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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland - Volume 12
Author: Various
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 12" ***

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                     WILSON'S TALES OF THE BORDERS

                            AND OF SCOTLAND.


                            WITH A GLOSSARY.

                               REVISED BY

                           ALEXANDER LEIGHTON
























The gloom of a boisterous winter evening was settling over one of the
wild, inhospitable tracts which lie to the north of the St Lawrence. The
earth, far as the eye could reach, was covered, to the depth of many
feet, by a continuous sheet of frozen snow; over which the bellying
clouds, heavily charged with the materials of a fresh storm, hung in
terrible array, fold beyond fold, as they descended on every side to
mingle with the distant horizon. On the one hand, a frozen lake, deeply
buried, like all the rest of the landscape, stretched its flat, unvaried
surface for leagues along the waste; on the other, a winding shore,
covered with stunted trees and bushes, alternately advanced into the
level, in the form of low, long promontories, or retired into little
hollow bays, edged with rock, and overhung by thickets of pine. All was
sublimely wild and desolate. The piercing north wind went whistling in
sudden gusts along the frozen surface of the lake, dashing against each
other the stiff, brittle branches of the underwood, and shaking off
their icicles, or whirling the lighter snow into huge columns, that ever
and anon went stalking along the waste like giants, and seemed at times
to thrust their foreheads into the very clouds. Not a single human
habitation--not so much as the wigwam of an Indian, or aught that could
give evidence of even the occasional visits of man--could be seen in
the whole frozen circle, from the centre to the horizon. All seemed
alike uninhabitable and uninhabited--a dreary unpeopled desert, the
undisputed domain of solitude and winter.

And yet, on this dismal evening, the landscape was enlivened by two
human figures. They were mounted on a rude sledge, drawn by four large
dogs, that now, as the evening began to darken, were urging their way at
full speed across one of the wider bays of the lake. The keen,
penetrating wind blew right ahead, so intensely chill that it felt to
the naked hand like a stream of ice; and the travellers, who were
seated, with their backs to the blast, on the front part of the car, and
who from time to time half turned their heads to direct the course of
the dogs, drew closer and closer together as they felt their limbs
stiffening, and a drowsy torpor stealing over all their faculties, under
the deadening influence of the cold. They were dressed from head to foot
in the skins of wild animals, with hoods, like those worn by the
Esquimaux, projecting over their faces, and long strips of some thick,
coarse fur wrapped in a spiral fashion round their limbs. One of them--a
robust, dark-complexioned young man, rather above the middle size--had
an Indian blanket bound round his shoulders; the other--who, though tall
and well-made, was of a rather slighter form, and much less deeply
bronzed by the climate--was closely enveloped in the folds of a Scottish

"I am afraid, Sandy, it's all over with us," said Innes Cameron, the
fairer and handsomer of the two; "I have been dead asleep for the last
ten minutes--ah, me! and dreaming of Scotland, too, and of one I shall
never, never see more. Do you think there can be any chance of our yet
reaching the log-house?"

"I have been more than half asleep, too," said Sandy Munro, the more
robust traveller, "and my feet are ice to the ankles; but, if we can
hold out for barely one quarter-of-an-hour longer, we are safe. Pine
Creek Point is quite at hand--see how it stretches black across the snow
yonder, not four hundred yards away; and, hearken! you may hear the wind
whistling through the branches. There is a little bay beyond it, and the
log-house is at the bottom of the bay. Just strive and keep up for a few
minutes longer, Innes, and we shall get over this night with all the

The sledge reached the promontory, and entered the wood. It was thick
and dark; and there was a rustling and crackling on every side, as the
dogs went bounding among the underwood--their ears and tails erected,
and opening from time to time in quick, sharp barkings, sure indications
that they deemed themselves near the close of their journey. The trees
began to open; and, descending an abrupt ice declivity, the travellers
found themselves on the edge of a narrow creek, that went winding into
the interior, between steep banks laden with huge piles of snow, which,
hollowed by the blast into a thousand fantastic forms, hung bellying
over the level. A log-house, buried half-way to the eaves in front, and
overtopped by an immense wreath behind--resembling some hapless vessel
in the act of foundering--occupied an inflection of the bank opposite
the promontory; and in a few minutes the travellers had crossed the
creek, and stood fronting the door.

"Ah, no kindly smoke comes frae the lum, Innes," said Sandy, leaping out
of the car; "all dark, too, as midnight at Yule; but we maun just bestir
ourselves, and get up a blaze. Do exert yourself, my bonny man, or we
shall perish yet. Unfasten the dogs, and be sure you hang up the harness
out of their reach, or the puir hungry wratches will eat it up, every
snap, afore morning. Unfasten the door, too, and get out our driest
skins and driest tinder; and I, meanwhile, shall provide you with
brushwood aneugh to keep up a bonfire till morning."

He seized an axe, and began to ply lustily among the underwood; while
his neighbour unharnessed the dogs, and, clearing the door, entered the
log-house, which soon began to throw up a thick steam through the snow.
We shall take the liberty of following him. The apartment was about ten
feet square; the walls formed of undressed logs, and the roof of
shingles. The snow peeped in a hundred different places through the
interstices; and a multitude of huge icicles, the effects of a late
partial thaw, hung half-way down from the ceiling to the floor, and now
glistened in the light, as the flames rose gaily on the hearth. The dogs
were whining and pawing in a corner, impatient for their evening repast.
In a few minutes Sandy had half-filled the apartment with brushwood, and
then set himself to assist his companion, who seemed but indifferently
skilled in the culinary art, in preparing supper, which consisted mostly
of frozen fish and biscuit, relished by a dram of excellent rum. It was
soon smoking on the floor, and, with the assistance of the dogs, soon
discussed; and the two fur-gatherers sat indulging in the genial heat,
with the long dark evening before them, and neither of them in the least
disposed to retire to the bed of brushwood and skins which they had
formed on the floor, immediately behind them.

"We are strange, changeable creatures," said Sandy--"the bairn sticks to
us a' life lang; and, if we dinna laugh, and cry just in the ae breath,
it's no that the feelings dinna vary, but that the pride o' consistency
winna always let us show what we feel. Little mair nor an hour ago, we
were baith perishin in the bitter cauld, half resigned to die, that we
might escape frae our misery, and noo here we are as happy as if there
were no such things as death or hardship i' the warld. Man, what a bonny
fire! I could maist forget that I was a puir Hudson's Bay fur-gatherer,
and that kindly Scotland was four thousand miles awa."

"What," said his companion, "could have induced a steady, sensible
fellow like you, Sandy, to indenture with the company? 'Tis easy to
divine what brought most of our comrades here--they resemble David's
associates in the Cave of Adullam; but you, who could have been neither
in debt nor distress, and who are always so much the reverse of
discontented--I could never guess what brought you. Come, now, let us
have your story; the night is long and tedious, and I know not how we
could pass it to better purpose."

"But I do," replied Sandy. "My story is nae story ava. I am but a rude
man amang rude men like mysel; but you, Innes, what could hae brought
you here? You are a gentleman and a scholar, though ye hae but sma'
skill, maybe, in niffering brandy and glass beads for the skins o'
foumarts; and your story, no a vera gay one, I fear, will hae a' the
interest o' an auld ballad. It's but fair, however, that ye should hae
mine, such as it is, first. But draw just a wee bittie out o' the
draught; for there's a cauld, bitter wind soughin ben frae the door--and
only hear how the storm rages arout!

"There's a curious prejudice," continued Sandy, "among our country
folks--and, I suppose, among the folks o' every other country
besides--against some particular handicrafts. It's foolish in maist
cases. The souters o' Selkirk were gallant fellows; and, had a' our
Scottish knights fought half as weel at Flodden, our country would hae
lost a battle less; and yet ye canna but ken how our auld poets o' the
time--Dunbar, and Kennedy, and Davie Lindsay--ridicule the puir souters.
They say that, once on a time, the vera deil himsel wadna keep company
wi' ane o' them, till he had first got the puir man to wash himsel. Now,
the prejudice against tailors is hardly less strong in our ain days; and
yet a tailor may be a stalwart fellow, and bear a manly heart. I'm no
sure, had it no been for this prejudice, that I would now hae been a
fur-gatherer on the shores o' Hudson's Bay."

"Would to heaven," exclaimed his companion, interrupting him, "that I
had been bred a tailor! I'm mistaken if any such prejudice would have
sent me across the Atlantic."

"We can be a' wise enough on our neebor's weaknesses, Innes," said
Sandy; "but to the story.

"I come frae a seaport town in the north o' Scotland, no twenty miles
frae Inverness, your ain bonny half-Hieland, half-Lowland home. My
father, who had married late in life, was an old grey-headed man from
the time I first remember him. He had a sma' family; and, in his anxiety
to see us a' doing for oursels, I was apprenticed to a tailor in my
tenth year. Weel do I mind wi' what a disconsolate feeling I left the
twa cows I used to herd on a bonny brae-side speckled wi' gowans and
buttercups, to be crumpled down on the corner o' a board hardly bigger
than an apron, amang shreds and patches o' a' the colours o' the
rainbow, wi' an outlook through a dusty window on the side wa's o' an
auld warehouse. And then my comrades were such queer fallows, fu o' a
droll, little, wee sort o' conceit, that could ride on the neck o' a new
button, and a warld o' fashious bits o' tricks, naething sae guid as the
tricks o' a jackanapes, but every grain as wicked; and aften hae they
played them aff on the puir simple laddie. There are nane o' our
craftsfolks, Innes, but hae some peculiarity to mark them that grows up
oot o' their profession; and there's nae class mair marked than the
class I belong to."

"I have read Lamb on the Melancholy of Tailors," said Innes, "and
remember laughing heartily at the quaint humour of some of his remarks;
but I never wasted a thought on the subject after laying him down."

"Ah, Lamb, wi' a' his bonny, bairn-like humour and simplicity," said
Sandy, "is but a Cockney feelosopher after a', and kent naething o' the
matter. Melancholy o' tailors, forsooth! Why, man, a Hieland tailor is
aye the heartiest cock, and has aye the maist auld stories i' the
parish. But I maun gie you the feelosophy o' the thing at some ither
time.--I got on but ill wi' my companions," continued Sandy; "and the
royitous laddies outside used to jibe me wi' no being a man sax years
afore I ceased being a boy. Is it no hard that tailors should lose the
reputation o' manhood through a stupid misconception o' the sense o' an
auld-warld author? He tells us the tailor canna mak a man, just in the
spirit that Burns tells us a king canna mak an honest man. And, instead
o' the pith o' the remark being brought to bear on the beau and the
coxcomb, wha never separate the human creature frae his dress, it's
brought, oot o' sheer misapprehension, to bear against the puir

"I see, Sandy," said Innes, with a smile, "you are still influenced by
_l'esprit de corps_. If you once get back to Scotland, you will take to
your old trade, and die a master tailor."

"I wish to goodness I were there to try!" replied Sandy. "But the story
lags wofully. I got on as I best could--longing sadly, i' the lang bonny
days o' simmer, to be oot amang the rocks o' the Sutors, or on the sea,
and in winter, thinking o' the Bay o' Udoll, wi' its wild ducks and its
swans, and o' the gran fun I could hae amang them wi' my auld
pistol--whan my master employed an auld ae-legged sodger to work wi' him
as a journeyman. He was a real fine fellow, save that he liked the drap
drink a wee owre weel, maybe; and he had wandered owre half the warld.
He had been in Egypt wi' Abercromby, and at Corunna wi' Moore, and o'er
a' Spain and at Waterloo wi' Wellington, and in mony a land and in mony
a fight besides; and noo he had come hame wi' a snug pension, and a
budget o' first-rate fine stories, that made the ears tingle and the
heart beat higher, to live and die amang his freends. Oh, the delight I
hae taen in that man's company! Why, Innes, at pension time, though I
never cared muckle for drink for its ain sake, I hae listened to his
stories i' the public-house till I hae felt my head spinnin round like a
tap, and my feet hae barely saired to carry me hame. I hae charged
Bonaparte's Invincibles wi' him, fifty and fifty times, and helped him
to carry aff Moore frae beside the thorn bush where he fell, and scaled
wi' him the breach at St Sebastian; and, in short, sae filled was I wi'
the spirit o' the sodger, that, had the wars no been owre, I would hae
broken my indentures, and gane awa to break heads and see foreign
countries. As it was, however, I learned to like my employment ten times
waur nor ever, and to break a head, noo and then, amang the town
prentices. Spite o' my close, in-door employment, I had grown stalwart
and strong; and I mind, on ae occasion, beating twa young fallows who
had twitted me on being but a _ninth_. Weel, the term o' my
apprenticeship cam till an end at last; and, flingin awa my thimble wi'
a jerk, and sendin my needle after it like an arrow, I determined on
seeing the warld. My crony, the auld veteran, advised me to enter the
army. I was formed baith in mind and body, he said, for a sodger; and if
I took but care--a thing he never could do himsel--I micht dee a
serjeant. But whatever love I micht hae for a guid fecht, I had nane for
the parade, and my thorough dread and detestation o' the halberds
o'er-mastered ony little ambition I micht hae indulged in when I dreamed
o' a battle. I thocht o' a voyage to Greenland--o' gangin a-sodgerin wi'
Lord Byron to Greece--o' emigratin to New South Wales or the Cape--o'
turnin a farmer in the backwoods--o' indenturin for a Jamaica
over-seer--o' goin oot to Mexica for a miner--ay, and o' fifty ither
plans besides--whan an adverteesement o' the Hudson's Bay Company caught
my notice, and determined me at once. I needna tell ye what the
directors promised to active young men: a paradise o' a country to live
in--the fun o' huntin and fishin frae Monday to Saturday nicht for our
only wark--and pocketfus o' money for our pay. I blessed my stars, and
closed wi' the agent at once. And now, here I am, Innes, in the seventh
year o' my service, no that meikle disposed to contemn my auld
profession, and mair nor half tired o' huntin, fishin, and seein the
warld. But just twa months mair, my boy, and I am free. And now, may I
no expect your story in turn?"

The wind, which had been rising since nightfall, now began to howl
around the log-house and through the neighbouring woods, like the roar
of the sea in a storm. There was an incessant creaking among the beams
of the roof, and the very floor at times seemed to rise and fall under
the foot, like the deck of a vessel which, after having lain stranded on
the beach, has just begun to float. The storm, which had been so long
impending, burst out in all its fury, and for some time the two
fur-gatherers, impressed by a feeling of natural awe, sat listening to
it in silence. The sounds rose and fell by intervals; at times sinking
into a deep, sullen roar, when all was comparatively still around; at
times swelling into thunder. In a pause of the blast, Sandy rose and
flung open the door. Day had sunk more than two hours before, and there
was no moon, but there was a strong flare of greenish-coloured light on
the snow, that served to discover the extreme dreariness of the scene;
and through a _bore_ in the far north, resembling, as Sandy said, the
opening of a dark lantern, he could see that, beyond the cloud, the
heavens were all a-flame with the aurora borealis. Earth and sky seemed
mingled; the snow, loose and fluctuating, and tossing its immense
wreaths to the hurricane, resembled the sea in a storm when the waves
run highest; the ice, though so deeply covered before, lay in some
places dark and bare, while in others, beneath the precipices, the drift
had accumulated over it to the depth of many fathoms. Again the blast
came roaring onwards with the fury of a tornado, and Sandy shut and
bolted the door.

"Ane o' the maist frightfu nichts, Innes," he said, "I ever saw in
America. It will be weel if we're no baith buried a hunder feet deep
afore mornin, wi' the log-house for our coffin. The like happened, about
twenty years syne, at Badger Hollow, where twa puir chields were covered
up till their skulls had grown white aneath their bannets. But though
alane, and in the desert, we're no oot o' the reach o' Providence yet."

"Ah no, my poor friend!" said Innes; "I do not feel, in these days, that
life is highly desirable; but nature shrinks from dissolution, and I am
still fain to live on. A poet, Sandy, would view our situation at
present with something like complacency; but I am afraid he would deem
your story, amusing as it is, little in keeping with the scene around
us, and a night so terrible as this. I can scarcely ask a tailor if he
remembers the little bit in 'Thalaba,' where the cave of the Lapland
sorceress is described? The long night of half-a-year has closed, and
wastes of eternal snow are stretching around; while in the midst, beside
her feeble light, that seems lost in the gloom of the cavern, the
sorceress is seated, ever drawing out and out from the revolving distaff
the golden thread of destiny."

"I mind better," replied Sandy, "Jamie Hogg's wild story o' my brother
craftsman, Allan Gordon, and how he wintered at the Pole in the cabin o'
a whomilt Greenlandman, wi' Nannie and a rum cask for his companions.
Dear me, how the roarins o' the bears outside used to amaze the puir
chield every time he was foolish aneugh to let himsel grow sober! But
gudesake, Innes, what's that?"

There was something sufficiently frightful in the interruption. A
fearfully-prolonged howl was heard outside, mingling with the hurricane,
and, in a moment after, the snorting and pawing of some animal at the
door. Sandy snatched up his musket, hastily examined the pan, to
ascertain that his powder had escaped the damp, and, setting it on full
cock, pointed it to the place whence the noises proceeded. Innes armed
himself with a hunting-spear. The sounds were repeated, but in a less
frightful tone: they were occasioned evidently by a dog whining for
admittance. "Some puir brute," said Sandy, "who has lost his master."
And, opening the door, a large Newfoundland dog came rushing into the
hut. With more than brute sagacity, he flung himself at the feet of the
fur-gatherers, as if imploring protection and assistance; and then,
springing up and laying hold of the skirts of Sandy's blanket, he began
to tug him violently towards the door.

"Let us follow the animal," said Innes; "it may be the means of rescuing
a fellow-creature from destruction; his master, I am convinced, is
perishing in the snow."

"I shall not fail you, Innes," exclaimed Sandy; and, hastily wrapping
their plaids around them, and snatching up, the one a loaded musket, the
other a bottle of spirits, the fur-gatherers plunged fearlessly into the
storm and the darkness.

A greenish-coloured light still glimmered faintly from the north,
through the thick drift and the falling snow, too faint, indeed, to
enable them to catch the outlines of surrounding objects, but sufficient
to show them the dog moving over the ice a few yards before them, like a
little black cloud. They followed hard in his track towards the bottom
of the creek. The steep banks on either hand contracted as they
advanced, till at length they could see their shagged summits high above
them in the darkness, and could hear the storm raging in the pines,
though it had become comparatively calm in the shelter below. The creek
at length terminated in a semicircular recess, surrounded by a steep
wall of precipices. The dog bounded forward to a fissure in the
rock--and there, at the edge of a huge wreath of snow, which half shut
up the entrance, lay what seemed, in the uncertain light, the dead body
of a man. The dog howled piteously over it, breathed hard in the face,
and then looked up imploringly to the fur-gatherers. Innes leaped over
the wreath, followed by Sandy, and, on raising up the body, found,
though the extremities were stiff and cold as the ice on which it lay,
that life was not yet extinct.

"Some unlucky huntsman," said Sandy; "we maun carry him, Innes, to the
log-house; life is sweet even among the deserts o' Hudson's Bay."

The perishing hunter muttered a few broken syllables, like a man in the
confusion of a dream. "It grows dark, Catherine," he said, "and I am
sick at heart, and cold."

"Puir, puir fallow!" exclaimed Sandy--"he's thinkin o' his wife or
sweetheart; but he'll no perish this time, Innes, if we can help it.
Pity, man, for the car and dogs; but minutes are precious, and we maun
just lug him wi' us as we best may."

Rolling their plaids around the almost lifeless stranger, the
fur-gatherers bore him away over the ice, the dog leaping and barking
with very joy before them; and in less than half-an-hour they had all
reached the log-house.

The means of restoring suspended animation, with which the casualties of
so many Hudson's Bay winters had made Sandy well acquainted, were
resorted to on this occasion with complete success; and the stranger
gradually recovered. He proved to be one of the most trusted and
influential of the company's managers--a native of Scotland, and much
loved and respected among the inferior retainers of the settlement, for
an obliging disposition and great rectitude of principle. He was a keen
sportsman, and had left his place of residence in the morning, on a
solitary hunting excursion, accompanied only by his dog. But, trusting
to his youth and strength, the enthusiasm of the hunter had drawn him
mile after mile from home; and, on the breaking out of the storm, he had
lost his way among the interminable bays and creeks of the lake. On his
recovery, he was profuse in his expressions of gratitude, and meant all
that he said. He was, perhaps, not much afraid to die, he remarked, but
then he had many inducements to live, and there were more than himself
who had a stake in his life, and who would feel grateful to his

"Compose yourself," said Innes; "you have been strangely tried to-night,
and your spirits are still much flurried. Set yourself to sleep, for
never had man more need; and my companion and I shall watch beside you
during the night. Remember you are our patient, and entirely under our
control." The manager good-humouredly acquiesced in the prescription,
and in a few minutes after was fast asleep.

"Now, Innes," said Sandy, "as there's to be no bed for us to-night, you
maunna forget that you're pledged to me for your story. Remember, my
bonny man, our bargain when ye got mine."

"I do remember," replied Innes; "but I well know you will be both tired
and sleepy ere I have done."

"I have long had a liking for you, Sandy," continued Innes--"I knew you
from the first to be a man of a different cast from any of our fellows;
and, ever since I saw you take part with the poor Indian, whom the two
drunken Irishmen attempted to rob of his rum and his wife, I have wished
for your friendship. It is not good for man to be alone, and I have been
much too solitary since I entered with the company. You were, when in
Scotland, the victim of a silly prejudice against a humble, but honest
calling, but you could have lived in it, notwithstanding, had not a love
for wandering drawn you abroad. I, on the contrary--thought like the
hare with many friends, I was a favourite with every one--was literally
starved out of it. My father was a gentleman farmer, not thirty miles
from Inverness, whom the high war prices of cattle and grain had raised
from comparative poverty to sudden, though short-lived, affluence. No
man could be more sanguine in his hopes for his children. He had three
boys, and all of us were educated for the liberal professions, in the
full belief that we were all destined to rise in the world, and become
eminent. Alas! my brother, the divine, died of a broken heart, a poor
over-toiled usher in an English academy; my brother, the doctor,
perished in Greenland, where he had gone as the surgeon of a whaler,
after waiting on for years in the hope of some better appointment; and
here am I, a lawyer--prepared to practise, as soon as we get courts
established among the red men of Hudson's Bay. But I anticipate. I am
not sure nature ever intended that I should stand high as a scholar; but
I was no trifler, and so passed through the classes with tolerable
_eclat_. I am not at all convinced, either, that I possess the
capabilities of a first-rate lawyer; but I am certain I have seen men
rise in the world with not more knowledge, and with, perhaps, even less
judgment to direct it. What I chiefly wanted, I suspect, was a genius
for the knavish parts of the profession. Will you believe me when I say
I have known as much actual crime committed in the office of a
pettifogging country lawyer, as I ever saw tried in a sheriff court. Oh,
what finished rascality have I not seen skulking under the shelter of
the statute-book!--what remorseless blackening of character, for the
sake of a paltry fee!--what endless breaches of promise!--what shameless
betrayals of trust!--what reckless waste of property! Sandy Munro, I am
a poor Hudson's Bay fur-gatherer, and can indulge in no other hope than
that I shall one day lay my bones at the side of some nameless creek or
jungle; but rather that, a thousand, thousand times, than affluence,
and influence, and respectability--ay, respectability--through the
wretched means by which I have seen all these secured!"

"You are an honest chield, Innes," said Sandy, grasping him by the hand.
"I have had a regard for you ever since I first saw you; and the mair I
ken o' you the mair my respect rises."

"My father," continued Innes, "was respectably connected; I had a turn
for dress, a tolerably genteel figure, and was fond of female society;
and, during the four years I served with the lawyer in Inverness, I
found myself a welcome guest in all the more respectable circles of the
place. Scarcely a tea-drinking or dancing party was got up among the
_élite_ of the burgh, but I was sure of an invitation. I danced, played
on the flute, handed round the tea and the sweetmeats--all _par
excellence_--and was quite an adept in the art of speaking a great deal
without saying anything. In short, I became a most accomplished
trifler--an effect, perhaps, of my very imperfect love of my profession.
The men who rise to eminence, you know, rarely begin their course as
fine fellows; and were it not for a circumstance to which I owe more of
my happiness and more of my misery than to any other, I would have had
to attribute my failure in life less to an untoward destiny than to the
dissipation of this period. But I was taught diligence by the very means
through which most young people are _un_taught it. I fell in love. There
was a pretty, simple lassie, the daughter of one of the bailies of the
place, whom I used frequently to meet with in our evening parties, and
with whose appearance I was mightily taken from the moment I first saw
her. She united, in a rare degree, all the elegance of the young lady
with all the simplicity of the child; and, with better sense than falls
to the share of nineteen-twentieths of her sex, was more devoid than any
one I ever knew of their characteristic cunning. You have heard, I
daresay, that young ladies are anxious about getting husbands; but,
trust me, it is all a mistake. The anxiety is too natural a one to be
experienced by so artificial a personage as the mere young lady. It is
not persons but things she longs after--settlements, not sweethearts. I
have had a hundred young-lady friends, who liked my youth and gentility,
and who used to dance, and romp, and chat with me, with all the
good-will possible, but who thought as little of me as a sweetheart as
if I were one of themselves. Thoughts of that tender class were to be
reserved for some rich Indian, with a complexion the colour of a
drum-head, and a liver like a plum-pudding. This bonny lassie, however,
was born--poor thing!--with natural feelings. We met, and learned to
like one another; we sang and laughed together; talked of scenery and
the _belles lettres_; and, in short, lost our hearts to one another ere
we so much as dreamed that we had hearts to lose. You must be in love,
Sandy, ere all I could tell you could give you adequate notions of the
happiness I have enjoyed with that bonny, kind-hearted lassie. Love, I
have said, taught me diligence. I applied to my profession anew,
determined to be a lawyer, and the husband of Catherine. I waded through
whole tomes of black-letter statutes, studied my way over forty folios
of decisions, and did what I suppose no one ever did before--read Grigor
on the Game-laws. Not half-a-dozen practitioners in the country could
draw out a deed of settlement with equal adroitness--not one succeeded
in putting fewer double meanings into a will. My master used to consult
me on conveyancing; and when, at the expiry of my term, I left his
office and set up for myself, you will not wonder it was with the hope
that my at least average acquirements would secure for me an average
portion of success. You will see how that hope was realised.

"The father of my sweetheart was, as I have said, a Inverness bailie;
he was extensively engaged in trade, and all deemed him a rising man;
but the case was otherwise. An unlucky speculation, and the unexpected
failure of a friend, involved him in ruin; and I saw his office shut up
not three weeks after I had opened my own. A week after brought me the
intelligence of my father's death. He had been sinking in the world for
years before; getting, much against his will, into arrears with every
one; and now, immediately on his death, all his effects were seized by
the laird. He was an easy-tempered, obliging man--credulous and
confiding--and hence, perhaps, his misfortunes. You will deem me cold
and selfish, Sandy, to speak in this way of my father; and yet, believe
me, I felt as a son ought to feel; but repeated blows have a stupefying
effect, and I can now tell you, with scarcely a twinge, of hopes
blighted and friends lost. All my hopes of rising by my profession soon
failed me. No one entered my office. Though not without some confidence
in my acquirements, as you may see, I have ever had a sort of shamefaced
bashfulness about me, that has done me infinite harm. People were afraid
to trust their cases with one who seemed to mistrust himself--the
forward, the impudent, and the unprincipled carried off all the
employment, and I was left to starve."

"Honest, unlucky chield!" ejaculated Sandy, with a profound yawn. "One
might guess, by the way ye bargain wi' the Indians, that ye hae a vast
deal owre little brass for makin a fortune by the law. But what cam o'
your puir simple lassie, Innes, when her father broke?"

"Ah, dear, good girl," replied Innes, "with all her simplicity, she was,
by much, better fitted for making her way through the world than her
lover. She was highly accomplished, drew beautifully, read Chateaubriand
in the original, and had a pretty taste for music. Through the
recommendation of a friend, she was engaged as governess in the family
of a Highland proprietor, in which, when I left Scotland, she continued
to be employed--well, I trust, for her own happiness--usefully, I am
sure, for others. I shall forget many things, Sandy, ere I forget the
day I passed with her on the green top of _Tomnahurich_, ere we parted,
as it proved, for ever. You know that beautiful hill--the queen of all
our Highland _Tomhans_--with the long winding canal on the one side, and
the brattling Ness on the other, and surrounded by an assemblage of the
loveliest hills that ever dressed in purple and blue. It was a beautiful
day in early spring, and the sun shone cheerily on a hundred white
cottages at our feet, each looking out from its own little thicket of
birch and laburnum, and on the distant town, with its smoke-wreath
resting over it, and its two old steeples rising through. The world was
busy all around us: we could see the ploughman following his team, and
the mariner warping onward his vessel; the hum of eager occupation came
swelling with the breeze from the far-off streets--and yet there was I,
a poor supernumerary among the millions of my countrymen, parting almost
broken-hearted from her whom I loved better than myself, just because
there was no employment for me. Oh, the agony of that parting! But 'tis
passed, Sandy, and 'tis but folly thus to recall it. No one, as I have
already told you, ever thought of entering my office--no one, save my
landlord and the old woman with whom I lived; and you may believe there
was little of comfort in their visits. I was in arrears to the one for
rent, and to the other for lodging. So far was I reduced, that, in
passing through the old woman's room, I have been fain to take a potato
from off her platter, and that single potato has formed my meal for the
time. On one occasion I was for two days together without food."

"Goodness gracious!" exclaimed Sandy--"what came o' a' the grand freends
that used to gie ye the teas and suppers? Had they nae bowels ava?"

"I would sooner have starved, Sandy, than have made my wants known to
the best of them. But there was one on whom I had a nearer claim, to
whom I applied in vain--a brother of my father--a close old hunks, who,
though he had realised thousands as a ship-broker in London, had not
heart enough to part with a shilling for the benefit of his poor nephew.
But I believe the wretched man was well-nigh as unkind to himself as he
was to me, and, in the midst of his wealth, fared nearly as ill. You are
getting sleepy, Sandy, and I daresay 'tis little wonder you should; but
I find a melancholy satisfaction in thus retracing the untoward events
of the past, which I am certain I could not feel, did conscience whisper
that my misfortunes were in any great degree owing to myself. Well, but
to conclude. I became squalid and shabby; all the ladies sent me to
Coventry, and all the gentlemen spurned me as a fellow of no spirit. I
had mistaken my profession, it was said; and blockheads, who had been
guiltless of a single new idea all their lives long, used to repeat from
one another that my father, in making a wretched lawyer of me, had
spoiled a good ploughman. I could bear no longer. The Hudson's Bay
Company had an agent, you know, at Inverness. I called on him one
evening after a day of fasting and miserable low spirits--and now here I
am, in the second year of my service with the company."

"But, how, Innes, man," inquired Sandy, "could ye hae found heart to
leave Scotland, without seein the puir lassie, your sweetheart? Do ye
ken aught o' her now?"

"Know of her!" exclaimed Innes; "alas! I too surely know I have lost
her. The last thing but one that I did ere I sailed from Stromness, was
to write her to say how I had fallen from all my hopes regarding her,
and to bid her forget me; the very last thing I did was to cry over a
kind, cheerful letter, which had followed me all the way from Inverness,
and in which she urged me to keep up my heart, for that all would yet be
well with us. Little did she know, when writing it, what I was on the
eve of becoming--a poor vagabond fur-gatherer on the wild shores of
Hudson's Bay. Dear, generous girl! I trust she is happy."

"May I ask," said the manager, who, unknown to the two fur-gatherers,
had lain awake for some time, listening to the narrative--"may I ask if
you are not Innes Cameron, late of Inverness, only surviving son of
Colin Cameron of Glendocharty, and nephew of the lately deceased Malachi
Cameron, of Upper Thames Street, London?"

"I am that Innes Cameron," said the fur-gatherer; "and so my poor old
uncle is dead?"

"And having died intestate," continued the manager, "you, as
heir-at-law, succeed to his entire estate, personal and real, consisting
of a property of a few hundred acres in the vicinity of Inverness, and
twenty thousand pounds vested in the three per cents. A considerable
remittance from London has been waiting you for the last month at the
Hawk River Settlement, and, what you will deem very handsome in the
circumstances, a free discharge from the company for your five remaining
years' servitude. I am acting manager at the River, and to my care the
whole has been committed."

Innes seemed astounded by the intelligence; his gayer companion leaped
up and performed a somerset on the floor.

"Innes, Innes, Innes!" he exclaimed, "why are ye no dancin?--why are ye
no dancin? Did I no ken ye were born to be a gentleman? I maun hae a
double glass to drink luck to ye; and I'm sure the manager winna say no.
Goodness, man, it's the best news I hae heard in America yet!"

Morning at length broke--a calm, clear morning, for the clouds had
passed away with the storm--and the travellers, after sharing in an
ample, though not very delicate, repast, prepared to set out on their
journey. The dogs were harnessed, and the car laden. The manager, who,
from the fatigue and exhaustion of the previous night, still felt
indisposed, was mounted in front; the two fur-gatherers were lacing on
their snow-shoes to follow on foot. At length the sun rose far to the
south, through a deep frosty haze, that seemed to swaddle the horizon
with a broad belt of russet, and the travellers set out in the direction
of a distant promontory of the lake. The snow all around, the woods that
rose thick over the level, the overhanging banks of the lake, the hills
in the far distance, were all bathed in one rich glow of crimson, that
more than emulated the blush of a summer's evening at sunset; the
shadows of the travellers, as they stretched for many fathoms across the
lake, had each a moon-like halo round the head, like the glory in an old
painting; and the very air, laden with frost rime, sparkled to the sun,
like the gold water of the chemist. The scene was altogether strangely,
I had almost said unnaturally, beautiful; it was one of those which,
once seen, are never forgotten.

"You have been silent, Innes," said Sandy, "for the last half-hour, and
look as wae and anxious as if some terrible mishanter had befallen ye.
I'll wad the best quid in my spleuchan, ye hae been thinkin about
Catherine Roberts, and o' your chance o' findin her single. I'd advise
ye, man, just for fear o' a disappointment, to marry the manager's
sister: she's ane o' the best, bonny lassies I ever saw, and plays
strathspeys and pibrochs like an angel. Oh, had ye but heard her at
'Lochaber no more,' and the 'Flowers o' the Forest,' ye wad hae grat
like a bairn, as I did. Dear me, but she's a fine lassie! Had I as mony
thousands as ye hae, Innes, I wad marry her mysel."

"How came you to hear her music?" asked Innes, in a tone that showed he
took but little interest in the query.

"Ah, there's a story belongs to that question," replied Sandy. "It's
about a month or twa mair nor a twelvemonth noo, sin Tam M'Intyre and I
set out frae Racoon Settlement, on ane o' the weariest and maist
desperate journeys I have yet taen in America. About Christmas, a
huntsman, in passing the settlement, tauld us there was to be a grand
ball on New-year's Day at the Hawk River, and that there were to be four
Scotch lassies at it, who had come owre the simmer afore, forbye a
bonnie young leddie, the manager's sister. The River, ye ken, is no
mickle aboon twa hundred miles frae Racoon Settlement, and Tam M'Intyre
and I, who for five years hadna seen a living creature liker a woman
than an Indian squaw, resolved on going to the ball, to see the lassies.
We yoked our sledges on a snell frosty morning, set out across the great
lake, and reached the log-house at Bear's Point about dark. We got up a
rousin fire, and drunk maybe a glass or twa extra owre our cracks about
Scotland and the lassies; but I'll tak my aith on't there was neither o'
us meikle the waur. But, however it happened, about midnight we baith
awakened mair nor half scomfisht, and there was the roof in a bright
lowe aboon our heads. M'Intyre singed a' his whiskers and eebrees in
getting out; I was luckier, and escaped wi' the loss only o' my blanket
and our twa days' provisions. But we just couldna help it; and, yokin
our dogs by the light o' the burnin, aff we set, weel aware that we wad
baith miss our breakfasts or we reached the Hawk River. We travelled a'
that day and a' the next nicht, the dogs hearty and strong, puir brutes,
for we had been lucky aneugh to get the hinder half o' a black fox in a
trap--the other half had been eaten by the wolves; but oursels, Innes,
were like to famish. When mornin came, we were within thirty miles o'
the Hawk River. There was little wind, but the frost burned like het
iron. I dinna remember a sneller morning. M'Intyre had to thaw his nose
three times, and my chin and ears had twice got as hard as bits o'
stockfish. We had rubbed off a' the skin in trying to mak the blood
circulate, and baith our faces had so swelled out o' the size, and
shape, and colour o' humanity, that, when we reached the settlement, we
were fain to steal into an outside hut, just that the lassies mightna
see us. Man, but it was a sair begeck! The ball night came, and we were
still uglier than ever, and I thought I wad hae gane daft wi' vexation.
We could hear the noise o' the fiddles, and the dancin--and that was
just a'. M'Intyre had some thoughts o' hangin himsel oot o' spite. Just
when we were at the warst, however, a genteel tap comes to the door; and
there there was a smart bonny lassie wi' a message to us frae her
mistress, the manager's sister. We were asked down, she said; her
mistress, hearing o' our misluck, and that we had baith come frae the
north country, had got up a snug little supper for us, where there would
be none to ferlie at us, and was noo waitin our comin. Was this no kind,
Innes? I made a veil o' my plaid as I best could, M'Intyre muffled
himself up in a napkin, and aff we went to the manager's. But, oh man!
sic kindness frae sae sweet a leddy! She sang and played till us--and
weel did it set her to do baith; and mixed up our toddy for us--for we
were gey blate, as ye may think; and, on takin our leave, she shook
hands wi' us as gin we had been her equals. I've never been fule aneugh
to be in love, Innes--beggin your pardon for sayin sae--but I feel I
could lay down my life for that bonny lassie ony day. Weel, but
kindliness is a kindly thing!"

"What is the young lady's name?" inquired Innes, with some eagerness, as
a sudden thought came across him. "Her brother, I think, calls her

"Ah, no your Catherine, though," said Sandy; "the manager's name is
Pringle, ye ken, and that's no Roberts."

"I am a fool," replied Innes, with a sigh; "and you see it, Sandy."

The track pursued by the party, which had hitherto lain along the edge
of the lake, now ascended the steep wooded bank which hung over it, and,
after winding for several miles through a series of shaggy thickets,
with here and there an intervening swamp, opened into an extensive
plain. A few straggling clumps of copsewood served to enliven the
otherwise unvaried surface, and, in the far distance, there was a range
of snowy hills that seemed to rise directly over a deep narrow valley in
which the plain terminated. There was no wind, and a column of smoke,
which issued from the centre of a distant wood, arose majestically in
the clear sunshine, till, reaching a lighter stratum of air, it spread
out equally on every side, like the foliage of a stately tree.

"Some Indian settlement," said the manager. "There is much of beauty in
this wild scene, Mr Cameron--beauty merging into the sublime; and the
poor red men, its sole inhabitants, form exactly the sort of figures one
would choose to introduce into such a landscape. I am now much more a
lover of such scenes than before my sister joined me."

"A taste for the wild and savage seems to be an acquired one," remarked
Innes; "a taste for the beautiful is natural. Certainly the first comes
later in life to the individual, and it is scarcely ever found among the
uneducated. One of the finest wild scenes in Ross-shire--a deep, rocky
ravine, overhung with wood, and with a turbulent Highland stream roaring
through it--is known by all the country folk in the neighbourhood by the
name of the Ugly Burn."

"The remark chimes in with my experience," said the manager. "I ever
admired the beautiful; but it was Catherine who first taught me to
admire the sublime. There is a savagely wild scene before us, where I
can now spend whole hours in the fine summer evenings, but which I used
to regard, only a few years ago, as positively a disagreeable one. But
such scenes make ever the deepest impression, whether the mind be
cultivated or no."

"Ay, Mr Pringle," remarked Sandy; "and frae that I draw my main
consolation for havin spent sae mony o' my best years in gatherin skins
for a wheen London merchants."

"How?" inquired the manager.

"Why, I just find that I am to bring hame wi' me recollections and
impressions aneugh to ser' me a' my life after; recollections o' mony a
desert prairie, and mony a fearfu storm--o' encounters wi' wild beasts
and wild men--o' a' that we deem hardship now, but which we will find it
pleasure to dwell on afterwards."

"Thank you for the remark, Sandy!" said Innes; "I find I am to bring
home with me something of that kind, too."

Towards the close of the day, the course of the travellers had lain
along the banks of the river; the waters were bound, from side to side,
with a broad belt of ice, but, at the rapids, they could hear them
growling beneath, like a wild beast in its den; and, just as the evening
was beginning to darken, they descended into a deep hollow, surrounded
by immense precipices and overhung by trees, into the upper part of
which the stream precipitated itself in one unbroken sheet of foam,
which had resisted the extremest influence of the frost. Innes thought
he had never before seen a scene of wilder or more savage grandeur.
There was a lofty amphitheatre of rock all around; the centre was
occupied by a dark mossy basin, in which the waters boiled and bubbled
as in a huge caldron; a broad, level strip, edged with trees and bushes,
lay immediately under the precipices; and, directly beneath the
cataract, there was a fantastic assemblage of tall riven peaks, laden
with icicles, that seemed in the gloom a conclave of giants. A deep,
gloomy cavern, whose echoes answered incessantly to the roar of the
torrent, opened behind and under it; while, immediately in front, there
rose a large circular mound, roughened with a multitude of lesser
hillocks, and now wrapped up, like all the rest of the landscape, in a
deep covering of snow.

"'Tis an Indian burying-place," said the manager, pointing to the mound;
"wild and savage, you see, as the people who have chosen it for their
final resting-place. These hillocks are sepulchral cairns. My sister
spends most of her summer evenings here--for we are now little more than
a mile from the settlement; and she has taught me to be well-nigh as
fond of it as herself. Should she die in this country, I am pledged to
lay her among the poor Indians. There are strange stories among them of
yonder cave and cataract--the one is a place of purification, they say,
the other, a way to the land of spirits. I am certain you will feel much
interest, Mr Cameron, in discussing with Catherine what she terms the
beginnings of mythology, as illustrated by this place. She has naturally
an original and highly vigorous mind, and her father (by the way, she is
but a half-sister of mine) spared no pains in cultivating it. But now
that we have gained the ridge, yonder is the settlement; see--that
higher light comes from Catherine's window. Trust me, you may calculate
on her warmest gratitude for what her brother owes you."

Hawk River Settlement is situated in the middle of a valley, surrounded
by low, swelling hills, with a river in front, and a deep pine-wood
behind. It forms a small straggling village, composed mostly of
log-houses, with a range of stone and lime buildings--the store places
of the company--rising in the centre. On reaching the manager's house--a
handsome erection of two storeys--Innes and his companion were shown
into a small, but very neat parlour. There were books, musical
instruments, and drawings. The very arrangement of the furniture showed
the delicate and nicely-regulated taste of an accomplished female. The
shutters were fast barred, there were candles burning on a neat mahogany
table, and the cheerful wood-fire glowed through the bars of a grate,
and threw up a broad powerful flame, that, in the intense frost, roared
in the chimney.

"Ah," said Innes to the manager, "your neat, Scotch-looking parlour
brings Scotland to my mind, and my old evening parties; it reminds me,
too, that a dress of skins is not quite the fittest for meeting a young
lady in. Can you not indulge me with a change of dress?"

"Ah, how stupid I am," replied the manager, "not to have thought of
that! Attribute it all to my eagerness to introduce you to Catherine.
There is a whole chestful of clothes from London waiting you below. Come
this way. We shall join you, Sandy, in less than twenty minutes, when Mr
Cameron has made his toilet; and Catherine, meanwhile, will find what
amusement for you she can."

On their return, Catherine and the fur-gatherer were engaged in

She was a lady of about two-and-twenty; paler of cheek and sparer of
form than she had been once; for there was an indescribable something in
her expression that served to tell of sufferings long endured, and
exertions painfully protracted; but she was still eminently beautiful;
and there was an air of mingled spirit and good-nature in the light of
her fine black eyes, and the smile that seemed lurking about her mouth,
that might well be termed fascinating. Sandy had evidently felt its
influence ere his companion entered the room.

"And what," eagerly inquired the lady, as the manager opened the door,
"is the name of your companion, the man to whom, with you, my brave,
warmhearted countryman, I owe the life of my brother?"

"Good heavens!" ejaculated Innes, springing forward, "can it be
possible?--Catherine Roberts, the best, truest, dearest of all my

"Innes Cameron!" exclaimed Catherine; and in one moment of intense,
life-invigorating joy, whole years of suffering were forgotten.

But why lengthen a story rapidly hastening to its conclusion, in the
vain attempt to describe what, from its very nature, must always elude
description? Never was there a happier evening passed on the shores of
Hudson's Bay.

It has long since become a truism, that, when fortune ceases to
persecute a man, his story ceases to interest. It was certainly so with
Innes Cameron and his story. Few men could be happier than he for the
two months he remained at Hawk River Settlement. When, however, the ice
broke up, and vessel after vessel began to arrive from Europe, he had
become happier still; and when, about the middle of summer, he sailed
for Stromness, in the good ship Falcon, accompanied by Miss Roberts and
his old comrade, Sandy, there was yet a further accession to his
happiness. An old file of Inverness newspapers, from which I manage to
extract a good deal of amusement in the long winter evenings--for no one
writes more pleasingly than Carruthers--shows me that his enjoyments
were not wholly full, until after his arrival in Scotland, when he was
married, says the paper, "at Belville Cottage, by the Rev. Dr Rose, to
the beautiful and highly accomplished Miss Catherine Roberts." I find,
in a more recent number of the same newspaper, a very neat description
of a masonic procession in one of our northern towns. "There is, to a
native of Scotland," says the editor, "something very pleasing in the
contemplation of a goodly assemblage of Scotchmen, powerful in muscle
and sinew--suited either to repulse or invade--to preserve the fame of
their country, or to extend it; and this feeling was of general
experience among the people of Sutorcreek on Friday last. After the
brethren had paraded the streets, they returned to their lodge, where
dinner was prepared for them, and where, after choosing Mr Alexander
Munro, late of Hudson's Bay, as their master for the ensuing year, they
spent the evening in meet cordiality." And here my story ends. The lives
of a country gentleman, of superior talent and worth, and a shrewd,
honest mechanic--varied only by those migrations which the Vicar of
Wakefield describes--migrations from the blue room to the brown, or from
the workshop to the street--however redolent of happiness and comfort to
themselves, furnish the writer with but little scope for either
narrative or description.



On a certain vacation-day of August, of which I have still a vivid
recollection, I fished in Darr Water; and with so much success, that
night had gathered over me ere I was aware. I was at this moment fully
fifteen miles from home, in a locality unmarked by one single feature of
civilisation; for here neither plough, nor sickle, nor spade had ever
made an impression. For anything I knew to the contrary, there was not a
human habitation nearer than ten miles. I was loaded down to the very
earth with fish, and not a little fatigued by the forenoon's travel and
sport. It behoved me, however, at all events and risks, to set my face
homewards; and, although I might have followed the Darr till it united
with the Clyde, and thus made my way with a certainty home at last, yet
I preferred retracing my steps, and saving at least a dozen of miles of
mountain travel. But the mist was close and crawly, lying before me in
damp, danky obscurity; and the wind, which during the day had amounted
to a breeze, was now wrapped up, and put to rest in a wet blanket. All
was still, except the voice of the plover, mire-snipe, and peese-weep.
The moss or muir, or something partaking of the nature of both, and
rightly neither, was lone, uniform, and unmarked; it was like sailing
without star or compass over the Pacific. Meanwhile, day, which seemed
to be desirous of accelerating its departure, disappeared, and I was
left alone in my wilderness. I could not even lie down to rest, for the
spongy earth gave up its moisture in jets and squirts. I hurried on,
however, following my breath, which smoked like a furnace amidst the
mountain mist, and trailing my fish, in a large _bag_, after me. I had
killed somewhere about sixteen dozen. At last I gained a small stream,
and, as I have an instinctive liking for all manner of streams, I was
led by the ear along its course, till I found myself in a close ravine
or dell, surrounded on each hand by steep grassy ascents, scaurs and
rocks. I kept by the voice of the water, which now fell more
contractedly over gullet and precipice, till at last, to my infinite
delight, I heard, or thought I heard, the bark of a dog; and in a few
seconds one of these faithful animals occupied the steep above me,
giving audible intimation of my unlooked-for presence. The shepherd's
voice followed hard behind; and I never was happier in my life than on
the recognition of a fellow-creature. My tale was soon told, and as
readily understood and believed. To travel home on such a night was out
of the question; so I was conducted to the shepherd's sheiling--to that
covert in the wilderness in which there is more downright shelter,
comfort, and happiness than in town palaces; for comfort and happiness
are inmates of the bosom rather than of the home.

My entrance was welcomed by the shepherd's wife and an only daughter.
There was likewise a young lad, of about twelve years, who was the
younger of two sons, the elder being dead. Servants there were none; for
where all serve themselves, there is no need of what the Americans call
"helps." Nothing could exceed the kind hospitalities of this family; the
very dogs, with a couple of young puppies, gathered round me. They
licked the wet from my legs and clothes, and seemed sufficiently
satisfied even with a _look_ of approbation. My supper was the
uncelebrated, but unequalled, Dumfries-shire feast--champit
potatoes. I slept soundly till morning; and, after a breakfast of
porridge--"Scotland's halesome food"--and learning that the young and
beautiful woman, the shepherd's daughter, was to be married on Saturday
eight-days, I bent my way homewards, to hear and bear merited reproof
for the anxiety which my absence (which was, however, luckily attributed
to a stolen visit to an aunt) had occasioned.

Saturday eight-days dawned, and by this time I had resumed my fishing
preceptor and companion, _Willie Herdman_, to accompany me to the
mountains, thinking to decoy him, as it were, to the neighbourhood of
the wedding, and there to treat him with a view of the happy party and
blooming bride. I kept my own secret, and we were within a mile of the
sheiling ere I disclosed it. It was then about two o'clock, and, so far
as we could guess, precisely the marriage dinner-hour. Willie, who was
an old soldier, had no objection to join in the merriment, nor to drink
a glass to the future happiness of the young folks. So on we trudged,
our lines rolled up, and our fishing-wallet (for baskets we had none)
properly adjusted. We soon caught the descending stream; and, at a
pretty sharp turning, came all at once within view of the hospitable
cottage; but, to our surprise, there was neither noise nor
cavalcade--all was desolation and silence around. The very dogs rather
seemed to challenge than to invite our advance, and neither smoke nor
bustle indicated any preparation. At first I thought that I had mistaken
my way, and was upon the point of entering, to ascertain the fact, when
the shepherd presented himself in the doorway. I then could hear the
voice of mourning--"Rachel weeping" within, and the boy lying across a
half-demolished hay-rick, crying and sobbing as if his heart would
burst. The face of the shepherd was blank and awful--it was as if by a
sudden concussion of the brain he had lost all recollection of the past.
He stood leaning against both lintels of the door, and neither advanced
nor retreated. At last, hearing the voice of lamentation wax louder and
louder behind him, he turned suddenly round, and disappeared. Impressed
with the belief that something terrible had happened, but not knowing
the nature or extent of it, I advanced to the boy, with whom, as a
fellow-fisher in the mountain streams, I had made up an acquaintance at
the former meeting, and, taking him firmly by the shoulder, endeavoured
to turn his face towards me; but he kept it concealed in the hay, and
refused either commiseration or comfort. The very dogs seemed aware of
the calamity, and one of them howled mournfully from the corner of a
peat-stack adjoining. At last a woman, with whom I was totally
unacquainted, emerged from the doorway, and informed us of the cause of
all this lamentation. She had been sent for as a relation from a
distance, and had only arrived a few hours before. The particulars were
as follows:--Two days previous to the day set apart for the marriage,
the young, light-hearted, and blooming bride had been employed in
building a rick or stack of bog-hay, for winter fodder to the cow. She
was in the act of completing the erection, and standing on the
contracted apex, when her foot slipped, and she fell head foremost, and
at once dislocated her neck. Had there been immediate medical assistance
(as had been injudiciously communicated to the family), the fatal
accident might have been remedied; but, alas! there was not, and, long
ere surgical aid could be procured, the ill-fated bride had ceased to

The first thought of the household had been directed towards the
bridegroom, who had, ever since the fatal tidings, lost his reason, and
become apparently fatuous, ever and anon insisting that the wedding
should take place "for a' that!"

We did not deem it proper, nor would it have been so, to inflict our
presence upon such a household. And for months after, I never slept
without dreaming of this incident, and of the distressed family--of
whose future fortunes I know nothing further.


There are many individuals who think they are safe if they act within
the strict letter of the law of the land, although they transgress the
precepts of Holy Writ, as well as the dictates of their conscience.
There is a wide field of right and wrong, good and evil, within the
lines of demarcation drawn by legislators or moralists; and as the acts
therein performed are equally removed from punishment and reward, the
merit of the actors is the greater, the less they are influenced by the
hope of praise or the fear of censure. It would, indeed, be as absurd
for an individual to say that he cannot be blamed if he acts within the
law, as for another to allege that he can do no good unless his actions
are blazoned in the columns of a newspaper, after the fashion of the
five-pound donations of dukes and duchesses; but, clear as the
proposition is, there are many who pretend to say that it is far from
being self-evident. To such mole-eyed moralists, the best lesson is one
derived from a practical example drawn from life; and we shall, as
public moral teachers, in our humble sphere, proceed to lay one, not, we
hope, altogether divested of amusement, before our readers.

The remembrance of the strange individual, Michael Maxwell, who lived,
in the end of the last century, in the village of Gretna, so famed for
irregular marriages, is not, it is supposed, yet extinct. He was the son
of a small farmer, called David Maxwell, who claimed relationship to the
Maxwells of Tinwald; and having died when Michael was still young, left
him to the care of his mother, without, however, any means of support.
His friends gave him a little education, and endeavoured to prevail
upon him to learn some trade; but early habits of roving, and living on
the chance occurrences of the day--perhaps strengthened by the continued
assistance of his mother's friends, who got her a small house, with an
acre or two of ground, for a trifling rent, and thus furnished some
occasion for his services (when these could be procured) at
home--rendered all kinds of business disagreeable to him.

He became remarkable, as he grew up, for great strength, strong love of
enterprise, and amazing bodily agility, so that no man in that part of
Dumfries-shire could cope with him at the games of the neighbourhood, or
in personal contest. Of these gifts he was prouder than those who are
possessed of undisputed superiority, in any respect, generally are; but
he claimed also the possession of other qualities, which are not often
found associated with those we have mentioned: an adroit cunning, or
Scottish sagacity, and certain powers of humour, on which he plumed
himself more than on his bodily strength and agility. In his trials of
strength with the English, whom he loved to vanquish, he sometimes
contrived to bring all those qualities into operation at once--a feat in
which he delighted. Giving his English vaunting opponent in a wrestling
match every advantage, he allowed him gradually to get more confident
and proud of his anticipated victory, wiled him on to greater exertions
and more impertinent boastings, and, when he saw him rising on his
tiptoe for the last triumphant throw, laid him on his back like a child,
amidst the mirth and applause of the assembled crowds.

