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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland - Volume 13
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 13" ***

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                     WILSON'S TALES OF THE BORDERS

                            AND OF SCOTLAND.


                            WITH A GLOSSARY.

                               REVISED BY

                           ALEXANDER LEIGHTON





















In the year 1785, a young and beautiful woman, whose dress and features
bespoke her to be a native of Spain, was observed a few miles beyond
Ponteland, on the road which leads to Rothbury. She appeared faint and
weary; dimness was deepening over the lustre of her dark eyes, and their
glance bespoke anxious misery. Her raiment was of the finest silk; but
time had caused its colour to fade; and it hung around her a tattered
robe--an ensign of present poverty and wretchedness, a ruined remnant of
prouder days that were past. She walked feebly and slowly along, bearing
in her arms an infant boy; and she was observed, at intervals, to sit
down, press her pale lips to her child's cheek, and weep. Several
peasants, who were returning from their labours in the fields, stood and
spoke to her; but she gazed on them with wild looks of despair, and she
answered them in a strange language, which they did not understand.

"She has been a lady, poor thing," said some of them.

"Ha!" said others, who had less charity in their breasts, "they have not
all been ladies that wear tattered silk in strange fashions."

Some inquired at her if she were hungry; if she wanted a lodging; or
where she was going. But, like the mother of Thomas à Beckett, to all
their inquiries she answered them but one word that they understood,
and that word was "_Edinburgh_!"

Some said, "the poor creature is crazed;" and when she perceived that
they comprehended her not, she waved her hand impatiently for them to
depart, and pressing her child closer to her bosom, she bent her head
over him, and sighed. The peasants, believing from her gestures that she
desired not their presence, left her, some pitying, all wondering.
Within an hour, some of them returned to the place where they had seen
her, with the intent of offering her shelter for the night; but she was
not to be found.

On the following morning, one Peter Thornton, a farmer, went into his
stackyard before his servants were astir, and his attention being
aroused by the weeping and wailing of a child, he hastened toward the
spot from whence the sound proceeded. In a secluded corner of the yard,
he beheld a woman lying, as if asleep, upon some loose straw; and a
child was weeping and uttering strange sounds of lamentation on her
bosom. It was the lovely, but wretched-looking foreigner whom the
peasants had seen on the evening before. Peter was a blunt, kind-hearted
Englishman; he resembled a piece of rich though unpolished metal. He
approached the forlorn stranger; and her strange dress, her youth, the
stamp of misery that surrounded her, and the death-like expression of
her features, moved him, as he gazed upon her and her child, almost to

"Get up, woman," said he; "why do you lie there? Get up, and come wi'
me; ye seem to be ill, and my wife will get ye something comfortable."

But she spoke not, she moved not, though the child screamed louder at
his presence. He called to her again; but still she remained motionless.

"Preserve us!" said he, somewhat alarmed, "what can have come owre the
woman? I daresay she is in a trance! She sleeps sounder there in the
open air, and upon the bare straw, wi' her poor bairn crying like to
brak its heart upon her breast, than I could do on a feather-bed, wi'
everything peace and quietness around me. Come, waken, woman," he added;
and he bent down, and took her by the hand. But her fingers were stiff
and cold--there was no sign of life upon her lips, neither was there
breath in her nostrils.

"What is this?" exclaimed Peter, in a tone of horror--"a dead woman in
my stackyard! Has there been a murder at my door through the night? I'll
gie a' that I am worth as a reward to find it out!" And, leaving the
child screaming by the side of its dead mother, he rushed breathless
into the house, exclaiming, "Oh, wife! wife!--Jenny, woman!--I say,
Jenny, get up! Here has been bloody wark at our door! What do ye
think?--a dead woman lying in our stackyard, wi' a bonny bairn screaming
on her breast!"

"What's that ye say, Peter!" cried his wife, starting up in terror; "a
dead woman! Ye're dreaming--ye're not in earnest!"

"Haste ye! haste ye, Jenny!" he added; "it's as true as that my name is
Peter Thornton."

She arose, and, with her household servants, accompanied him to where
the dead body lay.

"Now," added Peter, with a look which bespoke the troubled state of his
feelings, "this will be a job for the crowner, and we'll a' have to be
examined and cross-examined, backward and forward, just as if we had
killed the woman, or had onything to do wi' her death. I would rather
have lost five hundred pounds, than that she had been found dead upon my

"But see," said Jenny, after she had ascertained that the mother was
really dead, and as she took up the child in her arms, and kissed
it--"see what a sweet, bonny, innocent-looking creature this is! And,
poor thing, only to think that it should be left an orphan, and
apparently in a foreign land, for I dinna understand a word that it
greets and says!"

A coroner's inquest was accordingly held upon the body, and a verdict of
"_Found dead_" returned. Nothing was discovered about the person of the
deceased which could throw light upon who she was. All the money she had
had with her consisted of a small Spanish coin; but on her hand she wore
a gemmed ring, of curious workmanship and considerable value, and also a
plain marriage-ring. On the inside of the former were engraven the
characters of C. F. _et_ M. V.; and within the latter, C. _et_ M. F. The
fashion of her dress was Spanish, and the few words of lamentation which
her poor child could imperfectly utter were discovered to be in that
language. There being small likelihood of discovering who the stranger
had been, her orphan boy was about to be committed to the workhouse; but
Mrs Thornton had no children of her own, the motherless little one had
been three days under her care, and already her heart began to feel for
him a mother's fondness.

"Peter," said she unto her husband, "I am not happy at the thought o'
this poor bairn being sent to the workhouse. I'm sure he was born above
such a condition. Death, in taking his mother, left him helpless and
crying for help at our door, and I think it would be unnatural in us to
withhold it. Now, as we have nae family o' our own, if ye'll bear the
expense, I'm sure I'm willing to tak the trouble, o' bringing him up."

"Wi' a' my heart, Jenny, my dow," said Peter; "it was me that found the
bairn, and if ye say, keep it, I say, keep it, too. His meat will never
be missed; and it will be a worse year wi' us than ony we hae seen, when
we canna get claes to his back."

"Peter," replied she, "I always said ye had a good heart; and by this
action ye prove it to the world."

"I care not that," said he, snapping the nail of his thumb upwards from
his forefinger, "what the world may say or think about me, provided
_you_ and my conscience say that it is right that I hae done."

They therefore, from that hour, took the orphan as the child of their
adoption; and they were most puzzled to decide by what name he should be

"It is perfectly evident to me," said the farmer, "from the letters on
the rings, that his faither's first name has begun wi' a C, and his
second wi' an F; but we could never be able to find out the outlandish
foreign words that they may stand for. We shall therefore just give him
some decent Christian name."

"And what name more decent or respectable could we gie him than our
own?" said Jenny. "Suppose we just call him Thornton--Peter Thornton?"

"No, no, good wife," said he, "there must twa words go to the making o'
that bargain; for, though nobody would charge you wi' being his mother,
the time may come when folk would be wicked enough to hint that I was
his faither; therefore, I do not think it proper that he should tak my
name. What say ye, now, as it is probable that his faither's name began
wi' a C, if we were to call him Christopher? and, as we found him in the
month o' May, we should gie him a surname after the month, and call him
Christopher May? That, in my opinion, is a very bonny name; and I hae
nae doubt that, if he be spared till those dark een o' his begin to look
after the lasses, mony a ane o' them will be o' the same way o'

The child soon became reconciled to the change in his situation, and
returned the kindness of his foster-mother with affection. She rejoiced
as he gradually forgot the few words of Spanish which he at first
lisped, and in their stead began to speak the language of the Borders.
With delight in her eyes, she declared that "she had learned him his
_mother tongue_, which he now spoke as _natural as life_, though, when
she took him under her care, he could say nothing but some heathenish
kind o' sounds, which nobody could mak ony mair sense o' than it was
possible to do out o' the yaumerin o' an infant o' six months old."

As the orphan grew up, he became noted as the liveliest boy in the
neighbourhood. He was the tallest of his age, and the most fearless.
About three years after Peter Thornton had taken him under his
protection, he sent him to school. But, lively as the orphan Christopher
May was (for so we shall now call him), he by no means showed an aptness
to learn. For five years, and he never rose higher than the middle of
the class. The teacher was often wroth with the thoughtlessness of his
pupil; and in his displeasure said, "It is nonsense, sirrah, to say that
ye was ever a Spaniard. There is something like sense and stability o'
character about the people o' Spain; but you--ye're a Frenchman!--a
thoughtless, dancing, settle-to-nothing fool. Or, if ever ye were a
Spaniard, ye belong to the family o' Don Quixote; his name would be
found in the catalogue o' your great-grandfathers." Even Peter Thornton,
though no scholar, was grieved when the teacher called upon him, and
complained of the giddiness of his adopted son, and of the little
progress which he made under his care.

"Christie, ye rascal ye," said Peter, stamping his foot, "what news are
these your master tells o' ye? He says he's ashamed o' ye, and that
ye'll never learn."

But even for his thoughtlessness the kind heart of Jenny found an

"Dear me, goodman," said she, "I wonder to hear the master and ye talk;
I am surprised that both o' ye haena mair sense. Do ye not tak into
consideration that the bairn is learning in a foreign language? Had his
mother lived, he would hae spoken Spanish; and how can ye expect him to
be as glib at the English language as those that were learned--born, I
may say--to speak it from the breast?" "True, Jenny," answered Peter,
sagely, "I wasna thinking o' that; but there may be something in't.
Maister," added he, addressing the teacher, "ye mustna, therefore, be
owre hard wi' the laddie. He is a fine bairn, though he may be dull--and
dull I canna think it possible he could be, if he would determine to

Christopher, however, was as wild on the play-ground as he was dull and
thoughtless in the school-room. Every person admired the happy-hearted
orphan. Good Jenny Thornton said that he had been a great comfort to
her; and that all the care she had taken over him was more than repaid
by the kindness and gratitude of his heart. They were evident in all he
said, and all that he did. Peter also loved the boy; he said, "Kit was
an excellent laddie--for his part, indeed, he never saw his equal. He
had now brought him up for nine years, and he could safely say that he
never had occasion to raise a hand to him--indeed he did not remember
the time that ever he had had occasion to speak an angry word to him;
and he declared that he should inherit all that he possessed, as though
he had been his own son."

Mrs Thornton often showed to him the rings which had been taken from his
mother's fingers, with the inscriptions thereon; and on such occasions
she would say, "Weel do I remember, hinny, when our goodman came running
into the house one morning, shaking as though he had seen an apparition
at midnight, and crying to me, quite out o' breath, 'Rise--rise,
Jenny!--here is the dead body o' a woman in our stackyard!' I canna tell
ye what my feelings were when he said so. I wished not to believe him.
But had I wakened, and found myself in a grave, I could not have gotten
a greater fricht. My heart louped to my throat, just as if it had gotten
a sudden jerk with a person's whole might and strength! I dinna ken how
I got my gown thrown on, for my teeth were chattering in my head--I
shaked like a 'natomy! And when we did get to the stackyard, there was
ye, like a dear wee lammie, mourning owre the breast o' yer dead mother,
wi' yer bits o' handies pulling impatiently at yer bonny black hair,
kissing her cold lips, or pulling her by the gown, and crying and
uttering words which we didna understand. And oh, hinny, but your mother
had been a weel-faured woman in her day!--I never saw her but a cold
corpse, and I thought, even then, that I had never looked upon a bonnier
face. She had evidently been a genteel person, but was sore, sore
dejected. But she had two rings upon her fingers; one of them was a ring
such as married women wear--the other was set wi' precious stones, which
those who have seen them say, none but a duchess in this country could
wear. Ye must examine them."--And here Mrs Thornton was in the habit of
producing the rings, which she had carefully locked away, wrapped up in
twenty folds of paper, and secured in a housewife which folded together
within all. Then she would point out to him the initial letters, the C.
F. and the M. V., and would add, "That has been your faither and your
mother's name when they were sweethearts--at least so our Peter says
(and he is seldom wrong); but the little _e t_ between them--I canna
think what it stands for. O Christopher, my canny laddie, it is a pity
but that ye would only endeavour to be a scholar, as ye are good
otherwise, and then ye might be able to tell what the _e t_ means. Who
kens but it may throw some light upon your parentage; for, if ever ye
discover who your parents were, it will be through the instrumentality
o' these rings. Peter always says that (and, as I say, he is seldom
wrong) and therefore I always keep them locked away, lest onythin should
come owre them; and when they are out o' the drawer, I never suffer them
to be out o' my sight."

In the fulness of her heart Mrs Thornton told this story at least four
times in the year, almost in the same words, and always exhibiting the
rings. Her kindly counsels, and the cogent reasons which she urged to
Christopher why he should become a scholar, at length awoke his
slumbering energies. For the first time, he stood dux of his class, and
once there, he stood like a nail driven into a wall, which might not be
removed. His teacher, who was a man of considerable knowledge and
reading (though perhaps not what those calling themselves _learned_
would call a man of _learning_--for _learned_ is a very vague word, and
is as frequently applied where real ignorance exists, as to real
knowledge)--that teacher who had formerly said that Christopher could
not be a Spaniard, because that he had not solidity enough within
him--now said that he believed he was one, and not a descendant of Don
Quixote; but, if of anybody, a descendant of _him_ who gave the immortal
Don "a local habitation and a name;" for he now predicted that
Christopher May would be a genius.

But, though the orphan at length rose to the head of his class, and
though he passed from one class to another, he was still the same wild,
boisterous, and daring boy, when they ran shouting from the school, cap
in hand, and waving it over their heads, like prisoners relieved from
confinement. If there was a quarrel to decide in the whole school, the
orphan Christopher was the umpire. If a weak boy, or a cowardly boy, was
threatened by another, Christopher became his champion. If a sparrow's
nest was to be robbed, to achieve which a tottering gable was to be
climbed, he did the deed; yea, or when a football match was to be played
on Eastern E'en (or, as it was there called, Pancake Tuesday), if the
orphan once got the ball at his foot, no man could again touch it.

His birth-day was not known; but he could scarce have completed his
thirteenth year when his best friend died. Good, kind-hearted Jenny
Thornton--than whom a better woman never breathed--was gathered with the
dead; and her last request to her husband was, that he would continue to
be the friend and protector of the poor orphan, and especially that he
would take care of the rings which had been found upon his mother's
hand. Now Peter was so overwhelmed with grief at the idea of being
parted from her who, for twenty years, had been dearer to him than his
own existence, that he could scarce hear her dying words. He followed
her coffin like a broken-hearted man; and he sobbed over her grave like
a weaned child on the lap of its mother. But many months had not passed
when it was evident that the orphan Christopher was the only sincere
mourner for Jenny Thornton. The widower was still in the prime and
strength of his days, being not more than two-and-forty. He was a
prosperous man--one who had had a cheap farm and a good one; and it was
believed that Peter was able to purchase the land which he rented. Many,
indeed, said that the tenant was a better man than his master--by a
"better man," meaning a richer man.

Fair maidens, therefore, and widows to boot, were anxious to obtain the
vacant hand of the wealthy widower. Some said that Peter would never
forget Jenny, and that he would never marry again, for that she had been
to him a wife amongst a thousand: and they spoke of the bitterness of
his grief.

"Ay," said others, "but we ne'er like to see the tears run owre fast
down the cheeks of a man. They show that the heart will soon drown its
sorrow. Human nature is very frail; and a thing that we thought we would
love _for ever_ last year, we find that we only _occasionally remember_
that we loved it this. If there be a real mourner for the loss of Mrs
Thornton, it's the poor, foreign orphan laddie. Peter, notwithstanding
all his greeting at the grave, will get another wife before twelve
months go round."

They who said so were in the right. Poor Jenny had not been in her grave
eleven months and twenty days, when Peter led another Mrs Thornton from
the altar. When he had brought her home, he introduced to her the orphan

"Now, dear," said he, "here is a laddie--none know whom he belongs to.
I found him one morning, when he was a mere infant, screaming on the
breast o' his dead mother. Since then I have brought him up. My late
wife was very fond o' him--so, indeed, was I; and it is my request that
ye will be kind to him. Here," added he, "are two rings which his mother
had upon her fingers when I found her a cold corpse. Poor fellow, if
anything ever enable him to discover who his parents were, it will be
them, though there is but little chance that he ever will. However, I
have been as a father to him for more than ten years, and I trust, love,
that ye will act towards him as a mother. Come forward, Christopher,"
continued he, "and welcome your new mother."

The boy came forward, hanging his head, and bashfully stretched out his
hand towards her; but the new-made Mrs Thornton had his mother's
jewelled ring in her hand, and she observed him not. He stood with his
eyes now bent upon the ground, now upon her, and again upon his mother's
ring, as she turned it round and round.

"Well," said she, addressing her husband, and still turning it round as
she spoke, "it is, indeed, a beautiful ring--a very beautiful ring!"

"I am glad ye think so," said he; "she had been a bonny woman that wore

She placed the ring upon her finger, she turned it round again, and
gazed on it with admiration. "I should like to wear such a ring," she

"Why, hinny, and ye may wear it," said Peter; "for the ring is mine
twenty times owre, whatever its value may be, considering what I have
done for the laddie."

With an expression of countenance which might be described as something
between a smile and a blush, or, as the people north the Tweed very
aptly express it, with a "_smirk_," she slipped the ring upon her
finger, saying that it fitted as well as though it had been made for

Passion flashed in the eyes of the orphan. His "new mother," as Peter
styled her, had done what poor Jenny never ventured to do. He withdrew
his hand which he had extended to greet her, and he was turning away
sullenly, when his foster-father said, "Stop, Christopher, ye must not
go away until you have shaken hands with your mother." And he turned
again, and once more extended to her his hand.

"Well," said she, addressing her husband, and putting forth two of her
fingers to Christopher, "is it really possible that you have brought up
this great boy! What a trouble he must have been--and expense too!"

"Oh, you are quite mistaken," said Peter; "Christopher never cost us the
smallest trouble. I have been proud of him and pleased with him, since
ever I took him under my roof; and, poor fellow, as to the expense that
he has cost me, if I never had seen his face, I wouldna hae been a penny
richer to-day, but very possibly poorer; for he has very often amused me
wi' his drollery, and keepit me in the house, when, but for him, I would
have been down at Ponteland, or somewhere else, getting a glass wi' my

Many weeks had not elapsed ere Christopher discovered that his protector
who was dead had been succeeded by a living persecutor. A month had not
passed when he was not permitted to enter the room where the second Mrs
Thornton sat. Before two went round, he was ordered to take his meals
with the servants; and he could do nothing with which a fault was not
found. He had often, after scraping his shoes for five minutes together,
to take them off and examine them, before he durst venture into the
passage leading to the kitchen, which was now the only apartment in the
house to which he had access.

Peter Thornton beheld the persecution which his adopted son endured; and
he expostulated with his better half, that she would treat him more
kindly. But she answered him, that he might have children enough of his
own to provide for, without becoming a father to those of other people.
Now, a stripling that is in love generally says and does many foolish
things which he does not wish to have recalled to his recollection after
he has turned thirty; but the middle-aged man who is so smitten
invariably acts much more foolishly than the stripling. I have smiled to
see them combing up their few remaining locks to cover their bald
forehead, or carefully pulling away the grey hairs which appeared about
their temples, and all to appear young in the eyes of some widowed or
matronly divinity. I do not exactly agree with the poet who says--

     "Love never strikes but once, that strikes at all!"

for I think, from nineteen to five-and-twenty, there are few men (or
women either) who have not felt a peculiar sensation about their hearts
which they took to be love, and felt it more than once too, and which
ultimately would have become love, but for particular circumstances
which broke off the acquaintanceship; and, before five-and-thirty, we
forget that such a feeling had existed, and laugh at, or profess to have
no patience with, those who are its victims. We should always remember,
however, that it is not easy to put an old head upon young shoulders,
and think of how we once felt and acted ourselves; and to recollect,
also, how happy, how miserable, we were in those days. Love is an abused
word. Elderly people turn up their nostrils when they see it in print.
They will hardly read a book where the word occurs. They will fling it
away, and cry "stuff!" But, if they would look back upon their days of
old, they would treat it with more respect. But the second love of your
middle-aged men and women--call it _doting_, or call it by any other
name, but do not call it love, for that it is not, and cannot be. Man
never knows what love is, until he has experienced the worth of an
affectionate wife, who for his sake would suffer all that the world's
ills can inflict.

Now, Peter Thornton, though not an old man, and although his first wife
had certainly been dear unto him, yet he had a doting fondness for his
second spouse, who obtained an ascendency over him, and, to his
surprise, left him no longer master of his own house.

But she bore to him a son; and, after the birth of the child, his care
over Christopher every day diminished. The orphan was given over to
persecution--the hand of every one was raised against him--and, finding
that he had now no one to whom he could apply for redress, he lifted up
his own hand in his defence. The serving-maids who ill-treated him soon
found him more than their equal; and to the men-servants, when they used
him roughly, he shook his head, threatening that he would soon be a
match for them.

The coldness which Mrs Thornton had at first manifested towards him soon
relapsed into perfect hatred. He was taken from the school; and she
hourly forced upon him the most menial offices. For hours together he
was doomed to rock the cradle of her child, and was sure of being beaten
the moment it awoke. Nor was this all--but, when friends visited her,
poor Christopher was compelled to wait at the table, at which he had
once sat by the side of Jenny Thornton, and whoever might be the guests,
he was first served. She even provoked her husband, until he lifted his
hand and struck the orphan violently--forgetting the proverb, that "they
should have light hands who strike other people's bairns." The boy
looked upbraidingly in Peter's face as he struck him for the first time,
though he uttered no complaint; but that very look whispered to his
heart, "What would Jenny have said, had she seen this?" And Peter,
repenting of what he did, turned away and wept. Yet a sin that is once
committed is less difficult to commit again, and remorse becomes as an
echo that is sinking faint. Having, therefore, once lifted his hand
against the orphan--though he then wept for having done so--it was not
long until the blows were repeated without compunction.

Christopher, however, was a strange boy--perhaps what some would call a
provoking one--and often, when Mrs Thornton pursued him from the house
to chastise him, he would hastily climb upon the tops of the houses of
the farm-servants, and sitting astride upon them, nod down to her
triumphantly, as with threats she shook her hand in his face; and,
smiling, sing

     "Loudon's bonny woods and braes."

But his favourite song, on such occasions, was the following, which, if
it be not the exact words that he sang, embodies the sentiment--

    "'Can I forget the woody braes
        Where love and innocence foregather;
    Where aft, in early summer days,
        I've croon'd a sang among the heather?
    Can I forget my father's hearth--
        My mother by the ingle spinnin--
    Their weel-pleased look to see the mirth
        O' a' their bairnies round them rinnin?

    'It was a waefu hour to me,
        When I frae them and love departed:
    The tear was in my mother's ee--
        My father blest me--broken-hearted;
    My aulder brithers took my hand--
        The younkers a' ran frae me greetin!
    But, waur than this--I couldna stand
        My faithfu lassie's fareweel meetin!

    'Can I forget her partin kiss,
        Her last fond look, and true love token?
    Forget an hour sae dear as this!
        Forget!--the word shall ne'er be spoken!
    Forget!--na, though the foamin sea,
      High hills, and mony a sweepin river,
    May lie between their hearth and me,
      My heart shall be at hame for ever.'"

Now, when Christopher was pursued by his persecutor, and sought refuge
on the house-tops, sitting upon them much after the fashion of a tailor,
he carolled the song we have just quoted most merrily. Many, indeed,
wondered that he, never having known the hearth of either a father or a
mother, should have sung such a song; but it was so, and the orphan
delighted to sing it. Yet we often do many things for which we find it
difficult to assign a reason. There was one amusing trait in the
character of Christopher; and that was, that the more vehemently Mrs
Thornton scolded him, and the more bitter her imprecations against him
became, so, while he sat as a tailor on the house-top, did his song wax
louder and more loud, and his strain become merrier. We have heard women
talk of being ready to eat the nails from their fingers with vexation,
and on such occasions Mrs Thornton was so. But her anger did not amend
the disposition of Christopher, though it often drew down upon him the
indignation of her husband.

It has already been mentioned that he struck him once; and, having done
so, he felt no repugnance to do it frequently. For it is only the first
time that we commit a sin that we have the horror of its commission
before us. The orphan now became like unto Ishmael; for every man's hand
was against him, and I might say every woman's too. Now, during the
lifetime of Jenny, he had had everything his own way, and whatsoever he
said was done; some said that he was a spoiled child, and it was at
least evident that his humour was never thwarted. This caused him to
have the more enemies now; and every menial on the farm of Peter
Thornton became his persecutor. It is the common fate of all
favourites--to-day they are treated with abject adulation, and
to-morrow, if the sun which shone on them be clouded, no one thinks him
too low to look on them with disdain.

For more than three years, Christopher's life became a scene of
continual martyrdom. He was now, however, a tall and powerful young man
of seventeen; and many who had been in the habit of raising their hands
against him found it discreet to do so no more. But Mrs Thornton was not
of this number; she found some cause to lift her hand and strike the
orphan, as often as he came into her presence. Even Peter, kind as he
had once been, treated him almost as cruelly as his wife. It was not
that he disliked him as she did; but she had soured and fretted his
disposition; and, unconsciously to himself, from being the orphan's
friend, he became his terror and tormentor.

But one day, when the violence of Mrs Thornton far exceeded the bounds
of endurance, Christopher turned upon her, and, with the revenge of a
Spaniard glistening in his eyes, grasped her by the throat. She screamed
aloud for help, and her husband and the farm-servants rushed to her

"Back, back!" exclaimed Christopher. "Woman, give me the rings--give me
the rings!--they are mine--they were my mother's!"

Peter sprang forward, and grasped hold of him.

"Touch me not!" exclaimed the orphan; "I will be your slave no longer!
Give me the rings--my mother's rings!"

Peter stood aghast at the manner of the boy. His every look, his every
action, bespoke desperation. He thrust his clenched hand towards Mr
Thornton, exclaiming, "Touch me not!--the rings are mine!--I will have

"The muckle mischief confound ye!" exclaimed Peter, with a look of half
fear and bewilderment; "what in a' the world is the matter wi' ye,
Christopher? Is the laddie out o' his head?"

"The rings--my mother's rings!" cried the orphan; and, as he spoke, he
grasped more violently the hand of Mrs Thornton.

"The like o' that," said Peter, "I never saw in my existence. In my
opinion, the laddie is no in his right judgment."

But Christopher tore the rings from the hands of Mrs Thornton,
exclaiming, "Farewell--farewell!"

"The like o' that!" said Peter, in amazement, holding up his hands; "the
laddie is surely daft. Follow him, some o' ye."

Mrs Thornton sank down in hysterics. Her husband endeavoured to soothe
and restore her; and the men-servants followed Christopher. But it was
an idle task. No one had rivalled him in speed of foot, and they could
not overtake him.

"The time will come," he cried, as he ran, "when Peter Thornton will
repent his conduct towards me. Follow me not; for the first who shall
lay a hand upon me shall die."

The farm-servants who pursued him were awed by his manner, and, after
following him about a mile, turned back.

"Where can the laddie have gone to?" said Peter; "he never took ony o'
those fits in Jenny's time. I hope, wife, that ye have done nothing to
him that ye ought not to have done."

"Me done to him!" she cried; "ye will bring up your beggars, and this is
your reward."

"Mrs Thornton," answered he, "I am amazed and astonished to behold this
conduct in Christopher. For more than fourteen years he has been an
inmate beneath my roof; seldom have I had to quarrel him, and never
until you became my wife."

The words between Peter and his better half grew loud and angry; but,
instead of describing their matrimonial altercations, we shall follow
the orphan Christopher.

But, before accompanying him in his flight from the house of Peter
Thornton, we shall go back a few years, and take up another part of his

There resided in the neighbourhood in which Christopher had been brought
up one George Wilkinson, who had a daughter named Jessie. Christopher
and Jessie were school-mates together; and when the other children ran
hallooing from the school, they walked together, whispering, smiling at
each other. It was strange that affection should have sprung up in such
young hearts. But it was so.

Christopher became the one absorbing thought upon which the mind of
Jessie dwelt; and she became the day-dream of his being. She was
comparatively a child when he left the house of his foster-father--so
was he; yet, although they became thus early parted, they forgot not
each other. Young as she was, Jessie Wilkinson lay on her bed and wept
for the sake of poor Christopher. They indeed might be said to be but
the tears of a child; yet they were tears which we can shed but once.
Young as Jessie was, Christopher became the dream of her future
existence. She remembered the happy days that they had passed together,
when the hawthorn was in blossom or the bean was in the bloom, when they
loitered together, side by side, and the air was pregnant with
fragrance, while his hand would touch hers, and he would say, "Jessie!"
and look in her face and wonder what he meant to have said; and she
would answer him, "Christopher!" Still did those days haunt the
recollection of the simple girl; and as she grew in years and stature,
his remembrance became the more entwined around her heart. When she had
reached the age of womanhood, other wooers offered her their hand; but
she thought of the boy that had first loved her; and to him her memory
clung, as the evening dawn falleth on the hills. Her father was but a
poor man; and when many perceived the liking which Christopher May, the
adopted son and supposed heir of the rich Peter Thornton, entertained
for her, they said that nothing, or at least no good, would proceed from
their acquaintance. But they who so said did not truly judge of the
heart of Jessie. She was one of those who can love but once, and that
once must be for ever. In their early childhood, Christopher had become
a part of her earliest affection, and she now found it impossible to
forget him, or shake his remembrance from her bosom. It was certainly a
girl's love, and elderly people will laugh at it; but why should they
laugh? They were the feelings which they once cherished--the feelings
which were once dearest to them--the feelings without which they
believed they could not exist--and wherefore could they blame poor
Jessie for remembering what they had forgot?

Many years passed, and no one heard of Christopher. Even Peter Thornton
knew nothing of where he was, or what had become of him--the child of
his adoption was lost to him. He heard his neighbours upbraid him with
having treated the boy with cruelty; and Peter's heart was troubled. He
reflected upon his wife for her conduct towards the orphan, and it gave
rise to bickerings between them.

Hitherto we have spoken of the unknown orphan--we must now speak of an
unknown soldier. At the battle of Salamanca, amongst the men who there
distinguished themselves, there was a young serjeant whose feats of
valour attracted the notice of his superiors. Where the battle raged
fiercest, there were the effects of his arm made visible; his
impetuosity over all his enemies had attracted the notice of his
superior officers. But, in the moment of victory, when the streets were
lined with dead, the young hero fell, covered with bayonet wounds. A
field-officer, who had been an observer of his conduct, ordered a party
of his men to attempt his rescue. The life of the young hero was long
despaired of; and when he recovered, several officers, in admiration of
his courage, agreed to present him with a sword. It was beautifully
ornamented, and bore the inscription--

_"Presented to Christopher May, serjeant in the ---- regiment of
infantry, by several officers who were witnesses of the heroism he
displayed at the battle of Salamanca."_

The sword was presented to him at the head of his regiment, and the
officer who placed it in his hand addressed him, saying, "Young soldier,
the gallant bearing which you exhibited at Salamanca has excited the
admiration of all who beheld it. The officers of your own regiment,
therefore, and others, have deemed it their duty to present you with
this sword, as a reward of merit, and a testimony of the admiration with
which your heroism has inspired them. I have now the gratification of
placing it in the hands of a brave man. Take it, and if your parents yet
live, it will be a trophy of which they will be proud, and which your
posterity will exhibit with admiration."

"My parents!" said the young soldier, with a sigh; "alas, sir! I never
knew one whom I could call by the endearing name of father or of mother.
I am an orphan--an unknown one. I believe I am not even an Englishman,
but a native of the land for the freedom of which we now fight!"

"You a Spaniard!" said the officer, with surprise; "it is
impossible--neither your name nor features bespeak you to belong to this
nation. But you say that you never knew your parents--what know you of
your history?"

"Little, indeed," he replied; and as he spoke, the officers gathered
around him, and he continued--"I have been told that in the month of
May, four-and-twenty years ago, the dead body of a woman was found in a
farm-yard, about fifteen miles north of Newcastle. She was dressed in
Spanish costume, and a child of about three years of age hung weeping on
her bosom. I was that child; and I have been told that the few words I
could then lisp were Spanish. The kind-hearted wife of the honest
Northumbrian who found me brought me up as her own child; and while she
lived, I might almost have said I had a mother. But at her death, I
found indeed that I had neither parent, kindred, nor country, but that I
was in truth, what some called me in derision, '_The Unknown_.' I
entered the army, and have fought in defence of the land to which I
believe I belong. This only do I know of my history, or of who or what I

While the young serjeant spoke, every eye was bent upon him
interestedly; but there was one who was moved even to tears. He was an
officer of middle age, named Major Ferguson. He approached the gallant
youth, he gazed earnestly in his face.

"You say that you were about three years old," he said, "when you were
found clinging to the breast of your mother; have you no remembrance of
her--no recollection of the name by which you were then called?"

"None! none!" answered the other. "I sometimes fancy that, as the vague
remembrance of a dream, I recollect clinging around my mother's neck,
and kissing her cold lips; but whether it indeed be remembrance, or
merely the tale that has been often told me, I am uncertain. I often
imagine, also, that her beautiful features yet live in my memory, though
with the indistinctness of an ethereal being--like a vapour that is
dying away on the far horizon; and I am uncertain, also, whether the
fair vision that haunts me be indeed a dim remembrance of what my mother
was, or a creation of my brain."

The interest of the scene was heightened by the resemblance which Major
Ferguson and the young serjeant bore to each other. All observed it--all
expressed their surprise--and the major, in his turn, began his tale.

"Your features, young man," said he, "and your story, have drawn tears
to the eyes of an old soldier. Thirty years ago I was in this country,
and became an inmate in the house of a rich merchant in Madrid. His
name was Valdez, and he had an only daughter called Maria. When I first
beheld her, she was about nineteen, and a being more beautiful I had
never seen--I have not seen. Affection sprang up between us; for it was
impossible to look on her and not love. Her father, though he at first
expressed some opposition to our wishes, on the ground of my being a
Protestant, at length gave his consent, and Maria became my wife. For
several months our happiness was as a dream--as a summer sky where there
is no cloud. But our days of felicity were of short continuance. We have
all heard of the revengeful disposition of the Spanish people, and it
was our lot to be its victims. I have said that it was impossible to
look upon the face of Maria, and not love; and many of the grandees and
wealthiest citizens of Madrid sought her hand. Amongst the former was a
nephew of an Inquisitor. He vowed to have his revenge--and he has had
it. In the dead of night, a band of ruffians burst into the bedchamber
of Maria's father, and dragged him to the dungeons of the Inquisition.
For several weeks, and we could learn nothing of what had become of him;
but his property was seized and confiscated, as though he had been a
common felon. My wife was then the mother of an infant son, and I
endeavoured to effect our concealment, until an opportunity of escaping
to England might be found. We had approached within a hundred yards of
the vessel, when a band of armed men rushed upon us. They overpowered
me; and while one party bore away my wife and child, others dragged me
into a carriage, one holding a pistol to my breast, while another tied a
bandage over my eyes. They continued to drive with furious rapidity for
about six hours, when I was torn from the carriage, and dragged between
the ruffians through numerous winding passages. I heard the grating of
locks and the creaking of bolts, as they proceeded. Door succeeded door,
groaning on their unwilling hinges, as they ascended stairs, and
descended others, in an interminable labyrinth. Still the men who
hurried me onward maintained a sullen silence; and no sound was heard,
save the clashing of prison doors, and the sepulchral echo of their
footsteps ringing through the surrounding dungeons. They at length
stopped. A cord, suspended from a block in the roof was fastened round
my waist; and, when one, turning a sort of windlass, which communicated
with the other end of the cord, raised me several feet from the ground,
his comrade drew a knife, and cut asunder the fastenings that bound my
arms. While one, holding the handle of the machine, kept me hanging in
the air, other two applied a key to a large, square stone in the floor,
which, aided by a spring, they with some difficulty raised, and revealed
a yawning opening to a dungeon, yet deeper and more dismal than that
which formed its entrance. The moment my hands were at liberty, I tore
the bandage from my eyes, and perceiving, through the aid of a dim lamp
that flickered in a corner of the vault, the horror of my situation, I
struggled in desperation. But my threatenings and my groans were
answered only by their hollow echoes, or the more dismal laughter of my

"Down--down!" vociferated both voices to their companion, as the stone
was raised; and, in a moment, I was plunged into the dark mouth of the
dungeon. I uttered a cry of agony louder and longer than the rest; and,
as my body sunk into the abyss, I clutched its edge in despair. One of
the ruffians sprang forward, and, blaspheming as he raised his foot,
dashed his iron heels upon my fingers. Mine was the grasp of a dying
man; and, thrusting forward my right hand, I seized the ankle of the
monster, who attempted to kick me in the face. With my left I
strengthened my hold, and my body plunging downward with the movement,
dragged after me the wretch, who, uttering a piercing shriek, as his
head dashed on the brink of the fearful dungeon, escaped instantly from
my grasp, and with an imprecation on his tongue, he was plunged headlong
into darkness many fathoms deep. Startled by the cry of his comrade, the
other sprang from the machine by which he was lowering me into the
vault, and I in consequence descended with the violence of a stone
driven from a strong arm. But, before I reached the bottom, the cord by
which I hung was expended, and I swung in torture between the sides of
the dungeon. In this state of agony I remained for several minutes, till
one of the miscreants cutting the rope, I fell with my face upon the
bloody and mangled body of their accomplice; and the huge stone was
placed over us, enveloping both in darkness, solid and substantial as
the pit of wrath itself.

"A paralysing feeling of horror and surprise, and the violence with
which I fell upon the mangled body of my victim, for a time deprived me
of all consciousness of my situation; nor was it until the convulsive
groans of the bleeding wretch beneath me recalled me in some measure to
a sense of other miseries than my own, that a remembrance of the past,
and a feeling of the present, opened upon my mind, like the confused
terror of a dismal dream. I rose slowly to my feet, and, disengaging
myself from the rope by which I was suspended into the vault,
endeavoured to look around the walls of my prison-house--but all was
dark as the grave. Recollecting the part sustained in seizing me by the
wounded man, who still groaned and writhed at my feet, I darted fiercely
upon him; and hurling him from the ground, exclaimed, 'Villain!--tell me
or die!--where am I? or by whom am I brought here?' A loud, long yell of
terror, accompanied by violent and despairing struggles, like a wild
beast tearing from the paws of a lion, was the only answer returned by
the miserable being. And as the piteous and heart-piercing yell rang
round the cavern, and its echoes, multiplying in darkness, at length
died away, leaving silence more dolorous than ourselves, I felt as a
man from the midst of a marriage-feast, suddenly thrust into the cells
of Bedlam; where, instead of the music of the harp and the lute, was the
shriek and the clanking chains of insanity; for bridal ornaments, the
madman's straw; and for the gay dance, the convulsions of the maniac,
and the sorrowful gestures of idiocy. Every feeling of indignation
passed away--my blood grew cold--the skin moved upon my flesh--I again
laid the wretched man on the damp earth, and fearfully groped to the
opposite side of the dungeon.

"As I moved around, feeling through the dense darkness of my prison, I
found it a vast square, its sides composed merely of the rude strata of
earth or rock; and measuring nearly six times the length of my extended
arms. As often as I moved, bones seemed to crackle beneath my feet; and
a noise, like the falling of armour and the sounding of steel,
accompanied the crumbling fragments. Once I stooped to ascertain the
cause, and raising a heavy body, a part of it fell with a loud, hollow
crash among my feet, leaving the lighter portion in my hands. It was a
round bony substance, covered, and partly filled, with damp, cold dust.
I was neither superstitious nor a coward; but, as I drew my hand around
it, my body quivered, the hair upon my head moved, and my heart felt
heavy. It was the form of a human skull. The damp dust had once been the
temple of a living soul. My fingers entered the sockets of the eyes--the
teeth fell in my hands--and the still fresh and dewy hair twined around
it. I shuddered--it fell from my grasp--the chill of death passed over
me. The horrid conviction that I was immured in a living grave absorbed
every other feeling; and smiting my brow in horror, I threw myself, with
a groan, amidst the dead of other years.

"I again sprang to my feet, with the undetermined and confused wildness
of despair. The mournful howlings of the assassin continued to render
the horrid sepulchre still more horrible, and gave to its darkness a
deeper ghostliness. Dead to every emotion of sympathy, stricken with
dismal realities, and more terrible imaginations, yet burning for
revenge, directed by the howlings of the miserable man, and hesitating
to distinguish between them and their incessant echoes, stretching my
hands before me, I again approached him, to extort a confession of the
cause and place of my imprisonment, or rather living burial. Vainly I
raised him from the ground--threatening, soothing, and expostulation
were alike unavailing. On hearing my voice, the miserable being shrieked
with redoubled bitterness, plunged furiously, and gnashed his teeth,
fastening them, in the extremity of his frenzy, in his own flesh. His
fierce agony recalled to my bosom an emotion of pity; and, for a moment,
forgetful of my own injuries and condition, I thought only of relieving
his suffering; but my presence seemed to add new madness to his
tortures; and he tore himself from my hold with the lamentable yells of
a tormented mastiff, and the strength of a giant who, in the last throe
of expiring nature, grapples with his conqueror. He reeled wildly a few
paces, and fell, with a crash, upon the earth.

"Slowly and dismally the hours moved on, with no sound to measure their
progress, save the audible beating of my own heart, and the death-like
howling moan of my companion. As I leaned against the wall, counting
these dismal divisions of time, which appeared thus fearfully to mete
out the duration of my existence, through the black darkness, whose
weight had become oppressive to my eyeballs, I beheld, far above me, on
the opposite wall, a faint shadow, like the ghost of light, streaking
its side, but so indistinct and imperfect, I knew not whether it was
fancy or reality. With the earnestness of death, my eyes remained fixed
on the 'gloomy light;' and it threw upon my bosom a hope dim as itself.
Again I doubted its existence--deemed it a creation of my brain; and
groping along the damp floor, where my hand seemed passing over the ribs
of a skeleton, I threw a loose fragment in the air, towards the point
from whence the doubted glimmering proceeded; and perceived, for a
moment, as it fell, the shadow of a substance. Then, springing forward
to the spot, I gasped to inhale, with its feeble ray, one breath that
was not agony.

"Thirst burned my lips, and, to cool them, they were pressed against the
damp walls of the prison; but my tongue was still dry--my throat
parched--and hunger began to prey upon me. While thus suffering, a faint
light streamed from a narrow opening in the roof of the vault. Slowly a
feeble lamp was lowered through the aperture, and descended within two
or three feet of my head. A small basket, containing a portion of bread
and a pitcher of water, suspended by a cord, was let down into the
vault. I seized the pitcher, as I would have rushed upon liberty; and
raising it to my lips, as the pure, grateful beverage allayed the fever
of my thirst, I shed a solitary tear, and, in the midst of my misery,
that tear was a tear of joy--like the morning-star gilding the horizon,
when the surrounding heavens are wrapped in tempest. With it the
feelings of the Christian and the man met in my bosom; and, bending over
my fellow-sufferer, I applied the water to his lips. The poor wretch
devoured the draught to its last drop with greediness.

"The presence and the unceasing groans of my companion--yea, the dungeon
and darkness themselves--were forgotten in the one deadening and bitter
idea, that my wife and child were also captives, and in the power of
ruffians. If any other thought was indulged a moment, it was longing for
liberty, that I might fly to their rescue--and it was then only that I
became again sensible of captivity; and my eyes once more sought the
dubious gleam that stretched fitfully across the wall, becoming more
evident to perception as I became inured to the surrounding blackness.
Hope burned and brightened, as I traced the source of its dreamy
shadows; and from thence weaved plans of escape, which, in the
calculation of fancy, were already as performed; though, before reason
and common possibilities, they would have perished as the dewy nets
that, with the damps of an autumnal morning, overspread the hawthorn
with their spangled lacework, and, before the rising sunbeam, shrink
into nothing.

"But gradually my grief and despair subsided, and gave place to the
cheering influence of hope, and the resolution of attempting my escape;
and I rose to eat the bread and drink the water of captivity, to
strengthen me for the task. For many hours, the presence of my companion
had been forgotten; he still continued to howl, as one whom the horrors
of an accusing conscience were withholding from the grasp of death; and
I, roused from the reverie of my feelings and projects at the sound of
his sufferings, hastened to apply water and morsels of bread to the lips
of my perishing fellow-prisoner; for bread and water had been lowered
into the vault.

"In order to carry my plan of escape into effect, for the first time,
aided by the lamp that was suspended over me, I gazed inquisitively, and
with a feeling of dismay, around the Golgotha in which I was immured.
There lay my hideous companion, the foam of pain and insanity gurgling
from his mouth; beside him the skeleton of a mailed warrior, and around,
the uncoffined bones of four others, partly covered with their armour,

     'The brands yet rusted in their bony hands.'

"Although prepared for such a scene, I placed my hands before my eyes,
shuddering at the thought of becoming as one of those--of being their
companion while I lived--of lying down by the side of a skeleton to die!
The horror of the idea fired anew my resolution, and added more than
human strength to my arm. I again eagerly sought the direction of the
doubtful gleam, which formerly filled me with hope; and was convinced
that from thence an opening might be effected, if not to perfect
liberty, to a sight of the blessed light of heaven, where freedom, I
dreaded not, would easily be found. Filled with determination, which no
obstacle could impede, I took one of the swords, which had lain by the
side of its owner untouched for ages, and with this instrument commenced
the laborious and seemingly impossible task of cutting out a flight of
steps in the rude wall, and thereby gaining the invisible aperture from
which something like light was seen to emanate. The ray proceeded from
an extreme angle of the dungeon, and apparently at its utmost height.
The materials on which I had to work were chiefly a hard granite rock,
and other lighter, but scarce more manageable strata.

"Several anxious and miserable weeks thus passed in sluggish succession.
Half of my task was accomplished; and hope, with impatience, looked
forward to its completion. I still divided my scanty meals with my
companion, who, although recovered from the bruises occasioned by his
fall, was become more horrible and fiend-like than before. As his body
resumed its functions, his mind became the terrible imaginings of a
guilty conscience. He had either lost, or forgotten, the power of
walking upright, and prowled, howling round the dungeon, on his hands
and feet; while his dark bushy beard and revolting aspect gave him more
the manner and appearance of a wild beast than a human being.

"Our portion of food being barely sufficient for the sustenance of one,
hunger had long been added to the list of our sufferings; but
particularly to those of the maniac. And, with the cunning peculiar to
such unfortunates, he watched the return of the basket, which was daily
lowered with provisions, and frequently before I--who, absorbed in the
completion of my task, forgot or heeded not my jailer's being within
hearing--could descend to the ground, he would grasp the basket, swallow
off the water at a draught, and hurry with the bread to a corner of a
dungeon; thus leaving me without food for the next twenty-four hours.

"It was at the period when I had half completed my object, that my
companion, springing, as was his wont, upon the basket, before I could
approach to withhold him, succeeded in draining off the contents of a
goblet, in which a few drops of a dark-coloured liquid still remained;
and the pitcher of water was untouched. The wretched maniac had
swallowed the draught but a few minutes, when, rolling himself together,
his screams and contortions became more frightful than before, and
increased in virulence for an hour. He lay motionless a few seconds,
gasping for breath; then, springing suddenly to his feet, he gazed
wistfully above and around him, with a look of extreme agony, and
exclaiming, 'Heaven help me!' he rushed fiercely towards the wall in the
opposite direction to where I was attempting to effect my escape, gave
one furious pull at what appeared the solid rock, and, with a groan,
fell back, and expired.

"When the horror occasioned by his death in some degree abated, the
singularity of the manner in which he tore at the wall of the dungeon,
fixed my attention; and, with almost frantic joy, I perceived that a
portion of the hitherto thought impenetrable rock, had yielded several
inches to his dying grasp. I hastily removed the body, and pulling
eagerly at the unloosed fragment, it fell upon the ground, a rough
unhewn lump of granite, leaving an opening of about two feet square in
the rude rocky wall, from which it was so cut, as to seem to feeling and
almost appearance a solid part of it.

"My task was now abandoned. The gleam of light, which for weeks was to
me an object of such intense interest, proceeded from a mere hairbreadth
cleft in the rock. Taking up a sword which lay upon the ground, I drew
my body into the aperture formed by the removal of the piece of rock;
and creeping slowly on my hands and knees, groping with the weapon
before me, I at length found the winding and dismal passage sufficiently
lofty to permit me to stand erect. I seemed enveloped in an interminable
cavern, now opening into spacious chambers, clothed with crystal; again
losing itself in low passages, or narrow chinks of the rock, and
suddenly terminating in a slippery precipice, beneath which gurgling
waters were heard to run. Hours and hours passed; still I was groping
onward; when I suddenly found my hopes cut off, by the interposition of
a precipice. I probed fearfully forward with the sword, but all was an
unsubstantial void; I drew it on each side, and then it met but the
solid walls. I knelt, and reached down the sword to the length of my
arm, but it touched nothing. In agony, I dropped the weapon, by its
sound to ascertain the depth; and, delighted, found it did not exceed
eight or ten feet. I cautiously slid down, and groping around, again
placed my hand upon the sword. Though my heart occasionally sank within
me, yet the overcoming of each difficulty lent its inspiring aid to
overcome its successor. Often every hope appeared extinct. Now I
ascended, or again descended the dropping and crystalled rocks; now
crept into openings, which suddenly terminated, and turning again,
anxiously listened to the sound of the rippling water as my only guide.
Often, in spite of every precaution, I was stunned with a blow from the
abrupt lowness of the roof, or suddenly plunged to the arms in the
numerous pools, whose waters had been dark from their birth.

"Language cannot convey an idea of the accumulating horrors of my
situation. Struggling with suffocation, with a feeling more awful than
terror, and with despair, the agony of darkness must be _experienced_ to
be imagined.

"Still I moved on; and suddenly, when ready to sink, wearied, fainting,
hopeless, the glorious light of day streamed upon my sight. I bounded
forward with a wild shout; but the magnificent sun, bursting from the
eastern heavens, blinded my unaccustomed gaze.

"I again found that I was free: but my wife--my child--where were they?
It was many years before I learned that the nephew of the inquisitor,
who had sought her hand, having died, she regained her liberty, and fled
with our infant son to Scotland, to seek the home of her lost husband.
Since then I have never heard of them again."

When the major had thus concluded his narrative,

"Here," said Christopher, "are two rings which were taken from the
fingers of my mother--both bear inscriptions."

The old officer gazed upon them.

"They were hers--my Maria's!" he exclaimed; "I myself placed them upon
her fingers. Son of my Maria, thou art mine!"

The major purchased a commission for his long-lost son; and when peace
was proclaimed throughout Europe, they returned to Northumberland
together, where Christopher gave his sword as a memorial to his
foster-father, Peter Thornton, and his hand to Jessie Wilkinson.


In the contemplation of the affairs of the world, there is perhaps
nothing that strikes a philosophical observer with more wonder than what
has been quaintly called the mutability of truth. With the exception of
some of the best ascertained laws of matter, and the evidences and
sanctions of our holy religion, there is scarcely anything around us
that can be said to be absolutely determined and ascertained in all its
bearings--including the influential cause, in a chain extending its
unseen links through many minds; the proximate cause, involved in the
dark recesses of the soul of the actor; and the effects, spread forth in
endless ramification through society. Men are judged of, condemned,
hanged, reviled, ruined, elevated, applauded, and rewarded upon less
than a thousandth part of the real moral truth that is evident to the
eye of the Almighty; and it too often happens, that what seems to be
best ascertained by the united testimony of many soothfast witnesses, is
after all little better than a lie, or an invention of men's minds,
rolled up in the clouds of prejudice, selfishness, or hallucination.
This truth, of no truth, is apparent to all thinking men; and yet how
melancholy is it to reflect that we are so constructed that we cannot
but live and act upon the principle and practice that we see the whole,
when we see only an insignificant part, that, if observed in the midst
of the general array brought out by divine light, would appear not only
a speck, but by the influence of surrounding evidence, changed in its
nature, and reversed in its object and bearing! It was but a partial,
though a striking illustration of this fact, that the murder which Sir
Walter Raleigh saw committed with his own eyes from the Tower window
came to him so distorted and changed, through the medium of public and
judicial report, that he could scarcely recognise in it the lineaments
of the vision of his senses; for if the act he witnessed performed in
the streets of London were falsified by the errors or inventions of man,
how little could have been known of the motives that led to its
commission! This subject, if carried out, might open up a dreadful array
of the effects of man's conceit and blindness, exhibiting innocent
individuals paying the penalty of death for the crimes of others;
characters without a stain immolated at the shrine of public prejudice;
and innocence suffering in ten thousand different ways under the cruel
scorn of the bloodthirsty Chiun of a blind yet self-sufficient public.
We are led into these observations by the facts of a curious case of
false implication that occurred near Edinburgh many years ago, from
which, besides the interest it may inspire, we may learn the lesson of
that charity which our blessed Saviour laboured so much to make a ruling
principle in the men of the world, but with a success that might form a
melancholy theme for the fair investigations of philanthropists.

In the village of Old Broughton, situated on the north of the old town
of Edinburgh, and now nearly swallowed up by the surrounding masses of
architectural grandeur that compose the new town of that proud city,
there lived (we love the good old style of beginning a story) the old
widow of William Dempster, who long officiated in the capacity of
precentor in the ancient kirk of the Tron; where his voice, loud as that
of Cycloborus, stirred the sleeping power of vocal worship in the
breasts of the good citizens. His voice had long been mute, not as that
of Elihu, who trembled to speak to the Lord, but as that of those who
lie in the mould till that day when there shall be no hindrance by the
chilling hand of death, to sing the praises of the King of heaven and
earth. Yet the voice of thanksgiving was not silent in the house of the
widow and fatherless, where old Euphan, as she was styled, and her
pretty daughter Menie, lived that life whose enjoyments the proud may
despise, but whose end and reward they may envy in vain. It may not be
that it was their choice (as whose choice is it?) to be poor; but it was
their wisdom to know, as expressed by old Boston, that it may be more
pleasant to live in a palace, but it is more easy to die in a cottage.
The characters of these individuals, who happily never dreamed of
forming heroines in the "Border Tales," can be best appreciated by those
who lived in the last century; for in these jaunty days, when the sun of
perfectibility is beginning to dawn on the moral horizon of a once
sinful world, the contentment that is derived from a trust in heaven,
and the pride that is begotten of a virtue that rejoices in itself, are
more often pictured by the pen of the fictioneer than found in the place
and personages that be. The representations of our old painter, George
Jamesone, would be true as applied to Euphan Dempster and her daughter;
for the dresses of the women of Scotland underwent small change until
the eventful era of the nineteenth century; but we need them not--for
our faithful memory has treasured the description of our parent, who
lived to set forth the old representative of the Covenanters, sitting
with her linsey-woolsey gown, of green or cramosie, made close in the
sleeves--the body tight, and peaked in the form of the old separate
bodice--the huge swelling skirt of many folds, twined out at the
pocket-holes, and open in front, to show the bright-coloured petticoat
of callimankey--her round-eared mutch that served the purpose of bonnet
and coif--her clear-bleached tuck, with its row of mother-of-pearl
buttons running down the front--and her hose of white woollen, that
disappeared at the extremities in the shoe, whose high-turned heels gave
a kind of dignity to the step of the poor. The dress of the mother in
those days was almost that of the daughter, with the exception of the
head-gear, which, in the latter, was limited to a band of black velvet
(the _bandeau_), to restrain the flowing locks; and, high as the word
velvet may sound, there were few maidens, however poor, that wanted the
small strip of the costly material that now is seen covering the whole
persons of the wives of rich tradesmen.

