where the Chylde and his warriors landed,
were stricken with terror at their approach. They fled before them, as
sheep fly upon the hills when the howl of the hungry wolf is heard. He
overthrew their king, he took possession of his kingdom. He took his
crown, and he brought it to Ethelfrith, whose ambition was boundless as
the sea. He brought it as the price of Agitha's hand.

It was morn. The sun rose with his robes of glory over the sea. Bethoc,
the daughter of Gormack the weird, stood upon the turrets of Ida's
tower. She was performing incantations to the four winds of heaven. She
called upon them to lift up the sea on their invisible wings, to raise
its waves as mountains, and whelm the ships upon its bosom. But the
winds obeyed not her voice, and the sea was still. In the bay of Budle
lay the vessels of the Chylde Wynde, and the weapons of his warriors
flashed in the sunbeams and upon the sea. Therefore was the spirit of
Queen Bethoc troubled. It was troubled lest the enchantment should be
broken--Agitha delivered from the spell, and her wrongs avenged.

As a great wave rolleth in majesty to the shore, so advanced the warrior
ships of Chylde Wynde, the subduer of heroes. The people came forth to
meet him with a shout of joy. "He is come," they cried; "the favoured of
the stars, the Chylde of the sharp sword, is come to deliver Agitha the
beautiful, to break the spell of her enchantment."

He heard the dark tale. His bosom heaved. He rent the robe that covered
him. His grief was as the howling of the winter wind, in a deep glen
between great mountains. He threw himself upon the earth and wept.

But again the spirit of Woden came upon him. It burned within his bosom
as a fierce flame. He started to his feet. To his lips he pressed the
sword of his father. He vowed to break the enchantment that entombed his
betrothed.

He rushed towards the cave of Elgiva, the worker of wonders. His
warriors feared to follow him. The people stood back in dismay. For by
the waving of Elgiva's wand she turned the swords of warriors upon
themselves, she caused them to melt in their hands.

At the mouth of her cave stood the enchantress. By her side lay the
serpent-worm.

"Daughter of wickedness!" shouted the Chylde, "break thy accursed spell;
restore the fair form of my Agitha, else the blood of thy heart shall
dissolve the charm."

"Hearken, O Chylde," cried the enchantress; "thou subduer of kings, thou
vanquisher of the strong--sharp is thy sword, but against me it hath no
power. Would it pierce the breast that suckled thee?--the breast of her
that bore thee?"

From the hand of the warrior dropped his uplifted sword. "Mother!" he
exclaimed. He fell on his knees before her.

"Yea, thy mother," answered the enchantress; "who, when her warrior
husband fell, fled to the desert, to the cave, and to the forest, for
protection--even for protection from the love and from the wrath of
Ethelfrith the fierce, the brother of thy warrior father, whose eyes
were as the eagle's, and his arm great of strength. Uncouth is the
habit, wild is the figure, and idle the art of thy mother. Broken is her
wand which the vulgar feared. That mine eyes might behold my son, this
cave became my abode. Superstition walled it round with fire."

"And Agitha?" gasped the warrior.

"Behold!" answered she, "the loathly worm at the feet of thy mother."

The skins of fish of the deep sea were sewed together with cords--they
were fashioned into the form of a great serpent.

"Come forth, my daughter!" cried the enchantress. Agitha sprang from her
disguise of skins. She sank on the breast of her hero.

The people beheld her from afar. Their shout of joy rang across the
sea. It was echoed among the hills. A scream rose from the tower of
Ida. From the highest turret Bethoc the queen had sprung. In pieces
was her body scattered at the foot of the great cliff. They were gathered
together--they were buried in the cave of Elgiva. From her grave crawled
an unclean beast, and it crawleth around it for ever.

Ethelfrith died in battle. Woden shut his eyes and saw him not, and he
fell. And Elgiva, the enchantress, the worker of wonders, was hailed as
Rowena, the mother of Wynde, the subduer of princes; yea, even of Chylde
Wynde, the beloved, and the lord of Agitha the Beautiful.

Such was the tale of the Saxon bard.



THE SABBATH WRECKS.

A LEGEND OF DUNBAR.