It was a problem which few of the people about Gretna even attempted to
solve, how Mike Maxwell, as he was called, lived; and how he contrived
to keep a swift black mare always well fed and redd, besides supporting
his old mother, apparently from the proceeds of a small mailing of
ground, formed an addition to the difficulty, and set the wits of the
wiseacres at defiance. Some supposed that he had a secret intercourse
with the smugglers of the Solway, and that he kept the horse for the
purpose of aiding him in directing the contraband dealers on what part
of the coast to land their commodities; others again surmised that he
was secretly employed by the village secular-marriage priest, to act as
_avant courier_ to runaway couples, whom, by leading through circuitous
roads, he might enable to escape from their pursuers.

Of all those who speculated on the subject, none felt a greater interest
in the mystery than a young Englishwoman of the name of Alice Parker,
the daughter of a widow who lived on the English side of the Borders,
and with whom Maxwell had been long on habits of great intimacy,
notwithstanding of an indomitable prejudice he entertained against her
country and countrymen. The great leveller of all distinctions of rank
shows little respect for national prejudices; the two were devoted to
each other, and would have been united, if he would have complied with
her repeated request, to satisfy her as to the means whereby he
maintained himself, and would maintain her. The condition of the young
woman was reasonable; and one night, as she was accompanying him a short
way on his road homewards, she pressed the point with so much force,
that Maxwell could scarcely resist an explanation.

"It is not I alone," said she, "who feel a curiosity on this subject,
which perhaps you may think only concerns yourself. The inhabitants of
the surrounding country all know you, in consequence of the fame of your
strength; and my countrymen of Cumberland, by token of their broken
limbs and dislocated joints, know you in particular to their cost. It is
to this fame, which you yourself have produced, that you owe the
curiosity that is entertained about your means of living; for your
maimed enemies would fain make out that you betake yourself to the
highway--a very convenient and satisfactory way of accounting for the
mystery, as it includes an explanation of your object in keeping Black
Bess there; who, as I mention her name, looks about to chide me for the

"Weel may she," answered Maxwell, "for it is a foul charge; and if I
knew wha originated it, I wad mak the place o' him it sprang frae (his
head) sae dizzy that he wad be at some loss again to find it. But is it
no yersel, Alice, wha maks the charge, and faithers it on the hail o'
Cumberland, to force me to gie ye an explanation, which, after a', ye
dinna need? The mailin I rent frae Laird Dempster keeps Bess, the
kailyard my mither, and" (smiling, and taking his companion round the
neck) "a man in love, Alice, needs little meat."

"No one has any chance with you, Mike," replied she. "Your arm lays your
foes on the ground, and your Scottish tongue, made supple by cunning,
baffles all attempts to reach your judgment; yet you have not succeeded
in this instance, for you tell me in plain terms that, if I marry you, I
must live on love. That sounds not well in the land of roast beef, of
which I am as fond as my neighbours; so you shall be no husband of

"You forget, Alice," said Maxwell, still smiling, "the three weeks ye
lay in bed sick wi' love, when I left ye for Bridget o' the Glen. How
muckle o' yer national dish did ye eat durin that time?"

"Again at your Scottish humour!" replied Alice; "but I am in earnest.
You treat me ill, Mike. What is your love to me, if I am denied your
confidence? Yet may I not be asking poison? I could not hear that you
were a lawless man, and live a week after I was intrusted with the
secret. Unhappy fate, to love, and be forced, by the mysterious conduct
of my lover, to suspect his honesty!"

"You are on dangerous ground, Alice," said Maxwell. "We o' the north
side o' the Borders say that love has nae suspicions, and that whar
there are suspicions, there is nae love. Do ye mean that I should
suspect yer love, as ye do my honesty."

"Would to heaven," cried Alice, "there were as little ground in the one
case as in the other! Here comes a carriage at full speed; take Bess to
the side of the road."

"Na," cried Mike, with a sudden start, and looking in the direction of
the carriage; "Bess and I will tak the middle o' the road. She'll no
stay behind a carriage; she has owre muckle gentle bluid in her veins."

The carriage came up with great speed; the blinds were up, and the route
was to Gretna.

"Guid-nicht, Alice," cried Mike, as he flung himself suddenly on the
back of Bess, and bounded off immediately behind the flying carriage.

The young woman stood and looked after her friend with feelings of
surprise, and it was some moments before she became sufficiently
self-possessed to try to account for so abrupt a departure. Was he angry
with her? His conversation showed the reverse, and his good-nature was a
prominent feature of his character. A painful question followed these
thoughts: Was he away after the carriage, to realise the suspicion she
had been communicating to him by the privilege of love? It seemed too
likely; for he had never left her before without many endearing
expressions of attachment; and she had observed the sudden change of
manner and look which seemed to be produced by the approaching vehicle.
All the vague reports she had heard concerning him came in aid of these
suspicious appearances; and as she wandered slowly home to Netherwood,
where her mother resided, she sunk into a gloomy train of thought, which
shadowed forth, on the dim horizon of futurity, disgrace and shame to
her lover, and misfortune and death to herself.

The carriage which Maxwell followed under such unfavourable appearances
was, as already said, on the route for Gretna. The speed of the horses,
and the loud cracking of the whip which propelled them, indicated haste;
and the close blinds told of adventure, secresy, and love. Maxwell
followed hard; and just as the vehicle turned to take the direction of
the village, Black Bess and her rider flew past with the speed of light,
and by another path reached the back-door of a small house, where she
stopped. Maxwell descended, and tapped lightly at the door.

"David Hoggins," said he, "are you in?"

"Yes," answered the individual addressed; "what's wanted?" And the door
was opened by an old man in a Kilmarnock nightcap.

"There's a couple on the road, David," said Maxwell, "dootless in search
o' you. The night is gettin dark, and the carriage-lights winna tell
them north frae south. I'll wait at the back-door till you try and get
me engaged to lead the fugitives out o' danger and the reach o' their

"The auld condition, I fancy," said David--"half and half."

"Lively," answered Mike--"quick; the row o' the wheels mak the village
ring. There, they're landed. Awa wi' your noose, and dinna let me slip
through the loop."

"I'm as sure's a hangman," said David, nodding significantly, and
shutting the door, to proceed to the front of the house, where his
presence was in great request.

Maxwell stood for a considerable time waiting the issue of his proposal,
stroking down occasionally the sleek back of Bess, and at times
muttering somewhat irreverent expressions of impatience against David
and his customers. At last the door opened.

"They dinna need ye," said David; "Jehu will do their business, though
it's clear they're pursued. They're for Berwick, and intend travellin a'
nicht. She's a bonny cratur, man; sae young and guileless, and yet sae
fond o' the wark, that she wad hae been doin wi' ae witness, to save the
time o' gettin anither. As for him, I can see naething o' him for
whiskers, the cause, I fear, o' a' the mischief. It's a Chancery touch,
doubtless. They're for aff this minute. Five guineas, Mike--ha! ha!"
(shutting the door.)

"Five guineas," muttered Maxwell, imitating David's laugh, "and naething
for me. Come, Bess, and let us try what our Scottish cunning may do
against English treachery. It has filled our purse afore, and I dinna
see how it shouldna do't again. If they winna hae us as guides, they
canna refuse us (that is, Bess, if your heels keep, as they say, the
spur o' your head) as followers; and I hae made as muckle i' the ae
capacity as the ither. Come, lass" (throwing himself in the saddle, and
clapping her sleek neck as she tossed her head in the air), "come--hark!
the wheels row--awa--but whip or spur--awa--we'll try baith their mettle
and metal."

As he finished these words, he dashed down the lane, the foot of which
he reached just as the carriage containing the buckled lovers passed, at
the top of the speed of their spurred horses. It was clear they were
afraid of pursuit, and were hastening on to Berwick, to take shipping
for the Continent, the usual retreat of all runaway lovers passing
through Gretna. Confiding in the abilities of Bess, Mike allowed the
carriage to proceed onwards for half-a-mile before he seriously took the
way, as he did not wish to be observed following it so near to the
village. He kept moving in the middle of the road, reining in Bess, who,
having been gratified by the noise of the carriage-wheels, pricked up
her ears, pawed the ground, and capered from side to side. Roused by the
sound of a strange voice, he started and turned round.

"You've time yet, man," cried Giles Baldwin, a Cumberland man, whose arm
Mike had broken at a wrestling-match the year before, and whose suit to
Alice Parker he had strangled by her consent. "But her going's like a
Scotsman running from an Englishman over the Borders. Were my arm whole,
I'd lead Bess's head to the follow. Away, man, or the booty's lost, like
the field o' Flodden, before it is won."

"Ye've anither arm to brak, Giles," said Mike, in a low voice. "A craven
has nae richt to be impudent till a' his banes are cracked, and then,
like the serpent, he may bend and spit his venom. I'll see ye at the
next match at Carlisle, and let ye feel the strength o' the grip o'
friendship and kind remembrance. Tell Alice, as ye pass Netherwood, that
I'm awa after a carriage, to show a couple the way to Berwick. Marriages
beget marriages, they say; and she'll maybe tak ye, to be neebor-like,
and to get quit o' me, against whom ye hae tried to poison her ear."

Saying these words, Mike bounded away; and gave the Cumberland man no
opportunity of replying, otherwise than by bawling out some further
impertinence about his successful rival's expectation of booty from the
expedition in which he was engaged.

"If I had been to put mysel within the reach o' the arm o' the law,"
muttered Mike to himself, as he moved rapidly along, "this man's
impudence micht hae scared me and saved me; but, thanks to Lewie
Threshum, the writer o' Dumfries, I ken what I'm about. I can wring a
man, in wrestling, to within an inch o' his life; and cut so close by an
act o' parliament, that the leaves o't move by the wind o' my flight.
Nae fiscal dare speak to me, sae lang as my Scottish cunning does
justice to Threshum's counsel, and my arm defends me against a' ithers.
Stretch on, guid Bess, and let me hae twa words wi' the happy couple."

The spirited animal increased her speed, and, in a short time,
approached the carriage, which continued to whirl along with great
rapidity. A series of quick bounds brought Mike alongside of it. He now
saw that the blinds were still up, and the driver so intent upon
propelling his horses forward, that he did not know that any one was in
pursuit, while the noise of the vehicle prevented the possibility of
hearing the soft pattering of Bess's heels. Taking the point of his
whip, Mike gave a slight and knowing tap on the carriage-blind, like the
announcement of an expected lover. A noise, as of sudden fright and
agitation, followed from within.

"A's richt," muttered Mike to himself.

But the blinds were still kept up. He paced on a little further, and,
seeing that no answer was returned to his application, repeated the rap
a little louder than before.

"Who's there?" cried a rough voice.

"A friend," answered Mike.

"What is your name?" said the other, evidently in agitation.

"I never gie my name through closed doors," answered Mike; "and sae lang
as ane acts within the law, there's nae use for imitatin the ways o'
jail birds. My name, however, is no unlike your lady's maiden ane--an
admission I mak through sheer courtesy and guid manners, and respect for
her worthy faither."

The blind was taken down hurriedly, and a face covered with a great
profusion of curly black hair presented itself. Mike drew down his hat,
so as to cover his face, and, clapping Bess on the neck, paced along at
great ease. After trying to scan his countenance, the gentleman seemed
at a great loss.

"What is it, sir, that you wish with me?" said he, "or what is your
object in thus disturbing peaceable travellers by legal turnpikes?"

"I beg your pardon," replied Mike. "The night is dark, and the road
lonely; I thought ye micht hae wished a companion--sma' thanks for my
courtesy. The gentlemen in the carriage that's comin up behind, at a
speed greater than yours, ken better what is due to Scottish civility. I
accompanied them a space, and enjoyed their conversation. They're in
search o' twa Gretna fugitives, and wished me to assist them in the
pursuit. I'm sorry I left them, seein I hae forgathered wi' ithers wha
dinna appreciate fully my motives. I think I canna do better than ask
Bess to slacken her pace, and bring me again to the enjoyment o' their
society and conversation."

A suppressed scream from a female within followed this speech. The
gentleman withdrew his head, to assist the lady; the coachman looked
round, and was inclined to halt; but the words, "Drive on!" rang in his
ears, and he obeyed. Mike calmly kept his course, clapping Bess's neck
occasionally, and pretending not to notice the agitation and confusion
within the carriage, where it seemed as if the lady had gone off in a
faint. After some time, the same whiskered face appeared at the

"Hark ye, friend," said he, in an agitated tone; "you're a Scotchman, I
presume, and must be _up_, as we say in London. What would you take to
put the gentlemen in the other carriage _off the scent_?"

"What scent?" asked Mike, gravely.

"The scent of the couple they're after," said the other. "Could you not
stimulate their noses with a red herring drag? Don't understand me? Hey,
man, quick! What say ye?"

"I understand ye," answered Mike, "mair easily than I can assist ye, I
fear. The hounds ken their track owre weel. They're for Berwick direct;
but a Scotchman micht maybe send them scamperin to Newcastle--I mean
that is possible, barely possible."

"Well, well!--what say ye?" replied the other. "Name your sum. Come,

"Let me see," said Mike; "by returnin, I may lose the market--a dead
loss o' twenty pound, at least. Gie me that, and I'll answer for their
being twenty miles on their way to Newcastle by the time ye're twenty
miles on to Berwick."

"Here, here, then," said the gentleman, holding out his hand.

Mike met him half-way, and received a handful of guineas, among which
was a ring.

"Keep yersel and the braw leddy easy," said he, as he put the money into
his pocket. "Drive on, my lad" (to the driver), "and, if ye keep aff the
Newcastle road, ye'll no fa' into the hands o' the chancellor."

With these words, Mike drew up Bess's head, turned, and sauntered slowly
back to Gretna, gratifying his humour by a few words of soliloquy.

"But whar is the coach, wi' its contents, I was to send on to Newcastle?
A principle o' honesty I hae aboot me maks me almost wish for an
opportunity o' fulfillin my promise; but a' I undertook to insure was
safety, and if they hae safety ony way, they get value for their siller;
so, after a', I'm nae cheat. But here's anither coach drivin at deil's

"Holloa! sirrah!" cries a person from the window; "met you a carriage on
your way, driving quickly, and with closed blinds, towards Berwick?"

"You'll no likely find what ye want atween this and Berwick," replied
Mike. "But I dinna wonder at your speed; I could almost wish to flee
after her mysel. Sweet cratur!--she maun be fond o' whiskers."

"Then you have met the carriage!" cried the man, with great vehemence,
quickened by the concluding remark of Mike. "Quick, quick--tell us where
they are, and whither going. We lose time."

"I lose nane," replied Mike; "I'm saunterin at ony rate, thinkin o' my
poverty; are o' the very warst o' a' subjects o' mortal meditation."

"Will money drag a direct answer from you, sir?" cried the man.

"No; but it will draw it out o' me as smoothly as oil," replied Mike.

"Here, then," said the other, handing him some--"will that satisfy you?"

"Double it," said Mike, "and I'll halve your labour."

The eagerness of the pursuers forced a ready compliance.

"The lady and gentleman you are in quest o'," said Mike, "hae changed
their minds, and are on to Newcastle. They gave out Berwick as a
decoy--an hour's ridin will bring ye up to them. But, hark ye! I have
acted honourably by you--you maun do the same by me; and, therefore,
when ye come up to the fugitives, ye will act discreetly, and say
naething o' your informer. A nod's as guid's a wink----ye ken the rest."

The pursuers took no time to reply, but flew off at full speed to
Newcastle, while Mike sought, at his ease, his mother's house, at a
little distance from Gretna. About two hours after he arrived, a loud
knock came to the door. Mike himself opened it.

"Is your name Mike Maxwell?" said a man habited like a sheriff-officer.

"It is," said Mike; "and wha in thae parts doesna ken me, either by grip
or sicht?"

"It's by the first I get my acquaintance o' folk," said the officer, as
he seized his prisoner. "I apprehend ye in the name o' the king, for
highway robbery, committed on a lady and gentleman bound for Berwick."

Maxwell threw himself back, and, freeing himself from the grasp of the
man, laid him, by one blow, at his feet. His humour was gratified; and,
laughing boisterously, he lifted the messenger from the ground.

"That was merely for your impudence," said Mike. "I'm owre confident o'
innocence, either to fecht or flee. A present is nae robbery--they gied
me what I got o' their ain free-will and accord; and, if this is the way
they tak to get their gifts back again, I can only say that the presents
o' the English to the Scotch are like their blows--weel returned."

"Then you admit having the property of the lady and gentleman," said a
second officer, who, attended by a concurrent, now came up. "We must
search you."

"There's nae occasion for that," said Mike; "there's the guineas and the

"But where is the portmanteau and the papers?" said the officer, as he
took the gold. "Search the house, Jem, while we hold him; the hen's no
far off when the chicken whistles."

The man searched the house. Mike looked surprised and confused, and
suspected they had mistaken their man. He told them he had taken no
portmanteau, and expressed total ignorance of what they meant. The men
only laughed at him; they had got a damning evidence against him
already--the ring, which had carved on it the initials "C. B." (Charles
Beachum), the individual who had been robbed; and they did not require
to hesitate an instant about his apprehension. They therefore carried
him direct to Dumfries Jail.

Next morning, the news had spread far and wide that Mike Maxwell had
been apprehended for highway robbery; he and another individual,
unknown, having, on the previous night, attacked a travelling-carriage,
knocked down the driver, wounded the gentleman, frightened the lady, and
carried off a portmanteau filled with valuable articles, and
particularly many important documents, together with the gentleman's
diamond ring (which had been found on Maxwell's person), and other
things of great value. On being examined, Maxwell thought it best to
tell (with a slight exception) the truth; that he had followed the
carriage to inform the runaway couple that they were pursued, and had
received the money and the ring for undertaking to disappoint their
pursuers. He kept the secret to himself, that when he got the money he
did not know, certainly, that there were any persons in pursuit, and had
therefore obtained it on false pretences; but, even with this prudent
qualification, his examination was held to be just as complete an
admission of the highway robbery as any criminal ever uttered, under the
excitement of fear or the promise of pardon. The great desideratum was
the portmanteau, which the robbers had carried off; and this, by the
request of Captain Beachum, who had left instructions to that effect at
the next inn, as he proceeded onwards, was searched for by many
individuals, under promise of a very high reward.

About two hours after his examination, Maxwell was told that a young
woman wished to get in to see him. He knew at once who it was; and the
jailer, who was an old acquaintance, permitted her to enter.

"The secret that is denied to true love," said Alice, as she stood
before Mike, looking at him sorrowfully and dignifiedly, "is sometimes
told to the king. You hate my country, yet an Englishwoman would have
saved you, if your confidence had been equal to the love you have
expressed for me. When I asked you how you lived, you told me that a
lover requires little food. How much, Mike Maxwell, does a prisoner
within these walls either require or get? What avails your Scottish
cunning now, and how much does it transcend English honesty? But, thank
heaven, I have made a narrow escape! What would your strength, your fair
face, and manly bearing, which have made such conquests at our country
games, have yielded me of pride or pleasure, if I had been wedded to a
_robber_? Is it possible that that word and Mike Maxwell claim
kindred?--that Alice Parker, who treasured up your image in her bosom
as a sacred thing, or a charm against the evil eye, should this day be
doomed to the pain of saying that that hateful word and the name of her
heart's choice are one and the same? Miserable hour!"

"Alice," replied Maxwell, "I did you injustice. I should have confided
everything to your bosom; but I didna require to pollute that pure
casket wi' the confidence o' a robber. I am nae robber--the first man
wha said the word was laid in an instant at my feet, and sae should a'
slanderers be served. I defy Scotland and England to prove Mike Maxwell
a robber."

"The ring you have given up to the sheriff," said Alice, "is proof
against you."

"Ha, Alice," replied Mike, laughing, "rings are dangerous things. Was
the ane I got frae you, wi' a plait o' that raven hair in't, a sign o'

"Would to heaven that it had been such a sign!" said the maiden; "I
would not then have had to lament this miserable hour, and this dreadful
night." (Pausing.) "But can it be, Mike, that you are so hardened in
vice that you can laugh in a jail?"

"And why no, my love, if ane is innocent?" replied Maxwell. "I am
indebted for this apprehension to some enemy--probably my rival, Giles
Baldwin--who has got up a story about a portmanteau that never was
stolen; and my honesty in confessin that I got the ring frae the
gentleman for puttin the English beagles wha pursued him aff the scent,
has gien the lee some colour o' truth. Conscious as I am o' my
innocence, I am determined to keep up my spirits, laugh at my enemies
till I get out, and then mak game o' their banes, by giein them joints
whar nature never intended them to be."

"You have often, in playfulness, mocked me, Mike," answered she, "and
turned the inquiries of my love into questions to myself, by the force
of your Scottish humour; but I bear faith that you never told me a lie.
Yet, when I think of the mystery of your life, your secresy, the strange
way in which you left me last night, to make after the carriage, your
admission concerning the ring, and many other circumstances, I must also
admit that my heart is not satisfied. I cannot help it. Even my love,
unbounded as it is, does not enable me to vanquish a cold feeling that,
like the shivering of an ague, creeps over my skin. I cannot say I
_disbelieve_ you; but oh, what would I not give for _proof_ to still
this restless aching heart!" (Pausing.) "That proof, Mike, I _shall_
have. The unpretending Englishwoman, whose counsel the wily Scotchman
despised, shall now try to redeem the character of her countrywomen, and
show that love and honesty are stronger than wiles and secresy."

"Weel said, heroine Alice!" cried Mike, still laughing. "Ye intend to
mak me guilty, to increase the glory o' your efforts to save me; but,
thanks to the laws o' our country, there's nae great merit in savin an
innocent man. I defy a' my faes, and wad prefer a kiss o' my bonny
Alice" (clasping her to his bosom), "to a' her noble endeavours to do
that which innocence itsel will do for her lover."

"We stand at present on a _new_ footing, Mike," said she, as she
struggled to get free, and retired back. "I must have my _proof_. Till
then, farewell!"

"Noble wench!" said Mike, as she departed. "However I may dislike her
suspicions, I canna but admire her guidness and spirit. But Lewie
Threshum will goon blaw awa this cloud, wi' the wind o' the leaves o'
Stair or Mackenzie, and a' will shine bright again on Alice Parker and
Mike Maxwell."

The views and feelings of Alice were very different: she suspected her
lover, and the thought was death to her; yet her native nobility of soul
urged her to the task of draining every source of evidence to prove his
innocence. She called on Lewis Threshum, who had undertaken Mike's
defence, and learned from him, what pained her to the uttermost, that
the evidence, so far as it went, was loaded with heavy presumptions
against the prisoner. A letter had been lodged in the hands of the
fiscal, from Captain Beachum, stating that the robbery was committed at
a distance of about ten miles from Gretna; that the perpetrators were
two ruffians, mounted on good horses; that they had taken the
portmanteau filled with valuable papers, and also his purse, containing
a balance of twenty-two guineas, and a diamond ring, marked "C. B.;" all
of which they carried off in the direction of Gretna. The letter
contained authority to the Lord Advocate to prosecute the perpetrators,
and recover the articles. The ring and guineas, _minus two_, had been
found on Mike Maxwell, within some hours of the robbery. Then Giles
Baldwin had sworn that he saw Mike Maxwell in full pursuit after the
carriage some short time before the robbery was committed; and some
other individuals swore that they saw him return to Gretna some time
after, mounted on his black mare. In addition to all this, was Mike's
improbable examination, which seemed of itself to be conclusive of the
case. This appeared to Alice overpowering, especially when she added to
it what she herself had witnessed--the arrival of the carriage, and the
precipitate retreat of Mike, at a time when it was _impossible_ he could
know that there was (according to his theory) any carriage coming up in
pursuit of the other.

She went home, sad and disconsolate, and passed the remaining part of
the day and the night in the greatest misery. She revolved in her head
various schemes for eliciting something favourable to her lover; but the
absence of Captain Beachum, who could alone give any account of the
circumstances attending the alleged robbery, formed a bar to her
inquiries which she could not overleap. As she sat next evening, musing
on the unfortunate current of events that cast her from the elevation of
the pride of one who possessed the favour of the most proper and comely
man of the Borders, to the shame of the confidential friend and lover of
a robber, who might shortly be hanged, after associating, on the
scaffold, her name with his sorrows--she was roused from her grief by a
tap at the window. She started. It was Mike's rap, and the very hour at
which he generally visited her. She flew to the window, thinking he had
escaped, and had thus come to communicate the joyful tidings.

"Is it possible? It is not you, Mike?" she said, lowly.

"No, but it is his friend," said a voice she thought she knew.

"What friend?" said she; "and with what object does he call here?"

"Names have a dangerous odour," said the other, "when the beagles are
out and snuffing every breeze for the scent of red game. You wish Mike
Maxwell well--you visited him yesterday; would you aid in his escape?"

"Doubtless," said Alice. "Tell me what I could do to attain that object

"Here is the portmanteau," said the other, "which was taken from Captain
Beachum. If it is sent back to him, he will give up the prosecution
against Mike, as all he wants is the papers contained in it. Open the
window a little till I rest the end of it on the sill."

Rendered stupid by this statement, Alice obeyed like an automaton. She
lifted up the window. The portmanteau was placed within it in an

"Get it sent to Beachum," said the voice. "_I joined Mike in the
robbery, and wish him to get off._"

The window fell from the powerless hold of the thunderstruck girl, and
struck the speaker's hand which was on the end of the portmanteau. The
blow was a severe one; he ran off, and the portmanteau fell down within
the house, where it lay as if it had been placed there by the hands of a
housewife. It was some time before the miserable girl came back to the
consciousness of her true position. The last words of the voice--"I
joined Mike in the robbery, and wish him to get off"--rung in her ears
like a death-knell; and the next moment her eyes fell on the fatal
portmanteau--the very article stolen by her lover--that which was to
convict him, to hang him. She grew frantic, ran to the door, looked east
and west through the shadows of the trees, flew first one way, then
another, called aloud, screamed, and called again. No one answered. The
man was gone. She returned into the house, where her eyes again met and
recoiled from the damning memorial. Terror now took possession of her
mind. The circumstance of the portmanteau being found there would form
the only link wanting of the evidence that would hang her lover. Were
she to state how it came there--concealing the last dreadful words which
still haunted her ear--she would not be believed; and if she told the
whole truth, including the fatal words, the same result--the
condemnation of her lover--would follow. What therefore was she to do?
She could not discover it; but could she conceal it without danger to
herself as well as to him? It was clear she could not; and, besides, her
soul abhorred secresy and deceit of all kinds.

As she sat in this state of doubt and despair, a noise of footsteps was
heard at the door, with whisperings and broken ejaculations. A tremor
passed over her. They might be officers of justice come to search the
house. A rap sounded softly on the door, and the whisperings continued.
The portmanteau must, in any view, be concealed in _the meantime_; and,
until her mind was made up, she flew and seized the covering of the bed,
and hurriedly threw it over the glaring evidence of her lover's guilt.
She had scarcely accomplished this hasty, but fatal concealment, when
the door opened, and three sheriff-officers entered the house, and
asked her if Mike Maxwell had left anything to her charge? The necessity
for acting prudently called up her energies. She stood erect before the

"No," she replied, "Mike Maxwell committed nothing to my charge."

"We have here a warrant for a search, young woman; and you will not be
annoyed by our putting it to execution."

She was silent, and shook from head to heel. One of the men drew off the
bed-cover, and discovered the object of their search. Captain Beachum's
name was on the top of it.

"So Mike committed nothing to your charge?" said the man, addressing
Alice again.

"No," she answered, firmly.

"You can tell that to the sheriff," said the man. "Meantime, we take
this article along with us."

He threw the portmanteau on his shoulders, and departed along with the
concurrents, leaving the girl fixed to the floor like a statue.

In a short time after, her mother, who was against Maxwell's suit, and
blamed her daughter for having anything to do with him, entered the
house. Alice dared not make her mother her confidant; she was reduced to
the necessity of not only wrestling single-handed with her difficulty,
but of concealing it from her parent. Bed-time came, and she retired to
rest, but slept none. At daybreak she started, dressed herself, and,
without saying one word to her mother, proceeded to Dumfries to visit
Lewis Threshum. On arriving at his house, she found he was in the prison
along with Maxwell, and waited till he came home. She informed him truly
of everything that had taken place, and saw, from the effects of her
communication, that she was condemning her lover. Starting up in great
agitation, he cried--

"Mike's life is in your hands, Alice: will you hang or save him?"

"Save him if I can," replied the girl.

"Then you must tell the shirra," said Lewie, "everything ye've tauld me,
but the last words uttered by the secret visiter. These you maun keep in
your bosom, and hauld like grim death, otherwise Mike's a dead man."

"I will speak the truth," said Alice, calmly.

"Didna you love Mike?" said the writer, staring at her.

"Yes, but I loved also, and still love, truth and honesty."

"Idiot cratur!" ejaculated Lewie, stamping with his feet. "Mike Maxwell
is a dead man--Mike Maxwell is a dead man!" (Pausing and looking at
her.) "Will you hide yourself then?"

"No," replied she; "I do not love secresy."

"Hang him then!" cried the infuriated man; "hang him, and then drown
yourself, like the rest o' your inconsistent sex."

Offended by the violence of Threshum, which resulted, however, from his
wish to save his friend and her lover, Alice left the room suddenly, and
had scarcely got to the door, when she heard the writer calling after
her. At this moment she was seized by a sheriff-officer, and conducted
before the sheriff to be examined. She told the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth. The fatal words of the secret visiter--"I
joined Mike in the robbery, and wish him to get off"--were formally
recorded, and the deposition closed. Threshum, finding the necessity of
exerting his best energies to overcome the weight of this overpowering
evidence, called at the office of the fiscal, and demanded, on behalf of
his client, to see the contents of the portmanteau. This was conceded to
him; and the man of the law, having examined carefully the papers in
presence of the fiscal, and taken notes of them, departed, to turn his
information to the best account he could for his client. He discovered
that the papers belonged to Mr William Anson, merchant in Bristol, the
guardian of the runaway bride, Miss Julia Anson.

This done, Lewis got hold of Alice before she left Dumfries, and took
her with him to the prisoner, to see if the efforts of Mike would have
any effect upon making her depart from her intention of adhering to the
truth on the day of trial--the examination she had already undergone
being merely a step in the preparation of the evidence. When they
entered, they found Mike enjoying himself over some brandy, which the
friendship of the jailer had procured for him. Lewis told him, with a
grave face, of the extraordinary circumstances attending the recovery of
the portmanteau, and, in particular, the words uttered by the individual
who handed it in at the window. Mike remained unmoved.

"And do ye believe the words o' the ruffian wha thus hounds me?" said he
to Alice.

"I cannot disbelieve what accords so well with everything else I have
seen," replied she. "Alas! would that I could disbelieve them!"

"But ye'll keep them at least to yersel, Alice?" said Mike.

"If I could keep my heart to mysel, Mike, I would," replied she. "But
God does not allow that, and I must speak the truth. What would you have
me to do?"

"To say naething," replied he.

"Fule, man!" rejoined Lewis; "say naething! That wad hang ye mair
certainly than what she has already said to the fiscal (to whom she has
tauld everything), and intends to repeat at the trial, unless we can, in
some way, prevent it. Say naething, man! You and she are tryin, like the
competin millspinners o' Dryden's mill, which o' ye is best at twistin
hemp. If she said naething, wha wad be presumed to be the depositor o'
the portmanteau in the hands o' Alice Parker, the weel-kenned lover o'
Mike Maxwell? Wha but Mike Maxwell himsel? Could it come frae a mair
likely hand than that on whase finger the owner's diamond ring was, or
micht hae been? Ye're baith fules. The lassie should swear, and she
_maun_ swear (unless, indeed, she wants to hang ye, which seems to be
the case), that the portmanteau was handed in at the window by a man wha
said ye were innocent, and had sent back the papers to try to save ye."

"Will ye say that, Alice?" said Mike.

"I cannot tell a lie, Mike," replied Alice. "I will speak the truth; and
I would do that if Alice Parker's neck, in place of Mike Maxwell's, were
in danger of the rope."

"Incomprehensible wench!" cried Mike. "Is this the last and strongest
proof o' your affection? Does this agree wi' the sabbin heart and watery
ee o' the greetin Alice, as she used to hang round my neck amang the
green shaws o' Netherwood, and get me to promise that I never again wad
see May Balfour? or does it agree wi' my promise, made on the condition
that you wad renounce Giles Baldwin, wha, I fear, is at the bottom o' a'
this affair? Is it common for women to agree to marry simple men, and
then hang them?--to promise them a gowden ring for the finger, and gie
them a hempen ane for the craig?"

"It is common for women to love," replied Alice, "and it is too common
for women to lie for love; but the love that is leagued with the
falsehood of the tongue, cannot be supported by the truth of the heart.
No woman ever loved man as I loved you, Mike; but you are only a man,
and there is a God" (looking upwards) "to be loved--ay, and to be
feared. But you say you are innocent; and when did white-robed innocence
require the piebald, ragged covering of falsehood, to show the purity
which it covers? It were a mockery of the laws of God and man, to swear
falsely to save an innocent man. And, alas! if you are guilty (and
appearances are sadly against you), no falsehood ought to save you from
the injured laws of your country."

"The plain Scotch o' a' this English, Mike," said Lewie, "is, that the
lassie is determined to hang ye, as a repayment for a' the kisses ye
were at the trouble to gie her in the holms o' Netherwood; and, after
ye're dead, she'll sing 'Gilderoy' owre your grave. But, in sober
seriousness, she's an idiot, like a' the rest o' her English freends. A
Scotchwoman wad hae leed through fire and brimstone for her lover; and,
after she swore the rope aff his neck, placed her saft arms round his
craig, in place o' the hemp. Mercy on me, whar wad be a' my glory at
_proofs_ if folk were to speak the truth? My pawkieness, slyness,
cunnin, art, and triumph o' the cross-question, wad be o' nae mair avail
than sae muckle ordinary fair rubbish o' straightforward judgments and
honesty. Keep up your spirits, Mike; I'll no let her hang ye. The
English man or woman's no born that will hang Mike Maxwell."

"Are ye resolved, Alice?" said Mike, approaching her, and holding out
his arms to enfold her.

"I am," replied she, receding. "Clear yourself by the aid of truth, and
there's no haven in this world that could be dearer to me than these
arms. Till then, I am the bride of sorrow. Farewell!"

And she departed, leaving Lewis Threshum with Maxwell.

"Saw ye ever sic a stubborn fule?" said Lewie.

"I never saw sae noble a wench," replied Mike.

"Ha! ha!" cried the writer. "A pair o' fules! Ye're the first man, Mike,
I ever heard praise the person that swears awa his life; but this
nonsense will neither prove nor pay. We maun set aboot discoverin the
mystery o' this adventure at Alice's window. Ae thing seems to me
perfectly clear; and that is, that it wasna the robber that handed in
that portmanteau."

"Hoo do ye mak oot that?" said Mike.

"You're as simple's the puir English fule," replied Lewie. "Wad the man
wha took the portmanteau frae Captain Beachum hae admitted to Alice
Parker that he was the robber? and, what's mair, wad he hae said that ye
joined him in the robbery--a lee--at the very moment when he wanted to
save ye by returnin the stolen article?"

"You astonish me, Lewie," said Mike; "thae things never occurred to me."

"A lawyer's ee has twa lenses," said Lewie. "The man, whaever he is, who
handed in that portmanteau at Alice Parker's window is your enemy, and
no the robber. How he got the portmanteau is a different thing; but
maybe we may be able to discover that also."

"If my enemy," said Mike, "he maun be Giles Baldwin, the lover o'

"Ha!" cried Lewie, "there's light there, man. Why was the portmanteau no
taen to yer mother's? The question's a curious ane. Baldwin was the
likely man to tak it to Alice's, and the _only_ man wha wad hae tauld
the lover o' his successfu rival that that rival was the robber. There's
conies i' this hole; I see the marks o' their feet; and whar will ye
find a better terrier than Lewie Threshum? Mair, man: wha sent the
officers to Alice's house? That I'll sune discover. Keep up your
spirits, Mike; and, while ye try to shake that fause English woman frae
yer heart, I'll try and keep Hangie frae yer craig."

And away Lewie hastened; to continue his inquiries. He went first to the
officers who searched for the portmanteau, and ascertained from them,
through the influence of that heart-aperient whisky, that it was in fact
Giles Baldwin who had told them to go and search the house of Widow
Parker. Lewis next proceeded to Gretna, where he interrogated Alice more

"If ye're determined to speak the truth," said he to the grieved girl,
"ye should tell us the hail truth, as ye did te the shirra. Did the
voice o' the man no strike ye as a kent ane?"

"It did," replied Alice; "but though I have been trying to discover
whose it resembled, I have not been able to make anything of it."

"What say ye to Giles Baldwin's?" said Lewie.

"When you mention it," said Alice, "it does strike me that the
resemblance between the two voices was very great. But a thought now
strikes me: when the man said that Mike had joined him in the robbery, I
let fall the window, which struck him over the knuckles a severe blow.
The mark must be on his hand yet. For God's sake, fly to Giles' house,
and see if his hand is hurt. If that is the case, I will believe that
Mike Maxwell is an innocent man."

"Why," said Lewie, looking cunningly into her face.

"Because," said she, "Mike Maxwell never would have joined Giles
Baldwin, his enemy, in a robbery; and, therefore, the statement made to
me at the window was a lie; and one lie, like a fly in a box of
ointment, corrupts the whole mass of evidence."

"My writing-chamber maun be like a charnel-house, then," said Lewie.
"But, lassie, you're surely Scotch, wi' merely an English tongue."

"Sir," said Alice, "I would wish you would hasten to Giles Baldwin,
rather than joke about this serious affair."

"A' my triumph in the law consists in jokin when I am serious," replied
Lewie, with a grave face. "Ye wadna tak my advice when I wanted ye to
save yer lover; and now I'll no tak yours when ye want me to save him"
(leering); "I mean, Alice, just that I'll gang to Giles Baldwin at my
ain time. Will ye swear to his voice and his hand?"

"If Giles Baldwin's hand," said she, "is cut in such a way as might have
been done by the fall of that window, I will swear to my perfect belief
of his being the man who handed in the portmanteau."

"Aneugh, aneugh," cried Lewie; "I kent ye were Scotch; and now I'll awa
to Giles, and _shak hands_ wi' him."

Lewis departed, and went away direct to Baldwin's house. He found Giles
at the door, and, holding out his hand, asked him, in a friendly manner,
how he did. Giles intuitively extended his hand, which, as Lewie seized
it, he observed, was clearly peeled along the back, a little above the

"Ye hae a hard grip, Giles," said the writer. "Is this the arm that Mike
Maxwell broke at the wrestlin match last year?" (Looking down at his
hand.) "I declare, there's the marks o' Mike's fingers on yer hand yet!
But I'm sorry ye hae fa'n into this new scrape, Giles. The craig's a
mair kittle part than the arm or the hand, and aften does penance for
the acts o' its restless freend. I'm sorry for you, Giles."

"What's the matter?" said Giles. "I need no man's sorrow, nor money

"A man that has been successful in the highway doesna need the last,"
said Lewie; "but he is in great need o' the first. It was strange that
twa enemies should join thegither to commit robbery. It's now quite
ascertained that you and Mike Maxwell were the robbers o' Captain

"Wha dares say that?" replied Giles, looking alarmed.

"Alice Parker," said Lewie. "That nicht ye handed into her Captain
Beachum's portmanteau at the window, and got your hand" (taking hold of
it) "hurt by the fa' o' the sash (the mark is on't yet--Providence winna
let thae marks heal), you told her very honestly--but I canna say,
Giles, it was prudent o' ye--at least I wadna hae dune sae unguarded a
trick--that Mike Maxwell joined you in the robbery. You then told Jem
Anderson, the shirra-officer, to gae and search for the portmanteau in
Widow Parker's hoose. What made ye do that, man? Couldna ye hae come to
me, and gien me six and eightpence for an advice? The neck o' a sheep,
wi' the head at ae end, and the harrigals at the ither, is worth
eighteen-pence. Surely the craig o' a man is worth six and eightpence."

Giles was bewildered by this speech, and appeared like a man who gets
the folds and meshes of a net thrown over him. He stood and stared at
the writer. The great terror was the charge of robbery, of which he was
quite innocent; and he was conscious that he had so far convicted
himself, by an unwary statement to that effect made for a certain
purpose to Alice Parker. His mind, occupied by this fear, let go the
apprehension of a discovery of the mere act of handing in the

"I see no harm in handing in the portmanteau," he said, irresolutely,
his mind still occupied by the major terror; "a person finding it on the
road might take that way of returning it to the owner, and saving poor
Mike. I committed no robbery."

"Giles Baldwin," said Lewie "this winna do; I can prove that ye hae
_admitted being a robber_. Now, tak yer choice--admit the truth about
the portmanteau, (for I dinna believe ye stole it), or run the risk o' a
trial for yer life. If ye refuse me, I'll hae ye apprehended within an

The scrape into which Giles had got was evident to himself. He saw no
way of escaping; but he was still dogged and silent.

"Guid-day, Mr Baldwin!" said Lewis; "ye needna try to flee the country;
I'll hae twa beagles after ye afore ye can even cut a stick frae that
ash to help ye on. Twa hangins on ae wuddy maks twa pair o' shoon to the
hangman, but only ae ploy to the people."

"Mr Threshum," cried Baldwin, as the writer was going out, "what do you

"Explain to me a' ye ken about the portmanteau," said Lewis, "and I'll
guarantee ye against the wuddy: that's fair."

"I found the portmanteau," said Giles, at last overcome with fear, "and
gave it to Alice Parker to send to the owner, and save Mike."

"That's no a' true," said Lewis. "If ye wanted to save Mike, why did ye
tell a lee, and say that he was ane o' the robbers, yoursel bein the

Giles was caught; he saw now that he had only one course, and agreed to
sign a paper, setting forth all he knew and everything he did in
relation to the transaction. Lewis sat down accordingly, and took down
his declaration, which, after it was finished, he signed and
authenticated. It bore that he had a grudge against Mike Maxwell, for
having broken his arm, and taken from him his lover, Alice Parker. He
had heard the suspicions which were afloat in regard to Mike's mode of
living; and, having seen him that night sitting on Black Bess, and
looking after the carriage, he suspected he was after prey. He insulted
him in the way mentioned; and Mike having retaliated in the way also
already set forth, Giles was wroth against him, and seeing, some time
after, a carriage hastening after the other, he got up behind it, and
rode on, with the view of watching the motions of Mike, and of being
enabled to inform upon him, and thus revenge himself. After riding for
some time, he heard the conversation between Mike and the gentleman in
the carriage, which has been already detailed; and, having proceeded on
some distance farther, to get some whisky at a house where he was
acquainted, he noticed, as the carriage swerved to a side, a portmanteau
lying on the ground. He jumped down, and, taking hold of the article,
swung it behind a hedge, and covered it with leaves and twigs. Some time
after, two men came up, and asked him if he had seen a portmanteau. He
denied that he had, and they passed on. Then came two sheriff-officers,
who told him that a robbery had been committed on a lady and gentleman
going to Berwick, whereby a valuable portmanteau had been taken from the
carriage. This made Giles prick up his ears: he suspected that Mike had
been the robber; and his suspicion was confirmed by the fact, that he
had heard him send the gentleman in the second coach to Newcastle,
though he knew they were after the couple that were bound for Berwick--a
device resorted to by Mike, no doubt, for preventing them from coming
upon the robbed couple, and giving information against him when they had
met. Filled with this suspicion, and his desire of revenge, Giles sent
the officers to Mike's house, and afterwards gave as much evidence
against him as he could, consistently with his wish to keep the contents
of the portmanteau to himself. Having gone and examined it next day, he
found nothing in it but papers; and therefore resolved upon committing
it to the charge of Alice, and then informing the officers that it was
in her custody. To prevent Alice from telling how it came into her
possession, and of course to leave the presumption open that she had got
it from Mike, he said that Mike had been one of the robbers; and the
reason why he had said that he himself was the other, was, that he was
personating one of the robbers at the time when he was speaking to
Alice; and, as he knew that the report spoke of two robbers, he glided
naturally into the statement he had made to Alice, whom he wished also
to prejudice against his rival. This declaration Giles signed; and Lewis
came away with it in his pocket very well pleased. He read it to Alice
Parker as he passed along. She was delighted beyond adequate powers of
expression, and only wanted an explanation of the ring to satisfy her

"That ye'll get too," said Lewie. "I hae a' that, cut and dry; but the
time's no just come yet. Ye maun hae patience, and I wad recommend to ye
to pay some attention in the meantime to puir Mike, and mak amends for
yer cruelty, in refusin to tell a lee to save the life o' a

"If people were not cruel to themselves," said Alice, "they would not
require any one to commit for them so heinous a sin."

Lewis left her, and returned to Dumfries, where he communicated his
success to Mike. Some time afterwards, the former understood that
Captain Beachum had written from Paris, wishing to avoid a personal
appearance in Scotland; but the Lord Advocate wrote him back, to say
that, if he did not appear, he would neither get the criminal
prosecuted, nor receive up his portmanteau and papers. The captain
(leaving his young wife on the Continent) accordingly came over to
Dumfries, extremely anxious to have the trial over, and get possession
of his papers. As soon as Threshum knew he was arrived at the Cross
Keys, he waited upon him.

"Captain Beachum," said Lewis, "ye hae committed an honest man to
prison, on a charge o' being the individual wha robbed ye o' your
portmanteau, guineas, and ring. Wad ye ken him if ye saw him?"

"No," said the captain; "but there's proof enough against him; he had my
ring in his possession, and the portmanteau was discovered in the house
of his sweetheart."

"The last part o' the charge gaes for naething," said Lewis, "as I can
prove to your satisfaction; and the first proves nae robbery, but only
your munificence in giein a man a dimond ring, as a luck-penny to a
bargain, whereby ye saved yersel and yer wife frae the vengeance o' Mr
Anson, wha was that nicht followin you wi' a' the speed o' a guardian's
flight after his ward."

"What mean you?" said the captain.

"Do ye no recollect," said Lewis, "o' giein a man on a black mare twenty
guineas to mak a red-herrin drag across the nose o' Mr Anson?"

"I do," said the captain; "but I did not give him the ring."

"I can assure ye that ye did, though," said Lewis. "Recollect yoursel."

"I'm not inclined to try to recollect my own stupidity," said the
captain. "It is impossible I could be so foolish as to give away my
diamond ring, either as a present or by mistake."

"If you're no inclined to do that muckle justice to an injured man,
maybe you'll gie me the papers that belang to Mr Anson, by virtue o'
this letter o' authority" (taking out the letter). "Tak your choice."

"The papers, sir," said the captain, getting frightened, "are all I
want. I care nothing for the prosecution of the man. It's certainly
possible I may have given him the ring by mistake; but how do you
account for the portmanteau being in his lover's house?"

Lewis read to him Giles Baldwin's deposition.

"Then," said the captain, "all the evidence against Maxwell is the

"Naething mair," said Lewis.

"He shall not be hanged for that," said the captain. "I shall go off to
the authorities, and inform them that it is very probable I gave the man
the ring in the way you mention. You say nothing of Mr Anson and the
papers, you know."

"I canna interfere, luckily," said Lewis.

On the statement of Captain Beachum, Mike was liberated. He afterwards
took a farm, married Alice Parker, whom he admired the more for her love
of truth, and lived with happily for many years; but he ever lamented
the course of life he had led. He ran a great risk of being hanged, from
the curious combination of circumstances that conspired against
him--lost reputation by it, and caused unspeakable grief to one of the
best of women. Hence our moral: that one is not always safe from the
effects of vice, though he act within the laws.


Speculation is the soul of business; it is the mainspring of
improvement; it is essential to prosperity. Burns has signified that he
could not stoop to crawl into what he considered as the narrow holes of
bargain-making; and nine out of every ten persons who consider
themselves high-minded profess to sympathise with him, and say he was
right. But our immortal bard, in so saying, looked only at the odds and
ends--the corners and the disjointed extremities--of bargain-making,
properly so called; and he suffered his pride and his prejudices to
blind, in this instance, his mighty spirit, and contract his grasp, so
that he saw not the all-powerful, the humanising, and civilising
influence of the very bargain-making which he despised. True it is, that
as a spirit of speculation or bargain-making contracts itself, and every
day becomes more and more a thing of farthings and of fractions, it
begets a grovelling spirit of meanness, that may eventually end in
dishonesty; but as it expands, it exalts the man, imbues his mind with
liberality, and benefits society. The spirit of commercial speculation
will spread abroad, until it render useless the sword of the hero, cause
it to rust in its scabbard, and to be regarded as the barbarous
plaything of antiquity. It will go forth as a dove from the ark of
society, bearing the olive-branch of peace and of mutual benefits unto
all lands, until men shall learn war no more.

But at present I am not writing an essay on speculation or enterprise,
but the history of Reuben Purves, the Speculator; and I shall therefore
begin with it at once. Reuben was born in Galashiels, than which I do
not know a more thriving town, or one more beautifully situated, on all
the wide Borders. As you pass it, seated on the outside of the
Chevy-Chase coach on a summer day (if perchance a sunny shower shall
have fallen), it lies before you as a long and silvered line, the blue
slates reflecting back the sunbeams. In its streets, cleanliness and
prosperity join hands; while before it and behind it rise hills high
enough to be called mountains, where the gorgeous heather purples in its
season. Before it--I might say through it--wimples the Gala, almost
laving its thresholds. There the spirit of speculation and of trade has
taken up "a local habitation and a name," in the bosom of poetry. On the
one hand is the magic of Abbotsford, on the other the memories of
Melrose. But its description is best summed up in the condemnation of a
Cockney traveller, who said, "Vy, certainly, Galashiels would be wery
pretty, were it not its vood and vater!"

But I again digress from the history of Reuben Purves. I have said that
he was born in Galashiels: his father was a weaver, and the father
brought his son up to his own profession. But although Reuben

              "Was a wabster guid,
    Could stown a clue wi' onybody,"

his apprenticeship (if his instructions from his father could be called
one) was scarce expired, when, like Othello, he found "his occupation
gone," and the hand-loom was falling into disuse. Arkwright, who was
long considered a mere bee-headed barber, had--though in a great measure
by the aid of others--brought his mechanism to a degree of perfection
that not only astonished the world, but held out a more inexhaustible
and a richer source of wealth to Britain than its mines did to Peru.
Deep and bitter were the imprecations of many against the power-loom;
for it is difficult for any man to see good in that which dashes away
his hard-earned morsel from the mouths of his family, and leaves them
calling in vain for food. But there were a few spirits who could
appreciate the vast discovery, and who in it perceived not only the
benefits it would confer on the country, but on the human race.
Arkwright, who, though a wonderful man, was not one of deep or accurate
knowledge, with a vanity which in him is excusable, imagined that he
could carry out the results of his improvements to an extent that would
enable the country to pay off the national debt. It was a wild idea;
but, extravagant as it was, it must be acknowledged that the fruits of
his discoveries enabled Britain to bear up against its burdens, and
maintain its faith, in times of severest trial and oppression.

Reuben's father was one of those who complained most bitterly against
the modern innovation. He said, "the work could never be like a man's
work. It was a ridiculous novelty, and would justly end in the ruin of
all engaged in it." It had, indeed, not only reduced his wages the
one-half, but he had not half his wonted employment, and he saw nothing
but folly, ruin, and injustice in the speculation. Reuben, however,
pondered more deeply; he entered somewhat into the spirit of the
projector. He not only entertained the belief that it would enrich the
nation, but he cherished the hope that it would enrich himself. How it
was to accomplish his own advancement he did not exactly perceive, but
he lived in the idea--he dreamed of it--nothing could make him divest
himself of it; and he was encouraged by his mother saying--

"Weel, Reuben, I canna tell, things may be as ye say--only there is very
little appearance o' them at present, when the wages o' you and your
faither put thegither are hardly the half o' what ane o' ye could hae
made. But ae thing is certain--_they who bode for a silk gown always get
a sleeve o't_."

"Nonsense, woman! ye're as bad as him," was the reply of his father;
"wherefore would ye encourage the callant in his havers? I wonder,
seeing the distress we are a' brought to, he doesna think shame to speak
o' such a thing. Mak a fortune by the newfangled system, indeed!--my
truly! if it continue meikle langer, he winna be able to get brose
without butter."

"Weel, faither," was the answer of Reuben, "we'll see; but you must
perceive that there is no great improvement can take place, let it be
what it will, without doing injury to somebody. And it is our duty to
watch every opportunity to make the most of it."

"In my belief, the laddie is out o' his head," rejoined the father; "but
want will bring him to his senses."

Reuben, however, soon found that it became almost impossible to keep
soul and body together by the labours of the loom. He therefore began to
speculate on what he ought to do; and, like my honoured namesake, the
respectable poet, but immortal ornithologist, he took unto himself a
PACK, and, with it upon his shoulders, he resolved to perambulate the
Borders. There was no disgrace in the calling, for it is as ancient,
perhaps more ancient, than nobility; and we are told that, even in the
time of Solomon, "there were chapmen in the land in those days."
Therefore Reuben Purves became a chapman. He, as his original trade
might lead one to suppose, was purely a dealer in "_soft_" goods; and
when he entered a farmhouse, among the bonny buxom girls, he would have
flung his pack upon the table, and said--

"Here, now, my braw lassies; look ye here! Here's the real upright,
downright, elegant, and irresistible muslin for frills, which no
sweetheart upon this earth could have the power to withstand. And here's
the gown-pieces--cheap, cheap--actually giein them awa--the newest, the
most elegant patterns! Only look at them!--it is a sin to see them so
cheap! Naething could be mair handsome! Now or never, lassies. Look at
the ribands, too--blue, red, yellow, purple, green, plain, flowered, and
gauze. Now is the time for buskin your cockernony--naething could
withstand them wi' sic faces as yours--naething, naething, and that ye
would find. It would be out o' the question to talk o't. Come, hinnies,
only observe them, I'm sure ye canna but buy--or look at this lawn."

"O Reuben, man," they would have said, "they are very bonny; but we hae
nae siller."

"Havers!" answered he; "young queans like you talking about siller! Sell
your hair, dears, and buy lang lawn?"