Such were the external characteristics of the inhabitants of the old
red-tiled dwelling, so long known by the name of Dominie Dempster's
House, in the village of Old Broughton; and, if we will form a character
out of a combination of the virtues that dignified and graced the wives
and daughters of the old Cameronians, we might make a fair approach to
the dispositions and habits of this solitary pair, whose earthly stay
and support being gone, trusted implicitly to Heaven, for what Heaven
has seldom denied to the good. The mother was one of those
happily-constituted beings, whose minds are so completely formed, as it
were, upon the Bible, that not only were her actions regulated by the
precepts of the holy book, but her thoughts were naturally and almost
unconsciously expressed in Scripture language; nor could it be said
that, dearly as she loved the old defenders of our faith, who reared
their temples among the mountains, and died on the altars, she imitated
their speech and manners merely because she loved their virtues--she
only drew from the same fountain from which they drew; and the water
that slaked their thirst in the wilderness of their persecution
sustained her in the hour of her privation. Obeying the holy behest,
"Let thine heart retain my words," she made the religion of Christ "the
life of her soul;" and that which was a part of her spirit could not
fail to regulate her conversation. An heir of an ever-blessed eternity,
in which she believed soon to enter, the only worldly feeling that bound
her to life was her desire to see her beloved Menie exhibit the fruits
of her parental culture as fair to the eye of virtue, as the many
simple beauties of her person--her blooming Scotch face, with the blue
eye, and cheek that rivalled the peach in softness and colour; her
mermaiden hair, and the graces of an almost perfect harmony of
proportions--were to the eye of the admirer of female loveliness. And
this the mother had already in part seen in the evolution of all those
estimable qualities of the heart, that, when joined to physical beauty,
form the fairest object among all the fair creatures of this fair but
fleeting world.

It is a trite saying, that female beauty seldom brings happiness to the
possessor, even when it is combined with that goodness that ought to
guard the children of virtue from the evils of life; and this was to
some extent verified by almost the first of the acts of our younger
heroine's intercourse with the world; for she secured the heart of a
lover even against her own will, and, with the unsought-for boon, got
unwittingly the envy, and deep but concealed hatred, of her earliest
friend and companion. The son of the farmer of the Mains of Inverleith,
a property in the neighbourhood, George Wallace, had for some time been
paying his addresses to Margaret Grierson, the daughter of the occupant
of one of the small cottages of Broughton; and his success was in
proportion to the attractions of a fine manly figure, and considerable
power of that species of conversation which, with love ever on its
wings, finds a ready access to the hearts of women. Though his passion
had not been declared, it had, by the anticipative selfishness of the
sex, been assumed and claimed by the object of his attentions; and Menie
had been so far made a confidant of her companion, as to be intrusted
with the secret of a love which had as yet been declared only on one
side. The communication was sufficient to prevent the simple friend,
even if there had been in her disposition any spirit of rivalship--a
feeling which found no place in her breast--from presenting even an
opportunity for Wallace discovering in her qualities with which her
companion could not have competed; and she uniformly maintained, in the
presence of the lovers, a quiet reserve, which afforded pleasure to the
one, but, perhaps, only tended to quicken in the other a comparison that
operated in a manner contrary to the wishes of the confidant. Time, and
the frequent meetings and wanderings by the banks of the Leith--then
comparatively a sweet and rural stream, especially about the low grounds
of Warriston and Inverleith--soon elicited the merits of the two
companions; and Wallace was not slow to perceive that, fair and
interesting as his first object had appeared to him, she was eclipsed in
all the finest attributes of woman by her who had never taken the
trouble to display her estimable properties. The reserve of the one--the
result of a natural modesty, and of a strict training according to the
rules of the wisest of men--set off the freedom of the other as little
better than forwardness; while her excellent sense, and an inborn
susceptibility of the finest and purest feelings of the sex, whether
stirred by the flowers of the field arrayed in their simple beauties, or
the heaven-born genius of virtue working its pleasant ways in the hearts
of man, brought out, by a contrast dangerous to her friend, the defects
of a character that Wallace, in his first blindness, had taken for
perfections. The result might have been anticipated by all but the
unwitting possessor herself of virtues of which she was unconscious; and
it was with no affected surprise that, one night, when walking by the
moonlight along the brattling Leith, she heard poured into her ear a
strain of impassioned sentiments that ought to have been reserved for
another, who had a prior and a better right to them.

The startled girl flew home to her mother, and narrated, as nearly as
she could recollect, the high-flown expressions of Wallace's changed
love; not forgetting to add, that the young man had declared upon his
honour that he had never declared any affection for her companion.
Overpowered with sorrow for her friend, the tear glistened in her eye as
she sat and told her simple tale to her mother, who lifted up her face
from the open book, to observe in the delicate workings of a
well-trained heart the fruits of her maternal care.

"Your sorrow for Margaret Grierson, child," she said, "is a scented
offering to auld friendships; but 'when thou wilt do good, know to whom
thou doest it, so shalt thou be thanked for thy benefits.' I like not
the bearing and manners o' yer companion, for I hae seen in her the
office o' whisperer, and the fascinations o' the singer, wha would
kindle love by her smiles, and unholy discord by her wiles. Her vanity,
like the gaudy streamers o' her head-gear, winnows wi' every wind but
that which comes frae the airth, whar God's chastening tribulations hae
their holy birth. Ye may be surprised to hear me speak thus o' ane wha
has sae lang enjoyed the first place in your young affections; but my
auld een hae a quick turn in them when vanity rideth abroad. She has
other lovers than George Wallace, and other places and other
trystin-trees than the banks o' Leith, or the auld willow that grows by
the horse's pool, at the foot o' the bonny brae o' Warriston. Sorrows
she for George Wallace, think ye, when she sits amang the ruins o' the
hospital o' Greenside, and hears the love tale o' vanities frae the lips
o' secret lovers?"

"A' that's new to me, mother," answered the daughter. "I never dreamed
that Peggy had ony ither than George. Wha are they, and how cam ye by
the knowledge?"

"Never mind, Menie," said the mother, "how I cam by the knowledge.
Though my eyes, like Jeremiah's, are auld, and do fail with tears, I hae
neither the blindness o' the mole nor the deafness o' the adder. But let
thae things alone; we hae nae right to pry into the secrets o' our
neighbours' ways, albeit they may savour o' the vanities o' Baal. It is
enough for me that I warn ye against the 'lamps o' fire' that scorch as
well as light. George Wallace is a rich and an honest man's son; and if,
as I believe, he has plighted nae troth with the follower o' vanities
and double-loves, ye're no bound to reject his affections. Can your
heart receive him, Menie?"

"Ou ay," replied the maiden, as she held down her head, and seemed
afraid of the strange sounds of her own words. "I hae seen nae man yet
like George Wallace, and I hae chided my puir heart for sometimes
envying Peggy o' his affections. But are we not told to change not a
freend for the gold of Ophir?"

"Surely, child," responded the mother--"a true freend o' God's election
is better than fine gold; but she who seeketh vanity understands not the
name o' freendship, and her kisses are as those o' the serpent. Seek nae
mair the society o' Margaret Grierson; leave her to her secret thoughts
and secret lovers, and turn your heart to him wha has routh o' means to
support ye, and whase love is the love o' the heart that kens nae

The counsel of her parent was ever a law to the daughter; but there was
something in the advice she now gave that exercised an influence over
Menie's heart, or rather there was something in the heart itself, of a
nature hitherto unknown to its possessor, that acknowledged and
recognised the influence as more congenial to her feelings than any
authority of spoken wisdom (though founded on the words of the son of
Sirach) she had yet submitted to. The secret of this feeling lay in the
well-springs of an affection that had been pent up by her sense of
honour; but now, when she found that she was justified in giving her
heart its natural freedom to love the choice of her judgment, she lent
in aid of its operations the creations of a young and glowing fancy,
which soon pictured so many exquisite forms of beauty, both of mind and
person, in the object of her rising affection, that, before another
morning had dawned on her, she had become versant in the secret and
sweet mystery of sighs and throbbings, hopes, fears, and aspirations, of
experienced lovers. She now wished as ardently for another meeting with
Wallace, as she had done for a separation on the occasion of their last
interview. Nor did she wish in vain; for he, with a passion roused into
a warmer flame by her resisting coyness and startled apprehension,
sought her anxiously, to renew his suit, and remove all the scruples of
conscience that lay in the way of a passion to be, as he hoped,
returned. He little knew that part of the work had been already done to
his hand by a mother's cherished counsel; and his joy may be more easily
conceived than expressed, even by the electric words of love's inspired
power, when he found that Menie not only loved him, but conceived she
had a good title to repay him with a warmth of affection equal to that
of his own. He was now a frequent visiter at her mother's house; and
though he knew that all his motions were watched by her whom he had thus
abruptly, though, perhaps, not without just cause, forsaken, he kept
steady in his new attachment, and avowed openly a love of which the best
man of his station in Scotland might have been proud.

The affection that is hallowed by the blessing of such a parent as
Menie's possessed a good title to be excepted from the ordinary
proverbial fate of the loves of the humble; but, unfortunately, the
adverse circumstances, that, like harpies, follow the victims of the
tender passion, acknowledged no limit to the sources from which they
spring. The rejected maiden pursued her successful rival with all the
bitterness of disappointment and envy; odious calumnies were fabricated,
given to the tongue of inveterate scandal, and found their way to the
sensitive ear of her whom they were intended to ruin. Unacquainted with
the ways of a bad world, every individual in which she judged by the
test of her own pure feeling--the universal error of young and
unchilled hearts--her pain was equalled by her surprise, and she sought
consolation on the breast of her lover, as they reclined upon the
sloping and wood-covered banks of Inverleith.

"I hae bought ye dearly," said she, as she looked up in his face through
her tears, "when, for your love, I paid the peace o' mind that was never
troubled with the breath o' a dishonourable suspicion. The hail o'
Broughton rings with the report that I betrayed my freend to secure your
affections, and that I am unworthy o' them, as being a follower o'
unlawful loves. My eyes hae never been dry since my heart was struck
with the false charge. I hae looked to heaven, and found nae relief. My
mother has tried to comfort me, by telling me o' the waes o' Ane higher
than mortal man, wha was pursued to the death by envy and malice, and
wha yet triumphed. You, George, hae alane the power to comfort me. Tell
me that ye heed them not, and I will yet try to hold up my head among
the honest daughters o' men."

"If ye heed them as little's I heed them, Menie," replied he, "there
will be sma skaith though muckle scorn. Dry up your tears, love, and
tell me if it is true" (and he laughed in playful mockery of her fears)
"that you keep the weekly tryst, by the elm in Leith Loan, with the
notorious Mike M'Intyre, the city guardsman?"

"George, George!--Oh man, how can ye mak light o' the sorrows o' yer ain
Menie?" said the girl, as she heard the calumny come from the lips of
her lover. "That is Margaret Grierson's charge against me; and, if ye
knew that every word o' the falsehood gaes to my heart like the tongue
o' the deaf adder--ay, even though they come on the wings o' yer playfu
laugh--ye wad rather gie me the tears o' your pity than the consolation
o' your mirth."

"And what better way, Menie, could I tak to prove my faith in my love's
honesty," said he, as he clasped her in his arms, "than by dispersing
the poisoned lie by the breath o' a hearty laugh. Nae mair o't--nae mair
o't, Menie--I believe it not; and that ye may hae some faith in my
statement, I'll put a question to ye. Will ye answer me fairly, wi' the
truth and sincerity that your mother draws frae the fountain o' a'
guidness--her auld Bible--and pours into yer heart in the dreary hour o'
late, even as ye retire into the keepin o' Him who looks down on
sleepin' innocence with the eye of love?"

"Ay will I, George," answered the maiden, "with the openness and
sincerity with which I lay my sins on the footstool o' Heaven's mercy."

"Will ye consent to be George Wallace's wife on Fastern's E'en, and
leave the city guardsman to your rival?"

"I am already yours, George," answered she, as she buried her head in
his bosom, to conceal her blushes--"I am already yours, by a plighted
faith that never will be broken; and it may be even as you say; but I
wish nae ill to my enemies, and will spae nae waur fortune to Margaret
Grierson, wha has injured me, than that she may get as guid a husband as
you will, I trust, be to me."

"Kind, guid creature!" responded Wallace. "If the first part o' yer
answer maks ye mine for life, the ither proves that ye are worthy o' me;
for she wha wishes nae ill to her enemies will never do wrang by her
freends. Gae and report to your mother what I hae said. The time is yet
distant: but hope gies light wings to the hours o' lovers."

The two parted; and Menie, seeking the nearest way to her home, hurried
along, her heart beating high with unutterable emotions, and with all
the pain she had felt from the evil reports of her rival drowned in the
intoxicating pleasure of being the betrothed of the man she loved. The
moon, which had been throwing her silver light o'er the dark foliage
that overhung the Leith, and catching a look of her own face in the
waters through the opening branches, was now half-concealed behind a
cloud; and as the maiden passed along by the side of the stream, she
required to restrain the flutter of her spirits, to enable her to thread
her way by the narrow footpath. The ecstatic emotions of her novel
situation, and the hurry of her progress, made her breathless, and she
paused to recover herself, when she observed two individuals sitting by
the side of the water. A loud laugh struck her ear; and she did not
require to speculate as to the individuals from whom it came--for a
voice she too well knew followed, with words of reproach that shook her
to the heart. It was that of her former companion; and a glance
satisfied her that she was in the society of that very individual,
M'Intyre, the city guardsman, with whose name her own had been so
cruelly and invidiously connected. In an instant the notorious
individual was by her side.

"I've waited for ye, Menie," he began, "till the mune has waned and sunk
behind the Pentlands. How hae ye been sae lang, woman, when ye ken sae
weel the impatience o' a true lover, and that I maun be on the city
watch on the morrow, and canna meet ye? Mak amends, and let us roam a
wee amang the birken woods, whar the absence o' the mune will be nae
hindrance to our loves."

And before she could reply, he had his arms round her neck, and was
pulling her away among the trees. The apparition of the very individual
of whom she had been conversing with Wallace, and whose name was a
terror to her, with the fearful consciousness of the pollution of his
embrace, took away from her all power of resistance; her knees trembled;
she tried to reply to him, but could not; and a weak scream, that almost
died in her throat, was the only show of ineffectual resistance she
could oppose to his efforts. A few minutes enabled her to rally her
powers; and she had turned to wrest herself from his arms, when she saw
Wallace standing at a little distance among the trees. He had that very
instant come up; and there was something in the cool, piercing look he
threw at her, that repressed the inchoate scream for relief that she
struggled to utter; and the hands she held out to him imploring his
succour fell nerveless within the grasp of the man who held her. Upon
the point of fainting, she would have sunk to the ground, had she not
been upheld by the force of her tormentor; and, in turning her eyes
again in the direction of Wallace, she observed he had vanished. The
scream, no longer restrained, burst forth; but it came too late; for, if
Wallace heard it in his retreat, he might justly attribute it to his own
appearance at a time when he might suppose himself an unwelcome
intruder. At that moment two men came in sight; and the city guardsman,
probably afraid of being recognised, released her from his grasp, and
retreated to the position he had left by the side of her who sat
awaiting in laughter for his arrival.

The instant she was liberated, the frightened maiden flew with the speed
of terror homewards--all her energies wound up in the mere effort to
increase her irregular progress, and without the capability of feeling
the true and fearful circumstances of her position. Arrived at her
mother's house, she sprang forward in a state bordering on despair, and
threw herself on a chair by the side of the fire, opposite to her
parent, who was engaged in her usual evening exercise of searching the
inspired volume for the balm of the consolation of age and poverty.

"What is this, Menie?" cried the mother, as she saw her daughter
trembling under the influence of nervous terror. "Has yer enemy been at
her auld wark again? and have a' yer mother's injunctions failed to get
ye to rest on the sure foundation o' conscious innocence? It canna be
that George Wallace has listened to the poisoned breath o' scandal and
envy. Speak, child; and frae this book shall ye get the support that no
son or daughter of Adam can lend to the children o' sorrow."

"Let me think, mother--let me collect mysel!" responded the girl, as she
raised her hand to her head, and threw back her locks. "Whar am I? what
spell is on me? Am I to be a bride on Fastern's E'en, or a disowned and
heart-broken maiden? Why did he no speak to me--or why did I no speak to
him? I will to him yet, and explain a', and the men will speak for me;
but wha were they? Ah, they were strangers! and there's nane to warrant
the words o' truth."

And rising, she made again towards the door, apparently with the
confused intention of hurrying to Inverleith Mains; but her mother rose
and restrained her, and she again sat down to collect her thoughts. It
was some time before she could give so connected an account of the
strange circumstances that had occurred within the space of a short
hour, as to be understood by the mother; but, by questioning and
cross-questioning, the latter came to the truth--and a truth of
dangerous import she soon observed it to be. She had already, in her own
person, suffered from the blighting effects of prejudice, and she
trembled as she surveyed the difficulties that lay in the way of a
proper explanation. The poison of a false conviction had too certainly
already entered the breast of Wallace, and she knew that its workings
might be made only the more inveterate, the greater the efforts resorted
to for eradicating it. In all her trials, however, her refuge was the
book that supported her fathers in the mountain glens, when the storm of
persecution raged over a struggling land; and, enjoining her daughter to
offer up with her their prayers to the throne of grace, she sought from
the true fountain the means of relieving them from the danger which
threatened innocence and poverty. The night passed, and the morning
came, when it was resolved that they both together should repair to the
residence of Wallace, and openly declare to him the truth of the
perplexed appearances which had too evidently operated on his mind to
their disadvantage; but a little farther consideration showed them the
inexpediency of thus assuming that the conduct of Menie required
explanation; and the resolution that at last prevailed was, to wait for
some time to ascertain what might be the intentions and motions of
Wallace, whom they expected to call at the house, according to his wont,
as he passed to the city. The day passed away, but there was no
appearance of him; and, on the day following, it was ascertained, from
one of his father's servants, who was passing with grain to the market,
that he had gone to the borders of England to bury a relation, where, it
was expected, he would remain for a considerable time, to arrange the
affairs of the deceased, to whom his father was nearest heir-at-law.
This intelligence made it only more certain that the prejudice had taken
root; because, otherwise, both duty and inclination would have forced
him to pay a visit to his betrothed before his departure, however sudden
or unexpected that might have been.

A month passed, and Wallace had not yet returned; but Fastern's Even was
still a month distant, and every day brought the hope of a letter, at
least, to explain the cause of his conduct, and point out his future
proceedings, whether "for feid or favour." But no letter came; and all
their inquiries ended in the intelligence that his relative's affairs
were not yet wound up, and that some weeks yet would elapse before he
could return. The situation, meanwhile, of the victim of prejudice was
painful, and gradually becoming hopeless. Her prior sufferings from the
stings of calumny were alleviated by the expectation that the generous
mind of Wallace would scorn the schemes of her enemy, and her marriage
would refute the aspersions, and place her beyond the reach of their
poison; but now her relief was not only apparently cut off, but
changed, by some adverse fate, into a proof--a confirmation of what had
been alleged against her character. Every day found her a mourner; and
it was only after nightfall that she could summon up resolution to go
abroad on the small messages that domestic wants rendered necessary.
Involved in mystery as were both mother and daughter, and pained as the
latter was beyond endurance, there yet hung over them a still darker
cloud of misfortune, equally mysteriously and fortuitously collected and
formed, and equally cruel in its unmerited discharge on the heads of
innocent victims. Misery of the deepest and most complicated kind seems
often to be evolved from the most trifling causes, as if to show the
proud sons of men, by a lesson that pains while it mocks them, the utter
darkness of that blindness which they mistake for the light of a
concealed reason. One evening, Menie had occasion to proceed to the
small village of Canonmills, on a message to a friend; and, as usual,
she waited till nightfall, to avoid the gaze of the neighbours, whom her
fevered fancy exhibited to her (to a great extent untruly) as
participators in the circulation of the calumnies under which she
suffered. Wrapped up in a cloak, she hurried out, and proceeded down the
narrow loan that then led to the village she intended to visit. Her step
was stealthy, and her eye filled with secret shame, even among the
shades of night. She reached the house, where she staid for a short
time, and then set out on return, which she was inclined to accomplish
as quickly and stealthily as she had done her progress forth; but she
had not proceeded many paces from the village, when she observed a small
wicker corban or basket lying by the side of a hedgerow that then ran
along the lower part of the loan. There appeared to be no one near it;
and, impelled by a natural curiosity, she proceeded forward and
inspected it. There was on it, she observed, a bundle, so carefully
pinned up, that, though she applied her fingers hastily to it, she
could not penetrate its folds. On lifting up the strange deposit, she
found that it felt heavy. She stood irresolute, and again looked around
her, but saw no one. She was flurried; and her desire to get home urged
her to take it up, and proceed hurriedly along the road, with the view
of taking it to the house with her, to examine it leisurely, and restore
it to the owner, in the event of his casting up. She obeyed the natural
impulse; and, as she ran home with the unknown charge, she repeatedly
cast her eyes about, to see if any one appeared to claim it; but she
still saw no one; and, in the space of a few minutes, she reached the
door of the house, and hurried in. She placed the burden upon the
floor--telling her mother, at the same time, that she had found it on
the road, and brought it home to see what it contained, as the bundle
was so carefully tied up that she could not unfold it on the highway.
Her mother put on her spectacles; and, bending down, proceeded, with the
aid of Menie, to undo the cloth, when, to their surprise, they evolved
from the many foldings of an envelope the dead body (still warm) of a
new-born babe. Menie fainted at the grim spectacle, and the mother ran
for hartshorn, to recover her daughter. In a little time she revived,
but it was only to shudder again at the strange sight; while the
sagacious mind of Euphan was busy with the divinations of a sad
experience, that pointed to some new calamity to result from this new
turn of their adverse fate. She saw, at once, that if she called in her
envious neighbours, that had been already busy with the character of her
daughter, the unlikely story of the finding and bringing home of a dead
child would be scorned and laughed at, while the circumstance of the
child being found in the house would be laid hold of as a handle for
corroborating and confirming the already circulated calumnies, if,
indeed, it might not form a subject for judicial examination and
exposure, that might end in the ruin of one already too much
persecuted. These cogitations led to a sudden resolution. Rolling up the
body hastily in the envelope--

"Hie ye quickly, Menie," she said, "to the place whar ye fand this
dangerous burden, and lay it in the precise position in which ye first
saw it. The shafts o' envy are already thick round innocence, and we
need not for sorrow to prick our own eyes that tears may fall. There is
a knowledge that is for guid, and ane that is for evil; but 'the work of
all flesh is before Him, and nothing can be hid from his eyes,' so shall
this shame be made manifest in his own way. Haste, child, and obey the
behest o' your mother."

The trembling girl started back at the mention of again bearing the
unholy load; but she was impelled by the strange looks of her parent;
and, like an automaton, she hurriedly snatched up the corb, and hastened
with it to the place where she found it. She was wrapped up in her
cloak, which she threw over the charge, and, after the manner of a
thief, or a worker of secret iniquity, she slouched along the loan,
trembling and stumbling at every step, till she came to the precise
spot, and there she looked several times around her, before she ventured
to deposit her burden. She thought she perceived some one behind her,
who passed into an opening in the hedge, and she felt irresolute whether
to lay down the corban at that moment, or ascertain first whether there
was really any one behind the fence; but her mind again recurring to the
contents of her burden, a feeling of horripilation crept over her, and,
gently crouching down, as if terrified to behold her own act, she
withdrew the cloak, left the charge, and fled precipitately along the
dark side of the loan. Curiosity impelled her, as she fled, to turn her
head, and she saw, with terror, some one issue from the opening in the
hedge, and proceed, as she thought, to the identical spot which she had
just left. It struck her forcibly, and she shuddered at the thought,
that the figure she saw resembled that of Wallace; and the suspicion
arose, that he had been watching about the cottage, had followed her,
and observed her motions, and would now examine the burden she had so
stealthily and mysteriously deposited by the side of the hedge. A strong
paroxysm of hysterical emotion seized her, as the full consequences of a
realisation of the conjecture were arrayed before her by the conjuring
power of her terrors. The prior unexplained suspicion under which she
yet lay rose to swell the tumult of her thoughts. She thought her God
had deserted her, and that the destiny of her miserable life was placed
under the charge of evil spirits, who gloried in her utter ruin. She
grew faint, and was scarcely able to walk; and before she again reached
the house, the choking effects of the hysterical spasm had almost
deprived her of breath. The door was open for her reception; and the
moment she entered, she fell upon the floor, panting for air, the blood
streaming from her nostrils, and shrill, broken screams, like the sounds
that issue from the victims of Cynanche, bursting from her labouring

The alarmed mother again applied restoratives to her suffering daughter,
who, in a few minutes, opened her eyes, and became sensible.

"Were you seen, Menie?" whispered the mother, anxiously, in her ear.
"Speak, love. 'Blessed is he that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope
the Lord is.' Fear not, child; tell me, were ye seen by the eyes o'

"God be merciful to me!" answered the girl. "If my eyes deceived me not,
George Wallace cam behind me, and saw me lay down that evidence o'
anither's shame. I am lost for ever!"

The mother was silent, and lifted up her eyes in an attitude of prayer
to Heaven. The nervous symptoms still clung to the daughter, and
shiverings and spasms succeeded each other, till she grew so weak that
she was unable to undress herself to retire to bed. The office was
performed by the kindly hands of the parent, who, still overcome by the
workings of fearful anticipations, sat down by the fire, and, fixing her
eyes on the red embers, seemed for a time lost in the meditations of a
heart that, filled with the spirit of God, felt that, as Esdras sayeth,
"life is astonishment and fear," and that we cannot comprehend the
things that are promised to the righteous in this world, nor those that
are given to the wicked to destroy the happiness of the good.

The night was passed in anxiety and fearful forebodings; and the beam of
the morning was dreaded by the daughter, as if it were the blaze of
evidence that was to bring to light some crime she had committed. She
was unable to rise; the small domestic duties of the morning were
performed by the mother, pensively, and under the burden of the prospect
of coming ill. About ten o'clock, a slight knock was heard at the door;
Euphan cried, in a weak voice, "Come in." She heard a whispering and
rustling of clothes, as if the visitors were deciding, by expostulations
and pushings, which of them should enter first. At last two neighbours,
who had been known to be active in circulation of reports against the
daughter, made their appearance. On the usual salutation, expressed, as
Euphan thought, in a strange voice, and accompanied by stranger looks--

"Is Menie ill the day?" said one of them, as she cast her eye obliquely
upon the bed. "Has she nae doctor, puir thing?"

"I haena seen her for mony weeks," said the other. "Why do ye conceal
her illness, Euphan, woman? The lassie may dee, when a helpin hand micht
save her."

"Yet I hae heard that she was seen on the road to Canonmills last nicht
in the darkenin," rejoined the first, with an oblique glance at the

The words reached Menie in the bed, and the clothes shook above her.

"God be praised, my bairn is weel!" said Euphan, who understood the
import of their speech; "but, though 'affliction cometh not forth from
the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground,' yet are we all
born unto grief. We hae our ain sorrows, and never pry into those o' our

The conversation continued for some time, and the women departed,
leaving the inmates to the certainty that the village had got hold of
the dreaded topic of calumny against the miserable victim of prejudice.
The shock had not expended its strength upon their already racked
nerves, when the door was opened by a rude hand, and two men entered,
dressed in the garb of officers of the Sheriff Court. An involuntary
scream was uttered by Menie, as her eyes met the uniform of red facings
of the harsh-looking men. Euphan was silent; but her eyes were filled
with the eloquence of fear.

"Is your daughter at home, good woman?" said one of the men, while he
cast his eye on the bed from which the weak scream issued.

"Ay," answered the mother. "What is your pleasure wi' her or wi' me?"

"Where is she?" added the same person.

"There," answered the mother. "She is weakly this morning, and hasna yet

"No doubt--no doubt," said the man. "She cannot be weel. I understand
she has been confined to the house for six weeks, with the exception of
some night wanderings; but she must this day face the light of the sun.
We have a warrant of apprehension against her, proceeding on a charge of
child-murder. She must up and dress, sick or well, and go with us. The
body of the child lies in the sheriff's office; and it is right that the
mother should be there also."

The words, which had an ironical virulence in them, unbecoming the
station of the man, wrung a wail from the accused maiden, which, muffled
by the bedclothes she had wrapped round her head, sounded like the
waning voice of the departing spirit; and the mother, overcome by the
accumulation of ills crowned by this consummation, flung herself at the
feet of the speaker, and grasped his legs with her fleshless arm.

"God hath spoken once; but I have heard it many times that power
belongeth unto him, and not to those wha whet their tongues like swords,
and bend their bows to shoot their arrows at the innocent. My dochter is
as guiltless o' this crime as the babe she is accused o' murderin. Let
her remain, if ye hae in ye the heart that travaileth with pity, and I
will awa to them that sent ye, and satisfy them, as never suspicion was
satisfied, that Menie Dempster is nae mair capable o' committin this
crime against God and his laws, than is she wha is sanctified by the
holiest spirit that ever warmed the breast or filled with tears the een
o' the mercifu. Grant me this ae request, and it will be a' that Euphan
Dempster may ever ask o' man."

"We cannot," replied the officer; "all we can do is to retire for a
moment, till your daughter dress herself; but we cannot wait long--so,

And the two men retired to the door, where their appearance had already
collected a crowd of curious inquirers. The behests of necessity
overcome the strongest feelings of mortals, and even impart to weakness
a morbid strength. The unhappy maiden rose, and put on her clothes in
the midst of the outpourings of her mother's religious inspirations; but
her sobs and suppressed wailings bore evidence to a sorrow that would
not be comforted, even by the assurances of the mercy that endureth for
ever. The men again entered; and Menie, accompanied by her mother, was
led away to the hall of the Sheriff's Court, to undergo an examination,
which, of itself, might operate as their utter ruin in this world.

They arrived at the court-room about eleven o'clock. An examination of
witnesses had already been begun. As they entered the door of the room
where they were to be placed, Menie saw passing through the lobby
several neighbours; and between two men, in the act of taking him to be
examined, she observed George Wallace, whose eyes seemed red and
inflamed, and who exhibited a strong reluctance to proceed forward,
requiring the efforts of the men to drag him before the examinator. The
whole scene seemed nothing but a dream; and the trifling circumstance
from which it originated invested it with a character strange and
unnatural. It was nearly four o'clock before Menie was called in to be
examined. When led before the judge, she looked wildly around her. A
chair was set for her, and she sat down. The usual questions as to her
name, and other matters, were put, and the more important part of the
examination proceeded. She was asked whether she had at one time been on
terms of intimacy with Michael M'Intyre, the city guardsman; whether she
had not been in his society among the trees of Inverleith, on a night
mentioned; whether she had not been courted by George Wallace of
Inverleith Mains; whether she had not been renounced by him; whether the
reason of such renouncement was not her prior intimacy with M'Intyre;
whether she had not been confined to the house for a considerable
period, and what was the reason of such confinement; whether she had not
deposited a basket containing the dead child near the hedgerow in the
loan leading to Canonmills; and whether she was not the mother of the
child. Every question was answered according to her simple ideas of
innocence and truth; but when she came to state that she found the
basket on the road, carried it home without looking at it, and then
replaced it in the situation in which she found it, and all this without
being able properly to account for so unlikely and extraordinary a
proceeding, the sheriff, prejudiced as he was against her, from her
previous admission that she had been seen in the society of M'Intyre, a
man of dissolute habits--that Wallace had not visited her for many
weeks, in consequence, as she supposed, of that circumstance--and that
she had not been in the habit of going out for a considerable
period--viewed her statement as false, and entertained the strongest
suspicions of her being guilty of the crime laid to her charge. She was
accordingly committed to prison until further evidence might be
procured, to throw more light on the mysterious transaction.

In the meantime, the circumstances of the case being of that
inexplicable kind that stirs the curiosity of a prying public, the
results of the precognition got abroad, and it was ascertained that a
considerable part of the information afforded to the sheriff had been
procured from Elspeth Grierson, the mother of Margaret Grierson, and
from one of the men who had seen Menie in the arms of the city
guardsman. The manner in which Wallace became implicated as an unwilling
witness against his betrothed, was also a curious feature in the case.
He had not been absent in the south so long as it had been represented,
but had concealed his arrival at home with a view to watch the motions
of her whom he yet loved, in spite of the suspicions he entertained
against her; and having, on that eventful evening, seen Menie hurrying
along with a basket in her hand, he had followed her, and seen her
deposit the charge in the manner already mentioned. At the very moment
when he was in the act of examining it, Elspeth Grierson came up, as if
she had been returning from Canonmills, and helped him to undo the
cloth in which the dead body of the child was wrapped; and thus was he
painfully committed as a witness of what he had seen. The authorities
soon after got intelligence of the circumstance; the child was taken to
the office, and a great number of witnesses, chiefly pointed out by
Elspeth Grierson (among the rest, George Wallace), were examined,
previous to the interrogation of the supposed culprit herself.

The unhappy situation of the girl, and the apparently conflicting
testimony of the witnesses, roused a sympathetic interest in many of her
acquaintances, who, having set on foot a system of inquiry, induced or
persuaded the fiscal to seek for the truth, rather than for an
unilateral array of inculpative testimony. It was impossible, even on
the part of the authorities, to deny the force of the facts, that Menie
had been often seen by the neighbours during their visits, though she
had kept the house in the day-time, in consequence of the shame produced
by the reports circulated against her; that she had been on a visit to
Canonmills on that evening when the child was exposed; that the rumours
against her (with the exception of the facts attending the depositing of
the corb) proceeded mainly from one source, which was a poisoned one;
and that, in place of denying, as she might have done, all knowledge of
the transaction, she had explained everything with a simplicity that was
seldom exhibited by the votaries of vice. These things made a suitable
impression, and the crown authorities were obliged to stop short in
their proceedings, from the circumstance that they could find no proof
of gravidity, and only one witness, Wallace himself--whose reluctance to
give his testimony was looked upon, when contrasted with his ascertained
inimical feelings towards her, as an affected exhibition of leniency to
cover concealed hatred--could speak to the fact of the depositation of
the child. All seemed enveloped in doubt; and, if there was a glimpse of
certainty in regard to any part of the inexplicable case, it was that,
that doubt itself would effectuate the ruin of the unfortunate prisoner,
who could never claim again the respect that is due to innocence.

For six months she was confined within the narrow cells of a jail, and
during every day of that period she was visited by her mother, whose
endeavours to support the young and breaking heart of the victim, by the
application of the balm that God has sent to the miserable, only tended
to calm the spirit as it sunk in the ruins of a decaying constitution.
She was at last liberated; but the freedom of the body only made more
manifest the effects of the blasting power of prejudice and suspicion;
and the intelligence, that was communicated to her some time afterwards,
that Wallace had married Margaret Grierson, crowned the misery that
enslaved her, and seemed to cut off all hope that she could ever again
hold up her head among the daughters of men. Time passed, and realised
that inherent condition of his power, which, as his progress continues,
brings to the miserable the sad consolation of the woes of their
enemies. The marriage of Wallace with Margaret Grierson was an unhappy
one. The collision of adverse sentiments produced in the wife an
infirmity of temper, which, in its exasperated moods, sought for relief
in intoxication; and the domestic feuds at Inverleith Mains became a
common topic of conversation among the inhabitants of Broughton. Such
are the turns of fate that acknowledge the influence of a power whose
ways we cannot comprehend; yet a still more extraordinary discovery was
to be manifested to the child of misfortune. One night Menie and her
mother were engaged in their evening exercise, heedless of the concerns
of a world from which they were excluded, when the door opened with a
loud noise, and George Wallace stood before them. His eyes were wild and
bloodshot, a fever was in his blood, and his nerves, excited by some
maniac passion, shook till his frame seemed convulsed, and the powers
of judgment and will lay prostrate before the fiend that ruled his
heart. Menie started up affrighted, and the mother laid her hand upon
the book.

"I am compelled to be here," he cried, with a choking, unnatural voice,
as he held forth his hands to the maiden; "and it is well I have come,
for the quiet air o' this house o' innocence already quells the fever o'
my heart. I have this moment left my wife; and I had a struggle to pass
the water-dam, that shone in the mune to invite me to bury mysel and my
grief in its still breast. But there is a God in heaven; and He it is
wha has brought me here, to look ance mair on her I loved and ruined,
and now can only save by my ain endless misery and shame. She lies
yonder steeped in drink; but the power o' conscience has repelled the
subtle poison, and she could speak in burnin words her crime and my
eternal shame. Margaret Grierson it was--my wife--the mother o' my
child--O God, help my words!--she has confessed, in her drunken madness,
and my heart tells me it is the confession o' God's eternal truth, that
the babe was hers--that her mother laid it by the hedgerow, a breathin
victim, to hide her daughter's dishonour--and that it died there by
suffocation. Let me speak it out, that this throbbin heart may be
stilled. But it cannot--it never can be in this world--no--no--nor in
the next."

And, groaning deeply, he threw himself on a chair, and rugged his hair
like a maniac in the highest paroxysm of his disease. The unexpected and
extraordinary statement rendered the women speechless. They looked at
him, and at each other. Mutterings of prayer escaped from the lips of
Euphan, and surprise and pity divided the empire of the heart of the
daughter, who had never thought to see misery that equalled her own.
There was no reason for the feeling of triumph, where the melancholy
relief came from the ruins of one whom they had both loved and
respected. He had been the only individual that ever influenced the
heart of the one, and the other had fondly looked forward to him as the
support and solace of her old age. Now he was a ruined, miserable man,
and had no power to make amends for the wrong he had unintentionally
committed. The calmness of the silence, and the relief that came from
the unburdening of a secret that had been wrung from him by the pangs of
conscience, brought him to a sense of the position in which he had
placed himself. He had put himself and his wife in the power of those he
had wronged, and returning reason brought with it the fears of

"What hae I done?" he again exclaimed, as he took his hand from his
forehead, and looked into the face of Menie. "I hae condemned mysel and
the wife o' my bosom--my conscience and a burnin revenge hae wrought
this out o' me; but what shall be the consequence thereof? Will ye bring
her to justice, the gallows--and me to a still deeper ruin and
desolation than that which hang over this house o' innocent suffering?
Say, Menie; speak, guid mother; our doom is in your hands. What says
that blessed book on the merits o' forgiveness and the crime o'

Euphan Dempster fixed her eyes on him calmly.

"Sair, sair hae ye wranged me, and that puir child o' misfortune, wha
stands there unable to reply to ye, though the tears o' her grief and
her pity speak in strange language the waes o' a broken heart. But
sairer, far sairer, hae ye wranged yersel; for, though we 'have seen the
travail which God hath given to the sons and daughters o' men,' we have
been answered in the dark nights in which we cried and wept, by Him who
'maintains the cause o' the afflicted, and the right o' the poor;' but
ye are left to the wrath o' yer ain spirit, that burns in yer heart, and
even now lights up your eyes wi' a strange licht. Vainly would my
daughter and I hae read this book, if we hadna learned to forgive our
enemies. You hae naething to fear from us."

"And are thae the sentiments o' her wha was ance the life and light o'
this stricken heart!" said Wallace, as he turned mournfully to Menie,
who, pale and emaciated from her sorrow, stood before him, the ghost of
what she was. "O God! can this be my Menie? Is a' that ruin o' health
and beauty the doin o' him wha loved her as nae man ever loved woman?
Are thae your sentiments, Menie? and am I, and is my miserable wife,
safe in the keepin o' your forgiveness?"

"Ay, George," answered the maiden, as she burst into tears at the
recollection of her former love, and the sight of her unhappy lover. "I
hae been sair dealt wi'; but I forgie ye; and I forgie also your wife. I
will dree the scorn o' an ill warld; but till you and she are dead, my
lips will never mention the wrangs I hae suffered from my auld freend,
and him I could hae dee'd to serve."

"Miserable man that I am!" exclaimed the youth. "How much do your
generosity and kindness show me I have lost, and lost for ever? Whither
now shall I fly!--to the arms o' a murderer, the wife o' my bosom--or to
the wide world, to roam, a houseless man, to whom there is nae city o'
refuge on earth?"

Unable longer to bear the poignancy of his feelings, he rushed out of
the house.

For several years after the scene we have now described, Wallace was not
heard of. None but his father knew whither he had gone. His wife was
absolutely discarded from the farmhouse; and, her habits getting
gradually worse, she became a street vagrant, and renounced herself to
the dominion of the evil power that had, from an early period, ruled
her, but whose workings she had so artfully, for a time, attempted to
conceal. She paid many visits to Inverleith Mains, but was rejected by
the old farmer, who attributed to her the ruin of his son. On these
occasions, she broke forth in wild execrations; and, on her return, did
not fail to assail the widow and her daughter as the instruments of her
ruin. The old story of the child was published at the door in the words
of drunken delirium; and often mixed with stray sentences of triumph
that, to any one possessed of the secret, would have appeared a
sufficient condemnation of herself. Yet the construction was all the
other way; for Menie had never been cleared by evidence, and the
virulent expressions of the vagabond were, according to the laws which
too often regulate mundane belief, taken as inculpation; and hence the
prejudice against the innocent victim was kept up, and the lives of her
and her mother embittered to a degree that called for all the aids of
their "sacred remeid" to ameliorate sufferings that seemed destined to
have no end upon earth. But the ways of Heaven are wonderful. A
boisterous sea may wreck, but the sufferer may be carried to the shore
by a wave which, if less impetuous, might have been his grave. Wallace's
wife at last died from the effects of that dissipation that had opened
the evil heart to give forth the confession of her own shame; and, after
this relief, the husband's father paid regular visits to Menie and her
mother. He never spoke of the secret that had driven his son away, nor
of the place to which he had fled; but he showed sufficiently, by his
attentions and kindness, that he knew all. The house of the widow and
her daughter was now kept full by supplies from the farm; money, too,
was given to them in abundance, and, in so far as regarded worldly
means, the two inmates had, at no period of their lives, been so well
provided for.

Five years had now elapsed since the disappearance of Wallace. One
night, as Menie and her mother were sitting by the fire, the door was
opened, and Wallace stood before them. His manner was now very different
from what it was on that day when he rushed like a madman from the
house. He stood for a moment, looking at the couple who had suffered so
much from his wrongs; and the first words he uttered were--

"Menie Dempster, ye have been true to your promise, and ye have been
rewarded. That woman is gone to her trial, and yours is ended. Now shall
truth triumph."

Menie was unable to utter a word. Her eyes were alternately turned to
Wallace and to the fire. The mother laid her hand solemnly on the Bible,
and addressing the inspired volume--

"Thus are yer secrets brought to light--ay, even out o' darkness. They
wha trust in ye shall not fail in the end, though they should stumble
seven times, yea, seven times seven."

"If I had trusted mair to that," said Wallace, "than to the whisperins
o' my ain heart, I might never have been a miserable husband, or a
banished man. But it's no yet owre late. I am resolved. Menie, will ye
now consent to be the wife o' him wha wrought, maybe unwittingly, to
your ruin?"

Menie was yet silent.

"I will publish your innocence," rejoined he. "There is mair evidence
than my word against her wha is dead. It shall be known far and wide,
and you will be the innocent and respected wife o' George Wallace."

"I will speak for her," said the mother; "she will consent. It is asked
of her by Him wha has brought good out o' evil, and whase mercies, bein
the reward o' the patience o' trial, are as a command that shall not be

Wallace drew near to Menie, and took her hand. Her face was still turned
away, but he felt the trembling pressure, that got sooner to the heart
than the sounds of the voice.

"It is enough, Menie," he whispered. "Come, the mune is again shinin
amang the trees o' Warriston."

The couple proceeded to their old haunts. They passed the hedgerow
where the child had been deposited. Menie's step was quick as they
approached it, her eyes were averted from the spot, and they passed it
in silence. We need not record the spoken sentiments of lovers in the
situation of this couple. They parted, after it was arranged that their
marriage should take place in the following week.

In the interval, the most prudent and effectual means were taken to
clear up the mystery of the old story. The written statements of several
individuals, who had heard the broken confessions of the woman, were
taken. Wallace and his father added theirs, and there was soon a
reaction in favour of Menie, much stronger than the original imputation.
Every one believed her innocent; and the marriage, which took place a
short time after, confirmed all.



The very foundation of idiocy is peculiarity; whatever this unfortunate
class may want, they do not want those features by which they are
distinguishable from the ordinary ranks of mankind. Hence the interest
which idiocy has ever exerted, and the splendid creations which, under
the name of asylums, quiet, country residences, &c., have been made for
their accommodation. The great mass of society--with the exception,
perhaps, of a kingdom, which shall, for the present, be nameless--have
nothing _idiotical_, that is, peculiar, belonging to them exclusively.
They move as others move, dress as others dress, think as others think,
and worship God as others do and as others did. Were it not for
_idiots_, in the extended sense of the word, there were an end of plays,
novels, and all works of fiction. Very few women, if we may credit Pope,
are idiots: for he says--

    "Nothing so true as what you once let fall--
    Most women have no character at all;
    Matter too soft a standing mark to bear,
    And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair."

But, although the original meaning and enlarged sense of the term might
carry us into a field thus almost boundless, we shall at the present
limit ourselves to two classes of idiots, comprehending, as they do, a
great variety of species. First, the natural idiot, or the simply
fatuous: of these there are _two_ varieties--the peaceable and the
frantic. Secondly, the unnatural or rational idiot; of these the
varieties are infinite, and a selection only is in the present instance
either desirable or attainable.

We return then to the purely fatuous, or peaceable idiot.

Poor innocent! as he is uniformly and kindly named by the neighbourhood.
There he walks about, along that stream, or across that meadow, from
morn to night, and from night to morning, his hand at his cheek, and his
lips muttering incoherence, such as, "Johnnie, quo' he, lad; ah, ha,
Willie lad, Willie lad, Willie lad." He is so biddable, that a child may
make him lie down, or rise up, enlarge or shorten his step. He will
carry a peat-barrow when peats are a-casting, ted hay, or lift a child
safely over a fence; yet, for all that, he is not always to be
trusted--for there are times when his countenance gets flushed, his
frame nervously convulsed, and then he utters dreadful things, and
becomes violent and unmanageable. These are, however, only aberrations,
not continued character; and, by watching the symptoms of the
approaching storm, the effects may be easily avoided. Idiots, even of
this peaceable and innocuous kind, are now abstracted from their natural
and kindly hearths, and concealed in asylums and private residences. Not
so--it was not indeed so--in the olden times. The hereditary possession
of at least one "innocent" in a family was deemed a blessing. "There
never will be wanting," said the pious parent, "a bit for thy
helplessness, poor Johnnie." Good luck took up her residence under the
roof where such a one resided; and the parent was doubly attached to
_the object_, as he was sometimes called. To hurt him, or injure him in
any manner of way, was domestic treason; and even the schoolboy, on his
harvest rambles, only pelted him with nuts and brambleberries. Poor
Johnnie! he was missed one day; he had wandered beyond his ordinary
reach, and all the town was in motion searching for him. The night came
on, dark, and even drifty; and the poor helpless object could nowhere be
found. Shouts were raised, dogs were dismissed on errands of inquiry,
herd-boys ran, and servant lads greatly hastened their pace. At last,
he was discovered on the brink of a precipice, over which he was
suspended, by the coat-tails, which a strong shepherd's dog was holding
fast in its teeth. But for the powerful sagacity of this brute, the
helpless being had been dashed to pieces. When he was rescued from his
dangerous position, he was repeating, in his usual manner, "Johnnie's
a-caul quo' he, lad." He was never suffered to be in such danger again.
These eyes saw him on his death-bed; and, at the instant of his
departure, it was indeed a most affecting scene.

    "The soul's dark cottage, shatter'd and decay'd,
    Let _in_ new light through chinks which time had made."

As the pulse ebbed and the feet swelled, reason seemed to resume her
long-deserted seat. He actually raised himself upon his elbow, drew the
back of his hand twice across his brow, as if clearing away some
obstruction from his eyes, and, looking around with an eye unusually
bright and beaming, lambent like an expiring taper--

"Oh, what a dream! what a dream! But I see you all now; yes--yes--I see
my kind mother, my dear father, my sister! Yes--yes--I am now well. I am
awake--I live." Hereupon the fatal and well-known struggle in the throat
stopped his speech; he fell back, gave one deep sigh, and was at rest.
Poor Johnnie! if a tear of gratitude can gratify anything that lives,
bearing the most distant relationship to thee, that tear has now been
shed. Heaven has long been merciful to the poor Innocent.

But the frantic idiot who now struggles against the chain and the
strait-waistcoat in yonder cell. He too, at one time, roamed at large,
to the great alarm, but seldom to the injury, of the lieges. "His bark,"
as the people said, "was waur than his bite;" and, if at any time he
required to be confined by force, a few kindly words and soothing
accents threw oil on the troubled sea, and restored comparative
serenity. Daft Will Gibson rises before me; his long rung or kent by
way of staff, his Kilmarnock night-cap, and shoes of many patches, his
aversion to all manner of trick or nickname, and his furious onset when
pursued by schoolboys: all these circumstances rise again from the dark
past, and glare before me like the shades in "Macbeth." Yet, though
occasionally furious, and even dangerous, he was kind-hearted, and not
unobservant of character. The timid he rejoiced to terrify, whilst he
passed by the bold and firm unmolested. Though he often threw large
stones at those who assailed him, he took special care always to throw
short of his object. But one day a little child, unobserved by him, had
crossed the pathway of his missile after it had been delivered,
altogether unobserved by poor Will. The child was knocked down and
greatly injured--it bled profusely. Will seemed horrorstruck, and roared

"It was I! It was me! It was daft Will Gibson!"

From that day he never lifted another stone, but always exhibited the
greatest liking for this child--of which the following anecdote is
sufficient proof. A little boy was playing in the channel of a mountain
torrent, then almost dry. There was thunder in the distance, and
Queensberry had put on her inky robe of darkness. All at once, the burns
began to emit a loud, roaring, rattling sound, and down came the Caple
Water--as my informant, who witnessed the scene, said--like "corn
sacks." The boy, owing to his eagerness in pursuing a trout (which he
was endeavouring to catch) from stone to stone, did not hear or see the
approaching danger, till the mighty flood was upon him. My informant--a
shepherd--threw aside plaid and staff, and ran to the rescue; but the
red and roaring flood was before him; and a fine boy of seven or eight
years old would undoubtedly have lost his life, had it not been for the
poor maniac, who chanced to be pulling rushes hard by. He rushed into
the flood just as it was oversetting the helpless victim, and, with a
tremendous jerk, threw him clean upon the green bank of the torrent. He
then endeavoured himself to clear the bank; but the treacherous and
hollow earth, under the pressure of the water, gave way, and down
tumbled brow and man into the raging whirlpool--the man underneath, the
brow above him. The boy, by means of his heels, escaped; but poor Will
Gibson's body was next day found some miles lower down, sadly disfigured
and mangled. Thus did this grateful maniac expiate the inadvertent
injury which he had done this very boy when a mere child, by saving his
life at the expense of his own.

We now pass, in prosecution of our history, from darkness into light,
from the irresponsible and irrational agent, to the responsible and
foolish. Our guide here, in this _mare magnum_ of idiocy, shall be _the
use_ of language in discussing the various merits of the different
classes. We shall make use of no new phraseology, but be guided to our
purpose by the acknowledged and recognised use and meaning of terms. Why
the word "idiot" is retained in conversational language in particular,
when its original and more legitimate meaning is lost, we have already
pointed at; it is owing to analogy and resemblance that in this case, as
in many others, such terms are legitimate and expressive.

There is, then, in the first place, to come at once to the point--there


Horace gives a most correct idea of this class in these well-known

    "Hunc neque dira venena, nec hosticus auferet ensis
    Nec laterum dolor, aut tussis aut tarda podagra,
    _Garrulus hunc quando consumet_."

Galt, too, has hit off the character, under a feminine aspect, in his
"Wearifu Woman;" but we have no occasion to ask Horace for his
spectacles, or Galt for his microscope, in order to discover the
features of this most numerous and annoying class. Midges, in a new-mown
meadow, are terribly teasing; so are peas in one's shoes--particularly
if unboiled. There is a certain cutaneous disease which is said to give
exercise at once to the nails and to patience. Who would not fret if
placed naked, all face over, in a whin bush? To be teased and tormented
with grammar rules is vastly provoking; and to get the proof questions
by heart cannot be deemed anything but annoying. A showery day, when you
have set out on a long-meditated "pic-nic," will vex the most patient
soul into spleen; and marriage-settlements are frequently great sources
of heartburnings and delays. To be told that your house is on fire, when
your messenger is on his way to effect an insurance, may possibly give
pain; and to find that every pipe is frozen, so that there is not a drop
of water for the engine, may probably add to your chagrin. All these,
and a thousand other miseries to which human flesh is heir, may, nay
must, be borne; but the torment of coming into ear-shot of a "havering
idiot" is a thousand and a thousand times more insupportable. You are
placed beside him at table, and in a mixed company of men of literature
and science, whom probably you may never see again. A subject is
started, which, from peculiar reasons, happens to be not only of itself
curious, but exceedingly interesting to you, professionally in
particular. Professor Pillans is discussing education, or Combe is
manipulating heads; Sir David Brewster is describing the polarisation of
light, or Tom Campbell is thrilling every heart with poetic
quotations;--no matter, you are unfortunately in juxtaposition to a
"havering idiot," and about five removes from the focus of general
conversation. He will not let you rest for a moment, but is ever
whispering into your ear some grand thing which he said last evening at
Lady Whirligig's ball. You push your dish forward, and fix your eyes
upon the intelligent speaker. He observes, and mistakes, or seems to
mistake, your movement and your motive, and immediately hopes he may
help you to the dish you are after. You are fairly _dished_; and unless
you knock him down with your fist in the first place, and shoot him
afterwards, you have no resource but to repeat the lines of Horace,
already quoted, and submit to your fate.

His stories are infinite and inextricable; but, unlike the epic, they
have neither a beginning, a middle, nor an end. When he starts with
"I'll tell you a good thing," you listen for an instant, but immediately
perceive that you are on the wrong scent; and, as he advances, he is
ever admonishing you with his elbow of the many _hits_ he is making; and
having heard him out--if that be possible!--you immediately exclaim,
"Well!" thinking assuredly the cream of the joke is yet awaiting you.

"But, sir, you are making no meal at all. You must try some of that fine
honeycomb; it is most excellent; it is of our own making; for, I may
say, we have almost everything within ourselves. The bees, last season,
did not do well at all; but they have done better this, sir. You are a
natural philosopher, sir--can you tell me how the bees see their way
back again to their houses, when they go far away in search of flowers
and honey?"

"Just the way, I suppose, ma'am, that they see their way a-field."