It was a beautiful Sabbath morning in the autumn of 1577: a few small
clouds, tinged with red, sailed slowly through the blue heavens; the sun
shone brightly, as if conscious of the glory and goodness of its Maker,
diffusing around a holy stillness and tranquillity, characteristic of
the day of rest; the majestic Frith flashed back the sunbeams, while, on
its bosom, slowly glided the winged granaries of commerce; there, too,
lay its islands, glorying in their strength--the May, shrouded in light,
appeared as a leviathan sunning in its rays--and the giant Bass, covered
with sea-fowl, rose as a proud mountain of alabaster in the midst of the
waters. A thousand boats lay along the shores of Dunbar. It was the
herring season--and there were many boats from the south and from the
north, and also from the coast of Holland.

Now, tidings were brought to the fishermen that an immense shoal was
upon the coast; and, regardless of its being Sabbath morning, they began
to prepare their thousand boats, and to go out to set their nets. The
Rev. Andrew Simpson, a man possessed of the piety and boldness of an
apostle, was then minister of Dunbar; and, as he went forth to the kirk
to preach to his people, he beheld the unhallowed preparations of the
fishermen on the beach; and he turned and went amongst them, and
reproved them sternly for their great wickedness. But the men were
obdurate--the prospect of great gain was before them, and they mocked
the words of the preacher. Yea, some of them said unto him, in the words
of the children to the prophet--"Go up, thou bald head." He went from
boat to boat, counselling, entreating, expostulating with them, and
praying for them.

"Surely," said he, "the Lord of the Sabbath will not hold ye guiltless
for this profanation of his holy day." But, at that period, vital
religion was but little felt or understood upon the Borders, and they
regarded not his words.

He went to one boat, which was the property of members of his own
congregation, and there he found Agnes Crawford, the daughter of one
of his elders, hanging upon the neck of her husband, and their three
children also clung around him, and they entreated him not to be guilty
of breaking the Sabbath for the sake of perishing gain. But he regarded
not their voice; and he kissed his wife and his children, while he
laughed at their idle fears. Mr. Simpson beheld the scene with emotion,
and approaching the group--"John Crawford," he exclaimed, addressing the
husband, "you may profess to mock, to laugh to scorn the words of a
feeble woman; but see that they return not like a consuming fire into
your bosom when hope has departed. Is not the Lord of the Sabbath the
Creator of the sea as well as of the dry land? Know ye not that ye are
now braving the wrath of him before whom the mighty ocean is a drop, and
all space but a span? Will ye, then, glory in insulting his ordinances,
and delight in profaning the day of holiness? Will ye draw down
everlasting darkness on the Sabbath of your soul? When ye were but a
youth, ye have listened to the words of John Knox--the great apostle of
our country--ye have trembled beneath their power, and the conviction
that they carried with them; and when ye think of those convictions, and
contrast them with your conduct this day, does not the word _apostate_
burn in your heart? John Crawford, some of your blood have embraced the
stake for the sake of the truth, and will ye profane the Sabbath which
they sanctified? The Scotsman who openly glories in such a sin,
forfeits his claim to the name of one, and publishes to the world that
he has no part nor communion with the land that gave him birth. John
Crawford, hearken unto my voice, to the voice of your wife, and that of
your bairns (whose bringing up is a credit to their mother), and be not
guilty of this gross sin." But the fisherman, while he regarded not the
supplications of his wife, became sullen at the words of the preacher;
and, springing into the boat, seized an oar, and, with his comrades,
began to pull from the shore.

The thousand boats put to sea, and Mr. Simpson returned sorrowful from
the beach to the kirk, while Agnes Crawford and her children followed
him. That day he took for his text, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep
it holy;" and, as he fearlessly and fervidly denounced the crime of
Sabbath-breaking, and alluded to the impious proceedings of the day, his
hearers trembled, but poor Agnes wept aloud, and her children clung
around her, and they wept also, because she wept. But, ere the service
had concluded, the heavens began to lower. Darkness fell over the
congregation--and first came the murmur of the storm, which suddenly
burst into the wild howl of the tempest. They gazed upon each other in
silent terror, like guilty spirits stricken in their first rebellion by
the searching glance of the Omniscient. The loud voice of psalms was
abruptly hushed, and its echo mingled with the dreadful music of the
elements, like the bleating of a tender lamb, in the wind that sweepeth
howling on the mountains. For a moment, their features, convulsed and
immovable, were still distended with the song of praise; but every
tongue was silent, every eye fixed. There was no voice, save heaven's.
The church seemed to rock to its foundations, but none fled--none moved.
Pale, powerless as marble statues, horror transfixed them in the house
of prayer. The steeple rocked in the blast, and, as it bent, a knell,
untolled by human hands, pealed on the ears of the breathless multitude.
A crash followed. The spire that glittered in the morning sun lay
scattered in fragments, and the full voice of the whirlwind roared
through the aisles. The trees crouched, and were stripped leafless; and
the sturdy oak, whose roots had embraced the earth for centuries, torn
from the deep darkness of its foundations, was uplifted on the wings of
the tempest. Darkness was spread over the earth. Lightnings gathered
together their terrors, and, clothed in the fury of their fearful
majesty, flashed through the air. The fierce hail was poured down as
clouds of ice. At the awful voice of the deep thunder, the whirlwind
quailed, and the rage of the tempest seemed spent.