Then did Reuben pull forth his scissors, and begin to exercise the
functions of a hairdresser, in addition to his calling as a
chapman--thinning, and sometimes almost cropping, the fair, the raven,
the auburn, or the brown tresses of the serving-maids, and giving them
his ribands and his cambrics in exchange for their shorn locks. The
ringlets he disposed of to the hairdressers in Edinburgh, Newcastle, or
Carlisle, and he confessed that he found it a very profitable
speculation; and where the colour or texture of the hair was beautiful,
he invariably preferred bartering for it, to receiving payment in money.
This was a trait in Reuben's character, at the outset of his career as a
speculator, which showed that he had a correct appreciation of the real
principles of trade--that he knew the importance of barter, without
which commerce could not exist; and it afforded an indication of the
future merchant.

He was in the habit of visiting every town, village, and farm-stead
within sixty miles of the Borders--to the north and to the south--and
taking in the entire breadth of the island. His visits became as regular
as clock-work. No merchant now-a-days knows more exactly the day and
almost the hour when he may expect a visit from the traveller of the
house with which he deals, accompanied with an invitation to drink a
bottle of wine, and pay his account, than the people in the Border
villages knew when Reuben would appear amongst them.

It was shrewdly suspected that Reuben did not confine himself solely to
the sale of ribands, gown-pieces, and such-like ware, but that his
goodly pack was in fact a magazine, in which was concealed tea, cognac,
and tobacco. At all events, he prospered amazingly, and in the course of
three years--though he lessened its weight at every village he came
to--his pack overgrew his shoulders, and prosperity compelled him,
first, to have recourse to a pack-horse, and, before he had had it long,
to a covered cart or caravan. In short, on arriving at a village,
instead of going round from house to house, with his stock upon his
shoulders, as he was wont to do, he sent round the drummer or bellman:
or, where no such functionaries are known, he employed some other
individual, with a key and a trencher, to go round the village and make
the proclamation--

"This is to give notice, that Mr Reuben Purves, with his grand and
elegant assortment of the newest and most fashionable varieties of
soft-ware goods, _and other commodities_, all bought by him for ready
money, so that great bargains may be expected, has just arrived (at such
an inn), and will remain for this day only; therefore those who wish the
real superior articles, at most excellent bargains, will embrace the
present opportunity."

Let not the reader despise Reuben because he practised and understood
the mysteries of puffing. There is nothing done in this world without
it. No gardener ever "lichtlied" his own leeks. All men practise it,
from the maker of books to the maker of shoe-blacking, or the vender of
matches. From the grandiloquent advertisement of a metropolitan
auctioneer, down to the "_only_ true and particular account" of an
execution, bawled by a flying-stationer on the streets, the spirit of
puffing, in its various degrees, is to be found. Therefore we blame not
Reuben; he only did what other people did, though perhaps after a
different fashion, and with better success. It gave a promise of his
success as a tradesman. He said he ventured on it as a speculation, and
finding it to suit his purpose, he continued it. In truth, scarce had
the herald made the proclamation which I have quoted, until Reuben's
cart was literally besieged. His customers said, "it went like a cried
fair--there was nae getting forward to it."

Moreover, he was always civil; he was always obliging. He had a smile
and a pleasant and merry word for every one. Buy or not buy, his
courtesy never failed him. In short, he would do anything to oblige his
customers, save to give them credit; and that, as he said, was not
because he had any doubt of their honesty, or that he was unwilling to
serve them, but because he had laid it down as a rule never to trust a
single penny, which rule he could not break. He was also possessed of a
goodly person; was some five feet ten inches in height; he had fair
hair, a ruddy, cheerful countenance, intelligent blue eyes; and his
years but little exceeded thirty.

At this period of Reuben's history, there lived in the town of Moffat
one Miss Priscilla Spottiswoode. Now, Priscilla was a portly, and withal
a comely, personage, and though rather stout, she was tall in proportion
to her stoutness. Nothing could surpass the smoothness of the clear red
and white upon her goodly countenance. There was by no means too much
red, and constitutional good-nature shed a sort of perpetual smile over
her features, like a sunbeam irradiating a tranquil lake. In short, it
was a reproach to every bachelor in the town and parish of Moffat, to
have permitted forty-and-four summers to roll over the head of
Priscilla, without one amongst them having the manliness to step forward
and offer his hand to rescue her from a state of single solitariness.
She had been for more than twenty years the maid, or rather I might say
the nurse, of an old and rich lady, who at her death bequeathed to her
five hundred pounds.

Reuben first saw Priscilla about three months after she had received
the legacy. "Five hundred pounds," thought he, "would set a man on his
feet." He also gazed on her kind, comely, smiling countenance, and he
said within himself that "the men of Moffat were blind." And eventually
he concluded, communing with himself, that the fair Priscilla was a
speculation worthy the thinking of. She wished to purchase a few yards
of lace for cap-borders, and such-like purposes; and as Reuben sold them
to her, he said to her a hundred pleasant things, and he let drop some
well-timed and well-turned compliments, and she blushed as his eulogy on
the lace aptly ended in praise of her own fair features. Yet this was
not all; for he not only sold to her fifty per cent. cheaper than he
would have parted with his goods to any other purchaser, but he
politely--by what appeared a wilful sort of accident--contrived to give
her a full yard into her bargain. Priscilla looked upon Reuben with more
than complacency; she acknowledged (that is, to herself) that he was the
best-looking, polite, and most sensible young man she had ever seen. She
resolved that in future she would deal with no one else; and, indeed,
she had got such an excellent bargain of the lace, that she had come to
the determination of again visiting his stock, and making a purchase of
other articles. And, added she, to a particular friend, "It does a body
good to buy from him, for he is always so pleasant."

But Reuben saved her the trouble; for early the next day he called at
her house, with a silk dress under his arm. He said--

"It was the last piece of the kind he had--indeed it was a perfect
beauty, equal to real India, and would become her exceedingly--and not
to think about the price, for that was no object."

"What, then, am I to think about?" thought Priscilla; and she admired
the silk much, but, peradventure, if the truth were told, she admired
its owner more.

Reuben spent more than two hours beneath the roof of the
too-long-neglected spinster. Often in those two hours she blushed, his
tongue faltered, and when he rose to depart, he had neither the silk
beneath his arm, nor the cash for it in his pocket; but he shook her
hand long and fervently, and he would have saluted her fair cheek--but
true love, like true genius, people say, is always modest. Priscilla, on
being left alone, felt her heart in a very unusual tumult; and now she
examined her face in a mirror, and again admired the silk which he had
presented to her. She had always heard him spoken of as a steady,
thriving, and deserving young man; and it became a settled point in her
mind, that, if he directly popped the important question, she would be
as candid with him, and at once answer, "_Yes_."

Reuben was frequently seen in Moffat after this, even when he brought no
goods for sale; and within six months after her purchase of the lace,
the sacred knot, which no man may unloose, was tied between them; and at
the age of forty-and-four years and four months, but before time had
"wrote a wrinkle" on her fair brow, Miss Priscilla Spottiswoode blushed
into Mrs Purves.

While following his avocation as a chapman, Reuben had accumulated
somewhat more than two hundred pounds, which, with the five hundred that
his wife brought him, raised his capital to more than seven hundred. But
he was not a man to look only at the needle point of things, or whose
soul would be lost in a nut-shell. Onward! onward! was the ruling
principle of Reuben--he had been fortunate in all his speculations, and
he trusted to be fortunate still. Never, during all his wanderings, had
he lost sight of the important discoveries of Arkwright, and of the
improvements which were every day being made upon them; and, while he
was convinced that they would become a source of inexhaustible wealth to
the nation, he still cherished the hope and the belief that they would
enrich himself. He said also--and Mrs Purves agreed with him--that
travelling the country was a most uncomfortable life for a married man.
He therefore sold his horse and his covered cart, disposed of his stock
at prime cost, and, with his wife and capital, removed to Manchester.

He took a room and a cellar at the top of Dean Street, and near to the
foot of Market Street,

    "Where merchants most do congregate."

The upper room served them for bedchamber, parlour, kitchen, and all,
while the cellar he converted into a wareroom. Perhaps, having more than
seven hundred pounds to begin the world with, some may think that he
might have taken more commodious premises; but rents were becoming high
in Manchester--many a great merchant has begun business in a cellar--and
Reuben, quoting the words of poor Richard, said:--

    "Vessels large may venture more,
    But little boats should keep near shore."

And he further said, "I am but serving my time yet; we must creep before
we walk."

Never was any man who prospered in the affairs of this world more
diligent in business than Reuben Purves, and in Priscilla he found an
admirable helpmate. She soon learned the name, the price, and the
quality of every description of goods; and when he was necessarily
absent, she could attend to the orders of customers as promptly as
himself. The reader unacquainted with the Manchester mode of business,
is not to suppose that Reuben, although his stock was wedged up in a
cellar, was a retail draper or haberdasher. Its magnitude considered,
there are fewer such in Manchester than in any other town in the
kingdom; but Reuben commenced as a wholesale merchant--one who supplies
the country dealers. He always went to the markets to purchase with the
money in his hand, as Joseph the patriarch's brethren came to him to
buy corn--and pity it is that the good old custom has too much fallen
into disuse. He made his purchases chiefly from the small manufacturers,
to whom ready money was an object of importance, and consequently bought
his goods to much advantage to himself. During his extensive
perambulations on the Borders, also, he had become generally acquainted
with the drapers in all the towns upon his circuit; and at the seasons
when they generally visit Manchester, he might have been seen rapidly
passing along what is now called Piccadilly, and passing the coach from
the north, just as it drew up to the inn; and if one whose face he knew
stepped off it or out of it, Reuben turned suddenly round as if by
accident, took the north-country purchaser by the hand, and invited him
home to "eat beef" with him, or to take supper, as the case might be. He
was generally successful; for to resist his solicitations was a matter
of difficulty, and after partaking of a frugal meal and a single glass,
the stranger was invited to examine the stock in the wareroom, and
seldom failed of becoming the purchaser of a part. By such means, and
perseverance, his business in a few years increased exceedingly. He was
of opinion that there is hardly anything too difficult for resolute
perseverance to accomplish or overcome, at least he always found it so;
and I confess I am very much of his mind.

Within three years he had taken extensive warerooms. He had a clerk, a
salesman, four warehousemen, a traveller, and a porter. He had also
taken his father from the loom. Reuben had seized fortune at the flood,
and he floated down with the stream. He said he never undertook a
speculation, but he was convinced in his own mind it would be
successful. He also said, that fortune-making was like courtship; it was
never venture never win--only to know what you were venturing upon.

I should have mentioned, that, previous to this, Priscilla had made
Reuben the happy father of twin daughters, and the one they named
Rachel, the other Elizabeth. The mother gloried in her children, and her
husband looked on them with delight. He was a fortunate man and a happy
one; and his cup of felicity, if it did not run over, was well filled.

In a short time, Reuben not only supplied with goods to a great extent
the merchants on the Borders, but throughout the three kingdoms; and he
also exported extensively to other countries, and even to some where the
importation of British goods was prohibited.

"A fig for their tariffs," he was wont to say, snapping his fingers;
"the profit will cover the risk. The principle of trade is like the
principle of steam--there is no restraining it. Neither kings, emperors,
congresses, nor laws, are a match for it. They canna cage it up like a
bird. They might as well say to the waves of the sea, 'hitherto shalt
thou come and no farther,' as to the spirit of trade--'_stop_!'"

In these speculations however, Reuben frequently experienced the common
fate of the smuggler; and the goods which he sent into countries where
they were prohibited were seized. He was of too ardent a temperament to
be merely the purchaser and vender of other men's manufactures, and
eventually he erected a cotton-mill of his own, a few miles out of

And here it will, perhaps, be more acceptable to the reader, that I
detail the remainder of Reuben's narrative in his own words, as he
related it to an old schoolfellow in his native town, after an absence
from it of more than thirty years. It was delivered with his unchanged
Scottish accent, and with many Scottish phrases and modes of expression,
which a residence of more than three times ten years in England had not

I was now (said he, alluding to the erection of the mill), at what I
had always considered as the very pinnacle of my ambition--the
proprietor of a cotton-mill, and of one, too, that had cost me several
thousands in completing it. I had no manner of doubt, but that it would
turn out the master-speculation of my existence; for, bless ye, at that
period, to have a mill was to have a mine. A spinning-jenny was worth
its weight in rubies. There was Arkwright, made a fortune like a
nobleman's in a jiffy; and Robert Peel, greatly to his credit from being
a weaver lad, I may say, in less than no time, made a fortune that could
have bought up half the gentry in the country. Indeed, wealth just
poured in upon the millowners; and, I must confess, they werna bad times
for the like o' me, that bought their calicoes, and got them dressed and
printed to sell them out, as you may judge from my having been able to
erect a mill of my own before I had been many years in business. But, I
must confess, that the mill ran between me and my wits. All the time it
was building, I was out and in frae the town to see how the workmen were
getting on, wet or dry; and, I dare to say, that if I dreamed about it
once during the twelve months it was in hands, I dreamed about it a
thousand times. Many a time Priscilla has said to me--

"Reuben, I doubt ye are thinking owre meikle about that mill, and really
it's no richt--it is sinfu. I fear it is aneugh to mak the concern no

"My dear," I used to say, "do ye consider what an immense speculation it
is?--it is like death or life to me; and, if I dinna think o't, and look
after the workmen to see how they are gettin on wi' it, who, do ye
suppose, would? There is naething like a man lookin after his own
concerns; and, where there is sae meikle at stake, it is impossible but
to think o't."

But, sir, I looked after the progress of the mill, and my thoughts were
taken up concerning it, to the neglect of my more immediate business.
After commencing in the wholesale line, I found it impossible to abide
by my original rule of--no credit; and, during my frequent absence from
my warehouse, my salesman had admitted the names of men into my books of
whom I knew nothing, but whom I afterwards learned were not to be
trusted. Their payments were not forthcoming in the proper season; and,
in looking after them, I put off insuring the mill at the time I
intended. Delay, sir, is a curse to a person in business; it is as
dangerous as the blandishments of a harlot to the young--and so I found
it. On the very night that the machinery and everything was completed, I
allowed the spinners and others that I had engaged, to have a supper and
dance in it wi' their wives and sweethearts. I keepit them company for
an hour mysel, and very merry they were. But, after charging them all to
keep sober and harmonious one with another, and to see that they locked
the doors behind them when they broke up, and to leave everything right,
I wished them good-night; and they drank my health, and gave me three
cheers as I left them. I got into my gig, and drove home to Manchester.
But I dinna think I had been three hours in bed, when Priscilla gied me
a dunch with her elbow, and, says she--

"Waken, Reuben! waken!--there's an unco knocking at the street-door."

"Hoot! it will be some drunk body passing," says I, and turned round on
my side to compose myself to sleep again.

But the knock, knocking, continued louder and louder.

"That is nae drunk body," said Priscilla; "something has happened."

I started owre the bed, and I was hardly half-dressed, when I heard the
street-door open, and the servant lass come fleein up the stair.

"What is it?" cried I.

"Oh, sir--the mill!--the mill!" said she.

Had she shot me, she could not have rendered me more stupefied.

"What about the mill?" cries I, all shaking with agitation.

"Oh, it's on fire--it's on fire!" replied the lassie.

I heard Priscilla scream, "On fire!" and she also sprung to the floor.

I cannot tell ye how I threw on my coat--I know that I banged out
without a napkin about my neck, and, rushing down the stairs, I couldna
even stop to get the horse from the stable and saddled, but away I flew
upon my feet. If ever a man ran as if for his life, it was me that
night. It was six miles to the mill, but I never slacked for a single
moment. I didna even discover, though the stones were cutting my feet,
that I had come away without my shoes. The mill absorbed both thought
and sense--I was dead to everything else. But oh, upon reaching it, what
a sight presented itself to my view! There was the great red flames
roaring and raging up the height of its five storeys; and the very
wheels of the machinery, seen through the windows, glowing as bright as
when in the hands of the smith that formed them. The great suffocating
clouds of smoke came rolling about me, and even blinding me. Hundreds of
women ran about screaming, some carrying water, and some running in the
way of others, and drunken men staggered to and fro, like lost spirits
in the midst of their tortures. Oh, sir, it was an awful sight for any
one to behold; but for me to witness it was terrible! For some minutes I
was bereft of both speech and reason; and, had the spectators not held
me back, I would have rushed into the middle of the flames. Crash after
crash, the newly-erected walls and the floors fell in, and I was a
helpless spectator of the destruction of my own property. In one night,
yea, in one hour, more than half of the fortune that I had struggled
for years to gather together, was swept, as by a whirlwind, from off the
face of the earth!

I stood till I beheld the edifice that had been the pride of my heart a
mass of smoking ruins, with, I may say, scarce one stone left upon
another. All the manufacturers round about sympathised with me very
sincerely, and one of them drove me back to Manchester in his drosky.
When I entered my own house, I believe I appeared like a person on whom
sentence of death has been passed, as he is removed from the bar, and
led back to his prison.

"Weel, Reuben," asked Priscilla, in her own calm and gentle way, "is the
damage great?"

"Oh, my dear," said I, "there is nothing left but a heap o' ashes!
Nothing! nothing!--we are ruined!"

"No, no," replied she, as quietly as ever, "we arena ruined. The back is
aye made fit for the burden. The Hand that sent the misfortune, as we
think it, upon us, will enable us to bear up against it. Now, just ye
compose yersel, and dinna be angry at what I am gaun to say, but we are
just as rich now as we were three years ago; and, I am sure, Reuben, we
were quite as happy then as we are now. Ye have still a very excellent
business, and a fortune far beyond onything that you and I could ever
expect to possess when we cam thegither. You have your health and I have
mine; and our twa bits o' bairnies are growing up to be a comfort to us
baith. They will ne'er feel the loss o' the cotton-mill, and you and I
ne'er kenned the guid o't. Wherefore, then, should ye grieve? Ye ought
rather to be thankfu that it is nane o' your family that is taen frae
ye. And, I have nae doubt that, although we self-wise and shortsighted
mortals canna see it, this visitation will be for the guid o' us a'. It
is better that ye should lose the mill than forget your Maker; and,
forgie me for saying it, but I feared it was setting your heart upon the
things o' this world to a degree which did not become the faither o' a
Christian family. Therefore, let me entreat you to say, 'His will be
done,' and to believe that this has fallen upon you for the best. Our
loss is not so great but that, if times keep good, we may soon o'ercome

I had often experienced the value of my wife, and admired her meek,
patient spirit and affectionate heart; but I never, until this trial
came upon me, knew her real worth. She enabled me to begin the world;
ay, sir, and this far she had guided me through it. She was better than
twelve years older than me--but what of that? She looked as young like
at forty as ever I saw another woman do at twenty; and now, when she has
been my wife for thirty years, I hardly ken her aulder. A glaiket
lassie, under such circumstances, might have wrung her hands, and
upbraided me for allowing the supper and the dance; but Priscilla strove
only to comfort me, to imbue my mind with fortitude, and to turn the
accident to my eternal advantage. I had long loved and esteemed her, but
I now reverenced her.

I sat and I listened to her, and looked in her face for the space of ten
minutes, without speaking a word; and, at last, fairly overpowered wi'
her gentleness and her tenderness, I rose and took her hand; and
"Priscilla," says I, "for your sake, dear, I will think no more about
the matter. The mill is destroyed; but, as you say, we may overcome the
loss--and I shall try."

Though I have as keen feelings as onybody, I was not a person to sit
down long, and croon and shake my head over misfortunes that couldna be
helped. I might be driven back from an object, and defeated in
accomplishing it; but it would be necessary to take my life before I
could be made to relinquish my attempts, or to conquer me. Perseverance,
and a restless, ambitious spirit of enterprise, spurred me on.

I endeavoured to extend my business more widely than ever; and, as I had
sometimes had losses with houses on the Continent, I resolved to visit
France, and Germany, and other places, myself, and see in what situation
the land lay. I did so; and in Holland and Switzerland in particular I
entered into what proved some very profitable speculations. Now, sir, it
is my conviction, that where there is no speculation, there can be no
luck. As well might a man with his hands in his pockets expect a guinea
to drop into them. People who, perhaps, have been born with a silver
spoon in their mouths, or had enough to purchase them a hot joint every
day, thrust upon them by accident, will tell you, in speaking of any
particular subject, "Oh, I will have nothing to do with it--it is only a
speculation." Now, sir, but for some speculation that had been entered
into before they were, the one would have neither had the silver spoon
in his teeth, nor the other the hot joint. Without speculation, commerce
could not exist. In the community where its spirit is not felt, they
must be dull as horses in a ring; moving round and round as regularly
and as monotonously as the wheels of a machine, to procure the every-day
bread and cheese of existence. I have been a speculator all my life--I
am a speculator still. Neither you nor I have time for me to enter into
the particulars of thirty years' enterprises. It is true I have lost by
some, but in more I have been successful, or until this day I would have
been a hand-loom weaver in this my native town of Galashiels.

But, sir, within three years I had built another mill. I commenced
manufacturer, and prospered; and, in a short time, I began the business
of printer also. You understand me--it is a calico-printer I mean, not a
book or newspaper printer; for if, in a town in Lancashire, you ask for
a printer, nobody would think of showing you to a consumer of ink and

Our two daughters had been educated at a boarding-school in Yorkshire;
but they were now come home, and were, I may say, women grown, for they
were eighteen; and, although I say it, that, perhaps, ought not to say
it, remarkably fine-looking young women they were. People said that
Elizabeth was a perfect picture; though, so far as I could judge, Rachel
was the bonniest of the two; but they were remarkably like each other.
There, however, was this difference between them--Rachel was of a sedate
and serious disposition, and very plain in her dress, even plainer,
sometimes, than I wished to see her; but she was always so neat, that
she set whatever she put on. Elizabeth, on the other hand, though a
kind-hearted lassie, was more thoughtless, and more given to the
vanities of this world. When her sister was at her books, she was at her
looking-glass. She was as fond of dress as Rachel was the reverse. I
have often said to her--

"O Bessy! Bessy!--dress will turn your head some day or other. Ye will
frighten ony man from having ye."

"Don't be afraid of that, father," she replied, laughing, for there was
no putting her out of temper--she was like her mother in that--"there is
no danger, and it is time enough yet."

She was also excessively fond of amusements--such as balls, concerts,
plays, and parties; much fonder, indeed, than it was agreeable for me or
her mother to observe. And we frequently expostulated with her; for,
though we did not wish to debar her entirely from such amusements, yet
there is a medium to be observed in all things, and we did not like to
see her going beyond that medium.

Well, sir, she had been at a party one night in Mosley Street, and a
young gentleman, who, I afterwards understood, had shown her a great
deal of attention throughout the evening, saw her home. There was no
harm in this; but he called again the next day, and, as I shortly after
learned, every day. So, when I heard this, I thought it was right and
proper that I should see him, and learn who and what he was. I
accordingly stopped at home a forenoon for the express purpose, but not
much, as I easily observed, to the satisfaction of Elizabeth. About
eleven o'clock the gentleman came as usual. I easily saw that he was
rather taken aback on perceiving me; but he recovered his
self-possession as quick as the eyelids can twinkle, and perfectly
confused me with his superabundance of bows and scrapes. I did not like
his appearance. He was dressed like a perfect fop. He wore silk
stockings, and his feet were wedged into bits of French-soled pumps,
which, to my eye, made it perfectly painful to look on them. He had on a
light green, very fine, and very fashionable coat and trousers, with a
pure white waistcoat, and a riband about his neck. He also carried a
cane with an image on the head o't; and he had a great bunch of black
curls on each side of his head, which, I verily believe, were pomatumed,
brushed, and frizzled.

"I must put an end to your visits, billy," thinks I, before ever he
opened his lips.

He was what some ladies would call "a most agreeable young man." In
fact, I heard one (not my daughter) pronounce him to be "a prodigious
fine gentleman!" "Prodigious!" thought I, when I heard it. He had a
great flow of speech and spirits, and could run over all the scandal of
the town with a flippancy that disgusted me, but delighted many. He
could also talk like a critic about dancers, singers, actors, and
race-horses, and discuss the fashions like a milliner. All this I
ascertained during the half-hour I was in his company. He also gabbled
French and Italian, and played upon a thing like a sort of bass-fiddle
without a bow, that they call a guitar. I at once set him down in my own
mind for a mere fortune-hunter. He was a shallow puppy; he carried all
on the outside of his head, and nothing within it. I found he knew no
more about business than the man in the moon. But he pretended to be the
son of an Honourable, and carried cards with the words, "_Charles
Austin, Esq._," engraved upon them. He was above belonging to any
profession--he was a gentleman at large.

Disgusted as I was with him, I had not the face to rise and say to him,
"Sir, I will thank you to go out of my house, and not to enter it
again." And from the manner in which I had been brought up, I had not
the manner of what is called--bowing a person to the door. But what
vexed me most, while he remained, was to observe that even Priscilla
sometimes laughed at the silly things he said, which, as I afterwards
told her, was just encouraging him. When he left the house, I turned to
Elizabeth, and--

"Now, Betty, hinny," says I, "tak my advice, as yer faither and yer
freend, and ne'er speak to that young man again, nor alloo him to keep
ye company; for, as sure as my name is Reuben, there is something
essentially bad aboot him."

She hung her head, and there was a tear in her ee, and I think for the
first time ever I had observed it in my days, she looked rather sulky;
but I could get no satisfaction from her.

I think it was between two and three months after this--during which
time I had seen and heard no more of the fashionable Charles
Austin--that, having business to transact in Liverpool, I took Priscilla
down with me in the gig, for the benefit of her health. It was in the
summer season, and eleven o'clock had just chimed from the steeple of
the collegiate church before we returned at night. But never, never
shall I forget our miserable home-coming. There was our poor Rachel,
sitting by herself, wringing her hands, and the tears running down her
bonny cheeks.

"Rachel! dear Rachel! what is the matter, love?" cried her mother and
myself at the same instant.

"O Elizabeth!--Elizabeth is away!" sobbed my poor bairn.

Priscilla was stupified, and she repeated the word "Away!" but the
truth broke over me in a moment; and I sank back into a chair, as
helpless, for all the world, as a new-born infant.

Rachel tried to compose herself the best way she could; and she informed
us that her sister had left the house about ten o'clock in the forenoon,
and that she had not since returned. She also mentioned that Elizabeth
had been seen in the company of Charles Austin shortly after leaving the
house; and that, when she did not return in the course of the day,
suspecting that they had fled to Gretna, she had sent my principal
clerk, Thomas Galloway, after them, in a chaise-and-four, to bring back

Distressed as I was, I admired the presence of mind which Rachel had
exhibited. She had done all that I could have done myself, had I been at
home; and a fitter person than Thomas Galloway could not have been sent.
His zeal, honesty, and industry, had long rendered him a favourite with
me; and, though he was but a young man, I treated him more as an equal
than a clerk. Nor had I any doubt but in the mission he was sent upon,
he would show as much courage, if such an article were required, as he
had at all times shown zeal and prudence in my service.

But Thomas returned. He had heard nothing of them on the road, and they
had not been at Gretna. These tidings threw us all into deeper
affliction; and a week passed, and we could hear nothing of my daughter,
and our misery increased. But, on the ninth day after her disappearance,
a letter arrived from her. It was dated _Coldstream_. My fears read its
contents before it was opened. In it she poured forth a rhapsody in
praise of her "dear Charles," as she termed him, and said, if we knew
his virtues as well as she knew them, we would love him as she did. She
begged forgiveness for the step she had taken, and sought permission to
return with her husband, and receive mine and her mother's blessing. She
concluded the letter by signing herself our "affectionate and dutiful
daughter, _Elizabeth Austin_."

"_Dutiful!_--the ungrateful, the silly gipsy!" cried I, flinging down
the letter, and trampling it under my feet, in pure madness; "she shall
never inherit a penny of mine--she shall never enter my door. She is
ruined--she has married worthlessness and misery!"

It was some time before Priscilla said anything; but I saw she was very
greatly affected. At last, the mother's love for her offspring got the
better of every other consideration in her heart, and she endeavoured to
soothe me, and to prevail on me to forgive Elizabeth, and to see her

I had intended that the marriage portion of my daughters, on the very
day they became wives, should be ten thousand each, providing that I
approved of the match--though I by no manner of means wished or intended
to direct their choice, or control their affections, further than it was
my duty as a parent to see that they did not throw themselves away. But
I was perfectly persuaded that, to give ten thousand, or the half of it,
or any sum, to such a person as Elizabeth had got, would be no better
than to fling it into the fire.

However, the entreaties and persuasion of Priscilla prevailed. I
consented that Elizabeth should return, and gave her husband five
thousand pounds as her dowery, with a promise of more, if they should
conduct themselves to my satisfaction. He had not received the money
many days when they set out for London.

Some time previous to this, I thought I had observed a sort of
particular kindness between my daughter Rachel and my clerk, Thomas
Galloway, of whom I have already spoken, and to whose worth I have borne
testimony. He was a native of Newton-Stewart, and a young man of humble
parentage, like myself; but I liked him nothing the worse upon that
account; for, in my opinion, there is no real respectability, save that
only which a man purchases through his own merits. Now, I once or twice,
when I went out to enjoy the air in the summer nights, after business
hours, perceived Rachel and Thomas oxtering together along the green
lanes, behind a place in the suburbs that is called Strangeways. Such
was the high opinion that I had of him, that I was determined, if there
was anything between them, to offer no obstacle in the world to their
marriage. I considered that a character, a disposition, and a knowledge
of business, such as Thomas had, were far before riches. But I knew
that, in certain respects, both of the two were such bashful creatures,
that neither of them would dare to mention the matter to me. So, after
their familiarity became every day more apparent, though they tried to
hide it, and when, at different times, I had tried humorously to sound
both of them in vain, I mentioned the subject to Priscilla. I found that
she had perceived it long before me; for women have quick eyes in such
matters. But she said that Rachel was such a strange reserved lassie,
that, though her own bairn, she could not speak to her with a mother's
freedom; though, now that she had heard my mind concerning the match,
she would ask Rachel how matters stood between her and Thomas Galloway
that very day.

She therefore went into the room where Rachel was sitting sewing, and,
after talking about various matters, by way of not just breaking the
matter at once, she said--

"Rachel, dear, are ye aware if your faither has ever made ony sort o'
recompense to Thomas Galloway for his trouble in gaun a' the way to
Gretna after Elizabeth, when the foolish lassie ran away wi' young Mr

"I do not think it," replied Rachel.

"Then," said her mother, "he has not done what he ought to have done.
Indeed, I think he would only be doing his duty if he were to do
something for Thomas; for he is a fine, genteel, deserving lad. Do ye
not think so, dear?"

This was a home-thrust which our bit lassie was not prepared for, and it
brought the vermilion to her cheeks. But, after a moment's hesitation,
she said, though not without a manifest degree of confusion--

"Yes, I think him a very deserving lad."

But her mother had made the first step, and she was not to be put back,
and therefore she continued--

"He is a lad that will rise in the world yet, and he weel deserves it;
for a kinder, or more prudent, and obliging young man, I never saw--and
I am glad, hinny, that ye hae the good sense to think weel o' him."

"Mother!" said Rachel, and her confusion greatly increased.

"Come, love," continued Priscilla, "ye needna blush or conceal onything
frae yer mother. She's a bad mother, indeed, that a daughter daurna
trust wi' a virtuous secret; and I hope ye ne'er saw onything in me,
Rachel, that need debar ye frae making yer feelings known to me. Dinna
suppose, love, that I am sae shortsighted but that I hae observed the
tender affection that has been long springing up between ye; and I have
not only observed it, but I have dune sae wi' satisfaction and pleasure;
for I know not a young man that I could have more credit by in calling
him son-in-law. So look up, dear, and tell me at once, am I not
right--would ye not prefer Thomas to any man ye have seen for your
husband?" And she kindly took our daughter by the hand.

"_Yes_, mother!" faltered my sweet, blushing blossom, and she sank her
head on her mother's breast.

"That is right, hinny," said her mother; "but ye micht hae tauld me
before, and it would hae saved ye baith mony a weary hour o' uneasiness,
I hae nae doobt. But ye shall find nae obstacles in yer way; for it is a
match that will gie baith yer faither and me great satisfaction. He has
observed the attentions o' Thomas to ye as weel as mysel, and spoke to
me concerning it this very hour. Indeed, I may just tell ye, that he
desired me to mention the subject to ye; and if I found that yer
feelings were as we supposed, that the marriage should immediately take
place. And he will also take Thomas into partnership."

Rachel, poor thing, grat with joy when her mother told her what I had
said; and when Thomas heard of it, he could have flung himself at my
feet. The upshot was, that, in a few weeks, they were married, and I
took Thomas into partnership with me, which lifted a great burden off my
shoulders--and more particularly as I had recently entered into a canal
speculation, and become one of the principal shareholders and directors
of the company.

For twelve months from the time that Elizabeth went to London, we had
but two letters from her; and one of them was abusing her sister for
what she termed her "grovelling spirit," in marrying her father's clerk,
and bringing disgrace upon the family. When I saw the letter, my answer
back to her was--

"Elizabeth, my woman, do not forget yourself. Your sister has married a
deserving lad; and your mother married a packman."

As to her husband, I never, in my born days, had a scribble from his
pen. But I heard, from people that had business in London, that they
were flinging away the money I had given them with both hands; and that
Elizabeth, so far from being a check upon her husband's extravagance,
thoughtlessly whirled round with him in the vortex of fashionable

The third letter we received from her was written about fourteen months
after her marriage. It was in a strain of the wildest agony. In one
line, she implored to have her full dowery bestowed upon her, and in the
next she demanded it--and again she entreated me to release her "dear
Charles," who, as she termed it, had been imprisoned for the paltry sum
of five hundred pounds. I saw plainly that to do anything for them would
be money thrown away, and only encouraging them in their ridiculous, not
to say wicked, course of fashion and folly. Therefore, in a way, I had
made up my mind to let them feel what distress was, so that they might
come to some kind of an understanding of the value and the use of money,
which it was as clear as the sun at noonday that neither the one nor the
other of them had. But Priscilla was dreadfully distressed; I never had
seen anything put her so much about. We held a sort of family
parliament, consisting of my wife and myself, Rachel and her husband, to
consider what was best to be done. Rachel, poor thing, pled hard for her
sister, which I was pleased to see, though I said nothing; and Thomas
suggested that I should release Charles Austin from prison, and give
Elizabeth two hundred pounds for their immediate wants, and that I would
set up her husband in whatever line of business he might prefer; but
that I neither could nor should keep them in idleness and extravagance.
This advice was agreed to. I released my hopeful son-in-law from prison,
and sent two hundred pounds to my daughter, with a long letter of
admonition, entreaty, and advice.

We heard no more of them for six months; and I wrote to Elizabeth again,
and her mother wrote, and so did Rachel; but we all wrote in vain--our
letters were never noticed. But there was one morning that my son,
Thomas Galloway, came into the parlour where I was sitting, with an open
letter in his hand, and his face was like the face of death. A trembling
seized me all over. I was glad that there was no person beside me, for I
saw that something had happened.

"Thomas!" cried I, as I saw the letter shake in his hand, "is my bairn

"No," said he, "but----" And he stood still, and handed me the letter.

I just glanced my eyes on it, and it fell out of my hand. It showed us
that a forgery had been committed upon our house to the extent of ten
thousand pounds!--and, oh horrible!--by my own worthless son-in-law,
Charles Austin! It was a dreadful trial--I knew not how to act. If I
permitted the villain to escape unpunished, I was doing an injustice to
society; and, oh, on the other hand, how was it possible that I could
send to the gallows the husband of my own bairn! Thomas posted off
instantly to London, to see what could be done; and I broke the bitter
tidings in the best manner I could to Rachel and her mother. Their
distress was even greater than mine. Thomas returned in a few days, and
brought us word that the villain had escaped abroad somewhere; but where
he could not learn; and it was supposed he had taken his wife and child
with him--for they had an infant about eight months old.

It was not the loss of the money, nor even the manner in which it had
been lost, that chiefly affected me, but the loss, the ruin, the
disgrace of my bairn. Indeed, it made such an impression upon me, that I
never was the same man afterwards in any business transaction.
Therefore, about twelve months after this melancholy event, I purchased
a property in Dumfries-shire, and Priscilla and myself went to reside
upon it. I intrusted the entire business to the prudence and experience
of Thomas Galloway, and became merely a sleeping partner in the firm.

We had been better than a year in our house in Dumfries-shire--it was
about the Christmas time, and Thomas and Rachel were down seeing us,
with their little son, who was just beginning to run about and climb
upon our knees. It was a remarkably cold and gousty night, and a poor
wandering woman came to our door, with a bairn at her breast, and
another on her back, and begging a morsel, and a shelter for herself and
infants. We were all sitting round the fire, when one of the servants
came up and told us concerning her, asking if they might give her a seat
by the fire. I never liked to harbour beggars, and, says I--

"No: there is a shilling for her; gie her some broken meat, and tell her
to go down to the village--it is only two miles."

"And give her this from me," said Rachel; and Priscilla had her hand in
her pocket, when the lass added--

"Poor creature! I dinna believe she is able to crawl as far as the
village, for baith her and her infants seem starving to death."

"What like is she?" asked Rachel.

"A bonny young creature, ma'am," answered our servant, "but sair, sair

"She had better be brought in, father," said my daughter.

"Take her into the kitchen, and let her warm herself and her bairns by
the fire," said Priscilla. And the lass went away down-stairs and
brought her in.

Well, in the course of half-an-hour, Rachel went down to the kitchen, to
see if there was anything that she could do for the poor woman and her
infants--anything that they stood in need of, like--such as a gown, a
frock, a pair of shoes, or the like of those things. But the sound of
her light footsteps was hardly off the stairs, when we heard a scream,
and the exclamations--

"Sister! sister!"

I started to my feet--we all started to our feet; and Priscilla, and
Thomas, and myself looked for a moment at each other, in an agony of
wonder. We hurried down to the kitchen, and there was Rachel weeping on
the bosom of the poor wandering woman--my lost, my ruined Elizabeth! She
sobbed as though her heart would burst, and would have fallen down and
embraced our knees; but her mother pressed her to her bosom, and cried,
"My bairn! my bairn!"

I took her hand, and, bursting into tears, could only sob, "My poor
Betsy!"--and I felt her heart throb, throbbing, as she pressed my hand
to her breast.

Rachel again flung her arms around her neck, and took her and her little
ones from the kitchen, to clothe them with her own apparel, and that of
her child. Poor Priscilla could do nothing but weep; and, when Rachel
had clothed her, and cast aside the rags that covered her, she brought
her into the parlour, where we sat waiting for them; and her mother and
myself again rose and kissed her cheek, and bade her welcome. Throughout
the evening, she sat sobbing and weeping, with her face towards the
ground, and could not be comforted. We were not in a state of feeling to
ask her questions, nor she to answer them.

But, in a few days, she voluntarily unbosomed her griefs to her sister,
who communicated to me her tale of wo. It was evident that she knew
nothing of the crime which her husband had committed, and we agreed that
she should never know, as it would only add a heavier load to her broken
spirit. All she knew was, that he had hastened with her to America,
where he had changed his name, in consequence, as he said, of a property
that had fallen to him in that country. He had long treated her with
coolness and neglect, and prohibited her from writing to us, using
threats that made her tremble for her life, if she attempted to do so.
But, on arriving in America, his indifference gave place to open
brutality; and in a few months he basely deserted her and her infants in
a strange land. She sold the few trinkets and articles of apparel he had
left her; and, with her children in her arms, fainting and
broken-hearted, slowly performed a journey of several hundred miles, to
the nearest seaport, where, after waiting for some months, doling out
the little money she had left to procure food for her children, she at
length found a vessel about to sail for Greenock, and her passage-money
deprived her of her last coin. My poor bairn had been landed in Scotland
without a penny in her pocket, and was begging her way to Manchester,
to throw herself at our feet, when Providence directed her to our door.

Never do I think of the sufferings which my bairn must at this period
have endured, but my heart melts within me, and I think what must have
been the tortures of her proud spirit before she could seek assistance
from the cold and measured hand of charity. Oh, what a struggle there
must have been in her gentle bosom, between the agonies of hunger, the
feelings of the mother, and the shame that burned upon her face, and
deprived her of utterance!--and while her bits of bairnies clung to her
neck, or pulled at her tattered gown, and cried, "Bread, mother--give us
bread!"--while her own heart was fainting within her--how dreadful must
have been the sufferings that my poor Betsy endured! The idea that she
was perishing, and begging like a wretched outcast from door to door,
while we were faring sumptuously every day, brings the tears to my eyes
even to this hour; and often has my heart overflowed in gratitude to the
Power that in mercy directed her steps to her father's house.

From that day, she and her children have never left my roof; and she
shall still share equally with Rachel. About six months ago, I received
a double letter from America. The outer one was from a clergyman, and
that which was enclosed bore the signature of _Charles Austin_. It was
his confession on his death-bed, begging my forgiveness, and the
forgiveness of his wife--my poor injured Elizabeth--for the wrongs and
the cruelties he had committed against her; and declaring that she was
ignorant and innocent of the crime he had committed against me. He also
beseeched me to provide for his children, for their mother's sake, if
they yet lived. It was the letter of a dying penitent. Four thousand of
the sum with which he had absconded he had not squandered, and it he had
directed to be restored to me. The letter from the clergyman announced
the death and burial of the unhappy young man, and that he had been
appointed to carry his dying requests into effect.

I communicated the tidings of his death and his repentance of his
conduct towards her; and she received them meekly, but wept as the
remembrance of young affection touched her heart.

Such, sir, is an account of my speculations, and the losses and crosses
with which they have been attended. But success and happiness have
predominated; and I must say that I am happier now than ever. And at the
season when Rachel and Thomas come down to see us, with the bairns, and
they run romping about with Elizabeth's, who are two interesting
creatures, and three or four will be crying at once, "Granny this, and
granny that," I believe there is not a happier auld woman in Britain
than my Priscilla, who first enabled me to speculate to some purpose.


It was a beautiful, calm afternoon in summer; the surface of the Solway
was as smooth as glass, for it was just high-water, and there was
scarcely wind enough to dimple its surface, or to raise the dense train
of smoke which the Liverpool steamer left behind her, as she came
rapidly and steadily bearing down from Port Carlisle towards Annan
Water-foot, where a crowd of passengers were anxiously expecting her
arrival. The air was so still that the sound of her paddles, and the
rush of water from her bows, were distinctly heard a great distance, and
the toll of the bell of Bowness Church fell full and clear upon the ears
of the dweller on the Scottish coast. Here and there a solitary sea-gull
soared lazily over his shadow in the water, and then bending downwards,
dipped his wing in the smooth stream, rising up again with a sharp,
quick turn, and a shrill scream, which sounded rather ominously,
particularly as there was a kind of bright, hazy indistinctness hanging
over the whole scene, and a close, suffocating oppression in the
atmosphere, foretelling change and storm. The wooden jetty at the
water-foot was crowded with people--some about to embark for Liverpool,
others attracted by curiosity, and by the beauty of the afternoon. On
the road near the jetty lay a large flock of sheep, and several cattle,
ready for embarkation; and Ambrose Clarke's Dumfries coach, and other
conveyances, stood at hand, ready to transfer their freights into the
steamboat. It was altogether a beautiful and exciting scene; bright and
joyous summer seemed to have shed its cheering influence over the spirit
of man, as well as over the face of nature; and, amid the throng around
me, I did not remark a single unhappy countenance. At length the
steamboat bore up for the mouth of the Annan, and, after a great deal of
manoeuvring with the paddles, was laid safely alongside the jetty.
Then came the tug of war, and the peaceful quiet of the calm afternoon
was disturbed by the loud and various sounds of embarkation. The
bleating of sheep, the bellowing of cattle, the loud shouts of their
drivers; the elbowing and jostling of passengers of various classes
making a rush on board, dragging after them their trunks or
portmanteaus, regardless of legs or elbows in their progress; and, over
and above all, the loud, deafening, rushing, roaring noise of the steam,
like the voice of some giant bellowing to them all to be as quick as
possible--converted the late quiet scene into one of Babel-like
confusion. At length the sheep were comfortably wedged up together, and
the cattle secured; and then the bell rang as a warning to those who
were going to stay on board, and to those who were staying on board too
long, to take their departure.

While standing on the jetty, I had exchanged a few commonplace remarks
with a frank, middle-aged, gentlemanly-looking man standing near me,
who, like myself, was _en route_ for Liverpool; and when the steamboat
was fairly off, I made up to my new acquaintance again, and we had a
long and amusing conversation together. To those who are fond of
studying human character, and who derive amusement from observing its
numerous varieties, a public conveyance of any kind is an interesting
_study_--a cabinet in which they may chance to meet with strange and
rare specimens to add to their collection of human originals. I do not
envy the man who seems to think the warning bell of the steamboat, or
the shutting of the door of the stage-coach, a signal to him to close
the door of his mouth and ears; and who can doze away in a corner,
uninterested and uninteresting, and leaves the conveyance, as he entered
it, dull and heavy, uncomfortable and discontented himself, and a
species of incubus upon the spirits of his companions.

We had only left our port about two hours, when the sky began to
overcast, and heavy clouds rose slowly from the horizon. The wind seemed
to be awaiting in silence, and reserving its strength for the
approaching conflict of the elements, for there was not a breath
stirring; the sea-birds shrieked around us, as if to warn us of
approaching danger; and the smoke from the engine-fire hung heavily over
the deck, and covered the water around us, as if to hide us from the
coming storm. At length the forerunner of the _squall_ appeared in the
shape of a broad, bright, sudden blaze of lightning, followed by a
rattling peal of thunder, which seemed to have burst open the floodgates
of heaven, for the rain descended in torrents from the overcharged
clouds, while flash followed flash, and peal followed peal, in rapid
succession. A light breeze soon springing up from the south, the flashes
of lightning became less and less vivid; and we heard, afar off, the low
growling of the thunder, as the clouds slowly and unwillingly retreated
before the wind, which now freshened up rapidly. In a short time it blew
a gale, and occasioned such a heavy sea, that most of the passengers
were driven below by the violent motion of the vessel. I, being an old
stager, preferred the cool breeze on deck, to the close, confined air of
the cabin; and, to my great surprise, saw my new and agreeable
acquaintance walking up and down the deck as unconcernedly as if the
boat were lying at the jetty.

"You seem to have excellent _sea-legs_, sir," said I; "you walk the deck
with the confidence of one to whom such unsteady footing is familiar;
you do not look like a sailor, but still I am greatly mistaken if this
is the first time you have been in a gale of wind."

"You are right," replied he, "in both your conjectures: I am not a
sailor by profession, and I have been in many a gale. I owe the
greatest happiness of my life to a storm and its consequences."

"Indeed!" said I; "if it is not asking too much, will you favour me with
an account of the adventure to which you allude?--it will serve to
beguile the time till we turn in."

"With all my heart," said he; "and with the greater pleasure, because I
perceive you are a sailor, and will understand me. If you find me
tedious, remember you have yourself to blame for the infliction:"--

When I was a youngster, I was sent out by my friends to join a
mercantile house in Bombay, of which my father had formerly been a
partner. After labouring for some years as clerk, I was admitted as
junior member of the firm, and being considered a stirring man of
business, I was sent by the heads of the house as supercargo of one of
their ships trading to the Straits and China. It was in this way I
acquired the sea-legs on which you have been pleased to compliment me;
and, what was still more to the purpose, I managed well for my
employers, and added considerably to my own resources.

Fortune smiled upon all my private mercantile speculations; and, in the
course of a few years, I amassed what I considered a comfortable
competency. As my constitution, although it had been severely tried, was
still tolerably unimpaired, I thought it wiser to return home at once,
to enjoy the moderate fruits of my labour, than to risk my health in the
endeavour to add to my means. I accordingly retired from the firm, wound
up my affairs, transferred my money to the English funds, and took my
passage in a country ship to China. From thence I embarked in a fine
Indiaman of 1000 tons burden, called the Columbine, bound to England,
and to touch at the Cape of Good Hope. Our passage was quick and
pleasant; and I greatly enjoyed our fortnight's stay at the Cape, where
our party was increased, by the addition of a lady and gentleman to our
cabin circle. The gentleman was a retired surgeon of the Indian army,
and one of the funniest little Sancho Panza figures I ever beheld. When
he first stepped over the gangway, there was a general titter among the
crew at his strange appearance. He was dressed in a little scarlet
shell-jacket; a pair of wide Indian-made _continuations_ of nankeen,
with stockings as nearly as possible of the same colour; a little black
velvet hunting-cap, stuck on one side over his round, fat, rosy face; a
walking-cane in one hand (a walking-cane on board a ship!); and a
leather bottle, suspended by a belt from his shoulders. On further
acquaintance, I found he was as odd in character as in appearance. He
was a regular old bachelor, fidgety and particular. His countenance
bespoke him a lover of the good things of this life--and it did not
belie him, for dearly did he enjoy them all; nothing came amiss to him,
that came in a _perishable_ shape, provided it had all the "appliances
and means to boot" of the culinary art. It was really quite a treat to
hear the smack of genuine pleasure (a kind of _parting-salute_, a token
of good-will and kindly feeling) which followed the engulfment of every
mouthful of the captain's excellent claret--and his mouth, like the
Irishman's, held exactly a glass; and then his little dark eye twinkled
with anticipated delight, as it wandered discursively over the cuddy
table, when the covers were raised at dinner. And yet with all this
spice of epicurism and apparent selfishness, he was liberal,
kind-hearted, and obliging. He had been so long absent from home that he
had become completely _Indianised_; and his strange opinions and
expectations respecting England, were in the highest degree ludicrous.

The lady was a young widow, who had accompanied her husband, a Madras
civilian, many years her senior, to the Cape, in the hope of
re-establishing his health; but it was too late--the hand of death was
upon him, and he had been taken from her about six months before our
arrival. She remained at the Cape, waiting for expected letters from
Madras, and then determined upon proceeding to Europe. She came on board
in mourning and in tears: the sight of the ship seemed to have
re-awakened the memory of him she regretted; and she did not for some
time take her place at the cuddy-table, nor appear among the other
passengers. Now and then, in the calm moonlight evenings, she came
stealing up like a shadow, and wandered listlessly up and down the deck,
leaning on the captain's arm, or bending over the bulwark of the poop,
gazing mournfully on the waves below. Time, with the absence of all
objects that could revive her painful recollections, soon had the effect
of soothing her grief; and after we had crossed the _Line_, she was
persuaded to join the cuddy party. She was young, and without being
decidedly beautiful, was one of the most interesting-looking females I
had ever met with. There was an air of mild, uncomplaining resignation
in her look and manner, which irresistibly attracted sympathy and
admiration. During the bustling scenes of my life in various parts of
the East, I had met with all varieties and shades of beauty, and,
strange to say, had passed unharmed and "fancy-free" through the ordeal
of whole constellations of bright and beaming eyes. Love had hitherto
been a stranger to me; I had read of it, talked of it, heard of it, but
had never felt its overpowering influence; and I had begun to doubt
whether I had a heart at all, at least for the tender passion. But I now
soon found that I had been mistaken, and that I had feelings, and tender
ones too, as well as those whom I had been in the habit of ridiculing
for them. I could hardly analyse them at first, they were so various and
contradictory. I began with admiration of the widow's expressive
countenance and gentle manner. I was loud in her praise to every one who
would listen to me: "If ever there was an angel on earth" (afloat I
should have said), "she is one." I eagerly sought every opportunity of
throwing myself in her way, till I happened to hear one of the officers
calling me "the widow's shadow." Then, all at once, I felt confused
whenever her eyes met mine; the warm blood rushed to my cheeks, and a
flutter of nerve came over me, whenever she spoke to me. I gradually
withdrew from her society; lost my appetite; became fond of solitary
walks; and was seized with a most extraordinary oppression of the lungs,
which obliged me to sigh continually.

"Holloa, Wentworth!" said the officer of the deck to me one night, "what
is the matter with you? There was a sigh like the blowing of a grampus!"

He was an old friend of mine, and as kind-hearted a rough diamond as
ever breathed.

"I don't know, Wildman," replied I; "I'm afraid my liver is terribly out
of order."

"Liver!" said he, with a loud laugh--"tell that to the marines; I
suspect it's the heart that's out of trim more than the liver." And so
saying, he walked forward to hail the foretop, and left me to my
meditations. He left me an enlightened man; his words had flashed
conviction on my mind.

"And so," muttered I, "I am actually in love! How strange that the
_novelty_ of my emotions should so long have blinded me to their
_nature_! Heigh-ho! But why the plague should I sigh about it? Love! No,
no; I'm sure I'm going to have an attack of liver. I wonder if she likes

"Why don't you ask her?" said my sailor friend, who had returned
unobserved to his place at my elbow, and had overheard the last part of
my soliloquy. "Come, come, Wentworth," said he, seeing that I looked
rather annoyed, "don't be angry with me; you have been like the bird
that hides its head in the sand, and fancies no one can see it; but I
have long observed your growing partiality for the fair widow, and I
admire your taste--she is a prize worth trying for. Take a friend's
advice, and, if you are in a marrying mood, put your modesty under
hatches, and make a bold stroke for a wife at once."

"Oh, nonsense, Wildman!--how can you talk so foolishly? She is in such
affliction! I could not dream of following your advice; it would be
indelicate in the extreme at present."

"Ay, it is too soon to come to close quarters yet; but there is nothing
like laying an anchor to windward in time. Play at long balls with her,
my boy. Stand in a corner, and gaze in admiring silence; send a few
well-aimed die-away glances through her, and play off a sigh or two now
and then, backed by a little sentiment. Why, man, a broadside of such
red-hot sighs as yours would riddle her heart, and make her strike her
colours at once, if you had but courage to lay her alongside."

Whether it was that I tacitly followed my friend's advice, or that my
unconscious silent attentions had made the impression he anticipated, it
so came to pass that, in a short time, the fair widow seemed to feel a
pleasure in my society beyond that of any other on board. A slight
degree of mutual good understanding soon ripens into intimacy on board a
ship, where circumstances throw people into such close and constant
communion; the flimsy veil of mere artificial politeness is soon seen
through, and the character of each individual shows itself in its true
colours. The more I saw of hers, the more I admired it; she was so free
from the petty vanities of the sex, and so sweet and equable in her
temper. She was the daughter of a highly respectable physician in the
west of England, whose professional income had enabled him to bestow on
all his family a liberal education, and to bring them up suitably to
their apparent prospects, and to the station he expected them to fill
in society. Her elder brother had gone out to India in a mercantile
capacity, and had returned home to recruit his health in his native
vale. During the interval of his visit, his father, who had long been in
declining health, died, and, contrary to expectation, left his children
but poorly provided for; and the brother, after having arranged the
family affairs, and placed the juniors under the guardianship of an old
and tried friend, persuaded his sister to accompany him to the East.
When they arrived at Madras, my fair friend, whom I shall call Emily,
was not long without admirers. Among others was an elderly civilian,
high in the service, of great wealth and irreproachable character. He
urged his suit with the greatest assiduity; and, notwithstanding Emily's
evident coldness, he laid his heart and fortune at her feet.