"Oh, ay--I ken that; but I hae a book here--(go away, Jeanie, and bring
me the book on natural history; the Cyclopædia, ye ken). Now, sir, this
book tells me that, from the shape of their eye, the bees canna see an
inch before them--how then do they travel miles and miles, and never
lose their road?--but bless me, sir, you're no making a meal at no rate.
Ay, here's 'the article,' as it is called. Read that, sir, just at the
bottom of the 196th page," &c. &c.


is manifestly twin-brother to the haverer, with this small difference,
however, that the bletherer is a mere repeater or reporter of havers.
The one is the importer, as it were, of the article wholesale, and the
other retails the article thus imported. They are raw commodity and
manufactured goods--they are original and copy--cause and effect. Burns
was quite aware of this when he wrote--

    "And baith a yellow George to claim,
              And thole their blethers."

These blethers were not original inventions, but merely varnished
repetitions. The blethering idiot is most dangerous as well as most
disagreeable. In this respect, he even surpasses the haverer, whose
annoyances terminate in themselves, in the irritations and
inconveniences of the moment. But the bletherer is a dangerous friend,
an inveterate foe, and a most unsafe neighbour. Will Webster was the
intimate friend of poor James Johnston. James was a lad of honest
intentions, fair talents, and warm feelings. He was educated as an
engineer, and had already acquired a certain status and character in
that capacity. His friend Webster had been accidentally a school
companion, from the proximity of their dwellings and the intimacy of
their parents. Webster had studied law, and was about to pass advocate,
when he came to meet his friend, and spend a harvest vacation with him
at Castledykes, in the parish of Tynron, Dumfries-shire. The two young
men were in the bloom and strength of youth, being both some months
under twenty-one. Georgina Gordon was the daughter of a small
neighbouring proprietor (a Dunscore laird), an only daughter, her
father's prop (her mother having died at her birth), and the admiration
of everybody who merely saw her at church on Sunday, or who knew her
intimately. I should have mentioned before, that this beautiful flower
had been named Georgina, with the view of perpetuating the name of a
brother whose fate had been involved in obscurity. He had betaken
himself early to sea, and the vessel in which he sailed had never more,
during several years before Georgina's birth, been heard of. All
possible inquiries had been made, but without effect. The Thunderer,
Captain Morris, had been seen off the coast of South America; but no
more was known. James Johnston was already in the way of making
reasonable proposals to any one; but his heart had long been fixed at
Castledykes. He used to wander for hours and days along the glen of the
cairn, and within sight of the old family abode. Georgina, however, had
already many lovers, and was reported to have, in fact, made a
selection. It was again and again reported by Will Webster to his friend
Johnston, and to everybody who took any interest in the report, that he
had seen Georgina enter the Kelpie Cave in company with a lover, and
that he had even seen them fondly embracing each other. At first
Johnston gave no heed to Will's _blethers_; but still they gradually
made an impression upon him. He became, at last, decidedly jealous,
when, led and guided by his friend Will, he beheld with his own eyes a
male figure, closely wrapped up in a plaid, holding secret converse with
the lovely Miss Gordon. What will not jealousy, goaded on by officious
and injudicious friendship, do? Unknown to any one, he met and accosted
the figure in the dark: a struggle and a contest with lethal weapons
took place, and the stranger fell. No sooner had the deed been done,
than James saw and repented of his rashness. The wound which he had
inflicted was bound up, and the fainting man, help being procured,
conveyed to Castledykes. James Johnston was not the man to fly, even
should death prove the consequence of his rashness. A curious denouement
now took place: the person whom James had wounded was no other than the
long-lost George Gordon. The vessel in which he had sailed had not been
wrecked, as was supposed, but had been taken, scuttled, and sunk, by
Spanish privateers, who then infested the Leeward Islands. He had been
bound and fettered in the hold, till he came under a solemn promise
neither to desert nor abandon his colours in the hour of battle. Under
such discipline, it was no wonder that, in a few years, George Gordon
(now taking the Spanish name of Joan Paraiso) should be habituated to
all manner of rapine and bloodshed. From less to more, by acts of
heroism, he became second, and ultimately first, in command of a Spanish

England, having viewed this growing evil with a suitable indignation,
sent out her armaments to the west; and the Don Savallo, Joan Paraiso,
commander, was taken. The prisoners were conveyed to Britain; and it
being discovered that Paraiso was originally a British subject, he was
thrown into prison to abide his trial. From this he escaped, almost by a
miracle, and wandering over the kingdom in another domino, or assumed
name, he came at last, as if by the law of force and attraction, to his
native glen. But he durst not yet discover himself, for he was an
outlaw, and the papers were filled with rewards for his apprehension. In
this situation he discovered himself, under the most dreadful oaths of
secresy, even from his own father (at least for a time), to his sister.
The rest, up to the period of his wound, which was by no means
dangerous, is easily understood. What follows will be necessary to
complete the narrative:--James Johnston having learned all this from
Georgina, who, in a moment of excitement, discovered that it was not a
lover but a brother over whom she hung, he again met his blethering
friend Webster--acquainted him with the history, and, in a few days,
Joan Paraiso was arrested in his bed, and carried to Plymouth, to
undergo his trial. The grief and horror of all may be easily conceived.
All, save the origin of the evil, were thunderstruck and overpowered
with grief and vexation. "But for your long tongue and empty head,"
said Johnston, taking him one day by the throat, "my dear Georgina had
been mine--her brother had lived, and all had been well." The guilty man
struggled, and was dashed against a stone wall with tremendous violence.
A concussion of the brain followed, and poor unhappy James Johnston was
himself on trial for murder. It is true that he was acquitted, as the
surgeon would not positively affirm that the dead person had not died
from a natural stroke of apoplexy; and it is likewise true, that Joan
Paraiso, _alias_ George Gordon, was acquitted, as he had been compelled,
from fear of death, to act as he had done. But Georgina was no longer an
heiress, and the mercenary laird of Clatchet-Knowe, who had all but
obtained her consent to a marriage, became suddenly cooled in his
fervour. Johnston hearing of this, and having, after some months,
recovered his spirits, made his addresses, and was accepted. Georgina
Johnston is now, or was lately, a happy wife and mother. Her husband has
purchased the farm of Kirkcudbright, in that neighbourhood, and they
live in comfort and respectability. So much as a specimen of the
achievements and fate of a bletherer. But who waits there?


Let him enter. What a thing! But it is not with the tailor-work that we
have to deal; we leave that to the titter and ridicule of every sensible
person in the company, and to the compassion of the rest.

    "In man or woman, but far most in man,
    I hate all affectation."

So says good-hearted Cowper. But, hating affectation, he must in some
degree hate a large section of the male, and a still larger proportion
of the female sex. In fact, we are all more or less affected--I in
writing this article in such an easy, off-hand, after-dinner manner, and
the publisher of the "Border Tales" in affecting not to be affected by
so many favourable notices in so many papers. I don't like the word--I
hate it ever since Lord Brougham (who once was so great) made use of the
one half of it, when speaking of Sugden; but, notwithstanding, I must
out with it--"_humbug_" is the go, and everybody knows it, and yet
everybody does it. Was there ever such a queer world, ma'am? I
_wish_--well, I will tell you, madam, what I wish--I wish I had a new
tack of "this world," with all its nonsense. This thing we call "life"
is to me exceeding amusing; but I am off, on the very velocipede of
affectation, and must "'bout ship."

The affectation of no affectation is the most unsupportable of all.
Simple Johnnie comes into the room, throwing about, from side to side,
both his elbows. He immediately, in the simplicity of his nature, lets
you know that he never was up to the ordinary methods of society; in
testimony of which he sits down beside you on a sofa--plaits his legs,
and passes his hand along his leg, from heel to knee, and _vice versa_.
You talk of anything and everything. He is sure you are right. He never
could remember anything. He is sure you are right; but he cannot say, it
is so long since he read about it. He tells you at once that people call
him "Simple Johnnie;" that he once tumbled into a river, whilst reading
a book; that he is _so_ absent, you have no notion; that he has
forgotten his own name, and only remembered it, after having given a
penny to a boy, saying, "Now, my boy, do you know who gave you that?" He
puts on a blue stocking and a grey, and wonders that people observe it;
he pushes through the market, snuffing, snorting, and repeating almost
aloud, Thomson's "Seasons;" he is called a good sort of a body, and
tells you so; but he knows in reality that he is an excellent classical
scholar, and a writer of no mean degree. Affectation, however, hangs
over him, like a mist; and his real merits, which are great, are greatly
obscured by the medium through which they are seen.

Let us change the sex!--A farmer's daughter married to an earl--no, not
an earl--a laird--a country gentleman. She is all _gentility_--talks of
nothing beneath dukes and marquises; asks you if there is anybody of
note in India; never saw fish eaten without a silver fork; and considers
that Queen Victoria has never seen good company! After a', wha cares?
This is a precious rag of feminality; nobody can hurt her feelings, or
destroy her equanimity. You mention, in her company, that Lady Louisa
Russell, her most intimate friend, of whom she talks daily, and to
everybody, has left the town without calling; she assumes an air of
supreme indifference, and exclaims--"Well! after a', wha cares?"

A bluestocking!--No, I will not spend ink and paper on the subject--it
is literally _thread_-bare--not a loop in the stocking but may be seen
by a man of ninety without spectacles. A fop!--faugh!--who cares for
anything of the dandy or exquisite species?--A braggadocio--another
Munchausen! who kills trouts by the gross, and men by the dozen--who
shoots on the wing--_e.g._ Two individuals of this description once met
in my own presence. They had been in India, and were Indianising for the
benefit and entertainment of the company. Shooting came on the carpet,
and their various achievements were stated. Colonel A---- had shot more
than a dozen water-fowl at one shot.

"I am sure," said he, appealing to his Indian friend--"I am sure,
general, you know it to be true."

"Twelve dozen, by God!" was the emphatic response.

"Who has not heard of my father, the colonel?"--viz., Colonel Cloud--and
yet this colonel proved to be nothing more than plain Mr B----, from the
grand town of Forfar. Oh, how shall I overtake the varied forms that
rise up before me!--as well might I essay to catch and fix every
butterfly from the Emperor of Morocco down to the blue wing. "Upwards
and downwards, thwarting and convolved," the myriads of insects dance
away their hour, and are forgot. And who art thou who thus speakest of
others? A solitary fly! A large blue-bottom, madam, as insignificant and
ephemeral as any amongst them. But of this enough. Let us now introduce
another actor, or rather speaker.

"Well, sir, I am glad I have met you; for I was just going to call upon
you, to tell you that my son John, poor fellow--you know John?--that he
has got a step--what they call a step in the service, and that he has
had a severe fever, but is now quite well; and that he writes to his
sister--such a letter--but I have it here, sir, in my pocket. Pray do,
sir, sit down for a little, and I will read it to you; it is such a
funny letter--you have no notion--and so full of inquiries for
everybody, amongst the rest for yourself, whom it is wonderful that he
remembers--he has such a memory, my Johnnie, and always had. I remember,
when just a little thing not higher than this parasol. But, bless me,
sir, you are not listening!"

"No, ma'am; I beg your pardon; but I have an engagement." (Exit.)

And who does not see, at once, that this is a


"I was up, yes--yes--up--up--yes, I was up by five
yesterday--yes--yes--yesterday morning. When do you rise, ma'am? I
always rise--yes--yes--rise--I always rise by six--true--true--quite
true--by six, ma'am--it is good--so good--yes--yes--very good, ma'am,
for the health--the health--yes--the health."

Such is the drivel which we have often heard oozing, drop by drop, from
a male creature of the prosy kind.


The blazing idiot is all over self and wonderment. He has done--what has
he not done? He can do--what can he not do? One of this character was
one day entertaining old Quin with the account of an encounter with a
furious bull, in which the blazer had proved too much for the horner,
and held him, in spite of his neck, till he roared for a truce.

"Oh," said Quin, looking around him knowingly on the company, "that is
nothing at all to what I once experienced myself."

The original blazer looked amazement.

"Yes," says Quin, "I--even I, have managed the bull exercise in a higher
style than you, sir. You only held the bull's head down by the horns,
but I twisted his head from his neck, and threw it after his departing

This produced a roar at the idiot's expense, and he shrunk out, to
announce his achievements somewhere else.

Is he a traveller?--Why, then, Munchausen is a fool to him. He has
undergone, achieved, seen, heard, tasted, more wonders than a thousand

"The bats of Madagascar are large, assuredly, and almost exclude the
sunlight by the breadth of their hairy wings. But the bats are nothing,
sir, to the bees."

"What kind of bees have they?"

"Why, sir, the bees are, 'pon honour, sir, they are as large as your
sheep in this country."

"Why, then, one would require to keep a pretty sharp look-out ahead, in
case of a near encounter with such a winged monster."

"Not at all, sir. They make such a roaring noise, sir, with their wings,
that you can hear them, like the bulls of Bashan, a full mile distant."

"Terrible! But are they numerous?"

"Oh, exceedingly!"

"And what kind of flowers have they to feed on?"

"Why, just ordinary flowers. They cover them all over, and insert their
proboscis into a thousand, without stirring from their position."

"Yes! And what kind of skeps have they?"

"Oh, just ordinary skeps, like ours in this country."

"Yes! And how do these bees get into the skeps?"

"Oh, _just let them see to that_!"

But these may be termed the magnificent blazers. There is an animal of
this species of very reduced dimensions; and yet, from its numbers and
activity, it is not less provoking and annoying than the giant race. You
cannot mention a long walk which you have taken, but it out-walks you by
at least ten miles. You cannot drink your three bottles at a sitting,
but it empties five. You made, whilst a boy, some hairbreadth escapes,
but they are nothing to what it has escaped. You have had a very bad
fever, and lay a whole week insensible; this creature roared a whole
month. You have broken your tendon Achilles; this unfortunate has cut
all the arteries and tendons of the leg. Go where you will, the land has
been travelled before you. Do what you may, the thing has been done, and
much better done, already. In fact, you are only the copy of the
original before you; a shaping out of a web; a degenerate branch of a
vine in full growth; an Italian alphabet in the presence of a Roman. "I
thought my master a wise man; but this man makes my master a fool," says
the housemaid in Dean Swift; and it is thus that the emmet Blazer
befools you, turn where you may. Whom have we next in this our show-box
of rarities? Step in, sir. Don't stumble on the doorway, like
Protesilaus in setting out for Troy. Oh, I ask your pardon--


Sit down there, sir--no, not on that sofa--with your dirty garments, and
shoes bemired; but on that arm-chair, where you may roll about to your
heart's content. Now, sir, be silent; for I see you are about to blunder
out whatever comes uppermost (and that is generally froth and scum),
and listen to me. I am going to read you a lecture. It was owing to your
blundering interference that I am not the Laird of Peatie's Mill at this
moment. You went to my uncle, and, by the way of recommending his
nephew, told him that I was an intimate acquaintance of yours, and that
you and I had many a happy night together at Johnnie Dowie's. Now, you
ought to have known my uncle's views and habits--in short, his
character--and that he had all his life long an utter abhorrence of
anything approaching to dissipation. My uncle instituted inquiry, and
found that what you stated was true, at least to a certain extent; and,
in consequence, cut me off with a shilling, leaving Peatie's Mill to a
miserly, mean fellow, who had once informed him of the approaching
failure of one who owed him money. You need not make any apology now,
the thing is done, and cannot be undone. When I was on the point of
being married to an heiress, with a good person and a fine property, you
came again as my evil genius, denying a report, which I had myself
propagated, of my early indiscretions, and assuring her cousin that I
was totally incapable of anything of the kind; that I was a perfect
Nathaniel, or Joseph, or what not; and, in short, so disgusted the lady
with your praises of me, that she immediately cut me, and married the
master of a coasting vessel. I know what you are going to say; but I
know, too, that you had no business to pop your nose into other people's
business. Besides, at last election, did not you assure the members to
whom you, amongst others, applied in my favour, that I was at heart a
Tory, though I had assumed Whig colours of late; and all this because
you knew his own father had been a violent Tory in old times. This so
disgusted my patron, that I lost the stamps by it. Your blundering
idiocy, sir--without any bad motive to arm it to mischief--has done more
injury to yourself, as well as to others, than would be the very worst
intentions and the most malevolent endeavours. But I spare
you--convinced, as I am, that nothing which I can say will ever drain
the blundering propensity out of your nature. But whom have we here?--


"Well, ma'am, let me have your own story from your own lips."

"Why, sir, do you use no more ceremony with me, knowing who I am, sir?
When your ancestors, sir, were working on the queen's highways, and
breaking stones----"

"I beg your pardon, madam; but it is but a short time since Macadamising
was introduced, and my ancestors happened to live at a period prior to
the breaking of stones on high-roads as a business."

"Well, sir, but you have interrupted me, and I forgot what I was going
to say. Oh ay! I was going to tell you that my ancestors rode in
coaches, when yours drove carts; that mine spent thousands upon
thousands, whilst yours were dealing in tarry-woo and candle grease; and
yet you, sir--you now sit in this cottage of yours (as you must needs
call it)--you have the audacity, and the impertinence, and the
presumption, forsooth, to call my son to account for shooting a few of
your dirty birds over your poor, paltry acres."

"Ma'am, I only warned him off my preserves, and did it in civil
language, too; but your son, taking his cue, I have no doubt, from so
accomplished a parent, used improper and ungentlemanly language to me,
and threatened to horsewhip me; so I thought it was only justice to
myself to put him into the hands of my man of business."

"Your man of business, sir! And who gave you, or your father's son, a
man of business, pray? What business may you have to manage, which a
servant lass may not conduct to a favourable conclusion with a
three-pronged grape?"

"Madam, I will stand this no longer. This house is my own. Depart!"

There she goes, wagging her tail and tossing her head, the Born Idiot!

But here comes a change of person, in


But, hush! I hear the voice of psalmody. She has taken to what she terms
a "sweet psalm," and must not on any account be disturbed.

It is true that there are odd stories abroad of her early life, and some
rather suspicious reports respecting a certain serjeant of a certain
regiment. Suspicions, too, have been entertained of her being concerned
in the burning of a certain will, by which her husband became possessed
of property to a comfortable extent; but she has no family, and of late
years has taken to religion, and, some say, occasionally to a less safe
stimulant. Be that as it may, Mrs Glaiks is at the head of all manner of
female associations of a religious character. She is a perfect adept in
judging of young preachers and evangelical discourses. If she pronounce
her verdict, the matter is settled; there is no appeal, not even to her
poor henpecked husband, whose conscience, every now and then, requires
all her care and eloquence to soothe. She has already taken possession
of this world by a _trick_, and she means to take the next by _force_.
She is urgent with the Lord, in season and out of season, and has been
at great pains in converting a handsome young man, who was addicted to
wine and its usual accompaniments. She says that she has been the
unworthy instrument, in God's hand, of his soul's salvation; and meets
with him more frequently in private than John Glaiks approves of. Pass
on, Mrs Glaiks--

    "If honest worth to heaven rise,
    Ye'll mend ere ye come near it."

But what a mighty fuss is here! The door flies wide open, till the
hinges crack again, as _in_ there rolls, in all the majesty of a new
suit of clothes, and a mighty self.


Reader! it is not Samuel Johnson, nor his Leader Bozzie. These were both
pompous enough, God knows; but they were not idiots--it is "my Uncle
Thomas." My Uncle Thomas was once a colonel in the Galloway Militia, and
has long retired in single blessedness, to live upon a small family
inheritance, which is scarcely sufficient to support himself, with a
_man in livery_ and a servant girl, to work his means, and act as
chambermaid. My uncle rises every morning at seven, rings his bell, and
calls his servant to shave and dress him. All this is done in solemn
silence; for it would be presumption in John to utter a word, unless he
be spoken to. My uncle, having surveyed his full, round person in the
glass, takes possession of his arm-chair, then pokers the fire; looks
out at his window; scolds a turkey-cock for spreading his feathers and
keeping up a row in the back court; rings the bell again, and says--

"Why, sir, what do you stare at? Let me have breakfast."

Breakfast with my uncle is a serious concern. The cups are not in order;
the bread is burned to a cinder; the butter is rancid, and the cream is
only fit to feed pigs with. However, he has at last breakfasted, and
been again surveyed and brushed by John, and is now prepared for the
onerous duties of the day. These consist, first, in taking snuff, which
he does regularly with three raps on the box-lid, a gaze around, to see
if he is observed, and a knowing plunge of the forefinger and thumb into
the midst of the powder. But his box is empty, though in fact half-full,
and John, having been well scolded, is despatched to his own shop,
Donald Mackechnie's, for the real Irish. The box is impressed with the
family arms, and the family motto, "_dum vivo spero_." At last the
supply arrives; his gold-headed cane, presented to him when colonel of
the Galloway Militia, is taken in hand; his hat is brushed, and planted
in proper attitude on his head; and forth he sallies, in his
pepper-and-salt habiliments, to scold the schoolboys for neglecting to
take off, or even touch, their hats, as he passes along what he terms
his gravel-walk, which is nothing more nor less than a cart-road leading
to a stone-quarry. A cow has escaped from under the care of his keeper,
and poor Davie Proudfoot, the herd-boy, is in hot pursuit. The cow is
directing her steps, somewhat unceremoniously, towards the colonel's
favourite walk, and he is loudly appealed to by the boy, to assist him
in "wearing" the brute. My uncle stares with ineffable rage and contempt
upon the unfortunate tender of cattle.

"What, sir!--what mean you, sir, to ask a colonel in His Majesty's
service _to turn a cow_?"

My uncle has gone, in quest of an appetite, beyond his usual bounds, and
having observed a person passing over the grounds of a neighbouring
laird, with a gun under his arm, and of a questionable appearance, he
determines to inform Lord Douglas, the neighbouring laird, as he usually
designates his lordship, of the fact; and for this purpose, in order to
receive information, he calls at the door of a cottage. A little girl,
about ten years of age, makes her appearance, and is accosted with--

"Lassie, where is your mother?"

"Mither, oh, mither--she's butt the house; but what do you want wi'

"You are an ill-educated girl," says my uncle. "Why don't you say 'sir'
to me when you address me? But go and tell your mother to speak to

"Mither! mither! haste and come here--there's a _man_ wantin to speak to

This was more than my uncle could stand: so he instantly decamped,
gold-headed cane and all, to ruminate over the indignities to which he
had been subjected.

"Go," said he one day to John, when acting as butler to the colonel, his
master, and the young laird of Puddentuscal, who had been invited to
dinner--"go to catacomb seventeen, and bring us a bottle of vintage

"Catacomb here, and vintage there," replied John, with a comical
expression on his face, "that's the last bottle on the table I've got
frae Peter Cruikshanks, for the twa cheeses we selt him."

My uncle died one day, but had taken previous care to have himself
carried shoulder-high to the grave. "_Sic transit gloria mundi!_"

"Miss Smiles! Oh, Miss Smiles, I am happy to see you, you have been
_such_ a stranger! But how is your mother? I was sorry to hear of her
late dangerous indisposition, and that you were obliged to call in the
assistance of a doctor."

"Oh yes," replies


with an everlasting smile on her countenance. "Poor mamma was so
ill!--he--he--he! we really thought she would have died--he! But then Dr
Blister was so attentive and funny. Oh la!--oh la! how he did laugh, and
made such a deal of fun, that poor mamma absolutely sat up in bed, and
he!--he!--he!--laughed, absolutely laughed outright. But, really, Mrs
Wotton, really that is such a beautiful little pony which you have got
feeding on the green, and it looked so comical at me in passing--he!
he!--and your little boy, Bobby, rides it so gracefully--ha! ha!--and he
fell so prettily. But be not alarmed, Mrs Wotton, the boy is only a
little, just a very little hurt about the head--he! he!--only about the
head, ma'am. I assure you don't be alarmed. Pray--pray,
don't!--he!--he! I think I see little Bobby tumbling heels up, head
down. A pretty boy, indeed, your little Bobby. But, bless me, Mrs
Wotton, don't ring the bell--he!--he! I saw Bobby carefully carried into
the gardener's cottage at the gate, with the whip still in his hand,
and--but he did not bleed severely----Oh la!--oh la! I hope I have not
alarmed you, ma'am. Good-morning--good-morning."

There goes that insensible piece of everlasting giggle. She has no more
heart than that poker, and no more mercy than an enraged cobbler, making
use of it to chastise a drunken spouse. There she goes from house to
house, from morn to night, with all the external marks of contentment
and high delight, and yet with an inward feeling of envy and ill-will,
which is a perfect hell. But here comes, with a copy of the "Laus
Stultitiæ" by Erasmus, in one pocket, and a play of Æschylus in the


Oxford bred--pure Oxford, ma'am. You cannot possibly utter a sentiment
which he does not roll you off in pure Iambics, nor mention a fact which
does not suggest another, at least eighteen centuries old.

"The day is very fine, ma'am, very fine indeed. 'And thus, from day to
day'--you remember the quotation in Shakspere--it is prettily said, but
not delicately. I do not like the words 'rot, and rot;' yet, if one take
into account the age, ma'am, the age of Shakspere--I don't mean the
years which he lived, but the age of the world in which he lived--if you
take into consideration the age, such words as rot were not deemed
ungenteel. 'Like a bare bodkin,' and 'groan and sweat'--all these
phrases have got somehow into bad repute now; but they were once seen in
the most polite company. Have you read the 'Laus Stultitiæ' of Erasmus,
sir; or, as it is more frequently expressed in Greek terms, the
Encomium Moriæ? It is quite unique, sir; so full of genuine fun,
expressed in beautiful Latin, with scraps of Greek intermixed. What
think you of the 'Prometheus' of Euripides?--is it not sublime and
terrific?--such a thunder of language and meaning intermingled! These
old fellows--these ancients--were the boys. What are our moderns to
them? What is Southey to Virgil, or Scott to Homer, Tom Moore to
Anacreon, or the lyrics of Burns to those of Horace? Oh, _fons
Blandusiæ_! how soft, how sweet, how beautifully _simplex munditiis_!
And then his _'quem verum aut heroa,' 'Coelo tonantem credimus
Jovem'_. But I am, perhaps, trespassing on your patience; if so, I ask
your pardon, and bid you good-morning."

There he goes--a creature of nut-shells, one who deals with the husk but
never with the kernel--a bag of chaff, with scarcely a per-centage of
honest grain--a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal--a thing of shreds
and patches--a Joseph's coat of many colours. I was heartily tired of
the classical pedant; but there are pedants, ma'am, in all situations
and professions. There are even pedantic chimney-sweeps--men in sooty
garb, who brandish the brush and display the dirt-bag with an air of
importance, and whose loud and penetrating "sweep" has a peculiar force
with it. There is, for example, your next neighbour, Mrs Manage, who
makes more cheeses from less milk than any one of her neighbours; whose
butter has a higher flavour than any in the market; and who kills you,
from morn to night, with plans of savings, and profits, and
improvements. She even rides her hobby whilst asleep; for she often
starts, and mutters the name of a favourite milcher. And there is Mr
Clark. Ah, my dear, good-natured, companionable, ever-to-be-remembered
Mr Clark! You were indeed the prince of fishers. You had travelled over
a great part of Scotland, like my friend Stodart, fishing; and, really
and in truth, you had done and seen wonders. I am sorry, very sorry,
indeed, to place you amongst the "pedants;" but truth, my dear sir--my
dear shade, compels me to do so. Set you once upon fishing, and there
was no end of it--from Dan to Beersheba, on you went. Here you killed a
salmon of fourteen pounds weight, after playing him up pool and down
stream for at least six hours; there, you hooked another, which broke
your line, and curvetted away to the tune of

    "I care for nobody, no not I,
    If nobody cares for me."

Again, you filled your basket ere twelve o'clock, and gave up fishing
merely because you could carry no more. And then, such adventures! One
day you lost yourself in the mist--found a tethered horse--wandered for
hours, and then encountered the same tethered horse again. At another
time, you came upon a cottage in the muirland with a lame crow; and,
after much wandering, came again upon the same object. You once changed
your flies _three_ times, and at last pulled _him_ out by a knot upon
the line, at which he took _greedily_. Was it not you who filled your
basket with trouts of a pound weight each, and then, in leaning over a
bank to land another, your basket-pin gave way, and they all tumbled
dead into the gullet? Did not you jump _in_ after them; and were you not
carried down into the bumbling pool; and had it not been that you got a
hold of a _heather cow_, would not you have been absolutely drowned?
After all this testimony, which you know--I mean _knew_ (alas! my dear
friend, that I should say _knew_!)--to be true, can I avoid placing you
amongst the _fishing pedants_? Yet, as the angel did in Sterne (an angel
who has had a deal of work to do in his time), do I now drop a tear upon
what I have written, and all _but_ blot it out for ever. Honest Mr
Clark! you were indeed the king of fishers; but, then, all your fish
weighed fisher's weight--you added at least seventy-five per cent. to
the avoirdupois!

But golfers! Golfers, of all pedants who infest earth or purgatory, are
the most intolerable. During dinner, you hear the distant grumble of
thunder; there is a word or two dropped, of this hole and that hole--of
this stroke and that stroke--of this tee and that tee; but so soon as
the glass has circulated a little, you are all mish-mash,
helter-skelter, at it again. Done--done! is the word on the match;
shillings, pounds, and guineas fly about like midges in harvest
sunshine. Some one tries to introduce general conversation, by observing
that the coronation went well off; but it is all to no purpose. Their
voice is not heard in the general uproar. The very table seems to take
an interest in the hubbub, and responds to the clenched fist with a
peculiar hollow sound. If this be not pedantry, I know nothing of the
subject. The Old Commodore, a second Uncle Toby, was a pedant; and so
was Willie Herdman, who had fought as a common soldier at the siege of
Gibraltar; and Jumping Jenny was a pedant, who had not an idea beyond a
reel and a fling; and Willie Crosbie was a pedant, who could talk of
nothing but ewes and gimmers; and Geordie Johnston was a pedant, who
valued himself on his small ankles, and nice lambs'-wool stockings; and
Archy Tait was a pedant, who kept up a nightly intercourse with the
devil and all manner of bogles. But time and paper (which is more
precious than time, never to speak of the printing) would fail me, were
I to reveal to you the thousandth part of the cases in which pedantic
idiocy appears. Turn we now, therefore, to another species of the same
genus, to the "SARCASTICAL JESTER," who, though he has not yet obtained
a name amongst the notables, is, undeniably, the greatest and most
offensive Idiot of the whole batch.

We must approach him slily, for he is an exceedingly cunning fellow;
and, when you least think of it, he will be showing you off to some
third party, whom, in his turn, he will again be showing off to you.
Dean Swift's housemaid was one of this class, who pinned a dish-clout to
the tail of Dr Sheridan, and pointed him out as an object of ridicule to
all the servants. Nay, Satan himself was a master of works on the
occasion, when he said "eat, and be wise," well knowing that his advice
was folly, and obedience to it death. The practical jester is not a man
of many words, but he looks two ways for Sabbath. He will tread upon
your corny toe, and then ask your pardon, looking all the while slily to
his companion, who is in the secret. He will call you _Kettle of
Barclay_, instead of _Barclay of Kettle_--aware, as he is, that you
value yourself upon your title. He will, above all this, practise upon
you his great leading joke of _Johnnie Hastie's shears_. You are sitting
beside him upon the top of a coach, and thinking of nothing but the
crops, the fields, and the cottages. All at once, you spring to your
feet with a shout, and are precipitated over the driver's seat upon the
backs of the horses. All that he did, or was doing, was to give you a
clip of Johnnie Hastie's shears. Good reader (for all readers of those
Tales are good, like the Tales themselves), dost thou know anything
about Johnnie Hastie or his shears? I shall tell thee.

He was a tailor in the Parish of Crail, famous for fish and herrings--a
real cankered body, but with about an equal quantity of humour or
malevolent wit. Whenever he found a proper opportunity, he used to bend
his fore and middle fingers, and then, protruding the middle joint, and
opening or separating the one from the other, he used to apply this
instrument to the fleshy and most sensitive part of any person who might
happen to sit near him, and, by compressing suddenly the joints and
fingers, gave the impression of severe clipping. This he denominated a
clip of Johnnie Hastie's shears; and hence arose the by-word. An
incident or two of this sort it may not be improper to mention.

It is well known that hiccuping is an unpleasant but a pertinacious
complaint, and that it proceeds from many causes as well as from a too
liberal indulgence in wine. A person who happened to be at the time
afflicted with this convulsive movement was suddenly struck on the back,
by a practical jester, by way of surprising him out of the distemper.
The stroke, however, happened to introduce a small piece of nut kernel,
which he was eating, into his windpipe, and it was not without much
suffering that it was at last extracted. Another came up to a man of
peculiar habits and feelings, observing that he was looking very ill;
and then, meeting him again next day, and a third, and a fourth, made
the same observation. The poor nervous creature took it sadly to heart,
went to bed, and never rose again. He died from the fear of death. At
the siege of Toulon--when balls flew about in abundance--after the
battle was over, and our ships were forced, by the infant Hercules,
Bonaparte, to retreat, an officer went up to his companion, who was
standing with his back towards him in the dark, and slapped him suddenly
on the back betwixt the shoulders. The person suddenly struck jumped up
on the deck, and shouting, "Shot at last, by God!" he died on the spot.

Jeanie Gibson and William Laidlaw were lovers, not in any particular
sentimental manner, but just in the old-fashioned way. They liked each
other's company, sat very close to each other in the dark, and
occasionally indulged in an innocent kiss! But Jeanie was what is called
"bonny," and had more lovers than Willie Laidlaw; one of whom, Bob
Paton, a sly, unfeeling rogue, of the practical-jesting kind, was over
head-and-ears in love with bonny Jeanie. He took it into his head that
he would play a trick upon Jeanie, and make her avow at once her
preference for Willie Laidlaw, whom she only in secret favoured. For
this purpose, he dressed up a figure in what (in the dark) might appear
to be the clothes of Willie Laidlaw, and placed it in a field through
which he knew Laidlaw was to pass. He armed himself with a gun, duly
charged with powder and shot. Firm prepared, he advanced into the field
or park, well knowing that Jeanie Gibson was not only within _sight_,
but within _hearing_ of him, being seated under the cover of a stone
dyke hard by.

"Where are you going, William?" said the practical jester. "I know where
you are going; you are going to meet wi' Jeanie Gibson; but I'll blaw
your brains out first." Thus saying, he fired off his musket, and the
figure immediately fell.

A wild scream was all that was heard, and Jeanie was found lifeless: no,
much worse--deprived of reason for life! She never recovered; but when
her lover was brought into her presence, always said--

"I know--I know it is not my Willie. I saw--I saw him fa'! It isna him;
it canna be him. He's awa--awa--awa!" And then she uniformly fainted.

Nor did the practical jester escape. Willie actually shot him, and was
hanged on Lockerby Muir for the deed.

_Finis coronat opus_--to conclude, I shall e'en take off myself under
the character of


He is always meditating something great, but never carries it into
execution. One day he commences a heroic poem, which terminates the next
in a rebus or sonnet. One day he becomes a dramatist, and pens a scene
of a play on the escape of James the Fifth from the palace of Falkland;
the next he writes an article for the "Tales of the Borders." Now he
undertakes a history of the eight-and-twenty years' persecution--gets
out numerous books from the library--actually writes a preface and a
conclusion in fine style, which ends in a few lines in the poet's corner
of a country newspaper. He sketches a poem, to be entitled,
"Gratitude"--in which dogs, elephants, lions, and even horses, as well
as men and women, are to figure; but he never gets on further than four
very indifferent lines. He is sixty years old; and at sixteen could
write as well and cleverly as he does now. He never takes time to
correct _vetere stylum_, he is always in such a confounded hurry lest
his idea should escape him ere he has given it a black coat and a white
waistcoat. Nobody can equal him in rapidity of composition; but, then,
his composition is like the man's horse, with two faults--"it is very
ill to catch, and not worth a penny when caught." He does everything for
everybody; writes all manner of reviews of books which he has never
read, and quotes authorities which he has never consulted. He gets daily
into scrapes by making use of people's names about whom he knows
nothing, and who abhor, or pretend to abhor, notoriety. One day he is
all devotion and sentiment, the next all fun and frolic. He spends his
life in an endless whirl of fancies, meditations, resolves, attempts,
and finds himself every hour less respected; and, indeed, less
respectable than he once was. The worst of it is, "he knows that he is
an idiot;" but the knowledge does him no manner of good. He takes a
tumbler or two; and then he is, in his own estimation, the very acme of
genius! He knows that, had he possessed perseverance, he might have done
much; and this knowledge, instead of stimulating, paralyses all manner
of effect. His life is a dream; and when he dies, he will be instantly
forgotten. He will set like an equatorial sun, and there will be no
twilight over his memory.

But "_latet dolus in generalibus_"--I set out in life with excellent
prospects--had gained the patronage of a nobleman who had at least
twenty kirks in his gift. In these days the Veto had not shown its
appalling phiz. I had the absolute promise of a kirk, which was sure to
be vacant in a year or two. But nothing would serve me but I would
write some satirical verses on a scolding wife, whom I knew only by
report. I sent the following lines to some magazine of the day.

TUNE--"_Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch_

      "Tam's wife o' Puddentuscal[1]--
       Tam's wife o' Puddentuscal,
        Wat ye how she rated me,
      And ca'ed me baith a loon and rascal!

    "Her words gaed through me like a sword--
      She said she'd gnash our heads together.
    Had I sic wife, upon my word,
      I'd twist her chanter in a tether.
        Tam's wife, &c.

    "I did but pree her dinner cheer,
      And hadna drunk twa jugs o' toddy,
    When _in_ she bang'd like ony bear--
      Oh, she is an awsome body!
        Tam's wife, &c.

    "I took my bonnet and the road,
      And to my waefu fate resign'd me;
    When, what think ye, the raging jade
      Daddit _to_ the door behind me?
        Tam's wife o' Puddentuscal--
        Tam's wife o' Puddentuscal,
          Wat ye how she rated me,
        And ca'ed me baith a loon and rascal.

[Footnote 1: Name of a farm.]

Now this song happened to take in the neighbourhood, and was reckoned
severe and clever. The murder came out in a few weeks. I received the
following letter from Lord C----:--

     "SIR,--I hear you have been lampooning, in a periodical work, a
     person in whom Lady C---- takes a deep interest. I consider
     myself relieved from any obligations which your past services
     may have imposed upon me.--I remain, &c."

My lord was as good as his word, and that I am now

    "Within my noisy mansion skill'd to rule,"

instead of appearing sleek, fat, and comfortable at the General Assembly
now sitting, is owing to my scribbling propensities.

But there is yet one other idiot, with whose character I might close
"this strange, eventful history"--an idiot decidedly the most prominent
of all--an idiot who, in modern times in particular, has proved his
claims on my notice to an unusual extent--an idiot, too, without whose
idiocy mine were literally a dead letter: Reader! gentle reader!--"_Quid
rides--nomine mutato de_ TE"--that is, if you are _displeased_; if not,
you are an angel!


About the middle of the last century, and previous to it, the truly
national trade of carrying the pack was, as doubtless many of our
readers know, both much more general and respectable than it now is.
It did not then, by any means, occupy the low place in the scale of
traffic to which modern pride, and perhaps modern improvement, have
reduced it. At the period to which we allude, those engaged in this
trade were for the most part men of good substance and of unimpeachable
character, trustworthy, and, in their humble sphere, highly
respectable--circumstances which, doubtless, imparted to their calling
the consideration which it then enjoyed. The reason lies on the surface:
the trade was then both a more extensive and a more important one than
it is now, and required a much greater capital; for there being then
none of those rapid and commodious conveyances for transporting
merchandise from place to place which are now everywhere to be met with,
the greater part of this business was then done by the packmen, who
combined the two characters of merchants and carriers; and in this
double capacity supplied many of the shops of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and
other large towns, with English manufactures. Those, therefore, who
would conceive of the packman of old, an indifferently-clad and
equivocal-looking fellow, with a wooden box on his back, containing his
whole stock, would form a very erroneous idea of the peripatetic
merchant. Their conception would not, in truth, represent the man at
all. The packman of yore kept two or three horses, and these he loaded
with his merchandise, to the value often of several thousand pounds; and
thus he perambulated the country, passing between Scotland and England,
conveying the goods of the one to the other; and thus maintaining the
commercial intercourse of the two kingdoms.

About the year 1746, this trade had arrived at so great a height, that
the high-road to England by Gretna Green was thronged with those engaged
in it, going to and returning from the sister kingdom with their loaded
ponies; and a merry and bustling time of it they kept at the Floshend
Inn. This hostelry, now extinct, was long a favourite resort of these
packmen, or pack-carriers, as they were more generally or more properly
called. It was situated on the Scottish side of the Borders, near to
Gretna Green, and was kept by a very civil and obliging person, of the
luminous name of John Gas--a little, fat, good-humoured,
landlord-looking body, with a countenance strongly expressive of his
comfortable condition, having a capital business, and being very much at
his ease, both in mind and body. His house was a favourite resort of the
pack-carriers; and for good reasons. It was the last inn of any note on
the Scottish side, and was, of consequence, the first they came to on
re-entering their native country from their expeditions into England.
The quarters, besides, were in themselves excellent; the accommodations
were good, and the fare abundant, reasonable, and of the first
quality--especially the liquor, that great _sine qua non_ of good cheer.
In addition to all this, John Gas himself was the very pink of
landlords; humorous, kind, attentive, and obliging; possessing that
valuable quality of being able to stand almost any given quantity of
drink, which enabled him to distribute his presence and his company over
any number of successive guests. Fresh as a bedewed daisy, and steady as
a wave-beaten rock, he was always forthcoming, whatever might have been
the amount of previous duty he had performed; and what might remain yet
to do he always overtook, and executed with credit to himself, and
satisfaction to his customers--no instance having been known of his
having been placed _hors de combat_, either by ale-cup or brandy-bottle.
With such claims on public patronage, it was no wonder that his house
secured so large a share of the custom of the itinerant merchants of the
time; who, so much did they appreciate the comforts of the Floshend Inn,
and so much were they alive to the merits of its host, that they would
not rest, foul or fair, dark or light, anywhere within ten miles of it.
A dozen of them were thus frequently assembled together at the same time
under the hospitable roof; and, being all known to each other, they
formed, on such occasions, a merry corps--spending freely, and sitting
down all together at the same table. A more amusing or more entertaining
company could, perhaps, nowhere be found; for they were all shrewd,
intelligent men--their profession and their wandering lives putting them
in possession of a vast store of curious adventure and anecdote, and
throwing many sights in their way which escape the local fixtures of the
human race. Naturally of a gossiping turn--a propensity made
particularly evident when they chanced to meet together in such a way as
we have described--they were in the habit of amusing each other with
narratives of what they had seen and heard that was strange, and
enlivening the evening with merry tale and jest.

It was somewhere about the month of March, in the year 1750, that a knot
of these worthies, consisting of seven or eight, was assembled in the
cheerful kitchen of the Floshend Inn--an apartment they preferred for
its superior comfort, its blazing fire, and its freedom from all
restraint. Some of the guests present on this occasion were on their way
to England; others had just returned from it, with packs of Manchester
goods, and large bales of Kendal leather. These last, and all other
descriptions of merchandise which his pack-carrier customers brought,
were stowed in a large room in the inn, which the landlord had very
judiciously and very properly appropriated for this purpose; while the
horses that bore them were comfortably quartered in the commodious and
well-ordered stables. They were seated on either side of the fire, with
a small round table between them, on which stood a circle of glasses; in
the centre, a smoking jug, whose contents may be readily guessed; and
close by the table was the landlord, doing the honours of the
occasion--that is, making the brandy-toddy, and filling the glasses of
his guests. The master of ceremonies was in great glee, being precisely
in his element, the situation of all others in which he most
delighted--a bowl of good liquor before him, a set of merry good friends
around him, and the prospect of a neat, snug reckoning in perspective.
The conversation amongst the guests was general; but it might have been
observed that one of the party had got the ear of the landlord, and was
telling him, in an under-tone, some curious story; for the latter, with
head inclined towards the facetious narrator, was chuckling and smirking
at every turn of the humorous tale. At length a sudden roar of laughter
at once announced its consummation, and attracted towards himself the
general attention of the company.

"What's that, mine host?" was an inquiry put by three or four at once.
"Something guid, I warrant; for that was a hearty ane." The speaker
meant Mr Gas's laugh. "What was't?"

"It's a story," replied he, the tears still standing in his eyes, "that
Andrew here has been tellin me, aboot the minister o' Kirkfodden and his
servant lass--and a very guid ane it is. Andrew, will I tell it?" he
added, turning round to the person who had told him the story.

"Surely, surely," replied Andrew; "let it gang to the general guid."

Aweel, freends (said mine host, now confronting his auditors), the
minister o' Kirkfodden, ye maun ken, is, though a clergyman, a droll
sort o' body, and very fond o' a curious story, and still fonder o' a
guid joke--and no a whit the waur is he o' that; for he is a guid,
worthy man, as I mysel ken. The minister had a servant lass they ca'd
Jenny Waterstone--a young, guid-lookin, decent, active quean; and she
had a sweetheart o' the name o' David Widrow--a neighbourin ploughman
lad, a very decent chield in his way--wha used to come skulkin aboot the
manse at nichts, to get a sicht and a word o' Jenny, withoot ony
objection on the part o' the minister, wha believed it to be, as it
really was, an honourable courtship on baith sides. Ae nicht, being
later in his garden than usual--indeed, until it got pretty dark--the
minister's attention was suddenly attracted by a loud whisperin on the
ither side o' the garden wa', just opposite to where he stood. He
listened a moment, and soon discovered that the whisperers were David
Widrow and his servant, and overheard, as the nicht was uncommonly lown,
the followin conversation between the lovin pair:--

"I fear, Jenny," said David, "that the minister winna be owre weel
pleased to see me comin sae aften aboot the house."

"I dinna think he'll be ill pleased," replied Jenny. "He's no ane o'
that kind."

"Still," said David, "I had better let the nicht fa', now and then,
before I come; and then he'll no see me mair than four times a-week or
sae. He canna count that bein very troublesome."

"Just as ye like, David," said she.

"But how am I to let ye ken I'm here?" inquired the lover.

"Ye can just gie a rap at the kitchen window, and I'll come oot to ye,"
replied the girl.

"Very weel," said David; "I'll come and rap at the back window the
morn's nicht."

"Do sae," replied she; "and, if I canna get oot to ye at the moment,
just step into the barn till I come. I'll leave the door open for ye."

This matter arranged, the lovers parted, little suspectin wha had
overheard them; and the minister went into the house. On the followin
evenin, a little after dark, the doctor, closely wrapped up in a plaid
belongin to his servin-man, slipped oot, and, stealin up behind the
house, till he cam to the kitchen window, gave the preconcerted signal,
by gently tappin on it with his fingers. Jenny, who was employed at the
moment in bottlin aff a sma' cask o' choice strong ale, for his ain
particular use, immediately answered the ca', raised the window, and put
oot her head.

"Is that you, David?" said she.

"Yes," said the minister, in a whisper so gentle as to prevent her
recognisin his voice.

"I canna get to ye at present," said Jenny; "for I'm engaged bottlin
some ale, and maun put it a' past before I gang oot; the minister's
waitin till I tak it up the stair; but love maks clever hands, as they
say, and I'll gie ye something to keep ye frae wearyin, in the meantime,
till I come." Sayin this she handed him oot a bottle o' the ale, and a
basket containin some cakes and cheese. "Now," said she, "tak thae awa
to the barn wi' ye, David, and tak a bite and a sowp till I come." And
she drew down the window, and resumed her work. The minister, without
sayin a word, retired wi' his booty, and placed it in a dark corner at a
little distance. In a short time he again returned to the window, and
again rapped. The window was promptly thrown up, and Jenny's head thrust

"Can ye gie's anither bottle, Jenny?" said the minister, speakin as low
as before, and disguisin his voice as well as he could.

"Anither bottle, David!" exclaimed Jenny, in surprise. "Gude save us
frae a' evil! hae ye finished a hail bottle already? My troth, that's
clever wark! But I canna gie ye anither the nicht, David. It's a' put
past. Besides, ye hae aneugh for ae nicht."

"Weel, weel," said the minister; "come oot as sune as ye can, Jenny."
And he again slippit awa.

Thinkin, now, that he couldna carry the joke farther wi' safety, as
there was great risk o' the real David appearin, the minister slippit
into the house, threw aff his plaid, and went to a little back window
that was immediately over the kitchen ane, from which he could, by a
little cautious management, both see and overhear, unobserved, all that
should pass between Jenny and her lover, when _he_ came on the stage.
Nor had he to wait long for this. In a few minutes after he had taken
his station, he saw David come round the corner o' the house, and steal,
wi' cautious steps, towards the kitchen-window. He rapped. The window
was raised, but evidently wi' some impatience.

"Gude bless me, Davie! are ye there again already?" said Jenny, somewhat
testily. "Dear me, man, can ye no hae patience a bit? I'll come to ye
immediately." And, without waitin for ony answer, she again banged doun
the window.

David was confounded at this treatment; but, as Jenny had gien him nae
time to mak ony remark for her edification, he made ane or twa for his

"Here _again_!" he said, mutterin to himself--"here _already_! Can I no
hae patience!" Then, after a pause, "What does the woman mean? What
_can_ she mean?"

This was a question, however, which Jenny hersel only could explain; and
for this explanation David had to wait wi' what patience he could
conveniently spare. But he certainly hadna to tarry lang; for, in twa or
three minutes after, a soft, low voice was heard sayin--

"Whar are ye, David?"

"Here," quoth David, in the same cautious voice.

"Dear me, man," said Jenny, "what was a' yer hurry? I'm sure ae rap at
the window was as guid as twenty. Ye micht hae been sure I wad come to
ye as sune as I could."

"Hurry, Jenny! What do ye mean? I was only ance at the window," replied
David. "Ye surely canna ca' that impatience."

"Ye're fou, Davie; that's plain," said Jenny. "The bottle o' ale has
gane to your head, and ye've forgotten. Nae wonder; it wasna sma' beer,
I warrant ye, but real double stoot. Catch the minister drinkin onything
else! Thae black-coats ken what's guid for them." And, without waitin
for ony answer, she proceeded--"But whar hae ye left the basket, Davie?
Is't in the barn?"

"Jenny," said David, now perfectly bewildered by all this, to him,
wholly incomprehensible ravin, "ye say I'm fou; but, if I'm no greatly
mistaen, ye're the fouest o' the twa." And he peered into her face, to
see how far appearances would confirm his conjectures.

"Awa wi' ye, ye stupid gowk!" said Jenny, pushin him good-naturedly from
her. "Ye're just as fou's the Baltic--that's plain. But tell me, man,
whar ye put the basket; for it may be missed? I houp ye haena forgotten
that tae?"

"Jenny," replied David, now somewhat mair sincerely, "will ye tell me at
ance what ye mean? What bottles o' ale and baskets are ye speakin

"Ha! ha! Like as ye dinna ken!" said Jenny, lookin archly, and giein her
lover anither push. "That's a guid ane! To drink my ale, and eat my
bread and cheese, and then deny it!"

I leave you, guid freends (said the narrator here), to conjecture what
were David's feelins, and to conceive what were his looks, while Jenny
was thus chargin him wi' ingratitude. I'll no attempt a description o'
them. A' this time the minister was lookin owre his window, richt abune
the lovers, and heard every word o' what they said; but he keepit quiet
till the argument should come to a crisis. In the meantime the
conversation between the lovers proceeded.

"Jenny," said David, in reply to her last remark, "ye're either daft or
fou--and that's the end o't. Sae let us speak aboot something else if ye

"Do ye mean to say, David," replied Jenny--now getting somewhat serious
too, and a little surprised, in her turn, at seein the perfect composure
o' her lover, and the utter unconsciousness expressed on his
countenance--"do ye mean to say that I didna gie ye a bottle o' ale and
a basket o' bread and cheese oot o' the window there, aboot a
quarter-o'-an-hour syne?"

"Never saw them, nor heard o' them," replied David, with great coolness.

"Ta! nonsense, man!" said Jenny, with impatient credulity. "And did ye
no come and seek anither? and did ye no come three or four times to the

"Naething o' the kind," replied David, briefly, but with the same
calmness and composure as before. "I never got a bottle o' ale and a
basket o' bread frae ye oot o' that window; I never sought anither frae
ye; and I hae been only ance at that window this blessed nicht."

There was nae resistin belief to a disclaimer sae coolly, sae calmly,
and sae pointedly made; and Jenny acknowledged this by immediately
exclaimin, in the utmost dismay and alarm--

"Lord preserve me, then! wha was't that got them, and whar are they?"

Her queries were instantly answered.

"It was _me_ that got them, Jenny; and they're owre in yon corner
yonder," said the minister, in a loud whisper, and now thrustin his head
oot o' the window.

Jenny looked up for an instant in horror, uttered a loud scream, and
fled. David looked up, too, for a second, and then set after her as fast
as he could birr; leavin the facetious, but worthy minister in
convulsions o' laughter.

"And that, my freends," here said the merry landlord, "is the story o'
the minister o' Kirkfodden and his servant lass, as tauld to me by my
guid freend, Andrew, here"--laying his hand kindly on the shoulder of
the person he alluded to. The narrator was rewarded for his story, or
rather for his manner of telling it--for in this art he excelled--by a
continued roar of laughter from his auditory. When this had subsided--

"Come now," he said, "put in yer glasses. The best story's no the waur
o' a weetin. It looks as weel again through a glass o' toddy."

The invitation thus humorously given was at once obeyed. In a twinkling
a circle of empty glasses, like a _garde du corps_, surrounded the bowl,
and were soon replenished, with a dexterity and skill which long
practice alone could have given the artist. His well-practised hand and
arm skimmed the ponderous vessel as lightly over the glasses as if it
had been a cream-pot; filling each of the latter as it went along to
exactly the same height--not a drop in or over--with a precision that
was truly beautiful to behold.

The glasses, which had thus been scientifically filled, having been
again emptied, the landlord suddenly fixed his look on another of his
guests, who was sitting up in one of the furthest corners, by the
fireside, and to whom his attention had been directed, by observing him
musing and smiling at intervals, as if tickled by the suggestions of his
imagination. He rightly took them for symptoms of a story, and acted
upon this impression.

"James," he said, addressing the person alluded to, who was at the
moment gazing abstractedly on the fire, "if I'm no mistaen, ye hae
something to tell that micht amuse us. Ye're lookin like it, at ony
rate, if that smirk at the corner o' yer mouth has ony intelligence

James turned round, and, with a smile that was gradually acquiring
breadth, said that he was "thinkin aboot Tam Brodie and the kirn."

"I was sure o't," exclaimed the landlord, triumphantly. "What aboot Tam
and the kirn, James?"

"There's little in't," replied the other; "but I'll tell it for the guid
o' the company." And he immediately went on:--I daresay the maist o' ye
here ken Tam Brodie o' the Broomhouse; and them that dinna may now learn
that he's a sma' farmer, as weel as unco sma' man, in a certain part o'
Annandale. He is in but very indifferent circumstances, and has, on the
whole, a sair struggle wi' the warld; but this is no to hinder him, as
how should it, frae haein a maist extraordinar fondness for cream; but
it ought to hinder him frae takin every opportunity, which he does, o'
his wife's bein oot o' the way, to steal frae his ain kirn, to the
serious detriment o' his ain interest. His wife entertains the same
opinion; for she's obliged to watch him like a cat; and, when she does
catch him at the forbidden vessel, or discovers that it has been
there--which she often does, by the ring about his mouth, when she has
come so suddenly on him as no to gie him time to remove the
evidence--she does pepper him sweetly wi' the first thing that comes to
her haun; for she's a trimmer, though a weel-behaved, hard-workin woman.
A' her watchfuness, however, and a' the wappins she could gie her
husband, could neither cure him o' his propensity, nor prevent him
indulgin it whenever he thought he could do it without bein detected.