Nothing was now heard save the rage of the troubled sea, which, lashed
into foam by the angry storm, still bellowed forth its white billows to
the clouds, and shouted its defiance loud as the war-cry of embattled
worlds. The congregation still sat mute, horrified, death-like, as if
waiting for the preacher to break the spell of the elements. He rose to
return thanks for their preservation, and he had given out the lines--

    "Lord, in thy wrath rebuke me not,
     Nor in thy hot rage chasten me,"

when the screams and the howling of women and children rushing wildly
along the streets, rendered his voice inaudible. The congregation
rose, and hurrying one upon another, they rushed from the church. The
exhortations of the preacher to depart calmly were unheard and unheeded.
Every seat was deserted, all rushed to the shore, and Agnes Crawford and
her children ran, also, in terror, with the multitude.

The wrecks of nearly two hundred boats were drifting among the rocks.
The dead were strewed along the beach, and amongst them, wailing widows
sought their husbands, children their fathers, mothers their sons, and
all their kindred; and ever and anon an additional scream of grief
arose, as the lifeless body of one or other such relation was found. A
few of the lifeless bodies of the hardy crews were seen tossing to and
fro; but the cry for help was hushed, and the yell of death was heard no
more.

It was, in truth, a fearful day--a day of lamentation, of warning, and
of judgment. In one hour, and within sight of the beach, a hundred and
ninety boats and their crews were whelmed in the mighty deep; and,
dwelling on the shore between Spittal and North Berwick, two hundred and
eighty widows wept their husbands lost.

The spectators were busied carrying the dead, as they were driven on
shore, beyond the reach of tide-mark. They had continued their
melancholy task for near an hour, when a voice exclaimed--"See!
see!--one still lives, and struggles to make the shore!"

All rushed to the spot from whence the voice proceeded, and a young
man was perceived, with more than mortal strength, yet labouring in the
whirling waves. His countenance was black with despair. His heart panted
with suffocating pangs. His limbs buffeted the billows in the strong
agony of death, and he strained, with desperate eagerness, towards the
projecting point of a black rock. It was now within his grasp, but,
in its stead, he clutched the deceitful wave that laughed at his
deliverance. He was whirled around it, dashed on it with violence, and
again swept back by the relentless surge. He threw out his arms at
random, and his deep groans and panting breath were heard through the
sea's hoarse voice. He again reached the rock--he grasped, he clung to
its tangled sides. A murmur moaned through the multitude. They gazed one
upon another. His glazed eyes frowned darkly upon them. Supplication and
scorn were mingled in his look. His lips moved, but his tongue uttered
no sound. He only gasped to speak--to implore assistance. His strength
gave way--the waters rushed around the rock as a whirlpool. He was again
uplifted upon the white bosom of the foam, and tossed within a few yards
of the wailing but unavailing crowd.

"It is John Crawford!" exclaimed those who were enabled to recognise his
features. A loud shriek followed the mention of his name--a female
rushed through the crowd, and the next moment the delicate form of Agnes
Crawford was seen floating on the wild sea. In an instant, a hundred
plunged to her rescue; but, before the scream of horror and surprise
raised by the spectators when they beheld her devoted but desperate
purpose, had subsided, she was beyond the reach of all who feared death.
Although no feminine amusement, Agnes, from a child, had delighted in
buffeting the waters as though she felt at home upon their bosom; and
now the strength of inspiration seemed to thrill through her frame. She
was hidden from the gaze of the marvelling spectators, and a deep groan
crept along the shore. She again appeared, and her fair hand grasped the
shoulder of the drowning man! A shout of wild joy rang back on the
deserted town. Her father, who was amongst the multitude, fell upon his
knees. He clasped his hands together--"Merciful Heaven!" he exclaimed,
"Thou who stillest the tempest, and holdest the waters in the hollow of
thy hand, protect--protect my child!"