All Emily's friends were urgent with her not to reject so advantageous a
settlement. Her brother _said_ nothing on the subject; but she had
learned to read his wishes in his countenance. She thought of the almost
destitute state of her family at home, and of the opportunities which
the wealth and liberality of so excellent a man might afford her of
benefiting them; and, after a long struggle of contending feeling, she
consented to become the wife of Mr Stacey. He was for two years all he
had promised--affectionate, considerate, and attentive to her slightest
wishes. She respected and esteemed him, and, when she closed his eyes in
a foreign land, she mourned for him as a sincere and valued friend. He
had left her by his will the sole and uncontrolled command of his large
fortune; and she was now returning home to comfort the declining years
of her mother, and rejoicing in the thought that her wealth would enable
her effectually to promote the interests of the junior members of her

But I must proceed to other matters. Our passage from the Cape had been
a long, but to me a most delightful, one, and we were expecting to
_make_ the Lizard next day. The captain was very anxious to have a good
_landfall_, as his best chronometer had met with an accident a few days
before, and he was rather doubtful as to its correctness. The breeze was
light and fair, and the waves were breaking short and crisp, curling
their little white crests as they rose and fell in rapid succession; but
there was a long, heavy under-swell from the southward, which gave rise
to many an ominous shake of the head among the experienced hands on
board. For my part, I dreaded no danger, and I enjoyed to the utmost the
really beautiful scene around me. There was nothing, to be sure, to be
seen but sea and sky; but it was beautiful and boundless nature--nature
in her solitude and strength. There were no crowds of human beings
jostling and hurrying past each other, as in the haunts of man and of
art; but there was the glorious sun, shining in almost unclouded
splendour--the sea, with its playful waves dancing and smiling in the
sunbeam, and teeming with life and energy. Whole shoals of flying-fish
quivered their little wings, glittering like silver in the sun, and then
dropped fluttering into the waters; while those "hunters of the sea,"
dolphins, and bonitos, and albecores, darted, leaped, and plunged in
pursuit of them--sometimes rising six or seven abreast, and making
immense flying leaps together, as if emulating each other, and putting
to shame the steeple-chasing "lords of creation." My attention was
diverted from the water by the gradual _heeling over_ of the vessel, and
the creaking noise of the blocks, as the freshening breeze gave
additional tension to the tacks and sheets; at the same time, I heard
one of the men muttering to another, as they stood by the royal

"This here breeze is a-freshening fast, Bill. I doesn't like to see them
beggars a-galloping round the ship like so many mad horses; and look how
the cat's a-whisking about! There's a gale of wind in her tail, I'll
take my 'davy."

"Man the royal cluelines!" shouted the officer of the watch. "Haul taut!
In royals!"

As soon as the royals were furled, the boatswain piped to dinner; the
men went below, and I hastened to my cabin. As I sat at the open port, I
could not help recalling the conversation I had overheard, and, looking
out, I observed that the clouds were rapidly rising from the southward,
and forming into dense dark masses; and I was aware, from the increasing
motion of the ship, and the long, crashing rush of the sea under the
counter, that the breeze was freshening. "The fellow is a true prophet,
after all," muttered I to myself; and, just as I spoke, the ship gave a
heavy lurch, and my bookcase, which was badly secured, _fetched way_,
and, with a heavy crash, fell on the deck. Fortunately, there was but
little mischief done to my books, and I sent for one of the carpenter's
mates to secure the case again. Scarcely had the poor fellow left my
cabin, after having finished his work, when I heard the sharp warning
_tweet tweet_ of the boatswain's call instantly echoed from three
different parts of the lower deck; then came the sound of hurrying feet,
and then a long, loud, shrill whistle, followed by a hoarse cry of "All
hands reef topsails, ahoy!" then were heard the loud, clear orders, "In
topgallantsails! Lower away the topsails!" followed by the whirring,
rattling sound of blocks, and the dull flapping of the sails, as the
yards were pointed to the wind. Poor Evans, the carpenter's mate of whom
I spoke above, was stationed on the foretopsailyard, and in his hurry to
_lay out_, his foot slipped, he lost his hold of the yard, and fell head
foremost downwards. The ship was rolling to windward at the time, so
that he fell outside the bulwark, struck the anchor in his descent, and
must have been senseless when he reached the surface of the water; for,
although he went down head-foremost, he _struck out_ mechanically, as if
endeavouring to dive, and never rose again. For an instant this sudden
and dreadful accident paralysed both officers and men; but it was only
for an instant.

"Poor fellow!" said the commanding officer, "he's gone! Come, bear a
hand, there aloft! Lay out!--lay out! Tie away!--lay down!"

Again the _tweet tweet_ was heard. "Hoist away!" was the order; and,
with a quick and steady tramp, a hundred feet kept time with the merry
notes of the fife. The sails were set, the yards trimmed, and, under her
reduced canvas, the ship bounded along with great lightness and ease.
But the face of nature was no longer smiling: the heavy masses of vapour
had risen from the southern horizon, one dense body seeming to push
another upwards, as it rose from the gulf of darkness, till the whole
surface of the heavens was covered with a veil of gloomy and
wildly-driving clouds. The waves were no longer, as Wilson says, "like
playful lambs on a mountain's side," but were rushing after each other
like wild beasts in search of prey. It was evident that the breeze was
freshening fast; but, as it was still _free_, the ship was making rapid
way through the water. I will pass over the next twenty-four hours,
during which the breeze continued strong, but steady. At about five P.M.
of the next day, a darkness like that of night hung over the horizon to
windward, which gradually rose in the centre, forming a hard, clear,
well-defined arch, which rapidly enlarged and enlarged, the centre part
becoming dim with driving rain.

"Call the hands out--reef topsails!" shouted the captain; and again all
was bustle and animation. The sound of the boatswain's cry was hardly
out of our ears, before the men were on deck, full of eagerness and
emulation, their energies seeming to rise in proportion to the demand
upon them. Our topsails were double-reefed and on the caps when the
squall struck us; we could hear it howling over the water long before it
reached us, the rain driving fiercely before it, mixed with the spray of
the waves, which was dashed abroad like mist.

"Lower the driver!--man the gear of the mainsail!"

"All ready, sir!"

"Up mainsail!"

The men who were stationed at the mainsheet unfortunately let it run
through their hands; the sail bellied up over the leeyardarm, gave one
loud, heavy flap, and, with a report like that of a cannon, split right
across, and was blown in pieces, and the tattered remnants fluttered
from the yard, as if struggling to escape, and cracking like ten
thousand whips. As soon as the blast had expended its fury, the
fragments of the mainsail were unbent, and a new sail got up in their

"Away, aloft there, topmen!--get the topgallantyards ready for coming
down!" was now the cry.

"All ready forward, sir!"

"Ready abaft?"

"All ready, sir!"

"Haul taut!--sway away!--high enough!--lower away!" And, in a few
minutes, the topgallantyards were safely landed on deck, and secured on
the booms.

Hitherto the weather had been dry and fine, except during the squalls;
but, as the night closed in, a thick drizzling rain came on, which drove
all the passengers below.

The ship was now plunging and rolling heavily, and the white foam of the
long tumbling seas looked doubly ghastly through the gloom, while their
roaring formed dismal harmony with the howling of the wind.

Our party was small at the cuddy-table that evening, when we met at
eight bells (eight o'clock) to discuss our hot grog and negus. Some of
the gentlemen were sick, others tired, and some alarmed at the
appearance of things around them.

The mercury in the barometer had fallen considerably; and the captain,
as he sat at the table rallying some of his passengers on the
extraordinary length of their phizzes, was evidently assuming a
cheerfulness he did not feel; and at times looked absent and uneasy.

"Has not the glass fallen very fast, captain?" said one of the military

"Yes," replied he, "a little. That question recalls to my recollection a
most ludicrous circumstance that occurred on board a free-trader of
which I was mate. I was keeping the middle watch on a beautiful night,
when a fine light breeze filled all the _small kites_, and the weather
was looking remarkably steady and clear. All at once the captain came
running out in his nightcap and slippers, looked at the compass, and
then aloft, and said, 'What kind of night is it, Mr Darby?'

"'Very fine, sir; steady breeze, smooth water; every stitch of sail set
that will draw.'

"'Take in all your small sails, sir, as fast as you can; the glass has
fallen considerably since I turned in; we are going to have a breeze.'

"I looked at him with surprise, and then to windward; but to hear was to
obey--the stunsails, smallstaysails, and royals were taken in. This was
scarcely done, when the captain again made his appearance. 'Darby, the
glass is falling fast--call the hands out, double-reef the topsails, and
down topgallant and royal yards.'

"'Sir!' answered I, staring at him with astonishment.

"'Bear a hand, sir, and get the sail off the ship,' said he, sharply.

"His orders were obeyed, greatly to the surprise of all on board. But
even this did not appear to satisfy him. He came on deck again, and this
time I kept at a most respectful distance, for I really began to think
his head was cracked, and that he might perhaps wish to try how I would
look in the same predicament.

"'It's very odd, Darby,' said he; 'I don't understand it; the glass is
still falling. Come and look at it.'

"I went with him into his cabin, where the barometer was hanging near
his cot, with a swinging lamp beside it. The mercury was very low,
uncommonly so; but, while I was looking at it, I heard a heavy drop upon
the deck, and, looking downwards, I saw something glittering below the
lamp. I stooped to look what it was, and the mystery was solved at once:
there was a hole in the bottom of the tube, and the mercury had been
oozing out. The captain looked very foolish at first, and then, staring
me full in the face, burst into an uproarious fit of laughter, in which
I heartily joined him. At daybreak the hands were called out again; but
for a very different purpose. 'Crack on everything!' was now the cry;
and we were soon spanking along again under a cloud of canvas. But you
are not to suppose," continued Captain Darby, "from this anecdote, that
I mean to depreciate the value of the marine barometer; it is the
seaman's invaluable friend--a prophet whose warnings are not to be
disregarded. Many and many a time has it enabled me to prepare in time
for a coming gale, which would otherwise have assailed me unawares."

"The gale is freshening fast, sir," said an officer, putting his head
into the cuddy-door. The captain hurried out, and gave orders for
reefing the courses; and, during the whole of that long and, to us,
miserable night, all hands were kept constantly at work; and we heard
the loud orders of the officers, and the cries of the answering seamen,
confusedly and at intervals, through the roaring of the wind and the
rushing of the seas. I slept, or rather lay (for I could not sleep), in
one of the round-house cabins; the edge of my cot, at every roll of the
ship, knocking against the beams from which it was suspended; and I was
every now and then nearly jerked out by the violent pitching, when the
ship seemed as if she were endeavouring to dive head-foremost into the
depths, to escape the violence of the winds. The ladies' cabins were
abaft the round-house; the fair widow's divided from mine only by a thin
bulkhead. I would have given all I was worth to be allowed to sit near
her, to revive her spirits, and to soothe her fears. I was aware that
she was dreadfully alarmed; for, whenever the vessel staggered under the
overwhelming attacks of the sea, I heard from her cabin a shuddering of
nervous terror. The gentlemen passengers actually envied the poor seamen
who were exposed to the pelting of the pitiless storm: _they_ were
actively employed, the excitement of the storm left no time for
reflection--besides, storm, tempest, and danger were their elements; but
we lay idle and helpless, knowing just enough of our danger to imagine
it to be much greater--brooding over the chimeras of our own fancies,
and anticipating we knew not what of approaching calamity. The continual
creak, creak, creaking of the bulkheads--the pattering of the thick
shower of spray upon our decks, following the dull, heavy "thud" of some
giant sea, which made the ship reel and tremble through every
timber--the cries of the seamen, heard indistinctly and at intervals,
and then borne far away to leeward on the gale, as if the spirits of the
air were shrieking above and around us--formed altogether a fearful
medley of wild sounds. At length, towards morning, nothing was heard on
deck but the deep, moaning voice of the gale, and the roar of the sea;
but new and more ominous sounds arose from the lower deck: there was the
monotonous clanking of the pumps, and the rash of water from side to
side of the ship, as she rolled heavily and deeply. I could lie in my
cot no longer--my nerves were worked up to such a state of excitement;
and I rushed on deck to breathe the fresh air, and to see the state of
affairs there. It was to me a beautiful, though awful, sight. The sun
was just beginning to rise; and the lurid, threatening, angry glare he
shed over the horizon gave additional horror to the gloomy scene. The
ship looked almost a wreck to my eyes. The topgallantmasts had been got
on deck; the booms were crowded with wet sails and rigging; the small
ropes aloft were bellying out with the wind, and then striking violently
against the mast with the roll of the ship; the hatches were battened
down; lifelines were stretched along from the poop to the forecastle;
heavy seas were striking the bow, every now and then pouring volumes of
clear blue water over the decks, while the spray flew like a thick
shower overhead, nearly half-mast high; the horizon all round was pitchy
black, except where a dull, hazy, fiery gleam marked its eastern verge;
the surface of the water was one wide sheet of white foam, glistening
through the gloom; and the strength of the gale seemed absolutely to
blow the tops off the giant seas, and scattered them abroad in showers
of spoon drift. The deck was deserted, except by the captain and the
officer of the watch--one watch of the men having been sent below to the
pumps, and the other to their hammocks. The captain was standing under
the lee of the weather bulwark, holding on by the main brace, looking
pale and exhausted; near him, with his arm round the poop-ladder, stood
the officer of the watch, muffled up in his pea-jacket, his eyes red and
inflamed, and speaking in a low, husky whisper, his voice being
completely broken with the exertion of the night.

"Ah, Mr. Wentworth," said the captain, when I made my appearance, "you
are soon tired of your cot. I did not expect to see any of you idlers on
deck in such weather as this."

"It is more pleasant here than down below, I should think, Captain
Darby. Sleep is out of the question. I hope the gale is not going to
last much longer?"

"There is no chance of its moderating at present," said he; "the glass
is still falling, and the appearance of the weather is as bad as it well
can be!"

"Whereabouts are we now, captain? Are we not very near the English

"Yes--we're not very far from it; I hope we shall make the land soon."

I asked one or two more questions, which the captain evidently evaded
answering. I accordingly desisted from my inquiries; but a dark and
undefined presentiment of evil came over me, which I strove in vain to
shake off. Finding the captain so uncommunicative, and the spray, that
was constantly dashing over the decks, anything but comfortable, I
thought my wisest plan would be to crawl to my cot again. On my way to
my cabin, I lingered for a few minutes under the poop awning, and
happened to overhear the captain say, in a low voice, to the chief

"Charters, I wish the sun would show his face again--I don't like this
groping work. I'd give a hundred _pounds_ to be as many _miles_ to the
westward--we are much too near a lee shore, for my taste."

"Oh, sir, we shall, perhaps, see some of the pilot-boats soon, and then
we shall be right enough."

"Ten chances to one against it," replied the other, "in such weather as
this. However, we will fire a gun every five minutes, in case any of
them should be cruising in our neighbourhood. I wish we had bent our
cables before this gale set in. As soon as the hands are called out, we
will bend them, and get the anchors clear, that we may be prepared for
the worst."

"Ay, ay, sir."

This was pretty comfort for me; but as I knew that talking would not
mend matters, I did not mention what I had heard to any of the other
passengers. A very short time had elapsed when the hands were called
out, and the orders of the captain were carried into effect as actively
as possible. It was a work of considerable difficulty and no little
danger to bend the cables, as the ship was plunging and rolling awfully,
and every now and then taking green seas over all, and volumes of water
rushed through the open hawse-hole into the lower deck. At last it _was_
accomplished, and the men had a temporary respite from their labour. The
gale, so far from moderating, rather increased in fury; but the leak had
not gained upon us, and the maintopmast still seemed to stand stiffly up
to the gale, with the close-reefed sail upon it. About four o'clock in
the afternoon, a heavy sea struck the quarter, filled one quarter-boat,
and broke it away from the tackles, and stove the other; and at the same
time the ship _lurched_ so deeply, that the muzzles of her quarterdeck
guns were buried in the water, one of the maintopmast backstays gave
way, and the mast, with a loud crash, went toppling over the side. I was
standing under the poop awning at the time, and was nearly washed off my
feet by a body of water rushing out of the cuddy; and at the same time I
heard the screaming of the ladies in the after cabin. I ran aft, and
knocking at the fair widow's door, was immediately admitted, and found
everything in the greatest confusion, and herself in extreme alarm. The
sea had burst in the quarterport, and deluged the cabin with water; the
deck was strewed with furniture, dashing and tumbling about with the
motion of the ship; and Emily herself was clinging to one of the
stanchions, pale with terror, and drenched to the skin. "Oh, Mr
Wentworth!" was all she could utter, before she fell fainting into my
arms. I will not enter into a description of my feelings at that moment,
when the only woman I had ever truly loved was lying helpless in my
embrace; suffice it that I felt I could die for her. In a short time she
revived; and blushing deeply, apologised for the trouble and alarm she
had occasioned me. My heart was on my lips. I had hitherto, from a
feeling of delicacy, abstained from expressing all I felt towards her;
but now she looked so lovely, so gentle, so confiding, that I was just
on the point of giving utterance to the emotions of my heart, when the
entrance of the servants coming to secure the furniture interrupted the
unseasonable disclosure. I then hastened on deck, where a sight awaited
me which almost paralysed my excited nerves. The ship was _lying to_,
but anything but lying _still_, under the storm mainstaysail; the wreck
of the maintopmast was hanging down the lee-mainrigging, banging
backwards and forwards with the motion of the ship; the men were
clinging like cats to the mainrigging, actively employed in endeavouring
to secure and clear away the wreck; the wind had drawn more round to the
eastward, and was blowing a perfect hurricane--when all at once a loud
cry was heard from the forecastle, of "Breakers on the leebeam!" and
their white tumbling crests were soon distinctly seen by all on deck,
and it was evident we were fast approaching them. For an instant there
was a pause of dead silence among the crew; officers and men looked at
each other, and at the breakers, with blank dismay. The sharp, quick,
distinct tones of the captain's voice startled them into habitual
attention and activity.

"Stations, wear ship! hard up with the helm! run up the forestaysail!
square away the afteryards!"

The staysail just _bellied out_ with the gale, and blew to rags; the
ship fell off for a moment, and then flew up to the wind again. "Cut
away the mizzenmast!" was the next order; and in five minutes the tall
mast fell crashing over the side. The helm was again put up, but in
vain; the ship would not pay off; and we were bodily and rapidly
drifting down upon the breakers.

"Have both bower cables clear below, and all ready with the sheet!"
shouted the captain.

I ran, or rather staggered, as fast as I could to the after cabin, and
requested admittance. Emily was there, looking dreadfully pale. I
suppose my countenance betrayed the agitation of my mind; for she
instantly exclaimed--and her demeanour was unnaturally calm and
collected, though her voice trembled, and her cheek was blanched with

"Is there any hope, Mr Wentworth? Tell me the worst; I am prepared for
it, and can bear it calmly." I hesitated. "You need not speak," said
she; "your silence tells me there is no hope."

"There is indeed none," replied I, "but in the mercy of an overruling
Providence. In another hour, our doom, whether for life or for death,
will be sealed."

I saw the pang of agony that flitted across her countenance at this
intelligence; she gasped for breath, and seemed as if about to faint;
but she immediately recovered herself, and looking upwards, with mild
resignation, she murmured, "It is a painful trial--but _His_ will be
done." By my advice she put on some warmer but lighter clothing, and I
then supported her to the quarterdeck. I felt the shuddering of her
frame when the awful sight of approaching destruction was before her.
The scene, altogether, was one to appal the bravest--to make the boldest
"hold his breath;" never will the remembrance of it be erased from my
mind; and, to this hour, it sometimes haunts my dreams. Scarcely
half-a-mile to leeward lay the coast--dark, frowning, precipitous, and
apparently inaccessible; its lower line completely hidden from our view;
but at intervals the dark and rugged summits of the rocks were seen
through the sheets of white foam dashed over them by the breakers. To
windward the prospect was as cheerless; darkness was beginning to settle
on the waters; and in the distance nothing was to be seen but the foam
of the crested seas, flashing indistinct and ghastly through the gloom.
Viewed by that uncertain light, and rising in such various waving forms,
they seemed to my overwrought fancy as if the sea had given up her
dead, and the spirits of the departed were assembling on the waters, to
witness our approaching fate. The ship was already almost a wreck; the
mizzenmast was still hanging alongside, having smashed the poop
hammock-nettings and bulwark in its fall; the stumps of the fore and
maintopmast were all that remained aloft; the giant seas were dashing
over the sides, deluging the decks fore and aft, and blinding us with
their thick showers of spray; the lower yardarms dipped into the water,
as the half-waterlogged ship rolled heavily and deeply, groaning and
trembling in every timber, like a living creature in its mortal agony.
And then the accompaniments!--oh, how often since have I in fancy heard
again the hollow, _ominous_ moaning of the gale, mourning, as it were,
over the wreck of its own violence; the roaring of the waters, as they
rose, and rushed, and dashed against our side; the dull, mournful,
dirge-like sound of our minute-guns; the shuddering cries of the timid;
the curses and imprecations of the hardened and desperate! Oh, if the
recollection of it be so appalling, what must have been the reality?

Some of the men were actively employed in endeavouring to clear away the
wreck of the mizzenmast; others cutting adrift the small booms and
spars, and all such light articles as might be instrumental in bearing
them to the shore; and the passengers, and those who were unemployed,
were gazing, in the gloomy silence of despair, upon their approaching
destruction. I saw that there was no hope, and that the last struggle
was fast approaching. I lashed the trembling and weeping Emily to a
spar, and whispered in her ear, "Pray to the Ruler of the winds and
waves, dearest Emily! _He_ can save when there is none other to help!"
She pressed my hand in silence, smiled through her tears, and looked

We had only one resource left now, and that was one of feeble
promise--both bower anchors were cut away--the cables ran out to the
clinches, and snapped like threads; the sheet-cable shared the same

"I knew it," exclaimed the captain--"I knew it was in vain. No hemp that
ever was twisted could stand the strain of such a sea and breeze. It is
all over with us now! Every man look out for his own safety! You had
better lash yourselves to the spars, my lads!"

The momentary check given to the ship brought her broadside round to the
breakers. Never shall I forget the cold shudder which came over me when
the vessel rose upon the crest of an enormous sea, and seemed to be
balancing herself for a moment, as if loth to meet her doom; another
instant, and she struck with a shock that made us all start from the
deck, and a crash as if the whole fabric were falling to pieces beneath
us. Again she was lifted by the sea, and dashed on the rocks nearer the
shore, when she fell over on her side with her masts towards the beach,
along which parties of men were hurrying, dimly visible in the dusk of
evening, eager, but unable to afford us assistance; while the heights
above were thronged with country people, who had been attracted to the
spot by the report of our guns. The sea, which had dashed us on our
broadside, swept away with it the boats, booms, spars--everything, in
fact, from the upper deck; and bore its promiscuous prey onwards towards
the beach. What was my agony to see the spar to which Emily was lashed
sharing the fate of the rest! She tossed her arms wildly over her head,
gave one shrill and piercing scream, and was borne away and hidden from
my view by the following sea. "I will save her," I exclaimed, "or

The hull of the stranded ship formed a kind of breakwater, and the sea
was comparatively smooth under her lee. I had stripped myself, in
preparation for the coming struggle, of all superfluous clothing; and,
crawling out as far as possible on the mainmast, I committed myself
fearlessly to the sea, which was to me quite a familiar element. A few
vigorous strokes, and the friendly elevation of a rising wave gave me a
sight of Emily; I immediately swam towards her, and by partly supporting
myself on the spar, and directing it towards the shore, I was fortunate
enough to succeed in bearing my precious charge in safety to the beach,
against which we were dashed with great violence, but fortunately
without any injury. She was quite insensible, and lay on the sand so
still and pale that at first my heart died within me; I thought she was
gone for ever.

"Emily! dearest Emily!" I frantically exclaimed.

A faint sigh was the answer. The sudden revulsion from grief to
transport, at this assurance that life was not extinct, was almost too
much for me. Faintly, but fervently, did I breathe forth my
thanksgivings to a merciful Providence, and then, with the assistance of
some of the inhabitants, I bore the still unconscious form of my beloved
companion to a fisherman's hut, which was perched in a fissure of the
neighbouring rocks.

"Don't be afeared, sir," said the old fisherman who assisted me in
supporting Emily; "don't be afeared. Her cheek is a little pale or so;
but my ould ooman 'll soon bring the colour into it again. Bless her
ould heart, she's a famous doctor? But here we are," said he, giving a
thundering rattle against the door. "Betsy, Betsy, heave ahead, ould
woman!--this is no night to keep flesh and blood on the wrong side of
the house."

The door was cautiously opened, and, shading her candle with her hand
from the rude blast, a tidily-dressed, respectable-looking woman made
her appearance, who gave a cry of surprise and alarm when she saw the
apparently lifeless body of Emily. She began pouring out a whole string
of questions which her husband quickly cut short with--

"Come, come, Bet, there's no time for _backing_ and _filling_ now. Get
the poor thing stripped, ould ooman, and put her into a warm bed as
soon as ee can. There's a ship ashore below there, and this ere lady
comed ashore with this ere gentleman."

"For Heaven's sake be quick, my good woman," said I; "you shall be
handsomely rewarded for your trouble."

"Reward, sir!" replied the woman; "neither Bill nor me looks for reward
for doing our duty. More's the luck, there's a good fire in both ends of
the house to-night; bring her in here, poor thing."

In half-an-hour, thanks to blankets, hot water, and Schiedam, Emily was
in a quiet and placid slumber; and the fisherman and I, after having
fortified ourselves with a glass of good Hollands, hastened again to the
beach. The storm was still raging in all its fury; lights were flashing
along the shore, and parties of men were running up and down, some in
search of plunder, others with the more benevolent wish to afford
assistance to the shipwrecked crew of the Indiaman. The beach was
strewed with broken spars, hen-coops, chests of tea, and ship timber;
and every now and then the fisherman's light flashed upon a dead body,
lying extended partly on the sand and partly in the water. As we were
hurrying along, I stumbled, and nearly fell over something soft, which I
could not distinguish in the darkness, the fisherman being some paces
ahead of me with his lantern. I stooped down, and found it was a human

"Poor fellow!" muttered I--"he sleeps sound; 'tis the sleep of death."
As I spoke, my hand touched the face, which, to my great surprise, was
still warm. "Ah, there is life here still!" And of this I soon had
startling conviction; for my finger was suddenly and sharply bitten,
and, at the same moment I saw a little, round, dim-looking bundle
rolling over and over with great rapidity along the beach. I was
startled at first; but quickly recovered myself, and gave chase to the
mysterious-looking object, calling out to the fisherman to join me. We
soon overtook the object of our pursuit; and, cold and wearied as we
both were, and surrounded by sights and sounds of horror, I could not
forbear laughing at the sight that met my eyes. There, rolled up like a
hedgehog, with his leather bottle by his side, and a red nightcap
fastened on with a pocket-handkerchief, his little round chubby face
buried in his hands, and his knees drawn up to his chin, lay the little
doctor, his whole body trembling with fright. I flashed the light across
his face, but he kept his eyes obstinately shut, and buried his face
deeper in his hands.

"Doctor!" said I, shaking him.

"Oh, oh," shuddered he, "don't kill me--that's a good fellow! I'll give
you my brandy bottle if you won't." I touched him in the ribs. "Oh! I am
a dead man," groaned he, recoiling from the touch; "drowned like an ass
at sea, and now going to be stuck like a pig on shore! Oh!"


"Never was one in my life!--my name's Posset. Drenched to the
skin!--cold--cold! Don't kill me--that's a good fellow. I am so cold."

"Don't you know me, doctor?" said I, almost crying with laughter; "don't
you know Wentworth?"

"Eh! What?" returned he, gradually uncoiling himself, till his little
thick legs were stretched to their full length (shortness, I should
say), and his sharp twinkling eyes stared full up in my face. "So it
_is_! Give me your hand, my boy--who'd have thought it? How did you
escape? Devil takes care of his own, eh?"

"So it seems, doctor," said I, laughing; "that accounts satisfactorily
for _your_ appearance here."

"Ha, ha, ha! have me there--eh, Wentworth? Help me to take the stopper
out of the bottle--that's a good fellow."

He raised himself on his elbow, turned his face to the sky, and held
deep communion with _his_ pocket-companion; but, happening to cast his
eyes upon _mine_, he started nimbly to his feet, and, edging close to
my side, muttered, with great trepidation--

"Who's your friend, eh? Not a wrecker, I hope? Sad fellows
those--cut-throats, and all that."

Having set the little gentleman's fears at rest on that score, we
returned to the cottage, which was now crowded with survivors from the
wreck, some dreadfully bruised, others only exhausted with cold and
fatigue. We heard that several others had taken shelter in another
cottage, about half-a-mile distant, and that a messenger had been
despatched to a neighbouring town for medical assistance. It was found,
on comparing notes, that only about fifty people were saved out of the
crew of one hundred and twenty. Sad and silent were the greetings of the
survivors; for the loud roaring of the wind, the rattling of the door
and casements, and the low, rumbling sound of the distant breakers,
recalled but too forcibly the horrors of the scenes they had just
witnessed, and the sad fate of their unfortunate shipmates. As soon as
the little doctor was revived by the heat, and by a dose of the
fisherman's restorative, he hastened to make himself useful in a
professional way; and his little rosy cheeks and merry chuckling laugh
had the effect of soon dispelling the gloom which hung over the party.
In a short time, we heard, in the intervals of the gale, the faint,
distant sound of a horse's hoofs, galloping along the beach.

"There comes the young doctor, I'll take my 'davy," said the fisherman.
"Never knowed him let the grass grow under his horse's feet in time of
need--blessings on his kind heart!" The door opened, and in walked the
expected visiter. He was quite a youth in appearance, but tall, and of a
most prepossessing exterior.

"I hope there has no serious accident happened, William."

"Serious enough, your honour," said the fisherman. "There's a fine ship
stranded just below; many of the poor fellows on the beach are beyond
the reach of your assistance; there is not so much as a broken bone
here, however--nothing but wet clothes and bruises. But there's a lady
in the other end of the house, doctor--you had better go to her first."

We were just going to knock at the door of Emily's room, when the
fisherman's wife opened it, and on seeing me, exclaimed--

"Your wife has just wakened from a sound sleep, sir, and looks quite
fresh and life-like."

I smiled at the good woman's mistake, which I did not see any occasion
to rectify; but I followed the young doctor into the room. I saw in an
instant that Emily had heard the woman's address to me; for as soon as
her eye caught mine she blushed deeply, and averted her face. I almost
flattered myself I heard a gentle sigh.

The young doctor, in the meantime, approached the bed, and was about
respectfully to feel her pulse, when, all at once, to my great surprise,
he exclaimed--

"Merciful Heaven! Emily, dear Emily!" And, without the slightest
ceremony, he printed kiss after kiss upon her fair cheek. My first
impulse was to spring forward to chastise him for his insolence; but I
felt my limbs tremble under me. I staggered against the wall, hid my
face in my hands, and absolutely groaned with anguish of spirit. There
was an end to all my bright visions; I had flattered myself that the cup
of happiness was just at my lips, and now it seemed to be dashed from
them for ever. I had saved Emily only for the arms of a happy rival!

Such were the thoughts that flashed through my mind with the rapidity of
lightning; and with them visions of ropes, and razors, and pistols. Two
words of Emily dispelled them, and raised me again from the depths of
despair into the seventh heaven of hope and happiness. These cabalistic
words were--"Dear brother!" The young doctor now turned round to me, and
said, hesitatingly--

"And this gentleman, Emily? Pray introduce me to him."

"Mr Wentworth, allow me to introduce to your notice and friendship, my
brother, Edward Walford."

"Wentworth!" said young Walford; "there is surely some mistake here,
Emily--I thought the woman called this gentleman your husband!"

"So she did, Edward," replied she, blushing; "but it was a mistake on
her part, and not a surprising one. I am more astonished at _your_
ignorance of my affairs than at hers. You cannot have received my two
last letters from the Cape."

She then informed him of the events which had taken place since she left
Madras; spoke kindly and affectionately of her late husband, who, she
said, had always behaved like a tender and considerate father to her;
and expressed the warmest gratitude to him for his liberal provision for
her future welfare. She hinted delicately that, though she grieved for
his loss as that of a dear and valued friend, her feelings towards him
had been chiefly those of gratitude and esteem. She gave a rapid and
graphic sketch of the voyage, and ended with an account of the
immediately preceding scenes of its fatal termination. Her cheek grew
pale, and her voice trembled, as she detailed the horrors of the wreck.

"Although I had thought myself perfectly resigned," she said, "to what
appeared to be my inevitable fate, yet, when that awful sea tore me away
from the deck, I felt as if my last earthly hope was wrested from me;
that moment, snatched as it were from the confines of a violent and
awful death, was crowded with the recollections of a lifetime, which
flashed, with lightning-like rapidity, across my memory. I thought of
all I had done and suffered, and then of the extinction of my fond
hopes of meeting and benefiting those dearest to my heart. There was
agony in the thought--I screamed, and became unconscious. The cold
dashing of the sea, while it half-drowned, revived me from my fit. I was
too faint and frightened to speak, but I was aware that Mr. Wentworth
was beside me; I felt that I was saved, and I relapsed into
unconsciousness. To this gentleman," she said turning her tearful eyes
towards me, "am I indebted, under Heaven, for my escape from a watery
grave. Oh, Mr. Wentworth! how can I ever adequately prove my gratitude
to you?"

"You owe me none," replied I. "The mere selfish impulses of our nature
prompt us to endeavour to save what we value most. I _thought_ I loved
you; but it was not till I saw you struggling in the waves that I knew
how _very_ dear you were to my heart. Pardon my abruptness; if you think
it presumption in a comparative stranger so _soon_ to talk of love, I
will wait months, years--only speak one word, Emily--say, may I hope?"

She was silent, but her eyes filled with tears, and she looked
beseechingly at her brother.

"I see how it is, Mr. Wentworth," said the doctor, laughing; "my sister
deputes me to act as her interpreter. Her eyes say to you, as plain as
they can speak (though you do not seem to understand their language),
'You saved my _life_--who has a better claim upon my hand and heart?' Am
I right, Emily?" said he, putting her small fair hand into mine.

She made no reply, but gently returned the pressure of my hand, and
looked up in my face with such a sweet smile, that I could not resist
the temptation to imprint the first fond seal of love upon her glowing

"Come, Emily," said young Walford, "your _brother_ has given you to Mr.
Wentworth, and now your _doctor_ must take care of you for him. You are
too weak yet to bear more excitement; we will leave you to your
repose." He then took my arm, and bidding Emily adieu, we went into the
other room, where we found the most exhausted of the party stretched on
the floor in various attitudes, giving audible notice that their lungs
had not been materially injured by their late submersion; while the
shuddering moans and convulsive starts of some of the number showed that
fancy was busy within them, acting over again the dreadful scenes of the

When day had begun to break, the whole party hastened out to the beach.
Not a vestige remained of our unfortunate ship: the hull was completely
broken up, and the shore was strewed for miles with portions of the
wreck. We found Captain Darby, Wildman, and the survivors who had taken
refuge in the other cottage, busily employed in the sad duty of
collecting the dead bodies of their less fortunate shipmates. Young
Walford and I had a long and interesting conversation together, in the
course of which he told me that his mother and the rest of the family
were living in the neighbouring town, in which he was practising as
surgeon. He was obliged to return home immediately, he said, to attend
to his professional avocations; and, leaving me to apologise to his
sister when she awoke, he promised either to come or send for her as
soon as possible. I returned to the cottage. Emily was sleeping, and
remained for three or four hours in a sound slumber, from which she had
only just awakened, when a post-chaise drove up to the door, a handsome
middle-aged lady stepped out, and in a moment Emily was in the arms of
her mother. For some time they embraced each other in silence; but their
lips were moving, and the tears were streaming down their cheeks.

"Dear, dear mother!" at last sobbed Emily.

"Blessings on my darling!" replied she, holding Emily from her, and then
hugging her to her heart; "let me look again on thy sweet face, my
child!" she continued, gazing earnestly and affectionately at her, and
then murmuring, "Oh, if I had lost you, Emily!" she again burst into an
agony of tears. At last recollecting herself, she exclaimed, "Edward has
told me all--where is _he_--where is the gallant man who saved your

"This is Mr Wentworth," said Emily.

Mrs Walford took my hand in both hers, and pressed it to her heart, and,
with a broken and trembling voice, she exclaimed--

"The blessing of a widowed mother be upon you, sir. You have saved my
grey hairs from going down in sorrow to the grave."

I was greatly affected by her warm expressions of gratitude, and by the
almost maternal cordiality with which she urged me to accompany them
home. This invitation, it may be readily supposed, I was not at all
unwilling to avail myself of; and, as none of the party were encumbered
with baggage, nothing having been saved from the wreck, we soon left the
cottage, carrying with us the good wishes and blessings of its inmates,
whom Mrs Walford had most liberally rewarded for their hospitality.
Three months afterwards, Emily Stacely became my wife; and, as I said
before, sir, I owe the greatest blessing of my life to a storm and its

The steamboat soon afterwards entered the Mersey; and, when we parted on
the quay at Liverpool, it was with mutual regret, and with a promise to
renew our acquaintance as soon as possible. I have since had reason,
like Mr Wentworth, to bless a "storm and its consequences;" for the next
greatest blessing to a good wife is a good friend, and such he has ever
proved himself to be, since our "stormy" meeting in the steamboat.


The ill-fated struggle of the partisans of the House of Stuart, in the
year 1745, terminated, as our readers know, in the total ruin of almost
all who were engaged in that unfortunate rebellion. The scaffold was
deluged with the noblest blood in Scotland; and even those who were so
fortunate as to escape the axe of the executioner, became penniless
wanderers in a foreign land, meeting with little sympathy, and still
less relief.

Amongst those who preferred the risk of hanging in their own country, to
the certainty of starvation in a foreign one, was Reginald, or, as he
was usually called, Ranald Grahame of Inshannock--a gentleman who was
distantly connected with the Viscounts of Dundee. His estates were
extensive, although his rental was small. He resided in an old building
called the Tower of Gloom, which stood on a ridge of a terrific defile
overhanging Loch Lomond.

Great rewards were offered for his apprehension by the Duke of Argyle,
who entertained towards him a very hostile feeling, not founded in any
patriotic desire to put down a rebel, but from an old grudge, either
real or imaginary, which the great M'Callum Mor was not disposed to
stomach. Hitherto, every effort to capture Reginald had been fruitless;
for, secure in the devoted attachment of his tenantry, and the
difficulty of an approach to the tower, he laughed at the threats of the
chief of the Campbells, although backed by formidable government
proclamations. It was to this security that Reginald became a victim. In
his earlier years he had been intimate with Donald Campbell of Dungyle,
who, although the nominal proprietor of these lands, derived nothing
from them, as they were burdened by what is called, in Scottish
law-language, a wadset. Now, Donald found it somewhat inconvenient to
live upon nothing, or next to it; and he thought it no bad speculation
to exchange his nominal estate for a real one, by handing his friend
Reginald over to the tender mercies of the ministers of George II.; and,
in return, quietly taking his place in the Tower of Gloom.

Having thus made up his mind on the propriety of bettering his
condition, and having reconciled his conscience to the betrayal of his
friend, by assuming that, as Reginald would, one day or other, be
infallibly taken prisoner and executed, it was much better, although it
might shorten his life a few weeks or months, that a friend rather than
a stranger should get whatever recompense was to be got. Indeed, if any
scruples still lurked in his breast, his duties as a citizen at once put
an end to them, for, as he said, "a true patriot must sacrifice every
private feeling to the public good." Influenced by these mixed
considerations, he applied for, and obtained a promise, if he should be
able to surprise the Tower of Gloom and its proprietor, that he would be
rewarded with a gift of the forfeited estate of Inshannock.

Having made every arrangement, in the event of success, Donald Campbell,
with a body of retainers, proceeded to the Tower of Gloom. Hiding his
followers in a copse of wood in the immediate vicinity, Donald hastened
to the abode of his friend, and, claiming his hospitality, was readily
admitted as an inmate. The result may be easily anticipated: Reginald
found himself a prisoner, for the first time in his life. Resolved
rather to perish than surrender, the unfortunate laird ran to an
apartment overlooking the loch, and leaped from the window into the
water. His false friend, seeing his desperate efforts, threw him a rope
as if in kindness, to support him, while a boat came near.

"That rope was meant for my neck, and I leave it for a traitor's," were
the last words that came from the lips of the betrayed one.

The pangs of remorse penetrated the heart of the insidious Campbell. He
leaped himself into a boat, held out an oar toward his drowning friend,
with real oaths of fidelity; but Reginald pushed it from him, and
abandoned himself to death. The waters of the lake are singularly
transparent near the rock on which the Tower of Gloom was perched; and
Campbell beheld his victim gradually sinking, till he seemed to lie
among the broad weeds under the waters. Once, only once, he saw, or
thought he saw, him lift his hand as if to reach his; and that dying
hand never left his remembrance.

Campbell having thus successfully accomplished the enterprise he had
projected, applied for and obtained the reward he had stipulated for. He
received a grant of the lands of Inshannock; and the long-wished-for
Tower of Gloom came into his hands, together with the sum of money
offered for the capture or death of Reginald. So far, therefore, as
worldly matters went, Donald Campbell, Esq. of Inshannock, had no cause
to complain. But he was far from happy, for he could not but reproach
himself with the death of one who, trusting to his honour, had been
basely betrayed; and those reasons of expediency which had satisfied him
when he contemplated the deed, after its accomplishment lost all their
previous efficacy. He had another and separate cause of distress; his
only son, Roderick, a promising youth, above sixteen years of age, had
suddenly disappeared in the year 1745, and no traces of him whatever
could be found. Every effort had been made to discover his fate, but in
vain; thus, although Donald Campbell was, apparently, a man of opulence,
he was in reality a much less happy man than when he lived from hand to
mouth, and knew not one day where he was to look for provision for the

Although this enterprise had been successful, Campbell did not reap all
the fruits of his perfidy; for some of the remote portions of the
Highland estate which he had procured a gift of from the crown, were
altogether unproductive, the tenants refusing to recognise any other
chief than the son of the deceased proprietor. William Grahame was, at
the time of his father's death, a boy of fifteen. He had been removed
from the Tower of Gloom by his mother's relations, about the time of the
suppression of the rebellion, and placed by them in the Marischal
College in the city of Aberdeen.

The lad, who had no great taste for classical literature, was by no
means comfortable, and longed to return to the purple heath of his
native hills. So long as his father lived, William behaved himself with
considerable propriety, and made some progress in his studies; but no
sooner did the tidings arrive of the untimely fate of the ill-starred
Reginald, than his son disappeared from the university, and the anxious
search of his friends was unable to obtain any traces of his flight.
Some time afterwards, a body was found in the river Dee, in a state of
great decomposition, which generally was supposed to be that of the
young man, and was duly interred as the corpse of the last Grahame of

Time hurried on; and the new proprietor of Inshannock had begun to feel
the effect of its rapid transit: he was no longer the vigorous man of
forty; and as he passed towards the period of threescore, the effects of
age told severely upon him.

For a series of years, Donald Campbell had been very much exposed to the
depredations of a set of caterans or gipsies, who frequently kept him in
a state of siege in his tower.

This tower was of the true Scottish fabric, divided into three storeys:
the highest of which contained the dormitories; the second or middle
served as a general refectory; and the lowest contained his cattle,
which required this lodgment at night, or very few would have been found
next morning.

The leader of the gipsies frequented the fairs on the north side of the
Frith, well mounted--paying at inns and ferries like a gentleman; and
attended by bands of gillies, whose green coats, cudgels, and knives,
were sufficiently feared by the tenantry of the Lennox. The gipsy
chieftain had also a grim cur of the true black-faced breed, famous for
collecting and driving off sheep, and therefore distinguished by his own
name. In the darkest cleughs or ravines, or in the deepest snow, this
faithful animal had never been known to abandon the flock commited to
his care, or to fail in tracing a fugitive. But, as sight and strength
began to fail, the four-footed chieftain was deposed, imprisoned in a
byre loft, and finally sentenced to be drowned.

In one of those drear midnights so awful to travellers in the Highlands,
a man, wrapped in a large coarse plaid, strode from a stone ridge, on
the border of Loch Lomond, into a boat which he had drawn from its
covert. He rowed resolutely and alone, looking carefully to the right
and to the left, till he suffered the tide to bear his little bark into
a gorge or gulf, so narrow, deep, and dark, that no escape but death
seemed to await him. Precipices, rugged with dwarf shrubs and broken
granite, rose more than a hundred feet on each side, sundered only by
the stream, which a thirsty season had reduced to a sluggish and shallow
pool. The boatman, poising himself erect on his staff, drew three times
the end of a strong chain which hung among the underwood. In a few
minutes a basket descended from the pinnacle of the cliff; and, having
moored his boat, he placed himself in the wicker carriage, and was
safely drawn into a crevice high in the fissure of a rock, into which he

The boat was moored; but the adventurer had not observed that it
contained another passenger. Underneath a plank, laid artfully along its
bottom, and shrouded in his plaid of the darkest green, another man had
been lurking more than an hour before the owner of the boat entered it,
and remained hidden by the darkness of the night.

His purpose was answered. He had now discovered--what he had sacrificed
many a perilous night to obtain a knowledge of--the mode by which the
owner of the Tower of Gloom gained access to his impregnable fortress
unsuspected. He instantly unmoored the boat, and rowed slowly back
across the loch to an island near the centre. He rested on its oars, and
looked down into the transparent water. "It is there still," he said to
himself; and drawing close among the rocks, leaped on dry land. A dog of
the true shepherd breed sat waiting under the bushes, and ran before him
till they descended together under an archway of stones and withered
branches. "Watch the boat," said the Highlander to his faithful guide,
who sprang immediately away to obey him. Meanwhile his master lifted up
one of the grey stones, took a bundle from beneath it, and equipped
himself in such a suit as a trooper of Campbell's regiment usually wore.
He then looked at the edge of his dirk, and returned to his boat.

Having thus acquired an accurate knowledge of the secret mode of access
to the tower, the stranger returned to the place where he had seen the
basket descending for the purpose of conveying its present possessor to
the tower; climbing up its rough face with the activity acquired by
mountain warfare, he hung among furze and broken rocks like a wild cat,
till he found the crevice through which the basket had seemed to issue.
It was artfully concealed by tufts of heather; but creeping on his hands
and knees, he forced his way into the interior. There the deepest
darkness confounded him, till he had laid his hands on a chain which he
rightly guessed to be the same he had seen hanging on the side of the
lake when Campbell landed. One end was coiled up; but he readily
concluded that the end must have some communication with the keep; and
he followed its course, till he found it inserted in what seemed a
subterraneous wall. A crevice behind the pulley admitted a gleam of
light; but, striving to raise himself, he leaned too forcibly on the
chain, and he was somewhat startled to hear the sound of a deep-toned

Donald Campbell was sitting alone in the chamber, from the windows of
which, fifteen years before, his betrayed friend, Reginald Grahame, had
precipitated himself into the lake below. His eyes were fixed on the
blazing logs on the hearth. The thoughts of former times were flitting
before him: he pondered on the days of his youth, before ambition and
avarice had fixed their poisoned arrows in his heart; ere the world had
banished those notions of virtue and religion that his excellent parents
had, in his boyhood, so unceasingly inculcated. Many minor delinquencies
had he committed; but the crime which now preyed upon his mind was the
betrayal of his friend, embittered as it was by the reflection of the
sordid motive that induced it.

In this state of mind he was startled by one of those figures which
fancy so frequently suggests to a disordered mind. In the masses of the
burning embers, he traced the outline of a face: imagination lent its
aid; and he recognised a resemblance of Reginald. He started
up:--"Avaunt, base mockery; am I to be daunted with a mere figment of
the brain? Alas! trifles now disturb me. If I have sinned, I have
suffered: the loss of my only son has been the penalty. I have paid for
my misdeeds." So saying, he sat back on his chair quite exhausted; and
at that moment the bell rung. At the deep and hollow sound he cast his
eyes fearfully round, but made no attempt to rise, though he stretched
his hand towards a staff which lay near him. The stranger saw the tremor
of the dismayed Lord of the Tower; and, putting his lips to the crevice,
murmured, "Father," in a low and supplicating tone. That word made
Campbell tremble. But when the other added, "Father! father! save me,"
he sprang to the wall, drew back the iron bolts of a narrow door,
invisible to any eye but his own, and gave admission to the muffled man,
who leaped eagerly in. Years had passed since Campbell had seen his son,
and many rumours had been spread that the younger Campbell had not
really perished, but had engaged in the service of the Pretender. The
hopes and love of the father all revived in one moment; and the sudden
apparition--the appeal for mercy--had full effect on his imagination.
The voice, eyes, and figure of the stranger resembled his son: all else
might and must be changed by the lapse of so many years. He wept like an
infant on his shoulder, grasped his hand a hundred times, and forgot to
blame him for the rash disloyalty he had shown to his father's cause.

Roderick, in explanation, mentioned a variety of circumstances
explanatory of the reasons of his evasion: how he had escaped, after the
battle of Culloden, to France, where he had endeavoured to earn a scanty
livelihood; and how he had at last resolved to revisit his native land,
in hopes of obtaining the forgiveness of his father. His narrative was
much abridged, by the fond delight of the old man weeping and rejoicing
over the return of his prodigal son.

Old Campbell eagerly asked by what happy chance he had discovered the
secret entrance, and whether any present danger threatened him. Roderick
answered the first question by repeating what our readers are already
acquainted with; and he added, in answer to the second, that he feared
nothing but the emissaries of the government, from whom he could not be
better concealed than in the Tower of Gloom. Old Campbell agreed with
joyful eagerness, but presently added--

"Roderick, my boy, we must trust in Annette: she's too near in kin to
betray you; and ye were to have been her spouse."

Then he explained that his niece was the only one person in his
household acquainted with the secret of the basket and the bell; that by
her help he could provide a mattress and provisions for his son; but
without it he would be forced to hazard the most dangerous

Roderick was commanded to return into the cavern passage, while his
delighted father prepared his kinswoman for her new guest; and he
listened greedily to catch the answers Annette gave to her uncle's tale.
He heard the hurry of her steps preparing, as he supposed, a larger
supper for the old laird's table, with the simplicity and hospitality of
a Highland maiden. He was not mistaken. When the bannocks, and grouse,
and claret were arranged, Campbell presented his restored son to the
mistress of the feast. Roderick was pale and dumb as he looked upon her.
She came before him like a dream of some lovely picture remembered in
his youth; and with her came some remembrance of his former self. The
old laird, forgetting that his niece had been but a child, and his son a
stripling, when they parted, indulged the joy of his heart, by asking
Annette a thousand times whether she remembered her betrothed husband;
and urging his son, since he was still unmarried, to pledge his promised

Annette, whose predilections in favour of her cousin had been created by
association--for she remembered him as far back as her recollections
went--rejoiced at his reappearance, after so long an interval, and
seemed by no means disinclined to listen to her uncle's proposition.

Besides the persons just mentioned, there were present in the apartment
an old woman, and a dog, also evidently advanced in years. The latter,
upon the entrance of Roderick, saluted him with a loud bark; but,
strange to say, suddenly paused in the middle of his hostile
demonstrations, and, after smelling for half-a-minute, as if he was
investigating what sort of person the intruder was, quietly retreated to
his place by the fireside, apparently satisfied that all was right.

The fire on the hearth was replenished, and burned cheerfully.
Immediately opposite to the dog, on one side of the ingle, sat the
woman. She was aged, and bent almost double, with no apparent sense of
sight or hearing, though her eyes were fixed on the spindle she was
twirling; and sometimes, when the laird raised his voice, she put her
lean hand on the hood that covered her ears.

"Do you not remember poor old Moome?" said Annette; and the laird led
his supposed son towards the superannuated crone, though without
expecting any mark of recognition. Whether she had noticed anything that
had passed, could not be gathered from her idiot laugh; and she had
almost ceased to speak. Therefore, as if only dumb domestic animals had
been sitting by his hearth, Campbell pursued his arrangements for his
son's safety, advising him to sleep composedly in the wooden panelled
bed that formed a closet off this chamber, without regarding the
half-living skeleton, who never left her corner. He gave him his
blessing, and departed, taking with him his niece and the key of this
dreary room, promising to return and watch by his bedside. He came back
in a few minutes; and, while Roderick couched himself on his mattress,
took his station by the fire and fell fast asleep, overcome with joy.

The embers gradually sunk on the hearth, and the light diminished in
proportion. Roderick, who had lain awake for some time, began to feel
the approach of sleep; and, whilst in a state of transition, he
observed, by the dying embers of the fire, the old woman cautiously
rise, and, removing the dirk from the side of her sleeping master,
approach his bed with cautious step and silent tread. The astonishment
of Roderick at beholding this infirm creature advance, with a purpose so
evidently hostile, was so great, that, in place of jumping from his
couch, and wresting the weapon from the hands of its weak and attenuated
possessor, he lay fascinated, as birds are said to be by the eyes of the
rattlesnake, until the actual advent of the apparent assassin. The
motions of the beldame were carefully watched in a quarter which she
little suspected; for she barely reached the couch on which her intended
victim reposed, and was about to raise her arm to strike, than the aged
dog sprang at her throat, and brought her to the ground, from which she
never rose again: the frail thread of her existence had been snapped by
the suddenness of the onset.

This unexpected occurrence awoke the lord of the tower, who, springing
up, beheld the nurse lying on the ground, with the dog growling over

This at once aroused Roderick from his trance; and he briefly explained
to his father the singularly mysterious scene he had witnessed, and the
fact of his rescue by the wonderful sagacity of the dog.

The father was perfectly amazed that such an attempt should have been
made on the life of his son by one whom he naturally supposed would, as
his vassal, have rather died a thousand deaths than have touched a hair
of the head of the son of her chief. The only plausible ground he could
assign for this murderous attempt was the insanity of the old woman,
who, perhaps, perplexed by the unexpected appearance of a stranger in a
place where none had heretofore been, had, by some hallucination,
fancied him a robber; and, under this impression, had boldly gone
forward to do battle for the laird.

"Dear Roderick," said the father, "this is a sad welcome to the Tower
of Gloom. If I was superstitious, I should augur something bad from this
event. Poor Moome! she had long been a faithful servant, and I could
have wished her fate different. We must conceal it from Annette. She
will be sufficiently unhappy as it is; and it would be cruel to add to
her annoyance by disclosing the strange fact that she had perished in
attempting the life of her benefactor's son. Once more, good-night, dear

So saying, he pressed his son's forehead to his lips, and, removing the
body, left Roderick to his own thoughts.