It happened ae day, that Mrs Brodie had some errand to a neighbourin
farmhouse, which she behoved to execute personally. Having dressed
hersel a little better than ordinary for this purpose, she cam to her
husband, who was at the moment delvin in the kail-yard behind the
house, told him where she was gaun, and desired him to look after the
weans till her return. This task, Tam, of course, readily undertook, and
continued to delve awa as composedly as if his wife's proposed absence
had suggested nae ither idea to him. He, in short, looked as innocent of
a sinister purpose as a man could do; although at that very moment the
cunnin little rascal's mind was fu' o' the idea o' makin a dive at the
kirn, the moment the wife's back was turned. And he soon made these evil
intentions manifest aneugh. While his wife was speakin to him, leavin
the bairns in his charge, Tam never raised his head, but continued
delvin awa wi' great assiduity. He was, in fact, afraid to lift his
head, for fear that his wife should discover his joy on his countenance,
and tak some means o' bafflin his designs. Although, however, he didna
raise his head while she was speakin to him, he did it the instant she
left him. While continuin bent as if in the act o' workin, he looked
after her till she disappeared down a brae, at the distance o' aboot a
hundred yards, when he stood erect, stuck his spade in the ground, and
went wi' deliberate step into the hoose. This deliberation, however, did
not proceed so much from a consciousness o' security, as to prevent
excitin suspicion o' his ain weans, whom he did not wish to trust wi'
the secret o' his intended depredations on the kirn, for fear they
should tell their mother, as, had they known it, they certainly
would--perhaps not deliberately, but they would blab it. This risk,
therefore, he resolved not to run. On enterin the kitchen whar the weans
war, to the number o' three or four--

"What keeps ye a' in the hoose sic a nice bonny day as this?" said he;
"awa and play yersels in the yard for a wee; and, as I'm wearied, and
gaun to rest mysel, ye can come and tell me whan ye see yer mither
comin. Ye can see her, ye ken, frae the tap o' the yard a lang way aff.
Now," he said, addressin the last o' the urchins, as they scampered
oot, in obedience to their father's commands--"now mind, and let me ken
_the moment_ your mither comes in sicht." The boy promised, and rushed
out after his brothers and sisters. The coast was now clear; Tam's
progress thus far was triumphant. He had never had before sae fair a
field for operations, and he felt a' the satisfaction that his happy
situation was capable o' affordin.

Havin got the weans oot, he advanced to the door, shut it, and, to
prevent any unseasonable intrusion, locked it--at least he thocht he had
done so, but the bolt had missed. Unaware o' this circumstance, he
proceeded to his operations wi' a feelin o' perfect security. Havin gone
into the room where the kirn was, he lifted the large stone by which the
lid was kept down, and placed it on the floor. This done, he lifted the
lid itsel, and next the clean white cloth which is usually thrown first
on the mouth o' the vessel. These a' removed, the glorious substance
appeared--thick, rich, and yellow. The glutton gazed on it a moment with
a rapturous eye; but there was no time to be lost. He had provided
himsel wi' a small tin jug. This he now dipped into the delicious
semi-fluid mass, raised it to his lips, and quaffed it aff as fast as
its consistency would admit. Again he dipped and again he swilled; and
to make everything as comfortable as possible, he next drew a chair to
the kirn, sat down on it, stretched out his legs, and in this luxurious
and deliberate attitude proceeded wi' his debauch. While in the act o'
pourin down his throat the fifth or sixth jug, wi' his head thrown back,
his eye--though half closed, from an overpowerin sense o'
enjoyment--caught a glimpse o' a castle o' cakes and a plate filled wi'
rolls o' fresh butter, that stood on the upper shelf o' a cupboard
fastened high upon the wa' in ane o' the corners o' the apartment. The
sight was temptin; for he felt at that moment somewhat hungry, and he
thocht, besides, the cakes and butter would eat delightfully wi' the
cream--and there is little doot they would. Filled wi' this new idea,
he rose frae his chair and approached the cupboard wi' the intention o'
sackin it; but it was owre high for him. (He was a very little man.)
This, however, he was perfectly aware o'. So he took a stool in his
hand, placed it, and mounted; but was still several inches from the
mark. Findin this, he descended, put anither stool on the top o' the
first, and, on again mountin, found himself just barely within reach o'
the prize. By seizin, however, a fast hold o' ane o' the shelves o' the
cupboard by one hand, he found he could raise himsel up sufficiently
high to accomplish the purposed robbery wi' the ither. Discoverin this,
he grasped the shelf, and was just in the act o' raisin himsel up by its
means, when the stool on which he was standin (he had stood owre near
the end o't) suddenly canted up, and left him suspended to the cupboard
shelf; for he held on like grim death, kickin and spurrin awa in a vain
attempt to recover his footin. This was a state o' things that couldna
continue lang; either he must come doun himsel, or the cupboard must
come doun alang wi' him--and the latter was the upshot. Doun cam the
cupboard; wi' everything that was in it--and it was filled wi' cheeny
and crystal--smash on the floor wi' a dreadfu crash, and Tam below it.
There wasna a hail glass, cup, or plate left; and the rows o' butter
were rollin in a' directions through the floor. Here was a pretty
business; and the puir culprit knew it. Cantin awa the cupboard frae
aboon him, he slowly rose (for he was not at all much hurt) to his feet,
infinitely mair distressed wi' fear for his wife's vengeance than wi'
regret for his ain loss. At this instant--that is, just as he had gained
his feet, and was lookin ruefully doun on the wreck he had
occasioned--ane o' his bairns cam runnin to the door, and bawled out the
delightfu intelligence--

"Faither, my mother's comin!"

The horrible announcement roused him from his reverie, and instantly put
him on the alert. He had presence o' mind aneugh left to recollect that
the cupboard wasna a' he had to answer for. There was the kirn, which,
in its present denuded state, told an ugly tale. He flew to remedy this.
He snatched up the towel, spread it over the mouth o't, lifted the huge
stone with which all had been secured, dashed it down--on what? on the
lid? No, in his hurry and confusion he forgot the lid;--on the
towel--and doun went towel and stone into the kirn, and the latter with
such force as fairly knocked out the bottom, and sent the whole contents
streamin owre the floor. At this particularly felicitous moment, his
wife entered the outer door, when the first thing she met was the colly
dog wi' a row o' the fresh butter in his mouth. In ordinary
circumstances, this wad hae been a provokin aneugh sicht to her, but a
glimpse at the same instant o' the dreadfu ruin within made it appear
but a sma' matter indeed. On enterin on the scene o' devastation, she
fand the culprit standin almost senseless and speechless wi' terror and
horror, and every other stupifyin feelin that can be named, in the
middle o' the ruins he had created, and up to the shoe-mouth in cream.

"An awfu business this, Maggy," he said, in a sepulchral voice. It was
a' he got leave to say; for, in the next moment, he was felled wi' the
stroke o' a besom; and when he resumed his feet, which he did almost
instantly, he took to his heels, and didna venture hame again till wife
and weans were a' lang in their beds. Tam ne'er touched the kirn after

"And here," said the narrator, "ends my story o' Tam Brodie and the

"And a very guid ane it is," rejoined the landlord, taking off a cold
half-glass of punch that stood before him. "I ken Tam o' the Broomhouse
as weel as I ken ony ane here, and it's just as like him as can be.
William," added mine host, now turning and addressing another member of
the company--a quiet, mild-looking man, whom one could not, _à priori_,
have suspected of being a joker--"that's nearly as guid a ane as the
Blue Bonnet. Do ye mind that story? William shook his head and smiled.

"I mind it weel aneugh," he replied; "but it was rather a serious
affair--at least it micht hae been sae--and I'm no fond o' recollectin

"Nonsense, man; nae harm cam o't," said the other; "and it was
harmlessly meant."

"But it micht hae been a bad business," said William.

"But it _wasna_," said mine host; "and, as I dinna believe there's ane
here that ever heard the story, I wish ye wad let me tell it."

"It's no worth tellin," said the other.

"I'll tak my chance o' that," replied the landlord; "if it's counted
worthless, I'll tak the wyte o't. Do ye gie me leave?"

"A wilfu man maun hae his ain way--do as you like," rejoined William
Brydon, affectin a chariness he did not altogether feel.

Thus regularly licensed, the narrator began:--

About twa or three years syne, there used to come about this house o'
mine a wee bit whupper-snapper body o' an English bagman. An impudent,
upsettin brat he was, although no muckle higher than that table. The
favourite theme o' this wee ill-tongued rascal--for he had a vile
ane--was abusin Scotland, and a' that war in't, for a parcel o' sneakin,
hungry, beggarly loons. This was his constant talk wherever he was, and
whaever he micht be amang. I didna mind him mysel; for the cratur wasna
a bad customer, and he was, besides, such a wretched-lookin body--I mean
as to size and figure, for he was aye weel aneugh put on--that puttin a
haun to him was oot o' the question. Ye couldna hae blawn upon him, but
ye wad hae been in for murder, or culpable homicide at the very least.
But, although I keepit a calm sough wi' him, and didna mind his abusive
jabberin, it wasna sae wi' everybody; and there was nane bore it waur
than oor freend William Brydon here, wha aften forgathered wi' him in
this hoose. William couldna endure the cratur, and mony a sair wrangle
they had wi' the tongue; but the Englishman's was by far the glibber,
though William's was the weightier. It chanced that William and the
little gabby Englishman met here, both on their way to England, ae day
sune after the execution o' the rebels in Carlisle--a time whan the
Scots, as ye a' dootless ken, war in unco bad odour throughoot a'
England, and especially in Carlisle, whar the feelin ran sae high that
no person wearin ony piece o' dress which smelt in the least o' Scotland
was safe in the streets. And wha was sae vindictive against the rascally
rebels, as he ca'ed them, as our wee bagman? "Headin and hangin's owre
guid for the villains," he wad say. "They should be roasted before a
slow fire, like sae mony shouthers o' mutton." Oh, he had a bitter spite
at them! It was aboot this time, as I said, that he and our freend here
met in my hoose--and, as usual, they had a tremendous yokin; but it was,
on this occasion, a' aboot the rebels; for this was the thing uppermost
in the wee bagman's mind at the time. It was a grand catch for him, and
he made the maist o't. In short, a' his abuse now took this particular

Notwithstandin William and the bagman's constant quarrellin, and their
mutual dislike o' each ither, they aye drank thegither whan they met,
and whiles took guid scours o't, and lang sederunts; but it wasna for
love, ye'll readily believe, they sat thegither: na, na, it was for the
purpose o' gettin a guid worryin at ane anither; so that they may be
said to hae sought each ither's company oot o' a kind o' lovin hatred to
ane anither. In the afternoon o' which I'm speakin, the twa, as usual,
drank and quarrelled; but I was surprised to find, towards the end o'
their sederunt, that oor freend here, instead o' gettin angrier, as he
used to do, as the contest drew towards a close, grew aye the calmer;
and, what astonished me still mair, suddenly showed a strong disposition
to curry favour wi' his antagonist, and actually so far succeeded, by
dint o' soothin words, as to induce the bagman to extend the hand o'
friendship and good-fellowship to him--swearin that William was, after
all, a devilish good fellow, for a Scotchman. The bagman, however, was
by this time pretty weel on by the head; and this micht hae had some
share in producin this new-born kindness for the Scotchman. However this
may be, being both anxious to get on to Carlisle that nicht, they
agreed--such good freends had they thus suddenly become--to travel
together. This settled, their horses were brought to the door. William's
packs had been sent on before, and he had hired ane o' my horses to
carry him unto Carlisle. Just as they were gaun oot the passage there,
to the door to mount, William hings back a bit, lettin the bagman gang
on before him, and whispers into my ear--

"I'll play that pockpuddin a pliskie yet. Hae ye such a thing as an auld
broad bonnet aboot ye, that ye could lend me?"

Little dreamin what he was gaun to do with it, I replied I had; and
runnin into the kitchen here, I took down frae a nail, ane that I used
to wear when gaun aboot the garden, and gae it to him. William took it,
rowed it up, and thrust it in his pocket, without sayin a word, and, in
three minutes after, the twa war aff.

On arrivin within aboot a mile o' Carlisle, Willie proposed to the
bagman that they should go into a public-house that was on the roadside,
and hae something before they entered the toon, as they required to part
a wee on this side o't--William having, he said, some sma' business to
do aff the road. To this proposal the Englishman readily agreed, and in
they gaed, leavin their horses at the door. Here William plied the
bagman--nothing loth, for he was a drucken wee rascal--wi' brandy till
he began to wink, and no to be perfectly certain which end o' him was
uppermost. Havin reduced him to this condition, his freend proposed that
they should be movin, when they both got up for that purpose.

"Where's my _'at_?" said the bagman, turnin round to look for the
article he named.

"Here it's, man," said William, comin behind him, and clappin the bonnet
on his head.

"Thank you, freend!" replied the bagman, generously believin that, as he
felt _something_ put upon his head, it must be his hat; and thus
theekit, he walked to the door, and mounted his horse, as grave and
composed as if a' was richt, and rode aff wi' William alangside o' him.
They hadna ridden far, however, when his friend, for obvious reasons,
desirous o' bein quit o' his companion, said he was sorry that they maun
now part, he requirin, as he told him before, to turn aff the road a
bit. On this they shook hands and parted. The bagman hadna proceeded far
wi' the notorious badge o' Scotland--the broad blue bonnet--on his head,
till he found himsel, he could not conceive how, an object of marked
attention to a' the passers-by. At length, as he approached the town,
this attention became gradually more and more alarmin, and began at the
same time to be accompanied by such symptoms as plainly evinced that it
was not o' a pleasant character.

Popular notice, the bagman very weel saw, he had attained by some means
or other; but he also saw as weel that this by no means meant popular
admiration; for in every face that was turned towards him there was an
angry scowl. Amazed and confounded at bein thus so strangely and
disagreeably marked, the poor little Englishman looked first at his
legs, and then at his horse, leanin forward for this purpose, and then
examined his own outer man all over, to see if he could discern onything
wrang wi' either, that micht account for his sudden elevation in the
public mind; but he found nothing--a' was richt, and the little bagman
was more perplexed than ever. He rode on, however--as what else could he
do?--and at length entered the town. Here the general attention became
still more strikingly marked: people stood on the streets and stared
broadly at him; and, when he had passed, looked after him, and shook
their heads. At length matters came to a crisis. This approached by
occasional cries of "Doun wi' the rebel!" "Doun wi' the Scottish
cut-throat!" "Hang the robber!" "Head him! head him!" If confounded
before, the little bagman was now ten times more so. These terms could
never apply to him, and yet they were most palpably directed to him.
What on earth could it mean? To be taken, too, for a character which of
all others he most abhorred. It was unaccountable--most extraordinary.
In the meantime, both the cries and the crowd increased, till the latter
at length fairly surrounded the little bagman and his horse, and
peremptorily arrested his progress, still shoutin, but with greater
ferocity, "Doun wi' the rebel!"

"Good people," said the perplexed and terrified cratur, "what do you
mean? Hear me for a moment. I'm no rebel. I detest them as much as you
can do. I am an Englishman--a born Englishman."

"Yes, when it suits your purpose, ye cowardly Scottish dog!" exclaimed
one of the crowd, advancin towards him, and seizin him by a leg.

"We know you too well by your head-mark," said a second, bustlin forward
to hae a share in forcibly dismounting the wee bagman; a measure which
was now evidently contemplated, if not determined on, by the crowd.

"Yes, yes!" shouted a third, "he has the mark o' the beast on him. Doun
wi' him! doun wi' him! He can't deny the blue bonnet. Doun wi' it, and
the head that's in it!" Seein all eyes at this moment directed to that
part o' his person where a hat should have been, the wee bagman
instinctively clapped his hand on his head. It felt strange! There was
no superstructure--all was bare and flat. He pulled aff the mysterious
coverin, and beheld with horror and amazement a large, broad, Scottish
blue bonnet, the size o' a cart wheel, with a red knob, like an
overgrown cherry, in the centre o't.

"Ay, where got ye that? where got ye that?" exclaimed some one frae the
crowd. But, though the question was put, no answer was permitted to the
questioned. In the next instant he was on his back on the street, kickin
and strugglin amongst the feet o' his assailants, who applied the latter
to all parts o' his person wi' a rapidity and vigour o' execution that
threatened, and certainly would hae extinguished, the wee life o' him,
if he hadna been rescued a trifle on this side o't by a guard o'
sodgers, whom the alarm had brought to the spot.

Battered, bruised, speechless, and his face streamin wi' blood, the
unfortunate bit bagman was now conveyed to the guard-house, and from
thence, after he had somewhat recovered, to prison, under the same
suspicion which had procured him such rough treatment from the mob. So
that, to appearance, as they werena very nice in thae times, he was
saved frae a violent death only to be subjected to anither; frae bein
kicked into the ither warld to be hanged; and o' this opinion the wee
bagman was himsel for some time, for the authorities o' Carlisle war at
that period excessively loyal, and wadna cared muckle to hae hanged him
on chance. As it was, however, he was kept in jail for a week, when his
innocence havin been so clearly established that the most loyal o' his
judges couldna deny it, he was set at liberty--though wi' a grudge, for
they wad still fain hae hanged him--and a caution never to wear a blue
bonnet in Carlisle again.

"The wee bagman," added the landlord, "has never come this way since,
and I fancy now never will. Come, freends," continued he, "shute in
your glasses--the drink's gettin cauld; and," he said, edging the mouth
of the bowl slopingly towards him, so as to afford him a view of its
contents, "there's a gey drap in't yet." Then, with that forethought
which was a very remarkable and praiseworthy trait in his
character--"Betty," he cried out to a servant girl, "keep the kettle

His call for the glasses of his friends being promptly obeyed, they were
as promptly re-filled, and it is but doing justice to the honest men
assembled on this occasion to state, were as speedily emptied again.
This done--

"Mr Gas," said Walter Gibson, one of the most extensive traders and most
respectable men in the company--"Mr Gas," he said--for they all
addressed him as their chairman--"these are a' queer aneugh stories in
their way that hae been tell't the nicht; but I'm no sure if there's ony
o' them better than the story o' Sandy M'Gill and his mither."

The landlord cocked his ears. "And what story's that, Watty?" he said.
"I never heard it."

"It's no the waur o' that, however," said Watty, dryly.

"No a grain," replied the other, with one of his good-natured laughs;
"but let us judge for oursels."

"I'll do that," quoth Walter; and he immediately began:--"Twa or three
years ago, as ye a' ken, Lord Drumlanrig, son o' the Duke o'
Queensberry, raised a regiment for what was ca'ed the Holland service.
His lordship's headquarters durin the recruitin for the corps was
Dumfries, where he used to beat up on the market days. Amongst those who
were enlisted on ane o' thae occasions was a young lad o' the name o'
Sandy M'Gill--a joiner to trade. Sandy was a handsome, good-lookin young
man--very smart and clever, and possessed o' a good education; that is,
he wrote and figured weel.

On the regiment being completed, it was embodied at Dunse, and then
drilled for some time. It was then marched to Leith, Sandy M'Gill and
a', where it was to be embarked for Amsterdam. Two days after the
regiment had left Dunse, Lord Drumlanrig, mounted on horseback, and
attended by a servant, also mounted, set out from Dumfries, to join his
regiment at Leith, whence he meant to sail wi' it for Holland. On
approachin the Nether Mill, his lordship was recognised, while yet at
some distance, by an auld blacksmith o' the name o' William Thamson.

"There," said he to a bit lively, hardy-lookin auld wifie--it was Widow
M'Gill--"there's Lord Drumlanrig comin forrit."

"Is that him?" quoth the auld wife; "feth and I maun speak to him then!
He's taen awa my puir Sandy for a sodger."

And she ran into the middle o' the road, and, ere Lord Drumlanrig was
aware, she had his horse by the bridle, exclaimin--

"Please yer lordship, ye maun stop and speak to me a wee. I hae
something to say to ye."

"What is it, my good woman?" said his lordship, smilin good-naturedly;
"but I'm in a great hurry, and you must not detain me a moment."

"What I want to speak to yer lordship aboot," replied Widow M'Gill,
taking nae notice o' his lordship's impatience, "is this: ye hae taen
awa my puir son, Sandy, for a sodger, and I'm like to brak my heart
aboot him."

"There's nae guid reason for that in the world, my honest woman," said
his lordship; "as he'll be better wi' me than lyin at hame here, scartin
the porridge pots."

"I'm no sure o' that, my lord, unless ye look weel to him, and tak him
under yer special care. Ye'll fin' him weel wordy o't; for, although I
say it that sudna say it, he's a clever, weel-inclined lad."

"I've nae doot o't, honest woman, nae doot o't," said his lordship, now
endeavourin to move on; "and, you may depend on't, I'll see that he gets
every justice." And he made another attempt to get on.

"Na, na, my lord," said the widow, perceivin his efforts to get quit o'
her, "I winna let ye gang that way--I hae something mair to say to ye
yet; but, as I see a' the neebors glowrin at us, ye'll just come doon
and step into the house wi' me a minute, and I'll tell ye there a' I hae
to say."

"Really, really, my good woman," said his lordship, in great alarm at
this threat o' further detention, "it is impossible--I cannot on any
account--I am indeed in a great hurry, and exceedinly anxious to get

"Deil may care, my lord!--the deil a fit ye'll stir till ye come in wi'
me a bit--on that I'm determined." And she took a still firmer haud o'
the bridle.

"Some ither time, my guid woman," said his lordship, despairinly.

"Na, na, nae time like the present, my lord," replied the widow.

Seein now that, unless he had recourse to some violence--which it was
neither his nature nor desire to hae--it was useless to contend wi' the
resolute auld wife, his lordship dismounted, though, ye may believe, wi'
a very bad grace, gave his horse to his servant to haud, and went in wi'
Widow M'Gill to her little cot. On enterin the hoose, his lordship made
anither desperate effort to prevail on the widow to shorten his

"Now, my guid woman," he said, "let me beg o' you to say quickly what ye
hae to say, for I really will not be detained."

"No twa minutes, no twa minutes, my lord," said the widow, dustin, wi'
great activity, wi' her apron, a chair for his lordship to sit doun

"No, no; I really will not sit doun," said his lordship, determinedly.
"I'll hear what you hae to say standin."

"But ye _maun_ sit, my lord," replied the widow, wi' equal resolution.
"A bonny thing it wad be, you to come into my house, and gang oot again
withoot sittin doun. Na, na, that maunna be said. Doun, my lord, ye maun
sit." And, seein that he wad only increase his ain delay by resistance,
doun, to be sure, his lordship did sit. "Noo, my lord," says the widow,
"I'm sure the deil a morsel o' breakfast ye hae gotten the day yet--for
it's no aboon seven o'clock; sae ye'll just tak a mouthfu wi' me."

At this horrid proposal, his lordship sprang frae his chair--for he was
noo fairly driven at bay--and made for the door; but the widow was as
clever in the heels as he was. She sprang after him, and, before he
could gain the door, had him fast by the tails o' the coat, exclaimin,
as she pu'ed him back--

"Deil a fit o' ye, my lord, 's gaun oot o' this house, till ye taste my
bread and cheese. Ise haud ye fast, I warrant."

Regardless o' her threats, his lordship still pressed for the door; but
the stieve auld wife held on wi' a determined and nae feckless grip, and
he couldna mak it oot, withoot efforts that micht do her an injury.
Seein this, and seein, at the same time, the ludicrousness o' the
struggle, his lordship at length gied in, and returned to his seat. In a
twinklin the active auld wifie had a table before him, covered wi'
bread, butter, and cheese, and a large jug o' sweet milk.

"Noo, my lord, see and tak a mouthfu. It's but hamely fare to put before
a lord; but it's gien wi' hearty guid-will, and that maun mak amends."

His lordship guid-naturedly took a little o' what was put before him.
While doin this, the auld wifie kept up a runnin fire o' sma'-talk.

"Noo, my lord, ye'll be guid to my son. He's an honest man's bairn, but
his faither's dead and gane mony a year syne; and mony a lonely seat
and sair heart has fa'en to my share sin syne; but I aye looked forward
to findin a comforter and supporter in my only son, in my auld age; but
noo he's taen frae me too, and a' is desolation and darkness around me."

Here the puir widow, whose maternal feelins, thus excited by the picture
she had drawn o' her ain loneliness, had suddenly and totally changed
her character, or rather had brocht oot its real qualities, which were,
after a', those o' a kind and feelin heart, raised the corner o' her
apron to her eyes, and wiped awa an involuntary tear. His lordship,
notwithstandin o' the provokin predicament in which he was, feelin much
affected by the widow's lamentations, thus simply expressed, took oot a
memorandum-book frae his pocket, and havin inquired her son's name, and
the name o' the place o' her residence, wrote them doun. He next asked
if she knew in whose company he was.

"Captain Dooglas," replied the widow--"Captain Dooglas they ca' him."
Then, becomin querist in turn--"Do ye ken what sort o' a man he is, my

"Oh, an excellent man, my guid woman," said his lordship. "Your son
could not be under a better fellow." And his lordship noted doun this
circumstance also, wi' the name o' Sandy's captain.

Havin dune this, he replaced his memorandum-book in his pocket, and rose
frae his seat, the widow noo offerin nae farther resistance; and havin
placed, unperceived, as he thought, a couple o' guineas on the table,
was aboot to leave the house, after shakin his hostess kindly by the
hand--for his lordship was noo rather tickled wi' the adventure
athegither--and promisin to see to the interests o' her son, when the
widow, gettin her ee on the coin, snatched it up, and was forcin it back
on its original possessor, exclaimin--

"Na, na, my lord--I'll tak nae siller for kindness. A' that I want is,
that ye wad be guid to my puir Sandy, whan he's far awa frae his hame
and his freends. Be kind till him, my lord, and tak the widow's blessin
in return." And she was pressin the money back on his lordship, when he
ran frae her, got oot o' the hoose, and was aboot to mount his horse,
when, to his unutterable horror, he heard the widow exclaimin, "Gude
guide me! I hae a' this time forgotten your servant, my lord; and he'll
be hungry aneugh, too, puir fallow, I hae nae doot." And she ran and
seized _his_ horse next by the bridle. "Come doun, lad, and come in by a
bit, and tak a mouthfu. His lordship, I'm sure, 'll wait twa or three
minutes on ye without grudgin't; for the puir maun be fed as weel as the
rich, the man as weel as his maister."

"No, no, no. For God's sake, my guid woman, let us be gone!" exclaimed
his lordship, in an implorin voice, and now beginnin to think he wad
never get oot o' the auld wife's hands.

"Na, troth, my lord, I'll no let him go. The lad _maun_ hae a mouthfu o'

"Then, in Heaven's name," said his lordship, "if ye will hae him tak
something, bring't oot till him here, and dinna tak him aff his horse."

Complyin wi' this request, the very first she had complied wi', the auld
wifie ran in to the house--his lordship, while she was there, tellin his
servant to put at ance into his pocket whatever it micht be--and brought
oot a quantity o' bread and cheese, which the man disposed o' as his
maister had desired him.

The coast being now clear, his lordship, after again shakin hands wi'
the auld wife, and promisin to keep an ee on her son, put spurs to his
horse, and darted aff at full speed, as delighted wi' his liberty as if
he had escaped frae a highwayman; but, fast as he gaed, it was some
seconds before he got oot o' hearin o' the auld wife's voice, bawlin
after him, "Now, my lord, dinna forget Sandy--dinna forget Sandy

On gainin some distance, both master and man drew bridle, and laughed
heartily at the adventure wi' the auld wife o' the Nether Mill.

Aweel, shortly after, his lordship embarked for Holland with a part o'
his regiment--the remainder, amongst which was Sandy M'Gill, proceeding
in another vessel--and arrived there, as did the whole corps, in due
time, and without any accident.

Some days after the landin, Lord Drumlanrig, at parade one forenoon,
after speakin and laughin for a few minutes wi' Captain Douglas in front
o' the line, went up to a certain guid-lookin young sodger in that
officer's company, and callin him out frae his comrades, asked him his

"Sandy M'Gill, my lord," replied the young man, touchin his hat, and
somewhat surprised at bein singled out in this way.

"Exactly," said his lordship. "Well, Sandy, I breakfasted in your
mother's house on my way frae Dumfries to Edinburgh, just before I left
Scotland; and a kind, hearty old woman she is, I assure you."

"I wonder, my lord," said Sandy, blushin, "that my mother could hae had
the impudence to tak your lordship into her puir sooty house."

"It was no impudence at all, Sandy--nae such thing. It was oot o'
kindness to me and affection for you. The breakfast, however, was an
excellent one, and gien wi' a hearty welcome and richt guid-will. But I
promised yer mother, Sandy," continued his lordship, "to look after ye,
and I mean to do sae. Can you write any?"

Sandy said he could.

"Can you figure?"

Another reply in the affirmative.

"Can ye show me your handwriting? Have ye any specimens upon you?"

Sandy pulled out of his pocket some scraps o paper that exhibited his
fist. His lordship looked at them, and said the writing was very
guid--that it wad do very weel. "Now, then, Sandy," he added, "I'll tell
ye what I mean to do for you, to begin wi': there's anither serjeant
wanted for your company, and I hae desired Captain Douglas to appoint
you. You will get a suit o' claes frae the store, and there's five
guineas to you to purchase necessaries, and I hae nae doot ye'll turn
oot a guid and brave sodger."

Sandy endeavoured to express his gratitude for the sudden and unexpected
fortune; but he couldna. Nor, though he had been able, did his lordship
gie him an opportunity; for, anticipatin the lad's embarrassment, he
walked awa the moment he had dune speakin.

Next day, Sandy appeared in the uniform o' a non-commissioned officer;
and, being now on the road to promotion, returned, at the conclusion o'
the war, to his native place, as captain; attributin a' his guid fortune
to the breakfast which his mother gae to Lord Drumlanrig at the Nether

"Aweel, it is really curious how things turn oot sometimes," said lang
Jamie Turner, on the conclusion o' the foregoing story--"very curious.
Did ye ever hear, Mr Gas," continued Jamie, now addressing his landlord,
"hoo Jock Tinwald, a son o' Andrew Tinwald's o' Shaw Hill, recovered
forty guineas he ance lost at the Candlemas Fair o' Dumfries?"

"No," said Mr Gas, looking with interest at the speaker. "I never heard
that ane."

"It was a gey clever ane," said Jamie Turner, and, without further
preface, he proceeded to relate the following adventure:--

On a certain Candlemas Fair, some twa or three years back, auld Tinwald
o' Shaw Hill sent his son Jock to Dumfries, wi' forty guineas in a net
purse in his pocket, to purchase a couple o' good draught horses. Jock
wasna lang in the fair until he fell in wi' twa horses that appeared to
be o' precisely the description he wanted. He inquired their price,
found it wasna far beyond the mark, and, finally, after some chaffering,
struck a bargain with the seller. This done, the young farmer put his
hand into his pocket, to bring out the net purse with the forty guineas.
He started, and looked pale. It was not in the pocket in which he
thought--nay, in which he was certain he had put it. He searched
anither, and anither, and anither, with distraction in his looks. It was
in nane o' them--it was lost, gane! He had been robbed. O' this there
was nae doubt. Poor Jock was in despair, but it was an evil without a
remedy; for he had not the smallest notion when, where, or by whom he
had been plundered. There was therefore no help for it; and, feelin
this, Jock repaired to a public-house, drowned the recollection of his
loss in brandy, and went home at nicht penniless, horseless, and drunk.

Six months after this, the Rude Fair of Dumfries came round; and, in the
thick and the thrang o' this fair, micht hae been seen the braid
shouthers and the round, healthfu, guid-natured face o' Jock Tinwald.
But surely he'll tak care this time how he mingles wi' the crood, or at
least keep a sharp ee on his neebors. Not he. There he is, pushin and
jostlin awa in the heart o' the very densest mass, wi' an apparent
regardlessness o' consequences which is most amazin, considerin the loss
he sustained on a former occasion. Nay, not only is he doin this, but he
is ostentatiously displayin a purse apparently as well filled as the
last one. This does indeed seem the extreme o' folly. But it only
_seems_ so. It is not without a reason. Jock is not so unguarded as he
appears. The truth is, he is just now practisin a ruse which he is not
without hope may help him to the recovery o' his forty guineas.

The purse which Jock is so openly sportin is filled not with gold, but
with copper. It contains, in short, instead o' guineas, a quantity of
farthings, and is thus ostentatiously displayed in the hope of
attractin the notice of the light-fingered gentleman who had relieved
him on the former occasion--and with what promise o' success may be
guessed frae the followin incident.

On Tinwald's first entering the scene o' the fair, he was marked by two
persons o' very equivocal appearance who were hoverin about.

"That," said ane o' them, nudging his neebor wi' his elbow, and inclinin
his head towards Tinwald--"that's the flat I _did_ at the last Candlemas
fair. The easiest handled guse I ever cam across."

"What wad ye think o' our tryin him again?" said the speaker's neebor.

"Wi' a' my heart," replied the other. "He's but a saft ane; but I fear
he'll no hae onything on him this time."

At this instant the fears of the pair of pickpockets on this score were
relieved by a sight of Jock's purse. It caught their eyes in a moment,
and they viewed it with a delight which gentlemen of their profession
alone can know. They felt as sure of it as if it were already in their
pockets. Dropping all other speculation, therefore, they now commenced
dogging Jock, who was fishing away with his purse through the crowd,
like an angler with his fly, for the thief of his guineas or some of his
gang, whom he had a pretty shrewd notion would not be far off. Jock,
however, took care to keep the exhibition of his purse within bounds. He
took care not to make an over frequent or suspicious display of it, only
occasionally, and then returning it to a certain side pocket of easy
access. There was nothing, therefore, which Tinwald was at this moment
so anxious for as to feel a hand in the said pocket; and this was a
gratification which he was not long denied. A hand was introduced, he
felt it, and, turning quickly round, he seized the person to whom it

"I ken ye, freend," said Jock to his prisoner, in a low whisper--"I ken
ye perfectly weel. It was you that robbed me o' forty guineas in a green
net purse at the last Candlemas Fair." (All this was said by Jock at a
venture, but by chance was true.) "Now, I say, let me hae the money back
quietly, and I'll tak nae mair notice o' the matter; but, if ye dinna,
I'll immediately gie the alarm, and hae ye apprehended. Sae tak yer
choice, freend. But, mind, there's a rope round your neck: it's hangin
at the very least."

"Let me go, then, and follow me," replied the depredator, briefly, and
in the same low tone that he had been addressed. Jock loosed his grasp,
and keepin close behind his man, who immediately began threadin his way
oot o' the crowd, followed him till they had cleared it; when, dreadin a
sudden bolt, he cam up close beside him; and thus the two held on their
way, till they cam to a retired part o' the market-place, when the thief
suddenly stopped, and, plungin his hand into his bosom, drew oot a
leathern bag, from which he counted into the astonished young farmer's
hand forty golden guineas. Jock, confounded at his own success, could
scarcely believe his eyes when he looked at the precious deposit in his
hand; and, in the fulness o' his joy, insisted on giein the thief
half-a-mutchkin o' brandy on the head o't. This, however, the latter
declined, and, in an instant after, disappeared in the crowd; and Jock
never saw mair o' him. And sae ends my story, freends," added lang Jamie

"And, by my feth, a richt guid ane--a real clever ane," said the
landlord, as he filled glasses round, and, rising on his little, short
legs, drank to each and all of the company "a soun sleep and a blithe
waukenin." In two or three minutes more, the kitchen of the Floshend Inn
was cleared of its tenants, and for that night, at any rate, no more was
heard in it the sounds of revelry, nor the accompanying glee of the
gibe, or jest, or merry tale.


I had slept on the preceding night at Brampton; and, without entering so
far into particulars as to say whether I took the road towards Carlisle,
Newcastle, Annan, or to the south, suffice it to say, that, towards
evening, and just as I was again beginning to think of a resting-place,
I overtook a man sauntering along the road, with his hands behind his
back. A single glance informed me that he was not one who earned his
bread by the sweat of his brow; but the same glance also told me that he
had not bread enough and to spare. His back was covered with a well-worn
black coat, the fashion of which belonged to a period at least twelve
years preceding the time of which I write. The other parts of his
outward man harmonised with his coat as far as apparent age and colour
went. His head was covered with a low-crowned, broad-brimmed hat; and on
his nose he wore a pair of silver-mounted spectacles. To my mind he
presented the picture of a poor scholar, or of gentility in ruins. The
lapels of his coat were tinged a little, but only a little, with snuff;
which _Flee-up_, or _Beggar's Brown_, as some call it, is very apt to
do. In his hands, also, which, as I have said, were behind his back, he
held his snuff-box. It is probable that he imagined he had returned it
to his pocket after taking a pinch; but he appeared from his very
saunter to be a meditative man, and an idea having shot across his brain
while in the act of snuff-taking, the box was unconsciously retained in
his hand, and placed behind his back. Whether the hands are in the way
of contemplation or not, I cannot tell, for I never think, save when my
hand holds a pen; yet I have observed that to carry the hands behind
the back is a favourite position with _walking thinkers_. I accordingly
set down the gentleman with the broad-brimmed hat and silver-mounted
spectacles to be a walking thinker; and it is more than probable that I
should not have broken in upon his musings (for I am not in the habit of
speaking to strangers), had it not been that I observed the snuff-box in
his hands, and that mine required replenishing at the time. It is
amazing and humiliating to think how uncomfortable, fretful, and
miserable the want of a pinch of snuff can make a man!--how dust longs
for dust! I had been desiring a pinch for an hour, and here it was
presented before me like an unexpected spring in the wilderness.
Snuffers are like freemasons--there is a sort of brotherhood among them.
The real snuffer will not give a pinch to the mere dipper into other
people's boxes, but he will never refuse one to the initiated. Now, I
took the measure of the man's mind at a single glance. I discovered
something of the pedant in his very stride--it was thoughtful, measured,
mathematical; to say nothing of the spectacles, or of his beard, which
was of a dark colour, and which had not been visited by the razor for at
least two days. I therefore accosted him in the hackneyed but pompous
language attributed to Johnson--

"Sir," said I, "permit me to immerge the summits of my digits in your
pulveriferous utensil, in order to excite a grateful titillation in my
olfactory nerves."

"Cheerfully, sir," returned he, handing me the box, for which, by the
way, he first groped in his waistcoat-pocket; "I know what pleasure it
is--'_naribus aliquid haurire_.'"

I soon discovered that my companion, to whom a pinch of snuff had thus
introduced me, was an agreeable and well-informed man. About a mile
before us lay a village in which I intended to take up my quarters for
the night, and near the village was a house of considerable dimensions,
the appearance of which it would puzzle me to describe. The architect
had evidently set all orders at defiance; it was a mixture of the castle
and the cottage--a heap of stones confusedly put together. Around it was
a quantity of trees--poplars and Scotch firs; and they appeared to have
been planted as promiscuously as the house was built. Its appearance
excited my curiosity, and I inquired of my companion what it was called,
or to whom it belonged.

"Why, sir," said he, "people generally call it LOTTERY HALL; but the
original proprietor intended that it should have been named LUCK'S
LODGE. There is rather an interesting story connected with it, if you
had time to hear it."

"If the story be as amusing as the appearance of the house," added I,
"and you have time to tell it, I shall take time to hear it."

I discovered that my friend with the silver-mounted spectacles kept what
he termed an "Establishment for Young Gentlemen" in the
neighbourhood--that being the modernised appellation for a
boarding-school; though, judging from his appearance, I did not suppose
his establishment to be over-filled; and having informed him that I
intended to remain for the night at the village inn, I requested him to
accompany me, where, after I had made obeisance to a supper--which was a
duty that a walk of forty miles strongly prompted me to perform--I
should, "enjoying mine ease" like the good old bishop, gladly hear his
tale of Lottery Hall.

Therefore, having reached the inn, and partaken of supper and a glass
together, after priming each nostril with a separate pinch from the box
aforesaid, he thus began:--

Thirty years ago, there dwelt within this village a man named Andrew
Donaldson. He was merely a day-labourer upon the estate of the squire to
whom the village belongs; but he was a singular man in many respects,
and one whose character very few were able to comprehend. You will be
surprised when I inform you that the desire to become a MAN OF FASHION
haunted this poor day-labourer like his shadow in the sun. It was the
disease of his mind. Now, sir, before proceeding with my story, I shall
make a few observations on this plaything and ruler of the world called
Fashion. I would describe Fashion to be a deformed little monster with a
chameleon skin, bestriding the shoulders of public opinion. Though weak
in itself, it has gradually usurped a degree of power that is well-nigh
irresistible; and this tyranny prevails, in various forms, but with
equal cruelty, over the whole habitable earth. Like a rushing stream, it
bears along all ranks and conditions of men, all avocations and
professions, and often principles. Fashion is withal a notable courtier,
bowing to the strong, and flattering the powerful. Fashion is a mere
whim, a conceit, a foible, a toy, a folly; and withal an idol whose
worshippers are universal. Wherever introduced, it generally assumes the
familiar name of Habit; and many of your great and philosophical men,
and certain ill-natured old women, who appear at parties in their
wedding-gowns, and despise the very name of Fashion, are each the slaves
of sundry habits which once bore the appellation. Should Fashion miss
the skirts of a man's coat, it is certain of seizing him by the beard.
It is humiliating to the dignity of immortal beings, possessed of
capabilities the extent of which is yet unknown, to confess that many of
them, professing to be Christians, Jews, Mahometans, or Pagans, are
merely the followers in the stream of Fashion; and are Christians or
Jews simply because such a religion was after the fashion of their
fathers or country. During the present century, it has been the cause of
much infidelity and free-thinking; or, rather, as is more frequently the
case with its votaries, of _no thinking_. This arose from wisdom and
learning being the fashion; and a vast number of brainless people--who
could neither be out of the service of their idol, nor yet endure the
plodding labour and severe study necessary for the acquiring of wisdom
and learning, and many of them not even possessing the requisite
abilities--in order to be thought at once wise men and philosophers,
they pronounced religion to be a cheat, futurity a bugbear, and
themselves organic clods. Fashion, indeed, is as capricious as it is
tyrannical; with one man it plays the infidel, and with another it runs
the gauntlet of Bible and missionary meetings or benevolent societies.
It is like the Emperor of Austria--a compound of intolerable evil and
much good. It attempts to penetrate the mysteries of metaphysics; and it
mocks the calculations of the most sagacious chancellor of the
exchequer. At the nod of Fashion, ladies change their gloves; and the
children of the glove-makers of Worcester go without dinners. At its
call they took the shining buckles from their shoes, and they walked in
the laced boot, the sandalled slipper, or the tied shoe. Individually,
it seemed a small matter whether shoes were fastened with a buckle or
with riband; but the small-ware manufacturers found a new harvest, while
the buckle-makers of Birmingham and their families, in thousands, were
driven through the country, to beg, to steal, to coin, to perish. This
was the work of Fashion; and its effects are similar to the present
hour. If the cloak drive the shawl from the promenade, Paisley and
Bolton may go in sackcloth. Here I may observe that the cry of distress
is frequently raised against _bad government_, assuming it to be the
cause; when fickle Fashion has alone produced the injury. In such a
matter, government was unable to prevent, and is unable to
relieve--Fashion defying all its enactments, and the ladies being the
sole governors in the case. For, although the world rules man and his
business, and Fashion is the ruler of the world, yet the ladies, though
the most devoted of its servants, are at the same time the rulers of
Fashion. This last assertion may seem a contradiction, but it is not the
less true. With simplicity and the graces, Fashion has seldom exhibited
any inclination to cultivate an acquaintance. Now, the ladies being, in
their very nature, form, and feature, the living representatives of
these virtues, I am the more surprised that they should be the especial
patrons of Fashion, seeing that its efforts are more directed to conceal
a defect, by making it more deformed, than to lend a charm to elegance,
or an adornment to beauty. The lady of fortune follows the tide of
Fashion, till she and her husband are within sight of the shores of
poverty. The portionless, or the poorly-portioned, maiden presses on in
its wake, till she find herself immured in the everlasting garret of an
old maid. The well-dressed woman every man admires--the fashionable
woman every man fears. Then comes the animal of the male kind, whose
coat is cut, whose hair is curled, and his very cravat tied according to
the fashion. Away with such shreds and patches of effeminacy! But the
fashion for which Andrew Donaldson, the day-labourer, sighed aimed at
higher things than this. It grieved him that he was not a better-dressed
man and a greater man than the squire on whose estate he earned his
daily bread. He was a hard and severe man in his own house: at his frown
his wife was submissive, and his children trembled. His family consisted
of his wife; three sons, Paul, Peter, and Jacob; and two daughters,
Sarah and Rebecca. Though all scriptural names, they had all been so
called after his own relations. His earnings did not exceed eight or
nine shillings a-week; but even out of this sum he did not permit the
one-half to go to the support of his family--and that half was doled out
most reluctantly, penny by penny. For twenty years, he had never
intrusted his wife with the management or the keeping of a single
sixpence. With her, of a verity, money was but a _sight_, and that
generally in the smallest coins of the realm. She seldom had an
opportunity of contemplating the gracious countenance of His Majesty;
and when she had, it was invariably upon copper. If she needed but a
penny to complete the cooking of a dinner, the children had to run for
it to the fields, the quarry, or the hedge-side, where their father
might be at work; and then it was given with a lecture against their
mother's extravagance! Extravagance indeed! to support seven mouths for
a week out of five shillings! I have spoken of dinners, and I should
tell you that bread was seen in the house but once a-day, and that only
of the coarsest kind. Potatoes were the staple commodity, and necessity
taught Mrs Donaldson to cook them in twenty different ways; and,
although butcher meat was never seen beneath Andrew's roof, with the
exception of pork of their own feeding, in a very small portion, once
a-week, yet the kindness of the cook in the squire's family, who
occasionally presented her with a jar of _kitchen-fee_, enabled her to
dish up her potatoes in modes as various and palatable to the hungry as
they were creditable to her own ingenuity and frugality. Andrew was a
man of no expensive habits himself; he had never been known to spend a
penny upon liquor of any kind but once, and that was at the christening
of his youngest child, who was baptised in the house; when, it being a
cold and stormy night, and the minister having far to ride, and withal
being labouring under a cold, he said he would thank Andrew for a glass
of spirits. The frugal father thought the last born of his flock had
made an expensive entry into existence; but, handing twopence to his son
Paul, he desired him to bring a glass of spirits to his reverence. The
spirits were brought in a milk-pot; but a milk-pot was an unsightly and
an unseemly vessel out of which to ask a minister to drink. The only
piece of crystal in the house was a footless wine-glass, out of which a
grey linnet drank, and there was no alternative but to take it from the
cage, clean it, pour the spirits into it, and hand it, bottomless as it
was, to the clergyman--and this was done accordingly. For twenty years,
this was all that Andrew Donaldson was known to have spent on ale, wine,
or spirits; and as, from the period that his children had been able to
work, he had not contributed a single sixpence of his earnings towards
the maintenance of his house, it was generally believed that he could
not be worth less than two or three hundred pounds. Where he kept his
money, however, or who was his banker, no one could tell. Some believed
that he was saving in order to emigrate to Canada, and purchase land;
but this was only a surmise. For weeks and months he was frequently wont
to manifest the deepest anxiety. His impatience was piteous to behold;
but why he was anxious and impatient no one could tell. These fits of
anxiety were as frequently succeeded by others of the deepest
despondency; and during both, his wife and children feared to look in
his face, to speak or move in his presence. As his despondency was wont
to wear away, his penuriousness in the same degree increased; and at
such periods a penny for the most necessary purpose was obstinately

Such were the life and habits of Andrew Donaldson, until his son Paul,
who was the eldest of his family, had attained the age of
three-and-twenty, and his daughter Rebecca, the youngest, was seventeen,
when, on a Saturday evening, he returned from the market-town, so
changed, so elated (though evidently not with strong drink), so kind, so
happy, and withal so proud, that his wife and his sons and daughters
marvelled, and looked at each other with wonder. He walked backward and
forward across the floor, with his arms crossed upon his breast, his
head thrown back, yea, he stalked with the majestic stride of a
stage-king in a tragedy. He took the fragment of a mirror, which, being
fastened in pieces of parchment, hung against the wall, and endeavoured,
as he best might, and as its size and its half-triangular, half-circular
form would admit, to survey himself from head to foot. His family gazed
at him and at each other with increased astonishment.

"The man's possessed!" whispered Mrs Donaldson, in terror.

He thrust his hand into his pocket, he drew out a quantity of silver.

"Go, _Miss_ Rebecca," said he, "and order John Bell of the King's Head
to send Mister Donaldson a bottle of brandy and a bottle of his best
wine, instantly."

His wife gave a sort of scream, his children started to their feet.

"Go!" said he, stamping his foot, and placing the money in her
hand--"go! I order you."

They knew his temper, that he was not to be thwarted, and Rebecca
obeyed. He continued to walk across the floor with the same stride of
importance; he addressed his sons as Master Donaldson, Master Peter, and
Master Jacob; and Sarah, who was the best of the family, as Miss
Donaldson. He walked up to his wife, and, with a degree of kindness,
such as his family had never witnessed before, he clapped her on the
shoulder, and said--

"Catherine, you know the proverb, that 'they who look for a silk gown
always get a sleeve o't'--I have long looked for one to you, and now

    "I'll mak ye lady o' them a'!"

And, in his own unmusical way, he sang a line or two from the "Lass o'

Poor Mrs Donaldson trembled from the crown of the head to the sole of
the foot. Her looks plainly told that she feared her husband had "gone
beside himself." He resumed his march across the floor, stately as an
admiral on the quarterdeck, when Rebecca entered with the brandy and the

"What!" said he, again, stamping his foot, "did I not _order_ you to
_order_ John Bell to _send_ the bottles?"

Rebecca shook--but he took them from her hand, and ordered her to bring
the glasses! I have already noticed the paucity of glass vessels at
Rebecca's baptism. They were not more numerous now; and even the
footless glass, out of which the linnet drank, had long ago, with the
linnet, gone the way of all flesh and of all glass; and Rebecca placed a
white teacup, scored and seamed with age (there were but four in the
house), upon the table.

"What! a cup! a cup!" exclaimed he, stamping his foot more vehemently
than before; "did I not _order_ you to bring _glasses_! Me!--me!--Mister
Donaldson drink wine out of a teacup!" And he dashed the cup behind the

"O Paul! Paul!" cried Mrs Donaldson, addressing her first-born, "is yer
faither crazed!--will ye no haud him!--shall we send for the doctor, a
strait-jacket, or the minister?"

Paul was puzzled: his father did not exactly seem mad; but his conduct,
his extravagance, was so unlike anything he had ever seen in him before,
that he was troubled on his account, and he rose to reason with him.

"Keep your seat, Master Donaldson," said his father, with the dignity of
a duke--"keep your seat, sir; your father is not mad, but before a week
go round, the best hat in the village shall be lifted to him."

Paul knew not what to think; but he had been taught to fear and to obey
his father, and he obeyed him now. Andrew again handed money to his
daughter, and ordered her to go and purchase six tumblers and six
wine-glasses. Mrs Donaldson wrung her hands; she no longer doubted that
her husband was "beside himself." The crystal, however, was brought, the
wine and the brandy were sent round, and the day-labourer made merry
with his children.

On the Monday following, he went not out into the fields to his work as
usual; but arraying himself in his Sunday attire, he took leave of his
family, saying he would be absent for a week. This was as unaccountable
as his sending for the wine, the brandy, and the crystal, for no man
attended his employment more faithfully than Andrew Donaldson. For
twenty years he had never been absent from his work a single day,
Sundays and Fast-days alone excepted. His children communed together,
and his wife shed tears; she was certain that something had gone wrong
about his head; yet, strange as his actions were, his conversation was
rational; and though still imperious, he manifested more affection for
them all than he had ever done before. They did not dare to question him
as to the change that had come over him, or whither he was going; for at
all times his mildest answer to all inquiries was, that "fools and
bairns should never see things half done." He departed, therefore,
without telling why or whither, simply intimating that he would return
within seven days, leaving his family in distress and bewilderment.

Sunday came, but no tidings were heard regarding him. With much
heaviness of heart and anxiety of spirit, his sons and daughters
proceeded to the church; and while they, with others, yet stood in
groups around the church-yard, a stranger gentleman entered. His step
was slow and soldier-like. He carried a silken umbrella to screen
himself from the sun, for they were then but little used as a protection
from rain; few had at that time discovered that they could be so
applied. His head was covered with a hat of the most fashionable shape.
His hair was thickly powdered, and gathered up behind in a _queue_. His
coat, his vest, his breeches, were of silken velvet, and the colour
thereof was the kingly purple--moreover, the knees of the last-mentioned
article were fastened with silver buckles, which shone as stars as the
sun fell upon them. His stockings also were of silk, white as the driven
snow; and partly covering these, he wore a pair of boots of the kind
called Hessian. In his left hand, as I have said, he carried an
umbrella, and in his right he bore a silver-mounted cane.[2]

[Footnote 2: To some this picture may appear exaggerated, but many
readers of these Tales will recognise in it a faithful portraiture of
the original.]

The people gazed with wonder as the stranger paced slowly along the
footpath; and, as he approached the door, the sexton lifted his hat,
bowed, and walking before him, conducted him to the squire's pew. The
gentleman sat down; he placed his umbrella between his knees, his cane
by his side, and from his pocket he drew out a silver snuff-box, and a
Bible in two volumes, bound in crimson-coloured morocco. As the
congregation began to assemble, some looked at the stranger in the
squire's seat with wonder. All thought his face was familiar to them. On
the countenances of some there was a smile; and from divers parts of the
church there issued sounds like the tittering of suppressed laughter.
Amongst those who gazed on him were the sons and daughters of Andrew
Donaldson. Their cheeks alternately became red, pale, hot, and
cold. Their eyes were in a dream, and poor Sarah's head fell, as
though she had fainted away, upon the shoulder of her brother Paul.
Peter looked at Jacob, and Rebecca hung her head. But the squire
and his family entered. They reached the pew--he bowed to the
stranger--gazed--started--frowned--ushered his family rudely past him,
and beckoned for the gentleman to leave the pew. In the purple-robed
stranger he recognised his own field-labourer, Andrew Donaldson! Andrew,
however, kept his seat, and looked haughty and unmoved. But the service
began--the preacher looked often to the pew of the squire, and at length
he too seemed to make the discovery, for he paused for a full
half-minute in the middle of his sermon, gazed at the purple coat, and
all the congregation gazed with him, and breaking from his subject, he
commenced a lecture against the wickedness of pride and vanity.

The service being concluded, the sons and daughters of Andrew Donaldson
proceeded home, with as many eyes fixed upon them as upon their father's
purple coat. They were confounded and unhappy beyond the power of words
to picture their feelings. They communicated to their mother all that
they had seen. She, good soul, was more distressed than even they were,
and she sat down and wept for "her poor Andrew." He came not; and Paul,
Peter, and Jacob were about to go in quest of him--and they now thought
in earnest of a strait-waistcoat--when John Bell's waiter of the King's
Head entered, and presenting Mr Donaldson's compliments, requested them
to come and dine with him. Wife, sons, and daughters were petrified!