The waters rioted with redoubled fury. Her strength seemed failing,
but a smile of hope still lighted up her features, and her hand yet
grasped her apparently lifeless burden. Despair again brooded on the
countenances of her friends. For a moment, she disappeared amongst the
waves; but the next, Agnes Crawford lay senseless on the beach, her arm
resting on the bosom of him she had snatched from a watery grave--on
the bosom of her husband.

They were borne to their own house, where, in a few minutes, she
recovered; but her husband manifested no sign of vitality. All the means
within their power, and that they knew, were resorted to, in order to
effect his resuscitation. Long and anxiously she wept over him, rubbing
his temples and his bosom, and, at length, beneath her hand his breast
first began to heave with the returning pulsation of his heart.

"He lives!--he breathes!" she exclaimed; and she sank back in a state of
unconsciousness, and was carried from the room. The preacher attended by
the bedside, where the unconscious fisherman lay, directing and
assisting in the operations necessary for restoring animation.

In a few hours the fisherman awoke from his troubled sleep, which many
expected would have been the sleep of death. He raised himself in the
bed--he looked around wistfully. Agnes, who had recovered, and returned
to the room, fell upon his bosom. "My Agnes!--my poor Agnes!" he cried,
gazing wistfully in her face--"but, where--where am I?--and my bairnies,
where are they?"

"Here, faither, here!" cried the children, stretching out their little
arms to embrace him.

Again he looked anxiously around. A recollection of the past, and a
consciousness of the present, fell upon his mind. "Thank God!" he
exclaimed, and burst into tears; and when his troubled soul and his
agitated bosom had found in them relief, he inquired, eagerly--"But, oh,
tell me, how was I saved?"

"John," said the aged elder, the father of Agnes, "ye was saved by the
merciful and sustaining power o' that Providence which ye this morning
set at nought. But I rejoice to find that your heart is not hardened,
and that the awful visitation which has this day filled our coast with
widows and with orphans, has not fallen upon you in vain; for ye
acknowledge your guilt, and are grateful for your deliverance. Your
being saved is naething short o' a miracle. We a' beheld how long and
how desperately ye struggled wi' the raging waves. A scream burst
upon my ear--a woman rushed through the crowd--and then, John!--oh,
then!"---- But here the feelings of the old man overpowered him. He
sobbed aloud, and pausing for a few moments, added--"Tell him, some o'
ye."

The preacher took up the tale. "Hearken unto me, John Crawford," said
he. "Ye have reason, this day, to sorrow, and to rejoice, and to be
grateful beyond measure. In the morning, ye mocked my counsel and set
at nought my reproof; and as ye sowed so have ye reaped. But, as your
faither-in-law has told ye, when your face was recognised from the
shore, and your name mentioned, a woman screamed--she rushed through the
multitude--she plunged into the boiling sea, and in an instant she was
beyond the reach of help!"

"Speak!--speak on!" cried the fisherman eagerly; and he placed his hands
on his heaving bosom, and gazed anxiously, now towards the preacher, and
again towards his Agnes, who wept upon his shoulder.

"The Providence that had till then sustained you, while your fellow
creatures perished around you," added the clergyman, "supported her. She
reached you--she grasped your arm. After long struggling, she brought
you within a few yards of the shore; a wave overwhelmed you both and
cast you upon the beach, with her arm--the arm of your wife that saved
you--upon your bosom!"

"Gracious Heaven!" exclaimed the fisherman, pressing his wife to his
bosom--"my ain Agnes!--was it you?--was it you?--my wife!--my saviour!"
And he wept aloud, and his children wept also.

But the feelings of the wife and the mother were too strong for words.
I will not dwell upon the joy and gratitude of the family to whom the
husband and the father had been restored as from the dead. It found a
sorrowful contrast in the voice of lamentation and of mourning, which
echoed along the coast like the peal of an alarm-bell. The dead were
laid in heaps upon the beach, and, on the following day, widows,
orphans, parents, and brothers, came from all the fishing towns along
the coast, to seek their dead amongst the drowned that had been gathered
together; or, if they found them not, they wandered along the shore to
seek for them where the sea might have cast them forth. Such is the tale
of the Sabbath wrecks--of the lost drave of Dunbar.


END OF VOL. VI.





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