Poor Annette was shocked exceedingly by the unexpected death of the
nurse; but sorrow is said to be near akin to love; and, in the delicate
attentions of her cousin Roderick, the fair Celt felt her grief
strangely soothed, and her bosom experience sensations to which it had
previously been a stranger.

Old Campbell witnessed the progress of this passion with great delight,
and gave the young couple every opportunity for studying "_la belle
passion_:" indeed, the necessary confinement of Roderick in the tower
threw them so much together, that it was no wonder they became attached
to each other.

The scene from the top of the tower was magnificent: the clear and
pellucid water of the fairest of Scotland's lakes at its feet; the isles
with which its glassy bosom was studded, looked like so many fairy
bowers; and the magnificent range of mountains to the northward, added
to the grandeur of a scene, the beauty of which words can but
inadequately express. Often, at night, by the light of the silvery moon,
the cousins would repair to this favourite seat, where Roderick would

    "Of moving accidents by flood and field;
    Of hair-breadth 'scapes i' the imminent deadly breach;
    Of being taken by the insolent foe,
    And sold to slavery;"

whilst Annette listened breathless, but delighted, to his words.

It was here that he first ventured to breathe of love. Seizing the
guitar from his cousin's hand, he poured forth his feelings in the
following verses:--

    "Impell'd by angry fate's decree
      In foreign lands to roam,
    With heavy heart I bid adieu
      To happiness and home.

    "I braved the perils of the land,
      The dangers of the sea;
    But every suffering is repaid
      By one kind look from thee."

It is unnecessary to trouble our readers with all the love-passages
between the two lovesick swains, which, although exceedingly interesting
to the parties themselves, is anything but agreeable to any one else. It
is sufficient to say, that Annette yielded her heart to her cousin, and
that her uncle rejoiced at the surrender. A change for the better was
evident in Roderick. He was no longer the gloomy repulsive individual
that he once was. His manners gradually softened; and even the coldness
with which he originally repelled his father's kindness began to
disappear. He had been barely a fortnight in the tower, when he
expressed an urgent desire to be allowed to leave it for a short time.
Old Campbell was not a little surprised at this, and represented the
great risk he ran in leaving a place of security, and exposing himself
to the chance of apprehension: he also expressed some curiosity to know
what engagement could lure him from his father's house at such a time.
Roderick replied, that, were the business his own, he would not have
scrupled to have explained everything to his father; but, as any
disclosure would compromise other persons, he could not, as a man of
honour, betray a trust that had been confided in him. The laird, whose
notions of honour were somewhat lax, was not altogether convinced by
this reasoning; but he did not press his opposition farther, and
Roderick was allowed to depart.

After the absence of a week, Roderick returned, and was welcomed in the
most affectionate manner by his father and cousin. Some time afterwards
he again left the tower for a few days; but these absences became less
and less, as his love prospered. One day his father, who had been from
home for some time, returned, and calling his son and niece to his
presence, said--

"My dear Roderick, you are now a free man--I hold here a free pardon for
all offences. The interest of our chief with government has effected
this. The Duke of Argyle is ever ready to assist his clansmen; and the
faults and errors of the son have been overlooked in the services of the
father. No obstacle longer remains to your nuptials with my beloved
niece: take her from my hand as the greatest treasure I can give you."

Roderick's passion was equal to her rapture. Here was every obstacle
removed. He could again appear in the world as a free agent, and the
husband of one whose beauty was her least recommendation.

"Father," he exclaimed, "I know not how to express my gratitude for
these favours. Henceforth you shall----" And here he paused--a blush
came over his haughty features, and the sentence was left unfinished.

A week before the nuptials, the old man took his son aside.

"Roderick, I have something for your private ear."

"I attend."

"It is painful for a father to declare his unworthiness to his own
offspring; but it must be. A bitter remorse has for many years soured my
existence. My wealth is considerable; but it is a burden to me, because
it originated in--blood!"

Roderick answered not.

"You must have heard that this tower once belonged to another?"

The son started.

"I have."

"I betrayed my friend. He perished, not by my hands, but by my fault;
and from that moment deep remorse has filled my bosom: but of that no
more. A sense of justice induces me to act decisively. Reginald Grahame
had a son."

Roderick rose from his seat, but made no reply.

"It is of him I would speak. Circumstances have induced me to believe
that the leader of the caterans who pursued me so long--who harried my
lands, and injured my crops--was that son. His feelings towards me must
be deadly; but I forgive him. It is but natural that he should hate the
destroyer of his father. Would that he knew the pangs I have
suffered--the anguish I have felt!"

"And is this true? Was your remorse so great? Have you repented of this
cruel act?"

"Deeply--deeply, my son; but what avails it?"

"Much; for contrition----" And he paused.


"I mean to say, that a contrite heart is acceptable to Heaven."

"I hope it is--I believe it is. But, to proceed:--I have enough to make
you and Annette comfortable; and it is my wish to return to my own
estate, now redeemed from the burdens which once pressed heavily upon
it. If young Grahame lives, as I suspect he does, I will surrender his
father's lands. I ask not his forgiveness--that I expect not--but I
request him to take back his own. Have I your consent?"

"Most cordially."

"Then all is right. I must see the gipsy chief. I will place myself in
his hands."

"Nay, nay, think not of that. I will myself see him."

"No, no; if he slays me, he but extinguishes a light that soon must be
quenched; but if he murder you, I am left desolate, and Annette

"Feel no alarm: he knows me not. As a stranger I will seek him; and, be
assured, no harm will befall me."

After much resistance, the old man yielded; and Roderick left the tower
that night. The only companion that accompanied the messenger of peace
was the dog who had so strangely rescued Roderick from the maniacal
attempt of the old nurse. This escort was accidental, and was not
discovered until the traveller had crossed the lake in the boat, which
his own hand rowed; when, to his great surprise, as he jumped ashore,
the animal, who had quietly slipped aboard, made his appearance.

"Poor fellow," said Roderick, patting him on the head, "what has brought
you here? Your old limbs are more fitted for the fireside than for the
devious path I must tread. I fear you will regret exchanging the
comforts of the tower for the scanty food of the mountain glen."

The distance Roderick had to go was considerable; and, although a good
walker, and accustomed to traverse districts as wild, if not wilder, he
was unable to accomplish more than thirty miles of his journey; for, as
the dog gave evident tokens of fatigue, and was unable to keep up with
him, he slackened his pace, and proceeded with less rapidity. The night
was dark, and the traveller had wandered considerably from the right
path; he saw no traces of civilisation about him; he was apparently in
the midst of a large and boundless moor.

"Well, it is not the first time that the heath has been my bed--probably
it will not be the last; and, if it must be, I will roll myself up in my
plaid, and sleep till dawn. O Oscar, you old fool! why did you not
remain where you were? You have deprived me of at least ten miles of my
journey, and a comfortable bed to boot."

At this moment the horizon was illumined by a flash of what is termed
sheet-lightning, and Roderick observed what appeared to be a dwelling
about a quarter-of-a-mile distant. The discovery was certainly far from
displeasing; and although the place was much out of the way, Roderick
naturally enough conjectured it to be some little snug dwelling,
admirably adapted for the purpose of illicit distillation.

After the ordinary pleasure frequently enjoyed by those who wander in
unknown paths through Highland districts, of plunging knee-deep in
quagmires, and getting thoroughly drenched by the cooling mists from the
mountains, Roderick, with some difficulty, arrived at the wished-for
haven. It was a small and tolerable-looking bothy, containing, so far as
the wanderer could ascertain, a butt and ben. Peeping through a clink in
the small orifice intended for a window, it was with no ordinary delight
he beheld a capital peat-fire, burning with more than accustomed
briskness. As the door was fastened, he "tirled at the pin," as the old
ballads term it. A hoarse, but evidently female, voice exclaimed--

"Wha's that, to disturb an honest woman at this time o' nicht?"

"A stranger, who has lost his way."

"Awa wi' ye; we've nae room for strangers in this kintry; gang your

"But, my good woman, I really can do no such thing. Have you the
conscience--can you think of sending me back to the bleak moor through
which I have been passing, when you have such a capital fire blazing
away here? Come, now, have some compassion."

"Let him in, Christie," exclaimed another voice, proceeding evidently
from one of a different gender; "perhaps he may come from Macpherson."

The mandate was obeyed; and Roderick found himself in presence of two
men, dressed in military attire, and a middle-aged woman of somewhat
repulsive aspect. The warlike individuals were making themselves
comfortable over a bottle of mountain-dew; and the potency of the
"fire-water," as the Indians term it, was pretty evident, from the
flushed countenance and thick utterance of the drinkers.

"I am sorry to intrude on you, gentlemen," apologised Roderick; "but I
lost my way on the neighbouring moor, and my good stars guided me to
this habitation, where I hope----"

"No apologies--no apologies, sir. I have seen service, sir; I receive
his majesty's pay; and know how to treat a gentleman as he ought to be
treated, sir. Will you join us in a glass, sir?"

Roderick was by no means desirous of partaking of the offer thus so
ostentatiously offered; but, as it was his wish to conciliate rather
than offend, he pocketed his pride, and took his place at the deal
board, which, placed on the top of an old whisky cask, served for a

"May I be bold enough, sir, to ask whom I have the honour of pledging?"
quoth the inviter, filling his glass. "My name, sir, is Serjeant
Patullo--Serjeant Patullo, of his Majesty's fifth troop of cavalry."

With some hesitation, the name of Campbell was uttered by Roderick.

"Campbell, sir? good name--loyal subjects to his gracious Majesty. Mr.
Campbell, allow me to introduce Private Kincaid. Your health, Mr.
Campbell. Are you in the army, Mr. Campbell? Pardon me for the question,
sir; but you have a fine military look."

"I am not presently employed, although, at one period, I saw a good
deal of service; but pray, sir--question for question--may I ask to what
accident I am to attribute the presence of two military gentlemen in
this out-of-the-way place in the Highlands?

"You may well call it out of the way, sir; but a soldier's duty, sir,
requires his presence where his country calls him, sir. I am sorry, sir,
that I cannot divulge to so polite a gentleman (more especially, sir,
as, with your leave, there is somewhat a scant of good breeding in this
petticoat country) the cause of our presence here; but state secrets,
sir, must not be divulged."

"Certainly," replied Roderick. "I cannot press you further. You will
forgive me for pleading fatigue; but, with your leave, I must take a
hurried nap, as I require to be early on my road to-morrow morning.
Good-night, gentlemen." So saying, he threw himself on a bed in a corner
of the room, wrapping himself up in his plaid. The dog took his place
beside him.

Roderick soon fell asleep. How long he slumbered he did not know; but he
was awakened at last by a confused Babel of voices. Opening his eyes, he
saw a third person present, and discovered a face which seemed familiar.
The discovery was anything but pleasant; and, he deemed it prudent to
remain quiet, and to counterfeit that repose which he certainly was far
from feeling.

The parties engaged in altercation had evidently been drinking deeply.
The serjeant had thrown by his precision, and was talking volubly.

"I'll tell you, ye Highland blackguard, the man's a gentleman, and you
shall not disturb him."

"But," replied the stranger, "I'm no going to be a fule, if ye are ane,
serjeant. If ony o' the band get an inkling o' what I'm about, ye'll
never put saut on their tails."

"Nonsense," quoth Private Kincaid; "the man's asleep, and never dreaming
of caterans, or the Glen of Benvorlich. I wish the Highland devils may
be as sound as he is when we get there."

"Just let him be quiet, Macpherson," said the serjeant. "I wish I was as
sure of fifty guineas as you are. Come, let's be jolly--fill your
tumbler and don't shirk."

Roderick, who, on other occasions, would have scorned to have become an
eavesdropper, was impelled by strong and urgent reasons to be a
listener; and he easily gathered, from the broken and disjointed
conversation of the parties, that Macpherson had been connected with the
band of caterans of whom the titular Inshannock was the leader; that,
from a quarrel, he had resolved to betray his companions; and induced by
a government reward and promise of pardon, had made the bothy a
trysting-place, from whence he was to be conducted to a village some few
miles distant, where a detachment of the king's troops was stationed,
from whence he was to guide them to the hiding-place of those who were

By this time the small hours were gradually becoming larger, and
daylight was beginning to creep through the crevices in the diminutive
window. The revellers were thoroughly inebriated; and Macpherson, no
longer awed by his commander-in-chief, again vowed his determination of
rousing the object of his curiosity. The serjeant hiccupped a negative,
to which no attention was paid; and Macpherson advanced, as steadily as
the effect of his libations would permit, to the side of the bed were
Roderick lay, apparently fast asleep. The man of curiosity tottered
onward towards the bed; but fate had willed that he should be baffled;
for Oscar, who had been watching his footsteps with jealous care, sprang
upon him, as he put forth his hand to remove the plaid from the head of
the supposed sleeper. The suddenness of the attack brought the intruder
to the ground; and the fall entirely removed any glimmerings of reason
which his previous inebriety had left him. There he lay all his length
in a state of hopeless intoxication.

"Served him right," mutually exclaimed the serjeant and the private;
"but what can you expect from a Mac?"

"The Macphersons, Macgregors, and all, are not much better than
savages," added the serjeant; who, being a Lowlander, felt that contempt
for the Highlanders so common amongst the more southern inhabitants of

It is a curious fact--perhaps affording better evidence of the
distinctiveness of the two races inhabiting North Britain than any
other--that the dislike of the Lowlanders, especially among the lower
orders, towards their brethren of the mountains, was extreme, both at
the period when the events here related occurred, and long previously:
even in these modern times, some portion of the leaven remains. This
feeling Serjeant Patullo, a native of Dalkeith, shared with his

Roderick rose from the bed not much refreshed, but infinitely delighted
by the unexpected manner in which the attempt of Macpherson had been
frustrated. Shaking hands with the two military personages, who were
just able to keep their feet, and giving his repulsive hostess a
gratuity for her night's lodgings, he proceeded on his journey,
accompanied by his faithful companion.

"Oscar, twice you have saved me; and your last service was greater than
your first. Henceforward we never part."

The rest of the journey was accomplished with speed and safety. The glen
of Benvorlich was reached. Two days afterwards the king's troops
arrived; but the nest was cold, and not one trace of the caterans could
be found. Little did the worthy serjeant imagine through whose timely
information the well-arranged scheme had proved abortive. On the
contrary, his suspicions rested on Macpherson, who was taken back in
custody, to the port of Monteith, and there dismissed with ignominy. A
week or two afterwards, he was found murdered, with a label on his
breast, bearing these words--"The proper reward of a traitor."

The day preceding that fixed for the nuptials, Roderick returned in
safety--Oscar following at his heel. He made no mention of his adventure
in the bothy, or his second obligation to his canine attendant; he
merely observed that his journey had been prosperous.

"Father, I have seen him; and in the leader of the caterans, the heir of
Inshannock was detected. He knew me not as your son. I told him your
sorrow and your proffer; and here is his answer."

Here he delivered a letter to Campbell, who, hastily unfolding it, read
as follows:--

     "DONALD CAMPBELL,--In vain you seek, by offering back my own,
     to extinguish my hatred. It is not by gifts that you could
     deter me from my revenge. Repent; and if the remorse your
     messenger so forcibly describes is genuine, it will do more to
     procure my forgiveness than all the wealth you could heap upon
     me. I shall watch over you; and if--as I shall learn--your
     repentance is sincere, you may yet escape my vengeance."

"Strange--very strange!" exclaimed the old man. "Then he rejects my
offer. But how could I expect otherwise! The last scion of a noble race,
he will not compromise the name of Grahame by accepting even his own
from the hand of a Campbell. Well, Roderick, Inshannock shall be your
marriage-portion with Annette; and you shall hold these lands under the
condition that they shall be replaced by others whensoever William
Grahame shall demand them from you."

"Sir, I accept your gift: the lands of Inshannock are mine so long as
unclaimed by the lawful proprietor."

"Agreed. Thus one weight is off my mind; and, my dear Roderick, may I
hope that the burden will press less heavily on you than it has on me;
and that some day, I trust not very remote, shall witness the surrender
of your stewardship to the rightful owner?"

"That Inshannock may devolve on him who has best right to it, is as much
my wish as yours."

The ensuing day, the minister of Kilmun united Roderick Campbell to
Annette Gordon. The marriage was kept quite private, contrary to the
usual custom in the Highlands; but this was at the express desire of
Roderick, who told his father that it ill became one who had so recently
received a pardon for his transgressions to make any public display,
even on such an occasion.

Everything, therefore, was quietly managed--two or three friends only
being present, to whom the old laird introduced his son for the first

In place of returning to the Tower of Gloom, the married couple and the
father proceeded to Dungyle, where the honeymoon was spent. Matrimony
acts differently upon different people; in some cases it sweetens, in
others it sours, the temper. With Roderick it operated in the former
manner; for our hero had entirely divested himself of that gloom and
melancholy which characterised his conduct upon his first return to the
house of his parent. With his father it was different. As his life drew
near a close, his despondency increased. It was in vain that Annette
soothed him, or that Roderick offered him comfort. No longer was he
hunted by the cateran chief--no more were his lands devastated, or his
cattle carried off. All was quiet, save the workings of his conscience.
He grew weaker and weaker, till at last he was compelled to keep his
bed. Medical advice was procured, but in vain. The skill of the
physician could not retard the approach of death.

One beautiful evening, as his son sat beside his bedside--

"Roderick," he feebly exclaimed, "my last hour is at hand. One thing I
could wish; but that, I fear, is impossible."

"What is it, sir?"

"That William Grahame could witness my sufferings--could satisfy himself
of my penitence, and ease my soul by his forgiveness."

"And could his forgiveness afford you relief?"

"It would."

"Then you are forgiven."

"What mean you?"

"I AM William Grahame; and I forgive you from the bottom of my heart."

"My son, what has come over you?"

"Farther concealment would add to my crime. Hear me. I am the son of
Reginald Grahame, and the intended avenger of his wrongs. It was I who
pursued you, and ravaged your lands. It was to satisfy my vengeance that
I stole into the Tower of Gloom. I represented myself as your long-lost
son, that I might make you drink the cup of bitterness even to the
dregs. I saw Annette: her gentle but affectionate manners, her kind
attentions, made a deep impression. When I retired to rest, my breast
was strangely perplexed, and the feeling of revenge predominated. Then
came the attempt by Moome upon my life, which was averted by the noble
animal I had once consigned to destruction, and whose reappearance in
the tower filled me with astonishment. The nurse, by some singular
instinct, to me inexplicable, had discovered me. Her death preserved my

"This incident again made my purpose waver. I continued in the Tower,
where the influence of Annette softened my vindictive feelings. Still I
could not bring myself to bear with patience your paternal kindness. I
left you, to join my followers, resolving to fly; still Annette drew me
back again. Then came the pardon, to me of inestimable value, as under
it I could shelter myself from all consequences, even had any one
recognised the cateran chief in the heir of the Laird of Dungyle and

"I saw before me a happiness I could never, even in my most imaginative
moments, have previously contemplated. It was necessary to visit the
band, of which I was still nominally the leader. By a singular mean, I
became accidentally aware of a plan to surround and capture my brave
companions. A miscreant of the name of Macpherson, who had been with me
for some time, and had acquired a knowledge of all our places of
retreat, for the sake of lucre, betrayed his associates. I was very
nearly in his power; and, but for my faithful Oscar, would have been
recognised as the bandit chief, and delivered up to justice. I escaped
in time to warn my friends. They fled; and the military sent for the
capture were entirely baffled.

"I seized on this moment to devolve the command on the lieutenant, and
to resign my sceptre for ever. I parted from my old followers, with deep
regret; for they were, to a man, attached to me. Although I had strictly
forbidden the shedding of blood, except in self-defence, I afterwards
learned that they had avenged themselves on Macpherson, who was watched,
seized, reproached, and dirked.

"After I ceased to rule, the band ceased to prosper. Less cautious than
heretofore, the captain and the greater part were surprised and slain;
some few were taken prisoners, who were tried, convicted, and sent to
the plantations. Much as I regretted the loss of so many faithful
adherents, still my sorrow was tempered by the reflection that now my
secret was safe, and that I was a free agent. I could hardly bring
myself to forgive you, for revenge is dear to a Highlander. Time
gradually lessened my hatred; but it was not till subsequent events had
shown the deepness of your regret, and the reality of your
self-reproach, that my resentment finally gave way. I even began to
pity; and though, at one time, I should have rejoiced and gloried in my
imposture, now I regard it in a different light; and, so far from your
asking my forgiveness, it is I ought to be a suppliant to you."

"Roderick--for so I must still call you," ejaculated the old man--"it is
not for me to complain. Your presence and your pardon have eased the
mental torment I suffered. To me you have acted as a son; continue to do
so; let the secret die with us. No one is injured; and the rightful heir
resumes the lands of his ancestors without any one to oppose him; for
Annette, failing issue of my own body, is my next heir."

"Your will is mine: if such is your command, it shall be obeyed."

"Give me your hand. I shall now die content. It is needless to distress
Annette: let her never know that you are not her cousin."

The old laird lingered a few days, and then died in peace and charity
with all.

Some twenty-five years after the death of the old Laird of Dungyle, the
estates came into the possession of his grandson, Donald. Roderick had
gone the way of all flesh; Annette survived him; and in the education of
her daughter Isabella sought oblivion for her sorrows. Donald was a fine
young man; fond of his mother and sister; but by no means under
petticoat government. Whilst at Edinburgh College, he formed an intimacy
with the Master of Methven--the eldest son of Lord Methven, a peer of
ancient family--and to the friendship thus formed it is more than
probable that a love for the Honourable Emma Methven not a little

As Donald was an excellent match for the daughter of a
by-no-means-opulent nobleman, the intimacy was cultivated by the
parents; and Roderick, whose great object was the happiness of his son,
gave a sanction, before his demise, to the projected union. After the
period of mourning had elapsed, preparations were made for the marriage,
and the lawyers were busy with the settlements.

One morning, about a fortnight before the day fixed for the nuptials,
Donald received a letter, the contents of which excited the most lively
astonishment. It was as follows:--

     "SIR,--We are instructed by our client, Mr. Roderick Campbell,
     of Dungyle, to take legal steps against you to recover the
     estates wrongfully held by you, and which belong to him. We
     have, therefore, to intimate to you, unless they are
     surrendered in the course of a fortnight, legal steps will be
     adopted.--We are, sir, your obedient servants,

     "SHARPE & SWIFT, W.S.


     "_20th March, 17--._"

"Sharp and Swift, with a vengeance!" exclaimed the bewildered youth.
"Sharp work, to insist upon my giving up my estate; and swift work to do
so in a fortnight. What title can this man set up to my grandfather's
estate? None that I can conceive; for the descent from him to my father,
and from him to me, is undoubted."

Donald, however, lost no time in communicating this unexpected
requisition to his intended father-in-law, to whom he handed the letter.
Lord Methven read the epistle carefully.

"Was not Roderick your father's name?"

"It was, my lord."

"He was implicated in the rebellion of 1745?"

"He was, but he got a remission from the late king of all crimes and
offences. He was never attainted."

"Then," rejoined his lordship, "I am quite at fault. It certainly did
occur to me that this claim might have been rested upon his supposed
attainture. With your permission I will place this document in the hands
of my family agents, Messrs. Slow & Sure, W.S., and direct them to enter
into a communication with the agents of your unknown adversary."

It would not be very interesting to our readers to detail the legal game
of chess played by these skilful men of law against each other; and it
may suffice to mention, that the claim, which extended to all the large
estates of the old Laird of Dungyle, was based upon the fact, that the
competitor was neither more nor less than the son, whose place had been
filled by Roderick.

As the imposture of Roderick Grahame had been carefully concealed, and
the secret had apparently died with him, his son and widow naturally
viewed the claim as purely fictitious, and characterised the demand as
an attempt to extort money; nevertheless, they were staggered by the
bold steps adopted by their opponent, who proceeded to get himself
served, before the bailies of the Canongate, as only lawful son of
Donald Campbell, of Dungyle and Inshannock. The proof was apparently
conclusive: the identification of the claimant was dependent upon the
testimony of two witnesses, who swore distinctly to the fact. It was
proved that young Campbell went to France, held a situation in the court
of Prince Charles, commonly called the Pretender, and that he left it
suddenly. This had occurred upwards of twenty years before; but no
evidence was given of where he had been after that period, although he
gave out that he had been captured at sea by a Barbary corsair, sold as
a slave, and had only recently escaped.

The jury--being composed in the manner usual with ordinary Canongate
juries--gave themselves little trouble in cross-examination; and, as
almost uniformly occurs, served the claimant in terms of his brief, and
thus invested him with the legal status of son and heir of the deceased
Laird of Dungyle.

Donald was dreadfully grieved by the success of this initiatory
proceeding, which was instantly followed up by a reduction of the
titles vesting the estates in the person of his father and himself.
Painful as the step was, he saw the necessity of breaking off the
marriage with his beloved Emma. He waited on Lord Methven, and explained
to him the measures adopted on the other side, and his apprehension that
there was more in the case of his adversary than he had previously
imagined; nay, he added his own impression that the event would turn out
adverse to him. "How this has happened, I know not; my father ever was
the reputed son and heir of old Dungyle; my mother recognised him as her
cousin; and yet this man has made out, to the satisfaction of a jury,
that he is the heir of Dungyle.

"But, my dear lord, the worst part of the communication is to come; I
dare not any longer aspire to the hand of your daughter, at least until
everything is cleared up; although the words nearly choke me, they shall
come out--this marriage must proceed no further."

Unable to retain his feelings, he burst into tears.

The peer was deeply moved by the evident sorrow of the young man.

"Donald," said he, "you have acted like a man of honour. I respect you
more at this moment than I ever did. Be not cast down; all is not lost;
and if the worst come to the worst, have patience, and Emma may yet be

"Bless you, my lord, for these words; they have infused new vigour into
me, and they will the better enable me to bear my discomfiture."

"Donald, you must now act as a man of the world. That there is something
radically wrong, I am persuaded; for I cannot conceive how a man should
wilfully refrain claiming his inheritance for so long a time."

"His capture and sale as a slave may explain this."

"Fiddle-de-dee! this is affirming what is not proved. It is easy enough
to circulate such a report; but what does Solomon Slow say to all this,
and his worthy partner, Simon Sure?"

"Nothing satisfactory. They merely hum and ha--ask questions, but give
no answers. They have sent for the charter-chest from Dungyle, and I
expect it here to-day."

The legal proceedings went on with vigour; the reduction was called in
court; taken to see, as it is termed; returned and enrolled; and order
taken for producing the writings called for. All this was Hebrew to the
defender; but he trusted everything to his agents. They, on the other
hand, raised a counter-reduction of the service of the claimant, on the
ground that the evidence was insufficient. This step was bold, but
judicious; for Messrs Sharpe &, Swift began to think, that although the
expense of these double proceedings might not be much to a party in
possession, it was very different when they had to advance the necessary
outlay, as they had taken up the cause on speculation. It was hinted
that a _douceur_, properly applied, might settle the contest; but Donald
peremptorily refused any such compromise, by remarking that--

"If I have justice on my side, why pay this man for troubling me? and,
if he has justice on his side, it shall never be said that I took
advantage of his poverty to compel him into a relinquishment of his just
rights. If, upon proper examination, I find that he is the lawful owner
of these estates, I will surrender them."

The charter-chest arrived safely, was deposited in the office of Messrs
Slow & Sure, and opened in the presence of the young laird. The more
recent titles--those called for in the summons--lay on the top. Mr Sure
then took up one parcel, and next another.

"Ha! hum!" muttered he, taking off his spectacles, carefully rubbing his
glasses with his handkerchief, and then replacing them.--"Marriage
contract: so there was a marriage contract? Ha! 'Gives, grants, and
dispones'--what--'to Annette Campbell, for her liferent use allenarly,
and to her issue male by her marriage with Roderick Campbell, or by any
other marriage, lawfully begotten, in fee, all and whole the lands and
barony of Dungyle.' This is wonderful! This extinguishes any claim to
Dungyle. The lands are validly conveyed. So, if this man is what he
calls himself, which I doubt, the game is up with him as to Dungyle. I
wish Inshannock was equally safe. So it is," lifting another parcel.
"'Disposition and assignation, by D. Campbell, Esq., to Roderick
Campbell, Esq., in trust for William Grahame; and, failing the said
William, to the trustee and his heirs.' But what is this?" And he lifted
a parcel carefully sealed, and addressed to Donald.

On opening the mysterious packet, a paper was discovered, in the
handwriting of his father, detailing the facts previously narrated, with
a postscript, from which it appeared that, after the death of old
Dungyle, his reputed son, having learned that the real son had been
alive at least a year previously, proceeded to France, and there
ascertained that the true Roderick, upon learning his father's death,
had left Paris, had been taken ill on the road, and died. Fortunately,
the priest who gave him absolution (for he was a Catholic) was traced;
and there was found, wafered to the paper, a certificate of burial under
the hands of the proper officials--thus proving to demonstration that
the present claimant was an impostor.

In face of such evidence, it was plain that even the skill of Messrs
Sharpe & Swift could avail little; and the pretended Dungyle having
found it convenient to be off, and "leave no wreck behind," these
reputable writers to the signet, or, as the High School boys term them,
wicked sinners, made something like a total loss by their speculation.
Who the impostor was never transpired; but it was shrewdly suspected
that he was an individual to whom the deceased heir of Dungyle had lost
various sums of money, besides some family trinkets, in play; and this
suspicion was confirmed by the very articles having been brought forward
in support of the identity.

We have only to add, that Donald was made happy in the hand of Emma; and
of this marriage are sprung the Barons of Inshannock and the Earls of


"I am determined to gie up this thievin trade, Dick. If I can only
escape Sir Robert Cary this time, I'll turn honest man, hing up jack and
spear, steel-cap and whinger, and lead the life o' a saint." This was
said by Geordie Bourne--one of the most noted freebooters on the
Borders, who flourished, in wickedness, about the end of the seventeenth
century--and was addressed to one of his associates in crime. But how
think you, good reader, was Geordie employed when he expressed this
laudable resolution of abandoning his evil ways? Why, in driving before
him a score of cattle which he had just harried in Northumberland. "If
he could escape Sir Robert Cary!" Ay, but there was the rub. There was
scarcely any escaping Sir Robert Cary, who was warden of the East March,
on the English side--a generous-minded and high-spirited man, but the
especial terror of all those gentlemen who practised the art of living
at the expense of their neighbours. As warden of a march, this was his
duty; and he performed it with a zeal and activity that threatened to
ruin the trade altogether. His men were constantly abroad, on the
look-out for visiters from the Scottish side, and those who were brought
to him were hanged without mercy; and this would have been Geordie's
fate long preceding the period of our story, had he not been an especial
favourite with Sir Robert Kerr, the opposite warden, for whom Sir Robert
Cary entertained a high respect.

At this period, the latter person lived in the Castle of Witherington,
in Northumberland, and it was thither that all the Scottish freebooters
were carried who were taken--and it was there that they suffered the
penalty of their crimes. The residence of a warden was then, in every
sense of the word, a garrison. It was filled with soldiers, both horse
and foot, but chiefly the former. These were called the warden's men,
and were dressed in a peculiar livery, to denote the service to which
they belonged. They were placed under his command, to enable him to keep
the peace of the district over which he presided, to repel aggressions,
and to apprehend and bring to justice the lawless marauders with which
the Borders were then infested. His men, as has been already said, were
constantly employed in patrolling the country, and looking out for
defaulters; so that the profession of the freebooter was one of great
peril, for he had not only to brave the weapons of those whom he
spoiled, but the halter of justice, which was always dangling over his

To return, however, to Geordie Bourne. In the little we have yet said of
this gallant, we have by no means done full justice to his merits.
Geordie was not simply a noted character in the times in which he lived,
but an extraordinary one. The feats he had performed were the talk and
the marvel of the Borders; and certainly, if all was true that was said
of him--nay, if the half of it was true (and there is little doubt that
fully that proportion at least was so)--he was one of the most daring
and desperate ruffians that ever lived. He was, moreover, a man of great
personal strength, of large stature, and ferocious courage. Altogether,
he stood preeminent, even in those wild and lawless times, for
everything that was evil in, and peculiar to, the Border character. But,
from what Geordie said on the occasion with which our story opens, it
would appear that he had determined to reform. Whether Geordie was in
earnest when he announced this resolution, and whether, if he was, it
arose from compunctions of conscience, or from the terror of Sir Robert
Cary's halter, it would not be easy to say. That he was serious,
however, was a thing very much doubted by his friend and associate,
Dick Johnston, or Long Dick, as he was more picturesquely styled, who
received his communication, on the delicate subject in question, with a
very hearty and a very unequivocal burst of laughter.

"You turn saint, Geordie!--you gie up thievin!" exclaimed Dick, so soon
as his mirth would permit him to speak, "ay, when the Solway sands grow
into green fields, and Annan Water is turned into wine--then ye'll gie
up the trade, Geordie, but no till then."

"I'll no delay sae lang, though, Dick; and, laugh as ye like, that ye'll
see," replied Geordie. "I'm tired o' this wark, and I'm beginnin to
think that I hae fully as much mischief scored against me already as
I'll be weel able to answer for." Then suddenly directing his attention
to the cattle they were driving before them, and that with an interest
which showed pretty plainly that _their_ destiny, at any rate, was to be
in no way affected by his proposed reformation, "Hey, Jock," he
exclaimed, "look after that brown cow, man. Do ye think folk get their
guids for naething? She's gaun aff the road athegither. Confound the
beast!--keep her till't, Jock, keep her till't, lad, till we see what
kind o' kail she maks. We'll be the greens, and I'm sure she needna
grudge to be the beef."

With this witticism, such as it is, the conversation terminated for a
time, and the freebooters pursued their way in silence.

Remarking that they had not yet cleared the County of Northumberland, we
change the scene for a moment to Witherington Castle, the residence of
the warden of the East March, Sir Robert Cary, who, at the moment when
we would introduce him to the reader, was engaged in writing despatches
to his mistress, Queen Elizabeth, in which he was giving an account of
the then present state of the country, and of his own proceedings for
the previous month.

While thus employed, a person dressed in the warden's livery, entered
the apartment, cap in hand, and advanced to a respectful distance from
the warden, where he stood still, and gave two or three gentle hems, to
make the latter aware of his presence. He succeeded. Sir Robert raised
his head, and, looking at the intruder, "Well, Watt," he said, "what's
stirring now? Any interlopers across the March?"

"Why, my lord," replied the person interrogated, "I have just been
informed that Geordie Bourne, with half-a-dozen Scottish thieves, has
been seen on the tramp, and, if my intelligence be correct, is at this
moment driving before him a score of Sir Thomas Carlton's best beeves."

"Ah! Geordie Bourne!" exclaimed Sir Robert, evidently excited by the
intelligence, "that fellow would be worth catching indeed. He's one of
the most desperate thieves in Christendom; but a valiant rascal withal,
and, as I'm told, a very pretty fellow to boot. To horse, then, Watt, my
man," added the warden, "and see if you cannot fall in with him. If he
is not killed, you will, of course, bring him to Witherington; and I had
rather you should not kill him, if you can help it."

"How many men shall I take, my lord?" inquired this subaltern officer of
the warden's; for such he was.

"Why, how many men has Bourne with him?" rejoined Sir Robert.

"Six, my lord, I'm told," replied Watt.

"Then take a dozen with you, Watt, and see they be well armed; for these
fellows don't part with their prey very readily, and there may be blows
going, especially with such a desperado as Geordie Bourne."

Watt bowed, and left the apartment, and Sir Robert Cary resumed his
writing. In ten minutes afterwards, thirteen well-mounted and well-armed
troopers were seen issuing from the gate of Witherington Castle, and
proceeding in the direction of the Scottish Border.

For some time the party proceeded on their way in silence, without
exchanging a word--nothing being heard amongst them but the jingling of
their harness, and an occasional imprecation on their horses; but this
silence was at length thus broken:--

"There will be some knocks going, Jack, if we fall in with this fellow,
Bourne," said Watt Tomlins, to the man who rode next him. "Geordie hits
hard, and I'm told is one of the best shots in these parts; but we can
strike a fair blow, too, Jack, and handle a bow not amiss either; so I
think we haven't much to fear from him, after all."

"Why, no, not a bit, Watt," replied Jack, a stout, burly Northumbrian.
"We're two to one at any rate, and that's some comfort--that is, Watt,"
he added, "if you have been rightly informed of the number Bourne has
with him. If there's an error there against us, however, it will be
rather an awkward business, I doubt."

The reader will at once perceive that, notwithstanding the bravery of
this talk, there was fear at the bottom of it. In truth, the warden's
men, especially the two who just now spoke, would rather have had to do
with half the thieves on the Borders, than with Geordie Bourne alone, of
whose courage and prowess they had heard the most tremendous stories.
They therefore went on the present errand with no very comfortable
feelings; and there is little doubt that, had it not been for the fear
of exposure, and the loss of their situations, they would have reported
at the castle that Geordie was not anywhere to be seen. But there were
others of the party composed of better fighting materials than Watt
Tomlins and Jack Foster; and these, though they entertained all due
respect for Geordie's strength and valour, were men who would not flinch
from their duty from fear of any one. Of some of these, indeed, it was
alleged that they had done a little business in Geordie's way
themselves, before they entered the service of the warden; so that, in
employing them, the latter had acted on the well-known principle, set a
thief to catch a thief; and certainly those of this description who were
in his service were by far the most expert in detecting and apprehending

The party had now ridden for several hours without discovering any trace
of the object of their pursuit; and, as it was getting dark, they had
begun to lose all hopes of success, and to think of returning home. Ah,
Geordie, Geordie, lad! you are now rubbing shoulders with a certain
apparatus which shall be nameless. It is touch and go with you, Geordie.
If the warden's company return at this moment, you are safe. If they go
on but another hundred yards, for it is only a turn in the road that
conceals you from them, it is all up with you. Your fate is trembling in
the balance, and a breath will turn the beam.

The warden's men had now called a halt, to consider the momentous
question just alluded to--that is, whether they should proceed or
return: when it was decided, _nem. con._, that they should put about,
and live in the hope of catching Geordie on some future day; and on this
resolution they were about to act, when one of the troop, suddenly
struck with a second thought, proposed that they should proceed
precisely the length of that very turn in the road on which Geordie's
fate depended, ere they abandoned the chase. As the distance was but
trifling, this was readily agreed to; and forward again the whole party
rode. On arriving at the stipulated point, they once more drew bridle,
suspended all conversation, and, in profound silence, listened
attentively to ascertain if there was anything suspicious moving at a
distance. While some were thus employed, others were endeavouring to
peer through the gloom of the twilight, with a similar view.

"Nothing to be heard or seen, Will--nothing moving," said Tomlins to a
stout ferocious-looking Northumbrian Borderer who rode next to him.
"Geordie has escaped us this bout."

"Not so fast, Watt; not so fast," replied the person addressed, who was
leaning over his horse's neck, and intently scanning the dusky road that
stretched away before them in the distance--"I see something moving
yonder that looks very like a drove of cattle; and hark! Watt," he
added, "there's a shout! On my life, here is Geordie, after all,
comrades." This was said in a loud whisper, and the whole party looked
intently, and without exchanging a word, in the direction indicated,
when all agreed that there was something to be seen, of which it would
be proper to have a nearer view; and, under this conviction, the troop
again set forward at a hard trot, which, in a few seconds, brought them
up with the object of their suspicions. These suspicions were well
founded. It was indeed Geordie Bourne, his associates, and their booty.
On coming up with the freebooters, the warden's men rushed in upon them,
when Geordie himself, ere he was aware of his danger, or could prepare
for his defence, was felled to the earth by Will Armstrong; and in the
next instant his hands were firmly bound behind his back with cords. The
superiority of numbers with which he was attacked left Geordie, powerful
and courageous as he was, without a shadow of a chance from resistance.
This he perceived, and therefore made no attempt to return the violence
with which he was assailed. On regaining his feet, however, being yet
ignorant who they were who had thus so suddenly set upon him, he
inquired, in a tone and manner which implied a threat of fierce
retribution, "Who here dares--who among ye dares to avow this night's
work? Let me hear him speak."

"I dare," replied Will Armstrong--"I dare avow it, Geordie Bourne, and
perhaps so will Sir Robert Cary."

"Ha! you're warden's men, then," said the freebooter, alarmed at the
discovery that he was in the hands of the dreaded enemy of his
profession, and becoming instantly more calm and subdued in his manner.
"Weel, there's nae help for't, lads--every dog has his day. I hae had
mine, and I suppose I maun now straught a tow at Witherington. Deil may
care," he added, after a moment's pause--"it's no sax yards o' cord,
even though there should be a loop at the end o't, that's gaun to
frighten Geordie Bourne." Then instantly recovering all the natural
intrepidity of his character, he began to shout out, even while his
captors were in the act of still further securing his arms by additional

    "And it's hey, my lads, for the bonny moonlight,
    That on mountain and muirland is streamin sae bright,
    Gae saddle my steed, for I maun ride the night
            As far as the English border.

    "'Tak tent, Jock, lad, for the warden's men
    Are ridin o'er hill and ridin through glen.'
    Tuts, sax Scots lads 'll keep twascore-and-ten
            O' sic feckless loons in order."

And Geordie would have gone on with the complimentary stanzas, of which
the first and second have been quoted, had he not been interrupted by a
peremptory command to move on. The troop had now formed round the
captive, who, besides having his arms bound, as already described, was
secured to two horsemen, one on each side of him; and in this order the
whole party marched on towards Witherington, where they arrived a little
before the hour of supper, when Geordie was immediately conveyed to the
strong room appropriated for the reception of such involuntary visiters.
Having thus secured his prisoner, Watt Tomlins repaired to Sir Robert
Cary, and informed him that Geordie Bourne was taken, and in custody.

"Ha! so you have caught him at last, Watt! I am glad of it," said the
warden. "Did he make any resistance?"

"None, my lord," replied Tomlins. "We were too many for him. We took him
as gently as a lamb, merely by knocking him down."

"Very gentle proceeding, indeed, Tomlins. It's so far well,
however--glad there's no one hurt. What like a fellow is he, this
Bourne, Watt? I have heard much of the knave's valour and strength, and
should like to see him. He would be an acquisition, the rogue, to my
troop, if he could be prevailed upon to take to such an honest calling.
Why, I would spare the rascal's life if he would, for I cannot help
respecting his bravery, and am loth to put him to death, both on that
account and on account of my friend, Sir Robert Kerr, who has a kindness
for the knave."

"Why, my lord, as to his appearance," said Tomlins, "he is, I must say,
as pretty a fellow as ever put foot in stirrup--six feet, every inch, my
lord--and a chest like a horse's; but I fear we couldn't depend on him."

"I doubt that myself, Tomlins," said the warden; "however, I'll think of
the matter; but I am unwilling to hang the rogue, if any good at all
could be found in him. I'll think of it, however, Tomlins--I'll think of
it," repeated Sir Robert; at the same time nodding his head in a manner
expressive of his wish to be left alone.

Tomlins, taking the hint, bowed, and retired.

Soon after the supper-hour of the garrison, and when all was quiet
within the castle, the door of the strong room in which Geordie Bourne
was confined was cautiously opened, and three persons, dressed in the
livery of warden's men, entered the apartment. Geordie's athletic figure
was extended at full length upon a bench, when the intruders first made
their appearance; but he started up on their entrance, and presented
such an appalling personification of strength and ferocity, as startled
for a moment those who had thus voluntarily obtruded themselves on his
seclusion; and, secure as they were--for they were well armed, while he
was totally defenceless--they could not contemplate his thick muscular
throat, which was bare--thus giving full effect to the fierce but bold
and manly countenance of the outlaw--without misgivings as to their
safety with such a powerful and desperate man.

Suppressing this fear, however, which, indeed, was wholly unnecessary,
as the prisoner neither entertained, nor even conceived for a moment,
any intention of doing them an injury--

"Geordie," said the foremost of the visiters, "we have stolen a march on
your keepers, just to condole with you a little on your unhappy
mischance. We are really sorry to see a brave man like you, Geordie, in
this melancholy condition, and we have come to express this to you, and
to beg of you to believe that we would help ye out of your strait, if we

"Thank ye, friends, thank ye," replied the captive; "but it's a' owre
now wi' Geordie Bourne. It's a' luck, lads, a' luck; and the chance has
gane against me--that's a'. Never mind: I hae dune pretty fair wark on
the English side in my day, and that's some comfort. There's twa or
three there, I'm thinkin, that'll no be inconsolable for my fate, nor be
at ony loss whether to laugh or to cry when they hear o' my end."

"Ay, Geordie," said one of his visiters, "you have been a pretty wild
gallant in your day, as we have heard. Tom," continued the speaker, now
turning round to and addressing one of his associates, "go to the
buttery, and get a jorum of double ale for our friend Bourne here. It
will comfort him a little, and lighten heavy thoughts a bit."

The order thus given was immediately obeyed, and in two or three minutes
the messenger returned with a large tankard of the beverage just named.
The vessel was handed to Geordie, who instantly applied it to his lips,
and took such a copious draught of its powerful contents as soon
produced a very sensible effect upon him. His eye began to glisten, and
his whole countenance to beam with a savage humour; and, as a natural
concomitant of these symptoms, he became extremely communicative. But
hold, Geordie, lad--hold, if ye value your life. Be cautious--ye know
not who is listening to you. Make no unnecessary disclosures of your
little peccadilloes. You long-tongued fool, what assurance have ye that
the lord-warden himself does not hear every word you are saying? You
know not who are your auditors--neither, apparently, do you care. On, on
ye go--little recking that you are but securing your own destruction.

"Ye say right, freends," now said the unwary freebooter; "I have been a
pretty rough gallant in my day, and hae dune some things that your
warden here would scarce thank me for, I'm thinkin." And, with this
preface, Geordie proceeded to unfold a tale of crime that made his
auditors stand aghast, accustomed as they were, from the nature of their
duties and peculiar situation, to scenes of bloodshed and rapine.

Of these voluntary confessions of Geordie's, as many of them were wholly
unfit to be recorded, we will enter into no details, but content
ourselves with saying that they included almost every species of human
wickedness, and brought on the head of the perpetrator a responsibility
for almost every conceivable description of human guilt.

Nor was the horrible effect of these disclosures lessened by the manner
in which they were made. The marauder chuckled and laughed as he related
the various deeds of violence in which he had been concerned, either as
a principal or accessory; and with look and manner called on his
auditors for approbation of the dexterity with which some of his
robberies had been conducted; and, to say truth, there certainly were
many of them contrived with an ingenuity, and executed with a boldness,
coolness, and dexterity, which would have gained for Geordie immortal
renown, had he had the good fortune to have been born a Spartan. As it
was, however, they only secured him a halter.

"Believe me or no, lads," thus Geordie introduced one of his adventures,
"I ance rode saxty miles in ae nicht, without ever drawin bridle, except
for about the space o' five minutes. I left my ain hoose at the
gloamin--rode thirty miles--did my job--and was back again other thirty
before cock-crawin, without ever being missed by onybody."

"By my troth, an excellent night's work, George," said the spokesman of
the three warden's men. "Pray, what was the cause of your making such an
extraordinary exertion on that particular occasion?"

"Why, the cause, ye see, sirs, was just this," replied Geordie: "At the
last Border meeting at Lockerby, a Cumberland man, o' the name Tinlin,
comes up to me, and he says, says he, 'Geordie, and it warna for breakin
the peace, I wad like to break your head, for I dinna believe ye're the
man ye pretend to be.' Weel, ye see, sirs, I drew--as I had guid cause
to do--and was about to lend the fellow a lick wi' my whinger, when wha
should come up behint me at the moment, and grip my sword-arm, but Sir
Robert Kerr, just as I was gaun to strike? 'Ha, Geordie!' said he, 'at
your auld tricks again! Come, put up your whinger, my man, and dinna be
breakin the peace o' the meetin.' Weel, you see, as Sir Robert was a
good freend o' mine, and had stood my part in many a strait, I did as he
bade me, but wi' a secret oath that I wad tak an opportunity after o'
clearin scores wi' Tinlin. And, by my feth, it wasna lang or I got
amends o' him. The very next nicht, having beforehand learned whar he
lived, I slippit my beast quietly out o' the stable, mounted and set off
at a swingin trot for Tinlin's, where I arrived about twelve o'clock at
nicht--a distance o' thirty miles; but I kent every fit o' the way. On
reachin the house, I rapped at the door. 'Wha's there?' cried Tinlin,
jumpin out o' his bed. 'A friend,' said I; and I gied him ane o' your
ain names, lads--that is, the name o' ane o' your ain men whom I kent he
knew--and said I was frae the warden wi' a message to him to attend a
muster. Weel, you see, on that Tinlin opens the door. I was stannin
ready wi' my drawn whinger in my hand; and the moment he did this, I
gied him at least a foot o' the cauld airn in his wame, before he could
say Tintock, and he fell dead at my feet. Having done this, I entered
the house, turned out his wife and weans to the drift, set fire to the
biggin, and mounted my horse by the licht o't; and, in little mair than
four hours after, was in my ain house, without ony ane being a bit the

And here Geordie gave a chuckle of satisfaction at the recollection of
his atrocious feat, and looked to his auditors for a similar expression
of approbation. In this, however, he was disappointed. They were by far
too much horrified by what they had heard even to assume the appearance
of gratification. Indeed, the feelings of him who seemed to be a sort of
leading personage amongst the three appeared, from the sudden gravity
and sternness of expression which now sat on his countenance, to have
undergone a complete and unfavourable change regarding the prisoner. His
manner towards him was no longer marked by that frankness and
familiarity which had distinguished it on his first entrance; and, in
place of listening with anything like interest, or exhibiting any
appearance of being entertained by Geordie's communications, as he had
been for a time, he now sat with his arms folded across his breast,
seemingly engrossed in thoughts of his own. Geordie perceived the change
alluded to in his auditor, and immediately drew in; but it was too late.
He had already said more than would have hanged a dozen. Abandoning,
however, the confessional, or it might perhaps be more correctly called
the boasting system, Geordie now took up the pathetic, and resumed,
after a short pause--

"But it's a' owre wi' Geordie Bourne now, lads; he'll hae nae mair
hanlin o' such doings as these. No; I'll see the bonny holms o' Netherby
nae mair, nor the saft moonlight fa'in on the Cheviot Fells.

    'And it's hame, hame, hame, my bonny brown steed,
      And its riderless hame ye maun gang;
    The warden has me fast, and this nicht is my last,
      For he swears that the morn I maun hang.'"

"I doubt it is even so, Geordie," said the person, gravely, to whom we
have above alluded, on the former's concluding this very appropriate
ditty, at the same time rising from his seat, and immediately after
bidding the prisoner coldly a good-night, when he quitted the apartment,
followed by his associates, the last of whom carefully secured the door
with bolt and padlock.

On leaving the captive, his three visiters proceeded down the private
staircase, that led to the warden's library, which they entered, when he
who had acted as spokesman during the interview with Geordie Bourne
hastily began to divest himself of the livery in which he was attired--a
process which gradually discovered the richer and more imposing dress of
the lord warden underneath; the person spoken of being no other than Sir
Robert Cary himself, who had adopted the disguise which he had just
thrown off, in order at once to gratify his curiosity with a sight of
the celebrated freebooter who was his prisoner, and to ascertain whether
he could not discover anything in the man which might afford him a
pretext for sparing his life, which, as has been already hinted, he felt
some disposition to do. The result, however, of this benevolent attempt
we leave the warden himself to communicate. Having thrown off his
disguise, he flung himself into a chair, and, leaning his head upon his
hand, thought in silence for a few moments; then looking to Watt, who
was one of the three that had visited the prisoner, and who was now
waiting the warden's commands regarding him--

"That fellow Bourne must hang, Watt," he said; "he must, by Saint Eloy.
There never was such a villain on the face of this earth. I cannot spare
him--I must not; it would be a gross dereliction of my duty to spare the
life of such an atrocious ruffian. Hang, therefore, he must, Watt; and
do you see that execution be done upon him betimes to-morrow morning."

On the following morning, when the gates of Witherington Castle were
thrown open, the lifeless body of Geordie Bourne was seen hanging from a
beam in one of the inner courtyards of the building.


In a small town in the south of Scotland, there lived, about seventy
years since, a person of the name of Wotherspoon. He was a merchant, and
reputed wealthy. But Mr Wotherspoon's wealth was not by any means the
sole cause of the respect in which he was held by all who knew him;
although, no doubt, it had the usual effect in this way, even in his
case. He was respected for his integrity in his dealings, and for the
excellence of his moral character generally; while he was esteemed, nay,
beloved, for his singularly mild, kind, and inoffensive disposition.

At the period of our story, Mr Wotherspoon was about thirty-two years of
age; and, as he had been remarkably industrious in, and attentive to,
the business in which he was engaged, and not a little fortunate in some
speculations into which he had entered, he had, even at this
comparatively early stage of life, acquired the reputation already
alluded to--namely, that of being a wealthy man. But it was not in
reputation alone that Mr Wotherspoon was rich. He was actually and truly
so; and he was so, too, without ever having done a mean thing to obtain
his money; more, it is suspected, than can be said of nine-tenths of
those who acquire wealth by their own exertions.

Having arrived at this prosperity, Mr Wotherspoon thought he might now,
with every propriety, take a step which he had long meditated, but which
he had hitherto refrained from taking, at once from a sense of honour
and from motives of prudence. This step was, to marry. The object of Mr
Wotherspoon's affections, however, was not yet to seek: she had long
been found; and it was his desire and anxiety to be previously
possessed of means sufficient to secure to her that degree of happiness
and comfort to which he conceived her entitled, alone, that had
prevented them uniting their destinies many years before. But the period
had now arrived, he thought, when this could be done without imprudence.

The lady of Mr Wotherspoon's choice was a Miss Edington, the daughter of
a neighbouring country gentleman, of respectable family, but of small
fortune. Lucy Edington was a singularly beautiful girl; and in character
and disposition as estimable, as in person she was lovely. But William
Wotherspoon, though the favoured, was not the only lover of Lucy
Edington. Her patience and good temper were severely tried by the
pertinacious addresses of a young man in her own neighbourhood of the
name of Lorimer. This person was the son of a farmer, and had been
brought up to the profession of the law in Edinburgh, where, however, he
had, by wild and extravagant courses, destroyed his own health, and
nearly ruined his father.

For some years previous to this period, he had been leading an idle life
at home--ill health, brought on by his own reckless conduct, having, in
the first instance, compelled him to abandon his profession, and an
unsettled disposition and dissipated habits preventing him from resuming
it, when he could no longer plead the apology of indisposition.