"Puir man!" said Mrs Donaldson, and tears forbade her to say more.

"Oh! my father! my puir father!" cried Sarah.

"He does not seem to be poor," answered the waiter.

"What in the world can hae put him sae?" said Jacob.

"We maun try to soothe and humour him," added Paul.

The whole family, therefore, though ashamed to be seen in the village,
went to the King's Head together. They were ushered into a room, in the
midst of which stood Andrew, with divers trunks or boxes around him. His
wife screamed, as she beheld his transformation; and, clasping her hands
together, she cried, "O Andrew!"

"Catherine," said he, "ye must understand that ye are a lady now, and ye
must not call me Andrew, but Mister Donaldson."

"A leddy!" exclaimed she, in a tone of mingled fear and astonishment--"O
dear! what does the man mean! Bairns! bairns! can nane o' ye bring yer
faither to reason!"

"It is you that requires to be brought to reason, Mrs Donaldson," said
he; "but now since I see that ye are all upon the rack, I'll put ye at
your wits' end. I am sensible that baith you and our neighbours have
always considered me in the light of a miser. But neither you nor them
knew my motive for saving. It has ever been my desire to become the
richest, the greatest, and the most respectable man in the parish. But,
though you may think that I have pinched the stomach, and wasted
nothing on the back, this I knew I never could become out of the savings
of nine shillings a-week. Yet, night and day, I hoped, prayed, and
believed, that it would be accomplished--and it is accomplished!--yes, I
repeat, it is accomplished."

"Oh help us!--help us?--what's to be dune wi' him?" cried Mrs Donaldson.

"Will ye speak sae that we can understand ye, faither?" said Paul.

"Well, then," replied Andrew, "for twenty years have I purchased shares
in the lotteries, and twenty times did I get nothing but blanks--but I
have got it at last!--I have got it at last!"

"What have you got, Andrew?" inquired Mrs Donaldson, eagerly, whose eyes
were beginning to be opened.

"What have ye got, faither?" exclaimed Rebecca, breathlessly, who
possessed no small portion of her father's pride; "how muckle
is't?--will we can keep a coach?"

"Ay, and a coachman, too!" answered he, with an air of triumphant pride;
"I have got the half of a _thirty thousand_!"

"The like o' that!" said Mrs Donaldson, raising her hands.

"A coach!" repeated Rebecca, surveying her face in a mirror.

Sarah looked surprised, but said nothing.

"Fifteen thousand pounds!" said Peter.

"Fifteen thousand!" responded Jacob.

Paul was thoughtful.

"Now," added Andrew, opening the boxes around him, "go each of you cast
off the sackcloth which now covers you, and in these you will find
garments such as it becomes the family of Andrew Donaldson, Esquire, to

They obeyed his commands; and, casting aside their home-made cloth and
cotton gowns, they appeared before him in the raiment which he had
provided for them. The gowns were of silk, the coats of the finest
Saxony, the waistcoats Marseilles. Mrs Donaldson's dress sat upon her
awkwardly--the waist was out of its place, she seemed at a loss what to
do with her arms, and altogether she appeared to feel as though the gown
were too fine to sit upon. Sarah was neat, though not neater than she
was in the dress of printed cotton which she had cast off; but Rebecca
was transformed into the fine lady in a moment, and she tossed her head
with the air of a duchess. The sleeves of Paul's coat were too short,
Peter's vest would admit of but one button, and Jacob's trousers were
deficient in length. Nevertheless, great was the outward change upon the
family of Andrew Donaldson, and they gazed upon each other in wonder, as
they would have stared at an exhibition of strange animals.

At this period there was a property, consisting of about twenty acres,
in the neighbourhood of the village for sale. Mr Donaldson became the
purchaser, and immediately commenced to build _Luck's Lodge, or Lottery
Hall_, which to-day arrested your attention. As you may have seen, it
was built under the direction of no architect but caprice, or a fickle
and uninformed taste. The house was furnished expensively; there were
card-tables and dining-tables, the couch, the sofa, and the harpsichord.
Mrs Donaldson was afraid to touch the furniture, and she thought it
little short of sin to sit upon the hair-bottomed mahogany chairs, which
were studded with brass nails, bright as the stars in the firmament.
Though, however, a harpsichord stood in the dining-room, as yet no music
had issued from the lodge. Sarah had looked at it, and Rebecca had
touched it, and appeared delighted with the sounds she produced; but
even her mother knew that such sounds were not a tune. A dancing-master,
therefore, who at that period was teaching the "five positions" to the
youths and maidens of the village, was engaged to teach dancing and the
mysteries of the harpsichord at the same time to the daughters of Mr.
Donaldson. He had become a great and a rich man in a day; yet the pride
of his heart was not satisfied. His neighbours did not lift their hats
to him, as he had expected; but they passed him, saying, "Here's a fine
day, Andrew!" or, "Weel, Andrew, hoo's a' wi' ye the day?" To such
observations or inquiries he never returned an answer, but with his
silver-mounted cane in his hand stalked proudly on. But this was not
all; for, even in passing through the village, he would hear the women
remark, "There's that silly body Donaldson away past;" or, "There struts
the Lottery Ticket!" These things were wormwood to his spirit, and he
repented that he had built his house in a neighbourhood where he was
known. To be equal with the squire, however, and to mortify his
neighbours the more, he bought a pair of horses and a barouche. He was
long puzzled for a crest and motto with which to emblazon it; and Mrs.
Donaldson suggested that Peter should paint on it a lottery ticket, but
her husband stamped his foot in anger; and at length the coach-painter
furnished it with the head and paws of some unknown animal.

Paul had always been given to books; he now requested to be sent to the
university. His wish was complied with, and he took his departure for
Edinburgh. Peter had always evinced a talent for drawing and painting.
When a boy, he was wont to sketch houses and trees with pieces of chalk,
which his mother declared to be as _natural as life_, and he now took
instructions from a drawing-master. Jacob was ever of an idle turn; and
he at first prevailed upon his father to purchase him a riding-horse,
and afterwards to furnish him with the means of seeing the world. So
Jacob set up gentleman in earnest, and went abroad. Mrs Donaldson was at
home in no part of the house but the kitchen; and in it, notwithstanding
her husband's lectures to remember that she was the wife of Mister
Donaldson, she was generally found.

At the period when her father obtained the prize, Sarah was on the eve
of being united to a respectable young man, a mechanic in the village,
but now she was forbidden to speak or to look on him. The cotton gown
lay lighter on her bosom than did its silken successor. Rebecca mocked
her, and her father persecuted her; but poor Sarah could not cast off
the affections of her heart like a worn garment. From childhood she had
been blithe as the lark, but now dull melancholy claimed her as its own.
The smile and the rose expired upon her cheeks together, and her health
and happiness were crushed beneath her father's wealth. Rebecca, too, in
their poverty had been "respected like the lave," but she now turned
disdainfully from her admirer, and when he dared to accost her, she
inquired with a frown, "Who are you, sir?" In her efforts also to speak
properly, she committed foul murder on his Majesty's English; but she
became the pride of her father's heart, his favourite daughter whom he
delighted to honour.

Still feeling bitterly the want of reverence that was shown him by the
villagers, and resolved at the same time to act as other gentlemen of
fortune did, as winter drew on, Mr. Donaldson removed, with his wife,
and daughters, and his son Peter, to London. They took up their abode at
a hotel in Albemarle Street; and having brought the barouche with them,
every afternoon Mr. Donaldson and his daughter Rebecca drove round the
Park. His dress was rich and his carriage proud, and he lounged about
the most fashionable places of resort; but he was not yet initiated into
the mysteries of fashion and greatness; he was ignorant of the key by
which their chambers were to be unlocked; and it mortified and surprised
him that Andrew Donaldson, Esq., of Luck's Lodge--a gentleman who paid
ready money for everything--received no invitations to the routes, the
assemblies, or tables of the _haut ton_; but he paraded Bond Street, or
sauntered on the Mall, with as little respect shown to him as by his
neighbours in the country. When he had been a month in the metropolis,
he discovered that he had made an omission, and he paid two guineas for
the announcement of his arrival in a morning newspaper. "This will do!"
said he twenty times during breakfast, as he held the paper in his hand,
and twenty times read the announcement--"Arrived at ---- Hotel,
Albemarle Street, A. Donaldson, Esq., of Luck's Lodge, and family, from
their seat in the north." But this did not do; he found it was two
guineas thrown away, but consoled himself with the thought that it would
vex the squire and the people of his native village. With the hope of
becoming familiar with the leading men of the great world, he became a
frequenter of the principal coffee-rooms. At one of these, he shortly
became acquainted with a Captain Edwards, who, as Mr. Donaldson
affirmed, was intimate with all the world, and bowed to and was known by
every nobleman they met. Edwards was one of those creatures who
live--heaven knows how--who are without estates and without fortune, but
who appear in the resorts of fashion as its very mirrors. In a word, he
was one of the hangers-on of the nobility and gentry--one of their
blacklegs and purveyors. Poor Mr. Donaldson thought him the greatest man
he had ever met with. He heard him accost noblemen on the streets in the
_afternoon_ with, "Good _morning_, my lord," and they familiarly
replied, "Ha! Tom! what's the news?" He had borrowed ten, fifty, and a
hundred pounds from his companion; and he had relieved him of a hundred
or two more in teaching him to play at whist; but, vain, simple Mr.
Donaldson never conceived that such a great man and such a fashionable
man could be without money, though he could not be at the trouble to
carry it. Edwards was between thirty and forty years of age, but looked
younger; his hair was black, and tortured into ringlets; his upper lip
was ornamented with thin, curved moustaches; and in his dress he was an
exquisite, or a buck, as they were then called, of the first water. Mr.
Donaldson invited him to his hotel, where he became a daily visitor. He
spoke of his uncle the bishop of such a place, and of his godfather the
earl of another--of his estates in Wales, and the rich advowsons in his
gift. Andrew gloried in his fortune; he was now reaching the _acmé_ of
his ambition; he believed there would be no difficulty in getting his
friend to bestow one or more of the benefices, when vacant, upon his son
Paul; and he thought of sending for Paul to leave Edinburgh, and enter
himself of Cambridge. Rebecca displayed all her charms before the
captain; and the captain all his attractions before her. She triumphed
in a conquest; so did he. Mr. Donaldson now also began to give
dinners--and to them Captain Edwards invited the Honourable This, and
Sir That; but in the midst of his own feast he found himself a cipher,
where he was neither looked upon nor regarded, but had to think himself
honoured in honourables eating of the banquet for which he had to pay.
This galled him nearly as much as the perverseness of his neighbours in
the country in not lifting their hats to him; but he feared to notice
it, lest by so doing he should lose the distinction of their society.
From the manner in which his guests treated him, they gave him few
opportunities of betraying his origin; but, indeed, though a vain, he
was not an ignorant man.

While these doings were carrying on in Albemarle-street, Mrs. Donaldson
was, as she herself expressed it, "uneasy as a fish taken from the
water." She said "such ongoings would be her death;" and she almost
wished that the lottery ticket had turned up a blank. Peter was studying
the paintings in Somerset House, and taking lessons in oil-colours;
Rebecca mingled with company, or flaunted with Captain Edwards; but poor
Sarah drooped like a lily that appears before its time, and is bitten by
the returning frost. She wasted away--she died of a withered heart.

For a few weeks her death stemmed the tide of fashionable folly and
extravagance; for, although vanity was the ruling passion of Andrew
Donaldson, it could not altogether extinguish the parent in his heart.
But his wife was inconsolable; for Sarah had been her favourite
daughter, as Rebecca was his. It is a weak and a wicked thing, sir, for
parents to make favourites of one child more than another--good never
comes of it. Peter painted a portrait of his deceased sister from
memory, and sent it to the young man to whom she was betrothed--I say
betrothed, for she had said to him "_I will_," and they had broken a
ring between them; each took a half of it; and, poor thing, her part of
it was found on her breast, in a small bag, when she died. The captain
paid his daily visits--he condoled with Rebecca--and, in a short time,
she began to say it was a silly thing for her sister to die; but she was
a grovelling-minded girl, she had no spirit.

Soon after this, Captain Edwards, in order to cheer Mr. Donaldson,
obtained for him admission to a club, where he introduced him to a needy
peer, who was a sort of half-proprietor of a nomination borough, and had
the sale of the representation of a thousand souls. It was called his
lordship's borough. One of its seats was then vacant, and was in the
market, and his lordship was in want of money. Captain Edwards whispered
the matter to his friend Mr Donaldson. Now, the latter, though a vain
man, and anxious to be thought a fashionable man, was also a shrewd and
a calculating man. His ideas expanded--his ambition fired at the
thought! He imagined he saw the words ANDREW DONALDSON, ESQ., M.P., in
capitals before him. He discovered that he had always had a turn for
politics--he remembered that, when a working man, he had always been too
much in an argument for the _Blacknebs_. He thought of the flaming
speeches he would make in parliament--he had a habit of stamping his
foot (for he thought it dignified), and he did so, and half exclaimed,
"Mr. Speaker!" But he thought also of his family--he sank the idea of
advowsons, and he had no doubt but he might push his son Paul forward
till he saw him prime minister or lord chancellor; Peter's genius, he
thought, was such as to secure his appointment to the Board of Works
whenever he might apply for it; Jacob would make a secretary to a
foreign ambassador; and for Rebecca he provided as a maid of honour.
But, beyond all this, he perceived also that, by writing the letters
M.P. after his name, he would be a greater man than the squire of his
native village, and its inhabitants would then lift their hats to him
when he went down to his seat; or, if they did not, he would know how to
punish them. He would bring in severer bills on the game laws and
against smuggling--he would chastise them with a new turnpike act.

Such were the ideas that passed rapidly through his mind, when his
friend Edwards suggested the possibility of his becoming a Member of

"And how much do ye think it would cost to obtain the seat?" inquired
he, anxiously.

"Oh, only a few thousands," replied the captain.

"How many, think ye?" inquired Mr. Donaldson.

"Can't say exactly," replied the other; "but my friend Mr Borrowbridge,
the solicitor, in Clement's Inn, has the management of the affair--we
shall inquire at him."

So they went to the solicitor; the price agreed upon for the
representation of the borough was five thousand pounds; and the money
was paid.

Mr Donaldson returned to his hotel, his heart swelling within him, and
cutting the figures M.P. in the air with his cane as he went along. A
letter was despatched to Paul at Edinburgh, to write a speech for his
father, which he might deliver on the day of his nomination.

"O father!" exclaimed Paul, as he read the letter, "much money hath made
thee mad."

The speech was written, and forwarded, though reluctantly, by return of
post. It was short, sententious, patriotic.

With the speech in his pocket, Mr. Donaldson, accompanied by his friend
Edwards, posted down to the borough. But, to their horror, on arriving,
they found that a candidate of the opposite party had dared to contest
the borough with the nobleman's nominee, and had commenced his canvass
the day before. But what was worse than all, they were told that he
bleed freely, and his friends were distributing _gooseberries_ right and

"What is the meaning of all this?" said Mr. Donaldson, "have I not paid
for the borough, and is it not mine? I shall punish him for daring to
poach upon my grounds."

And, breaking away from Captain Edwards and his friends, he hurried out
in quest of the mayor, to request advice from him. Nor had he gone far,
till, addressing a person who was employed in thatching a house--

"Holloa, friend!" cried he, "can you inform me where I shall find the
right worshipful the mayor?"

"Whoy, zur!" replied the thatcher, "I be's the mayor!"[3]

[Footnote 3: This picture also is drawn from life.]

Andrew looked at him. "Heaven help us!" thought he, "you the
mayor!--you!--a thatcher!--well may I be a Member of Parliament!" But,
without again addressing his worship, he hastened back to his friends;
and with them he was made sensible, that, although he had given a
consideration for the borough, yet, as opposition had started--as the
power of the patron was not omnipotent--as the other candidate was
bleeding freely--as he was keeping open houses and giving _yellow
gooseberries_--there was nothing for it but that Mr. Donaldson should do
the same.

"But, oh! how much will it require?" again inquired the candidate, in a
tone of anxiety.

"Oh, merely a thousand or two!" again cooly rejoined Captain Edwards.

"A thousand or two!" ejeculated Mr. Donaldson, for his thousands were
becoming few. But, like King Richard, he had "set his fate upon a cast,"
and he "would stand the hazard of the die." As to his landed
qualification, if elected, the patron was to provide for that; and,
after a few words from his friend Edwards, "Richard was himself
again"--his fears vanished--the ocean of his ambition opened before
him--he saw golden prospects for himself and for his family--he could
soon, when elected, redeem a few thousands; and he bled, he opened
houses, he gave gooseberries as his opponent did.

But the great, the eventful, the nomination day arrived. Mr.
Donaldson--Andrew Donaldson, the labourer that was--stood forward to
make his speech--the speech that his son Paul, student in the University
of Edinburgh, had written. He got through the first sentence, in the
tone and after the manner of the village clergyman, whom he had attended
for forty years; but there he stuck fast; and of all his son Paul had
written--short, sententious, patriotic as it was--he remembered not a
single word. But, though gravelled from forgetfulness of his son's
matter, and though he stammered, hesitated, and tried to recollect
himself for a few moments, he had too high an idea of his own
consequence to stand completely still. No man who has a consequential
idea of his own abilities will ever positively stick in a speech. I
remember an old schoolmaster of mine used to say, that a public speaker
should regard his audience as so many cabbage-stocks.[4] But he had
never been a public speaker, or he would have said no such thing, Such
an advice may do very well for a precentor to a congregation; but, as
regards an orator addressing a multitude, it is a different matter. No,
sir; the man who speaks in public must neither forget his audience nor
overlook them; he must regard them as his _equals_, but none of them as
his _superiors_ in intellect; he should regard every man of them as
capable of understanding and appreciating what he may say; and, in order
to make himself understood, he should endeavour to bring his language
and his imagery down to every capacity, rather than permit them to go on
stilts or to take wings. Some silly people imagine that what they call
fine language, flowery sentences, and splendid metaphors, are oratory.
Stuff!--stuff! Where do you find them in the orations of the immortal
orators of Greece or Rome? They used the proper language--they used
effective language--

    "Thoughts that breathed and words that burn'd;"

but they knew that the key of eloquence must be applied not to the head
but to the heart. But, sir, I digress from the speech of Mr. Donaldson.
(Pardon me--I am in the habit of illustrating to my boys, and
dissertation is my fault, or rather I should say my habit.) Well, sir,
as I have said, he stuck fast in the speech which his son had written;
but, as I have also said, he had too high an opinion of himself to stand
long without saying something. When left to himself, in what he did say,
I am afraid he "betrayed his birth and breeding;" for there was loud
laughter in the hall, and cries of _hear him! hear him!_ But the poll
commenced; the other candidate brought voters from five hundred miles'
distance--from east, west, north, and south--from Scotland, Ireland and
the Continent. He polled a vote at every three proclamations, when Mr.
Donaldson had no more to bring forward; and on the fourteenth day he
defeated him by a majority of ONE! The right worshipful thatcher
declared that the election had fallen on the opposing candidate. The
people also said that he had spent most money, and that it was right the
election should fall on the best man. He, in truth, had spent more in
the contest than Andrew Donaldson had won by his lottery ticket. The
feelings of Mr. Donaldson on the loss of his election were the agonies
of extreme dispair. In the height of his misery he mentioned to his
_introducer_, Captain Edwards--or rather I should call him his
_traducer_--that he was a ruined man; that he had lost his all. The
captain laughed and left the room. He seemed to have left the town also;
for his victim did not meet with him again.

[Footnote 4: This, I believe, was the advice to his students of a late
professor in the University of Edinburgh.]

In a state bordering on frenzy, he returned to London. He reached the
hotel--he rushed into the room where his wife, his son, and his daughter
sat. With a confused and hurried step he paced to and fro across the
floor, wringing his hands, and ever and anon exclaiming, bitterly--

"Lost Andrew Donaldson!--Ruined Andrew Donaldson!"

His son Peter, who took the matter calmly, and who believed that the
extent of the loss was the loss of the election, carefully surveyed his
father's attitudes and the expression of his countenance, and thought
the scene before him would make an admirable subject for a picture--the
piece to be entitled, "_The Unsuccessful Candidate_." "It will help to
make good his loss," thought Peter, "provided he will sit."

"Oh dearsake, Andrew! Andrew!--what is't?" cried Mrs. Donaldson.

"Lost! lost! ruined Andrew Donaldson!" replied her husband.

"Oh, where is the Captain?--where is Edwards? Why is he not here?" asked

"The foul fiend?" exclaimed her father.

"O Andrew, man--speak! Andrew, jewel--what is't?" added his wife; "if it
be only the loss o' siller, Heaven be praised! for I've neither had
peace nor comfort since ye got it."

"_Only_ the loss!" cried he, turning upon her like a fury--"only the
loss!" Agony and passion stopped his utterance.

Mr Donaldson was in truth a ruined man. Of the fifteen thousand which he
had obtained, not three hundred, exclusive of Lottery Hall, and the
twenty acres around it, were left. His career had been a brief and a
fashionable one. On the following day, his son Jacob returned from
abroad. Within twelve months he had cost his father a thousand pounds;
and, in exchange for the money spent, he brought home with him all the
vices he had met with on his route. But I blame not Jacob: his betters,
the learned and the noble, do the same. Poor fellow! he was sent upon
the world with a rough garment round his shoulders, which gathered up
all the dust that blew, and retained a portion of all the filth with
which it came in contact; but polished substances would not adhere to

Captain Edwards returned no more to the hotel. He had given the last
lesson to his scholar in the science of fashion; he had extorted from
him the last fee he could spare. He had gauged the neck of his purse,
and he forsook him--in his debt he forsook him. Poor Rebecca! day after
day, she inquired after the captain--the captain! Lost, degraded,
wretched Rebecca! But I will say no more of her. She became as dead
while she yet lived--the confiding victim of a villain!

The barouche, the horses, the trinkets that deformed Mrs. Donaldson,
with a piano that had been bought for Rebecca, were sold, and Andrew
Donaldson, with his family, left London, and proceeded to Lottery Hall.
But there, though he endeavoured to carry his head high, though he still
walked with his silver cane, and though he was known (and he took care
to make it known) that he had polled within one of being a Member of
Parliament--still the squire did not acknowledge him--his old
acquaintances did not lift their hats to him--but all seemed certain
that he was coming down "_by the run_" (I think that was the slang or
provincial phrase they used) to his old level. They perceived that he
kept no horses now, save one to work the twenty acres around the lodge;
for he had ploughed up, and sown with barley, and let out as potato
ground, what he at first had laid out as a park. This spoke volumes.
They also saw that he had parted with his coach, that he kept but one
servant, and that servant told tales in the village. He was laughed at
by his neighbours and those who had been his fellow-labourers; and with
a sardonic chuckle they were wont to speak of his house as "_the Member
o' Parliament's_." I have said that I would say no more of poor Rebecca;
but the tongues of the women in the village dwelt also on her. She died,
and in the same hour died also a new-born child of the villain Edwards.

Peter had left his father's house, and commenced the profession of an
artist, in a town about twenty miles from this. Mr. Donaldson was now
humbled. It was his intention with the sorry remnant of his fortune, to
take a farm for Jacob; but, oh! Jacob had bathed in a sea of vice, and
the bitter waters of adversity could not wash out the pollution it had
left behind it. Into his native village he carried the habits he had
acquired or witnessed beneath the cerulean skies of Italy, or amidst the
dark-eyed daughters of France. Shame followed his footsteps. Yea,
although the squire despised Mr. Donaldson, his son, a youth of
nineteen, became the boon companion of Jacob. They held midnight orgies
together. Jacob initiated the squireling into the mysteries of Paris and
Rome, of Naples and Munich, whither he was about to proceed. But I will
not dwell upon their short career. Extravagance attended it, shame and
tears followed it.

Andrew Donaldson no longer possessed the means of upholding his son in
folly and wickedness. He urged him to settle in the world--to take a
farm while he had the power left of placing him in it; but Jacob's sins
pursued him. He fled from his father's house, and enlisted in a marching
regiment about to embark for the East Indies. No more was heard of him
for many years, until a letter arrived from one of his comrades,
announcing that he had fallen at Corunna.

To defray the expenses which his son Jacob had brought upon him, Mr.
Donaldson had not only to part with the small remnant that was left him
of his fifteen thousand, but take a heavy mortgage upon Lottery Hall.
Again he was compelled to put his hand to the spade and to the plough;
and his wife, deprived of her daughters, again became her own servant.
Sorrow, shame, and disappointment gnawed in his heart. His garments of
pride, now worn threadbare, were cut off for ever. The persecution, the
mockery of his neighbours increased. They asked each other "if they had
seen the Member of Parliament with the spade in his hand again?" They
quoted the text, "A haughty spirit goes before a fall;" and they
remembered passages of the preacher's lecture against pride and vanity
on the day when Andrew appeared in his purple coat. He became a solitary
man; and, on the face of this globe which we inhabit, there existed not
a more miserable being than Andrew Donaldson.

Peter was generally admitted to be a young man of great talents, and
bade fair to rise to eminence in his profession as an artist. There was
to be an exhibition of the works of living artists in Edinburgh; and
Peter went through to it, taking with him more than a dozen pictures, on
all subjects and of all sizes. He had landscapes, sea pieces, historical
paintings, portraits, fish, game, and compositions, the grouping of
which would have done credit to a master. In size, they were from five
feet square to five inches. His brother Paul, who was still at the
college, and who now supported himself by private teaching, was
surprised when one morning Peter arrived at his lodgings, with three
cadies at his back, bearing his load of pictures. Paul welcomed him
with open arms, for he was proud of his brother; he had admired his
early talents, and had heard of the progress he had made in his art.
With a proud heart and a delighted eye, Peter unpacked his paintings,
and placed them round the room for the inspection of his brother; and
great was his brother's admiration.

"What may be their value, Peter?" inquired Paul.

"Between ourselves, Paul," replied Peter, "I would not part with the lot
under a thousand guineas."

"A thousand guineas!" ejeculated the student, in surprise; "do you say

"Yes, I say it," answered the painter, with importance. "Look ye,
Paul--observe this bridal party at the alter--see the blush on the
bride's cheek, the joy in the bride-groom's eye--is it not natural? And
look at the grouping! observe the warmth of the colouring, the breadth
of effect, the depth of shade, the freedom of touch! Now, tell me
candidly, as a brother, is it not a gem?"

"It is certainly beautiful," answered Paul.

"I tell you what," continued the artist--"though I say it who should not
say it--I have seen worse things sold for a thousand guineas."

"You don't say so!" responded the astonished student, and he wished that
he had been an artist instead of a scholar.

"I do," added Peter; "and now, Paul, what do you think I intend to do
with the money which this will bring?"

"How should I know, brother?" returned the other.

"Why, then," said he, "I'm resolved to pay off the mortgage on our
father's property, that the old man may spend the remainder of his days
in comfort."

Paul wept, and taking his brother's hand, said, "And if you do, the
property shall be yours, Peter."

"Never, brother!" replied the other--"rather than rob you of your
birth-right I would cut my hand off."

The pictures were again packed up, and the brothers went out in quest of
the secretary to the exhibition, in order to have them submitted to the
committee for admission. The secretary received them with politeness; he
said he was afraid that they could not find room for so many pieces as
Mr Donaldson mentioned, for they wished to give every one a fair chance;
but he desired him to forward the pictures, and he would see what could
be done for them. The paintings were sent, and Peter heard no more of
them for a week, when a printed catalogue and perpetual ticket were sent
to him, with the secretary's compliments. Peter's eyes ran over the
catalogue--at length they fell upon "_No. 210. A Bridal Party--P.
Donaldson_," and again, "_No. 230. Dead Game--P. Donaldson_;" but his
name did not again occur in the whole catalogue. This was a
disappointment; but it was some consolation that his favourite piece had
been chosen.

Next day the exhibition opened, and Peter and Paul visited it together.
The _Bridal Party_ was a small picture with a modest frame, and they
anxiously sought round the room in which it was said to be placed; but
they saw it not. At length, "Here it is," said Paul--and there indeed it
was, thrust into a dark corner of the room, the frame touching the
floor, literally crushed and overshadowed beneath a glaring battle
piece, six feet in length, and with a frame seven inches in depth. It
was impossible to examine it without going upon your knees. Peter's
indignation knew no bounds. He would have torn the picture from its
hiding-place, but Paul prevented him. They next looked for No. 230: and,
to increase the indignation of the artist, it, with twenty others, was
huddled into the passage, where, as Milton saith, there

    "No light, but rather darkness visible;"

or, as Spenser hath it--

    "A little gloomy light, much like a shade."

For fourteen days did Peter visit the exhibition, and return to the
lodgings of his brother, sorrowful and disappointed. The magical word
SOLD was not yet attached to the painting which was to redeem his
father's property.

One evening, Paul being engaged with his pupils, the artist had gone
into a tavern, to drown the bitterness of his disappointment for a few
moments with a bottle of ale. The keenness of his feelings had rendered
him oblivious; and in his abstraction and misery he had spoken aloud of
his favourite painting, the _Bridal Party_. Two young _gentlemen_ sat in
the next box; they either were not in the room when he entered, or he
did not observe them. They overheard the monologue to which the artist
had unconsciously given utterance, and it struck them as a prime jest to
lark with his misery. The words "Splendid piece, yon _Bridal
Party_!"--"Beautiful!"--"Production of a master!"--"Wonderful that it
_sold_ in such a bad light and shameful situation!" fell upon Peter's
ears. He started up--he hurried round the box where they sat--

"Gentlemen," he exclaimed, eagerly, "do you speak of the painting No.
210 in the exhibition?"

"Of the same, sir," was the reply.

"I am the artist--I painted it," cried Peter.

"You, sir--you!" cried both the gentlemen at once. "Give us your hand,
sir, we are proud of having the honour of seeing you."

"Yes, sir," returned one of them; "we left the exhibition to-day just
before it closed, and had the pleasure of seeing the porter attach the
ticket to it."

"Glorious!--joy! joy!" cried Peter, running in ecstasy to the bell, and
ringing it violently; and, as the waiter entered, he added, "A bottle of
claret! claret, boy!--claret!" And he sat down to treat the gentlemen
who had announced to him the glad tidings. They drank long and deep,
till Peter's head came in contact with the table, and sleep sealed up
his eyelids. When aroused by the landlord, who presented his bill, his
companions were gone; and, stupid as Peter was, he recollected for the
first time that his pocket did not contain funds to discharge the
reckoning; and he left his watch with the tavern-keeper, promising to
redeem it the next day, when he received the price of his picture. I
need not tell you what a miserable day that next day was to him, when,
with his head aching with the fumes of the wine, he found that he had
been duped--that his picture was not sold. The exhibition closed for the
season; he had spent his last shilling--and Paul was as poor as Peter:
but the former borrowed a guinea, to pay his brother's fare on the
outside of the coach to----.

Andrew Donaldson continued to struggle hard; but, struggle as he would,
he could not pay the interest of the mortgage. Disappointment, sorrow,
humbled vanity, and the laugh of the world, were too much for him; and,
shortly after Peter's visit to Edinburgh, he died, repenting that he had
ever pursued the phantom Fashion, or sought after the rottenness of

"And what," inquired I, "became of Mrs Donaldson, and her sons Paul and

"Peter, sir," continued the narrator, "rose to eminence in his
profession; and, redeeming the mortgage on Lottery Hall, he gave it as a
present to his brother Paul, who opened it as an establishment for young
gentlemen. His mother resides with him; and, sir, Paul hath spoken unto
you--he hath given you the history of Lottery Hall."



"Weel, I dinna ken how it is, Richard," said a Selkirk dominie to his
friend Richard Blackwell, a souter of the same royal borough--"I dinna
ken how it is, but there's naething pleases me mair than some o' them
Border Tales--they're so uncommonly natural. I've often thought, indeed,
in my ain mind, that the writers must get silly, stupid folk to sit doun
and repeat their little histories to them in their ain language; for I
can hardly believe that such true delineations o' character, and such
remarkable instances o' the ups and downs o' human affairs, are mere
inventions. Frequently, when I finish a tale, I exclaim, 'I ken the man
that's meant for;' and for a that, though the picture may be as like him
as your ain face to its reflection in a looking-glass, it's ten to ane
if the author is aware o' such a character being in existence. This is
what puzzles me, Richard. The 'Henpecked Man,' for instance, was a _dead
hit_; but unfortunately every village on the Borders claimed the
bickermaker as well as Birgham; while ilk guidwife might hae been heard
bawling to her next-door neighbour, as she shook the tale in her
clenched hand, 'Filthy fallow! that's our John or your Ned he's been
taking aff.'"

"It wadna be worth their while putting ony o' us twa into prent,"
rejoined the souter.

"I differ with you there, neighbour," replied the dominie; "for there is
no calculating the value that clever and skilly hands can give to rude
materials. Would ye believe, now, to use a funny illustration, that a
farthing's worth o' pig-iron, made into steel chains, rises to mair than
twa hundred times its value? Ye stare incredulously, Richard; but it's
the truth I'm telling you;--so it follows that out o' the raw material
o' our lives, value o' anither kind may be gotten by a proper adaptation
o' incidents and the like: and it often occurs to me, there is that
about my courtship that would make no that ill a story, were it a wee
thocht embellished. Ye shall hear it, however, as it is, and judge for

Love, ye must be informed, Richard, did not communicate itself to my
heart till I was well up in years--probably when I was seven-and-twenty,
or thereabouts--nor did it blaze up a' at once, like a sudden flame--for
it seemed at first but a sma' sma' spark, which often threatened to go
out o' its ain accord, like coals kindled with green sticks--till
Margery Johnson--that's my wife's maiden name--would have come across my
path again like a bonny blink o' sunshine, and presently the dying
embers would grow het once more at the heart, and burn away for a' the
world like a blown-up fire. Now, though Margery, when I went a-courting
her, didna possess ony great personal attractions to make a sang
about--like the feck o' your grand romance leddies--yet she had that
life and buoyancy about her, and blowsy healthiness o' countenance,
which can make a deeper impression on the heart, at least, according to
my liking, than a' the fine complexions, blue een, and artificial forms
in the world. Margery was a little above the middle height--a plump,
robust, guid-looking lass--the apple o' her faither's eye, and the pride
o' her mother--whom everybody spoke well o'. And it was not without
either choice or reflection that my passion for Margery Johnson was
imbibed. Her faither, who is as guid a man as ever broke the world's
bread, attended the Rev. Mr Heslop as weel as mysel; and as the seat
which I occupied gave me a full command o' him and his family--for they
only sat about an arm's-length from me--I had the pleasure o' seeing
Margery, with the lave, every returning Sabbath. I dinna ken rightly
how it was, but when she slipped along the aisle, I felt like a
shortness o' breath, and a queer tingling sensation steal owre my whole
body. In the time o' the singing, too, I could not help from keeking off
the psalm-book, had it been to save me, to see if she were looking at
me; and when our glances happened to encounter, I would have instantly
reddened to the bottom o' the haffets, and impudently pretended, by
casting my eyes carelessly up to the big front window, that it was
merely a casual contact. I cannot take upon me to say how far this was
sinful; but I ken that at such times I sat in a sort o' religious
fervour, on terms o' kindness with my bitterest enemy--for weel can love
teach a moral to the mind--while my heart seemed rinning owre with
gratitude to the Deity for this new proof o' his benevolence and
goodness, in the provision made for puir erring mankind.

I'm no sure whether I have mentioned that Margery was in the service o'
the minister--if no, ye must understand that she was his housemaid; and
the manse, ye may weel conceive, Richard, was not the best place in the
world for carrying on a courtship. I happened to be muckle thought on,
however, by the minister and his wife--for my learning, ye see, brought
me within a very little o' the minister himsel--indeed, we were nearly a
buckle; and I, accordingly, had frequent invitations from him on a
week-day night, to drink tea and spend the evening. On those occasions,
unfortunately, I only saw Margery when she brought in and carried out
the tea things; but one night, when the minister and I were indulging
ourselves after the four-hours was owre (I may mention, for your
edification, Richard, that _four-hours_ signifies the time o' drinking
tea,--_four_, according to Watson, being the ancient _hour_ for the
afternoon beverage)--it was after our tea was done, as I was saying,
that the minister and I sat down to a glass o' whisky-toddy; and, as we
both got very cracky, the minister says to me, jocularly, for he was a
pleasant, agreeable man, Mr Heslop--

"I wonder, James, ye never think o' changing your life!"

Now, it did not just strike me, at first, what he meant; so I bluntly
replied, "Yes, sir; I am weel aware, as the heathen philosopher has
beautifully observed, _Proba vita est via in coelum_--which signifies,
A good life is the way to heaven."

With that the minister and his wife kinked and laughed a guid ane; and
the latter at last cried out to me--

"Mr Heslop means, James, that you should get married."

"Oh, is that what he's driving at?" says I, colouring at my ain want o'
gumption--"truly it's no a slight matter to get married, though I'll no
be after denying that, could I fall in with a likely, serious young
woman, I should have no great objections to make her my wife."

"What think you o' Margery, my housemaid?" says Mrs Heslop, archly--"I
think she would make you a guid wife."

Had I been convicted o' the theft o' a silver spoon, I could not have
felt more confused than I did at this moment--I found the very
perspiration, Richard, oozing out in large drops from every pore o' my
frame; while Mr Heslop, in the midst o' my embarrassment, chimed in--

"You forget, dear, that James must have a learned lady--one who has
attained the _tongues_.--What say you, Mr Brown, to a _bluestocking_?"

"White lamb's-wool, sir, or blue jacey, are both alike to me," says I,
laughing at his drollery. "I'm no particular to a shade."

Another loud laugh from the minister and his wife followed up this
sally, and, at the same minute, the parlour-door opened, and in capered
Margery, with an ash-bucketful o' coals, to mend the fire. Mrs Heslop,
at the same time, went out, and left the minister and me owre our second
tumbler. I thought I never saw Margery look half so interesting as she
did that night; and I was so passionately struck with her appearance,
that, without minding the presence o' the minister, I leaned back on my
chair, and, taking the glass o' spirits into my hand, and looking owre
my left shouther--

"My service to you, Margery," says I, and drank it off.

"I daresay the man's gyte!" says Margery, staring me in the face like an
idiot, as she gaed tittering out o' the room.

I was not to be beaten in any such way, however; and on the afternoon o'
the following Sabbath, I contrived, when the kirk scaled, to get into
the loaning before Margery, and sauntering till her and her neighbour
overtook me, I turned round just as they were passing my side, and, says
I, keeping up with them at the same time--

"Here's a braw afternoon, lassies."

"It's a' that," says her neighbour.

Now, had it been to crown me King o' England, I did not ken what next to
say, for I felt as if I had been suddenly tongue-tacked; and, without
the word o' a lee, Richard, I'm certain we walked as guid as two hundred
yards without uttering another syllable.

"How terrible warm it is!" says I, at last, removing my hat, and wiping
the perspiration from my brow with my India silk napkin.

"So I think," says Margery, jeeringly. And the next minute she and her
neighbour doubled the corner o' the loaning, and struck into the path
which led down to the minister's, without so muckle as saying, "Guid
e'en to ye, sir!"

I made the best o' my way back through droves o' the kirk folk, who kept
speering at one another as I passed, quite loud enough for me to hear

"There now, what a world this is!--isna that the light-headed dominie?
Whar can he hae been stravagin on the Lord's-day afternoon? He can hae
been after nae guid."

This, as ye may weel suppose, was but a puir beginning, Richard; but
still I was determined to hold out and persevere. My next step was to
mool in with Margery's faither; and, as I knew him to be a great
snuffer, I bought a box and got it filled, though I did not care a
button-tap for the snuff mysel, which I used to rax owre to him during
the sermon. Nor did I forget her mother--for it's an important thing in
courting, Richard, to gain owre the auld folk--but day after day I used
to strip my coat-breast o' the bit "mint" and "southernwood" that I was
in the habit o' sticking in my button-hole on a Sabbath-day, and present
them to her, to keep her up in the afternoon service, when the heat was
like to overcome her. I invited Margery's brother, too, twice or thrice,
on a Sunday afternoon, to his tea; and contrived, in seeing him home, to
walk aye within a stone's-cast o' his faither's house, when he could not
for mense's sake but ask me in. On such occasions, the auld man and I
used to yoke about religion, and my clever knack in conversation and
argument did not fail to impress him with a high sense o' my abilities.
Margery's mother was equally taken with my particular mode o'
expression--for schule-maisters, Richard, have to watch owre the
smallest _particle_; and frequently when I have delivered mysel o' a few
long-nebbed words, she would have slapped me on the shoulder, and cried

"It's worth a body's while listening to the likes o' you, Maister Brown;
for to hear ye speak is like hearing a Latin scholar reading aloud frae
a prented book--such braw words, truly, are no found in every head; and
the mair's the pity that your ain is no waggin in a pulpit. Now, what
would I no gie, could ony o' mine acquit themselves in such a manner."

This pleasant intercourse went on for some time, till, one everyday
night, being down at tea with Margery's brother, her mother
says--meaning, no doubt, for me to take the hint--

"Ye mustna sit there, Robert"--that was to her son--"for ye ken your
sister is down at Greystone Mill, and has to come hame hersel the night,
which is far frae being chancy, seeing that there are sae mony o' thae
Irish fallows upon the road."

"I will take a step doun," says I; "it will be a pleasant walk."

"That wad be such a thing!" says the auld woman, "and _him_ sitting
there! Now, I'm vexed at mysel for having mooted it before ye."

"I feel a pleasure," says I, "in going; and it's o' no use Robert tiring
himsel, as he was thrashing aneugh through the day."

"But ye're sae kind and considerate, Maister Brown," says she--"it's
just imposing on your guid nature athegither. Hurry her hame, sir, if ye
please, afore the darkening; but, to be sure, we needna fret, kenning
she's in such excellent company."

I accordingly set off for the Greystone Mill; and when I came in front
o' the premises, I began to see that it was rather an awkward business I
was out on; for I didna ken but Margery might hae somebody o' her ain to
see her hame; and to go straight up to an unco house, and speer for a
female that I had only spoken twice till, and that in a dry
"how-do-ye-do" kind o' manner, was rather a trying affair, Richard, for
one that was naturally bashful, as ye may weel conceive. Into the house
I went, however, and meeting auld _mooter-the-melder_ in the entry--

"How's a' wi' ye, freend?" says I, in guid braid Scotch, shooting out my
hand, at the same time, to give him a hearty shake.

"Ye hae the advantage o' me," says he, drawing back and puckering up
his mealy mouth. "I dinna ken ye."

"I'm the schulemaister o' Selkirk," says I.

"And what may the schulemaister o' Selkirk be wanting wi' me?" says he,
gruffly, still keeping me standing like a borrowed body in the passage.

"I'm seeking a young woman," says I.

"Oh," says he, "ye'll be Margery Johnson's sweetheart, Ise warrant--come
awa ben."

"He's no my sweetheart," says Margery, as I was stalking into the bit
parlour. "I wonder what's brought the randering _fool_ here."

This, I confess, was rather a damper; and had I not been weel versed in
a woman's pawky ways, and kent that she was aye readiest to misca' them
for whom she had the greatest regard, before folk, I'm not so sure,
Richard, what might have been the upshot. I sat doun, however, as if I
had not overheard her, and chatted awa to the miller's twa gaucy
daughters, keeping a watchful eye on Margery a' the time, who did not
seem to relish owre weel the attention I was bestowing on them. I saw
plainly, indeed, that she was a little mortified, for she gaunted twice
or thrice in the midst o' our pleasantry--no forgetting to put her hand
before her mouth, and cast her eyes up to the watch that stood on the
mantelpiece, as muckle as to say--"It's time we were stepping, lad." I
kept teasing her, nevertheless, for a guid bit; and when at last we left
the mill, and got on to the road that leads down to the Linthaughs, I
says to her, "Will ye tak my arm, Margery dear?"

"Keep your arms," says she, "for them ye mak love till."

"That's to you, then," says I.

"Ye never made love to me in your life," says she.

"Then I must not ken how to mak it," says I; "but aiblins ye'll teach

"Schulemaisters dinna need to be taught," says she; "ye ken nicelies how
to mak love to Betty Aitchison--at least to her siller."

This was the miller's youngest daughter.--"What feck o' siller has
Betty?" says I.

"Ye can gang and ask her," says she.

"Hoot, what serves a' this cangling?" says I, taking hold o' her arm,
and slipping it into mine--"you are as het in the temper as a
jenny-nettle, woman."

"Ye're the first that said it," says she.

"And I hope I'll be the last," says I. And on we joggit, as loving-like
as if we had been returning from the kirk on our bridal.

It might be four weeks after this meeting, that Margery and I were out,
on an autumn evening, in the lang green loaning that leads down to the
Linthaughs. It was as bonny a night as man could be abroad in: the moon,
nearly full, was just rising owre the Black Cairn, and the deep
stillness that prevailed was only broken by the low monotonous murmur o'
the trees, or interrupted by our own footsteps. I dinna ken how long we
might have sauntered in the loaning--aiblins, two hours--and though
inclined a' the time to confess to Margery that I loved her, I could not
bring mysel to out with it, for aye as I was about to attempt it, I felt
as if something were threatening to choke me. At last I thought on an
expedient. And what was it, think ye? No--you'll not guess, Richard; but
you'll laugh when you hear. I had recently got by heart the affecting
ballad that had been written by a freend o' my ain, on Willie Grahame
and Jeanie Sanderson o' Cavers, a little before Jeanie's death; and,
thinks I--as I was a capital hand at the Scotch--Ise try what effect the
reciting o' it will have upon Margery; for wha kens but it may move her
heart to love and pity? This scheme being formed, I says to her--

"Margery, did you ever hear the waesome ballad about Jeanie Sanderson
and her sweetheart?"

"Where was I to hear it?" says she.

"Would ye like to hear it?" says I.

"I'm no caring," says she.

And wi' that I began the ditty; but, as it has never been in prent, I
had better rin owre it, that you may be able to judge o' its fitness for
accomplishing my _end_. It begins as if Jeanie--who was dying o'
consumption--were addressing hersel to Willie Grahame, and he to
her--_vice versâ_.

             SCOTTISH BALLAD.

    "Six years have come and gane, Willie,
      Since first I met with you;
    And through each chequer'd scene I've been
      Affectionate and true.
    But now my yearning heart must a'
      Its cherish'd hopes resign;
    For never on this side the grave
      Can my true love be mine."

    "Oh, do not speak o' death, Jeanie,
      Unless that ye would break
    The heart that cheerfully would shed
      Its life's-blood for your sake;--
    For what a dreary blank this world
      Would prove to me, I trow,
    If ye were sleeping your long sleep
      Upon yon cauld green knowe!"

    "When I have pass'd from earth, Willie,
      E'en sorrow as you will,
    Your stricken heart will pleasure seek
      In other objects still.
    For though, when my worn frame is cauld,
      Your grief may be profound.
    My very name will soon become
      Like a forgotten sound!"

    "I'm wae to see the cheek, Jeanie,
      That shamed the elder wine,
    Now stripp'd o' a' the bloom that told
      Your heart's fond love langsyne.
    But do not, Jeanie Sanderson,
      Come owre your death to me:
    It's pain enow to see you look
      So sad on a' you see."

    "I'm dying on my feet, Willie,
      Whate'er you'd have me say;
    And my last hour on earth, I feel,
      Draws nearer every day.
    Nor can ye with false hopes deceive;
      For ne'er can summer's heat
    Restore the early blighted flower
      That's crush'd aneath your feet."

    "Oh, bring once more to mind, Jeanie,
      The happiness we've seen,
    When at the gloaming's tranquil fa'
      We sought the loaning green.
    Ye ken how oft I came when ye
      Sat eerie, love, at hame,
    And tapp'd at that bit lattice, whiles--
      Your ain true Willie Grahame!"

    "It's like a vanish'd dream, Willie,
      The memory o' the past,
    And oft I've thought our happiness
      Owre great at times to last.
    Alas! your coming now I watch
      In sickness and in pain;
    But will ye seek my mother's door
      When once that I am gane?"

    "You're harbouring thoughts o' me, Jeanie.
      It's wrong for you to breathe;
    For oh, is wretchedness the gift
      To _me_ ye would bequeath?
    I've ne'er through life loved ane but you;
      And must the hopes o' years
    Be rooted from my heart at once,
      And quench'd in bitter tears?"

    "Ye stand 'tween me and heaven, Willie,
      Yet, oh, I do not blame,
    Nor seek to wound the feeling heart,
      Whose love was aye the same.
    But love is selfish to the last,
      And I should like to wear
    The locket round my neck, when gane,
      That holds my Willie's hair!"

    "It cuts me to the heart, Jeanie,
      To see you thus give way
    To trouble ye are forcing on,
      For a' your freends can say.
    And do ye think that I could e'er
      To others passion vow,
    Were death to break the link that binds
      Our hearts so closely now?"

    "It may be that long time, Willie,
      Will teach you to forget,
    Nor leave within your breast--for me--
      One feeling o' regret.
    But, should you fold another's heart
      To yours with fond regard,
    Oh, think on her who then shall lie
      Happ'd up in yon kirkyard!"

Weel, a' the time I was repeating the ballad, I saw, in the changing
expression o' Margery's countenance, that there was a tender struggle
going on in her heart; but when I came to the last verse, she could
restrain her feelings no longer, but grat outright, as if Jeanie had
been her ain sister. I was rather on, Richard, for the greeting mysel;
but, affecting an indifference I did not feel, I says to her, as she was
in the act o' wiping her eyes wi' her pocket-napkin--

"Would ye greet for me, Margery, were I dying?"

"You're very like a dying person, or you're naething," says she.

"There are few lovers to be met wi'," says I, "like Willie Grahame and
Jeanie Sanderson--their devotedness is rare."

"Ye'll be judging frae yersel, Ise warrant," says Margery.

"Oh," says I, "I do not doubt but I could mak as guid a sweetheart as
Willie Grahame, would onybody try me. But I've a secret to tell ye,
woman," continued I, summoning up courage to mak a confession.

"Women canna keep secrets," says she; "so ye had better no trust me wi'

A long silence was the upshot o' this, and we sauntered on, as if we had
been two walking statues, till we came within sight o' the manse.
Margery could not but notice my perplexity; for I looked round and round
about me a thousand times, for fear o' listeners, and hemmed again and
again, as the words mounted to my lips, and swooned away in a burning
blush on my face.

"What was it ye were gaun to tell me?" at last says she. "It maun be
some great secret, surely, that ye're in such terror to disclose it."

"Weel, Margery," says I, in the greatest fervour, locking her hand
passionately in baith o' mine--"if ye will have it--I LOVE YOU!"

"Is that a'?" says she, coolly slipping awa her hand. "I really thought,
from seeing sae muckle dumb-show, that ye had something o' importance to
tell me."

"Might I ask, if ye like _me_?" says I to her, earnestly.

"Were it even possible that I did," says she, "do ye think that I wad be
sic a born fool as to tell ye?--_Atweel do I no!_"

I had often heard, Richard, o' folk being dumbfoundered; but, till that
moment, I never knew what it was to be so mysel; and such was the keen
sense o' my silliness, that I even wished I might sink down through the
earth, clean out o' sight and hearing. As matters stood, however, I saw
there was naething for it but urging Margery to discretion; so I says
till her, seriously--

"I hope in heaven, Margery, that neither your partner nor anybody else
will be the better o' what has passed between you and me this night!"

"What do you mean?" says she.

"Why," says I, "I mean, that ye'll no acquaint them wi' my liking for

"Guid truly," says she, wi' a toss o' her head, "I wad hae muckle to
speak aboot! To tell ye the truth, lad, I never was thinking ony mair
aboot it, nor wad it hae entered into my head again, had ye no mentioned

"I do not care," says I, rather wittily, "how seldom it enter your
_head_, Margery, so long as it engage your _heart_."

"Ye're a queer man," says she, "to be a schulemaister;" and skipped aff
to the manse, without expressing the least desire to see me again.

When I went home and lay down in bed that night, I could do nothing but
toss and tumble; and aye as my silliness recurred to me, I would have
uttered a loud _hem_, as a person will do when he is clearing his
throat, to keep the racking thought down; but, in spite o' a' I could
do, it continued uppermost, and kept torturing me till better than
half-past four in the morning. Weel, thinks I, this is really a fine
pass I've brought mysel to! I'll not only become the laughingstock o'
the minister and his wife, but the whole town will join in with ready
chorus. Time slipped on, however, and things remained much the same,
save that Margery took upon hersel a great many airs, and behaved on a'
occasions as if I were her humble servant. At last, Richard, I took
heart o' grace, plucked up a spirit, and seemed careless about _her_.
That Margery was secretly piqued at this, I had ample proof; for,
meeting William Aitchison one night at her father's--for she had then
left the minister's service--to mortify me, the puir creature paid the
most marked attention to the young man, scarcely goaming me; but, for a'
that, I could see plainly aneugh that she preferred me in her heart,
though her pride would not let her show it. Nor did she stop here; for,
when Aitchison rose to go away, she hurried to the press, and taking out
a bottle o' spirits, she poured him out a dram, which he no sooner had
swallowed, than she put away the bottle and the glass, without so muckle
as saying, "Colly, will ye taste?" But I saw through a' this, Richard;
and, though she went to the door and laughed and chatted with him, I
knew brawlies, from her very manner, that she was acting, and would have
gien the best thing in a' the house, to have been freends with me again.
At last, into the room she comes, and sets hersel doun by the fire, with
her hands owre ilk other. Now, thinks I, I'll pay ye back in your ain
coin, lass; so I rattled away with her brother, for as guid as
half-an-hour, about the qualities o' bone-dust and marl, never letting
on that I saw her a' the time, until happening to pat the auld colly
that lay sound asleep on the hearthstane, the puir creature, vexed at
the thought o' the dumb beast getting that attention paid him which was
denied to hersel, kicked him ill-naturedly with her foot, and ordered
him out o' the room.

"I thought lassies were aye best-natured when they had seen their jo and
dearie," says I, giving her brother a sly dunch with my arm, and looking
slily up in Margery's face.

"She's in the sulks, the jade," says her mother; "and if she doesna keep
a better temper, the worst will be her ain--that's a' that I'll say."

Margery made no reply to this; but taking the candlestick into her hand
that stood on the table, left the parlour without uttering a word.

"What's the matter wi' ye and her now, James?" says the auld wife--for
she did not mind styling me _Maister_, as we were so very familiar,
though I must say that Margery's faither continued to the last to
_Maister_ me--he had such a regard for mysel, and veneration for the

"There is naething the matter with us," says I--"that I ken o', at

"Come, come, lad; ye maunna tell me that," says she; "it's no little
that will ding my lass; and if ye hae slighted her for ony o' the
Aitchisons, it says unco little for you, wi' a' your learning. Oh, shame
fa' that weary, weary siller!" added she, shaking her head, and leaving
the room; "it's been the bane o' true love sin the world had a
beginning, and will, I think, till it have an end."