Lorimer, however, was a decidedly clever young man, and his abilities,
had they been seconded by good moral principles, would undoubtedly have,
in time, raised him high in his profession; but the latter were entirely
awanting in his character, as he never suffered any considerations of
propriety, decency, or even common honesty, to interfere with, or
interrupt the indulgence of, his appetites. He had acquired, moreover, a
complete knowledge of, and great dexterity in, the practice of the
chicaneries of law, or rather, perhaps, in the art of violating or
evading it. The baser departments of legal knowledge had been his chief
study. Indeed, for them he had a natural turn, and always felt more in
his element when helping a man to cheat his neighbour, than when
assisting him to recover his rights. In the former case, he was quite at
home--all sharpness and intellect. In the latter, he was no more than a
very ordinary person, evincing none of that tact or talent which carried
him so swimmingly through the other. But Lorimer, though a clever knave,
had none of the redeeming qualities--if such a character can be conceded
them--which are frequently found in persons of his description; we mean,
liveliness and good humour. He was not a facetious scoundrel. On the
contrary, he was quiet, reserved, and morose. He was, in short, what is
called a deep designing villain, and the saturnine and sinister
expression of his countenance at once proclaimed this.

Such, then, was the rival of William Wotherspoon for the love of Lucy
Edington; but he was a rival only by his own constituting, not by any
encouragement which he received from Lucy, who loathed and detested him.
Lorimer, however, though in part aware of this, persevered in his suit;
hoping, in time, to accomplish, by the exercise of his best and
favourite faculty, cunning, what honest dealing could not achieve for

All his ingenuity, however, could not prevent the marriage of William
Wotherspoon and Lucy Edington from taking place. They were united; and
the "happy occasion" was celebrated with much mirth and festivity; but
the spirit of a demon was hovering over the ceremonies, in the shape of
the evil wishes of Lorimer, whose worst passions, where all were bad,
were excited to their utmost tension by an occurrence which at once
extinguished his own hopes for ever, and consummated those of the man
whom, of all others, he most detested--Wotherspoon.

From the hour in which that occurrence took place, Lorimer vowed the
most deadly vengeance against his successful rival, and determined that,
if ever an opportunity should present itself of doing him an injury, he
would avail himself of it, although it were to the extent of his utter
destruction and ruin.

Of doing Wotherspoon personal violence, Lorimer did not dream; not that
he would not willingly have torn him to pieces, if he could, but,
besides being something of a coward, he had a wholesome terror of those
laws, which his knowledge of them, seconded by his own inclinations,
told him it was safer to evade than to brave.

His schemes of vengeance, therefore, took a professional complexion, if,
indeed, vague as they at this time were, they could be said to have
assumed any complexion at all. He hoped, in short, by some means or
other, to get Wotherspoon involved in the meshes of the law. In the
meantime, indeed, there was no prospect whatever of this, or of any
other mode of injuring him, being likely to present itself. But the time
might come, he thought; and in this hope he cherished his wrath, which,
as the sequel will show, was none the worse for keeping.

In the meantime, years passed on, and Wotherspoon continued to prosper
in his business; while his domestic happiness--which had been, since the
day of his marriage, all, nay, more than he had ever, even in his most
sanguine moments, expected--was yearly increasing, with successive
additions to his little family circle. In the lover of his youth, Mr
Wotherspoon found a kind and affectionate companion of his more advanced
years; for Lucy Edington underwent none of those unamiable changes which
so frequently attend a change of condition with those of her sex, and
which so often mar the happiness of the married life, by occasioning
disappointment and regret. If somewhat less volatile than when a maiden,
such deficiency was more than compensated for by the matronly grace
with which some years of the married state had invested her. But, in
manner and disposition, Lucy Edington remained unchanged.

The time which flew thus happily and prosperously over the married pair,
and saw them conduct themselves in all circumstances, and on all
occasions, with a propriety that merited this good fortune, witnessed
very different conduct and very different results on the part of
Lorimer. That worthless person still remained an idler about his
father's house, breaking the old man's heart with his wild and dissolute
practices; for in these he continued to indulge whenever he could
command the means; and, as to the mode of obtaining these means, he was
not at all scrupulous, as his father rather frequently found to his
cost. Young Lorimer would now, in short, do almost anything for money,
for which he was often greatly at a loss, to enable him to pursue his
desperate and reckless courses; and, acting on this principle, he had
opened a source of occasional emolument, by practising, in a small and
irregular way, the profession to which he had been bred. He became a low
pettifogger, and quickly grew notorious throughout the country as legal
adviser in all cases of roguery.

Leaving Lorimer thus creditably employed, we return to follow, for a
time, the fortunes of Mr Wotherspoon. It has been said that, during
several years succeeding his marriage, Mr Wotherspoon continued to
prosper, and to deserve his prosperity--and it was so. But what measure
of prudence or foresight can secure a continuance of any worldly
blessing, or prevent those changes and vicissitudes, whether for better
or for worse, which it is the lot of man to experience? In an evil hour
Mr Wotherspoon became a partner, to the extent of nearly his whole
means, in that ruinous bubble known by the name of the Ayr Bank, which
involved many families in misery and poverty. The speculation was an
exceedingly plausible one; and the destruction occasioned by its
failure was proportioned to the confidence it had inspired. We need
scarcely, we presume, employ plainer terms to intimate to the reader
that the Ayr Bank broke down, and that Mr Wotherspoon was one of the
many hundreds that were ruined by its insolvency.

Although thus suddenly and cruelly bereft of the fruits of many an
anxious and toilsome year, and thus hurled at once from independence to
comparative poverty, Mr Wotherspoon did not lose heart, but determined
on making another effort to repair the ruined fabric of his fortunes.
Having readily procured a settlement with his creditors--one and all of
whom entertained the highest opinion of his integrity, and pitied his
misfortunes--he again commenced business, but in this he experienced all
the difficulties incident to his equivocal position. Credit was
reluctantly given, and demands were peremptorily enforced. Still Mr
Wotherspoon persevered; and, though greatly straitened occasionally for
means, continued not only to keep his feet, but began gradually to
improve his circumstances. He was yet, however, in difficulties; and
this was pretty generally known amongst those who knew anything at all
about him.

It happened, about this period, that Mr Wotherspoon was one day invited
to dine at the head inn of the town in which he resided, with a
commercial traveller, with whom he was in the habit of dealing, and to
whom he had at this time a considerable sum of money to pay. After
dinner, when settling accounts with the traveller, Mr Wotherspoon, who
was a little elevated with the wine he had drank, remarked, as he handed
over the money to the former, that, if he had just one other bill for
£50, then running, paid, he would, notwithstanding all that had happened
him, be clear with the world. "But," he added, jocularly, "I'll find
ways and means to pay that too, although I should take the highway for
it, and cry, 'Stand and deliver,' or clap somebody's name to a piece of
stamped paper." Mr Wotherspoon's friend laughed at the absurdity of
these imprudent expressions, coming, as they did, from one who was so
unlikely to have recourse to the expedients alluded to; and the matter
went off as a very passable joke.

In about a month after this, as Mrs Wotherspoon was one day standing at
the door of her husband's shop, with one of her children in her arms,
her curiosity was excited by seeing a post-chaise driven up with unusual
speed to the door of the principal inn, which was directly opposite the
shop; and she called to her husband, who was inside, to look at the
carriage--at the same time expressing a wonder who they could be that
were travelling in such haste. But, if Mrs Wotherspoon's curiosity and
surprise were excited by this simple circumstance, how much more was the
former increased when she saw the two persons who stepped out of the
chaise look, for a few seconds, in the direction of the shop, say two or
three words to each other, and then cross the street towards it!

"They're coming here, William," she said, in amazement, and addressing
her husband. "Who, on all the earth, can they be? and what can they be

"Indeed, Lucy," replied Mr Wotherspoon, no less surprised than his wife
at the impending visitation, "that's more than I can conjecture; but
we'll soon see."

By this time the strangers were upon them.

"Is your name William Wotherspoon?" abruptly and sternly inquired one of
the strangers.

"It is, sir," replied the former.

"Humph!" ejaculated the querist, and began searching his pocket, from
which he drew a slip of paper. Then again addressing Wotherspoon--

"Mr Wotherspoon, you are our prisoner. We apprehend you in the king's
name, and you must immediately accompany us to Edinburgh."

"Your prisoner, gentlemen!" said Mr Wotherspoon, becoming as pale as
death, and trembling violently as he spoke, "What for? What crime have I
committed? What do you charge me with?"

"Ah! you don't know, I suppose, and can't guess," said one of the
messengers, sneeringly; for such, indeed, was the character of the

"No, indeed, gentlemen, I cannot," said Mr Wotherspoon, in a state of
great agitation.

"Very like a mouse-trap, but not so small," exclaimed the messenger.
"However, I always like to be civil, and I shall tell you--though I'm
confoundedly mistaken, if you don't know it pretty well already. You are
apprehended, Mr Wotherspoon," he continued (and now eyeing his
prisoner--for in such, a melancholy situation the unfortunate man now
stood--with a scrutinising glance), "on a charge of forgery; so, if you
please, we'll bundle and go."

In following out this extraordinary conversation, we have necessarily
lost sight for a moment of Mrs Wotherspoon. But we do not now call the
reader's notice to her with any intention of describing the effects
which the appalling occurrence just recorded had at first upon her. This
we think it better to leave to the reader's imagination. But her
subsequent conduct is more within the power of description.

The unfortunate woman, having hastily laid down the smiling, unconscious
innocent that was in her arms when the messengers entered the shop,
flung herself upon her husband's neck, and frantically exclaimed that no
one should tear her William from her.

"My William guilty of forgery!" she wildly exclaimed. "No, no
gentlemen--it's false, it's false. He has always been an honest man, and
is well known to be so. He would sooner die than commit such a crime,
and I will get all our neighbours to prove this." Then throwing herself
on her knees at the messengers' feet, she implored them, by every
consideration of humanity and justice, not to take her William away.

"He is innocent, gentlemen," she exclaimed; "before God, he is innocent
of the crime you charge him with. Oh! do not take him from me,
gentlemen. Look at that babe there, and pity me, and pity us all. Do not
believe what has been told you about his having committed a forgery. My
William never did, and never could do, such a wicked thing."

"May be so, mistress," said one of the messengers, little affected by
these womanish appeals to a clemency which he had no power to show; "but
we must do our duty. Here's the warrant," he said, exhibiting a piece of
paper which he held in his hand, "for your husband's apprehension, and
we must see to its execution."

Having said this, he turned away from her to his associate and
Wotherspoon, whom the former had already secured by handcuffs; and in a
few seconds the unfortunate man found himself seated in the post-chaise,
to which fresh horses had been put, with a messenger on each side of
him. A few seconds more, and the carriage was on its way to Edinburgh--a
circumstance which was a relief to the unhappy man; for, until the
chaise started, he was not out of hearing the shrieks of his miserable
wife, who had ultimately been forcibly torn from him.

On arriving at Edinburgh, Mr Wotherspoon was immediately carried to
jail, to abide his trial for the forgery with which he was charged.

This forgery consisted in the felonious adhibition of the name of one
James Laidlaw, a wealthy farmer in Liddesdale, to a bill for £50. This
bill purported to be drawn by Wotherspoon on Laidlaw, and was indorsed
by the former to James Lorimer, who again indorsed it, and discounted it
in one of the banks in Edinburgh.

Some time previous to this bill becoming due, Lorimer called at the
bank where it had been cashed, and stated to the manager, with whom he
sought a private interview, that he had discovered that the bill which
he had discounted there, bearing to be the acceptance of James Laidlaw
to William Wotherspoon, was a forgery, and that he could lead proof to
show that Wotherspoon was the perpetrator of the crime. The matter being
immediately investigated, it was found that there were sufficient
grounds to institute a criminal action against Wotherspoon; and his
apprehension, as already described, was the result.

Wotherspoon, in the meantime, however, denied all knowledge of the bill,
said he had no transactions whatever with Lorimer or Laidlaw, and that
he did not know the latter, even by sight, or in any other way; and in
this utter denial he remained firm and consistent to the last, to the
great perplexity of his own counsel, who, while he could not resist the
weight of evidence which was mustered against his client, and which
indeed seemed conclusive, was yet staggered by the cool and pertinacious
manner in which Wotherspoon maintained and insisted on his innocence.

In due time the trial of the latter, for the forgery, came on before the
High Court of Justiciary, when a long and careful investigation of the
case was entered into.

The first witness called by the public prosecutor was Lorimer, who
deposed that the bill had been paid over to him by Wotherspoon, for
professional services rendered the latter at the time of his bankruptcy.
That it was Wotherspoon's handwriting. That Wotherspoon had stated that
he had obtained the bill from Laidlaw, in payment of an account for
goods with which he had furnished him. That he had discovered the
forgery, by having asked Laidlaw, whom he accidentally met some time
after, if he had ever had any dealings with Wotherspoon? when the former
said he never had, and knew nothing about him. Had, from some
circumstances which subsequently occurred, suspected that the bill was a
forgery; particularly from Wotherspoon saying, that he would be obliged
to retire it himself, in the first instance, as Laidlaw had intimated to
him that he could not meet it when due. Witness, knowing Laidlaw
to be a wealthy man, thought this very unlikely, and hence his
suspicions--suspicions, he said, which were greatly increased by a
circumstance which he begged permission to state to the court. Witness
then proceeded to relate the expression used by Mr Wotherspoon on the
occasion of his dining with the commercial traveller, which, he said,
happening to be in an adjoining apartment, he had overheard.

This witness was followed by Laidlaw, the alleged accepter of the bill,
who swore that the signature attached to it was not his handwriting;
and, in this assertion, he was supported by other evidence; adding, that
he had no knowledge whatever of the prisoner, and had never had any
transactions with him.

James Anderson, Wotherspoon's shopman, was next called; and when asked
if the bill, which was shown him, was his master's handwriting,
answered, that he could not say--that it was certainly very like;
thought, however, on the whole, that it was not, but would not swear to
this. Asked if he ever saw or knew Lorimer to be employed by his master;
said, he did not. Asked, if he meant that he never was employed by him,
or merely that such a circumstance did not consist with his knowledge?
Answered, that it did not consist with his knowledge; but allowed that
Lorimer might have been employed by the prisoner without his knowing it.

A person of the name of Andrew Hislop was next put into the witness-box,
who swore that Wotherspoon had told him that he had settled with
Lorimer, and that he had given him an indorsed bill, in payment of his
account; that he had said, at the same time, that the bill was the
acceptance of Laidlaw, and was in payment of an account for goods which
the prisoner had furnished him.

James Bryce, stabler and innkeeper, Grassmarket, Edinburgh, in whose
house the transaction, which was the subject of investigation, was said
to have taken place, next deponed that Lorimer, whom he knew very well,
and Mr Wotherspoon, the prisoner at the bar, came to his house on the
evening of the 14th September; and that he, being asked to sit down at
table with them, saw Mr Wotherspoon indorse over a bill to Mr Lorimer,
saying, at the same time, that he believed that would about clear scores
between them. This witness's evidence was corroborated by that of his
wife, who had been also asked to join the party, she being well
acquainted with Lorimer, who used to frequent the house when he resided
in Edinburgh.

As these two witnesses were of highly respectable character, their
evidence was held by the court to be conclusive against the prisoner.
The latter, in his defence by his counsel, admitted that he had been in
Edinburgh on the day condescended on by the witnesses who had just been
examined, but denied that he had ever been in their house, or knew
anything at all about them. Denied that he had ever made use of the
language, or anything at all like it, attributed to him by Hislop;
denied that he ever had employed Lorimer in any way, or ever was owing
him a farthing. Admitted that he had used the expressions attributed to
him by Lorimer on the occasion condescended on, and acknowledged their
impropriety; but said they were spoken merely in jest, and in a spirit
of levity, excited by the wine he had drank.

For the rest, the prisoner had only the general respectability of his
character to support him, of which he produced abundant proof to the
court, and a simple denial of all that had been alleged against him; but
this, of course, was of little avail in the face of the direct and
positive evidence of his guilt which had been adduced.

The difficulties, too, in which Wotherspoon was known to be at the time
had a powerful influence in strengthening the belief of his guilt; while
it was observed that the imprudent language used by the prisoner, when
in company with the commercial traveller, and which was detailed by
Lorimer, made a singularly strong and unfavourable impression on the
court--an impression which was but little affected by the apology for,
and explanation of it, that had been given.

In short, no doubt remained on the minds of any one present that
Wotherspoon was guilty of the crime charged against him; and the jury,
in conformity with their own and the general impression, found the libel
proven, without retiring from the box; and the unfortunate man was
sentenced to suffer death: his counsel having in vain stated, that, from
the steadiness, simplicity, and consistency of all the prisoner's
answers to his interrogatories, put to him while in prison, he was all
but entirely convinced of his innocence. "There was a mystery in the
case," he said, "which he could not solve; but a day of retribution was
coming," he added, "when the cause would be tried over again, and before
a Judge from whom nothing could be concealed, and on whom no plot,
however well contrived, could impose."

Wotherspoon heard the terrible judgment pronounced on him with the
utmost composure, and persevered in asserting his innocence, both to his
counsel and to those of his friends who subsequently visited him in
prison. On these last, his declarations produced various effects. Some
of them--those who knew him--believed that he had met with foul play
from some quarter or another; and their suspicions fell on Lorimer,
whose character was well known to them: but there was nothing in the
whole case which could warrant them in openly asserting that he had
played the villain.

By others, again, Wotherspoon's declarations of innocence were looked
upon as proceeding from the natural shame of crime. They pitied the
unhappy man sincerely; but, however high might have been their opinion
formerly of his integrity, they had no doubt that the pressure of
necessitous circumstances had broken down his principles, and that he
was guilty of the forgery. And this last was the opinion generally
entertained regarding the convict by the public at large; while the
first was the most prevalent in the district from which Wotherspoon
came, and where he was, of course, best known.

With regard to Lorimer, the directors of the bank in which the forged
bill had been discounted were so pleased with his activity and diligence
in detecting and proving the forgery, that they not only forgave him the
amount of it--for which he was liable as an indorser--but presented him
with a handsome gratuity over and above, on the conviction of the

To return to Wotherspoon. Two or three days after his trial and
condemnation, the session closed, and the gentleman, a Mr Moffat, who
had been employed as his counsel, went to the country to spend a few
days at a friend's residence there. On the first day of his arrival, and
within an hour after that occurrence, Mr Moffat was invited by his host
to take a stroll in the garden, to see some improvement he was then
making on it.

At the moment that Mr Moffat and his friend entered the garden, there
were two men employed in delving a piece of ground at a little distance
from the gate, one of whom, on perceiving the Edinburgh lawyer, hastily
flung down his spade, and ran off. Somewhat surprised at this
circumstance, Mr Porteous, Mr Moffat's entertainer, inquired of the
fugitive's fellow-workman, who was his principal gardener, what it

The man smiled, and said that he believed he did not care to be seen by
that gentleman there, pointing to Mr Moffat.

"By me!--afraid to be seen by me!" said the latter, in astonishment.
"What can that mean? What's the man's name?"

"His name is Hislop, sir--Andrew Hislop," replied the gardener. "I
believe he was witness in some case before the Court of Justiciary

"Right, right!" said Mr Moffat, already a good deal excited by the
occurrence. "I thought I recollected the fellow, even from the momentary
glance I had of him. Has he ever made any remark to you regarding that
trial?" inquired Moffat.

"Why, nothing more, sir, than saying, that it is an ugly job; and that,
if he had not been very firm, perhaps somebody else would have swung in
place of Wotherspoon."

"Ay, indeed," exclaimed Mr Moffat, struggling hard to conceal the
emotion he felt on this first glimmering of a new light on Wotherspoon's
case being thus suddenly and most unexpectedly presented to him, and
which was so much in accordance with certain preconceived notions of his
own regarding that unfortunate case.

"And just now!" said Mr Moffat, eagerly. "What did he say just now,
before he left you? Did he say anything?"

"He said, sir, as I told you before, he did not care to meet with you
again, lest you should bother him with questions."

"Very well, very well--that'll do, my man," replied Mr Moffat, who now
felt convinced that he had got a clue to the mystery which had puzzled
him so much in Wotherspoon's case. "That'll do," he said, at the same
time leading away his friend, to whom he related the whole circumstances
of the trial, mentioned his suspicions, and begged his co-operation--Mr
Porteous being a justice of peace--in securing Hislop. This co-operation
was readily conceded; and so effectively and promptly, that in less than
two hours Hislop was apprehended, although he had got a good many miles
away--for his flight had not been a temporary but a final one; and in
less than two hours more he was hard and fast in the Heart of

On the day after his apprehension, Hislop was examined before the
sheriff--Mr Moffat, who had gone to town on purpose, being also
present--when, either through fear of punishment, which he hoped to
avert by his disclosures, or from the impulses of an awakened
conscience, he told a tale of villany, which--whether the amazing
complexity of its character be considered, the singular dexterity with
which it was managed, or the astounding depravity which marked it--will
scarcely be found paralleled, it is believed, in the annals of crime.

Hislop deponed, in the first place, that Lorimer, not Wotherspoon, was
the actual forger of the bill, and that he had seen him write it. That
he, Hislop, hired by Lorimer, had personated Wotherspoon in Bryce's
house, on the occasion to which the evidence of that witness and his
wife referred; and here Hislop called on Mr Moffat to mark the strong
resemblance, both in person and countenance, that existed between
himself and Wotherspoon; which, now that his attention was called to it,
Mr Moffat perceived to be indeed singularly striking.

The deponent further stated, that Lorimer had promised him £10 for his
trouble, but had paid him with five. That Wotherspoon had never used the
expressions to him that he had attributed to him, when giving evidence
on the trial of the former. Lastly, he declared that Lorimer had
frequently said to him, in reference at once to the plot against
Wotherspoon, and to Wotherspoon himself, "that he would be revenged on
the object of his deadly hatred, and would put fifty pounds in his
pocket besides."

On the strength of this deposition, Lorimer was now apprehended, while a
respite was obtained for Wotherspoon; and the trial of the former, for
the identical crime for which the latter was under sentence of death,
soon after followed.

On this trial, the deposition of Hislop was, through the activity of
Wotherspoon's counsel, corroborated in every particular, and the whole
villany laid bare to open day.

The general result of the evidence against Lorimer showed that he had
selected Hislop to be an instrument of his atrocious designs chiefly on
account of his remarkable resemblance to Wotherspoon. That, still
further to heighten this deception, so as to deceive Bryce and his wife,
should they, as he expected they would, be confronted with
Wotherspoon--or foreseeing, in short, exactly what had happened with
regard to him--he had been at the trouble and expense of procuring for
Hislop a wig of exactly the same description with that worn by
Wotherspoon, and which was of rather a peculiar make and colour. That he
had selected a day for coming to Edinburgh, to execute that part of the
plot which was performed in Bryce's house, when he knew that Wotherspoon
was also in the city; and thus his villanous design was complete in all
its parts, and could only have been discovered through the treachery of
Hislop. His assertions were all positive, while Wotherspoon's were
necessarily all negative; and it is well known how much easier it is to
prove than to disprove; and of this Lorimer had the full advantage in
the case of the prosecution of the former.

At the desire of the Lord Advocate, the wig which Mr Wotherspoon wore
was placed on Hislop's head in court, the former being also present,
when Bryce and his wife were called in, and asked to say which of the
two was the Mr Wotherspoon they had seen with Lorimer; when both
without hesitation and at once, pointed out Hislop; that difference in
look and appearance--for, however like two persons may be, some
difference between them there always is--being evident, when they were
seen together under the circumstances just mentioned, which was scarcely
to be detected when they were seen separately by those who were not
previously acquainted with them individually and personally: and thus
the most fatal evidence of all that had been adduced against Wotherspoon
was in one instant rendered not only innocuous to him, but destructive
to his persecutor.

The result of Lorimer's trial will be foreseen by the reader. He was
condemned to death, and hanged in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh; while
Wotherspoon was dismissed from the bar with an unblemished character,
and with the sympathy of the whole court and the public at large, for
his unmerited sufferings.

Wotherspoon again became a wealthy man, and saw many happy years
afterwards; but often said that he would never again speak of forging
bills, as Lorimer had declared, after he was condemned to death, that it
was his having overheard his idle, but unguarded language on this
subject in the inn, that had suggested to him the plot which had so
nearly accomplished his destruction.



It is a difficult question how far doctors ought voluntarily to
interfere in matters of wills. One-half of our profession advocate the
moral necessity and propriety of not only putting their patients in such
a state of knowledge as to their bodily condition, as to bring out by
_inference_ the prudence of arranging their temporal affairs, but of
adding suggestions and recommendations to the effect of inducing them to
perform this indispensable duty, before the grim tyrant's advances may
render it impossible. The other half smile at their bolder and more
philanthropic brethren, as fools who interfere with what lies beyond
their province, and limit their statements or advice to those necessary
replies which are called for by the questions of the patients
themselves. Upon all such points, where the truth is sought for _in
partibus extremis_, much has been said, and will be said; and perhaps a
thousand years hence the profession and the public may be as far from
any simple designative proposition of the real moral truth of the
subjects, as they are at present. The fault lies in men's minds, which,
seeking eternally to generalise, lose sight of the grand fact in
nature--that, as in botany she defies man in his attempts at a natural
classification, so, in moral states and conditions of society, she
equally defies him to manufacture verbal rules for the regulation of
individuals or masses under all existing circumstances. For my part, I
have always avoided these verbose questions; and, though I have
practised for many years, I have never experienced any difficulty in so
regulating my statements and advices to dying patients, as might best
suit their temporal interests of health and wealth, without losing sight
of what was due to higher and more sacred feelings and prospects of a
world to come. To tell some patients that they are dying would be to
commit a species of homicide; to conceal from them the state of their
bodies, and their approaching dissolution, may be to be accessory to
worldly wrongs, to be felt for generations, and to that condemnation
that is to be felt for ever; but between those extremes there ranges a
wide field for the workings of prudence, an ample space for the exercise
of a noble and manly virtue, and scope enough and to spare for the
exhibition of all those elevated feelings of good hearts that add grace
and beauty to the possessors, and are displayed for the benefit of our
fellow-creatures. No man has so much in his power for the benefit of
mankind as a medical practitioner; and proud am I to say, that no man,
speaking generally, more seldom loses the opportunity of turning it to
the proper account. These observations are called forth by a case that,
some time ago, came under my observation, where the hand of a ruling
Providence spurned the schemes of weak mortals, and took the regulation
of a dying person's affairs out of her hands, in a manner as strange as
it is dark and mysterious.

Mrs Germain, a widow lady of fortune, sent her niece, a young woman
about twenty-three years of age, to request that I would visit her in my
professional capacity. The case, I was told, was not an urgent one, and
I might call at any time during the course of the day, as suited my
arrangements and leisure. I went, accordingly, in a short time
afterwards, and was introduced into a very splendid drawing-room, where
I observed an elderly lady, whom I took to be Mrs Germain herself,
reclining on a damask-covered couch, with the young person who had
waited on me sitting on a footstool by her side. The two individuals
were interesting in many respects, even at first sight. There was a
singular elegance of taste displayed in the dress, though a dishabille,
of the elderly one, which, co-operating with a set of features at one
time undoubtedly handsome, and now noble and intellectual, bespoke the
lady by birth, and one that had cultivated the art of making the body
and the mind reflect on each other mutual beauty and adornment. The
young one, whom I had seen before, but under the shade of a jealous
veil, was one of those _blondines_ so highly prized in French
novel-writing, and seldom seen in our country in the perfection of
contrast, of dark piercing eyes and light auburn tresses, so frequently
seen in France. She was also very elegantly attired; and the graceful
manner in which she reclined, with her left arm on the side of the
couch, and her right holding a richly-gilt book, from which she had been
reading to her aunt, produced an effect which an artist or a lover would
not have been slow to acknowledge. On a nearer approach, I soon
detected, in the composed and bland features of the elder, the delicate,
yet certain, touch of the finger of some latent, lurking disease; which,
by draining the blood from the lips, blanching the lower confines of the
temples, and depressing the globes of the eyes, had given a melancholy
premonition of serious changes about to be effected in vital parts.

Having been introduced by the niece, who rose and handed me a chair, I
sat down by the side of the couch, and received an account of the
symptoms which had exhibited themselves to the invalid; from which I
learned that she had been ailing for several months, but that no
indications of serious disease having been detected by her, she had put
off her application for medical advice from day to day, in the hope of
getting better. How little did she know that, during all that time, she
had been unconsciously, yet progressively, travelling the dark path of
death!--how little did she now know, as she lay there, arrayed in the
tasteful and costly decorations of the body--her face clothed with the
composure of easy indolence and the expression of noble pride, and her
soft languid eye lighted up with the hope of a long course of happiness
supplied from the resources of wealth--that death was busy with the
secret parts of her heart! I understood her complaint at the first
description of her symptoms--an aneurism or tumour in the region of the
fountain of life, which would burst in an instant, and precipitate her
in another moment into eternity.

Her complaint defies all the efforts of our profession, and it is,
moreover, one which never can with propriety be explained to a patient,
because there are few that have firmness enough to enable them to bear
up under the certainty of an instantaneous dissolution, and the
uncertainty of the dread moment. I therefore exercised that allowable
and humane dissimulation which the searching eyes of patients, or that
of friends, render necessary for their freedom and relief from fears
that would often kill as certainly as the disease which generates them.
This might not have been called for by any vigilance on the part of Mrs
Germain to read my face; she felt no apprehension, and put no questions
as to what I conceived to be the nature of her complaint. But I saw the
dark eyes of the niece fixed upon my countenance with a searching
intensity of look and solicitude of expression, which showed that, if
she could, she would have read the most secret thoughts of my heart.
There was affection deep and pure in that look, and the fear of the
bursting asunder of ties more dear to her than her own existence. She
continued her gaze silently, but thoughtfully; and the conversation of
her aunt, which, notwithstanding her weakness, was spirited and buoyant,
touching many indifferent topics lightly, and with the ease and grace of
high breeding and fine cultivated fancy, struck her ear without carrying
a meaning to her mind. I indulged the confidence of the patient, and
witnessed, with feelings which we only can know, the delusive spirit of
life flapping his golden-coloured wings round the heart whose citadel
was already occupied by the demon of death. Such scenes are familiar to
us; but there was something in this different from any I had yet
witnessed: and I took my departure with an assumed placidity of look,
while the inmost recesses of my spirit were convulsed by the laugh of
the patient, and the silent-brooding and fearful-searching eye of that
angelic being, whose existence seemed to be wound up in her friend.

Even in desperate cases we must prescribe; and in the evening I sent
some medicines of the paregoric and hypnotic kind, with a view,
simply--for I could do no more--of relieving a slight pain which
occasionally, but at considerable intervals, interfered with her good
spirits. I continued my visits, and often witnessed scenes similar to
those I described. The patient was gradually approaching the dread
issue; and still, at every meeting, that beautiful young woman watched
my every look, and searched my heart with those brilliant eyes, that
spoke some mysterious language, which even the deepest feelings of
friendship for her benefactress would scarcely explain. The patient
herself felt no solicitude--she saw no danger. It was clearly otherwise
with her niece: but what surprised me was, that this devoted girl only
looked her intense feelings; she never asked me if her aunt was in
danger. Every glance, every movement, showed that she felt it; but the
fear of having her apprehensions confirmed--such, at least, was my
construction of her strange conduct--sealed up her lips, and constrained
her to a solemn silence.

One day I called, and was shown into an anteroom, until some friend had
departed. I heard words in an adjoining closet, and knew the voice of
Louisa--for such was the name of the fair creature who had claimed so
much interest from me.

"Why will not you, my dearest Louisa?" said the soft voice of a young
man. "This is terrible! Think, love, meditate, what will be the dreadful
issue! Oh, sweet, angelic being! why were you fated to make me adore you
for acting against those wishes I now breathe in your ear? Ask the
doctor; tell him the awful secret, that our happiness depends on ten
written letters of a name; and he has only to say write, and it is

"I have already tried to speak to him, but I cannot. Alfred, I see our
danger. My aunt, I fear, is dying. The £20,000 left her by her husband
goes to a sordid wretch, his brother, if she dies without a will. There
is none on earth she loves but me and Alfred. O beloved Alfred! you
alone divide, with that angelic woman, the affection of your Louisa. You
are poor; I know it; I have wept for it. I have nothing on this earth.
If she die without a will, we are beggars, and her last breath will wail
our destiny, and her last tear tell her too late her unavailing
sympathy. I know all this. It is my night thought, my day dream, my
love's whisper, my Alfred's theme; but, God help me, I cannot break this
subject to the doctor; my very heart bounds within my bosom at the
thought of raising one slight fear in the breast of that woman to whom I
owe all the happiness I have ever experienced upon earth. What, oh, what
shall be done, Alfred?"

I heard her sobs burst from her, as she sought for sympathy in the bosom
of her lover.

"Louisa, love, lift up your head," he answered. "You are sacrificing
both of us to a feeling which that excellent woman herself would
pronounce a weakness and a cruelty to both you and her. Think, love,
what shall be the thoughts, the agonies, of your aunt, if she finds
herself firmly locked in the arms of death, and her hands bound up, by
his rigid grasp, from obeying the dictates of a bursting, breaking
heart. The thought that Augustus Germain, the man she hates, inherits
all her fortune, and that her dear Louisa is left by her a beggar, will
drag her parting spirit to the confines of the flesh, and torture it in
the body's expiring struggle. You tremble at rousing in her a fear of
death, by the mention of the will; and you inflict a thousand agonies,
by leaving her unprepared for that death when it comes. Louisa, Louisa,
lift up your head, and say if these are not the words of truth."

A silence succeeded these words. The girl was in tears, and her feelings
choked her reply.

"I feel that you have spoken truth, Alfred," said she; "yet I cannot do
it, I cannot--I will rather be a beggar."

"And you _will_ be a beggar, sweet but deluded girl," rejoined the
lover; "and Alfred, who would have died for his Louisa, will be also a
beggar, through her weakness. Love is hated by the Fates."

Another pause intervened, of some moments.

"But, Alfred," resumed the sobbing girl, "if--if--oh, I tremble at the
word--if my aunt should die without a will, and your Louisa, in place of
having twenty thousand pounds, is, as she will be, a beggar--will your
love for me, Alfred--ah, I choke--the thought swells my heart----"

"I know it--I know it, Louisa," replied he; "mention it not--it is well
that your swelling heart binds up the treacherous word--would not
Louisa, with all her aunt's wealth, take Alfred, who has nothing--shall
not Alfred, who has nothing, take his Louisa, a beggar? Lovely girl!
good, elevated, and noble as you are, I question if you sufficiently
appreciate the devotedness of your Alfred. But, Louisa, think again of
what I have said. I see you again to-morrow. Oh, how time flies, when I
think of your aunt!--how it lags when I think of you! Think--think, ere
it be too late."

"I cannot--I cannot," replied she.

There was an embrace; he departed, and the disconsolate Louisa sat and
wept bitterly alone.

The servant came and told me that Mrs Germain was now alone. I hastened
to her. She was, as usual, on the couch. The disease was gradually
progressing, but without making much of external ravage; and her spirits
were as good as usual.

"Ha, doctor," she said, briskly, as I went forward, "that was Augustus
Germain who now went from me. Know you him? He is the brother of my
deceased husband; and now, when I am ailing, though, Heaven be praised,
not dying, he has begun to sneak about me, for his own private ends. I
have not seen his face these six months. Do you know he is in my power?
I can leave the whole fortune I got from his brother past him--to whom I
please. Ha! ha!"

"And do you intend, madam, to leave it past him?" replied I, looking in
her face gravely.

"Intend!" cried she, with another laugh, which I feared would burst the
tumour, and end her life in the instant. "Why, to be sure I do. Louisa
Milford shall be my heir, though I had a million for every thousand.
That girl, sir, is a jewel beyond the value of all that Golconda could
give up from its inmost recesses. She loves Alfred Stanford, a young man
as noble in his sentiments, as she is kind, and gentle, and true in her
affections; but he is poor, and, praise be to Heaven! I have the means
of making them rich and happy."

"And why do you delay this act of kindness and duty," said I, with a
look fixed on her eyes, "when you and all others are aware how very
brittle a thread life hangs by?"

She looked at me firmly and intently as I pronounced these words, and
paused a little, as if she felt some slight shock, which she required to

"Do _you_ think, sir," replied she, "that I ought not to delay that

"Though you were in perfect health, madam, I should, answer, yes,
undoubtedly," said I, with eagerness.

"Then I may as well do it now, when I am only slightly ailing," answered
she; recovering, in a moment, from the slight uneasiness I had caused
her; "yet, somehow or other, I am so filled with the spirit of life--so
young--I mean comparatively--with so many years before me--with such a
gay world around me, that I cannot help laughing at making a will. I
must put on spectacles, I presume, when I sign it, and look grave and
antiquated. Ha! ha! Well, I shall send for old parchment Jenkins in the
evening; and, as I would wish you to be present at the execution, I will
thank you to make your visit to me in the evening to-morrow. Old
Goosequill and you may partake of a glass of my burgundy, vintage '94,
on the head of the young widow's settlement."

"I shall attend, madam," said I; "and, if you please, I shall send Mr
Jenkins to you just now as I pass."

She eyed me somewhat closely again; but the feeling flew off.

"Do so--do," she replied; and I left her.

As I proceeded out to the main door, I passed the small room where
Louisa Milford still sat, with the effect of the extraordinary scene
that had taken place between her and the young man called Stanford
pressing on her bosom. I stood a moment, and heard distinctly her deep
sobs and stifled moans. Her sentiments were beautiful, her conduct
noble: she would sacrifice twenty thousand pounds to avoid giving the
aunt she loved a moment's uneasiness; and she had resisted the
impassioned importunities of a lover, who was suspended between beggary
and affluence, and who had adroitly addressed himself to the young heart
of love, as well as to the immature judgment of youth. I had no liberty
to say one word to her of her aunt's intentions; yet I had for some time
resolved to communicate to her the true state of her relative's health,
with an injunction to keep the fearful nature of the disease a secret
from the patient. I knocked at the door, and was requested to walk in.
She was hurriedly occupied in drying up her tears, and removing the
signs of grief.

"You have been weeping, Miss Milford," I said; "is it for your aunt?"

"Forbid that I should require to weep for her!" she cried, starting, as
if stung with pain. "I cannot bear the idea of that woman being in
danger. I have watched your eye daily, and have read in it fearful
things; but I will comfort her; she shall never know that there is
danger near. I will ward off the sad thought; and oh! sir, for mercy's
sake, co-operate with me in my love, while you try to save her from the
danger, the thought of which she shall never know!"

The remembrance of what had passed a few minutes before between her and
her lover, brought out the full effect of the purity of thought that
dictated her impassioned words. I surveyed her for a moment with

"I did not think my _professional_ eye was so easily read, Miss
Milford," I replied. "You have read it correctly. Your aunt cannot live.
I have thought it my duty to inform you of this. Her complaint is in the
region of the heart, and she will likely die in an instant."

She stood for a moment pale and motionless, as if her heart had suddenly
ceased its functions. A slow heaving of the bosom showed the approach of
a paroxysm of grief; and I trembled lest the sounds should reach the
patient's room. I pointed in the direction silently. She understood me;
and the strongest workings of nature were overcome by the strength of
her fear to cause pain to her she loved. She struggled against the
rising passion, and, turning to me, fell suddenly at my feet, and held
up her clasped hands in the direction of my countenance.

"And you will not tell her?" she cried, while struggling sobs impeded
her speech; "no, no, pity demands it, and I pray for it--let her live in
the hope of life! Say, good sir, for Heaven's sake, that you will
conceal it from her, and from all others. None shall know it from me--I
will die rather than divulge it. She will thus be happy to the end. She
requires no preparation--she is spotless--pure as the child unborn; and
as she has lived, so shall she die!"

"It is not my intention to communicate it to her," replied I.

"Ah! thanks, thanks, good sir," she replied, in the same impassioned
voice. "Bless you--bless you!"

"But this ignorance, Miss Milford," said I, "prevents a settlement of a
patient's worldly affairs."

"If that settlement, in the case of my aunt," replied she, fervently,
and turning up her eyes to heaven, "is to be purchased by one moment of
pain to her, let Augustus Germain take all."

"Extraordinary sentiment!" muttered I--"extraordinary being!" I left her
to her grief, and proceeded to the attorney's house. He was at home, and
promised to wait on Mrs Germain that day. He called afterwards, and told
me that the will would be ready next evening at seven, when I was
requested to attend to witness it, along with him. I attended
accordingly. The lady was in her usual state of spirits. She sat up on
the couch, arrayed in a superb undress. Miss Milford was not present. I
observed her in her own room, as I passed, with Stanford sitting by her,
holding one of her hands. The attorney, and one of his clerks, and
myself, were the only persons present besides the invalid.

"I am dying to hear a will, Mr Jenkins," said the patient, laughing. "I
don't think I ever heard one in my life; for my husband's settlement was
a contract of marriage, and I fear there is _some_ difference between
the two papers."

Mr Jenkins read the settlement.

"Will you not allow me a glass of wine, doctor?" resumed the invalid, in
the same strain. "It may steady my hand. I declare I am as nervous as a
young bride."

I poured out a glass of her old burgundy, and gave it to her.

"Here is to my own health first!" said she--"for, you know, I'm an
invalid; and, secondly, here is to you all, and may you never be worse
than I am until you come to die!"

She took up the pen and began to write her name. I looked over her
shoulder. She had written Margaret Germ--and the pen was quivering in
her hand. She uttered a scream, and fell back--a corpse. In an instant,
Louisa and Stanford rushed into the room.

"Is she dead?" cried the attorney. "The will is not signed. It wants
three letters. It is useless."

"She is gone," replied I, "for ever."

Louisa threw herself upon the body of her aunt. Stanford looked on like
a statue of marble. The scene was heartrending; for the devoted girl
clung with such force to the dead body, that it was with difficulty I
could get her detached. The loss of the £20,000 was to her nothing. She
did not even hear--at least she understood not the writer, when he cried
out that the will wanted three letters, and was void. Her whole soul was
occupied with the engrossing idea that her aunt was dead; yet so painful
was the thought, that she could not bear to hear the truth, and cried
with a loud voice on the dead body to answer her with one word of
consolation. All this time, Stanford fixed his eye on the fragment of
the name to the will. The three letters were worth a fortune.

"Heavens!" I heard him mutter, "is it so? Are my fears realised, and in
this dreadful form? Hope on the very brink of being realised, swallowed
by the fell demon of despair!"

Louisa was carried out senseless, and Stanford rushed out of the room
like a maniac. The dead body was spread out; the will was rolled up in a
scroll; the writer went away; and I sought home with eyes filled with

I afterwards learned that the brother came in as heir. Louisa was,
indeed, a beggar; but Stanford married her. They are yet poor, and may
remain so for life.


I have already laid before the public one well-authenticated case of a
false conception of identity, arising from the disease called
hypochondria. In that case, as well as in most of the others generally
met with, the supposed change of identity that takes place is complete,
extending to the whole body, which is imagined to pass into a new form
of being, different from man, and often into a piece of matter not
imbued with life or motion at all. Of this latter case, by far the best
known transmutation is that into some very brittle commodity, such as
glass; and this is not to be wondered at, even amidst the darkness of
our ignorance of the secret workings of those extraordinary changes
which seem to shame even the invention of Ovid; for the idea or fantasy,
in that case, is only a peculiar type of the feeling of the nervous
apprehension or terror, which is the peculiar pathognomonic symptom of
the disease itself. It is not difficult to suppose that, when the heart
is filled with fear of personal injury, and yet the eye surveys no cause
of danger, the mind itself will supply imaginary causes--and this
accordingly we find to be the case; neither does it seem to defy our _à
priori_ conceptions, that while imaginary objects of detrimental
efficacy shall be conjured up from the depths of a dark fancy, a
corresponding notion of peculiar brittleness in the body itself shall be
generated, to give plausibility to the pre-existing apprehension of
serious evil. Indeed, the two seem to be counterparts of each other; and
we have only to proceed a step further, to the species of brittleness or
liability to detriment, to come to that extraordinary conception, which
almost every doctor of extensive practice has witnessed once or twice in
his life--that the body is composed of glass, and therefore in continual
danger of being cracked or broken to pieces, from the appulse of objects
that are every day impinging upon us without doing us any harm. The
frequency of the "glass man" is therefore not a matter of very great
wonder to a philosophical mind, after the casual condition of the change
is admitted. The case has so often occurred, that it now excites little
curiosity; but I question much, if the case of a fancied _partial_
transmutation of the flesh into glass may not, as well from its rarity
as its grotesqueness, claim a greater share of interest from the
faculty, and from the general reader; and when I state that the instance
I have to record was witnessed and studied by myself, with a view to the
interests of science--a fact of much importance in all reports of
extraordinary conditions of human nature--I need say no more in
recommendation of it to the attention of the public.

The unhappy subject of the case was a poor man, called Patrick G----, by
trade a tailor--a profession, by the way, which is more productive of
hypochondria than any other with which I am acquainted, arising,
doubtless, from the sedentary habits of the individuals, combined with
their irregular modes of living. I have always noticed a peculiar
_outré_ character in the ideas and feelings of people inclined to
hypochondria; and those who have been permitted to enter the
_penetralia_ of the workshop where the _board_ is covered with these
unfortunate beings, will justify the remark, by their experience of the
strange sayings, grotesque art, and recondite humour, to be found in the
peculiar atmosphere of that temple of taste. I make this allusion, of
course, with a scientific view, as elucidating a fine point in
psychology, and not in the slightest degree influenced by a love of the
mere garbage of the food of an ill-timed curiosity. The peculiarity of
thought and feeling, incidental to this class, might easily have been
discovered in the individual who was so unfortunate as to require my
aid; and all his physical appearances would have justified the
anticipation of the peculiarity, before he opened his mouth. His
complexion was so decidedly what we call saturnine, that it approached
to the colour of green. He was at all times excessively irritable, so
much so that he was often attacked with spasmodic affections; and at
these times he was so easily acted upon by slight and trifling external
causes, that his wife, a very sober and decent woman, required to
observe the greatest caution in conducting those affairs of her domestic
establishment which interfered with either his mind or body. If he was
not in this state of irritability, he was sure to be under the power of
an extreme rigidity of solids, and torpor of the nervous system,
accompanied by their usual concomitant of melancholy, which suggested
even a _bizarrerie_ of thought quite different from that of ordinary
men. I thought the seat of his disease was the spleen, in consequence of
finding an enlargement of that organ; but I afterwards came to be
satisfied that his liver, too, was deranged--an opinion very well
justified by what afterwards befel him.

The symptoms I have mentioned continued in the man for a period of a
year and a-half; but an aggravation of them became soon thereafter
apparent, in a very marked increase of his melancholy, accompanied by a
shaking nervousness on being approached by any heavy article, subject to
movement. When forced out by his wife for the benefit of his health, he
kept the side of the wall, shook at the risk of a jostle, as if a push
or drive would have killed him, and ran into closes and avenues, to be
out of the reach of carriages that were steadily keeping the middle of
the high-road. I have observed these symptoms (to us well known) in
very aggravated diseases of the stomach, without very marked derangement
of the neighbouring organs; and calmed the fears of his wife, by stating
that they would probably abate, as the medicines I gave him (chiefly
tonics) began to operate upon his system. I had, notwithstanding, my
fears that a deeper type of hypochondria was on the eve of exhibiting
itself--an opinion formed chiefly from the study of his eye, which was
getting daily heavier and gloomier, more turned to the angle of the
orbit, and filled with morbid terror, on the approach of any moving
thing, however innocuous. To test further the truth of my deduction, I
gave him a gentle push aside, and observed that he shrank as if he had
been stung by an adder, retreating back from me, and eyeing me with
suspicion and dread, as if I had been about to kill him. He was now, I
suspected, on the eve of falling into one of two positions, depending
upon the temperament of his mind. He would either (as happens with
people of an imaginative turn) create fanciful objects of fear that
might do him bodily injury, retaining his conception of personal
identity unimpaired, or he would pass into the false conviction of being
made of some tender substance, capable of being injured by the approach
of external objects, but retaining otherwise his conceptions of external
things entire--a result more common to minds of a sedate, phlegmatic

My fears turned out too true. The next time I visited him, I was met by
his wife in the passage, who said she wished to speak a few words to me
before I entered. She whispered that she feared her husband had entirely
lost his senses--for that, on the day previous, he had gone to bed,
where he had lain ever since in the same position--_on his face_; and
yet, so far as she could ascertain, there was nothing the matter with
his back. When she asked him why he lay in that extraordinary position,
he turned up a piteous eye in her face, and replied, with a sigh that
came from the deepest part of his chest, that she would know that soon
enough, requesting her, for the sake of Heaven's mercy and a wife's
love, not to touch him, and to keep the bedclothes as light upon him as
it was ever, ever in her power to do. I could not, even by the power of
anticipation, derived from an ample experience of diseases of this sort,
divine the peculiarity of this patient's complaint; but I was soon to
have sufficient evidence to unravel the mystery.

On going forward to him, I observed that he was carefully laid on his
face, with just so much of his left eye exposed as to serve for a watch
over his body, and exhibit the apprehension which filled his soul, and
engrossed every other feeling.

"Why in this position?" said I. "The back is the resting-place of
patients. Turn, and you will experience the truth of what I say."

"Turn!--oh, that I could!" said he; "but, alas, alas! I dare not; I dare
not." And he accompanied his words with a peculiar nervous glance,
indicating great uneasiness and fear.

"Why?" rejoined I.

"Ah, sir," he cried, in a choking voice, "I must keep this side
uppermost. Glass is brittle, very brittle. I dare not turn; the
crash--ay, sir, the crash--would be tremendous. I would be in a hundred
pieces in a moment. Dreadful thought!--Do not touch me, for Heaven's
sake! approach me not. It is brittle, brittle--ah, very, very brittle!"

These words he accompanied with the same glance of intense fear. I saw
at once where the secret lay; but the poor wife stared with glaring
eyes, as if she had seen a spectre. She understood nothing; but she
watched her husband's eye, and she had never seen there such a wild
light before. Argument in such cases is altogether _hors d'oeuvre_, or
rather it does much injury, and my course lay in a direction entirely
opposite. I had first the precise vitreous locality to discover, which
could be done only by an expression of belief of his extraordinary

"Calm yourself," said I; "we will deal with you quietly. Which is the
dangerous part?"

I laid my hand between his shoulders, and the bedclothes shook with the
tremor of his limbs.

"I never can _sit_ more upon this earth,"[1] he cried, and then paused
and sighed. "My occupation's gone," he continued, in the same trembling,
choking voice. "Merciful powers, what is to become of one of my
profession, if he cannot sit without a crash? Do I not make my bread
sitting? and yet, sir, I put it to you--I put it to you who know the
strength of a window pane--how can I sit? how can I ever earn a
livelihood for that weeping wife? Terrible! terrible!"

[Footnote 1: A case of this kind occurred also in or near the town of
Dundee in Scotland, where the glass was limited to the same
regions--below the lumbars.]

His wife, still at a loss for an explanation, looked into my face, where
she saw the gravity of a philosophic doctor contemplating one of the
miseries of his fellow-creatures, and, besides, interested
scientifically in the case before me--one of partial vitrification,
where the seat of the fancied transmutation was curiously connected with
the prior habits of the individual. The case was serious; and, though I
did not wish, by an expression of my real apprehensions, to frighten the
poor woman, I could not belie my feelings, by assuming any appearance of
carelessness, far less of levity, which I did not in sincerity feel. I
could do nothing for the invalid in the position in which he now was,
and left him, to consider what plan I should fall upon to dispossess him
of this false belief, which, with all the determination and perversity
of his complaint, had taken a firm hold of his mind.

Next morning, the patient's wife called upon me, and stated that she had
got alarmed at the state of her husband, in consequence of his
extraordinary conduct when she endeavoured to get his couch spread up
for their night's repose. On taking hold of him, though she did it in
the gentlest manner possible, with a view to assist him out of the bed,
he screamed out that she was breaking him to fragments, with such
vociferation that the neighbours flocked in, to ascertain what was the
cause. She could give no proper explanation; for, although she had
already got some insight into the nature of the disease, she felt
ashamed to exhibit the weakness of her husband; but he, who felt no
delicacy on the subject, accused her, with tears in his eyes, of an
intention to break him into pieces; called her a cruel woman, and
appealed to several of those present whether it was reasonable to
suppose that a person who had a part of his body made of glass could be
safely handled in the rough manner in which the careless and temerarious
woman had begun to touch and move him from the only safe position he
could ever enjoy on earth. The poor woman wept as she told me that his
speech was received by the neighbours with a loud laugh. I sympathised
with her, and told her, with much grave and real sincerity, that I would
do everything I could for her husband; and in the meantime recommended
her again to try to get him out of bed by the hour of twelve, when I
would call and see him, and try some remedy for him.

I called accordingly, but found that the wife's efforts had proved
unavailing; he was still in bed on his face, and murmuring strong and
bitter reproaches against his helpmate, whom he eyed with an expression
of mixed anger and terror.

"Is it not horrible, sir," he vociferated, "that a woman should attempt
to take the life of her husband? Say, as a Christian and a man, if I
ought not to be handled in a manner suitable to the nature of the
substance of which a part of my body is composed? Heavens! 'tis dreadful
to be damaged irretrievably by the hands of one who should treat me more
softly than others. Ha! my queen, you wish to get quit of me!--but I
shall guard the vital and brittle parts from your evil intention. My
hands and arms are still of flesh and blood."

I tried to convince him that his wife had no evil intention towards him;
but he continued to throw at her wild glances, in which there was
apparent, however, much more terror than anger. I tried him on the
question of rising; but he fixed his eye upon my face with a piteous
expression, and said, in a calm, serious tone--

"Would you, sir, rise if you were in my position, with the danger
staring you in the face of being crushed or broken by the first
hard substance you came against. What would be my consolation in
having the most important part of the body--at least to men of my
profession--picked up in fragments, and laid in my coffin?"

"Better run the risk of being damaged," said I, seriously, "than starve
in your bed. Your wife says you have work lying to do, and that there is
no money in the house."

This statement produced a strong effect upon him. He shook between the
horns of the dilemma in which he was placed, and threw a look at me,
which said plainly, "Is not my situation horrible and heartrending?" But
I retained the sternness of my expression, and yielded him no sympathy
where I felt it to be my duty to use severity. I thought it better to
leave him in this mood, and took my leave. I had made the statement
regarding the necessity of working, at random, and was very well pleased
to have it confirmed by Mrs G----, who followed me to the door, and told
me that she was, indeed, in great perplexity, in consequence of a large
order for mournings having come in that morning, and the two apprentices
could do absolutely nothing to it. The case was one of domestic
calamity, which I could do little to ameliorate, beyond giving another
recommendation to her to strain every effort to get him up.

Something occurred to prevent me calling next day; but on the next day
after I waited upon my unhappy patient. The bed was empty. I looked
round, and saw no one in the apartment. I was surprised, and dreaded
some additional misfortune; but Mrs G----, who came out of the small
room in which her husband wrought, stepped cautiously up to me, and
whispered in my ear, that he had that morning got up, with the
determination to commence work; but that he was still under the same
delusion. "Come here," she added, retreating softly to the workshop. I
followed her; and, at her desire, directed my eye through a small
opening by the side of the door, which was partially open. A most
extraordinary sight was exhibited to me. Two apprentices were sitting on
a board, working fiercely at the mournings, and holding their heads
down, as I thought, to prevent their cruel laughter from being seen by
their unfortunate master, who was clearly the cause of their ill-timed
and mischievous merriment. At a little distance from them, with his back
turned to the wall, was my pale and emaciated patient, busy sewing--_on
his feet_!

"Is not that a dreadful sight, sir?" whispered Mrs G---- in my ear, with
a woful countenance. "He has stood in that awful position since six
o'clock this morning. He can come no speed; and see you how his
apprentices are biting their lips, and holding down their heads to
conceal their merriment?"

I was too much occupied studying the motions and appearance of the
invalid, to reply to the statement of his wife. He was standing in such
a situation that no one could get behind him. There was a deep
melancholy over his countenance, which was grotesquely relieved by the
nervous light of his grey twinkling eye, as he lifted it at times from
the piece of cloth he was busy with, and threw it fearfully in the
direction of the apprentices, as if he watched their motions. It was
clear that he laboured under an apprehension that some effort would be
made to get him to sit, and that he was, _mordicus_, determined that he
would not be broken and immolated in that way--from all which I was
satisfied that his wife, or some other person, had been already that day
making some attempt upon him to get him to sit down, and thus roused him
to the state in which I now saw him. He looked as if he felt the truth
of the motto, _nusquam tuta fides_. He had faith in none, and was on the
quick watch to guard and save himself. The sight was undoubtedly an
interesting one, in more respects than as a scientific study of one
strange phase of human nature; but the only feature in it that surprised
me was, that the patient was working with so much ardour--because
lethargy, with a total prostration of spirit, is the prevailing symptom
of the disease. I could only account for this anomaly, by supposing that
the old excitement of a job of mournings had, for a time, overcome the
depressing energies of his complaint.

I had meditated a curative process to be applied when he got out of bed;
but he was now evidently too much on the quick alert from his alarm, for
its application at that time--his studied proximity to the wall
excluding all hope of getting behind him; and I augured, besides, some
relief from his application to business. I therefore told Mrs G---- that
it would be improper to rouse his fears farther by any unsuccessful
attempt at dislodging, from his addled brain, his false belief, and that
I would call next day, when his confidence in those around him might, in
some measure, be restored.

On my calling next day at the same hour, Mrs G---- informed me that he
had continued working on his feet for the greater part of the preceding
day--turned himself fearfully round when he required to move, so as to
keep the supposed brittle region out of the reach of all danger; when he
retired to bed, he had laid himself on his face; and he was again
working assiduously, in a standing position, in the same way as when I
saw him last. I again applied myself to the opening, and satisfied
myself that the statement I had received was correct. The scene
presented all the extraordinary features--the same standing position,
cadaverous face, and nervous watchful eye, in the patient, and the same
look of mystery, wonder, and repressed risibility on the part of the
apprentices. I opened the door, and entered, requesting Mrs G---- to
bring me a chair, on which I sat down right opposite to the patient,
who, almost simultaneously with these movements, retreated back, and,
coming in contact with the wall of the room, uttered a sudden scream of
fear, and again resumed his position. His wife looked at him with pity
and affection; but the rebellious apprentices broke forth into a
cachinnation, which I instantly repressed by a look, which conveyed a
serious reproof, as sincere as it was strong and stern. I proceeded to
endeavour to acquire his confidence; but he exhibited great shyness, and
kept up a studied system of eyeing me askant, placing his back as near
to the wall as he thought consistent with his safety, and keeping a
sharp look-out for intruders in that direction. To my inquiry how he
felt, he replied, peevishly, that he was so utterly beyond the powers of
medicine, that he did not see the use of my visits.

"Heaven help me!" he ejaculated; "I am safe nowhere but in my bed. No
necessity will draw me from it, if I'm once there again. My ungrateful
wife may starve. I will turn off these rebellious, unfeeling scoundrels.
I am sure rounded by enemies, murderers, who would laugh if they saw me
cracked in a thousand pieces. They gloat on my screams, as they take
every opportunity to pass behind me and jostle me. Better be dashed at
once like a potsherd among stones, than exposed to this horrible state
of eternal apprehension."

"You nourish vain fears," replied I. "Why not try to sit and compose

"Ha! ha! ha!" he cried, with a shrill, sardonic movement of his
lungs--"sit on a glass globe!--ha! ha!--all enemies together--murderers
all. It is not three hours yet since that woman placed a chair for me,
and one of these unfeeling ruffians asked me, with a sneaking, whining
sympathy, to take my place on the board, while his ears were tingling
for the crash. I'll swear a lawburrows against you all--every mother's
son of you."

"You may at least try to sit," said I, calmly rising from the chair--a
movement that operated upon him like magnetism--making him throw down
the cloth he held in his hand, recoil still farther back, and scream
again, loud and shrill.

I made a step forwards to him, which roused his fears still higher; for
he was clearly possessed with the idea that I was to force him to sit,
or to press him against the wall, and thus shatter him to pieces. The
one mode of destruction was just as fearful as the other; and, as I took
another step nearer him, he raised a yell that made the whole house
ring, and, changing his position, with his back still to the wall, he
glided swiftly aside, and seemed, by the furtive glance of his
terrorstruck eye, to wish to make for the door--which, however, was
guarded by his wife. By this time the two young men had started to their
feet, so that he was surrounded by foes on every side; and as the utter
desperation of his case thus seemed to increase, he became more and more
terrified, repeating his screams at shorter intervals, and placing
himself with a caution which, in his excited state, had a strange
appearance, closer and closer to the wall. The sight was a grievous one
to his wife, and far from an agreeable one to myself; but the
apprentices--probably from a spirit of retaliation roused by a memory of
former inflictions--enjoyed it with a cruel delight. Having thus far
roused his terror, I thought it prudent not to stop short in an
operation which, at whatever time performed, must necessarily be
attended with all the pain he now suffered; and, throwing out a signal
to one of the young men to stand by the chair, and to the other to come
to my side, I made boldly towards him, and, notwithstanding of his
heartrending screams and looks for pity, seized him by one arm, while
the other was willingly laid hold of by my assistant.

At this period of the operation, I was rather importunately addressed by
Mrs G----, whose feelings--for she was an irritable creature, and
distractedly fond of her husband--overcame her.

"For heaven's sake, let him alone!" she cried. "The neighbours will
think we are in reality murdering him. His screams go to my heart, and I
cannot stand these wild looks. Heaven pity my unfortunate husband!"

"I am only performing my professional duty," I replied, loudly, to make
myself heard in the midst of his screams. "You called me to him; and, if
you really wish it, I will leave him to his fate. No man of his
profession can do any good in the world by working on his legs. The
disease is deep-rooted, and can only be overcome by strong remedies. I
think I will cure him; and, if you stop us in the operation, the
consequences will be entirely attributable to yourself."

I spoke at this length with the view, purposely, of keeping the patient
for some time in the high state of terror to which he was roused;
because I was satisfied that, in proportion to the height of his
apprehension, was the chance of benefit to result from my expedient for
curing him. The woman saw the affair in its proper light; and, though
still greatly moved by his screams and pitiful looks, she forbore
further entreaty or interference. The apprentices, meanwhile, were all
alive and ready for action, expressing by their eloquent leers, which I
could not repress, their pleasure in thus having an opportunity--such is
human nature--of repaying their taskmaster for his severity, as well as
of witnessing one of the most curious operations they had ever heard of.
All this time the patient continued his screams--having, at intervals,
recourse to exclamatory expostulation.

"Cruel fiends!" he cried, "will you dash me to pieces? Will nothing less
serve you than to see a poor harmless being, who never injured one of
you, reduced to atoms? And you, too, hard-hearted wretch, whose duty it
is to protect me, stand there a witness of my destruction! Unheard-of
misery, to have the tenement of an immortal soul reduced to particles no
bigger than a farthing!"

We proceeded to drag him forwards, in spite of a resistance strengthened
by the energy of terror and despair, and heedless of his cries of "Save
me, save me! Death, death in any form but being dashed to shivers!"
Having brought him to the chair, the back of which was held firmly by
the other apprentice, we turned him round so as to make the bottom of it
(composed of hard wood) as fair a mark as our eyes could judge. He was
now, as he thought, on the brink of utter extermination; and I was
afraid that the terror might have the effect on him which I have noticed
in criminals at the moment when the fatal drop is to fall, and, by
inducing a fit of syncope, destroy all our labours. It was, however,
otherwise, though I never saw a patient on the eve of undergoing the
amputation of a limb in such a condition of terror and agony. We were
bound to disregard all this; and, having made my assistant understand
that it was necessary to lift him (for a simple seating, without a fall,
I was satisfied, would do no good), we raised him a foot or two, by the
application of considerable strength, and let him down upon the bottom
of the chair, with a crash. A louder scream than he had yet uttered
announced his fancied death-blow.

"I am murdered! it is all over now!" he ejaculated, with a gasp, while
his hands were busy groping about, to feel the pieces of broken glass,
which must necessarily be scattered in every direction.

This operation, on his part, I wished to encourage, and liberated his
arms, to give him greater scope, while we continued to hold him firmly
down on the chair, till we satisfied him that he had received, and could
receive, no injury, from pressing upon it with all the weight of his
attenuated and sickly body. His groping was accompanied by a trembling
that shook all his system; and I saw his terrorstruck eye wavering on
the pivot of doubt, whether it might be inclined downwards to witness
the wreck of his shivered body. Deep, convulsive sobs, the result of the
restrained breath, broke from him in strange sounds, mixed with the
groans of one who thought himself in the firm grasp of death. At length
he ventured to add the testimony of his eyes to that of his hands; and,
when he found that there were no pieces of glass lying about the chair
and floor, he turned up the panicstruck orbs in my face, with an
expression of mixed wonder and terror, that, to any one but myself,
acting in a serious medical capacity, would have appeared ludicrous to
an extent infringing upon the diaphragm. As we held him firmly down, in
spite of his efforts to bound up, the false conviction, so firmly fixed
in his brain, was apparently suffering a silent process of
qualification; and the difficulty of reconciling the belief within with
the actual state of safety without, was drawing him to the favourable
condition of doubt, from which we might augur benefit. As the old
conviction rose, at intervals, more strongly on him, his hands were
again busy to ascertain the actual state of safety of his body; then his
eye sought my face for an assurance in favour of the evidence of touch,
and he was for a moment reconciled; again the false conception seized
him, again he groped, and felt, and looked, and thus was he precipitated
into a state of perplexity, from which he could not get himself
disentangled, but from which he might ultimately, as I hoped, rise into
a natural belief.

"Where are your smashed glass organs now?" said I. He could reply
nothing, but turned up his eye, filled with wonder and doubt, in my
face. "You have been labouring under a wretched delusion of the mind.
There's no more glass about you than there is about me--and that is my
watch-glass. Are you satisfied?"

"Heaven help me! I know not," he replied, in a melancholy tone. "I am
perplexed. I cannot conceive why I'm not broken. How is it possible I
could have stood the shock? Strange!--wonderful!" And he seemed for a
moment lost in the mist of a confused amazement. This was his medicine,
and we allowed it to work, by still holding him firm in his position.
"It cannot be!" he ejaculated, quickly, as he emerged from his dream of
wonder. "It is impossible! I _am_ damaged! Let me up! let me up! and you
will see the melancholy wreck."

This request was a fair one, and we removed our restraining hands. In a
moment he started up, with a bound, to his feet, casting a fearful look
on the bottom of the chair, and clasping the supposed brittle region
with his hands, to ascertain whether he was in reality uninjured. The
laugh of the apprentices, which I had hitherto restrained by my serious
looks, now burst forth, in spite of all their efforts; and, averse as I
am to such exhibitions of levity in cases of serious ailments, I could
not help now looking upon this powerful ridicule as a necessary and
salutary ingredient of the medicine administered to him.

"You are all safe, sir," said I; "not one jot of you injured. I hope to
hear no more of your glass. Next time I call, I expect to see you seated
at your work, as becomes the decorum of your profession."

I now left him; but I was by no means satisfied that he would not
pertinaciously account for his being uninjured, by a recourse to some
fallacious reason--such as the strength of the glass--to satisfy his
prior conviction; for, before I departed, I saw that his look was as
furtive and nervous as before, and his old partiality for the wall was
strong within him. My anticipations were too well founded; for I
ascertained, next morning, that he was not cured. He had given up work,
and betaken himself to bed, where he had gradually relapsed into his old
belief--accounting for his entireness by the strength alone of the
crystal. I told the woman to call again, and tell me when he ventured
up, and I would essay another experiment, which might turn out more
successful. Three days passed before I received the announcement that he
had again betaken himself to work on his legs. I lost no time in getting
two assistants who could work better to my plan than my former
coadjutors, and went to the house. It was the dinner-hour of his
apprentices, and I had arrived in the opportune moment when the door,
which had been bolted all day, to keep me and others out, was still
open, after the exit of the workmen. I went, with the assistants,
straight in upon him, and got a chair handed to me, precisely as on the
former occasion. I soon saw that he was still under the influence of the
delusive fiend that had usurped the seat of reason.

"I am determined," said I, resolutely, "to break this brittle appendage.
I have made my calculations, and am satisfied that I can smash it and
remove it without injury to the vital organs that lie within it. It is,
I am satisfied, a mere glass covering, without the slightest
connection, in an organic view, with the parts beyond it. Fear not when
you hear the crash; for I pledge myself you will thank me for the
operation after it is performed."

"No, no!" he vociferated, with screams; "I shall die, inevitably perish,
if it is broken. You may as well break my head to pieces with an axe,
and say that, because my heart will remain untouched, I will live. Oh,
for the love of Heaven, have mercy on me!"

His screams and exclamations produced no effect upon us. We proceeded to
take off a part of his garments, and led him, in spite of the most
determined and tortuous struggles, to the chair.

"We must break it thoroughly," said I. "Lift him up as high as

My assistant obeyed my directions; and, having raised him as high as our
strength would permit, we brought him down with a hard crash, as
formerly on the chair, at the very moment that my other assistant
dashed, with great force, on the floor a large globular glass bottle,
which he had, by my desire, brought with him for the purpose. The crash
was tremendous, and rang in the victim's ear like a death-knell.

"Pick me up--pick me up!" cried the patient. "I'm all in atoms. You
would not believe me once that I was made in these parts of glass. Ah,
you see now the melancholy evidence of the fact!"

We held him steady, and he rolled his eyes from side to side, surveying
the broken fragments of his vitrified substance with symptoms of horror.
I noticed the hair on his head rise and stand as stiff as porcupine
quills, and all his body was shaken by tremors that seemed to reach his
heart. After allowing the conviction that the appendage was absolutely
broken to take proper root in his mind--

"You are cured," said I. "The glass lies about you, and your body is
entire. I was right in my diagnosis. It is proved; the glass was a mere
covering--a species of fourth skin over the epidermis; and, being gone,
the natural body is freed from the encumbrance. Rise and judge for

These words, with the slow progress of his own mental workings, and,
above all, the sound and sight of the glass, wrought wonders. He rose
deliberately from his seat--examined himself--looked around him--turned
and re-turned--looked at me and my assistants--at his wife, who had come
in wondering at the noise and strange appearance of the glass--and at
the broken evidence, at once of his disorder and his cure.

"This is most wonderful!" he at last ejaculated. "Margaret, woman, look
at that! Where is your scepticism now, your laughs, and your jeers, and
your vain efforts to shake my belief? This may teach you sobriety of
thought, and inspire you with confidence in my opinions. I was never
deceived in my life. Man never found me wrong: and here is my last
victory over the foolish prejudices of all my neighbours."

Saying this, he took a part of the glass, and turned it round in his

"Perfect, pure, brittle glass," he continued. "A pier-glass might have
been made of it."

"I would rather say a _convex_ mirror, Mr G----," said I, laughing,
contrary to my professional gravity.

"But, doctor," said he, "why were you so hard of belief? It was long ere
you would believe me. I have conquered you too; but, I must confess, you
have conquered my disease."

"Yes; I have mastered it at last," said I; "it will never trouble you
again. Would you have the goodness to allow me to take a part of the
fragments home with me, to put in my museum."

"Most certainly," he replied; "but it's natural that I should have the
liberty of retaining a considerable part, to evidence for my sincerity,
and to exhibit as a great natural curiosity to the world."

This matter was easily arranged. The patient mended from that day. The
joy of the relief he had experienced shot its rays through his heart and
system, quickened his blood, and roused his lethargic nerves. His
daydreams vanished, and his nervous fears were replaced by a healthy,
firm confidence. He was, last time I saw him, a very healthy person, saw
through the glass clearly, and laughed heartily at my ingenuity in
overcoming his complaint.


When the glass, the laugh, and the social "crack" go round the convivial
table, there are few who may not have heard the words, "_We'll have
another!_" It is an oft-repeated phrase, and it seems a simple one; yet,
simple as it appears, it has a magical and fatal influence. The lover of
sociality yieldeth to the friendly temptation it conveys, nor dreameth
that it is a whisper from which scandal catcheth its thousand
echoes--that it is a phrase which has blasted reputation--withered
affection's heart--darkened the fairest prospects--ruined
credit--conducted to the prison-house, and led to the grave. When our
readers again hear the words, let them think of our present story.

Adam Brown was the eldest son of a poor widow, who kept a small shop in
a village near the banks of the Teviot. From infancy, Adam was a mild,
retiring boy, and he was seldom seen to join in the sports of his
schoolmates. On the winter evenings, he would sit poring over a book by
the fire, while his mother would say, "Dinna stir up the fire, bairn; ye
dinna mind that coals are dear; and I'm sure ye'll hurt yoursel wi'
pore, porin owre yer books--for they're never oot o' yor hand." In the
summer, too, Adam would steal away from the noise of the village to some
favourite shady nook by the river-side; and there, on the gowany brae,
he would, with a standard author in his hand, "crack wi' kings," or
"hold high converse with the mighty dead." He was about thirteen when
his father died; and the Rev. Mr Douglas, the minister of the parish,
visiting the afflicted widow, she said, "She had had a sair bereavement;
yet she had reason to be thankfu that she had ae comfort left, for her
poor Adam was a great consolation to her; every nicht he had read a
chapter to his younger brothers; and oh, sir," she added, "it wad mak
your heart melt to have heard my bairn pray for his widowed mother." Mr
Douglas became interested in the boy, and finding him apt to learn, he
placed him for another year at the parish school, at his own expense.
Adam's progress was all that his patron could desire. He became a
frequent visiter at the manse, and was allowed the use of the minister's
library. Mr Douglas had a daughter, who was nearly of the same age as
his young _protegé_. Mary Douglas was not what could be called
beautiful, but she was a gentle and interesting girl. She and Adam read
and studied together. She delighted in a flower-garden, and he was wont
to dress it; and he would often wander miles, and consider himself happy
when he obtained a strange root to plant in it.

Adam was now sixteen. It was his misfortune, as it has been the ruin of
many, to be _without an aim_. His mother declared that she was at a loss
what to make him; "but," added she, "he is a guid scholar, that is ae
thing--and CAN DO is easy carried about." Mr Douglas himself became
anxious about Adam's prospects: he evinced a dislike to be apprenticed
to any mechanical profession, and he was too old to remain longer a
burden upon his mother. At the suggestion of Mr Douglas, therefore, when
about seventeen, he opened a school in a neighbouring village. Some said
that he was too young; others that he was too simple--that he allowed
the children to have all their own way; and a few even hinted that he
went too much back and forward to the manse in the adjoining parish, to
pay attention to his school. However these things might be, certain it
is the school did not succeed; and, after struggling with it for two
years, he resolved to try his fortune in London.

He was to sail from Leith, and his trunk had been sent to Hawick to be
forwarded by the carrier. Adam was to leave his mother's house early on
the following morning; and on the evening preceding his departure he
paid his farewell visit to the manse. Mr Douglas received him with his
wonted kindness; he gave him one or two letters of recommendation, and
much wholesome advice, although the good man was nearly as ignorant of
what is called the world as the youth who was about to enter it. Adam
sat long, and said little; for his heart was full, and his spirit heavy.
He had never said to Mary Douglas, in plain words, that he loved her--he
had never dared to do so; and he now sat with his eyes anxiously bent
upon her, trembling to bid her farewell. She too was silent. At length
he rose to depart; he held out his hand to Mr Douglas; the latter shook
it affectionately, adding, "Farewell, Adam! May Heaven protect you
against the numerous temptations of the great city!" He turned towards
Mary--he hesitated--his hands dropped by his side. "Could I speak wi'
you a moment?" said he, and his tongue faltered as he spoke. With a tear
glistening in her eyes, she looked towards her father, who nodded his
consent, and she arose and accompanied Adam to the door. They walked
towards the flower-garden--he had taken her hand in his--he pressed it,
but he spoke not, and she offered not to withdraw it. He seemed
struggling to speak; and at length, in a tone of earnest fondness--and
he shook as he spoke--he said, "Will you not forget me, Mary?"

A half-smothered sob was her reply, and a tear fell on his hand.

"Say you will not," he added, yet more earnestly.

"O Adam!" returned she, "how can you say _forget_!--Never--never!"

"Enough--enough!" he continued, and they wept together.

It was scarce daybreak when Adam rose to take his departure, and to bid
his mother and his brethren farewell. "Oh!" exclaimed she, as she
placed his breakfast before him, "is this the last meal that my bairn's
to eat in my house?" He ate but little; and she continued, weeping as
she spoke, "Eat, hinny, eat; ye have a lang road before ye. And, O Adam!
aboon everything earthly, mind that ye write to me every week; never
think o' the postage--for, though it should tak my last farthing, I maun
hear frae ye."

He took his staff in his hand, and prepared to depart. He embraced his
younger brothers, and tears were their only and mutual adieu. His parent
sobbed aloud. "Fareweel, mother!" said he, in a voice half-choked with

"God bless my bairn!" she exclaimed, wringing his hand, and she leaned
her head upon his shoulder, and wept as though her heart would burst. In
agony, he tore himself from her embrace, and hurried from the house; and
during the first miles of his journey, at every rising ground, he turned
anxiously round, to obtain another lingering look of the place of his
nativity; and, in the fulness and bitterness of his feelings, he
pronounced the names of his mother, and his brethren, and of Mary
Douglas, in the same breath.

We need not describe his passage to London, nor tell how he stood gazing
wonderstruck, like a graven image of amazement, as the vessel winded up
the Thames, through the long forests of masts, from which waved the
flags of every nation.

It was about mid-day, early in the month of April, when the smack drew
up off Hermitage Stairs, and Adam was aroused from his reverie of
astonishment, by a waterman who had come upon deck, and who, pulling him
by the buttonhole, said, "Boat, master? boat!" Adam did not exactly
understand the question, but, seeing the other passengers getting their
luggage into the boats, he followed their example. On landing, he was
surrounded by a group of porters, several of whom took hold of his
trunk, all inquiring, at the same moment, where he wished it taken to.
This was a question he could not answer. It was one he had never thought
of before. He looked confused, and replied, "I watna."

"_Watna!_" said one of the Cockney burden-bearers--"_Watna!_--there an't
such a street in all London."

Adam was in the midst of London, and he knew not a living soul among its
million of inhabitants. He knew not where to go; but, recollecting that
one of the gentlemen to whom Mr Douglas had recommended him was a Mr
Davison, a merchant in Cornhill, he inquired--

"Does ony o' ye ken a Mr Davison, a merchant in Cornhill?"

"Vy, I can't say as how I know him," replied a porter; "but, if you wish
your luggage taken there, I will find him for you in a twinkling."

"And what wad ye be asking to carry the bit box there?" said Adam, in a
moment betokening an equal proportion of simplicity and caution.

"Hasking?" replied the other--"vy, I'm blessed if you get any one to
carry it for less than four shillings."

"I canna afford four shillings," said Adam; "and I'll be obleeged to ye
if ye'll gie me a lift on to my shouther wi't, and I'll carry it mysel."

They uttered some low jests against his country, and left him to get his
trunk upon his shoulders as he best might. Adam said truly that he could
not afford four shillings; for, after paying his passage, he had not
thirty shillings left in the world.

It is time, however, that we should describe Adam more particularly to
our readers. He was dressed in a coarse grey coat; with trousers of the
same colour, a striped waistcoat; a half-worn broad-brimmed hat, and
thick shoes, studded with nails, which clattered as he went. Thus
arrayed, and with his trunk upon his shoulders, Adam went tramping and
clattering along East Smithfield, over Tower-hill, and along the
Minories, inquiring at every turning--"If any one could direct him to Mr
Davison's, the merchant in Cornhill?" There was many a laugh, and many a
joke, at poor Adam's expense, as he went trudging along, and more than
once the trunk fell to the ground, as he came in contact with the crowds
who were hurrying past him. He had been directed out of his way; but at
length he arrived at the place he sought. He placed his burden on the
ground--he rang the bell--and again and again he rang, but no one
answered. His letter was addressed to Mr Davison's counting-house--it
was past business hours, and the office was locked up for the day. Adam
was now tired, disappointed, and perplexed. He wist not what to do. He
informed several "decent-looking people," as he said, "that he was a
stranger, and he would be obleeged to them if they could recommend him
to a lodging." He was shown several, but the rent per week terrified
Adam. He was sinking under his burden, when, near the corner of Newgate
Street, he inquired of an old Irish orange-woman, if "she could inform
him where he would be likely to obtain a lodging at the rate of
eighteen-pence or two shillings a-week?

"Sure, and it's I who can, jewel," replied she; "and an iligant room it
is, with a bed his Holiness might rest his blessed bones on, and never a
one slapes in it at all but my own boy Barney; and, barring when
Barney's in dhrink--and that's not above twice a-week--you'll make
mighty plaisant sort of company together."

Adam was glad to have the prospect of a resting-place of any sort before
him at last, and with a lighter heart and a freer step he followed the
old orange-woman. She conducted him to Green Dragon Court, and desiring
him to follow her up a long, dark, dirty stair, ushered him into a
small, miserable-looking garret, dimly lighted by a broken skylight,
while the entire furniture consisted of four wooden posts without
curtains, which she termed a bed, a mutilated chair, and a low wooden
stool. "Now, darlint," said she, observing Adam fatigued, "here is a
room fit for a prince; and sure you won't be thinking half-a-crown too
much for it?"

"Weel," said Adam, for he was ready to lie down anywhere, "we'll no
quarrel about a sixpence."

The orange-woman left him, having vainly recommended him "to christen
his new tenement with a drop of the cratur." Adam threw himself upon
the bed, and, in a few minutes, his spirit wandered in its dreams
amidst the "bonny woods and braes" of Teviotdale. Early on the following
day he proceeded to the counting-house of Mr Davison, who received him
with a hurried sort of civility--glanced over the letter of
introduction--expressed a hope that Mr Douglas was well--said he would
be happy to serve him--but he was engaged at present, and, if Mr Brown
would call again, if he should hear of anything, he would let him know.
Adam thanked him, and, with his best bow (which was a very awkward one),
withdrew. The clerks in the outer office tittered, as poor Adam, with
his heavy hobnailed shoes, tramped through the midst of them. He
delivered the other letter of introduction, and the gentleman to whom it
was addressed received him much in the same manner as Mr Davison had
done, and his clerks also smiled at Adam's grey coat, and gave a very
peculiar look at his clattering shoes, and then at each other. Day after
day he repeated his visits to the counting-houses of these
gentlemen--sometimes they were too much engaged to see him, at others
they simply informed him that they were sorry they had heard of nothing
to suit him, and continued writing, without noticing him again; while
Adam, with a heavy heart, would stand behind their desk, brushing the
crown of his brown broad-brimmed hat with his sleeve. At length the
clerks in the outer office merely informed him their master had heard of
nothing for him. Adam saw it was in vain--three weeks had passed, and
the thirty shillings which he had brought to London were reduced to ten.

He was wandering disconsolately down Chancery Lane, with his hands
thrust in his pockets, when his attention was attracted to a shop, the
windows and door of which were covered with written placards, and on
these placards were the words, "_Wanted, a Book-keeper_"--"_Wanted, by a
Literary Gentleman, an Amanuensis_"--in short, there seemed no sort of a
situation for which there was not a person wanted, and each concluded
with "_inquire within_." Adam's heart and his eyes overflowed with joy.
There were at least half-a-dozen places which would suit him exactly--he
was only at a loss now which to choose upon--and he thought also that Mr
Douglas' friends had used him most unkindly in saying they could hear of
no situation for him, when here scores were advertised in the streets.
At length he fixed upon one. He entered the shop. A sharp,
Jewish-looking little man was writing at a desk--he received the visiter
with a gracious smile.

"If ye please, sir," said Adam, "will ye be so good as inform me where
the gentleman lives that wants the book-keeper?"

"With pleasure," said the master of the register office; "but you must
give me five shillings, and I will enter your name."

"Five shillings!" repeated Adam, and a new light began to dawn upon him.
"Five shillings, sir, is a deal o' money and, to tell ye the truth, I
can very ill afford it; but, as I am much in want o' a situation, maybe
ye wad tak half-a-crown."

"Can't book you for that," said the other, "but give me your
half-crown, and you may have the gentleman's address."

He directed him to a merchant in Thames Street. Adam quickly found the
house; and, entering with his broad-brimmed hat in his hand, and
scraping the hob-nails along the floor--"Sir," said he, "I'm the person
Mr Daniells o' Chancery Lane has sent to you as a book-keeper."

"Mr Daniells--Mr Daniells?" said the merchant; "don't know any such
person--have not wanted a book-keeper these six months."

"Sir," said Adam, "are ye no Mr Robertson o' 54 Thames Street?"

"I am," replied the merchant; "but," added he, "I see how it is. Pray,
young man, what did you give this Mr Daniells to recommend you to the

"Half-a-crown, sir," returned Adam.

"Well," said the other, "you have more money than wit. Good-morning,
sir, and take care of another Mr Daniells."

Poor Adam was dumfoundered; and, in the bitterness of his spirit, he
said London was a den o' thieves. I might tell you how his last shilling
was expended--how he lived upon bread and water--how he fell into
arrears with the orange-woman for the rent of his garret--how she
persecuted him--how he was puzzled to understand the meaning of the
generous words, "_Money Lent_;"--how the orange-woman, in order to
obtain her rent, taught him the mystery of the _three golden balls_--and
how the shirts which his mother had made him from a web of her own
spinning, and his books, and all that he had, save the clothes upon his
back, were pledged--and how, when all was gone, the old landlady turned
him to the door, houseless, friendless, penniless, with no companion but
despair. We might have dwelt upon these things, but must proceed with
his history.

Adam, after enduring privations which would make humanity shudder,
obtained the situation of assistant-porter in a merchant's office. The
employment was humble, but he received it joyfully. He was steady and
industrious, and it was not long until he was appointed warehouseman;
and his employer, finding that, in addition to his good qualities, he
had received a superior education, made him one of his confidential
clerks. He had held the situation about two years. The rust, as his
brother clerks said, was now pretty well rubbed off Scotch Adam. His
hodden-grey was laid aside for the dashing green, his hobnailed shoes
for fashionable pumps, and his broad-brimmed hat for a narrow-crowned
beaver; his speech, too, had caught a sprinkling of the southern accent;
but, in other respects, he was the same inoffensive, steady, and serious
being as when he left his mother's cottage.

His companions were wont to "roast" Adam, as they termed it, on what
they called his Methodism. They had often urged him to accompany them to
the theatre; but, for two years, he had stubbornly withstood their
temptations. The stage was to Adam what the tree of knowledge was to his
first namesake and progenitor. He had been counselled against it, he had
read against it, he had heard sermons against it; but had never been
within the walls of a theatre. _The_ Siddons, and her brother John
Kemble, then in the zenith of their fame, were filling not only London,
but Europe, with their names. One evening they were to perform
together--Adam had often heard of them--he admired Shakspere--his
curiosity was excited--he yielded to the solicitations of his
companions, and accompanied them to Covent Garden. The curtain was drawn
up. The performance began. Adam's soul was riveted, his senses
distracted. The Siddons swept before him like a vision of
immortality--Kemble seemed to draw a soul from the tomb of the Cæsars;
and, as the curtain fell, and the loud music pealed, Adam felt as if a
new existence and a new world had opened before him, and his head
reeled with wonder and delight.

When the performances were concluded, his companions proposed to have a
single bottle in an adjoining tavern; Adam offered some opposition, but
was prevailed upon to accompany them. Several of the players
entered--they were convivial spirits, abounding with wit, anecdote, and
song. The scene was new, but not unpleasant to Adam. He took no note of
time. He was unused to drink, and little affected him. The first bottle
was finished. "WE'LL HAVE ANOTHER," said one of his companions. It was
the first time Adam had heard the fatal words, and he offered no
opposition. He drank again--he began to expatiate on divers subjects--he
discovered he was an orator. "Well done, Mr Brown," cried one of his
companions, "there's hope of you yet; _we'll have another_, my
boy--three's band!" A third bottle was brought; Adam was called upon for
a song. He could sing, and sing well too; and, taking his glass in his
hand, he began--

    "'Stop, stop, we'll hae anither gill,
      Ne'er mind a lang-tongued beldame's yatter
    They're fools wha'd leave a glass o' yill
      For ony wife's infernal clatter.

    "'There's Bet, when I gang hame the night,
      Will set the hail stair-head a ringin--
    Let a' the neebors hear her flyte,
      Ca' me a brute, and stap my singin.
    She'll yelp about the bairns' rags--
      Ca' me a drucken gude-for-naethin!
    She'll curse my throat and drouthy bags,
      And at me thraw their duddy claethin!'

"Chorus, gentlemen--chorus!" cried Adam, and continued--

    "'The fient a supper I'll get there--
        A _dish o' tongue_ is a' she'll gie me!
    She'll shake her nieve and rug her hair,
      And wonder how she e'er gaed wi' me!
    She vows to leave me, and I say,
      "Gang, gang! for dearsake!--that's a blessin!"
    She rins to get her claes away,
      But--_o' the kist the key's amissin_!

    "'The younkers a' set up a skirl.
      They shriek and cry, "Oh dinna, mither!"
    I slip to bed, and fash the quarrel
      Neither ae way nor anither.
    Bet creeps beside me, unco dour.
      I clap her back, and say, "My dawtie!"
    Quo' she, "Weel, weel, my passion's owre;
      But dinna gang a-drinkin, Watty."'"

"Bravo, Scotchy!" shouted one. "Your health and song, Mr Brown," cried
another. Adam's head began to swim--the lights danced before his
eyes--he fell from his chair. One of his friends called a hackney-coach;
and, half insensible of where he was, he was conveyed to his lodgings.
It was afternoon on the following day before he appeared at the
counting-house, and his eyes were red, and he had the languid look of
one who had spent a night in revelry. That night he was again prevailed
upon to accompany his brother clerks to the club-room, "just," as they
expressed it, "to have one bottle to put all right." That night he again
heard the words--"_We'll have another_," and again he yielded to their

But we will not follow him through the steps and through the snares by
which he departed from virtue, and became entangled in vice. He became
an almost nightly frequenter of the tavern, the theatre, or both, and
his habits opened up temptations to grosser viciousness. Still he kept
up a correspondence with Mary Douglas, the gentle object of his young
affections, and, for a time, her endeared remembrance haunted him like a
protecting angel, whispering in his ear, and saving him from depravity.
But his religious principles were already forgotten; and, when that cord
was snapped asunder, the fibre of affection that twined around his heart
did not long hold him in the path of virtue. As the influence of company
grew upon him, her remembrance lost its power, and Adam Brown plunged
headlong into all the pleasures and temptations of the metropolis.

Still he was attentive to business--he still retained the confidence of
his employer--his salary was liberal--he still sent thirty pounds a-year
to his mother; and Mary Douglas yet held a place in his heart, though he
was changed--fatally changed. He had been about four years in his
situation, when he obtained leave for a few weeks to visit his native
village. It was on a summer afternoon, when a chaise from Jedburgh drove
up to the door of the only public-house in the village. A
fashionably-dressed young man alighted, and, in an affected voice,
desired the landlord to send a _porter_ with his luggage to Mrs Brown's.
"A porter, sir?" said the innkeeper--"there's naething o' the kind in
the toun; but I'll get twa callants to tak it alang."

He hastened to his mother's. "Ah! how d'ye do?" said he, slightly
shaking the hands of his younger brothers; but a tear gathered in his
eye as his mother kissed his cheek. She, good soul, when the first
surprise was over, said "she hardly kenned her bairn in sic a fine
gentleman." He proceeded to the manse, and Mary marvelled at the change
in his appearance and his manner; yet she loved him not the less: but
her father beheld the affectation and levity of his young friend, and
grieved over them.

He had not been a month in the village when Mary gave him her hand, and
they set out for London together. For a few weeks after their arrival,
he spent his evenings at their own fireside, and they were blessed in
the society of each other. But it was not long until company again
spread its seductive snares around him. Again he listened to the
words--"_We'll have another_"--again he yielded to their temptation, and
again the _force of habit_ made him its slave. Night followed night, and
he was irritable and unhappy, unless in the midst of his boon
companions. Poor Mary felt the bitterness and anguish of a deserted
wife; but she upbraided him not--she spoke not of her sorrows. Health
forsook her cheeks, and gladness had fled from her spirit; yet as she
nightly sat hour after hour waiting his return, as he entered, she
welcomed him with a smile, which not unfrequently was met with an
imprecation or a frown. They had been married about two years. Mary was
a mother, and oft at midnight she would sit weeping over the cradle of
her child, mourning in secret for its thoughtless father.

It was her birth-day, her father had come to London to visit them; she
had not told him of her sorrows, and she had invited a few friends to
dine with them. They had assembled; but Adam was still absent. He had
been unkind to her; but this was an unkindness she did not expect from
him. They were yet waiting, when a police-officer entered. His errand
was soon told. Adam Brown had become a gambler, as well as a
drunkard--he had been guilty of fraud and embezzlement--his guilt had
been discovered, and the police were in quest of him. Mr Douglas wrung
his hands and groaned. Mary bore the dreadful blow with more than human
fortitude. She uttered no scream--she shed no tears; for a moment she
sat motionless--speechless. It was the dumbness of agony. With her child
at her breast, and in the midst of her guests, she flung herself at her
father's feet. "Father!" she exclaimed, "for my sake!--for my helpless
child's sake--save! oh, save my poor husband!"

"For your sake, what I can do I will do, dearest," groaned the old man.

A coach was ordered to the door, and the miserable wife and her father
hastened to the office of her husband's employer.

When Adam Brown received intelligence that his guilt was discovered from
a companion, he was carousing with others in a low gambling-house.
Horror seized him, and he hurried from the room; but he returned in a
few minutes. "_We'll have another_!" he exclaimed, in atone of frenzy;
and another was brought. He half-filled a glass--he raised it to his
lips--he dashed into it a deadly poison, and, ere they could stay his
hand, the fatal draught was swallowed. He had purchased a quantity of
arsenic when he rushed from the house.

His fellow-gamblers were thronging around him, when his injured wife and
her grey-haired father entered the room. "Away, tormentors!" he
exclaimed, as his glazed eyes fell upon them, and he dashed his hand
before his face.

"My husband! my dear husband!" cried Mary, flinging her arms around his
neck; "look on me--speak to me! All is well!"

He gazed on her face--he grasped her hand. "Mary--my injured Mary!" he
exclaimed, convulsively, "can _you_ forgive me--_you_--_you_? O God! I
was once innocent! Forgive me, dearest!--for our child's sake, curse not
its guilty father!"

"Husband!--Adam!" she cried, wringing his hand--"come with me, love,
come--leave this horrid place--you have nothing to fear--your debt is

"Paid!" he exclaimed, wildly. "Ha! ha! Paid!"

They were his last words. Convulsions came upon him; the film of death
passed over his eyes, and his troubled spirit fled.

She clung round his neck--she yet cried, "Speak to me!"--she refused to
believe that he was dead, and her reason seemed to have fled with his

She was taken from his body and conveyed home. The agony of grief
subsided into a stupor approaching imbecility. She was unconscious of
all around; and within three weeks from the death of her husband, the
broken spirit of Mary Douglas found rest, and her father returned in
sorrow with her helpless orphan to Teviotdale.


It was upon one of those clear, chill, but not unpleasant days, that so
often occur towards the latter end of November, that an aged female, and
one much younger, in all the bloom of maiden beauty, overcast by a
tender shade of melancholy, that gave tenfold interest to her lovely
countenance, and mellowed the lustre of her dark hazel eyes, were seen
sitting at the door of a cottage on the banks of one of the tributaries
of the silver Tweed. The full round orb of the sun was sinking slowly
behind a huge bank of clouds, tinged by his departing rays, that
lingered as if regretting his short career, and loth to depart. The deep
shades of twilight closed quickly upon the scene; but the females sat
engaged at their work, as if it had been an eve of autumn. Margaret
Blair, the more aged of the two, sat gazing in one direction with
unwearied assiduity, only occasionally looking at the progress she made
at the stocking she was busy knitting; and Jeanie Aitken, the younger,
bent her steadfast gaze at intervals in the same direction, towards the
road that skirted the foot of the neighbouring hills. Heavy clouds began
to rise in the east; the wind had changed towards that quarter, and
howled mournfully along the waste.

"Jeanie, my dear," said Margaret, "Jamie has gotten a fine day to travel
in. Do you see no appearance o' him yet? Your young een are far clearer
than mine. These heavy clouds mak me fear for the nicht. I am sure he
might hae been here lang before this time, if his heart yearned as
mickle to see me as mine does to see him. I trust that naething has
happened to him on the road. Many a danger has he passed through in the
wars. It would be an awfu thing were ony misfortune to happen him when
he is sae near hame. God has preserved him in the battlefield; and oh, I
trust and pray He will still be his guide! Do you no see ony signs o'
him yet? The nicht will soon be on, and I fear it will be a stormy ane."

A deep sigh escaped from Jeanie as she answered, "Oh no; I see no one on
the road. Dear mother, retire into the house--you must be very cold--I
will watch yet a little. I hope he will soon be here, and then we will
be so happy when we meet." The tears that filled her eyes, and the
trembling accents in which she spoke, betrayed a heart ill at ease.

It was at this period I arrived at the cottage, in hopes of seeing my
old schoolfellow; for a letter had been received a few days before, in
which he informed his mother and Jean that he would be with them this
day, as he had received his discharge.

Jeanie and James had long loved each other; they were cousins, and had
been brought up together; but he had enlisted in anger, and forsaken
her. With all his faults, she had never ceased to love him; and, from
the day he went off to join his regiment, for six long years they had
never heard of him. About three months after the battle of Victoria, the
carrier to the town of Dunse brought them two letters as he passed--one
for Margaret Blair, the other for Jeanie Aitken. They were from James. I
was shown both the letters, which will unfold the previous history of my
friends, and the feelings of the reformed son better than I can, and
introduce the Veteran in a more favourable light than I have as yet been
enabled to do.


     "DEAREST MOTHER,--My folly has at length fallen upon my own
     head, and heavy is the load I will bear until I receive an
     answer to this, containing your forgiveness for my wicked
     neglect of your counsels, and despising the instructions of my
     worthy father--the result of all which has been my giving
     myself so much to evil company, and deserting you in your old
     age. But, dear mother, I am now an altered man. On the dark and
     cheerless guard, at the dead hour of the night, my conscience
     often awoke, and rendered me almost desperate--when sinking
     under fatigue, hunger, and thirst, on the long and toilsome
     march, it has given a keener edge to my sufferings; still I
     warred against the better feelings that arose in my breast--for
     I was still wayward and proud; but now, lingering under my
     wounds, I humble myself in the dust, before that God I so long
     neglected, who alone speaks peace to my humbled spirit! Be not
     alarmed at the mention of my wounds. I am now out of danger,
     and will be enabled to join my regiment in a few weeks--would
     it were to join your peaceful fireside. But, though I am
     unworthy to obtain yet for a time this my earnest prayer, I
     feel assured I shall yet be spared to comfort your declining
     years. And that every blessing may be yours until then, is the
     prayer of your now repentant and loving son,


     "P.S.--Is cousin Jeanie still unmarried? Does she reside still
     near you? I hope she is still unchanged, unreasonable that I
     am. If she is, give her the letter; if not, burn it. The scenes
     and feelings I enjoyed before I left your roof are dearer and
     stronger here in Spain than I can express, or you imagine. I do
     not request you to write soon--it would be unjust and unkind to
     doubt it for a moment. Again, I am your now altered and dutiful
     son until death.

     "J. B."

The letter to Jeanie was received with a trembling hand, and placed in
her bosom, that felt it impart a buoyancy to her feelings, she had been
long a stranger to. As soon as she had finished reading the letter to
Margaret, she retired to a beautiful knowe that overtopped the burn, and
seated herself among the long yellow broom, where the most pleasant of
her days had passed with her James. There they had herded together;
there they had first plighted their young loves; and there James had
left her in anger, without hope of ever returning to her again. On this
loved spot, every moment she could spare had been passed, musing upon
her absent lover, or praying for his safety and return; and now, with a
feeling of pleasure she had been long a stranger to, she drew the
letter from her bosom, and broke it open, while joy and grief filled her
heart by turns.


     ever think of me? I fear, if you do, it is with anger and
     contempt; for I feel, and my heart is like to burst with the
     thought, that I have used you ill. Believe me, it was in anger
     at I knew not what. You, with the prudence I now esteem you
     for, refused to fulfil your promise of marriage, because I had
     given myself too much up to company--to my shame I own, to
     dissipation. Believe me, my love, I now feel, in all its
     bitterness, my folly, and your wisdom. I am no longer the
     'roaring boy' I used to boast myself among my associates; but
     the humbled lover and son. The privations and toils of war have
     opened my eyes to my true interests. For a time I was the most
     reckless in our company; for I strove, by riot, to drive from
     my mind the upbraidings of my heart; but I strove in vain. The
     early lessons I had received in rectitude embittered all my
     guilty joys, and at length triumphed. Let me pour into your
     bosom the history of my reformation. It was on the eve of the
     battle of Fuentes de Honore the first serious reflection came
     over my mind. The whole after part of the day I had been
     engaged in the work of death, with all my energies aiding in
     the destruction of my species, my mind excited to the utmost.
     Thrice we had driven the enemy through the village before us,
     over the dead and wounded. My comrades were falling thick
     around me. Evening came to stop the work of death. My bosom
     friend, the companion of my follies, had fallen, early in the
     action, at the foot of the brae, by the burn-side. I remember
     the spot well. O Jeanie, how could I forget it? It was so like
     the spot where we last parted--where the most innocent and
     happiest of my hours had been spent--that, even in the hottest
     of the fire, the resemblance strung my arm, and fired my soul
     to double daring. I could not endure that an enemy should be in
     possession of it, and drive us from the sacred ground. I
     rejoiced that I was put on duty, to bury the dead and remove
     the wounded. I hurried to the spot where my friend had fallen,
     to assist him if alive, or to pay the last duty if dead. Alas!
     Jeanie, what a sight there met my eyes! He lay, adding to the
     pile of bleeding bodies, that, only a few hours before, were
     all in life and health. Silent and sad, we dug a trench, and
     deposited the victims of war. The French parties were out on
     the same duty; we mixed friendly together, only enemies by a
     cruel necessity, and, like dogs, brought out to fight for the
     interest or amusement of others. Several of them could speak a
     little English. We drank and ate together. They had plenty; we
     were at this time almost famished, being in advance of our
     supplies. Fear, my love, you know, is no part of my nature; but
     the uncertainty of human life as a soldier had never struck my
     mind with so much force as now. I returned an altered man. I
     felt as if we were never to meet again, and I never should
     reach my native vale, to lay my mother's head in the grave. I
     own, with shame, I had until now striven to forget you, but
     could not; for, sleeping or waking, you were ever in my
     thoughts, night after night you were present in my dreams, and
     day found me almost distracted. Dissipation only brought
     greater anguish; yet my proud heart would not stoop to
     communicate its woes to those who alone could give relief.
     Every draught that joined I anxiously looked for an
     acquaintance from my native place; and I would have given a
     kingdom for the knowledge that you were still free. I knew your
     faithful nature; but I had basely deserted you; wounded that
     heart I ought to have cherished, because it would act contrary
     to the dictates of a desecrating advice, that would have ruined
     us both. At length the battle of Victoria was fought; in which
     action I was wounded in the thigh; but still I kept the ranks.
     We were sorely pressed by the enemy; but nature could support
     me no longer, and I sank to the ground, as our regiment was
     forced to retire, overpowered by superior numbers. A charge of
     cavalry passed over the ground where I lay; and, O Jeanie! what
     horror did I feel at this moment! I commended my soul to
     God--my mother's and your name escaped from my lips--the horses
     passed over me--and when, from a swoon, I awoke to
     consciousness, the surgeons were setting the bone of my leg,
     and a bandage was already upon my wound in the thigh. I will
     not pain you more. I am now almost well, and often amuse myself
     with the thought that, were you to see the pale and emaciated
     soldier upon his crutches, you would look in vain for Jamie
     Blair. But be cheerful, my love; for the surgeon says I will be
     as sound a man as ever, and join my regiment in a few weeks.
     How much better were it to join you and my mother! But the time
     will come in course, and I hope soon. If pity ever found a
     place in your bosom, send me your forgiveness; and, if you can
     send me the assurance that, in spite of all my follies, you
     love me dear as ever, I will now do all in my power to be
     worthy of it. If you refuse to pardon me, you will drive me to
     despair, and I shall volunteer for every forlorn hope, and rush
     upon danger, until death relieve me from my present state of
     mind. Return me, my love, good for evil, and give peace to that
     heart that wounded yours. Remembered or forgot, dearest Jean, I
     shall ever remain yours until death,


On the evening of the day after the receipt of these letters, when I
made my usual call, I was astonished at the change that had taken place
in the widow's cottage. The sadness had passed from the brow of Jean,
and hope had given a new lustre to her eye. Margaret was all garrulity,
and loud in the praises of James; but Jean was silent, and seemed to
luxuriate in the present feelings with which her soul was filled. I
departed myself with a feeling of happiness at the welcome news from my
old schoolfellow, and walked home more stately and erect, as if my
consequence had been enhanced by my friendship and intimacy with one of
Wellington's heroes; and crooned, with peculiar spirit and satisfaction,
as I walked along, "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled."

It would be superfluous to say that Jeanie returned such an answer as
James might wish. Joy once more became an inmate of Widow Blair's
cottage, and thanksgivings were now mingled in their prayers for the
absent soldier. The correspondence was as regular as the vicissitudes of
war would permit; and often, when I had occasion to go to town, I was
intrusted with the letter and penny to lodge in the post-office for
James Blair. Month after month rolled on; peace was at length concluded;
the troops were returning to Britain; and James, being a seven-years'
man, and his period of service nearly expired, we could calculate to a
day the time we expected to have him once more among us. But for a time
we were disappointed. In no home in Britain did the return of Bonaparte
from Elba cause greater sorrow than in the widow's cottage. James was
once more embarked for the Continent with his regiment--was present at
the battle of Waterloo--escaped the dreadful carnage unhurt--and marched
with the army for Paris, where he got his discharge, and was on his
return at the commencement of this narrative.

The shades of evening had forced the females to retire, benumbed with
cold, long before my accustomed visit. I was grieved and disappointed at
not finding James, and sorry to see the anxiety and grief of the mother
and sweetheart. The clouds had now covered the whole sky; the darkness
was intense; the wind blew with a piercing keenness, and snow had begun
to fall fast, and drift along the waste. I gave them all the comfort I
could, and retired, promising to call again in the morning--having in
vain urged them to retire to rest; and, upon my return next day, I
learned that, after my departure, they continued to watch--going
repeatedly out to examine the state of the weather, or beguiled by the
shaking of the door struck by the blast, and thinking some one tried the
latch. Still no one came--hour after hour passed on--their humble supper
stood untouched--the fears of the mother were expressed in wailings and
ejaculatory prayers for his safety; and Jeanie's expressive countenance
betrayed the anxiety under which she laboured. Their evening devotions
were made with pious hope--their usual hour of retiring to rest had long
gone by; yet neither thought of sleep--for all that was most dear on
earth to them was, they feared, exposed to the pitiless storm, and they
still sat by the fire, shrinking at every gust of wind, as if it had
struck themselves, while the candle burned on the window-sill, a beacon
to guide the wanderer. At length the door opened, and a thin,
weather-beaten figure staggered in, and sank upon the floor, exhausted
and senseless. The anticipated joyful meeting was one of anguish and
alarm. Care and assiduity restored the soldier to warmth and animation;
and hope and joy succeeded to fear and grief. James had come from London
to Leith in one of the smacks; and, after leaving Haddington, anxious to
reach his mother's as soon as possible, had left the highway, and struck
into the country, over the Lammermuir Hills, by a route dear and
familiar to him; and, being some miles shorter, chosen as much for the
sake of former recollections, which were crowding upon him at every
step, as for its shortness. The day was clear and bracing when he left
Haddington, and all induced him to follow this route; but he had
miscalculated his strength, and the shades of evening overtook him in
the middle of the mountains. The sky began to lour, and threatened a
storm. Ere he had reached the heights, the snow fell fast, the wind and
drift threatened to overwhelm him, and all around became one
undistinguishable chaos. He could recognise no mark by which to know
whether he was in the right track or not. Confused and bewildered, but
not dismayed, he stood still for a few minutes, to collect his energies;
and having recalled to his recollection that the wind blew from the
direction in which he wished to proceed, he started afresh, and battled
with the storm, till at length he recognised a well-remembered cairn on
the heights, against which he stumbled, and of which he gained his
knowledge only by groping; for it was so dark that he could not see his
own hand a few inches from his face. Having felt it round and round, he
came to the broad, flat stone on the southern side, the shepherd's dial,
which gave a thrill of hope to his breast, like a glimpse of the polar
star to the tempest-tossed mariner. Starting anew, and still keeping his
face to the biting blast, again he stumbled upon a cairn, and felt it
round and round; and, to his surprise and regret, found it to be the
same. Disappointed and confused, he started afresh--twice he struggled
round the same circle upon the heights, each time adding to the
despondency that began to steal upon him, till, exhausted and almost
hopeless, he threw himself on the lee side of the cairn, to recover his
strength. He thought some strange fatality attended him; yet was loth to
yield to despair, and struggled manfully against it; but a languor came
over him, attended by an almost irresistible drowsiness; and all he had
suffered in the retreat to Corunna could not be compared to his present
situation. There, companionship had lightened the most intense
sufferings; severe as they often were, they were not, as now, without
that aid which sustains men in the most trying cases--the countenance of
their fellow-men. Here he was alone, in a sea of snow, within a few
miles of his mother's door!--the thought was bitterness unutterable,
such as he had never felt before. Death he had often braved in all his
forms--in the battlefield he had gazed upon him in the pomp and tumult
of war, when the excited mind unheeded his presence; but here he seemed
to hold his victim in suspense, until his very presence might produce
the parting of soul and body from very fear of him. He struggled to
rise, and combat the feelings that he knew must prove fatal to him; but
his limbs were stiff, and would not obey his will, and he commended his
soul to his Creator, and resigned himself to his fate. His mind became
more calm, his thoughts less confused; and, as he lay musing, it
occurred to him that he had erred in taking the wind for his compass,
for perhaps it blew round the top of the hill (as it did), and was the
cause of his always returning to the same spot. The idea occurred to
him, that, if he had held straight on until he came to a running water,
and followed its course, it would have guided him to some mill or
cottage. This acted upon his mind like an electric spark, his heart
warmed, and his limbs resumed, under the inspiration of hope that once
more came to his aid, their former energy. Onwards he urged his way,
stumbling, at every few paces, over the unequal ground; and, with
severe labour, he cleared the hills, and anxiously listened for the
sound of running water; but the howling of the blast deadened every
sound; and he still urged his way, dragging his weary limbs after him,
till a faint rushing was heard, and a black chasm appeared at his feet,
over which he must have fallen on the next step. He returned thanks to
God for his preservation. The chasm was the well-remembered linn, only a
few hundred yards from his mother's cottage; and he had thought, more
than once, he had distinguished a faint light in the gloom, at times
distinct, then vanishing again, but now easily made out. His heart
leaped for joy, for he knew it proceeded from his mother's
cottage-window. He kept the burn-side, and proceeded straight to the
house; but his energies were entirely spent. He reached it, lifted the
latch, and remembered no more until he found his mother and Jeanie
hanging over him and chafing his benumbed limbs. After a night's repose,
the hardy veteran had risen full of vigour, as if the last night's
escape from death had been only a dream. I could perceive melancholy
reflections mixed with the joy he felt at finding all well at his
return; but he said to me, with much bitterness,

"Eight years I have spent, of the prime of my life, in the service of my
country; a few shillings, the remainder of my marching-money, is all I
possess in the world; and I have returned to my mother's house, a poorer
man, in every respect, than I left it."