On my road home that night I resolved in my mind to trifle no longer
with Margery; for I became convinced it was but heartless conduct, to
say the very least o't. To get her to confess, however, that she loved
me, I was resolutely determined on; and, after devising a thousand
schemes, I at last thought o' trying what effect my way-going would have
upon her. Accordingly, as ye may weel remember, Richard, I got a report
circulated that I had an intention o' going out to America, to try my
luck in the other world; so, meeting with Margery one night between the
Rankleburn and her ain house, I asked her if she had any objections to
take a walk with me as far as the Linthaughs.

"What are ye gaun to do at the Linthaughs?"

"Do ye not know," says I, "that I'm about to leave this quarter, for
guid and a', for America?" Her heart lap into her mouth at hearing this,
and she quickly cast her eyes round on me, which were brimful o' tears,
as if to see whether or no I spoke in earnest, and hurriedly withdrew
them the same moment without uttering a word. "It's a trying thing,"
says I, "to leave the place o' ane's nativity. It may appear childish,
but there is a charm attaches even to the schulehouse, with its clay
floor, and dirty hacked tables, that my heart cannot resist; and, as
sure as death, Margery, the very wooden chair, whose hind legs I rock
backwards and forwards on when the class is ranged before me, dimmed my
eyes with tears this morning, when I reflected that, in a few weeks,
some stranger lad should sit upon it. It was but the other night, too,
that I chanced to light upon a few simple verses in Mrs Heslop's album
that quite unmanned me."

"What were they about?" says Margery.

"Just about a person's way-going and fareweel-taking," says I; "and the
writer, in speaking o' the sorrow it occasioned him, to take a last look
o' ony familiar object, says, truly and feelingly--

    'I never look'd a last adieu
      To things familiar, but my heart
    Shrank with a feeling, almost pain,
      Even from their lifelessness to part.

    I never spoke the word Farewell!
      But with an utterance faint and broken;
    A heart-sick yearning for the time
      When it should never more be spoken.'

"God only knows," continued I, in the same deep earnestness, "whether
the time will ever come round to _me_ when the bitter word shall never
be spoken again. Our evening walks, Margery, will soon be at an end; but
go where I will, never can I forget the green banks o' the Yarrow, and
the beetling brow o' those hills, with their red heather and bleached
bent, where I used to rin when a callant; and no scene, however grand or
lovely, can ever have nearer and warmer claims upon my affection, than
this loaning, Margery, where you and I have watched the lang streaks o'
the yellow sunlight fading in the grey clouds o' evening, as the
twilight thickened round us, rendering us as happy as if we were under
the delusion o' glamoury. In the sad clearness o' regret, the whole o'
the simple images o' the past are crowding owre my fancy; and now that I
am thinking o' leaving Selkirk, I cannot describe to you the melancholy
sensation o' loneliness that possesses me. I depart from it a green
bough, and can only return--if ever I be permitted to come back--a
withered, sapless stem; and, though the sun may shine, the birds sing,
and that bonny green haugh present the same garniture o' sweets and
beauties as ever, what will it a' avail, Margery, if _you_, and a' them
that I care for, have gone down into the grave, and left me without a
tie to bind me to the world!"

Here the tears actually trickled down my cheeks, Richard, having wrought
my feelings into such a fermentation; and Margery, the same moment,
threw her arms around me, and breathed on my neck, in a tremulous and
broken voice, the love o' her warm and feeling heart.

"Will ye cross the Atlantic with me, Margery?" says I, while the dear
creature still trembled palpably by my side.

"Yes, yes," says she, tenderly; "but ye're no gaun to leave Selkirk,
James; and ye ken ye're only saying sae to try me."

"You and my happiness are so utterly entwined, Margery," says I, "that I
could not for a moment harbour the thought, were it to make you uneasy.
_I'll no stir a foot._"

About two months after this took place, Margery and I were married by Mr
Heslop, our ain minister; and a braw wedding we had, there being no less
than eight couple, besides my guidfather, at it. And, certies, she could
not complain o' her down-sitting; for, though I say it who should not, I
do not believe there's a brawer house than ours--among those o' our ain
graith, I mean--in a' Selkirk, or one where you'll find half o' the
comfort; for Margery and I are as happy as the day is long, and our twa
bonny bairns, John and Mary--the laddie's christened after my faither,
and the lassie after the wife's mother--mingle with us nightly around
our cheerful fireside in the snug little parlour, delighting us with
their endearing prattle, and beguiling our cares with the innocent
joyousness o' their happy hearts. You may think me a weak man, Richard;
but I doubt not the most feck o' parents are like mysel--fond o'
speaking about their offspring--no minding that it may be tiresome
aneugh to those that never had ony themselves; yet could we but feel how
the sunshine o' their young and glad hearts reflects itself back upon a
doting faither's, I am certain ye would think that I was more to be
envied in my domestic happiness than the monarch o' England; and weel
can I exclaim, in the words o' the Scottish sang--

    "I view, with mair than kingly pride,
      My hearth--a heaven o' rapture;
    While Mary's hand in mine will slide,
      As Jockie reads his chapter."


"Not to flatter you, Maister Brown," said the souter, when the dominie
had finished the account of his courtship, "your wooing is a capital
tale in itself; and could it only be put into prent, in the simple and
honest manner--for ye hide nothing--that you've gone owre it, I'll
venture to say that a more laughable story is no in the book. Deil o'
the like o' it I ever heard; so muckle duplicity on the one hand, and
sheepishness on the other; and, after a', to think that ye should have
won your wife's heart by such a wily stratagem. Ye talked, if I remember
rightly, o' being weel up in years ere ye fell in love; but atweel I
cannot say the same, for I was owre head and ears in it before I was
rightly into my teens. Having my faither's business in Selkirk to fall
back upon, and being rather handsome, and no that ill-farand, and
naturally gifted, like the rest o' our family--for our cleverness a'
came by the Maxwells--that's our mother's side o' the house--it is not
to be wondered at that the young lassies o' the place should have held
a great racket about me. I was even styled the leddies' man; and, night
after night, I might have been seen strolling away down by the
Pleasance, in company with the Jacksons--high as they hold their heads
above you and me now, Maister Brown; and, at other times, with the braw
niece o' the dean o' guild. At our annual fairs, too, I have seen the
genteeler lasses--farmers' daughters and the like--flocking about me for
their _fairing_ in perfect droves; and I'm certain there was not one o'
them, either from Selkirkshire or Roxburghshire, but who would have
waded the Tweed for me, had I but held up my thumb. I was very ill to
please, however; for, unless I could get one possessed o' youth, beauty,
and siller, I had resolved never to marry. These three requisites I
considered indispensable in a wife; and though, at times, I felt my
prudent resolution nearly sapped by the winning gentleness o' Susan
Baillie, I still prevented the sacred citadel o' my heart from being
openly taken, and kept cautiously speculating upon the untoward
consequences o' a rash and imprudent marriage. My faither dropping off
just as I was entering upon my three-and-twentieth year, his business
was consigned owre to me, with the whole o' his effects; and, although
the heavy bereavement did not fail to make a suitable impression upon my
heart, I felt my personal consequence greatly increased, from the
circumstance o' standing in his _shoon_. The Johnsons went actually mad
about me, besides scores o' others, as weel to do in the world as any
Johnson among them; and many a trap was set for me, by auld crones who
had daughters at a marriageable age hanging on their hands. I continued,
however, to gallant away among them, as a kind o' general lover; and at
a' their select parties, there was I to be found figuring.

Thus weeks, and months, and years passed on, and I still remained in
single blessedness, while the young leddies o' my acquaintance kept
stepping off one by one--some marrying tradesmen's sons, and others the
young gentlemen belonging to the neighbouring counties, till not one o'
a' the number that I used to caper about with was left for my taking.
The very bairns o' some o' them, breeched and unbreeched, were big
aneugh to come to my shop and get the measure o' their shoon; and on one
occasion, when Susan Baillie's auld Irish nurse--Susan was then Mrs
Captain Fraser--brought down the auldest lassie in her hand, to get a
pair o' red boots fitted on, I declare the very tears came into my eyes
when I saw the little creature--she looked so like her mother!

"Losh, me!" says I to Peggy Byrne, "that lassie makes me an auld man."

"Och, and it's your own fault, Master Blackwell," says the nurse, "that
your ould at all at all; for you, who are a gintleman born, should be
glad to have the mistress and purty childer at home, even to spake to."

"A wife is an expensive piece o' furniture to keep about a house," says

"I'm sorry to the heart for you, sir," says she; "and if you care for
yoursilf, you'll not let a thrifle of money prevint you from trating
yoursilf to some genteel cratur of a wife. Will you just give a look to
this swate girleen, God bless it!" added she, kissing the wee lassie,
"and say if ye could grudge her bit of brade, poor sowl, or the brade of
the moder that bore her?"

"But I cannot get anybody to please me, woman," says I, jocularly.

"Take my word and honour, as an Irishwoman," says Peggy, in Hibernian
warmth, "you'll bring the shame of the world on yoursilf, and ye will,
ye will. I thought once you could not live after my mistress Susan; but
she's lost to you, anyhow, the jewel, and I only know you will never
have it in your power to get a glance of love from such two swate eyes

"There are better fish in the sea," says I, "than ever came out o' it."

"Don't attimpt to say so," says she; "for, though many a nate, dacent
girl is to the fore, 'tis a silfish cratur they wish bad luck to; and
maybe your honour will let me tell you the iligant ould story of the
'Crooked Stick' for your idification. Well, then," she went on, "you
must know there was a whimsical young woman sent into a green lane,
having on either side tall and beautiful trees; and she was tould to
pick out and bring away the straightest and purtiest branch she could
find. She was left at liberty to go to the end, if she plased; but she
was not, by any means, to be allowed to retrace her steps, to make
choice of a stick she had already slighted. Beautiful and tall were the
boughs of the trees, and swate to look upon; and each in its turn was
decaived in not being preferred; for the silly maiden went on and on,
without any rason, vainly expecting to get a more perfect stick than
those that courted her two eyes. At long and last, the trees became
smaller, while blurs and warts disfigured their crooked boughs. She
could not, she thought within hersilf, choose such rubbitch. But what
was she to do?--for lo! she had arrived at the ind of her journey, and,
instead of a nate young branch from a stately tree, an ould deformed
bough was all that remained within her reach. So the silly maiden had to
take the _crooked stick_ at last, and return with it in her hand, amidst
the jeering of the beautiful trees which she had formerly despised. And
now," said Peggy Byrne, in conclusion, "remember the _crooked stick_,
your honour, and give over your dilly-dallying, or sure enough you'll
get it--you will."

I laughed heartily at the Irish nurse's foolery; and that very night, I
mind, I had as queer a dream as mortal ever dreamed. I thought I was out
on a fine summer's day in the month o' June, fishing in the stream a
little below Selkirk, where the Tweed is augmented by the Ettrick. I
was angling, I thought, with the artificial fly in the manner o' worm;
and, though the water was very turbid, trouts, like silly women, are so
apt to be taken with _appearances_, that that day multitudes o' them
eagerly seized the deadly barb, and only found out the deceit at the
precious cost o' their lives! I imagined I was particularly nice,
however, in choosing the fish I raised; for, as I drew them ashore upon
the nearest channel, instead o' rinning forward with alacrity and
seizing them, I thought I stood like an innocent, turning owre in my
mind whether the trouts were o' such a quality as to repay me for the
trouble o' stooping to take them up. Presently the fish, not being
properly banked, would have broken the gut and torn themselves from the
hook, leaving me in bewilderment and shame, to execrate my ain stupid
indecision. But this was not the worst o' it; for in some cases I
actually fancied I saw the same bonny detached trouts taken further down
the stream by other anglers, while a number, after a fierce struggle to
get free, would have been seen pining, with wounded hearts, at the
bottom o' the water, unable apparently either to feed or spawn. To add
to my vexation, Maister Brown, the stream began suddenly to clear, while
the fish, from the quantity o' food that covered the water, grew lazy,
and would not so muckle as move. At last I thought I threw in, for the
last time, in a fit o' desperation, and what should I do but hook a huge
salmon by the side fin! He immediately started in beautiful style for
his far hame, the sea; and as a fish so fastened was no better secured
than a young bluid-horse bridled by the middle instead o' the mouth, I
saw there was nothing for it but following him, and using my legs as
weel as my line. Away we accordingly went, at a dead heat, down the
Tweed--starting from about Ettrick foot, while the fish every now and
then would have sprung furiously out o' the water in his attempts to
shiver the line with his tail. It would not a' do, however; and, after
a great many hours' play, I thought we landed at "Coldstream Brig-end,"
where, finding him greatly exhausted, I drew him closer and closer to
the edge, whiles giving him a brattle out into the deep water, till
seeing him unable to give any further resistance, I gaffed and secured
him. But, judge o' my mortification, when, instead o' a bonny plump
salmon, a lean, deformed skate lay in the dead-thraws upon the white
gravel, to mock me for my pains! The bairns, at this moment, whom I
thought I saw distinctly on the bridge, setting up a wicked shout o'
derision, I awoke with the noise. Nor will I ever forget the agony that
I was in--the sweat ran from my body like a planet shower; and do what I
liked, I could not get the disagreeable image o' the ill-coloured toom
skate from my mind; for aye, as I dovered owre again, I was as suddenly
started by the presence o' the hateful fish laying itsel cheek by jowl
alongside o' me.

You may laugh as ye like, Maister Brown, at this strange dream; but,
when you hear how significantly the crowning event in the after-history
o' my life was prefigured by it, you'll see less cause for laughter, I'm
thinking. It might be half-a-year subsequent to the dream, or
thereabouts, that I happened to be in Wooler on a jaunt; and as the
place and the folk about it were muckle to my mind, I was induced to
protract my stay for several weeks. I soon made the acquaintance o'
several o' the young leddies o' the same _caste_ as mysel; and, among
others, I got uncommonly intimate with a Miss Cochrane, and her sister
Arabella. The former, I was told, had a hantle o' siller, besides rich
expectations from some auld aunt in Newcastle; while stories were
whispered o' the prodigious number o' offers she had refused, and that
he would be considered a lucky man who should make off with such a
capital prize! Here, thinks I, I've fallen on my feet at last; and, if I
do not impove the golden opportunity to my advantage, blame me. Miss
Cochrane continued shy, however; and I was beginning to despair o'
making any impression, when, one night, being at a party with her and
her sister, at the house o' a Mrs Cavendish, we a' three grew so
delighted with each other, that it was agreed, before parting, that, as
neither Arabella nor hersel had ever seen Coldstream, and as they had a
genteel cousin there, we should take a trip to it the next day in a
post-chaise. Off we accordingly went on the ensuing morning; and, as
soon as we reached the town, a messenger was despatched for the genteel
cousin, when presently a little dissipated-looking creature made his
appearance, who, at the sight o' his dear Sophia and Arabella, was like
to go into ecstatics. He did not need to be asked twice to join us at
dinner; for he moved about as if the inn had been his ain, and he fell
to the dainties we had ordered as greedily as a half-famished cur. The
wine and brandy, too, were sent down his throat as if his stomach had
been a sand-bed, and he kept drinking glasses with us every whip-touch,
first asking me to join him, and then his "dear cousins," till, long
before the dinner was owre, I had got so completely _rosined_, that I
could not weel make out where I was, or satisfactorily account for the
appearance o' the two strange women that sat on each side o' me. The
haze, however, that hung owre me began to go off in the course o' the
evening; and, when I cleared up sufficiently, the Coldstream birkie
proposed that we should sally out and get a sight o' the famed
"Brig-end," where the well-known Peter Moodie celebrated clandestine

"I'm yer man for a spree," says I--for the brandy, by this time, had
flown to my head. And, starting to my feet, and seizing Miss Cochrane by
the arm--"Come, my dawty," cries I, "let us away down to the brig and
see Hymen's Altar!"

"Oh, Master Blackwell!" says madam, in girlish bashfulness, allowing
hersel at the same time to be led off "only think what our friends will
say, should they hear of _us_ being there! I would not for ten thousand
worlds they should know."

"Fiddledee, fiddledum!" shouted I; and off we strutted, uttering a' the
balderdash, and foolery in the world on our way down; and, when we came
to the Brig-end, I began to sing, at the very top o' my lungs,

    "There's naebody coming to marry me."

But I had scarcely finished the first line o' the sang, when forward
stepped an auld man, with a snuffy white napkin round his neck, and with
a head as white as the driven snaw; and says he, touching his hat with
his hand--

"Would ye be wanting my services, sir?"

"What services in a' the world can ye render, auld carle?" says I.

"I'm the man that marries the folk," says he; "my name's Peter Moodie."

"And what do you seek for your marriage-service?" says I.

"Three half-crowns frae working-folk, and a guinea frae the like o' you,
sir," says he.

"There's a crown-piece, my guid fellow," says I, "and let me see you go
owre the foolery--for the very fun o' the thing."

"Do, do, Peter!" cried the youngest Cochrane and her cousin, eagerly.

"Wha shall I buckle, then?" says the mimicking priest.

"Our two selves," says I, pressing Miss Cochrane's hand, in maudlin

"What's your name, sir?" says the white-headed impostor, looking me
gravely in the face.

"Richard Blackwell," says I, proudly.

"Speak after me, then," says he--"I, Richard Blackwell, do take thee,
Sophia Cochrane, to be my married wife, and do promise to be a loving
husband unto thee until death shall separate us."

I did as I was ordered by the body, and he next caused Miss Cochrane to
take me by the right hand, and repeat a few words after him, muckle to
the same effect. This being done--"Richard Blackwell and Sophia
Cochrane," added the carle, with an air o' mock solemnity, "I proclaim
you husband and wife."

"Get on with the ceremony, ye drunken neer-do-weel," bawled I; "the five
shillings will surely go a deal farther than that. We're not half

"Try to get off, if you can, and see how ye'll thrive," says Peter, and
staggered off, leaving us to enjoy what I considered at the time a mere
farce or bit o' harmless diversion.

Having returned to the inn, we had another bottle o' brandy, to drink to
the health and happiness o' Mr and Mrs Blackwell; and, as I was willing
to carry on the joke, I good-naturedly humoured the fools--for what will
a man not do in drink--and thanked them with sham politeness for their
kind wishes. The bill at length was sent up to _our lordships_; but, as
the cousin had no small change on him, and as the leddies had left their
purses behind them in the bustle o' setting off, I had to pay dearly for
my "whistle," but I cared not. Having got a' settled, we packed into the
chaise, and drove off for Wooler; but I was so far gone, that I lay as
sound as a tap on the auldest Cochrane's shoulder, until we came within
a mile o' the village; and when I awoke the _mercury_ had fallen so low,
that I felt as stupid and dead as a door nail. No sooner, however, did
we reach their door in the main street, than I banged up in the chaise,
and attempted to jump out; but, alack-a-day! my legs fell from beneath
me as if they did not belong to my body, while my puir head swam round
and round, like a light bung in a gutter.--"Will ony o' you chiels,"
hiccuped I to the crowd that stood in front o' the chaise window, "carry
me to Lucky Hunter's?"

"Ye maun pack in wi' your wife, Billy," cried they.

"I've no _wife_," stammered I; "I'm Ma-ma-ister Blackwell, the braw
sou-sou-ter o' Selkirk."

At hearing this, some witty rascal roared out--

    "_Doun_ wi' the souters o' Selkirk,
    And _up_ wi' the Yearl o' Hume."

And, suiting the action to the words, _doun_ from the chaise they
accordingly dragged me; but, as I would not on any account enter Miss
Cochrane's house, the youngsters lifted me into a butcher's slaughtering
barrow, and whirled me along the pavement like daft devils; and in the
lapse o' a few minutes, I was thudded against my landlady's door, and
tumbled out on the dirty street, as unceremoniously as if I had been the
"lord o' misrule" at a village feast. Being carried up-stairs and laid
upon a sofa, I was owre asleep before ye could say "Jock Robinson," and
as unconscious o' the late hullybilloo as the bairn unborn. The burning
fever, however, that the drink had flung me into would not let me sleep
for any length o' time; and about two in the morning I awoke, with my
tongue sticking to my mouth, as if it had been tacked; nor could I open
my lips wide aneugh to let in a teaspoon shank, though my very throat
was cracking with the heat, like a piece o' parched muirland. In raising
mysel on the sofa, I fortunately got hold o' the bell-rope, and, resting
mysel on my elbow, I rang it as furiously as if the house had been in
flames about my ears.

"What, what, what is the matter with you?" sputtered the terrified
landlady, scrambling up the stairs. "People will think it is the

"It is a great enough fire-bell," says I; "and if ye do not keep back
your abominable candle, you'll set my breath a-low."

"The good folk will then take you for one of the new lights," says she.

"For mercy's sake," cries I, "bring up your water-pipe, and let it run
doun my throat, to slocken me!"

"There's not such a thing as a water-pipe in Wooler," says the
aggravating creature. "The good people in this quarter haven't the
_spirit_ in them that you've got."

"Oh, do not torture me, wife," said I, "with your off-taking way, for I
could drink the Till dry, could I get at it."

"You shall have a proper sluicing in it in the morning, then," says the
unfeeling wretch; "so just lay your head high till daylight comes in."

Seeing I could not better myself, I flung my head down with a terrible
clash on the side o' the sofa; while my thirst grew so intolerable, that
the very breath which issued from my cramped lips was like to stifle me.
In this indescribably miserable state I lay till about seven o'clock,
when, by a sickly effort o' strength, I got up, and tried to walk across
the floor; but my brain reeled at every step, and my limbs shook beneath
me like willow wands. With my eyes swimming in dizziness, I next sought
the washhand-basin, and plunging my head into the cauld water, I kept it
there for nearly three minutes, drinking copiously at the same time; and
though the terrible stimulus brought on a severe shivering qualm, that
lasted for nearly a quarter-of-an-hour, it cleared my faculties
sufficiently to lay me open to a' the violence o' self-reproach. Having
swallowed a beefsteak, with plenty o' mustard and pepper, I felt
comparatively recruited, at least in body; and when the day had worn on
to about four in the afternoon, I thought, as the reading-room was only
at the next door, I might contrive to slip in unobserved, and get a
sight o' the papers. I accordingly stole out, and got into the room
without meeting any one, where I found an auldish man in a brown tufted
wig, who used glasses, sitting brooding owre the _bad times_ fornent
the window. He did not take any notice o' me, nor I o' him; but I had
not got weel seated, when in steps a spruce-looking body, in a Petersham
frock, who immediately marched up to the spectacled dumby, and inquired
if there was any news going.

"None," replied the latter, in a sepulchral tone o' voice, "neither
foreign nor domestic."

"You haven't heard, then," says the other, "of Miss Cochrane's affair?"

"Has she been _seized_?" says the elderly gentleman, taking off his
spectacles, and turning up the whites of his eyes.

"Ay, ay, heart and body," says the younger, in a fit of laughter; "she
has been seized by her husband, a half-witted idiot of a fellow, a
native of the town of Selkirk."

"Ye dinna mean to say sae?" rejoins his friend.

"The simpleton was hooked at Coldstream Brig-end," cries the young man
in the surtout, as I stole out, in an agony o' remorse, and directed my
steps to my lodgings, on the most freendly terms with desperation. My
worst fears were instantly confirmed; for I no sooner had entered the
house, than Mrs Hunter placed a letter in my hand from the youngest
Cochrane. I have carried the thing about with me for these ten years
now; and, as I regard it as a kind o' curiosity, ye would aiblins like
to hear it. It's just word for word to this day as I received it:--

     "MY DEAR BROTHER,--Mrs Blackwell, your much-attached wife, has
     passed a miserable night--going out of one hysteric into
     another; and bitterly lamenting that she should have given her
     hand to one who seems determined to repay the affection she has
     heaped upon him with a neglect which, if persisted in, will not
     fail to break her loving heart. She has tasted nothing since
     she left Coldstream, save a mouthful of cold water, and a
     little thin gruel; and our fear is, that the poor soul will
     starve herself to death! Do come down immediately, and try to
     comfort her, and you may rely upon my kind offices in doing
     away with the unpleasant feelings to which your unaccountable
     conduct last night has given rise.--Your affectionate sister,


I turned in actual loathing from the perusal o' this artful scrawl;
while my heart was like to burst with the wild tumult o' feeling that
distracted me. "Is it possible," asked I, again and again, o' mysel,
"that I am married? No, no, it cannot be; and rather than live with a
woman I do not like, I'll leave the country, and transport myself for
life to the farthest isle o' Sydney Cove." How I was kept in my right
judgment throughout that sleepless and miserable night, is a wonder to
me till this day. Twenty times did I fondly convince mysel that it was
a' but a crazed dream; and as often did the truth flash upon my mind,
curdling my very bluid with shame and remorse. The morning at length
breaking, I hastily arose, threw on my clothes, and hurried down to the
"Cottage" for a post-chaise; and in less than an hour I was off, bag and
baggage, on my way to Selkirk. But bad news travel unco fast; and, long
before I reached the town, the story o' my clandestine marriage was in
the mouths o' auld and young; and, on driving up to my ain house, the
first sight I saw was the big radical flag wapped to the chimney, and
flapping out owre the premises, in token o' rejoicing.

"Oh, Tam Wilson," cried I to the foreman, stamping my foot in madness,
"what, in the name o' a' that's guid, has tempted ye to hoist that
infernal rag above my house? Tear it doun this moment, sirrah, if ye
value either your maister's character or your ain employ."

"It was put up, sir, in honour o' your marriage," says he.

"Breathe that word again in my hearing," says I, "and I'll cleave you to
the teeth, ye scoundrel!"

In the midst o' our cangling, a chaise rolled up to the door, when out
jumped my two she-tormentors, and their little blackavised cousin, and
marched direct into the shop. A _scene_ immediately ensued that baffles
a' description. The auldest Cochrane first tried on the fainting and
greeting; but finding, after a great deal o' attitudinising, that she
was as far from her purpose as ever, she next began to storm like a
fury, and even had the audacity and ill-breeding to smack me in the
face--not with her lips truly, but with her open hand--using towards me,
at the same time, language that would disgrace an outcast in a
Bridewell. After expending the whole o' her wrath on my head, the party
left the shop, threatening that they would make my purse smart for it in
the way o' a settlement. And they were as guid as their word; for I had
forty pounds a-year to settle on a person the law acknowledged as my
lawfully-wedded wife, besides incurring legal expenses to the amount o'
three hundred pounds.

Years have come and passed sin a' this happened; but never has my
unlucky marriage gone down in Selkirk: and I not only have lost my
"status" in society, but my presence, at a public meeting or the
like--even at this day--is the ready signal for the evil-disposed to
kick up a riot. This I might even get owre; but when I think o' the
cheerlessness o' my ain house, and the sad desolateness o' my
heart--that my only sister, whose advice I have often treated with owre
little deference, has sunk into the grave with a broken heart--that I
have none to take an interest or enter into the cause o' the inquietude
and suffering that has silently worn down the strength o' my
constitution--and that, were I dying the morn, the fremmit must close my
eyes, and my effects go to enrich an ingrate:--I say, Maister Brown,
when I think on the misery that my foolishness has brought upon me, and
reflect how happy I might have been, had I not become the dupe o' my ain
erroneous opinions and self-conceit--my very heart sickens within me;
and, in the bitterness o' my feelings, I earnestly wish that I were laid
by the side o' my puir sister, and my head at rest, for ever below the


The old strength of Roseallan cannot now boast even a site on the face
of the earth; for (so at least says tradition) the waters of the
Whitadder run over the place where it reared its proud turrets. It is
sad enough to look upon the green grass, and contemplate, with a heart
beating with the feelings that respond to antiquarian reminiscences, the
velvet covering of nature spread over the place where chivalry, love,
and hospitality claimed the base-court, the bower, and the banqueting
hall; but green grass, though long, and whistling in the winds of
winter, carries not to the sensitive mind the feeling of mournful change
and desolation suggested by the murmuring stream, as, rolling over the
site of an old castle, it speaks its eloquent anger and triumph over the
proud structures of man. So long as there is apparent to the eye a place
where the cherished object of memory might, without violence to the
ordinary conditions of nature, have stood, the plastic fancy asserts
instantly her constructive power, and sets before the eye of the mind a
structure that satisfies all our historical associations; but the moment
we see the favoured place occupied by a running water, vindicating,
apparently, a right to an eternal and unchangeable course, the
many-coloured goddess takes fright, and refuses to obey the behest of
the will that wishes her to compete with nature in the work of creation.
We have stated a tradition, and we do not answer for it. There may be
doubts now about the precise locality of the old strength of Roseallan,
but there are none in regard to the fact of its last proprietor having
been Sir Gilbert Rollo, a favourite of King James V., who saw no better
mode of rewarding his loyal subject for important services, than by
giving him a grant of the castle and domains, upon the old feudal tenure
of ward-holding. This the king was enabled to do, from the property
having fallen to the crown by the constructive rebellion of its former
proprietor, whose name we have not been able to discover. Sir Gilbert
Rollo had a wife and one daughter, the latter of whom was called
Matilda. According to the account contained in some letters still extant
in the possession of a branch of the family, this young lady was
possessed of charms of so extraordinary a nature as to make her famous
throughout "broad Scotland." Having little faith in verbal descriptions,
as a mean of conveying to the mind of one who has not seen the original,
any adequate idea of those peculiar qualities of form, colour,
proportion, and expression that go to form what is called female beauty,
we will not transcribe the elaborate account of her perfections which we
have had the privilege of perusing. We content ourselves with stating,
what will give a far better notion of her excellence, that there can be
no doubt of the fact of her having been famous throughout Scotland at
that period as the fairest woman in the kingdom. It has been stated that
Queen Mary showed her picture to some of her French followers, with a
view to impress upon their minds that, beautiful as she was, her country
had produced one even transcending her; though some have asserted that
the picture which hung in Mary's bedroom was that of a daughter of
Crighton of Brunston. We cannot reconcile the different statements; but
it is enough for our purpose that Matilda Rollo was supposed to be
entitled to compete for this distinction.

Sir Gilbert and Lady Rollo were staunch Catholics of the primary church.
They gratified King James, by extending their hatred to all those who
showed any disposition to favour the partial reformation effected by
Henry VIII. of England; whose law of the six articles was then a
subject of bitter contention among all parties, both in England and
Scotland. This religious prejudice was of greater importance in the
family of Roseallan Castle than as a mere question of faith. It
interfered with the success of a suitor for the hand of Matilda--an
English knight of the name of Sir Thomas Courtney. This individual, who
was much famed on the English side of the Borders for his knightly
bearing, manly proportions, and beauty of person, was ambitious of
carrying off the fairest woman of Scotland; as well from an ardent
passion with which he was inflamed, as from the pride of having to boast
among his English compeers of being the possessor of so inestimable a
jewel as the "Rose of Roseallan." His suit had been favoured for a time
by Matilda's father, but had been discharged as soon as it was known
that the lover of Matilda was an admirer of Henry's new system of
religious reformation. This determination on the part of her parents was
not disagreeable to the daughter, who had never been able to see, in the
proud stateliness of the handsome Englishman, those softer qualities
which could enable him to respond to the high aspirations and
impassioned feelings of what she conceived to be genuine romantic love.

For a considerable period, Sir Thomas had not been a visiter at
Roseallan. He had, however, left a deputy in the person of Bertha
Maitland, who had been Matilda's nurse, and was still retained in the
family as a favoured domestic. A favourer of the religious tenets of the
new English reformers, she had looked favourably on the suit of the
lover; and there was reason to suppose that English gold, as well as
English principles of religion, had been employed to gain over her
interest in behalf of the Englishman. Her efforts had been sedulously
devoted to the excitement of some feeling of attachment on the part of
Matilda; but as women can only excite love in their female companions by
rivalship, her praises went for nothing more than an old woman's
garrulity. Matilda felt it impossible to give her affections to her
English suitor, and was glad to take refuge behind the commands of her
father, never to see him, and never to listen to his high-flown
professions of passion.

Many other suitors sought the favour of the far-famed Rose of Roseallan.
They were of the highest of the land--many of them the courtiers of King
James; and the rules and canons of love-making, taken from the old
romances--"Amadis de Gaul" and others--were learned by heart, and acted
on by tongue and eyes. But all was in vain. There was not a single
individual among all those who resorted to Roseallan, not even Sir
George Douglas (who had been favoured by her father), that had been able
to excite the least spark of affection in the bosom of the fair object
of their suit. The circumstance was remarkable, but not the less true;
and the difficulty could not be solved by the ordinary expedients.
Though the most beautiful woman in Scotland at that time, she was the
humblest; and no rejected lover could lay his bad fortune to the account
of pride, or solace his self-love by an imputed arrogance of beauty. The
perfect disengagement (so far as could be observed) of her affections,
kept up the hopes of her English admirer, who learned everything that
took place at the castle through the medium of his hired agent. The
mediations of Bertha were kept up; but her praises had, by repetition,
become tiresome, and fell upon the ear of her fair mistress like the
tuneless notes of the birds that, unfitted to be of the choir of the
forest, chirped on the old walls of Roseallan.

The castle was so situated that one end of it was almost washed by the
waters of the Whitadder. A small bridge was thrown over the river, and
communicated with a deep wood on the other side, then called the Satyr's
Hall. In this wood, and towards the end of the bridge, was a small
bower, which had been built for the sake of Matilda, and in which she
often sat during the heat of the mid-day sun, listening to the songs of
the birds, or reading some of the old romances and ballads of Scotland,
which she loved with the devotion of the heart. It seemed to be in the
imaginary world of these narratives that she had found the lover who
defied the efforts of so many suitors to obtain a place in her
affections. Her rapt fancy, occupied in the contemplation of some form
which it had painted with all the fond colours of exaggerated beauty,
carried her away from the ordinary thoughts and feelings of life. Yet it
was not all imagination; she did not carry her romance so far as to
uphold that no man of mere flesh and blood, however well put together,
and however well decorated by the smiles of nature (the artificial
ornaments of fashion she valued not), could satisfy the heart that had
enshrined within it those hallowed images of a beautiful creative
imagination. One who knew human nature, and the habits of thinking and
acting of imaginative females, would have discovered, in this love of
the fair inhabitants of her own Elysium, the true reason of her apparent
coldness towards the most beautiful and accomplished men of her time;
but they would have suspected that the form of beauty she thus cherished
had some foundation in nature; and that--though an excited fancy engages
in its service the young female heart, and, having limned for it an
ideal object to contemplate, ceases not till it engages for the image
the most pure, and sometimes the strongest affections of the
heart--there is still a substratum in reality to which all may be
referred. So was it with Matilda Rollo. One day, when sitting in her
bower, she had fallen asleep with a volume of Italian poems in her hand.
She had been busy culling roses--the bower was strewed with them; and
the sun sent his rays past the window and entrance of the retreat, as if
to avoid an interruption of her repose. She was, however, interrupted by
another cause; and, looking up, she saw the face of a man gazing
steadfastly upon her through the window. Alarmed, she started up--the
individual disappeared; but the beauty of his countenance, which
transcended anything she had ever seen on earth, or dreamed of in the
grandest of her rapt imaginations, left an impression on her which she
never forgot. She was supplied with a form of beauty on which her fancy
might luxuriate, and to which she would refer all the descriptions in
her favourite works; nor did she fail in this--for, though she could not
discover who the individual was, and did not see him again, she
cherished the beloved image as a treasure, and, day and night, in her
fanciful musings and in her dreams, she delighted to contemplate the
beauty of her imaginary lover.

One morning Bertha accosted her young mistress in such a manner as to
excite her curiosity.

"The cushat doesna use to coo when the owl flies," said she. "Heard ye,
my young leddy, the sounds last night in the beechwood?"

"The owl is generally busy there at night," replied Matilda. "I went to
sleep early, and never waked till morning, when I heard the wind booming
like a moon-baying spaniel through the forest. It had begun before you
slept; but you know, Bertha, you find often a magic virtue in night
sounds that no one else has the wits to discover."

"A lover's flute has mair virtue in it for young maidens than for auld
witches," replied the other, looking knowingly. "Sir George Douglas has
tried his looks and his speech upon you; his success may, peradventure,
be greater through the means o' music, the lover's charm."

"I understand you not, good Bertha," replied Matilda; "you do not mean
to say that Sir George Douglas was bold enough to serenade me in that
house into which he might have entered, and, by a father's authority,
claimed my attention."

"If it wasna Sir George, ye can maybe tell me wha it was," replied the
old nurse, looking cunningly into the face of Matilda.

"I can tell ye nothing, Bertha, for I heard nothing," said the other.

This conversation, which was interrupted by the entrance of Lady Rollo,
roused the curiosity of Matilda, who, ignorant of the interest felt by
Bertha in the suit of the English lover, did not observe in her words or
manner any wish to acquire information, but only a simple badinage on a
subject of love. She trusted her nurse implicitly as her best friend,
and sought her counsel often in those moments of unhappiness when her
mother interrupted the imaginative course of her life by some effort to
get her affections fixed on a proud baron or a courtly knight. The
consolations of Bertha were ever ready; and her innocent and
unsuspicious friend did not observe, in the nurse's zealous efforts to
confirm her against the marriage-plans of her mother, the anxious
workings of the concealed and paid deputy of a lover also rejected. She
intended to have questioned her father about the sounds in the wood; but
that day did not afford an opportunity for the gratification of her
wish. Left to her own imagination, she concluded that some of her lovers
had presumed to address her after the Spanish form of the evening
serenade; and, while she resolved upon listening on the following
evening, she was determined to take no notice of the importunities of
her impassioned lover.

The evening set in with great beauty. The full moon rose high in the
heavens, in which there was not discernible the thinnest wreath of
vapour to form a resting-place for the eye, as it wandered among the
endless regions of pure illuminated ether. The bright queen, paramount
over all, engrossed the whole hemisphere, reducing the twinkling stars
to the dimensions of small satraps of distant provinces, whose smallness
increased the splendour of her august majesty. The stillness of nature
suggested the idea of a general worship of the presiding genius of the
night. Every wind was stilled, and even the Whitadder seemed to glide
along with a greater smoothness than usual; while its singing, mellow
voice seemed as if it rejoiced in the bright reflection of the gay queen
of the heavens it held in its bosom. It was now about nine o'clock.
Matilda was sitting at the casement of her apartment, overlooking the
stream--her eyes were fixed on the beautiful scene; the towers of
Roseallan threw over a part of the river a shadow, at the farther
extremity of which, and, as it were, at the point of the eastern turret,
the round form of the moon, like a bright silver salver, lay still in
the bosom of the water. A little beyond this striking object stood her
bower in the wood; and so bright was the flood of light that penetrated
every part of the forest, that she saw the door and window of the
romantic retreat so perfectly, that she could have detected the entrance
of the august Oberon, or even Piggwiggan himself, if either of them
could have left their revels on the greensward, in that auspicious
night, to favour her bower with a visit. The scene was so inviting, that
she would have been tempted to wander over the bridge into the wood, if
the information of Bertha had not pointed out to her the danger.

As she continued her gaze on the beautiful scene, her attention was
claimed by the form of a man gliding between the trees in the wood. He
came forward to the edge of the river, and stood in a contemplative
attitude, with his arm resting on the branch of an old beech, and his
head directed in such a way as to suggest the idea that he was looking
towards the casement of Matilda's apartment. On seeing him take this
attitude, she retired back, to prevent her white dress from attracting
his attention. A slight examination satisfied her that he was an
individual below the rank of life in which she moved. He was of great
height and commanding aspect; but his dress was that of the son of a
free farmer of that time, being composed of the rough doublet, bound
with a broad leather belt, and the slouched hat, made of thick plaits
of coarse straw, and ornamented with a black riband tied round the
junction of the rim and the crown. Though worn by the inferior orders,
the dress was a noble one, imparting to the wearer an air of robust
strength, with that easy carelessness and rude grace which forms the
_dignité_ of the freeborn son of the mountain. It was only the general
outline of his appearance and dress which Matilda could thus discover
through the light of the moon; but she saw enough to excite her
attention, and she continued to notice his motions.

The stranger stood in the same attitude of mute contemplation for a
considerable time, his face still directed toward the same part of the
building, in spite of the powerful claims on his eye and attention that
were put forth by the splendid scene around him, with the round figure
of the moon shining in the waters at his feet. At length he took his arm
from the branch of the old beech, and, turning round, slowly directed
his steps towards Matilda's wood-bower, into which he entered, bending
his tall person to enable him to get in at the door--a circumstance that
satisfied Matilda of his great height, as her father--a very tall
man--could enter without that preliminary. All was for a time still and
silent; the gentle rippling of the Whitadder deriving from the absence
of any other sound a distinctness which, in its turn, added to the depth
of the quiet of sleeping nature. A soft sound began to rise in low
strains of sweet music, coming apparently from the bower. It was the
voice of a man, modulated into the tones of the pathetic expression of
heart-felt sentiment; the air was slow, and filled with cadences which
brought down the voice to the lowest note; the words--pronounced in the
low tone of the music, and run together by the fluent character of the
melody which accompanied them--could not be distinguished; but the
effect of the plaintive sounds, co-operating with the silence of night,
and the extraordinary scene of lunar splendour exhibited by earth and
heaven, was felt by Matilda as the nearest approximation she had yet
experienced to the realisation of her imaginative creations. The music
continued for some time, and then ceased at the termination of one of
the deep cadences, prolonged apparently for the purpose of expressing a
finale. The individual came out of the bower, and stood again on the
side of the river--the shadow of his tall figure fell on the ground like
the reflection of the beech on which he leaned; he continued his gaze
for some time in dead silence, and then, turning, disappeared in the

Matilda was unable, after all the consideration she could bestow on the
subject, to come to any conclusion satisfactory to herself, as to either
the identity of the individual, or the object he had in view. During the
night, the scene, which had been deeply impressed on her mind, was
verified by the power of fancy; and there was a certain romance about it
which recommended it to her heart. In the morning she questioned Bertha,
to whom she confided her every secret.

"I am perplexed, Bertha," she began. "You asked me yesterday if I had
heard any sounds in the Satyr's Hall, and I have that question now to
put to you. The man that sings in my bower must have some other object
in view than gratifying his own ears or those of the night birds with
his plaintive melody. What means it, Bertha? Come, my good friend,
unravel the mystery, and the grateful thanks of your Matilda will reward

"If the throstle hen kens nae the mottled lover that sings to her, what
other bird o' the wood can come to the knowledge?" answered Bertha. "I'm
owre auld a bird to ken noo the notes o' a lover, or to tell a moulted
feather frae the new plume; but, as far as my auld een would carry, your
night freend looked mair curiously at the east tower o' Roseallan than
men generally do at grey wa's in the light o' the moon. He's as tall, at
ony rate, as Sir Thomas, and I thocht there was only ae man o' his
height in the land where he sojourns. But I think I could unmask his

Bertha looked, to see the effect of her allusion to her principal; but
she got no encouragement.

"Whoever he may be," answered Matilda, "he is a very different kind of
individual from Sir George Douglas; nor is it Sir Thomas Courtney. The
melody is too sweet for the execution of an English throat. He is a
Scotchman; probably some of my Edinburgh courtly lovers, in the disguise
of a free son of the mountains. I cannot listen to his strains; but you
can safely approach the bower, and may, as you yourself have proffered,
ascertain for me who and what he is."

"My young leddy's wish is Bertha's command," answered the old woman;
"watch me with your hazel eyes, over the white bridge, this night at
nine. If he comes again, he shall not go away unknown."

When the evening came, Matilda was again at her casement. The night was
as beautiful as the preceding one; but there was a thin halo round the
moon that gave her a softer aspect; and the diminished sound of the
mellow ripple of the Whitadder seemed to indicate that there was a
zephyr abroad whose presence could be detected only by that delicate
test. About the hour of nine, she saw the thin figure of old Bertha,
rolled up in a cloak, steal silently from a postern of the east wall,
and creep slowly down to the end of the light, airy bridge, that
spanned, with its pure white arms, the bosom of the river. Stretching
forth her bony hand, she seized the rail, and, having got a firm
footing, walked with slow steps along the planks. Her progress was slow,
nervous, and unsteady. Matilda was solicitous for her safety; for she
had never seen Bertha venture along the bridge at night, and she herself
seldom crossed it after nightfall, even with the aid of a resplendent
moon. Her attention was fixed upon her to the exclusion of all notice
of any proceedings on the other side of the stream. The old woman had
got to the middle of the bridge, and Matilda saw with horror her
supposed faithful friend fall. Starting from her seat, she rushed down,
and in an instant was at the end of the bridge. Seizing the rail, she
hurried along, and found the body of the nurse lying extended on the
planks, apparently senseless, though she had merely experienced an
ordinary fall, the result of a stumble. Bending down, the anxious girl
was proceeding to lift her up, when she was, in an instant, seized by
the arms of a strong man, and hurried away to the further end of the
bridge. Stunned by this sudden seizure, succeeding as it did the anxiety
under which she laboured for her nurse, she was unable even to scream,
and lay in the arms of the person that bore her away, helpless, and
nearly senseless. When she recovered herself so far as to be conscious
of her situation, she found she was in the wood, and heard the sound of
the voices of several men, among whom she thought she observed the
disguised figure of a gentleman. They had wrapped a large cloak round
her, and were in the act of putting her on the back of a jennet that
stood ready saddled and bridled, when the man that held her was struck
to the ground by some one that came behind him. He lay senseless at her
feet; a second one shared his fate in an instant; and a third, after
dealing a treacherous blow on the head of her deliverer, flung himself
on a horse that stood alongside of the jennet, and galloped off at the
top of his speed. Meanwhile, she was again seized by another man, and
soon found herself reclining in her own bower.

"The feet o' the remaining horses," said a voice at her feet, "are
raisin the echoes o' the Satyr's wood. The spoilers have recovered, and
have fled after their master, who is, by this time, by the side o' the
Tweed. Hoo fares Matilda Rollo? Can it be excused by high birth and
beauty that the salvation o' their possessor frae the arms o' an
English reformer cam frae the courage or the good fortune o' ane that
daurna lift his face to ask forgiveness for doin the duty o' a

"Whoever you are," cried Matilda, as she recovered, "you have done
little in saving me, if Bertha Maitland lies drowned in the Whitadder;
and that blood that flows down your face may be the dear price of my
safety." And she started to her feet, as if she were to fly to save her

"Content yersel, fair leddy," said the individual who still knelt at her
feet; "my wound is sma', and as to your auld nurse, I saw her rise
without a helpin hand, and, like the stunned bird, shake her feathers,
and return to Roseallan wi' a steadier step than when she wiled ye owre
the bridge."

The last words were pronounced with that irresolution which resulted
from a fear of a false impeachment, and were not heard or understood by
Matilda, who, made easy on the subject of her solicitude, now
contemplated the individual who had saved her. The blood flowed
profusely over his face, yet she could perceive that he was the same
person whom she had seen on the previous night; and the estimate she had
then made of his character was realised. But a new source of curiosity
and interest was now opened to her. She recognised in his countenance,
which was formed after the finest model that ever came from the pencil
of Apelles or the chisel of Praxiteles, the original of the image which
she had so often, in that bower, called up to the contemplation of a
fancy excited by the reading of "Amadis" or "Cavalcante." She was
surprised and confused; her mind recurred back to former times; a
floating vision crossed her fancy; she fixed her eyes on the beautiful,
though blood-stained countenance of her protector, and, blushing to the
ears, threw them again on the ground. Her confusion prevented her from
speaking, as well as from rising to return to the castle; and the doubt
which clung to her mind, whether all the extraordinary proceedings of
the last ten minutes were not a dream, added to her irresolution, and
increased her embarrassment. A thought roused her suddenly to a sense of
her position. Bertha would report her danger at the castle, and her
father, with attendants, would instantly be in search of her, and in
pursuit of the fugitives. Starting up, she made confusedly for the
entrance of the bower; but the hem of her garment was held by her
deliverer, who implored for a moment's delay.

"A second time have I been blessed," he ejaculated, as he wiped the
blood from his face. "Three years have passed sin chance led me to look
in at the window o' this wood-bower, where, gracious heaven! I saw the
fair maiden o' Roseallan in the beauty o' a calm sleep. On this
heather-bench, which was strewn wi' roses, her head rested; a book had
fa'en frae her left hand, and her right was spread amang the flowing
curls o' auburn hair that spread owre her neck and bosom. She dreamed,
dootless, o' some happy lover; for, ever and anon, the smile played on
her lips, and a tear struggled frae beneath the closed lids, and
trickled down her cheeks. The vision enchanted me--I gazed, and could
have gazed for ever. Matilda Rollo, you awoke, and saw my face as it
disappeared from the window; but, Heaven have mercy on me! I have never
awoke frae that hour! Wi' the might o' that enchantment, I wrestled as
became a humble admirer o' what fate had put beyond my reach--but it was
in vain, and I sought relief frae the new scenes o' Northumberland,
while my brother tended a widowed mother. Fate has brought me again to
the neighbourhood o' Roseallan; but duty must--ay, shall drive me again
far away."

A sudden recollection glanced on the mind of Matilda; she threw her eyes
upon his countenance, the origin of all her day-dreams, and quickly, and
as if in terror, withdrew them. A slight struggle released her from his
gentle hold; she sprang out of the bower, and, with trembling steps,
sought quickly the bridge, along which she hurried to the castle, where
she sought instantly the chamber of Bertha. She found the old woman on
her knees, at her evening's devotion.

"Ah! my leddy!" ejaculated the nurse, "why did ye leave me to seek my
way back owre the brig, without the helpin hand o' your love and
assistance? I was stunned sair by the fa', but I heard a sound o' voices
as I recovered. I looked for you, and thought ye had returned to your
apartment, whar I intended to have sought ye, after offering up my
prayers to our Leddy for my deliverance."

"Sore stunned you must have been, good Bertha," said Matilda, "when you
did not see my peril. Surely it is impossible. Did you not see your own
Matilda carried off by men? Yet, why do I put that question? Surely it
is sufficient to satisfy me that my dear friend was insensible and
ignorant of my fate, when I see her occupied in prayer, in place of
rousing my father to my rescue."

"Carried awa by men, child!" ejaculated the nurse, "and me ignorant o'
the base treachery! By'r Leddy, I'm petrified! Whar were you carried,
and wha were the ruffians? Kenned ye ony o' them? Doubtless, some o' our
Holyrude knights in disguise. Speak, love, and relieve the beating heart
o' your auld freend."

Matilda took Bertha up to her chamber, and recounted to her, in the
confidence of love and friendship, all that had occurred to her--not
even excepting the interview she had had in the wood-bower with her
unknown but interesting deliverer.

"It was indeed he," she continued, "whose angelic countenance has so
long hovered over me in my hours of retirement and in my dreams. He said
he first saw me sleeping in my bower, and he spoke truth; for you must
recollect, Bertha, of my having informed you, at the time, years ago,
of my terror on awakening and finding a human countenance staring in
upon me through the window. My confusion prevented me from recognising
him; but his countenance had got into my mind by the power of its
beauty, while my memory sometimes let go the connection between the
image which subsequently waxed so vivid, and the occasion by which it
became a part of my thoughts. Oh, long have I cherished it, long assumed
it as the face of the beatified hero of my histories, often limned it in
air by the pregnant pencil of my fancy, dreamed of it, and wept as the
light of day chased away the beloved form, and left me only in its place
the things of ordinary life, the countenances of the knightly wooers of

"And wha is he," inquired Bertha, "wha thus shoves his head into
leddies' bowers, and sae timously saves them frae the hands o'

"I know not, good Bertha," answered Matilda. "He is humble, and knows as
well as I know that he and I never can be united. Already has duty taken
him hence, and again is he to force himself far from me. I may never see
him more. Would that I had never seen him, or were fated to see him

"Deliverer and spoiler are alike unkenned, then," said Bertha. "Hae ye
nae suspicion o' the treacherous caitifs?" she added, looking
searchingly into Matilda's face.

"None," replied the other. "I heard them not; but, Bertha, my best and
truest friend, you must endeavour to learn for me some intelligence of
my deliverer; for, though he cannot ever stand in any other relation to
me, I could wish to know something of one whose image I have treasured
up in my heart, even as a miser does the number that forms the index of
his wealth. The widow loves the grave of her departed husband, and
bedews it with tears, and carries away with her again the image of him
she leaves to the worms: he is to me as the entombed lover: life and
death are not more distant, than the pride of the Rollos and the
humility of the poor; but his name may become as the graven letters of
the monumental stone--I may weep over it."

"Auld age is a puir scout, my Matilda," replied Bertha. "Ance I have
failed in my commission, and a watery grave in the Whitadder had nearly
been my reward. Tak the advice o' eild, and seek neither his name nor
nativity. The duty ye owe to the pride and power o' the braw house o'
Roseallan must ever prevent ye frae being his wedded wife; and, if it is
ordained that ye must forget him, ye will banish him from your mind the
mair easily that ye ken nae mair o' him than ye do o' the bird that
birrs past ye in the wood--that it has a bonny feather in its tail."

"Ah, Bertha, that ignorance will not be to me bliss," said Matilda,
sighing; "but, in the meantime, I must hasten to my mother, and tell her
of the danger I have escaped."

"And o' the lover that saved ye, guileless simpleton!" said Bertha,
seizing her by the arm. "The Whitadder leads nae mair certainly to the
Tweed, than will the story o' yer danger lead to the discovery o' him ye
are ashamed to acknowledge as a lover. Darkness waukens the owl, and yer
mystery will open the eyes o' Lady Rollo. Let the bird sleep, or its
scream will mak the wood ring."

Matilda saw, so far as she herself was concerned, the prudence of
secresy, and was about to take leave of Bertha for the night, when Lady
Rollo entered, and informed her daughter that Sir George Douglas of
Haughhead had arrived to pay his addresses to her, and that she behoved
to be in a proper state for meeting him in the morning at the first
meal. Having delivered her command, the proud dame retired, leaving her
daughter to the many distracting reflections suggested by all the
conflicting and painful events of the evening. She retired to her couch,
where she was to resign herself to the domination of that rapt fancy
that had so long led the train of her thoughts, and regulated the
affections of her heart. Sleep forsook her pillow, or came only for
short intervals, with the Genius of Dreams in his train. Waking or
slumbering, the image of the unknown youth, who had made such an
impression upon her heart, by the extraordinary deputed power of an
imagination ever active in painting in bright colours all his
perfections, was before her eyes. The higher these perfections and the
brighter the beauties, the greater was the pain and the deeper the sobs
of anguish that were wrung from her heart, by the conviction that her
love was destined only to similate the cankerworm, that eats into the
heart of the flower, and makes it perish.

Next day, she was compelled, with her hazel eyes still dimmed with
tears, to meet Sir George Douglas, a man she had every reason to hate,
as well from his proud assumption of a right to her affections, as from
the mean and inconsistent mode of mediation he resorted to, and which
she had learned from her mother that morning--by bribing her parents
with large promises of a tempting dowery.

With her feelings never kindly affected towards him, her heart burning
with the thoughts of another, and her prejudices excited by the
information she received from her mother, she conducted herself towards
the knight with a _hauteur_ that called forth his hurt pride and the
indignation of her parents. After breakfast, she retired to her
apartment, to feast her eyes with the vision of her bower--to her now
enchanted--while her angry parents closeted themselves for a conference
on the subject of Sir George's splendid offer, and the conduct of their
daughter. Wrought up to a pitch of excitement by the united feelings of
anger and ambition, they came to the critical determination of
submitting her entirely to the power and discretion of Douglas, who, if
he chose to wed her upon the sanction of their consent, might, if he
chose, dispense with that of the principal party interested. The project
was instantly submitted to Douglas, a hard and unfeeling man, who,
determined to possess Matilda upon any terms, closed readily with the
offer, and a day was fixed at the end of a month for the marriage.

These preliminaries settled, Lady Rollo repaired to Matilda's apartment,
where she found her with her head resting on her hand, and her eyes
fixed on the wood-bower, where she had conjured up the image of her
unknown lover.

"Thy conduct this day, Matilda," she began, "towards one of the gayest
and richest knights of our land, the confidant of King James, and our
especial friend and favourite, requireth the chastisement of the reproof
of parental authority; but we have witnessed too long this pride of
beauty in thee (which disdaineth the loves of mortals, and seduceth thee
and thy heart into the airy regions of profitless romance), to remain
contented now with mere words of argument, persuasion, or reproach. The
day of these is by, with the hopes of the many lovers thou hast turned
away from the gates of Roseallan; and the time for action--maugre thy
wishes or thy prejudices--hath approached. Sir George Douglas is
destined to be thy husband, and the day after the next feast of our
Church is thy appointed bridal-day, whereunto thou hadst best prepare
thyself with as much grace and favour as thou mayest be able to call up
into thy fair face."

Saying these words, Lady Rollo retired hurriedly, as if with the view of
avoiding a reply, or witnessing the sudden effects of her announcement.
The words had fallen upon her daughter's heart like the announcement of
a doom, and closed up the fountains of her tears. She sat riveted to the
chair, incapable of speech, or even of thought. On partially recovering
her senses, she found Bertha standing before her. Rising into a
paroxysm of struggling emotion, she flung her arms round the neck of the
old nurse, and burst into a fit of hysterical weeping. The choking sobs
seemed to come from the inmost recesses of her heart, and the burning
tears, forcing the closed issues of their fountains, flowed down her
cheeks, and dropped on the neck of her confidant. Bertha heard the
intelligence, as it was communicated in detached syllables, in silence;
and, having placed the unhappy maiden on her chair, sank into a train of
thinking, which her young friend attributed to a sympathetic sorrow for
her sufferings. The voice of Lady Rollo prevented the expected
consolation, and obeying the command of her mistress, Bertha left the
apartment, promising to return soon again. The day passed, and Matilda,
unable to join the company in the western wing of the castle, remained
in her apartment, sunk in despondency, and at times verging on the bleak
province of despair.

Heedless of the gloom that overhung the minds of mortals, the bright
moon rose again in the evening with undiminished splendour, throwing her
silver beams over the tear-bedewed face of the sorrowful maiden, whose
weeping was increased by the contrast of nature's loveliness. She sat
again at the casement; her eyes wandered heavily over the scene that lay
like a fair painting spread before her; the long, dark shadows of the
wood, lying by the side of bright, moonlit plots of greensward, with
their spangles of dew glittering like diamonds, reminded her of the
chequered scenes of life, into the depth of one of the gloomiest of
which she was now sunk; and her pain was increased as she felt herself,
by the power of fate, contemplating again her wood-bower, which stood
fair in the broad light of the moon. A sound struck her ears and called
forth her attention. It was that of a lute, and came in dying notes from
a distance in the wood. Gradually increasing in distinctness, it seemed
to come nearer and nearer; and now she recognised the air that was sung
by her preserver on that night when she discovered him. The sound ceased
suddenly, and she saw the figure of her preserver emerge from a thick
part of the wood and pass into her bower. The same plaintive air was
again raised, and spread around in soft mellifluous strains, suggesting
the union, by some process unknown to metaphysical analysis, of light
and sound--so connected and blended were the feelings produced by the
soft beams of the moon and the sounds of the lute. The blessed sensation
passed over her racked nerves like the odorous incense of the altar on
the excited sensibility of the bleeding victim; her eyes and ears were
versant with heaven, while her thoughts were claimed by the evil
workings of bad angels; her heart swelled with the conflicting emotions,
and a fresh burst of tears afforded her a temporary relief. Her paroxysm
over, the soft sounds fell again upon her ear. Retaining her breath to
drink deeper of the draught, she heard the notes gradually diminishing,
as if the performer were retiring in the wood. He had left the bower
unobserved; and the silence that now reigned around announced that he
was gone.

For seven successive nights the music in the wood-bower had assuaged the
sufferings of the respective days; but for three nights there had been
nothing heard but the cry of the screech-owl, and the moon had been
illuminating other lands. The period of her sacrifice was drawing nearer
and nearer, and the cloud of her sorrow was gradually becoming deeper
and darker.

"'Tis now three nights since he was in the wood," she said to Bertha.
"My silence and inattention have but ill repaid his services and his
passion. The sound of his lute has been to me the voice of hope breaking
through the clouds of despair. O Bertha! my sense of duty to my parents
and the honour of the old house of Roseallan has so nearly perished
amidst this persecution, that I could now feel it no crime to throw
myself into his arms, and seek in humble worth the protection I cannot
procure in the Castle of Roseallan's master."

"Wisely spoken, my bonny bairn," replied Bertha. "My auld blood boils
wi' the passion o' youth, and drives frae my heart the gratitude I owe
to the proud master and mistress o' Roseallan, as I witness this
persecution o' the bonniest and the best o' Scotland's daughters. The
arms o' George Templeton, the archer, the son o' the widow of Mosscairn,
can send an arrow beyond the cast o' the best archer o' the Borders; and
may weel defend (were he again in health) her for whom the proudest o'
Scotland's knights would send the last shaft into the heart o' his

"Is that the name of my preserver, Bertha?" ejaculated Matilda, in
surprise. "How came you by your knowledge? Speak, and relieve me, that I
may be certain that I know to whom I owe my life or my honour; and to
whom I--unworthy, thankless, ungrateful being that I am!--have not yet
vouchsafed one solitary look or word of thanks or gratitude. But what
said you of his health? He was wounded for me--ha! Has adverse fate
another evil in store for a daughter of affliction?"

"For your sake, my bairn, I traced out this man," replied the old nurse;
"but, oh, that I should hae to add anither sorrow to the wo-worn child
o' my early affection! He is ill. A wound he received in the wood has
become, by ill treatment and exposure, the heart o' a fever that has
eaten into the seat o' life."

"And he will die for me--killed by the second and severest wound, of
ingratitude!" cried Matilda, starting up in violent emotion. "With death
on him, received in my defence, has he nightly visited the bower of his
ungrateful mistress, who never, even by the movement of her evening
lamp, showed that she heard his strains, or understood their meaning.
That countenance, streaming with blood, yet beautiful through his
life's stream flowing for me, will haunt me through the short span that
misery may allow me. Would to God that I had returned one token as a
mark of my gratitude, if not of my love! Bertha, I must see this man,
who holds in his hands the issues of my destiny."

"And ye will, guid child," answered the nurse; "but, should death
deprive ye o' this refuge, we may think o' some ither means o' savin ye
frae this forced match wi' this high Catholic knight o' Haughhead, wha
persecuted the reformers as muckle as he does his lovers. Sir Thomas
Courtney--whom your father has banned frae Roseallan--shows as muckle
mercy to the Catholics as he does fair-seeming love to his lass-lemans.
But are you able to wander to Mosscairn, child?"

"A bleeding head did not keep him from my wood-bower," replied
Matilda--"a bleeding heart shall not prevent me from seeing him before
he dies."

This resolution on the part of Matilda, though it did not meet with the
entire approbation of Bertha, was adhered to; but no opportunity
occurred for putting it into execution. Every hour, in the meantime,
added to her unhappiness. Sir George Douglas had returned to Edinburgh,
to make preparations for the marriage; her mother watched her, to detect
what she termed the trick of simulated illness; and her father, who was
led by her mother, seemed determined to carry their cruel scheme into
execution. Tortured throughout the day, the moon, now late in rising,
afforded her no solace at night; the scene from the castle was changed
from lightness to darkness; the screeching of night birds came, in the
fitful blasts, in place of the melody of her lover's lute; and the
dreary view called up by the power of association the picture of her
lover lying on a death-bed, paying, by the torture of death, the
dreadful penalty of having dared to love one above his degree.

After a suitable inspection, her mother had, as she thought, discovered
that there existed no illness about her to prevent her from taking her
usual airing, and Bertha, who had apparently some purpose in view, came
and urged her to walk as far as the Monks' Mound, a green hillock that
stood on the borders of the property of Roseallan. They accordingly set
out. The day was not propitious; lazy clouds lay sleeping on the sides
of the hills, and wreaths of mist floated along like shadows, assuming
grotesque forms, and suggesting resemblances to aerial beings in the act
of superintending the operations of mortals; the wind was hushed to the
gentlest zephyr; and the sun, obscured by the masses of sleeping clouds,
was not able even to indicate the part of the heavens where he was.
Nature, "dowie and wae," seemed to have shrouded herself in the pall of
mourning, and the feathered tribes, overcome by the instinctive
sympathy, were mute, and cowered among the branches of the trees, as if
they had borrowed the habits of the wingless, tuneless reptiles that
crawled among the rank grass that covered the ground of the wood. The
couple wandered along slowly, Matilda resting on the arm of the nurse.
They came to the Monks' Mound, and sat down. The burying-ground of the
monastery of Dominicans lay on their right hand, and they could see the
tombstones rearing their grey, moss-covered heads over the turf-dyke
that surrounded the consecrated ground.

"See ye the little thatched house at the foot o' Lincleugh Hill yonder?"
said Bertha, after some moments of solemn silence, and holding out her
shrivelled hand. "The smoke frae its auld lum is curling among the
mist-clouds; but there's a darker mist within, and nae sun to send a
flaught through it."

"I see it well," replied Matilda, in a melancholy voice; "and, humble as
it is, and gloomy as it may be in its interior, I could even seek there
the peace I cannot find in the proud towers of Roseallan. There are no
forced marriages under roofs of thatch."

"Ay, but there is death, in the cottage as well as in the bonniest ha',"
muttered Bertha, ominously.

Matilda looked into the face of her nurse, who continued to gaze in the
direction of the cottage of Lincleugh.

"The mist blinds my auld een," she continued, as she passed her hand
over her eyes. "The hour is come, and there should be tokens o'
gathering there--yet I see naething."

Matilda looked again inquiringly into her face.

"Young een are sharp," said she again, "and now the mist is rowing awa
frae the side o' Lincleugh, and breaking into wreaths in the valley.
Look again, Matilda, and tell me what ye see."

"The removal of the mist," replied Matilda, directing her eyes to the
cottage, "has revealed a cluster of people dressed in black standing
round the door of the cottage."

"Ay, I'm right," replied Bertha, straining her eyes to see the mourners;
"the hour is near; and see the sextons stand there in Death's Croft,
like twa ghouls, looking into the grave they have this moment finished."

Matilda intuitively turned her eyes to the burying-ground that went
under the name of Death's Croft.

"You seem to know something more of this funeral than we of the castle
generally learn of the fate of the distant cottagers," said she.

"They're lifting," said the nurse, overlooking Matilda's remark, "and
the train moves to Death's Croft.

    'Round and round
    The unseen hand
    Turns the fate
    O' mortal man:

    A screich at birth,
    A grane at even--
    The flesh to earth,
    The soul to heav'n.'"

"Who is dead?" asked Matilda, as she fixed her eyes on the procession.

Bertha was silent. The procession reached Death's Croft, and, in a short
time, the rattling of the stones and earth on the coffin-lid was
distinctly heard. Matilda shuddered as the hollow sounds met her ear,
and Bertha crooned the lines of poetry she had already repeated. The
rattling sound ceased, and the loud clap of the spade indicated the
approaching termination of the work. The mourners gradually departed,
and the sextons, having finished their work, returned to the monastery.

"Come, come, now," said Bertha, "we've seen aneugh--the flesh to earth,
the soul to heaven. A's dune--let us return to Roseallan."

"The inhabitant of that narrow cell has the advantage of me," muttered
Matilda, sadly, as she rose to return home. "The marriage with the
Redeemer is not forced, and the union endureth for ever."

Bertha, who remained silent, hastened home, and, old as she was, several
times outwalked her weak and melancholy companion. When they arrived,
they went direct to the apartment of Matilda, where they were met by
Lady Rollo, who congratulated her daughter upon her increasing ability
to go through, with the necessary decorum, the ceremony of the marriage.
As soon as she retired, Matilda flung herself on her couch, and burst
into tears.

"There is only one individual who can save me from this dreadful fate,"
she cried. "Bertha, it is borne in upon my mind, that I cannot endure
this trial. Death or madness will be the alternative doom of the forced
bride of the knight of Haughhead. What of George Templeton? Did you not
promise to assist me to inquire for his health? Were we not to visit him
when my strength permitted? Tell me, tell me--have you heard how he is?"

"He is weel, my bairn," replied Bertha; "better than either you or me."

"Bless you! bless you, dear Bertha!" cried Matilda, rising and flinging
her arms round the neck of the old woman; "then there is some chance
left for me. I may yet be saved from that dreadful doom. I would trust
to the honour of that man who has already saved it with my life. Ah, if
he is well, I may expect again to hear these dulcet sounds which thrill
through my frame, and soften, by their sweet tones, the grief that sits
like a relentless tyrant on my heart. When, Bertha, shall we visit him?"

"We hae already visited him," replied the nurse, with a strange meaning
in her eye. "Did ye no see him this day, bairn, laid by the side o' his
faither amang the saft mould o' Death's Croft?"

"What mean you, Bertha?" replied Matilda. "There is a strange light in
your eye; I never before saw your face wear that expression. Ah! another
doom impends over me--I see the opening cloud from which the thunder is
to burst on my poor head. Why look thus upon me, nurse? is there a
humour on your seriousness?--for you laugh not. Read the doom backwards,
and do not incur from your Matilda the imputation of inflicting a cruel
torture on her who has hung at your breast."

"It was to save pain to my beloved Matilda," replied the nurse, with a
peculiar tone, "that I had ye hame before I told ye that the corpse ye
this day saw laid in the grave, in Death's Croft, was that o' George

Conscious of the effect that would be produced by this announcement, the
old woman held out her arms to receive the falling maiden. With a loud
scream she fainted, and forcing her way through the arms of the nurse,
fell on the floor with a loud crash. The sound brought up her mother.
As Matilda recovered, she looked about her wildly; her eyes recoiling
from the face of her mother, on which was depicted a smile of
incredulity, and seeking Bertha's, on which she found an expression
equally painful. There was no refuge on either side; and, as the image
of her dead lover rose on her fancy, she felt, in the consciousness of
the utter ruin of all her hopes, the stinging reproof of a tender
conscience, that charged her with cruelty to the devoted being who, in
defending her honour, lost his life.

"All this will not impose upon me, Matilda," said her mother. "Thou wert
well to-day, when thou didst walk forth; and this well-acted fit is
intended to remove the impression I entertain of your perfect ability to
perform the engagement your father and I have made for your benefit.
Mark me, maiden!--I will not heed thee more, if thy simulation were as
well acted as that of the wise King of Utica." And, saying these words,
she abruptly departed, leaving Matilda still scarcely sensible of what
was going on around her. The cruel dame called the nurse after her, and
the miserable girl was left to wrestle with her secret and divulged
griefs with the unaided powers of a mind broken down by her accumulated
misfortunes. She lay extended on her couch; and fancy, deriving new
energies from the impulse of feeling, became busy in the portrayment of
the form of her lover, whom she had, as she was satisfied, killed. She
recurred to the scene in the bower, with his manly countenance streaming
with blood; his visits to her bower afterwards--when he must have been
suffering the first approaches of that disease that proved fatal to him;
and, above all, her heartless conduct in not even condescending to
notice this tribute of devotion in one who had saved her life.

She lay under the agony of these thoughts till it was after nightfall,
when the gloom of her mind increased as the shades of darkness spread
around her. She felt that she could suffer the agonising thoughts no
longer, and, starting up, and throwing over her shoulders a night-cloak,
she hurried out of the castle. She found herself intuitively taking the
way to Death's Croft. The night was getting dark, and there was a
hollow, gousty wind blowing among the trees, and whistling among the
whins and tall grass that lay in her path. Heedless of all obstructions,
and insensible to danger, she wandered along, and soon found herself at
the side of the turf-dyke that surrounded the place of the dead.
Surmounting this slight obstacle, she groped her way among the
tombstones, starting occasionally, as a gust of wind made the long grass
rustle by her side, or produced a hollow sound from the reverberation of
some hollow cenotaph. After considerable labour, she came to a new-made
grave, and endeavoured to satisfy herself that there was not another
equally new among the many _tumuli_ that raised their green bosoms
around her. On a stone at the foot of the grave she sat down, and
wrapped the folds of the mantle round her, to keep from her tender frame
the chill night-winds. She rose, and knelt down upon the new-made grave,
the green sods of which she bedewed with her tears. The spot was doubly
hallowed by recollections and self-criminations, and she could not, for
a longer period than was consistent with her safety, drag herself away
from it. Throwing herself on the grass in a paroxysm of grief, she
kissed the sods, and, crying bitterly, rose, and mournfully sought the
path that led to that home where a new misery awaited her. She wandered
slowly along; and, as she approached the castle, saw with dismay a light
shining in her chamber. Her mother, she concluded, was there, and would,
by her absence, get all her suspicions fortified, that her illness was
merely assumed. She stood for a moment, and paused, irresolute how to
proceed--terrified to enter the house, yet unknowing whither to go. A
voice struck her ear--it was that of Bertha; and, looking round, she saw
her old nurse in close conversation with a man who had on the very
dress worn by the individual who formerly endeavoured to carry her off,
and who, she suspected, was no other than Sir Thomas Courtney. What
could this mean? Was it possible that Bertha was in the interest of the
man who had attempted to force her affections, by retaining possession
of her person? The question was an extraordinary one, and startled her.
She stood and looked for a moment. The man observed her, and retreated,
while Bertha stealthily sought the castle by a back entry. Her suspicion
increased, and, hurrying home, she threw herself on a couch. She was
thus beset on every hand. Her lover was dead, and in his grave, and all
left behind seemed to be against her. There appeared to be no refuge
from the fate that awaited her. The marriage-day was on the wing, and
would soon cast the cloud of its dark pinion on the turrets of
Roseallan. Her reliance on Bertha was changed to the poignant suspicion
of treachery. Her mind recurred to the scene on the bridge, which she
suspected was a part of her scheme to get her into the hands of the
English reformer, whose tenets, she thought, Bertha secretly favoured.
Thus had she lost both friend and lover--the one by death, the other by
infidelity; and she could scarcely tell which was most painful to
her--such is the anguish felt on the discovery of the falsehood of
friendship. Her mother's cruel and unjust reproof rung in her ears; her
father was obdurate; her lover proud, determined, and, worse than all,
filled with what he called an ardent love, and which she looked upon as
a loathing, ribald passion, the indications of which she would fly as
she would the embrace of the twisting serpent. Pained to the inmost
recesses of her spirits, she could get no relief from tears; her dry,
glowing eyes looked unutterable anguish; and a feverish heat pervaded
her system, rendering her restless and miserable. She flung herself on
her bed, where she lay tortured by her conflicting thoughts. Her mother
did not again visit her, and Bertha remained absent, apparently from
shame. A domestic obeyed her call, and administered the few necessaries
she required. The night was passed in great anguish, and the morrow's
light brought no assuagement of her pain. The domestic who waited upon
her told her that Sir George Douglas had arrived at the castle with a
party, and that her mother expected her presence in the hall next day.
Bertha, she said, was indisposed, and could not attend her; but she
would, in the meantime, supply her place. The day passed with no
variation; there was no relief from the hope of succour; and her mind,
dark and foreboding, sunk into a state of gloomy melancholy. The night
came on, and threw the physical shades of gloom into a mind darkened
with the misery of despair. As she lay in this state, she thought she
heard the sound of a lute; and rising, she placed herself at the window.
The night was still, and the moon, which had not for some time been
visible, was sending forth faint beams before she set. The scene was
composed and pleasant, and brought to her mind recollections that added
to her griefs. She fixed her eye on the wood, and observed a figure
passing between the trees. It was too indistinct to enable her to know
who it was. A dark dress, unrelieved by any mixture of colours,
suggested the idea of Bertha's friend, Sir Thomas Courtney. A new source
of curiosity now arose in the individual playing (in, however, as she
thought, a very indifferent manner) the tune that used to be played by
her lover. The sounds went to her heart; but suspicion of treachery
accompanied them, and fired her with as much anger as her gentle nature
was capable of, against this new scheme to wile her from the castle. At
this moment, her mother and father entered.

"We have got again, in the wood-bower, a lover," cried the father. "I
insist, Matilda, that thou dost tell me who it is."

"I do not know, father," replied Matilda.

"Is it he with whom you attempted to elope that night when Bertha fell
on the bridge?" asked the mother.

"I never attempted to elope," answered the maiden, weeping; "but I was
attempted to be carried off by some one in disguise; and the man that is
now in my bower may be he, but I know not."

"Sir Thomas Courtney!" cried the mother.

The father rushed out of the room. The sounds of voices were heard in
the base-court, and that of George Douglas was pre-eminent. A shot was
heard. Matilda looked out at the window, and saw some servants carrying
the body of a wounded man across the bridge. Lights were brought, and
some one called out the name of Templeton the archer. Matilda flew out
of the room, and was in an instant in the ballium. She looked in the
face of the wounded man. It was George Templeton. He opened his eyes,
and fixed them on her face, took her hand into his, pressed it, sighed,
and expired.

Some days afterwards, Matilda Rollo was led, dressed by the hands of her
mother, into the presence of the priest who was to unite her and Sir
George Douglas. When asked if she consented to receive the knight as her
husband, she burst into a loud laugh. Her reason had fled; she was ever
afterwards a maniac, and was tended by Bertha Maitland, who, sitting in
the wood-bower, often contemplated, with feelings we will not attempt to
describe, the unhappy victim of her treachery.


One dark and cloudy evening in September, two young men were seen
walking on the road that winds so beautifully along the shore of the
Solway, below the mouth of the Nith, between the quay and Caerlaverock.
The summit of Criffel was hidden in clouds; the sky was dark and
threatening; and the shrieking of the sea-fowl, and the whitening crests
of the waves, as they broke before the freshening breeze, gave warning
that a storm was at hand. At some distance, a two-masted boat, or
wherry, as it is there called, lay on the beach, half afloat on the
rising tide; and a boy sat on the green bank near, apparently watching

The two men appeared, by their dress, to be sailors. They were both in
the prime of life, and remarkably handsome; but their countenances were
of very different expressions. The one, whose short, crisp hair curled
over a forehead embrowned by exposure to the elements, had the frank,
bold, joyous look which we love to recognise as a characteristic of the
class of men to which he belonged; the other, his superior in face and
figure, as well as his senior in years, had a deep-set dark eye, whose
very smile was ominous of the storm of evil passions and tempers within.
Their conversation was loud and earnest, and was carried on in tones of
considerable occasional excitement; the violent motion of their hands,
and the increasing loudness of their voices, gave token that passion was
beginning to usurp the throne of prudence; till at last the elder of the
two, stung to madness by some observation of his companion, suddenly
raised his hand, and struck him a blow on the head, which made him
stagger for some paces. Quick as lightning, however, he recovered
himself, and rushed to avenge the blow. A short and violent struggle
ensued; and then the younger, whom we shall call Richard Goldie, sat
astride the prostrate body of his antagonist, panting with violent
exertion, and with his knees pinioning the arms of the other to the
ground; while the latter, exhausted with his exertions, made feeble and
ineffectual struggles to rise.

"Let me rise," said he, at last, in a sullen tone; "you need not be

"Afraid!" replied the other, with a contemptuous laugh; "it wad ill set
a born and bred Nithsdale man to fear a mongrel o' a foreigner. Rise up,
man--rise up; ye brought it on yoursel. I wadna cared for yer sharp
words, or yer ill tongue, had ye but keepit yer hans aff. But dinna look
sae dour-like man. Ye needna be cast doun aboot it; it was a fair
stand-up fecht, and ye did yer best. Come, gie's yer han, and we'll
think nae mair o't?"

"Richie Goldie," said Cummin, rejecting the proffered hand, and drawing
back, as if he thought its touch would be contamination, while his eye
flashed with vindictive fire--"Richie Goldie, hear me. When we were boys
at school together, you were like a serpent in my eyes. Since we left
it, you have always crossed my path, like the east wind, to blight, and
blast, and wither all the flowers that lay in it. You have stood between
me and my love; and now you have struck me to the earth, and wounded me,
when fallen, with your taunts and sarcasms. You have roused the
slumbering devil within me, and before he sleeps again, you shall
bitterly repent this day's work: you shall find the mongrel foreigner is
no mongrel in his revenge!"

"Dinna talk that fearfu gate," said Goldie, laughing; "ye'll mak a body
think ye're clean demented--speakin o' revenge, and lookin at a man as
if ye wished yer een war daggers. I wish ye a better temper and a kinder
heart. I fear neither you nor yer revenge; and as we _maun_ gang this
trip thegither, just put yer revenge in yer pouch, and let's 'gree and
be freends."

So saying, he sprang into the boat, which was now rocking in the tide,
and rewarding the boy for his trouble, and followed in sullen silence by
Cummin, he hauled aft the sheets, and in a few minutes the boat was
dancing over the waves towards Annan.

It is now necessary that we should introduce the two heroes of our tale
more particularly to the reader, which we will endeavour to do as
concisely as possible. Edward Cummin's mother was an Italian, who had
accompanied a family of rank to England in the capacity of lady's-maid.
She was a beautiful woman, of warm and violent passions, and, for her
station in life, remarkably well-informed and clever. Her mistress had a
high opinion of her, and thought she was throwing herself away when she
asked permission to marry her master's gardener; but, finding that her
arguments to dissuade her from the connection were ineffectual, she gave
her consent to it, and did all in her power to render her favourite's
married state a comfortable one. For seven years the Cummins lived a
happy and industrious life together--the only fruit of their union being
a boy, the Edward of our story. He was an uncommonly handsome child, and
was very much noticed by the family at the hall, from whom he received
the rudiments of an excellent education, and acquired manners and habits
superior to his station. He was the idol of his parents; but his
father--a sensible, steady Scotchman--did not allow his partiality to
blind him to his son's faults, and was firm and steady in his correction
of them; while the mother, with foolish and mistaken fondness,
endeavoured on all occasions to conceal his failings, and soothed and
caressed, when she ought to have checked and punished him. The
consequence was, that young Edward soon learned to fear his father, and
to despise his mother--and dissimulation and hypocrisy were the natural
consequences of such contradictory management. At this time
circumstances obliged the family to leave the hall, and settle on the
Continent--the estate was sold, and Cummin, being deprived of his
situation, returned, with his family, to his native place. Here their
nearest neighbours were the Goldies; and a considerable degree of
intimacy arose between the two families. The boys, Richard Goldie and
Edward Cummin, were sent, during the winter months, to the same school,
where a great deal of apparent friendship subsisted between them. But,
on Edward's part, it was all seeming--for he was a hypocrite by nature,
and, to suit his own purposes, could fawn, and cringe, and flatter, with
an air, at the same time, of bold off-hand independence; and it was his
interest to keep on good terms with Richard Goldie, who, though younger
than himself, was more active and hardy, and who really _was_, what _he_
pretended to be, courageous and independent. But, in his heart, Edward
hated his high-spirited companion; it was gall and wormwood to his proud
and vindictive spirit to notice the evident partiality shown towards
Richard by his companions, and the coolness and avoidance evinced
towards himself. Several circumstances at last transpired, which served
to open Richard Goldie's eyes to the true character of his pretended
friend; and a coolness arose between them, which, though it never
proceeded to an open rupture, for some time put a stop to the closeness
of their intimacy. Years passed, and the young men both adopted the sea
for a profession, and sailed for some time together in the same
vessel--an American trader, "hailing" from Dumfries. Here, as at school,
though equally active in the performance of their duties, Richard
Goldie's frank and generous disposition rendered him a favourite with
the rest of the crew, while Cummin in vain strove to make himself
popular--he always was, or fancied himself to be, an object of distrust
and aversion. Towards Goldie he maintained the same apparently friendly
and kindly bearing, while he was storing up bitter feelings against him
in his heart. It was strange that, with growing, though concealed,
hatred on the one side, and with want of confidence on the other, these
two young men should have continued to associate, and to keep up a
companionship which it only depended upon themselves to discontinue; but
so it was. They had learned from the same books; they had sported
beneath the same roof; they had risen from boyhood to manhood together;
and they could not, though so different in disposition, entirely sever
the links with which early associations had bound them together. In the
neighbourhood of Kelton lived an old fisherman, whose daughter was one
of the loveliest girls in the district. Our two companions, being near
neighbours of old Grey, were very constant in their attentions to him;
they managed his boat for him, helped him to mend his nets, and made
themselves useful in every possible way. Some of the neighbours
insinuated, that all this kindness proceeded less from a regard for the
old man, than from a wish to conciliate his pretty daughter. That,
however, was matter of doubt; and old Grey took the "benefit of the
doubt," and the compliment to himself. While flattering the father,
however, they were both very assiduous in their attentions to the
daughter, and each in turn fancied that he was the object of her
exclusive regard. But Ellen Grey was as sensible as she was lovely, and
had met with so much passing admiration, and knew so well what value to
put upon it, that she was but little affected by this additional proof
of her power. She liked both the young men as pleasant companions, but
had, as yet, shown no decided partiality for either. She was perfectly
well aware that they both admired her, and she was gratified by their
attentions--as what pretty woman would not have been?--but the only use
she made of her influence over them, was to restrain their angry
passions, and to keep up friendly feelings between them. Of the two,
Cummin was the most calculated to please the eye and attract the fancy
of a young and inexperienced girl; for, besides being more strikingly
handsome than Goldie, in his intercourse with the softer sex he had
successfully studied the art of concealing and glossing over all the
worse qualities of his nature. Goldie, on the contrary, was frank and
open to all alike; he was manly and independent in his address to
females, and never stooped to flattery or dissimulation. Things went on
in this uncertain way for some time, till the young men, wearied of
sailing backwards and forwards to and from America, resolved to vary the
scene, by making a voyage to India. Although they both felt that
friendship was with them but a name, yet they had become so united by
habit and early association, that they could not make up their minds to
separate, and accordingly agreed to "enter" on board the same ship.

The evening on which our story commences, was the one fixed upon for
their departure. Goldie had been to Annan the day previous, to ascertain
the time of the steamboat's sailing from Liverpool, and had borrowed a
boat from a friend of his father's there, in which he and Cummin were to
return. They had passed the afternoon together at old Grey's, and Cummin
fancied that Ellen smiled more kindly upon his rival than upon himself.
She immediately, with the quickness of woman's tact, perceived, and
endeavoured to remove, the impression--but in vain; and, in so doing,
excited the jealous feelings of Goldie. They left the house in gloomy
silence; but had not proceeded far before their irritated feelings found
vent in words--few, and cautious, and half-suppressed at first, but
gradually increasing in loudness, and energy, and bitterness, till the
result was the struggle we have already described. Cummin's face, as he
sat beside Goldie in the stern-sheets of the boat, was a true index to
the black and vindictive passions that boiled within his heart. His
glaring eye, set teeth, clenched hand, and heavy breathing, told too
plainly what was passing within. A child might have read his secret on
his brow--and yet he was too great a coward to utter it. He sat brooding
over his wrath, and nourishing dark thoughts of hatred and revenge
against his unconscious companion, whose momentary anger had passed
away, and left no trace behind it.

"Ye're as quiet's a sittin hen, Ned," said he; "I doot ye're hatchin
mischief. Dinna tak on sae, man; let byganes be byganes, and think nae
mair aboot it."

Cummin's first flush of rage had by this time passed away, and he began
to think of the expediency of _appearing_ to be reconciled to
Goldie--for he knew that it was only by treachery and cunning he could
hope to gratify his longing for revenge. He, therefore, in reply to
Richard's speech, grasped him warmly by the hand, and said--

"Do not think so ill of me, Richard, as to suppose that I bear you any
ill-will on account of what has passed. The words I uttered in my
passion I am sorry for and disclaim, now that I am cool. I _was_
angry--very angry, certainly; but that is past. How can you wonder that
I am sad and silent, when you remember that we may never return to the
'bonny banks o' Nith.' We are going among strangers, and into strange
lands: let us not forget our old friendship--let us always be friends as
well as countrymen."

"That's said like a true Scot, at a' rates," replied Goldie. "What wi'
yer English lingo and yer grand words, ye talk for a' the warld like a
prented bulk; it does a body's lugs guid to listen t'ye. Ay, 'shouther
to shouther' is the word in the Highlands, and we'll tak it for _our_
by-word." And the warm-hearted, generous lad shook him heartily by the

Next day, they took their passage in the steamer for Liverpool, and from
thence made the best of their way to London. There they were soon picked
up by one of the "crimps," on the look-out for men for the
outward-bound Indiamen, and, in the course of a few days, were shipped
on board the Briton--a vessel of twelve hundred tons. Here everything
was strange to them, and they were subjected to a course of discipline
to which they had not before been accustomed. They both proved
themselves to be smart, active young fellows, and good seamen; but at
first Cummin was a greater favourite than Goldie--for he was too cunning
and timeserving to commit himself in any way; while the latter, always
in the habit of speaking out his mind boldly and freely, frequently got
himself into trouble by his forgetfulness of forms, and by the bluntness
of his remarks. In a short time, however, they each appeared in their
true colours, and the scale was turned in favour of Goldie, whose frank
and open manners, and straightforward, fearless confidence, established
him in the general good opinion of his officers and messmates; while, on
the other hand, the mean cunning spirit of Cummin, becoming daily more
apparent, rendered him an object of contempt and avoidance to the
latter. This change in the opinion of his shipmates rankled deep in the
heart of the vindictive Cummin; and, forgetting that he himself was the
cause of it, he attributed all to the influence of the detested Goldie.
A circumstance soon occurred which served to add fuel to the fire of
evil passions that lay smouldering in his heart. The ship was within a
few degrees of the equator, when one day a strange sail was seen ahead,
which proved to be a "homeward-bounder." The captain immediately
determined to board her, and gave his orders accordingly to the chief

"Midshipman! tell the sailmaker to make a bag for the letters, and pass
the word fore and aft that a bag is going to be made up for England.
First cutters, clean themselves!"

The breeze was light, and gradually dying away; and, as the stranger was
still at a considerable distance, orders were given to "pipe to dinner,"
and for the cutter's crew to come up as soon as they had dined, to
lower the boat down. In a short time, the coxswain of the boat--a fine,
active, young north-country man--came up with three of his crew, two of
whom were stationed at the tackle-fall, to lower the boat, while the
coxswain, with the other man, jumped in, to be lowered down in her. One
of the men at the "falls" was Cummin; lowering away, quickly and
carelessly, he allowed the rope to run too quickly round the "cleat,"
and not being able to check it again, he was obliged to let go "by the
run." The consequence was, that the stern of the boat was plunged into
the water, while the bow hung suspended in the other tackle--the men
were thrown out, and the poor coxswain, not being able to swim, made two
or three ineffectual struggles, and sank to rise no more. The accident
was so sudden and unexpected, and there was so little apparent
danger--for the water was as smooth as a mill-pond, and the poor fellow
was within arm's-length almost of the boat's gunwale--that he was gone
almost before an alarm was given. The men were all below at dinner; but
ill news flies fast--in a moment there was a rush to the hatchways, each
hurrying to get on deck. Goldie was one of the first up, and, rushing
aft on the poop, he exclaimed, "Where is he?" and, hardly waiting for an
answer, sprung over the taffrail into the water, a height of twenty
feet, and dived after the sinking man; but in vain--the poor fellow was
gone beyond recall. The captain reprimanded Cummin severely for his
carelessness, degraded him from his station as topman, made him a
"sweeper," and stopped his allowance of grog. Goldie was publicly
praised on the quarterdeck for his spirited conduct, and received a
handsome present from the captain, besides being promoted to the station
of boatswain's mate at the first opportunity. This was a bitter potion
for the moody and jealous spirit of Cummin; and he brooded day and night
over his fancied wrongs.

The ship was now rapidly approaching the "line," and the crew had been
for some time anticipating with great glee the day of fun and license
which was in store for them. The old stagers amused themselves with
practising upon the credulity of those comparatively fresh-water sailors
who had never been to the southward of the equator; and strange and
mysterious were the notions which many of the latter formed of the
dreaded "line," from the contradictory accounts they heard. Some
imagined that it was a rope drawn across the sea, which could not be cut
without the permission of the old king of the waves; others were gulled
into the belief that there was a large tree growing out of the water, to
which the ship was to be made fast, until the necessary ceremonies were
gone through. But their doubts on the subject were soon to be changed
into certainty. The officer of the deck one day made his report to the

"The sun's up, sir."

"What is the latitude?"

"Fifty minutes north, sir."

"Very well--make it twelve o'clock."

"Strike eight-bells, quartermaster!" And away went the old fellow
"forward," to strike the bell, brimful of the intelligence he had just
overheard; and in two minutes it was known all over the ship, that, if
the breeze held, they would cross the "line" before morning.

"There it is at last," muttered one of the middies, who had been for
some minutes apparently straining his eyes through a three-foot
"Dollond," and who, knowing he was within ear-shot of a knot of young
cadets, _muttered_ loud enough to be overheard.

"What is it?" said a young Irishman.

"The line, to be sure--the equinoxial line--which we have been so
anxiously looking for."

In the meantime, great was the bustle among all the old hands on board.
Paint and tar were in constant requisition. A deputation had waited some
days before upon the lady passengers, requesting from them some of their
cast-off wearing apparel, as the crew expected "Mrs Neptune" to honour
them with a visit in a few days, and wished to have a change of raiment
in readiness for her, as she would most likely be wet and cold with her
long cruise upon the water. A list had been drawn up, ready for
presentation to Neptune, on his arrival, of all those who were for the
first time crossing the line; and those of the passengers who were
unwilling to undergo the ceremonies attendant upon being made "freemen
of the line," had expressed their readiness to pay the customary
exempting tribute, under the salutary dread of the razors, of three
degrees of comparison, which were duly brandished before their eyes.

Towards evening, the breeze gradually decreased; the clouds were tinged
with all the gorgeous hues of a tropical sunset, assuming every variety
of strange and grotesque appearances; and the water reflected back their
image, if possible, with increased splendour. As far as the eye could
reach, nothing was visible but the glassy, undulating surface of the
sea, partially rippled by the "cat's paws"[5] which played over it. The
ship was gliding slowly over the smooth expanse of water--her large
sails flapping heavily against the masts, as the sea rose and fell, and
her smaller canvas just swelling in the breeze, and lending its feeble
aid to urge her onwards; the passengers were taking their evening lounge
on the poop and quarterdeck; while the ship's "band" were "discoursing
eloquent music" for their amusement; and the crew were scattered in
groups about the forecastle and waist. Just as the dusk of evening began
to render objects obscure and indistinct, the _look-out_ on the
forecastle called out--

[Footnote 5: Light, partial airs.]

"A light right ahead, sir!"

"Very well, my boy; keep your eye upon it, and let me know if we near

In a short time the man exclaimed, "The light is close aboard of us,
sir!" and, at the same moment, a bugle-note was heard, and a glimmering
light appeared, which gradually enlarged, throwing a broad, blue,
unearthly glare over the fore part of the ship, till the smallest rope
was as visible as in broad daylight; while a loud, confused, roaring
noise was heard, and a stentorian voice shouted, apparently from the

"Ho! the ship, ahoy!"

"Holloa!" replied the officer.

"What ship is that?"

"The Honourable Company's ship Briton."

"Ah! my old friend, Captain Oakum!--welcome back again! I am too busy to
come on board just now; but I will pay you a visit to-morrow forenoon.
Be sure to have everything ready for me, for I have a great deal of work
on my hands just now.--Good-night!"


Again the bugle-note was heard; and then the car of his watery
majesty--looking to vulgar and unpoetic eyes very like a lighted
tar-barrel--floated slowly astern, throwing a flickering glare over the
sails, as it passed; while the "band" almost knocked down what little of
the breeze was left with their counter-blast of "Rule Britannia," which
they puffed away with all their might and main, till the car of Neptune
sank beneath the sea.

"Come forward," said a middie to the cadets near him, just before the
_car_ dropped astern--"come _forward_, and see Neptune's car; it is
worth your while to look at the old boy, whisking along at the tail of
half-a-score of dolphins, with a poop-light as big as a full-moon
blazing over his stern; you can see him quite plain from the
forecastle." And away they all ran, helter-skelter, towards the
forecastle--the middie knowingly allowing the young aspirants for
military distinction to get ahead of him, and bolting under the
forecastle, while they ran thundering up the ladder. They had hardly
reached the upper step, before a slight sprinkling from aloft made them
look upwards; and, while they were gaping, open-mouthed, in wonder from
whence the rain could proceed, as not a cloud was to be seen, they had
soon reason to think that a waterspout had burst over their heads;
for--splash, splash, splash--bucketful after bucketful of water was
poured on their devoted heads from the "foretop." As soon as they
recovered from the momentary shock and surprise, they made a precipitate
retreat, amid roars of laughter from all parts of the ship, in which
they were fain to join, to conceal their mortification.

All was now quiet for the night; the "band" had played "God save the
King;" the watch had been called; and the captain's steward had
announced, "Spirits on the table, sir."

"I had no idea, Captain Oakum," said one of the passengers at the
"cuddy" table, "that Neptune was such a dashing blade, with his flourish
of trumpets and car of flame. I shall feel a greater respect for him in
future. Does he always announce his approach in such style?"

"No; he sometimes does it by deputy. Last voyage, I was walking the
quarterdeck with some of my passengers, when we were all startled by
seeing a figure, in white, come flying down out of the maintop. It
fluttered its wings for a while, and then alighted on the deck, close
before us; touched its hat, and delivered a letter into my hands; and
then--whisk! before we had time to look round us, it was flying up into
the mizzentop. The figure in white was one of the topmen--intended, I
suppose, to represent Mercury; and the letter was from the King of the
Sea, announcing his approach. The men had rove a couple of 'whips' from
the main and mizzen mast-heads, and the end of each being made fast
round 'Mr Mercury's' waist, he was lowered from the one top, and 'run
up' into the other."

"Capital! It must have been rather startling, in the dusk of evening, to
see such a strange sea-bird alight at your feet."

The next morning, as soon as the decks were washed, preparations were
made for the approaching ceremony. The jolly-boat was got in from the
stern, and secured at the gangway, from which a long particoloured pole
projected, announcing that this was "Neptune's free-and-easy
shaving-shop." All the "scuppers" of the upper deck were stopped, and
the pumps were kept in constant motion, till the lee-side of the deck
was afloat, and the jolly-boat full to the "gunwale." An old sail was
drawn across the fore-part of the ship's "waist," like the curtain of a
theatre, to conceal the actors in the approaching ceremony, while making
their necessary preparations. There was an air of bustling and eager
mystery among all the old hands, which, to the uninitiated, gave rise to
vague and unpleasant feelings of fear. It was in vain they strained
their eyes to penetrate the mysteries of the sanctum concealed by the
provoking curtain, from behind which sundry notes of preparation were
heard, mixed with disjointed ejaculations--such as, "A touch more black,
Jem." "How does my scraper sit?" "Where's my nose?"--and so on. All was
bustle and animation; the carpenter's gang converting an old
gun-carriage into a triumphal car; the gunner preparing flags for its
decoration; his mates busy, with their paint-brushes, bedaubing the tars
who were to act as sea-horses; and the charioteer preparing and fitting
on Neptune's livery. At length all was ready for the reception of the
King of the Sea.

"On deck there!" shouted the man at the masthead.

"Holloa!" replied the officer of the watch.

"A strange sail right ahead, sir."

"Very well, my boy. Can you make out what she is?"

"She looks small, sir--not bigger than a boat."

The officer made his report to the captain, who kindly entered into the
spirit of the thing, to gratify the men, and desired to be informed when
the boat was near the ship.

"We are nearing the boat fast, sir." And the captain made his appearance
on deck, to reconnoitre the approaching stranger.

"Ship ahoy!" roared a voice ahead; "lay your maintopsail to the mast,
and give us a rope for the boat."

"Forecastle there!--a rope for the boat! Let go the maintop bowline!
Square away the mainyard, after-guard!" bawled the officer of the deck.

In the meantime, the unfortunates who had never crossed the line were
driven below; the "gratings" were laid on fore and aft, and sentries
were stationed at the hatchways to prevent escape.

A bugle-note was now heard murdering the "Conquering Hero," who soon
made his appearance in person, over the bows, and stood for a moment in
a _graceful_ attitude on the night-head, where he really cut quite an
imposing figure, with his robe of sheep-skins and flowing beard of
"oakum," and grasping in his extended hand a trident, with a fine fish
on its prongs. A few minutes after he had descended into the "waist,"
the screen we before mentioned was withdrawn, and the procession moved
on. First came the ship's musicians, fantastically dressed for the
occasion, and playing "Rule Britannia" with all their might and main;
next came the triumphal car, surmounted by a canopy decorated with flags
of all nations, under which were seated Neptune, Amphitrite, or Mrs Nep,
as Jack calls her, and a little triton; and immediately in the rear
followed the _suite_, consisting of the barber, doctor, clerk, and about
a dozen half-naked and particoloured demigods, who acted as
water-bailiffs. Each of these gentlemen merits a particular
description; for they were all great men, in their way. The doctor wore
an immense _floured_ wig, and an uncommonly long, unwholesome-looking
nose, and over all a rusty piece of tarpaulin, pinched into three
corners, to represent a hat; under his arm he carried his family
medicine-chest, the lid of which was open, and displayed to view pills
and powders of all shapes, sizes, and colours, in great profusion; and
in his hand he carried a large bottle, labelled, "Neptune's elixir." The
barber carried, slung over his arm, his shaving-box (a large tar
bucket), with brushes to correspond; the pouch in the front of his apron
was filled with little etceteras, such as boxes of _grease_ for the
hair, _powder_ for the teeth, &c.; and in his hand he brandished three
razors, each about three feet long--one made of smooth iron hoop, the
next about as genteel as a hand-saw, and the third, meant for particular
favourites, with teeth grinning at each other, half-an inch apart, more
or less. The clerk, or scribe, was a dandy of the first water: he had on
a small rarée hat, which looked as if it had been forced up on one side
by an immense crop of oakum curls, which sprouted most luxuriantly from
under one of the rims. His whiskers were pointed to the wind with the
greatest nicety; and from behind his ear peeped the quill, his badge of
office; while a little inkstand dangled at his button-hole. The tips of
his nose and ears were almost hidden by a most magnificently stiff
collar, and his chin nestled in a bed of frill, made to match the collar
of the best _foolscap_. All these _gentlemen_ wore _long togs_.[6]

[Footnote 6: Coats]

On came the pageant: Neptune's sheep-skins and trident looked very
majestic; Amphitrite, a tall, high-cheek-boned Scotch "topman," with the
assistance of a little red paint and oakum locks, and arrayed
_cap-à-pie_ in cabin finery, made a very passable representation of a
she-monster; the barber brandished his razors; the scribe paraded his
list, and, every now and then, made use of an old frying-pan, with the
bottom knocked out of it, for a quizzing-glass; the jack-_tars_ who
acted as sea-horses pranced as uncouthly as jack-_asses_; and the
coachman, seated on the fore-part of the car, and proud of his livery
and shoulder-knots, cracked his whip, d----d his horses for _lubbers_,
and _singing out_ to them, "Hard a-port!" contrived to _weather_ the
after hatchway, and then _bear up_ round the "capstan," where, with a
graceful pull-up of the reins, very much like a strong pull at the
mainbrace, and an "Avast there!" to his obedient cattle, he stopped the
car. The captain was standing under the poop-awning, in readiness to
receive his majesty, who welcomed him most graciously to his dominions.

"Glad to see you once more, Captain Oakum," said he; "it warms the
cockles of my heart to fall in with an old friend; and my wife here and
I both wants comfort of some kind, after our long morning ride over the
water; the cold air is apt to give one a cold in the stomach." The
doctor immediately stepped forward with his bottle, and presented it to
his majesty. "No, no," said he; "none of your doctor's stuff for _me_;
keep that for my children; Captain Oakum knows my complaint of old."

The captain laughed, and his steward, taking the hint, produced a bottle
containing a different kind of _elixir_, which old Neptune seemed to
quaff with peculiar relish. A glass was then offered to Amphitrite, who
pretended to reject it, and tried to blush--in vain.

"Come, come! none of that 'ere humbug, old gal," said the king; "tip it
over; it'll do you good." And away it went, where many of its fellows
had gone before.

"Ah!" said she, smacking her lips with unqueenlike gusto, "glorious
stuff to drive out a cold!"

The whole of the suite were immediately seized with the same complaint,
and all required the application of the same remedy.

"I understand, Captain Oakum, you have a good many of my children on

"Yes, a few. I hope you will treat them kindly."

"Oh, leave that to me, sir; I'll give none of them more nor they

He then thrust out his trident to the captain's steward, with a graceful
air, as if he meant to impale him; but it was only for the purpose of
presenting the fish on its prongs, as an addition to his honour the
captain's dinner.

"I wish it war better; but we've had a sad sickly season down below, and
all the dolphins and bonitos are on the doctor's list with influenzie."

During this interview, the men were all standing near the gangway, armed
with buckets of water, wet swabs, &c., impatient for the commencement of
the fun.

"But I must wish you good-morning, Captain Oakum; I have no time to
lose. I have two or three other ships to board this morning."


The band struck up "Off she goes." "Carry on, you lubbers!" said the
coachman. Crack went the whip--off pranced the horses--and away whirled
the car, which no sooner approached the gangway, than the procession was
greeted with torrents of water, and his "godship" was half smothered in
his own element. After gasping for breath, and shaking off the
superfluous moisture, Neptune and the _fair_ Amphitrite took their
station on "the booms," to superintend the operations of the day. The
clerk handed to his majesty a list of his new subjects, who were
recommended to his peculiar attention.

"Richard Goldie is the first on the list," said Neptune; "send him up!"
And away scampered the Tritons (or constables), who were naked to the
waist, the upper parts of their bodies being hideously painted,
fantastic-looking caps on their heads, and short painted staves in their
hands. The main-hatch "grating" was lifted, and up came our friend
Richard, blindfolded, between two constables, laughing and joking with
his captors as he came along. As soon as he made his appearance, Neptune

"Who have we got here? I ought to know the cut of that younker's jib.
Ay, I'm blowed if it isn't the same that was cruising about the other
day after a drowning shipmate. One of the right sort that. Just put my
mark upon him--give him a touch of the tar-brush, and let him go."

Almost untouched, Richard was allowed to escape forward, where he
immediately equipped himself with a wet "swab," and prepared to follow
the example of those around him.

"Edward Cummin! Bring Edward Cummin!"

And Cummin made his appearance, escorted as Goldie had been, with a face
almost as white as the handkerchief that blinded his eyes, and shivering
with anticipation. The attendant Tritons seated him on the edge of the
jolly-boat at the gangway; and the barber, turning to Neptune, and
holding up his three razors, said--

"Please your honour, which?"

"Let us hear first what he has to say for himself," said Neptune.

"Where do ye come from?"

"From Scot----oo! oo!" said the poor fellow, as the barber thrust a
well-filled tar-brush into his mouth.

"How long is it since you left it?"

But Cummin had gained experience; he set his teeth, pressed his lips
together, and sat, a ludicrous picture of fear, mixed with desperate

"A close Scot, I see," said Neptune; "give him some soap to soften his
_fizz_, and teach him to open his mouth. Shave him clean."

The barber lathered his victim's cheeks with tar, which he _dabbed_ on
without much regard for his feelings; while the Tritons, with their
hands in his hair, _tugged_ his head about in the proper direction. The
operation was performed with the "favourite's" razor, which left the
furrows of its _fine_ edge upon his cheeks. The doctor was standing by
with his vial of tar-water, and his box of indescribable pills, ready to
take advantage of every involuntary gasp of the poor patient. At last,
after daubing his hair with rancid grease, "to make it grow," the
bandage was suddenly taken from his eyes, and he was thrown backward
into the boat, and left floundering among the tarry water, till some
charitable hand dragged him out. Half-drowned and half-blinded, Cummin
staggered forwards, blessing his stars that his torments were over; but,
alas! he soon found that he had escaped from the fangs of the torturing
few, only to encounter the tender mercies of the vindictive many. Groans
and hisses from all quarters gave token of the dislike in which he was
held--bucketfuls of water were dashed in his face, and a rope drawn
suddenly right across, tripped up his feet, and he floundered on the
deck at the mercy of his tormentors, who, whenever he attempted to rise,
dashed torrents of water upon him, and half-buried him in wet "swabs."
Mad with rage and mortification, wearied and exhausted, Cummin at last
reached the forecastle, where he sat down for awhile, to recover breath
and strength.

"Come, Cummin, man," shouted Goldie to him--"come and join the sport."

There was something in Goldie's joyous and laughing tone which jarred
upon Cummin's excited feelings--it seemed to him like an insult, that
his companion should be so merry and happy, while he was sitting, like
an evil spirit, scowling on the scene of mirth before him. He made no
reply to Goldie, but muttered to himself--"Laugh on, my young cock of
the walk; you shall pay dearly for your fun." From that day, Cummin
became an altered man in manner; he no longer attempted to conceal his
dislike to Goldie, but on all occasions did his utmost to thwart and
annoy him. He used to pace up and down the deck, in gloomy silence,
while the rest of the crew were sleeping around him; and dark and deadly
were the thoughts that crowded through his brain. He felt that he was
disliked and avoided by all his companions, and, attributing their
estrangement to the arts and influence of Goldie, over and over again
did he vow bitter revenge against him. But how was his revenge to be
gratified? There was the rub. He was too much of a coward to attack him
openly, and feared to attempt any secret mischief, as he knew that he
would be immediately suspected as the author of it; for his hatred to
Goldie had, by this time, been remarked throughout the ship, where, it
was equally obvious, Goldie had no other enemy. But, while he is
meditating mischief, we must go on with our story.

When the Briton arrived in Madras Roads, several vessels were lying at
anchor there; and one of them, a small merchantman, had her foretopsail
loose, and "blue-peter" flying. This was the Columbine, a Liverpool
ship, which was expected to sail that night about twelve o'clock. As
Cummin stood on the forecastle in the evening, after the hammocks were
piped down, looking gloomily at that vessel, his countenance suddenly
brightened up. He rubbed his hands together, and laughed aloud; then
checking himself, and looking cautiously round, to see whether any one
was near him, he dived below. At midnight, the Columbine "got under
way," and stood to sea.

Next morning, while washing decks, the officer of the deck called out,
"Midshipman! I don't see Cummin; send him up."

"Cummin!--Richard Cummin!" was echoed round the decks; but no Richard
Cummin appeared.