A cloud passed over his brow--a sigh escaped--his altered look Jeanie
watched with pain. She spoke not, but the sigh fell on his mother's ear.
She grasped his hand, and, pressing it to her bosom,

"Jamie," said she, "my bairn, why do ye sigh on this blessed day? Are ye
vexed that ye hae come back to yer auld mither and Jeanie?"

"I am not, mother," replied he; "indeed; I am not; but a few painful
recollections steal over my mind; and the consciousness that I am alone
the cause adds to their bitterness. Jennie, I am at home, and find you
all I could wish; but complete happiness is yet at a distance. We cannot
be united until I have recovered, by care and industry, what I have lost
by my unprofitable absence."

Jeanie blushed, and hung down her head; her breast seemed too narrow to
contain the feelings that rose in it; but his mother hastily interfered.

"Jamie," said she, "ye maunna tak that view o' yer situation. This
cottage, and a' that is in it, is yer ain. Ye'll no begrudge me my room
in it for a' my time; and yer cousin has saved some pounds for this
happy meeting, and winna put ye aff as she ance did before--for now
she's satisfied ye're an altered man. What say ye, lassie? Am I richt?"

Jeanie spoke not; but her looks showed her approval; and the happy pair
sat gazing at him as if they feared he was soon about to leave them, and
they could not look enough. I began to speak of the scenes he had
witnessed in Spain, when his mother inquired what he considered his most
unlooked-for escape.

"Indeed, mother," he replied, "it is hard to say; but I think it was at
the storming of Badajos, before my better feelings had returned to me. I
was then reckless of everything; and, being in the grenadier company, I
volunteered for the forlorn hope. I had been before on the same duty,
and knew it was as well to volunteer as to be commanded, for the duty
must be done, and volunteering has a more soldier-like sound; so we who
were to form the party immediately sold everything we possessed, and
drank it with our comrades. This was the practice of many, for we knew
what we had to do as soon as it was dark; and, if we escaped death, we
might look upon it as a miracle; and thus were determined to enjoy life
while we had it. This is a soldiers philosophy: enjoy all you have in
your power; for what you leave after you fall you know not who will
enjoy. I have eaten the last morsel of bread in my haversack going into
action, and my comrades did the same, lest we might fall and another eat
it. As soon as the hour arrived, we were at our post and formed, then
marched on in dead silence towards the breach, headed by a captain and a
lieutenant. I was on the right, and heard the lieutenant sob once or
twice. The captain turned to him and said, in an under voice--

"'Return, if you are afraid.'

"'No,' replied the lieutenant, in a firm voice, though not much louder
than a whisper, 'I am not afraid. I fear not danger, but will face it
with any man in the British army; but, good God! my mother and

A dreadful crash stunned me--a mine had been sprung, and we were all
scattered in different directions, the greater part mangled and dead.
When I recovered my recollection, I was sweltering in the ditch of the
place, almost suffocated, and sinking. I was sorely bruised and
bewildered; and, led more by instinct than reason--for I was incapable
of thinking--I struggled to get at some support; and fortunately got
hold of some willow twigs that were growing in the side of the ditch,
and clung to them, while my faculties gradually came to me, and I felt
in all its force the horrors of my situation. The noise was louder than
thunder; the shot was entering the banks, and plunging into the water
around me like a hail-storm, while splinters of shells were flying past
in every direction. I was at one moment covered with water, and the next
with mud and earth, torn by the shot from the side of the ditch. The
whistling of the balls, the shouts of the men, the volleys of musketry,
and deafening roar of the guns, and constant flashes of light that shot
fearfully across the darkness of the scene, rendered my mind a chaos of
confusion. I felt not what could be called fear; I had, in vain, more
than once tried to extricate myself from my horrible situation. A
callous, regardless feeling was upon me; and I passed the tedious hours
in a kind of stupor, much resembling a fearful nightmare. I felt fully
the desperate situation I was in, and my utter inability to relieve
myself; but there was no use of making it worse than it was by
fretting--and morning at length came. The firing had for a long time
ceased; and I was dragged out more dead than alive, benumbed and
bruised. Most of the volunteers had perished, and along with them the
lieutenant, for whom I felt more regret than for any officer I had ever
known to fall in the field of war. I often thought how much more
commendable his feelings were than my own; for I had never even thought
of you until I returned once more safe to the camp, and coolly turned
over in my mind the whole occurrences of this fearful night. My
conscience, I own, did upbraid me; but I soon shook off the uneasy

Jeanie heard the recital with a thrill of horror; and, while tears were
falling fast--

"O Jamie!" said she, "little did we imagine the half of the dangers you
were exposed to, or the misery you must have endured."

"We had sufferings," replied he, "enough and to spare; but we had also
our enjoyments, with a relish no one at home, in the calm of domestic
life, can have the most distant conception of. The soldier's life, in an
enemy's country, is made up of extremes, either of hardship or
enjoyment. When the toilsome march is over, how sound and sweetly he
sleeps, even on the hard, bare ground, under the canopy of heaven! But,
if his billet be good, he is the happiest of mortals--words cannot
express his pleasures. After a rapid pursuit of the enemy, such as we
had after the French to Victoria, when we were far in advance of our
commissariat, and our stomachs were keen, sweet, sweet was our dry hard
beef, so hard and black from overdriving, we were forced to bruise it
between two stones, before our eager teeth could masticate it. Victuals
and drink were all we coveted, and we were not over scrupulous how we
came by them. We were quartered in Alcantara for a winter, after a
summer of privations, and we lived like kings. Four of us were quartered
upon one house; our rations were regularly served; and we had abundance
and to spare. In Spain, almost every family has a barrel of olive oil
for a supply during the winter; for they cook a great many victuals with
it. We had become as fond of it as the natives. I recollect that our
host had two large barrels filled behind the door; and complaints having
being made by the inhabitants, every day, of the depredations committed
upon their oil by the soldiers, our host was as jealous as the rest,
examined his store night and morning, and gave us the greatest character
for honesty. But little did he know whom he praised; for we were no
better than the rest--only more cunning; and it was fortunate for us
when the route came, for I am sure there was not the depth of a finger
of oil in one of the barrels, we having had the precaution to put in as
much water as we drew oil, to save appearances."

"Jamie, Jamie," said Margaret, "ye were sair left. Oh, man, did ye steal
frae the poor folk in that gate?"

"Indeed, mother," replied he, "we did not think we stole when provisions
were in the case. The Spaniards, no doubt, said we were only better than
the French in this respect; for the French took openly whatever they
chose, and abused them to boot; we only stole provisions, when
unobserved, and always gave them fair words for what we took, whether
detected or not. Perhaps they were indebted to Wellington and the
provost-marshal for this; for I assure you there was no mercy for us
when detected. There were two brothers hanged upon the same tree, just
before the battle of Victoria, for being detected in taking a little
flour when we were in great want. I recollect we marched past them."

"Oh, Jamie," said the mother, "ye've seen strange sichts."

"Ay, and heard strange things, too," replied he. "I will tell you what I
heard from a German, one of the legion, who had been severely wounded,
and lay next my berth in the hospital:--He had served in a regiment of
Swiss in the pay of Great Britain, which had been raised to stop the
progress of the French, in the early part of the revolutionary war, and
had been with it in Italy and Corsica. They had been hurried, by forced
marches, from Constance to Rome, in the depth of a severe winter, and
suffered much. The French were in such superior numbers, that they were
forced to fly before them until they were joined by the British under
General Stewart, when they made a successful stand for some time, and
had a great deal of hard fighting. It was during one of these checks,
after a severe action, that they lay for some weeks in an old castle,
which they had fortified in the best manner they could. The French lay
in front, in great force, their foraging parties scouring the country,
and cutting off their supplies; so that they were reduced to the most
extreme want of provisions, and suffered sadly from the severity of the
weather. The cold was most intense; snow or sleet fell almost every day;
while firing was not to be had. Their clothing almost worn out, great
numbers were barefooted. Under such circumstances, it was with
difficulty that human nature could bear up under its sufferings. The men
became desperate, and numbers were falling sick, and dying every day. In
the midst of these horrors, urged by extreme misery, three Germans
conceived an idea the most repugnant to human nature that can be
conceived by man, and put it in execution. One evening they were seen in
deep consultation by their comrades, and, towards the middle of the
night, they stole down to one of the vaults, of which there were many
under the castle, and earnestly and fearlessly invoked the devil to come
to them, and enter into an agreement upon any terms he chose. All they
would stipulate for was to be delivered from their present misery; but
they called in vain--no devil or other appearance could they perceive,
although they remained calling upon him for a long time. At length they
left the vault, much disappointed at their failure. It was remarked by
all the regiment--for they told what they had been about--that none of
the three survived any length of time after this, and all died by
uncommon modes. The first that fell was Gualter Stulzer. That very night
he awoke in his sleep, and, starting to his feet, shouted out, at the
loudest pitch of his voice, in a manner that awoke all in the hall, and
made us tremble--'Ho! ho! you are come at length--I am your man; take me
anywhere, only take me hence;' and fell upon his face. When the day
broke, we found him quite dead. We thought he had been in a dream. Not
one of us could have risen to assist him, had we thought he was not, for
all was dark, and we thought the evil one was present in the room. The
two others, who were not in the same part of the building, we had no
doubt were in the same state, until we saw them alive and well in the
morning. A few days after this melancholy event, another of them was
found dead at his post, with horror most strongly expressed on his
countenance. The third survived only till we reached Corsica, where he
was hanged for a cruel murder, a short time after our landing. And thus
perished these three desperate men--the only instance really authentic
of the kind I ever heard of in all my life."

"His presence," said Margaret, "be aboot us a', to keep us frae evil! Ye
hae made my flesh creep on my banes. Surely, my bairn, they must hae
been Pagans. We read, in the blessed Word, that Esau sold his birthright
for a mess o' potage. But men to gang and offer to sell their sauls to
the evil one? Ohon! Ohon!"

"No one can say," replied James, "what he will or will not do, until the
hour of trial is past. These Germans gave implicit belief to stories of
diablerie and witchcraft, and hoped to be relieved from their sufferings
by becoming warlocks. You yourself are not free from the belief that
such things have been."

"I maun first doubt my Bible, Jamie," said she, "ere I doubt ony sic
thing. Hae we no a commandment against witchcraft, and a pattern o' what
they were in the Witch o' Endor? Hae I no kent folk that werena canny
mysel? I only wonder he camna at their ca', to seal the bargain wi'
them. I may say I ken o' nane at present that has a very ill name; but,
when I was a young lass, Ellen Græme was feared owre a' the kintry side
for her unholy power, after she witched Bauldy Scott, the minister's
man, for something he had either said or done to her. She had a bauld
and bitter tongue in her head; and, after giein him ill names until she
was tired, she spat at him, and ended wi' saying--'Bauldy Scott, mind my
words!--ye'll rue, ere lang, meddling wi' me.' Bauldy only leuch at her;
but didna feel owre easy, for a' that. Aweel, a day or twa after the
collyshangie wi' Ellen, he had to gang to Hawick, on some business about
a web he had been weavin for the bailie's wife. A' went weel aneugh
until he was comin hame in the evenin, whan, just as he was in the
middle o' the hills--for he took the shortest cut hame--he met wi' a
muckle black tyke o' a dog, that looked hard and sair at him, and
followed, whether he wad or no. He feared to clod it; for it was an
unsonsy like beast, and he had a druther that it wasna a canny creature.
Bauldy took fervently to prayer and psalm-singin, and the dog soon left
him; but he was nae sooner out o' sicht, than there cam on sic a mist
that he fairly tint his gate, and wandered he knew not where, until wi'
perfect fatigue he sat down on a stane. The nicht was closin in fast
upon him, and he kendna whither he had dandered nearer or farther frae
hame. There he sat, whiles prayin, whiles thinkin on his wife and weans,
but oftener o' Ellen Græme and her threat, and the awesome black dog he
had met. He was like to gang demented. The time hung sae dreich on his
hand, he thocht the world was standin still. He daredna open his een,
for fear he might be scared by some awesome sicht. So still was all
around him, that the very beatin o' his ain heart sounded in his lugs
like a death-watch. This grave-like calm and stillness became to him
waur than any noise could hae been; and, to mak a lang tale short, there
he sat on the stane till the grey o' the mornin. And whar was't, do ye
think, he had been sittin the lee-lang nicht? No a hunder yards frae his
ain door, on the big stane that stans by the kirk-stile, at the self and
same spot where Ellen Græme had threatened him! That he had been
bewitched, few in the parish doubted; and he himself believed, until the
day o' his death, that he had seen the evil one in the form o' the black
dog, who, being forced to flee by the force o' his prayers, had raised
the mist to bewilder and prevent his gettin hame. He made a lang
complaint to the minister against Ellen; but he wadna tak it up, and
only laughed at Bauldy, and said, 'Are ye sure ye didna pree owre deep
o' the yill in Hawick, Bauldy?' Now, this was warst o' a'; for, puir
man, he had baith the skaith and the scorn; but few thocht waur o' the
minister for no takin up Bauldy's case."

"It may be as you say, mother," said James--"I never thought seriously
on the subject; but this I know--I never felt so comfortable, when
sentinel upon a lonely outpost, as I did in garrison or in camp. I
remember once, while we lay in the valley of Roncesvalles, a short time
before we entered France, I was on duty upon an outpost, with the enemy
in front. I had almost made a fool of myself by giving a false alarm. I
never was so much out of sorts in my life with real terror; I shook
like a dog in a wet sack. My station was an old building, a complete
ruin, without roof, and not more than six feet of wall standing in any
part of it; so that, with a glance of my eye, I could examine recesses
of the interior. My turn came at twelve o'clock. The orders were to
allow no one to advance without the word and countersign; and if any
movement was perceived in the enemy's lines, to fire off my piece, and
fall back upon the mainguard. I had been upon my station for about
half-an-hour, or better, musing upon various things--but Jeanie and you
were ever uppermost in my thoughts. Suddenly a strange sound fell upon
my ear. I could not distinguish whether it was a sigh or a low moan. I
became all attention for a recurrence of the sound, and cocked my
musket. Never did the click fall so loud upon my ear. Thus I stood at
post, gazing, with eyes almost starting from their sockets, around me.
It did not occur again. While I stood thus, I began to recover, and
thought I had been deceived, uncocked my musket, and resumed my measured
pace, peering on every side, and searching with my eyes, as far as the
gloom of a starry night, without moonlight, would admit. I had not made
above a dozen turns upon my allotted bounds, when the same sounds fell
upon my ears, but much more distinct. It was a heavy groan, and appeared
to come from my right--not in the direction of the enemy's lines. Again
I cocked my musket. All was still as death after the groan. I stooped
towards the ground to listen, but could discern no foot-tread upon it,
or the smallest movement. I walked round the ruin, and examined it with
care; but all was still and void. I looked in the direction I thought
the sound had come from, when all at once there appeared to rise out of
the ground, at a short distance from me, a most uncouth figure. It had
the appearance of a monk in his cloak, with the hood up, and a pair of
horns upon his head. From the outline between me and the sky, so
appalling was the vision, that I clapped my musket to my shoulder, and
called, "Who goes there?" A heavy groan was the only reply, and the
whole disappeared into the ground as suddenly as it had risen out of it.
A cold sweat covered my whole body--my knees knocked against each other,
as I stood rooted to the spot. I would have fired, but had not the power
at first; and as I recovered, I was ashamed, as I knew my comrades would
laugh at me, and the officers give no credit to my story. I had not the
power to withdraw my eyes from the spot. Again I saw the same appearance
rise out of the ground, but with more fearful distinctness, and gaze
upon me, utter a groan, and again vanish. This was too much. I was
almost overcome, when I heard the tread of the relief advancing to
change guard. My nerves were in a moment strung to energy again by the
sound of the human voice. Although, in a whisper, I related what I had
witnessed to them, all were inclined to laugh, save he who was to take
my place. However, it was agreed to go to the spot I pointed out, and
examine it. When we reached the place, we found, behind some low bushes,
scarcely, in the dark, to be discerned from the ground, a wounded mule,
so weak that it could not rise from the ground upon its feet. At our
approach, it attempted to rise, but could only elevate its
fore-quarters, as it had been shot through the loins, and fell down
again with a groan. None of us laughed more heartily than I did at this
elucidation of the fearful vision. These outpost duties often occurred,
and we liked them worse than an action. So little did we dread fight,
that I have heard the men say seriously, when they had lost even so
trifling a necessary as a rosette, "I wish we may have an action soon,
that I may pick up one." In action, so cool and steady had we become,
that jests and remarks were made as freely, and even with more spirit
than on a parade or in the barrack-room. In an affair of outposts, the
sharpest I was ever in, and when the balls were whistling around us like
grasshoppers on a sunny bank, James Graham, my left-hand man, said--

"Blair, they have hit me at last, confound them! and broke some of my
ribs. I both heard and felt them crack like pipe-staples; but I will
have a shot or two while I can stand to them." After a few minutes, he
said, "They have hit me, but not cut me. There is no blood on my
trousers, yet my breast is confounded sore." He put his hand into a
pocket he had in the breast of his coat, and pulled out a favourite
knife, stamped on the ground in anger, and cried, "Oh, the French
blackguards! they have broken my knife, and I bought it in the High
Street of Edinburgh." And he resumed his fire, if possible, with
redoubled energy, taking as cool and deliberate an aim as if he had been
firing at a target for a prize in his native village.

In the same skirmish, James Paterson's bonnet fell over the wall which
we were lining, as he was taking out some cartridges to place them in
his breast. The enemy were in triple force not one hundred yards from
the other side.

"I shan't go bareheaded for all that," said he, and leaned his musket
against the wall, climbed over it, gathered up his ammunition as calmly
as if he had been in the barrack-yard, placed his bonnet on his head,
and leaped back unhurt. An aid-de-camp, who rode past at the time, cried
out to us--

"Well done, my brave men! They may march over your bodies, but they
cannot drive you back."

We gave him three cheers, and the enemy soon after fell back. But,
Jeanie, lassie, I fear you think I am boasting far too much of myself
and comrades. I would not speak to you of a soldier's life, were it not
that you, my friend, invite me to it; but I assure you that those parts
of it which are most dreaded by the people at home have in them great
interest, and serve to enliven the otherwise monotonous duties of a
campaign in an enemy's country, where our fatigues in marching and
countermarching are scarce bearable. If we found any fault with the
general, in our private conversation, it was, that we had not fighting
enough. Our opinion was, the hotter war, the sooner peace; and we always
felt a consciousness of being able to beat the enemy, if we were only
led on.

"O Jamie, my bairn!" said Margaret, "evil communications corrupt good
manners. I wadna hae believed, had onybody but yersel tauld me, yer
nature could hae changed sae muckle as to tak delight in sic a life. My
heart is sair to hear ye speak wi sae muckle relish o' sic bloody wark."

"Mother, you wrong me," replied the veteran. "I rejoice that there is
now no call for such doings. While I was in Spain, my heart was ever
here with you and Jeanie. I cannot help feeling my blood move quicker in
my veins when I recall these moments of intense excitement. It is all
the reward I shall ever have for my fatigues and wounds. We felt that we
fought in Spain to keep the battle from our own beloved homes; and the
scenes of rapine and desolation we witnessed there gave us double
energy; for the foe that ravaged the fields of Spain had long threatened
the land of our fathers, where all we held dear remained. A short time
before the siege of Burgos, a party of our regiment were sent as a
convoy to some stores. We halted at a village, where a foraging party of
the French had been only a few hours before. Every house was a scene of
ruin and blood. In one cottage that we entered, we found a beautiful
young female sitting upon the ground, weeping over the bodies of her
murdered father and brother, who had fallen defending her from the
violence of the French soldiers. As the evening was soon to be upon us,
we were halted until daybreak in the morning. Donald Ross, one of the
men in our company, was particularly struck with the charms of the
female, and, somehow, or other, became so intimate with her, that she
agreed to go with him as soon as she had buried her father and
brother--and she was as good as her word. Donald being a Roman Catholic,
they were married by a Spanish priest, and lived happy enough for some
time. While we lay at Abrantes, a party of Spanish guerillas came into
the town. All at once, Maritornes became very dull and uneasy. Donald,
at his coming home, often found her in tears; but she would not impart
to him the cause of her distress. Ross, who loved her with all his
heart, became himself uneasy upon her account. All at once she was
amissing, and no accounts of her could be had, although diligent search
was made for her. The guerillas were still in the neighbourhood of the
town; and Donald suspected that she had gone to some of them, and
resolved to go and make the necessary inquiries. On the morning of the
day he was to have gone, having got leave from his officer, her body was
found, stabbed to the heart, concealed in a thicket near the town. Poor
Donald wept over her like an infant, and, after becoming a little more
calm, swore a fearful vengeance on her murderer, should he ever meet
him, and to do all in his power to discover the cruel perpetrator. The
day following her interment, as he was indulging his grief for her loss,
and thinking of means to trace her destroyer, near the spot where her
body had been found, one of the guerillas started from behind a tree,
and thrust a knife at his bosom. Fortunately it struck his breastplate,
and glanced off. In a twinkling his bayonet was plunged to the socket in
the body of the assassin, and he fell, grinding his teeth in rage and
pain. Donald shouted for assistance, not to aid him in the strife--for
his enemy was now helpless, and to all appearance dead at his feet--but
to assist in bearing him into the town, as he had an impression on his
mind that this was the murderer of his beloved. Two of his comrades who
were in the neighbourhood came to his aid, bore the wounded man into
the town, and carried him to the hospital, where his wound, which proved
to be mortal, was dressed. Before his death, he confessed the murder of
Maritornes, and gave the following account of himself:--His father had
been a vine-dresser, whose vineyard joined that of the parents of
Maritornes, so that they had been brought up together from their
earliest childhood. After he came to man's estate, the beauty of
Maritornes had made a violent impression upon him; but, being of a wild
and unsettled turn of mind, her parents had disapproved of his
attentions to her; and she herself had never encouraged his addresses,
but had always appeared uneasy and fearful in his presence. He had tried
every method to win her affections in vain, and had been involved in
several quarrels upon her account with the other youths, one of whom he
had slain, and was forced to fly. The war breaking out soon after, he
had joined one of the guerilla parties, and had never seen or heard of
her since he left the village, until he found her the wife of a vile
heretic, as he thought. The sight was too much for him, and he resolved
to murder her; for, he said, the hope of at one time or other winning
her affections had never forsaken his mind until then; and he vowed the
death of her and her seducer, as he supposed Donald to be. She had seen
and recognised her tormentor, which had been the cause of her distress.
For several days he had tracked and watched her steps like a bloodhound,
until he accomplished his horrid purpose; and he showed not the least
contrition for the deed, but appeared to regret that he had not slain
Donald also. It was long before Donald ceased to regret the death of
Maritornes, or to think of her; but it was perhaps wisely ordered for
himself, for, after the battle of Bayonne was fought, and the peace
made, the troops left for England. None of the men were allowed to take
their Portuguese or Spanish wives out of the country along with them;
and there were several hundreds, who had followed the army and clung to
their husbands in all our privations, wherever we went. Poor things! my
heart bled for them. When the order came, it was one of the most
heartrending scenes to witness the distress of both parties--the despair
and wailings of the females, and the anguish of many of the
men--severals deserted, and all promised to return for these poor
creatures, as soon as it was in their power. Many are the disconsolate
females who still languish in their lonely homes, hoping in vain for the
return of husbands they shall never see again, and who, if alive, only
think of them now with indifference, or perhaps have heartlessly formed
new ties."

"O Jamie, Jamie," said Jeanie, "it is not possible, I learn frae
yoursel, to tell a pleasing tale o' war. They are all o' blood,
injustice, and violence. It gradually steels the heart to the best
feelings o' the human race, and does away wi' the sense o' right and
wrong by a false plea o' necessity. Surely man is never placed, but by
his ain evil passions, in a situation where it is necessary either to be
unjust or cruel."

"Let us forget, my love," said James, "that such things ever were, and
look forward in hope. I have, no doubt, the world once more to begin. I
am not yet an old man; and, if I am not rich in cash, I am richer in
experience than many others who have been at home, and shall, by the
blessing of God, do my endeavour to put to use my dear-purchased wisdom.
I shall then be more fortunate than poor Walter B---- and several others
I have known."

"Dear Jamie, tell us about Walter--what o' him?" said Margaret.

There were severals in the army (continued James) whom I knew as common
soldiers, that had been born to rank and riches--one in particular,
Walter B----. I will give you his lamentable story, as I had it from his
own mouth, in one of his fits of melancholy and repentance. We were on
the heights above Roncesvalles, and the weather was more boisterous
than I had ever seen it in my life anywhere; the gusts of wind blew down
our tents, and the hailstorms were so severe, that we were forced to
shelter ourselves from them by any means we could, and even the very
mules were scarce able to endure their severity. He had been in one of
his desponding fits for several days, and I had done all in my power to
amuse him in vain. Towards the shades of evening, we sat shivering and
cowering from the extreme cold, and, having given him an outline of my
own history, he in return gave me his, nearly as follows:--He was a
native of England, and a relative of some of the oldest families in it.
His father had been one of the established clergy, and held a rich
living, beloved and respected for his benevolence and piety. Walter, who
was an only son, had received as good an education as England could
afford; but, unfortunately for himself, he was of an unsettled and
extravagant disposition, and was always getting himself into
disagreeable situations, from which he was always relieved, after a show
of contrition, by his indulgent parent. Thus matters waxed worse and
worse with him, until he could not from very shame apply to his
forgiving father. He had lost a large sum of money at play in London,
and had no means of liquidating the debt. In an agony of shame and
remorse, he fled, and, having no means of maintaining himself, changed
his name, and enlisted as a private soldier. His distressed parent, for
several years, knew not whether he was dead or alive. Matters remained
thus with him until the arrival of a new chaplain to the regiment in
which he was serving. Shortly after the chaplain joined, he recognised
Walter, spoke to and reasoned with him in a truly Christian spirit, and
chide him for his cruelty to his parent, who continued to mourn his
loss, and would, he had no doubt, once more receive him to his bosom,
would he only promise to behave more circumspectly in future, and
express his sorrow for what he had done. Poor Walter was heartily sick
of his present situation, and requested the chaplain to write for him
what he chose, and, upon the receipt of an answer from his father, he
would do all in his power to regain his pardon and confidence. In a few
weeks after, Walter got his discharge, and returned to his father's
mansion, where he was received with joy and forgiveness. His parent only
appeared to have lived to be blessed in the return of his prodigal son;
for he died in about three months after his return. Walter was his sole
heir and was now rich, as he had been lately poor, while a private
soldier. For a few months, he was all that his relations could have
wished him--reserved and penitent for his former follies, and most
punctual in his religious duties. In this frame of mind he became
attached to a young lady, the daughter of a neighbouring squire, rather
his superior in rank and fortune. To her he was wed, and lived in
happiness and peace for some months, when unfortunately he paid a visit
to London with his young wife; and, as bad fortune would have it, he
once again launched out into all his former extravagance, and soon
became embarrassed in his circumstances. An unsuccessful bet at a
horse-race once more placed him in the same position he had been in at
his first enlistment: but his distress was tenfold greater, for his
young and innocent wife was now a partaker in his misery. He solemnly
declared to me he more than once resolved to put a period to his
existence, but was always prevented by some trivial interruption or
other. At this critical period, an uncle of his wife's died, and she was
his sole heir. Thus, once again, he was unexpectedly snatched from
beggary, and was much richer than he was at his father's death; but,
alas for him! not wiser; for, with accelerated pace, he held on his
former career, and the consequence was, that he was forced to leave his
young and beautiful wife to the charity of her relations. Under his
assumed name, he became my companion in the ranks--a strange,
interesting, even fearful companion, too, he was at times; for he would
occasionally be the most light-hearted and amusing person in the group;
at others, he was sullen and morose, scarce a monosyllable would escape
his lips; and, when irritated, the expressions he made use of were
sublimely fearful, such as a devil might have used, making even the most
depraved of the men quail. Yet, when in his quiet and gentle moods, I
have listened to his discourse with rapture. One hour of his
conversation conveyed more information to my mind than a month of
reading could have done. I have seen him, when we were alone, weep like
a child over his fallen fortunes; then, the next moment, knit his brows,
compress his lips, clench his fists, and stamp upon the ground, and call
upon death to deliver him from his own thoughts. Times out of number I
have heard him express a wish that he might fall in the next action. He
had escaped without a scratch until the battle of Bayonne. Well do I
remember the conversation we had the evening before. It were tedious to
repeat it; but he expressed his fears that the enemy would miss him, and
declared to me his firm determination to desert and remain in Spain (he
spoke the language like a native) rather than return to England; for
there was a rumour in the camp at the time of the reverses of Bonaparte,
and the anticipations of a speedy peace. Towards the close of the action
we had driven in the opposing column, and the fire had slackened;
hundreds of dead and wounded lay around us, for the affair had been very

"Blair," said he, "I knew they could not hit me; I must live on in

Scarce were the words spoken, when he fell upon his face. I stopped, and
turned him on his back; his eyes were fixed in death; his countenance
more placid and resigned than I ever remember to have seen it. He
grasped my hand, his lips moved, but the noise of the firing deadened
his voice. I placed my ear to his lips, and could just make out--

"James, I am now happy. Gracious God, pardon your erring creature!"

A slight shiver passed along his frame, and all was over. What his real
name was I never knew, or I would have written to his wife. Such were
his talents, that, had his mind been well regulated, there was no effort
that man can accomplish he was not capable of; but, alas! he perished,
the victim of his uncontrolled passions.

Here ended the soldier's narratives. James Blair had returned, and in
health, but he had not found happiness, neither had his mother or
cousin; yet his hopes were most reasonable. He had only attained one
object, to find another more difficult to attain, humble as that object
is--a way to earn his daily bread. Matters were in this state, when a
rumour spread through the parish that a captain had purchased an estate
which had been for some time in the market, and meant to build a new
house, and live constantly at it. This was a matter of great joy to us,
for it brought hope of employment, for a time at least; and James
brightened up. The weather was no sooner favourable, than the new
proprietor came to survey his purchase, and plan his improvements. A
number of labourers were employed, and James among the rest; for he was
first in his application. The captain, struck by his cleanly and
military appearance, was much taken with him, and inquired as to his
services. James gave a modest account of them, and retired, the captain
making no observation at the time; but it was observed that he oftener
stopped and spoke to him than to any other of his work-people, and
observed him more closely. Still nothing uncommon had occurred to James,
more than the rest. He received his wages the same as the others, and
was most assiduous to please and give satisfaction to his employer.
Since his return, he had been most punctual in his attendance at church,
and zealous in his religious duties--for he felt all the heart-consoling
comforts they are calculated to bestow; and thus had won back to himself
the approbation of his own mind and the esteem of others, who had
formerly thought very lightly of his principles and conduct.

The consequence was, that James (who, before he went from among us, was
well skilled in all the branches of agricultural labour) was appointed
grieve by the new proprietor over his estate, towards the end of the
harvest, and put into possession of a neat house before the winter
commenced. All obstructions to his wedding with Jeanie Aitken were now
removed; they were married, and after the wedding she left the widow's
cottage for her own house, a happy bride; but the Widow Blair would not
leave her cottage to live with them. Years thus rolled on; James's
family had increased to three, two boys and a girl, when Widow Blair
paid the debt of nature, and was buried beside her husband. James had
accumulated a small sum of money by his industry and strict economy,
when his excellent and worthy master died suddenly, and he was again
without a way to live, though in much better circumstances than when he
had first returned. He was now under a great necessity to exert himself,
but he could not at once make up his mind as to the manner. He at last
resolved to emigrate, and set sail for Sydney towards the fall of the
leaf. I have parted with relations and dearest friends, but never did I
feel a sharper throe than when I last bade farewell to James Blair and
Jeanie Aitken.

But I have often a letter from them. In my last, James says he is
prosperous far above his deserts. He is sole proprietor of thousands of
sheep of the best breed; and has the range of more land than he can ride
round in a long day.


Up among the wild moors of Liddlesdale and Ewesdale rises the Tarras, a
small, black-looking stream, which, after dashing and brawling through
scenes as wild as itself, joins the Esk near Irvine, about twelve or
fifteen miles from its source. In the olden time, the banks of the
Tarras formed one of the favourite resorts of the freebooters of the
Scottish Borders, who, in the midst of their inaccessible morasses,
either set pursuit at defiance, or made an easy conquest of those who
were foolhardy enough to follow them into their strongholds. They have
long ceased their roving and adventurous life--pursuer and pursued have
long been lying in the quiet churchyards, or slumbering in their
forgotten graves among the wild hills where they fought and fell; but
Tarras has since been haunted by other spirits than the turbulent ones
of whom we have spoken; for, when the days of rapine and murder were
past, it was but natural that superstition should people the wild and
desolate morasses with the spirits of the departed.

The "march of intellect" is gradually trampling under foot the legends,
omens, and superstitions which formerly flourished in their strength
amid the wild fastnesses of the land; and they are seldom talked of now
but as things that have been, but never will be again. The incidents
upon which the present tale is founded were matters of common
conversation some sixty or seventy years since, and the belief in their
truth was general and implicit; _now_, they only live in the
recollection of the aged, like a half-forgotten dream in their early
days. It was from an infirm old man, the son of our _ghost-seer_ that
the tradition was obtained.

Late one evening, in the autumn of 17--, Willie Bell, the blacksmith,
was standing at the door, wondering what had become of his apprentice,
John Graham, who had left Clay-yett that morning, to go to the
neighbouring town of Langholm, where his father was lying dangerously
ill. It was bright moonlight--calm and beautiful; the few clouds seen in
the sky lay still and motionless on the horizon, like barks becalmed at
sea, only waiting for a breeze to waft them.

"I hope naething has happened the callant," said Nelly, the guidwife;
"it's a bonny nicht--he canna hae tint the gate."

"Hout, na," said Willie, "he kens the gate as weel's I do mysel--there's
nae fear o' him; but I'm thinkin, maybe, his father's waur than he
expeckit, and he'll be bidin at the Langholm a' nicht."

"Puir chiel! I did hear tell that his father was waitin on; but I hope
he's no that far gane yet."

It was now near nine o'clock, and the good folks were beginning to be
rather uneasy about John Graham, who had faithfully promised to return
before eight, when they heard the sound of rapidly approaching
footsteps, and presently the object of their solitude appeared, running
at the top of his speed, and looking anxiously behind him, as if
dreading pursuit, or flying from danger. He soon reached the cottage,
and staggered to the door, where he leaned, apparently quite exhausted.
His face was ghastly pale, large drops of perspiration stood on his
brow, and his limbs trembled as if he were under the influence of ague.

"Mercy on us!" said Nelly, looking wonderingly and anxiously in his
face, "what ails the callant? Speak, my bonny man! What ails ye?"

"Gie's a sowp water," said John Graham--"I'm amaist deed."

The water seemed to revive him a little, and he stared wildly around

"D'ye see ought?" said he; "eh!--what's yon?"

"Hoot, the laddie's daft; there's nought yonder but just the holly buss,
lookin, for a' the world, like a man body in the moonlicht."

"Eh, whow!--eh, whow!" groaned the poor boy to himself, burying his face
in his hands. "Nelly!" said he, at last, slowly and solemnly, "tell me
the truth! When a body sees a ghost, is it no a warnin that his ain
time's no far aff?"

"Hout, na! I hae seen half-a-score ghosts mysel, and I'm no a bit the
waur. Some folks threep that it's no canny to speak to a ghost; for, if
ane does, there's sure some mischief to follow."

"Deil's i' the woman, clatterin about ghosts!" said the blacksmith;
"it's silly havers aboot them athegither. What is a ghost? It canna be a
body--for we ken that the bodies o' the dead are moulderin in the grave;
it canna be a soul--for what could gar a happy speerit come back frae
heaven to revisit this wearisome warld?--and frae the ither bit, Auld
Clootie wad tak far owre guid care o' them to let e'er a speerit among
them won back again. Na, na! there's nae sic thing as ghosts."

"Whether there's ghosts or no," said John Graham, solemnly, "I'm
thinking I've seen ane the nicht. Gude be thankit, I didna speak

"Seen a ghost!" cried Nelly. "Eh, John!--whar was't?--what was't like?"

"Oh, like a holly buss, I'se warran," said the blacksmith, sneeringly;
"or like a mucklecalf, or the shadow o' himsel."

"Never heed him, John, lad," said Nelly; "say yer say, and tell us a'
about it."

Weel, Nelly, ye see, I'd been at the Langholm, and I fand my puir
faither just waitin on, and my mother maist dementit, sabbin and greetin
fit to kill hersel; and the doctor was fleechin on her to haud her
tongue, and no disturb her husband in his last moments; and sair wark
had we baith to keep her quiet. The doctor tell't us that my faither had
just come to the warst, and that it was just the toss up o' a bawbee
whether he lived or died. Weel, about the four hours, my faither fell
into a sound sleep, and when he awakened up again, he'd gotten the turn;
and the doctor said if he was keepit quiet, there was nae fear but he'd
won owre it. Eh, but my mother was a pleased woman, and whan she gied
the guidman the cordial, she kissed him, and cried out affectionately,
"Geordie! Gude be thankit, ye're spared till us! Gae to sleep, my man."

She then steekit the door, and cam ben and took a muckle bottle oot o'
the cupboard, and mixed a glass o' real guid toddy, and said to me--

"Tak this afore ye gang hame, my bairn; 'twill do ye nae harm; drink it,
and be thankfu that yer faither's life's spared. Ye maunna bide ony
longer, but get back to yer maister's as fast as ye can; it's bonny
moonlicht, and young limbs mak quick wark. Guid-nicht! His blessin be
wi' ye!"

Weel, I made the best o' my way owre the hill, and was aye thinkin o' my
faither, and what a sad thing 'twad hae been if he'd been taen frae us;
when, just as I'd gotten to yon side o' Tarras, and was passin a holly
buss near the Gallsyke, I felt a' at ance, I canna tell hoo--the air
seemed quite cauld and damp, a tremblin cam owre me, my flesh seemed as
if 'twere creepin thegither, and a fear o' I dinna ken what garred me
look roun, and there, as I'm a leevin man, no sax yards frae me, walkin
the same gate wi' mysel, was a leddy a' dressed oot in white. It was
bricht moon licht--I couldna be mistaen, I saw her as plain as I see
yersel at this moment. I rubbit my een, thinkin I micht be dreamin--for
I'd heard tell o' folk walkin in their sleep--but, na! there she was
still. I didna ken hoo it was--whether it was the glass o' toddy my
mother had gien me, or that I didna dread there was onything forbye
common aboot her--but I didna feel at a' afeard o' her, though I still
had the same unco oot-o'-the-way scudderin, and dread o' something I
couldna conceive what. To tell the truth, I was mair pleased nor feared,
to see a leevin body sae near me, and me sae fearfu in mysel. Weel,
there she walkit, never turnin her head to the richt nor the left, and
me glowrin at her, but no daurin to speak; for she was grandly dressed,
just like a leddy, wi' pinners on her head, and buckles glintin in her
shoon. There was a little wind at the time, but it never stirred her
claes, and her feet gaed fast o'er the grund, but nae sound cam frae
them; I didna notice a' that at the time, but I minded it after.

"We had gotten as far as the auld aik-tree yonder, when, while I had my
eye upon her--while I could tak my Bible aith she was there beside
me--she was gane as clean's a whistle. I lookit ahint the tree--I lookit
a' round me, but I seed nought; and then a' at ance, the thocht cam into
my head that I'd seen a ghost. I couldna doot it, for the cauld air had
passed awa wi' her, and I felt as if the chill had gaen clean out o' my
bluid; for when I cam to think o' the awfu' company I'd been in, I maist
swarfed wi' fear; and as soon's I cam roun, I set aff for hame as fast's
my legs wad carry me."

"Weel, that beats a'," said the blacksmith; "ye've seen the White Leddy
o' Tarras!"

"And wha's that?" said John Graham.

"Come yer ways in, lad, and sit doun, and I'll tell a' I ken aboot her,
for I'm thinkin nane o' us 'll be for gaun to bed enow; and it's better
for ye to be sitting by the cheerfu ingle than cowerin aneath the
bedclaes. Nelly, woman! gie's oot the whisky--the puir lad 'll no be the
waur for a sowp, and I dinna care to tak a drap, to keep him company."

After they were all comfortably seated, and had dispelled the thoughts
of spirits with the toddy cup, Willie began his story:

It's nae mony years sin' there lived a man o' the name o' Archy Brown,
at the Windy Hill, up by yonder. He was a puir weaver body, wi' a wife
and a hantel o' weans, and sair wark he had to keep the house owre his
head. The wife was a clean, canty body, and keepit a'thing trig and
comfortable, and made the maist o' what she could get, and that was but
little; but content, they say, is better than riches, and she aye keepit
her heart abune, and tried to mak her guidman as contented as hersel.
But it wadna do--Archy was a disappointed, unhappy man; he was aye
grumbling at his hard fate, and wonnerin what he'd dune, that he should
be forced to work hard for his bread, whan ithers, nae better than
himsel, he thocht, were sittin wi' their hans afore them, doin naething
ava. But this wadna do; it taks a stout heart to face a stey brae--and
Archy seemed to hae tint _his_ athegither. Wark cam slowly in, and when
it did come, it was sair negleckit, till, at last, if it hadna been the
respeck they had for his wife, his employers wad hae left him ane and
a'. Archy had just suppit his parritch, after a grumlin day's wark in
August, and was sittin by the ingle cheek, looking as black as the back
o' the lum, and the wife was busy washin the dishes and puttin a'thing

"Hech," says Archy, with a pech, "but this is a weary warld."

"Hoot," said the wife, "the warld's weel enough, if 'twarna the folk
that's in't; it's a guid and a bonny warld, Archy, and thankfu we should
be that we hae health to enjoy it."

"Thankfu!" said Archie. "My certie! guid richt hae we to be thankfu, and
can hardly get the bite and sowp to pit in our mous, when there are sae
mony that dinna ken what to mak o' a' their havins!"

"Ou, Archy, man! ye're aye thinkin o' them that's better off than
yersel; but think how mony wad be happy to change wi' ye. There's mony a
ane this nicht, Archy, that has nae shelter fo his head but the lift
abune him, and that's fain to cower ahint the dyke frau the cauld

"Gae 'wa wi' your preachins!" said Archy. "Is't no aneugh to hear the
minister on the Sabbath, but I maun be plagued wi' a wife playin hum in
my lug a' the day lang?"

The wife held her tongue, but the tears were rinnin doun her cheeks, as
she wiped doun the dresser. Archy was a guid-hearted though a fretfu
man; and the sicht o' his wife's distress softened him.

"Come, come, Nancy, woman, dinna tak on sae; ye ken I lo'e ye weel--for
a kind and guid wife hae ye aye been to me; and ye sudna heed what I
say, when the vera heart's bluid within me is soured by disappointment.
I could bear't a' weel aneugh for mysel; but to think o' my havin wiled
ye frae yer faither's beil hame, to share the fortunes o' a broken man,
gars my heart grue; and whiles I feel as if I could risk my saul to the
evil ane, to procure ye ease and comfort."

"Oh, Archy! shut such wicked thochts oot o' yer heart, or maybe, whan
temptation comes, ye'll tak it by the hand, instead o' resistin it.
Mindna for me--I want naething to mak me happy but to see ye pleased;
and I'd far fainer see ye smile as ye used to do lang syne, than be the
brawest o' the braw withoot it."

The darkness o' night was noo beginnin to spread owre the earth, and
Archy and the wife were just ettlin to gang to bed, when a saft rap cam
to the door, and a hand tirled at the sneck.

"Wha can that be, in Gude's name?" whispered Nance. "Rise, Archy, man,
and speer at them what they're seekin at this untimous hour."

"Wha's that?" said Archy, in a loud tone o' voice, though it trembled a
wee when he thocht o' bogles, and rievers, and a' sic-like deevilry.

A saft and gentle voice answered--

"Can you give me a guide over the hills as far as Langholm? I'm a lone
unprotected woman, and have lost my way."

"Is there onybody wi' ye forbye yersel?" said the cautious Archy.

"No one. Pray let me in to rest for a short time. I am no beggar; you
shall be well rewarded for your kindness."

"Reward!" replied Archy, drawin the sneck--"there's nane needed; it
should never be said that Archy Brown, puir though he be, wad keep his
door steekin again' them that haena beil."

The door was by this time open, and Nance had lighted the candle. The
stranger walked in. Great was the surprise o' baith at the unexpected
sight; they were maist as frightened as if they'd seen a bogle. The
stranger was a tall, handsome woman, a' dressed oot like a leddy, wi'
pinners on her head, and a' sorto' whirlygeerums--I dinna ken their
names, but, howsomever, they a' gaed to prove that she was a leddy, and
no ane like themsels; and when she spak, her voice was saft and gentle,
and her words as grand as if they were oot o' a printed book. Then she
had grand buckles in her shoon, and rings on her wee white hand, and
a'thing grander aboot her than they'd ever seen afore. Weel, she sat
doun by the ingle cheek, and askit again could they furnish her wi' a
guide to Langholm; and they persuadit her to bide where she was a'
nicht, and Archy wad gang wi' her himsel the neist morning. It was lang
ere they could gar her stop; but there were nae roads herewa in thae
days; and she was feared to gang farrer by hersel, and Archy dounricht
refused to leave the hoose. She tell't them she had come fra the south
country and that she was travellin to Embro to see a freend; and aye as
she spak she sighed and sobbit; and when she laid aff her rich manteel,
they saw that a' wasna richt; and they lookit at her hand, but there was
nae weddin-ring upon't; and then Nance lookit in her face, and saw dule
and sorrow there, but naething waur--for her beauty was like that o' a
sorrowin angel; and she had sic a look o' innocence, that Nance dreaded
she had been beguiled by the warmth and innocence o' her heart--that she
was aiblins a puir thing mair sinned again' than sinnin; and Nance's ain
heart warmed till her, and she fleeched on, and made muckle o' her. Sair
did the puir thing greet; but she never loot on wha she was, or where
she cam frae, or wha 'twas she was seekin; but said that she was a
wanderer and an ootcast, and nae leevin soul cared for her, and the
sooner she was dead the better for hersel. Puir Nance was sair put aboot
to comfort her; but at last she persuadit her to sup some milk and
bread, and gang to her bed. Archy and Nance sleepit on the flure--at
least Nance sleepit, for Archy couldna; the deil was busy wi' him; the
siller buckles and the braw rings were aye glintin in his een whenever
he steekit them, and hinner't him frae sleepin. He closed his een and
tried to snore, and to fancy that he was sleepin; but aye the langer he
tried, the waur and the wickeder were the thochts that cam intil his
head; till at last he got up on his elbow, and sat glowrin at the bed
where the stranger leddy lay soun sleepin; and aye the langer he lookit,
the mair he thocht what a happy man he wad be if he had a' her braw
rings, and the gowd that was in her purse, and her siller buckles and
a'. Weel, neist morning, the leddy waukens up, and cries to Nance that
'twas time for her to tak the road; but Nance wadna hear tell o't till
she had gien her her breakfast.

"It's no muckle we hae," said Nance; "but, sic as it is, ye're welcome
to a share o't. Just sup yer milk and bread, while Archy snogs himsel up
to gang wi' ye."

As soon as they'd finished their breakfast, the leddy took oot a bonny
silken purse, that looked as if it wad burst, and gied Nance a piece o'

"I'm no for't," said Nance; "there's nae needcessity, ye're vera welcome
to a' ye got."

But the leddy wad insist upon her takin it; while Archy's een glistened
at the sicht o' the purse, and he bit his lip, and his breast gaed up
and doun like the bellows o' the smiddy, and his fingers opened and shut
upon his thigh, like the claws o' a cat just gaun to loup at a mouse.

The morning, though calm, was cauld; but, aboot twa hours after they had
left, Nance heard the sough o' a comin wind. It was an awesome and an
unca sound--she had never heard the like afore--it was like the groans
o' the deein; and, as she hearkened till't moanin past the door, she
fancied she heard a body cryin for help. Nance was terribly frightened;
for it seemed to her that the wind was no just a common wind, but the
voice o' a speerit--a kind o' whisper fare anither warld. A' at ance,
there cam sic a blast as was never seen nor heard afore nor since, at
the Windy Hill. A' the winds o' heaven seemed to hae been let loose at
ance, and the noise o' their roarin was loud as the loudest thunder.
Nance ran out o' the hoose, thinkin that clay wa's couldna even bide the
brunt o' sic a storm; and there she waited for the upshot. She cowered
down on the ground, and covered her head wi' her apron, while the noise
o' a thousand storms was around her. Nance thocht it strange that she
didna _feel_ the wind as weel as hear't and she keek't out frae under
her apron--and there was nae visible appearance o' the presence o' the
storm: the sound was a ragin tempest round her; but the lang grass was
standin unshaken, and the leaves o' the trees were without motion. A
dread o' the powers o' the air cam owre Nance--she thought she heard
their bodily voices about her--and, wi' a loud skirl, she swarfed awa on
the grund! Some o' the neighbours had seen Nance fa', and cam rinnin to
help her; but it was lang or she was a'richt again. When she cam round,
she steekit her een, and stappit her lugs--moanin, "Oh, that wind!--that
awesome wind!" The neighbours a' wondered; for nane but Nance had heard
aught extraordinary. Nance waited lang for Archy to come in to his
dinner; but it was weel on to the gloamin when he cam back. Nance heard
his fitfa, and ran to the door to meet him--

"Eh, but ye've been lang o' comin, Archy! How did ye leave the leddy,
puir thing?"

"Oh, she's safe at the end o' her journey," replied Archy, wi' a kind o'
laugh that sounded unco like a groan.

"Puir body," said Nance, "she maun hae been sair wearied; but, Archy, ye
maun hae been maist blawn awa wi' that awesome wind."

"What wind?" said Archy; "there wasna ony wind; it was as lown as a
simmer day."

"Oh, man, ye dinna say sae! Aboot twa hours after ye left this, there
cam on sic a storm, that I thocht the house wad come doun on my head,

"Twa hours," said Archy; and he turned as white's a clout, and the cauld
sweat stood on his face.

"Mercy on us, Archy," said the wife, "what ails ye? Ane wad think he'd
heard that awfu wind yersel; it maist frichtened me to death. It was for
a' the warld, whan it first beguid, like the groans and moans o' a deein

"Haud yer whisht, woman," said Archy, very short-like; "its no canny to
talk o' sic things. Hae, tak my coat, and pit it awa i' the kist."

"'Odsake, Archy!" cried Nance, haudin the coat to the licht; "what in
Gude's name, is this that's on't--Its bluid! Where got ye that?"

"Ou," said Archy, "there was a man killin a muckle sou in Tarras, and he
cried to me to help him, and I didna mind that I'd gotten a guid coat to
my back."

"Weel, that beats a'! Here's ane o' the bonny rings the leddy had on her
fingers in yer pocket! How cam ye by that?"

"What's your business, woman?" said Archy, wi' an oath. "Did I no tell
ye afore, that the leddy was safe and sound at her journey's end? She
wad insist on giein me the ring, to keep for my kindness to her."

"Did she no send ony word back by ye?"

"Ay, she thankit ye for yer kindness, and said she'd send ye word when
she got to the far end----But it'll be long or that," muttered Archy to

Weeks and months gaed by, but still nae word cam o' the leddy; and puir
Nance was wae for her; for she dreaded something uncommon had happened
her. Archy gaed to Embro', and cam back wi' siller, and a lang story how
an auld friend had died, and left him a hantle money.

The leddy was never heard tell o' again--she had nae kith nor kin to
speer after her--she cam like a dream, and vanished like ane; but
there's a stane on the banks o' Tarras, wi' a mark upon it that o' the
storms and floods o' years heena been able to wash oot--it's the mark o'
blood; and aft sin syne the figure o' a leddy, o' dressed in white, has
been seen wanderin in the mirk or the bright moonlicht, and aye vanishin
like a flaff o' lichtnin. A sober man may pass the Tarras a hundred
times, and see nought; but, after a Langholm hiring-day, or a July fair,
if a man hae taen twa-three cheerers forbye common, he's maist sure to


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