The hands were called out to muster; Cummin did not answer to his name.
Strict search was made for him, but he was nowhere to be found. The
first and most natural conclusion was, that he had deserted to the
Columbine; but it was too late now to ascertain. But that belief was a
good deal shaken, when one of the men, who happened to have been awake
at eleven o'clock the night before, said that he had heard a loud splash
in the water, and ran immediately to the "port" to look out; but all was
silent again; and, if it was, as he now supposed, Cummin, he must have
gone down immediately. He did not give the alarm at the time, for he was
half-asleep when he heard the noise, and thought he must have been
mistaken. While the man was giving this evidence on the quarterdeck, up
came Goldie with a piece of paper, which he had found on the pillow of
his hammock, on which were scrawled the following words:--"Richie, I
must put an end to this life of misery and mortification; when I am
gone, perhaps you will think more kindly of me. I was wicked enough to
talk of revenge. I leave my chest and all my traps to you. Be kind to my
poor mother, for the sake of your unhappy shipmate." It was now evident
to all that the poor fellow, whose dejection and reserve had been long
noticed, had committed suicide; and, much as he was disliked, his
disappearance cast a gloom over the ship's company for some days. Goldie
grieved sincerely for him, now that he was gone--all his violence, all
his tempers were forgotten, and Richard only thought of him as the
friend of his boyhood, and the companion of his early days; and he was
much affected by the kindly feeling manifested in his note.

We must now transport ourselves, for awhile, on board the Columbine, and
follow Edward Cummin and his fortunes. On the night of the Briton's
arrival in Madras Roads, Cummin, who was a capital swimmer, dropped
unperceived under the bows of the Columbine, about an hour before she
got "under way," and climbed into the "head" by a rope that was hanging
overboard. He passed the look-out on the forecastle; but the man, being
half-asleep, took him for one of the ship's company. He then _dived_
down the main-hatchway, and concealed himself in the "heart" of one of
the cable-tiers, where he remained undiscovered during the day. Next
night, when all was quiet, he stole up on the gundeck, and was in the
act of helping himself out of one of the bread-bags there, when a man of
the mess, who happened to be awake, seized him as a thief, and dragged
him on the upper deck.

"Bring a light, quartermaster," said the mate; "let us see who this
skulking thief is. Holloa!" continued he, starting back, with surprise,
"who the deuce have we got here? Where did you spring from?"

"I came up from the cable-tier to get something to eat, sir; I was very

"Out of the cable-tier! But how did you get _into_ the cable-tier?"

"I swam----"

"Swam into the cable-tier! You must be a clever fellow. Come, none of
your tricks upon travellers--tell the truth at once."

"I was going to tell you when you stopped me, sir. I am a 'Briton.'"

"Well, what has that to do with it?"

"Why, sir, I was tired of being one."

"Tired of being a Briton, and swam into the cable-tier! What do you

"Why, sir, that I was one of the crew of the Briton, the Indiaman that
lay next you in the roads, and I cut and run from her, and got on board
of you, just before you got under way."

"Here's a pretty business! But we must make the best of a bad bargain. I
suppose you're one of the company's _hard ones_."

The Columbine was short-handed, having lost several men at Madras, and
the captain, though he blustered a little when he first heard the story,
was in his heart pleased to have got such an unexpected addition to his
crew; and, after a short time, Cummin, behaving satisfactorily, was
rated able seaman on the ship's books. On the Columbine's arrival at
Liverpool, Cummin immediately set off homewards, and made his appearance
at Kelton again, about eight months after he had left it, much to the
surprise of his parents. He told a long and affecting story of his
sufferings on board the Briton, and of the illness and death of poor
Goldie, who had fallen a victim at sea, he said, to cholera. After the
death of his friend, driven to desperation by the ill-usage he was
exposed to, he determined to run from his ship on the first opportunity,
and had accordingly deserted, as before stated. He spoke, on all
occasions, in the warmest terms of Goldie's great kindness to him, and
expressed the utmost regret at his loss. The sad news was a death-blow
to the poor old Goldies, who never recovered from the effects of it, and
who, broken-hearted and repining, fell easy victims, a few weeks
afterwards, to an epidemic then raging. Ellen Grey mourned deeply and
sincerely for Richard Goldie; she had always liked him as an agreeable
companion, and respected him as an amiable and steady character; and
though, at first, she had given the preference to the plausible Cummin,
yet, before they parted, Richie's good qualities had so much gained upon
her better sense, that she had begun to experience that kind of
partiality towards him which might in time have ripened into a warmer
feeling. With the quick eye of jealous rivalry, Cummin had noticed this
change in her feelings, almost before she was conscious of it herself.
He had never really loved her; his object in appearing to do so had been
to annoy Goldie; but the wound thus given to his vanity had rankled in
his heart, to the exclusion of every other feeling but that of a wish
to punish her for her defection.

He now renewed his intimacy with old Grey, and was doubly assiduous in
his attentions towards him. He had become, apparently, quite an altered
character--that is, he had become a more finished hypocrite; he had
learned to calm his temper and to smooth his brow; and appeared, on all
occasions, so steady and industrious, that the old man began to feel the
kindest regard towards him, and pointed him out to his daughter's
attention as a pattern for the young men around, and one who would make
a steady and respectable husband. There was at first, however, a
changeableness in his manner towards Ellen that puzzled and surprised
her. At times, he was almost servilely obsequious in his attentions
towards her; at others, when he thought himself unobserved, she was
startled by the malevolent expression of his countenance, and by the
derisive smile that played round his lips, as he gazed upon her. Cummin
noticed the unfavourable impression he was making, and became more
guarded in his behaviour; he redoubled his attentions, and never allowed
a shade of unpleasant feeling to be visible on his brow. His
perseverance had the desired effect of reviving her old partiality, and
in an evil hour she consented to become his wife. The morning after
their wedding, he had disappeared, and had never since been heard of. A
deserted bride, she was left in all the misery of uncertainty respecting
his fate or his intentions, and in utter ignorance to what cause she
could impute the cool contempt with which it appeared he had treated her
from the moment of their union.

But we must return to our friend Richard Goldie. Nothing particular
occurred during the remainder of the voyage of the Briton, until their
arrival in China, where, in consequence of a dispute with the
authorities, the ships were detained for several months, and a year
elapsed before they returned to England. As soon as he had received his
pay, Richard set off for Liverpool, from whence he proceeded by steam to
Annan. When his foot was fairly planted on the soil of Dumfries-shire,
and his face was turned homewards, Richard could not restrain the
exuberance of his spirits. He laughed, he sang, he ran, he waved his
hat, and was guilty of all those extravagances which could only be
excused in a young sailor just let loose; and which, had they been
witnessed by others of a cooler temperament, would have been looked upon
as the freaks of a madman. Then he began to think of Kelton, of his
parents, and of bonny Ellen Grey; and with thoughts of her came a sad
recollection of poor Cummin, and a kind of flattering notion that the
latter had had good cause for his jealousy on the night of their
quarrel, when Ellen, every feature of whose face and every note of whose
voice were vividly present to his memory, smiled so sweetly upon him,
and bid him take care of himself "for a' our sakes."

It was late in the evening when he approached Kelton, on his way
homewards; and he resolved to give the Greys a call as he went past. At
length he saw the well-known cottage, and a flush came over his brow
when he recognised Ellen sitting at the door. He hastened forward to
greet her; but, instead of the friendly reception he had anticipated, he
was surprised and mortified to see her start up with a faint scream, and
avert her eyes, with looks of horror and alarm.

"Ellen!" exclaimed he--"hae ye forgotten me? What gars ye turn awa yer
head, as though ye'd seen a bogle? Am I sae changed, that ye dinna ken
yer auld freend, Richie Goldie?" And he advanced to take her hand. The
girl started from his touch, with a cold shudder, and muttered--

"Is it no gane yet?"

"What is't ye're speakin o', Ellen? There's nought here but yersel and
me? Can ye no speak to me? It sets ye ill to turn the cauld shouther to
an auld freend."

The girl now looked at him for a moment fearfully over her shoulder, and
exclaimed, with a start of joy--

"Oh! I believe it's himsel!"

"Why, wha else did ye tak me for, Ellen?"

"For yer wraith, Richie; they tell't me ye were dead."

"And wha tell't ye sic a lee?"

"He tell't me sae himsel."

"And wha was he?"

"Ned Cummin: he said he saw ye dee."

"Ned Cummin! Why the lassie's head's in a creel. Ned drowned himsel,
puir chiel! in Madras Roads; and mony a sair thocht has it gien me that
we war unfreends when we parted."

"Weel, Richie, a' I ken is, that it's Gude's truth that Ned Cummin
tell't me ye were dead--and I believed him." And the tears gushed from
her eyes as she said so. "But come ben the hoose, and see my faither."

Old Grey was at first as much alarmed as his daughter at the apparition,
as he thought it, of Richard Goldie; for they both were infected with
the superstition of the country, and firmly believed in the doctrine of
wraiths, bogles, and other supernatural appearances.

"And, noo," said the old man, "that we ken that ye're yersel, and no yer
wraith, sit doun and tell us a' that's happened ye sin ye gaed awa."

"I hae nae time 'enow," said Richard; "I maun awa hame; for I haena seen
my ain folk yet--mair's the shame; but I'll come back the morn's morn,
and gie ye my cracks."

"But Richie, my man, hae ye no heard--d'ye no ken?" said the old man,

"What's happened?" cried Goldie, alarmed. "Are they no a' weel at hame?"

"They heard ye were dead, Richie: and ye ken, they aye said that ye war
the life o' their hearts--they were never like the same folk again; the
grass o' Caerlav'rock kirkyard is green abune their heads."

Goldie was staggered by this unexpected and distressing intelligence; he
had loved his parents with the fondest affection, and the hope of
cheering and supporting them in their declining years had been the
mainspring of his activity and industry. He covered his face with his
hands, and remained for some moments silent; and at last, with a sudden
outburst of grief, exclaimed--

"Gane! baith gane! and I am left alane without a leevin freend, or a
roof to shelter me!"

"Yese no want either, Richie, as lang's I'm to the fore. Come, bide whar
ye are; ye'll aye be welcome for the sake o' langsyne. I hae aften
wished, and I ance thocht, that oor Ellen and you micht come thegither;
but it wasna to be."

"And what for can it no be?" said Richie, forgetting his recent loss for
the moment, and looking at Ellen. But she burst into tears, and left the

Goldie, surprised at her emotion, asked the reason of it; and the old
man, in explanation, told him the story we have already related, and
expressed his surprise at Cummin's conduct, and his wonder as to what
could be his motive for such deception.

"What for did he tell us ye were dead, Richie?"

"I see it a' noo," said Richard: "when I struck him to the ground, he
swore he would hae revenge--and sair revenge has he taen. My puir
faither and mither! What had they dune?" And the poor fellow hung down
his head, and sobbed aloud.

"But what could hae garred him leave our Ellen?"

"Oh, he kent that I liked Ellen, and jaloused that she thocht mair o' me
than o' himsel; and he just married her to spite me, and to be revenged
upon her for slighting him at first. But there's a time for a' things;
if I get a grip on him, he's repent it."

It was long before Goldie was able to bear up against the disappointment
of all his fondest hopes; and when the first violence of his grief was
past, the springiness and buoyancy of his disposition seemed to have
left him entirely. He became grave and thoughtful, a smile was scarcely
ever seen to brighten his countenance, and he went about his usual
occupations with a sort of dogged indifference, as if it mattered not to
him how they were performed, and as if they were to him a mere
mechanical and tiresome duty. Yet he loved Ellen Grey as fondly as ever;
but she was now, though deserted, the wife of another, and he assumed a
coldness of manner, to conceal the warm feelings which still reigned but
too powerfully in his breast. He was _reserved_, because he felt a kind
of painful pleasure in brooding in silence over his sorrows. In thinking
of his poor parents, and of Ellen Grey, who might have been his wife but
for another, he would mutter threats of retaliation upon the
cold-blooded villain who had caused him so much misery. He would fain
have left a place which, much as he loved it, only kept awake so many
painful recollections, had he not been withheld from doing so by a
strong feeling of gratitude to old Grey, who was now unable to work for
his own subsistence, and depended almost entirely upon him for his daily
support. Ellen herself, who was much liked in the neighbourhood, and
whose story had excited much interest among the neighbouring gentry,
obtained a good deal of employment as a dressmaker, which enabled her
not only to assist in the support of her father, but likewise to procure
many luxuries for him which he otherwise could not have obtained. At
length, after lingering for some months in a state of gradual decay, the
old man died, and Goldie, after having seen Ellen comfortably settled in
a neighbouring family, took an affectionate farewell of her, and went
to Liverpool in search of employment. No accounts had been heard of
Cummin, although nearly two years had elapsed since his disappearance;
and Goldie, who could not forget his love for Ellen Grey, was kept in a
state of most unpleasant uncertainty.

Richard had been for a short time in Liverpool, and was walking one day
on the Clarence Dock, as some carts were being unloaded. The horse in
one of them took fright at some passing object, and dashed off at full
speed. A sailor, who was standing on the dock, ran forward and attempted
to stop it; but was instantly knocked down with great violence, and the
wheel of the cart passed over his head. Richard, who was close to the
spot, hastened to his assistance; and was horrified at the sight that
met his eyes. The poor fellow was senseless; his arm appeared to be
broken, and his face, dreadfully disfigured, was covered with gore and
dust. Richard raised his head on a log of wood lying near, loosened his
collar, and, a crowd instantly collecting, requested some of them to run
for the nearest doctor. He then, with the assistance of some of the
bystanders, conveyed the poor sufferer into one of the houses near,
where he lay for some time panting and groaning; but apparently quite

After they had all gone, the wounded man turned to Richard, and, looking
in his face, gave a heavy sigh.

"Are ye in much pain?" said Goldie.

"Pain of mind more than pain of body, Richard Goldie," replied the man,
in feeble and imperfect accents. "Do you not know me?"

"Mercifu powers!" exclaimed Richie; "sure it canna be Ned Cummin?"

"It _is_ Edward Cummin, Richie, your false friend, your once bitter
enemy, that lies bruised, and crushed, and broken-spirited before you.
Can you forgive me?--can you forgive a dying and a penitent man?"

"Ned Cummin," said Richard, "ye hae dune me grievous wrang; but I forgie
ye wi' a' my heart."

"Thanks, dear Richie!--this is more than I deserved. Now I shall die

"Speak nae mair, Ned; ye heard what the doctor said."

"But I _must_ speak, Richie, while time is mine. Oh, that a few years
were allowed me, to prove my repentance sincere! But I feel that is not
to be. Death is before me, Richie, and I see things in a very different
light now. You were always better than me; you were frank, and open, and
confiding; I was a proud, revengeful hypocrite, and I hated you because
I always _felt_ myself to be one when you were near me. When you struck
me to the earth, the feeling of revenge was aroused within me; but it
was long before I could contrive how to gratify it. At last I thought of
Ellen Grey; I knew you loved her, and I fancied she had deserted me for
you; I determined to be revenged upon you both. I wooed and won, and
then deserted her. But the terrors of an accusing conscience went with
me, and I had resolved to return homewards, when the accident occurred.
Richard, I am dying! Cruel and revengeful as I have been, can you still
forgive me?"

"I do, I do, from my heart," sobbed Richard.

"Bless you for saying so! Now leave me to my own thoughts, that I may
make my peace with Heaven."

Next morning Edward Cummin was no more. Goldie was with him in his last
moments, and was gratified by the conviction that he departed in a happy
frame of mind. After having attended the remains to their last home, he
gave up his intention of going abroad, and turned his steps homeward.
Having arrived, he sought Ellen, and communicated to her the sad news.
His love for her was as strong as ever; and all obstacles to their union
having been removed, they were soon afterwards wedded--a union very
different from the former marriage into which Ellen had been betrayed.


The war of reason against the prejudices of superstition has been a long
one. It followed on the heels of the crusades of superstition against
reason. How different the spirit, tactics, and results of the two!
Cruelty, injustice, blood, the burning stake, and an _increase_ of the
strength of the persecuted, on the one side; on the other, argument,
persuasion, and, at the worst, a harmless satire, with the almost _total
extinction_ of the cowardly foe, who, having no refuge but in the dark
recesses of ignorance, required only to be brought to light to suffer
extermination. Auguries and divinations ruled the world for two thousand
years, and were put an end to by the Christian faith, which left
untouched the power of witches, ghosts, and dreams. The first of these,
notwithstanding all the probation of King James, have perished; the
second, maugre the arguments of Johnson, have left this earth; but the
third, which has had a thousand supporters between Artemant Milesius and
Lord Monboddo, still retain some authority in the world. We support them
not; but we subscribe to the opinion of Peter Bayle, who stated, in
reference to the reality of the dream of the Spanish Jesuit, Maldonat,
there are many things appertaining to dreams which have troubled and
perplexed strong spirits more than they have been ever willing to
confess. We are now to add one instance more to those of which the same
author has said the world is almost already full; but we again protest
against the inference of our own belief in oneirology.

About half-way between the towns of Hamilton and Glasgow, there stand,
at the distance of about a quarter-of-a-mile from the highway, and on
the left as you approach the latter place, the remains of what was once
a small farmhouse. It is now long since the last inhabitant left this
little humble domicile, whose handful of ruins would perhaps excite but
little attention from the passer-by, were they not so delightfully and
conspicuously situated. They stand on the very extremity and summit of a
beautiful green promontory, of considerable height, that projects into
and overlooks a lovely strath, skirted with wood, and through which
winds one of the prettiest and best trouting streams in Scotland. The
situation, therefore, of these humble ruins invests them with an
interest which would by no means attach to them, were they situated in a
less romantic locality.

Of the farmhouse of which we speak there now remain only one of the
gables and a portion of the side-walls; but, if your curiosity tempt you
to further investigation, you may still trace the limits of the little
_kail-yard_, which lay immediately behind it; and, struggling for an
obscure existence with the rude bramble, which has now usurped the place
of the homely but civilised vegetation of the little garden, may be seen
a solitary rose, the last and almost only trace of its former
cultivation. The little garden, in short, is now all but obliterated,
and can only be distinguished by the low irregular green mound--once its
wall--that forms the boundary of its limits.

There is nothing in all this, perhaps, to excite any particular
interest; for we have rarely any sympathy for the humble and the lowly.
In the case of such vestiges of bygone days as those alluded to, it is
only the ruined castle, the half-filled moat, and the crumbling walls of
mighty masonry, that excite our curiosity, and set our imagination to
work--not the handful of loose stones that once formed the cottage of
the obscure peasant, not the little rudely-cultivated patch that formed
his Eden. These are by far too commonplace and too undignified to
attract a moment's notice, or to excite a moment's interest. Yet the
cottage has its tale as well as the castle, as we will presently show.

About the year 1760, the farmhouse of which we have spoken was inhabited
by John Edmonstone--a man of excellent character, and who, humble as his
station was, had contrived, in the course of a long life of industry and
economy, to scrape together a very considerable sum of money, besides a
good deal of property invested in stock, such as cattle, grain, farming
implements, &c. The former--namely, the cash--according to the good old
custom of Scotland, amongst John's class, was stowed into a
stocking-foot, which again was stowed into a certain hole in the wall,
known only to the members of the family. But, ignoble and odd as this
depository may seem, it yet contained no inconsiderable treasure, and
that not a whit the worse or less valuable for the homeliness of its
abode. In one end of the stocking aforesaid was a bulbous swelling, as
large as a well-sized fist. This contained a tempting store of bright
and shining guineas, to the number of about, perhaps, 250. These being
at once confined and secured by a string tightly tied round the
stocking, produced the appearance above alluded to. Next followed, but
in the same general depository--namely, the stocking--a huge
conglomeration of crowns, half-crowns, and shillings, to the amount of
about £50 more, which were also secured by a tight ligature--thus
giving, if there had been another link or two to the stocking, something
the appearance of a string of sausages.

At the period of our story, John Edmonstone was a widower, with two
daughters--the one, at this time, about twenty, the other some four or
five years older. They were both unmarried, and lived with their father.
Jane Edmonstone, the younger of the two, was a very pretty and
interesting-looking girl. Her sister Mary did not possess such striking
personal advantages; but this was amply compensated by a pleasant manner
and a kind and gentle disposition. For many years these relatives lived
happily together, in their little, lonely cottage at Braehead. They led
a sober, industrious, and pious life; for, duly as the evening came
round, the "big ha' Bible" was placed on the kitchen-table, and, by the
light of a clean and well-trimmed lamp, aided by the blaze of a cheerful
fire, John read aloud to his daughters from the sacred page. But the
best regulated life must have an end, as well as the most reckless and
abandoned. John was suddenly seized with a mortal illness, of which he
shortly died, leaving his two daughters sole and equal inheritors of his
wealth. The death of their father was a grievous calamity to the two
unprotected girls; for they were without relatives--at least, there were
none near them--though certainly not without those who wished them well,
as they were universally respected in their own neighbourhood, both on
their father's account and their own. Yet did they feel, on the death of
their only parent, a sense of loneliness and of inability to cope with
the world, which at once alarmed and dispirited them, notwithstanding
the considerable resources which their father's industry and economy had
secured to them. Nor did their local situation tend to lessen the former
feeling; for it was a solitary one--the house in which they lived being
at a considerable distance from any other habitation. The neighbourhood
in which they resided, moreover, was a loose one. It was filled with
coal-miners and coal-carters--the latter, in particular, a brutal,
ruffian race; and to all these the poor solitary women believed it to be
well known, as it certainly was to a great many of them, that their
father had left them money, and that it was in the house; and thus, to
their other fears, was added the dread of their dwelling being broken
into, and themselves robbed and murdered.

It was while living in this state of feverish alarm and utter
helplessness--for they found they could not conduct the business of the
farm--and about a fortnight after the death of their father, that Jane,
the youngest of the sisters, suddenly awoke, early in the morning, from
a troubled sleep, and sprang from her bed, in an agony of terror and
affright, exclaiming, as she hurried on her clothes--

"O Mary, Mary! we'll stay here no longer. Not another day--not another
day. I'll go into Glasgow this forenoon, and consult with our uncle
about selling off, and removing into the city. We will not stay here,
Mary, to be robbed and murdered."

"I am as uneasy remaining here as you can be, Jane," replied her sister,
now more than ever alarmed by the latter's wild looks and unusual
excitement; "but what is the meaning of this sudden outcry?"

"It does not matter, it does not matter, Mary," said Jane, in great
agitation, and still hurrying on her clothes; "but I'll go this day to
Glasgow, and consult our uncle." And, without vouchsafing any
explanation of the cause of this sudden determination, so peremptorily
expressed, she shortly afterwards took a hasty breakfast, and, in a few
minutes more, was on the road to Glasgow, a distance of from four to
five miles.

The uncle whom Jane proposed to consult on this occasion was a brother
of her mother's, named James Davidson. He was in poor circumstances, and
had been so all his life; and, whether from this or some other cause, he
had never stood high in the favour of his brother-in-law. He was a
hard-featured old man, stern and morose, and without any of that patient
forbearance of disposition and manner which gives to age so pleasing and
amiable a character. Davidson, as we have said, was poor. He had never
been able to improve his circumstances, or to rise above the condition
of a labourer. There he started, and there he was still. Nor did his
eldest son promise to be more fortunate in the world. He inherited his
father's disposition, which was an unhappy one; was idly inclined; and,
somehow or other, could never gain the good-will of any one. Neither
Jane nor Mary Edmonstone had ever seen much of their uncle; their
father's dislike to him prevented this. Neither did they know much about
his circumstances or character; the same cause preventing all
intercourse between the families. They, in short, only knew of their
uncle's existence by his frequent applications to their father for the
loan of money, which he invariably refused. Still, he was their uncle,
and the nearest relative they had, and, in their present circumstances,
they naturally looked on him as the fittest person to consult regarding
their affairs, their wishes and intentions. These Jane now laid before
the old man, who received her kindly, notwithstanding his usual asperity
of manner; telling him, at the same time, that she and her sister were
resolved, at all hazards, and at whatever loss, to sell off at Braehead,
and take up their residence in Glasgow; "for," said she, "we are day and
night in danger of our lives yonder; and besides, we are wholly unable
to conduct our father's business--buying and selling cattle--or to carry
on the affairs of the farm. These are things that we cannot do--and
neither need we, as we have enough to live upon without it. All that we
want is safety."

The old man heard her patiently, and it was some time before he made any
reply. At length he said--

"Yes, enough to live upon, I daresay you have. How much did your father
leave, Jane?--in money, I mean."

"Somewhat about three hundred pounds," replied his niece.

"A good round sum," said the old man, "to be all in hard money. And is
it all past you--all in the house?"


Davidson thought for a moment. Then--"Well, I'll tell you what it is,
Jane," he said: "I do not at all approve of your leaving Braehead. If
you do so, you throw yourselves at once upon your little capital, which
will not last you very long in a town like this, where all would be
going out, and nothing coming in--and where would you be when it was
exhausted? Now, your byres and farm in the country are a certain source
of emolument to you; and, by keeping these, you will make a decent
maintenance of it, without encroaching on the funds left you by your
father. My advice to you, then, Jane, is, by all means to remain where
you are. Hire persons to do your heavy out-of-door work; and, as the
distance is not great, I will come out myself once or twice a week, and
assist you with both my personal services and advice."

"Thank you, uncle," replied his niece; "but we really cannot remain at
Braehead, on any account. I would not remain in it another week for any

"No! what for, Jane? What are you afraid of?" said her uncle.

"Of being murdered," replied Jane; "and I have but too good reason to
fear it."

"Nonsense, Jane. Who would murder you? What ridiculous fears are

"But I have a reason, though, for fearing it, uncle," replied his niece,
with emphasis.

"Reason!--what reason can you have but your own idle and absurd fears?"

"Yet I have, though, uncle," said Jane, pertinaciously, but appearing
somewhat confused and embarrassed.

"What do you mean, girl?" said her uncle, fixing his keen grey eye upon
her countenance scrutinisingly; for he observed her embarrassment. "What
_is_ this reason of yours for so unreasonable a fear?"

"Well, uncle, I'll tell you what it is at once," replied Jane: "I had a
most frightful dream last night. I dreamed that a soldier--a tall,
fierce-looking man--broke into our house in the middle of the night,
with a drawn bayonet in his hand; that he murdered my sister before my
eyes--I saw her blood streaming on the floor; and that, having done
this, he seized me by the hair of the head, and was about to plunge his
bayonet into my heart, when I awoke. It was a horrible dream, uncle, and
has made such an impression on me--it was so fearfully true--that I
cannot think of abiding longer in the house. It was this frightful dream
that urged me in to see you to-day. I have not told my sister of it; for
it would put her distracted."

Jane's uncle listened patiently, but with a smile of contemptuous
incredulity, to the strange dream of his niece; and when she had done--

"Pho, pho! what stuff!" he said--"what absurd stuff! How can you be so
silly, girl, as even to speak seriously, let alone putting any faith in
such nonsense as this?"

"I cannot help it," interrupted Jane.

"Well, well--perhaps you cannot," continued Davidson; "but it is not the
less ridiculous for that; and, if it were known, it would certainly get
you laughed at. Pay no attention to such trash, Jane. Think no more of
it; but return to Braehead, and proceed with your usual occupations, and
I will come out in a day or two, to see how you get on."

To this he added the advice which he had already given, and in nearly
the same words, but in vain. Nothing could drive the girl from her
purpose--from her determination to leave Braehead. Finding this--

"Well, then," said her uncle, "at least remain where you are for a day
or two, when I will come out and assist you in your arrangements, and in
the disposal of your effects; you cannot manage these matters

To this proposal Jane yielded a reluctant consent, but repeated her
determination to leave the place as soon as possible, and to come into
Glasgow to reside.

On this understanding, then--namely, that Jane and her sister should
remain at Braehead until their uncle came out--the former returned home,
when she told Mary of all that had passed, excepting what related to
her dream, to which, for the reason she had herself assigned, she
carefully avoided all allusion. By a very strange coincidence,
however--but, though strange, by no means unprecedented--the considerate
caution of Jane, in the particular just spoken of, was soon after
rendered unavailing. On the very next morning, the elder sister awoke,
in an exactly similar state of perturbation with that in which Jane had
arisen on that preceding, exclaiming--

"O Jane, Jane! I have had a frightful dream!"

"What was it, Mary?" inquired her sister, in great alarm, recollecting
her own frightful vision.

"O Jane!" replied the former, still trembling with terror, "I dreamed
that a person in the dress of a soldier broke in at our back-window, and
murdered us both. O God! it was horrible! I think I see you on the floor
there, struggling with your murderer, who held a naked dagger in his
hand, with which he had already stabbed you in several places."

"Gracious God protect us!" exclaimed Jane, leaping to the floor, in a
state of alarm exceeding even that of her sister. "This is dreadful! Oh,
these are fearful warnings! It can no longer be doubted--it can no
longer be doubted! O Mary, Mary! I dreamed precisely the same thing last
night; and it was that, though I did not tell you, that hurried me in to
our uncle yesterday. I told him of my dream; but he treated it with
contempt. He will surely now acknowledge that it is a warning not to be

We need not interrupt our narrative at this point, by stopping to
describe further Jane's feelings on hearing of this strange and
appalling repetition of her own frightful vision. These feelings were
dreadful. She grew pale as death, and shook like an aspen leaf. On their
first terrors subsiding a little, the two sisters began to consult as to
what they should do, to avoid the horrible fate with which they now had
no doubt they were threatened; and finally resolved that, if their uncle
did not appear on that day--or, indeed, whether he appeared or not--they
would, on the next, remove to Glasgow, taking with them all their ready
money, and whatever other things they could conveniently remove, and
leave the rest, for a time, under the charge of a neighbouring farmer,
who had been an intimate friend of their father's. They, in short,
resolved that, in any event, they would remain only one other night at

Before proceeding further with our story, we would beg the reader to
observe, that the circumstances we are now relating occurred in the year
1760, in the month of January. It was a winter of great severity, and
remarkable for the amazing quantity of snow that fell; but one of the
wildest days of that wild season was the 21st day of the month above
named. It was the same day in which the scene between the two sisters
which we have just related occurred.

The storm, bearing huge drifts of snow on its wings, which had been
raging all day, increased as night approached; and, when darkness had
fallen upon the earth, it became tremendous. The trees around the little
cottage of Braehead bent before the wind like willow wands; and loud and
wild, nay, even appalling, was the rushing sound of the storm amongst
the leafless branches. The snow, too, was whirling all around, in
immense dense masses, and overwhelming every object whose height they
surpassed in their cumbrous layers of white. It was in truth a fearful
night, and such a one as no person long exposed to it could possibly
have survived. Dreadful in particular to the lonely traveller, who was
seeking a distant refuge, and whose urgencies required that he should do
battle with the storm; and many a harrowing tale was afterwards told of
the shepherd and wayfarer who had perished in the terrible night of the
21st of January, 1760.

While the tempest is thus howling about the little lonely cottage of
Braehead, and the huge wreaths of snow are blocking up door and window,
what are its two solitary inmates about? There they are, the two
unprotected women--all their previous fears increased tenfold by the
awful sounds without, and their sense of loneliness and helplessness
deepened into unendurable intensity. There they are, we say, sitting by
their fire, pale and trembling, one on each side of the chimney--for
they are afraid to go to bed--listening in silent awe to the raging of
the storm.

It was only at long intervals that the two sisters exchanged words on
this dreary night, and then it was little more than a brief exclamation
or remark, excited by some sudden and violent gust that swept over their
little cottage, or roared amongst the trees with a fury exceeding the
general tenor of the storm. To bed they could not think of going. They
therefore continued by the fire, where they sat almost without moving
for many hours.

It was now late, perhaps about twelve o'clock, and the storm was at its
height, when the fears of the two lonely sisters were suddenly wrought
up to a horrible climax, by a loud rapping at the door, which, again,
was instantly followed by the sound of a voice imploring admittance. In
the first moment of alarm, the women leaped from their seats and flew to
different corners of the apartment, screaming hideously, having no doubt
that their fatal dream was now about to be realised. From this terror,
however, they were gradually in some measure relieved by the
supplicatory language and tones of the person seeking admittance.

"For God's sake, open the door!" he said--for it was the voice of a
man--"or I must perish. I have already travelled fifteen miles in the
storm, and am now so benumbed and exhausted that I cannot move another
step. Open the door, I say, if you have the smallest spark of humanity
in you, and give me shelter till daylight."

Somewhat reassured by these appeals, which had in them so little of a
hostile character, and to which circumstances gave so truthful a
complexion, Jane, the younger of the two sisters, asked the elder, in a
low voice, what they should do. "Shall we admit him?" she said; "for it
really seems to be a person in distress, and it would be cruel to refuse
him shelter in such a night as this. We could never forgive ourselves,
Mary, if the poor man should perish in the storm."

"It is true, Jane," replied her sister--"we could not indeed. We will
admit him, and trust the result to God. He will not allow a deed of
charity and benevolence to be turned into an instrument of crime."
Saying this, Mary approached the door, and, placing her hand on the bar,
put one other query ere she undid it. "Are you," she said, addressing
the person without--"are you really in the situation you represent
yourself to be?"

"Before God, I am!" replied the voice from without, emphatically. "Admit
me for heaven's sake! You have nothing to fear from me."

In the next instant the bolt was withdrawn, the door flew open, and in
walked a man in the garb of a soldier. The brass plate on his cap
glittered in the light of the lamp held by the younger sister, who stood
at some distance from the door, and from beneath the greatcoat he wore
peeped the dreaded red livery of the king. One fearful and simultaneous
shriek from the sisters, as they fled frantically into the interior of
the house, told of this horrid realisation of their dreams. The soldier,
in the meantime, walked into the kitchen; but any one who should at this
instant have marked his countenance, would have seen very little in it
to indicate the fell purpose for which there seemed good reason to fear
he had come. He was, in truth, a young, handsome, and singularly
good-looking man, with a face expressive of great good-nature and
mildness of disposition. Little regarding these indications of a
character so different from that which occupied their minds, the
sisters continued to express their horror and alarm in wild shrieks, and
in the most piteous appeals for mercy. On their bent knees they implored
it; offering all they had, if their lives were only spared. The soldier,
benumbed and exhausted though he was, seemed to forget his own
sufferings in contemplating what he appeared to consider as a most
extraordinary and unaccountable scene--the terrified sisters on their
knees, imploring his mercy.

"Good women," he at length said, "what is the meaning of this? What are
you afraid of? Is there anything in my appearance so dreadful as to
excite this extraordinary alarm? If there be, I never knew it before;
and am very sorry to find it out now. I am sure I intend you no
harm--none in the world. God forbid I should! I am but too grateful to
you for having opened your door to me; and but too happy to get near
this cheerful fire."

Again somewhat calmed by these friendly expressions, so different from
what they had expected, the sisters ceased their frantic cries for
mercy; and, though yet far from being reconciled to their tremendous
visiter, they became a little more composed when the soldier, perceiving
the effects of his disclamations, followed them up by repeated
assurances of the perfect innocence of his intentions, and of the
perfectly accidental and harmless nature of his visit. These
asseverations, delivered, as they were, in a mild and conciliatory tone,
eventually induced the sisters not only to look with less alarm on their
unwelcome guest, but to desire him to take a seat by the fire. We will
not say, however, that this act of kindness was dictated by pure
benevolence. We will not say that it was not done more with a view to
disarm their still dreaded visiter of any hostile intentions he might
entertain towards them, than from any feeling of compassion. Be this as
it may, however, the soldier, after throwing off his snow-covered
greatcoat, gladly availed himself of the invitation of his hostesses,
and sat him down before the fire.

"Now, my good friends," he said, after having warmed himself a little,
and having still further abated the terrors of the sisters by more kind
and gentle words, "will you be so good as tell me why you were so much
afraid of me when I first entered the house?--for I cannot understand
it--seeing that you yourselves opened the door, and of your own accord,
and must, therefore, have been prepared to see somebody or other. Was it
my cap and red coat that frightened you so? Come, tell me now,

The sisters looked to each other with a faint smile, and an air of
embarrassment; but with an expression of inquiry which said as plainly
as an unspoken expression could say it--"Shall we tell him?"

Their guest perceived their difficulty, and saw very clearly that there
was something to explain--something that they did not altogether like to
avow. Observing this--

"Come, now, out with it!" he said, laughingly, "and, depend upon it, I
shall not be the least offended, however uncomplimentary it may be to

"Well, then," said the younger sister, "I _will_ tell you. Both my
sister and I dreamed very lately, that a soldier came into this house
here, as you have done, and murdered us. We both dreamed the same dream
at different times, and without its being previously known to either of
us. Now, you'll allow that there was little wonder that we should have
been so much alarmed at your appearance."

"Odd enough," said the soldier, laughing; "but, in my opinion, very
particular nonsense. Had you dreamed of a soldier coming to court you,
it would have been a much more likely thing, and you would have had a
better chance of seeing it realised, I should think, than that he should
have come to murder you."

"But why were you abroad in such a night as this, and at such an hour?"
inquired the elder sister, whose fears, as well as those of Jane, were
by no means entirely allayed by this familiarity. "Where were you going
to, and whence came you?"

"Why, I'll tell you all about that, mistress," replied the soldier,
"when I have filled this pipe." And he proceeded to the operation of
which he spoke. When he had done, and had expirated a whiff or two--Now,
I'll tell you (he said) how it happens that I am out in such an infernal
night as this. Depend upon it, it was not with my will. I belong to the
50th Regiment, now stationed in Glasgow, and have been absent on
furlough, seeing my poor old mother in the south country, where she
resides. I had not seen her, poor soul! for several years; and as she
was unwilling to part with me again, I was obliged to stay with her to
the last moment of my time. My furlough expired yesterday, and I was
anxious to get on to quarters before it was out; for we have got a devil
of a fellow in our commanding officer: and this is the reason why I was
so late upon the road in such a night. I wanted to save my distance, and
avoid a bothering. But it wouldn't do--I was obliged to knock under.

I found my poor mother (went on the soldier) in much better
circumstances than I expected to find her; for my father left her in
great poverty and with a large family; but a rather curious occurrence
gave her a lift in the world, in her own humble way, about a couple of
years ago, of which she still reaps the benefit. Mother, you see, is a
very pious woman, and she attributes it all to Providence, saying that
it was the Divine interference in her behalf. However this may be, it
was a very simple affair, and all natural enough.

In mother's neighbourhood, you see--she lives in a remote parish in the
south of Scotland--there resides a fellow of the name of Tweedie--Tom
Tweedie. Tom is a cattle-dealer to business, and is well to pass in the
world--a lively, active, bustling little scamp he is, and extremely fond
of a practical joke, in which he often indulges at the expense of his
neighbours. Amongst those who suffer most severely by his waggery is a
good-natured man of the name of Brydon--Peter Brydon, a farmer who lives
close by him--that is, at the distance of about a mile or so. Well, on
this person, who is his favourite butt, Tweedie has played innumerable
tricks--all, indeed, of a harmless character, but some of them
sufficiently annoying. Either from want of opportunity, or what is more
likely, from want of genius, Peter never could accomplish any
retaliation--a circumstance which tended greatly to increase the fever
of agitation in which Tweedie's superior dexterity and ingenuity in the
way of practical joking constantly kept him. At length, however, chance
threw in Peter's way what he considered an excellent opportunity of
annoying his mischievous neighbour in turn.

Passing the gable of Tweedie's house one morning, pretty early, on
horseback (the road he was travelling led close by it), Peter saw a huge
wooden dish of oat-meal porridge smoking on the top of the wall of the
house-yard. It was intended for the breakfast of the family, and had
been put out there to cool. On seeing the dish of porridge, Peter,
struck with a bright idea, instantly drew bridle, and, after
contemplating it for an instant, rode up to it, and having previously
looked carefully around him to see that nobody marked his motions, he
lifted the dish from its place, porridge and all, placed it before him
on the saddle, brought his plaid over it so as to conceal it, and rode
off rejoicing with his prize. Well, you see, it happens that my mother's
house lies close by the road on which he had to travel, and at the
distance of about a mile from the place where the robbery had been
committed. Now, it struck Peter that he could not do better than leave
the dish of porridge there, where he knew there was a houseful of
children, who would clear all out in a twinkling; but he did not
know--for my mother had carefully concealed her poverty from her
neighbours--how seasonable would be the supply which he now proposed to
bring them. On that morning, the children had no breakfast of their own
to take. There was not a morsel in the house to give them. Having made
up his mind as to the disposal of the dish of porridge, Peter made
directly up to my mother's door, and, without dismounting, rapped with
the butt-end of his whip. My mother came out.

"Here," said Peter, handing down the stolen mess; "here's a dish of
porridge I have brought for the children's breakfast."

"Porridge!" exclaimed my mother, in amazement, and at the same time
blushing deeply, from a conviction that her poverty had been detected,
"how, in all the world, came you to think of bringing porridge to me, Mr

This was a question which Peter had but little inclination to answer. He
therefore waived it.

"Hoot, hoot, guidwife," he replied, "what does that signify? There they
are--that's enough--and a capital mess, I warrant ye, your young anes
will find them. So let them fa' to wark as fast's they like, and muckle
guid may't do them! It'll save you the trouble, at ony rate, guidwife,
of making a breakfast of your own."

My mother having now no doubt that her neighbour knew of her destitute
condition--of which, however, he, in reality, knew nothing--and that his
gift was one of pure benevolence, rising the corner of her apron to her
eyes, thanked him with such expressions of humble gratitude as gave him
full information regarding what she thought he already knew--her
straitened circumstances. Peter made no remark, at the time, on my
mother's confession of poverty, and said little or nothing in reply to
what she addressed to him, but rode on his way.

Well, it happened that, on this very day, my mother went to Tweedie's
house with some yarn she had been spinning for his wife, who
occasionally employed her in that way, when the latter, amongst other
things, informed her of the robbery of the porridge; adding, however,
that she cared little about the mess, and only regretted the loss of her
dish, which, she said, was an excellent one of its kind.

"If they would only bring me the basin back," she said, "they are
welcome, whoever took it, to its contents."

The blood rushed to my mother's face. She remained for some moments in
silent confusion; but at length said--her face as red as crimson--

"Mrs. Tweedie, your dish is safe; it is in my house, but the porridge is

"In your house, Mrs. Johnston!" (that is my mother's name)--"my basin in
your house! How does that happen?" replied Mrs. Tweedie, with a look of
surprise, and something like displeasure.

My mother detailed the circumstances as already related; and, thinking
herself compelled to acknowledge her poverty, as an apology for having
made use of the porridge, she fairly stated her condition; saying,
amongst other things, that when it came she had not a morsel in the

Mrs. Tweedie rated my mother for not having told her before of her
situation, and concluded by promising that neither she nor her children
should ever again want a meal as long as she had one to give them; and
she instantly loaded her with as many potatoes as she could carry home.
Her husband, who was present on this occasion, enjoyed the joke
exceedingly, and gave the chosen victim of his own wit, Brydon, great
credit for his trick. He further expressed himself highly pleased that
the latter had taken the dish of porridge to my mother, seeing that she
stood so much in need of them. To make a long story short (added the
soldier), both Tweedie and Brydon, who were good kind-hearted men, from
this moment that my mother's necessities were thus so strangely made
known to them, took her under their especial patronage.

On the following day, Brydon sent her as much meal and potatoes as
lasted her a month; each of them took one of my brothers into their
service; their wives gave her as much spinning as she could execute; and
a complement of provisions, sometimes of one kind and sometimes of
another, has been sent her alternately and regularly ever since by the
two benevolent jokers. From that day to this, old mother, has never been
in want; and when speaking of the occurrence says, that the day on which
Peter Brydon brought the dish of stolen porridge to her door was the
luckiest in her life.

Here the soldier finished his story and his pipe together. Both the
matter of his little tale and his manner of telling it tended
considerably to calm the apprehensions of his hostesses, and to disabuse
them, in spite of their dream, of much of the unfavourable opinion they
had entertained of his intentions. Still, however, they felt by no means
secure, and would even yet have readily given the half, perhaps the
whole, of the money in the house, to have been quit of him. Nor were the
fears that yet remained lessened by their having discovered, which they
had not done for some time after he had entered, that he wore his
bayonet by his side. On this formidable weapon the two poor women looked
with inexpressible horror; having a strong feeling of apprehension that
it was the dreadful instrument by which their destruction was to be
accomplished and their dream fulfiled. Now, too, the sisters detected
the fellow occasionally glancing around the house, with a most
suspicious look, as if calculating on future operations. He now, also,
began to put questions that greatly alarmed them--such as, Was there
nobody in the house but themselves? How far distant was the nearest
house? and guessing, with an apparently assumed air of jocularity, that
their father (they had informed him of his death) had left them a good
round sum in some corner or other? In short, his behaviour altogether
began again to grow extremely suspicious; and, perceiving this, the
sisters' fears returned with all their original force.

In the meantime, the storm without, so far from abating, had increased;
the dreary, rushing sound of the trees became fiercer and louder, and
the fitful gusts of wind more frequent and furious. It was now about one
o'clock of the morning, when, actuated by the same motives which had
induced them to ask their terrible guest to sit by the fire--namely, to
disarm him, by kindness, of any evil design he might entertain towards
them--the sisters now offered the soldier some refreshment. He gladly
accepted the offer. Food was placed before him, and he ate heartily.
When he had done, one of the sisters told him that there was a spare bed
in a closet to which she pointed, and that he might go to it if he
chose. With this offer he also gladly closed, and immediately retired.

The sisters, well pleased to have got their guest thus disposed
of--thinking it something like a sign of harmless intention on his
part--determined to sit themselves by the fire throughout the remainder
of the night. They were, then, thus sitting, and it might be about one
hour after the soldier had retired, listening with feverish watchfulness
to every sound, when they suddenly heard a noise as if of some one
forcing the door. At first the poor horrified women thought it was some
unusual sound produced by the storm, but, on listening again, there was
no doubt of the appalling fact. They heard distinctly the working of an
iron instrument, and the creaking of the door from its pressure. The
wretched women leaped from their seats, and again their wild shrieks
were heard rising above the noise of the tempest without. Awakened by
their alarming cries--for he had been fast asleep--the soldier started
from his bed, calling out, as he hurried on his clothes--

"What the devil is the matter now! By heaven! you are all mad."

"Oh, you know but too well what is the matter," replied one of the
sisters, in a voice faint and almost inarticulate with excessive
terror--"you know but too well what is the matter. These are some of the
other murderers of your gang forcing open the door. O God! in mercy
receive our souls!"

"My gang forcing the door! What the devil do you mean?" replied the
soldier, emerging from the closet. Then, after an instant--"By heaven!
it is so far true. There is some one breaking in, sure enough."

Saying this, he drew his bayonet, and ran to the door; but, ere he
gained it, it was forced open, and two men were in the act of entering,
one behind the other. On seeing the soldier, the foremost presented a
pistol to his head, and drew the trigger; but a click of the lock was
the only result. It missed fire. In the next instant the soldier's
bayonet was through the ruffian's body, and he fell, when he who was
behind him immediately fled. The soldier pursued him, but, after running
several hundred yards, gave up the chase as hopeless, and returned to
the house, where he found, to his great surprise, that the man whom he
had stabbed, and whom he thought he had killed outright, had
disappeared, and was nowhere to be seen.

On entering the house--"Well, my good women," said the soldier, "are you
now satisfied of the sincerity of my intentions towards you? Why, I
think I have saved your lives, in place of taking them."

"You have! you have!" exclaimed both the sisters at once. "And oh how
thankful are we to God, who alone could have sent you here to protect us
on this dreadful night!"

"It certainly was as well for you that I was here," replied the soldier,
modestly; "but have you any idea of who the villains could be?"

"None in the least," said the younger sister; "but this neighbourhood is
filled with bad characters, and we have no doubt it was some of
them--for all of them know, we believe, that our father left us a little
money. We have alwas dreaded this."

"In that case," said the soldier, "I would advise you to leave this
directly, and go to some place of greater safety."

The sisters told him that they had, for some time, meant to do so, and
that they intended going to Glasgow to reside.

What subsequently passed, on this eventful night, between the sisters
and their gallant protector, we will detail as briefly as we can, in
order to get at a more interesting part of our story. Having again
secured the door, the soldier sat with his hostesses by the fire till
daylight, when, having previously partaken of a plentiful breakfast, he
prepared to take the road. Just as he was about to leave the house, the
youngest sister approached him, and, after again expressing her
gratitude for the protection he had afforded them, slipped ten guineas
into his hand. The soldier looked at the glittering coins for an
instant, with a significant smile, and laying them down on a table that
stood by--

"Not a farthing," he said--"not a farthing shill I take. I consider
myself sufficiently paid by the shelter you afforded me. I was bound to
protect you while under your roof. By admitting me last night you saved
my live--and I have saved yours; so accounts are clear between us. This,
at any rate," he added laughingly, "will balance them." And,
soldier-like, he flung his arms around Jane's neck, and, ere she was
aware, had robbed her of half-a-dozen hearty kisses.

This theft committed, he ran out of the door; but was almost immediately
after called back again by the elder sister, who, on his return,
informed him, that, as Jane intended going into Glasgow on that day, to
inform her uncle of what had happened, and to make arrangements for
their instant removal from Braehead, she thought her sister could not do
better than avail herself of his company to the city, and go in with him
just now. "Besides," she said, "I should like you to see our uncle, if
you would be so good as take a step that length with Jane, as you will
be able to give a better account of the occurrences of last night than
she can, and may better convince him of the necessity of our leaving
this instantly. Indeed, I do not know if he would believe our story at
all of being attacked last night, unless you were to corroberate it. He
would think it was just an invention to get away, as he knows of our
anxiety to leave this."

The soldier was delighted with the proposal, and did not attempt to
conceal the satisfaction he felt at having Jane, who, as we have already
said, was a very pretty girl, for a companion into the city.

In a few minutes Jane was prepared for the journey, and in a very few
more she and the young soldier were upon the road; and, as the storm had
now entirely subsided, they got on without much difficulty. What
conversation passed between them on this occasion, we know not, and can
only conjecture from the result, which will be shortly laid before the
reader. That it was of a description, however, very agreeable to both,
there can be no doubt.

In the meantime, our business is to follow them into Glasgow, where they
arrive in little more than a couple of hours.

On reaching her uncle's with her companion, Jane was greatly
disappointed and rather surprised, to learn from one of her little
cousins--its mother being out of the way at the moment--that Davidson
was not at home, that he had gone to the country on the previous night,
and had not yet returned.

"Then where's your brother;" inquired Jane.

"He's gone to the country, too," said the child.

"Is he with your father?"


"Did he go last night also?"


"And don't you know where they went to, or when they will be home?"

The child could not tell.

At this moment the mother of the child came in, and at once accounted
for the absence of her husband and son, by saying that they had got work
at a distance of some miles from the town, naming the place, and that
she expected them home that day, although she could not say when.

As the days were short, and her uncle's return uncertain, Jane resolved
on going straight home again, and proposing to her sister that they
should, for that night, at any rate, remove, taking all their money
along with them, to the friend of their father's already alluded to,
whose name was Anderson. And this step the sisters accordingly took.

Leaving them thus disposed of for a short time, we shall return to their
uncle's house in Glasgow; and, by doing so, we shall find there some
things of a very extraordinary character occurring. Shortly after Jane
had left her uncle's that person came home, but he returned a very
different man from what he had set out. Strong, hale, and erect, though
somewhat stricken in years, when he went away he now appeared, as he
approached his own house, ghastly pale, bent nearly double, and
dreadfully weak and exhausted. He seemed, in short, to be suffering from
some excruciating pain. He could hardly get along without supporting
himself by the walls of the houses he passed. On entering his own house,
he went directly to bed, without speaking to any one, further than
telling his wife that he was very ill--that he had received a severe
injury by falling down amongst some loose timber, a pointed piece of
which, he said, had penetrated his chest. His wife, in great alarm,
proposed sending instantly for a surgeon; but this the wounded man would
by no means allow--saying that his wound, though painful, was not, he
thought, very serious, and that he had no doubt he would soon recover. A
few hours afterwards, however, finding himself getting much worse, he
not only allowed, but desired, that a surgeon should be sent for. One
was immediately procured. On examining the wound, he inquired of
Davidson how he had met with it. He was told, in reply, the same story
which we have just related.

"That cannot be true," said the surgeon. "Your wound has not been
inflicted by a splinter of wood, but by a sharp three-edged instrument.
It is a clean wound, and has all the appearance of having been inflicted
with a bayonet or some such weapon. Indeed I feel quite assured of this,
whatever may be your motives for concealing it."

Davidson repeated his asseverations of having come by his injury by
falling on a pointed piece of wood.

"Well, well, sir, my business is not how or by what means your wound has
been inflicted, but how it is to be cured," (During this time he was
examining the injury.) "But I fear," he added, "it is beyond my skill,
or that of any other human being. Your wound, I have every reason to
think, is mortal."

"Do you think so?" said the patient with great calmness and composure.

"I certainly do," replied the surgeon, "and I think it my duty to tell
you, that, if you have any worldly affairs to settle, the sooner you set
about it the better."

The patient made no reply for some time, but seemed absorbed in thought.
At length he said--

"Could you, sir, procure me a visit from a clergyman? I know none
myself, and it may be of consequence that I should see one. I have
something of importance to communicate."

The surgeon readily undertook to bring such a person as the dying man
desired to see, and immediately departed for that purpose, having
previously promised, at the earnest request of the sufferer himself,
that he would return along with him. "I wish to have you both together,"
he said, "It will be better that there are two."

In less than half-an-hour after, the surgeon returned with one of the
clergymen of the city. The moment they entered, Davidson requested the
former to shut the door, and to see that it was properly secured. This
done, he requested them to draw near him, when he began, in a low voice,
the astounding confession that it was he who had attempted to break into
the house of his nieces, and that it was he whom the soldier had stabbed
on that occasion. All this, indeed, the surgeon had previously
suspected; for he had heard of the attempted robbery, and of one of the
ruffians having been stabbed with a bayonet by a soldier; but did not,
till now, know anything of the relationship of the parties. Thus much
the dying man confessed; but he would not say, though pressed to tell,
who was his associate in the crime. This person, however, was
subsequently ascertained, beyond all doubt, to have been his son, as he
never came home, nor was ever afterwards seen or heard of by any one who
knew him. Having made this confession, the wretched man expired, and
that even before one word of intercession could be offered up in his
behalf by the attending clergyman.

Having brought this incident to a close, we return to the two sisters,
who were now residing with their father's friend, Anderson. This worthy
man now took an active interest in their affairs; and, approving of
their original intention of removing to Glasgow, did all he could to
further their views in this respect, by selling off the cattle, farming
utensils, &c., and stock of every kind.

Some days after their settlement in Glasgow, their friend Anderson
called on them, and remarked, in the course of conversation with them,
that he thought, now that they were all snug and safe, something ought
to be done for the soldier to whom they owed, not only a great part of
their little fortune, but in all probability their lives. At this moment
the young soldier entered. During the conversation that followed, Mr.
Anderson discovered that the young man would willingly be quit of the
army. This discovery he kept in recollection; and, when the soldier left
them, he proposed to the sisters to purchase his discharge, and to do so
without his knowledge. This was accordingly done on the very next day;
and in three weeks afterwards, Henry Johnston (which was the young
soldier's name), and Jane Edmonston were united in the bands of holy
wedlock. The former, whose dislike of the army, it subsequently
appeared, applied only to its subordinate situation--more definitely
speaking, to the condition of a private--soon after purchased a
lieutenant's commission with part of his wife's money, and finally died
a lieutenant-colonel, leaving behind him the reputation of a good man
and a gallant soldier.


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